Brief Candle

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Title: Brief Candle
Author(s): Suzan Lovett
Date(s): 1996
Genre: slash
Fandom: Man from U.N.C.L.E.
External Links: online here

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Brief Candle is a Napoleon/Illya fic by Suzan Lovett.

It was first published in the first issue of the print zine, We Have Each Other in 1996 and has been posted online.

It won a 1996 STIFfie Award for "Best Man from U.N.C.L.E. Novella."

art for this story, presumably by Suzan Lovett

This story was inspired by Emma Lee Marion's MUNCLE/Starsky & Hutch story, "The Cultural Affair Exchange," first published in Mobile Ghettos in 1985.

Author's Intro to the Online Post

Originally published in WE HAVE EACH OTHER #2 [1], 1996. This story was inspired by and takes off from an U.N.C.L.E/Starsky&Hutch cross-universe story titled "The Cultural Exchange Affair"(I have not been able to get in touch with its writer for permission to use her name. Prudence dictates leaving it out. If I find out she wishes otherwise, I will immediately remedy) printed in MOBILE GHETTOS.

For those unfamiliar with the original story:

In this universe, there is no fifteen years' separation, Illya and Napoleon have been partners for twenty uninterrupted years. As the story begins, Starsky and Hutch, two L.A. cops, are assigned to protect the dancers of a touring Russian ballet company who have been receiving death threats, which are a ruse to cover a larger conspiracy against a foreign official attending the opening night. Illya and Napoleon, undercover, are on the scene to prevent the assassination. Illya has replaced the director of the dance company while Napoleon poses as a reporter. The lead dancer, a beautiful, capricious young man, falls for Illya and pursues him relentlessly despite constant rebuffs. At the end, the assassination is foiled, Napoleon is slightly wounded, and Starsky and Hutch find out Illya and Napoleon are long-time partners and U.N.C.L.E. agents. They overhear an encounter between the young dancer and Illya, who is trying to dissuade the boy gently, but the boy is upset, and says, "You're so kind, Illya Nikovitch. So damnably kind. I hope you are blessed by the same good fortune you give me." Illya's response is, "I have been. For twenty years." Later, Starsky wishes Illya luck, and the exchange goes, Illya: I have always had luck. Starsky: Is that all? Illya: That's all I have ever dared ask for. I adore Illya, and my reaction to reading and loving the original story was, of course, a determination to make Napoleon very, very sorry. That's all the excuse I have for the following. [2]

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

"Brief Candle" is by the multi-talented Suzan Lovett, and must be one of the most talked-about fanfics in Man from UNCLE fandom. Illya and Napoleon are approaching their 50's and still active field partners until Illya is cut down by terrorists. Lots of hurt, not nearly enough comfort, and far far too much angst as a result of unfathomable characterization. To give the author credit she was trying to undo an implausible situation created by another fan writer, but... ye gods, the way she does it! You'll need a couple boxes of tissues and time to mentally prepare yourself. 43 pages. [3]


Brief Candle, Suzan Lovett, 45 pages. Napoleon feels responsible when Illya is critically injured during a mission. The doctors drag him back from death's door, but make it clear that he will not survive. Napoleon takes certain extraordinary measures to ensure that he does. Exactly what he does, and exactly why he does it, and the eventual consequences for both of them, I will not specify. I'm not sure I'd forgive myself if I said too much and spoiled this story for someone.

**Opinion: This is one of the most incredible, amazing, gut-wrenching, utterly *exquisite* things I've ever read in my life. In my opinion, it is worth the cost of the zine all by its lonesome. (D'you get the feeling that I kind of liked this story? :-) [4]
After I read BRIEF CANDLE, I began screaming and jumping up and down and flinging zines all over the room. [5]


  1. It was #1, not #2.
  2. author's introduction to the online version
  3. from Partner Mine
  4. On October 11, 1997, terrio posted this review of the zine to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission.
  5. fan's comment at Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (October 11, 1997)