Napoleon Solo cursed Thrush with every ounce of his being as he shut and locked the motel room door. As he turned toward the bed he saw his partner limping toward it. He resisted the urge to grab his arm and help him across the small room. Illya had made it this far under his own waning strength. He would merely shrug off the unwanted assistance, even from his own partner.
Solo had been cut off from his fellow agent on a satrapy raid and had found him in the arms of two beefy thugs, getting the Russian stuffing beaten out of him. The goons had turned their attentions on Solo as he had rushed them, taking the heat off his nearly unconscious friend.
They had thrown Illya into some shipping crates and Solo had registered the sickening thud as Kuryakin hit the wooden and metal boxes and crashed through. There had been no sound from the stoic man as he had been beaten and there was no noise now. Napoleon ignored the concern threatening to erupt as he threw himself into the melee.
His anger stood him in good stead as he connected solidly with Thrush One's jaw. He went down like an elevator. Thrush Two roared and rushed headlong into a foot sweep and a side kick to his gut. He struggled to sit up and Solo helped him to lie down on the job with an uppercut to the head.
Satisfied there was no immediate threat, Solo checked the perimeter quickly and jogged back to Illya. He was annoyingly still and Napoleon gently extricated his partner's limp body from the splinters of wood. Clear of the wreckage, Solo inspected the damage. Cuts and deep scrapes from the boxes, and a lot of lumps from the minions, but nothing looked too severe.
Illya stirred and mumbled and then threw a halfhearted punch toward Solo's nose. The American dodged easily and tapped Illya's cheek gently. "Hey, take it easy. It's me."
The blue eyes opened and tried to focus. Illya groaned once and his head lolled forward. Solo caught him and held him upright. He pulled an ammonia capsule from his pocket and broke it under Kuryakin's nose. "Sorry, buddy, but we need to get out of here in the worst way."
Illya came to quickly; thrashing against Solo's restraining arms. His partner held him fast until awareness seeped into Illya's eyes, and he said quietly, "Napoleon?"
Solo ran the capsule under him one more time. "Geewwww. Knock it off, Napoleon."
Solo smiled at his partner's grumbling and helped him to his feet. "Got your sea legs? We need to travel."
Illya nodded and gently shook off Solo's arm. He swayed once and then set off in the direction of their car. Solo shook his head and followed.
Napoleon went to the bathroom and ran a hot tub of water. Illya would need a good soak and his injuries cleaned. Solo watched him struggle to remove his shoes and went to him, kneeling down to help. "You get in the tub and I'll get the rest of our gear. We can order room service later if you feel up to eating."
Illya merely nodded wearily and Solo began to worry about his condition. He frowned and took a step back, watching Illya as he limped to the bath. Broken ribs and internal bleeding were always concerns. Solo would let him lick his wounds for a bit and then check on his state.
Napoleon went to their car, pulling out two duffle bags and one smaller case. He had watched cautiously for tails and was satisfied they hadn't been followed. He planned on moving out in the morning once he knew better how Illya was faring.
Throwing the heavy bags on the floor of their room, Solo took the smaller bag into the bath. Illya had pulled the shower curtain closed, and Solo sighed. "Illya? How you doing? I need to tend to those cuts."
Kuryakin grunted. "They're minor. I'm fine, Napoleon. Go away."
Solo chuckled silently. He was used to his partner's grace under duress. "You know I'm not going anywhere until I see to them."
A loud, churlish sigh echoed around the small steamy room. "Do you promise to go away afterward?"
"Liar." Square fingers poked out and pulled the curtain back halfway. Solo drew it back the rest of the way.
Illya's head lay on a towel against one end of the tub. His face was swollen and mottled with red bruises just starting to turn purple and blue. The water was blood-tinged from the numerous cuts still bleeding in the hot water's caress. Solo noted a deep one across Illya's left bicep and two more bothersome ones across his left ribcage.
He knelt at the tub's edge and said, "Lean forward. Let me see the damage."
Illya sighed and grunted as his ribs protested the movement. He bit his lip to keep from crying out. Solo winced as he saw the injuries to his back. Deep, red scratches crawled across the pale skin of his upper thoracic area, and bruises abounded across the lumbar area where he'd taken the brunt of the fall.
Solo let him settle back against the tub and asked quietly, "How about your head? Any dizziness? Nausea?"
Kuryakin knew the drill and answered curtly. "No, Napoleon. I do not have a concussion."
Illya dropped his head. The man was incessant. "Sore, but I don't think broken." Illya glared at his partner. "Will you leave me in peace now?"
"In peace or in pieces?" Solo half-joked, but left the room, intentionally leaving the door ajar.
"What if I need privacy?"
Solo snorted. "If you want to do anything in there that requires privacy, you're not as hurt as I thought."
"Cretin," Illya mumbled.
"What was that?"
"Don't mind me; I have a head injury, remember?"
Napoleon laughed and plopped on the bed, leaving Illya to soak and sulk.
Half an hour later, Illya walked gingerly out of the bath and sat on the edge of the bed. "Get on with it," was all he said to the hovering senior agent.
Solo opened the kit and drew out antiseptic spray and some butterfly bandages. He worked on the tender back first, satisfied when Illya's skin was glistening with analgesic. He moved to his side to tend to the cut on his arm. Placing butterflies every half inch or so, he finished by wrapping the injury in clean gauze. The cuts on his rib cage were problematic. "Do you want me to wrap your ribs?"
Illya shook his head and Solo decided a bandage would suffice. After taping it in place, he made a nest of pillows against the headboard and pointed to it. "Rest. Now."
Illya moved stiffly to comply and settled back with a cut-off moan of pain. He turned his head away from Solo and stared out the window into the blackness.
Solo went to the closet and pulled out the extra pillow on the shelf. He wished he could give Illya a pain pill, but knew better when they were on the run. He needed a shower and pulled clean pajamas and toiletries from his bag.
"I'll just be a few minutes. Need anything?" Napoleon was concerned by Illya's pallor and unresponsiveness. The former was unusual but the latter common enough to just be Illya.
The blond head shook 'no' and Solo left him to rest.
When he emerged a bit later, Illya was asleep, propped up by the pillows under his shoulders. Solo dropped into a chair and began a new novel he'd gotten at the last gas station. He wasn't really sleepy and he wanted to keep an eye on Illya before going to bed.
Kuryakin tried to roll on his side and woke abruptly to the flare of pain in his ribs and arm. He groaned softly and struggled to sit up. Solo went to his side and gently helped him up to a more dignified position. Illya pulled away and settled back against the headboard once again.
Napoleon glowered at him. "Illya, I'm not the enemy. You can show pain around me without feeling like it's a weakness. God knows how many times you've been there for me."
Kuryakin said nothing, merely closed his eyes against the pain.
Solo paced at the foot of the bed, openly fuming now. "Dammit to hell, Illya! We've been partners for eight months now. When are you going to let me inside that shell of yours?"
The hurt look on Illya's face softened Solo's attitude. He sighed and ran a hand across his forelock. "Look, I know it isn't easy for you to trust or to let someone get close to you. But you're my partner. Partners take care of each other. You're in pain and the only way I can help is to try and take some of that away. Will you let me?"
Illya squirmed uncomfortably on the bed. He knew he was hurting Solo's feelings, but allowing someone to comfort him wasn't in his makeup. Napoleon constantly tried to get under his skin, and he just as constantly pushed him away. It wasn't personal; Illya was cut from a different cloth.
"At least let me settle you in for the night. I doubt you'll get much sleep, but you have to try." Solo's eyes held Illya's and he saw the Russian blink once. It was as much of a concession as he could make.
This small victory elated Solo, but he let Illya keep his dignity by ignoring it. He casually slipped to Illya's side and rearranged the pillows so he could lie prone. "Would you be more comfortable on your stomach?"
Illya nodded slowly. Speaking was out of the question.
Solo blew air out of his mouth in a quick gust. "All right. Just relax and let me do the work." He tucked the injured arm against Illya's side and then carefully rolled him onto his front. Kuryakin cried into the pillow once, and then was still. His body was taut with pain and embarrassment. To Illya, injury was tantamount to failure, and he despised either in himself.
Napoleon frowned at the state Illya was in. "This won't do. Neither of us will get any sleep at this rate." Solo went to his kit and retrieved a bottle of mineral oil. He knelt on his side of the bed and poured a bit on his hands, rubbing them together to warm the skin. Gently, Solo touched Illya's bunched shoulder, letting him know he was there. "It's all right, Illya. It's me. Please let me help you."
He watched the rigid body shudder as if anticipating torture and tried not to take it personally. "Let me know if I hurt you, okay?"
Illya turned his face into the pillow, trying to detach himself from the procedure. Napoleon began to touch the younger agent, his hands light and soothing. The oil allowed his fingertips to glide across the soft skin, and Solo's strong hands slowly began to knead the tension from the muscles beneath.
Illya was trembling with the touch, his mind recalling many less pleasant sessions with others in authority over him. He did trust Napoleon, but his body remembered even when his mind didn't want to. A low moan escaped him despite efforts to hold it in.
Solo stopped immediately. "Illya? Did I hurt you?"
The fair head shook 'no.' "I...I'm trying, Napoleon," whispered faintly from his lips. He still shook with tremors.
Solo eased down the shoulders and began on the trunk area. Avoiding the injured spots, he kept the pressure firm and impersonal, like a trainer with his favorite athlete.
"I know, partner, I know. Ease up, now. Come on, relax. You can do it. Take a deep breath." Illya complied. "Now let it out slowly and relax while you do so."
As his partner exhaled, Solo pushed against the intercostals, forcing the air from Illya's lungs. He sighed in relief, and then took another breath.
Napoleon smiled. "There you go. Do that again."
They began a give and take then, Illya doing his best to relax the muscle groups Solo worked. Thirty minutes into the massage, Illya was nearly limp and Solo savored his hard won victory. Ten minutes more and Napoleon felt Illya slip into an exhausted sleep, his body relaxed and his mind at peace with his partner's touch.
The senior agent carefully rolled off the bed, covered Illya with the comforter and slipped into the bed from the other side. He watched him sleep for a moment, grinned and said, "See? Nothing to it, Illya. Good night, partner."
He was deeply asleep in seconds.
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