Occasionally, we get questions from readers wondering about something in particular they read. On September 11, 2011 on our site’s forum, user pureskyblue asked the following question. Note that this question was asked before the series had ended.
NOTE: the question and answer both are placed behind a cut because they contain MAJOR SPOILERS through Fade chapter 4!
After reading about Boyd’s many sexual adventures, it struck me that he rarely uses protection. Unless it’s implied, I have gotten the feeling that a lot of barebacking is going on here. After the valentine mission as a sex slave, wouldn’t all those drug-laced sexual encounters without condoms (unless I am not reading in to it carefully enough) expose Boyd to STD risks? I know this really kills the mood of the story and it would kill me if the authors write Boyd slowly dying of AIDS or suffering from illness (please don’t go there). This also makes me think of all those other valentine field ops and well, how they are directed to cope with this risk. I still hope in this universe that Boyd is lucky and maybe there isn’t much STD risk. I don’t want to put any ideas in the authors’ heads and then destroy Boyd’s and Sin’s relationship so this is just a curiosity that wants to be addressed. This also relates to why I don’t really want Boyd to have random sexual encounters.
My answer was as follows– and I apologize in advance for the length of it.
It’s true that Boyd doesn’t always use protection. He did use it sometimes with Kassian, and rarely has, if ever, with Sin. He did use it with Lou and Thierry.
During the valentine mission, I think this was briefly mentioned in the story but this is a better place to explain more fully.
Cyclone screens the clients. Only people who are free of STDs/STIs are allowed to have sex with the slaves without protection. Cyclone actually takes STDs/STIs and clean sex very seriously because it would drastically hurt their reputation if a high paying client came away with something unsavory from using their services.
Above all else, Aleixo is a businessman and he would consider that to be one of the worst case scenario occurrences for his company. Especially since the clientele they cater to are incredibly rich, incredibly powerful, and could be a huge problem if they decided to turn on Cyclone.
However, even with screening, sometimes things get through. Over the time Boyd was there, there were some slaves who contracted an STD/STI. This was noted because the slaves were constantly being checked between clients. They were always checked immediately after a session and before going to a new one. The time in between those checks could be however long it took between them being requested, usually, but they also did random checks sometimes if they had reason to question someone or they just felt like it. These checks were for the client’s protection, not the slave’s, but in the end it worked in the favor of the slaves since they would have been incapable of thinking of their own safety.
Another way slaves sometimes contracted an infection or disease was through the security personnel (who Boyd refers to as guards so I will too, to be less confusing). The guards who worked up to the rank of watching the floor where the slaves slept had the unofficial perk of being able to have sex with any of the slaves whenever they wanted as long as it didn’t interfere with anyone’s duties.
For instance, one of the guards who slept with Boyd often was Aleixo’s nephew Dimitri, who had been one of the people who picked Boyd up from the Bowery and had planned to go after Boyd since then. The guards would typically just show up in the room whenever they felt like it, even if the slave was asleep, or would summon the slave elsewhere on a whim.
It ended up working in Boyd’s favor that Dimitri was attracted to him since he was brought to Aleixo’s attention earlier than he otherwise would have been without Dimitri. Slaves pretty much never interacted with Aleixo unless he was choosing a new personal slave or he was conducting an unexpected visit to make sure the place was running smoothly.
But although the guards were supposed to use protection, they didn’t always. And although the guards were checked before they gained that rank, and were supposed to remain clean, they weren’t checked as constantly as the slaves once they were on that level. So sometimes a guard infected a slave and it took a bit to realize the guard wasn’t clean. He was usually reassigned at that point but it would be too late for the slaves by then.
Slaves who had any sort of STI or STD, no matter how serious, were put in a quarantined area, because it wasn’t uncommon for slaves to have sex with each other and Cyclone didn’t want it to spread. If it was an illness that was too problematic or difficult to easily treat, they were sent to what the slaves called ‘Death Row’ which was another completely separated part of the compound.
Those slaves were then allowed to be used by whoever for whatever purpose. Clients who were high paying but could spread a disease or infection of some sort, but who refused to use protection, could then have access to those slaves. At that point, those slaves were basically given up for death, hence the name.
The clients who had more specialized tastes that could seriously harm the slaves were sent there too. There was a rumor that a director used slaves from that group for snuff films. The rumor was never verified but it was pretty persistent among the slaves. Since no one ever came back from Death Row, no one ever wanted to be sent there.
In Boyd’s case, he was one of the lucky ones who saw clients who either used protection or were clean when they didn’t. Once he was in Aleixo’s care, the usage of protection was more common.
Still, part of his anger and bitterness upon returning was tied not only into everything that had happened but also the danger it had held for him. The fact that he really could have done everything he could as an agent but due to circumstances beyond his control he could have been one of the people shipped off to Death Row and never seen again. It was one more way the Agency had rolled the dice on his life.
Regarding general valentine missions, the agents typically use protection because it’s problematic if they get put out of commission for anything. Still, if there’s something that requires them not to for any reason, then they would be expected not to use it.
It’s also partially up to the valentine as to what they do. If they have some strong preference that they are willing to deal with the consequences of, the Agency isn’t going to usually care enough to interfere. Provided whatever mission is finished that was supposed to be finished, the rest of it is a bit on the agent’s shoulders.
Sort of like how Boyd usually wears body armor on missions involving the possibility of gunfire and Sin usually doesn’t. If Sin gets killed because he didn’t wear body armor, it’s basically on his shoulders. But he feels he does a better job without it. That’s obviously not a direct correlation but it’s just to illustrate how the agents have some amount of discretion in general.
The medic wing of the Agency also is equipped to deal with different things if they arise. They have a stock of drugs that could be useful, like morning after pills if female valentines ever need it. They also have drugs to increase libido if an agent ever wants/needs it, which was one reason Boyd was wondering upon his return whether the Agency would co-opt Slide and rework it into something that would work for the valentines.