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.


Our AFFN profile

Site hosted by 1&1

Evenfall Chapter Forty-Four

Boyd moved to the door of the hidden office, waiting a moment to make sure he didn't hear anything on the other side; only when he verified the silence did he open the door silently and glance out. The door opened into a hallway much like the others he'd been wandering through, but it was less glamorous which strengthened his belief that this was a hidden wing that could only be accessed by probably one or two ways and was not open to the general public or guests.

He glanced up and down the corridor but no one was around and he didn't know how long it would take for more guards to appear so he didn't want to spend too much time just standing there. He slipped into the hallway, letting the door fall shut with a quiet click behind him and went in the direction that seemed most likely to eventually lead to an exit. He hadn't heard anything from Sin again so he wasn't certain if the place he'd found had in fact held Thierry; as he passed through the hallways he watched for any places that seemed suspicious or that may have further information he could bring back to the Agency.

With that in mind, when he found a staircase that headed down, he figured it couldn't hurt to check out. He hadn't heard or seen any other guards, but half the hallways in this wing seemed to be well-lit as opposed to the rest of the complex that had seemed shrouded in darkness which put him in a far more vulnerable position. On the other hand he was hoping he could pass himself off as a recruit guard just long enough to get away. If that didn't work, he didn't have any troubles improvising.

The next floor down appeared to have the same type of hallway. The rooms that he passed were all shut so he couldn't see what was inside without rattling the doorknobs, which was not a very intelligent idea. He passed through a variety of hallways without finding anything of interest or any doors that were open. He didn't hear anyone in the vicinity so he turned the corner and was halfway down the corridor when the scuffing of boots against the floor ahead of him caused him to freeze and look for some sort of cover.

There wasn't even a single table in the hallway, though, and when he tried the nearest doors he found them to be locked. His heartbeat increased and he moved quickly to find somewhere to hide. The footsteps were just about to the corner when he finally found a room that was unlocked and he ducked into it quickly. He barely noted that it was dark inside the room and he listened intently through the door as the footsteps slowly approached his hiding place and, seeming to take longer than was necessary, finally passed by.

Some of the tension that had built inside him released; he listened through the door to verify the coast was clear and was just about to reach for the doorknob when the lights in the room suddenly flipped on. He automatically crouched and started to turn but before he could fully react, a heavy hand dropped onto his shoulder and held him still. He froze and didn't struggle or attempt to get away immediately; he was already in a suspicious enough position and if he wanted to blend in or have some sort of believable story, then fighting would only take away much of his credibility. It would be better to gauge the situation and try an excuse first; if that didn't work, he could always resort to violence.

"Identify yourself," a voice commanded behind him; deep, resounding, and somehow familiar. He looked over immediately and found himself confronted by a solidly built, lightly tanned man whose presence resembled that of a bear. He was glowering down with sharp brown eyes while behind him a woman with light brown skin and deep black hair glared.

They seemed familiar to him but just before he placed where he knew them from, the woman's eyes widened as her expression changed from anger to surprise then immediately to deeper suspicion.

"Reed?" she demanded, walking closer with eyes narrowing as she studied him more closely. His heart leaped at the name, at the idea that someone recognized him, and he studied her closer. Her hair was held back in a messy bunch at the back of her neck and her sleeves were three-quarter-length, showing scars from what appeared to be a terrible burn that appeared to start under her shirt and extended down her left arm, disappearing beneath a black leather glove at her wrist.

He remembered abruptly who they were; Dana and Rick, two Janus agents who had been a part of the security team at the hotel during the days prior to the convention. When Boyd had been wandering around as Kadin Reed, he'd run into them several times and had even spent the first afternoon with the two playing cards while they'd waited for the rest of the representatives to arrive. They had been placed there to ensure the safety of the representatives before the convention and he hadn't seen them since he'd entered JKS. He didn't remember her burn scar from before; it must have been something that had occurred since they'd last seen each other, likely even in JKS itself when the bombs had exploded and fire had raged in the building.

This put him in a difficult position; if they hadn't known who he was, he could have made up any number of stories but since they recognized him as Kadin Reed, he'd have to be especially careful. He already didn't look the way "Kadin Reed" had at JKS; his hair was mostly blond now, his eyes the natural brown, and that alone cast further suspicion on who he was and what he was doing there. After all, Kadin Reed's natural hair color was red, his eyes blue; what the hell would he have changed both if not for suspicious reasons? Added to that, if he didn't act like Kadin, it would make it even more obvious that the Kadin they'd known had not been who he'd claimed.

That would negatively implicate 53 as possibly having sent a spy to the JKS, which would put the lives of everyone in 53 in danger of Janus' revenge. At the same time it would compromise the Agency's contact to Janus through them. Beyond that, any doubts that he was not actually Kadin Reed could potentially implicate the Agency, or make it more obvious that someone from an entity like the Agency was attempting to infiltrate the compound. That could have been because he'd taken out the real Kadin Reed and was pretending to impersonate him, which could also implicate 53 if Janus felt they were not strong enough to be in their regime, or that Kadin Reed had all along been a lie.

Since they knew him as Kadin even without the correct hair and eye color and after half a year's absence, they obviously weren't fooled by superficial changes. It actually surprised him that they recognized him, considering it had been so long ago that they'd met. He looked different now, and they'd only been around each other for a few days. The fact that they were such keen observers did not bode well for his chances at getting away from this smoothly either, but that just meant he had to put more effort into this.

"Dana," Boyd said after a moment, smiling at her lopsidedly like Kadin. He was trying to remember all the nuances of that man, the way he'd held himself, the intonation of his voice, and he found that it was all coming back to him more easily and quickly than he would have expected.

He flicked his gaze up to Rick, who was staring down at him with an expression that was reserved but seemed displeased. He also had to be careful to say the sorts of things Kadin would say, even if he knew it would not necessarily be best for the situation. "Rick... It's been ages. How've you been?"

"Kadin Reed," Dana said slowly, walking around him while Rick's hand tightened painfully on his shoulder. Closer, he could see the burn extended partially up the left side of her neck as well as it wound its way up from beneath her shirt. and that she didn't seem to be moving her left arm very much. He felt her fingers trailing along his hair until she arrived in front of him again and she smiled pleasantly.

Rick suddenly slammed Boyd back against the wall so violently that he hit his head and didn't have a chance to react; he hadn't expected the large man to be so quick. Dana was immediately in his face, her good right arm pressing against his windpipe firm enough to be a definite threat but not quite hard enough yet to choke him. "I oughtta gut you right now you worthless sack of shit," she hissed furiously.

Boyd stared at her with wide eyes. "D-Dana?"

That only caused her eyes to narrow further, her lip lifting in a sneer. "I should rip out your intestines and choke you with them. How would you like that, traitor?"

She pushed so hard against his throat at the last hissed word that he couldn't breathe; he tried to press himself against the wall to get away from her but that did nothing. He let his eyes widen further as he made a choking sound to show what she was doing; she only smiled at the sound, cold fury significantly darkening her eyes.

Boyd didn't struggle at first but she didn't seem ready to stop; he looked quickly at Rick, who was watching with an unreadable expression. He tensed, his vision starting to go dim on the edges as his heart pounded in automatic reaction to a threat on his life, and he knew he had to try to get away or she may not stop. He'd been nearly choked often enough or in similarly dangerous situations that he didn't necessarily feel fear at the threat but that also didn't mean he couldn't be killed by something as stupid as this if he didn't react quickly enough.

He kicked at her suddenly but she only pressed the length of her body against him to limit his movements; he could feel that she was wiry, almost entirely muscle, and that although she'd barely moved her left arm she still had enough strength in her right arm and body to cause him damage. He pushed at her arm on his throat but she only grinned, an entirely cruel look, and pressed harder.

He could feel his heart beating faster in a spike of fear now as black dots started to eat away at his vision, turning the mundane room into meaningless shapes. Other senses seemed strangely heightened and slowed down; the sound of her breath harsh near his face, the smell of her sweat and something coconut, probably shampoo or lotion she'd used earlier. He tensed further and felt his heart pounding furiously in his body, quickening his blood while adrenaline slipped into his system again. He realized he would have to get serious about this if he wanted to escape; she showed no signs of yielding any time soon.

Boyd was just tensing himself to violently shove her way and attack when Rick dropped his free hand onto Dana's right shoulder and said simply, "Dana."

She didn't seem to hear him at first so Rick pushed her lightly, a gentle rock that caught her attention. She blinked, glancing at him questioningly before returning her attention to Boyd again. His mouth was open as he tried to draw breath he his lips looked pale. She pulled away from him abruptly, stepping back and watching as he sagged against the wall and would have fallen forward if Rick's hand hadn't still been on his shoulder.

Boyd coughed roughly, his breath catching as he struggled to breathe evenly, one hand moving automatically to his throat as if to protect or console. "What the hell, Dana?" he rasped after a few moments, looking up at her from beneath his eyebrows.

Dana didn't answer at first; she just watched him distantly and seemed more interested in the way his fingers curled near his neck, his chest still heaving a little uncertainly. Her gaze slid toward Rick and she ordered, "Hold him."

Rick pulled him upright and shoved him against the wall without warning, forcing him to look at them straight on. He held him securely while Dana searched him roughly but thoroughly with her right hand. Boyd didn't move or resist, although he paid special attention as she moved around his sock and belt. Thankfully, she didn't notice the jump drive or the sheet of paper, mostly because she seemed more interested in searching for weapons.

She didn't find any weapons on him but he did have a small glass cutter, the hand held trap detector and the code breaker. She pulled the three items out of his pockets while Rick pushed him harder against the wall. Dana met Boyd's eyes with a flat look. "What are these?"

"Just some shit I've had on me for awhile. Like, that one's a flashlight," Boyd said, nodding toward the small black device that did have a light on one end that was recognizable as a flashlight.

Dana raised an eyebrow, her eyes narrowed dangerously. "And you're going to try to tell me this isn't a glass cutter?" she demanded as she held it up.

"No," Boyd said, giving her a strange look. "That is. Look, what's going on?"

"Where have you been?" Rick's tone was relatively reasonable given the circumstances but it was clear he wasn't asking this idly; it was simply a softer form of a demand.

"I was around," Boyd said with a hint of irritation. "Seriously, what the fuck, guys? Why'd you call me a traitor?"

"Anyone who was in that building and didn't turn up dead or in the hospital's a traitor," Dana informed him coldly. She slipped the decoder, glass cutter and trap detector into her pockets.

"Where 'around'?" Rick insisted, watching Boyd unwaveringly with sharp eyes.

Boyd made a face at them. He wished now he'd had the chance to interact with them more at the time they'd met in the hotel. Although he'd seen them a few times, they had all been relatively short meetings except the afternoon they'd played cards. Even that had only been for a few hours and they'd been in such an informal setting that it was entirely different than these circumstances.

"Towns around Monterrey at first, mostly," Boyd answered, giving them a look that stated he was trying to work with them despite how unreasonable they were being. "I didn't know why the place went down, who was attacking us, if someone was hunting down all the reps, Janus and would-be's alike. I figured it was best to run 'till I knew what was happening." He looked at Dana, insulted. "How's that make me a traitor?"

"That makes you a traitor and a fucking coward," Dana said as anger overcame her features and voice. She moved right into his personal space and shoved him violently on the shoulder. "Why'd you run? Only traitors and cowards run when their comrades are burning to death behind them."

It was probably because he hadn't felt entirely ready for this mission and because he was suddenly being confronted with people from the time of the JKS mission, but for some reason the comment was enough to make him think of Jessica, of Sin stopping to help someone he knew, of the people he'd met in the center like Pat and the deaths they'd probably endured. He couldn't help a flash of guilt crossing his eyes and he looked away, his jaw setting. "I was scared," he mumbled uncomfortably.

"Scared?" Dana demanded incredulously. She shoved him again, her teeth gritted. "You're such a fucking pussy. You were scared, so you ran? Don't you have any pride? Any trust in Janus? Any fucking strength in your beliefs? I nearly lost my arm because I was in there, because I stopped to help my comrade. You just ran." She looked at him in utter disgust. "You don't deserve Janus."

"Why are you here?" Rick demanded before Boyd could respond to her. His ever-present quiet, intense stare did not leave Boyd's face and he seemed intent on not letting a single stray comment or missing explanation pass without being addressed.

"I was..." Boyd looked between the two of them hesitantly, as if he was a little embarrassed to tell them the truth. He could tell they wouldn't let him get away with any half-assed explanations so he quickly thought of the story he could make seem most believable in this situation, trying to imagine in that bare fraction of a second all the questions that would result and how he'd be able to answer them. "I wanted to make it up to everyone."

"Make what up? To who?" Rick asked immediately.

"Everyone," Boyd said, looking uncomfortable. "My friends, the people I met, Janus... I felt bad and when I finally contacted home, they gave me such shit..."

"So you were going to relieve feelings of guilt by breaking in here?" Rick interpreted, giving him a flat look that made it obvious he didn't believe him. "Start from the beginning." His tone clearly implied that if he didn't believe the story, Boyd would regret it.

"Yeah," Dana said in a hard tone, "and while you're at it why don't you give us some bullshit reason about why you look like you're trying to be undercover and why you're sneaking around places you shouldn't even know about. I'm in the mood to be entertained."

Boyd glanced between the two again, then sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He could have just attacked them, attempted to take them both out and try to hide their bodies before he would have continued along his way. But that was too risky; Rick was quick and strong, Dana was wily. There was a very real chance that he wouldn't even be able to incapacitate them both. If that happened, they were intelligent enough to sound the alarm immediately and get out the details of what had happened, to know that he couldn't be who he'd claimed he was.

At the moment, although they both seemed extremely suspicious of him, he got the impression that they didn't doubt that he was Kadin Reed; rather, they were doubting Kadin Reed's motivations. That was something that could work in his favor; at least that way he had some sense of history with them, as brief as it had been, and he would have a better chance of manipulating the situation to a direction best for him.

He couldn't afford to lose even that tentative amount of trust they were putting in his presence. He was better off working with them and seeing how far he got by being Kadin; then, when that plan ran out of usefulness, he would change tactics to whatever made the most sense at that time. Quickly, he tried to remember everything he could about Kadin's history he'd been told and decided to embellish where necessary.

"Look," he said seriously, giving them a weary look. He hesitated again, as if he didn't feel like he needed to be telling them this, but then he spoke anyway. "I know you both probably think I'm an asshole but I swear I wasn't trying to be. We've all got shit we have to deal with and some of us are smart enough to deal with it early while others ignore it 'till they fuck themselves over, right? I'm one of those 'others.' In the second wave, my house got hit by part of one of the bombs and it all got fucked up... I was in my room so I heard it like this just... fucking concussion that flattened my clothes, made me feel like I was going deaf. My little sister was caught so I tried to get to her-- I really did, I fucking swear, but I couldn't get close enough. She... pretty much burned to death right in front of me. Screaming my name, for me to help. Wanting me to make it stop hurting."

These two were too keen for him to hope his pretend emotions would be enough to convince them. He knew his tone was believable but if his expression wasn't, he would just seem too fake. To get the right flash of anger, pain and regret, he forced himself to briefly think of Lou, of screaming desperately as he tried to reach him, as Lou was murdered right in front of him. But the memory was unexpectedly vivid, making him feel like he was suddenly drowning in it. For a moment he could practically feel the spray of blood across his face, the smell of cement beneath him, the sound of Lou's gurgling breath as he struggled to breathe through the hole in his throat.

Boyd's expression darkening considerably as he looked away, refusing to meet either of their eyes. He tried to push that and other memories away, including the ones that had become connected in his mind to Lou's death thanks to Shane's patient, relentless cruelty.

"We've been in some crazy shit in TDM but... I dunno, somehow I haven't been in a bombed building again. Not like the way it was when Kara died. So, yeah, maybe it's pathetic, yeah, maybe I was a coward, but... I seriously don't know what happened. I fucking freaked. Shit started going down around me and I just... ran." He paused, waiting for them to speak or ask further questions, but they both waited expectantly for him to continue.

Frowning, Boyd ran a tired hand across his face. "I don't remember leaving, to be honest. I guess some chick in a hi-rise saw someone matching my vague description bolting and everyone all jumped on that as the culprit." He glanced briefly up at them with a mixture of weariness and anger before he looked away, an edge making it into his voice. "Which is fucking bullshit, if you ask me. Maybe the dick head that did that shit looked like that, I dunno. But if all that chick saw was me, I wasn't doing nothing wrong but running for my fucking life.

"Anyway, next thing I know I'm hiding in some shit hole in Monterrey, the cops are going fucking nuts around me, I don't know where anyone is or what went down, and I'm scared shitless that whoever attacked JKS has some list of our names as attendees. What if they were lying in wait to snipe any of us stupid enough to stick our heads up for air?"

They still didn't speak, appearing to be waiting for him to continue so Boyd scowled as if in thought. "I wasn't about to risk that. I got all paranoid they'd have pictures of us or some shit so I changed my appearance, snuck around and shit, made it out of Monterrey, hid awhile. Eventually, I found a way to contact Warren and the others. But they were pretty pissed at me, y'know? They knew I'd been scared and shit but they said I should've contacted Janus when I had my shit together. Since I didn't and I contacted them first, they said it made it seem like TDM sucked, like they weren't trustworthy or brave. They thought I'd compromised their chances of joining Janus."

Dana gave him a look that seemed to say, 'At least your friends are intelligent,' but she didn't seem to be as intensely angry as she had been before; now she just seemed caught somewhere between unreadable and feeling distaste. Rick, meanwhile, continued to watch him with the same unwavering, indecipherable expression.

"So," Boyd continued after a pause in which he realized they weren't going to respond or ask questions, "I tried to figure shit out. I found out about this place and I came to try to find Hale Clemons. I didn't know who to trust so it wasn't like I wanted to just go talk to anyone in Janus I may be able to find. I figured the guy who was working the convention down here couldn't be untrustworthy or Janus would've already taken him out. So I thought if I found him here, it'd mean he'd... I dunno. Be able to help." He trailed off with a light shrug.

Silence met his explanation and for a long moment, the other two only watched him as he directly returned their stares. He didn't say or do anything else, waiting instead for them to come to a conclusion, waiting to see if he'd have to try something else. He kept his expression as believable and upfront as he could and didn't waver even for a second.

Despite this, he was starting to get frustrated with the amount of time this was taking. At this point it would have been faster if he'd gone with Sin's usual method and eliminated them both. "Look I know this all looks strange, but I'm gonna keep being paranoid as fuck 'till this all gets straightened out and I know who to trust and Janus says they're not pissed with me anymore."

"Still pissed with you?" Rick repeated, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully. "So you know about the list, then."

Boyd stared at the two, racking his brains for anything 'the list' could possibly mean in that context, but he had no idea. "What list?"

Dana gave him a disbelieving look then suddenly let out a brief, harsh laugh. "Wow, you're a fucking idiot."

"Hmm." Rick considered Boyd, then looked at Dana. "I suppose there's no reason he'd know if he's been so thoroughly hiding like a rat. It's mildly impressive no one caught him yet, really."

"Yeah," Dana eyed Boyd in dark amusement as she replied to Rick, "and after all that work he walks right into a trap. Brilliant."

"It's not exactly a trap," Rick said dismissively with a shrug. Even so, his grip remained steady and heavy on Boyd's shoulder, leaving no doubt that he wouldn't let go no matter what. "It's more like a reward for some and justice for the targets."

Boyd looked between the two of them with a hint of nervousness. "What're you talking about? Trap?"

"You're on Janus' shit list, cupcake," Dana said sweetly. "And we can be rewarded for bringing you in."

Boyd stared at her blankly. "What? Me as in me personally? I'm on a shit list Janus made?" How the hell could that be? That made him wonder if they really were onto him, if Janus somehow knew who he was, or if Janus just knew that he had been one of the two people to set off those bombs. None of those were scenarios he wanted to be true.

"What happened at JKS was obviously an inside job," Rick said patiently, tightening his fingers on Boyd's shoulder even further as a silent warning. "Everyone who was MIA and in the following months didn't show up at the hospital, dead, or check in, was put on a wanted list. It has the name and face of everyone who's wanted for-- shall we say-- 'questioning,' and it offers an unspecified reward for anyone who brings in one of them alive for information."

"Look, I don't know," Boyd said, eying them. That list they mentioned explained how they'd recognized him so easily after such an absence. That could be a huge problem for him; he'd have to find out how widely distributed that list was. Otherwise, he'd run the risk of being recognized as Reed at every Janus place he went. This could also pose a problem for 53; it was a good thing they'd set some contingency plans in place when Boyd had originally received his assignment. He had also spoken to Kadin about the scenarios during the week he'd spent in Hawaii.

Rick looked at him completely unsympathetically. "That's the price you pay for betraying Janus."

"You're lucky it says we get more of a reward for you alive instead of dead," Dana taunted with a smirk.

Boyd's eyes narrowed. Something about her tone put him on edge. "Yeah? You're so bloodthirsty now you'll kill for no reason?"

"No," she said, her tone demeaning. "But if it hadn't I would've killed you right away for the coward you are. Would've been a shame, though; I wouldn't have been able to hear your tragic little sob story."

Boyd glared and for the first time he jerked against Rick's grip, as if he wanted to hit her. "Fuck you, Dana," he said heatedly, knowing Kadin would not have let her get away with that comment.

Dana and Rick stared at him for a very long moment, their twin gazes intense and hard, but finally Dana looked away, seeming mildly uncomfortable. She absently touched her left arm with her right hand and grimaced, looking pained on a level that was beyond merely physical. They were quiet for longer and then she sighed in irritation.

Her expression was absolutely unwavering and unreadable. She let the silence stretch until it was uncomfortable. Only then did she turn to Rick and jerk her head toward the door. "Come on. We'll take him to see his precious savior. Maybe Hale will feel kind enough to get him and his group back in Janus' good graces. After all," she looked Boyd over dismissively, "it's not entirely USNE7's fault they hired a coward for a rep. He seemed pretty cool to me when I first met him, too. Even beat me at a game of cards."

Rick nodded toward her, gave Boyd a serious look, then lessened his grip just enough for it to not be painful. He pushed Boyd ahead of him as they walked down the hallway; Dana in front with her left arm barely moving at her side, her stride quick and determined.

The fact that Rick and Dana didn't secure Boyd's hands, relying instead on Rick's ability to hold him still, told Boyd that despite the fact they were seriously suspicious of him, they didn't think he was a major threat. He knew they didn't believe his story and that was unsurprising; truthfully, it wasn't his story itself he was trying to convince them of indefinitely but rather that he was actually Kadin Reed.

The building Sin was in turned out to not only have one sublevel, but three, and the lower two were once again hidden and difficult to access. The staircase he'd found ended up leading to a floor that was relatively innocuous and looked a lot like the rest of the house. It had the same architectural design, same flooring and even the same wallpaper except for the fact that it wasn't as opulent in its decorations. Although there was a hallway and multiple rooms, it was relatively small in comparison to the rest of the house, which wasn't saying much since the rest of the building was incredibly large. It made sense though; digging into the hill to create extra levels had probably cost a fortune and making them as spread out would have only made it costlier and more time consuming. However, the size made it simultaneously easier and more obnoxious to sneak around in.

While he could cover the area in a much shorter amount of time without having to spend so much effort searching entire wings, it also made it more difficult to stay hidden and because of that he'd had no choice but to kill yet another operative immediately upon entering the area. They'd essentially run into each other as soon as he'd made it down the staircase and he'd responded instantly, slamming the heel of his hand repeatedly against the man's nose until there was nothing but a gaping hole in his face from where the cartilage had shoved up into his brain.

It had been pure luck that no one else had been in the immediate area but as he dragged the body quickly to one of the empty rooms, he realized with increasing frustration that if he had to kill anyone else there really would be nowhere to hide a body for long. As soon as someone actually found one of the poorly concealed corpses, the whole place would be on alert. It was aggravating but he really had no choice; people kept getting in his way and it was a lot simpler to just get rid of them rather than knocking them out and hoping they didn't wake up until after he found Thierry. He resented having to go through all of this trouble for the French moron anyway; knowing his luck he'd have taken all of this time and effort and the idiot had already gone and died. What a waste.

Feeling rather resentful about the entire affair, Sin had begun his search of the top floor and was rather irritated to see that the only things of note it seemed to contain were a couple of spare rooms, some offices, a conference room, what appeared to be the security center which held the monitors that were connected to the cameras on the outer walls of the estate and a bathroom. He'd just received Boyd's transmission that he'd also found something and had almost come to the conclusion that if Boyd was actually on the track to finding Thierry and all of this secretive hidden shit was just to conceal a couple of rooms then Clemons was a complete tool of a man, when he realized that something was very off.

Other than the man he'd run into after coming down the staircase, he'd nearly come into conflict with two others although he'd managed to hide from them in time to avoid it. However, the odd thing about the last pair was that they had appeared rather suddenly. The ceiling and walls did not appear to be soundproofed, as he could hear footsteps resounding above him and the idle conversation of the men sitting in the security room, but for some reason he had neither heard these people coming downstairs or seen them in any of the surrounding rooms as he'd made his initial once over. It didn't make sense.

The only thing that did make sense was that there was yet another hidden area inside of this hidden area and honestly, the conclusion caused him to become rather fed up with Clemons and this whole irritating mission. The whole estate had been one out-of-control study in paranoia after another and in his opinion it was going too far now. He felt like he was in some kind of bad haunted house or detective movie, but he was neither clever nor patient enough to be attempting to figure shit out and why couldn't people just have the balls to be sneaky and underhanded out in the open instead of going through so much trouble to hide it anyway? People were really annoying.

He'd just about decided that there was most likely just another doorway in the security room, the only area he hadn't searched yet since it was occupied, when he heard loud footsteps above him. He had just enough time to duck into the hallway, half in the darkened doorway of one of the spare rooms when an agitated looking blonde woman came storming down the staircase, shoes resounding angrily against the floor and ponytail swinging against her back like the tail of an angry cat. She strode through the main room stiffly, walked past the security room without looking twice and headed down the hallway without even noticing that she'd passed within inches of where he'd effectively blended in with the darkness of the room behind him. For a moment he'd assumed she was heading to the office to use the phone, the only thing in it that could be operated, but instead she went directly into the bathroom and closed the door behind her.

Sin stared at the door blankly for a long moment, waiting for her to reemerge, but when she didn't his suspicion immediately rose. Without much hesitation he crossed the hall and opened the door to the bathroom, hoping he wasn't about to bust in on her sitting on the toilet but deciding that it was worth it to check either way. However, not only was she not on the toilet, she also wasn't anywhere in the room. He closed the door and turned slowly in a circle, noting that there wasn't anything but a toilet, a sink, a cabinet and a tall mirror.

Dark brows furrowed and he opened the cabinet only to find a bunch of towels and toiletries. The ceiling was painted white and really had no space for a hidden door or passage. It was as he stood there glaring at his reflection in the full length mirror that he realized the mirror, which so perfectly framed his entire body and was vaulted to the wall, had to be the answer. And it was.

It took more patience than he knew he possessed to figure it out, but as he felt along the sides, he found a small latch that was very well concealed. When he pulled it, the mirror swung open like a door which led to a short hallway, another doorway and yet another set of stairs that led down. It was definitely beginning to be too much for him but it was here that he realized there were two other levels to the building and it was here that his body count slowly began to rise.

As he went deeper into the building though, Sin slowly became less irritated and more anxious about the entire situation. While he knew he wasn't in an entirely enclosed area, the knowledge that he was going deeper into a hill and that he was most likely surrounded by rock and earth disturbed him more than it should have and it made his patience even thinner. The fact that the area was more populated and well-lit didn't help the situation very much since that meant he had limited places to duck into and gave him very little hope about the plan of somehow sneaking out with Thierry undetected; although he'd never really had much faith in that possibility in the first place.

So he moved quicker, scanned areas faster and to his frustration but not so much surprise, found that many doors and areas were locked. After his initial search he saw a door that obviously led to a bottom level, the third sublevel, but the door required a password to get through and he didn't want to spend time trying to figure it out when he hadn't even thoroughly searched the entire second level yet. The floor lacked the innocuousness of the one above and although it didn't look like a torture chamber or prison, there was a institutional quality about it that reminded him of the Fourth floor of the Agency and he was sure that anyone would pick up on how intimidating and disturbing that could be. This area spread out more than the first sublevel but without a key or a way to sneak around effectively to find one without completely blowing his cover, he didn't have very many options.

What he ultimately found were two corridors which held several locked rooms and most of which appeared empty from what he could see through the small window at the top of each door. There was a third, shorter corridor but this one was guarded by three armed Janus operatives and that alone told him that he'd found what he was looking for and that there was no way things were not going to get messy. In the space between him actually coming to that conclusion and him actually starting to make his move, once again the damned radio went off.

"Back up needed in the North building! We have an intruder and a man down!" A man shouted urgently, sounding very similar to the one who'd radioed earlier.

The guards looked at each other briefly, then three sets of eyes simultaneously turned to him and things began to happen very fast. The man closest to him was the first to react and charged forward even as the other two began to reach for their weapons. But before any of them could do anything, one strong hand grabbed the man, twisted him around and Sin effectively used him as a shield as the other two began to fire. The guard went slack against him and he grabbed the man's twin Browning Hi-Powers before quickly unloading them into the two agents by the door. He could hear the distant crackle of the radio in the background but he ignored it; trying to remain undercover really wasn't an option anymore and that's all he needed to know.

Sin let the body drop, ignoring the blood that had sprayed across his face and quickly crossed over to the door to peer inside. Sure enough, what appeared to be a terrified Thierry was cowering in the corner of the barren white room. He turned away and quickly searched the guards for the card key needed to enter just as he heard shouts and the sounds of footsteps running in his direction.

He swiped the key and opened the door, glaring at Thierry impatiently as the sounds grew closer. "Get up."

Thierry looked far different than he had over a year ago in Paris; he was skinnier, incredibly pale and his eyes had a slightly haunted quality about them that only seemed emphasized by how frightened he currently seemed. However that aside, other then a few bruises and what appeared to be a split lip, he was relatively in tact.

"Wha-- Sin?" he stammered, confused. Sin made a face and grabbed Thierry by one surprisingly thin arm, dragging him out of the room but Thierry's bare feet slid in the blood that had pooled out on the floor and his blue eyes widened in horror as he tripped over the bodies that lay sprawled across the corridor. " Putain de merde!"

Before they could get any farther than that, the advancing operatives rounded the corner and began firing at not only Sin, but at Thierry, with no hesitation. Sin slammed his shoulder into the shocked looking French man and sent him flying back into the safety of the room as Sin threw himself backwards on the floor just in time to avoid the flurry of bullets that embedded themselves in the wall behind him. He rolled out of the way of the continuing gunfire, grabbed one of the Brownings he'd lifted from the dead guard and eliminated two of the four before he even came to a stop.

"Kill Beauvais!" One of the remaining men, a tall burly blond, shouted furiously as Sin pinned himself against a recess in the wall created by a doorway. The other agent seemed too thunderstruck by the five dead men at his feet to immediately comply and the hesitation cost him dearly as Sin sent a bullet directly between his eyes.

He aimed at the blond only to find that he was now out of bullets, but instead of wasting his own, Sin ran faster than seemed humanly possible back across the corridor, dodged bullets the man sent his way and then jumped at him with a flying tackle, landing squarely on his chest and sending the gun skittering across the hall. He snapped the operative's neck and got to his feet, eyes immediately zeroing in on Thierry, who seemed more terrified than he had moments ago.

"Get the fuck up now," Sin snapped impatiently as the other man cowered from him in fear.

"Yo-you--" Thierry stammered, his accent seeming heavier and more difficult to understand as he became more hysterical. His hands curled into fists, fingers digging into his palms as he pinned himself against the wall. "You're going to kill me too!" he cried finally.

"If that was the plan it would have already happened. Now get your fucking ass moving, now," Sin snarled but once again didn't wait for Thierry to comply before he stormed into the room and dragged the other man out violently. He took off running down the hall, half dragging, half carrying Thierry as he navigated his way back the way he'd come. As more shouts echoed off the walls ahead of them, Sin sent a brief transmission to Boyd to inform him that he had Thierry and that things were about to get a lot more interesting.

Rick pulled Boyd to an abrupt halt at the intersection of one hallway and another. Dana kept walking, not noticing or not caring that they weren't beside her anymore, and within seconds she had disappeared. Boyd looked at Rick questioningly but he was steadfastly ignored so he decided it was probably better not to ask aloud what was happening. It was likely that they didn't want to show him some sort of code or entrance or even specifically which room they were going to down the hallway, in case Clemons was not there.

He could hear a faint knock in the direction Dana disappeared, followed by a low conversation. He'd been wondering why they had just assumed Hale Clemons would be available at this time of night and, more importantly, that he would be interested in dropping everything to deal with him. He suspected that finding the people on Janus' list was something that would result in rewards not only for those who found them but also for their supervisors, like Clemons.

It was odd; he'd gone along with Rick and Dana because it would potentially give him more information but standing there as he waited for the conversation to end, he felt a sense of uneasiness coming over him. In the context of his own health, this was idiotic. He should have just incapacitated Rick and Dana when they were alone and no one else knew about him and he should have run.

As an agent, however, it was better to gain more information, to get a good look at the person in charge, to go as far as he could until he absolutely had to back out. Standing there in the hallway at that moment with Rick's heavy hand on his shoulder, however, he was very aware of how little he knew of the overall structure of this hidden wing, of how the only way he truly knew how to escape would be nearly impossible and may be easily anticipated, and of the fact that he didn't even know how many enemies or guards there were in the area.

He was here, alone, unarmed and outnumbered, without backup except for Sin, who was across the property with his hands full trying to find Thierry. Added to that, he was waiting to see the man who had managed to take advantage of his niece's accidental death to somehow overcome Sin and subsequently torture him relentlessly.

His anxiety rose even as the thoughts strengthened his anger and hatred toward the man who was responsible, and it was with that feeling that he heard Dana call out to bring him in. Boyd felt his heart pounding harder than he would have expected as Rick silently pushed him down the hall.

At the end of the hallway there was a large wooden door that Dana stood to the side holding open; her eyes were dark and unreadable and she surveyed him silently as he was pushed past her. As he entered the room beyond, he saw that it appeared to be a combination of a library and an office. He glanced around the room as he entered, noting as many details as he could in as casual and quick a movement as possible. An imposing wooden desk dominated the center of the room; it was well cleaned and organized, with little compartments for all the items that were spread across it.

Although he didn't have the chance to study the desk except to note there were no obvious large objects for him to use as a weapon, there were a variety of pens and paper clips laying on it. He also noticed the items that Dana had confiscated from him were piled haphazardly on the far side where he would be unable to reach them and that two chairs sat in front of the desk, presumably for visitors.

He didn't see any other obvious exits except back through the door he'd entered; there were no windows, as there hadn't been in the entire hidden wing, and although it was possible there were hidden entrances or passages into this room there was no way he'd be able to find them in the sort of situation that he would almost positively be in if he was trying to escape.

It only took him a second to glance around the room and he ultimately turned his attention to the person he was here for. A Caucasian man in his early to mid forties sat behind the desk, watching them with an expression that was hard to read. He wore a dark suit that was obviously expensive, but that was probably the most distinguishable thing about his person. By looking at him, it was somehow difficult to imagine that he was the sort of person capable of the horrors he'd apparently put Sin through. He was of average build and height with dark curly hair and almond colored eyes. The most striking thing about him was a small scar at the corner of his bottom lip but even that was easy to miss if Boyd hadn't already known from the initial briefing photos that it was there.

More than anything, it was his innocuousness that made Boyd feel uneasier. Obviously this man was capable of great cruelty if he felt the need, Boyd had known that much going into the situation.

Rick and Dana stopped just behind Boyd as Hale continued to examine him clinically. After a moment he dropped his gaze and picked up Boyd's code cracker, turning it over idly as he nodded his head for Boyd to move closer. When he didn't move Rick shoved him forward roughly, causing him to stumble and collide with the edge of the desk, knocking over some of the contents in the process. In the brief moment that his hands were on the wooden surface, he automatically grasped for whatever was closest to use as a weapon. The only thing he was able to discreetly grab was a small paper clip that he quickly hid between his fingers and up into his sleeve. It wasn't the best weapon in the world but if he could unbend it without them noticing, it was at least enough to blind someone if jammed into their eye.

"Bind him," Hale said calmly, his voice slightly accented and almost pleasant.

Boyd couldn't help a spike of alarm at the words; he started to move but Rick was right next to him and he was too quick and strong. Boyd had barely even shifted his weight before Rick wordlessly yanked him back by his upper arm and nearly threw him into one of the wooden chairs. Boyd hit the back of the chair with enough force that the chair rocked backward and a hiss of pain escaped him. Rick was there immediately, slapping a pair of handcuffs on one wrist and the arm of the chair before the front legs had even hit the floor again.

The feel of that cold metal against his wrist caused his mind to go blank with fear and his breath to unconsciously quicken; for a moment he couldn't even think, couldn't even consider the situation he was in. He didn't even realize it when he made a soft noise of distress. All he knew was that he was about to be held down and that he couldn't let them do it; not in a place like this, not with a person like Hale. The terror he'd felt for years of being held down had only strengthened into outright panic after his time with Shane.

He automatically struggled, jerking up nearly to a stand and hurting his own wrist as he yanked on his arm. He was able to get his feet underneath him but before he could steady himself, Dana was at his side and with more strength than expected she used the angle and momentum of her body to shove him; the back of his knees hit the chair, causing them to buckle as he started to topple backward. He threw his free hand out to steady himself and she grabbed his wrist painfully at the same time that Rick grabbed the back of his shirt and jerked him back so hard that the cloth scrunched up, digging into his throat.

Boyd tried to yank away from them even in that awkward position but Rick shoved him toward Dana even as she shifted her weight and used the strength of her stance to add power as she twisted and bodily slammed Boyd's arm down to the chair arm. Rick pressed one rough hand against Boyd's sternum to further hold him in place while he leaned forward and, as quickly and efficiently as Archer had in the van, used another pair of handcuffs to lock Boyd's other hand to the chair.

It all happened quickly, barely a few breaths of time. Dana backed off, breathing just a little heavily but Rick stayed by Boyd's side for a moment, staring down at him intently as he waited to see if he'd have to subdue him further.

Boyd grit his teeth and closed his eyes, his head tilted down and his hands automatically curling into fists. He was breathing heavily, partially from exertion but mostly from fear, and it took effort to even be able to come back to himself. It took him a moment to come to the conclusion that he couldn't afford to show any more weaknesses or give them further ideas of what truly did scare him because then it would only be used against him.

He grabbed onto that thought and the logic of it and tried to concentrate on the mission instead of his fear. He forced his hands to loosen though he couldn't help pulling on his wrists experimentally to see how strong the wood of the chair was, to see whether there was even a hope of him somehow managing to break away. The only thing that happened was the handcuffs cinched tighter with a clicking sound as his wrists ached.

Part of him felt the pain against his wrists like a reawakening of his fear that only grew; he couldn't move, he couldn't fight back, they had his arms held down and he'd never be able to get away. Not until they were through with him anyway. They were going to hurt him, make him scream, possibly kill him-- But another part reasoned that his legs were still free and could hurt someone, that he was held to a chair but he wasn't being held completely down against the floor or a bed, and most importantly that in the struggle they'd only had time to single-lock the handcuffs and if he was lucky they wouldn't double-lock them. He still had a chance of possibly getting away, as long as he hadn't dropped that paper clip, as long as he could work on it discreetly. As long as they didn't incapacitate him first.

Rick studied him mercilessly but apparently deemed him no longer a threat because he stepped back, waiting for further instructions.

"Do you understand why I had them do that?" Hale asked in the same tone, eyes finally turned on Boyd again as they drank in the pallor of his skin and the slight sheen of sweat that had broken out on his forehead. "I want you to know why everything that is going to happen, happens. I want you to understand how this will be."

At first Boyd didn't answer. Hale's tone was too pleasant, too even; Boyd could tell he was enjoying the situation, enjoying doing this to him, seeing him panic.

So, with more effort than he cared to admit it took, he forced himself to concentrate entirely on acting like Kadin. "You prob'ly didn't want me running away," he said finally and looked up at Hale. "I coulda run any time with Rick and Dana and I didn't, right?"

"No," Hale replied flatly. "That is not the reason." He stood and walked around the desk, leaning against the edge of it as he stared down at Boyd. "The reason for binding you is that when we begin to interrogate you, depending on the method, it will be easier for all parties involved if for the time being you are unable to move. Typically I do not handle such things in my office but I only mean this as a preliminary meeting to find out the basics before I decide that you are being uncooperative and need stronger encouragement."

Boyd stared at him. "That makes it sound like you already decided I'm uncooperative."

Hale shrugged elegantly and walked around his desk again, opening a drawer. He pulled out a file and flipped through it for a moment before extracting the sheaf of papers that he wanted and tossing it across the desk so that it was in Boyd's range of vision. It had an image of Boyd in his Kadin Reed disguise with various personal information and what seemed to be details surrounding the time he'd disappeared. Before closing the drawer, Hale pulled out what appeared to be a long, thin, razor-sharp letter opener and he raised an eyebrow as he looked at Boyd once again.

"That's because I have. From what I heard of your ridiculous story, it doesn't do anything more than insult the intelligence of those in this room and Janus as a whole." He moved closer again, this time extending his arm and gently caressing Boyd's face with the edge of the blade. "The facts on that sheet of paper are few. All we knew was that you attended the conference, were seen speaking to many people there and that when the explosions began, you disappeared and a man fitting your description was seen fleeing the convention center. What we gathered from this was that if it was you, you fled in fear because you did not know what was going on. However when months passed and we and the group you come from claimed not to have heard from you, you immediately came under suspicion. So either you're lying to us or your commander is lying to us. Which one is it?"

Boyd started to tilt his head away from the blade but Rick snapped one arm out and grabbed a chunk of his hair to hold him still. His scalp twinged sharply in pain and he allowed a wince to cross his face in the pretense of being more vulnerable than he actually felt. Although being denied one more type of movement made his heartbeat automatically quicken and it certainly didn't help that Hale had a blade anywhere near him.

He jerked his hands against the handcuffs briefly, as if he'd unconsciously tried to raise his hands and had forgotten he couldn't, although the true reason was that he needed to get the fuck out of this situation fast and without his hands free he was in trouble. He'd thought the paper clip may have been caught on the fabric inside his sleeve so he'd hoped the movement would loosen it; thankfully, when he dropped his arms back down to the chair he was just barely able to feel the paper clip had slid down and caught between his wrist and the handcuff. He started working it into a better position for him to unbend it. He had to be extremely careful not to draw attention to his fingers which meant the process was far slower than he wanted it to be but if they discovered he had the paper clip they would take it away and with it the only chance he currently had for escape.

His mind raced as he tried to decide on an explanation. His story had to be believable enough that he could keep it going as a distraction while he worked on his handcuffs; at the same time, if he tried bullshitting them too much it would be obvious.

"I--" Boyd glanced toward Dana as if he was looking to her for help but she was watching impassively. At least that glance told him that she didn't seem to be in as good a position to see his hand as the other two. He looked back toward Hale and tried to lean away from him toward Rick as he said nervously, as if he'd been caught in a lie and was now afraid of the consequences, "I mean, I-- I may have exaggerated a little. About contacting them. But I won't be uncooperative, man-- uh, sir-- really... You don't have to bring me anywhere else."

"Mmm." The blade dug into Boyd's face deeper and blood began to pool slightly around the edge, dripping down his face. "How exactly did you exaggerate?"

Boyd automatically tried to lean away from the blade but Rick tightened his hold and dropped his other hand down to Boyd's shoulder in a silent warning. Hale's expression didn't change but he pressed the blade more firmly into Boyd's skin and dragged it down slightly to show that he was serious.

Boyd tried to ignore the blood that was starting to drip down his face and the alarmed, constricted feeling from being unable to move. "That-- That I contacted them... at all..." He could feel the paper clip starting to unbend on the first curve but it was at an awkward angle he'd have to straighten out. "I knew they'd be pissed at me for getting scared like that and... and not making things better with Janus. I didn't want them to kick me out so I thought if I got in good with you it'd be okay. I was gonna contact them after this, I swear."

"Okay," Hale said slowly, drawing the word out as he removed the blade from Boyd's face. "Even if that was true, even if you waited until now to make a move because of how aggressive the authorities were until recently, how could you possibly know to find me here and why wouldn't have anyone informed me of your arrival once you showed up at the gates?"

"I dunno man, I really don't," Boyd babbled fervently, flicking his gaze toward the blade and then Dana as if he was afraid that Hale would cut him again or order her to hurt him if he didn't cooperate well enough. Dana was staring intently at his face, seeming as though she was scrutinizing him for any hint that he was lying. Although that was unnerving because he was lying, it was also really good because that meant the only person who could possibly be looking at his hand right then was Rick.

"I mean, it took me a long time to find it..." Since Rick was behind him, Boyd couldn't see where he was looking, so he shifted uneasily which caused Rick to push down harder. Boyd could feel Rick's glare centered on the back of his head as if he was annoyed at the constant movement but it effectively put all their attention away from his hand.

Before he could get any farther with his tale, Rick and Dana's radios crackled to life and an alarmed man's voice shouted: "Back up needed in the North building! We have an intruder and a man down!"

Hale's cool gaze snapped away from Boyd's face and for the first time the man looked visibly put off. His eyebrows drew down and his lips thinned before his glare focused on Boyd once again. His expression was frozen over and the calm indifference had morphed into genuine anger. "Find out what they're talking about," he bit out sharply. "Was it this intruder or is there another?"

Rick, whose face had hardened considerably even as his hand tightened violently on Boyd, raised his radio. "Is the intruder in your sights?" There was no response and Boyd could feel the tension in the room grow considerably the longer it took for the man to reply. After a moment Rick scowled and repeated the question but once again there was no immediate response.

Hale growled impatiently and snatched the radio away from Rick, his eyes leaving Boyd for the moment. "One intruder is already detained; is there a second?"

Before anyone could reply Sin's voice came across in Boyd's ear: "I have Thierry and I'm moving out now."

Rick's radio buzzed with white noise for a moment then flipped back to transmission. Boyd didn't know if the man replied because he had the opportunity or because he recognized his boss' voice but it didn't take long for him to radio back a confused jumble of words. "Men down-- North Build-- intruder--" Each transmission was abruptly cut off and spoken in harried tones before nothing else was said. Hale's face darkened as he focused on the radio, giving Boyd all the distraction he needed to work more effectively on the cuffs.

"Repeat," he barked into the radio. When nothing happened he shot Rick an irritated glare. "Go over there and find out what the hell is going on. Radio me immediately."

Rick nodded curtly and was already out the door, yelling into his radio, "Jones! Did you back up North? What the hell's happening?" The door slammed shut behind him, cutting off much of the noise of his radio although Dana's was still emitting random bursts of static as Rick demanded answers over it that weren't received.

Boyd could feel the teeth of the handcuffs catching on the paper clip but it kept slipping past the catch. This was the first time he'd ever been relieved to find out Sin failed at being stealthy and had raised the alarm, but even the cover noise of the radio wasn't going to do him any good if he couldn't get out. And if he didn't escape soon, Hale looked ready to torture the truth out of him. There was no longer any reason to pretend to be Kadin; at this point he would only be making it worse for 53 by implying they'd either been too incompetent to realize they'd had a traitor in their midst or they'd purposefully sent someone to the JKS meeting that would betray Janus. And if Janus believed Kadin Reed was that traitor, they would hunt him down, possibly even finding the real Kadin in Hawaii. This was the time for damage control.

Dana moved closer to Boyd's side and glared at him but then looked to Hale for orders. He paid her little attention though as he turned back to Boyd, looking irritated by what was going on. He'd been doubtful of Boyd from the start so it was likely that he was more irritated that one or more people had not only managed to infiltrate his property but to also kill his guards.

"I think it's time you stop playing this game," he said flatly. "But if you want to continue with your story, we can find other means of getting the truth out of you and then if you are not alone, I will do the same to your partner. It wouldn't be the first time."

Boyd stared at him a moment then completely dropped any Kadin mannerisms. He had to pause briefly working on the handcuffs because the movement of his hand would be too obvious but as soon as they were paying more attention to his words or other actions he would start again. His eyes narrowed and he said coolly, "I'm perfectly aware of what you're capable of. You already killed my partner."

Dana's eyes widened slightly at the admission and at the abrupt change in attitude but Hale almost looked pleased that the charade was finally over. "He killed my niece; I felt it was an even exchange."

"Killed her?" Boyd echoed. "He saved her."

"I suppose in a metaphorical way you could say he saved her from the evils of this world by putting a bullet in her head but I'm afraid that doesn't fly with me."

The words came out cold, unemotional, but there was no denying the anger that briefly flared in Hale's eyes as he recalled the incident. Boyd's eyes briefly widened at the knowledge that Sin had killed Jessica but he didn't have the chance to think about it at that moment.

"So what's your story now, Reed? Or should we just skip this entirely--" He nodded at Dana, who grabbed Boyd's hair and yanked his head back violently. "And get right to it?"

The blade, which had almost been forgotten during the radio exchange, swung out in an arc and cut into the white flesh at Boyd's throat. It was a painful wound, one that bled out immediately and heavily, but it was superficial and just centimeters away from his jugular, something that he doubted was an accident. Hale would kill him when he was done with him, just like he had with Sin.

Doubt and fear made his heart beat faster and he once again found himself trying to lean away from Hale. While they were focused on his face, he started discreetly working on the handcuff again, feeling his fingers begin to shake each time the damn clip slipped past the catch. He was used to working with safety pins, with a thinner tip, and part of him was really starting to fear that paper clips with their blunt end wouldn't work, that his only chance for escape was going to fail him. Without even one hand free he also wouldn't be able to radio to Sin for help; the transmitter was tiny and tucked in his ear beneath his hair and the button was too small for him to be able to touch if he tried using his shoulder. His face and throat hurt from where Rick and Hale had already gotten to him and his blood felt warm and distracting against his skin.

A spike of true fear moved through him at the knowledge that he may die here. This was different than before; other rebels he had dealt with hadn't been as astute. And even when he'd been in danger on missions, it had usually been a case where they would have just killed him; a bullet to the head and it would have been over.

"I'm not Kadin Reed," he said, keeping his eyes firmly on the blade. He could feel the paper clip slide more firmly against the catch and for a second his heart leaped as he would be successful but then it slid past again. "I killed him before he ever made it to the convention center." He could feel Dana's grip tighten convulsively in his hair at the admission but he didn't look away from Hale to see her expression.

"So the truth comes out," Hale drawled softly and the way his face turned from anger to understanding, as if realization had just dawned on him, left very little doubt that for some reason this explanation made something click in his mind. "No wonder Reed's commander claimed that all contact had ceased directly before he was set to arrive."

The fact that the explanation was a lie didn't matter; it was probably something that had already occurred to Hale or maybe even the Janus inner circle, as to who could have possibly been behind the attack. The possibility that one of the many representatives had been murdered and replaced with an enemy wasn't exactly an outlandish idea after all and Boyd was relieved that the credibility of the story wasn't questioned further. It meant Reed would have to change his identity and stay in hiding but at least 53 as a whole would be safe. Kadin's "death" had always been a possibility and a deal regarding that had already been worked out between he and the Agency long ago.

"At first we suspected it may be a traitor within our organization, possibly even from the people who were invited to the orientation but then that man showed up... that strange, stubborn man who was so very obviously a trained killer and someone very resistant to pain, and we couldn't link him to anyone in our ranks, anyone we could have ever dealt with. We wondered what group he was from, who he was with, but he wouldn't say. He was very strong; very stubborn."

Hale tilted his head slightly and narrowed his eyes at Boyd again. "Maybe you'll be easier to break and we'll find out exactly which group that French fuck sold us out to."

Dana jerked his head back further, making the cut on his throat throb with pain, but Boyd only narrowed his eyes. "Don't bet on it," he said firmly.

Hale's grip shifted on the letter opener but before he could do anything else a resounding blast echoed in the distance. It was muffled by the building and the room didn't shake which implied it was probably across the property, but it was followed immediately by the sound of rapid gunfire. Hale and Dana's attention snapped toward the sound and with the distraction Boyd was able to move his fingers at a more obvious angle as he shoved the paper clip toward the catch. He felt it stick and for a moment it almost slipped past again but finally the lock clicked open, the sound drowned by the distant noise.

Several things happened nearly at once. Hale's expression tightened in anger and he looked at Dana even as she let go of Boyd's hair and stepped forward. She yanked the radio to her mouth and demanded, "Rick! Status."

Adrenaline rushed through Boyd as he twisted his wrist to get the cuff to fall open. He reacted instantly; Dana was standing near enough that with his free hand he yanked her injured arm down to slam it on the side of the chair. She was too surprised to catch herself and she dropped the radio, yelling in pain. Boyd was too quick even with one hand still cuffed to the chair; without giving her a chance to react or Hale to get closer, he shifted his hold and wrenched her arm up behind her back, forcing her down and around as he jumped up and twisted out of the way. He violently slammed her head against the seat of the chair with all his strength; a crack echoed alarmingly in the room and blood smeared across the wood. She started to go limp, her free arm going toward the floor to catch herself rather than toward him for defense, but he wasn't taking chances. He yanked her gun out of her belt and slammed his foot on the small of her back, shoving her down so abruptly that her head snapped forward and hit the floor as well. Dana lay unmoving at his feet although it was unlikely that she was actually dead.

The gun was already whipped around and trained on the space between Hale's eyes before the other man had the chance to move more than a step. Boyd stood awkwardly because of his remaining cuffed wrist but it didn't make him appear any less deadly. His expression was cold and dangerous as he ordered, "Give me the key."

Hale's eyebrow twitched and although he seemed displeased with the change in their positions, his demeanor didn't change drastically. He watched Boyd calmly, as if he were trying to decide how serious he was, and seemed to come to a conclusion after a tense moment. Muffled gunfire could still be heard somewhere outside of the building and Hale's mouth drew down in a frown as he finally extracted a set of keys from his pocket and dangled them in front of Boyd's face.

Boyd stared at him a moment then suddenly jerked the gun down and shot Hale in the knee. Hale cried out in pain and surprise, dropping to the floor; the keys clattered to the floor but remained just out of Boyd's reach. He looked down at Hale impassively as he curled around his knee; the wound made it impossible for him to use that leg in an attempt to escape.

Dragging the chair with him to get closer, Boyd calmly set the gun down on the chair and grabbed the keys. His attention remained on Hale as he unlocked the handcuffs; when his hand was finally free he picked up the gun and aimed it at Hale again. "Who is your superior?" Boyd asked him coolly. "Where is Janus' headquarters located?"

Hale looked up at him and somehow managed to look incredulous through the pained expression on his face. "Be serious."

Boyd considered him. He had never seriously expected Hale to answer; he'd asked partially because if he didn't it would look bad in the report and partially so that when Hale refused to comply he had one more reason to shoot him again. His eyes narrowed instead. "If my partner hadn't killed your niece, would you still have tortured him to the same extent?"

Hale's expression didn't change and he seemed unmoved by the question. "Does it matter?"

"I'm asking the questions," Boyd said, his expression unreadable.

Hale thought about it for a moment; Boyd didn't know whether he was considering what the answer was or if he was just deciding whether to be truthful or not. Finally, he said point blank, "No."

Boyd's teeth gritted and for a moment and hesitated. There was a part of him that wanted to draw this out, to torture him, to make him suffer. But he couldn't.

"Fuck," he whispered and without giving himself a chance to think further he shot Hale between the eyes.

Hale's head snapped back as gore and blood sprayed out behind him and his body crumpled lifelessly to the floor. Boyd stared down at his corpse for a moment, then looked over at Dana. She was crumpled awkwardly on the floor but he could see she was still breathing. Even so, with a head wound like he'd given her it would only be a matter of time before she bled out if she didn't get help.

He moved to her side quickly and flipped her onto her back so she wouldn't suffocate in a pool of her own blood. He quickly patted her down and discovered a length of cloth in one of her many pockets. It didn't take him long to get that around her head to try to slow the bleeding; he then grabbed her gun and the items they'd confiscated from him.

He left her radio for her in case she woke up and needed to call for help.

He was out the door and down the hall in seconds; even as he sprinted, he considered what he knew of the layout of the rest of the building and what he'd seen so far of the hidden wing and made the most educated guesses he could as to where a more easily accessible exit would be. His first guess was a dead end but he luckily did not have to backtrack long before he guessed correctly. He hadn't run into anyone in the hidden wing, which led him to believe that the majority of the guards had run to the fight in the north building and if they'd heard Hale state one intruder was already detained they'd probably figured that Hale wouldn't need their help or the building was already clear.

When he finally made it outside, he was briefly shocked by the amount of water that was rushing across the ground in rivulets. It was raining so heavily that the downpour had reduced visibility enough that he couldn't see across the entire compound. The sky was pitch black and between the darkness of the night and the intensity of the rain, the lights dotted across the complex seemed dim and distant. He'd known it was raining but he hadn't realized it was this heavy.

He took a few seconds to survey the surrounding area as best he could for enemies but he didn't see anyone. The gunfire sounded louder out here, resounding cracks that blended with occasional thunder; it echoed around him, making it difficult to tell exactly where it was coming from. He ran along the perimeter of the building and veered off at one point for his first destination. He stopped quickly to grab the med kit he'd hidden deep inside some bushes when he'd first arrived; he hadn't carried it with him into Hale's house because it would have been too bulky to hide in a pocket, yet he'd brought it from the Agency because he'd assumed they would probably need it. With the med kit firmly in hand, he ran toward the nearest garage to search for a vehicle.

He nearly ran into two guards along the way but he fell back into shadows each time, letting the men run past as they headed toward the northern building.

The first garage he found was empty of vehicles and people but when he slipped into the second through a half-open back door he discovered several vehicles and a small office to the side with Darren staring anxiously and a bit angrily at his radio. Darren seemed to be waiting for further instructions or information and Boyd knew that he wanted to be over there helping the others, in the thick of probably the only excitement he'd ever experienced here. But knowing also how Dana and Rick had reacted to his name, Boyd suspected he was the sort of ally the others preferred to be out of the way when something serious was happening.

He'd probably been detailed to the garage in case any intruders came looking for an escape vehicle. But Darren didn't want to be there any more than he'd wanted to be wandering the empty halls of the building, and for that reason he once more failed to catch Boyd when he otherwise would have had the chance. With Darren so distracted and so much intermittent noise from outside, it was quite easy for Boyd to silently slip behind him and pistol whip him. Darren didn't even have the chance to turn around before he fell to the ground.

Boyd looked quickly around the office and noticed a box on the wall with keys to various cars. It made sense in a way; with so many employees coming in and going out of the property, the vehicles were likely communal instead of designated to specific people. Boyd grabbed all the sets with keyless entry and moved out of the office and further into the garage where he could see the vehicles. He quickly used the lock/unlock buttons to determine which key belonged to which car but it took slightly longer than expected because of the noise outside. The alarm button would have been faster but it also would have made a lot more noise and would have drawn attention to the garage.

The best vehicle for their purpose seemed to be a sturdy SUV in the far corner of the garage. Boyd quickly ran to the vehicle and got inside, taking a moment to get acquainted with the set up. There was something about the SUV that didn't seem entirely normal though; the outside sound was muffled more than usual and the door had been heavier than he'd expected as he shut it, which gave the impression that it was reinforced. But the vehicle started normally, the gas tank was thankfully full, he was able to find the windshield wipers, and that was really all that mattered.

He kept the extra keys with him and threw them to the floor of the passenger side; hopefully it would drastically slow down any pursuit from vehicles in the garage at least. He found a garage door opener tucked up beneath the visor and pressed the button immediately. It took a bit of maneuvering to get the SUV out from the back of the garage and around the other vehicles, but the garage was large and set up specifically for multiple rows of vehicles so it wasn't too difficult to do. He sped out of the garage into the rain, already turning the wipers on full speed.

"I have a vehicle," Boyd transmitted to Sin. "Where are you?"

It took a moment for the reply to come but when it did, Sin sounded entirely too calm considering the ruckus he was making. "Northwest corner, behind the pool house."

Boyd spun the SUV around and sped straight across the middle of the complex, not bothering to go along the perimeter. Most of the people were already distracted and it was more important he get to Sin and Thierry immediately rather than trying to be stealthy at this point. A few guards saw him speeding past but in the chaos of the moment and the low visibility, they didn't seem to know at first whether he was an enemy or an ally, especially since he was in one of their vehicles and no alert had come out from the garages. They largely ignored him and he was able to disappear into the rain, nearly fishtailing the SUV as he took an abrupt turn around the building next to the pool house.

It was raining so hard that the yard was a mess of slippery mud and deep puddles and the few paved paths arcing across the complex had a layer of water over them that would make it easy to hydroplane. Although the headlights barely gave him any visibility, it still cast light across the landscaping and open area behind the pool house. He couldn't see Sin or Thierry but he still slammed on the brakes and unlocked the doors.

Less than a minute passed before Sin's tall lanky figure appeared out of the shadows, sprinting towards the SUV and dragging a thoroughly soaked and barefoot Thierry behind him. They were both blood splattered and dirty but Thierry seemed to be in a state of confused shock. As soon as they were out in the open, a barrage of gunfire sliced through the sheets of rain, missing them by centimeters as they crossed the stretch of grass between the pool house and the car. Thierry seemed to be simultaneously clinging to Sin and trying not to get too close to him if that were possible but when they finally jumped in the back seat, his eyes widened in relief at the sight of Boyd. Boyd didn't know if he was genuinely happy to see him or if he was just glad that he would no longer have to be alone with Sin; judging from the rough way Sin was handling the man, it didn't seem as though they were very pleased with each other.

There was a slight pause in gunfire before it all redirected to the SUV as Boyd peeled out of the fenced pool area, ripping up the finely manicured grass in the process. Mud and water flew up everywhere, splattering against the windows and doors as he drove full speed towards the Southern end of the property. There was loud yelling outside as the operatives most likely attempted to organize themselves and as Boyd drove past the garage, he saw several men making their way inside of it. They would be in for a surprise when they found no keys to start any of the cars and thankfully that would buy them at least a few minutes to get out of the property and onto the open road.

Boyd glanced over his shoulder at the pair in the back seat and saw that Thierry was shrinking away from Sin, practically pressing himself against the door. He looked thinner and paler than when they'd last been in each other's presence and his deep blue eyes were watching both of them warily as thought he expected nothing but the worst from anyone at this point. He was wearing nothing more than thin slacks and a white t-shirt, which was now darkened with mud and blood although it didn't appear to be his.

Thierry kept sneaking glances over at Sin but Sin paid him no heed. Instead he was concentrating on looking out the window and quickly reloading his weapons, one of which was a fully automatic MP5 which he'd acquired on the way up and out of the hidden area. He'd already used his two smoke grenades in the house, likely the only reason they'd escaped relatively in tact, and although he had one regular grenade left he was still pretty low on ammo.

Despite this, Sin looked calm in the midst of the storm they were in and his intense green eyes flit across the scenery quickly as if he were expecting them to be attacked at any moment, which was likely the case. Like Thierry, he was also splattered with blood but Boyd didn't automatically assume that he was not injured; he knew better than to expect Sin to actually show pain in a situation like this so anything was possible.

"Status?" Boyd asked, swerving to avoid a tall group of landscaped bushes in the middle of the yard.

"Flesh wound," Sin said vaguely, sliding his window down as they barreled towards the electronic gate that led out to the road. The guard manning the gate dove out of the way and Sin leaned out the window to shoot the control box, causing the gates to slide open at what seemed to be a ridiculously slow speed. Just as they were off the driveway and out of the gates, gunfire erupted behind them once again and Boyd looked in the mirror to see another SUV and two cars pursuing them at full speed.

"Go!" Sin yelled, leaning out the window to shoot behind them.

Without hesitation, Boyd slammed his foot on the gas pedal and the SUV sped across the terrain. A windy, paved road led to Hale's land and in the downpour Boyd didn't have much warning when a curve was coming up. He nearly missed a turn and spun the wheel quickly, causing the back of the SUV to swing to the side alarmingly as the tires briefly lost their traction due to the water but they caught again before they could hydroplane. He didn't dare take his eyes off the road to check on the two in back but Sin's gun never stopped firing, although he heard a distressed sound and a thump, as if Thierry had been thrown to the side.

Houses flashed past on either side of the road; the neighbors who had complained about Hale's place in the past would have even more reason now after the gunfire and car chase speeding in front of them so early in the morning. Sin's guns were an ear-cracking constant noise resounding in the SUV and Boyd could feel the vehicle jerking slightly every time an enemy's bullet hit it. On the other hand, the vehicle seemed to be holding up to the damage better than he would have expected which led him to believe that it really was reinforced.

They sped out of the small grouping of houses and broke free into open road; trees crowded the sides of the road in this area but Boyd knew eventually they were going to be in a sandier area where the pursuit would have the chance to move to the sides or cut them off if they weren't fast enough. Another sudden curve loomed in front of them and Boyd was just able to catch it and the following one. The edge of the SUV just cleared a tree; a few centimeters further and he would have knocked off the right side mirror.

Half of Sin's body was practically hanging out the window and as Thierry watched in horror and disbelief, Sin actually began to clamber out the window, gloved hands moving dexturously over the slick exterior as he pulled himself out of the window entirely. The vehicle was easily pushing 140 mph and Sin dangled dangerously, his body slamming into the side of the door as he gripped the storage rack on the roof with one hand and continued to shoot with the other.

Thierry's mouth dropped open and his head jerked over to stare at Boyd in alarm. "Comment peux tu supporter d'être près de quelqu'un comme ça? Il est cinglé!"

Boyd was concentrating so completely on driving that he could only absently translate the question as Thierry demanding to know how he could be partners with someone as crazy as Sin. But he didn't have an answer for Thierry that he could bother to formulate at that time so he didn't respond at all. His eyes flicked to the rear view mirror and back to the windshield so quickly it was almost as if he hadn't looked away from the road. Despite the fact he was going as fast as he could, one of the smaller cars was slowly gaining on them. The trees were still thick around them but in a few more minutes they would thin and the enemy would have the chance to overcome them.

As if reading Boyd's mind, Sin pulled himself onto the roof of the SUV entirely, booted feet slipping as he squinted through the rain at the car that was closer to them. He'd already figured out that like the SUV they had, the one pursuing them was also armored with bullet proof glass, but judging from the dead passenger in the two-door Nissan, that wasn't the case for the smaller passenger cars.

Bullets continued to ricochet around him, some just missing him while others grazed his body, but he ignored the pain and the force of the rain slamming into him and lifted his Ruger, trying to keep aim as the car bounced onto the open and less evenly paved road outside the town. He gripped the rack and forced himself to sit up partially as the howling wind tried to force him back down but just as the Nissan inched closer to their bumper, Sin sent two bullets through the windshield and into the driver's head.

The car swerved dangerously as the man slumped forward and actually slammed into the back of their SUV before spinning out of control and colliding with the other passenger car that had rode up on its tail. The sound of tires squealing and rubber skidding across the ground resounded through the night and both cars ended up swerving off the road in a heap, tires stuck in the thick muddy sand on the sides of the road. Sin narrowed his eyes at the SUV that continued to follow relentlessly, shoving the Ruger back in his belt as he made an attempt at leaning over to grab the MP5 from where it hung on the rack but just as he reached for it, Boyd took a sudden turn and he went flying over the right side of the roof.

He caught the rack once again to keep from entirely falling off the car and into the sand, but the speed Boyd was driving at and the momentum from the fall sent him crashing through the window, not shattering the glass as it would in a normal vehicle, but instead causing it to cave inward. His boots and legs slammed into Thierry violently, sending the French man flying against the opposite side of the car as he screamed at Boyd to, "Ralentis!" and to no one in particular, "On va tous mourir!"

Boyd tried to steady the SUV for Sin but out in the open without trees and houses to slow it, the rain had created little rivers that ran powerfully across the road. Water sprayed around them as they crashed through the water and even with the windshield wipers on high and the headlights on bright, Boyd felt like he could barely see anything. Several times he felt the steering wheel shudder as the water started to catch the tires, causing the SUV to start to shift or slide on its own with no regard to where the road was. The resounding cracks of gunfire, Sin scrabbling against the roof, and the most recent, alarming crash against the window made it incredibly difficult to hear the telltale signs of water splashing in the wheel wells as a precursor to hydroplaning.

He was trying to keep the SUV steady, continue to drive as fast as possible, retain whatever little amount of traction they had left, and watch for any sudden obstacles that seemed to loom in front of him with no warning. With so much going on, he couldn't handle Thierry screaming hysterically in the background about the speed and danger.

"Thierry!" he yelled to shut him up. "Ferme ta gueule!"

Sin ignored the shouting and climbed back out the window, pulling himself onto the roof once again and barely missing a bullet that would have sent his brains splattering across the black fiberglass. He grabbed the MP5 and began firing at the tires of their remaining pursuer, managing to blow out one of their tires and causing the driver to momentarily lose control as the rubber went flying everywhere. The high water sprayed out around the SUV as the driver tried to regain control on the slippery road and one of the back passengers, who'd been leaning out the window to aim at Sin with difficulty through the pouring rain, tumbled out and onto the road.

Sin continued to spray the car with automatic fire with the submachine gun but unfortunately it wasn't a high enough caliber to penetrate the glass and he growled in annoyance, wondering why the fuck 9mm bullets even existed in the world anymore. He was almost out of ammo anyway and just as he tossed the MP5 off the side of the roof, a bullet tore through his thigh and he grit his teeth as pain radiated through his body.

At this rate the standoff between their two vehicles would go on forever, or until he fell off the damn car, so he decided to switch tactics and forget about guns altogether. Explosives were a lot more effective anyway.

He pulled out his remaining grenade and yanked the pin out with his teeth, narrowing his eyes at the other vehicle and hoping he didn't miscalculate and blow himself up in the process. After a few seconds he flung himself over the side of the roof, once again dangling against the door and dropped the grenade on the pavement that rushed beneath him. Without a moment's hesitation, he dove back through the window just as the other SUV drove over the grenade. It exploded at the exact time he'd wanted it to, blowing up directly under the other car.

The shock have slammed into the back of the SUV as Boyd tried to control it, half a second before the other car's fuel tank exploded. The vehicle was instantly engulfed in a ball of flames that was so intense that even the rain didn't touch it at first. Between the momentum and the explosion lifting it off the ground, the destroyed car continued to skid along the road briefly even as parts scattered behind it. Debris flew through the air, bits of glass and pieces of the car smashing into the back of their SUV in what sounded for a moment like a brief hail storm. Something especially large crashed into the back window but the bulletproof glass kept it from breaking through; the window just caved inward.

Boyd lost control of the SUV for a moment; the deluge against the back of the vehicle had caused him to head straight into a larger standing puddle than he'd wanted and he felt it stop responding as all four tires lost traction on the road. The entire car started to slide to the right, the wind and rain buffeting them as he lost control and the strength of the water flowing across the ground started to push them off the road. Boyd immediately eased off the accelerator and just rested his hands on the steering wheel, allowing the SUV to coast across the road as he looked around quickly for any obstacles that may be coming up, anything he would be forced to try to avoid.

He didn't want to slam on the brakes or try to wrench the steering wheel to the side because that would probably just make the car lock up or force it to skid in a manner he couldn't recover from. The terrain was wide and open around them, with little bushes and plants dotted randomly in the ground. One bush was approaching quickly on the right and he was just about to lightly pump the brakes when he felt one of the tires catch. The SUV jerked violently to the left, throwing them to the side and Thierry against the back door, but once one tire resumed friction within seconds the others had too.

He slowly accelerated and was able to move the SUV back to the road, checking a few times in his rear view mirror for any sign of pursuit. He couldn't see anyone behind them so he returned his attention to driving, and only then realized how hard his heart was pounding and how the adrenaline was rushing through his system so quickly that his hands were almost shaking.

Boyd took a moment to let out a brief breath then glanced in the rear view mirror at Sin quickly. "Are you okay?" he asked, his voice sounding calmer than he felt.

Sin, who'd yanked off a strip of cloth from his shirt to use as a tourniquet, wrapped it around his bleeding thigh tightly and nodded shortly. "Nothing serious. Sorry about the fireworks, by the way. But once I got down into the holding area, there really wasn't any real way to avoid people anymore and they seemed pretty determined to kill him before they let me escape with him."

Sin's gaze flicked over to Thierry and Sin's mouth twisted slightly in an irritated scowl. Even knowing that, Thierry had still reacted as though Sin were mowing down innocent people every time he'd shot someone. It had made their escape even more difficult and him even more disgusted with the other man. Despite the fact that Thierry kept company and did business with some of the most dangerous players in the world, it seemed he was anything but used to seeing people die right in front of him.

Thierry refused to look at him and instead stared gloomily out the window as he rubbed his arms with his hands and shuddered violently. His curly brown hair was plastered against the sides of his gaunt face and after a moment he chanced a look over at Boyd. His expression was strange and it was hard to tell exactly what he was thinking or feeling at the moment but after awhile he just shivered again, from the cold or the memories of what he'd just seen Boyd didn't know, but finally he said softly, "C'est un monstre."

Sin's eyes narrowed, picking up on the sentiment even if he didn't know exactly what it meant, but he didn't say anything. He just shook his head and began going about the process of once again reloading his guns. As nonchalant as he wanted to appear, there was no hiding the stiffness in his posture and the tension in his jaw as he glared down at his Ruger, making sure it wasn't clogged by the water.

Boyd noticed the tension and returned his attention to the road. "Thierry," he said evenly, "I realize this must be an alarming time for you but don't forget that he just saved your life, risking his in the process. If you're going to insult him, at least do it in English so he knows what you're saying. I'm not going to translate everything and I won't respond to you in French. Sin," he flicked his gaze toward him in the rear view mirror, "the fact that you were spotted and the explosions that resulted actually helped me. So... Thank you."

Sin gave a one shouldered shrug and didn't reply verbally, although he did glance up to meet Boyd's eyes in the mirror. After a moment his mouth twitched up into a half smile but it quickly disappeared and he once again focused on his weapons. Thierry didn't say anything else and he returned his gaze to the window and the scenery that was rushing passed as Boyd drove to the designated pick up spot.

The silence that permeated the vehicle made the ride seem to go by slowly despite the fact that Boyd was going as fast as he dared in the weather conditions. Without the high-speed car chase, he didn't have to take any more risks could cause him to lose control of the vehicle. However it didn't stop Boyd from remaining tense as he wondered if Janus would send out additional pursuit vehicles. He continued to look behind them for a long time but no one came after them.

It was entirely possible that he'd completely lost them in the winding route he took through the terrain but it was also likely that they'd discovered Hale's body and were waiting for a higher authority to tell them what to do. He actually hoped the latter was the case; as long as someone checked on Hale, Dana would be found as well. He was counting on that for multiple reasons, the main of which was for her to spread the story that Kadin Reed had never existed as they knew him.

Nothing eventful happened for the rest of the ride and Thierry remained resolutely silent, his face grave as he seemed to resign himself to a fate within the Agency that would most likely be no better than it was with Janus. He shrunk in on himself as time went on and he seemed a shell of the confidant man that he'd been in Paris all of those months ago. He remained that way for the majority of the ride but suddenly he looked up at Boyd and cleared his throat slightly.

"I didn't betray you." His voice was weak, strained, but he said it firmly as though he wouldn't tolerate hearing anything opposite.

Boyd looked at him through the rear view mirror, his expression unreadable. Thierry met his eyes evenly and Boyd knew by those words that he meant he hadn't betrayed the Agency, but also that he hadn't betrayed him. By his body language, Boyd was almost positive that Thierry wasn't lying. He could independently verify that Thierry at the very least hadn't told Hale who he'd sold the information to. Although Hale could have been lying, Boyd really didn't believe it to be the case. When all of that was taken into consideration, it wasn't difficult to venture that Thierry truly hadn't known the information had been bad; that he'd honestly been trying to help the Agency.

Boyd returned his attention to the road but he tilted his head forward in acknowledgment.

"Okay," he said not unkindly.

Thierry nodded, looking out the window again and seeming satisfied that at least Boyd knew the truth even if no one else ever believed him. Not much else was said and Sin acted as though he hadn't heard the exchange, possibly because he didn't have anything to contribute but most likely because he really didn't care either way.

The weather slowly improved, moving from downpour to something resembling only slightly heavy rain and the wind also seemed to lighten. As they drew closer to the meeting point, Boyd was relieved to see the sleek black helicopter already waiting for them. He had barely parked the SUV when Sin and Thierry had already jumped out of the back; although neither said anything, it was clear they wanted to get out of such close quarters, even if it was short lived. Boyd grabbed the med kit and the three of them ran through the rain to the helicopter. Over the background sound of the storm and the slow whoosh of the rotary blades, Boyd could hear a man yelling something. When he drew close enough he was able to see the pilot leaning out the front and realized it was the same man who had flown Sin away before.

"Seriously," the man was yelling; Boyd faintly thought his name may have been Jim. "What is this, my new detail? Go fly to bumfuck Mexico and wait around for the hotshots to come running in last minute? Would you people fucking hurry? I got shit to do back home!" He hit the side of the helicopter a few times impatiently.

The three of them piled into the back and Jim seemed mollified despite the fact that no one had really paid any attention to him. He waited just long enough for everyone to get secured before he slammed his door shut and they took off. They lurched upward alarmingly quickly and it wasn't until that moment that Boyd realized he'd never actually been on a helicopter before; only planes, which were far different despite the fact both machines could fly.

The back of the helicopter held little more room than the SUV had so the tension resumed almost immediately. They each stayed quiet for their own reasons and once again time seemed to pass far too slowly. A few minutes into the ride, loud rock music suddenly blasted out of the cockpit ahead of them, the bass vibrating parts of the floor and walls as Jim practically screamed lyrics off key.

Boyd glanced in the direction of the sound and thought he vaguely remembered Blair and Jim talking about something related to music last time. He hadn't been paying much attention to the conversation though; he'd been far more worried about Sin and hadn't cared too much about what was happening around him as long as Sin was safe.

The thought caused him to glance toward Sin, who was looking at the wall with an expression that implied he wondered what other annoying things could possibly happen on this trip. Thierry was studiously looking at the opposite wall, seemingly ignoring the music and their presence, although he couldn't seem to stop intermittently rubbing his arms or shivering. Although they both were bloodied, they did at least seem to be okay. Boyd noticed blood spreading through the cloth Sin had tied around his thigh so he pulled the med kit over from where he'd stashed it nearby.

The noise of the box dragging across the floor caught Thierry's attention and he watched Boyd wordlessly without much of an expression on his face. Not bothering to say anything, Boyd pulled some bandages out and calmly reached over to untie the cloth and replace it with fresh bandages. Sin didn't protest and just watched him quietly, not seeming to mind the attention or the treatment that he was getting from his partner. After a moment his mouth quirked up in a slight smirk and he tilted his head to the side.

"Told you we'd do well together."

Boyd couldn't help a slight smile at that. "Occasionally you're right," he said mildly.

Sin smirked again but then he glanced at Thierry and returned to staring silently at the wall.

Boyd didn't bother to say anything further and his expression returned to default neutrality. He packed the med kit up again and put it away, knowing that Thierry was staring at him oddly but not commenting on it, before he leaned back and idly stared at the wall, wondering at Jim's taste in music.

The rest of the flight lasted in silence and without anything of import happening. By the time they started their descent toward the landing pad at the Agency's private airport, it felt like a day had passed when really it had been barely a couple of hours. Jim landed the helicopter perfectly, so gently that for a moment Boyd didn't even realize they had stopped moving. But then the music abruptly flipped off in the middle of a song and Jim could be heard yelling, "Rise and shine, sleeping beauties! Time to leave!"

Thierry was the first one off the helicopter but Sin was immediately behind him, probably partially to get out of the confines of the helicopter but also to keep the French man from potentially attempting an escape. Boyd was a little slower to crawl out and he found himself looking around the area with a strange sense of weariness, wariness, and relief. They had so far managed to successfully complete the mission, but until they made it back to the Agency with Thierry they still couldn't say it was finished.

It was odd; for a while he'd honestly thought he wouldn't live through that mission, that he'd never get free of Hale's office, but now that he was home he was reminded of Sin's ominous predictions that they wouldn't know what to expect from Connors. They may have successfully completed this but that didn't mean the future was certain. Anything could happen now; they could be disposed of entirely now that the Monterrey mess was effectively cleaned up.

And what was going to happen to Thierry? Boyd looked over at Thierry to find him peering around the airport, his skin pale, eyes dark and wary, his posture defensive. Boyd stared at him a moment but before he could do or say anything, a truck pulled up in front of them and a driver stared out at them blankly. Sin opened the passenger's door and hopped in without hesitation while Boyd and Thierry got in the back.

Once again, silence surrounded them but at least this time the ride was far shorter. As they navigated into the city, the skyscrapers that had lasted through the war loomed ominously around them. In the early morning hours, the city was dark and quiet with very little movement or sound except for the occasional police patrol that was monitoring certain curfew zones; even they knew better than to interfere with any vehicle bearing the Johnson's Pharmaceutical logo.

The ride continued quickly with the driver focusing entirely on the road and not paying them the least bit of attention until the main Johnson's skyscraper loomed in the distance. Up until then Sin had stared out the window blankly, sketching out all of the possible unpleasant scenarios that would possibly occur with Connors, but when he saw the main building his eyes narrowed and his hand slapped down on the driver's arm.

The driver looked over at him in a mixture of annoyance and alarm but Boyd leaned closer and followed Sin's narrow eyed gaze. At first he didn't see what had alarmed Sin so much and he opened his mouth to question it, but before the words could leave his mouth, he noticed that the lights of the tower flickered briefly. His eyebrows drew together and he looked at Sin questioningly.

"Power surge?" The driver ventured curiously, also shooting Sin a look.

Sin continued to stare up at the tower for a long moment before he shook his head finally. "Not likely."

A measure of alarm crept into the man's face and he slowed the car to a full stop on the side of the road as he turned to Sin entirely. Whatever anyone said about the man, in this situation he was still technically the highest ranked agent in the car. "Then what?"

"I don't know but we're not going in through the front." Sin shook his head again, face visibly troubled, before he glanced over his shoulder to look at Boyd briefly. "Switch places," He said after a moment. "Boyd's driving. We're taking another route."

The driver barely hesitated before swinging his door open and running around the side to jump in the back. He shot a glance at Thierry and clipped on his seat belt, absently checking for his weapons as he peered out the window with a baffled look on his face.

No one really seemed to know what was going on except Sin and as Boyd slid into the driver's seat, he looked at his partner again as confusion and anxiety built up inside of him. But he didn't ask any questions, not when Sin seemed hesitant to form any real conclusions, and as he followed Sin's directions towards Silver Lake Park he wondered what could be happening now.

Continue to Chapter 45