Lyle Ashley Tate, Carter (Gil) Gillespie and US Marshall, Adam Breslaw
A little before midnight, Saturday 22nd January, Lyle Ashley Tate’s home
“Your Guardian is ready to escort you home as soon as you want to go, Mr. Gillespie.” Adam Breslaw did his best to wear a smile. It was easier now than it had been whilst Sandra Pierce was in the house. That cheerful facade of hers was so obviously fake it had a dampening effect on everyone. It grated on his own integrity. He liked what he’d seen of the four men who’d been here tonight. Flynn, he couldn’t give an opinion on as he hadn’t met him, but judging by their loyalty to him he was probably an okay kid too.
“Lyle, can we talk…?”
Breslaw swore under his breath. Damn. The English paramedic would want to hang around. The others had already left, presumably to go get their packing done, but he needed Gil to leave so he could talk to Lyle Tate privately; staying here for a couple of days and nights had allowed him to gain a sense of Lyle’s changing moods, and right now he was worried about his charge. Gillespie was currently in the way, regardless of the feelings Lyle seemed to have for the man.
“I was going to make some supper actually,” Lyle said, smiling at Gil, “Do you want a cuppa and something to eat?”
Gil looked at Breslaw. “Could my ride wait a while?”
Breslaw sighed, shrugged and walked to the door. “I’ll tell your driver to go get some chow, he can come back in half an hour or so.”
Gil waited until the broad back of the burly man was completely out the front door and then followed Lyle into the kitchen. His mind was churning through the events of the evening. He found Lyle going through the contents of his fridge, putting together the makings of a cold supper.
“Might as well use up what we can,” said Lyle, placing the food on the bench. “It’ll just be going in the rubbish tomorrow morning otherwise, I guess.”
“God, this is really happening isn’t it?”
“Well it is for me. I don’t get much choice. Vale threatened me with exposure, with telling…” Lyle stopped, suddenly realising Gil had no real idea about his true history. The man had taken him at face value, willing to trust him without needing to know the ins and outs.
“How did Vale know about you? Did you know him?”
“I never met him until I arrived here, which I think was just the day before you. I spotted the vacancy in a professional journal and went through most of the usual stuff to get the job. He did some digging after I got here, I think.”
“Why would he though? What could you mean to him? I wouldn’t have thought exposing the fact that you were trans would get you in trouble with anyone. After all, he was your boss. Look, I’ve never asked you anything about your past, I don’t have the right to know, but…” Gil was unsure how far he could go. Well, he could ask anything, but Lyle wouldn’t give him an answer to 90% of it, most likely.
Lyle took his time preparing the snacks, trying to work out what was safe to tell Gil and what wasn’t. Vale exposing him as a transman would have been difficult, but Vale ratting him out to his contacts in the US Mafia was a whole lot worse. He’d already been running from them for over eight years, fighting tooth and nail to get Tyler to relocate him again, getting her to help him make his appearance match what he had always felt he was inside, providing him with a masculine identity.
Gil lowered his voice, he could sense the tension in Lyle. “Sorry things have come to this.” Well, that was a bit lame. Yet Gil was genuinely sorry things had come down to having to leave the town. The agents milling around the house were all armed to the teeth. Was it def con one then? Not def con two or three? Gil let out a breath and shivered. He hoped he had persuaded Miles to take it seriously and stay with them. He had no idea what was going to happen now and seeing Lyle’s face; he wasn’t sure he ought to spill out what he had done with the doctor in Lyle’s kitchen.
“I’m sorry, too. If I’d stayed away from here…” Lyle paused, wondering whether things would have been different for the others without him in the mix. “Well, I suppose your lives might still be intact.” He dropped his gaze to the floor.
“Hey, Vale started this, then Flynn sucked us all into his business when those hands showed up. None of it was down to you”.
“Tyler…Breslaw…Pierce. They’re here because of me.”
“Good job, too, or we’d be in a hell of a mess.”
“You think we’re not now? I’ve been through this before, Gil. You’re all about to lose your history, your loved ones, your identities…”
“Like hell, nobody said anything about that…” Gil glared at Lyle. There hadn’t been any mention of changing identities. Why would Lyle think that? “I reckon that agency of yours is just putting us somewhere safe until they know whether the Bratva really is gunning for us, or if it’s a false alarm. After all, no real need to spend money on changing our identities if it isn’t necessary, eh?”
“Pierce isn’t ‘my agency’. I don’t know what she is.” Lyle took a bite of his sandwich and sipped his tea.
“She’s what you’ve got, Mr.Tate.” Breslaw stood in the doorway. Lyle had no idea how long he had been there. “Tomorrow is going to be a long day for everyone, I suggest you get off home now and do your packing, Mr. Gillespie.”
That’s me told then. “Fine!” Gil snapped, the word coming out somewhat savagely in Breslaw’s direction before turning back to Lyle and adding more gently, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Lyle.”
“Night, Gil.” Lyle didn’t mention that he’d made Gil food too, since his friend now seemed eager to get going. “Stay safe. Make sure you pack the things that matter to you.”
In truth Gil knew he had hardly anything to take; his clothes and a few photos, his laptop and bike and that was pretty much it. He nodded and headed for the door, spying a man in a dark suit waiting for him.
“Agent Alessi, sir,” the man said, holding out his hand. “If you’d like to get in, I’ll take you home.” The agent shut the door behind them, closing off Gil’s view of Lyle standing there in his hallway looking lost.
“Mr. Tate, Lyle, I really need to talk to you.”
Marshall Adam Breslaw was taking up too much room in Lyle’s living room. Ever since Vale’s death, Breslaw had been following Lyle closer than his own shadow. The big man was wearing to be around, and intimidating as hell. That was his job of course, to be intimidating, to keep the bogey men away from his charges—Lyle included—but he was an uninvited presence in Lyle’s home and not a particularly welcome one. Lyle valued the privacy and serenity his home afforded him, both of which were being compromised by having to accommodate his protector.
“Then sit down while you do it. I’m sick of getting a crick in my neck where you’re concerned.” Lyle gazed up blearily at the Marshall from his favourite chair. He was exhausted by recent events and a late night chat with the spawn of Godzilla was not something he felt he could handle right now. He was relieved when Agent Breslaw sat down, overwhelming his couch in the process.
“Mr. Tate, you remember I told you Ms. Pierce and Eidolon have plans for you…”
“Glad someone does. Right now I don’t give a shit about my future, if I have one at all.” Lyle was too tired to put any expression into his words. They were flat, matching how he was feeling.
“Lyle, they’re trying to help. I wouldn’t have involved them if I thought all this could be handled in house.”
“So this is bigger than what started all this for me? Great.”
“You are especially at risk, you know that, don’t you?”
Breslaw was speaking slowly, softly, as if to a child. It was annoying Lyle enormously. He wasn’t a child. He wasn’t unused to this cloak and dagger bollocks. He knew it had come time to run again. “Yeah, thanks for reminding me. And now my new-found friends are in danger too. Whoop-de-fucking-doo!”
“I can’t stop all this from happening, Mr. Tate, and frankly I think it needs to happen in order for you all to hang onto your lives. Ms. Pierce didn’t tell you everything. Not only has Nicole Tyler disappeared, we can’t find Vale’s muscleman, Dmitri Radimov.”
“That’s his surname? I never knew, just knew I didn’t want to meet him in a dark alley at any point.”
“We don’t know what Dmitri knows or where and who he might have run to. More worryingly, though, as Ms. Pierce said, is the possibility that Agent Tyler has now joined the Bratva camp. She knows everything there is to know about you, Lyle. She knows about your friends and their families too; we found files on each of them on her computer. We’re still investigating why. Until we find out how far this mess extends we need to keep you and them safe and well.”
Lyle had a good idea why Agent Tyler had files on Gil, Miles and Flynn. If she had anything on Aiden that would be more strange. He didn’t know Aiden personally, it would be like her having a file on the hairdresser he’d visited a week or so ago. Almost as strange as her NOT having files on Henry Vale or Dmitri Radimov…
Lyle had no idea which of the Agency workers to trust, if any. The men outside the house were supposedly protecting him, as was Breslaw. Tyler had been charged with the same duty, yet she’d set him up with Vale. If she was on the side of the angels, why had she set him up to work for a mortician who disposed of unwanted Bratva leavings by cremating them alongside his legitimate ‘customers’? The man had even threatened to add him to his furnace if he didn’t accede to his wishes or if he interfered with his pursuit of Flynn Archer.
“But when the coast appears to be clear, you’ll dump us? Terrific.” Lyle’s made sure his mistrust rang loud and clear.
“I wouldn’t dump you,” Breslaw murmured, clearly offended by the suggestion. Then, in a firmer tone, he added, “You’re my charge, Mr. Tate, I won’t leave you in the lurch. I’ve read your file. I know how much you’ve lost, what doing the right thing has cost you. I’ve been in this business long enough to be able to read between the lines, too. I’m sorry this has happened; it never should have, but I’ve tried to do right by you. Eidolon have resources the Agency can’t even come close to. They do this stuff so well that no-one has ever heard of them, even though they operate on a global level. You need them right now, Mr. Tate.”
Lyle sighed and lay back in his armchair.
Breslaw shook his head. His charge looked utterly done for. Much to his frustration, moments later Lyle was snoring. Now he couldn’t give him the intended update on his own case and a heads up on what Eidolon had in store for him when he reached the island. He wasn’t sure if it would be safe to talk later on the plane, maybe in the airport before they boarded?
Breslaw watched Lyle sleep for a while, contemplating the man he was being paid to take care of. Adept at reading people, Breslaw knew Lyle resented his presence in his home; Lyle’s dislike of him might be rooted in how he had come into his life. Maybe, though, it was because Breslaw knew Lyle’s real history too. Living as a man, Lyle hated any reminders that he used to be a woman, someone’s daughter, someone’s sister. That Breslaw also knew he had been someone’s wife, and the circumstances of how he’d lost his husband, just made it all a whole lot more painful.
Maybe it was better not to tell Lyle about developments on the Mafia front? He would be safe on the island Eidolon was taking them to. No need to distress him with stuff that might well be resolved by the time he was ready and able to leave there. It was a lovely place, according to Pierce; Lyle might even decide to stay there for good, especially since he would be able to make full use of his natural talents if Eidolon’s plans for him came to fruition.
Deciding that Lyle was going to hurt in the morning if he was left to sleep slumped in the armchair, Breslaw scooped Lyle up in his arms, careful not to wake the good-looking blond. Lyle Tate was five foot ten, maybe 160 pounds soaking wet, so it was no hardship to tote him across to the bedroom and roll Lyle into his quilt. Breslaw turned the light off on the still-sleeping man, then plodded back to the couch in the living room, settling himself down once he was sure his handgun was fully loaded and stashed safely, close to hand.