I put on my suit, slapped on a tie, and slung my mag holster over my shoulders. Before I left the room, I grabbed my earpiece and radio: fiddling with the wire and attaching both devices as I headed down the stairs. I had a lot on my mind and the day was still young.
By the time I made it downstairs, the day shift was already releaving the midnighters. Agent Wyatt tried not to meet my gaze as Roy came into view.
"Boy," he said, grabbing a hold of my tie, "you really are bad at this."
I shoved my hands in my pockets, looking away from him. "It's been a day."
"Really? I couldn't tell from your restless eyes." He said, patting my tie on my chest as a job well done.
"Want to talk about it?"
"Not really. Is Kriss still here?"
"Yep, he's being relieved by Gonzales as we speak."
"Great, hold down the fort until I get back. Briefing in 10."
"Sure thing," Roy smiled, as he saluted like I was his commander.
I sighed but it was unexpectedly followed by a smirk. I hated that he could make me smile. I honestly did, but I needed it.
"Kriss." I called, walking up towards the gate that led toward the long driveway to the Belle.
Agent Kriss was talking to Agent Gonzo (Gonzales) Meade. Meade was a part of the rotation from the resident office in Charleston, SC. She was brand new, just got out of the academy two months ago, but she was sharp. Unlike Kriss, I could count on her to man the gate while we were out on the town.
"Good morning, sir!" She called, almost standing at attention.
"Sir." Agent Kriss said meekly, not looking me in the eyes.
"Morning, Gonzo. Head over to the CP, we will be having a briefing."
As I watched her leave, hearing good mornings from the shift agents who walked by, I leaned on the fence and stared at Kriss. He fidgeted with his backpack for a second, taking his earpiece out of his ear.
"Sir...I apologize for what happened. I know I shouldn't have slept on post. I...I just have been going through a lot."
Aren't we all.
"Like what?" I did my best to not sound insensitive.
"My wife and I are getting a divorce and she's threatening to take my son away. I knew coming into this line of work that I'd be on the road a lot and that I'd miss birthdays, Christmas, and everything else...but I didn't foresee this. I just...it's..."
"Take the rest of the week off." I said, getting up from my position.
"Don't make me repeat myself." I said, walking away, "See you next Monday."
I didn't need to hear Kriss explain himself any further. Our jobs are hard. Those who have families and are on a detail usually spend more time with their protectee than with their own families. It's ruined many relationships, so much so that agents began to quit to mend their broken homes. I've been immune to that stressor, but just because I chose to be alone doesn't mean that I'm not mindful of my agents lives. Deep down, I know Kriss is a good guy. We all make mistakes, and hopefully with a little more time with his wife and son, they'll stick around for the rest of his career.
"Th...thank you, sir!" I heard him yell after me.
I put up my hand, acknowledging him, as I headed back to the CP. I got out my phone, messaging headquarters about a replacement agent from the field for Kriss. After I pressed send, I was opening the door to the CP and interrupting the sidebar conversations of my agents. The laughter and cackles soon died down as I stood before them.
"Listen up! First, Lotus doesn't have any projected movements for the morning or afternoon. White House Med will be here at some point to assess him and at 2000, I will accompany Lotus to the Hanor. I will be the only agent with him inside the establishment. Lead and Tail will break off from the limo at Constitution and set up a perimeter on 5th and 6th. Copy?"
"Yessir." I heard the group say, but I noticed their uncertain glances.
Roy's eyes were on mine. His changing pupils told me he had more questions, but now wasn't the time to raise them.
"Secondly, let me reiterate this once and only once. As an agent in the Secret Service, you have three jobs: be vigilant, show up on time, and don't sleep on post. Lotus was injured last night and neither of the duty agents were privy to that information. If there is an issue, bring it up. Don't have me come to you to address the problem. So if that happens again, on any shift, everyone will be reaping the consequences. Am I clear."
I took out a cigarette from my jacket pocket, "Dismissed."
The agents began to scurry around, getting ready to take up their posts or sit it the CP to await rotations on the outer perimeters. Since there were no movements at this time, there were only three posts to man: Post 1 (the front gate), Post 2 (comms from the command post), and Post 3 (the main entrance to the driveway). So, there were three men standing post and three men hanging out in the CP. The agents worked out a rotation to where they would spend thirty minutes on one post, move to another and switch with one of the agents in the CP. Everyone got their fair share of work. Even the special operations unit around the Belle worked out their own shifts.
I walked outside of the CP, lighting my cigarette as I heard the door close behind me.
"What's really going on, Max?" Roy asked.
I put the cigarette in my mouth as he came by my side: inhaling deep and exhaling. I paused, putting one hand in my pocket as I tried to mold the words.
"Remember when I told you about Kai and I."
Roy looked at me then, his eyebrow raised in question. "Yes?"
"I found out that the boys who beat me, framed me, and sent me to prison are a part of the Manor Gang. They work at the Hanor."
I smoked again.
"How did you...you went there by yourself?!"
"It's my job to survey the area." I exhaled.
"And that bastard knew they worked there?"
"Are you mad?! I know a protectee has the right to pick and choose who they want to have accompany them to sites, but this...something doesn't sit right."
I agreed with him, but didn't answer. I continued to smoke, riled up enough but that only made Roy angrier. He stood in my face and plucked the cigarette from my lips. My red eyes connected with his, and even though I was mad when he stomped out my tobacco, I didn't react.
"Stop acting so coy! Are you literally just going to sit here and walk right into his bullshit? You've worked so hard to get here, Max. You're the most respected agent in the Service, so you're the one who holds the―"
I took a fist-full of Roy's collar and pulled him close. Our lips connected in a matter of seconds, startling him. In the years I've known Roy, I've never kissed him first. Even when we had a more intimate relationship, he normally initiated every bad decision I've made hence forth. However, watching how much he cared about me made me react in a way even I didn't expect. Our tongue's entangled as I pulled him closer to my body. I felt his hand slip beneath my gun holster to grab the back of my shirt. He was turning me on with his moans, but it wasn't the time nor the place to figure out our fucked up relationship.
I took his chin in my hand, parting our mouths. His eyes were longing but confused. I knew he had a boyfriend, heck I encouraged it by pushing him away. And now, in this moment of the unknown, I clung to him like life support.
"I hear you, Roy. I've always heard you, but this is something I need to see through."
He wanted to retort, but I kissed him one last time to stop him from speaking.
"All posts on Karma, White House Med has arrived." The CP stated.