The Traveler was sitting at the counter of the Restaurant at the End of the Universe when he heard a voice. Looking up from his pie (it was something like a blueberry cobbler and he was enjoying it thoroughly) he looked around to locate the source of that voice.
However, no one around him (there's weren't many) were speaking. And yet the voice sounded again, this time even more clearly.
He sighed and, with a wave, vanished the left over portion. He hoped that whoever was calling appreciated that he had to leave his pie unfinished to answer this call.
First casting a deity-level notice-me-not charm on himself, he then concentrated not on a scene or world but on the source of the voice and then traveled.
He appeared in a room that was far different than what he had expected, though he wasn't surprised.
The room, from all appearances, was a hospital room. There were two beds occupied. In one lay a woman, in her mid to late thirties, fairly attractive. From all appearances she was sleeping though there were bandages on her head, showing that she had suffered some mishap.
On the other bed there was a man. This fact was surprising because he had never seen a man and woman put in the same room. But the man would not have been able to take advantage. Unlike the woman, who looked only asleep, the man was hooked up to a large number of machines, monitoring heartbeat, respiration, and brain activity.
Investigating, he could sense/see that the man had suffered a hard blow as well as a gunshot.
What truly surprised him, however, was the source of the voice. Standing next to the woman's bed was the spirit of the man on the other bed. He was dressed in a red uniform, reminiscent of the Royal Guard though he immediately recognized that it was not the same. Instead of a fur hat, for example, the man wore a wide-brimmed hat.
And it was this man who called out in a voice that he could hear. Though he was attempting to maintain a strict stoicism he called out for any power that could help him to bring the men who had laid the woman low to justice.
Maarek got the distinct impression that the man was not in a habit of making prayers but this was an extraordinary event.
Being a god of knowledge, in addition to other things, he had the ability to read the currents of the world and determine everything about the man and woman and what had brought them to this juncture.
Seeing enough to be getting on with it, he cancelled the portion of his charm which made him invisible to spirits. Just as the man began his litany of prayer once more for help, the Traveler spoke.
"If you would cease your clamoring for a moment, you can explain to me what was so important that you would pull me from a location far removed in space and time to this place."
The Traveler was amused to see that man's spirit whirl around so quickly that he would have dislodged the hat he wore – had it not been made from a portion of his own soul.
"I'm sorry," the man said. "You have me at a disadvantage."
Maarek grinned to himself. "Well, you've been crying and wailing for divine assistance for your particular circumstances. Well, here I am. What was so important that you interrupted me eating my pie?"
The man (or at least his spirit) stared at him for a long moment and then asked, "Can I assume from your statement that you are, in fact, a divine being of some type?"
The question was, as given, given in a very respectful tone with no hint of derision. And so he decided to answer. "Yes."
"Ah." The man gathered himself. "I do apologize if I disturbed your repast. I was not aware that there were any powers that could actually answer my prayer."
"Then why were you praying?" he asked with some irritation.
The sheepish reply came quickly, "Well, it was on the very distance chance that there was anyone who could assist."
"I see." Maarek looked around and asked, "Do you mind if we took this somewhere else? It's not a very comfortable environment to sit and talk about matters."
"Oh, no," the man replied politely. "Whatever would make you feel more comfortable. I wouldn't wish to put you out."
The Traveler rolled his eyes. "You're the first man I've ever met, and believe me I have met a whole lot of people, who is so passively aggressive with their politeness."
The man expression took on a look of confusion. "I don't understand."
The Traveler snorted. "You are not as innocent as your manner suggests. Please do remember that I am a god, if you will. While I am not your creator, my power does come from Him." The man, he could see, could sense the capitalization of the word. "Everything extends from His Word or His Will, after all. But a god I remain, and I am not blind."
The man considered that for a long moment. "I see." He paused and then said, "I will attempt to prevaricate as little as possible."
"You do that. Now, where could we go?"
The man considered. "Well, my office is likely unused at this juncture."
Maarek considered that. "Very well. Walk with me."
Maarek led the uniformed man through the door. Outside in the hall, a man wearing the same type of uniform stood guard outside. The spirit stopped. "He is why we were placed in the same room. Constable Turnbull insisted that a single room could allow for a more secure placement. And then, once we were placed within, he began a watch. He intends to remain until the Chicago Police send officers to relieve him."
"A loyal man," Maarek observed.
"Yes. Trying at times, and quite annoying to our superior, it cannot be argued against that his loyalty cannot be questioned." The man had an exasperated tone when he spoke of the man guarding the door.
"You need to ensure his devotion is recognized when it is appropriate."
"Understood." The two began walking again. Very soon they were walking outside. Manipulating things, the street outside suddenly turned to the street in front of the consulate.
The man with him stopped. "How did that happen?"
Maarek chuckled. "A trick I was taught by my favorite goddess, a mischievous little minx who loves to steal the love of everyone she meets. Aphrael is quite … fun to hang around with."
The man didn't know what to say but accepted it. He did have one question. "If I may ask …"
"How does one 'steal' love?" The question was asked with perfect confusion.
Maarek stopped and considered that. Finally he turned. "Divinities of her nature are strengthened by active worship. That is not always the case. My boss, the being your people call God, abides. It doesn't matter whether you believe or not or consider Him or not. He just … is. She, however, requires active worship for her strength. And so whenever she meets anyone, she wiggles here way into their affection quite effectively and ensures that they think of her often. It's quite cute, at times rather amusing, and very manipulative all at once."
"I see. And if I should ever meet her?" he asked.
"Just love her. Love is one of those things which cannot be diminished by sharing it with many."
The two walked straight through the police tape around the door, the door, and straight up the stairs. There were crime scene technicians still gathering all evidence in the main office. But the man led him to an office that was closed. Walking through the door, the Traveler sensed what he had seen in the man's memories. He walked over to the closet door and led the uniformed man into the office behind the door.
"This is my father's office, as you are probably aware. Please make yourself at home," the man said earnestly.
Maarek snorted. He waved his hand and a chair appeared off to the side of the desk. He closed his eyes and called. He sat down even as a door at the back of the office opened and an older spirit walked in. "Benton."
"Dad." Benton moved to the chair across from the desk.
The older spirit paused. "Who is this?"
"Well, this is the Divine being who answered my urgent call for assistance."
The older spirit looked at the seated man. "I see. Well, then." The older man moved to the desk and sat down in his chair.
Benton asked with a slight amount of exasperation, "Where have you been?"
"Well, son," he gave his son his full attention. "I was out looking for the men who attacked you and the Inspector. Considering how important she is to you, I thought I could locate their current location and pass that along."
Benton sighed. "You are aware that you are dead and that my body is in a coma at the hospital, correct? And even if I could somehow pass the information along, how would I explain that to those who will ask? 'Oh? You want to know how I knew where to find them? Well, my father told me.' 'Constable, your father is dead.' 'Oh, I know. But he still drops by from time to time to annoy me and to give advice – whether I ask for it or not.' I'm sure that they would accept my explanation without question." The last was said with quite some sarcasm.
Before the older man could reply, however, Maarek let loose with a very loud laugh. It was, entirely, the most amusing exchange he had seen in quite a while.
The two Mounties, one dead and one disembodies, looked over at the very amused deity who sat with him in Robert Fraser's office. Finally Maarek spoke. "I'm sorry. But it's quite rare that I just run across things that are so amusing without actually going and looking for them." He calmed down and with a more serious tone said, "But I do believe we should get down to business. First. Introduce yourselves."
Benton started. "My name is Constable Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father and for reasons that don't need to explained at this juncture, I have remained attached to the Canadian Consulate here."
The older man nodded. "I'm Sergeant Bob Fraser. I was killed by an old friend who betrayed me and the RCMP. Being dead, I somehow have found myself able to speak to my son and provide insights from time to time. I exist in a sort of limbo between the living and dead."
Maarek looked at him for a long moment. "And you will until a certain matter is disposed of correctly."
"Oh?" the man asked with some interest. "And what matter is that?"
Maarek gave a small smile. "You'll see when it happens. I advise you to make a better choice this time. That's all I will say about it at this time."
The two Mounties looked at each other and then back at him. Both decided to leave that alone for the moment. "Understood." The older man then asked, "And you are?"
"My name is Maarek Ilumian, which means to those who gave me the name, Fury of the Light. I had another name when I was mortal. But that is unimportant. I earned divine status due to services rendered unto our Creator. Nothing more needs to be explained now. But I am the Patron God of Free Will, and also am a god of knowledge and travel. I move from world to world interjecting a bit of influence here and there to help them move along properly."
The men considered that. Benton finally asked, "If I may ask. Why would a god with your attributes get involved with this matter? I prayed for help but this seems outside of your stated areas of expertise."
Maarek shrugged. "Possibly because you were thinking about traveling to those who crossed you when you made your prayer. Or maybe it was because you require sure knowledge to ensure your suspects are properly caught and brought to justice. Perhaps because in my mortal life I was also a member of law enforcement and have great interest in ensuring those who violate society to be removed from it. Or maybe because I have great interest in seeing those who are pure of soul achieve happiness and love and your prayer was given over the fallen form of the woman you love. And maybe for all of these reasons, I was the one who heard your voice."
The man's face took on a look of confusion. "I don't understand. I am far from pure of soul – I have made unforgivable decisions. And Inspector Thatcher is my superior. It would be improper in the extreme to engage in a romantic liaison, despite urges to the contrary."
Before he could go on and on Maarek interrupted. "You're sufficiently pure in my estimation. I know about your former fall due to that woman. She manipulated you and while you did earn some measure of blame for the situation, it is far less than you would think. And you have made up for that in the grand scheme of things in your efforts to help those around you. She has, in some ways, repented her part in your momentary fall from grace and will trouble you no more in this lifetime. That is all that needs to be said on that matter."
Maarek knew that, in truth, the woman had died at the hands of another criminal when she became involved in another criminal matter which would give her resources to attack again. She had passed from the life carrying the taint of her betrayal and did, in fact, regret the pain caused if only because it was causing her some trouble in the afterlife. But, in his estimation, the man didn't need to know at this time and so he wouldn't tell him.
"I see." Benton was feeling some shock he could tell. "Well then, for your words, thank you kindly."
Maarek nodded. "And as far as regulations are concerned, I would remind you that you are not a member of a military organization. You entire life cannot be controlled by regulations. Society is changing. What would be unthinkable to accept will soon be considered less objectionable. And while you are required to maintain all discipline which your oath demands, as a man you are required to exercise free will. Expend your efforts to live your live fully rather than suppressing yourself. You will be much happier for it."
Benton took a long look at Maarek and finally said, "Understood."
Bob Fraser was smiling. "Maybe I'll finally get some grandchildren. I'd like to see them. I'm not getting any younger."
Benton rolled his eyes and said, "You're also not getting any older. You're dead."
"Well, that doesn't change the fact that a man likes to know his children are happy in life."
Benton sighed, a great put upon sound.
Maarek shook his head. "Okay. You both need to settle down." He huffed as he considered. "Give me a moment."
Closing his eyes, he once again concentrated on the currents of the world he was now in and gathered knowledge so as to see how best to achieve resolution.
Suddenly, a thread of knowledge opened up and he traced it forward and backward until he truly knew everything involved. A grin started to form on his face and the two spirits looking at him both felt nervous at how malicious it looked. Finally he opened his eyes. "Well. Benton Robert. Are you willing to pay the necessary cost to achieve justice for your superior, to catch and bring in those who attacked her and who laid you low in your defense of her?"
Without hesitation he replied, "I am."
Maarek looked at Bob Fraser and asked, "And you Robert John. Are you willing to assist in any manner required, to follow the orders of your son, as he leads those who will accomplish this police action?"
Surprised at being included, he nonetheless said, "I am."
"Good." He stood up and then looked at the other two, who also stood. "We're going to enlist more assistance. In exchange for their efforts on your behalf, you will assist them in a matter which they are currently trying to resolve. You will have twenty hours to finish and return, for the next phase. Are you ready?"
Both men nodded.
Maarek strolled toward the back of the office toward the door that Bob Fraser came through. After looking to making sure they were following, he opened the door and stepped through.
The two Mounties looked around. They were in the middle of a snow field, flurries flying all around them. Bob Fraser said, "I recognize this. These are the snow fields just southwest of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories."
Benton looked around. "It does seem likely." He looked at Maarek. "Why are we here?" he asked.
Maarek explained. Both men were shocked.
Maggie MacKenzie was traveling through the swirling snow. Regardless of the orders of her superiors and regardless of their purported alibis, she knew that Mark and Michael Torelli had killed her husband, Casey Richmond. She was a Mountie and she was on a mission. Despite the potential personal cost, she was on their trail. She would achieve justice.
As she drove her dog team, she looked ahead. Surprised, she saw a man standing in the path. And though it was extremely cold and the environment called for cold weather gear, it was quite clear that he was dressed in the standard uniform only.
She drove her team forward, beginning to brake as they came closer. The team stopped and she got off her sled to walk over.
Seeing the man's insignia she said, "Sergeant. Do you require assistance?"
The man looked at her and said, "Constable MacKenzie. Do you know who I am?"
She looked at him carefully and then her eyes widened. "You're Bob Fraser! You knew my mom." Her face took on a look of confusion. "But you're dead! I saw the reports."
He nodded. "I am Sergeant Bob Fraser, Late of the RCMP." He then looked at her more intently and said, "Do you know who I am to you?"
She considered that. "Well, you were mom's friend. You used to come and visit us when I was a child. You were always kind to us and made sure that we were kitted out during some very harsh times."
"Yes. But that isn't all."
"What else is there?"
He sighed and then asked more gently, "What is your birthday?"
"May the Twelfth. 1970."
"And your father?"
"Matt Stern. He died before I was born."
Bob Fraser sighed. "Yes. Do you know the date?"
She considered that for a long moment. "No. Mom only ever said the year before."
Bob Fraser nodded. "I wasn't aware until after I passed away. But Matthew Stern, married to Ellen MacKenzie, a thoroughly wonderful woman and one who was truly my friend, died in a mining accident in a mine near Colville Lake. He left for the season on June 14, 1969 and died August 30, right before he was scheduled to return to Inuvik."
Maggie looked at Bob Fraser in a massive amount of confusion. Suddenly her mind snapped to what was being said and her eyes widened in shock. "That means …"
"Yes," he said stoically.
She could barely get it out but she started, "Does that mean that … you're …." She couldn't even finish.
"Yes. When I was alive, I fathered a girl with a very dear woman who, despite the fact that she was married, comforted me after my wife died, murdered by a man who I had thought my friend. She hid the fact that you were actually mine."
It took a long moment for her to work through that information in her head. Finally she asked, "If you're dead, why have you come to me now?"
Bob sighed. "My son, your older brother, lies in the hospital in Chicago, shot while protecting his superior officer in Canadian Consulate, shot by a man trying to send a message to back off. He has no other living family. And he needs someone now more than ever."
Maggie MacKenzie considered what she had just been told. And in that moment the fact that she might find another clue to where Mark and Michael Torelli could be found became a much less important fact. "Is he awake? Can you talk to him?"
"Since I died I have been able to talk to him, and no one else. But right now he's in a coma as he heals. He will wake up soon."
"If he wakes up, tell him that I am on the way. I will be there as soon as possible. I can get a flight to Yellowknife and then travel from there."
Bob nodded in gratitude. "From a grateful father, who loves both his children: Thank you kindly."
Bob Fraser turned and walked off, disappearing in a snow swirl.
Maggie MacKenzie turned her team around and quickly moved to return to her home base.
The three insubstantial beings followed her until she was in the plane from Yellowknife to the next leg. With a wave of his hand, the woman's spirit appeared next to the plane on the tarmac. She looked around wildly.
The man who wasn't dressed in uniform spoke. "Don't worry. Your body is asleep. No one can see us unless I decide."
She looked at the man, at her father, and then at the other man. "That means that you're …"
"I'm your brother, as much a surprise to me as to you. Constable Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I went to Chicago on the trail of the killers of our father and for reasons best not explained at this juncture, I remained attached to the Canadian Consulate."
Maggie decided to eschew the proper words and said, "I'm Maggie MacKenzie. I'm your sister." She then threw herself at the tall figure. Bob Fraser watched with joy as the two embraced.
Finally the other man interrupted. "All this is well and good. But we've got a schedule to keep."
The two disengaged and looked at the man. He grinned. "Let's go."
Two hours later, the RCMP station at Faro in the Yukon Territory was startled to be confronted with a sight they had not been expecting. The doors slammed open and two of their own dressed in only red serge, despite the temperatures outside, traipsed in carrying a body each. Another one followed, an older man with the insignia of Sergeant.
The younger man was tall, very well built, and appeared to hold the rank of Constable. The woman, who carried her own man, was blonde, also attractive, and carried the rank of Constable. One of the officers recognized her.
"Hello. These are Mark and Michael Torelli, bank robbers. They have been arrested on the charge of murdering Casey Richmond. You can contact the outpost at Inuvik for the case file." The two Mounties dropped the unconscious men unceremoniously on the table in the middle of the room.
Maggie pulled a cassette recorder with a microphone attached from her pocket. "This is the cassette recording from the recorder I was wearing when they admitted to me that they had manufactured their alibis and had, in fact, killed my husband Casey because he didn't want to go along with their plan to commit more robberies because I was his wife." She handed the cassette over to the shocked Constable.
"Now. I could stay and complete the paperwork but the victim was my husband and I should not be the arresting officer. In addition, I am on the way to Chicago where a family member is in the hospital. I have no need to claim credit for this arrest, the fact that they were caught is good enough for me. I ask that you take their statements and ensure that they receive justice."
She nodded at the officers in the room and said, "Thank you kindly."
She turned and, along with the other two men, walked out of the post.
One of the Constables ran over to the door to catch her because they needed some report to submit for the file. However when he looked, there was no one outside the post.
The four insubstantial people stood on the plane carrying Maggie's body to Chicago. She finally asked, "Won't they kick up a storm reporting that I was there?"
Maarek grinned. "I tweaked things so that while they will fully remember, no one will make any comment about the fact that you were there is incontrovertible proof that you were flying to Chicago. When the brothers try to make a stink, they'll be confronted by this fact and told 'she has an airtight alibi' – it will piss them off to no end but they won't be able to do anything about it."
Maggie grinned back. "Now that's what I call justice."
Benton considered that and finally said, "Most appropriate."
Bob Fraser spoke. "Now. Ben's attacker."
"This is what we're going to do." The Mounties all were excited as Maarek explained, but you could only tell if you knew what to look for. It was poetic justice.
Maarek and the two male Mounties were standing outside of the bar which Fraser had visited with Ray Vecchio during his first trip to Chicago. He asked the two, "Are we clear as to what I expect you to do?"
"Yes," Ben said. "Though it does seem to be on the very edge of acceptable behavior."
Bob Fraser, however, was more old school. "No. It's fine. You've been here before and you know what kind of people are inside. I find this mission most appropriate."
Ben paused as he considered that. He let through with only a very small smile as he said, "Very well. Let's get to it."
As Maarek stood outside, he waited and watched and listened. In a very short order, there were cries of outrage, sounds of fighting, and a lot of other things. There were even a few gunshots that could be heard. It took about ten minutes but it soon became much quieter.
After another ten minutes, the two Mounties exited. Standing between them was a terrified man holding a sealed envelope and a baggie containing a gun.
He looked at them and said, "The 27th Precinct?" He did not sound happy.
"Yes," Ben said. "That is exactly right. You will meet my sister outside and she will walk you in. At that point, you will no longer see us."
"Do I really have to …."
The older Mountie asked, "Considering what you just saw, do you really want to change your mind?"
"No!" The man paused and repeated. "No. Of course not. I am willing to turn myself in and testify for a chance at a lighter sentence."
"Good. Let's go."
Maarek couldn't be seen by these three – he had brought up his spell to full power.
With a bit of walking, he found himself walking next to Maggie, who had just come from the airport.
He cancelled the extra layer of his spell. Maggie immediately saw him. "How did it go?"
"Mr. Sam Concitti, aka Sammy Knuckles, will join you outside of the 27th precinct in just ten minutes. You should make it there with plenty of time."
"Good." The two walked along and then finally Maggie said, "Thank you kindly for your assistance. I've been chasing my husband's killers for a while."
"I know. You know what I am. Do you know why I helped you?" he asked.
She considered that and finally said, "No. I'm Ben's sister but we didn't know that. So I'm not sure why you helped me."
He looked over and smiled at her. "Because as soon as you were told that you had a brother and that he needed you, you dropped the idea of revenge. You gave up your obsession in the name of familial love. You came very close to crossing a line, but you remained true to yourself and your oath. I respect that. If you had refused and continued on your quest in the face of that information, I would have respected you far, far less."
Maggie considered that. Finally she looked to the man/god who had helped her and her brother and said, "Thank you kindly for what you have done."
He shrugged. "I just gave you a little push and a little power. You did the hard work. Many people pray for miracles. There aren't that many that happen. It's not that we gods are indifferent, it's that we see things in a much different way. One person, in the grand scheme of things, has a very small part – no matter how good or bad they are. This," he motioned back toward the distant bar, "this was valuable. The Chicago underworld was getting way out of control. The rumors which will result from this will make the city and the world a better place. It will give people who remember a bit more control of their less than acceptable impulses. For the rest of you, all you can do is handle what is in front of you. The rest will attend to itself."
Maggie nodded as she considered that statement.
Maarek grinned before he disappeared on her. "Oh. I do want to tell you that Stanley 'Ray' Kowalski, who is currently playing Ray Vecchio, is a very good man. Your judgment as regards Casey was, in the end, good. You made him a better man. He just paid the price of past sins. So don't worry when you make a judgment about other men. Men like Ray, your brother's partner. The world can only be improved with more love in it."
With that, he left behind a shocked woman outside of the 27th Police Precinct of the Chicago Police Department.
Ray Kowalski, was furiously looking through files for any clue on where he should look for the man who attacked his partner and best friend, Fraser. The forensics weren't looking promising and he was in a coma, which meant he couldn't give any information. His boss, the Ice Queen, hadn't seen enough of her attacker to give a good description so he, along with every other cop in the precinct, were running against brick walls in trying to catch the perp.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of red, usually associated with his friend. Quickly looking up he was disappointed that it wasn't Fraser but at the same time he was almost completely flummoxed by the attractive woman who was wearing the exact same kind of uniform. She stopped and said, "I'm looking for Detective Ray Vecchio?"
He immediately stood up to catch her attention as all the men in the room started drooling, to his annoyance. "I'm Ray."
She smiled at him and then pointed the man with her toward his desk. "Detective. I'm Constable Maggie MacKenzie out of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. I came to Chicago because I heard that my brother, Constable Benton Fraser, was in the hospital and I was told that you worked with him and could help me. On my way in, this man approached me and asked me to accompany him inside."
He looked at the man. "Who are you?" he asked.
Before he could talk, Maggie continued on. She pulled out an envelope. "This is Mr. Sam Concitti, oblique stroke, Sammy Knuckles. He is an enforcer for one Gino Ceretti, who ordered him to attack Inspector Thatcher. Contained within this letter is his confession." She handed it over and then pulled a baggie from her pocket. "This is a plastic bag containing the weapon he fired when he shot my brother." She set this on the desk. "He has given himself up willingly and asks that the District Attorney arrange for a lower sentence in exchange for his testimony against his boss and fellow criminals. As you are my brother's partner, I brought him to you."
The entire room was shocked for a very short time. But very quickly that was broken and a newly invigorated Detective Squad began all the necessary steps to arrest the man and ensure he remained protected so that he could help them with their work against organized crime in the city.
Maggie waited patiently until Ray could drive her to the hospital. At a certain point she was distracted by a large nose which inserted itself into her side. She looked down. "Well, hello there! Who are you?" She pet the canine even as she catalogued his breed and temperament.
A woman, young and attractive, said, "That's Fraser's wolf. I've been watching him while he's in the hospital. His name's Diefenbaker. He's deaf."
She grinned in delight as she got to know him. "I'm Maggie. Your companion is my brother. I came here to see him." Soon, however, the happy wolf moved away and grabbed something.
Ray's voice, returning from the back, called out, "What are you doing? That's my donut! Get your own!"
Maggie looked up in surprise at the smiling man who watched the wolf who showed no guilt as he moved to a safe place to devour the treat. "Does that happen often?" she asked.
Ray grinned sadly. "He's got a sweet tooth, that wolf. Fraser's always on him about it but he don't listen none. But I'm not as mad as I seem. It's good to see him happy – he was very upset after what happened at the Consulate."
"Understood," she said with a sad smile. She looked over and saw Diefenbaker making his way back after having swallowed the donut entirely. She once again started caressing him.
And fifteen minutes later Ray stood up. "Okay. That's as far as we can take it for now until the DA talks to him. Why don't you come with me and I'll bring ya over to the hospital to see Benny."
She stood up. "I'd like that. Thank you kindly."
"Is that some Canadian thing? Fraser says it the same way exactly." He said this in a very curious tone.
Maggie shrugged with a smile. Ray shook his head and then looked over at the wolf who had lain down near the radiator. "Dief! We're going to the hospital!"
The wolf immediately jumped up and was ready to go. "Just don't make a mess in the car," he admonished the wolf with a half friendly/half scolding tone. Dief gave a whining protest. "That's what you say now. You better behave."
The wolf shook his head in denial and turned to the door, the two following him. Several more people began also leaving to make their way to visit.
As they made their way inside, Maggie noticed that many people seemed to notice her, and all of them seemed to be interested in her travel. It was worse when they got to Fraser's floor. She asked Ray, "Who are all these people watching us?" She was a bit nervous because she wasn't used to a large city at all.
Ray looked around and said, "I recognize some of dem – they're people me and Fraser have helped on our cases. I guess some of them Fraser probably helped by himself – he's like that."
Maggie was surprised. Many people were looking interested and a bit hopeful as she made her way to the room Ray was taking her too. Ray paused briefly as said, "Inspector! You're up! How ya doing?"
The attractive woman who had a bandage on her head said, "Detective. I've been released as long as I don't strain myself. I'm here because Be … Constable Fraser is still unconscious though he has been showing signs of coming to consciousness." She looked enquiringly at the female Mountie with the Detective.
Maggie came to attention. "Sir! Constable Margaret MacKenzie, RCMP, currently posted to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. I took a leave and came when I heard that my brother, Constable Fraser, had been hurt and was in the hospital."
The woman was surprised. "Your brother? I wasn't aware that Constable Fraser had a sister." Her tone was suspicious.
"It was something we only recently learned ourselves. His father and my mother were quite close for a while after our father's wife died. I found that I was the result. Considering neither of us have other immediate family, I came as soon as I heard he was here."
"I see." The Inspector looked a bit incredulous.
"Sir. I am pleased to report that Detective Ray Vecchio of the Chicago Police Department, has placed into custody the man who attacked you and Constable Fraser at the Canadian Consulate. He has provided a signed confession and the gun used in the attack. He was acting under orders and has agreed to testify against his organized crime compatriots so that they, too, can be brought to justice."
"At ease, Constable." The Inspector turned to Ray. "Detective? Is this true?"
"Yes, Ma'am. Signed, sealed, and delivered to the DA. My ex was quite happy to verify his statement. He'll do time, even if he testifies."
"Well, Detective. I am very pleased to hear that. My thanks and the thanks of the Canadian Government for the swift arrest."
Ray was sheepish as he said, "Actually, I didn't have much to do with it to be honest. He decided to walk in himself. He was feelin' guilty an' all. You don't have to thank me fer dat." His tone became more colloquial as his nervousness appeared. The Inspector had noted this in the past as well.
The Inspector sighed but smiled. "Still. You did catch him and it sounds like this incident will prove more positive if he leads to catching more criminals. You did your job well – accept it." She said, "Positive as long as the Constable recovers fully of course." She was a bit forlorn.
"I agree with dat completely." He gave a friendly smile to her to try to cheer her. "Can we go in and see him?" he asked.
She considered it. "We were told to keep it to a minimum, but Constable MacKenzie is family and you're his friend. Come on."
The three went in to the room past the police officers who had been watching, who likely would no longer be needed. Maggie immediately saw that yes, this was the same man she had just spent hours with in spirit form.
None of the three noticed that several people had followed in. Diefenbaker moved to the other side and immediately put his paws up on the side of the bed and licked Fraser's face.
Welch, Frannie, and a couple of detectives also followed but stayed near the door.
Meg would normally have admonished the wolf but Fraser was unconscious and the wolf was sad. Even she could see that.
However, as soon as the wolf licked the man's face, his face immediately reacted as though bothered.
Inspector Thatcher was surprised. "Fraser?" she asked hopefully.
Suddenly Fraser's eyes sprung open and he stared at the ceiling to determine where he was. "Oh, dear."
Everyone was suddenly much happier. "Constable. You're awake," Meg said with poorly hidden joy.
His eyes darted over and he turned his head. "You're okay!"
She smiled and said, "Yes. Your actions prevented me from getting injured more severely. You were wounded defending me. The attacker apparently ran off even as you went unconscious."
"I see." He looked at her and then said, "Permission to be blunt?"
She was confused but replied, "Go ahead, Constable."
He sighed and said, "Considering how I feel and that I am likely going to be off duty for at least four weeks as I heal, I believe that normal discipline can be suspended. As such, I feel much more confident in my ability to say: Meg? I love you."
"Constable! Are you under the influence of drugs?"
He smiled and said, "No. I have strict instructions with this hospital that I should be given a minimum of medication. My mind is as clear as it ever was. So, my statement should not be construed as being under the influence."
There were gasps of surprise and shock from behind. "We aren't alone!" she whispered urgently. "This might be a topic better spoken of in private."
He considered that and said, "I don't think so. I just screwed up the courage and I refuse to hide the fact. I loved you on the train, I loved you when we spoke in semaphore outside the court room, I loved you when we were together on the Bounty. Here, there, now, then, alone, in front of an audience. Time and place matter little in how I feel."
Meg looked deeply in his eyes and finally said, "We definitely should discuss this further. But I do believe that return your affections in full." Her tone was slightly sheepish.
He grinned at that.
Behind them, a sound of protest was heard. "Uggh! All the good ones are taken!" Frannie Vecchio stormed up to the bed and looked at the Inspector. "You better take good care of him and treat him the way he deserves or I'm going to march in and take him from you!"
In shock she looked at the fuming Francesca Vecchio and the said, "Understood." Impulsively she reached out and brought her into an embrace."
Frannie tried to fight it at first but suddenly gave up and returned the hug as she watched Fraser looking at them both. She pulled back and said, "If I have to give him up for someone, I'd rather it be someone he loves and who loves him."
"Thank you kindly," she replied.
Frannie gave one more long look toward Fraser, sighed, and then retreated out of the room to find a place to cry. Dreams died hard.
Fraser looked over at the happy wolf still next to the bed and said, "Go after her. Make certain she is alright."
The Wolf gave a half bark and immediately ran out of the room after the distraught woman.
Maarek, who was disillusioned, exerted a small part of his will and Constable Renfield Turnball, as a result, overcame that small hesitation and rushed after the wolf to, hopefully, provide a little comfort.
After she had cried a bit into the wolf's fur (and that was a comfort) she noticed to figure who waited and watched, empathy on his face. "Turnbull. What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to make certain that you were alright."
She gauged his honesty. She wanted to be mad but she could see he was being kind. "Yeah. Pathetic Francesca. Going for the unattainably perfect guy."
Turnbull immediately disagreed. "I don't find you pathetic at all. In fact, I am stunned by your strength."
She looked at him confused. "What do you mean? You were there when it happened."
He nodded. "Yes. I heard the Inspector and the Constable as well. I have been watching and waiting for such a thing to occur for a while. I was also aware of your feelings. When you finally saw them stop lying to themselves, you could have done many things. You could have undermined them, you could have ignored their wishes, you could have created much anger with those around them. Instead you immediately recognized that they fit together and, as such, you gave up a dream you've had for a long time. You put their needs first. And I find that incredibly honorable, incredibly giving. How can you then call yourself pathetic?" he asked the last with a tone of confusion.
She gave the man a long look. She had ignored the other Mountie in the face of Fraser's sterling qualities, but was he truly worth less? She smiled at him. "Come over here and sit down. Tell me about yourself."
Turnbull moved slowly to sit next to her even as the wolf retreated to go back to his Human.
Back in the room, Constable Fraser and Inspector Thatcher spent a long moment communing with each other until Meg stepped back and said, "Constable Fraser. This is …"
Fraser smiled and said with delight, "Maggie!"
She smiled and moved forward to give him a small hug – he was in a hospital bed.
"Hello, Brother. I see you've got yourself into a bit of a situation."
"Yes. Well. I was only doing my duty. The man had the effrontery to attack one of our own and …" Maggie interrupted him.
"You just were upset that he was attacking the woman you loved."
Fraser blushed a bit at did Meg. "Well, there was some of that as well."
"Fraser! Why didn't you tell me you had a sister?" Ray asked in an annoyed tone.
"I'm sorry, Ray. I truly found out a very short time ago and literally had no chance to tell you. If there had been a chance, you would have been the first to know."
"Even before me?" Meg asked archly.
"Well, Meg, I'm sorry. My relationship with Ray …."
She chuckled. "Save your breath. While the detective has many sterling qualities, I can't understand the relationship between you two. But it's a part of who you are, so I will just have to accept it."
With that, Ray and Fraser both gave her a large smile. She quite enjoyed the easy acceptance of her manner.
In the back, Lt. Welch's voice could be heard. "Constable, Inspector. I assume that the Detective has told you we have the man who attacked you both in custody."
The Inspector spoke, "Constable MacKenzie and Detective Ray told me immediately. We hadn't had a chance to inform Constable Fraser yet. But I am certain he is as happy as I was to hear this."
"Oh, yes, Leftenant. Quite happy."
"Good. The DA is taking his statement and he's going to open up a lot of arrests. We're going to be able to take a big bite out of organized crime from this."
"I am quite pleased to hear that, Leftenant." Meg echoed his statement.
Suddenly there was a commotion outside. Everyone turned to the door. Stella Kowalkski marched into the room. She looked at the man in the bed. "How can this be?"
"How can what be?" Ray asked pugnatiously.
"I was just given a report that Constable Fraser and an older member of his organization just assaulted a bar full of people over on 4th."
Meg was indignant. "That is quite impossible. Until only a few minutes ago, Constable Fraser was in a coma. There are many witnesses who can verify this. I can assure you that there are no members of the RCMP in Chicago who are older than the Constable. Even I am younger. Obviously someone has given a false report."
Stella truly looked confused. "Very well."
Suddenly a doctor came in. "Everyone out! Why has no one reported my patient had awoken? I have to check him out and ensure he is not suffering needlessly. Out! Out!"
Everyone marched out the room, leaving Fraser to the Doctor. Meg Thatcher stole a kiss as she retreated. Fraser was left with a goofy expression at that.
Maarek Ilumian grinned. His work was done. Maybe he could go back and get another piece of pie.