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Based on an original series and alternate future by Sonny & Ais called In the Company of Shadows.

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Slash (M/M), het (M/F) and graphic language, violence and sexual situations. Not intended for anyone under 18!


Book One: Evenfall See Evenfall chapter list.

Book Two: Afterimage
See Afterimage chapter list.

Interludes list

Book Three: Fade
See Fade chapter list.


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Interlude 3.26

Uploaded on 03/17/2010

It was snowing outside, which usually annoyed Sin but at the moment the white flakes drifting down from the sky actually seemed kind of nice.

He looked out the window and wondered what other people were doing right now. Normal people. People who were celebrating today because it was Thanksgiving, not because unlike he and Boyd, it was the first time they were seeing each other in a week due to a particularly obnoxious seek and assassinate mission of Sin's.

He'd missed Boyd's birthday and that fact had irritated him more than he'd thought it would. But he'd wanted to actually make an attempt to make the day nice for his partner. He'd even bought a normal present this time. Instead of a bloody necklace from a long deceased friend, he'd gotten Boyd a SIG Sauer P229R DAK.

It was just the kind of handgun that suited Boyd as his first personal weapon. There was minimal recoil, breakdown was extremely easy as was cleaning the weapon, and it had a smooth trigger pull. The DAK trigger had two reset points that made it easier to double-tap and pull the trigger again on the same round in case of a failure to fire. It had two barrels that could easily be swapped out, with different calibers. It was also one of the most accurate guns that Sin had ever used which would be especially of use for Boyd who was still perfecting his aim.

The SIG P229 was black with a Nitron finish that helped protect against bluing. Sin figured given Boyd's penchant for everything black, it was an appropriate choice.

Sin looked down at Boyd, who appeared to be dozing. He was sprawled elegantly across Sin's chest, the lamp in the corner casting golden light across him. Pale shadows rose and fell with the angles of his body. Sin could see the relief of his toned muscles-- the result of months of hard work-- and the faint blond hair that was nearly invisible along his arms. In this lighting, Boyd's long blond hair looked even more golden than usual, and the lack of any tension in his body made him a warm, comforting weight.

He looked relaxed, sated and gorgeous.

It was a perfect winter night. All they needed was a roaring fire and the cabin in Vermont and things would be picturesque enough to be nearly sickening.

The thought caused the side of Sin's mouth to twitch up slightly and he ran a hand through Boyd's hair. The other man stirred and glanced up at Sin with a mirroring smile that was alert enough to give away the fact that he hadn't actually been sleeping at all. In fact, there seemed to be a shadow across his face that had nothing to do with the dim lighting. It was out of place with the perfection that Sin had been thinking about the night.

He watched Boyd for a moment and tried to figure out what could have gone wrong but couldn't think of anything. Immediately upon returning from his debriefing with Vivienne, Sin had gone to his apartment to retrieve the vaulted box with the gun and had hurried to Dhaba House to pick up some of Boyd's favorite Indian food. He'd actually pushed himself into close proximity to a civilian by taking a taxi to Boyd's house so it wouldn't get cold.

They'd feasted on lamb Vindaloo, jasmine rice and naan bread. After dinner, Boyd had seemed truly pleased by the gift. The smile he'd given Sin had seemed genuine and touched in a way that didn't normally happen. He'd thanked Sin before it turned into a deep, languid kiss. Boyd had taken apart his gun and put it back together five times, talking about going to the shooting range together sometime. They'd shared a bottle of wine and retired to the bedroom.

Nothing had gone wrong. It was almost irritating to think that some unknown anomaly was ruining what Sin had thought was, for once, a smooth and peaceful birthday, even if it was belated. This time there were no mental breakdowns. This time no one was thought dead or banished from the Agency. This time they were actually on speaking terms and everything.

"What?" he demanded accusingly.

Boyd drew his eyebrows down and shifted up so he could see Sin better. A small frown curved his lips but he looked more confused and caught off guard than anything. "What?"

"Something is upsetting you."

A flash of guilt went through Boyd's eyes and he looked away. "Oh." His frown increased and he settled down on top of Sin again, returning to his favorite position with his ear resting over Sin's heartbeat. His fingers absently ran along Sin's side. "Sorry. It's not you. I was trying to figure out when to bring something up without ruining the mood."

A low sigh escaped Sin's lips. "What happened now?"

Boyd smiled to himself mirthlessly. "I was thinking of waiting until tomorrow but I guess there's no point now, is there?"

The question was rhetorical and although there was a slight pause, Sin got the impression Boyd was gathering his thoughts rather than waiting for an answer. After a moment, he pushed himself up again, studying Sin. "I was assigned a mission the other day. A solo."

The sentence was innocuous enough. Sin had just come from a solo and they'd barely batted an eye at the information when he had been alerted. Something about Boyd's comment was off, something about how serious he looked.

There was really no other explanation.

"It's either long term. Or a valentine."

"It's both." Boyd's tone was heavier than usual and his eyes narrowed faintly. "Probably. It's an extended undercover."

Tension seeped into Sin's frame and he sat up entirely, his pale green eyes focusing on his lover. Jealousy and irritation welled up inside of him. Irritation that quickly turned to fury at the organization that controlled their lives so explicitly.

After everything that had happened, after finally becoming a relatively stable pair...  

"What's the mission?" he asked through clenched teeth.

Boyd frowned, taking in Sin's expression. He reached out, briefly running his fingers through the ends of Sin's hair before he sighed and dropped his hand. "There's a business called Cyclone that seems to be a front for," he hesitated, as if trying to find a better word, then gave up. "Human trafficking. They take youth off the street and sort through them somehow. A portion of them get sold to Janus as soldiers."

Sin raised an eyebrow. "They want you sold to Janus?"

Boyd shook his head. "No. It's unlikely they'd look at me and think I'd make a good soldier. I got the impression there are other deep cover agents being sent in later for that reason, though."

There was a pause as Sin stared at him blankly. "So then what are you meant to do?"

"Cyclone's founder is Aleixo Forakis, an extremely wealthy man who apparently has a preference for my type. It sounds like the people who aren't sold as soldiers get picked through and maybe get sold elsewhere. Forakis has a number of households and at each place he keeps a," his eyebrows twitched down and he seemed to hesitate once more for the proper word. He shook his head once. "Slave. They want me to catch his attention and get close to him."

"How are you going to get picked up by his people?" Sin asked, brow furrowing. His stomach was sinking as the conversation progressed. It was a struggle to not show how frustrated and disturbed by this he was beginning to feel.

"Intel says a lot of people have disappeared from the Bowery over the last few months." Boyd's expression was mostly neutral as he explained but Sin didn't have to be a mind reader to see in his eyes that he wasn't happy about this assignment. "They want me to start there, pretending to be homeless. I'll probably have to be there at least a few days until I can figure out how or where to get picked up."

"I see."

Sin's mouth turned down and he shifted, lying back on the bed so that he could look up at the ceiling. The description of the mission gave him an odd feeling. The uncertainty of it all. There were a lot of ifs involved. What if it took Boyd weeks to get picked up? What if it took him even longer to catch the man's attention? What if he couldn't catch his attention, what would the Agency do then? Pull him out or leave him in to see where it led?

What if two months turned into three or four? What if Boyd failed? What if something happened to him completely unrelated to the mission? Sin had been to the Bowery. He saw the type of people who ended up there and what they became. Boyd was a good fighter and a good agent but anything could happen.

"And what if it takes longer?" he asked finally.

"I don't know," Boyd had to admit and the shadow of doubt from before became more prominent. He drew his eyebrows down, his hand resting on Sin's chest. He looked worried; uncertain.

"I'm going in alone without any way to communicate. I can only assume that if I stay in the Bowery for a month or two and don't see or hear a hint of Cyclone, the mission will have to be aborted and I'll return home. But the Marshal seemed... very invested in this mission and I got the feeling she's not going to take, 'Sorry, didn't see them' as an answer. In that event, they'd probably reassign me to another place to try again."

"I see." This time when Sin spoke, he didn't try to hide the weight of his words. Something that felt very close to hopelessness began to seep into him and cast away all traces of the happiness that he'd felt only moments ago.

This was the way it would always be. For one reason or another, something would always try to keep them apart.

Boyd's gaze was heavy as he studied Sin's face. He ran his fingers down Sin's cheek and into the long strands of black hair. His expression twisted unhappily and he said quietly, "I wish I could say no. I don't want to be anywhere but here with you."

"I wish we could leave."

"I know." Boyd dropped his gaze and laid down on Sin's chest again. "I do too. I hate this. It seems like any time we manage to move forward, something happens to push us back."

Sin's lips thinned and he closed his eyes briefly. "When are you expected to leave?"

"In two days," Boyd said quietly, his voice slightly muffled as he shifted his face further against Sin's chest. "I was worried you wouldn't get back from your mission before I had to leave."

The words hit Sin harder than he expected. He shifted away from Boyd violently and jumped to his feet, anger abruptly taking over the depression that had started to settle in. "Are you fucking serious, Boyd?"

Boyd sat up, looking startled. He stared at Sin with an expression that shifted toward slightly guarded. "Yes."

Sin turned away and exhaled slowly. He braced his hands against the wall instead of punching his fist through it like he wanted to and let his head tilt forward as hair curtained his face. He took several deep breaths, trying to remember the calming techniques that Ann had taught him so long ago. The anger and frustration didn't leave entirely. He was too wound up with emotion and too ready to direct his fury irrationally onto everything around him.

So he took another deep breath and exhaled slowly before speaking.

"Why did you wait to tell me?"

"Because I wanted to enjoy the day with you. You were being so damn thoughtful; it made me happy." There was a hint of wistfulness to Boyd's tone. "It's been years since I had anything this relaxing around my birthday and I knew as soon as I brought this up, the mood would change. I was trying to delay that as long as I could."

Sin just shook his head and glared at the wall. He didn't know what to say in response. He would have liked to have had more time to process what was going on but it didn't matter in the end.

"I don't have a good feeling about this at all," he said finally, his tone low and harsh.

There was brief silence and then Sin could hear the quiet squeak of the bed and rustle of sheets. Boyd's bare feet padded across the floor and he moved behind Sin, wrapping his arms around him from behind and resting his cheek against Sin's shoulder.

"I don't either," Boyd said, subdued. "I'm worried. It'll be my first extended solo undercover, which would be enough on its own. But with everything else..." He trailed off.

Sin shook his head again, mouth drawn down into a frown but he pushed away from the wall to face Boyd. "What exactly did she say about it?"

Boyd sighed and stepped back, running a back through his hair as he looked away. There was a dark cast to his features, his eyebrows drawn down as he studied the bookcases along the wall. "She said they anticipate it taking a month or two once I'm picked up, which shouldn't be terrible. She said I should anticipate going through the sorting process. They don't know exactly what that will be. After that I'll probably have to wait around awhile until Forakis shows up."

"Wait around where?"

"I don't know," Boyd said with a frown. "I asked her and she said it was unimportant. I can only guess they must have some sort of facility for people as they wait to be picked through."

"And these slaves that he keeps for his own homes," Sin said sharply, eyes narrowing. "What does he have them do?"

"He--" Boyd searched Sin's face for a moment and then sighed. He sat on the edge of the bed and slouched forward, meeting Sin's eyes. "He fucks them. I'll have to do whatever he wants."

Sin cut his eyes away and stared down at the bed silently.

It was rumpled with evidence of their previous sexual activities. It was amazing how he'd gone from peacefully lounging there to feeling... like this, in the space of only a few moments. He'd gone from enjoying the feel of Boyd against him to being told that Boyd would be leaving for months and likely be fucking someone else during that time.

It was a testament to how screwed up everything was. Even when things seemed normal and good, they never would be. Nothing ever would be. Someone else would be pulling their strings for the rest of their lives while Boyd was prostituted out in the process.

He could feel the jealousy burning at the idea of Boyd being with someone else but even then, it was dull and muffled. In the long run, he knew it would mean nothing. He'd known this would happen all along. He'd prepared himself for it. But it still made him want to smash in someone's face. Preferably the powers that be. Or Vivienne.

It was the time that bothered him the most, though. The separation for so long with no contact. Even if something bad did happen, no one would likely tell him for even longer...

Sin realized he'd lapsed into silence and he glanced over at Boyd briefly. The blond man was watching him with his brow furrowed and Sin just shook his head before saying bitterly, "Things never work out for us. It's always the calm before the storm. Maybe it will always be this way until we finally fucking die in this place."

Boyd's his eyes narrowed. A hint of the familiar stubbornness crossed his face. "Maybe but I'm not going to let it stop me from always returning to you. They can throw what they want at me and I'll just get more efficient to minimize the amount of time I have to be away. They may be able to fuck with my life any time they want but I'm not going to let them win."

There was another long pause before Sin sighed and reached down, running his fingers slowly through Boyd's hair. The strands were smooth and silky to the touch, growing long again like the way he remembered when they first met.

Sin could feel the anxiety and tension setting into his shoulders. He could feel the anger building inside of him. He felt helpless. Impotent. He didn't want this. He didn't want Boyd gone. He couldn't even process how it would feel to go from being with Boyd most nights to not seeing him again for months. To knowing that somewhere, Boyd was being used by some stranger.

"I don't want you to go."

The stubbornness in Boyd's expression shifted, overcome by something more melancholy. He placed his hand over Sin's, their fingers curling against each other. After a moment he tugged Sin down until Sin knelt by the bed in front of him. He pulled Sin close, wrapping his arms tightly around him and burying his face in Sin's hair.

"You'll wait for me, right?" he asked, sounding uncertain and maybe a little afraid. "Even if it takes me longer to finish you'll still wait for me?"

Sin frowned and looked at him as best he could. "What?"

"What if--" Boyd cut himself off, the uncertainty growing. "It sounds terrible to ask because I'm probably going to have to have sex with a stranger, but what if I can't get back right away? What if--" He pulled back and frowned to himself, his fingers tightening on Sin as he searched his eyes unhappily. "Would you have sex with others while I'm gone?"

The frown deepened into an annoyed scowl. "No. Why the hell would I do that? That's ridiculous."

Relief unmistakably crossed Boyd's face, removing the furrow between his eyebrows. His lips lifted slightly on the edges in a somber smile. "Good." His fingers sifted through the hair at the back of Sin's neck. "I don't want to share you with anyone."

"Too bad I don't have that option," Sin said sourly.

"I wish we did." Boyd's fingers continued to thread through Sin's hair. His voice was laced with displeasure. "I wish I did. I'm not looking forward to that part of the mission."

Sin shrugged silently, his pale green eyes focused on the carpet. After a moment he sighed quietly and got onto the bed. He let himself fall backwards. "Fuck everything."

Boyd crawled up the bed and stretched out, settling down on top of Sin the way they'd been situated before the topic of the mission. He was silent a moment, looking pensive with his eyebrows furrowed and his lips tilted down on the edges. His hand was resting on Sin's side and he absently ran his thumb along the smooth skin.

"Are you doing anything the next few days?"

Sin shook his head wordlessly, extending his arm to pull Boyd closer to him until their bodies were flush against each other.

Boyd moved deeper into Sin's hold, sliding his arms around Sin and shifting his ear over Sin's heart. "I have to go to Unit 16 tomorrow but otherwise I want to spend the time with you."

There was the barest motion of movement as Sin nodded. He wanted to say something more. That he wouldn't have wanted to spend the time any other way. That whatever else he'd have been doing didn't matter. That Boyd meant more to him than anything else in existence. That Sin never wanted him to leave the bed. That he never wanted to let him go into the uncertainties of tomorrow.

But he didn't and as they lay there intertwined and Boyd really did fall into a drifting sleep, Sin wished he had. There weren't very many moments when he expressed the extent of his feelings verbally. It never came out right when he tried. But he wished he hadn't let the moment pass.

He wished he could recapture it but he settled for remembering the feel of Boyd against his chest. For the next few months, that memory would keep him going. And it would have to be enough.

Continue to the next interlude: 3.27, Endgame