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 Twenty-One

Sin left the conference room soon after Boyd, walking quickly towards his apartment with a strong desire to get far away from everyone else. The entire mission had been an utter disaster and now, one or both of them would possibly be sent up to the Fourth or terminated as a result. His one hope was that Vivienne would intervene and Carhart would spin things the right way. Connors would never let them get away clean unless someone covered their asses.

Growling in frustration, Sin ran a hand through his hair and stopped pacing. He replayed the entire mission in his mind and didn't come up with any different of a scenario than he had the night before. He couldn't handle it when Boyd reacted negatively to him, and Boyd obviously couldn't handle the backlash. There was no doubt that their argument had been the cause of his little freak show, and that was something that Sin couldn't deny.

It would have been nice to claim no responsibility and wash his hands of Boyd altogether. It would have been nice to be able to dismiss Boyd completely like he had his previous dumb ass partners. But the catalyst of the previous night had been their rapidly deteriorating interaction. It seemed like no matter what happened, things just kept spiraling down further to make every situation worse. And he had no idea what to do about this situation. He turned the thing over in his mind again and again, but no matter what-- he came up empty. It was something that was beyond his grasp to understand.

Sin was still struggling with it when there was a quiet tapping on his door. Half hopeful but also half disturbed that it may be Boyd, Sin looked through the peep hole and saw that it was Ryan. Having no idea what the hell this could be about, Sin swung the door open.


Ryan opened his mouth, looked at the guards that stood at each side of the door, and then gave Sin a hopeful look.

"Can we talk? It's about, ah... a mutual friend. Y'know."

Sin glared at him for a moment before stepping to the side, allowing the R&D agent access. He slammed the door shut almost immediately after and moved further into the apartment.

"To what do I owe this pleasure, Freedman?"

Ryan shrugged, taking off his gloves and rubbing his hands together anxiously. He was visibly nervous and his large indigo eyes flit around the apartment slightly, as if he couldn't or didn't want to look closely at Sin. For a long time it seemed that he wouldn't even spit out what he'd come to say but then he sighed, and looked at the senior agent fully.

"I'm worried about Boyd. I wanted to know what really happened on that mission."

"Why? So you can go write out a full report?" Sin asked caustically, crossing his arms over his chest. "I don't think so."

A flash of annoyance colored Ryan's expression and he frowned. "You know, I'm Boyd's friend. I actually care about him, and worry about him, and want him to be okay. I'm not going to go running to report back to anyone, for your damn information."

This caused Sin's dark eyebrows to raise and he gave the younger man an assessing look. He seemed steadfast and genuinely angry about the implication. Ryan was so easy to read that it seemed impossible that he'd be capable of any kind of subterfuge anyway.

"What does this information mean to you?"

"I told you. I'm worried about him! He's had a really bad few weeks, especially the other day, and now he blew a mission this bad? I feel like--" Ryan faltered and looked away, twining his hands together as his lips turned down. "I just get the feeling... maybe he messed up on purpose. It's not like him."

Sin held up his hand to prevent Ryan from talking anymore. His green eyes had narrowed and he walked closer, only stopping when he was inches away from Ryan. "Bad few weeks how? He didn't even have any missions while I was gone as far as I know."

"He didn't," Ryan admitted a little reluctantly. He sighed and shifted from foot to foot, discomfort clear in his body language. "But like, whenever he did come to the compound for whatever reason... I dunno. People have been hard on him."

"People are always hard on him," Sin said flatly, not seeing where this was going.

"Yeah but it's worse now. Somehow the thing about him being a valentine got out. I have no idea how, and it pisses me off so much that maybe Jeff or Owen said something. I mean it's also possible that like... I dunno, maybe an admin somewhere saw paperwork or put in his status and changed it and word got spread that way but either way, people know. And the people who didn't like him before have been harping on it big time, man."

Ryan gave Sin an imploring look and shook his head of curls and cowlicks back and forth. "You know how most of these fieldies are! You know better than anyone! So many of them have that super testosterone homophobic attitude... and he's an easy target already. Last week-- last week was really bad. They made a spectacle of him in the courtyard right in front of everyone, I heard. Showing how he couldn't even take them all and he's supposed to be rank 9. They even spit on him when he was down. And like-- even the person who told me, didn't even step in to help. It was just like, they left him there on the ground with a mouthful of blood and no one even thought to help him up. And that is fucking harsh, dude! That's like... I dunno. I don't know how he must be feeling right now."

Sin's automatic reaction was to demand who had been there and go show them what a rank 10 would do to take them all, but he made himself stop. He closed his eyes briefly, trying to ignore the anger and tension that had built in his shoulders during the speech and took a slow breath. No matter what happened between he and Boyd, there was a part of him that was unflinchingly protective of the boy. It was the same part of him that unhesitatingly almost took several bullets just to keep Boyd out of harm's way.

"I don't know what to do about any of this," he answered finally, evenly. "I completely fail at sympathy. My solution to this problem is gutting them all, and I've already tried the murder-to-avenge Boyd's honor thing, and it didn't pan out. He and I, we don't communicate very well. In fact, I'd say we rather fail spectacularly at it. It's better if I just stay the hell out of his problems at all."

"No, no, no!" Ryan snapped, his voice getting louder with each "no." He shook his head, eyes narrowing. "Jesus, you both do fail at communication. I don't know how two such smart, talented people can be so damn stupid. Either you ignore each other or you insult each other, that's basically what I'm getting here. And I know you both care about each other! He was so torn up about all of that France stuff--"

"What exactly do you know about France stuf--"

"And he thought you hated his guts, but I can tell just by your attitude that you obviously don't. The way you treat Boyd is like 500% better than the way you treated your previous partners and everyone damn else, but he doesn't want to see that, and you just want to be super dick and push him away! I don't get it!"

Sin blinked, mouth parting and then closing. "And-- and what do you expect that I do to solve this?"

"Just go talk to him, damn it! Geez, is that so hard for both of you to understand? It must damn well be, because neither of you do it even though it's the easiest solution to it all." Ryan ran a hand through his hair, scowling and shaking his head as he put his gloves back on. "Just... just tell him what you told me if nothing else. 'Cause right now, I bet he doesn't think he has anyone on his side."

Frowning, Sin looked away briefly. Even as mad as he was at Boyd at the moment, the idea of that bothered him. Sin had spent most of his life being alienated from the compound. The possibility of Boyd lumping him in with the rest of them was disturbing, especially when it wasn't true. Sin's issues with Boyd were pretty specific.

"Well then, where is he if you think this plan will be so easy and fail proof? Can you tell me that as well?"

"I dunno. Carhart said that he needed a full report within the hour so he probably is going to have to go do that since he took responsibility for the mission. You should probably do one too."


Ryan's face broke out into a hopeful grin. "So you're really going to--"

Sin walked out of the door without listening to the rest of what Ryan had to say.

Boyd didn't even bother leaving the building as he knew his mother would be summoning him, so he was completely unsurprised to be alerted to go to her office immediately. Ann barely looked at him as she buzzed him into his mother's office.

He had just entered the room and barely even had time to close the door behind him when he felt a sudden stinging ache on one cheek. He blinked, stunned more from the act than the strength, and brought one hand up to his cheek as he looked over with widened eyes.

Vivienne stood to the side of the door, her entire attention focused on him for one of the few times in his life. Her eyes were like ice that had no bottom, absolutely frigid, and her posture was tense with fury. She had touched him so rarely for any reason that it took Boyd a shocked second to realize that she'd just hit him.

"What is the matter with you?" she demanded, her voice low and coldly furious in a way he didn't know he'd ever heard. It caused his throat to close and mouth to dry. "Have you no intelligence? No shame? Is there a shred within you worth saving?"

That cut through him and he felt any hope crumble for this meeting to resolve peacefully. Her words hurt him more than he expected. Did she really believe he was so worthless?

His mouth opened but no words would come. Even if he'd known what to say, it would been caught in his throat.

She raised a hand palm up to him, telling him immediately without words to stop. "Do not speak," she ordered coldly. "I do not wish to hear your excuses. I can hardly look at you. I am of half a mind to mark you for termination now and be done with the entire debacle of your existence."

Boyd swallowed but didn't dare speak, and that was the only thing that seemed to keep her anger from growing. She turned on her heel and strode back to her desk, jerking the chair out with white-knuckled fingers. He'd never seen her so obviously agitated. She typically kept a tight rein on her emotions even when angry. He couldn't help acknowledging that this was his fault too; this out of character display of his mother's.

"Where do I begin?" She leveled a hard stare at him that told him he had damn well better walk over to the desk and sit down immediately before she ordered guards to do it for him.

He followed the unspoken directive and lowered himself into the chair. He tightened his fingers around the arms of the chair and kept his back straight, but he couldn't stop the dread that grew in his stomach every second her unsympathetic stare drilled through him.

"Do you understand how difficult it is to be a woman and succeed in this type of environment?" Her eyes narrowed and lips tightened. "Can your insignificant brain even begin to comprehend how I struggled to be taken seriously? How much time and effort I exerted in order to reach this position-- the years I spent and the assumptions that were made along the way?"

She let the question hang in the air a moment and then leaned forward. "Years of despicable accusations of my integrity put into question simply for succeeding in a male-dominated world, and I was able to avoid it all. And you--" Her lips twisted into as close to a scowl as he'd ever seen, her typically calm face shifting to disgust. "You bring it all into question in seconds through your inability to consider the situation."

Boyd opened his mouth, automatically wanting to deny or apologize, but she stopped him with a raised hand again and a sharp, impenetrable glare.

"Do not patronize me, child," she said, voice dripping with contempt. "I am utterly uninterested in your reasons. While I cannot blame you for your dedication to the cause, I am disgusted by your actions. Do you realize the stigma of the valentine status? Do you understand the consequences of your actions?"

"But I didn't know," Boyd protested. "If I had--"

"Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse," she cut him off icily. "The fact that for all intents and purposes you volunteered for the status puts you in an entire class of your own. It is even more pathetic that you are in this situation without it being a necessity. If you had put more faith in your ability to negotiate through words rather than in bed, neither of us would be in this embarrassing predicament. Or perhaps you used his alleged recalcitrance as an excuse to engage in acts with the first known homosexual you encountered?"

Boyd's mouth opened and then closed. He shook his head, his fingers tightening on the chair. "It wasn't like that--"

"Because from my perspective," she continued in a hard tone over his protestations, "you wasted no time in establishing yourself as a promiscuous homosexual embarrassment to stain my record. And as we are, unfortunately, related by blood, every one of your incompetent actions is reflected on me." Her eyes narrowed. "A fact which I am steadily growing to detest."

"I was just trying to succeed in the mission," Boyd said, the words seeming so destined to failure once he spoke them. "I didn't want to disappoint you."

Vivienne actually let out a scoff at that. "If that is the case, your ability to achieve the exact opposite of your goal is astounding." She let the silence cut into him a second longer before she narrowed her eyes and sat back in her chair, her hands intertwining in her lap. "As I understand it, Jeffrey Styles is in the process of continuing to decipher the information, yes?"

Boyd nodded silently.

"Very well. That does imply that the information is legitimate. It is possible the debacle will end with a small measure of success. However, understand this much: you have officially been given the designation of a homosexual valentine operative."

Boyd's stomach sunk at that but he couldn't say he was surprised. He nodded again, this time in acknowledgment.

"As you were capable of acquiring information that we assume to be useful, it implies that your skills in that department are adequate." Her face took on an unpleasant quality, as if she did not wish to think about this but felt compelled to mention it regardless.

"However, with this new talent in your repertoire," her tone made it seem insulting, "I expect you to do what you must in order to be more than adequate in the future. Anything less than perfect success in future endeavors will only cause a humiliating renewal of questions. Should you refuse or fail, you will jeopardize your job, I will be held accountable for the fact that you are now apparently too good to do any dirty work, and it will only resurrect this debacle. If you had been intelligent enough to avoid this issue in the first place we would not be having this conversation. However you remain as incompetent as you have been for much of your life, and now I must do damage control."

She gave him a hard stare. "Do you understand?"

Boyd's mouth was dry and he nodded again. He didn't even bother trying to ask if there was a way to remove the designation. He knew there wasn't one without asking, and he knew it would only anger her more if he said anything about it.

He couldn't even be surprised by the fact that his mother was in essence telling him to be a better prostitute than the others. Her sense of duty to work above all else had been one of the few constants of hers in his life, and he knew better than to question it. He felt the sense of hopelessness that had been plaguing him before grow even stronger.

There was a pause as she regarded him coldly. "And should the topic arise, I expect that you will make it clear that it is your own degraded values that caused you to make that choice. I want nothing to do with your promiscuity in the rumors, do you understand me? I have already suffered enough fall out through no fault of mine. It is not my fault you grew up to be a homosexual, and equally not my fault that you so easily sleep with any male who for whatever godforsaken reason seems interested in you. It is especially not my fault that in such cases you apparently cannot keep the knowledge to yourself."

Her eyes narrowed as she scrutinized him. "Are you having intercourse with that creature of a partner?"

"What?" Boyd asked, taken off guard by the question. "No. Why would you--"

"I suggest you keep it that way," she said flatly. "Your reputation is poor enough without adding that abomination to your record." She didn't let him comment on that. She sat up straighter and regarded him with a piercing stare.

"Now. Onto your latest disaster. Do not attempt to lie so blatantly to me as you did to General Carhart. I am well aware that the fault is yours and yours alone for the failure of that mission."

When she saw his expression, her eyebrows ticked up. "Do not underestimate me, child. It is my job to be informed. I have an extensive network of contacts and have access to more media outlets than you could imagine. After reviewing the varied reports, I am still at a loss as to your motivation. What on Earth possessed you to believe you could enter in such a manner? You had adequate time to formulate a plan. What happened?"

When Boyd did not answer immediately, not certain what to say, her eyes narrowed and a knowing look crossed her face. "Ah. I see."

"What?" Boyd asked suspiciously when she did not continue.

"You were feeling childish again, no doubt," she told him dismissively. "Did you feel the need to repeat the melodrama from a few years ago? Are you truly so pathetic that suicidal tendencies are your only means of coping with anything that does not go your way?" Her lips tightened. "I cannot believe your incompetence. If you are so intent on dying, be more efficient about it. Your behavior thus far is shameful and unacceptable."

Boyd actually felt the world go still at her words. He stared at her, shocked, and didn't know how to react. Her words echoed Sin's so closely that he felt his stomach clench. Knowing Sin and his mother felt the same way about him hurt far more than he would have anticipated.

She stared at him for one long, hard moment before she shook her head and looked away. "I am finished with this conversation. I expect marked improvement from you in the future. If you disappoint me, I expect to see you back in my office. You are quickly becoming the greatest weakness of mine in this agency and I will not have you bring me down after the time it took for me to reach this position."

Her tone was dead serious when she continued. "The Agency does not have time to deal with children and their incompetence and neither do I. Be thankful that I care enough about my reputation to sometimes protect yours. Dismissed."

Boyd stood and walked to the door, but when his fingers curled around the door handle he couldn't make himself walk out. He had a tenuous hold on his sense of self-worth, and maybe it was the need to feel like he had done one right thing some time in his life that made him turn back and look at her.

"Do you...?"

So many questions were rolled into those two charged words. Sentences he could not bring himself to finish. Do you regret having me? Do you hate me? Do you ever remember loving me? Do you wish I never existed? Do you truly wish I'd die?

His eyes burned at the thought of those questions; at the thought of hearing the answers he was afraid he would receive. His heart pounded and he felt the emotions intensify within him against his wishes.

He wanted her to care for him. He wanted to not disappoint her. He wanted her to look at him with approval. He wanted her voice to soften. He wanted her to look at him like he was human and not something caught beneath her shoe.

He wanted-- needed-- something to cling to in order to feel like this wasn't all hopeless. To feel like someone thought he was still worthwhile, on some minute level. That someone he cared about deeply could still see something in him worth loving.

"Have you ever once been proud of me?" The question came out more hesitant than he'd intended. His heart felt like it clenched now that the words were out in the open.

But if Vivienne noticed the vulnerability in him at that moment, she didn't let it show. She looked up at him, her expression unimpressed. "I have no time for your frivolity," she said flatly. "Leave my office at once. You have been dismissed."

He felt like she'd slapped him in the face again. He leaned back, as if to pull away from a physical attack, and he looked away with a subdued nod. When he turned and walked out, he felt like he was shutting the door on a lifeline.

He couldn't keep the same facade of complete confidence and a disregard of everything around him when he walked away. He felt like the world had stopped moving properly around him. The scathing anger and disgust he'd been seeing in too many expressions lately made him feel like there was no longer a point to any of it.

Depression overwhelmed him. He felt completely hopeless. Everyone who mattered to him hated him, or would grow to hate him when they knew what he'd done. When they understood about Alexis. He'd never asked for much in his life, although he'd been lucky enough to be born to a family that at least had the money to provide for him.

All he'd ever wanted, all he'd ever based his self-worth on, was being accepted by someone. Being wanted by someone. He'd wanted his mother to love him; he'd wanted his father to be proud; he'd wanted to live with Lou for the rest of his life.

But everything kept falling apart around him.

He'd survived something when he shouldn't have years ago and maybe now it was all catching up to him. If someone had to die that day, it should have been him, not Lou. It would have been better for everyone. He wouldn't have spent that agonizing time struggling through the verge of insanity and coming out deadened only to have it all be pulled away from him bit by bit-- Giving him hope at first that he'd found something, someone, to accept him, only for it all to be ripped away and thrown in his face.

Sin, his mother, the others on compound... They all hated him; they all wanted to see him broken down until there was nothing left. And soon, he thought as the pain welled and clogged his throat, they would get their wish. Wasn't that what he deserved anyway? After the things he'd done; after the mistakes he'd made-- he deserved everything that came his way.

He deserved to suffer and he deserved to die.

At the thought, he realized he may have a solution. He had to write that report within the hour. If he told the truth-- if he said that he'd sabotaged the mission on his own, and he somehow made it seem like he'd forced the others to cover for him, maybe he could make everyone happy. The Agency would terminate him and no one else would blamed. It would look bad for his mother that her son had messed up on a mission so bad he needed to be killed, but people would forget over time. Sin could be reassigned someone else, Adam Blake probably, and he would be happier.

Everyone would be better off when he was gone.

He turned and walked toward the fourteenth level. The huge reference library had become his safe haven over the past few months, which helped in this case when he felt so discouraged and upset.

When he walked inside, he was relieved to find it empty. He headed immediately for his preferred computer toward the back and dropped into a chair. When he was confronted with the log in screen, he realized what he was about to do. His only concern was that he write this properly so he took the blame for everything. So no one else would receive even a second of repercussion.

He stared at the screen, trying to think well enough to formulate what he would say. But he couldn't think of a way to believably explain how everyone had covered for him in the meeting. He leaned forward, his hands digging in his hair as he dropped his head down.

Why couldn't he even do this right? Why was he so hopeless at everything? Why was someone like him who was so painfully fucking stupid still alive?

His breath felt shallow and echoing in his chest and he squeezed his eyes shut. Frustration and hopelessness flared within him and he pushed himself up. He walked away from the computer and sat down at a table. He dropped his head into his hands again, this time trying to make his mind work. Trying to think so he could figure out what to write.

He hadn't been there long before the door opened again behind him and footsteps moved into the room. Boyd felt so miserable that he didn't even bother to look at the newcomer. He was still slouched at the table when a familiar voice rang out.

"Well look who's here. The little blond bitch who doesn't know when to mind his own business."

Boyd glanced over. He couldn't even be surprised by Harry's appearance. None of it mattered. Maybe it was karmic retribution anyway. He turned away from Harry and kept his head in his hands.

Footsteps could be heard crossing the floor before Harry moved around the table and came closer to Boyd. He leaned in, grabbing Boyd's chin to turn his face to the side. He looked down at Boyd with narrowed, hateful eyes.

"Thanks to you, my pay has been docked for months. The bitch in payroll just says to me it's my own problem for getting temporarily demoted. She says I shouldn't have gotten myself reported."

Boyd jerked his head away, not having the patience to deal with Harry interrupting his solitude. "Maybe you shouldn't have been a pervert in the first place," he said, uncaring. "That would have probably helped you more."

Harry's lips curled up and he leaned in further, running his hand up Boyd's cheek before twining his fingers in long strands of blond hair. He yanked Boyd closer with his grip. "Do you ever think that maybe your partner... wants it? Maybe that's why he shows off for me. He knows it turns me on when those cocksucking lips start talking all of that trash."

Anger shot through Boyd on Sin's behalf as his expression twisted in disgust. "He doesn't want anything to do with you, you piece of shit," he sneered caustically. "You're a pathetic fuck who can't help seeing what he wants in the world even when it's a complete lie, because no one in their right mind would ever want to be near you." He reached up to disentangle Harry's hand from his hair.

"That's where you're wrong," Harry smirked, and used his foot to pull the chair out from under Boyd.

The sudden loss of stability caused Boyd to fall forward, cracking his chin against the table. Pain blossomed but before he could do anything, Harry slammed his face against the table top and yanked him up. Boyd ended up bent over the table with Harry holding him down, their legs bent and pressed against each other. Boyd struggled to push Harry off him but the guard was much heavier and stronger than he was, so he settled with glaring mockingly at him as best he could with his cheek shoved against the table.

"Yeah?" Boyd challenged recklessly. "How am I wrong? Sin doesn't like you. He doesn't want you. He would kill you in a heartbeat if it wouldn't inconvenience him by being sent to the fourth. You're a psychotic sex offender who's been stalking him and is deluded into seeing bullshit that isn't there. If I had my way, you'd be castrated and forced to eat your own balls." He jerked against Harry's hold. "Or maybe you'd choke on them and make my day even better."

Harry's hand snaked around Boyd's hip and slipped down. Without pause, he grabbed Boyd's testicles through his pants and squeezed hard. "What's that you were saying about balls, princess?"

Boyd felt equal parts fury and revulsion at the touch and he shoved his weight against the table, trying to find a way to push Harry off him. "Get the fuck off me," he seethed.

"This is what I'm talking about," Harry said in his ear, the shape of his mouth forming a smirk. He began rubbing his hand along the shape of Boyd's balls, massaging hard. "You all get me so fired up and then pretend not to want to play ball." He squeezed harder, bumping his groin against the back of Boyd's ass to make his growing erection obvious. "Maybe you're like Vega. Maybe you just want to play rough."

Rage overcame everything else. Boyd braced himself against the table and was finally able to get in a position where he could hook one leg behind Harry's. He knocked Harry's knee out from under him, throwing him off balance just long enough for Boyd to use the stability of the table to wrench himself away. He turned around and punched Harry furiously across the jaw but Harry just rocked with the motion, laughing.

"If you ever hurt him again I will fucking kill you," Boyd growled, glaring venomously.

"You think you can, princess?" Harry chuckled, seemingly unfazed by the attack. "Because I doubt it. You're nothing but a skinny little girl. My cock would split you in half if I fucked you."

He reared his large fist back and slugged Boyd across the face. Boyd fell backwards across the table, and rolled off to the side. Before he could get up into a defensive crouch, Harry jerked him up by his shirt and slammed him head first into one of the glass doors of a nearby bookcase. Pain exploded in Boyd and for a moment he was blinded by blood. But he still fought furiously against Harry, twisting in the other man's grip and attempting to strike him in the throat or face.

Harry grabbed his wrist and twisted his arm back violently, causing intense pain to radiate throughout Boyd. He shouted and tried to escape the hold but the pressure made it obvious that his shoulder would pop out of place if he moved wrong. Taking advantage of the situation, Harry yanked Boyd around once again and kicked his feet out so that he was half bent over and supported by the broken bookcase.

Harry's free hand snaked around Boyd's waist to undo his pants. The guard's breath began to quicken as the zipper lowered, and he seemed to become even more excited as Boyd tried to twist away.

"Stop-- You fucking--" Boyd snarled, trying to ignore the panicked voice in his mind that pointed out he may not be able to stop this. He tried to crane his neck, looking for the surveillance cameras. Surely someone had to have seen this by now. Someone had to be sending help.

Harry yanked at Boyd's pants and underwear, shoving them down to his thighs and exposing his bare skin. Boyd hissed and jerked away, feeling his arm stretch unnaturally in the movement. Pain was white noise that eclipsed his thoughts for a second and he automatically stilled.

As Harry's breath quickened further into a harsh pant, Boyd heard the rustle of Harry undoing his own pants. Within seconds, Boyd felt a hard erection press against his bare ass cheeks and he automatically tensed his entire body. He started to protest but his words were cut off when Harry shoved his face against the glass with a crack that made the glass shudder but not break.

Temporarily stunned, Boyd realized he was going to have to dislocate his shoulder to get away. His face was pressed against the glass, making it impossible not to see the reflection in it. The vilely anticipatory way Harry was looking at him was sickening in conjunction with the movement of Harry dropping a hand to his own erection and the little noises of excitement he was making in Boyd's ear.

Boyd felt disgusted. Part of him wanted to rip Harry apart for this and part of him, the part that felt worthless and self-loathing, wondered if he deserved this. Wondered if maybe it wasn't worth fighting for anything anymore. Harry would just catch him before he could escape. He would only cause himself more pain; but then, maybe he deserved that after everything he'd done.

Maybe he could anger Harry into beating him to death after this. Then he wouldn't have to worry about properly wording that report and everyone would be happy to know he'd died feeling pained and humiliated. That sort of disgraceful death suited him, anyway. Or, if that didn't work and Harry just left...

Harry's grip tightened on Boyd. He'd paused briefly, possibly wanting Boyd to fight again so he could exert his control, or possibly reveling in the feel of Boyd's bare skin against his. Whatever it was didn't last longer than the thoughts careening through Boyd's mind.

Harry steered his cock toward Boyd's ass and started to press against him. Boyd was just bracing for agony-- either of Harry raping him bareback or of his shoulder being ripped from its socket-- when through the glass he suddenly realized he saw something.

Shadowy hands appeared around Harry's head in the brief seconds before he was able to penetrate Boyd and with a simple movement the snapping of a neck could be heard. Boyd could hardly breathe in shock. For a moment he didn't move, even when he felt Harry drop to the floor behind him and he found himself staring wide-eyed into Sin's reflection.

Boyd's legs felt unstable beneath him as the entirety of the situation hit him. He'd almost-- He'd just been-- And Sin--

He leaned against the bookshelf, unable to stop from shaking, and was almost afraid to turn around. Feeling exposed, he fumbled with his pants until he could jerk them up. Only then did he turn. His face felt ashen and sticky with rivulets of blood and his eyes were still widened when he took in Sin. His gaze was caught on his partner and the rush of shock and confusion he felt at seeing him there.

Sin stood there silently, the hands he'd just used to break Harry's neck dangling loosely at his sides. Harry's body lay at his scuffed boots, but Sin didn't even glance at the dead man. He stared at Boyd with a completely alien expression on his face. His mouth was slightly parted, eyes wider than usual and glittering strangely in the dim light of the room.

For the first time, emotions were clearly visible on his face and he didn't seem to be trying to hide them.

Sin looked away for a brief moment, eyes finally dropping down to Harry's body before he once again met Boyd's frightened gaze. The fury was in his eyes, the cold deadliness that made them glow like green fire, but the strange thing was the insanity that normally accompanied that look of black anger was missing. In its place was guilt. Boyd could only stare with caught breath as he felt wary hope that maybe Sin didn't hate him as much anymore. Maybe it could be okay.

Sin's eyebrows drew together as he gazed at Boyd and he opened his mouth, starting to say something. Before he could speak the door burst open and a high-pitched whine shot through the room.

The moment that had been developing between them was gone in the space of a breath. Like a snapped rubberband, the next few minutes seemed to jerk forward and move too quickly for proper reactions or comprehension. Suddenly guards were surrounding them and Sin was falling to his knees, hands clutching at the collar as they sent shock wave after shock wave through him mercilessly. The guards were shouting and cursing as someone began frantically trying to revive Harry.

Boyd was too stunned to react at first; Sin had not broken eye contact and for a moment he could only stare. Sin wasn't even struggling against the collar or the guards. Although chaos surrounded them, the sounds were removed and distant until it finally clicked in Boyd's mind what was happening.

"Wait," Boyd said urgently. "Stop it!" His expression turned frantic as he started to look away for someone to stop torturing Sin with the collar. But Sin shook his head at him wordlessly, his expression telling him not to interfere.

Boyd looked at Sin desperately-- not understanding and thinking he must be misinterpreting. He opened his mouth to protest but Sin's expression remained firm. Boyd's eyes brightened and the words he meant to say, the words he was going to shout to defend Sin and protest that Sin had only been saving him, died on his lips. He shook his head wordlessly at Sin, begging him with his eyes and the way his eyebrows twisted up for Sin to let him say something. But Sin looked dead certain and Boyd's protests remained caught in his throat.

All Boyd could do was watch helplessly as Sin began to spasm. Blood began to spill from the sides of his mouth and Boyd wanted to wrench his eyes away but he couldn't. He felt sickened by what he was seeing and he didn't understand why Sin stopped him; why he continued to watch Boyd with that deadset stare for as long as he could. It seemed like forever until Sin's eyes finally rolled back in his head and he fell unconscious. Even then, the collar continued to shock him for several seconds.

Boyd's arms wrapped around his stomach and he stared at Sin even as the chaos continued around him. Someone yelled that Harry was dead, someone else was asking what happened, and one of the guards suddenly kicked Sin violently in the side.

Boyd couldn't keep himself from jerking forward at that, shouting, "Stop that!"

He intended to shove them all away from Sin, to protect him when he couldn't protect himself, but a hand caught his arm and pulled him back firmly. Looking over a little wildly, Boyd was surprised to see Luke Gerant staring at him with a somber expression and shaking his head, one hand holding him gently but firmly in place.

Darting his attention back to Sin, Boyd watched as several of the guards hoisted him up and dragged him away. One of the other guards pulled Harry's pants up before they picked his body up and carried him away as well.

It didn't take long for Gerant and Boyd to be alone in the room. Boyd's breath was quick and a little uncontrolled. His mind was reeling from everything that had just happened, seemingly all at once. He was incapable of looking away from where Sin had disappeared and his hands dropped at his sides, curling into fists.

Gerant surveyed the bruises and cuts all over Boyd's face and the way he held himself gingerly. He glanced quickly at the surveillance cameras in the room.

"You're bleeding," Gerant said not unkindly and pulled lightly on Boyd's arm. "You need to go to the medic."

"No," Boyd said, shaking his head. He pulled away, heading toward the door. "I need to see Sin."

"No," Gerant said steadfastly, walking with him. "You can later. Right now you need to see the medic."

"But Sin--"

"After a shock like that he will be unconscious for awhile," Gerant told him softly.

Boyd felt horrified thinking about the pain Sin must have been going through and the idea of him waking up on fourth. Not only that-- almost positively in the box. There was no way they were bringing him anywhere else.

The sentiment must have shown in his expression because Gerant only shook his head.

"Listen, you won't do him any good if you pass out from blood loss. Your face is pretty messed up; you need to get it looked at and is that glass stuck in your forehead?" He frowned at Boyd's wounds but Boyd only shook his head silently and let Gerant pull him along.

He said nothing as Gerant brought him down to the medic's office and left him there, nor would he explain any of his injuries to the staff. They were used to his silence and did their best to clean him up.

Boyd stared pensively into blank space, ignoring the hands moving in and out of his vision and the distant pricks of pain. His mind was racing. Sin had gotten hurt for him again. No matter what else had happened between them, no matter how depressed and hopeless he had felt just an hour earlier, he felt resolve harden his mind for what was to come.

Sin had helped him. He'd come back for him. And he didn't seem to hate Boyd anymore-- not if that stretch of time before they'd been yanked apart was anything to go by.

And knowing that, there was only one thing he could do. He would save Sin because Sin had saved him, and he didn't care what he had to do in order to achieve that.

Continue to Chapter 22