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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 3.4

Uploaded on 6/7/2009

Enemy. My enemy, your enemy-- the enemy. This term has become convoluted to the extent of abstraction and one can never be certain of what exactly it means.

I watched Jaime rail against the enemy-- against people he didn't know, people he didn't understand, and define them with information that he has been spoonfed by an oligopoly that tells us what to think.

"Good choice."

Sin looked up from the page he'd just flipped to and his gaze focused on Ivan. He was looking down at Sin with one of his subtle half-smiles on his face, holding a disc and a backpack, dressed in his typically grungy uniform of cargo pants tucked into beat up combat boots and a too-big t-shirt under an open flannel shirt.

Ivan shrugged the green camo-colored backpack onto one shoulder after he slipped the disc away inside the front pocket, looking at Sin through the blond hair that still managed to escape his backwards cap.

"Excuse me?" Sin asked, sitting up in the arm chair he'd been sprawled in as he shut the book and let it sit on the arm of the chair.

He'd grown bored of the white walls of his apartment, something that had been occurring lately after months of isolating himself from the rest of the world, and had come to the library on the fourteenth floor to start on the second book from his newly acquired collection.

Ivan pointed at the book-- a thin paperback edition that was matte black with the title in white cursive letters. "The Egress of Word, by Ian Stone. I have the first edition-- the hardcover. It's brilliant."

Sin looked down at the book and raised an eyebrow, somehow unsurprised that Ivan was familiar with the work. It was the memoir of a man who had lived through the bombing of New York City only to join the military and be sent out to fight in Europe. The book was a retelling of his experiences and an explanation as to how it had all led to him becoming one of the biggest advocates for direct democracy in the United States instead of the representative democracy that existed now.

In the past few weeks it had somehow happened that Sin and Ivan had run into each other a handful of times. Each time, Sin had forced himself to respond to the man with something other than his typical sarcasm and disinterest and each time, Sin had found himself in an extended conversation with the R&D agent. It hadn't taken long to realize that Ivan was a very politically cynical person and Sin wasn't surprised that he'd read something by Stone.

"It's interesting," Sin said when the silence stretched and Ivan stared at him patiently, looking in no rush to leave and seeming not at all put off by Sin's quietness.

"Do you agree with him so far?" Ivan asked with interest, stepping forward.

"I'm only in the second chapter," Sin admitted with a shrug. "It's too early to have a thorough opinion."

Ivan nodded, hooking his thumbs on the straps of his backpack as his steel colored eyes studied Sin through the thin wire frame of his glasses. He tilted his head to the side thoughtfully and once again Sin couldn't help being struck by how the other man reminded him of Boyd. Their appearances and even some of their mannerisms were so similar-- it almost overshadowed the fact that their personalities were incredibly different.

Sin had only spoken with Ivan a handful of times, once by a chance meeting in the courtyard and twice near the medical wing-- but even in those instances, despite Ivan's typically reserved countenance, Sin had learned something of the man. He was actually opinionated about international politics, appeared to have a strong stance against many of the Agency's policies and in general appeared quite unimpressed by the world as a whole.

It was information gathered from a number of side comments but it had been enough to give Sin an idea of Ivan's personality; those side comments were what had prompted Sin to actually continue the dialogue between them. He'd found himself actually being intrigued by Ivan's caustic regard for the government, for the Agency. The fact that Ivan seemed so educated and informed about the issues had made Sin actually interested in the other man's opinions.

"Where did you even find the second edition?" Ivan asked, peering down at the book with interest. "After the harsh reception the first printing got-- I didn't think any bookseller would carry it again. It's been mostly an underground thing-- it has a cult following on the Internet if you know where to look."

"I bought it from Grover Books."

Ivan raised his eyebrows, expression appreciative. "That place is amazing. It's like a warehouse of every forgotten and resold used book in existence but if you dig deep, you can find a lot of gems. I don't know if you knew this but they're one of the few independent booksellers left in the city and the only one who actually carries a lot of the newer, more opinionated political works from our generation. They're also the only ones who officially carry the Journalist Guild pamphlets. They actually have a section for it and archives of old issues."

Sin raised his eyebrows at that. "Really. I always thought the Guild just self-distributed secretly. I didn't realize they actually had a deal with any particular book or newspaper distribute."

Ivan shrugged, half-smile returning. "Well, they do. I only meant official as in they consistently carry the paper, so the people from the Guild must know the guys who own Grover are on their side."


Ivan nodded, appearing pleased that Sin was actually intrigued by the morsel of information he'd shared. "Did you find anything else interesting?"

Sin shrugged and thought back to the titles he'd purchased. He'd gotten several old science-fiction novels but had also purchased more recent titles that had to do with current events. It was something he'd been interested in ever since the art show at the Solar Convention Center-- ever since he'd seen the painting Atonement by the Brazilian artist Yara, he'd found himself very intrigued by how artists and writers viewed the goings on of the world.

"Some things you may not be interested in, but I did purchase Thought Locust by Jory Paine and Escape Artist by Laura Downs."

The first was a book of poems regarding the war and the second was a novel about an American CIA agent who'd turned and joined a rebel insurgency group which was obviously loosely based on Janus.

"Did you finish both of those?" Ivan queried, moving closer and leaning against the wall directly beside Sin's chair. His gaze was steady and unflinching as he peered down into Sin's eyes, looking completely at ease as if it was a natural thing to be discussing literature with the Agency's most infamous agent.

"I did." Sin raised an eyebrow. "I assume you've read them as well, then?"

"I've never been able to get my hands on Thought Locust but I've read Escape Artist. It's an entertaining book with some good messages but her writing style is very distracting as well as the dramatic plotline and overblown fight sequences. It detracts from the point of the novel, which I assume is a criticism of the United States government and a more sympathetic view of organizations who oppose them."

Sin nodded, having come to a similar conclusion although he'd found that the plot, as outrageous as it'd been at times, had been a good cushion for what would have otherwise been a soapbox for Downs' opinions.

"Would you like to come over for coffee?"

Sin's eyebrows drew together and he stared at Ivan oddly, thrown off by the sudden question. "What?"

Ivan raised his pale blond eyebrows. "I'm inviting you over for coffee."

"Yes, I got that part," Sin replied, making a face. "But why?"

"Do I need a reason?" Ivan smiled at Sin, appearing somewhat amused by Sin's confused expression. "I'd like to continue our discussion without Kaspar the friendly ghost listening in on us."

Sin turned his head and glanced through the path from the sitting area at the back of the library to where the library keeper, Kaspar, appeared to be shelving some books. Sin hadn't really paid much attention to the man and he had no idea if he was actually eavesdropping or if Ivan was joking.

"So, are you coming?" Ivan asked in the same patient tone, his voice quiet and unassuming. He flexed his fingers slightly as he waited for Sin's response.

"No," Sin replied automatically, not really giving his answer much thought. He picked up his book again and began leafing through it, trying to find the page he'd left off on.

"Okay." Ivan considered Sin thoughtfully before asking neutrally, "Why not, though?"

Surprised, Sin raised an eyebrow at the other man. "Because I said no."

"Yes but are you saying no because that's your default reaction or because you really have no interest in continuing to speak to me?" Ivan didn't seem particularly offended by the possibility and shrugged his thin shoulders slightly.

"Well--" Sin cut himself off and frowned at Ivan. He'd started to say something unfriendly but there was really no reason for it and in fact, he did have interest in talking to Ivan to an extent. Or at least it was nice to have someone to interact with who wasn't talking about his problems or missions or reminding him of one or the other.

It also helped that they shared similar interests. Besides, Sin mentally added as he sat back in his chair to look up at Ivan, what was the point in brushing off one of the rare people he actually got along with?

"Fine. I'll go."

Ivan smiled again. "Good."

Sin rolled the thin book up and shoved it in his back pocket, shrugging on his hoody and following Ivan to the exit. They passed Kaspar on their way out and the man gave them a discreet stare before turning back to his work.

They took the elevator down to the ground floor and Sin felt Ivan's thoughtful eyes on him the entire time, as if the R&D agent was trying to figure him out. After the first few floors went by, Sin met Ivan's steady gaze and was almost disconcerted by the fact that Ivan didn't immediately look away like almost anyone else would have.

Instead, Ivan just flashed his brief half-smile and maintained eye contact, his stare penetrating and intrusive but Sin just raised an eyebrow, wondering what Ivan was thinking.

"I live off compound," he informed Sin as they exited the elevator, keeping his thumbs hooked over the straps of his backpack as they walked to the exit.

"Is it far?" Sin asked as they walked through the crowd going through the double doors of the main entrance.

"Not really. It's in the old industrial district but I ride my bike here so if you prefer to drive us, that's fine by me," Ivan replied as they headed across the courtyard and to the main gates.

"I don't own a car. I don't see the need when public transportation and feet are perfectly viable options." Sin put his hood on, pulling it slightly over his face and ignoring the way Ivan seemed to take in the action with interest.

"Well then we can walk or take the bus. Although it would make an interesting picture to the masses of the compound if we pedaled out of here-- me riding my bike and you standing on the pegs in the back..."

Sin snorted and glanced at Ivan, amused. "I'll pass."

Ivan chuckled quietly and they headed to the main gates but just as they started to pass through, one of the guards stepped in front of Sin, his eyebrows drawn down as he looked at the senior agent seriously.

"I have to clear it before you leave," he told Sin flatly, holding out a hand in front of himself as if silently telling Sin not to come any closer.

Sin narrowed his eyes slightly and looked from the guard, Officer Glen Charles, to Officer Deena Lorde, the guard who was usually posted at the gate and seemed to be in charge of the location. "I've been unrestricted for months."

Officer Charles shrugged one shoulder, not seeming too concerned, and touched the comm unit at his ear. "Maybe if you weren't such a basket case, these things wouldn't happen."

Ivan's eyebrows raised and he said in his typically mild tone, "There's no need to be a dick."

Sin glanced at him, surprised, and Officer Charles wheeled on him entirely. "Are you talking to me?"

Ivan shrugged agreeably. "I don't see who else I could possibly be talking to."

Officer Charles loomed above the R&D agent; he was the same height as Sin and brawnier, cutting an imposing figure against Ivan who was thinner and much shorter in comparison but Ivan just looked at him with an enigmatic smile. "Are you going to beat me up now, Officer Charles? If so, maybe we should move to the school yard. It may be more fitting."

"Maybe I should. Maybe I should wipe that smirk off your face, you punk ass." Officer Charles glared down at him before glancing at Sin. "What's with you and fairy-looking blonds?"

"Just do what you have to do before I lose my patience," Sin replied flatly, pale green eyes trained on Officer Charles with a promise of a beating if the man didn't stop fooling around.

Officer Charles shrugged and raised his eyebrows, looking Sin up and down before glancing at Ivan again. "I'm just saying that you're not doing yourself a whole lot of favors by hanging out with gay dudes all the time. People talk shit about you enough as it is."

"Would you shut up, Glen?"

Sin's eyes didn't leave Charles' face even as Officer Lorde called over to the man. Charles held Sin's glare for a moment before looking over at the female guard. "What?"

Lorde slipped out of the booth by the gate and walked over, glaring at each of them in turn before focusing on her colleague. "You're mixing him up with his father, smart guy. Emilio Vega can't leave. Check the agent number next time-- not just the name. This one is good to go. Now stop causing a scene; it's embarrassing."

"Oh." Charles actually looked vaguely chagrined and shrugged his shoulders before glancing at Sin again. "My fault."

"Just get out of my way," Sin replied with a scowl and shoved the man out of his path unceremoniously before leaving the gates and not looking back to see if Ivan was following.

The entire scene hadn't done anything but irritate the hell out of him. He didn't actually care what Charles thought but the fact that Sin couldn't even do something as simple as leave the compound without harassment and a grand production was a never-ending source of aggravation for him and the main reason he'd taken to once again staying inside his apartment.

Ivan caught up to him easily and walked alongside him quietly as they approached the bus stop. Once there, Sin crossed his arms over his chest and glared out at the street while Ivan leaned against the pole that designated the area a bus stop and watched Sin thoughtfully.

"He's right, you know."

Sin looked at Ivan with a frown. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Ivan shrugged and reached up to shove some of his hair under the cap; a battered old black hat that was faded to the point of looking grey. "About me. About you hanging around with me visibly. I am gay and everyone knows it. They'll just attach it to you and make all kinds of insinuations just like they did with you and your partner."

Sin relaxed slightly, feeling less defensive now that Ivan had explained but his eyes remained narrowed at the other man. "How does everyone know you're gay? Did you make a big banner and tape it to the entrance of the Tower doors?"

Ivan blinked at him before laughing, an actual loud laugh that brightened his face slightly even as he shook his head. "No, but like your partner, I'm androgynous-looking with long blond hair, maybe not as effeminate as Boyd but we are similar in that regard. Because of that people always assumed I was gay and whenever someone made a rude comment regarding it, I didn't deny it. I'm not ashamed of it and I don't care about their childish behavior. So now it's well known."

Sin raised an eyebrow at Ivan, mildly impressed. It was rare to find someone at the Agency who didn't care about how they appeared to others. "Well, they already think I'm a mass-murdering rapist who is possibly screwing my partner. They can think what they want, I don't give a damn."

Ivan nodded, a satisfied grin on his face and he studied Sin thoughtfully for a moment, giving him another one of those direct stares.

It was interesting to behold-- most people, especially people Sin barely had contact with-- were so intimidated by him that they would never think to stare at him outright but Ivan hadn't shown any hesitation from day one. It made Sin wonder exactly what the other man thought of him and it made him wonder what exactly his motives were for this sudden desire to become friends.

"Is it true, then?" Ivan asked after a while.

The bus rolled up, graffiti-covered and as dilapidated as always, and Sin ignored the question as they paid the fare and boarded. Ivan automatically headed to the back of the bus and sat in the two-seater, Sin dropping down in the seat beside him and stretching his legs out. He could feel Ivan's eyes burning into the side of his face and once again, Sin turned his head to return the gaze evenly.

It was almost uncomfortable; they were sitting side by side and now their faces were mere inches apart but even then, Ivan didn't flinch away. His eyebrows raised slightly and his grey eyes momentarily skimmed Sin's features before once again meeting his eyes.

"If you don't want to answer, I won't ask again," Ivan said finally when the bus roared to life. "I was just curious."

Sin shrugged and dragged his eyes away, although after a moment he looked back. He found himself doing the same as Ivan had done, tracing the other man's features, taking in every detail of his face but Sin knew it was only because Ivan resembled Boyd.

Sin had known for a long time that Boyd used to worry over whether or not Sin actually, truly wanted and was attracted to him, or if they'd just ended up together because Sin hadn't had another choice. It was something he'd picked up on from various comments Boyd had made over the last few years and although Sin had wanted to reassure Boyd, he'd never known what to say.

But as Sin looked at Ivan again, he felt that his strange desire to take in every aspect of Ivan's face and even his form, was a testament to how much Sin was attracted to Boyd. It was like Sin was attracted to Ivan by default, and Sin wondered if that sense of familiarity was what prompted him to even agree to spend time with the R&D agent.

"We were together for a time," Sin said shortly and Ivan nodded in return, not seeming very surprised.

They sat together in silence for the next few stops and Sin began to have doubts about agreeing to go to the other man's home. As Ivan stood up and they headed off the bus silently, Sin couldn't help giving Ivan a mildly suspicious stare which Ivan immediately picked up on.

"We don't have to go there if you prefer not to," he said, looking up at Sin calmly. "I'm just a homebody and it was my first thought."

"I see." Sin looked down the street and saw that Ivan really did live in the heart of the industrial district. It was actually not too far away from where Jared Strickland had been squatting; it was known for being a hard scrabble neighborhood.

"You have no reason to trust me," Ivan said with a nod, looking away briefly as a woman walked by them, smiling alluringly at them in turn and murmuring promises under her breath. She was obviously a prostitute and, judging by her ragged stockings and dirty clothes, she was having a tough time of it in life.

Ivan looked at Sin again and shrugged simply. "I only wanted to spend time with one of the rare people I clicked with. I have no ambushes planned or great seductions-- just coffee or beer and book talk."

Sin smirked slightly and when Ivan raised a questioning eyebrow, Sin just nodded and they began walking down one of the streets that led away from the cluster of factories that sat on the south side of the neighborhood.

The sidewalks were cracked and dirty-- the occasional crack vial lying along the street, and Sin could feel numerous sets of eyes on them as Ivan led them deeper into the heart of the area despite the fact that the streets appeared nearly desolate other than them and the occasional homeless person. Sin was actually surprised that nobody approached them-- he wasn't a regular of the area and a lot of people automatically mistook his lanky body for weakness.

"You get along okay in this neighborhood?" Sin asked as a police siren went off somewhere nearby.

Ivan glanced over at him, appearing completely unconcerned as he walked casually, dragging his boots along the half-crumbled sidewalk. "At first it was somewhat obnoxious because a lot of the gang guys would make comments to me or threaten me for the hell of it but nothing serious has ever happened and they're mostly used to me now. Some of the guys even think I'm cool for living here because for some reason they think I'm a yuppy. I think it helps that I never appeared nervous or afraid of them."

Ivan stopped in front of a looming building that he explained was an old doll factory and they headed inside after Ivan unlocked a variety of bolts before making their way through a dark hallway and to a freight elevator that Ivan manually pulled closed behind them. It reminded Sin of the loft his father had once owned in the city but he quickly pushed the idea aside, not wanting thoughts of his father to invade his brain like had been the case frequently in the past few months.

"So this is it," Ivan said as they got to the top floor, gesturing towards the open floor plan of his space.

Sin walked in slowly, taking in the hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows and the corner that was completely dominated by computers and computer parts. There was an expanse of wall that was covered with newspaper clippings and a large white board that had small neat handwriting nearly completely covering it.

The furniture was limited to one sagging sofa, a mattress on the floor, the desk and computer chair, a long bar counter with stools in the kitchen area and a large flat panel television that, judging from the array of wires, seemed to be hooked into one of the computers.


Ivan smiled slightly and shrugged off his backpack, setting it to the side. "Boring and weird, you mean."

Sin shrugged. "My apartment isn't very exciting so I have no room to judge."

Ivan went to the kitchen and approached an ancient-looking coffee maker, pulling out a filter full of old coffee and tossing it in the trash. "Do you have a coffee preference? I have original flavor and hazelnut. Don't expect gourmet. I buy whatever is on sale."

"I don't care either way," Sin replied, sitting down on one of the stools and watching Ivan as he moved around the kitchen.

Ivan added water to the pot and pressed a button, leaning against the counter and turning to Sin as the coffee began percolating. "Milk? Sugar?"

"Both. A lot." Sin pulled the book out of his back pocket and set it on the counter, tired of the spine digging into his back. "I like sweet things."

Ivan looked at him for a moment before raising a pale blond eyebrow. "Do you."

Sin made a face, eyes rolling. "That wasn't an innuendo."

The blond man chuckled quietly and pushed away from the counter, once again going to his refrigerator. "I know. But it sounded like one. I wouldn't honestly expect you to flirt with me, S--"

Ivan broke off and looked over at Sin, pausing in front of the open refrigerator door. "Do you prefer to be called Sin?"

"I'm used to it." Sin didn't prefer it one way or the other-- he was so used to people bastardizing his name that it didn't even occur to him to care anymore.

"Then would you mind if I called you Hsin?" Ivan pulled a container of milk out and approached the counter again, setting it down. "Ryan is the only one who refers to you as your real name and I don't think I'm entirely comfortable calling you something that is likely meant to be pejorative."

Sin stared at Ivan blankly. "Why do you even give a damn? You don't know me."

Ivan didn't look surprised by the statement and he leaned against the counter, folding his fingers together in front of him as the steady drip of the coffee filled the briefly silent room. "I like you, and I respect you, so I have no desire to treat you like other people do."

Sin just arched one dark eyebrow and gave Ivan the same blank unimpressed stare. "We've spoken a handful of times. You don't know me enough to like me. Whatever information you think you gathered from those moments is likely false anyway."

"On the contrary," Ivan replied serenely, reaching up to take off his cap and toss it across the kitchen and onto the opposite counter. White blond hair spilled across his forehead messily and he combed his fingers through it. "I like you because you don't care what anybody thinks. You don't try to appease anybody or make yourself appear more approachable-- you do what you have to do and that's it."

They stared at each other and Ivan tilted his head questioningly. "Am I incorrect?"


Ivan turned away and removed two chipped coffee mugs from a rack. There were other dishes sitting in the sink but he didn't seem to own very much flatware since there were no actual cabinets to store things. "Is it that shocking that someone other than Boyd and Ryan finds you to be an interesting person?"


Ivan looked at Sin and appeared genuinely amused by the reply but Sin just shrugged. Ryan and Boyd had been forced into his presence-- forced to think about him and forced to work with him. Without that, he highly doubted they would have made an effort to talk to him.

"Well, I'm not attempting to deceive you. I have no reason for it. I was already intrigued by your personality and from what I heard of the tidbits Ryan would mention now and again." The coffee pot beeped loudly, signaling that the coffee was finished.

Ivan poured two cups, drinking his black as Sin reached for the milk. "However, I grew more intrigued by the scene in the med wing a few months ago. The contrast between then and how you were in the cafeteria was amazing."

Sin's hand froze slightly as he poured milk into his cup and his green eyes rose to bore into Ivan from under his eyebrows.

Ivan just shrugged again, continuing. "I'd never seen someone so strong. You're an amazing fighter. I suppose I'm a bad person for having been secretly glad that all of those field agents got injured but they were retarded to have swarmed you like that. Darwinism does come into play now and again."

Sin's gaze became incredulous and he shook his head before looking at his coffee again, heaping in spoonfuls of sugar. "You're very strange."

Ivan nodded in agreement. "Yes."

They sat quietly for a few moments, drinking coffee and looking at each other and Sin couldn't help wondering at how odd the situation was. It wasn't even the fact that Ivan had apparently been prompted to befriend him due to the fact that he generally didn't care about anyone or try to make nice.

The weirder aspect of the situation was the fact that Sin found himself actually loosening up-- that the tension that typically built in his shoulders when he was around someone unfamiliar and someone potentially untrustworthy wasn't nagging at the back of his head like it usually did. It likely had to do with the fact that Ivan looked him directly in the eye and didn't seem to hold any of his true opinions back.

"I'm not going to lie," Ivan said seemingly abruptly and Sin looked at him again. "I am very attracted to you-- it would be difficult not to be seeing as I am a gay man and you are incredibly striking, but I didn't invite you over for that purpose. I invited you over because we have similar interests and because I want to get to know you better because I think we mesh well."

Sin swallowed the rest of his coffee, not really having an opinion one way or the other on that.

"So, Escape Artist," Ivan said after awhile, pulling himself up to sit on one of the bar stools. "I already told you my opinion-- what was yours?"

Continue to the next interlude: 3.5, Kith and Kin