by Heidi

Warnings: Heidi Humor Fic. Eating and Drinking could be hazardous to your health.

Author’s Notes: Thanks to Cin (SUPERDIVA) and Brate for helping me write this, a story that came from a single word. Go figure. If that doesn’t prove my mind’s twisted, I don’t know what will.

Officer Benjamin "Benji" Cormick grinned. He’d just tagged another speeder with his trusty radar gun, sitting right in the median of the highway.

He pulled out into the Interstate traffic, got behind the vehicle, and activated his lights. The vehicle immediately moved from the slow lane onto the shoulder, coming to a gradual stop. The driver’s hands rested in plain view on the steering wheel, and it didn’t look like they were going to move.

Jaded by doing highway traffic enforcement for five years, Officer Cormick recognized the motion for what it was – a way to put the officer more at ease by not reaching for anything. It also told him that the person probably knew the routine – keep hands in plain sight until the officer requests information. Two types of people knew that information – cops and frequent offenders.

When he cautiously approached the window, he met the eyes of the driver, who indicated with an incline of his head to see if it was okay to lower the window. Cormick nodded.

The left hand carefully reached over and activated the power window, letting in the exhaust and burnt rubber aroma of the highway into the vehicle.

Over the sounds of racing cars, Benji spoke. "My name is Officer Cormick, and do you know why I pulled you over?"

"I was speeding, sir."

Oh, yeah, frequent offender, Cormick thought. No bull to start off with, and no attempt at innocence. Let’s see if he’ll lie. "That’s correct. How fast were you going?"

"Approximately 77 in a 65."

"Also correct. May I see your license, registration, and proof of insurance, please?"

"Yes, sir. I’m reaching for my wallet, and I am an armed ATF Agent. You will see my weapon when I move. Identification is in my front pocket, if I may?"


The driver reached into his suit jacket, pulling out the thin leather case that identified him as an Agent. He handed it over to the officer. His hand then reached to his back pocket, removed his wallet, and extracted his driver’s license.

"Well, Agent, I’m hoping that all I have to say to you is slow down."

"That’s right, Officer."

"Dispatch, Highway Three." The lapel mike on Cormick’s shoulder blared out Cormick’s call sign of Highway Three.

"Highway Three."

"Clear the air."

"10-4. Stand by." Cormick looked at the Agent, and then said, "Excuse me." He took a step away out of the Agent’s earshot. "Go ahead."

"Do you have the registered owner?" The female dispatcher read off the name and date of birth.

"That’s correct."

"10-4, showing suspended."

Cormick thought ‘huh?’ and then said, "Repeat."

"Registered owner of that vehicle showing a suspended driver’s license. Starting additional unit for backup. Highway Five, respond to Highway Three’s location."

"Highway Five’s en route to Highway Three."

"10-4." Dispatch answered.

With that part done, Cormick keyed up his radio again. "Dispatch, cancel backup unit. Subject extremely cooperative."

"10-4, Highway Five, direct to cancel?"

"Highway Five canceling."

Cormick walked back to the driver’s window. "Agent, I have some bad news for you. Your license is coming up suspended."

"What?" A disbelieving expression crossed the man’s face, coupled with genuine surprise.


"For what?"

"You didn’t know?"

"No." The driver shook his head.

Cormick reached up to his radio. "Highway Three, Dispatch."

"Highway Three."

"Does it advise reason for suspension?"

"Stand by." Ten seconds passed, and then the friendly female voice responded. "That’s correct, reciprocity." Cormick knew reciprocity was an agreement between states to share violations and suspensions, as if they occurred in the violator’s home state.

"What state?"


"Does it give a reason for the reciprocity?"

There was another pause, and humor was evident in the dispatcher’s voice. "Failure to Attend Driver Improvement Program."

"Any other violations on the subject’s record?"

"Lead foot by ten."

"10-4." Cormick rolled his eyes. This dispatcher often had a warped sense of humor, and her idea of fun was to call a previous speeding violation lead foot, and the violation speed was ten miles over the speed limit. "Was that in Arizona?"

"That’s correct."


"Arizona, Agent?" Benji stared at the man.

The driver sighed. "I paid that ticket because I had an upcoming assignment. Got the notice for Driver Improvement, and my Assistant Director was supposed to handle it."

"Apparently he didn’t."

"Nope. What do you want to do?"

"Well, seeing as you’re an Agent, I’m not going to write you any citations, professional courtesy and all that, but I can’t let you drive."

"I appreciate the courtesy, and figured you wouldn’t let me drive."

"Know anyone you can call to come get you and drive your vehicle for you?"

The driver’s head dropped. "Yeah, but they won’t let me live it down."

Cormick laughed. "They must Agents. We all have a sick sense of humor."

"Comes with the territory."

"You have a phone, or do you need mine?"

"I’ve got one." The driver reached into his pocket and pulled it out. "Please be there." He dialed.

The voice mail picked up immediately.

"Figures. Oh, that’s right; he’s got deposition all day today."

"Anyone else?" Cormick stared at him, hoping that he didn’t have to drive this man anywhere, and particularly did not want to tow the vehicle.

"Yeah. There’s lots of someones, I just don’t want to call." The man dialed another number.

"Agent Wilmington’s personal secretary and brain, how may I help you?"

"JD? Where’s Buck?"

"Not here."


"Whatcha need?"

"A ride."

"Sure. Where are you?"

"Anyone else there with you?"

"Yeah…Vin. Ezra’s ‘indisposed’, but I can get him if you want."

"No, no, that’s okay. Vin’s fine. Can you bring him with you and stop by to pick me up?"

"Hey. What’s goin’ on?" A raspy Texas drawl followed a click, showing someone else got on the line, making it a three-way call.

"I need a ride."

"Ya broke down?"

"No, Vin. My SUV’s fine. I just need a ride, and someone to drive it."

"Where are you?" JD asked.

"Side of the highway by the big bimbo billboard." The driver referred to the oversized billboard advertising the ‘tiniest legal bikinis sold in the U S of A’.

"Bucklin’s favorite. Ya get pulled over?"


JD crowed through the line. "What was that, Nathan? YOU, Mister-yell-at-me-about-speeding got PULLED OVER?"

"Yes." Nathan winced.

"AGAIN?" JD laughed.

"Yes, JD, but I can do without the commentary. I expected wisecracks from Buck, not you."

Dunne said, "Hey, no skin off my nose, you want Buck? Call ‘im, he’s with Chris. They’ll be happy to come get you. I’m sure Chris will love to hear about this."

Vin chuckled.

"No, I don’t want Chris. I want you and Vin to come get me. Now."

"Is that how ya talk ta yer friends, Nate?"

Nathan counted to ten. "Please."

"That’s better." JD sounded mollified and arrogant at the same time.

"Why can’t ya drive?"

The team’s forensic expert sighed. "Because."

"Well, we know you haven’t been drinking and driving, and we know the SUV’s okay, so that means something’s wrong with your license."

"Will you come get me, please, and I’ll explain later?"

"Sure, Nate. We’ll be there. ‘Ey, Ez, we’re going out. Back soon." There was a click when Vin hung up.


"We won’t tell him, Nathan," JD whispered right before he got off the line.

"Your ride coming?" Cormick smiled.


"Come on and sit in the patrol car." Cormick waited for Nathan to join him.

"I appreciate you not arresting, citing, or towing me, Officer."

"Call me Benji."

"Thanks, Benji. I’m Nathan."

They shook hands.

"If you don’t mind me saying, Nathan, getting suspended for not attending Driver Improvement is a pretty stupid reason."

"Tell me about it." Nathan rolled his eyes. "I thought the AD took care of that for me, because I was unavailable."

"He might have. You know how well the Motor Vehicle Administration’s run. And you’re dealing with two states’ worth of bureaucracy."

"Meaning instant screw-up." The Agent rubbed his face with his hands. "I don’t need this."

"Nope. Isn’t having a valid license one of the requirements for active duty?"


"From your expression, I’d say yes."

"Pardon the saying, but my butt’s now in a sling."

Benji chuckled. "At least it was someone who cares about professional courtesy that caught you. Highway Five, the unit Dispatch was sending to back me up, would love to nail an ATF Agent. He couldn’t get in, and looks for reasons to jam up any Agents he can."

"Thank Heaven for small favors."

"And I think your ride’s here, if that moving violation laughingly masquerading as a Jeep doesn’t rear end me."

Nathan looked out the back window to see the big grins on the faces of his friends. He got out of the car, Benji doing the same on the other side.

The lean Texan exited the Jeep, extending a hand to the officer. "Vin Tanner."

"Benji Cormick." They shook.

"So what did he do?" Vin didn’t even look over at Nathan, concentrating solely on the officer.

It was a role reversal for some of the times Vin called Nathan in the middle of the night to pick him up because the Jeep broke down, or got into a scuffle that he didn’t want Chris to hear about. On those occasions, Nathan would ignore Vin and talk to the officers involved like Vin was a juvenile delinquent.

"Driving on a suspended license." Cormick hid his smile.

"Do you know why he was suspended?"

"Reciprocity – Failure to Attend Driver Improvement Program in Arizona."

Vin turned to Nathan in question. "I thought Travis was taking care of that."

"So did I."

"Driver Improvement Program? Isn’t that where they send people to do a refresher class because their driving skills suck?" JD asked idly.

"And you are?" Cormick stared at the young man.

"Agent Dunne, ATF."

"Thanks. Just want to know who I’m dealing with." Cormick smiled. "And you are right, so whatever happened in Arizona was probably pretty bad."

Nathan shifted uncomfortably.

"Ya never did say what happened there. We let him go to a convention by himself." Vin stared hard at his teammate.

"It was supposed to be a vacation from these clowns, but it turned out worse than that. Benji, forgive me, but do you mind if we go? I think I’ve got a few dozen phone calls to make." Nathan turned to the officer.

"Sure. Get it straightened out, Nathan."

"Thanks. Can I have a card in case I need to talk to you?"

Benji nodded. He called Dispatch, got the incident number, wrote it on the back of a business card, and passed the small white square to Nathan. "Anytime you need me, call me."

"Appreciate it." They shook hands, and JD climbed into the driver’s seat of the SUV, while Vin followed in the Jeep. Nathan got in with JD, and they went to Nathan’s house, dropping off his vehicle, before returning to the Federal Building. There was no point in taking the SUV there when Nathan couldn’t drive it.

The trio arrived back in their offices, and the first thing Nathan did was call AD Travis, who promised to look into the entire situation. He assured Nathan that he did take care of his attendance and did not understand why the state of Arizona suspended him.

Ezra sidled over to Nathan’s desk. "May I inquire as to why you needed a ride? Has your conveyance suffered some mechanical ailment?"

"No, Ezra." Nathan figured Ezra would hear about it sooner rather than later, so he said, "My driver’s license got suspended because of reciprocity with Arizona. Which means…"

"What?" Chris announced his presence with his strong voice. "Nathan?"

Nathan almost winced. "Arizona suspended my driver’s license."

Buck asked, "What’s the reason?"

JD said, "Failure to Attend Driver Improvement Program."

"Hell." Chris blew out a breath. "You know what that means, Nathan."

"I know. Light duty."

"All because of that convention business?"


"My office, now." Chris motioned Nathan to follow him, and closed the door. "Nathan, you are the last person I expected this from. Anyone else, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I thought this whole mess was behind us."

"I’m sorry, Chris, but so did I. I had no idea."

"Travis working on it?"


"I know I asked this once, but why the hell were you riding on top of a car through the parking lot of the shopping mall? You know better."

"Chris, it was either ride on top and hold onto the other guy, or let him go flying across the parking lot. I couldn’t stop him, and he was too drunk to care."

"I understand that, but why did you drive the car later from the mall with someone clinging to the roof?"

"First off, he was supposed to be waiting for the cab that was coming across the mall parking lot when I left. I didn’t think he’d jump on the roof of my rental car while I was pulling away. I stopped as soon as I knew he was there."

"Just in time for the local police department to have seen the whole thing, and issue citations to the lot of you."

"At least they didn’t arrest us."

"Small favors. If you hadn’t of done it when the movie across the street was letting out, you would have been fine. But because all those people saw you, and all those people called, you got dragged down with the rest of them. That was not a call I wanted to take, Nathan."

"Do you think I wanted to be in that situation? The only reason I went with them in the first place was to stop the fools from driving back from the bar drunk. I figured there should be at least one sober person."

Chris ran a hand down his face. "All right. Enough said. Hopefully, you can find some things to do around here until we get it cleared up. You’re in for some abuse."

"I know."

"Until someone else screws up, but I figure that will be before noon tomorrow."

The telephone rang.

"Larabee." Chris covered the mouthpiece. "Or now." He moved his hand. "What exactly did he do, where is he now, and can I come get him?"

Nathan smiled, knowing that the heat was off of him, at least for the time being. He walked out still grinning, closing the door on his friend’s voice rising to a yell.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?"