AN- Inspired by my favorite Reese Witherspoon movie “Just Like Heaven”.
The Next Day ….
The consulate ceased to hum with activity about six o'clock the day after the Inspector's mugging. Fraser had gone straight from chasing leads with Ray to duty at the consulate. As the deputy liaison, he had to pick up the slack. Diefenbaker took the opportunity to sleep in under the Mountie's desk through the morning. By quitting time, Ben was ready to curl up and take a nap too but decided it would be more effective to visit the Inspector.
Dr. Janet Caldwell, a fresh, young doctor still paying her dues, greeted him at the door. She pushed her wire rimmed glasses up with the back of her hand. It had been a long shift and she was just finishing her rounds. Her burnished, ebony skin glowed in the florescent lighting overhead. She kept her hair short and fuss free.
“How is she, Dr. Caldwell?” Ben held his Stetson in hand, his light eyes searching her face for truth.
“Ms. Thatcher is stable but still unconscious.” Her tone was neutral.
Ben listened intently as she went into more detail, none of which told him when she would wake up
“Is there anything I can do?” Ben asked, knowing the answer.
“Visiting and talking to her is always a good idea.” Dr. Caldwell gave him an encouraging smile.
“Thank you kindly, Doctor.” Ben shook her hand politely.
“You're welcome, Constable.” Dr. Caldwell stepped back out into the hallway to continue her rounds.
Ben took a seat in the hard, plastic chair beside Meg's bedside. He heard snatches of conversations out in the hallways, television programs, and patient buzzers calling for attention. Acidic, poorly disguised disinfectant had recently been used in the room. Not a single get-well card or flower sat in the room.
“I should have stopped and bought you a bouquet before visiting.” Fraser spoke, wondering what her favorite flower would be. “You once said you don't like perfume, perhaps you don't like flowers either.” The Mountie studied his high browns for a moment, a thoughtful expression on his face.
“I've never heard of a woman that didn't like flowers.” Robert Fraser's voice spoke from the darkened corner of the hospital room.
“Hello, Dad.” Ben greeted him, lifting his head to see his father. The old man wore his dress uniform, his Stetson cut flat across the back, just the way he'd looked the final time Ben had seen his corporeal body.
Meg looked down to see herself also dressed in full dress reds. “This isn't what I was wearing a moment ago.” She lifted her arms out to see her hands, her nails were also painted a soft, matching red.
“What happened to her, Son?” Robert asked, standing at parade rest at the foot of Meg's bed. The younger officer came to stand beside him, looking down at herself.
“He's been able to see you all this time?” Meg inquired incredulously.
“Yes, he just said hello didn't he?” Robert turned to her.
“Who are you talking to, Dad?” Ben asked, searching the room. Nothing had changed in the slightest.
“Why, the Inspector, Son.” Robert gestured to the woman standing beside him.
“Inspector Thatcher is lying right here, Dad.” Ben stood up, perplexed.
“Yes, she is, but she's also standing beside me.”
Ben walked around the foot of the bed twice before doing a pirouette to look around the room again.
“I think you're confused, Dad, Inspector Thatcher isn't dead, she can't be where you are.” Ben ran a finger behind his ear before pulling on the lobe.
“Well she is, and she won't hush.” Robert Fraser narrowed his eyes at the younger woman.
“I've finally gone over the edge.” Ben shook his head, tapping it against the heel of his hand.
“The Inspector rolled her eyes and called you a moron.” Robert relayed.
Ben heard a peculiar whisper as he stared at his boots again. The voice was familiar but faint.
“Did the Inspector say something else?” Ben peered closer at the space beside his father, trying to imagine Inspector Thatcher standing there. With her lying there in a hospital bed, it was difficult.
“Yes, she's asking what happened, why she's in the hospital.” Robert didn't have to finish, Ben heard Margaret a moment before her image became clear to him.
“She was mugged Saturday afternoon, I found her, ah, you, on my way to the consulate.” Ben addressed her himself, standing at parade rest.
“Have there been any leads, who's on the case?” Meg demanded, going into Inspector mode.
“Detective Vecchio and I are on the case. There's been activity on your credit card, we're in the process of tracking down the thief.” Ben answered calmly.
“Great, I'll have to cancel my card and replace all my identification.” Meg growled, already making a mental to-do list for Turnbull as soon as she woke up.
“At the moment I'm more concerned with your well being, Sir. Doctors are still determining the reason behind the coma.” Ben informed her.
“Yes, well,” Meg didn't have anything to say. She pulled on the hem of her serge tunic, looking at her body lying in the hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and wires.
“Perhaps if you tried to connect your spirit to your body again.” Robert Fraser offered, hoping to get the Inspector out of his Borderland cabin. Ben lifted an approving brow but remained silent.
“It's worth a try.” Meg took a deep breath and sat down beside her body. Slowly, she eased back, her image melting into her flesh. It was a unique feeling, reattaching herself to her body. Meg felt a temperature change and a heaviness in her limbs as she sank farther and farther into her body. When she felt pain, she almost pulled free of her body. Her ribs ached, her mouth was dry and her head felt like an anvil had been dropped on it.
Ben and Robert watched as the monitors began changing, noting her rise in breathing and heart rate. A moment later the Inspector began to cough and thrash in her bed. Ben went out in the hallway to flag down a nurse. Dr. Caldwell and three nurses came rushing into the room.
“I'm sorry, Sir, but you'll have to leave for now, if you'll have a seat in the waiting area someone will come out to speak to you.” one of the nurses herded Ben out the door and down the hallway. Robert Fraser reappeared as soon as the nursed turned to leave.
“How's she doing, Dad?” Ben whispered, looking down the hallway to the open door.
“She'll be fine, she's tough.” Robert shrugged, glad to have Meg out of his hair. He saw the reason behind his son's attraction to her, but since she wasn't Caroline, he didn't really care.
Two Hours Later ….
Dr. Caldwell came into the waiting room looking tired. Her shift had ended an hour ago, but Meg's awakening had delayed getting home to a bowl of ice cream and a long shower.
“Constable Fraser, she's ready to see you now.” She noted how the Mountie's eyes lit up but his face remained neutral. His eyes betrayed his feelings for the woman.
“What's her prognosis?” Fraser asked. He needed to know to inform Ray and his superiors in Ottawa. They'd already been pressuring Fraser to let them send a replacement. He feared they'd reassign her if they sent someone else. He assured them her absence was temporary and that her recovery would be quick.
“We have more tests to run, but she's on the road to recovery. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep your visit short. She needs the rest.” Dr. Caldwell smiled, fiddling with candy papers in her lab coat pockets.
“Thank you, Dr. Caldwell, I will.” Ben walked into the Inspector's room, relief written on his face.
“Inspector Thatcher, how are you feeling?” Fraser stood at the foot of her bed, Stetson tucked under his arm.
“I've been better, Constable Fraser.” Meg's voice sounded harsh and her throat felt raw. She still had an oxygen tube under her nose and a half dozen monitors hooked up.
“I'm pleased to hear that.” What Ben really wondered was if she remembered seeing his father and spending time in Borderland.
“I had the strangest dream while I was out, I woke up in a northern forest, there was a cabin and inside I met your father, at least I think it was him. Somehow we ended up here, in the hospital together. We were both talking to you.” Meg wiped her eyes, her head still pounding despite the pain medication the doctor had given her.
Ben balked at telling her it wasn't a dream. He didn't want to aggravate her recovery in any way.
“The mind is an uncharted territory.” He left his response vague.
“Yes, it is.” Meg agreed, watching Fraser's mask settle into place.
“I should go, the doctor asked that I kept my visit short. Is there anything you need before I go?” Ben offered, expecting a full to-do list.
“No, I'm fine, just tired. I'll see you tomorrow, after you report to the consulate.” Meg coughed after that sentence, making her head hurt worse. Ben poured her a glass of ice water and handed it to her, his brows drawn together in concern.
“Thank you, Constable, dismissed.” Meg relieved him of duty before laying back against the raised head of the bed.
“Good night, Sir.” Fraser nodded to her and exited the hospital room. He had a dozen things to do anyway.