Written for today’s short affair prompt at Section VII.
Summary: Sometimes, even a hero needs just one reason to keep on fighting.
Cross-posted to AO3.
Napoleon slumped against the wall of the old store room he had been imprisoned in. THRUSH had somehow taken over an offshore warehouse and turned it into their own private Alcatraz for U.N.C.L.E. agents—and Napoleon had been selected as their first prisoner, having recently stopped yet another mad scheme—something that THRUSH certainly hadn’t appreciated.
Napoleon had been bruised, beaten, and questioned endlessly since he had gotten here—and he had long since lost track of how many days he had been here. He’d been holding out thus far, clinging to his usual hopes and determination and struggling valiantly against his captors, but as time dragged on, the fight in him began to wane. He was only human, after all; he could only take so much. Could he be blamed for just wanting to slump against the wall in defeat? Surely not…
The voice in the back of his mind chided him almost immediately.
You can’t admit defeat. Too much is riding on this. Too many people depend on you and the work you do.
Napoleon slowly raised his head, though he kept his eyes shut. Even this simple action sent waves of pain through him—draining his strength further.
“I’ve done all I can for them…” he murmured, to no one in particular, but to the voice in his head. “I’ve got nothing left to give anyone.”
You have to keep fighting.
You have to. For Ma. For Dad. For Aunt Amy. For Illya. And even for Baba Yaga, too.
It spurred Napoleon to try, at any rate; he struggled to pull himself up, but his legs gave out from under him, and he fell back down, once again slumped against the wall, trying to catch his breath.
“I can’t…” he murmured again.
He couldn’t even help himself now, let alone the world or even his near and dear ones. He’d just have to hope that his fellow agents would find him—get him out of here before it was too late for him, too… He would never talk, which meant that he would soon be useless as far as THRUSH was concerned; he’d already been threatened with many painful deaths during his time here.
He was vaguely aware of the sounds of fighting and scuffling in the room next door; leaning against the wall, he could hear everything going on in there. Clearly, THRUSH had just captured someone else—either from another law enforcement agency, but, more than likely, a fellow U.N.C.L.E. agent—one who had, no doubt, been trying to find him.
There were the sounds of a beating—the same kind of beating that had been administered to Napoleon since his being here. Napoleon hadn’t really been paying attention at first, but as the struggle continued in the next room, he realized, in dawning horror, that he recognized the stifled moans of the victim, and his brown eyes snapped open in sheer worry.
“…Illya…?” he whispered.
He wasn’t horrified because the rescuer he had hoped would free him was now captured; he was horrified because someone he cared about very deeply was in pain.
The voice in his head had been right; he had to fight, or else those he cared about--not to mention the countless innocents—would be suffering.
The adrenaline coursed through him now; finding his second wind, he got up and charged at the door of the store room he was in. He barreled into it once… twice… and then the third time, it opened.
The two THRUSHies in the next room all came into the hallway, and Napoleon had been waiting for them; a few moves of judo left them unconscious on the ground, and Napoleon now entered the second room, pausing as he saw his partner, also battered and beaten and sporting some unpleasant, fresh bruises. Illya was trying to get up from the floor and only making it to his knees, shaking from the effort that it required.
“Illya…!” Napoleon said again.
The Russian looked up, letting out a quiet gasp as he saw Napoleon’s condition; he clearly looked just as bad as Illya did.
“Oh, Napoleon… What have they done to you?”
“Nothing I can’t recover from, and I hope you’re feeling the same way,” Napoleon said, helping his partner to his feet. “Come on; we’re getting out of here.”
They divested the unconscious THRUSHies of their uniforms and weapons, and then helped each other to the nearest exit.
Illya indicated the boats that THRUSH had used to bring him here, and the duo quickly headed out into the ocean using one.
Illya’s adrenaline wore off first; he had passed out while in midsentence as he had tried to explain how he had been captured and brought to THRUSHcatraz. Napoleon had caught him in his arms as he had fallen, gently holding him.
Napoleon could feel his own adrenaline draining—the pressure and pain from his own wounds returning to him and threatening to take over.
He shook the sleepiness off, knowing that not only did they have to steer the boat back, but also had to be wary of THRUSH following them. Illya was in no better shape than he was, and Napoleon wasn’t about to let either of them get sent back to THRUSHcatraz.
“Sleep, Tovarisch,” he said, quietly, to his sleeping partner, gently pushing some wayward strands of blond hair behind Illya’s ear. “We’ll both be alright. I’ll see to that. I promise.”
Yes, he was tired, too, but he had more important things to worry about. He would have his chance to sleep once they made it back and he was in Medical.
Until then, however, he would continue to give his partner the watchful, caring eyes he needed.
He did have things left to give, after all; all it had taken was the right person to help him find them.