The medics crowded round Illya, crowding Napoleon out. He stood uselessly by as they checked him over, their ministering attentions something the Russian would have had little patience with conscious. His complete surrender to them now speaking eloquent volumes about the damage THRUSH had done.
Satisfied, they loaded Illya onto a stretcher and carried him out of the cave. Napoleon followed, keeping as close to Illya as the terrain allowed. They manhandled the stretcher through the woods and out into the open. Napoleon wasn't surprised to see the private light aircraft waiting on the road, or the agents deployed in protecting it. Some of the medical team and Napoleon himself boarded the aircraft before the stretcher was passed from those on the ground to those in the 'plane with choreographed precision.
Once on board, the medics secured the stretcher as the 'plane started to taxi along the road, gathering speed until it was airborne. Those it left behind dispersing until nothing was left to indicate that the pastoral tranquillity had ever been disturbed.
Napoleon found the nearest seat he could get to Illya and claimed it for himself. The medics now turning their attentions to him as he sat vigil over the Russian. They eventually satisfied themselves that, apart from the split lip and a few minor abrasions, his injuries consisted chiefly of muscle strain and bruising.
They also suggested that the worried agent should get some rest. Napoleon raised all kinds of objections to this and continued to raise them right up to the point when the sedative kicked in.
He awoke in medical. Everything hurt. He was convinced that even his hair hurt. His eyes certainly did and he raised an arm to shield them from the uncompromising lighting so favoured by this branch of the agency. The action alerted a young nurse who came to his bedside. He didn't think he'd seen this one before. He tried a smile. She blushed slightly. He noted this for later investigation.
''Illya?'' he said. The nurse looked over to the next bed, shielded by screens. ''I want to see him'' said Napoleon pressing abused and complaining muscles into getting him out of bed.
''You shouldn't be up yet, you need rest'' protested the young nurse as Napoleon made his way, stiff limbed, towards Illya. Napoleon was not an easy mountain to move, so she abandoned the attempt and left to get reinforcements.
Napoleon pushed the screens aside. Illya was laying pale against the sheets. ''You awake?'' he asked.
Weary blue eyes opened ''No'' said Illya.
''Can only mean you're dreaming about me'' said Napoleon.
Even half dead the Russian managed to sound irritated ''What do you want Napoleon?'' he asked.
''What happened?'' asked Napoleon.
''Some new truth serum'' said Illya, obviously struggling now with retaining his conscious state.
''Well it certainly got you talking'' said Napoleon.
''And now I would like to sleep'' said Illya, his eyes drifting shut.
Napoleon smiled down on the exhausted and mistreated Russian ''Sleep then'' he said gently.
''Mr Solo, you should be in bed'' said a voice behind him. Napoleon turned to face the doctor. She was new to him too. He tried a smile from the same stable as the one he had tried on the nurse. This one didn't seem to be as effective. Napoleon also noted this, sometimes a challenge was more entertaining and he suspected there would be lots of recuperative leave in his immediate future.
''Always happy to oblige a lady'' he said, and the gleam in his eye had an eminently satisfying effect on the lady's level of comfort. He crawled back into the bed, his muscles were almost weeping with relief.
''How is Illya?'' he asked, as he sank back on the pillows.
''Mr Kuryakin has been exposed to some kind of scopolamine derived substance'' she said, unconsciously tucking Napoleon into bed.
''What's that going to do to him?'' asked Napoleon. It was better to ask the medics, getting it out of Illya would be an uphill struggle.
''He would have originally been disorientated, unable to form coherent thoughts or memories. It's unlikely that he remembers much from the time of the exposure until we were able to treat him'' she said ''I doubt he'll ever be able to tell you what happened to him, what he knows is what we have told him.''
Napoleon's interest was piqued by her quaint use of the word 'exposure'. He had some idea of the methods used by THRUSH when they needed an unwilling guinea pig for their experimentation. 'Exposure' was not the word he would have picked for the mind games they must have played with the Russian. Sometimes it was better when they just wanted to torture and kill you, but it did explain why Napoleon had found him in one piece. You didn't risk killing the lab rats until the experiment was over.
It didn't however explain why they hadn't killed him. ''Doctor, can you test for that stuff?'' he asked.
''Possibly'' she said ''it would depend on how long ago the subject was exposed to it.''
''Test me'' he said grimly.
She looked at him quizzically for a second, then realised he meant it. ''Nurse'' she called ''get me a needle, I want to take some blood.''
The nurse returned with a hypodermic and the doctor drew off some of Napoleon's blood. Then she left with her prize, headed for the labs.
Napoleon sat looking at Illya in the next bed. ''What did they do to us my friend?'' he asked the unconscious Russian.
If Illya had an answer it was known only to himself. Napoleon settled back in his own bed, more drained than he would have admitted, closing his eyes and allowing himself to drift into sleep.
When he awoke his first thought was for Illya. He struggled to sit up and turned towards the Russian's bed. The Russian wasn't in it. Napoleon felt a sudden sense of panic until he realised that the bed was still made, and somewhat rumpled. Wherever the Russian was, he couldn't have been gone long and was probably coming back. The panic subsided.
''Awake then?'' asked a voice from the doorway.
Napoleon turned his attention away from the bed ''Why can't you stay where I leave you?'' enquired Napoleon, this was the second time the Russian had pulled this stunt and it was wearing thin.
Illya was in a wheelchair being pushed by the young nurse. She seemed very pleased with the arrangement. She pushed Illya to the bed and then helped him transfer into it. She seemed more than happy with this aspect of her duties too. Napoleon watched the performance patiently knowing that it was probably entirely wasted on the Russian, whereas he would be very receptive to a spot of general nursing just now. The young nurse, alas, disappeared with the wheelchair. Napoleon's gaze followed her out of the room.
''Do you think Florence Nightingale ever looked like that?'' Napoleon said absently.
''Mmm what?'' said Illya. Then realising belatedly that Napoleon had been talking about the nurse ''I don't know, probably more of a crinoline.''
''I wasn't talking about her uniform'' said Napoleon. But the remark was coherently and reassuringly Russian.
Napoleon's disappointment was somewhat assuaged by the reappearance of the lady doctor. ''I've checked your blood Mr Solo'' she said.
''And?'' said Napoleon. It seemed evident that Illya was also taking a certain scientific interest in the answer to this question.
''You have certainly been exposed to something. Sometime after Mr Kuryakin I would think, possibly when you say the THRUSH heavies caught up with you, the timing would be about right. I can't say for sure, but my guess would be something derived from the same source as the substance to which Mr Kuryakin was exposed.''
''But Illya was a wreck'' said Napoleon, heedless of the Russian's finer feelings ''I was hardly affected.''
''From what I understand of the report, you carried your partner for the better part of ten miles, operating on very little sleep and even less food. When you were finally sedated, you slept solidly for over twenty-four hours, no one could wake you. Not for the transfer of planes, nor for the transfer to this facility. It may not have affected you as it did Mr Kuryakin, I doubt very much that it was intended to, but you were affected'' said the doctor primly, then she added ''I think THRUSH let you run just to see how far you would get.''
The sound of Illya leaning back on his bed took Napoleon's attention. The Russian looked a lot better, but he was obviously far from well. The doctor moved over to give the matter a more professional assessment. ''I'm alright'' said Illya weakly ''I'm just tired.'' Then turning to Napoleon ''You carried me?''
''You couldn't stand up'' said Napoleon ''and I couldn't leave you there. You know you still haven't said sorry for ruining my suit, which I think lacks a certain gratitude.''
''Did I say anything?'' said Illya ''Did I tell them...?'' his voice trailed off, but his eyes were not quite shut.
''As usual partner, you said a great deal and made very little sense. THRUSH is obviously not as willing to put up with that as I am'' said Napoleon, but his voice was tender and his eloquent brown eyes told the Russian what he needed to know.
''I do not talk too much'' said Illya sleepily ''but I have a partner who does'' and then, as those same soft brown eyes watched, the much misused Russian was lost to sleep.