Fade Chapter Fifteen

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

The story contains..

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


Book One: Evenfall See Evenfall chapter list.

Book Two: Afterimage
See Afterimage chapter list.

Interludes list

Book Three: Fade
See Fade chapter list.


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Fade Chapter 15

Uploaded on 1/22/2012

The Blue Moon Diner was peacefully slow, with Boyd one of three people who had chosen to sit indoors on the beautiful day. Kayla was doing the rounds at a leisurely pace for the first time that he'd seen. He'd noted on his previous trip down that she'd returned to work but judging from her lack of enthusiasm, he assumed her relationship with Sin was still finished.

She smiled faintly at him when she took his order, then refilled his cup of iced tea. He waited until she walked away before he tried to get back to work.

Ryan had procured him a tablet that was completely secure, safe from the Agency and hackers. The R&D agent hadn't asked why Boyd had needed it and Boyd had felt grateful for that; he didn't want to lie to Ryan but he was still under strict orders from Carhart not to tell a soul about the traitor within the Agency.

He opened a writing program and stared thoughtfully at the blank page. What he had to determine was what shorthand to use for his notes in case this was found.

After a few minutes of contemplation, he settled on something based on his usual shorthand but modified for secrecy. No one would know what he was writing. Not even Sin, had he remembered anything of his past life.

The thought interrupted his attempts to write a preliminary list of suspects. His fingers stilled on the on-screen keyboard and his gaze drifted to the kitchen of its own accord. Sometimes it didn't seem possible that Sin didn't remember the adrenaline rush of his past, that the memories were completely erased from him when they had been such a large part of who he was.

He looked over at Kayla, wondering as he absently down set the tablet what it was that had drawn Sin to her in the first place. She wasn't particularly intriguing other than the innocence she seemed to exude.

Was that it? Sin had always been drawn to innocents so maybe that hadn't changed. His need to protect those who couldn't protect themselves could have made her catch his eye. Maybe it was also that she seemed so uncomplicated; a word Boyd could never have used to describe his own relationship with Sin.

In this simpler life, maybe Sin had simpler tastes.

He saw Kayla swing by the counter near the kitchen and pick up a plate he thought may be intended for him. Flipping the program on his tablet to a browser window, he set the tablet upside down and to the side. Kayla smiled faintly at him as she walked over and set the plate down with a faint clink.

"Do you need anything else?" she asked, stepping back and absently adjusting the notepad she kept in her pocket.

"No, thank you," he said, flicking his gaze up to meet hers. This much closer, he could see the flecks of color in her eyes; the faint freckles that dotted her skin.

She nodded, pulled some hair behind her ear and left, already on her way to another table. He watched her go, remembering the emotional break up he'd seen between her and Sin.

It was difficult to think about Sin's relationship with her logically, because every time he saw her he couldn't help putting it in context of his life.

He thought about how Sin could have been running his hands gently through her hair while Boyd had been searching for evidence on Aleixo's compound in the brief moments when he wasn't required in someone's bedroom or watched by the guards. He thought about how she and Sin may have been lying in bed together while he'd been screaming at his empty house-- ripping apart his childhood bedroom like he'd wanted to rip apart his life. He thought about the two of them having a mundane conversation at work while he'd lain on his stomach, head cradled on his arms while Jaz had slowly burned Sin's name into his back.

He thought about them smiling and kissing while he'd forced himself to shut down his emotions so he could move forward in a life of killing and deceiving because his lover had made him promise-- and had then forgotten that promise himself.

It was impossible to think of those things and not feel left behind, but it was tempered by a kind of fascination about what she meant for what Sin wanted now.

With a faint frown to himself, he cut into his omelet and started eating.

Without thinking, his gaze once again landed on Kayla again. It was while he was watching her that her expression suddenly changed. Something by the door had caught her attention. The smile evaporated from Kayla's face as she dropped her eyes and tensed visibly.

Thinking Sin had possibly come out for the first time since Boyd had arrived, he looked over but only saw three new people at the entrance. Two women and a man, all attractive and eye-catching in their own ways.

The first woman was black with distinctly tilted eyes and chocolate-colored curls that hung down her back. She was tall for a woman, at least six foot, and wore a red swimsuit beneath a gauzy cover-up. Next to her stood a woman in stark contrast; very pale, no taller than 5'2", and rail thin. Androgynous and with her black hair in a boy's cut, she could have passed for a man if her small breasts weren't visible beneath her wife beater.

The short woman stood near the hostess' booth with her arms crossed and stared directly at Kayla. There was nothing particularly intimidating or menacing about her expression but for whatever reason, Kayla very deliberately avoided meeting her eyes.

"Girlfriend is hating hard," the man who accompanied them said loud enough for Boyd to hear. Boyd recognized him from the park-- the man who had sat to the side watching Sin and the others play basketball. His white blazer and slim-cut linen trousers were all fitted to flatter his lithe body. They looked tailored, well made and likely designer right down to his flip-flops.

"Shut up, Taz. Don't be such a dick," the tall woman said, rolling her eyes.

"She's the one with the ice grill," Taz replied in a sing-song voice, smiling mischievously over at Kayla. She looked up at him with a glower and he pouted, tossing his silvery blond hair over one shoulder. "Mean ass."

"Whatever," the short, dark-haired woman said flatly and turned toward the kitchen. "Danny!"

Boyd absently turned the fork over in his fingers as his attention zeroed in on the three once he realized they knew Sin.

The kitchen door stayed shut but Sin appeared near the counter where the ready orders sat. His eyes fell on the group and that brief half-grin flashed across his face before he disappeared again.

It wasn't more than a few short minutes before he came out into the main area and stood with the group. It was immediately clear that he was friends with them. He appeared pleased to see them and Taz actually leaned in to give Sin a hug. The same faint smile appeared on Sin's full lips but he didn't seem in a rush to return the embrace.

Boyd discreetly eyed them, Taz in particular. He had to look away before he could let himself think about the way part of him twinged to see that casual intimacy.

The iced tea was quickly becoming his way of trying to keep himself distracted. He took a long drink, feeling the cubes of ice crowd against his lips before he set the glass down with a clunk. He looked outside, noting the sky had grown a bit darker since the last time he'd paid attention.

There were some days he could watch Sin in his new life with minimal feelings of pain or loss, and other days he couldn't. He suspected it was Taz's physical similarities to himself and Ivan that was making it more difficult today.

That, and uncertainty at work.

His lips ticked down on the edges at his own melancholic thoughts. The stress at the Agency had become even more pronounced lately, making him crave these days in Annadale all the more. Rather than spend his time depressed about his equal happiness and sadness for Sin's new life, he needed to focus on enjoying this chance to be around Sin.

Fingers curling against the cold dampness of the glass, Boyd discreetly returned his attention to the group across the room.

"--fucking intense!" Taz's exuberant voice floated over. He seemed to be the loudest of the trio now that they weren't talking deliberately loud enough for Kayla to overhear. "It's been what-- two months since the last one?"

Boyd watched as Sin replied but his voice wasn't loud enough to carry across the room. Now that Boyd had observed this new version of Sin for a more extended period of time, he'd begun to note that not everything about him was different.

He was friendlier but he still carried the same reserved qualities that had always been present in him. His smile, while more frequent, was still fleeting and slight and he still spoke in the same low smoldering tone. Even now that he was seemingly surrounded by his friends, he was relatively quiet. There were times when his attention strayed from Taz completely, as if he wasn't entirely interested in the conversation.

At one point the tall woman looked away from the group and stared across the room. Her brown eyes fell on Kayla and a distinct frown puckered her plump lips downward. She seemed unhappy about something and kept looking until Kayla finally met her eyes. There was a moment when they just looked at each other until Kayla finally ventured a small smile.

The tall woman grinned back and mouthed very distinctly, "Call me."

Boyd found that to be curious and wondered about the dynamics of the group for a short period of time before he looked away. He returned his attention to the tablet, not wanting them to notice he was watching them. He couldn't hear anything they were saying, anyway, and their interaction didn't seem to change much once they got into a conversation.

He started to finish the list of suspects while he kept his attention half on the group surrounding Sin. In his peripheral vision he could see their reflections in the window and he watched that, taking in every shift in Sin's expression.

So far of the people in high positions, the one who seemed most suspect was General Hughes. Even then, Boyd didn't have much to go off. Hughes was in charge of Special Operations, so he had access to classified data and could show up in other units without anyone batting an eye. Not to mention Boyd had seen him with Jordan months ago.

On the other hand, there wasn't much that Boyd had to work with when it came to the man. There were a few comments here and there about him being strange lately but so far nothing had been substantiated. When Boyd had tried to gather more information, the best he got out of anyone was that Hughes was being harder on agents who failed their missions.

Being a general, Boyd didn't see Hughes very often. It was possible that the connection to Jordan and thus the new administration was the only thing that made him feel so suspicious.

He wasn't supposed to be paying much attention to the brass, anyway. That was Vivienne and Carhart's domain.

He flipped to another page and continued with the notations of fellow agents.

The first names he had to by rights put down were those with the highest clearance. All the Rank 10s -- Kassian, Emilio, Jon-- as well as Owen, Jeffrey, Ryan, and a handful of others.

Emilio, Kassian and Ryan were exempted from suspicion as far as he was concerned. They had all worked too hard to help Sin and none of them had reason to go against the Agency like this.

Well, he amended to himself, frowning slightly at Emilio's name, one of them did. His finger tapped against the screen thoughtfully. He didn't believe Emilio was the mole. Even so, until he was told otherwise he had to suspect everyone, even those he trusted, so he jotted down anything that was suspicious with them.

Thankfully, there wasn't much to write. Emilio had been on surprisingly good behavior for the most part.

Even Boyd's relationship with Emilio, whatever it could really be called, had slowly returned to how it had once been. They interacted now and then, had no problems on missions together, and occasionally talked about something other than the topic at hand for the latest mission-- but Sin had always been what had tied them together more than anything, and with Emilio believing he was gone forever there was no reason for that topic to arise again.

Jon's entry had more notes but even then it wasn't anything particularly worrisome. There had been some rumors about Harriet and him having some troubles. On its own that didn't mean much but Boyd still diligently noted it. In addition, Jon was intelligent and a damn good agent, to the point that he was highly adaptable and a strong fighter as well as adept with computers.

While those were all good aspects of an agent, in this context it didn't do him any favors.

But aside from the possibility of infidelity, there wasn't much to note. Any suspicious activity could, in fact, be tied back to Jon sneaking around behind Harriet's back. Which, given his love of women, wouldn't necessarily be too surprising despite his devotion to Harriet.

Boyd stared at the entry a moment and then, with an inward sigh, flipped to the next.


Since Bex and Jordan's addition to the unit months ago, something had seemed increasingly off about him. Even after Jordan was gone, it hadn't changed. He'd become more standoffish than usual and Boyd had seen him occasionally hovering around known sympathizers of the new administration.

More worrisome than that was the way Jeffrey had lately seemed to be watching Boyd particularly closely. There were times Boyd felt like his stare was distrustful; times when it seemed like he was watching Boyd too much.

Given that Jeffrey had never liked Sin and he had access to high clearance information, it couldn't be ruled out that he had some sort of connection to the mole. It didn't seem probable that he was the mole himself because he wouldn't have been able to attack Sin undetected, but that was only assuming that the mole operated alone or had been involved in that.

Aside from that oddity, there wasn't anything too worrisome to note.

He flipped past Jeffrey's entry to Owen's, which was lightly populated. Owen was too strange of a person in general for Boyd to be able to note suspicious behavior, and lately the R&D agent hadn't been doing anything more bizarre than usual.

Although Boyd had noticed Owen seemed especially tired lately, like he was getting less sleep than normal. There were even a few times Owen had almost seemed depressed before he realized someone was watching him. Those times he'd immediately perked up and went into some convoluted topic that worked as a distraction from the dark circles under his eyes and the way his smile didn't seem genuine.

Boyd was just making a note about that when he realized Sin and the others were looking over at him. He didn't give any indication that he'd noticed, his fingers flying across the on-screen keyboard as he finished a thought. Still, his attention was fully on the reflection now and only secondarily on what he was typing.

Sin and the dark-haired girl approached him. Before they could draw nearer, Boyd closed the word program and opened a browser without looking up, setting the window to a news feed. He opened a few more tabs to make it look like he had been in the middle of something innocuous, then glanced up as if startled when Sin stopped next to the table.

"Hey," Sin said. His hair was tied back in a loose ponytail and his apron was cleaner than usual due to the slow day. "This is my friend Tech that I was telling you about."

"Hey," Boyd said, looking first at Sin and then shifting his gaze to Tech. He realized this was the woman Kayla had been referring to when she'd mentioned that Sin had slept with her. He had to stop himself from doing a once over to assess her and instead pushed the tablet to the side. "Nice to meet you."

"I heard you're looking for a bike," Tech said bluntly. Her voice was lower pitched than the average female and scratchy sounding, nearly hoarse. "If so, we should talk. I have three projects I'm working on."

Boyd nodded and leaned back in the chair. Now that she was closer he couldn't help glancing between the two of them, wondering about their relationship in the past and present.

"What's the difference between the three?"

Sin glanced over his shoulder and started to step away. "Tell Roz and Taz that I don't know what I'm doing later. I need to get back to work."

Boyd glanced past Sin. In the span of a few minutes the entrance had filled with people who were showing up for lunch. Delsin had also just walked in and was fixing his uniform as he stood near the Employees Only door.

"Okay." Tech leaned up and planted a chaste kiss on Sin's cheek.

Boyd's fingers twitched. Between Taz and Tech, it was becoming impossible not to feel a mixture of jealousy and pain. Years of literal blood, sweat and tears to get to a point of mutual love and trust, and it ended with strangers offhandedly kissing and touching Sin right in front of Boyd's face while Sin looked at Boyd like he was nobody.

That's because you are nobody, he reminded himself harshly. You're nothing to him. If you disappeared today, he'd probably never even remember you were here. You'd be forgotten again in seconds, as if you never existed.

He nearly had to drag his eyes away at the pain that shot through him at the thought. It wasn't anything new and he couldn't help feeling frustrated with himself for being unable to stop these automatic feelings.

He knew the game when he came down here. He knew watching Sin sometimes hurt more than it helped, but he did it anyway.

Maybe he really was a masochist, like they'd joked so long ago. That thought only reminded him of Monterrey: the way he'd been the one able to kiss Sin so easily; he'd been the one Sin had smiled at and touched sometimes gently.

Did Sin pull any of these people down into bed after a nightmare too? Did he hold them as closely as he'd once held Boyd, as if he could protect him in his sleep?

Did he whisper in Mandarin when he was especially scared or aroused? Did he tell them he loved them, using words he'd never even used for Boyd?

"We're probably gonna take off soon anyway," Tech was saying as the world continued to move on around Boyd, uncaring of his thoughts. "Taz has to get to work and Roz is only on break anyway. Call me later."

Sin nodded in assent and headed back to the kitchen. Boyd's gaze trailed after him briefly, taking in the movement of his long dark hair as he walked and the strength of those broad shoulders. Once, that back had protected him. Now it only walked away.

His fingers curled around his iced tea glass, letting the shock of the cold wetness against his palm return him to the present.

He shook off the nostalgia and sense of loss, thinking darkly that he may be more affected by the stress from the Agency than he'd thought. He couldn't help feeling on edge lately.

He felt pressured by time, knowing that even as he wanted nothing more than to enjoy himself here and watch Sin without expectations or hopes, he also realistically knew that back at the Agency it was only a matter of time until he was killed or terminated. Every day counted him closer to death.

Maybe what he wanted, he realized, was for that death to not be nameless. For Sin to remember him even a little when he was gone.

The scraping of the chair against the floor across from him made him look over. Tech was just sitting down, looking at a wide, slim cell phone she had pulled from her pocket. She didn't seem to have noticed Boyd's brief distraction, for which he was grateful.

She flicked on the phone and began thumbing through windows on the touch screen. Boyd pushed the glass of iced tea to the side so he could see better and leaned forward with nothing but mild interest staining his features.

"They're all old as fucking hell," she said, picking up on the conversation as if they'd never been interrupted. "Two are almost fifty years old. They're both British bikes-- Triumphs. The newest is a Honda. That one is from the late 1990s."

She leaned across the table and gave him the phone. "You can scroll through to see the pics. I'd planned on restoring all of them so if you actually like one, I'll work on that one first. I sell them pretty dirt fucking cheap, honestly."

"Hmm." Boyd scrolled through the pictures.

The Honda was the most modern-looking of the bikes, but Boyd preferred the two older British ones. Although all three were standard, the Triumphs had completely naked engines and lacked the half-fairing that was on the Honda.

He flipped between the two Triumphs briefly and then handed her back the phone. "I like the 1971."

"That's my personal favorite too." Tech slid the phone back in her pocket.

Up close she seemed even thinner, almost to the point of it looking unhealthy. Her face completely lacked feminine characteristics other than long black eyelashes. What did Sin see in her that he couldn't seem to see in Boyd anymore? Where was the attraction that had once sparked in Sin even before it had sparked in Boyd?

"Are you really interested? I don't want to waste my time thinking I'm putting in the extra work to do it faster if you're bullshitting me."

"Yes, I am," Boyd assured her. "I can put money down if you want."

She shook her head, black bangs shifting across her forehead. "Nah, that's fine. I don't know how much money I'm gonna have to sink into it to get them in working order so it's better off just waiting until I have an estimate for the parts. That's basically all I charge anyway, with maybe like a hundred bucks extra."

"Why don't you charge more?"

Tech shrugged her thin shoulders. "I get them for free from the junkyard anyway and I'd rebuild them for fun on my own. I do the same with computers and shit. It's just a hobby of mine. Besides even if I'd sell them for more, most of these kids go for the new electrics so no one would probably buy them."

"That's true," Boyd had to agree. "Not a lot of people appreciate the classics anymore, or older technology."

"Or can afford the gas." Tech opened her mouth to say more but a particularly loud crack of thunder suddenly interrupted her. She flicked a startled gaze out the double doors that led to the beach. "That was random."

Boyd looked outside as well. The pure white clouds that had dominated the sky when he'd entered the diner hours ago were now more ominous looking, and the sky wasn't quite as blue. His eyebrows drew down slightly and he shifted so he could get a better view. From what he could see around the buildings, in the far distance the sky was dark grey and the clouds had the distinct smudged look from when rain blurred the lower edges.

"Huh," he said, as if this were of mild interest. "I didn't realize it was going to rain today."

"Wasn't supposed to." This change in the weather seemed to irritate Tech. She rubbed her hands over her pale arms and stared morosely out at the ocean. The sky was steadily darkening. "Well, I guess I have to jam then. Taz isn't one for lingering in the rain and he's my ride. I'll start working on the '71 and email you updates. Danny gave me your addy."

"Thanks. Let me know if you need anything from me." He paused, golden brown gaze returning to her, and added, "Not that I'm in any sort of hurry, but do you have a general idea of when it may be finished?"

"If I can get all the parts and shit in a good time, it shouldn't take more than a month. But that's only if I can get the parts. When I did Danny's bike, I couldn't find half the parts anywhere nearby. We had to drive up to Carson for one of them."

"You and Danny both drove up?"

Tech nodded. "Yeah. It would have been a fun day trip if Carson wasn't such an ass town."

Boyd nodded easily but inwardly he felt a spike of alarm, his fingers twitching out of her view. Carson was too close to Lexington. Too many missions had happened there-- it definitely wasn't out of the Agency's reach.

Any number of issues could occur if Sin wandered up there again with Tech and was seen. What would the Agency do if they saw him? Would they ignore it or would they consider him to be a liability by straying too close to where agents could run into him? What if someone like Jordan saw him? Someone who wouldn't be sympathetic to his cause.

The thought scared him more than anything had in a while.

"I'm in that area so if you ever need anything up there from any of those towns you can tell me and I'll bring it down for you." Boyd leaned back in his chair and shrugged. "It's easy enough for me and could save you a trip."

"That'd be awesome," she said, nodding her head. "It would make shit a lot easier if it comes down to it."

Roz approached their table before any more could be said. She flashed Boyd a grin in greeting before poking Tech's shoulder. "Come on, girl. Taz is getting antsy that his hair is gonna frizz up in the rain."

Tech made a face and stood. "I think me and him should have had our genders switched. It's not right for a man to be so fucking womanly."

"Whatev." Roz flipped her own long mane of chocolate curls. "My hair is frizz-proof so a little drizzle doesn't bother me none. I do have to get back to the beach, though. Lane is covering me and that blind bitch will probably leave a bunch of kids in the water before closing the beach."

At this, Tech simply snickered and looked over at Boyd. "Okay, dude, I'll keep in touch."

Boyd nodded. "I'll talk to you later."

Tech turned to walk away and Roz crinkled her fingers in a little wave before leaving as well. Sin had already disappeared into the kitchen so they left the restaurant without pause.

Boyd watched for Sin at first but unsurprisingly he didn't return.

For a moment he lost himself in imagining how it should have been, with Sin remembering him. The way Sin's face would have lit up when he'd seen him, more than it did when he saw his new friends. The smile that would have spread across his face. The jerk of Sin's arms against Boyd's back as he tugged him closer. The crush of their bodies in a fierce hug, Sin's cheek pressed against his hair, Boyd's face buried in Sin's neck.

The world disappearing around them as Boyd finally got out the words he'd waited so long to say:

'I missed you so much.'

It would be like he'd imagined over and over during rehab-- that hope that had been so intense it had become a waking dream. The wish for everything to be alright again. The wish to have the person he loved at his side, protecting and supporting him as much as he did in return.

For a moment he reveled in the imagining but then there was the distant clink of a plate clattering on the counter and the rush of an employee past him. The susurration of voices spread around him as the diner and real world came back in focus.

He glanced around and sighed.

Great. Now he was just depressing himself. Again.

He scrubbed briefly at his face and then dragged the tablet in front of him. He had more pressing things to think about than a reunion that would probably never happen.

Pulling up the window with the notes, he considered the entry he had been about to fill out when Tech had interrupted him earlier. Although he felt as though he was betraying Sin somehow he had to have Ivan on the list.

It was his name that now hovered on the screen in Boyd's shorthand.

Ivan was becoming increasingly paranoid, and he'd started behaving more erratically in the past few months.

At first it had just been him disappearing from the R&D floor out of nowhere when Boyd was visiting Ryan or Owen. After that Boyd had begun tailing the man to nondescript buildings in different parts of the city while Ivan hunched in on himself and speed-walked the entire time. It was clear that he was hiding something and judging from his zigzagging paths all over the city to get to his destination, he was trying to hide who he was meeting as well.

Not to mention the most damning aspects-- Ivan's outright distaste for the Agency, his contempt for fellow agents, and his own admittance that he was planning something.

Boyd paused, his fingers resting on the screen while his gaze flicked along the last few notes.

No matter how he looked at it, Ivan was a strong suspect. He was highly intelligent, had high classification and access to intel, and generally seemed to hate everyone else. Boyd didn't think that Ivan would even blink at the idea of selling Boyd out and getting him killed on a mission. And he didn't think that had as much to do with Sin as would have been preferred, which led him to believe Ivan would do the same for other agents.

And yet...

His golden brown eyes swept up, shifting between the window for the food and the Employees Only door.

And yet, Ivan wouldn't have set Sin up. Assuming that was the work of the mole, Ivan wouldn't have risked Sin being killed. Right? Sin was the only one Ivan seemed to care about. He wouldn't have done that, would he?

Unless there was more than one person involved. But it was quite an understatement to say Ivan didn't trust or work well with others.

But if he was involved, what if he framed Sin to throw others off so they wouldn't suspect him, and he'd had some plan to protect Sin? Had that whole debacle been about trying to kill Sin or had Sin been merely a diversion? Was it possible something else had happened in the background?

Boyd sighed and pushed the tablet forward to rest his elbows on the table. He rubbed his temples, squeezing his eyes shut.

This was so stressful. Having to doubt everyone around him. Having to second guess the meaning of every innocuous little comment. Knowing that behind every smile, there could be a traitor. Knowing that every mission he went on, he could be the one who didn't come back.

He let out another sharp breath and scrubbed briefly at his face. He still didn't know whether he should tell Carhart about Ivan. If he said something, he could potentially be sealing Ivan's fate and he'd be going against his promise to Ivan not to get involved. But if he didn't say something and Ivan was the mole then he was potentially putting everyone else at risk.

With this sort of search, he supposed there wasn't really place for loyalty to past promises or ties to loved ones and yet he couldn't help feeling hesitant to name Ivan outright. Not until he had proof that Ivan's plans involved agents being hurt.

It wasn't long before the sound of rain pattered against the windows and eventually became a downpour. When he dropped his hands to the table and glanced out the window he saw the beach was completely abandoned as were the streets. The diner was subdued, with most of the patrons having left before the storm. The ones who remained seemed content with quiet conversations or silent reveries.

Boyd was nearing completion of notations on one of the agents in Intel when he noticed the Employees Only door swing open and Sin come out with his jacket already on. All thoughts of the traitor instantly shot to the back of Boyd's mind at the sight of his former partner.

Every time he saw Sin again he infinitesimally relaxed. There was a part of him that was always a little afraid this whole thing was a maddening hallucination and he'd never really left rehab or Aleixo's. A part that was afraid that maybe this was all a horrible dream and he would wake up, still caught in the nightmare he'd fought so hard to escape.

Sin left, the door swinging shut behind him, and Boyd made himself stay behind for several minutes so it wouldn't be obvious that he only came for Sin. He finished the notes, saved the program, and shut the tablet down. He slid the thin tablet into the innermost pocket of his messenger bag where it would be protected from the elements. As usual he left a generous tip so they wouldn't take issue with him sitting there often for hours on end.

The smell of fresh rain assaulted his senses when he stepped outside. The breeze was warm and it was raining hard. The concrete was pale grey; the blacktop a shiny black from what could be seen beneath the raindrops splashing up like countless miniature puddles.

Rivulets of water became small rivers, winding their way down the parking lot to the gutters, and running down the edges of the street. The sea had become a murky grey-blue, the waves crashing and spiking without a single square centimeter in the wide ocean looking as though it were still.

Boyd paused beneath the awning, wondering how drenched he was going to get walking the two blocks back to Oceanside, when he noticed movement in the parking lot. Sin was bent over his bike, apparently trying to get it to start to no avail. Boyd hesitated, not wanting to push anything and yet at the same time feeling a thrill of victory that he had an excuse to talk to his former lover alone.

After a moment, he held his messenger bag over his head to shield his eyes from the rain and jogged out to Sin's side.

"Hey," he greeted, talking a little louder over the backdrop of the rain hissing down around them. He flicked his eyes toward the bike and back up at Sin. "It won't start?"

Sin stood up, his face sketched in a frown as he glared at the bike. His black hair was drenched and plastered to the sides of his face, green eyes glittering with irritation. "It almost did and then choked. Now it's completely dead. I don't get it-- I've left it in the rain before."

Boyd frowned down at the bike, as if he could discern what was wrong with it at a glance. He couldn't help being pleased with the bike for failing when it did.

"Do you have a ride coming?"

"I'll probably just walk it. I used to walk all the time before I got this bike anyway." Sin adjusted his backpack and looked up at the sky. The rain was starting to come down harder.

"I could give you a ride if you want," Boyd offered, squinting up as well. "It doesn't look like it's going to let up any time soon and there's no point in getting soaked if you don't have to."

Sin looked up at him with surprise evident in his handsome face. He hesitated as if he had been automatically going to say no but instead asked, "You sure?"

"Of course. As long as you don't mind waiting a minute in the diner for me to go get my car."

This time the smile that ventured onto Sin's face was more genuine than Boyd had seen so far. Half of his lips turned up at the side. "Thanks."

Boyd couldn't help smiling more fully in return. "I'll be right back."

Without waiting for a response, he turned and started jogging toward the resort. Once he was out of sight of Sin, he broke into a run. For some reason, he would have felt stupid letting Sin see how important this was to him and how intent he was on making Sin wait the least amount of time necessary.

He made it to the Oceanside in no time and only stopped in long enough to drop off his messenger bag in his room and grab some towels before he headed into the parking ramp. He quickly dried his sopping wet clothing and hair as best he could as he jogged. He tossed the damp towel in the back seat of his vehicle and left two dry towels on the passenger seat.

It didn't take him long to get back to the diner and when he saw Sin underneath the awning he drove up next to him so he wouldn't have to go into the rain.

Sin climbed in the passenger seat and arranged his backpack in the space between his knees. He immediately toweled himself off although it seemed that he was more concerned with getting Boyd's seats wet.

"This car is pretty bad ass," Sin noted, running a hand through his wet hair to get it out of his face. He left it loose instead of retying it in a ponytail.

"Thanks," Boyd said, glancing over.

He was briefly caught by how amazing Sin looked. How much he wanted to kiss Sin; breathing words held back for far too long against his skin. How much he wanted to park and find shelter and just be with Sin without any expectations or awkward tension.

He dragged his gaze away. "Don't worry about getting anything wet, by the way," he continued offhandedly. "It's inevitable whenever it rains like this."

Sin nodded and adjusted his seat belt, frowning out the windshield at the onslaught of rain that was coming down. The sky had blackened again with angry storm clouds hovering over the small college town.

"I live at the end of Ocean Drive, on the other side of the beach."

Boyd nodded and peered out the windshield as he turned onto a main street. Even with the windshield wipers on high, the rain was coming down so hard there was hardly any visibility.

As he pulled into the low level of traffic, he glanced over at Sin. "Do you like it there?"

Sin leaned back in the seat and seemed to be trying to relax. He rolled his shoulders, twisting his neck from side to side and grimacing. "It's okay. Small but it has a decent view of the ocean. It's also in the quieter part of town." Sin glanced over at him. "Why, where do you live?"

"I don't live here at the moment," Boyd replied with a shrug, glancing out the driver's side windows as he went to merge into a lane. Even with lights on, the other vehicles were barely visible. With everything blurred and dark outside despite the time of day, it made it feel more intimate in the car.

"I'm staying at Oceanside Resort for now but eventually I may be looking for a place and I thought Ocean Drive seemed like it was a decent balance between price and location."

Sin's dark eyebrows rose and he gave Boyd an assessing stare. It was an expression that wasn't unfamiliar as his green eyes narrowed slightly. "Where do you actually live then?"

Boyd glanced over. He was hesitant to mention the city due to its connection to the Agency, but he also realized that remaining evasive would do nothing for him in this situation.

Sin had good reason to wonder about him already. His car was obviously expensive, which was atypical in a town filled with poor college students, and when he came down to Annadale he sat all day in the diner. It begged the question of how he could have so much money and appear to do nothing. There were any number of possible explanations Sin could be coming up with, some of them more unsavory than others.


"Oh." The name didn't seem to mean anything to Sin; he just nodded in response. "Are you a teacher?"

"No," Boyd said, his lips lifting in amusement. "Why?"

Sin actually smiled back, one side of his full mouth twisting wryly. "A lot of young teachers who have summers off come down here for vacation during this time and I only noticed you being around so much just a couple of months ago."

"Ah." Boyd's smile grew a hint teasing as he looked at Sin sidelong. "And here I was hoping you thought I had a good temperament. What a shame."

"Well I don't know enough about you yet to judge that," Sin replied with a shrug. "Maybe I will eventually."

Boyd met Sin's eyes and for a moment their gazes locked. At least Sin seemed interested in potentially being around him more. He smiled more genuinely. "I hope so. It would be nice to know some people down here."

He turned his attention back to the road as he navigated the poorly visible streets. The traffic lights were the only thing that seemed to shine through the rain with any usefulness.

"To answer your question I come down here to relax," he explained as he slowed to a stop at a red light. "I had a lot going on for awhile and I needed a place to get away."

"A lot of people do that." Sin's gaze shifted to the window where he looked out into the pouring rain that blurred their surroundings. It reminded Boyd of a watercolor painting: colors seeping together to become indistinct smudges on a grey-black canvas.

Sin tilted his head back against the seat and for the first time Boyd noticed how tired he looked. While he physically looked healthier than he ever had at the Agency, there were faint circles under his eyes. "Most people like the atmosphere. That's partially why I moved here."

Boyd nodded absently, not taking his eyes off of Sin. "How long have you lived here?"

Sin reached up to rub the back of his neck, long fingers squeezing absently. His eyebrows were still drawn together and Boyd couldn't help remembering that expression and those actions-- it was what Sin had always done when he had a headache.

"A little over a year. I moved from DC and was originally going to move to Richmond but changed my mind at the last minute and came here instead. I hate big cities, all the fucking people."

Boyd nodded and eased his foot off the brake when the light turned green. That made sense to Boyd, as Sin had felt so on edge in Lexington around crowds. Although that made Boyd wonder how much of it was by Sin's choice and how much had been determined by the Agency. Had Sin really chosen to come here or had that been yet another twisted memory?

That made him wonder how the Agency had dealt with people who should have been in Sin's past but who he wouldn't be able to contact now because they didn't exist. Did the Agency make him think everyone he'd ever known was dead or did they have some sort of high level ruse in which an agent pretended to be someone for him or an automated message could be generated if he called the number of someone he thought existed?

And, once again, the overarching question of what was the reason for any of this?

"Do you like it?" was all Boyd asked instead.

This time all Sin did was shrug and his gaze remained fixed on the stormy ocean that raged on the other side of the beach. It didn't seem like he would answer directly at first and his mouth turned down slightly. His expression turned serious, eyes narrowing in thought. But after a moment he just shrugged.

"It's alright. Can't complain."

Boyd wondered about that response. It wasn't the kind of answer Sin would have given back in Monterrey, when he'd expressed regret about having to leave.

Maybe without the Agency as the other option, a place like this wasn't enough to hold his attention. Although, part of what Sin had liked in Monterrey was that they'd been together. Then again, that likely wouldn't factor into this answer because Sin didn't know Boyd so he couldn't be missing the intimacy they'd once had.

"That's good," Boyd said as he turned onto another street. The rain wasn't letting up at all, which made him wonder how long it was going to last. "I like Annadale but the tourist attractions don't make it an ideal place to live."

"That's why I live on the other side of the main beach," Sin agreed. He turned slightly in his seat, gesturing to the west of them. "Down where the diner is, you have the strip with all of the bars, the amusement park not too far away, full of the fucking college kids-- up Ocean is where most of the locals live. I'd rather just stay on the beach with a beer then party with all of the goddamn tourists on the boardwalk."

Boyd nodded easily. "I can't blame you for that." He paused as he stopped at another red light that hardly glowed through the storm. Honey brown eyes turned to study Sin. "So what else do you like to do in your free time?"

"I dunno." Sin glanced over at Boyd briefly, eyes still slightly narrowed. "Read. Work out. I'm not some exciting person."

Boyd smiled slightly at the knowledge that Sin's hobbies, at least, hadn't changed. "Reading can be exciting," he said lightly. "Do you have any favorite genres?"

"Mostly crime stuff. Apparently I like reading about people getting killed." Smirking slightly, Sin smoothed a damp hand over his face again.

Eyebrows quirking, Boyd gave a wry smile. "Should I be worried, stuck alone in this car with you where no one will hear my screams?"

Sin raised an eyebrow, mouth twisting. "Maybe. I haven't been too keen on strange people lately, and you ask a lot of questions so who knows what will happen by the end of this car ride."

Boyd couldn't stop an amused smile. "Alright," he said blandly. The light turned green and he turned down another street. "Bury my ashes at sea when you're done with me and I'll be a good victim."

"You can't bury stuff at sea, but if it makes you happy." Sin smirked again, and let his eyes slide out to the darkening sky. "Why the sea and not a nice ditch somewhere?"

"I don't know," Boyd said thoughtfully, his eyebrows drawing down at his own words. He looked over at Sin. "Honestly, I'm a hydrophobe so I couldn't say why I'm assigning myself such a dire afterlife with my own request."

"Maybe you're one of those religious fanatics that beat themselves," was the helpful suggestion from Sin. He looked over at Boyd again. "Do you have a guilt complex?"

Boyd's lips lifted humorlessly as his gaze slid away. "You could say that."

Sin's gaze rested on Boyd for a moment and one eyebrow ticked up, but then he just shrugged slightly and looked out the window again. "You shouldn't have driven all the way up here. It's getting worse."

"It's alright."

Even so, Boyd had to drive slowly down Ocean Drive. The rain came down in such heavy sheets that he hardly had any visibility even with the wipers flying across the windshield.

Although Boyd considered himself to be a very good driver, despite his penchant for excessive speed on the open road, it was a relief to see they were alone on the road. It was getting dangerous to drive even for someone who was highly trained. The last thing he needed was to get into an accident due to someone else's stupidity and draw the Agency's attention down to Annadale.

It felt like they were inching their way through town, with deafening cracks of thunder and blinding flashes of lightning adding an ominous undertone. He nearly drove past Sin's apartment building, which only underscored to him how little he could see. After having spent the day outside this building previously, it shouldn't have been hard to find.

"I'll see you later," Boyd said when he found an empty spot to stop.

Sin started to put his hand on the door but then paused. He frowned slightly, looked at the steadily flooding street and then at Boyd again. His lips parted, closed, and then he said finally, "Maybe you should wait out the storm inside."

Boyd hesitated, looking in assessment out the windshield. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah. It's fine." Sin was already opening the car door and stepping out into the downpour.

The invitation came both as a relief and a quiet thrill of excitement for Boyd. He parked his car and followed Sin, jogging as his gaze centered on that strong back. First the bike and now the rain-- it was as if the universe was conspiring to give him a chance to be with Sin. He silently thanked whatever weatherman had missed warning everyone about this storm.

The rain soaked them in seconds even though they quickly headed inside the building and up the echoing stairs.

Boyd looked around once they were inside Sin's apartment, taking in the place that Sin called home. A small kitchen was to the side. It was kept clean, although a few dishes were drying in the sink. The living room had a television and a digital music player dock. A dark red sofa sat to the side with a wicker table in front. An open door off the living room led to a bedroom that Boyd could partially see inside. He saw a bed and part of a dresser from his angle but not much else.

There didn't seem to be any sort of consistent style but there wasn't much furniture in the first place. It made Boyd wonder why. Did Sin just not want a lot of clutter or was it for financial reasons?

The apartment had hardwood floors and Boyd didn't see a rug anywhere nearby to stand on to protect the wood. He didn't want to track water everywhere so he stayed near the door even after he closed it behind them.

"It gets wet in here all the time after I go swimming so don't worry about your shoes or anything," Sin said, looking over at him after dumping his book bag on the floor beside the couch. "I'll find something for you to change into so you're not soaked the whole time, though."

"Thanks," Boyd said, and walked further into the apartment.

He stopped in the living room. He casually positioned himself so he could glance into Sin's bedroom again but he didn't see anything in there aside from the two pieces of furniture he'd seen already. From this angle he could see the balcony he'd seen from the outside the day he'd tailed Sin.

He wondered how often Sin used it. He imagined how relaxing it could be to wake up in a town like Annadale, step out of the bedroom and sit outside with a partial ocean view. He imagined what it would be like if he could leave the Agency; if he could move down here and be around Sin in whatever manner he would allow.

Sin appeared again, still wet but holding some clothing. He returned to the living room and handed the bundle to Boyd. It looked like a pair of black cargo shorts and a grey t-shirt. "I don't think we're too far off in size."

"Thanks," Boyd said again.

He saw a door off the main room that led to the bathroom. He went in there and was about to change when, on a whim, he held the clothes up to his face, closing his eyes and inhaling.

The clothes were clean so they didn't smell as much like Sin as he wanted but there was still a scent there. He was suddenly reminded of the night in Monterrey when he'd watched Sin masturbate, Boyd's tank top held to his face while he breathed in his partner's scent.

He felt at once embarrassed and nostalgic, and automatically glanced at the door. He felt like he was going to be caught doing something too odd to explain-- and that it would end significantly less pleasantly for them than it had in Monterrey.

The door was still thankfully closed and Boyd was still alone.

Breathing an inward sigh of relief, he mentally berated himself for doing something so stupid and wasted no further time in changing. His skin was still slick from the rain even with the dry clothing on. He took a moment to wring the excess water from his clothes and his hair into the tub, then lay his clothes over the side so they would dry a little faster. He twisted his hair back into a knot to keep it off the shirt as much as possible while it was still wet.

When he was finished, he paused and listened but didn't hear Sin outside the door.

He hesitated and then opened the medicine cabinet. He was undeniably curious to see if he would find anything that would point to evidence of Sin still actively seeing a woman. There was nothing unusual aside from orange pill bottles. Checking the labels told him that one was an SSRI and the other a benzodiazepine.

They were the same anxiety medication that Sin had taken at the Agency.

Boyd raised an eyebrow. Was Sin still suffering from depersonalization even without his memories? Was it possible Sin still remembered some aspects of his former life, but the reasons in his mind were now changed? Or did it mean that his mind knew something had been taken from him and still wouldn't let him release the guilt?

It didn't seem fair that so much had happened to Sin and when he finally had a chance to leave that darkness behind, it still followed him enough to require medication.

Then again, he thought with narrowed eyes and his hand tightening on the pill bottle, this could be a ruse. What if these drugs were some sort of extended pharmacological therapy, continually suppressing his old memories? Was that possible or had they done some sort of surgery on him instead?

He considered stealing a pill from each bottle to have them tested somewhere but he didn't. The only place he currently knew to try to get that tested would be at the Agency itself and he would have to enlist someone else's help. If it really was some other drug masquerading as a benzodiazepine and an SSRI that would be a great way to get the Reapers' attention.

Besides, if Sin was good about the meds he would know exactly how many pills he should have left. It wouldn't do to have some of the pills mysteriously disappear the first time he allowed Boyd access to his apartment.

He sighed and replaced everything the way he'd found it. His hand lingered on the cabinet once he'd closed it and he glanced toward the door. He really hoped Sin wasn't suffering even now. He hoped the demons were as free from him as it seemed whenever Boyd looked into his eyes.

After a moment he went back out into the living room. Sin had disappeared into his bedroom and the low muffled sound of a conversation on the phone floated out.

Boyd took the opportunity to look around the living room more closely. There was a small wire rack against the wall near the television where books were stacked as well as what looked like old magazines and a few movie cases. There was also an open closet next to the front door that was likely meant to be used for coats but was full of work-out equipment.

Boyd couldn't stop a brief, fond smile at that. First sweets at the supermarket and now evidence of exercising at home.

In those ways, Sin hadn't changed at all.

"I never gave a definite answer one way or the fucking other," Sin was saying flatly into his phone as he came back into the kitchen. He'd changed into grey cotton shorts and a white t-shirt. His black hair hung down his back, reaching almost to his waist now that it was wet.

It was almost criminal how good he looked.

He looked over at Boyd, moving the phone partially away from his face. "The rain is supposed to keep up for another hour."

Boyd nodded and walked over to the wire rack, curious about what books and movies Sin owned and needing to give himself something to focus on other than the way that white t-shirt was starting to cling to Sin's skin in a few dampened places. He crouched, skimming the titles. The books were similar to the ones Sin had preferred when they'd been together; primarily non-fiction about the war, centered on facts rather than the abundance of opinions in other books, although he did see a number of the crime books Sin had mentioned.

The cases turned out to be a series called Grayson, named after the fictional town the post-war series was set in. The series centered on a number of characters struggling after the bombs had hit, and was as close to the reality of life as either of them had seen. It even included a character who was fast on the track to becoming a Feral.

He and Sin had watched the first season together, so seeing the series here caused a trill of happiness in him. It was like finding a ghost of Sin-- yet more proof that he hadn't entirely changed if he still gravitated to the same genres.

The first season had recently finished when Boyd had left on his mission and he hadn't realized the second season was already out. He was genuinely intrigued and sat on the couch to read the description on the back.

Sin's conversation continued quietly across the room and he seemed to be growing agitated with someone. Whoever it was had apparently been asking about who he was hanging out with and was irritated that Sin wasn't coming to a party.

"In case you missed it," the familiar sarcastic drawl rang out in the room. "There's a tropical depression sized storm right outside my window. Excuse the hell out of me if I'm not rushing out in it to see your face."

Boyd glanced over at Sin and saw him leaning against the kitchen counter, looking irritated. He held the phone up to his ear for a moment longer before making a face and snapping it shut, tossing it carelessly on the counter.

He turned to Boyd. "Sorry. My friends are pushy."

"Was it one of the people from the diner?" Boyd asked, resting the case on his knee.

"No, but they did want me to go to this party too. My friend's girlfriend is throwing it-- she has a big penthouse down near the college. I was pretty noncommittal when they brought it up earlier. I don't know why he's acting like I'm blowing him off."

Boyd nodded. Sin hadn't ever particularly enjoyed groups so it was strange to see him with so many friends and talking so casually about parties. "Do you party a lot?"

Sin shrugged his broad shoulders and pulled himself up onto the counter. Long, tanned legs thumped against the counter as he let them dangle. "I work a lot. Maybe a couple of times a month I'll go have a few drinks, pop a cap, whatever-- but not really."

He seemed to think about that and shook his head, frowning slightly. "Me and Tech and Roz are pretty low key."

Boyd nodded again, noting that Sin had changed a little if he was using drugs occasionally now. It was the first time Sin made him think of Emilio's habits since they'd met. He dismissed the thought and made himself not linger an appreciative stare on Sin.

Now that they were sitting there talking to each other, he noticed even more details that distracted him.

Sin was dressed casually for the first time since they'd met again in Annadale. It looked good on him, especially with his muscular legs partially bared. Sin's slowly drying hair looked so long and perfect that Boyd wanted to run his fingers through it.

He was suddenly hit with a memory of Sin hovering over him in bed, his black hair curtaining his expression for only Boyd to see. Those green eyes burning into him, those lips parted and reddened still from kissing only moments before. The feeling of Sin's cock moving inside him; a slow torture that had Boyd arching up and tangling his fingers in Sin's hair at the base of his neck. His own husky voice urging Sin on, wrapping his arms around Sin's broad shoulders and pulling them even closer as their bodies undulated together.

The way their breath was caught between them along with the whispered moans of each other's name. The way their eyes locked the entire time Sin moved Boyd to completion.

"That seems to fit with what I saw of them," Boyd heard himself saying mildly.

Despite Boyd schooling his expression into only casual interest in the conversation, the Sin from the past probably would have seen through it and would have given Boyd a knowing look. He had been the only one who had ever been able to read Boyd so well.

He felt a moment of loss to know that looks like that were gone.

"Roz lives in this building, actually. She's one of my closest friends." Sin pushed himself off the counter and landed on his feet. His movements were as graceful and silent as they'd been before. "Do you want a drink?"


Sin opened the refrigerator and extracted two bottles of water. He walked over to where Boyd was and sat down beside him, handing one of the bottles over. He finally seemed to notice the case Boyd was looking at.

"Do you watch that show?"

"I do but I didn't know the second season was out." Boyd set the case on the couch next to him.

Sin's eyebrows rose and his lips lifted in that faint smile. He twisted completely on the sofa so that one leg was drawn up while the other stayed over the side. "Most people don't. It's depressing and a lot of people die. Which is why I like it, but I'm strange."

"It's more realistic than depressing, I'd say," Boyd replied with a thoughtful frown.

"Reality is depressing for most people," Sin said bluntly, eyes not leaving Boyd. "And people who aren't near it don't want to hear about it. It's easier to pretend it doesn't exist. Especially for people who live in a place like this."

Boyd nodded. "I've noticed the same mentality where I live, dependent on the neighborhoods. You'd think living in a city that's been half destroyed would make it impossible to be in denial but with enough money to get the right views out your window, I suppose any mentality is possible."

He paused, his eyebrows drawing down. "Still, I think it's especially important for people who live in areas like Annadale or wealthy neighborhoods to watch the show. It could inspire some of them to actually do something about it in a constructive way."

Sin made a vague hand gesture as if agreeing but then tilted his head slightly, eyes narrowing. "Yeah, but people are stupid so that won't ever happen. Even the idealistic kids with a plan to change the world-- I've met so many of them and 98% are full of shit. It's just trendy in some crowds to act like you have a cause. And the ones who are really into it get sucked into all of that radical rebel crap."

Boyd let out a humorless breath as he shook his head. He certainly couldn't deny the truth of that statement. "True. Which brings it down to the wealthy. But the few who do acknowledge that there's a problem come up with excuses like-- It's been over fifteen years; those people have had plenty of time to get themselves out of their rut. It's clear that they want to be there or they just aren't trying hard enough."

"Well that's the mentality of capitalism so it isn't really surprising." Sin's eyebrows rose slightly and his lips twitched up in a slight smile. "Like I said, people are stupid."

A small, wry smile spread across Boyd's face in return. "They are," he said in agreement. "Some of us seem to have escaped the idiot area of the gene pool, at least. I'd say that the world would be better off if people like us were in charge but I suspect that's what everyone thinks and most of them are wrong."

"Most likely," Sin agreed, a low laugh escaping his full lips.

Boyd's smile lingered briefly as he studied Sin. He'd almost forgotten the sound of Sin's laughter and the way his face lightened when he was amused. It was interesting to see that, even far removed from the indoctrination of the Agency, Sin's opinions hadn't changed.

"You seem more cynical than most of the people I've run into in Annadale," Boyd observed. "Don't take that as an insult-- but it does make me curious why you don't have similar views that it sounds like many of your friends have."

Loud thunder cracked outside and the lights in the apartment flickered but stayed on. The sound of rain pounding against the windows and rooftop emanated through the room, sounding more like rocks than raindrops. A glance at the window showed that the sky had all but blackened. The lights that lined the boardwalk just outside the beach had flickered on as if it were night.

"Most of my friends were born here," Sin said as he stood and walked back into the kitchen. "It's a different environment to grow up in. It breeds generally laid back and optimistic people. I lived in a city where shit was fucked up on a massive scale."

Sin pulled out a white and blue package and walked back over to the couch. The package was full of oatmeal cookies with white icing on them.

Boyd noted the sweets with faint endearment but his attention was mostly on Sin's response. "Ah," he said in understanding. He twisted the cap off his water bottle, the little plastic pieces cracking until the cap pulled free. "Where were you born?"

"I think DC, but I'm not really sure."

"You don't know?" Boyd asked, giving Sin a curious look.

"No. A lot of my childhood is a blur." Sin set the package on the couch and resumed his half turned position. He rested his arm along the back of the couch again, extending it. "When the bombs hit, my head got pretty scrambled."

So that was how the Agency dealt with a life of memories, Boyd mused; they gave him reason to believe he had partial amnesia.

"That must have been difficult," Boyd said aloud, his eyebrows drawing down. He knew how old Sin would have been but didn't want to be accurate, since Sin looked younger than he was. "You couldn't have been more than thirteen."

Sin raised an eyebrow at Boyd. "Sixteen actually. I'm old."

The crunch of cookies made the conversation appear a lot less serious than the subject matter was. This version of Sin appeared a lot more unaffected by his past or at least this portion of it. As if to verify this notion, he went on in a calm tone as if they were talking about someone else's life.

"It was pretty hard and I don't remember a lot of people from before the bombing but-- Well, whatever. That's enough of this segment of over-sharing my life story."

"You're not over-sharing," Boyd replied, shaking his head. "But we don't have to talk about it if you don't want. I'm sure it's not the most pleasant of topics for you."

"It doesn't matter." Sin shook his head and looked ready to change the subject. He shoved the package at Boyd. "Cookie?"

Offering food as an obvious subject change was such a Sin thing to do that Boyd's lips lifted into a smile. "Sure," he said and grabbed part of a cookie that had been broken.

Sin didn't say anything and they fell into mutual silence. Sin turned on the television and one of the more recent comedy sitcoms came on screen. Boyd didn't recognize the series but it seemed to follow the typical routine of an unattractive, sometimes imbecilic middle-aged man with his supermodel of a wife and the crazy antics that ensued in their household.

The two of them watched the television for a bit, although Boyd kept Sin in his peripheral vision and he noticed Sin watching him thoughtfully from time to time.

"Do you always come down alone?"

Boyd looked over at the abrupt question. He hesitated and then decided that it probably wouldn't hurt to get his preferences out in the open.

"Yes. My boyfriend and I ended up separating awhile ago."

The comment didn't seem to surprise Sin or if it did, he didn't show it visibly. Instead he said casually, "Well there's a large gay community down here. A lot of my friends are gay or bisexual."

"Is Tech?" Boyd asked curiously.

The question seemed to catch Sin off guard and he looked at Boyd with surprise. "No. I used to mess around with her. I mean she experiments some but most people around here have been a little bi-curious- especially at the kind of party they wanted me to go to tonight."

"Ah," Boyd said in understanding. His gaze remained trained on Sin's green eyes. "What about you?"

Sin didn't hesitate before saying matter-of-factly, "I like both men and women. I wouldn't say that I experiment, though. I've been the way I am for a long time."

Boyd couldn't deny that he was relieved to hear Sin still had interest in men. "So you've been with men as well, then?"

"Yeah. I haven't really dated anyone here, though." At that, Sin made a face. His mouth twisted to the side, green eyes rolling as if whatever he was thinking about was annoying. It wasn't an unfamiliar expression, and was one usually reserved for exasperated irritation.

Boyd's eyebrow raised slightly. "What do you mean?"

Sin's gaze slid away as he seemed to think on whatever the answer may be. He looked out the window for a moment before saying, "There was a complicated situation with a guy I nearly got involved with. It was stupid and dramatic. My two favorite things."

"What happened?"

"It's really not worth talking about."

Boyd nodded, letting the topic drop since Sin obviously didn't want to discuss it. Still, now he was very curious. Knowing Sin as well as he did and yet not at all anymore was especially frustrating now, when the Sin he knew may have trusted him enough to answer.

"Well, thanks for letting me know about the community here. You never know how friendly some of these cities will be and it's a pain having to hide everything."

"Is it that way in Lexington?"

"Hmm." Boyd took a moment to consider that, his eyes narrowing faintly in thought. "It's not really one way or the other. In some areas, being openly gay is accepted and some establishments encourage it. In other areas, it's not a good idea. On the one hand, I have a neighbor who I'm fairly certain thinks I'm the devil, but on the other hand most of my gay or bi friends have never run into issues in the city."

Then again, most of his gay or bi friends could kill anyone who looked at them the wrong way. But he didn't say that aloud.

Sin nodded, thoughtful green gaze focused on Boyd steadily.

Boyd couldn't deny the comfort and pleasure he felt with the weight of Sin's attention focused solely on him. It had been too long-- far too long.

Butterflies danced in his stomach and even though he knew there was nothing behind Sin's gaze he couldn't help reading into it. His hand shifted on the couch and he almost reached out to him, almost laid his palm on Sin's thigh, almost leaned over to pull Sin closer with a gentle touch sifting in his hair so their lips could meet--

He realized what he was about to do just in time, continuing the motion of his hand up to pull a few strands of hair behind his ear that hadn't made it into his knotted ponytail. His heart ached and he had to break eye contact.


He looked down at the table in front of him, his fingers twitching against the rough fabric of the shorts Sin had lent him. Even the clothing touching him was making it more difficult to stay silent; that simple gesture of giving him something dry that meant nothing now but could have spoken to their casual intimacy before. Everything he wanted to say ran through his mind before he cut it off sharply.

His eyes fell half-lidded for a second before he could return his expression to mere amiability as he met Sin's gaze again. He smiled mildly.

"Thanks for letting me stay inside while the storm recedes."

There was a nod and a shrug as Sin watched him with thinly veiled curiosity, and another brief silence fell between them.

After awhile Sin tilted his head to the side and said slowly, "Well if you really want to meet people or hang out with people when you're here, you could chill with me if you want sometime. You're an okay guy, and you like morbid shows so we might get along. You could watch the second season with me sometime or something."

Boyd's eyebrows lifted in surprise. He hadn't expected to get anything near to an invitation any time soon. A genuine smile lifted his lips. "That would be great, Danny, thank you. After last season's cliffhanger I've been dying to know what happens."

There was a burst of crinkling as Sin stood up and grabbed the now empty cookie package. He walked over to the trash can in the kitchen, tossing it out and saying, "Next time you're in town let me know and we can hook up. I'll give you my number."

"Sounds good," Boyd said. "I'll give you mine too."

Like most agents, he had two phones; a work and a personal. Since most people he dealt with on a regular basis were related to work, he hadn't gotten much use out of the personal. But he was glad to have it now.

They exchanged numbers and the rain didn't last much longer. Boyd changed back into his still damp clothing, thanking Sin one more time before he left.

When he stepped out of the building he took in the pleasant smell of fresh summer rain. The streets were still slick and wet with puddles but the sky was already starting to lighten. Pale shafts of light were beginning to break through the clouds.

He got into his car and drove back to the hotel. The town recovered quickly from the storm, with people opening their windows and and stepping out of their homes. Traffic picked up around him. Cars cruised down the street, splashing puddles far up onto the sidewalks and occasionally resulting in indignant pedestrians shouting after them.

With the lightening sky and the memory of Sin's smile and invitation, Boyd couldn't help feeling happy. It was clear Sin didn't mind him being in his life in some fashion and that was so encouraging it helped lift his spirits and balance the stress of his life at the Agency.

Continue to Fade Chapter 16...