Napoleon came out of the bathroom rubbing his hair dry. The marks of torture were evident on his chest and forehead. Glancing at his partner, he saw something in the Russian’s eyes he had never seen before, self-hatred. Illya quickly turned away from his partner.
“I have put pain pills on the nightstand for you. It will help with what I did to you.” He informed the CEA self-loathing coloring in his voice.
“It isn’t that bad that I need them, beside I already took some aspirin. And it was your job to make it look realistic.” Napoleon said a moan escaping before he could silence it.
“Do not make excuses for me Napoleon. I tortured you and made you beg for it to end. You may ask for a new partner that will protect you not hurt you. I will not give you any difficulty with the request.”
“Now why would I do that? I’m not asking for the change, why would you suggest it?” Napoleon couldn’t understand why Illya wouldn’t take his word for it that he didn’t blame him.
“The man I became for this assignment was evil. I found myself going back to when I was a child and became what I feared and hated. The uniform has always meant superiority, brutality, and authoritative power. I felt that evil influence surging through me when dialing up the power that was flowing through you. You were my victim, and I lost whom I was at that moment.”
“If you didn’t do what you did, we would all have died. I don’t blame you for doing what had to be done so why are you blaming yourself?”
Napoleon picked up the hat to move it off the bed. He looked up in time to notice how Illya took steps back and seemed frightened of it. “It’s only a hat and can’t change whom you are. You seem terrified of it.”
Illya had maneuvered himself into the corner with no place else to escape. His eyes fixed on the hat causing his breathing to become rapid, his body to excessively sweat, and his heart rate to race. Within a few moments, he was huddled on the floor. His face was hidden in his hands.
The American kneel down by his partner, placing his arms around his him.
“What is it tovarisch that’s doing this to you? I’ve seen you not fear death and torture as much as you do this hat.”
Finally speaking lowly he said, “It is a symbol of the evil and hatred that took my family. It destroyed my country and my childhood. And I wore it while……” choking up he could say no more.
Napoleon stood hat in hand and threw it out the window.
“My friend you are not that person that hat represents. It was a role one you didn’t want but accepted because that’s what was expected of you. I’ll see that you never again have to play a role that holds so much pain for you.”
Silently the two partners sat Napoleon’s hand on Illya’s shoulder giving him support while allowing the darkness to overtake the Russian and hide his fears once more.