Sometimes the days run together, so routine that you want to scream, and then something comes along and you practically jump at the chance. That's was happened here last month—never saw it coming but it was a heck of a ride.
Oh, sorry, I'm Suzie Fields and I'm the assistant, receptionist, Girl Friday, whatever you want to call me to the head of the psyche department for UNCLE. And believe me; I don't think there's another organization that begs more for psychiatric help than this one does. We have some real head cases here, but that sort of goes along with the territory. You can't do some of the things that our people routinely do and stay sane. That's just the price you pay for the job.
Section Threes are bad. They are our security guards, our watchdogs. They keep us and our various departments safe and protected. It would seem like an easy job, but it's not. The dangers are everywhere around them and it takes its toll after awhile, in the form of paranoia, agoraphobia, or even Broca's aphasia in some extreme cases. Um, that's the inability to comprehend language. Stress, extremely high levels of stress, is the norm with Section Threes. Burn out is almost a certainty. We treat them as best we can and try to bring them through the experience sane and whole. We're not as successful as I'd like, but acceptance that we can't save everyone is part of the job.
Then you have the Section Two and they are right off the map. They're insane to begin with; they'd have to be to agree to take job in the first place. And the leaders of the pack have to be Solo and Kuryakin. Don't get me wrong, they are brilliant. Solo is a gifted leader and he can fast talk his way of out just about anything situation—believe me, I make his appointments and listen to his excuses.
Kuryakin, he's too smart for his own good, too accomplished at too many things. I know just once the doc would love to get him on the couch and Kuryakin not hand him a load of bullsh...stuff. Ask him about that damned wedding ring he wears on and off and he'll spin you a tale you'll completely fall for and not a word of it will be true. I've got a file four inches thick on the subject. He missed his calling. He should have been a novelist.
Anyhow, so I'm sitting at my desk typing up the notes from Doc Wallach's last interview. All Section Two or Three agents have to undergo a routine exam at least every six months. We're pretty good, except for a couple of problem cases. Yup, you guessed who in one. The phone rings and it's my friend, Sherri, from HR.
"Hey, Suzie, what are you doing?"
"Not much, why?"
"Do you think you could take a coffee break?" I didn't see why not. The doc didn't have any appointments for the next hour, but I checked anyhow. I called her back and agreed to meet her in the cafeteria. "Don't talk to anyone until you get here." She made me promise. Okay, that intrigued me and I grabbed my purse and headed out.
I spotted her and Nellie sitting as far away from everyone as you could in the cafeteria. I waved, grabbed some coffee, skipped the doughnut, and joined them.
"So, what's going on?" I was beside myself with curiosity. Sherrie sipped her coffee and leaned forward, motioning us closer. "I have a problem and I need your help."
"Okay, but what is it?" Nellie was obviously as confused as I was.
"I've been given a task by Mr. Waverly."
"What?" We cried in unison and she jumped back and looked around guilty like. A few agents glanced over at us, but they dismissed us. We were just flunkies, not worth their attention. Well, except Solo who was flirting like a mad dog with any woman who would meet his eyes.
"Shhh, this is tip toppy secret." Sherrie hushed us and gestured us forward again.
"You want us to keep a secret from people whose job it is to snoop out secrets?" Nellie blew on her coffee and watched Kuryakin out of the corner of her eye. Everyone knew she had it bad for him. "I'm sensing that we're not poised for success."
"Mr. Waverly thinks we are by the very nature of our jobs."
"So what's the affair?"
"He wants Solo and Kuryakin out of here," Sherrie whispered, staring over at the pair.
"Pardon?" Nellie nearly dropped her cup.
"On vacation, for at least two weeks, preferably three. My supervisor is beside himself. If he has to cash out both of them at the end of the year, he's going to blow half his budget."
"That's impossible, neither of them do vacations." I knew this from their psyche files. Doc Wallach was forever trying to get them to take down time to recharge. They just didn't take vacations. I had a bad feeling that what they thought sick leave was for.
"That's where you two come in." My mind was racing. "Well, they are each other's Achilles heel. If they thought it was for the sake of the other, you might get away with it for awhile, but the minute they figured it out, and they will figure it out, they'd be back spitting nails."
"Mr. Waverly is already making arrangements to keep them put once they get there. It's up to us to make them go." Sherrie was starting to pick up steam here. She shredded her napkin, but I didn't point out the nervous tendency to her.
"Nothing like a challenge on a Monday morning." Nellie pursed her lips.
"Now that you mention it, I think Mr. Kuryakin's looking a bit peaky this morning. He's been anemic for a few weeks." She stood up. "Give me a couple of hours."
"How about you, Suzie?"
"That's leaves me Solo." I watched him absently rub a temple and smiled. Yes, that might just be the answer...
Oh, it was a delicious plot we wove. And best yet, those two never even saw it coming. Heh, they fell for it hook, line and sinker. All it took was Kuryakin collapsing once in the corridor, thanks to a little too much blood being drawn earlier in the day, to make his partner crazy, sorry about the pun, with worry for him. And Kuryakin, he was like playing a fine instrument when it came to Solo's delicate mental balance. Waverly should have given us all raises...or at least the day off when they got back to HQ.
It was coffee break time and we were sitting discussing the latest soap opera, when Sherrie's eyes went wild. "Oh my god, we're going to die," she whispered and headed for the floor.
"What?" I followed her gaze and understood her fear. There stood the Dynamic Duo—tanned, rested and relaxed, but really, really angry. It didn't take them but a second to spot us. I was just about to join Sherrie, but they crossed the room way too fast.
"Ladies." Solo's voice was clipped. Kuryakin was right behind him, standing very closer. If I was one to seriously read something into body language, something had changed in Tahiti.
"Hi, guys," Nellie said, sneaking a look at her watch. "My coffee break is over, I need to get back." She was suddenly confronted by a very formidable bit of Mr. Kuryakin. In any other circumstance, I think she would have done handsprings, but now she looked like she was going to be seriously ill. It didn't escape me that all the tables around us were suddenly empty and there was a dead silence in the normally buzzing cafeteria. Even the deep fryers were silent.
"I think you can tarry for a moment." There was a burr to Kuryakin's accent that he usually kept pretty hidden. This was a clear indication that he wasn't happy. He locked eyes with Nellie. "My 'delicate' medical condition, Nurse? Would you care to discuss it with me?"
"Well at least I didn't think you were pregnant, "Solo said, one corner of his mouth twitching up in a smile. "It wasn't through lack of trying." Oh God, the look Kuryakin shot him—I didn't even want to go there.
"At least I wasn't on the verge of complete mental collapse, was I, Ms. Fields." Solo fastened those hypnotic eyes on me and it was all I could do to swallow. "I think it was rather callous and unprofessional of you to play Mr. Kuryakin that way."
"I wasn't played," Kuryakin muttered. There was a hint of gold through his shirt. That was new, as was some interesting bruising they both sported. Obviously they'd mix it up in a bar or something. In fact that bruising could very easily be mistaken for hickeys. Solo and Kuryakin? Naw, they weren't...were they?
"In any event, the next time you wish to engage in your little games, I would advise you to reconsider your targets. Neither of us will be as forgiving in the future." Solo snapped his fingers and like a trained dog, Kuryakin followed him out on his heels, possibly just a bit too eagerly, like they had some place very important to go.
"Oh my God, I thought we were going to die." Nellie murmured, fanning herself.
"I'm still not convinced that we aren't." I looked around for a derring-do Section Three to escort me back to my desk, but they'd all disappeared into the woodwork—the worms.
Still, the corridor was clear and I took a deep breath. Figures, they were all talk.
I got back to my desk and went to check my appointment calendar for the next patient. It was missing. That was odd. I pulled open my top drawer and there was a loud snap. I very nearly fell out of my chair and the doc was out of his office the second he heard me scream.
"I suspect Mr. Solo and Mr. Kuryakin paid me a visit," I muttered. He merely nodded and returned to his office. I was a little more cautious with the next one, but it was fine. Then I opened the middle drawer and gasped. There was a pearl necklace sitting there. The bag beneath it said Tahiti and there were only two people I knew of who had been in Tahiti recently.
The phone rang and I jumped just a little. "Hello?"
"Um, Suzy, did you happen to have something explode on you?"
"Uh huh. Did you happen to find something?"
"Pearl earrings. You?"
"A pearl necklace." I could only guess what treasure awaited Sherrie and I reflected back upon that very odd scene in the cafeteria. Was I reading more into it than I should? "Nellie, what the hell did we do?"
"I think we just reduced the dating pool by two"
So did I, but I couldn't wait to type up the doc's note then next time he met with Solo or Kuryakin. I had a very odd feeling that they'd just upper the stakes in their partnership to a whole new level...