The Disturbance in the Force Affair
"Unidentified air craft, this is the Holloman Air Force Base Control Tower. Please identify yourself immediately."
Han frowned at the radio. "I have a bad feeling about this," he said with a sigh. "Um, this is General Han Solo of the New Republic, flying the Millenium Falcon." He covered the microphone and whispered to Luke. "Do we have any idea where we are?"
Luke was playing with the ship's computer. "On a planet called Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy."
"The Milky Way Galaxy?" Han said with a snort. "Who came up with that name?" He looked at the readouts Luke had up on the screen. "Did we know this place existed?"
Luke grinned. "Only in the old Jedi legends, like so many of the places we've been." He closed his eyes. "Whatever we've been chasing is here. I can feel it."
Han scowled. "For once I'd like these visions of yours to actually come with a name instead of a vague 'disturbance in the force' warning."
Luke rolled his eyes at Han. "I'll find whoever it is, don't worry."
Luke's powers still occasionally sent shivers up and down Han's back, and he had to push through his instinctive resistance to all things mumbo jumbo. But Luke was usually right, and while Han might not like it, he'd learned to trust Luke. He gestured at the radio with a what's-taking-them-so-long wave. Pressing the send button he said impatiently, "Hello?"
Proximity alarms began to sound on the console and Han looked out the window to see two sleek aircraft on either side of him.
"Millenium Falcon," one of the pilots said to him over the radio. "You're to follow us." He waved at Han and Luke from his cockpit.
Han gave him a half-hearted wave back. "Okay," he said unhappily, not having much of an alternative. He might have time to accelerate and get into hyperdrive before they were shot out of the sky, but they'd just have to turn around and come back. Luke was like a dog with a bone once he sniffed out one of his disturbances.
Alexander Waverly spun the table top around until duplicate files sat in front of Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo. The two men picked up the files and flipped open the cover.
Napoleon's brow furrowed. "This reads more like science fiction than a case file, Sir."
Waverly humphed and drew on his pipe. He beetled his brows at it when it failed to light. "I quite agree with you, Mr. Solo."
"You believe this is a Thrush invention?" Illya asked, sending his partner a sidelong glance.
Napoleon flipped to the first picture and grimaced. "How many have died?" The picture was of a burnt corpse. He flipped through the remaining pictures, noting that they were all burnt to a different degree.
"We've recovered six bodies." Waverly attempted to relight his pipe, sucking at the stem.
His nose twitching, Napoleon drew in a breath scented with Isle of Dogs, number 22. "Six? That hardly seems on a par with most of Thrush's inventions."
"They are usually aiming for deaths in the thousands or more," Illya agreed. "Six deaths seems more a matter for the police." He tapped a second photo. "Why burn them? Were they tortured before being...flambed?" he asked indelicately.
Waverly swiveled in his chair to reach for the slide projector controls. He darkened the room and the first charred body appeared on the screen, the details now gruesomely enlarged.
Napoleon winced again. That was not how he wanted to go. Not that any way really appealed to him, but this was at the top of his let's-not- die-this-way list. He waited for Waverly to reveal all.
"Mr. Kuryakin, I believe this will interest you." Waverly skipped through the next five charred bodies quickly to Napoleon's relief. Then, a page of chemical symbols appeared.
It was too dark to see his partner's face, but he could tell by his stillness that Illya's interest had indeed been captured.
"This is not possible," Illya said indignantly. "There has been a mistake."
"There is no mistake. Five different UNCLE laboratories, all blinded as to the identification of the other labs, came up with the same results."
"That chemical doesn't exist," Illya protested.
"And, yet, those bodies were covered with it," Waverly said calmly, flicking on the lights.
Napoleon blinked then looked at Illya. He did not look happy. "Problem?" Napoleon would no doubt have to grill Illya later for more in-depth information. He'd grill Illya over dinner. If Thrush only knew how easily Illya caved when you held his dessert out of reach, all the world's secrets would be in their hands.
Illya was scowling, flipping through the final pages of the file until he was looking at a paper replica of the image that had been on the screen. "It appears our six victims have been killed with a substance that is made out of matter that does not exist on this planet."
Napoleon waited for the punch line. When it didn't come, he said slowly, "And that means that Thrush has invented something completely new?"
"No," Illya said impatiently. "Thrush can't invent something new like this, Napoleon. Einstein's theory of matter-energy conservation says that matter cannot be destroyed into nothing, and it cannot be created from nothing. There can't just be something new. It would be like taking wooden tinker toys and being able to build a metal skyscraper. One can't just turn into the other."
Napoleon wasn't in a position to argue Einstein's posits with a man with a Ph.D. in quantum mechanics. That was why he'd be grilling Illya later. However, right now, he could play devil's advocate. "Maybe it's just something we haven't discovered before. They're finding new elements all the time."
"They're finding new ways that the basic building blocks of our world have combined themselves, Napoleon. They're all composed of the same sorts of atomic particles, just in different combinations. Electrons, protons, neutrons."
"And those?" he asked, pointing at the paper in front of Illya.
"Particles that don't exist. That can't exist."
Suddenly annoyed by the mystery, Napoleon snapped, "What does that mean? They obviously exist. There they are. They clearly exist; they just haven't been identified until now. They discover new things all the time. Lord knows, I've listened to you prattle on about some of them incessantly."
Illya glowered at Napoleon. "Oh, and your prattling on about your latest conquest or your new couturier is worthy of a media blitz?"
A throat was cleared warningly. Napoleon beat out a brief tattoo on the conference room table. "So, what are we saying here?" He turned to Illya. "What are you saying? And don't say those particles don't exist because they do. Tell me what it means."
Illya looked distinctly uncomfortable.
"Illya," Napoleon said as patiently as he could. It wasn't like his partner to mince words.
Glancing at Waverly, Illya asked, "Did those other UNCLE labs draw any conclusions?"
Waverly shook his head. "No, it was given to them under the guise of a test. I'm leaving it to you, Mr. Kuryakin, to draw a conclusion."
Napoleon watched as Illya tried to figure out what to say. "Spit it out," he finally ordered. "No matter how weird it is, just say it. The suspense is killing me."
With a glare, Illya did as ordered. "Something's been brought here from someplace outside our solar system."
Not sure why this was such a big deal, Napoleon said cautiously, "Okay. So, what? A meteor? I thought meteors landed here all the time."
"Not a meteor."
"Are you saying something was brought here on purpose?" Napoleon said with a laugh. "A spaceship? Aliens?" Surely they couldn't believe that. When Illya didn't smile, Napoleon frowned. "Illya?"
"Napoleon," Illya said slowly, as if addressing a six-year-old. "These people were killed purposefully with something that does not exist on this planet or in this solar system."
"Why can't it be from a meteor that's from another solar system? Why does it have to be something as ridiculous as aliens?" Napoleon didn't understand why Waverly wasn't stopping this conversation. He rarely let bizarre conjecture get so out of hand. "So Thrush, or someone else, found a new and odd element and they've managed to make a weapon out of it. Sounds like something we deal with everyday. Why does it have to have such an outlandish explanation?"
Illya shrugged. "I don't know. I just...I just know we're not dealing with one of our ordinary evil geniuses. I feel something...something I haven't felt since I was..." He shook his head.
Napoleon stared at Illya. His partner was acting strangely. For him to even mention feeling as a matter of proof made Napoleon wonder if Illya had been taken over by an alien. He'd never met anyone quicker to decry feelings as anything but a complication, best to be avoided at all costs. Certainly not something to be used as an argument for aliens. He snorted. "Aliens?" He shot Waverly a look. "Sir?" Time for this conversation to be pulled back on track.
Waverly dimmed the lights. "This was shot on camera three days ago. A security camera captured the last death."
Enthralled, Napoleon watched the footage. A man in his early thirties, if Napoleon had to guess, dressed all in black, civilian clothes but with the look of a uniform about it, approached the hapless victim, a man who looked, coincidentally, a lot like Illya, reading intently while sitting on the side steps to some building. It was dusk, and perhaps the young man had been waiting for a ride. In any case, he was oblivious to his surroundings, to both the camera monitoring the area and to the older man sneaking up on him.
The stalker glanced around, as if to ascertain that he was alone, his eyes catching the camera lens at one point. Napoleon almost recoiled from the look in his eyes. They were hungry and merciless and made Napoleon's skin crawl.
For a moment, the man's eyes seemed to glow, and then he lifted his hands and directed them toward the victim. Arcs of blue lightning burst from his fingers encasing the young man in a smoking wreath of what seemed to be electricity. The victim let out a soundless scream and arched in pain, before falling down the steps to the concrete below, smoke actually rising from his body.
Napoleon hoped to God he was already dead, because the man kept firing the lightning into his body until he was nothing but a burnt out corpse. Forcing his eyes off the victim and up to the killer, he saw a look of disappointment on his face. The killer shook his head and moved into the shadows until all trace of him was gone.
None of it made sense to Napoleon. He covered his eyes when the lights came back on, both to give his eyes a moment to adjust, as well as to grab a few seconds to find some composure. That had been chilling to watch.
Finally he looked at Waverly and Illya, saw that Illya seemed as shaken as he by the film. "What did he want?" Napoleon finally asked. "Why that man, that victim? And why did he shake his head. It's as if he didn't get what he wanted."
Waverly put his pipe in the large ashtray in front of him. "That's what you gentlemen need to find out. A preliminary search has revealed no rhyme or reason to the deaths. Nothing seems to have been stolen; none of the victims appeared to be related in any way."
Napoleon tried to put his thoughts in order. "This thing he does, whatever weapon he's using, that's the source of this unidentified matter?"
Illya nodded. "It must be. Their bodies are coated with it. It contains an energy signature unlike anything I've ever seen."
"So, the new atomic particles create the different energy?" Napoleon clarified, liking this whole thing less and less.
"Yes. It's as if," Illya started to explain, eyes buried in the pages of mathematical and scientific gobbledygook in front of him, "we're seeing a small version of an atomic explosion, except with these new particles. It creates something entirely novel."
"Like a new compound," Napoleon said. "Hydrogen and oxygen combining to make water."
Illya shook his head.
Napoleon sighed. How did he know it wouldn't be that simple?
"Think of the tinker toys example, Napoleon. Any compounds on Earth, including any substance from any meteor that's been found, are made of tinker toys. Some are the round parts, and some are the long stick-like parts, but they're all made of tinker toys." He tapped the file. "This substance would be like a tinker toy was merged with..." He stopped, clearly stymied.
"Silly-putty?" Napoleon offered. Illya had been fascinated by silly- putty. Had spent hours studying it in his labs. For all Napoleon knew, it was the basic building block of their newest explosives. If he saw a remnant of the Sunday comics in some of the malleable stuff, he'd know for sure.
"Silly-putty," Illya agreed.
"Aliens?" Napoleon offered facetiously in return. The murderer was creepy, but Napoleon hadn't seen any tentacles, antenna, or anything particularly more fearsome than some of the crazed megalomaniacs he and Illya were often hunting.
"You saw the film, Napoleon. That lightning came from his hands."
"No, it didn't," Napoleon scoffed. "It only looked like it did. He had something up his sleeve." He turned to Waverly again. "Sir, surely you don't think we're dealing with aliens?"
"I don't know what to think, Mr. Solo. I believe that Mr. Kuryakin is right in identifying this as a new substance. I suggest you both keep an open mind. As you know, there's a branch of your government that fully believes in the existence of alien life."
Yeah, Napoleon thought to himself, the quacky branch. He shut his file and picked it up. "Illya and I will start profiling the victims."
Waverly waited until Illya had gathered up his file before sending a new one circling around. "Here's the information that's already been collected. Whoever this man is, and whatever weapon he's using, he must be stopped. That will be all, gentlemen."
That was something Napoleon completely agreed with. He stood, collecting the second file. "Thank you, Sir." He headed out, Illya right behind him.
Once they got into the hallway, Napoleon said, "Aliens? Illya, wild conjecture isn't your usual style."
Illya shot him an uncomfortable look.
Illya's discomfort intrigued Napoleon. He would definitely be withholding dessert until he made his Russian canary sing. Without saying another word, Napoleon and Illya went down to the research section.
The interrogation hadn't gone well. As they were pushed down the corridor, Han snapped out, "We're telling you the truth."
The man who had been doing the questioning didn't seem to care.
"And where's my ship?" Han demanded.
Luke tried. "It's important you free us so we search for the man we have come to find. He can do your world significant harm."
"So you say," the man said. "He might tell us a different story."
Han rolled his eyes. "Oh, sure. Good idea. Go look him up."
Then a door was open and two of the guards pushed Luke into the room. Two more guards kept prodding Han down the hall. He balked. "Hey, hey, keep us together." As the door shut, he yelled, "Luke!"
When he felt a gun prod his side, Han swung around pissed enough to do something stupid.
"Han," Luke's voice said in his head. "I'm fine. I'm just being put in a holding cell. We can keep in touch through our bond."
Han pulled in a deep breath to find some control. He always forgot about that. They were usually together these days, so they didn't use it that often, except occasionally, and memorably, in bed. That thought made Han grin.
He felt Luke's mental grin in return, no doubt having picked up Han's sexual thought.
He was prodded again. "All right, all right," he said irascibly, letting them move him down the hall. A few doors down, Han was led into another room and invited to enter the holding cell within.
Once inside, he sat down and looked around. The holding cell took up one half of the room. There was a cot with a blanket and pillow, a urinal behind a half partition, and a small table with two chairs. The open part of the cell was lined with thick metal bars.
"Great accommodations," Han said silently to Luke.
"They're frightened of us, Han," Luke said. "They were hiding it well, but I could sense it. They think we're aliens."
Han scoffed out loud. "Us?" He ignored the sharp look he got from the guard watching him.
"I don't think they've ever had visitors from another planet."
"With the type of technology they have? That doesn't make any sense."
"I know. Just be careful what you say. I'd just as soon not end up on some vivisection table," Luke counseled.
"Yeah, I hear you." Han stretched out on the cot. "Wish you were in here with me."
"Is your cot as small as mine?"
Han grinned. "Yeah. But that's never stopped us before."
Luke laughed across the bond. Han loved Luke's laugh, inside or out. He loved that he could make Luke laugh, as his lover usually took life way too seriously.
"Are you being guarded?" Luke asked.
"Yeah," Han said.
"That might stop us from trying out your cot," Luke teased. "Unless sex with an audience is an unexplored kink of yours."
"I'm willing to try anything once as long as you're involved," Han said with a mental leer. "Besides, it might be enough of a distraction for us to get out of here."
Another laugh. "I don't think I'm quite as willing to put you on display," Luke said with a possessive air.
Han totally didn't get why Luke thought everyone wanted Han when, if anything, everyone wanted Luke, but Han enjoyed the ego stroke nonetheless. "Yours and only yours, buddy," he reassured his lover.
Pleasure swept across the bond.
Han grinned again. The guard was looking at him suspiciously. Han didn't care. "Can't you do your mind whammy thing and get your guard to bring you in here?"
"I hate to make them trust us even less," Luke said.
"I guess," Han said. The mental link was great, but touching was better. "As long as we're stuck here, I guess I'll take a nap."
"Good idea," Luke said. "I'll keep watch."
Trusting Luke as he trusted no one except Chewie, Han closed his eyes and tried to relax.
At dinner that night, Napoleon watched as Illya got down to the serious business of eating. He knew better than to start pumping Illya for information on an empty stomach. People had died for less.
Once the Russian's pace began to slow down, Napoleon asked, oh-so- casually, "What do you think about this case?"
Illya glanced around suspiciously, as he always did, as if sure the wait staff were Thrush spies which, Napoleon allowed, they could be. After satisfying himself that no one was listening, Illya shrugged.
Napoleon rolled his eyes. Dropping any pretense of casualness, Napoleon insisted, "Something about this case is bothering you and I'd like to know why."
"Isn't this case bothering you?" Illya asked with some exasperation.
"No," Napoleon said firmly, "because I don't believe in aliens from other planets. I seem to be the only one who hasn't taken leave of his senses. There's another explanation for all of this."
"Maybe," Illya said dourly.
Napoleon was going to order every dessert on the menu and then refuse to let Illya eat any of them. It was risky—not as risky as interfering with Illya's entre—but it would be worth losing a finger or two if Napoleon could get Illya to talk. "Just tell me."
"You'll laugh at me."
"Probably," Napoleon admitted. He leaned forward. "But it won't be the first time your weird Russian hunches have paid off and saved our lives. So spill."
Illya let out a long beleaguered sigh and put down his fork, which had a nice piece of steak skewered on it.
Napoleon stared at the steak. If the case was putting Illya off his food, it was deadly serious. Suddenly, none of this felt amusing anymore. "Illya."
"When I was young..." Illya began hesitantly.
Napoleon kept any expression off his face. Illya never talked about his childhood.
"After...the war began, I..." Illya drank some of his water.
As this was so unprecedented, Napoleon wasn't sure if he should act interested, or feign disinterest by going back to his meal to better prompt his friend. While he probably knew Illya better than anyone—something Napoleon took great pride in—there was much of him that remained inscrutable, something that irritated Napoleon to no end.
"The gypsies took me in when my fam...when my home was destroyed."
Napoleon took a sip from his glass of chardonnay, staying silent.
"There was an old gypsy woman there who spoke of people from far off lands—" Illya stopped, looking at Napoleon suspiciously.
Normally this is where Napoleon would already be grinning. But he wasn't this time. "Keep talking."
With another narrow-eyed glare of warning, Illya continued. "She spoke of people who could use their minds to harness the kind of power we saw in that clip. People who could control the minds of the weak-willed, who could move objects with just a thought."
"If she knew of these people," Napoleon said cautiously, not wanting Illya to clam up, "doesn't it make sense that they were from around here? I mean, not here, New York, but here, Earth?"
"This woman, she was different. She felt different," Illya said, a faraway look in his eyes. "She said I was different."
That much was true. "Illya, how old were you?"
"I know what you are going to say," Illya snapped, "that I was too young to know what she was talking about, that she was telling stories to scare the children, that my memories cannot be trusted. But this is not the case. She knew these people. She said they were the peacemakers, the clear voices in a time of madness and confusion. I think she was one of them."
Napoleon pursed his lips, tapping them with the knuckle of his left index finger. "You think this old gypsy woman was an alien from another planet? And that's what made her different? Did she think you were an alien, too? Is that what made you different?" Napoleon knew Illya had a fanciful side, but this was a bit much, even for him.
Illya gave him a mulish glance and took a vengeful bite of his steak. "I knew I shouldn't have told you," he said.
"Well, come on, Illya," Napoleon protested, "What would you say if I started talking about ghost stories I heard around a campfire and asked you to take them into account as we were working on a case?"
"You wanted to know what was bothering me," Illya bit out, "and I answered. Next time I'll know better."
"Wait, wait," Napoleon said backtracking, holding up his hand in a we- come-in-peace gesture. He'd totally blown this. Illya would never tell him anything again. "Wait. You're right. And I appreciate the confidence. Just tell me this, how do we use this memory of yours to help?"
Brow still furrowed in annoyance, Illya shook his head. "I don't know."
"Do you remember her name? What happened to her? Is there a way to do a computer search?" Napoleon was sure it was a wild goose chase. He'd get as much from doing a computer search on Hansel and Gretel.
Illya looked confused for a moment, then in pain. He closed his eyes, rubbing at his temples.
"Illya?" Napoleon said. "Are you all right?"
His friend was getting paler by the second, his eyes shut tightly, forehead furrowed in pain. It was clear he wasn't all right at all.
"I'm taking you home," Napoleon said, waving for the waiter, getting out his wallet. He threw a few bills down, knowing it was more than enough, and then got Illya standing. Barely. "Are you sick? Have you been poisoned?" They ate here all the time, a predictable behavior that was discouraged by UNCLE, but they both loved the food here. It was possible someone had been watching the place looking for just such an opportunity.
"No," Illya grunted out.
Napoleon took him at his word. Illya had been poisoned enough to know how it felt. He slung Illya's arm around his shoulder and his arm went around Illya's waist. Together, they made it out to the street where Napoleon hailed a taxi. Chances are the taxi driver would simply assume Illya had had a little too much to drink, which worked for Napoleon.
Once situated in the cab, Illya began to grow feverish, sweat beading on his face. "What's happening?" Napoleon whispered to him. "What's wrong?"
"Why can't I remember?" Illya slurred out. "Ya ne panimayu."
Napoleon translated. "What don't you understand?"
"Napoleon?" Illya was shaking.
"I'm here," Napoleon reassured him, desperately wishing he had some idea of what was going on.
"Te liubliu teya," Illya whispered.
"What?" Napoleon said in shock. Had Illya just told him he loved him? Or was Illya dreaming, maybe even hallucinating? Maybe telling an old gypsy woman that he loved her. "Illya."
Never had Napoleon allowed himself to even think about the possibility of something more than what he had with Illya. Napoleon was not a foolish man and pining for something he could never have was the act of a foolish man.
But if there was a chance, if Illya, in a moment of weakness, had revealed his true feelings to Napoleon, Napoleon would start pining to his heart's content. And once Illya was feeling better, Napoleon's heart's content would be having one Illya Kuryakin in his home and in his bed.
They arrived at the brownstone where both Napoleon and Illya lived. Napoleon, with the cab driver's assistance, wrestled Illya from the back of the cab and through the front door to the elevator. Napoleon paid the man, including a hefty tip, grateful for his help.
Illya was still out of it. Sweat was pouring off of him, and he could barely keep his eyes open. Napoleon was tempted to call UNCLE and have a doctor come to look at him.
"Luminara," Illya muttered.
"What? Lumin what?" The elevator arrived, and Napoleon essentially shoved Illya on to it. He pushed Illya against the wall of the elevator and tapped his face. "Illya. Snap out of it. Talk to me. Illya!" he said roughly. "I'm about ten seconds away from calling a doctor."
"No," Illya said, his eyes opening. "No." They immediately closed again.
That was less than helpful. Illya wouldn't want to see a doctor if his body was flayed open and his intestines spilling out onto the floor. "Then tell me what the hell is going on," Napoleon insisted.
Napoleon's apartment was closer, so after the elevator door opened on the fourth floor, Napoleon half assisted, half carried Illya down the hallway. He propped him up against the wall as Napoleon fumbled with his keys and then entered the alarm code.
Once inside, Napoleon deposited Illya on the couch. He went into the bathroom to wet a cloth, which he brought back and used to wipe the sweat off Illya's face. Illya opened his eyes again. "Napoleon?"
"Yeah, it's me."
"Dushka moya," Illya muttered.
"My soul," Napoleon said softly. "Who are you talking to? What are you seeing?" As much as Napoleon wanted the words to be about him, he had no idea if they were. "Is this still about the old gypsy woman?"
A look of fierce concentration on his face, Illya forced his eyes open. "It is as if something is keeping me from remembering."
"Remembering the gypsy woman?"
Illya nodded. He took a deep gasping breath as if he'd momentarily forgotten to breathe. "Every time I try—" This time he just gasped.
Napoleon didn't need him to say anything more; he could see for himself the pain on his friend's face, the sweat breaking out again, and the tremors through his body. "What are you trying to remember?"
"It keeps slipping out of reach," Illya said through gritted teeth. "Like a dream."
"You said Lumin something. Is that important?"
A shudder ran through Illya's body. "Yes. Say it again," he demanded.
"Lumin," Napoleon said.
"Luminara," Illya forced out. "Her name was Luminara Unduli." Then his body arched off the couch, and he let out a cry of pain.
Napoleon moved to the floor, placing his body as a buffer so Illya couldn't fall off the couch. He reached within his pocket for his communicator, not caring anymore if Illya didn't want to see the doctor.
Before he could assemble the metal cylinder, Illya let out another cry, and his eyes flew open and rolled back in his head. His body was wracked with convulsions.
"Damn it," Napoleon snarled, looking for something he could put in Illya's mouth. He started ripping his tie off.
A vase on Napoleon's mantel burst into pieces.
Napoleon cursed under his breath, angry that he hadn't searched his apartment when he'd first arrived. He knew better than that. Despite Illya's convulsions, Napoleon yanked him to the floor, trying to protect him. He pulled his gun out of its holster and took a look around to see who was shooting.
A glass paperweight on the small table to the left of the couch exploded.
Napoleon ducked to avoid the glass shrapnel, covering Illya as well. He'd only had time for a quick look, but he hadn't seen anyone in the apartment. He looked at the window, but the heavy curtains were closed and there was no indication anyone had shot through them.
Then, several light bulbs shattered, followed by quite a few pieces of Napoleon's crystal. The coffee table Napoleon was lying next to began to shake.
A very odd and unsettling idea began to take root in Napoleon's brain. He glanced down at Illya who was still shaking.
The coffee table nudged his back.
Eyes wide, Napoleon looked at it to see it was several inches off the ground. Napoleon shifted to a crouching position, feeling the need to be able to run like hell if the need arose. A picture of his army unit fell from the mantel, and Napoleon could hear the glass crack. The lamp on the small table by the couch fell off, and Napoleon could see it was because the table was also hovering in the air.
He crouched down by Illya and slapped him lightly on the face. "Illya," he said loudly. "Wake up."
Illya groaned, whispering, "Barriss." Then, "Dooku."
Napoleon tried to translate either of those words but came up cold. He slapped Illya harder. "Illya!"
Getting up, Napoleon strode to the kitchen and filled a glass pitcher with cold water; Napoleon could only be glad it hadn't been damaged. Already dreading Illya's complaints, Napoleon threw the water at his partner, drenching him.
Illya yelped and spit out water. The coffee table and end table both landed with a loud series of thumps. "You back with me?" Napoleon demanded.
Wiping his face off, Illya looked at Napoleon in complete confusion. "What happened?" He looked around at all the shattered glass.
"That's what I'd like to know," Napoleon said, sitting on the couch. He held out his hand to assist Illya up so he could join him.
"Were we attacked?" Illya asked, feeling for his gun.
Napoleon chewed on his lip for a moment. "As much as it pains me to admit it, really, really pains me, I think this was you." He gestured at the apartment. "I think you did this."
Illya stared at Napoleon as if he was certifiable. Maybe he was. But Napoleon sure as hell didn't have another explanation. Hoping he wasn't going to send Illya back to wherever he'd just been, Napoleon cautiously asked, "Can you remember her now?"
Arms wrapped around himself as if chilled, Illya nodded. Then he frowned. "Yes. Luminara Unduli." Then he frowned. "But I couldn't before. I remembered that story she told us when I was a child, but when I tried to remember her name or what she looked like or what happened to her, all I saw was blackness."
Napoleon felt chilled, and he wasn't the one who was wet. He got up and, going to his bedroom, retrieved a warm sweatshirt for Illya. When he got back, Illya had already stripped out of his jacket and shirt and he took the sweatshirt gratefully, putting it on quickly. "Thank you."
Next, Napoleon fixed them a couple of drinks in unbroken glasses from his kitchen. He didn't know about Illya, but he sure as hell needed one. The speed with which Illya accepted his drink and had half of it consumed, told Napoleon that Illya was as disturbed by this as he was.
"Tell me about her," Napoleon said, after taking a healthy swallow of his scotch.
"Her name, as I said, was Luminara. And she wasn't old, at least not physically. But you could see in her eyes that she'd lived a long time. She had a tattoo here," Illya touched the area under his bottom lip. "A diamond pattern."
"You said Barriss and Doku or something like that. What does that mean?"
"It was the name of the man she traveled with. Barriss Offee." Illya's eyes grew dark with worry. "Napoleon, he died the same way as the others."
"The pictures, the security tape. He was burned the same way."
"Are you sure?" Napoleon asked, wondering how on earth this all fit together.
"I saw him," Illya said flatly. "I didn't remember until right now. I saw the man who did it, and I saw the dead body."
There was a haunted look in Illya's eyes, one more memory to add to the slew of them that Illya carried around. Napoleon had an absurd desire to go back in time and take better care of the extraordinary child who became the extraordinary man sitting in front of him.
"She touched me," Illya said, a faraway look on his face. "She told me she'd been foolish to hide, that the war she'd run from had found her. She said the name of the man who killed Barriss was Dooku, said he was Sith." Illya's brow furrowed. "I think that's what she said. Yes, Sith. Then she told me to forget. That it would protect me. That if she survived, she'd return for me." Illya touched his temples. "I remember her touching me here."
"Did you ever see her again?"
Illya shook his head. "No. She buried Barriss and left that night. When I woke up the next day, I didn't remember any of it other than the stories she'd told us on earlier nights. She was just gone." Illya brought his knees up to his chest, hugging them tightly, looking like the young child he had been, waking up to find someone else he'd grown to care about had left him.
Not sure how it would be received, but somehow helpless to resist, Napoleon found himself wrapping his arms around his lethal partner to offer comfort.
There were a few seconds, as Illya stiffened, when Napoleon thought he'd pay for his temerity with his head, but then Illya relaxed and dropped his forehead to Napoleon's shoulder, letting Napoleon hold him close.
Napoleon rested his cheek on the top of Illya's blond hair and allowed himself a secret fantasy that he could do this whenever he wanted. That he could touch, and hold, and then take Illya into his bedroom and tumble him down onto the bed.
It couldn't last, of course, and sooner than Napoleon wanted, Illya withdrew from Napoleon's arms. There was an awkward moment but then Illya looked around the room and frowned. "What did you mean when you said I did this? How?" He looked at his hands as if expecting to see blood there.
Napoleon shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest as if it might fill the hole the absence of Illya's body pressed against his had caused. "You started convulsing and, bam, things started exploding."
Illya shot him a look.
"The tables were floating, too," Napoleon said calmly, enjoying the pole-axed expression on his partner's face. Not that Napoleon felt any calmer. Over dinner Illya had been talking about people with the power to move things with their minds. Now it looked like Illya was one of those people. Either that, or Napoleon was losing his mind.
The look this time was outright suspicion. "What are you doing?" Illya asked. "Why are you saying these things? Is this some sort of joke because of what I said earlier?"
Napoleon didn't miss the flash of hurt in Illya's eyes. It made him want to hug the man again, but he didn't think Illya would go for it this time. "Illya," Napoleon said seriously. "All I know is we heard about a case today that clearly upset you. Over dinner you spoke of people with powers to manipulate the minds of others and move things around. Then, you got sick. You were almost delirious in the cab, telling me you loved me in Russian—"
Napoleon paused in his narrative to see how that announcement went over. Because he was looking for it, Napoleon saw the fear, consternation, and hope cross the Russian's face before Illya pulled himself together and replaced it all with one of his stone-faced expressions.
Interesting, Napoleon thought. Illya hadn't denied it or said it meant something else. He continued. "Then, I got you here, and you were muttering names, and still saying sweet nothings to me or whoever you thought you were talking to," Napoleon amended.
"What did I say?" Illya asked, the words torn out of him.
"Dushka moya," Napoleon answered. "Did someone from your childhood call you that?"
Illya hesitated but then shook his head, his blue eyes on Napoleon's. "You said I started convulsing?"
Napoleon accepted the distraction. "Yes. Then, like I said, first the vase went, then the paperweight. Then the crystal," Napoleon added with a frown, looking over at the china cabinet. He couldn't see what the damages were from where he was sitting. With any luck, it had sounded worse than it was. "That was when the tables started flying."
"Have you looked for wires or explosives?" Illya asked, ever practical, and certainly not willing to accept that he was responsible.
"No," Napoleon conceded. He got up and moved to the fireplace, mindful of glass crunching underfoot. There was no sign that anything had been used to cause an explosion. Moving to the china cabinet, he opened the door carefully, catching a couple of items that were perched precariously. Five goblets had shattered, which had in turn broken several plates. Three of the twelve glass panes were cracked. Not as bad as Napoleon had feared.
He turned to find Illya checking out the feet of the coffee table, frowning and looking very unhappy.
"Did you find something?" Napoleon asked.
"No," Illya said darkly. He righted the coffee table. "I do not understand."
Napoleon shut the cabinet; he'd clean it out later. "Can you remember anything else this woman said to you? Did you see this Dooku person who killed that Barriss fellow? Were any of these gypsies related to you? Was she related to you?"
Illya let out an unhappy snicker. "What are you saying, Napoleon? Are you suddenly believing in aliens, and thinking that I'm one of them?" he asked derisively. "I'm as human as you are."
"I know you are," Napoleon assured him, sitting on the couch near to where Illya was sitting on the rug by the coffee table.
"So what's this about? Why are you saying I did this?" Illya asked as his arm made a half circle around the room.
"Give me another explanation, then," Napoleon suggested reasonably.
"Why are you being so calm about this?" Illya demanded irascibly.
"I have no idea." Napoleon thought about it. "Nope. No idea. Maybe because it's you and I—"
"You what?" Illya prompted.
"I trust you. I know you."
Napoleon could see the quick flash of gratitude in Illya's eyes, but then they narrowed. "This is absurd. I am no different now than I was yesterday."
Napoleon pursed his lips and stared at all the broken glass. "A little different, maybe." He pointed at the table. "See if you can move it."
Illya shot him an incredulous look. "Napoleon, I cannot move things with my mind."
"Someone did," Napoleon argued. "And I'm pretty sure it wasn't me."
"Maybe we were both drugged," Illya suggested. "Maybe we are dreaming."
Dreaming? That was possible, but if so it was the realest dream Napoleon had ever had. But if it was a dream—. "Hmm," Napoleon said, staring at Illya. "Who is your soul, Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin?"
Illya's eyes widened. "What?"
Napoleon moved down to the ground so he was sitting right next to Illya. "Duska moya. Why did you say that?" He reached up with one hand and brushed Illya's disheveled bangs to the side. "Who is your soul?"
Like a deer in headlights, Illya froze, staring back at Napoleon.
Napoleon let the backs of his fingers slowly move down the side of Illya's face, past his temple, his cheek, his jaw, and then his neck, where Napoleon let his hand stay, fingers resting on Illya's bounding pulse.
There wasn't a sound from Illya. He swallowed; his Adam's apple shifting up and down.
"Am I your soul?" Napoleon asked, taking some encouragement that Illya hadn't retaliated in any fashion. Anger, frustration, annoyance, all those emotions would have had Illya standing, pacing, possibly leaving. But the emotions keeping him here, keeping him still, making his pulse pound, those were of a different sort. Napoleon spread his fingers, his thumb brushing the area of Illya's chin right below his bottom lip.
Illya's lips parted just enough to let out a small sigh. The blue in his eyes was being eclipsed by black.
Boldly, Napoleon let his thumb trace Illya's bottom lip. The man had lips any woman would pay money for.
This time the lips parted further with a moan.
Napoleon was instantly, achingly, hard. He pushed his thumb in between Illya's lips, let out a groan of his own when Illya's tongue tasted it. "Am I your soul?" Napoleon asked again, softly, his face only inches from Illya's. "Because you're mine," he whispered, pressing a kiss to the corner of Illya's mouth.
That small kiss snapped Illya out of his paralysis. He lunged forward, pushing Napoleon to the ground.
For a mind-numbing frightening second, Napoleon thought Illya was going to kill him. Or try to kill him. Napoleon wasn't sure who would end up living if it came down to a fight to the death between them. He hoped never, ever to find out. But then Illya's tongue was in his mouth, and Illya was grinding down on Napoleon's erection, and Napoleon realized this was an entirely different kind of fight. His favorite kind.
An hour later, for some reason, Luke and Han were put back together in another room that was still meant to keep them in, but was more of a conference room than a brig. Someone had come to talk to them about their weapons, specifically the light saber. Luke kept the explanations simple after ascertaining that their questioner knew nothing of the Jedi. Han just kept asking about his ship.
When they were finally left alone, Han scowled, "They better not have done anything to the Falcon."
"I don't think they know what to do with us at all," Luke said. "I'm guessing they're calling for someone with more authority to come and speak with us."
"Or dissect us," Han said glumly.
Luke shook his head. "I'm not feeling that they mean us harm. I can tell they're frightened, excited, that some of them don't believe us, but I'm not sensing anything hateful."
Han rolled his eyes, hands gesturing around the room. "I'm sure they're watching us right now."
"Sure you want to be telling them this stuff about you?"
"You mean that I can sense their emotions?" Luke asked. When Han nodded, Luke shrugged. "If the New Republic and Earth are ever to be allies, we can't keep secrets."
"Yeah, maybe," Han said grudgingly, "but I like your brain where it is. I'd just as soon it not end up in some jar someplace with electrodes connected to it."
Luke grinned at Han although it quickly turned into a frown. Unexpectedly, he felt a new disturbance in the force, not the one that had brought him here. He closed his eyes.
"You pickin' up something?" Han said worriedly.
"Yes." Luke reached out trying to learn more.
Napoleon let out a groan as Illya slid into him. They were still on the floor by the couch, and Napoleon hoped like hell he'd remembered to lock the door. Then, as Illya withdrew and thrust back in, Napoleon didn't care anymore.
"Bozhe moi, Napoleon," Illya gasped out as he plunged in hard enough to force Napoleon inches along the carpet. He'd have knee and elbow rug burns for sure. He was just glad there wasn't any glass in the immediate area.
"God's got nothing to do with it," Napoleon gasped out in return, pushing back against Illya, loving the feel of Illya's body draped over his, Illya's teeth grazing his neck. Then, when Illya reached around and took a firm grip on Napoleon's cock, Napoleon changed his mind and bellowed, "God," and came over all over Illya's fingers and his very expensive carpet.
Illya began to fuck him in earnest, pistoning in and out of Napoleon's body. Napoleon didn't notice anything at first because he was still seeing stars from his own orgasm, but when the coffee table brushed against his hand, it was hard to ignore.
The table was moving again. He heard something slide off the counter in the kitchen and smash to the floor. Just as Illya impaled him one more time and then stopped, groaning, coming deep within Napoleon, a thunderous crash signified that his television had just met its untimely demise.
Illya collapsed on top of Napoleon, completely still and, fortunately, everything in his apartment stopped moving at the same time. Napoleon couldn't help letting out a short hysterical laugh. His life had seemed so normal—at least as normal as life ever got for a spy—this morning.
Illya regained consciousness and growled happily.
Napoleon grinned. Only Illya could growl happily. He pushed the coffee table away so Illya had room to roll to the side. Illya opened his very sated blue eyes and smiled at Napoleon. "Did I hear something?"
With a snort, Napoleon rolled his eyes. "Nothing gets past you, master spy, does it?" He gestured at the table. "It happened again. The table moved, something in the kitchen broke, and the TV is dead."
Illya's eyes opened wide in consternation, and he lifted himself up on his hands to glance toward the corner of the room where the television now lay on the ground, large shards of glass an indication that the picture tube had broken. The sated look was gone, replaced by one of panic. "Napoleon—"
Illya looked like he was about to bolt, so Napoleon grabbed his arm. Sorry their afterglow had been so spectacularly ruined, Napoleon sat up, wincing a little, both for his sore ass and for the continuing damage to his rug. He'd send it out for a cleaning.
"We'll figure it out," Napoleon promised. "There's a reason for what's happening. We'll get up, take a shower, have something to eat," assuming his kitchen was habitable, "and we'll go over everything again."
Illya dropped his head and closed his eyes, looking defeated.
Napoleon leaned over and wrapped his arms around Illya, holding him close. Whatever was going on, he and Illya would face it together. He was relieved when Illya held him in return.
Then Illya stiffened in his arms and sat back, shaking his head. His brows were furrowed in confusion.
"What is it?" Napoleon asked, looking around nervously, thinking he needed to pack away what remained of his fragile valuables until they figured out what the hell was going on.
"Did you hear that?"
"No. Hear what?"
Illya might have looked defeated a moment ago, but now he looked frightened. There was only one time, in Napoleon's memory, when Illya had looked frightened, and he'd been drugged to feel that way. "Illya, talk to me."
"I must be going insane," Illya said in a worried tone.
Napoleon shook his head. "You're the sanest person I know. Tell me what happened?"
"I heard a voice—" Illya stopped and looked around the apartment with a suspicious eye. "You truly heard nothing?"
"I didn't hear any voices except yours and mine," Napoleon assured him.
"You must check me for any possible implants," Illya said. "I don't know when Thrush did it, but they must have put some sort of device in me to make me hear things and—" he stopped again, making a frustrated hand motion that took in the damage around Napoleon's apartment.
"What did the voice say?"
Illya let out a sigh. "It said, 'Hello, can you hear me, who are you?'"
Napoleon frowned. "That doesn't sound like someone planning on using you to take over the world."
Sagging back against the couch, Illya sent Napoleon a rueful smile. "No, it doesn't. But then it means I am going insane, hearing voices inside my head."
"Sorry, I don't buy it," Napoleon said, standing, holding out a hand to help Illya up. "Let's get cleaned up."
Illya accepted the hand and, once up, took a moment to fully appreciate Napoleon's naked body.
Napoleon preened under his obvious admiration. And he returned it. Illya's body was perfect. Leaning in he kissed his partner on the lips, delighted he could do so now.
It was quite a while later before they finally made it into the shower.
Luke was out of it for so long, Han got nervous. He shook Luke, saying sharply, "Luke, snap out of it."
Blinking his eyes, Luke stared at Han. He looked dumbfounded.
"What is it?" Han shifted closer to him on the couch they were both sitting on.
"I got in someone's mind," Luke stammered out. "The way I get in Leia's, in yours. He was wide open to me."
"What does that mean?"
Luke shook his head, his eyes casting around the room as if to find an answer somewhere in the plain room they were held captive in. "If I didn't know better, I'd say he—" Luke licked his lips nervously, "that he was family, related somehow. You and Leia are the only two I can speak to that way."
"I'm not family," Han pointed out.
"Close enough. I know you, know your mind, you welcome me there," Luke said with a loving smile.
"Who was it?"
"I don't know. I was unexpected, though. I frightened him."
"Is he who we're here for?" Han asked.
"No. No, I can still feel that there's someone here who's strong in the dark side of the Force. But this new person, he's strong, too."
"Start over, Luke. What records do you have that show any of the Jedi have come to this planet?"
"There's not much. Most of the Jedi records were destroyed in the Clone Wars, but I found two references to a planet in this solar system, and as this is the only inhabited one, it must be this one."
"So who came here? Do you know?"
"Luminara Unduli, and possibly Count Dooku."
"Count Dooku?" Han asked, not recognizing the name.
"He was Darth Tyranus."
Han whistled. "Palpatine's Sith apprentice before your father?"
"My father killed him," Luke said with a sigh. "Dooku was a well- respected Jedi before embracing the dark side."
"What was he doing here? For that matter, what was Luminara doing here? Why come to a planet that no one's ever even heard of?"
"Maybe that's why," Luke offered. "Although, if I had to hazard a guess, Dooku came here to hide something, what, I don't know. Luminara wrote a little more in her journal. She found this planet accidentally; she was often pressed into service on far-flung worlds. She liked it here. She, hmmm." Luke stopped talking.
Han rolled his eyes. People who said he was hard to get information out of had never had to deal with Luke. He had this annoying tendency to start thinking mid-stream and go off to la-la land. "Luke." Then louder, "Luke!"
"You were talking about Luminara," Han prompted.
"She wrote something in her journal that I thought I'd understood. I did the same thing when Yoda said it to me."
"Don't make me smack you around, kid," Han mock-threatened.
"Sorry," Luke said with a wry smile. "She wrote in her journal that the Skywalker child might end up being the Jedi's only hope."
"You figured they were talking about you?" Han asked, knowing that Luke, had indeed, been the Jedi's only hope.
Reddening, Luke nodded. "Of course, I didn't have access to her journal until the war was over, and the New Republic was in place, so I never gave it much thought. Yoda told me there was another Skywalker, but I thought he meant Leia. So did Ben, but maybe Ben didn't know."
"Didn't know what?"
"Maybe my father had another child. Maybe Dooku brought him here, and maybe Luminara knew about it as well."
"You telling me that you have a brother somewhere on this planet that you never knew about?" Han said in disbelief. "Aren't you reaching a little?"
"Of course I'm reaching," Luke said in exasperation. "But I'm sure there was no love lost between my father and Dooku. Dooku had a long established power base, but he must have seen Anakin as competition. By the time Leia and I were born it would have been too late for Dooku to do anything, but if my father had had another child by some other woman before he married my mother, Dooku might have taken it, planning to use the child against Anakin."
"You're spinning quite the fairy tale," Han said dryly.
"Then you explain why I could feel him so well," Luke countered. The only explanation I can come up with is that he's related to me. I know Amidala didn't have any more children. She died giving birth to me and Leia."
"Maybe whoever this guy is, he's just really strong in the Force."
"If he was trained, I never would have been able to get in his head."
"So he's untrained," Han explained reasonably. "You've been finding untrained potential Jedis on almost every planet we've gone to. Why should this place be any different?"
"I never feel them this strongly. I can usually only sense beings of tremendous power." Luke glanced at Han. "But I can always sense Leia. And you."
"How about the other guy, person, whatever?" Han asked. "Can you still sense them?"
Luke closed his eyes and nodded. "They're close to each other." His eyes sprang open in alarm. "I think he's hunting the one I just mind- touched." He grabbed Han's arm. "We have to help him."
Han lifted his hands in a what-do-you-want-me-to-do-about-it way. "We're sort of stuck here, Luke. That lock won't open for me." Although, it would open for Luke. Han thought about the story Luke had just told him, not sure he bought it. A brother? A half-brother, he corrected himself.
Just then, the door to the room they were in opened and an older man entered, wearing a heavy topcoat and a fedora. He had bristling eyebrows and smelled of pipe tobacco. Two armed soldiers accompanied him.
Han and Luke stood up.
"Gentlemen," the man said, "my name is Alexander Waverly. I'd like a few minutes of your time."
Napoleon and Illya had redressed and were in the kitchen eating dinner. Fortunately, it had only been Napoleon's wooden fruit bowl that had crashed to the floor and it was essentially unharmed, although some of the fruit hadn't been so lucky.
Illya was, not surprisingly, refusing to talk about it. Not the sex part. He was, surprisingly, more touchy-feely than Napoleon expected. He kept stroking Napoleon, kissing him, groping him. Napoleon was finding it hard to stop grinning. To be let inside so effortlessly was heady.
Maybe Illya was so willing to indulge in touching because, compared to talking about having some sort of kinetic power and being somehow connected to their latest case, touching was easy.
"Illya," Napoleon tried again.
"It is some trick," Illya said for the tenth time. "We will bring in more sophisticated equipment and find how this apartment was rigged."
Pursing his lips, Napoleon considered his stubborn partner. "Let's put the minor earthquakes to the side for the time being," he suggested. "You still can't deny that somehow this case involves people you once knew."
Illya looked like he wanted to deny it, but he sullenly nodded.
That was a little progress. "So how do you suggest we find out more about this gypsy woman? Do you think there's anyone alive who might remember her?"
A quick flash of pain crossed Illya's eyes. "They are all dead," he said flatly, ending that conversation.
Both of their communicators went off. Napoleon reached his first. "Solo, here."
"Mr. Solo, is Mr. Kuryakin there with you?"
"Yes, he is. Do you wish to speak with him?"
"That's not necessary. I believe him to be in some considerable danger. Please keep him under surveillance at all times."
Illya looked distinctly put out about that.
"May I ask why?" Napoleon inquired. Mr. Waverly could be annoyingly closed mouthed sometimes.
"This case has taken an interesting turn. I'm having a courier bring some files to you for review. I'll expect you both in at 0700." Waverly closed the connection.
At that moment, the buzzer rang. Illya reached for his gun and moved to the door. "Who is it?"
"Mandy Stevenson," came a woman's voice.
Napoleon stood to the other side of the door, gun out, while Illya opened it. He saw Illya relax and open the door fully. Mandy gave them both an appreciative look and handed Napoleon the file.
"Did you peek?" Napoleon asked her with a grin, holding up the file.
She gasped. "Never."
Napoleon's grin grew wider. "Thank you, my dear. I'd invite you in but—" He held up the file.
"Right, right," she said seriously, although she looked longingly within.
"Good night," Illya said, and shut the door in her face.
"Illya," Napoleon chastised.
Illya shrugged his shoulders and took the file from Napoleon, moving to the kitchen. He broke the seal and pulled out a stack of photographs. Napoleon joined him and as he saw the pictures, he felt a chill go down his spine.
"Are these the other victims?" Napoleon asked. Stupidly, while they'd been looking at the backgrounds of all the victims, Napoleon hadn't bothered to search for pictures. It had never occurred to him that it was their appearance that tied them together. They all looked disconcertingly like Illya. Just like the man they'd watched die on the footage in Waverly's office.
Illya spread out a map of the world that had been included in the file. The killings were heading their way. In fact, the last one, the one they'd watched, had occurred in New Jersey. The first one had been in Kiev. "Is he looking for me?" Illya asked calmly as if it were an academic question.
"Either that or he hates blue-eyed blonds," Napoleon said back. "Waverly seems to believe he's after you." It wasn't like Waverly to hand out cautions without good reason.
Illya studied a still of the killer. "I don't recognize him." He looked a little closer. "Then, again—" his voice trailed off.
Illya squinted his eyes, staring intently. "It is not possible."
Napoleon wanted to smack him. "Illya, just about everything that's happened today isn't possible, so let's just move past that, all right?"
Illya shot Napoleon a disgruntled narrow-eyed glare. "It can't be him. It was almost thirty years ago. He'd be much older."
"One of those people you were talking about earlier?" Napoleon guessed.
Nodding, Illya considered the picture again. "I was very young, although," he said with a don't-dare-contradict-me look at Napoleon, "I have an excellent memory."
Napoleon grinned. "No arguments there."
"But from what I can remember, this could be the man I saw kill Barriss, but as I said, thirty years have passed since then. It can't be him." He shook his head in disgust. "I should have recognized him when I saw the footage."
Maybe, Napoleon thought. Or maybe that woman, Luminara, really did do something to Illya to make him forget and seeing the film had forced the memories free. Farfetched, yes, but nothing about this case was ordinary.
"Okay, so either the man has aged incredibly well, or he's a look- alike," Napoleon said. "Regardless, it must have something to do with what you saw as a child. It's too much of a coincidence to be anything else."
Illya reluctantly nodded. "But if it is because I saw a man who looked like this kill someone, why wait thirty years to eliminate a witness? I was only a child and far easier to kill back then."
That was a grisly thought that made Napoleon wince. "I suppose we'll need to wait until tomorrow to get more answers."
Illya looked distinctly annoyed by the whole affair. But then he seemed to rally. "Then I suggest we go to bed," Illya said with a gleam in his eye.
Napoleon liked that idea. This was one of the reasons he enjoyed having sex with men: there was never a bad time for sex. It was reassuring that while Illya broke the mold in almost every other way, in this, he was all man. "Just give me a minute," he said, rising, and heading into the bedroom. He grabbed all the breakables in the bedroom and tucked them safely amongst his sweaters and underwear. Then the smaller television was pulled off the chest of drawers and placed on the floor.
He glanced up to find Illya in the doorway, frowning furiously. "What are you doing?" he demanded.
It seemed obvious to Napoleon but he just moved to the doorway and put his hands on Illya's waist, pulling him in for a kiss. "What can I say? When we make love, you make the earth move, dushka moya."
They'd been put in a VIP suite which suited Han just fine. He lay in bed with Luke, very glad that someone with some common sense had rescued them from their incarceration. They'd even been given their weapons back, although the Falcon was still missing in action. Han wasn't very happy about that.
Luke was holding up a picture of Illya Kuryakin.
Han rested his head next to Luke on the pillow and gazed up at the picture as well.
"Does he look like me?" Luke asked.
Shrugging, Han kissed Luke's shoulder. "Blond hair, blue eyes. I can see a similarity, but it doesn't mean he's your brother."
"I can sense him so clearly," Luke said. "It's like he's in the next room."
"Have you tried to contact him again?"
Luke shook his head. "I want his permission first." He sighed. "I wish Mr. Waverly had brought them in tonight. Whoever is after him is strong. Not as strong as the emperor or my father, but close."
"You can tell when me or Leia are in trouble," Han said. "Do you think you'd pick it up if he was?"
"I don't know."
"Can you tell what he's doing now? What he's feeling?"
"Not really." Then he sat up in bed. "It's happening again. He's using the Force." His brow furrowed in concentration.
"Is he in trouble?" Han asked, sitting up as well.
"No, I don't think he knows what he's doing, there's no rhyme or reason to it; it's just raw power." Luke stood, pulling on clothes.
"What are you doing?" Han complained. They'd already made love and it was time for sleep.
"His connection to the Force will lead the killer straight to him. It'll be like an arrow pointing to his location. We need to get him here so I can shield him."
Grumbling, Han got up as well, dressed, and moved to the door, opening it. The agent outside snapped to attention. "May I help you?" he said.
"We need to see Waverly," Han said. "Now."
The guard moved to a telephone on a nearby desk and picked it up, communicating the request. It was clear when Waverly got on the line as the agent stood even taller. He held out the phone to Han who put it to his ear, saying, "Luke wants to bring in Illya now. Is that possible?"
There was a grumbling noise, but then Waverly said, "I'll see to it immediately."
The call disconnected. Han could deal with that. Give him a no- nonsense phone call over political gobbledy-gook any day. He handed the phone back to the agent and turned to Luke. "You hear that?"
Luke nodded, looking worried.
"Is he still, you know, using it?" Han asked vaguely.
"You can't tell what's he's doing, though?"
"No, but it's like a tornado."
It was like a tornado. Napoleon actually wondered if it was, or if an earthquake had hit. The entire building had to be shaking; at least that's what it felt like. Pictures were falling off the walls, the large mirror over the smaller chest of drawers had crackled into a spider web pattern, and some of Napoleon's belongings were flying through the air.
It had been an abrupt and rather painful ending to the afterglow when Napoleon's alarm clock had smacked him on the side of the head.
Illya was in some sort of trance, and Napoleon could not get him out of it. His eyes were rolled back, showing mostly white, and his entire body was shaking almost to the point of convulsions.
Napoleon had slapped him, kissed him, drenched him in water, and gotten nowhere. He needed to call headquarters and get in a retrieval team. Napoleon didn't want Illya taken to a regular hospital; he didn't think this was anything they could treat.
He secured Illya in bed, covering him in pillows to protect him from any flying debris, and then Napoleon got out of bed, stumbling as the floor seemed to rock under his feet. He drew on some pants and slipped into a pair of loafers. There was glass everywhere, and the last thing he needed was to shred his feet.
His hands up to protect his face, he made his way out to the kitchen to retrieve his communicator. It was still sitting on the kitchen table where he'd left it. Reaching for it, he failed to see the large ceramic bowl flying through the air until it was too late. He tried to dodge at the last moment, but it slammed into his head. Seeing stars, Napoleon did his best to retain consciousness, but everything grew dark and he slumped to the floor.
Luke paced the room, growing more and more agitated.
"You can't stop it from here?" Han inquired.
"No. I already tried. He's—I don't think he's conscious. I need to be with him to shield him." He glanced at his watch.
"It's only been ten minutes," Han counseled him.
There was a knock, and then the door opened and Waverly strode in. "I cannot raise either of them on their communicators," he said concernedly.
"Take me to them," Luke said. "Take me to him."
"A car is waiting," Waverly said. "Please have Mr. Solo call me immediately." He gestured to the agent outside in the hall. "Agents Phillips and Montgomery will accompany this Mr. Solo and Mr. Skywalker to Napoleon Solo's apartment."
"Yes, sir," the agent said smartly, gesturing for Han and Luke to follow him.
Luke grabbed his lightsaber, and Han his blaster, and they followed the agent down the hall.
Napoleon groaned, his head aching. "What happened?" he asked. Then realizing who had spoken, he said, "Illya?"
"Yes," Illya said grimly.
"You all right?" Napoleon forced his eyes opened to look at his partner. He, too, was wearing pants and shoes, and looked as unhappy as Napoleon had ever seen him.
"I think a better question is are you all right?" Illya was holding a cloth to the side of Napoleon's head.
"I have no idea," Napoleon said with a sigh. "I don't suppose there was actually an earthquake, was there?"
Illya shook his head bleakly.
"See?" Napoleon said, attempting to smile. "You really do make the earth move."
"This isn't funny. I could have killed you."
"So at least you agree that you are doing this?" Napoleon asked.
Illya closed his eyes. "I could feel it this time, but I couldn't stop it." He touched Napoleon's face. "I am sorry."
"There's nothing to apologize for," Napoleon said sternly. "Whatever this is, it's outside your control."
"I'm not safe for you to be around."
"Don't even think about it," Napoleon snapped. "We deal with this together."
"I should be locked up," Illya bit out. He let out a gasp, his hands going to his temples.
"What is it?" Napoleon asked worriedly. He wasn't sure his apartment could take another beating. He wasn't sure Illya could either, let alone Napoleon's head.
Through gritted teeth, Illya said, "Someone's in my head."
"The same one as before?"
"No," Illya gasped. "Get out of my mind," he ordered. His eyes wide, he grabbed Napoleon. "He's coming. Now. You need to leave."
Napoleon snorted. "Right. I'll go pack a bag, shall I?" He rolled his eyes. Marshaling his strength, he lurched to his feet, holding on to the table as dizziness swamped him. All he needed was his gun. He was sure whoever it was would die just like anyone else if he had enough bullets in him.
There was a sound in the hallway and then the door burst open.
The killer from the film was standing there, no visible weapon in sight. Napoleon tried to remember where he'd left his gun; his brain felt addled.
"Time to die, Skywalker," the man sneered.
Napoleon frowned and glanced at Illya. "Skywalker?"
Illya shrugged. "I think you have the wrong person."
"No, I have the right person," the man said with an unfriendly smile. "There's no mistaking the force signature of Anakin Skywalker."
Napoleon saw Illya's left hand moving, saw that Illya's holster and gun were on one of the kitchen chairs. Napoleon moved a little to the right to distract the killer. "Who are you?" he asked. "And who is Anakin Skywalker?"
"The man who killed my father," the killer said venemously.
Napoleon had completely lost the plot. "Are you related to Barriss?"
"No," the man said angrily, "Darth Tyranus."
Illya almost had his gun. Napoleon's head was aching, and he had to swallow against his nausea. "Who?" He wanted the man's attention on him, and he really was ready for a good explanation.
Illya's fingers were on the gun when the man stretched out his hand and the weapon flew through the air to him. He tossed the gun behind him, then stretching out both arms, arcs of electricity leapt from his fingers to Illya.
Illya was flung to the ground, crying out in pain. Napoleon picked up a chair and threw it at the man. It stopped the light show, but the man deflected the chair with a hand motion. "You cannot defeat me," the killer crowed.
"No," a voice said from the doorway, "but I can." Another man moved into the room, also dressed in black. He had a weapon Napoleon had never seen before. The man held a metal grip from which came a sword of light, humming and gleaming a neon green. Immediately, a matching one, although in a neon red, appeared in the other man's hands. There was a metallic scraping and sparks flew when the blades connected.
It all made Napoleon's head hurt even more. "Stay here," Illya said softly. "I'll go get your spare gun from the bedroom."
Napoleon nodded. He wasn't sure he'd make it that far; he still felt woozy from getting knocked out.
Illya almost made it to the bedroom when the door slammed shut in his face. Quickly he turned and sprinted for the closet. That door slammed shut as well. Illya muttered something Russian and caustic under his breath and moved back to Napoleon.
"Knife," Napoleon whispered. He didn't want to be unarmed at this particular point and his regular pistol was on the couch, on the other side of the duelists. Illya's was even farther, on the floor where the man had flung it.
Illya was at the counter when the drawers started opening on their own, and sharp implements began to rise.
"Illya!" Napoleon yelled. He grabbed the kitchen table and pushed it over. Illya leaped over it, and they hunkered down listening to knives and other deadly utensils imbed themselves in the wood on the opposite side. "We are in deep shit," Napoleon said grimly. How did you fight against something like this?
"Luke Skywalker," the killer said. "They call you the last of the Jedi."
"I didn't know Dooku had a son," Luke said. The fighting had switched to a careful testing dance as they circled around each other.
"You weren't supposed to," Dooku's son said.
"Are you called Dooku as well?" Luke asked, as if he were at a garden party.
Napoleon liked his attitude.
"I am," Dooku informed him. "I was your father's apprentice."
Luke's eyebrows rose in surprise.
Dooku smiled meanly. "Little did he suspect that I knew he had killed my father, and that all he taught me I would use to kill his son." He laughed.
Luke's eyes shifted to Illya.
Dooku laughed again. "You didn't even know, did you, that your father sired a bastard son right before he married Queen Amidala."
Napoleon glanced at Illya, saw that his eyes were wide and staring at Luke. Brothers?
"This will make my revenge complete," Dooku said with malicious glee. "The same hour you find your brother will be the same hour you lose him."
Luke shifted until he stood between Illya and Napoleon and danger.
Someone slammed into the door from the hallway. "Luke," the voice yelled.
Ignoring the commotion outside, Luke said steadily. "I won't let you harm them. Any of them."
"You cannot defeat me," Dooku said. "I've been using the force all my life. You are an amateur compared to me."
Napoleon almost rolled his eyes. He wasn't sure if Luke could beat this guy or not, but he sure as hell knew the killer was using a lot of energy boasting. He'd fit right in with Thrush if he stuck around.
He saw Illya's hand sneak around the table, no doubt going for a knife. Napoleon thought that was a good idea and helped himself to one as well. He felt better with a weapon, even if it was—he looked down at what he'd grabbed—an ice pick.
"Luke, damn it, let me in," a frustrated voice came from outside.
Keeping his focus on Dooku, Luke waved a hand and Napoleon watched as the door cracked open.
Another man slammed through the door, scowling at Luke.
Luke grinned. "What took you so long, Han?"
"You jumped out of the damn car while it was still moving," Han complained bitterly.
Dooku struck, hoping to catch Luke unaware.
Luke met his parry with one of his own, and more sparks flew. "You can't win," Luke warned him.
"I can and I will," Dooku said. "I'll kill your brother, and then I'll kill you. I will avenge my father's death."
Han raised his weapon. "I don't think so."
Dooku waved a hand and Han's gun went flying and so did Han. He whammed to the floor near to where Napoleon and Illya sat. "Shit," Han said. "I hate it when that happens."
"Does it happen a lot?" Napoleon asked.
"More than you'd think," Han admitted. He glanced at Napoleon and then Illya. His eyebrows rose when he saw Illya.
"It's true I have only been aware of the Force for a few years," Luke admitted, "but I bested my father before he chose to turn his back on the dark side of the Force. I will beat you."
"You won't, because you have a weakness I do not." With a careless flick of Dooku's hand, Napoleon suddenly felt his throat start to close. He saw the same thing happening to Han. He struggled to draw in a breath.
"Napoleon?" Illya said worriedly.
Napoleon didn't have any air to answer. He tried to push away the panic, wanting what little air he had to last as long as possible.
"Stop it," Luke demanded, going after Dooku in a flurry of sword strikes.
Napoleon's vision started blurring, but he could still make out Illya's frightened, furious face. He felt the floor shake.
The pressure on his throat eased. Not completely, but enough for him to draw in a much-needed breath. He heard Han doing the same thing next to him. Napoleon wrapped his fingers around his ice pick. The table started shaking. Glancing at Illya, Napoleon saw that he was sweating. "Hang on," he warned Han with a gasp. Napoleon had no idea how much control over this thing Illya had. Probably not a whole lot, given the egg sized bruise on his own forehead from Illya's last foray into telekinesis.
Luke landed a glancing blow to Dooku's upper arm. It was enough to eliminate the pressure altogether. Napoleon drew in a deep refreshing gulp of air.
Then the whole floor buckled under Luke's feet. He stumbled, and Dooku struck. Somehow, miraculously, Luke jumped out of harm's way. He glanced at Illya, his brow furrowed, and asked, "Can you stop it?"
Napoleon could see that Illya was out of it. "No, he can't," Napoleon answered for him.
Dooku struck again. Luke's sword was there to meet the blow. He took a few steps back, shaking his head. He looked like he was trying to get water out of his ear.
"Crap," Han said. "Whatever your friend is doing is mucking with Luke's power." He yanked a knife out of a sheath on his belt. Napoleon took it as his own cue, and he flipped the ice pick to ready it for a throw.
As if aware of what Han was planning, Luke first attacked with a vengeance getting Dooku situated so Han and Napoleon were out of his direct line of sight. Then, Luke said, "The war is over, Dooku. The empire and the emperor are dead. Stop this now."
"I will not," Dooku said angrily, lunging at Luke.
Several things happened at once. Illya's body convulsed and anything that wasn't nailed down became a projectile. Han let his knife fly, and Napoleon's ice pick was right behind it. The knife hit Dooku in the left thigh, the ice pick his right shoulder, and then Dooku was being pummeled by books, magazines, objects d'art, even a kitchen chair.
The door slammed open again and two UNCLE agents ran in, staring around in stupefaction.
Deciding things were well enough in hand, Luke ran to Illya and slid to his knees, putting his hands to Illya's temples.
"What—" Napoleon began.
Han put his hand on Napoleon's shoulder. "Let him." Then Han's eyes widened and he groped for a weapon.
Napoleon turned his head to see Dooku heading right for Luke, sword drawn back for a killing blow. He and Han both grabbed Luke, intending to pull him out of harm's way, but the UNCLE agents began firing, emptying their pistols into the man's body.
Body jerking in rhythm to the bullets, Dooku lost his grip on his sword which fell to the ground with a clatter, the neon red of the blade vanishing. It was followed by Dooku's now dead body as he slumped to the rug.
Napoleon decided to throw that carpet away. He turned to Illya to see Luke talking softly to him. "Let me in. I can help you. That's it. Let me in. I won't hurt you."
As Luke spoke, Napoleon could see the effect it was having as objects stopped their momentum and fell to the floor. All the shaking ceased as well.
Illya's eyes opened, and he looked at Luke, then turned his head to find Napoleon.
"Right here," Napoleon said helpfully. "And in one piece."
Relief was clear on Illya's face. He slowly sat up. "You were the one in my head before," he said slowly to Luke.
Luke nodded. "I was. I didn't mean to intrude where I wasn't invited. But I could sense your power and was trying to understand where it was coming from."
Illya's eyes fell to Dooku's dead body. "He said we were brothers."
"I think we are," Luke said. "Half-brothers, anyway. Anakin Skywalker was my father, and I suspect he was yours, as well."
"I don't understand," Illya said, confused. "I had parents."
"I don't understand, either," Luke confessed, "but I'm still guessing we're brothers. That's why I could touch your mind so easily."
Illya's face looked understandably pinched. A lot had happened in a relatively short time. Napoleon got the attention of the two agents who were looking around the remains of Napoleon's apartment. "Nice shooting, you two."
They both stood a little taller at Napoleon's compliment.
"Please contact Mr. Waverly," Napoleon continued, "and tell him that we are essentially unharmed but certainly not at our best. Ask him to send a retrieval team for the body. Then, we'll need to get some people in to assess the building and this apartment for structural integrity. And someone's going to have to concoct a story so we'll all be saying the same thing." It was a good thing this was an UNCLE building. It would make things a lot easier.
"We'll get right on it, Mr. Solo," one of the agents said, both of them moving out into the hallway.
Napoleon found himself being grinned at by both Han and Luke. "What?" he asked.
"Mr. Solo?" Han asked.
"Napoleon Solo, at your service," Napoleon said charmingly. "And thank you both for your assistance."
"Han Solo," Han said in return.
Napoleon blinked. "Your last name is Solo?"
"Please don't tell me we're brothers, too?" Napoleon quipped. "Because I won't believe you."
A final picture fell off the wall, the glass front shattering when it hit the ground.
Napoleon sighed, looking around at all the mayhem.
Illya touched his arm. "Napoleon, I'm sorry. I will pay for all the damage."
"No, you won't," Napoleon said firmly. "This was hardly your fault." He narrowed his eyes at Luke. "Although, I would like a little more information."
"We'll tell you anything you want to know," Luke said, standing. "But I think you need medical attention. That gash on your head doesn't look good."
Napoleon touched his head and drew back fingers wet with blood. He hadn't even known he was bleeding. "I suggest a trip to UNCLE headquarters might be in order. I'm sure Waverly would like an explanation as well and no doubt he'll be ordering us in at any moment."
He carefully stood, glad he wasn't feeling woozy anymore, and held a hand down to Illya. Illya was too busy staring at Luke to even acknowledge it. "I really have a brother?"
"And a sister," Luke said with a smile. "And a brother-in-law." He gestured at Han. "Han and I are married."
"And I come with all sorts of cousins that you'll wish you never heard of," Han said dolefully.
Napoleon's eyebrows rose. "Husband?"
Han nodded. "Two years now." He smirked at Luke. "It took me a year to convince him to marry me."
Luke smiled a slow loving smile at him.
Napoleon felt a surge of envy that these two men could have what he and Illya could not. He met Illya's eyes, saw the same regret there.
Napoleon and Illya's communicators went off.
Napoleon grinned knowingly. "Ah, the master's call." He glanced around, trying to find the silver cylinder.
Illya found his first. "Kuryakin here," he said into his communicator.
"Mr. Kuryakin," Waverly said, "I'm pleased to hear you're both still alive. A car is waiting for the four of you out front."
"We'll be in shortly," Illya said succinctly.
"Very good," Waverly said and disconnected.
"No doubt he's glad to hear we're alive as it would be a bother to train new agents," Illya said wryly.
"No doubt," Napoleon said with a grin. "I believe I need a shower and a change of clothes."
"As do I," Illya said with a dour look at himself. "I'll go down to my apartment and meet you in the lobby."
"I'll go with Illya," Luke offered.
This time Illya took the hand Napoleon offered him and stood, staying close, clutching his fingers for a few seconds before letting go. "We'll figure it out," Napoleon said softly.
Illya nodded tightly. "Let me get my shirt." He walked to the bedroom.
"This thing Illya can do," Napoleon started, gesturing at the chaos around them, "you can do it, too?"
"Yes," Luke said. "I can. And I can teach Illya how to control it."
"Can you do it?" Napoleon asked Han.
"No," Han said. "And I don't want to."
"What is it?" Napoleon inquired. "I've never seen anything like it." Which was saying something considering the very odd affairs they often found themselves embroiled in courtesy of Thrush.
Illya rejoined them at that moment. "We better not keep Waverly waiting any longer than we have to," he suggested.
Good point. Napoleon nodded. "Meet you in the lobby." Explanations would have to wait until they were at UNCLE headquarters. As Illya and Luke left, Napoleon shot Han a lopsided smile. "Assuming you can find an intact glass," he said, "help yourself to something to drink."
"Illya did all of this?" Han looked impressed.
"Not all at once. But, yes." It was pretty impressive.
"Luke said he was powerful," Han noted, putting the kitchen table to rights. He glanced at all the knives and other sharp implements stabbed into the table. "Nice," he said dryly. "Doesn't it make it hard to use, though?"
Napoleon rolled his eyes. "You can thank Dooku for this work of art." He felt a completely unjustified surge of pride about Illya at Han's earlier words. "I'll just go clean up."
Han nodded, opening cabinets, looking for a glass.
Pursing his lips, Napoleon considered Han, thought about Illya and Luke downstairs, about this bizarre power, and unexpected families and what it all might mean. Deciding he better just focus on getting clean, Napoleon headed for the bathroom, glad it was intact.
Luke couldn't stop staring at Illya as they walked down the stairs.
"Are you sure we are brothers?" Illya asked.
"I am. But there are ways to prove it," Luke offered.
"That might be best," Illya said. "Just to be sure." He smiled shyly at Luke. "Not that I don't want a brother. It's just a lot to take in, and I'd like to be certain."
Luke guessed that Illya didn't want to get his hopes up only to find out they weren't brothers. Luke felt the same way, although he was sure. He could sense Illya the same way he could sense Leia. He cocked his head to the side and studied Illya. "Can you use any of your powers purposefully?"
"No," Illya said, disgruntled. "I didn't even know I had them until late this afternoon."
"Really?" Luke asked, surprised. "Why?"
"I think my memories were blocked," Illya said, "by someone named Luminara."
Luke's eyes widened. "Luminara Unduli? You knew her?"
"When I was a child. I was taken in by gypsies, and she was one of the elders."
Luke stopped in his tracks. "You actually knew her?" He knew she'd been here, but he hadn't expected Illya to have actually met her. She was one of Luke's heroines and he regretted that almost all of the Jedi had died long before Luke joined the battle.
"You didn't know her?" Illya asked.
"No. I knew she'd come to Earth, but—" Luke started connecting the dots, realizing she must have come here to protect Illya.
"To Earth?" Illya blurted in astonishment, stopping as well.
Luke nodded absentmindedly. "Yes, she was from Mirial. However, she spent more time away from her home-world than on."
"What? What are you saying?"
Luke tuned into the tone of Illya's voice and looked up to see an expression of utter incredulity on his face. Luke winced. "I forgot that the people of your planet have lived unaware that there are thousands of inhabited worlds in the universe, and more species of sentient beings than you can imagine."
"Are you telling me that you're not from here?" Illya asked with suspicion.
Luke smiled kindly at him. "I don't think you are either." He waited to see what effect that had on Illya. "I don't believe my father ever came here, which means you were at least conceived on another world."
Illya stared at him. "Is this—," He stopped. Then, ever so reasonably he asked, "If what you say is true, why has no one discovered it? I've had my blood examined hundreds of times. I've been shot, and beaten and tortured, and spent days, sometimes weeks in the hospital and no one ever suggested I wasn't human."
Grimacing at Illya's casual recitation of injuries, Luke said, "I imagine whatever differences they found in your blood or body were simply written off as anomalies. It's unlikely anyone would draw the conclusion that you weren't born here."
"How can people from other planets, other galaxies be so similar? How can our organs have developed along such similar lines?"
"I don't know," Luke admitted. "But this essential design seems to hold true across many species. One of the universe's many secrets."
Illya shot him an inscrutable look and started back down the stairs. Luke wondered if his newly found brother was wishing he'd never been found. In silence, they made their way to Illya's apartment.
Napoleon dressed and joined Han in the kitchen. "What is this power you all talk about?" he asked, speaking of what was weighing most on his mind.
"It's called the Force. Luke could explain it better. I'd rather use a blaster, to be perfectly honest," Han said, patting the grip of his weapon. "Although, Luke's kind of a handy guy to have around," he added with a grin.
If that power could be controlled the way he saw Luke and Dooku use it, Napoleon could believe that. "How will he train Illya?"
"He'll probably want to take him home to Coruscant, where we live."
"Where's that?" Napoleon was well-traveled, but he'd never heard of it.
"A few billion miles that way," Han said, pointing up.
Napoleon blinked. "Excuse me?"
"Fortunately, with the new hyperdrive system, the Millennium Falcon can get there in about two weeks. Not bad for the old girl," he added proudly.
Napoleon was speechless. He thought back to this morning's briefing- -it felt like years ago now—and remembered the talk of aliens and substances from outer space. It had seemed like such a joke. "Does Waverly know this?" Maybe it was a joke.
"Yeah," Han said, shrugging into his jacket. "Although I still don't know where my ship is," he said grumpily. "They better not have touched her."
"Waverly knows you're from another planet?"
Han nodded. Then he frowned. "Wait a minute. You don't believe me, do you?"
"I don't know what to believe," Napoleon said shortly. "Frankly, I'll be glad when this day is over." He strapped on his holster and felt better once his gun was within immediate reach. Then he slipped into his suit jacket. He headed for the door and then came to a screeching halt. "But I'll tell you one thing," he said, turning to face Han. "If this is true, and you are from another planet, there is no way you're taking Illya away from me." Not to another planet.
"Are you two together?" Han asked.
"Yes," Napoleon snapped, "but you can't talk about it. Same sex relationships aren't accepted here." On this planet. On Earth. Napoleon's head started to hurt again. Or, more correctly, it started to hurt more, because it had never stopped aching. Napoleon needed some aspirin, some scotch, and Illya, and not necessarily in that order. "Let's go." He followed Han out the door.
It was a somber group that met in the lobby, and they all filed outside and into the car, Illya in front, Han, Luke, and Napoleon in back, Luke in the middle. The driver further inhibited any conversation, at least of the outer space and alien kind.
Napoleon saw the look Han and Luke exchanged and watched as a series of expressions crossed their faces. Luke leaned toward Napoleon and said very softly. "I won't take him from you, I promise."
Eyes narrowed, Napoleon stared at Luke, "How—?" He'd been with Han since their conversation up in his apartment and the man hadn't said a word.
"We're able to communicate silently," Luke said even more softly. Napoleon could barely hear him. "You two will be able to do that, too, if you want."
Napoleon had a thousand questions to ask, but now wasn't the time. But he'd heard the sincerity in Luke's voice and at least was reassured by the hope that he and Illya would not be parted.
They were on their way to Waverly's inner sanctum when Illya grabbed Napoleon by the arm and pulled him into an empty office, shutting the door behind them. Right before the door shut, Napoleon saw a grin on Luke's face. Napoleon hoped he'd come up with a good excuse for their additional tardiness.
Not that Napoleon cared; he welcomed a moment alone with his partner.
"Luke says I am not human," Illya hissed.
"Han said Luke would want to take you back to their planet to be trained," Napoleon griped back. He was gratified by the over-my- dead-body look in Illya's eyes.
"Is that what he meant when he said he wouldn't separate us?" Illya asked.
Napoleon rolled his eyes. Illya had ears like a bat. "Yes."
"Because I won't leave you," Illya said with utter conviction. "That's assuming any of this is even true, and this isn't somehow the most elaborate plot Thrush has ever hatched."
"Do you think it's a plot? Do you think they're lying?"
Illya looked like he wanted to say yes, but he gloomily shook his head. "No," he said, practically pouting.
It made Napoleon grin. "So, we're agreed. Whatever happens, we stick together. Right?"
"Right," Illya said. "Now that I have you, I have no intention of letting you go."
"You've always had me," Napoleon said seriously.
That elicited a surprised but very pleased look. "Ya liubliu teya, Napoleon."
"I love you, too," Napoleon said, stealing a quick kiss. "And there's one thing I do know. You have to learn how to control these powers of yours, or we're going to have a very dangerous sex life."
Illya snorted. "At least I won't have to worry about you growing bored and leaving me for someone else, if your life and your belongings are put at risk every time I kiss you."
Napoleon heard the worry there. "I won't get bored, even if our sex life becomes a bit more conventional. Now we better go or we'll be jobless."
Nodding, searching Napoleon's face and apparently finding what he needed to see there, Illya smiled, and moved to the office door.
Waverly had had someone come up from the medical section to bandage Napoleon's head, and draw blood from Luke and Illya. Then, slowly, everyone's version of the last couple of days was shared.
"So, while much of this is conjecture," Luke finished up. "I suspect that Count Dooku, the elder, kidnapped Illya when he was born. It's possible my father didn't even know he'd gotten someone pregnant. But if Dooku had come across the woman he would have sensed Anakin's Force signature, being so familiar with it."
Continuing, he said, "Luminara, and her Padawan—" at the blank looks, he amended, "apprentice, Barriss Offee, must have learned of it and followed Dooku to Earth, intending to protect the child. Perhaps it was she who found your adoptive parents for you," he said to Illya.
Illya was looking painfully stone faced and Napoleon wished—he didn't know what he wished. That none of this had happened? But then he and Illya might not have realized their feelings for each other. Would one have occurred without the other? Napoleon didn't think so; Illya could keep secrets better than anyone he knew.
"From what Illya said earlier," Luke said, "she must have been keeping an eye on him, and when tragedy struck, she found a new home for him. When he saw Dooku kill Barriss, to keep him safe she must have blocked his memories and his ability to access the Force. She must have realized at that point that she had to return to the Jedi Council to take a more active role in the battle, and to warn of Dooku's duplicity. At that point, I believe he was still considered to be a trusted member of the Jedi Council."
Napoleon pitched in, "And when Illya saw the film of the younger Dooku and read the reports, something must have triggered the removal of the memory block."
"So what happens now?" Illya asked. He pressed his finger against the cotton ball that covered the spot where blood had been drawn to match his genetic information with Luke's.
"You need to be trained," Luke answered. "You're phenomenally strong. You almost destroyed that building. Without training, you're a danger to yourself and the people around you."
There was a knock at the door. Waverly pushed a button and the door slid open. Lisa Rogers, Waverly's assistant, stood there with a piece of paper in her hand. "Dr. Aswan asked me to bring this up immediately," she said, handing Waverly the form.
Waverly took it from her and put it on the table, spinning it around until it rested in front of Illya. Illya picked it up and looked at it.
Napoleon held his breath, saw that Luke was doing the same.
Illya put the paper back down on the table and looked at Luke. "It appears I have a brother." He smiled then, a shy captivating smile that made Napoleon long to grab him and kiss him senseless.
Luke smiled back. "And a sister."
"And," Illya said with a bewildered spread of his hands, "apparently, if the one is true, then the rest of it is true, and I'm not—" he stopped, having trouble with the words.
"From around here?" Napoleon finished for him with a grin.
Illya shot him a look. "Apparently," he said dryly.
Waverly humphed a little, puffing on his pipe. "What will this training entail?" he asked Luke.
"I think it would be safest if I took him with me," Luke said. Napoleon opened his mouth to protest, but Luke beat him to it. "Of course, Napoleon would need to come as well."
"Mr. Solo?" Waverly asked in surprise. "Why?"
"Because it's clear he and Illya trust each other. It's essential that a Jedi have a partner they can work with, and Napoleon would need to be trained right along with Illya."
"I can't spare both of them," Waverly said. "You'll need to find someone else to work with Mr. Kuryakin."
"I can't," Luke said implacably. "Jedi partners can't be forced. Illya would need to trust his partner to touch his mind, and I'm betting there's no one except Napoleon he'd trust to do that." He leaned forward. "But think of what you'll end up with. They'll be able to speak to each other silently. Illya's power, with Napoleon's assistance will give UNCLE a tremendous advantage."
Waverly's eyebrows were beetling as he thought it through. "How long would you need them?"
"At least a year," Luke said. "He has a lot to learn. And not just about his powers. He deserves the right to learn about his heritage."
"I can't say I'm happy about the idea of losing the services of both of my senior agents for a year."
Napoleon didn't want to push too hard, so he said deferentially, "Cunningham could take over my duties while I'm gone, and Vaughn could be his second."
"Could he now?" Waverly asked, annoyed. He glared at Napoleon. "Have a transition report on my desk by close of day tomorrow."
Relief shot down Napoleon's spine, coupled with a sense of dread when he realized that getting his way meant he'd be leaving Earth. He inhaled and exhaled a long breath. He'd panic later.
"How many people can you fit on your vessel for your return trip?" Waverly asked Han.
"Ten, including us," Han said, gesturing at Luke, Napoleon and Illya, "but it'll be a tight fit."
"Are you willing to take on some passengers?"
"Who'd you have in mind?" Han asked. "And where is my ship, by the way?"
"It's still in New Mexico," Waverly answered. "It seemed the safest place for it. We wanted to avoid any detection beyond those who already know of its existence. Alerting the world to the fact that there is life on other planets must be done most cautiously."
"Who are you thinking of having join us?" Luke asked Mr. Waverly.
"NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration," Waverly explained," would like to send some engineers and scientists. And the Air Force would like to send two pilots."
"Like I said," Han replied, "it'll be tight, but you can split up the extra six bunks anyway you want."
"What do we need to bring with us?" Napoleon asked, as if planning a weekend in the country.
"Clothes, toiletries," Luke said. "We'll have everything else you might need." He glanced at Illya. "Illya, I haven't even asked you." Luke hesitated. "Is this something you want to do? Do you want to learn how to control the Force? I can probably block your sense of it, if you wanted me to."
Napoleon almost snorted. As if Illya could ever turn down a challenge.
Illya adjusted the lab work in front of him until it was perfectly centered. "This is a part of me, correct?"
"Yes," Luke said with a smile.
"Then I choose to learn how to control it."
The smile this time was approving. "In the meantime," Luke offered, "I should probably put a temporary block in so you don't do any further damage."
"Speaking of that," Napoleon said, looking to Waverly. "How's the brownstone?"
"In one piece, thankfully," Waverly replied. "There is some damage but nothing that requires evacuation. Your apartment, while not a danger, took the most damage and will require extensive remodeling.
Illya winced again. "You can stay with me, Napoleon, while it's being fixed."
That suited Napoleon just fine. "When do we leave?" he asked Luke.
"Mr. Waverly says there are quite a few people who would like to spend some time with us and study the ship, so ten days?" Luke grinned at Han's disgruntled expression, and then glanced at Illya and Napoleon. "Will that give you enough time to be ready?"
Illya nodded and asked, "Will you be in New Mexico for those ten days?" He looked as if he wasn't quite ready to part with his newly found brother.
Luke glanced at Waverly who was tamping tobacco in his pipe.
Waverly answered Illya's question. "Quite. New Mexico among other places. Your brother will be in good hands, Mr. Kuryakin, while he's here. You'll be with him for the next year, so I imagine you can spare him the time."
Illya didn't look like he completely agreed, but he nodded. "Of course, sir."
"I'll need some time with Illya," Luke said. "And things would be easier if we had some rest first."
Waverly looked disappointed that they weren't all fresh as a daisy. "Very well."
"They can stay with us tonight," Illya offered.
Waverly nodded and dismissed them. "Be back by noon tomorrow. All of you."
With that, the four of them rose and filed out of Waverly's office.
Han waited until they were at Illya's apartment to tease Luke. "You totally lied."
Luke went all innocent. "I didn't lie. I simply took a few liberties with the truth."
"You lied," Han crowed. When he saw Napoleon's and Illya's puzzled expressions, he said, "Jedi don't need a partner. In fact, they were usually loners." He slapped Luke on the arm. "You lied."
"What I said was the truth," Luke said, "from a certain perspective." He tapped his hand on his chest. "My perspective." Han was essential to Luke, and there was no one he trusted more.
"Whether you lied or not," Illya said, sitting on the couch next to Napoleon, "I'm grateful for the end result. I would not wish to do this without Napoleon."
"And now it's all set up to explain why you need to be near each other when you get back. You'll probably have to live together," Han said with a grin, "because Jedi's are so high-maintenance." He and Luke settled on the love seat.
Luke shot him a peeved look. "Me? High maintenance? Ha."
"Are you trying to tell me that I'm high maintenance?" Han said with an outraged scoff. "You'll never meet anyone easier to get along with than me."
"As long as everything's going your way," Luke teased.
"What's wrong with that?" Han asked. He slung his arm around Luke's shoulder and pulled him close. "I ended up with you, didn't I?" Then he scowled at Napoleon. "I hope those people traveling with us won't mind about me and Luke. I'm not changing my behavior on my own ship."
"They probably will mind," Illya said honestly, "but if they want to survive in this new universe you are showing us, they will need to overcome such intolerance."
Napoleon hesitated for a moment, but then put his arm around Illya, imitating Han's freedom. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm about done in." He yawned to emphasize his point.
The yawn was contagious and the other three yawned in concert. Illya patted Napoleon's hand on his shoulder, and then stood. "Let me show you your room," he offered.
"Shall I do the block now?" Luke asked. He wasn't sure what had prompted some of Illya's release of power, but sex was likely to do it, if it hadn't already.
Illya glanced at Napoleon and he nodded. "Unless you're too tired?"
"It won't take long," Luke said.
Illya sat back down, and Napoleon pulled him in close. Luke didn't blame him for being nervous. Considering the day they'd both had, he was astonished at their aplomb. Luke moved to sit next to Illya. "I'll show you exactly what I'm doing so if you needed to, you could eliminate the block, okay?" To Napoleon, he said, "When we're all a little more rested, and if Illya's willing, I'll teach you how to communicate with each other the way Han and I do."
Illya nodded, his hand squeezing Napoleon's knee.
"Close your eyes," Luke said, "and wait for me."
Illya's fingers tightened on Napoleon's knee but he closed his eyes. Luke closed his as well, feeling Han's loving thoughts brush his mind. "Illya?"
"Yes," Illya responded in his mind, eager, apprehensive, loud.
Luke sent quieting thoughts, soothing Illya's mental rough edges. "Is this comfortable for you?" Luke asked.
There was a non-verbal affirmation. "You fit in my mind. Is that the right way to think it?"
"As good as any," Luke said, his inner voice accented by silent laughter Han said sounded like bells. He shared an image with Illya of Luke's and Han's minds nestled like young pups.
Luke could feel his exhaustion. There'd be time later for exploration. "Do you see this?" Luke asked, indicating a place inside of Illya that was seething like a leashed hurricane.
An affirmation and some anxiety. "Is that the Force?"
"No," Luke said. "The Force is not so easily corralled. This is the part of you that senses the Force. It's been blown open. I'm going to seal it shut for right now, and then, later, when I start to train you, I'll show you how to close and open it at your command."
Luke sensed the part of Illya that was always curious, always willing to learn, to conquer new knowledge. He couldn't stop a surge of affection from communicating itself to Illya. He sensed surprise from Illya, that Illya didn't see himself as someone who was liked easily. Luke shared more, his affection, respect, and most of all his delight at having a brother. "A big brother," he added.
He felt Illya's mind-smile. "That makes you my little brother," he said in a teasing mental tone.
Luke sensed his satisfaction, equal to Luke's, at finding this unexpected family. He also felt his weariness. Without wasting any more time, Luke blocked the opening. "Did you see what I did?"
An affirmation. "It feels better closed."
"I'm not surprised," Luke said. He opened his eyes and said out loud, "We're done. You can open your eyes."
Illya opened his eyes, his face relieved. "That makes a huge difference. I hadn't even realized how disruptive it felt. Thank you."
Luke smiled. "You're welcome. And now it's time for bed. We can talk more in the morning."
They all rose, and Illya showed Han and Luke the second bedroom and the bathroom, where the towels were, and extra toiletries. Then he and Napoleon headed for Illya's bedroom.
"Have I told you recently that I love you?" Han said to Luke as he nibbled on his ear.
Luke sighed happily. "Every day, I think." He let his hand rest on his belly where their spent semen was slowly drying. Sooner or later he'd have to go get cleaned up but it could wait a while. He shook his head. "I have a brother." He grinned. "I can't wait to tell Leia. She's going to love him."
"Yeah," Han said. "She's not going to want him to come back to Earth. I'll give her a month to start campaigning to get them to stay."
"He'll be a powerful Jedi. I'd love it if he stayed. And with Napoleon at his side, with the experience they both have—" Luke sighed.
"We haven't even left Earth, so I don't think you need to be saying your goodbyes quite yet," Han teased him.
"As long as you never leave me, I can deal with anything," Luke sent Han across their bond.
"You don't need to worry about that," Han mentally reassured him. "You ain't ever getting rid of me."
Content, Luke got up and washed off, then climbed back into bed and into Han's arms.
"We're going to go live on another planet," Napoleon said in astonishment. "It hasn't quite sunk in." They were both in bed, curled around each other.
Illya snorted. "It still hasn't sunk in that I have you naked in my bed, let alone that I have a brother, a sister, a brother-in-law who's married to my brother, and the fact that I'm not human, let alone that we leave in ten days to go to a different galaxy we didn't even know existed."
Napoleon laughed. He couldn't help it. All in one day. "Plus we solved the crime and killed the bad guy."
"That's probably the only reason Waverly's letting us go," Illya said dryly. Then he clasped Napoleon's hand. "I don't know what I would have done if he'd refused to let you go."
"I do." Napoleon felt Illya stiffen as if Napoleon would have expected him to go off alone. "You'd have gone and I'd have stowed away on the ship."
Illya relaxed. "Pravil'ny."
Yes, Napoleon was right. "You're stuck with me, Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin."
"Good," Illya said sleepily.
"In fact, when we get to wherever we're going—, where are we going?"
"Coruscant," Illya murmured, yawning.
"Right, when we get to Coruscant," Napoleon said, "after an appropriate amount of time has passed, I plan to ask you to marry me. And then, I plan to marry you there, on that planet, where men can get married and no one seems to mind."
Illya cracked a sleepy eye open. "Do my wishes factor into this at all?"
"No," Napoleon said. "Because of course you'll say yes."
"Hmm," Illya said, stretching against Napoleon's body.
It felt very good. Napoleon was tempted to interpret that stretch as an invitation. "You will say yes, won't you?" he asked Illya, not too terribly worried.
"Yes, Napoleon," Illya said, "I will say yes. And I will wait for you to choose some wildly inappropriate time to ask me."
"Pravil'ny," Napoleon said with a grin. "Because why should we do anything normally?"
"Exactly," Illya said. "Now go to sleep."
"And then I'll have a brother, a brother-in-law, and a sister-in-law," Napoleon said, pleased at the new prospective additions to his family. "And don't forget all of Han's cousins."
Illya sighed. "You aren't going to shut up until we have sex, are you?"
"Nope," Napoleon said in anticipation.
With another much put upon sigh, but with that little cat-ate-the- canary grin of his, Illya pulled Napoleon even closer and kissed him.
Author's note: This is all Sue's fault. BIG TIME. She forced me to write this. Forced, bribed, ransomed, in other words she made me do it. The fact that she waved this wonderful t-shirt in front of my face and said she wouldn't give it to me until I wrote this story was just plain mean. Okay moving on, thanks to all my wonderful beta's who so willingly throw themselves into the breach for me over and over again. For this story that includes Joolz, Islaofhope, and Susan.