Are You Soulmates

by Charlie Kirby

It just wasn't fair. They had gotten so close to escaping, only to get caught at the last moment. Illya Kuryakin stared out of their cell window to the sea beyond. Even if he could get the bars loose, there was still the hundred foot drop to a jagged sea coast to consider. Whatever path their escape would take, it wouldn't be that way.

He sighed and hitched up the loose cotton pants that had replaced his slacks. Their captors had stripped them and replaced everything with clothes of their own choosing, obviously believing that even the clothes of an UNCLE agent weren't to be trusted. At last they'd left him his reading glasses and medallion.

Of course, that had been their mistake. There was a tracking device in the small St. Christopher medallion and Illya had triggered it just before their capture. With any luck, UNCLE had received the signal and was already rallying its forces... providing Mr. Waverly deemed them worth saving this time.

Napoleon's grunt of pain pulled his attention and he turned. His partner was struggling to sit up on their tiny cot. Illya moved to him and settled beside him, helping him achieve verticality.

"Did you get the number of the truck that hit me?" Napoleon leaned against him, always eager to take advantage of any situation.

"Sadly, it was the same one that hit me." Illya pulled the hem of Napoleon's shirt up to look for any swelling; bruising was a given. "I don't think anything is broken."

"Well, it's the thought that counts. Did they leave you with anything?"

Illya flashed back to the agony of having a rubber block shoved roughly between his teeth and thick fingers digging out the mini arsenal that he routinely carried in his mouth. Of course, it was nothing compared to having those same fingers shoved up his ass a few minutes later, looking for what he supposed was a suppository safe. He wasn't carrying one, this time, but that was of little comfort, then or now.

"Alas, no." Illya gently pulled the hem back into place and sighed. "I suspect that also applies to you."

"It certainly feels that way." Napoleon shifted uncomfortably, telling Illya that his partner had suffered a similar fate. "So we wait?"

"I don't see that we have very much in the way of an alternative. There is a sheer drop to the rocks out that window and my attempts to attract the guards have fallen upon deaf ears. Either they are very well trained or..."

"They have the utmost confidence in their cells." Napoleon grunted again. "What have they stuffed this mattress with? Straw is usually more comfortable."

Illya leaned slowly over and forced his fingers through a small hole in the mattress. The fabric tore under his rough handling and he managed to grab something and pull it out. It proved to be a sheet of paper. He smoothed it out and handed it to his partner. "For your reading pleasure."

"'Are you soul mates?' What the...? They stuffed our mattress with paper? Obviously superior standards." Napoleon eased himself back down.

"Can I help with anything?" Illya watched him carefully.

"No, just sore, that's all. These guys know their business." He settled back uncomfortably and Illya stood to prowl around their cell again.

Illya could feel Napoleon watching him, obviously content to let his partner do the legwork for the moment.

Napoleon held up the sheet of paper and squinted slightly. The slanting sun made it easy enough to read. "Let's see, 'whether it is a love relationship or a platonic friendship. Some connections feel deeper than others, like they have been there forever.' So, tell me, Mr. Kuryakin, when we first met, did it feel like we already knew each other?"


"Humor me." Napoleon held up the sheet. "It takes my mind off my gut. So, did you feel like we already knew each other when we met?"

Illya sighed. When Napoleon got into one of these moods, there was very little he could do to avoid it. The fact that there was no actual means of escape made it even worse.

"Yes, I suppose I did feel like I knew you. I'd studied your file and read your reports, your extremely creative but horrendously written reports, I might add."

"I'm not sure that's what they meant, but I'll accept it just for the sheer fact that you even deem it worthy of answering."

"'Did you become very close very quickly without a crisis situation to bond you?'" Napoleon smiled. "Has there ever been a situation that doesn't qualify as a crisis situation for us?"

Illya chuckled, and then held a hand to his bruised ribs... "I can't answer that with anything other than an 'I don't think so.'"

"We'll put that down as a yes just on general principle." Napoleon watched Illya massage his side. "This one is a no brainer then. 'When you talk about your past, do your conversations become deep and philosophical?'"

"Since neither of us is inclined to speak of the past..."

"My thoughts exactly. 'Do you often forget how you met or became close?'"

"How do they come up with these questions?" Illya returned to the window and stared out at the sky as sea birds dipped low, free to ride the air currents. "I remember everything about our first meeting, from that awful tie you were wearing..."

Napoleon moved from one hip to the other. "I noticed you didn't complain when I used it to truss up that one THRUSH."

"Probably the only thing it was fit for."

"It wasn't that bad..."

"It was turquoise and it had naked women on it."

"True... but you were wearing that awful brown jacket."

"I liked that jacket."

"You were the only one. I..."

Illya held up a hand as a shadow crossed in front of their door. As quickly as he could, he moved to the wall, flattening his frame against it. A slot near the floor of the door slid open and a tray with two packages was slid in.

Before Illya could move, the slot had closed. He placed an ear against the door, straining to hear anything. Only silence met his efforts.

"This is the strangest capture ever..." He picked up the tray and carried it to the bed, lifting one of the packets to read first it and then the other. "Hmm, 'C' rations - you have your choice of meat and beans or meat and vegetable stew and of eating it cold or eating it cold."

"Lovely, let me recommend this place to all my friends. The stew, if you don't mind."

Illya held a packet out to him and settled down on the foot of the bed to open the remaining one. He let the contents fall to the mattress and immediately spotted the matches. "Hmm, now there's something I might be able to use." He picked up the book and squinted. "Napoleon, did you know that mosquito bites cause malaria?"

"The things you can learn from reading a match book." Napoleon worked the key to open the can. He sniffed the contents, wrinkled his nose and dipped the spoon in for a taste. "And to think a week ago, I was dining on steak and caviar...a Chateau Helen '45." He attempted a taste and pushed the can away with a grimace. "I'll stick with the crackers."

"I'm delighted to be dining at all." Illya pocketed the chocolate for later and opened the can of cheese and ham spread. He offered it to Napoleon, but he was content with his peanut butter.

Illya had learned early on in life to eat whatever and whenever the opportunity presented itself. He polished off his portion and the rest of Napoleon's before lighting a cigarette.

"Since when do you smoke?"

"I was in the military, everyone smoked. I just don't do it now as a rule." He took a deep puff and held it. "Waverly doesn't approve. Says it's a nasty habit and all the while he's sucking on his pipe." He offered the cigarette to Napoleon, who took a long drag and handed it back. "But it does kill the taste of whatever that was that we just ate."

"Agreed. " Napoleon's attention was caught again by the sheet of paper. "Hmm, 'did you become close when one or both of you were going through a difficult time in your respective lives?'"

"Let's see, within twelve hours of our meeting each other, I was shot, you were stabbed, we were both drugged and left for dead. I'd say that classifies as a difficult time. If we hadn't cooperated, we both would have bled to death."

"I'd forgotten about that. Do you remember...?"

"That redhead?" Illya's lips curled and he took one last drag on the cigarette before passing it over. "Mmm, how could I forget? Creamy white skin that..."

"Tasted like honey? It's a powder you can buy. She was very..." Napoleon's hand made a gesture.

"Yes, she was." Illya, eyes closed, smiled at the memory and then cracked one open at Napoleon's chuckle. "What?"

"The next question, 'do you finish each other's sentences?'"

"Never. What's next?"

"The next two are a waste of time... at least for us."


"'Do you communicate with each other without words' and 'do you both react to the same situation the same way?'"

"Unless said situation is a woman..."

"I noticed that... and the next one is pointless, 'does one or the other know when the other is hurt or upset?'"

"Never, and you should try to urinate make sure your kidneys are still functioning. Do you need help?"

"Just with the getting up, I think." Illya helped Napoleon to his feet and turned his back to give his partner as much privacy as their tiny cell permitted. He lifted the paper and scanned the next question. 'Do you report having the same dreams?'

"Napoleon, are nightmares the same as dreams?"

"Mine are." Napoleon's voice was strained.

'Do you have a seemingly irrational fear of losing the person?' ' Do people comment at how close you are?'

"Every day..." Illya murmured as Napoleon eased himself back down onto the bed. "Everything okay?"

"No signs of blood, so that's a good thing, but I don't think I'll be doing any entertaining for awhile, partner mine."

"Can I do anything for you?"

"Yes, get us out of this hell hole."

"Been working on it, but I fear it will mean the further de-feathering of your sumptuously plump cushion."


"We have matches; we could start a fire."

"To what point? The walls, floor and ceiling are stone. There's only the one window."

"Signal fire?"

"Sig... you?" Illya nodded slightly, in case they were being taped.

"Until then..." He handed Napoleon back the sheet of paper. "I took the liberty of answering the next three with a resounding yes."

Napoleon scanned them and smiled as Illya pulled more bits of paper from the bedding. "Me too."

Illya tested the draft from beneath the door and piled the paper close to the window. It was still too soon to light the fire. Even if UNCLE responded immediately, it would take them a few hours to arrive. He rejoined his partner on the bed and settled back as much as he could.

Napoleon rested back against him, not just for the moment of a shared sense of security, but because the narrow cot demanded they be conservative with their personal space. Illya's arm curled over his waist, familiar and reassuring as Napoleon rested his head on his own arm.

"Well, this is cozy, isn't it?"

Illya woke up to chaos. He hadn't meant to fall asleep at all, but his own injuries were taking their toll. Smoke filled the cell and there was the sound of explosions and distant gunfire. He tried to sit up, but nothing wanted to work for him. Someone approached him from out of the smoke and he lashed out with his best upper cut. The blow merely grazed by his opponent's face and Illya gasped at the sharp pain that lanced up his back.

He could hear someone shouting, but the words wouldn't reach him. He tried to find his partner, but the cell was dark, except for the stench of gunpowder. Napoleon had been right beside him, where was he now? Irrational fear be damned; this was far too real.

There was a nearby explosion and something heavy caught him, slammed him back against the stone wall, ripping his breath from him, and with it the last tenuous hold he had on consciousness. Hell of a way to die, he thought as his world went very dark and very quiet.

He was conscious of the smell first, a biting antiseptic stink battling with an all-too familiar scent of pine. Then came sound, a slow steady beeping and, after a brief struggle, Illya got first one eye and then the other open. The room was cool and dim; he was no longer in a cell, but in a hospital room. His tattered, blood-spotted tee shirt and loose grey pants had been swapped for a hospital gown, with the convenient slit up the back.

He shifted slightly in bed, taking quiet stock of his injuries as best he could. One of his arms was wrapped tightly with an elastic bandage and it felt as if someone had broken a two x four across his kidneys.

Turning his head, he saw Napoleon, wearing a matching hospital gown, was still unconscious in his bed. He looked fine, except for some minimal bruising around his mouth. But it was his partner who was hooked up to the various machines, not Illya. Obviously Napoleon's injuries were more internal and of concern.

For a long moment, Illya just lay there, thinking quietly. UNCLE must have arrived and saved the day, almost taking them out with the bad guys. He thought about how close they had come, about how they managed to still find comfort from each other in the most dire of situations and he thought about that stupid test.

The last questions seemed inane compared to the first ones: 'Do you share unusual traits?' Aside from chasing bad guys around and saving the world? None at all. ' Is there something in your friend's eyes that seemed familiar from the moment you met?' It seemed to him that he'd known Napoleon's watchful gaze his whole life. ' Were you both drawn to one another from the first?' Like a bear to honey. 'Does your friend have a nickname that was yours alone from the beginning?' Yes to them all.

'Congratulations,' the test announced. 'Soul mates or not, your connection is uncanny. It is too hard to tell whether or not this relationship is part of destiny's grand design, but it is undeniably special. Count your lucky stars that you have such a great connection with another human being.'

Illya heard Napoleon groan softly and he forced himself into an upright position and slowly climbed out of the bed, checking first to make sure he wasn't connected to anything. You only pull a catheter out that way once to never want a repeat performance.

He limped to Napoleon's bedside and rested a hand on Napoleon's shoulder. "Rest easy, old friend, we're safe."

"THRUSH?" Napoleon's eyes didn't open and his cracked lips barely moved. Illya picked up a chunk of ice and ran it over them. A second later, Napoleon's tongue appeared and licked them. Illya continued until the chunk was gone.

"Dealt with for the moment." The temptation to crawl into bed beside him was strong, but Illya knew Napoleon would be more comfortable without him. Instead he eased himself down into a chair, his hand still resting upon Napoleon's arm. Keeping watch, protecting what was his, call it what you will, all Illya knew was that no one was taking Napoleon from him, not now, not ever. After all, he conceded with the smallest of smiles, they were soul mates.

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