"Well, Mr. Kuryakin, do we need another round of truth serum? Perhaps you're ready to talk to me now; I certainly don't think you want to have anything else to do with my assistant, Mr. Bellows. Unless, of course…"

Illya scowled as well as he was able. His face felt as though a tank had rolled over it, and he only had one eye in working order. He didn't need to see anything to know that Genesis was holding a hypodermic in her wicked little hand, however. She seemed to take considerable delight in watching the Russian suffer, something he had been doing with gusto. Whatever she'd dosed him with had been highly effective in giving him a roaring headache, and the beating from Mr. Bellows had hurt like hell.

Sleeping would have been a welcome change, he might dream of a lover who would banish this nightmare.

"That's right, Mr. Kuryakin, look at the floor if you must. I suppose this means you don't want to take me into your confidence just yet…'

Genesis paused, regretting having to mar the features of such a handsome man. Still, someone had to do it; or rather someone had better do it, according to her superiors.

"… What exactly do you see down there? Or is that something you also hold too dear to share with me?"

Illya was staring at a piece of dirt that must have been tracked in on the big feet of that brute, Bellows.

"I was looking at your floor; it needs sweeping."

Genesis crinkled her brow, not quite understanding the context of that statement. THRUSH had upended her life. Somewhere along the line she had given up on love or a regular life, and settled for the pursuit of power and … What?

"Do you think we learn from our mistakes, Mr. Kuryakin? I mean, the world just keeps on spinning while we parry back and forth over the pursuit of dominating it."

Illya felt a throbbing in his skull that was imitating a volcanic eruption. What was this woman going on about?

"I think we're all perverted in some way. You and THRUSH seem to consider it your duty to torment and subjugate people, as though any of you are qualified to run a laundromat, let alone control the human race."

Genesis smiled, warily but with a degree of amusement.

"And you? Here you are once again, Mr. Kuryakin, in our midst and sporting more bruises than a prizefighter. We are alike, you and I, whether or not you choose to admit it."

The blond wiggled a little more, wishing his hands would slip through the metal cuffs instead of biting into them even more. He felt the slippery presence of blood on his wrists, the sting of an open wound.

"Perhaps we are alike. We seem to be acting in the same play, never finding the final act and growing older but not any wiser. I for one could give this up and live a different life. But you, you and your kind are only interested in power and control. And money, am I right? You can't give it up, wouldn't give it up.'

Illya was serious as he said those words, but they were also a challenge that he hoped would bring him his freedom.

"Just the same, I suppose that is what does separate us. You live for this chaos, and I can walk away from it if I choose to. On a day like today, I would definitely choose to … walk away."

There. He saw something in her eyes that betrayed a yearning in this woman, a desire to be different; a desire for others to see her differently.

"Are you suggesting then, Illya, that I should let you go and…'

Genesis needed to be careful how she phrased this.

"… that you will not pursue me further if I set you free?"

That was it. Illya's heart was beating fast at the prospect of this dubious victory. He would be willing to let her go if she promised…

"If you are suggesting that you are willing to make a change, to give this up… then yes. Are you?"

Genesis looked around the lab she had been chained to for the past three years. For what purpose? She didn't believe in THRUSH, and had only been a part of this for the sake of someone else's crazy dreams. She wasn't important to him, had never been probably. What the Russian was offering her was a pardon, a new life. She wanted it, and she intended to have it.

"All right, let's get out of here. If Bellows happens to walk in on us, I'll handle him. He won't suspect anything if it comes from me."

Illya was willing, although he wondered if it was fair to offer her a life changing opportunity and then require an act of violence in order to start things off.

Genesis caught his attention with another hypo…

"It's only a sedative. I don't plan on killing anyone.'

She sighed, looking into Illya's good eye.

"I wouldn't have killed you, Illya. Honestly, I just don't know how to function anymore outside of … of this."

She flung her arm out to indicate the laboratory. Illya thought he understood, and that only added to his own melancholy.

"Just get me out of these…'

He felt the cuffs coming off even as he was speaking. Illya stood up slowly and turned towards Genesis. If she was truly willing to step away from THRUSH and start a new life, then perhaps what he had endured was worthwhile.

Genesis handed him his gun and communicator after retrieving them from a desk drawer. He was armed and feeling more prepared for the journey out of this satrapy when the door opened and Bellows appeared. He was also armed and upon seeing the UNCLE agent standing, obviously free of his shackles, Bellows took aim. Just as the gun went off, Genesis stepped in front of Illya, stopping the bullet intended for him.

Illya was momentarily stunned, but not as much as was Bellows. He stood a second too long, allowing Illya to take aim and shoot the THRUSH henchman.

As Bellows fell to the floor, Illya rushed to Genesis, hoping that the woman might be able to leave with him in spite of her injury. It was not to be, however, and she gasped her last words as the bloodied and bruised agent came to her side.

"It wasn't meant to be. My life here has doomed me, it seems."

With that she was gone, leaving the Russian alone in the muted, shadowy room in which he had endured the torture dictated by the newly deceased Genesis.

Illya fought back a torrent of emotions, the trauma inflicted on his own body now a hindrance to the self-control he needed. Without warning he shed tears over the body of the woman who had saved him. All she had wanted was a fresh start, but it was an impossible dream.

There was nothing left to do but take his leave, and so Illya Kuryakin stole out of the empty building in darkness and stealth, a survivor once again.

Once back in New York at UNCLE Headquarters the usual routine dictated most of Illya's activities. He would report in, write the report and then head for home, the one place where no demands were made on him.

His thoughts wandered back to Genesis, to her aborted attempt to free herself of the Hierarchy. Perhaps it wouldn't have worked; THRUSH might have tracked her down and killed her anyway. At least this way she had been thinking of a new life, a different path.

No. Who was he kidding. He had lured her into the idea of change and then it had killed her. She had saved his life. Why?

To owe a debt such as that to someone who has died in your place… the weight of that began to sink in as Illya tossed back vodka. It took several hours, but eventually sleep overtook the Russian and he collapsed into his bed, hoping to sleep and not dream.

He was playing his guitar, and singing to someone. He couldn't see the face but he knew it was a woman. They weren't lovers, not even friends. The emotion in this was detached and yet…

Illya woke up gasping for air. It had been very real, the music and the woman; Genesis. She had come to him in his dream and she was … What was the right word? She was content. How was that even possible, and how had it come to him? She had died a violent death, in his place. Perhaps that had somehow given meaning to her death, that someone else lived now as a result of it. What did that now mean for him? What kind of responsibility did it entail?

There were so many questions, so many unknowns. Illya Kuryakin sat awake for hours trying to find the answers, but as dawn broke through his window he realized there weren't any answers. What had happened was now a past event, and he had no obligations because of it save the ones he always observed.

Live. Live and do the right thing, whatever that is.

Genesis wanted a new beginning. Perhaps, in some strange way, that is exactly what she received.