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The Master

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MFU 14

Napoleon turned his mind to the pile of paper work on his desk. Something nagged at the back of his mind. He'd just pulled out his communicator to give Illya a call when Mandy walked in and dropped a pile of folders in his inbox.

"Lisa asked me to drop these by," Mandy explained.

Pulling the folders out and looking through them, Napoleon did some rearranging. Most of them did not need his immediate attention. "She's really pissed at me," Napoleon said.

"Well, can you blame her?" Mandy pulled off her glasses and asked. "Now she's got no chance with Illya."

"What!" Napoleon fell back in his chair. "You mean Lisa has a crush on Illya?"

Mandy laughed and sat sexily on the edge of his desk and twirled her glasses. "Lisa! Why half the females here have a thing for your little Russian. Half are upset because you've stolen him from them and the other half are relieved because it means that their unrequited feelings are nothing personal."

"Speaking of." Napoleon adjusted his communicator and sent out a call to his partner. "Open Channel D. Come in, Illya." All he got was static. He switched channels tried again with the same results. Then he remembered that Illya didn't have a communicator at the moment. Still feeling that something was wrong, he got up and placed a kiss on Mandy's forehead before walking out the door without a goodbye.

Instead of leaving through the Agent's Entrance, Napoleon took the way to the garage. The uneasy feeling in his gut growing the closer he got to Illya's apartment building. Parking, he moved into the building and raced up the five flights of stairs and wishing his partner lived in an apartment building that had an elevator.

There blocking the door to Illya's apartment stood his landlady, her arms crossed her huge chest and Napoleon caught the tail end of their conversation. 'Tis sorry I am, Mr. Kuryakin, but we were told you wouldna be back and to rent the apartment out. Your stuff is in storage."

"What's going on, Illya?" Napoleon asked. "Who said you wouldn't be back?"

Illya turned to him, his mouth open but nothing coming out.

"I tell, Mr. Kuryakin, apartment no longer his," the landlady answered for him. "That nice Mr. Waverly."

Now it was Napoleon's turn to be speechless. He frowned, wondering what game Waverly was playing. Actually this might work out better then he hoped. He'd never enjoyed walking up all those stairs.

"You say Illya's things are in storage? Send Mr. Kuryakin's things here." He pulled out his card that had his address on it and handed to here. Then he gripped Illya by his elbow and dragged him down the stairs.

"Napoleon, what are you doing," Illya hissed.

"Cat let go of your tongue, I see." Napoleon herded him toward the car. "We need to talk and I can't think of a better place."

"Provided you still have a place," Illya muttered.

Napoleon smiled. "Thanks to my Aunt Amy, I will always have a place to lay my head."

***

The drive to Napoleon's apartment was made in silence. Illya was not the most communicative under normal circumstances, and these were not normal. That was why they'd developed their special style where neither needed to say a word.

Napoleon couldn't help but wonder when everyone's attitude had changed or had they always been that way and he'd only noticed because it was only recently that he was effected? They needed to come up with a game plan.

He spared a glance at Illya. He knew that he was happy to have Illya move in with him. Ever since Illya had gone missing, he'd found himself wanting him. Now he just had to convince Illya that was what he wanted as well.

On the way up in the elevator, Illya seemed resigned. Napoleon opened the door not even bothering to usher Illya in and after setting the alarm, went straight to his kitchen. Like always it was amazingly clean. He pulled out the bottle of Stoli he kept in the freezer and checked inside the refrigerator, delighted to find a tray of cold cuts that his housekeeper had left. With a bottle in one hand and tray in the other, Napoleon returned to the living room, only to find Illya standing as if ready to make a break for it.

"Make yourself at home," Napoleon suggested.

Illya slumped on the couch and his eyes lit as they followed the tray Napoleon set on the coffee table. He was attacking the bread, meat and cheese even as Napoleon was retrieving two glasses and a bottle of his drink of choice. Once Illya's appetite was satisfied, they sat for a while and said nothing.

What to say, what to say. "Did our interaction with the Master change things so much or were people always that way?"

Illya looked up startled. "I've never paid much attention."

There was a great deal of silence after that and one would have thought they were thinking about their future with U.N.C.L.E.. Au contraire, Illya was, undoubtedly, debating on what Napoleon's intentions were. Not that he minded sharing a bed with Napoleon, he just speculated about if he was expected to put out. While Napoleon, on the other hand, was no doubt wondering where they would put Illya's furniture. As it happened to Napoleon liked his apartment the way it was.

"How long may I stay here?" Illya asked.

Forever, was Napoleon's thought. "As long as you need."

Illya nodded. "I will try to get out of your way as soon as possible." He stood up and looked around the apartment. "Where do you want me to sleep?"

Napoleon cleared his throat and played with the crease of his pants. "I thought it would be safer if we slept together."

Illya hid his smile. "Perfectly logical."

The two worked in perfect synch putting away their dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. Napoleon, as host, let Illya get ready for bed first. Napoleon was alternately excited and apprehensive. Excited because he was finally going to act on his untried sexual preference, yet he was also apprehensive because while he knew of the mechanics of what he was contemplating, his only experience had been with women.

He shaved, put on an adequate amount of shaving lotion, fussed over his hair and got into his silkiest pajamas. Once he was sure he was ready, he entered the bedroom, only to find Illya, lying with his back to the door and fast asleep. He sank down on the other side of the bed and sighed heavily before sliding under the covers his back to his partner, never once noticing said partner cranking one eye open and smirking before going off into dreamland.

The next morning Napoleon's nose twitched and he woke up to the smell of freshly-brewed coffee. Slipping on his robe, he headed for his living room, bed head and all. Following his nose, he ended up in the kitchen, disappointed to find Illya, fully dressed, leaning nonchalantly against the counter, and sipping a cup of coffee.

"You're up early." Napoleon poured himself a cup.

"I'm hoping we can stop by the bank. I'm a little low on cash."

Napoleon set his cup down and stifled a sigh of disappointment. As Napoleon headed to the bedroom to dress, he didn't notice Illya look into his coffee cup and try to suppress a chuckle.

In less time than you would have thought, Napoleon was ready and the two were on their way. The doorman intercepted Napoleon to ask him what he wanted done with the delivery from Illya's apartment. Surprisingly there was only a couple of suitcases and four boxes of books. As it turned out the furniture stayed with the apartment for which Napoleon was exceedingly grateful.

Napoleon came to a stop in front of the bank. He looked at his watch. "Don't take too long."

"I won't," Illya said with a smile as he slipped out of the car.

Napoleon was tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, while whistling when Illya finally returned. "Took you long enough," he said as he shifted into drive and pulled out. When Illya didn't give him a snarky answer, he glanced his way. The Russian looked like he was in shock. "Illya?"

"Somebody closed my account," Illya murmured.

Napoleon almost slammed on the brakes. "You're joking."

Illya shook his head. "No. Why do you think I was in there so long?"

Napoleon's jaw tightened. This was going too far. He knew that Mr. Waverly had a lot of pull, but never thought him capable of doing something like this. He was going to have it out with Waverly one way or another. He pulled up in front of Del Floria's and was soon standing next to his partner ready to battle the dragon within. Together they trotted down the stairs and entered the cleaners. Illya reached for the knob and letting his partner through closed the door after him. It was a ritual they had done many times before. While Illya was doing that, Napoleon was headed for the changing booth and had the curtain pulled back waiting for Illya to join him.

Del Floria cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, but Mr. Kuryakin doesn't have clearance to proceed." To his credit, Del Floria sounded sincere in his regret.

Napoleon's hand was on the coat hook ready to turn it and gain entrance into the reception's area. "This is ridicules," he muttered as he jerked the communicator out of his pocket. "Connect me to Mr. Waverly," he ordered.

"Waverly here. Mr. Solo? Is that you? Why aren't you here? We have much to discuss."

"And Mr. Kuryakin?"

"By all means, bring him along," Waverly replied dryly.

The two reentered the booth and waited for the familiar double swish of steam machine before proceeding. Napoleon was in no mood to flirt with the pretty receptionist as she settled his badge on his jacket, especially when she pulled a visitors page instead of Illya's usual number 11. He reached over to pull Illya's badge when he noticed it was no longer in its customary spot. Before he could ask about it, the door swished open and Carmine swaggered out with his gun drawn. A nasty look showed on his face as he fingered the number 11 badge on his chest. "Standing orders. Kuryakin is not welcomed."

"Mr. LaCosta, put away your gun and kindly let them pass," growled Waverly's voice over the loud speaker.

As Carmine reluctantly did as he was asked, Napoleon smiled before snatching the badge and placing it where it belonged on Illya's jacket.

The closer they got to Waverly's office, the more Napoleon's anger took hold. There were piles of folders on the round turntable desk, but Napoleon never noticed. When the door slid behind him Napoleon lashed out with all the anger and frustration in him.

If Waverly looked surprised at his ranting, Napoleon never noticed. Illya was doing his best to calm him down, but Napoleon was too incensed on his behalf to listen.

Waverly calmly set the folder he'd been perusing down and with a look of annoyance got to his feet. "Will that be all, Mr. Solo? You two come with me." His brisk tone booked no argument .

Napoleon was on the point of refusing, but Illya tapped his elbow and shrugged. Reluctantly Napoleon nodded and followed, just in time to hear the tail end of Waverly's instructions to his secretary. "... and I will need a complete list when I return, Ms. Rogers."

Then Waverly was off, striding swiftly down the hall and entering the elevator. Who would have thought he could move so fast, Napoleon thought. He watched as Waverly pulled his pipe out of his pocket and lit it, puffing strongly. No words are said as they reach the lowest level, Research and Development.

The door at the end slid open at their approach and the noise level went up. From where they stood several projects were on going. A half-dozen people were surrounding a car and the sound of blow torches and muted voices, some agreeable, some arguing, could be heard. In at least two other areas people were scurrying around.

Napoleon was having trouble deciding where to look. Waverly, on the other hand, ignored the car and led the way to another area entirely.

"Ah, Alexander! Our experiment was a success, no?" They heard over the noise and turned as one to see a short in stature man bustling excitedly over to them.

"Yes, but not in the way we intended, Andrew," Waverly agreed, dryly. "There seems to be a conflict in the personality area."

Dr. Sims, head of Research and Development, frowned. "What do you mean? We followed Dr. Pertwee's notes and even improved on them." He led them to a corner where a cabinet with a glass insert stood. Illya and Napoleon gathered around and stared in astonishment at a perfect duplicate of Mr. Waverly.

Napoleon shut his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. He well remembered Dr. Ansell Pertwee wanting to help mankind and his desire to free men from overwork and give them back their souls. "Do you mean we have been dealing with a robot for the last month?"

Waverly actually looked amused. "I'm not as young as I used to be and when Dr. Sims suggested using the Alexander robot to give me some free time, I'm afraid I jumped at the chance. I was able to leave my desk at a decent hour. Ms. Rogers, of course, knew and I can't understand her not keeping me informed on ..." He stopped there and pondered how to question his secretary without getting her back up.

"And it was just our luck to end up dealing with your duplicate, wasn't it?" Illya reasoned.

"I'm afraid so, Mr. Kuryakin. Evidently he was working outside the parameters that I'd approved. Oddly enough nothing showed up in the reports that came across my desk or I would have noticed something was amiss earlier." He turned his attention to Dr. Sims. "Who did the personality upgrade?"

"A new transfer. She came highly recommended." Sims looked around the room. "Ah, there she is. Ms. Kline! Over here, please."

Napoleon drew in his breath. "Nurse Helga!"

The former nurse strolled over. Totally ignoring the two agents, she focused her attention on Dr. Sims and purred, "Yes, Andrew? Was there something you wanted?"

Pointing accusingly at her, Napoleon frowned. "I was in Dr. Wilds' office when he terminated your employment."

Helga glanced at the two agents, her expression one of disgust. "You must be mistaken. I know of no Dr. Wilds," she declared haughtily. Her expression changed as she turned back to her boss. "If you have nothing further, Andrew, I will return to my calculations." She marched away, without further ado.

"I swear..." Napoleon insisted.

"Quite, quite." Waverly did his best to placate his top agent. "Gather together all the pertinent people and have them meet in my office." He turned to his head of Research, not bothering to check that his orders were being obeyed, and sighed. "Until further notice I think it best that we retire my doppelganger." Before the scientist could protest, Waverly turned, shaking his head as he walked away. He was going to miss being able to leave on time.

***

Twenty minutes later, Waverly was lighting his pipe as he came through his door. He paused taking in the number of people sitting around his desk. He walked around and took his seat between his two top agents. Settling in, he glanced at each person in turn. Illya Kuryakin, Andrew Sims, the blonde Tech, Miss Kline?, if he was not mistaken, also someone from Personnel, someone else from Detraining, Dr. Edison Wilds from Medical and Napoleon Solo. "Mr. Solo, perhaps you would care to begin?"

Napoleon cleared his throat but before he could start, Dr. Wilds stood up. "If you don't mind, Mr. Waverly, I'd like to start."

Waverly wasn't sure he wanted everyone to know about the robot fiasco, but he nodded his head in agreement.

"After Napoleon contacted me, I did a little checking around. It seems that this all started with Helga Kline." He glance at the woman in question. You could tell that she wanted to contradict him, but only Sims' hand on her arm kept her silent. "When I found out that my head nurse was responsible for spreading malicious information regarding one of UNCLE's top agents, I insisted that she be given her walking papers. It is my opinion that bigotry, in whatever form it takes, is not advisable for a member of an organization such as ours. I requested that she not be transferred and allowed to spread her narrow-mindedness. I see my advice was ignored." He glared at the Personnel Assistant Manager sitting across from him.

"Research needed someone right away. She had the credentials." The Assistant Manager tapped the folder sitting in front of him.

Waverly spun the table around and scooped up the folder. He flicked through the pages, not once but twice. He stared off into space before reaching across Napoleon to pick up the folder that had landed in front of his agent. His brows knitted together as he perused the contents of the folder.

"Detraining was textbook. There was absolutely no reason not to use her."

Dr. Wilds rolled his eyes. He couldn't get over the stupidity of some people. "Just because they forget their jobs with this organization, it doesn't change who they are."

Ms. Kline looked puzzled. She had no clue what they were on about.

"Gentlemen, and lady, I appreciate your cooperation. I'll evaluate the data and get back with you once I've reviewed everything."

Everyone stood and were prepared to head toward the door.

"Not you, Mr. Solo and Mr. Kuryakin." The agents exchanged glances and retook their seats. "And you, Andrew and ... er ... Miss Kline, I'd like you to stay as well." Once everyone was back in place, he gave his attention over to Helga. Her Nordic features, at the moment were weary and her blue eyes showed a certain shrewdness that indicated that there was more than met the eye. Her personnel folder showed that she, indeed, had degrees that qualified her to work in Section Seven. Oddly enough she'd been with them for fifteen years, working her way up to head nurse. In the paperwork filed there was no reason given for her termination.

He rifled through some folders and pulled one out, comparing it with the one already on the table. "Miss Kline, was there a reason for the changes you programmed into my duplicate?"

"What changes?" Andrew asked, seemingly surprised.

Waverly sent both folders around, letting the table stop in front of his head of Research and watched as he studied the two folders.

Andrew turned to his associate. "Why did you change the programming parameters?"

"It was lacking in the area of morals."

Andrew threw his hands up in the air. "That wasn't your place to make that call. My apologies,
Alexander. It would appear that the experiment was a failure."

Waverly sighed. "Not necessarily. It has pointed out a problem I wasn't aware of." He stood up and reached across to shake Andrew's hand, thereby dismissing both him and Miss Kline. "Thank you both for coming." Distressed that his pipe had gone out, Waverly relit the bowl before shaking his head. This experiment was going to cost him more time in the long run than it saved him.

Lisa Rogers walked in and set two folders on Waverly's desk. She sent an apologetic look Illya's way. Waverly opened the first folder and studied it, a frown deepening his face. He went through the pages once again, then leaned back in his chair.

"My apologies, Mr. Kuryakin. It would seem that we have done you a great disservice, which I intend to have corrected as soon as possible. While we know the who and why this happened, it will take considerable time to rectify and make sure it doesn't happen again. I fear however that your apartment is no longer available."

"There's no problem there, Mr. Waverly. Illya's moved in with me," Napoleon informed him.

Waverly nodded absently. He stared off into space. He should have known, things had been going much to smoothly. He needed to get to the bottom of this and right now he couldn't trust anyone to help him. This would take a while, a long while indeed. He reached for his phone, he might as well let his wife know he wouldn't be home for dinner. When he hung up, he realized he was alone.