Disclaimer: The stories told within are for entertainment purposes only. The characters from the series "Hart to Hart" "Girl From U.N.C.L.E." and "Man From U.N.C.L.E." belong solely to their original owners. They are used with respect and affection and no copyright infringement is intended.

The Deep Dark Secrets Affair

Aren't you supposed to be dead?



Their morning lap swim had quickly deteriorated into a free-for-all frolic that had left pieces of swimsuits lying about uninhabited. Jonathan wondered why they even bothered with the suits anymore since they rarely stayed on for long. He supposed it had something to do with Max's delicate sensibilities. Well, Max had learned quickly enough to use the intercom instead of delivering messages to the pool in person. For a guy who pretended to be so tough, poor Max sure blushed easily. So did Jennifer, for that matter, only her blush was a lot prettier. That thought brought him back to the present just in time to have his feet pulled out from under him by a fire-haired merwoman. Her siren call forced him to follow her to her lair where she proceeded work her magic on him. Her underwater wiles caused him to rise to the occasion and the poor shipwrecked sailor's last coherent thought was "This is definitely my kind of exercise!"

Cast adrift by their passion the couple floated hand in hand on the surface of the water, Jennifer's head resting on Jonathan's chest, relishing the echoes and recovering their strength when a shadow crossed over their bodies and the sound of labored breathing reached them. Startled, they both sank under the water and came up sputtering in time to see the stranger standing beside the pool collapse into what looked like a pile of bones and ragged clothes.

Jonathan scrambled out of the pool and knelt beside the fallen man. His still blushing wife took the somewhat longer route to the steps and bathrobes. Jonathan turned the man so that he was lying on his back. He was badly injured. In fact, it looked as if he had been beaten and maybe tortured. There were at least two wounds that looked suspiciously like bullet holes along with a shocking number of bruises, cuts and burns. Jennifer came up behind him and he heard her gasp in shock and turning, saw that her face was frozen in an expression that bordered between amazement and horror and that his robe had fallen from her unnaturally still hands.

"Oh my God! Mark!" she cried hoarsely.

The stranger's eyes opened at the name and he stared back at her through pain filled eyes. "April, luv. Aren't you supposed to be dead?"

With that incredible statement the man passed out again leaving Jonathan totally bewildered. He turned to see if Jennifer had a clue about what was going on and was just in time to catch her as she, too, collapsed. Now, as he sat there cradling his beloved wife, panic was beginning to set in. Jennifer wasn't a fainter. Who was this man and why had his sudden appearance given Jennifer such a shock.

MAX! MAX!! Help us! Hurry! MAAAAAXXX!!!

Max and Freeway came barreling down the garden path and screeched to a halt when they saw Jonathan surrounded by bodies.

"Mr. H! What happened? What's wrong with Mrs. H? Is she hurt bad? Who's that guy?" Questions spilled out of Max so fast Jonathan didn't have a hope of answering any of them.

"Max, Mrs. H has just fainted and I don't have any idea who this guy is. She does though. She called him Mark. Whoever he is he needs help. You'd better call an ambulance and the police.

"No, don't." Jennifer's voice was quiet but firm.

"Sweetheart, you're back!" He kissed her softly and caressed her face. "Darling, whoever he is, he's badly injured and he's going to need a doctor."

"Believe me, calling the police would be the worst thing you could do for him. We'll get him help but not from the police."

Now Jonathan's confusion was being compounded by new worries. Why didn't Jennifer trust the police? Was this man a fugitive? If so, how did Jennifer know him? Was he dangerous? Well, as he obviously wasn't dangerous in his current state, Jonathan decided trust his wife's instincts and see what she had in mind.

She stood up and handed him his robe. Next she went to the unconscious man and began to search his clothing. Jonathan and Max watched in quiet amazement as she found a number of hidden devices. They didn't seem to please her though and she mumbled at the man under her breath. "I don't suppose you managed to hold on to your communicator, did you? No, you kept all the useless weapons. And they didn't seem to do you much good, did they? What on earth have you been up to Laddy? You do realize how hard it is going to be to get help for you without a direct line? I don't even know who is in charge of Section Two these days, much less the bloody code!" She suddenly stopped scolding the unconscious man and gave him a very tender look as she brushed the hair from his forehead. "What's happened to us, luv? It's like we've passed through a time warp." She began to shake

Memories assaulted her and threatened her consciousness. Once again she was chained to the dungeon wall while T.H.R.U.S.H. men tortured her partner. Mark was as strong as the next secret agent, U.N.C.L.E. trained agents to be the strong silent type, but a man could only stand so much. April was torn. Watching this macabre performance and knowing what was likely to be in store for her sickened and terrified her to the core of her being. She just hoped that when her turn came she would hold up as well. Poor Mark had progressed beyond rational speech and was rapidly losing what voice he had left uttering harsh, involuntary screams of pain. She listened as his cries faltered and watched as his chest ceased to move and his breathing stopped. She watched as the monsters from T.H.R.U.S.H. dragged his body off to the refuse pit and heard it fall. She watched until all that was left of her friend and partner was a trail of blood across the floor and then she watched as the monsters came to unchain her from the wall and drag her to the torturer's center stage.

Jonathan had never seen his wife act this way before. "Jennifer! Are you OK?" He shook her shoulders gently to get her attention.

"Hmmm? Oh, Jonathan! No, I'm not at all sure I'm all right. I'm remembering things I never knew before, horrible things. I know that doesn't make any sense but I don't know how else to explain it. Listen, I have to go make a phone call. Do you think you guys can get Mark into the house? We need to get him under cover before anyone sees him."

She headed off into the house. Max and Jonathan exchanged a whole series of worried looks and began to gently move "Mark" inside.

Act One: There's no Section Two at this number

When they reached the kitchen Jennifer was on the phone. "Operator, would you please give me the number for Del Floria's dry cleaners in New York city please?"

"We got a semi-stiff on our hands and she's checking on the cleaning?" Max marveled.

"I know it sounds crazy Max but these people are the best chance he has, somehow I know it. It's weird, but I just know." She turned her attention back to the phone. There's no listing? Thank you, I was afraid of that." Marshaling what memories she could she picked up the hand set and dialed a once familiar number.

"Del Floria's."

This is agent 22, April Dancer calling in an emergency. Please transfer me to Section Two. Code LT674." The guys were having trouble believing this was happening.

"I'm sorry ma'am but there is no Section Two at this number. I suggest you try your party again."

"Wait! Please don't hang up! I know the code is out of date. I am here with Mark Slate and he is badly injured and unconscious. Please help us. Contact Mr. Waverly or Mr. Solo and tell them April and Mark need help. Please, ask them to call me at (213) 555-1654."

"Mr. Solo, sir? This is Robertson down at reception. We just had a strange call on the outside line. The caller claimed to be April Dancer and she claimed that she and Mark Slate needed assistance urgently. She gave an ancient code and pleaded to have this message forwarded to you or Mr. Waverly. Sir, I remember Miss Dancer and I remember when she died so I knew it couldn't be her. I thought this was strange enough that you might want to hear about it. The woman left a phone number."

"Thank you, Robertson. Let me have it. Good. You did a good job in bringing this to my attention. Thank you."

"You're welcome sir." Robertson said as he signed off.

"April... What on earth is going on." mused the head of U.N.C.L.E Operations. He pressed the intercom button. "Illya! What have you got Mark Slate working on these days?"

"He is in California looking into rumors that T.H.R.U.S.H. is attempting to place bombs along the San Andreas Fault to cause "The Big One" and destroy California."

"Well apparently he's run into some trouble." He told the Section Two chief about the mysterious April call. "When did he last report in?"

"It has been three days. We were beginning to worry. But how could April have called? She does not exist anymore. Do you think he has been captured and this is a ploy?" Kuryakin and Solo were among the very few who knew what had really happened to April Dancer.

"It's possible Illya, but I don't think it would hurt to give this number a call from a secure phone. Maybe we'll find something out. You call and in the meanwhile I'll do a little classified research on what happened to our Miss Dancer after she "died."

The phone rang. Jennifer had been pacing between the phone and Mark's unmoving form. She grabbed the receiver and put the call on the speaker.

"Hart Residence"

"May I speak with April Dancer please?" asked the soft voice on the other end of the line.

"I guess that would be me. I feel like I've been possessed. My name is Jennifer Hart and this morning a beaten and bloody man appeared in our backyard. At that moment it was like April woke up inside of me and began running the show. I am remembering too many things that I am certain I don't know. For instance, I recognize your voice Illya. I don't know who you are but she does."

Illya was taken aback by being recognized. He wrote down the name Jennifer Hart and passed it to Solo.

"But my sanity isn't what is at issue here. Mark is here! Alive!! Well, sort of anyway. He needs help badly. Can you send him some? Is he out here without back up? I'll deal with the fact April saw him die later. Right now he needs help." Solo slid back the note with a nod, saying "That's our April, Jennifer Edwards Hart."

"Okay, Jennifer, We will be getting help to you right away. U.N.C.L.E.'s Los Angeles center will be coming to get him as soon as you tell us where you are."

"3100 Willow Pond Drive, Bel Air"

"Good. Does anyone else know he is with you?"

"Just my family."

"Okay, you have done just fine. Do not panic on us now. I am almost certain we know what has happened to you and it will be all right. We will have someone there to help you deal with this problem sometime tomorrow. Everything will be OK, and April? I have missed you."

She turned her attention to the unconscious U.N.C.L.E. agent wondering how he came to be there and better yet, how he came to be alive.

Max motioned Jonathan out into the next room. "Mrs. H a spy? It sure is hard to believe but, y'know, when ya think about some things sorta make more sense now."

"You're right Max. It sure is a surprise though. It sort of feels like we've been living with a stranger all these years."

"Are you gonna tell her?"

"Tell her?"

"Mr. H, you know what I'm talking about."

"Well, let's give the dust time to settle down before we do anything that drastic."

Act Two: The last time I saw him he was dead

Within the hour an ambulance came and took the mysterious Mark away. Jennifer stood watching the vehicle disappear up the driveway and felt sadder than she had for years. Jonathan came up behind her, put his arms around her and pulled her close. He sensed she was close to tears and didn't know how else to help her. She turned in his embrace and rested her head on his shoulder.

"The last time I saw him he was dead. He was my friend, my partner and the older brother I never had. I watched him die a horrible death and now I've lost him again." Her tears wet his shirt.

Speaking softly into her neck he asked, "Sweetheart, can you tell us what's going on around here? Can you even give us a hint? Max and I are just a little confused."

"Huh! You think you're confused. How do you think I feel? It's like someone else is living in my brain. Let's go sit down and I'll see if I can explain anything at all." They walked to the living room and sat on the couch. Max went to the bar and asked, "Can I get you guys something to drink?"

"Yes, please." They replied in tandem. "Thanks Max."

Max fixed the drinks and came to sit opposite the Harts. Freeway crawled up in Jennifer's lap and she tangled her hands in his fur trying to find the right things to say. "Darling, do you remember asking me once if I had any deep dark secrets hiding in my past? Well, apparently I did."

"This will be a very confusing and drawn out explanation but I don't know how else to express it. When I saw Mark lying there on the deck I knew instantly who he was. It was like something came and took over my brain: a great awakening or a demonic possession, something like that. All of a sudden I remembered April Dancer and everything she knew. It was kind of an overload and that's when I passed out. I suppose that it was also because of seeing Mark. April remembers seeing him tortured to death."

"You see, Mark and April worked for an organization called U.N.C.L.E. Let's see, that stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. They...we were partners for years. Then they were captured by T.H.R.U.S.H., the bad guys, and when the drugs and mental abuse couldn't get any information out of them they were given over to the torturers. They started with Mark and I...April, God this is confusing, was chained to the wall where she had to sit, watching, while they took great pleasure in killing him slowly and painfully, getting a very good view of what would happen to me when it was my turn." Her voice got very quiet and they could see long forgotten pain in her eyes. "He was so strong. He never told them anything. And finally when they couldn't do anymore to him they dumped him in a cesspit and came back for April. I don't really remember much more other than it was exceedingly uncomfortable and I have flickers of remembering being rescued in the nick of time by a white knight." Jennifer didn't seem to notice she'd given up trying to keep April and Jennifer seperate in her memories.

"Honestly, I couldn't blame you if you don't believe a word I've said. It doesn't make any sense but I know deep inside that every bit of it is true. I don't know if I am April or April is really Jennifer. How can I have been a spy? I've been a working writer since I got out of school. I didn't have time to be a spy. Jonathan, what's happening to me? I'm so confused. I feel like I'm losing myself. If the things that I know about me aren't true what does that leave me? Max, Jonathan, I'm counting on you guys to keep me sane and remind me of us and who I am now, no matter who or what I used to be."

April was dragged to the middle of the room. There wasn't much left of her clothing by this time but the remainders were ripped away. Her wrists and ankles were pinioned to the table by tight leather straps. A thick belt held her down at the waist. The table was coldly wet and sticky from Mark's blood. The T.H.R.U.S.H. men were like creatures from a nightmare. She couldn't avoid their leering faces and insolent touches. She had already suffered the unwanted attentions of several T.H.R.U.S.H. men. It was an additional risk female agents ran when working in the field. Her training had covered that danger and she had come through the ordeal intact. She certainly hadn't enjoyed the process but she hadn't let it destroy her. She soon caught on that these barbarians were no longer seeking information. They simply wanted to hurt her, to punish her for working for U.N.C.L.E.: To hurt her as much as they could and to make her punishment last as long as possible before she joined Mark in the rubbish tip. She gritted her teeth and screwed up her determination to deny them the satisfaction of breaking her. The master torturer seemed to know just how far he could push her, being careful not to let unconsciousness give her any relief. He was grinning evilly at her, laughing at her pain when his face suddenly went slack and his eyes lost their focus. Slowly she became aware of sounds of battle around her and out of the darkness came a white knight to save her. Illya, his white blond hair almost glowing in the gloom of the dungeon, walked calmly through the remains of the dungeon monsters to her rescue.

Act Three: My name is Jennifer Edwards Hart.

Jennifer didn't sleep well that night and therefore neither did Jonathan or Max. She knew her restlessness was upsetting them but when she tried to sleep the nightmares took over and when she was awake she worried about just how these U.N.C.L.E. fellows "deal with" a problem ex-agent who was supposed to be dead. So she paced, and exercised, and tried to read, and then paced some more. In the wee hours of the morning exhaustion finally claimed her and she fell asleep in Jonathan's arms. She woke him a few hours later screaming in the throes of yet another bad dream. Jonathan dried her tears, assuring her that she was safe in the present and with him next to her nothing would be able to hurt her.

"Jonathan, I love you so much. You are the best part of me, the best thing that ever happened to me. You are my anchor as well as my guiding star. I don't know what I would do without you. Please, will you make love to me? I need you, I need all of you."

Jonathan smiled as he caressed her and wished all the tasks required of him were such a pure pleasure to complete. Before long his expert manipulation of her body brought her to a fever pitch and he held her and watched her face with awe and a little pride as she went over the top and descended into a chasm of pleasure. With careful control he brought her to the top of that hill twice more before he joined her on the wild ride down the other side. Sated and exhausted, still joined with her husband in the most intimate way possible, Jennifer finally found peaceful sleep wrapped in Jonathan's arms.

When they awoke she felt better, good enough to challenge him to another swimming match.

"Good Morning, Max!"

"Mrs. H! You want some breakfast?"

"Not really. April and I are going to beat the pants off Jonathan in a swimming race, if he ever gets his lazy butt down here!"

"It's good to see you feeling better, Mrs. H. I was worried."

"I know you were Max, and I'm sorry I was such a pain but sometime last night I decided that with my two best guys around to help me I can come to terms with April and accept her and whatever she represents in my life. I imagine she feels pretty lost too." She paused. "Man, you can not believe how strange it is to talk about myself as two people. I still feel like I've been living a lie. Me, an International spy! It boggles the mind." She shook her head to clear it and gave Max a big hug. "I'm going to need you more than ever. I love you Max." she said as she reached up to kiss his cheek.

"Aw, Mrs. H. I know that and I love you too." He replied as he returned her embrace.

"Hey! What's going on here? I guess it's true what they say about the husband being the last to know." Jonathan glowered at the two of them.

"Well, if this particular husband hadn't been the last one downstairs he wouldn't have missed out on all the good stuff." She taunted him as she sailed out the back door, towel over her shoulder. "Now get that cute little butt in gear and get it out here. April and I will be waiting!"

Jonathan smiled her on her way and said to Max, "It's good to see her smile again. I hope we can get through this "April" thing without too much trauma."

"Ya gotta tell her Mr. H."

"Not yet, Max. If we're lucky, maybe not ever."

Jennifer and April did beat Jonathan in the race. He claimed she had cheated, two against one.

Their visitors arrived by mid afternoon. There were three of them. April recognized two of them right away even though they were older now. They still moved like a highly polished team that didn't need words to communicate. Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. She was relieved to see her two old friends. Jennifer had been worried that U.N.C.L.E.'s way of solving this problem might include "rubbing them out." That might have been true if it had been necessary, but April didn't think they would have sent her friends to do that kind of work. She walked toward them smiling. "Napoleon, Illya, welcome to California! I didn't realize U.N.C.L.E would send the big guns out on a mopping up mission."

"More than you know, my dear. You are now talking to New York's top 2 men." Suave Solo gave April a big hug. It was amazing. He had thought she was quite a looker in the promise of her youth. The mature woman was something else again. The years had been more than kind to her. The years and just maybe the love of the man standing behind her shooting dagger edged "husband" looks at him. Aged to perfection came close to summing it up. "This is Dr. Kurt Morgan. He works with Section Six," he shot an aside to Jonathan and Max, "the medical and training departments, and can help us with our little problem."

"Welcome Dr. Morgan. We are very glad to see you!" Then addressing her two old friends, "Top dogs now, eh? Congratulations! Oh dear, what happened to Mr. W?" she asked, dreading the answer. She had liked the gruff old man.

"Nothing too drastic. Mrs. W. finally put her foot down and made him retire. They are now luxuriating in tropical breezes somewhere in the south Pacific." Solo replied.

Relieved, Jennifer remembered her manners. "I'd like you to meet my family. My husband, Jonathan Hart, and our house man and friend, Max Brenner. Guys, Dr Morgan, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. They are old friends of April's." Dr. Morgan was watching her with interest to see how she was handling what was basically a multiple personality attack. He was impressed, she was aware of both personalities and seemed to be able to interact with both sets of memories. A good sign.

"Please come and sit down. Can we get you something to drink?" Jonathan invited.

All three men accepted and named their preferred drink. Max took over while the Harts and their visitors made themselves comfortable. Nervous energy made Jennifer a little agressive. "Have you eaten? Do you need anything? No? Great! Do you think somebody could tell me what the heck is going on? April and I really need some answers and we need them soon."

Dr. Morgan spoke up. "Jennifer, what happened is that a hypnotic block placed on your memory when you left U.N.C.L.E has come unstuck. Seeing Agent Slate probably caused that. The lapse would have been facilitated by exposure to more hypnotic sessions, especially if the therapist asked you to forget any previous suggestions. Has anything like that happened? It wouldn't have to be recently, the effect would be cumulative."

The Harts shared a look and then Jonathan sighed. "Yes, Doctor. My wife has been the victim of two seperate rogue hypnotists. One tried to make her kill herself and the other turned her into a jewel thief and tried to make her kill me."

"Ah, well, yes, I'd say that might do the trick." the doctor said shaking his head, both at the situations even ex-U.N.C.L.E agents got into and at the duplicity of his hypnotist colleagues. "If I might make a suggestion? As a first step toward clearing up this confusion we should decide on what to call Mrs. Hart. I've noticed we all seem to have followed her example and are speaking as if this really involves two people. All the memories belong to you, my dear, and we must integrate them to resolve the situation. Which name do you feel most comfortable with, Jennifer or April?"

"My name is Jennifer Edwards Hart. April thinks she's real but she's not, she's a part of me. So maybe we ought to stick with Jennifer for now."

"Fine, shall we proceed? Jennifer, I think the best way to go about this is to let you ask questions. You said you needed some answers. That's what we're here to provide. We'll answer anything we can. In fact, that's why Mr. Solo and Mr. Kuryakin came along. They may be the only ones left at U.N.C.L.E who really know what happened."

"You do not, can not, know how marvelous that sounds. I haven't had anything but questions since Mark dropped in on us.. I guess that is a good place to start. Something I remember very clearly is Mark dying in that T.H.R.U.S.H. dungeon. I remember every horrid minute of it. So how did he end up strolling into my backyard? Also, he looked at me and said 'April, luv. Aren't you supposed to be dead?' Why would he think I was dead?"

Illya began the tale "When we raided that dungeon we really had little hope that either of you were still alive. We got to you just in the nick of time. You were in a bad way but you were able to tell us that Mark had been killed and disposed of. We tried to find his body but it was not on. We followed your directions and found the pit but he was not visible and if we intended to save the living we did not have time to search further. That was unfortunate. We did not find out until over a year later that he had survived and was still in that prison. By the time we managed to rescue him you were long gone and he was in no shape to know the truth."

Solo continued. "Illya got you out but by the time you were ready to leave the hospital it was obvious that you were not ready to come back to U.N.C.L.E. As far as we could tell, you hadn't broken under the torture but the thought of maybe having to go through that again laid you low. You stopped eating and you refused to sleep because of the nightmares that plagued you. Section Six disqualified you as unfit for duty. The loss of you career combined with the loss of your partner was more than you could stand. You simply left your mind in neutral and withdrew. You were very young, you know, and it was just too much for you to handle. Mr. Waverly worried so much about you. His Princess! He felt guilty for putting you out in the field, about the whole female agent program for that matter, and well, he authorized some experimental techniques to be used to help you regain your equilibrium. The first was a total memory block. Everything you knew about U.N.C.L.E. was wiped out. The training, the missions, the agents and the friendships were simply sealed away as if they had never happened. Everyone was told that April Dancer had died from injuries sustained while a captive of T.H.R.U.S.H."

"You were greatly mourned and sorely missed, Little Flower, especially by those of us who knew you as a friend as well as a valued colleague." Illya added. "With the harmful memories blocked you simply returned to your original identity and resumed life as if U.N.C.L.E had never existed. Indeed, for you it did not. April Dancer was not your real name. U.N.C.L.E reserves that information for the protection of agents in cases like this where agents need to leave the agency or actually get to retire."

"So," Jennifer offered, "Jennifer really is the real me and I can stop wondering about what other deep dark secrets lay waiting in the recesses of my mind?"

"Yes, I would say so." Dr. Morgan replied. "The blocks were put into place to keep you from hurting yourself. At the time you were unable to face the harsh realities that life insisted on handing you. Now, after observing you today and from what is in your files, I'd say you have recovered enough to deal with those traumatic memories. Plus you aren't facing them alone. You've developed a strong support base to see you through the healing process now. The fact that you have shown sympathetic and empathetic feelings toward 'poor April' indicates to me that you are becoming close to her and will in time absorb and assimilate all the memories and lose that fractured feeling."

"I do have to remind you Jennifer" Solo chimed in, "that you signed an official secrets document and anything you say in public about U.N.C.L.E can get you in a lot of trouble." He added with a smile at her indignant expression, "Don't worry, I know better than to think you would betray any secrets but now I'm the boss I have to say things like that."

She smiled back at him and said, "Speaking of official secrets, I know better than to ask for details but is there anything we can do to help clean up whatever Mark's mission was?"

"No," replied Kuryakin. "Thank you for the offer but the mission has already been taken over by other agents who are acting on information that Mark managed to secure."

Dr. Morgan added, "Jennifer, I have a referral card for you in case you continue to have trouble with the memory assimilation. This doctor is very discreet and very good. I don't think you'll need it but just in case."

"Well, pretty lady, we have to be going." Solo hugged her. "Uneasy lies the crown and all that guff. We've found that they really can't run the world unless Illya and I are watching! Seriously Jennifer, I'm very glad life has turned out so well for you. You always did deserve the best. Jonathan, you're a lucky man."

"Thank you, I know that and I try to let her know how much I appreciate having her next to me everyday."

Illya came to embrace Jennifer. "Goodbye April. I will never forget my first American girl friend." He kissed her hand. "Take care of yourself, my friend."

Smiling at the memory of those girl friend days she hugged him and quietly said, "You take care of yourself as well, Illyushka, and him, too, luv." The knowing wink that went with that quiet remark got a smile of surprise out of the normally dour Russian. "Not to worry, Little Flower, Not to worry."

"Goodbye Dr. Morgan, thank you for your help." Jonathan said as he escorted the group to the door.

"Napoleon, Or, perhaps I should say Mr. S, would it be breaking the rules too much if I got a chance to talk to Mark once more? He's going to wake up believing he's seen a ghost. I know how that feels. Most agents don't get a second chance to say goodbye to their partners. Fate has given us the chance, will you let us?"

"Yes, I won't deny you that. We've all lost friends that we would like to be able talk to just one more time. I'll have the hospital call you when he's up to visitors."

"Thank you." She said sincerely, knowing he hadn't had to say yes and also that he was thinking of lost friends who hadn't gotten that second chance.

The U.N.C.L.E agents drove off and Jennifer let out a hefty sigh. "If that wasn't weird I don't know what is!"

Having the answers to all the questions she could think of worked wonders for Jennifer's psyche. She slept well and stopped pacing. Only her upcoming meeting with the dead man was making her nervous these days and that was more excitement than nerves.

Ten days later Jennifer got a call from the infirmary at the secret U.N.C.L.E base in Los Angeles. Mark was ready for visiting. Instead of bringing her to the secret base they brought Mark to her.

Both her guys were discreetly hovering in the kitchen. She knew they wanted to protect her and she was grateful for the privacy they were giving her.

She opened the door for him and then blocked his way in by standing in the doorway giddy with laughter. He joined in and soon they were hugging and laughing in delight. The laughter suddenly stopped and they looked into each other's souls and leaned into a sweet, solid, "God, I'm glad to see you" kiss. There were tears of joy in Jennifer's eyes when they broke off. "Mark. It's you, it really is you."

"Yes, luv. I'm really here and so are you! I hardly know what to say."

"Don't say anything, Laddy, Just let me hold you for a bit." They hugged again. "You know Mark, before we do too much more of this hugging and kissing stuff I'd better take you out and introduce you to my husband. He's not normally a jealous man but I wouldn't want you two to get off on the wrong foot."

"Your husband? Oh yes, I hope he's that chap you were using as a flotation device the other week. If he isn't, you could be in a devilishly sticky spot." The boyish, crooked grin was back as he teased her all the way into the kitchen, just as if their separation had not happened. Jonathan, Max and Mark hit it off like a house afire and before the day was over it was obvious that the official Hart family had grown by one unofficial big brother no matter what ideas U.N.C.L.E might have about keeping them apart.

Act Four: Ya got to tell her Mr. H.

As the commotion died down and Mark went back to work, Jennifer spent more time thinking. It was still strange to think she had a whole dimension to her life that no one knew about. Sometimes she thought she saw Jonathan watching her with guarded eyes. That was a real switch from the normal "I really love you!" gleam in his eyes. She didn't know if it was because he was afraid to trust her now or if he resented some aspect of her former life, or the result of something else altogether but they were going to have to have a talk about it. Soon.

Later that night she came down the spiral staircase to get something from her desk. She heard Jonathan and Max discussing something in the kitchen. "I'm telling ya, Mr. H, ya got to tell her. She's been watching you like some kind of hunted creature and you've been jumping at shadows since all this happened. You're going to have to tell her sometime. Why not now? Then we all can relax."

"Max, I will tell Jennifer about this when and if I get ready to. I don't want to lose her. She's been upset about how she lived a lie all that time but she didn't know about the lie. I've known about mine all along and I didn't tell her. What if she decides she can't or won't trust me anymore. What will I do then, huh? I can't take the risk."

Jennifer's world threatened to crumble again. Jonathan had been lying to her all through their marriage? What about? She wanted to rush into the kitchen and confront them, demanding an explanation but she was shocked and ashamed about how hurt she felt. This would have to be tackled another day. She crept back up the stairs and was pretending to be asleep when Jonathan came up to bed.

Another week went by and the tension did not ease. Jonathan was still jumpy and quiet. Sometimes Jennifer caught him watching her with a wistful, longing expression that she didn't understand. She herself was mourning the loss of trust that made her husband keep secrets from her. It was as if some of the magic had gone from their marriage and neither of them knew how to get it back. When she tried to bring up the subject Jonathan deftly turned the conversation to other topics or distracted her with more physical pursuits. He knew her too well. It was like she was putty in his hands. Oh well, that was nothing new.

Jennifer awoke the next morning determined to make some headway on putting their marriage back on solid ground. She was tired of tiptoeing through squishy terrain. "Up! Up, up, up! Time to hit the pool!" She jumped out of bed and headed for the john. When she returned the big lump under the blankets hadn't moved. She patted the lump in a strategic place and said, "Come on sleepyhead, don't make me tickle you!"

"Awww, I don't wanna go to school today! Lemme sleep!" Jonathan mumbled. Obviously he wasn't awake yet. Jennifer pulled back the blanket and stood looking at him, reflecting on his sweet sleeping face. Sleeping this way his eyes didn't look out at from under hooded lids to accuse her of something. He looked innocent and vulnerable, aspects of his personality that he didn't show to the waking world. Not even to her very often. "Oh to hell with exercise!" She decided and crawled under the blanket with the lump and lay there cuddled next to his warmth. She had her head on his chest and his heartbeat mixed with the sound of his quiet breathing filled her with a comfortingly domestic feeling. The heartbeat was a promise. She knew that he would be hers until there was no longer a heart beating in his chest. Whatever the problem was he would be there until she let go and that was something she did not intend to do while she had any choice in the matter. So they would get through this. Eventually.

When next woke she was being kissed into the morning by his sweet lips. She sighed in pleasure and returned the kiss. "Let's go sleepyhead!" he laughed, "We are way late for the pool."

"Huh! And whose fault is that? I was up at least an hour ago and you wouldn't budge. You kept mumbling something about not wanting to go to school today. You were so cute I didn't have the heart to roust you out of bed and trounce you at swimming too."

"You are certainly sure of yourself this morning!"

"It's more than that. I am sure of us. More sure than I have been since all this spy stuff started. I love you more today than ever before. Your support and understanding were my lifeline. You let me cling to the safety of your love." She reached up and touched his face. "I hope you know that my love for you is just as strong and unconditional. No matter what happens I will always be yours." He held her hand and kissed the palm and said in a low suggestive voice, "Yeah, but will you let me win at swimming?" He grabbed her hand and hauled her out of bed, picked her up and started out of the room.

"Jonathan! My robe!"

"Good morning Max." Jonathan called as he carried a hastily covered, struggling bundle into the kitchen.

"Mornin' Mr. H. Want some help with that?" The bundle made a noise something between a squeal and a growl.

"I'd better handle this alone. I think whatever's in here might be getting ready to explode so I'm going to take it down and throw it in the pool."

"You think that's safe?" The bundle growled again. Yep. This time it was a definite growl.

"Maybe. It might be fun finding out." He grinned. "See you later!

"Jonathan, if you drop me into that pool you will regret it. I promise you."

"Oh yeah? You don't think I am going to be intimidated by threats do you?" He stood at the edge of the pool and teased her. Just as he pretended to heft her to the middle of the pool she squirmed, grabbed his neck and said, "If I go I'm taking you with me!" The motion threw him off balance and the two of them made a tidal wave sized splash as they hit the water.

Despite the boisterous start both Harts found that they weren't really in the mood for underwater slap and tickle games that morning. The morning was peaceful and quiet as they sat close in the hot tub with only the occasional bird song or squirrel squabble reminding them that they weren't alone in the world.

"So Jonathan, are you going to tell me what's been bothering you or am I going to have to pry it out of Max? Please don't do me the discourtesy of denying there's been a problem ever since Mark crashed our pool party last month." She shifted so that she was sitting across from him and could see his face. The hooded look was back. "You know, I meant what I said upstairs this morning. I will love you always and forever, no matter what. Something is wrong. You're slipping away from me and I can't seem to do anything to stop it. Will you please talk to me?"

"I can't." He looked away.


"Can not. Jennifer, I swore an oath. I promised."

"An oath? Is it something to do with your work for the Navy?"


"Okay, Jonathan, if you can't, you can't but I have to ask this question. Does this big secret have anything to do with my secret life with U.N.C.L.E?" Her eyes moistened as he deftly avoided the question.

"How did you know there was a 'big secret' and how do you know Max knows about it?"

"I overheard you talking one evening. He was saying that you should tell me something and you told him that you couldn't be sure I'd still love you if I found out you'd been lying to me all through our marriage."

"Oh boy..."


"Jennifer, I...."


"I can't" They sat there, not speaking, just holding on.

Finally Jennifer broke the silence. "Jonathan, I hope you can answer this question because it's something I really need to know." He braced himself. "Do you want me to leave?" she whispered, sounding like she was trying to keep herself from hearing the question, trying to keep her heart from breaking if he gave the answer she feared.

"What! Why, in God's name, would I want you to leave? How could you even ask such a thing?" He turned her to face him and saw, for the first time, the anguish his silence was causing.

"No, don't answer that. I feel bad enough already. I'm sorry, my love, I've been wrapped up in my problem that I forgot how it must seem to you. I never meant to hurt you or push you away. God, what a thought! I could just as easily live without sunlight or air. Promise me you won't leave. I am not at liberty to tell you what's been bothering me but I won't rest until I find someone who can clear this up or can release me from my oath."

A week's worth of phoning, arguing and calling in markers finally paid off. A fax granting Jonathan and Max limited release from their oaths of silence had just come through.

Max made himself scarce, giving the Harts some privacy.

Jennifer sat on the couch, waiting. Jonathan joined her, put his arm around her shoulder and sighed. "How do I start this? OK, let's just say that you aren't the only one in this family with a deep, dark secret in your past."

Jennifer looked up at him with a "well, I'm waiting" expression on her face. "While I was in the Navy certain people noticed that I have some unusual skills." Jennifer snorted. "No, not those skills! The ones I picked up on the streets before I met Max. You remember, we've used some of them from time to time. Well anyway, these folks 'arranged' for some evidence to show up that I was still using those skills. I wanted to get out of the Navy without having breaking and entering on my permanent record and they wanted me. I was drafted into using my lesser skills on behalf of a small government agency called the S.I.A."

"What! You don't mean..."

"Yes, I'm afraid it's true. April Dancer was not the only spy in this family."

"Oh Jonathan, that's just too silly! What are the odds?"

"You mean what are the odds of three..."

Jennifer interrupted, "Three! Max too?"

"I'm afraid so. Three old spies getting together and forming a family without letting anyone, even each other know? Pretty slim, I'd say, but it sure seems to have happened."

"It's amazing. Simply unbelievable"

"Y'know, I'm surprised we never ran into each other. We worked the same scene. April was an international fashion model/spy and Alexander Mundy, yours truly, was an international playboy/cat burglar/spy."

"Oh Lord, what if we had met back then instead of that night at the Ritz? What about Max? What did he do?"

"I called on him for help now and then. The agency thought he was my father, Alister Mundy. Max can con the best of them when he wants. When we first heard about your adventures as April his first comment was that it made sense of some things that sometimes seemed a little odd."

"Like what?" She challenged.

"You know, little things, like not being the least bit phased by breaking and entering or having people shoot at you or at having to break out of jail. There are also your skills at little known sports like crawling across a rope dangling above an alarm rigged floor or charming a real lion so we could steal a fake one like you did in that little embassy job we did for King Rashid and your ability to throw a great right hook. Not to mention the continual dead bodies."

"Yes, I suppose those might be odd traits for a simple Maryland farm girl."

"We seem to have put our former training to good use in all our little adventures. Our pairing up was probably the only marriage that would have worked for either of us. No one else would have fit right or understood as well."

Jennifer couldn't believe that this was all the "Big Secret" was about. Of course Jonathan hadn't been lying to her. He had been sworn to silence. His integrity and honor were a large part of his character and very important to both of them. The truth was going to take a while to soak in. Most likely Jonathan was right when he said their shadowy common past was probably one of the reasons the worked so well together today.

She was so relieved that she got a major case of the giggles and giggles being contagious, Jonathan caught them too. They laughed until tears came and then got a communal case of the hiccups which set off the giggles again.

"Jonathan," Jennifer panted, "you know this unexpected expertise of ours could lend itself well to several enjoyable pastimes."

"Oh yes?"

"Wanna play spy?" she whispered seductively.

"Who gets to interrogate whom?" he asked.

"Flip you for it!"

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