Lucy waved goodbye as she left the bus, ignoring Melissa's hostile expression through the dirty bus window. The moment she got home and locked the door she slid down to the floor, taking calming breaths. How on earth she managed all that without a panic attack was an utter miracle. Dr Franklin would tell her it was a mark of how much progress they had made. No, how much progress she had made. It didn't feel like a lot though; not when her body still reacted with a fight or flight instinct. She hung up her coat and walked into the dining room where she dumped her bag. She made a beeline for the kitchen and glanced through the cupboard. She didn't feel interested in anything big and opted for a pasta bake.
She threw some pasta in a pot to boil and started cutting. The onions, garlic and bacon didn't take long to fry. She added the pasta sauce to the mix just as the pasta finished cooking. She drained it and mixed it all together in the pot. Once it was in a casserole dish in the oven she let out a small sigh. She was crouched in front of the oven window, listening to the fan. This stuff she found relaxing, and it was a nice reprieve from such a crazy day of confusing social interactions. Dr Franklin had established in their first session she was mildly Aspergers, and when he had explained it to her it made total sense. She set the timer and walked over to the phone. She hadn't bothered checking messages this morning, already knowing what it would say.
“Hey Honey,” her dad began, his tone speaking ana pology before he said the words. “Sorry but I won't be home for another few days, big things at the lab. I hope your session with Dr Franklin goes well. Text me if you need anything. Love you and bye.” Lucy put the phone back in the cradle and starred at it for a few moments. She wanted to text and say she needed her dad around more than once a day every two or three weeks, but that wouldn't make a difference. Her dad worked with big guys, doing big secret things. It paid a lot of money, but it had a lot of overtime. There was a period where she hadn't minded so much. It meant all the books in the world, but even she grew tired of running away to imaginary worlds. Speaking of tired, she wondered if she could manage a dream-free ten minute power nap. She had done it a few times, only reaching nightmareville at the very end before she had to get up.
The calming sound of morning bird calls and traffic reached her ears. Lucy took in the pine forest and the dim morning light filtering through the trees. She'd never seen a forest so dense and alive with sound. The wind rustled the leaves, giving them voices of their own. Small puddles reflected the greenery as Lucy walked. The mud was thick and wet, but not slippery. She brushed her hand over rough bark and let out a relieved breath. The compendium of the forest surrounded her, allowing her to feel tranquil for the first time in a long time while asleep. She shut her eyes and breathed in the dew and damp. When she opened them again, there was a childish spark and free grin on her face.
She turned quickly and began to climb the well spaced branches. Down here all she saw was splashes of pure light, but she wanted to see the forest and the sky from up high. A murmur in the back of her mind called to her and she frowned. A past memory trying to make its way to her. When she couldn't grasp it she gave up and kept climbing. She raced the top easily, the bark not hurting or scratching her. This really was a good dream, how had she managed that? Was it because she'd overcome some of her fears in real life? She stopped over-analysing when she emerged from the leaves. Her took a deep, astounded breath as she took in the never ending sea of trees. Above her was a clear sky of blue, she could only spot one idle little, white cloud. She leaned forward, resting her forearms on the flat top of the top. She shut her eyes to enjoy the feel of the soft breeze. The sound of a roar snapped them open.
Memories of her last dream started seeping back to her. She looked up, realising her error. There were no clouds this time. The only thing hiding her was the forest, and she'd just given herself away. She scrabbled down quickly, hissing when she caught her ankles halfway down. When she was back on the forest floor she heard another roar, closer. Was the boy going to appear to wake her up? A shadow passed over her and she looked up. She'd dreamt up a lot of scary crap, but this had to take the cherry. The creature was easily ten times her size, it's claws slicing trees in half as it tried to settle. It scales were a mix of black and grey. It's eyes were as red and malicious as she remembered. It's maw was short and stretched into what she thought was a grin, displaying sharp, terrifying teeth. Lucy had never been scared of dragons growing up, she'd found them cute and had a live long love for Draco from Dragonheart.
She raced over the floor and very quickly slipped. So much for thinking her surroundings were going to be nice to her. She fell backwards and cringed as damp mud clung to her shirt, bare arms and hair. She didn't get to mourn her appearance for long though, because the dragon was still getting closer. She could hear the sound of powerful wings beating through the air. It had looked straight at her, and probably had no issues tracking her movements. She slipped again but managed to control the momentum, slinging herself forward. She grinned momentarily, thinking she'd be fine – then she collided with a tree.
“Ow,” she muttered, wincing. Her could feel blood dripping down her cheek. She told herself not to panic about that. Head wounds always bled lots, also this was a dream. She reminded herself of that very strongly with gritted teeth. She rubbed the sides of her head and concentrated.
“Wake up,” she repeated quietly to herself. “It's just a dream, you have full control.” She kept saying the mantra to herself, squeezing her eyes shut. She felt warm air roll over her and froze. The wings had stopped, the birds had stopped, even the breeze had disappeared.
“You're right behind me, aren't you,” Lucy sighed, refusing to open her eyes. She felt the creatures breath get closer and wondered if being eaten would finally wake her up. Then a bright flash of light shown through her eyelids, following by crackles that sounded like lightning. She spun to see the dragon being thrown through trees, the bark snapping and ripping with loud, painful force.
“You never have control,” a voice muttered behind her. Lucy glanced over her shoulder, remembering the boy from last time. His tattoos had changed again, slowly moving as she studied him.
“What is that thing?” Lucy half yelled. He met her eyes briefly, the shimmering violet depths almost distracting her from the very real fear she was experiencing.
“Just another nightmare brought to life by humans,” he huffed. “Wake up,” he commanded, before Lucy could open her lips and form another question. She expected it to be like last time, where she could ignore him. Except the timer went off.