A/N: I am an "Illya" girl and am tempted to write stories mostly about IK. This is an attempt to break away from that and focus on Napoleon Solo and try to find his voice, to reach into his psyche. Don't know if I was successful, but it was fun trying.
Napoleon Solo lay bonelessly on the rock shelf that served as a sleeping palette, although sleeping palette was a misnomer as there had been precious little of that....sleep that is. Beads of sweat rolled down the planes of his face leaving canyons in the grime that coated his skin. After days, or was it weeks, of brutal interrogation, sleep deprivation, and lack of sustenance the top agent of the UNCLE wondered how much longer he could hold on and keep his wits about him. How long would it be before his captors tire of him and dispose of him the way they did with Illya Kuryakin.
Illya. The very thought of his friend caused tightening in his chest and brought images surging back. Images he would rather forget. The last he saw of his partner, Solo was made to watch as two thugs carried the unconscious Russian wrapped in a blood stained canvas tarp before unceremoniously dumping him into a coal cart and sending it over the cliff just outside the entrance to the cave. If, by chance, Illya was still alive when they pushed him over the ledge there was no way he would have survived the fifty foot drop.
There was nothing he could do to stop them, to keep them from tossing Illya over the edge like yesterday’s garbage...that left Solo more devastated than any torture and his tormentors knew it.
Napoleon’s captors had returned him to the farthest reaches of the cave where no natural light reached. He did not know how much time had passed since then. If he were to guess it was days.
Dark....so damn dark. The darkness pressed around him adding to his despondency. He fed his own misery with questions that had no answers. How long have I been here? What do these bastards want? Is anyone looking for us...me? God, I’m so tired.
As much as he was able with his hands and feet manacled to rings embedded in each end of the palette, he turned over to relieve the tender areas on his right hip. Hot...too hot. Maybe he had a fever from his wounds or from the noxious drugs that had been pumped into his blood stream. Exhaustion finally overtook despair and Napoleon drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
“Rise and shine, Solo! There will be no rest for the weary.”
Solo was awakened by the guards. They undid his manacles and roughly pulled him up. They led him through a maze of tunnels until they came to a brightly lit room where the only thing in it was a dentist’s chair. Napoleon was pushed into the chair and forced to hold still while restraining straps were systematically fastened pinning him down. His left hand was made into a fist and then duct taped so he couldn’t move his fingers at all then his fist was duct taped to the arm of the chair. Then grabbing a fist full of hair the guards forced his head back before fitting a tight metal band around it. Forcing him to look only straight ahead at a fixed point. By the time the men were finished with him, Napoleon could only move the finger tips of his right hand.
As Napoleon wearily struggled against the bonds a white coated technician approached and injected a clear substance into an exposed vein on his right arm. The bright lights in the room faded to gray and then black as the sedative took effect.
Slowly awareness crept into the edge of his mind bringing the bound agent to consciousness. He opened his eyes. Before him was a narrow beam of light shining on a small vial filled with a substance the color of an intense sky blue, not unlike the color of his partner’s eyes. Illya. The rest of the room was dimly lighted hiding the harsh lines of the rock hewn room.
As the drug wore off Napoleon realized that a tube had been forced up his left nostril and he could feel it at the back of his throat. The end of the tube he could see was attached to a funnel below the glass bottle which was placed on a small hinged platform.
“Ah, good afternoon, Mr. Solo. It is so nice of you to join us.” The disembodied voice was tinny as it came over a loud speaker. “You realize it was quite rude to nod off when you are the invite d'honneur.”
“Yes, well forgive me, but I seem to be lacking in sleep of late.” Napoleon retorted. “Why don’t we skip the niceties and just tell me what you are up to.”
“Oh, my dear Mr. Solo, you are what I’m up to. Our task here is done. Now we are just tying up a few loose ends...you.
Napoleon remained silent. He knew the braggart would continue.
“We will leave you now, Mister High and Mighty Uncle Agent. You will be left with no water or food. You will die a slow and painful death from dehydration, that is if lack of oxygen doesn’t kill you first after we seal off the room.
“As you know there is no hope of rescue. Your people have no idea where you are. Even if they found this complex, there are so many underground tunnels that they would never find you in time.
“But I wouldn’t want someone to accuse me of being totally heartless. I’m sure that you have noticed by now the small bottle in front of you, hmmmm, Mr. Solo?”
Napoleon’s eyes flicked to the spotlighted bottle and its blue contents.
“In that bottle you can find peace. All you have to do is push that button by your right index finger and the mechanism will pop the cork and tilt the platform. The contents will pour into the funnel attached to the nasal tube and automatically be drawn into your stomach.” The voice paused. “Peace, Mr. Solo. No more pain. You will feel euphoric for an hour before succumbing to euthanasia.
“It’s your choice. Not many people get a chance to choose how they will die, my dear man. But you, Mr. Solo, can. What will it be? Sit in the dark for days in pain with thirst or suffocation hoping against hope that you will be rescued? Or will you choose the painless way?”
The same two guards came back in and placed a piece of duct tape across his mouth. “Just a little something to keep you from screaming out loud. It’s too bad I won’t be here to see which path you follow. Good bye, Mr. Solo.”
The hum of the loudspeaker went dead. The continual hum of the climate control and air circulation ceased. All lights went out save for the one narrow beam highlighting the vial.
Panic and fear threatened to overwhelm the brunet as he sat bound to the chair, his eyes fixated on the bottle. He made a conscious effort to slow down his breathing and calm his heart rate. Panicking would do no good and would only add to deplete his oxygen at a faster rate.
He sat for hours in the oppressive silence with his eyes closed. He refused to look at the bottle. He would never give up hope. He had learned long ago that last minute rescues were possible especially when his partner was out there looking for....Illya. Oh God, I’m sorry Illya.
The ambient temperature rose as did Napoleon’s thirst. The air was beginning to stale, made worse by the odor of his own filth.How long has it been? His muscles ached and cramped made worse by his immobility. His breaths came in short raspy puffs pushing against the duct tape and then released through his nose. Muted moans of pain were kept blocked by the same tape.
He opened his eyes. The bright light still shone upon the bottle. It’s blue contents the only color visible in a room devoid of color. The color of the sky that supplies fresh air...the color of a lake with thirst quenching water...the color of Illya’s eyes.
There was a tag attached to the bottle. In bold, beautiful script it contained a simple message, “Drink Me”. It wasn’t a suggestion, no it was a command. It was his job to obey commands, wasn’t it?
No! It’s death. Stay away from it...hold on, Solo. You can do it. What would Illya say if he knew you were thinking of giving up?
Again Napoleon shut his eyes. Better to not look at the bottle calling him like a siren’s song seducing him to be the instrument of his own destruction. Go to hell, I’ll not take your damn potion.
A pain filled sleep descended upon him.
“Drink Me. I’ll take away your pain. Drink me, Napoleon, and it will soon be over.” The voice brought him out of his stupor. He opened his eyes. The bottle was still there. It was calling him. Commanding him.
It was getting increasingly difficult to breathe. There was so much pain. There was no spit left in his mouth to swallow. Napoleon knew that if the liquid was released into the tube he would instinctively swallow for want of moisture.
Oh God, I can’t do this any more. Please, let me die soon.
“Drink me and your prayers will be answered.” The bottle seemed to grow before his eyes, the attached placard calling to him urgently.
His heart pounded hard against his chest complaining of the lack of water and oxygen. His pulse hammered loudly in his ears. He was dying and he knew it. Why not take the painless way out, death was inevitable.
“Drink me!” The blue liquid mocked him, cajoled him, beckoned him. “Pain or me, which will it be?”
Slowly, the index finger of his right hand moved toward the button and then moved quickly away. No! But as if it had a mind of its own his finger moved towards the button again. “Peace, no pain, Drink me!” The cork was pulled, the hinged platform dropped and cool blue liquid poured out of the bottle. “Drink me.” And Napoleon did.
Darkness faded to light. Beeping pierced through the quiet of sleep. “Would someone please turn off that damned machine!” he yelled. Or he tried to, but Napoleon’s mouth was full of tubing and his larynx was immobile and his throat was sore.. Funny, he didn’t think being dead included respirators. He opened his eyes to see sky blue ones looking back at him. Illya! No, Illya was dead.Closed his eyes and drifted back into peaceful darkness.
Illya Kuryakin stood by his partner’s bed watching the machines and listening to the sounds that assured him that everything was going to be okay. IV lines dripped glucose and saline into Napoleon to rehydrate him and provide some sustenance. Another IV delivered the antidote to the narcotic/poison that had been in a small vial.
It had been close, too close. Napoleon had been missing for over two weeks during an assignment where he had the task of shutting down one of THRUSH’s satrapies designed as a massive communications center for the eastern half of the United States. THRUSH had set up shop in West Virginia in some old interconnecting coal mines. UNCLE had lost touch with him. He had reported in after arriving at his planned location and that was the last anyone had heard from him.
Dr. Evans came into the room. Illya looked up long enough to tell him that Solo had awakened for a few moments. “He’s going to be okay, Mr. Kuryakin. You got to him in time.” The doctor made a few notes on the patient’s chart and then removed the breathing tube. Checked the patient one more time and left the room. Illya settled back in a chair and waited for his partner to wake again.
Two days later, Napoleon was well enough to sit in a wheelchair and have Illya take him up to the roof of headquarters for some fresh air. Illya worried about the state of his partner’s mind. Napoleon had been withdrawn, offering little information as to what had happened during his captivity.
“Napoleon, my friend, what’s wrong? It is not like you to be so quiet, to ignore the nurses.”
Napoleon looked up at his friend. A profound sadness settled in his gaze.
“I thought you were dead, Illya. I saw them toss you over the cliff. I...I couldn’t stop them.” The man shook with the memory.
“It wasn’t me, Napoleon. I was never with you on the assignment with you. We think you were hallucinating from all of the drugs.”
“And for that I’m glad Illya.” The agent grew silent again.
“Something else is bothering you, Napoleon,” Illya prodded gently. “Talk to me, my friend.”
Napoleon let out a shuddering breath before answering. “I broke, Illya. I couldn’t stand it anymore. Between my grief for you, the isolation, and the pain I was at the end of my rope. I chose to take the easy way out.”
Illya patted his friend’s shoulder. “Napoleon look at me. From what you have told me and from what the doctors ascertained you were mere hours from death, a very painful death. You waited as long as you could before making the choice. There is no shame in finding the easiest path when death is imminent.
“I’m just glad that we got there in time and I was able to pinch off the nasal tube before you ingested the complete contents. There was even enough left to give to the medical research department which allowed them to find the antidote.
“You did give me a scare, my friend, but it turned out well in the end.”
Napoleon looked into the sky blue eyes of his partner. “Thank you, tovarisch.”