Author: Athea (
Series: Man from Uncle
Date: 22 April 2000
The Ghosts in the Castle Affair
Part one

Illya woke to the memory of pain. He had the headache from hell but that was rather reassuring actually since the last faint remnants of agony had led him to believe that he wouldn't be waking up at all. The headache was a distinct improvement. Flaring his nostrils slightly, he tried to pick up the clues that would tell him where he was.

Alcohol ... Sterile air ... Blood ... Ah, back in the hospital it seemed.

The sheets were rough to the touch so it wasn't the clinic that UNCLE kept in its headquarters. Where had he been when the ... accident occurred? For the first time, he realized that he had no memory of what had happened. A sharp jagged shard of pure pain seemed to be separating him from the events of the last few ... days?

"Illya." He flinched and the voice dropped to the softest of whispers. "Sorry, I forgot the doctor said some of your senses would be a little hypersensitive."

"Napoleon." That's who the voice was, he thought with a gleam of satisfaction.

"I'm here, Illya. As soon as the drug is out of your system and the doctor is sure that your concussion is better, then we can go home."

A faint memory came back to him. "Switzerland. We're in Lucerne."

He could hear the smile in his partner's voice. "Good, you're getting your memory back. What's the last thing you remember?"

Illya thought back over the shards of broken glass that were his memories. "A mountain resort ... a fire that warmed me ... cold vodka ... someone standing over me." He shivered, suddenly cold. "Someone dark and frozen."

He felt Napoleon's hand over his, warming him with a barely there touch. "We were at the resort when someone drugged our drinks. Probably THRUSH but we don't know for sure. The drug must have reacted in my system differently than in yours because I don't remember a thing until I woke up a few hours later and broke us out of some kind of warehouse here in beautiful Zug."

"Zug?" Illya moved his head then cringed as pain exploded behind his eyes.

"Sh-h-h-h, it's all right, Illya. It's just the tail end of the concussion." Soothing warm fingers traced gentle circles at his temple and he felt some of the pain go away.

"Tired, Nap ..." He could hear the slur in his voice before he fell back to sleep.


When he awoke this time, he moved his head gently and found it not quite as painful as before. Napoleon's aftershave teased his nostrils so he knew he wasn't alone. "Napoleon?"

"Right here, Illya. The doctor should be by shortly and if he passes you, I'll be able to get you out of here." The voice was so soft that it couldn't possibly hurt him.

"Still in Zug?"

"Still in Zug, my friend. As soon as you can move, we'll go back to Lucerne but not back to the ski resort. I've made reservations at a little Bed and Breakfast I know. You'll be your old self in no time."

"I'm not myself?" Illya felt as if his brains were full of mush.

The warm chuckle made him feel safe and he felt his hand taken up in both of Napoleon's who heated it with a little gentle friction. "Oh, you're still Illya but not quite up to your normal repartee."

"Okay." Illya felt a drum beat start in his head and he wished it would just go away.

"Headache?" Napoleon's fingers rubbed a very small circle over his temple where the pulse fluttered beneath his skin.

"Hm-m-m." Illya relaxed again. He should be doing something if he could just remember what that something was.

"Nope, there's absolutely nothing you have to do but finish your nap and wait for the doctor to come by."

"Reading minds, now?" Illya felt sleep creeping up again.

The chuckle made him smile and he felt Napoleon's hand brush the hair off his forehead. "Your face at the moment is rather ... expressive. Sorry to disappoint you, Illya."

Yawning, Illya began the long slide towards sleep. "You never disappoint me, Pasha."

This time the fingers were cold and smelled of alcohol as they turned his head to the right then to the left. Frowning, he tried to open his eyes but it appeared that someone had glued them shut while he was sleeping.

"This is Doctor Brunel, Illya. He's the nice man who's going to release you soon." Napoleon's voice came from his other side and Illya stopped trying to open his eyes.

If Napoleon were still here than everything was all right, he thought with a muzzy thought then said it out loud so Napoleon would know too. His partner chuckled and that warm hand was back on his so he decided to hold on to it. That way, Napoleon couldn't go away and chase the nurses. He thought that was funny so he told his partner that too.

"Well, Herr Kuryakin, your concussion is slight and the drug continues to cloud your system but with much fluid intake I think you will flush it completely from your system in forty-eight hours or so. So, I shall release you into your partner's hands and tell him to take good care of you." The accented English was a little hard to follow but Illya tried. "We're a little short staffed, Herr Solo, so if you could see to helping your friend to dress, I will go out and finish the paperwork. Jah?"

"Thank you, Dr. Brunel. I'd be happy to help out." Napoleon took his hand away and Illya heard them shake hands over his body.

His body. He'd forgotten there was more than just his head and his hands but now when he tried to move, he found a number of places that hurt. Cataloging the various aches and pains he dismissed them as minor. He was probably black and blue but then he was used to that. For some reason, he always seemed to get hit more often than Napoleon.

Brooding on that thought, he was surprised by a warm, wet washcloth that bathed his eyes gently. "Napoleon? What are you doing?"

"I saw how you tried to open your eyes earlier and thought this might help unglue them."

Suddenly, Illya felt better. "You take good care of me, Pasha. I think it may be working. They don't feel so stiff any more."

"Okay, try them now." Napoleon moved the cloth away and Illya scrunched up his face and tried really hard to open his eyes.

With a pop, they flew open and he saw Napoleon through blurry eyes. "Um, you look tired ... and worried. Why?"

The handsome face relaxed a little and that smile was back, the one that Illya secretly liked to see. It was the smile that belonged just to him alone. "Well, I have to admit that you had me a little worried when you wouldn't wake up."

"But I'm awake now and you're supposed to get me dressed so we can leave this cold place." Illya shivered a little. "I don't think they heat this room at all."

That little worry line was back between the chocolate brown eyes. "I expect you just haven't been moving much, Illya. It will be better when you get up and walk around."

"If you say so, Pasha." Illya was only too happy to agree in the hopes of making that little line disappear. "This ... this thing I'm wearing is icky."

Napoleon's chuckle was rich and full. "Illya, I sincerely hope you don't remember this conversation when that damn drug wears off. Or I'm going to be in big trouble."

Illya tried to sit up but when the room did a 360 degree turn on him, he closed his eyes tight and held on to Napoleon's hand. "Make it stop, Pasha."

Warm arms slid around him, propping him upright against his partner's solid shoulder. He was wearing the brown silk suit that made his eyes look even browner. It smelled like Napoleon too and he took a deep breath in while he waited for his stomach to settle down.

"Better?" Those warm hands were rubbing circles into the skin on his back where the gown gaped open.

"Un-uh. Don't let's do that again." Illya said plaintively.

"I promise, Illya. Now do you think you can sit up by yourself while I get your clothes?"

"Of course." Illya was rather indignant at the suggestion that he didn't know how to sit up. But he did miss the strong arms when they drew slowly away. Cautiously, he opened his eyes and watched his partner open a small suitcase. Pulling out a blue sweater, Napoleon laid it on the bed along with a pair of navy blue dress pants and the rest of his clothes.

"Oh good, you brought my favorite sweater." Illya smiled happily at Napoleon and pulled off the loose hospital gown to puddle at his waist.

"You never told me that, Illya. Why is it your favorite?" He helped Illya move his arms into the sleeves, then steadied him again when he got caught in the turtleneck.

His head finally popped through and he grinned at his partner. "Because you gave it to me."

Napoleon stopped helping and looked stunned. "That was three years ago."

"I know. Um, Napoleon, could I finish dressing? It's cold."

His partner shook his head as if to clear it. "Sure. Swing your legs over the side of the bed and I'll get your socks on." He pushed the covers away and slid his hands over Illya's knees to draw them to him.

Illya clutched at the broad shoulders before him and hung on while the room swirled again. "No, Pasha."

"Sorry. I'll go slower. Damn, your feet are cold as ice." Napoleon sounded angry and that frightened him a little.

"I'm sorry, Napoleon." He whispered, hoping that his partner wouldn't be mad.

Startled brown eyes met his downcast gaze from where he knelt by Illya's dangling feet. "It's not your fault, Illya. You're right, this place is too cold. These socks should help."

Now that he knew that his partner wasn't mad at him, Illya could smile again. "Yes, Pasha. They feel a little warmer all ready."

"Okay, now let me slide these boxers up so we can get your pants on. Then we can sign some forms and get out of here. Can you lift your hips a bit?"

"Nope. The room moves funny when I do that."

"O-o-okay." Napoleon shook his head and pulled the pants as far up the legs as he could. "Now, I need you to slide off the bed so I can finish getting you dressed."

Illya promptly slid off the bed into Napoleon's arms. With his nose buried in his partner's chest, he took another deep breath. "Did I ever tell you that you smell good?"

The muscles beneath his cheek rippled and a rich chuckle sounded by his ear. "I really need to find out what this drug is because the side effects are extremely interesting. Ah, Illya, I need you to back up just a bit so I can get your pants zipped up."

"Okay. Did you know that if a man's penis gets really, really cold you can revive it by dunking it in 100 proof vodka?" Illya told him trustfully.

The snort of laughter almost unbalanced him but that was all right because he'd tickled Napoleon's funny bone and he didn't get to do that very often. It felt odd to have someone else touch him down there but because it was Napoleon it was okay. The strong hands zipped him up and buttoned the two buttons at the waistband then moved up to his shoulders to steady him.

"No, Illya, I didn't know that. Thank you for telling me. Who knows when I may need to know how to revive myself." The eyes crinkled a little at the corners and made Illya feel even better.

"Yes, it might come in handy when you seduce a snow bunny." Illya nodded but that made his head hurt so he stopped and leaned it against a handy shoulder. "It hurts, Pasha. Make it go away."

"Five minutes and I'll have you in the car, lying down all wrapped up in blankets and you can sleep again. Okay?"

"Yes, thank you. Do you think the floor will move up and down like the bed did?" He whispered to his partner, afraid the tiles might hear him.

"I think the wheelchair the nice nurse just brought in will solve that problem, my friend." And before he could get too dizzy, Napoleon had him seated in the cold metal chair on wheels.

The shivers were worse now and he tried to hide them from his partner. But the warm blanket that settled around his shoulders told him that he hadn't hidden them quick enough. It didn't matter though because Napoleon patted his shoulder and led the way from the cold little room. When the nurse turned him around, he closed his eyes and held on to the plastic arms with all his strength.

The nausea came and went so he tried to sit very still to make it stay away. Illya could hear Napoleon's voice being charming to one and all. Even with his eyes shut, he could picture the slow smile and the practiced gestures that seduced all the women and half the men they met. That thought made him sad because Napoleon would never, ever want to seduce his partner no matter how much he might want him to.

But he remembered in the nick of time that he shouldn't tell Napoleon that because it was a secret from everybody.

"Here we go, Illya. You're all signed out and ready to go." The voice sounded very concerned for some reason and a warm hand touched his cheek. "What's wrong?"

"It's still cold." Illya didn't have to lie. His very bones felt like ice.

"I'll turn the heater up high when we get in the car." The fingers seemed to linger but then the chair was moving and Illya had all he could do to hang on.

Opening his eyes just a bit, he concentrated his gaze on his right knee. So long as he didn't blink or move his head, his stomach seemed willing to stay in place. Napoleon was talking but Illya decided that he was probably flirting with the nurse so he just listened to the cadences of his partner's voice. He was the only person that Illya knew who could make a sentence sound like laughter.

Or sunshine.

Illya thought wistfully that the only reason he hadn't frozen solid over the years working for UNCLE was his partner. He knew that he was known as the Ice Prince among the other agents and that Napoleon was often pitied for having to work with him. That was his other secret of course. Illya knew he was really an emotional ice cube who only warmed at all when Napoleon was near by.

Thawing was painful because when the ice came back, it seemed to hurt twice as much. He was thinking so hard that he barely noticed when Napoleon opened the car door and half lifted him into the passenger seat. The blanket was tucked around him so no stray drafts might get through. The back was even gently ratcheted back so he could lay down, Napoleon's hand holding his head so he didn't get bumped.

The caring gesture brought tears to Illya's eyes and he squeezed them tight so Napoleon wouldn't see. It must have worked because the car door was gently closed and his voice was muffled while he said goodbye to the nurse. Illya sniffed and tried not to mind that his partner was probably making a date with her. From the single glimpse he'd had of her, she was a pretty blond with wide blue eyes.

Just Napoleon's type.

And Illya tucked his head a little way under the blanket and let the tears slip out while he fell asleep.

End of part one