Behind Blue Eyes

by paulaH and GJ

This tale follows the events as laid down in the stories "Don't Pay The Ferryman", and "Save Me". It is part of the Full Circle Tales by paulaH and GJ.

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To bethe sad
Behind blue eyes

No one knows what it's like
To be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free

No one knows what it's like
To feel these feelings
Like I do
And I blame you

No one bites back as hard
On their anger
None of my pain and woe
Can show through

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free

When my fist clenches, crack it open
Before I use it and lose my cool
When I smile, tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool

If I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
If I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes


"Tell me about your childhood." Dr. Hermann Kopf, the new psychiatrist of U.N.C.L.E., flipped through the file in front of him. It was absurdly thin. He looked back up when no answer was forthcoming. "Your childhood?" he prompted, trying to keep his irritation in check with this most infuriating of patients.

"It's classified." The Russian accent barely tainted the man's British English.

Kopf scowled at him, his hold on his temper slipping slightly. "That's absurd. No one's childhood is classified."

Illya Kuryakin, the only Russian agent of U.N.C.L.E., New York, raised one elegant eyebrow. "Mine is," he said, his tone completely matter-of-fact.

"Mr. Kuryakin," Kopf growled through clenched teeth. "You have been ordered to cooperate with me."

"To a point, Mr. Kopf," Illya replied coolly, deliberately omitting the man's professional title. "You reached that point several sessions ago. I am merely coming here because I have also been ordered to show up for this. You have long ceased to ask questions pertinent to my time in Arabia." His time in Italy had not yet come up, and if he had anything to say about it, it never would. He was confused enough about his feelings about Antonio, not to mention those about Napoleon. He didn't need this quack making the waters of his life even murkier.

Kopf scowled. "That's only because you also won't talk about that, either."

"You don't ask questions I can answer."

"Like hell I don't!" he exploded. "You just keep hiding behind Waverly's edict that you don't have to answer anything you feel doesn't pertain. I have no idea if you're lying or telling the truth or what does or does not pertain."

"Perhaps you're in the wrong profession, in that case. You should go into something more suited to your personality." A tiny smile flitted across Illya's lips. "Proctology comes to mind."

Kopf had had enough for one morning. "Get out."

Illya's eyes widened and he scrambled out of his chair, retreating before Kopf could change his mind.

The psychiatrist sat staring at the door as it closed behind the blond Russian. Little bastard, anyway. He defied his doctor's authority at every turn. The agents were bad enough as it was, but Waverly coddled his Russian agent and let him get away with impertinence in a way no other Section Two could.

It was outrageous, but Kopf had not yet figured out a way to get around it. Every time he'd discussed the problem with the head of U.N.C.L.E., New York, the old man basically told him to mind his own business. The one time Kopf threatened Waverly with approaching the rest of Section One, the wily old bastard threatened him with his job. Kopf had no illusions as to who would win that particular little struggle. He'd be thrown out on his ear.

With a sigh that sounded more like a snarl, he reached for another file on the desk. This one he'd had to use some underhanded tricks to get. It contained the notes from other psychiatrists in U.N.C.L.E. employ who had interviewed Kuryakin. For some odd reason it wasn't kept with the usual medical and psychiatric records, but in a section reserved for past employees that were now either dead or no longer with the company. It could be the result of misfiling, but somehow he didn't think so.

He opened it up, adjusted his glasses, and started reading.

Illya gave a low warning growl to whoever went near him the rest of the day. Kopf was enough to turn his entire day, no make that week, sour. He still couldn't understand Waverly's tacit compliance with the man. It almost seemed as if someone in U.N.C.L.E. was out to get him.

A thought bloomed inside Illya's head. Someone in U.N.C.L.E. had to be behind this. Waverly had gone to a lot of trouble to garner his assignment to the organization and jeopardizing it by this constant psychiatric, for lack of a better word, counseling was not something the man was likely to do without careful consideration. If someone were out to topple the head of U.N.C.L.E. New York by discrediting Waverly, then how better to do it than my proving his prime example of cooperation in the Cold War to be an unstable maniac ready to explode. He'd have to look into that more.

A cold knot formed in the pit of his stomach. He wasn't an unstable maniac, but he wasn't what would be termed completely stable, either. He didn't need to be a psychiatrist to know that. No one, including Napoleon, understood just why he kept such a tight rein on his emotions. True, he did it to keep himself distant from everyone else. He also kept them pinned down because he feared what he could, and would, do if they ever got away from him. If Kopf ever figured it out, he would not only pull him from the field, he might actually slap him into a mental ward. Illya knew he wasn't crazy now, not really, but that would drive him to it.

If the realization of that prospect weren't enough to top the day, then the too smug face of a smiling Napoleon Solo entering the lab was it. "What do you want?" Illya snapped with a sharp bristled tone.

"Now is that any way to talk to your partner?" Napoleon asked as if rubbing the fact in. He was still reveling in the aftermath of the last affair in Naples. The lengths to which Illya had gone to to save his life had proved that the man cared about him more than he let on.

Illya curled his lip and looked down at the floor. "I'm busy. State your business."

"I was hoping you might consider dinner tonight," Napoleon murmured.

"No thank you," Illya replied holding in all the rage still swirling inside him as he maintained a cold dispassionate exterior. "I have to stay home and wash my rabbit."

"Your what?" Napoleon asked puzzled and then he recalled Illya's old tricks. "Uh.... Do you mean hair?"

Illya smiled falsely. "Yes. That's it."

"Your hair is fine," Napoleon said. "You showered after your workout in the gym this morning."

How did Napoleon know I went there this morning? "Are you following me now?" Illya replied, unsure how he felt about that.

"No," Napoleon replied casually. "I just happened to be going to my physiotherapy and saw you coming out."

Illya was reluctant, but it would be impolite not to inquire as to Napoleon's recovery. He tried to relax a little and asked, "And how is that going?"

Napoleon must have taken that as a sign of Illya's warming demeanor. "Pretty good. The knee is almost ready to take some light running. Why don't we get together for dinner and chat later?" he asked.

Inside Illya cringed. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"Why not?" Napoleon asked folding his arms in an offended gesture. "Don't tell me you're planning on getting it on again with that lab rat in the other room?" It was apparent that he knew about Illya's occasional liaison with Webber.

"You ARE following me!" Illya's temper flared and his voice got lower. A warning sign to those who knew him. "Where I go and with whom is none of your business. I don't care what you do with the secretarial pool. Nor do I want to. And if you want to keep your teeth, you will treat my personal life with the same disinterest."

Napoleon raised an eyebrow knowing Illya wouldn't dare attack him as an enemy. "You don't? You could surprise me by the way you complained about it often enough. What's wrong with you anyway? You've been this way ever since Italy." His eyes narrowed. "Now that I think of it, you were rather chummy with that Vicente fellow while we were there."

Something flashed through Illya's eyes. Napoleon could swear it looked like yearning. Desire. He laughed, stung at the idea there was yet another man Illya preferred to him. Not that it mattered. The Fallen Angel Affair was over and Illya would never see Vicente again. Especially after what had transpired there. "You don't really think that big pompous goof in Naples will want you after the way you deceived him, do you?"

"Get out of my lab," Illya growled balling his fist and quickly shoving it in his pocket to keep from doing something that would only get him disciplined and sent back to Kopf's couch. Antonio Vicente was neither pompous nor a goof. If one compared, Napoleon would fit that description far better than Antonio.

Realization dawned on Napoleon's face that he'd touched a nerve. One that might push Illya too far at the moment. He backed off and tried to look casual with his usual suave smile. "Call me later. We'll talk."

Illya watched him go. That smug attitude grated on him. It was just the thing to remind him of what was really going wrong around here now. If it wasn't bad enough suspecting Waverly of being up to something now Napoleon was back on his case.

Illya shifted his gaze over to his desk and then back to the door again. Waverly. It was best to concentrate on one thing at a time, and Napoleon could go find any old floozy for the night. Illya had to figure out where to start finding out Waverly's motives for this bizarre situation with Kopf.

Dr. Hermann Kopf read through the previous evaluations of other U.N.C.L.E. psychiatrists. He scoffed at the idea. Evaluations, indeed! More like short notes. About ten of them in all, yet the file was thinner than Twiggy.

Patient responses are given readily but do not contain much information. I believe a direct order from his superior is needed in order to complete a proper evaluation. —Dr. Joshua Reed

Mr. Kuryakin is not forthcoming with his answers. It is impossible for me to give a true accounting of his mental state without a complete and total evaluation. Please advise the agent of his need to cooperate or I shall have to pull him from the field until he is ready to do so. —Dr. Armand Martel

A comprehensive evaluation cannot be done at this time due to lack of information on the part of the patient. Mr. Kuryakin MUST be willing to subject himself to intense psychiatric testing in order to keep him field certified. —Dr. Hiro Hitache

On and on the documents ran from various doctors over the course of the ten years since Kuryakin joined the ranks of U.N.C.L.E.. Waverly's response to each and every request was exactly the same.

You must work with him within the parameters I and my Section One colleagues have put forth for this particular agent. His upbringing was unorthodox and you are quite likely to misinterpret many of his answers. Therefore we believe that as long as he does not show strain in the field, he shall remain field certified. If you wish to pull his certification, you must show proof of his inability to perform within the policies of this organization. —-A.Waverly

What kind of unorthodox upbringing? Was it because Kuryakin grew up during World War II in an area torn apart by the German army? Perhaps. In his opinion, that didn't excuse Kuryakin from a full psych evaluation. Far from it. It made it that much more important for the Russian agent to have one. Who knew what kind of scars his early experiences during that horrible time left on the man's psyche?

Kopf sighed. It was time he dashed off a note to the head of U.N.C.L.E., New York for himself. Perhaps he could be more persuading than his predecessors.

I understand Mr. Kuryakin was a child in war-torn Kiev and that he was a witness of the horrors at Baba Yar.

His file indicated at least that much.

I believe I can be of great service to Mr. Kuryakin in this respect. I, too, grew up in a country torn by war. In my case, I lived in the country which committed such atrocities as what happened in Kiev, and my family and I were ashamed to be German at that time. We were part of the underground, which helped smuggle German Jews out of the country.

Therefore I believe I have the background to understand Mr. Kuryakin's upbringing. As such, I implore you to order Mr. Kuryakin to cooperate with me fully and answer any and ALL questions I have so I may finally establish a complete psychiatric profile on him. I believe it will not only be in the best interest of U.N.C.L.E. to do so, but also in the best interest of Mr. Kuryakin. —Dr. Hermann Kopf

Although the desire to threaten to pull the agent from the field ate at him, he refrained from doing so. It hadn't worked for the other psychiatrists and he doubted it would work for him. On the contrary. He felt it would turn Mr. Waverly against him without the man even considering his plea. No, his message conveyed compassion for the young Russian's plight, not idle threats.

If he received the stock answer from Mr. Waverly, he would have to figure out a way to go at this from a different angle. The only thing he knew for certain at this point was that he would not let a curt dismissal from Waverly stop him.

What a stupid idea. Illya wondered what possessed him to believe a direct confrontation with Mr. Waverly about the ordered psyche evaluation would get him anything but a scathing dressing down. He refused to fidget as he sat in Waverly's outer office waiting to be called in for his appointment, so he sat completely still, back ramrod straight against the uncomfortable chair.

Yes, it was stupid, but it was too late to back out now. If he left without following through, Mr. Waverly would simply send for him to find out what he had wanted. He swallowed a sigh of frustration before it could escape. All he needed was for Lisa Rogers to notice his nervousness. If she did, the grapevine would work overtime as the gossips wagged their tongues about the reason for the Iceman's-their nickname for him, not his-visit to their fearless leader.

That would not do. Not at all. He worked hard to keep the speculations about him at a minimum. It didn't work completely, of course. There were always those who delighted in making up things about people when they lacked the facts. He could always dismiss false rumors, though. The ones based in reality bothered him. He perked up at the quiet beep from the console on Lisa's desk.

She flipped a switch and nodded. "Yes, sir." She glanced at him with a small smile. "He's ready for you, Illya."

"Thank you," Illya answered formally as he stood and headed for the office. The door whooshed open at his approach.

Waverly didn't look up as his agent seated himself in his usual chair. "You wished to see me?" he asked gruffly, shuffling papers on his desk.

Illya knew it was a ploy to let his agent know he was wasting valuable time and to get on with it. He got on with it. "Sir, I have just been to see Dr. Kopf yet again."

The older man glanced up sharply, focusing his intense gaze on his Russian agent for the first time since the young man had entered. "How did it go?"

Illya cleared his throat and shrugged. "He asked me questions I couldn't answer."

Waverly folded his hands on the desk giving Kuryakin his full attention. This was one meeting that could prove very difficult. "Such as?"

"About my childhood. About . . . things." Kuryakin straightened, resolution in his eyes. "Sir, when I first came here, we had agreed it would not be in the best interest of either myself or this organization for an in-depth psychiatric evaluation. Why have you changed your mind on this point?"

"My mind hasn't changed."

Confusion flashed in Kuryakin's blue depths, but was gone before it fully took hold. "Then why did you order continuing sessions with Dr. Kopf now? The Arabian fiasco is behind me, and nothing else has happened which might require psychiatric attention."

Waverly thought he heard a subtle note in his agent's voice that said that might not be true. "I'm not certain that is truly the case, Mr. Kuryakin," he said, softening his tone.

Kuryakin eyed him warily. "Sir?"

"Naples." One word. Such a simple one, really. Yet his normally cold, stone faced agent flinched at its intonation. Yes. Something definitely happened in Italy. Probably the something Waverly had been concerned about when assigning this particular agent to that mission.

"Italy was a success, sir."

Waverly nodded. "So it was. Unfortunately I am not the only one in Section One who knows of your previous history involving that city. It was at their insistence that I had to order this present battery of evaluations." He sighed, a slight concession to his beleaguered agent. "Do the best you can, Mr. Kuryakin. I have confidence in your ability to get through these sessions and convince Dr. Kopf of your sanity." Kuryakin would do as his boss ordered, even if it meant his own destruction. Waverly had just given him permission to do whatever necessary to get under the psychiatrist's radar, including subterfuge and out and out lying.

Kuryakin brightened considerably, reading between his superior's lines. As Waverly knew he would, of course. A brilliant mind in this one. He would twist Kopf around until the doctor wouldn't know which way was up. As a result, he would pass the test with flying colors.

The Russian agent left with lightness in his step that hadn't been there upon entering. Waverly sat and pondered the man and the situation. He had hesitated to send Kuryakin to Naples, but in the end he could not avoid it. The missions must come before personal feelings and before his agents' needs. Although he tried not to harbor personal interest or to have favorites, sometimes it just proved impossible.

As with this man. Every time he looked at Illya Kuryakin, he thought of the young man's background and saw the embodiment of the very reason he and the others now known as Section One had formed this organization. To fight against those who would take the innocence of the Kuryakins of the world and manipulate and mold them into the monster this particular agent sometimes came close to being.

He knew one reason Illya Kuryakin wasn't that monster was because of the one man whose foresight sent the young Russian to the U.N.C.L.E. in the first place. Alexei Pavlovich Andreov. The then Major in the KGB-now a General-took Kuryakin under his wing and protected him as best he could when Colonel Sarkov-now Major, in a twist of irony-inducted the boy into an experimental program. Sarkov's theory was that if he could get hold of a child of high intelligence and even higher survival instincts, subject him to intense, specialized schooling and training, he could mold the child into the perfect killing machine. Bloodthirsty, ruthless, with no remorse or conscience to keep him from sleeping at night.

A theory not too far off the mark, at that. Waverly was convinced only the bond Andreov had forged with the boy coupled with the strong influence he wielded had kept that particular experiment from successful fruition. Illya Kuryakin was as bloodthirsty and ruthless as they came under the right circumstances. He did have a conscience, though. A very strong one. Oh, he slept well enough at night when the blood of the day had merit. He could kill anyone without blinking an eye if it meant others would be saved from the same ravages and horrors he'd experienced in his childhood.

Even if a resulting death had no real merit, the Russian could do it and walk away. He could kill a child if ordered to do so. Without hesitation. Without fear. Without emotion of any kind.

Then the young man would go home and be plagued with nightmares for weeks until he could deal with the guilt and lock it away wherever he put such things within himself.

That was the main reason Waverly feared a psychological exam on this agent. Kuryakin could probably handle a psychiatrist with relative ease, telling the man, or woman, what he wanted to hear. Waverly had no doubt the Russian could manipulate any doctor into believing he was perfectly sane.

It was a lie, though, and both he and his agent knew it. Kuryakin wasn't insane. Far from it. He just wasn't quite. . . stable. As long as he could keep his horrors buried, though, Waverly believed the young man could carry on without real problems indefinitely. An in-depth psych exam might stir up old ghosts and release them from their prison. If that happened, Waverly had no idea how Kuryakin would react. He did know the explosion-and subsequent implosion of his agent-could have dire repercussions not only for himself and U.N.C.L.E., but also for the world. Kuryakin knew too much and was far too skilled not to be able to wreak whatever havoc he may desire.

He let out a long-suffering sigh before angrily reaching for a pipe, filling it, and lighting up. Kuryakin would either get around Kopf or he would become a ticking time bomb. If that happened, Waverly's only choice-no matter how repulsive the idea-would be to make sure rather than exploding, Kuryakin would implode.

He hated his job sometimes and if this scenario came around, it would be one of those times. Difficult as it was, though, he would have to set his personal feelings aside and ensure the only one destroyed would be Kuryakin. Unfortunate as it would be, the needs of the one sometimes had to be sacrificed in order to protect the needs of the many.

At seven p.m. in the gentleman's club frequently visited by Dr. Hermann Kopf, the good doctor sat sipping a cocktail and chatting with a friend and colleague of his.

"I'm telling you this case is driving me mad," he said. laughing at the term coming from a psychiatrist's mouth. "Every time I get the least bit close to touching on the root of this patient's psyche. either the time is up, he totally shuts down. or he evades the issue. What I need is an in-depth study to get a real evaluation."

"That's easy," his friend said. "Commit him for a few days. Twenty-four hours observation. If he's a danger to himself or others, then you have to for the public safety."

Kopf shook his head. "I'd like to. I'd really like to, but my hands are tied on this case. I tried increasing his appointments, hoping I could wear him down that way, but it's been useless."

"Wear him down?" the man replied. "You'd get farther by gaining his trust than wearing him down."

Again Kopf shook his head. "That has been impossible. The man is paranoid beyond belief."

The man looked puzzled. "Just what can you tell me about this case?" he asked as one professional to another.

Kopf sighed and put down his drink. He sat back in the lounge chair and made sure they were speaking in private. He lowered his voice and said, "This patient has been raped several times over a long period of time. As a youth he was orphaned during the war, but I have been told almost nothing of the time before he came to the states. I suspect there is a lot of abuse that went on during those years. He represses all emotion, but I can see it there seething beneath the surface. With his access to weapons and placement in dangerous situations, I'm afraid that the public in general is in great danger around him."

"That's all the more reason to have him committed for observation," the man replied. "It's your duty as a doctor, Hermann. We have given our oath to help humanity even if it means doing something against a patient's will if it's in his best interest."

Kopf shook his head. "It's not that simple."

Gustav put a hand on Kopf's sleeve and said, "Then tell me more. I know how hard police officers can be to deal with."

The U.N.C.L.E. shrink almost opened his mouth to deny the police officer statement but rethought it before giving away any secrets. A police officer was close enough to the truth without breaking any rules of secrecy. "This one is a tough nut to crack. Unless I can prove him unfit, my hands are tied."

"You have to get around that if you believe it's in the public's best interests. I'm telling you, it's your duty as a licensed practitioner." He sat back and took a drink of his cocktail. "I would. I don't care who was pressuring me. I took an oath and so did you."

Kopf took in a deep breath and let it out slowly as he digested the opinion of his colleague. The man was right. Waverly be damned. U.N.C.L.E. be damned. He had a duty to fulfill and a higher honor to uphold.

Illya peered through the appropriately named spy hole in his door. The misshapen image of Kopf stared back at him. Illya scowled. What did the little weasel want now? He takes up enough of my time at Headquarters. Why should I let him invade me here?

He considered not answering, letting the man think his reluctant patient was out painting the town red, white, and blue. Of course, then he'd probably have to answer to Waverly in the morning about where he was tonight rather than at home awaiting the psychiatrist's visit. He could lie to everyone, Kopf included, and quite convincingly. Unfortunately, he had a personality flaw that prevented him from lying to two people: Waverly and Napoleon.

His scowl deepened. He'd have to let him in. Illya cracked the door. "May I help you?" His polite tone belied the maliciousness glinting out of the small bit of blue that showed through the slit.

Thin lips pursed, Kopf squinted at the crack in the door in search of the owner of the voice. He blinked when he found the hostile slash of blue staring back at him. "Oh, um, Mr. Kuryakin. I'm glad to find you at home."

Illya allowed himself a tiny smug smile at the man's stammer. "Is that all you wanted?"

"Er, no." The psychiatrist rocked slightly on his feet, hands inside the pockets of his brown sweater. With the slight hump he sported, the man looked a little bit like a camel in it. "Actually, I need to talk to you. May I come in?"

What Illya supposed was meant to be an open inviting expression settled on the round face. A fist in the center would close it back up again. Illya's fingers tingled with the thought, but he held back the impulse. He was good at that. He had lots of practice.

"Please," Kopf wheedled. "I just need five minutes of your time."

As if I had a choice, Illya reluctantly admitted. He let the door drop open as he turned around. He might have to allow the man into his home, but he didn't have to be gracious about it. Rudeness might make Kopf uncomfortable enough to leave just as quickly as he came.

Illya heard the snick of the door behind him as he went to plop on the couch. "Just what is it you want?" The last word was barely out of his mouth when he registered Kopf's presence right behind him instead of working his way around to the front of the couch. Before he could react, he felt the prick of a needle and the quick burn of liquid flowing into the puncture now in the side of his neck.

Illya yanked away feeling the sharp pain of the needle snapping and leaving a part of itself buried in his neck. He thought he leapt off the couch, but it seemed more like moving through a vat of molasses. The room swam around him. He tried to throw a vile Russian invective at Kopf, but his thick tongue stumbled over the words.

Kopf's lips moved. "I'm really very sorry it had to be like this," he said, the words slurring like a 78 record played at slow speed. Illya heard no more as his eyes rolled up into his head and he pitched forward.

Kopf attempted to catch him, but he did not maintain the same healthy, strong body as the enforcement agent. What he ended up doing was merely cushioning Kuryakin's fall with his own soft body. He fell backwards, his breath whooping out of him when he hit, the unconscious Kuryakin heavy on his chest.

He wheezed as he struggled out from underneath the blond man and to his feet. "You're heavier than you look," he panted accusingly at the man on the floor. As expected, Kuryakin didn't answer.

"He has training that we will have to get around. I know the procedure, though. After all, I help set it up."

Twelve-year-old Illya lay on the cold metal table. He kept very still and breathed evenly so the Lubyanka psychiatrists would think him still asleep. No point in moving, anyway. They had him strapped down so tightly he could barely twitch his fingers.

"He'll wake soon."

Illya knew that voice. Hated that voice and the man behind it. The psychiatrist that headed the KGB behavioral modification department at Lubyanka. The man whose job it was to break the boy they'd trained so intensely for the last two years. Probably talking to Sarkov, the KGB bastard that oversaw that training. The man who saw him not as a boy, but as an experiment. A project that would help launch him into higher ranks of the KGB.

Illya hated him completely. Hated them all.

Except Andreov. Uncle Alexei when no one else was around and there was no training involved. He liked Alexei. He loved Alexei's sister, Anna, and her husband Sergei. He'd lived with them for the year between the time Andreov found him trying to survive on the streets of Kiev and when Sarkov took him away to become his Experiment.

Sarkov contended he could make the perfect agent if he could get hold of a child old enough to understand the training, but young enough to still be pliable enough to mold to Sarkov's specifications.

He supposed it worked. To a point. What Sarkov didn't understand was that a boy who'd survived on his own on the streets of war torn Kiev wasn't terribly pliable. Illya suppressed a wolfish grin. Not that Sarkov knew that. Illya was a very good actor.

A sigh from the psychiatrist. "Hmm. He should be coming around by now. I thought this one had a better constitution than this." Another sigh. "Let's go get some coffee. Maybe he'll be awake when we get back."

Something nagged at the back of Illya's mind as he listened to the men exit the room. He knew the voice, yes. It was a psychiatrist. But the accent wasn't right. It didn't sound Soviet. Suddenly he was aware he wasn't as awake as he'd originally thought. He fought to bring himself back to full consciousness.

Illya cracked his eyes to make sure he was alone before opening them wide. The dream . . . memory . . . faded into the background as he became fully aware of his surroundings. He now realized this was not the Lubyanka and that he was no longer that boy strapped to a gurney. No. Now he was an adult man strapped to a different gurney.

Disjointed memory stammered in his mind. Kopf! Injected something. Why? Was he THRUSH? A traitor?

Illya looked around for clues as to where he was. Not the medical section. He knew that place intimately and this wasn't it. Not a THRUSH cell, although he supposed it could be one of their labs. No instruments of torture in evidence. That made it a maybe, maybe not.

The place smelled of antiseptic and disinfected sickness. THRUSH labs usually had the scent of new and old spilled blood, chemicals, and fear-that coppery tang, an unmistakable odor. That turned the possibility of this being a THRUSH lab into a probably not.

A quiet "ding" sounded from an intercom, followed by an announcement requesting Doctor Cline in OR One. A hospital. What in the world was he doing in a hospital? He was healed from the injuries of his last mission. The physical ones, at any rate. His mind shied away from any other thoughts of his mission in Naples but he forced it back. Was that it? Did Waverly surmise his agent's emotional entanglements that resulted from the resurrection of the Angelo persona and order Kopf to do something about it? To terminate Angelo once and for all?

He shivered at the idea. In order to do that, Kopf would have to do some serious toying with Illya's mind, and Illya Kuryakin hated such things. If he wanted to be brutally honest with himself, he'd realize hate was too mild a word. Terror fit much better. Terrified at the thought of a psychiatrist digging into his psyche.

No wonder he'd flashed back to the trauma of those days-weeks—he was never sure-spent in Lubyanka. Those psychiatrists had done unspeakable things to the twelve-year-old boy.

He shivered as the memories of that time strained to break free of the confines of his tightly controlled emotional prison. He clamped down tighter, desperately trying to hold them back. To let them free courted disaster.

Too busy trying to hold himself together, he didn't hear Kopf's return until too late.

"Good!" Kopf crowed in delight. "You're awake." Kuryakin's eyes popped open and Kopf took a step back at the wild look in them. He mentally shook himself. An after effect of the drug. Poor man. Kopf hated his need to resort to these tactics, but he'd really had no choice. Of course, once this was all over, he would probably lose his job, but his conscience simply couldn't look the other way when a man with the skills and responsibilities of Illya Kuryakin, number two of Section 2 of the U.N.C.L.E. might be unstable. It was a danger not only to the members of society but also to Kuryakin himself.

He would try to make this as easy as possible for Kuryakin, though. He owed the man that much. He smiled and reached out to tenderly brush the sweaty blond hair away from his patient's face. At that moment, the eyes instantly transformed from those of a frightened, uncertain innocent to those of a cold-blooded killer.

"Don't touch me."

Kuryakin's tone blew over Kopf like an icy wind. He snatched his hand away from Kuryakin's face, an automatic response to an implied threat.

The doctor steadied himself and straightened his jacket as if to show who was superior here. He cleared his throat. "For the moment I will honor that wish," he said in a slightly shaky tone. "As our sessions progress, that may need to change."

"What sessions?" Kuryakin growled not flinching an inch on the outside although his stomach quivered with anxiety at what lay ahead. "When Waverly learns of this, you will be dismissed from your job and U.N.C.L.E. if not facing legal charges as well."

Kopf shrugged "Even if that were the case, I would still do this because my conscience would be clear, and that is of utmost importance when it comes to the greater good of public safety."

"You're mad," Kuryakin hissed. "Where am I?" he demanded to know.

Kopf looked around at the room and shook his head. "A hospital, of course. In fact, it is a private hospital run by a colleague of mine. There is no sense trying to talk your way out of here with the staff. They've already been informed of your delusions of being a spy and law enforcement agent. And if you talk to the other patients at all, you'll find out that they have a George Washington here as well as two Elvises. Saturday night entertainment in the patients' lounge can be quite good."

If the whole thing hadn't been so outrageous, Kuryakin would have laughed at the preposterousness of it all. "You're mad," he repeated incredulously.

Kopf laughed. "No but I believe you possibly could be. I aim to see that you are cured and returned to the world a safer and more stable person."

Napoleon wasn't concerned to not see Illya first thing in the morning. Nor was he concerned that he hadn't seen the moody Russian by lunchtime as he worked in his office that morning. He did want to talk to Illya though and wanted to make sure the man didn't leave the building without meeting up with him, so as late afternoon approached Napoleon wandered down to the labs.

Unlike his usual charming self, Napoleon gave Frank a slight sneer as he passed on his way toward Illya's private office where the man was probably sequestered trying to avoid the constant pestering of his partner.

"Illya?" he called out after rapping lightly on the door without answer.

"He's not in," Frank offered as he walked over. "Is there something I can help you with, Mr. Solo?"

Running his gaze down and then up Frank's body as he neared, he then gave him a dismissive glance. "No. I was just looking for Illya. Did he leave early today?"

Frank frowned and shook his head. "No. Never came in as far as I know. I thought he was in section one today but he didn't come down for the daily briefing. Maybe he's on assignment."

No he's not. I'd know since I'm Number One of Section One, he wanted to retort but didn't feel like giving Frank the satisfaction of including him as an equal. Whatever Illya saw in the man, he couldn't understand.

"Never mind," Napoleon replied. "I'll talk to him later."

As Napoleon walked through the corridors toward his office again, he mulled over where Illya could possibly be. The gymnasium was one likely place. A learned man, Napoleon at once pictured the origins of the word, Greek—to exercise naked, and that brought a pretty picture of Illya's tightly muscled backside to Napoleon's mind. As he was to find out moments later when he stopped by, Illya was not there nor had he been all day.

Napoleon spent about half an hour looking around the building trying not to look as if he were searching for his partner. He chatted with several people slipping the question -oh have you seen Illya by any chance- in each conversation. With each negative response he was getting more and more concerned. In the end there was nowhere to go but Waverly's office. He couldn't imagine the old man sending Illya out on a solo mission right now but it wasn't out of the question.

Ultimately it came down to standing outside the head man's office, contemplating what to say. Napoleon stood there puzzled until Lisa looked up from her desk.

"Napoleon? Did you want to see Mr. Waverly or do you just want to stand there staring at the door?"

He moved toward her turning on his charm without even thinking twice about it. "Perhaps I won't need to if you can help me," he cooed.

The reaction was typical and almost instantaneous. "That depends on what you have in mind?" she said automatically slumping forward in her seat exposing her ample cleavage his direction.

Moving in closer Napoleon revved up the sex appeal. "Information, that's all. Just a little bit of information."

Batting her eyelashes she licked her lips with alluring intentions. "That depends on what kind of information."

"Nothing too top secret I'm sure," he teased.

"So what is it you want to know?" she asked.

"Miss Rogers," Waverly's strong tone echoed in his words. "Would you please save that kind of display for your bedroom? Send Mr. Solo in when he has a moment if you would."

She sat up straight and closed the top button of her blouse out of modesty. "Yes sir." She looked up at Solo with an admonishing expression. Don't keep him waiting or we'll both be in trouble.

Solo blew her a discreet kiss before getting up to follow Waverly into the office.

"If you're quite through contaminating my secretary with your flirtatious drivel," Waverly began, "I have something to discuss with you. Please take a seat."

Napoleon sat down in his usual chair although it felt strange to be there without Illya. "If this is a mission sir, perhaps we should wait for Illya."

"He's not here," Waverly stated. "I'll be sending you out with Burke on this one. Just a short mission to meet with a potential source of THRUSH information."

"Oh? And where is Mr. Kuryakin?" he asked as if trying to be casual about it.

"Vacation. He sent in a letter of request yesterday and it was granted."

Illya? A vacation? That's not like him at all. Solo kept his misgivings to himself. "Where's he going?"

"It was just a request and Dr. Kopf supported the application. I signed and returned it. Now if we may continue with the briefing?"

Solo nodded and gave him a weak smile of acceptance although his mind was racing to explore more of this new development.

The nurse hesitated. "But Dr Kopf, this drug hasn't been approved for use on patients yet."

"I'm well aware of that, Nurse Robins. This is a special case, though, and I want it administered every six hours." Kopf knew that the usual drugs would be useless on Kuryakin. It was U.N.C.L.E.'s practice to administer a blocker regiment of drugs to counteract most common psychotropic drugs used in interrogations. This was new and almost ready for human trials to treat the schizophrenics, and Kopf thought he'd have a better chance with Kuryakin's therapy by using them.

"Yes, Doctor," she said dubiously. She took the vial and syringe out of Kopf's hand and headed for the patient's room. She stood outside for a moment composing herself. No good letting the patient see how uncertain she felt about his treatment. A deep breath. A smile plastered onto her face. A push on the door and a hearty, "Good morning, Mr. Curry!"

"Kuryakin," the patient growled.

The smile faltered slightly. "Pardon?"

"My name is Kuryakin. Illya Kuryakin. If the good doctor insists on kidnapping me, he could at least get my name correct."

Nurse Nanci Robins felt a renewed pang of uncertainty and then relaxed as she remembered this man was suffering from the delusion that he was a Russian spy. At least he'd come up with a Russian sounding name. "If you prefer to be called Mr. Kuryakin, I'll do so. For now. Eventually, though, you'll have to come to terms with your real name and real circumstances."

Illya scowled. "That is my real name." He gave an exaggerated scan of the room. "And unfortunately these are my real circumstances. That madman Kopf warned me he'd told the staff that is the reason I'm here. I assure you, however, Miss . . ." He read her nametag. "Robins. That is not the case. I really am an agent for an international agency called the U.N.C.L.E. I can give you a phone number to call and verify that I am not the least bit delusional."

She smiled. "I'll do that. What is the number?"

The patient's eyes widened in surprise at her willingness to believe him. He quickly rattled off the phone number.

Nanci patted his hand. "I'll call them as soon as I leave here." Of course, she had no intention of doing so. Experience taught her these people often forgot about the little matter of verification right after they demanded it.

She felt a little better about the drug treatment the doctor prescribed now. This man was even more delusional than the Elvis, she thought. At least the Elvis wannabe answered to his real name a majority of the time and seemed to know on a certain level he was lying to himself. This man obviously had immersed himself into his lie.

She stuck the needle into the vial and prepared the shot.

The man flinched away from her. "What are you doing? Please call my employers before you fill me with Kopf's vile potions."

"Don't worry," she cooed, tapping the syringe and depressed it enough to expel any air trapped inside. "This is just to help you relax. You'll sleep awhile and when you wake up, I'll have already made the call."

"I don't suppose I have a choice in the matter," he mumbled. He clenched his jaw but remained completely still as she plunged the compound into his vein.

Robins stayed with him until the drug took effect to make sure he had no bad reactions. While she did so, she studied his features. He was a good-looking man, no doubt about it. Blue eyes that were bright with awareness but rapidly dulling due to the drugs in his system. She wondered what really lurked behind those blue eyes. Fine facial features. Ethereal. The face of an angel but with a hardness that suggested he was perhaps one of the fallen ones instead of God's chosen. Blond hair that just cried out to be touched.

Without thinking she reached out and did so. Just to give him comfort, she told herself. It was as soft and silky as it appeared. At least the parts not drenched with sweat. He was scared. Poor thing. "It's all right, Mr. Curry. This is an excellent hospital. We have a very good recovery rate. I'm sure you'll be well soon and this will all just seem like a bad dream."

"Don't. . .need. . .anymore. . .bad. . .dreams," he slurred, head lolling to one side. His lovely eyes fluttered in an attempt to remain focused on her face.

"Don't fight it, darling," she said soothingly. "It won't be painful. I promise."

Little did she know just how wrong she was in her assessment.

Burke frowned as he drove toward Maine. "You aren't very talkative."

Napoleon gave a slight grunt for a reply.

"That's what I mean," Burke responded. "Penny for your thoughts."

Napoleon looked at him like he was nuts. "Just keep your eyes on the road."

"They are, but there's nothing wrong with a little conversation. You haven't said two words since we started out. Something bothering you?"

"No. What makes you think that?" Napoleon asked.

"You were never this quiet when we were first paired up when I first joined U.N.C.L.E."

Napoleon took in and slowly let out a long deep breath. "I was your training agent back then."

"We would have made a great team if they kept us together," Burke surmised aloud.

"Illya is my partner. I like it that way," Napoleon responded in no uncertain terms.

Burke was quiet for awhile. He wondered if there was any way he could break through that seemingly devoted attachment that Solo for some reason had for that scrawny Russian. "Well, a change is as good as a rest, they say."

"What do you mean by that?" Napoleon asked wondering if Burke was up to something.

"Nothing," he said with a smile and a shrug. "I guess Kuryakin taking a holiday is kind of like giving you a holiday, too." He glanced at Napoleon's expression and decided to add, "Uh...sort of... right?"

Napoleon turned toward the window and made a disapproving face. "If you value your chance of having children someday, you'll watch what you say from now on."

Illya tried working his wrists free with slow determination. That was until the medication began to dull his senses and interfere with his normal coordination. He was finding the task impossible for as long as he could concentrate on it.

Finally his head began to swim, and the thoughts that formed were bizarre and confusing. He felt so relaxed as if he was floating on a cloud. It was an unnatural feeling for him, but for some reason he didn't really care.

Kopf sat back in the leather chair and gazed out the window of the office at the secure grounds of the hospital. He felt fortunate in having such a close associate with unquestioning access to the place. Now all he had to do was get his patient talking so that he could help the man.

Kopf turned around and began to write notes in the secret chart he created for Kuryakin. He began with the date and then a brief introduction.

Patient: Ian Curry—personal details to follow

Mr. Curry exhibits signs of extreme paranoia and has the potential to be extremely violent. His childhood, family, parents, schooling, etc. are all closely guarded secrets; possibly the source of the paranoia and even his threatening behavior. Many co-workers express fear in his presence.

(He refrained from naming himself among those fearful of Kuryakin)

The simplest of questions bring threats and it seems the man is on the verge of breaking down totally. This may stem from recent events in his life such as being the victim of kidnapping, slavery, and homosexual rape. Repeated homosexual rape. The man refuses to discuss his feeling on these incidences with more than blas comments. Any in-depth probing beyond that is met with stonewalling tactics.

Treatment of this patient will consist of analysis with the aid of medication to relax his mind and body with the eventual goal of gaining his confidence and exploring the background sufficiently to make him face the events in his life and deal with them rather than suppress the anger until the only outcome is to explode in violent uncontrolled rages.

MDMA—Methylenedioxymethamphetamine—has developed a reputation for enhancing communication, reducing psychological defenses, and increasing the capacity for introspection. It would normally be my first choice of treatment but the patient would be unwilling to voluntarily take the medication. Although anal insertion is possible with this drug, it would also be difficult to administer it to the patient. I am not convinced this medication would be strong enough to effectively limit the barriers set up in the patient's mind either.

The advantage of continuing the treatment of this patient here at the hospital is that in the controlled environment, he can be safely contained and treated with HMDMA, a further refined derivative of the above mentioned Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It is stronger and easier to administer since it can be used in a liquid injectable state. Unlike the relatively large difference between effective dosage and lethal overdose of MDMA the HMDMA has a narrower margin for error. Although not approved for testing yet, I feel this merits the usage due to the urgency of this case.

Kopf put down his pen and read over his entry before slipping the papers into the file folder and tucking them into a drawer in the desk. He turned the little key in the lock and then tucked it into his vest pocket for safe keeping.

"Did you administer the shot?" Kopf asked the nurse upon his arrival to Illya's private room.

"Yes, sir," Robins answered. Her brow knitted in puzzlement. "He's been mumbling."

"Oh? What has he said?" The portly psychiatrist loosened his tie and took off his expensive Italian tailored jacket in preparation for the coming session. He expected it to be a long one and wanted to be comfortable.

Nurse Robins blew out a breath in frustration. "I really don't know. He's not speaking English. Is his psychosis so ingrained in him he actually thinks in Russian?"

Kopf cleared his throat. "It is possible." He had thought of every problem that might arise during this little charade and devised plausible reasons for all of them. Except this one. He never thought about how Kuryakin, a Russian, might think in Russian and might respond to an interrogation in that language. At least while under the influence of drugs. Luckily, Kopf understood Russian and wouldn't need a translator.

Translator! Good idea! "He, uh, is a translator for the UN," he said, mind working rapidly. "He translates for the Russian contingency. I believe that's why he's latched onto the Russian spy scenario. It started as paranoia about the Russians for which he translated being spies, then he segued into being a spy himself. Very interesting case."

"Oh, my!" Robins exclaimed. "Well, that makes sense."

Kopf smiled in relief, glad she accepted his flimsy explanation.

Kopf nodded. "Yes. Well, I'd like to start my first session. You may leave now. I'll call you if I need you."

She glanced at him, startled. "Oh. Yes. Of course." She left the room softly closing the door behind her.

Kopf turned to Kuryakin and rubbed his hands together. "Let's get this started, shall we?" He pulled his chair next to the head of the bed and sat down where his patient could see him. "Hello, Illya," he said in his friendliest tone.

Kuryakin blinked at him owlishly as his brain chugged sluggishly in an attempt to place the face. "You work for U.N.C.L.E. Doctor...Doctor Schiesskopf?"

Kopf's lips tightened at being called Doctor Shithead. Even under the influence of powerful drugs, the little bastard could get his goat. Kopf forced himself to remain calm and keep the smile on his face. "Kopf," he corrected with a false joviality.

Illya stared at him for a long moment. "Are you sure it's not Schiesskopf?"

Kopf kept his lips stretched in a parody of a smile. "Quite sure."

"Oh. Pity." Illya's gaze never quite focused as he looked around.

The drug didn't seem to be doing what it was supposed to. Kopf looked at his watch. Maybe he hadn't waited long enough for it to kick in or perhaps the dosage wasn't quite high enough. "Why don't you rest for now? I'll be back shortly."

"I look forward to it," Illya said in a dry tone that suggested he really felt otherwise.

Disappointed, Kopf went to find the nurse. Since Kuryakin so often got drugged, his resistance to them was probably quite high. The dosage would need to be upped in order to overcome that resistance. "Did you give Mr. Kurya...Curry the dosage I requested?"

Nurse Robins blinked. "Of course, sir," she said indignantly.

"I think we need to up it a bit." He wrote a notation on "Curry's" chart. "Please administer this right now."

She took the chart from him and glanced at it. "Are you sure?"

He glared at her. "Are you questioning my orders?"

She blushed. "Well, no sir, not exactly. This just seems like a lot, especially since it's a relatively experimental drug."

"Mr. Curry has a high resistance to drugs. I was hoping to circumvent that with the lower dosage, but apparently it's not going to work. Rest assured I wouldn't put my patient in jeopardy. Administer the drug and then monitor him closely until I return." He put a paternal hand on her shoulder even though what he really wanted to do was to wrap it around her interfering neck.

"Yes, sir," she relented, her eyes still reflecting her concern. Even so, she was a professional and she went to administer the shot.

Thirty minutes later Kopf entered Kuryakin's room once more. "How are you feeling at the moment?" Kopf asked.

Illya licked his lips. "Good." He smiled at the man standing over him. He wasn't quite sure why he hated this man. He knew there were reasons, but right now they just didn't seem to be important. "Relaxed." He looked around. "Where exactly am I?"

"In a psychiatric hospital U.N.C.L.E. uses." Kopf knew he would have to keep Kuryakin believing this was an U.N.C.L.E. sanctioned situation or even with the man drugged to the gills Kopf didn't think he would talk to him. "Waverly ordered you to be brought here and for me to treat you."

The added authority of Waverly should ensure cooperation. The drug was not a truth serum so he knew he couldn't treat Kuryakin as though he were under the influence of one. What he hoped for it to do was to force Illya to a level of cooperation he wouldn't normally have. The combination of the drug and Waverly's authority should do the trick.

Kopf smiled. This was going to work out just splendidly. "Do you mind if we have a little talk?"

"Mr. Waverly asked for me to do this?"

"He did, indeed."

"Then I guess I don't mind," Illya said as he yawned and attempted to stretch. The restraints stopped him and he frowned. "Are these really necessary? Did I try to hurt someone?" He blinked. "The last thing I remember was letting you into my apartment. His eyes widened. "Did I try to hurt you? I can't seem to remember much after that."

Kopf stared at Kuryakin's stricken face, amazed at the difference in the man's attitude. He had no doubt that without the influence of the drug, the Russian would be asking the question with hope in his eyes, not concern. "As a matter of fact, you did try to choke me," he lied. Couldn't tell him the truth. That wouldn't go far in establishing his patient's trust.

"Oh. I'm terribly sorry," Illya said apologetically. "I hope I didn't cause permanent damage?"

"Not at all." Kopf patted his arm, pleased to see Kuryakin neither flinched nor recoiled at the touch. This was going well already. Excitement made his heart flutter. This was going to work! "If you promise not to try anything again, I'll unfasten the restraints." He didn't think he would need them anymore. Kuryakin appeared docile enough.

"I promise."

Kopf kept a close eye on his patient as he unfastened the padded cuffs. Kuryakin rubbed his wrists but didn't try anything otherwise. Kopf sat back down convinced he would have no trouble from the man as long as he was under the influence of the drug. "Let's get this started, shall we?" He clicked on a tape recorder and picked up his notebook. "Tell me about your childhood."

Burke was growing restless, and the proof of that was how he kept getting up and pacing in front of the window. "Where is he?" the inexperienced agent asked.

Napoleon tried concentrating on a game of solitaire to pass the time. Calmly, as he turned over another card, he replied without looking up. "I know as much as you. Our orders were to check into the Boston Bayshore Inn and wait for them to contact us." It was difficult to do even as he spoke the words. He couldn't wait for this assignment to be over so he could go see why Illya suddenly would do the unthinkable and take a holiday. It was so totally out of character for the Russian.

Burke sighed and then frowned. "So you're just going to sit there and play cards by yourself."

Napoleon glanced up at the man and raised an eyebrow. "Well, you're over there pacing like an expectant father. I can't very well play cards with you while you're doing that."

"They could have sent the last woman in the secretarial pool for this instead of wasting the time of U.N.C.L.E.'s best agents."

Napoleon was growing tired of Burke's self admiration. Already on edge from his own nagging worry about Illya, he snapped back, "I think you'll have to have a few more affairs under your belt before you can claim that distinction."

Burke cocked his head at Napoleon. "Well, I'm not likely to get it sitting in this dump waiting for a no show contact."

"If you had any sense, you'd realize just how important times like this can be." Napoleon wished he could enjoy it. Relax. Be happy with the mundane nature of the situation but it just wasn't happening.

"You must be getting past your prime if you think this is fun, Napoleon," Burke stupidly stated.

The tension already built up inside of him, Napoleon stood up and walked over to Burke with deliberate intent in his eyes. "I've had just about enough of you. It's time you learned what real agent work is all about."

Burke shook in his boots at Napoleon's approach. It was then he learned just what made Solo so feared by THRUSH agents and baddies in general.

Napoleon didn't leave a mark. There were no witnesses. Not a sound escaped that attracted attention.

The only evidence that anything unusual had occurred was the fact Burke had to change his pants and would need to do laundry. He couldn't possibly face anyone and tell them he'd shit himself out of pure fear. The only thing more humiliating than that was the realization he'd just pissed off the one agent he so badly wanted to be working with. It left him with a lot to think about.

Napoleon left the room to have a cigarette outside on the walkway. Drawing in a long puff of smoke, he tried to calm down. It upset him to have lost his temper like that. Especially since it was one of their own people. Why did Illya have to do this to him? Why did his life seem to be falling apart just when he thought he had it made?

"Push him too far and he'll let you know," Mark said with a grin to April Dancer. Slade and Agent Dancer were back from a month long assignment in France.

"Napoleon is much too sweet for that kind of thing," she replied. "You'd have to really irritate him to get him that mad."

"I'm telling you, if Waverly doesn't put Illya and Napoleon back together again so they can straighten out what's going on between them, something or someone is going to blow." He lowered his voice. "Napoleon doesn't want another partner. He wants Illya back permanently."

She shook her head. "I've talked to Illya, and he likes working in the lab. He'd like to be in the field, but every time someone mentions Napoleon he gets that look in his eye like he'd rather be in the lab than anywhere near him."

"This argument is really pointless anyway. Maybe Waverly has already put them back together."

April spotted her bag on the luggage conveyor. She dragged it from the moving belt. "They've been together longer than any other agents have before. I think he'll separate them just because of that."

Mark shrugged. He knew from the backup position he held in Naples that there was more to this whole situation than she understood. "Well, it's not for us to decide. The old man knows what he's doing."

"It's been too long," April said. "I think this separation is eroding both their talents. Maybe it's too late already."

Mark grabbed his bag and hauled it off the conveyor. "Let's get a cab and get out of here. I'm tired and just want to get home."

April sighed. "Yeah. Me too," she agreed and then they headed outside.

"My childhood?" Illya frowned. "I don't really want to talk about that. Let's talk about something else. Like love." The frown deepened. "Let's not talk about that, either."

Kopf heart leaped. Illya Kuryakin even mentioning love? This was going to work fine. He kept his enthusiasm in check. Didn't want to make Kuryakin clam up again. "Are you in love?" It must be uppermost on the Russian's mind in order for it to be the first thing he mentioned.

"I . . ." Illya's brow furrowed. "What's it like?"

Kopf blinked in surprise. "Excuse me?"

"What's it like?"



"You don't know what it's like to be in love?" Kopf was astonished. Yes, okay, the man didn't exhibit many emotions, but he was human. Surely he'd been in love at least once in his life.

Kuryakin's laugh held a note of sadness. "I wouldn't know, now would I?"

"Well, you know what it is like for someone to love you. Your mother and father and the like."

The frown returned, marring the man's handsome features. "I suppose it would depend on whether my mother and father disappeared because they had no choice or if they did because they didn't want us."

Kopf scribbled into his notebook furiously. He had found the key to getting Kuryakin to talk about his childhood. Talk around it and lead him carefully into the past before he realized that he was telling Kopf all about it. "What do you think?"

Kuryakin didn't respond immediately. Finally, though, he sighed. "My father, maybe. My mother . . ." A shrug. "I think my father was whisked away and killed for his convictions. My mother...I'm not so sure. She went to get food one day and never came back. She might have run into some Germans. On the other hand, she might not have wanted to keep taking care of three young children. With her it could have been either. I always had the feeling she resented us." He stirred restlessly. "Can we talk about something else?"

"Of course," Kopf said smoothly, happy with what he had so far. No need to push him. They had plenty of time to explore that line of questioning further later. "As for what being in love feels like." He sat back and tapped his pen to his lips. "You think about the other person all the time when you're not with her. Can't wait to see her again. Feel happy when she's with you." He glanced at his patient with an expression of humor. "You DO know what it feels like to be happy, don't you?" he said in wry amusement.

"I know what contentment and satisfaction feel like," Kuryakin answered sounding defensive. "That's enough."

Kopf studied the younger man. The blue eyes refused to meet his gaze, staring instead at a spot on the ceiling. He's serious, Kopf realized with a jolt. "You've never been truly happy?" he asked, voice filled with compassion.

The Russian's gaze slid over to touch Kopf's face then moved away again. "No," he finally answered, so softly Kopf barely heard him. "Although I think I came close more recently."

Kopf sat back in mute shock and horror. No wonder the man was so unbalanced. To have never experienced love or even happiness would be enough to unhinge anyone. His pity for the man overwhelmed him, and he vowed to make this poor wretch whole again no matter how long it took.

Illya lay on the bed thinking about the conversation he'd had with Kopf. Kopf. For the life of him, he couldn't remember why he hated the doctor. A good man. Full of compassion. For me.

The thought was really quite astounding, and Illya mulled it over for a few minutes. The idea that someone actually cared deeply enough to go to such great lengths to help him practically brought him to tears.

His mind shifted to their conversation about love and happiness. Love. A word he'd never thought of in relation to himself until recently. Until his affair with Napoleon. Then the time he spent with Antonio in Naples. How was it possible that a man like him, a man who had never experienced love, could find it twice in so short a time?

His euphoria faded as he remembered how each relationship had ended. Napoleon didn't love him. Only saw him as he saw his women. An outlet for his raging libido and a stroke for his enormous ego. A novelty, yes, but still relegated to the same place in Napoleon's life as the man's other lovers.

They'd had such a strong bond already formed as partners and friends. Best friends, Napoleon once said. Napoleon managed to break through all the barriers, melt the ice around his frozen heart. Because of that Illya had allowed the relationship to expand. Allowed the sex because he thought it would simply enhance the feelings they already had for each other. How could he be so wrong?

He snorted derisively. He knew. The two months with Laheeb shifted his way of thinking about love and sex so drastically it was inevitable he would make such a huge mistake with Napoleon. Not that he'd loved Laheeb. Far from it. Yet in the Arab Prince's bed he'd found an odd sort of happiness. He'd been Laheeb's slave yet he'd felt freer than at any other time in his life.

It was the first time he allowed himself to enjoy having sex with a man. Always before he did it for a mission. Found pleasure in it only to further that mission, or so he led himself to believe. Until Arabia.

Laheeb loved him in his own weird, twisted way. After Illya returned home, he felt so empty. So . . . alone. Lonely. He had thought he'd destroyed that particular state of being within himself as a child, but being Laheeb's love slave awoke the beast once more. He had been miserable those first couple of weeks afterwards.

Then Napoleon suggested they have sex again, and Illya's world turned upside down. Napoleon cared for him, too? He had thought so, but he'd been wrong. Napoleon was disgusted by him and only fucked him because he wanted to keep his partner in line and focused. Why else would he run to some woman's arms the moment he pulled out of his partner's ass? The love he'd felt for Napoleon quickly soured once he discovered that turn of events, and he hovered precariously close to hatred for his partner. Yet he couldn't quite achieve that, either, because he still cared about Napoleon's health and life.

And Antonio. Ah, that was a whole other kind of festering wound. Unlike Illya's partner, Antonio Vicente loved him passionately, deeply, and completely. Sort of. At least he loved Angelo, the persona Illya had taken on for both the mission he'd done for the KGB the first time he met Antonio and this last mission for U.N.C.L.E. when he'd met the big Italian again.

Illya knew his own heart became compromised during the mission. Exactly which mission he was unsure about. He thought he'd fallen for Antonio the first time. This last time just brought it all back and strengthened it. Until Antonio found out Angelo was using him to get to the real target.

The look of hurt and betrayal in Antonio's beautiful brown eyes had been almost too much to bear. The contempt he showed towards him afterward struck Illya in a heart he found out too late was not the withered, frozen lump he'd always thought.

Illya closed his eyes in pain, trying to hold back the fat tears that wanted to squeeze out from between his clenched lids. Why was this happening? Why was he feeling this so acutely now? Where the HELL was his vaunted self control?

Just as his previous sense of euphoria phased towards anger, Nurse Robins arrived with yet another shot.

Twenty minutes later, Illya couldn't remember why he had been so upset. Life was good and he drifted in a sea of happiness.

In his office Kopf couldn't have been happier. He could barely contain his glee. With a drink of fine bourbon on his desk to celebrate, he began to make another entry into his notes.

The increase in dosage of the prescribed treatment has brought forth promising results. Illya Kuryakin, known as Ian Curry while here in the hospital, believing the process sanctioned by U.N.C.L.E., and relaxed sufficiently by the medication, has begun to relate childhood memories.

Of course, these are just the preliminaries of what is undoubtably going to be a long term analysis which is much, much overdue.

We have scratched the surface of the man's feelings of abandonment and lack of emotional nurturing in his youth.

I must go deeper into his memories, but it will be a slow process. As long as he believes he is following U.N.C.L.E. requirements, his cooperaation is ensured. I will have to keep him belieing that is true.

With the notebook closed again, Kopf leaned back and took a long sip of his drink. This case would surely make him famous in the medical journals when he wrote it up years from now.

Mark stretched at the desk. The bones in his spine cracked loudly as he leaned back and extended his arms over his head. He yawned and flexed his shoulders.

"I wish we could just come home and leave the reports till tomorrow."

April closed the folder on hers. "Well, I'm done. There is nothing else that can't wait until tomorrow," she said. "I'm going home."

"I can give you a ride if you like," he said as he put down the pen. "We could stop for a nightcap on the way."

She shook her head and walked over to give him a friendly peck on the cheek. "No, thank you. I have an errand to do on the way home."

"Oh? And what would that be?" he asked, standing up to stretch some more.

"I promised Illya a bar of swiss chocolate from that shop in Paris. I'm going to drop it off on the way."

"Okay. I'll see you tomorrow morning. Pick me up on your way in," he told her and patted her arm as they parted ways.

April yawned as she waited at the stop light. The trip back to the United States had been a long one. All she wanted was to get home and sink into a nice hot bath and lounge the night away.

Traffic was getting bad at this hour, and she really wondered if her errand was that vital. Illya could probably survive the night without his chocolate as long as he didn't know she was back from Paris with it yet. If he was that keen on having right away, she thought he could even come to her place to get it.

She smiled to herself as she thought of the last time she brought the chocolate. Napoleon had asked for a small piece, and Illya was too stingy to share even the smallest morsel with him. There was something about chocolate that was like gold to Illya. He never would explain it to her.

A car honked after a few moments of the green light when April showed no signs of moving. She snapped out of her thoughts and looked around before waving and proceeding onward. April took a long deep breath and decided she would deliver the chocolate tomorrow. Illya wouldn't starve without it, she was sure.

The next corner April kept going straight and went toward her own apartment building. Illya would understand.

Burke spent a restless night in bed. He was nervous listening to Napoleon sleep in the other bed. The memory of their discussion, although that was a poor word for it, left him feeling so totally demoralized and defeated that he wasn't sure this was really the right move for him. The RCMP in the wilds of the Canadian wilderness seemed tame compared to the events of the past day. He didn't want to leave U.N.C.L.E. He'd spent so much time and effort to get into the organization and when it came right down to it he really loved the idea of being an agent.

Working with, or even for, Napoleon again was simply not something he wanted to do. He didn't think he could manage to pretend that he would. There was only one way to go as far as he could see, and he'd talk to Waverly about it when he got back from this assignment. His mind was made up and he pulled the covers up closer under his chin and cowered to sleep.

"It's getting late Mr. Curry," Nurse Nanci said as she made her rounds to get the patients back to their rooms. She walked over and turned off the television. A couple patients let out a groan of protest but made no aggressive moves over the rules.

Illya looked up from the chessboard where he was studying a very tricky situation he remembered reading in one of his journals some time ago. "It is not late," he said, stating a fact.

"Well the hospital has rules Mr. Curry. You don't want me to get in trouble, now do you?" she asked walking over to him. She found herself more attracted to him now that he was much calmer. As she studied his eyes, a window into the soul she believed, it almost took her breath away. She steadied herself thinking that it was the motherly instinct in her although she was single and childless at the moment.

"Why should you be in trouble for me playing chess?" he asked not understanding the reasoning.

She stood next to him casually and placed a hand in her pocket. The fingers touched the wrapper of the chocolate bar she'd tucked in there from her lunch kit. "Will you be a good boy for me if I give you a treat?" she asked and pulled out the bar just a smidge for him to see.

His gaze touched on the chocolate, flicked to the chess board, then up to her face. No guile there. Just genuine interest and concern for her patients. He sighed and turned to put away the chess pieces. "No, I don't want you to get in trouble."

She accompanied him to his room, followed by the big goon of an orderly. Today was the first time he'd been allowed out into the public areas of the hospital. A nurse and an orderly escorted him that time, too. He supposed it was all understandable. This didn't appear to be an U.N.C.L.E. facility. Not the usual modus operandi for the organization but not unheard of either. Apparently Waverly wanted this evaluation to stay under wraps, thus the civilian facility and the alias.

Once inside the room, Nurse Robins helped him take his robe off. He was still a little wobbly from all the drugs. "Thank you," he said formally as he eased onto his bed.

"All part of the service," she replied with a bright smile.

She was really quite pretty. Dark chestnut hair with rich gold and red highlights, bright eyes the color he could only describe as blue hazel, and a ready, caring smile. It was the smile that made him like her. That and her willingness to ply him with his favorite treat.

"I believe you promised me some chocolate?" he flirted, head tilted and eyeing her pocket from under his lashes. The "little boy lost" routine as Lisa Rogers once dubbed it.

It worked wonders on Nurse Robins. She melted faster than the candy bar in her pocket. She pulled it out and handed it to him with an indulgent smile. "A promise is a promise."

He paused in his assault on the chocolate wrapping to look up at her. "Do you really believe that?"

She blinked, surprised at the question. "Of course. Why?"

He shrugged. "Most medical personnel don't ascribe to such a policy. To them a promise is just a controlling tool. I never believe them." He turned his attention back to the candy, more for something to do other than look at her than to eat it. He preferred to eat his chocolate in private. A holdover from the days when Alexei Pavlovich Andreov would give his young charge chocolate as a consolation for having to endure whatever outrage Sarkov had put Illya through that day.

Her face scrunched into an expression of distress. "How can you say that?"

"Let's just say my experience with the medical, especially the psychiatry, world has not been good."

She placed a hand on his shoulder. He cringed at the touch but didn't pull away. He felt relatively certain she only wanted to comfort, but in this type of situation in the past, touching just preceeded drugs and pain.

She pulled her hand away. "You don't like to be touched, do you?"

He shrugged.

"Can I ask why?"

He shrugged again, fingers worrying at the candy wrapping without really doing much damage to it. "As I said, I've not fared well at the hands of mental health professionals."

"I'm sorry," she said softly, voice filled with compassion. "But I won't hurt you. I promise."

He looked up at her. "Please don't make promises you can't keep."

"I'll keep it. I always keep my promises. I told you that."

"If Doctor Kopf orders you to put more of those toxic drugs into my body, you'll do it, will you not?"

Her mouth opened then closed. Her face fell, losing its brightness. "I'll have to. But that's not to hurt you. It helps you."

He shook his head. "It hurts me in ways you can't possibly imagine. It brings up memories better left where they are."

"I know you don't like the idea, but taking those memories out to face them is the only way to truly rid yourself of them."

Illya snorted softly. "Perhaps in some people, maybe in the majority of them. But not mine. You simply don't understand what could happen by bringing those things up. It wouldn't be pretty and Kopf should understand these things are better left buried."

She reached out to him but stopped short of touching him. "That's not true. Everyone feels like you do about it, but I've seen it work time and time again. Just give it a chance. It will help you. I promise."

"You're wrong. It's a promise you can't keep. Please don't make it." He put the chocolate bar down on the small stand by the bed and lay down, turning to face the wall in a gesture of dismissal.

She didn't move for a few long seconds. "You're right. I can't promise you a cure. I will promise to cause you the least amount of stress as possible. Will that do?"

"It will have to. Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Mr. Curry. I'll see you tomorrow evening. The night nurse will be in shortly to give you your sedative."

Once the door closed softly behind her, he heard the thunk of the lock engaging. He supposed it was too much to hope for her not to lock the door. He thought of her parting words. Sedative. He hated them in the best of times, but now, when Kopf had stirred up so many of the memories Illya'd tried so hard to eradicate, they made it worse. At least he could wake up when hit with a nightmare under normal circumstances. With a sedative, though, especially the strong kind Kopf ordered, he couldn't. The drug would keep him under, trapped in a world he'd already escaped once.

If it were just a matter of a pill, he could keep from swallowing it while convincing the nurse otherwise. Kopf knew his tricks, though, and had it injected. Short of knocking out the nurse, he had no way to prevent it. Not that he had a problem hitting a woman if necesssary but at the moment, he couldn't justify it. Waverly ordered these tests-didn't he?-and fighting the treatment would just get him reprimanded. No. He had no choice but to subject himself to it and hope he could hang onto whatever sanity he had left.

He turned around and sat up, reaching for the chocolate bar. He broke off a piece and popped it in his mouth, relishing the smooth sweetness as it melted on his tongue. He had need of this at the moment. It brought up one of the few memories of his childhood he didn't mind being reminded of. Made him think of Andreov, the man he privately called Uncle Alexei. They'd had to keep that between the two of them, though. If Sarkov found out Andreov actually had forged a relationship with Sarkov's pet project, they would both pay for it.

So in the privacy of his little room-the only consession Sarkov made to his age was to keep him separate from the rest of the camp-Uncle Alexei would bring him a treat after an especially grueling day. Chocolate didn't lessen the pain-physical or emotional-or humiliation of whatever they'd put him through that day, but it soothed and comforted him. Made him feel like perhaps there was someone out there that did care about what happened to him. Uncle Alexei couldn't make it known to anyone else and he certainly couldn't stop what happened to him without dire consequences to them both, but he did what he could to make things easier for him.

Illya thought it highly likely he would not have turned out so well if not for Alexei Pavlovich Andreov. Pretty certain Alexei's influence was the only thing that kept Illya from becoming the monster Sarkov strove to make him.

As he ate the candy, his mind once again turned to his situation. It was hard to believe Waverly had ordered this battery of evaluations. Kopf was an U.N.C.L.E. doctor, though, and nothing about this setup smacked of THRUSH. Even Kopf, as evil a bastard as he was, didn't strike him as working for THRUSH. Much as Illya hated him, he had to admit Kopf seemed to be very loyal to U.N.C.L.E.

Still, something about the situation struck him as wrong. Wriggled in his gut like a tapeworm demanding its next meal. He couldn't quite put his finger on what bothered him, though. Whatever noxious potions Kopf mainlined into his veins fuzzed his thought processes. Made it hard to understand why he didn't care for peas much less whether or not Waverly might have ordered this without informing him, first. For that matter, maybe the head of North American operations DID tell him and he just couldn't remember.

Couldn't remember how long ago Kopf brought him here, either. The loss of time bothered him even more. A day? Two? A month, a year? In and out of the drugged fugue state so often he just couldn't tell anymore. He'd asked a few times, but none of the staff would tell him. Apparently Kopf said it would deepen his delusion and ordered them to leave such questions unanswered.

That the hospital was staffed with civilians there was no doubt. None of them struck him as belonging to either THRUSH or U.N.C.L.E. They were what they said they were and they believed he was the delusional person Kopf made him out.

He tensed when he heard the door unlock and the night nurse came in followed by yet another gorilla of an orderly. Where did they find them all?

"Time for your sedative," the pinch-faced woman announced gruffly. She was totally opposite Nurse Robins. Plain in looks and coarse in manner, she didn't seem to care much for her poor charges. She was here for the paycheck, pure and simple, and couldn't care less whether a patient needed comfort or a kind word. She did her job as ordered by the doctors and nothing more. "Lie down!" she ordered. "And don't move. Wouldn't want to break the needle in your arm now would we?" she sneered.

Illya tensed, muscles bunching in readiness to lash out at the spiteful woman. He simply couldn't sit back and let Kopf do this to him. He needed to find out whether or not Waverly really ordered the evaluation. Since no one would let him use the phone or would do it for him because they didn't believe a word he said, he would just have to force the issue. He would deal with the consequences later if it turned out Waverly's orders were real.

As soon as she was close enough, Illya launched himself at her, grabbing the syringe, spinning her around while pulling her arm back into a wristlock. He jabbed the point of the syringe to her throat, pricking the skin but not actually puncturing it. "Uh-uh!" he snarled at the orderly who was slow to react. "I don't know exactly what is in this syringe, but I do know it's strong and injecting it directly into her jugular would be unpleasant even if it won't kill her."

The big man stopped midstride, looking to the nurse for instructions.

"Stay back, you big oaf!" she screamed, voice shaking with fear and anger.

Illya dragged her with him towards the door, keeping her body between him and the orderly. The lumbering man turned to watch his progress but otherwise didn't make any moves. This was where his plan turned against him. He couldn't open the door without letting go of the nurse. He had no doubt she would use the distraction to get away and sic the gorilla on him.

"Sorry about this," he told her, although he really wasn't. She was mean. He slammed his fist into the nerve at her neck and knocked her out. He shoved her aside and ducked under the orderly's massive arms that now reached for him. He sunk the syringe into the man's thick thigh and slammed home the depressor, releasing the sedative into his tissues.

It didn't even slow the man down. In the tight confines of the room, Illya couldn't quite dodge the massive paw moving his way. It connected with his temple and sent him sprawling across the bed.

The big man obviously wasn't as stupid as he looked because instead of continuing his assault on Illya, he flung open the door and bellowed for help. Illya could hear the thunder of approaching footsteps even as he flung himself off the bed and slammed into the orderly, giving him a hard punch into the kidney.

That did the trick and the huge man fell like a stone, his body holding the door open. Illya jumped onto the man's back and used his body to launch himself into the corridor. He started down it in one direction only to skid to a halt when he saw two orderlies running towards him. He spun around to find two more bearing down on him from the opposite direction.

He did a quick visual recon of his surroundings to see if he could get away without doing more bodily harm to innocents. No such luck. He took a deep breath, chose the direction of the least massive orderlies, and ran. One stumbled, shocked at the audacity of the much smaller man launching an attack at them.

The other kept his wits about him and reached for the escaping patient. In a flurry of blows, Illya took him down and was on his way down the now opened corridor. Just as he thought he might actually make it out of this hallway, three more orderlies armed with what looked like cattle prods clambered through the doors only five feet in front of him. Illya skidded to a halt and changed direction.

He wasn't quite fast enough, though, and one of the orderlies reached out with his metal rod and touched it to Illya's leg. A shock zapped through Illya's leg muscles and sent him sprawling. Within seconds five large men in white were on top of him, zapping him repeatedly with the prods. Among the electrical charges, Illya vaguely felt the sting of a needle and a few seconds later everything went black.

Nurse Grendal moaned as she came to. Then she rolled the orderly's legs off her body and crawled to her feet. The commotion down the hall told her all she needed to know. They'd captured her unruly patient.

Staggering out into the hall she leaned against the wall for support and barked her orders. "Get the patient into his bed and put a call in to Dr. Kopf. Make sure you strap him in tight, too."

She watched them roughly pick up the limp body and carry it back to the room. If this wasn't so public with everyone poking their noses out of their rooms, she'd have given him a nice swift kick in the ribs as they carried him by as well.

Kopf arrived at the hospital and was let into the locked ward after midnight. He rushed along the hallway to the nurse's station and knocked on the window to be let in.

Grendal, now sporting the ring of bruises around her neck from Illya's grip, looked at him seriously unhappy. "Your patient Mr. Curry attacked me when I was making the rounds with his medication. His violent outburst nearly cost me and one of the orderlies our lives."

He held up a hand urging her to calm down. "I don't believe he would have gone that far, but believe me it will not happen again," he said hoping he was right. "Now please give me a full report."

She took a long breath and sat back thinking before she relayed the story in its entirety. Kopf listened without comment gleaning as much information as he could from the incident. "So where is Mr. Kurya... uh... Curry now?"

"He was taken back to his room and strapped down for his own safety and ours. Will you be ordering the standard electroshock therapy for him?" she asked.

"I..uh..." Kopf paused in thought. Kuryakin had been exposed to such treatments before but always as a form of torture. Of course, this would be much less torturous and in fact done in a better controlled environment. It was reasonable to assume that it could actually help the patient calm down and control his emotions better. "I will consult with Dr. Shultz in the morning. In the meanwhile I wish to see Mr. Curry, and then I will give you my orders for him for the rest of the night."

The short-acting sedative was wearing off as Kopf entered Kuryakin's room. He signaled the orderly to remain outside but close at hand and then after hearing the door lock behind him, he walked over to the bedside.

Illya groggily cracked one eyelid open a little and barely focused on Kopf.

"Mr. Kuryakin?" Kopf said.

Illya heard the words, but they echoed and warbled in his head.

"That was very naughty of you. Mr. Waverly won't be pleased when I report this to him," he said knowing that the charade would help keep Illya in line. That was as long as he was properly medicated and believed the lies. "Just when we were beginning to make good progress, too. This will be much less painful if you just relax and let us get through it quickly. These people here are only trying to help you and they don't deserve such harsh treatment by you. Innocent people who only want to do the job they are paid to do," Kopf said hoping the reasonable tone would help.

He patted Illya's arm and felt it stiffen under the touch. He didn't shrink away in fear since Illya was strapped in hand and foot.

"Now I'm going to send someone in with your nightly sedative. You need proper rest if we are to finish up your treatment and get you back to work," Kopf explained wanting to placate the man and ensure his cooperation. "I want you to accept this. Mr. Waverly wants you to accept this," he said evoking the superior man's name for reinforcement.

Illya's shoulders stiffened and he tried to pull away from the doctor but was held fast in place by the heavy leather straps. "No," he groaned in a voice barely audible under the medication.

Unfortunately before Illya could become fully aware, Kopf signaled for the orderly to enter once more. "Have Nurse Grendal's assistant bring in Mr. Curry's medication and administer it now. He's sufficiently recovered from the other shot that there will be no danger of interaction."

Napoleon got out of bed and went out onto the balcony of the motel room he shared with Burke. He stared out at the night sky to the north and whispered quietly to himself. "Illya, where are you?"

A nagging feeling he couldn't shake ate away at his insides. It was just like the time Illya was trapped in the bat cave by the evil Zark. There was that gut feeling that tugged at him all the while he was on Illya's trail. The same irritation that wouldn't let him rest tonight was haunting his thoughts.

With no other partner was the connection so intense. So genuinely real. He just couldn't let go. Partner in U.N.C.L.E. or not, Napoleon would seek out Illya when he had the chance to return to New York. Illya did not take vacations. Illya did not burn out from overwork. Illya did not need psychological help of any kind. Napoleon knew the man more than anyone. He was sure he even knew Illya better than the blond did himself.

Napoleon looked back at the sleeping form of Burke and felt pity for the man. He felt guilty for practically torturing him the way he did. At the same time he thought the man had real potential as an agent if only he could get past his hero worship. It was tiresome the way the guy tried to hang onto a partnership Napoleon did not want and actively discouraged. The relationship was so opposite to the one he had with Illya. The longer he stayed with Burke, the more he wanted to get away from the nitwit.

As Napoleon again focused on the distant sky he decided that if he didn't hear from the contact by tomorrow noon he was going to tell Waverly this mission was a bust and go back to New York. He'd go alone if he must and leave Burke to sit around waiting for the call to come.

Napoleon's knuckles whitened with determination as his body tensed with his own convictions to do what he had to do. He had to save Illya for he knew the man was in some terrible trouble.

"Illya?" Kopf said softly as he lightly tapped Kuryakin's cheek. "Illya!" he said a little more forcefully. The man was out cold. The sedative they gave him was a strong one. A bomb could go off right next to him and Kuryakin would not even flicker an eyelash. Kopf shook his head at the turn of events. He would have to find out what happened tomorrow. In the meantime, he would order that Kuryakin remain in restraints, at least for now. He left the room so he could go alter his treatment plan accordingly.

"Illya?" His name reverberated through Illya's dreaming mind, echoing a deeply buried memory and jarring it loose. "Illya!" The voice not that of Kopf in his drug saturated brain, but of someone else. Someone long gone and he thought forgotten.

"Wake up, Illya! I'm hungry!"

Seven-year-old Illya groaned as someone started to shake him, interrupting his dreams of a time when he felt loved, safe, and warm. He opened his eyes to find himself staring at a cyclops. Katya, his younger sister, leaned so close to him she appeared to have a single blue eye in the middle of her forehead. "Illya!" she whispered. "I'm hungry!" "Me, too." That was Vanya, Katya's fraternal twin, who whispered directly into Illya's ear. Illya twisted his head to look at his younger brother. The twins looked nothing alike. Vanya took after the dark haired, dark eyed, olive complexion of their father. Katya had light skin and blue-eyes like Mama, with Papa's black hair. "Leave me alone," Illya said finally. He rolled back over and closed his eyes once more, unwilling to leave the comfort of the dream of his mother in order to return to the harsh reality that was now his life. "Illya!" Katya insisted, a little louder this time. "I'm hungry!" An irritated Illya jumped up from their bed of wadded cloth, the remnants of curtains and mattresses which had survived the bomb which had turned half their house into a pile of rubble. The day Illya and his siblings arrived to find their home ruined, he was glad Mama hadn't been there. She might have died of despair. Of course, he wasn't quite sure she wasn't dead anyway. She went to find food two days prior to the bombing and never returned. With his father captured—he was a freedom-fighter rebelling against Stalin's policies—and probably killed six months ago and his mother now also missing, the responsibility to feed his younger brother and sister fell to him. "Fine," he sighed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "I'll go find us something. You two stay here and wait." He pointed to the bed he'd just vacated. "Go over there and don't move until I get back." The twins hustled to the bedding and sat down to wait. Illya wasn't concerned about them wandering off. They were both too afraid of disappearing like Mama. They were afraid he would disappear, too, but their hunger got the best of them on that point. He started off in search of something to eat. Few people in Kiev had enough food to feed their own families, much less three orphans. Still, he usually managed to scrounge enough for them by begging and stealing. Mostly stealing. He was very good at slipping into people's houses unnoticed and snatching some morsels from their cupboards. They had lived with his father's gypsy family for four months after Stalin's police took Papa away, and his grandfather taught him much about the gypsy ways, including how to break into someone's home and steal effectively. When the Nazis started targeting gypsies, Illya's grandfather sent them packing back to Kiev where he believed they would be safe. He was wrong. Their house wasn't too far from downtown Kiev, where the Germans had recently set up headquarters. There was always food there, so he headed towards it. For all their security and guards, he found it laughingly easy to sneak in. He'd done it several times already, and it seemed easier each time. All he needed was a diversion. As though the God his Babushka believed in had heard him, a diversion was spontaneously provided. It came in the form of an explosion which rocked one of the nearby buildings. Illya knew it was one of the places the Germans used. No doubt the responsibility belonged to Anatoly Krichev and his friends, rebels who had recently switched from rebelling against Stalin's regime to rebelling against the invaders. He knew the group well. His father had been their leader at one time and often took Illya with him to meetings. Illya would sit in a corner and listen to the men rant about the injustices in the world and make plans as to how to right those wrongs. Illya once questioned his father as to why he did such a dangerous thing. "If those of us who are able don't fight against those in power who seek to crush the innocent beneath their large, collective foot, the world would soon fall into chaos." After that conversation, Papa made sure Illya would be one of the ones who was able. Illya was young, but very, very smart, and he learned things easily and well. Papa and his group taught him how to shoot, the principles of sniping, how to blend in with others, to infiltrate and spy on the enemy, and tutored him in several languages in order to make that infiltration more productive. He could loiter and eavesdrop in places where adults could not. No one paid attention to such a boy cleaning their floors. One so young couldn't possibly know what they were talking about. They never dreamed the boy cleaning up after their filth not only understood them, but could also remember their conversations perfectly. All he had to do was repeat their talks word for word to the resistance group. Those he spied on assumed any child that had an IQ high enough to understand would already be in the hands of the State, learning the tools he would need in order to better serve Mother Russia. They didn't count on the boy being the son of parents who would instruct their highly intelligent son to hide his abilities to avoid that fate. "The government would take you away from us if they knew," they cautioned. Even though the government ended up taking THEM away from HIM instead of the other way around—he thought Mama might be a victim of the secret police as well—he took the lesson to heart and kept his skills hidden. At this point in time, those days with his father's group were but a distant memory, since his involvement with them ended with his father's arrest. He was grateful to them for their lessons, though, because otherwise he was unsure he and his siblings would have survived this long. If the group caused the explosion, he would also be grateful to them for that. No matter who provided his asked for diversion, the explosion worked for Illya's purposes. The guards at the front of his target building abandoned their posts and were soon joined by a large number of Germans streaming out the front door. As Illya watched and waited for his opportunity, one officer stalked out. Face purple with rage, he started to scream orders. Illya's language acumen held him well at the moment since he now knew the German officer was ordering most of the soldiers to jeeps. The officer screamed about "rounding them up," but Illya couldn't hear everything he said. It didn't matter anyway. All he cared about was the fact that between the soldiers now roaring away in their vehicles and the others scrambling to rescue comrades in the bombed building, the way to his food supply was open and inviting. He slipped in unnoticed past the chaos and hurried to the area that had the food. He had visited this building several times already, so he knew the layout. The government building sported a small mess hall of sorts and he headed that direction. Left, right, straight through this intersection, then another left. Half-eaten meals lay abandoned on trays scattered over the tables. Illya's eyes widened. So much! He glanced around quickly to see if anyone else was around. The serving line was empty of eaters and servers alike. It sounded like some people worked in the kitchen, but he felt sure he could dodge anyone who might come from there. He went around to the tables and stuffed rolls, cheese, even scrambled eggs, into the small cloth bag he brought with him. Periodically he shoved some of the food into his own hungry mouth. "Was ist das?" Illya spun at the voice behind him. A German soldier stood between him and the door. Illya berated himself for being so busy eating he hadn't heard the man enter the room. He glanced at the door, gauging the distance and his chances, thought he could do it, and dashed towards the exit. "Oh, no you don't. You just think you can get away, little mouse. I will wait until you think you are past me, then I will catch you." The man assumed this Russian child wouldn't understand his foreign words. He was wrong. Illya knew the man's strategy beforehand and dodged him. He didn't quite move out far enough and the soldier snagged the bag, yanking it from his hand. Illya stopped and turned. The door was to his back now and he could get away easily, but he couldn't replace the food. He stared at the bag now dangling in the man's hand, licking his lips. He had to figure out a way to get it back. He decided he'd try to be pitiful, even though he didn't think that would help. "Please. You have so much and we are so hungry," he said in his best begging voice. He hated that voice, but utilized it whenever necessary. Pretending to beg didn't make him a beggar. "I would be happy to give you this food, little man," the soldier sneered in barely passable Russian. "But what do you have to give me in return?" The soldier smiled. It was a hideous sight, filled with cruelty and something else Illya unfortunately recognized and didn't like. The first man that had turned that look on him had been a drunk, while this was a trained soldier. Illya knew exactly what the man wanted, but frowned and pretended ignorance. "I have nothing to give, kind sir." Kind, indeed. Evil, rotting thing that should die a horrible death. "Oh, but you do." Illya was definitely wary of the leer now on the man's face. It scared him. He didn't let the soldier know that, though. He remembered Papa always telling him never to let anyone know what he was feeling. Illya had worked on that defense in the years since his father disappeared. He prepared to flee without appearing to do so. "I don't." He shifted, unobtrusively edging closer to the food. "You are a very pretty little boy. You have a very pretty little mouth. You can use that pretty mouth to earn this food." The soldier shook the bag. Illya's eyebrows knitted in mock confusion and shifted again, putting himself a little closer. "Earn? With my mouth? How?" "You can use it to kiss me." The soldier rubbed his groin with his free hand. "Here." Illya fidgeted as though trying to decide what he should do. The fidgeting brought him imperceptibly closer to his goal. "Well, boy? You want this food or do you want to go home and tell your family they have to starve because you were too afraid to do such a simple thing?" "I-I want it." More fidgeting. He was within reach now. It would take nothing for him to grab the bag and run. "Then come and get it." The man's voice was soft and full of gleeful malice. Illya bowed his head and bashfully looked up at the man from under his fringe of blond hair. He shuffled forward as though he were submitting. The soldier lunged suddenly, but Illya was ready for him. His foot lashed out and caught the man in the groin, putting his foot where the man wanted his mouth to be. "Aarrggghhh!" The soldier dropped the bag and doubled over. Illya snatched the bag from under him and zipped out the door. He exited the building, running as though the devil himself chased him. He heard shouts in German, but he ignored them. He laughed in victory as he sped away, bag of food clutched in his hand. They would eat well today. He wandered through the city for a couple of hours, not wanting to return to his siblings until he was sure no one was chasing him. Vanya and Katya's stomachs could wait a little longer until he felt he would lead no danger to them. Finally he headed for home, picturing their astonished and joyful faces when they saw the feast he brought them. His elation turned to fear as he neared the neighborhood where he shared the burnt-out hovel with his brother and sister. He heard shouts, both in German and in Russian, peppered by gunshots and cries of anguish and fright. As he got closer, he noticed groups of people hurriedly moving in his direction, dragging their belongings with them. Illya's heart sped up as he rushed towards where his siblings should be waiting for him. Before he could reach where he'd left Vanya and Katya, a truckload of Germans squealed to a halt before the burnt out shell. Soldiers swarmed out of the truck like ants from an anthill. They began to round up everyone in the partially Jewish neighborhood. "All Jews must report to headquarters!" one guard snarled as he latched onto a passing woman's arm. She did not appear to be leaving as the others clogging the street. "I'm not Jewish!" she protested, eyes wide with terror. "It doesn't matter. You live with Jews, you are a Jew in the eyes of the Third Reich." The moment Illya saw the truck, he slipped into the shadows as his father and his friends had taught him. He skulked forward as carefully and quickly as he could, trying to blend in with the shadows in which he moved. His heart hammered in his chest while he attempted to return to his sister and brother before the soldiers made them disappear like his parents. Suddenly he saw Vanya pulled from inside the hovel. The soldier shoved the little dark-haired boy towards the throng of people being herded along the street. "Get in there with the others of your kind," the man sneered. Without thinking, Illya broke cover and hurried to help his little brother. Before he could reach Vanya, the soldier from whom he'd stolen the food earlier loomed in front of him. The man grabbed Illya by the neck of his ratty shirt and held on tightly. "Well, well! If it isn't the food thief!" he growled in his broken Russian. "You owe me for feeding you, boy. I would have liked to take my payment by shoving my cock into that pretty little mouth of yours, but your death shall be payment enough." He pushed Illya into line beside Vanya. "Where's Katya?" Illya whispered to his crying brother. "I don't know," Vanya hiccupped between sobs. "She was inside when I came out to see what was happening, but I don't know if she's still there." Illya hoped with all his heart that she was hiding where the soldiers would never find her. He resisted the urge to look back, in case that would alert the bad men there might be someone else they should hunt for back there. The soldiers herded the large group of people, finally stopping at the corner of Melnikovsky and Dokhturov Streets. Other people already gathered there, stood naked and waiting in a long line. A murmur of shock rippled through the crowd that contained Illya and Vanya. "You are to put everything you own into a pile," a soldier Illya recognized as a lieutenant told the people. "Bags, trunks, jewelry, everything, even your clothes. We will return them to you after you are finished being processed." Illya felt pretty sure the man lied. Deception gleamed in the German's eyes as he mouthed the words. Illya's fear intensified, but he remained outwardly calm so as not to scare Vanya. He took his brother's hand so they wouldn't get separated. "It will be all right, Vanya," he said, not believing his own words anymore than he had the lieutenant's. Vanya sobbed quite loudly now, but Illya didn't allow the tears that burned his eyes to fall. He couldn't wallow in emotion and fear right now. Had to keep his mind clear in order to find a way to get himself and Vanya out of this mess. The Germans instructed them to form a line and then took the first ten and drove them away from the bulk of the crowd. Illya thought he heard a clap of thunder at one point, but a glance to the sky showed no clouds. He frowned, a little concerned at the noise. Illya kept his eyes open for an opportunity to escape, but there were too many people and too many soldiers with too many guns. The soldier he had kicked kept a close watch on them, a terrifying smile on his face. A short time later, the soldiers that had left with the ten people returned alone. They took the next ten. The pattern repeated itself time after time as the day wore on. They stood in the line for several hours, waiting their turn for whatever fate the Germans had waiting for them. At one point in the day, another set of soldiers arrived. They took a group out while the first set of soldiers were on their way back, thus speeding up the process somewhat. As the shadows of the day lengthened, they started taking larger groups of forty and fifty. While waiting, Illya listened to the conversations of the people around them. Most of them believed they would be put on a train and deported. Illya didn't think so. The sound of thunder soon after each group of ten departed and right before the soldiers returned alone gave the young boy an entirely different idea. The comments some of the Germans made in their native language convinced him he was right in his guess. They were going to die and there was not one thing he could do about it. He would try to run, but the soldier he kicked watch him constantly, not giving him a single opportunity to slip away. The soldier sauntered over to where Illya stood with Vanya, who'd finally cried himself out and leaned shivering against his brother. Although the temperature was not too bad, it had a chill in the air which made one cold if standing out in it naked. The soldier loomed over the scrawny blond boy looking after the younger dark-haired one, pushing his face so close to Illya's, the young Russian could smell the soldier's fetid breath. It stank. Bad. Reminded Illya of a decaying mouse he'd once found under his bed. He hadn't let that mouse scare him then and he wouldn't let this louse scare him now. He defiantly stood his ground. "You know what's going on, don't you, boy?" the man rasped in his native German. "I can see it in your eyes." Illya felt a flicker of surprise, but quickly squelched it. Still, the man straightened, nodding in satisfaction. "You know, all right. Good. Just remember I'm paying special attention to you. If you so much as scratch wrong, I will first shoot your friend." He pointed his rifle at Vanya. "Then I will shoot you. Understand?" Holding fast to his parents' rule of not letting anyone know of his abilities, he acted as though he didn't. It didn't fool the soldier. "You understand." He returned to his post, but his eyes never left Illya. It was late afternoon by the time it was their turn. Illya roused Vanya from his shivering stupor, clutching his brother's small hand tightly in his. Luckily, the soldier who had it in for him had to remain behind to guard the remaining group. They trudged out of town, heading northward. Illya vaguely remembered there was a ravine out this way. It was one of the areas his father had taken him to teach him how to shoot, track, and hide from those tracking him. The smells he remembered from those training sessions, however, were nothing like the odor which assailed his nostrils now. Even from this distance he could smell it. Blood. Fear. And the sickening sweetness of decay. Smelled of death. Illya knew what was about to happen to the group which had arrived before them and which he could now see in the distance. The German soldiers raised their rifles to their shoulders and aimed at the people lined up in front of the ravine. Shots rang out and the people dropped into the ravine. Once all the Ukrainians disappeared into the ditch, the soldiers climbed down out of Illya's sight. He could no longer see them, but he could hear the reports of their rifles as they shot anyone not dead yet. As he watched the proceedings, Illya didn't fidget nervously as so many of the others with him did. He observed the actions of the soldiers, a plan forming in his head. He turned to Vanya. "When it looks like the soldiers are about to shoot, just fall backwards, then play like you are dead," he hissed into his brother's ear. "Understand?" He looked sharply at Vanya to see if the little boy had heard. Vanya's big eyes brimmed with tears, but he nodded. Still, Illya was unsure if his brother understood. He'd have to help him along. Illya tried to keep his hold on Vanya's hand as the Germans pushed them into a line on the edge of the ravine. One soldier broke their grip. "Not allowed!" he screamed in Russian. Illya wondered why anyone should obey a death threat when they knew they were going to die anyway. Still, he didn't retake Vanya's hand. His plan depended on staying alive until they moved to execute the entire group. When the moment came, it seemed like it happened in slow motion. As the Germans raised their rifles, Illya grabbed onto Vanya's hand once again. He read the body language of those aiming his direction and knew the moment they pulled the trigger. He flung himself back into the ravine, dragging Vanya with him. They landed on the piles of bodies of all those that went before them. Illya quickly turned to Vanya to remind him to pretend to be dead only to find it unnecessary. One of the German bullets had found its home in the center of Vanya's forehead. Illya strangled a cry of grief. It would not bring Vanya back to life and it would alert the soldiers that he still lived. He pulled Vanya's body over him, as well as that of the dead man next to him and lay still. He moved not a muscle and kept his breathing shallow when he heard the Germans scramble into the ravine and start shooting. He stifled a groan when one soldier stepped on him as he searched for survivors. Eventually they left and the next group was brought forward for execution. Several more rounds of bodies fell on top of him. Illya lay still for a long time surrounded by death. He didn't even dare to move to close Vanya's sightless eyes so that they wouldn't stare at him so accusingly. He'd failed his brother and sister. He exerted all his will to keep from screaming to be let out from beneath them. To ask the Germans that they kill him, too, so he could join the rest of his family. But something inside him had rebelled at the notion, told him he must survive at all costs. He didn't know why, but his will to live proved stronger than his desire to die and he kept still. Then all went silent. No more stomping of German boots or cries of doomed Ukrainians. Luckily the killing day ended before too many bodies landed on Illya, or else he would have suffocated beneath them. He stayed there for awhile longer to be sure no one would return. After what he'd estimated to be about another hour, he dug himself out from under the bodies, glad it was now too dark to see Vanya's dead eyes. At least that was what was supposed to have happened. This time, though, he couldn't move out from under the bodies. Corpses pressed in on him, holding him down. Vanya's empty eyes glittered at vacantly at him, reminding Illya anew of his failing. Illya screamed and clawed at the bodies laying on him. In reality he had been able to get out from under the corpses and climb out of the ravine to his freedom, This time, though, he was unable to fight his way out of the nightmare.

The next morning Nurse Robins arrived to find her favorite patient in restraints and looking ragged and more than a little disheveled. His bed linens were damp and twisted beneath him. When he looked at her, his eyes were dark and haunted. He obviously had had a rough night. She knew of the incident of the night before, but the report she'd read on it couldn't possibly be the reason for his horrible condition. "Mr. Curry, what happened?" she asked in concern, brushing his sweaty hair off his forehead.

"Sedation," he rasped, anger chasing away whatever had haunted him.

"Now, Mr. Curry," she chided gently. "You fought the nurse and orderlies on duty last night. They had to sedate you. You brought it on yourself."

He shook his head. "No. Bastard ordered sedation, anyway. Besides, I need to get out of here. Don't believe Waverly ordered this. Must find out for sure." He looked to her hopefully. "Did you make the call?"

"Call?" Nanci asked in surprise. "What . . . " She paused, remembering her promise to him upon his admittance. "Um, yes, sure I made the call."

Suspicion glinted in the beautiful blue eyes. "No, you didn't." He turned his head away looking defeated. "So much for keeping your promises."

Nurse Robins opened her mouth then closed it again without replying. He was right. She'd not kept her promise to him on this front. When she'd made it she had just been humoring him, assuming he wouldn't remember he'd asked. He did, though. How could she expect him to trust her when she broke the first promise she'd ever made him?

Stricken, she patted his arm and left to make her rounds.

Napoleon awoke feeling like hell. He hadn't slept well at all and he was sure Illya had something to do with it. Something was wrong with his partner. He couldn't explain how he knew it nor would he want to try. He'd long ago quit questioning the eerie telepathy he seemed to share with his partner. It had saved both of their asses more times than he could count, and he was just superstitious enough not to want to think about the hows or whys. If he did, it might stop and he certainly didn't want that.

Burke turned over and looked across the room at Napoleon's empty bed. Then he saw the outline of the agent silhouetted against the incoming moonlight. He would have tried the sympathetic approach to ask what the man was doing but after the other day he didn't dare talk to him. He turned over and faced the wall instead. Napoleon Solo was a puzzle he wasn't about to tackle again.

The sound of ringing woke both U.N.C.L.E. agents just after six in the morning. Napoleon rubbed his tired eyes and took a deep breath before answering since the wake up call was not scheduled until seven. He reached for the telephone and said, "Hello?" in a sleep deprived raspy voice.

Burke opened one eye and looked over at Napoleon while he listened to the conversation. He gave him the ~who is it?~ expression.

Napoleon nodded back. It was their contact. "Yes. You're where?"

Burke leaned up on one elbow and waited anxious to hear the news.

"10 o'clock. We'll be there." He hung up and met Burke's gaze. "The public library. History section."

Burke glanced at the clock. "I'm going to go shower first," he said and rolled out of bed. "Do you want to order for breakfast or go out?"

"We'll get something and then go watch the building until meeting time. I want to make sure there's no THRUSHies around just in case."

Kopf nodded at Gustav. "I understand where you are coming from, but I'm not sure that I want that course of treatment for this patient."

"Mr. Curry has had a serious violent outburst, and we cannot have that going on. I think he would greatly benefit from the electroshock therapy. It's safe. It's been proven to be non damaging and resulted in some very positive results in numerous patients."

"And to be effective," Kopf responded, "It has to be administered fifteen to twenty times over a period of a couple weeks. I'm sure it would just make him angrier."

"You must do something. I won't have my staff in danger while doing their jobs," Gustav said severely. "It's the most prudent thing to do."

Kopf swallowed hard and then cleared his throat as he thought it over. "I'm sure you're right." In fact to stay under cover like this he would have to placate his friend and go along with his recommendations or draw undue attention to himself. "I'll schedule it for this afternoon."

"Take Morris with you," said the head nurse on the day shift to Nanci Robins.

Nanci scowled at the biggest, strongest orderly in the building before turning back. "I don't really need him to come with me. Mr. Curry won't hurt me."

"I'm sure Grendal thought that last night, too," she replied. "Just before the little bastard attacked her. Take Morris and that's an order."

Nanci sighed but didn't say anything more when Morris fell into step beside her as she made her way to Mr. Curry's room to administer his morning round of treatment. She looked at the covers in disarray in spite of the restraints that prevented anything more than minimum movement and her emotions took over.

She set the tray down on the bedside table and began to organize the covers so the patient, who looked so much like a helpless little boy, would be more comfortable. "Mr. Curry. I'm here with your morning medicine," she announced, avoiding his gaze. "You'll feel a small prick and then it will be all over," she told him kindly. "You'll really feel better when you get through this."

As she picked up her tray and then turned to leave the room a single tear welled up and ran down the side of Illya's face.

April Dancer felt much more refreshed after a good night's sleep. She lay in bed and listened to the music on the radio as she thought of getting up. There was no hurry this morning. She had two free days until she had to be back at U.N.C.L.E.

As she lounged under the covers and looked around her familiar bedroom, she spotted the chocolate on her dresser. A small twinge of guilt ran through her and she supposed she really should take it over to Illya's place. The blond agent was a friend of hers, and she knew the man had very few that he trusted. Keeping her word was important to her, so she rolled out of bed and headed for the shower to start the day.

A glance out the window gave every sign that it was a beautiful day in the city. It would be wonderful weather to spend walking from shop to shop up and down New York's Fifth Avenue. Mark would on occasion grant her his company on such an outing, being the dear that he was, but it was unlikely she could persuade Illya on that kind of excursion. The Russian was more likely to sit at home with one of his magazines or head to the library and go browsing through the rare book section.

As April took her shower, she thought about Illya and their friendship. At first the man seemed withdrawn and totally repelled any kind of interaction with his fellow agents other than when it pertained to an assignment. At first, she felt the same way about him as most of the other people did at U.N.C.L.E.; that he was a repugnant, abrasive, and uncharacteristically emotionless person. Even she couldn't see why Napoleon seemed to get along with, and even odder, like the young foreign agent. It was probably because of her good relationship with Napoleon that she even gave Illya the time of day.

Eventually she seemed to understand him more. The quiet brilliance and cautious nature were so pronounced. She learned to respect that, even admire it. She never pushed friendship on him, and he seemed to take a long time to trust her in the same way but now it was a relationship that would last a lifetime.

"I'm going to get us a map," Napoleon said to Burke as they entered the lobby of the lodging establishment. Then he ignored the other agent as he went to the wall by the counter to check for local maps. He pulled several out to look through them before selecting just the one he thought would suit their needs best. He tossed a nickel onto the counter to pay for it and then walked over to Burke again.

"Haven't you got the car yet?" the senior man asked in irritation.

Burke didn't like the attitude but was afraid to make a comment about it. He took in a tight breath. "I'll get it now. I'll be right back." He swallowed hard and headed outside to bring the car over.

Napoleon felt bad about the tone of his voice but couldn't bring himself to apologize for it. The feelings bothered him. He chewed on his lower lip as he waited for Burke. The longer he was with the man, the more he was beginning to resent him. As an agent of esteem, Napoleon knew better than to let emotion get in the way of an assignment. He just couldn't quite figure out why, if he was such a good agent, number one of Section Two, sought after by almost every woman who saw him, why if he was such a great man, that he felt so empty inside right now. He was trying to ignore his anxiety about Illya and focus on the task at hand.

Burke shook his head as he sat parked in front of Napoleon while the man just stood there. He honked the horn to get his attention. "Are you getting in or what?"

Tossing the map to the seat beside Burke, Napoleon opened the door and then slid into the passenger seat. "I marked the route I want you to take. I want to look around before we head into the library."

Nanci Robins sat at her station staring at the morning reports. A nagging guilt ate away at her. Ian Curry seemed so sad and seemed to be just giving up. He had no family visiting to give him support and encouragement. A simple candy bar and that was the happiest she'd seen him. Maybe the number he gave her for his uncle might be worth calling. If she could get him to visit him, maybe it might cheer him up a little.

She tapped her fingers on the desk. "Now what was that number?" she asked herself quietly. She closed her eyes and thought a few minutes. She had a very good memory for conversation and she ran the one she'd had with Mr. Curry through her mind. Finally her eyes snapped back open. She had it.

Alexander Waverly sat back in his chair, an unusual moment of silence giving him the time to brood about the present situation concerning Mr. Kuryakin. He had to decide just how long he should allow Kopf to keep the Russian half of his top team. Kopf had thought he pulled a fast one by whisking Kuryakin away with a feeble excuse of ordering him to take a vacation. As if Mr. Kuryakin would accept a psychiatrist's orders without protesting to his superior, first. Nor would the difficult Russian go anywhere without going through the proper channels and informing all who needed to know exactly where he would be if he should be needed.

Waverly knew exactly where his agent was and what Kopf was doing. The only reason the psychiatrist was still operating for this organization was because Waverly allowed it. That would change as soon as Kopf finished with his evaluation of Mr. Kuryakin. After all, a psychiatrist who kidnapped one of U.N.C.L.E.'s agents was not one to be trusted, no matter what his motivations.

In the meantime, Waverly would allow the evaluation to continue. After the Italy fiasco, he knew Kuryakin was wobbling in ways that could prove unhealthy for his position with U.N.C.L.E. Oh, he and Mr. Solo completed the assignment with their usual aplomb. Quite satisfactorily.

The problem was Kuryakin's reaction to the mission. The young man just hadn't been the same since his renewed acquaintance with Antonio Vicente. He seemed confused and distracted, both very dangerous emotions for an agent. It could get him, and anyone with him, killed. The relationship between his two top agents was wrong, too. He didn't know exactly what happened between them, but he had the feeling Vicente had something to do with that, although perhaps not everything.

There was something else going on with his Russian agent, and he needed to know what. Time for Kuryakin to finally receive the psychological examination. Kopf solved a major problem by taking the young man to a private facility for an unofficial exam. It would never make it into the Russian's U.N.C.L.E. file. Unless, of course, it was a good outcome, in which case he would include it so those who kept pushing to have one would be appeased.

On the other hand, if it were a bad report, it would never find its way into Kuryakin's personnel file. Kopf would never say anything about it. After all, he had kidnapped Mr. Kuryakin. If he wanted to stay out of prison, the good doctor would remain quiet about his findings.

In many ways it was a win-win situation. There was only one problem. Waverly knew where Kopf took Mr. Kuryakin. He didn't, however, know exactly what Dr. Kopf was doing to his agent.

Waverly sighed. He could only hope his reading of Dr. Kopf was correct. He thought the man to have his patient's best interest at heart. In that respect, Waverly doubted the psychiatrist would do anything to damage his agent. He would just have to let things run their course. If it started to take too long, he would rein in the doctor and force him to release Mr. Kuryakin and report his findings.

Then Waverly planned to send him to the far reaches of the world. He didn't want to fire the man. That would make him a loose end and he didn't care for loose ends. No, it would be better to send the doctor someplace where he would be forgotten by all but himself.

Miranda Meeks sat at her post in Communications monitoring the phone and communicator traffic. She jumped slightly when the phone at her elbow rang. The one with the number the agents gave to the general public.

She cleared her throat and picked up the receiver. "Harcourt Trading Company," she answered, using the pseudonym of the fake company the agents purported to work for. "How may I help you?"

"Um, hello? My name is Nanci Robins. I'm a nurse with the Sleepy Hollow Medical Center and I'm calling on behalf of a Mr. Ian Curry. I believe his uncle may work for you."

Miranda frowned. She didn't know of an Ian Curry but since the woman said the magic word of "uncle" she assumed it was just an alias of one of the agents. Still it would help if she knew exactly which one this was about. "Do you know the name of his uncle?"

"Well, no." Nanci's heart sunk. Of course she didn't know Mr. Curry. It had all been the ranting of a delusional man. "I'm sorry. Mr. Curry is in a psychiatric wing of the hospital. I should have realized he didn't know what he was talking about." She laughed self-consciously. "After all, he believes he's a Russian spy."

Nanci heard a gasp on the other side of the line. "I'll transfer to Mr. Waverly. Please hold." The line went into "hold" void. Maybe Mr. Curry wasn't completely delusional. The woman who answered the phone seemed to know who he was.

"This is Alexander Waverly. What may I do for you, Miss Robins?" came the gruff voice of what sounded like an Englishman.

She sighed with relief. Mr. Curry sounded English, too, so this must really be his uncle. "Hello, Mr. Waverly. I'm a nurse at the Sleepy Hollow Medical Center. I'm calling on behalf of your nephew, Mr. Ian Curry."

"Yes, yes, so I'm told. How is the young man?"

"He's, well, things aren't going too well. He's caused a bit of a stir."


"Well, um, he attacked another nurse and a number of orderlies."

"He caused no permanent damage, I hope?" The man's tone sounded like a mixture of concern and amusement.

"Well, no. At least, I don't think so. They're having to restrain him, now, and I'm afraid he's very unhappy about it."

"I don't doubt. Our Mr. Curry has never enjoyed being tied down."

She glanced at the phone in mute surprise. She put the handset to her ear again. "I don't suppose anyone does."

"Harrumph! You're right, of course. What can I do for you, Miss Robins?"

"I was thinking a visit from a family member might cheer him up and possibly calm him down."

Her heart sunk as dead silence met her suggestion. Poor Ian . . . Mr. Curry. He had no one in his corner. No wonder he had to make up a life that would give him a reason to be alone. "I'm sorry," she said, unable and, frankly, unwilling to keep her disapproval out of her voice. "I'll not bother you again."

"Please don't hang up, Miss Robins. I'd like to discuss this further. Perhaps I could buy you dinner this evening?"

"Er, dinner?"

"Yes. There are reasons I cannot visit poor Ian myself. I would like to explain the situation to you if you would let me. I prefer not to go into it over the phone, however."

"Oh. Well." Nanci thought about it. Normally she would never get this involved with a patient. There was just something about Mr. Curry that made her want to do anything to help him. Sure, Nanci. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with those mesmerizing blue eyes.

No. It was something else. Well, perhaps the eyes, too, but something more. He was a man in a vulnerable situation yet he projected the least vulnerability of any man she'd ever met. She had the sneaking suspicion he would not ask for help even if he needed it.

"Miss Robins?" Mr. Waverly prompted when she'd remained silent too long.

Nanci set her shoulders. She would have to help Mr. Curry despite himself. "Yes, sir, I'm still here. There's a nice little caf not too far from the hospital. Perhaps we could meet there?"

"I was thinking more along the lines of Chateau Jacques. I could send a car to your home to pick you up."

Nanci raised an eyebrow in surprise then chastised herself. Sleepy Hollow was a private hospital and a relatively exclusive one. Of course, Mr. Curry came from money.

Still, she didn't feel comfortable taking a ride from a stranger. "I could meet you there."

"If you prefer. What time does your shift end?"

"Four o'clock. I could be there around sevenish."

"I shall make the reservations for seven. I'll see you then, Miss Robins."

"Yes, sir. Oh, and thank you."

"For what?"

"For caring about someone who can't care for himself."

A hesitation, then, "Humph! Yes, my dear. Quite."

If she didn't know better, she'd have thought he sounded amused.

"There it is," Burke pointed out as they turned the corner to view the library building. They scanned the road and buildings across the way. It was just a normal street from all appearances. They drove around the block a couple of times, not only looking for THRUSHies but also a suitable parking place. After a brief haggle between them, they decided to follow Napoleon's suggestion and park across the street from the library.

"Come on," Napoleon said buttoning his coat as he got out of the car. "Let's make this fast." He felt awkward saying such a thing, but he was more interested in getting back to New York than in sitting around in Maine.

Burke held his tongue. Every time Napoleon Solo opened his mouth lately it was just to knock him back a peg or two. Burke was so angry now even if Solo smiled, it was taken as an insult. "How will we know our contact?"

"Mature lady with a green bow in her hair," Napoleon said. "She'll be in the nature section of the library."

"I'll go on ahead and scout the room," Burke offered.

Napoleon nodded. He was happier with some distance between them. They diverged at the entrance, and Napoleon browsed the reception area while Burke headed toward the back. The place was not terribly busy and no one looked suspicious except for the kid in the red and white striped shirt reading an advanced physics journal.

Penelope Pembroke glanced around warily as she waited for her contacts. The seventy-three year old woman considered herself extremely patriotic and thought it her duty to keep her country safe. The article on U.N.C.L.E. warning the people of THRUSH's evil intentions spoke to her heart and immediately spurred her on to gather all the information she could on them. No doubt her report on the local THRUSH activities would earn her a presidential medal.

Shiftily, she looked up and down the aisle for the man who would be meeting with her. In fact the thought of meeting up with a well-dressed man such as he described himself was quite thrilling to her. She might even invite him to the next church supper if he was going to be around long enough.

Burke entered the last aisle in the nature area after a thorough tour of the whole library. Feeling comfortable, he signaled Napoleon of the all clear and took up a guard position at the intersection of the shelves where he had an open view of the doorways.

Napoleon strolled up to the elderly woman in her garish 50s garb. "Excuse me. Might you perhaps be Miss Penelope Pembroke?"

The old woman smiled back. "Why yes. And who might you be my young man?"

Taking out his ID folder he showed her his U.N.C.L.E. identification.

She squinted and pulled his hand closer to see. "That doesn't look like you."

He withdrew it to see what she was looking at. "That's the seal. This is my picture," he said pointing it out.

She looked again. "Oh, yes. Now I see. You're quite a good looking man. I had a son who looked much like you quite a few years ago but he was taken from us in an auto accident. Sometimes I think we'd have been better off still riding the old horse and buggies. You remember those don't you?" she asked.

"Yes, ma'am," he said wondering why she was talking about horses and carts. "Perhaps we can get to the reason we were sent to meet with you."

"Of course. I'm a patriotic woman. My late husband gave his life for this country, and he expected the rest of the family to be as proud of this land and our way of life as he was. In fact, Fred, bless his dear departed soul,... you know. I miss him to this very day. You would have liked him if you could have met him. Everyone did. Absolutely everybody. And he was so helpful. Why he helped build the new church spire that long weekend. He was in carpentry you know. I remember this one time...."

"Please ma'am," Napoleon said cutting her off. "Let's take a seat at a table and you can tell us what you know about THRUSH," he suggested to get her back on track.

She put her book back on the shelf. "I'd be delighted. You'll find I am very knowledgeable."

He extended his arm to walk her to the table, not only to be polite but to keep her from tripping him up with her cane.

Burke was satisfied there was nothing amiss in the library and joined them. "Get anything good yet?" he asked.

Napoleon silenced him with a glare. "Now if we could, ma'am. THRUSH?"

"Thrush. Yes." She smiled at Burke. "But we haven't been introduced yet. I'm Penelope Pembroke. And you are?"

"Burke," he replied and reached across to shake her hand politely. "Paul Burke. Pleased to me..."

"Yes, yes, yes," interrupted Napoleon. "Now that we've all met, may we please get to the reason why we are here. We are needed back in New York right away," he said, a little irritated trying to keep the conversation on track so he could get back and find out what was going on with Illya.

Burke fell silent again.

"Miss," Napoleon began.

"Mrs.," the woman corrected him.

"Mrs. Pembroke," he repeated gritting his teeth and smiling. "Now about THRUSH?"

"Thrush." She took a deep breath. "I would think the government would have experts in the field, but I've been studying Thrush for a long time. They are plump, soft-plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. They range in size from the Forest Rock Thrush (Monticola sharpei), at 21 grams and 14.5 cm (5.8 inches), to the Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus), at 178 grams (6.3 oz) and 33 cm (13 inches). The songs of some species, including members of the genera Catharus, Myadestes, and Turdus, are considered to be among the most beautiful in the avian world."

Burke sat there clueless.

Napoleon wore a blank expression for a few seconds as Penelope looked back and forth between them. "Ma'am," he said unsure of whether he should be angry or pleased about this apparent misunderstanding. "Are you talking about birds?"

"The government requested all the information they could get and encouraged the public to help. As a patriotic American who believes in this country, I believe it is my duty to provide every assisstance I can."

Napoleon held his anger in. This sweet little old lady had brought them out on a wild... THRUSH... chase and wasted valuable time that he spent fretting over Illya. To his credit he took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Thank you for your concern, Mrs. Pembroke," he stated as he stood up. "We appreciate your interest and patriotism, but we have already received that information. I'm afraid we have to be going."

Burke stood up to follow Napoleon out. "But what about THRU...?" He finally got it. "Oh....yeah."

April knocked on Illya's door for a fifth time. It would be unusual for the man to sleep late, but then again she didn't know how he liked to spend a vacation. She'd never seen him take one before.

She tried one more time and then shrugged in defeat and left. For all she knew, he actually went out of town. Last time he and Napoleon took a holiday together they went to Rome, so it was not unheard of for Illya to go somewhere. A loner such as him would think nothing of doing such a thing by himself.

She headed into work. She would just drop the chocolates off on his desk. It would make a nice welcome home gift when he returned.

Illya's nerves and infamous control threatened to fray as one of the big orderlies wheeled him through the corridors of the hospital. He knew what they planned to do. Electroshock. Just the term was enough to send chills of fear up his spine as though the fingers of Death himself caressed him.

How could Kopf let this happen? Even if Waverly ordered a psych exam, he surely didn't authorize such a barbaric procedure! The head of U.N.C.L.E. North America categorically refused to allow the practice within the gunmetal gray walls of U.N.C.L.E. Every time a psychiatrist requested to use the treatment on an agent, Waverly always said no.

As gruff as Alexander Waverly pretended to be, and even though he considered his agents as expendable within the confines of a mission, he was highly protective of the Section Two operatives. He told any psychiatrist who requested to use the treatment that the Section Two agents suffered that indignity at the hands of THRUSH enough without being required to suffer it at the hands of an organization he works for and is supposed to trust.

This type of thinking was one reason the Enforcement agents tended to be highly loyal to Alexander Waverly. No matter how expendable he said the operatives were, in the end, he did his utmost to protect them.

Illya watched the overhead fluorescent lights flash by one by one as they moved him down the hall. Each turn of a corner seemed to bring them into a more isolated area of the hospital. A trip in the elevator let him know they were taking him down. In his experience, down was never good.

His heart pounded as fear tore at him in an effort to work its way into the full-blown frenzy of panic. He held himself in check as much as possible, but the drugs they'd pumped into him just before transferring him to this gurney tended to strip him of his ability to control his emotions. The fight to do so only added to his overall sense of terror.

None of this-the drugs, the restraints, even the electroshock-was anything he hadn't experienced on the receiving end of THRUSH hospitality. On the contrary, it happened with shocking, if he might use the pun, regularity. So why did this time seem to disturb him so much more? It hit him with sudden clarity. There was a difference between being put through this horror when in the hands of an enemy from when it comes from an organization one not only served, but trusted.

The last time he felt this level of fear he was twelve and a State experiment concerning the feasibility of training children for life as a KGB agent. Major Alexei Andreov had taken him for a walk, something he did whenever he wanted to talk to Illya privately. They strolled the cold grounds of the KGB training facility, and he listened while his Uncle Alexei warned him of the planned nightmare Sarkov had in store for him.

Alexei had warned him about this little excursion. Risked his life to do so. Sarkov had wanted this trip into hell to be a complete surprise to his young guinea pig. Wanted Illya taken by surprise and thus be unprepared for what was to come.

As he always did when he wanted to talk to Illya in private, Alexei took his young charge for a walk in the fresh, cold air. "He's going to hand you over to the KGB psychiatrists in Lubyanka, Illyusha," Alexei had explained.

"Why? Does he think I'm insane?"

"No. He wants to see just how resilient your mind is. Test how well you hold up to torture."

Illya blinked in confusion. "What do psychiatrists have to do with torture?"

Alexei laughed bitterly. "Ah, little one, psychiatrists make the best torturers. They not only know how to inflict pain; they know how to do so while also causing the most psychological damage."

Understanding blossomed in the twelve-year-old's mind. "This is why you taught me how to mentally remove myself from a situation."

Alexei nodded and smiled sadly. "I knew this day would come. I was just hoping it would be when you were a little older. I tried to convince the Premier we should hold off for a year or two, but Sarkov managed to shoot down my objections. They will be taking you to Lubyanka tomorrow morning."

"I thought you were just teaching me that so I could go away during one of Sarkov's lectures or an especially tedious lesson."

Alexei snorted in an amusement Illya knew to be false. "Those were certainly good practice." He stopped and turned to Illya, squatting down so he could look directly into his eyes. He grasped the thin shoulders. "This will be the real thing, Illya. Use all you've learned about the technique. Don't let them break you."

Illya shivered although he didn't really feel the cold. "Surely Sarkov will make them stop if it gets to be too much. He doesn't want to lose me now, does he? He's put so much into my training."

"Yes, but he believes, and so do our superiors, that it would be a waste of the State's money if they spent any more on your training and education if you are unable to withstand interrogation by an enemy. Illya, an enemy would not stop just because you can't handle it. On the contrary. He would cause you even more pain in the hopes you will not be able to hold out any longer.

Illya took a deep breath and held his mentor's gaze. "I will not break, Comrade Major. I would rather die than give Sarkov that satisfaction."

Alexei's smile was genuine. "I have faith in you, my boy. You will come back alive and spitting vile curses about Comrade Colonel's family."

Illya grinned. "Yes, but please don't tell Mama Anna," he said in a low tone. "She would punish me for saying such things."

Andreov had to laugh. If Illya survived the next few days, any punishment Illya's foster mother might mete out would be like a picnic in the mountains. He slapped Illya's shoulder and stood up. "I won't tell if you don't."

He escorted Illya back to his room. "I also won't tell my sister about this, either," he said as he handed two bars of chocolate to the boy. He patted him on the head and left.

Illya stared at the chocolate. Two bars. Two! Suddenly he was very afraid. More afraid, even, then he was the day the Germans rounded them up and he stood in a line waiting to be shot and dropped into a ditch. That, at least, would have been over quickly. From what he gathered from Uncle Alexei, this would be much, much worse.

He sat down and stared at his chocolate. He normally would tear into it and gobble it up immediately. At the moment he had no appetite. Even so, he unwrapped the first bar and slowly ate it. Maybe he could use the memory of the sweet, creamy candy to help him take his mind away from what the KGB psychiatrists would be doing to him.

The elevator stopped and the orderly wheeled him to the right into a gloomy hallway where no natural light invaded. Overhead strips of artificial light threw splotches of dim illuminations into the dark corridor. As the drugs took hold, the strobe-like effect of being pushed through the alternating areas of light and dark dredged up the memory of a similar type of corridor.

Or was it a memory? Was this actually happening now and his twelve-year-old mind was conjuring up dreams of how he thought he would be as a thirty-two-year-old? His mind flashed back and forth between the two realities-two memories? two dreams?-until they merged into one nightmare.

The very thought of the Lubyanka, the stronghold of the KGB, struck terror into the heart of any Soviet citizen. Strapped to a gurney and being pushed through the halls of the Lubylanka was enough to make an adult man want to cry much less a twelve-year-old boy. Illya didn't cry, though. He'd lost the ability long ago when he looked into the lifeless eyes of his brother while they lay in a ravine filled with the rest of the dead.

Not that he would have cried in this situation, anyway. That would only serve to please Sarkov—a situation he worked hard to avoid-and disappoint Uncle Alex-something he worked equally hard to avoid. Was Uncle Alex right? Or Uncle Alexei? Which was it? Not . . . sure.

The gurney stopped in a room with dim lighting. Illya's breath quickened as he turned his head to look at a bed festooned with straps. Beside it sat a squat box bristling with knobs, meters, and wires ending in little suction discs. A mechanical Man O' War with a sting far more agonizing than the real thing.

Napoleon muttered to himself at the uncooperative traffic on the way back to their hotel room. He wanted to get their stuff and check out right away.

"Mr. Solo," Burke said. "It's not their fault. There's a traffic accident up ahead. You'll have to get off this road and go around." he looked around for a way through to the next cross street. "There." He pointed. "That gas station."

After checking the road for other irritated drivers, Napoleon turned the wheel and cut off another vehicle to dash across taking the fast way out of the snarled traffic. Horns blared and hands waved impolite gestures, but Napoleon didn't care since he was moving toward his destination again.

Burke just closed his eyes and held on for dear life. It was several seconds before he had the courage to look around again. "Are we home yet, mommy?" he joked badly. He received a nasty glare in return.

Five minutes later they were safely back at their room to pack. Burke felt like he was with a whirling dervish the way Napoleon dashed from place to place packing at record speed. In the end Napoleon was throwing his bags into the trunk while he still had half his packing to do. He had to throw the last of his things into the case while Napoleon paid for the room, and even then he barely made it in time to shove the suitcase in the back seat. After they got into the car, the door was shut by the mere momentum of Napoleon speeding out of the parking lot.

"Where's the fire, man?" Burke said as he tugged on his seat belt.

"I want to be back in New York tonight," Napoleon replied with a determined edge to his voice. "I hope you peed before we left."

Illya felt as though he watched the proceedings from underwater. People in white coats and false smiles hung over him, their countenances blurred and distorted. Their faces melted into each other and then snapped back into place before melting the other direction.

Cold hands picked him up from the gurney and transferred him to the frigid table. The tentacles of the mechanical jellyfish hung over him, ready to reach out and burn him with their painful sting.

He was terrified but tried hard not to show it. Frantically he attempted to implement the technique Uncle Alexei taught him. Although he'd practiced it daily, he had not yet had a chance to use it in a real scenario.

"Yes I have!" screamed an agitated voice that he felt was his own, but sounded much older. "I've had to do it many times! Both at the hands of my enemies and from what was supposed to be friendly sources such as that time at the Lubyanka and now from Dr. Kopf." The voice was insistent and authoritative.

What, or who, was this voice inside his head? And who was Kopf? A German? There was a German doctor working with the KGB? Boyzhe moi! Germans were even better at torture than KGB!

True terror shot through him at the thought of being in the hands of Germans once again. Memories of Baba Yar were not so old he had forgotten them, nor regulate them to his mind dungeons yet.

"Yes, they are!" insisted that voice again. "I buried them years ago!"

Illya tried to shake the voice out of his head but found he couldn't move. His head was strapped firmly to the table.

A pinch-faced woman in a nurse's outfit-but, wait. That didn't look right. Lubyanka "nurses" didn't dress quite like that. As a matter of fact, this place didn't quite look like it should.

Soft fingers took hold of his hand. Wild-eyed, he stared at the pretty nurse stroking his hand comfortingly. He glanced at the woman the fingers belonged to and he felt a thrill of recognition.

The squirt of cold gel on his temples ended any thought he had of trying to figure out who the kind woman was. Panic set in as she attached the suction cups of the mechanical horror's tentacles. "No!" he moaned, surprised to hear the voice from his mind coming out of his mouth. While his mouth was opened in protest, a large piece of rubber was slid between his lips. Before he could spit it out the pinch-faced woman slammed his mouth shut.

He needed to pull his mind away! Go someplace else like Alexei taught him!

"Don't be afraid, Mr. Curry. I'll be right here with you," said the kind nurse. She released his fingers and stepped back.

No! No! No! No!

"Clear!" the man at the control panel ordered.

Can't remember how to do it! Can't remember! Can't remember!

"Yes, you can!"

Just as the jolting bite of the electricity tore into him, he yanked his mind away, using the technique Alexei had taught him, the same one he'd used many times since that first time in a dark, hidden room of the Lubyanka so many years ago.

Blue cape over her shoulders and crisp white cap on her head,. Waverly would have known her even without looking up her photo and background in the computers at U.N.C.L.E. As she looked around in the small restaurant, he stood up and indicated his presence so she would know where he was.

The waiter pulled out a seat for her across from him. They both sat down and introduced themselves.

"Mr. Waverly. How do you do. I'm Nanci Robins from Sleepy Hollow," she explained using the shortened generic name for the psychiatric facility. "I'm so glad you're taking an interest in your nephew. I didn't know who else to call."

"That's quite all right, young lady," he said with his impeccable gentlemanly manners. "My.. er... nephew is of great concern to me. I do hope he's receiving good care during his stay with you."

She nodded and accepted the glass of wine he poured for her since her shift was over. "The hospital has a good reputation."

"Yes. I checked it out personally not long ago," he admitted. It was in an unofficial capacity though. "How is the young man doing?"

She sighed not sure what to say. It was really the doctor's place to give the family updates but at the same time she was here and the patient's welfare was of utmost concern to her. "He was showing signs of good progress, but he had a violent outburst the other night. I'm afraid he injured a couple of orderlies and a nurse."

Waverly raised his eyebrows and listened with interest.

"They had to sedate him and this afternoon he had a shock treatment."

Bushy eyebrows shot up in alarm. "Shock treatment? That's a bit harsh." His face darkened. "I would have thought Dr. Kopf would have known better than to expose Mr., er, my nephew to such a barbaric procedure."

"No! Oh, no, sir, you don't understand," Nanci protested. "Shock treatment is a very viable and accepted form of treatment. It's highly effective in cases with violent tendencies. I think it helped your nephew a lot. He was much calmer when I left today," she informed him. "I called you because I think he's suffering from some depression. I think he could use some family support. Perhaps if you came to visit..." She was cut off in mid sentence when he interrupted.

"I'm afraid that is impossible at the moment. It's difficult to explain, though."

She felt let down. "Well someone else then? Maybe a sibling or your wife?" she suggested.

"The lad is... estranged," he decided to tell her. "From all family but myself. I just think it is in his best interest to get some help first. I do want to be informed on his progress, though. You did say things were going well... apart from this one incident?" he inquired.

Again she nodded. "Yes. Dr. Kopf was pleased with the sessions and had even allowed him out of his room to the lounge." A smile played over her face remembering how good she felt about that time. "I really thought he was getting better although it seemed rather fast. Setbacks are normal. In fact, they happen often just before a breakthrough. I suppose it is still too early to hope for something like that, though."

Waverly nodded and calmly accepted all she was telling him. "And you say this Dr. Kopf is treating him well?"

"I was surprised that he was taking such a personal interest in this case. Even more so than other patients he's seen there." That did please her too. The human touch was lacking in the doctors these days.

"Miss Robins. I'd like to be kept up to date on my nephew's progress. I will speak to Dr. Kopf, but I'd really like to hear from you again. If I give you my private number," he asked taking out a card from his breast pocket, "Would you call me daily to apprise me of his condition?"

She took the card offered and smiled warmly at the man. "Yes. I will."

"And call me if he seems in any danger at all." He didn't specify what kind of danger for he didn't know himself what kind there would be. Dr. Kopf was well respected and highly qualified or the U.N.C.L.E. would not have screened and accepted him. He didn't believe the man would attempt to take Kuryakin's life at all, but if his agent was really going to break down under the analysis it was something Waverly needed to know. "I will try to make plans to come and see him sometime."

Nanci's mind felt much more at ease with the word of the elder gentleman. His warm voice and polite even tone gave her such a warm feeling. "I'm just so glad to know someone in his family cares for Mr. Curry. You just don't know how many times families will just seem to disown one of their own when they find out they have a mental disorder. There are times when it just breaks my heart."

"It's nice to know there are young women such as yourself to look after people like my nephew," Waverly complimented her. "Shall we order now?" he asked.

At home later that evening, Nanci bathed before going to bed. Relaxing in the tub she thought back on the pleasant, kind gentleman she'd met at dinner. His manners and charm were impeccable. It gave her such comfort to know he wanted to take a keen interest in his nephew. He just had to be a nice man because of the way he saw to her cab and paid for it.

As Nanci rested in the hot water, she thought of how it should please Mr. Curry to know his uncle was worried about him. She would tell him in the morning when he was lucid enough to understand what she had to say. Perhaps that would alleviate some of the sadness behind those blue eyes of his. Those beautiful blue eyes that had melted their way into her heart.

It was dark and raining heavily as Napoleon's sedan entered the city limits. Traffic grew more congested as they got nearer their destination.

Burke crossed his legs and found every bump and pothole pure torture as his bladder threatened to burst. He kept telling himself just a few more minutes to go. Just make it down one more block. Just one more. He braced himself for the road construction he saw up ahead. "Can't you slow down a little? Watch out for the flagman."

Napoleon scowled at him as his disposition grew worse. "I know how to drive for god's sake."

He ignored Burke the last three blocks to the U.N.C.L.E. garage. Once they arrived, he did allow himself a perverse moment of pleasure at seeing the man bend over in pain and rush to the men's room. He thought about how Illya would have loved it.

After logging the car back in, Napoleon went to his office to see if Illya left any messages. He saw the box of chocolates on his desk and looked at the note along side of it. It was apparent that April and Mark were back from Europe.

Next he went to his desk and checked the phone for messages. They were nothing but the same old thing. When are you going to call me? Did you forget about our date? It seemed half the secretarial pool had called but nothing from Illya.

At home relaxing in his library, Alexander Waverly lit a pipe and sat down with a thick folder to study its contents. It was every document pertaining to the life and career of Dr. Hermann Kopf. To most people it would have been a dull read. To him it was extremely impressive. Prestigious schools. Numerous awards. Groundbreaking research.

Waverly did not doubt that Kopf was a talented and dedicated psychiatrist who had nothing but the best interests of his patients at heart. He felt certain of his own decisions in letting Kopf think he was getting away with his plans as well. Even so, he felt relieved he now had someone on the inside. A spy, so to speak. He smiled a little. His young protégés weren't the only ones who knew how to make use of a convenient, well-placed innocent.

His smile faltered when he thought about what game he played. A dangerous one, no doubt. He toyed with an agent's life. Not a first for him, nor would it be the last. He particularly hated this game, though, because it required him to go against a promise.

He sat back and thought about the day he first met Illya Kuryakin. He remembered the contradiction between the file he'd read and the young man who had stood in front of him. The file stated Kuryakin just turned twenty-three. Waverly didn't remember the picture in the dossier making him look quite as young as he appeared on that first day. Longish blond hair with the bangs so many of the "flower children" of today favored. Skinny. Did the man eat? Delicate features. If he saw this man walking down the street, Waverly would have put his age at about seventeen. Eighteen at most.

Then he locked gazes with the Russian and knew instantly why the picture he'd seen made him seem older. For a fleeting moment, Waverly saw a lifetime of suffering, pain, and sorrow in the blue eyes. Then they hardened. Became as cold and unforgiving as the country that spawned him. The eyes of an old man.

At that moment, Waverly knew he had a gold mine. Kuryakin possessed an impressive intellect, lightning reflexes, intimate knowledge of the best ways to kill a man with and without a weapon, fluency in a number of languages, and a large spectrum of knowledge spanning the sciences and the arts. He had the physique, the stamina, and the prowess of a young man in his prime, but the experience of a seasoned vet. A gold mine, indeed. One that he needed to protect as one would be expected when one hit the mother lode.

As with all good things, there was a flaw. A major one. Illya Kuryakin's upbringing was not exactly conducive in forming a completely stable personality. He wasn't crazy. Far from it. Devious, calculating, and almost frighteningly ruthless. But not crazy.

Unfortunately, he wasn't completely stable, either. His background produced a man who acted more like a machine than a human being. A perfect type of agent for some organizations, but not this one.

Luckily for him, he was the main recruiter for the U.N.C.L.E. His excellent judge in people had earned him that as one of his jobs as a Section One. The other men in Section One could recommend a recruit, but he had the final say-so on the subject.

"Your, uh, harrumph, record is an impressive one, Mr. Kuryakin," he'd said on that cold, snowy day so long ago.

"Yes, sir."

Waverly regarded his new acquisition but saw no smugness there. The man merely spoke what he believed to be the truth. Hmph. Waverly wasn't sure whether to consider it hubris or just extreme confidence. He decided it was most likely a touch of both. Not a bad thing, really.

He opened a folder on the desk in front of him and read over it yet again. It didn't tell him everything he knew about this agent. If he had his way about it, it never would. He put the file down onto the rotating table and wheeled it around until the folder was in front of the blond agent. "Your file. Perhaps you'd like to look through it."

Kuryakin's eyebrows knit together in puzzlement, but he picked up the dossier and flipped it open. He perused it quickly and snapped it shut. "It is incomplete."

Waverly nodded. "I've been in contact with a Mr. Andreov."

Kuryakin shifted slightly but otherwise remained still. He displayed no other signs of nervousness.

Impressive in one so young. "That file there," Waverly went on, indicating the folder in front of the former KGB officer, "is your official file. It is the one that will go on record with the U.N.C.L.E. It is, as you say, incomplete." He picked up another folder and held it aloft. "This one, however, is not. It contains details about your KGB training. Nothing classified, of course, but that, along with some of what Major Andreov was able to tell me, gives me a relatively complete picture. Unfortunately, the psychological profile in it is unacceptable."

Kuryakin froze, looking for all the world like a deer stuck in the headlights. Waverly took pity on the boy and waved away his fears. "Not to worry, young man. Those KGB psychiatrists aren't the best source of information. I will be sending you to another one and see what he has to say."

The Russian looked him square in the eyes. "I'm not sure the KGB doctors were really so off the mark."

Waverly raised a bushy eyebrow. "Oh? And why do you say that?"

"Since I haven't seen the...unofficial...file, I'm not sure how much you know about my background. They tried to...I've done..." He sighed. "It wasn't conducive to good mental health."

Waverly regarded him for a few minutes. "A good psychological exam is a must."

Fear flashed through the young man's blue eyes, which made Waverly sit up and take notice. That was the one thing he never expected to see from this unemotional man. "You have a problem with psychiatrists?"

Kuryakin hesitated then began to talk. The story he told made the hairs rise on the back of Waverly's neck. An exam was indeed necessary, but it could not be done by an U.N.C.L.E. doctor. Instead he sent Kuryakin to an independent psychiatrist. Waverly was the only one other than Kuryakin to see the results.

The evaluation didn't come back listing the Russian as unacceptably unstable, a fact Waverly found astonishing considering the man's background. Even so, there were a few irregularities that some of the others in Section One would feel disqualified Mr. Kuryakin for employ with the U.N.C.L.E.

Waverly refused to lose the highly trained agent just because of a few little idiosyncrasies. The psychiatrist determined Mr. Kuryakin would be able to keep the irregularities in check. Waverly believed the young man to be devious enough to pass any basic psych exam. Anything more in-depth could not be done without his express permission. Every U.N.C.L.E. psychiatrist had requested such an evaluation. Every one of them got turned down.

Unfortunately he paid for that policy now. They both did. Kuryakin's recent erratic behavior made it necessary for Kopf to do that evaluation. Waverly had hated to let Kopf steal his agent away and whisk him to that hospital. He had no choice.

A closer look into Kuryakin's emotional and psychological state was a must. An official exam couldn't be done, so this kidnapping was a necessary evil. He hated to do it, but it wasn't the first time he'd had to do something he found personally heinous and distasteful. He highly doubted it would be the last.

Napoleon arrived at Illya's apartment late. The lights were out and it appeared even the landlady was long gone to bed. He looked farther up and saw Illya's place as dark as the rest of them. Perhaps he was back and sound asleep. Napoleon tried to tell himself that but held out little hope that it was true.

Nothing would get done from down on the sidewalk, so Napoleon went up the six steps to the front doors and tried the knob. It was unlocked as he suspected, and he pulled it open quietly so as not to disturb the people that lived inside. He breathed his first sigh of relief in that he wouldn't have to wake Illya's landlady. Not always the most pleasant woman to deal with.

Napoleon took the stairs up the four flights to Illya's floor; it remained quiet and would have seemed totally abandoned if not for the television playing in one of the second floor suites. He checked his watch. The inevitable static would start soon when the station signed off. When he reached the third floor, a small dog began to bark in one of the apartments. Perhaps it was his footsteps that triggered the barking, but someone yelled out at the animal and then something thudded against the inside of the door and the dog shut up.

The forth floor was quiet. Regardless of how peaceful the place seemed to be, Napoleon moved with caution. Illya's apartment was at the end of the hall. A gut feeling told the CEA that Illya wasn't in it.

Napoleon walked up to the door and tested the doorknob. Locked. That was no surprise. He pulled out his key and inserted it into the lock. The small click told him that the key still worked. He pushed the hidden panel that released the special latch Illya installed to actually open the door as he turned the knob. There was no resistance. He pushed the door open and slipped inside prepared to enter the code to deactivate the alarm, but as he reached for it he noticed the first strange thing. It hadn't been activated to start with.

Alert now because Illya always kept the alarm on, Napoleon turned to look through the place. It was typically Illya. Minimal. Less than ideally comfortable, but in that meager setting it was easy to spot things out of place. Napoleon turned on the light and scanned the room from the door.

"Illya?" he called out lightly and then after a few seconds he called again, only louder. "Illya!" No response came. Were Illya home he would have woken in milliseconds.

Napoleon walked in and looked around closely. The magazines his partner read voraciously were out of date and still lying on the table by his chair. Illya's jacket rested across the back of the same chair where it was usually tossed once he was home. Any normal person wouldn't have thought anything of that, but Illya was not a slob and Napoleon knew the ridged upbringing made Illya meticulous about putting things away. As he walked around the sofa to the other side of the room, a small plastic object rolled away from his foot and under the furniture.

Stopping, Napoleon listened to pinpoint where the object rolled and then he got down on one knee to look under the corner of the couch. He reached in to pick up the thing and then stood up once more. He turned the thing over in his fingers; it appeared to be long, slender, slightly rounded on the tip, and then he knew what it was. The protective cap from a syringe. This could mean Illya was drugged and possibly kidnapped. Not on vacation as Waverly told him.

Napoleon pocketed the cap intent on taking it in for analysis to see just what had been in that needle. He grimaced at the thought it might actually be poison. Could someone have killed his partner?... NO! Illya was alive! Napoleon had to believe in that thought and somehow find and bring the Russian back. Even if it was the KGB themselves who had done this, Napoleon was going to save Illya. Save HIS Illya.

Napoleon headed back to U.N.C.L.E. and pulled out his communicator. "Open Channel D. Relay to Waverly and I don't care if you have to wake him at home," he said since he knew the time was near 2 a.m.

"Mr. Solo," the male voice at the other end said. "Do you know what time it is?"

"Of course I know the damned time," he snapped back. "Just do it."

About two minutes later Waverly's sleepy voice yawned at the other end of the line. "Mr. Solo. What is so important you had to call me at this hour?" he demanded to know. "I thought you were on your way back from Maine."

"We were. We're back," Napoleon reported.

"Back already?" Waverly said and looked at the clock and then to confirm it he picked up his watch and checked that as well. "I thought you signed out a car. Did you fly back?"

"Uh... No sir. We drove. Traffic was light," he said exaggerating the truth.

"I see," Waverly replied not believing that for a second. "Well, that still brings me back to the question of why you are calling me in the middle of the night, Mr. Solo. You should have worked on your report and gone home."

"I went over to Illya's, sir." Napoleon turned a sharp corner. "I suspect he's been kidnapped."

Waverly paused. "He's taken a vacation. What makes you think he's been kidnapped?"

"Sir, the alarm in his apartment was not activated and his jacket was not put away. None of that is like Illya. Also, I found a cap to a syringe which leads me to believe he was drugged and kidnapped."

"I see." Waverly thought quickly. He would not be able to convince Solo his instincts were wrong. Solo's instincts were seldom wrong and the man knew it, especially when it involved his partner. While Waverly couldn't lie to his agent, he could definitely misdirect him. "I suggest you look into your partner's possible disappearance, Mr. Solo."

Solo's eyes widened slightly. "Yes, sir. I'll do that." He left with determination in his step and a smile of relief on his face.

Dark here. Quiet. Safe. He remained silent and motionless, hiding from those seeking to harm him. It reminded him of the place where he, Vanya, and Katya used to hide from the Nazis and others who might want to hurt them. They would squeeze together in the space under the floorboards of the house, trying not to breathe, not to make any kind of noise. Even after half the house had been blown away by a bomb, the tiny place had remained intact.

The three of them made use of it often. A scary place. Shadows passing across the floor above them. The clomp of boots. Frightening, yes, but also safe. No one ever found them there.

When Alexei taught him to find a safe place to take his mind during torture, he found a place like that space beneath the floor. The psychiatrists-the torturers-would never find him here. Until he felt it safe to re-emerge, here he would stay.

"Has Mr., Mr. Curry shown any signs of coming out of this catatonic state?" Kopf asked as he nervously shined a light into Kuryakin's unresponsive eyes.

"Not yet, Doctor," the worried nurse said. Kopf couldn't remember her name. Right now, he was so afraid he was surprised he could remember his own name. He believed he could have talked his way out of trouble with Mr. Waverly for kidnapping his agent, especially if Kuryakin's mental health improved as a result of his treatment.

Damaging an agent of U.N.C.L.E. beyond repair was another, much grimmer story. If he were lucky, it would only result in his dismissal. More likely it would get him a nice room with bars and no view in some prison. Another possibility, although he felt it a slim one, was a bullet in the brain. That he didn't think would come unless Solo managed to slip one by Waverly.

"It's unusual for a patient to stay catatonic for this long after a shock treatment," the nurse commented, her concern evident in her voice.

"I'm not too worried about it." Like hell he wasn't, but he had no intention of letting the young woman know it. "Nurse, um . . ." He looked at her questioningly.

"Robins," she supplied.

He smiled. "Of course. I'm sorry. Nurse Robins, could you please get me some smelling salts? Let's see if we can pull him out of this."

"Yes, sir," she said in relief. "I'm sure that will do it." She hurried off to do his bidding.

Kopf stared down at his patient. "You're doing this on purpose, Kuryakin," he snarled. "Just to get back at me. We both know it. Well, you can play these games all you want. The fact is you will not get out of here until I say you do, so you'd be better off cooperating instead of fighting me. Now, you'd better come out of this now, you little bastard, or I may have to shock you again to make you come out of it."

"Doctor!" Robins said in shock. "How could you say such a thing?"

Kopf pasted a smile on his face and turned to face her. "I was hoping a little threatening would make him want to wake up."

Her lips pursed in disapproval as she handed him the smelling salts. "I suggest using these, instead."

With supreme effort Kopf managed to keep the smile on his face and the scowl off of it. He plucked the smelling salts from her fingers. If she knew Kuryakin like he did, she'd not only approve of shocking the Russian again, she'd tell him to turn the dial to high.

He snapped open the little plastic vial and held it under Kuryakin's nose. The smell of it was enough to make Kopf's eyes water, but the damnable Russian didn't even blink. Damn. Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn. His life wasn't going to be worth a piece of penny candy if he didn't manage to bring Kuryakin back to the land of the cognizant. Solo would see to that.

Kopf flung the empty packet into the trash. "That isn't going to work. We're just going to have to see if he comes out of it himself. If he isn't back to normal by tomorrow, I'll have to figure out something else. I'd like for you to stay with him today."

"Yes, Doctor," Robins said, watching him leave. She was beginning to really dislike that man. He was too unsympathetic to be a psychiatrist. That kind of callousness just didn't belong in a hospital and most especially not on the mental ward.

She smoothed Illya's hair back from his forehead. She smiled at herself. Illya. He insisted she call him that. Although she generally refrained from playing up to a patient's delusions, she simply couldn't turn him down. Besides, for some odd reason, "Illya" fit him a lot more than "Ian". He just didn't seem like an Ian.

She checked his blankets. "Don't worry. I won't let him shock you again so soon. That would hurt you and I won't abide by him hurting you." She kissed him lightly on the forehead, telling herself it was just in the hopes he might be comforted by it and not because she wished he was whole and well so she could know him in a more personal way.

She settled into the chair beside the bed and started her vigil. While she watched over her charge, she resolved to tell that nice Mr. Waverly about this.

"You should have known better." Sanders caught the bartender's eye and raised two fingers, the international signal for "another round, please." He turned back to his friend. "Everyone knows not to get between Solo and Kuryakin. Especially when one of them needs rescuing."

"I doubt he needs rescuing," Burke growled into his new drink. "He's probably on a beach somewhere playing footsies with the bikini clad beauties."

"No matter where he's at, you don't get in Solo's way when Kuryakin is involved. No way, no how. I'd say you're lucky you're still alive."

"Well, I intend to stay that way," Burke replied with an ironic grin. "I'm bilingual and French is my second language. I'm putting in for a transfer to Paris."

Saunders whistled lowly. "No kidding? You're really going to do it?" He cupped his drink and slid it over so he could lean across the table to talk quieter to Burke. "This Napoleon thing got you that scared?"

"Phssshaw..." he say waving off the very thought. "I need a fresh start now that my training is over. It's time to stretch my wings and take flight on my own merits."

Saunders nodded and sat back up. "You've come a long way, Paul. I'm proud of you."

"It took a while, but I've thought about it hard and long. I think it's the best move I can make in my career right now."

Greg raised his glass. "Well here's to you, pal. I hope you make it as Europe's top agent."

"I just want to be the best I can be and that's just not going to happen here. Solo's made me a laughing stock of the New York division. I'm good. I know that and this is my way to prove it."

Saunders gave Burke a light punch in the shoulder to show his support. "Go get em, tiger."

Napoleon arrived at U.N.C.L.E. and first thing headed to the labs. It was late and most people were gone except for Frank of all people. Napoleon had a strong dislike for the man since finding out Illya was sleeping with the guy. But the need to know what was in the syringe cap he found was stronger than his dislike of the man, so he walked over to him.

"Frank. I need analysis on this right away."

Frank looked up and then looked at the bagged syringe cap. "Uh... okay. I'll do it first thing in the morning."

"No. I need it ASAP. I'm going to wait for it." Napoleon gave the man a stern look like he'd kill if he didn't get what he wanted.

"Mr. Solo," Frank tried reasoning. "There's no one on duty tonight except for the monitoring staff. I'm not in until 8 tomorrow morning."

"You're working overtime now and that's an order."

Frank was about to protest, but the look on the man's face would not take no for an answer. "It's going to take time. Probably all night," he agreed. There's no sense in you staying here looking over my shoulder." In fact you'll only slow me down if you hang around. Fortunately Napoleon nodded his agreement.

"I'll be in my office. Call me the second you get it."

"Yes. I will," he said and held up the bag to look at it.

Napoleon turned to leave confident his show of testosterone would get him exactly what he wanted and went to his office to wait. He intended to research Illya's correspondence and appointments but his own exhaustion got the better of him and he stretched out on his sofa to read. It was a mistake since he naturally fell asleep.

Nanci Robins sat next to Ian Curry's bed and gently stroked his hand. He looked like an innocent lost little boy in his current state. Blue eyes stared up at nothing and motionless but for the steady breathing. She just wanted to cuddle him. Mother him. Be there for him like his family who wasn't.

"Ian," she said softly. "I know you think you're alone in all this but you're not. There are people who care about you and want you to get better." She leaned closer to his ear hoping he could hear and understand her. "I spoke to your uncle. He seems very nice. I know now that you do have family who cares deeply for you. They only want you well. Your uncle bought me dinner and was so sweet. You must be something like him, I'm sure. Such a beautiful accent. In many ways like yours."

She sat back in the chair and told him a story about another young patient she had who thought the most horrendous things, but with medication and treatment went home to a loving family and that he, too, could do the same thing.

"So many people just see the patients as they are, not how they could be. I have faith in you, Ian. I know you'll get well and your uncle does too. I promised to call him with an update and I will when I get home tonight. Promise me you'll wake up tomorrow?" She knew it was a foolish thing to say but giving hope was part of her job. A quality so many of the other nurses and staff seem to have forgotten.

"What have I done? What have I done?" Kopf said rubbing his hands through his hair as he paced distraught in the office of Sleepy Hollow. "If I damage Kuryakin, my career might as well be over," he said to himself. "That little monster is doing this to spite me."

He finally sat down to review his notes again. They were making progress. It was unreasonable for Kuryakin to pull this kind of stunt to him now. The drug therapy was working. The man was opening up. Now in a catatonic state that was all brought to a screaming halt.

Another pot of coffee behind him and Kopf made a fateful decision. He was going to have to use drugs to snap the man out of this before it went any farther. It was risky but it had to be done.

Kopf got up and headed to the pharmacy to get what he needed.

Alexander Waverly decided to permit something he seldom allowed himself. Brooding. He usually let his moody Russian agent wallow in that particular indulgence. The fact it was that same Russian agent that caused it now was an irony not lost on him.

He sighed as he pulled out a file from his private safe in his office. Kuryakin's unofficial dossier had not seen the light of day since Waverly locked it away the day he read it. To say the least, Kuryakin's life's history was somewhat . . . disturbing. Even considering the chaotic backgrounds of many of the agents of the U.N.C.L.E., especially those in Enforcement, Illya Kuryakin's childhood was a study in unmitigated hell. The things the KGB did to Kuryakin should not be experienced by a grown man, much less a young boy.

Experience it, the Russian did. How he managed to come out of such training with his humanity intact-well, mostly-was beyond Waverly. By all rights, Kuryakin should be a ruthless, bloodthirsty monster.

Waverly sat back and thought about it. To be honest, Kuryakin was probably the most ruthless and bloodthirsty agent Waverly had met in all his years with the U.N.C.L.E. Yet the Russian wasn't a monster. He directed his worse tendencies towards those who would subjugate the innocents of the world. He treated innocents with great care. Kuryakin lacked the diplomacy of Solo and he didn't necessarily treat people kindly, but he respected life and freedom in a way his training suggested he shouldn't.

Waverly believed Alexei Andreov had a very big hand in that. He sent a silent prayer of thanks to whatever God might be listening for giving a young boy by the name of Illya Kuryakin a champion and protector like Andreov. If the KGB Major had not been involved, Waverly had no doubt he would not have the use of the incredible intellect and abilities of Illya Kuryakin at his and U.N.C.L.E.'s disposal.

He eyed the file in front of him with distaste. This document was the reason he, as well as one other of the Section One leaders of the U.N.C.L.E., decided their Russian agent should never be subjected to the same battery of psychological tests required of the rest of the agents.

With an irritated harrumph, he toggled his intercom and informed Miss Rogers he was not to be disturbed for the next hour. Time to reacquaint himself with Kuryakin's childhood. He needed to decide if his original decision on the matter still held up to the test of time. He flipped open the file, sat back in his chair, and began to read.

The boy cowered in the corner warily watching the man with him in this cold, dark place. He was afraid to return to the real world. He heard a woman telling him not to worry. Assuring him he was not alone. He didn't trust her. She was one of THEM. The psychiatrists. The last time he was at their mercy he had almost lost himself.

She mentioned his uncle and the image of Uncle Alexei came to mind. Of course she would use him in order to try to gain trust. He wouldn't fall for that again. He'd been so stupid last time. So naïve.

Although Uncle Alexei had warned him the sessions with the KGB psychiatrists would be harsh, Illya hadn't expected the reality. He was one of them, after all. A Soviet citizen. He was not one of the enemies. Surely they wouldn't do any real damage to him. They wouldn't harm Sarkov's little project much. Surely not.

He trusted them, the psychiatrists, when they told him they just wanted to have a little chat. They set up a spread of wonderful food. Food the likes of which he never got at the training facility. Various meats, cheeses, vegetables. And fruit! He loved fruit!

They poured a huge glass of fresh orange juice and set it in front of him. His mouth watered as he reached for it, already savoring the flavor he knew was about to hit his taste buds. He never saw the heavy pipe that slammed against his arm, effectively preventing him from getting to the juice.

"No one told you to touch that!" rasped a voice in his ear. "You can only have that if you tell me what I want to know."

Illya cradled his aching arm in his hand and glared at the man. "What is it you want to know?" He assumed it would be something simple. Of course, they would want him to hold out as long as possible, but eventually he could give them whatever token this exercise required and they would feed him.

The KGB gave him food at the facility, of course, but only enough to keep him alive and only bordering on malnourished. His hunger was never quite satisfied, except maybe when Alexei sometimes smuggled him in a chocolate bar. Chocolate could satisfy his needs in a way nothing else could.

Now, here was a spread fit for the Tsar himself, and it was being offered to him. All he had to do was to show he could resist their questioning for awhile and it would all be his. Saliva flooded his tongue at the thought.

"I am Doctor Palinsky," the man said. He smiled. Predatory. Evil.

It made Illya shiver but he kept his voice steady as he asked, "What is it you want of me, Comrade Doctor?"

He leaned down and leered into Illya's face. "Someone at the training facility has been helping you. I want to know who."

Illya's heart lurched. They wanted Uncle Alexei! Sarkov hated Andreov, and Illya had no doubt the Colonel would do anything to get the man off his team. He licked his lips, and then incorporated a technique that had worked quite well on the streets when people caught him stealing. He widened his eyes slightly, put a look of confusion in them and let his facial muscles relax. He knew it made him look much younger than his true age. In this case, instead of a twelve-year-old, he probably appeared to be more like seven or eight. "I-I don't know what you're talking about." The small tremor in his voice was not completely faked but he didn't mind because it helped him sound young.

Palinsky backed away. "Colonel Sarkov does not believe you have completed all your tasks by yourself. He wants to know who is helping you. I plan to find out who it is. You can save me a lot of time and yourself a lot of pain if you just tell me now." He waved a hand at the laden table. "We can get it over with quickly, so we can eat all this wonderful food while it's still hot." One lip curled in a sneer. "Or you can keep your secret, but only for the moment. I guarantee once I get finished with you, you will be begging to tell me."

Illya glanced at the food, his nose twitching at the beguiling scent. They had not let him eat before bringing him here, and he was rather hungry. Nothing he hadn't felt before, though. His stomach didn't even feel like it was eating itself away yet. Even if it was, he refused to betray the only adult in his present life who showed him compassion if not love. He could handle this and far more, especially if it meant keeping Uncle Alexei safe.

He gave Palinsky a triumphant smile. "There is no one." He still believed he only needed to hold out for a few hours, and this whole charade would be over. Palinsky would feed him some of the wonderful food, pat him on the head, and let him go.

It wasn't that he trusted people. He didn't. Not at all. Still, they worked for the same organization and he knew this to be a part of his training, so he wasn't too worried about it.

Three days later, he was no longer naïve enough to believe anything or anyone could save him.

Before morning rounds began Dr. Kopf found the very thing he was looking for. It was a powerful drug with side effects but very handy for waking people from psychotic states to make their treatment more viable. Kopf filled the syringe and made sure the dose was large enough to have a substantial effect. Kuryakin would not win in this game... or battle. Kopf knew what was best, and he had the degrees to prove it.

The halls were empty at this hour, the rooms locked and almost all of the patients asleep. Orderlies sat back at their stations reading papers, in some cases mere covers for the girlie magazines hidden within. It was fairly common for a doctor to be called in at odd hours, so Kopf passed through with barely a glance. He didn't bother speaking to anyone other than to request entrance through the secure doors. As expected, he was admitted without question.

Kopf waited outside Kuryakin's door for the orderly to open it for him. Then he went inside and told the man not to bother waiting. He watched him go before smiling to himself and then approached the bed. "Well, well, well Mr. Curry," he said softly, so proud of his deception. "You may have everyone fooled but I know better. You can't play mind games with me because you see," he said smugly. "I am the master."

With experience, Kopf swabbed Illya's arm and injected the powerful drugs. He knew it wouldn't take long before some effect took place. The first sign was the slight sweat that broke out on Illya's forehead.

Leaning forward Kopf looked deep into Kuryakin's eyes. "You're in there and I demand you come out and face me," he sneered. "You're not going to ruin my career. I can make you or break you, so you'd better come out and follow the rules of the game. You see, I could go to Waverly and tell him about this psychotic episode. Catatonia is considered that, you know. You'd be sacked so fast you wouldn't know what hit you."

The strange cocktail of drugs made Illya's thoughts wobble inside his head. The drugs that relaxed his inhibitions and the powerful stimulant to bring him back to the real world were a dangerous combination. He could hear the words Kopf spoke to him. The threats. The accusations. The intimidation. Each word needle that prodded his soul. Rocked him to the very core.

Images swirled between the early years at Lubyanka and the hospital here. The cold angry hands in his youth and the warm caring hands of a nurse, though he could not recall her name or face in the haze that swept through his head. Then there was that voice. The voice of doom echoing through his mind.

A face, an evil face, formed within Illya's foggy vision. It mutated from human to demon and back again, morphing between fat scarred Russian devils to smooth smiling dealers of miracle pills. The drugs—or was it his own anxiety—made his heart race, his head throb. Escape! Must escape!

With lightning fast reflexes and the strength of a lion's jaws, Illya lashed out and took the scrawny white throat of the demon leaning over him in a death grip.

Miranda Bloomfield brought the morning mail around and stopped short as she entered Napoleon's office to drop off some letters.

"Oh my gosh!" she said gasping as an unexpected noise frightened her.

Napoleon smiled as he rubbed his eyes. "Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you." He sat up and shoved the throw to the side. "What time is it?"

She looked at the clock on the wall behind his head. "Uh... Seven-thirty," she replied and put the mail down. She smiled and offered, "Could I have someone bring you a sandwich or something?"

"Seven-thirty?" he said running his hand through his hair as his brain tried to wake up. "Seven-thirty!" He jumped up and rushed past her out the door without answering the question.

Miranda was puzzled as she watched him run off. "Maybe he wants to get something to eat for himself?" she said to the empty room.

Frank Webber sat leaning over the desk, head cradled in one folded arm, the other arm holding the telephone receiver in its hand. The poor man had fallen asleep before dialing the phone after working all night on the analysis of the mysterious contents of the syringe cap. He snored softly as a thin trail of spittle ran along the edge of his lip.

Napoleon burst through the lab entrance doors amid startled stares from the early arrivals. "Where's Webber?" he asked in a rather demanding tone.

The lab staff looked back and forth between them unaware that the man was even there. A couple of them shrugged their shoulders but a third answered with, "He's not due in until nine."

"No. He's here somewhere," Napoleon said. "I had him working on something for me. It was a rush job."

The voice in the outer room snapped Frank from his awkward slumber and he snorted and then sucked back the small amount of drool. "Uh... Mr. Solo," he croaked and then cleared his throat. "I'm in here," he called in a louder voice.

Napoleon headed over to the office and looked at the disheveled appearance of the lab tech. "Did you get it?" he asked.

"Uh... I was just about to call you," he answered and then looked stupidly at the phone still cradled in his hand. He hung it up and blinked. "I... I must have fallen asleep."

"Never mind that," Napoleon said in a rush. "What was in that needle?"

Frank looked on the desk at the mess of papers. He must have spread them around when he dropped off unexpectedly. "It's right here.... Somewhere," he answered nervously. A few quick movements of his hands and he pulled one of the papers from the mess. "Ah-ha, here is it."

"Well?" Napoleon said.

Frank's eyes glittered in barely subdued anger. "Waverly would not approve of you using-no, abusing!-U.N.C.L.E. resources on your own personal vendettas," he said crossly.

Solo's lips pursed in a mew of disapproval. "What are you talking about?"

Frank didn't understand why all the women swooned over this guy. "You know very well what I mean."

"Actually, I don't. Why don't you enlighten me?" Solo stepped closer, an obvious ploy of intimidation.

Damn it, it worked! "Fine. If you want to play it that way, we will." Frank wanted to shout at Solo. To rail against his petty jealousies and tactics. Solo was an enforcement agent and could squash him and they both knew it. Frank gritted his teeth, angry at himself for caving in. He hoped Solo didn't regale Illya with the tale of Frank Webber's backing down.

He snatched and held up a sheet of paper under Solo's nose. "It's an U.N.C.L.E. drug, as if you didn't know!"

Solo rocked back on his heals, shock and anger mixing on his handsome-okay, so he wasn't bad looking-face. Frank frowned. He knew as an enforcement agent, Solo had to be a good actor. He didn't think the man was acting now, though.

"Are you sure?" asked Solo. His voice held an edge of what Frank thought might be fear.

"Quite sure," Frank replied sincerely. Solo hadn't known where the drug in the syringe cap came from, Frank was now absolutely certain of that. His heart squeezed when a thought struck him. "Does this have to do with Illya?" He wasn't in love with Illya and doubted he ever would be. And vice versa. He cared about the Russian, though, and counted him as a friend. A good one.

"Thank you, Mr. Webber," Solo said, his tone deceptively calm. "That was all I needed to know."

Solo's eyes glittered as he looked at Frank in a way that made the scientist want to run away screaming in terror. A cobra seemed to uncoil in their dark, almost black depths. Frank recognized the look. He'd seen it in Illya's eyes a few times when he knew he was about to right a wrong that had been done to someone. He hoped Solo wasn't directing his vengeance on him.

At that moment Solo looked exactly like a cobra ready to play with his prey a bit before it struck. "Of-of course, Mr. Solo. Th-that's what I'm here for."

Solo showed him an expression of disgust, and Frank knew the agent wondered why the Russian was sleeping with what he saw as a mouse of a scientist. Frank summoned all his courage and straightened under the hard stare. "Good luck."

A feral smile crossed the cobra's face. An odd look, but a terribly disconcerting one, as well. "I don't need luck as far as my partner is concerned. I'll find him. I always do. We have a connection someone like you would never understand."

As Frank watched Solo's retreating back. He knew the man had just told him he could forget keeping Illya Kuryakin as a lover. Solo meant to have Illya for himself. He thought of the look in Illya's eyes lately when talking of his friendship with Solo. "No, Mr. Solo. I think you will need a lot of luck."

"Mr. Kuryakin," Kopf managed to squeak out. "It's . . . Kopf!" He could say no more because he had to spend the rest of his energy trying to breathe.

The words meant nothing to Illya's drugged and recently abused mind. A part of him knew this demon . . . man-no, demon, even if he was mortal; he was a psychiatrist, after all-but even that part cried out for the destruction of such evil. His body twitchy and tingly from the electricity still coursing through it didn't stop him from levering himself off the bed.

Illya relaxed his fingers enough to allow Kopf to breathe, but not enough to let him get loose. Lest the demon get the idea Illya was letting him go, Illya leaned in close. "You wanted me to come out and face you?" he snarled into the beast's terrified visage. "Well, here I am." He released his grip.

Coughing, the demon put a hand to its throat. "You'll pay for that, Kuryakin!" it rasped

Illya backhanded him, sending him sprawling across the bed. "I told you to leave it alone!" he growled, his tone low and dangerous. "I told you but you refused to listen!" Illya had never been so furious in his life. He snatched up the only chair in the room and jammed it under the doorknob. The hospital personnel might object to what he had to do to rid the world of this evil creature.

Using a form of martial arts called kodenkan jitsu, he proceeded to break every bone in Kopf's body. He started with the beast's fingers, snapping them one by one. "I . . . " SNAP! "Was . . . " SNAP! "Only . . . " SNAP! "Twelve!" SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! He ignored the screams of pain Kopf let out with each broken bone.

"I didn't do that!" Kopf sobbed. "It wasn't me!"

"You're a psychiatrist," Illya snarled, taking Kopf's arm in hand. "You're just as guilty."

Voices outside the door indicated some of the employees, probably the big bruisers they called orderlies, worked to get in. The door shook under the pounding of masculine fists. "Curry! Open up, now, damn you! If you don't, we'll do things to you that will make you think the electroshock was a walk in the park!"

In answer, Illya systematically broke Kopf's arm from wrist to shoulder.

"Help me! He's killing me! OH MY GOD! HELP ME!!!" screeched Kopf.


The scream those bones prompted chilled even Illya's blood. He paused, glanced at the psychiatrist bastard in front of him, then went back to it.

Something solid hit the door. The wood bowed but didn't crack. It hit again. Again. People in the corridor yelled for reinforcements, for a battering ram, for yet more needles for when they broke through the barrier.

Illya held no illusions. They would eventually get through and he would probably be in for yet another round of electroshock. He didn't care. He'd been through it enough times it no longer really scared him. He hated it and avoided it when at all possible, but it didn't scare him. Besides, he would be leaving soon. Whether in a body bag or leaving a trail of death behind him, he would be out of this place. If not tonight, then tomorrow.

First, though, he would kill the bastard who dredged up the memories he had always so desperately kept buried. "I kept those memories suppressed for a reason," he said huskily. He sat back and glared at Kopf. "Did you ever think of that?"

"N-n-n-no," gasped Kopf between his tears and his pain. "I-I-I just wanted to-to h-h-h-help you."

"Help me what?" Illya demanded. "Become the monster they wanted me to be?"

The cacophony of the orderlies trying to beat the door down suddenly stopped. "Mr. Curry?" yelled a familiar voice. It's me, Nurse Robins. Nanci. What's happening in there? Open the door for me! Please?" She sounded frantic.

He glanced at the door, then looked back to stare at his handiwork. Kopf's arm and both hands hung limp and useless, a mere pile of bones held together only by the grace of skin. Bile burned his throat as the sight sickened him. "Congratulations," he said softly. "You've succeeded." He walked to the door, removed the chair, and opened it.

Nanci felt the handle move and her eyes widened in surprise. An orderly pulled her aside as the others prepared to rush in and save the doctor. If she had any instincts on rushing in and calming her patient they were quickly taken away by the crowd squeezing past her now. "No! Wait! Don't hurt him!" she called out.

From the inside another voice could be heard screaming. Pained, bloodied, and battered, Kopf was yelling. "You're a monster! You're beyond hope! You deserve to die!" He was a pitiful wretched sight curled up in the corner cowering.

Illya hadn't planned on putting up a fight. Hadn't planned on struggling or harming anyone else, but plans didn't always go as planned. He was overwhelmed by the hoard of bulky strong-armed orderlies. With judgment still clouded by drugs, his control still subverted, Illya's fight or flight baser instincts surfaced. The struggle was short lived.

Napoleon moved fast through the halls of U.N.C.L.E. It had to be Kopf. In his mind there was only one answer, and that was Kopf. His pace had a deliberate unwavering purpose and people naturally moved aside when they saw him coming.

April Dancer and Mark Slate were startled by the motion in the corridor and paused in their conversation to take notice of Napoleon. "Where's the fire?" she asked as he reached them.

"Stick around long enough and you'll find one," he replied through gritted teeth. "Kopf has Illya."

The two other agents looked at each other puzzled. "What are you talking about, Napoleon?" Mark asked.

"Listen," Napoleon explained as the three of them walked toward the physician's offices at a fast pace. "Illya never takes vacations... well, not unless he's confined to bed or I force him to go with me, anyway. Kopf said he'd arranged for Illya's vacation, and I found a syringe cap in Illya's apartment. The lab just confirmed it's U.N.C.L.E. issue. Kopf has been dying to get his hands on Illya, and that's exactly what I think has happened."

"Oh, my god," April declared. "I thought it was odd, but I didn't do anything about it. Oh, Napoleon. I'm sorry." She felt horrified by her own inactions.

The CEA shook his head. "Forget it. There's no time for that now. We need to get Illya." Napoleon took a sharp corner and burst into Kopf's office within the medical section. "Where is he?" he demanded of the flustered looking secretary.

"Wha... er... I don't know what you're talking about," she replied. "What's wrong?"

Napoleon was barely calm.

April grabbed his arm to hold him back. "Please. She works for us," she reminded him.

Napoleon took a relaxing breath and asked again in a more reasonable tone. "Kopf. I want to see him now!" It wasn't a request. It was a demand.

"Dr. Kopf? Why it's his... I mean he's not.... He's probably at his office in the Shaw Building. He's working on his private practice today."

Napoleon spun on his heels. "Mark. Grab whatever agents are available. We're going to pay Dr. Kopf a visit, and I don't have an appointment!"

An ambulance waited outside the main entrance of the Sleepy Hollows Psychiatric Hospital for the Insane. The two attendants tried to be careful with the patient on the gurney as they rolled it down the uneven sidewalk to the vehicle. Kopf was in great pain and half out of his mind after the attack. Anyone witnessing his removal would think they should be wheeling him in instead of out.

"What did they do with Doctor Kopf's patient?" Nurse Cooper asked as she watched the doctor being taken away.

An orderly wiped the sweat from his brow. "It took four of us to get control of him. That's one tough little cookie," he said, still waiting for his heart to stop racing from the excitement. "They took him up to the maximum security section. Dr. Gustav Fredrick is taking over the case. He's up there now deciding what to do with him."

Cooper shook her head. "Some of these nutcases should just be put down."

The orderly nodded in agreement and then went around the side of the building to take a well earned smoke break.

Dr. Fredrick, along with two other colleagues, gathered around a small table in one of the offices on the top floor of the hospital. He'd gathered all the files he could find on patient Ian Curry, and the three men reviewed the information on him. They had no clue that the files were full of falsehoods and misinformation intended to cover Kopf's tracks.

"This patient has a long history of mental instability along with frequent outbursts of violent behavior. Extreme paranoia and delusions of being a Russian spy. No family and no close friends. Even during his time with us, he has fought his treatment and in spite of drugs to control his violent behavior, he has still damaged several pieces of hospital property and injured several of the staff. I'm sure you all agree that this kind of thing cannot go on unchecked. Recommendations please," he requested of his colleagues.

"Drug therapy has had little to no effect," Romano replied. "He's been treated repeatedly and always goes off his medication when he's not being monitored," he stated flipping through the pages of the file. "At this rate someone is going to get killed."

Dr. Tanaka nodded. "I agree. Dr. Kopf barely escaped with his life this morning. He may never be able to use that hand again. And remember. It took four men almost half an hour to wrestle that man into a straight jacket. It's simply not safe to allow it to go on like this. Not for anyone and especially not for the patient. I think we have only one option left." His voice held an ominous tone.

Romano tightened his mouth in a frown. "I think so, too. Lobotomy." He looked back at Dr. Fredrick. "What do you say?"

Fredrick looked down at the file on the table and thought about it. "I think we have no choice in the matter. As the current physician in charge, and it seems we have a unanimous consensus, let the record show we have all decided a lobotomy is in the patient's best interests."

"What makes you think Kopf did something with Illya?" April asked as she and Napoleon signed out an U.N.C.L.E. van. "Maybe he really is on vacation."

"Illya doesn't take vacations." Napoleon viciously scratched his signature on the paperwork then snatched the key from the hapless attendant. The man ignored the Section Two's rudeness and shuffled off to perform his other duties.

April's laugh bounced off the shadows of the garage. "Of course he takes vacations. There was that trip he took to Rome."

"With me." Napoleon checked the plastic tab on the key ring to make sure of the make, model, and color of the van. He saw it in the far corner of the garage and strode off for it.

April hurried to keep up with Napoleon's long strides. "And that skiing vacation he took in the Alps."

"With me." They arrived at the van and he unlocked all the doors, including the back.

April considered it for a moment, and then held up a finger in triumph. "That time he went on a vacation to Hawaii, he was alone. I dropped him at the airport and you were not with him."

"That's because I was already in Hawaii after finishing an assignment there. He joined me." He opened the passenger door and held it as he turned to look at her. "The only time Illya takes a vacation is when I force him to. He's never taken one of his own volition and certainly not on the advice of a doctor." His lips twisted in a parody of a smile. "Exactly how often have you seen Illya do what the doctor tells him? Especially a psychiatrist?"

April tipped her head in defeat. "You have a point. Not that I like psychiatrists, but Illya seems to have a phobia about them. What's that all about?"

"I don't know. I've never asked him."

Eyes wide with surprise, April asked, "Why not?"

"I learned a long time ago not to ask Illya about his past. It's just not worth putting up with Illya's silent treatment."

"Oh." Of course, she would never ask the private Russian such a personal question, but Napoleon was his partner and best friend. There was nothing she wouldn't tell Mark and vice versa so she assumed it would be the same with Solo and Kuryakin. Apparently not.

"The way Illya left his apartment makes me suspicious, too," Napoleon went on.

"What's his apartment got to do with it?" she asked, face wrinkled in confusion.

"He didn't expect to leave. He had a glass of cold tea on the table, a few dishes in the sink, his stereo was turned on. Illya cleans his apartment to within an inch of its life before he goes anywhere. The only time he doesn't is if he has to leave right away. Even then he cleans up behind himself as he goes along so he doesn't come home to a bunch of moldy dishes."

"Hmm. I'm that way, too. You could be right, I suppose."

"Well, it was just suspicion on my part until I found the syringe cap on his carpet." He looked directly at her. "It contained traces of an U.N.C.L.E. sedative. You know. The kind a psychiatrist can get."

April nodded thoughtfully, her auburn hair bouncing on her shoulders with the movement. "You've convinced me."

Napoleon glanced at his watch in irritation. "Where's your partner? I don't know what Kopf is doing to Illya or how much time he has to complete his plan, whatever that may be."

As if on cue, Mark hurried into the garage followed by two other agents. Napoleon scowled when he realized one was none other than Paul Burke. Wonderful.

He mentally kicked himself. No matter how he felt about Burke personally, the man was a good agent. Young and inexperienced, but with a lot of potential. He also held onto a fierce loyalty for everything U.N.C.L.E. Even though he wanted Illya's job since day one, he did his utmost best to help save the surly Russian from Saudi Arabia. The man was irritating, but he could be trusted. That was the most important aspect of any man. Beside Burke strode Grant Saunders, another up-and-coming agent.

Napoleon had to admit-grudgingly-it was a good team. He waved them into the back of the van. "We're in a hurry." Without waiting to make sure they got on, he rushed to the driver's side and slid in behind the wheel. He slipped the key into the ignition and fired up the old-on-the-outside-but-state-of-the-art-on-the-inside van. "Everyone better be in because we're leaving," he announced, pressing down on the accelerator.

The back door slammed just as the van jumped forward. "Blimey, Napoleon! Give a bloke a minute to sit!"

Napoleon glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Mark stagger to a spot on the bench seat. "Time is not on our side, Mark."

"I know," came the soft, British-accented reply.

April directed Napoleon to the Shaw building where Kopf's U.N.C.L.E. secretary said he would be today. On the way, they made their plan of action.

"April and Mark, you'll be with me. Burke, Saunders, I want you two to be our first line of defense from any outside interference.

"Yes, sir," came the dual response.

They reached their destination in record time.

April held her hand to the dashboard to keep from flying through the window at Napoleon's screeching halt. "I guess you want Kopf to know we're coming?"

"Absolutely," the dark-haired agent said with a grim smile. "He can't go anywhere, and a few extra minutes of terror will help loosen up his forked tongue."

They poured out of the van and hustled into the building's lobby. Napoleon glanced around and did a quick assessment of the exits and entrances. One elevator. Perfect. "Saunders, Burke, you two go by the stairs in case Kopf did see us and tries to evade by not taking the elevator." He checked the directory. "Kopf's office is in Suite 9A. We'll meet you in front of his door."

Saunders scowled. Nine floors, he thought to himself. The two men nodded and rushed for the door marked "Stairs."

Napoleon jerked his head towards the elevator. "We'll take that. The only way we won't see him if he gets on it is if he takes the stairs down a flight or two then waits for the elevator's return trip down. I don't think he's smart enough for that, though."

He punched the down arrow button and was rewarded with the rumbling and creaking sound that signaled the approach of an elevator. The doors in front of him opened to reveal an empty car. They piled in and Mark hit the button marked "nine."

The Shaw building was an older one and the elevator obviously dated back to when the place was new. It wheezed and groaned its way upward. Napoleon wondered if it would make it without breaking down. When the indicator dial above the door moved to "IX" and the elevator doors squeaked open.

The three agents slinked into the hallway and surveyed their surroundings. Directly across from them was a door with a set-in window and a metal letter "G" attached just above the jam.

April looked to the next door down on the left. It sported an "E." "This way," she murmured and headed off down the corridor. The two men did as expected and followed her. The doors on the left side of the hall read "F," "D," and "B" respectively. On the right were "E," "C," and in the corner, "A."

They halted just before they reached Kopf's office. At that moment, Burke and Saunders exited the stairwell and hurried towards them. "We didn't see anyone," Saunders reported while huffing and puffing.

Napoleon nodded. "Let's go."

He led the way into the office. An older, petite woman with graying brown hair held the phone receiver to her ear, saying, "Yes, thank you. I'll contact the proper people and have them give you the information." She hung up the phone and looked up at the newcomers. Her blue eyes glistened with tears and worry. "May..." She cleared her throat to try to eliminate the emotional tremor in her voice. "May I help you?" She hadn't quite succeeded.

"I wish to see Dr. Kopf immediately," he demanded in a tone that said he would not take an argument and he would not wait.

"I-I'm sorry, but . . ."

Napoleon cut her off, his barely contained fury evident in his voice. "Tell him Napoleon Solo demands to see him. Now!"

She blinked and shrunk back in fear. "I-I'm sorry, I can't do that. I just learned Dr. Kopf was beaten by one of his patients. He's in Bellevue being prepped for surgery."

The three agents glanced at each other. Napoleon spun on his heal and headed out.

"Thank you!" April called over her shoulder as she and Mark tried to catch up.

Illya sat on his bed trying to wriggle out of the restrictive garment they placed on him. Straight jackets were not as hard to get out of as people might think. Just ask Houdini. While he was not at the skill level of the great escape artist, he was no slouch.

There! One arm loosened. He worked to do the same to the other. Twenty minutes after they'd trussed him and thrown him into this padded room, he was almost free of the restrictive jacket. Now if he could just seduce Napoleon's Lady Luck to stay with him for a few more minutes, he could possibly be on his way out of this place.

Illya could charm some of the women some of the time, but the savvier of them saw right through it. Unfortunately for him, Napoleon's Lady was one of the latter and the door to his cell opened.

"Okay, Curry, it's time to . . . HEY!"

Illya muttered several curses in several languages as he looked up. He probably couldn't succeed in his quest for freedom, but he was not one to give up trying. He rushed the orderly. The man's mouth dropped in surprise and his eyes locked onto the flapping of the now undone arm of the jacket. Illya took advantage of the surprise and slammed the elbow of his one free arm into the man's face, then kicked feet out from under him. The guy dropped like a stone. Illya jumped over him and ran for the now open door.

Once again, the Lady of Lucky Spies did not smile on him, and the doorway filled with three more orderlies. Illya knew the odds against him. He knew the chances of getting out of here were less than one percent. He knew the best thing to do would be to back down and hope Napoleon would find him before they shocked him again.

But of course, Napoleon would not come. He thought his Russian partner was on vacation in Hawaii or Jamaica or some other tropical climate. Napoleon had absolutely no clue Illya was here and in all likelihood was about to be made to disappear.

He would go down. But he categorically refused to go quietly.

He sent the loose arm of the straight jacket towards the newcomers, snapping the buckles in the face of the one in front. The man screamed and covered his face with his hands. Illya whipped the straps around again, aiming for the next one in line. Something knocked him from behind and the strap missed its mark. The orderly caught the flying buckle as it whizzed past him and yanked.

Illya stumbled off-balance, both from the pull on his jacket and from another hit from behind. Obviously, the orderly he'd knocked down was now on his feet again. He jerked his arm hard and wrenched the flopping arm of his jacket away from the man holding it. A roundhouse kick sent the one behind him sprawling once more.

The three orderlies in the doorway rushed him. Their sheer size and weight forced Illya down to the floor, where he remained once they finally managed to beat him into submission.

The drive across town to Bellevue was like something out of the keystone cops the way everyone leaned and swayed with Napoleon's breakneck turns and weaving. Burke burped but managed to keep his breakfast down and dared not open his mouth.

"They won't just let you waltz into the O.R., Napoleon," Mark reminded him. "We need a plan."

"No time for plans," Napoleon snapped back as he stepped on the gas after passing a delivery van. "I'm going straight in and the rest of you are going to have to run interference. Mark. April. You two take care of the O.R. staff. Burke, you and Saunders keep the hospital security at bay while I talk to Kopf.

"Will do," Saunders said with complete commitment. "Nothing will get past us." He grabbed for the edge of the front seat to steady himself as they took the last turn up to the emergency entrance.

Taking one of the ambulance spots, Napoleon threw open his door and rushed toward the entrance. The others were mere feet behind him. Together they formed an impenetrable wall as they ignored everyone on their way to the surgical operating rooms.

When they reached the right floor, they left Saunders and Burke at the surgery doors while Mark and April followed Napoleon in amid loud protests to their presence. Napoleon ignored the nurses' objections as he walked behind the desk and flipped through the clipboard of the O.R. schedules. He caught a glimpse of Saunders facing off with a security man outside the doors and quietly smiled to himself as he checked the doors. Grabbing a nurse by one arm, not at all gently, Napoleon snapped loudly. "Which one is O.R. Four?"

The poor woman was flustered at the tone. "Th... That one," she pointed.

He let her go.

"But you can't go in there. You're not sterile."

Napoleon would have smirked if he had the time. Instead, flanked by the other agents, he barged into the operating room just as a mask was about to be lowered over the patient's face.

"Hold it right there. doc!" Napoleon ordered.

Kopf's bleary eyes tried to focus on the new intrusion.

"M... Mr. Solo. What do you think you're doing?" Kopf asked.

"What do you people think you're doing?" the anesthesiologist blurted out. "Call security!" he told one of the nurses.

A nurse moved toward the intercom, but April blocked her instantly.

"I wouldn't. honey. You don't want to find out the consequences if you try." The body language said she meant it without a doubt.

The nurse paused and looked back at the doctor for more instructions.

Napoleon held up his hand. "The sooner I get to talk. the sooner you can get back to whatever you're doing," he said to the doctor while staring menacingly at Kopf. Napoleon moved even closer, the pure anger in his eyes overriding any sedatives the poor psychiatrist might have already received. "I want some answers and I want them now." The voice was almost demonic as he burned Kopf through and through with his eyes.

"Wha... what do you want Mr. Solo?" Kopf whispered back as if transfixed by the stare of a hideous monster.

"Illya Kuryakin. You have him and I want him. Now!"

"The man is a menace to society. This is what he did to me," Kopf said shakily holding up his crippled hand. "He needs to be locked up and the key thrown away."

"Nice work," Napoleon said of Illya's job at disfiguring Kopf's hand. "I could make it an even pair if you don't spill it right now and tell me where he is."

Kopf began blabbering like an idiot going on and on about Kuryakin being the crazy one. Napoleon listened to see if he could filter anything that made sense out of it. After a minute of the blithering, he grabbed Kopf's injured hand and squeezed lightly to bring him back into focus.

The doctor rushed forward to protect his patient but Mark stepped in his way. "You don't want to end up like your patient there," the Brit said, his accent thicker than usual.

When Kopf stopped screaming Napoleon got eye to eye with the man again. "Now, one last time. Where is Illya?"

"In the psychiatric hospital. Right where he belongs," Kopf replied with amazing clarity.

Napoleon turned to leave. Illya was here. Bellevue was the prime psychiatric hospital in the area. All the city's mental cases ended up here. "Come on. We're going to the psychiatric wing."

As the three agents left, the doctors and nurses rushed to restore order and check out their patient. No surgery would take place now until they rescrubbed and moved the patient to another sterile operating room.

"I don't know how we're going to get this done," one orderly said to a nurse. "Even in a straight jacket, he's putting up such a fuss we can't shave his head."

"Well we can't sedate him anymore. He has too many drugs in his system now as it is," the nurse replied. "We could end up with a bad interaction."

"Well, if we keep trying," he complained. "He's going to end up with slash marks all over his head and face. It's too dangerous."

"Let me check with the doctor. Give me a moment," she said and picked up the phone. She dialed an extension and waited. "Oh, hello, Grace. I need to speak to Dr. Hedly." The nurse held up a finger for the orderly to wait. "Dr. Hedly, I'm sorry to disturb you before surgery, but we have a problem with one of the patients scheduled for today. He's very combative and we can't get his head shaved. He's actually injured a number of the staff already just trying."

The orderly watched as the nurse listened to the other end of the conversation.

"Yes, but with all the drugs in his system now, I think it might be a bad idea to use any more sedation."

She smiled. "All right. I'll pass that on, Dr. Hedly. Thank you."

The orderly looked at her as she hung up. "So what did he say?"

"Don't worry about it. They'll shave his head in the O.R. after they put him under. You and your people can back off for now."

The man let out a sigh of relief. "Good. The way he's fighting, someone is going to get killed if we keep trying."

"Let him relax a little. Tie him to the gurney. They'll be here to take him to surgery in about an hour." The nurse relaxed and went back to her regular routine.

Illya finally lay back, exhausted by his struggles as the thugs left him alone. He was trussed up like an Egyptian mummy and found it impossible to move more than a slight twitch here and there. A subtle ache throbbed whenever he moved his eyes. Surely one was black and blue. Growing pressure on his jaw told him another bruise was forming there as well.

His mind moved sluggishly, the drugs pumped into him since day one slowing down his thought processes. Even so he wasn't completely without mental resources.

He tried unsuccessfully to move something. Hmm. It might not be so easy to do. Not one to give up easily, he started moving everything-painful as it was-in an attempt to loosen something up enough to allow him to wiggle out.

As he worked on this futile pursuit, he thought about his situation. He no longer believed Waverly had ordered Kopf to bring him here. He'd been an idiot to believe it in the first place. Waverly would never have sent Kopf alone to the apartment. He would make sure there were some security personnel and a direct order. Their boss would know his agent's skills and that Illya would possibly escape the doctor's attempt.

Illya snorted in self-derision. His boss gave him too much credit. Instead of reacting as a trained agent should, he'd acted the part of a naïve, inexperienced innocent. He turned his back on someone he didn't entirely trust. Intelligent, indeed! He was a total idiot. He let a moron like Kopf take him and then he actually believed his inane story. He deserved the brain damage they now threatened him with.

He growled, angry at his turn towards maudlin self-pity. It was time to stop acting like a victim and start being the agent his training made him. Ignoring the pain wracking his body and the fog in his brain caused by the drugs, he focused all his attention on ridding himself of the restraints.

A nurse with sleek black hair topped by a pert nurse's cap and wearing a crisp white uniform greeted them on the psychiatric floor. "May I help you?"

Napoleon barely registered her beauty, his mind and interest on a certain Russian blond instead. "I'm here for Illya Kuryakin."

A frown marred her lovely face. "Excuse me?"

"Illya Kuryakin."

"What's an Illya Kuryakin?"

Napoleon gritted his teeth, willing himself to be chivalrous enough to at least keep from punching a woman in the mouth. That was more Illya's style, not his own. "A patient of Dr. Hermann Kopf," he snarled, his smile lacking its usual charm. "I'm here to get him out."

She stopped in the act of looking at her patient list. "Kopf? We don't have a Dr. Kopf on staff here."

Napoleon's anger rose. "I just talked to him two minutes ago. He's downstairs and he told me Illya Kuryakin was in the hospital's psychiatric ward," he growled, leaning into the woman's face and willing her to tell him where they hid his partner.

The nurse blinked and stepped back. "I-I'm sorry."

"Napoleon," April's soft voice came from behind him. "Kopf didn't say the psychiatric ward. He said the psychiatric hospital."

"Bellevue is the psychiatric hospital in this city."

"N-not the only one," the frightened nurse said, jumping at the chance to get these crazy people out of here. Five pairs of eyes turned to stare at her. "Th-there are s-several p-p-private hospitals in the area."

Murderous intent glittered in Napoleon's eyes as he turned to leave. "We need to have another talk with the good doctor."

"Just a moment," another of the nursing staff interrupted them. "I know who Dr. Kopf is, and he takes all his patients to Sleepy Hollow Psychiatric Hospital. He only takes the ones that can pay well. Never touches the charity cases."

"Yes. Yes, that's right," the first nurse replied. "I remember now."

Illya felt the restraint on his left hand loosen. He smiled grimly and pulled harder. Warm blood trickled down his wrist as the restraint rubbed his skin raw from all the tugging. He ignored it and concentrated solely on getting the cursed cuff off. After another few minutes it snapped. He sighed in relief then reached over to try to get at the one holding down his right hand.

The door opened and an orderly strutted in. Of course. Lady Luck once again proved herself as only Napoleon's mistress, not his.

The orderly came to a screeching halt. "What the hell?!?" His face twisted in anger. "You son of a bitch!" He spun around and stuck his head out the door. "Johnson! This bastard's trying to get away again! Bring the prod!"

Illya let loose a stream of the worst Russian curses he could think of and increased his efforts. He knew it probably wouldn't be enough, but he simply couldn't give up and let them drill a hole into his head and scramble his brains as if they were preparing to make a mummy out of him.

The orderly wisely stayed where he was, not willing to take on this particular patient by himself. He stood back and waited, watching to make sure Curry didn't get passed him. Three other orderlies rushed in, holding rods with two metal prongs protruding from the ends and a black button at the top.

Illya flopped back onto the gurney in defeat. He had no desire to catch any more voltage. If they hit him with anymore electricity, he could light up a light bulb just by putting it in his mouth.

The orderlies rushed at him, each one thrusting the sticks in a different part of Illya's body. They shocked him over and over again, each zap aimed at a new, untouched spot. His cries of pain at each jolt of electricity went unheeded, the expressions on their faces telling him they enjoyed their work far too much to let his discomfort dissuade them from this particular duty. In his weakened state, Illya didn't have the strength to fight them. Instead he gave himself up to the blackness that swirled over him.

Nanci Robins fretted all afternoon over her patient since they moved him. The whole situation nagged at her. Ian Curry wasn't the beast they made him out to be. Inside she just knew it.

Once Nanci finished her regular rounds, she headed to the high security ward to see what was happening with Mr. Curry. She was sure he needed a friend in the worst way. The walk through the halls seemed endless, but eventually she arrived at the last station before the final locked doors.

Nanci recognized one of the nurses and raised her ID tag to show her. "Hi, Meredith."

"Nanci?" she said surprised. "What are you doing up here?" she asked since this wasn't Robin's section.

"I'm on my break, Meri," she replied. "I thought I'd check on a patient transfer from my ward."

"No problem. Which one is it?" Meredith asked as she pulled out the patient register.

Nanci let out a long breath. Professional courtesy went a long way in this upscale hospital. "An Ian Curry. They transferred him early this morning."

"Oh, I remember that one," she said not even bothering to check the papers. "I've never seen anyone putting up a fight like that. I was amazed to hear he was down there with you for over a week. However did you manage to handle him?"

Nanci smiled. "I never had any problems with him. As a matter of fact, I really thought he was getting better."

Meredith leaned forward to the window they were talking through. "That's really hard to believe. The men here can't even get near him in a straight jacket. They can't even prep him for surgery. They try to shave his head, and all hell breaks out."

"Surgery?" Nanci repeated finding her breath catching. "When?" Was she too late?

"I think they'll be coming to get him soon. After what he did to Dr. Kopf, the committee decided to perform a lobotomy. It's the only thing left that has any hope of him gaining any sort of control."

Nanci gasped. "What about his family? What did they say?"

"There is no family," Meredith replied.

"What? No! Yes there is," Nanci stammered out. "Oh, my god! I have to call him. Don't let them do anything until I get back," she shouted as she dashed off to find the uncle's number.

Alexander Waverly listened to the frantic young lady at the other end of the phone and took in a long draw from his pipe. It took a couple of minutes to get her story since she seemed in such a panic. Things had progressed farther then he had planned on letting them go.

"Please, Miss Robins. Calm down. I will take care of things right away. I appreciate your calling me on this matter," he assured her.

"You have to come right away!" she begged.

"Oh, no, I couldn't possibly leave here at the moment," he explained. "But I do have another nephew. I will send him over at once."

Nanci remained worried. "Please, hurry!" she implored him. "They're prepping him for surgery now!"

"I assure you. My other nephew will make it within plenty of time. Now if you'll excuse me, Miss Robins, I must call him."

The last thing Waverly hung up the phone. Even as he disconnected with Nurse Nanci Robins he was already picking up the mike to call Solo.

"Open Channel D. Priority, Napoleon Solo."

April Dancer pulled Napoleon's communicator from his hand as he fumbled with it while trying to drive. "Dancer here, Mr. Waverly. We have a lead on Illya's whereabouts."

"Sleepy Hollow Psychiatric Hospital," Waverly said.

The group in the van glanced around at each other. As usual their boss seemed two steps ahead of them.

"Uh... Yes sir," she replied. "We need the address." All they knew was that it was north of the area they were in at the moment.

Napoleon mentally calculated a route as Waverly rattled off the address.

"You better not worry about the traffic speed restrictions, Mr. Solo," Waverly instructed him. "I have it on good authority that they plan to take Mr. Kuryakin into surgery soon."

"Surgery?" April repeated.

"Yes. A lobotomy," Waverly said rather calmly. "I suggest you hurry before U.N.C.L.E. loses a good agent."

Napoleon knew that was an understatement. Waverly always understated the imperativeness of a situation. He floored the gas peddle. All he could see in the rear view mirror was a pair of legs, belonging to Burke, flailing in the air as he tried to sit up again.

It wasn't unexpected when they picked up a police car or two on their way. Napoleon ignored them in his haste to get to Sleepy Hollow.

No one wanted the job, so the staff drew straws and the unlucky four were chosen to take Curry from the isolation room to the operating theatre. They were accompanied by two security persons. Luckily for them all the fight was nearly gone from the patient.

Illya tried pleading with them as they wheeled him through the corridors. "You don't know what you're doing. Kopf is mad. He's told you all lies. I'm not Ian Curry. I'm Illya Kuryakin. I work for the U.N.C.L.E. and I really am an agent. Call them. Talk to Waverly."

"We know all about your delusions, Mr. Curry," one of the orderlies replied. "Just try to relax. You'll wake up feeling like a new man."

"No. Please, call him."

"We're here," Napoleon called out to those in the back as he spun off the main street into the driveway. He screeched to a halt outside the main entrance to the building and yelled at Saunders. "You and Burke take care of the police." Even as he said that, April had thrown open the passenger door and she and Mark rushed toward the hospital.

Saunders threw open the back door of the van and Burke rolled out to the ground as he was pulling out his ID. He waved it in the air as Saunders jumped out to join him. "Hang on," Saunders called to the police. "We're with U.N.C.L.E. We're all on the same side, guys."

The panic that Napoleon's barging caused was soon laid to rest, and with reluctance locked doors began to give way to them.

It seemed like forever as they went ever deeper into what Napoleon felt must have been a house of horrors to Kuryakin. He knew of Illya's aversion to hospitals and doctors, especially psychiatrists, but the truth was he had no idea of the horrors from which they sprang. Those were dark areas of Illya's memory that had never been shared with him.

Illya's eyes went wide as four orderlies lay across his body holding down his already bound form. They'd put straight jacket on him again while he was out. Doctors disguised in their white gowns, heads hidden under white caps, and faces masked by bands of fabric leaving nothing exposed but cold, unfeeling eyes, stood ready to do the dirty deed.

"Mr. Curry. I'm going to put a mask on your face," the voice told him. "Just breathe deeply. You'll be asleep in no time and then it will all be over."

"No! No!" he yelled feeling as helpless as he did as a child. "Please don't. Just call U.N.C.L.E.!"

The mask got closer, looming like a monster from hell about to consume him. He took a huge gulp of air to hold it off as long as possible and shook his head. In the background he could hear the buzz of the electric clippers getting closer.

No. No....nnnooooo...... he thought as he squirmed as best he could. It was to no avail as one of the men gave a quick push to his diaphragm causing him to expel what little air he hand. All he could do was breathe in their noxious mixture, and then finally his eyes closed, his body unable to do anything more for him.

One of the surgical nurses ran her fingers through the patient's blond hair. "It's such a shame to shave this off. It's so beautiful."

"He'll never notice it's gone once the doctor gets through with him," another nurse muttered to her.

They gave each other a knowing look. The surgeon doing this procedure was a butcher. He had a tendency to do too much, often leaving the patient more than just a little docile. None of the staff could figure out how the hospital never got sued as a result of his handiwork. All they could come up with was the families of these poor wretches didn't care if their loved one was less than whole as long as he didn't cause a scandal by acting out.

"Why is this man not bald yet?" the doctor demanded.

The first nurse sighed and touched the clippers to the man's head. With a steady hand, she moved it from front to back, wincing as clumps of spun gold fell to the floor.

"These people are looking for a patient," said the orderly escorting the U.N.C.L.E. agents to the nurse manning the third floor station. So far no one on any floor had heard of a patient named Illya Kuryakin. A couple of people thought the description sounded like a man that had caused a good deal of trouble in the third floor ward but that wasn't the name by which they knew him.

"What's his name?" the nurse asked. The woman had a face so pinched it looked like she used alum for skin cream.

"Illya Kuryakin." Napoleon felt even sorrier for Illya if this was one of the angels of mercy taking care of him.

She frowned, further puckering her features. "The name sounds familiar, but..." She looked through her patient list and shook her head. "No. We don't have anyone by that name."

Another nurse, this one much prettier, stepped up, a harried expression on her face. "You mean his name really is Illya Kuryakin?"

"You know who he's talking about, Nanci?" asked the desk nurse.

Napoleon's attention riveted on the pretty woman. "Do you know him? Is he on this floor?"

"Yes. I mean, no," she stammered, touching her fingers to the base of her throat.

"Which is it?" Napoleon snapped his patience at an end. He wanted Illya and he wanted him NOW! He leaned to within an inch of her face. "Is he or is he not on this floor?"

She took a step back only to run into someone else. She squeaked in surprise and glanced behind her to see another man, arms crossed and feet planted. Her eyes narrowed. "Just who are you people? Did Ian, I mean, Mr. Kuryakin's uncle call you? Are you family?"

Napoleon grabbed her by the arms. "Yes. Mr. Waverly sent me. Now where is he?" Tears formed in her eyes. "They've taken him to surgery."

"He's already in surgery?" Napoleon's heart dropped into his stomach at the news.

"They took him in ten minutes ago."

"Show me where to find him!" Napoleon commanded.

"Yes! Yes, of course! But we have to hurry. They may have already started." She grabbed Napoleon's arm and practically dragged him to the elevator. They piled in and the nurse punched the button for the basement. "Our operating rooms are downstairs." She turned to them. "I've been taking care of Ian since Dr. Kopf brought him here. They don't know him like I do. He doesn't need a lobotomy, at least not at the moment."

"Ian?" asked Mark.

"Mr. Curry. I guess I should say Mr. Kuryakin. Dr. Kopf told us your friend had delusions of being a Russian spy by that name." She chewed on her lip. "Look, his name might really be Illya Kuryakin, but your friend is a disturbed man. I just don't happen to think he is disturbed enough for the kind of surgery they're performing."

The agents glanced at each other. What did Kopf do that might have sent Illya over the edge? Napoleon gritted his teeth. If Illya was mentally unbalanced as a result of Kopf's tampering, the psychiatrist would not live to see another day.

He glanced at the elevator's dial. Only on the second floor! They still had two more to go! He could have walked down faster than this. He shifted from foot to foot in agitation, willing the slow moving box to hurry.

Napoleon Solo was not like his partner. He had emotions and he didn't mind showing them. He doled them out judiciously whereas Illya rejected them outright. He knew what it was like to feel happy, sad, angry, disappointed, even joy.

But not fear. Napoleon Solo feared very little. Nothing, in fact. Not even his own death. Or so he always thought. The terror that now curled itself around his intestines told him he did, indeed, fear one thing. The loss of Illya Kuryakin. The thought that the man he cared about above all else might no longer be a part of his life scared him so thoroughly he could taste its coppery flavor on his tongue.

He had to stop the surgeons before it was too late, If they managed to perform their barbaric procedure on his partner, if they scrambled those brilliant brains before he could stop them, Illya Kuryakin would be as lost to him as he would be in death.

A loud "DING!" signaled their arrival. Napoleon slipped out the moment the doors widened enough to accommodate him. "Which way?"

"To the right. Room four," directed Nanci. She struggled to keep up with the other three as they rushed down the corridor.

Napoleon freed his Special from its holster as he scanned the numbers on the doors. One, two, three...FOUR! He pointed at the door with his weapon. He slammed through the swinging doors, assuming April and Mark would be watching his back.

He skidded to a stop at the sight of a puddle of blond hair beneath Illya's half bald head. The white gowned and masked woman wielding the clippers screeched when she turned and found herself looking down the barrel of a huge gun. The clippers dropped from her nervous fingers and fell onto the hard floor, its buzzing making it hop around.

The absurd sight broke Napoleon's trance. He moved his weapon to cover a man in surgical garb holding a bone saw. "If that gets any nearer to him, I will kill you." He made the comment in an even, calm tone, but his blazing eyes guaranteed it was not a bluff.

The doctors and nurses froze in their tracks. The surgeon slowly set the saw onto a tray.

April and Mark hurried to Illya's side and began unbuckling the restraints.

The part of the surgeon's face not covered by the mask darkened in anger. "I don't know who you think you are, but you are making a big mistake." He pointed at his patient, his hand shaking with emotion. "This man is a danger to himself and to others. I'm about to do a procedure which will enable him to possibly one day live in society. Would you deny him that?"

"I deny him very little," Napoleon stated.

A look passed between his two companions at the admission. Mark's brows shot up and April's mouth quirked, and they knew they thought the same thing. It was true enough, but neither thought Napoleon was aware of it.

"However, the mistake will be yours if you continue," Napoleon went on. "This man is an agent with the U.N.C.L.E., and he was abducted by Dr. Hermann Kopf. If you touch him at this point, I will have you brought up on charges of accessory to kidnapping of and injury to a law enforcement agent."

The surgeon's mouth fell open. "L-l-law enf-f-forcement agent?"

"Law. Enforcement. Agent," Napoleon emphasized.

April popped off the last restraint. They pulled Illya into a sitting position and Mark held him up while April started in on the straight jacket. "I can't believe they were going to do surgery on him while he was in a straight jacket. What kind of a backwoods outfit is this, anyway?" she muttered.

"He's injured several of our employees," the surgical nurse defended. "You should have seen Dr. Kopf! He broke every bone in the doctor's arms and hands!"

April shook her head, a grim smile of satisfaction on her face. "Never piss Illya off. It's neither smart nor healthy." She popped the last buckle on the jacket.

"As you bloody idiots discovered first hand," added Mark as he helped April divest Illya from his worst fashion statement yet. When they'd finished, they laid him back on the table and stepped away. Both pulled out their weapons and trained them on the surgical personnel.

Napoleon holstered his Special and moved to Illya. Instead of slinging his friend over his shoulder in a fireman's carry as they each had done for the other so many times in their careers, he gently lifted him into his arms, holding him as he would the most precious treasure. To him, that was exactly what Illya was. "Come on, partner," he murmured to his sedated friend and lover. "Let's go home."

Napoleon cradled Illya's limp body all the way to where a gurney was set up and guarded by Burke and Saunders. The two junior agents had arranged an ambulance and a police escort from the hospital to U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon chose to ride with Illya and let the others take the van back. Nurse Robins came along, insisting that should he begin to wake up, although under his sedation it wasn't likely, he would probably want a medical face he trusted. The CEA tried to protest, but it was obvious she had a kindness toward her patient and when he stopped to think it over he deemed it a good idea.

"Oh, all his lovely hair," she said brushing the bald side of Illya's head lightly with her fingers. "It's such a shame they cut it so much of it off."

Napoleon thought the same thing but he cleared his throat. "Ahem. Yes. Yes it is, but he won't care. It will grow back soon enough."

"Ian always seemed so sad. I just wanted to cheer him up. Give him some hope that he would be well." Nanci sat back in her seat, the empathy for her patient clearly displayed in her expression. "Are you his cousin?" she asked.

A small smile spread over Napoleon's grim features. "You could say that."

"You don't look much alike," she told him.

Napoleon actually laughed. "But we're very close."

"Why didn't you come to see him?"

"That's," he said slowly, "a difficult question to answer. Mr. Waverly can explain that better than I could."

"Ian's uncle? Yes. He seems very nice."

Napoleon frowned and furrowed his brow. "You know him?"

"Well I've only met him the once but we did talk several times," Nanci admitted. "He showed great concern for his nephew."

Napoleon forced a smile. "Yes. I'm sure he did." The wheels began to turn in his mind as he started to put it all together. He didn't care for what he discovered.

The next two hours were probably the most stressful two hours of Napoleon's life. Although they gave him the news that Illya would be fine with no physical damage other than some bruises that would heal quickly, the confrontation with Waverly left much to be desired. As Slate and Saunders set Illya up in Napoleon's bedroom—he'd convinced U.N.C.L.E. that Illya would be more relaxed waking up outside a hospital setting—he poured himself a drink and fumed over the harsh words exchanged with the old man.

"Of course I knew from the start where Mr. Kuryakin was and what was going on. I keep abreast of all situations regarding the agents under my jurisdiction."

"That was akin to torture," Napoleon accused him. "That makes you no better than the THRUSH agents we battle day in and day out."

"Hardly, Mr. Solo," Waverly replied calmly. "I do what is in the best interests of U.N.C.L.E. and its people."

"Do you realize what they were about to do to him?" Napoleon shouted at Waverly. "They were going to cut his brain in two! Turn him into a vegetable!"

"Nonsense. You were sent to fetch him before that happened. For your information this wasn't just about Mr. Kuryakin. I was investigating Dr. Kopf as well."

"Kopf? The man is a quack. A lunatic who shouldn't be practicing medicine," Napoleon stated sourly.

Waverly puffed on his pipe. "Quite. I think U.N.C.L.E. will terminate its association with the man."

"Terminate its association? If I had my way I would terminate him permanently. If you ask me," Napoleon said with more venom than he intended, "I think you're as guilty as anyone in this."

"Mr. Solo," Waverly said while getting to his feet. His posture challenged Napoleon to any kind of duel he wished. "As CEA in training to one day take this chair, it will do you good to set your feelings aside when it comes to people. It takes a clear head to do this job."

"Well, maybe I'm not the man to fill your shoes, after all," Napoleon said before walking out on him.

"You have a lovely place here, Mr. Solo," Nanci said. "I'm still a little confused about the whole thing but I think Mr. Kur-ee-yah-kin is lucky to have a friend like you."

Napoleon smiled. "We've known each other a long time. It's good of you to give up your free time to help out tonight," he thanked her. "After what he went through, I know he wouldn't feel comfortable waking up in any hospital even if it is our own medical facilities."

She watched Slate and Saunders let themselves out for the night. "Well, in a way I feel guilty about what he went on there. I wish I'd known the truth sooner."

He shook his head. "None of it was your fault. In fact, I think you were the only good thing about his time there."

Nanci blushed and turned her head, hiding her bashful eyes beneath her bangs. "I was only looking after a patient."

"I'm glad someone was," he said, naturally turning on the charm.

She paused as her face flushed even more. "Uhmm... Perhaps we should think about some dinner. I'm sure you haven't eaten in a while either," she suggested changing the subject.

He nodded. "Are you any good at cooking?" he asked.

"Well..." she said. "I do make some great pasta if you any on hand."

He extended his arm toward the kitchen. "Anything I have is yours to use."

She smiled and stood up happy to have something to do. "Great. I love to cook."

"Meanwhile," he said. "I'll check on Illya. Just call when it's ready."

Illya looked like a little doll sleeping in the huge plush bed. Napoleon walked over and sat on the edge next to Illya and looked at him. With the cocktail of drugs in Kuryakin's system, the doctors decided to just let him wake up naturally.

With tender fingers Napoleon reached up to run over the stubble where the golden hair once flowed. "I can't do this any more, Illya," he said softly. "I'd only drag you down with me and for what? A fling that may end in six months or a year? Waverly knew where you were and what was going on. He never once told me about it or even made a move to get you out. I can't forgive him for that, and I don't think I could ever put myself in those shoes. Treat my own people as nothing but disposable tools to get a job done." He hung his head. "I care about you too much to lure you away from a job you love, but at the same time I can't bring myself to stay and watch you die doing it. Maybe you were right about me. I'm totally selfish. It's no wonder you have been rejecting me for weeks."

He laughed to himself. "Look at me. I'm such a coward. I can't even tell you this to your face."

It was clear to Napoleon now. Making these admissions vanquished the fog of emotions that had been clouding his mind. U.N.C.L.E. was not his future. Not now.

Persecution resulting from childhood trauma, psychosis, paranoia, delusions of...

Waverly scanned through the confiscated notes of Dr. Kopf. Kuryakin's file made for interesting reading. Kopf had tried a standard approach but unfortunately entered into the treatment with preconceived notions. Instead of getting to the root of Illya's psyche, the good doctor was actually creating his own fantasies about what was making up the agent.

The pipe had gone cold and Waverly tipped it into an ashtray before repacking it. As he relit the tobacco, he considered the value gained from his actions. Pacing his study at home, he rethought his decision to allow Kopf's continuation of treatment once it had been discovered that the man had kidnapped Kuryakin. In retrospect he believed that he should probably have sent Kopf for psychological evaluation instead.

Taking a seat once more, Waverly went over in his mind how close a call it actually had become. Had anything happened to Kuryakin, Waverly knew the truth was that it would have been entirely his own fault.

Looking at the manila envelope, Waverly picked up the file and stuffed it inside. Kopf's insane motivations had contaminated the result rendering them useless. The only thing they were good for was damaging an agent's reputation. The old cat and mouse game with the U.N.C.L.E. psychiatrists would remain as it always had.

Waverly set down his pipe and went to the hidden safe. There he locked away the report. As guilty as he felt for letting the situation escalate beyond his control, a rarity for him, he could not bring himself to destroy the evidence. Guilt was a privilege he could not afford to indulge in at U.N.C.L.E.

The screaming went on into the night. Bound to the bed by thick leather straps, Kopf yelled out hoping someone would hear. "I'm a doctor, not a patient! Let me out of here!"

"Who's that?" the fresh duty nurse asked of the new addition to the psychiatric ward of Bellevue.

"That was Dr. Kopf. He used to be a psychiatrist until he went nuts the other day," an orderly said with an ironic laugh in his tone.

April Dancer, her hands on her hips, looked up at Slate leaning against the wall. "Too bad. I guess his insurance won't pay for private treatment," she said. They smirked with satisfaction as the orderly pushed the gurney through the double doors that locked with a thud of finality behind Kopf.

The End

paulaH and GJ

May18, 2008

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