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Reaching Chicago, JD stopped in the Magnificent Mile. He didnt have much choice, the engine was overheating and he needed some water. People passed by on the sidewalk like he wasnt there, just like New York. Everyone was busy. Settling in to people watch as the engine cooled, he was fascinated by the way people went about ignoring one another. Two old men strode purposefully towards each other from opposite ends of the block. A mother was trying to hush her agitated toddler. Walking around the people as if they werent even there, a businessman had a briefcase in one hand and a cell phone in the other, clamped to his ear.
One couple caught his attention, a dark haired white man in a leather bomber jacket and a beautiful African American lady with a dog. After a moments watching JD realized that the lady was blind and that the German Shepherd beside her was a Seeing Eye dog. They were concentrating on a folded newspaper. JD watched as the man put the folded up paper in his back pocket and started off down the sidewalk. The paper slipped out, and JD went and grabbed it.
Mister, Hey Mister! He chased the man in the leather jacket. The couple stopped and JD rushed up with the paper.
Thanks, kid! the man said in relief. Losing the paper was a terror in his job. Looking down at the paper and quickly up again, he looked at JD in worry. The kid seemed unaware that the paper had just changed and was busily complementing Marissa and her dog. A newly formed article had a picture of the kid in front of him with the headline Former NYPD officer killed by old fashioned Duel. Gently interrupting, he looked JD in the eye. My name is Gary Hobson, this is Marissa Clark and her dog, Spike. Listen, can I ask you for a favor? Ive got to run an errand and Marissa needs to get back to our bar, McGintys. Would you mind walking her? Lately the drivers have been picking on pedestrians and I dont want her to be hit. Gary ignored Marissas look. He put all of his ability at pleading into the request of the young man. Astoundingly, it worked. JD offered to walk Marissa to McGintys and Gary told him that hed get some water for the motorcycle after hed finished his errands.
As they walked off towards the bar, Gary turned and found himself face to face with a man in a grey overcoat cradling a very familiar orange and white cat. The cat was purring loudly under the mans stroking hand.
Thank you, Mr. Hobson, the Major said gently handing him the cat. He continued petting the purring creature for a moment or two. I think the two men over there are the ones intending the dust up. Gary turned and saw two old men with guns preparing to fight a duel. Grinning, The Major asked, Shall we break it up, do you think?
Turning down Gary and Marissas invitation to stay the night, JD tried to continue on his journey, but the motorcycle didnt want to co-operate. Great plumes of black smoke trailed from the bikes exhaust, making JD cough and obscuring his vision. The engine sputtered and chugged.
Im never going to get out of Chicago! JD exclaimed in disgust. He pulled into the curb. Kneeling down he began to investigate why the bike was malfunctioning. Something brown caught his attention and he looked up to see an Asian man in a funny uniform with a red coat standing at attention on the sidewalk. The man looked like a strange kind of Boy Scout with heavy leather boots and those funny kind of puffy riding pants. Add the Smokey the bear hat and the man was a strange sight.
Behind the man was a small Victorian mansion. JD could see brass plaques bolted onto the fence. Consulate of Canada, Consulat du Canada It read. A flagpole in the manicured garden flew the Maple leaf flag. The house had seen better days, JD could tell. It looked as if theyd had a fire at some point, the soot streaked window ledges showed. Three men were in the front yard maneuvering a large piece of glass over a hedge and into place. From the look of them theyd been at it all day. Tools lay in profusion all over the yard, and glass panes and fragments lay neatly on drop cloths.
Having some difficulty with your motor bike? a soft voice said from beside him, making JD jump. He turned around to find another Mountie, this one in the same fancy uniform, but loaded down with plastic shopping bags. JD snapped his mouth shut with a click. Hed never heard the man sneak up on him.
Yes, actually. It never occurred to JD to be anything other than truthful. The Mountie gave him a concerned glance. Setting down his shopping bags, he gave the engine a cursory look.
Doesnt look right. The Mountie frowned. Why dont you come into the yard and relax for a moment or two? One of our Constables is a real genus when it comes to machines. When hes finished with what hes doing now, well let him have a look, shall we? He held out an immaculate hand to JD and helped him up.
I dont want to be a bother, JD said, manners beginning to overcome the shock.
No bother. Actually its a bit of a favor. Hes greatly in need of distractions to keep him occupied, and Harry is about at the end of his tether trying to find him something to do. Noting JDs puzzled look, he continued. Believe me, once youve met him youll understand. Hes great with engines...and paperwork, but not much else.
Thanks, JD said uncertain of what to say.
Im Corporal Robert Franklyn, the Mountie said. Come on in, I have the lads lunches here, and I dont dare keep them any longer from food. He gave a theatrical shudder. JD found himself grinning in response.
The Mountie wasnt much older than JD, probably in his late twenties, but he had an infectious charm. He led JD onto the grounds of the Consulate with a merry Welcome to Canada, in English and in French. With a wink, he set the bags on a table that looked very temporary as opposed to the strong heavy structures in the yard.
Lads. He turned to the men whod finally gotten the big window into place. Lunch One of the men, a sandy blond with a quizzical expression made a gesture to Corporal Franklyn. Ah well, I must answer to the man in charge. Grinning merrily at JDs attempts to excuse himself, or apologize for causing a problem, he added. Never worry about it. Harrys not angry, he just looks like a dyspeptic bear. Always has. With that he wandered over to the other men. The Mountie whod been standing guard joined them.
The other men moved over to the table. They started looking through the bags and passing containers back and forth.
Hello, One said to JD. Im Constable Woodley. This is Mr. Parker, hes a secretary, Woodley confided. And Constable Aoki. He held out a hand, red from cleaning off the paste used to set the window.
Im JD Dunne. I had a problem with my bike. JD turned uncertainly towards the men. I didnt mean to create a problem.
The men laughed. No problems. The Senior really does look like a bear with a stomachache, but hes a nice enough sort. Not like the last one, Woodley sighed at Parker. It seems like this posting gets all the odd ones, doesnt it.
Best believe that, Parker agreed with a smirk, though Aoki glared at them. I think the place is cursed if you ask me. Weve had five rotations of staff in the last couple of months. He handed JD one of the cans of soda. Eat up, Mr Dunne. Youre the most excitement weve had since the boy took charge. JD realized that all three men were much older than the other two Mounties.
Did you have a fire? JD looked around, the evidence of burning was much greater the closer you got to the building.
That imbecile Applegate set the place ablaze, Yes. That was last year, Parker replied handing JD one of the Styrofoam containers. Eat. Franklyn always brings too much and Im not in the mood for Chinese two days running.
I like Chinese, aoki said with a nod at JD. Hes right. You should eat. Franklyn always orders too much. He worries about how were eating. Because of Braintree I guess. At JDs blank look he explained. Braintree was anorexic. Nearly died on us. Franklyn stayed with him when he collapsed, rode in the ambulance. Not an experience that he wishes to repeat.
And, because Franklyn is a mother hen. He worries. When it comes to our diet, hes a real nosy Parker, Woodley threw out and grinned as he blocked Parkers light punch.
Eat. Theres more than we can get through. Eat, Parker ordered JD.
JD thanked the men and turned his attention to the windows. Through them he could see another Mountie seated at a desk answering the phones.
Hes an odd duck, but a good one, Woodley said following his gaze. Just keep him busy and headed in the right way. When were cleaned up a little out here, Ill go in and fetch him. Wont leave his duty station. Id take some in but he wont eat inside, bless him. Doesnt want to spoil whats left of the carpets. The kitchen is totally destroyed, but he wont eat inside.
There isnt much of an inside left, Parker laughed. Old Applegate burned the place down. Weve had to operate out of borrowed quarters and in the yard for the last year. At least we have a full roof again. That was last weeks project. I never dreamed that my time in diplomatic service would be building a Consulate, literally. He gave JD a grin. Something for the memoirs, though. Built a Consulate in America. Not too many people can say that.
Youve always been one for the politics, Parker, Woodley teased gently. It was obvious that the two were friends. Aoki just looked at them both as if they were slightly crazy.
No, Ill leave that to him, Parker gestured with his chin at the Mountie still inside. He tried for office. Got the sympathy vote. At JDs confused look he added. His campaign coach ran him down.
Seriously? JD gasped.
Yes, broke his leg. Ended up in hospital for so long that his opponent was given the job, because he couldnt do it. Hes a bit manic that one, but hes a good one. Came straightway back to the Force after. Guess he couldnt handle being out in the world.
No, hes not incompetent, Woodley said before JD could ask. When it comes to the paperwork that keeps the Nation and the Force running, hes brilliant. Not bad with etiquette either, but really this is the only place for someone like him. Hes doing a great job, and hed be lost elsewhere.
Corporal Franklyn and the sandy haired man joined them. As Franklyn said, the man looked like a sick bear, but he spoke with a voice filled with good humor.
So your motor bike broke down? he asked JD as Franklyn handed him his own lunch. JD explained the circumstances that had led him to the Consulate.
Relaxing in the shade with the Mounties, JD wondered what he should do. The other Mountie was the one with the mechanical skills and he wouldnt be off of his duty until much later. Franklyn had tried to coax the man out, but the Constable wouldnt be budged.
Dont worry. Hell have it all fixed up. He enjoys the work, but hes frighteningly dedicated to his job. I havent been able to break him of it, the senior Mountie said. He was about the same age as Franklyn and was named Harry Allingham. Also a Corporal. JD got the idea the Canadian Government was unwilling to place too highly ranked a liaison here. All afternoon the men had recounted horror stories about the people who had served here in the past couple of years.
The last time this place ran well was 95.Allingham said. But then again you had Moffat before that and he was a traitor.
At JDs wide-eyed glance, Franklyn explained. Moffat pretended to be incompetent, but in reality he was selling secrets like your Aldrich Ames. His stupid act fooled a great many people.
It didnt help that his niece was a crazed serial killer, Parker said seriously. French liberation group. Terrorists. Cant be bothered with changing things by honest voting. No, theyve got to go around murdering women and children with bombs and Slaughtering Mounties and La Surete for the crime of investigating them. Batards. Parker is from Montreal. And hes French, in spite of the English surname, Franklyn explained with a smile that turned into a grimace. All but the most extreme edge of the separatist movement has denounced St.Germains actions, but the group doesnt seem to stop coming. They rob banks and currency exchanges all across the country for money to finance their goals. They arent even truly political. Moffats niece killed a Mountie and his family just for amusement. Just butchered them.
They just seem to kill for the fun of it, Allingham added. They tie the victim up in emotional tangles. The Mountie she murdered was trying to help her escape from an abusive boyfriend. He and his wife took her in and she killed the wife and the little baby and slashed the Mounties throat. His poor partner had to watch helplessly as he drowned in his own blood. The Ambulances couldnt get there in time.
Shes destroyed dozens of lives with similar scams, Franklyn added sadly. People try to help her and end up dead. But shes always the poor innocent. I wish that we could put her away, but no one seems able to catch her.
The St. Germain group has help high up, Parker declared. You know that they must. There is no way that they could keep giving the Force the slip like that. Not with Special Branch chasing them. CSIS too.
Special Branch? CSIS? JD was confused.
Special Branch is a lot like your FBI. The Force is both the Local police and the National police. Rather like being your NYPD and your FBI at the same time. We have contracts with all of the Provinces and Territories except Quebec and Ontario. Ontario is where the capital is, Ottawa, and they have their own local police, the Ontario Provincial Police Force. Quebec is policed by La Surete de Quebec. But thats the Local Police. The National Police Force is the R.C.M.P. and its the senior bureaus like Special Branch operate a lot like your Federal Agencies. Its confusing, If you arent used to it, I guess, Woodley explained.
CSIS is like your CIA, Parker added. Sometimes they get to be a bit much. Some of the best of the Force end up in their activities and they never come home right.
Parker remembers the liaison who got tapped for CSIS. What was her name?
Thatcher, Parker said. Fine Officer. Damn Shame.
Didnt she do well? JD asked trying to follow the conversation.
Too well. Got too much attention. Came home and they got her husband involved with something, Cross border because shed been liaison here. Got killed. All of them.
In an attempt to move away from the more morbid discussions, Franklyn invited JD to that evenings ball game. The Chicago Cubs were playing the Yankees. The Consulate had tickets but Parker and Woodley didnt enjoy baseball, Aoki preferred basketball, and they couldnt budge the other Constable with a blowtorch.
It took a little arm twisting, but JD agreed to go to the ball game. He was getting a little worried about his time, but there was little chance that the strange Constable would have the bike fixed by morning.
Allingham said that he could sleep in the Consulate tonight, saving him the expense of a room. The other Mounties would have been glad to share accommodations with him, but they were all stuffed into one motel room as it was. Theyd been forced to give up the accommodations that the previous staff had had because of a change of ownership. Now they were staying at Motel 6 until the Consulate was repaired or they found something better. Since nothing of any importance was being stored at the Consulate during repairs there was no Security risk to Canada from JD staying there. And hed be okay now that the roof and the windows were back in place.
The ball game had been a welcome change from the road. JD realized that he was indebted to the Mounties, yet again. Hed never have been able to afford the seats that they had. Franklyn and Allingham had attempted to assure him that the tickets would just have gone to waste, but JD still felt that there was something that he should do in return. Theyd had a merry dinner out at a local Italian restaurant as well, Franklyn and Allingham unwilling to let him go hungry. How hed ever pay back these kindnesses was beyond JD.
At his return to the Consulate, Allingham had tried to introduce him to the other Mountie, a tall gangly man with a vague expression on his face. JD had noticed the gaze sharpen in a matter diametrically opposed to the Mounties bumbling behavior. Trying to shake off the feeling that he was being measured for some reason, JD gave his thanks and went into one of the few rooms that was inhabitable.
As his young charge slept, the Major slipped silently down stairs.
Good evening, Sir, the gangly Mountie said. Im just finishing my evening chores. He nodded at the Major. Hes fortunate, that one, to have your protection.
Yes, I suppose.., the Major paused. Is there anything I can do for you? he asked gently.
No Sir, came the expected reply. There will be visitors later. I need to be ready. The living man saluted the dead one and with a nod returned to his work. He straightened himself up and tried to look as if he wasnt as exhausted as he was.
JD wasnt sure what woke him, but he had a growing sensation of trouble. He listened carefully to the sounds the old house made. There was something going on. Slowly he raised himself out of his tangle of blankets. Frowning, he realized that he was hearing noises. Someone was breaking into the Consulate!
Grabbing his gun, which the Mounties had allowed him to keep as a fellow Law Enforcement officer, JD made his way softly down the hall to where the sounds were coming from.
A light was on in the larger downstairs room, and JD could see
the odd Mountie. He almost sighed with relief, but was immediately worried when he saw that the man was not alone. Two older men in dark ill-fitting suits were in the room with him.
Unsure of what to do, JD moved to a position where he could hear the men better.
Thats the problem, the Mountie said, rubbing a hand over a tired face. We can count at least twenty positions where the smugglers are bringing in drugs and other contraband, but we cant get a lead on these men. Its almost like theyve vanished.
Easy Ren, youve been working yourself into the ground, one of the men said in purely American tones. We arent going to solve all cross border crime in an instant.
Unfortunately, I doubt that we ever will do so. However. Not finding these men is more serious. Contraband can be dealt with, and Heaven knows there are enough drugs out there to make the point of worrying moot, but these men. They are out for a political agenda and will not stop until theyve made their presence known. The Mountie leaned against the table. I am very concerned at the lack of worry given to such matters by both our governments. We are all there is right now to track a dozen different terrorist cells with a dozen different motivations. Theyve all been far too quiet. Were missing something here.
All we can do is hang on... Whatever the man had been going to say was cut off. He looked at his partner and suddenly they rushed into the hallway, the Mountie a pace behind them.
Who the Hell are you? one of them demanded.
Easy, easy. This is the houseguest I was telling you about. The Mountie walked over to JD who had put his gun down and was looking at them with fear.
Why is he wandering around in the dark waving a gun? the other asked his own weapon pointed at JDs head.
Because hes a former officer of the NYPD on his way to Denver to become a Federal Agent. Which he will not be able to do if you shoot him, Charles. The Mountie pushed the gun down gently. Ive checked him out. Hes exactly what he appears to be.
Why did you let him keep his gun? the other man reiterated. I thought you boys were anti-gun up in the Great White North.
Professional Courtesy, one Policeman to another...Though that doesnt explain why you were wandering around in the dark, Mr. Dunne. Raising an eyebrow, the Mountie gave JD a look that reminded him of old Mrs. Leviwitcz.
I though someone was trying to break in. JD gulped wondering what hed gotten himself into. I didnt want them to rob the place. The Mounties have been real nice to me. I was worried.
Oh for Hells sake, Charles began.
Say for Heavens sake if you must, Charles. I dont care much for helping Hell, the Mountie said with just enough of a twist to see that he was amused by the situation. Mr. Dunne, why dont you get up and come into the study. We need to talk about your unfortunate trait of eavesdropping.
I didnt mean to, I just wanted to know if you were alright. I mean two A.M. is pretty late for a meeting. JD was dragged to his feet by the two men. Charles was glaring at him and the other man had a very tight grip on his arm.
We were incompletely introduced earlier, Mr. Dunne. I am Renfield Turnbull, the Mountie said. This meeting did not happen. If anything you had a bad dream in the night, or if youd rather, passed a dreamless evening in your blankets. For obvious reasons this did not happen. Do you understand, Mr. Dunne? The bumbling Mountie that hed met earlier was gone as if hed never been, replaced by a man of stone and steel.
I understand. I wont tell anyone, JD said.
Damn straight, the other man said. You said he was going to be a Federal Agent, Ren?
Yes, Philip. Hes on his way to Denver to apply for a position with Larabee.
Larabee? Charles asked. Any Relation to the General?
His eldest, I believe. Christopher. Former Navy SEAL, Turnbull replied, sitting down with his back ramrod straight.
Damn, That Larabee? Alright. See here Dunne, Charles said angrily. This is a Federal matter. If you want to be an Agent, youd better learn that Secrets are part of the deal. You are now aware of things that you shouldnt be, Kid. I think that you should just forget that you ran into us, just like Ren said. Got it, Kid? Im going to be checking up on you to see that you do, he hissed the last threat coldly.
I wont tell. I promise, JD said, wondering again what hed stumbled into.
You said his bike is broken down? Charles asked the Mountie.
Yes. It needs some serious repair. Turnbull cocked his head at the other man. Why?
I know that you checked him out, but I want to do a little checking myself. Let this repair take a day or so. Charles frowned at JD.
But by then Ill be behind! I wont get to Denver in time. Ill miss my chance, JD blurted out appalled at the possibilities.
Larabee, you said? Philip asked. JD nodded, tightly resolute. He wasnt going to let his dream fade without a fight. Thats the RMETF. Theyre still hiring. He know youre coming? No, JD was forced to admit.
I didnt think so. Ive met Larabee a couple of times. Hes a straight shooter. Scary man. Philip scratched his chin as he considered it. I think hes still down in Kansas City on that damn Simpson case. Drug pipeline. Cleaning up a mess of it, but some bad cops though. They arent going to be back in Denver for a while. Nobody thought it was important, except him and now hes blown the hell out of one of the largest distribution networks in the States....Wish he was ours.
Do you? Turnbull asked in amusement. His wide grin indicated that he found that idea very humorous.
No you dont. Hes hell to deal with, Charles laughed. Hes That Larabee. Remember Senator Redds little pack of Military people?
Pack? Philip asked in concern and some fear.
No not like that, just a regular pack of hard cases. Remember the SEALs? Larabee and that buddy of his blew a couple of CIAs Ops to hell and gone cause they were the wrong thing to do! Hes a maverick and you never know what hes going to do. A RMETF. Damn. That lunatic is too Dangerous to be running loose!
Gentlemen. Be that as it may. Turnbull took control of the conversation. I believe that Mr. Dunnes problems are not so easily swept aside. His need to interview for the position is most strong. Ive spoken to his Commanding Officer in New York and he is full of praises for the young man. Everyone else I have spoken to seems to be of the same mind. Hell do well if Larabee will give him a chance. Keeping him here may endanger that chance.
Its just a day, Ren. Larabees pretty canny about who gets to run with his gang. I remember that from some of the stunts the Senator pulled them out of. If hes any good, hes still got his chance.
Oh hes better than good if his record is to be believed, Turnbull laughed. Larabee will be damn lucky if he takes him on. However, his last commander gave me a couple of warnings. One was that he is incredibly curious and is liable to poke at a situation he doesnt understand until he does. I do not believe that such activity would pass without notice. For that reason, I wish to be very clear and not mysterious at all. We have enough difficulty keeping this duty under the ivy bush as it were, Mr. Dunne. Here the Mountie smiled slightly. I have no doubt that you could easily uncover the entirety of this command with very little actual effort. Your Captain Meredith said that you were one of the quickest at catching connections that hed ever seen. Therefore I wish to explain so that we do not have any loose ends here.
I wouldnt.., JD started in concern, but Turnbull stopped him with a wave of a hand.
You wouldnt intend to, but after a while it would get to you. Im very familiar with your personality type, Mr. Dunne. Its one of the things that will make you a great Federal Agent, if you let it. However, for us its a liability. He smiled gently at JD who was starting to panic. The two gentlemen with me are Federal Agents of your National Security Agency, Phillip Monson and Charles Tusswell. Our operation here is part of the Cross border matrix for defense. I do not know if you are aware of it, but the United States and Canada share the worlds largest undefended border. At least by military personnel. We are that defense, the Federal Agencies and the R.C.M.P. We work together to try to prevent smuggling, of drugs and other contraband, as well as handle greater crimes, such as terrorism. Are there any questions that you wish to ask before you go back to your room and forget this night ever occurred?
JD didnt wish to ask what would happen if he didnt forget it. He did find a question slipping out before he could stop it. The Mountie was right! He would not have been able to leave it alone.
Why do you pretend to be...well...not quite with it? he asked Turnbull.
People are more open to talking about things in front of someone they feel superior to. Turnbull smiled painfully. The bumbling Mountie has served many purposes. Im certain that you can think of many of them on your own. Was there anything else? Turnbulls eyes sparkled with suppressed amusement.
No. I dont think so, JD started.
Good night Mr. Dunne. Sleep well, Renfield Turnbull said as if none of the things that had happened had actually occurred. Just a brief goodnight between acquaintances.
Remember Dunne, Philip Monson said. No talking about this. Im not sure that Rens right about you. Keep your nose clean. If you dont things can get very bad. Really bad. He glared at JD. Behind him JD noticed Turnbull trying to keep from laughing and wondered vaguely why the picture behind the Mountie was hanging upside down.
Good night, JD said trying to figure out what to do. Im sorry if Ive caused any trouble. I wont say anything to anyone.
JD hoped to find that it had all been a dream the next morning, but when he woke, at his usual five AM, Turnbull greeted him with a knowing smile and a cup of tea.
It isnt really so bad, Mr. Dunne, he said as he started to lay out some breakfast things on top of a stack of boxes. Your Captain speaks quite highly of you.
I thought that you didnt eat in the Consulate, JD said with a little irritation.
I dont. You on the other hand should eat some breakfast. The others will not be here to take up duty until later this morning. Since the roof is back on the building, theyll be bringing in the wallboard for the interior and the new moldings. Its a very involved project to rebuild a Consulate. He gave JD a wide grin. Perhaps youd like a little more sleep?
No, Im awake. I cant get back to sleep after five. Ill probably turn in early tonight or take a nap. Are they going to be back tonight? Or should I not talk about it? JD was hesitant.
I dont see why not, at least as long as we are alone. None of the other Members of the Force assigned here has any idea of what I do, and its important to keep it that way.
Why? They seem like good policemen.
None of them are under investigation, JD, Turnbull answered easily reading between the lines of JDs questions. The work I do is very important, and very secret. You stumbled into something serious and I had warning that you would be unstoppable when you encountered a puzzle. Frankly I dont have time to mislead you enough to keep you off of our investigations. A very trustworthy source vouched for you. Do NOT make me regret it. The Mountie shifted between bumbling but pleasant and cold steel and Ice.
I dont want to cause trouble. I just want to get to Denver and get on Larabees team.
As to that... Turnbull paused making JD panic. What now?
Reading the increasing anxiety in his guests face, the Mountie gave him a faint smile. Nothing to worry about exactly. RMETF Seven has suffered a slight, well shall we say, setback?
RMETF Seven was in Kansas City investigating a drug case, as we told you last night.
Yes? JD was very worried now.
There was a shooting. No one was killed, but Agent Larabee and his partner, Agent Wilmington were both seriously injured.
Are they going to be alright? JD asked in concern.
According to the latest report, they will completely recover, but they are going to be in Kansas City for longer than was originally thought. Here Turnbull paused, and worried at his lower lip. There is something else. Larabee has added a new member to his team, and if rumor is correct hell be adding a second in a very short space of time. Apparently hes not a man who fails to get what he wants. JDs head went down. Nothing like that. The two new agents are going to be headed to Shackelton for training. Neither of them are specialists in computers. Alex was quite clear on that point.
Hes an old friend of mine.... JD? Turnbull asked gently. Dont give up on it. Larabee will be hard to convince because youre a little younger than hed like to have aboard, but you are what they need. I know it. Your brief sojourn here in the Consulate may actually do you some unexpected good. Ive spoken to Alex about you. I passed on the information I received when I checked your background. Hes curious about you, which is a good thing. Alex has a passion for puzzles of the mind, just as you do.
Is that going to help? JD asked morosely. He didnt want to give up, but he wasnt sure about this. Would Agent Larabee be angry if he started getting side suggestions about hiring him? Would he trust this Alex person? And what in the world could Captain Meredith have told Turnbull that would have led the Mountie to trust him this much? And did Ben know where he was?
Hed promised his mother not to tell Ben anything, but if the cat was out of the bag maybe he could call him up and talk to him. In spite of the kindnesses hed received along the way, it would be good to hear a familiar friendly voice right now.
I did not speak to your former partner, Turnbull said as if reading his mind. Several people indicated that this would be a very negative thing to do. As far as I can tell, your promise is still intact. A negative...? What? Why? JD sputtered.
Im not aware of all of the reasons, but your Captain in particular was concerned by the obsessive nature of his interest in you. The Priest, Father Kelly, said much the same thing. That it was uncomfortable to watch him interact with you. It is firmly believed that it would be a good thing if you did not contact him for a while.
Mama didnt like Ben at all, JD said confused by the news that others didnt like Ben. I thought it was her illness.
Apparently not, Mr. Dunne. Turnbull put a comforting hand on JDs shoulder.
Ben Slatterly had been a good friend and it was hard for JD to accept that anyone thought that there was something wrong with their friendship. Hed accepted that his mother was unhappy with it because shed been ill in the mind, but if other people didnt think that it was good either, maybe there was something wrong.
JD began to reminisce to Turnbull. It was as if once he started he couldnt stop. The Mountie listened, making the occasional comment as JD spilled out a lifetimes worth of memories and a weight of hopes and fears. He very kindly forbore to comment on the tears spilling down the younger mans face.
Turnbull adopted his bumbling Mountie demeanor as soon as there was a sound of the others arriving in the Consulate. JD was startled as the kind, wise, and gentle man that hed been speaking with suddenly went vacant and anxious. Renfield gave him an embarrassed grin as he stumbled into the door jam as he was hailed by the Mounties arriving downstairs.
Hey, Turnbull! called one voice up the stairs. Its almost time to turn the phones on.
Oh, Dear, the bumbling Constable cried. Im terribly sorry, Mr. Dunne. Ive allowed myself to become late. That will never do. Turnbull gave JD a quick wink. He tugged his immaculate uniform down and brushed off an imaginary spot of dirt.
Leaving JD to the attentions of the other Mounties, Turnbull kept his distance all day. He gave no indication that anything odd had happened between them at all. The other Mounties took a great deal of time out of their day to ensure that JD wasnt trapped in the Consulate with nothing to do.
In shifts they tried to keep JD occupied, and in doing so introduced him to a great deal of Chicago.
Turnbull entered the closet looking for some files that were being stored there. The closet had a reputation for being haunted and none of the other Mounties would go there without a direct order. Renfield didnt mind. He knew the ghost that had been there was no longer there. Hed also known the phantom personally, but that was a long story, even longer than the one that .
Damn, he was getting maudlin!
Rooting around in the various boxes, he uncovered the old 123288 KHI forms that he needed to finish to get the new 123288 KHIa forms. He was so intent on finding and finishing his paperwork that he didnt notice JDs guardian standing next to him.
I nearly disassembled that man last night. There was no call for such threats to be leveled at the boy. The Major was obviously angry. Turnbull looked up in surprise at the voice and his bumbling facade transformed to a gentle amusement.
Both Phillip and Charles are intense, but they would not have actually hurt Mr. Dunne. It is a difficult time for us all. In your day there were people whose hatred was enough to impel them to acts of such evil that all the Angels could do was weep. He watched the Major grimace with the bad memories. It hasnt changed with a Century. Its only become worse. The weapons of our day allow man to slaughter hundreds or thousands in an instant. Not to mention what governments can do . We have to be intense upon our tasks or we fail and the innocent perish, Turnbull sighed wearily. Lately weve lost so many of those who stood in the front lines. Your own heir amoung them. Im guessing that hell return to us unexpectedly, but its hard knowing how much damage hes suffered to force him into the shadows. The Duty upon the living this generation is almost too much to be bourne. All they want to know is that young Mr. Dunne is no threat to their brothers and those who are under their protection. You would have been suspicious of anyone you considered a threat to those under your protection.
I guess so The ghost trailed off, consideringly. He would have been extremely suspicious indeed. Nothing threatened the people he loved, nothing. They were lost to him, but hed given everything he had in life for them, everything. And he would do the same again, without a single regret. None at all.
Turning away from the young Mountie with an acknowledging nod, the Major walked through the wall.
A day and a half later, JD thought that he was going to climb the walls or go slowly mad. The Mounties kept a careful watch on him, treating him as an honored guest. It was obvious that they were very concerned about him, grieving and alone. It didnt help that there were twenty e-mails from Ben on his account. His old partner was very worried about him. There were repeated requests to call him, anytime. Apparently Captain Meredith had been in agreement with JDs mother. There was no way that he would give the young mans location away. Mrs. Leviwitcz seemed to be in on it as well.
Renfield had reluctantly let him call back to the apartment on a secure line. The Mountie definitely disliked Ben and was not willing to let JDs location be known. Why he felt so strongly had JD confused but he was willing to go with it. JD felt more depressed when he was able to pry out of the old woman that there had been several break-ins in the neighborhood and that Ben had come and threatened her, which was out of character behavior for his old partner. Oddly she had asked for the Servant of the Order and out of confusion hed given the phone to Turnbull. Whatever she had asked, Turnbull replied to in Polish. Apparently the Mountie was multi-lingual as well as amazingly talented.
Mrs. Leviwitcz did not ask where he was, but she did ask about his happiness. Was he still doing what he really in his heart of hearts wanted? If so, hold on. Nothing comes for nothing. Pain and upset were the things that keep us knowing that were alive, she repeatedly told him.
She also told him funny stories about how the Toffler family had reacted to Rachels death and his leaving. They had been so sure that hed come to them and beg for his mothers job, it wasnt funny. When it became apparent that he wouldnt do that, theyd shown up demanding to know what he thought he was doing.
Finding the empty apartment had been a shock. They didnt think he had the brains or the guts to survive out in the Real world . They couldnt, obviously. The Tofflers had been in more scrapes in the last week than theyd been in the last eight months all together. Rachel had been the stabilizing force and she was gone. JD would be damned if he was going to live his life like that, a ringmaster for a bunch of spoiled children.
The days passed quickly by. JD lent a hand to the remodeling of the Consulate during the day, overriding the Mounties plaints that he was a guest and so not required to help out, but help he did. It staved off the hurt he was feeling. Being stuck in Chicago was giving him time to grieve and he was missing his mom sorely.
Renfield and he worked on the bike at night, but the parts they needed had to be ordered, costing precious time, and the Federal Agents were unwilling to release him. There was an important operation going on and they didnt want to risk his blowing it. Giving him what comfort he could, the Mountie would tell him outrageous stories of the Acting Assistant Liaison whod been there years ago. A story about a book of matches lasted a full three hours with explanations. It kept his spirits up, as much as possible. JD worried so much about losing his chance to get onto Larabees team.
Turnbull was goofy by day and razor-witted at night. The two Federal agents kept coming and going at all hours. JD found himself leaning on Turnbull for support and going to the man to keep his spirits up about this journey. Was he doing the right thing by following his mothers wish? It had been what hed wanted but he was so uncharacteristically uncertain. It was usually easy for him to make a decision and carry it through, but this was so far out of the norm.
If JD had been able to drive straight through to Denver, it was doubtful that hed have faced all of these uncertainties, but since he was stuck here, he was depressed.
The Mounties insisted that he have a good time in their Country and shared everything they could with him, Constable Aokis pictures of Baffin Island, Parkers Quebecois cooking, and Woodleys strange animal impersonations, but nothing seemed to help. Even Corporal Allinghams wide interest in computers couldnt dissuade JD from feeling lost and very much alone. Hours of watching taped Curling Competitions only increased his loneliness and confusion.
Only Turnbull seemed to understand, and he was stuck in his role as an idiot. It really hurt JD to watch the man behave in such a foolish fashion and listen to the other Mounties make comments that were often barbed, all the while knowing that the man was far more than he seemed.
Watching the interactions between goofy Renfield and the others became a bit too painful. JD would find something to do some special little thing that he could do when the other Mounties were on duty. They were kind, even to Turnbull, but the walls felt like they were closing in on him. He painted, he washed walls and floorboards, and he scoured the kitchen and the bathrooms. The others worried about him and were concerned with his working so hard on their behalf but couldnt seem to understand that he felt that theyd done so much for him that it was the least that he could do.
Eventually he excused himself from the concerned Mounties and visited McGintys bar. Gary wasnt there, but Marissa was. It seemed like Gary had a lot of strange errands to run. Sitting in Garys bar, JD cradled the resident orange and white cat to him and absentmindedly stroked him for hours. There was nothing that seemed to lift the depression, he mused as he petted the cat. In a few minutes, JD started to ask himself why he felt so down . His mother was surely upset with him for brooding like an old hen. So he wasnt in Denver. Look at what hed accomplished on the way and what would he accomplish on the rest of the way. Denver was going to be his new home and he was going to make Larabees team. Just wait and see, he told himself.
JD was surprised at the amount of deference given to the cat. Gary would drop by between his seemingly unending errands, and check on it. Marissa would stroke its fur as she gave orders to the staff of McGintys and her dog, Spike seemed in awe of it. The cat accepted their courtesy as a proper monarch should, and JD found himself laughing at its antics. It was like taking a sojourn in the court of a genial but very lazy king. He got to thinking about coming to visit the king in a coach, then wandered off onto Stagecoaches for a little. It would have taken so much longer to cross the country in a Stagecoach. He wouldnt be as far as he was if he had had to take one to Denver. Maybe by train, but that was difficult too. His motorcycle was perfect for him, as soon as it was fixed.
As he brushed his hand against the back of the booth, JD ran into an obstruction. He leaned back, not letting go of the cat. There were some dusty books back there. Pulling one out as the cat purred, he discovered someones cache of Dime novels. Eager in his boredom, he settled into the first volume of the collected works of some guy named Jock Steele.
As the growing waves of confidence renewed themselves inside JD, the cat turned from his indulgent amusement to give a blink at the grey-coated man watching from the corner.