Memories of being loved were stirring from inside his aching body. He recalled now that in the early morning hours he had awakened to her eyes watching him; recognized in her smile the reflection of his own feelings. They had remained in that afterglow of love making, never leaving the bedroom as though the warmth of those feelings could sustain them indefinitely. Through an open window they had let the sun travel with them as they explored this new love; the clouds offering a wispy palette with which to paint images of days to come.
Sometime during the early evening, he had gotten the call; it was one of the too frequent times he was required to answer to the Soviets in return for the relative freedom he was enjoying in Paris. His contact wanted him to meet at nine o'clock, at the Fountaine du Pot-de-Fer on the rue Mouffetard. It wasn't clear why the meeting was necessary, and he momentarily considered telling the person on the other end that he could not make it, to get someone else. With the girl lying next to him, the desire to stay and finish the evening in her embrace was enough to dissuade him from whatever sense of obligation had followed him here to France.
No. He had to go. There was always the threat of being recalled to Russia, and he could afford to leave her for a few hours rather than forever, which he thought might be required of him should he decline this appointment. She whimpered after him, speaking enticements and endearing phrases, hoping to keep him by her side. Assurances were given of his soon return, a kiss goodbye and then he was off into the night.
When the young blond arrived at his destination, there was not anyone waiting for him. 'How long should I remain here?' the thought ran through his mind, the question leading to the hope that he could return even sooner than he had anticipated. As he considered this, sharp pain resounded throughout his body. Vicious blows were being administered by his attackers, epithets in French and German resounding in his ears against the splashing of the waters in the fountain. No one came to his rescue, and he was so badly outnumbered that his brave attempts at self defense were lost along with consciousness. He fell into a heap, bloodied and cut by a knife blade wielded by one of the thugs. His last thoughts were of her, still waiting for him to return, as he wished that he had never left.
When at last the Soviet agent finally arrived on the scene, the sight of the young man who now lay crumpled at the base of the fountain was shocking even if not a surprise. He couldn't stay and he couldn't help him, such was the state of affairs here in Paris. He knew there were German sympathizers still among the populace, and he reasoned, as he was leaving the scene of this violent attack, that they were responsible. It confirmed his superior's suspicions that there were traitors among their people in the city; the remnant of a faction who hated the communist regime in the Soviet Union from the position of third reich fascism. The Russians had been targeted by this group, and the man he had summoned here was the bait for them. Now the investigation would have a starting point at least. He found a public call box and summoned the police, identifying the victim as a young man, blond, of slight build. They had better send an ambulance.
When Illya Kuryakin awoke it was to the antiseptic smells and white plaster walls of a Paris hospital room. He had some recollection of the violent confrontation at the fountain, more still of the romantic interlude it had interrupted. Too often it was like this, his life in France a surreal departure from the Soviet Navy and life aboard submarines; the intrigue for which he had been trained still a part of his borrowed existence. This was something else, not conscripted yet not completely free. Even the infrequent moments of abandonment from the duties to which he still felt bound were subject to the prejudices and hatred of other warring factions. He was young and yet, so many years had been taken by the state and the old men who held his life in their hands. He was too young to be this tired, but he was; tired of nights that yielded nothing save the throes of a midnight blue, when he felt at the end, and perpetually in league with sadness.
The young Russian winced in recognition of bruised ribs, his face struggling against the resistance he felt from the pillow on which he lay his head. Someday, perhaps…
In his dreams he saw her eyes again, smiling a welcome to his own as she opened her arms to him, encircling his body with loving arms. His dreams would sustain him for now; somewhere lay a future for dreams as yet unknown.