"There needs to be a resolution to this situation. What do you suggest?" The blond was ducking his head inside of a wall safe, examining the contents before depositing an incendiary device that would destroy them at the appointed time.

"I think we should consider the possibility that this office is bugged, and we've been found out. The guards will be on their way soon, and we are going to be spending Thanksgiving in a Thrush cell. What's to resolve?" Napoleon Solo was observing his partner as he rummaged through the pile of documents inside the safe, looking for a sign of the evidence they needed to substantiate the presence of a deadly bacteria…another deadly bacteria…from the Thrush labs.

"Exactly. What are we going to do about it?" Illya Kuryakin was having no luck in his search, and hated the idea that they might be captured and held here with nothing to show for their efforts.

"We might consider just blowing up the place; at least it would satisfy my frustration at our lack of success here". The last part of that sentence was punctuated with a grimace of pain as his hand grazed something at the back of the safe. Hidden from view, it projected out of the metal enclosure a mere inch or so, but was sharp enough to draw blood. The Russian pulled his hand out quickly, examining the puncture in his thumb and the blood that was quickly bubbling through his flesh.

"What's that?" His partner took his hand and immediately came to the conclusion that Illya had already reached.

"I would assume that this is our bacteria. It is, it seems, the perfect foil for the uninvited". The Russian's droll observation belied his very real concern over the grim truth of this unfortunate incident. Napoleon was thinking, or trying to think. How much time? Is there an antidote?

"We need someone who knows what this is…how much time until…" He couldn't bring himself to finish the question. If this were, indeed, the item for which they had been looking and matched the deadly details that had been leaked, then…

"Napoleon…look at me!" Illya needed action right now, not melancholy and regret. His partner didn't have time to consider what might happen later. Action was all that would save his life.

"We don't need the formula any longer. My blood will supply that for the labs. I don't see any sign of a container of any sort, nothing in the paperwork here. Let's get back to HQ and start on analyzing what we do have…me."

The logic was sound, and his voice even as he spoke to his shaken partner. Napoleon knew he was right, and immediately was on the move as they both headed for the door they had come through earlier. As he poked his head around the corner, there were no guards in sight; something made him wonder if this hadn't been a set up from the beginning. It would be a very efficient way to eliminate UNCLE agents and test the formula without the messiness of holding them in a cell. Maybe Thrush had started to think creatively for a change.

The two men headed down the hallway, passing empty rooms along the way. The building was deserted except for them, not typical of a Thrush satrap. Why? Napoleon was thinking as they made their way out of the building and headed for their car. The tan Cougar sat halfway down the block from where they exited, but Illya walked instead of running in the normal escape mode. He needed to keep his system from spreading the poison more quickly, so he slowed his movements, then stopped completely.

"Napoleon, will you come back and pick me up here…I feel as though I should move as little as possible". The dark eyes examined his friend and noted that the blond was beginning to pale slightly, his breathing more halting than usual. It was beginning…

"Yes, let me go and get it…are you feeling…?" Illya nodded his head…

"I'm fine. I just need to not speed the process". Time was what he needed now; time to get back to headquarters, and time for the labs to start to work on an antidote. He just hoped that he had time; that the clock wasn't ticking down so quickly that he wouldn't be able to stop this…death.

Napoleon ran to the waiting car, started it and then backed up to retrieve his partner. Illya didn't waste any time getting in, and as the door was closing the car raced down to the end of the block and made a screeching turn as it headed for the freeway and back to UNCLE…back to the only hope that Illya had.

"Open channel G…this is Kuryakin. I want to speak to Mr. Miller in the labs". Illya had decided to alert the team to what was coming. The first stop would be in medical, but he needed the lab personnel to be prepared to begin immediately with the analyzing of blood samples. Hopefully they would be able to separate the elements and isolate the formula; that was what would give them building blocks for an antidote.

"Ned, I've been exposed to something…unknown. The information on this Thrush entity is in the files for today's mission. You will need that, and then my blood samples. I don't know what the time element is, however I am beginning to feel some effect from this bacteria". The information was so minimal, only an optimist could begin to have any hope that the abrasion on Illya's thumb wouldn't prove fatal. Only a sincere desire to not die was precluding his normal pessimism; he wasn't quite ready to acquiesce to death at the hands of a random bit of fate.

"Illya, how did you become infected? Do you have any samples?" The lab technician was an optimist, and hopeful that there was more than blood on which to base his quest for the man's recovery.

Illya proceeded to fill the man in on all of the details, the same precision with which he wrote his reports now going into a narrative that might be the difference between life and death.

As the two agents pulled into the underground parking garage, Napoleon aimed for the entrance to medical. It was the same spot where UNCLE ambulances and harried agents deposited the dead and wounded after the endless cavalcade of dramatic missions and tragic encounters with the enemy. How many times had these two made their way into headquarters via this entrance? Too many times.

The medical team was waiting for them, and Illya was immediately thrust into a wheelchair, limiting the need for him to utilize his limbs and speed the invading poisons through his body. His complexion had faded into an even paler hue than Napoleon had observed on the street. He was having difficulty breathing as well, and the CEA of UNCLE Northwest suddenly felt completely useless. He wasn't a scientist or a doctor, and his contribution to saving his partner was now reduced to prayers and encouragement. There had to be something he could do now, a Thrush agent who knew of an antidote or …

"Illya, I have an idea about where to locate someone with answers. Are you going to be alright…I mean…" Illya looked up, his brows knitted in a puzzled expression above the increasingly dull eyes.

"Napoleon, there is nothing left for me but to wait. Others will have to do the work that will solve this puzzle. Go and do what you must. I will…be here". He let his lips curl into that abbreviated smile that had become such a precious commodity to the senior partner. He needed to make sure he saw the full smile on his friend's face. Illya had to live, and he was beginning to believe there was a way he could make it happen.