Fade Chapter Twenty-Four

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

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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.

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Fade Chapter 24

Uploaded on 7/5/2012

soundtrack song: David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj - Turn Me On

When Boyd left the bathroom following a hot shower, he found Sin wearing the same shorts as before but without a shirt. He was seated in one of the chairs by the window looking blankly at the wall. The heavy curtains were drawn, leaving the only illumination as the glow from the overhead light.

Boyd walked over to his duffel bag to pull out one of his new shirts, this one a pale grey, and picked up his gun from the floor where it had fallen earlier. Even in an enclosed room he felt safest with it within reach.

His footsteps padded softly across the carpet until he paused at Sin's side.

"Hey," he said and held out the shirt.

Sin looked over at him distractedly, but immediately grabbed the shirt. "Thanks."

Boyd sat down in the chair near him, setting the gun and holster with a faint clunk on the small table beside them. "I have clean clothing if you want."

"I'll change before I go to sleep." Sin paused as he drew the shirt over his head. "If I'm even able to sleep. I'm still all wired. From the adrenaline, I guess."

Boyd drew his legs up onto the chair, his arms loosely resting on his knees. His back ached painfully but he ignored it in favor of watching his former partner. "Do you want to talk about it?"

The broad shoulders lifted slightly, and Sin's mouth drew down into a frown. His lips parted, closed, and then he wet them before attempting to talk again.

"It seems like I should be upset. Freaked out. But I'm not. I wasn't even freaked out when I was killing those guys. I just felt calm."

Boyd was quiet a moment. "Has that ever happened in a fight before?"

The frown drew down more, and Sin gestured vaguely as his green eyes focused on the wall again. "Not really. I mean, I lose my temper sometimes. Sometimes it's hard to calm down once I've gotten mad. I used to take medication but even then, I'd react." He stopped, raising a hand to run through his hair.

"Used to?"

"Yeah." Sin's mouth twisted slightly to the side, and he flexed his hands. "For anxiety and other stuff," he said vaguely. "I stopped taking them when I started being followed. They made it hard to focus, and slowed me down."

"Has anything changed since you stopped?"

Sin shrugged. "No. Not really. I guess I'm less patient and nice according to other people, but I don't give a shit about that anymore. Either they want to be around me or they don't."

Boyd nodded. At least that explained Sin's shifting moods-- and possibly explained the comments he'd made at the pier. It might even explain how easily Sin had fallen back into his old behaviors. He still didn't know exactly what medication they had Sin taking and would have to wait until he could get into his medicine cabinet to check again. He put the thoughts aside for the moment and focused instead on what he might have liked to hear, back when he still felt like a civilian and everything seemed so new.

"I know it feels strange to you right now but everyone reacts differently in situations like this. The first time I killed someone, it didn't fully hit me until hours later. Since you were reacting in self-defense, you may find you never respond the way you think you're supposed to respond."

Sin's eyes had switched back to Boyd quickly as soon as the words 'killed someone' left his lips. One dark brow raised, and he didn't move his gaze even when Boyd finished talking. The side of his mouth twitched up slightly and he said, "Maybe."

Boyd's gaze traveled across Sin's features; taking in the quirked eyebrow, those green eyes focused solely on him, the stretch of lips that had not long ago been exploring his mouth... He pushed away from the wall and stepped over by the table, his fingertips resting on the smooth surface of the wood.

"You wanted to know about the men following you."

"I do want to know. Whatever you can tell me."

Boyd nodded, his eyes finally drawing away from his former partner's face to rest on the blue-black sheen of his gun and the worn leather holster. During the months he'd thought Sin was dead, he had taken to subconsciously brushing his fingers against the gun as a source of comfort. Even now with Sin in front of him, his hand gravitated toward it.

He took a moment to decide exactly how much he could afford to tell this civilian version of Sin. Golden eyes raised again, this time accompanied by an unreadable expression. "Have you heard of Janus?"

"Yeah." A pause. "Is that the group that girl and her friends were involved with?"

With another nod, Boyd leaned against the edge of the table. "As I said before, I came here originally because of her. Because of you and your phone call. Their specialty is recruiting idealists into terrorism and this area," he gestured toward the window to encompass Annadale Beach in general, "is a target-rich environment for their propaganda. People here have no concept of what war really is; they think of it in terms of tv shows and history books. It makes them easier to convince but, as you saw, if someone questions Janus' intentions too much they're willing to kill to keep their faces and intentions a secret."

Sin didn't really react to the words, or seem surprised. He just looked at Boyd with his head slightly tilted and his lips pursed together. "Makes sense for them to want to kill me then since I'm the one who saw the whole thing."

There was a low, disgusted sigh as Sin pushed himself up and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Well this is a fucking mess. I should have stayed out of the whole damn thing. And it's not like they're going to decide to say nevermind just because this little hit squad failed." He frowned, looking toward the window as if he too could see outside. "Until your people get involved and they have bigger problems than me, I guess."

"Don't worry. I already have a plan for that."

"Aren't your people after Janus, anyway?" Sin asked. "You said that's why you're here. Well, now you know they're here for sure."

"We do," Boyd agreed. He pushed himself away from the table, glancing at the clock on the nightstand. "I'll have to leave for awhile tonight. I'll leave some measures in place to protect you but don't leave the hotel room, don't let anyone in, and don't call anyone while I'm gone. I'll give you a spare cell to use only to call me in emergencies until we get this figured out."

Sin was giving him the same stare, but when his lips pressed together briefly it was clearly tinged with impatience. "I don't like the vague bullshit you give me. If you don't tell me what's happening and what you're doing, I'll deal with this on my own. I'm not going to sit in a hotel room while you leave 'measures to protect me' and hope some blond kid can save the fucking day."

"I'm going to make sure that man doesn't say anything and then I'll check in with my people," Boyd answered evenly, but the idea of Sin running out on his own and getting killed over a stupid, civilian mistake wouldn't leave his mind. Heart clenching, he stepped into Sin's personal space with narrowed eyes.

"And if I think you're going to run off and play the hero on your own I will fucking tie you down. I realize the situation you're in but keep in mind you're in this deep because you took action without knowing the consequences. I'm not trying to placate you or piss you off if I don't give details-- I'm trying to keep you safe."

"You couldn't tie me down if you tried," Sin said without hesitation. He crossed his arms over his chest and didn't look very impressed. "I want the information you have, but I'm not going to sit around while you supposedly go fix things and I don't know what the fuck is going on. I'd rather deal with it on my own. When it comes down to it, you're just another strange person suddenly popping up in my life around the same time as things started getting weird."

He raised his eyebrows and shrugged. "So you can be straight with me from now on, or you can go fuck right off if you're going to treat me like some helpless moron."

For a moment, Boyd wanted to punch Sin. His eyes narrowed briefly and his fingers twitched into fists. "Stop acting like I'm not telling you anything-- I've answered every question you've asked. If you want more information, just ask me. But if you run off alone without knowing anything--"

He cut himself off and shook his head sharply, his arms crossing. "You're going to get yourself killed if you try that shit, Danny. I'm serious. You're acting tough and I'm not denying you could do some major damage but you don't know what the fuck is going on. You didn't even know who they were until I told you."

Sin made a face, although he didn't look particularly angry. "You don't want me to act tough, then don't threaten me. You can't stop me from leaving any more than those Janus people could take me out. I'm not some trained whatever the fuck you are supposed to be, but I can take care of myself."

He paused then, eyes sliding away and head tilting to the side slightly. It seemed like he was going to say something else, but he shrugged and continued. Somehow it seemed like he wasn't saying what he'd started to say.

"If you have a plan, I want to know what it is, not some vague crap. This is about my life, not yours. I'm not going to twiddle my thumbs in ignorance like your damsel in distress."

Boyd's narrowed stare rested on Sin in slightly irritated assessment for a long moment before he suddenly turned and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Fine. You're right that I shouldn't have threatened you but when you keep throwing out that you'll take care of things on your own it makes me worry about your safety. I can help you so I wish you would just let me." He continued before Sin could comment. "I already told you what I plan-- I'm going to stop him from reporting the incident and I'll see if there's anything else that can be done. Possibly bringing in backup. It depends on a lot of factors. As for the rest, I told you to stay here because no matter how much you can take care of yourself, you can be taken down if the circumstances are right. I don't want that to happen so I'm adjusting plans as we go to prevent that."

"I don't see why you care what happens to me so much," Sin said bluntly. "We had some awesome sex, but other than that you don't really know me."

"I told you before, I like you," Boyd said. "But since that may not seem enough on its own, it's also because you remind me of someone who was important to me who I lost. I wasn't able to help him and I never wanted to feel helpless like that again."


"My partner." Boyd's gaze slid away from Sin's familiar-but-not features and settled on his gun. "But to be honest, it happened to me more than once. With him, I wasn't even there for it. With someone else who was very important, he was killed right in front of me and I couldn't do a thing. It's... a shitty feeling."

His lips lifted slightly on the edge, humorless, before he met Sin's eyes again. "It makes you not want to let anyone else you care about be hurt again. Even if you're a jackass in the process of trying to meet that goal."

The corner of Sin's mouth lifted in a smile, and he shook his head. "You're not a jackass. Well, not with me yet, anyway. I can be an asshole though, and a real skeptical one at that. Guess we'll have to figure it out as we go."

A pleasant thrill moved through Boyd's stomach at those simple words implying Sin wanted to keep seeing him. That he wasn't pushing him away for now.

A faint smile curved Boyd's lips. "Seems so."

The stoplight burned a bright red in the night that made Boyd's eyes ache. In the stillness that followed him stopping the car, he couldn't ignore the headache that was pounding harder with each second; making it feel like his brain itself was vibrating.

Not enough sleep, probably. Not enough water.

After interrogating the Janus operative he knew he couldn't do this alone but he also knew he had to remain careful how he enlisted help.

Somewhere between seeing a gun aimed at Sin and stepping out of the shower to see Sin looking so weary and pensive, he'd realized what he had to do.

In Annadale, Sin couldn't flee Janus or the Agency's hold, but maybe Boyd could find a way for him to escape them both. He didn't know anymore what was best for Sin-- but Boyd knew he couldn't try to make choices for him anymore. If he could find a safe place for Sin to go, a real chance at being able to escape and stay gone, then Sin could truly have the kind of freedom that he'd always wanted if he chose that option. It would be up to Sin; leave everything behind and find a life on his own, or gain knowledge of the life that had been taken from him.

Either way was dangerous, either way had some chance of happiness and some chance of hell. Either way, it was no one else's right to decide for him.

On the way back to The Presidential he stopped at a 24-hour internet cafe. Surprisingly, given the time, he wasn't the only one there. It appeared that several people were in the middle of a gaming party that had them high on caffeinated soda and sugary snacks. Their triumphant shouts when one group gained advantage over another were loud and unpredictable, often followed by indignant shouts or groans in return.

Aside from them he saw several college students-- some trying to work but most of them clearly checking emails and in the middle of instant messaging conversations. He suspected that, like him, just about all of them had stayed up this late rather than waking up so early.

It worked to his advantage to have this be a haunt of college students and for his own age to leave him an unremarkable visitor among the crowd.

At one of the computers out of view of others, he logged on and quickly set about sending an untraceable message to Ryan's account; one he knew the R&D agent used for CIs that sometimes needed to send information anonymously. He relayed the important facts he'd learned from the interrogation; namely, that a number of Janus agents planned to join Annadale University in the coming weeks with the intention of recruitment.

To keep Ryan from having to lie about the source of the intel, he didn't give any indication it was him who sent the message. Even if the Agency was watching Boyd, Ryan could be kept clear of any charges of misconduct.

When Boyd got back to The Presidential he saw that the fail-safes were still in place when he entered the room. An almost palpable wave of relief hit him when he saw Sin asleep on the bed.

Exhaustion from the last couple of days hit Boyd at once and after he'd ensured the place was protected and no bugs or surveillance had been installed in the room since he'd left, he approached the side of the bed.

It was still dark outside but soon the sky would be shifting from deep blue to pastels. In the shadows of the room, Sin's features looked softer. At ease. Boyd's hand splayed above his former partner, centimeters of air between them. Such a simple, small distance, but spanning within it so much more.

As much as he wanted to run his fingertips along that smooth skin and trail them across the fall of black hair, he didn't want to disturb Sin's slumber. It had probably taken him a long time to fall asleep. And even as his body yearned to fall into bed next to Sin, he remembered how easily Sin had been to wake in the past.

Padded footsteps brought him to the small sofa in the corner. It was too short for him to properly stretch out on but it did provide him a better view of the door and window in case anyone tried to break in. He curled up on his side, body aching and head pounding so hard he could nearly hear it. He closed his burning eyes and left one hand resting on his gun for quicker access.

It wasn't long until the quiet sound of Sin's breathing lulled him to sleep.

It felt like no time had passed when he felt someone touch him. Instinct took over and he reacted automatically. His eyes snapped open, cold and emotionless, before he realized his hand was gripping Sin's twisted wrist and his gun was against Sin's head. A jolt of alarm swept through him and, eyes widening at the same time he released Sin suddenly as if he burned, he dropped back against the cushions.

"Fuck, Danny," he groaned, his hands pressing against his face. He could feel his fingers shaking. "Be careful how you wake me."

"How am I supposed to wake you, then?" Sin asked blandly, sounding enough like his old self that it was momentarily jarring. "Saying your name repeatedly didn't do the trick."

Kissing me is a start, came Boyd's first response but he didn't bother saying the ridiculous thought aloud. "I don't know. Normally I'd hear you but I was too tired, I guess. Is everything alright?"

"Considering last night's events, no." Sin raised his eyebrows, lips twisting up slightly in an amused smirk. He looked like he'd already washed up which wasn't surprising given his habit for getting up early. "But, I want to check the diner and make sure no one else came back. Also, I was thinking about some things last night that I wanted to get your opinion on."

"Okay." Boyd pushed himself to a stand, his limbs popping in the process. The clothing he'd fallen asleep in was wrinkled beyond repair and speckled with blood.

He didn't bother going into the other room as he stripped off his pants and started to pull on a new pair of shorts. His hair fell forward and he pulled it behind his ear as he looked sidelong at Sin.

"What is it?"

Sin didn't bother averting his eyes as Boyd changed or hide the fact that his green eyes were moving along the length of him as he spoke. "It doesn't make sense to me how all of this time has passed, and now all of a sudden they know that I saw something. Why would there be a lag? You've known for a long time, and they would have been keeping an eye out for longer. I just think there's a link somewhere between me and them. A link that developed between that girl's murder and when they recently started following me."

Boyd straightened and nodded. "That's a reasonable assumption." He stripped off his shirt and dropped it next to him on the carpet. "Have you noticed anything different lately? Before they started watching you."

"Not really. There's been a lot of new people around, but that always happens right before the semester starts. Lots of new faces with freshman and their families coming to town." Sin paused briefly, his eyes still on Boyd. "Nice scars you have there."

"Thanks," Boyd said mildly, lips twisting humorlessly on the side. His hand automatically splayed across his stomach, brushing the scattered webwork of scars. "Suicide attempt when I was sixteen. Mostly, anyway," he amended as he bent to swipe a new shirt from the floor. He caught Sin raising an eyebrow but was already continuing, "I've gotten a lot on assignments too. So nothing unusual, then? What about people who would know you better than random strangers? Maybe regulars at the cafe, coworkers, friends..."

"No. Or I would have said so." Sin looked away finally, a frown darkening his face. "I think maybe someone I know is involved with them."

Boyd pulled his hair out from beneath his shirt and watched Sin for a moment. He'd been thinking the same thing. "I ran into Roz the other day. She mentioned a party tonight. It might be a good opportunity to check your friends..."

Sin's eyebrows rose slightly, but he just nodded in agreement. "I was about to suggest that. Not for my friends-- I can do that on my own. But you can see who else is hanging out with them, and get some people talking. You're usually better at that type of thing."

The offhanded remark reminded Boyd of the other comments Sin had made the night before. Comments that made him wonder exactly how much "Danny" remembered.

"What makes you say that?"

"Say what?"

"That I'm better at getting people to talk." Boyd leaned back, his gaze steady on Sin's face. "As you keep reminding me, I'm a stranger you hardly know. How would you know what I'm good at doing?"

"Oh." Sin frowned slightly, staring at Boyd. "I guess... Because it seems like part of your job."

Boyd's gaze remained unmoving on Sin for a moment longer before he decided to let it slide with a nod. "That's true." He pushed himself to a stand and looked around for a band to pull back his hair. "So. This party tonight..."

There was no question where the party was. The music could be heard down the hallway even before they entered the loft. The bass vibrated through the floor faintly at first but it only grew more prominent the closer they came. When Roz opened the unlocked door and Boyd followed her into the loft, the rush of sensation overload put him sharply in mind of the Aleixo mission.

People crowded the room, most of them obviously high already as they writhed against each other. The lights were low and an expensive sound system was in the corner, blasting out the music at a loud enough level to be intoxicating. Windows lined the outside wall, showing off a stunning view of Annadale at night. Lights burned lowly outside; faint reflections of color against the yawning black. The loft was modern-looking and had a number of high end features, including a built in bar across the room that was one of the center points of group activity.

Most people seemed to be in their twenties, sweat glistening on their skin and clothing half off. He and Roz had arrived over an hour late to the party, which seemed to have been just enough time for most of the partygoers to lose their inhibitions.

He searched for Sin's tall form even as he shut the door behind him. He didn't see Sin immediately, but then with the low light and number of people it was difficult to even see how many other rooms there may be off this one. He stepped up next to Roz, his gaze shifting across the crowd.

"Let's get a drink," she said over the music.

Boyd nodded and followed her. They wove their way across the room. More than once Boyd ended up pressed up against someone or felt a hand running along him when he got too close to a person high out of their mind. It took some maneuvering but they made it to the bar. While Roz ordered a tall long island iced tea, Boyd went for vodka and cranberry juice. He had a mission tonight but standing out wouldn't do him any good.

Roz grinned and lifted her glass. The metallic gold of her tank top glittered in the light. "To hopefully getting some ass in the next hour. Cheers."

With his lips lifting wryly, Boyd raised his glass and clinked it against hers. "Cheers."

When he took a sip of the drink, the vodka was a strong note on his tongue. At least that meant they had a good bartender.

"I don't see Tech or Danny," Roz observed, chocolate eyes sweeping the room.

"I don't either." He looked over the bobbing heads as best he could but at this angle there wasn't a good view of the layout. He tried to keep an eye out for Sin's other friends but it was nearly impossible from this viewpoint. "Are there other rooms?"

"Yeah, but--"

Before Roz could finish her sentence, a tall, thin girl with long black hair sidled up to them. She was paler than anyone Boyd had seen in Annadale and had deep blue eyes that were enhanced by the blue minidress she wore.

"Rozlyn," she said, her voice low and throaty. She leaned forward and kissed Roz's cheek. "You look hot as usual."

"I know, right?" Roz smirked. "Where's the man?"

The dark-haired girl shrugged one thin shoulder. "Babysitting his brother, probably. Eli is already puking his brains out."

"Already?" Roz asked incredulously.

"Are you surprised?"

Roz scoffed. "Not really."

The girl's eyes slid over to Boyd and she looked him up and down coolly; clearly measuring his worth. "Who are you?"

"My name's Boyd," he told her. "I've been meeting some of your friends lately so Roz invited me."

"Interesting." She stared at him, looking him over again. "Have you met Oliver?"

"Not yet."

She nodded, digesting the information and then stepped away from them. "Well, enjoy. Someone will share the goodies since I gave them out for free."

With a half-hearted wave of her fingers, she turned away.

Roz looked at Boyd and smirked. "First impression?"

"Not much to go off," he replied with a shrug. He watched her walk away for a moment before turning back to Roz. "I don't think she was too pleased to see me, though. Was that Edie?"

"Yup. Oliver is her boyfriend. She tries to keep him on a short leash because he has a uh... pretty infamous roving, bisexual eye." Roz snorted, sipping her drink. "That roving eye landed on Danny pretty fast when he moved down here. But then again everyone's eye landed on that guy. Good thing I'm not into dick or I would have been sucked into that hot mess too."

"Hot mess?"

She rolled her eyes, lips playing in a half-smile. "Everyone fell in love with Danny a little bit when he first came down. But Oliver went after him no holds bar, and didn't stop to mention that he had a girlfriend. It wasn't a good scene when Edie found out."

Boyd's eyebrows lifted. He remembered Sin mentioning a guy he'd nearly gotten involved with and that something complicated had come from it. That must have been Oliver, then.

"How did that go for Danny?"

"Edie tried to run him out of the scene, and he didn't put up much of a fight or seem to even give much of a shit, but everyone liked him anyway." Roz wrinkled her nose, and finished her drink. "That girl has major diva 'tude, but she doesn't have as much power over the scene as she thinks she does. Even with her free Pandora."

"Free Pandora?" Boyd echoed in surprise. Judging by the enormous size of the loft and its location right in the middle of prime real estate, he supposed it made sense Edie had enough money to give out drugs like candy.

"Yup, that's what she meant by free goodies. These parties turn into nothing but PD-laced orgies." One of her dark eyebrows arched as Roz gave him a wicked grin. "So you better go snag Danny before someone else tries to. Although I guess I should give you the who's who first."

"That would be helpful," he agreed as he took a sip of his drink. His gaze shifted across the people he could see near him. "I only vaguely know names of some of them..."

They walked around the perimeter of the loft, and Roz playfully avoided grasping hands of people she knew. It seemed like most of her group of friends had sprawled out on long, low sitting lounge chairs that sat in the center of the room. For all that this was where Edie lived, with the lighting, surround sound system playing music and style of furniture, it looked like a real night club. Even the winding staircase that led to the upper level only served to remind Boyd of the club Lunar in Monterrey.

"The super fag and his Prada clothes is Taz," Roz said with a smirk, pointing to the slight man with long blond hair. "He's an adjunct at the university and super chill. I bet he'd shit kittens if he got a load of you, though. He likes being the only pretty-boy blond in the group. The lurking muscle-bound MMA fighter behind him is Gage."

The man in question was someone Boyd had observed playing basketball with Sin in the park. He was tall, formidably built, and was staring intently at Taz as Taz studiously ignored him.

"He very obviously has a major jones for Taz, but Taz ain't having it. Gage was in the military for awhile and it kind of made him nutty. He has like, zero social skills or filters."

Boyd's gaze lingered briefly on Gage. A military background could go either way; it could make him especially loyal to the government, or disillusioned and more likely to be swayed by Janus' propaganda. He made a note to engage him in conversation later, if possible. Danny was in charge of checking out his own friends but Boyd wanted to see if anything stood out to him.

"You know Tech already," she said, gesturing at the slender dark-haired girl sitting on the floor. Tech was wearing a black wife beater and faded jean shorts, and looked as androgynous as she had when Boyd had first met her. She was looking down at another guy who appeared to be half passed out on the floor.

"Who's that next to her?"

"Oliver's drunk ass brother Eli." Roz's gaze was focused entirely on Tech, and the way one strap of her wife beater had slid down. "He's a major lush. I have no idea where his brother is. Or Kayla. Or Danny. But those guys and Edie are the crew. With the exception of Edie, all of us are pretty regular, typical Annadale kids. Small time jobs, drink a lot, party a lot, you know."

She snorted and dragged her eyes away from Tech to focus on Boyd again. "Do you even get down with parties like this?"

Boyd finished off the vodka mix and glanced over at her. "I've been known to," he said with a shrug. "Depends on my mood."

"Well pick a mood, kiddo, because someone's gonna offer something soon." Roz winked and pushed her shoulder against his. "Now go find Danny."

"Oh, I'll find him alright," Boyd said significantly, flashing her a roguish grin. "I'll find plenty of him."

She laughed and gestured around the packed space. "Better hurry up then."

Boyd wandered off, looking around so that Roz would see him seemingly attempting to find Danny, but he let his feet meander him closer to the lounging group of friends. He'd ended up wearing dark wash denim shorts and a dark grey deep v-neck shirt with a partially unbuttoned, collared white shirt beneath. It seemed to be an appropriate choice, based on the obvious once-overs he got on his trek over.

He dropped off his empty glass at the bar and automatically accepted a vial a passerby dropped in his hand. He glanced at it and was unsurprised to see Pandora inside. He discreetly set it on a table as he passed by before he wandered over by his targets.

"Hey Tech," he said as he drew close enough to speak over the background reverberations of the music.

Tech had stood up behind the lounge chair, and was facing a group of teenagers that looked like they were barely out of high school. She paused in mid-sentence to them at the greeting, and looked over at Boyd with a raised eyebrow. "Sup. Still interested in that bike?"

"I am. Sorry I didn't get back to you, I got really busy and missed your emails." He glanced over at the teenagers then back to Tech. "Am I interrupting anything?"

"No." She turned away from them, and gave him an assessing stare. "You sure? I don't want to waste my time."

"I'm sure. I know you planned to wait for me to pay but I can still give you a down payment if you want."

Tech shrugged, and looked him over warily. "Maybe we should. You dropped off the planet, and I don't want to waste my time. I never do that type of shit, but it is what it is as long as you don't mind."

"I don't," Boyd said easily. He crossed his arms and maneuvered so he could lean against the wall, his gaze briefly swinging over to a woman who yelled something abruptly then broke into laughter. "I'd even be fine with paying the expected full cost up front so neither of us has to worry about it if that's what you'd prefer."

"We'll talk about it later," she said with a nod. "I'm not gonna get into the details now or whatever, but that works for me."

"Alright." Boyd pushed himself away from the wall. "Just let me know."

He didn't want to press Danny's friends since he had made it clear he wanted to take care of that aspect. So Boyd only kept watch for any suspicious people he didn't recognize. Nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary-- but then, he hadn't expected Janus to be that obvious. He passed by Edie talking to a group of partygoers and Eli stumbling into a bathroom before he headed to the second floor where it seemed it might be a little less crowded.

He heard hushed voices ahead of him, tinged with the unmistakable huskiness of arousal, and turned the corner to find three people hunched against the wall. Two of them were watching the third with rapt intensity, or rather, they watched the syringe that looked filled with something that looked suspiciously like Slide. The needle pressed into the crook of the young man's elbow.

The unexpected sight combined with the rush of sensation from the party threw Boyd suddenly, violently, into another state of mind.

It was dim lighting but he felt like he could see the mix of blood and liquid in the syringe so crystal clear and with it, so vivid it was like it was happening right now, he remembered too the sensations-- ecstasy beyond imagine, that rush of power and need that overcame all else. The recklessness and confidence of knowing he was invincible, that anything could happen to him and it would feel good, so good, he never had to be hurt again...

Mindless, aimless, so perfect-- When he heard the hitched intake of breath and the satisfied, jagged groan of the man it echoed all the times Boyd's own voice had made that same sound. It reminded him powerfully of how he had felt in those moments, how it hadn't mattered that he was under anyone else's power like he still was now, it hadn't mattered how much emotional or physical pain he could be in, because when he was high he was free...

His feet shifted him in that direction but something inside him fought back as violently as the memories had overtaken him. He wrenched his gaze away from the people; felt his attention land on his inner arm.

The color of Sin's eyes in the leaves of the tree tattooed on his skin. The promise of a forever he may still be able to regain.

The light shifted, the man's groans became unimportant, and the music resumed.

He could feel his heart pounding in his chest, accompanied by a shakiness in his limbs that had nothing to do with the congested heat of the loft. He let out an equally shaky breath.

A sudden need to see Sin rushed through him-- to touch him, to be near him, to hear his voice. In that sharp, private moment he felt a fierce sense of vulnerability and wanted to immerse himself in the comfort of Sin's strength.

But he didn't have anything to tell Sin yet and there were still places he needed to check. He wanted to prove he could still be an agent, still be a good partner, even after everything. Even if sometimes he faltered. Even if the Sin he'd known was no longer there to feel proud of him.

Even if the new, civilian Sin would never know about this moment.

When he took the stairs leading up he felt an enormous sense of relief to find an open roof. There were a few people up on the roof, although most of them seemed to be using the pool or recently out of it. He started to walk forward when he noticed Gage and Kayla talking to each other on the other side of the pool. They were some of the few guests who seemed to be up there without intentions of swimming.

Wanting something to focus on, he decided to move closer.

He meandered over to stop by the railing just close enough to overhear their faint conversation. Kayla seemed to be assuring Gage that there was nothing wrong with him, that 'he' was just picky. Boyd wasn't surprised when Taz's name came up right afterward.

Forearms resting on the railing, he looked out over the serene view of Annadale Beach at night. It was so much darker than in Lexington; here, it was an expanse of black broken by lights that glowed here and there like fireflies. In the distance, he could just see the ocean; pale glints of black-blue-gold, moving in the gentle pull of the wind.

He stayed there a moment, tilting his head back with eyes sliding closed, enjoying the warm brush of the breeze along his face and rifling lightly through his hair. Letting a sense of peace overcome him; so hard to find in his profession and, especially lately, his life.

He turned his face to the side, drawing in another full breath of clear Annadale air, before sliding his eyes open and glancing at Kayla distractedly as if he'd only just noticed her.

"Hey, you're that waitress," he said with the suddenness of a person who hadn't thought to filter their words.

Kayla and Gage stopped talking and looked at him. Kayla's face relaxed into a friendly smile, but Gage stared at him with a slight frown. "Who are you?" he demanded.

"Chill, Gage," Kayla said, poking him in the side. Her long, red hair glimmered in the lights around the pool. "He's a customer at the diner."

"Oh." Gage kept staring at Boyd, his brown eyes narrowed. "What are you doing at this party if you're just a customer."

"Jesus, Gage." Kayla rolled her eyes, and grimaced at Boyd. "Sorry."

Boyd turned around, his lower back and forearms leaning against the cool weight of the railing. He met Kayla's eyes first with a smile and a, "It's no problem," before shifting his gaze to Gage. "Roz invited me."

"How do you know Roz?" Gage asked automatically, eyes still narrowed.

"Gage, seriously, relax. He's fine."

"How do you know? There's too many new faces around," the ex-soldier said with a scowl.

Kayla hooked her arm through Gage's, fanning her fingers out on his forearm. She shot a wan smile at Boyd. "He's just overprotective, don't worry about the inquisition."

Boyd quirked a smiled in return, marking Gage's name from his mental list of possible Janus sympathizers. He seemed too overtly paranoid for Janus to talk him into their propaganda. "I'm not the only interloper on this party?"

"No. Everyone has new friends lately." Judging from Gage's tone, the big man didn't think this was a good thing.

Boyd gave Gage a mildly curious look. "Oh right," he said with an abrupt nod. "Roz said Tech had a new boyfriend or something."

"Not just her."

Kayla shook her head, and elbowed Gage without bothering to be discreet.

Boyd glanced at Kayla and smiled, his hands lifting in front of him with his palms out in a gesture of peace. "Sorry. I guess neither of you know me that well. Roz makes a person feel like they're one of the fold right away so I forget I'm a complete stranger to you. I was just glad to see a familiar face."

"It's okay," she said, lips turning up slightly. "I just didn't even know you knew Roz like that."

"I'm not around a lot but the times I have been, I seem to run into her a fair amount. I've gotten the chance to spend some time with her and--" He stopped as if catching himself, a quick and slightly apologetic glance at Kayla as he ended, "others."

Kayla didn't react at first, but her face changed the moment she understood. The smile evaporated and her face went blank. "Oh."

He'd thought if he mentioned his closeness to Danny without warning it might generate a startled, honest response from her. Maybe give him an idea if she was still upset or angry enough with Danny to turn him over to Janus.

But the second he saw her blank face he knew he wasn't going to get anywhere with her, not without a lot more time than this one party allowed. With no options left to gather intel for Sin, Boyd suddenly couldn't stand to be apart from him any longer.

It was pointless, it was stupid-- all of this. Everything in the world that kept him apart from Sin, everything that came between them... He just needed to find him. The piece of him that would always be left unfinished without his partner felt like a gaping hole that needed to be filled.

"Sorry," he said, pushing away from the railing and running a hand back through his hair. "I didn't mean to..." He trailed off, glancing away with a faint grimace. He met her eyes again. "It was good to see you. I should probably see if I can find Roz again."

"See ya later," she said faintly. Kayla turned away and Gage looked briefly confused before giving a short shrug and nodding at Boyd.

The walk down to the second floor reintroduced the thrumming of bass that vibrated in his chest. But this time he could handle it. This time when he saw the three Sliders they were meaningless to him, they were pathetic. They didn't even have the willpower to break free from a single drug they'd willingly taken. What did they know about suffering-- what did they know about being forced into hell and needing a drug like that just to endure it?

Knowing Sin was in the loft, knowing he could go find him now, changed everything.

There weren't as many people in the hallway but his gaze swept each of them in search of Sin's familiar features. He glanced in the doors as he passed, his attention drawn by multiple, muffled voices coming from an open door down a hallway he hadn't passed before.

The master bedroom opened up before him; one giant, expansive room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows covering two walls. One of those walls had large sliding glass doors that opened onto a large balcony overlooking the ocean from afar. Couples were scattered around the room, all obviously high with some in the midst of frantic sex and others lost in simply kissing each other.

But Boyd hardly saw any of that. His eyes immediately went to the balcony, where Sin's form drew him like a magnetic force.

Sin was leaning against the railing, his tall figure drenched in the combined low lighting of the bedroom and the moon. A man was leaning close to him, his face tilted just enough for Boyd to see the rugged line of his jaw and cheekbones. His hair was short, a deep brown in the light shadows, and he had a hand on Sin's hip. His lips nearly brushed Sin's ear as he seemed to say something, while Sin remained relaxed against the railing.

Boyd didn't see or hear anything else; didn't even care about the other man.

All he saw was Sin.

His stomach clenched at the sight of Sin; a heated mixture of relief and desire spreading through him. It was fine now, everything was fine. The world was right again and all he needed, all he craved with a power even stronger than Slide had ever gripped him, was to be with Sin.

He moved through the bedroom predatorily, his burning stare not once shifting from Sin. As if feeling the weight of his gaze, Sin looked over as Boyd approached the balcony. When their eyes met, Sin's eyes narrowed slightly and a faint smirk drew his lips up on the side.

The clenching in Boyd's stomach jolted at the look, his own eyes narrowing in return and lips parting. The hunger he felt from so simple a movement was nearly overwhelming.

He strode right up to the two of them, barely registering that the man next to Sin looked over at the new arrival. Without breaking the heated stare he was giving Sin, he ordered the man:


"This is my party, man. Who the hell are you?"

The side of Sin's mouth turned up further, and he didn't even look at the man next to him. "I'll talk to you later, Oliver."

Oliver frowned and he glared at Boyd before scoffing quietly. He pushed himself away from the balcony, and walked away with a grumble. If he said anything scathing, Sin didn't react or seem very interested. He just continued to look at Boyd as he stood in the same relaxed manner.

Boyd walked up to him and pressed their bodies together, his hands braced on the railing on either side of Sin's hips. He met Sin's eyes until he leaned in, his breath hot against Sin's ear.

"You think it's funny?" He tilted his head slightly, his cheek rubbing against Sin's as he let out a ragged breath. "All it takes from you is one look and I forget everything else."

One of Sin's hands caught in the back of Boyd's shirt. He fisted the material, making it draw tighter against Boyd's chest. He didn't hesitate before sliding his other hand down to grip Boyd's ass, bringing their hips more tightly together. "Apparently all you have to do now is walk in the room and I want to fuck you."

A husky hint of voice made it into Boyd's exhale and he rolled his hips against Sin's. He kissed Sin's jaw and then the edge of his lips, his tongue flicking out briefly, before he drew back just enough to meet Sin's eyes. "Then it seems we want the same thing."

Sin's gaze never left Boyd's face before he leaned in and pressed their lips together. When his grip tightened in Boyd's shirt, when his tongue slid into his mouth-- he never once looked behind them, or seemed to care about the people who could easily see them from inside.

Boyd deepened the kiss, his body almost languidly rolling against Sin's and pressing him back against the railing.

Their tongues twined together, their jaws working and heads tilting for better angles as the kiss grew hotter. The shirt strained at Boyd's chest as Sin's grip tightened; pulling them so close together Boyd could feel the folds of Sin's jeans as their hips ground against each other.

When their lips parted it came with a drawn breath on both their parts, sharpening on Sin's into a hitched groan when Boyd immediately turned his attention to the spot on Sin's neck he had always liked.

He kissed, sucked and licked down Sin's throat to the place where his shoulder met, where he had bitten hard just the night before. This time he ran a hot, open-mouthed kiss along the skin, running the hard ball of his tongue piercing along it in a rolling motion. Sin's hands twitched on Boyd and he cursed something under his breath that Boyd didn't even try to understand. All he focused on was the way he could feel Sin growing harder against him; the way his hips jerked seemingly of their own accord.

Sin suddenly grabbed Boyd's arm and seemed ready to flip him around, ready to fuck him, but Boyd resisted, pushing Sin back against the railing with a firm press of his hips. He rocked slowly against Sin, enjoying the way Sin's chest started moving even faster against him; the loud catch of his breath and ragged groan when Boyd murmured hotly into his ear:

"Not yet."

When Boyd looked up he saw wild green eyes burning into him; felt Sin breathing harder. A slow smile drew across Boyd's lips and he turned his attention to kissing and sucking along the other side of Sin's neck. Sin gripped Boyd's ass with one hand and ran the other up beneath the back of Boyd's shirt, calloused fingers catching and sliding on the expanse of skin. When his hand brushed the brand of Sin's own name, Boyd's breath hitched and his grip tightened.

Sin's hand moved then, a groan falling from his own mouth to answer Boyd's. He skimmed it up Boyd's back and tangled in his hair, tilting his head back before crushing their lips together again. The kiss was bruising, harsh, and becoming sloppier the harder they ground together. It digressed into licking, biting, and barely muffled the ragged sounds escaping them both. Sin's hand moved between them, and his fingers worked over Boyd's belt easily. The zipper slid down, and then Boyd's jeans were rucked down around his hips as Sin palmed the bulge in his underwear.

A sound escaped Boyd that was caught between a growl and a gasp. Fire coursed through him, but then the pressure was gone and Sin followed through on reversing their positions. He had Boyd crushed between him and the railing, underwear shoved down and torso half pushed over the side.

There were other sounds rushing around them-- traffic far below, and the moans and whispers of people not even fifteen feet away in the bedroom. It didn't matter though, none of it mattered. The fact that anyone could see them now didn't matter. All that mattered was that he could hear Sin's belt clinking as it was undone, the rustle of fabric, and felt Sin's bare cock nudging against the cleft of his ass.

Boyd moaned, his hands spasming against the railing and his hips jerking back. Sin leaned forward, his hard cock sliding against Boyd's entrance, pressing up between Boyd's ass cheeks and making Boyd's moan grow into something louder, more ragged. Boyd rocked back, feeling the hot catch of bare skin against bare skin, wanting Sin to reposition so he could press inside.

Then he felt a strong hand at his mouth, fingers sliding between his lips with no resistance. He groaned, muffled and aroused, and rolled his tongue around those fingers the way he would have Sin's cock. He felt his own erection straining in the warm night air, precome gathering at the tip and only growing as he felt Sin's hips jerk briefly; heard the hissed moan that accompanied Boyd's substitute fellatio.

With his fingers coated in saliva, Sin removed his hand as abruptly as it had been presented. Within seconds Boyd felt Sin's fingers tracing the ring of muscles at his entrance. He let out a loud, dragging moan and shoved his hips back, his head falling down as he breathed heavily. Sin's fingers disappeared again but this time Boyd could hear the sound of him preparing himself before the hard head of Sin's cock pressed against Boyd's hole and shoved inside.

Boyd threw his head back and cried out in a near-shout, his voice intermingling with Sin's heady groan, and within seconds time flashed forward again. Sin started thrusting deep inside Boyd, stretching him with his thick cock. One of Sin's hands clutched Boyd's shoulder while the other gripped his hip, as he dragged Boyd back against his thrusts. It wasn't frantic and violent like the previous night, but Sin was fucking him so thoroughly that the intensity had Boyd panting as he released ruined, keening groans.

At some point he could feel a third presence on the balcony; he faintly heard a voice and a laugh, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered but the press of that cock inside of him, the feel of Sin's hands on him, the way that low, deep voice was guttering out desperately as Sin began pounding him faster.

"Fuck." The word ripped out of Sin, and his voice was so agonized and raw that it made Boyd slam back on him harder, faster, taking it to that frantic, urgent place where he needed to be thoroughly taken by Sin until he came. "Boyd, fuck, fuck, fuck!"

Sin shouted when he came, helpless moans filling the air between them. He filled Boyd until come started leaking out and even then, he kept ramming the still-hard length into Boyd.

The combination of heat flooding him and Sin unable to stop made Boyd's hands clench the railing. He rocked back frantically, his body half bent with the building falling away in front of him and Sin's grip unrelenting on his body. The fall beneath him combined dizzyingly with the orgasm he could feel quickly approaching.

He let out a near wail, his voice twisting breathily as he came. Pleasure rushed through him as hard and fast as Sin fucking him. His head dropped forward, blond hair swinging over his shoulders and rocking with their movement. Even then his fingers couldn't release the railing; his body couldn't stop slamming backward.

"Hs--" He barely caught himself, voice husky and yearning. "Danny-- Danny, don't stop... Oh God, don't stop..."

Despite Boyd's pleading he felt Sin pull out soon afterward, but before he could protest he felt Sin's cock replaced by fingers sliding inside and fucking him open again. He groaned loudly, eyes squeezing shut and mouth falling open for harsh, heavy panting that filled his entire chest. He felt the fingers crook and suddenly brush his prostate.

A jolt of electricity crashed through Boyd, his vision flashing white and eyes flying open.

"Oh fuck--" wrenched out of Boyd, his body quaking between equal needs of slamming back against Sin's hand and his knees nearly buckling beneath him.

"I want you to come again." Sin's voice filled his ear, low and smoldering and intense. He was hunched forward, his mouth pressed against the side of Boyd's face. "You're going to fucking take it until you come again."

Boyd couldn't answer, couldn't even think of one aside from an agonized groan, as wordless sounds dripped from his mouth. The only coherent thoughts that spun through his mind were a chant of: fuck me, use me, I don't care just don't stop, I need you, I need you, don't leave me.

It was all he wanted-- all he'd dreamed of for months, for over a year. Moments like this, memories of moments like this; Sin wanting him so bad that nothing else mattered, nothing but the two of them. Modifications and experiments didn't matter, the Agency didn't matter, Janus didn't matter-- All that mattered was them.

"Jesus fucking Christ, Boyd."

Their clothes were twisted up, sweaty, and Boyd's hair was clinging to his face to mix with Sin's. He rode back on Sin's hand unashamed and uncaring of who saw, focused only on being filled, on his prostate being pounded until he was nearly delirious, and then he felt his jeans being kicked the rest of the way down. They tangled with his flip-flops, and then Sin was manhandling him with ease. Long fingers dug into Boyd as their positions reversed again. Sin's back was to the railing, and he was crushing Boyd's back to his chest as he lifted him up.

Boyd arched against Sin, mumbling pleading nonsense as his half-naked body was exposed completely to anyone who may look out onto the balcony from the bedroom. His eyes focused on the figures in the bedroom sluggishly, feeling drugged by the feel of Sin-- by the way Sin seemed just as drugged by Boyd. Hands cupped the undersides of Boyd's knees, spreading his legs open and holding him up before Sin's erection impaled him again.

A near-scream wrenched out of Boyd and he threw his head back, one arm wrapping behind Sin with his hand gripping Sin's hair, the other clutching at the hand holding up one knee. Sin bent his own knees and started rocking upwards, gravity aiding him as he slammed Boyd down harder and harder on his cock. With the floor and railing out of reach, Boyd could only take what Sin gave him.

The thought was nearly enough to make him come again.

His entire body felt like it was on fire; every point where Sin touched him, every time he heard a harsh groan or rattling breath from Sin, was like a flame that made him burn even hotter. He could hardly breathe, his open mouth pouring endless words. His hands tightened against Sin; his head falling forward and back again as his entire world became consumed by Sin.

Knowing Sin wanted him so bad that he would fuck him in front of everyone made Boyd's body clench around Sin, dragging from him a ragged groan of, "Fuck, Boyd--"

At the sound of Sin's voice, the need became unbearable and with a moan that mangled a helpless warning, Boyd came violently without touching his cock once. His body snapped against Sin's hands, his sight greying out completely for a moment, and he felt Sin slam into him even faster as Sin jerked him up and down.

Boyd hardly heard himself as he cried out, didn't hear Sin's frantic, "Yeah, yes, God--". His entire existence was devoured by Sin and the feeling persisted even after he heard Sin's harsh moan and felt the second flush of heat fill him as Sin came again. Sin continued to rock into him a few times, wringing his orgasm out fully until his grip shifted and he slowly let Boyd back down.

When Boyd's feet hit the balcony his legs nearly gave out beneath him. Sin's strong grip around his chest caught him, and Boyd hung there a moment with his hands clenching Sin's arm. The world buzzed around him; he was nearly sightless with his vision still sparking from the aftereffects of his orgasm.

Soon he'd regained enough strength to turn around and pull Sin down into a kiss. Their lips met and parted and met again, urgency and satiation rising and falling with the rolling of their tongues. Sin's arms wrapped around Boyd's back and pulled him closer as Boyd tightened his hold around Sin's shoulders. Their chests rose and fell against each other heavily, both their bodies flushed and slowly cooling in the open night air.

Boyd moaned, muffled, into Sin's mouth and felt Sin's arms spasm against him, nearly crushing him to his chest. Sin tilted his head, breaking the kiss and staring into Boyd's eyes as he murmured, "Why don't we just go back to the hotel?"

The shuddering breath and slight nod was all the answer Sin needed.

Continue to Fade Chapter 25...