Work Header

Ice Queen Victoria Thaws Her Heart

Chapter Text

Ice Queen Victoria Thaws Her Heart

Lanel Labat Dubelais

Alternate Universe Fan Fiction based on Life is Strange by DonTnoD


Chapter One: Regrets


    Victoria Maribeth Chase awoke in a sweat, crying from her troubling dreams, she wiped the tears from her eyes then fumbled her glasses from the small table by the head of her bed. Placing them on the bridge of her nose, she turned to regard her tear-soaked, splotchy face in the mirror by her dorm room door. “Ugh, God! I’m such a fucking mess! It’s all that Kate Marsh’s fault, she’s taking my Vortex Club video stunt too personally, she’s not normal! We all play these pranks on each other at the parties, nobody takes it seriously. That stupid little Bible thumper behaves like her world is ending. God!” Victoria had trouble admitting to herself that she was increasingly anxious and worried by Kate’s shut-in behavior, there hadn’t been the sound of Kate’s violin playing in over a week. Victoria was accustomed to hearing Kate’s movements through the thin wall that separated their dorm rooms, but lately there’d been an ominous silence. Was Kate that depressed?


    Victoria groggily assembled her toiletries, towels and a clean change of undergarments, so that she could depilate and clean up in the dormitory showers before returning to her room to groom and dress. She took a moment to shut her glasses in a drawer and place a clean set of contact lenses over her corneas. It wouldn’t do to have the dorm residents see her wearing nerdy glasses, although it was her secret comfort while alone in her dorm room, while studying or watching anime movies on her HDTV. Wrapped in her white terrycloth robe and clutching her shower bundle, Victoria closed the door and turned towards the long hall that ran past the bathroom wing, which was cattycorner, just across the way to her right. Victoria was annoyed to see that Caulfield hipster in those tacky little girl pajamas, cautiously knocking on Kate Marsh’s door, which happened to be between herself and where she wanted to go. Maxine Caulfield, looking up to see a scowling and annoyed Victoria, dropped her gaze and shuffled back across the hall to her own door, directly across from Victoria’s. Caulfield flashed a resentful and accusatory frown towards Victoria as she quickly closed the door behind her. “The nerve!” Victoria snorted as she marched to the bathroom, head held high in a challenging attitude should any of the commoners dare to meet her eyes. After all, no one of lesser rank should dare to look the Queen of Blackwell Academy directly in her eyes, it would surely merit a reprimand. Upon entering the dorm bathroom, Victoria relaxed and smiled to herself as she noted that the only girls in the bathroom were her bestie, Taylor Christensen, and her toady, Courtney Wagner, who were both at the sink mirrors, heads wrapped in towels, fresh from the showers. Courtney must have slept over, as she didn’t reside in the dorms, Victoria felt a stab of jealousy at the thought that Courtney had probably snuggled all night in that little twin bed with her bestie, “Sweet T.”

    Courtney turned to greet Victoria after spitting out her toothpaste and hastily rinsing her mouth with water scooped from the running faucet with her hand. “Ugh! Oh, Hi Tori! Somebody erased the link to Bible Thumper’s Vortex Club Video, you know, the one you’d tagged on the mirror here with lipstick?” Victoria huffed. “Yeah, well, I’m not feeling so proud of that one, so, let’s leave it off. Besides, I’d just caught Hipster Trash outside of Kate’s door. I think she’s the one who erased my nasty remark, ‘Will Bang 4 Jesus,’ from the whiteboard by Kate’s door, leaving a typical ‘Lamefield’ peace sign in its place!” Taylor joined in with a worried frown. “Jeez, Tori, so it’s ’Kate,’ now? Sounds like you’re having regrets about teasing her.” Victoria turned around so that her subjects wouldn’t see her wiping a brimming tear from her eyes. “I had a really bad dream about what could happen from harassing Kate, it stopped being funny and started being, well, a concern. Kate stopped answering her door, even Caulfield couldn’t get her to open, and we all know what besties those two losers are!” Courtney scoffed. “Don’t tell me you’re sorry for what we’re doing, that’s not like you, Tori, you never apologize for anything, what will the rabble think? You can’t show any weakness, you’re the Queen of Blackwell, after all!”

    Victoria turned back to Courtney with a scowl. “Don’t be such a sycophant, Wagner! Sometimes I need to share my doubts with friends, in private of course, like we’re doing now. I’m troubled over the consequences of this stupid little campaign to ruin Kate’s image. I mean, let’s face it, was she really a threat to me? Sure, her dumb Abstinence Club and her pegboard flyers against recreational drugs is annoying, but it’s not like anybody we care about would even notice her efforts. Kate’s not trying to take my office or anything, she’s just some backwards little Christian do-gooder. I, ugh, I’m feeling guilty for being so relentlessly mean to her, I think that she’s seriously depressed because of me, so I’d appreciate it, Courtney, if you would leave Kate alone as well.” Courtney was hurt and stunned at Victoria singling her out for a reprimand. “Why do you always blame me, Tori, what about your bestie, Taylor?” Victoria shook her head and flashed a brief smile towards Taylor. “My ‘Sweet T’ is naturally kind-hearted, I’ve seen her talking nice with Kate and Caulfield, when she thinks I’m not paying attention. Besides, Taylor doesn’t hesitate to call me on my bullshit, her honesty and concern for me is why she’s my bestie. As for you, Courtney, I appreciate your loyalty and usefulness, you always give a hundred and ten percent in forwarding my agendas, but you also take advantage of your assumed prestige. Let’s be honest, Courtney, you are petty and malicious towards anybody else that you deem to be beneath you. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen you bully and belittle the other students; I can only imagine how much more grief you’ve dished out that I’m unaware of. As much of a bitch as I behave like, you take it to a new level. Sure, it’s useful to go along with you playing ‘Bad Cop’ to Taylor’s ‘Good Cop,’ but in your case, Courtney, you’re not playing!” Courtney, red-faced, sniffling and choking back a sob, gathered her toiletries and fled the bathroom, leaving Victoria and Taylor alone.

    Taylor moved closer to Victoria and gave her a hug, Tori sobbed into her “Sweet T’s” neck and shoulder. “You always know how to comfort me when I fuck up, Tee, what would become of me if I didn’t have your friendship?” Taylor kissed Tori on her temple and hugged her harder, then Taylor opened her towel and brushed her exquisite nipples against Tori’s robe. “Open it, Tori, so the girls can touch!” Blushing, Victoria untied her terrycloth belt and let the robe fall open, then Taylor pressed her chest against Tori’s erect nipples and brushed their areolae back and forth until Tori was panting with desire. Taylor knelt to playfully lick Victoria’s hardened, sensitive nipples, then straightened up with a saucy grin. “Oh, Tori! You’re so deliciously salty this morning, may I check you out?” Victoria gulped and nodded yes. “I woke up drenched in sweat from a nightmare, Tay-Tay, I’m feeling all gross and disgusting!” Taylor pursed her lips as she scrutinized Victoria’s toned, athletic torso, lingering on Tori’s delightfully trimmed pubic display, before meeting Victoria’s worried gaze with Taylor’s signature smiling eyes. “Tch-tch, Tori, I love your natural scent, you couldn’t be disgusting if you tried! I’m so sorry that you had bad dreams, though, would you like to tell me about them?” Victoria blushed, nodded again and smiled uncertainly as Taylor slid her hand down between Victoria’s thighs and stroked her moist, sticky privates, Victoria closed her eyes and moaned softly, Taylor gave Tori a soft, sensuous kiss on her parted lips. “Oh, Babe! You’re all stubbly down there, you’ll get a rash while scissoring your divine thighs as you march through the halls of Blackwell today! I’ll come to your room, after you shower, and trim you up real sweet and neat, okay? You can tell me about your dreams while I work on you. Would you like for me to join you in the shower, Tori? I could scrub your back and shampoo your hair.” Tori turned to give her “Sweet T” an affectionate peck on the lips, then closed her robe. “Tempting, Tee, but you’re already clean and, besides, somebody could come in here at any moment (Sigh.) I’ve gotten a lady boner holding you like this, so, now I’ll have to go in the shower and rub one out, thinking of you the whole time, of course, Tay-Tay.” Taylor beamed as she held Victoria at arm’s length. “I love it when you get all Gay and Fluffy, Tori, I just wanted to comfort and pamper you, that’s all. I’m still ready to do more of this with you, as you know, but it was your decision to keep me at a distance, or at least as far as your pretty pussy is concerned, dearest Tori. I’ve got to go and check on Courtney, then I’ll wait for you in your room, just wearing my towel of course, so, ta-ta for now sweetie.” Taylor gave her Tori butterfly kisses on the eyelids and gathered her things to leave, with a smile and a flutter of fingertips in Victoria’s direction.

    Victoria had to bite back a moan as she vigorously rubbed herself to a climax while the hot shower coursed down her trembling body and scalded deliciously between her slippery folds. Victoria panted as she felt her pulsing spray squirting between her fingers. Eyes clamped shut as she whimpered while sucking her personal fluids from her fingertips, Victoria recalled when she and “Sweet T” had experimented with girl-on-girl sexuality. It was too bad that the only one who climaxed was Victoria, as Taylor had been cooperative and obliging, but it was painfully obvious that she only went through the motions, as sex with Victoria didn’t get Taylor off. All Victoria had left was the tormenting memory of Taylor’s sweet, hard little titties and her aromatic, neatly trimmed blond bush (Oh, Tay-Tay!) Victoria toweled off and went to the sink mirror to dutifully shave her underarms and pluck any stray hairs from her eyebrows, then she donned her robe and went back to her room, eagerly anticipating a very personal grooming by the skilled hands of her “Sweet T.”

    Closing her dorm room behind her, Victoria turned to see a smiling Taylor, loose towel opened to reveal her lovely breasts and privates, sitting on the edge of the bed with her legs slightly open. Tori turned to lock the door and then dropped her robe to climb into the bed and position herself for an intimate grooming. Taylor rose to go to the desk and drag the chair over towards the bed as Victoria scooted into position with her thighs spread and her buttocks near the edge of the bed. Taylor sorted through Victoria’s shower bundle until she found the wax kit, and, with businesslike precision, she used a wooden applicator to spread the sticky wax in precise lines on either side of Tori’s pubic display, pressed the gauze strips to entangle the waxy stubble, and then smartly ripped the strips away as Victoria threw her head back and yelped lustily from the excruciating, burning pain. Taylor was swift to dab a soothing lotion along the smarting, reddened folds and creases on both sides of Victoria’s freshly delineated vulva, gently massaging away the stinging pain as she removed the remaining wax residues. “There you go, my darling Tori, all pretty and smooth down there again. I’m sorry that beauty must hurt you so much, would you like for me to kiss the boo-boos and make them all better?” Tori whimpered and nodded, tears brimming in her eyes as she spread her trembling thighs wider. Taylor bent down to plant kisses on the reddened areas of Tori’s crotch creases, to either side of Victoria’s prominent vertical bar of groomed pubic hair. Then Taylor picked up the little scissors to snip stray curls and shape Tori’s pubic display to perfection, bending down to plant an affectionate little kiss directly on Victoria’s aroused, moist crease. Victoria inhaled sharply, moaned and looked pleadingly into Taylor’s eyes. “More?” Taylor sighed and smacked Tori on her firm buttocks, then stretched to grasp Victoria by her wrists and tug her into a sitting position on the edge of the bed. “Don’t be greedy, Tori, besides, you already took care of yourself in the shower, didn’t you?” Victoria leaned forward to hold Taylor’s face and plant a sensual kiss on her lips, probing tentatively with the tip of her tongue. Taylor tightened her lips and pulled back with a rueful grin. “You know that I love you, Tori, but I’m your bestie now, not your girlfriend anymore, we both agreed to find somebody else to meet our sexual needs! Now then, didn’t you promise to tell me about your bad dreams?”

    Victoria sighed, casting a mournful glance at Taylor, while rising from the bed to begin dressing for the day ahead, as Taylor turned to her own folded stack of clothing to follow suit. “Fine, Tay-Tay, but it’s unfair to have you touching me down there without following through!” Taylor smirked as she pulled up her panties and fastened her bra. “We go through this every time I groom your pretty pussy, Tori, I love being your ‘personal’ assistant, Tori my darling, but I still must draw the line at being your lover, because that’s the way you said that you wanted matters between us! Oh, by the way, I couldn’t help but noticing your mock hostile acting out towards Caulfield, could you be harboring amorous intentions towards our resident hipster?” Victoria blushed and gasped. “As if! God, Taylor, you can be so annoying at times!” Taylor laughed. “Scored!” Victoria scoffed. “We’re off topic, Taylor, I thought that you wanted to hear about my dream?” Taylor snickered. “Nice diversion, Tori, but okay, what was so bad that you woke up in a sweat?”

    Victoria collapsed into her chair, hunched over with her face in her hands. “The dream started out so real, Taylor, as if I was actually there in a waking reality, I didn’t experience the usual weird distortions and changes happening, like in my normal dreams. I remember that I was just about to sit at my table in Jefferson’s photography class, when I turned and saw him out in the hallway talking to Kate with an angry expression. Kate never misses a class, but this time she was weeping and turned to hurry away towards the building exit. I became afraid and worried for Kate, so I left the classroom, ignoring Jefferson shouting at me, and tried to catch up with her, but she’d already passed through the far door. I passed Caulfield out in the hall, she was looking towards where Kate had run and had a worried look on her face. When I rushed outside it was windy and rainy, the afternoon was so dark from the low-hanging clouds, that it was like dusk outside. I could barely make out Kate through the curtains of rain sweeping through the quad, she had almost reached the dormitory building and passed out of my sight around the north wing, so I picked up my pace trying to catch up with her. After I passed through the doors and started up the stairs to the girl’s dorm, I noticed that Kate’s wet footsteps didn’t go through the second-floor doors, but rather, had diverted through the door to the small stairs leading up to the roof. I panicked and started screaming her name as I struggled up those stairs, I’d slowed down from exhaustion and I couldn’t make any headway. I heard the door to the roof slam, and I forced myself to climb until I grasped the handle and shoved the door open against the wind and rain forcing it closed. I fell to my knees, in a puddle on the roof, as I saw Kate standing on the lip of the roof, looking down. I shouted her name and she looked back at me with such bitterness and reproach that I was paralyzed, unable to reach her. Then, oh my God, Taylor! Kate just dropped off the roof, disappearing from my sight, then I woke up screaming, crying and soaked in perspiration!”

    Taylor pulled her sobbing Tori into a hug and gently stroked Tori’s shoulders, trying to comfort her. “We all went along with tormenting Kate, so, why are you blaming yourself?” Victoria started weeping again. “Because I went along with Nathan pranking Kate when he dosed her drink with that powdered ecstasy, but by the way she reacted, it looks like he gave her too much! Oh, Taylor, you were there, you saw me video recording Kate with my i-Phone. I’m the one who captioned her video of kissing those jocks and stoners, contrasting her hypocritical behavior with her Abstinence Club leadership and her Anti-Drug Group involvement. Then, I sent the link to everybody in my contact list and put it on the web. Now I feel guilty for destroying Kate’s reputation, she’s so depressed that I can see her losing it more each day, Kate even stopped talking to Maxine Caulfield, and that’s the best friend she has here!” Taylor looked worried for her friend. “So, what are you going to do about all of that now, Tori?” Victoria, still in her panties and sports bra, had a determined look on her face as she dropped into the chair and scooted over to her laptop. “I want you to be my witness, Taylor, I’m taking down Kate’s video and nullifying the link. I’ll need your help convincing the other Vortex Club members, especially Courtney, to back off from ridiculing and harassing Kate. Oh, and Tay-Tay, would you help me keep an eye on Kate? Maybe you could try talking to Kate when you see her, we can’t just stand by and let her do something stupid!” Taylor nodded, frowning slightly at Victoria’s request. “I mean, sure, I can try to talk to Kate, but we’d barely even talked to each other before this whole Vortex Club scandal. Remember, Tori, I was the one who beaned Kate with a nasty, wadded up note in Jefferson’s class, it said: “Dear Kate, We love your porn video, XOXO Blackwell Academy,” so, she really has no reason to trust me, now.”

    Victoria sighed and nodded. “Okay, Tay-Tay, you don’t have to talk to Kate, I don’t think that she would listen to me, either, but please help me watch out for her. I couldn’t handle the guilt if she hurt herself, or, God forbid, tried to commit suicide!” Taylor pulled Victoria up out of her chair and hugged her tight. “Oh, my dearest Tori, I just realized something!” Victoria sniffled, swallowing her tears and phlegm. “Please, Taylor, don’t say it!” Taylor kissed Victoria on her tear-streaked cheek. “No, Tori, you have to be honest with yourself or nothing will turn out right for you, just hear me out.” Victoria started weeping and hitching again, gasping and wracked by sobs, Taylor held Victoria steady as her knees buckled. “Tori, Tori please, I know you, I know how hard it is for you to admit weakness, but you need to cry sometimes, you hold everything in, and it makes you sick. Please listen, now, okay?” Victoria lost the last shred of her control and started bawling, Taylor slid her arms around Victoria’s torso and held her tight so that they were embracing each other as Victoria trembled and hiccupped, gasping for breath between bouts of weeping, as she released her pent-up sorrow. “Oh God, Taylor, how could I do that to Kate, she’s so defenseless and sweet, what kind of a cruel, heartless monster have I become?” Taylor shushed her Tori. “You’re not heartless, Tori, because now your heart is breaking. You want to take care of Kate; you want to protect her from the consequences of the harm you’d caused her. Tori, don’t you see it yet? These feelings are a big part of love, you aren’t just afraid of Kate dying and leaving you with the blame and guilt, Tori, you are afraid of losing her, you have fallen in love with Kate Beverly Marsh and you feel like you don’t deserve her.”

    Victoria vented a prolonged cry as she slid to her knees, clutching Taylor’s hips and burying her face into the panties of her bestie’s warm and aromatic crotch, attempting to stifle her hitching, gasping and weeping. Taylor let her own tears fall on the crown of Victoria’s head as she stroked her Tori’s silky pixie-cut hair, gently pressing Tori’s hot, moist face deeper into the comfort of Taylor’s welcoming thighs. “Oh, sweetheart, it’s okay, Babe, it’s okay. You need to cry out these feelings and you know that I’m always here for you when you need me, dearest Tori!” Taylor gracefully knelt and pulled Victoria into a close embrace, then pulled back to again stroke her heaving shoulders and plant kisses on her cheeks and eyelids. “Tori, I want you to stand up and look at yourself in the mirror, before you apply your makeup and brush your hair. Don’t you see how naturally beautiful you are when you’re just being yourself without all of the social armor you wear? This is the Tori I adore, my best friend without all of the make-up, the high fashion clothing and the superior, haughty attitude. Kate is simple and plain, but her loveliness comes from within. When Kate smiles at you, Tori, she isn’t impressed by your fashionista bitch persona, I believe that she is recognizing the sweetness you try so desperately to conceal. Don’t be so defensive and guarded, Tori, you should let down your barriers and just be yourself with Kate!” Victoria broke out into more sobs. “Oh, Taylor! After everything I’ve done, I’m afraid that it’s too late, how can I expect Kate to listen to me now? Is there any hope at all that she will give me a second chance?” Taylor fetched a tissue and dabbed gently at Victoria’s wet, salty cheeks. “Let’s get ready for the day, Tori, I’m confident that you’ll find a way to break the ice with Kate. You’re relentless when you set your mind on a goal, Tori, and this is a good and worthy one. For the healing of your heart, you must let Kate in, try to be ready for anything and, Tori, as hard as it may be for you to do, please drop your defenses, be open and humble. Kate may say some hurtful things to you, Tori, accept whatever she says to you and don’t be bitchy and argumentative, for once.”

    Taylor finished dressing and departed for her own room while Victoria was putting the finishing touches on her own make-up. She glanced out the window and noticed the overcast, blustery weather, it looked like rain was on the way, so, with a sigh, Victoria rummaged in her wardrobe for a pair of black canvas running shoes and changed them out to replace the expensive beige low-top soft leather boots she was wearing. Her cashmere sweater would likely be ruined in a downpour, so Victoria carefully removed it in favor of a black denim jacket, dressing down from her preferred high-fashion ensemble. Victoria smiled ironically as she examined herself in the mirror, this casual look might make her seem less intimidating and more approachable, so, it’s all good. Slinging the strap of her bag over her shoulder, Victoria turned off the light switch as she entered the hallway and closed the door behind her. She sighed as she passed room 222, Kate’s door, on the way to the second-floor exit, she debated internally whether or not to knock, but lacked the courage to follow through. Victoria paused at the last door on her right, room 224, and rapped sharply, calling out to Taylor, who opened the door with her usual sunny smile, warming Victoria’s heart. Glancing past Taylor, Victoria noted that Courtney had already left, she was probably still sulking somewhere and wanted to avoid contact, Victoria didn’t mind Courtney’s absence in the least. “Taylor, the weather is lousy, so let’s forego our usual stroll to the off-campus coffee shop and just settle for something at the school cafeteria.” Taylor smirked and lightly punched Victoria’s shoulder. “And maybe, just maybe you’re hoping to find Kate there?” Victoria huffed and didn’t deign to justify Taylor’s comment with a reply.

    Victoria and Taylor hurried through the cold gusts and sprinkles, finally closing the doors of the main building entrance behind them, then past the Main Office doorway, turning into the north wing and through the double doors leading to the cafeteria on their right. Taylor tugged Victoria’s sleeve and nodded towards where Kate was seated at a small round table alone, facing the wall, with her back towards the other occupants, obviously not in the mood to be spoken to. Taylor whispered. “I’m going to get some breakfast and go sit with Dana and Juliet, maybe now is a good time for you to speak with Kate.” Victoria blanched as she met Taylor’s encouraging gaze. “I, uhm, I know I should try and say, ‘I’m sorry’ to Kate, but I have a nervous stomach right now, and besides, everybody here will see me sitting down with her!” Taylor scowled and shook Victoria’s arm. “After all of the drama-trauma we just went through over this, just, No! No, Tori, you don’t get to chickenshit out this time! You care about Kate, we both know that you do, so, it’s time to get used to being seen with her. I won’t allow you to pull that shitty ‘we can be friends, but nobody can find out.’ Kate is worth ten times more than most of your Vortex Club so-called friends, present company excepted, of course.” Victoria blushed and suppressed a giggle. “You’re always right, and that’s why you’ll always be my ‘Sweet-T.’” Taylor grinned ruefully. “Okay then, go get a cup of coffee and go sit down with Kate, I’ll be keeping an eye on you, my darling Tori, so be brave and do the right thing!” Victoria sighed and queued up behind Taylor, filled a thick white porcelain coffee cup with Blackwell’s watered-down excuse for black coffee, picked out a stale cinnamon roll and a small glass of orange juice, then paced stolidly, while gripping her tray tensely, towards where Kate was hunched over her tray. “Uhm, Kate? Is it okay if I sit with you? I need to talk with you about something, if that’s alright?”

    Kate turned her face towards Victoria, her cheeks mottled red and her eyes puffy and weepy, she snuffled. “I guess so, Victoria, it’s a free country, isn’t it?” Not the best response, but at least it was a chance, so Victoria sighed to herself as she moved to a chair opposite of Kate and gracefully seated herself with her elbows on the table and her fingers tented in front of her mouth, where to begin?  “Uhm, look Kate, I’m worried about you and I’m really sorry that my thoughtless behavior at the Vortex party has upset you so much. How can I make it up to you?” Kate frowned and rubbed her eyes before facing Victoria’s gaze. “Is this an opportunity for you to ‘prank’ me some more, Victoria? Because I’m at my limit, that viral video has made me out to be a ‘virgin whore,’ so what more can you do to me, really?” Victoria blanched and held her hands up, palms facing Kate in a placating gesture. “No, Kate! I’m really sorry for all of that, I’d already removed that video from the web and I’m spreading the word to the Vortex members to leave you alone, no more teasing, I promise! I just want to help, please? And, uhm, what do you mean by ‘virgin whore?’” Kate huffed and sniffled. “It wasn’t just you, Victoria, I believe that your friend, Nathan, drugged me and took me somewhere off campus. He lied to me and said I was going to a clinic, but I woke up on the cold floor of a dark room with bright lamps blinding me. My wrists and ankles were duct taped, I hurt all over like I’d been beaten and roughed up. I could hear male voices arguing and the whirring and clicking of cameras taking photos of me. When I tried to shout, one of the men came up behind me and shoved a syringe needle painfully into the side of my neck, then I blacked out. I woke up in the hallway of the girls’ dorm and felt really sick and gross. Later, Max visited me and convinced me to go to the Police. A lady officer had me undergo a rape-kit test and had a hospital gynecologist examine me. There was no semen residue and, as it turned out, my hymen was still intact, so yeah, why was everybody so surprised that I was still a virgin at my age? To answer your question, Victoria, technically I’m a virgin, but, social media has labelled me as a whore. And, as we all know, facts and truth mean nothing, it’s the accusation that makes us guilty!”

    Victoria, in spite of herself, couldn’t control a sudden bout of nasal congestion and brimming tears, she couldn’t even begin to defend Nathan’s alleged actions, being all too aware of his twisted tendency to photograph girls in bondage, posters of said subjects being prominently displayed on his dorm room walls. “Oh, Kate! I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that Nathan would go so far, I’ll corner him and have it out with him!” Kate shook her head and started weeping. “It won’t do any good, Arcadia Bay Police wouldn’t even take Nathan into custody for questioning and Principal Wells just dismissed my allegations and suggested I report to the Blackwell Counselor to arrange for psychological sessions, I’m at my wits end, Victoria!” Victoria reached across the table to comfort Kate, but Kate pulled her hands out of reach, then looked bitterly at Victoria and continued. “I really don’t see what you can do to help me at this late date, Victoria, I just don’t know how I feel about you right now. Do you want forgiveness so that you can feel better about yourself? Should I forgive you, then, how do you propose to atone for what you’ve done?” Victoria was confused and saddened. “I don’t expect you to forgive me so easily, Kate, it’s just that I can’t even forgive myself! How can I atone for what I’ve done? Please tell me, Kate, how can I make amends to you?” Kate nodded and cleared the phlegm from her throat, then caught Victoria’s gaze. “Fair enough, you don’t really know what I’ve been going through and why my life is ruined beyond repair, so, here’s the bullet points of my fall from grace:

    One: My slutty behavior at that Vortex Club party has alienated me from my former Abstinence Club activities. Shame and hypocrisy prevent me from even attending, let alone leading the group. Everybody’s disappointment in me has caused the group to disband.

    Two: My faith in Our Lord and Jesus has been shaken, pretty much destroyed, since my father’s church has turned its back on me. I can’t handle the disapproving glances and murmurs when I try to attend services or volunteer for the church food bank and community outreach activities. Couldn’t help but notice that the vaunted Christian practice of forgiveness was curiously absent when I was in need of it! I’m through with organized religion and over the whole fear of Hell and hope for Heaven concept. Just give me Oblivion when I die, I’m done.

    Three: My own family condemns me, especially that sanctimonious viper, Aunt Marsh. My mother never lets an opportunity pass to snipe at me for my sinful shortcomings, not to mention my chickenshit father, Pastor Richard Marsh, who is only sympathetic when Aunt Marsh and mother aren’t around. My little sisters, Lynn and Amanda, are being discouraged from associating with me, seeing as I’m a bad example.

    Four: I’m too upset and depressed to write my stories, paint my usual illustrations, practice my violin, study my lessons or finish my homework. I can’t sleep, I don’t want to eat, and I can barely remember to feed and water my bunny, Alice. I don’t want to talk to my former friends, Alyssa, Stella and Warren, anymore, even Max gets on my nerves, now!”

    Victoria leaned back with her arms crossed, thoughtfully mulling over everything that Kate had revealed to her. “Listen, Kate, I understand now. I’d bullied and ridiculed you, and I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am for all of that. I was petty and despicable, more so because other students followed my example and piled more abuse on you, we ganged up on you and kicked you while you were down. I was weak and cowardly, Kate, but my conscience is punishing me with terrible nightmares and terrors. I am feeling so sad and scared and lost, and so, that’s why I needed to clear matters up with you. Kate, please? You always seemed so strong and self-assured, before. You were your own person and didn’t change who you were just to please the rest of us. You have amazing artistic and musical talent, you work hard and have high grades, you make time to assist Jefferson, our photography professor, to prep his classroom, and you always try to be pleasant and helpful with all of us, even though we treated you like shit. So, Kate, why can’t you muster a little of that spirit and pull yourself out of this depression you’re in?”

    Kate’s face was reddening throughout Victoria’s diatribe, she shot up from her chair and slammed the palms of her hands down on the table, startling the entire roomful of diners. “Enough! You can’t argue me out of this depression, Victoria! You don’t get to march off with a smug smile of satisfaction believing that you’ve saved me from myself! That’s just stupid magical thinking! I’ve never even actually been what I’d seemed to be! I was following nature’s example and wrapping my appearance and behavior up in protective coloration, a carefully crafted mimicry designed to distract people from who I really was! All you ever saw was the misfit little goody-goody church girl, that is exactly what I’d meant for all of you to see! But I’ve said enough, Victoria, what and who I really am is a secret that I intend to take to my grave! So, goodbye, Victoria, we’re done here!” Kate gathered up her tray and stomped out of the cafeteria, leaving a flummoxed Victoria staring after Kate with her mouth hanging open.