Story Excerpt
Protective Custody

flame div

"You wanted to see me, sir?"

"Yes, Jackson." Deputy Director Malone motioned with his hand. "Come in and shut the door."

Christopher Jackson stepped into the director's office and shut the door behind him. He nodded to the other man in the room, a man he knew well, and walked over to stand in front of the director's desk, his hands clasped behind his back as he waited to find out why he had been called to the director's office.

"Oh," the director said when he looked up from the papers he was reading over. He waved his hand. "Have a seat, Jackson."

Jackson sat down, although he felt a little funny about doing so when his immediate supervisor, Special Agent Maxwell Bernaro, was sitting on the edge of the director's desk, his arms crossed over his chest.

"I need you for a special assignment, Jackson," the director began.

"Yes, sir."

Deputy Director Malone set his pen down and leaned back in his chair, rubbing the bridge of his nose between his fingers. Without the director looking straight at him, Jackson could still see that the man was worn out and tired. He had the beginning of light bags under his eyes and age lines that had never been there before.

Jackson wouldn't want his job for love or money.

"How long have you been with the agency, Jackson?" the director asked as he lowered his hands to his desk and looked at Jackson.

"Seven years, sir. Two years as a field agent and five years on the Alpha One Fly Team."

"And before that?"

Jackson wasn’t really sure where this line of questioning was going. "Five years with Navy Intelligence, sir."

The chief looked down at a file lying open on his desk, nodding as he read. Jackson knew it was his file. He could see his name at the top in big bold black letters. Jackson glanced up at Max, wondering why the man was here if the special assignment was meant for him.

"It says here that your area of expertise is technical analyst for one of our fly teams."

"Yes, sir."

The chief glanced back up, his face stretched tight with a grim look. "Do you like working in the field, Jackson?"

"Very much, sir."

"You came highly recommended by Special Agent Bernaro."

"Thank you, sir."

"Don't thank me yet, Jackson. You haven't heard what the assignment is."

"Yes, sir."

"I have a situation that requires someone with your unique set of skills."

Jackson's eyebrows shot up. "My unique set of skills, sir?" What in the hell was that supposed to mean? His one main skill was being a technical analyst. He wasn't good at much else. He couldn't even drive a car.

"He means you being gay, Jackson," Max said.

"Oh." Jackson wasn't exactly sure being gay was a skill—at least, not that he had heard of.

"Yes, well…" The director's face flushed. He looked uncomfortable. Max did not. He looked amused. The slight smirk on the man’s face was a big clue.

Jackson had never hidden the fact he was gay from anyone. Everyone on his team knew he was. He refused to hide it. He was gay. So the fuck what? Jackson just didn't understand what  sleeping with other men had to do with this current assignment.

"While this wouldn't normally even be discussed in the bureau, Special Agent Bernaro is correct in this instance." The director folded his withered hands together and rested his elbows on the desk, his face still slightly flushed. "Your unique skills would be of great asset on this assignment."

"My gayness would be of great asset?" Jackson glanced from the director over to his immediate supervisor. He wasn’t sure he liked where this was going. Never before had his being gay affected his job in any way. Now they wanted to use his sexual orientation? "For what?"

"Have you ever heard of the RAF?"

Jackson’ brows pulled together as he quickly racked his memory for the definition of those letters. "The Revolutionary Armed Forces, sir?"

The director nodded. "We've suspected for some time that they were moving arms into the country. For what purpose, we haven't been able to discover, but it's something big. The shipments that we have been able to track have been moving into the country at an alarming rate, nearly two a week for the last six weeks."

"Last week we were able to track one of those shipments to an Irish pub in Boston," Max added.

"An Irish pub in Boston?" Jackson arched an eyebrow in amusement. "You don't say."

"This is no laughing matter, Agent Jackson," the chief snapped.

"No, of course not, sir." Jackson instantly straightened his shoulders and dropped the smile from his face. "If you want to give me the pertinent facts to the case it shouldn't take me more than a couple of hours to get up to speed. I can have a suggested scenario for you by morning."

"That’s not why you're here, Jackson," Max said.

It wasn't? Jackson glanced between the chief and Max. He was a technical analyst. Putting bits of information together to make a whole picture was what he did. "So, what do you need me to do then?"

"The pub where the arms shipments have been going to is owned by a man named Hayden Flynn."

"Is he a suspect?"

"No." The chief grimaced. "He's a witness, a very important witness."