petra: Barbara Gordon smiling knowingly (Default)
[personal profile] petra posting in [community profile] pacifi_cant
Fandom: due South
Summary: Are you going to invite me in?
Pairing: Fraser/Victoria
Length: 1100 words
Rating: All ages
Notes: Occurs after CotW.
Warning: Victoria.

It's October when the knock comes on the door, strident, but there is no one shouting. Not an emergency, Ben thinks, and sets down his playing cards face down instead of dropping them as he otherwise might. "Expecting someone?" Ray says, standing up with him.

"No." Ben glances out the window and freezes. He's seen her a thousand places through a thousand windows, but never here, even though she's been here, even though the ashes around the foundation speak to her presence as much as the blue around the windows shows Ray's. "I can't," he says.

Ray frowns and looks, too. But he's seen pictures, he's heard Ben's memories of it, of her, and Ray Vecchio's, enough that he could pretend to be the man who tried to shoot her.

One of the men who tried to shoot her, certainly.

"Oh, fuck," Ray says, and starts for the other side of their cabin, his eyes on the gun by the door.

That is enough to get Ben moving again. Whatever she's there for, whatever she wants, the worst thing they can do is greet her with threats. "Don't," he says, and gets between Ray and the door as if the woman on the other side has never held a gun on him, as if the woman on the other side has never torn his heart out, as if the woman on the other side isn't Victoria. "Be ready, but don't escalate things before we know what's going on."

Diefenbaker wakes up by the stove, scents the air, and growls. Ben says, "Stay where you are," to him, and for once Dief doesn't argue.

"I'm sure she just wants to borrow a pound of moose," Ray says bitterly, but he puts the gun down. "I'm gonna kill her if she tries anything."

"Understood," Ben says, and opens the door like Pandora with her jar, letting in the cold autumn breeze and the sound of her voice.

She's smiling like she's never frozen to death or left him for dead, like having sex with him was making love with him. "Ben," she says. "They told me I'd find you here, in the village. And this must be--" she hesitates a bare instant "--Ray."

There is nothing Ben can say to that, not in all the etiquette he knows, not to her. Ray is there first, reaching past Ben to offer his right hand as though Ben doesn't know he's good enough to take the shot with his left. It wouldn't take any skill to hit her at this range on their porch framed by their door. Ray says, "Ray Kowalski," with all the joy that he had the first times Ben heard himself introduce himself as someone who wasn't Ray Vecchio. "And you are--"

There's a wintry curve in her smile now, or there always has been. She shakes Ray's hand with her delicate black-gloved fingers. "How many of my aliases do you need to hear?"

"Victoria," Ben says, and it physically hurts to say it. "What are you doing here?"

Her focus is back on him, but not entirely, and he blesses Ray for being right there, for dividing her attention, or he would have kissed her by now and damn the consequences. "Looking up an old friend," she says, and shrugs, her beautiful eyes on Ben. "Are you going to invite me in?"

It's been a cold week. Every moment that the door is open, more of the heat from the firewood they have gathered and split seeps out, and Martha Fraser--speaking in memory, not in person, thank God--chides Ben for heating the whole outdoors. "No," Ray says, "not unless you've got a damn good reason why we should."

"'We'?" She raises her perfect eyebrows and smiles, and now she looks terribly sad. Ben wants to comfort her, to drive off whatever it is that she needs him to drive off. "Oh, Ben. I've never stopped loving you, but--'we'?"

He does not fall over their threshold into her arms. He does not apologize. "Yes," he says, and she backs up a step.

"I had an offer for you," she says. "I wanted to make it all up to you, to make you rich, to save you from this for what you deserve." she looks at their cabin like it's a heap of excrement. "But--oh, Ben--I can't, not if this is how things are."

Ben wants to take Ray's hand so badly his chest aches, but if she does something, Ray needs his hands free to aim. The rules of politeness are there, this time; she is far enough away that he can begin to think. "Thank you kindly for the offer, but that won't be necessary."

"Are you going to call the cops--or, no, it would be another case of your hunting me down yourself, wouldn't it." She hums in something that would be a laugh, some other time, from someone whose heart did not freeze some countless number of years before.

"I know better this time," Ben says, and Ray puts a hand on his shoulder, warm as the woodstove. "Don't come back, Victoria."

She shakes her head. "Why would I? I never wanted to hurt you," and he wants to shout at her, but she would not listen, cannot listen. "Besides," and there, that is the smile he fell in love with before he knew he could fall in love at all, "I don't trust your--Ray--not to hunt me down. Not twice."

Ben covers Ray's hand with his own for a brief instant and promises her, "He won't. Goodbye."

She says, "Goodbye, Ben," and turns to go.

The place in his heart where he loved her, or thought he loved her, is full of ice and fire, as it always has been, but there is more ice there now, and the fire is pain, not desire.

When she gets back in the truck she rented, borrowed, or stole, he does not memorize the license plate. It is easier to watch her go without that knowledge.

"Fuck," Ray says, when the sound of the truck is far away, when it might be going to someone else's home to interrupt their life. "She's a piece of work."

"Yes," Ben agrees. He steps inside and closes the door, closes her out, and Ray catches him when the adrenalin spike is gone and he begins to fall. "I'm sorry."

"Hey, you're still here." Ray hugs him tightly. "Everything's going to be okay."

Dief noses at Ben's hand, and he begins to believe Ray.

* * * * *

For [ profile] akamine_chan.
Prompt: "I've never stopped loving you."

Date: 2010-04-09 11:00 pm (UTC)
mamaffy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mamaffy
Victoria... *sighs* I love Fraser around her (which is wrong in so many ways but I can't help it)

or he would have kissed her by now and damn the consequences.

When she gets back in the truck she rented, borrowed, or stole, he does not memorize the license plate.

Date: 2010-04-10 02:58 am (UTC)
exbex: (Default)
From: [personal profile] exbex

er, I mean, that's a damn good fic. I love that Ray is there, and I love your Robert Frost reference.

Date: 2010-04-10 04:16 pm (UTC)
exbex: (Default)
From: [personal profile] exbex
It's the lines where he realizes the change his heart has made in how he loved her. It just reminded me of the poem "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost.

Date: 2010-04-11 03:05 am (UTC)
malnpudl: (malnpudl 'nois by lostgirlslair)
From: [personal profile] malnpudl
Gorgeous and painful and perfect. Wow.

Date: 2010-04-11 05:04 pm (UTC)
endcredits: ([ckr] kowalski)
From: [personal profile] endcredits
Oh, this is lovely and ouchy! I adore the contrast between Victoria and Ray — all wintry smiles versus woodstove-warm hands. ♥

Date: 2010-04-11 11:54 pm (UTC)
mergatrude: a hermit crab peering from it's shell with the text "lurker" (Default)
From: [personal profile] mergatrude
Aarrrggghhh! So good! So hurty! So very, very glad Ray is there with him.

Date: 2010-04-12 05:08 am (UTC)
akamine_chan: Created by me; please don't take (Default)
From: [personal profile] akamine_chan
Oh, Petra, this is lovely and bitter and perfect.

The place in his heart where he loved her, or thought he loved her, is full of ice and fire, as it always has been, but there is more ice there now, and the fire is pain, not desire.

I loved this, this realization that his love for her is changing, growing cold. Thank you for such a lovely story!

Date: 2010-04-15 09:17 am (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
From: [personal profile] luzula
I kind of saved this up a little, because I knew it would be good. And it totally was. I like how there's still that urge in him to go with her, but still, he has changed since the last time. Ooh, and the ashes around the foundation. *shivers*



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