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Jake Foley, Man of International Sex Appeal

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Jake Foley, Man of International Sex Appeal

01: The Tech (Darin/Jake | 200w)

"You are never going to get laid if you don't loosen up a little."

Jake rolled his eyes. "Yeah, and if I were as loose as you, I'd be suspicious of anyone who would want to sleep with me."

Darin looked taken aback. "That was a low blow, Jake."

Jake sighed, pushing his beer away. "I know—I'm sorry. Drowning in my own self-pity makes me a little anti-social."

Darin slid closer over the bartop. "You need some help? You know I'm here for you." One of Darin's arms went around his shoulder, and he was nodding, like they'd discussed this before.

He looked at Darin with a mounting sense of distress. "Are you—no." But then one of Darin's hands noticeably made its way down to Jake's thigh. "Are you… are you seriously offering me pity sex?"

"Sex is sex, dude. Anyway, guys like us have to stick together."

"Guys like us?"

"Free men. Not weighed down by our suits and ties, majestic as wild stallions."

Jake laughed. "You didn't score, either."

"Totally beside the point. So you in?"

"It's not as pathetic if it's mutual pity sex, is it?"

Darien smiled. "Whatever you say man—whatever you say."

02: Training Day (Jake/Kyle, Diane/Jake UST | 100+100w)

She was a professional. Really. She was.

And when Jake came into the lab, so chipper and ready to take his shirt off at the drop of a hat, who was she to stop him? He wasn't embarrassed.

It was necessary for observing the changes in his musculature, anyway. So there was perfectly legitimate cause to watch him… and watch him… and watch him. His running had a certain hypnotic quality to it, the fast, regular rhythm—sort of Zen.

At times she wondered about exactly how enhanced all his physical functions were.

Out of purely professional curiosity. Of course.

*

Kyle had expected more of Sarah. Georgetown, a legislative director—those things implied intelligence. And how many years had Jake been carrying a torch for her? That kind of devotion surely must stem from some kind of ineffable appeal.

But from what he could hear of their conversation, she couldn't even recognize a good thing when it was sitting right across the table from her.

Now, if he'd been in her position, he knew exactly what he'd—

He shook his head, looking away from Jake's painful earnestness.

He definitely was not in her position, so it was pointless to speculate.

03: Caiter Waiter (Mei Ling/Kyle, Jake/Kyle/Mei Ling, Diane/Lou | 100+200+400w)

(pre-episode)

"We both jeopardize much by doing this." Mei Ling leaned against the headboard of the bed, creating a gorgeous red silhouette in the low lamplight, twirling her glass between her graceful fingers.

"Having a little plum wine?" Kyle asked, sipping his and unbuttoning his shirt. "I don't think so."

"Kyle, someday you must learn that this is no joking matter."

He put his glass down and ran the back of his hand down the side of her cheek.

"That day isn't today."

Their bodies met with a sense of urgency that, no matter how close they got, they couldn't shake.

*

Mei Ling was so small that it hardly seemed there was anything between them at all.

But even as Jake was aware of her—of all her movements, the soft silk of her back pressed up against his chest—he was hyper-aware of Kyle. Kyle's hand resting on the dip of her side, how near it was to Jake's hand on her thigh; Kyle's eyes, translucent in the shifting shafts of light cutting through the blinds; his calves, brushing up against Jake's legs as the three of them shifted, strong muscle and warm skin. Every time they touched, his nanites surged, making the sensation sensitive almost to the point of unbearable, and without meaning to, his hearing tuned in to the sound of Kyle's breathing and heartbeat.

"Try to keep up, little boy," Mei Ling said, bringing him back to her; her hands tracked over him with frightening expertise, tweaking, teasing, evoking responses he didn't even know he'd had in him.

"Oh, God," he breathed into her neck, and then he felt one of Kyle's hands on his chest, and his muscles strained fully taut with the knowledge.

He fell apart saying her name, but looking up into Kyle's eyes.

*

(post-episode, same night)

"Lou?" Diane pushed her glasses up her nose, and Lou smiled; she could almost see the wheels turning in Diane's head, how, most likely, she was wondering if she was having some kind of bad dream.

She held up the six pack. "I was wondering if you might like to split this." Then she held up the other hand with the bottle of pineapple rum. "Or this, if you're not a beer person."

"Oh—wow, alcohol!—come in, come in." Diane's head was titled to the side curiously at the bottles, and her robe had fallen a bit open when she'd dropped her arms from the instinctive defensive posture that anyone sane adopts when they open the door to a stranger past midnight.

"I thought maybe you could use some help unwinding," Lou said, setting the drinks down on the counter. "But I can see I caught you at a bad time, so I can just leave these with you and—"

"Oh, no, no, no. This is great. Really great. I was just watching my seven millionth re-run of Jeopardy and…" Diane waved her hands around a bit. "Can't sleep. I'm still a little—or, um, a lot—wound up from earlier."

Lou unscrewed the top on the pineapple rum and took a hearty swig, and offered it to Diane. "I can tell you from personal experience that this stuff works wonders." She knew it wouldn't help Diane get over her fear for Jake, or make the job any easier. But sometimes forgetting, relaxing, even if just for a night, was the difference between an early burn-out and staying in the game. She'd lost more than one agent who didn't realize that.

Diane took it delicately, holding it in both hands much the way a squirrel with a particularly tasty nut would. She sniffed it experimentally and took a tiny sip. After a slight cringe, her face lit up. "Wow, this stuff is great! Do you mind if I…?"

Lou put a hand on her shoulder, grinning.

"Bottoms up."

:::

If three-quarters of the bottle after that, the two of them had ended up hiccuping and giggling and in their underwear on Diane's bed, neither said so much as a word about it the next day. (Jake, worried, asked if Lou cut funding to the program; that was the only time Diane acted so tightly strung and gave Lou the silent treatment.)

But at the end of the day, they met in the bathroom and quietly exchanged underwear. Dressing while hungover was neither of their fortes.

And without any fuss, they agreed to meet on Friday to split another bottle.

04: Arms and the Girl (Theresa/Jake | 100w)

"Don't be shy," she said, and put her hand over his, helping him guide the brush down her front. He painted a line of brilliant blue from her neck, down between her breasts, and finally stopping right below her belly button.

"It's not toxic?" He said, a little worried as she dabbed dots of red on his hipbones.

"My shower's big enough for two," she said, using the wooden side of the brush to trace lines on his thighs.

"Oh. Oh."

She handed him the brush and stood up, clad only in her heels from Caracas.

"Now we paint, Jake."

05: The Good, The Bad and The Geeky (Yori/Jake | 200w)

Jake had a good idea of what DuMont and Yori had done online. He'd glanced at more than one of the transcripts—for the mission, naturally—but he would only get a few lines in before he'd look away, blushing furiously.

But they weren't online, and he couldn't look away from her. She was like all of his thirteen-year-old fantasies in the flesh: beautiful, interested in him (well, DuMont, but he wasn't going to split hairs) and best of all, she thought his geekiness was desirable.

Actually, on the geek quotient scale, she might be a few points higher than him.

He didn't analyze too closely why that was the sexiest thing about her.

And when she pushed him up against that bathroom stall door, who was he to put up a fight? After all, he was supposed to be DuMont, and from what he could tell, the guy wouldn't turn down a frisky dog if it barked at him the right way.

Maybe he went a little overboard, nearly knocking himself out when the back of his head slammed the thick wall tiles, but it was all in a day's work.

Really. The things he did for his country.

06: Last Man Standing (Jake/Mystery Man, Diane/Sarah | 250+300w)

"You think maybe you were a little aggressive out there?"

The man was the only person Jake had ever met that could make a smile look like a promise to kill. "No." He took a few steps closer. "I don't."

"Oh, yeah? Then what was it?"

The smile sharpened. "A good hunt."

Jake, his spine fighting not to melt into an embarrassing puddle, glared to compensate. "Find someone else to hunt, man."

"And give up pretty prey like you?" The man's hand darted fast—too fast—fingers molding to Jake's jaw. "I don't think so."

"I don't know what your deal is—"

The rest of his insult (which, really, would have been scathing by the time he figured out what it was going to be) was cut off when the man shoved him up against the wall. What they were doing couldn't be classified as kissing—that would imply a level of affection that wasn't here, at all—and it just barely stayed out of the realm of bodily harm.

What really freaked Jake out was how good it felt.

The man stepped back (he didn't even the decency to look winded, while Jake felt like he'd had several knocked out of him), still keeping Jake barred in with an arm at either side of him.

"So you want to see aggressive, pretty boy?" The smile gleamed like a newly-minted razor.

Jake could only nod, and let the man bruisingly kiss him all the way back to his room.

*

God, she was just… she was a crime against womanhood. That's what she was. With her smile and her hair and her deep, throaty laugh and her stupid cleavage. And toying with Jake the way she did, it wasn't right. Wasn't right at all.

Especially the cleavage.

She fully blamed the cleavage for hypnotizing her into accepting Sarah's invitation for lunch, and then Sarah's invitation for margaritas at the bar after lunch. With Jake out paintballing or whatever brute male initiations he was participating in, she didn't have much to do, and the smile and the low cut shirt, they… they were so tempting.

And they were even worse when Sarah bribed the employee in charge of the gym and reserved a sauna just for the two of them. Diane had only agreed to go because she'd been sure there would be lots of other women there to… buffer her from her weakness.

Sarah just liked to ruin all her plans.

Wrapped tightly in her towel, she was prepared to endure the next hour with the same fortitude that all the agents showed in the field (never mind the fact that Sarah wasn't an enemy and this wasn't a hostile situation, because it sure felt like one).

But then Sarah, the one who had to ruin all her carefully laid plans, laid back on the bench and let her towel just drop to the floor.

"Ohmygodyourbreasts," Diane was mortified to hear herself say, and dropped to her knees on the floor, covering her face.

She heard Sarah walk over, and had her hands lifted slowly off her face.

"It's about time you got the hint, Diane." Sarah was grinning. "I thought I was going to have to put a red target on my chest to get you to notice them."

07: Jerry 2.0 (Sarah/Jake | 100w)

It was everything he'd imagined, and more. That was the most unbelievable part of being with her—he'd become resigned over the years to the certainty that no woman could live up to all the fantasies he'd put into her.

But she did.

Sarah truly was… perfect.

And, yet, as he watched her sleep, it wasn't exhilaration or elation he felt. It was more like seeing the cover close on a heavy tome, hearing the final bell toll from the church. A sense of completion.

A recognition that something as unreal as what they have is ended before it's begun.

08: Middlemen (Jake/Lafortunata, Diane/Fran UST | 100+200w)

He didn't really see the problem Kyle had with Seymour. Sure, he talked a lot—okay, maybe more than a lot—but all his stories were interesting (a few of them were going to give him nightmares, though) and they wouldn't have been able to crack the case without him.

Then again, he doubted Kyle had gotten the "all access tour" like Jake was getting right now (he could just imagine Kyle running at the offer) or that he'd found out hands-on exactly how multi-talented Seymour was.

Because, wow, yeah—his mouth was good for way more than just talking.

*

(post-episode, next day)

"Men," she lamented to the laptop screen, throwing her arms up in frustration. "I don't know why I thought there was any hope for them."

Putting her chin on her hand, she went back to brooding about Steve, the lying traitor of a bastard.

"Hey, you—I had a hunch I'd find you here."

The sudden appearance of Fran's voice nearly made Diane fall out of her chair; she scrambled to keep her balance, arms wind milling and legs waving.

"I've got you," Fran said calmly, and she did; Diane's back was now braced on Fran's chest, Fran's arms lined up under hers, supporting her at the elbows.

"Oh, uh, thank you—I-I, sometimes I'm so clumsy, you know? I didn't know there was anyone else in here, was all—" Diane's mouth worked over-time to compensate for the strange loop her brain had just been thrown for: one minute, she was cursing the existence of the y-chromosome, and the next, a very warm, soft x-chromosome carrier had whisked her off her feet like a knight in a shining labcoat.

"I've got you," Fran repeated, her lips warm on Diane's ear.

Maybe fate didn't hate her so much, after all.

09: Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot (Lou/Jake | 200w)

He'd always known Lou could kick his ass.

But more in a theoretical, admire from afar (and don't even think of touching) way. Not like this, pinned flat on his back against the mat and her glaring scary, scary daggers down at him.

"Stop holding back, Foley. The Wolf Pack treats fear like the scent of fresh blood, especially on rookies. I don't even want to think how you'll manage in the field if this is the best you've got. Now get up and stop playing around. That's an order."

"Yes—"

Her eyes narrowed.

"Hooah!" he yelled, jumping up and getting right in her face, just a little bit tired of having the stuffing knocked out of him and his competence constantly questioned. He squared his shoulders, and when he felt the sweet subdermal hum of the nanites, he punched her clear across the room.

He rushed over, thinking, Great, that's the order I decide to follow?, but when he turned Lou over, she was laughing.

"That's more like it, soldier," she said, pulling him down to the mat with her with a feral grin, and then she taught him the single most important use of the word hooah.

10: The Spy Who Really Liked Me (Angela/Jake | 100w)

Angela was possibly the craziest person he'd ever had sex with. (Well, except for that time he'd… done things… with a figment of his own nano-imagination. But he tried not to think about that.) She shrieked like a wild woman and threw herself at him with such reckless abandon that it worried him as much as turned him on.

There was an edge of desperation about her, crackling under her laughter and smiles. He recognized it, understood it all too well because of who'd become in the past few months. So he met her stride for stride, screaming right along.

11: The Prince and the Revolution (Jake/Malik | 300w)

The last person he expected to see when he opened his eyes was Malik.

"What? What?" He jumped halfway out of bed, trying to look in every possible direction at once for an attack as he groped at the nightstand for his gun.

"Chill, Jake." Malik, like himself, was clad only in boxers. "I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd come bother you."

Jake, making an effort to reduce the adrenaline that had started flooding his system when he'd panicked, took a deep breath and flopped back onto the bed. "Gee, thanks. So glad to serve as your whipping post, O Great Prince."

"Hey, I told you—you call me that, you're fired."

"Well, now that I'm awake, what did you want to do?"

"Well, I was thinking we could shoot some more hoops, maybe you could teach me a few moves, but…" Malik reached a hand out and let one of his fingers trace a line over the elastic band of Jake's boxers. "I think now I might have some other ideas."

"Whoa," Jake said, scuttling back on the bed covers, bumping his head up against the headboard when he could go no further. "I don't think you should—you know, I'm your body guard, so there are about a hundred ways I could get fired, really fired by my actual boss, for doing something like—"

Malik leaned back on his elbows, eyes half-lidded. "I solemnly swear that I won't try to ditch you again."

Jake swallowed, trying not to pay attention to how low-waisted Malik's boxers were—which was a little difficult with them almost falling off.

"I already told you I can't be bribed—"

"I'll let you drive."

At that, Jake was on him before Malik's mouth had a chance to close on the offer.

12: Double Agent (Jake/Kyle UST | 200w)

"Jake."

"Yeah?" He paused with his hand on the handle of the car door.

Kyle looked at him with an intensity that he usually reserved for interrogations. Jake swallowed, backing up against the car door.

"How did you know about Richard?"

Jake chuckled from relief; he'd been expecting a tirade about what an awful job he'd done. "Oh, that? Nothing to it. I just imagined how weird I must have been acting when the nanites were making me see things at my friend Kevin's wedding. Then it all just clicked into place."

"Do you think…" Kyle looked down, briefly, slipping his hands into his pockets. "Nothing like that will happen to you again, will it? Diane isn't worried?"

Jake's smile faded into a grasping uncertainty. He tried to catch Kyle's eye. "Are you?"

But when Kyle did meet his inquiry, and he saw a raw, exposed quality in Kyle's face that hadn't been there before, he almost regretted asking.

"Always," Kyle said, too low for human hearing—a whisper he typically used on missions when he couldn't risk the targets hearing his instructions to Jake—and walked around the side of the car, getting in without another glance Jake's way.

13: Blackout (DuMont/Jake, Mark/DuMont UST | 200+200)

"It's okay, Jake. It's going to be okay now."

Kevin hugged him like it was the most normal thing in the world.

For all Jake knew, it was.

So he let the breath he'd been holding out, and put his arms around his… boyfriend.

:::

Dinner was amazing. Jake couldn't remember whether he'd liked any of these dishes before, but they all tasted incredible.

Kevin seemed to know just the right things to say, all the right things to do to make him feel at ease.

Putting on another forced smile and swallowing another bite of casserole, he tried to figure out why instead of making him feel more at home, Kevin's laughter put him even more on edge.

:::

"Let me help you relax," Kevin said, kneading his shoulders, maneuvering him down onto the bed.

And as things had been going since he'd woken up here, Kevin knew all the places to touch him, even the sensitivity in his skin that he thought would serve as a perfect excuse to avoid this very encounter—but instead proved to be his undoing.

This isn't right, he wanted to say, but couldn't, because that was part of what stopped him from running away.

*

"You should have been there—just priceless. He moans like a little girl," DuMont threw his head back, laughing hysterically.

"I really don't need to know the details." Mark said, the set of his shoulders and jaw visibly tight.

"What?" DuMont threw an arm around his shoulders, shaking him. "You'd rather I have some meaningless sex with you?"

Mark jerked away too fast, not saying anything for a minute.

"Can we just get this over with? The longer we keep him here, the more we risk."

DuMont picked up his wine glass, filled nearly to overflowing, and held it to Mark's lips, droplets of color sloshing onto his skin. "C'mon, Doctor. Don't you even want a little sip? All fun and no play makes me self-mutilate." He raised an appraising eyebrow. "And pouting is not a good look for you."

Mark again made pretense of trying to wrench out of DuMont's grasp. "We have to be careful—"

DuMont cut him off by pouring the wine in his mouth, and then kissed him roughly so that they were sharing the flavor.

"Fruity," he said, smacking his lips together and smiling at the sputtering Mark. "Just the way you like it."

14: Get Foley (Jake/Kyle UST, Diane/Jake | 100+300w)

When Diane said the name Kyle, it almost triggered something—like remembrance, itching at the back of his eyelids, tickling familiarity.

But even closing his eyes, all he could remember was the inexplicable feeling of betrayal when Duarte—Kyle—had reached out to grab him. To take him prisoner, just like Kevin (or DuMont or whatever the hell his name was) had guaranteed would happen.

He still didn't know why he'd wanted to trust Kyle at first sight, or why he thought Kyle would be the one who would set everything right again—to give him back what he'd lost.

*

"I remember. I remember everything!" He exclaimed happily, power-sipping another beer. He'd discovered not too long ago that the nanites were good for more than just fighting crime—they also aided in the quick consumption of carbonated alcoholic products.

"Duh, Jake, I know what I'm doing. I don't give those shots to just anyone, you know," Diane said, giggling into her beer, her breath making a faint jug-like noise as it went across the bottle-necked opening. The sound sent them into further gales of laughter; soon they were collapsed on Jake's floor (which smelled like roast beef, but he was learning to like it). Jake was upside down, his legs propped up on the couch, and Diane was full-out sprawled, her legs under the coffee table and her head on the floor near Jake's.

"I'll never underestimate you again," he said, tone lowering into more serious territory.

"You better not." She reached out, tweaked his nose. Her hand didn't retract, though, index finger sketching out a zig-zagging path across his cheek and jaw.

It wasn't entirely clear which one of them kissed the other first; one moment, they were resting comfortably approximately a foot apart, and the next, they were clinched together with not an inch to spare, Jake on his back with his hands on her hips, Diane kissing him all over and murmuring about how she couldn't stand the thought of losing him.

"You didn't give up on me," he whispered into her hair, pulling her closer. "You saved me, Diane."

She pressed her forehead against his, laughing breathlessly. "Yeah, for kinda selfish reasons. You think cute agents with a full complement of working nanites just grow in trees or something?"

"So you think I'm cute?"

She kissed him again, and that was all the answer he needed.

15: Dead Man Talking (Ben/Jake UST, Lou/Kyle UST, Jennifer/Lou UST | 100+100+500w)

Just look at him. Mr. Perfect, charming everyone's socks off, going around like he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Jake might not have the best fieldwork track record. But it wasn't like he'd been doing this for very long—for the amount of time he'd been kicking bad guy ass, in his estimation, his learning curve was pretty damn good.

Just look at him.

Unfortunately, Jake was looking at him. That was the most unfair thing of them all, in his mind.

He was sure somewhere in the Usurpers' Handbook there was a rule against looking that good.

*

Kyle caught her leaning on the doorjamb, looking in on the sterile and empty room.

"You did the right thing, Lou," he said, coming to stand beside her.

"Do you think that matters to Alex?" He had to look away from the shielded hollowness in her eyes.

"To the real Alex, I think that's all that matters. You know that's not him."

She was quiet.

"If you ever need someone…"

She nodded, once. "I know."

"For anything, Lou." He swallowed, stepping down on his pride, sure he already knew her answer. "Anything at all."

But she surprised him.

"I know."

*

(post-episode)

She knew how humbled Jennifer must be to call her, after the way they'd left things. Knew it for a fact. Reminding herself very forcefully of that was the only way she could accept the offer for coffee.

They'd barely made it through their cappuccinos before Jennifer broke down sobbing, though, so Lou took her back home and gave her a shoulder to cry on.

Jennifer fell asleep on the couch, and Lou kept a vigil for a few hours before gently tucking in a blanket around her and turning off the light.

As she'd feared, they slowly fell into a pattern. Jennifer would call her, cheerful and friendly on the surface, and invite her out for dinner or drinks. Lou would hear the unspoken tension beneath the invitations and accept without hesitation. She'd maintained civility with Jennifer at work out of respect for Alex and her position as a professional counseling a woman who, for all intents and purposes, was a widow.

But the recognition of what Jennifer was going through was too strong for her to ignore off the job. It was the same cycle of mourning she'd gone through when she thought she'd killed Alex.

The same one she was still going through.

And, after dinner or drinks, one of them would drop a comment that would get them talking about the old times, and they'd travel back together to dark places both wanted to leave behind, but couldn't. They inhabited them together, held hands in the dark, and tried to face the demons that threatened to eat them from the inside out.

As Jennifer's anger towards her thawed, Lou felt her own customary tight reserve respond in kind. She began to see what it was that must have attracted Alex—Jennifer had an openness about her, a certain naiveté that made you want to shelter her, protect her from the cruelties of life. Lou knew how dangerous that impulse was, but Jennifer befriended just as intensely as she had originally condemned her, and the three-hundred sixty-degree emotional turn left her reeling.

She did her best to keep her distance, but one night, as they were watching a light, romantic comedy (something to take the edge off the work day, Jennifer had promised), and the triangle of the two women loving the same man began to hit too close to home, Jennifer turned to her.

"The whole time I was with Alex, I would have burst out crying at a film like this. I tried so hard… so hard to make him love me the way he loved you." Her smile was shaky; she put her hand on top of Lou's. "But, I… uh…" She exhaled gustily, biting her lip. "Well, I'm not crying, am I? I have you to thank for that, Lou."

"No thanks necessary," Lou said, but didn't pull away when Jennifer wove their fingers together.

They watched the rest of the movie like that, Jennifer's head cradled in Lou's shoulder, sore-hearted but dry-eyed.

16: Upgrade (Jake/Shinji, Diane/Fran, Jake/Kyle | 200+300+700w)

Too tired to kill him, and the assassin was too exhausted to die. Solution? Well… not one that the pre-upgrade Jake might have thought of, but with all those happy new nanites buzzing around his head and a rush of blood down to certain places when the honorable (but crappy) assassin was stripped out of his shirt by a close swipe with the sword (a totally cool weapon, but obviously one that took some practice to get the hang of), and Jake couldn't seem to think of anything else.

"Does this seem gay to you?" Shinji asked, breaking apart their kiss.

"Well… a little, yeah. Have you ever heard of the term 'three beer queer'?"

Shinji shook his head, but didn't take his hand off Jake's ass, which was a promising sign.

"It means… it's sort of like…" He tried to think of the most delicate way to phrase it. "What it means, Shinji, is that the beer made you do it."

"Ah." Shinji smiled. "This is why they did not let me have alcohol."

Then they got back to business, and Jake was pleased to find out that crappy assassins made up for it by being great in bed.

*

"Are we in for an all-nighter then?"

Diane didn't look up from the screen. "Huh?"

"Well, some people like to eat when they get upset; you like to work." Fran walked over to Diane's desk. "It's a habit we're going to have to train you out of."

"We are?"

Fran undid one of the buttons on her lavender shirt, and removed a few pins from Diane's hair.

Diane blinked rapidly. "Wait, weren't you dating that guy, the one with the, uh, well, that condition that I promised I wouldn't laugh about when I met him?"

"Him." Fran waved her hand dismissively. "Like I was saying. Men—they're all dogs. You, on the other hand, are possibly the sanest person I've ever dated."

Diane blushed at the attention, playing with Fran's buttons. "Yeah? My mom tells me I'm a little neurotic, but I think she's just jealous that she's still stuck at home with my dad and all he wants to do is watch Jeopardy."

"It's true," Fran said, slipping off Diane's glasses and stepping between Diane's now-parted legs, "Sane and cute. I thought girls like you were a myth."

Diane's breath caught as Fran's fingers walked down the front of her shirt.

"Well, Ms. Yoshida, I think I might have to have to ask you to stay the night so we can get this…" Diane bit her lip when her bra unclasped, "…very important research done."

"I'm happy and willing to put in all the hours necessary," Fran said, biting Diane's neck and earlobes. "Just say the word."

When Diane, obviously drained of her vocal ability to formulate words, wrapped her legs around Fran's waist in answer, Fran laughed, and hit the button for the automatic blinds that would seal the lab into privacy and make it theirs for the night.

*

Jake heard Kyle's footsteps approaching, but he could not look away from Yuki's body.

He'd tried so hard, so hard—the upgrade was supposed to change this, to make this stop… but she just wouldn't give up.

When the sound of Kyle's shoes hitting the cement became too loud to ignore, he looked over, and realized that Kyle was the only one on the scene. Stretching his hearing, he heard that rest of the team was still well inside the building, far behind Kyle.

As Kyle approached, Jake started to ask if he was okay, what the hurry was, but the words were hardly out of his mouth before the air was squeezed out of him; as soon as Kyle was in reach, he grabbed Jake without any warning, holding him in a near death-grip.

"Tell me that you're all right," Kyle said, hoarse and choked.

"I'm all right," Jake said obediently, bringing his hands up to rest on Kyle's back.

Having Diane tell him that Kyle cared was so much different than actually feeling it, like this. With Kyle's chest inhaling huge gasps of air against his, Kyle's hands patting down his back, as if to make sure that Jake was all still in one piece.

"I am, now, anyway," he said, sinking into what had become an embrace instead of a vice-grip.

They broke apart reluctantly before the rest of the team arrived on the scene; Jake answered their questions in a daze, and wasn't surprised when Kyle got behind the wheel of his car and drove him home.

"You can't save everyone," Kyle said, the lights from the oncoming cars playing over his somber features.

Jake looked out the window, focusing his vision on the stars until he couldn't see anything else. "It hasn't gotten any easier… to watch a person… t-to do that to a person."

Kyle's hand was warm on his shoulder. "That's what makes you a good agent, Jake."

"Sometimes it doesn't feel that way."

"I know. But it's why I'll always want you on my team."

Jake's vision blurred when he tried to shift it from the stars to Kyle's face.

"Really? Is that why you fought to make me an agent?"

Kyle glanced at him, mouth just barely showing a smile. "That and your keen fashion sense."

"Don't knock on the geek duds, man. They keep me incognito."

"You do know the definition of incognito, right?" Kyle asked with his patented eyebrow raise.

"I am not at liberty to reveal whether I do currently know, or have ever known, the definition of the word incognito."

Kyle laughed, and soon Jake joined him; this wasn't the first—or the last—conversation they would have about this, but for now, it was enough.

:::

Back at Jake's apartment, in a strangely synchronized dance of movements, they got beers from the fridge, cracked them open, sat on the couch, and watched TV. They'd exhausted conversation topics in the car ride over and were companionably silent in a way that partners often were. Fifteen minutes into their third episode of The Dick Van Dyke show, Kyle put his hand on Jake's thigh; Jake slid back on the couch, his legs widening as he slouched down.

Continuing their dance without a word, Kyle took Jake's pants off, and Jake took Kyle's shirt off; they adjusted to a horizontal position in tandem, without any of Jake's usual awkwardness. Only when they were naked, Kyle's hips between Jake's legs and the TV muted, did they make eye contact; Kyle cupped Jake's face in one hand, running his thumb over Jake's cheekbone, looking like there were a million things he wanted to say but that he had the words for none.

"I'm all right," Jake said. Kyle's body was like a string cut loose, the tension draining out as he eased down onto Jake.

Jake put a hand on the back of Kyle's neck and pulled him in for a kiss, their first, a physical affirmation that, yes, he wanted this, wanted it just as much as Kyle did, and—oh, yes—unlike so many other things in his life, he wouldn't regret this. He wouldn't regret it at all.