What Was

By Meghan

Authorís note: This is a companion fic to Silvís ďWhat Could Have Been.Ē As far as continuity goes, either fic can be read first, but hereís a tip: for a happier ending, read Silvís first. For a darker ending, read mine first. That said, enjoy.

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Take care of some things. She just had to take care of some things. It was a nice vague excuse, perfect for the situation. Truth be told, she did want to make sure her house was locked up and that Megabyte hadnít decided to trash it, too. But in all honesty, she just wanted to get the hell out of the Principal Office.

There are times when you just need to go home. This was one of those times.

Given the rather sinister buddy system they now found themselves under, Mouse offered to come along, as did Hack and Slash. With the robots stationed outside to keep anyone else from getting in, Dot left Mouse to make sure the ground floor was secure and headed directly to her bedroom. The one place in the Net that had always made her feel safe. She absent-mindedly started picking up some of the clothing that had been scattered about in her haste to get ready for the wedding that morning when she noticed the piece of paper on her pillow.

A chill went down her spine. That hadnít been there earlier. She walked toward the bed slowly, as if she were trying to sneak up on the paper. Itís from Enzo, she said to herself, almost forcefully. Enzo left it for me. Itís a good-luck note for the wedding... Dot reached out a trembling hand, picked up the paper, unfolded it, and began to read.

Shock, fear, and utter revulsion combined in a single crashing wave that left Dot with a staggering coldness in the pit of her stomach. All day sheíd been fighting off thoughts of what sheíd almost done... the idea of marrying him of was horrible enough, but it was nothing compared to the words that had floated into her brain shortly after Megabyte had fled the Principal Office: wedding night. Keeping that out of her mind had taken all her strength, and now here it was spelled out on paper for her. With an agonized cry Dot crumpled up the note and flung it to the floor. He was in my house... he was in my room... User, he wrote it down... She felt the bile rise in her throat, and dashed into the adjoining bathroom. She barely had time to kneel down before she violently vomited into the toilet.

"Dot? Honey, whereíd you go?"

Dot folded her arms on top of the seat and rested her forehead against them; she didnít have the strength to reply. Within a few moments, Mouse appeared in the bathroom doorway. "Dot..." she gasped.

A green hand feebly reached up and flushed the toilet before slumping back to the floor. Mouse wordlessly strode to the sink and filled a paper cup with water; then she knelt down beside Dot and gently pressed the cup into her hand. "Drink it slowly."

Dot nodded her thanks and took a few sips. Mouse lightly rubbed her friendís back. "Sugar, what happened?"

For the first time, Dot noticed that Mouse held the crumpled note in her hand. "That," she said thickly.

Mouse followed Dotís gaze to her hand. "This? I found it on the floor. I was gonna throw it away -- is it important?"

"Read it." Dotís voice was numb, but a few tears were beginning to escape down her cheeks. Mouse looked at her with concern, but did as her friend asked: carefully smoothing out the paper, she started to read.

As she read, her expression became more and more horrified; finally she turned to Dot, and with her voice barely above a whisper, asked "Where was this?"

"On my pillow!" the other woman hissed, choking back sobs. A quiver crept into her voice. "Why is he doing this to me?"

"Oh, honey..." Mouse pulled her into a hug. "Itíll be all right... weíll get him, I promise you..." After a few moments Dot broke away and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.

"Thanks, Mouse."

"Anytime."

They sat in silence on the floor of the bathroom for a few nanoseconds. Suddenly Mouse leaned forward, snatched up the note again, and looked over it. "Did you see this part here... about infection?" Dot nodded dejectedly. Mouse went on, "Was it just you, or all of us?"

Shrugging, Dot said, "I donít know. All I do know is that Bob--" her voice broke when she said his name, but she quickly recovered-- "can never know about this. Matrix either. Nobody."

"Uh... not that I donít agree with you, honey, but they should know about the infection part."

"Weíll find some other way to bring it up... not with this. I couldnít bear it. Mouse, to anyone other than the two of us, this thing never existed."

Mouse nodded slowly. "Good thinking." She dug into her pocket and produced a lighter. "Care to do the honors?"

Dot took the lighter and used it to ignite one corner of the letter. As the flame spread and licked over the virusís salacious words, she whispered, "Burn in hell, you tin-plated bastard." She got shakily to her feet and dropped the burning letter in the sink; when the paper was consumed and the fire was out, she turned on the tap and washed the ashes down the drain.

Mouse stood behind her and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Címon, honey: letís go get some fresh air."

Dot took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and nodded. More than anything else, she needed to get away.

The End

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