In the Company of Shadows

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

The story contains..

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


Book One: Evenfall See Evenfall chapter list.

Book Two: Afterimage
See Afterimage chapter list.

Interludes list

Book Three: Fade
See Fade chapter list.


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Fade Chapter 35

Uploaded on 10/27/2012

When Boyd opened his eyes, he had no idea where he was.

A ceiling spanned above him; a bed beneath him. No webbing snapped his limbs back into place.

He must not be awake, then.


His eyes narrowed and swept the room. Why start a scenario in a bedroom?

There was no droning words pouring mercilessly into his ears, no flashes of propaganda overtaking his vision-- bombs and buildings falling and the screams of the dying. He didn't see any ferals with their bright, animal-like eyes glowing with insanity in the distance; moving like rats scurrying in a sewer.

Why start a scenario in a bedroom?

He tried to think back but memories and images assaulted his mind; confusing and tripping over one another like overzealous children. Making no sense.

He remembered white coats with a maroon smear, and noises and lights. The ripping heat and sound of an explosion or maybe it was gunfire or maybe it was just his pounding heart.

Dead silence and darkness and the smell of burnt wood, plastic... Ashes smeared across fingertips. Frost. Black sky opening above-- so empty and cold.

The world chaotic and jumping around him-- pain that couldn't be placed-- no, that wasn't right, it was his wrist and there was blood rolling down, coating his fingers and he'd needed a gun-- he needed a goddamn gun because something important was right there in front of him and he needed to protect it.

No. Not something.


Like a radio sharply coming into focus, the white static coalesced into a single image.


Sin in a white room. Sin in a hallway. Sin outside. Sin in a small space. Sin in a large one, like--

Like a hotel.

Boyd's eyes widened and his head snapped to the side.


He remembered the feeling of hot water being painful and relieving, with gentle fingers untangling hair that swung down into his vision like cords of pale blond. Dripping water in a funnel down, down, toward feet surrounded by filthy water.

A warm weight drawing down the bed.

He thought he remembered, but the bed was empty and he felt an inexplicable sense of panic at that. What parts were real? What parts were a dream?

Was this just the program?

He didn't know, but it seemed likely. None of this could be real. It never was. All he knew was something in him screamed urgently to get out before they caught him. Before they found him.

Whoever they were. Whatever they wanted.

He didn't realize he was halfway down the stairs until his knees buckled when he tried to leap three steps at a time. He snapped his hand out to the railing and caught himself before he fell forward. In the seconds following that, he finally heard something over the rush of blood in his ears and the pounding of his heart.

Sin's voice. Quiet, rising and falling with one-sided conversation, but still there.

Sin was there.

The relief Boyd felt might have been overwhelming if it weren't for the paranoia.

He pulled himself up and moved more carefully down the remaining stairs; hating that he had to be so careful. Hating that his body was so weak and he could no longer trust his own mind.

He followed the sound of Sin's voice into the open kitchen. The kitchen had sleek countertops, and top-of-the-line appliances. Sin was turned away, wearing only black boxer briefs. The strong lines of his body seemed even more prominent in the warm light.

"What time?" Sin was saying into his phone, but Boyd barely heard it.

At the sight of his partner, his breath stilled in his lungs. The world both stopped moving and gained color again.

For the second time that morning he was moving before he realized it. Even knowing this might not be real, he couldn't help it.

He didn't care who Sin was talking to, didn't care if he interrupted anything-- he moved as fast as his shaking knees allowed him and slammed into Sin with a hug. Their bodies crashed together and it should have been painful but it wasn't, it wasn't, not with that solid weight holding him up.

Sin inhaled sharply, and one of his arms tightened around Boyd automatically. He said something terse into the phone and it dropped to the counter with a clatter. His other arm rose, and he cupped the back of Boyd's head, fingers tangling in his hair. He leaned down slightly, kissing the top of Boyd's head.

"I missed you."

At those three words spoken in Sin's voice, Boyd felt his eyes burn. A shuddering breath escaped him.

His entire life was consumed by the simple touches of Sin's fingers and lips.


His voice quaked. This felt like Sin; somehow, inexplicably, even though before he had been Danny. Recently, not long ago-- how long ago? But now it felt like Sin, holding him like Sin remembered him.

But even as that certainty pulled his arms taut against Sin's body, he questioned it.

He couldn't bring himself to pull back yet, just in case this all disappeared. Just in case Janus had upgraded their program so well that now it felt this real, this important. Because Sin being here instead of Danny made no sense, none of this made sense.

And he shouldn't have said his name, he shouldn't have said 'Hsin,' because Janus could hear his words.

Boyd squeezed his eyes shut and buried his face in Sin's chest.

"I don't understand. Is this real? Am I dreaming?" He didn't hear the turbulence in his own voice. "Tell me what's happening. Please. Please. I can't fucking take it if this is a lie and I open my eyes and you aren't even here..."

"I'm here, I promise you, this is real." Sin tilted Boyd's face up, and their lips came together briefly. Their mouths parted but then Sin leaned in again, tasting Boyd with a hint of dampness from his tongue. "We're never separating again. Fucking never."

Boyd's breathing sped. He knew by the way Sin tasted, the way he felt, the way he looked down at him that this was real. They couldn't fake this. Not the feel of hot, smooth skin beneath his palms, the heat that spiralled up when Sin looked at him. They wouldn't know how those smoldering eyes narrowed, how long lashes nearly obscured the bright green, making it impossible for Boyd to look anywhere else.

They wouldn't know that Boyd's breath caught when that intense look was focused on him and only him.

It had been this way since the beginning. It was something only they knew, something only Boyd had experienced, something Janus wouldn't be able to bring forth with their careful scenarios and maneuvering. They wouldn't know how to elicit this response from him; how to fake something that would create a reunion this meaningful.

This was real and he'd been wanting it for two years.

During the year of hell in Europe, it was imagining this that had helped him keep going. It was imagining this that had let him get through detox and rehab. It was imagining this that had made it so hard to keep going when he'd been certain Sin was dead, and later, when he'd been certain that Sin would never remember him.

Always imagining this.

"I don't..."

The words caught in his throat and he felt too overwhelmed to speak for one stretched moment. Instead, he kissed Sin with all the meaning of the words he couldn't seem to say and all the months he'd spent wishing for them to be back together.

A hoarse, raw sound escaped Sin, and then his tongue was sliding into Boyd's mouth as his grip tightened. He kissed Boyd as though he was trying to memorize the taste and feel of him. Parting only for breath, their lips moved against each other with an intensity that caused Sin's breathing to become ragged.

Sense of time fled as everything became focused on the warm press of lips against lips; of heated breath caught between them and fingers sometimes desperately, sometimes reverently, sliding along bare skin and clothes and tangling in hair.

Boyd didn't know how long they held each other, but at some point one of them broke the kiss. There was a sharp inhale, a few presses of lips against cheek, jaw line, edge of the mouth-- until Boyd breathed heavily and pressed his forehead against the junction of Sin's shoulder and throat.

"I love you, Hsin," he said hoarsely. "I missed you so much."

"I love you, too." Sin's voice was still thick and husky. "I came back for you. Because I wanted to find you, because I wanted to remember you."

Boyd let out a shuddering breath and hugged Sin harder. For so long he hadn't known what to expect, hadn't known what was better or worse, whether his actions with the best of intentions were right or wrong.

Tension he hadn't even realized he'd still been holding inside dissipated.

Sin had chosen him over everything else. Over Annadale, over normalcy, over freedom. Over everything he might have ever wanted, and he'd come back to Boyd.

"I thought of you every day," Boyd heard himself saying. "I never wanted to let you go. Even when I thought you were dead, I didn't want to let you go."

A low exhale escaped Sin, and he shook his head slightly. "Never again, Boyd. I won't do this anymore. These fucking long missions, being away from each other-- it's over. I don't care what they say."

Boyd ended the embrace with a brush of his lips against Sin's shoulder. One hand remained at Sin's back while the other lifted up, tracing Sin's cheek, his temple, and sifted into the silky hair that somewhere along the line had become short again.

He couldn't seem to stop touching Sin. The idea of breaking contact with him was unbearable.

"I had a plan. Before they found me. I was going back that night to tell you I was working on a way to get you away for good."

"What plan?"

"Your brother. We could use him to get away before--"

His lips tipped downward and he automatically glanced out the large floor-to-ceiling windows. The view was breathtaking but what he noticed now was that the distant trees he saw as little blips had lost their leaves. Now the horizon was filled with bare branches twisting and clawing toward a gunmetal sky.

"I don't know how long it's been." His eyebrows furrowed and for the first time he tried to piece together what had actually happened. What might be real, and what had since been fabricated and re-fabricated so many times that his mind had adopted it as truth.

"How long?"

"Maybe six weeks," Sin said. His eyebrows had drawn together, and he frowned slightly. "What were you talking about?"

Boyd looked distractedly away from the window, filing away that information to consider another time.

"I was looking into your brother." Boyd's hands skimmed along Sin's shoulders and down to rest on his upper arms. The heat and solidity of Sin was both addicting and a constant reassurance to himself that this was real. This was really happening.

"I thought maybe we could convince him to help you disappear. Us, now. Just long enough to go off grid and we can handle the rest. It might work. No one would expect it."

Sin studied Boyd, and his gaze didn't flicker even when his phone vibrated against the counter. "Is that what you want?"

Boyd nodded without breaking eye contact with Sin. "I can't stand this place anymore. I just want to be with you and get away, Hsin. I don't want them to fucking--"

His hands tightening without regard on Sin's arms, and he stopped himself. He drew in a breath that he let out slowly, and eased his fingers back to a gentle rest the same as he eased back on his tone.

"I don't want them to have that control anymore. I don't-- I don't want anyone to have that kind of power over me ever again."

Nodding, Sin didn't take his eyes off Boyd, even when his phone vibrated again. "I've been thinking the same. I know others have been too."

The way Sin said it made Boyd draw his eyebrows together. "Is there another plan?"

"There's a plan but it's an emergency plan. In case something happens or in case someone close is in danger of termination." Sin frowned slightly, and looked at his phone, causing Boyd to glance down too. Carhart's name was flashing on the touch screen.

"I don't want to wait for anyone. I don't want to give time for something to go wrong again." Boyd stepped back, letting his hands slide away from Sin reluctantly. "Should you get that?"

"Probably." Sin didn't make any move to pick up the phone. "I have to take you back soon. To the medwing. Otherwise they'll just come get you."

Boyd's jaw clenched and his eyes skimmed away. They landed on the top-of-the-line refrigerator that hummed quietly across the kitchen. This entire situation still felt surreal.

He didn't want to go back to the Agency. He never wanted to go back again. But at the moment, he knew they had no other choice.


"You'll be in the medwing for a while, and they'll debrief you but... you should have downtime for a few weeks." Sin looked around briefly. "I got this place for you a few weeks ago. It was before I knew where you were but when you came back... I didn't want you living at the compound."

"This is mine?" Boyd asked in surprise.

Sin nodded, and followed Boyd's gaze as it swept over the space. "Yes. I have all of this money that I'm never going to use so... It made sense to me."

"I thought..."

When Boyd looked around the condo, he saw all of the things that he had once listed to Sin about a hypothetical future home-- one that Sin had so easily made into reality.

With that knowledge he realized that the strange dream of the wreckage of his house must also be true. He dropped heavily onto one of the bar stools, for a moment struck silent. Sin's actions were juxtaposed against the memory of his childhood home in mere ashes and timber around him. He was even more grateful for the sleek lines of the condo and the warm light bleeding through the huge windows, knowing the alternative.

"Thank you." He struggled for words and was at a loss, only able to say: "I can't believe you remembered. It's perfect. All of it."

"We were supposed to try to get a place together." Sin shrugged, and ran a hand through his hair. "Of course I remembered. I don't know if I'll be able to stay here, though. It has to be cleared with Seong."

"Well..." Boyd reached out, his fingers catching on Sin's arms near his elbows and sliding down to curl around his hands. He tugged Sin closer and stretched up from his seat to kiss him. "Even if she doesn't okay it, I hope you spend as much time here as you can."

Sin's mouth twitched into a half smile. "I do, too. But if it's up to the Agency, they'll try to keep us apart."

"Yeah, well. Fuck the Agency."

The phone emitted a short beep. Sin sighed, irritation flashing across his face, but he picked up the phone.

"We should probably go. I don't want them coming here."

A bolt of panic went through Boyd, and his hand spasmed on Sin's wrist.

"I know. But I don't know when we'll see each other next and there's something..." He faltered. "There were some things that happened... It's not... I just don't want to lie to you. I don't want any secrets. Any misunderstandings."

At that, Sin's eyes narrowed slightly before his expression evened out. "I know about the Forakis mission. And I know about my father. It hasn't changed anything between us."

Eyes widening slightly, Boyd barely felt his fingers grip Sin's wrist. "Then... I just want to say something and after that I'll never bring any of it up again if you want."

"Okay..." Sin's voice came out slightly wary, but he didn't pull away.

"First, with Emilio..." Boyd's expression twisted but he didn't look away. "I swear to God, Hsin, I thought he was you. I missed you so much, and we were both so upset and drunk. I blacked out, I don't even remember a lot. But the one thing I know is if I'd realized who he was, it never would have happened."

"He told me."

Sin's voice was neutral, but the curt words were a giveaway. He couldn't hide it from Boyd. Even if he said it was okay, this had hurt him. This thing that shouldn't have happened. Boyd stared at him silently, not knowing what to say anymore, but he pushed on anyway.

"Okay, then--" Boyd started to stand, catching Sin's other arm. "Just one more thing."

It felt like he was running out of time, like somehow if he didn't finish this now it would never come up again. He didn't wait for Sin to respond before he continued.

"I don't know what you know about the mission but whatever you heard, or read, or-- or anything, please believe me." His hands tightened on Sin. "They kept me drugged. I didn't have control, I didn't even know who I was for months. And during that time, they--"

He stopped, eyes narrowing, before continuing fervently. "Anything that happened-- it was the drugs, Hsin, it wasn't me. When I realized what was happening, I hated the Agency, I hated Vivienne... The only thing-- the only thing-- that helped me get through it all was you. Thinking of you. Wanting to go home to you. I even-- I started a tattoo there."

He lifted his left arm, tilting it so Sin could see the tree inked into his pale skin. "It was only a partial outline at the time but it was enough. It was to remind myself of you without breaking my cover. So no matter what happened, I could remember who I was. I could remember you. And for that one second everything could be okay."

Sin pulled away and twisted Boyd's arm so that he could see the tattoo. His eyes moved over the sprawling branches, and the rich green of the leaves. After a moment, Sin pressed the pad of his finger against it.

"I saw it last night but I didn't look closely. But... It reminds me of Vermont."

A shaky breath escaped Boyd at the words and he nodded. A smile barely pushed at the corners of his mouth.

"The cabin is my happiest memory. It was just you and me, away from the world. If I could remember that, I felt safer. And I could remember everything else through you."

Sin's finger traced over the lines gently. He opened his mouth, closed it, and finally looked up at Boyd again.

"When I was trying to remember things, Vermont kept coming back. It was--" The phone began to vibrate again, and Sin's eyes snapped over to it with a dark glare. "Fuck."

Boyd stared at the phone, and tried to ignore the shudder that went through him.

They had just reunited, and they were going to have to split up again. Even if it was just the medwing and not Janus, it still felt like too much. Especially now. With this conversation in the air and no time to make things right. Even if Sin insisted that things were okay. That nothing had changed.

Despite that, Boyd couldn't shake the urgency to make sure. To make sure Sin knew before everything crashed again and they were ripped apart.

"Just, please... before anything else happens, please tell me you believe me."

Sin started to step back but then he paused. He looked down at Boyd for a moment, and then pressed a brief kiss against his lips. "I don't hold anything against you, Boyd. I never have."

A low breath escaped Boyd. He let his forehead drop against Sin's chest and nodded faintly. He felt even more tension release that he hadn't realized he'd been holding in.

"Thank you," he said quietly.

Sin kissed him again before reluctantly pulling away. "Let's go."

It was cool when they left the building, and a strong breeze caused a shudder to go through Boyd. He didn't remember much about the night before, about being rescued or being back at the Agency, but he was only clad in shorts and a t-shirt. Their only transportation was, inexplicably to Boyd, Kassian's motorcycle. By the time they made it to the Agency, Boyd was shivering against Sin's warm back.

The debriefing with Carhart happened immediately. It still felt surreal but he suspended any disbelief and moved forward trusting his instincts.

Boyd told Carhart about how he'd nearly escaped Janus three times-- at his home, in the vehicle, and most notably at whatever facility where they'd taken him. He'd let them believe the torture interrogation was working and, when the man who fed him let his guard down just enough, he'd taken him out and stolen his clothing. But his body had been in rough shape and he'd had no idea where he was. He'd made it all the way to a door with the glow of sunlight beneath it when they'd caught and disabled him.

It had started with a drug that had blurred the lines of reality and hallucinations, to make it harder for him to know what was real.

They'd subjected him to virtual reality scenarios, using an advanced program that let them control blank sims that were populated with identities of people from his own memories. As far as he could tell, although they'd been able to control the actions of the sims and sometimes the words, most of the conversations were hallucinations of his own mind.

It was why he hadn't known at first what was happening.

The part he didn't tell Carhart was about the attempts at brainwashing.

He'd been constantly tested-- forced to escape, to fight, to solve his way out of situations, and more recently, to betray or even attack people he knew. Friends.

He'd thought it was real but none of it had been, and those scenarios had been alternated with anti-government Janus propaganda that had filled his every waking moment. And when that wasn't happening, Dana was grilling him. Asking him questions, demanding answers. Trying to catch him at a weak point between sleep- and food-deprivation and the blurring of reality.

Based on their interrogations and scenarios, he'd come to the conclusion that ultimately they'd planned for him to betray the Agency-- to destroy it from the inside out. To assassinate the upper management. Maybe even attack and kill his own friends.

Dana had wanted to destroy him. Janus had wanted to turn the Agency's own training against them. And Boyd was just the first attempt at this new initiative.

He still didn't know if the reason for Dana hating him so much was real or another blurred fiction from that time. But there was a little girl who sometimes came in holding Dana's hand, and he remembered Dana's voice; saying Rick had died at Hale's mansion and she'd lost a child. A twin. Because of Boyd, she'd said. Because of him.

Janus hadn't gotten far enough to turn him but it had been far enough for him to be constantly on guard every second he spent on compound.

Sudden movements made him nearly lash out. Seeing people he had attacked or tried to escape in the VR world created an automatic reaction that he constantly had to shut down. Sometimes Boyd dreamt of the scenarios, of killing agents, generals, his mother, and he'd wake up with fingers clenching the sheets and a sense of dread overtaking him. There were other times he woke up, ready to run before he realized what he was doing.

He tried to keep his eyes closed as much as possible in the medwing because if he opened them and saw the maroon logo of Johnson's Pharmaceuticals it put him on razor's edge.

Perhaps subconsciously he knew if he stayed on compound too long he would make a mistake-- somehow make it obvious that Janus had tried to turn him into a double agent. Or perhaps it was the programming that made him want to escape the suffocating scrutiny of the Agency, the compound, their abuse and the lies.

With that came fear that he couldn't trust himself. That he might betray himself. That they might find out and kill him or tie him down to the bed to keep him from fleeing.

Sin made it better.

He was in the medwing whenever possible between training, meetings, and missions. Just seeing his form leaning back in a chair or hearing the even rise and fall of his breath was enough to make the anxiety ease out of Boyd.

There was one day in particular it seemed Sin made a point to be there. Boyd hadn't understood why until he'd seen a calendar.

November 20, 2024. His birthday.

He turned twenty-five, stuck in the medwing with nurses and doctors creating a low wash of sound in the hallway, and Sin sitting by his side. He laid there and held Sin's hand, not even feeling like talking.

All that mattered was that warmth against his palm.

When Kassian and Ryan came by, Boyd was relieved to find that no one seemed to be holding it against him that he'd been so secretive. Between them and Sin, he finally got up to speed on what had happened-- Danny, Dana, Edie, and Jon.

He couldn't even feel anything knowing it was Jon, other than a dull ache. He'd liked Jon. But Jon had betrayed him. And now he was dead.

After Kassian and Ryan left, Boyd and Sin ended up in a conversation that led to Sin asking why his name was branded on Boyd's lower back. So Boyd told him-- about how he'd been branded as Aleixo's property, how even after he'd accepted Sin's death he hadn't wanted to belong to anyone else. How he'd had Sin's name branded over it.

Sin watched him throughout the explanation and, when Boyd was finished, he pulled Boyd in for a kiss. Even with the door wide open and staff constantly passing by, neither of them cared whether they were seen. When their lips parted, Boyd closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against Sin's, his attention caught by the simple touch of Sin's fingers at the nape of his neck and the warm wash of his breath against his lips.

That was the first night he truly wished they were alone so he could do more than kiss his partner.

Vivienne only stopped by once.

It was late at night in the beginning of the second week, at a time when he was alone. He was lying in bed, eyes closed and muscles tensed-- fingers subtly clenching and unclenching as the tension that always consumed him in the night took over.

Hyperaware, his eyes had snapped open and he found her standing in the doorway.

Her fingers were caught against the doorjamb and she hadn't stepped inside, like there was a barrier she couldn't cross without permission. When she saw that he saw her, her eyes widened just so before falling back to normal, but her lips remained ever so slightly parted.

All she did was stare at him while he stared at her.

They might have stayed that way indefinitely if a nurse hadn't appeared behind Vivienne, asking to be let by. Vivienne started at the woman's voice and glanced between her and Boyd.

The nurse went to attend to the IV, the hated the device that Boyd had fought against initially, and that still drew his attention whenever anyone changed the bag. His eyes stayed on the nurse sharply, making sure she wasn't doing anything suspicious.

He no longer trusted anyone with drugs anywhere near him. Whether pushing the drugs on him through force or manipulation, it didn't matter-- they all had an agenda and wanted to use him for their own goals. Every single one of them. His hawk-like stare was on the nurse's every movement until she finally left, more quickly than she'd arrived.

By the time Boyd looked at the doorway again, Vivienne had already vanished.

During his time in the medwing, Boyd was subjected to countless tests, psych evaluations, and physical therapy to start to regain some of his muscles. The day he received clearance from the medwing to leave, he received strict orders by the Marshal that he was on mandatory downtime.

He was not allowed on missions and, until Dr. Shapiro cleared him, he wasn't even allowed in on the Janus-related meetings. But he was expected to be ready for those intel meetings soon. He was expected to receive Shapiro's approval as soon as possible.

He didn't know what her reason was for keeping him alive but whatever it was, he was determined not to give her reason to reconsider.

It was the day before Thanksgiving when he was finally able to step out into the world. He felt like a free man for the first time in a long time, as absurd as that was considering he was still shackled by the Agency. He had only a few personal items that he'd thought to remove from his home before the abduction but he didn't dare touch them in case the Agency was watching.

Or anyone else.

Why it mattered if they saw him he couldn't say, but he knew it did. Part of him could only see the world in terms of lists and databases that kept track of his every move, so someone somewhere down the line could use the information against him.

He rented a car and went shopping for clothing and, because he wanted one tiny bit of normalcy from the life he'd all but lost, bought art supplies to replace the ones that were destroyed. Sin had told him he'd ordered food to be delivered to the condo but there were still some specifics he decided to buy in addition.

It seemed like it took forever but he finally made it back home laden with bags that he rolled upstairs on a cart.


Such a different place than it had been before.

Walking into the condo felt strange. He'd never actually had anything of his own before. The house had been his parents' and he'd always felt like he was just occupying it until Vivienne came back to reclaim it.

After he put everything away, he had the first chance to truly explore. There was an upstairs loft area that was perfect for drawing. A space where exercise machines were set up-- which would be helpful for his physical therapy. A balcony gave him an unfettered view of the wooded area eventually shared, to the west, by the Agency, as well as Silver Lake for which the neighborhood was named.

The wind was cool and picked at his clothing but, now that he was off compound, he felt at peace.

All the stress and worry that had been plaguing him for so long hadn't found hold in him again.

Not the way it had before.

Not since he'd seen Sin in his kitchen. Not since he'd known that Sin still loved him.

He went back inside, unwrapped his art supplies from Grover Books along with a blanket, and returned to the balcony. He sat down against the railing, bundled up in the blanket, and sketched the trees, the lake, the building, the sky, a bird that landed nearby... From there he moved to people-- Kassian, Ryan, Carhart, Emilio, even Vivienne caught as she had been in the doorway of the medwing.

And Sin. Memories of Sin.

He got lost in drawing and didn't realize how much time had passed until he suddenly noticed it was dark out, he could hardly see, and his fingers were freezing. Even empty, with little in the way of furniture, and with the cold of late November air blowing against the huge windows, the condo felt warm when he went back inside. Welcoming.

It made him think of Sin every time so every time he felt safe. Protected.

He made tea, put away the few things he'd become too distracted to put away earlier, took a hot shower to warm up, and wandered around the condo for another hour before he finally laid down to sleep.

He had a dream about Sin. He gravitated toward the warmth of him, as always.

When he woke the next morning it was a gentle slide into consciousness. The pillows were soft; the bed luxurious. There was a weight next to him and a quiet rustle of fabric.

Fingertips trailed down his cheek, his arm, while a warm mouth coaxed him out of slumber. He kissed back sleepily at first, parting his lips and automatically leaning toward the familiar heat. He felt the hand shift, sliding down along his chest and stomach.

He inhaled sharply and blinked his eyes open.

A swath of pale morning light spread across the ceiling and faded into shadows.

Hovering over him was Sin, drawn back just enough for their faces to be in focus. A half-smile curved his lips while one hand ran along Boyd's hair at his temple. Their upper bodies pressed together; a comforting weight depressing Boyd back into the mattress.

"Good morning," Boyd mumbled.

"Hey," Sin said. His voice rumbled out low, and he pressed a slightly open-mouthed kiss against the side of Boyd's mouth. The material of his body armor clung to every muscle, barely concealing the hard lines of his body as he eased down onto Boyd.

Boyd's hands slid up Sin's upper back, resting near the nape of his neck. "Where were you?" He spoke around a series of open-mouthed kisses along Sin's lips.

Sin shifted so that their hips were pressed together. The suit did nothing to hide his growing erection. "I got called in for a mission after training." Sin's tongue flicked out, touching Boyd's before he added, "I missed you."

Boyd's breath caught and he drew Sin's lower lip briefly between his. "I missed you, too." He dropped one hand from Sin's back to pull at the sheet separating them. "I was waiting for you."

The sheet slid from between them, and Sin pressed down against Boyd. He opened his mouth, dropped his gaze to Boyd's lips, and then exhaled slowly. "I was thinking about you all day."

Boyd's lips quirked. His fingers caught on the zipper at Sin's back and started sliding it down. "Yeah? What about?"

"I was thinking about what I wanted to do to you now that we were finally going to be alone," Sin said, words muffled by the press of their lips. "But then there was a fucking mission."

The zipper reached the end, revealing the crumpled tank top beneath. Boyd's hands slid under the suit, running down the hard lines of Sin's back. "There isn't a mission now."

Sin answered by licking into Boyd's mouth, his breath already ragged. He wrapped one hand around the back of Boyd's neck while sliding the other up the front of his t-shirt. Settling further onto Boyd until the full length of his erection pressed against Boyd's, Sin broke the kiss with a low sound at the back of his throat. He dragged his mouth down, kissing along Boyd's jaw and then down the side of his neck.

A moan dragged out of Boyd's mouth. He tilted his head to give Sin better access even as his hands pushed the armor off Sin's shoulders. He got the material down and off Sin's upper body. Sin's teeth dragged along his skin all the while, emitting groans that grew progressively huskier.

Boyd's gray t-shirt was shed, and he was left only in his boxer briefs as Sin began trailing wet, open-mouthed kisses down his torso. His tongue traced the old scar tissue that marred Boyd's skin as well as newer marks, causing Boyd to arch into the touch. His head pressed back into the pillows while he watched Sin through the veil of his eyelashes.

Sin's powerful hands were a gentle slide on Boyd's skin until he pushed Boyd onto his stomach. Strong hands ran down along Boyd's back, pressing down into the muscles and wrenching a groan out of him.

He ran his lips down Boyd's body, sometimes leaving a light brush of lips and heated breath and in other places an open-mouthed kiss that tingled on Boyd's skin. His eyes fell shut and his body relaxed, focused completely on the thrill of Sin's mouth worshipping him.

The damp kisses stopped briefly to focus on the scars that were etched into Boyd's skin, sucking, licking, dragging teeth lightly against them until Boyd was trembling and pressing his face into the bed as his dick throbbed.

It had been so long since he'd felt this, so long since he'd ached for Sin, that he found himself uttering hoarse pleas that tumbled out of his mouth.

Please touch me, please fuck me, I want you, I need you-- fuck, fuck, please...

His boxer briefs were tugged down, and Boyd felt Sin's hands sliding over his ass, squeezing, fingers digging in and then spreading the firm cheeks apart. When wet heat pressed against his hole, Boyd let out a startled cry. His eyes shuttered, and he dug his fingers into the sheets as Sin fucked him with his tongue.

Everything whited out, and for a moment Boyd could only focus on the feeling of Sin's tongue laving at his hole, flicking faster and leaving Boyd panting. He shoved back against Sin even as his mouth fell wide open, even as his fingers nearly ripped the sheets off the bed.

"Oh, Jesus-- Hsin-- Hsin, I need you--"

The tongue was replaced by a finger pressing inside; hooking around and coming dangerously close to his prostate. But then the hot swath of tongue returned, and licked up along the outside of his hole. Boyd cried out and automatically tried to snap his hips away. Sin caught him and held him still. He licked him again and slid his tongue inside.

Boyd arched his back, wanting more, wanting to come from this, but then Sin pulled away. Pushing himself to his knees, Boyd twisted and crushed their lips together. He could taste himself on Sin's mouth, and it turned him on more.

While their tongues and lips intertwined, Boyd worked at Sin's tank top, breaking the kiss just long enough to yank it off his lover and throw it across the room. The body armor was next, shoved down Sin's body until Sin had to stand to get it off. Boyd's fingers hooked beneath the shorts Sin had on and pulled them off at the same time, his breath catching when Sin's erection came free in front of him. Sin had barely gotten the rest of the suit off when Boyd leaned forward and took the long, thick cock into his mouth.

Sin's body jerked and his hands clenched in Boyd's hair. Boyd could taste the precome welling at the tip, and the heavy weight of Sin's cock on his tongue was making his own erection pulse. He gripped Sin's hip and immediately started moving, taking great pleasure in the slide of Sin's cock in and out of his mouth. He pressed the tongue piercing against Sin's erection.

Their eyes didn't stray from each other and Boyd's desire was only heightened by the look on Sin's face. His green eyes burned into Boyd hungrily, his lips red from kissing and parted enough for a flicker of tongue to be seen, his hair mussed and cheeks flushed...

Boyd started twisting and bobbing his head, sucking Sin and letting his saliva drip down his cock the way he'd always liked it. Sin's eyes rolled back and his body went taut. For a second Boyd was positive Sin was going to come in his mouth but Sin abruptly pulled him away.

"Turn around," Sin said hoarsely, his eyes burning into Boyd. His hands reluctantly eased from where they had clutched Boyd's head. "Do it."

Releasing a guttered breath, Boyd turned so that he was on his stomach again. The mattress bounced lightly beneath him, and within seconds Boyd felt Sin's breath wash across his back.

One of Sin's hands pulled Boyd's hips up, and the tip of his leaking cock brushed against the sheets. His breath began to speed when Sin shifted closer, one of his hands bracing himself on the bed. It felt like time had slowed to make every bare brush of skin against skin stand out that much stronger.

When he felt Sin's cock press against his saliva-slicked entrance, he let out a heavy groan of a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding in. It felt incredibly erotic, made even more so with the touch of dampness that could be his own saliva or Sin's pre-come.

Sin moved slowly at first but it wasn't long before he seated himself deep inside Boyd with a firm snap of his hips. Boyd let out a gasping groan, his body arching. Sin's cock was thick and hot, stretching muscles that ached for Sin's presence.

For one second, all Boyd could do was revel in the feeling. The head of his cock pressed down into the mattress with a light pressure that made Boyd moan. Their bodies were hot; held against each other with trembling muscles and shuddering breath.

What started as a slow rocking of Sin's hips soon became a deep, hard fuck that had Boyd screaming. Boyd's knees slid on the sheets, hips now and then snapping down with his cock shoving into the mattress. The pressure from in front and behind was enough to make Boyd's body twist and surge with the rising of his moans.

They moved against each other hard and fast until Sin dropped one hand down, cupping Boyd's arousal and pumping it. Boyd's hands clenched into fists and he dug his forehead into the mattress with a keening shout of pleasure. His skin was so hypersensitized that his entire body shook with the dual feeling of Sin slamming into him and the rough calluses of his hands jerking him off.

Boyd moaned endlessly, urgently, pleading:

"Don't stop, don't stop-- oh God, Hsin, please--!"

The pad of Sin's thumb pressed into the tip of Boyd's cock, rolling around in a motion that made Boyd's entire body snap up against him.

"Ahh-- Ahh--"

Boyd's mouth fell wide open and his eyes squeezed shut.

Sin pulled out of Boyd and dropped his hand away. The sudden loss of that heat and pressure wrenched a pleading moan out of Boyd. Even as he started to look over his shoulder, his heart jackhammering in his chest, he felt Sin's hands on him pushing him over. Boyd's bare back hit the bed, his legs automatically falling open.

Boyd barely got a glance of Sin-- hair tousled, lips reddened, and cock looking almost painfully hard between his thighs-- before Sin moved in. Green eyes blazing into Boyd, Sin gripped his legs and pushed them wide apart to bare him completely. One strong hand moved down to Boyd's sac, his fingers gripping him with just enough pressure to be maddening and pulling slightly down.

Without giving Boyd any warning, Sin dipped his head down and took the entire length of Boyd's dick into his mouth.

A ragged groan broke through the room. Boyd's entire body arched toward the wet heat of Sin's mouth, of the incredible feeling of his tongue already rolling up against the underside of his cock. Arousal pooled with a white-hot heat in his stomach, spreading with every passing second. Before he could do more than think about how hot it was to see Sin crouched between his legs with his lips stretched around his cock, Sin was moving.

Sin drew his lips up torturously slowly, rolling his tongue along the slit of Boyd's cock and making Boyd throw his head back with a shout, before pushing back down quickly. The sensation took away Boyd's every thought, and when Sin wrapped one hand around the base of Boyd's cock and began to simultaneously pump it, it got more intense.

Boyd's lips were open, every sound spilling out, his gaze intent on Sin's every move. Just knowing that it was Sin's mouth wrapped around his cock was nearly enough to make him come, but he tried to resist, twisting and arching against the bed to prolong the moment, his entire world focused on the feel and sight of Sin-- until he knew it was too close.

"Hsin--" he hissed, the words lifting in urgency. "Hsin--"

Sin's lips lifted just slightly on the edges and he looked up, meeting his stare. It was enough for Boyd to cry out, his body snapping up as he was overtaken by the rushing heat of an orgasm. He felt Sin's mouth working, watched his throat move as he swallowed. Boyd groaned, throwing himself back down on the bed so he could rock his hips upward.

The second Sin's lips slid off the tip of Boyd's still-hard cock, Boyd pushed himself up to meet Sin in a hungry kiss. Their lips and tongues moved against each other, fingers catching and pressing against hair and skin.

When their lips broke apart, Boyd kissed down Sin's jawline, bit lightly at his lower earlobe, and moved down his neck. His lips and tongue focused on the side of Sin's neck, and Boyd reveled in the groan that followed and the feel of hard fingers digging into him.

He was nearly overcome with the knowledge that this was really happening-- that they still wanted each other even after two years. That they still moved against each other as desperately and intensely as the first time they'd touched.

"Fuck, Hsin. I love you, I love you so fucking much..."

Sin's lips curved upward briefly, so short it was almost missed. He laid down on his back and tugged Boyd over with a grip on his wrist.

"Get on me."

Nearly shuddering in anticipation, Boyd sat up. He'd just come, but he wanted more. He wanted to feel Sin inside of him, and didn't hesitate before straddling Sin. Boyd arched his back and lowered himself until he felt the head of Sin's cock press at his entrance.

Sin's erection was a hot, thick intrusion that pressed deep inside Boyd's body. He could feel his muscles stretching to accommodate; a burn of pain that lingered right on the edge of pleasure.

For a moment, he couldn't move. All he could do was stare down at Sin as Sin stared back at him.

His heart pounded in his chest and his entire body tingled with desire. He lifted his body up and pushed it back down, feeling the hot press of Sin sliding in and out of him. His need for Sin overcame all else, and within seconds he was fucking himself on Sin's cock hard and fast. He braced his hands against Sin's hard stomach and began to ride him desperately. Sin didn't look away, eyes focused intently on the sight of his hard dick sliding in and out of Boyd's body.

Boyd sat down as far as he could and rolled his hips in a circular motion, feeling the hot length of Sin's erection angling around inside him. Their breath was each caught with a ragged groan.

Sin's hands clamped onto Boyd's hips, and began guiding him faster as he snapped his hips up in a relentless pounding motion. The sound of skin slapping against skin echoed in the room, and Boyd shifted so that he was crouched above Sin instead of straddling him. Sin started ramming into him harder, faster; deep thrusts that made Boyd lose sense of all else. His eyes rolled back as Sin swore and slammed him down on his cock.

"Ohh, fuck, fuck--" he moaned urgently.

Boyd was hard again, achingly so, and his balls were starting to tighten. He braced one hand back against the bed and used the other to jerk his cock desperately.

"Yes," Sin panted, his hips pistoning so fast that Boyd could barely keep a grip on his own dick. "Fuck, yes, I'm going to come--"

Boyd's mouth fell open and he nodded incoherently, not knowing why, just knowing that his cock was throbbing. That he was stretched open and the brutal onslaught of being fucked was making him insane.

The moment felt burned into his mind: Sin's eyes blazing on him; the bed shuddering beneath them and the trickling of sweat down his skin. The sounds of their harsh breath, rising moans, and aborted words. Sin's grip so powerful on him and the rushing beat of his own heart.

Sin's cock slammed deep into Boyd, pounding a rhythm that made Boyd's entire body rock with the movement. His body felt like it was on fire, and when their eyes met it was too much. Boyd came almost violently, his eyes spreading wide and unseeing. The world buzzed a shuddering white, losing all sense of reality other than Sin's body still slamming against him. He felt his body continuing to rock until Sin's moans grew louder, more urgent, with his hands tightening on Boyd's skin. With a snap of Sin's hips, heat flooded Boyd as Sin came.

They were both breathing harshly, desperate gasps of air to cool the rising heat of their bodies.

Sin had barely barely come down from the orgasm, and Boyd had barely reveled in the welcome feel of Sin's hot come inside him, when he yanked Boyd down closer to him. Their lips crushed together again, and Boyd felt one of Sin's hands slide along the nape of his neck beneath the heavy fall of his hair, with a light touch that was so contrary to the power Boyd knew was within those fingers that it made Boyd deepen the kiss automatically.

When it ended, Boyd held Sin close against him and wished that they would never have to move. For several long minutes, the only sound in the room was their breathing starting to even. Their eyes fell half shut but didn't shift from one another. Sin's lips curved up slightly in a smile that Boyd returned without hesitation.

For the first time, things felt perfect. Damp sheets twisted beneath them, powerful arms enclosing them and crushing their hard bodies together...

Nothing could ruin it. Nobody could.

They watched each other silently, with brief brushes of fingertips against heated skin and the tightening of their arms on one another, until Sin's eyes started to grow heavier between each blink. Even as relaxation overcame his body, even as exhaustion seemed to pull at him, the pale green of Sin's eyes was visible through his dusky eyelashes, watching Boyd until he fell asleep.

Boyd stayed with Sin for a while, enjoying the simple peace and comfort of having Sin sleep in his arms. He closed his eyes and listened to his heartbeat, feeling the gentle rise and fall as Sin breathed.

It was a long time before Boyd got up, carefully curling his fingers around Sin's hand and starting to pull away. He didn't get far before Sin's eyes slid open, half-glazed with sleep and eyebrows dragging down. Sin mumbled a protest and tried to pull him back but Boyd pushed back a fall of hair to kiss him on the forehead.

"It's alright," he said quietly. He pressed his lips lightly against Sin's. "I'll be back."

A sleepy trace of a frown found its way to Sin's mouth but when Boyd slowly disentangled himself from Sin's grip he wasn't pulled back. Within seconds of Boyd's feet hitting the floor of the bedroom, it seemed Sin had fallen fully asleep again.

After showering and returning to the bedroom to quietly pick up a clean pair of boxer briefs, Boyd padded downstairs to the kitchen. He'd left the door mostly shut to deaden any sounds he might make, and went about the lengthy process of trying to make food. By the time two and a half hours had passed, he had a turkey breast and batch of cookies cooling on the countertop, a large bowl of spicy pasta salad refrigerating as the recipe dictated, and the second batch of cookies baking while he finished preparing a side of sesame green beans.

He was in the middle of staring intently between the color of the green beans in the pan and the picture on the tablet he had propped up against the backsplash, when he heard a faint sound behind him. He glanced over his shoulder and was surprised to see Sin sitting at the counter.

"Hey," he said, a smile automatically forming at the sight of his lover. "I didn't hear you come down."

Sin grabbed a cookie, and raised his eyebrows slightly. "You were pretty focused."

Boyd's lips quirked and he shrugged, turning back to the pan. "Just making sure I don't mess it up."

"You don't have to make anything for me," Sin said, even as he reached for another cookie.

Boyd checked to make sure the green beans were the right color before pouring in the last of the ingredients and covering it. He turned around, leaning back against the counter.

"I wanted to."

"What is it? I haven't eaten in awhile," Sin admitted as he brushed crumbs off his hands.

"Turkey breast, spicy pasta salad, I'm making sesame green beans right now, and you already found the cookies." Boyd tilted his head in amusement toward the crumbs already littering the counter. "When I was in the medwing I spent some time researching what I could make next time you were over."

Sin's eyes rose and he slumped forward on the counter, resting his face against the side of his hand. "Pretty impressive considering your past."

"I purposely chose things that would be easy," Boyd admitted. He paused, checked the clock again, and skimmed his gaze over to the oven even though he couldn't see it well from his angle. "To be honest, I'd been practicing on and off, too. Before my house burned down. I guess I thought even when you were Danny, maybe I could make you something sometime."

He shrugged again. "But in the process I figured out it was trying to 100% follow the recipes that tripped me up in the past. It's a lot easier when I throw together pieces that make sense to me and use recipes for inspiration or best practices on how to prepare individual items."

"Ah." Sin was chewing another cookie, although his eyes were now on the oven as well. "They want me to gain forty pounds, so maybe your new skills will come in handy."

"Maybe." Boyd walked around the counter and sat down on the barstool next to Sin. "Tell them I'm your personal chef going according to a strict dietary plan. Then they can't refuse to let you come over if they want you to meet their guidelines."

"They better not try to refuse to let me come over anyway. I wouldn't listen."

Boyd smiled slightly and dropped his cheek against Sin's shoulder. He was silent a moment, watching the cookies through the light of the oven. "Hsin, she let me live for some reason now but it's not going to last. Even if Shapiro backs me up, she'll see me dead."

"She can try." Sin didn't tense beside him, and the words rolled off his tongue easy as if it were a fact. "We need to start talking about a plan."

Boyd nodded and glanced at the clock. Just a few more minutes. He sat up straight and crossed his forearms against the counter.

"I can tell you what I'd been planning. It doesn't sound as though we'd be able to work with the plan you mentioned was already in place. I don't know want to risk waiting a second longer than we need or they might have time to come up with a loophole or catch me off guard."

Any traces of the lazy calm that had been emanating off of Sin before disappeared, and he focused on Boyd. "She hasn't moved yet because the powers that be aren't letting her take out anyone in the Janus unit, especially not anyone who has been there for years. We need to get out before Janus is finished."

"Have you heard anything back from the Intel you gathered when you found me?"

"Ryan and Owen are working on it. You'll be expected to go in for intel meetings with them soon. They're focusing on some riddle or something that they found. Ryan talked about it a lot, thinks it will lead to the leaders." There was a brief pause. "Riley is in JG."

Boyd's eyebrows rose. He almost asked how Sin knew about Riley but that was an obvious answer: Kassian and Ryan must have told him.

He sighed and looked away. He couldn't say he hadn't suspected Riley's possible involvement in JG, but there hadn't been time to do much about it.

"How did you find out?"

"We tracked him down to see if he had any useful information on where you might have been taken. He didn't, but JG sent us a bunch of other Janus information they had. It was useless on its own, but apparently combined with Agency intel, it might lead to something big. Ryan keeps referring to it as The Puzzle."

"Do you know anything more about it?" Boyd asked, intrigued.

Sin shook his head and pointed at the oven. "That's done."

Boyd glanced distractedly at the oven, his mind working through their conversation. He didn't speak until he had the cookies out of the oven and placed individually on the cooling rack, but at that point he set the cookie pan down harder than necessary. When he looked up at Sin, his eyes were narrowed.

"It pisses me off that Riley didn't tell me anything. That JG didn't tell me anything." He dropped the oven mitt on the counter. "After I was in the Agency it makes sense if they weren't certain whether they could trust me, but what about before? They wrote about Lou's murder and my attack for all the world to see, but left it at just that paper trail. If they were so concerned, if my dad's the one who founded them, why the hell couldn't someone have swung by my house to see if I was okay? Especially if I had a wayward fucking uncle running around as part of their crew."

Sin reached out to prod one of the cooling cookies, but didn't actually take one. Instead he leaned forward on his elbows. "To be fucking honest, Boyd, those people don't give a damn about you. They'll try to sell you some bullshit but they just want to use you for what they think you might know about your father's research."

Boyd stared at Sin. He felt the vague beginnings of a headache and rubbed at his face. His hands dropped back down to the counter where they braced against the edge. "I'm really--" He stopped, grimaced, and turned to walk over to the stove where he pulled the cover off the pan.

"It's frustrating. My dad seems like the only good person in my family. I thought Vivienne was bad enough but Riley doesn't seem any better. The Agency, JG, even fucking Janus and Forakis..." He glared down at the green beans and then looked over his shoulder at Sin. "Why is it so fucking acceptable to everyone to do whatever the hell they want to me for their own gain, and then expect me to be happy that they even deigned to acknowledge my existence?"

"These people look at all of us as pawns, Boyd. The Agency basically made me their science project. All of these organizations, these people, they only care about their goals."

"Well, it's bullshit." Boyd checked the green beans and, seeing some liquid left, decided to leave it a little longer. "And until Shapiro clears me, I don't trust the Agency even if you're right that she'd have to wait until after Janus is taken down."

Sin nodded, and pressed his hands flat against the counter. "Which brings us back to needing a plan. We need to be able to completely disappear."

Boyd nodded in return. "Can you set the table?"

When Sin walked over to get the tableware, Boyd started getting the food ready. "My first goal is to get reinstated so I can at least be used for intel. My next scheduled psych appointment isn't for three days but I'll show up earlier. Shapiro has seemed trustworthy enough in the past so I think he'd prefer to see me back in action."

"They won't put you in the field, but yeah, Carhart has already indicated to Katsaros that we need you for the Janus perspective."

"Good. I don't want to be in the field, anyway. It'll give me more time to get everything else ready."

Sin set down the silverware and looked at Boyd. "We don't even have a real plan at this point. We need to start making moves now. And it might be even easier to contact Damian Perry now since he lives in this building."

Boyd glanced sidelong at Sin. So that was who the bodyguards were for downstairs. Having only been in the building one day so far, he hadn't had the chance to investigate yet. What were the odds that both Vegas would choose the same location for a condo?

"Before we contact him directly I need to talk to Adam Blake. I already had contact with Chance under a cover name and ran across Adam in the process. He'd been working on Chance for years, so he was going to help me figure out whether Chance was a viable option."

Sin's eyes had narrowed briefly at that, and he leaned over to flick the burner off the pan of green beans. "Does he know about this? About us getting out? He contacted me recently but I never got back to him. He is barely on compound."

"He knew I wanted you to be free and was looking for options for that." Boyd opened the refrigerator and pulled out the bowl of pasta salad. "There are reasons I trust him to keep it secret. But at the time I didn't know whether I was going with you."

Rolling his eyes, Sin reached out and grabbed Boyd's elbow. "That was stupid. Why the fuck would you think I'd ever go anywhere without you? Even as a brain dead civilian, I was a disaster without you."

Boyd paused and looked at him. "I was going to ask you what you wanted and follow through no matter what your decision was. But I wanted to give you that choice instead of deciding for you."

"Well I appreciate the vote of confidence since in the past that didn't happen a lot." Sin smirked, and arched a brow at Boyd, who hit him on the arm. "But I hope you know now there's no possibility of us splitting up ever again."

Boyd rolled his eyes in return. "Now who's being stupid? Even if you tried to get away from me, I'd follow you to the ends of the Earth."

"You better. Now tell me your plan."

Continue to Fade Chapter 36...