|Series||RECKLESS by Pixichi|
|Previous||RECKLESS, Chapter 9|
|Next||RECKLESS, Chapter 11|
|← RECKLESS, Chapter 9||Chapter Chronology||RECKLESS, Chapter 11 →|
When Victoria entered the Riveters Rest, there was no one about, save a sickly looking barman. Victoria looked at the clock, it was 1:30 am. She was beginning to wonder if this elusive Gustavan was going to show up. Victoria was on the ever-ready alert, being in Bowerstone Industrial after dark was especially dangerous. But thanks to her father's clever disguises, she stood little chance of being spotted by any guards. Victoria was dressed in a thin soft dress, with red and yellow lines running along the sides. Her father had told her that the style was very popular in a far away land known as Aurora. He had explained that because of the cloths thin material, the Aurorans could wear the dresses even in the dead of summer and not be uncomfortable. Victoria also had her hair pulled back and it was carefully tucked away underneath her blue kerchief. She was sure that her disguise worked perfectly, that no one would recognize her. But someone did.
"Hey! Victoria, what are you doing back here?" A voice called from behind the princess. Daisy barked happily at Ben Finn. He was standing behind Victoria, grinning. "Listen, I don't mean to be rude, but the point of running away is that you usually try to never return."
"I'm not returning." Victoria murmured. "I have some business to attend to." Ben approached her and crossed his arms.
"What, at this ungodly hour? Do you have a meeting with an owl or something?" He joked.
"No, it's some sort of sailor actually. I just acquired a ship and there's a man who frequents here that I am hoping will supply me with a crew." She explained. Ben smiled his clever smile.
"Sounds like fun. Where are you off to then?"
"I'm not sure. I might go out towards Westcliff and fight in the Crucible." The princess proudly replied. Ben felt his jaw drop. This woman was even more amazing than he had initially thought.
"Royalty fighting in the Crucible eh? Never thought I'd see the day." He mused. Victoria couldn't help but notice that Ben was still wearing the soldier uniform that he had originally worn the day that they had first had met. It was then that she realized just how handsome he actually was. His dark blonde hair was a playful and carefree as he was, and his hazel eyes seemed to glimmer when he smiled. She also noticed two faint scars on both of his cheeks. She had heard from Walter once that soldiers and warriors alike would sometimes slice their opponents cheeks as a mark of great disrespect and shame. She remembered how Ben had acted when asked why he was running away, how he had simply replied that he had done something bad. Victoria pulled her stare away from his face, and looked down towards the sewers.
"Well, I told you before. I'm feisty." Ben continued to marvel at the princess as two shady looking men passed behind the two. Ben's keen instincts took over as one of them started to come over to Victoria, who was distracted by the pungent aroma of the sewers below. Ben flashed the scruffy man his pistol, carefully concealed within a tan flap on his rugged trousers. He shot the man a warning glare, and the man then decided to catch up with his buddy. Ben turned his attention back to Victoria, who by this time was scrunching up her nose at the oder.
"Beautiful isn't it? Just what this city needed. More pollution and less employment." Ben commented sarcastically. "Unless you want a job with Reaver. Me? I'd rather die. My ex-girlfriend lives down there you know, but don't tell your brother. She's a bit of a, shall we say, enemy of his."
"Enemy?" Victoria asked. Ben leaned in and whispered.
"The leader of the Bowerstone Resistance. Ohh, she'd kill me if she knew what I just told you." Ben snickered. Victoria looked at him.
"So? What would it matter to me anyway? I told you, I denounced my crown. Personally I'm more shocked that you had a girlfriend at all."
"What?! I'll have you know that I'm quite the ladies man!" Ben exclaimed, the princesses words stabbing his pride. "Why would you think otherwise?"
"You seem so desperate."
"When you met me, you harassed me constantly to have a meal with you." Victoria smiled.
"Well yeah, I mean look at you! Your beautiful, and smart, and a bombshell firecracker of a woman." Ben replied with a tone that made Victoria feel strange again. Her cheeks burnt with a heavy blush, one that she could not hide. Ben's hazel eyes gleamed again as he saw the fair-faced princess go red at his words. "It would appear that you enjoy my company after all." Victoria turned away.
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't. What of it?"
"Yeah? Well, I certainly do." Ben grinned boyishly.
"Well, your really cute for one thing."
"Cute?!" Victoria cried offended.
"What's wrong with being cute?"
"I'm an outlaw, a runaway! I'm meeting someone here tonight a two in the morning to man me a ship so that I can fight in a blood-splattered arena out in Westcliff. Does that sound cute to you?!"
"It's merely a compliment, all the girls in the city love to be called that."
"Oh, so now I'm the same as a city girl am I?!" The princess stormed away from the tavern.
"No! I never said...Hey Victoria wait!" Ben called after her. Victoria was not listening, and she wasn't going to wait around to hear more. She had always hated it when the nobles at the castle had tried to court her. But being wooed by this low class rouge was worse. While the men at the castle all wanted to change her into a 'proper' lady, at least they had known that she wasn't, like it or not. And at least they had never called her cute. And none would have dreamed of comparing her to a city girl. Andrea was a city girl, did Ben actually think that Victoria was a huge spoiled crybaby like her best friend?!
"No, I'm not like Andrea. I'm able to take care of myself." She muttered.
"Victoria, hey would you please stop jumping to conclusions and just listen to me?!" Ben caught up with the princess and grabbed her arm. Victoria looked at him with eyes that immediately made him let go.
"Leave me alone." She growled, reaching for her cutlass. Ben put both of his hands up and smiled his clever grin as he stepped back.
"Alright, calm down. I'll let you be. I just ask your permission for one thing before I go."
"Permission to apologize m'lady." He spoke in a strange solemn voice. Victoria tried to recall if she had ever seen him act this serious. "Look, I've been kind of an arse lately. I've been treating you like every other dame I've met. But the truth is, your different Victoria. Very different. And with saying that, I hope you will come to forgive my rude and vulgar comments someday." Ben took another step back before lowering his hands.
"Wait! Ben, how am I different?" She asked, afraid that he was going to say what everyone else always did; she was a princess.
"You're the first girl that I've met that doesn't want to be royalty, you're the first girl I've met that has a serious plan for her life," Ben locked eyes with Victoria and took a breath before uttering the last of his sentence, "and your also by far, the most beautiful woman that I have ever seen." Victoria stared at him, captivated by his words.
"Ben, that's the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to me." She replied.
"I was just calling it like it is. I've always been bad about stating the obvious." He laughed.
"It wasn't obvious to anyone else." She stepped closer to the young man. Ben was in awe of how lovely she looked, the full moon shone down upon her light blonde hair, kissing it in moonlight. Although she wore a simple dress, it was more than enough beauty for him.
"Victoria, I have to tell you something." Ben stated, walking right up to her.
"Yes? What is it?" She asked. The handsome rogue cautiously reached for the princesses hand. She stared at him, but didn't object. Ben clasped her warm hand gently, and smiled. Victoria smiled too. Usually, she hated it when men tried to hold her hand. But Ben seemed so serious about her, he wasn't just trying to marry a rich princess. He was trying to love a beautiful woman. With his other hand, he graced her cheek, Victoria jumped at the sudden touch, but his firm thumb stroking her cheek was more than enough to calm her. Victoria was unsure what was happening, she felt tremors in her heart that she could not name, her stomach would knot and then relax again, and her mind was dizzy and gleeful at the same time.
"I love you Victoria." As Ben brought the princesses face closer to his, Victoria let her eyes close, and there in the heart of Bowerstone Industrial, atop a bridge overlooking the trembling reflection of the moon, the two rogues shared a kiss.
Victoria was playing in the courtyard of Castle Fairfax, her loyal pet Daisy was running around her, barking happily. A bluish beetle scuttled by from between some foliage, and the wolfdog pounced upon it, piercing it's hard shell with her powerful jaws. Victoria cheered and proudly patted her beloved companion on the head. Then, the young girl ran over to the figure sitting on a bench reading a book. A tall, auburn haired woman looked up at the cheerful youth with deep blue eyes.
"Mommy!" Victoria cried, as she came ever closer to the woman she loved so very much. Victoria reached out her little hand as her mother reached for her. "Mommy, I'm here." She cried with youthful exuberance. Just as her tiny fingers felt the velvet of her mothers green gown, the woman disintegrated into dust.
"Mommy? What happened to you, where have you gone?" Victoria jumped back and screamed as thousands of spiders and snakes began to weave their way out of the pile that used to be her mother. The creatures came right towards the young princess. The child screamed again and began running, but the snakes and spiders were both gaining on her.
"Daisy! Daisy! Help me girl!" The child yelled and sobbed for her friend, but Daisy was nowhere in sight. Victoria kept running until she reached the center of the courtyard, where a grand tree stood. The child wrapped her arms around the trunk, in a desperate attempt to climb up and escape. But the bark was too slippery, and her pursuers were almost upon her. Then, the earth shook and gave way beneath her small feet. The tree sank into the earth and was replaced as a large stone mausoleum rose in its place. Victoria watched in horror as her mother's grave rose up out of the ground, towering over her. The doors of the mausoleum swung open, and a chilly wind pulled Victoria deep into its depths.
Victoria awoke, drenched in sweat and screaming. Her nude chest rose and fell and her heart threatened to explode from palpitations. Ben rolled over and looked up at her. He could see that she was in obvious distress, but he wasn't sure why.
"Victoria, are you alright?" He asked. Victoria squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head violently.
"No, I'm not. I had a nightmare." Ben held her closer and he felt her shiver in his arms.
"Shhhh. It's gonna be ok, just tell me what you dreamt." He crooned.
"I-I was playing in the royal courtyard with Daisy, we were killing beetles. I was a child again, and we always played that game back then." She stuttered. "I was so happy when I saw my mother sitting in the distance, so I ran over to give her a hug." Ben nodded, encouraging her to continue.
"When I touched her dress, she crumbled into dust, and these things came out of the dust and chased after me. I ran, but they just kept coming. When I got to the mausoleum where my mother is buried, the doors flew open and sucked me inside..." She broke down, both terrified, and forlorn. "Oh Ben! I miss my mom!" The princess cried into his arms. Ben consoled her, gently rocking her trembling body back and forth in his arms. He kissed her soft blonde hair.
"It's going to be alright. Your safe now." Victoria stopped crying momentarily and looked up at his kind and loving face. "I promise, I will never let you come to harm."