Falling Apples
By Biku

Benton Fraser walked out of the cabin into the fresh winter air. He breathed deeply, letting the cold seep into his lungs like a slap to the face. The air of the Yukon was very good at waking you up; especially a February morning like today.

Fraser stepped back inside, making sure the door was closed well behind him. He didn't want any drafts. His dog, Mac, lifted his head up for a puzzled moment, but rested again when he knew it was only his master up for the morning.

"Ben, sweetheart, come back to bed," his wife Katherine yawned. Fraser had to admit the bed with its nice warm blankets and even warmer woman looked extremely tempting.

"I've got to get the wood chopped," he said with a sigh, "we can't stay in bed all day."

"You can't, maybe," Kath replied with a yawn and a grin. "I feel perfectly capable of it."

Fraser smiled, and pulled on his boots. Instantly, Mac was up and alert. "Nope, no hunting right now, Mac," Fraser said. Mac looked disappointed, and sulked back to his nest of worn out blankets and curled up, furry tail around his nose.

Fraser put on his jacket and stepped outside, regretting not having the ability to procrastinate and go back to bed. But if it was one thing he lacked, it was the ability to put anything else before duty. Even Katherine.

He reflected grimly on his wife as he chopped the wood. He loved her, and she loved him, and he knew that, sure as he knew anything. And yet he wondered if there was anything more cruel than the sort of life she would now have to lead: a life in the wilderness, frequently alone, while her Mountie husband ran around the countryside, getting his man.

But she had excepted him, and his lifestyle, even before they were married. She knew what was to be expected of her, and she had risen to the occasion.

He stopped chopping for a moment to look at the cabin that he had built, with his own two hands. Well, his best friend had helped, long before they had lost touch. He reflected on those seemingly carefree days before returning to his chopping, finding a bit of solace in the work. It hadn't been twenty minutes before the sweat was dropping off his face from the exertion. He was getting old.

Mac started barking from the inside, wanting to be let out. Fraser put down the axe to let the husky out, and out he came, bounding like some-over grown puppy having its first day in the snow.

"Mac," Fraser said disapprovingly. The dog was no where near as serious as his father had been, but then, no one could hold a candle to Mac's father. The best dog in the Territories, it was said, and not just by Fraser, either.

The wood chopped, Fraser began stacking it along the side wall of the cabin. He put away the axe and whistled for Mac to come back, the dog having run off. He trotted back obediently with a rabbit in his mouth. Fraser laughed. Mac dropped the rabbit at Fraser's feet, wagging his tail. Fraser rubbed the dog's head, then picked up the rabbit. They'd have it for breakfast.

Constable Benton Fraser sat behind his desk, wondering what the delay was with his supervisor. He needed to get going. He had promise Katherine that he would be home for Christmas. He had promised her that he would be home for Thanksgiving as well. But more delays, more cases kept piling up on his desk, more than he could possibly ever turn away from. Duty demanded that he stay; and he would. He always did.

His inspector poked his head around the door. At Fraser's hopeful look, the inspector shook his head. Fraser's request had been denied. Fraser would not be going home.

Fraser sighed. He leaned back in his chair, and fumed. He wanted to be home, right now, curled up with his wife in front of the fire with his wife. Katherine...

He took out the half-used pad of paper and tore off a few sheets. He knew the letters he sent every day were no alternative to his being at home with her, but he tried the best he could. He could do no less. Ever.

Fraser walked through the door, tossing his satchel on the chair by the door. He didn't even bother to take off his shoes or hat before walking into the kitchen.

"Ben!" Katherine cried, running and hugging him. She was crying. So was he.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a small movement, and turned to see his small son, barely five, watching the display.

"Hello son," he said softly. The boy looked confused, and began to back away. Katherine gave Fraser a gentle push towards their child.

"It's your father, Benton," she said quietly, "Don't you remember?" It had been Katherine's idea to name their son after him. So that there was at least one Benton Fraser around the house, Fraser thought grimly.

The boy was watching the strange man crouched in front of him warily, but memories seemed to be surfacing, and finally, he ran forward to hug his father, whom he barely knew.

The young Benton was indignant, wanting to run after the mean bully that had beaten up one of his neighbours. The family had moved from the wilderness to one of the small towns. Fraser Sr. had gotten a transfer, and for a while, the family lived as most normal families did. Benton had made friends with a small Inuit boy who lived next to the Frasers, and a young bully had just roughed up the boy. Fraser was ready to take off after the bully and demand justice. Fraser was proud, but not too proud to hold back his son.

"Careful now, son," he said. "Violence doesn't solve anything. Use your head."

"How?" Benton huffed.

"Talk to someone who can talk to that boy's parents, for one. Never be afraid to look for justice, son, but always be careful. That boy is twice your height and twice your age. Trying to beat him up would be useless. It wouldn't help your friend and it would get you hurt in the process. There are easier ways."

"Can you talk to his parents, Dad?" the boy asked earnestly.

"That I can, son, that I can." Fraser replied, a smile on his face as he ruffled his hair and sent him off to play.

As he got up, he noticed Katherine standing in the door, watching with a sad expression on her face.

"Why so glum, Kath?" he asked. "That boy's got real fire in him--he'd make a mighty good mountie."

"Just like his father," she replied, a wan smile on her face. She hadn't been feeling very well lately, and it was taking a lot out of her.

"`The apple never falls far from the tree'." Fraser quoted happily. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and went inside the house. Katherine stayed an extra moment, watching her son play. Then his Inuit friend was suddenly called into the house, and he was left alone. He stood dejectedly for a moment before running off to play in the trees in the yard by himself. Katherine sighed, and went in the house.

The End