With some time before Zeke was due to come back and talk to him, Tyler was full of adrenaline. He was anxious and excited to finally get to sit down with Zeke and discuss all the questions burning in his mind. He was also very, very keen to know where things stood between them. He goes over what he hopes to hear, what he will say in response, important points he felt he needed to clarify and make with Zeke and almost the entire conversation is planned out by dinner. He only needed Zeke to say the parts Tyler planned for him to say, and they would get this done nice and quickly, then move forward.
The only problem was that once again, Zeke was a no show. He come back for dinner, the ‘date’ he had suggested. Tyler waited up, feeling himself bounce between being reasonable, that Zeke’s work was unpredictable, and annoyance that Zeke seemed to conveniently not be available to talk to him, yet again. Around midnight, Tyler gives up waiting and goes to bed, hoping at least it’d speed up time and bring this conversation closer.
When he wakes up, he’s still alone, although now he’s even more annoyed, because when he opens his iPad to revise the list of questions, he finds that there were now answers beside almost all of them. Zeke had come down at some point, found Tyler asleep on the bed, all the lights on and hisIpadopen next to him with the list of questions, then gone through and written an answer to all of them, except for the one about how he felt, and not woken him up to actually talk about it, again! It wasn’t goodenough,the answers were almost not as important as the opportunity to actually discuss it all with Zeke. Tyler had wanted transparency and commitment. For Zeke to show up and tell him what was happening. He wanted to see Zeke’s face while he thought about the answers, he wanted to further the answers by asking more questions. He wanted to feel at the end of it, like he trusted Zeke unequivocally. But instead, what he got was a list of short answers typed on an iPad.
It was likely that Zeke would say something logical about why they couldn’t just get together. The more Tyler thought about it, the more he was pretty sure he wasn’t into Zeke in a serious kind of way, he just happened to be physically attracted to the man that was frequently ghosting him and pissing him off. So, if Zeke was holding back because he thought he would possibly confuse Tyler, then he was already doing that. If he was holding off because he doesn’t want anything serious, then Tyler didn’t want that either and if it was a matter of being distant to protect Tyler, as though he would be at risk of more danger just because of a relationship with Zeke, then technically they didn’t even have to care about each other all that much to do the things Tyler was wanting to do with him. He didn’t see Zeke being a boyfriend, he was obviously not good at dealing with relationships and Tyler couldn’t help but think he was emotionally unavailable besides, he was much too aloof so what chance did they have of developing serious feelings for each other. He knew next to nothing actually personal about Zeke, so there was no way he was going to fall for him. Tyler also didn’t see himself as being a boyfriend, certainly not if this ‘housewife’ thing he was stuck at home doing everyday was what Zeke expected of him. No, he didn’t want a relationship on an emotional level. He just happened to be a verybored andveryhormonal 19-year-old and the least Zeke could do is entertain him with some kind of arrangement. It didn’t have to be complicated; it could just be fun and god knows Tyler needed some fun in this place. It seemed like Zeke could use some too. Relief from stress for Zeke,something to do for Tyler. Mutually beneficial. Why not?
This is why Zeke should have woken him up for this talk, Tyler could have told him what he wanted and then Zeke wouldn’t have to be off avoiding him, thinking that Tyler was looking at him with love eyes and hoping for a fairytale romance.
Regardless, he missed his chance to know that, when he decided to just type out his answers like a coward. For someone who could face a house full of assassins, he sure did lose all his confidence the moment ‘feelings’ came into play.
Tyler goes through the more important questions he’d listed, trying not to hate Zeke for how long he must have been down here for to answer all of these, and yet not just turned on a light and nudged him awake.
‘How can you trust Corey when he tortures people?’
‘Look, Corey has a job to do, same as everyone here. He is passionate about helping people. Don’t judge him on the less glamorous aspects of the work. I kill people, all he does is ensure G doesn’t go loose on a stubborn hostage. He monitors their physical health and makes sure the techniques are effective and not life ending. Corey has never killedanyone,G has by accident in the past. Corey is a safeguard for that. He insisted on the position and he takes care of hostages before they are released. I know it’s hard to believe, but even the interrogation is done out of kindness.’
Tyler struggled to understand this one, he wanted to believe Zeke, that Corey wasn’t some kind of sadist, but still. He tortures people. And it’s different to Zeke, Zeke killed people in self-defence.
‘Are you off the case or not? G said you were off it but you seem to still be working it.’
‘G technically can’t take me off this case. I am still working it, but due toconflicts of interestI’m not doing so much of the physical side, it’s been determined to be safer for everyone if my contribution is contained within the building. Though even that, there’s only so much he can stop me doing.’
Tyler didn’t have to be an agent to know that was code word for “I’ll do what I want and he can’t stop me.”
‘Serious question, does G have a stick up his ass?’
‘Yes, G has a stick up his arse. He’s always been like that.’
Well at least this one made Tyler laugh.
‘Do you know what happened to Wyatt?’
‘Wyatt is alive, I wasn’t the only one that manipulated him. I noticed it during the interrogation, he wasn’t in his right mind so there was no reason to harm him. I am not aware of what happened to him after he was taken from our building, but he was not killed.’
Good to know he’s still out there to commit more deviant acts of revenge on Zeke, that’s great. Tyler could trust that Corey wasn’t a bad person, he had good intentions but had to do his job. But he had absolutely no reason to believe that Zeke wasn’t just compassionate enough to maybe get them killed because he didn’t want to condemn his ex to death. Wyatt seemed like an obviousthreat,it didn’t make sense that they would just let him go.
At the end of the list, Zeke had added his own questions, only two questions and they were much less serious that the ones on Tyler’s list.
‘What do you want for dinner?’
A redundant question given Zeke had not come home, again. If he’d come home, the answer would have been 'your tongue’. But now if Zeke were to ask, Tyler would be too annoyed to offer any fun suggestions. Zeke didn’t deserve to be rewarded, maybe if he’d shown up to dinner he would have been, but not now, Tyler had to be petty now.
‘Who is the guy on your screensaver?’
Hah, fair question. Tyler had very purposefully chosen a photo of his favourite member of the current hottest boyband. Shirt open, mid dance move, tensed and oiled abs. Had he chosen this picture in the hopes that Zeke would see it and get jealous? Without a doubt. Was he satisfied with Zeke questioning him on it? Maybe a little too much.
The thought of Zeke getting jealous, combined with just admiring the photo he had on his screen leads to Tyler to think up a fantasy, a good way to lose some time while he was being kept waiting to know what Zeke was really like intimately. He may not have the opportunity to act on the fantasy, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy it on his own. The thought that by pleasuring himself to the thought of Zeke, instead of letting Zeke actually touch him, felt again, like a petty act, which only made Tyler enjoy it that much more. Zeke was missing out, it’s a pity he couldn’t make it to dinner last night.
Tyler wasted yet another day waiting for Zeke to come home, and he was more than a little sick of it. He was completely desperate for something to change. He didn’t really care what either. Just anything but more of this. He’s thrilled when someone finally knocks on the door. Zeke wouldn’t knock, so he already knew that he wasn’t about to have the conversations he needed to have, but he was starved for socialization so he would open the door for anything and anyone right now, even if it was to be greeted by a bullet to the head. At leastsomethingwould be happening.
But thankfully he’s greeted by Corey. Who thanks to Zeke’s answer, he could think of as only a psychopath that’s medically trained to safely torment him while keeping himalive.Yay.Tyler was definitely casually suicidal enough to just welcome him in on the grounds of potential prolonged suffering occurring.
“How have you been feeling today Tyler?” Corey walks in, pulling the medical trolley in behind him. “Just here to check on your arm.”
“Oh, sure.” Tyler sits on the bed, waiting for Corey to give him some kind of instructions. Corey starts setting up everything he needs. He puts down a surgical mat beside Tyler’s side, then starts unwrapping the bandage. “Have you seen Zeke today? He said he’d be home for dinner last night, but that was yesterday.” Tyler shrugs, trying to act like it wasn’t that big of a deal.
“Yeahhe’s around. Last I saw him he was in G’soffice,he’s been there for a few hours.” Corey answers, his tone uninterested and his focus on unwrapping the bandage on his arm to inspect the recovering injury.
“Oh. Is he in trouble or something?” Tyler asks.
“No idea sorry.” Corey replies.
“Do you really have no idea? Or are you just not telling me?” Tyler questions with a sigh. Corey looks up into his eyes intensely, as if he was trying to understand every detail of where the question was coming from before he answers, andit'sscary how he answers so much more than what’s asked.
“I’m not included in interactions unless they directly involve me. G and Zeke have not invited me to be included in their conversation so I am telling you very honestly that I don’t know what is going on between them. Zeke and G often have long discussions, this isn’t unusual for them, and I’m sure he did intend on being here last night however things do often just come up and he has to attend to jobs when they are requested of him. He is a workaholic, I’m sure that much you are already aware of. Are you coping ok with being here? I know long periods of time alone can feel very isolating and it can trigger a lot of emotional and psychological concerns, which is why I wanted you to have the ability to page me, so if anything is becoming stressful to handle you can reach out and get help and support.” Tyler really couldn’t fault Corey. He came across much more genuine than Zeke even did.
“I’m alright. Just stir crazy I guess.” Tyler shrugs, but Corey was still eyeing him like he could read between the lines and knew there was something more going on. “How’s my arm?” Tyler asks, feeling uncomfortable under the intensity of Corey’s interested expression.
“Letshave a look.” Corey smiles and finishes removing the bandage. “Well, it doesn’t look infected so that’s good. I’ll leave the stitches a bit longer just to be sure, but it’s looking quite healthy. We’ll leave the dressing off because it’s a closed scabbed wound so there’s no enteral area for infection to occur and it’ll give it a chance to properly start drying out.” Corey says as he inspects it closely, a smile on his face as though he’s admiring his own work of stitching Tyler back up.
“Thanks. I don’t know if I’ve said that yet but I appreciate you sewing me up.”
“That’s what I’m here for.” Corey replies, going about a regular set ofobsto see if there’s anything he needed to be concerned about. “Is there anything at all you would like me to help with?” Corey offers kindly. Tyler is about to give a generic ‘everything is fine’ but just as he’s about to open his mouth Corey gets out his pager and frowns at it as he reads the message. “Uh, so G is asking both of us to go to his office.”
“What,me?” Tyler asks, now he was terrified and excited all at once.
“Yep. Message says, ‘You and Tyler, my office now. -G’.” Corey shows Tyler the little message on the screen. “Are you ready to go? He tends not to like being kept waiting.” Corey asks as he quickly packs up his trolley. Tyler looks down to check he’s dressed suitably enough to face Zeke’s boss. His brain running with all the different things this could be about but his main concerns were that he was being made to leave, or that heandZeke would be having to leave. He knew things were rough between Zeke and G, so he really didn’t know what to expect. Corey is hurriedly heading towards the door, so Tyler pulls on his shoes and follows him.
It was the first time he’d left that room since he had arrived with Zeke a confused blur of time ago and there was this liberating feeling of freedom to be out. He felt like he could breathe a little easier, not so constricted within one space. As he gets in the lift withCorey,he notices how wildly unphased he was, Tyler couldn’t help wondering exactly how Corey felt about everything. If what Zeke said was true, about Corey only performing torture techniques, to protect the hostage from G accidentally fatally wounding someone, then he imagined that he must feel somewhat resentful of G for putting him in a position where he’s forced to hurt people. His passion in healing, and yet he’s the one causing pain. He was so calm and casual about it all, Tyler didn’t know if he was switched off or if he was just this use to what he did, saw and heard, that he didn’t care anymore.
The first thing Tyler notices as he approaches G’s office with Corey, is that Zeke is still inside. That was at least some relief, because he knew Zeke would have his back if something was happening. Corey knocks on the door and waits for G to invite them in. There’s a confusion on Zeke’s face as Tyler walks in and Tyler feels this dread fill him. If Zeke didn’t know he was coming then he mustn’t know what’s going on. Now this felt more like an ambush than a meeting.
“Tyler, take a seat.” G orders, gesturing to the chair beside Zeke opposite G at the desk. Tyler sits down, glancing at Zekewhoseeyes were now set on G with an aggressive amount of curiosity. G takes no notice, in fact he’s not even paying attention to the three men in the room, instead he’s looking at a computer screen imbedded in his desk and typing on the touch screen. Zeke and Corey are both silent, simply waiting for G to engage with them. Tyler on the other hand is hearing every tick of the clock, every inhale and exhale from his own nose that made him feel self-conscious that he was breathing too loudly. The more time passed in this quiet room, the more he felt a tickle in his throat, tempting him to clear it and break the silence but he resists the urge.
“Alright.” G finally speaks, folding his hands on his desk. “I’ve got some news. We found a safe house that Tyler will be transportedtoimmediately.” G announces so casually it almost feels like a joke, except from what Tyler knew of G, he didn’t have any sense ofhumour.
“What?” Tyler and Zeke both sit forward in their chairs and say simultaneously. There’s another rush of fear that hits Tyler at the realization that Zeke hadn’t been involved in this. Last time he was out, he was scoping out safe houses for Tyler, it sounded as though that was his job now, but this time there was a safe house identified but he had nothing to do with it. At the very least, Tyler wanted where-ever he was to be approved by Zeke, someone he trusted with his safety.
“G. I was not briefed on this. You cannot send him away without my approval.” Zeke responds through gritted teeth as though he was thinking the exact same thing as Tyler.
“I do not have to run everything by you. This is what is best for us. Best for everyone.” G exhales slowly pressing his fingers to his temples as though he’s already done with this conversation. Zeke is about to launch into protest. When G continues talking. “however, I anticipated your disapproval. And came up with an alternative suggestion. We seem to have a staff shortage at the moment and he’s using our resources, so I was willing to offer Tyler an opportunity to earn his keep here.” G leans back in his chair with a smile on his face.
“You mean like, a job?” Tyler asks, stuck somewhere between imagining himself dressed like Zeke, running around with a gun ready to take on the enemy with no fear and, absolute fear.
“Exactly.” G answers, smiling over at Tyler. “What do you say? Stay and work for us, or go to the safe house? The choice is yours.”