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 36

Uploaded on 10/27/2012

For the first time in what felt like forever, things were calm. It was surreal; as surreal as seeing Sin walk into the Tower after being dead for over a year. As surreal as watching Sin carry Boyd into the med wing two weeks earlier when the younger agent's survival had also been doubted.

Carhart stared at his computer, at the amount of data that was currently downloading, and then out the window. There was nothing enticing about the weather: it was gray, gloomy, and damp. The skyline was as broken as it'd been a week ago, and the ruins of the military base still darkened the land that stretched beyond Lexington proper.

Despite all that, he felt an overpowering need to go out.

For the moment things were okay with the people that mattered to him. Sin and Boyd were alive, and holed up somewhere off compound. The mole was dead, and there was no danger of it ever being found out how long Jonathan Logan had been working against Vivienne before Seong had come in. Janus was continuously weakening, and with that, the direct threat against Carhart's own survival at the Agency had diminished.

And Emilio was... doing whatever he did.

The thought gave him pause, and Carhart looked down at his phone. There were no messages or missed calls. With things on compound going smoothly and everyone in his unit occupied, he'd been left alone for the majority of the day.

Kassian had received an unsigned package at his house a couple of weeks prior, and it had been a goldmine of Janus information. Despite the lack of a name, Kassian and Sin seemed sure that it was from Boyd's uncle or one of his affiliates in the Journalist Guild. Having no reason to doubt them, Carhart had tasked Boyd, Owen, Ryan and Jeffrey with sorting through the new data. That, combined with the intel obtained during the mission in Arizona, made it seem like there was finally a light at the end of the Janus tunnel.

The general could finally focus on the annual review of agent performance which had been put off for months. It was a good time to focus, but somehow he couldn't. The more he stared at the impersonal numbers and data about the field agents he oversaw, the less he wanted to dedicate his time to the task.

It should have been the opposite. He should have been more motivated than ever because it would be harder to sanction a termination for he and Vivienne when the threat of Janus, which had loomed over the government for nearly two decades, was close to being finished due to his unit.

But his mind was not working that way. His mind was leaning more towards pessimism, and restlessness. He wondered if this was simply another calm spell before yet another storm.

There was always another storm.

He shoved his chair back and started to stand, looking briefly at the computer screen.The download was still moving steadily, but sixteen new messages had popped up in his inbox in the past few minutes. Scowling, he scanned the subjects and saw one relating to a possible promotion candidate to level 8 from General Willis.

Curious, Carhart clicked the e-mail and scanned it. Willis was suggesting a level 7 field agent named Seth Nguyen be promoted. The body of the e-mail was relatively concise, as per Willis' usual style, and Carhart clicked the link that brought up the program which contained Agent data. Nguyen's profile populated, and Carhart skimmed it.

He was vaguely familiar with the kid only because he'd initially not liked the idea of a former Outlaw being vetted to the Agency. The agent scouts didn't typically recommend gang members because of their strong loyalties to their former affiliates, especially if they were part of a gang that was active in Lexington. However, Seth had apparently been an ideal candidate for an assassin due to his sociopathic tendencies.

Carhart went through the file briefly, and quickly went over Seth's rap sheet prior to joining the Agency. He had a long history of crime dating back to a few years prior when he'd been involved in a murder in Vickland. The bullet had a link, and Carhart followed.

What he saw gave him pause.

Seth Nguyen had been involved with the murder of Louis Krauszer, Boyd's childhood friend. The information was scrawled across the screen in tiny, unflinching, impersonal words.

Carhart's eyes narrowed slightly. He barely hesitated before sending Willis a curt e-mail in which he denied the request.

Disgusted, Carhart finally stood. He left the computer to finish downloading as he walked out of the office.

"Reschedule my meeting with Instructor Fergusen," Carhart told Brian, not even pausing by the man's desk. He heard his admin acknowledge the order before leaving the waiting area.

It didn't take long to jog down to the ground floor of the Tower, but he called Emilio as he did so. There was no response, and a quick inquiry at the security post told him that the other man had not been on compound at all that day. According to their documentation, Emilio hadn't been on the compound much for the last few days.

A thought occurred to Carhart, and it caused his mouth to tighten into a thin line. He turned away from the guards and headed to the parking lot. He was dialing Kassian's number before he could talk himself out of it, but the senior agent didn't pick up either. Frustration turned into irritation, and Carhart tried to keep it from becoming apparent in his expression.

Kassian was starting to anger him. The man had a real knack for getting in the middle of things that he didn't need to be in the middle of. There had been so many allusions to Emilio sleeping with Kassian in the past couple of months that Carhart was close to telling Kassian outright to back the hell off. But tension over Emilio had a tendency to turn Carhart into a more vicious version of himself, and he didn't trust himself to start such a conversation. Telling would turn into ordering, and refusal would lead to something worse.

Carhart put his hands on the steering wheel and stared out the windshield. The rain was coming down harder, and all he wanted to do was find Emilio, go back to the man's apartment and fuck for the rest of the afternoon. He'd been wanting that for the past week, but every text and phone call had been ignored.

Trying to figure out what Emilio was thinking was a recipe for frustration and headache-inducing confusion. The general had no idea why Emilio had been scarce recently, but it'd started with Sin's reappearance. Their communication had lessened considerably with the constant distractions. As everything started coming to a head with Janus, the mole, and the Agency's plans for his unit, Carhart had gotten completely sucked into his work. Until now, he'd not even noticed Emilio's absence.

Letting the agitation guide him, Carhart called Ryan. He'd nearly started the conversation with a terse demand about Kassian's whereabouts, but Carhart caught himself before the words could slip out. Instead, he asked Ryan to meet him at Cafe Milan. The R&D agent was so pleased by the invitation that Carhart's frown eased into a faint smile.

The drive was short, but somehow Ryan had beat him there. The younger man was sitting in a back booth with both hands wrapped around a large, steaming mug. Between that, his enormous blue eyes, messy black hair and the scarf that was wrapped around his neck multiple times, Ryan looked more like a teenager than a man in his late twenties.

"Hey Zach."

Carhart reached out and ran a hand through the other man's hair, ruffling it briefly. "You look like you're skipping school."

"Whatevs, people are totally charmed by this youthful face," Ryan said. He nudged a basket of assorted pastries to Carhart's side of the table, and glared until the general took an apple tart.

"So, what's up?"

Carhart chewed slowly, rested his elbow on the table and pressed his face against his open palm. "Did it ever occur to you that I simply want to have coffee with you because I enjoy your company?"


Rolling his eyes, Carhart flagged down the waitress. "Don't be such a cynic."

"Yeah, 'cause being optimistic gets any of us anywhere," Ryan replied with a snort.

The waitress came over and smiled at Carhart more than was necessary. She asked him if he wanted any of the specials, recommended the apple pie, and wheedled a little when he declined.

"She definitely thinks you're my hot dad."

"Shut up, Ryan."

"Hey, you started this." Ryan smirked, and shifted on his chair. He wrestled his phone out of the pocket of his tight jeans, and studied it for a long moment without bothering to say what he was looking at. The waitress returned with Carhart's coffee, and only when she was out of earshot did Ryan talk again.

"So not to make this all business right away, but Jeffrey just sent me a message, and he's making real headway with that intel from Arizona. It's all like... a clusterfuck of science stuff, but mixed in there are little nuggets of knowledge."

"What kind of nuggets?" Carhart asked, taking a sip of his coffee. "Are we close to a location?"

Ryan shrugged, and looked at his phone again. "We're not there, but maybe soon? Between this, JG's box of wonders, and the intel that we already had... It's looking good. Honestly. And I mean, I don't jump the gun very quickly because, you know, cynic. But we're cross referencing tidbits from everywhere and it's starting to paint a picture."

"How abstract is this picture?"

"Errr. Moving away from Pollock and towards Picasso?"

Carhart smiled, and shook his head slightly. "I'll take your word for it."

They sat in silence for a moment, and Ryan took large gulps of what turned out to be hot chocolate. The silence was comfortable, but it always was with Ryan. Being around him put Carhart at ease in a way that rarely happened with other people. There was something about the younger man that endeared him endlessly, and without thinking about it, Carhart reached out to adjust Ryan's scarf.

"What happened to that man you're dating?"

Ryan wrinkled his nose. "Who? Which one?"

Carhart shrugged. "I don't know. I heard somewhere that you were dating some man. Another R&D agent."

"Ohhh. Jacob."

"With the tattoos?"

Ryan laughed, and thumped his mug down onto the table. "Oh my God, you seriously just sounded like an overprotective dad."

"Ryan, get off the dad thing. I'm not old enough to be your father."

"Whatever, so not the point." Ryan smirked at him. "Anyway, we just hang out. It turned into us being buddies, as usual. I'm always the buddy. Or the sidekick, or something. I'm like an inanimate object. A cute thing that people like to collect or whatever and leave on a shelf and not touch ever again."

"That was a terrible analogy."

Ryan made a face. "Whatever, it made sense."

Carhart sat back in his chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. "What about Kassian?" The question earned him a long, blank stare and the general shrugged. "You two seem close. I've seen him flirt with you."

He'd also caught him staring at Ryan's ass more times than he could count.

"Yeah but..." Ryan trailed off, frowning slightly. "He's... Kassian. He's just handsy and flirty with everyone. I mean don't get me wrong, we had a brief thing, and he's 6'2" of hot, blond, man-god, but he's like... unavailable."

"How?" The question came out sharper than Carhart had intended, and Ryan raised an eyebrow at him.

"Uh. Just to the world. Because he's Kassian. You know?"

"Uh huh."

Ryan popped a small, oatmeal raisin cookie into his mouth and stared at Carhart. "Any particular reason why you're pimping Kass out?"

"I'm not pimping anybody out. It was a suggestion." Carhart drained his coffee and glanced out the window. "Where is he, anyway? I need to speak to him and Sin, but I don't want to intrude on Sin and Boyd just yet. I didn't even want to assign Boyd to work on the intel yet, but I'm paranoid about him being too inactive."

At that, Ryan's expression lost some of its mischievous humor. "I know... I want to see Boyd really badly, but when he's not with us working, he's at the condo Sin bought him. And I can't talk about stuff in front of Jeffrey..."

Ryan shrugged. "Anyway, I'm not sure. Emilio is already partying hard at J&J, and Kassian said he might meet him there. He invited me but I have too much work to do."

The words put Carhart on edge, and he narrowed his eyes slightly. Kassian, Emilio and Ryan at Jake & Janet's sounded like a disaster. With the combination of Kassian's history with Ryan, and Emilio's twink comments about the R&D agent, Carhart did not want to even consider what the three of them drinking together could lead to. Not that Kassian and Emilio being there was any better.

Despite that, Carhart put the rising sense of jealousy aside and focused on Ryan. He changed the subject so as to not be completely transparent, and they spent an hour at the cafe. They talked about work, but they dwelled on what would happen if they were actually able to leave the Agency.

Despite Ryan's claim that he didn't have reason to be optimistic, that was exactly what he was in regards to their emergency escape plan. He didn't seem to share any of Carhart's doubts, and definitely did not appear to have thought about horror scenarios of being hunted and murdered when not expecting it. He was confident in the work that he, Bree and Owen had put into the program that would erase their existences, and Carhart hoped that was a good sign.

Despite Ryan's claim that he didn't have reason to be optimistic, that was exactly what he was in regards to their emergency escape plan. He didn't seem to share any of Carhart's doubts, and definitely did not appear to have thought about horror scenarios of being hunted and murdered when not expecting it. He was confident in the work that he, Bree and Owen had put into the program that would erase their existences, and Carhart hoped that was a good sign.

The conversation turned to how they would all keep in contact or if they would even be able to, and Ryan asked if Carhart planned to go with anyone. Apparently he and Kassian were going to stay together until they figured out where they wanted to go in the long term. Without hesitation, Carhart had nearly said that he would disappear with Emilio. The unspoken sentence made the agitation and anxiety difficult to ignore, and Carhart made an excuse to leave.

He used the agent reviews, but in reality, Carhart just wanted to find Emilio. Find him and finally tell him that things with Vivienne had ended weeks ago. Find him and try to figure out where any of this was going, if it was even going anywhere other than where it already was.

Carhart had no idea when his desire to control and then fuck Emilio had turned into an unceasing want, but it was there and there was no denying it. It had been there before the realization that he needed the little bastard despite all of the horrible things that he, that both of them, had done to each other.

Carhart went home and swapped his clothing for jeans, a black sweater, and his army jacket. He drove directly to Jake & Janet's in the Theater District. By then it was only six in the evening, but the place was already crowded. Several people looked as though they'd just driven down from the Financial District after work, but somehow nobody seemed out of place. Jake & Janet's was where people went when they wanted a guaranteed one night stand, and it attracted all kinds.

Ignoring a man who attempted to catch his eye, Carhart headed down to the basement. It wasn't even difficult to pick out which alcove Emilio might be in. Carhart would recognize his voice anywhere, even if the only sounds Emilio was currently making were low, husky groans.

Despite the fact that Carhart was fully prepared to embarrass himself in this wretched shithole if Kassian was actually in there with Emilio, the general's body reacted to the sound of Emilio's voice sounding so throaty and thick with lust.

Carhart approached the alcove, and didn't even have to shove the curtains aside. Emilio hadn't bothered to shut them entirely.

Emilio wasn't with Kassian, but the scene before Carhart still made him take a step back. It wasn't the fact that Emilio was currently screwing a tall, red-haired woman with long legs and large breasts that immediately drew Carhart's attention. It wasn't the way Emilio was shirtless and sweaty, with his jeans rucked down around his knees as he held the woman's legs open and pounded into her.

What made Carhart's eyes narrow and hands ball up was watching some tall, tattoo-covered man tongue his way down Emilio's back as he tugged the agent's jeans further down his thighs.

The spike of possessiveness that went through Carhart made him want to do something irrational, but he shut it down. He also couldn't take his eyes away.

The sensible thing to do was to leave. With the music blasting, and them likely completely wasted, nobody would notice if he backed out now. However, Carhart's eyes traced the lines of Emilio's body and the tattoos on his skin up to his face, and he paused.

Emilio's eyes were closed, long lashes resting against his face as his mouth hung slightly open, full lips parted and damp. His eyebrows were raised and drawn together, and his inky hair was a mess of silken chaos around his face. He looked amazing. Undeniably dangerous and wild, but so ridiculously beautiful that it was almost at odds with how hard and masculine his body was.

He had thrown his head back as he fucked the woman, and he looked completely lost in the feeling of it. She was so wet that there was an audible sound of his dick going in and out of her as she slammed against him. She had turned her face to bite one of the throw pillows, her legs spread wide and one foot braced against the table as she arched against him.

It was like going back in time and watching Emilio take turns fucking Lydia and Ann and whatever other woman he brought home. Back then Carhart had ignored the way it turned him on, and ignored the way he had secretly wished he wasn't so goddamn hard-headed so that he could get closer, get in on it, take his turn, maybe feel Emilio's hands on him.

But even now, Carhart didn't want to partake. Now he just wanted the tattooed man to get the hell out of the way and stop running his mouth and tongue all over Emilio. Seeing the damp trail of saliva that was likely cooling on that soft, caramel skin was turning the general on in a way that he couldn't hide or deny, but he still wanted to crush the man's face into a wall.

The thought was in his head before he could force it back: that it should be his mouth on that skin, his saliva, his hands. But he never touched Emilio like that. Never took the time to appreciate the feel of that skin, or caused that blissful expression to slacken Emilio's expressive face. When they fucked, it was hard and violent-- he usually drove inside Emilio like he was trying to prove a point and didn't stop until Emilio was reduced to a panting, incoherent wreck.

Turning abruptly, Carhart strode away from the alcove. He took the stairs three at a time, and shoved his way out of the club with more violence than was necessary. He stood outside for several minutes, and stared into space. Whatever plan he'd walked in with was out the window.

He'd anticipated anger, but not the goddamn cacophony of other feelings that had choked him. Possessiveness, jealousy, and so much resentment that another man was about to fuck Emilio.

It made him want to do something stupid; something worse than the time he'd not-so-kindly suggested that the bartender from Killian's get out of Emilio's apartment. Instead, Carhart went to his car and drove away. He found himself driving to Emilio's building.

The drive to Bedford took twenty minutes. He didn't hesitate to use the key Emilio had made for him when they'd first resumed their friendship. Or whatever it was anymore. The building was silent except for the muffle of loud talking or music behind closed apartment doors.

Once again, there was no plan. Not a real one. But Carhart waited anyway. He stripped off his jacket and poured himself a drink. He hadn't smoked in years, over two decades, but seeing Emilio's pack lying on the table suddenly proved to be too tempting.

He'd drank almost an entire bottle of Scotch before went to Emilio's room. He laid down on the bed and at some point, drifted to sleep. He had no idea how long he stayed asleep but when his eyes opened, it was completely dark in the apartment and the doorknob was rattling.

Carhart pushed himself up on his elbows, and listened to Emilio's stumbling, uneven footsteps. He'd stripped his clothes off as he made his way to the bedroom, and was down to bare feet, and unzipped jeans by the time he got there.

"The fuck?" Emilio slurred, staring at Carhart in confusion.

Carhart stared back, and didn't say a word as Emilio shrugged and collapsed on the bed next to him face-first. He didn't say anything else, and the room was immediately full of Emilio's deep, even breathing.

Having no desire to sleep next to Emilio with the other man reeking of recent fucking, Carhart got up. He debated shaking Emilio awake, but his face was pressed into the bed, and one arm was dangling off the side of it. He was completely out.

Sighing, Carhart went into the living room and stretched out on the couch. Once again, the smart goddamn thing to do would have been to go home. At this point he had no idea what he was doing or why he was lingering when he was clearly not what Emilio wanted, but determination made him stay.

If Emilio still wanted to avoid him after they talked, then Carhart couldn't do anything about it. That would be the point when he would give up, not before.

His eyes stayed open for hours, until the sky started to lighten, but once again he drifted off. When he woke up far into the middle of the next morning, it was because his phone was vibrating in his pocket.

Carhart opened his eyes with a frown, and shifted on the couch. He yanked the phone out of his pocket and saw that it was just a message from Ryan saying that they could schedule an intel overview sometime in the next few days. It was 10:00 AM.

Standing, Carhart rolled his shoulders as he walked to Emilio's bedroom. The other man was up, still damp from the shower, and wearing a fresh pair of jeans but nothing else.

"Morning," Carhart said hoarsely. He cleared his throat, and ran a hand through his hair.

"Why the hell are you even in my house?"

"I wanted to talk to you."

Emilio turned to face Carhart, and gestured at him with an unlit cigarette. He showed no traces of a hangover, and looked at the general with an belligerent arch of his brow.

"It couldn't wait? You had to stalk my entire fucking life and lurk in my house all night?"

Carhart sighed and this time he raised both hands to press against his face. "What's your problem, Emilio? It didn't occur to you that I might have something of value to say after I waited all of this time?"

"Frankly, General? I don't give a motherfucking flying fuck." Emilio scoffed and let himself fall backwards on the bed into a sprawl. "You ain't even saying a damn thing. Do you even need something Zachary or is your girlfriend just busy?"

The general didn't know if Emilio was playing a game, or if he really wanted him to go. Regardless, he wasn't leaving.

"I need something," he said evenly.

Emilio's lips curled up into a filthy smirk. "I get it now," he said. "You need to get off hard and nasty like you do it with me. Guess Viv won't let you fuck her bloody 'till her knees give out and let you come all over her after. Ain't that right, baby?"

Carhart didn't have any delusions that Emilio meant that as an invitation, but it made his gut tighten anyway as heat washed over him. They stared at each other, and then Emilio rolled his eyes, arching his back in a stretch that caused Carhart's dick to stir with interest.

Emilio watched him lazily, and was starting to look more curious than annoyed. "So? What do you want, General?"

Carhart raised an eyebrow and knelt on the bed. He kept his knees on either side of Emilio's legs, and let one hand rest on the other man's ankle.

"I was thinking about you."

Emilio scoffed, clearly disbelieving. The tension in his body seemed to be building until it seemed like he was coiled tight and ready to snap. He lifted one foot, pressed it flat against Carhart's chest and flexed it. It seemed like he was going to shove him backwards and off the bed, but Emilio just kept it there.

"I'm on downtime, asshole. Next time you come up in my apartment, call first."

The obvious contempt threw Carhart off, and his brows puckered as he wrapped a hand around Emilio's ankle again. "What's wrong with you?"

Emilio let himself fall onto his back again. The bed bounced beneath them briefly. "Figure it out. I'm done playing your bullshit game."

Carhart stared at his ex-partner, at the dark expression, the grimace, and the tautness in his shoulders. Obviously the general had done something, but he had no idea what. It'd been weeks since they'd had a conversation about something other than work, and only a little more since the last time they'd been together sexually. It'd been frantic, panting grinding in his office that had turned into a violent, thorough fuck in his apartment as they took pent-up frustration and anger out on each other's bodies.

Emilio closed his eyes, and Carhart frowned slightly. His fingers slid over Emilio's ankle and up the rough denim of his jeans, moving up his calf.

"I figured you'd be less uptight after letting that guy fuck you last night."

Emilio's body tensed. "Following me, General?"

"No. I went to find you, and there you were, fucking and about to get fucked with what were most likely completely random people." Carhart shook his head slightly. "Although that is preferable to Trovosky."

At that, Emilio's lips curved into a mean, sharp smile. "Jealous of Kassian, huh?"

"What's to be jealous of?"

"That I go to him when I wanna fuck lately and not you."

Carhart couldn't answer for a moment, and his jaw clenched. His fingers tightened on Emilio, and dug in painfully. "If you want to stoop to begging for Trovosky's dick, we're going to have a problem."

There was a pause, then: "Who said he fucked me? I ain't the bottom bitch all the time, baby."

Somehow that mollified Carhart, and he slid his hand further up Emilio's muscular thigh. His fingers curled, the tips brushing against his groin. "Does that mean you're not in the mood to get fucked?"

The full lips stayed pressed in an unimpressed line, but Emilio's dick reacted to the words. Carhart could feel the slight shift beneath his fingers, and he pressed down slightly.

"Maybe I just ain't in the mood for you."

"You're too old to be this sullen, Vega."

Emilio flipped him off in response, not even deigning to open his eyes. The tension in his body hadn't eased at all, but he didn't stop Carhart from tugging at his jeans. The general slid them cleanly down Emilio's thighs, taking the underwear with them, and ran his eyes over the other man appreciatively. When the silence stretched without Carhart touching Emilio further, the green eyes slid open.

They looked at each other and Emilio shifted, letting his thighs fall open. He watched silently as Carhart pulled his sweater over his head, tossing it to the side. His first instinct was to flip Emilio over and pound him until the sullen anger disappeared completely. But Carhart's mind kept wandering back to the man at J&J, and the way Emilio's face had looked as lips wandered over his body.

Still kneeling, Carhart leaned forward and brushed his mouth against Emilio's. The other man stiffened, eyebrows drawing together. He didn't pull away, and Carhart repeated the motion, flicking his tongue out to taste menthol and something undeniably Emilio.

Carhart raised his hand and brushed two fingers against Emilio's lips. Emilio was looking at him with barely concealed wariness, but his lips parted anyway when Carhart slipped them inside.

"Suck," he said, voice low.

Emilio's eyes narrowed but his dick responded, going from half-hard to fully hard almost instantly. He shifted again and wrapped his lips around Carhart's fingers, taking them into his hot, wet mouth. His tongue dragged against the long digits, and he didn't break eye contact. Carhart's own mouth dropped open slightly, a low sound escaping as Emilio's saliva coated his fingers and slid down the rest of his hand.

He started fucking Emilio's mouth with his fingers and ignoring how much he wanted to replace them with his dick. Shove it past those full lips, down Emilio's throat, fuck him violently, and then pull out just to come all over his face.

A shudder went through Carhart and he pulled his fingers out. Emilio had already opened his thighs wider in anticipation, readily accepting the fingers that pushed past the tight ring of muscle as Carhart began to finger his ass.

They never really bothered with fooling around; never had time for foreplay, and it had never mattered to Carhart before. But as he hooked his fingers up and hammered them into the spot that made Emilio's eyes roll back in his head, he decided that maybe they could do it more often.

"Fuck," Emilio hissed, rocking against the curling fingers urgently. He had that blissed out expression on his face again. Lips wet and open, eyebrows hiked up and eyes glassy.

Carhart began shoving his fingers in faster, adding a third, and was panting just as hard as Emilio. His dick was hard in his pants, uncomfortably trapped, and already leaking enough to dampen the front of his underwear. He ignored it for now and focused on Emilio, on keeping that look on his face.

"Still want to go to Kassian?" he asked.

"Yeah," Emilio hissed spitefully even as his fingers gripped the bedspread. His adam's apple was bobbing in his throat, body taut and breath coming out in harsh gasps. "Y'all could take turns on m--"

Carhart hooked his fingers up again, rubbing them against Emilio's prostate and silencing the bullshit. The other man's eyes opened wide and he released a sound so raw and loud, that Carhart's dick pulsed in response.

"Oh shit, oh God--" Emilio panted, mouth gaping open as he threw his head back.

"Still want Kassian?"

Emilio just released a series of desperate sounds, muscles locked in place as he shook his head back and forth wordlessly. His cock had gone from hard to looking swollen enough to burst as Carhart massaged the bump.

"Because I could stop if you do. Call him over."

"P-please shut the fuck up," Emilio grit out, the words barely comprehensible around his whimpers. Carhart smirked and slowed the motions, chest tightening when Emilio's lips trembled and a strangled, confused growl escaped them. He scrabbled at one of Carhart's legs with a tattooed hand.

"N-no, no, don't stop, fuck Kassian, hope he dies, don't stop. Just please--yes, yeah, shit."

Carhart laughed quietly at the other man's desperation, watching as he fucked himself on Carhart's fingers with no shame. Emilio was trembling, sweat covering his body and incoherent sounds pouring out of his mouth. The sounds only increased when Carhart raised his free hand and began pumping Emilio's dick roughly. It was already slick with come that was oozing from the head, making it a sticky mess. Twisting his wrist, Carhart's fist flew over the stiff length as Emilio released a string of curses, and pleas that jumbled together to make no sense at all.

It didn't take him long to come that way, and when he did, it went everywhere. Streams of semen striped Carhart's stomach, his chest, and even his face. By the time Emilio was coming down, he was slack against the bed despite the way he'd been straining up only a moment ago. His hair was sticking to his sweaty face, eyes barely open and still panting audibly. He looked wild and well fucked, but Carhart wasn't done yet.

He undid his belt, shoving down his own pants and briefs impatiently. Emilio's room was a wreck, but he spotted a tube of lubricant sitting on the nightstand. Convenient, if a little annoying considering what it'd probably been recently used for, but Carhart ignored that and slicked up his own cock. It was aching to the point of being painful, and his breath hissed out as his gut tightened.

Emilio barely reacted when Carhart palmed the underside of one of his knees. He looked dazed, and only responded when Carhart leaned forward again to lap at his mouth. The kiss started slow but quickly turned into them panting against each other's mouths as Carhart ground down against Emilio.

"Want more?" he asked, breath coming in harsh bursts as Emilio's tongue licked along his cheek. Carhart nearly groaned when he realized that Emilio was cleaning up his own come.

"You know I fucking do."

Carhart opened Emilio up with one sharp thrust before filling him completely. He squeezed his eyes shut once he was sheathed, forcing himself to stay still, to not just start driving into the tight body like he always did, but Emilio had other plans. He slammed up against Carhart, forcing him to move, and Carhart gripped the other man's knee tighter.

"Wait," he guttered out. "I want--"

He wanted to take his time, to enjoy it, to enjoy Emilio.

"Fuck that," Emilio growled, arching up. "Wreck my ass."

The muscles locked around Carhart's dick tightened rhythmically, milking it until Carhart released a ragged shout. He grabbed Emilio's other leg and shoved it back slightly, stretching him open wider. Between the tightness and heat, and Emilio's filthy demands to be filled deeper, harder, faster, Carhart began to piston in and out of him brutally. It had to hurt, even slicked up, it had to be causing pain. But Emilio didn't complain, he never did. He just met each thrust, one hand wrapped around the headboard as Carhart fucked him.

"Yeah," Emilio panted, as his eyes blazed up at Carhart's. Each thrust sent his shoulders slamming back against the headboard, and he released a string of desperate pleas. "Yeah, please, fuck yes, fuck that fucking ass!"

Carhart leaned down, crushing their chests together as he drove into Emilio harder. He pressed his mouth against Emilio's, kissing him so sloppy and wet that it was little more than a press of tongues. They kept eye contact until Emilio's eyes rolled back and his mouth went slack as Carhart licked down, and sucked a bruise into the side of his neck.

The sound that Emilio released sent fire scorching through Carhart, and he started ramming his cock into Emilio violently. He could hear himself getting louder but he was beyond caring, even when he heard himself panting Emilio's name.

"Yeah," Emilio gasped as he rocked against Carhart and met every thrust. "Ride the fuck out of me."

Carhart growled something incoherent and shifted so that he was hovering above Emilio again. He shoved one of Emilio's knees to the side and snapped his hips in a particularly brutal thrust that caused Emilio to emit a keening wail of pleasure. He was being fucked so hard that the bed was slamming back against the wall as he clutched the headboard. His dick was hard again and he reached down to pump it as Carhart panted nonsensical promises not to stop.

Each slam of his hips wrenched a primal, agonized cry from Emilio's mouth that just made Carhart fuck him more furiously. Every sound just made him want to go harder, faster, and deeper. He wanted to hear Emilio begging, more of his frantic shouting, and Carhart kept going until his back began to ache from the force.

They were staring at each other again, and Emilio didn't break eye contact even when he came for a second time. An almost surprised, ruined shout escaped his mouth, and Emilio's come covered them both as his dick spurted over and over again. He went limp after, his eyes sliding shut, but Carhart kept using his hole. He was completely consumed by want, need to have Emilio; to keep him full and fucked and destroyed by the intensity of it all.

"I-- I-- shit, yes, fuck, fucking take it," Carhart snarled, his mouth falling open as his body tensed.

Emilio shuddered and his hooded eyes slid open, mouth twisted into a filthy, pleased smile. "You close?" he asked hoarsely.

"Yes, fuck, yes."

"Pull out and come in my mouth."

Carhart's eyes flew open and Emilio smirked at him. The heat became overwhelming, the tightness in his gut and the ragged desperation to finish. He ripped out of Emilio, fingers trembling as he crouched above the other man. The loss of the tightness was staggering but he was so close, so goddamn close, that it only took two violent pumps of his hand.

Emilio's lips parted, his tongue sticking out, and Carhart groaned loudly as streams of come entered that waiting mouth. He was shuddering by the time it was over, and collapsed on top of Emilio with a gasp. It took several moments of brainless panting before he could even move enough to look at the other man.

"Are you sure you aren't a porn star?"

Emilio licked his lips and reached up to wipe a damp spot from his cheek. "Nah. Just a slut."

"Jesus Christ," Carhart said breathlessly. He put his head back down, ear pressed against Emilio's chest. His heart was galloping just as fast as the general's. "Goddamn savage. I was trying to not rip your ass apart for a change."

"Why?" Emilio asked skeptically. "That's how I like it."

Carhart just shook his head wordlessly, and closed his eyes again. "There's something wrong with you."

Emilio snorted and shifted on the now sweaty bed. For a moment Carhart thought the other man was going to shove him off, but Emilio just relaxed again. He slid his fingers through Carhart's damp hair.

"Even the Agency knows that's how I like it. That's why they be sending me on valentines with fucking BDSM and gangbangs and shit. I get off on that, baby. Pain and being used until I pass out."

Eyebrows raising, Carhart propped himself up on one elbow so that he could look at Emilio again. "And why the hell does the Agency even know that? What, did you bring it up when they vetted you? Write it on your application?"

"No. It just....came up." The way Emilio trailed off made it clear that there was more to the story, but he didn't elaborate.

They lapsed into silence, and for several minutes the only sound was their evening breathing.

"So, why are you here?"

"I told you why I came over."

"Uh huh."

Carhart made a face and rolled off of Emilio in exasperation. "What is the damn problem, Emilio? We've been sleeping together for months now. I stopped holding back a long time ago."

"And you sure as hell got past that shit as soon as Logan got found out, didn't you?"

The question didn't click any awareness into place, and Carhart just stared at him in confusion. "What the hell does that have to do with anything?"

Emilio's eyes narrowed and he sat up. "Do you think I'm fucking retarded, Zachary? I know it was that bitch that told you to start nailing me again. I'm not stupid, man. Like all of a sudden you decided to cozy up to my spic ass and it was around the time you both happened to be on the shit list, and Seong starting being all nice to me?"

He scoffed, looking around and reaching for his cigarettes from the nightstand. His movements were sharp and jerky. Carhart watched silently, his fingers curling into the crumpled sheets below him.

"You wanted to butter me up so I would be on your side and spy for you. Don't even try to front, motherfucker, 'cause I know it's true. That's why your punk ass vanished as soon as Logan got himself dead, and all of your Janus shit started getting tidied up. You don't need me anymore, 'cause you ain't on the shit list."



The question was barked out, and Carhart closed his eyes briefly. He took a deep breath before opening them again. "You're right."

"Yeah, thanks. I fucking know," Emilio said bitterly.

His jaw was clenching, eyebrows drawn together, and so very obviously trying to hide how much it hurt him that it made Carhart stop. The explanation he'd prepared long ago died away, and he just stared. Stared at the stricken look that Emilio couldn't hide, the way his hands had balled into fists, and the way Emilio looked away quickly.

"Thanks for the ride, baby. Can you fuck off now?"


"If you was smart, you'd get the fuck out, Zachary."

Carhart sat up and put a hand on Emilio's shoulder, squeezing the tense muscles. "Can you listen for a minute, please?"

"For what?" Emilio scoffed. "Ain't shit to say. You're safe now, your girlfriend is safe, have a happy life, leave me the hell alone."


"The only thing I can't work out is why you hung around all night just to say that. Why'd you go to Jake & Janet's? Won't your girlfriend get mad that you're a filthy voyeur?"

"Jesus, shut the hell up already," Carhart snapped. "Can you let me speak?"

Emilio said nothing, and refused to look up. Carhart sighed and tilted Emilio's chin so that he could meet the other man's eyes. "Vivienne isn't my girlfriend. We care about each other--"

"Oh for fuck's sake, just go away, man!"

"--but we're not in a relationship. I've told you this so many times, and you just don't goddamn listen." Carhart frowned, and tightened his grip on Emilio's face. The look the move earned him was lethal but he didn't let go.

"We got close during the past year, but it's over now. We're not sleeping together anymore. Before, we were expecting to die any moment, and working alone to find the mole. Constantly expecting to die, feeling alone except for the one other person who's in on it with you... It brings people closer together. You should know that. It's what happened with us in Brighton."

Emilio jerked his chin away, sneering. "I was in it deep for you way before Brighton, asshole. You know that."

"Yes," Carhart admitted. "I did. I do now, anyway. And Brighton was like an extended nightmare for me, and I was so pissed off at you afterwards that I didn't want to think about it ever again."

"Why?" Emilio demanded. "Because I did what I had to do to survive?"

"Survival had nothing to do with you publicly fucking me or getting me on my knees every chance you got, just because my cover was supposed to be your bitch," Carhart said evenly. "Don't insult my intelligence, Emilio. You took advantage of the situation. You used me like I was your whore, and I couldn't stop you."

The words said so frankly for the first time in almost twenty years seemed to cool some of Emilio's fire. This time he looked away, but his lips twitched into a frown. "Well," he said flatly. "Well, I just wanted you. And I finally had you. And I'm an asshole. So... it is what it is."

Carhart shook his head, running a hand over his short, blond hair. "You know I liked some of it. You remember the way I acted, how jealous I got when anyone else would go near you, how obsessed with you I became. It wasn't normal, and you know it. I was totally consumed by that cover, totally out of my mind because we were there so long, and you used it to your advantage. When we got back, I wanted to kill you. You'd shamed me, Emilio. I was humiliated."

Emilio's hands clenched into fists and he shrugged stiffly.

"So I told you to never bring it up again, or I'd never talk to you again. I was angry. I hated you for awhile. And then you disappeared, and then I was told you died, and I spent twenty years being obsessed with the fact that you thought I hated you before that."

Looking away, Carhart frowned as he thought back to those days. He'd been a wreck. Drinking, crying, feeling so anguished and guilty.

"When Sin came, he couldn't stand me. All I did was ask about you. He didn't trust me, and after awhile he probably thought I was like his mother and Lydia, another psycho trying to use him to feel like I was closer to you. Because he could tell it wasn't just me asking about an old friend. It creeped him the hell out."

At those words, Emilio looked up sharply. "What do you mean?"

Rolling his eyes, Carhart finally released Emilio's face. "He could tell I felt something for you, and he was probably leery that I'd start directing it at him. Vivienne could tell as well. That's why she suggested I begin sleeping with you. She knew I would. And she knew it would be believable, because she knew I wanted you even though I try so hard to hate you for all of the fucked up things you do."

To this Emilio said nothing. He just stared at Carhart as if he was from another planet.

"For God's sake, Emilio. Is it that hard to accept that I actually want you? I always wanted you. I didn't accept it at first. I'd only been with a couple of women in my life. I'd been married. I grew up in a small, blue-collar town where I'd never even considered the idea of being with a man. And then along came Emilio Vega, gorgeous and dangerous and reeking sex, and it was goddamn overwhelming."

"So then why didn't you ever..." Emilio trailed off, frowning. The skepticism was still on his face.

"Because everyone wanted you. I didn't want to be like everyone else. I liked being the one person that you were real around. The one person you trusted. Not just another person who couldn't resist the body, the eyes, and the voice."

Carhart broke off briefly, and the memories flooded his mind. Being partners with Emilio. All of the casual touches; the way Emilio would come up behind him and pin his chest to Carhart's back. The way those green eyes would stare and travel over Carhart's body, not even trying to be discreet. The way Emilio would gaze at him as he fucked some woman, lips parted and eyes narrowed with want. The first time he'd walked in on Emilio with another man, and the frantic way Carhart had jerked himself off as soon as he'd been alone.

"Jesus, do you have any idea how hard it was for me to not give in?"

Emilio frowned. "Well, you're retarded. We could have been banging that whole time."

"That's your problem, Vega. You just want to screw, and back then I wasn't like that. I wasn't into just banging, and I wasn't about to be one of your conquests."

"Well you sure as fuck didn't act like you wanted nothing to do with me, baby. You didn't then, and you don't now, and I'm wondering if all of this is bullshit."

Carhart made a face, starting to get agitated with the way his confession was being continuously brushed off.

"How many ways do I have to explain that I care about you? That I want you? Do you want me to write you a sonnet? Do you want to know why I went to Jake & Janet's? Because I thought you may be with Kassian and you're right-- the idea made me insane. I hate the fact that you go to him. I hate the fact that you choose someone else over me. I want you to come to me when you're horny, not every random person with a hole or a dick."

Emilio still didn't react. He absently flipped his unlit cigarette between his fingers.

Disgusted, Carhart shook his head and stood up to yank on his briefs. "Fine. Have it your way."

"Are you screwing with me?" Emilio asked finally.

"I'm not, you goddamn idiot. And I'm not explaining it again so if you don't believe me, tough."

"Yeah, but why now? Why the fuck now do you want to explain?"

Carhart opened his mouth, closed it, and then looked out the window with his jeans dangling from one hand. "Because that sinking feeling that I've had for the past two and a half years won't go away. Things may seem okay now, but for how long? How long until I'm expected to sit back and once again accept that people I care about may be terminated? Murdered once they're not useful anymore. Since I hit level 9 as a field agent, I've compromised my integrity in every single way for that place. I'm... I'm not who I used to be. I'm messed up, and a monster, just like they are."

Emilio frowned. His hand lifted, but then dropped back down to the bed. "We just do what we have to, Zachary. To survive."

A low scoff escaped Carhart's mouth, and he shook his head. "What's the point of surviving if the people I love are taken from me? What's the point in protecting myself if I have to pretend that I don't want to protect them? That I don't care about them? I can't anymore. I can't. I can't goddamn pretend. Not for them. I won't pretend I don't love Sin, and Boyd, and Ryan. And I'm tired of pretending that I don't love you because this place has warped both of us so badly."

Carhart pulled up his pants and zipped them up. He shot a quick look at Emilio, and the other man looked so unsure that Carhart paused and left the belt undone.

"I'm not lying, Emilio. And I'm tired of this. All of this bullshit. We're probably never going to be normal in any capacity, but we can at least try to enjoy what we have now."

"You're the one that likes being able to crush me just to say you can."

"I know." Carhart frowned, looking at Emilio's unreadable expression. "I know I'm screwed up. But can we fucking please just--" He stopped, frustrated, not having the words to make any of this right. "Just, please. Try to have a little faith in me. I'm afraid I won't be able to make this right. I'm afraid we'll run out of time before I can."

Emilio stared down at his cigarette or his tattooed fingers, Carhart couldn't tell which. But the anxiety was building the longer Emilio took to respond. It seemed like a mission failed. Making things right, not a possibility. He'd pushed and manipulated too much. Done all of the things he accused Emilio of doing. Fucked things up. Fucked them up.

"Please, Emilio."

Emilio's eyes rose, narrowed, and watched Carhart carefully. Emilio got up and walked closer, stopping less than a hand span away. They stared at each other again, not talking, not touching, just watching each other.

"Fine," Emilio said finally, his voice low. "But don't mindfuck me anymore, Zachary. Or I'll make you wish you'd never met me."

"I won't."

"Better not."

Carhart started forward, and Emilio looked at him warily.

"You ain't gonna try to hug me now, are you?"

"No, but I did want to kiss you." Carhart lifted his hand and wrapped it around one of Emilio's hard, tattooed shoulders. "Is that okay, or is it too mushy for you?"

Emilio finally cracked a smile, and he reached down to grasp one of the loops in Carhart's jeans. He gave a tug, and pulled the general back towards the bed. "It's okay, I guess. As long as you're not lying to me."

"I'm not." Carhart didn't resist as Emilio guided him back down to the bed. He twisted, lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. "Are you ever going to trust me, Emilio?"

There was a brief silence before the other man replied:

"I'll work on it."

Continue to Fade Chapter 37...