The elevator dinged as the doors opened. Jason Blackforth stepped out onto the ninth floor of Austin’s Federal building and strode down the hallway to the FBI offices that were home to the fraud and extortion squad.

“Hey Jase! Good to see you!  You back for good now?” Bill North, one of his team, paused on his way to the men’s room to shake his hand and slap him on the shoulder.

Jason stifled a wince as a jolt of pain ricocheted through his chest.  A month ago that friendly slap would have brought him to his knees.  “I hope so.  The doc cleared me for light duty.”  He waved an envelope full of papers.  “It’s up to Renton, though.”

Bill grimaced.  “Maybe having you here will cheer him up. The ATF’s trying to poach your case.”

“The ATF?”

“Yeah.  Listen, I gotta go.  I’ll let him tell you.”

Jason made his way into the office, accepting and returning the greetings of his co-workers.  It felt strange after being gone for over three months, as though a subtle rhythm had somehow changed.

He rapped on Renton’s open door.

“Blackforth!  Come in, come in.” His supervisor shook his hand and gestured him into a seat.  “How’s the P.T. going?”

“I’m doing so well the Marquis cut the torture sessions down to once a week.”

“Does that mean you’re ready to come back?”

“If you’ll have me.”  He gave Greg Renton his medical clearance and sat down normally.  His shoulder only screamed a little. “I’m only cleared for light duty, unfortunately. No fieldwork yet.”

“Give it time.  You were pretty torn up.”

That was an understatement. The bullet had gone in his shoulder and ricocheted through his torso. His left lung had collapsed but the bullet had stopped short of shredding his aorta.  He’d been damned lucky.

Time slowed as Jason heard the percussive shock of weapons fire. The guard in his sights didn’t drop his gun when Jason yelled, “FBI!”  Jason hadn’t expected him to.

            Jason pulled off two rounds.  Red blossomed on the man’s chest, but Jason barely noticed because he was moving, rolling under the conference room table.  Distantly he heard Garcia whimpering.  Peters was on the floor, a neat hole in his forehead. Suddenly two more guards were there–

“Jase?”  Renton’s brow was furrowed.

Damn it.  Jason gripped the arms of his chair.  He hardly had the flashbacks at all anymore.  Why’d he have to have one now?

More. . . .

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