A Man of Few Words

by nickovetch

Number Two, Section Two swept through the infirmary doors and looked at the empty beds grimly, blue eyes intense and guarded.

His gaze burned through the duty nurse at her desk and he asked abruptly, "Where is he? Where is Napoleon Solo?" Missing nothing, Illya Kuryakin noted the way the woman's eyes darted nervously to one side of the room. His peripheral vision saw movement a moment before he turned to nearly collide with Alexander Waverly. The frown on his boss' haggard face made his stomach clench in fear.

"Mr. Kuryakin," Waverly greeted as he took Illya's elbow and steered him back into the hallway. Kuryakin spared one look back at the austere room he had left, hoping to get a glimpse of his partner.

"Napoleon was brought here? Team Three found him? Where? How is he?" He took a deep breath, unnerved at the way his voice sounded. He couldn't fall apart in front of Number One. The grip on his arm was surprisingly strong, and he had no choice but to let Waverly lead him.

"Mr. Kuryakin. Mr. Solo was indeed brought to Medical a short time ago. Agent Benson's team found him in a Thrush stronghold on Long Island. Right under our noses, as it were."

Illya recognized where they were heading and stiffened in shock. He stopped abruptly and faced Waverly with a calm demeanor that he hoped hid the quavering of his insides.

"Psychiatric Ward? How...how bad is it, sir?"

"We don't know just yet. The doctors have given him an exam and he has some physical traumas but nothing life-threatening." At Illya's scowl he elaborated. "Bruised ribs, cracked jaw, two broken fingers, and a slight concussion. Unfortunate, but not enough to warrant his current condition."

Illya braced himself for the rest of the report. "Which is?"

Waverly's face softened as he took in the look on his young agent's face. "I think it best if you see for yourself."

Kuryakin closed his eyes at that remark knowing that whatever Napoleon's condition was it wouldn't be good. He sighed and nodded to Mr. Waverly.

His badge allowed him access through the outer entrance to the ward, but he had to stop until an orderly keyed the inner door open for him. Napoleon won't be sneaking out of here very easily, he thought and then grimaced as he remembered where he was. He cleared his face of emotion and followed the bulky orderly to a room a few doors down. The man produced a key and opened the door wide enough to allow Illya in but no one else out. He gave the agent a look of sympathy and then locked the door from the outside.

Illya heard him sit down outside the door and then took a quick sweep of the room. Video cameras sat at opposite corners recording every moment. Medical equipment covered one half of the south wall, various readouts beeping and blipping and feeding telemetry to the nurses' station. He checked the screens for a moment to assess his partner's heartbeat, respiration and brain activity. He let out a sigh of relief at finding them steadier than he expected. Steadier than I am at the moment, he thought to himself.

His partner was lying very still in his bed, covered with a starched sheet and a thin blanket. He had a gauze square taped above his right eye and his jaw was swollen on the right side, too. Goon must have been left-handed, he thought abstractedly as he assessed the damage.

Napoleon was very pale, his normal tan blanched to a sickly yellow. His lips trembled and spittle formed in the corners of his cracked mouth and dripped down his chin every few moments. Illya felt the anger building inside him at the price Solo had paid for his last mission. He wanted to take him in his arms and hold him until he woke, but he settled for taking a cool cloth and wiping his face clean. He placed a gentle hand on the creased forehead and sweat-sheened cheeks, pretending to check for fever but needing to feel the warmth of his lover under his hand as much as to reassure Napoleon of his presence.

He had learned to find ways to surreptitiously connect with Napoleon without giving too much away to the world around them. A glance, a touch, a word was all it took to get his true meaning across. He would be expected to show concern for his partner in his present state, however, so he justified holding Solo's hand as appropriate behavior. He squeezed the cool fingers and said softly, "Napoleon."

There was no recognition, no twitch, no pressure from the dead weight of Solo's hand within his. If anything, the facial tremors became worse and Solo's lips seemed to be trying to form words. There was no sound and Illya tried again.

"Napoleon." He leaned closer to the ear he had nuzzled so many times in private and said softly, "Polya, I'm here."

Solo seemed to blink back to awareness for a split second and Illya clearly heard him say, "Don't talk." He then spasmed under Illya's hand and his muscles jerked taut.

Illya nearly leaped back in confusion as all the monitors began to go wild around him. Solo's heartbeat doubled, his respirations became gasps and the alarms began to shriek. Illya tried to soothe Napoleon as he heard a commotion in the hall. His own heart seemed to be trying to work its way out through his throat at present.

Kuryakin stepped out of the way as the technicians and nurses began to work on his partner. "What happened? Did I do something wrong?" he fearfully asked the doctor.

Dr. Martin shook his head as he injected something into Solo's I.V. line. "He's been like this since he came in—unresponsive one minute and hyper-excitable the next. We haven't figured out the cause yet. You didn't do anything wrong, Mr. Kuryakin."

Napoleon began to relax as the drugs took hold. His vital signs returned to normal, and the staff began to filter out of the room. Dr. Martin remained and put a hand on Illya's thin shoulder.

"I don't know what else to do, Illya. We ran tox screens and found some residual chemicals but not in enough quantity to account for this. We'll just have to give your partner some time and see if he can come out of it on his own."

"And sedate him into a coma while you're at it?" he asked bluntly. This was his partner's life they were discussing and any decorum he would usually show a doctor left him at the thought of what treatment Napoleon would receive in a psychiatric ward.

Dr. Martin looked at his feet for a moment, trying not to return the anger that radiated from Solo's partner like heat from a stove. He cleared his throat softly and said, "I'm not the enemy here, Illya. I'm trying to help Napoleon, too."

The smaller man sighed and looked the doctor in the eyes when he said, "I'm sorry, Jack. I know you're doing the best you can for him."

Illya took Napoleon's hand in his again and pulled a chair next to the bed. The look on his face told Jack he might as well capitulate earlier than later. Dr. Martin pressed the call buzzer and a moment later a nurse's voice answered.

"Please bring a cot in here for Mr. Kuryakin. He has unlimited access to this patient."

The disembodied voice answered, "Yes, doctor."

He looked at Kuryakin and saw the gratitude on his features at the kindness of the gesture. "I just know from experience that a locked door and an orderly, even one the size of Bill out there, couldn't keep you out, anyway, Illya. Might as well look like the good guy here."

The Russian kept his eyes on the steady rise and fall of Napoleon's chest as he spoke to Dr. Martin. "What can I do to help him?"

Martin sighed and put his hand on Kuryakin's arm. The muscles underneath his hand were bunched with unused adrenaline. "Just talk to him. He knows your voice and on some level he may be responsive to you. I gave him a light sedative and it should wear off in an hour or two. Until then, just relax and be here for him."

Martin turned at the sound of the door being keyed. Bill was manhandling a folded army cot through the opening and his eyes asked a question of his boss.

"It's okay, Mr. Kuryakin can stay here. I'll check him out on the monitors before I go. Just make sure he eats and takes a couple of breaks, will you?" He grinned at Illya who returned the look with a fierce sneer. "I can check you out a dart gun from the armory if you think you'll need one, Bill."

Bill straightened up to his imposing six foot four inches and loomed over the seated agent. "I don't think we'll have any problems, will we, Mr. Kuryakin?"

Illya craned his neck to look him in the face and said, sotto voce, "Not at all. I already have my sleep darts."

Bill turned red around the ears and backed out the door, making a great show of locking the door.

Martin laughed and a small smile appeared on Kuryakin's face. "Try not to shoot any of my staff, will you, Agent Kuryakin? One's out having a baby, and we're short staffed as it is."

"A man who makes no promises breaks no promises," Illya said cryptically, but he was smiling anyway.

Dr. Martin spent the next few minutes explaining the machinery and their functions. Illya was all too familiar with the medical terminology, and Jack left him with his patient, confident that Solo was in capable hands.

When it had quieted, Illya sank into the chair wearily and took up his vigil. A last look at the readouts assured him Napoleon was indeed merely resting, so he took firmer hold of his partner's lax hand and closed his eyes.

A sound woke him some time later. Illya straightened and felt Solo's hand still gripped in his. He looked at Napoleon and took a quick breath. His eyes were open, staring blankly at the ceiling tile, and there was a look about him that made Illya feel uneasy. It was as if Napoleon were blanking himself to his environment, detaching himself intentionally. Illya had seen that look before. Too many times, actually, after a Thrush-mediated torture session had ended and one of them waited for the other shoe to drop.

Unnerved, Illya bent closer to his friend and waved a hand in front of his face. Solo did not react, flinch, or otherwise acknowledge Illya's presence. He stood up and leaned over Napoleon, allowing him to see his face. Still no flicker or change in expression. Kuryakin took Solo's face in his strong hands and turned him to face him.

"Napoleon? Can you hear me? Do you know who I am?"

There was no response and Illya's stomach tightened in worry. Mindful of the recording devices, he kept from touching Napoleon as he would have liked. Instead, he rubbed the tight shoulders for a moment and tried to soothe the tension there.

"It's Illya, Napoleon. I'm here. You're safe now. If you can hear me, squeeze my hand. Can you blink your eyes, Polya? Come on; show me something here, milok."

There was nothing in the haggard face that allowed Illya to recognize that this was the man he knew and loved. There was a soulless, haunted look in the dark eyes that made Illya want to look away. Instead, he smoothed the unruly forelock of hair that never quite stayed in place and caressed the smooth forehead.

Realizing it would be a long night Illya assembled the cot next to the hospital bed and made it up in preparation for sleep. He used the small bathroom and noted that Dr. Martin had stocked it with the essentials. Brushing his teeth, he glanced in the mirror and was startled at the reflection there. His face was stubbled with pale beard and dark circles were starting under his eyes. He resolved to clean himself up in the morning and to try and assume the appearance of a human being. He'd also have to talk to Mr. Waverly about taking vacation days so he could stay with Napoleon.

Snapping off the light, he padded to the cot and stretched out as comfortably as he could on the narrow frame. Listening to the cadence of Napoleon's breath and counting the beeps on the monitor reassured him enough to relax, and he felt the pull of sleep drag him down. So tired was he that he didn't notice the comings and goings of the hospital staff as they went about their nightly routine. One of the nurses brought a blanket and covered him with it sometime during the night.

Illya awoke to sunlight streaming in through the barred window, immediately getting up to check on his partner. Napoleon's eyes were closed and he appeared to be sleeping. Quietly, Illya folded the cot and placed it against the wall nearest the bathroom. After making himself presentable, he pushed the call button.

An orderly appeared a moment later, unlocking the door and ushering Illya out into the corridor. "Will you please tell Dr. Martin I will be back as soon as possible?"

"Of course. He'll be making rounds soon, anyway. I'll stay with Mr. Solo until he arrives."

Illya nodded his gratitude to the young man. "Thank you," he squinted to read the nameplate, "Mr. Tomlinson." Kuryakin had an uneasy feeling that he would get to know the staffs' names all too soon.

"No problem, sir. They call me 'Tommy' by the way." He smiled and ran a large hand through his shock of wavy red hair, the color matched by the riot of freckles covering his face.

"Tell me, Tommy, is girth a requirement to work on this floor?" He saw a frown form on the man's face until he realized the enforcement agent was kidding with him.

Tommy smothered the smile trying to break out as he countered with, "Is it in Section Two?"

Kuryakin gave a quick look down at himself and answered ruefully, "What do you think?"

"I think I'd better go check on my patient before I become one myself, sir." He crept into the room quietly so as not to wake Solo.

Illya stretched, yawned and headed for his office to freshen up before requesting to see Waverly. While shaving he buzzed Lisa and asked to be put on the roster to speak with his boss.

"You're in luck, Mr. Kuryakin. His 9:30 appointment cancelled. Fogged in. I'll put you down right away."

"Thank you, Miss Rogers."

Twenty minutes later he was as presentable as he could manage and walked into Alexander Waverly's office. Mr. Waverly was absorbed in a printout and casually waved him in to take a seat. He dropped into his customary chair and couldn't help a quick glance over at Napoleon's spot. He should be there now and not in the Psych Ward, he thought. A small sigh must have escaped him as Mr. Waverly looked up at him for a moment and then placed the readout on the table.

"I checked with Dr. Martin a few minutes ago as to Mr. Solo's case." He frowned, causing his eyebrows to stand out even further. "Do you have any further insights as to his condition?"

"I'm not a doctor, sir..."

Waverly harrumphed and added, "No, but you are his partner and his closest friend. Your opinion is just as important."

Kuryakin was startled to hear his gruff boss speak so plainly. He didn't know what to say and settled for a careful, "I don't know yet, sir. I need more time to observe him and to try and draw him out. I know he can hear me and recognize me. He's just...lost...is the best way I can describe it, Mr. Waverly."

"Well, we must do everything in our power to see that he is...found...as soon as possible."

Illya agreed. "To that end, sir, I would like to take my accumulated vacation time and use it now. Napoleon is in that bed because of me..."

Waverly interrupted, "Nonsense. He is there because of Thrush and no one else, Mr. Kuryakin."

"...because he ordered me to get the code back to headquarters and I left him behind," the Russian completed.

The older man leaned back in his chair and regarded his young agent for a moment. Kuryakin looked haunted and lost himself; worry and uncertainty gnawing at him in equal measure.

"You said it yourself, Mr. Kuryakin. Mr. Solo ordered you. And you obeyed. There is no reproach in those circumstances." He saw the tight shoulders relax the least bit at that, and he continued.

"Now, as for the time off, you most certainly will not be on vacation." Waverly saw the look of bewilderment on Illya's face and almost smiled. "I'm assigning you to Mr. Solo as personal bodyguard. His safety is paramount right now, and I can think of no one else who would guarantee the safety of my chief agent better than his own partner."

Illya bit back the argument he'd rehearsed and held ready and snapped his mouth shut with an audible click. "I...of course, sir. I'll get right on the...assignment." He stood and fairly ran out the door before his boss could change his mind.

Waverly reached for a pipe as he allowed himself to smile now. "Partner and closest friend, indeed. I'm not blind, you know..."

Kuryakin went directly to his partner's room. He didn't like what he saw there. Dr. Martin and an orderly were placing a semi-conscious Solo in restraints. Solo's I.V. line had been torn out, and Dr. Martin had a cut trickling blood above his eyebrow.

"What happened?" Illya asked as he walked to the side of the bed and took in the rigid and sweating posture of his partner.

"I don't know, Mr. Kuryakin. I was just finishing my exam when he began to come around and started thrashing and moaning. He didn't seem to be aware of where he was or what he was doing, obviously," Jack said as he wiped blood from his face.

Something the doctor said triggered a memory and Illya stopped him with a hand. "You said he was moaning. Did he say anything? Any words?"

Dr. Martin thought for a moment and said, "Now that you mention it, he did. He said, 'Don't talk.' Yes, I'm sure of it. He repeated it, actually, until I could sedate him enough to get him in restraints. I hate to do this, Illya, but it's for his own safety."

Kuryakin was silent as he gazed at Napoleon, an idea beginning to form in his head. "'Don't talk...'"

"What? What is it, Illya?"

"I'm not sure. But he said that to me before he had a seizure yesterday as well. Is talking the catalyst for the seizure or..."

Dr. Martin picked up on the idea and expounded on it. "Or is it a conditioned response? Illya, I think you've got something here." He checked Solo's reflexes and shined a light into his eyes as he completed a neural exam. "There's nothing physical I can find that would cause this behavior. So that would mean..."

"It is psychological." Illya paced the small room quickly, thinking out loud. "What if Napoleon did this to himself? In response to torture? What if he were afraid he would crack and figured out a way to keep from talking?"

"'Don't talk, don't talk...'" Jack snapped his fingers and grinned at the Russian. "Of course, Illya, that's it!"

"It is?" Illya asked, puzzled, but not wanting to derail the doctor's train of thought.

"Yes. Okay, hear me out. Solo is worried he'll crack and starts to condition himself against talking. Every time they use the drugs or torture him, whatever the stimulus, he starts chanting, 'Don't talk, don't talk' like a mantra. Eventually he sets up a mental loop and he can't talk without throwing his system into a tailspin. The drugs they used must have decreased his seizure threshold enough to allow him to use their own stimuli against them. It's bloody brilliant!"

Illya looked at the pale face of his lover and frowned. "But at what cost?"

Martin stepped up to the bed and laid a gentle hand over Illya's. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make light of this. But at least we can get an idea of where to begin to treat him."

"What do we have to do to break this mental loop?" Illya stroked the dark hair back from Napoleon's forehead and sighed.

"Well, we have to start to un-condition him. Break the cycle. We have to use different stimuli to establish new pathways to his responses to environment. Speaking to us seems to set this off, so I would recommend we find alternative ways to communicate with him."

Illya was way ahead of Martin. "All right. He's not going to get any better here, drugged to the gills. Jack, I want to take him out of here, take him home. Home to his apartment where he'll feel safe and comfortable. The familiar environment should only help, right?"

"Yes, but you have to realize that this could take a while, Illya. And he's been violent. How are you going to handle him by yourself?"

Illya snorted. "I am an enforcement agent, doctor. And I've been assigned to protect him. Well, I'm going to start doing that right now."

He turned to leave the room. "Please get him ready to go. Take whatever precautions you think are necessary. I'm going to start the paperwork so I can get him out of here."

Martin nodded and took Illya's elbow before he could leave. "I'll have an ambulance ready and prepped with what I think you'll need when you get back."

Frowning, Kuryakin shook his head. "No ambulance. We'll use my car. I don't want to announce Napoleon's debilitated condition to the local fowl. I'd like to borrow Bill or Tommy if possible, at least until we get him settled in the apartment."

"Of course. I'll come along and show you how to administer the medications, if they are warranted."

Number Two, Section Two held out his hand to Martin and shook it gratefully. "Thank you, Jack."

Illya leaned into the hall and motioned for the orderly on duty. It was Tommy and he trotted over like an eager puppy. "Yes, Mr. Kuryakin?"

"Watch the door for me until I get back, will you, Tommy?"

"You got it, sir."

Satisfied that Napoleon was safe for the time being, Illya went off to give his report to Waverly. He was sure he could convince him of the logic of this move. He had to get Napoleon away from the hospital setting and give him an opportunity to heal. Illya was the only person Solo could trust enough to open up to. It might not be easy, but it was the only chance he had.

Forty minutes later, Illya was overseeing the transfer of the C.E.A. from his room to Kuryakin's car in the sub-basement garage. Bill and Tommy maneuvered the stretcher next to the passenger side and Illya unlocked and opened the door. Wasting no time, Illya undid the vile restraints, and he and Bill manhandled his partner's unresisting body into the passenger seat. The larger man settled Solo comfortably and clicked the seat belt into place. He gently adjusted the headrest to give Napoleon support for the trip.

"There you are, Mr. Solo. Ready for your trip home." There was no response in the glazed eyes and slack expression and Bill looked forlornly to Illya for a moment. "He's still sedated from the medication, Mr. Kuryakin. Don't worry; he'll perk up when he gets home."

"Thank you, Bill. You've been very kind to Napoleon. I want you to know I'll remember this." Illya clasped hands with the towering man and couldn't help but notice how his hand disappeared in the other.

Bill blushed and said, "I just hope he comes out of it real soon, sir."

Illya nodded and didn't trust his voice to reply. He cleared his throat once and looked to the other orderly. "Ready, Tommy?"

"Yes, sir," he answered and squeezed in the back behind the driver's seat.

"Good thing you both aren't coming. There'd be no room for me in this car." He grinned at Bill and shook hands with Dr. Martin. "Thanks again, Jack. I appreciate the trust you have in me with your patient."

Jack handed over the bag of supplies he'd packed and said, "I may be his doctor, but you're his partner. No one knows him better than you, and if anyone can reach him..."

Tossing the bag back to Tommy, Illya got behind the wheel and waved at the two men before pulling away.

Dodging mid-day traffic, Illya had his hands full and spared few glances at Solo. He was unresponsive at best, and Illya worried about his abilities to take care of him now that he was away from the professionals. He shook off the gloomy thoughts and concentrated on driving. It wouldn't do to get in a wreck on the way home from the hospital, he thought wryly.

Nearly an hour later, Illya eased into the parking deck at Solo's complex. He went to the rear of the parking area intending on taking Napoleon in the back way. Fewer eyes around to note the proceedings. He parked in the manager's spot and opened the door to let Tommy ease out.

They were very near the freight elevator and Illya indicated the lift to Tommy. "We'll take him up through there, all right?"

Calling for the elevator, Illya pushed the hold button and then helped Tommy guide Solo into the opening. He moved his feet but seemed unaware of doing so. His head hung down and his breathing echoed harshly inside the cavernous elevator. Leaning close, Illya whispered in his ear, "We're almost home, Napoleon. Just a few more floors." Illya felt his partner twitch when he spoke to him and hoped he wouldn't start to seize in the freight compartment. Tommy felt it, too, and gave a worried look to the agent.

The door opened on the top floor and Illya breathed a sigh of relief. The two men supported their burden down the hall and around to the northernmost corner of the building. Kuryakin had his copy of the key out and ready as he shifted Solo's weight to allow the door to swing in.

"Back bedroom," Illya said breathlessly as they made their way to the master suite. They all three sat on the side of the bed and caught their breath.

"Hang on, Tommy, while I get what we need to make him comfortable."

Napoleon kept his place neat as a pin and had a woman in to clean for him every week, so Illya had no trouble finding what he needed. A quick trip to the large dresser yielded pajamas and soft socks and Illya blushed a bit knowing the right side of the dresser contained a set of his own clothing for the times he stayed over.

Tommy had already removed the shoes and socks and was stripping off the hospital johnnie as well. Solo lifted his head for a moment and then took no more interest in the proceedings. They dressed him quickly and Illya noticed the Foley had been removed along with the I.V. line. He hoped Napoleon would be able to use the bathroom with help. A catheter would make things complicated. Laying his partner back onto the clean sheets, Illya positioned the pillows and blankets until he was satisfied of Solo's comfort. The American seemed to focus on his face for a moment and then closed his eyes, exhausted.

"We bathed and shaved him this morning, so he should be okay for today, Mr. Kuryakin." Tommy moved off the bed and placed the contents of the medical bag on Napoleon's dresser. "Just give him his antibiotics and check his broken fingers for circulation. The concussion is slight and he's shown no ill effects with it. He should be able to ambulate after the sedation wears off, but I'll leave a bedpan just in case."

He gave Illya some syringes and a bottle of diazepam and motioned him away from the bed. "If he becomes violent, give him two ccs of Valium in his tricep or hip. It will take a few minutes that way, but it's easier than trying to hit a vein."

At the look on Kuryakin's face, Tommy sighed and said, "Are you up to this, sir? I know it seems like a lot to hit you with."

Illya walked to the bed and knelt down next to Napoleon. "He's my partner, Tommy. And more, he's my friend. I can take care of him. God knows he's taken care of me in worse situations." Illya smiled at the lie. "Well, almost as bad..."

"Look, Illya, if things get rough, call me or Bill. We can be here in half an hour. And Dr. Martin will be over every day to check on him."

Rising, Illya smoothed the blanket over Napoleon's chest and escorted Tommy through the apartment. He gave him cash for a taxi back to HQ and thanked him again for his help. Illya watched the large form as he made his way back down the corridor. Tommy turned to wave goodbye and Illya returned the gesture. He locked the door and then sagged wearily against it.

Doubts assailed him now that he was alone and he refused to listen to their dark story. Instead he went to the bedroom and took off his shoes and jacket. Lying down next to Napoleon he finally took him in his arms as he had wanted to do from the first. Napoleon was drowsing and lay quietly. Illya breathed in the scent of his hair and skin and pulled him closer to his body.

Mindful of Dr. Martin's words, he did not try to speak to Napoleon, but instead used touch to convey his feelings. He ran caressing hands along Solo's forearms, stroking his shoulders and upper arms gently. Illya kissed the dark head and rubbed his cheek against Solo's smooth one. Napoleon stirred against him and made a low noise in his throat.

"Shh, shh, milok." Illya whispered gentle murmurings in Napoleon's ear, enough to let him know he was there. He kept up the physical connection and was pleased when his partner relaxed and stopped trying to vocalize. Napoleon sighed against his cheek and allowed the touches to continue. He nodded off a few moments later, and Illya repositioned him to recline against his chest. Kuryakin held him as he dozed and luxuriated in the intimacy. He wrapped his legs around Napoleon's calves and buried his toes under his ankles. With an easy sigh Illya placed his cheek against the dark hair and rested there. A few matched heartbeats later he slept as well.

Quick, furtive movement woke him some time later. Napoleon was struggling to rise, and the way they were tangled together made it difficult. Illya released his partner and slipped next to him. He made eye contact and let Solo take in the new information. The frantic motions stopped slowly and Napoleon made as if to speak to him. Illya quickly placed a gentle finger to his lover's lips and said softly, "Hush. Don't try to talk. I'm here, Polya. I'm here."

Solo seemed to understand who he was, but struggled to look around him, unsure of his bearings. A panicked look started in his eyes and he tried to speak. "D-d-d," came from his lips and he began to shake. Illya did the only thing he could think of to stop the incipient seizure. He placed his lips on Solo's and began to kiss him, tenderly and unthreateningly.

Unable to form words or even thoughts, Napoleon relaxed and the quivering stopped immediately. Illya rejoiced at that small victory and continued to kiss and stroke his love's face. He lay over Solo, allowing as much skin as possible to come in contact with the other man's body. After a short time, he withdrew and pulled back to watch for a reaction.

Napoleon was flushed, his lips swollen from Illya's attention, and he seemed calmer. Illya moved as if to get off the bed and Solo's good hand snaked out lightning-fast to snag Kuryakin's wrist in a death grip. The frightened look was back as quickly as it had left, and Illya returned the grip and used his other hand to move up and down across the smooth chest in a reassuring stroke.

"Easy, Napoleon. I'm not going anywhere. I promise. I'm right here with you. Easy, now. Just relax and don't try to speak." He could see the panic building in his friend's eyes and tried to fend it off. He stretched out along the side of his body and began massaging the tense muscles. Napoleon shivered as though cold and turned his face into Illya's chest. His throat muscles rippled but he did not speak. Slowly, Napoleon quieted again and the tense body melted under his lover's talented fingers.

Illya slipped onto the floor and took Solo's face in his hands. The lost look was still in his hazel eyes, but there was a calmness about him now that hadn't been there at the hospital. "Napoleon. We're going to the bathroom now. All right? Can you help me?"

The smaller agent pulled the covers back and positioned Solo's legs off the side of the bed. He went to his side and pulled one arm across his shoulders and took a firm grip on Napoleon's waist with his other arm. They stood together, Napoleon standing shakily and leaning heavily on his partner's strength. "That's it, Polya. Just take it slowly."

They made it to the bathroom door before they had to negotiate to get through it. Once inside, Illya slipped behind to help Solo use the toilet. He went through the motions mechanically but at least was aware enough to be of help. Kuryakin steered him to the sink and filled a glass with cold water.

"Here, Polya, drink this for me." Napoleon made no move to use his hands on the glass so Illya held it for him and waited for him to finish. As he lowered his lips from the glass, Napoleon glanced at the mirror and gasped quietly once. His eyes grew large and he looked around the bathroom frantically. Another look in the mirror and he spoke to himself, "Don't talk, don't talk, don't tal..." Illya caught him as he sagged and began to twitch, his body beginning to spasm. Lowering him gently to the cold tile floor, Illya swore in Russian and quickly placed a towel under Solo's thrashing head.

He ran for the bedroom and grabbed the diazepam vial and filled a syringe on the run. Napoleon was moaning and keening gibberish now, his motions becoming more violent. Illya turned him on his side in the tight quarters and pulled the pajama bottom down exposing Solo's flank. He jabbed the needle in quickly between spasms and depressed the plunger. Scrambling around to Napoleon's head, he placed it in his lap and began to touch his face soothingly, crooning to him in Russian.

It seemed an eternity, but the seizure began to abate and the jerking body began to quiet. When it was well past, Illya used a washrag to clean the sweat and spittle from his partner's face and gently picked him up in a fireman's carry. He put him back in bed and covered the still form. He lowered his head and hugged the body he loved so well for a moment, overcome with the setback. After checking his vitals Illya decided to use the respite the drugs offered to get a shower and eat something. He'd have to try and get Napoleon to eat when he woke up. He gave a last look to the bed before he left the room, his heart aching for the man lying there.

Illya was finishing his lunch and heating some broth for Napoleon when the doorbell rang. He put the pan on the back of the stove and heard the coded knock he'd given Dr. Martin earlier in the day. He relaxed and padded to the peephole and saw the doctor grinning at him from behind the door. Coding the alarm, he opened the door and ushered the man inside.

"Hello, Illya," he greeted. "How are things going so far?"

The frown on the blond man's face was answer enough. Kuryakin gestured to the back bedroom and led the way.

"I was just fixing him some broth. I had to sedate him an hour or so ago. He had a bad spell."

Martin crossed the room and checked the sleeping man. His exam roused Napoleon and he looked worriedly for his partner. Illya saw the panicked expression and went immediately to him. Solo sighed and reached for Illya's wrist again. "It's all right. Dr. Martin's just checking to see how you are. Are you hungry? I have some soup for you. I just have to go get it from the kitchen. Jack will stay here with you, won't you, Jack?"

Martin smiled at the leery agent and said, "Sure will. That soup smells good, Illya. You might have to fix another bowl." He winked at Napoleon whose gaze skittered away after making brief contact. Jack thought he looked more focused, but still wary and unsure of himself. He could see the easy way Kuryakin had with him was soothing and centering his patient and he was glad he had allowed the change in scenery.

A clatter of dishes came from the hall and Illya returned with a laden tray of soup, crackers and three mugs of sweet Russian tea. He gave one to Jack, put another on the bed stand and set the tray on the night table. "If I scoot behind him, do you think you could feed him the soup?"

"Yes, of course, Illya."

Martin watched as Illya carefully insinuated himself between the headboard and Napoleon's back, taking great pains to gently position him upright against his chest, all the while touching and soothing Solo with his hands and soft words.

He mentioned this to Illya as he held the mug of warm broth up to Napoleon's lips. The hungry man drank tentatively at first, eyeing Martin and trying to look behind him to Illya. As long as he kept his death grip on Kuryakin's wrist, he seemed to be calm enough.

"He's accepting your touch, Illya. Good, very good. I doubt he'd allow that from anyone else right now." As if to prove his point, Jack reached up to brush back the hair from Solo's forehead. Napoleon shied, pressing back into Illya and whimpering.

"Shh, milok, he won't hurt you. It's Jack Martin, remember? You know him." He smoothed his hands across Napoleon's shoulders and upper arms, calming him and encouraging him to relax and eat. The broth stimulated his appetite and he drank the rest of the mug quickly. Illya sipped his tea and shared it with Napoleon when he refused to drink from Jack's hand.

They finished the first mug of tea and Illya encouraged Solo to drink the second. Napoleon tried to focus on Jack's face and seemed to recognize him for a moment. The next he was yawning hugely and snuggling into Illya's arms to sleep. After ensuring he was asleep, Illya carefully slipped out from under Solo and settled him in bed once again.

The two men went to the living room and Illya warmed up their tea. Dr. Martin eyed the décor of the room, admiring the simple yet elegant way the apartment was done. Dark woods and forest hues dominated the style, and it reflected well on its owner.

Jack noticed the dark look and the circles under Illya's eyes and asked gently, "So how are you doing, Illya? Holding up?"

He sighed and sat down in a wingback. "I'm fine, Jack. I just want Napoleon well. I don't know if what I'm doing is helping."

"You want a medical opinion? Napoleon is more relaxed, he's definitely more alert to his surroundings, and he certainly knows you're here to help him. Just keep up the encouragement and get him into a routine and you'll be fine together. Don't rush him and give yourself a break now and then, too. You're not 'Superman,' Illya."

Illya looked puzzled for a moment and then smiled. "You mean the guy with the 'S' on his chest? Napoleon told me it stood for 'Solo.' "

Martin laughed and was relieved to see Illya join in. "The way you're using touch and another language to get through to him is working, Illya. I can see improvement already. You, er, might want to think about taking it to another level," he mentioned quietly, and Illya's head jerked up at the suggestion.

"Take it to...I don't understand, Dr. Martin." Kuryakin fell back to the title and Jack did not miss the hidden message there.

He held a hand up and gestured to the next room. "It's okay, Illya. I, em, I know about you and Napoleon's relationship."

At Illya's stunned look he quickly continued. "Napoleon was having some minor medical problems related to your relationship at the beginning and he came to see me. Now, Illya, don't be embarrassed. The doctor/patient confidentiality clause is in effect, don't worry."

Kuryakin's ears turned bright red at discovering someone at the Command knew of their true relationship. He got up and paced the living room, unable to sit still. "Does anyone else in Medical know?" he inquired quietly.

"Of course not, Illya. And no one else will, either. Napoleon is my patient. And more, I like him and respect him. You, too, by the way. You enforcement agents are the only regular patients I have. I have to get along with you."

Accepting that there was nothing to be done about it, Illya nodded at Martin and sat down again. "Do you really think...sexual touching might help him?" Despite the fact that he was a world traveler and a trained killer, Illya disliked talking about personal matters and this was as personal as it got. But Napoleon was his friend, and he would do whatever he must to help. And he felt as though he could trust Martin. He didn't seem to be bothered by the fact that he and Solo were lovers. America is a strange place, he thought again.

"I don't think it would hurt. What got him to this place were painful and unpleasant physical sensations. Loving and pleasant ones might work around this block he built up. You'll just have to take it slow and see how he responds. Napoleon will let you know what he'll allow and what he won't. He trusts you, Illya. He knows you won't hurt him."

Illya was really blushing now and looked down at his feet. "So, Doctor, you want to write me a prescription for this medicine?" He glanced at Jack's face and couldn't help but laugh at the look there.

Both men chuckled and Jack finished with, "Love him, Illya. That's all the prescription you need."

Kuryakin nodded and got up to let the doctor out. After locking the door he shook his head at the irony of it. Here he and Napoleon took great pains to keep their private life hidden, and now Solo's doctor was practically giving him orders to make love to him. It was all too much and he decided not to think about it any more.

Yawning, Illya decided to join Napoleon in a nap. He shed most of his clothes along the way to the bedroom and draped them over a chair. His lover was sprawled across the middle of the bed, hugging a pillow to his chest. Illya took the pillow and replaced it with his warm back. He whispered in Russian to Solo and felt the arms around him tighten. The warm breath on his neck was better than a lullaby and he dropped off easily.

He woke up when he felt hair tickling his chin. Napoleon had burrowed against his chest like a cat and was snoring softly. Illya smiled and ran his fingers up and down Napoleon's muscular back. The soft skin and hard muscle felt wonderful under his hands and he felt his erection stiffen even further. He gasped at the sensation and looked down at Solo's face. He was smiling and rubbing his cheek against Illya's right nipple. Illya made a decision and then stopped thinking entirely. He rolled Napoleon over and draped across him like a blanket and began kissing every inch of skin he could reach.

Solo's eyes popped open and he groaned as he felt the wet heat trailing across his skin. A thin finger crept up to his lips and stilled the vocalization. Illya spoke Russian endearments to him as he worked his way up the sleek body. Solo's eyes were shining and he watched every move Illya made. He did not reciprocate and Illya continued to love him without the impediment of language. The wiry Russian held onto Solo's wrists gently and caressed the pulse points with his lips. He worked the pajama shirt open and peeled the fabric away from the sweat-slicked skin. Napoleon was panting now, but he remained mute. He seemed to know what was required of him.

Sliding up and down the pectoral muscles, Illya ran his palms across the expanse of tanned skin before him. Napoleon's nipples hardened immediately, and the Russian slicked his tongue across them in equal measure. Now it was the blond's turn to moan and to try and remain quiet. His own erection was throbbing in time to his heartbeat and he hoped Napoleon could feel how much he wanted him. Illya ran his hand across the crotch of the bottoms and felt an answering jerk against his fingers. He smiled into Solo's mouth as he kissed and licked the swollen lips.

Trying to be patient, Illya spent as much time as he could making love to Napoleon's mouth. He almost spoke when he felt his lover's tongue snake out and tentatively seek his own. Exulting, he matched the sweet caresses and sucked on the visitor, welcoming it into his mouth. Solo grew bolder and wrestled with him wetly; feeding off the energy Illya gave him.

Solo's cock was digging into Illya's hip and he slowly trailed love bites down the smooth columned neck. Stopping to lick and suck the pert nipples almost distracted him from his game, but the way Napoleon writhed beneath him reminded Illya of his real destination.

Illya glanced up to see how his partner was doing. He was flushed, his eyes bright points in the afternoon light, and he was watching Illya the way only a lover would.

"Ya lublyu, dushka," Illya whispered to him. He continued to kiss down the abdomen and hips and caressed the straining erection beneath the thin fabric. The material was wet from the older man's passion, and Illya rubbed the head of his cock with his thumb, circling the skin until he felt shudders wrack through his lover.

Pulling the bottoms off, Illya looked into Napoleon's eyes before lowering his head over the straining organ. He certainly needed no words to tell Napoleon how much he loved him. He showed him. With his mouth, with his hands, with his eyes; Illya demonstrated that nothing could hurt Solo as long as he was with him.

Trembling with need, Illya reached across the brunet's sweaty abdomen and fumbled with the tube of lubricant. He coated himself and pushed a slick finger into his lover's body and watched him arch in pleasure against him. Bending over the ready cock, Illya doubled Napoleon's pleasure as he fellated him and pushed into the tight body with a second finger.

The room was filled with the harsh breathing of the two otherwise silent men as they neared oblivion together. Napoleon's eyes were closed; he pushed against the blond's hand with every stroke.

Illya lifted his mate's knees up and out and made eye contact with him once again. He pulled out of the tight heat and stroked the heavy erection in front of him. Placing his aching cock against his lover's opening, he looked into his eyes and said "Dushka moya," as he shoved forward and seated himself fully inside his body.

Illya panted furiously, trying not to come immediately, wanting to delay the release for Napoleon's pleasure. He drew close to Solo's face and began kissing him in time with his thrusts. He murmured in Russian, not trusting his voice in English at a time like this, and saw the joy flash across Napoleon's face as the waves of pleasure began to roll through him.

He wrapped his arms around the strong chest as Napoleon rose up to meet his thrusts and he felt the hard stab of Solo's cock rubbing against his belly. Kuryakin quickened the pace, knowing he was milliseconds from release. Napoleon's arms tightened around him as he felt the hot spurts of his lover splash against his stomach and heard the simultaneous cry from the other man's lips. Illya joined the release, feeling his own orgasm roar out of him to fill Napoleon with pulses of liquid pleasure. He whimpered and nearly blacked out with the strength of the orgasm, and came back to awareness slowly feeling soft lips nuzzling the tears from his face. He heard his name clearly. Confused, he looked to Napoleon as he felt himself rolled onto his side.

"Illya, Illya, my Illya." Tears were coursing down Solo's cheeks, joining with his as they fell onto the upturned face.

"Napoleon? Napoleon! You're speaking...you can talk? You said my name! And you're okay?" Illya babbled in delight as Napoleon repeated his name again and again.

They hugged each other tightly, neither one wanting to let go. Napoleon caught the wet face between his hands and said, "Illya, my Illyusha, my love."

"Polya... I was so afraid I'd never hear you say my name again."

Solo gently brushed his fingers across Illya's nose and cheeks. "It was your name that kept me sane. Even when I couldn't say it, I always thought it. It's what brought me back to you... speaking it out loud. Your name is like a prayer to me, Illya."

Illya closed his eyes against the tide of emotions those words brought in him. A moment later, he opened them and raised his hand to caress the warm skin along Napoleon's throat. His breath caught in a hitch as he locked gazes with his lover, the hazel-specked brown eyes fully aware and radiating love.

"Dushka moya, Illyusha."

Napoleon looked pensive and smiled down at his partner. "My soul. How often have we called each other that? It is fitting, isn't it, my love? You're so much a part of me, buried so deeply within me; there is no other way to describe it."

His face grew somber and he looked away for a moment. "They tried, Illya. They tried to reach deep inside me and take you from me. Tried to take what I loved and rip it from me." Solo stopped and drew a shuddering breath. "I was afraid, Illyusha. So afraid they would succeed."

The stark fear on the normally controlled face jolted Illya. He pulled Napoleon over to him and hugged him tightly. He knew that particular fear intimately. Every operative did though they rarely talked about it. His partner needed the confession, the release tonight.

He soothed Napoleon with gentle touches. "It's all right, milii moi. They didn't break you. Didn't take me from you. Or you from me." He felt the fine tremors that shook Napoleon still. Barely heard the quiet voice against his neck.

"They couldn't, you see. You're a part of me, lyubov, as much as my soul is a part of me. No one can ever take that, or you, from me." Gripping Illya tightly, he swallowed audibly in the silence and spoke with conviction. "I know they'll try again. But as long as I know you'll be here for me and that I carry a part of you with me, I can face that fear. I can go on, Illya, because of you. And because of what we are together."

Illya held the strong body in his arms until he felt it calm and relax drowsily. Kissing the nearest ear, Illya murmured softly into it. "Napoleon...moya lyubov...moya zhizen'"

Illya shivered with the emotional release. He had never been as proud of Napoleon as he was tonight. Never loved him as deeply as he did tonight. Their enemies had tried to defeat them, defeat their love for each other. Illya smiled with the irony of it. They hadn't succeeded: in fact, they had only managed to bring them closer together, make their resolve stronger, deepen their already bedrock foundation.

Napoleon had taken the worst Thrush could give him. The warrior was wounded but not defeated. For a time, as long as need be, Illya would shield his injured knight with his own armor. It was impenetrable. It was love.

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