And Jonathan's soul was knit to David's, and he loved him as himselfI Samuel 18.1

The two men were struggling to reach the crest of the hill, the taller man practically carrying the other smaller one whose dangling right arm dripped a trail of blood behind them. He knew a chopper would be waiting for them up on top, but not here below where it was too dense for a landing. Just a hundred yards and they would be there, if only the relentless pursuers could be outrun. As they headed up and into the last fifty yards, a shot rang out, then another. The ground was taking the brunt of the attack, but the band of Thrush were gaining on them until finally, he saw the outline of the rescue ship and felt the welcome relief of helping hands as he climbed onboard. The pilot lost no time and took off as a foot was still being pulled into the interior. The elegant craft deflected more bullets, but it rose under the whooping rush of the blades, and turned to the east as it continued to climb, leaving behind the remnant of the outpost that the two escaping men had so thoroughly destroyed.

The task was supposed to be less complicated than it sounded. Key word being supposed. As it turned out it was precisely as complicated as it sounded, and the compound had been very nearly impregnable. Napoleon didn't know who had done the advance scout on this, but he hoped to meet up with him soon and give him at least a verbal thrashing. Depending on whether or not his partner lived he might take a more physical approach to his expression of displeasure. His Russian partner was a demolitions expert par excellence. What he had planned on for taking down this Thrush satrapy had been exact, not wanting to carry in more than was necessary. Instead of the central hub that would serve as a catalyst for the entire explosion and destruction of the surrounding area, they found that it was actually in another building, necessitating two explosions rather than one. Illya hadn't brought enough, and he was forced to go looking for additional supplies, thereby increasing their risk of exposure and capture. He had managed to find what he needed, but the extra time involved did indeed create some problems, not the least of which was that some brute of a Thrush guard had shot him before he could disable the man with a sleep dart. That had left him without the use of his right arm. Napoleon had been enlisted then to do a great deal of the explosives handling, something to which he had no objections, but he didn't have quite the finesse of his partner.

Still, they had managed it, setting the first in the primary compound with a timer programmed at ten minutes. That gave them just enough time to hustle to the outer building that housed the laboratory and set that timer for five minutes. Not a lot of leeway when you considered how much running they would have to do in order to clear the area. Once again, a pesky guard had spotted them on their way out and took a shot, naturally, at the blond. Probably thinking he'd just finish him off, he hadn't counted on the now irate Solo, who didn't take kindly to people shooting up his partner. Illya tumbled to the ground as the bullet hammered into his right side, augmenting the blood loss he was already experiencing with the shot to his shoulder.

Napoleon had him scooped up as soon as he took out the guard, then the race was on. They had just cleared the fringe of jungle growth when the explosions starting ripping through the Thrush compound. Chemicals and more explosives added to the thunderous cacophony as the two UNCLE agents headed for cover in the dense vegetation, the bigger man supporting his wounded friend and partner, all the while cursing the lack of good fortune that seemed to constantly mark the now profusely bleeding man. He had to get them both up to the waiting helicopter, Illya had to live through one more round of injuries. He would gladly give his life for this man, and knew if called upon, the reverse was true as well. Whatever linked them, tied them together, it was as tangible as a piece of rope. More than that…they were brothers in a way that most families couldn't even understand. Their bond was beyond words or actions, and he had to get Illya to safety. He had to live.