The street lit up with something like a Chinese New Year as the explosion rocked the lovely old house that had been a Thrush satrap. Right in the middle of a vintage neighborhood that bordered St. James Court in Louisville, Kentucky, the fireworks that shot off from the basement of that building had drawn a crowd of neighbors and police, fire personnel and now a news crew.

Outside of the purview of any of those people sat two grungy looking men who could have passed for refugees from a war. Their faces were blackened and the clothing was tattered where contact had been made with the thugs who had inhabited the now smoldering old house. The dark haired man sported a black eye, and when he moved the obvious wince of pain was in response to bruised ribs and various other sore spots. His companion was blond and equally battered looking. Upon closer examination his breathing betrayed the toxic fumes and smoke that he had inhaled after failing to find a mask, unlike his partner. As he sat under the stately old oak tree watching the scene down the street, he felt the sensation of constricting airways; the headache from his labored breathing and the suffocating sensation that was growing more alarming were beginning to alert him to an impending incarceration in medical.

"So, now what do we do?" Illya leaned back and then straightened, trying to find a better way to breathe, unable to alleviate the discomfort of too little air.

"First of all I think we get you to a hospital. You don't look too good". He eyed his partner and took note of the wheezing, the obvious slump in his shoulders as he tried to harness the little bit of oxygen in his damaged lungs.

"Me…what about you? I bet you have a broken rib from the way you're holding your side". Not to be outdone, the blond wasn't planning on a hospital bed just yet.

"How do we get back to New York? I would prefer being there if a hospital is necessary'… He thought he saw a look of agreement on Napoleon's face…

"You too, I bet". The brunette agreed in spirit, but wasn't sure his friend would make it.

"I think you need something sooner than later. What were you thinking anyway, not putting on a mask" The rebuke was lined with concern, although he was still upset that Illya had been so careless. Not that it was unusual for the Russian to act recklessly in the heat of battle. It was one of the reasons he landed in medical more often than anyone else in the organization. Well, maybe that was an exaggeration, but not much of one.

"There's probably oxygen in that ambulance over there. Maybe I could have some of that, for now…" As Illya rose up from his sitting position, his legs buckled beneath him and he slid back down the trunk of the tree, just out of reach of his friend's frustrated grasp.

"Illya…damn". He gathered him up and carried the unconscious man the fifty yards to the scene of the fire, seeking out medical help. Too late now to avoid a hospital.

There was a humming noise that reached Illya's ears before he was aware of the antiseptic odors or the looming white walls. He could feel the oxygen mask on his face, the IV line in his left arm…hospital.

He tried to open his eyes, but they resisted the effort. He remembered the explosion, and sitting under the tree watching all of the activity surrounding the burnt out building. Where was…


'I'm here, Illya. You're in the hospital, in Louisville. You passed out". Searching brown eyes looked for recognition, remembrance of the night's events. He didn't like having to be stuck here, but there was no choice. Illya hadn't left any for them, and he had to admit, his ribs hadn't either. There was no point in resisting care since it was available.

"We just need to get your oxygen levels up and they'll release you. How do you feel?" Illya rolled his eyes, breathing the steady flow of oxygen, still aware of the raw feeling in his lungs when he tried to take a deep breath.

"I will be fine. We should go…" But he wasn't going anywhere tonight. He could barely move, the weariness was so overwhelming. Perhaps a good night's sleep…

"Illya…tovarisch…". Napoleon walked back to his chair and settled in for the night.