Making It Count

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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.


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Making it Count - Part III

Interlude 3.24

Uploaded on 12/26/2009

The morning dawned bright, cool and breezy. When Sin's eyes slid open the light streaming in through the white curtains was somewhat startling. He looked at the rays of sunlight blankly, his eyes following the dust motes that danced in them.

He felt abnormally well-rested and for the first time in a long time, his body was completely absent of tension. If it weren't for the fact that Boyd was notably missing, Sin would have likely entertained the idea of trying to go back to sleep. The king-sized bed in the cabin's bedroom was nearly as comfortable as the one in his apartment but with the added bonus of complete privacy.

Sin rolled out of bed and stood up, cracking his back in a stretch before running a hand through his inky black hair. He grabbed his pants as an afterthought before going out into the living room. He slid into his pants as he glanced around.

The living room and kitchen were connected with the front door sitting right at the junction of where they connected. The door was wide open although the screen door was shut. Sin walked outside curiously, the wooden porch floor cool against his bare feet.

Boyd was sitting on the swinging bench on the porch, a sketch pad in his lap and his eyes focused on the woods that surrounded them. The sunlight was even more striking out here; golden light sifted through the leaves and created a spectacle of untouched nature that Sin hadn't seen in years. The light caught Boyd's pale features, his cheeks faintly tinged pink from the cool morning air, his blond hair still mussed from sleep.

"What are you doing?"

Boyd looked over with a serene smile, although he didn't move his hand from the sketchpad. His eyes seemed more golden than usual in the light. "Morning," he greeted and tilted his head toward the woods. "I woke up early and was inspired."

"It is pretty inspiring," Sin agreed, sitting down beside Boyd and stretching his legs out in front of him. He folded his arms over his bare chest, gaze skimming over the scenery. In the cool morning air he could faintly feel Boyd's body heat against his side. "I like it here."

"I do too." Boyd started drawing again, his gaze flicking between his sketchpad and the trees. "I wish we could stay like this."

"Like what?"

"More... normal, I guess," Boyd said with a shrug, pausing and looking over at Sin. "I wish we didn't have to return to the Agency and we could go on vacations whenever we wanted. It would be nice to live in a place like this for awhile."

"Oh." Sin tilted his head back against the back of the bench and stared up at the sky. "I wish there was a way to leave."

"Yeah," Boyd agreed quietly, looking down at the half-finished drawing. After a moment, he set the pencil down and selected another one, looking up at the trees. "Maybe some day we'll figure something out."

Sin looked over at Boyd with surprise. "Like what?"

"I'm not sure," Boyd admitted with a faint shift of his shoulders.

His fingers moved confidently as the blank white paper was slowly replaced by a rendition of the scene before them. Even the tiny leaves in the drawing seemed realistic despite the fact that Boyd seemed to be absently sketching them in. It didn't appear to take much effort for him to replicate what he saw, which was unsurprising to Sin after having watched Boyd draw in the past.

Despite the fact that Boyd often downplayed his ability, there was definite talent in his art.

"But Emilio figured it out for almost twenty years," Boyd continued thoughtfully. With two elegant strokes, he created a bird soaring over the canopy in the distance. "Granted, that same trick wouldn't work twice and any other I can think of would fail, not to mention even if it didn't we'd be chased our whole lives." Honey brown eyes flicked over to Sin. "But we don't know everything that will come with the new administration. It's possible we'll discover a loophole with her that we didn't find before."

Sin didn't respond at first and he dragged his eyes away from Boyd. The comment stirred something in him that was hopeful yet the cynical part of his mind almost immediately stamped it down. Emilio's plan had only worked because Sin had been present. He'd counted on Sin being there to kill the remaining assassins. As far as disappearing and making it obvious that they'd gone rogue... it was always a possibility but living on the run and being continuously hunted appealed to him as much as assassinations did.


Boyd finished with the trees and started working on drawing the sky. He set the pencil down and selected a different one. He seemed to be choosing them based on how dark and thick the lines were. "I don't know how realistic it is," he added, probably having similar thoughts as Sin. "But I'm not about to give up on the idea of getting away someday, no matter how it happens."

Sin narrowed his eyes contemplatively. "What if you got bored with me in that sort of situation? In a... normal situation."

Boyd stopped and looked over incredulously. His fingers had stilled against the pencil and judging by the look in his eyes, he was taken aback by what he believed to be an absurd question. "Why in the world would I?"

"I don't know," Sin replied with a shrug, a sheepish half-smile finding its way onto his face. "Maybe I'm not so interesting when we aren't surrounded by intrigue and danger."

Boyd stared at Sin for a moment and then shook his head to himself with a clearly exasperated look. "You're ridiculous," he said not unkindly, returning his attention to sketching the clouds. "I'm going to love you regardless of your setting so you'd best get used to the idea."

Sin chuckled quietly and looked at Boyd sidelong. "So, is this your plan for the day?"

"I hadn't thought much past finishing this. Why?" He glanced over sidelong, pushing some hair away from his face with the back of his hand. "Did you have any ideas?"

"Not really." Sin stretched his arms over the back of the bench and leaned his head to the side, watching Boyd contemplatively and running his fingers over the smooth oak of the bench. Part of him wanted to use the complete isolation and privacy as a chance to fuck all day and night but the other part of him wanted to explore the area around them more thoroughly.

A thought occurred to him. "There's a bike rental place in town. Would you be interested in getting some mountain bikes and exploring the forest some more? It might be interesting."

Boyd's pencil stilled against the page as he raised his eyebrows in an intrigued look. A small smile tilted the edges of his lips. "I'd be very interested. Do you want to go now?"

"Whenever. We have time."

"Let's go after breakfast, then." Boyd started shading in the trees.

Sin watched him drawing for a moment before nodding and getting up. They'd established early on in their stay that Sin would be doing the majority of the cooking. Things were a lot easier without Boyd stumbling around the kitchen trying to figure out the difference between a sauce pan and a frying pan.

It didn't take long to fry up some bacon and scramble half a carton of eggs. By the time Boyd came in, likely drawn by the smell of cooking food, Sin was toasting bread. Boyd wandered over, his hands running along Sin casually and his lips a gentle caress against the side of Sin's neck.

He ignored Boyd's comments about how he'd make a good housewife and tried to ignore the idea that popped up in the back of his mind at the joking exchanges that followed. The thought had been recurring ever since they'd gotten to the cabin: that it would be nice if they actually lived together back in the city as well.

Sin sat at the tiny wooden table across from Boyd and eyed his partner discreetly. He didn't think he'd mind waking up next to Boyd every morning or even doing most of the cooking. It would be... fun.

His mouth twitched slightly and he made a bacon and egg sandwich with the toast.

Boyd washed the dishes while Sin got ready for the day. The shower was powerful and the water was deliciously hot. Boyd joined him and they stayed in it for forty-five minutes, fucking mindlessly against the tiled wall.

It was almost noon before they got to the bike rental place. Sin parked the truck on the street and as he got out of the vehicle, he realized that he was in an obscenely good mood. He'd been happier than normal lately anyway as a result of their reconciliation but ever since they'd come to Vermont it'd been more prominent than ever. He had to really wonder how he ever thought he'd be able to be with anyone other than Boyd.

The thoughts gave him the uncharacteristic desire to want to touch Boyd affectionately; to hug him or squeeze his hand. But considering the old man behind the counter was already looking at them like they were from another planet, it wasn't the best idea.

"What are you boys looking for?" the man, Chandler according to his name tag, asked. He looked like someone's kindly old grandfather but he had a voice like a grizzly bear.

The building wasn't particularly large and the majority of the floor space was taken up by bicycles of varying shapes, colors and sizes. Helmets were on display on one section of the wall, grouped by size, and the rental prices were clearly posted on a sign behind the counter.

"We want to rent two bikes for the day," Boyd said belatedly after having looked around the space. He turned his attention to Chandler. "We plan to bike through the woods so we'd need something sturdy."

Chandler made a 'hmm' sound and walked around the counter, still eyeballing the both of them before turning his attention to the rows of bikes displayed before them. "Not much experience mountain biking?"

Sin didn't bother to answer and ran his fingers along the leather handlebars of a red and black bike. They'd already come to the unspoken agreement that Boyd dealt with small talk and civilians. Sin looked at it as a trade-off for the cooking.

"No," Boyd said in agreement. "But we're both in shape."

"Looks like you both could afford some meat on your bones if you ask me," Chandler replied with a low chuckle. He moved over to where Sin was standing and nodded at the bike. "That one there is good for speed but it won't cut it through these here woods."

Sin shrugged, unsurprised. It didn't look like it would have worked.

"What you boys would be wanting is a dual suspension all mountain bike. It's real rocky around here; you need something that can get you through it."

Boyd trailed over by Chandler and started to examine the bicycles in the area. He seemed especially intrigued by a sturdy-looking black one with silver handlebars that twisted up a few inches on the sides. His fingers stilled against the bicycle frame as he glanced up at Chandler. "Any of these over here would work, then?"

"Yep." Chandler looked at Sin and seemed to sense that he wasn't interested in being followed the entire time because Chandler took a step away. "Let me know if you boys need anything else or have any questions."

Boyd nodded and flashed a small, polite smile. "We will. Thank you." He waited until Chandler returned to the counter before he turned to Sin curiously. "See anything you like?"

Sin shrugged and slid his hands into his jean pockets, walking over to the rack Boyd stood beside. "I don't know. I don't know much about bikes. This seems like something Trovosky would be educated on."

The comment caused Boyd to look at him in mild surprise, his eyebrows raising slightly and head tilting the way it did when he was curious or perplexed. "Since when do you know anything about Kassian's hobbies?"

The bell above the door jingled as another customer entered the store. Sin looked over and saw that it was a young couple, bright-eyed and all friendly smiles as they greeted Chandler. Obvious tourists.

"I ran into him a couple of weeks ago. He was in a bad mood about something so I decided to comment that they likely offered Midol in the med wing." Sin stopped in front of a forest green bike that had a faint camouflage print. "Somehow the topic turned to him deciding to go camping in some woods somewhere in the midwest."

Boyd looked genuinely intrigued by this and had turned his attention solely to Sin. "Interesting. I'm surprised you two actually stood around chatting long enough for that to come up."

"So was I. But it didn't last after I reassured him that if he became a mountain man, no one would miss him at the Agency anyway since he is a terrible agent now or whatever nonsense he was complaining about."

Boyd watched Sin a moment before he shook his head to himself and looked down at the bike. His eyebrows drew down and he seemed caught between bemusement and concern. "Odd. I wonder what he was worried about. I haven't heard of any major screw ups from him."

Sin squatted down and looked at the wheels of the bike, not really knowing what he was looking for but deciding they looked thick enough to be reliable for how he wanted to ride. "Apparently they've been giving him babysitters on assignments. Once with Jon and once with my father."

"What-- Why?"

"I'm not entirely sure. He didn't get into details but alluded to the fact that they think he's having alcohol issues."

Boyd grew quiet and stared at a deep red bicycle with a silver design that was near him. A troubled frown briefly darkened his expression and Sin knew Boyd well enough to recognize the flash of guilt that went through his eyes.

Boyd seemed distracted and turned away to survey the shop. His gaze briefly rested on the happy couple who were chattering with Chandler as they grouped around some lightweight bicycles near the front door. The woman seemed pleased by the silver bike she was studying as she listened to Chandler describe a meandering trail through the woods nearby.

"So, what are you getting?" Sin asked abruptly, not really wanting to get sidetracked on lamentations about Kassian's issues.

Boyd looked around at the all terrain bicycles and frowned to himself. "I don't know." He pulled some hair behind his ear and seemed to shake off the reverie. He started walking around, putting more effort into studying the choices. He paused by one that was a hunter green color and eyed it in assessment, tilting it upright so he could test out sitting on it. He looked thoughtful and glanced over at Sin. "You find one yet?"

Sin jerked a thumb at the camouflaged bike.

Boyd smiled to himself with fondness clear in the tilt of his lips and the look in his eyes. "You didn't even look at any others."

"I don't want to. It will take too long."

The smile widened before Boyd pushed himself off the bicycle and headed toward the first few bikes he'd been studying. He casually walked by Sin in the process, passing close enough that he discreetly ran his fingers along Sin's.

Since the moment they'd started their trip and especially since they'd reached the cabin, Boyd had been particularly apt to touch Sin, from gentle caresses to obvious sexual advances. Sin didn't know exactly what it was about the setting that apparently made Boyd feel especially endeared toward him but he suspected it may be because they were finally able to have complete privacy. Whatever the case, Boyd had been touching and kissing him more than usual and Sin couldn't say he minded.

The brief slide of Boyd's fingers against Sin's hand was gone almost before it was there but it left a tingle on his skin in its wake. When Sin looked over, he saw Boyd give him an intimate look that if they weren't in public probably would have resulted in one of them pulling the other into a deep kiss. As it was, his blond hair barely sheltered his expression from the others in the shop. The look disappeared as he shifted and the others would see his face.

"I'll go with this one," Boyd announced as he paused by the black bike he'd first considered.

They had to wait a few minutes for Chandler to stop chatting with the couple and that was enough time for Boyd to examine his chosen bicycle more thoroughly. They paid for the rental in cash and started off on the ride. Chandler had given them some directions for a bike path he recommended based on what Boyd explained they were hoping to do.

They started out on the trail that Chandler had recommended, Sin ending up in the lead because he'd been the first into the forest. The path wound around, ducking around tree trunks sometimes at the last second like the meanderings of a stumbling drunk. They rode fast, almost recklessly, the ground rising and falling beneath them but starting to head at an increasingly steep incline.

The trees were clustered together, dark shapes that rose well above them and flashed by like blurred red and brown lines. Crinkling leaves and brittle sticks littered the forest floor, crushed beneath their tires as they flew past. The uneven ground gave ample opportunities to jump the bikes over small distances and when one or both of them tried to take too quick of turns, sometimes the back tire slid across the ground in a spin out and they would have to put a foot down to keep their balance.

Sin could hear Boyd close behind him. Boyd laughed as they sped through the forest, a happy adrenaline-high of a sound that was occasionally lost to the wind rushing past Sin's ears. Sometimes Boyd heckled Sin, yelling that he wasn't going fast enough or he was too much of a pansy around a particular turn, although they both knew he was just talking shit. Sin was fast enough that he nearly left Boyd behind more than once.

The longer they road through the forest, the more daring their stunts became. More often than not, it was necessary to do them to get around the natural obstacles that frequently got in their way. One such moment occurred when Boyd challenged Sin to an impromptu race.

They'd begun speeding down a steep hill and realized belatedly that the hill ended abruptly in a small cliff with a sharp drop. Boyd wisely slid to a stop but Sin didn't.

He wasn't experienced in bike stunts and had been doing most jumps on a whim so far. But for some reason he wanted to keep going. A part of him deep down wanted to see how far he could push himself. How crazy he could go, how reckless he could be, until he proved that he wasn't an indestructible science project.

Flying off the edge of the small overhang proved that point but it quickly became clear that it had been stupid to do the jump without even looking to see what was below. He barely even heard Boyd's frightened shout in the distance as the wind rushed past him. He was weightless, the bike loose beneath his grip, the trees flashing by like a silent movie on fast forward.

The freedom only lasted for a scant handful of seconds.

The bike soared downward before slamming into the ground violently. The front tire slammed into a group of rocks that caught the bike forcefully. The back end of the bike flew upward, wrenching the handlebars out of Sin's hands and throwing him off.

He hit the ground hard and instantly covered his head with his arms to protect himself as he half rolled and half slid the rest of the way down the slope. Rocks, sticks and raised tree roots slammed into him from every angle and for a moment all he could hear was the rushing of the noises around him and the crashing of his bicycle as it disengaged from the rocks and clattered down the slope after him.

By the time Boyd raced down, Sin had already noted that he was relatively unscathed except for a likely sprained ankle from getting twisted beneath him.

"Hsin!" Boyd yelled breathlessly, concern and fear clear in his face as he jumped off his bike before he'd slid to a complete stop. He nearly tripped over himself in his haste to crouch next to Sin. He automatically ran his hands over him to check for obvious broken bones or trauma.

"Are you okay? Can you feel your feet? Are you hurt?" His voice stumbled over itself the way his feet had; slightly shaky and unsteady and rushed to ensure his lover's safety.

When Sin looked up and he saw just how far the drop had been, it was probably no wonder that Boyd was so alarmed.

"I'm fine." Sin brushed dirt off his jacket and surveyed the distance of the fall. It annoyed him. He should have at least broken something. "Maybe just a sprain."

Relief warred with disbelief in Boyd's eyes. He leaned back, pushing hair away from his face with a trembling hand, and glanced back up at the drop that Sin had managed to survive nearly unharmed.

"Jesus Christ," he said distantly, starting to gather his wits again. He turned back to Sin with narrowed eyes and punched him on the chest, leaning in. "Pull that shit again and I'll kill you. You scared the hell out of me."

"Sorry. Spur of the moment decision," Sin replied, actually meaning it. It was entirely possible that if the fall had been worse, he could have broken his neck. If Boyd had done such a thing, Sin likely would have had a fit.

Boyd let out a low breath and shook his head. He ran a hand through his hair again, a grimace of worry and distraction lingering. "Forget it. I'm just glad you're okay." He pushed himself up and looked along Sin's length again, in assessment this time as if he was trying to verify that Sin really wasn't hurt terribly. "What's sprained? Do you need help?"

Sin threw him a derisive look and stood. "I've finished storms with bullet holes in my body. I'll manage."

Boyd rolled his eyes. "Excuse me for wanting to help my crazy lover who just rode off a cliff." When he saw that Sin seemed to be managing fine, he returned to his bike and pulled it upright.

"What do you want to do now?" Sin asked.

With the bike leaning against his thigh, Boyd paused and studied Sin more seriously before glancing around them. The cliff would be difficult to get back up with their bikes but there were patches they could ride through down here as well as a path that could be seen between some trees.

"Why don't we head back? I'm starting to get hungry anyway."

Sin nodded and pulled his bike upright. "That's fine with me. You can do the cooking this time."

Boyd smirked and swung one leg over the bike. "Be careful what you wish for."

The ride back to town and the hike back up to their cabin proved to exacerbate the sprain. Despite the fact that Sin had indeed survived storms with a lot worse wounds, they were usually dealt with on excessive adrenaline highs when he could barely feel it. Walking sedately with a steadily swollen ankle was becoming a nuisance.

By the time Boyd had finished preparing a plate full of turkey sandwiches for them, Sin's ankle was swollen and discolored with bruising.

"Appetizing," Sin commented, motioning to his ankle and grabbing a thick sandwich.

Boyd set his plate on the table, his eyebrows drawing down as he looked at Sin's ankle. "Are you sure it's not broken? Can you wiggle your toes?"

"It's not broken," Sin replied blandly around a mouthful of turkey breast.

"Then we should get some ice for it."

Boyd walked over to the kitchen and pulled some ice out of the freezer, dropping it into a plastic bag that he wrapped in a dish towel. He returned to Sin's side and didn't give him a chance to say he didn't need the help; he picked Sin's leg up and gently rested his foot on one of the extra chairs, then balanced the ice against his foot.

"You should be keeping it elevated anyway," he said absently, mostly to himself.

Sin just made a face, not entirely feeling gratified by the attention. "Can we not make a big deal over a ridiculous sprain?"

"No." Boyd leaned over as he passed by Sin and kissed him lightly on the cheek. He returned to his side of the table and dropped into his chair. "Someone has to take care of you and you won't do it yourself," he said lightly as he picked up his sandwich.

"I have better things to do with my time," Sin replied. "Like finishing this series of sci-fi novels I recently acquired. I was considering making an attempt at relaxation tonight and starting to read one in that jacuzzi... thing."

Boyd raised his eyebrows, looking intrigued. "That sounds like a good plan. I may join you."

"Who said you're invited?"

Boyd smirked to himself. "Maybe I'll just crash the party," he said playfully and took a bite of his sandwich.

"Well if you do," Sin said, looking at his lover with an arched brow. "Remember that I am there to read my book."

"Oh, I will," Boyd drawled, his lips lifting at the edges impishly. "But I may have to entertain myself since you didn't bring me anything to read."

"You do that." Feigning disinterest was amusing but Sin found the idea highly intriguing. It was too bad that submerging his ankle in hot water would likely make it worse. Perhaps he would have to keep a bathtub rendezvous casual after all.

He held on to that vow until he was actually sitting in the jacuzzi with his leg propped up on the opposite end, his head resting on a towel and book in hand. The water felt good and surprisingly, it did help him to relax. There was something oddly soothing about the suds surrounding him while the water jets massaged muscles he hadn't even known were sore until they began to unwind.

The bathroom was steamy and hot from the running water, making him feel even more lethargic. When Boyd finally entered the bathroom and slid into the tub naked, Sin could barely do more than give him a lazy once over before returning to his book. He felt too comfortable to move.

"How's the book?" Boyd asked as he settled against the opposite side of the tub. He extended his legs, one of them sliding briefly against Sin's.

"Interesting. I'm not sure what to make of it yet. I'll let you know after a few chapters," Sin replied, not taking his pale green gaze off of the pages.

Boyd made a 'hmm' sound and fell silent. For a few minutes, there was only the sound of Sin flipping pages and the whirring of the jacuzzi. Boyd stretched and leaned back, his eyes falling shut. He rested his head against the edge of the tub and groaned appreciatively. "God, this feels good. I wasn't expecting this."

"Shut up. I can't relax if someone is talking."

"That's a sad story," Boyd said idly, rolling his head back and forth as he seemed to be working out some kinks. "Maybe I should help you learn how to multitask."

Sin didn't bother to reply and flipped a page in his book.

Silence fell between them again and Sin started getting back into the book. He didn't pay much attention to Boyd, although he could feel that golden brown gaze studying him. After a period of time, Boyd shifted and ran his foot along Sin's leg. The slide of skin against skin seemed to be more as a way to get Sin's attention than anything overtly sensual.

"Hsin?" Boyd watched Sin intently, his eyebrows furrowed the slightest in the center and his eyes thoughtful. "Do you like staying with me? Like here or Monterrey?"

"I hate it," Sin replied automatically. He read the passage he'd been in the middle of before the words filtered through his mind and he glanced up at Boyd. "Why?"

Boyd continued to study Sin before he dropped his gaze to the water, watching the suds rise and disintegrate. He swished a hand through the water, leaving a miniature wake of destruction behind it. "Because I like living with you."

Sin carefully closed his book and dropped it over the side of the tub to the safety of the rug that stretched across the wood floor. "The feeling is mutual," he said at length. Some of his earlier thoughts echoed in his mind and he wondered what Boyd was getting at.

Boyd smiled to himself, appearing pleased. He pushed some suds into a small mound in front of his chest and looked up to meet Sin's eyes. His hands disappeared beneath the layer of suds and he shifted, one foot sliding against the tub floor and briefly brushing against Sin's.

"Well," Boyd continued slowly, tilting his head and flicking his gaze across Sin's face. There was the slightest hint of hesitation and nervousness in his eyes, but his expression remained largely contemplative. "I was thinking it would be really nice living together back home too."

There was a brief moment of silence before Sin closed his eyes again and tilted his head back on the towel. He allowed the warmth of the tub to fully consume his sensations once again even as he replied. "I was thinking the same thing just this morning. However I didn't want to propose it until the new year when the new administration arrives. I didn't think it'd be practical to try doing it now, even if you'd agreed."

"To finalize everything, we probably should wait until we know what they'll allow," Boyd agreed, sounding pleased by Sin's response. "I thought eventually we could buy a place together. But until then, if you ever wanted to stay at my place for awhile I'd like to have you there."

Sin opened his eyes and looked at Boyd with surprise. "You'd leave the house?"

"Yes," Boyd said without hesitation. He ran his foot absently against Sin's underwater and tilted his head. "In fact, I was thinking of selling it if we lived together."

The information was more than a little welcoming and Sin smiled slightly as he took it into consideration. "It isn't that I have something against the house, but I would never want to live there. That was one point of contention when I started thinking about suggesting this. I could never feel like that place is my home."

"I didn't think you would," Boyd said with a nod. Part of his hair was submerged, turning the golden blond a deeper shade on the ends. "I never got the impression you cared for the neighborhood and it would probably feel strange moving into someone else's house."

"More specifically, Vivienne's house." Sin frowned slightly, unnerved by the idea. "It just would not feel normal to live there."

"I hadn't thought of that," Boyd mused, frowning to himself. "I would have wanted to move away anyway, though. Even if she never comes by anymore, I wouldn't want her to suddenly decide to while we're in the middle of something."

Sin sifted his hand over the water, skimming the surface and deflating the suds that the jets continuously made. His expression was thoughtful as he watched the water move around his hand, heavy eyelids low over the pale green of his eyes. "Would you have anything specific in mind to share?"

"I hadn't gotten that far," Boyd admitted with a bemused smile. "I was just hoping you'd say yes."

"Ah." Sin nodded and allowed his mind to wander idly.

There was a part of him that didn't think any of it would ever come to pass but there was another foolishly optimistic part that was looking forward to actually having his own home. He'd never lived anywhere that was his own in over thirty years. He'd never had any kind of haven-- somewhere that he didn't feel uncomfortable or spied on. And along with that came the idle musings about what kind of place he would want.

"Once we know if it'll work under the new administration, I thought we could start looking at postings," Boyd continued, leaning his head back against the edge of the tub. "We could each come up with things we wanted. Maybe you'd want a gym room. I'd love an art studio with maximized natural light..." He trailed off wistfully.

"I don't want a house," Sin replied automatically. "And no suburbs."

"What are you thinking? An apartment in the city?"

A frown pulled at the corners of Sin's full lips. The idea of an apartment in the middle of downtown didn't sound any better. Being forced to live in a single building with two dozen other families was mildly disturbing, especially considering his paranoia about being in the city in general.

"Maybe..." Sin trailed off, thinking. He didn't know what he wanted but he knew exactly what he didn't want. It was quite backwards and irritating. He pictured places he'd stayed in before, attempting to find one that didn't entirely horrify him, and finally said, "Maybe a loft in the industrial district. That's where Ivan lives. His space is very large and I believe he lives in the building alone."

Boyd quirked an eyebrow. "You want to move into Ivan's building?"

Sin stared at him. "No. I was using his place as an example."

"Good," Boyd replied idly. "I think I'd be about as comfortable living in a building with him as you would be living at my mother's old house." He paused and looked at Sin curiously. "Not that I'm opposed to lofts but what's wrong with a house? They're not all in suburban neighborhoods. Is it a house itself you don't want or is it the locations they usually have?"

"I just don't want a house. There's something about them that bothers me. They seem so stifling." Sin's brow furrowed slightly as he tried to explain. "I prefer penthouses and lofts, I think. Wide open spaces and large windows."

Boyd considered that. "That could be nice. The open concept was one thing I liked about our apartment in Monterrey. We could talk no matter where we were."

"You're assuming I consider that a good thing," Sin replied with a smirk, raising his eyebrows at his lover.

"Oh, you'll learn to like it," Boyd drawled, his eyes sparking in amusement. "The fine print for me living with you states that the duties of my mouth are non-negotiable. You get me talking and blowing you or you get nothing at all."

Sin's smirk widened slightly into a grin and he shook his head from side to side. "You're ridiculous."

Boyd chuckled quietly and they lapsed into mutual peaceful silence.

For a long stretch of time Sin drifted into a daze as the jets massaged his back and knots slowly unwound until he was slouching dangerously low in the water in complete relaxation. He looked over at Boyd and saw that his lover was in a similar state. His normally pale skin was flushed from the heat of the water and the steam. His head tilted backwards as he sat with his eyes closed and full lips parted slightly. His blond hair was damp and in some places clung to his face. He looked fucking amazing.

There was something intriguing about looking at Boyd like this. Sin could count on his fingers the amount of times he'd seen Boyd so relaxed and at ease. He was sure Boyd would say the same about him. And as Sin really thought about it, he realized that wasn't always because of the Agency. It didn't always have to do with missions.

Their relationship seemed hectic sometimes, even without external forces pressing down on it. They were both always in a rush to do specific things together, take specific outings or even be together sexually as much as possible. It was like they were going down a list of things they wanted to do together before something inevitably happened to rip them apart. There was rarely any time for them to just enjoy each others' company and relax. As passionate as they were together, their union it seemed also caused considerable tension in both of them.

As the thoughts drifted across Sin's mind he found himself vaguely wondering if it had been easier and more peaceful for Boyd with Kassian. For the first time in a long time, the thought didn't sting. There was no reason for it to. Boyd was his. Boyd loved him. Sin had never been so doubtless about anything in his life.

"Did you have an easier time relaxing with Trovosky?"

Boyd's eyes blinked open and he looked at Sin in clear surprise. "What?"

Sin gave a one shouldered shrug. "Kassian. When you were spending time with him a lot."

Boyd's eyebrows furrowed faintly and he started to grow more alert, some of the dazed relaxation falling away to be replaced by confusion. "You said before that you didn't want to hear about it," he said slowly, eyeballing Sin. "What changed?"

"That was when we first got back together. I still felt unsure of everything and paranoid." Another shrug. "He isn't a threat to me."

There was a moment of silence as Boyd continued to study Sin almost suspiciously. "So you want me to tell you the truth about any of it? I don't want to ruin a nice night if we're going to end up in an argument over something that's over and done with."

There was a beat of silence before Sin said blandly, "I have occasional nightmares about us having a threesome with that meat-head. I'm far from being easily shocked."

"What?" Boyd looked completely taken aback, his eyebrows shooting up. "That's the last thing I thought I'd ever hear from you."

"It isn't exactly a voluntary thing. It's quite horrifying. I usually wake up before he can put his dick in me though." Sin made a revolted expression, his lips twisting in a scowl of disgust.

"So I shouldn't expect to be propositioned for this threesome too in the near future?" Boyd asked jokingly.

Sin stared at Boyd and didn't bother to reply.

Boyd continued to watch Sin in amusement for a moment and then sighed. He pushed himself up more upright in the tub.

"To answer your question-- Yes," he said simply. "I did."


Boyd frowned to himself and seemed to be considering the question. His eyes narrowed faintly and he ran a hand across the suds, absently smoothing them out in front of him.

"I don't know," he said honestly. "I think a lot of it is personality. I never felt like I had to be anyone for him, or prove anything. He didn't care what I did or thought. It made it easier to relax."

"And you felt like you had to be someone for me?" Sin asked with an arched brow. "I liked you before you had a personality."

The comment drew a chuckle out of Boyd. He smiled slightly, although it soon became tinged with pensiveness. "I did, though. I think we tested each other a lot."

Boyd shook his head to himself. "When I think back, I realize I had a subconscious desire to prove to you that not everyone was as horrible as you'd so far experienced. I was the first person who got that close to you and it became a responsibility to me-- you had such deeply ingrained distrust of people that I felt like I couldn't mess up, like if I did it would show you people couldn't be trusted after all."

He drew his eyebrows down as he mused, "Maybe I felt like I had to counteract nearly thirty years of abuse with two years of trying to be a good person." He frowned, destroying the plateau of suds he'd created. "But since I have a lot of my own issues, I was bound to fail."

Sin watched Boyd silently, not entirely sure what he thought about that. He didn't feel like he'd ever pressured Boyd to be a 'good person' but he supposed, Boyd's assumption that Sin needed that mirrored Sin's own assumptions about what Boyd had wanted from him back then.

He'd thought that Boyd's refusal to acknowledge anything wrong in him, whether it be mental or former actions against people, stemmed from Boyd not wanting to see the truth because the truth would possibly be too much for him to handle. That was what had led Sin to go through so much trouble to hide things from Boyd in the first place. How ironic that Boyd's real reasoning had been that he'd felt the need to defend Sin against everything, even when it was something he didn't need defense from.

Sin glanced at Boyd again, not commenting on his thoughts because he didn't want to sidetrack the conversation. Talking so openly about Kassian for the first time brought more questions to mind.

"So you initially became friends with Kassian because you didn't feel pressured around him," he surmised.

Boyd nodded. "I don't think either of us expected to become friends. It just happened, mostly because neither of us cared what the other felt or thought. I didn't care whether Kassian lived up to the image he had at the Agency and because of that he felt like he could relax around me. And he didn't care that I was your partner or Vivienne's son; he just let me be myself."

"Are you implying that I didn't let you be yourself?" Sin asked, a spike of irritation rising inside him.

"No, not at all." Boyd's eyebrows drew down. "If I couldn't be myself around you there's no way we would've worked out. I would never have gotten to where I am now, wanting to live the rest of my life with you."

Mollified by the answer, the irritation bled away into the warm water that surrounded them and Sin relaxed again. It was hard not to when Boyd kept making nonchalant statements like that.

"Okay, so I suppose I understand how your friendship came to be. It makes sense. It even makes sense to me that you hung out with him frequently while we were apart and you were having difficulties. But why did sex have to come into the fray?" He'd tried to ask the question neutrally but as soon as the word 'sex' had left his mouth, it did so with a slight demanding edge.

Sin frowned and shook his head slightly. "I'm not trying to pick a fight. I just want to understand why."

Boyd studied Sin for a moment and then sighed quietly, looking away. He pushed his hair back from his face, water dampening the strands and causing some to clump together. His eyes narrowed but it was a pensive look more than anything, his gaze tracking back and forth minutely as he stared at the wall of the bathroom. He was silent for a few seconds and Sin got the impression that he was formulating his answer.

"I've always been in others' shadows," he said at length. "My whole life. Even when I came to the Agency, no one saw me as Boyd-- I was the Inspector's son, or Sin's partner. I think I've always lived in reference to other people: trying to be who my mother wanted, who Lou liked, who my father loved, who I thought you needed..."

His eyebrows twitched down, followed by the edges of his lips, but when he met Sin's eyes again he only looked thoughtful. "I'd never done anything just for myself. When everything between us fell apart, I was just... so tired of feeling pulled in so many directions. Of always feeling like I wasn't measuring up to what others expected of me. I felt like I needed something simple, meaningless really, that could also distract me from how miserable I otherwise would have been. Kassian said he was interested in me but I didn't think much about it until one night when it came up again and I needed that release."

His lips pulled down into a frown. "I honestly never meant to hurt you, Hsin. I never would have hurt you on purpose."

Sin studied the younger man silently for a moment. It was a sore point in their relationship and likely something that would always bother him even if he didn't hold a grudge over it. But at least now he understood to an extent.

However Kassian aside, there was still something about the entire time period that bothered him. Despite the fact that Boyd had felt that he'd "needed" the release of being with Kassian, the thoughtlessness of the entire situation and several other things he'd said around the same time had made him seem completely uncaring about anyone's feelings but his own. At certain points, Sin had felt like he hadn't even known Boyd at all.

After a pause he said, "You seemed very different during that time. Even before the Ann thing. You just seemed... different after you went into training."

"I'd never been accepted by others before." Boyd paused and shook his head. "It sounds stupid, but it's true. I'd always been the one on the side, ignored or harassed. Even at the Agency, people hated me before they even knew me because of my mother, because I was in the Janus unit, even because I was your partner. I'd never been on such even ground with my peers before, never even realized it was possible for people to see me as me and seem to actually value my opinion for once. It was... a bit of a relief."

He trailed off briefly and then grimaced. When he continued, the way the explanation was so calmly said, without hesitation or avoidance, led Sin to believe that Boyd had thought about this enough to have identified the issues in the last several months.

"The problem is, I went too far. I got lost in my autonomy and became selfish in the process. I thought about myself, my training, and not anyone else. I didn't realize what it was doing to you." He searched Sin's eyes, his gaze regretful and sincere. "Regardless of why I started that with Kassian and why it continued, I should have been more sensitive to how it would make you feel. I never should've said such hurtful things. I was wrong and I'm sorry."

There was a brief pause before Sin nodded slightly, glad that Boyd had acknowledged what had been nagging at Sin for months. He'd begun to wonder if Boyd hadn't noticed what he'd been like at times back then and had worried that without knowing the cause of it all, it could happen again the next time they got into a bad fight.

"At any rate," Boyd continued after a pause, "it was inevitable that all of that would change after awhile. I'm too naturally introverted to handle being social for long."

A slight smirk graced Sin's lips again. "I've noticed. I think Captain America has too. He made some side comment about not seeing you much anymore."

Boyd smiled faintly. "That would be a side effect, yes," he said mildly. "Although you're part of it too. I've been so happy to be back with you that lately I haven't thought about much else."

"As much as I loathe to say this," Sin drawled, rolling his eyes. "I don't really think you should neglect your other... people, because we are together again. You'll end up where you were before."

"I was thinking that earlier, actually," Boyd said, tilting his head. "It was never a conscious decision to avoid anyone else; I just got wrapped up in being with you. I'm going to call Kassian when we get back, though. I'm worried about him."

"The meat-head will be fine."

"I'm sure he will but I'm still going to check," Boyd said idly, resting his head back against the side of the tub and closing his eyes.

Sin didn't reply and Boyd didn't speak again immediately. Silence fell between them once again, aided by the heat and the jets of the jacuzzi. Boyd's eyes remained closed but his eyebrows drew down and it wasn't long before he opened his eyes to watch Sin.

"There's something I've never understood," he said with a faint frown.

Sin glanced at him again, raising an eyebrow. "About what?"

"Ann," Boyd replied simply. "How did you two ever get close in the first place? She hated you."

There was a beat of silence where Sin realized that Boyd had never heard important parts of the story of what had happened during his training. It was strange considering a large amount of time had passed since then. It only showed how poor their communication skills could be.

He observed Boyd for a while as he tried to figure out where to start the story before asking, "Did I ever tell you that I'd begun visiting Lydia some time ago?"

"No. You only mentioned you'd thought about it."

Sin nodded, thinking back to the time he'd mentioned it briefly. "I was feeling out the conversation because I wasn't sure what you would think if I told you the truth. You were so passionate about how pointless it would be that I decided against it, though."

"I didn't say it'd be pointless; I said she didn't deserve it after what she did," Boyd said with a shrug. "So you were already visiting her?"

"Yes, I'd started going every now and then. I was having nightmares about her, Jessica... everyone, pretty much." Sin frowned slightly, not wanting to relive those nightmares and feeling relieved when they didn't start flashing through his mind. "I'm not sure why I started visiting her. The entire situation seemed very surreal to me for a while. I knew what I'd done to her but I suppose I wanted to go there and see the proof of what I was capable of in person. After the first time, I felt compelled to come back. I'm still unsure why."

He looked at Boyd again. "In any case, Ann found out I was going."

"She wasn't mad?" Boyd asked doubtfully.

"She was at first," Sin replied, thinking about the incident in Lydia's room when Ann had glared at him with such contempt. "But it was more over the fact that she believed me being there could possibly make Lydia worse somehow than her believing I meant harm. By that time she had already seemed to have accepted that I wasn't the unrepentant bastard she'd always assumed me to be."

"Why would she suddenly change her mind about that years later?"

"Well, I doubt it was sudden. She said it had happened over a period of time. And she had viewed the tape of the incident at some point, which apparently proved to her that her sister had been responsible for my condition at the time of the incident."

A frown marred Sin's face and he ran a hand through his damp hair. "That was what led her to want my case after the incident in the elevator. If she hadn't taken it, no one would have and I'm not sure where I would be now. The only reason I have a doctor now is because he's from the new batch of Euro division staff."

Boyd was silent for a moment before he spoke again. "That explains how she became your doctor but you still didn't say why you two had sex."

"Because I was falling apart at the seams and I felt completely isolated from everyone. I turned to her out of desperation to forget everything. And I turned to her again because when I felt like a complete monster, someone touching me and being kind to me helped. It's not an excuse for my behavior but those were my reasons at the time. Had I known what would have happened, I wouldn't have allowed myself to react that way."

There was another long beat of silence and then Boyd nodded. "Okay."

They looked at each other for a long moment, and then Sin sat up. He swung his legs over the side of the tub and stood up. He wrapped the towel around his waist and looked down at Boyd. "I want to get my foot out of this hot water for awhile. Are you staying in?"

"No." Boyd got out as well, grabbing his towel and starting to dry off.

Sin padded out of the bathroom and across the short hall into their bedroom. With a low sigh, he stretched out across the king-sized bed and propped his foot up on the frame.

After a few minutes, Boyd walked in. His hair was still damp and the occasional droplet of water glistened on his skin where he'd missed it while drying off. The towel was nowhere to be seen and he hadn't bothered to put any of his clothes on again. His gaze flicked along Sin's length, pausing briefly on his ankle before returning to Sin's eyes.

"Mind if I join you?"

"Not at all." Sin turned his head slightly to look back at Boyd.

Boyd crawled onto the bed next to Sin. He remained sitting up, looking down at Sin's foot while leaning back on his hand. "How's your foot?"

"Swollen. I should probably be icing it down but I can't be bothered." Sin shifted slightly and rested his face against the pillow. "My back is beginning to ache though, likely related from the fall. It's amazing how emphasized the slightest pain feels when I'm completely relaxed."

Sin could feel the depression in the mattress when Boyd shifted next to him.

"Do you want a massage?"

There was a brief pause as Sin debated his answer. After awhile a small half-smile played on his lips and he shot his lover a look. "Will it be just a massage?"

Boyd smirked. "Well, I can't make any guarantees..."

Chuckling quietly, Sin settled down on his stomach. He rested his arms on the pillow and turned his head to the side, his cheek against his forearms and eyes closing once again.

Boyd knelt beside Sin, hovering over him. It wasn't long before Sin felt Boyd's hands rest on his shoulders and slide down his back. It was a sensual touch that dragged back up to his shoulders, where the massage began.

Boyd's fingers strengthened, pressing down and working at the sore muscles. He moved steadily down Sin's back, alternating between rubbing his thumbs in powerful circles and kneading the muscles.

"Mmm," Sin said appreciatively. He hadn't seen the use in massages until Boyd had forced one on him one night after a particularly brutal mission.

"Am I hitting the right spots?" Boyd murmured, his voice low and lulling.

Sin felt his dick respond to the combination of Boyd's hands and voice but he ignored it. He ran his teeth over his bottom lip and released a slow exhalation of breath. He was determined to prove to himself that he could be in an intimate setting with Boyd without it always resorting to sex. He could do it. He would.

"Yes," he said belatedly.

"Good," Boyd said in the same tone.

His hands moved lower, pressing into the muscles in Sin's lower back. Sin could feel Boyd shift behind him for better access. He leaned forward even though it wasn't necessary, drawing close enough for his warm breath to faintly curl against Sin's neck.

"Boyd," Sin said from where his mouth was pressed against his arm. "Be good."

Boyd chuckled lowly and tilted his head, brushing his lips against Sin's neck. Sin could feel Boyd's still-damp hair fall against his shoulder.

"Why?" His voice had a definite husky quality to it.

"Because I'm determined to not fuck you at the moment and if you keep behaving that way, I will have very little choice."

"What's wrong with fucking me?" he murmured against Sin's neck. His breath was warm; his lips a brief caress. The pressure of his hands lessened, turning into more of a sliding motion.

Sin felt himself getting harder but he ignored it, responding neutrally, "I'm attempting to prove to myself and you that we are capable of not having sex in an intimate setting."

"Why do we have to be capable of that?" Boyd asked, sliding one hand so low that his fingers brushed the top of Sin's ass.

Sin rolled onto his back so that he was facing Boyd again. "Because you had commented some time ago that one of the reasons you'd begun to have doubts about our relationship in the past was because it had become all about us fucking every time we were alone."

Boyd shifted and hovered over Sin, his fingers absently kneading Sin's shoulders. His gaze was heavy-lidded and focused on Sin's mouth, his full lips parting.

"True," he murmured and looked up to meet Sin's eyes with desire clear in his eyes. "But we'll have plenty of time to prove that when we aren't alone in a cabin with the woods as soundproofing."

"Boyd," Sin said reproachfully. "I'm serious."

Boyd paused and partially straightened his back. He looked at Sin in assessment and, noting the steadiness of Sin's expression, a disappointed look crossed his face but he still pulled his hands away. He leaned back and didn't make a move to touch Sin again.

"I don't think we need to worry about that anymore, but okay. If you're concerned, I'll stop."

They looked at each other silently for a sullen stretch of time before Sin shook his head and pulled his lover down on top of him. He rested his arms across Boyd's lower back. "I'm still unsure of a lot of things. I don't entirely know what I'm doing so I'm trying to be careful."

Boyd sighed. He held his upper body away from Sin's by resting his forearms on Sin's chest. His fingers sifted through Sin's hair. "I'm confident we'll make it indefinitely if it's up to us but I'm worried about what we can't control. About what could take you away from me. I don't want to miss any chances with you. It makes me not want to miss one second while we're finally completely alone."

Sin turned his head and looked out the window. It had already gotten dark outside and he could only make out the barest hints of shadows through the tight clusters of trees. They were completely and utterly alone except for the handful of other couples who were also staying somewhere on the grounds. The feeling of isolation from the rest of the world was strong and his hand slipped down Boyd's back, rubbing the smooth skin slowly.

He felt Boyd settle down on his chest, his breath curling out against Sin's bare skin.

For a moment he could only wonder what it would be like if they could stay. What would it be like if it really was just the two of them alone in a place where no one knew them? What would it be like if they weren't in the Agency?

In that moment, Kassian didn't matter, Ann didn't matter-- none of it did.

"I want it to be like this forever," he admitted finally, his full mouth drawing down at the sides. "I'm sick of being a captive. I'm sick of always expecting to disappear any moment and never see you again."

Boyd's fingers tightened against Sin briefly and he shook his head. "I wish that wasn't such a real possibility. It was hard enough losing Lou and my dad but I feel closer to you than anyone in my life."

His voice dropped as he said quietly, "I don't know what I'd do if I lost you."

Sin turned his eyes back to Boyd, eyebrows drawing together. "You'd keep doing what you have to do," he said forcefully. "Right?"

There was a moment of silence and then Boyd pushed himself up enough to see Sin. His eyes were somber, his mouth pulled down faintly at the edges. He studied Sin's face, a serious expression he usually got when he was committing something to memory, and met Sin's eyes.

"I love you more than I've ever loved anyone, Hsin," he said soberly. "It would be really hard. But I promise, if you die I'll keep going."

A feeling swelled inside of Sin that he didn't entirely understand and he had to once again drag his eyes away. His brows drew together and he opened his mouth to say something but he didn't know what to say. There was a heaviness inside of him that was depressing and disturbing but it was accompanied by an almost simultaneous surge of affection for his partner.

In the end he just shook his head and leaned up slightly, pressing his lips against Boyd's forehead. "I think I'm going to get some rest," he said finally. "Do you want to stay?"

"Yes," Boyd said quietly.

He rolled off Sin and briefly disappeared into the cabin to shut off any lights that had remained on. Sin had the blankets pulled down by the time Boyd came back into the bedroom. Boyd flipped the light off in the room on his way to the bed, where he crawled under the covers with his partner.

They shifted until they were comfortable. Boyd ended up half sprawled on Sin, one arm loosely wrapped around his side, his cheek resting against the left side of Sin's chest.

Silence fell between them for a few moments. Sin could feel Boyd's breath curl against his bare skin and the faint, steady tempo of his heartbeat against his side. Sin slid his eyes closed and he was on his way to relaxing completely when Boyd's quiet voice broke the stillness.



There was a pause and then:

"What if something happens to me first? What would you do?"

Sin shifted in the bed and pulled Boyd closer to him. "I don't know."

Boyd's arm tightened and his face shifted until his ear was more directly over Sin's heart. "I wouldn't want my death to destroy you," he said quietly, sadly.

Sin had no response and as the minutes passed, the combination of warmth and the hypnotic sound of even, undisturbed breathing lulled them to sleep.

Continue to Making It Count - Part IV