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 Seven

The two trainees in the corner seemed to be watching Boyd's every move. It hadn't taken long to determine that. Between sparring, when they paused to wipe their faces with towels, they angled themselves so they could both watch him askance. Their lips moved subtly but he knew without doubt that they were talking about him. He didn't let his own gaze linger on them but once he'd noticed it, he felt their stares burning into him even when he was turned away.

He didn't have to hear the trainees to know what they were saying. He'd continued to overhear whispers as he passed and feel stares on his back the longer he spent time on compound.

It was all the same as it had been since he'd joined. Indignant anger over his placement and the general consensus that it was due to nepotism and nothing more. Comments about his androgynous looks and derogatory debate about what that meant about him. Rumblings of whether he would make it as an agent. Mocking whispers about his prowess in the training room and his oddities, like how he always wore a long-sleeved shirt and never removed it no matter how hot it may make him. Rumors that exaggerated any of his failures. Scattered, joking bets about how soon he would die and how it would happen. As far as he'd heard, the bets were so far in favor of a gruesome death at Sin's hands but a few people held out that he'd be killed on a mission long before Sin snapped.

He let it all wash over him in the background but he couldn't deny that the words took to him on some level. Small seeds of doubt and resignation sprouted roots that wormed their way deep into him. But then, it had always been this way. Even before the Agency, long before anything had happened that had made him want to run away from the world and shut himself off completely, there had been whispers behind his back and slanted, taunting stares.

He sighed quietly to himself and pushed away wet strands of hair that had fallen into his eyes. Soon he wouldn't be able to use the facilities in the training complex anymore and he'd have to find a new place. David was letting him only because he was still on probation and he'd been having troubles with gaining and maintaining the proper amount of muscle and weight.

That was part of the trouble; there was some truth in their whispers. Boyd had been trying to train hard but he came from a sedentary lifestyle. He'd spent years as a ghost in his own home, barely bothering to move between rooms. And before then, he'd never been particularly athletic. Trying to throw himself wholeheartedly into a workout regiment that had become a nearly daily event was tiring, even after several months.

His build was naturally lean and although he didn't have too much trouble maintaining that, the Agency seemed to want him to meet standards he wasn't certain made sense for him. But he couldn't say that to anyone so all he could do was come to the training rooms and workout tirelessly while whispers and mocking stares came and went.

Noon felt like it came quickly. He gathered his things and disappeared into the locker room, using one of the bathroom stalls to change in private rather than staying out in the larger area like most people did. It was yet another quirk of his that caused others to question him.

Over time he'd realized that Cecilia, the agent he'd met during training, had apparently not gotten over her dislike of him. She and a few of her associates seemed to go out of their way to badmouth him on a regular basis. An agent named Moua seemed to take particular delight in it, since he was especially at odds over Boyd's androgynous appearance.

Although Cecilia had instigated it, Moua had been the one to start the joke that Boyd probably stayed covered up because he was really a girl, or even a transsexual. He'd suggested to Cecilia and another agent, Miles, that one day they should follow him into the locker room, hold him still, and find out for themselves. Dover had been present that day, and despite the fact that he didn't appear to like Boyd much more than the others, the comment had seemed to disgust him.

For Boyd, the idea of anyone forcing him down and yanking up his clothes was highly disturbing.

It wasn't the first time anyone had commented on his appearance. When he was younger, a few of the kids used to tease him about it at school. He'd cut his hair short at one point, hoping to mimic the other boys who looked more normal. It hadn't made much of a difference. There was something indefinable about his features that would always lend an androgynous air to him.

It used to bother him. His mother was a striking woman when she wasn't glaring coldly, but his father had been solid and masculine. Boyd used to resent that he'd taken so much after his mother's build and features, like her full mouth and hair, and had gotten so little of his father. Adding to that the fact that he was gay, it had seemed a bit like the universe was playing a joke on him. For someone as private as he, his looks alone gave many people reason to make assumptions about his sexual orientation that, unfortunately, were true.

After a point, though, he'd become resigned and stopped caring about any of it. He couldn't change the way he looked and since having short hair didn't make a significant difference, he'd taken to keeping it long. At least then he could hide his expression if he ever wanted to.

Lou used to say he liked the way Boyd looked and had gone after anyone who'd said otherwise. He wondered what Lou would say about any of this and whether he would have stormed up to short but muscular Moua with the intentions of picking a fight. He cut the thought off immediately and buried it deep within himself the way he always did when Lou crossed his mind.

Today he was thankfully alone in the locker room and was able to change quickly into fresh clothes. When he left, the two trainees stared after him until their view was cut off by the hallway. He headed straight toward the medical wing, not wanting to be late for his assessment.

They were checking him monthly so far to keep track of his weight and muscle gain, but he'd been told that once he reached the appropriate levels he would be dropped down to a yearly check up like everyone else. He had to meet with a physician and a nutritionist and all the information was sent to David, who was still his supervisor for physical training.

Boyd didn't like doctors offices in the first place but he especially didn't enjoy his trips to the med wing. Doctors seemed to think they had rights to their patients' bodies; they could push up or pull down a shirt wherever they liked, and demand anything else in the name of their profession.

For the most part, Boyd was able to stay fully dressed. Still, he always felt highly disturbed when they made him push up his sleeve so they could draw blood, or when they would slide a hand beneath his shirt to touch his skin or listen to his heartbeat. He spent most of the time staring blankly at the wall, trying to ignore the nausea that caught at the back of his throat and made his stomach clench. At least he had one doctor who was assigned to him, so he didn't have to deal with a lot of different strangers, although he never knew what nurse he would get.

"Agent Beaulieu," Doctor Hagerty greeted him with his typical wide, false smile as he stepped into the room. "Let's see how you're doing today, shall we?"

He always spoke boisterously and with great cheer but Boyd never believed the truth of any of it. He could see the calculation in the man's eyes and there were times that cheerful smile seemed aimed only to bare his teeth.

Boyd was tense and straight-backed as they poked and prodded him. His jaw was set and he focused on breathing evenly as Hagerty ran his large hand up Boyd's arm and pushed up his sleeve. The brush of calloused fingers against his skin was as unwanted as it always had been and he kept his face turned resolutely away.

He could feel Hagerty's gaze burn into his temple, as if the man was trying to see through his skull into his mind, or maybe he was studying the closed off quality of Boyd's eyes. Whatever the case, Hagerty prattled on about useless things and Boyd breathed in and out, focusing on some sense of calm despite how much he hated being in that room. How much he hated those hands, clinical though they may be, taking liberties with touching him at will.

It seemed like it took forever but finally Hagerty was done with all his tests. Boyd barely paid attention as Hagerty explained at length his progress. What it basically came down to was he still needed to work hard because he hadn't yet reached the levels he was supposed to achieve.

A nutritionist came in afterward, giving him a detailed diet planned down to the last grape. She was kind enough but Boyd thought hers was a forced cheer as well. Although with her, it seemed more like she was distracted and making an effort at proper bedside manner rather than faking everything like Hagerty. She sent his dietary plan to his Agency account and assured him that in another month or so, he should be where he needed to be.

"I bet you've never been so healthy in your life," she joked with a small smile before she left.

The relief he felt once he could leave was as strong as it always was in the med wing. He straightened his clothing and stepped out into the hallway. As he headed toward the main waiting room he mused that the nutritionist was probably right but that he would take unhealthiness and privacy over all of this any day.

The main room was teeming with people; some seated and some standing in small groups talking amongst themselves. The receptionist was at the desk looking annoyed with two people speaking intently and quietly with her. The guard standing outside the door to the med wing seemed more interested in watching a very attractive woman in a very short skirt bend over while filling out a form than he was in watching the hallway beyond.

"Go fuck yourself, you amazon bitch!"

The shout interrupted the otherwise quiet atmosphere as a short, plump girl with curly black hair was escorted in by two guards. A woman who was her polar opposite in every way physically came charging behind. She was tall, willowy but athletic, and had the fluid movements of a field agent. At the moment though, her nose looked crooked and was bleeding freely.

"I don't have to fuck myself, fat ass. One of the perks of being attractive."

The short girl reddened and actually tried to barrel past the guards to lunge at the field agent but she was hauled back.

"Relax, Wanda, you're in enough trouble as it is. Again," Officer Randazzo said blandly, shaking his head in obvious exasperation.

"Let her go," the field agent snapped, wiping blood on the back side of her black sweater. If her nose was broken, she didn't seem to mind the pain too much. "I won't get sucker punched this time."

"You shut up too," Randazzo snapped, casting a look of dislike at the agent.

Wanda yanked her arm away and ran a hand through her hair in obvious agitation. Her dark brown eyes were flitting around the room and when she turned her face slightly, Boyd saw that she had taken a few good knocks herself.

"You're both going to see medical, and your superiors are going to handle this. I'm sick of this shit and I have better things to do," the other guard was saying, looking quite disgusted with them both.

"Where's Bree?" Wanda demanded.

"And what the hell do you think she's going to do?" the field agent asked snidely. She looked quite dramatic with her blood streaked face and cascades of blond hair hanging over her shoulders.

"See, now that's the kind of talk that gets you in trouble with my peeps, Agent Podkalicki," a breezy voice broke in as the doors opened.

Boyd watched silently as a short woman with even shorter blond hair came in and forced her way into the middle of the crowd. She stood there right in the center, further blocking the exit and making it impossible for him to leave without barreling through the entire group.

"Bree, this is total fucking cunt--"

"Bree, they're all yours--"

"She is not my super--"

Bree whistled shrilly and interrupted them all. She glared at each in turn through wide rimmed black glasses and crossed her arms over the multi-colored fringe vest she wore. "Lieutenant Kaplan, what the hell is going on?"

The older of the two guards, apparently Kaplan, raised his eyebrows. "According to the others in R&D, Agent Podkalicki stormed in blaming Wanda for faulty intel and a mission gone awry, they exchanged words and Wanda socked her in the nose before Podkalicki jumped her. Are we through?"

"Yes. Go make the rounds of the deadly corridors."

Kaplan made a face and Randazzo smirked but the two men headed out the doors without a backward glance. The three women were left to themselves as Bree, whoever she was, regarded them both icily.


"You're not my superior," the haughty blond agent repeated, raising her eyebrows and managing to look down her broken nose at Bree.

Bree pursed her lips together. "Don't interrupt me again, little girl. You may be a fieldie, but I'm the head of R&D which makes me so far above you in classification and experience, that I could probably break both your arms and a leg and still only get a stern talking to."

Podkalicki leaned forward to say something with her finger pointed in Bree's face but before she could get the words out, Bree grabbed the field agent's wrist and twisted it back. It elicited a sharp cry and Podkalicki scrambled backwards.

"Don't get it twisted, sister. I may be R&D but I've been here going on two decades. That gives a lot of time to get myself trained to fight. Especially up against a third rate valentine who can't even hit level eight. Got it? And the next time you have beef with one of my peeps, you take it up with your superior who will take it up with me."

"Screw you," was the sullen reply.

Bree smirked and turned to Wanda. "And you-- next time you want to slug this bi-atch, just don't damage the face."

Wanda's face lit up with a laugh but before she could release it, the doors opened again and another person came in. He was tall, in his early sixties, and very slender. His nose was long and pointed and he had eyes that were a very pale blue.

"General McAvoy," Bree said coolly. "Handle your riff-raff. And I'll handle mine."

At that, the group dispersed into two separate ones and cleared the way to the exit finally.

Boyd watched them disappear and then followed the crowd that started heading out the door. He heard a few muttered opinions supporting either side of the fight and from that he understood that this sort of thing wasn't unheard of for Wanda or Bree. He wondered how they were able to get away with causing stirs like that without repercussions but even that thought was absent and easily forgotten. He didn't really care what anyone else was doing and he was just glad to see them all get out of the way so he could leave.

He spent the next few hours on errands around town picking up supplements for his diet. The Agency provided a certain amount of items but some of it he was responsible for finding on his own. Although there were a few places he knew for certain would have all of what he needed, they were establishments he didn't want to visit. Too many memories hung cloyingly in areas of the city, nestled among buildings and alleys that brought bright blue eyes unbidden to his mind.

When he got home he fell into his usual routine of automatically making tea. When he had a mug ready, he walked to the living room and sat on the edge of the couch. The tea heated the mug until he could feel a light burn through his clothing as he rested the mug on his knee. He stared at nothing in particular, letting the quiet of the room reinforce the quiet of his mind. It was like his own brand of meditation to find his inner peace, except in his case it was finding the place inside him that let him shut down and ignore everything.

He sat like a statue in his home, occasionally sipping tea and doing nothing in particular. There were times he wondered whether anyone else felt as alone and isolated as he did. During moments like this, however, no thoughts entered his mind at all.

Boyd's detachment could be most clearly felt in his home after years of working toward that goal. A routine had begun of working hard at the Agency where he was largely ignored and sometimes mocked and returning to his home to sit silently, at times restlessly, and wish for an end in sight. He could have been caught in that cycle for weeks if not for the missions.

Then came the day that he was brought in for a briefing in which he was told that he and Sin would be going to Spain for a reconnaissance mission. Having to spend a week in close quarters with Sin was a little daunting, primarily because Boyd had come to covet his time alone again. He'd had to give it up during training and now he had it again, giving him a chance to find his balance again and try to let everything fall away. Being stuck around other people for too long, especially crowds or in unfamiliar situations, was still a little tiring to him. The only saving grace was that Sin, at least, didn't seem to mind periods of silence.

And a smaller part of him that he didn't fully want to acknowledge was somewhat intrigued by this mission. He still couldn't figure Sin out. Sin was like puzzle pieces floating on a river; once a few were placed together, the current pulled the outer edges apart and scattered the pieces away once again. It left Boyd feeling like he could never get the full picture, let alone decipher between truth and lies.

The part of him that was curious and wanted the full truth of a situation before he made a decision couldn't let go of the fact that there was too much about Sin to dismiss him. That part made it impossible to ignore Sin or his own desire to know more. Even if it were to ultimately turn out that Sin was nothing more than how the people at the Agency generally presented him, at least for Boyd he would have been able to reach that conclusion on his own with all the facts.

Neither of them had spoken much on the plane ride over or as they'd navigated the streets of Barcelona. Boyd didn't know Spanish but parts of it were similar enough to French that he would have been able to get by. He was interested to see Catalan on the signs, with its strange confluence of Spanish and French. He had learned soon enough that Sin was fluent in Spanish, although his accent seemed to differ from the native Spaniards.

The hotel they were staying in turned out to be in the middle of a long row of buildings all built right up against each other. The lower level had a restaurant but once they took the elevator up and checked in they ended up in a hallway that was lined with a smooth wooden finish that ran the length of the hallway. The planks were wide and horizontal and probably faux, and the effect crossed the doors as well. If it weren't for the silver horizontal handles and the inconspicuous silver room numbers posted nearby, the doors would have blended in with the hallway.

Once inside they found the room to be medium sized, with two twin beds and a table pushed in the far right corner near a television. The bathroom was immediately to their left while a small closet with space for luggage was to their right. Like the rest of the hotel, there was a distinctive modern flair to the decor.

When the door shut behind them, they each moved into the room and dropped their bags. Boyd ended up by the far bed and took in the room thoughtfully. There was enough space on the table for the multiple computers he would have to set up but it wouldn't leave much room for anything else. Still, it was their only option. He dragged the computer bag over to the table and unzipped it, getting to work unpacking and setting up the equipment.

Their mission wasn't to act; it was simply to surveil a location to ensure that intel from a source was legit. That called for several days in a hotel in Barcelona while they kept an eye on the considerably more luxurious hotels that were not too far away.

They were trying to verify that members of the French group Révolution were actually in the area and they were supposed to identify who specifically was present.

Sin didn't show much interest in the surveillance equipment or his bag. He walked over to the window and looked out, his eyes narrowed slightly in contemplation of something.

Boyd glanced at him but then turned his attention fully to the equipment. When he was finished he shifted a chair so one of them could sit there observing all the screens at once and still keep an eye on the room and the door in case they had any unexpected visitors. The other chair was dragged next to one of the beds in the corner, to get it out of the way.

After Boyd verified that the surveillance equipment was working and that it was recording successfully to the remote server, he looked over at Sin. The senior agent hadn't shown any more interest in the room, Boyd or the mission than he had since they'd first been informed of their destination.

They had stayed in silence for so long that when Sin spoke, it was abrupt.

"I'm going for supplies."

Boyd looked at him in consideration and then nodded. "I'll go with you."

Sin turned to look at him, green eyes flicking up and down before he turned away again. "Your call."

Boyd grabbed his messenger bag and a hotel key on the way out, then paused only long enough to slip a Do Not Disturb tab on the door. He followed Sin on the way out of the building and into the streets below. There was a fair amount of people in the area even at mid-morning and he took a moment to get his bearings straight. He thought about the maps he'd studied of Barcelona on the plane ride over and wondered what street would be best to check.

He turned around to ask Sin if he knew of any grocery stores nearby but Sin wasn't there. Boyd looked through the crowd quickly but the other man was nowhere to be seen. He had disappeared without a word.

Lips thinning, Boyd's fingers tightened on the strap of his bag. He couldn't help a moment of irritation with Sin for leaving so suddenly. If he hadn't wanted Boyd around, why couldn't he have said so in the room? Boyd could probably muddle his way through any interactions well enough but it was going to be difficult for him to do anything too complicated when he didn't know the language. And he was supposed to be keeping an eye on Sin to make sure nothing happened. That was his charge as Sin's partner.

Since he couldn't do anything about it now that Sin was gone, he decided to go about his own business. He headed toward Carrer de Mallorca to see if he could find anything there.

Tall buildings lined the streets, many six stories or more, with balconies off almost every window. The style was reminiscent of rowhouses back in the United States, with buildings built right up against one another and only occasional gaps in between.

Unlike the concrete sidewalks Boyd was accustomed to back home, most of the sidewalks were stone or at least had a design imprinted into them. It was the middle of the day and people were everywhere. The intersections were large and wide, and short cars seemed to be the vehicles of choice. People parked them haphazardly, sometimes double parking. Scooters and mopeds were driven up onto the sidewalks and parked diagonally like impromptu parking lots.

Small stores were scattered on the first floors of the buildings, while the upper levels largely seemed to be places for people to stay or live. The buildings were all different colors; tans and yellows and teal-greens. The architecture was intricate in some areas, with designs built into the building and trim work that was reminiscent of filigree. A few of the stores were closed with metal doors pulled down that were splattered with graffiti.

As he walked, Boyd found his gaze straying up the buildings, studying details here and there. It had been years since he'd thought about it, but he'd always had an interest in architecture and history. He liked to see the imprint of time on buildings, and the influence of the age on the construction itself.

He could see spires rising in the distance and at their sight, all annoyance with Sin was forgotten, as were his intentions to get supplies and head back as soon as possible.

The huge, intricate design of the Sagrada Familia rose like a sentinel in the middle of the city. Boyd's steps slowed as he approached and his eyes drifted up higher and higher, taking in the sheer size and presence of the Roman Catholic church. In some ways it was reminiscent of a castle, with several spires and a sprawling footprint.

People were crowded around it, craning their necks to try to stare up as far as they could. The building dwarfed everything around it. Every facade was completely covered with intricate details. Statues, reliefs and scenes were built into it and construction scaffolding could barely be seen on another side. The stained glass windows were made with shades of bright colors like teals, pale blues and near-yellows that stood out against the light brown building.

Boyd started walking a slow circuit around the Sagrada Familia, feeling a sense of wonder rekindle that he'd thought long gone. In school he'd once written a paper on Antoni Gaudí. As a child, repeated sickness had caused Gaudí to spend a lot of time alone with nature. Some people felt that such a connection had inspired his later architectural style.

To Boyd, there was no doubt that there was a lot more flow, interest and detail in Gaudí's designs than many others Boyd had seen. He enjoyed the way Gaudí made buildings seem like they came alive; perhaps because, to Boyd, whether something was living or not didn't change its presence. He'd felt the ghosts of his past haunting his home too often not to feel drawn to old buildings and places that felt like they were built for more than structure.

Walking around Sagrada Familia, Boyd was struck even more in person than he had been through the pictures with how complicated Gaudí's vision had been. Although Boyd was not religious and didn't care either way about that aspect of the work, he couldn't deny the magnitude of the design when he was standing there. It felt like there were hardly any blank places on the entirety of the building; everything was lines and movement and stories spelled out in figurines and symbols. Even the base of a column he passed had a turtle carved into it, as if it were supporting the column stretching high above it.

Boyd felt the weight of history. The church had been started back in 1882 and had originally been planned to be finished in 2026; in just a few years time. It still amazed Boyd that the Sagrada Familia hadn't been affected by the war but despite that good luck, the war had still set the final construction back another few years. It had been Boyd's hope since first learning of the Sagrada Familia that he would live to see its completion someday. Since he'd joined the Agency, he didn't know if that hope was fruitless after all.

Still, standing there at the base of a monument of history, Boyd felt grounded somehow. How many people had stood there over the decades, watching those spires grow taller and taller? Watching those scenes get cut into stone? How many generations had been there, and how many more would there be to come even after it was finished?

He spent some time around the Sagrada Familia but after a point all it did was make an artist's itch in the far back of his mind wish that he had a sketchbook and charcoal with him. And for all that he was interested in this, it wasn't what he was here for. After what felt like far too short of a time, he made himself regrettably pull away and go in search of supplies.

By the time he returned to the room, he had a bag of food that was as close to his special diet as he could manage. He also had picked up a bit of a headache from trying to converse with people in English and bits of Spanish he'd picked up while the other person rattled off Spanish as if they were competing for auctioneer of the month.

As the door swung shut behind him he glanced over and saw Sin sitting on the bed as calmly as if it had been their plan to split up all along. The senior agent had a bottle of chocolate milk on the end table next to him and a bag of pastries open on his lap. There was a canvas bag sitting on the floor by his bed that Boyd could only assume held the rest of the items he'd purchased.

"Took you long enough," Sin commented idly, as he chewed what appeared to be a cream filled fried pastry.

Boyd chose to ignore that and flicked his gaze along Sin's choices of sustenance instead. "Those are your supplies?"

Sin shrugged and licked some of the thick cream from where it had gotten on the side of his hand. "What should I get? Rations and bottled water? We're not exactly preparing for a battle in the trenches."

Boyd made a noncommittal noise and passed by Sin's canvas bag on his way to his bed. Inside the bag he saw some bottles of water and milk, chips, and a box of what looked like little sausages wrapped in pastry buns. They had a microwave and small fridge so Sin would be able to cool or reheat as he pleased, but Boyd still fought the urge to shake his head to himself.

He set down his own bag, containing milk for the protein shake powder he'd brought from the States, a rotisserie chicken, and a large side of rice. He'd looked over the menus at various restaurants and although he'd determined that he would likely end up buying paella and sarsuela at some point, the fridge wasn't large enough to keep enough food for their entire time in Spain. Since he'd needed to get back to surveil today, he'd decided to go the easy route and hope to get something more interesting in the following days.

He put some chicken and rice on a plate he'd bought and put the rest away in the fridge. He then settled down in the chair by the computers so he could keep an eye on the hotel while he ate. Still, he couldn't help being distracted thinking about how completely unhealthily Sin was eating, and how thin he appeared to be.

"You weren't assigned a diet?" he asked when the question wouldn't leave his mind.

Sin took out another pastry and looked up. "Yes." A pause. "Why, were you?"

"Yes." Boyd glanced at the pastry pointedly. "Mine didn't include sweets, not that I'd have much interest in them in the first place."

"Obviously I'm not following their guidelines."

"Why not?"

Sin stared at him as he chewed, cream smeared across his mouth and smudged on the side of it. It shouldn't have been possible to glare and eat like a child at the same time, but somehow Sin pulled it off. It almost seemed like he wouldn't answer at all, but then after swallowing he did.

"I don't normally get to pick out any of my own food."

"Why not?" Boyd asked again.

Sin arched an eyebrow as if the answer should be obvious. "I'm not allowed off the compound."

Boyd's expression didn't change although he hadn't been aware of that aspect of Sin's life. It made him wonder what else he may learn during this mission. "You've been off compound with me. Are you saying they don't allow you off compound alone or for reasons other than a mission?"

"That's what I'm saying," Sin said blandly. He sucked cream off his fingertips again.


This earned him a completely flat and unimpressed stare. "Are you fucking oblivious, or what?"

"No," Boyd said calmly. He took a moment to chew a piece of chicken as he considered Sin. "But I haven't been given much information despite the fact you're my partner."

"Huh." Sin shoved the bag of pastries to the side and sat up to retrieve his chocolate milk from the nightstand. "I thought it would be obvious that I'm considered too deranged to be free to roam the streets on my own."

"What is that assessment based on?"

"Surely you must have some clue."

"I know there are rumors and I've heard some of them," Boyd allowed. "As for how much is truth and how much exaggeration, I don't know. People often seem terrified of you for no reason, which leads me to distrust the validity of the rumors. So far, most of what I was informed of during training and what I've heard on compound is of little use to me."

Having finished his milk, Sin set the container down on the end table. He didn't answer for a stretch. He laid down on the bed and rubbed his hand over his stomach idly. His eyes drifted closed and once again it seemed that he wouldn't reply at all. But after a breath he spoke flatly.

"They're not all rumors."

And it was clear that the discussion was closed.

Boyd wondered what that meant. The comment did nothing to help him understand how many of the stories were false, or if any of them were false at all. If anything, it only generated more questions that he knew better than to ask. It seemed no one, not even Sin himself, was willing to give Boyd a straight answer when it came to the mysteries and misinformation that surrounded the man like smoke.

Rather than ponder something that would ultimately only frustrate him, he returned to his job. He finished his cooling meal while he watched the computer screens for signs of Révolution's movements.

The days bled into each other fairly quickly. Boyd's eyes began to burn from staring at the screens for too long but he knew he had to do it. If he didn't, Sin certainly wouldn't and the last thing Boyd needed was to fail this simple of a mission.

Because of that, he was hesitant to leave the room even to get food. When he ran low on chicken and rice, he asked Sin to pick him up some food and was surprised when the other man actually did it. While Boyd adhered to his strict diet, Sin continued to get whatever he felt like at the time. That seemed to be primarily snack foods, chips and desserts. Boyd didn't think he'd seen Sin eat an actual meal once since they'd stepped foot in Spain.

While Boyd fell into a routine of flicking his eyes between screens and trying to fend off growing headaches, Sin left the room at will. When he was around, he tended to be silent. One quirk Boyd learned fairly quickly was that Sin apparently liked to work out. He would spend hours every day working out tirelessly, doing push-ups, pull-ups using a bar in the closet and sit-ups. During the more boring times of nothing happening on the surveillance, Boyd found himself silently counting Sin's repetitions while he still kept his eyes on the screen.

After a few days Boyd finally had to look away from the screens. He'd noticed some activity so far that seemed to imply there was some truth to the Agency's suspicions but he didn't have enough yet to make a call either way. There had been no interesting movement for hours and his eyeballs throbbed as if he hadn't gotten any sleep in days. Which he hadn't; not much, at least.

He leaned back in the chair and stretched, his fingers interlocking as he twisted his arms toward the ceiling. He rolled his neck and felt a few satisfying pops and then dropped back against the chair with a quiet sigh he couldn't quite stifle. The wooden chair hadn't been made for comfort for hours on end and it was starting to dig into his back uncomfortably.

He looked over at Sin, watching as he rose and fell during his push ups. His muscles stood out in stark relief along his otherwise wiry body, and sweat glistened on him like a second skin. His black and red hair fell in slightly wavy tangles that framed his face. Boyd found himself unconsciously looking along the length of Sin's body before he focused on his face.

Sin didn't seem to notice Boyd was in the room, which was nothing new. It didn't bother Boyd much since he preferred silence to slurs any day, and Sin at least didn't seem to go out of his way to mock Boyd unnecessarily. Or at least not when Boyd was leaving him alone.

Still, after days of staring at the same hotel in the same few angles, he found himself wanting to talk. As unusual an urge that was for him, he had to acknowledge that he was still curious about Sin. They'd barely spoken since the abrupt end of the conversation on the first day and studying Sin was a welcome respite to the monotony of surveillance.

"Is that a daily regimen back home as well?"

"What?" was the distracted reply. Sin's eyes rose to focus on him without pause in his movements.

"Your workout," Boyd said, gesturing to Sin as if the senior agent needed to look at himself for a visual aid. "You're very dedicated. Is it a habit from home?"

One dark eyebrow arched at the word home. "Why do you want to know?"

Boyd shrugged and turned the chair so he could look at Sin more easily without craning his already tired neck. "I just wondered."

Sin held his gaze without halting. His arms moved up and down without pause, his muscles flexing and extending like well oiled machines. "I do it multiple times a day."

"You never grow tired?" Boyd asked, watching Sin thoughtfully.

Sin stopped his repetitions and pushed himself into a standing position. He wasn't wearing a shirt and the cotton pants he had on hung low on his hips before he tugged them up.

"Not particularly."

Boyd made a thoughtful noise. He got tired of working out after a couple of hours a day with breaks in between. Once Sin started he didn't seem to stop, and he was at it much more intensely and much longer than Boyd ever was. He didn't know where Sin got the energy.

"Your stamina is impressive," he commented.

There was a beat of silence and Sin said with a scoff, "I could say something, but I'll refrain."

Boyd's gaze lingered briefly on him, wondering whether that was a veiled insult. Regardless, if that was Sin's response to a compliment then Boyd assumed they were done talking for the moment. He looked dismissively away, turning his attention to the laptops once more. He noticed Sin moving around and heard the bathroom door shut, followed by the muffled rush of water, but didn't pay it any heed.

Many people came and went from the hotel but as had been too often the case, he didn't see anyone of note in the crowd. There was a brief moment in which he thought there was something of import happening. There was a stir in the crowd near an outdoor cafe in front of the hotel. Several people moved back and there seemed to be some sort of fight occurring in the middle of it all. But when Boyd switched to another view, he saw that it appeared to be nothing more than a jilted lover's brawl.

A woman was sitting at a table looking shocked while two men grappled with each other. One of them wore clothes with a matching jacket on the chair still pulled out across the table from the woman. None of the people involved were on the Agency's list and he didn't see anyone using the fight as a distraction to slip by unnoticed. The police showed up fairly quickly but Boyd had already returned to studying the other views.

Nothing else of interest occurred so when the bathroom door opened to a cloud of steam, Boyd automatically glanced up. He'd intended to look away immediately but was unexpectedly caught by the sight of Sin, naked and still dripping with water from the shower.

He was holding a towel at his side but when he raised his arm, he used it to rub some of the water out of his hair instead of covering himself. His entire body was exposed, showing a variety of scars that marred his olive skin. There was a smattering of scars that were obviously gunshots, many thick welts, a nasty scar that Boyd could see across Sin's throat partially covered by the collar, and a startling scar that started at his pelvis and arced down to his groin.

Sin turned away towards the pack that lay on his bed and began going through it. When he did, Boyd saw that he also had a scrawled tattoo on the back of his shoulder. After going over it twice, he recognized the quote as one from John Milton's epic Paradise Lost. 'So many and so various laws are giv’n; So many laws argue so many sins,' Boyd read silently.

He couldn't help taking in Sin's scars and tattoos along with his body itself. Although Sin often walked around shirtless and wore low-riding pants, it was the first time Boyd had seen the other man fully nude. He was thin in the waist but he was muscular, with broad shoulders that tapered into lean arms. When they'd been facing each other, Boyd also hadn't been able to help noticing that Sin was well-endowed. It all fell together to blend well with Sin's deep voice and those striking green eyes, set in a well-balanced face.

None of what Boyd saw surprised him. Every part of Sin's body seemed to match what Boyd was starting to associate with Sin as a person: attractive, unique, and with a hint of mystery.

More than anything, he wasn't particularly thrilled with himself for noticing how attractive Sin was. It didn't serve any purpose to note that. It wasn't going to help him do his job. And considering the fact that they could hardly hold a conversation for longer than several minutes, whether or not Sin's smooth voice fit the rest of him was completely irrelevant.

So he dismissed his reaction to Sin's body, although he couldn't help looking at the tattoo on Sin's shoulder again before he made himself look away. That tattoo was curious. Did it mean that Sin enjoyed classics or had he found the quote somewhere and liked it? From what Boyd understood of Sin's situation at the Agency, the quote certainly seemed appropriate. He was also curious about the scars, the nasty one arcing toward his groin in particular, but he doubted he would get a straight answer if he asked. Sin didn't seem interested in sharing too much personal information most of the time.

Even so, Sin was more talkative now than he used to be, which led Boyd to believe that the best way to make their partnership function on any level was to try to keep talking to the other man. Keep showing Sin that he didn't care about anything except doing his job and treating Sin according to how Sin presented himself to him. If Sin ended up being an unrepentant sociopath then it may affect Boyd's view of the other man but for the moment he saw nothing to be afraid of. And certainly nothing to make him treat Sin differently than anyone else.

"Are you going out?"

Sin tugged on a pair of jeans without putting on any underwear. "Yes."

"Where are you going?"

Sin looked at him over his shoulder. He was wearing the same contemplative, narrow-eyed stare he always had when Boyd questioned him about anything. It almost seemed like he was debating whether it was a genuine question of curiosity or if Boyd was trying to get at something more.

"I don't have a definite plan. I like to wander."

Boyd nodded. "Have you visited any of the tourist attractions?"

"Not intentionally," was the slightly muffled answer as Sin pulled on a dark green t-shirt that appeared washed out and threadbare.

"Do you dislike tourist attractions or is there another reason you say that?"

Sin ran a hand through his hair after adjusting his shirt, and gave Boyd another one of his long considering stares. It was difficult to tell what he was thinking or why such inane questions gave him pause sometimes.

"What's with all of this small talk lately?" he asked finally.

"I get bored in the room," Boyd replied with a faint shrug. It wasn't even untrue, although he did have the ulterior motive of feeling out Sin. "There hasn't been much of interest on the surveillance and since I can't leave, it makes me curious about the city and what you've been doing. So far I only briefly had the opportunity to visit the Sagrada Familia."

"No one's stopping you from going out. The equipment records."

"If I don't watch it now I'll just have to watch it later. At least in real-time, if something happens I know if we need to do additional surveillance or tailing."

"Suffer then," Sin replied blandly. "Although I don't know why you're taking it this seriously. This mission is a joke. I'm not entirely sure why they keep babying you like this."

"I couldn't say," Boyd said unconcernedly. It wasn't the first time Sin had said that about their missions. His gaze tracked along some movement on the right monitor and a faint frown pulled at the edges of his lips. "But if such a non-intensive mission were to fail I can't imagine it would go over well. So regardless of the severity of the mission, I'm going to take it seriously."

There was a light scoff as Sin put on his battered boots. "Doesn't it bother you that this is all getting you nowhere?"

The comment caused Boyd to look up at Sin. "In what way?"

Sin's eyes flicked up from tying his boots, his lips pursed slightly as he looked at his would-be partner. After a moment he finished and stood, never taking his eyes off Boyd. "How do you think this is going to end?"

"My partnership with you? Or my time at the Agency?"

That earned him a humorless smirk. "Isn't it the same thing? You're here because of me."

Boyd had to acknowledge that with a nod. He leaned back and watched Sin impassively. "Then, to answer your question it will likely end when I die on a mission. Chances are that will happen sooner rather than later."

The smirk had already disappeared and the corners of Sin's mouth turned down slightly as his vivid green eyes narrowed. A flash of something crossed his face but it was difficult to discern if it was irritation, disgust, or something entirely different.

Whatever the case was, Sin turned away from him. He started for the door and paused with his hand on the doorknob. His fingers grazed it but before it turned, he looked back at Boyd again.

"Don't you have anything better to fucking do other than babysit and eventually get killed by some psycho?"

"No," Boyd said honestly. "I don't."

Sin gave him a long considering look before shaking his head and walking out the door.

Continue to Chapter 8