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 Forty

I can't do it.


She's here because of m- I'm not supposed to ca- Leave her. I can't.

Beep. Beep.


His hand twitched, fingers clenching and unclenching unconsciously.

If I leave her... the explosion will kill her.

You're not supposed to care.

I can't.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The steady beeping began to pick up slightly in tempo.

He'd been running for ten minutes while carrying her limp form but even from that distance, the dark streets were illuminated by the flames that shot up from the convention center. He'd studied the maps enough to be familiar with every alley, every side street and every road that avoided main intersections. When he finally paused, it was in the deserted warehouse district near the waterfront.

The alley was small and wedged between two long abandoned factories; he kicked a door in and dropped the girl on the floor unceremoniously. She stirred, mumbled something, but he was out the door again before she opened her eyes. Staying in a warehouse for two weeks was not part of the plan but first he had to make sure he didn't have a tail.

He ripped the microphone out of his ear and tossed it and the now useless radio into the river. They'd lost range long ago and he could deal with his partner later.


'If this gets you caught you fucking deserve it.'


He twitched again and this time, his teeth grit although his eyes still did not open.

Scouting took nearly an hour; it would have been faster to go directly to Boyd, he could have dropped off the girl in a public park on the way. But only one of the routes he would take to a safe house appeared clear of emergency vehicles and cops. But first he would go back. He would leave the girl somewhere with more possibility of her actually being found.

The straps dug into him, rubbed against his skin; chafed his wrists.

The beeping continued to grow faster.


He hadn't counted on her being awake.

"What are you do-- What hap--?"

"You were hurt. There was a fire."

"But you-- I thought I saw..."

"You didn't see anything."

Her face was badly bruised, dried blood clinging to a ghastly cut on her cheek. She looked scared. Of him. "Please just tell me what's happening."

Did she see something? What did she hear? His eyes narrowed slightly and the gun felt especially cold against the skin of his back. "We need to go."

"I'm fine! Just tell me-"

"I need to go."

The sound of footsteps. At least a dozen men.

A low exhale of breath; he grimaced.

His head snapped towards the door and then he looked at her with a deadly expression on his face.

Her eyes widened, the fear was more prominent now, she backed up. "My uncle-I called him. I was scared. I told him-I didn't know it was you and I sai-"


The door was kicked in easily-he'd already broken it. Men filed in pointing guns, a tall man entered after them and called out to Jessica.

Hale Clemons. The director of the JKS. The link to Janus. Her uncle.

A low grunt.

The leather straps creaked as his hands unconsciously wrenched against them.

Betrayal. Kill her.


"Drop your weapons!"

He stared at them blankly. How did they know he had a weapon?

She stared at him guiltily.


"Tío, I was wrong, I know him, he's my--"A desperate plea, panic, she stared at him wide eyed, confused. Their eyes met and he could see the apology bleeding out of her.


The muscles in his jaw clenched. His hands twitched again. His heartbeat increased.

"Put your fucking weapons down or we'll do this the hard way."

"But he saved me! What the hell are you talking about! There were explosions and he sav-"

"You said a guy in a ski mask grabbed you-- Who the fuck do you think planted the explosives?" Uncle Hale had orders from Janus.

Capture. Interrogation.

He spread his arms before slowly, very slowly, removing the gun at his back. It felt heavier than usual. Colder than usual. He knelt down, eyes on the enemy.

She stared at him in confusion--Was he really... But it was Jaso- He couldn't... The thoughts were obvious; the emotions clear across her face. "I- I must have... I must have misunderstood, maybe it wasn't like I saw- I got hit on the hea-"

The Browning dropped to the floor, their eyes followed it.

They didn't notice the Ruger.

His eyebrows drew together; he muttered something, his hands jerked at the straps with more force.

She screamed.

He killed four men with headshots before anyone had a chance to react.

He disappeared into the shadows.

Chaos. Shouting.


A glint of steel in the shadows. She screamed. Her uncle-


He pulled the trigger twice in quick succession... but she got in the way.

Uncle Hale landed on his side with a grunt.

Jessica got two bullets in the head, two millimeters apart.



Strong hands yanked at the straps; the beeping picked up wildly.


I didn't mean to--She was innoc--

Monster. Killer. Murderer.

Frozen. Distraction. Darkness. Capture.

Pale green eyes snapped open and he was instantly assaulted with bright lights, white walls. He winced, narrowing his eyes as he flicked them around quickly, trying to figure out where he was, what was happening.

He couldn't move his head; it was held in some kind of brace and as he looked down, he realized that the rest of his body was also strapped down to a flat, thin bed. Leather straps reinforced by steel kept his arms and legs locked into place an-

"We're going to do this the old fashioned way," The man drawled, thin fingers reaching out to caress his face as something clamped onto his arm, twisting and stretching as agonizing pain scorched through him, as ligaments tore.

His teeth grit, eyes narrowed, heart pounding in his chest but he wouldn't give them the satisfaction.

"This is only the start," The voice promised softly. "That tough façade won't last forever."

His eyes opened wider and he yanked at the straps, eyes frantically scanning the room in confusion. This wasn't the place-it'd smelled of rotting corpses, of mildew and disease-this place looked like a psych ward or a sterilized hospital room. Had they moved him? And why could he suddenly move his leg-

He could feel bones snapping, tendons ripping through the dazed fog and when something slammed against his legs, his arms, crushing, breaking--he finally screamed.

This was wrong. Everything was wrong. He shouldn't be able to move. His arms, legs-he shouldn't be able to move. Why did everything feel so heavy? Where was the pain?

Was it all a dream?

His breathing became labored as he yanked at the straps with increasing violence, the heart monitor beeping loudly and erratically as the steel on the bed began to whine and squeal in protest of his movements. He grunted with the effort, sweat breaking out on his face and body as he strained against the straps, causing the skin at his wrists to rip and blood to pool on the stark white sheets.

The heart monitor only seemed to get louder and he knew he didn't have much time. The steel abruptly twisted, bent, and the leather straps popped open, freeing one bloody hand. He panted with exhaustion, staring in confusion at the broken steel but not focusing on it as he reached up with one hand to fumble with the buckles that kept his head locked into place.

Once released, he yanked his second arm free and sat up partially to undo the straps at his ankles. Although he was shirtless and barefoot, thin white pants covered his legs and once again his eyes scanned the room in confusion. It was small and white; the only thing sitting in it was the bed and the IV stand which appeared to be attached to the rail. There was a mirror that stretched across one entire wall and he stared at himself in confusion.

His entire body had been cleaned of the layer of dried blood that had previously covered it; it seemed that someone had washed him thoroughly. His hair had been shaved off and replaced by a buzz cut. The gaping wounds that had decorated his body were sewn shut neatly, the bruises completely faded. The few pounds he'd managed to gain in Monterrey had apparently melted off during the weeks that he'd been detained and despite the fact that every limb felt unfamiliar and was difficult to lift, he was actually skinnier.

...What the fuck?

How long had he been here? How long had it been since he'd been captured? Since he'd made that weak, idiotic decision? Where the hell was he? Had they moved him to a new facility? Had they figured out another method of interrogation? Was this some new game they were going to play with him now?

What had happened to Boyd? Had he escaped the city when Sin never showed up or had he gone to search, used the GPS, gotten captured as well?

He ripped the IVs out of his wrist causing blood to pool on his skin, yanked the wires off of his chest and swung his legs over the side of the bed, getting to his feet. And once again... he was confused. How was this possible? Why could he walk? His legs had been completely unusable, broken and unset... Had they operated on him? But why would they do that? Tendon reconstruction was a lot of trouble to go through for a prisoner.

He started to move forward, to take a step, but before he could move his head spun dangerously and vertigo hit him like a brick wall. He shouted in confusion, clutching his head as searing pain shot through it and doubled over as nausea began to overwhelm all of his senses. He sank to his knees, still clutching his head, and squinted at the door as he began to hear sounds behind it.


He tried to force himself to move, to get up, but as awareness and the fog of unconsciousness started to recede, he realized that his entire body felt foreign. His limbs felt strange, heavy and despite the fact that he could barely see straight as searing pain and a high pitched whine seemed to echo between his ears, he felt stronger.

He reached up and clutched the side of the bed, pulling himself to his feet unsteadily as he wavered and his eyes rolled in his head. He tried to ignore the pain, the dizziness, the confusion that threatened to completely consume him, and focused on the door. On the handle that was slowly turning, on the muffled argument that he could hear on the other side.

"-go in! He's awake and-"

"He's secured, you idiot. Calm down."

"No way, do you know what that guy is capable o-"

Sin's eyes narrowed and he started forward but it ended in a stumble, in him losing his balance once again as he struggled to get used to the strange way his body felt. Another violent wave of nausea overtook him and he crumpled to his knees with a frustrated groan that he couldn't reign in.

What was wrong with him?

He had to get up. He had to move. He had to find Boyd. He had to-

The pain in his head intensified and this time he couldn't help but scream. The same high-pitched sound bounced around the sides of his already throbbing brain and he squeezed his eyes shut, wondering if anyone else could hear it but him. He was vaguely aware of the door opening, of people rushing in, but as he shook his head wildly, covering his ears with his hands, he couldn't even bring himself to look up.

"Damnit, I knew this would happen," someone was saying in mild annoyance.

"What's happening?" another unfamiliar voice asked.

Sin squinted up at them and scooted backwards clumsily, unable to see anything but white blurs through his tearing eyes.

There was a frustrated sigh as someone gave the order to sedate him.

"No!" he shouted desperately. "Don-"

But then the edges of his vision began to dim and blur, his body felt even heavier, as if his bones were made out of lead. He tried in vain to get up, to escape, but mere seconds later everything went black.

"Has he been stabilized?" a voice asked quietly.

"Yes. He threw everything off by ripping it out so suddenly. He has to be brought down slowly. It should be fine now," a second voice responded.

Silence. Steady beeping.

His eyes slid open briefly and he saw a tall middle aged man with strange colored eyes, indigo eyes that nearly looked purple, gazing down at him thoughtfully.

"How do you think he broke the restraints like that? What does that mean?" a new voice asked, this one younger than the first two.

There was another brief silence and then the second voice replied, "It means..."

The world went dark again.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

"I like to touch you."

He gasped softly, eyes rolling in his head at the feel of hands on his body, sliding down his hard chest, flat stomach, dull fingernails scraping along his thighs as they teased the skin at his crotch.

"Do you want me to stop?" the voice was low, deep, and thick with lust.

He shook his head desperately, hands clenching in the bed sheets that still smelled like sex, sweat, musk... like the night before. "Don't."

The hands gripped him and slid up again, fingers digging in harder, hard enough to cause pain, as the man straddled him and gazed down from behind a curtain of blond hair.

"Do you trust me?"

His eyes slid open and he stared up at Boyd through a haze of passion. "Yes."

Boyd's lips curled up into a smirk. "Good."

Then the knife abruptly plunged into his chest.

Sin's eyes snapped open and once again, he was assaulted with bright lights and stark white walls. He lay completely still and tried to catch his breath as he panted harshly, as his heart pounded in his chest, as he tried to figure out if that had been a dream or a memory.

He didn't really know which was which anymore.

Sin closed his eyes again and took several deep breaths as he tried to gather his wits, as he tried to get past the disorientating confusion that wracked his brain. He tried to figure out what was real, what was fantasy, what he'd made up in a haze of drug induced unconsciousness and what had actually started this chain of events.

As he tried to figure out what it all had to do with Boyd and more importantly, where he was.

Images flipped through his mind like a slideshow on fast forward and his eyebrows drew together as he tried to make sense of the confusing jumble of memories that overwhelmed his brain. Everything shone like glass fragments in the sunlight, reflecting blinding light at him, causing him to flinch away before they shattered and turned into something new. For a moment he couldn't distinguish memories from his childhood with memories from his life as an Agent and he swallowed hard, adam's apple bobbing violently, as he tried to weed through them and make sense of it all.

After years of repression, of confusion, of remembering things that were more than a little fuzzy around the edges, suddenly his memories took on a vivid clarity that he wasn't sure he preferred.

As everything whirred through his brain like a bizarre, avant garde movie, he made conscious selections as to which memory he wanted to watch in which context and then suddenly... it all snapped into place.

Monterrey. The mission. Boyd. The girl. The Solar Convention Center. Janus.

Once again, slightly slanted green eyes opened but this time there was no confusion in them, no glassy uncertainty or dazed disorientation. He remembered everything.

His eyes snapped down to the restraints and this time he yanked his hands free effortlessly, the cuffs still dangling around his wrists oddly as he once again undid the head brace and the ankle restraints that trapped him against the stiff bed. He sat up slowly, less nauseated than he'd been the first time although there was still a dull ache in the back of his head, and rubbed at his wrists as he looked around the room.

It appeared to be the same room although they'd obviously gotten new restraints. The wires were once again attached to his chest with electrodes but he noted the fact that he was no longer hooked up to the IV. He ripped the electrodes off and tossed the wires to the side before swinging his legs over the side of the bed and focused on the door, on the faint conversation he could hear on the other side of it.

"-tests and send the results to Dr. Fredrick right away."

"Will he... ...erative?"

"We'll see."

"-but there's always sedation."

Sin's eyes narrowed slightly and he hopped off the bed, bare feet moving silently over the cold linoleum floor. He watched as the door handle turned and quickly moved to the right side of the door, pinning himself to the wall as the door swung open and partially concealed him from sight.

A woman in her early thirties entered the room with a clipboard in hand. She stopped just inside the doorway and stared at the bed in confusion before spinning around to survey the room. "What the he-"

Before she could finish the sentence, Sin grabbed her violently and pinned her back to his chest, dragging her backwards towards the mirror as she cried out in surprise. Her colleague rushed into the room, a young looking man also clad in a white lab coat, and stared at them in alarm. "Don't hurt her!"

Sin wrapped one of his hands around her throat and narrowed his eyes at the other man. "Do anything stupid and I'll crush her throat."

"Frank, shoot him," The woman snapped at the younger guy. Despite the tension in her shoulders and the obvious fear in her voice, she managed to speak and hold herself in a relatively calm manner.

"B-but..." Frank stammered and fumbled with the buttons of his lab coat, attempting to extract the gun that apparently lay hidden beneath.

Sin stared at the man incredulously, not knowing if he was amused or disgusted with his behavior. "I guarantee you that this will not end well if you pull a weapon on me," He said in a low, warning voice. Frank froze and stared at him with a somewhat surprised expression on his face. "Just tell me what I want to know and I won't hurt either of you."

Frank stared at him doubtfully and the woman made a skeptical noise, but Frank nodded hesitantly. "Okay..."

Sin tightened his grip on the woman and she gasped. "Where the hell am I? Where's Clemons?"

Frank blinked at him in relative confusion. "Where's... what?"

"Hale Clemons," Sin repeated, tone impatient as his fingers tightened around the woman's throat enough to make her whimper softly. "Where the fuck is he, where the fuck am I and who is Dr. Frederick?"

There was another confused silence and this time it was the woman who spoke up in a hoarse, strained tone. "H-how do you know... Where did you hear Frederick's name?"

"Through the door."

Another pause and this time Frank and the woman appeared to exchange glances. "This room is sound proof."

"Obviously it's fucking not so stop fucking around and tell me what the fuck I want to know or I'll rip your throat out," he snarled, eyes narrowing dangerously.

"But I don't know what you're talking about! Who-Clemons? I don't know and Dr. Frederick is your doctor, the doctor in charge of your case," Frank blurted out in an almost whine.

"Oh for God's sake, Frank. He doesn't know where the hell he is," the woman said impatiently. "He has been in a coma, you know. You're back, Agent Vega. Is it that hard to figure out?"

This time it was Sin's turn to blink in confusion and he stared. "What?" His eyes once again flicked around the room in search of some sign that they were telling the truth, that he was no longer with Janus and finally his gaze fell on the right side of Frank's lab coat. The maroon Johnson's Pharmaceuticals logo was a stark contrast to the white cotton.

Green eyes rose and he stared at Frank blankly although he did not let the woman go. "Where's Boyd?"


"Boyd Beaulieu, you fucking moron. Where is he?" Sin dragged the woman closer to the door, simultaneously shoving Frank out of the way, not really knowing what the hell he was planning to do because his mind was spinning.

He'd been in a coma. He was back at the Agency.

He thought he'd had everything figured out but once again there were huge black holes in his memory, once again he didn't know what the fuck was going on and the pounding in his head was getting worse-the disorienting confusion was once again making him feel dizzy. The last thing he remembered was a malnourished looking man with square rimmed glasses slicing into his body as his blood slowly bled out onto the filthy floor. The last thing he remembered was the door closing slowly and Clemons staring at him with a look of pure hatred just before it slammed shut.

"My partner. Where is he?" he said from between grit teeth, trying to calm himself even though impatience was making his temper get hotter, slowly spinning out of control in the dark way that hadn't been an issue for months... since before the mission.

"I haven't seen him since you've been back!" The woman blurted out, real terror making it into her voice as Sin's expression grew visibly darker, as his hands tightened around her throat in a way that meant impending death. "They said that he isn't coming back!"

Something went still in Sin for a long moment as he tried to figure out what that meant. As all of the possible implications ran through his mind, his temper finally got the best of him. Without warning he spun the woman around and shoved her so hard that she literally went flying across the room, slamming into the wall and collapsing onto the floor in an unconscious heap.

He turned on Frank, who'd frozen in terror, and stalked towards him. Frank automatically backed away but Sin swung out, crushing his fist into the younger man's face and causing him to also fall backwards and slide down the wall. Sin yanked his lab coat open, popping the buttons in the process, and grabbed the standard issue handgun that he wore. He tucked it into the waistband of the plain, white pants and grabbed Frank's set of keys as an afterthought before he slipped out the door, shutting it quietly behind him.

He ignored the rising nausea, the way his head pounded and the soft humming that wouldn't seem to leave his ears, forcing himself to sprint down the hallway and towards the staircase. He'd been to the medical unit often in his career as an Agent but this particular wing did not look familiar at all. It seemed particularly quiet and deserted but for the moment that worked in his favor.

He passed several doors on his way down the hall but no sounds came from any of them and the entire floor, with the exception of the two doctors he'd just assaulted, seemed deserted. He was almost to the exit when he encountered a glass door that appeared to lead to an office. He skidded to a stop and looked inside cautiously, noting that once again no one was inside although that seemed to be a recent development judging by the files scattered across the desk and the way the lamps still burned.

The keycard on Frank's ring was the standard issue Agency card that unlocked any door that Frank had specific access to. When Sin swiped it in the office door and the little light turned green, he could only assume that this was the man's office or at least an office he frequented. The office was fairly small and seemed slightly unorganized but Sin didn't really have interest in snooping around at the moment. He looked around in search of a shirt or jacket of some kind, anything that would make him stick out less than running around bare chested would and spied a black hoody on the back of the desk chair. It seemed that shoes would have to wait.

He grabbed the sweater and started to make his exit when a file on the desk with his name on it caught his attention. He paused, not really knowing if he cared enough to look inside but not able to stop himself from flipping it open. His pounding head and blurry vision proved reading the tiny text to be extremely difficult but as he flipped through the pages he gathered that they had in fact performed extensive reconstructive surgery on his body, which explained his sudden mobility. There were other confusing things in the files about proteomes and somatic cells that he generally did not understand and the throbbing in his brain prevented him from even making an effort to do so.

Sin closed the file and exited the office before continuing his way down the hall. He bypassed the elevator bank and slipped into the staircase exit, which automatically locked from the inside once it closed. He found that bizarre; he'd never seen anything like it in the medical units since people often rushed in and out of there at all times of the day. However when he glanced out the window he saw that he wasn't even in the main building; he appeared to be in one of the smaller, squat buildings that was unnamed and typically unused by the general populace of the compound.

Once again, he found this odd, but he supposed they'd wanted to keep him away from the general population in the other areas. It wasn't too surprising when he put it into that context; they'd most likely been unsure of how he'd act upon emergence from the coma.

His bare feet padded against the concrete stairs and oddly enough, not once did any staff members appear. He got to the third floor when another violent wave of vertigo overtook him and he nearly fell face-forward down the flight of stairs. He caught the railing just in time and leaned against the wall, squeezing his eyes shut as he tried to ignore the way his head was spinning. The pounding in his head was the only thing holding him up although he'd expected to have more problems with his limbs. Despite the odd feeling of unfamiliarity, the feeling that he wasn't used to his own body, there were no lingering effects from the abuse he'd taken and it caused him to stop, to wonder, to doubt his own memories. Had everything happened as he'd thought it had?

With trembling hands, Sin forced himself to stand and ignored the dark spots that danced before his vision. He needed to get out. He needed to find Boyd. He needed to get to someone who would know where Boyd was. That was all that mattered at the moment; he could puzzle over his strange condition after that. But first he had to figure out how to even get out of the fucking building without being dragged back to his room.

He made his way to the ground floor and as he glanced through the small window in the door, he saw that there wasn't even a receptionist desk in the lobby. If it could even be called a lobby. The room was completely empty save for some kiosks of unknown use and it had a North and South exit, both of which were most likely guarded at all times. The Agency guards were not typically very bright but he doubted they were stupid enough to just let him waltz by without questions.

Irritation and impatience burned through him as he figured out an alternate plan and found himself running back up the stairs, all thirteen floors, as he headed for the roof. Despite the fact that every building on the compound had a different purpose, the schematics of each was generally the same. He assumed that like the other buildings, this one had rooftop access which was granted by the keycard and he was right. He got onto the roof without further incident and slunk low, noting that it was dark outside which made it easier for him to blend with the shadows. He made his way to the far side of the roof, closest to one of the large overhanging trees and climbed over the edge as he contemplated the distance between the ledge and the nearest branch.

It was a huge oak tree and the leaves would provide him ample cov- Leaves? Hadn't it been fucking November when they'd infiltrated the convention center? Sin stared at the tree in confusion and for some reason he began to wonder if he'd imagined the whole assignment in Monterrey. Maybe he'd been injured some other way and that had been nothing more than an extended dream.

The thought disturbed him and he made the leap to the branch without further consideration. His head swam but he ignored it and caught the branch before climbing down the tree with surprising spryness. He jumped down the remaining distance and crouched in the shadows as he tried to figure out who he could trust on the complex; as he wondered who would even tell him the truth.

He began moving on autopilot, feet taking him wherever his mind had apparently directed them to go, and he found himself taking a meandering, alternate route that took him out of view of the main buildings and patrolling guards. He wound up in front of one of the nicer residential buildings which had two guards posted in front of it just like all the others. However in this case, one of the guards had apparently abandoned his post to talk to a female staff member on the other side of the building and the second guard stood there calling out to him in annoyance.

He doubted the man would just let him wander into the building without a lot of questions which, given the mood Sin was in, would probably result in him breaking the guard's nose and he didn't want to make more trouble for himself until he found out what he needed to know.

So he waited. Lurked was probably a more appropriate word, as he crouched barefoot and half dressed in the shadows, waiting for someone to make a move. Finally after ten minutes of watching uncomfortably as his shift partner bullshitted, the second guard left his post and stalked around the building to break up the grope-fest. Sin moved fast, faster than seemed possible considering his disorientation, and was inside the building before the guard even reached his partner.

He once again bypassed the elevators in the building and his bare feet pounded up the stairs two at a time as he ran up to the top floor. When he finally arrived at his destination he was sweating and dizzier than he'd been before, as he leaned heavily on the wall for support. His heart was racing, his head spinning, and he felt like he was going to be violently sick. He pushed it all out of his mind and knocked on the door once, twice, and the third time his fist just slid down the door with a strange, dragging sound as he nearly lost his balance and fell over.

He braced his hands on the sides of the door, squeezing his eyes shut and keeping his head tilted down as he tried to catch his breath. The dark spots that drifted across his eyes were getting worse and he didn't know if he'd be able to stay on his feet for much longer. It was embarrassing feeling this weak but at the same time, he didn't really think it had anything to do with his actual strength so much as it had to do with the aching in his head.

For a long moment nothing happened and he just stood there panting harshly but then the door swung open and Carhart stared at him incredulously. "Wha--Hsi--what?"

"Wh--" The sentence ended up being lost in a fit of violent coughing and Sin leaned heavily against the wall as he squinted at the General. "Where's Boyd?" he grit out finally.

Carhart continued to stare at him in disbelief, not seeming in a rush to answer the question. Sin growled impatiently and fumbled with the gun that was stashed at the small of his back but the end result was extremely unimpressive as he finally did lose his balance and wound up falling forward clumsily. His vision dimmed and his eyes rolled into the back of his head. He was vaguely aware of strong arms catching him, lifting him up, and even though he wanted to protest, everything went darker and he slipped into unconsciousness once again.

The smell of food and the sound of a softly spoken conversation woke him up.

"--sorry but something came up, Morgan."

He opened one eye slowly, preparing for another assault of white fluorescent lights but was relieved to only see the soft glow of a lamp. He opened his other eye and stared blankly at the ceiling as he once again tried to remember where he was and what the hell had happened to bring him there. He was laying on something soft and comfortable and he vaguely realized that it was a bed. And there were pillows.

"I know, but what do you want me to do? I said something came up. You know how it is."

Who the fuck was Morgan?

He dragged his eyes slowly away from the ceiling and took in his surroundings; from the large bed and the furniture, he gathered that he was in a bedroom. There were pictures on a desk but his eyes wouldn't focus enough for him to figure out who was in them although he did note that there was a gun and a clip next to the lamp. The room was immaculate but not Spartan; it looked lived in, comfortable, but everything obviously had a place and was put in it.

"Listen, I don't have time for this. I said sorry, I don't know what else you want me to say."


Sin made a face and slowly pulled himself into a sitting position as he tried to figure out why he was in a bedroom that apparently belonged to Carhart.

His eyebrows drew together and he slowly got to his feet, ignoring the spinning and the nausea that wouldn't leave as he stumbled to the door. There was a hallway and the hallway had hardwood floors which eventually turned into soft carpet as he entered the living room. He stared at it blankly for a moment, taking in the overstuffed couches, stereo and wide screen television, discreet decorations and the overwhelming neatness of the room. There was a stack of magazines on a coffee table, which appeared to be old copies of Guns N' Ammo and American Rifleman, and he had no doubt that they were most likely put in order by date and issue number. The room itself was painted beige, although the majority of the furniture was dark earthy colors and it was far larger and nicer than his apartment was.

"Feel any better?"

Sin nearly jumped out of his skin, which was irritating as all hell, and glared up at Carhart who had apparently been watching him from the archway that led to the kitchen area.

"What are you doing here?" He demanded, staring at Carhart strangely. He'd never seen the man in anything other then his usual fatigues; it was rather odd to see him shirtless and barefoot in baggy faded jeans. His hair was uncombed, spiky and he was leaning against the archway in a casual manner that was completely unlike the usual ramrod straight way he held himself.

Carhart raised an eyebrow at him and almost seemed amused by the question. "Well, I live here."

"Oh." His eyebrows drew together once again and he stared at the room in confusion. "Well who the fuck is Morgan?"

"A woman."

Sin went back to glaring at Carhart, incredibly annoyed by the amused expression on his face and the complete lack of decent answers that he was receiving. "What woman? What the hell is going on?"

"A woman who was going to be coming over tonight if you hadn't suddenly crashed the party," Carhart said slowly, amusement leaving his expression as concern replaced it. He took a step towards Sin, who automatically took a step back, and stopped. "You came over here, Hsin. Remember? You showed up at my door and passed out."

"Don't talk to me like I'm fucking stupid," Sin muttered as he rubbed the back of his head and tried to remember why he was here.

"You swear a lot more than you used to," Carhart noted mildly.

"Well what do you expect? You had me pretending to be a fucking id--" He stopped in mid-sentence and once again, everything came flooding back. The assignment. Monterrey. Jason Alvarez. The convention center. "Where's Boyd?"

Carhart considered him for a long moment, hazel eyes studying him calmly before he shook his head. "I'm not answering that until you stop looking like you're about to fall on your face."

An annoyed hiss and Sin once again reached for the gun but it was no longer there. He aimed an accusing glare at Carhart instead.

"How are you going to get answers if you shoot me?"

"I wasn't going to shoot you," Sin snapped. "I was going to--"

"Menace me?" Once again, the other man seemed amused.

"Just te--" Before he could finish the sentence, an overwhelming wave of nausea overcame him and he scrambled over to the waste basket that sat next to the coffee table and began vomiting into it violently. The only thing that came up was liquid and acid before it eventually turned to painful dry heaves. After what seemed like an eternity, he pushed himself away from the garbage and collapsed onto the carpet before rolling onto his back. He panted harshly, squeezing his eyes shut as he willed himself to stop being so fucking weak. He needed to find Boyd. He needed to remember what had happened. He needed--

"Please, just tell me where he is," He said hoarsely, hating how pathetic he sounded but not able to stop it.

After a moment, he heard the sound of feet walking around the apartment before Carhart crouched down next to him. "Sit up, if you can."

Sin opened his eyes and stared at Carhart, hating the concerned look the man was aiming at him, but deciding not to say anything about it. He slowly pulled himself up and eagerly drank the glass of water that Carhart pressed into his hand.

"Before we have that conversation, I have some questions of my own," Carhart told him calmly.

Frustration welled up inside of him and Sin barely stopped himself from punching the man in the face. "I don't-- Just fucking tell me, is he alive? Did he escape? Did any of that shit even happen? Was there a mission in Monterrey or was it all some fucking dream I had while I was in a coma?"

Once again, intense hazel eyes regarded him calmly before Carhart inclined his head. "I see." He stood up and held out a hand, pulling Sin to his feet easily. "For now I will reassure you that he did escape Monterrey and as far as I know, he is still alive. However I refuse to tell you anything more until you look stronger and I get some explanations of my own. You're not the only one who has been in the dark for the past six months."

Relief flooded through him at the knowledge that Boyd had escaped but it was quickly replaced by confusion, astonishment. "Six months?" Sin stared at him incredulously. That would explain the leaves on the trees. "Why--"

"You had severe head trauma, or so I was told," Carhart replied as he wandered back into the kitchen and resumed his cooking. There were two large pots on the stove and the smell of the food made Sin's stomach growl violently. "Connors did not see fit to inform me of the true extent of your injuries however he did tell me that if you were to flat-line once again, nothing would be done to revive you. For the past several months I'd come to the conclusion that you had died or that you were brain damaged, because that is what I was led to believe." He glanced at Sin out of the corner of his eye, a strange expression on his face, and began dishing out two rather large bowls of what appeared to be rice and stew.

The bowls were set down at a table in the kitchen and Sin sat down, eating ravenously and at an alarming speed. Carhart watched with an almost endeared expression on his face and when Sin finished his own bowl, Carhart pushed the second one towards him.

"Eat as much as you want but don't force yourself or it will make you sick."

With a distracted nod, Sin worked on making the contents of the second bowl disappear as quickly as possible. It felt good to have solid food in his stomach after what had most likely been months of a liquid diet from his IV. After a few minutes he pushed the empty bowl away and sat up straight again, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He noticed the half-smile on Carhart's face and waved him off.

"Shut up."

"I didn't say anything."

"Good." He slouched down in the chair, feeling almost uncomfortably full, and stretched his legs out in front of him as he stared at the General silently. It was more than a little odd to be sitting in the man's kitchen, eating his apparently delicious home cooked food and seeing him behave so casually. For years he'd only ever encountered Carhart in a professional setting but now as he regarded the handsome man in front of him, it was hard to equate this with the General that annoyed him so much sometimes.

"So this Morgan-- you were gonna get fucked tonight or what?"

Carhart blinked at him once, twice and his eyebrows shot up. "Wow."

Sin smirked. "Just curious if you make her call you general in bed."

"Where did you suddenly develop this... sense of humor?" Carhart asked, not bothering to dignify the question with an answer even though the side of his mouth twitched in amusement.

A one shouldered shrug. "Working in a bar."

There was another stretch of silence as Carhart stared at him in surprise. "Well. That wasn't the kind of employment I'd expected you to find." He tried to picture Sin-- alarming, brooding, easily set off Sin-- working in a bar, and the mental image ended in a bloodbath every way he looked at it. He shook his head slowly, eyebrows drawn slightly together.

"Just so we're clear, I think you should know that other than the fact that the mission failed, I was given no details about anything that occurred at any time in Monterrey. Connors was not pleased by the way things turned out, he blamed Jeffrey and me for acting on faulty information, and the both of us were actually suspended without pay for two weeks because of it. Because he deemed this whole thing to be the failure of our entire department, he didn't go out of his way to give me the details of anything that had happened although Ryan attempted to piece together bits from his sources, which was difficult considering his state."

The general sat back in his chair and crossed his arms over his muscular chest. "Like I said, I assure you that as far as I've been told, Boyd is alive. I will tell you details about what happened upon your and his return to the compound but not until you give me an account of all that happened from the time you entered Monterrey until you returned. But before we begin that-- do you feel any better?"

Sin shrugged, not really understanding why Carhart kept speaking of Boyd in such a vague manner, and nodded. "I suppose."

"You're lucky I didn't call the medical staff. You looked on the verge of death when you arrived." Carhart cocked his head to the side and observed Sin critically. "You don't look as pale, at least."

"I--" Sin broke off with a scowl. "I don't need the medical staff. I just felt... odd. Off balance. Probably from the reconstructive surgery on my legs."

"Recons--" Carhart broke off and frowned, leaning forward across the table. "I understand that the assignment was a failure because of faulty information but that is all Connors deigned to inform me. That the convention was not more than a rookie orientation and that no one of note, none of the reasons you were there, had actually been present. I feel... responsible for that. I feel responsible for the entire mission if I'm frank, but there are still holes in the information I was given. I know you may not be feeling up to it at the moment Hsin, but I really need for you to tell me in detail everything that happened from the time you entered Monterrey. Especially how and why you were obtained."

Sin rubbed the back of his head again and his eyes flicked down at the table as memories once again flitted across his brain. "How much..." He'd never been one for debriefing and he honestly wasn't in the mood for it at the moment but he knew it was the only way Carhart would tell him anything about Boyd. "What do you want to know?"

"Just start from the top," Carhart said, obviously eager to finally learn anything about the operation.

Sin nodded and shifted slightly before finally looking up with a blank, unreadable expression on his face. "We entered Monterrey and everything went according to the plan. I obtained employment at a night club named Lunar owned by a woman named Jessica Ramirez and continued to work there until the end of August when I went about seeking employment for the convention. Nothing of note happened during those months until we both got the suspicion that we were being watched. However it turned out to be nothing more than a smuggler that Boyd was investigating who was making sure that we were not going to get too far involved in his business."

Carhart's eyebrows rose slightly. "A smuggler? There are plenty of smugglers across the border, why was Boyd investigating him thoroughly enough for the man to take notice?"

Sin shrugged. "He had the suspicion that the man was a weapons smuggler with ties to Janus. It turned out that he was in fact a powerful weapons smuggler, the most powerful according to one of Boyd's informants, but that he did not sell to any specific group and he really had no allegiances to any faction as far as we know. After he came to the conclusion that we were no threat, we were left alone and I no longer got the suspicion that we were being followed."

There was a brief silence as Carhart watched him. "Someone followed you undetected?"

Sin's eyebrow twitched and he made a face. "Obviously."

"Well, that is interesting enough right there. What was the name of his group? He may be someone we may want to look into later in case he does get involved with Janus one day. At the rate they're going I wouldn't be surprised if they got every underground crook under their thumb."

Another shrug. "All I know is, he called himself lo más chingón and he apparently has a very strange sense of humor. Boyd probably has more information on him, as he was the one investigating." Sin looked around the kitchen with a slight frown. "I want a cigarette."

This time the pause was longer and Carhart stared at him blankly for several long moments. "I see." He looked away briefly, cleared his throat and then looked back. "And smoking was a part of your cover. You don't need to do it anymore."

Sin made a face. "Whatever. Anyway the gist of it is, nothing happened that stood out for the majority of the assignment. In fact everything appeared to be going smoothly until the actual evening of the Exposition. That was when we realized that no one on the list of targets was present and so, for lack of any guidance on what to do in that situation, we chose to carry out the second part of the plan and proceeded to detonate the explosives."

The distracted expression on Carhart's face disappeared and his brow furrowed. "And everything before that evening was fine? Your cover-- the hiring process. Everything went on without any flags going up? No one acted as though they suspected you of anything? I suppose what I'm getting at is, are there any indications that your cover was blown and that the Janus leaders on the list decided not to show at the last minute because they knew their plan was compromised?"

Sin opened his mouth to deny that but he hesitated and thought back carefully. That had been something he really hadn't thought of and it was a very real possibility but as he wracked his brain, he realized that there really had been nothing to indicate such a turn of events. "Unless lo más chingón really was a Janus operative and somehow figured out who Boyd was and what he was really up to in Monterrey, no. And that scenario itself is doubtful. Boyd would have alerted me and you from that moment on had he the suspicion that anything like that was the case."

Carhart nodded and made an irritated sound at the back of his throat. "So what it really does come down to then, is that Thierry gave us shit information."

"It appears that way." He'd always known he should have shot Thierry back when he had the chance.

"So you went on with the second stage understandably and what happened from there? How did you get captured?"

"I--" Sin broke off and his eyes once again dropped to the tabletop. He stared at the gravy covered spoon that sat next to his bowl and tapped his fingers against the table in a gesture that could either signify nervousness or irritation. "We had a disagreement." His eyes flicked up briefly to meet Carhart's intense blue ones before dropping again. He cleared his throat. "There was a civilian. My old boss, Jessica Ramirez. She had told me in advance that she had a part in planning the Exposition but I had not intended to actually see her there. We spoke briefly earlier in the evening and I thought I wouldn't see her again after that but after the bombs began to detonate as I was escaping out of the southeast wing of the center, I encountered her injured and unconscious near the exits." He hesitated and looked up at Carhart, discomfort evident in his expression.

Carhart raised one eyebrow at Sin and didn't seem at all surprised at what he was hearing-- he seemed to know exactly what was going to be said next. "So you helped her get out." There was no condemnation in his tone, nothing vaguely chastising.

"I-- Yes. The plan had been for Boyd and I to meet at a designated spot several blocks from the convention center after the explosions went off unless we had a tail or our positions were compromised. In that case we had an alternate plan to go into hiding separately and meet up two weeks later or longer, whenever our positions were secure as to not draw attention to the other. I thought-- I had planned, to grab the girl, dump her somewhere on my way to meet Boyd and then continue on my way since she was unconscious anyway but when I told Boyd that I was taking her with me, he became angry and told me to leave her."

That earned him a somewhat surprised stare. "Why would he get angry over that?"

Sin shrugged, still not looking up. "I have no idea. I became angry at his refusal to listen to me because..." He trailed off for a moment and his eyes narrowed. "Had I left her there, the explosives I was about to set off would have killed her without question. And she was a civilian. And I wasn't going to do that. There was no point. It wouldn't have hindered my escape or the mission and she was right in front of me. I would have been unnecessarily killing an innocent person, someone completely uninvolved with my mission. I would have done the same for any civilian, not just her."

"I know you would have," Carhart replied quietly. There was a pause, as if he wanted to know more but didn't want to push very hard. "What happened next?"

"Anyway he got angry that I wouldn't leave her and said that we should just forget plan A and go straight to plan B, meeting in two weeks."

'If this gets you caught, you fucking deserve it.' His hands balled into fists and a flash of anger, of pain, went through him. He clenched his jaw slightly, ignoring the feelings, and moved on.

"So I took the girl and went in an alternate direction. The route I was going to take to Boyd was clear but routes leading to alternate safe houses were all blocked by incoming emergency vehicles and I had to take an unplanned route towards the waterfront in order to escape notice. I left the girl in a warehouse while I scouted out an alternate route to one of the places we'd decided on in case of Plan B-- it took longer than expected but after I located some good directions, I returned to the warehouse in order to move the civilian outdoors so that help would be more likely to stumble upon her."

He swallowed hard, memories flashing through his mind. "I--" He stopped. "It was stupid. I suppose... I should have listened to Boyd but I just couldn't fucking leave her there." He looked up at Carhart, uncharacteristically expressive, the distress in his face quite clear.

"You don't have to explain to me, Hsin. I think after all this time, I know how your mind works. And I can't say it's not something I wouldn't have done had I been in the same place. Even indirectly killing a civilian, especially when it seems easily preventable, is not something I have ever or would ever do if I can go about my assignment another way. It would be even more difficult when it is a civilian that you are acquainted with." Carhart's tone was genuine, reassuring, even though he was clearly surprised that Sin almost seemed to be looking to him for... approval. "What happened when you returned?"

Sin frowned. "Well, it turned out that she wasn't just a civilian. Although she was unwitting and ignorant of the connection, the uncle who'd gotten her the job at the Exposition turned out to be Hale Clemons, the director of the center and the Janus contact. She... I suppose at some point while I was carrying her, she'd briefly regained consciousness and saw me in a ski mask. When I left, she woke up frightened and confused and called her uncle to come pick her up. She must have mentioned that she thought she'd been kidnapped or something because he appeared with backup, no doubt Janus operatives, and they knew or at least suspected, that I was the one involved. I was out numbered but I took four out quickly, it should have been no problem, I could have easily taken them out but..." His hands clenched tighter, knuckles turning white as he tried not to remember the way her blood had splattered across the cold concrete floor, the way she'd fallen lifelessly, beautiful eyes staring blankly at him, expression frozen in horrified guilt--- He shuddered slightly and forced the memory out of his mind. He would deal with it later. He would... he would take that on later. "I shot at Clemons but Jessica got in the way. So she died anyway."

There was another long silence and Carhart didn't think he needed to hear how the story ended to figure out what happened next.

"I froze. I... fucked up. And they got me." The words were spoken without emotion and once again, he didn't look up. "The next two weeks are confusing; a blur. I regained consciousness in a van but I was heavily drugged and could not escape. They did a scan on me in the van and realized that there was a tracker implanted in me. They took me to an unknown location, I wasn't alert enough to see where, but it appeared to be an old clinic and they proceeded to surgically remove the tracker. I can't..." He paused, reflecting on the incident. "I don't know what happened after that. I remember feeling weak and eventually... nothing."

Carhart nodded but didn't say anything, not wanting to interrupt.

"Anyway, after that I only remember flashes of the interrogation. They tortured me for information but I would not give any up. They used various methods; burned me with a butane torch, broke my limbs and destroyed tendons in the process and so on. Clemons seemed especially vindictive, not at all interested in information but in vengeance because I'd killed his niece. I can't blame him for that, I suppose but eventually they grew tired of my refusal to speak and after some time all I remember is Clemons telling me I would have a slow, painful death but I'm not sure that even happened."

Sin frowned slightly. "Everything from that time seems distorted and I'm not sure what was reality but that is the last thing I remember before today. The door closing on his face and that I was still strapped down." After a moment, he shrugged.

"That's all I can tell you." He'd recounted the entire thing in a matter-of-fact tone as though the actual memories involving the torture did not bother him in the least; it wasn't really surprising though. Physical abuse had never been something that moved him.

It took a moment for Carhart to reply and even when he did, he didn't really seem to know how to properly respond to the things that Sin had said.

"We first caught wind of the fact that there was a problem when initial reports following the bombings included the description of a suspect; a description that matched Boyd's cover."

Sin's eyebrows rose in surprise but he didn't interrupt as Carhart continued.

"A woman living in the hi-rise opposite the center happened to look out and see Boyd leaving the wing which obtained the most damage. She reported it as seeing a survivor but the authorities jumped on the information and immediately said this person was a suspect. Mexican authorities began to obtain any Caucasian males in the city for questioning and kept any foreigners without visas for intense interrogation. This of course resulted in many innocent tourists and visitors being unfairly held and their countries of origin began to do their own investigations as to who the terrorists were. America, as always in these times, was the prime suspect for many although there has been no proof to support that theory."

Sin frowned. "I'm sure Vivienne and Connors loved that shit."

"Heh." Carhart crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head. "Yeah, loved it so much that Connors immediately began pointing fingers at anyone in the vicinity but that was even before we found out that no one on the hit list was actually hit. However it wasn't until hours later when your tracker reported that you were dead that we realized something had gone very wrong."

Sin raised an eyebrow. "Dead?"

"You probably momentarily flat-lined during the procedure to remove your tracker as it was destroyed soon after. Despite the fact that I insisted we contact Boyd immediately and figure out what the hell was going on, Connors said no and that if there was still a chance that the mission had been successful and that Boyd was maintaining his cover and following your plan, there was no reason to interfere since we aren't in the habit of bailing Agents out of trouble in any other scenario so early in an assignment. I was pissed and my response is probably what prompted him to exclude me from making any further decisions on the matter."

"I see." Sin continued to frown slightly, wondering how Boyd had managed to remain out of the hands of the authorities during that time.

"However over a week passed and no contact was made and Boyd continued to wander around the city according to his tracker, so Connors began to suspect that either he was unable to contact us with details on Janus because his cover was in jeopardy or that he had for one reason or another, decided not to return to the Agency. Whatever the case was, finally Connors decided to send in a team led by Kassian Trovosky to obtain Boyd and search the location of your last known position in order to figure out whether or not it was a Janus base. I'm not sure what happened between the time they arrived and the time they returned and I was generally left out of discussion after that."

"That still doesn't explain where he is now," Sin said impatiently. "What happened and why in the hell do you keep being so damn vague when I ask? Just tell me already and be done with it."

"Because I don't know the details Hsin but... I do know part of it. So try not to lose control of your temper when I say what I'm about to say. I know it is difficult to hear but at the same time, I cannot truly say that it surprised me and it should not surprise you either. You know how things work here." Carhart gazed at him steadily, giving nothing away in his expression.

Green and hazel eyes locked and Sin didn't respond for a moment. But then his gaze slid away and he studied the wall, a blankness taking over his expression even as the slow burn of anger and frustration spread through him. "They needed a scapegoat."

Carhart inclined his head. "And Boyd was that scapegoat. Connors blamed everything on him; from the fact that he was the one to obtain the disc to his decision to split up and your capture. And he was punished for it."

Sin nodded shortly, giving nothing away or at least trying not to, even as he grit his teeth. "How long?"

Carhart shook his head. "I'm not sure. I wasn't allowed to debrief him or speak with him before or after. I believe anywhere from two to three weeks though."

He knew how Connors worked; he knew how Shane worked. They weren't big on physical torture of their own Agents; they liked their punishment to have a more lasting mental effect, something that would paralyze them with fear at the mere idea of being subjected to it. As he stared at the wall, eyes slightly narrowed, his mind automatically went back to that evening, Boyd's birthday, and the video of Louis.

"I see." Sin released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding in a slow exhale. "Is that it?"

"No." Carhart paused briefly before continuing. "Once again, the details are not known to me, but the last I heard he is no longer with the Agency. Whether it was by his own choice or by Connors' is unclear."

Sin's gaze snapped over to Carhart and his brows drew together. "What?"

The other man spread his arms helplessly. "That's all I was told."

"You haven't even tried to contact him?" Sin demanded, the confusion and irritation in his expression growing. "I don't fucking understand this-- how can he no longer be with the Agency? They don't just fire people or let them walk away."

"I know, but that is what I was told. That either by his choice or by Connors', he is no longer with us and that he is now at his home or whatever location he returned to, under extensive twenty-four hour surveillance, which will remain to be the case for as long as it's necessary I suppose." Carhart shrugged. "And I did not contact him because I supposed if he wanted to be contacted, he would make it known, which he has not. Ryan wanted to make an attempt as far as I know but Boyd no longer has his Agency phone and Ryan is too ill to travel on his own."

"Well I'm not." Sin pushed his chair back and stood up so suddenly that his head swam and he momentarily faltered.

Carhart looked at him doubtfully. "Uh huh."

Sin glared at him and grit his teeth in frustration. "I'm fine."

He'd been away too long; it disgusted him how he was so unable to hide his weakness from the other man. He forced himself to stand up straight, to stride towards the bedroom as if nothing was wrong with him, as though his head wasn't spinning just from standing upright, and began opening drawers in the General's dresser. He pulled out a pair of jeans and changed into them, leaving the flimsy white pants on the floor. They were too big for him and slid down his hips but he ignored that and grabbed a pair of tennis shoes. They were only a little tight so he tied the laces and stood up before heading over to the desk.

As he started to grab the gun, his eyes once again lifted to the framed photographs that sat on the desk. There were was one that appeared to be some kind of family portrait which included two older men in military garb, a woman, several children and a young, teenaged version of Carhart standing at the side with a wide smile on his face. They were in a backyard of some kind, or a park, and in the background he could make out a banner that proclaimed 'Happy Veteran's Day!'.

The next photograph was of a pretty young blond haired woman holding an infant baby, gazing at the camera with a tired looking smile on her face. It wasn't hard to figure out that she was Carhart's deceased wife and the baby had been his child, both killed during the bombings that had rocked the country. Sin shook his head and started to move away as he grabbed the gun and re-inserted the clip but before he stepped entirely away, a small photograph stuck in the corner of the mirror caught his attention.

It was slightly crumpled although a vain attempt had been made at smoothing it out again, but that wasn't what struck him about it. It was the green eyes, the short black hair, the big cocky grin and the features that looked so much like his own. It was a picture of Emilio looking a little younger than Sin was now, one muscular arm thrown around a younger Carhart's shoulders even though his partner didn't look nearly as enthusiastic as he did. One of Carhart's eyebrows was raised slightly and despite his almost exasperated expression, the corner of his mouth was lifted in a small smile. They didn't look more than early twenties, probably from the time when they were partnered together almost exclusively, and judging from their bullet proof vests and weapons, it seemed they'd just returned from an assignment or were going on one.

It was hard to say whether the picture had been taken before Emilio had rescued him from China or afterwards but he could only assume that it was around that time. Not for the first time did it strike him how young his father must have been when he'd been conceived but that line of thought just led to thoughts about his mother and he didn't need that at the moment. Sin stared at it for longer than was necessary feeling more than a little disturbed by the image but before he allowed it to fully get to him, before the memories could bubble up entirely to the surface, he was going back out into the living room as he shoved his weapon into the back of his pants.

"Please, help yourself," Carhart said dryly as he eyed Sin, not seeming at all surprised at what he was seeing. It only proved his point that Sin would have left immediately had he told him from the beginning. "Do I get those back?" he asked, pointing at the shoes.

"Ask the med-crew when they eventually drag me off and take all of my clothes," Sin replied as he headed for the door. He had no doubts that that would be the case as soon as they figured out where he was and where he was going.

That was replied to with a grunt of agreement and Carhart followed him. "How are you going to get off the compound?"

Sin looked over his shoulder at the General and raised his eyebrows. "I have my ways." He started to run off but for some reason he stopped, paused and turned once again to look at Carhart who was leaning against the door and watching him quietly. "Thanks."

The General stared at him in surprise, not really appearing to know how to reply to that sudden statement. His lips parted as though he wanted to say something but he hesitated for a brief moment, looking directly into Sin's intense green eyes. "It's... good to have you back."

The corner's of Sin's mouth turned up in a humorless smirk and he shrugged one shoulder. "I guess we'll see about that, won't we?"

Carhart shook his head, narrowing his eyes slightly. "No matter what happens in the future, I'm glad you're okay. More than you realize, Hsin. So take care of yourself. Good luck."

Sin looked at him for a long moment before finally turning to go.

Continue to Chapter 41