A Piece of Cake
Napoleon Solo dropped two more clips into his briefcase and shook his head. "I can't believe it. Our last field mission together."
"I can't believe we lived long enough to see this." Illya Kuryakin was busy studying a small map. He hooked a finger to another Section Two agent. "If you set the charges here and here." He pointed to two different spots on the map. "That should be enough to bring down the superstructure. If not make it collapse entirely, at least enough to weaken it substantially. If THRUSH tries to launch those missiles, the silos will collapse inward. If that happens, make sure you are well clear of the vicinity. It will make your July 4th celebration look like a sparkler."
"What about you and Mr. Solo?" The agent was so impossibly young.
The partners exchanged glances. "We will do our very best not to be inside when you blow it," Napoleon said, adjusting his tie with practiced ease. He was going in as a businessman bent on making a deal, while Illya would be the second story man this time around. "Let's get this show on the road. You go on ahead and we will catch up."
"Yes, sir!" The agent practically raced from the room with excitement.
"Did we ever have that much energy?" Illya watched after the agent even as the door slid shut behind him. He sighed and smiled ruefully. He pulled on a black flak jacket.
"Oh, I imagine about eighty years ago I did." Napoleon paused and used the moment to step closer to Illya. Illya glanced up and Napoleon kissed him. "Thank you."
"For what?" Illya's smile was soft now.
"For everything. For all those years of watching my back. For all the times you stepped up to the bat for me and never asked for anything in return. For being the best partner a man could ever ask for."
"Let's get back from this one and then you can thank me properly."
"You got it. Compared to some of our others, this mission is a piece of cake."
It was a piece of cake that had quite literally exploded around them. It was never really determined if a Section Two agent had jumped the gun or if something inside the building suddenly synced with the bombs' timing mechanism and set them off prematurely.
All Napoleon knew was silence and pain and the fact that Illya was nowhere to be found. He pushed his way clear from the rubble that nearly buried him and into the clear night air. His face felt scraped raw and he felt dazed. His legs were rubbery and wanted to crumble beneath him. Napoleon refused to permit that. He had to find Illya and he continued to dig by hand until the ruins became too dangerous for even that.
Night was falling around them and he could hear, rather than see, the gunfire. The second and third teams were moving in to make sure no THRUSH made it out.
Napoleon limped into the base camp and looked around. It was empty, of course; everyone was at the compound or otherwise engaged. He was hoping Illya would be there, radioing headquarters, nursing a hurt something, Napoleon didn't care what. There was no Illya anywhere in the camp.
His strength and his will evaporated as he collapsed onto an upended log. The night before, they had sat together, talking softly, slipping each other knowing smiles and gentle barbs. In their tent, they had slept within arms length of each other, just in case a comforting touch was needed in the night.
Illya was gone. Napoleon sensed, even though he knew he wouldn't believe it without seeing a body, and possibly not even then.
Napoleon stared straight ahead, dazed, in shock, in mourning. So deeply was he buried in his grief that he didn't even feel the soft caress of his shoulder, the strong, familiar hand holding him. He merely stared off into space until a whisper.
"What did I tell you? Bigger than the 4th of July. Quite the sendoff, don't you think?"
Then his stupor gave way to a flare of anger. Napoleon leaped to his feet, his injuries forgotten. Illya was the picture of health with not a scratch on him. "You bastard! I thought you were dead!"
"How do you know I'm not?" Napoleon paled and Illya's grasp tightened as Illya helped him reseat himself. "What I mean is when Waverly finds out those schematics went up in smoke, he may well have my guts for garters." Illya stopped and knelt in front of Napoleon, studying his face. "Are you okay?"
"I thought you were dead," Napoleon repeated woodenly.
"You can't get rid of me that easily, Solo. I would have thought you knew that by now." Illya lifted Napoleon's hand to his lips and kissed the fingers. "You made me a promise, after all. What sort of partner would I be if I skated out on that? Let's get you cleaned up and then we can talk about what we're going to do with the rest of our lives."
And just as they had done so many times, the two moved away as one.