2011-03-31 – New Orleans
I have a giant collection of fanfic, smooshed together into one big fat Alternate Universe, where I can pick and mix to my heart’s content. This is an extract, which I feel like sharing for no particular reason. Elizabeth is from the Highlander universe and is Immortal. Detective Reilly is borrowed from Sinners & Saints.
Beth tapped the steering wheel, staring out at the noon traffic. New Orleans, as patched and battered as the city was, was growing on her. It reminded her of Venice, for what that was worth.
“You’re right.” Director Watts sounded like he was quite over the entire conversation, and she couldn’t blame him. Her report had been brief and to the point: there was corruption in the Marshal office in the city, but it was spread over every department of every law enforcement agency, so the Marshals were nothing special in that regard. With the firepower she’d run into over the previous week, and the heavy-handed approach they’d resorted to, she was keen to make her boss understand what a futile mission it would be to bring the city back to being lawful. It was definitely out of her hands, at any rate. “I’ll pass your recommendations on, for what good it will do.”
“What’s next?” She asked, rubbing a hand over her eyes. It had been a tough week, and the thought of spending a few days driving was both exhausting and appealing. At least no one would be shooting at her.
“How long has it been since you had a break?” Watts asked.
“Dunno. Nine months or so, I think. Not since Delaware, at any rate.”
“You’re burning out.” He told her briskly. “Go and sleep for a week.”
“What? You’re concerned about my well-being?” She snorted. Watts seemed to think she was a soldier, nothing more. The opinion suited her, so long as it didn’t overstep the boundaries of their agreement. Until she told him she wanted furlough, she would go where she was sent, and no questions asked. In return, he kept her file as obscured, outdated and misleading as possible.
“I’m concerned with how many people have ended up dead since you got there.” He said archly. “They might have been shooting first, but the body count is too high. You can either take my advice and take a month, or I’ll suspend you.”
“Thanks.” She pulled a face, but didn’t really mean it. A holiday would be nice. Delaware seemed like years ago, and even that hadn’t been much of a break. She’d spent most of it staking out a dive in the middle of nowhere, only to get pipped at the post by a bounty hunter. Maybe a few days in a decent bed would be nice. Maybe she could skip home and surprise Jonathan. It felt like years since she’d gone back to Europe, and something about New Orleans had her missing the atmosphere there.
“Minimum of a week. Go somewhere quiet and sleep it off.” Watts hesitated. “You’re a good marshal, Fenton, no matter what else you have going on. Just make sure you’re not losing sight of what you’re doing.”
“I’m doing what I’m told.” She replied. “Nothing more, nothing less.”
“Right.” He didn’t believe her, but that was fine. She didn’t trust him much either.
She sat up; Detective Reilly was leaving the precinct.
“Minimum of a week, got it.” She said. “I’ll call you when I’m ready.” She hung up and climbed out of the truck. They’d come through the previous week by watching each other’s backs, and by agreeing that being shot at by the same people made for a good reason to co-operate. It was something to bond over, she thought wryly as she waited for him to approach. She could at least say goodbye before heading off.
“How’d it go?” He came to a halt a few feet away.
“The boss is not pleased.” She shrugged. “Take a month off or get suspended, I got to choose.”
“Lucky you.” Reilly grinned faintly.
“No choice. Suspended.” He glanced up at the precinct. “If I show my face there for any reason in the next week, I’m getting a parking warden uniform.”
She laughed, imagining his six-foot-three figure arguing with housewives over parking tickets.
“So where are you heading?” He asked. “Going to stick around for a bit?”
“Hell, no. This city has made it pretty clear she’s not a fan of me.” She shoved her hands in her jacket pockets. “I’m out of here tonight. Maybe off to Mexico for a bit. Prop up a bar somewhere and reflect on the choices that have made me such an appealing bullet magnet.”
“Mexico, huh?” Reilly raised his eyebrows. “Sounds pretty good.”
“You want to come?” The words were out before she’d thought about them, and she winced inwardly. As nice as he seemed to be, she always travelled alone, for good reason.
“Seriously?” He regarded her with an interested expression. She shrugged, trying not to read too much into his expression. After the tension of the last week, expecting a bullet in the back of the head every time she got out of the truck, she could do with a distraction. What better way than spend several days drinking with Tall, Dark and Smouldering?
“Sure.” She glanced at her truck, not quite able to meet his gaze. “Unaccompanied, defenceless woman on her own in a shithole bar in a foreign country? I’d be crazy to not take some protection.”
He laughed; she was about the most capable non-military person he’d ever met, and they both knew it. “When are you going?”
“I have to check out of the hotel, then I’m free as a bird.” She looked past him, up to the precinct steps. “I can be gone in an hour, but I’m guessing you’ll have to pack your beauty case. Give me a call when you’re ready to go.” She turned to the truck.
“Hey.” He was looking at her curiously. “Are you serious? You want to go to Mexco?”
“I feel like being a tourist. I feel not not waving a gun around.” She swung on the driver’s door, keeping her face blank. “Pike if you want, but I’m heading out tonight.”
Without waiting for a reply, she got into the truck and started it up, catching a glimpse of a disbelieving shake of the head from the detective.
“What the holy fuck?” She muttered to herself, pulling out into the traffic. She must have a concussion or something. Inviting a random stranger on a bender? And a cop, to boot?
Still, she thought, he seemed like an okay guy. And when he smiled… well, there were worse things to look at over a tequila.