Tic Tac Toe Tag

Fandom: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Category: gen

Rating: G

Word Count: 883


The wheels on the gurney squeaked as it was pushed through the doorway, banging sharply on the scuffed metal plates. A draft of cold air ruffled the orderly’s dark hair.

“Hey!” the orderly looked up in surprise at the exclamation “Careful there, young man! That is a person on that table… not a bumper-car in a county fair!”

The orderly ducked his head apologetically; his hair fell over one of his eyes. He clumsily maneuvered the gurney across the room and placed it against the wall, beside another table with its own patient, silent occupant.

The coroner was poised over a well-lit table, curved needle gleaming in his fingers trailing a line of silk. “Are you new here?” he squinted up suspiciously at the orderly. “I don’t remember you…” Eyes distorted through bifocals flicked toward the name tag on the orderly’s jacket. “… Leon?”

“On loan from County, sir,” the younger man mumbled. “Heard you were short-handed.”

“Well, there’s no denying I can use the help,” the needle swooped down and up again, and with a complicated dance the final knot was made. “I was just about to start on our next guest. Your fellow will have to wait a bit, I’m afraid.” He paused by the gurney and regarded the shrouded figure soberly.

The sheet covered the body entirely except for the feet; naked and white, a yellow tag tied around the big toe. The doctor flipped it around and read the writing there. He clicked his tongue. “Tch. Horrible penmanship. Must have been written by a doctor, eh?” He chuckled at his own joke.

“Look, if you want to make yourself helpful, put this fellow in number seven while I take a little break. I think I’m gonna need to put a pot of coffee on… it’s going to be a long night.” He didn’t notice that the orderly was holding his breath. “We seem to be rather too popular tonight.”

“Yes, doctor —” As soon as the door swung shut, he leaned over the body on the gurney and spoke.

“Time to stop laying down on the job, Kuryakin.” He grabbed the sheet and tugged it off. “No rest for the wicked.”

“‘Can death be sleep, when life is but a dream?’” A man with blond hair lay on the table, fully clothed in a dark suit except for shoes and socks. He sat up with a smooth motion and untied the tag from around his toe.

Napoleon lifted the sheet covering the face of body on the other gurney. “This isn’t Padgett. Look in the lockers. We need to find him before the coroner gets back.”

“And pray that the efficient doctor hasn’t already done the honours,” his partner added darkly.

A quick search turned up the body of Padgett; late agent of the U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon checked briefly under the sheet. “He is intact,” he said with relief. “We’ll get him back to HQ and Dr. Stevens will be able to administer the drug that will revive him. But his effects are missing. We’ll have to retrieve them, too, Illya.”

“I’ll take care of that tonight. Let’s get him out of the cooler and onto the gurney.” They worked together to swiftly move the body of their brother agent. Illya placed the forged documents on a clipboard and lay it on top of the sheet. “This will get you out past security. Don’t forget to complain loudly to the guard about having to work alone.”

“Don’t I always?” Napoleon smirked when Illya curled his lip at him. He took the tag off of Padgett and handed it to Illya. “Try not to catch cold in there.”

Illya was stripping off his clothes. Across his chest a great puckered Y-shaped scar had been manufactured, complete with sutures. He handed his clothes to Napoleon, and then opened one of the cooler lockers, pulling the slab out and settling himself on the chilly surface. He attached the tag to his toe and then stretched himself out in the long tray.

Napoleon suppressed a wince at the sight. He threw a sheet over his partner’s pale body. “Are you sure you’re not going to freeze in there?”

“I’m sure. The serum that UNCLE has developed will protect me from hypothermia for several hours. And there’s no danger that they’ll try to autopsy me again.” He brushed the prosthetic scars with his fingertips and grinned.

“You look dreadful. Good luck.” Napoleon pushed the tray into the locker and began to close the door, but a hand shot out and stopped him. “What?”

“Next time, you get to play the corpse.”

“But you’re more suited for the role than I am.”

“And why is that?”

“Your Siberian temperament.” Napoleons shushed him as Illya growled a retort. “Doc’s coming back! Play dead!” He closed the door.

Inside the locker was dark as blindness. Illya lay back on the cold metal slab and marveled at the feeling that didn’t chill his skin. “I should get some of this serum for the next time I go home on holiday,” he softly muttered to himself. His skin under the fake scar itched, but he ignored the sensation. The doctor had returned, and the grim work in the morgue continued.

Time to bide, and dream of sleep among the dead.


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