Characters belong in due South, and thus are property
of Alliance. I borrow them temporarily and only to work out a
few ideas in my head, because I think sometimes, though with
good intentions, the creators/writers/whoever just end up getting
things on this show in one whopping big mess, and I have to try
and fix it, if for no other reason than to preserve my own sanity.
This is set during Season 3, immediately after the episode
Perfect Strangers (in which the previously mentioned party
created a mess that I simply could not ignore).
by Michelle Lunsford
The Friday afternoon traffic had been more jammed and tense
than usual. This, and the tedium of several errands along the
route home - the bookstore to purchase the latest release by
her favorite author, the grocery to pick up a few things, the
craft store for items necessary for a pending project, the pet
store for fish food and new aquarium filters - had combined to
drain the last remnants of patience and energy from Inspector
Margaret Thatcher. She was never more relieved than when she
managed to accomplish, her arms loaded down with shopping bags,
the simple act of inserting the key and unlocking her apartment
With one foot, Meg kicked the door shut behind her. She made
her way toward the table that sat in what served as the dining
area, and unloaded her wares. In an instant the fashionable pumps
were kicked off, left lying where they fell as she abandoned
the normal routine of depositing them in their assigned place
along the shoe rack in her bedroom closet. The jacket of her
conservative business suit soon followed, hanging half-on, half-off
the arm of the chair where she discarded it. Not daring to pause
for a break, Meg set to putting away the perishables from the
grocery, and then the other items. She changed the filters in
her aquarium and fed the fish.
Responsibilities completed, Meg finally began to consider
a moment of respite. A glance at the clock revealed it was already
half past seven, and she groaned inwardly. The thought occurred
that she should have picked up something to eat from the deli
when she had been at the grocery. Though hungry, Meg did not
feel at all like putting forth the effort to prepare something
to eat, even if it was nothing more than one of those simple
microwaveable meals she kept in the freezer for just such occasions.
But, she had bought some of those fruit breakfast bars she liked
so well, and that would suffice for now.
Munching on the strawberry flavored bar, Meg decided she might
as well gather up her shoes and clothes. Once in the bedroom,
it seemed a good idea to change into something more comfortable
altogether. The well-worn, cozy fleece pant and top set were
a welcome relief. Gazing in the mirror, Meg smiled and ran her
hand over the familiar logo and lettering, long since faded.
The Regina Rascals had been the name of the local softball team
she had played on during her RCMP training. Every time she donned
the old sweats, she could not help but recall all the good memories
of that time. It was probably this, plus the fact that they were
just so comfortable, that prevented her from throwing out the
near threadbare rags.
Changed, and having placed her suit among the pile of other
clothes to be taken to the cleaners next week, Meg opted to go
ahead and finish some of the ritual normally reserved for just
prior to going to bed. She brushed her teeth, removed her eye
makeup, and washed her face. That finished, she considered what
to do next. She was tired, but not sleepy, and knew if she went
to bed this early she would only toss and turn. The idea of that
new book crossed her mind, but Meg had promised herself she would
save it until tomorrow, a special Saturday, lie about the house
and do nothing but read, treat. She was just about to rummage
about in the kitchen for something else to eat when the realization
dawned on her.
She was stalling.
With a resigned sigh, Meg strode into the dining area. The
bag from the craft store still sat where it had been hastily
dumped. It's not going to go away, so I might as well get started
on this, Meg thought silently, as she opened the bag and began
to systematically arrange the contents on the table. Then she
went back into the bedroom, where she retrieved a plain, rectangular
box. Gathering the few other supplies she might need, scissors,
glue and tape, a pen, Meg finally settled in at the table.
It certainly was not the first time Margaret Thatcher had
tackled a project of this kind. Though very few were aware of
it, the Inspector had a streak of sentimentality about her. Keeping
scrapbooks and preserving memorabilia had been a regular occurrence,
even since early childhood. But this time, the memento had distinct
meaning. She wanted to do this one in an extra special manner.
Having distinct meaning did not, however, preclude the fact
that this entire undertaking was also a bit troubling, and Meg
was bombarded with all the emotions she had been so pointedly
attempting to avoid when she removed the lid of the box.
Inside, in all their simplicity, were several dead and dried
flowers. She looked at them for a long while, merely staring
as the minutes ticked by. It was a bit amazing that in this state
they still held the same vibrant color as when she had first
received them; a lovely collection of white, yellow, and pink
daisies. Such a plain flower, and yet they had a delicate beauty
all their own. Not for the first time, Meg wondered why he had
chosen these in particular. And, as usual, this thought was immediately
followed by the sound of that familiar, inner voice, saying "maybe
I don't really want to know." She had kept the flowers,
in her apartment, and when they had died, she simply could not
bring herself to throw them away. And so she had dried them,
stored them in this box, and eventually decided upon this means
of preserving them. Meg took a deep breath, and set to her task.
Based on previous experience, she expected the process to
be in some way helpful; hopefully, even cathartic. Even as Meg
began to carefully remove each flower from the box, all the thoughts
she had been fighting for days finally began to flow and situate
themselves in her mind.
They had been vigilantly avoiding one another for a little
over a week now. Oh, it was never anything obvious. In this tangled
little plot they continually weaved, things, it seemed, were
never allowed the freedom of simply being obvious. So it was
an averted look here, a ducking into the next room there. Meg
had not been able to overlook the fact that she had been delegating
more of the regular workload to Constable Turnbull this past
week. But then again, her mind reasoned, that was partially due
to the fact that she had also been unable to overlook the fact
that Constable Fraser had spent more time than usual at the District
27 Police Department station this past week.
A sigh escaped her lips as Meg worked with the delicate flowers.
Her mind could reason all it wanted, but the truth was the truth.
Fraser had been purposefully making himself scarce, and she was
as resentful of that as she was relieved. But what was he supposed
to do, that small voice asked, inside her head. A silent, but
heavily ironic laugh answered in reply. If Meg had not been able
to figure out what she was supposed to do, how in the name of
all sanity was she supposed to figure out what Fraser was supposed
The passing of days had done little to dull the emotion of
the incident. The images played through her mind now, as they
had countless times before, with the same lucid clarity, as if
it were all happening again this very moment. There had been
the customary, polite knock, interrupting her work on one of
the many reports she had to finish, and she had ushered him in
with her usual blunt formality. How long had he stood there?
She was not sure, as she had been paying only half attention,
and could now only remember the way he continually cleared his
throat. This was his indication of some sense of nervousness,
or at best, hesitant uncertainty. Still dividing her attention
between him and the report, she had urged him to just spit it
out with a curt "What is it, Fraser?"
A few times she had glanced up in his direction, some semblance
of an acknowledgment that she was listening. It was during one
of these obligatory glances that she noticed he was holding a
bouquet of freshly cut flowers. This intrigued her, and she found
herself giving full attention. The rambling that followed was
something Meg had come to recognize all to well. It was that
overly detailed, and seemingly disjointed manner in which Fraser
always explained things. Most times it did little more than drive
her crazy, and she was in no particular mood now to play the
game of trying to make sense of it all. She jumped in during
one of his pauses and asked if there was a point to this.
The Mountie continued, saying something about taking things
incrementally. Then there was some nonsense about talking, which
he said they had already done - whatever that meant, Meg thought
- so they could move to the next increment, dancing perhaps.
Dancing? Meg was thoroughly confused now, and was just about
to interrupt him a second time and fairly order him to get to
the point, when he said something about his parents, and how
they had danced without music. It was then that her brain finally
made the connection.
Meg never would have imagined that a human being was capable
of feeling so many emotions in one instance. And only now, several
days later, was she allowing herself the opportunity to fully
analyze what she had felt. Embarrassment, naturally, seemed to
be the foremost. Oh dear heavens, could she have been that obtuse
in her discussion about the matter? Surely she would have initially
mentioned her intentions were of adoption. But as Meg had racked
her brain afterwards, she just could not be certain. Of course,
the inner voice chimed in again, your thoughts weren't exactly
in their usual state of cohesiveness that day anyway. No, Meg
mused, one did not get to ask when one's biological clock would
go off, and the entire concept had hit her a bit by surprise.
The almost indescribable sense of longing for a child was not
like anything she had ever known before, and it had been terribly
unnerving to realize how much those feelings kept maneuvering
into her otherwise rational frame of mind. She paused, but the
inner voice would not remain silent. Yes, it was entirely possible
that she had not stated her intentions clearly from the beginning.
"No wonder he behaved so oddly," Meg said aloud
to herself, thinking of the conversation in the taxi on their
way to the police station. Embarrassment washed over her anew,
and she suddenly felt very weary.
Then again, what if she had mentioned adoption from the onset?
That would imply that Fraser had made the misunderstanding fully
on his own. Meg's brain did not have to run very far with that
one. She may have only known him for a little over a year, and
some things may have happened between them, but she knew he would
not have done that. His sense of honor would not allow it. No,
if he had come to misunderstand her, it was most likely because
she had said something to indicate-- The longer Meg contemplated
this situation, the worse she was beginning to feel. Just what
did I say during that conversation, she wondered.
Well, there was little could be done for it now. The misunderstanding
had been made, and now it was time to dive in and look at all
the implications. Remembering the scene again, she saw in her
mind's eye Fraser standing there, a multitude of feelings playing
across his own face. She recalled that awful feeling in the pit
of her stomach, and simply wanting to be anywhere but standing
there, sharing his embarrassment as well. In some ways, that
had been the worst part; the realization of everything Fraser
must have been feeling. When he had asked to be dismissed, their
eyes met for a moment, in one flash of great honesty. Meg could
not forget that look had she wanted to. Certainly she had seen
pain there, a pain so strong it cut through to her very soul.
All she had wanted was to take him in her arms and somehow make
everything alright again, but instead she had been brave (or
was it an act of cowardice, the inner voice mocked) and merely
replied, "if you wish."
Then there had been those agonizing moments afterwards. Once
Fraser left, and Meg had gotten through the initial shock and
embarrassment of everything, emotions of quite a different nature
had registered. She had to admit that a part of her had been
extremely flattered, and even sincerely touched. At the time,
of course, her mind had briefly skirted toward the full ramification
of what this misunderstanding implied. It had just as quickly
retreated from such thoughts, but even so, the realization had
been enough to thoroughly rattle her. Meg did not know how long
she stood there, just holding those flowers, but eventually it
became too much for her. She had barely managed to grab her things
and get to the car before the tears began.
She had cried all the way home. She refused to think about
it, or analyze it in any way. She simply cried, and hoped when
the tears ceased, everything would be fine. By the time she had
gotten home, the tears had stopped, and Meg subconsciously decided
to leave it at that. The flowers were put in a vase with water,
and the week went on. Now Meg sat looking at those same flowers,
dried and preserved in a simple shadow box with a glass cover,
the date marked in fine script lettering in one corner on the
back. All that was left now was to clean up. She sighed heavily.
If only life could be as simple as her scrapbook and craft projects.
Her job with the flowers completed, Meg had ceased to focus
her thoughts. Now, as she cleaned up, her mind wandered. For
the most part, she just felt numb. But as she discarded the last
bits of trash, and closed the trash compactor door, a new comprehension
hit her square and full force. Meg fell to the floor in a slump,
pulled her knees up tight to her chest, and let the tears fall
freely. While her mind had known it, she had never fully acknowledged
until just now the blatantly obvious. The inner voice had finally
spoken it. Benton Fraser had been offering to father a child
- her child. The tears continued to stream. She did not sob,
but Meg's shoulders shook with the intensity of her feelings.
He had stood right there, in front of her desk, bearing flowers
and telling her that he was, more or less, accepting her proposal.
His only request had been that they take things slowly. Fraser
had misunderstood, and considering all the implications, had
still accepted the responsibility she was offering. Meg's emotional
sense reeled with the weight of it.
A hundred thoughts seemed to be running through her mind at
once. What might this experience have been like, this being courted
by the man of her dreams? Even as her mind ran wild with speculation,
Meg knew now that the misunderstanding had been compounded. For
while she may not have recalled mentioning adoption from the
beginning, Meg was absolutely certain that any mention of a committed
relationship had never been made. The thought pained her greatly.
Adopting and raising a child, as a single mother, was one thing.
But to ask another man to be the one to share with you the joy,
the wonder of actually conceiving a child - that was one responsibility
Meg had decided a long time ago she would ask of only one man,
her husband. Heaven help me, her mind pleaded, did he intend
to take it that far? Did she even dare hope that the relationship
would lead to something, that he might one day ask her to marry
And as the inner voice spoke her heart, it was in this moment
that Meg realized she loved him, truly loved him.
When she finally picked herself up from the kitchen floor,
it was well past ten. Exhausted, Meg trudged to her bedroom.
Somehow, she managed to change into a silk nightshirt and climb
between the sheets. But sleep came in fitful spurts, and plagued
her with images even then. At a quarter of one, she finally sat
up and turned on the bedside light. It being a three-way lamp,
she stopped after the first turn of the switch, wanting only
a soft glow, something to push away the darkness. She knew what
she had to do, and before she could argue with herself against
it, Meg picked up the phone.
It was answered before the second ring. The "Hello?"
that came through her receiver was tired, but was not groggy,
with no hint of sleepiness. Meg opened her mouth to speak, but
all words seemed to fail her. A second, more alert and concerned
"Hello?" came, and she finally managed a response.
"Fraser, it's Inspector Thatcher." Meg was surprised
at the steadiness of her own voice.
There was a short pause, full of unspoken meaning. "Is
everything alright, Sir?"
"Yes, Fraser, I'm fine," she paused herself. Well,
that was fairly much a lie. "That is, I'm not fine, but
I'm alright." Now she wasn't making any sense. "That
is" Well, so much for steadiness of voice, Meg thought,
as she faltered and fell silent.
"Fraser, please," she interrupted, and before she
could falter a second time, plunged ahead. "I'm not calling
as your superior officer."
There was an even longer pause this time, and as Meg clutched
the phone she could swear she heard his soft, measured breathing.
She pulled the covers up a little, a gesture of some sense of
added security. When the silence became too much, she finally
forced his hand.
"We need to talk."
A sigh from the other side, and Meg thought she heard relief
as well as resignation.
"Yes, I believe we do. Shall I meet you somewhere?"
Meg had to admit she had not counted on this. Well, she thought,
when one does a slightly impulsive act, you get a lot you don't
count on. "If it's all the same, could we perhaps just give
this a try over the phone... for now?"
Another pause before the response came. "Alright."
Meg knew it was up to her now. Still, she could take a moment
for courtesy. "I apologize for calling at this late hour,
The Mountie's voice was equally polite, but his words more
direct. "No need to apologize. It's obvious that neither
of us were sleeping very well tonight."
Meg frowned slightly. Yes, she had assumed that Fraser had
been dealing with his own thoughts over this matter, but having
him remind her of it did not make her feel any better about it.
Still, this was why she had called. A week's worth of playing
games was more than time enough.
"I'm sorry that we had such a" oh, why make
it any worse by trying to find appropriate adjectives, her mind
berated. "I'm sorry we had a misunderstanding, Fraser. I
feel that I am very much to blame, having not made myself clear
regarding my intentions from the beginning."
"Well, I don't really feel that an apology is necessary,
at least not from you. It was entirely my fault for the misunderstanding.
I should never have jumped to such inappropriate conclusions,
and I am truly sorry."
Meg fought the urge to sigh. Even now, that irritating, unwavering
sense of honor was showing itself, and she knew Fraser would
not let her take the credit for this one. Of course, it would
not be half so frustrating if his honor were not so totally genuine.
Or, she knew, if it were not one of the many things she loved
about him. "I don't think we're going to reach an agreement
on this one. Perhaps we should agree to simply let the blame
fall where we each think it lies, and accept mutual forgiveness
on the matter."
There was the sound of an intake of breath, and for a heartbeat
Meg was sure he would argue the point with her. If they could
not get beyond this, then how were they ever going to deal with
the rest of it?
"I believe that is a wise decision," Fraser finally
replied. "Agreed, and accepted."
A silence fell then, and Meg suddenly grew tense. Where was
she going to go next with this? Of course, a part of her wanted
to just cut right to the chase and admit all her feelings once
and for all. But she knew that was impossible. It was too much,
too soon, and she would not be that foolish, no matter how her
heart felt. The silence was growing uncomfortable, at least on
her end of the phone, and she wished now that maybe she had not
called at all.
Fraser's voice, soft and warm, broke into her torment. "And
now we're both wondering,... what happens now."
"Yes." Her voice came out almost in a sob, both
of relief and of frustration.
Fraser caught himself, and there was another pause. For one
wild moment, Meg wondered if he would actually call her by name.
Her breath caught in her throat at that, and she was sure her
heart stopped beating. She did not know whether to pray that
he would, or that he would not.
"There's no delicate way around this," Fraser said
at last. "Perhaps the most we can do is simply to acknowledge
the misunderstanding was made, and that it was just that - a
misunderstanding - and then try to get on with things as best
One part of her mind screamed that this was totally ludicrous.
She wanted to say, but you offered to father my child, Ben. She
wanted to say that, misunderstandings aside, it was not an altogether
undesirable prospect. She wanted to say that she loved him more
than she had ever known she could love anyone and she didn't
care anymore, just so long as he knew. At the very least, she
wanted to admit that she could not do this, could not get
on with things'. Things were never going to be the same again.
But all she said was, "yes."
It was quiet on the other end again, and Meg dared to hope
for a moment that Fraser might be experiencing his own little
torment of conflicting emotions. But she pushed the thought aside,
and cursed her own weakness. Why should she expect something
in return, when she could not admit her own feelings? As the
tears began to silently flow, Meg offered what little she could.
"Ben, I'm sorry."
"For what?" The entreaty was tender, but genuinely
Meg struggled to keep her voice even. "I I just
want you to know I'm sorry, that's all."
Time passed, quiet, waiting.
"Are you sure everything is alright?" Fraser asked.
She bit back the tears, and somehow regained her composure.
"Yes. Everything is fine. Thank you for speaking with me,
"It's quite alright. I needed this as well," he
It was a time for goodbyes, she knew, but the silence hung
between them anyway.
"I just want you to know to understand, that if
you still should consider adoption, I'm here to help, in any
way I can."
The offer was so sincere, the voice so gentle and precious
- somehow, Meg maintained her control. "Thank you. That
means a great deal to--" she broke off, afraid any more
words might reveal too much.
"Try to get some rest," Fraser encouraged softly.
"Only on the condition that you do the same, Constable."
It was the most formal way of addressing him, Meg knew, but she
altered her tone, and tried to say it in a way that spoke of
something more. Perhaps, she thought, it worked, because when
he responded, there was a lightness to his voice that had not
been there before.
"Understood," Fraser replied.
And she could even hear him smile.
As she held the receiver tight, waiting for the sound of the
disconnection from his end, Meg realized that despite the fact
she was still drained, as if her very spirit ached, she somehow
felt better about the entire ordeal And now, finally, the inner
voice was quiet; except for the barest of whispers, echoing a
hope that perhaps, just perhaps, that most secret desire of her
heart was not for naught after all. Maybe it was only her imagination,
the wisp of something caught in that veiled place between sleep
and dreaming, but she slept peaceful that night; content, even
if but for the moment.