A Remote Part of California

"—I love you too."

Sidney awoke in her bedroom, startled by the sound of her own voice in the dark. She opened her eyes. It took her a moment to realize where she was. And then she remembered.

It was just a dream. None of it had ever happened: the late-night phone call, the porno section of the Video Hut, their shared kiss or the intimacy that followed it.

But one thing was real: she had loved Randy Meeks. She just hadn't realized it until now. And now it was far too late.

A few days after she'd started to distance herself from Derek, Randy had been murdered. Her friends who'd found the body had tried to spare her the details, but she'd pushed them until she'd heard every word: the shattered window of the news van, the blood seeping out onto the pavement, those ice-blue eyes frozen open and spattered with tiny droplets of red. He was gone.

So much for becoming a famous director.

It shouldn't have been Randy. It should've been me…

Derek was gone, too. The new Ghostface, once again someone Sidney had called a friend, had shot him in the heart.

By now, Sidney had lived through three appearances of the masked killer; the tattered robe and ghastly white mask had pursued her through the years like the Shadow of Death. The last time had ended only a week or so before.

Randy had been right, all those years ago: Sidney was a fighter. She'd clawed and punched and kicked, and she'd survived.

But now, Sidney realized that there were some things she couldn't fight.

She began to cry. She could almost feel Randy's presence there in the darkness, and it filled her not with comfort, but with pain. She sobbed helplessly, hopelessly.

As she wept, her hand crept up her necklace, softly touching Derek's Greek Letters. She remembered the day he'd given them to her: he'd really made a fool of himself, singing "I Think I Love You" loudly and joyously to her in front of the whole cafeteria. At the end of the song, he'd kissed her and presented her with the necklace. It had been such a silly, sweet thing to do.

Derek's last words had been a confirmation of his love to her. In the weeks following his death, she'd found that she couldn't bear to take the letters off… every time she tried, she'd see him standing on the cafeteria table, singing, a big grin on his face… and that would turn into the image of his corpse, the still-warm blood dripping from his chest.

Sidney grasped the necklace in her dark bedroom, clinging to it. She remained that way for a long time, shaking with silent sobs.

Then, moving very slowly, like an old woman, she unclasped the chain, and allowed it to slide from her hand and drop to the floor. She knew now who she had really loved—now that it no longer mattered.

She cried for reasons she didn't entirely understand: guilt for taking off Derek's token of love; self-loathing for never realizing the truth about her feelings for Randy. Her tears finally fell for everyone she had lost, everyone she had been too busy being a survivor to mourn. And of course, she cried for the old deep wound of Randy's death, and the fresh new one of her epiphany.

The phone began to ring.

Sidney curled up in a ball of misery and did not answer. She wept, listening to the mocking sound of the phone go on and on in the darkness.


A/N: I'm so sorry, guys. I did warn you.

Also, I know the "it was all a dream" ending is a really tired trope. Like I said in my notes at the beginning, this story was originally conceived over a decade ago, when I was a lot younger and more inexperienced at writing (and at sex, which is why my original version was an utter cringefest for me to re-read nowadays). Anyways, there are two reasons I kept this story and tried to salvage it, instead of simply trashing it. One is simply because, no matter how cringy the first version was, I felt it had some moments and emotions that were really beautiful, and those were worth the effort of saving. I hope you all feel that way, too.

The other reason is because this story serves as a pretty solid prequel to another Scream fic I've written since, "Luck." I'm going to upload that story directly after this one, so it'll probably be available by the time you read this. "Luck" isn't a particularly cheerful tale either, but I do think its ending is satisfying enough to make up for this one. I hope you check it out!