This story is not exactly a fixit, more a what if, because I didn't care for the way the series ended. What if Constable Turnbull was not who everyone thought he was, and had the power to change everyone's lives? This is a death story so be warned. AU in which Ray Vecchio never went undercover and seasons 3&4 never happened. I have however shamelessly borrowed visual references from them. Serious Turnbull angst. Rated PG, I guess, for mild language. My apologies for a little messing with Canadian history and geography. I do that all the time with American history and no one seems to mind. My first foray into fan fiction, comments are deeply appreciated but please be gentle.
Standard disclaimer applies. All characters are the property of the geniuses who created them, with the exception of Emily and the Georges. They belong to the imagination of one seriously disturbed fan fiction writer, and are for personal enjoyment only. No profit is made or expected from this story. Please do not reprint without permission.
NO GREATER LOVE
By Shirley Russell
Ben awoke from a sound sleep to darkness, and temporary confusion. In the moment between sleep and total awareness he wasn't sure where he was. As the realization began to sink in, a slow smile crept across his face.
He left the warmth of his companion and walked to the window to watch the Alberta sunrise. His thoughts were of the past two months. Could two months change the direction of a lifetime? His gaze wandered back to the bed and the woman sleeping there. He guessed he was living proof that they could.
He remembered so clearly that day when, in one selfless act, Renfield Turnbull had not only saved his life, but also saved his soul. But in doing so Renfield had lost his life.
Two months earlier...
Constable Turnbull was having a stressful morning. The phone had been ringing incessantly, and Inspector Thatcher had her door closed, refusing to take any calls. The filing was piling up and his morning reports, usually done by now, were not even started. It was hardly the schedule for a Mountie. He stopped short at the thought. He was a Mountie. Despite everything they had said, everything they believed about him, he had proven them wrong. No one thought he could do it, no one except Emily. A broad smile brightened his sober expression as he thought of her. He loved her so much. And missed her, and their home. He owed her a letter, something to be done tonight. He was happy here, proud of his posting, she already knew that, but he never tired of telling her again, and again.
A shocked expression replaced the smile. Daydreaming! That would certainly not do. He had important Consulate work to do. And his Father would have never approved of pridefullness.
He heard the man coming up the stairs well before he actually saw him. What he finally saw startled him momentarily. Why had this man been allowed to gain access to the second floor? Ah, yes Cooper was running errands for the Inspector.
"Welcome to Can..."
"Where's Fraser?" The man was shouting in the Consulate! This was totally unacceptable.
"Please lower your voice Sir!"
"Where's Fraser?" The man was becoming increasing louder. He was going to have to put a stop to this, now!
Speaking in what he hoped was a conciliatory tone Turnbull replied "Constable Fraser is in a meeting and cannot be disturbed. If you would care to make an appointment?"
"Get him NOW!" His voice had become even louder and...threatening?
As Turnbull rose from his desk to approach the man both Thatcher and Fraser rushed from their offices to see what the commotion was about. The man, still standing at the head of the stairs, drew a weapon and pointed it directly at Fraser. Turnbull was first to see the gun, and understood immediately what the man intended to do. And he knew what he had to do. Without a moment's hesitation he lunged at Fraser, knocking him hard against the opposite wall, as the man fired.
Thatcher, momentarily frozen in place, ran after the fleeing gunman. Her efforts produced only the sight of a car speeding away from the curb. She turned and ran back up the stairs.
She was stopped in her tracks by the scene at the top of the stairs. "Oh my god!" She ran to the phone and dialed 911. "There's been a shooting at Canadian Consulate! We have two officers down! Send an ambulance immediately!"
Turnbull had fallen on top of Fraser, and neither man was moving. But a large amount of blood covered both men. Slowly Fraser began to move, and moan.
He did not respond to her, but moaned again.
"Fraser answer me! Are you hurt?" She yelled. This was definitely a demand for a response.
Fraser was slowly becoming aware of his surroundings. "No Sir...just dazed" as he moved to extricate himself he realized what had happened. "But Turnbull is...shot."
He cradled the man's lifeless body in his arms.
Ray was on the other side of town when he received the radio call from Elaine. Ray was shocked at the panic in her voice.
"Ray, I just heard that 911 dispatch received a call from the Canadian Consulate. There's been a shooting! The caller said there were two officers down! Two officers, Ray! It could be Fraser!" She could barely control herself.
"I'm on it!" His lights and siren joined several others as he finally arrived at the familiar building. Ambulances were already there, and the front of the building was swarming with cops, paramedics and a news crew. "God, how'd they get here so fast? Damn press." Holding his badge in the air and shouting "Chicago PD, get out of the way", he ran though the growing crowd and into the building.
He saw the figure in red serge on the floor as soon as he was up the stairs. But, who was it? There were so many paramedics and equipment he couldn't see who...? He caught a glimpse of more red serge out of the corner of his eye.
"Oh, god, Benny are you all right?" Even in the red uniform, Ray could see that Fraser was covered in blood.
"Turnbull's been shot. He took the bullet that was meant for me. He saved my life." Ray did not at all like the dispassionate tone of Fraser's words. But there was no time to worry about that now. The paramedics were preparing to transport Turnbull to the hospital.
"What hospital?" Ray shouted as they moved the stretcher out the door.
"St Mary's. Follow us"
"Come on, let's go!" Ray was calling to Thatcher and Fraser.
"Some has to stay with the Consulate,"
"Benny, forget the Consulate. No one's gonna want pamphlets on Canada now. And there are a hundred cops here anyway. Lets GO!"
"Family. Does he have any family?" From the back seat of Ray's Riviera Thatcher frantically asked more to the air than to a particular person. Turnbull's personnel file on her lap, she was searching desperately for the 1412C form that listed RCMP next of kin. "A sister, a sister in Alberta. A librarian, leave it to Turnbull to have a sister who's a librarian." She giggled. Ray was afraid that she was becoming hysterical. And Fraser said nothing. Ray's concern for his friend was growing. "Benny, ya sure you're not hurt?"
"No Ray, I'm not injured."
Thatcher and Fraser ran after the gurney as it made it's way to the ER. They were both stopped short at the swinging doors of the examining room by a nurse that vaguely reminded Thatcher of a Sergeant she once had.
"But I'm his superior officer! He is my responsibility!"
"Honey, beyond these doors the uniforms come off and your officer becomes our patient." In a more soothing tone, "I promise we will let you know as soon as we know anything. Go on over there to the waiting room and get comfortable. This could take awhile."
Ray parked the Riv and found them waiting in the room appropriately named. "What a contrast in those two!" Ray thought. Thatcher was on the cell phone, pacing, and Fraser...Fraser had thrown his blood stained tunic over the back of a chair and was leaning against a window frame on one arm starring out the window, at a brick wall beyond. Ray frowned at him.
"Hello. Could I please speak with Ms Turnbull? Oh yes, Ms Turnbull, this is Inspector Thatcher with the Canadian Consulate in Chicago. Yes, Ms Turnbull I'm afraid there is. Constable Turnbull has been involved in a shooting. We're with him at St Mary's Hospital. Can you get here as soon as possible? No, he just came in. There is no word yet. All right, someone will be there. Goodbye.
Detective Vecchio, could you please pick up Constable Turnbull's sister at the airport in two hours? She will be coming in from Toronto to the area reserved for private planes. I don't know where that is." The Dragon Lady was back. Actually Ray took some comfort in that. Why? He had no clue.
But he was glad to be able to do something. Waiting ranked right up there with patience on his list of things for which he had no capacity. And waiting in a hospital, well, the last time was when his bullet had almost killed his best friend. He was very glad to have something else to do.
They had been waiting there for what seemed like an eternity before a doctor finally came over to them.
"Are any of you relatives of Mr Turnbull?"
"No, we're associ... friends. How is he?" This was the first time Fraser had spoken in over an hour.
"Has his next of kin been notified?"
"I'll be picking his sister up at the airport in about an hour. How is he?"
"He is not doing well. I need to speak to her as soon as she arrives. We'll know more by then." With that he left the room.
"I'm going to the airport. Benny, ya comin?"
"No, Ray. I prefer to wait here with Inspector Thatcher."
As he wandered around the terminal Ray wondered what Turnbull's sister, a librarian from Alberta, would look like. Whatever he imagined did not prepare him for the real thing. If he hadn't been waiting for her he would never have associated her with Turnbull. She was older than her brother, with long dark blonde hair pulled back at the nape of her neck and was dressed as if she had just come from some high-level corporate board meeting. She sure as hell didn't look like any librarian he'd ever seen, or Turnbull, for that matter...very attractive, but there was something else about her that he did not have the time or inclination to determine. As she came closer, however, Ray saw the extreme sadness in her eyes. Turnbull's eyes.
"Detective Vecchio? How is my brother?"
"I've just spoken with Inspector Thatcher. They won't release information on his condition to anyone but you. My car is this way, I'll have ya there soon."
They rode in silence for several minutes before she finally spoke again. It was as if speaking took a great amount of effort and the voice came from very far away. "I've heard a lot about you and your Riviera, Detective."
"Ray, please. How'd ya hear about my car?" Small talk was eminently preferable to silence.
"Ren. He wrote about it, and his friends often,"
It took several moments for Ray to realize she was referring to her brother. He felt a stabbing sensation in the pit of his stomach. He'd known him what, almost a year, and didn't even know Turnbull's first name?
"and you should call me Emily."
Thatcher was starring at Fraser. As with so many times in the past she could not interpret the look on his face, but it worried her. She was sure that he was taking all of this on his shoulders, he always did. But, as with so many times in the past, she could not ask, would not ask him to share his feelings with her.
Fraser was considering life, his life to be exact. He had wanted to be a Mountie like his father for as long as he could remember. But it had cost him so much. His sense of duty had forced him to leave his beloved Territories, had also cost him the only woman he had ever loved, twice. Shuffling his loyalty aside, the RCMP had not treated him very well either. His posting in Chicago was really nothing more than exile. What had he done for Canada while in Chicago? Delivered party invitations, picked up dry cleaning, searched the city for an almost nonexistent bottle of scotch, played chauffeur more times than he cared to count, and stood hours upon hours of "sentry" duty? This was certainly not what he had become a Mountie to do.
The only real police work he had done since coming to Chicago had had to be in an "unofficial" capacity. And even then he had always felt like an anachronism, a man out of time, and definitely out of place. He had always tried to come to the aid others but he had seen the looks and often heard the comments of those his path had crossed. The people of Chicago were never shy about making rude comments or casting mocking glances his way. To be fair some must have believed he couldn't hear or didn't see them, but he was nothing if not observant. And their comments and looks had hurt. So in a city of millions he was virtually alone, and lonely. And he was homesick, very homesick.
He ran his hands through his hair, and in doing so inadvertently brushed the lump on the back of his head caused by his contact with the Consulate wall. The sharp pain brought him back to reality. How could he possibly be so self absorbed, so selfish? While he was standing here wallowing in self-pity, Turnbull was in another room fighting for his life. He frowned deeply.
His reverie was interrupted by Ray's return.
"Detective, you didn't return without Ms Trunbull?"
Ray frowned at Thatcher, "Of course not. She wanted to stop off in the Chapel. She'll be right here."
Five minutes later Emily Turnbull appeared in the doorway.
"Inspector Margaret Thatcher, Constable Benton Fraser, this is Emily Turnbull, Renfield's sister"
Thatcher offered her hand to guide Emily to the sofa. "It's a pleasure to meet you Ms Turnbull, I'm just sorry we had to meet under these circumstances. I'm glad you were able to get here so quickly."
"Thank you Inspector. Is there any news about my brother?"
Fraser uprooted himself from his spot by the window and shook Emily's hand. He didn't speak, just offered her a weak smile. Emily studied him for an uncomfortably long moment.
"I'll go find the Doctor."
Emily turned to thank Ray as he almost collided with the Doctor.
Everyone was now standing. "Are you Constable Turnbull's sister?"
"Yes. Emily Turnbull."
The Doctor offered Emily his hand. "Ms Turnbull I am Doctor Johnson, head of Neurology at St Mary's, would you like to speak in my office?"
Emily did not hesitate, "Doctor these people are Renfield's friends and they've been waiting here a long time. Please tell us how he is."
"Please, let's sit down." As they sat on the sofa the doctor took both of Emily's hands in his. "I'm afraid the news is not good. Your brother has suffered a gunshot wound to the head. He has had no brain activity since he was brought in. Machines are being utilized to breathe for him. In layman's terms... I'm sorry...but Constable Turnbull...your brother...is brain dead. His body just doesn't know it yet. I'm sorry." Medical school prepared him for many things, but never this.
Emily had closed her eyes, trying to shield herself from his words. The room was quiet, as quiet as death. Ray shuddered. Thatcher cried. Fraser hung his head.
Taking a several deep breaths Emily was finally able to speak "May I see him?"
"Before you go in to him, may I speak with you for a moment?" Everyone was startled as Fraser unexpectedly found his voice. Emily seemed surprise that he was even capable of speech.
Fraser placed a hand on Emily's shoulder and escorted her into the hall. After a few moments he returned, alone.
"Benny? What'd ya say ta her?"
Ray thought he looked incredibly sad. "I told her...that I owe my life to her brother. That the bullet was meant for me... and I am sorry." He sighed deeply and started back toward his place at the window.
So that's it, Ray thought. He blames himself for Turnbull. "Benny, ya can't save the whole world. Bad things happen, and it's no one's fault. You've got to stop blaming yourself for these things. You'll go nuts." Ray didn't think his words had found their mark. He went to his friend, took him by the shoulders, "Hey man, it's not your fault," he whispered.
Fraser took a deep breath and smiled. A smile that didn't reach his eyes, "Funny, that's just what she said."
Emily hesitated to approach the bed. Oh please, let this be a bad dream. "Ren...they tell me you're gone. You didn't say goodbye, you promised me. You promised me when you left the ranch you'd always let me know where you were." Tears were streaming down her face. Maybe, despite the bandages on his head, he was just sleeping. She smiled remembering all the times she had watched him sleeping when he was a little boy. The noise from these machines was disconcerting, but it wouldn't bother him, he could sleep through cannon fire. Perhaps if she talked long enough he'd wake up and she'd hear the familiar "Em, you're babbling again".
"Constable Fraser told me you saved his life. I'm so proud of you. But I've always been proud of you. I wish you hadn't done it, sacrificed yourself for him. I know how you feel about your duty, but what about your promise to me? You said you'd always be there. I don't know if I'm strong enough to do this alone. Not that you were ever much help, all you did was get out of there. And they always said I was the smart one. God, I'm going to miss you. Do you know how much trouble this is going to cause? Of course you do, that's why you did it, right? You shouldn't have been so much like Dad. You're probably in Heaven right now laughing because I'm the one left holding the bag. God I wish you were still here or we were... together. Us against them, that was the way it was supposed to be, forever. Are you with Mom and Dad? It's not fair you know, I'm older, I should be the one to go first... You know what, I am babbling...I can't stop."
She was holding his hand, crying and rapidly losing control. "Oh my god, Ren, please don't leave me. I don't know who I am without you. I'll be the only one left. You can't leave me. I'm supposed to be the strong one, but you know we're both such good actors. Please don't go..."
He must have just been waiting for her to arrive, to hear her voice one last time because a short time later he left. She laid his hand down at his side and her head down on his hand, and sobbed as her heart broke.
"He's gone." Emily stood in the doorway of the waiting room. Ray came to her and slowly took her into his arms. He realized now what it was he sensed about her at the airport. It was strength. But it seemed to him that that strength was draining away as he held her.
Thatcher was crying softly. And Fraser was staring out the window, again.
After several minutes everyone seemed to regain some semblance of composure. Thatcher volunteered to stay and attend to matters at the hospital, so Ray took Fraser and Emily back to the Consulate.
No one spoke during the ride back. Ray parked the car near the rear entrance. Fraser directed them to the small lunchroom on the first floor. He didn't want Emily to see the second floor crime scene. The three sat at the small table in silence waiting for tea to be brewed.
"Ya doing okay Emily?" She hadn't spoken in quite awhile.
"Thanks Ray, I'm fine." She sure as hell didn't look fine to Ray.
"Are you alright Constable Fraser?" She had taken his hand and looked deeply into his eyes. Fraser was astounded at the sincerity and concern in her question.
"Please call me Ben. I'm fine, thank you kindly."
Emily was fine. Fraser was fine. Everyone was fine, except Ray. He was confused, completely. This must be a Canadian thing, right? Everyone is fine after someone they love dies? Or, they just deny it until it cuts them off at the knees. He figured that was more likely.
There was an uncomfortable silence in the room, broken only by the occasional clatter of cups and spoons.
Ray had to say something or loose his mind, "Ya know Emily, I realized today that I didn't really know a lot about Renfield. Why'd he decide ta become a Mountie?"
Emily smiled weakly at the memories his question brought to mind. "You really want to hear this? You have no idea what you're letting yourself in for." She obviously loved the topic and Ray was glad to see a small sparkle in her eyes.
"The story of Renfield Turnbull, Part 1". She placed an odd emphasis on the 'Part 1' and Fraser frowned. "Ren was born when I was 10. I resented the idea of him completely until the day my parents brought him home from the hospital. I fell in love with him that day, and, I'm afraid, defended and protected him shamelessly until, well... until today."
After a long pause she began again, "He was always painfully shy, and never had many friends. But I guess growing up on an isolated ranch in Alberta, friends were hard to come by." Another, longer pause to collect her thoughts, Ray guessed. "When he was 8 my parents decided they had to get even farther away from the family business and my grandfather. My father had always been a deeply spiritual man, so he and my mother became missionaries, took Ren and went off to South Africa. They also broke my heart...
Two years later their plane went down on a trip between Johannesburg and Capetown. Ren was the only survivor." Emily looked at Fraser and Ray with empty eyes. "Can you imagine what it must have been like for a 10 year old boy to watch both of his parents die? He still is...was... deathly afraid of flying. I had to go to Capetown to get him, no one could else could get him on a plane."
She paused for another moment to again gather her thoughts. Now she spoke in monotone to the window, the sink, her hands, anywhere but to the eyes of the men listening to her. "I was only 20, but I guess I kind of devoted my life to him after that. I had a massive row with my Grandfather over custody of Ren. My parents had left express instructions that he was not to be allowed anywhere near Ren, but he had a lot of money and sued for custody anyway. Can you believe the nerve of the man? But we were fortunate. The Robber Baron died before the suit was settled." Anger had replaced the monotone, and Emily realized that she had shocked them. "I guess that sounds pretty cold hearted, but you'd have to understand the circumstances to understand why we felt the way we did. Take my word for it, my Grandfather earned every ounce of feeling we had for him.
So, we lived happily ever after, for about 4 years. " She smiled directly at Fraser. "That's when Ren read an article in the newspaper about a Mountie who worked the Territories. A larger than life hero type. You know the type Ray, track a man from Arctic to Sahara with only one shoe lace to eat, and bring him back alive?"
"Yeah, I know the type" as he shot a look a Fraser.
Fraser cringed slightly at the looks from both of them.
"Ben would you hand me that bag?" It contained Renfield's personal effects. "Take a look in his wallet. I know he still carries it, a newspaper article, that's it." Fraser unfolded the tattered piece of newsprint as she continued. "Anyway," she continued, "Ren read the article about Sergeant Robert Fraser..."
Ben looked up from the article with wide eyes. "Pardon?"
"Yes Constable, it's all your Father's fault that from that day forward, Ren wanted nothing more in his life than to be a Mountie. I learned to hate your father." Shocked silence all around. The look on Ben's face made her immediately regret her words. She put her hand on his. "I'm sorry Ben. I didn't really hate him. I just resented him for giving Ren an out. Until I realized that Ren had to do what was best for him, and he would take any out he could get. Being a Mountie was definitely the best thing that ever happened to him." She was smiling again and there was absolutely no malice in her voice, just pride. "I asked both of you if you really wanted to know."
"I had no idea."
"No, of course you didn't. Ren would have rather died..." she sighed heavily. "He would have been terribly embarrassed if anyone had known about his hero worship. You should have seen him when he received his orders to be posted in Chicago, when he realized he was going to share a posting with the son of the great Sergeant Robert Fraser, who was a hero in his own right." Emily laughed. Her whole demeanor had changed. Ray wondered if his own sisters loved him as much as this woman obviously loved her brother.
"Everyone thought Ren was a real klutz, a kind of Canadian super nerd. But he wasn't, not really. He was an accomplished actor, had to be. Oh, he was never best or first at anything he tried, but he always gave much more than 100%. That's how he was able to get through RCMP training. He finished toward the bottom of his class, but he finished. By everyone else's assessment he was never given the most glamorous or exciting assignments, but he thought everything about being a Mountie was glamorous and exciting. " She spoke to them as if she was letting them in on some dark family secret, "I'm afraid most of that was my fault, I was a little overprotective." She thought he would have laughed at the understatement. "I think he thought anything away from me was glamorous."
She turned to Fraser now, trying her best to add comfort to her words "Constable, you were Renfield's hero, in his estimation a true Mountie's Mountie. When that gunman came into the Consulate today Ren did what he did because of who you were, and because of who he was. He died doing his duty, which is exactly the way he would have wanted it." She was crying again, but softly now from pride in what her brother had become, and for what he had done.
Fraser was stunned and deeply moved by her words of comfort. He had no idea that the young Constable had ever even heard of his father or him for that matter, before coming to Chicago.
It was getting very late, and Fraser realized that everyone was exhausted. "Emily, you need to get some rest. Inspector Thatcher wanted you to stay here. There is a bedroom we sometimes use for visiting RCMP officials..."
At that moment Inspector Thatcher came through the door.
"Yes, Emily needs to get some rest, we all do."
"Benny, I'll give ya a lift home."
"No thank you Ray, I can bunk down in my office."
Emily seemed oblivious to most of this conversation, and Fraser realized she had something else to say. "Emily?"
She hesitated. "I need to tell all of you the rest of the story, but not tonight. We need clear heads, and we're all too tired now. It's extremely important though that I talk to all of you tomorrow morning. Before you talk to anyone else, especially the press. Please promise me you won't talk to the press?" Emily seemed almost frantic.
She had no idea why it was that important, but Thatcher agreed.
Thatcher escorted Emily to her room. When she opened the door she remembered a day not so long ago when she had stumbled across an apron clad Turnbull dusting this room with a pink feather duster and singing "Oh, Canada". The absurdity of the scene made her smile even now. But it also made her incredibly sad. There had been times in the past that she would have done anything to get rid of him. And now she realized she was going to miss him, more that she had ever thought possible, a lot more.
"Thank you Inspector"
"Please Emily, call me Meg. I was you brother's superior officer, but I'd also like to think I was his friend, in a strange sort of way. I think it only right that his sister and I should be on a first name basis. Don't you?" The doctor had given Thatcher some sleeping pills for Emily, but she didn't even offer them. Anyone could see that she would be asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
A vague uneasiness hovered in the back of Thatcher's mind as she left the room. What could Emily have to tell them that could possibly be so important? Oh well, rest now, worry tomorrow. Wasn't that something that Scarlet O'Hara did? God, this day had been a nightmare. She had lost someone under her command, but what she had told Emily was true. Turnbull and Fraser both drove her crazy at times, but she did think of them as more than just subordinates.
Fraser had made up his mind even before Ray and Inspector Thatcher left. He and Dief would sleep on the floor outside her room. Just in case Emily needed them. He felt he owed her, and besides he was beginning to care about this woman very deeply. Now if he could just find Dief. That wolf! See a gun displayed and he was fearless, but get him anywhere near a woman's tears and he ran away, far away, to hide. And right now he was well hidden.
Fraser awoke at the first sounds of sobbing. Dief was hiding again, and that was not a good sign. He knocked softly on the bedroom door, and then let himself in.
Emily had curled herself into a tiny ball on the bed, hugging her knees, and was rocking back and forth, sobbing hysterically. Without a word he went to her, took her in his arms and held her as tightly as he dared. No words, no soothing sounds, he just held her as she cried. He was certain that if he let her go even for a moment she would shatter into a thousand pieces.
He had no idea how long he held her, but eventually he realized she was asleep. He picked her up and carried her across the room to a couch. He sat down with her and cradled her in his arms just as he had held her brother earlier that day. They both slept.
The rain outside only served to enhance the gloom in the Consulate. Ray had arrived early, with Francesca in tow. Frannie could help deflect phone calls. Hell, Frannie could deflect just about anything or anyone. And besides she could definitely learn a thing or two about how to be a good sister from Emily.
Fraser, Thatcher and Emily had already gathered in Thatcher's office. Ray was feeling a little more kindly toward Thatcher after seeing her genuine concern for Turnbull and his sister. Maybe she wasn't such a dragon lady after all. He'd have to reserve judgment on that one.
Fraser thought that Emily looked terrible. When he left her at first light she was asleep, but he knew she couldn't have slept for more than at total of 2 or 3 hours.
"Thank you all for waiting to listen to what I have to say, before getting on with the...business...at hand. Meg, I told Ben and Ray Ren's life story last night. But," she was looking directly at Fraser and Ray, "not the whole story. I really don't know how to get into this, but..." She took a deep breath. "I told you last night that Ren wanted nothing more than to be a Mountie. The Government was dead set against the idea. When he convinced them that he was determined they decided to capitalize on his name and create some sort of RCMP media campaign. Fortunately that never happened. Enough pressure was brought to bear that the RCMP allowed him to enlist with as much anonymity as possible."
Everyone in the room was confused. Ray was the first to put everyone's question into words. "Why would he need ta be anonymous?" Her hesitation hung heavy in the room. Fraser was standing next to her frowning deeply.
"Renfield Turnbull was not his complete given name. It was Josiah Renfield Turnbull III."
There, she'd said it. They had both known that sooner or later everyone would find out, but she had never considered that she would be the one to tell them.
She waited for the enormity of what she had said to sink in. She waited some more.
Thatcher was the first to get "the look". Emily sighed deeply. God, how she hated that look. It was a look that she and Ren had spent all their lives avoiding. A look that said...
"Oh my god. Our Constable Turnbull was JR Turnbull III? Oh my god!" Thatcher had to sit down. She also had already turned several shades of purple.
Ray spent a great deal of time confused when he was around Canadians. This was another one of those times. He thought Thatcher might have a stroke. "Who is JR Turnbull III?" to no one in particular.
Emily was staring at Fraser. He didn't have 'the Look'. Although she could tell he realized who Ren really was, and by association, who she was, Fraser's look was more one of admiration. Now it was Emily's turn to be confused.
"But, the Turnbull family lives in seclusion on a ranch in Alberta...oh my god".
"Who the hell is JR Turnbull?" Ray was becoming annoyed at not being let in on the secret.
"Actually neither one of us spent too much time on the ranch anymore." Her sad reply was to Thatcher but Emily was still staring at Fraser.
Now Fraser was staring with open admiration at Emily. "Ray you sound like an owl. JR Turnbull is...was, one of the richest men in Canada. EM Turnbull is the Canadian equivalent of the American Andrew Carnegie, heading the Turnbull Literary Foundation. They have funded hundreds of libraries and even more scholarly pursuits all over Canada. Although I do not remember being aware that EM Turnbull was a woman. A librarian from Alberta..."
Emily could have kissed the Constable, and would have if she hadn't known it would embarrassed the socks off of him. His admiration was genuine and she was amazed. He was the first person in a very long time to recognize her solely for her own contributions and not for the 'family business'. He apparently hadn't even considered it! "That's what Ren told you? I guess if you stretched the point you could call me a librarian..."
Thatcher was still reeling from the enormity of what Emily had told them. "Our Constable Turnbull also owns TurnCo Industries."
That, and the enormous amount of wealth that was equated with their name, was the origin of the 'Look'. "One of the largest industrial conglomerates in Canada, and one of the major toxic polluters in the world. He became the major stockholder when our grandfather died, but neither one of us ever, ever, had any input into running the operation." More like running away from it Emily thought. "Our parents saw to that. They left the 'family business' behind when they moved to Alberta and then on to South Africa. We never saw any profit from the 'business'. We have been fighting in court for years to get it out of the control of men just like my grandfather." And all of our lives denying any connection with it, Emily thought. The fierceness in her voice was not lost on the others in the room.
"No wonder you called him the Robber Baron. Ray, Matthew Turnbull looted and raped the Canadian wilderness at the beginning of this century. He made his money off the backs of native peoples and off natural resources. One of the major reasons the North West Mounted Police was originally formed was to stop people like him from doing to indigenous Canadians what was being done to Native Americans. JR Turnbull I was his son and," he was looking at Emily now, "Constable Turnbull apparently his great grandson."
"And our grandfather spent his life trying to out do his father." Emily looked as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. Fraser's heart went out to her.
"That's probably the understatement of the year. And God has never had anything to do with TurnCo.
What we all have to determine now is what to do next." Emily had suddenly become all business. Ray hoped it would help her get through whatever was next. "Meg, I think it would be best to let the attorney for Ren's estate handle the press. I don't think I can cope with the big media circus that will soon be upon us and he's used to it, lord knows he's done it before. Ren wished to be buried in the family cemetery at the Alberta ranch. Could the Consulate handle arrangements for me?" She sank down into one of the less uncomfortable office chairs and closed her eyes.
"Whatever you need us to do. Should we call your attorney?"
"I spoke with him this morning, he's on his way here now." She looked around the room imploringly. "I'd like for all of you to come to a service on the ranch? Please?'
"Off course, we will all be there." Thatcher knew she could speak for herself and Fraser, and was confident that she could also speak for the Vecchios.
"And you'll need to be there for the reading of his Will." She sighed, rose, and slowly left the room.
Francesca was sitting at the front desk. "Francesca, thank you so much for helping out. Ren was very fond of you". She bent over, to share a confidence. "Although he never actually said so, I think he had a crush on you."
"He was a very sweet man. I will miss him." Francesca sincerely wished she had gotten to know him better. She certainly did admire his sister.
Emily smiled at her and proceeded to her room.
Meg knocked on the bedroom door and opened it quietly. "Emily?" She was asleep. God, Meg hated to wake her. She had had enough for one day, but it looked like it was just beginning. "Emily?" Emily stirred and opened her eyes.
"Emily, there are two men here to see you. They say they are attorneys for TurnCo, George Stanford, and George Cornell. They are very insistent. They are about to come to blows with Detective Vecchio."
Emily was fully awake and up in an instant. "Damn. I should have known. Is George Duke here yet?"
How like Turnbull, to confuse life even more by having three attorneys all named George, "Not yet."
Fraser was still concerned with the way Emily looked. When Emily saw the two men however, Fraser noticed a complete change in her demeanor. She looked as if, as if she were preparing to do battle. Which, apparently, she was.
"Look one and two, what are you doing here? It has to be apparent to someone even as dense as the two of you that you are not wanted here."
The two men obviously did not care to be referred to numerically. And they obviously did not care for Emily either. Everyone else in the room felt the immediate need to come to her defense. "This is not the time for sarcasm, Emily. As attorneys for TurnCo Industries we should have been notified immediately of the death of our major stockholder. Renfield may have shirked his duty to the company..."
With that Emily slapped the first George hard across the face, "You sonofabitch. My brother never shirked his duty a day in his life. He died doing his duty!"
Diefenbaker began to snarl. "Dief, no." Fraser was about to step between Emily and the Georges when...
"Emily?" From the doorway came the voice of an older distinguished looking man who everyone guessed was a new player in the George game. Emily ran into the outstretched arms of the man who must have been George the third.
"Thank God. Trip, what kept you? Please get these jerks out of here."
"Stanford, Cornell you heard the lady. You presence is not currently required." Emily retreated to the window and refused to look at the scene in the office. Diefenbaker had moved next to her and assumed a protective stance. Fraser thought that every once in awhile that wolf did something that made him remember why he tolerated him. And then he also moved to her side. He could see that she was trembling with rage so he put his hand on her shoulder as she looked out the window and he carefully watched the scene being played out in the office.
After much shouting and protestation Ray ensured that Georges 1 and 2 left the office and if the shouting from Francesca was any indication, also the Consulate.
"Mr. Duke I presume? I am Inspector Margaret Thatcher. This is Constable Benton Fraser, and Detective Ray Vecchio."
"Please to meet you all. Ren has mentioned you all to me. This George thing gets a little confusing, so it's probably best if you call me Duke or if you prefer, Trip. That was Renfield's nickname for me. And mine for him, as we were both thirds. You know, triple? Hence Trip. It used to be funny. Of course Renfield was only 10 at the time." He was evidently as upset as Emily because he wasn't making much sense.
"I am the family attorney. The gentlemen that just left are two of the many TurnCo attorneys." Ray noticed that Duke was studying them all carefully, especially Benny. Studying them a little too carefully for Ray's comfort. Something was definitely up here, and Ray was becoming concerned.
Meg wondered if the hordes of other attorneys were also named George. She was feeling a little silly, must not have gotten enough sleep. Of course, she wasn't alone.
Fraser wasn't paying much attention to the conversation, as most of his concentration was directed toward Emily. She had calmed down and was no longer shaking. He hoped that his presence had somehow contributed to that. He was aware that they were having just a small taste of what it must have been like for Renfield and his sister, to be heirs to the Turnbull fortune and the Turnbull name.
"I think we all should sit down." Thatcher offered Duke a chair near Emily. "Mr Duke we need to talk about arrangements. And how we will handle media questions, which are currently being deflected by Ms Vecchio."
"I've already been in touch with Ottawa. The Government and the RCMP Public Relations Office are preparing an official statement." Emily shot a worried look at Duke. "Don't worry Emily, they have assured me that only a brief statement will be issued. There will be no attempt to capitalize on the situation. The Consulate may direct all inquiries by the press to that office."
She came over to her dear friend and sat beside him. "We need to go to the ranch, as soon as possible. He needs to be home...I need to be home."
"Excuse me, I'm sorry to interrupt." Francesca had leaned her head in the door. "Ray, you're wanted on the phone. It's Lieutenant Welch."
Thatcher wanted to assure Emily that the Consulate would take care of as many arrangements as they possibly could. She had enough to worry about. "We will make travel arrangements to leave as soon as possible. We will close the Consulate and be in Alberta in a couple of days."
"Travel arrangements won't be necessary, I have the Foundation jet at O'Hare. We can leave as soon as the Consulate is closed."
Ray was hanging up the phone as Fraser came into in the front hall. "They caught the shooter and the wheelman. Huey got lucky."
"Guy's names aren't important. Just think Fathers of Confederation. The Bolt brothers have more relatives than Idaho has potatoes. Maybe we've finally broken their backs. Important thing is that we have one less thing ta worry about."
The plane carrying the small group of mourners and one casket landed on a private runway near what appeared to be a small hotel. Fraser had not forgotten how beautiful Alberta was. The ranch was located in a green valley surrounded by staggering mountain peaks. It wasn't home, but it was close, so close he could feel it, could almost hear the wilderness. It brought a magnificent smile to his lips and restfulness to his soul.
Emily smiled at Ben. He was grinning like the proverbial boy who had just been given the keys to the candy store. She realized that under any other circumstances her reaction to coming home would have been similar. Home. Why did she always stay away longer than she'd planned? How had she let her life become so complicated that she rarely got here anymore? She needed to be in this place now more than she could ever remember needing to be here before. She sighed deeply.
Reactions from the rest of the group were mixed. Francesca and Ray looked like aliens who had just landed on another planet. Meg, on the other hand, was so caught up in her own thoughts she looked as if she hadn't noticed her surroundings.
"Boy you sure grow 'em big here!"
"Excuse me? Oh. Oh, those are mountains, Francesca, Rocky Mountains. You know what mountains are, don't you?" Emily smiled again as she put one arm around Ray's shoulders and one around Francesca's and directed them toward the ranch buildings. "You have them in the States, although they aren't really mountains until to get much farther west than Chicago!"
The hotel Fraser had seen from the plane turned out to be the ranch house, if it could be called a house. He doubted that he had ever seen an edifice that large constructed entirely of logs.
"Well, this is it, home sweet home."
"Emily, just out of curiosity, how many people live here?" Ray was thinking of his single family home in Chicago that held his mother, two sisters, one bum, er, brother-in-law and 3 children, plus, of course, himself.
Emily cringed a little, "Just me part time, and a housekeeper. We really only use 3 or 4 rooms, plus I keep an office here. I know it's way too big, but it's the only place I have that still has something of my parents...and now Ren. He actually owns...owned it. It's the home we came back to after our parents died. Ren would never have considered selling it. Besides, my parents are buried here, and now Ren will be too..." As if trying to change the subject..."There are bunk houses down the road for the ranch hands."
Fraser had gone to large windows that opened onto a long porch that looked out onto the mountains. "It's beautiful here. You could ride forever and never see another living soul. Odd how a person can be alone in a city of millions but feel completely a home with few others around." None of the group heard Ben's softly spoken musings. He continued to absorb the magnificence of the place.
Josiah Renfield Turnbull III was buried next to his parents in the family cemetery on a small hill within sight of his home. The service was kept completely private, as he had requested. There would be a memorial service in Ottawa later in the month, but no one wanted to think about that now. The mourners were all lost in their own remembrances of the man they had not really known, until his death. Yet they knew him now, through his sister. Not just by what she had told them about his life, but also by her example.
The eulogy was brief, the magnificence of the landscape adding simple eloquence to the minister's words. Fraser knew he would never forget the minister's reading of one specific passage from the Bible, John 15:13 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends'. Turnbull had done just that for him, and he would not, could not ever forget the sacrifice he had made for him.
They all walked back to the house in silence. Ben had taken his now customary place by Emily's side. He was drawn to her in ways he did not understand. It was, well, he wasn't sure what it was. Perhaps it was what she and her Foundation had done for the country, all the while fighting to live down the Turnbull name. Or perhaps it was her inner strength that seemed to charm everyone, with the possible exception of Georges 1 and 2. More likely it was a combination of these things. He ran a thumb across his brow. He didn't want to try to analyze it. He just knew that she somehow took comfort in his presence and he wanted to offer her that comfort as often as possible.
Ray was thinking about choices. Sure he'd known officers, friends, killed in the line of duty. He, Benny, Turnbull, they had all decided to become cops knowing that they would be asked to put their lives on the line. But loosing someone like this just never got any easier. In fact it hurt like hell.
Watching Emily and Benny, his mind wandered to thoughts of their fathers, and the women in their lives who had been left to deal with the results of the decisions, whether good or bad, that their fathers had made. His own mother had dealt with the horrors of living with a drunk and trying to protect her family from him. Ray rarely drank because of his father. He knew he could never hit a kid because of what his father had done. He'd chosen to become a cop because his father didn't want him to. So much of what he had become had really been determined by his father.
It was the same with Benny. His grandmother had been left to deal with the young boy when his father left to do his Mountie thing. Benny grew up wanting nothing more than to be like his father, earn his father's respect. But Benny was on the path he was on because of who his father was, not because of what he wasn't.
Emily had been left to deal with the results of decisions made by both their grandfather and their father. And to a lesser extent her brother. Turnbull had run away from his Grandfather's name, just like his father had done before him. Renfield never really had a chance. His fate was determined a long time ago. He was like someone from another world who had touched all their lives briefly and then was gone.
Ray smiled to himself. Turnbull certainly was like someone from another world.
Emily was wondering how she could have survived Ren's death if it hadn't been for her brother's friends, especially Ben. She could see exactly why Ren had worshipped the father and then the son. Ben wasn't like anyone she had ever met. Ren had said he was a hero and Emily was close to believing him. He seemed to be able to give her the support she needed at the exactly the right time. She was coming to depend on him too much, however. She had always sought Ren's counsel, but she knew from ample experience that there was only one person she could really rely on for the long haul, herself. That thought only increased her grief. She missed Ren so much.
His Will would be read in two hours. George had been dreading this moment ever since he had heard the news of Renfield's death. He hoped that Renfield had known what he was doing.
"Emily, I need to talk to you for a few minutes alone, if you don't mind." They had all settled in front of the fire, as there was a slight chill in the air even in early June.
When they were out of hearing of the rest of the group, George handed Emily a letter, addressed to her in what she recognized as Ren's handwriting. "What..."
"You need to read this before the Will is read, honey. We'll talk afterwards."
This did not sound good. No, not good at all. He only called her honey on very rare occasions, like when he needed to soften a blow, like when he told her that her parents had died.
She took the letter to her room and sat on the bed. She stared at it for a long time before she could summon the courage to open it.
"My Dearest Emily," the letter began,
"I guess that I must be gone. I hope I died doing my duty. I' m sorry, for a lot of things, but mostly for leaving you, twice. I was never as strong as you, more like Dad than Mom I guess. I just couldn't stand being associated with TurnCo or all that dirty money. I wanted to be so much more than what they thought the grandson of JR Turnbull should be. I wanted to be like Robert Fraser. But you know that.
Now I've left you again. I can't, I won't leave you alone now. That probably doesn't make sense yet, but it will. You're strong, but I don't think you realize that you need help. The last few times I talked to you, you sounded so...weary. That's when I decided to change it, my Will I mean. After you sacrificed your life, everything, for me and then the Foundation. Without me you have no one, and no life aside from the Foundation. You deserve help. Please let me do this for you Em.
Maybe in death I can give you more than I ever could in life. Please understand that more than anyone or anything else in the world, I love you and I would never hurt you,
She covered her face with her hands. For the first time in her life Emily felt like she might faint. It was as if someone had sucked all the air out of the room and she was trying to breathe in a vacuum. "Oh my god Ren, what have you done?"
As Emily sat on her bed, fear coursing through her like the very blood in her veins, George Duke was handing Fraser a similar envelope. "Please read this prior to the reading of the Will, Ben."
Frowning, Fraser took his letter to a quiet corner of the room and read it.
When he had finished reading it he laid the letter down on the table next to him. "Oh dear."
Ray could see Fraser's frown from the other side of the room. A frown that told him he had been right the other day. There was definitely something going on here that was a cause for worry. But the look on his face also told Ray that now was not the right time to intrude.
There was a surprisingly large group on hand for the reading of the Renfield's Will. All the ranch hands and day workers were there, as well as several people from town, and of course the Chicago contingent.
After all the bequests to employees and local friends had been made they took a short break to allow these people to pay their respects and depart.
"Now for the hard part." George thought. As an attorney he had witnessed many defining moments in people's lives. He doubted that he had ever before seen anything to compare with what was about to happen.
He called them back together. Fraser wanted desperately to be near her, but Emily had chosen to take her place alone near the back of the room. He was afraid he knew why.
"Renfield changed this part of his Will about six months ago. He had apparently become very close to a small group of people at his new posting in Chicago. To all of you."
He looked around the room and cleared his throat. 'To my friend Francesca Vecchio I leave the sum of $500,000. If I may presume to suggest she use the money to open her own business, possibly a catering company, which I would like to christen the Yellow Submarine.' Francesca gasped. Then she started to cry.
'I realize that as a member of the RCMP, it might be considered unbecoming to make bequests to a superior officer, but I feel I must, as she has been such an inspiration to me. To Inspector Margaret Thatcher I leave all my holdings in the Bahamas, including my private island, St Ann. I am sure she will put it to better use than I ever did.' Thatcher was touched beyond words.
'To Detective Raymond Vecchio whose police work I admire so very much, especially his unorthodox methods, and who I understand loves Florida, I leave all my properties and holdings in Ft Lauderdale.'
George stopped reading long enough for everyone to catch their breath, especially himself. He was going to have to jump in with both feet soon, so no one could blame him for stalling, right?
Everyone in the room had been struck dumb. They were all speechless, with the exception of Emily. She'd always wondered what the phrase 'burst with pride' meant. Now she knew. She was so proud of her brother for what he had done. In death he had tried to give these people things he hoped would make them happy, changing lives too? "Well done, Ren!"
George did not look up when Emily spoke. He cleared his throat and began again, " 'To my sister Emily, the only surviving member of the Turnbull family, I bequeath all my remaining properties, holdings, stocks and securities, including the Alberta ranch, Edmonton and Regina condominiums complexes, voting stock in TurnCo etc, etc...
Emily breathed a heavy sigh of relief before she realized that George was looking at her...and not done yet..."I sorry Emily...
'With one major exception... My 51% share of Turnbull Literary Foundation I bequeath to Constable Benton Fraser RCMP...'"
Emily stifled a scream with both hands. "No, Ren, please not that, anything but that..."
George continued, but with little feeling "Congratulations Constable Fraser, you are now Chairman of the Board of Turnbull Literary Foundation, and a very wealthy man."
George doubted that any one in the room had heard his last comment. Pandemonium had broken out.
Fraser had whirled around to where Emily was sitting, but she was already out of the room.
"Emily...!" He jumped to his feet, prepared to run after her.
"Constable wait" George yelled, "give her some time."
Fraser knew he was right, but it tore at his heart to know she how she must feel. He had hoped...but she didn't know, Renfield hadn't told her.
"Benny?" Ray had been looking for Fraser for several minutes. He found him on the porch staring toward the hillside cemetery. "What ya gonna do? Ya gonna go after her?"
"And what, Ray?"
"Benny, sometimes you are the most irritating man in the world. You're stalling. What are ya gonna do?"
"I'm going to assume the duties of Chairman of the Board of Turnbull Literary Foundation."
"What! Why? Benny are you sure?"
"I thought that would be obvious, Ray. Renfield Turnbull asked me to..."
"God Fraser. There's another reason..."
"And, I think I'm falling in love with her." He walked off the porch and up the hill.
Ray smiled at that. "Ah..."
"Good luck Benny." Ray called after him, but Fraser didn't hear. He was too focused on what he would say when he found her...
"Emily..." Fraser found her exactly where he expected too. She was sitting on the ground by Renfield's grave.
She didn't look up, so he sat next to her. "Please don't think I'm crazy Ben, but I've been talking to him."
Fraser smiled. "Believe me I don't think you're crazy. I occasionally find conversations with the dead extremely edifying."
"Oh god Ben. Why did he give it away? It was all I had left. The only thing I could hang on to". She looked at him through her tears.
The sorrow in her eyes touched his very soul. She looked completely lost. She believed that her beloved brother had betrayed her, taken what she had worked so hard for and given it away to a stranger. Fraser knew that what he said to her now might be the most important words she had ever heard. He hesitated for several moments.
He took her hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes. "I don't think he wanted you to hang on to a 'thing' Emily. I think he wanted you to have someone to hang on to. Someone who could help you get through all this. And I know he wanted you to have a life away from your work. He knew his death would leave a big void in your life." He hesitated. "You should read this." He handed her his letter from Renfield.
"I can't focus on the words Ben, please read it to me?"
"Dear Constable Fraser - Benton,
I am not accustomed to asking anyone for help. As a member of the RCMP I was taught self-reliance. And I wouldn't be asking for help now. But it's not for me. The help I need is for my sister, Emily.
Benton, she has given her very life for me, and for the Turnbull Literary Foundation. I think she felt it was up to her alone to overcome the stigma of the Turnbull name. She has never asked anything of anyone. She didn't get much help from me, I just could not endure the constant fighting with the board of TurnCo, but I always tried as best I could to give her moral support.
But I digress. She needs your help now. She has no more family and I doubt any friends she would trust enough to help her. She probably would never ask any way. She needs someone to stand by her and help her find her way. Things are going to get rougher now. With me gone all the legal wrangling will begin again and the vultures will be circling.
I've watched you for many months. There is no one I have ever met more steadfast or loyal to those who need his help. I have learned that I can trust your judgment more than any other person I know. That is why I've made the bequests I have.
I am asking you to take over the Foundation. But please Benton, if she can't accept your help, if she refuses to accept your help, after six months please give everything back to her. Even though I am the major stockholder it is after all her Foundation.
Do what you think is right Benton. Please help my sister,
Constable Renfield Turnbull
Emily had no words. She was so overcome with emotion that she could not put together a coherent thought. She picked up a handful of the newly turned soil and let the breeze catch it as it slowly slipped through her shaking fingers. She had to calm herself before she could speak. These last few days had just been too much. Maybe Ren was right, maybe she couldn't handle it any more. Maybe she could use Ben's help with the Foundation. She had always trusted Ren's judgement, if not necessarily his actions. But he wasn't here to ask, wasn't here to help her sort it out. And he never would be again.
After several minutes she finally had the courage to ask. "What are you going to do now, Ben?" She had to know.
Ben stood up and reached for her hand to bring her to stand next to him.
He looked deeply in to her eyes. "What do you want from me?" Dear God, how long had it been since he's uttered those very words to another woman, a woman so completely different from the one standing in front of him. She had wanted him to give up his life for her, but she had also demanded his soul. And he had been willing to give up both. Only a gunshot wound in the back had stopped him. He had long since realized that it had been for the best. Even though he had believed that she was the only woman he would ever love, he realized that he could have never loved her enough. She would have always wanted more, and eventually he would have had nothing left to give. "Emily, if you don't want my help I won't wait 6 months, I'll turn all this over to you right now and go back to Chicago." He knew that her answer would determine the course of the rest of his life.
She was silently praying that he would say yes to Ren's request. When he asked her what it was she wanted she realized that she desperately wanted this man to stay with her, no, more than wanted, she needed him to stay. But she knew she had no right to ask. "I have always believed that God presents us opportunities and it is up to us to determine our course of action. I can't tell you what to do Ben, and I certainly can't ask you to give up your life for mine, especially you. It has to be your decision."
Ben would be eternally grateful for those words. "You don't have to ask, Renfield did. I want to stay with you Emily. Let me help you, let me give you some of my strength... and all of my love."
He smiled at her. He felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders. Actually it was the weight of the past. He was finally free of it. He could freely give his life to this woman. He could finally love again.
It was so hard for her to trust anyone, but Ren had believed that he could be trusted. As she searched his eyes, she saw and felt what she needed to know. Slowly she reached for him and stood in enfolded in his arms. She knew that she would always miss her brother, but he had given her the opportunity for so much more than what she already had. He had given her Ben.
He kissed her then. A kiss that held all the promise for a future they could shape together.
Several minutes passed before either one of them spoke.
"You know this isn't going to be easy."
"Nothing worth having ever comes easily." His father had taught him that.
Fraser found himself staring at the house below. "Do you think Renfield knew how much chaos would be caused by his Will?"
Emily laughed out loud, a laugh that warmed his heart. A sound that he hoped he would hear often. "Oh Ben! He knew. Believe me, he knew!"
He kept one arm around her as they started down the hill to face a world that had been turned upside down. Turned upside down by her brother.
"About conversations with the dead..."
Ray and Duke were leaning on a corral fence watching the couple coming toward them.
"So Duke, is the property Renfield left me suitable for building a house? I may just decide to move the family down there. My Ma would love to be closer to her sister. I think."
"Sorry Detective. The property consists of several blocks of high rise office buildings."
"Cool," was about all Ray could think to say.
The couple walking down the hill was coming nearer to them.
"Emily told me that Renfield died doing his duty, that he saved Fraser's life."
Ray spoke slowly, knowing that Renfield had done a lot more than just save Benny's life. He had changed all of their lives forever. He nodded toward Benny and Emily. "Well, Duke, it looks like he saved two lives, and did his duty to his family and to the RCMP all at the same time." Ray smiled up at the twilight sky. Stars were just starting to wink at them. "You did good Renfield Turnbull. Damn good."
Two months later:
Ben kissed Emily's cheek but she did not awaken. He proceeded downstairs to make coffee. It would be a long day and there were many things to consider in this quiet time before the day business began. He stood on the porch leaning against the railing allowing the peace and quiet to surround him.
"Good morning Son." No matter how often he did that, Ben was still startled by his father's sudden appearance.
"Beautiful morning, isn't it?"
"Yes it is." He looked sideways at his father. "I haven't seen you for awhile. I thought you might be...well...you know."
"Dead son? Been dead a lot longer than two months."
"Disappointed in being dead?"
Ben hung his head. Exasperated, that's how he made him feel, exasperated. "No Dad! Disappointed in...me."
"Why on earth would I be disappointed in you?"
"For my decision."
"Then why does how I feel about your decision matter?"
"Your opinion usually matters to me."
"So you want my opinion now?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"Are you worried that I will think you have shirked your duty?"
"A man's duty is where he finds it son. Now think grandchildren. Have I been of any help?"
"Yes dad. As much help as you always are, thanks."
"Any time son. Any time"