what are some of your scully growing up headcanons, because I was thinking about it today and the show never really addressed what she was like as a kid
She only knew what happened in 1965 because there were photographs in her baby album of family adventures that Bill and Melissa could remember. She was a squinty infant in her mother’s arms in photographs of the four of them next to monuments and landmarks. Sometimes her father was there too; usually he was on the other side of the camera, having already seen the sights to which he was treating them. She had been all over the world before she could even comprehend what the world was. She still struggled with that, some days, understanding the vastness of the small pale blue dot upon which they lived.
Her first memory that was actually hers was completely insignificant. She remembered waking up in a room striped with sunlight, the bars of her crib slicing it into even thinner beams. She remembered looking over at Charlie’s crib, the way his red hair caught the sunlight and turned it into fire. She had worried about him in an abstract way, and then her mother had come in with Melissa and they had begun their day together. Scully thought that they went to the zoo that day, but her memory was too piecemeal, too full of moments of this and that to stitch together a complete whole. Like her baby blanket, it was more holes than wholecloth.
It snowed on her birthday. All the base kids came over, shepherded by their mothers, stuffed into snowsuits. They ate her pink cake and brought her presents, and then they all went out to throw snowballs at each other as the mothers talked in the kitchen over coffee. Missy stayed on the porch watching, saying she didn’t agree with such violent games. Bill stuffed snow down the neck of Dana’s coat. Still, it was a good day, and her father called that night to talk just to her. “Happy birthday, Starbuck,” he said as she cradled the phone to her ear, smiling. “You’re getting so big.” “Not as big as you,” she said. “Not yet,” he said. “But I know you’ll outgrow me someday.” “Never,” she promised, and he chuckled.
She remembered second grade mostly because of the shoes. They were shiny black patent leather Mary Janes that pinched her feet. She wore them with white socks, a plaid pinafore, and a white shirt. Her mother had found a Catholic school just off the base. “It’ll do them good,” her father had said, ruffling Bill Jr.’s hair. She held Melissa’s hand, standing outside the stern brick building. “You’ll be fine, Dana,” Missy whispered. “Come on, I’ll take you to your class.” Missy was an expert at school, having already been to three or four. They had moved so many times that one base house blurred into the next in Dana’s memory. She remembered the way her shoes squeaked on the floor as they walked down the hall, and the way that her teacher had written all their names on cheerful cutout daisies. She thought she remembered that teacher leaving halfway through the year, on the grounds that she was too gentle and didn’t talk about Jesus enough, but it was so long ago she couldn’t be certain. All her teachers had been blurred faces framed by wimples, in the end.
She didn’t mind the dresses, or the way her mother encourage her and Missy to wear similar styles despite their different personalities. She didn’t mind Bill Jr.’s insistence that he was the man of the house. She didn’t mind Charlie’s tantrums; she understood he was still almost a baby, still frustrated by the world. But she minded that everyone talked to her like she didn’t know anything, except her father and her mother. She did her chores. She did her homework. She kept her side of the room clean, everything shipshape. Her whole life was shipshape and she liked it that way. Even when they moved from base to base, the houses looked the same. There was a comfort in that, to knowing how many steps to go down when she wanted a glass of milk in the middle of the night.
In fifth grade, she decided she wanted to be a doctor, but she told the teacher she wanted to be a nurse. The teacher smiled and praised her. “And to be sure, Dana, you’ll be an excellent nurse if you put your mind to it,” the teacher said, her Irish lilt tinting the words with a taste Dana vaguely remembered from her earliest years. The boys could say they wanted to be doctors, she understood, but she had to say she wanted to be a nurse. But she told Missy, and her mother, and they both told her she could be anything she wanted to be. She got a white coat for Halloween, and wore it proudly.
She punched a boy who tried to touch her chest on the playground. Her mother frowned at her in the office, but squeezed Dana’s hand as they walked out of the office. Her father patted her shoulder. “That’s my girl, Starbuck. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel helpless.” Bill told her she shouldn’t have done it. Missy said she didn’t approve of violence, but that she was glad that Dana understood boundaries and offered to help her rid herself of negative energy. Charlie asked if Dana would teach him how to hit. Three days later, she got her period for the first time. The cramps felt like a punishment.
She stole cigarettes out of her mother’s purse and sat on the porch. Her fingers trembled as she struck the match and lit it. When she inhaled, she would have sworn her throat and lungs caught fire. She held the smoke in, released it slowly through her barely-parted lips. She didn’t cough. She wouldn’t cough. If she coughed, her parents would hear. They still stayed up late when her father was home, talking until all hours, laughing quietly so the children wouldn’t hear, but she always heard. They would be furious if they caught her. She couldn’t cough. She smoked two cigarettes every night that week that her father was home, half-hoping to be caught, half-craving the attention, but all she got was a lingering hitch in her breath when she ran that vanished after a month or so and the malignant stench of processed tobacco at the back of her throat.
They moved. Again. She and her braces and her unflattering bob were never going to make new friends. Missy, meanwhile, fell straight in with a crowd of equally dreamy girls and boys, and Bill was away at college, on the football team. Dana hid in the library at lunch, poring over anatomy textbooks. Missy had to coax her out, introducing Dana to all her friends, who were sweet but so unfocused. Dana spent most of her time with Charlie, sitting on opposite corners of the couch, reading for school or for pleasure.
She fell in love with her physics teacher, or, more accurately, with physics. Accuracy was important to her. Her teacher was passionate. She was knowledgeable. She dressed in buttoned shirts and sleek skirts and ignored her male colleagues. She made sense of the universe with sweeping gestures and elegant equations. Dana desperately wanted for anything to make sense. She went outside at night and gazed at the stars, thinking of how they were guided by equations, even if those variables were unfathomable. She wondered if her father was looking at them too, letting the stars guide him home.
Marcus, the twelfth grade love of her life. God, she’d come so close to kissing him before the sirens. For a moment, she had thought her dreams would come true. After the prom, she saw him in the hall pressing some other girl against her locker. She changed her first choice college after that; anywhere but there, she thought, anywhere new. She wasn’t afraid of change. She was afraid of the fester of old hurts. Better to cut herself off clean and start over again.
Maryland was a coastal state; that felt like home to her. She studied human anatomy and physics. She could x-ray a man with her eyes and understand his intentions. She could being to explain the universe. Her father called once a week to talk to her, wherever in the world he was, for five minutes or fifty, and she traveled with him vicariously, sailing, sailing, over the ocean blue.