Victor waited in the darkness. He was going to see Nora soon. She wouldn’t be sick anymore and he wouldn’t be driven mad by trying to cure her. They could go back to the way things were years ago when they had their whole future ahead of them. But the darkness wasn’t giving way to light. Instead of his wife’s voice, Victor heard a strange metallic rattling sound. It was familiar. Where did he know that sound?
“What happened to him?” The voice cut through the blackness, somewhere above him. Far away. He struggled to listen to her. Was he dead? Was this the afterlife? But why couldn’t he see?
“He tried to kill himself. Wanted to die with his wife and remain frozen.” A different voice. Male. Smooth like a snake. There was cunning in that voice. Victor didn’t think he liked the man much.
“But he survived.”
“Yes. It would appear that his body absorbed some of his formula. I fear he will die soon if we don’t help him.” Victor realized where he knew that noise from. From those horrible visits to hospitals where doctors claimed they could help Nora. It was the rattling of a gurney. Where were they taking him?
“What can we do for him? There’s space for him in Indian Hill, but we haven’t figured out how to care for human popsicles.” The gurney screeched. They were turning down another hallway. Victor struggled against the darkness, other sensations filtering in. He felt like he was burning.
“Prepare a room. His body is overheating, we need to lower his core temperature. Perhaps he has mutated to only survive the cold.”
“How appropriate. He was going around freezing people.” The first voice stopped for a moment. “What about the other physical changes?” Physical changes?
“As far as we know, they’re permanent. But living is more important than mere cosmetic differences. And I think that his proclivity to ice rather suits the snow white hair.” Victor drifted into the darkness again, those words echoing in his head as he sank into unconsciousness. Snow white…
“Snow White.” Nora smiled at him from across the sofa. She looked angelic in the mid-morning light, all golden and soft. Her blonde hair was like a halo. She lifted up the steaming mug of tea to take a sip, and Victor somehow found himself falling even further in love with her. He stood next to the side table and drank in the scene. He was the luckiest man in the world to have such a beautiful woman look at him like that.
“Snow White. That’s your favorite fairy tale? Isn’t creepy?” She threw a pillow at him. He dodged it, laughing.
“It is not creepy!” Victor shot her an incredulous look. “Maybe a little,” Nora amended. “But the prince isn’t the important part. The whole story is about reflections. Seeing yourself in other people, learning who you are. The only creepy part is the prince, and that’s because we’ve taken it out of context nowadays. The original story was beautiful.”
“Besides the creepy dude who kisses dead girls.” Victor dodged another pillow, this time thrown with better accuracy.
“Come on, Victor. Don’t be an ass.” He approached with hands up in surrender and Nora lifted up the corner of the blanket she was under so he could join her. They nestled together, watching the fire roar. “If we have a daughter, I’m going to read her Snow White for a bedtime story.”
“A daughter, huh?” Victor pressed a kiss to Nora’s forehead. “I’d love to have a daughter. She’d be beautiful like her mother.”
“And smart like her father,” Nora hummed, burying her head in Victor’s chest. “She’ll grow up to be a scientist and help you with your experiments, or teach at the college.”
“Nah, she wouldn’t be a scientist. She’d be like you and have the biggest heart in the world.” Victor kissed Nora’s head again. He let his head fill with the fantasy of their perfect daughter. “She would end up working to help Gotham’s poor. She’d lobby for change and fight for people who lost their homes and jobs because of illness or disasters.”
“And help you out in the lab in her spare time,” Nora tilted her head up to capture Victor in a tender kiss. “I am the luckiest girl in the world to have married you, Victor Fries.”
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have married you, Nora Fries. I can’t wait to start a family with you.” Victor’s heart swelled at the idea of a child. Their child. He and Nora had talked about children before; every married couple has. But they were finally at a place where that dream could become a reality. He hugged his wife close, eyes swimming with a thousand beautiful futures.
Outside, a shriek of joy caught his attention. A neighbor’s child was in the street, hands stretched up at the sky. The first snow of the year fell to the earth in a delicate dance of wind and water. Nora gasped. She loved the snow. Victor much prefered sunny summer days at the cabin on the beach, but he couldn’t help but love the expression on Nora’s face when the first snow of the year came.
“It’s fate,” she declared breathlessly. “If we have a daughter, her name has to be about winter. Snow?” They both made a face. “Not Snow.” Nora pursed her lips in thought. “You know, I grew up with a friend named Fiona, and I think that has something to do with winter. Do you like Fiona?”
“Fiona Fries,” Victor mused. “I admit, it has a nice ring to it. We could even call her Fi as a nickname.” Nora leaned up and kissed Victor on the cheek. She pulled the blanket off of her legs begrudgingly, standing up and then reaching for the arm of the sofa. Victor sat up, holding a hand to steady her.
“Are you alright, angel?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I must’ve stood up too fast.” She smiled at him, dashing away his fears. “I’m just going to put the kettle on again. Snow days deserve cocoa.” Victor sat back into the sofa, watching Nora go to the kitchen. He worried too much; Victor knew that. Nora was always telling him to relax. Besides, he didn’t want to ruin this perfect weekend with his fussing. He took a breath and watched the snow fall.
At first, Victor refused a mirror. He didn’t want to see what he had become. Weeks went by before he finally relented. The man that looked back at him was a stranger. Yes, he had Victor’s cheekbones, and there was his nose, but everything else was foreign. Once-brown eyes were now a piercing antifreeze blue and his skin had a silvery hue to it and prominent blue veins below the surface. But it was the pure white hair that unsettled him the most.
Victor gripped the edges of the shelf, ice crystals crackling out from where his hands touched the metal. He shouldn’t be alive. He should have died with Nora. He wanted to die with Nora. They had put off children once she got her diagnosis, always saying there would be time later. But now that Nora was gone, Victor’s dreams of the future had died with her. They would never have the family they dreamed of. No daughters to teach about science or fairy tales.
Maybe a piece of him died too. He didn’t feel like Victor Fries anymore. Strange told him that the people had started to call him Mr. Freeze. It seemed only fitting, given his new body that he was trapped in. He couldn’t even leave his room without a specialized suit. He would never hold his wife again, never feel sunlight warm his skin. Never kiss Nora and their daughter goodnight.
The sharp crack resounded through the room. Blood dripped from his fist where it had connected with the mirror. Victor panted as a dozen blue eyes stared back at him. Ice spread across the fractured glass from his hand, clouding the glass with a faint sound. He didn’t want to have to face his cosmetic changes. His reflection was a constant reminder of what he’d lost. The love of his life and the future they had hoped for was gone. It had frozen with Nora. As far as the world was concerned, Victor Fries was dead. Only Freeze remained.
A tear slipped down his cheek. In the remnants of the mirror he watched it fall from his face and turn into a perfect snowflake. That one snowflake was soon joined by many more, and Victor was alone crying a small snowbank onto the shelf with blood dripping from his right hand. He would be alone for the rest of his life. No one was coming to save him with true love’s kiss. He was trapped in his glass coffin forever.