Kith and Kin

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Based on an original series and alternate future by Sonny & Ais called In the Company of Shadows.

The story contains..

Slash (M/M), het (M/F) and graphic language, violence and sexual situations. Not intended for anyone under 18!


Book One: Evenfall See Evenfall chapter list.

Book Two: Afterimage
See Afterimage chapter list.

Interludes list

Book Three: Fade
See Fade chapter list.


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Kith and Kin

Interlude 3.5

Uploaded on 6/21/2009

The sound of water lapping against the side of the tub was continuous as muted light from the setting sun cast golden rays on the two figures.

Kassian's eyes were closed, his lips parted as he arched his back and gripped either side of the old-fashioned white clawfoot tub, each knee spread apart and thrown over the sides to give Boyd easier access.

Kassian's blond eyebrows drew together as a hiss escaped his mouth, breath hitching as Boyd knelt before him in the water, sliding his fingers inside Kassian's ass and crooking them slightly to massage the other man's prostate.

"Fuck," Kassian groaned, his voice low and deeper than usual as Boyd milked his prostate with obvious talent, causing shocks of pleasure to radiate throughout Kassian's body. Kassian's cock was painfully swollen and already seeping pre-come from just moments of Boyd touching the sensitive spot.

"I told you it'd be good," Boyd murmured, his honey brown eyes darkened with lust, his mouth twisted slightly in a nearly smug smirk as Kassian released another helpless moan.

Although sex with Kassian was amazingly satisfying, Boyd found that he still missed being able to fuck someone-- to pound into them and come hard and intensely. It was a frustrating aspect of their arrangement considering the fact that Kassian also refused to give oral sex.

Boyd had gone into it knowing full well Kassian's stance on the subject and so he hadn't pushed it. That is, until Kassian had commented on how good Boyd's tight ass felt around his cock.

From there Boyd had idly mentioned the idea of him getting to fuck Kassian's tight ass for once. He'd never expected Kassian to agree but Boyd had idly queried how Kassian knew he wouldn't like it if he'd never tried. He'd gone on to ask if Kassian ever wondered why a man would scream with such pleasure from being fucked-- Didn't it ever make him curious to see what it felt like?

Weeks of going back and forth on the subject had passed before Kassian even considered the idea of being on the receiving end of anal sex-- which for some reason he was more comfortable with than oral sex.

Even then, Kassian had changed his mind at the last minute, leaving Boyd frustrated sexually, although they'd taken care of that after a few moments of bickering. In the end, Kassian had appeared to feel genuinely guilty over his refusal to reciprocate things sexually for Boyd and he'd agreed to at least 'try it out.' As in, get a taste of what it could feel like if he let Boyd take his ass every now and again.

So here they were.

Kassian's breathing was labored as Boyd positioned his index and middle fingers into a hooked position, stimulating each side of the other man's prostate with circular rubbing motions that caused Kassian to swear loudly, his eyes rolling back in his head.

Kassian's toes curled up, knees locking around each side of the tub as the sound of his deep moans joined the continuous lapping of water and echoed in the large, tiled bathroom. One of his hands released the tub and moved towards his cock, red and hard and pulsating between his legs, but Boyd used his free hand to capture Kassian's wrist.


Kassian growled loudly, his lips pulling back over grit teeth, and he shook his head back and forth even as Boyd began moving his fingers a little faster, although he didn't increase the pressure.

"I need--" Kassian choked out, his eyes opening into slits as his breath came out in harsh sobs. "Oh, fucking Christ, I can't--"

Boyd licked his lips, ignoring the desire to touch his own dick as Kassian's entire body tensed, every muscle rock hard and rigid, his face amazing as he got completely lost in ecstasy.

"Ahhh, ahh, oh... Boyd, fucking--"

The doorbell abruptly rang, causing Boyd to jump slightly, completely caught off guard by the sound. He paused in his motions to look over at the window but Kassian shook his head back and forth wildly.

"Don't stop," he pleaded, his voice twisted with agony, his face flushed with pleasure and the heat of the steam from the water.

Boyd nodded, moving his fingers again, ignoring the bell as it rang again, moving his hand faster as Kassian arched his back out of reflex. His moans became more frenzied-- louder and more frequent--


"Fuck, make me come, make me come--" Kassian chanted in a low, pleading voice; breathless and desperate.

The person at the door put their hand against the doorbell and kept it there this time-- a long, unending shrill ring that irritated Boyd enough to cause his own erection to wilt even as he continued to finger fuck Kassian.

"Fuck yes," Kassian groaned. "Oh-- Ohh... Oh fu--"

Kassian came hard, violently, without even touching his cock. Streams of semen erupted from his throbbing erection, spraying all over his chest and the tub as Kassian collapsed against the side to groan helplessly.


The shout was so unexpected that Boyd was startled again. His gaze ripped away from Kassian's reddened and dazed face to look out the window even though all he could see was the sky from his angle. The voice didn't sound familiar to him at all.

"What?" Kassian asked, completely out of it and confused as he stared at Boyd blearily.

"Are you expecting someone?" Boyd asked, eyebrows drawing down slightly.

Kassian licked his lips, absently washing his chest off with the water and he sat up, his skin squeaking against the tub loudly. "What? No."

He pulled himself out of the tub entirely, his bare wet feet padding across the tiled floor to the small window near the sink. He looked out and down and froze. "Fuck!"

"What?" Boyd asked, starting to stand.

Kassian pushed himself away from the window and began looking around the bathroom in something very close to panic before he grabbed a towel. "My fucking parents are here."

"What?" Boyd's eyebrows shot up incredulously and he immediately looked for a towel too. "I thought they lived in California."

"They came to visit the goddamn memorial mound in Philly," Kassian growled, grabbing his underwear from the floor and swearing under his breath. "I completely forgot."

The doorbell rang again, over and over.

"My sisters are here too," Kassian grumbled, going into the master bedroom hurriedly.

Boyd immediately dried off and followed Kassian, searching for his clothes quickly. He found his underwear and pulled it on then grabbed his pants. He knew Kassian's family didn't have a clue that Kassian was bisexual and that Kassian wanted to keep it that way.

"What do you want me to do?" he asked, pulling his hair back and wishing it wasn't damp. Of all the days to be messing around in the damn water... "Should I go out the back?"

"Fucking motherfuck," Kassian was saying as he yanked on a pair of loose black pants. His eyes were darting around quickly as he chewed on his lower lip.

"Kassian," Boyd said firmly, pausing after he pulled his shirt on as he watched Kassian intently.

"What?" Kassian demanded, looking at Boyd finally.

"What do you want me to do?" Boyd repeated, the edge leaving his voice now that he had Kassian's attention. His honey brown eyes were serious as he studied Kassian.

"Fuck." Kassian headed to the bathroom door, scowling darkly. "Just... dry off and try to look like we weren't just fucking around. Knowing my youngest sister she's running all over the property looking for Peaches-- if she sees you slinking out it'll just be fucking stranger."

He disappeared out the bedroom door and then backtracked, looking back in. "Don't come down right after I open the door."

"I'll wait a few minutes," Boyd said with a nod, already looking for a hair band he knew he'd thrown off at some point.

Kassian left without another word and Boyd tried to quickly dry off his hair even more but he knew it wasn't going to help much. He finally found the hair tie and pulled his hair back into a pony tail as best he could, but with his stylized haircut most of it fell forward regardless.

His eyes narrowed and he couldn't help feeling a twinge of disquiet over the entire situation; he didn't know how this was going to play out but he doubted it would go well. He wished Kassian had remembered ahead of time so they could have avoided this all; not that he blamed Kassian but the last thing he wanted to do was cause any problems for his friend and he wasn't sure how to go about this.

He'd never really been around normal families, especially large ones, so it seemed awkward enough on its own without the fact that he'd just been finger fucking their closeted son in the bathroom. At least he knew enough about Kassian's family to hopefully try to minimize any damage. He quickly ran over what he knew of them, reminding himself of their names and the little Kassian had mentioned of their personalities.

He waited several minutes, trying to straighten and clean up as best he could. When it seemed like an appropriate amount of time had passed, he slipped out the door and strained his ears to hear the conversation as he approached the stairs. It didn't sound like anything terribly traumatic was happening other than Kassian's father, Maxim, was annoyed that Kassian had forgotten the memorial.

Boyd kept his expression mildly curious as he walked down the stairs, his shoulders loose and body language more bored than anything. He noticed Kassian's youngest sister, Courtney, clinging to Kassian's side with a huge grin while Kassian's mother was digging through a duffel bag. The entire family was blond-haired and blue-eyed with the exception of Audrey, Kassian's mom, who had mouse brown curly hair.

Boyd's gaze swept through room and fell on a girl who looked a few years younger than he was, with dyed jet black hair, a hoop through her nose, blood red lipstick and stars tattooed behind her ear. Judging from her appearance and the fact that Kassian had told Boyd in the past that his middle sister was a bit of a rebel with an attitude problem, Boyd suspected that was probably Kimberly. He didn't see Kassian's other sister Leighton but he assumed she was somewhere around.

He could tell from afar that they all seemed pretty tall; even the women looked like they would be around his height. And when Maxim looked over, Boyd could see where Kassian had gotten his good looks; Kassian's father was tall, well-built, and had those same attractive features. When most of Kassian's family noticed Boyd, they looked surprised, but Boyd didn't speak immediately, letting Kassian decide how he wanted to go about this.

"Oh, I forgot to mention--" Kassian started, not attempting to detach Courtney from his side although he looked uncomfortable with her closeness, likely because he'd just been having sex. "This is Boyd, he's staying with me for a few days."

Kimberly stared at Boyd blankly, here eyes moving up and down him with suspicion before her blue eyes swept back over to her brother.

Maxim turned to Boyd with interest and Audrey stood up.

"Hello, Boyd," Maxim said.

"Hi," Boyd said with a smile. He pretended he didn't notice Kimberly's reaction, although at least Maxim seemed friendly enough. "I'm sorry to interrupt... I just got curious when I heard noises."

"It's a pleasure to finally meet one of Kassian's friends," Audrey said, moving forward to shake Boyd's hand. "I'm Audrey, this is my husband Max."

She released Boyd's hand after a moment, smiling warmly before turning to indicate her daughters. "My little one--"

"I'm not little!" Courtney protested even as she pressed her cheek against Kassian's chest, appearing to be very hesitant to release him.

"Is Courtney-- the sullen brat over there is Kim, and my oldest is Leighton but she was desperately in need of urination so--"

"Mom!" Kassian gave his mother a mildly embarrassed look, shaking his head. "You're ridiculous."

"Oh it's okay, Kass," a voice rung out and Boyd looked at the entrance to the kitchen to see a tall blond woman entering the room. She looked only a few years younger than Kassian; she was incredibly beautiful and incredibly pregnant.

Leighton patted her round belly and gave Boyd a wan smile. "Lots of peeing comes with the job. Hi. I'm Leighton."

"Nice to meet you." Boyd's smile widened as he glanced down at her belly. "Congratulations, by the way. How far along are you?"

"Eight months," Leighton breathed, rubbing her stomach even as she rolled her eyes. "I can't wait. I feel like a hot air balloon. This is my third and I still can't get used to feeling this way."

"Yeah," Audrey agreed, nodding and winking at Boyd. "The problem with female fertility being affected by radiation obviously didn't affect the Trovosky family."

"I bet you wish it did," Kimberly muttered quietly but no one really acknowledged her except for Kassian, who narrowed his eyes slightly.

Boyd grinned at Audrey, deciding once again to seem as though he hadn't noticed Kimberly. "What about the genders?" he asked, looking toward Leighton curiously. "Are you batting mostly girls so far or did you mix it up for the next generation?"

"This one is a boy," Maxim said proudly, walking over to put an arm around his oldest daughter's shoulder. "I look forward to having a grandson."

"I bet you do, since your real son is never around," Kimberly sniped from the side.

This time Kassian's expression switched into a full on glare. "Why don't you keep your mouth shut for a change?"

"Yeah!" Courtney agreed, glaring at her sister as she finally detached herself from Kassian. She'd gone from looking sweet and innocent to pissed off in moments.

"'Yeah!'" Kimberly mimicked, rolling her eyes at her youngest sister. "You're such an idiot. We're not in cheerleading practice, you know. Next thing we know you'll be jumping up and down and kicking up your legs like you do for all the football players at school."

Courtney tensed up and balled her hands into fists. "Maybe I should just kick your ass?"

"Girls!" Audrey glared at her daughters. "Save it. Don't embarrass your brother in front of his friend."

Kimberly's scathing gaze settled on Boyd again and she said shrewdly, "Why are you both damp, anyway? Were you taking a shower together?"

This time it was Leighton who transformed into pissed-off Trovosky mode and she strode across the room, grabbing her younger sister's arm violently and dragging her into the kitchen as Kimberly whined pitifully. Maxim followed shortly after, a deep scowl on his handsome face.

Boyd gave Kimberly a bewildered look as she was being dragged away, as if it had never even occurred to him for anyone to assume such a thing. "Well, Kassian just added a pool heater, so--"

"Don't even dignify my daughter's bullshit with an explanation," Audrey cut him off, shaking her head and crouching down to dig through the bag again as Kassian shot Boyd a grateful look. "She's the most bitter eighteen-year-old I've ever met."

"Welcome to my generation," Courtney said, rolling her big blue eyes. She was the exact contrast of Kimberly with pink lip gloss, a fluttering skirt and perfectly styled blond curls. "More than half the kids at our school are like that. They weren't even around to remember what it was like before the war but they still act like it all defines their being and stuff."

"It'll probably be that way for awhile," Boyd said with a shrug, thinking briefly that it was strange how different the sisters were. It almost put him in mind of Harriet and Emma; two polar opposites, although strangely enough, the two level 9 agents seemed to get along far better than the siblings did.

"I was born a few days before the war first hit so when I was growing up, most of us were still dealing with losing parents and wondering why the sky wasn't blue anymore. It made a lot of people bitter." Boyd said it idly, nothing in his tone to indicate how difficult growing up in that time had been for some people. "But every generation has something that defines it, so even if the war hadn't been there I'm sure something else would've come up."

Courtney nodded, looking at him intently with her expressive blue eyes, absently reaching up to smooth back her hair. "That's true..."

Kassian raised an eyebrow at his sister and smirked just as his mother stood up finally with a triumphant, "Ah ha!"

"I found it," she said, beaming up at Kassian.

"What are you even looking for?" he asked warily.

Audrey brandished a picture at him. "Her name is Laura, she's my co-worker's daughter and--"

"Oh for God's sake." Kassian turned and walked into the kitchen in exasperation as his mother followed him, describing the woman with determination.

Courtney laughed and looked at Boyd, still playing with her hair. "She's been trying to get him remarried for the past five years."

"Does she screen the potentials first or is she just grabbing whatever cute woman she sees?" Boyd grinned jokingly.

Courtney giggled and moved closer to him, crossing her arms over her stomach and subtly checking him out. "She's really picky. She loved Kelly so like, my mom has super high standards for a replacement."

"That might be tough, then," Boyd said easily with a shrug. It was pretty obvious that Courtney liked him but he decided not to react to it either way unless she became overt.

He found it interesting that Audrey had apparently liked Kelly, since Boyd had always gotten the impression from Kassian that Kelly had been rather high-maintenance and superficial. Then again, Audrey hadn't been living with Kelly so who knew, maybe the woman had been different around her in-laws. Still, Audrey seemed like a nice woman so he wondered what it was about Kelly that she'd liked.

"Yeah. I mean-- I was like seven at the time but Kelly was super sweet," Courtney said, looking mournful. "Whenever she was around she'd talk about how she couldn't wait to have a daughter so she'd be like me. I liked her a lot..."

Courtney trailed off with a deep shrug and peered after her family, whose voices were spilling out of the kitchen and into the living room.

Boyd absently looked toward the kitchen, finding the difference to be odd between what he'd heard of Kelly from Kassian, to what Kassian's family apparently had thought of her. "Do you like your brother-in-law?" he asked curiously. "Assuming Leighton's married, anyway."

"Billy's okay, I guess," Courtney replied with a shrug. She opened her mouth to add something but glanced down the hall first before adding quietly, "He and Kassian don't really like each other though. I'll tell you all about it sometime," she promised with a big grin.

Mildly intrigued, Boyd raised his eyebrows but just nodded. She headed toward the kitchen and he followed.

Kimberly was notably absent from the room as Leighton and Audrey appeared to prepare dinner they'd brought for Kassian. They were talking quietly to each other and opening tupperware containers as Maxim looked at Kassian sternly.

"I don't understand why it is that you never manage to attend the memorial with us. They're your family just as much as ours-- I can't even remember the last time you showed your face in Philadelphia."

Kassian leaned against the kitchen wall, his muscular arms crossed over his tattooed chest as he stared at his father evenly. "I've explained it to you so many times-- why do we have to talk about it again?"

"Because this year you didn't even remember," Maxim barked, scowling at his son and leaning forward to jab a finger at him. "You're so devoted to your duty at that piece of shit Murphy Corps--"

Maxim halted and looked at Boyd briefly before switching to rapid-fire Russian, his tone growing angrier as he unleashed a frustrated tirade onto his son. Courtney looked between her father and brother with obvious distress, chewing on her lower lip before focusing on Kassian's blank look of indifference.

Kassian was so respectful around his superiors at the Agency that Boyd would have expected him to be the same with his father. But Kassian just looked at Maxim as though they were strangers-- as though Maxim's anger and disappointment didn't affect him one way or the other. The oddest part was that Kassian didn't even appear malicious or annoyed by the lecture-- he just looked as though he was allowing it go in one ear and out the other.

"Max, do you really need to do this now?" Audrey interrupted, looking embarrassed for her family and for the fact that Boyd was witnessing back-to-back arguments.

Maxim continued to glare at Kassian from under his blond eyebrows before stepping back, turning his head to the side. "I suppose not."

There was a tense silence that Kassian didn't even try to break. He just stared at his family blankly, all traces of his normal behavior all but gone.

"So Boyd, tell me about yourself," Audrey said finally after Maxim settled down onto one of the stools at the counter with a sigh. She poured some kind of sauce into a pot and flicked on the electric burner.

Boyd walked over to sit on one of the stools as well, leaning against the counter as he glanced briefly at Kassian then focused on Audrey. She looked completely comfortable in the kitchen and he found himself wondering what it would have been like to have a mother who seemed kind and approachable; who would mediate between arguments and who would even take the time to make food with the family.

He was completely unaccustomed to being around families-- normal families with more than a single dysfunctional parent. The Krauszers were the closest he'd ever been to seeing a more relaxed family and even they had been atypical, with Lou's parents absent a lot like Boyd's had been, and a nanny left behind to fill the gap.

As he sat there in the room with Kassian's family, he wished he could have grown up in such a setting. Despite the fact the Trovoskys had argued a few times, that meant nothing to Boyd since they kept coming back together. And the fact they were arguing meant at least they were still talking, still interacting, regardless of if they agreed. Even Kimberly, who didn't seem to get along with everyone else, seemed to have a place in the family.

He wished he could have experienced that when he'd grown up; wished he could have woken up to a house with a mother who would actually smile and speak with him rather than disappear for years and then use, ignore, or lecture him if she had to be in his presence. Lou had been as close to a brother as Boyd had ever known but now he found himself wondering what it was like to have actual siblings; what it would have been like to have a sister. To have nieces or nephews and an extended family.

It was a foreign concept to Boyd but he still couldn't help thinking how nice it would have been to have had that, rather than to have felt alone and isolated for much of his life.

"What do you want to know?" he asked curiously.

"How do you and Kassian know each other?" Audrey asked, wiping her hands on a towel before moving to turn on the oven. "Do you work together?"

Maxim looked at Boyd closely as if he was very curious about the answer.

"Sort of," Boyd said, hooking his feet behind the bars on the stool and watching Audrey idly. He rested his forearms on the counter and leaned forward. "I'm a lab assistant at Johnson's so sometimes I see Murphy Corps around, like when we have huge shipments or something big is happening."

Ever since Boyd had started running into civilians when he spent time with Kassian, he'd realized the importance of having what amounted to a fake identity. Months ago, he'd gone through Admin to receive an official cover story and Johnson's Pharmaceuticals ID that stated he was a lab assistant with the company.

At one point he'd even spent time researching the position in the real Johnson's Pharmaceuticals factories, figuring out what he would need to know for his cover story should anyone ever question him on specifics. Although he could have said he was in Murphy Corps, he felt that he just didn't look the part enough; it would have been something that stood out to people when he told them and they probably would have asked a lot more questions. The best cover story was one that was believable and easily dismissed.

"Oh, that's interesting," Audrey said, looking up at him with a half-smile. "How did you and Kass cross paths?"

"Yeah." Leighton looked at Boyd, seeming genuinely curious. "What made you and my big bro meet in the first place? I thought all the Murphy guys did over there was stand around and make sure nobody goes in to hijack all of the drugs."

"That's mostly the case," Boyd agreed with a nod. "Honestly, I didn't pay much attention to them most of the time since they didn't have anything to do with the labs. But I had a friend who worked transport--"

Boyd paused and glanced toward Kassian almost self-consciously before he frowned and looked at Leighton and Audrey. "Well... We're really not supposed to talk about things much, since they're super paranoid and think somehow in normal conversation the formula secrets will get out or the place will be compromised or who knows what. So I guess first as a disclaimer, don't tell anyone I told you this?"

The family members exchanged looks as Kassian raised an eyebrow at Boyd, smirking discreetly as if he was wondering what story Boyd had manufactured so quickly.

"We won't say anything," Courtney promised quickly. "So you better tell us 'cause Kassian won't for sure."

"Well," Boyd said slowly, glancing between them before he straightened his back and seemed to get into the story more. "So the way it works, we have what we call runs... It's when we're transporting shipments of drugs to the distribution centers or wherever they're going. But that's pretty dangerous with the way things are now, because even though the vehicles are reinforced, sometimes people will lie in wait and attack. So that's one of the main reasons Johnson's contracts Murphy Corps, to help with higher level protection."

"My son has mentioned this," Maxim commented with a nod, picking up the beer that Kassian was silently and knowingly setting on the counter for his father.

Boyd nodded. "The thing is-- I had a friend who worked in transport, Eddie, and they get all sorts of training for what they do that obviously we wouldn't in the lab, and I thought it sounded pretty cool. I used to bug him about it all the time until I finally convinced him to let me go with on a run. Even though," he added, looking mildly chagrined, "technically I wasn't supposed to. But we figured it wouldn't be a big deal, it's not like things usually go wrong, and his immediate supervisor was our friend so we finagled an okay out of him."

Courtney sat down at the kitchen table and looked at Boyd, her expression rapt even though the story wasn't even very exciting at the moment. Kassian and Leighton exchanged knowing looks as Courtney nodded at Boyd encouragingly.

"Kassian and some other guys from Murphy Corps were with us and I wasn't really paying attention to them. But then about halfway to the distro center, we suddenly got attacked. There was this just-- huge explosion, and the vehicle in front of us was suddenly in flames and we didn't know what the hell was happening. And then all these bullets were flying everywhere and our driver got killed and I could hear some people in back screaming and suddenly going silent."

Boyd drew his eyebrows down and let his eyes fall shut a little more than usual; he affected a troubled expression to show that he was still disturbed by the memory. Or would have been, if it hadn't all been a lie he'd formulated a few minutes ago. All he knew was, as soon as he'd seen Maxim upset about Murphy Corps, he'd wanted to give the man a reason to feel proud of his son for even one small thing, regardless of if the situation was fictitious.

With the extreme secrecy of the Agency, Kassian would never be able to tell his family of the things he'd done that had been good; he'd never be able to tell stories of when he'd chosen his morals over an assignment, or say that he was generally regarded as one of the most professional and best agents in the Agency. Neither of them would be able to explain that he'd once saved the life of the person Boyd loved.

Still, Boyd could at least give them a story that would show his friend in a good light.

"So Kassian saved you?" Courtney breathed, glancing between her brother and Boyd.

Maxim looked at his son briefly, a frown on his handsome face before he turned his gaze back onto Boyd.

"Yeah, he did," Boyd said seriously. "I would have died. I didn't know what to do-- I was so scared, I wasn't thinking. Eddie got shot right next to me and when I couldn't get him to move, I had some crazy idea that if I ran away, I'd be safe or get help or... I don't know what. I think I was afraid our vehicle would get bombed too and I'd die. So I started to leave but Kassian yanked me back and shut the door before all these bullets hit the side. I could hear them denting the metal like it was tinfoil. Then he and the other Murphy Corps people started returning fire, and he held me down the whole time to make sure I'd be alright. It made it a lot easier, like-- like someone knew what they were doing. I was terrified but he was super calm and I knew if I just followed his lead, I'd make it out okay."

"Wow!" Courtney sat up straight, her blue eyes round as she gazed at Boyd. "I would have been so terrified!"

"Me too," Audrey agreed as Leighton nodded her head vigorously, frowning over at Kassian as if she'd never realized how dangerous working at JP could actually be for him.

Maxim's eyes dropped to the counter top and a guilty shadow crossed his face before he shot Kassian a wry smile. "And here I was, talking poorly about your job."

Kassian just shrugged, his eyes on Boyd as his mouth twitched up into a small grin. "Mmhmm."

"It's just that--" Maxim broke off and turned to Boyd as if he wanted to defend himself and his opinions in the face of such a heroic story. "All the time in the papers and on the news-- especially during and right after the war even though you're all mostly too young to remember, we'd hear about these Murphy Corps guys who were contracted to do things overseas. And there's all of these scandals, all of these stories about the aggressive force they used-- their quick triggers, even civilians caught in the crossfire--"

"If they were that bad," Audrey interrupted reasonably as she sorted through a cabinet of unused pots to find whatever kind she needed, "our Kassian wouldn't work for them. He's a very honorable young man."

"Yes," Courtney agreed enthusiastically. "He just wants to save everyone, that's all. Like he told us he joined Murphy 'cause of the fact that he'd get to be in the heart of the action, right on the frontlines instead of spending weeks and months wasting away on military bases like can happen sometimes in the army or whatever."

Maxim made a face at his youngest daughter. "I'm sure those weren't his exact words."

"Can we change the topic?" Kassian pleaded finally, looking intensely uncomfortable the more Courtney sang his praises. "Let's talk more about Boyd."

Boyd smirked slightly at Kassian, very briefly, before he shrugged. "I don't really know what there is to say."

"How long are you staying with Kass?" Audrey asked as if she'd been waiting to get a chance.

"I don't know," Boyd said, grimacing slightly. "My girlfriend kicked me out and I'm sort of in limbo until I know if we're done for good this time or not. But I don't really have a lot of money so if she takes the apartment, which she would, then I have to save enough to get my own place."

"Are you any cleaner than my slob brother?" Leighton asked, winking at Kassian.

"Just a little," Boyd said with a teasing grin.

Kassian scoffed and moved to open the fridge again, likely to get a beer for himself. "Instead of rent I've deemed that he can be my cleaning bitch."

"Don't call him that!" Courtney protested with a frown at Kassian. "Be nice."

"'Be nice,'" Kassian mimicked in a high girly voice. "You're so disgustingly cute, Court. It makes me physically ill at times."

"You and Kimberly both," Courtney replied, rolling her eyes.

"Speaking of Kim-- where is she? I'm just reheating this sauce. Dinner will be ready soon and then we have to hit the road to get to the train station on time," Audrey said with a frown.

Maxim sighed and looked at his wife exasperatedly. "She's out by the pool but I'm not going after that girl. I've had it with her for the day. She knows what time the train is-- she'll come in before then."

"I'll get her," Boyd offered, already jumping off the stool.

Kassian looked at Boyd with a skeptical expression on his face. "Why?"

Boyd shrugged, pausing even as he turned toward the entrance of the kitchen. "Your family probably doesn't see each other much so you should spend what time you have together. And," he added with a mild smirk, "it's a nice day out so it's not like I'm being totally altruistic here."

Kassian just shrugged although it was obvious that he didn't really have high hopes for getting along with his sister or even wanting to try. "Suit yourself."

Boyd headed through the house, wondering briefly why Kassian's family as a whole seemed to take such issue with Kimberly. She did seem to have an attitude but it wasn't anything completely out of control that Boyd had witnessed, although he also wondered why Kimberly was so bitter and angry.

He wasn't sure which side had come first; Kimberly became angry due to how she was treated, or she ended up being treated this way because she was angry. Because he didn't live with the family, he couldn't say either way. Still, it was almost like Kimberly was the Sin of the Trovoskys' Agency and he found himself uninterested in judging her immediately regardless of how she acted.

As he stepped into the backyard, he saw her sitting by the pool, smoking. She was facing away from the house so he couldn't see what her expression was, and even when the door audibly shut behind him she didn't look over. He walked over and stopped a few steps away from her side.

"They're about to eat dinner," he told her.

"I hope they choke on it," she replied flatly, exhaling a cloud of smoke slowly as she gazed down at the pool.

"Well if you want something to choke on, too, before you have to catch the train you may want to go inside," Boyd said, unperturbed.

"Why don't you fuck off?" Kimberly asked with lazy hostility.

"Why do you want me to?" Boyd asked, watching her curiously.

Kimberly gave him a scornful look, finishing her cigarette and flicking it into Kassian's newly cleaned pool. "I don't know you and I don't give a shit about knowing you so your presence here is unwanted and unneeded."

The comment made her resemble Sin even more in his mind, back when they'd first met. He couldn't help smiling, the expression genuine, and he nodded as he slid his hands into his pockets.

"Alright," he said easily. "Fair point. I'll leave you alone."

Just as he turned to leave, Leighton came out of the back door and walked over to them, not appearing surprised that Boyd had been about to depart.

"Hey Kimmie. Just grab a plate and go in the living room if you don't want to deal with them," she told her sister.

Kimberly looked over her shoulder at Leighton and opened her mouth to likely say something scathing but she stopped and sighed before rolling her eyes dramatically and standing up. "Whatever."

"Standard teenage response," Leighton replied with a smile.

Kimberly just made a face, shot Boyd another glare, and walked sullenly back into the house.

Leighton looked at Boyd and tilted her head slightly to the side of the house when Kimberly closed the back door behind her. "Wanna take a short walk? Show me my big bro's motorcycle?"

"Sure," Boyd said, glancing toward the house. "You don't want to eat, though?"

"I'll be fine," Leighton assured him, walking along the small path that led around the side of the house where Kassian had his bike out. "I just wanted to chat with you for a few minutes. It's true that we don't really meet any of Kassian's friends."

Boyd nodded. "I heard you live across the country so I could see that happening."

Leighton stopped walking as they reached the side of the garage and leaned against the wall, studying Boyd with a small smile before nodding. "That's true. But Kassian makes it even more impossible. He can be very secretive. Very secretive. It's the reason why he and Kimberly aren't close anymore."

"How so?" Boyd asked, intrigued by the comment.

Leighton paused and absently rubbed a hand against her belly, gazing at Boyd. With her golden hair, clear blue eyes and mild smile, it wasn't difficult to understand why Kimberly was hesitant to be rude to her older sister. All of the Trovosky's shared the same features but Leighton had such an unassuming presence, as if she was unaware or uncaring of her own good looks, that it made it difficult not to be at ease in her presence.

"It has a lot to do with his job," she replied finally. "He can't talk about certain things and, naturally, we all have a lot of questions. But after a few years of being in the Corps, he changed a lot. On the outside he's the same, still funny and smart and sweet, still a good guy-- but once you infringe on the territory he's designated for himself, he just shuts down and that's it. And I don't know how well you know my brother but sometimes he has a way of talking to people that just makes them feel... vastly inferior. That kind of behavior became more frequent-- really prevalent in the rare times we even see him and Kimberly just got sick of it."

Boyd hadn't really experienced that much himself, but it did sound reminiscent of the way Kassian had been in Monterrey-- the 'Senior Agent mode' as Boyd thought of it. And that day when they'd driven away from Cafe Milan, with Kassian telling Boyd to keep Ryan quiet... there had been a hint of it there, too; something that hadn't sat particularly well with Boyd. Something that had made him feel like, somehow, Kassian was looking down on him.

Still, that had been a brief moment in their friendship and Kassian hadn't acted the same way on any of the missions since Monterrey, so it was difficult to imagine Kassian being like that on a regular enough basis for it to become a problem. Then again, Kassian had basically told Boyd before that he didn't have to hide anything around Boyd and Kassian had been strangely blank that moment in the kitchen.

Leighton smiled wryly and a breeze disturbed some of her hair, causing it to briefly fly across her face. She pushed it away and dropped her eyes to examine the bike, moving to idly run her fingers over the gleaming surface. "Kimberly is just... a very angry girl. She thinks the family kisses Kassian's ass and sees him as doing no wrong even though she thinks he's a dickhead who forgot all about her and all of us because of his job."

It was a warm, fairly bright day and Boyd pulled some hair behind his ear, although that section of his hair was just short enough that it fell forward immediately anyway. He watched Leighton calmly and with interest, leaning against the side of the garage with his arms crossed.

"Were they especially close before Murphy Corps?" he asked, eyebrows drawing down curiously.

"Kass was the big brother every kid always dreamed of before Murphy Corps," Leighton assented, her smile wilting slightly. "But stuff happens, right? It's just hard sometimes because even when I try to ask about his every day life, he keeps us at arms length. Even me, and he used to tell me everything when I was younger. He even hides things he knows I wouldn't disapprove of..."

Boyd didn't know what to say to that at first; working at the Agency changed a person, made them more hardened, less trusting. Yet he didn't know exactly what had happened with Kassian; he didn't know if Kassian had pulled away from his family even more than necessary to retain the secrecy of the Agency and if so, why he had.

All he knew was that Kassian found relating to civilians to be especially stressful because they asked so many questions. He'd told Boyd once that it was wearying that he couldn't even answer simple questions about why he was tired because it ultimately related to missions, to the Agency, to things he'd done that he hadn't wanted to or that had been hard on him.

It was also possible Kassian was being subconsciously protective of his family. If the partner Kassian had cared for had been terminated for potentially leaking information to a relative who'd probably also been killed, maybe Kassian wanted to be especially certain that wouldn't happen to his parents and sisters.

Regardless, he did think it was unfortunate if Kassian had a family who Boyd felt seemed pretty supportive, yet this distance had started to erode even Kassian's relationship with someone like Leighton, who Boyd found himself liking as much as Audrey. They both had something gentle in them, something motherly Boyd had never truly been exposed to, and something that made him want to be around them.

"What do you mean hiding things?" he asked rather than comment on the other parts.

Leighton hesitated and a flash of uncertainty crossed her face. She chewed the inside of her lip and looked down at the motorcycle again, seeming to be debating something before she said haltingly, "I mean-- it's just-- well, things like his personal life."

He wondered what she knew, or thought she knew. With how hesitant she was to say anything, it could have been a range of things; she could even have an idea that something more had been going on when they'd arrived than Boyd and Kassian were letting on. Yet he could also tell she wasn't going to outright say it.

"Well," Boyd said reasonably after a moment, "whatever it is, I'm sure he's not doing it to be hurtful. I think his job makes a person look at things a little differently, it kind of makes a person distrustful... it even works that way for me, and I'm not in Murphy Corps. But in Johnson's we have to be careful about what we say and to who... I think sometimes that can make a person become more cautious than they need to be, even for things that seem unrelated."

Boyd slid his hands in his pockets and looked thoughtful even as he watched Leighton. "Like, Beth and I... we used to get into all these stupid arguments and she always got mad because she thought I was lying to her or hiding something. Sometimes it would be about things that seemed so insignificant to her-- like why I had a headache-- but it related back to something that happened at work so I wouldn't say anything. I think it probably hurt her and I didn't mean it to but I would get annoyed that she wouldn't just take me at face value. So it became a vicious cycle..."

Bethany had been his classmate and was Kassian's neighbor, which is probably why her name was the first he thought of for his pretend girlfriend. He was making up most of this but he tried to use some of the things Kassian had told Boyd before, partially because maybe if Boyd could explain it to Leighton, it would make Leighton feel a little better since Kassian probably never would.

Leighton nodded, frowning. "I understand, it sounds a lot like what happened with my brother and his ex-wife. I mean, we all get it-- we get that his job is demanding and requires a lot from him but sometimes, even if it's not intentional, it hurts to be completely shut out of someone's life in every single way. I wish he would just know that he can trust me with some stuff-- I'm telling you because he must trust you immensely to have you actually living in his house..."

Boyd nodded and absently looked toward the house, glancing at the windows, although he couldn't see much from his position. "I imagine that would be difficult," he said honestly as he returned his gaze to her.

He studied the troubled expression clouding her pretty features and for some reason it made him realize even more how hard it must be for the family. Kassian spoke of the situation from his view, which was understandable, but Boyd wondered if Kassian truly understood the toll it had on his family as well; that this situation wasn't stressful only for him.

He wondered if Kassian understood that one of the reasons for Kimberly's anger was, honestly, what sounded something like the reason Sin had said he had for feeling angry at the Agency. It wasn't Kassian's fault how others decided to view him or whether or not they decided to forgive him for any faults he may have, but Boyd wondered if Kassian ever had the chance to see the situation from the outside looking in.

"I don't know if I could be much help but maybe I could mention it to him sometime, if something comes up," Boyd offered as he pushed himself away from the garage and dropped his arms loosely to his sides. "That maybe not everything has to be a secret. Maybe he could try to include at least one person back in his life on some level. I don't really know his reasons for everything but it's possible it would help..."

"Thanks," Leighton said sincerely, smiling at Boyd with warmth. "You're a great guy."

Boyd smiled in return, tilting his head slightly. "Well, I just think Kassian's lucky to have such a great family. It would really suck if anything came between all you if it didn't need to happen."

Leighton nodded and walked closer, intertwining her arm with his. "If only you could talk sense into my blockhead brother... Stubbornness and a tendency to see things from our own point of view tends to run in my family."

Boyd had to laugh at that, golden brown eyes sparking in amusement. He almost subconsciously found himself leaning toward her a little closer, not feeling the need to pull away from her touch. She was warm and kind and made him feel at ease the same way Kassian had when they'd become friends, when Boyd hadn't felt the need to be anyone but who he was around him.

"We'll see," Boyd said with a grin as he looked over at her. "If it's stubbornness we're talking about, it's possible I may be your long lost brother."

Leighton laughed quietly at that and shook her head as they started to walk back to the house.

Continue to the next interlude: 3.6, News Flash