In the Company of Shadows

This site is..

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 37

Uploaded on 1/5/2013

Boyd and Sin stood still as Chance's bodyguards searched them for weapons. When it was verified that they were unarmed, the guards stepped back. They eyed Boyd briefly before settling their stares on Sin. They stood that way for nearly a minute before allowing them to enter.

Chance's penthouse was even more luxurious than the one Sin had bought for Boyd. It was two levels, and the windows along the far wall spanned both floors. Chance was sitting in a massive living room with a woman. She was tall, had long black curls, and looked Hispanic.

The woman looked from Boyd to Sin, and then raised one sharply arched eyebrow. Her light brown eyes slid over to Chance, and then back to Sin, before returning. Although Chance and Sin were nothing close to how similar Emilio and Sin looked, they had the same high cheekbones, full downturned lips, and intense stare.

"We'll have to finish this conversation later," Chance said, not moving from his leather and chrome chair. He looked away from the door, and refocused on the woman. "But I'm glad you came."

The woman stood, and her curls brushed the small of her back. "Don't get excited. I only came because of business."

Chance shrugged, looking unconcerned. When she turned away, his eyes automatically fell to her ass. She brushed by Sin and Boyd, and disappeared out the door. Only then did Chance turn his complete attention to them, and the two bodyguards that still stood just inside the apartment behind them.

"Did you check to see if they're wired?"

One of the guards, a bald man with tattoos snaking up his neck, took a step closer. "No, but I can now, if you want."

Chance looked from Sin to Boyd, and stood. "They can strip, and prove it. You go through their clothes."

"Wow." Sin looked down at Boyd incredulously. "This again?"

Boyd's gaze didn't shift from Chance. "Is that really necessary?"

"If you want to have a full conversation with me it is. For all I know, this entire thing is a set up. I know Big Brother is watching me." Chance crossed his arms over his chest. "Your choice, kids."

Boyd sighed and kicked off his shoes. He pulled off his shirt and pants while next to him, Sin gave a disgusted shake of his head and did the same. Before long, the two of them were standing in their underwear. Boyd held his arms out at his sides so Chance and the guards could see there was nothing on him.

"Satisfied?" Sin said. "Or do you need to see my cock and balls too? After all, I could be hiding a mic under my sac."

Chance didn't shift from his stance, and looked them both over critically. "Search their clothes."

"Smartass," the guard muttered at Sin, and yanked his jeans away before going through the pockets diligently. When he was done, he tossed them at Sin's feet. He watched Sin for a reaction and then wrinkled his brow when all he got in return was a steady glare. Boyd's clothes were searched next, and this time the guy tossed them at Boyd's chest.

"They're clean."

"Thank you, Junior," Chance said, his lips stretching in a brief, sharp smile. "You can go." The two guards hesitated only briefly before leaving. Chance's gaze went over Sin and then settled on Boyd. "You're more emaciated than you were last time I saw you."

"Good thing I'm not trying to be your porn star anymore or that might have been something to discuss," Boyd commented as he started to pull his pants back on.

"Who said it's time to get dressed already?"

Boyd stilled, and looked up at Chance with mild incredulity.

Sin, who hadn't even moved to pick up his clothes from the floor, narrowed his eyes. "Role playing is over. He's not doing a trial for you."

"I'm curious as to how far you two are willing to go for my help," Chance admitted. He raised his eyebrows, and walked around them in a slow circle. "You'd both be good in my lineup."

"Sin doesn't do that sort of thing," Boyd said evenly.

"Unlike you." Chance's lips turned up more at the sides. When Sin's eyes narrowed, Chance raised his hands slightly. "No offense meant. Just stating facts."

Boyd saw the significance in the raised brow that was so like Sin's. Chance wasn't making assumptions based on Boyd's fake credentials; he knew. Those videos Aleixo had sent out, the ones Boyd had thought Skyn might have received-- they did. And Chance saw it.

Boyd's gut clenched and he glanced quickly at Sin. The last thing he wanted was for Sin to see one of those videos, let alone even know they existed. Eyes narrowed, Boyd's gaze swept away to stare blankly at the wall ahead of him.

"I'm not available."

Chance focused his stare on Sin. "What about you?"

"What about me?"

"How far are you willing to go?" Chance tilted his head to the side, and rubbed his chin with one hand. "I've watched you two coming in and out. I know you're together, and I know this one was in bad shape when he first showed up in my building." He paused, and pointed at Boyd. "Would you fuck your boyfriend on camera to get me to help? Is it that serious?"

A flash of irritation crossed Sin's face. He rolled his shoulders, the muscles roiling under his skin. "If that's how you get your rocks off. But no one else is touching him but me."

Chance looked at Boyd expectantly.

A surge of frustration was barely kept from Boyd's stony expression. "If that's seriously going to be a requirement of this then I want to have a chance to discuss it with Sin. Privately."

"By all means." Chance nodded to the hallway next to the kitchen.

Sin shot him a glare, and jerked on his jeans. He pulled his shirt over his head, waited long enough for Boyd to do the same, and then walked to the hallway. The first door on the left was open, and appeared to be a study or library.

"This is bullshit," Boyd said heatedly the second the door was closed behind them. He glared at the empty room and began to pace. "Do you see his name burned into my skin? I'm not his fucking sex toy and I'm not his goddamned property. I say I'm unavailable and the first thing that fucker does is ask you if you'll fuck me on screen instead."

Sin watched as Boyd's movements grew sharper, and glanced at the door. "Just take a minute to calm down. He's just playing power games."

"I know." Boyd sneered. He pivoted as he reached a corner and stalked back toward Sin. "That's what his type does. They think with enough money it's their right to force anyone to do anything they want but it's not. I'm not under his fucking control right now and neither are you. We're our own people and we have the goddamned right to say no."

"We do have the right to say no, and we can." Sin grabbed Boyd's arm, and pulled him closer. "Look, it's just us, okay? I'll think of a way out of this."

"We have to," Boyd said insistently, his gaze still darting around. "I can't do this. I haven't--" I haven't been in a situation like that since the mission. I'm scared I might turn into someone else or have a flashback. "You might--" You might think less of me if you know how I was. You might not love me the same anymore.

Boyd stopped and gripped Sin's arms. "I don't want to do it."

"We can try to find another way." Sin didn't pull away from Boyd, even when Boyd's fingers dug in deeper. Sin's eyes narrowed slightly, and he glanced over his shoulder at the door again. "I'm not going to let anyone fuck with you. You know I won't. We'll bluff him for now, and I'll think of something else. And if this doesn't work, we can see if my father can do something. It might take longer this far from 4FF base, but we can try."

Boyd closed his eyes, drew in a deep breath, and held it. After a moment, he let it out and nodded. "Okay."

"Just relax. It's fine." Sin slid his hand down, and locked their fingers together.

Boyd squeezed his hand and rested his head against Sin's arm. It was amazing how much comfort he could derive from Sin's presence alone. The steady beating of his heart; the scent of his clothing; the gentle pressure of his calloused fingers on his hand. He could already feel his own heartbeat start to slow.

"I know it will be, because you're here." Boyd pressed his forehead a little stronger against Sin's arm and then pulled back so their eyes could meet. "I love you, you know."

"I love you, too." Sin leaned in, and brushed his lips against Boyd's. "Don't worry. No one is going to get between us anymore." They looked at each other for a moment longer before going back out into the main room where Chance was waiting for them.

"Did you come to a decision?"

"Yes. Do you want us to fuck here or at your studio?"

Chance's mouth turned up slightly at the side. "At the studio would be ideal. So we'll get to that part of the contract later. Now let's get to the point. You moved into my building--"

"I didn't realize you owned it," Sin interrupted.

"Right. I had my people look into you because you seemed shady, but they found zero, which shouldn't be the case. It all makes sense now."

Sin stared at him. "Does this story have a point?"

"The point is that both of you are suspicious and probably trouble, and I'm only going along with this out of morbid curiosity. But I don't do things out of the kindness of my heart." Chance folded his arms over his chest again, looking from one to the other. "Most people will tell you that I don't have a heart. I've done terrible things to my own employees, so a long lost brother doesn't mean shit. With that in mind, tell me what else you have to offer me aside from your twink asses."

"We can offer you three million," Boyd said.

There was a brief silence. It seemed like Chance was waiting for one of them to admit that they were bullshitting, but when it didn't happen, he nodded. "I'll take the money and some information, or you both can go to hell."

"What kind of information?" Sin asked.

Chance stood up, and walked over to a large cabinet that held an assortment of liquor. He selected a stout glass and picked up a bottle of Hennessy.

"I know some things," he said as he poured the liquid into the glass. He met Sin's eyes again before replacing the bottle on the shelf.

"But there's blanks, and I don't do business without a full deck of cards. I know you know Adam because Adam knows all kinds of shady people, which is what makes him an amazing asset to my company. But I want to know more. How did you find out about me, what information you have on me, and what you're running from." He picked up the glass.

"We found out about you through government files on Hsin," Boyd replied. "They researched his family and you were listed as his half-brother. They know you're the CEO of Skyn, but also have connections with the gangs in Lexington, and are the sole distributor of Pandora in Lexington and Carson."

"So why come to me?"

"You have the money and possibly the connections to assist us with our plan to escape," Sin said. He didn't move to go further into the apartment, and seemed content to keep a room between his half-brother and him. "The people we work for keep us contained. We don't have the kind of resources that you do."

Chance drained this drink, and smirked. "Good point. It's not like you blend." He went to refill his glass. "So, what are you running from?"

"There's a sector of the government that we've been involved with, and we want to end our employment with them," Boyd said. "They won't let us leave, so we're finding our own way."

"I see."

"If you're not going to do it, just say so. I don't have time for bullshit." Sin looked Chance up and down. "If you're worried about a threat to you as a result of helping us, don't. As far as they know, you and me have no idea that we even live in the same city, let alone the same building. They have no reason to think that we would have been moronic enough to ask a drug dealing, porn director for help."

Chance's expression barely moved. "You're the charming one, I take it. Which one of us takes after our loser father?"

"He's an idiot. So more you than me."

Chance's lip quirked. "Cute." He drained half of the new glass, and walked around the bar. "Let's say I buy into your secret government bullshit story. Why should I care? Three million isn't that much, and I can always find another blond pretty boy and a piece of dulce de leche with green eyes."

Asshole, Boyd thought acidly. He stared stonily out the window to keep the glare from his face.

Sin exhaled slowly, and looked at Boyd briefly before returning his gaze to Chance. He opened his mouth, closed it, and then flexed his fingers. "So then forget making us fuck, and think about this in a different way. I can owe you a much bigger favor. One more consequential to your business."

They looked at each other, and Chance's eyes slid to the door briefly before going back to Sin's face. "What are we talking about here?"

"I'm an assassin. I can kill anyone that you need to be out of your way, and I'm sure you can think of one or two people," Sin said flatly.

Chance ran his tongue over his lower lip. "Anyone?"

"Anyone. For example, the leader of the South Side Boys. Fender. I know he's been trying to edge into your Pandora business, and I know that you can't touch him without an all out war. I can make him disappear, and point the evidence elsewhere."

At that, Chance's eyes narrowed and he looked from Sin to Boyd with keener interest. His lips turned up into a fuller smile. "Now we're talking."

The rest of the meeting was spent going over the logistics of their payment, and the plan itself. When the conversation turned to plotting the demise of the leader of the South Side Boys, Junior came back in but before they could begin talking, Boyd's phone rang. It was a private number. He sent the call to voicemail, but it immediately called again. A thread of anxiety went through him as he wondered if the calls were coming from the Agency. He and Sin decided split up just in case anyone came looking for him.

Leaving Sin to plan with Chance, Boyd left the building entirely in case he was being watched. He checked, but no one left a voicemail. If it had been the Agency, if it had been urgent, they would have contacted him again by now.

He felt restless, and had since the meeting with Chance. He didn't want to go back and interrupt the negotiations, so he took a taxi to finally empty his storage unit of the few possessions he had saved before his house was destroyed. With winter underway, the condo was already black as night by the time he returned home. He unpacked the various items he had hastily thrown together that night over two months ago, putting them into piles based on the topic. Everything related to his dad was spread out to be examined for clues.

He was in the middle of skimming some articles when he got another call from the private number. This time he accepted the call.

"Boyd?" It was Riley's voice. "Don't hang up."

Boyd's eyes narrowed as tension thrummed through him, building on the agitation he'd been feeling since Chance. Over the past few weeks Riley had called him repeatedly, and repeatedly Boyd had ignored it. If Riley had tried to stop by anywhere, he had missed Boyd or not been able to get inside. Apparently Riley had realized this and had switched to an unknown number.

"What do you want?" he asked evenly.

"Didn't you get my messages? I want to meet you."

"You know my house burned down, right? Anything he left me is destroyed." He wondered if Riley knew that was a lie, whether the Journalist Guild had watched him take items out or not.

"Even so. You free tomorrow night? We can meet at Lynette's."

Boyd frowned and swept a stare out across the journals. He had questions, but he didn't trust Riley. He didn't trust anyone in JG. But the questions were about his father. About the Agency. A swell of anger flared up, and Boyd's other hand clenched into a fist. For a moment he couldn't speak but another question popped into his head: If JG had information on Janus, how much did they have on the Agency?

"I'll think about it."

There was a pause. "For how long?"

"As long as I need." Boyd paused and, over Riley's muffled sigh, he spoke. "Was it only him?"

"Was what only him?"

"You know what I mean. Was it only him or were there others?"

There was a bout of silence, and the very distant sound of something: music, people talking, a show-- Boyd couldn't tell with how faint it was. Then: "No one else like that."

Boyd's hand clutched the phone. A red haze briefly overtook the room. The walls seemed closer. It wasn't as easy to breathe.

"Okay," he said at length, forcing his voice to be neutral. "I'll consider your proposal." He hung up before Riley could say anything further.

His father had been the only one in JG to be assassinated. He'd already known that his father had found something; he'd already assumed that it was for that reason he'd been killed. But now he knew for certain-- it wasn't his connection to the Guild that had contributed to his death. It was only because of the Agency.

Boyd dove into the task of perusing his father's journals. He had no idea what he was looking for but he felt compelled. The more he flipped through the entries, the more frustrated he became. His father must have found something important to make the Agency kill him.

He wanted to find it. He needed it, this elusive information that had threatened the Agency's old administration that much.

His movements became sharper; more manic. If only he possessed it, everything would change. If only--

His hand scribbled quickly, notes scrawling across the page as he compiled information from various sources.

December 23, 2000 - first entry, my journal. Christmas. Unrelated?
January 18, 2001 - periodical, Sun Times. Children dying, disease. --War?
January 26, 2001 - journal #6. Truth.
February 7, 2001 - journal #8. Justice.
February 28, 2001 - journal #7. Anger.
March 21, 2001 - periodical, JG. First release. Main article: government contractor responsible for death of children, cover up. Dedication: For the future.
---JG released 3rd Sat every month. Nov 20, 1999, 3rd Saturday--

He wrote increasingly quickly-- noting confluences, conspiracies, coincidences-- anything that stood out to him, anything that overlapped, anything that might tell him what had happened. He read through the whole journal Cedrick had dedicated to him again, flipping through earmarked passages, going faster and faster and barely keeping the pages from ripping.

That's when he saw it-- the words that had never made sense until now.

The general's grave.

The door rattled.

Boyd's heart leapt and he spun into a crouch; one hand drawing his gun and the other splayed back to protect the journals. He didn't have time to hide them or escape. Sudden fury made his vision quake. The Agency-- they knew. They knew he'd taken his father's journals, they were coming for him the way they had for his father.

He wouldn't let them. Kill them, he'd kill--

The door swung open. His heartbeat jackhammered inside his chest; his throat and heart were ice cold.

Sin entered the penthouse, his eyebrows raising slightly when he saw Boyd.

A harsh jolt of breath escaped Boyd. He forced himself to unclench his fingers and holster his gun. Even so, tension buzzed through him. Was Sin followed? Were they watching? How would he know what was being recorded, what wasn't?

"What's wrong?" Sin asked. His eyes swept the room, taking in the scattered journals and papers, before focusing on Boyd again. "Who did you think I was?"

"Them," Boyd spat out. "The Agency."

"I see." Sin crossed the room, his eyes not moving from Boyd's. "Well, they're not here. It's just me. We're fine."

Boyd tried to focus on the information but the flash of black beneath Sin's jacket was just like the Agency body armor. He saw movement from the corner of his eye and jerked his head around to see-- out on the balcony. He turned fully, gaze darting quickly across the expanse of glass overtaking the entire wall. Windows everywhere. If they used binoculars or hyperzoom cameras, they could have been documenting everything. They would know that he knew.

"Boyd. There's no one here. It's just us." Sin put his hands on each of Boyd's shoulders. "Look at me."

Boyd barely felt the touch. Outside he could see the dark of the woods in the distance, and even though it wasn't visible from here he knew exactly where the Tower was-- a black shadow against the sky. The country had a disease and the Agency was its wound.

"We could do it, Hsin," Boyd mumbled, the words falling over themselves. "We could do it."

His eyes fell on the journals spread out on the floor; pages wide open and scrawled with so much damning evidence. "Don't you see? If we just leave, they'll still have the power. And they'll misuse it. They're government; it's all they do. They could never be trusted, we never should have trusted them. They're a disease that spreads with every minute, every generation."

He gripped Sin's wrists, searching his eyes. "But we could do it, Hsin. We could show them that oppression leads to revolution."

"Okay, stop." Sin leaned down slightly so that they were eye level. "What would happen if we decided to go on some crusade against the Agency and the people we care about are still there? I don't know, and you don't know. So stop. You're repeating Janus propaganda and we both know why."

Boyd's eyebrows dragged together. What was wrong with sounding like Janus? They were the ones fighting to right all the wrongs. Kassian, Carhart, Emilio... any of them. Their lives meant nothing compared to the cause. They should be so lucky to die for it.

The second the thought crossed his mind, he froze.

His heart felt gripped by ice and he released Sin as if he'd been burned. He stepped back, breaking Sin's hold on him. For a moment he could only stare at Sin in horror, his heart beating faster in his chest.

"Have I--" He stopped. "Have I done that before?"

"Yes. Sometimes. It's not usually that blatant, but it's there. I could even see it when you were in the medwing, the way you looked at the Agency staff." Sin paused, still watching Boyd carefully. "Look, don't get upset. It's... not unexpected. You were already harboring bad feelings about the Agency. We both were. We all are. It probably made you susceptible. To the brainwashing. So even if they didn't finish..."

Boyd ran a slightly shaky hand through his hair and looked away. "For a second, I thought it would be worth it. Even if they had to die."

Sin watched him closely for a moment before reaching out and pulling Boyd close. "But we both know that's not how you really feel."

Boyd wrapped his arms around Sin and pressed his face against his chest. He breathed in his scent and tried to calm down. He'd thought he had everything under control by now. He'd thought the dreams he still had didn't matter because he didn't act on them when awake.

He could feel Sin's heart beating; the strength of his arms encircling him. For the second time that day, he took solace in Sin's presence. It was the only place where he felt truly safe; where the demons in his mind couldn't haunt him as clearly.

He felt so tired and, if he was honest, a little frightened. Sometimes, he didn't even know who he was anymore. Sometimes, he was afraid everything he'd been would be swept away by the enemy-- and, worse than anything, he didn't even know who the true enemy was anymore.

"I just want to go," he muttered into Sin's shirt. "I just want to get away from here."

"We will. Soon. And if we get killed getting the fuck out of here, at least we'll be together." Sin tilted Boyd's head up and pressed a kiss against his lips. "You're fine. If the worst they did is make you hate the Agency more, then that's not too bad. What brought this on, anyway?"

Boyd grimaced faintly and pressed a hand against his temple. "I don't know..." He tried to remember where his thoughts might have skewed away from reality but everything he'd imagined and felt seemed as real as anything else. "I already felt tense because of that bullshit with Chance, and then--" He straightened. "Riley. It was Riley. He called, and for some reason it made me..." He gestured to himself and trailed off.

There was a brief silence before Sin asked, "What did he want?"

"To meet tomorrow."

For a moment there was silence between them. They looked at each other, and Sin's fingers slid up until they skimmed under Boyd's shirt and pressed against the smooth skin. His thumb brushed his own name burned into Boyd's back.

"Don't go. I know you want to know things about your father, but we're so close to being free. And we don't know these people."

Boyd's hands flexed on Sin's shoulders. Arguments for why contacting them would be good ran through his mind, but they fell silent soon enough.


Sin raised his eyebrows. "That's it? Just 'okay'?"

"I found something, right before you came in. It might lead to answers without having to contact them. Besides," he added with a grimace as his fingers brushed the ends of Sin's hair, "between the two of us, you're not the one who was just convinced that our friends should die for Janus. My guess is right now your arguments are more valid anyway."

"Convinced is a strong word. You snapped out of it fast. Give yourself some credit." Sin pressed his fingers against Boyd's shoulder. "Now, show me what you found. If you can figure this out without adding more assholes to the pot, I'll help anyway I can."

Boyd flashed a small, weary smile and then turned. "I found it in the journal he'd dedicated to me..."

He dug through the mess he'd made on the living room floor until he found the right notebook. He flipped through the pages as Sin looked on, and continued: "There was something he mentioned in the last entry that didn't make sense at first. Here: 'If you ever feel uncertain, remember the general's grave. That should give you what you need to begin anew.'"

Sin crouched beside Boyd on the floor, looking at the notebook over his shoulder. "Who's the general?"

"That's what I wondered, too... There are a lot of generals' graves in and around Lexington and none of them seemed significant. But then I remembered-- when I was a kid, he used to sing me a song about General Whiskers, a mouse who came out when everyone was asleep. The last time he ever sang me that song, we were in a cemetery."

He looked over his shoulder at Sin with a thrill of anticipation moving up his spine. "I think he might have left something for me there."

The look Sin gave him was skeptical, but despite the raised brow and slight twist of his lips, he just nodded. "If you want to check it out, we should do it now."

Boyd nodded, and went to get his coat. When they got outside, they hopped on Sin's motorbike. It had started to rain; a cold drizzle that made Boyd cinch his arms tightly around Sin to trap their body heat.

It was a short ride out to the old Silver Lake Cemetery, which, despite the overgrown trees surrounding it, still looked well-manicured inside the boundaries of the wrought iron fencing. The few lights that were on were dim and occasionally flickered, lending a spooky quality to shadows that jumped and twisted along the ground at every breath of wind. Rainwater collected beneath their shoes and left footprints briefly pressed into the ground.

Boyd had brought a flashlight with him that he cast across the cemetery, the light alternatively catching on gravestones and falling to stretch wide across the dying grass. As they moved further into the cemetery the wind picked up, casting the rain at abrupt angles to the accompaniment of distant howls.

In the gloom, it took awhile for Boyd to remember where they had been.

It had been nearly twenty years since Boyd's father had last brought him here, his large hand encompassing Boyd's as they'd trekked across the grass on a bright, sunny day. Strange details stood out from his memory: a huge white building that had loomed over him, and sad angels carved into the stone. Red flowers encircling the building, and words above the door. A name? He couldn't remember what it had said, just that he'd seen letters.

It must have been a mausoleum, but there were several of them scattered across the large cemetery. Boyd vaguely remembered walking up a huge hill, and a glittering blue lake nearby. When he relayed the details to Sin, whose eyesight was far better normally and particularly in inclement weather that nearly blinded Boyd, they finally were able to locate what seemed the closest thing to his memory.

As a seven year old, everything had seemed so huge. What had been a tall hill, an expansive lake, and a towering building turned out to be a small mausoleum on a little knoll near a pond. They approached the front of it, trudging through wind and water spraying against their jackets. Boyd swept the flashlight across the building to be sure this was it.

Above the door, he saw the name Souris engraved into the stone. He couldn't help a sound caught somewhere between a snort and short laughter. Sin looked over and, upon seeing his smile, peered up at the structure.

"What is it?"

"My dad," Boyd said with a shake of his head. "He just..." He gestured at the mausoleum, trying to figure out how to put into words all the little things his dad had always done. The sense of humor and playfulness Boyd remembered infusing a lot of their interactions, and the way he'd made inside jokes that Boyd was starting to get now that he was older. Things that had seemed lost to memory until moments like this happened.

"Souris means 'mouse' in French," he said instead. "This is it."

"So are breaking into this mausoleum?" Sin asked. He pointed at the lock and chain on the outer gate. "Wouldn't be one of the weirdest things we've done together, I guess."

Boyd snorted. "Not by a long shot." He stepped up to the wrought iron gate and rattled it experimentally. The chain looked rusted and the lock was a simple padlock. "Looks like we'll have to. Can you hold this?"

He handed Sin his flashlight, and then pulled out the set of lockpicks he'd brought in case of such an event. It didn't take long to compromise the lock, unwind the chain that was bitingly cold to the touch, and pull open the gates with a screech that was quieted by the rain. But when he tried the heavy, intricately carved wooden doors, they didn't budge. Light fell across a heavy-duty lock when Sin turned the flashlight on the door. Boyd shoved wet hair out of his eyes and looked back at his lover.

"I don't think my picks will work on that."

"I see where this is going." Shaking his head, Sin sighed and moved closer to the lock. He flexed his fingers, looked at Boyd, and then wrapped his hands around it. He gave a little tug, paused and then braced his foot against the door. The metal squealed but it was slick from the rain, and slipped from his hands.

He let it go, stopped, and glared at the lock. After a moment, he eyeballed the wooden door instead. "If I get arrested, it's your fault."

Boyd gave him a roguish smile. "Don't worry, baby, I'll bail you out."

Sin scoffed, and then shifted his stance and slammed his boot into the door. It creaked, and he repeated the action, this time causing the door to burst inward. The drone of rain fell away as they stepped inside, replaced by distant pattering on the roof. Boyd shoved the door shut as much as possible.

"Impressive," Sin said as the beam of light moved over the inside. "An empty mausoleum."

The room was small and it looked a bit like a setting for a horror movie. It didn't appear to have been touched in years, with nothing more than a cement floor and blank walls, and empty spiderwebs strewn in corners. Dust covered the floor. The wall opposite the door had four marble faceplates. Boyd moved his light across it and approached. Each of the plates was blank save for what seemed to be initials in the center:





Boyd walked to the one marked G.W., put the flashlight in his mouth to keep the light on the plate, and ran his hands around the edge. As he worked, Sin turned and stood by the door. He looked out into the cemetery, staying to the shadows so that he wasn't framing the entrance.

When Boyd was finished checking the G.W. plate, he checked the others. It was just cold enough that his fingertips were starting to lose feeling as he worked. Still, he noticed something he'd suspected he might find. Returning to G.W., he pried on the plate but he didn't have good enough leverage or enough strength.

He dropped the flashlight into his palm with the wash of light safely aimed away from the door.

"The one marked G.W. feels loose. Can you help me get it off?"

Sin gripped the plate and yanked. He'd barely pulled before it abruptly broke in half. Sin and Boyd both stared at the piece of stone in Sin's hand, and then down when another large piece crashed to the floor. There was a beat of silence before Boyd spoke conversationally:

"Remember that time you asked me whether I get off on how strong you are? I do, but if this ever happens to me, we'll have a whole different story."

"Shut up."

Inside the crypt, they found a small black safe. Boyd felt his heart skip a beat at the sight-- for as much as he'd thought his father had left him something, he hadn't known whether he was reading too much into the clues. They took the safe and returned the mausoleum to its original state as best they could before returning to the condo.

Once they were safe inside the penthouse, they set to work opening the safe. In the end, they had to force it open as well-- if his father had left him a key, it had likely been lost in the fire. A plastic bag protecting its contents was the first thing Boyd saw inside the safe; and the second was the handwritten note taped onto it, with yellowed paper:

For my son.

It was the same handwriting he'd spent hours poring over, filling his father's journals.

This was it.

Boyd pulled everything out of the safe. It was a mixture of papers, a notebook, what looked to be a police evidence bag, and an old drive that he would have to find a compatible computer to use. He did a cursory flip through the documents, and then stopped when he saw two sheets in particular: two copies of Vanguard Industries' founding document from two different years.

The first was a photocopy. It was dated 1987, and listed Simon Pinney, Terry Morgan, and John Claremont as the founders. The next document was exactly the same as the first, except it was a clearer copy with an official stamp on it, from 1988, and the founding names now read Terry Morgan, John Claremont, Christopher Duclos, and William Delano.

On the second sheet there was a note attached in his father's handwriting that said: ex.1, only in library. ex.2, official, no indication of original document. Why did the names change?

And another note of:

accepting criminals? prison

On an attached note, the names Terry Morgan and John Claremont were circled multiple times in red, with Claremont underlined. A note next to it appeared to be a case number. On the side of the note was Simon Pinney's name followed by a question mark.

Boyd frowned.

"What is it?" Sin asked, but Boyd shook his head and grabbed his secure tablet with renewed fervor.

His fingers flew across the screen, the windows appearing and disappearing quickly as he accessed information from secure databases using tricks Ryan had taught him. "These names. I recognize..." He flicked his gaze between the documents on the screen and those spread out in front of him.

"When I was looking into his assassination, I read a lot of the wartime personnel directories. These two," he shoved the papers so Sin could see them better and pressed his finger down by the names, "Morgan and Claremont-- they're aliases for a 7 and an 8, James Hoffman and Peter Bassano. I bet you Duclos and Delano are empties created as misleads for anyone looking into it. But this name," he pointed to Simon Pinney, "I remember seeing somewhere..."

Boyd fell silent briefly, his eyes narrowing. "Can you check the earlier directories? I need to see something."

While Sin skimmed the personnel files, Boyd accessed the file Ivan had sent him. It took awhile to load and during that time Sin verified a few key facts, namely that Simon Pinney had been the Marshal in the late 1980's and beginning of the 1990's. At that point, his name disappeared entirely off the personnel records.

The amount of information Ivan had compiled was nearly overwhelming, although well organized. For the moment, Boyd ignored the majority of it and looked only for Simon Pinney. That didn't get him anywhere useful so he started reading through other sections of information.

One file in particular made him freeze as information clicked in his mind. He stared at the screen with widened eyes.

"Jesus," Boyd said lowly; dread mixed with awe. "I know why they killed him. He found out who runs the Agency."

Continue to Fade Chapter 38...