Telling Stories by Luzula

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Title: Telling Stories
For: Nos4a2no9
Pairing/Characters: Fraser/Victoria
Warnings: PG-13, some angst
Vidder's/Author's/Artist's Notes:
Many thanks to my beta! And happy holidays, Nos.

Victoria stared up at the ceiling of her cell, which was lit by a streetlamp outside. It was after lights-out, and they were supposed to be sleeping. With her eyes, she followed a crack in the paint of the ceiling. It was jagged and branched off into smaller tributaries, like a river. It was not particularly interesting.


There was nothing much else to look at, so she lived in her mind, telling herself stories.


Sometimes she thought about how things might have gone. It was self-indulgent, but she couldn't seem to stop.


In her mind, they pulled off the bank heist without a hitch, Jolly doing his goddamn job instead of blustering about and botching it. Afterwards, they were rich. She and Jolly left Alaska, left it for someplace warm. Mexico, or maybe Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii, with beaches and palm trees. They had a huge house by the beach, and a swimming pool even though the sea was right there. They ate pineapples for breakfast and had cocktail drinks with little umbrellas. She lay on the sandy beach, and her pale skin tanned in the sun.


Except Victoria had never been south of Alaska, and the Hawaii in her mind was like a postcard of itself, shiny and with all the depth of a piece of paper. And Jolly--would she really want to spend the rest of her life with him?


***


The room was bare. The walls were painted a yellow color, which was probably meant to be cheerful, but Victoria found it rather sickly. She lay in bed, waiting for the lights to be turned off.


The cell had one other inmate, a woman who was fifty or sixty, or at least looked to be that age. She had thin greying hair, pulled back in a braid, and her face was set in lines of suspicion that seemed to be permanent. Victoria hadn't asked, because they left each other well enough alone, but knew anyway that she was in for life. She'd killed her husband.


Gossip and information seemed to seep through the walls of the building, spreading among the inmates. But most of it wasn't very interesting.


Victoria closed her eyes.


In her mind, she left Jolly by the roadside before he could talk her into robbing banks. She dumped him after the first time he came home drunk and laid hands on her, because if a guy does that once, he's sure as hell going to do it again. Instead, she left Alaska, went down south to Seattle, where she could have a fresh start. Nobody knew her there, and she took a restaurant job, waiting at tables. In the evenings, she taught herself computer programming on a computer that she got out of the classifieds, somebody's kid moving up to a better one. Then she got a job at a computer company, working her way up as they realized how good she was at it.


The American dream. Yeah, right.


***


In the corner of the ceiling on Victoria's side of the room, there was a spiderweb. She could see the black spider sitting in the center of it. Was it lonely? Maybe she could tame it, and it could be her companion. She pictured the spider carrying messages for her through the window, maybe smuggling in a key. Nah, it probably wouldn't work.


Victoria turned on her side, facing the wall. There were imperfections in the paint, places where it had run a little bit before it had dried. She closed her eyes, shutting the wall out.


This time, it was the old stories, the ones she used to tell herself as a little kid.


In her mind, her dad came and took her away, her and her sister. He'd only left because he wanted to make a better life for them, and now he took them both with him down to California, to San Francisco. Her mom would be sorry now that they were gone. She would wish she'd never locked Victoria in her room, never told her she couldn't have new shoes. Dad made everything all right, she was his little Vicky, and he made them pancakes for breakfast every morning.


But it was a little kid's story, and she couldn't really take it seriously. Her father was just a guy who'd ditched her mother and left her with the bills.


***


Sometimes, she thought about making a mark on the wall for every day that went by, like a shipwrecked sailor or a prisoner locked in a dungeon in the Middle Ages. At least the wall would change, then. How much of it would be covered with marks by now?


But that was silly. She didn't need to keep track of the time that way--she could just ask the warden if she wanted to know what date it was.


It was night, and the streetlight slanted in across the ceiling. It was the same yellow light as always, at the same unchanging angle.


Victoria closed her eyes, and told herself stories about Ben. Those were the dangerous ones.


In her mind, she was back on the mountain, in the grip of something so much larger than herself that she could only keep her head down and try to hold on. The storm was everywhere, stealing her breath and her warmth and her very thoughts. But she wasn't alone. Ben was there, too. Sometimes she wondered if that was all that tied them together--the simple fact of having shared everything they had in the face of the storm. Their bodies, as close as they could get. His mouth, warming her fingers. Her voice, keeping them awake.


But what they had hadn't been enough. The warmth had leached out of them and the movement stilled. When the storm ended, there was nothing but a smooth surface of snow, and below it, they both lay pale and cold and dead.


Victoria shivered and pulled the scratchy brown blanket closer around her. No, she was alive. She'd survived the storm. She could sure as hell survive prison, too.


***


Winter came again and snow fell outside the window, lit by the light from the streetlamp. It was the only way she could see that time was passing.


Her room wasn't dirty and squalid, like she'd imagined prison to be, if she'd ever thought about it before. No, it was clean enough. Her sheets were regularly changed and washed, and so were her anonymous clothes. But there was something about the place that got under her skin--perhaps it was the constant repetition of actions that never really changed anything. The sheets were washed, again and again. So many days spent by so many people, doing nothing but passing time, watching their lives go by without them.


She watched the whirling snow.


In her mind, he let her go. No, he came with her. They fled across the mountains, and no one ever found them. They ate roast venison by the campfire, and at night, they slept close together in a sleeping bag, keeping each other warm. They kissed, and it was sweet and tentative, as if kissing was something new and wondrous, and they had just discovered it together. It was like a small flame that you had to hide from the wind and from the world, so that it wouldn't go out. They would shield it together, make it grow, make love for hours in the close confines of their tent.


But he hadn't let her go. He had turned her in, to rot in prison for ten years.


In her mind, she got out when her time was up and tracked him down. It wasn't hard. Ben was still a Mountie, and he had a family now; a wholesome corn-fed cow of a wife and a little son. His son was six years old or so, with that same dark hair and innocent wide eyes. They lived in a cabin somewhere in the woods, snow and trees and fucking picturesque Canadian nature all around them. Her finger trembled on the trigger. She felt like shooting the whole perfect little family, watching their blood stain the snow.


Victoria blinked, shaken out of the scene. She'd never killed anyone.


In her mind, Ben was alone when she found him. Their eyes met, and the years fell away. He was sorry for what he'd done, he wished he'd never turned her in. He left everything, everyone to be with her, even his precious RCMP. It was them against the world, and they fucked desperately on hotel room beds and ran from state to state, always one step ahead of the police. Together, they could do anything.


No; he resisted her, he was going to turn her in a second time. But she wasn't a fool. Everyone had their weak points, and she found his. She caught him in a web, the way her friend the spider caught a fly, and stripped away all his high principles. He knew what it was to despair, then, knew it like she knew it, how the heart turned in on itself and fed on its own black desires. In the end, he would have nothing left but her.


Victoria shifted, unclenching her hands from the sheets. Snow still fell outside the window.


The days were all right. She had to face other people, then, and be on her guard. But the nights--there was nothing between her and her imagination then.


They were all true in her mind, the sweet innocent stories about Ben, and the dark ones. Sometimes, she wondered if Ben was haunting her. But she'd always had a thoroughly rational mind, and she wasn't crazy enough yet to believe in ghosts.


Besides, she didn't think Ben was dead.


His life or his death was hers. She'd make them hers.

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14 Comments

omens Author Profile Page said:

This is chilly and lonely and a little bit creepy how it goes from melancholic to scary! I liked all the glimpses into various AUs and especially loved: So many days spent by so many people, doing nothing but passing time, watching their lives go by without them.

She watched the whirling snow.

\o/ Victoria! Becoming the Victoria we know!

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Lonely, creepy, melancholic...yeah, that's pretty much what I was going for.

Realistic look into Victoria's mind while she was in prison, while she had time to scheme and plan.

At some point in her life Victoria reached a crossroads and from there all these possibilities were arrayed in front of her - and the one road she chose to walk was the one she shouldn't have gone down...

Makes you feel sorry for her. She's broken, and not even Fraser can fix her.

Great job, mystery writer.

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Thanks! Yeah, that feeling of the possible roads narrowing down to one was part of what I was trying to get. Actually, I really wanted to her to do something else, here--I mean, she could walk free of it after prison if she wanted. But given what happens in Victoria's Secret, that wouldn't work with canon.

exbex said:

Wonderful exploration into her mind, and also makes her more human than the the series did. Wonderful fic.

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Thank you! I am so glad that she comes across as more human.

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Thank you! I am so glad that she comes across as more human.

Ooooh. You gave me shivers.

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

I hope they were good shivers. And thanks for the comment!

This was good! Sad, grim, but good!

Mal Author Profile Page said:

Oh, wow. It's so cold inside her, isn't it, all that mixed-up, brittle mixture of anger and hopelessness and loss. Makes me want to cuddle under the covers and turn the heat up. Evocative stuff!

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Thank you! I was surprised at how easy it was for me to get inside her head. And actually, I really wanted her to able to let go after prison, but given canon events, that just wasn't possible.

Brrrr. You manage to make me care about Victoria. That takes skill!

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Oh, thank you! I'm so happy that the story made you care about her.

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