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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

The Man from UNCLE fic: Expendable (1/1)

January 7th, 2016 (09:32 pm)
morose

feeling: morose

Title: Expendable

Disclaimer: I do not own any iteration of The Man from UNCLE.

A/N: Set after the movie. Unbeta’ed. Another ficlet for the lovely sendintheklowns. Day after day, she’s there to let me vent and enable my obsessions. Therefore, this day -- and this fic -- is for her.

Summary: Agents were expendable. Missions weren’t.



-o-

Gunshot, to the side. Through and through; flesh wound.

Illya gritted his teeth, pressing his hand like a vice around the skin. He could feel the blood, warm and slick, as it seeped between his fingers. The guard was on the floor, thoroughly neutralized -- maybe dead, Illya hadn’t taken the time to check -- and he was more annoyed with himself for missing the last guard than actually getting shot in the first place. He was getting sloppy, he was.

Nothing vital had been hit; this was a survivable wound.

He took a step, locking his jaw to steady himself and keep his vision from blacking out around the edges. Survivable was a plain, unobtrusive delineation. It did not account for the blood loss, the pain, the lightheadedness.

Eyes turned up, he looked through the factory and did his best not to waver. The rendezvous point was on the other side of the building, past several armed guards and one heavily guarded checkpoint. Gaby was supposed to be waiting, and Solo would be coming from an adjacent building with a secondary package to ensure that the operation was fully controlled.

Trembling a little, he adjusted his grip, silently acknowledging to himself that he would have to pocket his gun if he wanted to keep ahold of the package.

And the package, after all, was what this was all about.

Agents were expendable.

Missions weren’t.

Gaby was too vulnerable in the car; Solo would tilt his head and smile, pointing at his watch when he saw how late Illya was. This was no way for a Russian agent to behave.

This was a matter of pride.

He started again, swallowing back a wave of nausea as he tried to breathe through the pain. His heart fluttered in his chest, and he could feel blood trickle down his side.

This was a matter of survival.

-o-

His footfalls were heavy.

This, perhaps, would not be surprising to anyone but himself. Illya, he was a tall man, plenty of meat on his bones. He could be an imposing figure, when he wanted to be. But if Illya was built for strength, he was trained for stealth. He had the skill that allowed him to walk up behind someone, to stand there, contemplating his attack, before they even realized he was there at all.

Most of the time.

The bullet wound had compromised his gait, and he listed to the side. But any energy spent correcting the disparity was energy he could not afford to spend.

He gripped the package closer, flexing his fingers around the wound. The pain was effusive now, tingling down his spine and settling heavily in his very bones. It ebbed at his consciousness, bit by bit, steeling itself in his chest as he struggled to keep his breathing in check.

He had to get the package out.

He had to get to the rendezvous.

He had to keep moving.

His foot dragged, and he braced himself against the wall.

Gaby was waiting.

Solo was going to beat him.

And Illya was a man with everything to prove.

-o-

The plan had been to get in and out with as little attention as possible. They had hoped to maintain a low profile, to ensure that no one knew that anything had been breached until it was far too late to follow them.

That plan had seemed fine to Illya.

Before he’d been shot, anyway.

Ducked behind a corner, he eyed the guard station.

Four guards; all armed.

He glanced up to the window he’d entered by, the one by which he’d planned his exit. There was a utility walkway, but the only access was by rope. It was not a far climb, but bleeding as he was, he doubted that he could even hoist himself off the guard, much less carry the package and avoid detection.

Illya looked at the guards again, then looked at the package.

Stealth was better, but an exit was necessary.

He shifted the package to the other hand, reaching into his jacket to pull out the grenade.

This was what happened when he spent too much time with Americans.

Too much flash and bang.

Illya swallowed hard and pulled the pin before he threw.

Better to live like an American for once.

Than to die a Russian.

-o-

The concussive blast had the desired effect, and Illya did not let the dust settle as he broke into a loping run across the ground to the demolished security checkpoint. The grenade had been effective in clearing a path, but it did have one drawback that Illya now had to consider with more gravity.

His show of strength had obliterated any hope of stealth he had, and he could hear the sound of voices yelling in the distance as the rest of the security personnel in the area started to round on his position. Normally, this would not have been a problem. Illya could have simply outrun them.

Pain flared in his side, and he nearly dropped to his knees. His breathing was rushed and hard to manage now, and his entire body felt cold. His fingers could no longer keep pressure on the bullet wound, and it was all he could manage to hold the package and just keep going.

He staggered to his feet, bile rising in the back of his throat.

Stumbling, he pressed onward.

He had to keep going.

The package.

Gaby was waiting.

The American would already be back.

Illya had to deliver the package.

He had to complete the mission.

His foot slipped again, and he almost fell on his face. Desperate, he tucked the package against himself, letting out a small cry as he hit the ground. The voices were louder now, and he could hear the footsteps as they closed in around him.

Flailing, he got drunkenly to his feet, making it several more paces before he fell again.

“Whoa,” a familiar voice said, a strong hand catching him. “Easy, Peril.”

Illya blinked, confused as he looked up. “Cowboy?”

In the dimness, a grin crossed Solo’s face. “In the flesh.”

Brows knitted, Illya shook his head. “But what are you--”

“You were taking a little long,” Solo said. “And then we heard the fireworks…”

Illya blanched, shoving the package at Solo. “Finish the mission.”

Taking it, Solo tucked it under his arm. But then he did something Illya was not prepared for. He reached down, hoisting Illya up and dragging him forward.

“The mission,” Illya objected, panting now as he started to tremble. “There is no time--”

Solo’s grip tightened around him as he dragged them both forward another step. “The mission is for three agents to come home,” he said with a grunt as they rounded a corner. “That’s always the mission I’m playing after, anyway.”

Exhausted as he was, Illya could not argue. Instead, he felt himself slacken against the American, almost against his will. “It was my mistake,” he growled.

Solo pulled him along, almost at a jog now. “And our solution.”

Things were going dim now, but Illya refused to give in. He shook his head. “Agents are expendable--”

There was a screech of tires, and a car came to a stop in front of them. Gaby’s face was framed in the open window. “Get in!”

Solo was all but carrying him now, throwing open the back door and tossing the package inside before forcibly manhandling Illya into the bench seat. The door had barely closed before Gaby hit the gas and they career away, rocking perilous as they went.

“Where you came from, maybe,” Solo said, ripping open Illya’s shirt without his consent. “But not where we’re going.”

Illya was fading, his consciousness slipping away from him even more. He did not like surrender; and he did not like being bested. He did not like being weak, and he did not like being in need.

“How is he?” Gaby demanded from the front, the traces of fear evident in her voice.

“He’s lost a lot of blood,” Solo reported above Illya. “You better get Waverly on the radio, tell him we’re going to need support--”

“Hospital?” Gaby asked.

Illya shook his head, trying to object.

Solo didn’t even acknowledge him as he packed the wound with a towel. “As long as we’ve got a cover in place,” he said, jaw set grimly as they sped on.

“Just keep him alive,” Gaby ordered. “I will take care of the rest.”

Without replying, Solo pressed down harder, and Illya whimpered in pain despite himself. Above him, Solo’s grin was apologetic. “We’ve got this one, okay, Peril?” he said. “Just hold on, and let us take care of the rest.”

Weakness, vulnerability, compromise.

Trust, teamwork, cooperation.

In his time with UNCLE, Illya had retained himself to consider his teammates to be non-negotiable.

It was harder, though, to realize they regarded him in the same manner.

On a team, agents could not be expendable.

And the mission was only completed when they each came out.

This was not an easy thing.

But Illya Kuryakin, he was the best Russian agent.

If Napoleon Solo could do it.

Then so could he.

Holding Solo’s gaze, he nodded. “I trust you,” he said thickly, trying and failing to catch his breath. “I trust you.”

Solo grinned, holding fast as they careened around another corner. “If we can get that part out of the way, everything else will be easy,” he said. “You’ll see, Peril. When this is over, you’ll see.”

The darkness rose, and Illya let it take him over, slipping over the precipice with a finality he could not take back.

You’ll see, Illya thought as he tumbled downward. You’ll see.

Tor once, he hoped Solo was right.

-o-

It would have been easier, probably, to never wake up. Somehow, this actually seemed like a viable option, and truth be told, Illya was tempted.

But Illya, he was a Russian agent.

Easy was not part of the job description.

All the same, it was harder than he might have hoped. The pain was heavy, hovering over him like a weight he could not budge. His chest felt tight, and every breath was hard won and strained. The small movement of opening his eyes felt monumental, and it was all he could do to keep the nausea at bay as the light flooded over his raw nerves like a tsunami.

Russian agents, they were more proud than smart sometimes. Not that Illya would admit that.

It took several breaths before Illya felt like he could stay awake, and several more before he had a sense of where he was or what had happened.

The hospital, naturally.

Illya knew this, knew it better than he cared to admit.

His teammates must have brought him here, after the mission.

The mission.

Illya’s eyes widened, and he tried to sit up. When such movement failed, he turned his head, desperate for something, anything--

And he stopped.

The package, it was gone.

This was understandable, of course. It would have been delivered already, without him.

What was less understandable were his teammates.

Who should have been delivering the package and following up with Waverly. The package was just the first step, after all.

Yet, there they were.

Propped up on chairs at Illya’s bedside. Gaby was slouched low while she slept with her mouth open, while Solo managed to rest his head on his hand, legs still crossed and suit still impeccable. They had been there for awhile, those two.

As long as Illya had.

Solo had promised, after all.

Illya settled back, swallowing back his words. The mission could wait.

Or maybe it was time for Illya to accept the other mission, the real mission. The mission that had Solo running headlong into danger. The mission that had Gaby driving straight into disaster when all protocol suggested otherwise. The mission that had his teammates put him first, even when the intelligence was dangling by mere threads.

Trust was a difficult, precarious thing for someone like Illya. He had been betrayed more times than he could count.

But now, promises had been kept.

Vows had been fulfilled.

This kind of trust, it was easier than it had any right to be.

He looked at Gaby, her dress rumpled and her hair mussed. He looked at Solo, the lines set around his mouth and the stiffness of his posture.

They were not expendable to him, he realized. Neither one, though Illya was loathe to admit such sentimentality. He would put them first, if he had to. He would compromise the mission; he would put himself in danger. He would not forsake them, not for any order or any cause.

If he would not do this to them, then he had to trust that they would not do this in return.

He had made the choice, when he joined UNCLE, that he would do this for them.

That, against all odds, was the easy part.

The hard part was accepting that they would do the same for him. They were equals, Illya and his team. They were three parts of a whole. If one was sacrificed, they would all break.

That was trust.

That was what Gaby had wanted him to hold on to.

That was what Solo had wanted him to see.

Illya let out a long breath, willing himself to relax. It took him a moment as he trained his breathing, cataloging his pain and controlling his senses. This recovery would be longer than he wanted, and more painful than he would admit. He needed to rest; they needed to rest.

This wasn’t a matter of pride.

This wasn’t a matter of survival.

No, this was a matter of teamwork.

Of friendship.

A difficult mission, no doubt. His hardest yet.

But, as Illya nodded to himself with the faintest ghost of a smile, he decided it was one he was ready to handle.

Comments

Posted by: digitalwave (digitalwave)
Posted at: January 8th, 2016 04:58 am (UTC)
Cat in the Box!

Truly beautiful, sweetie, thank you! :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 10th, 2016 07:51 pm (UTC)
chuck happy

LOL, I honestly didn't expect anyone to read this :) So thank you!

Posted by: harrigan (harrigan)
Posted at: January 8th, 2016 05:00 am (UTC)

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm old enough to remember the TV series. Enjoyed this--brought back great memories!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 10th, 2016 07:52 pm (UTC)
doe eyed

I'm a bit too young to have seen the show, but the movie was a ton of fun to watch. I don't know how much of the dynamic from the movie could be traced back to the original, but I'm really glad this was still a decent read :) Thanks!

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: January 8th, 2016 10:06 pm (UTC)
danny applauds

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

That was exactly what the doctor ordered.

You spoil me outrageously.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 10th, 2016 07:52 pm (UTC)
dean rory i love you

You deserve to be spoiled :) I'd write you more, if I could, but I am happy this jaunt was satisfying for you. Thanks!

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