They were drunk. Probably far more drunk than it was safe for them to be, but they were home safe, in Napoleon's apartment, with a day off to nurse the ensuing hangover.
Napoleon had his stocking feet propped up on the coffee table while Illya sprawled boneless in a chair.
"And we take one for the Gipper." Napoleon drained his glass.
"The who-per?" Illya managed, tipping his head.
"The Gipper - it was a character in a movie."
"And he... gipped?"
"That's not a word."
"And that's my fault? Nonsensical English," Illya mumbled as he took another long swallow of vodka and sighed. "It's an extremely viciss...vicissit...stupid language. Even your so called nursery rhymes make no sense..."
"I don't understand."
"That one about the woman and her man... Mary somebody... she did... had... Comment vous le dites dans l'anglais ? Marie a eu un petit homme ; ses pieds aussi blanc que neige..."
Napoleon stared slack jawed at his partner for a long moment and started laughing, really laughing, laughing so hard that after a minute Illya joined him without knowing why.
"You are too much..." Napoleon grabbed his side and panted. He started to laugh again.
"Mary had a little lamb, Illya, not man. And its fleece was white as snow, not his feet."
"Oh, that makes more sense about the school part then... What? You wrote that thing about a guy living in a pumpkin... what is this fascination you Americans have with squash?" And Napoleon slipped off the couch onto the floor and started laughing again. A moment later, Illya joined him, nearly falling out of his own chair.
And the next day saw them nursing their well-earned hangovers, and the next day saw them in Turkey racing to evade a firing squad and the next day, and the next, each one bleeding, sometimes literally, into the next. The months passed and life as an UNCLE agent went on.
Illya walked into the office he shared with his partner and stopped dead in his tracks. There was something on his desk. Slowly he approached and circled around it and then shook his head, smiling slightly. As drunk as they both were that night, trust Napoleon to remember.
He sat and stared at the lamb cake, lovingly if not perfectly decorated, with a tag that read, "For Mary, in lieu of masculine company."
He chuckled and shook his head. Just when he thought Napoleon could no longer surprise him, he always did.
"You like?" Napoleon's voice was over his shoulder and Illya nodded.
"What would I do without you, Napoleon?"
"Laugh less, I suppose. I know I would without you. Are you going to cut that?" Napoleon offered him plates and a knife.
"If you like. Do you want some more coffee to wash it down or would you prefer Wool-lite?"