Hide in Shadow
I do not own these characters. Hamish Macbeth and his gang are the proud properties of M.C. Beaton and BBC Scotland. David Russell and the folks from The Last Enemy are the properties of Peter Berry and BBC. There is also a cameo/guest appearance by a Macbeth family member who is actually owned by Disney/Buena Vista and Greg Weisman with some help from William Shakespeare (I may elaborate on this relation in a future date). I do however own Susan, Gabriel, and Nicole McArdle, John and Martin Brandell, DI Henderson, DS Gillis, and anyone else who doesn't seem remotely familiar.
A/N: The world of Hamish Macbeth is a combination of the book and TV series, with mostly the TV series thrown in (I like the series a little better than the books), but there are references to the book series- such as former girlfriends and Hamish has the large family from the books. I have elaborated on certain things like the siblings and his parents to adhere to an Alternate Universe, so my story has some very different twists.
The setting of this is a few years after the last episodes of Hamish Macbeth and a short time preceding The Last Enemy, with some later parts being set immediately before and after TLE. It starts off mostly for Hamish Macbeth, but Last Enemy stuff is prominent as well especially towards the end. This also contains some MAJOR SPOILERS for the Last Enemy. Thought I would let you know.
Chapter One: Hard Rain's Gonna Fall
Mr. Macbeth faced down the enemy. He could smell the cigarette smoke next to him. "Get down," the figure snapped.
Macbeth leaned down. "You wish for me to beg for my life?" he asked.
The person shook their head. "No, why should you live?"
"My wife and children," the elderly Scottish man said slowly remembering not to beg or show weakness. "My wife is ill. I have seven children. They need their father."
"Most of your children are adults," the figure reminded him.
"No matter where you will hide, my eldest son, Hamish, will find you," Macbeth said quietly. "He is a police constable. You won't get away with this."
"Those laws don't apply to me as you well know," the figure said. "Do you think that you deserve to die?"
Macbeth lowered his gray head. He had spent many years trying to forget those days. There were many days where he had settled into the farmer's life, loved his wife, lectured his children, had drinks at a pub with mates. There were just as many nights when he was filled with the screams, the killings, the nights that he knew would never end. Staring at the other person in the face, the elderly man knew one thing: he deserved to die. He nodded. "I've done some terrible things, never was held accountable for them. Yes, I deserve this."
The figure put their hand across Macbeth's shoulder as though they were just a friend confiding in him. "What is the worst thing that you have ever done?"
The man sighed. What was the worst? This person opened up the sins that he had long forgotten or blocked out. One sin stood out like a beacon, he knew the worst thing that he had ever done. "I gave up my eldest son without a fight."
"The constable?" the person asked.
Macbeth shook his head. "No, there was another. They were twins. They wanted to train him or Hamish. I chose him and the boy left. "
"So, you gave up your son," the figure said. "Or rather chose one over the other."
Macbeth nodded. "He was only 16, a lad himself."
The figure shook their head rapidly not wanting the old man to relate to them. Macbeth continued speaking. "But that wasn't the worst of it."
"What was the worst of it?" the figure asked.
"We searched for him for a time, but then I told my family that he was dead to us," the old man said. "The younger children barely know of him. I never told his mother and his brother that I found him years later. He didn't see me or if he did, he didn't acknowledge. I saw what he had become, monstrous, cruel, insane, a killer without any feeling. I couldn't tell them that I saw him like that. It would have broken his mother's heart and his brother- I can't even imagine how he would have acted. I never told them." Macbeth's eyes filled. Despite remaining the quiet strong front he always had, these past deeds overwhelmed him.
He lowered his head with shame and regret not seeing the person come up from behind him. "What is your son's name?" he asked.
The man sighed. "Ian, Ian Macbeth."
"How interesting," the other figure said. Macbeth said nothing. He didn't even feel the knife that slit his throat and bury into his chest.
Hamish walked into the Lochdubh Hotel's bar with a triumphant grin on his face. "The Ranken Robbery is officially solved," he said. He called to the Meldrums who stood behind the bar. "Agnes, Barney drinks for everyone!" The clients all stood up excited and cheering like children
"-Provided they pay for them themselves," Hamish added mischievously. His friends groaned and sighed at the constable. Some patrons like Lachlan MacRae Sr. playfully slugged Hamish before they sat back down.
Hamish was about to sit in his usual spot when his girlfriend, Isobel stood up to leave. They almost bumped into each other. "Excuse me," she said stiffly. "Congratulations, Hamish."
"Thank you," Hamish said just as stiffly.
As the young reporter left, Hamish sat next to his friends. Isobel bumped into Doc Brown as she left. "It's a good thing that you two are beyond that awkward phase or things would be really unsettling," he said dryly.
Hamish shrugged. There wasn't much he or Isobel could do. Things had been beyond strained between them for some time. Hamish accepted a bottle of whiskey and drank as he and the doctor made small talk. "So, how are things with your sister, Fionnulla?" he asked trying to remain casual.
Hamish couldn't resist a grin. He wondered if his question went beyond the typical doctor's curiosity. "Still fine," Hamish replied. "Still happily married." the constable said hovering somewhere between teasing best friend and protective older brother.
Doc shook his head. "I know, I just meant as far as her pregnancy goes," he said.
Fee was pregnant for the second time. She already had an 8-year-old son, Joe Jr., and was 5 months along. Her husband, Joe, was right now serving in Afghanistan. With her husband's absence and their mother's illness, this hadn't been an easy pregnancy. "Seems to be fine now," Hamish replied. "She got the umm- you know pictures uh-"
"-Sonogram," Doc prompted.
"-Aye, yes it's a boy," he said.
Doc was about to offer his congratulations when the door burst open to reveal Hamish's partner, Detective Jim Anderson. "Sorry to interrupt," he said. The police officer looked flushed and nervous. "Hamish, do you know a woman named Mrs. Grace?"
Hamish looked confused. "Aye, Martha Grace, she's my parents' neighbor. She helps look after my Mum." Hamish's mother suffered a stroke the year before. Though she recovered, she still suffered through occasional lapses of forgetfulness, and agitation, which Mrs. Grace helped with.
"She wants to talk to you," Anderson said. "She says it's urgent."
Hamish ran after his partner out of the hotel not saying another word until he reached the phone in the police station. "Mrs. Grace?" he said. "Hamish, here. Is something wrong with Mum?"
"Not exactly, Hamish," Mrs. Grace's warm voice said. From the background, Hamish could hear loud hysterical sobbing. "The police are here. Can you come identify a body?"
This request made Hamish nervous. "Whose body?" he asked.
Mrs. Grace sighed before answering. "It's – how am I going to say this- Hamish it's your father."
Hamish sank down onto the chair feeling weightless. "What happened?"
"We don't know," Mrs. Grace answered. "They came a few minutes ago and they asked your mother to identify the body- but under the circumstances-"
"-Aye, I understand," Hamish said. Considering their mother's state, she wasn't sure if she could handle identifying her husband's body. "You did the right thing, I will be right there." He hung up the phone.
"Jim, I have to go," he said. His voice choked low and hoarse. He didn't even recognize it. "My father's dead." It sounded odd to say that.
Anderson gasped. "Oh Hamish, no." He said.
"You'll feed Jock right?" Hamish asked. Anderson nodded. "I'll be back later."
The constable petted his beloved Westland Terrier before he left.
Hamish parked the Land Rover in front of his parents' house in Rogart. They had left Lochdubh and moved to Glasgow when Hamish was a teenager. Later, his parents and younger siblings moved to Rogart when some of the others were still fairly young. The house was usually filled with noise and laughter. Now it was eerie and quiet. Hamish glanced over at the police car parked in the driveway. Hamish gingerly opened the door. Mrs. Grace, a small gray-haired woman, greeted him with a quick embrace. His mother was seated next to the police officers. They were drinking tea. Hamish couldn't resist a slight grin. His mother would serve tea to a group of terrorists before sitting them down and hearing their life stories. She talked to the officers as warm and polite as ever, but there was hollowness to her voice, sadness.
"Mum," Hamish said. Mrs. Macbeth looked up at her eldest son.
"Hamish," she said and wrapped her arms around him. "These police officers are making a mistake. Your father isn't dead. He will be home soon!" Her speech had almost recovered from her stroke, but occasionally her words were slurred. Her movements were shaky, no doubt increased by news of her husband's death.
Hamish nodded and soothed his mother. "I'm sure he will, mum," he said. He turned to the police officers. "When?"
The older officer stood. He was a gray-haired man. Hamish could see the sorrow on his face. "Mr. Macbeth, I'm DI Henderson, this is DS Gillis. We think he's been dead since last night. Can you come with us?"
"Of course," Hamish said. He turned to his mother. She was normally a bubbly plump woman, but her face had sunken in and was red with her tears. "Mum, I am going with these men. Can you stay here? I will be right back."
His mother shook her head. "No, Hamish, I am going with you. If it's-I have to know."
Hamish looked from his mother to Mrs. Grace to the police officers, helplessly and he nodded. The constable and his mother walked out of the house into his Land Rover.
The mother and son followed the police officers into the morgue. The police station was a lot larger than Lochdubh's, with more people working at the desks and speaking to suspects. The officers led Hamish and his mother down a flight of steps into the morgue. Hamish involuntarily shuddered at the cold in the morgue. The slabs were empty with only two bodies. A middle-aged blond woman stood in attendance giving her visitors a tired but withering look. Gillis, a dark-haired business-like man, called Hamish and his mother over. "Mr. Macbeth, I have to ask is this your father?"
Hamish tensed as he held his mother, purposely trying to impair her vision. She gently removed his hand from her eyes as the officer removed the sheet. Mrs. Macbeth gave a loud cry of pain and grief. Hamish began to cry himself. He turned his head, but could see the gray –haired man that he knew too well. "That's him," he said.
"Where are his glasses?" Mrs. Macbeth said. "He can't see without them! I told him to wear them! He never listens to me!" She collapsed into her son's arms.
About a hundred different emotions, filled inside Hamish –anger, grief, sadness, but also his occupational curiosity. I can find who did this, he thought. Dad won't have died for nothing.
"Can I get a closer look?" Hamish asked.
The police officer shook his head. "We can't allow it-"
"-I am a police officer myself and I am his son, that's two reasons why you should," Hamish retorted.
Hamish gently laid his mother onto a chair and gave her a hug before he walked over to the body. He felt ill as soon as he saw him. His father lay on the slab. His eyes were shut. Hamish tried to hold his breath in as he looked closer. His father was stabbed twice in the chest and once across the throat. Hamish turned away from the ugly wounds on his father and looked closely at his hands. They were rough hewn from years of work on the farm. Those hands used to string bait properly for fishing, used to show his son how to fire a gun. No, the constable thought to himself, for the next few minutes he is not your father. He is just a body on a slab. His voice choked as he spoke. "He was stabbed multiple times," he said. "Despite his age, my father is-was a strong man. They had to have gotten close to him. I will find who did this."
The younger officer shook his head. "Sir, it appears your father was just at the bad end of a robbery. It is unfortunate, but these things happen. We will never catch this person. We just don't have the resources."
"With all due respect sir," Hamish said scooping his mother in his arms. "I will find out."
Right now, Hamish thought, I have to call people. Mum is in no condition to do so. The constable led his mother out the door and into the chilly afternoon.
One other Macbeth sibling found out the news as Hamish did. He glanced at the laptop as he looked up the name "Macbeth" on the screen. The elder Macbeth looked years younger in his photograph. He was next to four other mug shots. The word DECEASED filled the screen. The man pushed for more information, but the female voice said "Access Denied!" In anger the man pushed the screen.
"Access denied? What the bloody hell?" the agent growled. He sighed. It didn't matter. He had a feeling that he knew who killed him. He needed a way to bring it out. He began to type a letter to a person that he hadn't spoken to for over 20 years.
Barbara Turney waited outside the art gallery not happy about this meeting. She had enough on her mind without another complication. She just hoped it wasn't anything to bother the PM with, unlike the other issues. She glanced at her watch glancing around for any signs of being watched or followed. She breathed a sigh of relief when the elderly bespectacled man finally emerged from the gallery.
"I had a feeling you'd be here," Turney said dryly.
George Gibbon didn't acknowledge
his fellow number's attempt at humor. "Have you heard anymore
about the trouble in Afghanistan?"
The two superiors in British government walked away from the gallery making sure they were among crowds of people, so no one would pay attention to their conversation. "We don't know anymore about the Hep-B vaccinations than we did earlier," Turney replied putting a brave face on the events. "But one of the workers apparently has been asking too many questions. We'll have to look into that. For now we are monitoring the situation as close as we can."
"And TIA, how successful are we on getting that accepted?," Gibbon asked.
Turney waved her hand in a so-so manner. "Well according to some of the Edinburgh researchers, there is enough support from the general public, but still a lack of interest from the top level. Our new Government Minister suggested that maybe we get someone to represent our view, to speak for us at the debates, you know a common voice for the people a-"
"-a mascot, "Gibbon suggested.
Turney nodded. "The Government Minister knows a few people that might fit the role." She paused for a moment. "I assume that you didn't want my attention for these events."
Gibbon glanced right and left then grabbed the female superior by the arm. He then led her to a spot by the bridge that unoccupied and they could see a full view of anyone watching or listening. "Someone has been sneaking through older files."
Turney stared at the older man confused. George had a tendency to veer more towards nerves and paranoia, than the other superior officers. Privately, Turney wondered if his better days were behind him. After all, he was her superior once. "Many of the older files are available on the Internet. Anyone can access them George."
"Not certain restricted ones," George whispered in her ear. "Like 'The Lion and the Unicorn.'"
Turney's eyes narrowed. She knew what he was talking about. "Not one of our finest hours. It could have been an enemy agent."
"Doubtful," Gibbon said. Turney noticed that Gibbon carried a small file with him. "This is what they were able to access."
Turney looked at the files and saw the names of the personnel that were involved in what had long been considered one of the darker moments in SIS history. Turney had been a child then, 11 years old just starting secondary school. Barbara thought nostalgically that her only worries at the time were fending off the advances of the annoying Roger Barrington, and trying to see the Rolling Stones concerts that her older sisters were allowed to attend. She cleared her throat, leaving her momentary daydream. She glanced at the names and dossiers of the agents involved. "It could be a coincidence," Turney suggested.
"Two of the former agents have been killed in the last two weeks," Gibbon replied. "Hardly a coincidence."
Turney glanced at one of the files, a name and face stuck out in her mind. She shook her head. This is the part where I should be surprised, she thought unenthusiastically. "I know who more than likely did. For now, we will keep an eye on him and see what he does with the information. "
Murdo Macbeth stared at his watch as he waited for the airplane to arrive. He could hear the announcement on the loudspeaker. "Flight 231 from London is disembarking now". The computer analyst had agreed to meet his younger brother, Malcolm at the airport and the two were going to drive to their mother's. He spoke again to his partner, Elsie Lancaster on his cell. "I'll be back soon, Elsie," he promised. "Don't worry about the Worms. We can work on the research together." Elsie and he were given the job of troubleshooting and analysis for Total Information Awareness, or TIA. It was a big job and they had just studied on the negative aspects of TIA, like the lack of privacy. Of course their supervisors, Bryan Holland and Andrew Wilcox were not happy and commanded that they do the research again (in their favor, of course). Murdo knew that Elsie was partly sympathetic to his father's death, but also upset that she had to work from Edinburgh on her own. Murdo reassured that he will work on his end from Rogart using his laptop. They both knew what this meant. If this research was done well, the two researchers had the chance to get promoted to the main office in London.
"Murdo!" a loud voice boomed over the crowd. Murdo looked to see a familiar figure jump out of the security gangway. Malcom patiently waited as a security officer accepted his National I.D. card. The officer processed the card then waved the young Scottish doctor through.
Malcolm Macbeth reached out and clapped his brother on the shoulder. Murdo and Malcolm looked enough alike that people mistook them for twins though Murdo was older by seven years. They were both tall with bushy red hair, and gangly frame and features. Though right now, Murdo looked cleaner and more tucked in with his dark pressed suit, and the glasses that he wore. Malcolm's hair was bushier and was dressed in very dirty khakis. "How's mum?" Malcolm asked.
Murdo shrugged. "Hamish didn't say much. He just said that she is as well as can be expected. Fee and the younger ones are coming by later and I guess Robey and well, Marcia will stop tonight. How are you doing?"
Malcolm shrugged. "Well considering that I survived a 7 hour jeep ride, a 2 hour walk to a private airport, an 8 hour flight on what I am pretty sure was a cargo plane used for livestock, then a 4 hour layover in Brussels for a 3 hour flight, then to London on another flight, from one major airport in the U.K. after another to be processed, briefed, as though I were Europe's Most Dangerous Criminal to attend my father's funeral. Under the circumstances, I think I would like a beer first."
Despite the gravity of the situation, Murdo couldn't resist a laugh. Malcolm was always a storyteller with a flair for exaggeration and loved to make his siblings laugh. It was hard to believe that he was interning in Doctors Without Borders, but he took his job very seriously and appeared to enjoy it. "Tell you something, you could shower and shave at my place. We can drive to Mum's tomorrow."
"You sure they won't be expecting us sooner?" Malcolm asked.
Murdo shook his head. "No, I'll call Hamish. I'm sure he will understand." He was about to dial the number when a familiar and not altogether welcome voice interrupted him.
"Macbeth, funny seeing you here," Murdo looked up in nervousness to see his employers, Bryan Holland and Andrew Wilcox glancing at him.
Murdo stammered. "Mr. Holland; Mr. Wilcox, I'm surprised to see you myself. I am working! I just had a family errand. I have an emergency and won't be returning to work."
"We understand," Wilcox said trying to sound sympathetic. "We are on our way back to London."
"That's good," Murdo said awkwardly.
"Aren't you going to introduce us," Holland asked nodding at Malcolm.
Murdo laughed slightly embarrassed. "Oh Bryan Holland, Andrew Wilcox, this is my brother, Malcolm Macbeth. Malcolm, they are the heads of our company Mr. Holland and Mr. Wilcox."
"Pleasure to meet you, Macbeth," Holland said doing a slight laugh at the name.
"Grand to greet ya," Malcom said rolling the "r"' s in an exaggerated fashion. He stuck out his dirty hand. Both men gave it a glowering look but shook it. Murdo put his hand in front of his face mortified as his supervisors pulled away like they were asked to hold a stick of dynamite. Holland in particular looked like he was about to be sick.
"Well we must be going," Wilcox said. "It was an um pleasure to meet you; Macbeth." Holland and Wilcox walked away. When they were further along, Malcolm snickered.
"If I had known that I would be in the presence of Royalty, I would have dressed appropriately," he said with an exaggerated bow.
Murdo shook his head. "Don't mind them. Let's go."
"Oh and Macbeth," Holland called. Murdo and Malcolm turned around. "We offer our sympathies over the death of your father." The dark haired businessman turned with his partner heading for their flight.
Malcolm faced his brother, his mouth hanging open. "How did they- Did you tell him?"
Murdo shook his head, but didn't look surprised. "No, I just told them a family emergency. I didn't use any specifics. The only one I told was a co-worker. But you will find in this day and age a lot of people know things that they shouldn't."
"That tracking system thingie," Malcolm said. "The one Robyn talks about Total something?"
Murdo nodded. "TIA, it will protect us from terrorists, track missing people. It will be better for this country in the long run."
"You sound like someone trying to convince yourself," Malcolm said putting his hand on his brother's shoulder.
Murdo cleared his throat glowering at how close to the truth his brother was getting. "We're not here for this. Shouldn't we be talking about Dad? My car's outside. Let's get to my place."
Malcolm shrugged and collected his bags as his brother led him through the gray Edinburgh afternoon.
Hamish walked back into the house, his hands filled with mail. He glanced through sorting the post that was for his mother and father. He glanced at a fishing magazine that was addressed to his father. I guess he won't need that now, he thought. No, don't think about that. He hurriedly flipped through the rest of the mail. Sandwiched between a bill and an advertisement for a children's charity, Hamish saw a letter that was addressed to him! Who could have sent me something here?, he thought. He pulled out the letter. Sure enough it was addressed to him care of his mother's house. The letter was in a plain envelope with no return address. With shaking hands, Hamish opened the envelope and read the contents:
Your suspicions were correct. It wasn't just a random robbery that killed your father. Check the police records for August 12-15, this year. You will find them very enlightening.
The letter was unsigned and typed. The door to his mother's room opened and the constable could hear footsteps coming down the stairs. Hamish hid the mysterious letter in his pocket as Doc Brown approached him. "I gave her a sedative," he said. "She should be sleeping now."
Hamish nodded. "Thank you and thank you for coming. Hell of a time for her regular doctor to be on vacation. I'm sorry to drag you here."
The dark-haired doctor shook his head. "No, you're my friend. I'm just glad to help." He took out a few samples of pills. "You should give these to her, every four hours. It might do you some good to take them yourself. How are you holding up?"
Hamish shook his head. He suddenly felt exhausted. "Trying to hold myself together as much as I can, you know. The rest of my family should be arriving soon."
"That's good," Doc replied. "Please let us know when the funeral is going to be. Me and the rest of the gang talked about it and we want to form a party to come."
Hamish shook his head. "That won't be necessary. The funeral will be here. My folks hadn't lived in Lochdubh in years. None of you have to come."
"We're your friends," Doc said. "We're coming."
Hamish smiled. "Thank you," he said.
"You're welcome and someone else has been missing you too," he opened the front door and whistled. A familiar panting dog ran into the house and leapt up to the police officer's arms.
"Jock!" Hamish held the Westie tightly as the dog lapped his master's face. "It's okay. I miss your granddad too."
Doc smiled and gave a slight chuckle. "I will be off." He opened the door to see a red-haired woman approach. She held the hand of a small boy. Two other children walked beside her.
"Fee- uh I mean Mrs. Campbell, it's good to see you again," Doc stammered."Congratulations on your upcoming event and my condolences. "
"Thank you, Doc," Fee responded. Her soft voice was tinged with sadness and exhaustion. "I appreciate it."
She shepherded the children into the house as Doc left. Fee embraced her older brother tightly finally letting the tears that she was trying to hide come. "I can't believe it," she said.
"I know, I know," Hamish soothed his sister. "It will be alright. You'd better sit. This can't be good for my wee nephew." He placed his hand on his sister's swollen belly. She was very fragile right now. She didn't need another blow like this with her husband away. Fee lowered her body onto a nearby chair as Hamish hugged his nephew, Joe Jr. and his youngest brother, Alec, and sister, Murron.
The Macbeth siblings were split down the middle in looks. Fee, Robyn, Malcolm, and Murdo all favored their mother with their red hair and taller frames, while Hamish, Alec, and Murron looked more like their father with their smaller frames and sandy hair. It wasn't unusual for Hamish to take Alec and Murron on outings and a stranger would assume that they were his son and daughter. Sometimes Hamish would politely correct them. Other times if he was feeling mischievous he would say something like "Yeah, and they had better behave themselves or they'll be hearing it from me and their mum when they get home," always earning an embarrassed eye roll and comment from Alec.
"It's not true is it, Hamish?" Murron said. Though 11, she had a childlike lilt to her voice making her sound younger than she was. "Alec said that Dad isn't coming back!"
Hamish glared at his younger brother. Alec was 13 and had the typical teenager attitude. Alec and Murron lived with their older sister and brother-in-law. After their mother's stroke, their father found it impossible to deal with them so they moved in with Fee and Joe. Hamish was a frequent visitor and allowed the younger siblings to visit him quite often.
"Well its true isn't it?" Alec asked.
"Yes," Hamish said. "But I'm sure you probably upset her."
Alec glared at him. Despite the situation, Hamish couldn't resist a nostalgic grin. The way that Alec glared at authority figures reminded him of his long-gone brother, Ian. He always stared any adversary down daring them to make the first move. "I told her the truth."
Hamish turned to his sister. "Yes, Murrie, it's true. Dad isn't coming back."
"Why?" Murron's large eyes wavered with tears and her lip shook.
Hamish shrugged. Murron had the mentality of a 6 year old and because of her size a lot of people assumed she was younger than she was. Did he address this question as the 11 year old she was or the 6 year old she seemed to be? He decided on the latter approach. "Well you know there are some terrible people who want something that others have," he said. "Sometimes, they become angry for some reason and they don't care about who they hurt."
"But you will find out who did it right?" Joe Jr. asked. This time all three children looked at Hamish.
"I will find out, I promise," Hamish said. He cleared his throat. "Have any of you eaten? I will put something together. "
He wandered into the kitchen with Jock following close behind. He heat up cans of soup for his sisters, brother, and nephew. The family then heard the front door open. "Knock knock," a voice said. A young woman with black clothing and her hair dyed in jet black with red streaks entered. She was hand in hand with a blond woman who was maintaining a respectful distance.
"Robey," Murron said. She ran up to her older sister. Alec tried to look cool, but clapped Robyn on the hand. She gripped her brother on the shoulder. Robyn hugged the younger children, then Fee and Hamish. "How's mum? What happened?" she asked.
"Mum's upstairs asleep," Hamish replied. "Dad was stabbed. They think it was a robbery, but I don't know."
"You'll find out I'm sure of it," Robyn said. "You're one of the few fascist police officers I can actually stomach." Even though she was a political activist, Hamish knew his sister was teasing.
"I'm sorry this is for family only," Fee said giving the other woman a withering glance.
"I came with Robyn," the woman said with a soft Australian accent.
"Marcia is family," Robyn replied. "She's welcome to stay here. She said with your husband gone, at least one of us should have our spouse with us."
"You two aren't married," Fee said through clenched teeth at her wilder sister. "Don't compare your relationship to mine!"
"Since when does that matter and for your information we had a civil ceremony last year," Robyn remarked.
"Congratulations," Hamish said trying to keep the peace between the two sisters.
"That's not a marriage," Fee replied.
"Because of Bible beaters like you that's all we get," Robyn snapped.
Fee was about to say something else when Hamish stood between his two sisters. "Fionnulla, Robyn, you both have very strong opinions and no one appreciates that more than I do. But this is hardly the time or the place to air them!" He turned to Marcia. "I'm sorry Marcia that you had to come here and see my sisters at their worst." Privately, Hamish considered himself conservative about the issue of homosexuality but he knew that these arguments may have cost the Macbeth family one sibling. He didn't want to see it happen again.
"That's alright, Mr. Macbeth," the blonde woman said dryly. "I should be used to it by now."
"Hamish please," the constable said. He liked his sister-in-law instantly. She had natural warmth that a lot of people immediately gravitated towards. Fee and Robyn sat across from each other occasionally hitting one another with angry looks, but at least biting their tongues.
"When are Murdo and Malcolm coming?" Robyn asked.
"Tomorrow, apparently," Hamish said. "Malcolm's flight came in late and Murdo suggested that he rest before they got here. I can't blame them."
The sisters and Marcia nodded. "We need to make some plans," Fee said. "Have you contacted any of the other relatives, aunts, uncles?"
Hamish shook his head. "I figured we can wait on that until we all got here and divide them up amongst ourselves. I did call the church for the funeral though. " He stood up. "Can you excuse me for a minute? I will be right back."
"Hamish, where are you going?" Robyn asked.
"I'm doing my job," Hamish replied shortly. He drove his car to the police station.
Lynn Forsyte, the clerk for the Rogart constabulary, listened as the man spoke on the phone with a tone of impatience and with more than a little condescendence. "A man will come here asking for information. You are to give him whatever he asks for. Do you understand me?"
"How will I know this man when I see him?," Lynn asked.
"He's a police constable from some town, somewhere. He's short sandy hair-" He continued to describe him.
"Is he a relative?" the woman dryly asked.
"If he were, I'd have told you," the man snapped."That is none of your business! What is your business is what he asks for! You are also not to tell him anything about me, do I make myself perfectly clear?"
"Well if you're going to be like that-"Lynn began, but that was as far as she got. The man hung up. Good riddance, she thought, he was rude! She wouldn't have even agreed, except the man knew about her fiancé's criminal record. (Not really a record, Danny was just politically active and involved in various demonstrations.) Of course that complicated her position at the police department.
She glowered at the strange visit as she returned to her work. She placed a folder in the file cabinet when a softer voice interrupted her. "Excuse me," the man said. "I would like your help."
Lynn glanced over at the visitor. "What can I do for you?" she asked.
"My name is Police Constable Hamish Macbeth," the man said. He showed her his badge and his I.D. card. "I need some information for a case that I am working on." Hamish waited patiently as she scanned the card. The smaller polices stations like Lochdubh were not scanning for I.D.'s . Yet, Hamish thought.
"What do you need?" Lynn asked.
"Police records from August 12-15," he said. "I wish I could tell you more than that."
Lynn shrugged and opened the file cabinet. "Here you are. Anything else?"
Hamish shook his head. "No, that will be all. Thank you for your help." He gave a small sad smile as he accepted the file.
Hamish finished reading the file, when he saw DI Henderson appear. The gray haired detective looked as old as he had the night he led Hamish and his mother to his father's body.
"Need something Macbeth?" Henderson asked.
Hamish glared. He was furious at this man. "Just catching up on reading like why you didn't see fit to tell me about Ben Al-Harrad?" He gave him the file marked August 12. Henderson flipped through the papers as Hamish continued to speak. "He was killed the exact same way and found in the exact same place as my father only two weeks before and you don't think that there is a connection?"
Henderson shook his head. "Ben Al-Harrad's murder was seen as a robbery and a hate crime. We didn't make the connection."
Hamish nodded. "I see, stabbed three times, nothing was taken, no witnesses, found in the same warehouse. I'm sure his family accepted your condolences."
"Actually his brother came and sent him back to Armenia or wherever his family was from," Henderson said testily. "His widow was unable to come to this country. They were just glad that he was found. Mr. Macbeth you have my sympathies. But, are you sure that you aren't searching for patterns that aren't there?"
Hamish rubbed his forehead. He didn't usually pursue a murder like this, but this was his father for crying out loud. Exhaustion filled him. He had only slept four hours in the past 36. The grief was beginning to overwhelm him. There wasn't much that he could do here. He had one last card to play.
Hamish arrived outside the warehouse where his father and Mr. Al-Harrad were killed. He spoke to a man who lived nearby. "I remember the foreign feller," he said. "He was arguing with someone- a man I think- I don't know he was hidden. But the voice sounded like one of those voice disguisers, you know like on TV? So it could be a woman. Anyway, the other person shoved him inside the warehouse. "
"And you didn't see the other person?" Hamish asked.
The man shook his head. "No, they were all in black, even covered their face. The guy was old, so they didn't have to shove him too far you know?"
"Did you hear anything about what they were saying?" Hamish asked.
The man shook his head. "No, they were arguing in another language I think."
"You can't remember anything?" Hamish asked. "Anything might help."
"I remember the other person saying in English something about the feller deserving this and he agreed. But that's it."
Hamish walked inside the warehouse. He glanced up and down at the walls. The stench of urine and God knew what else was overpowering. He knelt down at the blood that had stained the floor. For all he knew it could have been his fathers'. "Who has access to this warehouse?" Hamish asked the man.
The man shrugged. "I dunno. It used to belong to a shipping company, but it closed down years ago. It's condemned, I think. "
What's the connection? The constable thought to himself. Why did Dad and Mr. Al-Harrad die here? He absently ran his hands along the ground until they touched an object. With shaking hands, Hamish picked up his father's glasses. The constable's eyes filled as he examined the bent pieces and the glass that had long fallen out.
Hamish held onto the glasses as he stepped outside the warehouse. He walked over to his Land Rover and fished out his keys. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a dark-haired woman in black watching the warehouse. She kept her distance, but Hamish could tell that she was watching him. He walked towards her as a bus pulled by. When the bus roared past, the woman was gone.
The funeral was packed. For such a quiet man, Angus Macbeth had many friends and a large family. Upon Murdo and Malcolm's arrival, the Macbeth siblings had contacted the relatives and their father's and mother's friends. They had also arranged for him to be buried at the local Protestant church in Rogart overlooking a nearby field that grew heather in the spring. (It was meaningful since their father proposed to their mother in a heather field.) Mrs. Macbeth remained calm through most of the visitation, only sobbing when her eldest son gave her husband's glasses. Clearly the grief of losing her husband was wearing on her. Occasionally, Hamish or one of the other siblings would catch her looking around as if she were waiting for their father to appear. She had lost much of the friendly warm charm and enthusiasm that she was known for.
Hamish greeted visitors as they arrived at the church. He embraced his friends from Lochdubh including as promised Doc, the MacRaes, Anderson, Rory Campbell, Esme Maury, The Meldrums, and Isobel.
"I didn't think that you'd come," Hamish said to Isobel.
"Wasn't sure I would either," the small woman said as he hugged her boyfriend. "I just wanted to be here for you and your family."
"I'm glad you did," he said. He impulsively hugged her again but then pulled away. Ever since they lost their baby, they had said plenty of things to each other in anger only to take them back later. Maybe this would be a time to start over, but not now.
Hamish wasn't surprised that either of his ex-girlfriends, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe or Alex McLean hadn't showed up. He had remained on friendly terms with both women, but hadn't seen either in a while. Priscilla had married a public defense attorney and now lived most of the time in London. Alex in particular had a stormy current life. Her father had disowned her after she married "a foreigner" and hadn't returned home in awhile. Nobody even knew where she lived now.
Hamish's friends moved inside the church. The constable glanced at the parking lot as a man and two women approached the church. The man was dark haired and dressed in a fancy black suit. He gave the church a withering glance as he held the younger woman's hand. She was dressed in a plain black dress and her hair was in a ponytail. And older woman stood behind them dressed in a fancy black pantsuit. Her hair was cropped short. "Mr. Macbeth," she said smartly. "You don't know me, but I worked with your father once. My name is Susan McArdle. When we heard, well we felt like we just had to come."
"You felt like you had to come," the young man interrupted her. He had a very posh accent. "I had no intention to come to this hole in the earth." Despite his father's funeral, Hamish had an urge to punch this man.
"It ain't so bad," the younger woman said with a Northern English accent, near Liverpool, Hamish would have guessed. "It's like a lot of the towns I grew up near." Hamish liked her immediately.
"Gabriel, hush," Susan said as though Gabriel were a small child. "Excuse my son's manners. Honestly, I don't know what Nicole-sorry Mr. Macbeth my son, Gabriel and my daughter-in-law, Nicole- sees in you." The younger woman smiled thinly but didn't say anything. "Anyway, your father recommended me for a job when I was younger and I never forgot his kindness. I thought I could repay him."
Hamish nodded. "Of course, you are certainly welcome. He often did things like that for people. Right in there, just sit wherever you want." He watched as the woman walked in. He noticed Gabriel take Nicole's hand but she pushed it away.
The trio no sooner walked into the church when two other strangers arrived. This one was an older gray haired man and a younger muscular blond man. "Mr. Macbeth," the older man said. "I served in the military with your father. My son, Martin, and I would like to pay our respects."
Hamish nodded. The man had a very authoritarian voice and demeanor. "Of course you may – I'm sorry what's your name and rank?"
The man shook his head. "I retired long ago, no need for rank. Brandell's the name, John Brandell." He shook the constable's hand.
"Pleasure," Martin said. He spoke very quietly as though distracted. When he shook Hamish's hand, the constable felt a slight pain as though he held his hand too tightly.
"Pleasure for both of you," Hamish agreed. "You may sit anywhere you like." The father and son walked into the church. Hamish noticed that they made a beeline exactly where Susan, and her son and daughter-in-law were seated. Susan gave the older man a wide berth, but he sat next to her without any comment. When Hamish was sure that there were no more visitors, he shut the door and walked to the front of the church to sit next to his mother and siblings.
The funeral was a moving ceremony, with some doses of humor as friends and family recalled the elder Macbeth's moments. Hamish, Fee, and Murdo spoke on behalf of their father. Malcolm led the congregation on some of their father's favorite folk songs and current favorite songs like "Long Black Train," "The Dance" and some Bob Dylan songs. Robyn and Marcia revealed a collage that they had made of photographs of the area and of the elder Macbeth, which they said will be hung at the local pub.
Hamish stood near his father's grave as the crowd had begun to dissipate. He hugged a few more funeral goers before he sank down to his father's grave. Hamish had so far maintained a strong front through being around his mum, his siblings, and investigating his father's death, but now his emotions were beginning to erupt. Tears began to form in his eyes. He tried to hold them back, but now knew it was useless. He let them fall onto the concrete slab that listed his father's birth and death dates. The constable finally broke down as memories of the good man who taught him to fish, hunt, lectured him when he did wrong, but was never afraid to show his affection filled him. This is one case that I have to solve, he thought. I can't let my final promise to my father end like this.
"Such a large affair for such a quiet man," a familiar booming voice interrupted the constable. Hamish looked up and wiped his eyes. He smiled as he saw his Uncle Lennox!
"Uncle Len," he said clasping his uncle on the shoulder. "We called you but-"
"- Aye, I understand laddie," Lennox Macbeth said warmly, but sadly. "There probably wasn't much thought that I would attend." The white haired man was dressed in his customary black. He always looked to Hamish like someone who would be at home carrying a sword.
"I'm sorry, Uncle," Hamish said trying to wipe his tears.
Lennox nodded. "Just compose yourself, Hamish, however long it takes."
While the uncle and nephew were talking, the other siblings looked in surprise. Murdo and Malcolm exchanged wary glances. Fee's mouth dropped open as she talked to some of her friends. Alec played with Murron and Joe Jr. to distract them sometimes hitting Lennox with a confused stare.
"Who's that?" Marcia asked her life partner as she glanced at the older man in surprise.
"Family recluse," Robyn answered. "Hamish invited him, but I didn't think that he would come. I'd only seen him once or twice." Lennox was actually a distant cousin of their father's, so he said, but the children always referred to him as Uncle Lennox or Uncle Len. A university professor in New York, Lennox hadn't appeared for many family gatherings. Once their father explained that after Len had lost his wife and son a long time ago, he felt it hard to visit Scotland. But he sometimes visited. Hamish and his brother, Ian, often listened to his tales of battles, warriors, magic, particularly his stories of gargoyles. But his visits became fewer and fewer, in fact the younger siblings barely knew him. Funny, Hamish thought, Uncle Len had always seemed the same age however many years I knew him.
"I never got on with your father, "Lennox began. "There were many things that we disagreed about. But under the circumstances-"
"-I understand," Hamish said. "Actually I'm glad you're here." He left the rest of his sentence hanging in the air.
"Is there something else that you want to ask me?" Lennox asked.
Hamish looked down. His uncle had a tendency to know exactly what his younger relatives were doing. He said it came from practice from being around for so long it was easy to call someone's bluff.
Hamish sighed. He knew with Uncle Len, it was better to get to the point. "You were close to Ian when he was living here. I don't think that there was anyone he confided in more, I mean except me of course."
"Aye," Macbeth said to his nephew his eyebrow raised in suspicion.
"I just figured, if you know where he is then you could tell him about Dad. I want to but I don't have any way of reaching him."
Lennox sighed. "Hamish, we have been over this. Even if I knew how to reach your brother, I wouldn't. "
"But he is out there," Hamish said. "We don't have any proof that he died. He could be out there somewhere and I would think that he has the right to know that his father is dead."
"Hamish," Lennox held up his hand as though the constable were a disobedient child. "What did your father always tell you about Ian?"
"But-" Hamish interrupted.
"-Hamish," Lennox warned.
Hamish sighed. "That he was dead to us and never to look for him."
Lennox Macbeth nodded. "Right, don't you think that you should honor your father's wishes on this matter?"
Hamish looked down at his scuffed shoes and nodded as Lennox continued. "Believe me, lad, I know how you feel. But what happened with Ian hurt your father more than he cared to admit. But sometimes the past is better left alone."
"You're right, Uncle Len," Hamish said. Privately, he hoped that if he ever did see Ian again that he would tell him himself.
Hamish staggered into his mother's house. The funeral and the encounters with his friends and family, particularly Uncle Lennox drained him. He felt like he couldn't get ahead no matter what he did. He took out a pad of paper and wrote the names Angus Macbeth and Ben Al-Harrad on paper. What did these two men have in common and who could have killed them? The phone's ring broke him out of his thoughts. He walked over to the phone and answered. "Hello?" he asked.
"Macbeth did you receive my notice?" an unrecognizable voice asked. Hamish gulped. He didn't recognize the person, but he knew it had to be the man who sent him the note.
"Yes, I found Ben Al-Harrad," Hamish replied. "Who did this? You know!"
"That's too easy," the voice said. "The dead no longer matter-"
"-What do you mean one of them was my father!" Hamish said.
"-And Al-Harrad was also someone's father, your point being?" the voice corrected sharply. "-Do you want to protect the living or not?"
"Yes," Hamish said. "There will be more?"
"The next will come in threes, look for someone that you didn't recognize at the funeral," Lennox said.
"You can protect them, especially her. She will be next."
Hamish thought. "Either Susan or Nicole McArdle isn't it?" he said aloud. They seemed suspicious to him.
"That's all I will give you," the voice answered. "Just do what I tell you." The phone call ended with a dull tone.
David Russell ended the call then removed the scrambler from the phone so that no one could spy on him or trace the call. So far, Hamish was doing exactly what he told him. He knew that the constable would need some assistance to get moving, but he will do fine on his own. The agent looked to make sure that he wasn't watched. So far, he was alone in this but that didn't mean that he wasn't being trailed and in this day and age of TIA, they could trail him without physically following him. He lowered his head and walked making sure that he didn't make eye contact with anyone. The best cover was to look like someone who was despondent. Occasionally, he let out a "how dare those bastards fire me?" to an onlooker. It wasn't a good cover, but it was enough for now.
"I suppose you think you are pretty clever, eh, Ian?" a familiar brogue asked. David sighed and turned around.
"Hello Lennox," he said to his uncle. Well many times great-grandfather, technically.