SUMMARY: Maybe it didn't happen. Maybe it was all a long, incredibly detailed dream. Click your heels three times and you're back in your bed.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended on my part.
WORD COUNT: 5.503
DATE POSTED: June 2008
NOTE: This is the final story in a series that began with 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and Go in Glory. I have played with the official timeline a little bit in this story, because there is one piece of it I don't buy. Actually, there are huge chunks of S8 and S9 canon I don't buy, but that's a rant for another day.
She's sure she's entered the land of "The Wizard of Oz." When she opens her eyes, she's in her old bed, in the dusk-shadowed Spokane bedroom. The green and white striped sheets smell like Mulder, like his skin and soap. His faded jeans are draped over the chair in the corner and his basketball rests on top of the dresser.
Maybe it didn't happen. Maybe it was all a long, incredibly detailed dream. Click your heels three times and you're back in your bed. There's no place like home.
It's a nice theory, anyhow.
The sun is setting behind the blinds and it looks like cold, dead January outside. She estimates she slept for almost eleven hours. She still feels weary, as if she could sleep for another eleven. Her neck and shoulder muscles are stiff from long driving.
She finds a note stuck to the bathroom mirror, the writing his bold scrawl:
M is for Mulder. M is also for Mark Ross. She wonders if he ever has trouble distinguishing the two.
She takes a long, hot shower, soaping away the grime of the road.
When she looks in the mirror after her shower, Dana Scully stares back at her. She's older now, worn by time, her hair the wrong length and color, but she's definitely Scully.
Changed into a clean pair of jeans and a turtleneck from her suitcase, she pads around the silent apartment. She randomly picks up and touches various items. A book on the coffee table, the fake leather of the sofa, a blue ceramic coffee mug in the sink. The apartment seems more lived-in than it ever was. There still isn't anything hanging on the off-white walls, but there's a burgundy throw blanket on the couch, a black wire basket full of magazines, a glazed pottery bowl on the end table. Come to think of it, the end table is new, too.
There's now a bookcase by the window, dark laminate with only the bottom shelf full of books. "PSIence: How New Discoveries in Quantum Physics and New Science May Explain the Existence of Paranormal Phenomena," "The Cantos of Ezra Pound," "Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the 60-Year Cover-Up."
A framed photograph is on the top shelf of the bookcase. The picture is one she hasn't seen in years.
In the picture, she in the Georgia hospital, wearing a hospital gown. She's holding her newborn son in her arms, the expression on her face both stunned and tender. William is swaddled in a blue baby blanket, a matching cap on his head. His oddly wise eyes are open and he seems to be looking at his mother in wonder.
Mulder must have had this picture all along. Perhaps it comforted him in hiding, reminding him that he had a family to return to.
One week. They had seven days as a family, playing house in her apartment, pretending it would always be like this.
On the last night, William began wailing and she heard Mulder rise and lift the baby from the bassinet. He changed William with surprisingly deft hands. The floorboards of the hallway creaked as he paced the length with his son in his arms.
"Shh," she heard Mulder say. "Let your mother sleep. Pretty soon it'll be just the two of you and you'll have plenty of time to keep her from her beauty rest."
She sat up in bed, hugging her knees. She felt something inside of her break.
She puts the photograph back in its place in the bookcase, pinches the bridge of her nose. Crying won't help her, not now.
She hears the scrape of the key in the lock. Mulder walks in, carrying a grocery bag. "Hey," he says, shedding his coat. "You're up."
She steps away from the bookcase, feeling like she's been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. "What did you buy?"
Mulder walks into the kitchen, deposits the bag on the counter. "Dinner," he says over his shoulder.
It feels like a second date, uncomfortably standing around while her date fusses in the kitchen, or a weekend as a houseguest of a distant cousin. Nine months is a long time, she thinks.
She leans against the refrigerator as Mulder chops vegetables, his knife thudding loud on the wood cutting board. He stops every so often to take a sip of beer. She's sticking to water.
In Providence, she'd come so close to the invisible line. There were too many mornings waking alone on her sofa, or bleary-eyed in Mike's bed, her head pounding from the bottle of wine she'd finished the night before.
Neat piles of red bell pepper, broccoli and mushrooms grow on the board. "What are you making?" she asks.
"Stir-fried chicken and vegetables with peanut sauce." He turns to look at her, a half-smile on his face. "I considered getting some tofu but I couldn't be that cruel to myself."
She sets the bottle of water on the counter. "How come you're not angry?"
"Who says I'm not angry?" he says calmly.
"You don't seem angry..."
He puts the knife down on the cutting board. "Scully, I've felt something different every hour since you left. If I'm not angry now, give me another hour or two. What I feel at this particular moment is relief."
You and me both, she thinks.
Dinner is eaten cross-legged in the couch, the television flashing the day's news on CNN. She has to stop herself from wolfing down the plate of multicolored vegetables, the first real ones she's seen for days. Her body thanks her for putting something into it that hasn't been deep fried.
A commercial from a high-tech men's razor comes on the screen and Mulder mutes the sound, turns to her.
Here it comes, she thinks. She's not sure if she's hungry any more.
His voice is gentle. "Are you going to tell me about it?"
She spears a mushroom with her fork. "Why I left?"
I promised myself I'd be honest, she thinks. She sets her plate down on the coffee table.
"I didn't want to be myself anymore," she says. "I didn't want to deal with all the things I'd done, the mistakes I'd made. What a mess I'd made of my life. I thought I could escape it all and be someone else."
"Did it work?"
"Of course not," she says, sighing. "I tried to become a woman named Cynthia Ellingson. She was a waitress, she was divorced, she was trying to start a new life. But in the end, I was only myself."
The expression on his face is inscrutable. "So, now you're back..."
"If you'll have me," she says. She looks down at her fingers, which have laced together as if she's praying.
"Jesus, Scully, do you think I'd tell you to go about your merry way? Go back to Providence? After all we've been through?" He shakes his head as if she's a complete idiot. Perhaps she is, after all.
Eleven years, she thinks. Almost twelve. Plagues, pestilence, and aliens and here they still are, alive and kicking, still together. Maybe it's time to start believing in miracles again.
She washes and he dries. It feels reassuringly normal and boring to be engaged in a household task. Once upon a time, she'd daydreamed about scenarios like this-- folding laundry, bickering about whose turn it was to take out the garbage.
"I want to tell you why I came back," she says, attacking the skillet with a green scouring pad.
"Tell me about it." He places a plate in the drying rack.
Her hands are shaking under the lemon-scented suds. "I didn't return because I couldn't make it alone. I would have survived, I think." She hands him the now-clean skillet.
Mulder wipes out the pan and dries his hands with a blue dish towel. He hands it to her. She wants to touch him, to kiss that familiar, petulant mouth of his, to reassure him with her body, not with words. Words don't always come easily to her.
She clears her throat. "I returned because I got tired of running. Not just from our enemies, but from everything we went through. Our history."
She takes his damp hand in hers and squeezes it. He flinches, and for one instant she's certain this has all been a mistake, that what was broken can never be repaired.
"We've both been running," he says and squeezes back. "And you're not the only one who's sick of it."
She says, "It has to stop. We're the people we are today because of what we experienced, the choices we made."
"Our mistakes." He brushes her cheek with his fingertips and she shivers.
William's bright blue eyes, so trusting as she placed him in the social worker's arms. He didn't cry. He was sure his mother would return for him.
Bundled into heavy coats and hats, they stroll through the neighborhood, almost no one on the sidewalks. Anyone with any sanity is inside their warm houses and apartments, watching midseason replacement TV shows. She and Mulder have never been known for their sanity, though, so they walk the deserted blocks so she can stretch her legs, her muscles twitchy after three days of driving, one of sleeping. The tip of her nose feels like it's going numb.
"We need to talk business," Mulder says.
She scrunches her forehead. "What business do we have?"
"There's a lawyer who thinks you could come out of hiding." His breath is a steady stream of white.
She stops dead in her tracks, in front of the entrance to an parochial school. St. Patricia's. The school's windows are covered in construction paper snowflakes and pine trees.
What body heat she has left rises to her face. "You spoke to a lawyer? How could you do something so risky?"
"I didn't talk to him, not directly, but I think we can trust him."
"Whatever happened to trust no one?"
Mulder touches her shoulder with his gloved hand. "He's Skinner's brother."
She's surprised to feel tears in her eyes. "Skinner? Is he all right? You talked to him?"
In the end, Skinner had risked everything for them. They all had. Skinner, Doggett, Monica, even Kersh.
"Again, not directly. It's kind of a long story," he says. "Let's go back home. I think you're turning blue."
"A few months ago, I went to Seattle for the weekend. I wanted to get away for a few days."
She blows on her Darjeeling to cool it. The cup warms her chilly hands.
"I kept a low profile. I was taking a walk in Queen Anne, looking at the houses. I turned a corner and literally bumped into an old friend."
"Who was it?" The tea is now cool enough to sip.
"Monica Reyes. She left the Bureau and get this...she's in midwifery school."
She can't help laughing at the knowledge that her accidental midwife is now studying to be one for real. Sweet, scatty Monica, and her well-meaning blather about good energy and whale songs.
"Scully, I haven't heard you laugh in so long."
"Tell the story, Mulder." She waves an impatient hand at him.
"Anyhow, Monica had a few interesting pieces of information, via Doggett. According to her, the FBI isn't looking for us very hard anymore. There's not even an agent assigned to our case. We're off the Top 10 list."
"That doesn't seem right," she says. "It sounds like a trap."
Mulder shrugs. "It could be; I don't know. There are still warrants out for our arrests, but the FBI is no longer throwing any manpower at it."
"Where does Skinner come into this?"
They had been afraid to even Google his name, or Reyes' or Doggett's, concerned it could somehow set off warning bells in various systems, both legal and covert.
Mulder sips his tea. His is Earl Grey, "the official tea of Jean-Luc Picard fans worldwide," as he used to joke. "Monica still keeps in touch with him. He's fine, he's still with the Bureau. So is Doggett. He's working Organized Crime now. Kersh somehow managed to cover all their asses. Proof of their complicity in my escape never materialized. As far as the investigation goes, I somehow managed to escape from the brig on my own."
Her eyebrow rises. "That's an X-File in itself."
"You're still considered to be part of it. Aiding and abetting, according to the lawyer. Michael Skinner, he's the younger brother. He lives in Seattle and Monica met with him after talking to Skinner. She came out here to tell me what he had to say."
She's getting impatient now. Sometimes Mulder has the most labyrinthine way of telling stories. "What did he say?"
"He seems to think there wouldn't be much to charge you with, if you turned yourself in. He's not even sure a felony charge would stick."
"Turn myself in?" Unthinkable.
"You could be free again, Scully. You could have a normal life, openly see your family, maybe be a doctor again."
She finds herself shaking her head.
"Scully..." He's smiling, but it's an artificial smile, the one he sometimes displays when he wants to reassure her in a dangerous situation. "Think about it."
"There's nothing to think about. It's too dangerous. We'd be separated." Does he really believe she'd leave him behind so she could perform autopsies and call her mother every Sunday morning?
He sets his mug down on the coffee table a little too hard and tea spills onto the table. Mulder blots at it with a tissue.
He turns to her, his eyes steady. "You didn't seem to mind the prospect of separation last spring."
There it is, his anger welling to the surface. Good, he deserves to be angry.
"That's not the pertinent issue, Mulder, and you know it. It's dangerous. We're not just running from the law; we have more dangerous enemies to consider."
Mulder tilts his head at her. "Then, consider this-- how come they haven't found us?"
"Because we're good at hiding in plain sight?"
He makes a derisive noise. "They once were able to track our every move, every breath. A global conspiracy involving super-intelligent beings, and they can't find us in this apartment in Spokane, Washington?"
She's loving this conversation. It reminds her of mornings in their musty basement office, reheated cafeteria coffee and wild speculation about exsanguinated bodies. Putting their heads together in airport lounges, whispering about what they'd seen on the road. Late night phone calls to discuss new developments.
"So, what's your theory?"
"I don't have one, not really. Maybe they realized we're not much of a threat to them, not anymore. Maybe lines have been redrawn. Maybe there's been some sort of reprieve."
"Or maybe they're waiting for us to emerge from hiding so they can snare us."
"Maybe." Mulder shrugs. "I don't know. But I think this information merits further investigation."
She smiles at him, her mind whirring with possibilities. He grins back, one conspirator to another.
She's grown sleepy again. They talked for a long time as their tea grew cold. Nothing was decided, but every facet was held up to the light for a thorough examination.
In the bathroom, she brushes her teeth. She still feels like a houseguest, politely tiptoeing around her host. She's not even sure where she'll be sleeping tonight. She shuts the door to change into her pajamas.
He's in bed, lying on his side. He watches her as she emerges from the bathroom, his heavy-lidded eyes seeming to ask her a question she can't quite read.
She stands in the doorway, shifting her weight from foot to foot.
Mulder pats the mattress. "I don't bite," he says.
She remembers the night she crept into his bed as the wind outside howled and branches beat a tattoo against the windowpanes. He'd received her gratefully that night, his arms wide open to welcome her.
She lies on her back, staring at the ceiling, butter-colored from the lamplight. Mulder seems oceans away again, all the way on the other side of the big bed. She can hear the soft, even cadence of his breathing.
For one crazy instant, she misses Mike, misses being wrapped in his strong arms. They'd had no past, no future, just an uncomplicated, sweet present. She knows she'll have to tell Mulder about Mike soon enough. But not tonight, not when their union is so fragile, brittle as ancient parchment.
The light snaps off. She hears something sliding across the sheet. It's his hand, coming to rest in the center of the bed. Her hand makes its own journey to meet his there.
She blinks until the red letters of the clock radio come into focus. 3:14 a.m. She's fully awake, legs restless under the covers. Mulder is lying on his back, one arm thrown across her chest as if he's trying to prevent her from leaving in the night. She wriggles out from under his arm. He grunts and rolls over onto his stomach, still asleep.
All her old herbal teas are still in the kitchen cabinet. She's strangely touched that he kept them all these months, since Mulder considers herbal tea a travesty in the good name of tea. She makes a cup of Lemon Zinger and takes it out to the living room.
She finds herself settled on the couch with the hospital photograph in her hands.
The first week of William's life, she spent hours counting his ten fingers and ten toes, unable to believe he was real and wriggling in her arms. She stared at his drowsy Winston Churchill face, touched the goose down on his head. Once she caught Mulder standing in the doorway, smiling at them.
This won't last, she thought, but immediately tried to bury that thought. She wanted to savor every moment the three of them had together. Those memories would have to last them a long time.
There are footsteps on the floor, his footsteps. She resists the urge to hide the picture under a sofa pillow.
"Scully?" he calls out in a sleepy voice from the bedroom.
"I'm out here."
He's afraid she's left again. Can she blame him?
He emerges, his hair sticking up in every possible direction, eyes droopy. "What are you doing up?"
She glances down at the picture. William was definitely Mulder's child. Same pouting mouth when he was upset or disappointed.
"I could ask you the same question. Don't you have to work in the morning?"
He sits down next to her and props his bare feet up on the coffee table. "I was sick yesterday with the flu bug that's been going around. I'm still sick today." Mulder grins crookedly. "Did I tell you I got a promotion? I'm now the assistant quality assurance supervisor of the claims entry department."
A bachelor's degree, a master's degree, nearly two decades of experience as a field agent, criminal profiler and an expert in the paranormal, and he's supervising data entry workers at an insurance company. God has a hell of a sense of humor.
Mulder taps the glass of the frame with his index finger. "You found it."
She nods. Williams's eyes were her eyes, but when he smiled he was Mulder all over again.
"It seemed wrong that we never had a picture of him out, like we were trying to pretend he never existed," he says.
He's four now. She imagines William full of his father's restive curiosity, constantly badgering his adoptive family with questions about how the world works.
"Mulder," she says. Her stomach does a slow roll. "Do you...do you think you'll ever forgive me?"
Forgiveness is the ultimate gift one person can give another, Father McCue had once told her.
He sighs, shakes his head. "You're asking the wrong question."
"What's the right one?"
He pulls her close and whispers in her ear, his breath warm on her skin. "When are you going to forgive yourself?"
Oh. That's the real question.
"I don't know if I ever can."
He smooths her hair. "You have to, Scully. I can spend the rest of my life reassuring you that I don't hate you for giving him up, for doing what you had to do to keep him safe. But until you forgive yourself for it, it's going to gnaw away at you. It'll kill you in the end."
Tears begin sliding down her cheeks. "I once told you that I wouldn't change a day. But if I could go back in time..."
"You can't, Scully." He grasps her hand in hers, nearly crushing your fingers. "You can't. You have to accept that you made the best decision you could at the time. It doesn't mean you can't mourn for him, that you can't miss him. But you have to accept it and forgive yourself. "
She buries her face in his chest, her tears surely leaking through his t-shirt. Mulder wraps his arms around her.
"I miss him, too," he murmurs into her hair. "I never really got to know him, but I miss him. I think about him every day. I wonder how tall he is now, if his hair is as red as yours, if he likes baseball and if he's gotten to see "Star Wars" yet. I wonder if he's as smart as you or as obsessive-compulsive as I am. And don't think I don't have my own regrets and guilt, Scully. I do."
"We never talked about him." She raises her head from his chest and wipes away her tears with a tissue, blows her nose.
"It was the silence, Mulder." She bites her lower lip. "I couldn't stand the silence any more, couldn't stand not talking about him. It's why I had to leave."
"I regret that." He kisses her forehead.
"Do you think we'll ever be able to talk about him?"
"We're doing it right now. It's a good sign."
She nods. It is a good sign. She wants to believe in their ability to change, to adapt, that somehow they can find some happiness in all this.
Mulder hides a yawn. She gives his hand a tug. "It's late. Let's go back to bed."
Wrapped in Mulder's arms at last, in the middle of the bed, the room lit only the by the street light sneaking in between the slats of the blinds.
"Did you ever think I'd come back?" she asks. His skin is so warm.
He makes a sound in the back of this throat. It takes him a long time to answer. "I had to believe you'd return," he finally says. "I couldn't imagine an alternative."
"I didn't. For a long time, I thought I would be Cynthia forever. I thought I could leave everything behind."
"How could you have so little faith in us?" There's a touch of acid in his voice.
"I don't know. I think I forgot who I was. But I realized that I couldn't be myself, really myself, without you."
He holds her tighter. "I'm only going ask you this once, Scully. Do you still love me?"
How can he ask such a question?
He needs reassurance, she reminds herself. You left him without a word of warning and stayed away for the better part of a year. Of course he can ask that question.
"Through it all, I've always loved you," she whispers.
"You wrote something like that on the note you left me," he says. "I tried to take what hope I could in those words. That and your late night hang-up calls..."
She smiles into the pillow. "So, you figured me out, did you?"
"Who else was going to call me in the middle of the night, with the Caller ID blocked?" He laughs but then his voice grows serious. "I was glad to get the calls, though. Every call meant you were still alive, still out there somewhere."
"How come you never answered?"
"You would have just hung up anyhow, wouldn't you?"
"Probably," she says. "I wasn't ready to talk to you yet. I just wanted to be sure you were still here."
"I was. I was all this time."
He leans in to kiss her, their first real kiss since she returned, his lips so soft. His fingers tangle in her hair.
"I tried hard not to think about you," she says, while he draws a necklace of kisses on her neck. "I tried so hard, but I couldn't stop."
Mulder moves atop her and she gasps when she feels him hard on her thigh.
"I want you," he whispers in her ear, his hand snaking up her pajama top to circle her breasts. "I want you so much, but if you're not ready..."
Every cell in her body has suddenly sparked alive, made electric by his touch. "I am," she mutters through clenched teeth.
Their nightclothes are hastily thrown onto the floor. Her fingers re-explore the planes of his body, counting his vertebrae, naming his muscles-- trapezius, latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus. She finds the scars that are her old friends.
It feels like the first time. In a way, perhaps it is.
His hands are unhurried as he strokes her. Her breathing is coming in pants already, the blood seeming to leave her head to rush down to where he's working his arcane magic with his fingers. She takes him in her hand and gently squeezes; he's silken and hard at the same time. He groans in response, the Mulder equivalent of speaking in tongues.
"Please," she whispers against his shoulder. "Oh, please..."
He sits up and scrabbles in the bedside table for a condom. There was a miracle once, nearly five years ago. They don't need another one.
She waits impatiently, her fingers grasping at the sheet, as she hears the package tear open. And then he's there, nudging her. She's so, so ready.
Tears burn her eyes as he slides into her and comes to a stop, resting. She wraps her arms around him.
"I could almost believe in a benevolent deity," he whispers, and kisses her.
Mulder had said nearly the same thing the first time they made love. "Maybe there is a God, after all," he'd said.
She knows there is. She may doubt God's plans for her, for them, she may get angry at Him for what He's placed in their path, but she still believes.
They move together in the dark room, the bedsprings creaking in protest. She never forgot this rhythm, the smell of his skin and his sweat, how deeply he can go in her. Every time she was with Mike, as nice as it was, some part of her brain protested, "But, this isn't Mulder."
This is Mulder. It will take a long time to make things right. Maybe it'll never be completely right, maybe it never was in the first place. But she is his and he is hers. They are an alloy, stronger together than as separate elements. There can be no one else.
She's entirely left her body now. She's somewhere near the ceiling, watching their bodies entwined, watching Mulder on his elbows, thrusting into her. She watches herself, her fingers clutching his shoulders, her head tipped back, eyes closed, mouth opening in surprise.
And then with an almost audible whoosh, she returns to her body and she's coming, arching against his chest, eyes rolling back in her head.
"Oh, God, Scully," he gasps, moving so hard and fast in her it hurts, but she doesn't care. She lifts her legs higher on his back so he can go even deeper into her.
I don't want this to ever stop, she thinks. If we could stay like this, everything would be fine, we'd be happy all the time.
He comes with a long sigh. She watches him and even though the room is dark, she can still make out the features of his face contort with bliss. It's the most gorgeous thing she's seen in ages. The majesty of the Rockies can't compare.
Mulder collapses on her, his breathing beginning to slow. She can feel his heart's rapid beating.
"Do you still believe in God?" she asks.
"I think I believe in everything right now. God, Allah, Buddha, Yaweh, Jehovah, Krishna," he says and laughs. It's so good to hear him laugh again. In their last months together there had been no laughter at all.
She shuts her eyes to savor the last twinges of pleasure coursing through her body. Mulder rolls off her. She hears him walking to the bathroom and the flushing of the toilet flush and then he's climbing back into bed. He moves against her, his fever-warm chest against her back.
"Welcome home," he says. "I really, really missed you."
She smiles. "I can tell."
"I want things to be different."
"I do too."
He kisses the nape of her neck, the spot where the implant hides beneath her skin. "I want you to tell me about him."
She lifts her head from the pillow. "About William?"
She doesn't want to, not now, not when everything feels new and shiny between them. Not when she's feeling content and satisfied for the first time in what feels like eons.
But she knows she has to. She's promised herself, and him, that everything will be different this time. It starts here, she thinks.
"Tell me all about him," Mulder says.
She closes her eyes, picturing William's toothless smile and his fat little legs, wiggling in the car seat.
"He was a good baby. He only cried if he was hungry or had a dirty diaper. He loved anything colorful, could stare at the quilt my mother made him for hours. He'd laugh his head off if he heard music. He was a fan of classic rock, just like you. He had a particular love for Led Zeppelin and the Moody Blues. He didn't like the Stones much, though. He loved it when I sang to him, despite my terrible voice. He was always so happy to see me when I picked him up after work, would just smile and smile. He could already stand at nine months and walk if I held his hands. He scared me sometimes, the powers he seemed to have, because I just wanted him to be a baby like any other. He hated any kind of green vegetable and would spit it out immediately. He'd sometimes fall asleep on my shoulder while I worked at home and I'd feel so content; despite missing you so terribly, I felt like I had almost everything I needed in the world..."
The morning sunshine is obscenely bright to her sleepy eyes. She's in her old bed, in the Spokane bedroom. Mulder is inches away, sleeping on his back. His eyes are moving beneath his closed lids. He's dreaming.
It all happened. It wasn't an incredibly detailed dream.
She fights the urge to rise from the bed and run again, escape from everything that's still tangled and knotted between them. She shuts her eyes and takes a deep breath.
Get real, Dana, she tells herself. You're here and you're not going to leave again. This is where you belong.
She loves this man. It will never be easy with them. It never has been. It will take a lot of hard work. But she's up to the task, right?
She inches closer to Mulder and kisses his temple, his forehead, his scratchy chin. His eyes flutter open and he smiles to see her there.
Click your heels three times, she thinks, and you're back in your bed. There's no place like home.
MORE NOTES: In "The Wizard of Oz," Glinda actually says "tap your heels." I originally remembered it as "click your heels" and I like how that sounds better, so I went with it for the story. For the record, I'm not much of a fan of "The Wizard of Oz." It scared the pants off of me as a little girl. But the lines seemed fitting for this story.
Thank you to Mr. B for beta, to leucocrystal for her contagious enthusiasm for fanfic and this fandom, and to innisfree and onpaperfirst for beautiful stories that make me want to be a better writer.