|Primary Characters:||Fischer, Helene La Cour, La Cour
|Description:||Fischer has some bad news and is devastated. La Cour is busy in court all day and can’t come to see him. Helene La Cour decides something has to be done.
Fischer watched the phone for at least a minute, before he remembered where he was, and hung up. He’d just come out of the shower and was about to get ready for work. But work was the last thing on his mind at the moment. Tears stung his eyes and he felt completely helpless.
Ten minutes earlier he’d felt pretty good. The night before he’d had phone sex with his boyfriend, Thomas La Cour, from Denmark – a good thing he got paid as well as he did. Today he was about to begin a new assignment, that he considered far more interesting than what he’d been doing the first couple of months at his new job.
The weather was nice and the following weekend La Cour would at last be able to leave his wife and the little girls to come for a visit. It would be the first time since they’d given in to their feelings for each other.
Now – his world was falling apart around him again. When he’d picked up the receiver he’d half expected it to be La Cour again. Maybe to wish him good luck with his new work. He’d been about to call and ask his lover how he felt about the big murder trial he’d be testifying in.
But the voice on the other end of the line had been not La Cour’s, but his ex wife’s. Quickly and unemotionally she’d told him that their son had appendicitis. The appendix had burst and as she was speaking, the boy was being wheeled into the operating theatre for emergency surgery. That was all. Nothing about how bad it was, or the risks that there would be complications like peritonitis, or anything about what the chances were of a complete recovery.
Before she hung up on him, without waiting for a reply, she added that she didn’t want him there. He still wasn’t welcome.
It felt as if something tore inside of him. The pure physical pain almost made him double over. His boy, who he hadn’t been allowed to see for such a long time, could be dying. When would his ex contact him, if that was the case? Would she be in touch if the child survived?
Eventually he sank down on a chair, close to the phone, trying to decide what to do. If he hurried, he could be back in Denmark in a few hours’ time, provided he could get a plane tickett. Going by train would take longer.
But if he came to the hospital would he be allowed to wait outside the operating theatre with his ex wife? Would she refuse to let him be present at a time like this? The thought of travelling so far, only to be turned away, made him hesitate.
Despite that, he called and inquired about a plane ticket. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one available until around two in the afternoon. It was only nine or so in the morning. He hadn’t checked, but he was due at work at nine, and if the phone call hadn’t come, he would have been there with plenty of time to spare.
At three, three thirty, it might all be over, no matter what the outcome. The hand clutching the receiver shook. Though nothing do with his work ever scared him, he was now completely terrified. Somehow, he’d never imagined that the boy would die and leave him behind. The opposite had seemed far more likely – that something to do with his work might kill him and leave the boy fatherless.
Eventually, he did what he’d grown used to in the past couple of months – he dialled La Cour’s number. There was something so amazingly reassuring about La Cour’s apparent calm. By now, he knew that the facade hid emotional chaos, but even so, La Cour usually managed to help him when he was haunted by the memories of his time in jail.
The phone kept on ringing. Had La Cour already left for the courthouse? Then someone picked up. It was Helene, La Cour’s wife. Once again, feelings of guilt towards this woman, whose husband he was now sharing with her, tormented Fischer. She had recently given birth to two children, La Cour’s children and yet he and her husband were having a relationship.
Still, simply hanging up didn’t feel right. Besides, La Cour could still be around somewhere and Helene would be able to turn the receiver over to him.
“It’s me – Allan.”
“Hi, Allan. I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Thomas has just left for the courthouse.”
When Fischer didn’t reply, Helene tried again.
“Are you alright? Is anything wrong?”
He hesitated. When he’d grabbed the phone, he’d only had one thought in his mind. Telling La Cour everything and by doing so once again feel secure. La Cour would make everything alright again. But that was just stupid and immature. His lover was a fantastic human being, but he was neither omnipotent or a magician.
But he had to talk to someone. Helene might understand. She was a parent herself, and besides, she was much closer to the hospital where his son was fighting for his life, than he was.
“It’s my son. He – my ex wife just called and told me he’s undergoing surgery. His appendix has burst. She told me I wasn’t welcome there. I thought – I wanted to -”
“You wanted to discuss it with Thomas. That’s understandable. I’m terribly sorry, for what happened to your son and because I can’t help you. Thomas will be busy in court all day. Perhaps there’s something I could do?”
“That’s very kind of you, but I don’t see what that might be.”
Helene could tell from Fischer’s voice that he was close to breaking point. She already knew that he’d been devastated when his ex wife had reacted negatively to the news of his relationship with another man. Obviously this – the risk of losing his little son – was even worse. For a long time now, Helene had been warning her husband that his lover might become suicidal or prone to other self destructive behaviour.
Since she knew and liked Allan Fischer, regardless of his relationship with her husband, impulsively she felt she couldn’t let him go through this alone.
“I can come to you.”
There was another silence. Come to the Hague? Was that even possible? Her husband was in court and she was home alone with two babies.
“Helene, that’s – I can’t ask that of you. Your little girls -”
“My mother has been telling me how much she’d like to babysit. She can do that now.”
“But – what about breast feeding and so on?”
Fischer broke off uncertainly. Did you discuss breast feeding with a woman you weren’t married to?
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll manage. Besides, you could come here.”
“I’ve already inquired about tickets and I can’t get one until around two this afternoon.”
“Right. I’ll come to you and then we’ll see if we can fly back together later. In the meantime, I’ll get to work on your wife. She can’t treat you like this.”
“I let her down before so -”
“That’s got nothing to do with this. Allan, I’m hanging up now. There are a couple of things I need to do. I’ll call you before I leave. Oh, by the way, can you call in sick?”
“What? Oh, sure. But seriously – Helene – surely you can’t -”
“Why not? I’m not going to leave you alone at a time like this. Thomas wouldn’t want that. I’ll be there. End of discussion.”
“Oh, well, in that case – You know where to find me?”
“Yes. I hope you don’t mind, but Thomas told me.”
“Of course not.”
“Stay where you are and just sit tight. I’ll be there in a couple of hours.”
As it happened, things could be organized in just the way Helene had outlined. Besides, she didn’t even have enough milk for the girls so they were already used to the formula. It would be just as easy for her mother to give them that.
Three hours later Helene was in a taxi on her way to Fischer’s flat. By then she’d already been in touch with his ex-wife and been told that the boy’s condition was stable, but still serious. She hadn’t even tried to argue about the injustice in refusing a father access to his son’s hospital bed. She’d get round to that later. For now, she’d worry about the father.
She rang the doorbell and it opened almost at once. Fischer had changed since they’d last met. He seemed to have lost weight and there were more scars on his face than she remembered. Her husband’s lover was close to breaking point. So tense, Helene was afraid he’d burst a blood vessel or suffer a heart attack.
Fischer felt as guilty as if he’d been facing his own wife, or rather ex. He couldn’t see how it was possible that Helene could be so tolerant and kind as she was. It didn’t seem as if she was the least bit upset by having to share her husband with another man.
“May I come in?”
Fischer blushed and stepped aside to let her through. Why hadn’t he thought of that himself?
“First I’d just like to tell you that your son is out of surgery and that his condition is serious, but stable. Exactly what that means I can’t tell you, but it sounds promising, doesn’t it?”
“How did you find out?”
“I called the hospital and asked to speak to your ex wife, of course. At least she didn’t refuse to speak to me.”
“What did she tell you?”
“Only what I told you. Of course she sounded tense and worried. No wonder. There. Can I ask you something else? Have you eaten anything at all today?”
“What? No. But that -”
“Of course you have to eat. Oh, by the way, I left a message for Thomas. It was a bit tricky, because naturally his colleagues don’t know about the two of you, but I told him not to worry, and try to get hold of me as soon as possible. I’m afraid I haven’t heard anything from him yet. Have you?”
“Is there anything to eat in your kitchen?”
Without waiting for a reply, Helene preceded him into what, exactly as she’d expected turned out to be the kitchen. She opened the fridge door and found a yoghurt, put it on the counter and began to search for a spoon, then opened the carton and handed it to Fischer. He accepted it seemingly without being aware of what he was doing.
“Do you mind if I get something myself? I didn’t have time to eat before I left and you know what sort of food they serve on the plane.”
“No, of course not. Help yourself.”
The whole situation felt unreal, but as long as he could get past the embarrassment of facing his lover’s wife, it was comforting to have someone around who seemed to be on his side.
“Go on then. Have some. There’s nothing wrong with that yoghurt I hope?”
“Oh, uh, no, I don’t think so. But I don’t think I could -”
“Of course you can. Try it.”
She made a quick survey of the contents of the fridge and came to the conclusion that Fischer must have quite a lot in common with her husband. His guy too, now. Thomas, at any rate, was quite good at cooking, but would leave the kitchen a complete mess, and he was terrible at shopping for groceries. In Fischer’s fridge there was nothing more than another yoghurt just like the first one. It looked quite tasty, but rather sweet. She decided to have it anyway. While she was eating, she had to keep reminding Fischer to have some as well. When she was finished, and she knew she couldn’t get Fischer to eat anything else, she suggested they sit down for a chat.
They went into the living room and sat down on a couch over by the window.
“So, your ex wife won’t let you see your son?”
“Why shouldn’t she? When she found out that I -”
“Hold on a sec. You were divorced. I know you cheated on her, but in any case that’s past history. You’re not married anymore. If you begin a new relationship, that’s hardly her business anymore, is it?”
“If I don’t mind, why should she?”
Fischer fell silent. That was the heart of the matter. Helene was married to the man he was involved with. Though it was hard for him to focus on anything but his concern for his son, he couldn’t help addressing the issue.
“Well, yeah, that’s it, isn’t?”
An embarrassed smile flickered across his lips.
Helene returned his smile without a trace of reproach.
“I don’t see how you can – I mean – aren’t you the least bit upset? Don’t you feel as if – I don’t know – as if I’ve come between you one way or another?”
“But you haven’t. We’re still just as happy together as before. I’ll admit that right at the start, before I learned all the facts, I felt a bit threatened. But now that I know the score, I’m not a bit upset. I’m happy for you. Do you think I’m strange?”
He could hardly say so. Still, wasn’t it a little unusual not to object to something like that?
“No, of course not. I’m very grateful and -”
“I can see what Thomas sees in you. But that’s not what we were going to discuss. Did you book a ticket back to Denmark?”
“Yes, I did, but I’m not sure if there’s any point. If I show up at the hospital, she might just tell me to leave again.”
“Actually she doesn’t have the right to do that. You’re the boy’s father. I’ll see if there’s a ticket for me too. Mine is a return ticket, but we’ll have to get on the same plane, so -.”
“Actually, I booked one for you too, just in case.”
“Excellent. I’ll call and rebook mine. Can I use your phone?”
“Of course. But that plane, the one leaving at around two – it was booked solid. Now we’re on for eight thirty tonight.”
“Oh, well. Nothing to be done about that. Of course we might find out about train tickets.”
“We could, but I’m guessing we’ll be even later then.”
“Right. Just a moment.”
She called and rebooked her ticket then covered the receiver with her hand and asked Fischer a question. He hadn’t been paying attention so he had to ask her to repeat it.
“They had two cancellations at a plane leaving at 6.40 pm. We’ll take that instead, right? Give me your details and I’ll see to it.”
When all the formalities had been dealt with, Fischer looked at his watch. It was already past one. It would have been hard to catch the plane leaving at around two.
Despite himself he was beginning to relax a little. Helene almost had the same soothing effect on him as La Cour. She was utterly different from his own ex wife. They were complete opposites. Despite her temperament Helene was open, tolerant and calm. She gave off a glow of warmth and inspired trust. Fischer knew it was an asset in her work, but he was hoping she wasn’t using her professional talents but that she was acting out of a genuine concern for him.
“How old is he?”
“Seven. I – have a photo around here somewhere. If I can just -”
Helene waited calmly while Fischer dug out a worn photo of a little boy of about six. It was a pretty little boy, looking quite a bit like his father.
“He’s pretty. You can see the resemblance.”
Fischer felt himself blushing again, even if he didn’t think Helene was teasing him or was even aware that what she’d said might be construed as a compliment.
To cover his embarrassment, he looked at the photo he was squeezing so hard he was crumpling one of the corners. He could easily remember the time it was taken. His wife had snapped it. He hadn’t even been present, but the boy had told him all the details about his sixth birthday. Apparently his stepfather had showered him with expensive gifts.
The stepfather – that pompous, stuck up creep – would be at the hospital. Most likely he already knew the reason why all contact between the biological father and the boy had been severed. The thought that the smug bastard knew and probably had judged him too, made it hard for Fischer to stay calm. It was so unfair and humiliating. Fortunately she wouldn’t have been able to tell him what had happened in jail.
The phone rang again and Fischer’s face, already pale, lost all colour. Helene was afraid he’d black out. He reached for the receiver and picked it up.
“Speaking. What? But what did the doctors say? Please, can’t I -”
But all he could hear was a very final click on the other end of the line, then nothing. The receiver slipped from his suddenly numb fingers. For a second he was swaying on his feet seemingly about to topple over.
Hastily Helene grabbed him and towed him back to the couch. She forced his head down between his knees, but for a second he seemed about to panic. His whole body tensed up so badly she was afraid he might physically attack her. Then he sank down, as if whatever strength he had had left him.
“Allan? What did she tell you? It was about your son, wasn’t it?”
“There’s been complications. I don’t know how bad. She wouldn’t say and she wouldn’t listen when I tried to ask her if she might reconsider about me joining her.”
“Of course you have a right to be there. Like I said, she doesn’t have the right to refuse. You’re his father. What else did she say?”
“I don’t know.”
The last bit came out like a sob. Helene put her arm around him and pulled him closer. Once again, he tensed up, but like before, after a while he slumped down, his head pressed to her shoulder.
“There. It might not be as bad as it sounds. Sounds to me as if she’s using the boy to get back at you.”
“But I did let her down.”
“Yes, a long time ago. Not now. In any case, you’re the boy’s father. Your relationship has nothing to do with the one you once had with her.”
Fischer let her hold him and stroke his hair. He didn’t want to let go. As long as he didn’t open his eyes again, as long as he was here, in her arms, he wouldn’t have to deal with the knowledge that his son might be –
Suddenly, he became conscious of her scent. It seemed like such a long time since he’d been close to a woman. Not that he was complaining about his lover. Their sex life was great, what little they’d had time for. Still, he couldn’t deny that there was something about a woman’s body that attracted him. He also became aware of how much he admired Helene. No other woman would have treated him this well after what he’d done to her.
Besides, it was hard to separate La Cour and his wife. Somehow, in his confused mind, they ended up being the same person. He loved her husband, her husband loved him, but also her. Didn’t that mean that he loved her too? The insight suddenly hit him. In just the short time they’d been together, he’d fallen blindly in love with her. That didn’t mean his feelings for La Cour had diminished. He still loved him just as much as before. The only difference was that now he loved the same woman he did.
Without knowing how it happened, he began to kiss her. She neither encouraged him or pushed him away, only shivered in such a way he suspected she was trying to hold back her own reaction.
He realized that there were no guarantees as to what that reaction was. Then, just as he was beginning to feel as if he ought to pull back, she returned the kiss and all other thoughts vanished. It was wonderful to be able to shut everything else out, and just focus on her body.
Then she began to squirm. She put a hand on his upper arm and patted it lightly.
He withdrew and studied her. She looked so – beautiful. Her cheeks had coloured and there was something about her lips that made him want to kiss her again, but he restrained himself. This wasn’t the right opportunity to start something new. Whatever had happened between them, had to wait.
“We should probably – what time is it?”
“I – don’t know. Hold on a sec. I’ll go and find out.”
He managed to get off the couch and went to look for his wrist watch. He hadn’t had time to put it on when his ex had phoned him.
“It’s twenty to three.”
“Oh. And Thomas hasn’t called you yet. He must be very busy. Most likely his partner hasn’t been able to reach him yet.”
“No. That’s possible.”
His lover’s name suddenly made him realize that he’d done it again. Cheated on someone he loved. That seemed to be in his nature. No wonder his ex wanted to punish him. How would Thomas react? Fischer realized he didn’t have a clue. There were times when his lover could be completely incomprehensible to him. It struck him that Helene would know, but he couldn’t ask her.
While they were waiting to go to the airport, their conversation felt strained. Fischer was torn between his guilt towards La Cour, his concern over his son and his attraction for Helene.
At last it was time to go. At Kastrup they took a cab into Copenhagen and told the driver to go straight to the hospital. Helene had found out what ward the boy was in so they went straight there.
Just as Fischer had imagined, his ex’s new boyfriend was there, but she didn’t seem to be around. He had to use all his willpower to continue walking up to the other guy, without showing any weakness.
He looked up, surprise written all over him.
“Allan? I thought – I mean -”
“She told you I wouldn’t be coming?”
“Well, you being in the Hague, I thought you wouldn’t be able to make it until later.”
“He’s my son. I couldn’t just sit around waiting. How is he?”
“Sounds as if he’s doing better. I mean she was allowed to go in and see him just now. That has to mean the crisis is over.”
Fischer felt his eyes fill up with tears and looked away, embarrassed. If Mogens noticed that, it would only serve to confirm the view he must have of his girlfriend’s ex. A weak, irresponsible fairy.
But Mogens didn’t seems quite as stuck up and pushy at the moment. Instead he asked Fischer to sit down and when he realized that Helene was with him, he let her have his own seat.
A little while later. his ex returned. At first she looked rather relieved, then she caught sight of Fischer. Her expression turned to displeasure.
“So you came after all. Where’s the boyfriend?”
Mogens looked embarrassed and took a few steps in the direction of the coffee machine.
“Well? Why do you have to say for yourself? Didn’t I tell you not to come? We don’t need you here. Can’t you see that we’re doing great without you? My son doesn’t need a father like you. Mogens is much better at that than you’ll ever be. So you might as well go back to him. Your boyfriend. Perhaps you can have children together somehow? In any case -”
Without Fischer notiding, Helene had moved closer. She put a comforting hand on his arm, but passed him and faced his ex. The two women studied each other appraisingly.
“So who are you then?”
“My name is Helene. Helene La Cour.”
“La Cour? Well, if this doesn’t take the cake. So what are you doing here? Are you going to give that perverted, irresponsible casanova what he deserves? You have kids too, right? Be my guest. I can wait. If you want to smack him I won’t testify on his behalf.”
“You misunderstand me. I’m here to try and reason with you.”
His ex began to look genuinely puzzled.
“Can we sit down and speak normally?”
His ex shrugged, as if she was doing Helene a personal favour.
Suddenly, a doctor walked up to them. He glanced around inquiringly and caught sight of Mogens with a mug of coffee in his hand, trying to look as if he wasn’t there.
“The boy’s asking for his father. Is that you?”
Mogens looked even more embarrassed, but explained to the doctor and indicated Fischer.
“Mr Fischer? If you please. This way.”
“How is he?”
“The worst is over by now. He needs to sleep, but you can come in for a few minutes. Since he was asking for you.”
“Just doing my job. Of course it’s always nice when the outcome is as good as this time. This way, please.”
Helene noted that Fischer vanished into his son’s room, then turned back to the ex-wife. She didn’t look any more accommodating than before.
“I don’t know what you’re after.”
“If I’ve understood the matter correctly, you resent the fact that Allan has started a new relationship?”
“What do you mean? He’s -”
“You’re divorced, aren’t you? And you’re already involved with a new man.”
“I don’t believe this. You’re defending him?”
“No, I’m here for your son’s sake. I’m a mother myself, as you pointed out earlier. Children don’t care who you’re involved with. They have their own relationships with their parents. If you prevent your son from seeing his father, you never know what will happen to his emotional development.”
“Emotional development? I see. Are you such an expert?”
“I should hope so. It’s my job, you see.”
For some reason that made Fischer’s ex change her mind. She looked embarrassed and somehow she seemed to have gained a new respect for the other woman.
“Oh. I didn’t know that. You think that the boy might come to harm if he’s not allowed to see Allan?”
“I think you know that, really. But it’s only natural that you feel insecure over his new relationship. I’m sure you find it hard to imagine that he’s bisexual. But – now that you think about it, it’s nothing to do with you any more, is it? You’ve moved on. Isn’t it reasonable that he’s allowed to do that too?”
“Maybe you’re right. But what I don’t get is how you can take it so calmly. Don’t you have two young children together, you and La Cour?”
“We do, yes. But I think you’re misunderstanding me. We’re not separated. Thomas and I are still together. It might seem odd to you, but we trust each other so this doesn’t mean we can’t be happy together.”
“Well, as you say, I don’t get that, but that’s your problem. What is you want from me?”
“Only that you’ll let Allan see his son sometimes. Nothing else.”
“Oh. Well. I suppose he might. You can’t understand how I felt when I found out that he’d cheated on me. We have a child together. Then suddenly I find out that he has a relationship with a man. I thought – who knows if that Ida person is the only one he’s been involved with? If he’d given me something -”
“Of course. That’s a natural reaction. Though even with partners of the opposite sex there’s a risk of infection.”
“You mean that bitch Ida might have – No. I got tested right after I threw Allan out. I’m alright.”
“No, no. I’m just trying to point out that regardless of your partner’s sex, there’s a risk of infection. And I’m not defending Allan’s infidelity. It’s just a separate issue.”
“Oh, well, I suppose you’re right. Alright. Of course he can see the boy. They’re so close. I just wanted to – get back at him.”
“That’s perfectly understandable. Just don’t let the boy suffer for it.”
“No, I won’t. Thanks. I’ll try to be a little more open and tolerant like you. It’s going to be hard, but as you say, it’s nothing to do with me anymore.”
“Thank you. And – let me tell how pleased I am that your boy is out of danger now. As a mother, I can see what you must have been going through.”
“Oh, thanks. Then I suppose I’d better -”
She glanced at Mogens and got up and joined him. He held out the coffee mug to her and she took a sip, but made a face and handed it back to him.
After a while, Fischer left the ward. He looked so relieved Helene realized that his son must have been much better already. She was relieved too, for Fischer’s sake and for the little boy’s. But she was getting tired. Hopefully Thomas would be at home by now. How surprised he’d be when she told him she had brought his boyfriend along. Though perhaps the fact that she had feelings for Allan would be the real surprise, or the fact that he seemed to return them.
Helene and Thomas La Cour were at the airport watching their lover Allan Fischer walk off towards his gate. They’d had a momentous twenty-four hours together, but now Fischer had to return to the Hague and his new job.
For the first time since they’d been confronted with their changed situation, the La Cours were alone together. In the car outside, Helene began to consider what she’d tell Thomas. Most of all she wanted ot know his reaction to their ménage à trois. Physically, she already knew he appreciated it, but she was hoping she hadn’t hurt him, emotionally, by intruding herself into their already functioning relationship.
Not that that had ever been her intention. Quite the opposite, in fact. She’d never meant to get back at him, like Fischer’s ex clearly had. It had just happened, and it had taken her by as much surprise as it had Fischer. Obviously this was the last thing he’d expected too.
“How do you feel now?”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, stop it. Naturally I mean me and Allan. The three of us. I want you to understand that I didn’t set out to – seduce your lover and take him away from you. It just happened.”
“Of course I understand that. Besides, you haven’t taken him from me. And – I’m actually pleased for your sake and his. I didn’t think it would be possible to be more happy, but this – this is even better. I used to feel so guilty towards you. I know – you’ve been absolutely amazing – but – this is more fair. No, that’s the wrong expression. Well, either way, I’m really pleased for you. This feels more – right.”
“You really are pleased?”
“Of course I am.”
He smiled at her, then turned his attention back to the traffic.
For a while they began to commute to the Hague. These days, Fischer’s son would came to visit now and then. The La Cours would bring their girls. They got along well with Fischer and he developed a good connection with them too.
Then one day, Helene announced that she was pregnant again. This time, Fischer was the father, not La Cour. Momentarily, she wondered how her husband would react to that piece of news. Despite everything, it was a different matter, learning that his wife was expecting a child by another man. But he was just as pleased as the two expectant parents. Their only problem would be how to explain their situation to doctors and midwifes. But that would be a consideration for later.
“So I thought we might move there. To the Hague. At least for a few years. It’s getting a little tiresome, commuting like this. If you think you can get one of those EU jobs -”
“I might, but – I didn’t want to tell you until I was sure – I’ve lost those – visions I used to get. After what happened – between you and me and Allan – I haven’t had any at all. I’m not sure I can continue working as a police officer.”
“Of course you can. Why not? All the other cops manage without those visions. Why should you be any different? Ask Allan. How do you think he got along?”
It was obvious that her husband hadn’t considered that aspect. Typical of him. He’d always had a tendency to take responsibility for everything and felt obliged to handle everything on his own. If he had visions, naturally it was his duty to save his colleagues. But other policemen saved their colleagues on a daily basis, without any kind of supernatural power. Besides, Helene thought she could explain her husband’s visions without using any supernatural explanations. She merely didn’t think he’d be interested in her view.
“Oh, well, I could do that.”
And so they moved to the Hague. They got a small villa in a nice area. If their neighbours wondered about their unusual way of cohabiting, they were too polite to ask.
The twins seemed to accept the whole thing naturally. They knew Allan and took it for granted that he’d live with them. Sometimes his son came to visit. Children always accepted everything quite naturally. What the boy thought, the La Cours didn’t know, but he also accepted their living arrangements without question.
Gradually, Fischer began to leave behind the memories of his time in prison. Helene was pleased with his progress. The fact that her husband had lost his special gift didn’t worry her unduly. In her opinion he was better off without it. She certainly didn’t have anything to complain about.
Their relationship might be unusual, but the strength of a relationship had nothing to do with how many others were living the same way. Besides, she didn’t think they were alone, in the Netherlands or Denmark. In today’s society there was no room for tired old perceptions of what constituted a normal relationship.
As Johnny Olsen’s health kept improving, Gaby was able to move more freely. From time to time, she met her old colleagues in a bar or even in Ingrid Dahl’s home.
One evening, when Johnny felt restless and bored, they decided accept one of Ingrid’s invitaitons. She usually invited Johnny along, but it wasn’t often that he was able to come along.
This time, IP was there too, as well as Ingrid’s family, including Ulf. IP arrived a little late and he was also a little drunk, but since he wasn’t driving, there was no reason to make a fuss about that. He also looked a little rattled. What had caused his reaction was soon apparent to the other guests and his hostess.
“Hello, IP. Great that you were able to come.”
“Thanks. Nice of you to invite me.”
“We were beginning to wonder when you were going to show up. We kind of started without you.”
“Oh. Well, you see, I ran into an old friend. A reporter.”
“Oh, her. Thanks for not bringing her along.”
These days, Ingrid had even more trouble with the media vultures than when she was merely the head of Unit One.
“She was going somewhere else anyway. But – she told me something damned odd.”
Ingrid was at the same table as her children – her son Tobias and her stepdaughter Gry. Her mother Bibi and her father Ulf Thomsen were there as well. Gaby and Johnny were present too, IP suddenly noticed. Almost like old times, except for the fact that neither La Cour or Fischer were there. That reminded him of what he’d been about to tell the others. He sat down in the only remaining seat and accepted the glass Bibi gave him and made a toast to the others.
“Cheers and welcome.”
“So, what was it you wanted to tell me?”
“Oh, right, well, you see -”
IP felt his cheeks heating up. He really didn’t like gossiping, but this was about their former colleagues. Close friends of them all, more or less. Ingrid’s kids were present, but these days kids knew as much as adults. Besides, even the boy was at least fourteen. Telling them should be alright.
“Well, you see – she’d heard a rumour about Fischer.”
“Oh? What was it about? He’s alright, I hope?”
“Yes, I think so. But – I don’t know if this is true – but well, anyway, she said that – he and – the La Cours – Thomas and Helene – well, they were sort of – involved.”
Ingrid stared inquiringly at IP. Was he drunk enough to have misunderstood his snooping friend? What was it he’d said, really?
“Involved? Are you saying they were having a – sexual relationship? The three of them?”
“That’s what she said, yes. It seems the La Cours have moved to the Hague to be with him.”
“That can’t be right.”
“She actually said that – it seems Helene La Cour is expecting his child. Fischer’s, I mean.”
Ulf cast IP a glance filled with distaste. That man – was he – all there? What kind of friends did he surround himself with? Would two homicide detectives, two excellent Danish police officers – that Thomas La Cour and Allan Fischer – that womanizer – be sexually involved? Impossible. He spat out a comment.
Tobias’ eyebrows shot up and he stared with horror mixed with delight at his mother. How would she react to this?
“That sounds fucking sick.”
Archly, Bibi pointed her finger at her grandson.
“Don’t talk like that. Besides, I think it’s their business. If they’re happy, I don’t think anyone else should sit in judgment.”
Gry nodded her agreement. How typical of her brother to be such a male hypocrite. And Ulf too. Stepgranddad. What a grumpy, intolerant old man.
“I agree with gran. If they love each other, that’s great, isn’t it? I hope they’re very happy together.”
Jan Boysen shook his head, uncomprehendingly. He studied Ingrid, smiling contentedly. What an elegant woman.
“What do you think, Ingrid? Did you ever dream of having two men?”
Ingrid stared disapprovingly at Boysen. Most likely the others knew about their relationship, except possibly Johnny Olsen, but she still didn’t like it to be discussed openly. A woman in her position couldn’t afford to be discussed behind her back. As long as Boysen didn’t propose to her, they had to exercise a little caution. She decided to punish him a bit.
“Well, now that you mention it, I’ve always been partial to IP. Cheers IP. Tell your friend not to gossip about two fine police officers. They deserve a little privacy.”
IP flashed Ingrid a sheepish smile. Partial to him? That had to be a joke at his expense, surely?
Boysen gave an embarrassed laugh, wishing he hadn’t spoken.
“Oh, IP? I see, that’s interesting.”
“Yeah, you know, I’ve always found him quite sexy. Any objections?”
This really wasn’t funny anymore. He realized that Ingrid must have felt stung by his question. Now he didn’t know how to disentangle himself, without seeming too inhibited and dull.
IP pulled himself together. He wasn’t that drunk, but the wine Ingrid was offering him was of a very fine vintage.
“Here’s to you. Ingrid. Thanks for the compliment. I’ve always found you a very beautiful woman. It was a pleasure serving under you.”
Bibi had a good laugh at Boysen’s embarrassment. To her, it didn’t matter who her daughter was dating. Boysen and IP, both, were nice young men. Either one of them, or maybe – why not? both, would suit Ingrid perfectly.
“That might be something you can take after, right, Ingrid? These two are both eligible bachelors. And you’re not getting any younger. Why don’t you take this opportunity?”
Gry and Tobias were laughing so hard they almost fell off their chairs. How cool that their grandmother had such an awesome sense of humour.
Ulf’s upper lip twisted into an expression of disapproval. Clearly Ingrid had been working too much and spent too little time raising those two. Still, it might not be too late for Tobias. A man’s firm touch might make a difference.
“I think the children have had enough. Aren’t you going to bed soon?”
Tobias shook his head.
“No, tomorrow is Saturday. I’m not tired at all. But I think I’ll go to my room anyway. Bye.”
Gry followed her little brother. She was going to her own place, but she might as well stay for a while. Ingrid inviting her colleagues was kind of fun. What a thing. Those two cops being involved with each other and the wife of one of them. Fucking awesome.
Gaby and Johnny exchanged glances, then began to laugh. Fischer and La Cour. Wasn’t that a hoot. And best of all, Johnny felt, was that now there was no risk at all that Fischer was going to hit on Gaby again. He knew that there had been something going on between those two. But now that danger was past, even though he was an old wreck, in a wheelchair.
At least things hadn’t turned out quite as badly as they might have. What a shame though, for Gaby’s sake, that Unit one was closed down. But life went on. There were other things she could do. As long as you stuck together, what did it matter what kind of work they were doing?