RR #14: The Generator Game

Gideon Sterling and Lyle Ashley Tate

with mention of Agent Breslaw

__________________________________________

Mid morning 25th January, Mystery Island

Damn the fucking thing! Gideon was not having a good time. The bloody generator was geriatric, stubborn as a mule, and it definitely didn’t like him.  He hefted the spanner in his hand. He wanted to give it a good whack, but stopped himself.  That was not the way to go, no matter how much ‘percussive maintenance’ had worked for him in the past. He studied the thing.  How hard could this be?

“Hello?”

Gideon stopped, stifling a curse. Interruptions…. He plastered a smile on his face and stuck his head out the door of the garage-like structure that housed and protected the generator.  Lyle Tate was standing there, looking travel-weary and uncomfortable. “Can I help?” The guy looked tattered, to be honest. Jet-lagged and… worried?

“I don’t really do engines, but I can hold tools, pass stuff, fetch and carry..?”

“You’re offering to help me?”

“I just did, yeah.”

“You’re the IT man, yeah?” Gideon moved back towards the generator without waiting to see if Lyle followed, wondering if he’d missed something.

“That’s flattering…but I think Gil has bags on that role.” Lyle smiled a little wryly.

Gideon frowned. Is he joking?…Oh right, yeah. Gideon looked back to where the man was now leaning against the door frame. Tate was trying to look nonchalant but underneath the facade, though, there was something else. “Here, take charge of this before I do something I might regret.” Gideon passed over the spanner.

“Sorry about before, by the way.” Lyle held the spanner like it was a dirty sock. He had no affinity with machinery, certainly not the greasy sort. Give him a computer and peripherals and he was more than at home, but getting down and dirty with an engine of any sort was beyond him.  He wouldn’t mind getting down and dirty with the man in front of him, though; sweaty and smudged with oil as he was, black bandanna tied tightly over the crewcut, he looked like the centrefold of a calendar—men and machines.

Gideon pressed a few buttons on a panel and hit a switch. The thing coughed, revved and died again. He threw up his oily hands in disgust.  What the fuck was wrong with it?  The tank was full—he’d made sure they’d brought enough fuel with them for this thing. Damn it all… He stared at the open access panel and sighed.

Lyle watched as Gideon reached into the machine, his arm disappearing to the elbow. He was obviously tinkering with some hidden part, muttering under his breath as he did so. He withdrew his arm and pressed the buttons again. He wondered how the man had gotten into this gig. He and Breslaw knew each other, so did he used to be a cop? A marshal, like Breslaw? No, he had the demeanour of a soldier, or a mercenary maybe? How did he end up working for Eidolon? What the hell was Eidolon, really, anyway?

“Have you seen our files?” Lyle asked. He didn’t manage to sound casual about it, even to his own ears. The engine coughed, revved and chugged into life, interrupting him. Whatever Gideon had done must have worked. “There, that’s it.” Gideon shouted above the noise, acting as if he hadn’t heard. In truth he was giving himself time to formulate a reply. “I have no idea why I didn’t see it sooner… Must have been knocked or something.” He wiped his hands on a rag and turned to Tate. “At least we can boil a kettle now.  So, now that’s out of the way… “ He lead the way outside, shutting the doors on the noise. “You wouldn’t think that thing was silenced, would you? Sorry, you were saying?”

“I was wondering what you know about us. About me.”

Aha, there it is, Gideon thought. Is he worried about how much I know? “I’ve read all your files. Had to. Part of my job to know the people I’ll be working with. Why? Is there a problem?”

Lyle contemplated a stone resting by his toes for a moment, trying to work out where to start. Whatever files Gideon might have seen, did they mention who he had been before he became Lyle Tate? Were they Eidolon’s files, or the Agency’s?

“Eidolon is far reaching, Mr.Tate.” Gideon emphasised the ‘mister’ very slightly. He wondered how sharp Lyle was, whether he would pick up on that little message. “You can rest assured, your information is safe with me.”

Hmmm, did I just hear something there? Lyle wondered what Sterling had meant by it. Does he think I don’t deserve to be called Mister? Christ on a moped, don’t let him be a bigot. He’s going to have his hands full if he is.

“So you know the US Mafia already had a price on me before the Bratva got involved?”

“I know you and your…husband did a very brave thing.” Gideon kept his expression bland. “It must have been hard for you to take his place.” Tate bit his lip. That had struck a nerve.

Lyle struggled to school his expression. So he knows. He might not like who I am but at least I don’t have to get into it all with him.

“Did Breslaw ever tell you about his brother?” Gideon asked.

“Sorry?…I only met Breslaw the night… the night when Flynn got hurt.” He followed Gideon outside and watched as the man padlocked the doors on the shed. It seemed a bit pointless. In fact Lyle was still wondering that the cyclone hadn’t dragged the whole building away, and had been since he first saw the structure.

“He told me when he called that you reminded him of Josh.”

The conversation was heading in a weird direction. Lyle had no idea what Sterling was getting at now.

“Who was Josh?”

“Josh was Adam Breslaw’s younger brother,” Gideon explained. “Apparently, he spent a long time trying to tell people he wasn’t supposed to be a boy. He spent years trying to get their parents to appreciate that he didn’t feel right, hadn’t been born into the right body. Adam tried to help but he didn’t know what to do. He listened when their parents wouldn’t…” Gideon paused. He wasn’t sure how much to divulge—it was Adam’s business after all—but from their phone conversation, Gideon knew how much Bres felt for Tate.

“He didn’t say.” Lyle wondered at how hard it must have been for Breslaw, living with him those few days. Of course he didn’t say anything. You didn’t even get to first names, did you…?

“I don’t think he’ll mind me telling you.” Gideon sighed. Bres still hadn’t shucked off the guilt. “I’ve known Bres a few years, enough to know he’s a good man, but he shoulders the world’s problems and he can’t save everybody.” Gideon allowed himself a small smile. “I guess he felt the need to save you where he couldn’t save Josh…”

“I didn’t know. He never said.” He put me to bed that last night… The ramifications, the implications, were huge now he knew this tiny piece of the man’s history… “What happened? With Josh, I mean?”

Sadness crossed Gideon’s features. “Josh took his own life, hung himself. Bres found him when he got home that afternoon. Messed him up for a while… still does. One thing I want you to know, Mr Tate,” and Gideon did not bother emphasising the ‘mister’ this time, “People like Bres fight to make sure people like you have the freedom’s they deserve.”

People like me. Yeah.

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