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Warning: PG for two slightly strong words (so, they're really the same word, just different parts of speech...) This can be read in conjunction with Antipodes and All the Queens Men, in which case it takes place say ten months after the later. But feel free to read it however you wish.
by Deborah Hicks
"Dismissed." She listened to the door latch, the even footfalls, another door open and close. Once, she would have visualized each moment of his progress from her door to his. Now, the exercise was one in precision, of her own hearing and his... There simply was no single word for it, unless it was inscrutability.
That she had ever been attracted to him, she simply could not believe. Well, maybe that was a bit strong. He was very attractive and a good officer. But this latest wrinkle made her very thankful things had never worked out between them. She would never have put up with anything of the sort. *Meg, he's not your's, except as a subordinate.* Something for which she would be eternally grateful.
Constable Benton Fraser, R.C.M.P. was a good officer, a great officer, though it had taken her awhile to admit it. His methods, his record, and most certainly his behavior in Chicago, had not endeared him to his new Inspector. That he was also insufferably polite and damningly naive, made him a challenge. He was simply impossible to discipline. Nothing she could throw at him worked, not even psychological methods. Somehow, he didn't understand that fetching dry-cleaning and making coffee was demeaning.
*Maybe that's what attracted me.* She had been attracted, more than four years ago. They had flirted, ratcheting it up until that fateful train. They had snapped, and for a time pretended it hadn't happened. Frankly, it was fortunate they had set to dating. After that, things fizzled just like a chemical extinguisher.
Other than being Mounties, they had nothing in common. Sure, the outings he planned were enjoyable enough. If you wanted a brother. Ice skating, horseback riding, canoeing-- they all sound romantic, unless you've done them with Fraser on a date. He didn't particularly enjoy her ideas any better. Mostly, it was polite disinterest with occasional discomfort. *Not exactly offended, but easily startled.*
What the regulations couldn't dissuade, off-duty interaction doused. *It's the uniform.* She knew the old adage, even accepted that she wasn't immune. It had never occurred to her that it might work the other way. Fraser seemed to need her in uniform, needed to be in uniform, for there to be any chemistry. He simply was a Mountie, and what was left over...
Yes, it was good that they had dated. He might still exasperate her, confuse and confound her, but he no longer made her weak in the knees. Somehow, she could now appreciate the sort of officer he was, with the tension gone. He was a credit to the uniform, but a terrible political player. She decided he needed a patron, to situate him where his talents would speak for themselves.
Chicago was a problem. Still, she refused to have him permanently reassigned. *Alert, Grise Fjord, Resolute and so forth until retirement.* He might make Corporal. No, she had to keep enough control over him to prevent such foolishness, and that meant retaining him at the Consulate, while "loaning" him for special duties.
Which reminded her of this latest wrinkle. *Latest. How about the whole slew?* Right. Any normal person, you would have heard something. Fraser, you have to point out the wedding band and order him to send on the appropriate paperwork. She still had no idea of the actual date, nor even the woman's name. *Nearly three years, and he's still this tight-lipped.*
She thought about it; it made her brain positively hurt. If Det. Vecchio hadn't barged into her office, Mrs. Fraser would have been at the hospital with the Constable on sentry duty. *He is away on posting most of the pregnancy, and doesn't even request any parental leave.* No, only because the Italian demands to collect him, did they have any idea he was about to be a new father. It was as if he had expected the baby to be born over a three day weekend he'd arranged out of Canada Day and his two days off.
*A fine officer, but a poor excuse for a man.* She had expected better of him. His own father had left him to be raised by grandparents, but that was a different time. Widowers weren't expected to know how to handle young children. Field officers-- they were even more dependent on their wives. Sgt. Robert Fraser had been a legendary field officer, and his son followed in his footsteps. *Even the mistakes.*
Well, it wasn't any of her concern if Mrs. Fraser let the Constable behave that way. Clearly, they were very well matched, and probably both a little deranged. At least now he was safely marked and no longer a hazard to the general public. However, this one detail kept bothering her.
Admittedly, that she knew was the damn cop's fault. Would she have ordered Fraser to tell her? *Yes. I would have.* It was just too abnormal. New fathers, even this one, were supposed to gush. Not that she wanted complete disclosure. She did _not_ want to know about the length of labor, and she'd had enough of birth weight betting in Ottawa. The child's name, perhaps vague time of arrival, really was enough. Somehow, even whether it was a girl or a boy didn't pass Constable Fraser's lips. Just a polite 'they're both fine, thank you.'
No, they had to wait for a rather obnoxious bouquet of red and pink balloons with a few mylar storks and some 'IT'S A GIRL!' rounds to finally learn that much. Apparently they were from the 27th. He seemed to want her to order them gone, sheepish of their presence. Somehow it was just too appropriate, the balloons hanging over him and screaming their message.
Actually, she was starting to rethink her position on the American. It pained her to think he was a good influence on the Mountie. Not a single weird case that wasn't directly related to Canada had passed across her desk since Constable Fraser's return to Chicago. It wasn't just any hot head that would show up to drag off an expectant father. Or apologize for reading the riot act to the wrong Canadian. *Alright, so his enthusiasm is infectious.* It was if he was trying to give lessons in proud papa-ism.
Admittedly, it was absolutely typical that the child wasn't born until it was July 1st throughout Canada. The idea of her being greeted by her father in dress reds-- clearly Vecchio thought it was too precious. Yes, the girl was a Fraser, capable of the inexplicable even at birth. But it was her name that set Meg's teeth on edge. Regina.
Okay, this one I'll accept flames and otters (but please no flaming otters, I'm sure there is an ordinance.) Would you believe I was toying with the name before I realized the location of the Depot? Admittedly, that was the clincher.
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