FBI Special Agent Caleb Moore threw his back against the wall and slid down to the floor. He drew his knees up to his chest and rested his forehead atop them. He took deep breaths and reveled in the silence that the breakroom offered this late in the afternoon.
He heard the footsteps enter the room, but he didn't look up. He still didn't look up when the feet approached him, nor did he look up when a tall man with sandy blond hair knelt down beside him.
"'Kay, what's goin' on, man?"
"I don't want it," Caleb said without looking up.
"I can't do it," Caleb said quietly, raising his head and allowing his light brown eyes to meet his coworker's for the first time.
The blue eyes of the second man looked concerned and that didn't surprise Caleb, their owner, FBI Special Agent David Stark, always had his back. Of course, now would be no different.
"You can to," David encouraged, "You have to. If you don't take it, Axel will. Then Axel'll get the promotion. I don't think I could be around Axel if he actually was a higher ranking agent than me."
"Dude, I just...There's no way. No way on earth. I can't do it," Caleb argued.
"Okay," David reasoned, sitting down, "At least tell me what the op is."
Caleb took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling, "They wanna put me over an op designed to bust the leader of some drug trafficking ring outta Mexico."
"Ohh, Mexican drug trafficking. Muy interesante. Joint op with DEA?" David asked, sounding a little too enthusiastic for Caleb's liking.
"No, DEA passed it to us. Its all in the Bureau."
"So you'd have full control over every aspect of the op?
"Dude, you've gotta take it. Things like that are what makes your career."
"Think about it. You choose who goes in, their cover, how you get the bad guys. You're the hero."
"And if I don't get my guys out?! That's their blood on my hands! For the rest of my life! That's the problem with you, David, you're too damn optimistic!"
"Suit yourself, man," David said tightly as he stood to walk away.
"No, you know what?" Caleb stood as well.
David froze, but didn't turn back.
"Why don't you take the op, huh? Mr. Big Shot Special Agent? You strut through the bullpen like you're goddamn J. Edgar Hoover! So why don't you take it?!"
"Because they didn't fucking offer it to me, Caleb! They only offered it to you and Axel! And if you're gonna be this way about it, I hope Axel gets it. Hell, I hope Axel gets the op, the promotion, and a fucking corner office in Washington, DC!"
Caleb backed down, "Didn't offer you?" he repeated feebly.
"Yeah. They didn't," David said calmer.
"Shit, man, I'm sorry. I didn't-"
"Don't worry 'bout it, 'Kay. We all say things every once in a while," David brushed it off with a grin.
"I'm just really nervous, David," Caleb stated.
"Why are you so nervous about this? We're FBI, everyday we come to work, there's a chance we'll be putting our own or someone else's life on the line."
"Yeah, but you know...this is Arkansas. Its not DC or New York or LA; I guess I just didn't think- Listen, man, I didn't grow up in the best of places, you know? Right here in Little Rock. I've seen what violence can do and I don't like it. That's why I'm here, but I just- I can't stand the thought of using my gun against another human being."
"An FBI agent who's afraid to use his gun?" David paraphrased with a smirk.
"Don't you even think about making fun of me," Caleb warned.
"Not a word," David said, holding up his hands defensively, "Plus, with me around, you don't need a gun."
Caleb smiled a little, "Was that you volunteering to fist fight any guy with a gun around me?"
David returned the smile and replied, "That was me sayin' I'll always have your six, man."