The muffled sound of a knock at his apartment door brought Napoleon out of a shallow sleep. He squinted at this wristwatch...2:15 AM. Damn, he had only been in bed a little over an hour and had just gotten to sleep.
The knock at his door repeated itself, more urgently this time. “All right,” he yelled through the closed bedroom door. “I’m coming! Keep your shirt on.” He’d recognized his partner’s coded knock and wondered why Illya just didn’t use his key to let himself in or at least call on his communicator.
Napoleon checked through the peep hole before turning off his security system and unlatched the dead bolt. “Illya, this had better be g...” Before him stood his partner in his Russian uniform looking more miserable than Napoleon had ever seen him, more miserable than he had ever looked after THRUSH had had a round or two with him.
Quickly, the American cast a glance both ways down the hallway before grabbing Illya by the arm and pulled him into the apartment. “What’s going on, Illya?”
“I have come to say goodbye, my friend.”
“I am being recalled by my government. I am to fly out at 0500 on the Ambassador’s private jet.
“It’s temporary...isn’t it?”
Illya sighed heavily. “I’m afraid not, my friend. There is an “escort” posted at both the elevator and the stairwell in case I should try to take a detour while leaving. I only just found out an hour ago.” He paused and took a deep shuddering breath. I am afraid this is truly farewell, Napoleon.”
Both men stood face to face, neither knowing what to say. Napoleon broke the silence first. “Illya, is there anything I can do or say to...”
An accented voice called down the hallway from the direction of the elevator. “Comrade Captain Kuryakin! It is time!”
“I will be there in a minute!” Illya held out his hand and said softly, “It is time for me to go. Thank you, Napoleon, for your friendship. I shall never forget you and what you have meant to me.” Taking another breath, he lowered his voice even more. “Unfortunately, I may never be able to see you nor communicate from this point on as it is considered highly classified.”
Napoleon smiled grimly as he pushed his partner’s hand a side and pulled the Russian, his best friend, into a tight bear hug. “I’ll find you, Tovarisch!”
“Comrade Captain, we must leave, now!”
Illya broke the embrace. “Duty calls. Goodbye, Napoleon.” The two clapped each other on the shoulders then Illya turned and walked rapidly down the hallway.
“Good luck, Illya!”
Kuryakin stopped as Napoleon called, squared his shoulders, then kept walking without looking back.