by Tanya Reed
This is the sequel to Rage: The Thunder Rolls.
Here are my original story summary and my original story notes:
In this sequel to Rage, Ben and Meg find out the consequences of what each of them considers his and her 'weakness' (thus the title.) Glen fingers Fraser as his attacker, and Ben, Meg, Elaine, and Ray all have to examine their feelings about the incident...and about each other.
This story took the better part of two months, as well as a lot of blood, sweat and tears, to write. It's the sequel to my story Rage: The Thunder Rolls, and it's advisable that you read that first or you'll be totally lost. I have to give thanks to the people who gave me advice, suggestions and helpful bruises information (though it's been so long you probably don't remember): Lora, Annie, Ice, Lucky, Sher, Magsy, Amanda, Lisa, and Alice. Also thanks as always to my betas, Amanda and Lisa.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Due South and no money is being made from my fiction. Everything is owned by Alliance Atlantis.
Without anymore blab from me, I'll go on into the story.
Prologue, Part 1
So, he knew.
The thought whirled around in a mind numb from discovery. Meg sat at her desk staring at the doorway where, moments before, a living, breathing being had stood. In fact, she saw him there still, his face and eyes revealing something she just could not believe. The tightness in her chest defied it and tried to dismiss it, but it wouldn't go away.
Yes, he knew; he knew of her shame; he knew of her weakness. She wondered what it was she had done to betray herself. What was it exactly that had called to him, ripping away her carefully constructed mask? Maybe she'd never know.
Her face, which had gone completely white at his declaration, now flooded with color as full realization hit. What he must think of her! How could he look to her for leadership when she had put herself in a position he would never put himself in? The heat of her cheeks deepened and she wished she had some cold water to put on them.
The duality she felt wasn't helping, she admitted to herself, biting her lip and looking down at her twined fingers. Part of her wanted to go to him. It saw what Fraser had done for her--he had made Glen Burrell feel every bruise and bit of pain she felt. For that, she ached to take Fraser into her arms and hug him until he knew how much his caring meant to her. Another part of her was afraid she'd never be able to look him in the eyes again.
With a soft sigh, she acknowledged that when it was still just a vague impossibility, something in her yearned for Glen's assaulter to be Fraser. She thought that in some way it might be a manifestation of a deep caring for her. Now that her wish was a reality, all there was was a slight feeling of shame and a deep confusion as to what was to happen next. Where did she go from here? It was ridiculous to think of her avoiding him for the rest of the time served together. It was impossible to imagine that they could ever be as they had been. There were so many things that he could do, and so many she could do as well. But what was the right thing? Meg had no idea. Maybe it would be best to pretend nothing had happened, that she had not seen that flash of pure honesty in Fraser's eyes--just as she had after the kiss. The thought of hiding behind another thick mask and acting as if there had been no Glen Burrell seemed appealing, but Meg didn't know if she could do it this time. Just the thought of his name caused a shudder to go through her body. It might be easier if she had a refuge--any refuge--but she didn't. Everytime she entered her apartment, he was there, tainting the very air she breathed. His presence was like a physical, malignant thing.
Then the images came again, as they did every time she allowed herself to think of him. She rushed to block them, but she just wasn't quick enough. They came slowly at first, then faster and faster until her mind was a torrid river of angry leers and remembered pain. Her ears filled with the sound of flesh against flesh and she desperately wondered if Fraser could see the things she saw. And how could she work side by side with him if she knew that he might? When he knew that she could be weak? That she was fallible?
The images grew sharper, biting at her soul. Her hands began shaking again, and she clenched them in disgust, fighting for control.
"Stop it. Stop it," she hissed, pushing at them with all of her will.
They receded with agonizing slowness, fighting her every bit of the way. She held her breath, not wanting to waste any energy on breathing. She hated that they could control her, that not only had she proven her weakness once but she continued to do so at least a hundred times a day. A voice came and mingled with the pictures. It was not Glen's voice, but that other, taunting one.
"What's wrong? Imagination getting away with you? You're pathetic."
Goaded into anger by the voice, Meg managed to get herself back in line. Unclenching, she got up from her desk, ignoring the shaking in her legs.
She had to leave. Meg couldn't stay there pretending everything was all right--especially knowing that Fraser was so close. She knew that the knowledge in his eyes could break her. It was more than her raw nerves could stand. The problem was that she couldn't stay at the Consulate and she certainly couldn't go home. With the images and feelings her livingroom evoked--and that wasn't counting the bathroom--it was painful to be there. Tightening her jaw, Meg's eyes wandered down to look at the little nicks scattered along her hands. She wasn't looking forward to the mess that would greet her. Had that only been last night?
Meg took her purse from the top desk drawer and searched for her compact. Peering into the tiny mirror, she made sure she looked presentable. Carefully, she touched up her mascara and the cover up on her bruise. The circles under her eyes, she couldn't seem to do anything with, so she gave up.
Squaring her shoulders, she put on her Inspector's mask, preparing to tell Turnbull she was going to lunch. If she was lucky, he and Fraser wouldn't burn down the Consulate while she was gone.
Prologue, Part 2
Why had he done it, Benton Fraser wondered, sitting at his desk, staring at the worn, scored wood. It would have been so easy to walk right out of her office, pretending that he had never heard the name Glen Burrell. He could have denied the whole thing, and she would never have known, but he hadn't. Something had made him turn and speak. What it was, he would never know, but that wasn't as important as what would happen next. How could he face her when she knew that he had lost control?
With a sigh, Fraser got up from his desk and began to pace. His mind wandered to the Inspector down the hall. He wondered what she was thinking, what she was feeling. Absently, he rubbed a knuckle along his eyebrow, remembering the look on her face when he had all but admitted his involvement in the assault. There was shock there, shock mingled with horror and something...was it fear? With all his heart, he hoped that it was not. The thought that she might fear him was pure torture. And what if she asked for explanations? What was he supposed to tell her? That the thought of someone hurting her enflamed him so much that he lost his senses? That he had physically overpowered someone because he was angry?
Fraser's cheeks began to burn with shame at the memory. Without trying, he could feel Burrell's fragile bones under his knuckles and the satisfaction of a blow hitting home. And he knew if he had the opportunity, he would do it again. That was the most embarrassing thing of all, knowing that--after all these years and all the time invested in walling away his emotions--he could still lose control. Completely. Totally. He wondered if Burrell would die. A queasiness in his stomach followed the realization that he didn't care.
The awareness of his weakness was like a slap in the face. He could hear his father's voice, admonishing him for letting emotion overrun reason.
"You let that man's actions make you irrational, son. That's not the way I taught you. Even now, his memory makes your insides clench. Let it go, Benton. Let it go."
The voice, as imagined now as it had been real in Burrell's apartment, made Ben think about the past. He had been young when pain made him learn to distance himself from his feelings. As he grew older, the distance grew into a wall so thick that no one could penetrate it--not until her.
Thoughts of Victoria turned his hot blood to ice. She had broken down his wall, taken everything he was, and then deserted him. He had paid dearly for his lapse in judgment, and he swore he would never lose control again. But then, his heart had never anticipated Meg.
Meg. Dark hair, snapping eyes, and the smell of home. She was sharp and hard and then suddenly it all fell away and, for a moment, softness and sadness would be glimpsed. He hadn't understood why she thrilled him or why he longed to be near her even if it was just to be pushed away, not until he realized what someone had taken away from her.
There was a deep vulnerability in Meg, hidden under layers of calm professionalism and cold ambition. He longed to love the vulnerability away and show her her worth in his eyes. A sudden desire to go to her office and take her battered body in his arms warred with his shame.
This thought made him figure out what it was that had ultimately broken his control. It was a desire to prove both to Meg and to himself that he would never allow anyone to treat her with disrespect. It was also a cry of outrage against someone who would treat something with rough, harsh hands that he yearned to give gentle caresses.
Once more, Fraser's emotions turned, thoughts of her assault making anger return. This time, though, it was a controlled, simmering anger. He would not give in to his weakness again.
Taking a deep breath and trying to think about paperwork instead of dark haired ladies and handsome, deceptive men, Fraser sat back in his chair. He was acutely aware of Meg nearby and could not help but wonder again what she was doing, what she was thinking.
And he also wondered if he'd ever be able to face her again.
End of prologue