It's sort of difficult to do justice to what I'm trying to convey here, but there's something that needs to be stated, just for the record.

I like to watch my partner do things like eat and sleep. I know, it sounds odd, and it has nothing to do with anything more intriguing than my fascination with how people enjoy life.

Me, I like to touch and be touched. I love women, and all that it implies to love them. From a distance, up close and personal… I admit to being hopelessly romantic and full of hope concerning each one I meet. Call me careless, or sexy. They're sort of the same thing.

But, my partner …

I like to watch him eat, because no one does it with more gusto and verve than this hungry Russian can do it. When he eats, his soul is on view. His expression is usually resplendent with the joy of his endeavors. I've seen women practically swoon while watching him; his lips glistening with the residue of whatever has just passed between them.

It's really quite a sight… the women, that is. Oh, Illya looks good when he eats. It's an amazing thing to consider, that a man can look so decidedly attractive (to the opposite sex, mind you), while he's chewing on a piece of chicken. I think it must be the unbridled pleasure he exudes while doing it. Women are suckers for that kind of thing. Oh, and I mean that with all due respect.

The other thing Illya does with complete abandon is sleeping. The first time I walked into a shared room with my then new partner, and caught him sound asleep on the bed we were supposed to share, I couldn't help but notice how he sort of embraced that entire piece of furniture. I say embrace because he pretty much took up the entire bed, situated as he was square in the middle of it.

His right arm was beneath the pillow where he could keep it on his gun, and his left arm clutched a pillow with what appeared to be a sort of affectionate hug. His legs were tucked into an almost fetal pose, but not quite that childish. He seemed ready to spring into action, the bend in his knees more akin to a running start than a sleeping position.

His face was a combination of restful repose and sly seduction. Even I could tell that a woman's first instinct would be to kiss his eyelids, they were that inviting and…well, damn it, provocative.

Oh, and did I mention he was stark sterling naked? Yeah, he enjoys sleeping in as little as possible. I guess being in the Russian navy, on a sub no less, sort of cured him of any modesty that might hinder us mere mortals.

When you practically live with someone, never mind coming close to death on occasion in the line of duty, you do become very familiar with him. I know what makes him mad, and I'm pretty good at eliciting the all too infrequent smile. Sometimes, Illya laughs in his sleep.

More often it's a nightmare; whether from our encounters with evil while we're fulfilling our job description (saving the world), or if it's the left over trauma of a war torn childhood, I can't say. I mean, I literally can't tell you, because it would be a betrayal of confidences. I, of course, can tell what gives birth to his dreams.

Well, that's really all I had on my mind. I've never had a friend like my Russian partner. He's become my brother as well as friend. In fact, I'm pretty sure he's what the writer meant when he said:

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

That's us. Whether we're on the move, sleeping or saving each other's life, we're brothers by choice.

Always.