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 Thirty-Four

In the summer, Monterrey sweltered. The heat was nearly palpable, the air heavy with humidity as the sun's surprisingly strong rays streamed through the mist of cirrus clouds which stretched across the sky. The pavement burned against the bare feet of unruly children and ice cream melted down their arms before they even took the first bite. People disappeared during the height of the day and reappeared in the evening when the sun was beyond the horizon. The smell of sweat was thick in the air and it rolled off the bodies of people whether they were standing and talking, jogging or fucking.

The heat was either an instigator or an aphrodisiac; it made tempers hot and lust hotter. It brought out the primal instincts in people; especially those who were used to the cool, steady climate of northeastern America where it barely reached above 60 degrees during any season since the war.

Sin and Boyd were no exception to that; sometimes they were irritable roommates who were not above arguing over whose turn it was to wash dishes or do laundry. Other times they were fuck buddies, panting and sweating against the sheets or the cool concrete of the floor; writhing and moaning, urgently making each other come and basking in a post-coital daze as the sun streamed through the curtains and heated their already burning bodies.

They fell into a routine and for most of the summer it was easy to forget that they were even on assignment.

The long meandering summer allowed them the time to fully explore each other, to figure out each other's likes and dislikes, to become as accustomed to each other's bodies as they were their personalities.

Sin figured out that despite the fact that Boyd liked having control in most situations, he got off on being denied, on being teased and being made to beg for it. He also figured out that Boyd was loud; that he could moan in a way that sent a shiver down Sin's spine.

He learned a few things about himself as well. After the initial hesitance and paranoia about hurting his partner, he realized that sometimes he couldn't help being rough. He couldn't help fucking Boyd almost violently sometimes, encouraged by Boyd's needy pleas and loud moans; by the way he came hard without Sin even having to touch his cock whenever Sin's erection slammed into his prostate. He learned that a kiss on his neck or ear could give him an almost instant erection and that he liked sucking Boyd's dick, liked swallowing his come.

He also realized that he was satisfied and that for the first time in his entire life, he could actually, honestly say that he knew what happiness was because he was experiencing it.

He could honestly say that Boyd wasn't just his partner, he was his friend and, shockingly, he was a friend who had no qualms with stopping over at Lunar some evenings to hang out or to be fucked in the grimy bathroom at the club. He was a friend who wasn't afraid to walk home at four in the morning in a bad neighborhood because he had the skills to silence any street thug who got cocky.

People who saw them at the club automatically knew that they were sleeping together. It was in the way their eyes strayed over the other's body, the almost teasing smirks that seemed to be a promise for later although they were anything but affectionate in front of others, or even alone.

Most people mistakenly thought they were in a relationship, gave them the titles of lovers, but Sin denied it. They were best friends and partners who'd finally gotten over all the bullshit and had come to terms with the mutual attraction, deciding that fucking was better than always being so tense about it. That was the end of the story.

Sometimes Sin wondered what the people at the Agency would say if they could see them now. He wondered if they would be smug or if they would be surprised, knowing that after all this time the rumors were finally true.

He wondered what Carhart would say if he knew that he indulged in alcohol regularly at the club, chain-smoked more by habit than by fake persona, and had more than one person in the city who considered him a friend despite the fact that he didn't go as far as to return the sentiment. He wondered what Connors would think if he found out that not only was Sin 'sexually functional' but was also experiencing the kind of raging hormones that only a teenage boy was capable of. He wondered what Vivienne would say if she knew that the scars Boyd had always been so ashamed of, the scars she'd damned as markers of his weakness, could be the cause of passionate sex; were often traced by Sin's tongue as he worshiped Boyd's body with his mouth.

But most of the time he didn't wonder these things because he put them out of his mind. He pushed the Agency and the people who connected him to it to a place in the back of his mind which was usually left for his darkest memories.

It stayed that way until early August when hiring began for the Global Arts Exposition and when Jason Alvarez handed in his two weeks notice at Lunar. But it didn't really become real to him until his last shift at the club.

He realized with some irritation that he didn't want to quit, that he didn't want to go train for the Expo. He didn't want to start thinking in terms of mission parameters again and become consumed with the assignment. An irrational part of his mind wished that he could defect from the Agency, pretend he wasn't an agent and stay in Monterrey, pretending to be Jason Alvarez for the rest of his life.

But he knew that was stupid and unrealistic so he ignored it and kept the ideas to himself. He instead decided that he would enjoy his last night at his decidedly cushy job and try to get Boyd intoxicated at the party that his coworkers had insisted on throwing in his honor.

Sin spent the majority of the night hanging around in the shadows, being talked to by the regulars who knew that he was leaving and never giving them the slightest bit of attention although as usual, it didn't deter them.

The gaggle of girls who'd followed him around since the beginning seemed particularly mournful about his resignation and took turns daring each other to approach him although none of them actually managed to say anything worthwhile before they scurried back to their friends.

His coworkers, however, seemed surprisingly disappointed with his decision to leave. Estella complained that she'd never gotten him to really loosen up while Johnny and the bartender Veronica mourned the fact that they'd never managed to draw him into the threesome they'd often teased him about. Surprisingly Jessica hadn't said much about the matter although everyone kept informing him that she was really upset about it.

A part of him was thankful that she'd declined to comment further, that he wouldn't have to stand in front of her as she sprawled charmingly on her desk and he wouldn't have to pretend that now that he was accustomed to civilians, accustomed to intimacy and sex, that he didn't find her attractive.

It was something he'd realized recently, almost accidentally after he'd caught himself staring at her large breasts and long, shapely legs. Having fourteen years worth of pent up frustration and sexual desire suddenly loosened not only gave him a raging libido, but an almost overwhelming sense of curiosity as well. He knew it was the only time in his life that he'd get to act like a normal man and be around people who didn't know him well enough to be frightened of him, so when Veronica and Johnny murmured wickedly in his ears and described the things that the three of them could do together, Sin couldn't help wondering what it would be like to have sex with a woman.

When Veronica told him that she got wet whenever she watched him fight, he wondered what it would feel like to have his dick inside of her 'tight little pussy,' as she so delicately called it. When they drank after work and she convinced him to dance with her, grinding against him like a stripper, he wondered what it would be like to hike her short skirt up and pound her like he did Boyd, while fondling her half exposed breasts.

He was mildly disturbed by his preoccupation with sex but mollified by the fact that he would never act on any of the things that went through his mind. He was curious but not curious enough to actually approach anyone or give into the constant temptations that they threw his way. Because when it came down to it, his sexual curiosity wasn't strong enough to overpower almost two decades of paranoia when it came to intimacy.

He allowed himself to get that close to Boyd because after all of the things that they'd gone through together, he could safely say that Boyd was probably the only person in the world that he trusted. When he lounged in bed with Boyd, falling half asleep after a couple hours of foreplay and sex, he didn't have to force himself to stay alert because he knew Boyd wouldn't take advantage of him in that vulnerable state. No matter how nice and friendly and amusing his coworkers were, there was no way they would ever achieve that kind of trust with him in the short span of time that he'd known them.

Sin glanced at the thick banded watch he wore and realized that after almost forty minutes of brooding in the gallery while ignoring everyone around him, it was almost time for his shift to end. Jessica had deliberately scheduled him to work the closing shift so that they could throw him the party without the customers being present and he realized with mild amusement that they'd even closed up early. It was barely three o'clock but there were only a handful of customers left in the club and Johnny was impatiently shooing them towards the door as the employees milled around the bar, laughing and joking loudly as they called for him to come down.

He shook his head with a wry smirk and shoved his hands in his pockets, wondering how the hell it was possible for these strange people to actually demand his presence and miss his absence when all of the people who knew his real identity could barely stand to be in the same room with him. He wondered if Jess, Estella, Veronica and Johnny would turn on him if they knew the truth about who he was and what he did. Or if they would accept it and still welcome him since they'd actually been given the chance to get to know him before finding out that they were supposed to fear him.

Most of all he wondered how the fuck it was possible that he was so comfortable around civilians after such a brief amount of time.

It was all very strange.

"Where's your boy toy?" Johnny demanded when he finally kicked out the remaining customers. He yanked his black Lunar t-shirt off and threw it on the floor carelessly, exposing his muscular torso and sweaty undershirt. "I'm about to deadbolt it but I was gonna wait until he got here."

Sin glanced at his watch again and shrugged. "My shift isn't supposed to end until 3:30; he'll probably be here then."

Johnny smirked and bobbed his head in time to the music which was still blaring over the loudspeakers. "Let's have a farewell three-way, just you, me and the kid. Whaddaya say? In the private rooms, you know? Hot shit."

Sin snorted and looked away, letting his gaze roam over the spectacle his coworkers made on the dance floor as they talked loudly and danced excitedly, like children who'd just gotten out of school early. "You're not my type. Feel free to make the offer to him, though."

"How would Kadin feel about that?" a female voice asked suddenly.

Sin didn't look at Jess as she sidled up to him. He kept his gaze focused on Veronica and Frankie, as they did some kind of rendition of an exaggerated waltz only to have Estella interrupt and steal Frankie away.

"Feel about what?" he asked uninterestedly.

Johnny wrapped his arms around Jess's slender shoulders and nuzzled her neck teasingly although it was obvious that he wasn't really trying to hit on her. Despite her appearance and friendly attitude with the staff, she commanded respect and received it. People knew better than to overstep their bounds.

"Feel about his boyfriend offering him up to crude bouncers with overactive sex drives," she replied and batted Johnny away as she kept her gaze trained on Sin.

"He isn't my boyfriend so I'm sure he won't be terribly offended unless he finds Johnny to be that repulsive." Sin paused and glanced at the bouncer consideringly. "Which is entirely possible," he added with a smirk.

Johnny flipped him off even as he laughed good-naturedly. "Fuck you, Jase."

"No. That's the whole point." Sin shrugged and leaned against the bar, ignoring the random kiss that one of the waitresses planted on his cheek as she passed by with promises of cake and alcohol.

Jess's eyebrows shot up and she sat on the barstool next to him, long legs crossing and causing her short shorts to ride up, exposing more of her thighs. "You gave me the impression that he was your boyfriend," she said with a slight frown, reaching out to turn Sin towards her and effectively blocking Johnny out of the conversation. He made a face at her and wandered off, claiming that he was going to investigate this cake business.

"Oh?" Sin didn't remember doing any such thing although he supposed that it was possible that she'd assumed it on her own since he'd never actually explicitly stated what Boyd was to him. "He's my roommate and my friend."

"A friend who disappears into the bathroom with you during your break?" she asked challengingly, eyebrow arching. "I saw that, you know."

He gazed at her from under his eyelashes and his lips curved into a smirk. "Yeah. Is that a problem for you? I'm surprised you didn't try to watch. I heard you like that kind of thing."

She blushed darkly although her eyes narrowed slightly. "Maybe I do. Maybe I just like seeing what I can't have." Jess looked away for a moment before allowing her gaze to fall back on him and she cleared her throat. "So, you're friends with benefits?"

"He didn't offer me a 401K but I suppose that term would suit our arrangement."

Jess rolled her eyes at him. "God, do you have to be sarcastic every time you open your mouth? Is that some kind of defense mechanism that allows you to escape having to give out real information or something?"

Sin shrugged and glanced at his watch again. "Maybe."

She made a face and kicked him lightly in the leg. "You suck." She scowled and shook her head. "I never even got you to really. I don't know. I never even got to know you that well. I thought you'd be around a lot longer. I should have known better-- someone with your résumé could do a lot better than a crappy night club like this."

"Yes." Sin nodded in agreement.

Jess kicked him playfully again and laughed. "Well, you're not the only one who has a job at the fancy ass JKS, you know. My uncle works there and hires me from time to time to direct and plan events. I've organized banquets and conventions for all kinds of people. I'm on staff for the Expo as well although I'm not in charge this time, so I might even see you around."

Sin paused for a moment and stared at her silently, all traces of amusement gone from his features as he thought about what that could possibly imply.

"You'll be at the actual event?" he asked finally.

She shrugged and rested her cheek against one hand. "Probably not or at least not for the entire thing. I just take care of the planning beforehand."

"Oh." He lost interest in the subject and his gaze strayed towards the door, wondering when Boyd would arrive.

There was a long silence and she continued to watch him as he watched the door. She shook her head, long hair falling around her face as her pretty red mouth turned down in a pout. "I'm going to miss you, Jase."

He grunted and didn't formulate a real response.

She looked down for a moment, hiding the hint of sadness that showed in her expression. "I wish things were different, you know. I mean I stopped. I act professional now but things haven't changed. I still mourn the fact that you're gay," she admitted softly.

Sin finally looked at her again and both of his dark eyebrows rose. "Who said I'm gay?"

Jess looked up at him, head tilting to the side. "You did. Remember?"

He opened his mouth to protest and then remembered the incident in her office. "Oh. Right."

She frowned slightly, leaning forward to peer at him intently. "Well. aren't you?"

Sin stared down at her blankly for a moment and almost said 'yes' but something caused him to pause. Gay implied that he only liked men and while the sight and feel of Boyd's body was enough to drive him crazy, he had to admit that he had trouble keeping his gaze from straying to Jess's exposed cleavage and feminine curves. It was strange considering the fact that he'd previously felt nothing at all when looking at women but it had been the same for men so he didn't think he was gay so much as sexually repressed.

"I don't know."

Jess opened her mouth, closed it, and opened it again but no sound came out. She screwed her face up in adorable confusion and ran a hand through her hair almost nervously. "Um. what does that mean? Have you- are you- have you never been with a woman?"

"You ask too many questions," he replied flatly and looked at the door again, cursing himself for responding honestly.

She frowned slightly and leaned forward. "Jase."

His gaze snapped over to her, eyes narrowed in a warning glare. "What?" he demanded, annoyance evident in his tone. He'd escaped this idiotic conversation with her before and here they were again, drudging it up on the last night they'd most likely see each other.

She didn't respond for a moment but her mouth lifted in an almost shy smile. "If that's the case, does that mean it wouldn't gross you out if an icky girl kissed you goodbye?"

Sin rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Do whatever you want."

Jess grinned and leaned forward, grabbing his shirt and pulling him closer to her. He didn't resist, resigned to let her have her way so that she would shut up and leave him alone, and she seemed encouraged by his submission. Her grin widened and she pressed her mouth against his full, perpetually pouting lips. The kiss was chaste, almost innocent and she pulled back a mere second after they touched although she didn't move entirely out of his personal space.

She gazed up into his heavy lidded eyes and wet her lips almost nervously. She held his gaze and leaned up, brushing her lips against his again. This time she buried one thin hand in the unruly hair at the nape of his neck and her mouth opened partially as they exchanged another almost innocent kiss.

Sin shifted and stared down at Jess, wondering vaguely why the hell she acted this way around him and why she was beating around the damn bush. If she wanted to kiss him, she needed to do it and be done with it so that he could go find Boyd, the cocktails, and the cake that Becky had been babbling about.

"Just get it over with, woman," he said impatiently.

Jess raised her eyebrows at him and smirked. "Fine then."

This time when she kissed him, she wrapped both arms around his neck and tangled her fingers in his hair. She slipped her tongue between his lips and kissed him passionately, deeply. His lips moved against hers languidly and his hands absently rested on her hips.

They stayed that way for several long moments and mostly ignored the catcalls and jeers that their coworkers directed at them.

Boyd entered Lunar, glancing around to ensure no customers were there and he was in time for the party. He saw several of Sin's coworkers and headed toward them, about to ask Sin's whereabouts when he noticed most of them were watching something.

Following their stares, he stopped short when he saw Sin and Jessica kissing.

The last thing he'd expected to walk into at Sin's going away party was Sin making out with Jessica right there in the open at the bar. He felt a sudden sense of distaste mixed with another emotion he couldn't quite define, although he knew it was centered on her. She shifted closer to Sin, who didn't seem inclined at all to push her away, and that just made the feeling intensify.

Boyd realized he was staring so he turned to shut the door behind him and absently looked around the room with the mannerisms that he'd perfected over the months. There were maybe twenty people in the room and he had met almost all of them throughout his visits to Lunar. Most of them were dancing and a few were crowded around them watching or talking, but some of them seemed to be sprawled at the bar loudly egging 'Jason' and Jessica on.

There was no way Boyd was going over there; he'd had enough of people watching him for a reaction during that month in the Agency. He'd always been the sort to want to avoid confrontations in the first place, but now he especially wanted to avoid public controversy.

Although he knew nothing would happen if he were to approach them at that moment, he was sure that someone somewhere in the room who knew he and Sin had a sexual relationship would be hoping for drama. And, frankly, he just didn't want to deal with even the best scenario at that point. It would be better to go somewhere else and let those two do whatever they were doing and he could go see Sin later.

He told himself all this and tried to ignore the way the image of those two kissing burned maddeningly in his mind. He tried to tell himself it wasn't frustration or anything else he felt, and tried to ignore the part of him that wanted to break the two of them apart.

Boyd searched the rest of the room and noticed Johnny and Estella talking over a table at the far end of the lounge. Cake and drinks nearly filled the table but they seemed to be having some sort of discussion rather than actually bothering to distribute it. Boyd meandered that way, trying to ignore the catcalls of coworkers toward Jessica and Sin.

No one had noticed his arrival yet, which suited him perfectly well, and he found himself glancing at Jessica and Sin again anyway, the distaste growing.

It took him a moment to realize that what was bothering him was her proximity; not only that she was kissing Sin but, somehow, that she was touching him at all. He didn't know why that was at first; he'd seen Johnny and Estella touch Sin when he'd stopped by Lunar before but somehow it hadn't annoyed him as much, it hadn't made him want them to back off. It was different with Jessica, though. Even one glance from her could be more than enough. On the many times Boyd had stopped by Lunar, he'd seen the way she acted, the way she dressed, the way her eyes roamed Sin's body when she didn't think anyone was looking.

She made him feel threatened, as if she was somehow jeopardizing the position it had taken him a year to reach. It bothered him to think that he'd had to go through hell just to be able to touch Sin without being in danger of losing his life and some big-breasted woman could walk right up to him and stick her tongue down his throat without Sin even blinking.

The enmity that came with that thought made the undefined feeling grow until Boyd realized with a start that he was feeling jealous.

After the initial moment of confusion at the feeling, he tried to reason with himself.

As much as he didn't like the situation for his own reasons, he couldn't exactly complain about it. He'd never brought any of this up with Sin so there was no way he'd know. And any time they'd been confronted with words like 'relationship,' 'boyfriend,' even 'lover,' Boyd had been right there with Sin saying that really wasn't the case. Boyd just knew that he trusted Sin, which was saying a lot because there were very few people he could truly say that about.

He didn't let the thoughts make it to his expression, though; he wandered nonchalantly over to the table as if he hadn't noticed or cared about Jessica and Sin. Focusing on the situation would just make it worse and he didn't particularly want to go through the night feeling annoyed or on guard. He'd spent months acting as Kadin Reed, and years ignoring what he was feeling or feeling nothing at all, so it made it easier to ignore anything that wasn't convenient.

Once within speaking distance, he waited for Estella to pause before he languidly drawled to Johnny, "Leaving the door open, man, that shit's dangerous. I could've been an axe murderer. Your security sucks."

Johnny grinned at him in greeting and wrapped a muscular arm around Boyd's shoulders in much the same way he'd done to Jess earlier. "I'm off the clock, bud. And your roomie is too busy playing tonsil hockey with the boss lady to care about security, which is just not fair in my book."

Estella rolled her eyes at Johnny and smiled brightly at Boyd. "What's up, Kadin?"

"Hey Estella, not much," Boyd greeted her with a lazy smile then turned to Johnny. "What's not, that you gotta do all the work?"

Johnny shrugged and made a face. "More the fact that my tonsils aren't in on the game."

"Well, you could always try to crash the party," Boyd said.

Johnny snorted and glanced over again. "I don't think I'd be able to even if I tried."

Across the room, Sin seemed to sense that Boyd had entered the club and he looked over, pulling away from Jess finally and moving to stand. She stared at him, eyes slightly wild and lips swollen as she grabbed his arm and tried to get him to stay. She opened her mouth to say something but when he automatically pulled away, she followed his gaze and her cheeks reddened when she saw that Boyd was there.

They briefly exchanged words before Sin crossed the room to greet Boyd. He glanced down at the cake, which had his fake name on it, and shook his head in dismay. Civilians were strange.


Boyd looked over when he heard Sin's voice. "Hey," he greeted him idly. "How'd your last shift go?"

Sin shrugged and swiped his finger across the chocolate frosting on the cake, ignoring the look Estella gave him. "Uneventful."

"Eh, probably best. One time I had the shittiest last day at work. Even those few hours seemed too long." Boyd looked down at the cake and then back up at Estella. "Can we eat this before he destroys it all?"

"Might as well," she replied with a shake of her head. "I spent a lot of time making this cake pretty."

Sin smirked and grabbed a chunk with his hand, not bothering to cut it or anything. "Tastes better without silverware."

Boyd rolled his eyes. "Not just silverware with you, plates too. I think there's a two-year-old stuck in your brain screaming to get out."

"Maybe I just don't care about unnecessary rules of etiquette," Sin replied blandly.

"I don't think you care about many rules," Boyd said, amused.

Sin raised an eyebrow at Boyd and his smirk turned wicked. "You should know."

Johnny reached out to follow Sin's lead with the cake but Estella slapped a plate and a fork in his hand before he could. He made a face at her but then turned to Boyd.

"Did you sign up to work at the Expo too, Kadin?"

"Fuck no," Boyd said easily. "Wayyy too much work and I bet it's boring. Besides, if I did that I'd never get to check out the art. Definitely not worth it. Maybe I'll stop by to browse, though. Some really famous people are gonna be there."

"Where do you work anyway?" Johnny asked with a raised eyebrow. "I've never heard you mention a job."

"I probably haven't mentioned it," Boyd said with a shrug. "I don't really have one right now. I worked my ass off in the States before I came here so I'd have enough money to chill for a bit. There's some nice Art Uni's in the area that I wanted to enroll in if I can figure out how to pay for it. I was gonna get a job but it's hard here and I guess my résumé isn't good enough. So for the moment, I'm trying to do some odd jobs for extra cash."

"I have an odd job for you," Johnny said with a leer. "It involves nudity and a whole lot of lubricant."

Estella wrinkled her nose at Johnny. "Don't you have anything better to do than try to get every attractive human that crosses your path into bed?"


"Well, that wasn't exactly the sort of job I had in mind," Boyd said, amused.

"Thought I'd throw it out there just in case," Johnny continued with a smirk and winked at Boyd. "I heard I may be your type."

Sin raised an eyebrow at Johnny. "I don't believe those were the exact words I used."

"Oh really?" Boyd drawled. "What were the exact words, then? I'm curious how 'my type' even got brought up."

"I was trying to entice him into a threesome. Me, you and him," Johnny informed Boyd as he waggled his eyebrows. "He told me I'm not his type but I might be yours so I should take it up with you one-on-one."

"Ahh," Boyd said. "Yeah, sorry; I'm not really interested either."

"Well, can't say I didn't try." Johnny shrugged. "Guess I'll have to stick with my girlfriend."

Estella frowned at him. "You're such a pig."

"I know," he replied with a charming smile.

Sin snorted and grabbed one of the shot glasses from the table, ignoring the other people who began hovering around the table. Several people tried to engage him in conversation but he ignored them as he usually did and watched the interaction in front of him with a mostly uninterested expression on his face.

Estella rolled her eyes and turned to Boyd again. "Don't mind him. He's pretty unrelenting in his search for as much sex as possible. Although I think under the hound dog persona he's a sweet guy." She poked Sin suddenly, making a face at his lack of participation in the conversation. "Same goes for Jase. I bet he's just a talkative bundle of fun under that brooding exterior."

"You would lose that bet," Sin replied blandly, knocking back the shot.

She waved him off dismissively and looked at Boyd. "How do you put up with this guy? How did you even get to be roommates or friends anyway? You seem so opposite."

"He's not so bad," Boyd said in amusement. "We met 'cause I put an ad out on the internet saying I'd need a roommate when I moved here for the summer. He was one of a few who answered but he seemed least likely to fuck up the apartment or decide he didn't have to pay his half of the rent." He raised an eyebrow and gave Sin a sidelong, wry look. "Then it turns out he gets the steady job anyway, the fucker. A few more months and I'll be the one mooching."

"You're mooching already," Sin informed him.

"So more importantly," Johnny cut in before Boyd could respond. "Why'd y'all start fucking?"

Sin shrugged. "Why not?"

"Yeah," Boyd said unconcernedly. "You live together long enough in this heat, it's probably inevitable."

Estella raised her eyebrows, seeming intrigued by the topic. "Did you both know the other was gay or bisexual or whatever the heck you are? Well, I guess if you're gonna be roomies, it'd have to come up. Honesty is usually the best case for things like that. It'd suck to bring home a guy for the night and find out your roommate is a homophobe."

"Well, it's not like I put I'm gay in the ads," Boyd said casually. "That'd give me way too many annoying answers. I left the ad pretty generic but, yeah, that was part of the problem finding someone because I also wasn't gonna not tell them. So I told whoever responded and that narrowed it down. When I told Jason he just said it was fine, so," he shrugged, "it worked for me."

Estella's gaze swung to Sin. "He didn't share his sexual orientation?" she asked, directing the question to Boyd.

Boyd shook his head. "No, he didn't."

"So then how--"

"You ask a lot of fucking questions," Sin interrupted.

"--Did you hook up?" she finished, ignoring him.

Most of the people who had been surrounding them started to wander away when they realized that Sin was ignoring them. Because of that, Johnny and Estella were pretty much the only ones who were paying attention to the conversation.

Boyd and Sin had discussed before what their cover was, how Kadin and Jason supposedly met, why they ended up being roommates. But they hadn't really talked about how this conversation would go; what they would tell anyone who asked about their sexual relationship. Boyd wasn't about to tell the truth but he could get somewhat close just to make it more believable.

"After awhile I got a vibe that Jason was interested," Boyd said with a slight smirk. "So I just did what I wanted one day."

"A vibe." Sin stared at Boyd for a moment. "Why in the hell did you suddenly decide to come on to me anyway? What vibe did you get exactly?"

Estella snickered and waited for Boyd's response as Johnny looked on curiously.

Boyd looked over and met Sin's eyes. He'd forgotten that he never told Sin what he'd seen and heard that night but this was hardly the place to explain. Besides, it somewhat amused him to keep that information to himself, to leave Sin wondering.

Raising his eyebrows, he said, "The kind that said you'd be okay with me wanting to fuck around with you? That it wouldn't mess up the whole living situation."

"But--" Sin broke off and stared at Boyd, eyes narrowed slightly. "I see."

"Did he ogle you?" Johnny asked with a dirty grin. "I sure would have."

"You ogle everyone," Boyd said with a smirk.

"Lucky bastards," Estella said with a pout. "When I put out an ad for a roomie I didn't get any hot applicants. All I got were weirdos and slutty females."

"At least you had something in common with them," Sin replied, matter-of-fact.

Estella glared at him and smacked him in the arm while Johnny sputtered with laughter.

Boyd smirked but before anyone could say anything else, there was the sound of someone tapping a glass across the room. They looked over to see Jess sitting on the edge of the bar, long legs crossed as she held a wine glass in one hand. Her eyes were focused on the group of her employees that hovered around the lounge area like greedy children.

"I'd like to propose a toast to Jason," she announced with a smile.

Boyd stood back to watch her in the pause that naturally followed her words like a dramatic effect.

Jess looked around the club for a moment and her mouth stretched into a genuine smile. It was a far cry from the mortified expression that had been on her face minutes ago and it seemed that she'd managed to pull herself together quickly, most likely wanting to save face in front of her employees.

"After the war this city was a mess, but it's back on its feet now and it's one of the most thriving cities on this side of the world. I'm proud of it, I'm proud of its people. I'm proud of all of the people who moved here with the purpose of helping to make it better and who stuck by it through thick and thin. I'm proud of the people who work here who helped me turn this place around from a dive bar and into one of the most popular and prestigious clubs in Monty."

She paused and shook her head slightly. "We've had a lot of rough spots, a lot of times when it looked like this place would be shut down or that we'd never find a staff of people who were loyal, who we could trust. But over time I did and a few months ago I thought I'd found the perfect addition to it, the last piece in the puzzle. Someone who, despite his stand-offish attitude and intimidating behavior, managed to charm all of us in one way or another."

Jess focused on Sin and her smile turned fond. "We're all sad to see him go after we only just started to get to know him better but I hope some day in the future, no matter what totally awesome job he ends up with, he'll always come back to the crazy people at Lunar and that he'll miss us as much as we miss him."

She raised her glass. "So here's to Jason."

Surprisingly, people cheered and smiled and clapped Sin on the back, echoing the sentiments that Jess had just declared. He stared at them in a kind of confused dismay, seeming completely floored and disturbed by the actual genuine smiles he was receiving, by the fact that they really seemed to care that he would be gone. He scratched the back of his head awkwardly and glanced over at Boyd, obviously not really knowing what he was supposed to do in a situation like this.

Boyd leaned in and said quietly, "Say thank you."

Sin's mouth turned down into the beginnings of a frown and he looked at Boyd for a moment as if asking why the hell this had to be happening to him of all people and then he shook his head and glanced over at his coworkers.

"Uh. Thanks," he muttered.

Several people snickered and Estella laughed out loud. "I think we're embarrassing the poor man." She smiled at him widely and latched on to his arm, giving him a half hug as she rested her head against his shoulder. "Too bad. We like you, damn it. Deal with it!"

Thankfully mostly everyone began wandering away from him now that they'd made him thoroughly uncomfortable and Sin glanced over at Boyd again, a strange expression on his face. He looked away and stared down at Estella blankly, disentangling himself from her stiffly.

"I'll be back," he said when she gave him an almost hurt look, and he turned around, walking quickly towards the staircase and away from everyone else.

Boyd started to follow Sin but he was stopped by someone saying, "Kadin."

He looked over before he took the time to recognize the voice so he was mildly surprised to see Jess standing there watching him. He really didn't feel like talking to her but he couldn't exactly walk away now that she'd caught his attention.

Turning toward her, he slid his hands into his pockets and gave her an almost bored look. "Yeah?"

Jess crossed her arms over her chest and tilted her head to the side, studying him for a moment as if she were debating turning around without saying another word. She shook her head and shrugged languidly. "I want to talk to you."

Boyd found that odd but he didn't turn away from her. "Okay."

She looked around for a moment, noting that most people had moved out of earshot and then spoke. "I wanted to apologize for what you walked in on."

That mildly surprised him; he hadn't expected her to say that but he didn't bother to respond at first. If she had a problem with what she was doing or felt it was something she'd have to apologize for later, he felt she just shouldn't do it in the first place. He watched her a moment, waiting to see if she would continue or explain her thoughts further, but she didn't.

They stared at each other until he finally asked, "Why?"

Jess shrugged. "I don't know. I guess because I'm not exactly sure what Jason is to you and I don't want it to come off like I was trying to put on a show for you? I had no idea you would be coming in so early."

As if it would have mattered if he came in later? "I didn't realize it'd be inconvenient for you if I did," he said neutrally, shrugging with one shoulder.

She raised an eyebrow and gave him a strange look. "I wasn't trying to imply that it was. I was just saying, I didn't want you to think I chose that moment on purpose."

His expression remained neutral but something about her wording irritated him. "What would've been a better moment for it?"

Jess stared at him silently for a moment. "Um. That wasn't the point. I was just trying to tell you I didn't pick that particular one just so you could see us kissing on purpose and that the reason I'm even mentioning it is because I'm not entirely sure what your feelings about him are. But I already said that, so..." She trailed off.

"Yeah, you keep saying you don't know how I feel but that supposedly it concerns you. Which is why I find it interesting that you went out of your way to talk to me, but not to apologize that it occurred at all. Only that I saw it." He watched her without giving anything away in his expression or tone. "It's an interesting distinction."

Once again, she shrugged. "Because I'm not sorry that it happened, only that I may have rubbed something in your face if it turns out you have deeper feelings for him than was implied."

Boyd was feeling more irritated the further this conversation went. "If you're assuming I may have 'deeper feelings than was implied,' did it not occur to you that this conversation would be even more offensive? You supposedly care if you hurt my feelings but only if it's in a way that makes you look bad, which is even more insulting. Maybe next time you should think about the situation before you suddenly decide to assuage your guilt. It's just the principle of the matter."

"Listen, I'm not trying to be offensive. I was merely saying that if that was the case, I'm sorry you had to see it. I don't feel guilty about anything. I'm not sorry I kissed Jason, I'm not sorry he kissed me back. I think I'm being fairly straightforward here." She flipped her hair over one shoulder, looking annoyed by his responses.

Somehow, the conversation just served to aggravate him. First of all, she didn't know shit about what Boyd really thought or felt and she didn't know him at all so he didn't appreciate her assumptions about his feelings. Secondly, he highly doubted she really cared what he did actually feel. Thirdly, even if she was pretending to care about his feelings, it was still only selective.

From the way she spoke, it was like she could have just fucked Sin in the back room and everyone would know, and all along she would realize how Boyd may potentially feel about Sin, but she would do it anyway and feel absolutely no need to say anything about it because he didn't see it. Which, assuming he felt the way she said, would be even more hurtful for him. But because he'd run into them kissing in the middle of a crowded room when she wasn't expecting him, she was suddenly now all apologetic.

"Well if you're not sorry about any of that then don't bother being sorry about me seeing it," he said pointedly after a moment. "Either be fine with your actions or be sorry for the whole thing. You shouldn't pick only the parts that could look bad for you in any manner and then say that part's wrong but the rest is perfectly fine. That's really selective."

There was a long silence and then she suddenly laughed. "Wow, why did I even bother trying to talk to you?"

"I dunno," Boyd said with a shrug. "You probably thought it'd make you look like a good person to your precious employees."

Jess shook her head and looked up at the ceiling as if asking for guidance on how to deal with him from a higher power. "You obviously have a hearing disability or just want to be an idiot. How could anything possibly make me look bad? The two of you aren't in a relationship. I told you why I came over here, I told you why I apologized, yet you just seem set on being rude or making assumptions about my intentions even though I'm being incredibly straightforward with you. So from that I'm going to make the assumption, since we're playing that game now, that you obviously do have feelings for Jason and if that is the case, then once again, I apologize."

The comment only served to raise his hackles further. What gave her the right to make assumptions about how he felt? She thought nothing about Boyd and Sin's relationship-- didn't even know anything about it at all. As far as that went, she knew nothing about Sin; she just thought he was hot and wanted to fuck him, and was probably put out that Boyd got there first.

Whatever her intentions, this conversation was making him feel defensive and annoyed. He couldn't help remembering the blatant way she tongued Sin out in the fucking open when she knew Boyd would be coming to the party, and he found it hard to listen to her alleged apologies without wanting to tell her to shut up and back off.

He wished she'd never approached him in the first place. Even if the kiss had made him realize he felt something unexpected, he wouldn't have put as much weight behind it until she had to come over and start flapping her mouth.

"Obviously we don't agree and we're not gonna get anywhere with this. So, fine. You've said you're sorry, you can go away feeling better now. Are we done here?"

"You know, Kadin," she began slowly, shaking her head at him. "Obviously you want to be hostile towards me and deliberately misinterpret what I say, and obviously you have feelings for Jason that he doesn't have for you. So you need to take that up with him instead of blaming me when all I was trying to do was be nice and explain that neither of us was intentionally trying to hurt your feelings by having you walk in on that. But whatever, continue to be angry all you want but you should direct it at the right person or at least sort things out with him and figure out where you stand."

He almost raised an eyebrow incredulously. 'Obviously'? What the fuck was her problem?

She didn't even know what she was talking about. Even Boyd couldn't entirely understand what Sin thought or felt, and he had been around him for a year. Now she was suddenly some expert on all this after a few months? Because she hired Sin to be her bouncer, because she'd kissed him a few times and acted like a desperate, distasteful woman whenever he was around? Now she also knew what Boyd secretly supposedly felt and she was trying to tell him what to do?

"What makes you think you know anything about this anyway?" Boyd asked, somehow keeping the question from becoming a demand.

Jess opened her mouth to say something then paused, seeming to think better of it. "Let's just say..." She trailed off for a moment and hesitated once again as if trying to figure out how to word whatever she wanted to say. "I know guys don't like to talk about their feelings and all, but if you don't and it turns out I'm right, don't be surprised if one day down the road Jason ends up with a woman." She stared at him for a moment and then shook her head, turning around and walking across the room.

Boyd watched her go, words failing him. He didn't know which emotion he felt the most at that moment but none of them were particularly positive.

It annoyed him that she continued to act as if she somehow had a superior relationship with Sin, as if she somehow knew exactly what was going on. As if she had as much history with him as Boyd did. He knew that she knew them as Kadin and Jason, that she was reacting to their cover personalities and that probably as far as she was concerned, she knew 'Jason' just as well as he did. But she didn't, so he found it to be a little condescending the way she implied he needed her shitty advice to figure out where he stood with his partner or, as far as she understood, his roommate and the person he slept with.

Like she'd fucking know how to get closer or stay close with Sin anyway; it's not like Sin came home to her every night and ran his hands over her body. What the fuck did she know about any of this?

Even so, the confidence in her words was a little unnerving. She could just be reacting to the fact that Sin appeared to be kissing her back and had once seemed briefly interested in her, so she assumed he liked women, but it seemed it must have been more than that. The carefulness with which she chose her words was obvious to Boyd, which lent them more weight.

Like she knew for certain, somewhere down the line Sin would grow bored with Boyd. Just toss him aside to be with a woman.

The thought made something shift uncomfortably inside Boyd. He knew he was gay but he didn't know what Sin was. He knew Sin liked fucking him now, but would that always remain the case?

Was he only fucking Boyd because he was his only viable choice? Would there come a day in their partnership when Sin would suddenly take away the lustful glances? The desperate hands running over his body? The warmth of lazing against each other in the heat or the curl of strong fingers around his wrist, pulling him down to sleep together after a nightmare?

How long would it really be before Sin abandoned him for something newer, something more intriguing?

Something more normal.

His hands curled into fists briefly and he looked away with his jaw shifting. When Sin had first mentioned the time with Jessica in the office, he'd said for a moment he'd wanted to rip her clothes off and fuck her. But he'd stopped. Boyd had always taken that as a sign that somehow it just wouldn't happen. But maybe...

Even if he thought Jessica was distasteful and he didn't like her at all, even if he thought she was stepping out of bounds by commenting on any of this or telling him what he should do, he still couldn't shake how certain she seemed when she said that.

He turned abruptly to walk to the staircase.

He was trying not to think about it; all this was doing was irritating him further. When he made it to the second level, he found Sin leaning against the rail and smoking a cigarette while he looked down at the room below. He was standing just about where they'd nearly kissed the first time and the thought made Boyd slow as he approached.

He watched the way shadows played across Sin's face and the glint of the silver ring through his lip. The casual way he held the cigarette and the smoke pouring from his mouth. The man was incredibly attractive and somehow being in this environment emphasized his sexiness.

Boyd leaned against the railing next to Sin and, trying to put the thoughts out of his mind but not feeling immediately successful, he looked away. His expression would be unreadable to most but Sin knew him well enough to realize he was irritated.

He raised an eyebrow. "What'd she want?"

"Nothing." Boyd's tone made it clear he didn't want to talk about it and he didn't look over.

Sin exhaled slowly, blowing smoke toward Boyd's face and narrowing his eyes slightly although he didn't say anything else about it. He shook his head and closed his eyes briefly with a frustrated sigh.

Boyd looked over sidelong, considering him for a moment. Watching Sin rest against the railing made it a little easier to put the distracting thoughts out of his mind. He couldn't do anything about whatever Jessica thought she knew and he really didn't want to talk about what was going on between them. Definitions sometimes only ruined everything, and they'd been doing perfectly fine on their own before Jessica decided she was the authority on them. It would be stupid to let her words make him incapable of carrying on how he always did.

He could see the way Sin seemed a little distracted, a little tense, and he couldn't ignore that.

"How are you doing?" he asked quietly.

Sin shrugged one shoulder and took another drag from his cigarette before opening his eyes and looking at Boyd again. "I'm being stupid," he said with an annoyed grimace. "I've... grown fond of the way things have been. Of acting... normal."

The topic was almost a relief to Boyd; this was something he could deal with and understand.

"That's not stupid," he said, leaning against the railing and watching Sin. "It happens in these situations. You've been a high-level bodyguard for awhile," and though there was nothing different in the way he said that, it was clear that he was referring to Sin's normal life in code, "and now you've had the chance to be someone less... dangerous, just a normal bouncer. Anyone in your position would feel the same, but I think it's more pronounced for you."

Sin shrugged with a slight frown.

Boyd watched him for a moment, studying his expression. The fact that he could read some of Sin's emotions and thoughts was a big change on its own. When they'd first met, Sin had been so guarded that it was nearly impossible. But he still couldn't read him completely, and although he could make any number of assumptions he wanted regarding what was going on in Sin's mind, there were some things a person just needed to talk about.

"What are you thinking?"

Sin shook his head slowly, considering this, and dropped his eyes again. "I just think I don't deserve it," he replied flatly. "All this-- it's because they don't know what I really am. But still, for some idiotic reason I wish--" He stopped speaking abruptly. "Nevermind."

Boyd studied him, letting a pause fill the air to show that he was listening, that he was considering his words and not just automatically replying, but then he shook his head.

"I don't think that's true," Boyd replied. "The problem is that people don't often look beyond the first thing they see or hear about someone else. You've always been at a disadvantage because of that. But you don't know what they'd think if they heard everything now that they've gotten to know you. They may not care. They've had a chance to see more of you than most people bother with. And regardless of what they'd decide, it still doesn't mean you don't deserve it. You deserve kindness and acceptance just as much as anyone else, if not more."

There was a brief silence as Sin seemed to let that absorb. His expression was so conflicted and confused that it wasn't surprising when he shook his head and ran his hands through his hair.

"I've changed."

Boyd lifted one shoulder in a partial shrug. "Is that bad?"

"Yes." Sin lifted the cigarette to his mouth again. "It is for me. To do the things I am expected to do, I am not supposed to grow attached to people. To people like them." He looked down at the group and took a long drag. "I'm supposed to easily let people go, to go from assignment to assignment--" He continued, speaking generally in code, "And not care about the people I come across. I'm not supposed to miss people like Johnny and Estella. Like Jessica."

Boyd considered that. He didn't think about the idea of Sin missing Jessica because he knew it would just distract him from the point. When they'd first started, Sin had been so certain he would never blend in, but now there were all those people downstairs who he'd developed rapport with, had come to grow used to having around, had come to accept as they'd accepted him. But that was an inevitable progression of that sort of situation, Boyd felt, and he also felt that Sin would probably look at it as a weakness on his part.

"It would have been foolish if they expected to give you this job without realizing that something was bound to change," he said reasonably. "Anyone who finds themselves in another situation for so long would naturally grow used to the people."

Dark eyebrows drew together and Sin shook his head. "No. It's not that. I don't care what was expected of me. I don't care what... they want. I don't like it. I don't want to be this way. I don't want to care about people. I don't want to miss people. I don't want to feel normal and then go back to... to reality. It's not possible for someone like me. For someone who does what I do. It's--" He stopped again. "Forget it. I can't explain."

Boyd shook his head. "No... you don't have to; I understand what you mean. I just..."

He paused, looking away as he tried to gather his thoughts. He could understand what Sin meant; when he compared the Sin next to him to the one he'd first met in the Agency, the one he'd watched for hours on the live feed at night... He had to admit that they were different.

Sin smiled more now, he actually laughed; he joked around with people, he was casually touched in manners that were not meant to harm him. When he walked into the room, people didn't look over in suspicion or away in fear. If they ignored him it was the way they'd ignore anyone else. It wasn't personal. Here, Sin had a chance to relax, to show more of the person Boyd had known for a long time was buried somewhere inside, and... And he knew what Sin meant.

The idea of Sin returning bothered him as well.

It was stupid; it wasn't like the entire mission wasn't planned out, as if they'd never been on a schedule and never realized they'd be going back. But somehow he hadn't given himself the chance to think about it too much over the past several months.

He knew it was a tactical error but he'd been too distracted by the freedom of the city, of their situation, of his ability to just reach out and run his lips or hands down Sin's body whenever he wanted. Probably because he hadn't wanted to take away from his enjoyment and relaxation he hadn't seriously compared this reality to the inevitable future Sin had back in the Agency.

It would be even more difficult for him to see the distrust and hatred in others' eyes after knowing it didn't have to be that way for him. It would hurt even more to be dehumanized and belittled and have to kill targets without emotion after seeing civilians as people.

There was no real way for them to rebel against that concept; there was no way the Agency would just let a valuable 'resource' like Sin run off, not to mention they had him tracked on GPS at least and who knew what else. If he disappeared, they would probably track him down and drag him back and... who knew what would happen at that point. It wasn't a pleasant thought, especially considering the fact that he was enjoying Sin the way he was in Monterrey, the same as he imagined Sin probably enjoyed the freedom to act how he was, to be so relaxed. After a moment, he said:

"After the initial uncertainty in this position and city, I think... you've grown more comfortable. So, I'd prefer..." He looked over at Sin again, his expression serious but almost a little wistful. "It makes me wish you didn't have to go back."

Sin didn't answer at first. Instead, he put out his cigarette and stood up straight and looked over with intense brown eyes. "I don't want to think about this anymore."

He abruptly pulled Boyd close, pinning him against his chest and crushing their lips together in a way that seemed to firmly put an end to the discussion or any possible ideas of reviving the topic in the future.

But the taste of Jessica's lip gloss remained strong enough on Sin that Boyd's first instinct was to recoil. He stopped himself before he actually pulled back but he couldn't help remaining tense. The idea of even indirectly being that intimate with Jessica was enough to make him want to push Sin off him. He only stopped himself because Sin was upset and if he wanted this, if it would make him feel better, he could have it.

Even if Sin could stop his thoughts with physical touch, Boyd could only do the same with concentration. With the memory of Jessica working her jaw and pushing her tongue between these same lips and the thought of Sin returning to the Agency where he would be treated like a monster again, he found that his preoccupation was making it impossible to properly respond.

Sin, however, either didn't notice his distraction or was too intent on shoved everything out of his mind to care. He pushed Boyd against the balcony and locked his hands around the railing, moving his lips against Boyd's. Long, dark eyelashes rested against his cheeks while Sin pressed his tongue into Boyd's mouth as hard and almost desperately as he pressed their bodies together, making the railing dig almost painfully into Boyd's back. Although it seemed as though he were trying to completely immerse himself in Boyd, his eyebrows remained drawn together and his body was very tense.

Once it seemed obvious that this wasn't solving any issues for Sin, Boyd finally let himself pull away. He rested one hand on the railing behind him and the other absently splayed against Sin's chest as if to stop him from moving forward again. He watching Sin with eyes that were luminous in the dim light. Although he didn't say anything at first, there was nothing in his expression that implied rejection.

"We shouldn't stay up here too long," he said finally, softly.

Sin didn't look very pleased with this but he glanced down at the ground floor again and nodded, pulling away slightly. He ran one hand through his hair, aggravation evident in his movements, and cleared his throat.


Boyd looked at him. "Even as the guest of honor, you technically don't have to stay all night," he pointed out. "They know you're not used to this much attention, but even so it'd be better not to leave for a bit longer." He paused, reaching up to brush his fingers through Sin's hair with a light touch that was meant to be comforting. He raised his eyebrows mildly and added as he leaned against the railing again, "And I'll be there to help or distract if you need it."

Sin gave a one shouldered shrug and his lips quirked up into a small smile. "I'm sorry I'm being like this. Thank you... for putting up with it."

"There's nothing to be sorry for," Boyd said easily. He smiled back but it soon morphed into something a little more teasing. "Besides, haven't you noticed yet that I'll put up with a lot as long as it's related to you?"

"Hmm." Sin's mouth curled up even more until it resembled a sexy half-smile and he pulled Boyd against him again, leaning down to drop a lingering kiss against Boyd's mouth. "You better."

Boyd chuckled softly, sliding his hands down to rest on Sin's hips, his thumbs absently slipping beneath his pants. For some reason the idea of kissing Sin didn't bother him at all now. He leaned in to suck on Sin's lip ring, running his tongue along the metal and Sin's lip before he slowly pulled away, watching him.

"Just so you know, I expect the same in return or I may grow bored."

Sin gazed at him for a long moment as if trying to decide if he was serious or not before shaking his head and reluctantly moving toward the stairs. "Let's get this over with."

Nodding, Boyd turned and headed for the stairs.

One of the staff members looked over as they came to the first floor. Boyd recognized her but could never remember her name. She smiled brightly when she saw Sin and said something to Johnny, who made her laugh with whatever he answered.

The party wound up going on until the first rays of sunlight began to stream through the clouds. It seemed that the staff was used to staying up, or 'breaking night' as they called it, and none of them seemed ready to wind down at all despite the hour.

It was strange watching them all together, strange seeing how they acted around Sin and how several different people seemed to take turns vying for his attention. It was fascinating and slightly bizarre when taken into comparison with the way he was treated at the Agency and showed just how different things could have been for him if he'd never gone there, if he'd never been trained as an agent. If people were so drawn to him now when he was aloof and intimidating, what would they have been like if he was slightly more approachable? Or maybe the aura of mystery and danger was part of the charm?

Whatever the case, they seemed to genuinely enjoy his presence. Most of the people there insisted on giving him their numbers so that he could keep in touch and although for the most part he stared at them blankly and made no effort to give his own, they seemed used to his behavior and weren't fazed. Despite that, it was obvious that Sin was comfortable with these people; or as comfortable as he ever would be with civilians.

On more than one occasion a smile crossed his face, a smile that had once been reserved exclusively for Boyd. He exchanged sarcastic jabs with Johnny and Estella, not missing a beat and proving how adept he'd gotten at interaction with them.

For awhile it was easy to forget that Sin was an assassin and that these people were nothing more than means to an end for his cover. For awhile, as he sat there doing shots and seeming to enjoy it, it was like he really was Jason Alvarez. There were no signs of his mental instability, no signs that he wasn't in his element among the young, drunken people who seemed so fond of him.

Boyd knew that Sin was accustomed to being around civilians but he didn't know if he would need his help as distraction after all at some point. Because of that, in the beginning he stayed in Sin's general vicinity and glanced over occasionally to check on him. But it became obvious soon enough that Sin was perfectly fine so he allowed himself to be pulled farther away and became more engrossed in the conversations.

One of the waitresses, Lila, happened to be an art student and they had a long-standing friendly disagreement over what was the best media for drawing. From there, it somehow transferred into movies which became a larger discussion that morphed into other topics.

It was not in his natural personality to party or be in a crowd of drunken, laughing people for an extended period of time without feeling rather wearied by it. He stayed in the midst of it for awhile, knowing it was Kadin's personality to hang around, but eventually he took a moment to sit to the side and idly watch.

He could tell by the way the people congregated around Sin that they were truly interested in talking to him. He was mildly impressed, he had to admit. Despite Sin's insistence that he'd never be able to be normal, that he'd never been normal, that he didn't know how to be around civilians, he was doing an excellent job. There was nothing suspicious about the way he acted; if anything, the occasional blank stares and intimidation just made him seem more like what one would expect of someone with Jason's background. After all, someone who had worked as a bodyguard in such prestigious positions could hardly be amiable all the time.

On the other hand... Boyd saw Jessica talking to Veronica and his gaze slid away.

He turned to the bar and studied the bottles lined along the far wall. Now that he had a moment to think when people weren't talking to or directly around him, his mind inevitably drifted to things he'd been trying to avoid. As the night had worn on, he'd realized that although he'd thought he was fine with the way Sin interacted with others like Johnny and Estella, there was something that was... off.

He'd been to Lunar many times, he'd seen Sin interacting with the others and he'd heard stories, but he hadn't been surrounded by it so obviously and consistently for such a period of time. It was giving him more exposure to the way Sin acted around the others.

He couldn't figure out at first what was bothering him but once he did, it surprised him somehow.

It was a slightly shameful thought, but he had to admit that there were parts about this that he didn't like. He'd always wanted Sin to feel normal, to feel human because that's what he was and how he deserved to feel. He'd wanted him to understand that he was not simply a killer, that there was something about him that anyone could like and it was only the idiots at the Agency who didn't realize it.

But now that Sin was experiencing that, Boyd couldn't help feeling a little... left out. It was stupid, but he didn't want Sin smiling for anyone else quite like that, didn't want him getting into quite the same sarcastic or teasing conversations with anyone else, didn't want him to be quite so outwardly amused around anyone but him. He didn't want anyone else to be able to touch him quite so casually. Or maybe he just wanted there always to be another level that only he was privy to: if Sin smirked around others then he would only genuinely smile around Boyd. If Sin snickered around someone else then he would only outright laugh with him.

He considered that as he slowly nursed a drink.

He hadn't anticipated this feeling of isolation and jealousy; he hadn't expected to feel that territorial about Sin, to not want anyone else being intimate with him or for Sin to act the way around others that he did around him.

It confused him to think about, because he'd always been pushing for Sin to be accepted as a normal person. That exact scenario was happening here, so he should be happy.

Yet somehow it made it seem like the more successful his initial hope of everyone treating Sin like a normal human was, the less important he himself would be to Sin. After all, what had been unique about Boyd had always simply been his fearlessness of Sin.

Once everyone else was the same, what was there really to set him apart?

Continue to Chapter 35