Resistance- A story by
"Bad Cop?" Kuryakin did not like the taste of the words. "Bad? Do you mean bad, or do you mean dangerous? And, Cop? I am not a policeman."
"Itís an expression." Solo was patient, though he had a sneaking suspicion that this lesson in contemporary American English was a dodge. "I mean that I have attempted to gain the subjectís confidence- make him feel I am on his side, will even protect him from U.N.C.L.E. Ďs hottest interrogator if he will confide in me about that arms shipment to Chile. It went astray somewhere, and I am sure that THRUSH is responsible."
The blue eyes narrowed. "Has it worked?"
Illyaís expression spoke volumes.
"Thatís why I need you. If you go in and snarl a little- foam at the mouth if necessary, youíll scare him right into my waiting arms." Too late, the dark-haired agent caught the glint in his partnerís eyes, but he couldnít stop now. "You now what I mean."
Illya sighed, pushed himself to his feet. "I do. Still, I have my doubts that this will work. You may call me a terror of secretaries, Napoleon, but this is a THRUSH Agent, and not a beginner. I doubt I will frighten him very much."
Solo grinned, then sobered. "Donít sell yourself short, all right? He will see reason, I think, when you get through with him."
Not convinced, Illya grimaced. "Right. After lunch."
"No. We havenít got time. Go and see him now."
Alerted by the tension in his partnerís tone, Illya spun to look back. "Havenít got time," he echoed. "Why?"
"He had a black capsule- we are holding him, but barely. He is not going to survive- may not last the hour. It has to be now."
Digesting this, Illya nodded sharply. "Medical?"
"No." Solo said briefly, looking away. "Heís in Interrogation 3. There was no point."
"No point. I see." He masked his dismay in a grim professional expression. He had no time for sentiment, but stillÖ Still his deep sense of the fitness of things was offended. This unknown THRUSH was dying in an interrogation room, because there was "no point" in moving him to a bed. His expression got grimmer as he approached the door of Interrogation Room 3.
The man was crucified naked against the cold metal wall. Hanging in leather straps, his body sagged so that his long, yellowish toes just brushed the clean, featureless floor. His arms, outstretched toward the corners of the room sagged also, but were constrained by the manacles and could not fall. The head was hanging, and Illya was shocked to see that the long, sweaty hair curtaining the face was touched with gray- an old man? The lungs were still working, for the thin chest rose and fell rhythmically.
Illya placed himself where the manís tortured gaze would fall when he lifted his head, and made a coughing rusty sound in his throat. Was he conscious? Would he answer at all? Why should he? But the narrow head lifted sharply, and the gray and black hair was tossed from his face in a graceful, haughty gesture of impatience that Illya knew. Had known in another world, when he had first adopted the name he used now, when as a trusted deep cover agent who had gone to keep tabs on this American Liaison.
"Hollywell? George Hollywell?" He could not keep the disbelief out of his voice. "What are you doing here?"
The crucified man licked dry lips, and the deep-set dark eyes opened. He looked down into Illyaís upturned face and made a ghastly effort to smile. "I am dying, Illya. What are you doing here?"
"The sent me in to see if I could persuade you to be more forthcoming." Kuryakin said with a sigh to indicate how foolish he knew that to be.
"I donít suppose it will work."
Hollywell actually laughed, a frail, wheezing remnant of the bark Illya remembered. So well. Time folded itself for an instant, and Illya saw the man who had been his first American friend, his first teacher in the shadow world of international intrigue. He had always laughed then, at Illyaís struggles to master the culture of the underworld, at his political convictions, so naÔve and so dearly held, and at his first adventures in the great game.
"No. No. Itís no good now. He was saying. " You donít have time to convince me, Illya- do as you will. The time when you can hurt me is," he wheezed again- not laughing this time. "Very short.í"
"Iím not supposed to hurt you," the Russian said simply. "Iím supposed to talk to you. George, I meant it. Why are you working for THRUSH?"
"And you, Illya. Why are you working for the U.N.C.L.E.? Why are your hands dirty with my blood, you, saintly Illya, the one with all the principles, what are you doing here while your friends kill me?"
"You have killed yourself," Illya pointed out coldly. "Why THRUSH? Had you lost all those dreams you told me about? Why were you involved in passing Arms in Chile? You havenít got time to joke, George- " He dropped his voice, spoke softly, confidentially. "Donít let your last act be betrayal, George. Save some lives."
That wheezing laugh again. "The people whose lives you would save are not going to be grateful Illya, my little saint, and my employers will not be forgiving, whether I die here or live until I get home. It is no longer a matter of betraying or not, it is a matter of whom to betray- and I have made my choice."
" We might be able to save youÖ" It was a lie, a desperate gamble.
It didnít work. Though he could see in the dark eyes that it nearly did.
"So how did they suck you in, my friend, my almost-son was it the glamour of the winning side, or was it the principles you loved?"
There was a thin thread of mockery in the dying manís voice. But, something in his haggard graying face compelled honesty. "I donít know," Illya said carefully. "I suppose it was the principles, I never had any, knew of no reason to have them, and now, I have. It gives a reason for why I do what I do, a standard. " How childish it sounded, but he had already bet his life a thousand times that it was true.
"And if I told you there is a principle in being defiant of order, a dark and lovely and seductive joy in helping people do precisely what they please to do, would you believe me?"
"I would," Illya said, Then shrugged and almost smiled. "But we make choices. The arms for Chile? How did you get them, and where did you send them?"
"I sent them where they would do the most good." He was breathing hard now- long noisy breaths followed by silences that stretched longer and longer. "If I tell you, itÖ must be a secret, Illya. You believe in principles, can you keep a little secret- or will this betrayal of me be only one of many- no t Ö last act, but the beginning of your own decay?"
The deep blue eyes lit. "Youíll tell me?"
"Only you, Illya. And you must keep it a secret. Weíll see how much you love your principles. Iíll tell you, but you must not betray me. Those Chileans, theyíre dead, even the ones still walking around. If my guns donít kill them, somebody elseís will. What do you say."
Illya hesitated. He had no honor if he gave his word and then betrayed his friend. But, what did he have if he betrayed his principles by keeping the secret. It was a clever trap, and he had let himself fall in.
"I promise, " he said, bowing under the weight of his loyalties. "I will keep the secret."
"Listen- come close, Illya. I canít talk loudly, any more."
Illya obeyed, stood where the dying man could stir his soft hair with the dull ratcheting of his breath. "I sent it to Don Hilario Flores y Moran. He lives just on the outskirts of San Remo. He intends to fuel aÖ anÖ insurrection." Hollywell finished his recitation with a kiss, loving and bitter as Judasí. Then he closed his eyes and could speak no more. Illya stood nearly on tiptoe to reach the right hand, still stretched unrelentingly toward a corner of the shadowless room. Touched it in a gesture of resignation. "I promise," he said, though he did not believe he was heard.
In the hallway, Solo was waiting for him.
"Well, what?" Kuryakin said irritably.
"Did it work? Did he talk?"
"No." Illya said, and took another step down the road paved with good intentions. "No. He did not."