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Summer Solstice Story Part One
For mrua7
From rosywonder

I have many excuses for this story being so late and so long, but I won't bore you with them here.  If you are minded to read this, Part Two will follow shortly.  My tribute to all things British including our glorious summer weather.  I am having a problem uploading the original picture but perhaps mr will be kind enough to display it if I can't.  Suffice it to say, it's that one where they're all stood round that ridiculous globe thingy in Waverly's office . . . .

 

Description: http://pics.livejournal.com/mrua7/pic/0001c7se/s640x480























choice

‘She’s in a camp?’ Illya said, glancing sideways at the overstretched world spreading over the hemispherical globe in front of him.  Napoleon stood up slowly, stretching himself imperceptibly like a cat, and took his hands off the Indian Ocean where he had been leaning as he spoke.

The word ‘camp’ had an entirely different connotation to the Russian as his partner was only just becoming aware.  Aware, he thought, but not really fully knowledgeable about Illya’s past and why the word might cause him to wince slightly as his gaze followed Napoleon’s hand, which had returned to the globe slightly west of its previous position.

     ‘Oh, not the sort of camp you may be imagining, Mr Kuryakin’ Waverly said aimiably, his fingers gently strumming a beat on the file by his side.  ‘No; Miss Costelloe is at present with her family at, er, ah yes, Hodgkin’s Holiday Camp, Skegness, Lincolnshire’ he continued, removing a sheet from the file. 

They had been given the details of the assignment as they came in. 

‘Dorothy Costelloe’ Napoleon read out, staring at the photograph clipped to the edge of his sheet.  ‘Ah yes, working-class girl makes good.’  Illya pursed his lips and gently removed the paper from his partner, pushing the image sideways as he studied the text.

‘It says here that her doctorate was rated as ‘a breakthrough in the field of plant genetics’ he muttered, raising his eyebrows as he sifted through the details of her research below. 

‘Yes, apparently Dr Costelloe has come up with a way of modifying the genes of plants, for entirely worthy purposes, one would hope’ Waverly interjected.  ‘However, as you can see Mr Kuryakin, she now needs to find the right environment in which to continue her work. I’m afraid the world would be in imminent and serious danger if her research ideas were to be developed with the help of a rather more, let us say, sinister organisation.’

Illya returned the photograph to its original position, noting the rather charming tilted nose of the girl, whose open face beneath eyes that challenged the beholder to look away, was covered with a broad mass of freckles.

‘I bet she’s a redhead’ Napoleon whispered, taking back the sheet. 

‘And that is significant?’ his partner replied rather wearily.

‘It could be’ Napoleon replied cheerfully.

‘You have four days gentlemen to persuade Dr Costelloe that her future lies, at least to begin with, with this organisation rather than with our friends at THRUSH. We’re reliably informed by our London office that, as far as we know, Dr Costelloe has not been approached by that organisation, in fact I believe they are not aware of her or her research to date.’

‘So why have we only four days, sir?’ Napoleon asked, picking up a silent vibe from his partner that exactly the same question had been forming in the Russian’s mind.

‘In four days’ time, which is, if I’m not mistaken, the Summer Solstice, Mr Solo, Dr Costelloe’s research will be published.  Interesting though it is, it’s unlikely that anyone else could be capable of developing this work other than its originator, so it is vital, Mr Solo, that she is ‘brought into the fold’ as it were, before then.’

‘And if we fail to do that?’ Illya said sombrely, looking at the picture of the woman again.  Waverly put down the file he was holding and looked steadily at both men.

‘I think you know the answer to that, Mr Kuryakin’ he said, equally seriously. 

*************

‘You mean you managed to get all you need for four days in that?’  Illya banged down his suitcase on the narrow bed his side of the chalet and slid the locks open.  He could feel Napoleon behind him, mainly because the narrow gangway between the beds did not allow any more than a rather intimate movement between them.

‘Unlike you, this mission does not revolve round my wardrobe’ Illya hissed, removing his clothes and then carefully revealing the arsenal of weapons hidden beneath them.  The beginnings of what felt to him like a close personal relationship had begun to grow between them in the last weeks, Illya charting its course from the turning point of his first spell in Medical when Solo had talked frankly and at length of what had led up to their pairing.  The barbed conversations that were now a regular feature of their relationship felt suddenly right, signifying a level of trust in the other that he had felt with no-one since Misha had shared his cabin on board the Moskva a lifetime ago.

He stroked the silencer of the Walther, now lying inert on the dark fabric of his suitcase bottom, conscious that the same thoughts were now flooding through his partner’s mind.

‘It won’t come to that’ Solo said suddenly, causing him to straighten.

‘It might’ Illya replied, covering up the weapons and stowing his suitcase in the wardrobe.  He turned round and groaned.  Napoleon had only half emptied his rather larger case and already the bed seemed full of clothes.

‘Is all that really necessary?’ he fumed, moving towards the miniscule bathroom squeezed in at the end of the chalet.  He was not surprised at the lack of a shower, an idea the British still seemed to find novel.  Napoleon followed him into the room, grimacing at its sparseness.

‘Jeez’ he said, blowing softly out of his lips.  ‘Welcome to Hodgkin’s Holiday Hell.’ Napoleon had spotted the rather feeble attempt at alliteration on a massive wooden hoarding above the gates of the camp as they roared in after a gut-churning journey from London with Kuryakin at the wheel.  It was soon apparent from one look at their accommodation that camp life was going to be far from the ‘holiday heaven’ promised on the hoarding, at least in his opinion.  His partner seemed to feel differently, however.  Illya grinned happily at his partner’s expression and shoved his way past Napoleon back into the bedroom.

‘The trouble with you, Napoleon, is that you’ve become softened by your life of luxury in that apartment of yours and have forgotten the simple pleasures of life’ Illya said, diving onto his bed and rolling over onto his back, a look of apparent contentment suffusing his features. 

A sudden blare of what sounded like trumpets playing made him frown.  Napoleon went over to the window, and pulling back the net curtain, opened it to hear more clearly.

‘Good afternoon campers and welcome to Hodgkin’s Holiday HEAVEN!’ a voice with a decidedly midlands accent boomed out.  Don’t delay, it’s funtime in the South Seas ballroom at eight o’clock tonight, when the team will be welcoming you to an evening of entertainment and romance to the music of Howard Stone and the Upbeats.  Before that, it’s splash time in the outside pool with big Jim and the Redcoats, and at six o’clock tea will be served by our friendly staff in the Cascade Cafeteria.’

‘Tea?’ Napoleon said, firmly shutting the window as the wind blasted the curtain into the air.  Illya sat up.

‘They mean dinner.  This is England’ he said, ‘Breakfast, dinner, tea, in that order.’  He stood up and began to rapidly take off his clothes, flinging them down on the bed before he walked into the bathroom.  ‘I’ll have a bath first and then have a look round, while you doll yourself up for the benefit of Miss Costelloe’ he said disparagingly, opening up the taps to full blast.

He had got into the bath and was washing his hair when Napoleon came in.

‘I was thinking’ he said, sitting on the toilet and watching the Russian scrubbing away at his hair, ‘how they got to know about the girl.’  Illya stopped scrubbing momentarily and pushed his hair backwards off his face.

‘Who do you mean, ‘they’?’

‘Chesters and Steele.  They knew about her when they made that wisecrack in the canteen, remember?’  Illya lent backwards suddenly and disappeared under the water, submerging again with his hair now plastered to his head.

‘Waverly must have told them.’

‘No, he can’t have.  It was confidential, Waverly said.  Our big chance, remember, Comrade?  Somehow they know and knowing they know worries me.’  Illya shrugged and then put his hand out for the towel lying in wait at the end of the bath.

‘Steele has a friend in the London office’ Illya said slowly.  He clambered to his feet and without embarrassment stood drying his hair before winding the towel round himself and yanking the sink plug chain with his foot.

‘If they know, then how will that affect us?’ he said, seemingly unaware of the extraordinary mass of hair stood up on end all over his head.  Napoleon reached back and handed him a comb.

‘Comb it before it dries that way’ he said.  ‘The answer to your question is ‘I don’t know’ but you can take it from me that from now on we need to be aware of it.’

‘You think he still has something against me?’ Illya said, attempting to comb through the errant locks.

‘No.  I think he has something against us’ Napoleon said, ‘something I get the feeling which may lead us all into a situation which we may have difficulty controlling.’

************

A decidedly icy gust of wind coming in from the North Sea forced Napoleon back into the chalet to collect a rather smart cardigan he had seen his partner scowling at before they left for the ballroom.  Illya had warned him about the decidedly lowbrow dress code and for once he had been proved right.  Most of the couples sitting at tables round the dance floor looked like they were, the English at play.  The camp had attracted a particular stratum of English society; those working people eager to have their holiday organised for them from morning until night, at a place far enough away to be different but near enough to still be familiar.

Napoleon leaned back on his chair and scanned the expectant faces from his vantage point at the side of the ballroom.  They had been sure that at teatime Dorothy Costelloe was not present in the huge cafeteria where he had picked at, and the Russian had wolfed down a lumpy combination of sausages and mashed potato followed by a rubbery looking lemon meringue pie.  He could see Kuryakin approaching now with two drinks from the bar, a gaggle of girls with big skirts and wide hairbands giving him admiring looks as he passed.

He slapped down two rather watery looking pints of beer onto their table and sat down, a deceptively cheerful appearance on his usually unreadable face.

‘You’re enjoying this’ Solo said through the froth of the beer as Illya downed his drink before wiping the foam from his lips with his hand. 

The Russian shrugged rather waspishly and glanced round, the serious, intelligent look returning to his face as his gaze took in the assembled campers. 

‘She’s at the back, with who I imagine are her parents and her brother’ he said without looking at Napoleon. 

Their ploy of keeping the rather large table free by a combination of rather loud and offensive behaviour with each other and unpleasant glares to anyone who dared to approach, made it almost impossible for the Costelloes to find anywhere else to sit other than with the two young men they now seemed to be heading towards.

‘Your prediction about Miss Costelloe seems to have been accurate’ Illya murmured.  To describe her hair as ‘red’ did it less than justice.  It was an astonishing shade, resembling something in a perpetual state of being on fire, Napoleon thought as she approached.

From the beginning Dorothy Costelloe looked disconnected from her family.  Her colouring was not shared by any of the others, but Illya detected something similar in the eyes between mother and daughter.  Her father was a short-necked bull of a man, what remained of his hair plastered over his head in thin greasy strands, whilst his stomach bulged over the ill-fitting trousers Napoleon viewed with disdain from the other side of the table.  The mother followed behind the others partially dragging a chubby boy of about eight with dark brown hair plastered down in similar style to his father’s.

‘Here, mother’ Mr Costelloe said, in a voice that brooked no opposition, giving the two agents a stare before pulling out a chair and parking his rather large backside onto it with a grunt.  Illya jumped to his feet and helped Mrs Costelloe to her place, aware that his partner was doing the same in a slightly more intimate way, for her daughter.  Illya was momentarily diverted by the band striking up the first piece of music, and stared towards them until startled by a sharp pain in his ribs.

‘Can’t see.’  The youngest Costelloe had driven a chair between his mother and Illya and was now attempting to stand on the seat.  Illya noticed Dorothy groan slightly and look down, her red hair falling forward over her face as if to cover her feelings too.

‘Get us a drink, Dot’ her mother suddenly said in a voice that sounded as worn out as its owner looked. 

‘No, I’ll get them; what’ll it be, folks?’  Napoleon had stood up again, a wide smile forcing itself onto his features in the murky gloom of the ballroom. After collecting their orders, Napoleon headed off towards the bar, a smoking volcano display incongruously placed behind the counter suddenly erupting in a whiff of sulphurous looking smoke as he approached.

‘Is he a Yank?’ Mr Costelloe said, dispensing with the usual formalities of introduction.  Illya blinked slightly and smiled.

‘Um yes.  He’s with the United States Air Force.  We met at University.’  Costelloe sniffed slightly and gave Illya a withering look.

‘He looks like a military man, I can tell.’  He returned his attention to Illya, a slight scowl creasing his features.

‘So what’s your Uncle Bob then?’ Illya’s look of complete mystification was broken by Dorothy Costelloe’s voice, whispering in his ear.

‘He means job, you know, rhyming slang?’  Illya turned slightly. Her eyes were a strong shade of green, like a spring lawn after rain, even in the half-light of the room. He found himself struggling to break their gaze, until she squeezed his arm slightly with her hand, breaking the spell.

‘Oh, er, I’m still a student.’ Mr Costello’s opinions were all immediately confirmed by the statement.  He gave his wife a decidedly less subtle nudge and nodded his head knowingly.

‘I thought so, mother.  Posh accent and that long hair, says it all.’  Dorothy leaned forward slightly and murmured, ‘Please forgive my father’s bigotry.  He thinks students are leaches on society, don’t you dad?’  There was a sudden, awkward silence, Mrs Costelloe looking anxiously like a startled rabbit between the other three adults.  Even Dorothy’s brother paused from his ceaseless jumping on and off the seat, until the tension was relieved by Napoleon’s return with the drinks.

‘There you go, folks’ said Napoleon, immediately aware of the rather electric atmosphere round the table.  ‘Sorry, there was a run on the snowball cocktails’ he carried on, handing a huge glass of the yellow drink to Mrs Costelloe.  Before he could speak to Illya, Dorothy got up.

‘It’s past Alan’s bedtime.  When he’s finished that drink I’ll take him back.  Alan, who was in the middle of swigging down a large glass of some evil looking fruit soda, paused.

‘It’s not fair!’ 

Illya was unfortunate enough to be sitting beside him, the pitch and volume of his complaint making his eardrums ring.  He could hear Alan’s mother pleading with him in the same weary voice he had heard all evening. He turned slightly and looked the boy in the eye.

‘Stop it now’ he said very firmly in a voice that only he and the startled eyes staring into his could hear.  ‘Your sister and I will take you back to your chalet now.  Do you understand?’

‘Ye-es.’ There was a moment’s silence before Alan slid from his seat and meekly put his hand into Illya’s.

‘Now say goodnight to your parents and Mr Solo, Alan.’

Napoleon smiled weakly as he watched them leave the ballroom.

‘He’s very good with children’ he said encouragingly.

************




I'm in. Part 2, 3 and 4 please ;) It is long, you said.

Oh thanks, but it shouldn't be too long! I just can't help myself. Hope there is quality as well as quantity in it all.

Please make it as long as you like. I can read forever... well, almost. It's summer, so here's your chance to write to your heart's content. And ours :D

How kind. Let's hope you enjoy part two then.

Very interesting beginning, can't wait to see where you are going with this one.

Thanks very much for reading. Choices will have to be made in part two . . .

Thanks Rosemary! I'm loving my story!. Yes very English, and liked the nice little touch of "Bob's your Uncle!' And am thrilled you made her a red head with freckles. I'm looking forward to the next chapter, and feel free to add more if of a mind to!

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