The Long Night
Napoleon stifled a yawn and straightened himself in his seat. They'd left headquarters during the early afternoon, and had been on the road ever since. He glanced over at Illya, who had taken over driving when they'd stopped to pick up some coffee. It had been light then. "You doing okay?"
"I'm fine. It's only," Illya took a quick glance at the glowing face of his watch. "Two am."
"Is that all?" Napoleon responded, with only a small note of sarcasm. "I feel like we've been in this car for days."
"I calculated how long it would take us to get there. I've marked it on the map in the glove compartment," Illya said as he turned on the dome light.
Napoleon dutifully removed the map and spread it out on the dashboard. He leaned forward, squinting at the fine lines that were barely visible, even with the overhead light. "Don't quote me, but I think we should be almost there," Napoleon said. He turned the map ninety degrees and frowned. "I think so, anyway."
Illya glanced over. They were far from any city, so the moon was the only other source of light as it played in and out of the trees. "The coordinates are the ones Anderson gave us."
"Are you sure they're right? He was pretty out of it when he was picked up. Kept going on about his mother wanting him to go home."
"His mother? Did she?"
"Would have been some trick, considering she's been dead for over ten years."
"Do they have any idea what caused his breakdown?"
"They're not so sure it was a breakdown. I'd be surprised if THRUSH didn't have something to do with it. Mike didn't just have hallucinations. He went into convulsions for a while. They weren't sure he was going to make it."
"He's going to be okay, isn't he?"
Napoleon wearily shook his head. "They don't know. I sure hope so. Mike's only been with the UNCLE for a little less than three years. I'd hate to think that he didn't have a future with us."
Illya snorted in disgust. "Don't those people get tired of working up these concoctions? But what if THRUSH wasn't involved? What if this outpost doesn't even exist? You said he was seeing things. Perhaps he only thought he saw an outpost."
"I'm willing to give him the benefit of a doubt. Before he lost it, Anderson was pretty explicit about what he'd seen. He even described the area and the building."
"And he was certain that it was off of this road?"
Napoleon folded up the map and put it back into the glove compartment. "That's what he said. That he'd been on this road when he'd spotted the tire depressions in the dirt. He left his car on the shoulder and walked in about a mile and saw the building. When he called it in, he was supposed to just stay put. We lost contact with him after that, until someone from a town about ten miles away reported a man wandering around, half naked."
"I don't know how we're going to see tire marks in the dirt. It's pretty dark out here."
"I wish our communicators would work. Maybe then we could get some directions."
"Odd, isn't it, that Anderson's communicator worked, but ours don't?" Illya questioned. They had tried to call in half hour earlier, and had only gotten static.
Napoleon nodded in agreement. "Which makes me even more sure that THRUSH is around here somewhere. They probably set up some sort of jamming device after discovering Mike snooping around."
They drove on, both concentrating on the road as it wound through the countryside. Another half hour had gone by before they came around a bend and were met with a thick, wall of fog.
"Oh, this doesn't look good." Illya slowed down as the fog crept toward them, and then finally encompassed the car. He'd never seen fog this thick. He could barely make out the end of the hood. "I think I better stop."
"Good idea. Do you want me to get out and guide you?"
"No, it's fine." Illya slowed the car to a crawl, as he turned it onto the shoulder. When all four wheels were off the road he stopped, turned off the lights and killed the engine.
They sat quietly, the silence broken only by the ticking of the engine. "Now what?"
Napoleon gave him a sly look as he turned to face Illya. He lay one hand on Illya's thigh and squeezed. "We could make out."
Illya scowled. "If we start that, making out is not all we'll end up doing."
"And what's wrong with that?" Napoleon asked, as he put his other arm around Illya's shoulders. His tug was gentle, but insistent, and Illya quickly found himself wrapped in Napoleon's embrace.
"Stop it." Illya tried to push him away. "Someone might see."
"In this?" Napoleon looked out the windshield. "Someone could be sitting on the hood of the car and they wouldn't see us."
"Exactly. Someone could come up to the door, and we'd never know."
"You're being paranoid. There's no one out there." He slid his hand up Illya's thigh and then onto his genitals. He cupped Illya's burgeoning cock. "See, you want it, too."
Illya couldn't deny that. It had been almost a week since they'd had anytime for each other. So he didn't protest when Napoleon undid his belt and unzipped his pants. Or when Napoleon's hand found its way in and wrapped itself around Illya's cock. And he opened his mouth in welcome when Napoleon leaned forward and began kissing him.
That this wasn't a good idea was still running through Illya head when Napoleon pulled his tongue out of Illya's mouth, moved over and down and settled his own mouth onto Illya's cock. That's when all thought fled. He placed one hand on Napoleon's head, as if to guide it, though Napoleon needed no such guidance. He sucked Illya's entire length into his mouth, until Illya felt the head of his cock hit Napoleon's throat.
Illya cried out, and his hips rose off the seat to meet Napoleon's mouth. Napoleon grabbed the back of Illya's trousers and awkwardly tugged them down until they were around his knees. Then he placed his hand on Illya's ass, his fingers splayed wide. Illya's hips undulated, pushing his organ in and out of Napoleon's welcoming mouth.
He heard the rattle of metal and his eyes flew open. But it was only Napoleon, working at his own buckle and pushing his pants down. He somehow managed to keep one hand on Illya's ass, while masturbating himself with the other.
It took barely a minute or two. It had been far too long, and Illya was still nervous enough that he prefer it be over with fast. So he didn't try to stop it when he felt the impending orgasm. His body stiffened, a soft moan escaping his lips as Napoleon eagerly swallowed his come.
Illya let his head fall back. Napoleon had stopped sucking, but hadn't released Illya's softening cock. He kept his head on Illya's lap while his own cock slipped up and down through his fingers. Finally Napoleon pulled away, a cry escaping as he ejaculated into his hand.
"You okay?" Illya asked when Napoleon didn't move.
Napoleon chuckled and sat up. "Yeah, just a little light headed." He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and started wiping off his hand.
Illya gave him a sour look as he pulled his pants up and adjusted his clothes. "I'm not surprised. This was really a stupid thing for us to do."
Napoleon shrugged as worked his own clothes back into place. "No harm, no foul. Besides," he grinned. "Don't you feel better now?"
Actually, Illya was feeling a bit light-headed himself. He shook his head, as if to throw off the effects of their behavior. He looked over when he heard the car door open. "Where are you going?"
"Nature calls. I'll be right back." Napoleon closed the door behind him, but then just stood there.
"What's the matter?" Illya shouted.
"Just listening for any cars. The fog is lifting, but I still don't want to get so far from the car that I can't find my way back," Napoleon responded. Then he proceeded away from the road and out of Illya's sight.
Napoleon had barely stepped away from the car when he'd caught sight of the cornfield. It was about twenty feet away, but he figured it would make the perfect screen. He looked back. Illya was bent forward, his attention on the dashboard. Probably trying to pick up a radio signal. No sense bothering him. It wasn't as if he was going very far. With that thought, Napoleon stepped through the tangle of grass and pushed his way into the tall corn.
He tried to step from the top of one row to the next, but one misstep and his foot slid down into the muddy water. He swore under his breath as he tried to pull his foot up. The mud seemed to want to hold onto his shoe. With a final tug, he managed to get loose. After maneuvering through four more rows, he gave up. To hell with it. He probably couldn't be seen from the highway now, anyway. He unzipped his pants and worked his penis out. With a wicked grin, he aimed his steam toward one of the stalks. He was readjusting himself when he heard a scream.
He looked around as he zipped up his pants. The scream had seemed to come from further within the cornfield, but the fog distorted the sound, so he wasn't sure. He thought about returning to the car first, but a second scream changed his mind. He began shoving his way through the stalks and toward the sound.
After a few minutes he slowed and then stopped. There hadn't been another scream and he was no longer sure from what direction it had come. He frowned. Come to think of it, he wasn't sure what direction he'd come from. He wheeled around, trying to find something that looked familiar. But he stood in a forest of stalks, and nothing was visible above them as they swayed in an oddly beckoning motion.
Napoleon blinked. The stalks seemed thicker, closer together than they'd been before, becoming a barricade to his finding his way back to the road. He shook his head and backed up, tripping on the uneven ground and falling into the mud. He frantically pulled himself to his feet and started walking, keeping watch on the thickened stalks, the stalks that seemed to be moving closer. He kept walking backward, trying to get away, but, the more he walked, the closer they seemed to get. Finally he turned and started to run.
The stalks slashed at him, cutting into his face, his hands. They seemed to be trying to grab hold of him. He cried out as one wrapped itself around his arm. With a frantic pull, he broke its hold and continued running. Further away from the car, deeper into the field.
Illya snapped off the radio with a sound of disgust. It was as useless as their communicators. Nothing but static. And where the hell was Napoleon? His partner wasn't known for his modesty, so how much cover did he need? Illya searched the area alongside the road. The fog had almost completely dissipated, but all he could see was a sea of corn. He checked his watch. He'd give Napoleon another five minutes.
Thrumming on the steering wheel, Illya wasn't sure who he was more upset with, Napoleon or himself. It had been a monumentally stupid thing they had done. The chances that someone would have come along had been minuscule, but it was a kind of chance that they had been trained never to take.
Nevertheless, he couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face. It had felt so good to be with Napoleon again. In the six months that they'd been lovers, they'd managed to spend at least every other night together, either in his apartment or Napoleon's. And it hadn't gotten old. He wanted Napoleon just as much now as he had for, well, for more years than he wanted to admit. And going by Napoleon's behavior, the feeling was mutual. Napoleon's words had certainly reinforced that belief.
Illya let his head fall back as he remembered the first time Napoleon had said that he loved him. It had come as a complete surprise. He had known that Napoleon cared for him; they were, after all, partners. But love, commitment? No, he hadn't expected that. Wished for, dreamed of, but never expected. He often wondered if Napoleon would have stayed silent if it hadn't been for the knock down, drag out fight they had had. Illya couldn't even remember what it had been about, but he'd be forever grateful for it.
They had been shouting at one another, both unwilling to back down. Almost coming to blows, Napoleon had suddenly grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him into a kiss. Illya had been so surprised that he hadn't resisted. Then Napoleon pulled back and, after a slight hesitation, asked ‘don't you know that I love you?'
Since then things had been really good between them. Great, even. Much like tonight.
Illya sat up and shook his head. What the hell was he doing, daydreaming like that while on a mission? He looked off to the side of the road. Napoleon still hasn't returned. With a disgusted sigh, Illya leaned over and got a flashlight out of the glove compartment. He opened the door and got down from the car. He shivered. There was something about this place that he didn't like. But he didn't like not knowing where Napoleon had gotten to even more. He closed the door and trotted over to the cornfield.
"Napoleon," he shouted. "Napoleon, are you in there?" Nothing. Illya pulled out his gun and walked toward the cornfield. Shining the light back and forth over the ground, he easily spied Napoleon's footprints. He followed them into the cornfield. At first, they were fairly easy to follow. But soon enough, they became muddled, as if Napoleon was no longer walking, but perhaps running. From what, or from whom?
Illya stopped, not sure what to do next. What if Napoleon returned to the car and found him gone? Should he return to the car, or continue his search? No, something told him that Napoleon was in trouble, a sixth sense that Illya tended to dismiss when it didn't involve his partner. But when it did, well, then the only thing to do was heed it. Resolved, he carried on with his search, leaving the road behind.
He'd been searching for almost an hour when he heard a noise. Illya stopped, and listened quietly. It sounded like it was someone pushing through the corn, somewhere off to his left. He started in that direction, making as little noise as was possible.
He stopped. Ahead was an opening. A large tree sat in its center, perhaps saved by some sympathetic farmer. Under its boughs, stood a woman. Illya's eyes widened. It was Baba Yaga, the supernatural being his grandmother had scared him with whenever he was bad. He violently shook his head. He couldn't be seeing what he thought he was seeing. It seemed to help, for the woman's face and form started to morph. It slowly changed from that of a deformed and ferocious looking woman, to that of a female UNCLE agent with a gas mask on. She had her back against the tree, and her head turned from side to side, as if sweeping the area.
He stepped through the stalks and approached the tree. "What are you doing here?"
She turned at his words and pulled her mask off. "Illya, Am I ever glad to see you. I seemed to have gotten lost."
It was Sylvia Torres, a rookie who had only been with the UNCLE for less than a year. "Who else is with you?"
"There's about a dozen of us, though I haven't been able to raise anyone for a while."
"Yes, my communicator isn't working, either."
"I wonder if the explosion at the THRUSH base had anything to do with it. Though it certainly made it easier to find," she said with a laugh.
"The one Mike Anderson told us about?"
"That's the one." She studied her mask." Maybe I shouldn't have taken this thing off. I thought, because you weren't wearing one, that it was okay to remove mine."
"Why would you be wearing a gas mask to begin with?"
"Didn't you see the gas?" She looked worriedly around. "It seems to be mostly gone, so maybe we'll be okay."
"Are you talking about the fog?"
"That wasn't fog. It was what came out when the THRUSH building blew up. Wait, didn't you hear the explosion?"
"No, but we drove into the gas, so we were probably too far away when it happened. What does this gas do?"
"We're really not sure if it does anything at all, but we thought we better not take any chances. Not after what happened to Mike."
"Good idea," Illya responded, rather vaguely. He was wondering if maybe this gas might be why he had seen what he had seen. If so, it was lucky that he had never been in it full strength.
"What's the matter?"
"Napoleon has probably been exposed to this gas. He's out here, somewhere." He touched her on the arm and motioned her forward. "Come on, we need to find him."
They moved through the field, calling Napoleon's name. Illya hoped he was okay. He hoped it wasn't too late.
Napoleon fell to his knees. His chest heaving, he hung his head down and closed his eyes. He'd lost his bearing long ago, and seemed to be going in circles. Everywhere he looked the rows of corn continued off into the distance. He was so tired.
An urge to just lie down overcame him. It would be so easy. So easy to let whatever it was he was running from catch him. He didn't know what it was, but there was a malevolence in this field, a malevolence that followed his every move. It taunted him, always staying just out of sight, so that Napoleon would believe that he had a chance of outrunning it.
But he knew now that he didn't. That whatever it was would catch him eventually. To lie down, just for a few minutes, wouldn't make any difference.
He almost gave in. He almost let it win. But that wasn't in his character. He had fought against evil for too long, given too much of his life to its eradication, to give in now.
With the little energy he had left, he pulled himself to his feet. He was filthy, covered in the slime and mud that he had fallen into so many times. His clothes were torn. His head ached and his heart was going like a trip hammer. He took a shaky breath and pushed forward.
At first he thought he was seeing things. It wouldn't have been the first time this night. He'd lost count of the times he'd been fooled, seeing something that turned out not to be there. But the image didn't change. The corn did seem to be thinning out.
He kept going until he stumbled into an open area. The eastern sky was lightening, the sun finally coming up. He wondered how long he'd been lost. He shielded his eyes from its growing brightness and froze. Someone, or something, stood not ten feet in front of him.
He took a closer look and then laughed. It was a scarecrow, a stupid scarecrow placed out here to keep the birds away. It wasn't doing a very good job of it, though, as a crow perched arrogantly on its hat.
Napoleon's eyes went wide. It was almost as if the scarecrow had called his name, the word rising and falling in an eerie, singsong intonation. He wiped his hand across his mouth. That couldn't have happened, could it? Was he hearing things now, as well?
It was the scarecrow. He was sure of it. He could see the face now, a malevolent mask that seemed to stare at him from its deep sockets.
There was a gust of wind, and the bird suddenly flew away with a panicked caw as the scarecrow's shirt fluttered in the breeze. But when the wind died down, the shirt kept moving. It billowed in and out, as if the scarecrow was breathing.
Napoleon gave his head a violent shake. That couldn't be happening. The scarecrow's face couldn't be turning toward him, repeating his name over and over, even though it didn't seem to have a mouth. Napoleon took a step back, unable to tear his eyes away from the horror in front of him. He continued to stare, not quite believing what he was seeing. And then the scarecrow stepped down from its support and started toward him.
A scream caught in his throat as he stumbled back and fell. Perhaps it was the shock of the fall that kicked his training into gear. No matter how impossible this all was, no matter how frightening, he knew what he had to do. He pulled out his gun and emptied it into the advancing figure.
Illya was trying not to panic as he and Sylvia trudged through the field. They'd been looking for his partner for hours. The field was so big, it could take hours more. Hours that Napoleon didn't have.
"I wonder why no one has come looking for us," Sylvia said. "I would have thought that they would have noticed that I was gone by now."
"They may be, and having just as much luck finding us as we've had finding Napoleon." He pushed aside yet another stalk, and then swore under his breath when his foot slipped, causing him to stumble.
"The sun's coming up. It should make looking easier."
Illya looked to the east. "I hope so. Though this place is like a maze, and even during the day–"
His words were cut off by the sound of shots being fired. Without a second thought, Illya started running toward the sound. He crashed through the cornstalks, unwilling to contemplate the idea that it wasn't Napoleon.
"Illya, wait up!"
Sylvia was falling behind, but Illya didn't care. He worried that if he did, he'd lose the direction the shots had come from and never find Napoleon. He kept running, not slowing down until he caught sight of something he hoped was his partner. Barreling into an open area, he was brought short by what he saw.
Napoleon was on the ground. His arms were crossed over his face, and he kept repeating ‘no, no.' His feet worked against the ground, as if he was trying to push himself away. A scarecrow stood a few feet away. Burnt holes peppered its shirt where the bullets had gone in. Illya hurried over and knelt next to his partner.
"Napoleon, it's me. Everything is all right." Illya grabbed Napoleon's arms and tried to pull them toward him. "Napoleon, open your eyes."
Illya was taken aback when Napoleon responded and his eyes snapped open. He looked wildly around, not even seeming to see Illya. He fought to get away, and it took all of Illya's strength to keep him down. But the fight seemed to go out of Napoleon after scant minutes, and he returned to his chant. No, no.
Illya moved around and pulled Napoleon into a sitting position, his back was against Illya's chest. Illya wrapped his arms around his partner and held on. He couldn't think of anything else to do.
He felt so helpless. He had no idea where they were, much less where the road was. How was he going to get Napoleon to the medical aid he so obviously needed?
They'd be sitting there for several minutes when Sylvia broke into the opening. She stopped and stared at the two men, before casting a look at the scarecrow. She hesitated a moment, and then cautiously approached. "Is he all right?"
Illya shook his head. "He doesn't seem to know me." He looked around, unable to control his anger. "We've got to get him out of here."
"I've got good news for you. I finally managed to raise someone. A helicopter is on its way, but we're going to have to get him back to the road. It's about a quarter of a mile that way," she said, nodding her head to the left.
"If it would not be totally unprofessional, I'd kiss you." Illya got his feet under him. "Help me get him up."
With one of Napoleon's arms thrown over his shoulder, and the other over Sylvia's, they half carried, half dragged Napoleon through the cornfield.
"Solo's luck, eh, Napoleon? We're closer than we imagined." Illya gave his partner an encouraging shake.
Napoleon frowned, appearing to try to focus on Illya's words. But it was only a few seconds before his attention slid away, and he returned to his chant of denial.
Illya tried to quicken their pace, but Sylvia was having a hard time keeping up as it was, and Napoleon was beginning to feel like a dead weight.
"Look," Sylvia said, "there's lights up ahead."
"Hang on, Napoleon, we're almost there." The smile of relief on Illya's face slowly faded. Napoleon's face was slack, and his eyes had rolled back in their sockets. The only sign that he still lived was the slowing rhythm of his breath.
Sylvia placed her hand on Illya's bowed back. "He's going to be okay, Illya. I'm sure of it."
Illya stared at his clasped hands. They'd been sitting in the waiting room since Napoleon had been hustled away on a gurney. "The doctors didn't sound too optimistic. Napoleon was in that stuff for a long time."
"I heard that Anderson is still having some problems."
That brought Illya's head up, quickly enough that he saw the glare Sylvia threw her partner's way. Don Brewster was young and good-looking. Just the kind of guy who would be looking to take on Napoleon's mantle of resident lady killer. Little did they know.
"They think that Anderson was given a full dose in a closed room. He would have inhaled a lot more than Napoleon did," Sylvia responded. "Besides, if there's one thing I've always heard about Napoleon Solo, it's that he's a fighter. He'll fight this."
Illya looked over and gave her a shaky smile. "I hope you're right."
"I'm just saying," Dan groused. He turned his head toward the door and then pulled himself away from the wall he'd been leaning against. "Here comes the doc."
Illya quickly stood up as the doctor came through the door. He stepped forward. "How is he, Doctor?"
The doctor smiled. "He's doing fine. It's going to take a few days for him to get back on his feet, but you got him here in time. A few hours later, he might not have been so lucky."
"Can I see him?"
"Yes, but don't stay too long. More than anything else, he needs rest."
"I'll only stay for a few minutes."
The doctor nodded and then left for his rounds. Illya turned toward Sylvia. "I have to thank you for all of your help. If we hadn't crossed paths, I don't think I would have been able to save Napoleon."
Sylvia blushed, but grinned after a friendly shove from her partner.
"Take a bow, Torres. You earned it," Don said. "Come on, drink's on me."
"You going to be okay, Illya?" Sylvia asked.
"I'll be fine. Go, go enjoy yourself. As your partner says, you earned it."
As soon as they left, Illya hurried to Napoleon's room. He opened the door, letting himself in as quietly as he could. The only light came from the small lamp sitting on a table positioned next to the bed. He approached his sleeping partner.
Seeing Napoleon, knowing that he was going to be okay, Illya was finally able to relax. He closed his eyes, his body shuddering in relief.
"I'm going to fine, you know."
Illya opened his eyes. Napoleon was awake, and looking at him with fond exasperation. Illya scowled. "Only because we were lucky."
"Aren't we always?" Napoleon put out his hand.
Illya looked behind him. Someone could come in at any time. Still, though reluctantly, he found himself taking the offered hand in his. "Yes, but that doesn't mean we always will be."
"Don't. It all worked out in the end. We'll live to fight another day."
"As long as we don't do anything stupid…like having sex in the car. I don't know what got into me, letting you talk me into that."
"Oh, that." Napoleon hesitated. "Didn't the doctor tell you?"
"Tell me what?" Illya asked, alarmed. What else was going to be wrong?
"Apparently the gas also lowers inhibitions. We must have both gotten a light dose through the car's ventilation system."
Illya actually sighed in relief. He'd wondered, and worried, about their aberrant behavior, not to mention his own hallucination. He scowled. "Still, it was completely unprofessional and totally out of character."
"I know, I know, but it was fun, wasn't it? Doing something dangerous?" Napoleon asked, his eyes sparkling.
Illya could only relent. He'd never been able to resist Napoleon. Why start now? "Yes, I have to admit…it was dangerous." He tightened his hold on Napoleon's hand. "But I may have to get a sample of the gas. Perhaps, with some tinkering, it might inspire some interesting nights."
Napoleon tugged at his arm. "A man after my own heart."
Illya pulled away and released Napoleon's hand. "Perhaps, but not tonight. You need to rest."
He thought he'd get an argument, but Napoleon was already flagging. Illya dared to give him a quick kiss on the cheek, and then left the room. He would be back in the morning; the doctor said a few days, but Illya would be surprised if Napoleon wasn't demanding to be released the next day.
Illya walked down the hospital corridor and to its front door. He pushed it open, and stepped out into the morning light.