Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.

Author notes: This takes place a good bit of time after Scream 3. I actually wrote this at Christmas last year... I've been a Scream fan since I was nine years old.

Sidney Prescott's hands trembled as she pulled the key from the ignition of her car, clinching it tightly in her fist. Her shoulders in their baggy green jacket slumped heavily, and she bowed her head, closing her eyes briefly as she pressed her lips together.

Come on, Sid… you have to do this. You have to… there's no other way, no other option.

The parking lot was brightly lit, between the shimmering glow of the full moon and the golden Christmas lights wrapped around the cemetery gate and tree trunks. A simple wreath, decked with a medium-sized red bow, hung at the gate's entrance, and a poinsettia plant had been placed on most of the graves.

It had been years since the Christmas season had brought Sidney any pleasure at all, let alone joy or peace. It seemed each year that the bustle of the holiday- the mob of shoppers, the bright colors and displays, the decorations and lights- just got more prominent, more aggressively ubiquitous, mocking her and the emptiness she felt, the anxiety that plagued her each day. The cheerful songs, the signs for plays and parties, the crusty sidewalks and children's excited voices- all served only as a sharp reminder to her of what she had lost, the carefree enjoyment she would never again be able to experience.

She wondered if he knew this, if he had picked this time of the year deliberately; but then, did it matter? Was there really any time- any hour of any day- where something failed to remind her, to expound upon her pain?

Sidney opened her eyes again slowly, drawing in a shuddering breath as she turned her eyes to the cemetery grounds. The air seemed to echo with the silence of the night, sending goosebumps down her arms and a shiver down her spine. The silence, she knew, would soon be broken.

She could see him; how could she miss him? For though his loose black garments might blend him with the darkness, the white face of the ghoul mask he wore nearly glowed…

He had called her nearly two hours ago, hours that she had spent driving back to Woodsboro, back to where it had all begun… all the deaths, the murders, the enraged psychopaths, all who had one thing in common- their desire to kill Sidney Prescott. She had tried for the second time to leave Woodsboro after the third round of murders had ended- after she had ended them. She had killed her half brother, a half brother she had not known even existed… until he, like so many others, had decided his goal in life was to end hers.

Once more she had left Woodsboro, tried to hide herself away from anyone who might

decide the third strike did not equal an out. Her chosen location had been different this time; rather than relocating to a remote mountainous area, where she was essentially stranded from human contact should anyone find her, Sidney had gone urban. By moving to the city, she hoped to be inconspicuous enough among all the other people that she would be virtually invisible. She would keep to herself, doing her work from her apartment, just as she had when she'd lived in the mountains. For a while it had seemed to work- for a while it had really seemed that Sidney would finally be left to live her life, even if it were a life of loneliness, anxiety, and fear…

But then he had called… the killer, as Sidney had come to think of them all as, a single entity moving from person to person, never stopping, never giving up on its goal to end her pathetic facsimile of a life. They always found her- somehow they always found her, and they always called.

Sidney suspected that if she moved across the country- something she could not afford- or even to another continent, to Africa or Russia or Australia- even then, as long as she had a phone, the killer would find her, and once more he would follow. There was no escaping him. Every move she made, every year that passed only seemed to make his determination increase, his passion for violence grow wilder. There truly was no escaping him.

Sidney had known even before she answered her phone that it was him. No one outside those associated with her job ever called her, and she knew each of their numbers by heart. Even her father never called her, for she had not told him where she was. She had left him a note, explaining that his knowledge of her whereabouts endangered not only her life but also his. She kept in contact with no one from her past, including Dewey and Gale, her only surviving friends. It was safer that way for everyone, and less painful for her. She could not taint their lives with the curse of her friendship- her very survival.

In the end, her efforts had come to nothing. She may have delayed the time it took for him to find her- but he had done so anyway. He always did.

He had spoken to her with the same malicious, throaty tone as always, not expanding his pursuit of her any longer with pretenses of his identity.

"Hello, Sidney," he had growled, and his next words, lame as they were, still did not fail to freeze her inside. "Have you ever wondered why the colors of Christmas are green and bright RED?"

He had told her to come back to Woodsboro, to meet her at the cemetery on North Dross Street… he would be waiting for her on her mother's grave. It was time, he told her, to make a choice, to find out for herself the true meaning of gifts and sacrifices on this holiday of giving. For as of now, he had assured her, he had not yet killed anyone… he had not yet harmed Dewey or Gale, her father or others she knew. And if she would come to him, voluntarily, give herself up to him, he would have no

incentive to do so.

It was she he truly wanted… she whose death would truly satisfy him. And here she was… she had obeyed him, following his orders to tell no one, to bring no one else into their meeting. Once again, it was just Sidney and the killer… once again, she would face up to the hatred personified that had plagued her for over ten years.

In the brightly lit parking lot, the cheery Christmas lights flickering across her face, Sidney stared at the figure in the distance. Her eyes felt hot, not quite teary, but on the verge, and her arms seemed to be crawling with something infuriatingly itchy under her jacket sleeves, putting her further on the edge. The scars underneath, some fresher than others, barely scabbed over, seemed to be begging her to reopen them, give off a measure of relief to her fear and anxiety. For some reason it was never as bad on her ankles or torso, her thighs or abdomen, as her arms.

Her father had been in shock when he saw her, had thought her shallow wounds attempts at suicide. He had been wrong. One could be suicidal, harm oneself, and yet never dream of allowing oneself to die. Sidney was only attempting to prevent what had happened in the past from happening again. It was the only way she could stop the images she saw from day to day, the visions of her friends, dead, dying, all beyond her help… only by making herself bleed could she stop seeing the blood of others. Somehow she had hoped that if she harmed herself first, it would no longer be so desirable to others to harm her. She did not expect anyone else to understand her logic, but somehow she had fully believed it.

Now, however, she could see that it was wrong. It didn't matter what she did- nothing would ever make her death less desirable to others.

Taking another deep breath, feeling it rattle in her throat, Sidney slowly opened the car door and stepped outside. Her throat felt icy, and she was shivering, though the December air was unusually warm. Her arms still crawling, her heart thudding in her chest, she began to walk to the cemetery entrance, her eyes fixed on the figure ahead. The only noise for miles seemed to be soft patter of her footsteps and the sound of her slightly labored breathing.

Her mother was far from the only victim of murder buried in this cemetery. There were far more people she had known and loved buried nearby than Sidney could bear. Casey Becker, Steven Orr, Principal Himbry, Tatum Riley, Randy Meeks, her college roommate Hallie… and Derek. Derek, the last boy Sidney had allowed herself to love. The boy who had been murdered because of her doubt of him…

Sidney kept her eyes trained on the figure at her mother's grave as she approached him, her face pale and deliberately blank. If her eyes strayed over to see the names of others she recognized on the poinsettia-adorned graves, she would not be able to continue in what she knew she had to do.

It seemed to take ages, but finally she stood before the killer. She could not see his face behind the mask, but she had no doubt he was smiling.

"Hello, Sidney," he growled, and his voice was the trademark one of each of the previous killers, leaving no hint as to his or her identity. Sidney saw that as usual, he was holding a long, gleaming knife in a gloved hand. "I see you have a grasp of the holiday's true meaning, unlike so many these days. Noble to the end; how very touching. I would wish you happy holidays, but I'm afraid you won't be alive long enough to see them."

"Just get on with it," Sidney said tersely, biting her words off bitterly. "Tell me who you are and why you're so certain I need to die, how evil I am and how much you hate me for ruining your life somehow. You know, the song and dance I've been hearing for ten years now."

"But it's so much more fun when you're left in suspense a while, don't you agree, Sidney?" the killer rasped. "Like looking at a pile of gifts under the Christmas tree… it makes the revelations all the sweeter."

"Spare me all the 'fun' and just get to the point, okay?" Sidney said sharply, and she held herself at the elbows, her shoulders hunched. The killer had not yet made a move toward her, only stood there, holding his knife almost casually. Should he move, she was steeling herself, preparing herself for what she would have to do…

"Why have you brought me here? What excuse do you have this time?" she asked.

"Why Sidney, it should be obvious by now to you that I've brought you here to die. I've brought you here to slit your sternum open and leave you bleeding across your mother's grave… like mother, like daughter."

"I figured that one," Sidney cut in, trying not to let her voice show any fear, not to change her numbed expression. "Why else? What sick fucking excuse is it this time? Did I cut you off in traffic, turn you down for a date in the fifth grade? What?"

Her words were bold, but inside she was crumpling, only wanting to shrink away…

"You're trying to stall me, Sidney," the killer hissed. "You think that if you can divert me, make me take the time to tell you an EXPLANATION, to give you my MOTIVE, that maybe you can distract me. You think maybe you can find a way to do something brave and daring, something so typical of our heroine Sidney. What thoughts are running through that mind of yours, Sidney? Are you planning to somehow trip me, make me concuss myself on your beloved mother's grave? Are you thinking what poetic justice that would be? Or are you just planning to take my knife?"

Sidney stayed silent, motionless, her eyes fixed on the killer; this only seemed to encourage him, for he continued, his body language even through the baggy costume

exuding self-assurance and glee.

"Might as well give up on those futile little dreams, Sidney. Not this time… this time there is not one to rescue you, no one to come in the nick of time to help you out. For every beginning there must be an end… and it ends for you tonight."

"Why?" Sidney asked insistently, her limbs pulled into her torso even further.. She seemed utterly broken, utterly defenseless in her posture even as her tone belied it. "Why now- why tonight, why you? That's what all the others said too- what makes you think you're so different, so special, that you can kill me when they could not?"

"That's just it, Sidney," the killer boasted, leaning towards her intently, his masked face fixed upon her as he continued to wield the knife at her, as if needing to remind her of his deadly intent. "I AM different from the others… special, as you put it. I'm not like them at all. The others were amateurs, sloppy, pigheaded, whining little pussy bastards who killed in passionate rages. They had no purpose, no greater meaning to their deeds- only a motive. If they even had a plan, it was so simplistic and self-serving that they were caught in it- defeated in it- easily. I will not be defeated, Sidney- not even by you.

"Hmm," Sidney grunted, and her arms pressed still closer against her sides, hugging. She could feel herself trembling as her thoughts began to scatter, to deviate from the present, and she made herself stand even more rigidly, made herself focus only on the boastful figure before her.

"Think about it, Sidney. Just think about it, and I'm sure you'll understand… what month is it? What time of the year is it? What time of the year is it that our heroine Sidney is finally going to die? Christmas… Christmas. And what does Christmas signify beyond the presents and trees, the strings of lights and mechanical Santas? It's a commemoration of the birth of a man who sacrificed his life to save others."

The killer's voice lowered; grew still more intense, and though he did not attempt to move closer to Sidney, he somehow gave off the impression that he had.

"It was his fate, Sidney… to give his life so that others' lives would be spared. It was his identity- and so is it yours. Like him, you must accept it- that is, if you truly love your friends as much as you claim to."

"I'm fucking here, aren't I?" Sidney spat. "Are you asking my permission? Do you want me to thank you for turning me into a martyr? Am I supposed to be appeased because you compare me to Jesus? What the hell does that make you in your mind- God or Satan? I'm sorry, but you're just a man. Or woman, or whatever the hell you are. Gender doesn't matter- you're just an IT in my eyes, a pathetic THING like all the rest of them."

"I can think of no better place for you to die than surrounded by those who died for

you," the killer said deliberately, his eyes drinking in Sidney's expression, the way it slowly filled with pain. "Those you could not save… those you were too SELFISH to save. Had you done this before, had you simply given yourself to be killed, then so many others would still live. Their blood is on your hands."

Sidney closed her eyes briefly as faces flashed before her eyes… he was right, of course. She could have ended this long ago… all their deaths, they were all her fault. They had all been because of her.

"For someone who is afraid I'll stall them by making them talk, you sure do go on a lot," she said bitterly. "Why don't you get to the fucking point already?"

"Oh yes, I suppose you're still hoping I'll tell you who I am," the killer drawled. "I suppose you're hoping I'll rip my mask off and show you… I suppose you're planning on gasping in shock and distracting me with questions. I suppose you think I'll launch into a detailed explanation of all the reasons, so you can have time to figure out a way to kill me? Am I right, Sidney?"

"Well, that is usually what happens," Sidney said flatly.

"Not this time, Sidney," the killer purred, seeming to obtain great pleasure from his words, the sound of his own voice. "There's no escape for you this time… for how can you be a martyr if you will not die? How can you truly save others when you will not give yourself for them? No, Sidney, you must die- and you will die tonight."

He took a step forward menacingly, reaching for her.. .but Sidney did not move away more than a single step back. She closed her eyes, as if willing herself to remain. The killer halted, regarding her in confusion… for despite all he had said, he'd obviously expected her to run.

"I won't argue with you- I know I have to die tonight," Sidney said quietly, emotionlessly. "But I don't care. What do I have to live for? You killed my friends, my family- and if I stay alive, you'll kill the few I have left. Almost everyone I loved is dead… and you're right, I should be too. Had I died long ago, had I not fought to save myself at the expense of others' lives, then dozens of people would still be here."

Her voice lowered, and for the first time she allowed herself to look around the graveyard.

"These people would still be here."

The killer gave a low chuckle, surprised as well as amused. He fingered the knife lovingly.

"Smart girl. This makes it that much easier on us both…"

He advanced toward her slowly, seeming to enjoy the anticipation, clearly expecting her to stand still… but Sidney took a few steps back. They were not panicked or quick steps- but they were retreating, and once more he stopped, confused.

"Second thoughts already? Whatever happened to Sidney the heroine, Sidney the martyr?"

"Oh, she's not having second thoughts," Sidney assured him. "I know what it is I have to do. One thing though… I will die, yes, but you won't be the one to kill me. I will deny you that… your ultimate pleasure, your greatest dream. I will end it all… all the deaths, all the pain and suffering you've caused, that I've caused by my survival. No one will ever be killed because of me again. But I will not let you be the one to do it. I will deny you that… and in that, there could be no greater defeat for you, no greater victory for me."

Though she could not see his face, Sidney knew the killer must be sneering, incredulous and mocking of her words.

"Oh, is that so, Sidney? And just how do you propose to accomplish that? Is there someone waiting in the wings to finish you off? How do you expect to escape me?"

Sidney looked into the black eyeholes of the ghoulish mask… the mask that had pursued her, haunted her in life and dreams, never giving up, never allowing her to live a normal life… she looked at the arrogant nameless figure before her, the figure that had destroyed over the years her life, the lives of all she knew…

She looked, and slowly she began to smile.

"Like this," she said, and an odd joy filled her eyes. "Like this.."

Before the killer could make a move, dart forward to stop her, her hand had thrust itself under the baggy fabric of her jacket, withdrawing a handgun from inside the waist of her jeans. Quickly she opened her mouth, sticking the gun's barrel inside… and as the killer lunged at her, she pulled the trigger.

For several moments, the masked figure only stood there, gazing at the crumpled body lying at the foot of Maureen Prescott's grave… his costume hid any facial expression he might have made as he stared at the carnage, clutching the unused knife in his gloved fist. The air was silent; all around as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but the dead.

The dead, and a killer who had not killed.

Suddenly a raw scream broke the deathly still air, the silence resounding among the graveyard grounds… a shriek of horror and rage, anguish and disbelief…

Under his mask the killer was screaming, the mask revealing no glimpse of the infuriated person behind it.

The poinsettia on Maureen's grave lay on its side, the pot shattered, red leaves spilling onto the ground. It had been knocked over by Sidney's falling form. The cemetery gate's lights continued to flash brightly, twinkling the joy of the season across the cemetery grounds.