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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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Interlude 3.9

Uploaded on 7/5/2009

Although Boyd had been in Sin's apartment a few times in the last several months, it hadn't exactly been in relaxing conditions. Today however, he had the opportunity to just lean back in the couch and take in how familiar the place was. Sin's apartment hadn't changed much in all the years Boyd had known him. The same furniture, the same lack of decent food in the cupboards.

It was sort of like coming home to him, because he and Sin were finally at a point where they were becoming comfortable around each other again.

When silence fell between them, it wasn't awkward or extended as they tried to figure out what to say next. Things were becoming more like the way it used to be; before all the uncertainty and miscommunication had essentially ripped them apart. When Boyd had first told Sin he wanted to be friends again, this was becoming what he'd meant so he was pleased to know they were still capable of it.

In addition to that, their unit was also shifting closer toward what it had once been. Almost three months had passed since Kassian was on the first mission with them in Canada, and it had become clear over the course of the trial that Boyd and Kassian could not be partners.

Although they got along great as friends and typically had no troubles during the missions, they still got into several disagreements over time about mission planning, execution, and follow-up.

In truth Boyd was glad Kassian had decided not to accept the transfer; it would have been too stressful for both of them and probably would have strained their friendship.

Carhart had informed Boyd and Sin that they were to remain partners which, Boyd had to admit, he was happy about. Despite the different way they operated, Sin was familiar to him and even with everything that had happened between them romantically and emotionally, they still clicked when it came to work.

Boyd watched Sin as he sat on the counter and poured more cereal into the bowl he was already eating from. The cereal seemed to be more marshmallow bits and sugar than anything healthy and Boyd couldn't find it in himself to be surprised. How Sin managed to live his life on junk food all the time was still beyond Boyd, who remained on his high protein diet to maintain the muscle he'd gained.

"Isn't that your third bowl?" Boyd asked in dry amusement.

Sin shrugged, spooning some of the cereal out of the bowl. "I'm hungry."

"I can't help thinking if you'd eaten something with more substance in the first place maybe you wouldn't need so many bowls," Boyd observed.

"This tastes better," Sin replied. "Would taste even better if there was real milk."

Boyd nodded, unable to argue that point about the milk at least. He watched Sin idly for a few moments before he leaned back more fully on the couch, kicking his feet out in front of him and resting his arms across the back. The microsuede fabric of the couch felt cool against his bare arms.

The weather was getting much warmer as June came to a close and Boyd had started wearing t-shirts even around the Agency. Although his pants and scuffed boots were still black, his leather trench coat was nestled deep in his closet. He'd even found a deep red t-shirt to wear that hearkened back to the days when Lou had been alive.

"Have you talked to Emilio yet?" Boyd asked curiously after a few moments of mutual silence.

Sin's eyes focused on Boyd as he chewed slowly. "No. I don't want to talk to him."

Boyd wasn't surprised by the answer; Sin was avoiding his father and Emilio complained about it about half the times Boyd saw him. Emilio wasn't even allowed a cellphone yet, which he wasn't happy about. When Boyd had asked why Emilio hadn't just stopped by Sin's apartment if he wanted to talk to him so much, Emilio had mentioned that Carhart had told him to lay off Sin for awhile.

As a result, Boyd ended up being the messenger between Sin and Emilio-- relaying information, questions, items... Even when Boyd had told Sin about the money situation, Sin had set up a separate account, transferred the money over to it, and given Boyd the card to give to Emilio.

It didn't bother Boyd to be doing this and he wasn't surprised by Sin's disinterest in being around his father, but it couldn't last forever.

"I don't mind being the go-between but just so you know, it sounds like he's going to be reinstated within the next week or two." Boyd tilted his head slightly, blond hair falling against the side of his face. "And since you're staying in the unit you're going to have to see him sometime." He shrugged, dropping his arms from the back of the couch and slouching forward slightly. "You may want to start preparing yourself."

"I'm aware of the fact that I'll have to see him soon but that doesn't mean I need to speak to him any other time." Sin finished his cereal and dropped the bowl on the counter, sliding off the side of it to stand. "He seems to think I should give him a chance but as far as I'm concerned after twenty years, there is no real reason for him to try to make an attempt at some relationship with me."

"It's a fair point," Boyd agreed. "I was mostly referring to when you'd have to be around him."

Sin just shrugged and leaned against the counters, crossing his arms over the faded and ripped tshirt he wore.

Silence briefly fell between them and Boyd watched Sin thoughtfully.

"You know, I've been wondering," Boyd said casually after a moment. "Do you prefer to be called Hsin?"

Sin raised an eyebrow. "What makes you ask that after all this time?"

"I don't know." Boyd shrugged then sat forward further, drawing his legs closer to the couch and resting his forearms on his knees. His honey brown gaze was steady as he met Sin's eyes and his expression remained casual. "Well. I ran into Ivan and he's using it constantly. He said you said it was fine and I guess it surprised me. It made me wonder if you didn't care either way or if you wanted to be called that."

Sin seemed to consider the question as he studied Boyd thoughtfully. After a moment he just shrugged. "It throws me off guard when people call me by my real name since it hasn't been used regularly in nearly sixteen years. I prefer it that way now because I don't wish the people on the compound to address me in such a familiar way anymore but I don't mind for certain people to use it. Ivan seemed offended by the name Sin and asked if he could call me by my real name and since he and I get along very well, I saw no reason to say no."

"Why offended?" Boyd raised his eyebrows slightly. He could understand how the name could have potentially offended Sin awhile ago but Ivan barely knew Sin so why would he care?

"Because the name stuck not only due to mispronunciation, but because they were implying that my existence is a sin and therefore it was an ongoing way to put me down. It doesn't bother me anymore but he didn't want to perpetuate something that started based on that, I guess."

Sin pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket but didn't actually take one out.

Boyd nodded, wondering whether it had bothered Sin even when they'd first met. Boyd didn't see the name Sin as an insult or he wouldn't have been using it all along but even so, it may have been another example of a time when Boyd didn't think of what Sin wanted.

"Who else don't you mind using it, then?" Boyd asked after a moment.

Sin toyed with the pack of cigarettes idly before he set them on the counter without extracting one. He'd mentioned to Boyd that he was trying to give up the habit but apparently it wasn't coming that easily to him. "I don't know. The only people who ever call me that are you, Ryan, Carhart and my father. And now Ivan."

There was another brief pause before Boyd asked, "So if I ever decided to call you that all the time, you wouldn't care?"

Sin made a face at Boyd. "Why the hell would I care if you called me that when I told Ivan it was okay?"

Boyd shook his head to himself and leaned back against the couch. "I don't know. I was just checking."

"When did you run into him, anyway?" Sin asked, giving up on his decision and finally grabbing a cigarette.

"Earlier this month," Boyd said, gaze briefly caught by Sin's long, olive-toned fingers contrasted against the bright white of the cigarette. He thought about reminding Sin of his decision to quit but decided against it so he wouldn't seem like he was nagging Sin. "He was in the training room."

Sin pulled a book of matches out of a drawer and struck one against the back of the book, inhaling deeply as the tip of the cigarette began to burn red. He exhaled after a moment, watching Boyd through the smoke that drifted in front of him. "Oh. He never mentioned it."

Boyd shrugged, looking up to meet Sin's eyes so he couldn't get distracted by the cigarette, by Sin's lips. "Well, it wasn't exactly a social call so he may not have felt the need. He was being harassed by some assholes I knew from back when it got out that I'm gay. I went over to tell them to leave."

Sin's eyebrows rose slightly and he leaned back against the counter again, taking another drag as he watched Boyd. "Did it have anything to do with me?"

"I don't think entirely. It sounds like he never denies he's gay if anyone brings it up, and since they assume he is based on how he looks, I'd guess that happens often." Boyd shifted and crossed his arms. "But they did make a comment about you two. He said people have seen you together and he sees no reason to deny anything."

"There is no reason," Sin replied with a shrug. "It's not like people actually know what we do when we're alone but I wouldn't give a shit if they did and he has the same attitude. I think that's part of the reason why we get along so well."

"What do you do?" Boyd asked, watching Sin with the same casual expression he was determined to keep, to hide his thoughts. Even though he knew Sin'd had sex with Ivan at least once, that still didn't account for what they did the rest of the time and part of Boyd was morbidly curious, wondering what Ivan did differently or the same. "When you're alone."

Sin didn't answer immediately and flicked ashes into the sink although he continued to study Boyd. After a moment he brought the cigarette to his lips again and said, "I don't know. Different things."

Boyd was silent a moment, gaze steady on Sin before he said calmly, "I know you've had sex. I'm not asking about that. I was wondering what you do when you just hang around... if you do that." He paused briefly then added, "But if you don't want to tell me, I'll drop the subject."

Sin's green eyes narrowed slightly at Boyd and once again he didn't reply for an extended moment. This time he slowly put the cigarette out on the inside of the sink and put the rest aside. "Yes, we hang around but we don't do any specific activities whenever I see him. We talk, he tells me his conspiracy theories about the Agency, he likes to go out and explore the bombed out suburbs and outer towns so I've gone with him a few times. We also share a lot of the same interests as far as reading and he's started getting me to watch old television shows with him and movies. Just... things."

There was a brief moment of silence as Boyd took that in. "Are you enjoying yourself?" Boyd asked after a brief pause, feeling genuinely curious.

Sin just shrugged and didn't look particularly moved by the question. "I suppose."

"That's good," Boyd said with a nod, actually meaning it.

Sin continued to stare at him with the same narrow-eyed expression before asking, "How is it that you know anything about my sex life?"

Boyd studied Sin for a moment, almost wanting to break eye contact but not letting himself.

"I probably would have had an idea anyway in the training room. He was wearing a tank top and you leave... distinctive bruises sometimes." Boyd's eyes narrowed only a hint, almost thoughtfully, before he continued. "But I knew even before then because Ivan told Ryan, who told me."

Sin shook his head and pushed himself away from the counter. "Well maybe Ryan should learn to mind his business."

Boyd had to admit that it was true and he nodded. If Sin had wanted Boyd to know, he would have told him. That hadn't really occurred to Boyd when he'd ended up pressing Ryan for more information.

"Maybe. I don't think he meant anything wrong by it," Boyd said with a slight frown after a hesitant pause. His eyes were narrowed in thought. "At first he thought you'd already told me. It's probably the only reason he brought it up."

Sin just made a face in response. "I don't see why either of you would sit there discussing these things, anyway."

Boyd sighed and pushed hair back from his face. "I don't know. I know it's not really any of my business anymore, it's just..." It's just that sometimes I wonder if you like Ivan more, he almost wanted to say.

Instead, he trailed off and shook his head. "Forget it. I'm sorry. I should ask you directly if anything ever comes up related to you, so you have the ability to decide what to say or not to say."

There was a brief silence before Sin shrugged dismissively. "It doesn't matter. I wasn't trying to hide anything from you. I would have told you if it ever had reason to come up, but the idea of you and Ryan sitting around chatting about something like that is very irritating to me. But it's done now, so whatever."

Boyd nodded, feeling somewhat relieved that they could get past the subject.

Sin turned away and ran the water in the sink, rinsing out the dishes that sat there. "Somehow that reminded me of something I meant to tell you," he said after a moment. "There's this bookstore that I've been going to-- they have a stationary store attached to it with a lot of art supplies. I thought you may be interested since you've started drawing again."

"Really?" Boyd asked, sitting up straighter as he looked at Sin, his eyes brightening in interest. "I don't think I've seen it yet. Where is it?"

"It's downtown, called Grover Books." Sin washed the bowls he'd used and set them to the side, wiping his wet hands against his jeans. "I found it accidentally when I was wandering around-- it looks like a hole in the wall judging by the entrance but it's a rather large bookstore. They seem to specialize in hard-to-find literature and periodicals that aren't typically carried by a mainstream bookseller. The art supply shop is inside of it."

"That sounds like a place I'd really like," Boyd mused, finding himself intrigued by the description. He was interested in the bookstore alone but especially with the art store attached, he could imagine himself getting lost in a place like that. He drew his eyebrows down thoughtfully. "I thought I'd found all the great little stores like that but I guess not." He hesitated briefly, glancing at Sin before he casually asked, "Would you want to go sometime?"

"That's why I mentioned it," Sin replied with a shrug although he glanced over at Boyd almost hesitantly. "Well, I figured I could show it to you since it's hard to spot," he added.

A genuine smile grew on Boyd's face. "Yeah, I'd like that."

Sin's mouth twitched up slightly and he opened his mouth to reply but before he could say anything, someone knocked on the door.

Sin's eyebrows drew together and he frowned slightly before going to the front door and looking through the peep hole. He didn't hesitate before moving to unlock the door, swinging it open. "What are you doing here?" he asked in a curious tone, stepping aside as Ivan entered the room.

Ivan raised his eyebrows at Sin, tucking his hands into the pockets of his army green jacket. His blond hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail and his wire-rimmed glasses perched on his nose. "Obviously you've forgotten but--"

Ivan broke off when his eyes finally fell on Boyd. A slight frown crossed his face and he glanced at Sin before looking back at Boyd with a slight sigh. "Hello there."

Boyd raised his eyebrows slightly, disconcerted by Ivan's sudden appearance and timing. The first time Sin had suggested a place to hang out, the first time it seemed like Boyd would get the chance to do something fun with Sin again-- and Ivan had to appear. Although it was entirely possible they wouldn't have gone today anyway, it still caught him off guard.

"Hello," Boyd greeted Ivan then looked between the two. "Forgotten what?"

"Well," Ivan started, shifting his backpack on his shoulders and giving Sin a mildly exasperated look. "We were supposed to go to Lorde Hill together today, take the train out to Jamesville and stuff."

Sin stared at him blankly before he frowned. "Oh. I did forget."

Boyd looked over at Sin, feeling the uncertainty and discomfort he'd tried so hard to stifle rearing up again. Lorde Hill was an old prison community that had been turned into a museum; it was located just outside the city of Jamesville and was over four hours away.

"All day?" Boyd asked, the slightest hint of doubt in his voice.

Ivan gave him an odd look and raised an eyebrow. "Yes. The plan was to head out around now and either stay the night in Jamesville or try to catch the late train back. They run on an abbreviated schedule these days so if we miss the last one out, we won't have a way of getting back, which is why I'd mentioned it on a few days that I knew we both had downtime."

He turned his gaze back to Sin with a slight frown. "I mean you don't have to go if you changed your mind."

Sin shook his head, frowning slightly. "I didn't change my mind-- I just forgot."

Boyd looked over at Sin again, unable to ignore the changes that had seemed to occur in Sin within the last few months.

Sin was already willing to spend the night with Ivan. Maybe they already had; maybe they did that often. It made their friendship seem deeper, even more so than the fact that they were having sex. It made it seem like they were moving towards a real relationship, the kind that Boyd and Sin had never had the opportunity to experience.

The facts all added up to something greater than the individual parts; something that was impossible to ignore. It made Boyd feel distinctly uncomfortable and, even though no words had been spoken to the effect, unwelcome.

It was the first time in a long time that Boyd felt alienated in Sin's presence on any level.

Boyd wasn't prepared for how hard that thought hit him. He had to look away from Sin's face, from those so-familiar features now focused on someone else.

He kept his expression neutral and casual, although the happiness that had been there before Ivan's arrival had slid away. He stood up and automatically glanced around to see if he'd brought anything with him.

He could feel Sin's eyes on him once again and there was nearly awkward silence between the two of them before Ivan said in his typically mild tone, "I can go on my own if you're busy now."

Despite the fact that Ivan's voice didn't convey any irritation at the possibility, a slight frown crossed his face but he looked away from Sin quickly as though wanting to hide the flash of disappointment.

Sin's gaze switched from Boyd to Ivan and he absently began to pull on a loose string at the hem of his shirt. He seemed hesitant to speak as he opened his mouth, closed it, and furrowed his brows slightly as if not knowing what to do.

But in the end he shook his head. "No, you planned this over a week ago and I doubt I'll have consecutive days of downtime again for a couple of months. Boyd and I were going to go to the bookstore but we can do that any time."

Ivan nodded and he smiled slightly before glancing at Boyd again.

Boyd couldn't argue with the logic of Sin's decision and he knew it was nothing personal but it still didn't make him feel much better. Moments like the one they'd been having weren't something that could be planned and had been so infrequent in the past year that it didn't matter what the circumstances were... having to leave just hit home even harder that things had changed.

Ivan watched Boyd evenly without much of an expression. Although Boyd couldn't tell what Ivan was thinking, it was most likely Boyd's mild resentfulness toward the other man's presence that made him assume that Ivan probably felt smug on some level. After all, there had been a time when Sin would have chosen Boyd above anyone else and now it was Boyd who had to leave.

Determined not to make it seem like a big deal, Boyd broke eye contact to grab his keys off the table. As he stood up straight, he glanced briefly at Sin to acknowledge him again.

"Well, you're obviously on a schedule so I'll get out of your way," Boyd said calmly to both of them and turned toward the door.

Ivan shrugged noncommittally but Sin's eyes narrowed and his full lips turned down into a slight frown. He once again appeared uncertain about something but in the end just said, "I'll talk to you later."

Boyd nodded and brought his hand up in a brief wave, saying simply, "Sounds good. Have fun." He walked out the door and let it fall shut behind him.

He'd learned his lesson since R2I: not to let his expression so much as twitch after he left Sin's apartment even if he was upset. So he casually glanced toward the guard and nodded then headed down the stairs calmly as if nothing was wrong, as if none of what had just happened bothered him.

As he headed toward his car, he felt the troubled, self-doubtful feeling settle in even deeper.

What did it mean that Ivan and Sin seemed to have more in common each time Boyd was presented with their interaction? What did it mean that Sin was so quickly willing to do things with Ivan that Boyd had struggled to reach and, in some cases, had never really achieved?

He didn't know how to interpret it; whether the fact that Sin seemed so comfortable and close to Ivan after such a short time had more to do with Ivan or if it was more to do with circumstances. He didn't know how much would have been different if he and Ivan had switched places-- whether it all would have turned out better and faster if Ivan had been Sin's partner instead, or whether Boyd was being unfair in even wondering that.

After all, it was easy to say Sin was opening up so quickly to Ivan compared to how he had to Boyd, but the circumstances were so different, even including how Boyd had been at the time too. At the time they'd met he hadn't been interested in opening up either.

What it really came down to was Ivan made Boyd self-conscious and uncertain; and, at a time when Boyd was trying harder than ever to improve and to be a good friend to Sin, it made it harder to know what to do.

Yet the fact remained that in other comparisons, there was a significant difference that made Boyd uncomfortable.

Ivan and Sin weren't like it was with Boyd and Kassian. They weren't just using each other for casual sex. This was more like dating, this was Ivan wanting and liking Sin specifically, and Sin...

Sin not telling Boyd what he thought, what he wanted.

Maybe Sin didn't know now but things like this moved slowly with Sin. Even if Sin didn't have strong feelings for Ivan now, who was to say he wouldn't feel it in the future?

Boyd couldn't help comparing himself to Ivan in these circumstances and he realized with a feeling that made his heart clench that he really had no way of fighting back. Ivan and Boyd had enough general similarities in their physical appearances that there was no point comparing and if it was a question of personality...

Boyd was who he was.

He'd tried so hard to change over the past few years, especially since level 10 training and after he'd realized how he'd fucked up with Sin, but there were some parts of himself that were inherent.

And maybe that wasn't good enough.

Maybe Boyd had lost Sin the moment Sin had met Ivan.

That thought hit Boyd harder than he was expecting. He finally reached his car and unlocked it with the key fob, sliding into the car and shutting the door behind him even though he didn't immediately put the key in the ignition.

Instead, his gaze was briefly caught by Sin's building; by the window that he knew was in Sin's living room, and by wondering what they were doing in there right now. Had Sin already dismissed Boyd's presence? Was he packing for the trip and already talking to Ivan casually; was Ivan already making him laugh?

Pain sharpened in Boyd abruptly, an almost suffocating feeling that he immediately shoved back down-- annoyed with himself, resentful of Ivan, and stupidly hurt that Sin had connected so strongly with someone else so quickly. At the same time he had to acknowledge how stupid it had been of him to have expected Sin to be okay with his relationship with Kassian. Even though what they had was casual, Boyd now understood how much it could hurt.

Back when Boyd had said that he and Sin needed to work on their issues, he realized now that all along in the back of his mind he'd been thinking that they would work on them together or for each other. He'd thought that Sin would see what Boyd had meant about their flaws and if Sin decided to fix his own problems, it would be with Boyd still in his mind-- the way it was for Boyd still thinking of Sin.

He'd thought maybe this would be an opportunity to become stronger on their own so maybe... maybe sometime in the future, maybe if they were both dedicated-- maybe it would make them stronger together. Maybe even enough to mend their otherwise damaged relationship.

Yet he hadn't said anything to Sin, hadn't dared even think about the thought too clearly on his own, because he hadn't wanted to depend on that. He hadn't been certain that either of them had it in them to change enough for anything to be plausible; that they would be willing to even try.

But now he knew he was willing to work on some things and now he knew that Sin was too, that Sin was capable of change-- but that he was changing with or for someone else.

Boyd tilted his head forward briefly, blond hair curtaining his face. His shoulders were tense and his fingers tightened on the steering wheel before he looked up again and made himself loosen his grip. He forced his expression into casual neutrality once more before he started the car and looked over his shoulder to start to back out of the parking spot and leave the Agency.

The sadness within him was undeniable, and it was equally undeniable to him that even now he couldn't say any of this to Sin.

Because regardless of what Boyd wanted or thought, the fact remained that Ivan seemed to be doing things faster and better than Boyd. That, as much as it hurt to acknowledge, Ivan may very well be better for Sin overall. That maybe Ivan could make Sin happier.

And especially because of that, Boyd had no right to say anything.

He wouldn't sabotage Ivan and Sin's relationship, especially not for his own gain. If anything, as much as it made him uncomfortable and self-doubtful and it sometimes felt painful, he would stay out of the way.

Continue to the next interlude: 3.10, Backwards Compatible