Note: So, someone loosely enquired about other junk I might have on my hard drive, cluttering the thing up; I went off, had a looksie, and what I found was this horror. So I questioned whether I should bother with it, then shrugged and figured what the hell, might as well! It's pretty slow, I have no idea where it's going, and for the most part it's quite silly...but it was always meant to be. Rating's mainly for continuous potty-mouth-syndrome, though later on it'll probably earn its M based on other more lascivious things. Don't know yet, I've not got that far. I will mention that I struggled with the genre categorisation for this one; drama and romance were sort of a given, and despite being a parody-type fic I don't think it's exactly humorous, but there is a strong element of sci-fi/bendy-mind insanity going on here. You have been warned (remember this when you're confused out your mind, wishing you'd never started it in the first place...though it won't get that weird until later, I don't think). Despite the thick-of-it beginning, this isn't fast paced at all, so...uh, I don't know, sorry about that? And the pairing's pretty loose, all things considered.

Disclaimer: I in no way own any recognisable situations, people, places, and nor do I ever intend to...yada yada yada... I make no money from this and...yada yada yahoo... Um... All weird-shit is my own and comes to you with apologies galore. Any views expressed by, behaviour exhibited by, and possible atrocities that may be committed by the characters are entirely their own; they do not represent the views and opinions of the author in any way, shape or form, nor do the characters' actions necessarily represent what the author considers within the realms of acceptable behaviour. You know, just to cover my ass, and so we're being clear here. Oh, and English is not the author's first language - if you heard my first language, your tongue would tie itself in knots and your ears may or may not start to bleed...

Title: What Can You Do, Milly Sue? [a parody that takes itself way too seriously]

Author: Greyline

Beta: None

Written on: 2016-12-20

Post date: 2017-02-24

Universe: [2016] #19A | #19B [2006]

Summary: Sometimes dreams and reality conflict and collide until they become indecipherable from one another. On the b-side, a thousand differences in history have forged an almost unrecognizable world. At least three times a week, Mildred wishes she could return to her own world — to a place where there are no vampires, no witches or werewolves, and where there are fifty states. Unfortunately, it seems that the powers that govern the universe have very different plans for her life — she's replaced the lead-heroine in a trashy TV show and, as it turns out, only a true Sue can save the world.

Chapter: Adventure dreams tend to be fun, sex dreams are always a pleasant surprise... Self-snuff dreams? They're decidedly horrid...and apparently impossible to wake up from.

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WHAT CAN YOU DO, MILLY SUE?

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/ / may / /
wherein the dream

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When Mildred Hiscock finds herself, having undertaken no intermediary travel, in a strange place of diluted color, shafting sunlight and filing cabinets, she doesn't panic. It's only a dream. She's certainly had more peculiar dreams over the years (in one particularly memorable one she was force-impregnated with spider eggs, which had been a real hoot), though this one is noteworthy simply on the basis of being completely unnoteworthy. Her mind usually favors the fantastic and the mildly disturbing – this place is tame by comparison.

She's unnaturally small against the backdrop of a teeny-tiny study filed with oversized office furniture. There's a makeshift bouquet of several particularly star-like dandelions clutched between her small fingers, Sound is both muffled and resonates – like when you put your head under the water in the tub – and the image of a cherry pink bouncy-ball tumbling down a staircase seems to flicker; it's sort of like the shifting static you get when an old VHS tape is pause-played over and over again, The dulled-out color of everything makes her feel like she's in some sort of movie flashback scene; the ball's erratic, rolling-and-jolting movements look like ghosts disappearing and reappearing on an episode of Supernatural.

Mildred can only assume everything looks so massive because she's a child in this dream (well, that or she's in a giant's castle, a la Jack and the Beanstalk), but can't place whether this is some sort of distorted memory from her youth or not. Considering her parents are a borderline sociopathic, struck-out writer of a mother and a beekeeping, trekki of a father, neither of whom have ever required an office like this one, the possibility of this being a memory seems slim.

It doesn't matter anyway.

Before Mildred has really had a chance to investigate her surroundings, the dream shifts dramatically. In that way dreams have, the change doesn't feel disjointed or unnatural; her mind makes up for the unreality of it by going with the flow, by pretending nothing unusual has occurred.

Yes, she feels the scene behind her change – there's no sense of awkwardness though. She feels it by virtue of a cool breeze where there had been none before; she turns to find trees and grass and darkness have sprouted where had previously been stairs. When she turns again – to what had been office scant seconds ago – she finds a road running off into the night.

The cellphone does the opposite of disintegrate – rather, it disintegrates in reverse: From nothingness crumbles of plastic and silver and minuscule components she doesn't know the purpose of crawl up her hand to where it's pressed to her ear, flakes of paint and shards of glass come together into one logical whole. In a matter of moments, she's holding the phone as if it's always been there. She's garbling into it – whatever she's saying doesn't approach anything that can be considered proper syntax, or even proper English – and receiving a pitchy, white-noise equivalent of a female voice from the other end of the line.

Her 'conversation' continues without her – her mouth chatters away while her mind seeks out the elements of her dream. There's some kind of shivoo going on nearby: The smell of a big fire, the sound of teenagers laughing, indiscrete pop-music played loud enough to destroy the ears of anyone stupid enough to stand within a ten-foot radius of the speakers. The night is clear enough to see stars – her head cranes back, immediately seeking out the familiar seven-pattern of the Big Dipper and the larger body of Draco swooping around it. Everything smells like rain and wet leaves, but there's no wind meaning – even though she's only wearing a very thin cardigan – she's not cold in the slightest.

There's something heavy nearby.

No – that doesn't really make any sense. There's an odd sense of waiting on the air, like gravity isn't quite down – her feet are leading her on an idle stroll down the deserted road as if drawn by some great weight. The road's flat but if she were to turn and go back she suspects it would be like climbing a mountain… Yes, that's it – the direction she's traveling feels an awful lot like going downhill.

All she knows for sure is that there's a niggling foreshadowing jiggling around in the back of her mind, some anticipation shuffling below everything else. Her dreams are often this way. Deep down she always knows what's going to happen before it does.

Then it happens.

"Catherine," a male voice breathes like grace. Like awe and amazement, like it's every hope he's ever had.

Now she's cold.

She looks over at the man who's materialized out the night: He appears to be a bit drunk – and Mildred finds herself wondering if it's one of those dreams… One of the ones where she's chased by an unknown assailant, or one of the ones where she gets it on with a random, good-looking – because he is, exceptionally so – stranger, but always wakes up before the good part. (The former of those two tropes usually turns out to be quite fun. She can always let herself fall backward on the air, fly away from whoever – or whatever – is following her. The latter of them usually results in her waking up horny, depressed about the state of her – non-existent – love life, wondering why it hadn't seemed odd she had multiple vaginae in the dream (and how the sensory input hadn't short-circuited her brain.))

"Catherine?" the man repeats into her silence, sounding more grounded and less certain than before.

"Um, no – I'm Mildred," she informs him.

He gives her a funny, half-squinting look, as if checking to make sure she isn't mistaken about her own identity. Which she isn't – even in her dreams she knows her own name… It would be kind of weird if she didn't.

"Oh, you… you just look-" He breaks off, shaking his head as if to get some thought out of it. "I'm sorry, you just really remind me of somebody," he tells her, his voice coming out a little less strangled now and all the more alluring for it. "I'm Damon."

As she takes his offered hand, Mildred realized with a jolt what this dream is.

She and her friend Lucy had a sleepover a few days ago, celebrating Lucy's ditching in the latest in a long string of useless boyfriends, and they'd sort of binge-watched the first three seasons of the Vampire Diaries. Okay...so it had been more of a sleepover weekend, but the concept was the same: TV shows of questionable (at least to her) watchability, several pints of Ben & Jerry's, a fuck-ton of nachos, a lot of moaning about the general state of the available male population, and…

Damon's just staring at her.

Right – yeah. She's supposed to go along with the dream, not get lost in musings on real-world friend/bad boyfriend catastrophes. Oh well, she's within her rights to space out, though – not like she can actually embarrass herself in a dream (and, to be fair, she's a bit beyond that even in the waking world – her profession calls for a certain level of stoicism). In Cloudland time and space and everyone else are...well, they're nothing more than a figment of her imagination. It's pretty much impossible to be rude to bits of your own subconscious.

His starring is making her marginally uncomfortable nonetheless. Whatever part of her subconscious he came from is apparently slightly disturbing and intense – if with an eye for the pinch-me gorgeous gent. Shame she's never run into him back here before. She supposes the sleepover must have dislodged him.

Oh well, it's going down now, so better late than never. Problem is, she's never read the script for this and can't quite recall what to say… How's it supposed to go again?

"I- Well, not to be rude or anything, Damon," she tries, finding that the words taste right, "but it's kind of creepy you're out here in the middle of nowhere… With no car… If you broke down, I'm pretty sure the nearest Gas-n-Sip's ten miles that-a-way," she snarks, gesturing indicatively down the dark road with her dandelion-free hand.

Where had the phone gone?

"You're one to talk," he responds after a moment's pause. His tone is amused, but drops to contemplative when he goes on to note, "You're out here all by yourself."

"No, I'm with you," Mildred half-blurts (mainly because she's not sure of her line, and it works as well as anything), then feels rather silly about it.

His eyebrows lift, transforming his expression into one of befuzzled incredulity, as if he can't believe he really heard what he thought he just heard. To be fair, it's not like she's wrong, even if she is being a bit literal.

"I'm sorry?" he asks quite mildly.

Feeling a wayward blush threatening to rise, she repeats more slowly, "I'm not alone – you're here."

This pronouncement has him swallowing, and her eyes can't help but follow the motion of his adam's apple rising and falling. She's sure his eyes are several shades darker than they were just a second ago, and...damn he looks good. Of course, he also sort of looks like he's considering eating her; given what he is, that makes a whole lot of sense – but somehow the tension she's created between them doesn't feel threatening.

Again she wonders what kind of dream this is. Is it the kind where she's going to be chased by a bloodthirsty vampire boasting few-to-no morals, or the kind where she decides to throw caution to the wind and get down and dirty with one? Or possibly this dream could be both these things...that might be entertaining.

Whatever it is, the moment passes.

Voice carefully restrained, Damon pointedly asks, "What's with the dandelions? Though making your own tea was just for grandmas and weird hippie herbalists with crystals and shit."

She glances down at the ignored dandelion bouquet, asking herself why her dreams are always full of the things. These ones are particularly magnificent – they're not ten feet tall like the forest of them she'd dreamed up a few weeks ago, but they're special for the way they seem to hang on the cusp, somewhere between yellow flower and terminal seed-clock.

Does it even matter why? He's probably considering making her his desert, and she's entranced by some weeds… Wait – are dream-vampires as ravenous as the real thing? (Not that there is such a thing as vampires in the waking-world, but...how accurate to myth is this shade of one her mind has conjured for her to play with?)

Pushing aside the thought, Mildred decides to tell him, "I like them – they're...floofy, and bright. Besides, this is Mystic Falls, isn't it? Nothing bad ever happens here. Well – almost never… Except that one time…"

She trails off, only faintly concluding with, "No harm in being out alone," while thinking, No harm ever came from reading a book. You remember how that one went?

With hindsight, the main characters' line are kind of hilarious in this scene. Nothing bad ever happens in Mystic Falls her ass! There was all that murder-most-foul shit that went down in the 1800s. Plus, she's pretty sure the place was a bloodbath in episodes toward the end of the series (though admittedly she hadn't been paying that much attention by then, so she's not precisely sure how it all happened).

"That one time?"

Mildred just shakes her head in response to his query – it's not really important. She's in no mood to explain the plot of the Vampire Diaries to another part of her own subconscious (because one – it really ought to know already, and two – it's way too much like talking to herself). Instead, she glosses over her previous musings on the safety – or lack thereof – of the fictional town.

"Don't worry about it, just thinking out loud – it was a long time ago," And entirely irrelevant to her dreams plot (whatever that is). "So, what are you doing out here, Mr. Tall Dark and Sinister?" she asks, hoping to get to the point where this slow-moving scene either transforms into a chase, a seduction, or – drumroll please – both.

"Would you believe me if I said 'aimlessly lying in the middle of the road?"

"Sure – I'd half believe you."

Head tilted, he curiously asks, "Which half?" His eyes even crinkle, which is cute.

"Just the left half," she responds flippantly, before answering more properly. "The laying in the road bit. Aimlessly though? I doubt it."

Fumbling in her pockets for the vanishing-cell, she comes up victorious. She doesn't do her patented victory-dance...well, at least not on the outside. According to the – embarrassingly ancient, actually – device, time's passing relatively predictably here. It's strange – sometimes there are proper clocks in her dreamscapes and the hands almost always spin nonsensically...and not necessarily only in a forward direction.

"Look, can we get a move on?" she prompts, feeling all kinds of impatient. Dreams are short and always end before the good bit. "I'm kind of on a schedule."

One of his eyebrows shoots up. "Get a move on? Did you make plans without telling me again, snookums?"

Mildred huffs agitatedly at his sarcasm, muttering to herself, "Okay, I'm totally going to pretend you didn't just call me snookums."

On TV Damon had been an easy lay, a bit of a man-slut. This Damon's...needlessly playing hard-to-get like he's worried she was here to corrupt his virtue. Yeah – as if he has any of that left. And okay, maybe he wasn't playing coy – maybe it's because he just met his evil-ex's doppelganger on a road in the middle of nowhere (middle of nowhere, but hauntingly close to the last place he must've seen actual Catherine) and it's throwing him off base. Also, even the loosest of bar-wet lips probably doesn't usually decide to hump him as soon as look at him… Or, maybe they do, but this is just...not a situation he's prepared for in any way.

So she's got to take the reigns on this one. It's out of her usual comfort zone but rejection seems unlikely – not like there's much chance he's going to turn down Catherine two-point-oh.

She proves her own hypotheses by stepping forward to close the – surprisingly proprietary – space between them. This is the last episode she and Lucy had watched, and she recalls pretty well that in this scene Elena's parents come to pick her up. Their car's due to arrive soon. If Mildred's in the character's place, then they'll be showing up any second to ruin her fun (her dreams tend to be rubbishly accurate like that).

She wonders vaguely exactly how long she's got, and if it's advisable to do this at all… Her mind only shrugs – no harm in worrying about things she can't be bothered to change.

Her dream-vampire seems shocked when she presses her lips to his.

He lets out a strange sound of surprise, somewhere between a gasp and a relieved sigh, before showing enough initiative to kiss her back. A strange electricity, a familiarity shudders down her spine – as if this is something they've done before. She brushes the feeling off in favor of cataloging other things: He smells like the air after a thunderstorm, some extravagant aftershave she probably couldn't afford on her paycheck, and he tastes like oranges and spice and copper… He must've eaten a carol singer recently.

Yeah, 'lying aimlessly in the road' her ass!

It's miles better than most dream kisses tend to be – more real, more present. Damon's lips aren't that soft; they're dry and rough from being outside too long, and feel as if he'd been lying face down on the road rather than staring up at the sky as she imagined. His arms wind around her middle, nearly lifting her off the ground but for the tips of her toes, and Mildred lets out a delighted squeak, wrapping her dandelion-encumbered hands around the back of his neck to stay steady.

Warmth floods her entire body, a tide coming in from nowhere to pour down her spine, coil in her belly and cause what is probably a very noticeable (to a vampire nose, anyway) wetness in her panties. When one of his hands brazenly slides beneath the clingy fabric of her top, his thumb tracing along her bottom-most ribs before continuing to palm her right breast over her bra, she's damn glad she decided to make this dream go the way she wants.

It's hard to say how long passes in this way. Time's all but inconsequential when you're dreaming, and it hasn't much bearing when you're getting lucky, either; when both occur it becomes a concept without reason.

What she knows is that her nipples are painfully hard, pebbling in the cool night air; there's a breeze across her chest, thus she must be exposed. She knows her core is riding high on his thigh, and she can feel his interest in proceedings rubbing against her hip. She knows her hair has slipped its band because half of it's wound about one of his hands and he keeps tugging…

God – fuck –

she doesn't ever want this to end.

Some of the initial fire has ebbed – just enough to give her the faculty to decide to have him take her into the woods for a good seeing to – when a glaring light cuts into the very steamy picture they must make. There's a disgruntled rumble rising in his chest, and Damon goes to pull away from her. She catches him by his jacket and yanks him back, not ready for such a pleasant experience to be over yet. This might be a dream, but he's one hell of a kisser.

It's the repeated honking of a car horn that forces them to part. Mildred retreats in defeat, leaning her forehead against his with a wistful sigh. Her free hand tugs her bra and top back up to cover her breasts.

Wearing the proper clothing again, coupled with a heavy sigh, her whole body snaps around to face the disturbance the moment her feet are back on the ground. She glares at the vehicle with the gall to interrupt them… No mind that they're the ones out of place, because this is a road and cars have right of way. It's a dream place – she rules the roads as far as she's concerned.

Then she remembers that Elena's parents are the ones in the vehicle, are the dream-parents so rudely preventing her from getting her freak on with this super-hot vampire. She must look pretty much parental-advisory at this point – certainly too thoroughly debauched to be fit for public consumption.

Now she knows what sort of dream this is. It's like the horrible ones she'd sometimes have as a kid, where she forgot to take her gym-kit to school so the coach would force her to run track nude… An embarrassment dream. She was making out with a vampire in the middle of the road in front of make-believe authority figures. If this were reality it would suck majorly.

Mildred coughs distractedly – because this is awkward...and because her throat is dry as the Sahara – feeling Damon still hard at her back. "Uh, I'm so sorry," she mumbles, craning her neck back to look at him.

"For what? Not exactly your fault you jumped me – I just really am that hot," he states smugly, suggestively, his eyebrows all over the place in that expressive manner she'd always appreciated about his screen-character.

"No – it's my parents," she elaborates, gesturing to the car. "They're here to pick me up..."

"Hmmm...that's regrettable," he murmurs directly into her ear, apparently not too decent to come onto a girl with her parents staring right at him. "I guess we'll just have to continue this-" he pulls her hips back against his, bringing her bottom more firmly into contact with his waning hardness, causing her pussy to clench despite the audience "-later."

He's totally shameless.

Heart stuttering, Mildred breathes, "Yeah, later..."

Hit with a sudden flash of how this episode goes on and feeling shaky – her brain not at full function with him all around her – she ramblingly adds, "Actually, uh, rain check… I've got an appointment to drown in a half-hour, then there'll be funerals and stuff..." He's chewing on the outer-edge of her ear now, and she groans wantonly. "I- I'll pencil you in for June twenty-two, yeah? My birthday."

She can hear his smirk as he purrs, "And what a gift I'll be… You have yourself a deal, snookums."

Mildred can only be thankful he chose not to comment on her drowning-appointment. He must think it's a joke.

Apparently having had enough of her gratuitous stalling, Elena Gilbert's father (what's his name? Graham, Gayson or something?) gets out the car looking very, very mad. He slams the door behind him. To be honest, she's a bit surprised it took him so long to act – then again, she has some measure of control over the actions of the denizens of her dreams, and she hadn't wanted interruptions at all… She got half her way, at least.

She knows she needs to get into the vehicle. Whatever influence she has over the plots of her dreams, sometimes certain things are entirely outside of her ability to change. The mood's definitely been lost. Pulling it back – vanishing the parents and the car so she can return to necking with hottie-vampire – would be almost impossible at this point. Things have just shifted too much.

Elena's father's in shouting distance now. She knows this because his sharp voice is yelling, "I don't know who the hell you are, but get your hands off my daughter!"

He marches right up to she and Damon, looking the vampire right in the eyes. Brave man – or just a stupid one…

Reluctantly stepping out of Damon's grasp, Mildred turns to take a last look at him just in time to see him raise his hands, palms out in the universal sign for 'I surrender' (or possibly 'I didn't do anything wrong').

"I was just leaving," he announced in a deep, could-be-considered creepy rasp, his eyes alight with cold flame and danger. "Got other things to be doing anyway – grab a snack, sort my car, move back into the family digs… It's a busy night," he notes thoughtfully, clearly mocking Elena's father.

"You, he tacks on, pinning Mildred with a lascivious look which has to be banned in at least the lower forty-eight, "I will see soon. June twenty-second – I won't forget."

Then the delicious vampire's leaving, making her whole dream a lot duller – it even starts to rain. He whistles as he goes – a clear, haunting sort of tune that sounds somewhat familiar, as if it's something she heard in a dream once… Wait, this is a dream… So it's a melody that she perhaps heard in a different dream, a long time ago. Perhaps if she can recall it past waking, and associates it with this particular dream, she'll be able to have it again another night. The thought brings a small, secret smile to dance across her lips.

Pleased with the thought of doing this whole dream again at some point – but doing it better...you know, by not getting caught by her 'parents' – Mildred gets into the car. She stumbles a few times, not completely coordinated even in a make-believe place where she ought to be, by all rights, a god. The vehicle has a leather interior which, to be frank, has probably seen better days; the brown seats are soft and worn, like a jacket that's been through the laundry one too many times, and smell faintly of mothballs. The age and disrepair of the vehicle is odd, considering the Gilberts' are supposed to be one of Mystic Falls' premier families and very well off.

There's a child safety seat in the back, and a little girl is snoozing in it. Mildred doesn't recognize the child, can't recall who she is on the show, so the girl must be some creation of her own. She looks to be about three years old and has a wild mop of reddish-blond curls atop her head. She's wearing a little mauve princess dress, clutching a star-topped toy wand like it's a teddy bear.

As soon as Mildred's buckled her seat belt, the car trundling off down the road jerkily, the two adults in the front set in on her. She tosses the bouquet of dandelions onto the seat between her and the sleeping girl.

"Just what do you think you're doing!" the woman exclaims furiously (she might be called Miranda). She has auburn hair and, it seems, the generally stereotypical temper to match. "Just a couple of days ago you were debating how you could let poor Matt – who's completely smitten with you, need I remind you – down gently, and now you're letting some lech you...what, met at a party, paw all over you? And we'll be talking about that later – let me tell you! ...Where's the good girl I raised to be honest, considerate of other's feelings? Poor Matt… Who was that man? He was far too old for you!"

This time when Mildred huffs it is louder than ever. She feels almost like the teenager whose place she's filling (rather than a twenty-seven-year-old woman who, shamefully, still has to rely on her own parents half the time). It's almost as bad as when she'd been seventeen and her dad caught her making out with Roy Nation in the back of his brand new Corvette (which, she later found out, he was calling the Panty Dropper, and he was a nasty, two-timing bastard all round).

Elena's mother certainly knows how to scold.

This seriously sucks. It's gone from a make-out dream to a getting-a-tongue-lashing dream in a matter of moments. Apparently even in her own head, Mildred can't suspend disbelief for long enough to actually have a bit of fun. Guess that's what happens when you're the type whose dreams have proper – and mostly realistic, but for a few Sci-Fi Junkie Weekly elements of out-of-this-worldness every now and then – plots.

Fiddling with her phone in annoyance, Mildred idly punches a message out and sends it to the first person in the phone-book. It reads simply: Fuck my life, with no further elaboration.

"Well, what do you have to say for yourself, young lady?" Miranda prompts when Mildred just sits there in grumpy silence, watching the steady breathing of the child beside her rather than giving an explanation of her risqué behavior.

The cell vibrates in her lap.

From Bonnie: Whats wrong

The Gilbert parents know about vampires, right? In the show, they had all those weapons hidden away up at their lake house. Useful plot element right now...a scapegoat.

"I- I don't know what came over me," Mildred whines pathetically, trying to put on a good show of woe-is-me teenage hormone-cocktail, with a healthy dollop of innocent confusion on top. "I was on the phone… Then you were honking at me and that guy! I don't know what happened..."

There, that ought to do it.

To Bonnie: Ps caught me mcking on
superhot guy I met.
So embrssed

Elena's parents share what Mildred can only assume is a significant, vampire-in-town look. She notices the father's hands grip the steering wheel so tight his knuckles have turned white.

In a strained voice, the man demands, "Did he force you, Gloria?"

Frowning as if she doesn't entirely understand what he's getting at, Mildred insists, "No, no – of course not!" There's no way, she thinks as she gets into character a bit more, she's going to make herself out to be some damsel-in-distress who lets a guy do something to her she doesn't want.

With a wide-open expression, she confesses somewhat contritely, "I just really wanted to kiss him all of a sudden, like I… I don't know, like I had to. Like I said, I don't know what came over me." She knows what she would have liked to come over her, though. Laying it on thick, she passionately swears, "It won't happen again," in that over-dramatic way teenagers often have. "So please don't tell Matt, it would break his heart!"

Those acting classes her ma always said were a waste of time and money (even after Mildred managed to secure a paying job in the industry) were totally worth it. Though this is a dream...so the apparent believability of her performance doesn't really mean much. She's faking-out people her own subconscious conjured – not really something to put on her resume.

"We won't, honey, but you're going to have to," Elena's mother sniffs, then settles back into silence.

That's totally unfair. Everything Mildred said should leave Elena's parents believing their daughter was compelled by a vampire (a majorly gorgeous vampire they caught her sucking face with on a deserted highway, which is surely way out-of-character for her), but they still think she should take the fall for it.

Urgh, the show's drama would've been way more difficult for characters to deal with if Elena's parents hadn't died before the first episode. Mildred guesses that explains why all the authority figures of the main-group were systematically killed off in the first three seasons: Parent's don't make for good teenage-angst/witch-vampire mayhem, they just get in the way. Without the Gilbert parents, the aunt and uncle, the Mayor and his wife, and Bonnie's grandmother in the picture, it must've been a lot easier to write plots where a bunch of adolescents do outrageous things yet somehow manage to avoid real-world punishments. It's almost surprising the Sheriff and Alaric survived as long as they did… Though admittedly the latter wasn't much of a parental role-model.

From Bonnie: OMG! U so have to brk w/ matt
From Bonnie: How hot?
From Bonnie: FWIW nt judging u

To Bonnie: Gd
To Bonnie: And vry hot!

From Bonnie: More dets

To Bonnie: Amazing kisser, irrstibly hot.
Srsly, 2nd base w/in 5mins of meeting kinda
hot,
n wud go further deffo

From Bonnie: HOTY lucky b! More dets
2moro tho. Tell matt, this nt fair to him.

Sighing over the complete pointlessness of her juvenile, imaginary conversation, she responds tiredly. She's ready to get out of here.

To Bonnie: Sure, ur rite. Will do 2moro. TTYL

It's about time to wake up, Mildred muses, bored by the frigid atmosphere of the car and the drive to 's not as if she knows these roads, and it's hard to see now it's gotten blustery outside, slamming rain against the windows – they could literally be anywhere. If Elena's parents didn't do something interesting soon (like turn into Donna and the Doctor, admit the car's a well-disguised TARDIS and take her on a magical mystery tour of the universe) then she might just die of boredom.

Trying to wake herself doesn't work, however.

Frowning down at her own hand in confusion, she quickly locates the little red-marker A she habitually draws onto the skin between her thumb and forefinger each morning. It's almost a talisman, a way to differentiate between dreams and reality.

The old A method is twofold. First, the mark's something she notices regularly in her day to day life, and every time she spots it she stops for a moment to decide whether she's awake or asleep. After a few years doing this, it's become second-nature to her. The mark doesn't always show up in dreams, though, which is usually an instant give away she's sleeping and can do whatever the hell she likes. In dream-world she's as close to a deity as it's possible for a human to be.

While the first part of the A method involves identifying whether she's asleep or away, the second part's about taking control of the dream once she's successfully identified she's in one. Depending on the type of dream she's having, taking control can range from floating away on the air to get away from something nasty her psyche's chucked at her (though sometimes it takes a few tries, and more than once has failed entirely), to force-waking herself if things really aren't going the way she wants them to.

Mildred's never been frightened by the more common sorts of nightmare. Mostly she enjoys the thrill of them, waking with a smile and her heart racing, stretching out adrenaline-taught limbs like a feline. The few times she'd been genuinely freaked out by a dream they were about things most people would consider quite inconspicuous (like the one where her cat was lost and alone in the cold, and she'd been unable to do anything about it).

Most the time she chooses to go with the flow in her dreams. She didn't go into learning how to control them because she was plagued with horrific night-terrors or something, but simply for the fun of it, for the sheer thrill. It's nice to have a place entirely your own, one which will fold and shift to meet your desires. It's a hell of a lot better than the real-life she leads, anyway, in which her working week currently involves performing in a b-rate production of Oklahoma in Boston; the rest of her time is usually divided between halfheartedly trying to convince her parents her acting career isn't doomed, and coaching her friend Lucy through her never ending bad-boy phase.

This though...this is beyond weird.

Mildred jams her nails into the A, trying to wake herself up with a shock of pain.

Nothing happens.

When the car careens off the edge of the bridge, she's genuinely surprised. The confusion of being unable to rouse herself from sleep is such a disconcerting one that she's forgotten where she is, and what's suppose to happen in this episode of the Vampire Diaries she's hijacked.

Her heart stutters in horror. She doesn't like drowning in dreams – she's never figured out how to trick her body into believing she can breathe underwater. Apparently such a thing's way more outlandish than flying.

Nothing goes in slow motion.

Mildred hears the shrieks of the child in the safety seat long before she experiences the jarring impact of the car hitting the river. In the front, Miranda's head slams into the dash hard, and Elena's father lets out an involuntary yelp of surprise and terror. The vehicle goes in head first – beginning to fill up with water immediately – but levels as it sinks.

Momentarily dazed from the impact-

The sound of a little girl screeching-

Face red, streaked with huge tears still clutching that toy wand like it's the whole world…

Snapping out of it, Mildred realizes she needs to get further across the car if she wants to save the child before water completely engulfs her small body. She tries to get her own belt off. It's drawn tight back into the chair, though, an iron hand pinning her in place.

In the front seat, Elena's father's still conscious. "We're going to be okay," he promises stably, trying to reassure her. "It's going to be okay. You've got to get Maggie out her seat, alright?"

Mildred nods her assent shakily, squeezing her eyes shut in an attempt to think clearly. Water's up to the little girl's neck now, not leaving much time to deliberate, and she's still screeching. Comically, the sunshine-bright dandelions bob around them, having gotten loose from whatever binding previously held them together.

"Listen! Listen to me," Mildred begs, reaching over to take one of the girl's hands and placing the other on her cheek. "You need to take a big breath now. Yeah, can you do that for me? Big breath?"

The child nods. Just as the water reaches her mouth, she sucks in a massive, gulping breath.

One hand twisted awkwardly, unable to shift her own body, Mildred manages to fumble to buckle of the safety seat undone. She tugs the child out of it, lifting the girl up and out the water. The little girl gasps as she breaks the surface, clutching Mildred tightly.

Is this still a dream? It feels so real.

Why can't she wake up?

Mildred's still trapped by her belt, and all the windows are firmly shut. There's now way the child can get out the car; perhaps freeing her from the safety seat has only prolonged her death.

This isn't the first time Mildred's drowned in a dream – just the least pleasant occasion she has done so. Both she and the blond girl are back under the water now; they cling to one another, the only thing you can do when faced with certain death. Usually, when she kicks it in a dream it's quick and she's awake again, staring up at the ceiling of her bedroom before she's even had time to process what happened.

This time is vastly different.

Why can't she wake from this nightmare? It makes no sense.

Blurry underwater vision grows even more distorted, a lack of oxygen causing the scene to vignette. The urge to breath's almost overwhelming – she's definitely not grown gills yet. The child in her arms feels far too limp, though the slight shudder in her tiny limbs shows she's still alive. Mildred's head pounds with the panicky, racehorse beat of her pulse, hurting way more than any imaginary pain has the right to.

Once she was shot in a dream. She'd spent an indiscernible amount of time bleeding out before finally dying and waking up in reality, but that hadn't felt anything like this. Her chest burns as if hot coals have been stuffed in her lungs, and the little girl's going to die right here with her.

It's not real. It's notreal.

so

why can't I wake up?

There comes a pressure change in the vehicle, only perceptible to her senses because her entire world has narrowed down to the flow of water and clothing and the little girl's hair across her skin, and her insides are nothing more than fire and an internal scream of wake up, wake upwakeup!

There's a tugging at her navel.

Her grip on the child tightens reflexively. A little ball of something wonderful begins to swell in her chest… A part of her's rejoicing. Has she managed to create some kind of dream-portkey to whisk them to safety? If yes, she needs to do crossovers more often; clearly limiting her subconscious to one universe at a time can potentially result in an unpleasant, watery demise.

Portkey or no portkey, she still wants to wake up now, because this rea-

She blacks out before breaking the surface.