AN/ I really need to give some love to the best beta in the world Shy who is absolutely fantastic.That girl doesn't even demand a wage! Love ya shy!Plus i need to say a big thank you to Tez who helped me whip this fic into shape. Also I hope you all like this fic and thatyou think thati've done justice to such a fantastic show.
Yes Benny, Ray, Dief and the Due South concept doesn't belong to me...but in my imagination anything is possible:P
Chapter 1: Prelude to a kiss
Three years prior to the death of Constable Robert Fraser Sr.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Benton Fraser was sat at his desk in the RCMP outpost of a small Yukon town situated far in the northern territories. The day had been long owing to the fact that nothing of much significance had happened. Nothing really did happen in the small sleepy village. There wasn't any seedy criminal underbelly or large scale organised crime or mafia bosses, and so Constable Fraser and his colleagues' main duties tended to centre on neighbour disputes and the occasional rescue of tourists from the wilderness. Today had been no different and so Fraser sat typing up a report of his day's activities, or at least one event that had dominated his day.
There was nothing unusual about the rescue of an American tourist who had found them self in difficulties. All of the officers at the outpost had rescued hundreds before all from varying degrees of danger but for Fraser this rescue was different. The news that the hikers were in trouble had come in over the station's radio. A party of six had set out for the mountain pass early that morning, but only four of the party had returned. As far as Fraser had understood there had been some kind of altercation between the six supposed friends where the party had then spilt to go their separate ways. That had been over five hours ago and the four had assumed that they would return to find the missing members of their party already at their boarding house.
Again, for Fraser, this type of situation was nothing new, many friends had arrived in the area to spend what they had hoped to be a magical holiday full of fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing and camaraderie. But in an environment and a situation where people had to rely on their fellow man, even the most solid relationships were put to the test. Most cases ended with the friendships being strengthened but with some tempers flared. And so it was early that evening Constable Benton Fraser and his constant companion Diefenbaker (a deaf wolf that had saved Fraser's life on more than one occasion) were forced to make the long drive towards the forests where the friends had first separated.
Tracking was a skill that came naturally to Fraser, he had learnt it as a child from observing his father and so it wasn't difficult for him to discover the exact place where the friends had split. The impressions of their tracks were clearly visible, the trampled undergrowth, the broken lower branches of small trees all told a story of the events that had led to the groups decision to split. An argument had happened, over what, Fraser didn't know, sometimes it was over the simplest thing like which direction they should go, other times it was more personal. But whatever words had passed between these friends had led to a fight between two of them. Fraser could clearly see the markings of their foot prints in soft soil; he saw the deeper impressions as the two males launched themselves at each other and crashed into the neighbouring bushes. Other foot prints told Fraser how the rest of the party hurried to separate their friends and how finally the group separated. There were two sets of tracks leading from the scene, one heading east towards the mountain trail, the other heading west towards the lake. It wasn't difficult for Fraser to know which path the missing two hikers had taken as the larger group tracks showed that they had headed towards the lake.
Dief tottered ahead as the pair made their way after the missing hikers, the terrain was familiar to Fraser who had spent his childhood growing up in the neighbouring territories and whose love of the wild brought him to walk these paths at almost every opportunity he had. He made light work of the areas that the two missing hikers had found difficult, he felt confident that he would close in on the pair before nightfall. Eventually the tracks shied away from the mountain pass, the hikers must have realised their error and had decided to make for the lake and their friends. Fraser also knew that there was a possibility that the pair had continued past the lake to the small dirt track which was used as a main route between the town and its neighbouring town. If this was the case then Fraser knew that pair would most likely have reached their boarding house just after he had set out, and all that was left for him to do was to continue towards the road and follow it back to his parked truck. But Fraser was denied such luxuries as the distant shouts of a man made Fraser burst into a run while Diefenbaker barked and sprinted ahead.
The yelling preceded the load crack of a gun as a flare ignited into the sky glowing crimson in the evening sky, and marking the position where the hikers were obviously in trouble. Fraser couldn't help but think how foolish the men had been; they had chosen to bypass the track road and instead had chosen to walk the full length of the lake heading back to town through the woods. The flare marked the place where the men had found themselves in difficulties but Fraser knew that despite his speed for the time being the men were on their own.
Elizabeth knew she had taken the wrong turning hours ago, but the lack of a good map coupled with her fear of asking for directions had finally led her miles off the route that she had planned on taking. The fact that she didn't know where she was didn't bother her. What did was the fact that she knew her truck wasn't the most economical choice of transportation and its fuel tank meter had been reading red for the past fifteen miles. With a loud groan and a protesting jolt the truck began to slow, Elizabeth sighed, resigned herself to the fact that she was now facing a long walk and pulled the truck up onto the grass verge. Before stepping out into the cold evening air she cursed her decision of coming to Canada. She hated being unprepared and even more than this, she hated being cold, only she and god knew why she had made the decision to come here and at this moment Elizabeth wished that she was still in Oklahoma. Grabbing her jacket she leant across to the glove box and removed the gun that had been resting there, it wasn't her only weapon, but it was the easiest of all the guns secreted about the truck to find. She had no inclination of a passing squad car seeing her abandoned truck and calling out an All Points Bulletin after finding such an easily got at weapon.
She climbed out of the truck, the compacted rocks that formed the road crunched under her booted feet as she turned and grabbed her backpack. Its weight would be a hindrance on a long trek but again she was reluctant to leave it, her entire life was packed into that one bag. She fastened her jacket, shoved the gun into the waist band of her jeans and pulled the pack over her shoulders. It was mere habit that made her press the central locking button on her key ring as the truck's locks clicked into place and its lights flashed. Storing the keys into her jacket pocket she continued her journey on foot.
An hour later and Elizabeth was still walking. The daylight was slowly fading and more than once she had contemplated returning to her truck and starting afresh in the morning. She had almost resigned herself to heading back when a flash of red streaked into the sky; she instantly knew what it was. Her first instincts were to ignore it, to continue back to her truck and to forget about it. But despite her misgivings Elizabeth knew only too well the troubles that might befall the individuals that had placed their last hopes on that single flare. She knew that nothing but trouble would come of her decision but still she hurried off the road and into the surrounding countryside. She unburdened herself of her pack near a large tree and crashed through the undergrowth heading for the place where the flare was now slowly dying.
It wasn't difficult for Elizabeth to find the people in trouble even without the flare to direct her, their shouts and screams for help were easy enough to follow in the quickening darkness. As she approached their location she slowed her pace, pulled the gun from her waist band and removed its safety. Part of her was still saying that this was the most stupid thing she had done in weeks, she was in an unknown landscape with god only knows what dangers surrounding her. For all she knew this could be a trap, elaborately setup by the very same people that she had spent weeks running from. But as she slowed and crouched by a mass of bushes she could feel the familiar sensation of adrenalin coursing through her body. This was the feeling that she had missed.
Elizabeth felt slightly foolish as she pulled back the leaves that hid her to look upon the scene in front of her. In some small way she was relived that her worst fears hadn't be realised, but part of her also felt annoyed. Sighing she re-stowed the gun into her waist band and pushed through the bushes. She didn't have to ask to know what had happened, one look at the scene had told her all she needed to know. Two people, both young males, were huddled together on a mass of rocks as the older of the two's leg was pinned underneath. It was obvious to Elizabeth that there had been a land slid and these two poor unfortunates had been caught up in it.
"Thank god!" the younger man called as he saw Elizabeth approaching and he hurried forwards. "Please help us! The rocks fell, his leg got pinned and he's gone really cold." Elizabeth led the way back to the older man. Her head was still telling her that this was dumb, that she should have turned back when she had the chance, but her training had kicked in and so had her conscious. As soon as she had left the road she knew that there was no turning back and so after a quick scan of her surroundings she turned her attention to the older man.
"How long has he been like this?" she asked as the younger man hurried after her like a lost little puppy.
"I don't know…an hour…maybe two…I tried moving it but that just made more rocks move," the boy rambled as Elizabeth knelt close to his friend and pressed her fingers to the older boy's neck. There was a strong pulse, she opened his eyes and saw that they were dilated.
"How long has he been out?"
"Dunno," the boy replied uselessly, "five…ten minutes."
"His legs are pinned but I don't think it's any worse than that," Elizabeth commented, more to herself than to the boy. "Help me move these rocks."
With Elizabeth's knowledge they made quick work of clearing the more unstable rocks that were perched precariously above the older boy and were threatening to fall. Next she turned her attention to the large boulder that was pinning him.
"You can't move it," the boy said as he now saw Elizabeth eyeing the large rock.
"You ever heard of a man named Archimedes?" she asked and wasn't at all surprised to see the bewildered look on the young boy's face. "He once said, 'Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world'. Bring me that log." The boy did as he was told and Elizabeth forced the log under the boulder then positioned the log across another rock to use for levitation.
"Grab his shoulders and when I tell you to pull, pull him free." The boy did as he was told. "NOW!" Elizabeth called as she pushed with all her strength and the boulder rose. The boy whooped with joy as he pulled his friend free and as soon as they were clear Elizabeth hurried to assess the older boy's injuries. Her hands were accustomed to assessing such injuries and even in the now dim light she could see that the boy's leg was broken, but it was a clean brake and Elizabeth knew exactly what to do. She ordered the boy to fetch some wood suitable to be used as splints as she pulled off her jacket, removed her shirt and began ripping it into long strips. But a scream filled her ears as she heard a loud cracking sound and Elizabeth swore that she was now being punished for her passed sins.
"GET OFF THE ICE!" she shouted as she turned to see the young boy trying to pull at a flat piece of wood that was lodged into the melting ice at the edges of the lake. But her yells were unheeded as the boy pulled once more causing the ice around him to crack and give way under his weight. Elizabeth didn't think twice, she pulled off her boots and grabbed at the knife that was strapped to her ankle placing this in her mouth as she ran and dived into the ice cold waters after the idiot boy.
Fraser ran as fast his legs could carry him, he had always been a fast runner and in situations like these time was everything. Diefenbaker was up ahead and even though the wolf was capable of out pacing the man tenfold he kept the distance between them even. They were following the edge of the lake choosing the soft banks of the lake as a faster route to the boys instead of being held up by the thick undergrowth. The flare had burned out over five minutes ago and the night's sky was quickly approaching, Fraser's greatest fear was that he wouldn't reach the boys before night settled and that in the darkness he would pass them completely.
Fraser's worst fears were never realised as he and Dief turned the curve of the lake and he finally saw the boys that he had been tracking all evening. One look at the scene told Fraser what had happened and his first thoughts were to the unconscious boy who lay at the lake's edge, that was until a yell drew his attention further out. For a split second Fraser thought he was seeing things as he turned to see the silhouette of a woman dive head long into the iced waters. But she was real enough and a second later she emerged, a large hunting knife clasped in one hand as she dug it deep into the ice, using this as a hold to secure herself while her other hand clutched the other boy.
Diefenbaker barked as Fraser skidded across the unstable ice on his front and helped to pull the boy ashore before he turned his attention to the woman, taking hold of her hand he pulled, she wasn't heavy and she came free of the water easily as he pulled her into his arms. His eyes met her hazel ones and in that split second when their eyes joined Fraser could read a flash of fear, but as quickly as the fear came it disappeared as the woman took in his uniform.
"Thank you," Elizabeth gasped as the chill in the air suddenly hit her lungs like a knife causing her to shiver and to clutch the Mountie's proffered arm more tightly than she should have. She felt the man react to her sudden sign of weakness his arms were around her and his hands grasping her firmly as he led her towards the others. Elizabeth cursed herself even more now, she had known that nothing good would have come of seeking out the source of the flare, and the presence of the Mountie proved that her initial thoughts had been right. But what was done was done and her training was still dictating her actions, despite the fact that her head was still telling her to run.
Fraser felt the woman shiver in his arms, her slender frame clad in only jeans and a vest. His instincts were to remove his jacket and wrap it around her but as soon as they reached the safety of the bank she pulled away from him and bent to pick up a denim sheepskin jacket. Instead of putting it on she threw the jacket to the boy she had just rescued as she bent and turned her attention to the still unconscious boy.
"Know anything about splints?" the woman commanded more than asked and Fraser nodded.
"Yes ma'am." Fraser didn't need another hint; he turned and found two suitable lengths of wood. Returning he handed these to the woman as she commanded that he hold the boy still as she pulled the broken leg quickly forwards and out. The fast motion was all that was needed to pull the bones straight and as the pain of this registered in the unconscious boy's brain, he began to stir. Fraser held him still as the woman bound and strapped the injured leg.
"That'll hold till you get him back to where he needs to go…you seen my boots?" Fraser heard the woman ask this last part to no one in particular as she moved away from him and retraced her steps back to the edge of the lake.
Elizabeth knew that the boys would be safe now that an officer of the law was with them and so all she could think about was finding her boots and getting the hell out of here. Not for the first time that day she cursed her decision of coming to Canada, her shirt was ripped to shreds, her boots were no where to be seen and the warmth of her jacket was comforting a wet, lost and idiot of a boy. Elizabeth knew that she was visibly shaking with cold, she was ill adapted to colder climates, she took after her mother in that respect, and this hatred was doubled now that she was soaking wet and freezing.
"My name is Constable Benton Fraser," Elizabeth heard the Mountie's voice say as she spun round to see him approaching her. Over his shoulder she could see that he had moved the injured boy further towards the trees and his friend was huddled next to him holding her jacket about the pair of them.
"Thank you for pulling me out," Elizabeth tried to say as she attempted to flash him a smile but all she managed was a chattering of teeth. More than anything she wanted to avoid introductions and awkward questions about herself, but as the Mountie's expression turned to one of concern rather than curiosity, she graciously allowed him to drape his jacket over her shoulders.
"Thank you," the woman uttered again as Fraser watched her pull his jacket about her and soak up the warmth left from his body. Fraser couldn't help but feel surprised as he watched her clutching his jacket about her, her frame looked dwarfed as the jacket hung down almost three sizes too large. "You haven't seen my boots have you?"
"Ah no," Fraser found himself saying as he realised that he had been staring at the woman, his eyes glanced to her feet and her words registered as he saw her wriggle her soaking sock covered toes. A small part of Fraser was glad that at that moment Dief barked. For a deaf wolf his timing was impeccable, as both the woman and Fraser turned to see him sitting with a brown cowboy boot in his mouth, a second one on the ground besides him.
"Thank you," Elizabeth said smiling at the animal as she took her boots and pulled them on. "He's a beautiful wolf."
"Well actually Diefenbaker's a wolf-" Fraser began his usual contradiction at people's first introductions to Diefenbaker, but stopped as he realised his mistake. "How-"
"Obvious really," she said shrugging her shoulders as though this was a trifle thing "his bone structure is more lupine than canine, and… well I've seen wolf crosses before. But he's certainly a looker. Thanks for the help I appreciate it."
With this, she rubbed Dief's head and handed Fraser his jacket and turned towards the boys, as she did so, Fraser's eyes caught the glimpse of the butt of a gun sticking out of the waist band of her jeans. This and the knowledge of the knife would ordinarily have made Fraser wonder about this woman's intentions, but everything about her made Fraser's keen law abiding mind switch off, instead it was his curiosity that was aroused.
"What's your name?" Fraser asked as once more both their eyes met, this time there was no sign of fear, just a pleasing and welcoming friendliness.
Elizabeth couldn't help but find the Mountie intriguing, she knew that he had seen her gun; it hadn't exactly been concealed and no way was a semi-automatic a hunting standard. She also knew that this coupled with the fact that she had a large knife should really have provoked some questions and so, it was with a pleasing smile that she figured there wasn't much to lose.
"Smith, Elizabeth Smith," she said as they both stared into each others' face. They were standing barely two feet apart and both Elizabeth and Fraser could feel an overwhelming chemistry build between them.
"Can we go home now?" the boy that was still huddled in Elizabeth's jacket called, almost pleading in a whiny voice that immediately drew both Fraser's and Elizabeth's attentions.
"You'd better-" Elizabeth said drawing her eyes from those of the Mountie and nodded towards the boys.
"I'd better-" he acknowledged, nodding his head as Dief barked. "You could come with us?"
"No, my truck's parked up the road…ah-but it's out of fuel."
"My truck isn't far; I could drop you off in town and arrange for your's to be towed back?"
And so it was a little after 10pm Fraser found himself leaving the RCMP outpost for the second time that night. His report of the rescue was completed and now resting in his chief's inbox waiting for his attention the following morning. The two boys had been reunited with their friends and were being attended to by the local doctor, while Elizabeth had refused to be checked out for signs of hyperthermia and instead had insisted that she was introduced to the local pickup and mechanic.
His work done, Fraser turned his thoughts to home as he and Dief began the long walk towards their lodgings.
"Need a lift?" called a voice as Fraser turned onto the main street, and the rattle of a large truck drew his attention. He couldn't help but smile as he recognised the driver. Her hair was no longer wet, her skin no longer pale from the cold. "I didn't really thank you for pulling me out of that lake."
"Have you eaten yet?" Fraser asked avoiding the fact that they both knew that she had uttered her thanks more than once that night.
"Starving," she answered as she leant across the cab and pushed open the passenger side door open, "I can do some fantastic things with eggs."