Challenge: 2015 Easter Egg
Prompt: It seems EasterIsh to me to have a Thrush agent reforming, preferably getting away with it this time. Writer's choice of any canon Thrush or their own.
Title: “Hope springs eternal”
It was the beginning of a magnificent day as Napoleon Solo rose with the sunrise; showering, shaving and making sure his hair was coiffed just right.
He dressed in his new double-breasted grey suit and headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York city for 8:45 Easter mass; after which he would join in the annual parade that started at shortly thereafter and would last until the late afternoon. He had no intention of staying that late, but would remain long enough to take in the sights for a little while.
It wasn’t really a parade per se, but more an outing for people to stroll up and down the the route that ran north on Fifth Avenue, from 49th Street to 57th Street, all the while showing off their new seasonal finery. There was a tradition for the ladies to wear over-the-top chapeau’s, often whimsically decorated with feathers, bunnies and Easter eggs.
It was all part of the celebration of Christ rising from the dead, signalling a cleansing away of sin for all mankind...a rebirth of the soul, intertwined with the pagan rites of Spring. With that being said, it was supposed to be a joyous occasion.
This year however, Solo was.on his own for his holiday jaunt. His Aunt Amy, who was his usual escort, was feeling under the weather. His Russian partner, while claiming to be an atheist, often joined him on Easter, but this year Illya was away on assignment.
After mass, Napoleon strolled along the Avenue suddenly missing the wisecracks Illya most likely would have made about the new outfit his American partner had ordered for the holiday, especially since he, Solo, had owned two double-breasted suits already
Napoleon snickered at that thought as he nodded to the pretty women who passed him by. He wasn’t looking for female companionship, no not today; he just wanted to lose himself in the innocence of the moment. Yet somehow that just wasn’t happening.
He was a bit down and supposed it was because he was alone; something he was unaccustomed to on this day. Or was it that?
Napoleon stopped dead in his tracks; suddenly filled with an ominous foreboding as his skin began to crawl with a case of the heebie-jeebies. He looked about, not seeing anything suspicious.
He continued to walk, heading away from the colorful crowds, but training, or paranoia as an agent left him unable to shake the feeling.
He unbuttoned his jacket, giving easy access to his Special. Turning the corner, heading down Madison Avenue to 45th Street; he intended to walk to headquarters.
It was less than a twenty minutes away and there he’d have backup, if nothing happened before he made it there. If he were a fatalist like his partner he would have grabbed a taxi, but it was his optimistic side that made him continue on foot, enjoying the weather in spite of his misgivings.
The street had finally quieted down, and as he turned onto 45th he heard footfalls behind him, matching him now step for step.
He glanced at the windows of the shops he passed, trying to get a look at the image of whoever was following him, but all he could see was the reflection of person in a black trench coat, with his face hidden by a wide-brimmed black fedora… a dark look for a fine Easter Sunday.
Solo continued on, watching the man’s hands and noting they remained at his side, not hidden in his pockets. He wondered if he were just being overly suspicious.
When Napoleon finally reached the steps to Del Floria’s, he turned, confronting his shadow with his Special discreetly drawn and held out of view.
“Okay, who are you and why are you following me? And keep your hands where I can see them.”
“I assure you Monsieur Solo my intentions are honorable.”
The man moved slowly, and reaching up with his hand; he removed his hat.
“Mais oui. I am flattered that you even know who I am.”
“Your brother Victor has mentioned you periodically, in between his attempts to kill me. He even showed me your photograph once. He is quite proud of you, extolling your virtues and the fact that you are following in his footsteps as a member of T.H.R.U.S.H.”
“Well about that Monsieur...might we go to your headquarters where I can explain myself.”
Solo waved his gun, indicating he should go down the steps. Marton’s hand reached for the doorknob, turning it slowly.
“Once inside, put your hands on your head, locking your fingers together please.”
“I assure you I will comply Monsieur Solo.”
The brass bell tinkled its warning as the two men entered; Del Floria reaching the security button behind the counter as he saw the situation.
“It’s all right Del, I’ve got this,” Napoleon said. “Let Security know to meet us inside.”
He proceeded to pat down Marton, checking for any possible weapon or listening device. Once satisfied, the trench coat and hat were left behind; he removed Marton’s necktie, slipping it over the man’s eyes as a blindfold before leading him to the dressing room, though it was mainly for effect.
Del made the call and hit the steam press twice, allowing the two men access through the hidden door to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters.
Solo turned the coat hook in silence, and led his prisoner inside where the Security detail was waiting. Taken into their custody; the Thrushman was searched again and escorted to a holding cell located on the lower level of the building.
Napoleon absentmindedly greeted Wanda, receiving his ID badge from her without any of their usual flirtatious conversation.
“Is he in his conference room?”
“Yes but he’s supposed to be leaving shortly for brunch with Mrs. Waverly at Tavern on the Green.”
“Thanks Wanda. Please let him know I’m on my way.”
She understood agent Solo had more important things on his mind at the moment than chatting her up but sighed at how handsome he looked in that blue suit.
Napoleon arrived as his destination and headed straight into the conference room as Lisa Rogers was off for the day and no one was seated at her desk.
The Old Man looked up from the file he held in his hand; Solo taking note the Old Man wasn’t dressed in his usual tweed. Today Alexander Waverly was wearing a nicely cut dress grey suit with a red silk tie and matching pocket square tucked in the breast pocket of his jacket.
“I must say sir you’re looking quite dapper.”
“Thank you Mr. Solo, that is a true compliment from someone such as yourself who knows his clothing. And what brings you here to headquarters today? Weren’t you off for the holiday?”
“Yes sir, but I was followed by François Marton and I decided it best to let him tail me here. When I confronted him, he seemed quite adamant about speaking to me rather than being aggressive or confrontational.”
“Yes I was notified he’s in a holding cell. Is there any reason you can think of as to why he is so keen on contacting you?”
“I’ve never met the man before, though I was aware of his identity thanks to Victor. As far as I know he’s still only a low-level soldier in the T.H.R.U.S.H. hierarchy.’
“That’s exactly what he is.” Waverly hit a switch on the console in front of him, lowering a video screen from the ceiling, with an image of François Marton coming into view.”
“He was born Marcel François-Marie Marton in Paris France. Educated in private schools until the war broke out, after which he joined his brother Victor with the partisans. Their parents and siblings were were killed in the invasion of Paris in 1940.”
“Victor was with the partisans? I didn’t know that,” Napoleon said. “You worked with the partisans in France while with MI6 during the war, didn’t you sir?”
“Hmmm, precisely.” Waverly pensively sucked on the mouthpiece of his pipe.”You may not be aware, but that is where Victor and I first met. We were friends at one time, but sadly his aspirations went in a different direction than mine. He was courted by a blossoming organization that we now know as T.H.R.U.S.H. Sadly where Victor went, François followed.
“You knew him as well?”
“Since he was a young pup. He was always a happy lad in spite of the loss of his family. He adored his older brother and that connection no doubt allowed Victor to drag him into the misguided world they now occupy..”
The Old Man’s mood changed, becoming more melancholy, but Napoleon waited in silence for Waverly to speak.
“Mr. Solo if you would be so good as to accompany me down to Security. I think we both need to speak to François, you because he sought you out, and me...for old times sake.”
Marton was seated in his cell at a grey metallic table, surrounded walls of the same drab color.. There was but a single one-way mirror through which the guards could keep an eye on the prisoner.
Solo entered the room first, setting the stage before Waverly would appear.
“So François, if I may call you that?” He stood with his arms crossed in front of his chest.
“Why were you following me?”
“I will cut to the chase Monsieur Solo. I wish to defect.”
Napoleon’s eyes went wide. “You have my full attention.”
“Though I love my brother dearly I can no longer abide the ways of T.H.R.U.S.H. as he does. Victor is too enamored of that organization and he’s lusted for power so long that he can’t see what they’ve done to him. He used to be a man of integrity.”
“And why should I believe you?”
“The Martons were once a noble family. We were people whose word was their bond. I wish to bring the word ‘honor’ back to my house. Your Monsieur Waverly understood this about us but that changed once T.H.R.U.S.H. got their claws into my brother. I knew I would not be able to contact Waverly directly, but I thought since you are his best agent that you might help me.”
The door opened, and the Old Man appeared; the look on François’ face as he saw him was one of pure joy.
“Hello young man,” Waverly smiled.” It’s been a long time.”
“Bonjour Uncle Alexander.”
Napoleon’s head did a quick snap to when he heard that.
“Yes Mr. Solo, he used to call me that when he was much younger. So, François you wish to defect?”
“Yes sir, please. I know when T.H.R.U.S.H. gets wind of it, they will want to kill me, not because I have any great secrets to divulge but because I am betraying them. No one does so without suffering their wrath. I was hoping you could save me from them?”
“We’ll see young man, we’ll see. Mr. Solo, have Mr. Marton moved to guest quarters...under guard of course. Make sure he’s fed and made comfortable. We shall work this out tomorrow. Will that do François?” Waverly cocked a bushy eyebrow.
“Merci Uncle Alexander. You will not regret this I swear,” François’ eyes welled up with tears of relief.
Napoleon accompanied Mr. Waverly from Security, not saying much.
“Mr. Solo, thank you for taking care of this matter for me. When you are done, go enjoy the rest of the Easter holiday please. I suspect we will have a busy day tomorrow. At the moment I am off to meet with Mrs. Waverly and I daren’t be late.” He looked at his watch, “ My Security detail awaits.”
Napoleon watched as the man disappeared through the private door inside the conference room.
He reminded himself as had Waverly that it was Easter, and he still needed to go keep company with Aunt Amy. Despite feeling unwell, she’d have Easter dinner ready for him, and he looked forward to that as well as seeing his ‘best girl’, as he like to call her. .
How appropriate it was that young Marton chose this particular day to leave the nest, so to speak. The symbolism wasn’t lost on Napoleon as Easter was a time of resurrection and François was rising from his past. perhaps like a different bird... a phoenix from the ashes.
Anytime a T.H.R.U.S.H. could leave the evil behind, trying to make amends; it was a good day.
After seeing François was taken care of, Napoleon Solo left headquarters with a spring in his step. The birds were chirping, there were buds on the trees and life was teeming everywhere. Yes it was a time of rebirth in so many ways.
He stopped by a florist, buying a colorful bouquet of flowers for his Aunt and hailing a taxi; he headed to her her building and finally up to her penthouse.
As the door opened, he was greeted by the familiar face of his partner.
“I thought I would surprise you, as I returned home early from my assignment.”
Solo reached out, shaking Illya’s hand.
“Happy Easter tovarisch.”
“I see you could not resist getting a new suit for the occasion,” Illya quipped.
Napoleon Solo smiled. Things were as they should be.
It was turning out to be a better holiday than he’d expected it to be, for all sorts of reasons...