Bad Dream ….
Meg lay on her back, trying to sleep. Despite the pain meds, she wasn't comfortable. As she shifted onto her side, the Inspector saw a white shape at the foot of her bed. It took a second to focus. When her vision cleared, Meg saw a young woman with a neat bun behind an old fashioned nurse's cap. She wore a white dress with puff sleeves and thick, white shoes. Her beautiful face had such a confused expression, especially in her large, doe eyes. Their eyes met for a moment and locked. The sound of the door opening pulled Meg's gaze away. When she looked back the out of place nurse had disappeared.
“Good, you're already awake.” a cheerful, older nurse greeted Meg. She wore rectangular glasses and flower print scrubs.
“Ah, did someone else come in here with you?” Meg swallowed, her throat still raw.
“Nope.” the older nurse shook her head, salt and pepper strands cut into a short, fashionable hairstyle around her thin face.
“I thought,” Meg tried to recall if the young woman had worn a name tag. “perhaps it was a student.”
“There aren't any student nurses on this floor tonight. Is everything alright?” the older nurse peered more closely at Meg before picking up her chart. She began to nod when she saw the list of medicines they'd given her earlier.
“I guess I was dreaming.” Meg took a deep, calming breath, leaning back against the head of the bed.
“Yes, pain meds will do that.” the nurse began taking Meg's vitals; listening to her heart, taking her pulse and temperature. When she finished, she asked if there was anything her charge needed.
“No, I'm fine, I just need to rest.” Meg pasted on a diplomatic smile. She wasn't so sure the pain medication had caused what she'd seen. It didn't explain the dream she's had of standing at the foot of her own hospital bed with Fraser and his father. Meg could still see the small cabin Robert had called Borderland.
“I've suffered a major head injury and I'm on strong pain medication, everything is fine.” Meg told herself as she turned on the television to distract herself.
Twenty-seventh Precinct ….
Fraser had stopped in at the consulate shortly after six and left Turnbull a note. The Mountie and Diefenbaker had walked, enjoying the coolest part of the day while they could. Ben bought them each a bear claw, and himself a large cup of tea. He walked into the bull pen a little after seven. The scent of humanity filled his nostrils. Chicago was definitely better smelling during the winter freeze over. Sweat, bad cologne and cigars permeated the space.
“Hello, Fraser.” Elaine greeted him with practiced insouciance. The Mountie noted the way her eyes widened and her voice rose a fraction. She couldn't hide her attraction to him but she didn't make as much fuss over him as most women, thankfully.
“Good morning, Elaine, has Detective Vecchio arrived yet?” Fraser paused, keeping Dief in the corner of his eye. The wolf went from desk to desk, begging for sweets.
“Yes, he's in Welsh's office, the door's open, that's a good sign.” Elaine pointed one finger toward the Lieutenant's office.
“Thank you kindly, Elaine.” Fraser nodded before turning to leave.
“You're welcome, Fraser.” the dark skinned beauty watched him leave.
Fraser rapped on the door frame to announce his presence.
“Good morning, Constable, what brings you here so early?” Lt. Welsh waved him inside with one, beefy hand.
“I came to update Detective Vecchio on the Inspector's improving health. She awoke late yesterday evening. I'm on my way to visit right now.” Fraser delivered the report as succinctly as possible.
“Great, think she'd be up for questions?” Ray asked, relieved to hear she'd woken up. That meant this case would be out of his hair sooner.
“I'm not certain, Ray, the Inspector has been prescribed heavy pain medication.” Fraser answered truthfully.
“Detective, why don't you take the Constable here down to the hospital and see about Inspector Thatcher for yourself.” Welsh recommended. He didn't want the Canadians to think he wasn't doing his best work on this case.
“Will do, Sir, I'm on my way right now.” Ray turned and left the office.
“Thank you, Leftenant.” Fraser nodded briefly before turning to leave as well. He and Dief caught up to Ray at the Riviera.
“Here we go, into the dragon's lair.” Ray groused, sliding into the emerald green classic.
“Ray.” Fraser growled, “I know that the Inspector isn't your favorite person, but she has been the victim of a viscous mugging. If I hadn't found her this would be a murder investigation.” the Mountie reminded him.
“Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm glad she's okay. Let's go see what she can remember.” the detective fired up the engine of his beloved Riviera and backed out of the parking space.
Room 203 ….
Meg hoped the knock on the door was Fraser coming to visit. She desperately wanted good coffee and a breakfast bagel. She'd had enough hospital food.
“Come in.” she croaked.
The door opened and in walked her favorite Mountie and her least favorite American detective.
“Good morning, Inspector.” Fraser greeted her, taking his Stetson off and laying it on the window sill.
“Hello, Constable Fraser, Detective.” Meg pulled the hospital blanket up closer to her chest.
“Is there anything that I can get for you, Sir?” Fraser knew the answer already. Meg dispatched him with her breakfast order almost before he finished speaking.
After Fraser exited the room, it left Meg and the Detective alone together. They stared at each other for a moment, sizing up opponents. Ray looked away first.
“Do you have any updates on the case, have you arrested the thief yet?” Meg spoke first, getting down to business. Her dark eyes narrowed and surveyed the detective critically.
“No, no arrests yet, but we have a print out of his face in every cruiser in the state.” Ray informed her calmly.
“From security camera footage?” Meg asked.
“Yeah, a gas station along the highway.” Ray answered, feeling ill at ease.
“I assume the vehicle's license plate came back for a stolen car.” The Inspector pushed a strand of dark hair behind one ear, her eyes finally shifting away from Ray.
“Yeah, the thief hit the car's owner over the head and took his keys outside a convenience store two weeks ago. The victim never saw his face.” Ray referred to his notebook just to avoid eye contact.
“The thief is escalating his crimes, the next time he robs someone there will most likely be a fatality.”
Ray hid his new found respect for the sour Canadian well. She'd put the pattern together quicker than Fraser. Of course Fraser was distracted and the Inspector was personally motivated.
“Yeah, I was hoping you'd be able to give us a better description of this guy, the security camera footage is grainy.” Ray and Meg's gazes both turned to the tap on the door a moment before Fraser let himself inside.
“I'm sorry for the delay, here is your coffee and bagel, Sir.” Fraser set a cup container and a brown paper bag on the rolling tray at the side of Meg's bed. He'd even remembered to bring paper napkins.
“Thank you, Constable. Hospital food is deplorable.” That was one statement that all three could agree on.
“I'll send a sketch artist by this afternoon, Inspector.” Ray informed her as she bit into a bacon and cream cheese laden bagel. Meg simply nodded, not really caring.
“The assailant was about Fraser's height but stockier built, muscular, he had dark, thinning, slicked back hair pulled into a short ponytail. His eyes were dark, I'm not certain of their color. His hands were square and calloused as well as greasy. I would say he works in mechanics, cars, trucks, boats maybe. He wore a gray, sleeveless shirt, light colored denim jeans and black boots of some kind. I didn't see any scars or tattoos. He came at me from the side, grabbed me around the shoulders, forced me toward the alley and hit me on the head. I didn't have time to fight back.” Meg felt her attacker's hot breath on the side of her face again and shuddered.
“You have a keen memory, Inspector.” Ben wanted to sit down on the side of the bed, take her hand and tell her everything would be alright. Nothing about that urge was appropriate.
“Hind sight is 20/20.” Meg agreed bitterly, her head throbbing and her throat protesting all the talking she'd done.
A tap at the door brought the conversation to an end. Dr. Caldwell and an understudy walked timidly into the room.
“Good morning, Mrs. Thatcher, Constable Fraser.” Dr. Caldwell looked from her patient to the red clad officer at the foot of her bed.
“Dr. Caldwell, this is Detective Vecchio, he's handling the mugging case.” Fraser introduced Ray quickly. The doctor introduced her intern but no one really paid the fresh faced student much attention.
“A little harder blow to the head and it would be a murder investigation. Mrs. Thatcher is very luck.” the doctor looked from Meg finishing her bagel to the slouching detective. For a second Ray thought he saw an 'I told you so' expression on Fraser's face.
“I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you gentlemen to step outside, just until I'm finished with Mrs. Thatcher.” Dr. Caldwell gave them an apologetic smile as she hitched her thumb toward the door.
“They were just on their way anyway, Doctor.” Meg had finished her breakfast and sat brushing crumbs off her gown.
“Yeah, we were headin' out.” Ray started edging toward the door, Fraser following him.
“You have Ray's cellular phone number should you need me, Inspector.” Fraser pointed toward a slip of paper he'd left on the nightstand. Thatcher shooed him out the door with one hand and an annoyed glare.