Prompts: package, pink
Word Count: 985
"Sir, can you please tell me where I can find leotards for little girls?"
The woman might as well have been asking Illya for directions to the moon, although he might have fared slightly better on that one.
"I am new here madame, and not quite sure where to direct you in order to locate a, um… leotard." The young woman looked disappointed as she juggled the package in her arms and tried to keep hold of the little hand she had in hers.
"Oh dear… well… Does anyone know where I might find a pair of pink tights and a leotard?" Illya felt bad as he watched her look around for someone else to help her. Working undercover in a department store had been tailor made for Napoleon, but instead it was Kuryakin who was sent in to play the part of a sales associate while his partner hunted for a THRUSH presence upstairs in the accounting department. The roles should have been reversed, and Illya would stand by that opinion against all odds.
At the moment, the odds were not in his favor. He truly did not have a clue as to where one might find a pink leotard with tights to match. His position behind the men's accessories bar was dicey enough, never mind ballet accoutrement.
Illya's supervisor was another young woman named Sylvia Drew. She was watching the new man in men's accessories and recognized the look of someone searching for an answer. She found him attractive, and his frustration was completely charming to her as she let him squirm for a few minutes before swooping in to rescue him from his dilemma.
"May I be of some help here?" Sylvia smiled at the mother and child, and then at Illya. She knew him as Ian Whitley, something slightly less intimidating than a Russian had been the thinking for this one.
"Yes, thank you. This customer is looking for girl's dance apparel, and I fear I do not know where that is in the store." Illya raised his eyebrows just enough to give an air of complete and utter helplessness, something he had perfected over the years. Both women held back a sigh; he really was very cute.
Sylvia took over, directing the woman to the escalator and giving directions to the girls department. When she was finished she turned her attention back to the blond man with the intense blue eyes.
"Mr. Whitley, you will learn where all of the departments are soon enough. It's a big store, and there's a lot to take in. Give it some time." Her smile was warm, and Illya nodded and thanked her. He thought Miss Drew was young to be in a supervisory position. It would be inappropriate to remark on it, but it impressed him.
"Thank you for rescuing me. I felt utterly lost until you walked up to take over." Butterflies overwhelmed her stomach and she thought it possible that she was blushing. Sylvia Drew needed to keep it professional, but it wasn't going to be easy.
Upstairs, Napoleon was playing the part of a Personnel manager from the corporate offices. The plea for help from the President of the company had come to Alexander Waverly along with a suspicion that someone was corrupting their finances in an attempt to buy out controlling interest. When it appeared that THRUSH might be involved, UNCLE was more than willing to investigate and, if necessary, intervene.
Why would THRUSH want a department store? That had been the question asked b everyone involved. What had emerged was the probability that it would simply be a front for laundering money in a large venue with multiple locations. Catching them at their criminal activities was now the goal.
Napoleon approached the man behind a desk in the accounting area, which was a row of desks behind what served as the personnel office. It didn't take long to spot a known THRUSH agent whose expertise was in banking and finance. If he was here then it was a sure thing that he was doing something to the books that would damage the store's economy. Napoleon perused the room as though looking for someone and then left. He was on his communicator to Mr. Waverly within minutes.
Illya received a message by way of Sylvia Drew, who took the call from personnel that Mr. Whitley was wanted upstairs. He thanked her and made his way up the escalator as she watched him, wondering again what the parameters of professionalism were regarding dating employees.
Once Illya reached the top floor he was met by Napoleon who filled him in on who he had seen in the office.
"And are we to take action now?" Illya wondered if it might lead to something violent.
"Not action, exactly.' Napoleon winked and withdrew his Walther from the neatly concealed shoulder holster. He inserted sleep darts and motioned for Illya to lead the way back inside the office area. Once there he walked into a spot where he was partially concealed and lined up a shot. The THRUSH never knew what was coming, and Illya was close by so that when he collapsed it was as though he were saving the day when he caught him and called for someone to ring for an ambulance.
A team of medics arrived, dispatched from UNCLE Headquarters and ready to transport the patient back there for interrogation. Solo and Kuryakin looked like heroes and were able to leave the store with some well intentioned comments in their wake.
Sylvia Drew would be disappointed in the coming days when her blond employee failed to return to his position in men's accessories. It would be months before she spotted him again as he escorted a visiting dignitary from behind the Iron Curtain, along with that management exec from corporate.
Strange was the only word she could come up with.