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Hot Pursuit

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Wasn't every day that you saw a horse-drawn carriage racing down the street. It surely wasn't every day a Mountie drove one in Chicago, either. Matthew McCormick was stiff, stifled, and sleepy from hours in a law enforcement seminar whose materials had no business being as dull as the presenter had managed to make them.

On the other hand, his conference was over and the only plans he'd made for the afternoon and evening involved the Art Institute's arms and armor exhibits or a jazz club if the hotel concierge could point him at one, then a late evening appointment at a salle with a friend. This looked much more interesting than the museum.

Decision made in the space of a breath, he stepped out into the street and called, "FBI. Do you need some assistance?"

The carriage shifted to come past him rather than down the middle of the street -- without slowing down. Matthew caught the arm that reached for him and swung up behind the driver who was saying, "Thank you. I can make a citizen's arrest, but this will be simpler. Constable Benton Fraser, RCMP, and liaison to the Chicago Police Department, 27th Precinct."

Matthew used the back of the bench, the front of the carriage, and inertia from a turn to swing himself onto the bench next to the constable, a skill he hadn't had to use in a century or more. It didn't surprise the constable, however, which made Matthew wonder what kind of partners the man usually had.

"Special Agent Matthew McCormick. Might I ask what we're hotly pursuing?"

"To be honest, we're pursuing that wolf," and Matthew saw that there was in fact a flash of white tail ahead of them. "I could say he's mine, but he disagrees and really, it's not worth the breath to argue with him. His mastery of logic is purely situational, I'm afraid."

Matthew cocked his head to study the man. No, the uniform was definitely authentic, and completely correct. No one but the Mounties got the lanyard and the boot lacing right. Impersonators always missed one or the other. Come to that, Constable Fraser ought to be on half their recruiting posters: thick dark hair, movie star looks, and enough earnest sincerity to give Dudley Do-Right a run for his money.

"Does he have a name he answers to?" Matthew asked mildly, although his grin kept escaping him. He had one hand firmly braced on the carriage from sheer necessity. "And for that matter, what's your wolf chasing that you expect to arrest?"

"Ah, yes, of course. That's Diefenbaker. I'm afraid both the Rays have accustomed him to answering to 'Dief,' however the difficulty is that he's rather deaf and has learned that pretending to be completely deaf is even more useful. And I regret to say I'm not quite sure who he's pursuing, which will make the charges rather difficult."

Ahead of them, the streak of white whipped to the right around the front of a delivery truck; Constable Fraser swung the carriage out into the next lane. "It might be the man who stole Mrs. Weinberger's purse last night, but it could also be the somewhat-disturbed individual who attempted to assault Constable Turnbull late last night, or rather early this morning. I can safely say," and Fraser guided the carriage through an abrupt right turn into an alley, "that it is not a pizza delivery man. Dief is marginally more polite than that."

"And I daresay delivery men can't usually run this fast for this long," Matthew said, trying to keep fascination and laughter out of his voice. This was not turning into a boring evening. "Unless they're on track scholarships, of course."

"Precisely." The constable pulled the horses to a stop and they snorted and pranced a little -- apparently, they'd enjoyed the run as much as Matthew had. Fraser wrapped the reins around the brake lever and swung down, petting the near gelding affectionately on his way past. "Very good, gentlemen, there will be carrots for you when I get back to the Consulate.

Matthew chuckled and scratched behind the off gelding's ear. "Work there, do you?" he asked politely as he looked the situation over.

The alley ran east-west, illuminated all too clearly by the late afternoon sun. The pavement was covered with muck left from garbage dumpsters, rain, and passers-through; the walls were covered with graffiti. The wolf -- and it was a wolf, he rather thought, not a husky -- had the presumed on the ground, which was doing her expensive jogging suit no good. To their right and just out of reach of her hands was a pistol -- 9 mil, Matthew believed, although he couldn't be sure from this distance.

From the fresh marks in the muck, it hadn't been there long at all. Matthew stepped to the constable's right, moving forward to get a line of fire on the suspect which wouldn't catch Diefenbaker. The wolf growled at his catch when she made one last try for the gun, front paws still on her chest and ears flattening against his skull. She aborted the motion hastily, more because of his bared teeth than because she understood lupine body language. If she could read that, she wouldn't have moved to begin with.

"Get this thing off me!"

Constable Fraser studied her with a great deal of impersonal interest and finally nodded. "Ah. I think I see. Diefenbaker." The wolf ignored him until Fraser moved into his line of sight, waved a hand to get his attention, and repeated, "Diefenbaker."

The wolf cocked his head, ears coming up, tail twitching with suppressed excitement until she tried to move again. He growled once, low, but kept watching the constable.

"Now that I have your attention, could you kindly tell me who you've caught?" The sarcasm rolled off him in waves, but it was so damnably polite that -- other than the accent -- Matthew felt right at home.

"Are you crazy?" the woman snapped. "Get the dog off me!"

Dief whined, settled his paws more firmly on her shoulders -- he was leaving a lovely pattern of pawprints on her jacket -- and barked a single sharp note.

Fraser rubbed a thumb along one eyebrow then said patiently, "Yes, I'm quite aware you think we should add resisting arrest, but may I remind you that Lieutenant Welsh cannot authorize you? You can't read them their rights, not to mention the 'Canadian in the States' problem. Are you quite sure Ray wanted you to chase her?"

One quick yip and tail wag answered that to the constable's satisfaction, and Matthew had to admit he'd have taken it for an affirmative himself. He was starting to seriously wonder about loup-garous (which would be no stranger than immortals now that he thought about it), when two pairs of bright eyes focused on him.

"I do apologize, and I'll be quite happy to pay for the call, but could I borrow your cell phone, Agent McCormick?"

"To call your partner?" Matthew handed the phone over without a qualm, government property or not. "By all means."

"Agent?" The woman turned her head to stare at Matthew, the flush from running fading away faster than mist in summer and leaving her pale enough to match the peroxide blonde of her hair. "What kind of agent?"

"FBI," Matthew said mildly, sorting through his memories to see what her reactions had sparked. Not quite hand in the cookie jar -- more like she's been caught when she can't afford to draw official attention, not like there's evidence here. Hmm. "Must say, ma'am, with that reaction I imagine the wolf did have orders to chase you." He considered what he could see of her, the long, rangy build, the distinctive ugliness of the hooked nose, and wondered why she was familiar.

She stilled her feet with an effort, far too aware that she was at a disadvantage looking up at the two of them. "This is false arrest," she snapped, speaking over the constable's serene voice, "and abuse by animal, and--"

"I daresay if you cared to press charges, we'd be happy to give you a ride to the station to do so," Matthew drawled, mentally turning over 'wanted' posters. Something about that nose, and the short hair, and the way her accent kept sliding from Chicago to Minnesota.... As he'd expected, that offer shut her up rather abruptly to plan her next move. Definitely doesn't want her prints run. Now, where have I heard about her?

Behind her, Constable Fraser was saying patiently, "Ray. Ray. Ray. American female, approximately five feet and seven inches, distressingly white hair, slim, in extremely good shape, long, thin nose broken approximately a quarter of the way down-- Ah. I see."

Fraser turned and asked politely, "Agent, do you have handcuffs with you? Well, yes, Ray, Agent McCormick offered to assist, and since he has arrest authority-- Ray. The Agent is not interested in 'poaching' your cases."

Matthew looked over, grin finally escaping now that he didn't have to worry about apologizing for harassment. "So your partner did ask the wolf to chase her?"

"Oh, yes. She left a glove at the diamond exchange robbery last Sunday," Fraser said, calm and reasonable as he stepped forward to stand between the suspect and the fallen gun. "Please don't reach for your weapon again, miss. Dief hates the taste of human blood. He thinks we eat too much garlic, although I've noticed garlic bread vanishes around him quickly enough."

Matthew chuckled. "Kindly tell your partner that he's caught a bigger fish than he might think, and that we'll bring Ms. Russell in if he'll be there to process her. The lady's wanted for a pair of thefts in Boston and Baltimore as well." His voice was far too gentle and reasonable as Matthew went on, "I'd take it amiss if you tried to shoot the wolf, Ms. Russell. And as a previously convicted felon, you've no business carrying that gun anyway."

"You can't prove it was--" She shut up as abruptly as she'd spoken -- probably from the realization that she was admitting too much. "I want a lawyer."

"Once we've read you your rights, I imagine you will," Matthew agreed. "Constable, when you're done with my phone, I'll get pictures of the scene. I don't doubt her fingerprints are on that gun, but photographic evidence always seems to make juries happier." He waved the wolf off her with a sharp hand motion; Diefenbaker whined, but it sounded a great deal more like 'But I was having fun,' than 'You're not in my chain of command.'

Constable Fraser nodded to him, still talking into Matthew's phone. "Yes, Ray. Apparently she's been stealing diamonds elsewhere. I'd suggest we press the charges here first, then run her fingerprints. No," and here Fraser glanced at Matthew, then went on, "he's not wearing a black suit, nor a dark tie. Why?"

Matthew pulled Nancy Russell up and began patting her down, then cuffed her and pulled out the card to read her the Miranda rights. Bad enough she'd be able to claim Dief had chased her down; Matthew wasn't about to let her claim he'd skipped something. Her sullen silence told him she'd been hoping he didn't know about that loophole. My. No great opinion of the Bureau's finest. He chuckled at that. I suppose she has a point. Took a wolf to catch her, after all.

Paperwork awaited, and tedium, and a fair bit of persuasion to convince the constable's Ray that no, actually, Matthew didn't want any of the credit for this arrest. Still. Matthew hadn't had this much trouble not laughing during an arrest since the last time Cory stood there and critiqued the failed bank robbery to the hapless suspect. (Cory never had explained how he'd been in the right place at the right time, but the bank hadn't been robbed since; good enough.)

For that matter, it was going to be a pleasure to have this woman off the streets. She wasn't likely to be tried first in Chicago -- Baltimore wanted her for the death of an officer in her escape -- but let the constable and his partner get the credit for her arrest, at least. Least he could do for gentlemen who'd made his day so memorable.

Matthew kept one hand on her now-cuffed arms, the other dropping to scratch behind the wolf's ears (since he'd so conveniently sat down in range, to the resignation of his constable), and wondered when he'd get his phone back and how he'd explain this charge.

"Ray. Ray. We can be there in forty minutes. Well, yes, of course you could, but the sirens would upset the horses and I do need to get them back in good shape. They are faster than I am, Ray, and they would have hated to miss this. Miss Mayer was quite understanding when I borrowed them. Yes, of course I'll compensate her for the lost revenues. Yes, and the tips. It's only fair. We can discuss it later, Ray, the agent needs his phone back." The constable returned it with an expression so carefully neutral that Matthew couldn't decide if he was concealing annoyance or amusement at getting the last word on that argument.

Fraser took Ms. Russell's other arm and began guiding her up the alley to the carriage, Dief pacing smugly along on her right. Matthew lingered to get pictures of the alley, the wider impact point where she'd hit the ground, and the yard-long, thin trail carved by the grip of the pistol, as well as one of the pistol still in place in the small dam of muck its slide had piled up. Only after he'd finished and checked the photos did Matthew secure the gun in a spare evidence bag. A moment's work let him scribble his initials and the time and date on the plastic before he dropped the gun into his coat pocket; it clinked softly against the dagger sheathed in the seam.

Matthew sauntered after the constable, raising an eyebrow as he heard, "No, Diefenbaker, we will not be stopping to get you a donut. Well, yes, you did do an excellent job in scenting and pursuing her, but it also took you entirely too long to catch her. I had time to get a carriage and follow you."

Dief whined in protest and the constable went on, "No. You've clearly gotten soft and I will not... no, you will not talk Ray out of one, either."

The whole thing had the unmistakable sound of an oft-debated point, an impression confirmed by the way the constable never took his attention off Ms. Russell, who seemed to have lost all interest in anything except getting away from them. Matthew managed to tuck away both his laughter and his grin by the time he swung up beside her in the carriage, but the whole thing made him wonder if this might be what approached normal in Constable Fraser's workweek.

Hot pursuit in a horse-drawn carriage? A partner who told the wolf who to chase if he smelled them? A carriage owner who was used to having her horses borrowed by an RCMP in the States? Matthew might have to call Connor, just to point out that at least this insanity wasn't the Highlander's fault. A similar call to Matthew's bank robber of a student might not go amiss either.

Say, after Matthew talked to the local SAC about any openings for a man prepared to work with a Mountie, a wolf, and their police liaison....


~ ~ ~ finis ~ ~ ~

 

Comments, Commentary, & Miscellanea:


Matthew McCormick is an immortal FBI agent from Highlander (the 5th season episode "Manhunt"). The Cory he refers to is a bank robber (also from 5th season, "Money, No Object"), and Matthew taught him. After hanging him for poaching the King's deer. Connor is Connor MacLeod, from the first four Highlander movies (really, though, stick to one and three). SAC -- Special Agent in Charge, the person in charge of the local FBI field office.

Constable Fraser and his (probably, mostly, kinda, sorta, when convenient) deaf half-wolf Diefenbaker are from due South. So are Constable Turnbull and both Rays (mentioned in passing). This story is actually not even nearly as bizarre as some of the canon of that show, believe it or not.

Les loup-garous -- French, for werewolves. Matthew spent time down in Louisiana, and stories about les loup-garous abound in the bayous.

Yes, they are moving to reading the Miranda rights from cards. It keeps the police from forgetting it, and the suspects from claiming they weren't informed in full of their rights.

Hope you enjoyed!