Disclaimer: All characters from the TV show Man from
U.N.C.L.E. belong to the show's owners, not to me. I make no money from
writing, I do it for fun. I have nothing worth suing, so please don't.
Note: Anyone who notices a historical goof on my part, please, please, tell me. I tried to get rid of them all, but I'm not perfect..
Summary: Napoleon's first view of America.
Napoleon Solo stepped out onto the main deck, eyes wide as he stared at the city spreading out from the docks. Lisbon had been big, but nothing compared to New York. With his eyes full of wonder, he headed for the railing. All around him men rushed past, agilely dodging his slow, hesitant steps. Everywhere he looked there were ships. The harbor was full. Ships being loaded with heavy crates of material. Ships off-loading supplies. Ships being towed away from their berths and others being carefully brought in from the sea.
"There you are! I've been lookin' for you." The purser's familiar voice came over Napoleon's shoulder. "First time in America, boy?"
"No, sir. First time in New York." Napoleon answered automatically, eyes still fixed on the busy docks. "Is it always like this?"
"Yep. This city is always moving." The man grinned. "Come along. There are men waiting for you at the gang plank."
"Who?" Napoleon asked warily. His trip through Europe had taught him caution.
"State Department men. The captain checked their papers. They're real. The Army man with them is real too." The purser's voice dropped. "I don't know what you did before you got on board, boy, but I've never seen the Captain issuer sidearms to the greeting party before."
Napoleon nodded. The ship was the fastest, safest way for him to get to America. Britain was too dangerous for the moment. Bomber raids and U-boats acted as a deterant to shipping from Europe to the island nation. Only nuetral Portugal had allowed him safe passage home. His 'Uncle Alex' had unhappily put him aboard the Mary Eliza promising Napoleon that someone would meet him in New York.
Squaring his shoulders and checking that his jacket was properly settled, Napoleon followed the purser. As his tension mounted, his hand slid into his pocket, fingers gently caressing the small revolver. If he had to, he would use it and flee. Hopefully, he would have time to destroy the small packet of information if that happened. Briefly, he wondered if he had the nerve to be a spy. As his stomach churned, he doubted it.
Three men stood to the side of the gang plank. Nearby stood the largest men of the ship, all keeping their eyes on the strangers. The fact that one of them was wearing a uniform didn't matter to them. As Napoleon drew closer, they spread out, forming a line between him and them.
"You're Napoleon Solo?" One of the men asked, eyes speculative as he watched the sailors.
Napoleon looked at them, waiting patiently.
"Your Uncle Alex hates boats. He prefers to fly." The man carefully enunciated the words. "Too bad he is a fisherman."
"I'm Napoleon Solo." Napoleon answered the original question. As soon as he spoke the sailors stepped away. Their instructions were very specific, if Napoleon answered the men they were to leave. If he refused to speak to them, they were to protect him and get him back to the bridge. "Do you have any information on my family?"
"Your brother and sister made it safely to Canada. I'm Todd Harris, this is Lt. Amos Riley and Jonah Birmingham. We need to get you to the car," the man gestured towards Napoleon's single bag. "Is this yours?"
"Yes, sir." Napoleon answered. Immediately Birmingham grabbed the small suitcase and led the way down the gang plank.
"Now, we're going be asking you a lot of questions, son." Harris spoke at Napoleon's shoulder, subtly keeping himself between the young man and the dock as they disembarked. "We'll be taking you to your aunt's this afternoon."
"My aunt? I thought I was going to Vancouver after I got to New York." Napoleon was curious about the change. "Why am I staying here?"
"You'd have to ask her, son." The man answered softly, his eyes flickering to his companions.
They rode in near silence through crowded streets. After the nearly deserted streets he was used to seeing, it was a shock. Then he saw something that shocked him even more.
"You have synagogues? They weren't burned?" Napoleon asked, eyes wide.
The men shared a silent look before Harris answered. "No, son, the Nazis only destroyed the synagogues in Europe."
"I wish my friend Avram had lived here instead of in Roma." Napoleon whispered, his eyes on the rapidly disappearing building.
"What happened to Avram, Napoleon?" For the first time Birmingham spoke.
"The Brown Shirts took him and all of the Jews away. They said the Jews were evil and were being sent to a place that would be better for them." Napoleon's voice hardened, his face tensed. "I think they lied. I think the rumors are true."
"Which rumors are those?" Again the man from the state department spoke, his voice gentle.
"That the Germans are killing them." Napoleon looked over at the man, seeing the intelligent eyes and the expressionless face. "You think so too, don't you."
"I can't answer that question, Napoleon." Birmingham answered quietly.
Napoleon nodded, turning his face back to the window. He watched the streets, silently comparing the plentiful storefronts to the barren ones he was used to seeing. Only at war a few months, America was not experiencing the problems that the Axis nations were feeling. "I'll answer all your questions, sir."
"I know you will." Birmingham replied. "However, you may not discuss any of this with anyone else."
"I don't understand." Napoleon was bewildered by the odd comment.
"We are at war, Napoleon. And like any nation at war, the enemy may well have spies here." Lt.
Riley answered. "You have met several members of our underground network. That must remain secret for their safety."
Napoleon nodded as understanding dawned. If he spoke to the wrong person he could kill another person without firing a single bullet. The thought made him pale. He didn't want any more blood on his hands. He had enough there as it was.
"Napoleon! You have grown so much!" Elena Solo smiled at him, her eyes happy as she reached out to hug him. "I have been so worried for you!"
"Aunt Elena." Napoleon felt some of his tension leave. The questions had been hard... what had he seen, heard, or noticed while crossing the Meditteranean Sea, while stopping at the little villages and towns that dotted the coast, while hiding with the hard hit partisan troops in Spain, and when finally in nuetral territory. Exactly how nuetral was the neutral territory? Had he noticed any collusion between the local officials and the Nazis? Had he noticed any friction between them? Exactly what had occurred in Italy? Their questions made him relive each and every day, each decision, and worst of all, each action.
"Oh, cara mia! You are so thin! So worn! You look like an old man, not a boy." Elena sighed, taking his arm and bringing him into her apartment. "Sylvie has straightened a room for you. It will be yours until your parents come for you. Once you have changed we will eat something."
"Have you heard about Paulo and Simone? How is he? Where are they?" Napoleon heard his desperation in his voice and for a moment it shamed him.
"They are safe. The Argentinians took them to Canada in December. They are with your mother's parents." Elena smiled, leading him back towards his room. "Paulo is much better than he was when you last saw him. His sight returned by Christmas."
"And Simone? Has she spoken yet?" Napoleon wondered aloud.
"No," the word was almost soft enough that he didn't hear it. Then Elena smiled again. "Here we are. This will be your room while you are here."
Napoleon nodded sadly. He understood. Because of his inability to get them safely to the embassy, he was being relegated to New York, far from his brother and sister. Quietly he set his suitcase on the bed and opened it. It didn't occur to him to look around the room. This was his punishment, not his reward.
Elena watched, worry and sadness conflicting as her nephew carefully removed his meager belongings and placed them in the his new dresser. The boy seemed so lost, so far away. She wondered briefly what had made him so distant, but what she didn't know, she could not accidently reveal. Napoleon needed time and acceptance. She was prepared to give him both. "Tomorrow, we will go to mass and offer a prayer of thanks for your safe arrival."
"Aunt Elena?" Napoleon looked up at his aunt, eyes wide with worry. "I haven't gone to confession since before Christmas."
She nodded thoughtfully. "I see. And now you fear to go?"
Napoleon looked away. Over and over during their questioning, Harris and Birmingham had repeated the idea that his words could easily cost the life of resistance members. "I don't want to kill any more people."
"I will find you a priest who understands. If I must, I will have the State department give you their approval before you go to confession." Elena spoke calmly, none of her fear for her nephew showing.
"Thank you, Aunt Elena." Napoleon gave her a sad half smile. He felt
as if a burden had been removed from his shoulders. For now he would allow
her to handle the problem. It felt so good to let the adults handle the
details for a while.