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8 Research

Tuesday Morning ….

Fraser and Dief walked to the consulate along their usual, Tuesday path. The old wolf sniffed each tree and trash can along the way. Fraser had the opportunity to think about Inspector Thatcher as he walked. He'd never known her to give into a headache before. Though a skull fracture was far different from eye strain. He'd never known her to take a sick day or personal day for anything. She'd worked through colds, flu, upper respiratory infections and at least one yeast infection.

The Mountie and wolf arrived at the consulate a few minutes early. They walked in after unlocking the door, Dief's nails clicking on the hardwood flooring. Ben thought to himself that he was going to have to trim them.

“Who's there?” the Inspector's voice called out from her office.

“It's Diefenbaker and myself, Sir.” Fraser hurried to her door. She wore the same clothing she'd worn the day before. Her make-up had worn off and her hair had been finger raked often since he'd seen her last.

“Oh, Constable Fraser, good morning.” she sounded relieved to see him.

“Good morning, Sir, is something the matter?” Ben stood at her desk, his Stetson still sitting on his head.

“I, no, nothing is wrong.” she avoided eye contact, hands on her hips as she stood behind her desk. Her desk lamp was the only illumination in the room.

“Lying is unbecoming of an officer, Inspector.” Robert Fraser stepped out of the shadows to the left of Meg's desk.

“How do you get rid of him, Fraser?” Meg gestured with her hands at the older man grinning like a conniving school boy.

“She's been here all night.” Robert announced, enjoying his new found target. Benton had become too predictable.

Meg sat down at her desk, head in her hands. After a long, tired sigh, she spoke up, “I've been researching the ghosts I've seen, beginning with the one in the hospital.” she pointed to a stack of print outs lying on her desk blotter.

Fraser helped himself to the print outs. The first was of a young woman wearing a nursing uniform from the early sixties. She smiled sweetly in the black and white photograph.

“Phyllis Parker, twenty-two, a newlywed with a fifteen month old son, she died of a brain aneurism at the hospital while on the night shift.” Meg summarized the information accompanying the picture.

The second picture was of an older woman and her husband, both of them corpulent. They held hands and leaned toward each other in the color picture.

“That's Mildred Thompson and her husband Carl, she was a forty-six year old housewife who died in my closet, her husband where my kitchen table stands, both were killed during a home invasion by a group of teenagers. Only four of the five were caught. That was seventeen years after Phyllis Parker's death.” Meg sighed, leaning back in her chair.

“The last one is Jimmy Glassberg, he was hit by a car six months after the Thompsons were killed in my apartment, they never found the driver. He was on his way to a theater down the street for a play rehearsal of Grease.” the tired, lady Mountie massaged the bridge of her nose, tired from squinting. She'd left her reading glasses on the night stand beside her bed. “I knew I should have bought a spare pair.” she thought to herself.

“Have you found any links between these people?” Fraser skimmed the files for himself before laying them back down on the desk. Dief eased around the desk and sat beside Meg, laying his head on her knee. Absently, she rubbed his head.

“No, but my instincts tell me there is one, somehow I feel that they're linked to me as well.” she shrugged, still petting Dief.

“May I have Detective Vecchio take a look at these, Sir, perhaps he has more detailed files at the precinct.” Fraser asked, noting the dark circles under Meg's eyes and the coffee cup indention on her desk blotter. She usually used a coaster.

“I don't want him to know that I'm seeing ghosts, Fraser, that would put the whole investigation in jeopardy.” Meg leaned forward, her dark eyes shining with determination.

“I'll be discreet, Sir, you have my word.” Fraser moved to pick up the slim sheaf of papers when Meg's hand snaked out and landed on them with a determined thud.

“He mustn't know, Fraser, I have a hard enough time maintaining my authority in diplomatic circles without him gossiping that I see ghosts.” her voice wavered on the last word, her dark eyes pleading.

“You have my word, Inspector Thatcher, I won't divulge that information.” he met her gaze, his blue eyes earnest. Ben just wanted to ease her mind somehow.

“Thank you.” she sat back against the chair, her shoulders slumped and her face pale.

“Perhaps a short rest in the Princess Margaret Suite would be advisable, Inspector.” Fraser worded the suggestion as delicately as possible.

“Yes, perhaps just this once.” Meg took a deep breath, trying to stifle a yawn.

Fraser hoped she slept well. He suspected she hadn't been sleeping much since waking from the coma.

“Are you coming, Dad?” Ben asked his father who stood staring out the window at the birds flitting from place to place.

“Hmm, oh, yes.” the older Mountie followed his son out the door, along with Dief. Somewhere between the Inspector's office and the front door, he disappeared.

The Twenty-seventh Precinct ….

“Yes, Ma, I'll bring the oregano, fresh, just like you want it.” Ray whined into his cell phone. He looked up from the grocery list written on the back of a store receipt. “Ma, listen, I gotta go, Fraser's got that look on his face again.” he turned the phone off and leaned back in his desk chair.

“Good morning, Ray.” Fraser took off his Stetson and hung it on the coat tree near the desk.

“Hello, Fraser, what's up?” The Italian detective asked, his hands laced across the beginnings of a slight paunch.

“I was wondering if I could ask a favor of you,” Ray nodded, sitting his chair up right. “Would you pull the files for these people, they may or may not be connected to the Inspector's assault.” Fraser handed him the sheaf of papers.

“Sure, why not, I don't have thirteen other cases to solve today.” Ray began typing the first name into the police database.

“How'd you get these names, Fraser, they seem kind of far fetched, even for you.” Ray asked, not really caring.

“I'm obliged not to say, Ray.” the Mountie met his gaze, his blue eyes earnest. There was only one reason Ray could think of that would keep him from volunteering the information.

“Okay, just so it doesn't compromise the investigation.” He shrugged and dove back into the database.

“Here we go, Phyllis Parker, died of natural causes, left behind one husband and one son, Austin Parker.” Ray rattled off the information, watching Fraser from the corner of his eye. The Mountie seemed unfazed.

“Next are the Thompsons, killed during a home invasion, four of the teenagers were caught, they named a fourth suspect, one, well, look here,” Fraser came around the desk to peer over his partner's shoulder.

“Austin Parker, seventeen, questioned but he provided an alibi for the time of the murders.” Fraser frowned, his brain working at lightning speed.

“How does this connect to this kid?” Ray held up the picture of Jimmy Glassberg.

“I'm not certain yet, perhaps Austin Parker was the driver or Jimmy knew something about the Thompson murders.” Fraser theorized.

“How's that tie in with the Inspector's mugging?” Ray asked good questions that Fraser wished he could answer.

“I haven't the foggiest idea, Ray.” the Mountie shook his head, looking into the distance.

“Let's see what Mr. Parker is up to these days, shall we.” Ray turned back to his computer, typing slowly. The most recent picture at the top, left hand corner showed a long haired, bearded man with dark, narrow eyes.

“Armed robbery, grand theft auto and indecent exposure, it seems Mr. Parker urinated all over his boss' new Corvette.” The list of offenses went on for a quarter page. Fraser skipped the details.

“He's a bad one, but he doesn't match the Inspector's description.” Ray sighed, he'd hoped this would break the case.

“Pull up his mug shots from previous arrests, Ray.” Fraser stared at the photo, trying to mentally overlay the grainy security camera image against Austin Parker's recent mug shot.

“Here goes.” Ray used the mouse to pick out individual cases and arrests for the suspect. The first mug shot from his teen years very much resembled the security camera image.

“You're getting good at those hunches, Fraser.” Ray complimented him. The detective printed out Parker's first mug shot and his most recent. He'd aged, the soft, boyish features transforming into hard lines and crags.

“I'll show these to the Inspector in a photo line up, perhaps she can positively identify him.” Fraser hoped she could, he wanted to put the man responsible for her trauma in jail, (or a body cast).