Illya heard a wailing outside his apartment door that didn’t sound quite human.
Looking through the peephole, he saw nothing but still the noise persisted. If he didn’t know better, he’d have sworn it sounded like a cat.
He drew his weapon to be on the safe side and opened the door a few inches, but before he could take a look, a black cat darted inside.
Closing the door, he immediately realized it was his former cat Nina, who was named after the singer Nina Simone.
Illya decided that it was unfair keeping the cat as he just wasn’t home enough, and there was no one he could even expect to come to take care of her.
UNCLE employees were asked to do enough but having one with security clearance to pet sit a cat was out of the question.
His solution was to give Nina to his neighbor across the hall. Mrs. Manetti was an elderly woman who lived alone. She often invited Illya over for supper and he thought that he was treated like an adopted son.
The woman was a wonderful cook and he had to admit, her lasagna had become one of his favorite foods.
She needed company and since she and Nina got along so well already, it was better for both of them that they had each other all the time.
So now here was Nina back in his apartment, turning around in circles and sounding quite distressed.
He picked her up and began petting her, trying to soothe her, but she would have none of it and actually hissed at him, clawing his hand.
“Ow! Nina what is wrong with you? And what are you doing out in the hallway?”
He tucked his gun in the waist of his pants, and covered it with his shirt.
Opening the door again, Nina darted out and headed straight to Mrs. Manetti’s door, yowling even louder as she continued to turn in circles.
Illya knocked on the old woman’s door but received no answer. Taking out his wallet, he withdrew a key Mrs. Manetti insisted he have for emergencies.
She had a cousin that lived across the street, but the woman wasn’t always home as she was younger and worked a full time job. So Illya became the keeper of the key.
Unlocking the door, slowly opening it, he called out.
“Mrs Manetti, it is Illya. Are you all right?” Still no answer and that made him nervous.
He saw the kitchen window open and figured that was how Nina got out. She must have used the fire escape to get down from the second floor. How she got back into the building remained a mystery to be solved later.
Illya began searching the apartment and found Mrs. Manetti on the floor beside her bed.
There was blood spattered from a head wound and after checking her for a pulse that she thankfully had, he guessed she’d fallen and hit her head.
He headed straight to the living room phone and called for an ambulance.
The ambulance arrived, siren blaring and Napoleon came downstairs from his apartment on the third floor to see what all the commotion was about.
“Mrs. Manetti injured herself,” he leaned over, whispering to Solo
Illya cuddled Nina in his arms as Mrs. Manetti was taken out on a stretched.
She’d woken, though she was dizzy and flustered.
“My goodness, I must have fallen. Illya how did you know?”
“It was Nina, she came to get me. She saved your life, had she not done what she did, you could have laid there and bled to death.”
Illya leaned over and gave Mrs. Manetti a kiss on the forehead.
“Do not worry, you will be all right. I will keep Nina in the meantime, and I will make sure she gets a nice reward of tuna fish for her heroic act.” Though he was thinking Nina was a bit plump, probably from eating Mrs. Manetti’s wonderful cooking.
The old woman reached out and gave Nina a scratch and mouth the words ‘thank you’. She blew Kuryakin a kiss as the ambulance door was closed and pulled away into traffic; no siren but the red light atop it was flashing.
“I’m glad she’s going to be all right,”Napoleon said.”She’s a nice lady, and that’s one smart cat.”
“Well, after all Nina was mine,” Illya flashed a crooked smile.
“Oh like you trained her to do what she did,” Solo chuckled.
“No, she is like me, smart Russian...smart cat. I still cannot figure out how she got back into the building to come howling at my door.
“Oh, that was probably my doing,”Napoleon said. “When I was coming inside the building a black cat was waiting by the door, and I had a feeling it was Nina, so I let her inside.
She headed straight to the second floor and I heard the caterwauling; I thought she just wanted to be let back inside.”
Nina wiggled out of Illya’s arms and went straight to Mrs. Manetti’s door and began to yowl again.”
“No no my sweet, you come stay with me for now.”
The cat became more adamant, and hissed again as Illya tried to pick her up.
“All right, you want to go into an empty apartment and stay all by yourself, fine. Abandon me Miss Nina,” Illya complained.
He and Solo followed the cat inside back to the bedroom.
“I suppose I should clean up the mess for Mrs. Manetti. It will not be nice coming home to see blood spattered in your bedroom.
Nina disappeared into the closet as the door was ajar.
“What are you doing cat?” Napoleon called. Illya had gone into the kitchen to get a mop and a bucket.
When Napoleon opened the door, he got a surprise.
“Illya? You better come here right now.”
“What?” He stuck his head through the bedroom door.
Solo pointed to the closet.
Sitting there in a wicker basket on the floor was a tiny black and white kitten, its eyes still blue.
“Oh so you are a mama cat Nina? That explains why you are so fat,” Illya laughed as he picked up the little bundle of fur. “This is why you had to come back here, enh?”
After cleaning the bedroom Illya and Napoleon took Nina and her offspring back to Kuryakin’s apartment.
“Well looks like you’ve got a cat problem again tovarisch.”
“Cats are never a problem. They make for wonderful company, and in this case one was a life saver. You should try having a cat for a pet my friend.”
“No thank you,” he cringed as he brushed some imaginary cat hair from his jacket. “Better you than me, and now I will bid you adieu; I have a date with Ramona.”
“Enjoy your evening, and I will enjoy my company as well.”
He closed the door, still holding the kitten in his hand, and heading to the kitchen Illya opened a can of tuna for Nina.
“Hmmm, now what should I call you little one. You are very young and I do not think Mrs, Manetti might have named you yet.” He suspected she might not even know the kitten had been born, since she said nothing to him before the ambulance took her away.
“I know...I will call you Lasagna, hmmm, you like that name? What do you think Nina?”
The black cat chirped a happy reply.
“It is settled, Lasagna it is,” that thought suddenly reminded Illya he was hungry as well.
In his refrigerator was a half a tray of Mrs. Manetti’s specialty. All he had to do was warm it up in the oven, and dinner would be ready.
After eating Illya relaxed on the sofa, but instead of falling asleep with a book in his lap, Nina was there curled up with Lasagna just having finished nursing.
Instead of the kitten sleeping she crawled inside Illya’s blue sweatshirt, into his sleeve, then wiggled out into his hand, and there she too curled up and went to sleep.
A./N Nina is a character that's appeared in several of my stories