Ashleigh Anpilova


A sequel to Questioning and Keep Out.

Illya has been injured, perhaps fatally. As he sits by his partner's bed, Napoleon realizes he has to tell Illya the truth.

A first time story.

Written: March 2008. Word count: 720.



He sits by the side of his partner's bed, wondering.


Wondering many things.


Will he ever open his eyes again?


Will he live?


Will he die?


Dare he hold his hand?


He's no longer telling him to 'keep out'.


He's no longer telling him anything.


Maybe he never will again.


But he won't believe that.


He can't believe that.


It's too painful.


The doctors say it's down to fate now.




And the patient himself.


They have done everything they can do.


If he is to live, then he much choose to do so.


He's not sure he believes in that kind of thing.


Nonetheless, in his line of work, there are times when even the slightest hint of hope has to be grasped and held onto.


'Talk to him, Mr. Solo', the nurses and doctors have told him. 'Talk to him. We aren't sure what an unconscious patient can hear, or feel'.


Feeling somewhat awkward and a little foolish, he gently picks up the hand that doesn't have medical paraphernalia attached to it.


It's all very well saying 'talk to him', but what does he say?


His mind is empty.


Empty of everything except the truth.


The truth he vowed he'd never tell.


The truth he vowed he'd never tell, because it wasn't wanted.


But it is the only thought in his head.


Carefully he covers the pale, cold hand with his other hand.


He swallows and moistens his lips. "I love you, Illya," he says. "I love you," he says again; it's easier to say the second time.


And then he makes another vow: if Illya opens his eyes. He will say the words again. In their line of work life was far too short to keep such things to oneself.


The worst that could happen was Illya asking for a new partner or a transfer away from America. And if that happened, he'd deal with it. At least Illya would be alive. That was what mattered.


Several days go by.


Several long, endless days, during which he does little but sit by the hospital bed, watching, waiting, holding Illya's hand and talking to him.


Talking to him about anything and everything except for the first thing he said to him.


He never repeats that.


He never alludes to it.


He keeps away from anything even remotely connected to it.


Several more days go by.


And still there is no change.


The doctors say that is a good thing.


He thinks they are just trying to placate him.


Several more days go by.


Mr. Waverly talks about him returning to his duties.


The doctors tell him to continue to talk to the patient.


Several more days go by.


And then several more.


And then.


Today is the day.


The day the doctors say that if he doesn't wake up, he never will.


He doesn't know why they are suddenly saying that.


It seems far too arbitrary to him.


Today is also the day he must cease his vigil and return to his job.


The hour gets late.


It is time for him to go.


Time for him to leave.


His vigil is over.


But first.


But first he leans forward and brushes Illya's hair from his forehead.


Then he leans forward even further and places a gentle, fleeting kiss on the cool, pale forehead. "I love you, Illya," he whispers for the final time.


He sits back in his chair and closes his eyes for a moment.


When he opens them again, he discovers he is being watched.


"Illya?" He stumbles over the three syllables.


And then, as the steady gaze holds his, he remembers. He remembers his vow.


"I love you, Illya," he says. This time he doesn't stumble over the syllables or the words. "I love you," he repeats, squeezing the hand he still holds.


A faint smile touches Illya's lips, a light flush touches the too pale cheeks, and the lightest of grips squeezes his hand in return. As heavy eyelashes flutter down over Illya's eyes, he hears his partner's reply. He isn't at all surprised it is in Russian.


He smiles himself and settles back in his chair.


Everything is all right now.


Illya is now merely sleeping.


He kept his vow.


He confessed the truth.


Now there will be no more 'keep out'.



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