The Renewal Affair Part 1This is a featured page

To set a gloss on faint deeds, hollow welcomes,
Recanting goodness, sorry ere ‘tis shown;
But where there is true friendship, there needs none.
~William Shakespeare

The Renewal Affair

There are old, tall buildings in Washington. They house different business associations, different government groups, and different political factions, including the famous CIA. Inside one of the many CIA headquarters, there is a secret door. Behind that door, there is a filing cabinet.

Surrounded by boxes of gizmos and old, broken frames that cover the pictures they hold with dirty, cracked glass, the shelves holding orderly rolls of papers, the schematics for new and fantastic weapons and tools of espionage, the file cabinet is easily lost to the eye, but it is the most important.

It is the most important because it holds the dates, the mission info, the names, the story of a long gone organization. All of it shoveled and lumped together here in a windowless room behind a doorless wall. If one were to go through the files, using only a flashlight to shine on words that have not been read for years, one would find two names.

Two names among many, many others. They don’t seem to stand out, being at the far opposite ends of the alphabetic lists, one in K, one in S. They’re only simple field agents, not leaders, like the famous Mr. Alexander Waverly. Even the thickness of their files, though they far outweigh the others, is not enough to warrant more than a passing glance in the dim light.

It is their picture.

All the other agents have their own image, looking straight ahead, eyes firm, as if bearing witness to the difficulties they expect to encounter on the road ahead. Oriental, Mexican, Caucasian, Negro, they’re all there. Young people ready to fight for justice in their world.

But the picture of these two is different. They’re not alone. They’re together. It was obviously posted over their original identification images, but the exact identity of each is made clear with a fine penmark arrow.

The first has blonde hair and intense blue eyes. He straightens his tie as if uncomfortable with formal dress, looking positively awkward beside the other, whose dark, laughing eyes go well with his dark hair and the suit that he wears comfortably. The second points imposingly at the camera, perhaps directing his comrade where to look while capturing a defiant gesture forever on paper. They are so unalike, yet there is something in the way they stand together that speaks of ease, of familiarity, of friendship.

The names of each file show how worlds apart they are, and give no indication of how they could be so close. But these are their names, and this is their story.

Illya Kuryakin,

And Napoleon Solo.


Napoleon Solo came from a family that was well off. But it was not an honored family, one with a name you could trace back to the 16th century, or descended from kings. It was one of those families that grow rich through a gradual buildup of successful, ruthless business. Its power was not as great as some, yet they could make a person disappear if absolutely necessary. They did not deal in illegal business, but they were not beyond blackmail or threats to maintain the family’s good name.

A little boy was born into this family in an apartment suite in the early dawn, when orange sunlight spilled across the room. His father and mother were married, but the marriage was not smiled upon by the patriarchs of the family. The mother was the daughter of an ambassador to Greece, and the apple of his eye. Upon her the family had fastened hopes of marrying her off to a rich connection. But as is sometimes the way with the unpredictable young, she made her own choice.

His father was a playboy. A flirter, a charmer, easy to get along with. Easy to lose your heart to. But in Napoleon’s mother he seemed to have at last found true love. She had beautiful, big brown eyes with dark hair that went down to her waist in a wavy, lush expanse. She was always brushing it.

His father also had brown eyes, but they seemed to sparkle with an inner fire, while his hair was a shock of mousy brown. He was not well learned, but what he could say he said with grace and ease, falling nicely on the ear until it sounded like real poetry.

But he seemed to drop all his charming ways with her. He was earnest, kind, indulging. He would pour out to her the troubles of his long and messy life, his bitter disappointments, his hopeless ambitions.

And she would listen, finding no good advice coming to her mind save one thing; to trust in their love, to live for nothing but their love and their child. He vowed to do so with a kiss, with a stroke to the baby’s head. Probably he would have kept this vow, if he had not been murdered.

Oh, no one ever said so outright. But one day, his body was found in the street, his neck broken. The ban against the daughter of the family was lifted, and they told her to come back home. The widow, pale, with her eyes wide and wet and mute with her shattered dreams and her broken heart, packed up her things. The baby, lying in a curious pile of white linen on the bed, screamed with all his might as he twisted one of his father’s ties in his tiny fists.

When he came home, the family gravely accepted him as the new heir. He was not a Vivaldi or a Chinoci or a Spihandri, but he would do. A boy named Napoleon from the family of Nathan Solo, whoever he was. The mother died soon after coming home, and he was raised by his grandparents and the whole court of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

He was an intelligent child, something he had obviously received from his mother, a devotee of Shakespeare and Beowulf and many other ancient writings. There were few things the child liked more to do than read. Indeed there was not much else for him to do, except to use his astonishing charm and adorable face to con old and young ladies into thinking him quite a wonderful little man. This, his grandfather noted with some disapproval and some gratefulness, was one useful quality from his father.

He was also spoiled. Anything he wanted was his, often whether it was good for him or not. Anything but love. He was permitted to offend anyone, from aunts to maids to the milkman. As long as the eagle eye of his grandfather didn’t catch him, he was safe. But he did not thrive. He was sickly, both in mind and body and soul, surrounded by old people who cared nothing for him so long as he got good grades and knew his manners. He had no friends save his cousins, whom he thought himself above because he had been in the company of mature intellects all his life.

But then his admiral grandfather came along for a visit. The boy didn’t like him very much, with his rough, red face and hands and the white hair that sprung up in all directions. The booming voice said, “And here’s my grandson! He doesn’t look very well, George. Let me take him on a cruise. Hearty eating and the good salt wind will put some flesh on him!”

It was when he first set hesitant foot on a rolling deck that Napoleon found a lifelong passion. He learned everything. He loved everything about it. The sea, the great expanse of mysterious, free, and beautiful water. The sunshine that bounced either hot and brilliant or red and soft from the waves. The smell of the ocean, the floating red kelp, the sea birds that seemed to have so much more personality than any sparrow. He embraced it whole-heartedly, becoming a pride to his admiral grandfather and a surprise to his ambassador one.

He was never loved, but he found something to love. A poor, pitiful substitute, but a substitute nonetheless. As soon as he was old enough, he succeeded in persuading his grandfather to buy him a yacht, which he used to the best of his ability.

When he entered college, he did very well, considering how lazy he was and more apt to play with girls or combat in sports. He seemed to do well with everything, as if he was blessed by luck. But there was a hollowness in his laughter at parties, a dullness in his eyes that spoke a far different story from the happy and boisterous youth he pretended to be. But no one noticed, no one cared, as long as Napoleon had him or her on his friend’s list and smiled at them as they passed in the hall.

Napoleon often thought to himself that he merely existed. He had no purpose, nothing to look forward to save going to what he called home. No one to fight for, nothing to compete for except sports, which he loved. But he lacked any true ambition save to pass one day and then another.

Until the day came when his grandfathers both died a year apart, one in a storm at sea, the other suddenly, while playing chess with a friend. His grandmother lingered until after his college years before passing away in the night. It should have shamed him that he felt no sorrow. But it didn’t. He had never been loved, and had never loved. It was as simple as that. They were gone, and he was still here.

Of course, the young man found himself swamped by admirers, new ‘friends’, people who wanted favors from him. Napoleon had a keen and intelligent mind, and saw through every facade of friendliness easily. It disgusted him. Disgusted him that these human beings who had barely acknowledged him before now kissed the ground he tread on for the sake of the sack of gold he now carried. So he threw down the gold.

He distributed it among his family, among those so-called friends, among the poor, and among different charities. He hoped that with small recompense, they would leave him alone and not chase him for what he was about to do.

In one day, he changed his name forever and cut off all ties with the Brigson family. He changed his name from Napoleon Brigson to his real name, the name given him by his mysterious father. He called himself Napoleon Solo. He took a deep breath and strode out of his home forever, to find a new life.


Illya Kuryakin was a child born amidst superstitions, singing, and the howling of wolves in hungry Russia. He was born in a Gypsy camp under the stars and the moon and beneath the long, cold mountain ranges’ shadows.

It was summer. The fire burned beneath the pot with the spicy smell of the stew that gypsies are so fond of. It was really the only way to eat what little food they got properly. Mostly everyone was starving in Russia since Lenin took over after World War II. The economy was destroyed and people grew ugly in the fight for survival.

In one of the ragged tents, several children peaked through the tent flaps curiously, the two youngest girls with their hands in their mouth. Most of them had thick, dark hair and eyes, but a few showed European genes, such as blonde hair and blue eyes.

It was from their mother that these genes came. The father, Mikhail, chased them away with a curt word before turning to hold his wife Natalya’s hand. She smiled at him shyly, a bundle of yet more rags cradled in her arm. The baby wailed, but she smiled at him. A healthy sign. Mikhail smoothed back her blonde-brown hair and leaned over appraisingly. “Huh. Blonde hair…again! What a crazy color.” He muttered. She just laughed and pulled him down for a kiss.

“A name fitting for the Kuryakin family.” Mikhail finally said, running a finger down the baby’s nose. “He’s a boy…Illya. Short and good. That way I won’t mess him up with the others. Too many kids.” He groused, sitting back again. But as the said children made a hazardous return and crept inside, there was no mistaking the love in his eyes, or the tenderness with which he held a toddler girl in his lap.

Outside, an old woman started a dance merely by clapping her hands. Her love of beat and music stirred suddenly by that simple noise, a little girl leapt up and began to dance around the fire. A man from somewhere behind dumped his dog off his lap and pulled out an accordion.

“To music too. A good sign. He will play so well.” Natalya sighed softly.

And he did play well. The little boy was very popular at the camp, swift on his feet and quick with any tune. He sung a little song of his own making to each melody he heard until he learned better to communicate with others. His first years he would run wild through the woods, following the train, or staying behind for a few days before tracking them for fun. It was an excellent skill that came in handy when stalking game in the snowy forests. He was ten when his oldest sister, Dyana, was married. He danced at her wedding. From that time on, it seemed he was always dancing at his siblings’ weddings, until he was 16, and there were no more siblings to be married.

His parents steered him towards this girl and that in the practical, ungentle way they had adopted since living like nomads. He easily slipped away, protesting. He had found no one yet to love. Maybe he never would. He grew proficient with the bow and arrow, the boxing, and riding. And he never lost his love of music.

But when he was 17, his father died. It was a sudden fight as they camped on the outskirts of a city. Drunken Russians rode up, dismounted, and carried on a loud conversation of their own by the gypsy fire, their wet clothes steaming. Illya’s father sat uneasily on the other side, watching them. Illya crouched by them without fear, marveling at their beards and cloaks and strange way of talking.

A girl, Miralda, leaned over awkwardly to check the roasting meat, trying not to touch the strangers. The Russian nearest her, without warning, shot a hand out around her waist and pulled her into his lap. She screamed. Without thinking, only seeing a daughter of his camp, of his friends, of his family, in distress, Illya launched himself onto the Russian, bowling Miralda out of his grasp.

As the Russian sat up roaring with Illya on top of him, Mikhail grabbed Illya by the collar and tore him off and away. Crying, Miralda ran off to her own tent. Mikhail shuffled his son beside him in a protective stance. Illya was small of build, short and slender. His father was huge. Illya always felt like a little boy beside him.

The Russians stood as one. The man Illya had pushed over pulled something from his belt. A gun. He aimed it at Illya with a snarl and a spew of cursing. In one blinding, horrible second, Mikhail pulled Illya behind him, and the gun went off.

Illya saw his big, strong father jerk, take a step, and fall forward. Sliding, crashing into the mud by the fire.

The Russians urged each other and their still seething partner onto the horses, their drunken rage calmed by the sight of the blood that poured out of the big gypsy. Illya let up a wail of rage, snatched up a rock, and threw it. He would have hit the third man in the back of the skull if he had been calm, but sorrow and hatred and tears blurred his eyes and shook his arm. The rock hit the horse’s rump, and it took off with a scream, bearing its rider along.

Then, as their hoof beats died away, Illya dropped to his knees in the mud and pushed over his father’s body. The eyes were closed, the chest was still. He clenched his hands together and bowed his head under the rain.

It was not long after this that he left his mother with friends and turned his back on the gypsy life forever. He wasn’t fleeing, he was charging. Charging right into the world at large, intent on becoming a man and understanding people, justice, and society. What he found pleased him very little.

He found society oppressive, justice lacking, and people either evil or stupid. He saw his father’s murder, still unavenged, and indignant anger flared within him. He must see justice through. If not for his father, then for a few. The only thing worth doing in this world was doing right. To stop wrong.

He worked hard, costing both his body and his mind in a feverish effort to save up and learn what he had missed during his life. He learned swiftly. He did not give money away, yet he made sure he earned no more than he needed either. He was closemouthed, introvert, always turning problems over in his mind. People were not his enemies. What they did was.

He made it into the University of Georgia at 24, cramming his brain as full as he could, hungering for knowledge. It was as if the murder of his father had shown him the great chasm that separated him from the civilized world, and his driving ambition was to cross it.

And when he was done with the University, all set with a degree in Sciences, wise in a variety of other things such as mathematics and language and grammar, he set out to find a new life.


Mr. Waverly shuffled through the papers at his desk a moment, holding a pipe in one hand as he flipped through pages with the other. Without giving an indication of his thoughts or feelings, he looked up at the young man standing before his desk.

The man stood easily, seeming to be at comfort with his surroundings. But there was an alertness in him as well, like a spring ready to unleash itself. His face was handsome, but it was his dark eyes that held the real power. They were always laughing. Whether at you or himself or at some private joke it didn’t matter, but it had an unnerving quality on angry people and an amusing quality on happy ones. His dark hair was neatly combed, one hand resting in his pocket, almost carelessly, as he stood straight before the desk. He was dressed impeccably.

Waverly pretended to finally notice him. “Oh uh, do sit down, Mr. Solo.” Gesturing at a chair before scanning the papers again.

Napoleon sat down and clasped his hands, putting them on the table, studying Mr. Waverly as much as Mr. Waverly was studying him. Finally, Mr. Waverly put the papers down. He spoke without looking at the young man, his eyes lingering on the words. “Mr. Napoleon Solo, name changed about a year ago from Napoleon Brigson, when you gave away your inheritance and proceeded to lose contact somewhat eagerly with all your relatives. You’ve spent the last few months taking martial arts, learning languages, studying code breaking, and reading about foreign countries. Almost as if you were planning to become a spy of some sort. Is that so? Was U.N.C.L.E. your original intention?”

“No sir, not immediately.” Mr. Waverly noticed how effortlessly the man spoke. He would be good for assuming different identities. “At first I merely intended to travel the world. But in my foreign readings I came across U.N.C.L.E. propaganda and thought I’d take a try at it.”

“One rarely ‘takes a try’ at secret service, Mr. Solo. This is hardly a job to take on lightly. Your safety along with the safety of whole nations is often at stake.” Mr. Waverly reminded him.

“Well what I meant to say sir, is that I want to become a part of U.N.C.L.E.. I could tell you the usual story, wanting to save the world, wanting to keep people safe, a love of humanity, I’m in the wrong office, but actually…” Here he met Mr. Waverly’s eyes with such an intent, sad look that Waverly was taken aback. “I want to do what’s right. And I want to do that for my entire life.”

Waverly looked at the papers again, pretending to mull it over. But already, his mind was made up. This young man had the skills and the heart needed. More than that, he needed this job. It was more than a job, it was a trust, a responsibility. And this young man needed to be trusted. Not for his good qualities, but for his good intentions. Maybe, judging by his face and attitude, people in life had always appreciated his outward talents. There had always been people there to appreciate his face, his voice, and eloquent speech, but there had been no one to appreciate his heart.

Mr. Waverly was not given to sentiment, either shown or hidden, but he knew what he had to do, if he didn’t want to see this young man go down in a spiral of despair and wasted affections and death.

“Your application is accepted, Mr. Solo. You may report to education section 3 tomorrow morning.”


Yet again, Mr. Waverly shuffled through the papers at his desk a moment, holding a pipe in one hand as he flipped through pages with the other. Without giving an indication of his thoughts or feelings, he looked up at another young man standing before his desk.

The man was short and slender, with a slouched way in his shoulders. But his unimpressive stature was far outdone by the intensity of his blue eyes that peered scrutinizingly at Mr. Waverly, as if putting him in a certain catalogue of humanity. His every action was respectful, but every look and every word was rebellious and challenging. His blonde hair was carelessly combed, his suit unbuttoned. He seemed to be burning with an energy, with a cause.

“Sit down, Mr. Kuryakin.” Waverly gestured. The Russian slid into his seat and shifted to get comfortable. “You’re of Russian Gypsy blood, took High School and some Grade School and went to the University of Georgia in only 7 years. Impressive, by the way. You are proficient in sports and martial arts, and your degree in Science was the top of your class. You know Russian, Romany, English, and a few others. Why do you want to join U.N.C.L.E., Mr. Kuryakin?”

Illya leaned over the table a little. “Mr. Waverly…I had a good childhood. But when my father was murdered, I became thirsty for justice. I could not find it. Anywhere. So, I went to school. And while reading, I found out about U.N.C.L.E.. I want to bring justice to people who are like I was then, ignorant, weak, poor. I want to prevent what happened to me from happening to them.”

Mr. Waverly rubbed his chin a little before taking a whiff of his pipe, observing this intense Russian. Maybe he would get in trouble for all these charity cases, but he could see that Illya needed U.N.C.L.E. as well. He needed something to guide his great energy and zeal, something to keep him burning bright. Without it, Illya would either fade away or die in some wasted fight for justice against an unstoppable force. No, the only place where he could fight for justice was in the only group that defended justice actively. U.N.C.L.E..

With a movement of his hand, he pushed the papers into a pile. “Mr. Kuryakin, your application is accepted. Welcome to U.N.C.L.E.. Report to education section 3 tomorrow morning.”

Illya gave him a smile of gratitude. Just looking at it, Waverly could see how little it was used. Yes, he had truly given the young man a great gift. He watched as the Russian went out the door.

Reaching into his drawer, he pulled out Solo’s picture and held it with Illya’s, wondering how on earth two such unfortunates managed to come to his office on the same day. They were so different in name, culture, looks, and needs, but they both needed. They both came to his office, and they both found the answer to their trials.

Waverly smiled and shook his head at his own sentimental ideas. He folded the files neatly, put them away, and concentrated on that report to the Chilean government.

**to be continued**

Latest page update: made by beginnereditor , Mar 30 2011, 7:36 PM EDT (about this update About This Update beginnereditor Edited by beginnereditor

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NappySappy well done~ 0 Mar 31 2011, 4:29 PM EDT by NappySappy
Thread started: Mar 31 2011, 4:29 PM EDT  Watch
Cool story...I love the ones where Waverly mentors the guys and provides them a home of sorts. I also enjoyed the history you gave the characters. Thanks!
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