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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 3.1

Uploaded on 5/09/2009

The early Spring air was chilly but not nearly as cold as the season had been in the last several years. The fact that the temperature had actually climbed into the mid-thirties in the middle of March was a surprising but pleasant change from two decades of spring starting out in the 'teens.

Sin supposed that it was fortunate for Boyd, who had begun additional exercise in order to keep up and improve in his official Level 10 training; he'd decided that now would be a good time to take up running in order to improve his stamina.

They slowed down gradually along Boyd's street and stopped entirely in front of his house. When they entered the gate, Boyd sat briefly on the steps, hunched forward with his arms resting on his knees, breathing heavily.

"We didn't even run that far," Sin commented blandly, staring down at his partner.

"If you call three miles not far," Boyd panted, looking up at Sin from beneath his eyebrows.

Sin shrugged. "I suppose."

Boyd shook his head briefly and didn't answer, apparently concentrating on regaining his breath. Golden blond strands of hair caught along the sides of his face and on his open lips as he tilted his head toward the ground, his pale skin flushed. Boyd threaded his fingers through his hair and pulled it back from his face and up off his neck, eyes closing briefly. Sweat trickled down Boyd's skin, sliding down his neck and beneath the dark red track jacket he wore.

Several long moments of silence passed, the cool wind lightly shifting their clothing and the only sound being Boyd's breathing starting to slow and even. Boyd's street was empty and quiet like usual, a marked contrast from the other areas of the city which were so overcrowded or high in crime that no matter the time of day, something was happening.

Sin briefly noticed movement across the street and when he looked over, he saw the blinds shifting in the main window of the house across the street, as if someone had been looking out. The large blue house was well kept, making it obvious that the owner took very good care of it.

After a moment and when the motion was not repeated, Sin dismissed it from his mind and returned his gaze to Boyd, who was just pushing himself up and dusting off his pants. He seemed to mostly have his breath under control and he went inside the house, holding the door open for Sin and looking over his shoulder.

"How long would you call far?" Boyd asked belatedly, seeming half curious and half bemused.

"I don't know." Sin followed Boyd inside, eyes absently focused on Boyd as he took off his jacket, looking away from the sweat-soaked t-shirt beneath and the way it clung to Boyd's back and shoulders. "Long enough so that I'm tired."

"Yeah, and what is that?" Boyd asked dryly as he dropped his jacket on the back of a chair, looking over at Sin in amusement. His cheeks were still flushed and his hair was messy from the run, with some strands remaining caught against his face. "Thirty miles? Fifty?"

"Obviously." Sin unzipped his own hoody and shrugged it off, standing near the door awkwardly and not moving in any further.

Noticing Sin's delay, Boyd's expression very briefly grew more reserved but it was gone almost before it was there, replaced by a somewhat bemused smile. He tilted his head toward the living room. "Come in. Do you want anything? Water?"

Sin continued to stand by the closed door and there was a long pause before he finally shook his head silently and entered the room entirely. It was the first time he'd been there since the night of Philip's death.  

Boyd looked at Sin briefly but didn't comment; instead he collapsed on the couch, leaning his head back and covering his face with his hands. "Damn," he groaned, then dropped his hands into his lap as he stared at the ceiling. "I wonder how long it'll take before I feel like training isn't trying to kill me anymore."

"I don't know." Sin crossed his arms over his chest, gaze absently moving over the room before returning to Boyd. "Why did you even ask me to go with you?"

Boyd's eyes slid over to focus on Sin. "Because I wanted company," he said with a shrug. "And I thought you may like the exercise."

"Why didn't you ask Kassian?" The question was out of Sin's mouth before he could stop it and although there wasn't an edge to his voice, he was sorry that he'd said it. He didn't really want to talk about Kassian and bringing him up was just a horrible idea.

Boyd didn't seem fazed; he simply watched Sin. "Because I wanted to run with you, not him."

"I see." Sin leaned his back against the wall. He idly remembered slamming Kassian's head into it and didn't feel entirely remorseful about it. "Well I can't help you with the rest of your training."

"I'll probably do a lot on my own and for the rest I'll try to solicit help from a number of places," Boyd said easily, likely aware of how little patience Sin tended to have for teaching. "I'm just happy to have you involved whenever you're interested."

"Why?" Sin asked bluntly, eyebrows raising at Boyd. He didn't really understand why Boyd wouldn't prefer Kassian, who was likely more of a compassionate and engaging person to go running with or be around in general. "What's so great about me being involved? I'm not a very entertaining person."

Boyd leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees as he studied Sin more seriously. "I've liked being around you for over two years." His honey brown gaze was open and genuine as he met Sin's eyes, his tone earnest. "I know some things have changed but that hasn't. I'm busy with training lately but I still want to spend time with you so it's good when they coincide."

Sin stared at Boyd silently for a moment before nodding and finally moving to sit down. Despite the fact that he wished more aspects of their previous relationship had remained, it was a good thing to hear and it shed some of his self-doubt. It was true that they'd gotten along platonically long before Monterrey, even if the incidences of them simply spending time together had never been very frequent.

"I wonder if it will still occur to you to want to see me whenever I'm not your partner anymore," Sin said finally. "That wasn't meant as a dig or something, either. It's just... out of sight, out of mind, right?"

"It won't change anything," Boyd said without a hint of hesitation or doubt. "But I do wish you'd reconsider."

Sin tilted his head back against the arm chair and gazed at Boyd through his long eyelashes. "It's possible I would have changed my mind but since he's going to be reinstated as an agent and officially added to the unit, I have no desire to remain there, even more so than before."

There was no doubt that by 'he,' Sin meant his father, Emilio.

Boyd nodded, looking slightly relieved and understanding, but still he hesitated. For a moment, it seemed as though he was debating saying something, his eyebrows drawing down slightly before he asked, "Did you talk to him?"

Sin's mind automatically shifted back to that night on the roof of the Tower, his father staring at him disapprovingly as he dissected Sin's personality and past. "Yes, that first night but not again after."

"How did it go?"

Sin's fingers idly toyed with the fraying pocket at the side of his cargo pants as he gave a one-shouldered shrug. "I didn't shove him off the roof so that's saying something."

For some reason, Boyd's gaze was briefly caught by Sin's fidgeting fingers and he seemed contemplative before he met Sin's eyes again. "If you don't mind telling me... What happened the night you thought you'd killed him?"

Sin looked at Boyd, somewhat thrown off by the question. Although he did avert his gaze, he only hesitated briefly before replying. "My father found out some things about Connors and Connors sent a hit out on him. I didn't know about any of this but my father already had a pre-determined plan; I suppose he figured it might happen eventually. Now that I spoke with him and I think back, it seems he wanted them to believe that he'd died but when I saw him go down and appear to not get back up, I snapped. I suppose I went into what they're now calling an episode."

His mouth turned down slightly in a frown and he sighed, closing his eyes briefly. It all seemed so stupid now, so pointless. Despite his father's claims that he'd thought Sin would be able to handle the situation and the idea of his father being killed in front of him, it all would have gone according to Emilio's half-assed plan if he'd just bothered to fill Sin in beforehand. Although, Sin supposed, maybe he'd worried that the reaction wouldn't have been genuine then.

"Anyway, I guess... he'd somehow figured that one of the men, Peter, wouldn't stay-- he apparently had an aversion to killing kids and maybe even killing my father because they acted familiar with each other. So Peter ordered the other agents not to kill me until he was gone and they'd finished with my father, and after that my father began demanding that I wait, that I not help fight, and I listened for some reason even though I had no idea what was going on. I believe he wanted to wait until Peter left to report in that the hit was complete. It was a risky plan and my father was going on the slim possibility that Peter wouldn't verify that he was actually dead instead of just appearing to be dead at that moment. Which worked but it was pure luck. Although, my father gave a good performance since I thought he was dead too."

At first Boyd seemed mildly surprised by the information but it faded quickly as he nodded, taking it all in thoughtfully. "And in the midst of an episode, you accidentally shot him?"

Sin nodded, finally looking at Boyd again. "He looked dead. He was covered in blood, he wasn't moving. I snapped, I murdered the other two assassins. I was completely caught up in it, completely... out of it. And in the midst of it, my father either decided to interrupt or maybe he'd actually been unconscious and at that moment he awoke, but I turned on him and shot before even realizing it was him."

Boyd watched Sin quietly for a moment before nodding in understanding. "Were you aware after it happened?"

"No. Otherwise I wouldn't have blocked it out for so many years. I didn't come back to myself until several hours later and at that point I just found myself in the bloody apartment with no idea as to what had happened." Sin sat up straight again and cleared his throat. "Anyway, I wonder why Connors took me in. He had to have been aware of my existence before I actually came here. It's curious."

"I don't know," Boyd said, shaking his head to himself. His tone was mostly simple but a faint hint of distaste was in his eyes as he thought about Connors. "Maybe he was uncertain of how much you knew, so rather than kill off a potential replacement for his Level 10, he decided to keep you close where he could watch you."

"Maybe," Sin said thoughtfully. "I'll never know for sure since Connors is dead, though."

Boyd nodded and was quiet for another moment. He searched Sin's features almost absently and shifted on the couch, tilting his body more toward Sin to see him fully, and asked tentatively, "Did Emilio tell you what his plan was with you if everything had gone how he'd anticipated?"

"Not really." Sin replied and a frown crossed his otherwise stoic expression. "I don't know. Why?"

"Well," Boyd said slowly, studying Sin closely as if trying to gauge his mood, "I think it's possible he's not quite as much of an unrepentant asshole as he makes himself out to be. Sort of the way you used to be. Not that I particularly like him, but he did come to my house that night looking for you and we briefly talked."

"I'd figured you spoke to him. He implied it several times." Sin narrowed his eyes slightly at Boyd. "What did he say that made you come to that interesting conclusion?"

"Part of it was what he said and part are actions," Boyd said thoughtfully, his eyebrows drawn down slightly as he didn't look away from Sin. He had the sort of expression Sin was accustomed to seeing when Boyd had been contemplating something for awhile and had finally gathered enough evidence to speak up.

"For one thing, he picked you up from China. It's possible he's fathered other children with the numerous women he's likely slept with but he went out of his way for you. Not to mention," Boyd added, tone nonjudgmental as he seemed to be simply saying the situation as he saw it, "your mother was a prostitute. It would have been incredibly easy to claim no responsibility; to leave you there. But it sounds like at one point he actually cared about your mother on some level, even if that obviously didn't go far. And not just that-- he said he planned to go underground with you."

Sin just shrugged, not feeling any more positive towards his father even with that information. It didn't change anything for him; it didn't change the fact that his father's flawed plan and risky behavior had ultimately led to where Sin was now or that his father had no remorse over that fact. "I wonder if he does have other kids," he said, ignoring the rest of Boyd's statement.

"He might, with his reputation," Boyd said honestly, shifting on the couch and crossing his arms loosely. "You could ask him sometime; you may have siblings."

"I'm just curious about it; I wouldn't actually want to meet them or anything."

"Are you sure?" Boyd asked, drawing his eyebrows down slightly. "You don't know what they'd be like or even how their mothers would be. Maybe you'd find that somewhere in this world you have a family."

Sin gave Boyd a long look before raising an eyebrow. "The idea of family is a social construct that wouldn't apply to my situation. I'd consider you my family more than random offspring from my father." There was a brief pause and then Sin added with a faint smirk, "But then the social construct of incest would come into play and that's never a good thing."

Boyd looked somewhat caught off-guard by the answer and it wasn't immediately clear why. He seemed at once amused, pleased, and something more indefinable that may have been slightly sad. He shook his head to himself with a smirk pulling at one side of his lips.

"Yes, well. We can't have that. Social constructs are very important to people in our line of work," Boyd said lightly.

The sound of a motorcycle roaring down the street caught Sin's attention, mostly because the sound was atypical of the usually quiet residential neighborhood. He turned his head and looked out the window just in time to see a black and silver motorcycle flying past. Sin turned back to Boyd and was reminded of an earlier question he'd had.

"What happened to your black car?"

Boyd looked slightly distracted as his eyes tracked the motorcycle just as it disappeared from the view through his window, then returned his gaze to Sin. "I traded it in."


"It was time to switch to electric," Boyd said with a shrug. "I'd been considering it for awhile and I finally had enough money to afford it so when it was convenient one day I just went."

"Ah." Sin had preferred the look of the more understated look of old car but he chose to keep the information to himself.

A beat of silence passed between them, partially awkward because Sin still didn't know how to act around Boyd and Boyd seemed determined to keep the conversation going or at least make the visit go as smoothly as possible.

When it became apparent that neither of them knew what to say immediately, Boyd glanced at his watch, made a face, then stood. "I should probably have another shake." He gestured toward the kitchen. "Are you sure you don't want anything..?"

"I'm not hungry," Sin replied, following Boyd to the kitchen, shoving his hands in his pockets and watching as the other man gathered ingredients for his protein shake. As a part of Boyd's training routine, he'd taken to drinking two protein shakes a day in order to build more muscle.

Boyd paused before he measured any of the ingredients, his hand resting on the blender's lid sitting on the counter. "Actually, I got you something," he said, looking at Sin briefly before he grabbed a plastic bag sitting on the far end of the counter and handed it to Sin.

Sin raised an eyebrow and looked at Boyd questioningly before opening the bag. Inside was a box of chocolate donuts.

"Why would you buy me anything?" he asked, looking up at Boyd as he popped the lid open and extracted one of the donuts. He hadn't had any good junk food in awhile.

Boyd shrugged as he turned toward the ingredients again, although a faint smile crossed his face. "I thought you'd like it," he said simply, measuring different amounts of ingredients from a tub of whey protein, a bag of frozen berries, as well as a container each of coconut milk and flax seed meal. He dumped each part into the blender but didn't immediately press any buttons.

"I do." Sin chewed thoughtfully, eyes focused on Boyd. It was a small gesture but it was something that reminded him of the way things had been early on in their friendship, before everything had gotten complicated.

Sin looked down and swallowed, trying to pinpoint the exact moment that the complication had started; it occurred to him that it had been after the realization of his attraction to Boyd. After that it had been all miscommunication and insecurity on both of their parts which had inevitably led to incredibly bad situations all around.

He took out another donut and studied it as if it had the answers to the question he found himself posing in his mind; wondering if Boyd was right to try to get back to those moments, back to when things had been relatively simple between them or as simple as they'd ever get.

"Thank you," Sin said finally.

Boyd's smile grew and he looked over at Sin, pausing with his hand pressing the lid down on the blender. "You're welcome."

They watched each other briefly before Boyd looked away, pressing the button to blend the ingredients. Loud noise filled the kitchen, making it impossible for any conversation to occur, and Sin sat on the counter chewing silently.

Boyd poured the shake into a cup once it was finished and turned around, leaning against the counter and watching Sin silently for a moment. Silence fell between them as Boyd drank his high-protein, low-carb shake and Sin ate chocolate donuts one after another. Although the silence wasn't as comfortable as it had once been, it wasn't quite as awkward as it had been even just earlier that day.

"You know... There was another reason I thought Emilio may care more than he acts like he does," Boyd said at length, tone completely casual as he returned to the previous topic.

Sin gave a long sigh and shook his head. He didn't really understand Boyd's desire to speak about his father. "Yeah?"

"Remember I told you Lo Más Chingón stopped us as we left Monterrey?" Boyd asked, tone leading as he waited for Sin to respond.

"Yes, I remember." Sin raised an eyebrow at Boyd expectantly. "What of it?"

"Well, after I realized Lo Más Chingón was your father, I started thinking about that night. I'd always thought it strange that he let us go and that he'd given me information," Boyd explained.

He held his glass loosely in his hand, his elbows resting on the counter behind him as he watched Sin thoughtfully, head tilted slightly. "That made me think of how it must have seemed to him when he saw you-- especially with how you looked like a murder victim."

Sin couldn't help feeling morbidly curious about how he'd actually looked during that time. All he had to go on was Boyd's description; the coma had lasted so long that when Sin had finally awoken, every trace of his wounds had been gone. "What did I look like?"

"Dead," Boyd said bluntly, and although he met Sin's gaze evenly he didn't seem very happy about the memory; it was in the way his eyebrows drew down just slightly, the way his lips turned down faintly on the edges, and the way light tension straightened his back. Despite that, his tone remained explanatory.

"You were completely covered in blood. Your skin was ash white, your lips blue, your chest wasn't moving. There were bruises and burn marks and with all your broken bones, your limbs hung at odd angles..." He paused briefly, eyes darkening subtly as he narrowed them. "Honestly, it seemed impossible that you were even alive. Kassian said they must have left you to die either because they got everything or because they got nothing out of you. You were barely alive when we found you and when we reached the tunnel, you stopped breathing, you started having convulsions." He shook his head once, eyes twitching. "You were so far gone that Kassian had to administer CPR over and over before he could even revive you."

Sin quieted briefly at the mention of Kassian and for a moment he couldn't help feeling a sense of discomfort at the idea of Kassian having given him CPR. Despite the outcome of the situation was that Sin lived, the idea of Kassian's lips having even once been that close to his still seemed almost like a violation. Sin let his gaze stray back to Boyd, eyes slightly narrowed as an undeniable bolt of jealousy jolted him at the idea of Kassian's lips now being on Boyd.  


The sentence trailed off and Sin ran a hand through his hair distractedly, trying not to let his irritation show, not to ruin what was a relatively civil conversation due to his own jealousy. For the first time, Sin honestly understood why Boyd had been so upset about the thing with Ann. It didn't matter if Sin's heart hadn't been in it; he understood that now because just the idea of Kassian touching Boyd was nearly enough to send Sin into a homicidal rage.

Sin shook his head, feeling stupid and annoyed with himself, almost wanting to apologize to Boyd for having ever been so oblivious and idiotic, for ever hurting him the way Sin was hurting now. "I didn't tell them anything."
Unaware of Sin's thoughts, Boyd hesitated very briefly, probably misreading Sin's distraction as something related to the torture. "What happened? We thought they took the chip from your neck and you flat-lined in the process, but... How..." He seemed uncertain how to word the question he wanted to ask. "What did they do, how did you make it through that?"

Sin shrugged. "I don't know. How do I make it through anything? I'm not quite sure. I'm surprised I didn't bleed to death before you found me. They were deliberately making incisions throughout my body to cause me to bleed out slowly and to cut tendons to prevent me from moving. The Agency must have done major reconstructive surgery on me during the time I was in the coma. I don't even understand how they got me back to normal without therapy, unless I was physically responsive before fully emerging..." He trailed off thoughtfully, grateful to have something else to think about.

"We must have found you fairly recently after they abandoned you or else I don't know how we made it in time, either," Boyd said frankly. He drew his eyebrows down slightly. "Were they trying to find out what group you were with or inside information? Or was Hale just pissed off and that was all there was to it?"

"Hale was angry but it wasn't just about him. They would have tortured me for information regardless for the group I was with and they wanted to know where you were because they knew I had a partner. Hale just made sure the experience was more drawn out than it needed to be," Sin said with a shrug, not really feeling anything at the memories.

It had been unpleasant, several times he had even felt himself slipping away into oblivion, but there had never been a moment when he'd lost himself completely to his psychosis and Sin wondered now if that had been because the entire situation had been his choice. They'd had him strapped down and helpless but at any time Sin could have given them what they wanted to know just so they'd put him out of his misery for good. Maybe the fact that he hadn't done that had allowed his subconscious to believe that he was really in control the whole time or at least making choices regarding his own fate.

The entire thing was odd and Sin didn't think he'd ever understand depersonalization disorder.

Something akin to discomfort crossed Boyd's face. Although a lot had happened between them, Sin could still read Boyd's expressions well enough to know when he was thinking about something fairly intently, and when he wasn't entirely pleased by whatever conclusion he'd drawn.

"And you didn't tell them anything at all?" Boyd asked slowly. "Even about me, even something small at first to make them stop?"

Sin gave Boyd an odd look. "No. Why would I?"

Boyd's expression twisted a little and he looked away, eyes darkening guilty, almost ashamed. "Sin," he began slowly, uncomfortably. His fingers tightened against the glass and he distractedly set it down on the counter.

"I-- Well, you should probably..." Boyd's eyes narrowed slightly and although when he looked over again he seemed willing and determined to continue, he still wouldn't quite meet Sin's eyes. "I just... wanted you to know that the Agency knows everything about us. And... they know you slept with Ann."

Sin frowned. "What?"

"It..." Boyd looked truly uncomfortable but it didn't stop him from continuing. "During R2I... I'm sorry," and his tone was sincere, "I really didn't want to tell them anything about you. They'd gotten everything from me about everyone else but with you I was determined..."

He sighed and shook his head, finally meeting Sin's gaze although he still looked as though he felt regretful of the actions he was explaining. "But then... I know it's stupid but I still... I can't really handle being held down still, and drowning... They're my greatest fears, so the waterboarding..." He trailed off helplessly, looking as though he felt it was a poor excuse even to his own ears.

Sin just watched him silently for a moment, realizing now how Vivienne had found out about he and Ann. He'd never been able to figure it out before but now it made sense, especially considering the timing of everything. But he chose not to share that information with Boyd; he didn't necessarily think Boyd would be very interested in learning about Ann's demotion anyway and in truth, Sin wasn't too surprised. He knew how ruthless the Agency was during torture training and he wouldn't have expected any of the trainees to completely withstand it.

After a brief pause he just shrugged and wiped his hands on a towel that was sitting on the counter, his fingers sticky from the chocolate. "It doesn't matter. Don't worry about it."  

Boyd studied Sin, as if trying to determine if there was anything Sin was hiding, if he actually cared after all or would look down on Boyd. What he saw apparently reassured him because some of the tension that had built in his shoulders relaxed and he nodded, although he still didn't seem entirely pleased with himself.

"I don't know; I feel like I'd never give the same information to enemies but that's easy to say when I'm not in that situation," Boyd, shaking his head to himself. "I mean, honestly, other than the fact I mentioned Ann and confirmed our relationship, they mostly just got a lot of embarrassing things out of me. But it doesn't change that I gave it up. Hopefully I'll improve with training but I don't know how you do it. I wonder if it's genetic for you," he added lightly, tilting his head as he watched Sin. "I somehow doubt that Emilio gave anything to the Agency, even with months of interrogation..."

"Back to him again, I see," Sin said blandly, losing some of his previous interest in the conversation. "I was hoping you'd forgotten to finish whatever you were saying about him."

Boyd gave Sin a sidelong look with a slight smirk. "You should know me better than that by now. I can be pretty stubborn..."

Sin sighed and shook his head. "Well go on then, I guess."

Boyd nodded and continued, his tone becoming more serious and explanatory. "At any rate, what I was saying was that you looked terrible when we left with you." He shifted against the counter and crossed his arms, eyes narrowing in memory. "Our top priority was speed because you desperately needed medical attention. So I chose a tunnel that I thought would be quick; it was stressful and only got worse when we found out 4FF had taken control of the tunnel."

"And he was there?" Sin asked, referring to his father. It was difficult for him to say 'my father;' he'd had no trouble saying it in the past but now after the recent revelations had come to light... Now Sin didn't really feel the need to give Emilio the title although it felt just as odd simply calling him 'Emilio.'

Boyd nodded. "Ching-- Emilio," he corrected himself, "seemed almost amused by the entire situation." Although Boyd had been speaking of Emilio, he still apparently found it a little difficult to reconcile that Emilio was Chingón when he was recounting his interactions.

He drew his eyebrows down slightly and looked at Sin significantly. "At least, until I stepped between him and the van. I'd already told him we had someone who was hurt but he seemed unconcerned until I got in his way. I thought his attitude had changed because I wasn't listening to his commands. Now that I think about it, even when he had a gun to my head he was definitely serious but he seemed more challenging than anything. Somehow... that seemed to change when he saw you."

Sin opened his mouth to say something sarcastic and belittling of the situation but for some reason Boyd's description made him pause. "How?"

"He grew quiet." Boyd's eyes narrowed slightly in thought. "He ran the flashlight entirely along you, like he was searching out every wound. I couldn't see his face and I didn't really know him well, but I think he was surprised... maybe a little disturbed, I'm not sure. The way he was before, it was almost as though even when he was being challenging it was part of an act or just to intimidate me or play with me for interfering."

Boyd drew his eyebrows down. "But when he saw you, it seemed more... genuine, somehow. Quietly serious, like he was struck by what he saw. And I could feel his stare on me like he was dissecting me, like he wondered how you'd gotten so fucked up with me around and if he could trust me to leave with you. He must have realized we were partners so he was probably doubting my ability to protect you, which was obviously well warranted."

Sin gazed at Boyd for a long moment before sighing quietly and bringing his hands up to cover his face. He didn't know what he thought of that but he couldn't deny that the information made him feel oddly satisfied. After all these years, after all that had happened, Sin still felt the same pathetic sense of secret satisfaction at the idea of his father paying extra attention to him as more than just a student and a fighter.

He ran his fingers through his hair, which was growing too long and falling well past the back of his neck now, and groaned. "Why are you trying to make me stop loathing his existence?"

"Partially because, like it or not, he's going to be at the Agency and even if you transfer from this unit you'll end up seeing him," Boyd replied frankly, his gaze steady on Sin. "I'm sure you'll have to deal with at least the idea of him because people will talk about him now. So staying stressed about him isn't going to help you and regardless of what he did or failed to do, it's still good that he's alive, that you didn't actually kill him."

Boyd leaned back in the couch and considered Sin. "But also because I've been thinking a lot lately, and even if I still think it was bullshit that my mother promoted me, and even if she was a terrible mother and did a lot of things wrong... Like Emilio, maybe she wasn't a good parent, but there are still things she did that she didn't have to. I guess in this case, I just thought you should know about the things I doubt Emilio told you."

"That's fine but I'd still rather avoid him if I can. If you hadn't noticed, he's annoying and I'll probably just want to beat the shit out of him constantly." Sin made a face, wondering why everyone always seemed to be instantly taken with his father despite the fact that he was so obnoxious. Even Boyd was sitting here being pro-Emilio and he'd previously despised the man.

"Besides," Sin added, "I don't leave my apartment often enough to ever run into him, unless for some idiotic reason he comes searching me out."

"Why aren't you leaving your apartment?" Boyd asked, frowning slightly. "You used to at least go to the gym. Are you still doing that?"

"No. I work out in my quarters."

"Why, though?" Boyd asked again, eyebrows furrowing.

"What do you mean, why?" Sin asked, narrowing his eyes at Boyd impatiently. "Why should I? So people can stare at me or harass me?"

"I know there are a lot of people who take issue with you," Boyd said, crossing his arms, "but I still think sometimes you don't give people a chance. People who already are interested in being around you, people who you may find you like."

"Oh, wonderful, here we go again." Sin sat up straight and didn't bother to hide his disdain with the direction the conversation was going. "Is this the part where you reiterate your desire for me to 'put myself out there?' If so, please stop. I didn't badger you into inviting me here-- you invited me and I almost didn't even come, so there's no need for you to try to get me to befriend other people. It's not like I'm waiting for you around every corner or something."

"What?" Boyd looked baffled. "What are you talking about?"

"All I'm saying," Sin said blandly, "is that you don't have to worry about me harassing you or badgering you into being with me again. I won't. So this whole thing is unnecessary."

"What the hell-- Sin, that's not what this is about at all," Boyd said intently, eyebrows drawn down. He looked truly surprised by Sin's comment. "It didn't even occur to me to interpret it that way. I honestly want to be your friend, I'm not lying about that. That's why I invited you. And the reason I'm encouraging you to find other people aside from me is because it's not good for you to be isolated; because I'm concerned."

Boyd frowned slightly and shook his head, studying Sin closely as he leaned against the counter. "If it makes you feel better, it's something I realized about myself during training-- everyone thought I was an asshole who thought I was superior to them because I automatically decided ahead of time they didn't need me and were useless to me, that there was no point. But once I made myself work against that impression, I realized I had things in common with other people... that I could get along, that I could even have fun. And I'm concerned about you. Maybe it's still a little awkward between us but we're both trying and I'm happy about that. But what if I'm killed tomorrow on a mission? I just don't want you to have no one again; I don't want you to feel like no one can ever see anything good in you. And I'm worried that's what would happen."

"I don't care so I don't see why you do," Sin replied stubbornly. "I didn't need anyone before and I don't now."

"Because I care about you; I care about your well being," Boyd said firmly, apparently unwilling to give up the topic for the moment. "Because you've told me before you can't go back to the way it was, that you were alone all the time. And because I know you act like a lot of things don't bother you but they do; when people are cruel to you and you have no one to lean on, anyone would feel unhappy. I just want you to have options."

Sin stared at Boyd silently and couldn't help feeling irritated by the entire discussion. "Well, I don't know what to tell you."

Boyd studied Sin at length then finally released some of the tension in his shoulders with a sigh. "Just think about it."  

There was a longer silence and this time it was more than a little uncomfortable-- Sin looked out the kitchen window and tried to ignore the frustration that he was feeling. Boyd, like Carhart, seemed to have some misguided notion that Sin was capable of making friends and getting close to other people. They failed to understand that Boyd had been a great exception in Sin's extremely isolated life and the possibility of Sin ever getting that close to anyone else in his current circumstances was more than slim.

The only way Sin ever saw himself opening up to people or even wanting to be around them was if his life magically changed and he was transported into a place where nobody knew who he was and therefore had no preconceived judgments about him. The fact that Boyd and Carhart thought he'd even want to spend time with people on the compound, people who looked at him like some kind of specimen at a freak show, was disturbing.

The only exception to that was possibly Ryan and even he was always a little too awed by Sin's presence for it to not become annoying and uncomfortable and Sin didn't see it being any different with anyone else. People here would never act like he was just another person; they would never have the casual familiarity like the people in Lunar.

Sin looked at Boyd again and pressed his lips together, not knowing what to say and not knowing if he wanted to say anything at all. Just the fact that he didn't even know how to act around Boyd anymore should be telling as to how socially inept he could be; he had no plans to think about ever even going out of his way to force himself to think of conversation with people on the compound who he didn't even like.

"I'm going to go," he said finally.

Boyd looked caught between being unsurprised and mildly disappointed. He hunched forward and sighed quietly, pushing blond hair out of his face.

"I'm sorry. I just realized I invited you over and spent most of the time badgering you about things you probably don't want to talk about." Boyd dropped his hands to his sides and gave Sin a bemused look. "Next time maybe we can make it more fun." His tone was light but there was something almost questioning about it.

Sin slid off the counter with a shrug, wondering once again if Boyd was offering his company out of pity or a sense of obligation, but pushing it to the back of his mind without really analyzing it. "Okay. If that's what you want."  

"It is but what do you want?" Boyd asked with a slight frown as he searched Sin's expression.

"I don't know what I want anymore, Boyd," Sin replied plainly, meeting Boyd's gaze steadily. "All I know is that I don't want to not see you, even if all it amounts to is awkwardness. And I know I still want to touch you, even though you don't want me to anymore."

Boyd hesitated and his expression turned slightly pained although he didn't look away. "Sin, we can't..."

"I know," Sin said curtly, eyebrows drawing down over his eyes. "I wasn't asking you for anything. I was just making a statement. I told you I wouldn't be harassing you. I know you don't want me. You have Kassian."

Boyd sighed, shaking his head with a gaze that hid a hint of frustration amidst mild discomfort. "Kassian has nothing to do with this and it's not that I'm not attracted to you anymore. It's just that it can't be casual between us-- it wouldn't work." He didn't say it cruelly-- his tone was honest and not unkind-- but his steady expression made it clear that to him, it was an undeniable fact.   

"Fine." Sin pushed himself away from the counter, the burn of rejection making him feel uncomfortable, dejected; desperate to be gone from the house and away from Boyd for the moment. If he stayed any longer, if the conversation drew out any longer, he knew he'd just end up pushing the topic until it was just as uncomfortable for Boyd. "I'll see you around."

"Sin..." Boyd watched Sin pensively for a moment, but ultimately he just said, "I'll call you again and I hope you know you can always call me too." He tilted his head toward the hallway. "Do you want a ride back?"

Sin shook his head, sliding his gaze away from Boyd although he couldn't help allowing it to linger slightly on his toned arms and the still-flushed complexion of his skin; skin that Sin knew was surprisingly soft and smooth to the touch. "No. I'll walk or take the bus."

He turned away from Boyd and headed out of the kitchen, closing his eyes briefly as he wondered if this new routine would ever get any easier.

Continue to the next interlude: 3.2, Flip Side