We Win

by Glenna Meredith

"This is not an interrogation, Illya. Please, just relax...we're all friends here. All you need to do is just answer a few questions".

"How can this not be an interrogation. I am stripped of my clothes, my hands are tied behind my back and, at last count, I've been hit in the face three times".

The blond jerked once more, knowing the binds were tight and secure. His usual proclivity towards antagonizing the enemy was about to earn him another slap across his already bruised face.

"Since you're unwilling to cooperate...'

The woman speaking to him was a typical Thrush female. She was provocative and beautiful, deadly and without any regrets concerning her cruel habits. The Russian had fallen in to her arms, literally, and now he would pay the price for his indiscretion. In spite of his usually stringent rules about women and daliances of the heart, her portrayal of a Russian diplomat had fooled him right up until the moment it no longer mattered. As her deception became clear to him, Illya was already her prisoner.

"You will tell me, my love, regardless of your determination not to. You can see what I have in my hand, and I'm certain you know already what it contains. I don't need your cooperation anymore, although it would have been easier on you".

He was watching her, and he did know what was in the syringe she held. Another Thrush truth serum, maybe something worse.

"I have no doubt that you knew before this started that I would not give you any information. Why the charade?" "Perhaps I have a very minor affection for you, Illya. After everything we've meant to one another..." Her mouth curled into a sadistic smile that held no affection whatsoever. He had been lured into this by his own stupidity, his hopes...

"We did have a few good times, didn't we? You are one of the finest lovers I've ever encountered. Sadly, you will not live long enough to enchant me again".

He despised her. It wasn't often that he actually felt that away about the enemy. Usually it was a matter of doing what was necessary, and emotions didn't enter into those situations. This was different. She had gotten close enough to him, or had given the appearance of it, to actually draw a reaction to her that bordered on hatred. 'Not an ice prince now'...he thought to himself, remembering whispers and threads of gossip that had branded him with that unflattering title. He felt completely exposed here, with her in this room. The onlookers knew what had happened, they were witnesses to his foolishness. The reality of that began to roil within him, his anger at her and Thrush ready to push him past the normal cool facade that he carried so effectively. He was maintaining an outward demeanor of aloof unconcern, and he hoped that she was buying it, couldn't read what lay just beneath the surface. Getting out alive would depend on it.

"Would you really kill me? I thought that there was, perhaps, something between us that we could salvage. Some spark of ...what shall we call it? Lust, or love?"

"Oh, you surprise me, Illya. Do you really suppose that we could go any farther than this? I am Thrush, and you are, unfortunately, UNCLE. We are not like Angelique and Napoleon. We don't play the game after the rules are clearly drawn. We end the game. In that we are well matched, and I will probably regret, for a time, losing you. We could never draw a truce and play at the same romantic charade that our comrades enjoy. No, for us there is nothing except the win".

With that she thrust the needle into the straining arm of Illya Kuryakin, pushing the plunger down, forcing the potion into his flesh. He felt the liquid begin to course through his veins, the heat of something unnatural piercing through the icy resolve as it began to penetrate his mind and emotions. He couldn't resist her, could not stay silent when she asked him to tell her everything.

In an explosion of motion and sound, the room in which this drama played itself out was invaded by a half dozen men, garbed in black and led by the Russian's partner, Napoleon Solo. His eyes went first to his friend who was slumped over and seemingly unconscious. Next was the woman, the enchantress who had lured the blond agent into a web of deception and danger. She was extraordinary for having done that, but more dangerous than most for the same reason.

"Enough Natalia, stand back...away from him". The American thrust his chin out, indicating the direction she needed to go. The men in the room who had been willing to back her previously were now down on the ground, taken easily by the superior UNCLE force. She alone still stood her ground; she held another syringe in her right hand. The threat was obvious, the target equally so.

"Don't even think about it. I'll shoot you where you stand". Napoleon was incensed at her audacity, as though she could get away with killing Illya like this; as though she wouldn't pay a price.

"You don't kill women, Napoleon. You sleep with them, flirt with them...but you don't kill them. We all know about you and Angelique, so why should I be afraid of you. Let me go, and I'll let you have your little friend back. I'm done with him, anyway". The look in her eyes was maddening to the UNCLE CEA. His position within the command dictated a certain decorum, but she was the enemy. She also badly misconstrued his actions, and his reactions.

"One more warning...step back". She smiled at him and in a heartstopping instant she stabbed at the arm of the already unconscious Kuryakin. It was a grazing gesture from the needle, and in the same instant she was looking back at Napoleon, stunned at his fierceness. And she was dead.

In the low lights of UNCLE Medical, a Russian UNCLE agent was just coming around from a debilitating Thrush cocktail of truth serums and poisons. It was to the credit of the excellent medical staff of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement that he was not dead. Quick work by both doctors and lab personnel had effected an antidote to the poison, while the nausea and headaches afforded by the other drugs seemed unavoidable. But, he was alive.

"Hey, are you finally waking up?" Napoleon was by his friend's bedside, ready to see an end to this last episode of daring do, death defying bravery, etc... Sometimes it did get a little old, even for him. "How long..." And the predictability of his partner's first words after said heroics. "Two days, more or less. I brought you in the night before last, so...about 40 hours". The blue eyes conveyed the pain of the drugs, but perhaps more disturbingly, the distress of the situation that had preceded it.

"Is she dead?" Napoleon nodded. He knew that would be the only thing said about her, perhaps the entire mission. Illya would write his report and never discuss it with his superior, his partner and friend. Sometimes, you just didn't need to explain.

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