THE DEEPEST SCARS OF ALL
Illya is in hospital and unconscious from a series bullet wound. As Napoleon keeps watch over his partner, he muses that whilst all U.N.C.L.E. agents have scars, it is not the physical ones that really matter.
An established relationship story.
Written: August 2005. Word count: 1,182.
All U.N.C.L.E. agents have scars; it goes with the job. In fact I occasionally even think it's part of the job description. There are too many people out there whose answer to anything is a gun, or a knife, or some other kind of weapon.
I sometimes think that after the first half dozen bullets have been removed, or wounds sewn up, that we no longer really feel them, react to them, are bothered by them. It's just another trip to the Infirmary, or if we're not in New York, the local hospital. I won't say we get blasť about them, but rather in the way a Medical Examiner gets used to seeing what man can and does do to man, we U.N.C.L.E. agents get used to adding another scar to our collection.
However, the physical scars are not the ones that matter - not really. The scars that matter, the ones that can and do destroy us, are the other kind. The emotional ones. The ones that we hide from the world, the ones we keep locked away in a deep, dark place within us. The ones that cause us more pain, and do more damage than even the fiercest of bullets. The ones that we can't or won't talk about.
Some of us have more and deeper scars than others. Ones that have been collected over an entire lifetime, not just during our time in U.N.C.L.E. And these are the ones that are the hardest to heal, and the most dangerous of all.
Yours, partner mine, go deeper than anyone else's. They wound you even more violently; cut into you so viciously, that I am often surprised you can bear the pain. And yet you do. You are the strongest man I have ever known, and yet in some respects your strength is also a weakness. It's the one thing, other than my untimely death, that I fear might, my love, destroy you one day.
You have built a wall around you, so strong and unbreachable that only the most foolhardy would try to crumble it. I'm one of those fools - in fact the only one. I looked into those big eyes of yours and I saw beneath the iceberg you had erected. The eyes that show nothing to the world unless you want them to. The ones that simultaneously shoot fire and ice. The ones that have caused many a THRUSH agent to be reduced to a gibbering wreck.
The eyes that to me are as open as a book, because with me you never hide your feelings or emotions. To me the eyes that can go from a steely grey to the deepest cobalt blue, depending on your mood, are as easy to read as a child's book. And yet it's a book that has several pages missing. I see the pain; the scars; the things you wish to keep hidden. But I cannot see what the scars are; what has caused the pain; what exactly it is that you wish to keep hidden.
That hurts me sometimes. After all we're been friends and partners for over twelve years, and lovers for ten. I would have hoped that you would share your ghosts with me, just as I've shared mine with you. But maybe your inability to do that is one of your scars. All I can do is to hope that one day it won't cut you so deeply, that there is no way you can recover.
Once again you're in the Infirmary with a gunshot wound - an exceptionally deep one this time. So deep that I came very close to losing you. In fact you did die on the operating table, just for a few seconds. But those seconds were the longest of my life.
The wound is a chest wound and the doctors had to do nearly as much damage as the bullet itself did in their frantic attempts to remove it and revive you. So there will be more red marks and puckered skin to mar your otherwise ivory body. Another bump for me to run my fingers over, caress, touch, and kiss.
You've never asked me why I spend so much time charting each of your scars when we make love, because I know you know the answer. To feel them, to kiss them, to caress them, proves to
me that you are alive and still with me.
So I shall sit by your side, holding your hand, stroking your hair, murmuring non-stop nonsense, until you decide to open your eyes and smile up at me. I've had enough practice over the years of doing this; I'm quite the expert. The medical staff learned years ago that it was pointless trying to persuade me to move, to go home, to sleep, to rest - and they have now given up trying.
Mind you, I confess I never resorted to pulling my gun on them, just to get them to see my point
of view. But then words have always come more easily to me than to you. I can use my charm and powers of persuasion as effectively as you use your gun, so I suppose it was only natural that the day came when you resorted to that tactic. Not that you would have used it. I know that; Mr. Waverly knows that; the medical staff knows that. Or at least Mr. Waverly and the medical staff know it. Occasionally in a really dark, deep moment when I'm beyond being tired or worried, I do wonder if maybe, just maybe . . . But those moments always pass in a heartbeat.
Stroking your physical scars, loving them, helping them heal is simple - it's something else I've become skilled at doing, well I've had to. For someone so able, brilliant, and good at his job, and with weapons of his own, you have a remarkable penchant for getting hurt.
However, it's the other scars that I wish I could help you heal. The ones that I wish I could take the pain away from. The ones I wish I knew about; truly knew about. The ones that keep you awake from time to time. The ones that haunt your dreams and keep me awake watching over you. The ones that maybe one day, in another dozen years or so, you will let me share.
In the meantime I shall do as I have done for the past decade and a bit, and just be here for you. Watching, waiting, and willing. Taking care of you, as you take care of me. Healing the visible, and trying to heal the invisible.
I'm going to turn down the light now, just a little, and close my own eyes. But I shan't sleep, my love, not really sleep. I'll be here watching, waiting, and willing, for when you are ready to come back to me, which won't be long. I know you too well to know that you'll let me wait for longer than is necessary for your body to begin to heal.
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