Disclaimer: The Characters of Due South belong to Alliance Communications. No copyright infringement is intended.
This is totally weird. Here I am, cleaning house, Okay, I was cleaning the kitchen while making soup (wonderful soup. Full of nice, healthy things. Too bad it won't be edible until tomorrow) and I suddenly saw...Turnbull. Urk. Well, I've always said that the way to keep your musae going is to do what they tell you to do. Sigh. I'm so close to finishing that other story, but this one simply won't wait. Sigh. Well, guess who decided to get me started and then took off? Right. He's been missing for a couple of weeks, now. I fear I'll have to go out and track him down, grab him by the ear and drag him back here. The other stories are all finished, and this one sits here. I am not happy. I even tried making soup and cleaning house again...he was a no-show. Sigh. Also, what is with this sudden 'stream of consciousness' thing? Sigh. Well, while my pressure cooker cools down, I have time to write... (hey, it's more fun than housework!)
This takes place just prior to Call of the Wild.
As always, the characters of Due South belong to others to whom I am eternally grateful, not only for their creation, but for their forbearance in refraining from suing me for their use. That is something we should all be grateful for.
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I've never kept a journal, before. It wasn't anything I understood. However, Constable Fraser maintains one, as did his father before him. He once allowed me the honor of reading one of his father's journals. What fascinating reading! They are a great deal alike, Constable Fraser and his father. I find myself envying him that knowledge, of who his father was and what he was, the knowledge that he is carrying on a family tradition, as it were. I'm not very good with words. I was always much better at illuminating than script, but each of us has our talents. I decided to start this journal as a means of coping. Perhaps by putting things down on paper, I can then read it and better understand it. I can only hope.
Everyone has a different way of handling stress. Some, like Detective Vecchio, the first Detective Vecchio, shout and wave their arms and throw things, or occasionally hit something... but never to their own injury. Others, like Detective Vecchio, the new, or current incarnation of that worthy, shout and hit solid objects, injuring themselves, or, on occasion, hit someone, and end up hurting more than just themselves. Constable Fraser seems to never feel stress, but I know better. He waxes pedantic when he's under duress or nervous. How any one man can remember so many stories is beyond me. The Inspector, on the other hand, tends to take her stress out on others. Most frequently, those causing her the stress. Oftentimes, that would be Constable Fraser and Detective Vecchio (It's so confusing, trying to keep them straight in my mind, they're so different, but they both have the same name. Very peculiar). Unfortunately, of late in particular, it seems to be me who is causing the Inspector the most stress.
Even more unfortunate, for me at least, is the manner in which I deal with stress. I clean. Well, when there are people around, as there frequently are, I cook, although, when I'm alone, or think I'm alone, I clean. I'm very good at cleaning, you know. An expert, if you will.
You wonder why? Most likely because of the way I was raised. It was always so quiet, no one ever shouted or threw things or waved their arms about in anger. It was always so nice and peaceful. Sometimes, I wish I'd stayed there, other times I'm very grateful to have escaped. Well, not escaped, exactly, but left.
What kind of place did I grow up? Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you knew. I am an orphan and was raised in a monastery. Please, don't laugh. I can't help it if that was where I was raised. The brothers had nearly all taken vows of silence, so it was always very quiet. I suppose that was one reason I left. The silence could be deafening. I know the Abbot was very disappointed when I decided against taking the order. But I wanted to do something. See something beyond the monastery walls. On my twenty-first birthday, I showed the Abbot my acceptance from the RCMP. He said not a word, although he was one of the few who had not taken the vow, and he turned away from me and I left. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
It was very difficult for me, going through the academy. There were so many people, and so much noise! I nearly couldn't cope. That's when I began, obsessing, I suppose, with cleaning. As there was no cooking allowed in the dorms, I cleaned. I cleaned my dorm, the halls, the communal bathrooms, the walls... anything and everything. We always got an exceptional on our inspections. I don't think the instructors ever realized what I was doing.
I was a good student, my time in the monastery prepared me well for study, although, the physical portions of training were rather more difficult for me than the others, but I managed. Scholastically, I was at the top of my class, but due to my clumsiness and, well, let's be honest, gangliness, I finished fourth overall at graduation. If only I could have managed, just once, to scale that stupid eight foot wall without assistance... Ah, well. That's all in the past. I was fortunate, my first posting was in the far north. That was where I learned the tale of Fraser, first Sergeant Robert Fraser, then his son, Constable Benton Fraser.
At first, I thought they were simply teasing me, as the rookie. But I soon learned that they spoke only the truth. I actually met Sergeant Fraser, once. It was just a few months before he was murdered by a man who was supposed to have been his friend. I don't think I shall ever forgive that man, despite the fact that he was my mentor at the academy. He found my intelligence and naivet 'refreshing', as he put it. Too bad I didn't realize sooner that he intended for me to assist him in his nefarious deeds.
He came into the detachment. It was early winter, we'd only gotten about four feet of snow thus far. He came by dogsled. He pulled up before our little building and anchored his sled, then tied the lead dog before stepping up on the porch and stomping the snow off. Someone heard him and looked out the window. Constable Clavelle turned the oddest shade of white and groaned. Sergeant Wexler looked up at her and asked what was wrong. She said that Sergeant Fraser had just arrived. She and several other constables made haste to leave via the back door. I had no idea why. Then he was there. He looked around and glanced at my Sergeant.
"This all you got?" he asked. Wexler nodded. Then Sergeant Fraser looked at me. I felt like a specimen under a microscope. "Tall one, ain't you? Well, you'll have to do. Come on, boy, grab your parka and let's go."
"Go where, sir?" I asked, looking at Wexler for help.
"Got a man digging up artifacts without a license, boy. Come on, haven't got all day."
I grabbed my parka and followed him out. He expected me to ride on the sled. I declined and insisted on mushing beside him. He was surprised, having expected me to be a city boy like most of my fellow officers. I'm really quite strong but tend, due to my height and thinness, to be somewhat clumsy. Coltish, Sergeant Fraser called me. It was one of the nicest descriptions anyone ever gave of me. I was well able to keep up, although snowshoes are not my forte. I did, however, grab my skis before I left, so as he rode the runners of the sled, I shushed along beside him, keeping up quite well.
Three days, it took us. We must have traveled nearly five hundred kilometers in that time. We were far from any help. We simply staked out the dogs and climbed the rise. The men had a helicopter and were digging up an ancient Inuit village. We waited until they went to bed and then took them as they slept. Once we had them restrained, Sergeant Fraser contemplated how to transport four felons back to civilization... my outpost. I suggested we use their helicopter. He seemed surprised, but then shook his head, saying that we couldn't trust them not to deliberately crash and try to escape. I told him that I could fly us all out, although it would be somewhat crowded, what with his dogs and sled, not to mention six people and the artifacts. He pondered it through the night and in the morning, agreed.
I'm rather glad that it's not common knowledge that I can fly. It was one of the things I learned as a teenager at the monastery. They transported supplies out to several missions in the far north, and one year, they decided to teach me to fly. I love to fly. I'm not clumsy in the air and in a plane or helicopter, my hands are steady and not in the least awkward. Would that the skills used to pilot were transferable to more mundane tasks on terra firma.
Rather than simply set down at my detachment, I suggested that, as there was sufficient fuel, that we should fly all the way to Yellowknife or Moosejaw.
Sergeant Fraser smiled at me and said "By all means, Moosjaw it is."
I do believe that Sergeant Fraser was afraid of flying, although he said nary a word of complaint. Our prisoners were squashed into the middle of the helicopter with the dogs, the sled and my skis. Some of the dogs got airsick, I'm afraid. The trip that took us all of three days took a mere four hours in the helicopter. I radioed our location and ETA to the detachment in Moosejaw and was directed to land at the local airport, where we were met by officers who took charge of the miscreants.
Girrard was there. He and Sergeant Fraser talked for a while, and when he returned, he was in a rather foul mood. Then Girrard wanted to talk to me. When I got back, Sergeant Fraser had left with his dogs and sled to return to patrol, leaving me stranded. I ended up taking a bus back to my own detachment. I felt humiliated, until I arrived and was given a hero's welcome. It seemed that Sergeant Fraser had the reputation of running young constables into exhaustion trying to keep up with him. I had set a precedent. I was the first in almost twenty years, besides Buck Frobisher and Girrard himself, to keep up with the man.
A few months later, when I learned Sergeant Fraser's fate, I was saddened. When I found out who had been behind the murder, and that Sergeant Fraser's son had brought in his father's killer and blown the top off the government's cover-up, I determined to do my best to find some way to be stationed with Constable Fraser. It took me a year, but I succeeded.
Unfortunately, I am not really well suited to city life, certainly not in such a large, American city. My physical difficulties, particularly when under stress, have made an unfortunate impression on both Constable Fraser and Inspector Thatcher. Sadly, first impressions are the most lasting and mine were... well, less than stellar, I'm afraid. No matter how I try, though, I'll never be more than an imbecile in their eyes, I think. Of course, allowing detective Vechio, the second detective Vecchio, to talk me out of my uniform when I was supposed to keep him in the consulate, well, I'm afraid that cemented my stupidity in Constable Fraser's eyes. Although, detective Vecchio did learn to appreciate the finer arts of curling during his sojourn in our little outpost of Canada.
I digress, however. I was talking about stress. On this particular occasion, I had simply delivered the mail. Not a difficult task, by any means. Unfortunately, one of the items was a package addressed to the Inspector. I knocked on her office door, as always. Not hearing a response, I knocked again and heard an annoyed sort of grunt, followed by a command to enter. I do believe that the Inspector had fallen asleep at her desk. I daren't say anything, so I merely smiled and nattered on about how she had received a parcel. As I approached her desk and made to lay the parcel before her, she chose the most inopportune moment to rise. I was startled and straightened up rather quickly and due to my natural clumsiness, bumped the in box on her desk. Unbeknownst to me, she had set a full container of soda by it, and as the rather large stack of papers also in the box were a bit loose, well, suffice it to say that the papers slid, knocking the soda across her desk and over the parcel. She was screaming invective at me before I even had time to apologize. Then, of course, the more I tried to repair the damage, the worse it got. Papers scattered everywhere and at one point our heads collided, causing the Inspector to shout even more loudly. I was devastated. The final blow, however, was when the parcel suddenly slid across her desk and fell to the floor at my feet.
The sound of breaking glass was unmistakable, as was the scent of very expensive perfume.
Extremely expensive perfume. I know. My pay is going to be docked to cover the cost of replacement. I'm very glad that it's summer and that the garden I planted behind the consulate is producing well. It's also very fortunate that I like vegetables, as I will be subsisting on them for the next three months. As I said, a very expensive bottle of perfume. As it is, I will be very tight even on making my rent this month, but I'll manage. I always do.
Ah, yes. Stress. After the Inspector left (and I'm very thankful that Constable Fraser was out with Detective Vecchio at the time, the second Detective Vecchio), I did my best to clean up the mess. I fear the office will never lose the scent of that perfume. I know how expensive it was, but I'm afraid that the smell... well, it makes me sneeze, for one thing, and for another, makes me want to gag. Why anyone would want to smell like that, I do not know. To me, the odor is reminiscent of... well, the garden at the end of the season, after the first few rains and frosts have killed all the plants, when the vegetables that had not ripened rot on the vine? That smell. I shudder whenever I think of it, and I feel sorry for Constable Fraser in that he will be unable to escape, as he lives here, at the consulate. It may, however, give him the impetus to find new lodgings. I wonder how he bears it, living here, that is.
Of course, he is allowed to go out and help Detective Vecchio do real police work. That is something I truly miss. I've never complained, however; but I truly miss doing actual police work. I'm actually quite good at it. I seem to have an innate talent for puzzles. Not that anyone here would believe it, of course; but I am quite good. My first assignment involved the illegal poaching of caribou. Everyone else was convinced that it was this one particular Inuit man, who had a rather terrible reputation as a rum-runner. I was sent to question him, and he denied the accusation. Somehow, I knew that he was telling the truth. I listened to him, watching his every move and realized that he had a club foot. I had seen the snowshoe tracks that the poacher had left and knew that this man could not have left those tracks. I told him as much and he became quite agitated that I had figured out he had a deformed foot. I shrugged and said that it was of no importance to me, only that it proved he could not have been the poacher. I then asked him who he thought it might be?
Of course he knew, but he made me puzzle it out. I knew the list of 'the usual suspects' and simply started talking about who it could or could not be, and why. When I got to the name of the culprit, his reaction told me. I didn't let on I knew, but continued through the list. When I was finished, I went back to the one man whose name he reacted to and announced that was our suspect. He laughed at me and slapped me on the shoulder and we've been friends, ever since. I never did let it be known why I knew he was innocent. He would have lost a great deal of prestige, had it gotten out. He still sends me cards at Christmas.
I'm meandering again. Stress. Yes. After I cleaned up the Inspector's office as best as I was able, I went out to my little garden to weed, water, and harvest. The soil here was very poor, but I've supplemented it with a great deal of horse manure, which of course is wonderful, although you have to do a great deal of extra weeding. I've two fifty-five gallon drums full of horse droppings mulching away for next year. If I'm still here, that is. I fear the Inspector is not at all pleased with my performance. Oh, if I could only be one one-hundredth as good as Constable Fraser. I don't believe he knows how much I admire him. Then again, he is also unaware that I ever met his father. Ah, well. Such is life. I imagine that if he knew he'd be rather embarrassed by my hero-worship of him. I just wish....
I envy Detective Vecchio, as well. Both of them. To be accepted by a man such as Constable Fraser as not only a fellow police officer, but as a friend... that would be... beyond wonderful. Back to stress. I finished my chores in the garden and was pleased to discover that my harvest was sufficient to make a lovely batch of vegetarian Moussaka, not having the funds to purchase the lamb that the recipe calls for. I'll have to leave out a few other ingredients, as well, I fear, but I can supplement it with herbs and spices.
I had just placed my supper in the oven when Constable Fraser and Detective Vecchio arrived. I realized immediately that I would have to find some way to deodorize the Inspector's office, as his first comment was about the hideous stench. Oh, dear. They came into the kitchen, sniffing, trying to find the source of the horrid smell. Detective Vecchio said that the kitchen just smelled rather like cabbage rolls. I asked him what those were, and he explained. It sounds delicious, and when I can again afford meat, I may attempt them. Eventually, I managed to explain the problem about the smell. Fraser winced and frowned as the realization that the smell would not go away and he slept here dawned upon him. He glanced at Detective Vecchio and asked if he might spend the next few nights with him.
Detective Vecchio laughed and called us both freaks. I believe it is a term of endearment, coming from him. It was nice to be included. They dropped off some items in Constable Fraser's office and then left again. I took out my supper when the timer went off and sat down at the kitchen counter to eat. There would be enough for at least two more days, by which time, the garden would have recovered from the harvest and again be ready for picking. I do wish I had some lamb, though.
I'm glad it's summer. Were it not, I would have frozen, I fear. As I am so short of funds, I have turned off the gas, to avoid the bill. As it is, despite the heat, I truly despise cold showers. Still, I cannot in all good conscience bathe at the consulate. For one thing, Constable Fraser would wonder why and ask, and I'd hate for him to suspect me of being a spendthrift. It wouldn't have been so bad had I not just sent most of my savings back to the monastery, for a new well. The old one collapsed, and there was no money to replace it, so they were hauling water from the river, two miles away. The brethren are the only family I have, so of course I help out when I can. The timing was just so unfortunate. Then again, it may just be God's way of telling me to leave the RCMP and return to the monastic life; but, I would so miss my friends.
I know. They aren't really my friends, but I do see them regularly and speak with them. And Detective Vecchio has learned to appreciate the sport of curling. If only I didn't irritate everyone, so. Ah, well. Only another month of vegetarian living. I think when I finally can afford it, I would like a nice, thick, juicy steak, to celebrate.
Disaster has struck. I had nothing whatever to do with it, but it will come out of my paycheck. Once more, I picked up the mail and delivered it. I wasn't even in the room when it happened. A stone came through the window and broke the Tiffany Lamp on the Inspector's desk. I was in the kitchen at the time, cleaning the oven, when I heard her scream my name. I ripped the rubber gloves off and ran to see what was the matter. She was furious. She never let me get a word in edgewise. I don't know. I've done the very best I can, but this is more than I can take. I've been living on one-quarter pay for three months, barely enough to pay the rent on my modest flat, and have been eating from the garden. The garden is nearly depleted, and there is no way I can survive six more months like this. I believe it is a sign. As much as I do not wish to, I see no alternative other than to return to the monastery. I will miss everyone, so....
Ray Vecchio, nee Kowalski, put the journal down, frowning. He stood up from Fraser's desk chair and wandered out and down the hall to Thatcher's office. Opening the door, he found it just as Thatcher had. Turnbull hadn't cleaned up, for once. He supposed that, given enough stress, the poor guy just couldn't function any more. He spotted the rock, immediately. How the Ice Queen had missed it, he didn't know. The hole in the window was also fairly obvious. However, nothing was as obvious as the broken lamp, shattered beyond recognition, almost. He shook his head and turned to leave. He spotted a piece of paper on top of the desk, placed there after the lamp had broken. He didn't need to look to know what it was. He turned on his heel and headed out. Fair was fair. Sure, Turnbull was a klutz, but he was a well-meaning klutz. Maybe if everybody stopped expecting the worst, he wouldn't have so much trouble.
"Fraser!" Ray headed for the bathroom, where his partner was taking a much needed shower. Ray grinned when he thought about how for once, the perfectly groomed Mountie had been the one to get messed up. At least he hadn't been in uniform at the time, the idea of how that wool uniform would have smelled.... better not go there.
"Fraser! We got a problem!"
"There's no need to shout, Ray."
"Yeah, there is. The Ice Queen made a mistake, and is punishing Turnbull for it."
"You mean the Tiffany Lamp? I heard all about it from the Inspector."
"You didn't hear Turnbull's side, though."
Fraser practically smirked. "I doubt that will be necessary, Ray."
"Well, you 'd be wrong. Come with me." Ray grabbed Fraser by the arm and dragged him, still wearing only a towel, to the Inspector's office and opened the door. "Now, take a good look and tell me what you see."
"A broken lamp, Ray."
"A... rock?" Fraser's voice became subdued as he allowed his eyes to see what was truly there, and not what he expected to see. "Oh, dear."
"Yeah. Come on, you need to read this. Get dressed, then we need to go find Turnbull before he does something really stupid."
Fraser balked for a moment, alarmed. "Give me two minutes!" He turned and sprinted for his office and his clothes.
Ray retrieved the journal and told Fraser to read it on the way to Turnbull's apartment. He also called the Inspector and read her the riot act for being such a bitch, explaining that a deaf wolf could tell that a rock had come through the window, since the rock was still on the desk and there was a hole in the window. She blustered, until he told her that if she accepted Turnbull's resignation, he'd hire a lawyer for Turnbull and sue her, and the Canadian Government over Turnbull's mistreatment at her hands, citing incidents he'd observed... She was shocked, but she was, after all, a politician. She knew when to back down, and this was that time. Besides, she'd just gotten an offer to return to Ottawa...
Fraser finished reading the journal as Ray pulled up in front of Turnbull's place. It truly was little more than a cardboard box. It was getting cold at nights, now, and without heat, even Fraser would be hurting in that place.
"I never knew, or suspected..." Fraser said softly as he gently closed the book.
"We never cared, Fraser. That's even worse." Ray turned off the engine and got out. Fraser quickly joined him on the sidewalk and they headed up to Turnbull's room. It was a fifth floor walkup. The only saving grace for the crummy old building was that at least it was clean. Fraser and Ray exchanged a look, they had a pretty good idea who was behind that.
They found him sitting on the floor, crying. Not obviously, no wailing or gnashing of teeth, or even sobs, just the quiet falling of tears as he looked through his meager possessions. Glancing around, Fraser and Ray realized that Turnbull had even less than Fraser did. And the idea that the Inspector had taken her anger out on him for things that weren't entirely his fault....
"Turnbull?" Ray asked, softly. The tall young man looked away, thinking to hide his tears. He should have known better. Ray knew all about hiding your hurt. He glanced at Fraser and moved closer to the younger man sitting on the floor. It was fairly obvious that he had attempted to mimic Fraser's stoic existence. The only problem was, he wasn't anything like Fraser. Except for his hero-worship of larger than life Mounties of that name.
"Renfield?" Fraser added, and caught Ray's startled look. He shrugged, unable to explain how the poor guy had an even worse name that his hero.
Turnbull shivered and buried his face in his hands, wishing they would just go away and leave him alone, instead of tormenting him like this. He flinched when he sensed that both men had crouched beside him on the floor.
"I called Thatcher and told her off," Ray explained. "A blind man could have seen the hole in the window and the rock on the desk. How she could blame you for that is beyond me. Come on. Let's get you up, okay?" He and Fraser attempted to pull the taller man to his feet, but one of the things he hadn't written down in his journal was how the Inspector had been helping herself to the contents of his garden and he hadn't had much of anything to eat in the preceding week. He was simply too light-headed to be able to function. When they tried to pull him up, his knees simply couldn't lock to allow him to stand, and they were left with him sprawled across the floor.
Ray looked at Fraser, who was worriedly looking down at the younger Constable.
"Renfield, when was the last time you ate anything?"
"Oh, Yesterday, I believe, sir."
"What did you have?" Ray added, understanding Fraser's concern.
"A tomato. Well, three, actually. Lovely little cherry tomatoes, so sweet... they did very well this year, you know."
Fraser and Ray stared at each other, aghast. "That's all?" Ray asked.
"Oh, I believe there was a squash, as well. A zucchini, too small to pick, really, but I was hungry."
Ray straightened up and pulled out his cell phone. He turned it on and started to dial, then stopped, frowning. "What can we give him that won't make him sick?" he asked.
"Chicken soup, perhaps?" Fraser suggested.
"Good, that's good. Uh," he looked around the tiny flat and realized that there was no way to heat any food, either. "My place. I'm just a couple of miles from here. We'll take him there, and get some food into him. We can stop off at the A&P on the way. I'll stay with him, you go in and shop. You know what would be best, right?"
"Yes, Ray. I know what to get." Fraser and Ray, between them, muscled the larger man up and got his arms over their shoulders. They didn't bother to lock up, there was nothing to take. They practically carried him down to Ray's car. Realizing that they would never be able to get him out of the back seat, they put him in the front, and Fraser climbed into the rear from the driver's side.
When they pulled up at the market, Ray handed Fraser all the cash from his wallet. "Get him some Gatorade, too. He's probably dehydrated, too. Oh, and some fruit juice, and maybe some V-8, That's good stuff."
"Understood, Ray. I'll be as quick as I can." Ray only nodded, but Fraser didn't see, as he was already headed into the market.
"Come on, Turnbull...Renfield. Hang on for us. You're gonna be just fine. We'll get you all nice and warm and fed and you'll feel a hundred percent better, I promise. Damn. I shoulda told him to get some vitamins, too. Why didn't you say anything, man? I know. You think we don't like you. How can we like you or not? I don't even know you. I know you're a freak, but I think that's a Canadian thing. And I still say that curling isn't a sport. You hear me?"
"Is so," came a weak voice from the seat beside him.
"Wanna fight about it?"
"If you insist."
"Hang on, buddy. We'll take care of you."
"Thank you, Detective Vecchio." He was so tired. He couldn't even open his eyes, he was so weary. Or, perhaps, it was hunger? He'd fasted before, but never for three weeks. And, when he had, he'd been prepared for it, mentally, at least. This was simply hunger, and he felt badly that he had to be taken care of, but he wasn't sure what he could do about it, so he simply let them do what they wanted.
His next conscious thought was that the liquid they were making him drink tasted awful. Both Constable Fraser and Detective Vecchio were rather insistent that he drink it, though. It must be some kind of medicine. Had to be. Only something very good for you could taste this awful.
Unfortunately, the amount of sugar in Gatorade hit his stomach and they were pulling over and Ray managed to get the door open before he ruined the interior of the car. Compared to the amount he'd drunk, what came up wasn't very much, and what there was was mostly bile. He hadn't realized that his body had begun to shut down from the lack of nourishment.
Luckily, the elevator in Ray's building worked. He seldom used it, as the stairs were faster, but the idea of hauling Turnbull's semi-conscious body up two flights was daunting, at best. Once inside, they dumped him on the sofa and Fraser went back down for the groceries, while Ray started working Turnbull's tunic off of him. When Fraser returned, it took both of them to finish stripping the younger man. Fraser was appalled by Turnbull's condition. He looked like someone from a concentration camp. Obviously, his garden either hadn't produced very much at all, or he simply hadn't eaten. Or both.
"Bath." Ray insisted. Turnbull smelled. Mostly of sickness, but still, he smelled and Ray didn't want him in his bed like that. Fraser nodded and scooped Turnbull up and carried him into the bathroom. Ray ran a warm bath for him while Fraser tried to revive the younger Mountie.
"Ray, I don't think the lack of food is the only problem."
"What else could it be?"
"I think he may have been poisoned." They looked at each other in concern.
Surprisingly, Ray's sweatpants fit Turnbull rather well. Once he was clean and dry, they dressed him and tucked him into Ray's bed. Once he looked comfortable, Fraser headed for the kitchen and started fixing some chicken soup.
"What kind of poison do you think it might be, Frase?" Ray asked, worried. "Shouldn't he be in a hospital?"
"I rather suspect that an insect spray used in the garden might be the culprit."
"That could kill him, Frase. I'm thinkin' 911 might be a really good idea, here."
Fraser frowned. "I don't believe that will be necessary, Ray. His last food was yesterday morning, more than thirty hours ago. The bile he vomited was from deep in his intestines. I believe the Gatorade had already been absorbed, but his body still reacted to the sugar, causing him to attempt to regurgitate.
"He hurled, Fraser. He puked his guts out. I half-expected to see blood, man."
Fraser regarded his friend. "Well, yes. I did, too. However, there was no blood, so I think he'll be fine. We just need to make sure he has very light meals for a while."
"Eating 'light' is what caused this, Frase."
"Yes, but anything heavy would no doubt bring about a repeat of his earlier reaction to the Gatorade."
"Oh. Got it. Not a good thing. So, what are you makin' there, Fraser?"
"Chicken soup, Ray. When it's finished cooking, we'll wake him and give him some of the broth. If he manages to keep that down, we'll add some vegetables and pasta and see if he can keep that down, as well. Simply working him up to more solid food as his body adapts to being fed properly again."
"Right. That's good."
When he didn't want to eat, they forced fluids into him. When he didn't want anything to drink, they forced solid food into him. When he begged them to leave him alone, they bathed his fevered body to cool it. Both Ray and Fraser called in sick in order to care for Turnbull. Welsh didn't seem to care, and Thatcher was left to man...er, woman the consulate by herself, which showed her exactly what her constables did to maintain the smooth running operation she had been accustomed to. She didn't do nearly as well by herself.
As much as she missed Fraser, she missed Turnbull more. She began to understand just what the younger constable did. He kept the entire building clean and sparkling. He kept the files up to date and could always be depended on to find whatever she needed. Yes, he did break things, but compared to everything else he did, a few broken objets'd'art seemed a paltry thing. And when she spotted the huge rock on her desk and the broken window it had come through... she felt particularly bad. Then she read his resignation and nearly cried. She had never noticed that the only time anyone spoke to Turnbull (herself, most of all) it was to give him an order or, more frequently, to chastise him. She felt guilty, and seeing from his letter that he had no one to talk to, except herself and Fraser... that nearly broke her heart. She recalled telling him, on one occasion, after he'd broken something or other, to 'get a life', but she realized that becoming a Mountie was his life. She did the only thing she could, she scrawled across his resignation letter, 'DENIED', in huge, red letters. Then, she tried to figure out how to make it up to him....
As he became aware, he wondered where he could be? Certainly not his flat. He was too warm, and the bed was much too large and comfortable to be his own, short, narrow single-sized bed. There were smells, too. Food smells. Cooking smells. Wonderful smells. He decided that he liked this particular dream. The embarrassing rumble from his stomach, however, brought him fully awake. He looked around in surprise. He had no idea where he was. Someone's bedroom, obviously. Not a hospital, but who? Where? He sat up and immediately grabbed his head to try and control the dizziness. He found that he was wearing a pair of sweatpants, and wondered yet again, who, and where, and most importantly, why?
He didn't hear him come in. His first clue was the hand that settled gently on his bare shoulder. "Hey, Renfield? You doin' okay, there?"
He looked up in confusion. "Detective Vecchio?"
"Yeah, buddy. You gave us quite a scare there, kid. We were worried about you."
"Yeah, Fraser and me. The Ice Queen, too, once I read her the riot act. Why'd you let her dock your pay for something she did, anyway?"
"What?" Turnbull didn't understand.
"Uh, I found your journal, at the consulate. I... well, I read it. You described that perfume gettin' broke. It landed at your feet. From the rest of your description, I kinda suspect that Thatcher shoved the stuff on her desk and it flew off and broke. It had to have had some force behind it, since it went through the postal service. So, maybe it got wet from the soda, and the box got weak, so when she shoved it at you, it flew off the desk and broke on the floor. That wouldn't have been your fault, but hers."
"It doesn't matter." Turnbull said morosely. "It was my fault, anyway, for having spilled her soda."
"She stood up and scared you. Everybody knows that you're terrified of her. What should she have expected? She stands up, you flinch. You can't help it. I seen Fraser do it, too. Not your fault. And, the evidence was right there all along for that lamp. It wasn't your fault. She's been punishin' you for stuff that you didn't deserve bein' punished for. I also told her that that perfume stank up the joint. Although, you did a primo job of getting the smell out. You're gonna have to tell me how you did it, one of these days."
"Thank you, Detective." He looked shyly around, realizing that this was Detective Vecchio's apartment. He loved the bed. It was soft, and warm, and large enough for him to stretch out and not hang over the edge. Some day, perhaps...
"How long have I been here?"
"Couple of days. You were pretty sick, you know? Did you forget to wash the vegetables from the garden? You know, to get the bug spray off?"
"Oh, I didn't use sprays, Detective. I used natural repellents. All quite harmless, I assure you."
"Well, somebody must have, 'cause you were pretty sick, there. You didn't get a lot, but it was enough to make you sicker than you already were."
Turnbull frowned, not understanding. "I was ill?"
Fraser's voice from the doorway replied, "Malnourishment will do that, Renfield."
"Mal... but I ate!"
"Not nearly enough, it would appear. Have you any idea how much weight you lost?"
Turnbull frowned. He hadn't really noticed.
"I checked your file. You used to weigh eighty-two kilos. You're down to under sixty-five kilos. You can't survive at that weight, Renfield. Your body had begun shutting down. Had we found you any later, we'd have been forced to take you to the hospital, and you know what that would have meant."
Oh, indeed he did. Reports. Copious quantities of reports. Bad things. He hung his head, ashamed to have caused so much trouble.
"It's gonna be okay, though. Thatcher has promised to return your money to you. I still can't believe she did that to you. She's supposed to know better."
"Ray, that's enough. It's all straightened out, now." Fraser looked at the younger man, "Do you think you could eat anything? You've been only semi-conscious, at best, for the past two days. You've eaten whenever we've awakened you, but you were never wholly aware, I'm afraid."
"That... sounds wonderful, thank you."
"Greatness!" Ray chortled, slapping Turnbull on the shoulder as he stood. "So, what'll it be? More chicken soup? Something more solid, maybe? What would you like?"
"Anything would be fine. Really." He saw the American frown at him. "I don't want to be any more trouble than I already have, sir."
"It's Ray. My name is Ray. You call me that, okay?" Ray growled. He wasn't going to let the kid down again.
"Yes, s... Ray." He looked shyly up at the other two men, hardly believing his good fortune. Even Constable Fraser was smiling at him. "Thank you both, for taking care of me."
"It's what friends do, Renfield," Ray answered, then shook his head. "What idiot named you Renfield, anyway?"
He blushed. "I understand that one of the brothers at the monastery named me. I was left, quite literally, on the doorstep. The blanket I was Wrapped in had the word Turnbull on it and, so I've been told, I was named for a character in a book one of them was reading."
Fraser flinched. "I must admit that his choice was rather, atrocious."
"Yes. I'm much to tall to be a toady, I think. And the idea of eating flies and other bugs is truly appalling to me."
"Yeah. I'm with you on that one, buddy. So, can I shorten your name, maybe?"
"Shorten it?" He was surprised that anyone would care to bother.
"Yeah. How 'bout if I call you Ren?" Ray snickered, casting a sly glance at Fraser, who gave back a tolerant, long-suffering look. "Then, you could be Ben and Ren. Kinda catchy, don't you think? Sounds like characters in a book or something."
Fraser sighed and looked apologetically at Turnbull. He was about to say something, when he saw the look of rapture on the younger Mountie's face, and held his tongue. He remembered reading the journal, and decided to let it go. Obviously, Renfield... Ren was thrilled with the idea. He stifled a sigh and smiled, instead. "If you insist, Ray."
Ray laughed. "So, what'll it be, Ren? I got a kitchen full of food. What would you like?"
"Do you remember those cabbage rolls you described?" Ren asked tentatively.
"Yeah? You want those? It'll take a few hours to make 'em. What would you like in the meantime?"
"Something... with meat, please?" It had been over three months since he'd last had any protein. Ray nodded, approvingly.
"How 'bout steak and eggs?" he offered. Fraser frowned, thinking it might be too much for Ren's weakened condition, but he needn't have worried.
"That sounds lovely, Ray, but I doubt I'd be able to keep it down, although, eggs would be nice."
"I got just the thing. Joe's Omelet."
Both Canadians frowned, "What's that, Ray?" Fraser asked.
"Ground beef, onions, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese," he explained. "With toast and hashbrowns on the side, usually, but whatever you want. It's good."
"That sounds wonderful, Ray," Ren smiled. It truly did.
Fraser still wasn't sure it wouldn't be too much, but didn't say anything.
"Coolness. I'll go start cookin'. You need anything, just holler. Bathroom's through there. There's a new toothbrush and razor on the sink for you." Before Ren could react, Ray was pushing Fraser through the door, leaving him alone.
At the mention of the bathroom, Ren suddenly needed to use it. He decided that he needed to have a shower, as well. To his surprise, there were fresh clothes set out for him when he emerged. He hadn't heard anything. Obviously, they had brought his clothes from home, not that he actually thought of the tiny flat as 'home' exactly. He sighed, as he realized that he truly had no home. Not the monastery, certainly. He doubted he could ever be happy there. He knew deep inside, that he wasn't cut out for the monastic lifestyle. He much preferred people. He liked people, and he would like to interact more with them. It was the one thing he loved about desk duty at the consulate, he got to talk to so many interesting people. When he was dressed, he realized what they had meant about losing too much weight. His clothes hung on him. It was a bit embarrassing, to tell the truth. He diffidently made his way through the bedroom door and found himself in the living room. He glanced over and saw Fraser and Ray in the kitchen. Uncertain, he just stood there, waiting to be noticed.
"Mostly eggs, Fraser. It'll be fine. You'll see. You said he needed more protein, but that we got to be careful, or he'll get sick again. I'll whip 'em up so it's nice and fluffy, toss in a little cornstarch and milk, and it'll be great." Fraser frowned, but nodded his reluctant agreement.
Ray had cooked the filling ingredients and dumped them into a bowl to cool while he whipped up the eggs. He separated the eggs and whipped the whites into soft, fluffy peaks, adding a bit of cornstarch to help them hold the air. He beat the yolks with some milk in a separate bowl and then folded them together. Satisfied, he poured the mixture into the frying pan and let it cook on a low flame. When they had set, he added the pre-cooked ingredients and gently folded the omelet over and covered it. Turning, he spotted Turnbull.
"Hey, Ren, five minutes. Pull up a chair." Ray smiled at him, and Ren smiled back.
Turnbull was still quite shy, but he was functioning again, at least. He came in and sat as indicated, at the table. "So, what'll it be to drink?"
"Milk?" Ren asked, slightly embarrassed.
"Milk it is." Ray gestured to Fraser, who got down an enormous tumbler and filled it from the plastic gallon jug of milk in the refrigerator. Ren's eyes grew large at the size of the glass. He frowned, looking up at Fraser. The expression on the older man's face wasn't one Ren was familiar with, but he could extrapolate from experience. Constable Benton Fraser was smirking. He felt his lips curl up into a smile as he lifted the glass and took a sip. Just the way he liked it, ice cold. He took several swallows and was surprised when the glass was empty. He must have been more thirsty than he thought. Fraser, his brows raised in surprise, took the glass and refilled it.
Ray had watched and when Fraser was facing him, winked. They'd argued over the wisdom of an entire gallon of milk; Ray insisting that Turnbull would drink it right up, and Fraser insisting that would be most unlikely. When Ray asked if Turnbull drank milk or lemon in his tea, or if he drank coffee, Fraser didn't know. Ray had insisted, and Fraser had given in, just to shut him up. The wink and accompanying smirk was Ray's version of 'I told you so'. Fraser sighed and refilled the tumbler. At this rate, they were going to need more milk before the day was out.
Ray served the omelet. He'd used half a dozen eggs and had divided the results into three portions, the lion's share being placed before Ren. The two Canadians looked at it, uncertain, but when Ray dug right in, they glanced at each other. Fraser shrugged and took a bite. Ren watched as Fraser's face lit up and he smiled, nodding to him. Ren needed no further encouragement and tucked in. It tasted just as wonderful as it smelled. Better, even.
Ray glanced up from his coffee. "So, taste okay, Ren?"
"It's wonderful, Ray. Thank you very kindly."
"No problem. Just need to feed you up a bit, you know?"
Ren blushed. "I'm sorry to be so much trouble for everyone."
"You're no trouble, Renfield," Fraser gently disagreed. "We've just seemed to have forgotten you. How, I'm not sure. You're too big to actually overlook."
"The word, Benton-buddy, is 'ignore'," Ray frowned, glancing at Ren. "That was a bad thing for us to do, Ren, and I apologize. It won't happen again. But you got to tell me when there's a problem, understand?"
"Yes, Ray. Thank you." Ren was surprised. Ray seemed to actually care. He certainly acted like it. He definitely sounded like it.
After they finished their repast, while Ray washed dishes, Fraser was instructed to take Ren into the living room to watch some television. It just so happened that ESPN was televising the US National Championship of Curling, live from Utah. The two Canadians watched, enraptured, as the best the US had to offer went head to head for slots on the US Olympic team. As far as they were concerned, this was getting a preview of the competition, and they watched every move very closely.
When the dishes were done, Ray joined them. It wasn't very long before he was sitting forward in his seat, just like his friends, avidly watching the stones' trips down the ice, the sweepers madly clearing the way. Cries of "SWEEEEEEEP!" echoed off the walls, as the three fans coached from their seats on the couch.
He'd been off an entire week. It had taken that long, just to regain enough strength to function normally. He still tired easily, but had already regained almost two kilos. Of course, drinking a gallon of whole milk a day can do that. Fraser had insisted he accompany him when taking Diefenbaker out for walks, at least twice a day. The exercise was mild, but sufficient to provide the building up of his debilitated muscles. Ray had insisted that he remain with him until he was ready to return to work. His protests had gotten him nowhere. The reminder that he still had no hot water at his flat settled the matter, and he stayed. Fraser had returned to the consulate, but only after Inspector Thatcher had telephoned, begging for assistance.
Now, here he stood. Constable Fraser had had coffee ready for him. Ray had introduced him to the joys of chocolate and coffee mixed, and Fraser had taken it upon himself to have some waiting for him when he arrived. Not a lot had changed, only that Fraser was more aware of him, now; and much more kind to him. Any minute, now, the Inspector would be arriving. He was about to hyperventilate.
"Calm down, Renfield. She won't hurt you." Fraser's soft admonition helped him to steel himself and although he was far from calm, his terror didn't show. He was a Mountie. He could do this. He was capable. Scholastically top of his class. He had a photographic memory and an ability to draw anything he saw. He took a deep breath and shivered once. The warmth from Fraser's hand on his shoulder did more to calm him than anything else could have. He smiled faintly up at his hero, who winked at him, just as the front door opened and the Inspector entered.
It had been a hell of a week. She'd had to work both Saturday and Sunday to get everything that needed to be, done. She took a deep breath as she reached the top step. Pulling herself up into stiff attention, she let the breath go and opened the door. She felt such relief. They were there. Turnbull was sitting at the reception desk, and Fraser was standing behind him, Turnbull was still too pale, but that might have been normal, for him, she wasn't sure, and that bothered her. Having learned that her constable had lost fifteen kilos had been a blow. It hadn't occurred to her... but it should have. She should never have taken her anger out on a subordinate. Vecchio was right. She'd gone back over the various events and realized that it was as much, if not more, her fault as Turnbull's. And blaming him for something he'd had no involvement in... well, that was unforgivable.
"Good morning, Constable Fraser. Constable Turnbull, I trust you're feeling better?"
"Yes, thank you, Inspector." For the first time, ever, he didn't leap to his feet and snap to attention. She didn't react, and he mentally sighed in relief.
"Good. I'm... That's good." Not knowing what else might be appropriate to say, she walked through the foyer and into her office.
Several hours later, when the paperwork got to her, she relapsed into her old habits.
"TURNBULL! Where is..." she stopped, staring at her constable, who stood before her with a stack of files in one hand, and a tray of tea in the other.
"The files you need, sir. I also took the liberty of preparing some tea for you. If you would be so kind as to...?" He gestured with the hand holding the files. He wasn't going to try and juggle. He would be sure to not only spill the tea, but no doubt mess up the files, as well. She came from behind her desk and took the files. He smiled, slightly, and carefully set the tray down on the conference table, far away from any paper, just in case.
"I wasn't sure whether you were in the mood for lemon or milk, so I brought both."
"Thank you, Turnbull." She looked at the files. They were the ones she needed. She frowned, realizing that the man often was delivering what she wanted, just as she began shouting at him. It gave her pause.
"If there is nothing else, sir?"
"No. That will be all... Turnbull?"
He'd already turned towards the door. He froze in place for a moment, then turned to face her. "Sir?" he asked.
"Would you care to join me? For some tea, that is?"
Turnbull smiled. "Why, thank you, sir. That is most kind of you."
She set the files on her desk blotter and then moved over to the conference table. He gallantly held her chair for her, before crossing around to sit opposite her. He offered to pour her tea, and she was surprised at his excellent manners. She'd never realized, before, how impeccably he served tea. She'd have to remember that. She'd also have to work harder at not shouting at him, to see if her observation about him and his penchant for bringing her the files she needed before she asked was just a fluke, or a chronic thing. She smiled. He was even good at polite small-talk. She'd have to have him serve at the next committee meeting. He was simply too good, not to take advantage of his strengths. Who knew? Yes, he was clumsy, and awkward. But that may have all been due to fear. The idea that she so terrified her constable... how awful. She wondered that they had stayed. Thinking on it, had anyone ever treated her the way she treated her two constables, she'd have been gone in a flash, even if it had meant quitting. She must keep reminding herself to do better.
"These cookies are delicious, Constable. Wherever did you find them?"
"Oh, Detective Vecchio gave me the recipe. They are quite good, aren't they? This is the first time I've tried making them. I think they turned out quite well, don't you?"
"Yes. They're wonderful." She looked at the younger man and decided that, some day, he would make someone a wonderful... well, wife, was the word that came to mind. She just hoped that whoever finally captured the man's heart appreciated him. She must remember to commend him on how well he kept the consulate clean and sparkling. And these cookies! Just a few more...
She ate half a dozen of the thin cookies he'd made. He was surprised. He'd only been able to handle two, himself. They were quite sweet, but went very well with the tea. She seemed pensive, but was being very nice. He sighed, wondering how long it would last. As he cleared away the tea things, he remembered anther file she would be needing. He hurried to the kitchen and dropped off the tray on the counter, very carefully. Then, he returned to his office and pulled the file. He was just about to knock on her door when he winced at the strident voice raised on the other side of the solid piece of wood.
"TURNBULL!" He sighed. Things were back to normal.
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