Genre: Man from UNCLE
Rating: PG (for some graphic images)
Word Count: 890
Prompt: "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."(To Kill a Mockingbird)
duckys_lady, thank you for a great quote from one of my favorite books! :D I hope enjoy my efforts. As always, my thanks to sparky955 for her beta!
The task was doomed to fail to begin with. Underneath everything, Illya knew that, but it hadn’t stopped them from trying. He and Napoleon had gone in with the best of intentions. However, the war machine, fueled by THRUSh’s very deep pockets, rolled through the countryside.
Illya made a face at his reflection and tossed aside a wing mirror from the burned-out car and resisted cradling his head. If only his head would stop aching. If only he could find Napoleon. If only reinforcements would arrive. The thoughts kept playing through his mind, nearly incapacitating him with their sheer weight. Yet, somehow, he kept moving.
Taking a cautious breath as to not annoy his bruised ribs any more than he had to, he took another measured step, keeping his attention focused upon the horizon, watching out for enemy forces.
He’d seen so much destruction here that he was fairly numb, at least he was thought he was until he, quite literally, stumbled and fell. The ground was soft and forgiving, or at least that’s what he thought until he realized what had cushioned his fall.
With super human strength, he pulled back, away from the corpse, his lips whispering only half-remembered the prayers his babushka had taught him. The action sent him tripping over another corpse and another… all children, all dead.
When he finally came to a heart-wrenching stop, he was on his hands and knees in the roadside bushes. He vomited what little had gathered in his stomach and wiped his mouth with a tattered shirt sleeve.
That’s when he heard the sound, a peep, just a whisper on the wind, and when he looked he saw two wide, red-rimmed eyes looking back.
“No tengas miedo. Soy un amigo,” Illya mumbled. That had the opposite effect from what he’d hoped for.
“¡Aléjate de mí!”
“I won’t hurt you,” Illya said, in English this time. “Please trust me. I’m hiding, too.” In fact, Illya used that moment to roll from the street into the bushes.
“You’re hiding? But you are one of them.” The boy’s English was halting, but better than Illya’s Spanish at the moment.
“Not quite. I’m one of the people trying to stop them.” A truck full of THRUSH operatives roared by and Illya shielded the boy from view. From the truck, he probably just looked like another corpse.
As they drove out of sight, Illya relaxed slightly and sat up and winced. The vomiting hadn’t done his ribs any favors.
“You are hurt.” The boy’s body language relaxed even while he stared over Illya’s shoulder at the carnage.
“Si.” Illya didn’t look. He knew what was there. “What happened?”
“We were at the school when the fighting started. The older boys joined in, but they told us to take the little ones and get them to…. ¿Cómo se dice la seguridad?”
It took Illya a moment. “Safety?”
“Yes, safety. Our teachers loaded us on a bus and told the driver to get out of town. The bad soldiers, they stopped us and started shooting. That’s when I saw the little puppy. One of them was going to crush his head in and I attacked him. I grabbed the puppy and ran.” The boy stopped and shuddered. It was only then that Illya saw him cradling the little dog. It hadn’t made a sound, it just shook like a leaf.
Illya reached out and stroked an impossibly-soft ear. “It’s all right, little one. You have a brave friend.”
“No, not brave.” The boy sighed. “I ran from them and hid. They shot them all. They are dead because I chose him over them.”
“What is your name? I’m Illya.”
“Illya,” he repeated. “I never heard that name before. I’m Hector.”
“Well, Hector, I think what you did was very brave. I remember reading a book not too long ago. It’s called To Kill a Mocking bird and it tells the story of a young girl and her father. In it, her father defends a man wrongly accused of hurting another girl. When the verdict comes back guilty and the man is killed, the little girl asks why her father defended him. He said,
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
“And that’s what you did. You saw your friends to safety as best you could and then you went to help someone who needed help even more. What about the bus driver?” Illya
“He ran to hide, but they shot him.”
“They would have shot you, too, if you’d stayed with your friends. Do you remember what they look like?”
“Then let’s go find my friends and see what we can do about stopping those bad men.”
“And the puppy?”
Illya smiled and got slowly to his feet. “Bring him along. We need all the help we can get. Shall we be brave together?”
Illya took Hector’s hand and together they started off on their impossible task of finding Napoleon and stopping the THRUSH soldiers. No matter what happened, though, both knew they’d see it to the end.