Fade Prologue

This site is..

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

The story contains..

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


Book One: Evenfall See Evenfall chapter list.

Book Two: Afterimage
See Afterimage chapter list.

Interludes list

Book Three: Fade
See Fade chapter list.


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Fade Prologue

Uploaded on 4/2/2011

The air in Annadale Beach smelled like a mixture of salt, ash and rotting wood. It wasn't exactly pleasant. In fact, it reminded Danny at times of the decayed strip of land that had once been New York City.

He and Kayla had made the long road trip up there when they'd first started hanging out. The sprawl of a decimated urban jungle had made one hell of a first date. What had started out as an intriguing and exciting adventure into the ruins of one of the greatest cities of the not-so-distant past had quickly turned haunting and disturbing as soon as they'd arrived.

It was a reminder of how fucked up their world was and how far from it all Annadale Beach could really seem. Sure, the air had something reminiscent of New York's rot but it couldn't be avoided. The number of vacant businesses, shuttered and foreclosed houses, and boarded up gone-for-the-season homes on the beach were busy collecting mildew in the moist air. But the salt from the sea could overpower all of that sometimes. It reminded Danny that he was lucky to be in the tiny apartment and to be making a small living in the small town.

He was lucky to be somewhere that still had that fresh air smell. Lucky that there was still one place that hadn't been condensed into a concrete wasteland that was vast and overpopulated like the major cities that had survived the wars. The people in those cities were nothing more than nameless identification numbers with residency placards. They were cogs in a machine that churned ruthlessly as it tried to get back to what it once was while cracking down on the civilian population in the process.


Danny looked over his shoulder at the thin feminine form on his narrow bed. She always slept in the fetal position and was fitful even then. She would thrash often; red hair sticking to sweaty cheeks as nightmares got the best of her.

"I'm going to work," he called quietly across the room. "Go back to sleep."

She murmured something sleepily and rolled over. He admired the fall of silky red hair over one pale, freckled shoulder. It seemed more innocent than sensual, though, and not for the first time he wished that his perception of her would change.

Danny turned back to the glass balcony door and looked out at the grey rolling waves of the ocean. It was a gloomy day, which was fine with him. He wasn't in the mood for sunshine. Sunshine always made him feel guilty when he wasn't in a good mood. As though he was wasting one of those rare but increasingly frequent clear days.

He was glad for the coming storm. The guilt and unsatisfied knot in his gut wouldn't let him enjoy anything else.

In the nearly six months that he'd been in Annadale Beach, he'd had three lovers. Kayla was the third. She still wasn't what he was looking for. He was starting to wonder if his desperation to unwind that knot in his stomach was leading him in the wrong direction. Finding lovers hadn't worked; not male or female.

Maybe a lover wasn't what he needed. Maybe it was a real friend. Family. Something other than the superficial ties he'd forged at the Beach so quickly. But he'd never considered that and so lovers had been what he'd sought.

What had started out as a flirtation had taken a sharp turn towards seriousness after that trip to New York.

Danny closed his eyes, thick eyelashes blocking the already muted daylight, and allowed himself to flash back to that trip.

He remembered picking their way along the border between the safe area and the radioactive land. He remembered the shattered and staggered skyscrapers looming in the sky like destroyed machines with a thousand unseeing eyes. He remembered the prickling-skin-sensation of someone watching them in the dead zone and not seeing that person. There appeared to be no one around for miles and miles.

He remembered Kayla's hushed admission that she was scared of the stories. The tales of mutated survivors who were said to still live in the radiated hulls of these dead cities. The people who lived in the tunnels and sewers; the places they'd sought refuge in when the bombs had exploded their lives.

The scavengers. The Ferals, people called them.

Danny had never believed in them himself but that day, he'd started to.

He'd started seeing vivid images of feral faces with leather-like skin stretched taut over bone. Hands that had turned into claws from all of the digging in the wreckage as they looked for something to survive. The yellow eyes like the sickliest jaundice and the greyish skin. And he'd started wondering about the intense paranoia that they were said to have. The paranoia of outsiders combined with a mentality that made anything that wasn't a Feral look like food.

Danny remembered Kayla's panicked face as the feeling of being followed persisted until they scrambled over the remnants of a bridge. He remembered wondering if they'd fall into the filthy river as they climbed across the only remaining extension that crossed the entire body of water. He remembered the bursts of relieved laughter as their fear of Ferals dissipated only to have it replaced quickly with something a lot more real.

Another urban legend but this one true. The kids from the Bowery.

The memories were vivid and Danny felt the burn of anger just remembering that day. Flashing images crossed his mind and he unconsciously looked over his shoulder at Kayla. He didn't want to remember the helpless rage as they'd been robbed and attacked. He didn't want to remember the desperate fight. He didn't want to think about what would have happened if the patrols hadn't arrived when they had.

Kayla murmured something again in her sleep, jerking Danny out of his reverie. He blinked rapidly.

What the hell was wrong with him today?

He let out a sigh and returned to getting dressed. Loose jeans, a button-up flannel, backwards cap over long hair pulled back into a low ponytail and his apron over one shoulder. Customary work outfit. It didn't take much thought and so his mind once again began to wander.

Back to Kayla. Back to his failure to find what he was looking for.

They'd bonded that day. Bonded over the intensity of nearly dying, of her gratitude and his protectiveness and guilt that he hadn't been able to do more. She said she felt love. He knew that wasn't what his own feelings were. It made him feel bad and the guilt burned every time he enjoyed her body but he was too weak to stop taking what she offered.

Kayla didn't stir as he left the apartment. She was working third shift today and would likely sleep until then. Being the only full time short order cook meant that he'd probably be pulling a double and would be leaving as she arrived. He didn't want to acknowledge the relief he felt about that, but couldn't deny that it was there.

His boots made noise as he jogged down the winding, narrow staircase of the tiny apartment complex right off the beach. The world was silent except for some seagulls and the rolling waves. It stayed that way until his ancient little motorcycle roared to life and took off down the road, looking like nothing more than a few pieces of metal strapped together with an exposed motor.

As usual, he didn't wear a helmet but there was so little traffic at the Beach at this time in early October that it hardly seemed necessary. Business had already died down from the short summer. Only the locals remained, along with the students who flocked to the shitty little college that offered nothing more than a prime location. The tourists would be back again next summer to make Annadale Beach a breathing sauna of human sweat and crowds.

There was plenty of time before that happened again, though.

Plenty of time to think.

Plenty of time to try to unwind things. The blur of his past and his memories. The war that had left him completely alone and the bleakness that had surrounded him during that time.

It'd been a dark time for him. A whirlwind that he'd mostly managed to push so far into the depths of his mind that a lot of it was shadowed and vague. He liked it that way. The blur was better left a blur.

If not, it was possible that the solitude, the rebellions against the world, the time when he was put away-- it may just poison the way he'd allowed himself to settle after arriving at the Beach. If he remembered the ghostly memories of being locked up, of so much anger and loneliness and despair, it could possibly taint the fact that he was determined now to just live.

He'd managed well at first. The mind-numbing job didn't even bother him. He knew the customers regarded them all as peons but it didn't get on his nerves as much as it should have. He didn't have money or an amazing apartment but he had a good life for what it was. A steady job, a great town and for the first time, peace of mind. A complete shedding of his demons.

If only he could embrace that and stop feeling like there was a void that needed filling, Danny thought bitterly as he pulled over a block down from The Blue Moon Diner. He turned the bike off and rolled it along for no real reason other than to enjoy the silence of the walk by the waterfront.

He had just walked up to the diner and was about to stoop down to unlock the gates when the low sound of synthetic jungle techno music emanated from somewhere down the road.

Danny's eyebrows rose slightly and his hands paused on the gate just as the vehicle careened around the curb and screeched to a halt not even a few yards from where he was crouched in the shadow of the awning. He had no idea who would be there at this time of morning. The Blue Moon was the only business for blocks around and it didn't open until nine. It was possible that whoever was there was simply using the place as a meeting point; it was the most popular spot on the Beach and it happened frequently.

The music abruptly shut off and was replaced by loud voices. Loud, angry voices.

"You better shut that fucking bitch up before I do it myself," a man's irate voice snarled. "I've had it with her shit. If she backs out of this now, she screws us all."

Danny stilled completely and pushed himself further into the shadows. For the first time he was grateful for his long, lean frame. Whatever was going on with these people, he wasn't going to make himself visible until he was sure they weren't going to make the parking lot some kind of crime scene.

"Just be quiet, Leens," another man urged. "You said you were in."

"Yeah, you fucking said you were sure. You said after all of the shit that happened with your parents and your brother, you were fucking in for sure!" the first guy shouted furiously, his voice echoing around the parking lot. "If anyone has reason to be here it's you, you dumb bitch! O--"

"Just relax with that shit, Rucker."

"Screw you, dude. She's a waste of my time. I never wanted her in-- I knew she'd flake. She doesn't give a shit that the government fucked over her entire family. She's too scared to do anything about it."

Danny's frown deepened and he peeked around the side of the entrance. Through the fence that separated the beach patio from the building, he could see a black and neon green jeep sitting in the middle of the parking lot. There were three men and a girl; Leens, Danny assumed.

Leens was standing there with her hands balled into fists. She had long auburn curls and was nearly a foot shorter than the three men that stood around her but that didn't seem to deter the stubborn glare on her face.

He assumed that the man who looked outraged and had a green mohawk was Rucker.

"Dude, I was all for joining her club at the school but I'm just saying, now you could be going to get involved with some kind of crazy extremist group for all we know!"

"We have to be extreme if we're going to ever try to make changes in this country."

Danny allowed a smirk to cross his face. These college kids never ceased to amaze him. They always thought they were going to be the ones to step up and change the world. Never mind the fact that people with more experience had likely been struggling to do the same for years. But according to Rucker and a lot of the other kids Danny overheard talking in the diner, they would be the ones to make everything different. They were the ones with the good ideas.

The arrogance was unbelievable.

"Four weeks in some weird seminar camp? It sounds like some fucked up jihad type thing," Leens countered. "It sounds like extremist brainwashing shit. And we don't even have to pay or anything? It's all just free? Why would it be free? Rachelle said they're putting up scores of college students."

That did sound odd to Danny and he wasn't even involved. The fact that some kind of seminar geared towards college students was being held at the start of the semester made it sound even fishier. Why would they essentially convince students to leave school for the semester if whatever club had been started in the college?


"Shit, I think this is them. Shut the fuck up," one of the dark-haired men hissed.

Danny ducked back into the shadows just as a sleek black SUV slid into the parking lot.

The conversation that followed was mostly too low for him to overhear now that people weren't shouting. Another peek through the gate allowed him to view an SUV with very illegally tinted windows, a woman with dark hair, and a guy in a long black coat that was unwarranted for even the brisk air.

Danny made a face. Those two certainly weren't freshmen but they didn't look like any students he'd ever seen around. He knew most of the kids who were second year and up from just working part of the previous semester.

Leens was talking again, in a high, slightly anxious voice.

"I changed my mind, that's all."

More talking, and unfortunately for several minutes Danny couldn't hear anything. Rucker was behaving himself now, it seemed, and the new people were trying to keep whatever they were doing to the empty sanctuary of the parking lot.

After nearly fifteen minutes of crouching uncomfortably in the shadow of the front door and remaining hidden behind the gate, Danny heard the woman say:

"Michael will take your jeep back and meet up later."

There was an almost simultaneous sound of doors slamming shut and footsteps hurrying away from the parking lot. One of the vehicles, Danny assumed the SUV, left the parking lot and it was then that he looked through the gate once again.

What he saw spooked him.

Leens was walking away from the diner. The guy with the coat, "Michael," was following her, not taking care of the neon green and black jeep.

The image stayed with Danny as he followed through with his morning routine. It distracted him the whole day. He told himself that a likely scenario was that Michael was simply going to try to convince her to come along with them when he regrouped. It made sense.

Even so, Danny called the police department and filed a report about what he'd overheard. Just in case.

Continue to Fade Chapter One...