This site is..

Based on an original series 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

Cause/Effect - Part V (end)

Interlude 3.15

Uploaded on 8/15/2009

Boyd poured himself some water, watching the ice cubes dance around and clink quietly against the sides of the glass. Opening the fridge door, he put the water pitcher back inside.

It had been well over two weeks since Vivienne had ordered the cancellation of Sin's termination and Boyd still felt a sense of relieved disbelief. Although he'd felt like the stress he'd accrued during the whole ordeal would take a long time to dissipate, he was finding that the mini pool party Kassian had thrown at his house was actually going a long way toward aiding in his relaxation.

The only problem now was avoiding looking at Sin, wearing only cargo shorts, the bruises faded from the incident weeks ago and leaving his body just as flawless as it always was...

Boyd pushed some hair out of his eyes and automatically looked out the window, where he could see Sin and Harriet sitting next to each other. In fact, they seemed to be in a conversation; something he hadn't seen before today. Given Sin and Harriet's natural tendencies to be quiet or standoffish to people they didn't know, it was at once somewhat surprising and intriguing. It made him wonder how Sin's time at Kassian's house had been.

He half turned toward Kassian, who was sitting at a kitchen stool drinking a bottle of Guinness, gaze idly focused out the window as well. Boyd took a drink of water, the liquid ice cold and feeling wonderful as it slid down his throat, then he tilted his head toward the window as he held the glass at his side.

"How'd that go, anyway?"

Kassian didn't answer for an unusually long stretch before he gave Boyd a distracted look. "Huh?"

Boyd quirked an eyebrow; he'd noticed that Kassian had been somewhat moody despite the fact he'd been the one who had thrown the party. Even more strange, while Kassian typically seemed to be quite friendly toward Harriet he hadn't spoken to her much so far. And Harriet was unusually keeping her distance as well.

Obviously, something had happened.

"Harriet. Sin. Waiting for the termination," Boyd clarified. He watched Kassian a little more closely, a hint of a question in his gaze. "How'd it go?"

"Ah." Kassian took a swig of his beer, made a face and dumped it in the sink as if it was suddenly unacceptable. He opened the fridge again and pulled out a large, chilled bottle of vodka. It was half full. "Okay, I guess. Vega turns out to be more tolerable in near-death, illegal, termination-worthy plots. And it turns out Harriet likes him. Not sexually, though. That's all for Jonny."

Boyd watched Kassian and took another drink of water. "So she finally hooked up with Jon?" he asked idly, keeping his thoughts out of his voice at first.

"Guess so," Kassian replied sourly as he poured a generous amount of alcohol into a glass. He lifted it to his lips, drinking it straight up and added, "Seems like it might get serious. She doesn't do casual."

"Hmm." Boyd leaned against the counter with his elbows, holding the glass loosely in one hand, and a little smile played on his lips. "You're jealous," he observed.

Kassian grunted and poured himself another shot, or three shots in one. "Apparently the attraction kicked in when she stopped idolizing me and started treating me like shit."

"Ahh." Boyd tilted his head. "What made her change her mind?"

"She said she realized that it was unfair to hold me to such high standards all the time and also, she just got over it. Apparently Scarface helped out with that. Apparently, and what were her exact words?" Kassian stewed over it for a moment, chugging his drink quickly as his eyes narrowed in thought. "She said that having someone pursue her for a change opened her eyes or something. Made her realize she was wasting her time wanting to be with me."

"Hmm." Boyd's gaze dropped to the shot glass before it flicked back up to Kassian a little more seriously. "Do you really like her or is it just the challenge of someone who isn't falling for your charm anymore?" He asked the question not unkindly; he was honestly curious.

"Dunno," Kassian muttered, his words only slightly slurred, blue eyes still narrowed in thought. "But the tension during those couple of days made me act like a fucking moron. A drunk moron. I don't know what the hell made me-- scratch that, I do know what it was," he said darkly. "But I let myself drink way too much in front of her."

Boyd winced; he couldn't imagine that had gone over well. "What happened?"

Kassian started to pour himself another healthy drink-- what would amount to another three shots for a normal person, but froze slightly and stared at the bottle before setting it down. "I said some things. She said some things. I don't think there's a doubt in her mind about my alcoholism now."

Boyd pushed away from the counter and walked over, sitting next to Kassian and sliding the bottle away. There was nothing judgmental in the movement; he was simply removing immediate temptation for a friend.

"Did she say anything?" Boyd asked, his tone calm and almost gentle. "About your place or lifestyle-- The sorts of things you wanted to avoid anyone seeing?"

"No. She just mentioned... the drinking. But she wasn't even condescending or disappointed, she just seemed sad for me or something. It's my own fault. I acted stupid and then I went off on a rant and thank fucking God Vega woke up before I could continue on with my behavior." Kassian looked away, obviously troubled by the memory. "Anyway, she doesn't want to fuck me anymore. That's pretty much the summation of events."

"Well, she obviously hasn't completely changed her mind about you in general or she wouldn't have come here to hang out," Boyd said reasonably, watching Kassian. He leaned his chin against one palm and studied his friend. "So regardless of if she wants to fuck you, maybe you'll have a better chance of becoming friends now that you see each other a little more for who you are."

"I guess." Kassian didn't look too thrilled with that but he didn't say anything more on the topic either.

"There may still be a chance for something more in the future if she and Jon ever break up," Boyd continued with a shrug as he reached for his glass and then took another drink. "If you're still interested in her later."

"It doesn't matter to me anymore. She doesn't do casual and I don't do relationships." Kassian reached down to grab his glass by reflex and scowled, shifting to cross his arms over his chest and turn away from the counter and window. "I wonder if Ryan got lost."

"He should be back soon," Boyd said, glancing at the clock. Ryan had been charged with picking up some food they'd ordered.

When he turned to look toward Kassian again his gaze automatically went past the window, and centered briefly on Sin. Sin was watching Harriet intently and nodding as she appeared to explain something using gestures to indicate the size or shape of something.

Boyd felt another wave of nearly overwhelming, satisfying relief to know that Sin was actually here and that for the moment, everything was okay. Okay enough for them to have the chance to spend time with their peers and forget about the past few weeks of hell.

Still, as much as he appreciated the chance for them all to unwind, it was a little surprising that Kassian had thrown a party like this.

Boyd tilted his head and raised his eyebrows. "What made you decide to do this anyway?"

Kassian glanced at him and considered the question seriously before answering. "Honestly? It's because of what happened with Harriet. She saw me at a pretty low point and after that she still acted normally when I sobered up, she still treated me like she'd been treating me before it happened. I would have thought she'd have turned her back and shunned me out of disappointment but..."

He trailed off and his eyes drifted out the window and focused on Harriet. "Anyway, in light of the incident, I decided to try to get out of the double life thing. I'm sick of it. Letting work friend type people come over seemed like a step in that direction and I guess Vega not being thrown in an incinerator is something to celebrate so why not?"

"True," Boyd said with a small smile. "Not just him, even. Maybe we should've told Ryan to get a cake while he's out."

Kassian smirked. "He probably would have baked it himself."

The smile grew and Boyd nodded, idly looking out the window again as he sipped the water. He almost absently watched the play of light off Sin's silky hair and the way it shifted with his movements; the casual yet serious set of his expression, the lines of those full lips and the way those gorgeous green eyes flicked around.

There was a brief lull in the conversation and Kassian glanced at Boyd questioningly. "Should I have invited Ivan?"

The question drew Boyd out of his reverie. "I don't know," he replied honestly with a faint frown, glancing away from Sin in mild distraction; he ended up focusing on his cup. His fingers were loosely curled around the clear glass, the condensation cool against his fingertips. "Maybe." He looked up at Kassian again. "If there's a next time, he probably should be. You'd have to see what Sin wants."

"You make it sound like we're friends or something now."

"Hey, you're the one who voluntarily invited him to a pool party," Boyd said lightly with a smirk and raised eyebrows, then shrugged. "But I can ask him too in the future if it ever comes up. We should probably just assume yes, otherwise."

Kassian's eyebrows drew together slightly. "Well, if that's the case, it'd better be a public outing. Harriet, Ryan and Vega are one thing but I don't know Ivan well enough to want him here, honestly. That's why I didn't think too hard about it sooner. Nothing against him or anything but I barely speak to the guy and Vega doesn't seem to mind."

Boyd nodded in understanding. "We can always go to my house sometime too."

Boyd didn't really know Ivan either but he realized that for him, it didn't matter anymore. If they ever had another gathering and Sin indicated that he wanted Ivan there for any reason, Boyd wouldn't hesitate to invite the R&D agent even if it was at Boyd's house. But he understood why Kassian wouldn't feel the same, since he'd been secretive about his home life for so long that even the exceptions he was already making were change enough.

Before Kassian could reply, the doorbell chimed loudly over the rock music that was playing. "That better be Ryan with the Chinese food," the senior agent mumbled and walked out of the kitchen, not even seeming like he'd just finished off a quarter of the remainder of the bottle of vodka.

After drinking the rest of the water, Boyd left the glass on the counter and hopped off the stool, trailing behind Kassian.

"I got more beer for you," Ryan was saying to Kassian when Boyd entered the living room. Several bags of Chinese takeout covered the coffee table, the smells overwhelming the room. "And I got more chips and shit for Hsin. Oh and coffee. I hope this is the right kind-- Harriet made a big deal about the brand but I got them mixed up."

Kassian smiled at that and opened the bag from the grocery store. "Nah, that's it. Ridiculously overpriced but strong, the way she likes it. It's imported if you can believe that."

Ryan snorted and began taking cartons of food out of the bags. "Who'd think Harriet would be high maintenance?"

Kassian just shrugged and didn't respond directly to the comment, glancing toward Boyd. "You wanna grab those two from out there? They've been deep in discussion for thirty minutes now about God knows what but my microwave is busted so good luck to them if this stuff gets cold."

Ryan snickered quietly, unloading a smaller bag filled with condiments and plastic spoons. "So you can afford to heat your pool but not get a new microwave?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Ryan," Boyd said in dry sarcasm. "The pool's far more important. It's not like the microwave's year-round or anything."

Kassian flipped Boyd off and Ryan laughed out loud at that.

Boyd grinned then turned and headed toward the back door. When he stepped into the backyard, he saw that Harriet and Sin were still sitting near each other by the pool. Sin was wearing a pair of cargo pants and Harriet had on a swimsuit with a tanktop over it. Neither of them looked like they'd been in the pool yet although Harriet was allowing her feet to dangle in it.

Boyd walked over by them, sliding his hands in the pockets of his loose shorts and keeping his expression completely casual. Ever since their failed mission with Schafer, he'd found it increasingly less easy to hide his desire for Sin and after the most recent events, it'd become even more difficult.

Even after weeks of distance between them, Boyd didn't find it any easier to hide his feelings. Nearly losing Sin yet again had only made the feelings stronger and so he'd tried to avoid being alone in Sin's presence since then, tried to avoiding meeting his gaze for long. After years of practice Boyd knew how to mold his expression, but he didn't quite trust his ability yet to mask everything from his eyes-- not from Sin, who would be able to see through it.

He kept telling himself he needed more time and then he'd find the balance he needed. But in the meantime, although he stayed friendly and casual, he had to be careful.

"Ryan's here with the food," Boyd said once he stopped near Harriet.

"Did he get my coffee?" she asked, standing up and raising her dark eyebrows inquisitively. "Without the caffeine I doubt I'll be staying long."

Sin stood as well, his green eyes focusing instantly on Boyd although he didn't say anything or move to go inside.

Boyd smiled at Harriet and nodded rather than immediately glancing toward Sin. "Yeah, it sounds like he even got the right brand."

Harriet looked relieved by this and up close, Boyd could see that dark circles lined her deep brown eyes and that she did look very worn out. It was possibly due to her new position combined with regular duties, and also very possible it had something to do with the stress of wondering if Vivienne and the admin ever found out about her role in Sin's escape.

Even if she and Kassian were somewhat at odds at the moment, she didn't seem in any rush to leave the relatively relaxing evening. It was likely one of the few she got anymore.

"Great," she said and walked off towards the house but not before saying to Sin, "Feel free to ask me about anything else you think of."

Sin nodded but he continued to look at Boyd.

Boyd glanced at Sin, too quickly to meet Sin's eyes, then turned toward the house. "We'd better hurry or it'll get cold," he said idly as he started to follow Harriet.

Sin's hand shot out and grabbed Boyd's upper arm before he could take another step. Long fingers closed around his bare skin before sliding down and pulling him back.

Boyd's heartbeat thundered in his chest and he froze, caught off guard by the touch. He turned his head slightly but not enough to look over his shoulder.

Sin tugged him back until his chest was nearly flush against Boyd's back and he leaned forward slightly. "I want to talk to you."

Boyd's breath caught but he didn't make it obvious; slight tension built in his frame and he was just glad his t-shirt was a layer of fabric between them.

"Later," Boyd agreed calmly without looking behind him. He pulled his arm out of Sin's light grip and stepped away from him. "I'm hungry right now."

Sin didn't respond but frustration practically radiated off his body.

Although Boyd knew he wouldn't be able to keep this up indefinitely, that eventually he'd have to turn and face Sin when there was nothing around to distract him, he still couldn't bring himself to do it now. Without waiting for Sin to respond, Boyd headed toward the house with Sin not far behind him.

He found the others in the living room, the food ready for eating. He sat down on the floor near the coffee table and pulled a box of takeout near him.

"I didn't know what you wanted," Ryan said to Sin, setting down a plate of noodles and nudging a container full of what looked like General Tso's chicken toward Sin. "But I suggest you try that, it's really good."

Sin shrugged silently and looked at the group for a moment before sitting on the floor next to Ryan. He grabbed the container and a pair of chopsticks, poking at the sauce-covered meat.

"I'm glad you suggested this," Ryan said to Kassian after a moment, taking an eggroll out of the wax wrapping it'd come in. "Your backyard is so awesome. Sometimes I forget people even have backyards."

Harriet snorted quietly. "I'm sure it's easy in the concrete jungle. In Texas everyone had a backyard and more people than not had a pool."

Boyd idly watched the others as he started to eat the Kung Pao chicken Ryan had picked up for him. He found it a little easier to be casual around Sin when in the presence of others. Maybe because his feelings seemed especially intense when he was alone with Sin-- when it was only the two of them, the memories, and the wish that they could make more together.

Ryan looked intrigued by the idea, his wide indigo eyes focusing on her as he took a bite of crunchy eggroll. "That's so cool. I guess my parents never really got into the domestic family life scene, though..."

"Trovosky obviously did," Sin muttered.

Kassian rolled his eyes. "Will there ever be a point in time when you can resist a shot at me?"


Harriet's mouth lifted in a ghost of a smile but when Kassian looked at her it quickly faded and she dug her spoon into the mound of rice on her plate.

"You two are so cute together," Ryan said with a large grin. "Like brothers or something."

Kassian and Sin shot him twin looks of incredulous annoyance and Ryan just shrugged in response. "Well, it's true."

Boyd had to chuckle quietly at their reactions then hid his small smile behind a piece of chicken. "It's much better than it used to be," he agreed lightly.

Kassian and Sin looked at each other and it almost seemed like they were mutually deciding whether or not to get into some kind of brawl just to prove Ryan and Boyd wrong. In the end Kassian just rolled his eyes and Sin smirked, as though he'd won some unspoken argument.

"I see what you mean," Harriet told Ryan, her reserved smile returning once again.

Ryan gave the two senior agents a triumphant smile and Kassian waved a fork, perhaps more expressively than was necessary. It was probably a good thing that he'd given up the vodka when he had.

"Subject change," he ordered in his Senior Agent Trovosky tone.

"Okay," Ryan readily agreed and he looked at each of them in turn, his expression serious all of a sudden. "I know this is still a touchy subject but, can you guys tell me exactly what happened in the end of that whole... thing? It's just so odd that even with the evidence, the Marshal didn't decapitate anyone."

Boyd glanced at the others briefly, chewing a bite of chicken then swallowing. No one else would know the answer to that since he hadn't told anyone much at all about the incident so he set the chopsticks inside the container and responded.

"With the evidence of Sin's innocence, there was no reason to terminate him. And she couldn't prove who all had been involved, so..." Boyd shrugged after trailing off.

"And that's it?" Harriet asked slightly doubtfully. "It's as simple as that? The subject is just dropped?"

Boyd made a slight face and leaned back. "Not exactly. But it's nothing any of you should need to worry about." He glanced between Harriet and Kassian. "I don't think she knows either of you were involved, so you should be fine."

"I don't regret helping," Harriet said with a glance at Sin.

He just shrugged. "You don't need to reassure me."

Harriet gave him a pointed look. "I wasn't trying to reassure you, I was just making a statement in case my concern was misinterpreted." She paused for a moment, seeming to consider her stern tone and added, "Besides, if you'd been terminated I never would have found someone to talk about engineering with."

Boyd raised his eyebrows, somewhat relieved to find no one was pressing the subject; he didn't really want to talk about anything that had happened with his mother. "So that's what you were talking about?" he asked in interest.

Sin glanced at Boyd in consideration but it was Harriet who replied. "We were talking about preferred guns for marksmanship and I mentioned my past interest in weapons development. Sin was decidedly interested in the topic of engineering."

"Really." Kassian gave Sin a doubtful look. "Why?"

"Why not?" Harriet asked defensively. "It's not a boring topic if you understand the concepts."

"And Vega does?" Kassian looked even more doubtful.

"Well," Sin started in his typically bland I'm About To Shred You With My Retort tone. "Some field agents actually spend their free time reading and not being lazy fat asses playing video games and chugging beer."

There was a brief silence and Ryan looked on the verge of pissing himself with laughter although he managed to keep it in.

"I'm not a fat ass," Kassian said icily.

"Not yet," Sin replied in the same toneless voice, picking up another piece of chicken with his perfectly held chopsticks. "But you're getting old and your metabolism will stop processing all of the extra calories and carbohydra--"

"You eat fucking donuts for dinner on missions!" Kassian practically shouted incredulously.

"I work out most days of the week," Sin replied, unconcerned.

"Whatever." Kassian shook his head in exasperation.

"See?" Ryan asked no one in particular although he avoided looking Kassian or Sin directly in the eye. "They act like brothers."

Harriet nodded in agreement but didn't verbally say anything more on the subject.

The casual conversation continued as they finished eating. Boyd found that he was enjoying himself and was glad to see that it seemed like on some level, everyone else was too.

After dinner, they milled around talking and generally hanging out. Peaches eventually showed up, apparently deciding that the noisy humans were worth being around after all. There was enough going on that for awhile it was easy to get involved with the conversations and not pay attention to anything else.

Yet, Boyd found his gaze occasionally sliding over to Sin when no one was looking, especially when Sin removed himself from the others. Every time Boyd realized he was doing it, he casually looked away and pretended he'd been focusing on something else.

It was one of those times when Boyd noticed Sin sitting in the living room while everyone else was in the kitchen. Peaches had crawled up next to Sin, her fluffy front paws on his thigh as she laid in an awkward position, her tail sedately twitching behind her and bright green eyes turned up toward Sin. Boyd could practically hear her purring as Sin looked down at her with a discreet smile, his long fingers idly running through her fur.

Boyd felt something twist inside him and for a moment, he couldn't look away. The scene was so endearing to him that he didn't even realize how his expression softened. He remembered the animal book he had once bought Sin as a joke; the way Sin had flipped through it and had actually seemed interested.

It was impossible not to think about that time, about the way it once had been; about the nights he'd lain next to Sin and felt those same powerful hands touching him gently, or when that slight, genuine smile had been aimed at him.

Movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention and he realized with a start that Kassian was watching him with a knowing look. A flash of guilt passed across Boyd's face and he realized he was being too obvious in his attraction.

Boyd frowned slightly, more troubled than anything, then glanced to make sure that neither Harriet or Ryan had noticed. Thankfully, they were engaged in a conversation. Boyd looked distractedly at Kassian then turned his head toward the floor, hands sliding into his pockets as he silently slipped out the back door.

He stood still once he was outside, his head tilting back as his somber gaze took in the evening.

The sky was dark and silent above him, the clouds tinged a deep blue-black that somehow didn't seem oppressive. Pale light dotted the backyard, leaving some areas obscured by shadows but lighting up the area immediately surrounding the pool.

Boyd paused by the edge of the pool, looking down at the clear water, and although he felt mildly disturbed to be near a body of water it really wasn't that bad. He didn't especially mind being beside even the ocean as far as that went; although there had been a time even the sight of a large body of water was enough to disturb him, by now it was just the idea of being stuck underwater and drowning that frightened him.

After a few seconds, he pulled off his shirt and the loose shorts, leaving him in his swim trunks. He walked over to the shallow area then used the steps to gingerly walk in. The water was warm and pleasant, thanks to Kassian's heater, so he couldn't blame the temperature for the few goosebumps that traveled up his arms. The summer air was warm and still. He walked further into the pool, the water level steadily rising, and he felt at once troubled and calm.

He wished he had a way of just turning off his feelings when it came to Sin; he didn't know how long he would be able to be in Sin's presence before his feelings became obvious to Sin as well. He didn't want to mess anything up like he always seemed to do and Ivan's words still echoed in his mind.

Boyd had been trying so hard to no longer be selfish when it came to Sin, so it was frustrating to know that after everything he could still screw up simply by virtue of being unable to properly hide his feelings.

Knowing he was facing away from the house and no one would see him, Boyd grimaced and allowed some of the tension to gather in his shoulders.

It used to be so easy for him to feel no emotions; to deny anything that was inconvenient for him. It used to be so easy to cut off connections, to not care about the world around him.

He sighed lowly then moved to the edge of the pool, keeping one hand safely on the cement patio while he inched further into the deep end.

The water made his body buoyant but as he moved further in and the water rose to his neck, he started to feel that familiar panic claw at the edges of his awareness. Even though it was probably all in his mind, the water felt especially thick around his chest and throat-- like the pressure was making it harder to breathe.

Yet Boyd didn't let the feeling overwhelm him.

Ironically, he'd become a little bit better at dealing with the fear of drowning due to the waterboarding-- but that had mostly worked because he'd always known that he wasn't actually being drowned. It was different in actual water, which could easily slide down his throat and clog his lungs.

He shivered despite himself but his mind remained surprisingly calm, probably because he knew he was in charge of the situation. He felt a morbid sense of curiosity, wondering whether he would be able to condition himself to get over his phobia by training in Kassian's pool.

If he could stop himself from the automatic, desperate panic at the prospect of drowning, then maybe he could become even stronger and there could be less that the Agency could do to control him. Even though he hadn't given them any information about Sin, that didn't mean he would always be able to stop himself from saying anything important about other topics.

Fingers tight against the cement edge, Boyd drew in an overly deep breath and squeezed his eyes shut before dunking under.

The water was warm and his hair fanned out as he concentrated on counting seconds. His heart thundered almost painfully in his chest and even though he felt fear, it didn't overwhelm him the way it usually would because this was, for once, his own experiment. He had complete control and could stop whenever he wanted.

Even so, he didn't make it many seconds before he burst above the surface again, gasping loudly for air in a manner that was a little extreme for the circumstances. His fingers automatically tightened painfully against the ground and he screwed his face up, eyes still shut as he used his free hand to push wet hair out of the way.

His feet kicked beneath him, an absent reaction to stay afloat even with his hand anchoring him to the side. After a few seconds he pulled himself closer to the shallow side so that if he let himself drop down, the water would go to his upper chest. Even though the panic wasn't overwhelming him, it still made him feel safer to be where he could touch the floor.

He dunked under again, counting the time and feeling vaguely satisfied when he made it an extra two seconds, then burst above water, ending up facing the edge of the pool. His eyes remained shut as he ran his hands back over his hair, getting all the messy strands out of his face. He was breathing only a hint heavier than normal when the hair on the back of his neck stood up and he realized someone was behind him.

Boyd's heartbeat jolted and he twirled around immediately, the movement made slower and more awkward due to the water. His eyes widened and he was completely caught off guard to realize Sin was in the pool with him, enough that the surprise even made it to his face.

Sin was disturbingly close to him and for a moment Boyd was struck by Sin's ability to sneak up on him so thoroughly. The thought drifted away as he realized that Sin had stripped out of his clothing and was wearing nothing more than snug black underwear or boxer briefs-- Boyd couldn't be sure which they were.

Sin's hard muscular body was wet, his tattoos shimmering beneath the water and his pale green eyes piercing in the faint lights that shone into the pool in the darkness. "We're going to talk," he said quietly, his gaze burning into Boyd.

Boyd's mouth went dry and he had to look away, turning his face toward the house. He could see shadows of movement through the lit window but no one else was in the backyard or in view. "Is this really the best time?" he asked even as he started to move toward the steps.

Sin blocked him immediately, pushing Boyd back against the wall of the pool forcefully, his hands curling around Boyd's shoulders as he pinned him there. "Do you think I care what they think?"

The wall of the pool was rough against Boyd's back and he drew in a short, startled breath. There was a slight edge to Sin's tone and Boyd automatically looked toward Sin, seeing those vivid green eyes staring at him heatedly. Sin's fingers were strong against Boyd's bare skin and it was so hard not to concentrate on how good that felt, so difficult to not let himself focus on the proximity of Sin's mostly naked, wet body.

"I didn't--" Boyd started with a small stumble of his words. His eyes were slightly widened and he looked a little trapped, although there was no fear in him. He wanted to look away but he couldn't now that he'd made eye contact with Sin. "I didn't mean that, just... someone may interrupt..."

Sin's grip loosened slightly but he didn't remove his hands from Boyd's shoulders. His fingers pressed down slightly in a nearly unconscious kneading manner and for a moment all Sin did was stare down at Boyd, his face half shadowed and his full lips slightly parted.

Desire could be seen in Sin's eyes and it struck Boyd silent, his mouth dropping open slightly. He searched Sin's expression, wondering if he was seeing it wrong-- but he wasn't. That, combined with the closeness of their bodies and the light movement of Sin's hands, made it impossible to ignore how much he ached for Sin. How much he wanted to pull Sin forward and crush their bodies together.

Boyd licked his lips almost unconsciously but didn't jerk forward like he wanted to, although he found one of his hands had started to rise as if to touch Sin. He almost did before he made himself redirect the movement to push hair out of his face. He was confused and for once he just wanted to understand what was happening as he was going into a situation rather than misinterpreting later.

He glanced away briefly but wasn't actively avoiding eye contact. "What... did you want to talk about?" he asked after a moment, his voice quiet.

"Why have you been avoiding me?"

Boyd shook his head to himself. He wasn't going to lie but he didn't know if he should really say the truth either. "Is that all you wanted to talk about?" he asked lightly, looking over at Sin.

A flash of impatience crossed Sin's face and his hands tightened on Boyd again, his powerful fingers digging in hard enough to draw pain. Sin shifted closer until their bodies were nearly touching and trapped Boyd against the wall as if he was making sure Boyd had no possibility of escaping. His eyes narrowed, jaw clenching.

"Did I do something wrong?"

Boyd's breath caught and the position made it impossible to look away from Sin's eyes.

"No," Boyd said sincerely, eyebrows drawing down as he searched Sin's expression. His hands automatically rose and he almost rested them on Sin's waist before he redirected them to Sin's upper arms. He had to stop himself from running his thumb along those hard muscles; from pulling himself even closer.

"You didn't do anything wrong. I was just... for awhile..." Boyd frowned slightly and shook his head, continuing honestly, "I wasn't going to forever."

The tension in Sin's frame relaxed somewhat but the intensity didn't leave his expression and this time his eyes skimmed over Boyd's face, what he could see of Boyd's wet body. Sin opened his mouth to reply and it seemed as though more centimeters closed between their bodies in the process.

"I wanted to tell you something," Sin said finally, his voice low and deep. "I needed to ask you something."

Boyd kept his gaze steady on Sin, although his breath quickened at Sin's proximity. That close, there was barely a layer of water between them and he could feel Sin's body heat radiating onto him. He had to force himself not to look down to see what Sin's crotch would look like encased only in wet underwear. The thought made his dick twitch and his fingers briefly tightened on Sin's arms. He leaned back to give himself some space, although his eyes darkened despite himself.

If it continued like this, there was no way he was going to be able to control himself...

"What is it?" Boyd's voice came out huskier than he'd intended and Sin's gaze caught on Boyd's mouth as the words slid out.

A low exhalation escaped Sin and his grip strengthened, drawing Boyd toward him and closing the already minuscule space between their bodies. Whatever Sin had been about to say was lost as their bodies connected and Boyd felt an unmistakable erection press against his own.

Boyd's fingers tightened powerfully against Sin's arms and his lips parted as he drew in a shaky breath, his gaze intensifying. He couldn't help responding, his own erection growing harder as he felt Sin's body against him, as their breath intermingled and Sin's gaze was so intense.

It felt so incredibly good to be near Sin, to feel that wet, hard body against him and Sin's large erection pressing against his own. Sin's skin, his scent, his intense stare-- it was nearly overwhelming after almost a year of being apart and it was impossible for Boyd to fully muffle the quiet sound that escaped him on his exhale.

He'd wanted this so much that it almost felt surreal for a moment, like he was actually dreaming this or it was all in his imagination. His honey brown eyes darkened in unmistakable desire and his quickened breath could be felt in the way their chests pressed against each other. He wondered if Sin could even feel his pounding heart.

His gaze unconsciously slid from Sin's gorgeous eyes down to those full lips, and all Boyd could think about was how much he wanted to kiss him. The thought was intensified by Sin's hard body pressing against him and Boyd couldn't think properly. He was just starting to shift forward when his cell phone suddenly rang, the tone piercing in the night

Boyd jerked his head to the side, thoroughly startled and feeling his heart jolt, and he automatically looked over at the shorts he'd left crumpled on the patio.

He glanced at Sin quickly then pulled away so he could reach over and drag the shorts closer, briefly drying his hands on his discarded shirt so he could pull out his phone. He felt a strange sense of gratitude for the interruption.

If it hadn't been for the call, he would have kissed Sin and after that he probably wouldn't have been able to stop it from escalating. Which would have been bad not only because it would have been awkward if Harriet or someone walked outside, but also because Boyd still didn't really know where they stood or what exactly was going on with Sin.

Obviously, they were both still attracted to each other. On one level that relieved him yet on another level, the knowledge did little to explain anything.

He didn't understand when exactly that shift had taken place for Sin, why Sin would be doing that when he was still involved with Ivan.

And regardless-- whatever was going on between them in that pool, Boyd didn't want it to be about just the physical attraction. He loved Sin and he didn't want to start fucking him again like before; he didn't want anything between them to ever just be about sex again. He'd tried to avoid Sin so something like this wouldn't accidentally happen on his part but now he didn't know what to do or think, since Sin had been the one initiating it.

It left Boyd feeling imbalanced and confused, while at the same time the aching he'd felt for Sin had only intensified dramatically after feeling him so close-- after having a chance to remember what it had felt like to feel that hard body against him, those strong hands holding him tightly.

Boyd's shoulders tensed slightly and his eyes narrowed. He flipped open his phone just as it went into the third ring, surprised to see that it was his mother. The conversation was short and quick and Boyd nodded as he verbally acknowledged his understanding.

He flipped the phone closed and only then did he look over his shoulder at Sin again.

"I have a mission."

Continue to the next interlude, 16: Marshal's Orders