Author's Note - I think it's completely lame that in facing their nightmares in Eye of the Storm Shane's greatest fear is disappointing his family, Dustin's greatest fear is falling and Tori's greatest fear is…having her hair cut. She really got the short end of the stick!
This bit of fluff seeks to address that.
After a long day at the beach hanging with the guys, Tori was wiped out. Dustin had planned a movie night so they had all invaded his living room armed with popcorn, Milk Duds and soda. Even though Tori'd been looking forward to watching Blue Crush, which Dustin had picked out just for her, she just couldn't keep her eyes open. Even Blake's proximity couldn't keep her awake. Instead of trying to fight it, Tori gave in and curled up in a ball on the sofa.
Tori gasped. She sat up disoriented. What was that sound?
She couldn't place it, but the sound filled her with dread. "Tori?" That was her mom calling. Tori followed her mother's voice.
"Oh, there you are dear. Your turn." She pointed to the chair recently vacated by Tori's older sister. Tori hung back in the door frame.
"I don't want to," she said in a small voice.
Mom gave her a look. "We've been over this, Tori. Alexandra even went first so you wouldn't be scared." Mom slid the scissors closed with a meaningful snick.
"C'mon, Tori." coaxed Alexandra, "Mom did a great job cutting my hair. We'll look like twins. I'll hold your hands if you want."
Tori's lower lip trembled as she walked bravely into the kitchen. "That's my girl." praised Mom. "It'll be over in no time."
Tori tried not to watch as her mother swiftly cut her long, blonde hair. snip
But she couldn't help but see it cascade onto the floor in long tendrils. snip
Tori couldn't hold back the tears, but not one sound escaped her lips. "All done!" Mom announced brightly. "My two beautiful girls…what a sweet thing you've done for your cousin."
Tori fled to the bathroom to inspect her reflection. All she could think as she stared at her newly shorn hair was "I'm next…"
Tori woke up with her heart pounding in her throat. "Oh, sorry Tor! Did we wake you?" apologized Shane.
"I told you we were being too loud." stated Cam.
"But did you see her catch that wave? It was sick!" protested Hunter. Blake threw a pillow at him.
"No, it wasn't you guys," insisted Tori. She uncurled herself from the couch. "I just…it's fine…uh…bathroom." Tori launched over the scattered males in the room and headed for the bathroom off the kitchen. Dustin watched her flee, concerned. None of the rest wanted to discuss Tori's bathroom needs, so turned their attention back to the movie.
Tori stood in the bathroom staring at her reflection. She flinched when Dustin's reflection appeared behind her. He placed a hand gently on her head. "It's all there, Tor. You're fine." He gave her a knowing look. "Nightmare?"
She gave him a tremulous smile. "I'm such a baby."
Dustin gently spun Tori around and pulled her close for a hug. She slid her arms around him grateful for his presence. "You never told anyone else, did you? About what scared you so bad?"
Tori shook her head "no" burying it in Dustin's shoulder. Dustin was the only one she'd ever told. It wasn't the hair cut that bothered or frightened her. It was the reason behind it. Her cousin and best friend, Lynn, had developed a particularly aggressive form of leukemia. In preparation for chemotherapy and radiation treatments, her aunt had shorn Lynn's long blonde hair. It was supposed to make the transition less traumatic.
Tori's mother had convinced her daughters to have their hair cut similarly, in a show of solidarity for their cousin. But they didn't look like each other for long. Even before Lynn's hair began to fall out, she was sick and wasted. Though it was irrational, Tori believed in her heart that the reason her mother had cut her hair was because she was sick too. But no one wanted to tell her.
As Lynn wasted away, Tori waited for signs of her own illness to show. Month after agonizing month, Tori lived in fear of developing symptoms. Even after Lynn miraculously went into remission and eventually became a cancer survivor, Tori carried with her an irrational fear of having her hair cut. The encounter with Lothor's nightmare monster brought it all back.
Tori took in a deep, centering breath. Even after a day at the beach, Dustin smelled like freshly turned earth – it was a scent she always loved about him. She took a step back, relaxing but not releasing her grip. "Thanks, Dustin."
"Anytime, Tor." He gave her a gentle smile.
Tori looked at him inquisitively. "How are you doing? I mean since…"
Dustin chuckled. "Long as I keep my feet on the ground…" He shuddered slightly. "If we stay away from the Ninja Gliders for a while, I'll be fine."
"We won't let you fall." Tori stated sincerely and gave him a little squeeze.
"I know it, Tor." Dustin swung them both around and headed them into the kitchen. "Up for making some snacks?"
"As long as it doesn't involve opening anything with a scissor." Tori winked at Dustin, and he knew she'd be fine.