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Title: Footwork
Author(s): Kellie Matthews
Date(s): 2004
Length: 97 KB
Genre: slash
Fandom: Man from U.N.C.L.E.
External Links: at the author's website, at Chrome and Gunmetal

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Footwork is a Man from U.N.C.L.E. story by Kellie Matthews.

Reactions and Reviews

Very few people can hold a candle to Kellie Matthews. She is an amazingly talented writer who handles canon and fanon beautifully, is a master at capturing Napoleon and Illya’s voices, is great at characterization, and wholly inhabits whatever genre she’s writing in to the extent that you can easily imagine her stories as actual episodes. Plus, she writes incredibly hot sex scenes.

I was a big fan of her “Due South” stories, and was thrilled when I discovered that she also wrote “Man from U.N.C.L.E.”...“Footwork” presents us with unique undercover assignments for Illya and Napoleon: a ballet dancer and an I.R.S. agent, respectively. This amusing premise also gives us a great turnabout in regard to the roles they normally play undercover (Illya gets to be the one salivated over, and Napoleon’s makes him less noticeable). It also gives us a rarity in any fandom: a well-handled previously established relationship between our favorite guys. Although this story is done with a light touch, a little poignancy near the end balances it, giving it depth and emotional resonance, and really makes it a perfect read.

What makes this story so good? The writing (crisp and beautiful), the dialogue (Kellie’s got Napoleon and Illya’s witty banter down brilliantly), the set-up, the sex (*fans self*), and Illya in tights (really, need I say more?) [1]
I read it as soon as it was published. Very well written indeed. Illya as a dancer is not my favourite image of him but it may be justified in the context.[2]
Kellie makes it work, though (i.e., Illya as a ballet dancer)! The premise never bothered me because I keep recalling some of the more fanciful undercover assignments in the series -- if memory serves, wasn't Illya undercover as a personal hairdresser at one point? Anyway, what's good for the goose in canon, is sauce for the gander in fanon. :)[3]
I keep recalling some of the more fanciful undercover assignments in the series -- if memory serves, wasn't Illya undercover as a personal hairdresser at one point?

Absolutely yes! And I see your point. But to act as a ballet dancer, even in a minor role, needs a long and hard professional training and I didn't know how it could have been possible during Illya school years, given all his other academic or sportive achievements (gymnastic is not dance). And in my mind, dancing has something too charming and feminine for this tough, austere and very male character (that's a prejudice, I know but I feel that way). There was the same premise in Lois Balzer's work and prevented me completely to enter her universe. I must admit, my ability in "suspension of disbelief" is very low.

So, the fact I read the story with great interest nonetheless is still more indicative of the author's talent.[4]
You do make some very good points! I think the story works very well, and Kellie gets around any stumbling blocks by emphasizing Illya's lifting ability rather than his grace. I never gave it any more thought while reading than: 'Hmmm, a gymnast would have to do a floor exercize in competition, and gymnasts do take a little ballet to round out their athletic abilities...' And as Illya states in the story, he's just going through the motions and pretending, making it believable enough for rehearsals, but not for a real performance. In fact, he blanches when Napoleon suggests otherwise. I also think Kellie shows a similar aspect to Illya, making it more about his ability to inhabit an undercover role, when she has him impersonate a Royal in the story. Napoleon sees Illya become someone else before his eyes without a change in clothing or make-up, but with just a shift in his demeanor.[5]
Kellie's stories are wonderful, so they're easy to gush over! I adore "Footwork," but "Lost & Found" is my current favorite of her's. I'm sure the next one she writes will also become a fast favorite. :) [6]


  1. ^ a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  2. ^ a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  3. ^ a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  4. ^ a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  5. ^ a 2006 comment at Crack Van
  6. ^ a 2006 comment at Crack Van