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 38

Uploaded on 1/5/2013

"Gwyneth," Ryan said triumphantly. His eyes crinkled at the sides as a smile stretched across his face. When three sets of blank stares focused on him, he rolled his eyes. "She's the key."

"To...?" Emilio nodded encouragingly, inclining his head like he was trying to coax an animal to approach him.

"To the great beyond," Owen said ominously. He raised his eyebrows and wiggled his fingers. "To the end of the line on Mystery Express. To graduating past WWJD, What Would Janus Do?, to the more important question of W3D, What Will We Do? To--"

"To ending Janus once and for all," Jeffrey cut Owen off, shooting him an annoyed look.

Owen huffed and threw his hands in the air. "Way to ruin the moment, dude! Moment killer! The blood of my dramatic sentences is on your hands." His eyebrows furrowed and he cocked his head. "Are? 'Are' on your hands?" He looked around at the others expectantly. "C'mon guys, where's the grammar Nazi among us?"

Jeffrey scoffed.

"Wow." Bex stared at them before turning her dark eyes to Sin. "I can't say I'm not thrilled to be finished with this lot once the mission is through."

"Heh." Ryan flipped her off, and rolled his eyes. When Carhart gave him a stern, slightly impatient stare, Ryan sighed. "Fine. Moving forward. Boyd helped us put together the JG goldmine with the Agency data we've compiled over the past million years of working on Janus, and the data that you guys picked up from Arizona, and it all started coming together."

Carhart nodded, although his eyes were focused on the window and not on Ryan. "Go on."

Leaning forward with his forearms on the table, Ryan looked between Owen and Jeffrey as if to see if he should lead the explanation.

"Go ahead, little bespectacled buddy," Owen said with a gracious nod and spread of his hands. "I know no moments will be murdered on your watch."

"There's this video we've been using for ages with Rank 10 training. It shows this kid going off on an anti-US rant while code scrolls in the background. Boyd said that during his training he was nearly obsessed with cracking it, and that it took forever for him to do it. Anyway, the cipher key was the name Gwyneth, but the coded information didn't seem significant. They didn't know what any of it meant. For a long time it seemed like this pointless puzzle, but in the JG goldmine, we finally found a link to that video. JG connected Gwyneth to the death of an undergraduate student back when the anti-government protests first started getting really ugly."

"And?" Bex looked bored as she scratched at the table with her fingernail.

Ryan speared her with a cold look. "And, she'd been killed during an anti-war protest but it was covered up because it was a peaceful protest that got out of hand when they tried to break it up. To retaliate, some group attacked the Rose Parade in California a week later. Somehow JG found the link between that video and the girl, Amelie Gwyneth Monroe, who went to UC Berkeley. And from there, they found out that she'd been a part of this really radical extremist left-wing group."

"So you're telling me..." Bex trailed off. "What are you telling me?"

"Oh my fuck, shut up!" Ryan snapped. "You're worse than Hsin."

Sin raised his eyebrows. "I don't know what I feel about that."

"Just get to the point," Jeffrey said impatiently. "Or I will for you."

"Fine. Long story short, once we had the list of the people in that group, we cross referenced the names to everything we already had and the info from Arizona, and a lot of matches started to form. The names of kids in the Berkeley group were scattered in bank accounts and other information in files downloaded from the research facility. Sometimes it was just first names, or combinations of names as aliases, but there were too many coincidences. The Janus founders were all present and accounted for in that group."

When Ryan stopped talking, they all looked at each other for a moment as the information sunk in. The identities of the Janus founders were present and accounted for after many years.

"What now?" Sin asked, breaking the silence.

"Now we go get them," Carhart said simply. "With their names and faces, we've managed to track them."

The next several minutes were spent going over the logistics of the plan. Their unit and two other units would engage in a three-pronged assault on the Janus founders, their seconds in command and some lower-tiered lieutenants. They would decapitate the organization completely, leaving the underlings to scramble in confusion.

When they had gone over the logistics, Ryan looked up from his panel. His fingers had curled around it slightly as he looked at each member of the team. "So this is it. This is the end of it."

Sin met Ryan's eyes, but didn't say anything.

"This is it," Emilio said. He hadn't look at Sin throughout the entire briefing, but he did now. His gaze lingered, his fingers tightening briefly on the panel, before his green eyes skewed away.

"So let's fucking do it, then," Bex said, pushing her chair back. "I'm sick of these Janus cunts."

Jeffrey nodded and slid his tablet into his briefcase.

Owen threw out a hand just as Jeffrey and Bex were about to stand. "Hold up there, pardners! This is a monumental moment. If this goes right, there's no more Janus to dink around with. It's kind of weird, right? Like we're losing our mortal enemies. Arch-nemeses no more. What are we gonna do afterward? Shouldn't we say some words or set up the most bad ass happy hour ever for when we get back or something?"

"You know I'm always down for a happy hour, Red," Emilio drawled as he got to his feet.

This time, his gaze did not stray to Sin. Carhart's did, though. Because if things went according to plan, this would be the last time they saw Sin at the Agency.

"Maybe," Sin said vaguely. Ryan gave him a slight smile, and then stood without a word.

Owen eyed everyone. "Well, alright then," he said dubiously as he stood. He pointed an accusatory finger at each of them in turn. "I'm holding you people to this, and of course we're going to make the Boydlet come too, right?" He speared Sin with a pointed look and then went on without waiting for a reply. "At the end of that night, someone is going to go home mortified. It's not a proper happy hour without someone taking it too far."

Jeffrey rolled his eyes. Owen must have noticed because he glanced at him sidelong, started to look away, then turned to him fully.

"Something you wanna say, Jeffsterlicious?"

"Only that I doubt any of us honestly expected we'd be able to rid ourselves of you that easily. You're like a fungus." He closed his briefcase with force and narrowed his eyes. "And don't call me Jeffsterlicious. Or any of the thousand other nicknames you constantly seem to invent in your free time."

Jeffrey left before Owen could reply, so the R&D agent just shrugged instead and turned a grin on the field agents. "Well, go kick some Janus ass for us desk huggers, then come back with vastly embellished tales we can hear in varying accents and impressions. I'm looking at you, Senior."

Emilio smirked and thudded a hand against Owen's back as he followed Bex to the door. His low murmur and the sound of Owen replying in what sounded like a heavy, Mexican accent was abruptly cut off when the door shut behind them.

Ryan walked to the door slowly, his face drawn and faint efforts at smiling failing. He paused by the head of the table, looked down at Carhart and the way the general was staring down at the table, and then at Sin again.

"I'll really miss you."

Sin opened his mouth to reply, not knowing what to say, but was saved when Ryan abruptly stepped forward and hugged him. It was awkward at first, and Sin stood there with his arms dangling at his sides.

"I'll miss you and Boyd so much." Ryan pulled back reluctantly, his lips pursed together. "I'm happy you're getting out. But still."

A crooked smile curled Sin's mouth up, and he released Ryan from the awkward hug. Taking a step back, he slid his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "You'll have Trovosky to keep you company."

Ryan's eyes narrowed at that, and he twisted around to stare at Carhart briefly. A slight flush had risen on the younger man's face. "Whatever. I'll find a way to talk to you guys. Somehow."

It wasn't true. If things went according to plan, no one would be able to find them. But Sin didn't say that, and Ryan didn't say it. They looked at each other briefly before Ryan gave a single nod and turned to hurry out of the room.

Sin knew he should have said more. Done more. But as usual, words had failed him. He shook his head, and took a step closer to where Carhart was still sitting at the table.

"I have to go."

"I know."

Sin stared at Carhart, eyebrows drawing together. The other man wasn't looking at him. He was sitting stiffly and staring down at a shut-off tablet.

Sin stood by the table for a moment, waiting for something and not knowing what, before shaking his head and starting for the door. Something tugged at his chest, something sharp, something that made it tight, but he didn't know what it was. He couldn't identify it at all until a strong, warm hand grabbed his wrist and pulled him back.

"Sin, wait," Carhart said, voice gruff.

Wordlessly, Sin stopped and looked at the general again. Carhart stood and finally met Sin's eyes.

"I don't know how to do this."

"Do what?" Sin asked. He pulled his arm back, but Carhart didn't let go.

"I don't know how to say goodbye to you. I won't see you again. And I can't..." Carhart's voice dropped lower before he stopped speaking completely. His throat worked for a moment before he dragged his eyes away briefly to focus on some point on the wall.

"You can't what?"

"I can't do this. It's too hard." Carhart looked at Sin miserably, and released a low sigh. His eyes were bloodshot, and his mouth tightened into a thin line as he stared. Swallowing again, Carhart's brows pushed together as his mouth sank. "This is too fucking hard."

The knot in Sin's chest unraveled some, and he realized it had been something close to disappointment. Somehow Carhart's pain pushed it away.

"You could come.You and my father. It's not safe for you here, anyway."

"I know. But I can't. Who will keep an eye out when they start going after you? What about Ryan and Vivienne?" Carhart shook his head slightly. "My place is here until I have no choice."

"That's fucking stupid. Your place is not here. I don't have a good feeling about you staying."

Carhart gave Sin a wan smile. "Neither do I."

Sin's eyes narrowed. He wanted to yell at the general to stop being such a moron and just go with them. Just disappear. Stop waiting, stop trying to do the right thing. But he just stood silently and stared. Once again he couldn't find the right words to say.

For the second time someone pulled Sin into a hug, but this time it was less awkward. This time he closed his eyes when Carhart's muscular arms wrapped around him and crushed him against his broad, solid chest.

"I love you, Hsin. So fucking much."

Carhart's voice was choked, thick, and Sin knew he was crying. He raised a hand and placed it between Carhart's shoulder blades, and turned his face slightly against the older man's neck. Somehow this was more comforting. More familiar. Even though they'd never really hugged before.

"I know."

A low chuckle escaped Carhart, and he pulled back to press a kiss to Sin's forehead. They looked at each other again, and Carhart stepped back.

"Take care of Boyd. Let him take care of you."

"I will."

"Be safe."

Sin inclined his head and finally, reluctantly, headed to the door. "You too."

He stopped walking with his hand on the doorknob. It was cool beneath his fingers, but Carhart's gaze burned into his back like it had so many times in the past. All of the arguments, disappointments, the rare good moments that mixed in with all of the bad. All of the times that Carhart had tried to reach out. All of the times Sin had pushed him away. It all rushed back, and Sin found himself staring blankly at the door.

"You..." he trailed off, frowned slightly. "If you let them hurt you, I'll come back. I'll kill them all."

There was another soft laugh behind him. "I know. I know you would. I know you love me."

Sin looked over his shoulder, eyes narrowed and locked with Carhart's. He nodded curtly, turned, and finally walked out the door.

Boyd knocked quietly on Carhart's door and wasn't terribly surprised when Emilio opened the door. The senior Vega stepped aside to let him in, and Boyd glanced around. He didn't see Carhart anywhere in the vicinity.

"Hey," Boyd greeted him once they were both in the living room.

"He'll be out in a minute. Just getting his shit together. You know?" Emilio smoothed a hand through his black hair. He looked agitated, and was already wearing his body armor for the mission. "He's a fucking wreck."

Boyd nodded and sat on the couch's arm. "How are you faring?"

"I'm fine," Emilio said flatly. "Are you ready?"

"Almost. I have to do a few things still."

Emilio nodded. He rolled his shoulders before crossing his arms over his chest. He was fidgeting, a Vega indicator of nervousness. "Well if either of you fuck this up, I'll kill you myself. It has to be perfect, you understand?"

"It will be," Boyd assured him. "There's no way I'm letting anything get in the way of this."

He glanced down the hall where he thought he could hear Carhart moving around, then turned his gaze back on Emilio. "Hsin will be okay. Even if they catch us, they'll kill me but they'll bring him back safe. If that happens, I know you'll find a way to help him."

"Why don't you just shut the fuck up with that bullshit," Emilio said sharply. "Try not to be a fucking failure and not die."

"I won't, not if I have any say in it." Boyd shook his head, his lips pulling darkly to the side. "They'll have a hell of a fight on their hands if they think they'll take me away from him. I just don't want you worrying about your son. He'll be safe-- even if he wasn't capable enough on his own, I won't let anyone touch him as long as I'm alive."

Carhart entered the room, pale-faced with red-rimmed eyes. "I wish there was a way to keep in contact," he said, obviously having overheard the conversation.

"There's not," Emilio said curtly.

Carhart shot the other man a look. "I know there's not. But I wish there was." They stared at each other for a moment, and Carhart shook his head before turning to Boyd fully. "Do you need anything from me? Is there anything I can do to help?"

"No," Boyd said with a shake of his head. "Just be safe. I hate leaving you two behind."

Carhart nodded slightly, and looked away. "I know. I just spoke to Sin. He suggested that we come. Emilio and me." At that, Emilio looked up with raised eyebrows. "I told him we can't but it's hard. This hurts. Losing you both."

"If you enacted your plan today, we could all disappear together and no one would be in danger."

Carhart didn't say anything to that, but he and Emilio exchanged glances again. When they looked away from each other, Emilio cleared his throat.

"I need to get going. You better watch your ass, Blondie. If you get yourself or my boy killed, I'll fuck you up."

"Well, you're certainly more frightening than the Agency so we'll be sure to be careful," Boyd said dryly.

Emilio narrowed his eyes and reached out to shove Boyd's shoulder. "Don't fuck around. I'm serious."

"I know. I'm sorry." Boyd's gaze strayed briefly to take in Carhart's apartment before righting itself on Emilio. "I don't want to leave either of you. It feels less real if we act like we'll see each other again even if we won't."

"I'll find my son," Emilio said automatically. "And I guess you'll be there too."

Boyd smirked at that. "Thanks. Good to know I factor into your ten year plan."

"Shut up."

A slight smile had also crossed Carhart's mouth as he watched Emilio and Boyd. "He wants to hug you."

"Shut the fuck up."

"You do."

Emilio made a face, and jerked Boyd forward abruptly. He wrapped an arm around him and pulled him close.

The surprise Boyd felt at that quickly gave way to a strange, sharp twinge in his chest. He didn't care that Emilio might make fun of him for it, he turned and gave Emilio a full, strong hug.

"Hey," he said against Emilio's shoulder. "I'm glad you were a creepy stalker in Monterrey. It means I got to meet you."

Emilio froze with his fingers digging into Boyd, but then drew back quickly. The look on his face was unreadable, but his mouth had tightened into a line. "I have to go," he said again.

Boyd nodded and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Will you promise me two things? First, that you'll watch out for each other the way Hsin and I will..."

"What's the other?" Carhart asked, eyebrows raising.

"That you'll remember this code. I was thinking, somewhere down the line we might need to contact each other for an emergency. 4FF worked to alert you about Emilio," Boyd turned his gaze from Carhart to both of them, "so what if we decided on our own code to disseminate in the underground if we need to catch each other's attention? I was thinking 20LM-- the year Hsin and I went to Monterrey, and the first letters of the cities where we met each of you."

"That's a surprisingly good idea," Emilio said. He nodded his approval.

"I agree," Carhart added. There was some relief in his face, as if the idea hadn't even occurred to him before.

"Okay." Boyd felt a wave of relief as well-- this way they still had a lifeline to each other. No matter what happened, they could still connect.

"Aiight." Emilio nodded at Boyd, and shifted to the door. "Remember what I said, Boyd."

"I will."

Emilio looked at Boyd one last time, and then stepped out of the apartment.

When Carhart and Boyd were left alone, for a moment they both watched the closed door before turning to each other. They talked for a short time, in part saying the things they may never get to say again and in part just prolonging the moment. It grew harder to say goodbye as time passed, and in the end they parted as simply as they could.

As Boyd left Carhart's building and passed through the cool open air, it hit him how this would all be gone when he woke up tomorrow.

He would never see his hometown again. He would never see his friends or remaining family members. All the places he knew-- Killian's, Grover Books, even Crater Lake-- they would become nothing more than a memory, along with all the people connected to them.

He would be giving everything up in his life, every modicum of stability, but he would be getting something far greater in return: a life with Sin.

Even if he hadn't been certain Seong would kill him the second Janus was destroyed, he still would have fled. He could never truly live without knowing when his lover could be taken from him, never knowing what they'd be forced to do or when he himself would be killed.

Still, passing through the courtyard and automatically looking for familiar faces, Boyd felt a strong sense of loss.

He was going to miss this. He was going to miss them.

But that was the way it went anytime a person was on the precipice of change. The fear of the future mixed with the loss of the past. At those times, all a person could do was step forward.

When the jet landed in Nova Scotia, Emilio, Bex and Sin deplaned and hurried across the tarmac. It was windy, and Sin could hear the pilot shouting at them that he was leaving with or without them if they didn't make the pickup time. The words were nearly lost on the wind, but Emilio gave his son a significant look when he caught the gist.

The mission, despite being the most important one they'd ever had, was straightforward.

Janus had perfected the art of invisibility, but their method of hiding was flawed. When it came down to it, they were just civilians who had cobbled together an empire of rebels. They had learned to be calculating and merciless because of the war and the fallout with the government that had followed. They weren't trained to be emotionless and isolated. So they kept forged bonds, and managed to maintain their core group throughout the entire Janus initiative.

The last part was their undoing. There were four of them, and they'd remained friends throughout the years. Charlotte Greer, Sebastian Rowe, John Arber, and Quentin Parr.

They didn't trust anyone but each other. Due to that, after traveling the world and being constantly on the run, they'd settled in Halifax together three years ago. Greer and Rowe lived together, but John and Quentin lived elsewhere in the city.

Jeffrey had analyzed the data in multiple ways to ensure that this was the location for all four of them. It had seemed unlikely. Too easy. He'd doubted it, but he couldn't disprove it. Everything pointed to Halifax, and recon missions had confirmed it.

The plan was for Sin, Emilio and Bex to split up. One agent per location with Sin at the most heavily secured and armed. They would kill the power, strike simultaneously, and take the targets out. At that point, the Agency would deploy other agents globally to rush the bases and locations of other Janus leaders.

"Watch your ass," Emilio said gruffly as they paused at the edge of the runway. He watched as Bex disappeared, running inhumanly fast through the darkness.

"You too. You've been sitting in the van too long. Maybe you got sloppy."

Emilio made a face and reached out, shoving Sin's shoulder with his gloved hand. "Shut up, punk."

Sin's lips twisted slightly. Not quite a smile. Not quite anything.

He knew he should be backing away and sprinting in the opposite direction, but he felt rooted to the spot. He couldn't take his eyes away from his father, or the way the wind was whipping the fine, black hair away from his eyes. The same green as his own but wider, rounder, more expressive.

"Go," Emilio said. He pushed his fingers against Sin's shoulder again.

Sin didn't move, and Emilio tilted his head to the side. He searched his son's face, and then shook his head slightly before releasing a soft laugh.

"Go, kid. Get this shit done." There was a pause, and then he said quieter: "I'll find you. I promise."

"How?" Sin asked automatically. His eyebrows drew together, and he wrapped his hand around the grips of his rifle. "How will you find me?"

"I have my ways. I'm lo más chingon, ain't I?"

Sin's mouth finally crooked into a full smile. "You are."

"Aiight then. Have some faith and get your ass going, boy."

They looked at each other for a long moment before Sin inclined his head, turned, and broke into a run.

The sky grew darker, like storm clouds rolling in. Boyd stood before the entrance to a building; no doors to disrupt the pitch black inside.

"Help me!" a woman screamed frantically. "Help, somebody please help!"

The unmistakable crack of gunfire; the woman's scream cutting off.

A scream to his left, now-- a man's, sounding vaguely familiar. Begging that rose in pitch and hysteria. "No, no-- I didn't do anything-- money! I only gave--"

Gunshots a staccato crescendo, overwhelming his senses. Boyd looked back and forth, trying to catch movement of the enemy through the adrenaline-spike of his pounding heartbeat.

He saw blood flying in a fatal arc, splattering against the outer wall, splashing back from the windows. The stench of death surrounded him and he felt people moving all around-- encircling him. Predators. The glow of eyes like an animal's, but they were human. The black of Agency body armor, and the glint of light off an Agency-issued gun. Here and gone-- where were they?

Where were they?

A sickening chill clenched his throat and stomach. The same urging that had been in the back of his mind for weeks grew deafening:

It's them. They did it. They did everything. You can't trust them. Kill-- run-- run-- kill, kill, kill--

"Hey," a voice snapped irritably.

Boyd stopped, heartbeat shuddering and disorientation making the darkness spin.

He was standing in the middle of a bright, if chilly, day. The wide doors of the Tower encased him. He felt a distant pain he couldn't initially place.

A woman was glaring at him, holding a bag close against her chest. Boyd's mind automatically assessed her; catching details like the scent of perfume, the tinge of lipstick, and the nametag just peeking out beneath her arms.


"Mind moving?" she demanded impatiently. "I know you agents think you're God's gift to mankind but some of us have things to do."

"What..?" Boyd asked blankly.

She looked pointedly down, and when Boyd followed her gaze he saw that he was gripping the door handle so hard that his knuckles were white. He stood in the middle of the doorway, partially blocking entrance and exit. His body felt like it wasn't entirely his to control.

He released the door as if it burned, and removed his other hand from beneath his jacket. Where it had been gripping the smooth contours of his gun.

"Sorry," he muttered as he stepped aside. "I got distracted."

The loud snort she gave was full of all the derision she didn't bother voicing. She was gone before he'd managed to step inside.

He felt shaken as he strode into the Tower.

How close had he come to losing everything in the hours before he escaped? And what had happened to trigger it this time? He knew now that this had happened multiple times, even before Sin had pointed it out to him. When he was alone, when things skewed, but he hadn't always realized it hadn't been real.

His gaze darted around the Tower as he walked. People moved around him like water in a river. It seemed too bright inside; colors strangely enhanced. Was it real even now? Had he fully snapped out of it or did he only think he had? He couldn't even trust his own mind anymore.

His hands flexed at his sides, clenching and unclenching as he walked.

You can feel this, he told himself. This is real.

I could feel it when it wasn't real, too, he countered darkly in his mind.

On his way to Shapiro's, he did his best to ignore the part of him that noted the weaknesses of every Agency employee who passed him. How easy it would be to steal weapons from the Artillery and make these fuckers pay. Every single one of them.

Shapiro was already in the waiting room when he arrived, even though Boyd was five minutes early. The psychiatrist looked at Boyd sharply, then behind him, and back to him again.

"Jennifer," Shapiro said with a glance at his watch. "You've missed your lunch hour again."

His assistant didn't look up from studying something on her screen. "I did," she said with a faint frown, "but these files you gave me need more updating than we thought. I've been at it all morning." Her fingers flew across the keyboard.

"It would be easier for you to concentrate elsewhere. Take your lunch break and work from home for the rest of the day." Shapiro's tone, while not unkind, didn't leave room for argument.

Jennifer's eyebrows rose. This time she did look up, and incredulously at that. "Sir...?"

Shapiro's lips lifted slightly in the closest thing to fondness that Boyd had ever seen cross the man's face. "You're a hard worker, Jennifer. I like to reward that. Take the day off but don't tell anyone or I'll get hell for it from my superiors."

"But--" She looked at Boyd in bewilderment. "Your sessions..."

"Are no worry for you. I've managed without an assistant before, you know. Now, go. I expect to hear you gone by the time my session starts."

"Well--" She looked between the two of them before her lips curved upward. "If you insist..." She was already gathering her purse with one hand and doing something on the computer with the other by the time Shapiro turned to Boyd with raised eyebrows.

"Early today? Not unlike you, of late. Well, come in." Shapiro held the door open for Boyd. Once Boyd had entered the room, looking around automatically and noting the closed curtains, Shapiro shut the door behind him.

Boyd's instincts were still on alert but he didn't want to make it obvious. He sat down in the chair as usual, casually glancing around the room to see if there were any changes while subtly moving his hand closer to his gun.

Everything seemed normal except for the way Shapiro hovered near the door, his ear against it and eyes narrowed. Boyd watched the man suspiciously but didn't say anything.

After a minute, the faint sound of the main door shutting came into the office. Shapiro let out a sharp breath and turned. He strode toward Boyd immediately, his face full of hard lines.

"You have to leave. Now."

A threat seemed imminent-- Shapiro coming on him too fast, too deliberately. Boyd's heartbeat skyrocketed instantly back to the adrenaline high from the Tower doors. He snapped out his gun and stood, pivoting to keep Shapiro in focus. Took a few steps back for space.

It took him a second to think to speak.


Shapiro raised his hands even while he let out an impatient huff of breath. "We don't have time for this, Boyd. She plans to kill you during this session. They're scheduled to arrive ten minutes in; just long enough for me to lull you off guard."

"What?" Boyd's gaze darted to the door and around. Only one exit. This was too high off the ground to jump out the windows. Closed curtains; shutting out his view of the outside but also the Agency's view inside.

Shapiro followed Boyd's glance. His lips were thinned grimly. "She considered a sniper at one point-- so you would have no way to see it coming or escape. I believe I convinced her otherwise but just in case..." He gestured to the curtains.

Boyd stepped back again, the gun trained on Shapiro's head. His heartbeat surged as he felt a moment of trapped panic.

Contradictions, adrenaline, was this even happening?

Was he having another flashback? Was he standing in front of the real Shapiro, aiming a gun at his head while the man wondered what he was doing and was calling security?

Fuck, fuck, fuck--

Boyd squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head sharply. Focus. Focus on breathing. The moment.

"I know this is confusing, Boyd," Shapiro's calming voice was saying in the background, "but you have to leave."

"How..." Boyd opened his eyes. The room was the same. Shapiro looked the same as he had before. Nothing had changed. No blood or images of an Agency deathsquad, but he still felt the clawing need to get the fuck out and now.

"How do I know this isn't a trap?"

Shapiro's harsh laugh somehow brought Boyd more sharply into the present.

Sitting on the edge of the desk, Shapiro shook his head with a humorless draw of his lips. "What good would a trap like this be? I've put you on alert, haven't I? It would have been far better to kill you unexpectedly."

"Why would you help me?" The cold suspicion in Boyd's voice cut through the air.

"I have my reasons."

Boyd adjusted his grip on the gun and glared at Shapiro. "Not good enough."

Although they had known each other for almost a year and a half, when Shapiro met Boyd's eyes and finally lowered his hands, it felt like they were truly looking at each other for the first time. Something passed through Shapiro's face that Boyd couldn't fully identify other than a shadow of a darker emotion, and then Shapiro was sighing and looking away.

"I've always strived to do my best, but I've been in this position too long. I've seen too many good people die for doing the right thing. Too many people successfully struggle through trauma they were pushed into, only to be tossed aside when they were deemed no longer useful." His lips twisted in distaste.

Shapiro's gaze returned to Boyd and seemed to burn into him. "And then, you. I'm proud of our work together. I thought you could be the one person I could still save. I've lost so many others... But now not only do they want to end it, they want me to help?"

His features hardened. "No. I will not. A year and a half ago a friend of mine gave his life for your partner. For the ideals we both believe in. I never knew what I could do about it all this time, but now I know. Like him, I'm tired of being a bystander. So, leave. Now, before it's too late."

Boyd stared at Shapiro for a short moment, his fingers automatically tightening on the gun. He darted his gaze around for any indications that this was a lie; that there was something more happening. But all he saw was Shapiro's world-weary gaze hardened by determination, and a quiet office he'd seen many times before.

If this was true, he had to act on it. If it wasn't, he would have to adjust as he went.

Boyd sheathed his gun. He didn't look away from Shapiro but hesitated, not knowing what to say.

Shapiro's lips lifted slightly. Sadly. "I realize that if you leave now you'll be a fugitive, but this is better than the alternative, yes?" Shapiro stood from the desk and walked over, squeezing Boyd briefly on the shoulder. "Be safe, and avoid cameras as much as you can."

Boyd started toward the door but then paused, looking back at Shapiro. "Thank you."

"Thank me when you're safe and gone," Shapiro replied with a shake of his head. His jaw tightened and his glare shifted to the door. "Until then, run. Run like hell."

Greer and Rowe's house was more like a miniature fortress. It was made of red brick and wood, and sat on a large deck that caused the structure to loom far above the hill that it had been built on. It overlooked an expansive pond and a tiny dock with a boat that was currently knocking quietly against the wooden structure. The moon reflected off the water, the silver light bright and illuminating the wooded area just beyond the perimeter of their property.

Sin had decided against the woods. There were guards patrolling them and the possibility of booby traps was too great. After moving through the trees, and slipping from shadow to shadow as he monitored the increasing number of bodies that appeared on his thermal sensor, Sin had detoured to the water.

The embankment was slick and the rocks damp, but he made his way across them carefully. His narrowed eyes flicked between the sensor, his surroundings, and the house. Even in the dark he could see details cast in sharp relief the more he stared at them. Distant sounds filtered to his ears; hidden beneath the lapping of the water and rustle of the trees, he heard footsteps and quiet, truncated conversations between guards.

Hunching down against the side of the dock, Sin stared up at the house. A dark-colored orb glinted in the moonlight, nearly invisible in the shadows, but his sharp eyesight caught it. He had no way of knowing whether the camera was fixed or if it took in the entire length of the property. Frowning slightly, Sin's eyes flicked along various surfaces around the property.

He counted four similar orbs. Fuck.

Inching closer to the trail that led from the dock to the property, Sin measured the distance between it and the shadowed section of the deck. If he ran fast enough, it was possible that it wouldn't pick up anything but a blur moving inhumanly fast. However, he wasn't close enough to hear the whirring and clicks of the camera that would enable him to judge whether it was fixed or rotating.

Swearing quietly, Sin hunkered down. He peered around again, shook his head, and then began to inch instead to the water that was lapping quietly against the rocky embankment. He stayed in the shadow of the dock, allowing it to obscure his position as he blended into the darkness. After storing his weapons in the waterproof pack that was strapped to his back, he waded quietly out into the water.

The coldness was almost a shock, but he ignored it and swam around the side of the property. The water did not saturate into his suit, but the waves pushed against his face, pulling at and dampening his hair until he emerged from it swiftly, hunching down and scrabbling across the embankment. The shadows were longer on this side of the house because the trees pushed in further onto the property, and he took advantage of that.

By the time he was crouched along the side of the deck, water was dripping down his neck and he'd spotted a sole camera on the side of the house. He observed the security with a slight frown, eyes flicking from the upper balcony with guard detail, to the camera, and then to the nearest place where he could slip in while still obscured by darkness.

Crouching down, Sin cast his gaze over the area again and that's when he saw it. A thin line, barely a glimmer of light, circling the property. It was barely visible and for a moment, Sin wondered whether his father and Bex would even be able to see them without the enhanced vision that he had.

An image flit through his mind, one of his father stealing across the darkened plain of a Janus member's property, tripping one of the alarms, and his blood splattering across the grass. It hit too close to home, and he flashed to another image -- this one a memory. The memory of himself dragging what he'd thought had been his father's lifeless body across a field of grass.

Without hesitation, Sin reached up to activate his comm.

"I'm in position. Kill the power before stepping foot onto the property."

The door to the office burst open abruptly, causing the handle to slam into the wall.

Katsaros appeared, flanked by four Agency guards with guns drawn. His dark eyes flicked over the office before slowly focusing on Shapiro.

"Where is he?"

Shapiro sat at his desk and turned an even gaze on the intruders. He set down a glass of Scotch and leaned back in his chair. "Where is anyone, these days? Who's to say this world is even real and not a figment of our collective imagination? Are you aware that there's a fascinating study about the possibility of this being true?"

Katsaros' eyes narrowed. The five of them moved further into the office. "I said, where is Beaulieu?"

Shapiro's blank expression tightened. "Where is Dominik Król? He's dead. We were good friends all the way back to school, both so proud to be chosen by the Agencies, both so certain we could change the world by helping people willing to sacrifice for their country. But then you people wanted to destroy his patient's memories and he refused, and you killed him for it."

He glared at Katsaros. "Isn't it his job to give the best recommendations for his patients? And yet that is a death sentence in this place. Now you want to kill my patient right in front of me..." He scoffed, shook his head, and took one last drink of his Scotch. When he set the glass down, it sounded especially final.

"Kill me, then. Blindly follow orders without ever bothering to develop your own moral compass. We both know you will. We both know you never had the integrity to do anything different."

A muscle in Katsaros' jaw ticked. It was the only indication that the comment upset him. He didn't say anything, didn't change his expression, and removed his own gun. The sound of the gunshot thundered through the quiet office. An arc of blood sprayed across the desk as the bullet ripped into Shapiro's chest.

The property had been thrown into chaos as soon as the lights flickered and everything was cast into darkness. For a single minute there had been silence before things had descended into controlled chaos.

There was no screaming, no shouting, no running, but as Sin melted into the shadows and slunk into the house, the sense of tension and urgency thickened until it was nearly palpable. Footsteps moved faster, the voices got louder, and so did the demands to know what the hell was going on. Rowe may as well have announced his position in the house.

It was impossible to stay completely unnoticed as the traffic increased. The pop of necks breaking and bodies sliding to the floor followed Sin's tread as he closed in on his targets.

He could hear hushed conversation through a door, and light flickered beneath it as if there was a fireplace or candles inside. There was urgent whispering, a clicking sound, and someone wondering whether the power had gone out all over the city. The voice was low, young.

Too young. Not one of his targets.

The door crushed inward when he slammed his foot into it. Sin ducked to the side and down as a spray of bullets immediately unloaded in his direction. Rolling to the other side of the room and out of the way of more gunfire, a bullet grazed his calf just as he took aim and released a single shot.

There was a scream, and Rowe staggered as the bullet slammed into his sternum. He fell backwards across a desk. Bright orange light washed over the room as someone dropped a freshly lit candle and the flame spread over a sheer curtain that clung to the window.

"Get out," Rowe croaked. The order was clearly directed at his family, but so weak that it was barely heard over the wailing across the room.

Sin crouched in the corner, and redirected his gun to the others. There were just two: Greer and a kid who looked to be in his early teens.

"No!" the kid screamed, and launched himself at his father but Greer yanked him back.

She looked exactly as she had in her picture. Youthful, curly red hair, bright blue eyes, and very slim. Her face was blank, no hysterics, no surprise, and the piercing eyes focused on Sin instead of her husband.

"Agency," she said flatly as the flames spread up the curtain and across the room.

The kid shoved her back and scrambled to his father, leaning over Rowe and releasing a scream. Sin's mouth ticked, and his hand flexed on his gun. He stared the woman down as she looked back. She was defiant and ready, prepared to die, not backing down.

Sin hesitated. Fucking kid. Why did there have to be a kid?

His eyes flicked to the fire and he heard footsteps charging down the hall. The distraction cost him, and Greer ripped a gun from the small of her back. He reacted before she did and released another shot that went cleanly into the middle of her forehead.

Men barrelled into the room. Smoke billowed around them; the scarlet flames were spreading across the ceiling now. The kid was still wailing, and Sin sprinted across the room. Shots were firing wildly and another slammed into his back, striking the suit. He ripped a grenade from his belt, and released the pin.

He cooked it long enough to grab the kid by the scruff of the neck, and threw it just as he slammed into the window shoulder first. The blast of the explosion was deafening, and his ears rung as they went flying through the air. He wrapped his arms around the kid, forcing them to turn mid-air as fire shot out of the window above them.

Glass shattered and rained down on them, slicing across Sin's face as they barrelled down toward the ground. The kid was still screaming when they crashed down, even though Sin took the full brunt of the fall. For a moment he was stunned, paralyzed, and was only vaguely aware of his arms loosening on the teenager.

The sounds were muted around him. Distant shouting, distant footsteps, sirens, the roar of fire spreading, and a splash.

Struggling to his knees, Sin ignored the blood streaming down the side of his face and looked around blearily. The kid was gone. He'd most likely rolled down the embankment and into the water.

Suddenly aware of the burn in his throat every time he took a breath, Sin climbed to his feet and staggered down the hill to the dock. He saw ripples in the water, and hoped the kid knew how to swim because the rescue operation was officially over. The fall had jarred Sin, and his feet were unsteady as he broke into a run. A high pitched whine in his ear was fucking with his senses, and Sin squinted as lights blurred together and the fire raged behind him.

He flexed his hand on his gun and looked between the water and the house behind him. Disorientation had screwed him over, and he dove out of the way just as bullets ripped into the earth around him.

He bolted into a run, moving so fast that he was a dark blur that outpaced the speed at which his pursuers could aim. He sprinted for the pond and shouted into his comm again.

"Targets neutralized. Alert the outer teams."

The team swarmed the property, moving over it and leaving destruction in their wake. The farmhouse was massive and the green acres around it were lush and sprawling, but at the moment it was anything but picturesque.

Gunshots ripped through the house, tearing into the wooden paneling as flash grenades went off and added to the frenzied chaos. A myriad of shouts and screams combined in a nonstop wail of sound beyond the barrage of noise from the firefight.

Kassian sprinted up the winding staircase, glancing over his shoulder to see that Archer was hunkered down at the bottom. His large body was coiled and ready to spring into action, fully prepared to cover Kassian's back as Harriet and the rest of the team cleaned the bottom of the house of hostiles.

Refocusing his attention, Kassian sent a smoke grenade spinning down the hallway. Soot-gray smoke billowed out of it, and he spun so that his back was to the wall as he inched further down the hallway. He encountered three more hostiles, three more explosions of skull and brain splattering everywhere, before he found his prize.

The Janus lieutenant. The one he'd requested to go after.


The bitch who had tortured Boyd.

He released two bullets in quick succession. They both entered her head and she fell on the canopied bed. Her blood began to seep into a colorful quilt, spreading until it blended with the patches.

"Clear," he said curtly into his comm.

"Sin, where the fuck are you?"

Bex's voice exploded out of his comm, and Sin ignored his automatic reflex to start moving faster. Drenched, still dazed from the fall and clutching a bloodied knife in one hand, he finally came into view of the pickup spot. His father and Bex were distant blips on the landscape and the Agency helicopter was already there.

"We're off in thirty seconds, kid," Emilio's voice came across with no real urgency. "They can't wait. Too much heat on this fucking rock, and the media will pick up the chopper if there are cameras."

"So get the bloody lead out," Bex snarled, piggybacking on Emilio impatiently.

Swearing, Sin slowed down just slightly now that he was in their line of sight. His gaze swept the perimeter impatiently, searching for the next part of the plan. Bex shouted that he had twenty seconds and he sped up enough to make it believable just as a matte red jeep came hurtling up the road.

"Hsin, on your fucking left!"

The jeep screeched to a stop and several armed men jumped out. They began unloading on him as Sin spun out of the way, flipped backwards and threw himself to the side. He barely flinched even as three bullets struck his suit. One whizzed by his head, and Sin gnashed his teeth in annoyance.


"Don't you fucking pursue!" Emilio's voice snarled, presumably at Bex.

"It's your son--"

"Just go," Sin snapped as he rolled to cover behind a cluster of rocks. "I'll find my own way back. If someone spots an Agency helicopter, we're all fucking dead."

Gunfire sprayed around him, and Sin flattened himself to the ground as he peered around the edge. He fired, not aiming for anyone in particular, and ensured that the distant figures of his father and Bex were gone.

They were, and the helicopter took off not even a breath later. The integrity of the Agency's cover was worth more than one agent, whether he was enhanced or not. And media coverage of the city behind them burning would surely pick up a lone, dark helicopter hovering in the sky.

The gunfire halted, and he sat up to aim a withering glare at the men who'd jumped out of the jeep. He disabled his comm temporarily, and wiped a hand across his face.

"You almost blew my head off," he growled.

The tallest of the men, a tattooed man with a muscular build that dwarfed those around him, looked at him unapologetically. There were tattoos crawling up the sides of his neck, and several teardrops were inked in beneath his eyes. "I ripped my dick out of the finest pussy in New Rochelle to get here with no notice. So don't bitch. It had to look believable, right?"

Finally giving in to the urge to cough, Sin sheathed his own gun and walked over to the jeep. He ran a hand through his damp hair, shoulders shaking as he coughed.

The man smirked. "Con que finalmente llego a conocer al hermano de Chance."

Sin's eyes swept the perimeter. "Yes. That's me."

"Heh. You and him look alike." Looking him up and down once again, the man gestured sharply with one hand and the other men began to crowd into the jeep. "I'm Wilfredo. Now get the fuck in and let's go if we're going to make time. We had to call in quick favors to make this shit happen since you gave us no time at all."

"It was unavoidable. We didn't have the location until today."

Shrugging, Wilfredo got into the driver's side of the jeep. "Let's go."

They switched vehicles after driving for fifteen minutes, and Wilfredo gave Sin a change of clothes which he pulled on over his suit. A flannel shirt, loose jeans, and a battered army jacket. They barely exchanged words on their way to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, and Wilfredo's gruff voice only filled the silence once they arrived at a desolate cape and a waiting boat.

Wilfredo handed the man in the boat a large wad of money, and looked at Sin evenly.

"Don't fuck this up, man. Or get Chance caught up in this no more than he already is. I told him not to help you at all."

"He won't get caught up. There's no reason for them to think that ambush was fake."

Wilfredo gave him a long, assessing stare before he nodded. "Get out of here."

Sin inclined his head, and got into the boat. Wilfredo watched as the motor whirred to life, and they began heading out to the darkened expanse of water between the cape and Maine.

Even with the plan going smoothly so far, anxiety kept Sin wound tight. He kept waiting for something to go wrong. For the helicopter to come back and find him, tranq him and kill the old man that they'd just paid off.

There was no way for him to contact his lover. No way for him to make sure everything was fine on Boyd's end. They'd already scanned each other for GPS, and after coming up clean, they hadn't been willing to chance cellphones or computers of any kind.

No electronics. Nothing that could be traced.

He wouldn't know if Boyd was okay until Chance's complex string of connections got him to New York Harbor.

Continue to Fade Chapter 39...