“As I told your partner, these results will never see the light of day,” Burns was informing Ty. “Your real evals will be given in two weeks. Zane’s in three. Until then, you are both officially on vacation.”
Ty was silent, staring at Burns until Burns actually shifted in his chair as he met Ty’s eyes.
“My dad knew you were sending me on vacation,” Ty stated. “He know what’s in that file too?” he asked him softly.
Burns gave a shake of his head in answer. “You know better,” he chastised. “But your father asks after you, Ty,” he said in a surprisingly gentle voice. “He worries. Maybe if you called home more often I wouldn’t have to give him news when I talk to him.”
Zane shook his head imperceptibly, feeling suddenly uncomfortable about being there. There’d always been something more between Grady and Dick Burns than merely a relationship between agent and director. Now he had some idea of what it was. Burns knew Ty’s family, and fairly well, from the sound of it. While their relationship seemed nice on the surface, he could imagine it was a nightmare for Ty, who was so protective of his privacy. Zane didn’t want to think about what he’d do if Burns had a direct line to his own father. He shifted to study his partner, whose face was stony and blank.
“Garrett, we’re done,” Burns announced without looking away from Ty. “Would you excuse us?”
Zane hesitated for a long moment and then murmured, “Yes, sir,” before standing and exiting the room without looking at his partner again. Once he got out of the main office and shut the door, he leaned back against the wall and exhaled heavily.
Well, it could have been worse.
TY LOOKED down at the file on the desk again, waiting until he heard the door click, and then he looked back up and met Burns’ eyes.
“I’m fine,” he said in a low voice.
“For now,” Burns answered. “Maybe.”
“Don’t do this, Dick,” Ty pleaded. “You take this job away from either of us, and we’re both done,” he said with a tap to his own temple.
Burns raised an eyebrow. “Is that so? Both of you?”
Ty cocked his head, trying not to react too obviously to anything Burns said or did. But Burns didn’t look away; he just watched and waited.
“What?” Ty finally asked, feeling uncomfortable under the older man’s piercing gaze.
Finally sniffing, Burns relaxed back into his chair. “I have it on very good authority that without this particular job, you would have three more waiting for you,” he said with a sigh. “From organizations that would be less concerned about your mental health than I might be.”
Ty shifted, trying not to fidget.
“I know why you stay here, Ty, and I’m grateful to you,” Burns went on in a gentler tone. “But I begin to wonder how long I can keep you here before you just go stark raving mad on me. They’re still cleaning up paint in Hogan’s Alley.”
“That wasn’t all me,” Ty reminded defensively.
“You don’t owe me your dad’s loyalty,” Burns told him, ignoring his interruption. “Don’t think I don’t know that.”
Ty swallowed heavily and linked his fingers together, trying harder not to shift around in the creaky old wingback.
“It’s not necessarily you I’m worried about here, kiddo,” Burns continued. “If abnormal psych evals from you concerned me overly much, I’d never get any sleep.” He paused. “Tell me about your partner, Ty,” he requested. “How is he?”
Ty met Burns’ eyes carefully, wondering just how much the man knew about him and Zane. But it was safer to play dumb than it was to try and find out. No matter how well Ty knew Burns, something like f**king around with his partner wouldn’t go unpunished.
Ty shrugged, deciding to bypass the other comments for the one he was comfortable talking about. “He’s struggling a little,” he answered.
“Why haven’t you done anything? Or said anything?” Burns asked, his voice flat.
“To who?” Ty asked calmly. “You? You telling me you didn’t know? Thought he’d be okay right back in Miami after all we went through?” After healing up from his injuries in New York, Zane had been pitched right back into undercover work. It hadn’t gone particularly well, and although he’d kept away from the drugs and the drink, he’d definitely been a mess in the head when he’d gotten back to DC to be re-partnered with Ty.
Burns’ face took on a pinched look, and he shook his head. “I made a mistake, Ty. It happens to the best of us.”
“Yes, it does,” Ty agreed. He nodded at the file on the desk. “My marks are low, but they’re acceptable. So I’m guessing you want me gone for a reason. Tell me what’s going on.”
“I’m juggling some paperwork here,” Burns informed him, his shoulders sagging to show how exhausted he really was. “In order to bury these current tests, I have to have both of you make yourselves scarce for a while. Nothing more sinister than that,” he assured Ty.
“Dick,” Ty protested weakly. He hated the thought of sitting on his ass, twiddling his thumbs.
Burns raised his voice, speaking over Ty’s objections. “After these evaluations go through, you’ll both be reassigned to the Baltimore office. I bet you’ll be happy to return home.”
Ty eyed Burns warily. It would be good to get back to Baltimore. He had buddies there, and he considered the city home after nearly four years. He was still living there through the temporary DC assignment, making the commute every day and occasionally shacking up with Zane in his DC hotel room when he didn’t want to go home.
The drive back and forth was murder.
A move back to Baltimore was good news. But he knew there was something he was missing here, some catch in the arrangement that Dick was about to throw in. He had a feeling he knew what it was too.
“Have a nice trip, Ty,” Burns offered with a smile. “Say hello to the family for me,” he told him with a hint of mischief in his eyes.
Ty stared at him. “The family,” he echoed. “My family?”
Burns just smiled and pushed the folders in front of him into a neat stack once more. Ty warred with himself. He wanted to ask questions, but he didn’t feel like getting into it with Burns about his family. Or about Zane. “Is that all?” he asked after a long moment of contemplation.