When Scully first awoke she found herself tied to a world of black, unable to see, unable to speak, unable to move. Life had somehow disappeared and suddenly there was nothing but terrifying silence. Blackness. Emptiness. It was her dream. She was living her dream and she would never escape. For a moment, she was tempted to scream from the sheer primal terror of it all. Her hands violently yanked, her feet kicked, her eyes blinked rapidly, her brain desperately searched for a source or light, for anything that would convince her she had not gone blind or died.
Her lips were sealed together with something heavy and tight. She could feel it stretching the sides of her taut cheeks.
Still feeling quite disoriented, as if drunk, Scully tried excersizing her vocal cords again, desperately hoping that whatever the obstructing object was, maybe it would not be there the second time.
But no, there it was again, that damned obstruction.
Oh fuck. Can't move. Lips sealed. Tied up, I'm tied up, she finally processed. Oh god, what now? What now?
Scully swallowed hard. Ok. Don't panic, she thought. That's foremost. You've done this before. You're trained. You're ok. Just wake up. Don't go into shock. Find Mulder. You need to get up and find Mulder.
Oh Jesus, where IS Mulder? Scully thought. I have to focus on him. I have to find him. I have to see if he's ok. I have to---but fuck, I'm tied up and oh my god I have to----For a short moment, panic ensued. FBI training took over. Scully's higher instincts assesed her options and considered all angles. Yes, her inner 'Scully' said: Yes. Find your partner. You need to get up and find him. Yeah. Right. How? the reasonable inner Dana asked.
Thoughts raced. Ideas crumbled. Conjectures on just how she was going to actually get up and find Mulder, of course, were not forth coming, although ridiculous flights of bravery and suicide raced raced through her mind. Oh god what do I do, what do I do----Another nanosecond of panic passed and finally, Scully decided that the best course of action would be to process her surrrounding stimuli and then, obviously, find a way out. Every situation has its vulnerable spot, she thought, and I am just going to have to find it.
First source of information: lips. They felt sticky, hot and glued together tightly. Masking tape, she realized, just masking tape. The binds on her legs and arms felt rough and coarse, not cold and hard like metal, which could only mean rope. Heavy duty stage rope, most likely. She yanked again just to make sure. The knarled twine twisted and ground into her wrists viciously and she yelped. Pain registered from her hand all the way up to her shoulder blades. Tight, she thought. Fuck. The binds are tight and secure. There has to be something---
"Ahh, Dana, you're awake."
Second bit of information: the world as she knew it was black. Not completely black, as she realized, since she could still see through the thin strip of whatever it was over her eyes, but black enough so that she could not see her assailant.
"Just in time for the party, too. Great timing."
But if there was anything that was certain, it was that Scully didn't need the blindfold to throw her off. She knew the voice that was addressing her. God, she certainly knew that voice. Just the sound of it made her feel clammy and queasy.
"Alright, lemme just remove that now. You don't need it anymore, I don't think---" For a moment, there was silence. Scully clenched her fists. Then she sucked in a breath as a white hot searing pain nearly ripped her lips off her face.
"There," her assailant said. The blindfold slipped up over Scully's head and the world was too bright. White was everywhere. Scully blinked rapidly, her eyes trying to adjust, and she licked her lips.
"You like the set-up, Dana?"
Scully looked around. Scaffolding, background brick walls and fake trees, small plants, twisted ivory everywhere. The balcony scene. Jennifer's death. Where's Mulder? Oh God, Oh god what's going on here?
Outwardly, Scully said,"Whatever this is," just as calmly as she could, "it isn't going to work. It isn't going to work, Amanda, I can tell you that---"
"Oh just shut up for once," Amanda said, waving a small, be-jeweled knife at her thigh. She shifted to one side and smiled with a menacing look. Her hand fell to her hip and a small, yellow slippered foot poked out from beneath her dress. The dress itself was flowing yellow velvet, the bodice laced tightly, the neck lined and bejewled with clear, sparkling rhinestones. The getup was certainly pretty, Scully surmised, but it wasn't Juliet's regular balcony costume. it wasn't one of Amanda's. It was a regular street costume. It wasn't---
And that's when it dawned on Scully.
"Oh, dear. T'sk, t'sk," Amanda's mouth opened in regret. She placed a hand delicately to her chin. "Did it really take you this long to notice? I thought you might notice it sooner, you know, and enjoy the extra trouble I went through to dramatize this."
Scully's arms, she finally noted, were not covered in her usual, practical, white cotton button down. Neither were her legs, for that matter, suited in her black Donna Karan power pants. No, nothing. It was all gone. Now there were no suits and no shoes and no overcoats for Dana Scully. There was just the feeling of velvet against skin and that flash of scarlet from the corner of her eye. Oh God, she thought. I'm dressed like Juliet. I'm dressed like Jennifer. This is sick.
"Women with red hair really shouldn't wear red, "Amanda mused, hand still on her hip, "but I suppose just for tonight, even though that dress looks better on me, it'll have to make due on you."
Scully took a deep breath. Remain calm, she told herself. Remain calm.
"What are you planning, Amanda?" she asked, needing to make her talk, to make her ramble, to stall for time.
"Why should I tell you?"
"Why not? What can I do? You've got me tied up."
"Damn it, stop that. Don't try to trick me, Dana."
"I'm not trying to trick you, Amanda."
Amanda growled low in her throat and stepped up close, bending down in front of Scully. Their eyes clashed for a moment. Gazes crackled and squared off. Then, with a swift upard motion, Amanda shoved the knife under Scully's chin and pressed hard.
"I could kill you right now, you know that," she said. "I could just slit your throat and BAM! you know that?" Her arm shook violently and her cheek twitched in excitement.
"You're not going to kill me," Scully said. Her voice was calm but her knuckles were white from clenched fists and her forehead was sweating. "You want something else. What is it you want from me?"
Amanda grinned with a short chuckle and removed the knife. Scully watched as she pulled herself to her feet.
"Always the smart one, you were," Amanda said sarcastically. "Always thought you knew everything." She began to slowly circle Scully's chair. "Alright then, fine. If you must know, then you must. Can't see as how I'll be giving away anything that can help you, since noone will ever believe you when this is all over. But first--" She motioned up to someone too high for Scully to see. Lights came on above stage left. The glow from the halogen lamp soaked up shadows and bathed Amanda's yellow getup in an almost maniacal, pseudo-prophet like glow. Someone's helping her, Scully thought. Oh god, she's not doing this alone.
"Heads up, Dana. Say hi to Agent Mulder for me.."
Scully's eyes widened at the sound of her partner's name and she obendiently looked up. Oh shit, she thought. Shit. There, on the top of the balcony, teetering on the edge, was a very unconscious, very crumpled up Mulder.
"Good looking guy," Amanda said. She circled Scully faster and shook her head. "Shame about his romantic inclinations though." Scully's fists clenched harder at that but she kept silent.
"You see, Dana, the truth is that my life, for the most part of these past few years, has not been very good. It's kinda been, well, shitty is the word I would use. Since.. well, since high school actually." Amanda bent down and whispered in Scully's ear. "But I'm sure you know that." Then she got up and went on, "You were always a thorn in my side, No-Date-Dana Scully. You came from out of nowhere and tried to steal everything, didn't you? You wanted my life, to be me, you wanted it all, didn't you? So smart you were. So quiet. So mysterious because you never spoke, but I know better. I know that all the while you were planning, planning to take it all away from me, but oh god, MY Marcus refused to believe that. He just had to know. He had to know why. He had to find out why you didn't talk. Why your hair was so red. It didn't matter that I was the pretty one, the popular one, oh no, he had to have whatever it was that you were. I don't know why to this day... Maybe it was... pity? Pity because you were--" Amanda stopped pacing for a moment to spit, "ugly." she thought about it for a moment then added, "pathetic. And lonely. Always so fucking lonely."
Scully just swallowed, pulling discreetly at a loose pin in her sleeve. If she could just get it to loosen up a bit more---
"And then there was the prom, when you stole my fucking date for a quick lay, and the superlatives, and Marcus leaving me, all because of you, Dana! You did it! You did it all! You pathetic, lonely little loser, taking my life from me just because you didn't have one! Because of you I lost everything and my parents were furious! The night of graduation my father had a heart attack. My mother lost her job. I never got a higher education, darling Dana. I had to give it all up to take care of my father while you just lived it up,became an FBI agent. Milked it in. Marcus went off to NYU. My father died. I married that idiot Scott for the money from his PI firm. Then I moved out here, hoping to start over. But oh no, of course not. Who do I run into? THAT... THAT SLUT, Jennifer, who took great pains to sabotage my marriage and take my starring role. You know, she tried... She really fucking tried. But I took care of that, didn't I? Didn't, I Dana?"
Scully's breathing became shallower and shallower. Amanda was crazy, she was crazy....
But what am I? Scully thought. Lonely, she heard the word, over and over. Lonely, pathetic, loser. All throughout high school she had heard it. Sorry, ugly. Why was it so hard to ignore? Fuck, Scully thought. I'm better, I'm stronger, I'm not the crazy one. Scully closed her eyes. She tried hard to shut out Amanda's voice; the ranting, the raving. She was NOT No-date-Dana anymore. She just was not. But it was hard, so hard to not hear the words ugly and lonely. And it was so hard not to feel---
NO! I need to focus! Her brain screamed at her: Stop this right now! You are an adult, act like one. Free yourself. Find Mulder. Yes, that's what I have to do. Yes...
But as Scully worked the small safety pin, Amanda went on, "But let's get to you now. Your part in all this." Amanda moved closer and steadied the knife upon her hip. "My idiot husband Scott is a giant fuck-up who likes to fool around. He also likes poking his nose in where it doesn't belong and spying on people. Last year he told me about this ridiculous case he had gotten. It had to do with some video game gone haywire and a guy who wanted a wire tap on his software partner. He said the case was interesting. He said he had heard all these interesting conversations. He said the investigating officers were two FBI agents. He said one FBI agent was a redhead he wouldn't mind fucking. He said her name was Scully. He said if he just could fuck her, find the nerve to do it, he could fuck anyone. He didn't need to say anything else after that."
Scully just stared at Amanda. Of all things, she had never thought this. "So what do you think, I slept with your husband?" Scully shook her head after a moment of complete confusion and disjunted thought. "Because I didn't---"
"LIAR!" Amanda yelled. "Big fucking Liar! You stole my husband! In high school you stole my Marcus, you stole the only man I ever really loved but even that wasn't good enough for you, you pathetic freak! You had to come back, you had to fuck my husband, you had to make it so I would be miserable, so he would go and fuck other women! You had to ruin my fucking life for years, always coming back, always there, always somewhere, always hording over me like a disease! That's what you are, Dana! A disease! And now you're going to see what it's like to watch the man you love suffer!"
Alarm bells started to go off in Scully's subconscious. Yelling, red face, shaking fists. The rage was building. It was climbing to a fever pitch. It wouldn't be long now before Amanda would stop ranting. And then... Oh god, Scully thought. Oh god. She's going to kill him. He's going to die. He's going to die unless I do something. Work faster, harder, hurry. She's going to kill Mulder and she's going to make you watch unless you hurry!
"You'll go to jail, Amanda," Scully said, using desperate tactics to try for a distraction. For anything. "Tell me, just how do you plan on keeping yourself out of jail?"
To that, Amanda laughed bitterly. Scully's fingers began to throb and she ran the tiny needle faster, back and forth across the binds on her wrists.
"Oh Dana, you silly, pathetic little girl." Amanda's back straightened. Her eyebrow raised and her lips turned up in a grin. "I'm not going to jail and I never will. Jen's death, Lisa's, Marcus, they were all accidents little girl. Things that could have been prevented you know, if not for their ridiculous fears."
A chill shot up and down Scully's back. "What are you talking about?"
Amanda leaned down, the folds of her velvet dress floating upon the floor. she put her hands on her knees and licked her lips, as if savoring a battle already tasted and won. Scully shivered unconsciously.
"Fear is an awful thing, you know that," Amanda said. "It can harm, hinder, even paralyze a person. But do you know what's wonderful about it? What's great?"
Scully's mouth felt suddenly dry. "What?"
"When you can harness it. When you have the power to take a person's fear and amplify it, using it against them, using their own adrenaline against them, then fear can kill and it does. With just a few little powderized seeds, some grains and some exotic magic, it can be done."
Scully took a glance up at Mulder and bristled. Oh Christ, magic, she thought. Magic. This was nuts, it was unthinkable. It was---
"You're lying." she said out loud.
"How do I know you're not?"
"How will I see?"
Amanda smiled and pointed to the balcony set, to the dark and shadowy recesses of the stairs behind the set, to the curtains, then finally, to the platform where Mulder lay.
"Jen was afraid of snakes," Amanda said. "She fell from that balcony because she was afraid. She fell because she saw what she wanted to see. Terrible things like that happen. Like what happened with you and Mulder, for instance."
Scully narrowed her eyes. She shifted her body weight to try and hide the movement of her shoulders. Her right hand thrust back and forth roughly with the safety needle, her index finger beginning to drip blood upon the floor. White hot pain seared her hand and thrust its way up her arm. She winced at the sensation. I'm coming Mulder, she thought. I swear to you, hang in there, I'm coming.
"Nothing has happened bewteen my partner and I," Scully said. She bit her lip to keep from crying out when she stabbed her middle finger.
"Sure it has," Amanda waved an errant hand. "That Marcus guy came back into your life at SUCH a bad time, didn't he? Poor partner of yours, he confronted you about his jealousy at the precinct. Told you he didn't like it. You told him to go to Hell, to stay away from you. I've got it all on tape right here you know. It pays to have friends in high places, like police departments, Dana."
Scully opened her mouth without being able to stop-" you sick fu---"
"Wait." Amanda held up a surrendering hand. "I'm not finished yet. See, later on that evening Agent Mulder, out of what I can only assume was revenge, took out our own lovely little Sarah to dinner. Shame about the both of you going out to the same restaurant, huh? I just KNOW you must have been full of rage. Full of anger. Poor Mulder. So many witnesses saw you slap him. And then later, well he didn't have a chance when you shot him."
"What are you talking about? I never shot him."
Amanda giggled. She sounded sick and angry and proud of herself and she hiccuped with pride. "You didn't have to," she said.
Then Amanda pulled something out from under the bodice of her dress that was small and held on by a thin, gold chain. Softly, she tugged upon the shiny thing and scooped it into her fingers. At first, from Scully's vantage point, it was hard to tell what it was, but then the glare of gold and red assaulted Scully's eyes and she realized. It was that dazzlingly bright, sparkling ruby necklace that Amanda had been wearing the past few days.. Scully squinted at the blinding beauty of it and the ruby flashed and glimmered and splintered into prism. But what was... what was that thing inside the jewel? Scully squinted really hard... what was that? It looked like a baby mushroom or... or something.
"What is all this about?" Scully said, forcing back a grimace. "What are you planning to do to us?"
The hands tied behind her back worked feverishly and dripped blood all over the chair and floor. She'd need to keep Amanda talking if there was any hope at all to get out of this horrible foolishness. It just.. It can't be true, Scully thought.
"You don't have to hurt him," Amanda said. "But he will be shot and he will think it's you. It will be your gun to his head. He will scream out your name to stop, to not do it, please Scully, please, he'll say. But you will do it. BANG, Dana! Just like that. Then he'll fall, fall, fall to his death and it will be glorious. Poor, crazy, Dana Scully, snapped under pressure. Arrested and put away for the murder of her jealous partner."
Scully's eyebrows raised. "You know I won't do it." Amanda laughed at her. Scully stared at Amanda defiantly. "You know I won't hurt him. It won't happen. However you're planning this, however drugged he'll be, he'll know it's not me. You won't get away with any of this."
Then there was more laughter. It hurt Scully's ears to listen. She tried to block it out, the laughter, the fear, the hurt.
"Have you even been listening to me?" Amanda asked. She shook her head and dropped the knife to the stage. Then she walked over to a small wooden box that had been placed upon the edge of the pit, knelt slowly and yanked off the cover. From in the box, Amanda removed a glass jar of something. It was a finely crafted bottle, a fascinating looking old thing, carved of crystal and edged with gold. And inside was some sort of fine powder; a delicate, white looking substance that could've been anything. But it wasn't. It wasn't anything. Scully knew exactly what it was, and it terrified her. Hallucinogens. It had to be. And powerful ones at that. It was the stuff she had found on the lipstick. No wonder Amanda's glove had been there on the table. She'd orchestrated this whole thing.
"What about the others?" Scully asked, still desperately trying to focus on what was going to happen, trying to find a way to stall it. Her chest hurt from trying to shove back a current of tears. Marcus was dead? Jesus christ, how had this all happened? "Why Marcus and Lisa?"
Amanda paused for a moment, her arms shivering, but she did not look up. She stared at the bottle. The knife lay on the floor next to her. Her back straightened and her hands balled up, and then she said, "because I could. Because Lisa was so phoney, so not really my friend, and she helped you. And Marcus ---that, that--well, he was an asshole who contributed to my downfall. Those two goddamned losers...."
Scully remained silent, her grip tightening on the needle in her hand. Suddenly, Amanda's rant trailed off and she twisted her head to look. "Oh no you don't, I know what you're trying to do."
Scully swallowed. Had she seen the needle? Oh jesus...Her lips opened and she sputtered, "I'm not trying to do---"
"SHUT UP! JUST DON'T FUCKING TALK!" Amanda closed her eyes then and sighed. "I need to concentrate...."
Carefully, oh so carefully, she placed the old fashioned glass bottle on the stage next to the knife. Whiffs of dust covering the wooden stopper shot off the top and climbed into the theatre air. Amanda smiled as she watched the puffs disentegrate. Then, with a deep breath, she pulled something else out of the box--a gun. And not just any gun. This gun had a large white scratch on the side from when Mulder had been playing barrel engraver with his letter opener at work.
"Like I was saying," Amanda went on. She made another motion with her free hand to whoever was working with her to dimm the lights. The shadows became darker and more menacing. Scully's breathing hitched.
"I don't have to do a thing, No-Date Dana. Not a thing. Agent Mulder's been drugged by... a friend. Your gun is up there with him. I've already planted the suggestion in his head. His greatest fear, I feel it here in my head, is that he's terrified you'll one day betray him. Today's that day for him, Dana. All I have to do is wait... then I move you under the balcony--so you'll have a front row seat, after all--- and when he wakes up, which should be any minute, I will touch this necklace. That starts everything, you know. Then afterwards we carry you up there, shoot you, and leave you. Too bad for you, huh? Or for Mulder, might I say. He's already been primed. But of course, he had no time to notice that since you hit him over the head and disarmed him. I saw you toss his gun away. I saw you shoot him and push him over the side. I saw you do it. I saw it all. But then I found his gun and snuck up behind you, shot you to keep you from killing someone else, you psychotic. Such a hero I am."
Scully's horrified eyes began to glass over. Her innefectual needle seemed to be serving no purpose. She wasn't going fast enough. She wasn't cutting through. She wasn't going to be able to save him. Amanda wasn't kidding. Amanda was crazy.
Scully's fingerprints, she knew, were all over her gun. With that being the case, it didn't matter who shot Mulder, she thought, so long as it was with her gun and Amanda planted her in the right place at the right time. And if there was a witness--even two, with Amanda's accomplice--nobody would ever believe Scully; she had no alibi and no other proof. The police would pile in and see an hysterical Amanda holding Mulder's gun, screaming that Dana Scully had gone crazy. Then they'd see Scully dressed in a ridiculous costume, pleading inocence, and Mulder would be dead, shot by Scully's own gun. Somehow, Amanda would see to that. Mulder's death. She'd make sure that Mulder would die and Scully would rot for it.
"Hear that, Dana?" Amanda asked. She put a hand up to her ear and made a cup of her fingers. "Sounds like the microphone's working after all. OH!" Amanda shook her head at herself and walked over to Scully, strecthing out a new piece of masking tape to place over Scully's lips. The tape went over smoothly, sticky, hot and tight. "We wouldn't want Mulder seeing or hearing the real Scully. We wouldn't want any distractions. After all, this should only take a minute or so." Amanda sighed and clasped her hands together excitedly. "Alright, showtime, Juliet. It's time to watch Romeo die."
Scully's eyes darted back and forth. it was dark, terribly dark now, and she needed to get to Mulder. She needed to find Amanda's accomplice. Lord only knew---
Fuck, she thought. Goddamn it, I need to get out of here.
Scully knew that regardless of what would happen afterwards---if Amanda's plan even worked, even if she didn't get to Mulder, he would die, somehow. Scully couldn't see him anymore because he was above her, lying on the balcony's high floorboards, but she knew in her heart that he was in danger. Someone was up there with him, someone even more dangerous than Amanda, and if Mulder didn't die from hallucination, she knew he'd die somehow.
And she couldn't yell or warn him either because she was trapped. She couldn't move because she was bound. She was stuck. Useless. She couldn't do anything. Anything at all. All she could do was keep working with her safety pin, praying for a miracle. Her fingers bled painfully and harshly onto the floor as she scratched desperately at her binds. No use, she realized. It's no use.
Oh Mulder, she thought. Oh god Mulder, please hear me. Please be careful. Be smart. Come down here, come find me please. Scully's teeth began to chatter. Her heart started to race. Oh God Mulder, she prayed, if you ever trusted me, if you ever loved me, you'll hear me now....
Amanda closed her eyes and whispered something, her face serene as she touched her necklace. A small gust of wind blew papers everywhere.
"Scully?" it was Mulder's tenor, his voice loud over the boom microphone. "Scully, thank god! I must have been drugged, I don't... I thought---what...What... what are you doing?"
Under the stairs, the real Dana Scully watched Amanda creep out from under the stairwell with her eyes still closed. Oh please, Mulder, Scully thought, please hear me. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed for him. She prayed for her. She swallowed and prayed silly things, prayed just as if Mulder could hear her. Oh Mulder, Mulder, please, she said to herself. I don't know what's going on but she's not me, not me, not me. She's just your imagination, not me. Not me. I'd never hurt you. I love you. You know that. I know you know that.
"Scully put the gun down. Let's talk about this."
The real Scully felt tears track down her cheeks. Oh god Mulder please please please I love you I'm sorry I hurt you please please believe it's not me please.
"Scully, don't do this. I can't believe you would--no, don't do this, don't---"
Just then all thoughts and words were silenced as a deafening, earth shattering crack sounded over the boom microphone. A gunshot. It was a gunshot. A light blew out. Amanda screamed. Scully struggled to shriek Mulder's name from beneath her gag but mercifully, her world went black.