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A Promise To Protect - 8. Infiltration for Information

Zeke trudges down the hallway and peeks into the bedroom almost 20 minutes later. It looked like Tyler was fast asleep on the bed. Zeke decides he has to at least stay the night and be home when Tyler woke up, he wanted so desperately to help Tyler get through this but he felt way out of his depth with it. As he stands leaning against the doorframe staring into the room in deep thought, he realizes there was a very faint sobbing sound coming from the bed. Zeke frowns and looks over at Tyler, observes him for a few moments before he walks over to gently wake Tyler up.

“Tyler, it’s ok. It’s just a bad dream. Wake up.” Zeke urges as he rubs Tyler’s shoulder comfortingly.

“I wish it was.” Tyler sniffles and shakes his head “I’m fine, leave me alone.” He grumbles while he pushes Zeke’s hand off him then rolls over to the other side of the bed, his back to Zeke.

“I’m not going to abandon you if you need me Tyler. I’m sorry I’ve been out so much. I’ll come home more often. Clearly something has freaked you out and made you feel unsafe here and I just want to know what it is so I can do something about it.” Zeke assures him but he’d already ruined Tyler’s trust in that, words weren’t going to be a comfort, he had to prove it by actually taking the time to be present.

“I did.” Tyler replies, pulling the blankets up on himself nervously. “I’m afraid of being alone with myself.” 

“But you keep telling me to leave you alone and pushing me away or just not opening up to me. I’m trying Tyler.” Zeke runs his hands through his hair and presses his fingers to his temples, massaging them. Tyler scoffs and gets up off the bed annoyed, storming off towards the bathroom.

“Sorry I’m such a burden. Go out and enjoy yourself. I’ll still be here when you come back, whenever it is you come back. Maybe I don’t need you because according to you I’m doing a spectacular job of looking after myself when you aren’t here.” Tyler yells then starts swaying. Zeke gets off the bed quickly and rushes to his side as Tyler falls towards the wall , Zeke lunges forwards and catches him. He’d gone very pale all of a sudden and started looking around with tired glassy eyes, his breathing ragged.

“Are you ok?” Zeke asks as Tyler tries to support his own weight again, his knees buckling again and he finds himself leaning against Zeke.

“I feel like I’m going to faint.” Tyler mumbles, his head feeling heavy and hot.

“Sit down, I’ll get you a glass of water.” Zeke replies, helping Tyler slowly get down to the floor. Tyler draws his legs in and hugs them, resting his forehead on his knees. “When I’m not here, you do look after yourself, don’t you?” Zeke asks as he crouches in front of Tyler.

“Like it matters.” Tyler mutters.

“Hey, I do actually care about you and I am actually worried. Have you been eating? Drinking enough? You’ve been looking very pale lately and I didn’t mention anything because I wasn’t sure if it was just because you haven’t left the house in weeks or if you were sick.” Zeke tells him, lifting a hand to feel Tyler’s forehead with the back of his hand. “Are you sick? You don’t have a temperature.”

“I’ll be fine.” Tyler grumbles and raises his head. His face was paler than usual and he seemed really out of it, in a daze. I will get you some water and be right back ok?” Zeke states, waiting for Tyler to respond before he leaves him momentarily. When Zeke returns with the water he sits beside Tyler on the floor.

“Thanks.” Tyler sighs as he takes the glass of water, sipping at it.

“I’m going to order us some food, what do you like eating?” Zeke asks.

“I’m not really hungry.” Tyler shrugs.

“Are you ever hungry? Do you eat when I’m not here? I never see you eat.” Zeke frowns as he realizes this, his eyes scanning over Tyler’s thin shape, as if only just noticing just how thin he was.

“I eat. I’m just small. And under a lot of stress.” Tyler rolls his eyes.

“Well, I’m ordering dinner and we’re going to sit down and have a meal together, so what do you want to eat?” Zeke asks, nudging Tyler lightly.

 

“Here we go, nothing like Chinese. I bet that’s better than whatever you’ve been eating lately.” Zeke announces as he places the take-away on the table. “Worth getting dressed up for?” He asks, eyeing off Tyler who’d gotten changed while Zeke was picking up dinner, and was now wearing black jeans and a button up white shirt. Tyler smiles and looks away, distractedly going to get plates and cutlery, he glances back at Zeke and catches him still looking. Zeke’s eyes go to Tyler’s face, but he didn’t seem embarrassed to have been caught looking, instead of just looking away, he gives Tyler a smile.

So what are we going to talk about?” Tyler walks back over to the table and places the plates down on it.

“Whatever you need to.” Zeke answers as he starts dishing out the food.

“What if I don’t want to talk about anything?” Tyler asks and pulls his chair out, sitting down opposite Zeke at the table.

“Then I guess we can just enjoy a meal like the world isn’t a complicated mess.” Zeke gives him a sweet smile. He moves the food containers to the bench and returns to sit down with Tyler. They start eating in silence, Tyler regretted agreeing to dinner, the thought was sweet but he hadn’t eaten much the last few days and looking at a full meal was making him feel almost sick at just the thought of having to eat.

“Is yours any good?” Tyler asks politely trying to start a conversation in the hope it’d distract Zeke so he wouldn’t watch him struggle to keep the meal down.

Do you want some?” Zeke offers kindly, although his stomach was already feeling unsettled, he didn’t want to say no.

“Ok.” He agrees, even though his stomach was going to hate him for it. Zeke smiles at Tyler and carefully feeds him some of his meal. Tyler eats it and smiles at Zeke then takes a sip of his water to wash it down properly. “That is really good. Would you like some of mine?” He asks.

“Looks so good, are you sure you want to share it?” Zeke jokes, “I’d love to try some.” Tyler’s hands were trembling nervously as he picks through to find the best bit to share. Lee smiles at Tyler and leans in as Tyler feeds him the sample. Zeke holds Tyler’s hand gently to steady them as he eats the food.

Mmm that is good.” Zeke smiles. Tyler nods and looks back at the food, there was something so sweet about this that Tyler could feel his face heating up, he runs his hands over his face, hoping it’d hide the fact he was blushing. He couldn’t help but think of this as being almost a date or at least the closest thing they could get to a date without being able to be out in public. “You seem happier.” Zeke comments.

“This is really nice. I appreciate you being here and giving me some time. It’s been really hard being alone all the time.” Tyler replies.

“I’m really sorry, I really mean it Tyler, I’ll be here more often. I want to help you and I have been slack at it. You deserve better and I promise I’m going to take care of you more.”

“Thank you.” Tyler smiles, looking back down at his food nervously.

“You haven’t eaten much.” Zeke comments.

“I did tell you I wasn’t very hungry.” Tyler sighs.

“That’s ok. Just as long as you’ve had enough to not be nearly passing out on me again.” Zeke reaches across the table and places a hand on top of Tyler’s. “You really had me worried. Are you sure you’re ok?” Zeke asks.

“I’m much better, now.” Tyler replies, smiling as he looks from Zeke’s hand up into Zeke’s soft eyes. “You look really tired. I guess I should let you go to bed.” Tyler says, he didn’t want the moment to be over but he was feeling sick and the longer he sat in front of the food the worse it was. Zeke smiles and squeezes his hand then lets go and leans back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling and putting his hands behind his head.

“I’ve functioned on less sleep, I can stay up with you if you want me to.” He offers, looking back at Tyler. Tyler considers it for a moment, he wanted to spend more time with Zeke, but he knew it’d be selfish to keep him from getting proper sleep.

No it’s fine. You need your rest.” Tyler shrugs and gets up, clearing up their plates.

“Are you sure?” Zeke asks. Tyler turns to him with a sweet smile and nods.

“Goodnight Z.” He says, deciding he had to put space between them because there was way too much temptation to throw himself at Zeke but this was the first time Zeke had shown this side of himself and Tyler didn’t want to rush things, despite the pull for the comfort of not feeling so alone. As Tyler walks away with a pep in his step, daydreaming of the thought that Zeke was interested in him. Zeke’s walk down the hallway a few minutes later was weighed down with the guilt of what he was doing to Tyler, trying to cheer him up coming at the cost of leading him on.

When Tyler wakes up, he calls out to see if Zeke was still home. On getting no answer Tyler gets up and heads into the kitchen. It was pointless, he very rarely ate anything anyway, when Zeke wasn’t home he didn’t bother with food. He stood there looking into the cupboard at the food that he knew he wasn’t going to eat, ignoring the ache in his stomach as he gives up on that idea. He walks into the lounge room and sits down, turning the TV on just for some background noise. He was annoyed and with every passing moment the silence in the house frustrated him more and more. After last night he thought for sure Zeke was going to be more than just a mysterious man he was living with. There was flirting as far as Tyler was aware, the night before. The way Zeke looked at him, the way he touched his hand, there was no way he could act like that and then disappear the next morning when he promised he wouldn’t. It was more than just a let down this time, Tyler felt manipulated and lied to. Tyler stands up and turns the T.V. off angrily before storming into the bathroom in search of that blissful shard of glass. He pulls his sleeve back and lines up the glass beside the wound he’d inflicted the day before. His pale skin felt like it was on fire for a few moments as the shard digs deep into his skin. Tyler feels weak, his tears sting the newly exposed skin and he winces in pain then lines the blade up again beside the fresh scar and pauses. He sobs and lets the blade take away another few inches of undamaged skin.

He drops to the floor and pushes at his wounds with his thumb. The stinging was incredibly painful but he doesn't let up on the pressure, he lets out a sigh as the blood runs down his arm and onto his hand. His head throbs and his eyelids close as he starts to feel lethargic. After a few long moments of enjoying the way the pain made him feel alive and breathing through it as though he was meditating gave him a sense of self control. He body was in pain, he was starving and he was bleeding and yet he was able to remain relaxed as he went through the process. With a sigh, he stands up and washes the glass then hides it back in the cupboard under the sink. He washes his hands and arms then pulls his shirt back on and walks out of the bathroom and heads out of the bedroom, where he bumps into Zeke in the hallway.

“Good morning, how long have you been awake for?” Zeke asks casually. Tyler glances behind Zeke at the office door that was now open, there was a pillow and blanket on the couch. Realizing Zeke must have been sleeping when he’d called out earlier, Tyler mentally curses himself for being so stupid and not thoroughly checking the house before deciding that Zeke had once again left him to suffer the torment of his own mind.

“I’m surprised to see you home.” Tyler replies and turns his attention back to Zeke.

“You said you wanted me home more often so here I am.” Zeke smiles at him happily.

“Ok.” Tyler nods, almost sounding disappointed, although it was disappointment about what he’d just done on the thought of Zeke being gone, when in fact he was just sleeping in. Zeke sighs at Tyler’s response, it was as though Tyler had completely shut off his emotions, like he was afraid to show them anymore and without the context of what had just happened, and been happening in his absence, Zeke could not understand Tyler acting like this after last night. Zeke follows Tyler down the hallway and to the couch. Tyler sits down and Zeke joins him, sitting a little closer than usual, not that Tyler seemed to mind. He decides he needed to play the role consistently because clearly it hadn’t been enough to encourage Tyler to feel comfortable to open up, after just the dinner ‘date’.

“Let me help you through this, I’m here for you.” Zeke tells him in a soothing voice, placing one hand on Tyler’s knee and brushing his hair out of his face with the other hand. The gentle affection made Tyler relax a little, which was exactly what Zeke was hoping for.

“So, that relationship of yours. Was any of it real or was it all fake?” Tyler asks, leaning into Zeke’s affections.

“I told you before, it was my job. An infiltration for information.” Zeke admits, frowning at the question but continuing to exude warmth and affection by moving his hands to Tyler’s shoulders. “Do you need a massage? You’ve been tense so...” His offer is cut off.

“Do you think I’m an idiot?” Tyler asks, shrugging off Zeke’s hands from his shoulders.

“When did I insinuate that? I just want to help you.” Zeke frowns and reaches out to touch Tyler again.

“Yeah, help me by treating me like your next fucking mission? ‘Infiltration for information’ just like your ex? Is that how you approached him? I am not that naiive and honestly who the hell do you think you are? If I don’t want to tell you something I won’t tell you, no matter what stupid textbook manipulation tactics you use.” Tyler snaps at him shaking his head in disgust and pulling his legs up onto the couch, hugging himself and watching Zeke with a stern glare. Zeke sits up straighter, mouth agape in surprise at the way Tyler had called him out so quickly on what he was doing, and embarrassed to now have to explain himself.

“Hey, I’m really sorry, I was just trying to be nice. I thought maybe you’d open up to me and it’d help you. I swear my intentions weren’t to offend you or anything.” Zeke assures him, guilt written all over his face.

Well it is offensive. I’m offended that you thought I was just pathetic enough to not notice that suddenly when my attitude is inconvenient to you, you’d start coming onto me to ‘help’. Maybe things don’t mean anything to you, because you’ve managed to switch off your emotions so you don’t have to hate yourself for using people’s vulnerabilities to your advantage, but you’re not the first to try this shit on me. It’s not ‘nice’ to treat someone this way. Don’t play me Zeke, because I’m very lonely, I am very starved for connections and interactions with people and you are right here. Don’t take advantage of that, I don’t deserve to be treated like that.” Tyler demands frustrated but holding strong as he spoke.

“I seriously didn’t mean for it to come across as...”

“As transparent as it did?” Tyler cuts in, getting up from the couch too annoyed to continue the conversation, he starts walking away, but Zeke gets up and follows him.

“I wasn’t trying to do anything I promise. I wanted to help you feel comfortable opening up to me.” Zeke states. Tyler scoffs and shakes his head.

“I’m sure I don’t have to point out the irony in that one.” Tyler comments looking over his shoulder at Zeke then turning away again. Zeke follows to the bedroom but Tyler slams to door between them, making it very clear he didn’t want Zeke to keep talking to him. Zeke sits down at his desk in the office, raking his fingers through his hair while he considers what had just happened. He hadn’t expected Tyler to respond like that, he had thought that by creating that mood he would have the opportunity to find out more about Tyler. Truthfully he’d not had a normal relationship with anyone in years and didn’t know how to communicate with someone who wasn’t in his work circle, or as Tyler had bluntly stated ‘the next mission’. He felt awful for assuming he would be desperate enough to fall for it, he didn’t actually know how he would face Tyler after his blunder. And the way Tyler had stated that Zeke wasn’t the first to try to manipulate him, left him with more questions that he felt would be completely inappropriate to ask. More and more he was feeling like he was inadequate to handle Tyler.

Sorry I'm not updating as much as I initially hoped, I'll try to get another chapter up a little sooner.

Copyright © 2020 Littlelovestories; All Rights Reserved.

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Chapter Comments

Littlelovestories, thank you for this interesting chapter.

It seems like Zeke can't win for trying to connect with Tyler. I so hoped Zeke would catch a glimpse of a blood drop on Tyler's arm and expose the cutting, before something worse happens. 

Tyler's already lost so much, he is in desperate need of rescue.

I really, really hope this story doesn't take a wrong turn.

Tony

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Edited by Anton_Cloche
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Zeke should ask Tyler what ulterior motive would he have for Tyler to react like that.I mean what purpose would Zeke have to "play" Tyler?

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Tyler is seriously more troubled than Zeke can imagine.  His "self-medication" in cutting and starving himself is the outward expression of much deeper problems.  I hope Zeke discovers soon that he needs to help Tyler with others who can truly assist - like medical and psychiatric/psychological help.

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Tyler needs therapy to help him cope with his depression but how do you get someone such help when theIr very existence is a secret? Perhaps Zeke’s friend, who’s a doctor, could at the very least examine him and discern he’s not been eating. Zeke’s clueless on that point which is partially because he doesn’t want to pry too much while trusting Tyler’s word yet obviously something needs to be done. With Zeke trying to be home more I suppose Tyler will now be forced to eat more(as in eat period) as otherwise Zeke is sure to catch on that he’s starving himself.

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