Orbis Non Suffit (The World Is Not Enough)
Orbis non suffit (the world is not enough) for the beginnings challenge
Disclaimer: I lay no claim on our men from UNCLE or on Marc-Ange Draco, whose literary inception is due to Ian Fleming and cinematic incarnation is now property of Sony.
Author's Note: Many thanks to Sarah and Vivana's "Chains" for inspiring this piece, set post-Terbuf. You don't need to know anything about On Her Majesty's Secret Service (I'm working off the film version of Draco, although Casino Royale's Mathis keeps unintentionally bleeding in), but it doesn't hurt if you do. I swear never intend to slip in random James Bond references, but for some reason I always do.
My dear Alex,
I know you have never been fond of written correspondence, but there are certain matters that cannot and should not be condensed onto a microdot, and I must confess I still mistrust the security of electronic transmissions. I can only hope that THRUSH will never share your expertise in intercepting radio messages as so many of our wartime enemies were chagrined to discover.
I must confess that I was quite intrigued when you asked what I thought of your senior agents' relationship. Did you really believe that I would be convinced that you wanted my assessment for purely professional reasons? I was a little surprised when you asked me to arrange transportation out of Italy to New York for your men when UNCLE resources were tied up elsewhere. I was not aware that your organization had an a reason to be involved in Terbuf, though my sources tell me that you are on the Continent now soothing over this past affair. Such a shame that we missed each other this time. I always have room for your agents on my private chartered flights so long as they have never have a reason to look into the cargo hold. I can assure you that I made sure they were quite comfortable, though Napoleon all but ignored the lovely Olympe. Your men thought I was sleeping in the back, but you know that I cannot sleep on aeroplanes. Naturally I could not help but overhear what they had to say as I was resting my eyes.
Doubtless you think I've grown soft with the passing years; you have always chided me for treating my men as the sons I never had. But you never could disguise your sentimentality to those who know you, Alex. After all, you were the one who introduced your cousin Victoria to me and indirectly brought us the other love of our lives, Teresa. Poor child, she has not been the same since Victoria passed away. I am further indebted to you for sending Napoleon after her to make sure that she did not marry that awful THRUSH Count Guardia. I fear that her choice in men has not improved much and that no fatherly advice will ever reach her ears. She has her mother's incorrigible will, which seems to run on your side of the family. Would you consider amending UNCLE's policy about section two agents and marriage, just for me? She could learn so much from a man such as your Napoleon; I would be proud to call that man my son-in-law.
But I digress—it would be a pointless endeavor. I sense that you are more anxious about Illya than Napoleon. You can understand why Napoleon would put his life on the line but not why Illya would risk his career for another's personal affair. You wonder if your matchmaking has been too successful, if you have opened up the Pandora's box of partnerships. I know your objections about upholding world peace and security first and foremost, but remember this: your young man has signed away his life to UNCLE. You know who he is as an agent; the dossier may be thinner than those of the others, but you of all men can read what was not written. He has given up body and soul for you and your dream and will do so until the work kills him. The least you can do is to leave his heart alone. You own his loyalty and life, but love—surely you can let him have that?
Your philosophy is that love must be subliminated, that your agents have signed away their rights to a personal life rooted in the world of those you have sworn and shed blood to protect. It has never been that simple, not for those before us, not for us and not for them. Your agents are mortals, too, and need their own protection lest they become the monsters they fight. Your organization has provided Illya with a purpose worth dying for and the closest to family he will ever know. But his commitment is to ideals, not the nuts and bolts of UNCLE itself. Should UNCLE cease to uphold those ideals, can you really expect him to remain faithful? You cannot deny these men the relationships that allow them to keep the faith in their work as well as in themselves. If their work costs them all intimacy, they will be unable to function as agents, let alone as flesh and blood beings. They are not the only ones who lose.
Perhaps you are thinking of the Richards girl. She calls herself Valdar now, her married name according to Illya. What a strange world, that such a woman would risk her life for a man I personally know not to deserve even a minute of her company! Yet you all owe her some measure of gratitude in finally severing a bond that ceased to hold those two together. Clara and Napoleon were both freed. What you do not see is that new chains, literally on certain occasions, are linking together the future under your nose.
You have become accustomed to seeing your men as professionals and proteges first, Alex, but they practice just as much subterfuge in matters of the heart as they do in THRUSH satraps. The first casualty we face in war is knowing who exactly our enemies and friends and lovers will be; blood indiscriminately stains all those ties and exposes all our relationships to the marrow. We bear the awful weight of personal responsibility to each other as human beings that no group allegiance can ever really lighten; if we do not care and look out for one other, no one else will. Love, however you choose to define it, heals as much as penicillin.
The world is never quite enough even for those of us who would die to protect it, but love can make all of our time in this world a place worth saving. Forgive the mental meanderings of an aging romantic, my dear Alex, but it would be injustice for you to punish Napoleon and Illya for the crime of being human. It is their humanity that makes them the best agents you have. I sincerely hope we will have the chance to meet whenever you are free.
Until then, yours truly,