The Men From U.N.C.L.E.
Written for the Live Journal "Ship Manifesto," November 2004
Welcome to the hellzapoppin' world of the Sixties! The era of Carnaby Street. . . Pop Art. . .the Beatles. . .
TO: Victor Marton, THRUSH Central
FR: Agent 10748ANGLQ
RE: Subjects NS and IK
Having completed surveillance on UNCLE Agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, I believe I finally have uncovered the proof you demanded to support your theory. I have compiled a dossier on them and hereby present it for your approval.
Background: Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin have been paired for several years as agents for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (UNCLE). Solo is currently Chief Enforcement Agent (CEA) for the organization.
Kuryakin: It is not known for certain, but is assumed, that Kuryakin may be the first Soviet (read Communist) to be employed by UNCLE. Verification is pending from THRUSH Eastern Europe. By the way, lately they've stopped referring to him as "Russian." His accent is becoming more British, too. Those Americans are so afraid of the Soviets, they daren't let him appear to be what he really is! Thank goodness we don't care about that in THRUSH, where it's one for all and all for the domination of the planet.
Kuryakin began as one among many enforcement agents, but moved up quickly -- perhaps surprisingly quickly -- to become Solo's regular partner. His early life is a mystery, though there are hints of a childhood in Kiev. One wonders why a man with such an impressive academic background as Illya Kuryakin, a.k.a. Dr. Kuryakin (as he holds a doctorate in Quantum Physics from Cambridge) would be content to be one of the expendable cogs in UNCLE's machinery. Why doesn't he strike out on his own in a more lucrative field? There are rumors that in the past he's been a gymnast, circus performer, KGB operative, Naval officer. . . even a cat burglar. Frankly, I wouldn't put anything past him. One must wonder for what compelling reason. . . or compelling person. . . he remains with UNCLE.
Of course, despite his talents, Kuryakin is about as unpleasant a man as it has been my misfortune to encounter. In my opinion, he is grim beyond measure, insufferably insulting, and is constantly brooding or complaining. He does brood prettily, true. Although he may in fact be Solo's subordinate, Kuryakin rarely shows deference to his partner, and is instead usually quite sarcastic and cutting to him. His ongoing banter with Solo is filled with critiques of Napoleon's clothing, cleverness, creativity and concupiscence.
Which leads me to an interesting observation: Kuryakin's seeming need to comment on -- and become involved in -- Solo's romantic life. To this observer, he takes what amounts to an unnatural interest in his partner's affaires du coeur.
I know from personal experience as one of those affaires (The Deadly Games Affair) that Kuryakin tends to hover around Solo. He behaved vilely toward me during that mission, probably sensing that Solo and I had engaged in sexual activity on a previous occasion (and, yes, Victor, it was all in the name of THRUSH, though I must say Napoleon is the most indefatigable lover I ever. . . but I digress). Kuryakin seemed to be everywhere, snooping, scowling, interfering, and most significantly preventing me from achieving Solo's death. A perfectly unpleasant little man, that Kuryakin!
Fact: When I commented on his partner's annoying behavior around me, Napoleon said "He's jealous."
!!! Clearly he's not jealous that I've slept with Napoleon rather than him. Though I have absolute faith in my power over men, Kuryakin has never been the slightest bit interested in me, and frankly, the feeling is mutual. He's much too ascetic. Or perhaps his desires are such that no woman alive could inflame him. Whatever the reason, obviously he's jealous that Napoleon slept with me, rather than with him.
Fact: Solo encountered a former lover while in Rome. (The Terbuf Affair) Why were he and Kuryakin in Rome? Were they on a mission? No! They were on vacation together.
Fact: Kuryakin insinuated himself into the matter and accompanied Solo back to the woman's homeland, despite the fact that as it was not an UNCLE mission, there was no reason for his presence. Once there, he gave off waves of disapproval towards the young woman. When Solo's renewed romance shattered, Kuryakin was the one to pick up the pieces.
I was fascinated by this turn of events.
Further behavior from Kuryakin that I have labeled as "suggestive":
Fact: He has a habit of invading Napoleon's personal space, especially when Solo is talking to a woman.
Fact: He has a tendency to pout or glower when Napoleon shows interest in anyone other than himself. (see photographic evidence here. Scroll down to photo of Solo with several blondes and one very annoyed blond.)
Fact: He flirts shamelessly with Napoleon, under the guise of mocking him. One recent example, reported by our mole inside UNCLE: Left alone with Solo after a woman abandoned Napoleon, Kuryakin twirled his fingers in his hair, swung his foot flirtatiously and purred "Don't worry, Napoleon. You still have me." (The Cherry Blossom Affair)
Fact: Observed via secret closed-circuit THRUSH-o-vision: Kuryakin, leaning over Solo, smiling, saying sweetly: "After all, you said you liked blonds." Solo jumping up, challenging Kuryakin to a fight over those remarks. . . was that real, or an act for the woman present? What ensued after she left, I cannot tell, as, alas, the camera ran out of film. (The Girls of Nazarone Affair)
Fact: You may remember, darling, that during your recent conflict with UNCLE, when a mind-reading machine was fixed on Kuryakin, it revealed he was thinking about Solo. (The Foxes and Hounds Affair)
There are hundreds of examples such as these. Clearly Kuryakin is obsessed with Napoleon, and invested in preventing Solo from forming liaisons, at least those of a lasting nature, with females. And just as clearly, he is making his own interest known.
Solo: Ah, sweet Napoleon! I should like to point out that this behavior, this obsession with one's partner, is not one-sided. Although Solo does not flirt with Kuryakin in exactly the same way, and in fact seems to bristle at these flirtations when Kuryakin initiates them (perhaps dear Napoleon needs to be in charge, no?), the reality is that he is extremely solicitous of his partner, which is fortunate for the nasty little Russian, as Kuryakin is not very adept at escaping capture. We've had him in our clutches many times, and Solo has moved heaven and earth to rescue him on each occasion. Despite his knowledge that both of them are expendable, Solo seems unwilling to let his partner remain in captivity.
Napoleon Solo is in many ways more difficult to read than the Russian. Outwardly he is charming and suave, seductive and kind to women, gracious and well-mannered. But we at THRUSH have seen first hand how relentless he can be, how willing he is to doff his amiable façade to reveal the cold, calculating and ruthless killer beneath. I'm sure that's what makes him such a devastating lover. It's also what makes him so dangerous when Kuryakin is in peril.
Fact: During one mission he actually demanded that Kuryakin be handed over to him by using this significant phrase: "You have something that belongs to me." (The Secret Scepter Affair)
Oh, Napoleon, Napoleon! How terribly obvious!
Fact: From the same mission:
Solo: “There’s a little matter of a man named Illya Kuryakin.”
Woman: “You’d risk the whole mission for one man?"
Solo: “Yes, I know it’s unprofessional of me. But I’m not perfect.”
No! He's not perfect, and evidently Kuryakin's not just any man to Napoleon, is he? This entire affair revolved around Napoleon trying to free his partner! I'm surprised Alexander Waverly didn't give both of them the boot for such dereliction of duty.
Fact: Solo on at least one occasion has reacted strongly when he believed Kuryakin dead. "Solo had a terribly pained expression on his face, and murmured 'Illya' softly," one presumptive THRUSH applicant noted during what has been called "The Fiddlesticks Affair." Another operative reported that during the "Love Affair," Solo, believing Kuryakin killed in a car accident, was so filled with anguish he couldn't maintain his cover. And later, at Kennedy Airport, Solo broke into a radiant smile upon discovery that Kuryakin was alive and there to greet him. A bigger smile than he'd just bestowed on a winsome young lady, I must point out. (The Love Affair).
No doubt about it.
A "love affair," indeed.
Please note, Victor, that this is a weakness that may be capitalized upon in future.
I am forced to admit they make a pretty pair, Napoleon so dark and smoothly charming, irresistibly sensual, perfectly attired. . . and Kuryakin -– well, despite my antipathy for the man, I have to confess he is most attractive, with all that blond hair and that permanent pout, those icy blue eyes. All that sniping and competing between them is highly diverting and amusing -- protesting too much, are you, boys? And if, as of late, their affairs have become a bit silly and slapstick, what remains at center is a deep, strong connection between them that cannot be broken.
Believe me, I've tried.
All right, I admit it. They do belong together, despite their differences in temperament. They're not a matched set, but they're a perfect pair nonetheless. They've overcome ideological differences and become something greater than either. They're relentless. They're dangerous.
God, I hate them.
Logically, in our business, it is unrealistic for someone on Napoleon Solo's level to imagine settling down in any sort of traditional way, with a wife, children, a mortgage, the suburbs--
--which reminds me--
Fact: The two of them did set up housekeeping together in the suburbs! (The Suburbia Affair). Purpose? Unknown. But I like to imagine the Russian vacuuming and cooking, perhaps wearing his tie and a frilly apron. Just his tie and a frilly apron. . . Napoleon coming home with a briefcase, reading the paper, tossing it aside, reaching across the table and the remnants of a deflated soufflé to grab Illya and throw him down while Kuryakin tugs at Solo's zip and they tussle together, Illya becoming the aggressor, both fighting for control, their coupling rough and desperate—
Mon dieu. Pardon, mon cher Victor, I needed a cigarette.
Frankly, that mission proves the point that it would be futile for either of them to seek a spouse, because, in conclusion,
They're married already. To each other.
But are they sleeping together? We've never been able to catch them in flagrante. If they are, they're being extremely discreet about their trysts, but then again, our line of work demands discretion. But it’s clear to me that Kuryakin's fierce invasion of his partner's personal life is merely his way of expressing his proprietary interest. And as for Napoleon, well. . . though I hate to see him give up women entirely, the time is coming. It's more than obvious now much he wants "his" Illya. Wants to own and possess him. Perhaps he just doesn't realize the depth of his feelings yet.
Or perhaps they've been doing it for years and are better at covert operations than I would have given them credit for.
Victor, darling, I suggest we attempt to bring them together, out in the open. Make them acknowledge what is already implicit between them.
Now, before you ask why I'd consider such an altruistic deed if they are not, in fact, already lovers, consider this: if we can get them into the same bed together, they'll be easier to wipe out once and for all. One well-placed bomb. That's all it would take, and pffffft! UNCLE's best team will never trouble us again.
True, it would be a dreadful waste of male pulchritude, but c'est la vie. Hmm. . . Perhaps Napoleon would consider one last fling with me. . .
Sorry. Digressing again.
I await your orders, darling.
With love and venom, your dearest
Well, there you have it. Proof positive of what I've long suspected. For further evidence of this torrid, um, undercover romance, I suggest you visit the following: muncle's Live Journal; File 40 (visit the slash archive within it), and the most recent archive, The Chrome and Gunmetal Madhouse. This last is brand spanking new, and features some new arrivals (or returnees) to the UNCLE scene, like kelliem, meris_mfu, cordwainer_s, and, er, me, shayheyred (as "Shay Sheridan" - hey, a little plug never hurt). And of course, there are some terrific MFU writers who've continued to entertain us, like leethet and Jane Terry and Nyssa and Di T and Lyrebird and C.W. Walker (st_crispins) (who doesn’t write slash but who writes damn fine gen stories, IMHO). The works of these authors, and many, many others may be found throughout the archives. The best part is that there is an enormous surge of new fans – and writers -- to UNCLE. It's thrilling, really. There are too many fine MFU writers to list them all, but recs abound. Try Partner Mine and katyabaturinsky's sites for some great ones.