In the Company of Shadows

This site is..

Based on an original story 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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Evenfall Chapter One

The compound for Johnson's Pharmaceuticals loomed before Boyd.

The skyline was broken by a cluster of high-rise buildings that served as a stark contrast to the crumbling skyscrapers that had been devastated by the war. The city had never quite recovered from the bombs that had destroyed the entire eastern and southeastern section of the city's suburbs and wiped out entire neighborhoods within the city boundaries.

Although the economy had been decimated by the third world war and the companies and stores that hadn't been lost still struggled to survive, drug manufacturers continued to make a profit. With the diseases that followed the war like a plague, people became desperate for everything from prescription drugs that could make them forget, to miracle drugs that could cure the illnesses wasting away their loved ones. While most people could hardly afford a roof over their head, drug companies had enough money to spend on sprawling compounds and private security guards to protect their assets.

Boyd stopped at the gates to the compound, waiting while a woman in front of him flashed an ID and the guards let her in. Although Boyd didn't bother to get any closer even in the few seconds before the gate slammed shut again, the shorter guard eyed him. Boyd noticed that the taller guard's grey and black uniform had a small silver tag that read 'Veliz' while the shorter guard's read 'Garrett.'

"What do you want?" Garrett watched Boyd suspiciously.

"I have an appointment with my mother," Boyd said impassively.

"What's her name?" Garrett asked while Veliz continued to alertly watch the street behind Boyd.

"Vivienne Beaulieu."

For some reason, the name caused both guards to look at him more closely. Garrett especially scrutinized him, taking in Boyd's empty expression, the uncombed fall of long blond hair that went well past his shoulders, and the honey brown eyes that watched the guards blankly.

Boyd wore all black, from his long-sleeved shirt and simple pants to his military-grade boots and the long trench coat over it all. The dark color made his pale skin look even more washed out.

Garrett's eyes narrowed. "Show me your identification."

Boyd held out his drivers license. Garrett snapped it roughly from Boyd and studied it seriously before turning watchful brown eyes onto Boyd again. Finally, Garrett handed the card back and glanced at Veliz briefly. Garrett disappeared into a small one-room building to the side of the gates.

Boyd stared ahead, not listening to the short conversation between Garrett and someone on the phone, and not looking at Veliz, who had resumed his scrutiny of the surroundings. Silence fell between them, lasting for a few minutes.

Garrett finally returned with a handheld metal detector. He ran it up and down Boyd's body; the detector made a quiet whining noise once it passed Boyd's belt and pockets, but once Boyd was directed to empty his pockets and remove his belt, it was silent. Garrett waited while Boyd silently put the belt back on and slid the keys in his pocket.

Garrett had a bright green visitor's pass with the day's date scrawled on it and he held it out as he said, "You're cleared. An escort will be here shortly."

Garrett stepped back to join his partner in watching the surroundings while Boyd placed the visitor's pass on his trench coat where it was clearly visible.

Boyd blankly watched the solid gates until they opened enough to reveal a guard from inside the compound. The new man was dark-haired with a dark complexion and taller than Boyd by several inches. As he stepped in front of Boyd, the small silver tag reading 'Amos' was almost directly in front of Boyd's eyes.

Amos grabbed Boyd's arm and started to direct him through the gates. Boyd didn't care for the fingers curling around his arm and wanted to pull away. In the end he didn't bother. It would simply draw more attention to himself.

As they passed the other two guards, Boyd heard Garrett mutter sarcastically to Amos, "Better watch out with that one. He'll excite the shit out of you."

Veliz snickered quietly and Amos snorted but Boyd was barely listening as his gaze slid disinterestedly across the compound. It was almost like a miniature city inside, with named streets that spread out before him, parking lots near the larger buildings, and more people striding around than he would have expected could fit in there. A large building sat to their left, the entrance dominated by a sign that read 'Johnson's Pharmaceuticals' with the company's maroon logo next to it.

"You taking him to Entry?" Garrett asked Amos idly.

"She wants him in her office," Amos said with a shrug.

"Really," Garrett drawled in an intrigued tone and although Boyd didn't look over, he could feel that dark brown stare burning into the back of his head. "Interesting. There must not be a long shelf-life on this one, huh?"

"Who knows," Amos said dismissively. "I don't make the rules; I just follow them."

"Don't we all," Garrett muttered, then turned away. "Later."

Amos nodded and tugged on Boyd's arm to get him moving. Boyd had barely paid attention to the conversation and expected to be brought to the Johnson's Pharmaceuticals building, but was led around another building and down the main street instead. Together, they headed toward the tallest building that towered off-center of the compound.

The building was a skyscraper that looked as though it held well over a dozen floors, and although there were high-rises in the city that were taller, this one was massive in its girth as well. The windows were reflective and black, making the place look like a modern monolith placed in the middle of the compound. There were no signs designating the name of it or even an address that Boyd noticed, yet it seemed like the majority of the people walking around the compound were heading in or out of the front doors.

Hardly anyone gave them a second glance and when Amos and Boyd went through the large double doors of the building, Boyd glanced past the lobby that opened before them.

A huge staircase dominated the room straight ahead of them while hallways opened up to the left and right. A main desk with a short, circular wall surrounding it sat in middle of the room, where three guards were sitting behind a small set of monitors. Two of them looked up and nodded amiably at Amos, who nodded in return and led Boyd around the set of stairs to an elevator bank just through a hallway behind it.

Four double-wide elevators in a row lined the wall with a large, open space in front of them, with another elevator at the far end that was smaller and looked to be the only place without a group surrounding it. About ten people waited there in varying moods. Lit signs above each elevator flashed ever-changing numbers, with an arrow next to them pointing up or down. Boyd got more than one odd look when his green visitor's pass was noted but no one said anything once they glanced at the guard holding his arm.

Boyd found his gaze tracking the people around him. A wide variety was represented, from ethnicities and ages to personalities. Now that he and Amos were stopped, he distantly noticed that something was starting to bother him.

The press of people gave him a strange sense of anxiety. He hadn't been around this many people for years. He'd spent every moment he could inside his house, barely thinking or moving, and had only left when he'd needed items he couldn't find a way to have delivered. He'd never been claustrophobic but the crowd of people milling around him came as close to that as he'd ever felt, and it took him a moment to understand why.

He felt exposed in this position. So many eyes all around him, seeming as though they were watching him. Hands that could touch him and potentially hurt him. It seemed more apparent to him in here, where the space was smaller and the people were closer.

Although he didn't care what anyone thought, it still felt incredibly strange to be noticed at all. He'd felt for so long like part of the woodwork in his home; like a painting that blended into the wall. These people reminded him that wasn't the case and it was an uncomfortable feeling. He shifted closer to Amos, unconsciously seeking some sort of protection.

Bits of conversation flashed around him; some of it making no sense to him and some of it seeming so mundane. Abbreviations and unfamiliar terminology mixed with people chatting about what sounded like routine business. What they planned to do tonight; where they planned to go. Projects they were working on at home. Lamentations of being tired and wishing the day was already over.

After years of being in stasis, it was like being thrown into a world on fast forward. He felt alienated by this everyday life even as a part of him wondered what those terms meant.

He'd been on autopilot for so long. He'd learned to shut everything down and feel nothing in a blank setting and it had worked well for him. It was almost alarming to feel that comforting nothingness bow with the pressure of such an alien environment. Feeling anything at all was a disturbing prospect and yet even when he looked straight at the wall and tried to ignore everyone around him, he still distantly noted their gazes and their words.

The third elevator over finally dinged with the sign flashing 'G.' The doors opened and a crowd of people exited. Amos led Boyd into the elevator along with many of the other people waiting, although some of them hung back and seemed as though they planned to wait for an emptier elevator. Small, nearly-hidden cameras discreetly watched their every move from the upper corners of the elevator.

Boyd stared expressionlessly at the metal doors as different people pressed the button for their correct floor. He was acutely aware of everyone around him and how close they were. He couldn't help noting the way their bodies jostled each other, growing closer and closer.

At one point, a larger man shifted back to let someone in on a new floor and Boyd was pressed up against the wall behind him. The heavy weight of the body against his front and the cold, unyielding surface at his back made his heartbeat spike and his skin pale.

He shifted, the movement not particularly abrupt but still just sudden enough that Amos looked over at him oddly. Boyd ignored him and moved until he was no longer being held in place. Even then the tension didn't leave him, and he found himself darting his eyes toward the door each time; calculating how many people were entering and how many exiting, and whether he had to move to not be caught again.

Amos didn't press any buttons. As the elevator ascended people entered and exited at different floors, stopping at seemingly every floor except the sixth and eleventh as they moved up. One odd thing he noted was that the floor options skipped the number four. The elevator ride felt like it took twenty minutes when it was probably only three.

Boyd assumed Amos hadn't hit a button because their floor number was already pressed. It wasn't until they reached the fifteenth floor and the last few people were getting off yet Amos didn't move that Boyd realized it was because Amos was waiting for something.

He looked over just in time to see Amos press the button numbered '17' and pull out his ID card, swiping it along a small device next to the buttons. A little red light flashed green once his card passed through and the last person getting off the elevator looked over in interest once he saw the number.

He looked between Amos and Boyd with an intrigued expression but when Amos gave him a narrow-eyed, hard look, the man simply gave a rolling shrug and stepped onto the fifteenth floor. He turned around and briefly watched as the metal doors slid shut and then Amos and Boyd were alone.  

Seventeen was the highest number listed and Boyd didn't know why it was apparently intriguing that they were headed there. Once the elevator stopped and the doors slid open, he saw that this floor seemed to have higher security than the others. While every other floor had opened up to hallways and the occasional large, open room behind the elevator bank, this one had a wall with a single heavy door and another code box next to it. Amos swiped his keycard and the light flashed green, allowing them entrance.  

Although there was a foyer and a large room opened up to the right, Amos brought Boyd down a hallway ahead of them and then took a left turn. Full glass walls separated what appeared to be a waiting room from the hallway, while another wall of floor-to-ceiling windows to the right looked out on the compound below.

Amos calmly walked into the room and Boyd followed.

A reception desk sat off to the left with a heavy-looking mahogany door behind it. A woman who seemed to be about thirty years old sat at the desk, light brown hair pulled back. Her hazel eyes watched Boyd with mild interest, although it was only distinguishable by the discreet arching of an eyebrow.

A small name plate resting on the desk read 'Annabelle Connors' and she continued to scrutinize Boyd before she slid her gaze over to Amos. "Is that the ten-thirty?"

Amos shrugged and dropped Boyd's arm. "I don't know, Ann. I was just told to bring him up here."

Ann nodded and she pushed something towards the edge of the desk, looking at Boyd expectantly. It was as thin as a regular clipboard but was actually a thin flat panel computer. It appeared to be used specifically for logging data that would typically be found on a sign-in sheet.

Without bothering to speak or look up at her, Boyd used the stylus to sign his name on the panel and stepped back beside Amos.

Ann looked at the panel, taking in his name-- most likely his last name and the fact that it was the same as her boss'. Her eyes flicked up to him again, wandering over his form in an almost clinical way before she finally went back to typing on the sleek keyboard on her desk.

The moments ticked by slowly and after awhile, when the minute hand struck thirty minutes after the hour exactly, Ann picked up the phone and dialed a short number. Her tone was professional and respectful when she spoke. "Inspector, Boyd Beaulieu is here for an appointment."

There was a brief moment of silence before Ann nodded. "Of course, Inspector." She hung up the phone and then looked at Boyd evenly before pressing a button. A small device similar to the one in the elevator made a quiet beeping noise and flashed a green light next to the mahogany door.

"You can go in," Ann said unnecessarily and Boyd didn't look at either of them as he approached the door.

He had not seen his mother in years and the last time they'd been in the same room had been under exceedingly stressful circumstances. He walked into the room and shut the door behind him, feeling uncertainty and a niggle of doubt shift within him.

She was just the way he remembered her. Pale blond hair pulled back, making it look smooth and straight from the front. Ice blue eyes that didn't miss a flicker in his expression. Lips that seemed perpetually pressed together and drawn down at the edges just so; as if she disapproved of anything he would say or do before he even did it.

Looking at her made it harder to avoid some memories. It made flashes of pain and utter desperation feel like they were closer to today than they really were. It was a feeling that clenched his stomach and caused a hint of hesitation to enter his movements.

Still, he did his best to ignore it all because he knew his mother would not approve of any unnecessary emotions. He built a wall against those memories and told himself they didn't exist. To distract himself from that intense stare, he glanced around the room.

The office was spacious and minimally decorated; a large, heavy desk sat across the room with an office chair situated in front for visitors to use. Two tall bookcases flanked the desk along the wall behind it, although they were half empty. A small, worn leather bound book was nearly hidden between several normal sized books that had half-fallen over as they leaned against each other. A flat panel also sat on the right bookshelf; Boyd suspected it was one used primarily for reading materials based on its size.

A comfortable-looking chair next to a small table sat to the left along the wall but it didn't look as though it had ever been used. The entire right wall was covered floor to ceiling with windows, affording a phenomenal view of the compound and city below, the buildings looking like scattered toys from this height.

There were no personal effects: no pictures of family; no items of sentimentality. The table and desk spaces in the room were immaculately clean and anything that sat on them clearly had a practical purpose. There were office supplies, files currently in use, and a sleek, thin computer that was currently turned off.

Boyd's mother sat in the tall-backed, rolling chair behind her desk, hands interlocked and resting on the desk. Her gaze flicked along the length of him before her eyes narrowed in distaste. "You walked through the entire compound with that appearance?"

Boyd moved closer to the desk but did not sit down. His arms were loosely crossed and low, almost absently covering his stomach. His shoulders were slouched a bit, as if to somehow hide from her gaze. Still, his expression remained steady even though that was nearly the first thing his mother had said to him after years of silence.


The disapproval in Vivienne's eyes only strengthened as she met Boyd's gaze. "What could possibly have deterred you from looking presentable when visiting my place of employment? I am well aware of how useless your life is now yet you show up like this? You appear as though you have not combed that abominable hair in days."

"I apologize, Mother. I have no excuse."

Her lips tightened slightly. "I already invest a disproportionate amount of money in your existence for the usefulness you provide. When I contact you, I expect you to put effort into the meeting. Do not disappoint me again."

"I won't."

Even with cotton muffling his emotions, he felt a distant twinge at the knowledge that once again he had done something wrong in her eyes. She was all he had left and he still couldn't seem to avoid disappointing her.

She watched him for a long moment, lips pulled down slightly at the edges, before she tilted her head toward the chair. "Sit down."

Boyd followed her order, sitting with his back straight in the chair and hands resting in his lap as he watched her. She didn't speak immediately and silence fell between them as she scrutinized him with an even more unreadable expression than usual.

"What was your impression of the compound?" she asked at length.

Boyd didn't answer at first. He didn't understand why she had invited him to her workplace for the first time. And he didn't understand why she would ask that when she typically seemed to believe that his opinion was worthless.

He was hesitant to give her the wrong answer. He did not want to provide more reason for her to be disappointed with him or give her reason not to call him next time. Yet he was more hesitant to remain silent, so he considered the question seriously.

"The compound is large and well-guarded," he replied after a moment. "I received strange looks in relation to your name and this floor. There are more employees, buildings and vehicles than I would expect for the sole purpose of manufacturing and transporting pharmaceuticals."

Her gaze drilled into him, as if she could see right through him, while he couldn't read what she was thinking at all.

One of her eyebrows quirked slightly. "And it did not occur to you to question any irregularities?"

"I lack the necessary information to compare this pharmaceutical company with others, so I haven't formed an opinion."

She watched him with narrowed eyes. This time, he could tell that something was happening behind them. She was thinking deeply. Silence fell between them once more and at first it seemed as though she wouldn't speak. Then, she leaned back in her chair.

"If you were to visit the other locations of Johnson's Pharmaceuticals, you would find that the compounds contain multiple laboratories as well as a central administrative building, and little else." Her ice blue gaze was intense on Boyd as she spoke.

Although she didn't speak further, it was clear from the way she scrutinized him that she expected a response.

"That doesn't seem to fit with the security and size of this compound," Boyd replied. "There are a large number of buildings, many of which don't seem consistent with a typical laboratory design. Several of the people who I observed on the way to your office didn't appear to be administrative staff or lab technicians and their terminology didn't reflect either job description. I would also question the heavy security across the entirety of the compound rather than grouped around key points."

He paused and then concluded, "The implication is that the valuable assets here are something other than pharmaceuticals."

Vivienne stayed still for a long moment, watching Boyd in contemplation, before she finally sat back in her chair. "That would be an accurate assessment. Johnson's Pharmaceuticals is a legitimate company with complexes located across the nation; however, in this case the assets have nothing to do with pharmaceuticals. This particular compound is a cover for a government-sanctioned organization that is so highly classified that even the majority of the elite government entities are unaware of its existence. The CIA itself does not even have a file, although the Director is aware that it exists."

Boyd watched her for a moment. He felt a mild moment of interest at the information but it slid away fairly quickly. Ultimately, the existence of such an organization did not affect him enough for him to care. It simply made him consider the information with what he had seen on compound and conclude that something of that caliber certainly fit the profile more adequately than a pharmaceuticals headquarters.

The fact that his mother worked for such a place was not uncharacteristic for her. She had worked in the CIA for many years, although he had never been clear on what her job description had been other than that she had dealt with public relations on some level.

"I see," Boyd said at length. "What would be the purpose of such an organization?"

She studied him, her eyes narrowing. "If you cannot even venture a guess with such information then you have allowed yourself to lose your only useful quality." Her blond eyebrows raised slightly. "Have you become entirely incompetent since your little drama? I was under the impression you had taken the opportunity to rid yourself of that unnecessary behavior."

He felt something shift inside him, something deep and buried that stirred to life at those words. Her icy gaze was fixed on him, the same way it had been years ago as she had distantly watched him struggle and scream. The memories he'd felt earlier returned more strongly; a vivid memory that had stained the world around him those years ago.

Lou's clear blue eyes flashed through his mind. The tousled blond curls that had dangled down his forehead and that easy smile that had always seemed so close to the surface. The indignation on Boyd's behalf any time Lou had felt that Vivienne had been too harsh or unattainable, and the warmth of someone close to lean against.

He remembered nights balanced atop concrete pieces that felt just on the verge of falling beneath them and clouds back-lit by moonlight reflected in dull green water. He remembered the warmth of a hand wrapping around his and tugging, and looking up to eyes focused solely on him in a way he'd never otherwise experienced. His mother had always seemed to look past and through him, and his father had often seemed half caught up in thoughts even when he'd turned his attention on his son.

Yet those blue eyes of Lou's had seen Boyd as a person. They'd accepted him and they'd never strayed. They'd looked at him, truly looked at him, and they'd believed in him.

But flashes of a smile and laughing eyes were immediately overrun by concrete up close and creeping red. By memories of terror and pain and screaming desperation that had dragged the deepest part of him to the surface to be sliced open.

Boyd's face paled and his heartbeat pounded in his chest. The vivid jolt of images were more than he'd experienced in months, maybe years. It was impossible to ignore and it hit him hard with a physical feeling of nausea close behind.

Yet throughout it all, his expression remained blank.

He kept the remembered fear of the violence from his eyes and stayed still as stone. He was a statue. He was the background. He wasn't where he once had been. He didn't have to remember the past. He didn't have to remember that pain.

He told himself that until he could make his heartbeat recede and that brief moment of panicked memory subside. He told himself that until he was able to latch on to the present and the room surrounding him.

The information she had provided created a suitable distraction from the memory of soft blond curls splayed against the ground.

He considered what she had to say, taking into account what he had seen on the walk over, as well as other information he'd gathered from the individuals on compound. "The precautions of secrecy coupled with the excessive security would lead me to believe that this compound contains information of vital importance. If it were purely a matter of national security, one would expect the CIA and other entities to be involved."

His honey brown gaze was steady on her. "So I would assume that the need for the secrecy stems from the fact that what occurs on compound or due to this organization can't technically exist according to the government-- perhaps due to constitutional violations or actions that the public or policymakers would find unacceptable. I would assume that the secrecy and lack of documentation is necessary for the government's plausible deniability."

She watched him at length. Whatever was on her mind, she apparently reached a positive conclusion because she nodded once, curtly.

"This organization does not have a name you will ever hear aside from the Agency. The employees on compound are a combination of support staff, research agents, and field agents. The purpose of the Agency is to protect national security and support the government by ensuring the safety of the community at large."

Boyd considered that. The safety of the community was in danger every moment due to the scavengers and gangs who preyed on the weak in the city as a whole. The protection of national security should not be necessary from a separate entity when such groups already existed in the government. So who would they need protection from?

As if sensing his question, she continued coolly, "There have always been terrorist and insurgency groups who have sought to undermine the foundations of Western democracy. However, since the war the number of groups have increased, threatening the stability of the government and the safety of the citizens."

One blond eyebrow lifted. "This is a war that must be fought in complete secrecy on an international and domestic level, and the Agency is the entity designated to handle such a role. The covert quality is a necessity due to the fact that we do not always follow internationally-accepted sanctions such as the Geneva Convention. Our methods are vastly different from any other government organization in that regard; however, they are more efficient and as such accomplish far more for the greater good than any other entity has the luxury to do. It is precisely for these reasons that no one can know that the Agency exists, let alone be aware of what we do."

There was a beat of silence before Boyd asked, "If the existence of the Agency is so highly classified, why was I invited here?"

Her gaze was steady on him. "You will audition for an open position."

She didn't ask him if he wanted to do this, she didn't suggest it-- she simply ordered him. This was unsurprising to him, as she had been that way for the majority of his life, but he did find what she said to be unexpected.

"A position?"

"An agent has recently been released from imprisonment and he requires supervision."

Boyd's eyebrows twitched slightly, the first expression he'd shown. "Imprisonment?" he echoed, gaze subtly sharpening on her as he tried to understand the situation.

"The agent in question is an adept assassin," she said calmly, as if it were normal to be speaking of such things. "However, he has shown extreme levels of aggression in the past. He was deemed unfit for service and has been sedated for several years, until he was recently cleared to be reinstated."

Boyd was silent a moment. "What does the position entail?"

"There are a number of undesirable qualities that the agent in question has shown in the past. He has been known to go on rampages, to compromise the mission's success by reacting poorly to certain stimuli, and to completely ignore mission parameters. He must be watched and controlled at all times."

Vivienne summarized the situation with very little inflection. "The open position is for his partner, who will act in a mediatory role, ensuring that he does not cause further issues for the Agency by engaging in unwanted activity. His partner will have additional roles aside from this, which will be disclosed at a later date."

"Based on the description, I have no qualifications for such a position." Boyd's eyebrows drew down slightly. "I don't understand why I would be chosen."

"You have been nominated, not chosen," she said coolly, her eyes narrowing and mouth tightening. He couldn't tell if she thought he was imbecilic for the comment or if there was another reason she seemed displeased. "You and a number of other candidates will go through a rigorous process of testing to determine if you have the assets necessary for the position. Should you be hired, you will receive further information at that time."

Boyd had assumed, based on the position of authority she seemed to have, that she was the person in charge. "This decision isn't yours to make?"


She was looking at him in distaste and he sat back slightly in his chair, not knowing what he had done to receive such an expression. It was possible it was a sore topic for her. He knew she was devoted to her job above all else and her aspirations had always been to move up within her profession. Having to admit that she was not the highest authority likely did not sit well with her. It was equally possible she thought he was an idiot who should have understood this all from context from the beginning.

"I am here to ensure the Agency remains a secret," she continued after a moment. "I ensure that Agency activities do not find their way into the public realm by way of the media. My jurisdiction primarily falls along those lines as well as anything to do with the public or external interactions. My position as the Inspector leaves me second-in-command to the Marshal and it is he who will make the ultimate decision."

Boyd watched her for a moment before he inclined his head in acknowledgment. "Would I return to this compound for the tests?"

"The process begins tomorrow morning at seven-thirty," she said evenly. "You will remain on the compound in temporary quarters overnight."

His distant, golden brown eyes focused on her a little more clearly at the unexpected development. The same anxiety as before resurfaced. He hadn't slept anywhere but in his house for years, nor had he been around other people on a consistent basis. The idea was disturbing.   

"I'm not allowed to leave?"

"That is not a problem," she replied curtly, speaking with the strong confidence that a person typically reserved only for their own lives, not presuming to speak for others. "You have no reason to leave the compound. I am well aware that your life is meaningless."

Boyd was silent. He couldn't argue with that assessment.

"Do you have any questions?" Vivienne asked after a moment but once again Boyd didn't respond. She quirked an eyebrow. "You do not wish to even know the name of the agent?"

Boyd shook his head faintly; just enough that his hair shifted against his shoulders. "That information is useless unless I'm hired."

There was the briefest flash of what may have been satisfaction in her eyes. However, the emotion was there and gone in the blink of an eye and Boyd wasn't certain he'd seen it at all. There were so few times in his life that he could recall his mother showing anything resembling positive responses to him that he was inclined to believe it had been a trick of his imagination.

"Very well," Vivienne said briskly, already flicking her gaze away as her mind moved on to other matters. "Guards will be in the waiting room shortly to bring you to your next destination. You will stay there until you are contacted in the morning. I trust you will have no qualms with doing nothing for the remainder of the day."

The way she said it made it clear she felt he did nothing with his day regardless so it would not be new to Boyd. He could tell it was a rhetorical comment so he didn't respond. A short breath of silence passed before she said coolly, "Dismissed."

Boyd quietly stood and left her office, automatically taking care to silently close the heavy mahogany door behind him. He didn't glance at Ann or look around before he headed to one of the sleek-lined and not entirely comfortable chairs along the glass windows. He sat there and waited, not looking at anything in particular.

It didn't even occur to him to take the time to consider whether he would do this or not. He had no reason to refuse. Being on this compound or at his house was the same thing to him. Whether he joined a covert government agency or whether he had continued his life having never known of its existence were equally unimportant.

He had nothing and no one to exist for; he'd given up his desire to live years ago and with it had gone all sense of hope or belief in a future that was anything but numb and pointless. Whether he lived or died, whether he was here or there, whether he was healthy or hurt-- it meant nothing to him.

Memories had become like vivid ghosts around every corner of his house. Perhaps the worst were in his bedroom, which was silent now but once had held the quiet breathing of two who cared more about each other than anything else, and their hesitant, questioning movements for more.

For a long time when he'd lain in his bed, if he hadn't experienced terrible flashbacks then he'd been caught by haunting memories. The feel of warm, bare skin against his and of blond curls sifting through his fingers. Blue eyes hovering over his and a smile playing on lips that moved down to press against his own. Touches that had made him feel alive in a way he hadn't felt since.  

If there was a hell beyond what he knew, he would welcome it. He had no reason not to.

After all, a life without living was simply a death without dying. What more was there to fear or hate but life, endless life, with no respite?

Continue to Chapter 2