Fade Chapter Twenty-Seven

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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 27

Uploaded on 7/29/2012

It had taken Danny exactly one hour to go from irritated to anxious after Boyd raced out. Danny had paced the hotel room, walked home, and then resumed pacing in his apartment.

Boyd leaving was a source of anxiety in general; Danny never knew when he would see the other man again. It could be days, weeks, or months for all he knew.

Before, the long absences had just served to emphasize that there was something shady about the blond. There was something off about him, something that had put Danny on edge even if he couldn't identify precisely why. Now he knew that Boyd was hiding things and had this whole bizarre covert lifestyle, and not knowing when he would see Boyd again just emphasized how deep he was in it for the kid.

Sometime over the past couple of weeks Danny had tried to figure out when his feelings had shifted from annoyed to infatuated. He'd told himself that it had been that night under the pier; it had been the adrenaline. That was why he'd become completely needy and desperate to get Boyd out of his clothes, blood and murder be damned.

But that night hadn't satisfied the need, and if anything it had gotten more intense. He wanted to fuck Boyd, but he also just wanted to see him, to talk to him, to just be near him, and a few stolen hours here and there weren't satisfying those desires at all.

But this time it was worse. Whatever Boyd had been getting at with all of the questioning, whatever he'd been about to say-- it was different than his usual evasion and vagueness.

So Danny had cycled between pissed off and resentful, all the while trying to tell himself that Boyd most likely had a good reason for taking off. He'd told himself that Boyd would be able to explain himself, he'd have answers to all of the questions that continuously crowded Danny's head after every conversation they had.

It would make sense eventually.

Danny had told himself these things while he glared into space, but there was no denying that Boyd was hiding something from him. It was something important, and it had something to do with why Boyd was so invested in him in the first place.

Trusting Boyd to have his back with the Janus situation was something that had come surprisingly easy, but trusting him to be honest was a different story. A lot of pieces of the puzzle that made up the blond Murphy Corps agent just didn't fit together, and it was starting to become more obvious.

Boyd had been fishing during the conversation about the nightmares; asking pointed questions, waiting for specific answers... Danny had no idea what he'd been looking for, but it was clear that Boyd was getting at something, and he'd finally been about to say what it was.

All of those things took precedent over Tech and Janus in Danny's mind. He had a feeling that what Boyd knew had nothing to do with that.

What Boyd knew had something specifically to do with Danny himself.

All of the distrust, resentment and confusion built up until Danny said fuck discretion, and found himself going down to his bike before it even registered that he'd made the decision to go to Lexington.

The unbalanced reality of their friendship, or whatever it was, had made it so Danny had absolutely no qualms about going through Boyd's messenger bag and wallet. He'd done it the first time they'd spent the night in the hotel, but had found nothing of interest except for Boyd's various forms of ID and a tablet computer that he hadn't been able to turn on. But the Pennsylvania license and residency card had been useful. It had been surprisingly easy to remember Boyd's address.

It was a long ride, even longer since Danny's bike barely hit 60 mph, and he didn't make it to the destroyed suburbs around the city until a little after two in the morning. He zigzagged through debris and broken buildings like it was an obstacle course, barely enjoying the exhilaration of such a long ride because of the anxiety that had steadily built the entire time.

His gloved fingers tightened as he steered the bike, eyes narrowed into slits as the wind whipped his hair back wildly. The anxiety was making him angry, and the anger was making him reckless. He wanted to go faster; push the bike until the engine gave out. Because every minute that ticked by felt like too long, and Danny couldn't shake the feeling that that was important. He couldn't explain it just like he couldn't explain a lot of the weird feelings that Boyd brought out.

During the year that he'd lived in Annadale, Danny had started thinking he could actually be a laidback person. He didn't care about the drama his friends tried to drag him into, and hadn't ever responded to it. He barely reacted to conflict until someone took it a couple of steps too far.

Not getting involved had been easy. Keeping his head down had been easy.

And then Boyd had come along, and everything had changed.

He couldn't keep it cool around Boyd. Everything about the guy evoked an irrational reaction from Danny. Anger, impatience, suspicion, but also so much fucking desire that Danny couldn't even explain it. He couldn't begin to understand why his mind and body reacted to Boyd in such a strong, needy way.

But he couldn't explain a lot of things about his mind and body anymore, and he didn't want the parts that responded to Boyd to change. It had felt good to want someone that much, and was nothing like the throwaway relationships and flings that had only grown wearisome after a while.

The bike rolled to a stop once he'd ridden to the center of Lexington. Danny had only been to the city once before, but somehow the name of the neighborhood popped into his head: Lincoln Square. The name of Boyd's neighborhood also populated in his mind, and Danny rode north-west to Cedar Hills.

It was weird. Weird like the nightmares, and the daydreams, and weird like the way he knew all of the right places to touch Boyd to get him to scream. Weird like the muscle memory that had come with breaking a neck and crushing bones, and his own total lack of reaction to it all.

By the time Danny parked his bike on the curb in front of 508 Magnolia Lane, the tension in his body was almost painful. He threw one long leg over the side of his bike, and yanked his helmet off. The house looked dark, but Boyd's car was in the driveway.

The house that loomed before Danny was larger than he'd imagined, and the neighborhood was way more residential. Despite that, as soon as Danny touched the gate, a flash of something went through his head that rooted him to the spot.

The same house, the same gate, just as dark as it was now but with the lawn overgrown and a different, black car in the driveway.

Danny's fingers flexed on the gate, and he stared at it blankly.

It made no sense. He was losing his fucking mind.

His jaw clenched, and he shoved the gate open. Without really knowing why, he began moving silently to the side of the house. The tension spiked as he moved towards the back door but he wrote it off as anticipation. There was nothing remarkable about the backyard, other than that it looked as if it was barely used. Weeds and grass had grown tall which wasn't surprising given how little Boyd even seemed to be home.

There was a dim light above the back door that was surrounded by windows on either side. The curtains within the home were drawn, and even though he couldn't see inside, Danny knew no one was inside. He knocked anyway, and waited for a moment before knocking again. He let two minutes tick by before impatience won over, and tried the doorknob. It opened but instead of feeling relief, wariness began to spread.

Lips curling down into a frown, Danny paused just inside a short hallway.

"Boyd?" he called out.

He let another twenty seconds pass before he shut the door behind him quietly, and moved further into the house. The kitchen stood directly opposite from where he stood, with a hallway to his left and a dark, open space to his right.

Something felt wrong about the situation, but Danny couldn't figure out what it was. He stood in the kitchen and looked around but there were no signs that anyone had been there recently except for a bottle of water that sat unopened on the counter. The kitchen lacked any real personal touches except for a couple of colorful pieces of mail that had been stuck to the refrigerator. A closer look allowed him to see that one was a menu from a diner in the neighborhood, and the other was obviously some kind of junk mail. The envelope was addressed to Kassian Trovosky.

Reaching out, Danny dragged his fingers along the envelope and hesitated just briefly before removing it from the fridge. Even if Boyd didn't think he needed a contact person in case something happened with Janus, Danny wanted one. And apparently this Kassian person was a close friend. Something about that rubbed Danny the wrong way, and he couldn't do more than attribute it to his continuing, ridiculous dreams.

Tucking the envelope into his back pocket, Danny moved back to the hallway. He ignored the dark living room, and moved further down the hallway. He skipped the bathroom, and stopped just inside the doorway of what looked like an office. A cursory glance turned up an ancient-looking computer, some dusty shelves, and a lot of books. The computer was tempting, but Danny turned away and continued down the hallway.


The call received no answer, but by that point Danny was positive that he was alone in the house. Chemical imbalances and anxiety aside, there were some things that Danny was certain of about himself, and he knew without a doubt that sometime in the past he'd allowed himself to be Modified.

The traumatic brain injury that he'd gotten during the bombings had fucked up his head. There were grey areas in his memory now from the occasions when he'd drifted in and out of fugue states. It was undeniable that during one of those episodes he'd allowed himself to be illegally enhanced. He didn't remember when or why but it was the only explanation for the things he could do. If someone had been in the house, he knew that he would have been able to hear the nuances of their breathing, muffled footfalls, or the faint shifting of a bed.

Frowning, Danny went to the end of the hall and entered what appeared to be a master bedroom. It was fully furnished but the room had a strange, musty smell to it and the surfaces were covered in a sheen of dust. Danny frowned, and shook his head as he backed out of the room.

What the fuck, did Boyd never go in certain rooms in his own house?

He'd almost decided to bypass the room next to the bathroom and find the stairs that led up, but Danny stopped just as he started to walk by. There was another flash of something unexplainable, and Danny closed his eyes briefly with his hands braced against the frame of the door. Deja vu hit him hard, and for a second Danny was sure that he'd been here before.

Here in the doorway to this room with shadows cast along the floor and the bed.

Anxiety was mixing with a strange sense of dread, but Danny shook it off and opened his eyes. The bedroom before him without a doubt belonged to Boyd. The bed was made, but not perfectly. There were clothes discarded, and an open duffel bag sat on the floor next to a closet. A pair of black boots were sticking out of the closet, and a black trench coat hung off the back of the doorknob.

Danny stood in the middle of the room and rolled his shoulders absently. This was Boyd's room. This was where he slept. These were his random personal belongings scattered around here and there. It felt wrong being there without Boyd, but Danny's moral compass didn't torment him for too long. He knew nothing about Boyd, and sometimes it seemed that Boyd wanted it that way despite being so involved in Danny's life.

Pushing aside the momentary discomfort, he saw a laptop sitting on an end table and some art supplies on top of a chest of drawers. The sketchpad that he'd watched Boyd hunch over in the diner was stacked with several others, half hidden by other supplies and a blank canvas propped against it. It didn't seem like many people might have noticed it but Danny spotted it immediately, something familiar in an unfamiliar place, and automatically gravitated toward it.

The pictures of Annadale didn't surprise him, but the quality of the art did. Part of Danny had always wondered if the quiet artist thing had been nothing more than a front so that Boyd had an excuse to sit in the diner for hours and spy on him.

Even if it was a front, at least the kid actually had talent.

Danny began flipping through sketches of the beach, the diner, and several of Danny himself. He paused on them, eyes narrowing slightly at the detail and care put into each drawing. One long finger dragged across the page slowly to circle the date that was scrawled in the corner. There were drawings of him that dated back as far as early summer. There were sketches in different media like charcoal, pencil, pen, a few watercolors, and although there were drawings of other diner customers and even Roz, the majority of them were of Danny.

He skimmed through the sketches of the college's campus before shutting the book. He stared down at it for a long moment, fingers pressed into the cover. There was something about the sketches that put him on edge. The idea of Boyd watching him for that long, before they'd even really talked much, and intently enough to draw so much.

Wetting his lips nervously, Danny focused on the next sketchbook and opened it. Once again, his own face stared back at him. The hair was different, shorter, and the angles of his face were sharper but it was a nearly perfect rendition of him. It was another pencil sketch done at an angle that focused on his sleeping face.

"What the fuck..."

Dark brows snapping together, Danny shifted and began flipping through the sketchbook faster. The sound of him exhaling shakily filled the room, and Danny shoved the sketchbook out of the way before grabbing another. It was more of the same, and his movements became sharper and more violent as he turned the pages.

Sketches of him in a kitchen, smoking in some kind of alley, looking off into space, of his hands, him with tattoos on his arms and fingers with a sharp, roguish smile. Danny's breath was coming faster as confusion took over completely, and it just got worse when he finally started looking at the other people Boyd had drawn.

There were people who sparked a sharp recognition in Danny: a man wearing a button-down shirt and a wearied expression, a younger looking guy with unruly black curls, and another man with short golden hair and clear, blue eyes. Danny froze when he saw that one, because it was the man who had been in several of his dreams; the man who had popped into his head the first time Boyd had said the name Kassian.

Danny's eyes jerked to the corner of the page. It was dated in the late winter of 2022. Chest tight and hands starting to become unsteady, Danny flipped back to the pictures of him. They were also dated 2022. The third book's sketches were dated 2020. Four years ago.

He dropped them as if they burned, and backed away from the dresser. He stood that way for a long moment before exploding into motion again.

It didn't require a second thought for Danny to start ransacking the room. He pawed through drawers, the closet, Boyd's duffel bag and the pockets of his pants. He didn't come up with much until he jerked open the narrow drawers in the end tables. The one to the right of the bed was clearly dedicated to sex. Condoms, lubricant, two different kinds of vibrators--

"Oh god!" Boyd's voice cracked on the last word, and he canted his hips up. He was covered in sweat and come, golden eyes wild and expression strained as he threw his head back with a strangled moan.

For the third time that night, Danny froze in place as the mental image flashed through his mind and disappeared as quickly without context. It was so vivid and startling that it took him longer to shake it off this time.

The table didn't have anything else of value, so Danny impatiently moved to the next. This one had random papers and envelopes, pens and a flash drive that Danny immediately pocketed. There were several Journalist Guild magazines stuffed inside as well. He'd nearly shut the drawer again when he noticed something sticking out from beneath the magazines.


Any traces of uncertainty in his growing suspicions were dispelled. There was no more fucking doubt.

The pictures were of Danny, of them together. Not many, but enough to make it real. Danny stared at his own face, so familiar but yet so different. Thinner, schooled into a stoic expression, eyes narrowed, hair shorter, and looking pissed off that he was caught off guard in a picture.

Danny stared at it, and moved to the next. One of himself stretched out on a swinging bench somewhere with sunlight streaming down on him. The last was the only one of he and Boyd together, the camera too close to their faces as Boyd likely took the shot. Boyd was grinning mischievously against the side of Danny's face as he glowered at the camera.

No, there was no more doubt. They'd known each other.

Danny stared down at the pictures as fragments of pieces melded together in his mind.

Somehow, somewhere, they'd known each other, and he didn't remember. There were so many things that were blurry and confused about his past, but this was certain.

They knew each other, and Boyd hadn't told him.

The anger came fast, and his fist was crashing into the wall before he could stop himself. It caved in under his fist, creating a hole in the plaster but this time he didn't care. He didn't give a fuck. If Boyd had been here, Danny was almost positive it was his face that would have been on the receiving end of the punch.

"Motherfucker," Danny hissed.

He looked around before grabbing an empty backpack from the closet. He shoved the pictures inside, some of the sketchbooks, and the laptop.

His feet moved silently as he left the hallway, and headed out to what he assumed was the living room. Not bothering with the light, Danny started to the staircase on the opposite side of the room but stopped when something crunched under his feet. Eyebrows drawing together, Danny paused and looked down. There was the faint glimmer of glass on the carpet, and he felt along the wall to flip a light switch.

Danny froze with his hand on the wall, eyes focused on the scene in front of him.

The room was destroyed. Broken lamps and shelving, toppled furniture, blood splattered across the wall and pooled on the floor in different spots. Discarded casings on the floor. The curtains were ripped, partially pulled down in one area with a smear of blood. There were so many broken items that he could only pick out a few recognizable items amongst the wreckage: Boyd's cell phone which was crushed, the gun he'd always carried discarded by the wall, and a photo album that had been flung open with the pages askew.

Traces of the fight were all over the room, but the bloody handprint smeared on the floor by a pool of blood and another skidding down the door made Danny's heart seize in his chest.

Anger and betrayal forgotten, he turned and sprinted up the stairs. A mental picture flashed in his mind: Boyd dead somewhere in the house. Golden eyes open and staring blankly, body abused and covered in blood, fingers lax.

He shoved open the doors in the upstairs but only found a couple of empty guest rooms. No signs of life, no signs of a fight. It had all gone down near the front door.

Boyd wasn't dead, he'd been taken by someone. The knowledge didn't exactly bring relief, but some of the panic dissipated and Danny felt steadier. If someone had taken Boyd, that meant they had use for him alive. It had to be. When Janus had come for Danny, they'd planned to shoot him right there on the beach.

Unless it wasn't Janus.

Danny paused toward the bottom of the stairs, and stared at the blood again. He had no idea if it was Janus. He had no idea what else Boyd was mixed up in. He had no idea where to start. The racing of his pulse matched his breathing, and Danny jerked the envelope out of his back pocket. Before he could focus on the address, a sudden, faint sound filled the house.


It could have been anything. It could have been a timer on something, but it triggered an automatic reaction in Danny. He leapt down the rest of the stairs and sprinted through the house, stopping only to grab the photo album and gun from the living room before he ran out the back door. He'd just thrown himself over a gate into a neighboring yard when flames exploded from Boyd's house.

The explosion sent a shockwave through the house and yard that sent debris flying. Glass shattered, and there were pops and booms as the flames grew wilder. The backyard was cast in the orange glow of the fire, heat warmed his skin, and the light danced across his face as he stared.

He wasn't inside, Danny told himself as he forced himself to turn away. He wasn't inside.

He repeated the mantra as he ran to the front of the house and grabbed his bike. He hopped on it, and quickly zipped down the street as shouts of alarm filled the neighborhood and, soon afterward, sirens sounded in the distance. He only went two blocks before stopping the bike, and getting off again. His hands were still shaking when he looked at the envelope that had crumpled in his hand.

Danny forced himself to calm his labored breathing, to close his eyes and try to still his hands, but horrible images kept filling his mind.

Boyd lifeless, lips blue, blond hair red with blood, body cast aside somewhere. Dead and mutilated.

Squeezing his eyes shut tighter, Danny shook his head. No. There was no fucking way. They wouldn't leave the house a mess of evidence and then dispose of the body. It made no sense. But then blowing up his fucking house made no sense either, unless they wanted to get rid of the evidence they'd left. But then why take Boyd at all? Why not leave him there to burn?

Danny exhaled evenly several times as fire trucks screamed past him on the street. He forced himself to leave the bike and turn onto Fifth Avenue again.

Boyd was alive. He'd fought them hard, and they'd still taken him, and that only made sense if they wanted him alive.

It was 3:32 in the morning, and Danny didn't give a shit. He opened the gate to the big house at 524 Harkey Street and didn't even hesitate before ringing the bell. The house was dark, silent, but there was a truck and a motorcycle in the driveway. No one came to the door and Danny rang the bell again.

He looked over his shoulder, and he could see the clouds of smoke in the sky five blocks over. Judging by the intensity of the flames and the power of the explosion, by now Boyd's house would be nothing but a burning shell.

The knowledge made his stomach clench, and he didn't know why. It shouldn't matter to him. Boyd was alive. The house wasn't important. But the sinking feeling still didn't go away.

The sound of footsteps on the other side of the door filled Danny's ears, and he looked at the house. There was the creak of steps, a louder shuffle of footsteps, and Danny looked over his shoulder toward the smoke again. He wondered if anyone had seen him leave Magnolia Lane.

Locks clicked behind him after a brief pause, and the door jerked open.

"You have the wrong house, ma--"

Danny turned around to focus on the tall, blond in front of him and the words died in the man's throat. The clear blue eyes widened, mouth dropped open, and the guy actually leaned away from Danny in alarm. He looked exactly as he had in Boyd's sketches, and in those stupid dreams. Same face, same eyes, same tattoos.

"You know Boyd, right?"

Kassian stared at him, and shook his head but it didn't seem like he was answering the question. He raised a hand and pressed it against his eyes, before dropping it and gaping again.

Impatience ripped through Danny and he fought the urge to shake the guy. "Do. you. know. Boyd?"

"What-- I-- what the fuck is this?"

"What the fuck is what? I know it's late but something happened and I'm looking for someone he knows," Danny said in frustration. He looked over his shoulder again before turning to meet Kassian's eyes. The guy was still staring at him as if he was from Mars.

"You're not. No." Kassian shook his head, looking resolute in whatever he was thinking. "This is either a fever dream, or I'm drunk. Or you're a fucking clone or a twin, which is possible. Because this is fucking insane."

Danny's eyes narrowed at the rambling. "Get it fucking together, Trovosky. I don't have time for this shit."

Kassian's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "Vega? What the fuck?"

"What the hell are you--"

A strong hand gripped Danny's forearm and hauled him inside of the house. The door slammed behind him, the locks clicked into place, and Kassian rounded on him incredulously. The guy was acting strangely, and Danny had no idea how to handle it. One part of him wanted to beat the shit out of Kassian for being useless but the other part of him was trying to figure out how he was even going to explain.

"Sin, how are you alive? I don't--" Kassian stared at him, eyebrows drawing together. He broke off again, and reached out to rest a hand on Danny's shoulder. He did it hesitantly as if waiting for Danny to recoil, and when Danny just stared at him with a puzzled expression on his face, Kassian shook his head again.

"Lift your shirt up."

Danny did recoil this time, and he shoved Kassian's hand away. "What? No. What the hell are you talking about?"

Kassian grabbed his forearm again, jerking him closer. "If you want me to fucking deal with this freak show, you better do it."

Confused and aggravated, Danny jerked his shirt up so that Kassian could apparently inspect him. Hesitant fingers traced the scars on his abdomen and torso, and Danny dropped the hem when Kassian released a long, shaky exhale.

"Jesus fucking Christ, Vega, how are you alive? Does Boyd know? How are you-- where have you been?"

Danny's brows snapped together and he threw his hands up in frustration. "I have no idea what the hell you're talking about! I only came here because Boyd said you were a close friend and I found your address. I needed someone he trusts and--"

"Wait, what? You--" For what seemed like the hundredth time, Kassian broke off in the middle of a sentence. "You asked me if I knew Boyd. And you don't... Wow. Wow."

"What?" Danny practically shouted. The urge to punch Kassian was getting stronger. "Wow, what? You clearly know something I don't fucking know, and there's a lot of that going around lately, so please just fucking tell me WHAT. Who the hell is Vega, and why do you people know me?"

"I--" Kassian licked his lips, and ran his hands over his short hair. "You don't remember either of us." He stopped again and took a deep breath, clearly trying to gather his wits. "Who do you think-- what's your name?"


"Where do you live?"

Danny's hands twitched, but he answered anyway. "Annadale Beach."

"For how long?"

"What does this have to do with--"

"Just answer!" Kassian snapped, grabbing Danny again.

"Since last spring. Like... May 2023."

"Oh my fucking God."

The alarm that Kassian was clearly feeling was starting to seep into Danny, and the panic he already felt because of Boyd heightened. This time it was he who grabbed Kassian, and his fingers dug into the man's skin hard.

"Please just tell me what's going on," Danny said, not bothering to hide the desperation in his voice. "Boyd's in trouble, and I have no idea what the fuck is going on with anything."

The words snapped the man out of his daze, and Kassian's eyes narrowed. "What kind of trouble?"

"It's bad. Someone... abducted him and blew up his house."

Kassian froze, and his own hands rose to clamp down on Danny's forearms. "Are you--"

"Yes, I'm fucking serious! He's in trouble, damn you."

The blond man's lips parted but no sound came out at first. Then he narrowed his eyes, and nodded shortly. "Tell me everything. Don't leave out a detail."

The next half hour was spent retelling the story of what had happened since Danny had rode into Lexington three times. He and Kassian went back to Magnolia and stared at the smoking remains of Boyd's charred, hollowed out house, blending into the crowd of onlookers and emergency personnel still in the area, before returning to Harkey Street where Kassian questioned him all over again. They hadn't been able to get close enough to see if there was any evidence anywhere left on the property, and Kassian told him that Boyd had had a surveillance system but it streamed and uploaded to a computer that was now destroyed.

Neither of them calmed enough to sit down until Kassian came to the same conclusion that Danny had: whoever had taken Boyd had definitely wanted him alive.

It was 4:29AM, and they were sitting at the island in Kassian's kitchen as he poured them both a drink. Kassian mumbled something about 'fuck sobriety,' and they both drank in tense silence for several minutes.

"What do we do now?" Danny asked after the second tumbler of Jack Daniels burned down his throat. "How do we find him?"

"I have to contact the Agency," Kassian said. He frowned and looked at Danny. "They probably already know. They have to already know. I need to find out what the hell they're going to do about him, but there's a problem."



Danny stared at him, and frowned. "I'm missing a fuck ton of information, Kassian. I'm missing so much information that I don't even know what to make of all of this. I just know that I need to find Boyd."

Kassian nodded slowly, still staring. Then he poured himself another drink, and slid off the stool. "I'm going to make a call. And then... I'll explain everything."

When Kassian padded out of the room, it only then occurred to Danny that he was still wearing the backpack. He slid it off one shoulder as Kassian's footsteps disappeared upstairs. The faint sound of numbers on a cell phone dialing reached Danny's ears, but he was too weary to try to hear anything else.

He unzipped the backpack instead, and took the photo album out. There was a slight surge of disappointment that none of the pictures were of he and Boyd; a drastic difference from Danny's earlier reaction. He tucked it away carefully behind the gun, and took out the three photographs he had found in the drawer.

Danny stared at the image of he and Boyd. Nothing could be seen except for their faces and the tops of their shoulders, and judging from the flush of Boyd's skin it was easy to figure out that they were likely naked. The grip Boyd had on him in the picture was easy, possessive, and despite the glare on Danny's face his lips had turned up subtly into a half-smirk.

Danny looked at the picture until his brain unconsciously picked up on the end of a conversation and returning footsteps. Only then did he put the picture away, not ready to share it with anyone else just yet.

"So what's happening?" he asked tiredly.

"I couldn't get in touch with my first two choices," Kassian said wearily. He sat back on the stool and poured himself another drink. "But I spoke to the third."


"And... she'll be here in the next few hours. The Agency knows about Boyd and she won't be able to get away for awhile."

Danny nodded, and slumped forward on the counter. He braced his head against an open palm, and combed his fingers through his hair. Even if he didn't know what to do, maybe they would. Murphy Corps or the Agency or what the hell ever it was that Boyd was involved in.

"Why do you know me?"

"Before I answer you, I think it would be easier if you filled me in on what you do know."

"Sounds fair."

A half-laugh, half-scoff escaped Kassian's mouth as he tilted his drink back against his mouth. "You really must not remember me."

"Why do you say that?"

Kassian thumped the glass down to the counter and hiked his eyebrows up. "Because you would never say that to me if you did. We get along now, but we have an... interesting relationship."

Danny just shook his head, too drained to question that at the moment, and launched into the whole, confusing tale. He told Kassian about the girl's murder, Boyd's appearance in Annadale and the weird way he'd acted when they first met. He told him about Boyd becoming a regular, going out of his way to make a connection with Danny, and all of the suspicions and weirdness that had followed. He talked about Janus, the killings, and Boyd's vow that he would explain everything. He summed it up, leaving out the sex and their connection, and then watched Kassian expectantly.

The man looked paler after all of it was said and done, and his expression was grim. But he nodded anyway, and stared directly into Danny's eyes.

"Murphy Corps is a cover for the place where me and Boyd actually work. It's... there's no other way to explain it, really, except that it's an underground organization that carries out the kind of assignments that the government can't officially get involved with. It's a secret from almost everyone except the people involved, and Murphy Corps is a front for it."

Another lie.

"And you work there too."

Danny shook his head. "No."

Kassian leaned forward, and once again put a hand on Danny's arm. "Yes. You do. Or you did. But you got on the bad side of the people in charge and we were told that they had terminated you. Me and everyone else thought you were dead for the past year and a half. Boyd less than that, obviously."

"That doesn't make any sense. Then what about..." Danny trailed off, staring at Kassian. "Are you drunk, or what? Because that seriously doesn't make any sense."

"Believe me, Vega. It takes a long time for me to get drunk. And that's another thing." Kassian knocked back another drink. "You're name isn't Danny, it's Hsin Vega. Everyone calls you Sin because they can't pronounce your name."

Danny opened his mouth to deny this yet again, because he was getting frustrated and annoyed, but Kassian just kept going on. "Listen, I know this sounds crazy but how is it any less fucking crazy than everything else you just told me? You were supposed to be terminated but they did something else to you instead. Wiped your memory, replaced your memories, shit dude, I have no idea. But you are Hsin Vega, and you and I have hated each other since you were just a punk ass eighteen year old, and you've been in this... dramatic, and fucking intense relationship with Boyd off and on for the past four or five years."

"That's insane."

Shaking his head, Danny stood up and began to pace the kitchen. He clenched and unclenched his hands, trying to remember the month before he moved to Annadale. It was after one of his weird prolonged blackouts, the fugue episodes his doctor had told him about-- temporary dissociation and amnesia. It was why he didn't remember so many things from his past, since the war.

It was what they had said. His doctor.

The first thing Danny remembered after one of the "episodes" was feeling drained and confused and coming out of it in a dingy apartment building in DC. It had taken a couple of weeks to snap out of it, and the first person who'd contacted him had been his doctor.

Dr. Stein.

It was Dr. Stein who had encouraged him to move somewhere more peaceful, somewhere that wouldn't stress him enough to go into the dissociative states so frequently. Somewhere he could actually form relationships, and finally have a life.

And somehow Danny had been able to do so in Annadale. Somehow, he'd never had an episode again despite the fact that his memory was littered with missing spots and confusing muddled images. He remembered violence, lots of doctors, being locked away, and pain. Fragments here and there, all scattered and having to be pieced together like a puzzle with missing parts.

As Danny digested what Kassian was telling him, and as he stared into that sympathetic face, he realized that the dreams and nightmares and flashes were those missing parts.

"Why would they do that?" he asked woodenly. His gaze fell away and he stared at the floor.

"I don't know, man. You're like..." Kassian trailed off, frowning. "You're like this incredibly fucking strong, incredibly resilient science project for them. You can handle so much mentally and physically that they fucking just won't let you go."

"And that's why I'm Modified."

Kassian gestured vaguely, seeming at a loss.

Danny wiped a hand across his face. "I want proof. Show me something. Anything. You're telling me all of this stuff but it's... It's fucking fried."

"I don't have any proof," Kassian said. He stood as well, hovering near Danny and watching him intently. The way the taller man was pacing seemed to be putting Kassian on edge. "Hey man, I hate to be this way but before you left you were on a bunch of medication. Are you still on it? I don't think mental problems disappear like that, and right now I can't deal with you having a meltdown and beating the shit out of me."

Taken aback, Danny stopped pacing and gave Kassian a surprised look. "Why would I do that?"

"Because you're... Because the Vega I know likes breaking faces when he gets mad," Kassian corrected himself. "You're oddly nice, and it's alarming. But answer the question anyway."

"What was I on medication for?"

Kassian shrugged, and took a moment to reply. "I'm not sure. I know one thing was psychotic depression, but you also were diagnosed with a dissociative disorder that I don't remember."

It was getting to be too much, and Danny turned away from the intrusive stare. Dr. Stein had mentioned psychotic depression, and had attributed the nightmares and insomnia to it before upping his anxiety dosage.

"Let's just focus on Boyd," he said finally, voice grating out low.

"Soon," Kassian said. "And... And one thing I know is that he's a survivor. He's strong. He'll make it through whatever this is."

There was barely any hesitation before Danny said softly, "I know. I don't know how, but I know."

The sky was starting to lighten when Kassian showed Danny to a guest room and told him to try to lay down for the hour or two they had before things got more intense. To Kassian's credit, he didn't seem capable of going back to sleep. He looked as strung out as Danny felt about Boyd, and long after the door to the bedroom shut, Danny could hear the other man pacing the house.

He was worried about Boyd. The thought was comforting.

But Danny couldn't sleep. Sleep would bring nightmares about Boyd being dead or tortured, and his mind kept churning and made it impossible to even try. He took out the pictures, and the sketchbooks again and tried to work out memories from the flashes he'd seen over the past few weeks.

Somehow he knew the picture of him on the bench was from a cabin in the forest somewhere. The sketches were harder, but there were clues that sparked something here and there. Recurring themes that popped into his mind were Mexico, Boyd's house, and missions.


He put the pictures and sketches away and took out the laptop. It was lightweight and relatively small, and blinked on nearly instantly. It asked for a password and Danny's fingers moved over the keyboard before he even stopped to puzzle it out. @04vEr19m0nt.

At this point, he wasn't even surprised.

What he found on the laptop changed that. Amongst the random files, he found a folder that simply said "Hsin." Danny stared at it for a long moment before finally clicking. It contained background information about Hsin Liu Vega. Videos, pictures, evaluations. Sexual abuse, torture, violent episodes, and so much fucking death.

Danny spent the next two hours learning why killing three men had felt normal.

By the time the woman arrived, Danny's head felt like it was going to explode. But somehow after reading about himself, about... his life, if it could be called that, all he felt was numb.

Killer, animal, and, according to Kassian, science project. That's what he was. That's what he'd been.

He wished the fucking laptop had burned in the house.

When Danny went downstairs he found Kassian standing in his kitchen with a woman who looked like she belonged in a fashion magazine. She was blond and beautiful, but her expression was frozen. She looked over when he walked into the room and she suddenly went very still. Danny saw a brief flicker of her eyes widening subtly before they narrowed, and the aborted flexing of her fingers.

She stared at him, and he stared at her.

"Hello," he said finally, dully.

Kassian just looked awkward, and stood next to the counter uncertainly.

The woman didn't speak but he saw her lips pinch. Her stare was like a force all on its own; utterly unreadable and burning into him like she could see through him.

She strode up to him and without saying a word she gripped the collar of his shirt and pulled down. Danny didn't react; apparently the scars that marred him were some kind of proof of his identity and he didn't care enough anymore to be offended by it. Her eyes narrowed further at what she saw at his throat before her hands shifted to the hem of his shirt and lifted up. Her knuckles briefly went white on the shirt before she dropped it and rounded on Kassian with blue eyes even colder than before.

"What is this?" she demanded.

"That's what I started to tell you," Kassian said with a slight frown. He shot Danny a look that was almost apologetic. "It turns out that Seong never had him killed. They wiped his memory and shipped him off to Annadale for some new experiment but... he and Boyd somehow found each other anyway. He still doesn't remember anything."

She turned to Danny once again, narrowed eyes turning slightly challenging. "If you are or were Hsin Liu Vega, then answer me this: what do you think of Boyd?"

Danny shrugged, and met her stare evenly. He paused only briefly before saying: "He's the most frustrating person I've ever met, but for some reason I can't get him out of my head and I don't want to."

She didn't look away for a long moment and although he couldn't read anything in her expression, he did notice a slight thinning of her lips, and the force of her stare relented subtly.

She turned her gaze on Kassian again. "The Marshal will not authorize a search."

"What?" Kassian straightened, hands pressing down against the counter. "How can that be? He's one of a fucking handful of level 10 agents we have."

"Yes, however she had planned to terminate him the moment she took office. It was only due to his successes in the Forakis mission and that he has been above reproach on all missions since that he was given a chance."

Her lips curled down in clear contempt. "She was clear on the point that she had informed him that should he ever cause her a moment of trouble, she would terminate him. She considers expending any energy on retrieving him to fall within this category. In addition, because she feels I am biased she ignored any arguments I made in his favor and stated in no uncertain terms that henceforth I should consider my son dead."

Kassian stared at her in dumbfounded silence but Danny took a step forward, and looked from Kassian to the woman. "Well to hell with this Marshal. Can't we look for him ourselves?"

She glanced over at Danny in assessment, then shifted her eyes to look him up and down. "Are you as mentally stable as you appear to be or would you be a detriment on such a mission?"

"Considering I took out three Janus people a couple of weeks ago, and I'm modified in multiple ways, I think I can handle myself," Danny replied. He focused on her briefly before looking at Kassian as he swallowed some of the irritation that rushed forward. Apparently condescending bullshit ran in Boyd's family, although this woman was a lot more direct about it.

She waved a hand dismissively. "Your physical prowess has never been a question, it is your emotional. In the past, you have acted psychotically when emotionally unbalanced, and my son's presence has helped immensely at times and at other times has proven to be catastrophic. As I have no knowledge of your current status, I am inquiring whether you feel any vestigial emotions you may have for him might be a danger to yourself or others during the course of searching for him. Particularly if you do find him and all that is left is a mutilated body."

"Lady, I don't even know what you just said."

Kassian cleared his throat, and walked over to move closer to Danny. "He's fine, Vivienne. He was clear-headed and resourceful enough to escape the bomb and track down a contact person after seeing the scene of the attack, and apparently... it was pretty bad. Sin-- Danny, whatever, has been calmer than me almost this entire time."

Vivienne's eyebrow ticked up faintly at that. She eyed Danny again and then nodded curtly. "Very well." She addressed Kassian again. "It was my plan to suggest a covert search for him. Hsin Vega would be an asset on such a mission. I will also inform Zachary and Emilio Vega. Discuss with Emilio whether he wishes to join."

Danny's straightened at the name Emilio Vega, and his eyebrows drew together.

"I'll... explain later," Kassian told him quickly before nodding at Vivienne. There was a brief pause before he rolled his shoulders, and exhaled slowly. "Inspector, there's something else. Something you need to know."

She had been about ready to leave but paused at his words. "Yes?"

Kassian's hands balled into fists. He looked uncertain about what he was about to say, but eventually went on anyway. "It's possible that it wasn't just Janus that was after Boyd. He found out something today, and I doubt that he compromised the information but you should know-- He found out something about your husband. Something to do with the Journalist Guild, and the Agency. And it may have made him a target."

Vivienne stared at him. "Your statement is incomprehensible. What does Cedrick have to do with the Guild? And what relation does this have to Boyd being targeted?"

"Cedrick was in the Journalist Guild, and he found out something about the Agency." Kassian paused, and glanced at Danny's baffled face before focusing on Vivienne again. "The Agency had him killed for whatever it was. Boyd just found out about this today."

For the second time that night, Vivienne went completely still. What little expression had been on her face closed off completely. There was a long, tense silence before she stated icily, "No. This is not true. He was mistaken."

"No, he wasn't," Kassian said sharply. "He did something crazy and got hold of the data. Ryan spent weeks decoding it because it was so heavily encrypted. I made Boyd promise he wouldn't do something crazier to find out whatever had gotten his father targeted, but right after he left... all of this happened. I don't know if it's related, but it could be."

Her face was like stone as she straightened to her full height. "If you have such data then I require to see it as well," she replied equally sharply, a forcefulness in her tone that hadn't been there previously. "I searched--"

She stopped, looked at Danny and then Kassian, and turned her back abruptly on the both of them. When she spoke again, it was as coldly aloof as she had spoken before. "I will consider involvement from all angles, including the Guild and the Agency. Speak of this theory to no one else and provide me the proof you claim exists. If Zachary or Emilio do not contact you, I will. That will be all."

She strode out of Kassian's house without waiting for a response. The door shut firmly behind her.

Danny looked at Kassian blankly, and couldn't even work up enough energy to care about any of these damn people to ask what that had all been about. Despite that, the blond man tiredly reassured him that he'd explain everything later.

But if it couldn't lead him to Boyd, Danny didn't even care.

Continue to Fade Chapter 28...