As a child, Victoria had always been something of a screamer. Her mother had despaired of her habit, and after her mother had passed away, her governess, Mrs. Staton, had tried to cure her of it. It was all to no avail; if it was Charles, the boy from next door, brandishing a snake, or her beloved Uncle Arnold jumping unexpectedly out of a door way, hair wildly askew, or participating in a noisy game of Prisoner’s Base with her four cousins when they came to visit on holiday, Victoria’s response was inevitably an unladylike screech, usually followed by giggles as she retaliated. Victoria chose to romp around with Charles, and found the toads and snakes just as often as he did. Her uncle always turned and ran as she tore around the corridors of her home after him. Victoria was usually the one covered in the most dust and mud after a day playing with her cousins. And no matter what the activity, Victoria was inevitably the loudest participant.
When Victoria turned ten, her tomboy-like existence finally came to an end. Her father loved her, and saddened by the loss of her mother, may have indulged her a little too much as a child (far too much in the opinion of Mrs. Staton). But now she was a young lady, and had to behave as such. So Victoria learned the arts of proper conversation, hosting tea receptions, sitting ladylike without fidgeting, and appearing interested in the local gossip no matter how inane or pointless it seemed. And if she instead longed to traipse across fields and wade through brooks and ride horses without the benefit of a side-saddle, she never revealed it to anyone. Victoria Waterfield was as prim and proper a Victorian lady as you could hope to meet (on the outside, anyway).
However, no matter how much Mrs. Staton tried to break her of the habit, Victoria could still utter a surprised scream of astonishing volume. Victoria was easily startled, but she actually had very little fear once the menace was revealed. If Victoria encountered a spider or some other vermin, everyone in the Waterfield house knew of it: the shriek, followed by vigorous thumping and stamping as she destroyed the thing that had startled her, was easily heard throughout the entire household. The burglar who broke into the house when she was fifteen came to rue that he had encountered Miss Waterfield on her way to bed: the deafening scream, quickly followed by a sound buffeting with a piece of firewood taught him the error of his ways, and he had suffered that lesson until her shrieks brought her father and the butler to his rescue.
When she started traveling with the Doctor, Victoria truly had many reasons to scream, but she always reacted as she had in the past, with action. She might actually be more frightened and confused than she had ever been in her life, but it was not in her nature to do absolutely nothing. However, her courage had its limits, and the Doctor and Jamie (especially) were both quite willing hold her and try to calm her. Victoria came to believe it was not so much to comfort her as to silence her: the Doctor’s repeated murmurs of “Shhhh… There, there my dear…” or sometimes a more disgruntled “Quiet, Victoria,” and Jamie’s tendency to gently press her face into his chest, smacked of a purposeful strategy. The fact that Jamie quite often made a surreptitious display of soothing his ears after one of her shrieks, did not go unmissed by her, either.
As it was tonight, there was no danger per se, but Jamie had cajoled and pleaded and wheedled until Victoria had agreed to sit up watching one of those moving picture shows the Doctor kept on board the TARDIS. She usually watched what the Doctor called “period pictures", so he was surprised that she had actually agreed to watch an action film with him: there were sufficiently quick cuts of scene and enough goriness to elicit a few startled yelps from Victoria, which in turn provoked Jamie enough to plug a finger in his ear.
“Och, there’s no need for all that screaming, is there?” he hissed, “How d’you expect to understand what’s going on if you keep on like that?”
“What’s there to understand, Jamie, people are being eaten by a shark!” she rounded on him, “Why did you ask me to watch such a dreadful thing in the first place? Don’t you think we see enough horrors traveling with the Doctor?”
“It’s just a wee fishy, Victoria” he said, “There’s nothing to be frightened of.” Victoria gave a delicate snort of disbelief.
“I’ve seen you pick your feet up off the floor when that music starts playing,” Jamie had the grace to look embarrassed.
“Well, the first time I saw it, it gave me the shivers, and I jumped a couple of times myself before I got used to it, so I figured if you watched it, you might, well, get a little more used to being startled and…maybe not scream…as much as you do.” He came to a stilted halt and gave her his best pathetic look. Victoria looked like she was trying to suppress the urge to slap him, instead of looking at it from his point of view.
“You think that I scream too much, so you show me something awful in the hopes that I’ll stop screaming? What is wrong with you, Jamie McCrimmon?” He flinched, but held his ground. “I know you and the Doctor get tired of hearing me scream, but I can’t help it. I’ve always been like that: if something takes me by surprise, I scream. I’m sorry if it offends you,” she added, not sounding sorry at all. Jamie thought about it for a moment, and then quickly leaned forward and pressed his lips firmly against hers. He pulled away just as quickly, surprised at his own boldness, and was pleased to see her eyes had fluttered shut.
“Oh, aye?” he said with a smirk, “You’re not screaming right now.” Victoria’s eyes opened and fixed him with a baleful stare.
“It’s hardly the same thing, Jamie,” she said blushing and raising a hand to her lips. “That surprise wasn’t…unpleasant.” His smile was now incandescent.
“So what you’re saying then, is the next time we get cornered by some beastie, I should do that again if the Doctor and I want to keep our hearing?” he teased her, taking hold of her hand in case she did change her mind and decide to hit him. They watched the rest of the film in silence, Victoria snuggled into his shoulder, and if she was at all startled, she only squeezed his hand a little tighter. Jamie grinned to himself. Despite what the Doctor said, Jamie’s plans almost always worked, but usually not this well.