Title: The Other Side of Midnight
Rated: PG-13 to R.
The room was settled in a deep, velvety darkness broken by shadows cast on the wall as light from the street signs outside cascaded their neon shafts through glass held in place more by force of will than by sturdy wood frames. The man and his wolf sat companionably on the floor at the end of the man's bed. Light from the soundless television cast a strange glow of its own on the room's occupants.
With casual, lazy movements the man ran his hand over his companion's fur and seemed lost in thought as the picture on the television played quietly in front of his eyes. The wolf watched the man's pensive attitude closely.
The lady in the fur coat advanced down the street with quick strides, obviously holding some extreme emotion in check as she moved towards her goal. She advanced on the door of the ancient building and pulled open the door with startling power and authority. She entered the dark entryway and looked towards the stairs. With strong and sure steps she marched to the stairway and made her way up to the third floor. By the time she reached the door of 3J, she was breathing hard and her hair was a wild mane flung back from her face. She hit the door with its peeling paint and worn slats and waited.
Inside the apartment the man heard the sharp rap on his door and rose to stand on his bare feet. With quick, sure strides he arrived at his door in response to the loud crack of the knock and opened the door.
Once the door was opened, the man stood with the door open, sadness filling his expression as he took in the sight of the small woman in the fur coat facing him. The woman looked up at the man; her face changed like quicksilver from rage to sadness and back again to uncontrolled rage. He dropped his head down in a head tuck to his chest as he took in a deep breath.
The woman tilted her head back as she almost yelled at the man, "Did you think that we could just pretend it never happened?" She thrust her hands out into the air at her sides as she finished her question.
He let out the breath that he hadn't realized he had been holding and closed his eyes in pain. As he looked up the woman advanced a couple of steps towards him, her arms raised. "How could you do it?" she screamed in a soft tone of voice and with a quick, forceful shove at the man's chest she advanced on him and watched as he fell back from her until with each continuing shove he was brought short against the wall behind him. He looked startled and almost small looking against the wall as she advanced on him again. He pulled himself away from the wall and matched her approach step by step; his eyes filled with wet, unshed tears as he moved.
The man put his arms out as she voiced the words again, "How could you do that to me?" She lifted her hands balled tightly into fists and beat at him in the chest. They pulled each other into a tentative embrace, the man's head lowering before her in supplication, as she said, "No." Her hands began to curl up towards his face. He spoke in a low and oddly tightened voice as he lowered his head further towards her. Hot tears threatened to fall from his beautifully sad eyes, "I'm sorry." She put her right hand on the back of his neck as in a lover's caress as his hands settled softly on her back until they formed a soft, caressing clasp.
She ran her fingers through his hair and kissed his forehead, his eyes, and his face. He buried his face in her long, dark curly hair that fell softly on her shoulder and pulled her close as she imprisoned him within her own arms.
His hands separated from their tight clasp at her back. His right hand settled on the back of her head as she threw her arms up and clasped her hand over his shoulder, her fingers spreading over the back of his shoulder. They separated and the man clearly was near to tears. They began rocking together in a slow, dance style rhythm moving gracefully to some unheard strains or music. As they turned and held each other, the man put out his hand to push the door of apartment 3J closed with a quick snap.
They held each other and held onto each other like people seeking protection from a storm. They moved across the room in that classic movement of a lover's dance, swaying, moving, and tilting each seeking prominence. Their hands roamed over each other as they kissed and moved and kissed again, swaying gracefully to their own rhythmic beat of need.
Her hands gently caressed the back of his neck as they drew apart; then kissed again. His hands entwined in the long, dark curly hair and held her head; keeping lip to lip. They kissed and twirled and moved with hungry steps as one being until they reached the edge of the man's bed that lay still bathed in candlelight from their meeting earlier in the evening.
She kissed the man with an intensiveness that drove with a feeling like sharp shards of glass through their bodies until the backs of his knees came up sharply against the end of the bed she fell with him towards the white covered bed. They landed still entwined together so that he gave out a soft "oof" as her legs hit his jean clad body as they bounced into the soft mattress.
"I'm sorry," she whispered as she looked down into his eyes while his fingers wrapped themselves in her hair. He pushed her hair back from her face and with a soft smile he whispered huskily, "That's all right, I probably deserved it."
She looked down at him and said in the softest of female tones, "You do." Their lips joined in another wild kiss and his right hand went again to the back of her head and he held her gently. He kissed her and moved his hand lower until he held her right hand in his and pulled it softly up to his lips where he kissed her fingers before taking them erotically into his mouth.
As he kissed her fingers, she placed gentle kisses on his face. They continued to kiss and hold each other lightly, warmly as the neon light filtered into the room and joined the candlelight as it played gently over their bodies. She wanted control, needed it. She took it. She was determined that this time she was the one who took what she desperately needed and wanted. She teased his mouth with hers, forcing his lower lip between hers in submission. She thrust her tongue inside the warmth of his mouth as she planted both of her hands against his head and twined her fingers in the dark, wavy strands of his hair. She kissed him until he breathing was ragged and he seemed about to beg for life giving air.
Raking one hand free of his short and wildly tossed hair she grabbed onto his soft shirt and began ruking it slowly up his torso. He moved his hands to assist her. She pulled her mouth away from his and pushed his hands away. His hugely dilated eyes moved slightly as his breathing raggedly broke the silence of the room. With a feral grin, she moved the shirt out of the way and brushed the fingers of her right hand against the opening of his jeans. Slowly she ran a finger between his jean and the jean material he wore. "Mine." She whispered the word and leaned down to kiss the smooth, exposed skin above the rough material. She could feel the tension in him through the quickly sucked in skin seeking whatever momentary escape it could find beneath her seeking tongue. Leaning her body down against him, she imprisoned his legs between her thin body and the pristine sheeted mattress. "Mine!" The whispered word settled like a tangible thing in the air between them as her fingers worked the opening to his jeans. "Ten years." Again she whispered the words and felt him tense beneath her. She smiled. The zipper on his jeans gave in to her fingers of her right hand as she raked the nails of her left hand tenderly over the skin beneath them.
The dim light from the old window played over the sleepers gently capturing the room's waning shadows once again before surrendering to the severe darkness of burned out candles. The woman slept on her side, her right arm resting with her hand on the pillow. Sated, the man slept on his back, his right hand caressing and holding the woman's elbow possessively as it lay on his fair skinned abdomen.
She began to wake and drew her hand down into the curls of her hair as her eyes swept over her sleeping partner. Her expression changed quickly from love to awe to a look of acid proportions as she moved her eyes over his hair, his face, and his reclined and relaxed body.
The man moved slightly turning his head on the pillow and drawing his left leg up and his right down, the sheets following his movements. The woman rose up on her elbow gently and then used her legs to thrust the sheet into position so she could rise quietly from the bed. She sat nakedly on the side of the bed her back to the man and reached over to pick up a beautifully made blood-red shirt. With deft movements she slid the shirt over body and rose to her feet, buttoning the shirt as she moved. She walked in and out of the dim light as she moved around the end of the bed and lifted her hair out of the shirt's collar. She walked lithely on bare feet across the room.
Glancing through the kitchen window she turned quickly to the task she had set herself. She stood before the sink and surveyed the empty counter. With a quick movement she picked up the little 'soapstone' bear and smiled as she held it. She picked up rubber gloves and put her hands into them and picking up the little bear began to rub its soap contents onto the cleaning sponge she had picked up. Carefully, caressingly she washed down the counter and wiped every surface of exposed counter and sink. Then working quietly, she did the dishes.
He slept on in the bedroom area slept soundly. He never heard her wiping the cupboard down or the little dinette table. He did not see her shaking out the tablecloth and napkins vigorously out the apartment window. The gust of cool air she let swept in while she shook out the cloths swept through the apartment, but the man never moved nor woke.
Finished, she stood quietly by the window surveying the room, critically checking every area she had cleaned. Her eyes roved each inch of the counter and stove. She tugged the beautiful, blood red shirt tight across her chest and moved on into the room where the man lay sleeping. She wandered the room where he slept quietly on bare feet scrutinizing each item she had touched since she walked into his door and back into his life.
The sleeping man moved and settled quickly back to sleep. She crept quietly back to the bed and removing the shirt climbed stealthily back into the bed to join the man under the sheets. Her naked form barely had time to adjust to the feel of the sheets when the man rolled towards her and flung his arm protectively across her. Moonlit shadows caressed his face as he lay next to her. Her eyes roamed his soft features with the same intensity of purpose that had consumed her as she cleaned his apartment; the same intensity she had poured out over his body earlier. Her eyes narrowed as she committed each pore of his facial skin to her memory.
Chaotic thoughts raced through her brain for she realized all her plans were undone. If there was one thing she had learned in her ten years behind prison bars, it was to think each movement of a plan out thoroughly for precise completion. So her thoughts ran through each microsecond of the afternoon when she had been roaming his neighborhood in search of logistical information she would be able to use against him. Meeting him by accident that afternoon had startled her. It had been the unforeseen. She couldn't let that happen again.
Her skin prickled with tension as she thought of the remark she had made to him as they stood in the door of that small diner. She had been truthful when she had stated that she didn't think she would ever see him again. She thought of his truly delighted smile in greeting her and remembered how for just that fleeting moment she had been just as delighted to see him, smell him, and be with him again.
She remembered thinking on the day of her release from prison that he had killed whatever heart she had had in her body when he had turned her in to face charges and trial for her own complicity in robbing a bank. She realized that she had been wrong, her heart wasnít dead. Whatever made up her heart was held in place with fragile tendrils waiting to be shattered again. Her lips firmed into a tight smile as she vowed that he would not sneak past her heart's barricade again. She would not let him do that to her again. This time she would use him; take his life and future from him. She would use him and throw him away like those who had used her. He was hers. He always would be, she'd see to that. She wanted to destroy him on her terms; she intended to leave him as devastated as he had left her that cold day when she was sentenced to ten years in prison.
So she lay next to him, felt his body's warmth, watched his face devoid of tension as he slept. She lay there quietly, held close to him in his loving embrace. She smiled as thoughts of how she could destroy him slowly entwined themselves in her brain. He sighed and smiled as he tugged her body closer to his; releasing the love he had held for her in his heart for the last ten remorseful years. His heart was climbing out of its leaden state of atrophy while her heart demanded she build higher, unassailable walls around it.
By the time dawn broke and its predawn colors filtered into the room, she knew what she had to do. She had already placed counterfeit bills in his wallet and she knew her original plan would still work, with just a few minor additions. She watched the sleeping man next to her begin to waken contemplating if he would look so young when she was done with him. She knew her face held the scars of her heart on it boldly; she intended to leave him to the same fate.
The man began to move as he woke up, his feet drawing up and down as his knees flexed. She watched him and smiled.
She heard the quick intake of breath he took as he began to open his eyes and realized that he was not alone in his bed. His beautiful dark eyelashes fluttered as gently as any woman's as he slowly raised his eyelids to expose the light of his soul in his eyes. Her breath nearly caught in her throat nearly choking off the feelings of anger and revenge that filled her. Her eyes played over his face in wonder that he did not feel the intense paralysis of her soul as a visible thing. Deep within her heart the tiniest flicker of real human love for another still lingered. Her lips smiled, her eyes shown bright with emotion and she almost gave up all her plans, all her dreams for retribution. She put her hand almost shyly on his chest and looked down to see the contrasting colors of their respective flesh tones. She let her hair fall down over her face as she memorized the size of his hand near hers.
He moved slowly trying to push the morning fog out of his brain. The only thought that registered clearly brought him joy. She was here, actually here, and in his bed. He sighed in pleasure as he remembered the experiences of the night.
She lifted her eyes and searched the joyful look on his face. The only thoughts that ran through her brain were thoughts of the last time they had been together ten years before.
She remembered very clearly how he had found her, rescuing her only to have her save his life in return as they lay in that bitterly cold crag on the mountainside. Her memory dragged slowly over the time they had spent together. Every move they had made was clearly etched in her memory. She remembered the care that he took in keeping her warm, the intense heat of his mouth as he warmed her almost frost bitten fingers. The words of poetry she had recited to keep him awake now revolted her. She remembered the gluttony they resorted to when they found his lost supply pack. The memory of the laughter they had shared over those rations had long since died in her memory but leapt to a small flame now as she watched his eyes searching hers.
She remembered the long walk to civilization and how hard it had been to put one foot in front of the other as she walked behind the windbreak his body made for her. She remembered how he had finally lifted her into his own exhausted arms to carry her that last distance to the spot where they set up camp just outside the town where he eventually turned her in to the authorities.
But most of all she remembered how young and unsure he had been as they sat huddled together that last night near the small campfire. They had been of an age then, though she had never doubted that she had more experience of carnal knowledge. She had learned early in life that many things she could not buy with money could be obtained in other ways. She had gambled on that in those hours by the campfire ten years before. She had gambled and lost.
The nervous sound of his teeth chattering in his head as she remembered how she had pushed him down into the snow and kissed him all those years ago echoed in her memory. She told him it was her turn to save him from the cold as she watched him trying to waken in his cold Chicago apartment. She remembered every soft word she had uttered back then to gain his attention as she had shamelessly shoved her hands inside his tunic to rub his Henley against his skin. She remembered the feel of his hands as he tried to politely push her away. She hadn't listened and had kissed his soft lips, taking what she wanted. He hadn't voiced a refusal then nor had he last night. Years before he hadn't taken any part in her slow, sexual onslaught at first. When he had finally given in to her, he had taken her in his arms and held her tighter than anyone ever had before. He had warmed her and held her and brought the two of them right to the irrevocable edge of passion. She had led and he had followed until he could follow no more. He had reversed their roles and taken charge of his inexperience and dragged them both over the edge of sanity.
Remembering that night brought her thoughts back to the morning they now shared in his apartment. She found she still could not forgive him. She couldn't forgive him for being sexually naÔve, and for not being her first lover. She couldn't forgive him for being the man he was then and now. She couldn't forgive him his goodness of character. She remembered all the vile things she had said to him as she was led away in cuffs to await trial. She would never forget watching him in the courtroom as he sat there day by day waiting for the end of the trial. She had watched him turning paler day by day. She would never forgive the naivety of his soul that led him to think that he could help her. She would never forgive him for what happened months after her internment in prison. She had only to remember and the fires of vengeance burned again in her brain.
As he lay there waking up, she merely smiled at him. Her dark thoughts and eyes remained hidden behind the long, silky-veil of her hair as her lips smiled down at him. He sighed in contentment to have her so close and reaching out encircled her with his arms pulling her into a loving embrace.
The red serge coat dwarfed the woman as she stood next to the man whose braces rode his shoulders tightly and held the wool uniform pants rigidly in place while he leaned against the wall with a small smile on his face. The woman smiled as she listened to the man admitting that he had something like 82 sick days owed to him.
She reached out with one of her small hands and pulled on his braces and laughed as she pulled him towards her. In seconds he was beyond rational thought as she pulled him along to the bed they were sharing. She found the power of controlling him exhilarating and kept drawing him along with her until she had him so overwhelmed by his senses that he couldn't or wouldn't notice how far he was sinking into a morass of her design.
Once she had him on the bed, she leaned over him and pushed his braces down off of his shoulders before attacking his t-shirt. She pulled the white material over his head and down behind his neck, kissing him as she maneuvered the shirt under his shoulders. He raised his head towards as she backed away, his lips following hers. She backed away a little more until she could slide his t-shirt down to his elbows. When the material was seated tightly in the crook of his arms, she leaned back into him and kissed him as she used her body to guide him back down to the pillow. He was lost in a sea of his senses, lost to everything but the feel of her, the scent of her. Their long hours together had engrained a need in him for her that rivaled a drug addict's need.
With feline grace she took control, undoing the fastenings of his wool uniform pants. She tugged and pulled and kissed him as the pants slid down to his knees where she left them before sliding back up along his body to kiss him again. She planted her hands on his shoulders and held him down, knowing he couldn't move his hands to refuse her. Her laughter filled the room when he finally raised his knees and unseated her and he shrugged off the confines of his t-shirt and moved to place his own hands on her shoulders.
For him the ensuing hours were filled making love to the woman of his dreams. For her the ensuing hours were filled with making sex with someone she couldn't get quite trust. So while he spent the following hours and days totally involved in loving her, she spent the following hours and days watching him, planning out her revenge. He never suspected a thing. By the time he did return to work, she knew every inch of his apartment, every nook and cranny of its secrets. And every time she was alone in the sparse apartment, she spent time cleaning and removing traces of her presence. She was careful, very careful; even bringing in a set of her own sheets for their bed leaving his clean and unused.
The man closed the door softly behind him and stood for a moment gazing unseeingly done the hallway. He dropped his fingers lingeringly from the doorknob and was loath to move away. His uniform was buttoned as specified by regulation to the very top button. His hair was damp and freshly groomed and the skin on his face was clean-shaven; its newly awakened scrubbed color framed his beautiful eyes. He pushed himself away from the his door and made himself walk the length of the hall only pausing at the top of the steps to glance once back at his apartment door.
He bounced down the steps to street door with a vibrant and happy stride. The only thoughts racing through his head were those of the past three days spent in his apartment. Each step he took towards the Canadian Consulate where he worked saddened his heart. The steps taking him away from his home rang hollow in his own ears and it mystified him that the people he passed didnít stop and hold their ears against the resounding silence of his steps.
He entered the building where he worked totally unprepared for the number of well wishers that welcomed him back to work after his 'illness'. He made his way to his office amid the sea of smiles his coworkers sent him. It wasn't until he sat down at his desk and realized flowers surrounded him at every turn of his head that a sense of guilt began to rear its head within his thoughts.
Dutifully, he pulled a stack of papers before him and grabbed his pen, fully intending a full return to work. Her name, Victoria, threaded itself through his thoughts as he worked. His remembered scent of her filled his nostrils and made it hard for him to concentrate.
Days later, after he'd come to realize the full extent of her betrayal. Weeks after both he and his best friend, Ray Vecchio, had been accused of passing forged money; after Ben had been arrested for complicity in Victoria's crimes and Ben had recovered from the near paralytic wound he received as he had nearly boarded the train to go with her Ben still felt wounded to the core of his soul.
His return to work had been heralded with a near firing by a new superior officer. But slowly, day by day as he answered his phone clearly announcing that he was Benton Fraser some of his pride began to return. Slowly, each time he answered the phone and pronounced his name, a bit of his personality reclaimed him. But it would be months, if not years, before he recovered. He knew that his recovery would be long and painful one and even welcomed the pain of recovery for now he knew Victoria for what she was, what she had perhaps always been. It was a very long time before he retired at night without wondering where she her flight on that train had taken her...and wondering if he would ever recover.