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7 Disappearances

Monday Morning ….

Meg wore slacks and a blouse to work. Her ribs still ached, as did her head. She'd had a constant headache since waking up in the hospital, regardless of the pain medication the doctors had given her. She laid if off on stress.

Detective Vecchio and Fraser were still on the case. The assailant had dumped the stolen car he'd purchased gas for. The investigators deduced that he'd most likely stolen another car. They combed through all the mugging case files for the last six months for similar cases. So far they hadn't turned up anything.

The Inspector walked slowly down the hallway toward her office, briefcase in one hand and a coffee in the other. Despite doctors' orders, she'd chosen to come back to work, at least half the day. Meg hadn't slept well at all. The older woman hadn't shown up again but Meg couldn't get her out of her mind. Between the ghosts and the ongoing case, the Inspector's had a full plate.

“Good morning, Sir. How are you feeling this morning?” Fraser asked when he got to within arm's length of her. His keen blue eyes examined her closely. Meg wondered if she'd managed to cover the dark circles and bags round her eyes with make-up.

“I'm well, thank you.” Meg answered shortly. She held onto her facade tighter than ever. Fraser already knew that she saw his father's ghost, what would he say if he knew she'd seen two others?

“I see that your ribs are still giving your trouble.” Ben had had more than his fair share of injuries, he knew the posture.

“Yes, the doctor said they'll be sore and bruised for the next several weeks.” Meg sipped her coffee, trying to avoid eye contact with her subordinate officer. Fraser's intuition spooked her at times.

“Is there anything I can do for you, Sir?” Ben asked, wishing he could express what he wanted to say. He hated to see her in any kind of pain.

“No, I'm fine.” Meg answered stiffly. She wanted to ask Fraser all the questions that had kept her awake through the night. Making herself was another story.

“Fraser,” Meg began, pushing herself.

“Yes, Sir?” Ben stood stock still, wondering at the pained look on her face. Her brows drew together and she seemed to be holding her breath.

“Fraser,” she paused. “I'll only be here until after lunch.” Mentally, she kicked herself for retreating into work.

“Understood.” Ben answered, his head cocked slightly to the left.

Meg walked into her office, still angry with herself.

“What's wrong with me, Fraser would understand this sort of thing.” she muttered to herself.

“Benton never was one to believe in the supernatural, at least until lately.” Robert Fraser's voice startled the younger woman.

“Damn it!” she hissed as he stepped out of the shadows behind her desk. “Don't do that!”

“Sorry, I forget that you can see me.” Robert looked at her sheepishly. He wore his dress reds, hands behind his back. “What were you saying about Benton understanding something?” the older Mountie redirected the conversation.

“What business is it of yours?” Meg demanded indignantly, popping her fist holding her brief case on her hip

“None, I suppose.” the Mountie shrugged. His sparkling blue eyes beneath thick, white brows peered at her as if he knew something she didn't and wasn't going to tell.

“Then I suggest you exit my office, I have a week's worth of paperwork to catch up on.” Meg hitched her coffee cup toward the door behind her.

“Sheesh, only two people in the whole world can see me and neither of them will make time for a friendly chat.” Robert Fraser shook his head as he turned to walk out the door.

Meg had settled into her desk chair and gotten comfortable when she heard a tap at the door.

“Come in.” she called, her ribs reminding her not to breathe deeply. Fraser stepped through the door. His brows knit in silent concern at the perspiration on her forehead and the pain in her eyes. She'd come back to work too soon and they both knew it.

“Sir, Ray called and he would like you to come for a line up, if you feel up to it.” he stood with his hands clasped behind his back, the only way he could keep himself from reaching out to offer comfort.

“I always feel up to putting a criminal behind bars, Constable.” Meg slid herself backwards then eased to standing. She grabbed her purse from the coat tree and lead the way to the consulate car. It wasn't exactly consulate business but she'd write the miles off somehow.

The Twenty-seventh Precinct ….

Ray stood in the small room on the other side of the one way glass waiting when they arrived. He brushed lint off of his dark, pleated front slacks. Of the eight guys standing against the wall, Meg recognized seven of them as officers she'd seen around the precinct on the rare occasions she'd had to visit. None of the other three were the perpetrator.

“None of these is the man who mugged me, number three could be his brother but his eyes are wrong.” Meg shook her head, disappointed and angry.

“Damn.” Ray hissed to himself. He knew the Inspector's prediction of the next victim's death would come true.

“I had hoped the suspect would be in the line up as well Detective Vecchio.” Meg shook her head slowly. Every day that monster roamed the city the more likely he would kill someone.

“I've been going over the most recent carjackings and thefts, so far none of them match our suspect's M.O.” Fraser added gravely.

“Ah, he's probably skipped the state by now.” Ray ran his hand over his face, wishing he could wipe away the sick feeling he had in his stomach.

“Elaine has alerted neighboring states with the suspect's description.” Fraser added hopefully. He'd spent hours looking over reports of stolen cars, convenience store robberies and muggings. He couldn't get the image of Meg lying on her back behind the dumpster to leave him alone. The Mountie had to find this guy, to put him behind bars.

“The Yank doesn't know what he's doing.” Robert Fraser's voice interrupted Ben's thoughts. He hung his head before looking around. The Inspector was staring back at him.

“Will you excuse us, Detective, I need to have a word with Constable Fraser.” Meg headed toward the door, Fraser and Robert on her heels. She stopped in the hallway outside the lineup room.

“Must you always show up like that?” Meg hissed at the older officer, her dark eyes blazing.

“Listen here, you may out rank me but you should respect ...”

“Dad, the Inspector has a point, it is difficult to carry on a conversation with a ghost without unnecessary attention.” Ben packed up Meg's complaint.

A beat cop walked by the Canadians, staring at them as they stared into space, talking to someone or something he couldn't see. He shook his head as he went on his way toward the restroom. He'd heard the Canadians were different, he just didn't know how different.

Meg began rubbing her head, wishing the incessant headache would leave her alone. A skull fracture couldn't last this long, could it? She felt so old and tired suddenly.

“Should I tell Ray that we're leaving, Sir?” Fraser's voice brought Meg out of her pain.

“Yes, thank you, Constable.” she met his concerned gaze, the only one he fixed her with lately. Did she look that bad?

“I'll be back momentarily.” Fraser stepped back into the room to speak to Ray a moment, leaving Meg and his father together.

“I see that you don't like the Yank either, that's a relief.” Robert Fraser broke the silence between them.

“Detective Vecchio is a good detective, it's his personality that I'm not overly fond of.” Meg answered, rubbing her temples. “Fraser speaks highly of him though.”

“Benton has always been a good judge of character.” Robert looked thoughtfully down at his high browns.

“Sir, I'll bring the car around if you're ready to leave.” Fraser interrupted.

“Very well, Constable, I'll be at the entrance waiting.” Meg dismissed him, weary to the bone.

A few minutes later she was on her way back to the consulate. Robert Fraser had followed the younger Mounties and rode in the back seat, watching the scenery.

“Take me to my apartment, my head is killing me.” Meg ordered from the passenger seat. Fraser changed course and headed toward her apartment building.

“Have you taken your pain medication today, Sir?” He asked quietly, taking side streets to navigate traffic more quickly and smoothly.

“I don't need it, it's just a headache, I've taken extra strength acetaminophen already this morning.” Meg answered tensely. She felt as if her fractured skull were being pulled apart like a melon.

“Fraser, Stop, you'll hit him!” She screamed when they eased through a cross walk. The car came to a lurching stop in the middle of the empty street. Other drivers began honking their horns. Meg threw open her car door and rushed around the front of the consulate car. All she saw was stained, faded pavement. Empty sidewalks and an empty street lay around her in every direction.

“Sir, have you seen another apparition?” Fraser stood beside her, peering at her. She met his gaze and watched him watch her for any sign of trauma.

“I did, it was a young man, fifteen maybe, he wore a pair of black and white Converse shoes, jeans and a yellow and brown striped shirt, his hair was average brown and cut short, like yours.” Meg clasped her hands to keep them from shaking. If they shook on the outside as badly as she shook on the inside, they'd rattle off her wrists.

“The younger generation doesn't wear that sort of outfit these days, perhaps it was someone from the fifties or earlier.” Fraser theorized, scratching his brow with his left thumbnail.

“Hey, buddy, are you stalled or somethin'? It's too hot to sit here.” a delivery truck driver shouted from his cab window.

“We're sorry for the inconvenience.” Fraser took Meg by the elbow and helped her into the car before getting in himself.

“I thought we'd hit someone, you wouldn't hit anyone, you're too careful.” Meg said to herself, not really realizing she'd said anything aloud.

Fraser couldn't imagine what she was going through. The only ghost he'd seen was his father.

“Where is your father, I haven't heard him in a block or two.” Meg wondered, running her fingers through her dark hair. Perspiration dampened it as she pushed it away from her face. She would be glad to see her now cool apartment and comfortable bed.

Fraser checked the rear view mirror before answering, “He disappears without a word sometimes, it's quite a relief.” from the corner of his eye he saw a small smile pull at the corner of Meg's lips.

“I've heard he was a legendary officer.” she commented, rubbing her temples. “The last of a breed.”

“He was an exemplary officer, there are few officers of his caliber in any force.” Ben agreed, thinking back to his first few years with the Force. He'd had big shoes to fill and a day hadn't gone by that someone hadn't said, 'There's Bob Fraser's son'. It had taken a while before people recognized him for his own merit.

“Some would say that there are few officers of your caliber on any force.” Meg's voice was neutral, making Ben wonder if it were a left handed compliment or an insult. The woman perplexed him to no end.

Fraser parked the consulate car in the two story parking garage beside Meg's building. He escorted her to the apartment door. She pulled her keys from her purse and began fumbling with them. He watched her blink and feel of the keys.

“Here, it's the one with the red rubber ring.” Finally, she handed them to Fraser. He found the key on the first try and had the door open in a moment.

“Is there anything I can get for you, Sir?” Fraser offered, not knowing what to do or what she wanted him to do. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to lead her to bed and tuck her in with a cup of calming tea and her pain medication.

“No, I'm just going to rest for the rest of the day, try it again tomorrow.” Meg hung her purse on the back of a kitchen chair and shuffled toward the refrigerator.

“Very well, Inspector, I'll be a the consulate should you need anything.” the Mountie turned to leave reluctantly.

“Please keep Turnbull from burning the place down won't you.” she turned back to him, a glass of iced tea in hand.

“Yes, Sir.” he let an amused smile pull at the corner of his lips as he played with the buckle on his Stetson.

Meg watched Fraser walk out the door and close it behind him.

“He's concerned for you you know.” Robert Fraser's voice behind Meg didn't startle her.

“Yes, I know, I'm concerned about me too.” Meg answered, sipping her tea.

“He doesn't look at the Civilian Aide or the detective's sister with concern, he doesn't have to be concerned about you.” Robert Fraser supplied nonchalantly. He'd disappeared before Meg could turn to respond.

Fraser was right, his disappearances were a relief, especially when he was right about something.

***

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