by Pathfindr

Somewhere in the heart of Africa.

Two men sat before a cheerfully blazing fire. One was dark haired with hazel eyes. He wore a smart well-tailored survival suit. The other was blond with sky blue eyes that wore dark well-used camo gear. Both were comfortable with each other even if one wasn't with the surroundings. The blond smiled at the way his partner fussily poked at the meat hoping it was done. It would be the first meal they had had in three days.

"So Illya, think it's done yet?"

"Napoleon, I though it was ready as soon as I killed it." He smirked at his partner.

"Yeah well some of us are civilized and prefer our food cooked."

"Picky, picky, picky! Food is food." He smiled

"Well listen buddy just for that you can take first watch."

"Thanks, I knew there was something about you that I didn't like."

Napoleon didn't comment he just poked the meat with the only knife they had. He finally decided the pork was done and cut off a strip. Biting into the tough stringy meat he grimaced at the taste. He looked up at his partner who had a far away look in his eyes. Napoleon continued to watch quietly until the looked passed.


Illya blinked before responding to his partner. "It would probably be best to sleep in the trees tonight, safer from predators."

"Predators? Can't you just will them away or something?"

Exasperated Illya responded. "Napoleon just because I'm able to do a few things I wasn't before does not mean I can control everything."

"A few things?" Napoleon looked at his partner with an incredulous face. "Illya you can change your freaking shape. You can talk to animals. You can walk in the darkest of night and see perfectly fine."

"That's just it, I can talk to them but not necessarily control them. It takes a hell of a lot of energy to do that. Also I am a mid-size predator and a pride of lions has little respect for leopards or I am sure jaguars."

"Lions?" Napoleon looked alarmed.

"Yes about five miles that way." Illya pointed north with his chin."

"They're not going to come here are they?"

"Well, I'm keeping an ear out for them and trying to keep them clear." Illya sighed. "At least they're cats so it's easier." He looked at his partner with a grin. "Don't worry Napoleon as long as we take precautions we should be fine." With that Illya stood and dusted off his pants. "If you need me just call, I'm going to scout and prowl."

"Sure just don't get lost."

"Ha ha, I'll be back in half an hour, find a good place to sleep." Then with a talent that Napoleon had always envied, his partner vanished into the night, silently.

Half an hour later the fire had been banked and Napoleon was looking at the only tree he thought would work. Unfortunately he couldn't reach any of the branches and he still wasn't 100% after their taste of Thrush hospitality.

"Problems Napoleon?" Came a quiet voice in the shadows. Napoleon nearly jumped to the branch he was looking at. He turned around and saw his partner standing behind him, a hint of a smile on his face.

"Damnit Illya don't do that." He growled. Illya just smiled.

"But now that you mention it I could use some help. Think this tree will be okay?"

Illya looked up to determine his partner's choice. "It should be okay, need a boost?" Illya asked with no hint of teasing. Napoleon had strained his knee while they were escaping and so walking could be difficult.

"Yes please." Illya stooped down and created a stirrup with his cupped hands. Napoleon placed his foot in and Illya boosted him up. Napoleon grabbed a branch and scrambled higher. Illya looked around, making sure the fire was banked, the food taken care of, and the one bag of supplies they had was ready to be handed up.

"Here Napoleon catch." Illya called while throwing the bag up to his friend. Napoleon caught it deftly then settled more securely on his chosen branch.

Napoleon asked his partner while he reached for him. "Need a hand?"

Illya simply jumped and pulled himself up with his friend's help. He climbed to a branch that was just a little lower then Napoleon's so that if something did happen he would be better able to defend them.

"Do you need a blanket Napoleon?"

"Won't you need it?"

"If I get cold I can change to hide and hair. Now do you want it?"

"Sure." Illya handed up the light blanket and watched as he carefully settled it over himself.

"Goodnight Napoleon get some rest."

"Are you going to wake me for my shift?"

Illya answered a little too quickly, "Yes Polya now go to sleep."

Napoleon raised an eyebrow but didn't question him any more. He knew that when Illya used that tone with that name there was no use arguing. Illya was telling him that he had no intention of waking him and if he tried to argue a full-blown Russian winter would settle in and stubbornly refuse to leave. So he settled himself to sleep.

Illya listened to his partner settle then finally sleep. Illya put himself into a light trance he had been practicing lately; it would keep him alert but still get some rest. Most important he would be able to keep alert to the creatures around him for they would know trouble before he would. Lifting eyes to the clear night and stars he waited.

Illya watched through the night for trouble on two or four legs. He knew for a fact he was in both leopard and lion territory. As long as he stayed a man he thought they should be fine but both species wouldn't hesitate if he was a panther. He settled a little more comfortably sending a glance up at his partner. For a change he had come out of their situation only lightly bruised. Napoleon on the other hand had been beaten but not broken. He had wrenched his knee while they had been escaping. So Illya would take care of him and figure out some way to get them both home. The single communicator they had was broken but Illya hoped it was putting out the homing signal he had tried to jury rig from it. A noise from below alerted him to the fact the lions had decided to come and check out the interesting smells. He didn't stop them it would have cost him too much energy. As long as they didn't try and climb their tree he would let them be.

The next morning found both men stiff and sore from sleeping in the tree. Dawn was promising clear skies and oppressive heat. Illya stretched each muscle separately and popped his spine while looking around to determine if any danger was present. When nothing showed he turned to his barely awake partner.

"Napoleon you okay?"

"No I'm stiff and sore from sleeping in a tree. I swear this branch was determined to gouge a hole in my back."

Illya smiled at the familiar grousing of his friend knowing he was fine. "Well that's nice. We had some midnight visitors last night."

"Oh who?" Napoleon asked while he slowly worked out his own kinks.

"Just that pride of lions I was telling you about." The Russian looked over to the other tree and grimaced. "Ah looks like they got our breakfast as well."

"Damn I was hungry too."

"Well I can go hunt later but I think we should get out of here. If those cats come back looking for more I don't want to have to deal with them."

"Sure... ah Illya think you could help me down?"

With no hint of amusement Illya responded promptly. "Sure Napoleon." He stood with a natural grace Napoleon could never hope to match. He reached a hand up to his friend who used it to steady himself as he climbed down. When he reached the ground Illya threw the pack towards him and climbed down as well.

"Well shall we leave? I'd like to get further away from that satrap."

"Be my guest Napoleon." Illya bowed elaborately to his partner. "After you."

Together they set off across the plains keeping in the shadow of the mountain range they were near. Napoleon set a pace that he hoped he could maintain but his leg was killing him. Illya kept alert to trouble and his partners conditions. As it was nearing noon, Illya decided it was time for a rest.

"Napoleon it's too hot, lets take a break." He stated while searching out a place to sit in the shade. Napoleon exhausted simply followed until the other man indicated a place for him to sit. Illya then looked into his face and saw how pinched and pale it was. He came to a decision quickly and began executing it.

"Napoleon rest here, I'm going to find us something to eat." He removed the pack from his shoulder and settled it next to the other agent. Napoleon began to protest.

"Illya you've been up for over 24 hours, I can help."

"I'm fine and I can hunt easier without you. Just stay here and stay out to trouble." Quickly closing his eyes, he concentrated until he dropped to all fours. Standing before the older agent was a large adult Black Panther, the cat gave a wink before launching himself into the brush. Napoleon settled himself more comfortably and contemplated his partner. Since he acquired his ability to change, his independent streak had gone through the roof. Illya only listened to him or their boss Alexander Waverly. He was also more then likely to go off on his own not bothering to check in for a few days if a lead presented itself. And his own take charge attitude could be annoying. Like now Napoleon was having to wait while Illya took off to hunt without even discussing it. He decided it was about time they had a serious discussion, he was the senior agent, and he should get some voice. Napoleon settled deeper into the shade to wait.

Two hours later Napoleon was still waiting for his partner and getting mightily annoyed. They would definitely be having a talk later. He looked over his left shoulder when he though he heard something so when the black cat popped out on his right he wasn't surprised. Illya carried another small pig in his mouth. He dropped it before Napoleon before flopping into the shade and panting heavily. Napoleon looked down at the dead creature then at his partner. He could see Illya was already falling asleep, knowing he hadn't had much sleep he didn't say anything. Instead he simply picked the creature up and began to divide it. He saw that Illya had already taken care of the insides, which he was grateful for. Napoleon stood and started gathering the supplies to make a small fire and cook the food. He crudely cut strips from the animal and mounted them on sticks over the fire. He looked at his partner who was fast asleep and smiled, when he decided to crash he did it whole heartily. He wasn't moving a muscle except for his constantly twitching tail.

It took some time to cook but predictably when it was done Illya woke and changed back into his human form. He trotted over and sat next to his friend, accepting a stick of meat.

"Thanks I'm starved."

"You're always starved." Smiled the older man.


Both men began to nibble their lunch while Napoleon mulled over a question that had been plaguing him for years.

"Illya?" He paused while the other man looked up.

"There's a question I've been wondering about for years."

"Yes?" No hurry in the other mans voice.

"When you change form, what happens to your clothes?"

Illya nearly choked on his food and Napoleon had to pound him on the back to help. When he recovered he wiped his mouth, staring at his friend but there was humor in his eyes. "You only NOW got around to asking that?" Illya chuckled again ignoring Napoleons impatient glare. When he finished he put his stick down and tried to answer.

"At first I couldn't. When I first realized I had this power to change I could only change my physical body. It took a long time to begin to notice that the clothes that were made of natural materials and I mean all natural changed with me." He paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. "It still took time and I have to think about incorporating them into myself when I change. The clothes become my fur."

"What happens with inorganic or metal?" Napoleon was genuinely curious.

"Inorganic won't work, like plastic. I can do some metal but not much. Mostly the zipper in my trousers and ringlets in my shoes. That's why I carry the collar in my pack most times so I can carry small things."

"So anything else you're carrying?"

"Drop to the ground and I have to hide them or remember to get them later."

"Sounds like fun."

"Yeah but thankfully it doesn't happen often and I can plan for those times I think I'm going to need to change."

"Well that's nice to know." Napoleon looked around before speaking to the other man. "How about we pack the rest of the food and take off?"

"Very well." Illya slapped his knees before standing, then gathered their meager supplies. Napoleon watched for a moment before putting out the fire. He saw Illya getting ready to sling the bag over his shoulder when he snatched it away from him.

Just as he was about to protest Napoleon held up his hand. "No Illya you might have to change and we wouldn't want to lose this." He smiled and after a moment Illya let him have it, together they walked off.

They walked for a few more hours but as dusk was settling he noticed his partner getting more and more edgy. It was as they were making camp that Napoleon finally confronted him on it.

"Illya what's wrong?" Illya didn't start but the wary gaze he directed to Napoleon was all he needed to know something was wrong.

"Something's stalking us. It's keeping downwind so I can't tell for sure what."

"Can't you think at it and figure it out?"

Illya gave him a scornful look before replying. "What do you think I've been doing? There are too many animals around for me to figure out which one." He smiled at Napoleon; "It seems we stumbled into a favorite hunting ground, so we better be careful."

"Right, tonight you pick the tree."

Illya was about to respond when the attack came with no warning. Out of the bush came a mangy cur of a lion. He went straight for Napoleon, claws out and ripping. His jaws reached for the bag he had been carrying. Illya didn't think he just reacted by lunging at the beast changing form in mid air. He raked the back of the old lion trying to cause as much damage as possible. He knew the heavy mane would keep him from getting a killing grip on his throat so he aimed his jaws to the sensitive ears. Underneath Napoleon tried to fight but it was hard with two cats on him.

The lion roared with rage and pain as he turned to attack the smaller cat. Illya leaped clear and snarled at the bigger animal trying to distract him from his partner. He jumped to the side as the larger cat charged, before leaping again onto his back, cutting deep with his claws. Napoleon struggled to his feet ready to help his partner in any way that he could. He was breathing heavily and the gouges in his back weren't helping. He watched as Illya danced backward drawing the old lion away. Never had he seen his partner move that fast in either form. Illya sprang up onto a rock and roared with fury before jumping and heading for Napoleon. He skidded to a stop and grabbed the knife from Napoleon's weakening fingers. He launched himself at the lion that had paused in confusion. Illya didn't, he changed in some impossible way and buried the knife deep into the beasts throat. He jumped back and watched the old creature die before turning to Napoleon who had collapse onto the ground. Illya saw the deep wounds in his back. He opened the bag and took out the blanket. He put it to the side and removed his own shirt and tore it into strips, pouring what little water they had onto them. Napoleon groaned at the feeling before speaking.


"Hush Polya, I need to work."

"The lion?"


"Oh." Was all he said before dropping back to the ground, allowing Illya to tend him.

Illya was worried, Napoleon was bleeding heavily and he didn't have much in the way of first aid supplies. He tried to bandage his partner wounds but it wasn't working. He knew he could die without proper help. Illya was frustrated, he knew that it was only a matter of time before the loss of blood took his friend and brother.

As he looked on in despair a feeling came to him, a strange never felt feeling before. It was saying there was something he could do, something that could save the life of the only family he had left. The feeling grew, making his blood boil. He looked down at his hands for a moment then looked to the lion lying dead a few feet away. Making his decision he ran to the lion grabbed the knife and put his plan into motion never noticing the sounds of helicopters approaching.

Napoleon woke slowly and disoriented. He could hear voices but didn't know if they were friend or foe. He also felt warm but again he didn't know why. As he started to awaken more, the voices began making sense and he knew whom they belonged to. All but the one he most wanted to hear. Finally he couldn't stand it anymore and opened his eyes. What he first saw was that he was in a hospital, second that he was hooked up to all sorts of machines, third his partner was in a bed next to him paler then the white sheets while a doctor and two nurses hovered over him.

Illya had multiple IV's in his arms and chest. A container of blood dripped steadily into him, while heart monitors showed the extremely slow heart beat. Napoleon would have kept looking if another person in the room hadn't noticed he was awake.

"Napoleon?" Called a voice to his left. He turned his head and a petite redheaded woman gently grasped his hand. "Napoleon we were so worried." The doctor came over to check him out.

"Mr. Solo glad to have you back. It's been a long time." Napoleon finally recognized Dr. Jeff Morgan.

"Doctor what's going on?" Just that little bit had left him breathless.

"Well to start, both of you were brought in a little over a week ago. Looks like you two decided to do a little role reversal. You were gouged up while Illya had practically nothing on him." He consulted his chart a moment. "Your running a high fever and your blood work is insane, we're still trying to figure out what is going on."

"Illya?" That was the only real question he had.

"Weak very very weak. He literally can't stay awake more then a few minutes but he has been asking about you."

"Why tell?" Napoleon was getting tired but he was still curious.

"Because I have worked with you both for too long. You would worry yourselves sick if you didn't know the basics. Besides the two of you are the worse patients Uncle has." He stopped as he noted the small grin on Napoleons face. "Look at you, you're proud of that," but the doctor was smiling. "Anyway Napoleon get some rest, you both need it." Napoleon very tired gratefully closed his eyes and was soon asleep.

A few days later Napoleon was more active though his blood work was still mystifying science. Illya on the other hand continued to sleep and still had a bag of blood attached to him. No one could figure out why his blood just seemed to break down on him. The doctor was worried and so was Napoleon at Illya's mostly non-responsive state. He would only stay awake for a few minutes before slipping into a deep sleep that was next to impossible to awaken him from. Napoleons blood work was still showing massive infections but the antibodies didn't seem to do any good. He also had a low-grade fever and slept a great deal. He was just waking from another nap when he heard voices coming from his partner's bed. He opened his eyes and found both Alexander Waverly and Dr. Morgan standing over him. They were speaking low so Napoleon had to strain to hear.

"Come on Illya, isn't there anything else you can tell us?" asked the good doctor.

"Leave 'lone sleep." Mumbled the young man. The doctor looked to Waverly and nodded. Napoleon watched as the older face concurred and resolved into resigned sadness. In a voice that dated back to when Waverly was in the army he ordered the young man to report.

"Comrade Kuryakin, REPORT!" Napoleon saw Illya straighten instinctively at the sound of his superiors voice. In another moment Illya answered in a slurred voice.

"Yes Sir."

"Report your activities in Africa!"

"Trying to get home, Sir."

"Where did the dead lion come from?"

"He attacked Napoleon. I defended."

"What happened after the attack?"

"Napoleon was injured, I performed first aid."

"What else?" the question was fired off quickly for Waverly could tell the agents strength was waning.

"Blood, too much blood. Die without help. No help, I help," Illya whispered one last line, "I... give... blood." Then his eyes closed and he slept.

Waverly and the doctor looked at each other for a few minutes. It was the doctor who broke the silence first.

"Holy Jesus Fucking Christ!" he bellowed before running out of the room shouting orders.

Waverly moved to Napoleon's bed and sat in the chair placed there. "Well Mr. Solo looks like your partner has really succeeded in getting himself into trouble again."

"Sir?" Napoleon was concerned with the doctor's behavior.

"The transfusions are not working very well anymore. Each one does less and less for him."

"So what's happening sir?"

"Don't know yet, but if something doesn't happen soon, he won't be around for much longer."

Two hours later the doctor came storming in. He had a file of reports in his arms and a nurse trailing.

"Alex, Napoleon you would not believe what I think that blond bastard did." Dr. Morgan placed his chart on the bed and took a syringe the nurse held out for him. "I just went over Kuryakin's entire history from just before he was changed to now. The most interesting thing I found was that his blood work tests and yours match, if we compare yours now to his then."

"What?!" came the surprised reaction from both men.

"Yes and I think that's the problem. He gave so much blood that now his body doesn't have enough to work with on its own. Whatever mysterious powers that are in it are not present in the blood we are giving him, so his body is rejecting it."

"So what can we do?" Napoleon asked quickly.

"I want to take a couple pints of your blood and put it into him. See if that strengthens him at all."

What about all the crap you've filled me with."

"Frankly I don't think it will matter right now. Also we really don't have the time. He needs help now!"

"Fine do it." Napoleon held out his arm that the IV was attached too. The doctor quickly attached the tubing and began to draw out the two pints of blood, when done he secured Napoleon again.

"Good it's his blood and hopefully he won't resist it."

"Are you just going to inject him""

"Yes normally I would screen it but I don't know if it will lose the properties we are trying to use by doing it that way." Turning he hurried over to Kuryakin's bed and changed out the container of blood hanging from the pole. He attached the new blood and all waited anxiously for it to start entering his system. "All we can do now is wait. Hopefully it will help him." He turned to Napoleon; "Get some rest Napoleon your system also is trying to readjust itself."

"Doctor what do you think the side effects will be for Mr. Solo?"

"I have no idea. Illya is a law unto himself on a good day. When he does stunts like this he makes it even more difficult on the world around him."

All three eyes landed on the slight man and hoped this transfusion would work. They didn't have much time left.

Illya's body showed improvement but he did not awaken again. He received another transfusion from Napoleon three days later but there was no response from the still form. For Napoleon he made steady progress in healing. His low-grade fever still refused to go away but he could make short trips without getting into trouble. So with the return of his health and his partner out commission, he got stuck with the paper work.

The end of the fourth week was upon Napoleon before he got the last of it done. He was actually closing the last file when a sound made him whip around at his partner. Looking back at him was a pair of bright blue eyes twinkling with mischief.

"Illya?" exclaimed Napoleon as he climbed out of his chair and hurried over. "Illya how you feeling?" He stood over the bed and felt his forehead. Illya didn't even bother flinching, he could see the worry quite clearly is his friends posture.

"Tired Napoleon."

"You shouldn't be, you've slept most of a month away." Napoleon smiled down at his partner, his eyes full of concern.

"How are you Polya? Better?" Illya's own eyes raked over his partner checking for himself.

"I'm fine, but you had us all worried." He paused for a moment but continued with just a touch of heat in his voice. "Why Illya?"

Before the Russian could answer a new voice entered the conversation. "Very good question, but I am more interested in the how." Dr. Morgan stepped into the room. "Afternoon Illya and how are you today?"

Illya whose face had been open before shut down to his normal scowl and he growled out an answer. "I'm fine."

"I'm sure." he said not a hint of belief in his voice.

"When can I get out of here." He groused. Napoleon smiled, his partner was already trying to escape.

"Oh not for a while you have a lot of explaining to do."

"I'll put it in my report, now can I go?" His tone was downright surly.

"Not good enough, Mr. Kuryakin. A full report will be required from you." Waverly announced as he appeared in the room.

Napoleon smiled to himself as his partner was out voiced. His inner smiled faded when he saw the cunning look flit briefly across his face. He was up to something and chances were it wasn't good. His expression instantly reverted back to its blank setting even as the doctor began to poke and prod at him.

"I'm fine, I just want to go home." Pouted the Russian.

"You young man will stay in that bed until I order you otherwise." Commanded Mr. Waverly. Illya's scowl returned but he didn't protest any more.

"Well Illya you're doing better. That transfusion you received seems to have done it."

Illya looked at the doctor raising an eyebrow in question.

"Oh yes, you received some of your own blood back from Napoleon. It was touch and go for a while." All three men watched as Illya shrugged dismissive, before scooting deeper into the bed and going promptly to sleep. Napoleon was used to those reactions but the doctor was surprised and Waverly had a contemplative look on his face.

"Well I guess that ends that Q&A session." The doctor adjusted one of the machines Illya was hooked to then excused himself. Waverly looked at the young agent in the bed then the agent's partner.

"Mr. Solo I've come to a decision?" Napoleon straightened a bit then responded

"Yes Sir?"

"Mr. Kuryakin is some what of a enigma. From time to time I've wondered if it might be best to separate you." Napoleon's eyes widened slightly at that information. "But now I have decided that won't happen. Neither one you ever got along well with other agents and frankly nobody tolerates this exasperating creature like you do. Nor does anybody put up with your arrogance and womanizing like he does." Napoleon was about to protest when he saw the sly twinkle in the old mans eyes. He relaxed and finished listening to his superior. "So from this moment on he is yours. I'm going to hold you both responsible for the others action. You will also have the responsibility of keeping him out of trouble when you're not on duty." Napoleon didn't know what to say, but the thought of trying to keep his trouble magnet friend; out of said trouble would be a full time job. He looked up just as his boss was leaving. "Oh and by the way Mr. Solo, due try and find out what Mr. Kuryakin did. I am sure it will be most interesting." He then ducked out before Napoleon could cover up the protest he hadn't a chance to think up or cover.

"That old smart ass BASTARD? He planned this from the start. He never intended to separate us. He just didn't want the hassle of trying to get a confession out of Illya!" The older agent sat down in a chair and glowered at the unfairness of his life. After sitting for a while a smile then a laugh broke out. Standing quickly he retrieved the files he had been working on and went about his duties.

The next few weeks did prove interesting Illya slept a great deal but regained very little of his energy. When Napoleon tried hinting, suggesting and down right asking his partner what had happened. Illya would simply close his eyes and fall back to sleep. It was most annoying and Napoleon was getting tired of it. He resolved that next time Illya woke that he would get some answers out of his partner. Napoleon stood with barely a wince now from his back, the claw marks had healed but he still had an elevated temperature that had the doctors puzzled. He was on light duty until it could be resolved, that and no one else wanted to put up with the Russian. He made his way from his office down to medical where his partner still was. He walked through the doors and noticed the whispered conversation going on, having a feeling it had something to do with his partner, he hurried to his room. What he saw when he arrived was a sight he had never seen. His partner was pushing his food around but not eating it. He approached cautiously.

"Illya are you alright?"

Illya gave his food a final push before shoving the entire tray away. He gave his partner a beseeching look.

"Napoleon I'm hungry but I don't want this." His partner took the offending tray and placed it on a table. Then he returned to sit on the bed next to the smaller agent.

"What is it you do want?" There was nothing but kindness in his tone. Illya looked up at his partner through his bangs, the blue eyes pleading.

"I want to go hunting."

Napoleon looked at his friend and all his instincts screamed that he still wasn't strong enough to get out of bed. Illya barely had the strength to walk from his bed to the bathroom and back. He opened his mouth to deny his friend when Illya spoke again.

"Please Napoleon." The tone Illya used was one Napoleon heard so rarely it took him a moment to process it. Illya was so tired of not seeing more then four walls. He was experiencing the full effect of a caged animal who didn't have the strength to change anything. Illya was reaching his limit and he desperately needed someone on his side. Napoleon could never deny that plea and he wasn't going to start now. He pulled his partner close for a moment.

"Alright little brother, I'll take you hunting."

"Thank you." Illya leaned into his friend, closing his eyes for just a moment. That was his mistake, Napoleon immediately felt the younger man go limp against him and looked down. His partner was fast asleep, smiling he settled Illya back into his bed then went to talk to his superior.

"No Mr. Solo, I am told Mr. Kuryakin is not yet strong enough to move."

"Sir I really believe it would be in his best interest."

Waverly puffed on his pipe for a moment before turning to the other person in the room.

"Doctor what do you think?"

Dr. Morgan quickly retrieved his files then spoke up. "Honestly he is so weak that a strong wind could blow him over. I have not seen any improvement in his day to day monitoring, but some in his weekly reports. I don't think he should even go outside."

"Well then Mr. Solo that is..."

"Sir I have given my word that I shall take Illya out. He needs it for his own mental well being. He is not happy and as the doctor says he is not showing any improvement day by day. Even the weekly reports aren't much."

Waverly looked at his young CEA gauging his words and feelings. He looked over to the doctor and noted his expression as well. Finally he came to a decision.

"Alright Mr. Solo you can take him out but there are a few conditions." He took another puff, Napoleon waited. "You of course will escort him, along with Miss Dancer and Mr. Slate. He is to be well guarded at all times. Also Dr. Morgan will accompany you as well." The doctor looked startled but didn't protest. "Does that meet with your approval?"

Napoleon wanted to flinch at the tone his superior used but didn't. "Yes sir thank you. I will tell him right away." Quickly Napoleon and Dr. Morgan left.

Dr. Morgan spoke up as they were walking back to medical. "I don't like this Napoleon he is just not strong enough to be going out.

"Illya is a lot stronger then most people realize, also and more important he is more stubborn then ten people. He wants this and I think he needs it."

"Very well Napoleon you're the best judge of your partner."

Together the pair walked back to Medical in silence.

Napoleon smiled to himself every time he looked into the back seat. Illya had once again managed to take up most of the back seat and his head was pillowed on April's lap. Illya had changed into his cat form just before they had left and it had exhausted him. He had climbed into the car and settled down only to grumble when Dr. Morgan climbed in behind him. He settled for forcing the doctor to the very edge of the seat. Napoleon was riding shotgun to Marks driving. Now they were almost at the woods they had visited before. Napoleon watched as April petted the sleek black head and smiled again. She was the only person allowed this privilege, if any of the others tried it he would have ripped their arm off. He also noticed that Illya's back claws were out just enough to keep the doctor from encroaching on his space.

"Napoleon we're here." Mark said softly so as to not disturb the sleeping agent.

"Thanks Mark." Napoleon turned to April. "Hey April why don't you wake him. Jeff you might want to step out." He watched amused as the doctor hurried to obey.

April meanwhile had taken her finger and was holding it about Illya's ear making it twitch. In just a few minutes Illya was coming around blinking his eyes open. He looked around then grinned to his friends in satisfaction. He stepped out of the car and took a deep breath of the clear mountain air. He let his eyes roam over the countryside, ears alert to all sounds.

"Well Illya me lad, you going to stand there and smell things or you going to do what we came out here for." Mark teasingly but still unwisely asked.

Illya's answer was to slowly stalk towards the younger agent, growling and snarling quietly. Mark slowly began to back up not wanting to trust Illya too far. The others watched with veiled amusement as he was maneuvered until he tripped over the only log in the clearing and into the only mud puddle. Illya nimbly danced out the way before trotting over and sitting beside his partner. Napoleon tried his best to suppress his chuckle but it still came out in his voice.

"Well Mark I guess that will teach you to tease your superiors."

"Glah, damn you, you black furred blue eyed BASTARD!" sputtered Mark trying to wipe mud from his face. Illya snickered one more time before looking up at his partner. Napoleon returned the look then announced to the others. "Alright, Illya and I are going out, see if we can find something."

"Ah Solo don't you think I should come along? So he doesn't push it?" Illya laid back his ears and silently snarled at the doctor. Napoleon hid his own contempt.

"Sorry doc but were going to be moving fast and silent. You're not trained for that kind of maneuvering."

"Still he shouldn't be pushing it."

"Don't worry I'll take care of him."

The doctor not being stupid didn't argue anymore.

"Call if you need us." Together the pair walked into the woods.

Napoleon walked into the woods alert to any danger while his partner sniffed the air for any interesting scents. Stopping at a particular smell he looked to his partner.

"Okay Illya take off. I'll be behind you." Illya grinned jumped over some bushes and was gone. Napoleon continued to walk and listen to the sounds around him.

In the clearing the younger agents setup a picnic table on the hood of the car and set out some chairs. The doctor watched all this with growing frustration.

"What the hell is going on?" He yelled.

April looked up from placing the last chair. "What do you mean?"

"You're setting up a bloody picnic. We're suppose to be guarding Kuryakin!"

"Hey look guv, we're doing exactly what we are suppose to be doing. Neither Napoleon or Illya would appreciate us clomping around after them"

"But your agents, you wouldn't do that!"

April and Mark looked at each other then April spoke. "Yes we are trained in all manner of moving including in the woods. But Napoleon acts just like a stalking predator and Illya is! Now they can take care of themselves. We are here for backup."

"Well what about me?"

"You're here in case Illya needs it. Napoleon won't hesitate to do what's good for his partner. If he feels Illya needs your help he'll drag him back here."

"Yes now stop worrying. We have more important things to do." Mark smirked at his partner.

"What?" the doctor was starting to be convinced.

"Letting April firmly trounce us in poker."

"What?" the doctor exclaimed in fake outrage. "Ill have you know I was the all state poker champ in my college. Give me those cards I'll show you."

So the three settled down to wait for the senior pair.

Many hours later Napoleon was getting tired and hungry. He had only seen his partner a few times in the hours they had been in the woods. He wanted to go back and get something to eat but wouldn't leave without Illya. Napoleon found a dead log and, after cleaning the worst of the dirt off sat down. As he sat he pondered what his partner was doing and when they could go back. His muscles were sore and he could tell his temperature had spiked up again. But he would wait for his friend.

Illya was getting tired; the strength he received in his cat form was fading. He knew that if he didn't make a kill soon it would be months before he would have the strength to try again. He knew his partner was waiting and was also getting tired. If something didn't come soon he would give up so his partner didn't suffer anymore. Illya settled himself a bit more in the tree he had chosen. A few minutes later his luck seemed to be working for out stepped an old buck well past his prime. The buck walked closer to his tree but just as he was going to drop a stray gust of wind brought his scent to the old beast. The animal threw his head up, made eye contact for a moment before running. Illya charged after him knowing this would be his last chance. He chased after the creature and when the clearing appeared ahead he stretched a bit and leaped for the deer's back.

Napoleon raised his head suddenly at the loud sounds coming from his left. Out of no where an old white tailed buck came sailing over the bush followed a moment later by his partner. That sight started his blood pounding and a roaring in his ears. When he saw his partner leap onto the old bucks back and bite his neck Napoleon couldn't stand it anymore. Something inside him was demanding freedom and he was powerless to stop it. He jumped from his seat and raced after the black cat.

Illya was satisfied finally, he had killed and was getting ready to feast when a ferocious snarl assaulted his ears. Looking up he was shocked to see a black mane fully gown lion barreling down on him. His mind was still struggling to understand what was going on. But there was nothing wrong with his instincts. From childhood he was programmed for survival and his animal instincts just increased those feelings. He abandoned his kill and ran for the closest tree leaping straight up and climbing to the highest branch he could. He looked down and spotted the lion looking up at him, he let out an instinctive snarl at the larger creature. The snarl was returned but then the beast turned and went to the fallen deer. He settled himself down to his stolen kill.

The three playing cards were surprised at the sudden noise coming from the wood. Mark and April immediately drew their guns and tensed ready for action, but nothing came their way.

"Should we go and check on them April?"

April thought for a moment then nodded her head. Mark turned to the doctor. "Hey doc you stay here. Call us on the communicator if you need us. Also do you know how to shoot?"

"Not much."

"Well here." Mark reached into the car trunk. "This is a pump action shotgun. It's fully loaded and this is how you hold it." Mark held it up to his shoulder for a moment. Then he passed it along to the Doctor.

"Oomph damn it's heavy."

"Yeah also has a kick like a son of a bitch. When I'm tired sometimes it pushes me back."

"I'll remember that."

"Good ready to go April?"

"Yes let's go find the troublesome twosome."

Illya looked down from his perch at the lion that had stolen his kill. He was trying to figure out where it came from. He also looked around for Napoleon, knowing he had been here just recently.

"Damnit Napoleon where did you go this time." He watched as the lion shook his head and snarled at the dead deer.

"Well I guess I can try talking to it. Maybe it escaped from a local park or something." Illya took a deep breath and concentrated on the beast before him. When he entered his mind Illya was inundated with feelings of panic, confusion, fear and hunger. Also Illya sensed a deep-seated need to protect and serve.

(OH NO! OH BLOODY HELL! How did this happen?!) Shouted Illya in his mind. (Waverly's going to KILL ME!)

April and Mark moved through the woods trying to find their friends. Mark was tracking and not happy about it.

"How does the Russian do it. I'm good at tracking real good but there is nothing here for me to work with."

"Just habit, why don't you ask him about it when we find them?" she asked sweetly.

"Oh yeah right he would only assign me more tracking exercises, with him as my personal instructor."

"Yes and I would probably have to join in."

"Let's see if we can find them quickly and get out of here. I don't want to fight another bear."


(Shit, shit, shit, shit, SHIT! Waverly is going to kill me. How can I explain this? I am Soooooooo dead!) Illya moaned to himself watching his partner eat HIS kill. (Typical, just typical. I do all the work and he gets the benefits. We are in so much trouble.) Illya looked again and decided he would try getting down. As he gathered himself to jump, the wind picked up and carried with it a familiar scent and a few moments later sound. (Ah DAMNIT! All I don't need is those two right now.) A sudden grunt made him look up and see his partner look alertly to where the sounds were coming from.

(Bloody Hell! no time now.) Illya leaped from his tree and landed at full run streaking towards the other side of the meadow. His partner started at the black blur but Illya couldn't worry about that now. He had to get to the younger agents before they got into trouble.

(All on an empty stomach too. I'm getting to old for this shit!) He grumbled as he spotted the pair. He snarled as he slid to a stop in front of the younger agents, before turning and facing the larger animal.

"What the hell, what's a lion doing out here of all places?" Exclaimed Mark, Illya didn't try and answer, he was to busy trying to gain control.

Illya had the ability to control animals but it came at a cost. He was normally exhausted afterwards. And along with everything else going on he knew this would be the last of his strength.

(Please don't fight me Napoleon, I don't have the strength for it.) Illya slid into the mind of his partner, made easier by the years they had been together. Illya was looking for Napoleons core. The core that Illya used himself when he changed.

April and Mark watched as the lion shook his head and growled at them. But he didn't move from the deer carcass. They could see Illya was up to something by the tenseness in his body and the concentration showing in his eyes. They stayed still not wanting to interrupt whatever was going on.

(I know your in here somewhere Napoleon give me a sign.) Illya tried to find his friend's center.


Illya snapped towards the sound of his name and finally spotted his quarry. He was in the middle of the worst confusion. He looked at Illya with a mix of fear, confusion and of all things exasperation. Illya paused for a moment at that last sight before he dived towards his friend and came up beside him.


**I assume you have a good explanation for this?** He sounded calm but there was a hint of humor in his tone as well.

Illya fell back on their usual banter. **Explanation maybe, good I doubt it. But I don't have much strength left Polya. Take my hand and concentrate. We'll get you back to normal.** The younger agent took the older ones hand and together started the long journey back.

April and Mark watched in amazement as both animals began to shimmer. They were used to seeing Illya change but when the form of their CEA began to emerge they were in shock.

"What the bloody hell? Jeez April what do you thinks is going on?"

"Don't know what's going on. But I do know Mr. Waverly is going to blow a gasket when he finds out!" The younger team just watched as the older pair emerged.

Napoleon had no way of knowing how long it took to change him back. All he did know was Illya had the strength and patience to lead him back to normal. When he finally felt the wind on his bare skin he opened his eyes and blinked to focus them. He was on his hands and knees looking across at his partner. He didn't like what he saw.

Illya knew he only had a few moments left and spoke quickly to the pair behind him. "Take care of Napoleon, I'm done in." Then he closed his eyes and collapsed into the grass.

Napoleon leaped up when he saw his partner go down. He ran as fast as his Jell-O like limbs would allow. He skidded to a stop on his knees in front of his friend.

"Illya, Illya, Oh GOD, what the hell is going on?" Napoleon cradled his friend's head in his lap. Only at that moment realizing he was stark naked. "Umm Mark could you be a help and find my clothes?"

Mark looked down at the pair then over at his partner. "April do you mind looking?"

April started then blushed before responding. "Oh sure any ideas?"

"Over that way I think." Napoleon waved his hand over to the general area. April quickly left. "Mark could I borrow your jacket?"

"What oh sure mate." He quickly took it off still in shock over what was happening.

"Thanks, he's not doing good, rapid pulse, shallow breathing and he is cold and clammy. He's going into shock. Call head quarters get a chopper up here now. We're flying him back."'

April ran up with Napoleon's clothes and hardware. "Here Napoleon."

"Thanks, run ahead and tell the doctor Illya's going into shock, that he over extended himself. Just don't tell him what really happened, that has to wait until we are secure in headquarters."

"Right." She took off running.

"Hold him a moment Mark while I get dressed."

"No problem." He kneeled and carefully took hold of the smaller agent. Napoleon threw his clothes on not bothering to button his shirt or dealing with his socks.

"Okay Mark give him to me. I'll carry him out."

"Uh you sure you can?"

Napoleon fixed him with a stern glare. "I am always strong enough to carry him!"

Silently Mark lifted Illya into Napoleons arms, grunting at the expected weight. Napoleon took him with ease cradling him to his chest.

"Lets go."

Mark didn't question just followed his commander.

They came out of the woods as the chopper was landing. Dr. Morgan was furious, he knew this was a bad idea. "Napoleon I told you this was a bad idea."

"Stow it, he needs help, that comes first over your bitching!"

The doctor blinked, sighed then with the dedication of a professional started going over the patient.

"You know we will talk later."

"I have no doubt."

"Just for the record I think you both do this deliberately just to annoy me."

"Understood, with him I feel the same sometimes."

The chopper landed and further talk was impossible. Illya was carefully loaded onto a stretcher and a mask placed over him to aid his breathing. He was wrapped up in a blanket and loaded onto the bird. Napoleon and the doctor followed him in while Mark and April got the fun of packing everything up and driving back the two hours it would take to get home.

"Mr. Solo if you would be so good as to explain what is going on." Solo cringed at the tone his superior used. It was in the clipped tones he used only when he was truly furious and was one step away from assigning him to mail room duty. Again.

"Ah sir there was a slight complication..."

"SLIGHT! Mr. Kuryakin is in medical again and in worse shape then when he left."

"Sir I know but I really would like to wait until Slate and Ms Dancer get here because they are witnesses and would help support the story."

Waverly thought about it for a moment then nodded. "Very well come to my office the instant they arrive. You WILL explain then!" Solo let out the breath he was holding. "Ah Mr. Solo,"

"Yes Sir?"

"Mr. Kuryakin is hereby restricted to head quarters until further notice. He will not be allowed out until he is up and back to a satisfactory, in MY opinion, condition."

"Yes sir." Napoleon was not looking forward to telling his partner he was grounded. He turned back into his partner's room. Illya was lying quietly in his bed fast asleep. He was still pale but his heartbeat and breathing had returned to normal by the time they returned. He was hooked up to an IV but mostly he was free to just sleep. Napoleon knew he was on borrowed time until the younger agents came back.

"Napoleon? He turned at the sound of his name to the doctor.


"I have the test results back." Jeff flipped his chart to the proper page. "Despite both of your attempts to kill him with that little stunt today, he is showing signs of strength. Oh not enough where I would release him but better then before we left."

"Thank goodness I was afraid it was all for nothing with what happened."

"Yes speaking about that..."

"No I am not going to tell you what happened. Waverly wants to know."

"I know Napoleon, I'm going to that meeting. No what I wanted to say is that your fever is gone. Your test results came back as completely normal except for your blood type. That has changed to something quite interesting. It mostly matches Illya's and his blood type is not a normal one anymore either."

"Great I wonder what else is in store for us?"

"I would assume a long and painful meeting with Waverly getting the whole story. Illya has a lot of explaining to do." Grinned the doctor.

"Yes convenient he's taking a nap right now." He glared at his partner.

"Now, now, Napoleon his time will come and all will even out." The doctor looked Illya over one more time then left Napoleon to watch over his partner.

"So Mr. Solo, Mr. Slate and Miss Dancer have arrived. Are you ready to explain what happened?" He was very curt to his CEA letting him know he still wasn't pleased.

"Ah well Sir. I'm not sure how."

"The beginning will be fine."

"Very well Sir, It started when we got to the meadow..." Napoleon went onto explain about the long hunt, his feelings of hunger, heat and tiredness. Then his confusion and how Illya had helped him through the confusion. Then the return trip and finally to the meeting right now. He watched his superior's face closely but the old man was giving nothing away. When Napoleon was finished he lapsed into silence waiting.

Finally Waverly turned to April and Mark. "Is what he is saying true?"

The pair looked at each other before April answered.

"We didn't see him actually tired or hungry but I assume he was. We did see him change back from lion to human, just like Illya has done."

Mark nodded his agreement.

Waverly looked at the worried trio for some time, trying to decide what to do. In this job many strange angles came but this was one of the strangest. He wasn't quite sure how to deal with his most efficient team.

"Mr. Solo do you have the ability to change at will like Mr. Kuryakin?"

"I don't know Sir. I haven't tried and Illya helped me turn back last time."

"Yes but Mr. Kuryakin learned how on his own. He said it wasn't too difficult."

Napoleon swallowed in nervous embarrassment before continuing. "Sir logic rules Illya's world. After he got over the surprise he would analyze it until he had everything figured out. I honestly don't know where I would begin."'

Waverly nodded, what his CEA said emphasized what he already knew from what Kuryakin had told him many years ago. What it all came down to, was that Illya had a lot of explaining to do.

"Very well Mr. Solo once again it seems we are waiting on your partner. Go take care of him let me know when he wakes and has the strength to explain."

"Yes Sir."

"Meanwhile Mr. Slate you will take over as section two number two until Mr. Kuryakin is released. That will free Mr. Solo of some of his duties." He looked pointedly at Napoleon. "And Miss Dancer since you are the only other person he might listen too you will help in his care."

"Yes Sir."

Waverly looked at the three of his four top agents and sighed to himself. All of them were trouble magnets but his senior team and Kuryakin especially was the worse. It had been such a nice day too. But with this group nothing was ever easy not even a simple picnic.

"Alright dismissed, keep me informed of Kuryakin's condition."

"Yes Sir." They all chorus before hurrying out the door.

April was sitting quietly reading next to Illya's bed but not really processing what she was reading. She was thinking about Napoleon and how he was becoming more irritable when attending other duties the longer his partner slept. The doctor was still studying the test results but they were coming up blank. April looked up from her reading when she heard a light cough. Staring at her with sleep filled blue eyes was Illya. He blinked again before coughing.

"Illya your awake." She put her book down and reached for some ice chips. "Here this should help." She spooned some chips into his mouth.

"Thanks how long?" he asked weakly.

"How long were you out?" At Illya's nod she said. "About a week. Everyone is getting pretty concerned."


"He's the worse, when he's in here with you he's okay but outside this room no one wants to be near him. He acts irritable, impatient, annoyed with everything and everybody."


"Ah ha I know that look what are you up too?" April's voice was sharp with worry and humor.

"Hmmm oh nothing." He closed his eyes for a few minutes before opening them again and stating. "Napoleon is on his way."

"What? How do you know that?" Her only answer was a smile.

But true to what Illya said not ten minutes later Napoleon came barreling into the room followed by the doctor.

"Illya your awake." Napoleon smiled with relief at his friend as he walked.

Jeff Morgan cut in before Illya could respond "How you feeling young man?"

Illya scowled at the doctor for interrupting. "I'm fine. Napoleon?"

"Tired but in better shape then you."

"I bet."

"Umm I'm here and I do have some questions that need to be answered."

Illya barely listened he just analyzed his partners condition for himself. When satisfied he closed his eyes and...

"Oh no you don't tovarish there are a couple questions I want answered." Napoleon could see that Illya was gearing up to avoid problems by falling asleep. Napoleon could also tell that his partner was stronger then he looked.

"Napoleon I'm tired."

"Yes well your nap can wait. You've slept for a week."

"Fine what do you want?" Illya started to growl not looking forward to this.

"Illya we would all like to know what you did, what's happened to Napoleon?" The doctor was determined to join in.

Illya sighed he didn't want to deal with this. He had a headache forming and he was starving. He looked at his partner pleading with his eyes. Napoleon raised his eyes in startlement at the feeling he received when Illya looked at him. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up on end. He could feel the pain Illya was trying to cover and Napoleon decided he would have to do something if they were going to get anything out of the Russian.

"Doc can we get something to eat for him? Also looks like he has headache coming on."

"Sure some thin soup to start with and I have just the thing here." He reached into his packet and pulled out a syringe of something. He quickly inserted it into Illya's IV ignoring the lighter agents scowl. "Nurse could you get some light things for Mr. Kuryakin's meal?" The nurse left quickly leaving three pairs of eyes to stare into dull blue ones.

"Okay young man I want the truth from you and no arguing. What the hell happened in Africa? And what happened in the meadow?" Napoleon stated in a tone that broke no argument with anyone. So of course Illya argued, he was the only one who did so fearlessly.

"Napoleon it is a very long story. I am not even sure about all of it. I just want to get something to eat and sleep."

Before Napoleon could reply the nurse returned pushing a heavily laden cart. It was piled up with enough food to feed a small army.

"I brought enough for you all. It was so close to meat time I thought it would be easier."

"Thank you." The nurse left to perform other duties while the group served themselves. Napoleon watched the effort his friend put into eating before putting his own food down and moving to his side. "Here Illya let me help."

"I can manage."

"Yes but not right now." He could see the argument building so he quickly leaned down next to Illya's ear. He whispered something the others couldn't hear but immediately Illya stopped fussing and allowed Napoleon to feed him.

Doctor Morgan joined in since he wanted to keep an eye on his patient. After some time they finished and Illya showed signs of wanting to sleep. Napoleon could feel them. They had always had a connection but it seemed their bond had just grown stronger in a short amount of time. Napoleon looked down at his partner and could see the struggle he was having.

"Okay Illya you're off the hook for now. Just get some rest."

** Thankyou. **

It was only after Illya had fallen asleep that Napoleon realized he had not spoken aloud.

For two weeks Illya mostly slept and ate regaining his strength. He woke up hungry every time and someone was normally there waiting with food. Napoleon many times was that person, he just seemed to know when he was going to wake and would be there waiting. If it was not possible for him to be there he had April there waiting to feed him. Also he could feel Illya's moods easier now. He didn't always know what caused them but he could better figure out when he was happy, annoyed, amused and disgruntled. Napoleon thought the annoyance and disgruntlement came when he guessed that Illya was lying about how he was feeling or when he tried to get out of bed. What he couldn't figure out was the amusement and where it was coming from. It normally happened right after Napoleon decided something and Illya anticipated it and even tried to improve on it. It was most interesting and he couldn't wait for answers that his friend should be strong enough to give now.

Napoleon walked into Illya's room and wasn't surprised to find him fighting with the doctor. "I want to go NOW!" Illya was dressed and at his most stubborn.

"You can't, your not well enough..."

"I will be the judge of that, now get out of my way." Dr. Morgan stood firm, Illya narrowed his eyes and growled threateningly at him. The doctor stayed put.

Napoleon sighed before wading into the discussion. "Illya listen you can't leave yet..."

"Why not?" Illya's eyes never left the doctor.

"Because your only just up and about. It's not safe for you..."

"I am purrrrrfectly fine looking after myself." He said just to remind them of how well he could protect himself.

"Yes we know that but it's not the doctors opinion that matters here. It's Uncle Alex's." Illya winced at the name of their boss.

"He is the one who will determine whether you're ready to go. You wouldn't want to upset him would you?" Napoleon watched as this final barb hit home.

Illya slumped in defeat and turned back to the bed. Napoleon's sympathy was with his partner. Illya was a wild creature in many ways now. He hadn't been allowed out of the room once in the three weeks he had been there. He watched Illya curl into the bed, his eyes heavy with his enforced captivity. Napoleon couldn't stand seeing him like this so he went over and gave him a supportive half hug. Illya raised his head and gave him a sad smile. The doctor was watching and also was sympathetic to Illya. He would talk to Waverly, see if he would permit the Russian to go under Napoleons care.

At that moment Mr. Waverly walked in and surveyed the group. Napoleon standing next to Illya, Illya slumped in bed and the doctor trying to decide what to do. Waverly knew the young man was getting desperate to get out but he still believed he needed his rest and so the Russian wasn't going anywhere.

"Well Mr. Kuryakin you seem to be doing better."

"Yes Sir." His tone was polite but that was all.

"Do you feel up to telling us the whole story now?"

"Yes Sir, is that the only way I'll get out of here?" He looked up hopeful.

"No but it will be a start on getting out."

Illya sighed but straightened out a bit. "Then I guess I should start with Africa."

Waverly and the doctor sat down in seats within the room. Napoleon elected to settle down next to his friend offering silent support.

"We had just escaped from Trush and were trying to cross the savanah. Napoleon had been hurt so I was doing most of the hunting and guarding. A few days of this went by when I realized we were being stalked. Well I had hunted earlier and some of the meat was in the backpack Napoleon carried. We were just getting ready to leave when the beast attacked. It was an old lion who looked desperate, he was nothing but skin and bones." Illya paused for a moment and Napoleon was startled to feel a bout of sympathy from him. Then he realized Illya was remembering how he grew up and had been in the same situation many, many times.

"He jumped Napoleon and clawed him up pretty bad. I jumped him trying to stop him. Well I finally killed him but not before he had done serious damage to Napoleon. I did what I could but with how heavily he was bleeding I knew there wasn't much time. I don't know where I got it but I felt something inside that..." he paused trying to find the right words. "Something that gave me hope I might be able to save him. So I grabbed the only knife we had and following some inner prompting slashed both his wrist and mine then held them together. I don't remember much after that." He drifted off into silence, looking at the faces around him. Dr. Morgan was both fascinated and incredulous, Napoleon was stunned but Waverly just raised an eyebrow for a few moments. The doctor was the first to speak.

"That is INCREDIBLE! I've never heard of anything like that. Listen there are some test's that I think we should run, find out if we can do a transfer like this to others." The doctor was so smitten with this new idea that he didn't see the agent blanch at the idea of more tests. He quickly covered it with a depressed sigh and avoided eye contact.

Waverly didn't show it but he was alarmed at the level of depression the Russian was showing. He looked to his CEA and could see his concern as well. He rapidly readjusted his mental evaluation of Illya and came to some conclusions. "Doctor how is Mr. Kuryakin?"

"Hmmm, oh we need to run some tests, try and isolate this development, but he's fit enough." He mumbled while going over his charts.

"Very well, Mr. Solo you have custody of Mr. Kuryakin. Take him home, he can rest there just as easily as here."

"Sir?" Kuryakin asked hope rising.

"You are to be on your best behavior. I don't want to hear about any trouble you've gotten into."


"Mr. Solo you have the next two weeks off. Put them to good use." He gave Napoleon a significant look. Illya was to be allowed out to play but only under supervision.

"Of course." He gave his partner another half hug.

The doctor looked at the number one of New York protesting this move. "Mr. Waverly what about those tests?"

"Oh I think we can wait on those."

"But SIR!"

"Doctor this place is already a circus I don't need it becoming a zoo!" He stated as he dismissed the doctors argument.

"The two I have now will be more then enough." The doctor pouted but didn't protest any more.

"Mr. Kuryakin, Mr. Solo it is true I don't need any more problems at this junction but do see if you have the same abilities, it would be most interesting to know."

"Yes Sir, we'll work on that." Was the prompt reply.

"See that you do." Waverly turned towards the door to leave. "Another thing."

"Yes Sir?"

"There is some restructuring going on right now. It will not be effecting either of you for some time. I would suggest that you might want to look for new housing. Something that might allow your other natures out a bit more."

"Yes Sir of course." They both smiled at their boss's understanding. Waverly nodded before leaving.

"Come on partner. Lets get you out of here."

"Finally." Illya slid out of the bed, grabbed his jacket and followed.

The next two weeks were some of the most interesting Napoleon had ever spent. When they had arrived at Napoleon's home he immediately led Illya to his spare room. Illya didn't argue he slipped into the bed, closed his eyes and fell asleep. Getting the first true rest in too long a time.

Three days later and Illya was feeling much better and decided it was time to do some investigating. He slid out of bed and padded out bare foot to the front room. Napoleon was lounging in his favorite chair reading a book. He put it down when Illya came in.

"Well, well so you decided to wake up I see."

"Yes, I finally feel rested enough to get up. I hate hospitals."

"I know the feeling. Listen would you like something to eat."

Illya just gave him a look that said are you really that dumb that you need to ask. Napoleon grinned and stood to walk into his kitchen. Illya puttered around while Napoleon cooked some ham and eggs. He put the plate in front of his partner and watched in amusement as it was consumed rapidly.

Between forkfuls of food Illya suggested "Napoleon I think it's time to find out if you can change like I can."

Napoleon raised his head to regard his friend. "I've been trying but nothing seems to work."

"How have you been trying?"

"Well I close my eyes and try to picture myself as a lion."

"Oh well that could be part of the problem."


"Yes I don't picture myself as a panther, I feel myself as one."


"Its hard to describe." He paused to collect his thoughts. "I think of myself as dark, part of the shadows. I feel the spirit of my other form and slip into that form."

"Oh maybe that would work for me."

"Doubt it."

"What now?" Napoleon was getting annoyed; he wanted to know if he was like his partner.

"Napoleon your passions rule you more then mine do. You're of the open, light and strength. You have to think like that and then you might make better progress."

"Well it's worth a shot."

"Another thing. You might want to take your clothes off."


"Because if you do change I don't think you want to ruin your suit. You're much larger then I am so you might rip something."

"Oh that's right. I remember looking at my shirt it was ripped around the seems."

"That's how it started with me."

"Well we can finish eating and do some practicing later."

"Works for me."

The pair finished eating and moved towards the living room. Napoleon stripped down while Illya sat on the floor.

"Okay Napoleon now think, feel yourself. I know there was an inner core in you. That's were I found you. You need to look for that center and bring it forth. Don't be nervous, I'll be right here to help." Napoleon nodded then closed his eyes and concentrated. Illya watched him carefully, monitoring his progress. He knew Napoleon had the same abilities as himself. He was displaying all the same signs he had when he first figured it out. He just had to help his partner control that ability.

"Damn it Illya! It's been three days. Three days of not a single thing working!" Napoleon was referring to his inability to change. Illya had patiently advised him on ways to try but nothing worked.

"Alright Napoleon lets try something different."

"What?" He grumped.

"We will look for your center together. I found it once, I'm sure together we can find it again."

Napoleon sighed then looked at his friend. "Illya are you sure that I can do this?"

"You did it once, you can do it again. Now close your eyes and take my hand."

Illya extended his hand to his partner who gripped it firmly. There was a feeling like a spark that passed between them. Then Napoleon felt his partner's presence inside him and was comforted by it.

** Alright Napoleon today we find your spirit. The place inside you that holds your pure strength. **

** If we can? **

** Don't think that! ** He said harshly. ** If you think that of course you will fail. Now follow me. **

It was hard for Napoleon to describe the feeling he received as he followed his partner moving deeper inside himself. ** Illya? You do know where we are going don't you? ** He couldn't help asking.

** I have an idea. I've been there once when I brought you back. **

** Oh right. **

A flood of reassurance was sent to Napoleon. ** Brother remember you are not alone. You have me. I went through the same thing you are going through and I had to do it by myself. **

** I'm sorry about that. ** A contrite Napoleon whispered.

** For what? You didn't know and I didn't tell you. It was actually kinda fun. ** He paused for a moment before continuing with a rueful chuckle. ** Well it was fun until Waverly found out and I had to explain EVERYTHING to him. That wasn't so fun. **

Napoleon chuckled as he was suppose to also remembering that time and the hours Illya spent with their boss explaining. He also began to relax, taking confidence in his partner.

It felt like both no time and hours had passed before they spoke again. ** Napoleon look there is the center you kept missing. And look your strength is waiting. **

Napoleon looked into himself and found that inner core Illya described. It was in the form of a magnificent black maned lion. It stood proudly facing the pair, a challenge in its eye.

** Don't be afraid Napoleon, that's you. It is waiting for you to come and acknowledge it. ** Napoleon took courage at his partner's words and stepped forward. He reached out and placed his hand on top of the black head. Abruptly Illya was back in his own body, looking at the most incredulous expression he had ever seen on an animal's body.

"Napoleon can you understand me?"

The lion didn't respond right away, instead he just blinked. ** Illya? **

"Right in front of you."

** This is so strange. How come I can talk to you now? **

"I would think it's because we are so closely bonded now. We were blood brothers before all this started and we've shared blood again. It made it stronger."

** Oh so how do I change back? **

"Actually it would be best if you took a nap in this form. Let your body get used to it and imprint in on your mind."

** Oh, well I guess I am tired. **

"Then sleep we have time."

"Well Mr. Kuryakin you're looking much fitter then the last time I had seen you."

"Yes Sir thank you."

"Mr. Solo good job as well."

"Thank you Sir."

"Now do you have anything to report about the last two weeks?" he arched an eyebrow at his two agents meaningfully. Napoleon and Illya looked at each other for a moment before the senior agent spoke up.

"Well Sir, Illya and I spent some time working at certain things."

"Yes and..."

"Well I have uh the same abilities as he does." Napoleon didn't look at his partner but he could feel his support.

"Very well show me." There was firm authority in his voice. Napoleon stood and went to the middle of the room. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

** Napoleon don't worry, I'm here for you. ** Napoleon nodded at the silent words, then he began to concentrate. It was just the three of them in the room for this special meeting and Waverly was the only one who hadn't seen Napoleon change. It went slowly for the CEA since he was still unsure about how to change. Illya silently encouraged his partner until a tall well-muscled black maned lion stood before them. Waverly stood and went to exam his newest transforming agent. He finished and went back to his desk, picking up a folder.

"Mr. Solo you may change back, we have some things to talk about." He waited until he had changed again. "Very good Mr. Solo, now I believe that you still need time to perfect this new skill. And also Mr. Kuryakin, though he has improved, still isn't in top form. You will both be placed on light duty. Mr. Kuryakin you will resume your duties in the lab, while Mr. Solo catches up on his sections backlog of paper work." He fixed his agents with a steely gaze. "That does not mean that Mr. Kuryakin does half of them Mr. Solo. He is going to be too busy straightening out section eight. Seems some fool down there went and knocked over and spilled the contents of over a dozen filing cabinets. Mr. Kuryakin is one of the few people that has the entire filing system memorized.

**Oh Goody for me! ** Illya commented sarcastically to Napoleon. Napoleon fought to hold back a laugh. Waverly caught him.

"Something amusing Mr. Solo?"

"Ah no Sir, just catching my breath."

"Hmmm." He looked between his two agents suspicious. "Is that all the two of you have been working on?"

"Yes Sir." They chorused together.

Then Illya continued "Napoleon still needs practice changing and I think we should get started on those reports."

Waverly gave them both a sharp look knowing they were holding something back. But it must not effect safety or performance otherwise they would tell him. He decided he could wait them out. "Very well gentlemen, you may go."

Both men quickly stood to get out of the direct eye of their boss. Just as they were about to leave Waverly spoke up again. "Oh one other thing Mr. Solo." There was a wicked smile hidden in his tone making the other agents wary.

"Yes Sir?"

"Ah I don't want to here any stories about you developing new hunting grounds when acquiring company of the female kind around here."


"That is all, dismissed."

Both men left, Napoleon puzzled, Illya hard pressed to keep the smile off his face. But he still sensed it.

"Alright Rasputin out with it. What did he mean?"

"Just think about it." He grinned at his partner. "If I have to reorganize everything in section eight I might as well make it more efficient." Whistling he left his partner.

Napoleon walked towards his office, passing through the automatic door. It was as he was sitting down that he finally understood the meaning of his boss's comments.

"OH MY GOD!" Napoleon yelled horrified.

A warm chuckle in his mind was his only answer.

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