Lyle Ashley Tate, Agent Breslaw with mention of Carter (Gil) Gillespie
Sunday 23rd January, 4.10 am, Lyle’s house
Lyle woke early. Discovering that he was still fully dressed was a relief when he realised Breslaw must have put him to bed. He would change later, once Breslaw was up and about. He had things to do before then and didn’t want the sound of a running shower to disturb his overseer.
Checking he hadn’t missed anything important when he’d got his belongings together, Lyle looked around at his home. It really had become a home in the few weeks he’d been here. He would miss the place. The memory of making love with Gil—Lyle’s first time making love as a man—was the best memory associated with the place for him. He supposed his next residence would be a lot different, though he had no idea in what ways as yet.
His bags were packed. He knew the drill—approximately how much he could take, what to destroy, what to hang on to. For the first time his current identity papers were going with him, which seemed very odd. A lot about this Eidolon deal seemed off kilter, as he’d tried to tell the others the night before, but they had chosen not to hear him, or had been so shit scared they wouldn’t listen. They didn’t know he had done all this before and knew what the script should read like, and it was nothing like this.
Breslaw was still snoring, sprawled all over his sofa. Lyle hated the intrusive sound. The racket drove him into his panic room, which was, mercifully, sound-proofed. Bored, he started reviewing the recordings from the meeting with the Eidolon rep. It was a mistake; now he was seeing stuff that had him wondering whether he had completely lost his ability to judge people.
One particular scene was giving him especial pause for thought. He ran the recording through again, then twice more. There they were, making out in his very own kitchen, Gil and Miles. Of course he’d realised Gil liked Miles, maybe even wanted Miles more than he wanted Lyle himself, but this was reality picked out in black and white with neon signage. What a damn horrible week it was turning out to be.
Lyle pondered what to do with all the recordings. Whilst he knew about the panic room, Breslaw didn’t seem to know about the very elaborate audio-visual kit Tyler had gotten installed in the house when he had first moved in. That seemed like a good thing. The Eidolon recording was the most important, probably. That thought made Lyle chuckle; even though the scene from the hallway between Gil and Miles had sobered him; he was now thinking he felt like he was an actor in a sixties spy film, Harry Palmer, maybe.
He’d gathered from Breslaw that Eidolon had at least as much info about him as the Marshall did. Apparently once he reached the island and they had gotten through their first couple of weeks as ‘rescuers’ the organisation had some additional plans for him. So, time now to lay down some insurance for later; all very ‘Ipcress’.
Would he have a later? Hard to say. The idea of being beholden to Eidolon, of being sent to an isolated tropical island full of bigoted natives, and now realising he didn’t even have Gil’s undivided attention was too big a mess to contemplate. He’d been through relocation before, and changes in identity, and he hated it more each time. It was like he lost a piece of himself every time it happened; one day he wouldn’t even remember his own parents names. He’d almost forgotten his own original name already, though not just because of the repeated identity changes he’d endured.
Lyle’s fingers flew over the keys of the audio-visual and computer decks. It was a while since he’d needed to do this stuff, but he hadn’t lost his touch; he knew that. When you did it without permission it was called hacking and stalking. When you did it with an FBI stamp of approval it was called ‘computer forensic analysis’ and ‘audio visual security’. This was what had killed Lyle’s husband Richard, and had gotten Lyle himself into so much shit when he took on Richard’s burden of bearing witness against the mafia-linked accountants and bankers they had accidentally stumbled across one fine May morning nearly ten years ago. Using his talents and skills to protect the interests of himself and his friends felt good, even managing to push aside the angst that would come later when he let himself think about Gil kissing Miles.
If only I had just poked around in Vale’s computer systems I might have saved us all a lot of trouble, Lyle thought to himself. He’d still been trying to live a quiet life then, though. Passing through without drawing attention had become second nature to him since he joined the witness protection scheme. Over the years he had learned how to turn a blind eye to a lot of stuff in an attempt to stay as safe as he could. This time had been different. This time there had been Gil.
The memory of their date, that damnably awkward conversation about his gender reassignment, their lovemaking–all that meant that the scene between Gil and Miles cut deep. I should just delete it and hope for the best.
Gil was so patient, persisting with me, not letting me go. Once he knew, once he understood, he took my current body in his stride. Then, when he and Miles came to me for help, I set aside my own rules. Stupid. He shrugged mentally. I could be staying here, oblivious and content, near to Richard’s remains.
That’s going to be the hardest thing to accept in all of this, leaving Richard behind. Lyle had scattered his husband’s ashes here, in this small town he would probably never see again. The place held memories of their life together, which was why when he’d seen the advert for a trainee mortician job he’d pounced on it. Too perfect. I should have realised. Just like Gil.
Lyle satisfied himself that the recordings were safely stored, as well buried as one of Vale’s enemies, but that he would still be able to get to them if he needed to. Then he shut down the house systems for a final time, making sure that the data left behind would be utterly useless and meaningless to anyone who might end up trying to unravel what he’d done on his last morning here. He really was that good, better than Eidolon realised, better than the FBI realised too. He chuckled again, contemplating the idea that if he ever was really up against it he could always offer to re-write the Bratva’s systems for them so that no-one could ever do to them what he and Richard had managed to do to the Italian Mafia.
That reminded him, he would need to strip some of the gear from the house to take with him. Would he be able to get it past airport security? Then again, they aren’t likely to be taking us out through JFK…
Moving around without disturbing Breslaw was not easy. Lyle understood the man would be a light sleeper, being in his line of work. One of the things a woman learns, though, is how not to wake others, and once upon a time he had been good at it. He gathered his tools and quietly went about acquiring the parts he would need to set up surveillance at key points on the island once they got there. They made it look stupidly easy to bug a place on TV shows, but there were some items that Tyler had made sure were hidden more deeply, and he would need those bits too. Eidolon were not going to have this all their own way, he didn’t trust them enough for that. He’d been running long enough to know who his friends were, and this organisation wasn’t anywhere near making that list. Lyle figured that Eidolon might well search their bags, but there were places to conceal the small components he needed. The rest he could order in once they got there, using various excuses based around the ‘rescue work’ and general ‘home improvements’.
It amused Lyle to find himself stripping parts out of sex toys in order to conceal the bits and pieces he needed. Eidolon might wonder at his collection, but they were unlikely to know the difference between one set of electronics and another, at first glance anyway. There’d be an element of luck involved too, but he couldn’t control that. If all else failed he figured he could encourage one of the dogs to provide a distraction if needs be.
Breslaw was still sleeping by the time Lyle had collected everything he felt he’d need. He put coffee on and then went to shower and dress. The shower felt good, waking him a bit more. Sandalwood and chypre scents wrapped round him as the water turned to steam, and for a few minutes he managed to feel more relaxed and in control of his life than he had since Henry Vale’s death.
He couldn’t really think of it as murder. Lyle still didn’t understand what the problem had been between Vale and Archer, but despite having reservations about Flynn Archer he was pretty certain that compared to Henry Vale he was on the side of the angels, albeit probably fallen ones.
Yesterday he’d managed to ignore all his savagely nagging doubts, but this morning Lyle was worried. Most of all he was worried about his supply of medications. He very much doubted there was a pharmacy where they were headed. He’d made good progress in transitioning thus far; discontinuing his T-shots wasn’t an option.
Stepping out of the shower, Lyle grabbed a towel and then headed for his bedroom. He took his shot of testosterone and then bound his chest flesh. This whole tropical island thing was going to make his life hell. Here he could bind, pack and wear suits and other structured clothes that helped disguise his body shape. In a hot and steamy climate he was going to swelter or be exposed very quickly as a transman.
How much did Breslaw really know about him? How much did Eidolon truly know? Would they really look after his sex change for him like they’d promised? He was filled with doubts where they were concerned. It was a fact that he’d actually trusted Agent Tyler more than he trusted his new ‘protectors’.
Adam Breslaw was a bit disoriented when he woke. His neck was aching and his feet were cold. He remembered then that he had slept on Lyle Tate’s couch. Judging by the scents of food and coffee circulating he figured Tate was already up and about.
Taking a change of clothes from his case, Breslaw headed for the shower. Not knowing how long they might get before Eidolon started owning their lives again he hurried. There was stuff he wanted to tell Lyle whilst they were out from under them.
On cue, Lyle made his entrance. He was carrying two cups, one of which he passed across. Lyle set his own cup down and returned to the kitchen. When he came back he put two plates loaded with what Breslaw had learned was called ‘a full English’ on the dining table and sat down without waiting for the agent to join him.
“You’ve been a good host, thanks.” Breslaw slid into the seat opposite and sipped his hot coffee appreciatively before tucking into the entirely unhealthy mass of fried foods on his plate.
“You’ve looked after me; a decent breakfast is only fair return.”
“Mr.Tate, I wanted to say a few things yesterday. I need you to know that Eidolon have a very good picture of your situation, and everyone else’s.”
“Right. They’ve promised me… surgery and so on. Will they deliver, do you think?”
“They will. So long as you and your friends co-operate, anyway… These are people not to be messed with, Mr.Tate.They are more than capable of protecting you all, as long as you comply with their instructions. They are humanitarians, they look after people, in many ways…”
“Forgive me if I seem sceptical, but that Ms.Pierce of theirs didn’t seem anything like a humanitarian, not really like a human either.”
“Ms Pierce is a…spokesperson,” Breslaw offered by way of explanation. He didn’t want to malign his…what? Colleague? Not exactly. ‘Associate’, that would do. He didn’t want to malign his associate but Pierce was not an easy woman to be around, never mind work with. She gave the impression she was more important that she looked, or acted, but then, he had never been one for underestimating people. It didn’t pay in his line of work. “She represents Eidolon, but she isn’t Eidolon, she’s just a figurehead”. Breslaw lapsed into silence and shovelled eggs and bacon into his mouth. He tried not to bolt the food but time was getting on and he was aware of their schedule.
Breslaw watched Lyle mop at his egg yolk with some toast. His charge had poached his own eggs rather than frying them. Breslaw wasn’t sure their breakfast would do them any favours when they got to travelling, but he was enjoying it. It was only made better by sharing it with Lyle. He liked the man, had done from the moment they’d met.
“They have plans for you, Mr.Tate.” Breslaw had hoped to be on first name terms with his charge by now, but the invitation to address him thus had never been offered. “Big plans.” He forked up the last of the food and washed it down with the dregs of his coffee. “That was good, thank you.” Breslaw started to move away from the table, but Lyle grabbed his wrist.
“So tell me about their big plans. What’s really going on, Adam?”
Breslaw’s jacket slipped open as Lyle snatched at him and he was treated to an expression that told him the Englishman was still unused to guns. It seemed odd, given how long Lyle had been living in the States., but then he remembered that his husband had been shot dead. There was bound to be some discomfort there.
Breslaw was just processing all this when his phone rang. He listened a few moments, then snapped the handset shut. “I’m sorry, Lyle, we have to go—plane time has moved up by an hour and we need to collect Mr. Parker on the way.”