The Crab Apple Cove Affair

by Charlie Kirby

The light from the full moon shone brilliantly off the snow-covered peaks of the mountains and of the sleek silver car that streaked along the road. Somehow, in spite of the ice and snow ridging the pavement, the tires kept a solid grip upon the asphalt as it barreled along.

Inside Illya Kuryakin glanced nervously at the speedometer, then up at the speed limit sign. Despite the tension and fear curling in his gut, his mind began to play with the numbers dividing his actual speed into that of the limit and figuring the percentage out, then multiplying it to discover the fine he would receive if pulled over. Not that anything could really stop him, not now.

A stop sign loomed ahead and Illya shifted down the motor of the UNCLE car, slowing the vehicle enough to ascertain his solitary presence and then he slammed the gas pedal down. At one side of the intersection stood a standard road sign that announced towns and distances.

"Crab Apple Cove, 4 miles. Doesn't sound promising, but let's just hope that they have a half-competent doctor," Illya said, sparing a moment to glance from the road to his passenger. Worry crossed his brow at the pale, groaning man that slumped in the passenger's seat. The blood streaking his suit jacket made it dark and glistening in the moonlight, as if the man was bathed in ink. "Hold on, old friend. Help will be forthcoming."

Somehow, he kept the car on the road, although it was getting increasingly difficult. The pain from his own injuries was taking the edge off the adrenaline and it was harder to keep his attention properly focused. He slowed as he approached the town, the four miles having lasted an eternity. Beside him, Napoleon Solo moaned, muttering nonsense, his breath shallow and harsh. Illya knew the signs of shock all too well and also the possible consequences if help wasn't obtained quickly enough.

He reached for a wrist, cringing at the coldness of the skin, to search for a pulse. There it was, faint and racing, but there nevertheless. Illya smiled and returned to scanning the houses as the car sped past them. Abruptly, his foot sought the brakes as he spotted a sign. He ignored the name as that wasn't important. What was important was the doctor attached to it.

Bringing the car to a semi-respectable parking position in front of the sidewalk leading to the house, Illya clamored out of the low vehicle, taking the stairs that led to the white-painted porch in bounds. All the time thoughts whirled through his head. This is New Year's Eve, what if the doctor was out celebrating? What if he was too drunk to operate? What if it was already too late to save Napoleon?

He pounded upon the door with an open hand, ignoring the shooting pains that traveled up the arm and straight to his groin. Greenstick fracture, probably when he stopped the baseball bat from hitting his face a second time, he thought. He knew his own injuries were plentiful and painful, but a man didn't die from the beating he'd taken. He could die from a tiny piece of lead inside him. Illya's mind went off again onto another line of thought, even as he continued to beat upon the door.

Abruptly, a porch light came on, making Illya blink painfully and then the door was yanked open. A man stood there, his salt-and-pepper hair mussed from sleep, his eyes not quite open.

"Okay, soldier, where's the fire?" he mumbled as he ran a hand over his face.

"My partner's been hurt," Illya managed to get out around the cotton that threatened to crowd words out his own head. He must have a slight concussion on top of everything else. "He needs your help."

"Traffic accident? Let me grab my bag." The man knotted a worn red robe closed and turned to reach for the black satchel that sat nearby.

"No, a bullet," Illya explained, following behind him. He realized that discretion was important, but he'd be damned if Napoleon would die for it.

"Bullet?" The man stopped, frowning at the slender blond that staggered along beside him. It was obvious to him that this man wasn't exactly the picture of health himself. Still he didn't seem to be in as dire need as his partner, if what he said was true.

They made it to the car in record time and Illya saw both surprise and awe register in the sharp features of the doctor's face. Nothing available upon the market came close to matching the UNCLE car in design or function. Illya brought the passenger's wing door up with a grunt and reached in for Napoleon. A powerful but gentle hand caught him, pulling him aside.

"Let me. You look like you're about to drop." Obediently, Illya stood back, allowing someone else to take charge for the moment. He used the time to refocus his thoughts and search for just a bit more energy.

"Okay, help me get him inside." Together, they half-carried, half-dragged the dark-haired agent into the house, the doctor flicking lights on as he went. He moved towards the examination room.

Illya helped heft Solo up onto the exam table and caught the edge of it as his vision suddenly darkened. It was only through sheer will that he stayed upon his feet. Blood roared in his ears, but he gradually became aware of a voice and hands guiding him to a seat in the waiting room.

"Why don't you wait out here while I examine your partner?"

Illya nodded and sank into the chair, letting the rest of the adrenaline wash from his body and slowly working out the events of the past few hours: the blundered ambush, the ensuing chase, Napoleon being caught in the cross fire. When he was sure the doctor had returned to the exam room, Illya reached into a pocket and withdrew his communicator.

"Open Channel D," wearily, he muttered in it.

"Mr. Kuryakin." The voice of Alexander Waverly, head of UNCLE North America answered him immediately. "You were to have rendezvoused with checkpoint B nearly three hours ago."

"We were ambushed sir. They came at us from all directions, six, possibly seven. There must have been a leak. Napoleon...Napoleon has been wounded, severely, I think."

"And yourself?"

"Likewise, although not as severely."

"Where are you?"

" I'm in a place called..." Illya's mind blanked and he frantically fought to remember the name of the town. He could see the sign, hear Napoleon's ragged breath, smell the sharp tang of his partner's blood, feel the stickiness of it on his hands, but he couldn't read the name on the sign. The letters danced and swirled, mocking him.

"Crab Apple Cove." The voice behind him was soft. "You're in Crab Apple Cove, Maine." Illya turned and saw the doctor standing there, his white tunic splattered with Napoleon's blood.

"Currently, I'm in Crab Apple Cove, sir."

"Were you followed?"

"I don't believe so, sir."

"Reinforcements are on their way, Mr. Kuryakin."

"Thank you, sir. Could you stand by for a moment? " Illya hastily closed the pen and tucked it into his jacket pocket.

"Kuryakin? What is that?"


"Your friend is Russian too?"

"Napoleon?" Illya laughed out loud at the thought. "No, about as American as you can get. Why?"

"You called him your partner." Eyes narrowed perceptively.

"That's right. We work together."

"That would explain the gun holster I found during my exam."

"How is he, Doctor?" Illya started to stand, intent upon returning to Napoleon's side, but the doctor stayed him, holding him still.

"No, I'll come down to your level." The man sat heavily, his dark brown eyes compassionate and kind. "Your friend is not in great shape. Thankfully. I had a lot of practice with bullet wounds during the war. I got the bullet out and managed to re-inflate the lung, but I don't have the blood he needs. I've radioed for a chopper that will take him to the closest hospital in Bangor. If we can keep him alive long enough for the chopper to arrive, he stands a pretty good chance of making it."

"He and I are the same blood type. Would a transfusion help?"

"Probably, but frankly, I don't think you could handle it. You look like you need all you can get your hands on yourself. " After a moment, the doctor reached out and touched the contusion upon Illya's cheek. "You stop a pile driver with that?"

"No, a baseball bat, I think." Illya winced at the pressure, gentle though it was.

"Looks like you got a broken Zygomatic bone ..."

"If that's the scientific term for a cheekbone, then, yes, I know," Illya finished. He lifted his left arm slightly. "And a greenstick fracture here."

"Word of advice, never out-doctor your doctor." He flashed a light into first one blue eye and then the other. "Concussion too. How the hell did you manage to even drive that car, much less find me?"

"You said you were in the war. Which one?" Illya murmured, gritting his teeth as the long fingers moved from his face to his arm.

"Oh, before your time I would think, Korea with a M*A*S*H unit outside of Seoul."

Illya permitted one corner of his mouth to tweak up. "I'm older than I look." He resisted the urge to push the examining hands away from him. "Are you sure he's all right to be left alone?"

"He's not going anywhere, I assure you. Now sit still for a moment." The long fingers probed muscles, tendons, bones, moving from limbs to torso. "You've got a broken rib here..." He broke off as his fingers brushed over the shoulder holster. "And you're carrying a gun as well. Why doesn't that surprise me? When are you people going to learn that you can't solve the world's problems by shooting at each other?'

Illya grunted in pain as the doctor's touch became less gentle. "When they stop shooting at me and my partner, Doctor." He pushed the man's hands away and sat up a little straighter. "In spite of whatever conclusion you have jumped to, I assure you, I am on the side of tolerance and peace."

"Which is why your friend's in there bleeding all over the place and you look like a football team flamenco danced all over your face. That's what all the good guys say...just before you find out that they are the bad guys."

"In this case, I assure you of our peaceful intent. I work for an international group dedicated to keeping the world from destroying itself. We were on our way to intercept plans to prevent a Middle Eastern nuclear launch."

"The Middle East doesn't have nuclear weapons."

"And you can say thank you to the man bleeding all over the place in there for that." Illya glared at him for a moment and pulled out his communicator. "Open Channel D."

"Channel D is open, Mr. Kuryakin. Progress report."

"Napoleon is still with us, sir. He's being transported to a local hospital via helicopter. Request permission to accompany him."

"Unfortunately, no, Mr. Kuryakin, I need you to intercept. Another team should rendezvous with you in two hours. Speed is of the essence, do you understand?"

Illya pushed himself to his feet, using the arms of the chair to lever himself upright. He swayed for a moment and shook his head to try and clear it. "Understood, sir, I'm on my way."

Unnoticed, the doctor rose and walked to a glass cabinet. His body blocking his actions from view, he filled a hypo and palmed it. "Let me give you a hand." As he reached behind the man, he drove the needle into a bicep and depressed the plunger before the Russian could do anything more than blink.

"What did you do?" Illya demanded pushing the man away. He took a staggering step and tried for another. Immediately the doctor was there, steadying him. "I don't need your help. You've already done enough..."

"Relax, I just gave you a sedative. It'll make the flight a little more comfortable."

"But I must..." Feet splayed in a last ditch effort to remain upright. "I'm ordered...ordered to..." The doctor was just barely able to keep him from crashing to the floor.

"You're ordered to get some rest." The doctor reached for the silver instrument and spoke slowly into it. "I'm sorry, but the party you've reached is no longer in service at this time."

"Who is this?"

"Let's just say I'm a humanitarian and your two men are on their way to the Bangor General Hospital. Let someone else save the world tonight. These two have done their share. You want to talk with them, try later on tomorrow." He tucked the instrument back into the jacket pocket of the unconscious blond.

Dr. Benjamin 'Hawkeye' Pierce watched as the two chopper attendants loaded his patients onto the craft. "It's funny, Hank. All during the war, these things brought me trouble. Now they're taking it away. How things have changed."

"Progress, Doc," Hank said, grinning. "Danny, start a transfusion on that one - stat. What about the other guy, Hawkeye. He looks bad."

"He's got some bruising and fractures, but nothing life threatening. Just thought making the flight unconscious would be easier on you. He was a little anxious over his friend's condition."

Faintly above the noise of the blades, he could hear horns blowing, church bells ringing and he didn't have to ask what time it was. He studied the two still forms strapped to stretchers as they were being loaded. "Happy New Year, guys. Hope the new one turns out better than how the last one ended."

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