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-One

During Sin's teenage years, he'd thought about escaping the Agency. In the process of researching how to follow through on that, he'd discovered there were hidden tunnels beneath the compound. Newer blueprints of the compound omitted their existence and not very many people seemed to know of their existence. In a case like this, it worked to Sin's advantage.

There were hatches in the basements of several buildings that led to the tunnels. During the various times he'd sneaked off the compound, he'd used the one in the basement of an unused lab building to gain access to it. It was actually one of the only things about the Agency's security that he'd consider to be a breach; wiring leading to the tunnels had been destroyed during the bombings and proper surveillance had never been fully installed again afterwards. He didn't know if it was laziness or the assumption that no one remembered their existence that prevented the heads of the Agency from fully securing them, but at the moment he didn't care since it suited his interests well enough for it to remain that way.

He moved through the pitch blackness of the tunnel quickly, quietly, listening for anything out of place even as his eyes scanned the darkness. He imagined there had once been a lighting system set up but also due to the wiring, it no longer worked. Despite that, he could see surprisingly well in the gloom, even if that only meant making out the faint forms of rodents in the dark. It was strange but it seemed like the darkness helped him to focus, helped him to regain his bearings, and he wondered if they'd had to do surgery on his eyes for some reason, if that had possibly been the problem when he'd first woken up. Whatever the case was, he was slowly regaining his strength and he knew that the meal Carhart had provided him with was a large part of this renewed sense of energy.

As he moved, the information that Carhart had given him began to ring in his ears.

Six months.

He couldn't believe he'd been out for six months. More than that, he couldn't imagine what Boyd had been doing during that time.

How had he reacted to the mental torture of the Fourth and the calm cruelty of Shane? If they really had used the video of Lou's death, had it shattered him and turned him back into the emotionless void he'd been before or had he broken down completely? What had he done during those months after his release? Had it been his choice to leave? Had he convinced his mother to let him go? But... why would he do that? Why would he want to leave the place he claimed that tied him to the only people he felt close to, felt loyalty towards?

Logically Sin knew that a simple answer to that was that of course he would want to leave after being subjected to the Fourth, of course he would never want to return. But as angry as it made him that they'd possibly put Boyd through that hell... it was hard for Sin to think in those black and white terms.

To him, the Fourth was a natural part of the Agency, to him, it was something that had to be accepted because it was always an option, always a possibility if a person fucked up badly enough. Boyd knew that. He had to. So why... Why would he leave the place that tied him to Sin? That allowed them to connect; to communicate. To just... be together?

Maybe he was angry, maybe he blamed Sin for being punished, maybe...

He shook his head sharply. He had too many questions and concerns. His brain was whirring quickly, going at an impossible speed and he couldn't quite keep up with his own thoughts.

He just needed to talk to Boyd.

As doubt seeped into his brain, he stopped caring about caution or stealth, and his feet began to splash noisily in the shallow water that coated the ground as he ran through the tunnel at an alarming speed. It seemed to go on forever and for a disturbing moment the confusion and disorientation returned. It seemed that the darkness had swallowed him up, that the tunnel had become a never ending maze and that he would never find his way out.

He would never find Boyd, never knew what had become of him, never find out if he still...

But then he saw the faint reflection of moonlight bouncing off water in the distance and he knew he was almost to the end.

The tunnel grew increasingly narrow and as the brightness of the moonlight intensified, the tunnel finally hit a solid wall. The only indication that there was a way out on this end was a ladder leading up towards what appeared to be a manhole cover, a black round disc faintly visible against the ceiling with pale moonlight streaming through the holes. He climbed the tall ladder quickly, not for the first time wondering just how far underground these tunnels were dug. When he finally reached the top he felt around the cover and twisted it before he pushing it up. He pulled himself through the rather tight space and out of the tunnel as he looked around the familiar scenery.

The exit led to an enclosed area under an overpass in Silver Lake Park; a park which had once been one of the most beautiful spots in the city but now was rumored to be a barren wasteland where greenery refused to grow. Although the place was blocked off by fences and signs that warned of radiation, the beginnings of blossoms on the trees told Sin another story. He wondered if that had never been anything more than a ruse manufactured by the government to keep this area closed off from the general public. He didn't doubt that the entire area had been contaminated at one point. But it was too convenient that this particular park was off limits considering it housed the secret escape route for the Agency.

He moved through the park swiftly, feet becoming thoroughly soaked by the winding stream, and found his way to the unofficial exit. It was nothing more than a space in the barred fence that was a few inches too wide, but he squeezed through it and found himself in the city. He got a sense of déjà vu as he once again took this route to Boyd's house unannounced and uninvited; anxiety clawing at him the entire time he made his way there. And even though he was running with an almost inhuman speed, even though buildings and people went by him in a blur, somehow it still didn't seem fast enough.

When he finally reached Boyd's block, it almost struck him as much as it had the first time around. In a city that had fallen apart and drifted into a collection of ghettos following the war, a neighborhood like this was a rarity. Large houses with manicured lawns stood proudly, cars parked in driveways proved that families still lived there, people still thrived there. Now in the spring, the trees that lined the streets were full of leaves and it seemed like one of those picturesque places that he'd briefly seen in pictures.

He made his way to the pale tan-colored house third in from the right. As he walked into the front yard, it was painfully obvious to him that there were agents watching him. He paused briefly and looked in the general direction the stares seemed to be coming from with a challenging raise of his eyebrows. Hopefully they knew better than to fuck with him unless they waited for backup.

He turned back to the house, taking in the fact that Boyd's car sat in the driveway looking dirty and untouched, as if it hadn't been driven in months. The house itself looked still, uninhabited, but despite that most of the curtains were open. The lights were all off and he couldn't hear or detect any movement inside. Weeds and overgrown grass dominated the front yard, standing out dramatically against the rest of the neighborhood, while the backyard was impossible to see beyond the tall wooden privacy fence.

Although Sin had only been there once before, it hadn't looked like this. At the time, the house had been as perfectly composed as the rest on the block. Now it felt neglected in a manner that seemed unlikely for someone to actually be living there. Sin frowned and moved silently through the grass, making his way to the front door as he knelt down and picked the lock. It was as easy as it had been the first time around and when he slipped into the dark interior of the home, he reminded himself to give Boyd a stern talking to about the total lack of security in his house.

It was completely dark inside. The only light that made it in was the faint glow of the streetlights through the open windows. Maybe it was because he'd been there before, but Sin could see better in the gloom than he would have expected. He glanced only briefly around, not really bothering to study the house but looking anyway just to be certain Boyd wasn't there.

The living room had several large, open windows, affording him enough light to know at a glance that the room was empty. He noticed that a few of the cushions on the couch were moved out of place, the low-lying table nearby was at an angle as if it had been hit and a few of the pictures on the shelves near the television were knocked over. As he passed the kitchen he saw that it also looked relatively unused although a few dishes were in the sink, seeming as though they'd been there for a long time. The kettle was sitting at an odd angle at the back of the stove and only one of the chairs at the table was pulled out.

He didn't see or feel any sign of life in the house. The only indication that Boyd may be there was the car sitting in the driveway.Even so, Sin's heart began to beat faster as he walked silently over the carpet and made his way to the room he'd assumed had been Boyd's the first time he'd come to the house.

The door stood open and although there were no sounds coming from inside, as Sin moved closer he knew that Boyd was there. His eyes focused on Boyd's familiar figure even before he stepped in the doorway.

For some reason, he was momentarily struck speechless by the sight. He'd known that it'd been six months but still, he remembered Boyd as he had been the three days before the convention; red-haired and handsome, healthy and tanned. But now... he didn't know if Boyd was awake or not but as he lay motionless on the bed, Sin couldn't help noticing the changes. He was paler and thinner. Dark circles lined his eyes and his hair was pale blond but mixed with a dark brown.

He tried to speak, tried to think of something to say, but for some reason all he could do was stare.

There was a long, drawn out moment before Boyd seemed to notice he was there. His eyes slid open slowly, just enough for light to glint off them. When his head turned and their eyes met, he only watched Sin dully with an unchanging expression. He didn't even bother to move. Sin's eyebrows drew together and he moved closer, mouth curving down into a frown when Boyd didn't say a word.

At first Boyd just stared at him blankly, as if waiting for him to say or do something, but when they only ended up watching each other, he let out a weary sigh and covered his eyes with one arm. "What do you want?" he asked, his voice quiet and a little hoarse. Resigned.

Sin froze for a moment, expression changing to one of disbelief. He didn't stop until he was right next to the bed. "What do you mean what do I want?"

"What do you think I mean," Boyd mumbled, barely a hint of voice, as if he could hardly bother to speak aloud.

Disbelief morphed into incredulous irritation and Sin's eyes narrowed as he stared at him. The anxiety that had been building inside him, the doubts that had run through his mind, all came crashing down on him and his stomach twisted.

"What's your problem?" he demanded sharply, grabbing the front of Boyd's shirt and jerking him so that he was forced to look up.

Boyd's eyes snapped open in shock and for a moment he only stared at Sin, his heartbeat quickening enough that Sin could feel it against his knuckles. This time when he was silent it seemed as though he was too surprised to speak.

He searched Sin's expression in a mixture of disbelief and confusion, saying in a tone that seemed lost, "What..? You're--"

His bewildered gaze traveled up to Sin's hair, to the buzz cut he'd never had before. His eyebrows drew down as he reached up. The second his fingers brushed Sin's hair, his eyes widened and he jerked his hand away.

He met Sin's eyes with a mixture of so many emotions that it was difficult to read any of them except fear and disbelief. "You're real?"

The scowl melted slightly and Sin let go of him and stood up straight, staring down at Boyd in like concern. "Of course I'm real."

For a moment Boyd seemed too astounded to do anything except push himself up on his elbows and stare, his lips parting. He searched every bit of Sin's face and body intently, as if searching desperately for something that, judging by his expression, he didn't see. His honey brown eyes were charged with an emotion that seemed too difficult to decipher. But almost immediately, he snapped his gaze to the window and his expression closed off.

He pushed himself up to sit in a slouch, running one slightly shaking hand through his hair to get it out of his eyes, then looked at Sin. "Why are you here?" he asked, his tone quiet.

"Wh--" Sin stopped and shook his head slowly, green eyes darkened by the shadows in the room as he stared down at Boyd. "Why wouldn't I be here?"

"You're not--" Boyd almost seemed frustrated briefly before even that much emotion disappeared and he fell silent, studying him for a moment. When he spoke, his tone was reasonable but close to the remote quality of when they first met. "Because there's no reason for you to be here. I don't know how you're still alive, or what they told you, but... I am no longer with the Agency. I am no longer your partner."

Sin's lips parted and his eyebrows drew together. Something inside him began to freeze over as his hands tightened into fists at his side. He didn't hide the confusion in his face. He didn't hide the fact that he didn't understand.

"Why are you saying that to me?" he asked finally.

"I haven't been with the Agency for months, Sin," Boyd said tonelessly, either not noticing Sin's confusion or not reacting to it. "I can't imagine you left the compound with permission so you're likely just endangering yourself by being here. It's... good to see you're alive, but there's no reason for you to stay. You should go back before they come for you."

Sin's eyes narrowed again, brow furrowing even deeper and he shook his head slightly. Why was he being this way? Why was he talking to him like...

"So since you're not with the Agency anymore, there's no need to see me," he said flatly.

Boyd watched him for a moment. His face was like a mask that Sin couldn't read at all. "Go back," he repeated. "I've seen you, you've seen me. There's no other reason for you to be here. You're just wasting your time."

Ice seemed to seep through Sin's veins, continuing to freeze his insides, his defensive walls desperately trying to rebuild even as he felt something crack and shatter within him. He dropped his eyes, unable to meet Boyd's emotionless stare anymore.

He focused on the carpet, not really seeing it as memories flashed through his mind once again. But he didn't want to remember any of that. He didn't want to remember them together in Monterrey or Boyd smiling at him. He didn't want to remember falling asleep next to Boyd, confiding in him, wanting him, being so fucking open with him...

He closed his eyes, gritting his teeth.

Maybe he'd imagined it all. Maybe it hadn't been real. Maybe it was some fucking extended coma-induced dream that had seemed so real, so fucking real he'd actually thought that for a few months he'd really been alive.

"Why are you being this way?"

"Because I want to be," Boyd said, something almost like anger intensifying his tone and making it turn cool. "Why are you still standing there? Do you not understand English anymore? I told you to leave. I don't want you here, I don't want you to ever come back. Go to the Agency, forget about me, forget about this place. I want you to leave. Or are you just going to stand there until they come looking for you?" The last comment came out almost derisive, as if Sin was a child too incompetent to find his own way home.

Sin opened his eyes but he didn't look up and this time his face slowly drained of emotion until it was perfectly blank. The anger he would have normally felt, the indignation, the need to lash out, seemed like something far away. Something he'd never felt before seemed to be taking the place of those needs. A pain he couldn't quite describe wound its way from the pit of his stomach to his chest and settled there. Every other feeling gave way to emptiness; a void where he had fleeting memories of pleasure.

"Are you sure?" he asked in the same quiet tone, still not looking up.

Boyd was silent for a moment. Just as Sin was about to wonder if there was a chance, Boyd's voice said quietly but firmly, "You need to go."

There was a brief silence, a tension that stretched between them, and then Sin finally looked up at him.

"Fine," he said with a finality that almost gave away his intentions.

He suddenly moved his hand to his back in a blur of motion. The moonlight glinted off steel and the familiar cocking of a gun seemed loud in the otherwise silent room. Sin didn't drop his eyes as he lifted the gun and without hesitation turned it gun on himself. Full lips parted as his finger found the trigger. He saw Boyd's eyes widen and face pale.

He threw himself at Sin, all his weight slamming into him. He shoved Sin's hand to the side violently just as the gun went off, the bullet missing Sin and the crack of the gunshot loud in their ears. Sin crashed onto his back on the floor and Boyd fell on top of him, clutching the gun and Sin's hand painfully, keeping it aimed safely off to the side.

He breathed heavily and stared at him with an expression that was wild with a mixture of alarm, desperation, and something that almost seemed incredulous. At first he seemed too shocked to be able to say much other than, "What are you-- Why..?"

Sin's eyes were closed, face expressionless even as his mouth set into a thin line. He didn't move, didn't respond for several long moments. Although his hand remained slack, his fingers twitched around the gun.

"It's what I want," he said flatly.

Boyd stared at Sin as if he was still trying to comprehend the situation, but the answer he received only served to increase the emotions already present. He had both hands on Sin's hand and the gun, his fingers tightening against Sin. He shook his head, alarm and frustration intermingling in his expression and voice.

"No, you can't want that," Boyd said, although his tone made it sound as though he was trying to convince himself. "Why would you want that?"

There was no response for a moment but then Sin opened his eyes and locked gazes with Boyd. He opened his mouth to answer but his lips trembled slightly, eyebrows drawing together. He abruptly turned his face away from Boyd, masking his expression in the shadows.

"What do I have to live for if I go back to the way everything was before?" His hand twitched again as fought the urge to lift the gun. He never finished the motion; he couldn't do it with Boyd so close to him and the weapon.

Boyd's eyebrows twisted up and his eyes were intense on Sin. He parted his mouth as if he was going to say something, his expression wavering before he looked down abruptly.

"Give me the gun," he demanded, yanking on the weapon.

Sin didn't let go and Boyd just pulled harder, trying to pry Sin's fingers away while keeping it safely aimed away from the both of them. They struggled over it but the moment Sin realized Boyd wasn't going to give up, he relaxed his hand. He didn't want to unintentionally injure Boyd with their hands scrabbling so close to the trigger.

Within seconds, Boyd had pulled the gun away, released the magazine and tossed it one way before he threw the empty gun in another. He stared after where the gun had skittered across the floor and hit the wall, his eyes narrowed, expression dark. He sat back, almost straddling Sin; the tension in his body was obvious from the way he held himself but at the same time he seemed to be shaking slightly, his chest moving quickly from exertion.

"Sin, you can't--" he started, then shut his mouth. "There has to be something for you to live for. You always found reasons before."

"Something to live for?" Sin asked, incredulity and outrage moving through him. "What the fuck did I ever have to live for, Boyd? Being at the mercy of Connors and Vivienne and everyone else in that place? Being forced to kill decent people? Being locked in a box and a apartment full of cameras which is just a bigger fucking version of that box where I couldn't sleep or do anything but sit in a corner and wait for the next day to start so it can be the same shit all over again?"

He scoffed in disgust, glaring up at Boyd. "Or maybe you meant the fact that every person that looked my way treated me like a fucking animal that needed to be controlled? And I had nothing else so I didn't know there was anything else. So I just went along thinking that was the way shit was and that was the way it would always be. That that was the way it was supposed to be, because that's what they told me for my entire life."

Boyd leaned back further, his expression turning pained. "Sin..."

"What do you want me to do? I'm not--" Sin broke off abruptly and grit his teeth, swallowing hard as he tried to look away. He tried not to let Boyd see the way he was starting to lose all shreds of control, but he couldn't.

Emotions overwhelmed him. The complete disbelief that after everything, after he'd gone so far down a path he'd never been on for Boyd-- with Boyd-- he was being discarded.

It made his chest tighten, his throat close up and suddenly everything looked blurry.

"I don't want to go back to the way I fucking was. I don't want to go back to being alone and and having to be nothing but a weapon. I don't want to pretend that I don't--" He stopped again and realized with a vague sense of humiliation that he was about to display the ultimate form of human weakness.

"I can't do it without you," he grit out. "I won't."

Boyd's eyebrows drew up in the center and his lips parted. His eyes were intense on Sin's face and they seemed to glint faintly in the light. His hand started to rise but then his fingers twitched, curled in on themselves, and his hand dropped to his thigh. He looked away, his eyebrows drawing down and expression somewhat closing off.

"Sin, it can't be that way anymore. You have to forget me."

The words made something in Sin snap and suddenly he was on his feet. He grabbed Boyd by the neck, dragging him up and slamming him against the wall with a force that caused the ceiling light to shake. Uncontrollable anger coursed through him, feeding an old need for violence that hadn't surfaced in such a long time that it seemed like that dark part of him was hissing with a phantom voice. Telling him to hurt, to destroy the being that was causing him these startling, unbridled feelings. The person that was threatening the thin thread of sanity that had thickened and stabilized over the past year.

For a moment he wanted to listen. For a moment he wanted nothing more than to pound his fist into Boyd's face until he realized why that was such a fucking stupid, hurtful thing to say-- until he realized how selfish he was being, how fucking, how incredibly--

A growl of frustration escaped him and his hands tightened violently. Boyd's eyes met Sin's and his hands jerked as if he was about to bring them up but he didn't move them. He didn't touch Sin or resist.

"Then why did you do this to me?" Sin shouted, eyes flashing with the kind of black fury that usually led to something wilder, something more out of control. He was breathing hard, not even trying to hide the fact that he was crying, not even trying to mask the frustration and hurt as his fingers dug into Boyd. "Why did you fuck my head up and fucking make me believe it was okay to act like-- to fucking feel like a normal human if you were just going to drop me when things got too fucking hard for you to handle? Why did you lie to me?"

His voice wavered and he looked down abruptly, at last making some vain effort to hide the shameful tears that tracked down his cheeks even as he continued to pin Boyd against the wall. "I wish I could hate you. God, I wish I could fucking kill you for doing this to me. Why couldn't you just leave me alone if it was going to be this way?"

Boyd couldn't seem to respond at first; he stared at the tears and, after a moment, brought his hands up to shakily curl around Sin's wrists. His own eyes seemed to shine in the dim light. "I didn't lie to you."

Sin jerked his hands away from Boyd's touch and released him abruptly, letting the other man drop to his feet where he slumped against the wall. Sin turned his back on his partner, his former partner, and covered his face with his hands. He tried to regain his composure; tried to get himself under control.

"You did," he said after several long moments of tense silence. After he'd finally regained complete control over himself and had quieted the phantom and anger. "You said you wouldn't give up and you have."

"I didn't give up," Boyd said quietly. "Not on you."

Sin remained faced away from him and even though he dropped his hands, he continued to stare at the floor blankly. He didn't even know how to respond when everything that was happening seemed to point to the contrary.

"Then what do you call this?" Sin stopped and shook his head. "Don't play this game with me again. Don't act like I should know what you're thinking when your actions and words are saying something entirely fucking different."

At first Boyd didn't say anything. He stepped forward and stopped right behind Sin, lifting one hand to hover over his shoulder, hesitating a moment before he touched him. Sin tensed and Boyd withdrew his hand immediately, remaining quiet before he released a short burst of breath.

"Sin-- I can hardly believe you're here. After months of hearing nothing, I knew you had to be dead. I thought even if you weren't, you would hate me." There was a pause, heavy with unspoken words. "But you're alive and that's incredible. And it's even more reason why you shouldn't be here. They're watching; they'll know you're here. You're not safe. They can't have let you off compound so the very fact you're here is a risk not worth taking. I swear I don't mean to hurt you, it's just... There's no point to this. It's better for you to go."

Sin opened his eyes but he didn't turn around, still didn't look at Boyd. He just stood there for a moment before finally moving to sit on the edge of the bed, leaning his elbows on his knees so that he could put his head in his hands. He had a throbbing headache and it was becoming difficult to see straight. The edges of his vision were dimming and spots danced before his eyes, making it impossible to focus entirely. He rubbed his temples idly, trying to gather his thoughts, trying to figure out what he was supposed to do now and not coming up with a very good answer.

"I can't even..." He trailed off for a moment and winced, gritting his teeth as the pain intensified. "I honestly have no idea what you're talking about, Boyd. Why are you even saying this? I don't understand what any of this has to do with anything. Who cares if they're watching? You think I'm afraid of that? Just tell me why you think I should stay away from you, why it's 'better for me.'"

Boyd hesitated and then knelt in front of Sin. He rested his hands on either side of his thighs although he still did not touch him. His honey brown eyes searched Sin's expression intently, as if looking for something. Sin didn't know what he was looking for but whatever it was, he must have found it because he said suddenly, sincerely:

"I'm sorry." It seemed as though he hadn't quite meant to say that aloud, but once the words were in the open he couldn't help explaining. "I'm such a--" His eyes glinted and he stopped, dropping his eyes to stare at Sin's knees before he tried again. "Sin, I know it was all my fault, I know I fucked up. I don't know how to tell you how sorry I am, how much I regret it. I swear to you I didn't mean what I said, that you actually deserved that--"

His fingers dug into the covers at the thought and he tilted his head down further. Sin didn't speak, didn't respond, and so he continued. "And I'm so sorry for abandoning you, for fucking with your trust like I did. For letting that happen when I was in the same city. I should have been there for you but I wasn't. I can never make it up to you."

He stopped, his eyes narrowing slightly. "That's why you need to leave me behind now. All I ever do is hurt you. And when something happens, I'm never there to help you, just like I wasn't with Lou. I'm only ever going to make it worse. You're better off without me."

Sin continued to sit on the edge of the bed with his face turned away and when he finally moved his hands, he just stared down at the comforter. "Why would you ever think any of that was your fault?" he finally asked slowly, voice still quiet even if it wasn't as listless.

"Because I left you behind when I never should have," Boyd said in frustration. "There were so many things I could have done but I was too afraid to lose you-- too damn stupid to think properly with the idea that you would choose anyone else over me, even when that wasn't even happening." His fingers turned into fists against the cover. "My judgment was affected and just because it was Jessica, just because I was jealous, I did something horrible and ended up betraying you. And because of that, because I wasn't there as your partner like I should have been, you were tortured in a way you never should have lived through."

Sin finally sat up straight and looked over at Boyd, eyebrows drawn together with confusion and surprise. "That's why you acted that way? Because you were jealous?" he demanded. "Are you serious?"

Boyd fell silent for a moment. "Yes."

Sin shook his head, totally mystified. "So if it'd been anybody else you wouldn't have acted that way?"

"I don't know." Boyd paused then let out a breath. "Probably not. I would have been... thinking more clearly."

"You just--" Sin had to stop himself and once again look away.

The information didn't mollify the anger that he'd felt about Boyd's reaction; if anything, it only made it worse. He'd basically told Sin to do the thing that he'd scorned Connor for doing; killing an innocent person for his own personal reasons and gain.

Sin took a deep breath and tried to control the anger that was building inside him once again. He closed his eyes, trying to ignore it but as soon as he did the image of Jessica's blank, staring eyes assaulted him. His hands curled into fists and he swallowed convulsively, eyes snapping open because he just didn't want to see anymore; it was too much. "Do you know who you sounded like?"

"The Agency," Boyd said quietly after a moment.

"You sounded like Connors," Sin corrected him flatly, still not looking over. Even so, he could tell Boyd stiffened at the name. "You sounded just like Connors whenever he slides a file across his desk with a name in it, when he tells me to do his dirty work and take out some random person who hasn't really done anything wrong just because they're complicating his agenda."

Boyd drew away, sitting back on his heels and dropping his hands into his lap. He didn't seem to know what to say to that at first. It was a few seconds before he said softly, "I'm sorry."

"Just forget it. I don't even know why you would be jealous of her. She was never a replacement for you." He paused, and shook his head. "I didn't come here for this. It doesn't matter anymore."

And he hadn't. But it'd made him so angry before and hearing Boyd's reasoning just exacerbated it, made him want to tell him exactly how it made him feel. It wasn't even really about Jessica. It was about Boyd telling him he was human, telling him he shouldn't have to be anyone's tool, puppet, and then completely going back on those words when it came down to what was in his own best interest.

"I was upset because you told me to kill the woman but I never once blamed you for what ended up happening. It wasn't your fault. No one could have known how things wound up. When I woke up I wasn't angry about that. I was fucking worried because I had no idea what ever ended up happening to you or if you even escaped okay."

"I was fine," Boyd said, his tone somewhat bitter. "I escaped. It would have been pathetic if I left you there and got caught anyway. And after--" There was a slight catch in his words, as if he almost said something else, but then he continued. "I returned to the Agency, I've been here. So there's nothing to worry about."

Sin glanced at Boyd again. "Well apparently there is still something to worry about. Things are just a different kind of fucked up now. I just don't know what you expect me to do now. I don't know what you want from me because what you're telling me to do is not going to happen."

Boyd let out a long breath and brought one hand up to rub wearily at his eyes. "Sin, all I want is for you to be safe and happy. But you have to look at our history. I'm poison for you. I hurt people because of you-- I hurt you because of you. I can't be trusted. I fuck up so much; I make such resounding mistakes that destroy everything around me." He shook his head once, sharply. "I make one irrational decision and suddenly you're fucking dying in the back of the van. I watched you stop breathing. I watched them struggle to bring you back."

His eyes glinted but his expression seemed charged, his eyebrows lowering. "I'm a goddamn menace to you, Sin. You may have managed to live this time but I can't trust it will ever happen again. I'm afraid of the decisions I may make around you and the consequences they may have. I could be the death of you someday and I don't know if I can risk that."

"You can't risk that?" Sin's eyes narrowed into a glare and for a moment he was so aggravated that he didn't even realize that Boyd was saying he'd apparently flatlined more than once. "It's not just your decision. It's my life, and you're trying to make fucking decisions for me."

"I'm trying to protect you," Boyd insisted. "Sin, you died. You fucking died and they almost couldn't revive you. How am I supposed to forget that or the part I played in it?"

"Well I think that's fucking bullshit," Sin snapped angrily. "I think you coming to this decision just because you're afraid is fucking cowardly and selfish. So what, I almost died, guess what-- that's my goddamn job!"

He broke off abruptly, shaking with barely concealed anger and looked away, breath coming fast once again. It took several long moments to regain his composure but when he did he spoke with the same flat tone he'd used previously. "Just forget it. I'm not going to sit here and beg you. I'll give you what you want if you want it that bad."

There was no immediate response and Sin silently picked up the gun from where it had been thrown. He grabbed the magazine which had fallen closer to Boyd and ignored how tense the other man seemed as he stared silently at the floor. Shoving the clip back in the gun, Sin held it at his side as he walked out of the bedroom with a sense of finality.


But Sin didn't stop even though he heard hurried footsteps as Boyd ran after him.

Boyd sounded alarmed as he said, "Sin! Wait, please-- Please don't go!"

He didn't know if it was something in Boyd's tone, the slight hint of pleading and desperation, but whatever it was it made him pause in midstep.

Sin felt Boyd's forehead rest against his back. Boyd didn't speak right away and they fell silent. When Sin made no effort to say anything or pull away, Boyd said quietly, "Thank you for waiting."

Sin stayed still. His body was tense and yet he couldn't make himself take another step; not with Boyd's warmth pressed against him. "Why are you doing this now?"

"Because it would have been worse if I didn't," Boyd said after a beat of hesitation.

"Worse for who?"

"For both of us," Boyd replied quietly.

"For both of us," Sin repeated in the same flat tone. "I'm doing what you told me to do and now that's not the right thing either?"

Boyd let out a low breath. "When I told you that at first, it was different," he said, his tone relatively reasonable despite how confusing his words were for Sin. "I didn't intend for it to turn out like this, for you to think that I never cared, that I could just drop you or forget you and move on as if nothing changed. I don't know what's right anymore, I just--" He shook his head, a sense of frustration in his tone. "I just know this isn't right. If I never saw you again and this was how we parted, then it's wrong."

"Then what's right, Boyd? I don't understand what you want me to do. I don't understand what you want from me anymore. Just--" Sin broke off for a moment. "Don't stand here and do this if you're just going to tell me the same shit again."

Boyd's hands twitched on Sin's shoulders and he drew in a breath. "I've changed too. Being around you changed everything for me. Before the Agency, I may as well have been dead. Even after I met you, before we were friends, I was just waiting for my life to end."

Still Sin said nothing and his shoulders did not relax. He stared straight ahead, face expressionless and jaw clenched tightly.

Boyd pressed his forehead harder against him He seemed intent on explaining before Sin had the chance to leave, before he could walk out and they could possibly never see each other again. "And now things are different. I'm different. And I need you too."

Dark eyebrows drew together slightly, green eyes narrowing as Sin stared at the door. For a moment he didn't believe what he'd heard. But he replayed the words in his mind and he inhaled slowly, eyes sliding closed even though none of the tension left his body.

"Don't play with me Boyd."

"I'm not," Boyd insisted. "I swear to God I'm not. I know you have reason to believe I may be lying, or maybe you think I changed my mind too quickly. But I swear, Sin, the only thing making me push you away before was the belief that you were better off without me."

The tension in the room seemed to weigh down on Sin's shoulders. Confusion and anxiety caused Sin to pull away from Boyd and cover his face with his hands, a frustrated sound escaping his throat. "You're driving me crazy. I come to a decision and then you come and fuck it up and now I don't even know what to do or say anymore."

"What do you think you did to me?" Boyd asked rhetorically.

Broad shoulders rose in a brief shrug and Sin just scoffed quietly at the situation in general. "So what now?"

"I don't know," Boyd admitted, looking away. "I suppose it depends on what your new decision is."

"Well it was to leave like you were telling me to but it would be stupid to do that now that you're telling me not to since I never wanted to in the first place," Sin said blandly.

After a moment, Boyd asked hesitantly, "So... Are we okay then?"

"If you swear that you're not going to go back on your word and change your mind later," Sin replied, not missing a beat.

"I won't."

Sin turned finally, green eyes locking with brown and gracing the other man with a stare that seemed wary but mostly tired. His head was pounding by now and the dizziness from earlier was beginning to creep up on him again. He didn't know if the anxiety and tension had worsened his condition or if he'd been fucked the entire time and been moving purely on adrenaline. Whatever the reason, exhaustion was catching up with him.

"I don't really know what's going to happen now with the Agency. I figure I'll be sent back to medical so I don't know when I'll be able to contact you again."

"Wait," Boyd said, quickly taking a step forward when he realized Sin intended to leave. "You don't have to leave. I mean--" He stopped, then gave Sin a slightly uncertain look. "If it's alright with you, I'd like for you to stay the night."

Sin stared at him blankly for a moment and genuinely felt surprised at the request.

"That's fine with me," he said finally, looking around at the living room. "If they get antsy I'll deal with them when the time comes but I doubt they're going to do anything too dramatic considering they're in a civilian neighborhood and causing some huge standoff would draw a lot of unwanted attention. They'll more than likely just do an escort in the morning. I'm sure by now they've confirmed that neither of us is dead and if they haven't, the living room is in full view of a lot of windows so they'll figure it out when they see me sleeping."

Boyd looked over at the couch. The clean lines of the furniture stood out in the shadows and the pale light from the streetlight across the street. "I meant... for you to sleep in my room. With me. My bed is large enough and it's a lot more comfortable."

The suggestion wouldn't have been surprising hours ago, or more accurately months ago, but after everything that had been said between them in the past thirty minutes, for some reason it was. Even so, it wasn't something he was going to turn down, not when the idea of that kind of proximity was more than a little appealing.

"Okay." There was a brief pause. "If you're sure."

Boyd nodded, looking slightly relieved. "Okay." He watched Sin for a moment and then turned towards his room.

Sin trailed behind him, feeling more exhausted by the moment. He came to the conclusion that it really had been nothing more than adrenaline that had driven him for the past couple of hours. The anxiety over what had happened to Boyd had pushed him but now that the paranoia and hot anger was fading, he wasn't left with much more than fatigue.

His head was spinning and his vision dimmed at the edges, making Boyd's room seem even darker and his bed seem even more inviting. As he collapsed on Boyd's bed, he swore he was seeing spots. He was barely aware of Boyd pulling the curtains closed. By the time Boyd had crawled up on to the bed beside him, he was already asleep.

Sin was dead asleep until he felt his shoulder shake and heard Boyd's voice telling him to wake up. His eyes snapped open and his body tensed. "Is it late?"

"It's just past seven," Boyd replied quietly, as if it would alert the agents outside to the fact they were awake if he spoke any louder. "I haven't heard anything but I just woke recently." Somehow, his hand didn't quite make it away from Sin's shoulder.

Sin groaned and brought his hand up to his head, wincing slightly. The pain wasn't entirely gone but he felt far more alert and prepared to deal with the Agency than he had the night before. "I should go soon. I'd rather leave before they come and physically try to remove me."

Boyd studied Sin and for a moment it looked as though he was about to say something but instead he just nodded and sat up fully, looking at the curtains as if he could see through them to what the agents were doing. "That's probably best," he agreed, though something about his expression seemed a little reluctant. "That way it doesn't give Connors or my mother time to give the order, if they haven't already."

Despite his comment about leaving, Sin didn't get up and instead stared up at Boyd with his hand still resting against his forehead.

"What did he say to you at your debriefing?" he asked suddenly.

Boyd watched Sin for a moment and then shook his head with slightly narrowed eyes and a faint frown. "Basically that I'm a failure on all accounts. I was hired to be your partner, if I'd done my job none of this would have happened, I fucked Thierry and got faulty intel and then caused an international incident..." He paused. "And that my sexual relationship with you must have influenced my decision to insist they didn't let you die."

Sin stared at him blankly for a moment before speaking. "How does he know we have a sexual relationship?"

"I suspect he was expanding on his belief from earlier," Boyd said, looking over at Sin again, "when he saw the surveillance video of before you were sent to the box. But I can't be certain."

"I see." Sin wondered if he'd be 'neutered' now. His hand unconsciously dropped to his crotch as if suddenly paranoid that something had been done to him to make it... unworkable. "Well he's a fucking moron anyway. What did Vivienne say?"

"That was the strange part, actually." Boyd drew his eyebrows down thoughtfully. "She was understandably angry that I was seen, but she seemed equally displeased with Connors. After he dismissed me, she followed me out of the room to speak with me. She's never done that before. She kept saying I needed to learn my lessons more thoroughly but that it was for my safety as well as others." He paused, seeming confused as he added, "It seems so unlike her, but... I think she was trying to warn me of where I was headed."

"Maybe she was. Maybe she knew it was bullshit."

Boyd shook his head. "Was it?" he asked rhetorically although his tone was a little dark. "If you take into account everything I've done, even back to when I broke you off the fourth, and also how many people were hurt because of me in Mexico..." He shook his head. "I'm probably lucky that's all I got. I'm probably lucky they let me off the floor at all."

Sin shook his head but didn't say anything more on the topic, not wanting to get on another debate about what was Boyd's fault and what he deserved or didn't deserve because of it. "And whose decision was it for you to no longer be an agent?"

"I don't know. Probably Connors'." Boyd's eyes narrowed slightly although his tone remained calm. "All I know is I returned home to find my termination letter waiting for me. And agents watching me. At least, I thought so. It took me awhile to decide that was true."

A slight frown crossed Sin's face and he sat up finally. "Something about that seems off. There has to be more to this 'termination' than meets the eye. I've never heard of an actual field agent ever resigning or being fired. Anytime anyone has left service before, it usually led to them being permanently silenced because of the risk it would be to have someone wandering around who knew so much about an organization that isn't even supposed to exist. I don't even think your mother's influence would change that."

Boyd considered that. "I don't know what happened, then. I don't see why they wouldn't follow normal procedures just to be safe. It's not as though killing me would've made much of an impact on the Agency as a whole and that way they would've been covered."

Sin's shoulders lifted in a shrug. "I have no idea. This all just seems really strange in general. I guess we won't know for sure until... I don't know. Until someone really tells us what the hell the deal is."

They fell silent for a few moments; Boyd didn't have an answer to that and Sin didn't have anything else to ask. He had no intentions of questioning Boyd about what had gone on during his time with Shane. It was unnecessary and most likely not something Boyd would want to talk about any time soon, if ever.

Boyd studied Sin and seemed to hesitate, as if wondering if he should ask or not, but then he said, "I've been wondering... How did they manage to catch you?"

Sin's eyes dropped and he stared at the black sheets uncomfortably. He'd been anticipating the question and even though he'd explained it without hesitation to Carhart. After Boyd's admission that his attitude towards Jessica had been over his own personal dislike, over jealousy, something in him held him back from telling the whole story. He didn't want Boyd to know that she'd died anyway, that he'd ultimately been the one to pull the trigger even if it'd been an accident. Just one look, one comment, one hint that Boyd was pleased by the knowledge would make that same anger build inside of him again. It was something that he wanted to avoid. It was something about Boyd that he didn't even want to acknowledge.

"I'd ultimately planned to drop her off in a park on the way to meeting you but all routes to safe houses were pretty much blocked by emergency people so I had to take a different way that I hadn't previously scouted. I dropped her off briefly in a deserted area, scouted, came back with the intentions of moving her somewhere more public since she'd still been unconscious when I left but she'd already woken up by the time I returned. She'd called her uncle to pick her up and he turned out to be Hale Clemons, even though she was obviously unaware that he had ties with Janus. She seemed to have no real idea what was going on. Long story short, they managed to overpower me and knock me out."

Boyd slid his eyes closed and tilted his head down; although he didn't say anything at first, judging by his expression, it was along the lines of what he'd expected to hear. He shook his head once and said quietly, "Even if she knew he was tied to Janus, there was no reason she wouldn't call; she didn't know you were an agent. But... Hale Clemons? I wouldn't have expected her to have any connection with him. His background check didn't reveal her relation to him and any time I tried to get any information about him, no one like her was mentioned."

"Yeah. I'm assuming they aren't related by blood. She called him her uncle but that doesn't necessarily mean they're legally or closely related. He may be nothing more than a close family friend. Who knows." He shrugged again and continued to study the sheets. "That's pretty much the long and short of it. Mostly everything after that is vague, I just remember bits and pieces of interrogation. I don't recall much honestly until I woke up yesterday in one of the compound's medical facilities. I wasn't even aware that I'd been brought back to the Agency."

"I could see that; you were in terrible shape," Boyd said somberly. He shook his head as if to stop thinking about that. "How did you get here, then?"

Sin glanced up at Boyd again. "I... left. Knocked out a couple of doctors and escaped the facility, pretty much. At that point I had no idea what was going on or whether or not you'd even made it back okay so I went to Carhart and got a few answers although for the most part, Connors had him in the dark as well." He stood up finally, glancing at the window. "I should probably get out of here."

Boyd looked to the window as well even though nothing could be seen through the curtains. He nodded a little distractedly, then stood. "If... Well, I know you won't. But if you happen to get off the compound and you need anything... I'll be here."

The corners of Sin's mouth turned down a bit and he pushed Boyd lightly, almost playfully. For a moment there was a feeling of old familiarity, the motion bringing to mind the things that had passed between them more than a year ago when they'd first started to become accustomed to each others company.

"After all the shit I just went through trying to convince you not to ditch me, do you really think I'll let them keep me away?"

Boyd looked caught off guard, but then he smiled slightly. "No, I suppose not."

"Alright then."

They didn't exchange words after that and Boyd trailed behind him quietly as Sin strode towards the door. In the light of the morning with the pale, almost ghostly rays of sunshine straining to break through the ashes, it was hard to believe that the events that had taken place the night before in the darkened shadows of the house had actually occurred.

Even so, as they made their way to the front door to part ways for what could be the last time in a long time, neither of them mentioned what had taken place. There was something close to awkwardness between them, a hesitation and uncertainty that hadn't been there six months ago. That was unsurprising given the circumstances. Despite the fact that the majority of their relationship had started in Lexington, at the Agency, they'd never been that close there. Sin hadn't really considered how their interaction would be affected upon their return and he suspected Boyd hadn't either.

The fact that agents were watching their every move didn't help matters. That, combined with the uncomfortable embarrassment that shadowed the outpouring of feelings the night before, made for a very quiet farewell.

Continue to Chapter 42