Title: Vienna

Author: vienna_waits.

Category: General.

Genre: Drama, character study.

Pairings: none.

Rating: G.

Spoilers: none.

Disclaimer: Benton Fraser does not belong to me. I am not making any money from him, just having a little fun. Honest!

Distribution: Please ask first.

Feedback: E-mail me at v dot waits at gmail dot com. Thank you kindly!.

Personal Notes: A Ben-at-Depot story written for the Live Journal ds_flashfiction "Songfic" challenge. The lyrics to the Billy Joel song "Vienna" are included at the end of the story.

Warnings: None. Unless bad driving scares you.



***




It was a beautiful summer night at Depot, warm but not sultry, and a breeze gently stirred the blinds, their silvery metallic slithering a man-made counterpoint to the steady song of the crickets and cicadas. The soft echoes of my boot heels on the linoleum dormitory floor and fitful snores from some of the cadets were the only other sounds marring the still peace that had descended...

...until I noticed that there was an empty bed and came to a jarring halt. The mussed sheets and blanket attested that it had been occupied at lights out. I didnít need to look at the tag on the cadet's footlocker to know who was missing.

After I mulled it over for a minute, I knew exactly where to find him. I strode across the moonlit grounds to the driving practice track, and sure enough, he was at the wheel of Tango 14, apparently mentally steering his way through the course over and over again. He took no notice of me as I approached the car from behind, walking right up to the open driverís side window.

"Cadet Fraser!"

He was so engrossed in his mental practice session that he started at the sound of my voice. "Corporal Phillips." He had the good grace to look sheepish at having been caught out.

"I take it you are...practicing for the driving assessment tomorrow." The boy seemed to spend every waking moment, and clearly many moments when he was not supposed to be awake, studying his class notes, or practicing at the firearms range, or working on his martial arts training at the gym. I doubted that he'd even seen the inside of the Stand Easy Lounge, and his troop was already twelve weeks into their training.

He looked down at his hands, now folded in his lap. "Yes, sir."

"Tell me, cadet, is this the first time youíve left the block without permission after lights out?"

His tongue darted out and flicked across his lower lip. "No, sir."

"How many times have you snuck out before?"

His answer surprised me. "Thirty-two, sir."

"You do realize youíre on report."

"Yes, sir."

"As is the rest of your troop, for not stopping you."

He turned toward me with a look approaching panic in his eye. "Sir, please...don't punish them for my transgression. It wasn't their fault, and...I'm not overly well-liked as it is."

That was a very polite way of putting it. Most of Troop 12 grew to despise the handsome young recruit from the Territories within the first week. In addition to exuding a quiet confidence that some called arrogance, he had an eagerness to excel at his studies that they found off-putting. They short-sheeted his bed, rigged buckets of horse manure to fall on his head, loosened salt shaker tops in the mess hall so he ended up with white mountains of salt on his mashed potatoes--pretty much every dumb-ass trick in the book. Fraser had never once shown anger or struck back, or, for that matter, provided them with any reaction at all. His fellow troop members, eager to get a rise out of him at least once, reacted by escalating the incidents until the officers worried that someone might get hurt.

I turned things over in my head for a moment before I made my decision. "Get the key out of the glove compartment and start the car," I ordered as I went around to the passenger side and got in.

"Excuse me, sir?"

"And buckle up. You heard me."

Befuddled, he did as he was told, and the engine roared to life.

"Now drive the course. Badly."

"Sir?"

"Knock over as many cones as you can. Youíll get demerits for every one you leave standing."

He was still staring at me. I could almost hear the gears grinding in his head, but I ignored him and looked at my watch. "And five...four...three...two...one...go!"

His take-off left rubber on the tarmac, and he fishtailed through the pylons on the first turn like he'd hit black ice. Cones flew smartly in every direction. Fraser never did anything halfway.

"That's the spirit!" I cried. "Well done."

He brought the boat-like sedan around and swerved back and forth across the straightaway, steadily massacring cones on both the right and left-hand sides, before pulling off an impressive doughnut and letting the carís enormous back end take out an entire semi-circle of cones set up at a 180. On the fourth turn, he took the cones out gleefully rather than grimly, and by the time he plowed straight as an arrow through the last S-curve and skidded to a stop, he was laughing so hard he could barely steer. "Thank you, sir," he finally said when he caught his breath, his eyes bright.

"Youíre welcome," I replied, looking back in satisfaction at the spectacular mess he had made. "Now to put the cones back up. I don't think you left more than two or three standing."

We got out of the car and began to work our way back, him on one side and me on the other, neither of us speaking for a long while.

I finally broke the silence. "Fraser, just tell me one thing."

"Certainly, sir."

"What are you trying to prove?"

He frowned at the question, thought for a minute as he swung some cones back around the 180 heíd demolished. "Nothing, sir. Iím just trying to do the best I can. I want to be a credit to the force."

"Fraser, relax, youíre doing fine. Youíll make an outstanding peace officer. Hell, youíre doing so well, you could go lie on a beach in Hawaii for the rest of the course and still be troop valedictorian! Youíre a model recruit, all right, but to the rest of your troop, youíre a little too much model and not enough recruit."

Fraser was still frowning, but listening carefully to my words. "Are you saying I should deliberately make mistakes to win other people's approval?" he asked, a note of disapproval creeping into his voice.

"No, Fraser! You have noble ambitions, and there's nothing wrong with that. Don't abandon your dreams just because other people scorn them. What I'm saying is, don't be so hard on yourself. You work day and night, can't accept anything less than absolute perfection, and tonight you were in a lather because you're not the top-ranked driver in the troop."

Fraser opened his mouth to protest, but I didn't let him speak. "How do you think I knew where to find you? You're currently ranked number six at the track, and it's killing you. You're trying to live up to an impossible standard."

"No, Iím not," Fraser shot back, "Iím just trying to live up to my--" He stopped as he realized what he was saying.

"Your father," I supplied. "Yes, we all know about Bob Fraser and his legendary exploits, but here's a news flash for you: you are not Bob Fraser. And you never will be, no matter how good your rankings are."

Now Fraser looked crushed, but I plowed on. "And thereís nothing wrong with that! Try being human for a while. Be Ben Fraser. You might be surprised how much you like it."

We finished setting the last few cones back up and walked back to get the car. "I'll drive. I've seen what you can do," I joked, and he smiled. "Hop in. Iíll take you back to your block."

He accepted without protest, looking as exhausted--and as human--as I'd ever seen him. When I pulled up to the door of his block ninety seconds later, he was fast asleep.



Slow down, you crazy child
You're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart, tell me why are you still so afraid?
Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out
You got so much to do and only
So many hours in a day


But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
When will you realize...Vienna waits for you


Slow down, you're doing fine
You can't be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight (tonight)
Too bad, but it's the life you lead
You're so ahead of yourself
That you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you're wrong
You know you can't always see when you're right (you're right)


You got your passion, you got your pride
But don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you


Slow down, you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while
It's all right, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize...
Vienna waits for you.


But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
Why don't you realize...Vienna waits for you
When will you realize...Vienna waits for you