Disclaimer: I do not own Due South. The series is owned by Alliance/ Atlantis. No infringement is intended. All original characters are beloved creations (and property) of their benevolent deity, me! Denigoddess2001.

Note: I've become reaqquainted with Due South and have decided to dip my toes into fanfiction after many years absence. This is A/U where Victoria is one of the good guys and there is a twist. Enjoy!

Title: Love and Red Serge

Author: Denigoddess2001

Rating: M (old-school "R")

A season without Benton Fraser was a journey into hell. 120 days, 2,880 hours, countless cups of coffee, and her heart quit beating the moment he was no longer with her.

Benton Fraser was the soul mate she never expected to find. Every oddbeat anecdote, each 'thank-you kindly,' brought her world into perfect synchronization. When Ben disappeared, the world stopped turning. Each day that passed without knowing if he would return to her caused her heart unbearable anguish. Victoria Metcalf had experienced many tribulations in her life, but never on as soul-ripping as not knowing if she would ever see him again after he disappeared into the Yukon.

Without Benton near, all the things she considered true suddenly turned into a surrealistic daze of confusion. Knowing he was not in her life, down the street, in the city or even in the same country terrified her. Coming home from the Consulate as Turnbull took over for the night was almost unbearable. The condo was too silent, sterile and barren. She needed Ben to fill the space, to make it home. Without him, it became a tomb.

Month One: Victoria walked around in a daze. Thinking that Benton might contact her at any given moment, she refused to leave the Consulate despite Turnbull's promise to alert her of any breaking news. Nothing dissuaded Victoria Metcalf, pulling extra shifts at the Consulate to remain occupied and useful. Filing and organizing kept her busy, but she made sure not to let her facade crack, wiping stray tears when Turnbull too engrossed with the Queen hanging on the wall. She barely slept because of the nightmares filled with nothing but snow, ice and the hollow void of Arctic silence. When awake, she became of flurry of productivity. She updated files, answered phones and reorganized records, trying to prevent her thoughts from focusing on a particular Mountie with an integral shyness and a slew of odd factoids stored inside his brain. When the night came, she prayed for his safety and baptized her pillow in hot tears.

Month Two: Victoria starved. She lived off strong black coffee and Morley cigarettes that she kept hidden from the obtrusive Turnbull. Victoria imagined Benton standing behind her, his voice in her head lecturing her about the hazards associated with smoking, spouting off statistics and facts of diseases connected with the habit. She smoked, because hearing Benton's voice took the edge off her heartache.

He can lecture me all he wants just as long as he is here to do it, Victoria promised the the Powers-That-Be. Better to be crazy than painfully lucid.

Month Three: Woman cannot live on willpower alone. Too many cups of coffee and not enough food caused her to fall from a ladder while dusting the Queen's picture that hung on the wall near the staircase in the Consulate. Turnbull drove her back to her condo, ordered her to get some sleep or he would report her to Inspector Thatcher, leaving before Victoria had time to protest. Unable to find her car keys, she concluded that Turnbull had confiscated them from her purse. Once home, she stripped the red serge from her body and allowed herself the luxury of a long hot bath, complete with New Age music and aromatic candles.

Falling asleep in the tub, the water's heat seeped into her bones, washing away the weariness of her soul. The candles smelled of pine and cinnamon; the pine being Benton's favorite and the scented spice being hers. Victoria pulled one of Benton's plaid flannel shirts from the closet, wrapping it around her. She barely made it to the bed before her memories flooded her mind and she sank to the floor. Leaning against the bedside, the sobs that escaped her did nothing to alleviate Benton's absence. Exhausted and spent, she climbed into bed and dreamt cold dreams.

She stood in a field of snow and ice, her handsome Mountie stood before her. How had the noble, shy oddball Canadian captured her heart without her knowing? She knew that answer well. It was the first time he had ever held her hand, a strong and gentle touch followed by a sincere gaze from blue eyes when they first met. Slowly, his quirky warm smile had melted the glacier encapsulating her heart. Benton's presence always reminded her to look at the world with fresh eyes instead of cynical ones. She knew he was an eternal optimist and a hopeless romantic. He needed protecting.

The ice reflected the full moon's light in the arctic night as he stood there in red and black, his smile warming her despite the frigid breeze. His eyes, as bright as winter skies and his lips were only a word a way from a sweet kiss.

She stood in the gently falling snow and felt nothing but the warmth of his embrace as he held her close. She felt his passion match hers, kiss for kiss and touch for touch. It reminded Victoria of their first kiss; innocent, unexpected and initiated by Benton. She thought him too shy and naive to initiate a such an intimate kiss, tasting her with his tongue and suckling her lower lip. Lesson the first: never underestimate a Mountie, especially Benton Fraser. Again, he inspired her to look at the world and him through fresh eyes. That was simply his gift and his way: the way all logic and reality ceased when his lips met hers and all seemed right in the world when he held her.

"I love you."

How sweetly and softly those words fleeted on the arctic breeze when they fell from his lips. They melted the glacier holding her heart in suspended animation. Victoria never had trouble expressing her opinion, but never held the bravery to admit her emotions... until Benton. Her heart nearly burst as she told him, "And I love you."

She remembered the first time they kissed. Benton's tentative touches and tender words, his masculine body pressing against hers, his quiet and ragged breaths tickling her ear made her feel more treasured and cherished than anything she had ever experience with another human being. With love and red passion surging in her veins, she knew she had lost her heart to the unassuming Mountie.

The scene floated away on a ribbon of white mist as snowflakes flitted in the air. He knelt before her in his dress uniform, his breathing shallow and rapid as he opened a tiny black velvet box containing a ring symbolizing eternity.

"Victoria Metcalf, I vow to love you for eternity — every moment of it. Will you kindly do me the honor of becoming my wife?" Benton looked up at her through a hooded gaze, hiding his nervous and uncertainty, but doing a horrible job of it. His blue eyes were gentle as they always were, but now burned with an intensity she only saw when he was on the trail of a criminal.

Her breath fled her lungs when she realized what he was asking, asking her to forever bond herself to him before Providence and humanity. Forever and Always. Despite her vices, her abrasiveness and impatience, her hot temper and her penchant for profanity, this Mountie loved her without hesitation or reservation. Sincerely and succinctly. The look of anxiousness melted away from his boyishly handsome features when she murmured, "Yes, Benton."

The next morning, she resolved to regain control of her life. Benton never abandoned hope in others, nor should she in him. Again, she knew she was guilty of underestimating him as so many others often did. No more. He would return and she would be there to greet him with open arms and loving kisses.

Victoria found the strength to get out of bed and report to work at the Consulate. Without her keys, she turned to public transit to get to work. Every touching recollection of Benton filled her senses while she plotted to make Turnbull suffer for stealing her car keys. She stared at the pale reflection of her face in the bus window. She was not a damsel in distress nor a fragile fainting female. She was a scrapper and a Mountie. She was a Metcalf, damn it! "Never give up and never give in. Bend, but never break!" That had always been her personal motto. She refused to allow the pain any more dominion over her.

Benton, come home. I need you here.

Victoria, upon arriving to work at the Consulate, bullied Turnbull into getting Bagels for the deli down the street. She assuaged her guilt by giving him the money to pay for them and then thanking him for fetching them. She became a crimson tide of activity, darting around the office and making it tidy and efficient. Victoria found the courage to enter Benton's office where dust had collected over the last few months. She spent an hour vacuuming and dusting while repeating the mantra in her thoughts as inspiration, "He'll come home. I feel it in my bones."

Month Four: Victoria cleaned the condo and held a garage sale to get rid of unnecessary clutter. She also included the picture of the Queen that had caused her so much harm in the first place, just to spite Turnbull. She imagined his cry of outrage and found great satisfaction in that vision. Later that day, she called Turnbull to see if he had heard anything from the Consulate during the weekend. She also knew he would have told her had he heard anything regarding Benton's whereabouts. She wanted nothing more than to get her man back. She had been living on the memory of the moment of when she first met, four years prior,an annoying Canadian Mountie with an integrity she wished she possessed. Chicago no longer seemed so windy and cold once she met him.

"Victoria?" She heard a familiar voice say her name as thought it were a sacred prayer.

Folders and papers fell from her grasp as she whirled around to see a tall silhouette sanding in the doorway. Broad shoulders garbed in red took up the width of the doorway and his Sam Brown belt accentuate with breath of his chest. A Stetson shielded his eyes from view, but she knew every fleck of blue that sparkled in them. Breath caught between them, causing them both to give pause. Then, he strode across the room and she left the mess of papers behind her, running into his open arms.

"Please tell me this isn't a dream," Victoria pleaded, her words muffled as Benton hugged her tightly to him. "You're not a hallucination, are you?"

"No, I'm not," he murmured softly into her hair.

Dark brown eyes looked intently into warm blue ones. "Prove it."

His eyes widened infinitesimally, seeming taken about by his beloved's stubbornness. "My name is Constable Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I have returned to Chicago after having apprehended the assailant of my fiancé, and for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I have returned to my beloved Victoria."

"Only you would ramble on that long just to let me know you're back," she mumbled sardonically. She looked up into his winter sky gaze, "Welcome home, Benton."

He still says fifty words when five will do, Victoria thought as she returned his embrace, inhaling the combination of pine, leather, serge and fresh arctic snow. She wondered if she opened her eyes if he would suddenly be gone and it all nothing more than just a bittersweet dream. He held her tightly to him, holding her close while his voice whispered loving words in her ear and his lips rained kisses on her flesh. She knew it all to be true. He was there. He was home. How long this time?

Benton sensed her wariness and pulled away a little, looking down at her through eyes laden with worry. Victoria brushed her fingers along his cheek, tracing his jaw to embed every part of him into her psyche. Joy became anger at the thought that he might vanish again without word or trace. Red surged through her veins as hot anger conquered the bliss in her. She didn't want him to change and ignore his calling, his duty. She knew that he had obligations, but damn it! She needed him as well. Living with him part of the time was agonizing, but living without him guaranteed hell on earth. Maybe, the numbness of his continued absence would kill the feelings. No, she didn't even want to consider that option. She knew what that meant she had to do.

Victoria Metcalf felt a rush of passion as Benton's lips pressed kisses against her throat. She wanted the ultimate intimacy, a closeness only mates knew. Wolves mated for life in the wild and now, she felt 100 percent alpha. Hungrily, she entwined her fingers in his hair, pulling his lips to hers. Her voice came out a feminine growl, "Mine."

Moving forward, he kicked his Counsulate office door shut with one strong, decided motion. She almost ripped the buttons from his red tunic as she hastily undid the gold buttons, letting her tongue taste the masculine flavor of his kiss. A low groan escaped Benton, when her lips planted kisses on the erogenous pulse points of his skin. She ruined the tartaned flannel she wore when he ripped it open. She stared in silent awe as she absorbed the vision of his towering frame. She pulled away, his bottom lip catching with hers for a moment and she pressed herself against him. Tears formed in her eyes again and she willed them to stop, but they flowed freely down her flushed cheeks. She had lived too much of her life hiding from her emotions, and she wouldn't hide her heart from the Love of her life.

Benton burned her soul with his hooded gaze, lifting her into his arms and stepping between her thighs as he pressed her against the door frame. Only a thin wisp of satin and lace prevented him contact from the woman who claimed him as her mate, keeping him from claiming her in the way she most needed.

"Oh, Ben," Victoria gasped, as she hitched her legs her legs high around his waist. "Don't you dare leave like that again. I'll hunt you down myself and drag you back, kicking and screaming, if I have to."

"Never again," he promised, pressing kisses against her lips, temples, cheeks and neck with each solemn vow. "Never again, my darling."

"Now, Ben!" she urged him as his fingers caught the thin lacy strap and ripped it away. He brought his hips to hers and they melded into one entity.

"Oh, yes," he muttered against her skin. "Now."

He came to her, strong and hard, need driving him and primal instinct governing his passions. He heard a small moan erupt from her and Benton abruptly stilled his thrusts.

"I am sorry," he whispered against her throat. "I don't want to hurt you, Love. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"Hurt me, Ben?" she laughed. Victoria pressed two fingers against his lips. "Shhh, I'm not made of porcelain, Benton. I want more, please…"

With one thrust, he sheathed himself in her to the hilt. She cried out as he moved again and their eyes locked. Victoria held him to her as he melded into her, vowing to never let him go. If this what what she must bear for love, then she promised to bear it well like a flag of honor.

Benton thrust deeper, his teeth scraping the heated skin of her neck. He pressed his brow against hers, "I love you."

She felt the warmth splash inside her as his eyes locked once more with hers, blue to brown. He gently lowered her to her feet, taking her full weight upon him. Her legs became useless columns, numbed by the thorough mating that they just completed. She felt utterly and thoroughly stated, for now.

Silence fell between them as the long shadows of night gave way to the brightness of morning. No words needed said. Benton was her Arctic Angel, a part of her that both soothed and incited her. He was both her heart and her desire. Her Love and Red Surge.