Authors: Spikesgirl58 and Avery11
Genre: Gen Crossover with The Prisoner
We'll alternate chapters, with Spikesgirl58 recounting most of Illya's experiences, and Avery11 handling most of Napoleon's perspective.
Many, many thanks to sparky955 for her most excellent Beta skills.
Begin reading Chapters 1 - 4 HERE
The Prisoner Of the Mind Affair
llya watched Visconti...no, Napoleon...sleep, and tried to understand. He had no doubt now, that the mind in Napoleon’s body was Bram Visconti's, but he was at a loss as to how to right the wrong. He had no idea how such a thing was even possible. He was just glad he had acted on his initial instinct to bring Visconti with him – otherwise Napoleon would still be trapped in that little bit of hell called The Village.
Napoleon thrashed, moaning in his sleep. Illya rubbed the fleshy forearm, cringing at the strangeness. It felt nothing like his partner’s arm.
He made soothing sounds. “Hush, Napoleon, we will make this right,” he whispered. “I will make this right.” Not that he had a clue how he was going to do that, but it didn’t matter. Napoleon settled at Illya’s touch. His hand lingered until Napoleon’s breathing was deep and regular again.
Illya rose wearily and stretched. His back ached from sitting in the chair, and he massaged the base of his spine as he walked slowly to the door. He cracked his neck and adjusted his tie before tapping once, then twice, then once again. After a brief delay it opened, and he stepped into the brightly lit corridor. He blinked furiously until his eyes adjusted.
Illya recognized one of the two Section Three men flanking the door, and gave him a half smile.
“Mr. Lewis, how are you?” Hirum Lewis had taken Illya’s Ordinance and Explosives class and done well. Illya held out a hand, and Hirum shook it firmly, as if trying to impress Illya with its surety and strength.
“I’m well, sir. How goes the interrogation? Is he talking?”
“Off and on, I’m afraid. Whatever happened to him on the island has seriously weakened the man. He is unconscious more than he’s awake. When he is awake, he babbles nonsense. He actually thinks he is an UNCLE agent.”
The other man laughed. “Really? How crazy is that?”
“Walker, Teo Walker. It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. Hirum has been telling me all about you.”
“I assure you that it is all lies, except for the good parts.” Illya shook his hand as well. “Are you new here?”
“I just returned from a London assignment. I was replacing Mr. Drake until they could appoint someone to take his position full time.”
Illya frowned, mentally going through the list of London personnel. “Drake? I don’t…”
“John Drake, he was London's Section Three head until he disappeared a few years ago.”
“It must have been after I left.” Illya looked toward the other occupied room. “Is the doctor with Mr. Solo?” He tried to keep any sign of contempt from his voice.
“He just left.”
“Keep up the good work, and do not let anyone other than Dr. Stokes or myself into that room. Visconti is slippery, and I am certain he is already formulating an escape plan.”
“Should we move him down to a maximum security cell?” The Section Three agents exchanged knowing looks. No one every escaped from an UNCLE maximum security cell, except Napoleon.
“His medical condition is still too shaky. Perhaps tomorrow we will move him, but in the meantime, guard him with your life. A dead THRUSH is of no help to us.”
“No one gets past us, sir.” Lewis nodded, his voice firm and committed.
“I am sure.” Illya shook their hands again and squared his shoulders. It was time to face the demon.
Pausing in front of Napoleon’s room, Illya took a deep breath and put his best poker face on. He knocked once and entered.
The real Visconti turned in the bed to face him. Illya’s heart ached with the sense of familiarity of the expression and the smile. It was his partner and yet it wasn’t. The eyes were cold and calculating.
“How are you feeling, old friend?” Illya felt he deserved an Oscar for his acting.
“Still a little tired, but the medication is helping with the headache.”
“Excessive bed rest will do that. You need to get out of here. I shall talk to the doctor about releasing you to my care. We can stay at your apartment or mine. I suspect you will be more comfortable at yours and your guest bed is easier on the back.”
“I wouldn’t want to put you out. Dr. Stokes said I should be cleared for duty in another couple of days. It’s just as easy to stay here.”
“Nonsense. After you nursed me through the measles and that case of flu last year, it’s the least I can do.” Illya had had neither. The real Napoleon would know that; Visconti would not.
The eyes narrowed slightly, as if unsure if this was a bluff or not. “I told you then it was okay. You don’t need to take care of me.”
Illya nodded and waved his hand. The room was filled with flower arrangements, all of them bugged by him personally. “You’ve obviously had plenty of offers from more comely nursemaids. All these flowers are from your many admirers, I suppose?”
The man nodded happily. “What can I say? I’m universally loved.”
“Don’t say that too loudly down in the gym. Halibekey might take offense and tied you into a love knot.”
“Halibekey needs to remember his place.”
It was obvious this Napoleon faker didn’t have a clue who this Halibekey was. “I will let you rest then. Perhaps I can convince the doctor to release you to light duty. I have three stacks of reports waiting for me, and I could use your help.”
“Thanks.” There was a viciousness to Napoleon’s smile and Illya knew the man was thinking of all the trouble he was going to create once he got his hands on UNCLE”s secrets.
Illya nodded again. “I will see what I can do.” There was no answer, not that Illya expected one.
Stepping back out into the hallway, he nearly collided with Dr. Stokes. “Ah, Illya, I was just coming to see you. I’ve been hearing some very interesting rumors. You want to put them to bed?”
“Yes, but not out here.” The nurses’ station was but a few steps away and the two Section Three agents hung on every word being spoken.
“My office is right around the corner. We can talk there.” Stokes seemed eager to lead the way. The room was a mirror image of just about every other office in the building. It was the accessories that made each one a reflection of its owner. Stokes had travel posters all over his walls. Illya studied one of the Matterhorn.
“I’d love to go there,” Stokes said.
“It’s very cold, and you have to like goat.” Illya settled into a straight back chair. “A lot.”
“Do you ever get tired of traveling, Illya?”
“No, not really. My mother told me I was born with a restless spirit.”
“No, thank you. I’ve had several cups already today. Anymore and I will be scrubbing the ceiling with a toothbrush.” Illya watched the doctor go through the familiar routine of pouring coffee and risking that first sip. “You said you’d been hearing rumors.”
Stokes settled behind his desk and pushed a stack of medical reports out of his way. He picked up a pen, fiddling with it for a moment and then set it back down. “Well, not rumors, per se. Connie, the day nurse, said that Napoleon has been flirting with her.”
“That is hardly cause for alarm. Napoleon flirts with everyone.”
“I happen to know that Napoleon usually avoids flirting with any of my nurses… unlike other agents.” He tried to repress a smile as Illya shifted uncomfortably. “He told me once that he didn’t want to get comfortable with anyone who could insert a catheter line.”
“That sounds like vintage Napoleon. It’s a well known fact that very few women can resist Napoleon when he sets his mind to something. Perhaps he sees it as his way of escaping.”
“That’s just it, Illya. I’ve treated Napoleon for everything from a sprained ankle to a gunshot wound to a concussion. I usually have to tie him to the bed to keep him there, and he’s always rushing off the first chance he gets. Not this time.”
“Perhaps my rescue took more out of him than he is willing to admit. He undertook a near Sysiphusian task to find me. If he had convinced April and Mark to help, I would still be there.”
“He hasn’t asked about any of you, not even once. Whoever is in that bed isn’t Napoleon.”
“Yes, it is. You’ve proven it yourself with the blood work.”
“It might be an exact copy of Napoleon, but it’s not him. I think you know it, too.” Stokes paused and took a deep breath. “What the hell is going on, Illya?”
Illya took a deep breath. He hadn't said anything about the switch to anyone, but perhaps now was the time to break that silence. “How do I put this?” he began.
“I’ve found with this one that a direct route is the best.”
Illya’s eyes widened at the voice. In a heartbeat, he was out of his chair, his weapon drawn.
Number Six stepped from the shadows of the room. “Put that down, Twenty-Two.”
“What are you doing here?” The pistol didn’t waver, but Dr. Stokes had dropped behind his desk. Apparently he didn’t want to be part of any gun battle.
“It’s all right, son.” Waverly’s hand covered Illya’s and lowered both it and the weapon. “Mr. Drake is here at my request.”
“How… wait, Drake? The Section Three man who vanished?”
“Not exactly vanished.” The man’s smile was tight. “I prefer 'reassigned.'”
“He knows what happened to Mr. Solo and Visconti.” Waverly continued. “He wants to help.”
Illya stared at his employer, a man he trusted with his life, and then back at Number Six, a man he didn’t trust for a moment. “All right. Talk.”
Visconti scowled as Dr. Stokes delivered the bad news.
“I'm sorry, Napoleon,” the doctor ad libbed. “I know you were hoping to be discharged this morning, but I'm not satisfied with the results of your latest brain scan. I'm afraid you're going to be with us for another day, at least.”
“It's a damned waste of time,” Visconti grumbled. He caught himself and smiled belatedly. “Sorry, Doc. you know how I hate being cooped up.”
“I believe you've mentioned it a few times.” Dr. Stokes made a notation on the chart, and returned it to its peg at the foot of the bed. “You agents may think of yourselves as invulnerable, but the fact is that you suffered a traumatic brain injury. You were unconscious for nearly two days. You had a concussion, and there was significant swelling in the temporal lobe of your brain. Unfortunately, the swelling hasn't gone down as much as I'd like.”
“But I feel fine,” Visconti insisted.
“I'm glad to hear it. However, 'feeling fine' isn't the only criterion I'm required to use in assessing your condition.” Dr. Stokes paused to change the IV bag and adjust the drip rate. “I know you're disappointed, Napoleon, but you have to understand – I'm responsible for your health. I don't want to see you back in here with a brain bleed. If you really want a clean bill of health, the best thing you can do at the moment is rest. ”
“I'll make sure he follows your orders,” Illya declared firmly.
Visconti grimaced. “Just what I need, a Russian nursemaid.”
“What you need is time to recover, Napoleon, and I am going to see that you get it.”
Visconti gave an exaggerated sigh. “And what am I supposed to do for the next twenty-four hours? Twiddle my thumbs?”
“Grumpy, are we? Perhaps I can bring you a few of the reports on your desk. I have done my best to keep up, but there are a number of delicate matters requiring your attention, and I haven't the necessary clearance to sign off on them.”
Reports! Visconti practically salivated at the thought of all the information he could glean from those mission reports. And that fool Kuryakin had just handed him the opportunity on a silver platter! He schooled his face into a semblance of gratitude. “Thanks, Illya. You're a lifesaver.”
Illya forced a smile. “I will be back in a few minutes with those reports.”
While he waited, Visconti thought about the bullet he would put into Illya's brain. He pictured the look of surprise on the Russian's face, the blue eyes glazing over with the finality of death. Very soon now, he promised himself.
Illya motioned Dr. Stokes to the end of the hall. “Is it done?” he asked quietly.
Stokes nodded. The new IV is pumping a powerful sedative into Visconti's system. He should be out for the count in roughly –” He checked his watch. “ – ten minutes.”
“Excellent. We need to keep him sedated until the mind-swapping machine gets here. Wait fifteen minutes, and then check to be sure he's out.” Illya turned toward the bank of elevators. “No one is to enter Visconti's room without my personal clearance. If you need me – for any reason whatsoever – do not hesitate to call. I will be in Waverly's office.” The elevator dinged to announce its arrival.
He turned. “Yes?”
Stokes hesitated. “Do you think UNCLE will be able to retrieve the mind-swapping machine in time to save Napoleon?”
Illya stared at the steel door behind which his friend lay, desperately ill. “If anyone can succeed, it will be April and Mark.” Forcing down his fear, he stepped into the elevator. The doors closed behind him.
Visconti hated the thought of waiting another day to put his assassination plans into operation, but there didn't seem to be much he could do about it. The damned doctor was a bloody tyrant! Maybe he'd put a bullet in his brain, too. And that simpering nurse... what was her...?
He yawned. His head sank back onto the pillow, and he found himself appreciating its cool softness. His eyelids drooped. Drifted shut. No! He forced them open, wondering why it was suddenly so hard to stay awake. What...was I...? ...sedating him? Dr. Stokes hadn't... mentioned...
Like a bolt of lightning, the truth revealed itself. They know who I am!
Visconti ripped the IV needle from his arm. He stumbled to the bathroom, cursing, and splashed cold water on his face. It didn't help. Damn them! They were going to ruin everything! Fighting to stay awake, he searched the cabinets, and came up with a vial of methadrine and a syringe. He injected himself with the stimulant, and at last, felt himself begin to revive.
Feeling somewhat clearer, he tackled the problem of how to keep them from realizing that he'd caught on. The IV. Of course! He took the bag to the sink and dumped the contents, replacing the clear liquid with tap water. He rehung the bag, broke the needle in half and climbed back into bed, taping the shortened needle to the inside of his elbow. He closed his eyes – just in time it turned out – for seconds later the door opened, and Dr. Stokes entered the room.
He moved to Visconti's bedside, noting the rolled-back eyes and the deep, even breathing. He checked the drip rate on the IV once more for good measure and, satisfied that his patient would sleep through the night, slipped out as silently as he had come. He hung a 'QUARANTINE' sign on the door to assure that no one entered without permission.
In the darkness, Visconti smiled. They believed he was asleep. No one would bother him for several hours now. Time to get to work. He rifled through the cabinets and drawers for the materials he would need to make a homemade version of knockout gas. When it was ready, he would use UNCLE's own air conditioning system to vent the gas into the corridor. The thought pleased him. It wouldn't be long now.
Sleep eluded Napoleon Solo. His body felt foreign to him, like living in a house belonging to somebody else. If it wasn't for Illya recognizing him, he might have lost hope.
A sudden jolt of adrenaline surged through his veins, causing the muscles of his arms and legs to contract painfully, the pain mingling with the leaden feeling in his chest. Pain had become a constant companion now, as the body he inhabited – Visconti's body – deteriorated. No one said as much, but he knew the signs – elevated heart rate, trouble breathing, blurred vision. Visconti's body was shutting down.
He wondered how much time he had left before the seizures stopped his heart. An UNCLE strike force had been sent to the island to retrieve the mind-swapping machine, but there was no guarantee they would be successful in the attempt, or that the machine could be brought back to New York in time to save him. At least Waverly was safely under guard – Visconti wouldn't be able to get to him.
Outside the door of his Medical cell, one of the guards coughed. And coughed again. The other said something, and then began to gasp for breath. A sound like something rubbing against metal – the guard, sliding down the exterior of the door.
Gas! A moment later, Napoleon was coughing, too. Don't breathe! Realizing that he had only seconds in which to act, he stuffed his blanket into the air conditioning vent, and tied the ends to to the metal bars. It wouldn't keep the gas out for long, but it might just give him enough time to pick the lock on the cell door. He covered his face with his pillow, and set to work, trying to inhale as little of the gas as possible.
Visconti gave the knockout gas five minutes to do its work. Once he was sure it had dissipated, he dropped the oxygen tank he'd stolen from the crash cart, and picked up a gun from one of the unconscious guards sprawled in the corridor.
Kuryakin had ruined everything – he and that meddling doctor – but Visconti was nothing if not resourceful. His original plan to kill Waverly and take his place at the head of UNCLE had been thwarted, but there was always room for a backup plan. If I can't take over UNCLE Headquarters, I'll blow it up. He giggled at the thought. Waverly would be just as dead, and he'd have taken out Solo and Kuryakin, and about two-hundred clueless UNCLE agents in the bargain.
“Hold it right there, Visconti.”
That voice! Visconti turned, and stared at – himself.
Napoleon Solo stood in the center of the corridor, one hand braced against the wall for support. In his hand he held the second guard's pistol, pointed straight at Visconti's heart. “Put the gun down,” he said.
“You don't look so well, Number Eleven,” Visconti replied boldly. “Let me guess – blinding headache, chest pain, numbness in the extremities – am I getting warm? Tsk tsk. The signs of neuronic incompatibility are all there. I'd estimate you have – maybe – a day or two at most before total collapse. It looks like I got the better half of our bargain.” He began to inch toward the stairwell.
“I said, drop the gun.”
“And If I don't? What are you going to do? Shoot me?” Visconti laughed. He took another step toward the door.
“Stop. I won't warn you again.”
“Be realistic, Number Eleven. I'm betting you're not cold-blooded enough to shoot your own body.”
“You'd lose that bet.” A sudden stabbing pain left Napoleon gasping for breath. His chest felt like a vise was squeezing his ribcage; his legs grew numb. He fought to stay upright.
Visconti saw his chance. He fired, and Napoleon went down, clutching his side.
“Well that was anticlimactic,” Visconti remarked. He pressed the elevator call button. “Be seeing you, Number Eleven.”
A soft explosion. Visconti's face contorted in surprise. He looked down at his chest, where a bright red stain was beginning to bloom. He stared at it, even as he slid to the ground, his warm brown eyes glazing over in the finality of death.
The gun fell from Napoleon's hands, smelling of cordite. His eyes closed.
Illya watched the body that had been his partner crumple to the floor. He fell to his knees beside him. “Oh, Napoleon, what have you done?”
Visconti’s eyes opened. “What had to be done, partner.”
Dr. Stokes knelt over the body of Napoleon, and shook his head.
“But, with your body dead, you’re trapped.”
“Not for long.” The voice was weak. “What the doctor didn’t tell you is that Visconti's body is dying, rejecting the transference. That’s why he was in no great hurry to leave Medical. Another day and this body would have been dead, along with me. Guess I pushed that envelope a bit far. ”
“No.” Illya’s voice was firm, even though inside he was slowly coming apart. “I won’t lose you.”
“It’s not your call, Illya. Not this time. It’s been great having you as a partner.” Napoleon took a deep breath. “And at least you’re sa…” The head lolled and Illya grabbed him.
“Don’t you dare give up, Napoleon Solo! “ Illya shook him feverishly. “That’s not who you are! You don’t quit – ever. You fight. Don’t you dare leave me here alone.” He rocked the now lifeless body in his arms. “Napoleon,” he murmured over and over.
“Shh, it’s okay.” The voice was soft and comforting. It seemed to surround Illya, filling him with a sense of peace. It was achingly familiar. “Everything’s okay now, Illya. I have you.”
There was a sudden pressure and Illya’s head felt as if it exploded. He gasped, and staggered down the thin line between consciousness and oblivion. A gentle breeze blew over his face and he sighed. It became easier to breathe. To sleep would be easy, but, “…so much to do.”
“You’re done, Illya, it’s over. You can rest now.”
A veil seemed to lift from his eyes and he was staring at a visage he knew better than his own. Illya whispered, “Impossible…Na… Napoleon?” He blinked and tried to move, but his limbs had a mind of their own. “You’re dead. How can this be?”
Napoleon wiped Illya’s face with his handkerchief. “Not quite yet, so don’t be counting on that promotion anytime soon. Now, be still and we’ll have you out of here.” A movement drew Illya’s attention, and he turned his head as Mark came racing up.
“We’ve secured the satrapy, and are currently rounding everyone up, Napoleon.” He paused and grinned at Illya. “Welcome back, mate.”
“Visconti?” Napoleon eased electrode cuffs from Illya’s burnt wrists. “Tell me he didn’t slip away, Mark.”
“Section Three has him, although he made a good try of it. April had to shoot him in the leg before he slowed down.”
“Remind me to put April in for a commendation,” Napoleon murmured, adjusting the blanket over Illya. “Is the helicopter ready?”
April came up, slinging her rifle over her shoulder. “We’ve made a report back to Mr. Waverly and the second wave is coming in. It’s good to see you, Illya.” she brushed the sweat-damp hair from his forehead and kissed it. “You had us scared for awhile.” She and Mark hurried away.
“Wha'… what happened?” Illya’s jaw and ears ached and his head throbbed as Napoleon removed electrodes from Illya’s head. “No Gypsy fortune teller?”
“Nope, just some nasty dreams on your part.” Napoleon held the mask close to Illya’s nose and mouth again. He breathed deeply, letting his mind clear of cobwebs and almost forgotten memories. Illya reached up and winced. His right wrist was a mass of pinpricks. Still, he settled his hand over Napoleon’s.
“I thought I had lost you,” Illya murmured, squeezing with all his might, which wasn’t much at present.
“I have to admit, the same thought had crossed my mind about you.” Napoleon smiled. “I’m sorry it took so long to find you. You were the proverbial UNCLE needle in a THRUSH haystack.”
Illya turned his attention to the mass of electronic gadgetry that surrounded him. “What is all this, Napoleon?”
“Best we can figure, it’s a thought manipulator. According to the scientist we captured, the machine that they have you hooked up to is able to control your dreams. They were trying to get inside your head and find out all of UNCLE’s little secrets.”
“I imagine they were not very successful.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I am still alive. They would have killed me if they had gotten what they wanted.”
“Maybe we should use it on Visconti and see what’s running around in that noggin.” Napoleon helped Illya sit up and adjusted the blanket around him again. “Sit tight, partner and I’ll see what I can do about rounding you up some clothes. We wouldn’t want to cause a stampede by accidentally flashing our female agents. I don’t know if their hearts could take it. ”
Illya managed a smile and closed his eyes again.
“You have been through a terrible ordeal,” someone whispered and Illya nodded slowly. He felt that he should know that voice, but he couldn’t quite pin it down. His head was still a confusing jumble of thoughts and images. “Are you all right?”
“I’m still a little dizzy.”
A hand reached out and supported his shoulder. “Just relax. I’ll tell you a little story. Once upon a time there was The Village.”
Illya’s eyes snapped open. He sat up, pulling himself free of the man’s grasp. “Number Six?”
“You’ll be fine now, but don’t forget what you’ve seen.” Number Six smiled and touched his hand to his temple. “Be seeing you.”
Illya turned and shouted, “Napoleon!” His partner was there in a heartbeat, carrying a jumpsuit, his face a mass of confusion and fear. “What’s wrong?”
“Number Six. He’s here!”
“Who? There's no one in the room except us. All the THRUSH personnel have been rounded up and are being processed.”
Illya’s head throbbed, but he pushed the pain and nausea aside and slid off the metal table. He hurriedly yanked the jumpsuit on, talking as he walked. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” The door slid open at their approach, and for a moment Illya caught his breath, half expecting a Rover to be hovering outside the door, waiting to drag him back to The Village. But it merely opened onto a long gray corridor, and Napoleon was there at his side, draping Illya’s arm over his shoulder, his strong right arm around Illya’s waist.
The sunlight caught Illya and he blinked, his eyes watering furiously. He turned his face away for a moment. His knees weakened at the sight of the crazy jumble of buildings, each one painted an artificially bright color against the backdrop of a sparkling sea.
“Hold on, Partner. Just another few minutes and we’ll have you out of here. This is some little empire Visconti built,” Napoleon murmured as he helped Illya into the UNCLE helicopter.
“A torture chamber hidden by pretty flowers and slipcovers,” Illya whispered. He looked back towards the green domed building. There was a man standing there. He raised one hand and then vanished into the shadows. Illya wondered if the man even existed.
“Well, you know what they say...a gilded cage is still a cage.”
“And a prisoner is never a free man, no matter how easily he comes and goes. Not when the prison is in his own mind.” Illya accepted a hand up from a Section Three agent and settled into one of the passenger seats, Napoleon at his side.
With a roar, the helicopter lifted up and raced away the green rolling hills and across a blue glittering ocean.
Number Six watched as the two men were loaded onto the helicopter, both securely strapped to gurneys for the long flight back to the States. Rovers stood by, growling menacingly, but they wouldn’t attack without his instructions. As the aircraft lifted away, he turned back toward The Village.
Walking over to a console, he picked up a red phone. “New York, please. Code: Open Channel D.” He watched the operatives ride around, up, and down on the scanner. The voice which answered sounded tired and weary with age.
“Your men are back on their way to you, Alexander. No harm done, although they will both benefit from some attention by your psychiatric staff.”
“He has been dealt with. He will not be a problem for anyone else again.” He could still hear the man’s screams as he was dragged away to meet his fate. “Be seeing you.”
As he set down the phone, his diminutive butler arrived with his elevenses. He took it on the balcony where he could watch the sea and the sky.
I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its ravelled fleeces by.
He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.
The Ballad Of Reading Gaol
a poem by Oscar Wilde
(Authors' Note: The mind-swapping machine was featured on an episode of The Prisoner titled “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling.” The mind manipulator was created for an episode of The Prisoner titled “A, B and C.”)