The wind rustled through the nearby trees and thunder rumbled from overhead. Leaves blew from their branches, tumbling, swirling, and flying with the breeze, contributing to the storm that was soon picking up with the speed of a small typhoon. It was going to rain, she knew---pour--if she was unlucky, and hail if she was supremely unlucky. Not that she wasn't unlucky already, but with the trouble she currently found herself in, there was certainly no doubt that she DIDN'T need the weather turning against her. Not now.
A sharp pang erupted inside her foot, and Dana quickly reached an angry hand down to toss her green silk pumps three feet into the night air. She watched as they flew and clattered down the front steps of Roosevelt Senior High School.
"Calm down, Dana," she heard chide next to her. It was the soft, crooning voice of her friend Sylvia, but it did nothing to soothe her anger or brush away her frustration.
Dana picked her head up out of her fingers, locks of auburn curls falling into her blue eyes, and regarded her friend with an air of disgust. "Berwood is one shade lower than moron," she finally managed, lowering her arms to rest between the fluffy folds of moire-green taffeta. Sylvia sighed and placed a white gloved hand on Dana's shoulder, sympathetically.
"It's not the end of the world, Dana," she tried to impart, softly. "I mean, Mr. Lockwood'll be pissed for a grand total of three minutes, then he'll take one look at the pathetic face of Roosevelt high's most illustrious student, and he’ll be undone. He'll smile, pat you on the head, and send you on your merry way."
Dana raised an unconvinced eyebrow. "Yeah," she muttered, sullenly. "I'm sure Lockwood just loves being woken up at 2 o clock in the morning for these things, Syl. And what about my father, huh? He's going to send me on my merry way, alright. ---Right to a catholic convent school somewhere."
Sylvia shook her head and sighed, fixing the silky smooth layers of her white gown. "No he's not, Dana. It’s just the prom. And besides, this isn't your fault. Like you said, Chris---" Sylvia shrugged her shoulders and motioned towards her pacing prom date---the slightly awkward looking young man who was covered in dirt and soot, from the bottom of his dress shoes to the top of his suit jacket.
"Is a jackass," Dana finished, dryly. "---who doesn't think, doesn't want to, and whose only thought was of getting---"
Sylvia glared at her. "Shut up Dana," she muttered, and buried her own head in her hands.
Dana shook her head and looked away from Sylvia to squint towards the edge of the steps. Her pulse quickened and she sighed, in spite of herself. Her own date Marcus Welsch stood there, scrumptious looking in the kelly green cumberbund that matched her dress. Marcus glanced briefly at her, smiled for a second, and turned away, pacing at the foot of the front steps to the school like Chris Berwood had been doing. She watched as he alternately chewed nervously on his fingernails then turned to the left to pace in the other direction. Oh god, how we're all going to be in such deep shit, she realized miserably. Oh god...
Out of all the things to do on prom night—ALL the things on HER prom night, no less, Chris Berwood had to decide that romance and getting laid meant setting a campfire for Sylvia in the middle of the woods: an out of control campfire in the middle of the woods at 2 am. Nevermind that her father thought she was at Sylvia’s place, nevermind that Marcus had been about to kiss her…
It was one disaster after another.
But even still, Dana smiled softly to herself as she thought of him; of what had nearly happened between her and him only fifteen minutes earlier. It could have been any girl in the school, she thought, with a self-satisfied grin. He could have asked any girl in the school.
But he wanted me. He asked me.
The thought warmed her deeply through her dark green dress, lighting her up inside even though she knew that any minute, her father would be showing up to claim her. Any minute now, not only would her father be here, but so would Marcus' father, Sylvia's father, Principal Lockwood, and Chris Berwood's mother, who was widely known for her vicious temper.
He had to start a campfire, she mused, unhappily. Chris just HAD to have a goddamned campfire. Dana blew air through thinned lips and stared up at the sky, flinching. I know what you mean, she said to it silently. The sky thundered in return. The moon watched her. She closed her eyes.
"Well, well," she heard from behind her then, in a low angry voice that she undoubtedly recognized. "I hope you're happy with yourself, no-date Dana."
Dana Scully rolled her eyes, contemptuously. She turned her head slowly and thinned her lips at the voice from the top of the steps. Sylvia followed her gaze and muttered under her breath, "great. Just great."
"What are you doing here?" Dana asked, wearily. She was certainly in no mood to argue with Amanda Larson, not with her father, the principle, and half the town on the way.
"We were in the woods," Mandy replied, gesturing behind her to her "gang" of eight others. Dana recognized Lisa Ripley, Claire Wilson, Casey Cook, Jennifer something or other, and their football player-esque dates. All turned their noses down at Dana, surreptitiously.
Ever since Dana had moved there; to San Diego and that damned town, Amanda Larson had gone out of her way to make her life miserable. On Dana's first day she had spotted her in the hallway---targeted her----and kept on going all year. The torment. The laughter. The goal to make Dana's life as miserable as humanly possible. It never stopped. it was like a war. And thus far, Amanda was winning tremendously.
Mandy's arms folded over her chest and she glared at Dana. "So, no-date," she began, bitterly. " Did you have fun with Marcus tonight? He try to bag you, like I heard?"
Sylvia rolled her eyes and cracked her neck. "Can't you go away, Amanda?" she asked, annoyed.
Amanda walked over, closer, and shot Sylvia a menacing stare. "Stay out of this, Stemple," she snapped, "this is between me and no-date loser over here."
Dana pushed up and away from the cement stairs, dusting her hands off, and turned to face Mandy, irritated beyond belief . She mustered up her waning courage and decided, once and for all, that she was going to confront her nemesis. Her bully. She could do it… she could….
"What is?" Dana asked, trying to hold in the pent up anger she felt. "What do you want from me?"
Mandy raised an eyebrow, looking at Dana as if she'd grown a third head . "I thought it was obvious," she growled, and chucked a finger in the direction of Marcus---who was still too far away to notice any of them standing there, arguing. Dana took a deep breath.
"If you're impyling that I---"
"I'm not implying ANYTHING, wash out," Mandy interrupted, pursing her
lips. "I'm WARNING you. Stay away. Stay the fuck away
from him, Dana Scully. I don't care what you did---whether it was to promise
him you'd do his math homework for a month or pay him, I don't give a shit.
But we all know how he feels. about me....---that you are ultimately nothing
to him. Nothing at all....To anyone..." Mandy looked her up
and down, distastefully. "And we all know you've never had any guy
in your life want anything from you except maybe homework help."
Mandy’s friend Claire stood loosely behind her, forcing back giggles. “Yeah,” she added, pointing vaguely at Dana. “There was a whole pool going on---a bet---did you know that, no-date? We had fifty bucks riding on which of the guys would get you to sleep with him before graduation---we thought it’d be funny. Marcus wanted the pocket change.” Claire broke into a fit of giggles again and Mandy smirked.
Dana's nostrils flared and she forcefully fought back tears. No…. nonononono…. she thought, horrified. It couldn’t be. Marcus liked her, she rationalized to herself. He wanted her. Marcus had asked her to the prom because he wanted to. Not because he was forced to, or because Mandy had broken up with him. He had wanted her. For the first time in her life, a boy had wanted her.
He had WANTED her…. He TOLD her… didn’t he?
Mandy sneered, then added, "I heard that Chris over there dared Marcus to ask you. He upped the ante to sixty because he thought you'd be an easy lay." She grinned. "Once you were liquored up, that is. Guess he was right..."
Dana's lower lip quivered and she shot back with, "no. You’re wrong.”
Amanda sneered. “I’m not, trust me.”
Dana clutched her fists then, fuming, angry, emotions bubbling inside her until she finally managed, “you’re lying! I know you are! You don't know anything! You’re just jealous, Amanda.”
Amanda stopped giggling. Eyes narrowed, she spun on her heels and hissed, "oh really, now?" She snorted and her friends hung back behind her. "Me jealous of a nothing loser? Well, that's rich, it really is. Please tell why would that be, No-Date-Dana-Scully?"
Scully's eyes narrowed back and she swallowed, trying to regain her reserve of strength . "You know why," she answered, lowly. "I beat you at something, didn't I? I finally beat you. I got Marcus when you wanted him. I got the nomination for the senior class superlative you wanted. By default, I got a mention for Queen. All your friends got a mention, didn't they Amanda? Why didn't you?"
Amanda's eyes narrowed, her cheeks turned red, and she advanced on Dana, fists balled. "Why you fucking---"
"Mandy!" Jennifer managed, grabbing her shoulder firmly. "It's not worth it. Just let it go, just---"
Mandy whirled on her with a glare. "NO! That nomination was MINE! GODAMN IT, I'll kill her!" she shrieked. "I swear to God I'm going to---"
Dana shrunk away in fear and Jennifer held tight to Mandy's arm, finishing, "No! Jesus, calm down, Mandy. She's just a smart loser. That's all. We'll do something about her later, ok? It's just not worth it now."
Amanda turned and looked at Dana, accompanied by brown haired, mousy, Sylvia Stemple, her slim arms folded defiantly across her chest. They glared at Mandy with contempt, silently warning the one girl they had hated all year long to stay away. Maybe this time, they would get her. Maybe this time, they would stand up to her. Dana sure as hell hoped so…. inside she felt like crying.
"Leave her alone," Sylvia muttered.
Mandy gritted her teeth and ignored the warning, shoving her way past Jennifer, grabbing Dana roughly by the arm. Sylvia gasped in surprise and tried to intervene but Mandy gave her a quick shove, sending her flailing to the ground in her white chiffon dress. Dana's eyes popped opened wide and she bent to grab her friend, but Mandy shoved her backwards against the brick wall of the school.
"I swear to you, Dana Katherine Scully," Mandy vowed, looking into Dana's eyes until she saw adolescent fear lurking in the blue depths. "I swear, I am going to get you. One day I am going to put you in your fucking place, and lord help you when that day comes."
Then Mandy shoved Dana's arm away as roughly as she had grabbed it, and in silent shock Dana watched her stalk off. She had seen Amanda angry before, sure, but never like this. She had seen her malicious, but in a juvinile, stupid way. Mandy was mean-spirited as she went out of her way to laugh at Dana at lunch, mean, as she played stupid pranks on her in class, mean as she tripped her in the hallways and chased her out of the cafeteria. Mandy was the popular blonde who teased the red-haired, freckle faced, braces wearing new girl. The shy outsider who had upsurped her as smartest in the senior class. The tiny girl who presented a threat to her popularity. Why though, Dana was sure she would never know.
How many times had she sent me home crying, Dana wondered. A hundred? A thousand? She shook her head and watched as Mandy's friends coldy walked past her, some snickering at her expense, others sending her warning stares. Dana watched them all with tears behind her eyes. They all hated her, all thought of her as pathetic and diseased, and she knew that this wouldn’t be the end of it. Ome day soon there would be more. There would be a showdown, she was sure of it. She was about to let out a soft hiccup when her blue eyes paused on Jennifer. For whatever reason, the girl looked paler, sicker than she had before. Her lips were blue and her hands were practically white. Her dress was maroon, sparkling on top and designed in a strange style that Dana was sure she had never seen before at the Prom. It looked like something out of Shakespeare.
Dana swallowed hard and tried to move away, but Jennifer yanked hard on her arm, nailing her in place.
" Why'd you have to go and provoke her?" Jennifer asked, hurried. "Do you understand what she’s capable of? You see what you've done? Just stay out of her way...She wants to kill you."
Dana stared at Jen's face, frightened, and she winced as thunder boomed overhead. The wind picked up and blew leaves into her face as if the storm were trying to knock her right off her feet. "Please," Jen added, pleadingly, and then she was gone. Gone into the night, and gone into a swirling mist of thunderclouds. Dana watched, mortified, as light blinded her from the right and lightning stuck a nearby tree, sending sparks of fire and flame into the night, sputtering against the blistering rain and blowing wind.
"Oh great," Sylvia muttered from behind, pulling herself to her feet. "Just great. Good going, getting yourself killed. Some federal agent you are, Dana Katherine Scully."
But Dana didn't answer. She merely stared, transfixed by the fallen tree, by the twisted branch that clung to the night sky like a reverent hand. It caught flames like wild and licked the leaves, the brush, and the branches in fire drenched macabre. Dana's lower lip quivered and she felt chills shoot up and down her neck and spine.
"Dana?" Sylvia repeated, forcefully, her face blurring at the edges. “Dana?”
Then her tone changed.
"Scully?" she asked. " Scully...."
Dana frowned. Why was Sylvia calling her by her last name? Why did she sound so odd?
Dana furrowed a brow and tried to move but her feet were plastered to the floor, stationary. Her fear heightened and her teeth began to chatter in horror.
"Scully," her friend repeated, her voice growing deeper and deeper. "Scully.... Scully... Scully...."
Sylvia's face then became Mulder's---her beloved Mulder's--before it grew and exploded into a million pieces all around her. The pieces smothered her and blew into the wind until she screamed, horrified, blood curdling screamns as flames licked the bottom of her taffeta dress.
"Scully!" Mulder called, terrified, grabbing her sweat soaked arms, forcing them back down to the bed. Scully's back arched and her legs thrashed, her damp face distorted as she screamed, "no! NONONONO" over and over. Tears fell from her eyes, unabashed, and Mulder stared at her in horror. In all the years he had known her, he had never known Scully to have a violent episode in her sleep like this. Not ever.
"SCULLY!" he shouted again--this time right next to her face, and her eyes opened with a start, her arms thrashing, terrified; her face stark with in fear. Her breathing came out rushed and shallow, and she gasped in horror.
"Hey---take it easy, it's ok," Mulder crooned, holding down her arms so she could do no more damage; to himself or her own body. Scully simply stared around disoriented, coming back to herself, slowly.
"It's me," Mulder said, brushing hair out of her eyes, letting go of her arms as her body relaxed. "Shh, Scully. It's ok. It's only me."
Scully's lower lip quivered and she stared at him, completely befuddled. "What--" she stopped to catch her breath and wipe sweat from her brow. "What happened?" she asked, softly and breathlessly.
Mulder sighed and lay down next to her, running a hand gently down her arm in a soothing gesture. He brushed another lock of hair out of her face and shrugged, watching her closely, guardedly, as she tried to reassure him by taking his hand in hers. She intertwined their fingers in silent expression. Mine for yours, she thought, tenderly. Me for you...
Something in his eyes seemed to express that he heard the unspoken endearment. He took a deep breath and looked at her, concerned. "I don't know, Scully," he breathed, nervously. "I don't know what happened. Why don't you tell me?"
Scully just looked at him and but her lip, anxiously. She honestly
didn't know what to say....