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Medley - Part I

Interlude 3.25

Uploaded on 03/17/2010

Boyd spread the last Journalist Guild photocopied article out on the cleared-off living room table and sat back on the couch, his forearms resting on his knees and eyebrows drawn down as he surveyed the information before him. He skimmed the dates, trying to decide which to start looking through first. Inevitably, the same article that had been on his mind for days drew his attention once more.

The April 16, 2016 edition; the article on the fourth page, upper left corner. He skimmed the headline without consciously intending to: Police Corruption in Murder Investigation.

The initial disbelief, indignation and anger he'd felt when he'd first seen the article had dulled. Even so, he still felt something shift uncomfortably inside when he thought about it. He was just starting to reach for the article when an abrupt knock on the door nearly made him jump. He jerked his hand back and looked at the door, irritated with himself for being so skittish, and left the articles strewn about the table as he strode to the door.

He peered through the peephole and saw a familiar face half-turned away, clear blue eyes narrowed slightly against the cool air and grey jacket barely visible from Boyd's angle. Boyd unlocked and opened the door, stepping aside so Kassian could enter.

"Hey," Kassian said as he moved inside, tennis shoes making muffled sounds on the carpet. "It's getting cold already. I didn't notice until I walked over here."

"It is," Boyd agreed, shutting the door behind Kassian. "Want anything warm to drink?"

"Sure." Kassian shrugged off his thick grey jacket to reveal an indigo button down shirt.

"What do you want?" Boyd asked as he started to walk toward the kitchen. "I have tea, coffee..." He paused to think and added, "I may even have hot chocolate."
Kassian followed Boyd after tossing his jacket over the back of the couch. "Coffee's good."

Boyd nodded and pulled out the coffeemaker he'd bought a few months ago to use when Kassian was around. He placed a filter in the receptacle, and scooped some ground coffee beans out of a tin can he kept in the cabinet.

"I hear your vacation got cut short," Kassian said as he sat down at the table and stretched his legs out in front of him. He rolled his shoulders slightly and appeared to be trying to lose some of the stiffness from his chilled limbs. It wasn't surprising considering Fall had come with a vengeance. Although the summer had been surprisingly pleasant, October felt more like winter than anything else.

Boyd grimaced and swung the receptacle shut firmly. "Yeah," he said, moving over to the sink to get some water. He looked over at Kassian as the glass filled. "I was unhappy but there wasn't anything we could do about it."

Kassian nodded, not looking very surprised. "I hope the mission was important."

"It was," Boyd grudgingly allowed. He shut the faucet off and poured the water into the back of the coffeemaker. The power button made a quiet clicking noise when he flipped it on before heading toward the tea kettle. "It was a storm on a large base; they needed everyone. Emilio was there too."

There was a beat of silence as Kassian seemed to digest the information. He shifted in his seat, an odd look flicking across his face before it vanished completely. "Ah," he replied finally, resting one elbow on the table. "So, uh, how was the trip anyway?"

Boyd wondered what that look had been about but decided not to question it yet. He couldn't help keeping a subtle eye on Kassian, trying to get a feel for what, if anything, was going on with him.

"It was good," he said as he filled the tea kettle. He set it on the stove and turned the burner on, turning around and leaning against the counter. A small smile pulled at his lips as he thought about the vacation and amended, "Really good. Neither of us wanted to leave."

"What'd you do?" Kassian smirked slightly. "Besides the obvious."

Boyd smirked briefly and pulled the chair opposite of Kassian out from the table. He sat down and leaned forward, his forearms resting on the edge of the table. "We just... spent time together. We checked out the local town and woods. I got time to draw. He cooked for us. We trained and went biking. We had fun." The smile grew as he tilted his head. "Moving in together came up."

An appalled expression crossed Kassian's handsome face. "You're kidding."

Boyd laughed and leaned back in his chair. He was trying not to be so stupidly happy about the whole thing but even a few days later, when he thought back to the time at the cabin he had such a good feeling that it was difficult not to let it show. "I'm not. Why, what's wrong with that?"

Kassian shrugged, eyebrows rising. "I'm just a strong believer in personal space. You're already partners as well as lovers. You know all the same people, are constantly in contact with each other's families, go on the same missions..."
The tea kettle started to make bubbling noises, the precursor to when it would whistle to indicate it was boiling. Boyd stood, the chair making a faint scraping noise across the floor in the process. He turned off the stove and glanced at the coffeemaker; it needed a little more time to get enough coffee brewed for a cup.
As he moved, he considered what Kassian said. He pulled the teapot over and checked to make sure there were still some loose jasmine leaves in the strainer before he poured in the water. He set the kettle to the side and put the top on the teapot again, then turned toward Kassian with faintly furrowed eyebrows. His hands braced on the counter behind him. He supposed Kassian had a good point, and yet it didn't change the way he felt.
"I don't know what it would be ultimately be like," Boyd said honestly. "Maybe after awhile we'd get sick of each other and have to move apart. But we lived together for almost a year in Monterrey and I liked it even then, before we got our shit together and knew where the other was coming from. At this point, I want to spend my life with him. I want him over all the time anyway so if we lived together and I needed personal space, I wouldn't mind leaving for a bit."
He shrugged, trying to figure out how to explain what was going through his mind. "I feel really... comfortable and happy with him. And since that feeling is hard to come by in our line of work, I want to feel that way as long as I can."

 Kassian still had the same appalled look on his face but he appeared to be taking pains to hide it. After a moment he just said, "Did he already ask about a housing switch?"
"We're not bothering to clear anything until the new admin rolls in. We'll bring it up once the new Marshal's settled and we have a feel for what she's like." Boyd turned to the teapot and pulled the strainer out, shaking it a bit to remove as much liquid as possible.
"I bet they'll be pissed to have to change your residency now that you finally are going to install their security system here," Kassian said. "They nagged me for months before I finally broke down and did it at my place. They say it's because it's more secure than anything in a civilian market but I think they just like knowing our codes."
Boyd smiled humorlessly and nodded as he poured himself a cup of tea. The coffee pot looked full enough so he poured Kassian a cup of coffee and brought both steaming mugs over to the table.

"Probably," he said ruefully, pulling the chair over and dropping into it again. "I'm not happy about having to give over the codes. I know they could have walked in any time before but it seems worse knowing I'll have a security system and they can compromise it whenever they damn well please. It's a complete lack of privacy."

Kassian took a long sip of his coffee before answering. His blue eyes closed appreciatively as he ingested the hot liquid. "They have to keep us off-compounders on a leash some kind of way. I wouldn't be surprised if there were secret cameras hidden all over our houses."

Boyd made a face at that. "I hope not. I have enough videos of things I didn't want recorded in my file as it is." He paused to take a sip of tea, the taste of jasmine a pleasant warmth against his tongue. "Maybe I'll ask Ryan or Jon to check on that sometime. I bet they could find out."

"Probably. Not that it'd matter even if they did. They wouldn't let you get away with disabling them if they do exist and what would you do? Cease behaving normally in your own home? They already know everything anyway, so it doesn't make a difference." Kassian said the last part bitterly and his eyebrows drew together over his eyes. His mouth was drawn down at the sides and a flash of irritation crossed his handsome face.

Boyd was silent a moment, watching Kassian. He set his mug down quietly, his fingers partially curled against the warmth of the ceramic. "Is everything okay with you?"

The other man laughed humorlessly and looked into his coffee cup. "You could say that my Senior Agent Trovosky persona hasn't been up to par lately."

"What happened?"

"Hmm." Kassian up and seemed to consider the question. He rubbed a hand along his jaw and seemed to stare into space for a brief moment. "You know Boyd, I'm not exactly sure what happened to me in the past couple of months."

"What's been going on?" Boyd asked. "Hsin said they've had you working with others."

The strange look passed Kassian's face again and he shifted in the seat. A large hand wrapped around the coffee mug. "Yeah. General Carhart wanted me... monitored."

"Did something happen that made him feel that way?"

There was a brief hesitation before Kassian glanced at Boyd again. He looked embarrassed. "I'd forgotten that I had a physical and I'd been drinking already that morning. They picked up on it and reported it to Carhart. Apparently a blood alcohol level of .05 at noon is something to be concerned about," he said with obvious self mocking.

Boyd watched Kassian without judgment and shook his head slightly. He wasn't that surprised by the information; Kassian had been drinking more for a few months as far as he'd known. But Kassian had never seemed to let it interfere with work before. The fact that it had showed how he'd started to be affected by it. Or it showed how pervasive Kassian's mood may have been. Boyd felt a little bad for having not been there as Kassian's friend during this period but then again, he hadn't heard about any troubles until Sin mentioned it.

"Carhart set you up with partners right after that?"

"Yes. Not on every assignment but for important ones, he gave me a babysitter." Kassian's lip curled and it was obvious he was still sore over it.

"For how long?"

"Until I'm up to par again, I guess."

Boyd was silent a moment as he considered that. "Has it changed anything?" he asked. "Or have you been drinking the same amount?"

"I dunno. Less sometimes. More others." Kassian gestured vaguely, not seeming very interested in talking too much about that aspect. "I've just been caring about things a lot less, not pushing myself as hard. I don't really know why."

"Did something happen that started all this?" Boyd asked curiously, drawing his eyebrows down. "I remember you were starting to drink more a few months ago, around when Bridget was murdered."

"I don't really know," Kassian responded although the stiff way he said it implied it wasn't entirely true. He picked up his mug and drained it of its contents.

Boyd paused. He wasn't used to this sort of reception from Kassian, who typically was open and blunt and didn't avoid many topics. Especially related to drinking, which had been one of the first things that Kassian had trusted him to know about.

"If you don't want to talk about it we don't have to," Boyd said after a moment. "I'm not trying to get in your business. I'm just concerned about you as a friend and want to help."

Kassian didn't immediately respond and the only sound in the kitchen for a stretch was the coffeemaker finally finishing its percolation and somebody's leaf blower whirring outside. He dragged his finger against a bead of dark coffee that had trickled down the side of the mug and finally sighed.

"It's not you. It's just that I've been dealing with a new development in my life and I don't understand it enough to really talk about it out loud yet?" His brow furrowed. "So until I have things figured out, I'd rather just leave it alone."

Boyd nodded easily and let the topic drop. He didn't know what it could be that was bothering Kassian so much but he wasn't about to press his friend for further information. He finished his tea and held a hand out for Kassian's mug. "Do you want more coffee?"

"Sure." Kassian looked around the kitchen as if he were trying to clear whatever thoughts had begun to cross his mind. His gaze fell on the packages for the security material and he stood up, moving over to examine it.

"You installed that yourself at your house, right?" Boyd asked as he headed toward the counter to refill Kassian's mug with coffee and his own with tea.

Kassian nodded. "Yeah. Are you using the cameras?"

"I don't know," Boyd replied with a shrug. He brought the coffee mug over to Kassian and held it out. "I was thinking about forgoing them. Do you use them?"

Another nod as Kassian's eyes began to sweep over the windows of the kitchen. "I think they're useful. I don't look at them religiously but I like having a record of what goes on in my property when I'm gone for long periods of time. If anyone is snooping around, I'll be able to see who they are and what they were doing."

"That's true." Boyd thought about the occasional feeling of being watched. "Actually, I think I will."

"Have you eaten?" Kassian asked, turning away from the packaging. He didn't seem in a rush to get right down to the task.

Boyd shook his head. "No. Want to order something?" A small smirk crossed his lips. "I'd offer to make you something but you know my aptitude in the kitchen too well."

"Annie's delivers now," Kassian replied automatically, wincing at the possibility of watching Boyd cook.

Boyd chuckled and set his mug of tea on the counter on his way to the phone. "I'll order the usual."

He called Annie's and was unsurprised when Pete answered. The man always seemed to be working there no matter what time Boyd had contact with the place. He ordered a large pepperoni thin crust pizza, with a side of garlic knots and two sodas. Pete informed him in his typically unimpressed voice that they should expect a knock on the door in about thirty minutes.

"Half an hour," he informed Kassian when he hung up.

"Nice. I'm starved." Kassian had reseated himself at the table while Boyd called. He pulled a folded up mass of envelopes out of his back pocket and spread them across the table as he seemed to sort it out.

"Got my mail on the way out," he explained.

Boyd raised an eyebrow and dropped into the seat across the table from Kassian. "What the hell, you get a lot." He reached out and picked up a white envelope with red letters on the side proclaiming that a deadline was looming for special savings. "Anything interesting?"

"Well," Kassian said with a raised brow as he pushed a stack of what appeared to be bills to the side. "I got a letter from my ex-wife and junk mail advertising a new kind of sex enhancement drug."

He smirked and stood up, sticking that one to Boyd's refrigerator with a magnet. "I'll leave that one for you and Vega."

Boyd laughed. "Thanks," he drawled. "Nice to know you think we need it."

"Everyone can use a boost after back-to-back missions," Kassian replied wisely.

Boyd smirked and shook his head to himself. He dropped the envelope he'd been holding and crossed his arms against each other as he leaned against the edge of the table. "So what did Kelly have to say?" he asked curiously.

"Don't know. Didn't read it," Kassian replied with a tone of disinterest. "Want to do the honors?"

"Sure," Boyd said, holding his hand out for the envelope. Kassian handed it over and it was quickly evident that it was probably a greeting card of some sort, judging by the dimensions of the envelope. Boyd opened it, seeing a graphic design on front, and flipped it open. "It's a birthday card. It says 'Happy Birthday and best wishes.' She wrote a note underneath it. 'Kassian, I'm still thinking of you and I hope you're doing well. Kelly.'"

Boyd raised his eyebrows and looked up at Kassian. Not only had he been unaware that Kassian's birthday was coming up, it also was mildly surprising to him that she'd bothered to send a card judging by the way Kassian had described his ex-wife. Then again, Kassian's sisters had seemed to see her in a different light.

"It's your birthday?"

"In a couple of days," Kassian replied, looking distracted. He leaned forward and grabbed the card, giving it a quick once over. "Huh."

"She must not usually send birthday cards," Boyd surmised, watching Kassian.

"She doesn't. It's pretty strange that she did this year." Kassian flipped the card over and looked at the cover before glancing at the envelope it came in.

"Have you seen her recently?"

Kassian shook his head, blond eyebrows still drawn together as he puzzled over the card. "No. I know she keeps in contact with Leighton, though..."

Boyd considered that and wondered whether Leighton had noticed anything in her brother lately that had made her concerned. He wondered if it was possible that information had somehow made its way to Kelly and whether she had thought it would be a good idea to let Kassian know people were still thinking about him. It still seemed curious but Boyd shrugged and leaned back in his chair.

"Do you plan to call her?"

A low scoff escaped Kassian's throat before he answered with an emphasized, "No."

"Maybe Leighton will know," Boyd said offhandedly and glanced in distraction at the tea he'd left sitting on the counter. He moved his chair back and stretched, grabbing the mug by the handle and bringing it back to the table. "Or it may simply remain a mystery."

"Maybe..." Kassian still looked thoughtful but he set the card on the table with the bills and began sorting the rest of the junk.

They fell into mutual silence for a few minutes as Boyd idly sifted through the mail Kassian put to the side that Boyd guessed was the junk pile. There were a lot of useless items; credit companies, promises of free vacations to places that would cost far more than the front of the envelope declared...

He opened one of the vacation envelopes out of curiosity and skimmed the letter, which promised a whole lot for information they claimed was necessary but unimportant. Of course, that same information could be used to compromise a person's identity, get them stuck in some sort of scam, or create even more annoyance by being added to lists for other junk mail.

The pictures they included were certainly enticing, though. One in particular caught his attention of a woman on the beach, the water cerulean blue behind her and the sun a bright red sphere in the background slowly disappearing over the horizon. Boyd wondered whether that had been digitally altered or if there really was such a place in the world where such pristine views still existed.

As he scanned the photo, the woman's brilliantly green eyes reminded him of Sin, which in turn reminded him that Sin had mentioned Kassian had been on a mission with Emilio recently. That made him wonder how that had went; Kassian tended to be the alpha and didn't like others to take charge, yet Emilio wasn't exactly the sort to let everything be decided for him either.

"How was working with Emilio, by the way?" Boyd asked curiously, the photo tilting down in his hand as he looked up at his friend.

Kassian looked at him briefly before appearing to shift uncomfortably in his seat. "Um. Fine."

Boyd paused, noting the reaction, and smirked in amusement. "What? Did he annoy the hell out of you?"

"No..." Kassian trailed off and studied what appeared to be a phone bill carefully. "I wouldn't say that."

Boyd raised his eyebrows slightly and set the picture on the table. He crossed his arms and leaned against the table. "Now you have me intrigued. What would you say instead?"

Kassian spent a large amount of time closely examining the same piece of mail before setting it aside. His face was now studiously blank and he gave a rolling shrug before raising his eyebrows slightly. "Well. We fucked."

Boyd's eyebrows twitched higher. "Really. During the mission?"


Boyd wasn't particularly surprised to hear that it had happened given what he knew of Kassian and Emilio. Kassian was certainly attractive enough to potentially get Emilio's interest. And Kassian had said before how attractive he thought Sin was. And since Sin and Emilio looked so similar...

However, it wasn't necessarily like Kassian to have sex on a mission. As far as Boyd understood, the time they'd almost messed around on the Canada mission had been quite atypical. And Emilio took missions surprisingly seriously given his personality. In addition, Kassian's reaction was of mild interest, since he was typically so offhanded about his casual partners.

"Is that what bothers you about it?"

Kassian stared at him in relative confusion. "What? No. What are you talking about?"

"You seem unusually uncomfortable for just having sex with someone," Boyd replied with a shrug. "I was wondering why."


The older agent fiddled with the envelopes on the table some more and once again waited an abnormal amount of time to answer the question. It was the first time Boyd had seen Kassian fidget or avoid talking about one of his many sexual encounters. Kassian seemed just as aware of it as Boyd did, though, and a sigh escaped his mouth.

"Well, see, it was just a little different. That's all," he said finally, looking at Boyd from under his eyebrows.

Boyd drew his eyebrows down. Surely sex with Emilio couldn't be that dramatic a departure from sex with other people. "Different how?"

The chair screeched across the linoleum as Kassian pushed it back and stood, walking to the coffee pot to refill the cup he'd drained in one gulp. He gave a shrug of his broad shoulders and turned his back to Boyd as he poured.

"Different entirely," he said with an overly casual tone. "For starters, he has the art of seduction down to a science. And it isn't Thierry seduction or anything you'd expect. It was obvious that he tailors his approach for whoever is currently in his sights."

"What did he do for you?" Boyd asked curiously. The intrigue he'd felt occasionally about Emilio's playboy reputation resurfaced now that he was hearing about it from someone he knew well rather than the rumors that were most likely exaggerated by others.

Kassian turned back to Boyd and leaned against the counter. He had both hands around his cup and rolled it precariously between his palms but none of the hot liquid spilled out.

"Honestly," he said after awhile, his brow furrowing as he apparently thought back to the mission. "Honestly, I'm not sure if he'd really intended on it from the start. I'm not even sure if he really was all that attracted to me for being... me." Kassian said the last part slowly, nearly cautiously.

Boyd watched Kassian thoughtfully. "As in, maybe you reminded him of someone?"

"Yes... maybe," Kassian replied in the same cautious tone. He narrowed his eyes slightly and it was clear that he was hesitant to say outright whatever he was implying. The topic appeared to make him uncomfortable but after another hesitation, he shook his head and pushed on.

"Look, it's odd to say but do you think he ever had his eyes set on General Carhart?"

Boyd couldn't help letting out a short laugh. "It's not odd. He does. In some ways, you and Carhart are similar enough that I could see that happening but what gave you the impression that was what was happening?"

A look of relief crossed Kassian's face but just as quickly morphed into one of alarm. "They've never fucked around, have they? I mean in theory that would be an arousing mental image but in reality, I don't want to think about a world where that would go down."

Boyd considered the question as he leaned back in his chair. He absently shifted the mug back and forth in hands and tilted his head. "As far as I know, they never fucked around here."

That earned him a blank look. "Here?"

"There was a deep undercover mission years back at Brighton." Boyd took a drink of tea and set the mug down again with a shrug. "Something happened there, possibly as part of their cover story. Apparently Carhart was never interested in it continuing outside of that mission. And Emilio was."

"Ahh." A look of understanding crossed Kassian's face and he set his own cup down before crossing his arms over his chest. "That sounds more reasonable. Sorry but I can't picture General Carhart allowing himself to be seduced, especially by someone who's known for seducing."

"I can't either, honestly," Boyd replied with a subtle shake of his head.

There was another pause before Kassian shook his head slightly. "In any case, it was just the way he acted. At first he was all brooding and pissed off. I figured it'd be a miserable mission since there was a night of recon involved and I wasn't in any kind of great mood either. I actually thought we'd end up arguing like his son and I do," Kassian admitted.

"But of course I couldn't take my eyes off the bastard and he noticed. So that's when it all started. Him noticing me back. And pointing out that I remind him of the way 'Zachary' used to be with him on missions."

"Ah," Boyd said in understanding. He couldn't help thinking that Emilio wasn't exactly subtle with that reference since the interaction with Kassian later led to sex. "Was he as smooth as rumors imply? He's come onto me a few times but it's always been obvious and half a joke. I'm curious what he'd be like if he was actually serious."

Kassian grinned wryly. "I wasn't prepared for it, to tell you the truth. By the way you'd described him, he has a tendency to act a fool but there was none of that on the mission. He was very intense the whole time, even before he noticed that I existed in a manner other than being his charge to be babysat. And after, he was just fucking hot without trying to be. His eyes-- his voice."

There was a pause and Kassian cleared his throat, unfolding his arms and grabbing his coffee again. "He was just... I can't explain it. But he got me to do things I would not normally do."

Boyd raised his eyebrows slightly, growing more intrigued. "Like what?"

"Like... things." Kassian gave Boyd a significant look. "That I wouldn't normally do."

From Boyd's experience, Kassian's main compunction was that in essence he wouldn't do anything that was traditionally gay. He'd fucked Boyd and liked receiving blowjobs but he'd refused to give one in return. And he wouldn't be on the receiving end of anal sex. It had taken a lot of convincing for Kassian to let Boyd even finger him and despite the fact that he had seemed to like it, in the end that had never gone anywhere.

The significance of the situation was not lost on Boyd, to the point that for the first time surprise made it to his face. "He fucked you?"

"Yeah," Kassian said, looking a mixture of embarrassed and sheepish. "He kind of talked me into it. I don't think he would have let me fuck him just out of principle of him being so dead set on convincing me. I think I ended up just being some kind of... challenge."

There was a definite bitter quality about the last word but Kassian took another hearty gulp of coffee before Boyd could analyze his expression.

Boyd watched Kassian for a moment. Emilio certainly had an impressive set of skills if he'd managed to talk Kassian into that. Yet it wasn't something Boyd could exactly admire since Kassian didn't seem comfortable about the whole thing. "I can't tell whether you liked it or regret it."

"I liked it," Kassian said automatically. "I more than liked it. In fact, embarrassingly enough, in the couple of weeks immediately after the fact I became kind of obsessed with the little bastard. Of course he forgot I existed as soon as the mission was over though."

"Obsessed how?"

Kassian frowned but although he was clearly uncomfortable with admitting it, he didn't appear to plan to stop confiding in Boyd. "I can't explain it. I don't even really get it. It's gone now after not seeing him in weeks but right after the mission I was preoccupied with thoughts of him and what happened. I wanted it to happen again. I actually went to the compound for the sole purpose of seeing if he'd be around twice but the time I actually ran into him, he acted like he barely knew who I was."

The frown turned into a scowl and Kassian rolled his eyes. "There's something about that guy that fucking gets people all wrapped up around his finger. When he has his sights set on you and he starts making his moves, all reason is out the damn door."

"I know," Boyd said, eyes narrowing. "I don't understand it. I hated him before I met him because of what I thought he'd done to Hsin. I love Hsin; I'll always side with him. Yet when I met Emilio it was hard to hate him the way I had before. He's come onto me a few times, even twice bringing up a ridiculous idea of a threesome with Hsin--"

He shook his head to himself and made a face. "You'd think I'd dismiss it entirely like I would with anyone else but something about that damn man makes the question stick in the back of my head. I tell myself I'm only intrigued because he looks so much like Hsin but who knows, maybe it's just his charm."

"It's got to be," Kassian muttered, looking irritated by it. "Bastard."

Boyd smirked but before he could reply, the doorbell rang. He glanced at his watch and saw that it was about time for their food to arrive.

When he went to the front door, he found a pimply-faced teenager standing there dutifully holding their order. He barely looked old enough to drive and when Boyd absently gave him quite a generous tip rather than bother asking for change, the teen's eyes lit up even though he otherwise didn't change his disaffected expression. He probably didn't want to be too obvious about it in case Boyd changed his mind. The food had barely been passed over to Boyd before the delivery guy half-jogged back to his car with the money clutched in his hand.

"Hey Kass," Boyd called out as he balanced the bag of garlic knots and two soda cans on top of the pizza box. He shut the door behind him with his foot. "Want to eat in there or out here?"

The other man entered the living room. "Here's fine."

Kassian started towards the couch and stopped when he noticed the papers spread out over the coffee table and cushions. "Can I disturb any of this stuff?"

"Push it to the side for now," Boyd replied as he headed toward the coffee table. "I can put it back in order later."

There was some rustling as Kassian began moving the papers around so that he could sit on the couch and so Boyd could set the pizza down.

"What is this stuff?"

"Copies of Journalist Guild articles." Boyd glanced down, his gaze inevitably straying to the article he'd been staring at when Kassian arrived. His eyes narrowed a hint before the article was covered by others and set to the side. He frowned briefly to himself and looked away, smoothing out his expression as he set the order on the now-cleared table.

Kassian arched a brow. "Is it for a mission?"

"No." Boyd set the garlic knots and soda cans on the table, sliding one can over for Kassian. He reconsidered his answer as he opened the pizza box, the aroma surrounding them and made him even hungrier. "Well. Not one for the Agency. It's more of a personal mission."

"How so?" The question was muffled as Kassian bit into a large slice of pizza. He settled into the sofa comfortably and watched Boyd.

There was a pause as Boyd grabbed a slice of pizza and shifted so he could see Kassian better. He considered for a moment whether he should bring this up to Kassian but he knew he could trust him and it may be good to know if Kassian had any additional information.

"I'm looking into the Reapers," Boyd explained. "One of the possible leads brought me to the Journalist Guild so I've started looking through their issues."

"The Reapers," Kassian repeated slowly, brows lowering over his eyes. "Why?"

Boyd shrugged somewhat uncomfortably and took a moment to chew a bite of pizza. His gaze traveled the room absently, moving past the indentations in the wall he had never fully fixed after the night Sin had nearly killed them. He leaned forward, grabbed his soda and opened it.

"You remember what Hsin was like in Monterrey." Although it was a statement there was a hint of a question in the inflection. "When we saved him."

"Of course." Kassian rested one of his ankles on the opposite knee. "You think the Reapers had something to do with his amazing recovery?"

Boyd nodded. "I always thought it was strange how quickly he recovered but it wasn't only that. Since then, sometimes he seems even stronger and faster than he was before. He's always been capable of the improbable but now there are times when what he does seems impossible. I probably wouldn't have thought anything about it but Owen mentioned the Reapers one day. I'd never heard of them. He started talking about how they supposedly operate out of that red brick lab building by bunker three."

He looked significantly at Kassian. "Hsin said that's the building he woke up in after his coma. And later even Emilio said he knew something was off with Hsin the day they met again when Emilio returned."

"You mean during the infamous battle of the two Vegas outside of Carhart's office? People still talk about that."

Boyd nodded again. "Hsin threw Emilio across the hall."

There was a moment of silence as Kassian chewed slowly. It was punctuated finally by a swallow as Kassian said, "I thought perhaps that part was exaggerated but I can't say I'm surprised."

Boyd finished the slice of pizza and wiped his hands on a napkin. "On a mission Emilio, Hsin and I were on a month ago, Hsin ripped the counter off a bar with his bare hands and threw it like it weighed nothing." He frowned, pausing before he took a drink of soda. "I watched the metal twist and snap."

This time Kassian froze in mid motion and his eyes caught Boyd's. "Are you serious?"

"Unfortunately." Boyd watched Kassian seriously. "And on our trip at the cabin, he rode his bike off a small cliff, hit the ground hard and rolled down a hill. He walked away with a minor sprained ankle and a twinge in his back, neither of which seemed to bother him that much."

"If you think about it, he's escaped much more insane situations than that. Even before Monterrey, he had a way of doing a storm single-handed and coming out mostly unscathed. No one ever thought it was normal but..." Kassian trailed off for a moment and frowned. "People always talk about the Reapers but... do you really believe it?"

"I don't know what I believe," Boyd said honestly. "That's why I wanted more information on them." He grabbed another piece of pizza from the box. "Some of the theories about them seem ludicrous but some could be plausible. And when I take into account all these other coincidences... Hsin should have died after Monterrey but he recovered fully, which was unusual even for him. He woke up in that building. After that he started having his breakdowns. Seeing things, hearing things... And there are other things too. His sense of hearing is uncanny sometimes and I don't remember that being the case when we met, although it's possible I didn't notice."

Kassian rubbed his chin as he seemed to mull this all over. It wasn't clear what he thought about it but he didn't appear to be immediately brushing it off, either. "You know, there are urban legends on the street about people being illegally modified. Having their DNA spliced or tampered with. No one ever really buys into it because it would be such an expensive procedure and only the elite would be able to do it but I always thought there was some merit in the idea. If anyone would cash in on a reality of that, it would be the Agency."

"Genetic modification..." Boyd leaned back in the couch. He took a bite of pizza and chewed, considering that. He hadn't thought of it in those specific terms yet. "Do you think that could successfully be done after someone's born and not only during embryonic development?"

"Sure. I mean they've been doing it for years with gene therapy and there's always been that kind of question of when will someone do the experimentation on humans to see if they can take it all a step farther." Kassian shrugged.

Boyd made a 'hmm' noise and balanced the open soda can on his knee. "Owen said there's a theory that the Reapers were at Johnson's before the Agency. That Johnson's was doing drug experimentations and the government chose them as the cover partially because of that. It's possible Johnson's was already working on genetic modification and the Agency provided a good chance to try out concepts like super soldier programs."

"That kind of sounds like a stretch. Do you buy it?"

"Not all of it," Boyd said with a shrug. "But I don't disbelieve the concept. I think it's possible the Agency has ulterior motives and additional agendas we don't know about. The only person I know who's shown any potential signs of anything like what they say is Hsin."

"Mmm," Kassian grunted noncommittally. "What's this got to do with the Journalist Guild?"

"One of the people I talked to has a whole library at home and thought he remembered a mention of something similar to the Reapers in some periodicals. Maybe the urban legend you mentioned. He wanted to show me other books but I got curious about the periodicals and found out he has almost every issue published of the Journalist Guild since they started twenty years ago. I planned to start by checking for anything to do with Johnson's compound or anything that sounds like the Agency to me."

Boyd frowned faintly to himself. "When I was there I found an article that mentioned me, though, and I got sidetracked looking into the Guild in general."

This time both of Kassian's eyebrows shot up and he paused in mid-bite. "Why the hell were you in a JG article?"

Boyd leaned forward, setting the can and half-eaten slice of pizza on the table. He half-crouched so he could reach the pile of articles and sifted through them until he found the one he wanted.

"Because of Lou." He tossed the article on the couch next to Kassian.

There was a period of silence as Kassian abandoned his half-eaten slice and read the article. He appeared to only skim it at first but then he went over it again to read it more carefully. Once finished, he whistled softly under his breath.

"I remember hearing about this, now that I'm reading this," he admitted with a nod. "Kelly was all freaked out that such a brutal murder happened so close to the house."

"She didn't need to worry," Boyd said as he settled back against the couch. "Jared targeted Lou for beating him in a fight. He was going to kill me too but a woman interrupted it."

Shaking his head, Kassian set the article back on top of the pile. "The police got away with a lot of shit back then. The whole force became so damn corrupt after the war. Things are better now but I doubt any of the things they did got rectified."

"And the ones who are good enough to go out of their way now get put on hit lists for their trouble," Boyd said bitterly.

That comment earned him a peculiar look from Kassian but he didn't comment or ask. Instead he changed the topic back to their original discussion. "I'm still confused as to what you thought you'd find in the papers about the Reapers."

"Well, ideally I'd do all my research in-house but I get the feeling that wouldn't be a good idea." A wry look crossed Boyd's face. "I have access to some old Agency books and manuals I'll be looking into, back when everything wasn't digitized. That's so far my best lead for trying to find anything on what was happening around the Agency's origin. But even though these manuals were supposed to be destroyed so it's possible there's sensitive data in them, I still don't trust any documents made by the Agency to accurately record everything."

He looked over at the pile of articles. "That's where the Guild comes in. I'd heard they were relatively neutral but after seeing that article about Lou, I believe it. As far as I can tell, all they did was tell the truth; and not only that, they went out of their way to research the situation. I'm hoping I'll find some 'truth' they've uncovered about experimentations, Johnson's, the Agency..." He shook his head. "Anything that pertains. I'll start building a timeline and see what I discover."

Kassian didn't look altogether convinced about what Boyd's efforts would get him but he didn't voice his doubts out loud. "What does Sin think about you looking into this?"

Boyd shifted uncomfortably and looked away. "He doesn't know. When Emilio and I brought up the Reapers after that mission with the bar, he told us to drop it."

"Why are you investigating this at all if he doesn't want you to?"

Boyd made a face. He leaned forward to grab his half-eaten slice of pizza and took a moment to chew a bite. "Because I think it's important," he said after a moment. "And because I know Hsin. He doesn't want to think about the possibility that it's true because he's tired of being different. He'll ignore it until it's potentially too late. But I'm looking at it as a way to try to help him."

"Even if you find out it's true, how could you help him?" Kassian asked reasonably. "You can't stop them from doing whatever they're doing and even if you could, if they have turned him into Super Agent, do you really think that's that bad?"

"It is if he didn't ask for it," Boyd said firmly and without hesitation. "If because of that they use him more. Hurt him more."

He narrowed his eyes and leaned forward, his forearms resting on his knees. "If I'm right, they decided to use him as their guinea pig, probably for years now. They took someone who was already messed up and made it worse. They made him too fast, too strong; inhuman. They created a persona of a monster for him that alienated him from everyone and made him be their own pet assassin. If I'm right, their actions aided in years of abuse he's been suffering because they thought they could play God."

"Yes," Kassian said patiently. "But what do you think you can do about that? Even if you found out tomorrow, it's not going to stop them."

"I know." Boyd's expression set seriously. "Believe me, I'm well aware of how powerless I am in this organization and that it will get even worse with the new regime. I know I could be spending hours researching something that will be meaningless in the end."

He grimaced, leaning back into the couch and running a hand through his hair. "But I can't ignore this. I can't hear this information, know they may be doing something to him, and turn a blind eye. I have to research this. I want to know what exactly, if anything, they did to him. I want to know what help he may need; what I'll realistically be able to do to support him. I want to know what I'm working with so if there's anything at all I can do, I'm ready this time."

Kassian didn't say anything at first. He crumpled a paper napkin in his hands and looked thoughtful about the entire thing. In the end he just shrugged. "Well. I guess you'll see."

Boyd nodded but didn't answer as he finished the slice of pizza. There really wasn't anything to do but wait and see what came up in the research. He finished off the can of soda and stood, grabbing some of the garbage off the coffee table.

"I'm going to go unpack the system," he said, ready to be off the subject of experimentation.

He brought the boxes out of the kitchen into the living room while Kassian cleaned up. Kassian put the Journalist Guild articles safely on a side table and stuck the leftover pizza in the fridge. By the time Kassian finished, Boyd had unpacked the boxes and spread the components across the living room table.

There was a metal box with a bunch of wires inside that functioned as the main boards and battery supply, several LCD keypads to input the codes, glass break sensors that looked like little round cameras, the cameras and the wiring to go with, and magnetic sensors for the windows and doors.

Although directions were included, the two agents set them to the side at first. Kassian had installed the alarm system before so at first it didn't seem necessary. Luckily, the system was wireless so the amount of wiring through existing walls was next to nothing, although they knew they would still have to drill through the wall for the control panel to connect to an outlet.

One of the disadvantages of getting the wireless rather than wired was a lot of it was dependent on batteries, which Boyd knew ahead of time since he'd done research. The Agency had developed a hybrid system, however, which was much more self-sustaining than the brand name systems that could be bought in a store.

While Kassian placed the components in like piles, Boyd went through his house planning where to place sensors, keypads, and other components. They also ended up in a discussion about the placement of the cameras, how many he should use, and where the information should be routed. Boyd's father's computer had died long ago and he'd never gotten it fixed, and although he had gotten a laptop after awhile it wasn't as powerful as a desktop would have been.

They ended up in an argument over where the cameras should be placed, the angle of them, and whether it made sense to route the feedback to his laptop or whether he should buy something specifically for that task that he could keep in a more protected area. For as much as they were friends, their mutual stubbornness hadn't changed whether or not they were on an official Agency mission.

It took several hours, a few glances at the directions, and another break to finish off the cold pizza but in the end they finally got the security system up and running. Boyd was feeling relieved just to get the project over with and he suspected Kassian felt the same.

Kassian went outside to walk in and out of the camera views while Boyd checked his laptop to make sure it was properly refreshing and he knew how to use the program to record, bookmark, and watch live. Once that was confirmed they went half by memory as they put the control panel into test mode to check whether all the sensors worked. Boyd walked around the house, opening and closing windows and doors while the alarm's siren periodically went off. Kassian kept shutting the siren off with the code Boyd had designated and Boyd would move on to the next test.

It took them several minutes to test everything to the extent that they were both satisfied. They were in the process of cleaning up the mess that was left behind when Boyd turned to ask Kassian something and found Jon standing by the hallway.

Boyd was so thoroughly startled that he almost dropped what he was holding. "What the hell?" he blurted.

Jon's scarred face was as calm as ever as he shrugged broad shoulders that were enveloped by a thick black cable knit sweater and nothing more. "You respond that way to me quite often, Agent Beaulieu."

Kassian stared at Jon. "What the hell are you doing here, Logan?"

"What a chilly reception," Jon commented blandly, his gaze focusing on Kassian without expression.

Boyd looked between Jon and the hallway, as if he could see the back door from this angle. "What's going on?" he pressed, sounding as confused and disconcerted as he felt. "And how the hell did you get in without the alarm sounding? We just tested everything."

"You must not have set it properly." Jon looked at him reproachfully. "I was sent to check on things at the Beaulieu homestead because one of you tripped the alarm that goes directly to the compound."

Boyd stared at Jon and then glanced at Kassian. "Oh," he said blankly, feeling slightly chagrined. "Well. That was stupid." He leaned over to shove the collapsed boxes into the large black garbage bag he'd brought into the living room. "The alarm wasn't supposed to go anywhere; we were in test mode. We just finished installing the system."

Kassian continued to frown at Jon, not appearing appeased in the least by this explanation.

Jon stared back and smiled in a detached and polite kind of way.

"How's Harriet?" Kassian asked abruptly.

"As luscious as ever," was the serene reply.

Kassian's mouth twitched as if he was going to respond but instead he turned his back.

"Nice house," Jon commented to Boyd as though the conversation with Kassian had never occurred.

Boyd decided not to get involved in anything between Jon and Kassian. "Thanks," he said as he finished shoving the garbage in the bag and tied it. He straightened and pushed some hair out of his eyes. "I can't take credit for any of it, though. It was bought and decorated by my parents, as you can probably tell."

He gestured to the minimalist decor with a general lack of personalized decorations and the sleek-lined modern furniture that fell in line with some of the furniture in Vivienne's office.

"I wouldn't expect you to live in this neighborhood," Jon continued, sliding his hands into the pockets of his slim cut slacks and acting as though he were oblivious to Kassian's stiff posture. "But then, your mum doesn't seem like the keeping-up-the-large-two-story-home type, either."

"My dad chose this place," Boyd explained with a slight smile.

It seemed like everyone who walked into the house who knew his mother from the Agency thought it was a strange place for her to live. Since he'd been raised in this house, it was natural to him to think of the house in connection to her so it was interesting sometimes to see how others viewed it.

"She moved out years ago," he continued with a shrug. "Everything's in my name. She lives at the Agency for the most part but I think she has a condo somewhere downtown too."

Jon nodded, his brown eyes moving over the room. "I should probably inform them that all is well," he observed mildly.

Boyd nodded. "Can you show me what went wrong after that? I don't want that to happen again. I've had enough of agents suddenly appearing when I don't expect it," he added blandly.

The Irish agent smirked and nodded shortly before holding up one finger and turning away with his phone at his ear. He took a few steps down the hall and murmured quietly into his phone when he was out of earshot, likely to protect the privacy of his call-in code name.

Kassian shot Boyd a frown. "That guy irritates me."

"I doubt he'll be around long once he helps with the alarm," Boyd said noncommittally with a shrug. He'd come to like Jon for the most part but he didn't say that aloud since there was no point. Kassian obviously didn't like him, which was unsurprising given the conversation they'd had before about Harriet.

"Why should he need to help with--"

Jon returned to the room, looking even more calm and collected in comparison to Kassian's irritation. It seemed that he'd shifted his dislike for Sin onto Jon.

"I'd bet you just weren't in the test mode at some point and the sensor went off. I could have a look if you like, to make sure it doesn't happen again."

"So one of the individual alarms was for sure tripped?"

"Apparently," the other man replied. "I came in believing you were being burgled. Luckily not. I don't know what I would have done with a civilian thief."

"You mean you wouldn't have called 911?" Boyd teased blandly.

Jon raised both of his dark eyebrows. "No, I would have likely had to kill the poor bloke and then call a clean up team," he said in a near apologetic tone.

Kassian stared at him.

Boyd reflected that it was sad that the Agency would likely expect that. "We'll have to make sure that doesn't happen, then," he replied more seriously. He glanced at the control panel. "If our only mistake was not being in test mode when we thought we were that's not a problem. Now that I know the alarms work I'll be more careful and I shouldn't need to test them out again."

The other man shrugged. "Okay. No harm done."

"Thanks for checking, though," Boyd said easily. "At least this time I was wearing clothes when you showed up."

Kassian snorted and Jon just smiled politely. "Should I go out the front door?"


Before Jon could do more than turn toward the door, his phone rang. He hesitated, pulled out his phone and once again flipped it open. He murmured his codename so low that even with Kassian and Boyd in the room, it was difficult to make it out intelligently.

Kassian eyeballed Jon curiously as the other man started to exit the house but then paused with his hand on the doorknob.

"Yes, I'm still here." Jon's brown eyes moved to Boyd as he continued the phone conversation. "Okay. Will do."

The cell phone clicked as he snapped it shut and raised an eyebrow at Boyd. "We have been summoned."

Boyd raised his eyebrows in return. "Okay." He glanced at Kassian as he headed toward his cell phone and keys. "I guess we'll have to hang out later."

Kassian stood, the curiosity on his face more apparent although he didn't ask questions. They never really talked about missions unless they had to and with Jon standing there, it was even less likely that Kassian would say more than was necessary anyway.

All three of them left at the same time and Boyd made sure he set the alarm behind him.

Continue to the next interlude: 3.25, Medley Part II