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The world is small, and George knows this, but he still expects it to be a little bit bigger than this.

The office is rather large, with huge windows overlooking the city in which the building is located, letting light stream in from every direction. He’s already got the job, which is convenient. A skype interview from another continent, and he’s still the ideal candidate for the job. What exactly is that job? Specifics are murky.

However, he knows he’s here.

The man conducting the tour is chatty, and it’s clear he’s just happy to get away from his work at this point. “Your desk is over there.” He gestures vaguely towards a cluster of desks by one of the windows. He feels overdressed in his tie and work trousers, because several of the people working here are only wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The collar feels tight on his throat. It’s only going to feel tighter.

George nods to indicate he’s listening.

It’s strange, really, being back in the states after been in the UK for years now, four years to be exact. Four years since he finished up school, packed his bags, and left everything in the corner of some old dorm room he’s tried his best not to think about for all of that time. He also left something else behind here, but that detail is just a little bit too complicated for casual discussion.

Either way, he’s been working shitty jobs for shitty companies for a while now, waiting for his degree to finally pay off so he can at least make a dent in the horrific accumulation of his student debt. He supposes that this is finally the opportunity to do that. He’s also, as he’s previously mentioned, back in the US again. He hasn’t even visited in the years he’s been gone, hasn’t really been able to afford the flight at any given time.

He’s unsure if he’s missed it.

It’s always strange being here, something on a surface level so similar to the UK, but also slightly off. It’s as if everything has been moved a couple of centimeters to the right and George hasn’t been able to realise it yet. But it’s okay, he’s managed to learn before and he’ll do it again. He’ll just take some time to adjust.

He’s led out of the office, where no one looks up to watch him go, just like no one looked up to watch him come in, and into a lunch area.

“There’s a cafe downstairs, and a coffee machine on the counter with everything else.” The guy giving him the tour, Karl as he had introduced himself, gestures vaguely once more. It’s alright, George can figure it out.

“Thanks.” He’s as bad at talking now as he usually is. The room they’re in has the same huge windows as the office, and the morning sun gleams in a way that’s somewhere between pleasant and unpleasant. George is just glad he got enough sleep the night prior, otherwise this would probably be a bit of a nightmare. He can’t imagine showing up here hungover.

“No problem,” Karl smiles, and it’s somewhat friendly and personable. It’s very clear that he’s trying to make George feel welcome here, everything within the building seems to be attempting to make George feel welcome. It’s almost peculiar, the way that there are bean bags in the corner of the room that no doubt nobody sits on, or the bright colours of the seating. It’s strange for what is otherwise a very corporate building, the kind that George is used to working in at this point.

“Since you’re new, I’ll introduce you to some of the guys during your lunch hour. You seem nice enough, and if you don’t get on you can just, like, find someone else I guess.” Karl offers, and George smiles politely in return, with an equally polite nod.

It’s a simple string of events, only consisting of politeness and mild discomfort at the new setting. George doesn’t really expect it to lead to him talking to his ex boyfriend for the first time in four years. But it does.

So, to elaborate a little bit, George does notice that Dream is here before he eventually sits down during their lunch hour and talks to him.

He notices pretty quickly when he settles in at his desk, that Dream is walking through the heavy doors, because he’s not used to people coming and going yet, and he notices Dream smile at a few people, say polite greetings to them, before sitting down at his own desk. He doesn’t scan the room fully, otherwise he would have probably noticed George sitting only a few metres away.

This, obviously, isn’t good for either of them in this scenario, and George is struck by a strong and powerful urge to jump out one of those big windows and get this over with quickly rather than having to draw out his pain. He knows horrifyingly well that Dream is eventually going to notice him, and then George is going to have to pretend that he hasn’t seen Dream. Maybe they won’t even talk.

It’s not as if George viewed seeing Dream again as an impossibility. He figured, really, that one day he’d unblock Dream on one of the many social media platforms that Dream is not allowed to contact George on, and ask him if he wants to meet for coffee or something now that George is back over in the states.

There was even a time, but that’s quite a while ago now, where George half expected to find Dream and pick up where they left off. Dream would knock on his door again, and instead of telling him to go away like he did so frequently in college, he would smile and welcome him in, ask if he wanted anything to drink. They’d ignore the rather chaotic and cruel way that things ended and take it from there.

But those hopes have long since dissipated, George has now grown into someone with fairly realistic desires. Reuniting with his college sweetheart isn’t exactly one of those.

That’s why he tries his best not to look. More chances of getting caught. It really is just his luck that he’s now going to be working regularly in Dream’s vicinity, though. He kind of figured that this whole situation was too good to be true.

It’s borderline ridiculous, though, the way George tries his absolute best to stay quiet throughout the day. He keeps his head down for the most part, shrinking down to stare at his computer screen, doing the small tasks that he had to work on.

And despite his lunch hour starting, he still waits until Dream has gotten up and left the room before doing the same, solely because there’s more chance Dream will notice him if he gets up and walks out first. It’s really stupid, truly. George is a grown man, and he shouldn’t be scared of the concept of his ex seeing him from across a room. What if Dream doesn’t even remember him, or recognise him.

George knows that that’s a stretch, but there’s not much else he can hope for now. Dream is here, and so is George. He supposes he can just avoid interaction for as long as possible, until they’re forced to talk and can agree to never bring up the fact that they know each other.

However his plan, as all of them have been up to this point, is quickly foiled.

When he steps out of the office and into the lunch room that he had been shown earlier. He feels a little out of place, but as always is trying his best to confidently wander through the building to find his way. He hears someone shout his name and knows already that it’s Karl, the guy from earlier.

He turns quickly to face him, taking his steps towards the direction of the noise, and when he looks up to see where he’s going he just curses himself out in his head.

Dream’s there. Dream’s sitting there.

He has definitely seen George now, because his eyes are kind of wide, even though they’re a little more tired than George remembers them being. George smiles awkwardly. He bets he looks twice as uncomfortable as Dream does.

Dream is the only person sitting there with Karl right now, which means Karl is basically exclusively introducing George to his own ex boyfriend. He’s probably had worse first days of work before, but this certainly isn’t going to go down in his mind as one of the best.

“This is the George I was talking about,” Karl offers when George reaches the booth that he’s been invited to sit at. With Dream. With someone he has spent the past few years avoiding all contact with. Again, it’s less than ideal but George is sure he could do worse. He opens his mouth to say something. What exactly he’s planning to say is unclear, but he can babble for a bit to distract himself from how awkward this situation truly is.

He doesn’t get the chance to.

“Oh actually,” Dream begins before George can even say anything and his heart quite literally drops down to his stomach, “George and I went to college together.”

It’s not the worst thing Dream could say right now. Honestly, the worst thing that Dream could say is probably the truth. However, George is still kind of pissed off he can’t go along with his initial plan of pretending they’ve never even met before.

George nods, “Yeah. I mean, you were in your first year when I was in my last, I think?” George doesn’t just think that, he knows for a fact it’s true. See, George has always been good at acting, playing dumb. He just rarely has to use it. But George knows how to get out of situations like this. He figures since Dream didn’t introduce George as an ex, let alone some ex he still has a vendetta against, he can get away with pretending their relationship wasn’t as big of a deal as it really was. Dream can play along.

“Yep. When did you get back to the US?” Dream asks, and if George didn’t know Dream as well as he does, he would probably miss the slight accusatory nature of his tone. Karl isn’t saying much while this happens, “I know you went back home after you graduated. Didn’t know if you were ever going to come back.”

 

“I flew out here for this job, actually.”

And it’s hard to downplay their relationship, because he does know Dream well. And Dream knows George well. Or at least they knew each other like that at some point. As George shuffles his feet awkwardly, not quite knowing what to do with his hands either, he attempts to work out where to go with this, really. Because even though he perhaps, somewhere deep down, wanted to see Dream again, he never wanted it to be like this. He wanted it to be on their terms, or more importantly George’s terms.

This is just some cruel trick from fate, or some deity that George pissed off by having a bit too much fun when he was attending higher education. He doesn’t know what he did to deserve this. Maybe it’s something to do with the way that he and Dream broke up, quick and not as mutual as either of them would like to admit, or maybe there’s some other form of sinful behaviour that George indulged in along the way. Either way, he thinks this is the universe’s method of telling him he’s fucked up.

There’s a sadness there too, because he can look into Dream’s eyes now and he can’t admit how much he’s missed doing that since he left. He’s missed so much. He takes a deep breath and smiles. He can only do that, only be polite like he always has been. The way he used to be when Dream trailed him like a lost puppy, when Dream was there, when Dream. He can’t think about it too much, he never can.

The sky is bright outside and it’s almost comforting in a way to George. It’s bright in the way things used to be. He’s glad they’ve changed.

He takes his seat like he’s supposed to.

“Well that’s good. That you two know each other.” Karl smiles like his work is done, and Dream nods.

“Well, it’s been years since we’ve last spoken, actually.”

It’s the truth, Dream is telling the whole and plain truth there. George isn’t sure why it stings. Maybe that’s because it’s mostly George’s fault that things ended the way they did, so sourly. He can’t remember it clearly, he thinks Dream cried. If he did, then George knows he wouldn’t have been the only one.

“Yeah,” George agrees, “A long time.”

He smiles again and he thinks he can do this, if that’s the way things are going to be. He could do this anyway. There’s not too much animosity, really. There never has been. Only regret, and in a way that’s tougher.

Dream looks different, looks older. When he smiles it’s a lot weaker than George remembers it being, and he seems paler. It’s strange, really, the way these things work. He can’t tell if Dream is really different now, or if the rose tinted lenses with which he views the memories of his youth are just starting to get a little cloudy. Logically he knows Dream has probably changed. But it’s strange that in his heart he never wanted him to.

As illogical as it is, George had always figured that one day he’d be able to fly across to the states and head anywhere in Florida, walk into some random bar and ask if they knew where Dream is. They’d point him the right direction and everything would be okay again, no more waiting on the future to clear up, no more waiting on blue skies. The rain would stop falling.

Instead Dream’s here, and George doesn’t know what to do with that. He doesn’t know what he can do, really. Dream looks different but he looks good, and George still feels overdressed, and the sun shines through the windows in a way that threatens to blind the lot of them, but George hasn’t been seeing the clearest for a long time now.

He can deal with this, he can be normal about it, he’s an adult. And Dream is too.

When he looks at Dream, he can tell they’re making some sort of silent pact to work through this without talking about it. They can pretend. They’ve always been good at that.

Time can change a lot of things, it can change the way they dress, and the way they talk, and maybe the way they used to be so comfortable around each other, but it can’t change that.

--

Overall, George would probably say that the whole ‘pretending that working with your ex every single day is normal, especially when things ended on a sour note that you’ve been feeling guilty about for the past few years’ thing could definitely be going worse.

George has realised that it’s actually very easy to avoid Dream if he needs to, and he’s so much better at it now than he ever was when he was in college. The only times that Dream can catch him is at lunch when they’re forced to politely interact with each other. George will do the usual, he’ll laugh quietly at Dream’s jokes, and he’ll speak when he absolutely has to. Save for that, though, George is free to pretend that none of this is actually happening.

It helps, too, that even though he’s really just starting out here, he’s been given a fairly decent workload to get on with. It gives him an excuse to go back to his desk early or stay slightly late so that he doesn’t have to risk leaving at the same time as Dream. It’s definitely quite stupid, and extremely immature, that George is now dictating his workday based on how he can avoid an awkward confrontation with Dream, but he supposes it will do for now.

Dream isn’t making as much of an effort to avoid George like George is avoiding him. Actually, if George would pay a little bit more attention to Dream himself and not the places where Dream isn’t, maybe he would notice that Dream is appearing by his side a lot more often than a regular coworker would. He’s always around when George isn’t directly avoiding him.

At this point, he figures any type of relationship, platonic or otherwise, with Dream is kind of out of the question. For now, at least. They haven’t talked once about anything, about the break up, about college at all really. It’s intimidating, and George can tell it’s lurking beneath the surface because it always has been. He’s never been able to avoid it, the way that Dream gets under his skin.

Even when Dream wasn’t around, when George was an ocean away in the room in his hometown, he still had Dream there with him. It’s a part of him he’s never really been able to let go, although he would never say that to Dream’s face. Or to anyone’s face for that matter. Another thing he feels rather guilty about is the fact that he never actually brought Dream up to anyone who knew him back home.

This is something he’s allowed himself to suffer through in silence.

George does his best, he’s really fucking trying, to ignore it all though. The past is in the past, and it’s really only his future that matters. It’s enough for now, he’s making enough money to get by and he’s got a job now. He’s finally managed to leave home and head somewhere else again. It isn’t really that he needs a fresh start, he’s fine picking up where he left off, but he just needs something.

But the past is so intrinsically linked with the present that George can’t ignore it as well as he would like to. The George that went to school here is the same George sitting in this office, there’s just a few years of difference between them. A little bit more maturity, and a little bit less fear. He’d like to think that, at least. Maybe it’s not as true as he’s been hoping.

Dream is also the same person George spent all that time with. He guesses it’s weird that he has to ignore that. It’s weird that he’s been pushing away the memories for so long. Because even when he was home, he didn’t like to think about Dream. He never has.

Maybe it’s because he knows he’s in the wrong. Maybe it’s because he’s been regretting everything that happened from the moment it did for all this time. Maybe it’s because he knows that he’s missed his chance with Dream now, and it sucks to know that it’s all because of something he did. It’s more complicated than either of them had wanted it to be.

Images flash, more often than not, now of those Arcadian days. George had been far too willing to get himself lost in the fantasy that his university experience would last forever, and so would Dream.

It’s less that he wants Dream now, because he hasn’t given himself a chance to, and more that he knows he could have had him. In some other universe where George isn’t as stupid, or as cowardly, or even just as bad at talking. Somewhere, in those infinite universes where George and Dream met in college, and did whatever it is they did, because it’s murky in George’s memory, George still has Dream. He’s somewhat envious. He’s sure that life is a lot easier.

But despite everything, college is rarely brought up. Their coworkers are often shocked to find out, usually from Karl, that Dream and George know each other at all, especially with the few and far between times they’ve interacted in the workspace. Or any place at all for that matter. George supposes that makes sense, considering he’s made an active effort not to talk to Dream when he doesn’t have to. Although they’re coworkers, and work in the same department, and the same team occasionally, there’s been no reason given for them to directly talk to each other yet.

It’s also due to the fact that college rarely comes up at all between them. But the first time it does is the first time George legitimately wants to disintegrate in front of everyone. It’s humiliating, even if no one knows.

They’re discussing the fact that one of them, George isn’t keeping track really, has gotten ghosted by some girl he had been speaking to for a couple of weeks, which lead to them talking about ghosting. As previously mentioned, George isn’t paying the most attention, staring off to the far corner of the room.

Until someone else speaks.

“Dream,” They start, because despite the professional setting Dream has been charismatic enough to get everyone to call him by that nickname. George always has, too. He’s not entirely sure why it’s so shocking to him. “Didn’t that happen to you? I remember you mentioned it once.”

And that’s when George realises he needs to leave, because that story is almost definitely about him. He looks over to face Dream, whose face is almost as calm as it usually is. But there’s a small glimmer of panic in his eye that indicates that George’s suspicion is absolutely correct. Dream coughs.

“I mean, kind of.” Is all he supplies the group with, and he meets George’s eye for only a moment and George doesn’t know if he’s angry at Dream. If he is, he certainly has no right to be. Not really. Because while he didn’t exactly ghost Dream, he got pretty close to it, and Dream probably has every right to be upset. Every right to tell the story, every right to complain to his friends about George being a shitty ex without ever saying his name.

“That’s all?” Someone else asks, and George doesn’t look away to figure out who because he's busy looking at Dream. He almost wants to challenge him, to ask him to say more. But he doesn’t. George is curious about what Dream’s thought all these years, what he’s been saying, but it’s a curiosity that George can’t fulfil. He hasn’t earned that. He might never earn that with Dream.

Dream only shakes his head, “I mean, it’s awkward. I don’t like discussing it much.” He’s shrugging, and he doesn’t know what to say. Dream’s always been good with thinking on his feet, and lying on them at that, George knows this. He remembers the excuses, and the reasoning. It’s all useless now in his head, because he’ll never blame Dream for any of it. It’s why it’s so strange to hear him stutter, try to make up a reason why he won’t talk. It’s half amusing and half pitiful.

“You’ve told us before, come on. They left the country and decided they weren’t coming back, right?”

Dream winces, and now he’s avoiding George’s eye completely. George wants to laugh. He also wants to cry, just a little. Dream looks a bit like he wants to do the same.

“Yeah, I guess.” Dream nods, “Something along those lines.”

George smiles sweetly at him, even if Dream isn’t looking and stands up.

“I have work to get back to.” He tells them and it’s true, because he’s taken on a heavier workload in an attempt to avoid having to talk to Dream, but it’s not that heavy. Not any heavier than the weight of his guilt, mixed with his disappointment.

He starts heading back towards his office and doesn’t bother to look behind him as he does it. There’s no point really.

And he manages to get through the day without letting it show that the conversation he had been more listening to and not participating in is affecting him. It’s dumb, really, because it makes sense. He’s spoken about exes with friends before, just never Dream. That’s a personal issue, though. Before this, before their awkward reintroduction, Dream has always seemed so close to George’s heart, far too close in fact. He’s never been able to talk about it.

He doesn’t know if he ever actually will.

It’s not anything traumatic, or dramatic. It’s just the way that all of his hazy memories become so clear in the later hours of the night. The way that every time he cries it doesn’t quite compare to the way he cried when he realised he had well and truly lost Dream. It’s twisted, how emotional he gets over this. How Dream probably isn’t half as emotional at all. It’s probably never even crossed Dream’s mind.

Because Dream is younger, and he was younger then. He had the rest of college to get over George, and he likely is. A week or so after it all went down, and George hung up the phone, told Dream he couldn’t do any of this anymore, Dream changed his Facebook status of all things to indicate that he was in a relationship. It’s never changed, George used to have an alternate account dedicated to checking up on what Dream was doing. Last time he used it, Dream was still with someone. He figures it’s likely Dream still is today.

So it’s silly, and George is focusing too much on the past. But there’s no reason that the past should be this appealing.

The past with all its problems, and its complications, and limits. The past where everything is slanted by George’s current viewpoint, where there’s no objectivity and there’s just Dream, the way he was and the way he isn’t. His hair was longer then. He’s got it trimmed now. It’s just one of the many details that follow George about day to day, the knowledge that things will never quite be the way they were during those halcyon days.

George follows his usual routine, and starts to head home right after Dream leaves the office, closing his email and shutting down his work computer, and then his laptop. He doesn’t really take his time, just shoving what he’s taking home into his bag. He pulls on his jacket. It’s starting to get cold again.

George is used to the cold, really. The UK is miserable most months of the year. There’s a drizzle of rain outside, he can see it. He wonders why he hasn’t been noticing it forever now. He grabs his things, and steps outside the office.

And it happens almost like an ambush, but perhaps that language is all too violent for the ways that George and Dream are. George wishes there were softer, more poignant words. It’s never been harsh, it probably never will be. There have never been cruel words exchanged, and they’ve certainly never tried to hurt each other. It just happens sometimes. George cannot help the way his actions cut like knives, he can only do his best to ignore the scars.

Dream is there by the coffee machine, and when he sees George, George knows that he’s waiting for him.

“George,” Dream begins, and George just keeps walking. He can’t really do this. Can’t deal with justifications and apologies, because Dream has always been so apologetic and kind. He’s never really known what to do with it.

Dream repeats his name, catching up and George turns slightly, “What?” His tone is cold, unwelcoming and it’s not what he intends. He wants to back up, say sorry, let Dream know he could never really be mad at him for anything, and there’s nothing Dream’s even done that would warrant a response.

“Sorry,” Dream responds quickly, going to say something else but George shakes his head.

“No, sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped at you.” George sighs, and waits. They’re standing in the stairwell now, and it’s quiet. They both always leave a little bit later than everyone else. George’s voice echoes.

“I just wanted to talk to you,” Dream tells him, before correcting himself, “No I need to talk to you.” And George just nods. He knows he looks like a deer in the headlights right now, he doesn’t know what to do. He fiddles with the strap of his bag, looking for something to distract him, anything will do really.

“What do you need to talk about?” It’s reminiscent, really, of how they met. Dream hunting George down to talk to him, he was so fucking determined. George didn’t get it, didn’t know what was so special about him. Dream was persistent, he always is. George doesn’t think Dream could fail to get anything he wants.

“I need to know,” Dream takes a sharp inhale of breath, eyes darting around slightly, before he looks back down at George, “I need to know if you sincerely hate me or something. Because-”

George stops Dream before he can continue, placing a hand on Dream’s arm which had been gesturing while he spoke, “What? No, I don’t hate you.” George is almost offended at the notion. Almost. He wonders if Dream ever learned anything about him, “Of course I don’t hate you, why would you think that?” George asks.

Dream shrugs, “You’ve been avoiding me ever since you got here, and I don’t know what I did, now or then, to make things this way.” He explains, and George wants to hug him, in some weird instinctual way. He wants to wrap his arms around Dream’s waist and hold him close and tell him that he’s wrong and that George will never hate him. He wants to listen to Dream’s heartbeat again.

“Sorry, no,” George shook his head. He hasn’t moved his hand from Dream’s arm, “I don’t hate you. And you haven’t done anything, really. It’s just me being awkward.” George tries to explain, and he doesn’t move, doesn’t end this like he should.

“I know when you’re awkward, and it’s not like this.” Dream shakes his head and this feels far too personal. What does Dream know? It’s been years.

“Maybe I’ve changed.” George responds quickly, maybe a little too quickly.

“Maybe.” Dream nods, and George let's go, taking a step back. “Look, and I’m sorry about earlier. I didn’t think I’d ever see you again, to be honest, so those stories seemed like fair game at the time.”

George sighs, and nods, looking at the floor, “I mean, yeah. I guess so.” And then he laughs quietly to himself, “You know, I kind of thought the opposite. I’ve always thought we’d end up meeting again somehow.” He confesses this quietly, because it’s only for Dream’s ears. Even though the stairwell is empty, these words are too sacred for even the echoes.

“Really? You were never really good at showing it, then,” Dream teases him and it’s light hearted enough that George doesn’t think much of it, but what he does think is somewhere along the lines of ‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry’. There’s so, so much that George has never apologised for, so much he probably should’ve.

“Well, I’ve never really been good at showing much of anything.” George hums. There are people stepping out into the stairwell on the floor below them. Their voices echo up, “Besides, I didn’t know when I was coming back to the US.” He gestures to his surroundings vaguely and it’s enough to encapsulate the entire country. Everything he’s ever needed in this place is in this stairwell with him. Only issue is he’ll never get to have it. Not for himself at least.

“Look,” Dream begins, and he seems hesitant, scared. George wants to say that Dream’s never been the type to get scared, but he is. He really only used to be that way around George. Maybe he still is. “I’ve been thinking, like a bit, and I wanted to know if you wanted to try being friends again? I know things ended kind of awkwardly, but this can be a new start.”

 

George doesn’t want a new start. He wants Dream.

“Yeah, sure. It’s probably for the best.” George hums, smiling at Dream reassuringly, “I’ll be your friend.” Dream seems, thankfully, happy enough with that.

“Then we’re friends.” Dream confirms, “Besides, it was long enough ago that we’re both over it, right?” He asks, and there’s something in his voice that George can’t work out, something he can’t distinguish.

George nods, even if he doesn’t mean it to the fullest extent.

It’s a lot easier than admitting he’s maybe not completely over it.

--

The main issue, it turns out, is that Dream and George have never exactly been friends.

Dream, from the very moment he met George, had been pursuing something more, and George had been too distracted to actually notice until it was too late. And by that point Dream was showing up regularly to George’s dorm, lying in his bed, leaving marks on George’s skin. That hardly constitutes friendship, at least in George’s book. Friendship probably has a lot less groping. Friendship also probably has a lot less tears.

But as much as it works out for them initially, the newfound casual way they can interact, it also definitely has its downsides. Dream is very touchy. George, by extension, is very aware of this, and he has to be even more aware when Dream is telling some kind of story and places his hand on George’s bicep to place extra emphasis on his points, or when he’s walking by and messes up George’s hair. It’s hardly workplace appropriate, George thinks initially, but no one is bothered enough to stop it.

And George in some twisted way savours these touches, because it’s all he’s got now. For the past three or four years he’s been busy remembering Dream, thinking about the way he used to tuck his head underneath Dream’s chin and lie there all night. Dream’s always been used to the heat, always been able to handle it in a way George hasn’t. In turn, George can handle the cold.

In the colder months, back when they existed as a noun, George would make sure to subtly mock Dream for the many layers he put on, then pull Dream into bed and hold him until he warmed up. He remembers it like a movie sometimes, it all adds up but when it’s over the ending is so disappointing. Disjointed scenes that never quite go the way you want them to. George wanted more. George wants more. He just can’t have it.

It feels selfish, it really does, the way that all he wants now is the one thing he’s already given up. He can’t have it back anymore, can’t have Dream.

Sometimes, he wonders, if he’s really crying over all he’s lost with these years spent away from Dream. They used to seem so trivial, back when Dream wasn’t in his life. But now he is, and it’s just this complex array of emotions. Memories are tough to deal with for George, memories have a mind of their own where the details blur into something a lot prettier than it originally was. But George likes it when things are pretty, to put it in its simplest terms.

It’s an issue for George, the whole being friends thing, a few times, when George’s eyes, hands, or mind will linger a moment or two too long when Dream pushes that boundary he didn’t know he had set. And sometimes Dream doesn’t have to do anything at all. Old feelings will always rise to the surface, George supposes. And it sucks. But it doesn’t suck as much as losing him completely, so George makes do.

By this point, however, George is almost completely settled into his new life, he supposes he can call it that. His routine is sorted and that helps ground him, even if only slightly.

It’s just that when his routine breaks, separates from the careful path he’s carved out for it, things start to go wrong. Or not necessarily wrong, because George can’t call any of this wrong. Maybe more inconvenient than absolutely anything else.

It’s a work night out when it happens, sometime in Autumn on some unspecific day that George can’t remember. It might be someone’s birthday, but George has never been good at paying attention to these things. All he knows is that he’s in a bar, and it’s loud, and sometimes that situation is a little overwhelming for him.

And if Dream is touchy and overfamiliar at work, he’s even more so out of it. George didn’t realise, exactly, that Dream being over their break up, and over George specifically, would mean he would be so confident about it.

He’s sitting next to George, which isn’t anything abnormal now that they’ve established that they can be friends, and at some point his hand began to rest on George’s knee. If George didn’t know Dream, and he knows Dream all too well, he would probably interpret that differently, he would probably start to get hopeful. He has no need for hope though, not really.

He knows Dream well enough to know he’s touchy, but somehow George manages to miss the fact that he really only ever does this with George. Maybe it’s because he’s not paying attention, but that’s a lie because he’s paying attention to almost every single miniscule detail he can find. So it’s much more likely that he’s trying his best not to set himself up for disappointment.

It makes him nervous, in a way he’s not been in years. There’s something clenching in his stomach, and his words come out too fast on the rare occasions he tries to talk, tries to open his mouth and actually say something. He can’t talk, though. Maybe there’s something caught in his throat, and maybe that something is fear. He can’t get too close.

But Dream is so much all the time. Even in the shitty dim lighting he glows. He’s always done that, in every single memory George has of him Dream has shone through the despair, and the monotony and exists as the high point. George wonders why it had to end in all that hurt when it was so good to begin with.

It’s like wondering why the Colossus had to snap at the knee, why ancient walls had to crumble and give way, robbing the world of its wonder. George supposes, in some twisted sense, that to him, his relationship, he’s not sure he can get away with calling it love quite yet, is some other wonder from a different era, torn apart by time, and malevolent forces and all too many et ceteras.

It’s so much. Dream’s hand on his knee is warm, and George can feel it right to his very core.

And while it’s no excuse, because George has no excuse for this really, he drinks more than he probably should that evening. It’s a good way to get himself to loosen up, but George has also never really known his limits; in terms of drinking or otherwise. He’s considerably more relaxed and calm by the end of the night, but at the high cost of leaning into Dream’s utterly claustrophobic presence.

He can breathe now, but there’s something constricting his chest. He doesn’t want to identify exactly what it is, but it’s starting to push down heavily. Maybe he’s just drunk.

It’s a lot easier to be drunk than it is to have repressed feelings, it turns out. It gives him an excuse to lean against Dream, sit shoulder to shoulder instead of a few inches apart like they usually do. He’s half sure, although his memory is blurry, at one point his head falls slightly to rest on Dream’s shoulder. He can’t remember either, although it does happen, that Dream just smiles and inches closer.

What he does remember is the conversation drifting towards relationships again.

“So George,” Someone begins, and George thinks he’s drunk enough to actually talk. It’s that weird hazy state where the room isn’t quite spinning, but it’s definitely swaying. He’s not nauseous but he might be with the way this conversation is heading, “Did you leave any girlfriend back home?”

George laughs, and it doesn’t sound anywhere near as forced as it is, “No, uh. Nothing like that.” He shakes his head, “I’ve not been seeing anyone for a while now.” It’s honest, and maybe more honest than it should be. Maybe more honest than he should ever be, especially around Dream. It’s like admitting something, maybe admitting defeat. George doesn’t know what game he’s losing, he just knows that he’s already lost.

“Yeah?” Someone asks, and it’s Dream this time. He’s losing.

“Yeah,” George nods, and he doesn’t know what else to say, doesn’t know whether or not he can overshare with Dream anymore, if that's a good idea in any form. He doesn’t want to tell Dream anything, but he also wants Dream to know exactly what’s going on inside his head no matter how embarrassing it actually is. He wants Dream’s hand on his heart, and his heart to no longer be in his throat.

“I mean, I’m the same,” Dream’s more talking to the group now, “I haven’t really been with anyone in the last couple of years. Not seriously at least.” And it’s casual, but George can’t help but feel like that confession was made for him to hear. He’s not sure what he’s meant to take from that. At least they’re on an equal playing field now, no advantages. His heart beats fast.

The night goes on, but there feels like there’s something there, something far too much and not enough. George can’t keep chasing it, it wouldn’t do him any good, but here he is, God. He doesn’t know why he’s here or how he got here, but he’s sure that he can’t keep doing this. It’s going to break him, he’s going to snap. But he doesn’t, not yet at least.

He only drinks more.

The night needs to end at some point, and George is sure when it does he’s going to miss the warm hand on his knee, the fingers tapping to some vague rhythm George can’t quite work out, and that he’s going to miss having someone there. He won’t admit quite how touch starved he is, but he’s more hungry than the average person at this point, he’s sure of that.

When the night does close, and everyone starts to head home, George quietly curses to himself when he realises he needs to now call a taxi and sit through the ride home. There’s no real other option though, until...

Until.

Dream is looking at him with welcoming eyes, and a heart that tells George that things are going to be okay, and he’s sure that words are spoken but they all blend into gibberish in his brain. All he knows is that he’s in Dream’s car, going back to Dream’s apartment because it’s closer. He’s going to sleep on the couch. He’s going to make up for lost time some other day. He breathes in the fresh air outside the bar. Nothing is going to change.

But Dream is a friend and friends help each other when they’re drunk, friends take each other home and remain fully clothed, they sleep in places that aren’t beds, and they remain only slightly familiar with the inner workings of each other's routines. Friends make each other coffee in the morning and laugh about the night they had prior, all the mistakes but none of them too bad, none of them all that detrimental.

But George and Dream, as mentioned previously, have never exactly been friends, so maybe those lines begin to blur. Maybe that’s because George’s vision is blurring.

Although George can remember the good of their relationship, all trees blossoming in the spring and the golden mornings and none of the bared teeth and violence, he knows maybe, perhaps, it’s a mistake to chase after it so desperately, to get Dream back. But as he climbs into the passenger seat, reassuring Dream he’s not nauseous and won't throw up on the short journey, it doesn’t seem like all that much of a mistake.

George vaguely wonders why Dream doesn’t just drive him home, and then go on his merry way. He doesn’t ask. He doesn’t want to ruin things.

The journey back to Dream’s apartment is slow and tedious in the most painful way, because George and Dream don’t really talk. George isn’t quite too drunk to hold a conversation right now, not really, although maybe he’s slightly too drunk to hold a conversation with Dream. He doesn’t try, doesn’t want to see the outcome.

The streetlights pass by in an indistinct blur, streetlights that never change. They go on every night and turn off in the morning. George wishes he had a switch like that, turn himself off every morning to free himself of those thoughts and regrets. It would be so much easier. He might be able to cope in that scenario.

Dream focuses on the road, and George notes that he still doesn’t drink. Maybe time can change, the seasons will pass and hometowns become places you don’t really recognise, and everyone around you grows, but people never really change. Not too much at least. Or maybe that’s something exclusive to Dream and George. He wants to believe that they’re special.

He thinks about honesty, and how he’s never really had it. Thinks about boundaries and how Dream’s never been able to recognise them. Then he thinks about fear, and that’s something they both have in common. Justifiably or not.

George feels nauseous, so maybe he lied to Dream, but it’s not due to his intoxicated state, or anything of the like, nor is it due to the car ride. It’s something else. Something George doesn’t really care to explain. Something George can’t explain for fear of losing his own sanity somewhere along the way.

The car stops.This is where Dream lives, George thinks vaguely to himself. It feels intimate. It shouldn’t. George isn’t sure if that’s allowed.

“Do you need help getting out?” Dream asks, and maybe in another time his tone would’ve been mocking, maybe in some other time he would’ve been teasing George for this. But he’s not. It’s caring. George can’t handle caring anymore.

He shakes his head quickly and unbuckles his seatbelt, opening the car door. The world doesn’t spin. It’s a Friday and there’s nowhere he needs to be tomorrow. He could just stay, but he won’t. He doesn’t. There’s no way he can do that. He’s far too human for all this, for all these moments. Nothing’s happened yet. Nothing will happen, he tells himself, and he promises that.

They’re friends.

George doesn’t remember fully walking up to Dream’s apartment, but he remembers being guided vaguely, a hand on his waist to lead him there. He’s not wasted or anything, but George doesn’t drink often and so he’s unused to this, unused to getting home.

Not home, he has to correct himself there. This is just Dream’s apartment.

“Excuse the mess,” Dream tells him when they get in, when the door is unlocked and George feels as if he’s invading upon something that was never supposed to be his under any circumstances. He can’t describe what it’s like. It feels as though this is the life he’s been missing out on, the life he chose to give up on.

He goes to sit on the couch, rubbing at his eye. He feels exhausted, but everything is so exhausting to him these days. He feels cold and too warm and when he closes his eyes he feels like he’s falling off a building. Maybe he is falling. Maybe he shouldn’t think too much about it.

“Is the couch okay? I can give you my bed if you want?” Dream asks George, handing him a glass of water. He used to do this. He used to do a lot of things. George thinks that if he closes his eyes he can just transport himself back a few years, and everything will be fine again. Dream will wrap his arms around George’s shoulders, he’ll read George’s mind again like he once did daily.

George shakes his head, he can’t sleep in Dream’s bed. He knows that’s too far. “I’ll be fine. I’ve slept in worse places before.” He gives Dream a smile, all soft and there’s something sad about it. They know each other so well. They always have. Dream’s sitting next to him.

George is very acutely aware that if he leans in a few inches, moves over, he could kiss Dream again. There’s no one here, nobody around to stop them but themselves. The walls don’t know, and the windows wouldn’t judge.

It’s seconds away. He doesn’t want to keep losing.

That’s why he doesn’t.

He thinks to himself that he must’ve grown because if George were the weaker man that he was when he was younger, he wouldn’t have shown self restraint. He pats himself on the back a little for that.

Dream’s eyes are glistening. He thinks, in another life, he would be able to understand this.

“Goodnight.” Dream’s almost whispering, as if this is something sacred, something that belongs only to George. He’s going to go to sleep soon, sleep in his own bed. Friend’s take the couch, friend’s don’t stay the week. Friend’s care about each other but only to a certain extent. The benefit of hindsight tells them this. There is no benefit of hindsight.

George’s heart is breaking piece by piece.

“Goodnight.”

-

Sleeping over at Dream’s place isn’t something that George does often, considering he has his own place nearby, and that he doesn’t actually enjoy sleeping on a couch, but it still happens now and then.

They’re well into the winter months, though, before Dream stays with George. George isn’t exactly sure why. Maybe it’s because he never really has guests, or maybe it’s because it’s Dream. All he’s sure of is that Dream in his living space is something that his brain struggles to comprehend at the best of times, let alone now he’s the slightest bit lovesick. It’s completely and utterly stupid.

He curls up in bed each night and thinks about Dream. He thinks he’s been doing it for the best of a few years, too. Maybe the vague, bodiless shape he imagined holding him on the worst nights had a body after all. Maybe it’s always had hands, and legs, and a faint heartbeat lulling George into a comfortable state. Maybe it’s always had a name, just not one George would ever dare speak before now.

Dream has yet to acknowledge the maybe odd nature of their current relationship. It probably would be weird even if they didn’t have a past, but the fact that they do makes the whole situation so incredibly bizarre. It’s so strange the way that something that lost its future also lost its past too. He sometimes misses it.

Dream just doesn’t talk about it. Doesn’t talk about anything they used to do. Maybe he really got over it, maybe George didn’t really mean as much as he thought he did.

George doesn’t let his mind linger, because there’s nothing more dangerous than his own head. He thinks about Dream more often than he feels he has any right to, especially as an ex-boyfriend turned friend. Dream texts him often, little things that he thinks George will like and he remembers so much from back then, back when George was his.

In a way, George supposes, he still is. He’ll never tell Dream that, though. There’s a lot of things he’ll never tell Dream, things that have built up over the passing years.

So it’s really not planned in any capacity when Dream does stay over. It’s really just a normal night for George, for the most part. Until it’s not. What a fucking cliche.

It’s another Friday night, they all blend together at this point, and George is having a quiet night in doing nothing in particular really when Dream shows up at his door. George opens the door to him and Dream looks like he’s got one foot in the grave and the other somewhere in George’s past.

“You look awful.” Is the first thing George says. It’s true and Dream smiles at him, and it’s so charming still, even when Dream looks half dead. The bags under his eyes weigh his face down and he looks seconds away from passing out. But he’s still managed to get George’s heart in some kind of iron grip. It’s messed up, and it shouldn’t be allowed, but here he is.

“So do you, are you going to let me in?” Dream asks, and George nods. Can’t do much of anything else, really. He’s always been weak for Dream, if Dream asks for something George will likely find a way to make it happen, and vice versa. He’s known for a very long time, before they broke up all those years ago, that Dream would end up being his downfall.

But he didn’t expect this.

He stood aside to let Dream in, and it almost mirrors the way they used to be. Dream showing up, with his bright eyes and his familiar smile, trying to get George to talk to him. There was a time where George wondered if he regretted letting Dream do this, if he regretted inviting him into the shoebox dorm room. He wasn’t sure then, but now he’s certain that it was the right choice. All this warm pleasantness is worth the yearning for something more. He knows that now.

“Can I ask why you’re here?” George queries, as Dream wanders in. He locks the door behind Dream. It’s a dangerous move, but one he’ll make. Dream can come and go as he pleases, but maybe that’s the issue at hand. Maybe there lies the problem.

“I haven’t slept for two days, and I don’t think I can physically drive home right now,” Dream confesses, seemingly investigating something over in George’s kitchen, “I figure it would be fine if I crashed here, especially since you’re like a ten minute walk away from the office. You don’t mind right?” George does mind, but that’s beyond the point.

“No, that’s fine. Make yourself at home, I guess,” George shrugs and Dream grins over at him.

“Great. Do you mind if I use your shower?” George also minds that.

It feels intimate, it feels like home and it feels like more than George will ever be able to handle.

He just nods, “Yeah, there should be towels in there. Sorry I don’t have clean clothes for you. In your size, at least.”

 

Dream shakes his head, “No, it’s fine. I showed up unannounced, I didn’t expect you to have any.” And they can leave it there, because George just points to his bathroom and Dream heads in. It shouldn’t be anything that horrible for George, because it’s not like he’s never witnessed Dream without clothes before.

Obviously, there was once a time where he was so used to that, where it was normal. It takes his brain a second too long to come to terms with the fact that it isn’t normal anymore.

When he hears the shower turn on, he goes back to sitting on the couch again. The room is quiet, save for the noises coming from the bathroom and George feels as if he can’t disrupt that, feels as though the ambiance must remain intact throughout this. It’s a delicate system that they’ve created here, and George refuses to be the one who shatters it. He can’t be.

This is the closest he’s been to having Dream for years. He’s willing to settle for it.

Because he can cope with separate homes and separate lives, the time spent apart and the people that they’ll both end up with. He’s willing to live off of table scraps now. He’s so pathetic, and he knows this, but he’s not sure if he can change that. He wants to take it back, every word ever spoken, reverse it and go from there. He wants to say sorry. He never has, not really, and that’s where the issues stem from.

Dream is quicker than George expected him to be in the shower, and much to George’s relief he gets dressed again before returning to the living room. There’s a lot that George can handle, that George can settle for. Currently, though, seeing Dream in only a towel isn’t one of those things. He has his own issues to work through.

“Hey, thanks again,” Dream smiles at George. It’s like a scene from a domestic life that they’ll never live. There’s a bittersweet aching in George’s chest when he realises this. Dream looks awful still, he looks tired and pale. But George doesn’t care.

“No, it’s not a problem. You want to just sleep? You can have my bed if you want.” And Dream shakes his head.

“No, uh, I struggle sleeping, anyway. I’ll probably stay up for a bit and take the couch,” He tells George, and George nods again. Another smile. These pleasantries get them nowhere, but everywhere at the same time. They’re stuck wandering between the past and future and George wishes he could finally arrive at the present, but he can’t. Not with Dream.

“I’ll stay up with you,” George offers, “Give you something to do while you suffer.” Dream seems grateful. This could be his, George thinks. This could be his life if he wanted it to be. It isn’t, but oh god he wishes it were. He wishes he could spend every night with Dream like he used to. So much pining over what? He keeps on losing this game. One day he’ll work out the rules and win. Until then, he doesn’t know.

This could be anywhere in the world, it doesn’t need to be George’s apartment. His beating heart be damned, he could be anything. Especially with Dream here. He could be love. He could be in it.

There’s something playing on the TV. He could’ve sworn it was only playing static a minute ago. He listens in.

Dream takes a seat next to him and instantly invades his space. Not that George minds of course, because he’s never minded this. And not that he’ll ever stop it because He’s currently taking what he can get. This is a little bit more than the bare minimum that he expected, and for that he’s eternally grateful.

Dream rests his head on George’s shoulder, knees tucked up underneath him. It doesn’t look comfortable, although it doesn’t look uncomfortable either. Dream smiles at him when he catches George’s eye, like there’s some kind of joke George isn’t in on. Like it’s a joke only for Dream and no one else. He’ll understand when he’s older.

George wants Dream’s arms around him now, wants to be surrounded and trapped. He’s not paying any attention to anything on the TV because Dream is here, and Dream is all consuming and everything he’s ever needed. Dream who smells like George because he used his soap and shampoo and he wants this so fucking badly. If he turns he could take it. It could be George’s again. He’s done this once, he knows how it goes. But he doesn’t.

He moves a hand up to run it through Dream’s hair, slow and calming. He’s always done this. Dream’s head falls down and he’s laying on his side, head resting on George’s thigh. It’s comfortable. George doesn’t know what he’s doing, he only knows that he doesn’t know how to stop anymore.

Dream speaks up, his voice quiet and exhausted, “That’s my hoodie, isn’t it?” He asks George, and George looks down to realise sure enough it is. He wears it to bed.

“Uh, yeah.” George doesn’t really know how to explain the fact that he’s kept it all these years, the fact that he still puts it on, especially in the moments where he misses Dream the most. It’s too big on him, and it always has been.

“I always thought you’d gotten rid of it,” Dream mumbles, and George thinks that his eyes are closed now. He thinks maybe he can breathe now, “Never thought you’d still have it now. Let alone still wear it.”

“I would never throw it out,” George confesses, his voice hushed as if not to disturb any nearby listeners, as if the surroundings would mind. “It’s always been here with me.”

And maybe it’s George’s not so subtle way of describing where Dream is to him.

And maybe Dream doesn’t notice because he’s already asleep.

He hopes that Dream is asleep.

He hopes that Dream can’t feel the way that his heart won’t stop beating.

He hopes that Dream can’t feel the way his heart is breaking.

--

It all comes to a head at a Christmas party of all times and places.

George isn’t feeling it, and he never feels all that festive. It’s the office party, however, so he felt at least some pressure to attend. He’s not sure if he regrets it, however. He knows he can just walk home if need be.

Maybe it’s because he’s spending Christmas away from his family, something he didn’t do ever, even when he was in college. But it feels like it could be something different, feels like maybe it’s something a little bit more than that.

He knows Dream is in there, probably talking about nonsense to everyone else. Their relationship gets weirder and weirder by the day. Dream is as touchy as ever, but sometimes he’ll have these moments where he just looks at George, and George is never sure what he’s thinking, never sure what Dream wants. He never asks.

Dream has also started showing up a lot more here and then, familiarising himself with George’s routine, his home, his life. It feels like retracing old footsteps in the snow, making his way out of the hedge maze he’s been stuck in these past years. It feels a lot like coming home, but he’ll never say that out loud.

And Dream is a friend, it’s as simple as that. But it’s never been all that simple. George hopes it will be one day.

Obviously, he still wants Dream to be more than that. More than a name on his contact list, and someone he thinks about now and then, more than someone he has to be on his best behaviour around lest he lose everything he’s worked so hard to build. He wishes Dream were still someone he could be careless around, but he can’t afford that anymore.

But he’s going to settle for something simple. He’ll settle for Dream being there. He’ll settle for the small touches, and he’ll settle for the glances here and there because it’s better than nothing. It’s a lot better than George has had for so long that it’s enough to keep him going for the rest of his life. He’s allowing himself to be slightly selfish. He’s earned it.

He stands now in the stairwell, debating whether or not to head outside and get fresh air. He feels mediocre, and it’s only going downhill from there. And he’s been gone for too long, long enough that maybe someone will have noticed his absence, but he hopes that they haven’t. Hopes his usual habit of forcing himself into the background is working. He’s hoping no one notices, hoping he can stay hidden away.

It’s cold tonight, but George didn’t bring a coat. He decided he’d just walk pretty quickly back home if he needed to. He can use that as an excuse, he can say he needs to get back before the weather gets too bad. He can say a lot of things. None of them are really worth it.

It’s bizarre now that the silence is truly preferable.

He always imagined all this being different, seeing Dream again. He imagined something calm and civilised where they’d talk it all through, and either go back to being whatever it was they were, or part ways and be done with it. Somehow, there’s no closure in the current situation, there’s no satisfaction in the way things are. George always wanted there to be. Maybe he doesn’t deserve that.

In the end, George knows it’s all his own fault. He was the one who decided to go for the easy way out, where he wouldn’t have to be confronted with Dream’s emotions because Dream couldn’t physically be near him, and where he could suppress his own feelings and focus on being so far away that it didn’t matter. It was a bad idea in the end. It’s all just been such a mess of regrets and feeling lonely.

It’s never been worth it, losing Dream. George often forgets why he did it all in the first place.

And as if his thoughts could summon the man himself, Dream bursts into the stairwell, making George jump.

The door is heavy so when it swings open, George has to take a second to come down from the momentary panic to actually see who it is, and gets ready to explain why he’s hiding out here, and work out how to say he’s feeling sick and feels like heading home. But it’s Dream. And when he sees that he doesn’t need to think of an excuse anymore, because Dream gets it anyway.

“Hey,” Dream stops next to George with a smile on his face. He looks happy to see him. And George is expecting Dream to keep walking, head off wherever he intended to go in the first place, but he doesn’t. He stands there by George.

“Hi,” George responds, “What’re you doing here?” It’s a dumb question, but George doesn’t know what to say. He never does.

“Looking for you. Noticed you had disappeared,” Dream shrugs, and walks over to lean against the wall where George is standing. It’s so close that their shoulders brush, and if George looks over and up slights he’d almost be directly face to face with Dream, “This isn’t the first place I looked, but you’re here.”

George nods, “I’m here.” He sighs slightly, and goes back to looking at the door, then down the stairs.

“Why were you looking for me?” George asks after a while, ignores the potential hope that he feels somewhere between his ribcage and his throat. Ignores everything he feels because it’s a lot easier that way.

“Because I like talking to you,” Dream shrugs again, and George knows that he’s looking at him. He knows that because he’s always been able to tell. But that’s just yet another thing to be added to the list of things that George is ignoring right now, “I’m allowed to come and talk to you, right?”

George feels guilty. He doesn’t know why he feels that way right now, because all the guilt has been this uncomfortable build up of years of doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong words and hoping it’ll all blow over. Nothing blows over anymore.

“Right.”

“And besides, I was kind of hoping I could walk home with you. I’m kind of starting to like crashing on your couch,” And when Dream smiles George’s brain is fixated on the word ‘home.’ It’s more than they’ve allowed themselves to ever have.

“Of course. You know you’re always welcome.” Because Dream has truly always been welcome. He’s always been free to waltz into George’s home, into his heart, and take whatever he wants before leaving George to deal with the consequences.

“I also wanted to ask you something,” Dream admits, and his voice is quiet and George’s fists clench because he doesn’t know, he’s starting to get anxious. “I mean, it’s kind of been eating at me for a while. And I feel like if we’re friends, I can ask you stuff like this right?”

“Right.” George responds again, but he doesn’t know where this is headed. He has an idea, but he doesn’t want it to go there, but he also can’t think of any other directions to steer the conversation in. “What did you want to ask?”

Dream laughs under his breath, and he sounds sad. He sounds as if he’s given into something. “I guess I just want to know why? It’s something I’ve never been able to work out.”

“Why what?”

“Why it ended.” Dream clarifies. “Why you ended it.”

And George knew this question would come eventually. He didn’t do any kind of good job explaining it at the time, to himself or Dream, but he’s still kind of stumped at the question, even if it’s so simple. There are hundreds of reasons why, and none of them are good enough to justify it. None of them make enough sense.

“It’s kind of complicated.” George offers, and that’s not good enough either. He knows it’s not. It’s far too short, far too vague to ever work. He can’t look at Dream right now because he knows if he did he’d be faced with pleading eyes, just trying to work out this enigma.

“Simplify it for me, then.” Dream sighs, and he’s less exasperated and more tired. It’s been years, George thinks, Dream’s owed some kind of explanation, “Give me a brief summary.”

“It was because of the distance,” George shrugs, “And I told you that at the time. But I had so many people telling me that it wasn’t going to work, that it’d all fall apart. My biggest fear was that I’d start to resent you because of it, and I’ve never wanted that.”

He doesn’t really think before he continues.

“I loved you too much to ever let that happen.”

He doesn’t know what he really expected when he said that, when he finally confessed what’s been eating away at him for all these years. He feels like there’s a pressure upon his chest that’s finally been lifted, that he’s finally managed to get rid of. But simultaneously, there’s a whole new pressure, and it feels as if the oxygen is slowly being drained from the room.

“You loved me?” Dream asks meekly, and George doesn’t know how to respond. He’s been assuming Dream knew all this time.

“Of course I loved you.” George finally turns to face him, and Dream looks tired, and heartbroken, and George wants to hold him, wants to tell him that it’s okay. He wants to tell Dream that nothing’s ever changed, and sometimes he’s still there on campus and falling for Dream. Some days he can’t do anything else but fall anymore.

“Then why didn’t you tell me?” Dream is looking George in the eyes, and it’s far more intense than George wants, than George needs. He’s never had to explain himself like this. “I don’t know what I would’ve done, now, but-” He stops, letting himself think for a moment, “I would’ve probably asked you to stay.”

George nods.

“I think that’s why I never told you.” George laughs, nervous and under his breath as he looks away. He’s finally figured it all out, “It would’ve made it so much harder to leave. And I’ve always preferred a clean break to letting things fizzle out. I never wanted to hate you, and I didn’t care if that meant you hated me.”

“I’ve never hated you.” Dream tells him.

“I know.”

It goes back to the silence, and it feels natural.

It goes back to the silence and George thinks that’s it, until.

“I loved you too.” Dream murmurs, and George is unsure if he’s even meant to hear it.

“I know you did,” George nods, “You told me at the time. I’ve always felt guilty that I never said it back.”

“No, but I really meant it.”

There’s something heartbreakingly genuine in Dream’s voice, and George wants to break down.

“Do you ever regret it?” Dream asks George, “Ending it like that?”

“Everyday.” George confesses, “Most of the time I regret ending it all together. It was stupid. But I can’t change it.”

“You can’t change the past,” Dream agrees, and he places a hand on George’s shoulder, turning him to face Dream again, and George looks up at Dream with his wide eyes. Dream has told him before that they’re darker than the blackest holes, that he always feels like there’s some kind of gravitational pull bringing him in. George wonders if that’s changed.

“You can help decide the future though.” And Dream looks at George’s lips, and then back at George again.

And. Oh.

It makes all the sense in the world and none at all.

“Then help me decide the future.” George tells him.

Dream laughs, “It’s funny, you know. If I hadn’t met you all those years ago, I’d have probably made a move on you by now.”

 

“There’s nothing stopping you.” George continues, and it’s the explicit permission that Dream’s been looking for.

Kissing Dream is kind of everything that George remembers it being, and he can’t quite describe it. It feels like he’s finally back where he’s supposed to be, that he’s finally opened his eyes and been able to see what he’s been missing all this time. Like he’s finally home.

And George isn’t really sure how it happens, or where he is for that matter. He’s somewhere against a wall in a stairwell, and it’s less than ideal but there’s only so many complaints you can have when the thing you’ve been dreaming about for God knows how long is happening again. Dream’s hand is on his hip, and the touch is enough to remind George about every single time this has happened.

Memories appear in his head like a never ending film reel, and there’s winters where George’s bones got stiff and Dream held him under the sheets until they softened, then springs where George felt like he had finally worked it all out. He had been wrong then but he’s right now. He can’t be wrong when this feels so natural, when their movements are memorised like elaborate choreography.

His heart thuds. So does Dream’s. There is nothing in this moment that could possibly make George feel any more alive than he does right now, nothing that could change the way he feels.

It’s less than an appropriate place to do this, George thinks. Less than an ideal time, too, where anyone could step in. And, right now, things are escalating and he thinks Dream is pulling him closer, his knee pushed between George’s thigh. He wants this to keep going, wants more and more until he can’t have anything else. He’s gluttonous, and every other sin that he can think of.

“Dream,” George mumbles, his voice higher than he wants it to be, and his words are slurred slightly against Dream’s lips. “Dream.” He repeats himself, so Dream pulls away.

“What?” Dream asks, and he’s moving to George’s jaw. He’s probably missed this just as much as George has, probably wants just as much as George does.

“How-” He’s stopped by Dream biting down slightly when he gets to George’s neck, and he gasps quietly before he continues, “How about you walk me home now?”

They can do this. They can pick up where they left off, in what seems like centuries ago.

It’s definitely picking up where they left off, he confirms to himself when they get there.

It’s a brisk walk, half because George is cold and wants to be back in the warmth as soon as possible, and half because Dream’s legs are longer and he’s tugging George along to keep up with his pace.

They barely make it in the door when George fumbles with his keys, and that’s somewhat embarrassing to admit, that they’re so desperate, that they can’t possibly contain themselves. He wonders if it’s been as long for Dream as it has for him. He wonders if it’s affecting him half as much.

If you had to ask, he’d probably say yes.

Dream has George pushed up against his front door because this has been brewing under the surface from the moment they met again, and every moment since. It’s been there for months now. He moves a hand up to Dream’s hair, pulling him down so he can kiss him a little bit easier.

“God,” He murmurs against Dream’s lips, louder than he needs to be and perhaps louder than he wants to be, “I’ve missed you so much.” Dream just laughs breathlessly in response and tugs George in closser, it’s impossibly close. He’s wanted this for so long, thought about it forever, and now it’s finally his. He puts in as much effort as he can to not think of what may come in the morning, about any regrets. Now his brain is just TV static with Dream’s name repeated over and over again.

And they’re stepping back, Dream pushing George back into his room. There’s only so many places this can head, and George is counting on all of them, his hand tightly grasping Dream’s t-shirt as if when he lets go he’ll be letting Dream go along with it. He refuses to let that be the case, refuses to let Dream go anymore.

“George,” Dream groans quietly when he pushes George down onto the bed, and it sounds like a prayer. Say amen, make amends, take back what you’ve lost. He’s on top of George in moments, and they’re both still fully clothed, with neither of them

George feels guilty to admit he can’t actually remember the last time they did this. He thinks it was bittersweet; all limbs tangled and promises that they’d stay in touch over the summer, that George would visit when he could and he’d be back before Dream knew it. Then he wasn’t. Now he is.

Dream pulls away to look at George, and George knows that he looks to be in a complete state. His hair is probably messed up, and he’s slightly disoriented from this whole ordeal, but still George can see something glistening in Dream’s eyes, something that looks a lot like worship, looks a lot like Dream’s going to get on his knees and pray. He wants Dream on his knees, God, he wants Dream over him, and behind him and everywhere else he can think of. He wants to be wholly consumed.

“You’re so pretty,” Dream mutters, and runs his thumb over George’s bottom lip, and George as if on instinct leans in forward, takes it into his mouth. He doesn’t think about it too much, running his tongue along the pad of Dream’s thumb as he looks up at him. He can’t think about how many times he’s remembered this, pictured this happening again, he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to.

“George,” Dream groans again, looking down at him and George wants to drag this out and make it count. That’s all he can do. Dream pulls his hand away and pulls George back up into another kiss, tugging at George’s shirt with his free hand. The message is clear.

George pulls back and sits up, pulling his t-shirt off over his head and watching the way Dream marvels at him. It’s odd, really, the way George feels so ambivalent about the way he looks, naked or otherwise, and Dream can look at him as if he carves the stars into the night sky, as if he hangs the moon every night. George wishes that were the case so he could do that for Dream and Dream alone.

“You’re so perfect,” Dream praises George under his breath again, and George’s own breath hitches slightly when Dream runs his hand from George’s ribcage down to his hip. The touch is light, and careful, and George is so fucking tired of careful now but he’s too afraid to say it.

Instead, he lies there and waits as Dream starts to unbutton George’s pants and George lips his hips so Dream can pull them off. He’s aware of the fact that he’s now mostly naked whilst Dream is still completely clothed, and he feels the cold air around him.

“Come on,” George tells Dream, but it comes off a lot needier than George expected it to sound, and he tugs at Dream’s shirt, “I wanna see you too.” And it’s as if Dream would do literally anything George asks because he’s pulling his shirt off in seconds. He’s always been this way, eager, and fast, but he used to be so careless. Now he touches George as if he’s fine china, as if he could shatter with one wrong move.

And when Dream, fucking finally, takes his shirt off George wants to gasp and maybe he gets it. It’s nothing too different, nothing too extraordinary but it’s Dream. He doesn’t know how else to word it, and now he’s getting desperate. Now he’s pulling Dream back down, and wrapping a leg around him, keeping him in place. George wants, and he wants so bad. He’s not sure when he’s going to give up and just take it.

“Dream,” George’s voice borders on a whimper when Dream moves to kiss down his neck. It’s all too much but it’s not enough and he’s trying to rut up against Dream, “Please.” He doesn’t know what he’s asking for anymore.

“George,” Dream responds, and moves a hand to George’s hips, stilling then, “God, are you sure? You want this right?” And George almost whines when Dream stops him, but doesn’t. He’s gone without this for so long, he deserves it, deserves all of it.

“Dream, I need this,” George confirms, and he looks up at him with wide eyes, pleading almost. This has always been their dynamic. Except now it’s changed, they’re not in some shitty dorm room, and there’s no time limit anymore, there’s no end in sight. George just has to reach out and take what’s his.

He fully intends to do so.

But before he can ask for anything, Dream’s asking him, voice quiet and almost breathless, “God, can I suck you off? Please?” And it's an indication, to some extent that Dream is somewhere near as desperate as he is. Dream might have been missing this just as much as George has. He wonders if Dream remembers the last time better than George can.

“Please,” George’s voice cracks when he asks, because Dream is reaching down to rub him over his underwear. It’s slow but it’s more than George has had for someone else since he moved to the states, even if that’s embarrassing to admit. He moves his hips to rut against Dream’s hand before Dream moves.

George is lying back on his unmade bed and as he stares at the ceiling. It’s as white as ever and it keeps him grounded in the otherwise surreal situation. He feels Dream palm him again over his underwear and he lets out a quiet noise, if slightly muffled. He thinks he curses under his breath. It’s been too long.

And when Dream finally pulls his underwear down he feels oddly exposed, feels the urge to cover up, because Dream’s so close and he hasn’t been this close in years. It feels humiliating. It feels like he’s coming home.

“God, you’re gorgeous,” Dream murmurs again, pressing a kiss to George’s hipbone, and George can just feel himself flushing red.

“Hurry up,” He means to sound demanding and cool, but it doesn't work, especially when his hips keep twitching off the bed. He wants Dream so badly, so bad that he even leans up slightly, resting on his elbows to look, and it’s such a sight.

Dream is kneeling between George’s legs, and George can’t see his face properly in the dark but he’s sure, he’s so fucking sure, that Dream is smirking right now. He’s half pissed, and half needy. The side that needs Dream right now takes over, and he gives Dream one of the looks that’s always worked, when his eyes get all big and he tells Dream how much he wants him without saying much of anything at all.

Dream is definitely smirking when he begins to take George into his mouth. George whimpers, and then instantly throws his hand over his mouth to try and suppress that, stop it from happening again.

Dream pulls off even though he’s barely begun, and looks up at George, “No, I want to hear you.” And his tone is demanding, and George has never been good at saying no, at disobeying Dream. He puts his hand away with a whine, instead twisting it in his bedsheets, “Good boy,” Dream praises him before going back to George’s cock, wrapping his lips around the tip again and sinking down.

And maybe it’s partially because George hasn’t done this in God knows how long, or maybe because it’s Dream, and Dream has always known how to get George like this, but George whines and let’s his head fall back, his hips jerking up. He expects Dream to stop him, push them back down, but he doesn’t. He let’s George buck up.

George doesn’t push it though, and let’s Dream do what he wants. He feels as Dream relaxes his throat, taking George all the way in, and George keens. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands so he moves one to Dream’s hair, tugging. His hips thrust upwards and he’s so desperate for this, and he’s missed this so much. He’s missed Dream so much.

“Dream,” George keeps repeating his name, voice high pitched as he feels himself lose the control he’s been trying to hard to maintain over these past few months, “God, fuck, Dream.” He sounds wrecked and he knows it. And he knows Dream loves that, because Dream told him that all those years ago. He knows how to act to wreck Dream in exactly the same way.

And it’s so good, it really is. But George wants more. He’s always been so greedy when it comes to Dream, so insatiable.

Dream moves his hand that he had previously had splayed out on George’s thigh to move lower, pressing his thumb against George’s hole. He’s not going to push it in, it’s dry after all, but it’s enough to remind George of what else is to come. He bucks his hips forward again and tightens the hand in Dream’s hair.

When George looks down at Dream, he looks fucking incredible. He’s watching George, watching all of his reactions and small movements, speeding up and slowing down at exactly the right time. And he’s so eager, he can take all of George in without even trying. He looks so far gone, but George knows he probably looks even worse.

Dream pulls off to catch his breath, looking up at George all dazed and seemingly starstruck. He grins and George wants to die, he thinks he could die right there watching Dream. Dream eventually speaks up, voice mildly hoarse from the slight abuse, “Do you have lube? If not I can get you off like this, but I really want to fuck you.” Dream tells George.

It’s the bluntness that makes George moan when he nods, closing his eyes slightly as he takes a breath, “God, yeah. Wait a second.” George leans over to reach for his bedside table, opening one of the drawers and rummaging through it for a second. He might not have gotten laid in a while, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been getting off. He’d been feeling guilty about it, the way he began to picture Dream every time he did it, but in this moment he feels anything but guilt.

When Dream got the lube, he quickly squeezed some of it onto his fingers, rubbing it over George’s entrance. George knows, really, that this is barely anything. It shouldn’t be affecting him in the way it is at all because Dream isn’t really doing anything, but he still squirms slightly, unused to the touch. It’s like old times, he almost wants to say. It’s like they used to be.

Dream doesn’t warn George when he pushes two fingers in, he just does it, and George thinks he quietly cries out. If that wasn’t enough, Dream licks a stripe up the underside of George’s cock, before enveloping the tip in his mouth.

“Oh my god, Dream,” George whines, his hand going straight back to Dream’s hair and tugging. It’s so good and it’s like nothing he’s had in forever as he’s stuck between pushing up into Dream’s mouth and back onto his fingers.

Dream’s taking his time though, being careful as he stretches George out, scissoring his fingers slightly and listening as George falls apart underneath him. The only thought that permeates George’s mind right now is that he’s Dream’s, nothing else. And Dream’s always had that effect, always been able to be the only thing on George’s mind, but it still shocks him.

Dream crooks his fingers slightly and George makes a small noise, before Dream moves them and does the same thing. This time George keens loudly, and he’s almost shocked at how loud he’s being right now. And he’s never been able to be loud with Dream. It’s always been hushed nights in dorm rooms while George bit down on the pillow. It’s not like that anymore. He feels all grown up.

George notices when Dream’s free hand places itself on George’s thigh, digging his fingers and God, George is so turned on. He doesn’t know what to do when Dream’s there like this, when he’s doing so much. It’s been far too long. It’s somehow so much better than George’s memory would ever have him believe. So much better than rose tinted movie scenes, this is now. George fucking loves the present.

Dream eventually pulls off, pulls away, and he still looks wrecked. They ruin each other because they know exactly how to, because some things never change. Not really.

“Dream, please,” George repeats over and over, looking down at him. He’s still pushing his fingers into George, twisting them and bending them in ways that he knows will elicit some excessively lewd reaction from George. But it’s not enough, it’s never enough with Dream now.

There’s some noise outside, the passing cars. They don’t know anything about the scene taking place within George’s bedroom. He’s not losing anymore.

George tugs at Dream’s hair, his hand still there, “Dream, I need you to fuck me right now. Please.”

He wants Dream so badly, wants Dream to use him, and he wants Dream to treat him like the most precious thing that’s ever existed. He wants so much, wants the world, but also he’s content to just have Dream here.
Dream pulled his fingers out of George, who whines at the loss, but is so much more excited for what he knows is coming next.

He realises, when Dream moves back up onto the bed, that Dream is still half dressed, still wearing his jeans. For a brief moment, George is incredibly unhappy and twice as desperate, when he moves to take Dream’s jeans off himself. He feels even more exposed, knowing Dream has seen all of him again when there’s still so much for George to witness, still so much that he’s missed.

Dream’s hard, and he can see that, knows this as he pressed his hand against Dream, just so he can hear him groan. He also knows that Dream is big, but he’s obviously always known that, especially with the way their relationship began. Still, he finds himself growing more and more eager by the minute as he helps undress Dream, pulling off his jeans and underwear in one go.

When he does, he takes Dream in his hand and strokes him a few times, and makes a mental note that he needs to suck Dream’s cock later on. Maybe tomorrow if he’s too tired for it. God it’s almost embarrassing how he’s aching for this.

“Can I ride you?” He asks Dream, and his voice is quiet, but he almost shocks himself. He’s tired of waiting and he wants to take this into his own hands. He wants to feel Dream in every way, he wants Dream to watch him do it. He’s been yearning for Dream to watch him fall apart ever since they reunited, and he’s going to get the chance.

“God, George, yeah,” Dream responds, out of breath, but he doesn’t move back up to rest against the headboard before he leans in to kiss George again. George notes, vaguely because he can’t think all too much right now, that this feels right. It feels like this is exactly where George is supposed to be.

Dream’s pants are left discarded at the bottom of the bed as he moves to sit at the top. George grabs the lube as Dream gets more comfortable, applying more of it to his own hole.

“Wait, do you have a condom?” Dream asks, and George’s mind blanks. As stupid as it is he hadn’t thought of that.

“Shit, Dream.” He thinks for a moment, because he’s genuinely unsure.

“Look,” Dream begins, “I got, uh, tested like a little while ago. It’s a long story, really, but I haven’t been with anyone since. I don’t know if you’re…” He trails off, and George shakes his head.

“No, I’m clean. I got tested before I came here. Just in case.” George had been extremely paranoid about it at one point, actually, but he doesn’t want to bring that up just now.

“So do you want to keep going? We can stop if you’re not-” Dream is cut off when George leans forward and borders on smashing his lips against Dream’s. It’s brief, and messy, and George mainly does it to stop Dream worrying.

“No, it’s fine. It’s you.” And it’s not the safest logic but it’s some kind of logic all the same.

He straddles Dream and reaches back to stroke his dick, coating it in a bordering excessive amount of lube. But George hadn’t been lying before, Dream’s big. He knows that very well, knowledge stemming from a lot of experience in that field. He knows, also, that he won’t be able to stop himself once he starts, and it’s easier to make the initial push as clean as possible.

“Are you okay?” Dream asks, when George turns to face him again, holding Dream in place and preparing to push down, preparing for this all to become real again.

“More than okay,” George affirms, and it’s true. He feels good, better than he’s felt in forever and it’s all because of Dream. Dream looks proud of himself almost, but that look is wiped off of his face when George starts to push down, a loud moan coming out quickly from his lips.

There’s some resistance when George tries to push the head in as his muscles resist, but then it’s in and George knows his face is screwing up in pleasure, knows Dream is probably watching him. After the tip goes in, it’s more of a smooth slide down, and he pushes down quickly, maybe quicker than he should, until he’s fully seated on Dream’s cock.

He presses his forehead against Dream’s, a litany of quiet curses mixed in with Dream’s name falling from his lips as only white hot pleasure takes over his mind. It’s far too much, but he wants so much more. He wants Dream now, wants all of him.

He wants to reach back, touch where they’re now connected, conjoined. His brain is too fuzzy to realise the reality of the situation, and if he were more present he would be having some form of spiritual awakening right now. All that’s in his mind right now is the repeated acknowledgement that Dream is here, and that it’s Dream that’s inside him right now. It’s surreal. It’s perfect.

He gives himself a few more moments to adjust before, he feels Dream wrap a hand around his dick. He whimpers at the touch, moving his hips forward to fuck into Dream’s hand, which results in him then fucking back onto Dream. He repeats the motion a few more times until he’s able to build a steady pace. He can feel Dream’s pulse. It’s beating harder and faster than George has ever known it to.

He presses his lips to Dream’s in some vague attempt to stop anything stupid from spilling out, to stop anything that he’ll regret later. But it doesn’t fully work.

“God, you’re so big. Missed this,” He mumbled, and it’s slightly slurred but it works for now, “Missed the way you fill me up. No one else does.” It’s not quite a confession of missing each other, but it’s close enough and he can feel Dream smile when he confesses it.

“Yeah?” Dream asks, “Is it only me?” And George pushes back a little harder when he feels Dream’s hips buck up to meet his. George knows that Dream is possessive, but he’s forgotten how much he liked to toy with that.

“Only you,” George nods, “Used to fuck myself thinking about you. It never worked, never compared to this.” His speech is staggered and punctuated with the fact that Dream is holding him in place and fucking up into him harder than before, and it’s hard to formulate words when the only thing going on in his head is a mix of the words, ‘yes’, ‘please, and ‘more’.

“What about when you were with other people?” He asks, “Did you pretend they were me?” George lets out a helpless groan and nods, his chest flushing red at the question.

“Yes- fuck,” Dream pushes in hard and deep and knocks the wind out of George, and his head falls forward again to rest on Dream’s shoulder. He’s long since given up on contributing, and instead fucks back half heartedly against Dream, already too far gone to do much else. George is so fucking ruined.

It’s then that Dream moves his hand to the small of George’s back and turns them, rolling them over so he’s on top of George, and George is spread out underneath him. He feels exposed, like Dream can see everything, Dream can feel anything. He wants to cry out.

When Dream looms over him, he remembers just how much bigger Dream is physically. He really never notices it until now, able to hold his own in social settings. But now, seeing Dream like this, there’s nothing more appealing to him than to lay back and let Dream do what he wanted.

“God, I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” Dream murmurs into George’s ear, and George bears his neck, letting Dream kiss down it, feeling Dream bare his teeth. He’s tired of feeling sorry about the bared teeth, “Ever since I saw you in that fucking hoodie. Knew you were mine, always have been.” He bites down, only hard enough to leave a mark, but not nearly hard enough to Draw blood.

George wraps his arms around Dream, nails digging into his back. “Fuck,” George sobs out, and wraps his legs around Dream too. He holds him in place, keeps him there inside George. He never wants to end this, never wants Dream to stop fucking him. There’s an echo of ‘no one else’s’ sung by a chorus in George’s head. It’s going to push him over the edge eventually.

George is vulnerable and needy as he lets Dream fuck into him, underneath him wailing. He’s taking advantage of the fact he can be loud now, endless praise slips off his tongue and he cries out even louder when Dream bites down again, near the space where his neck meets his shoulder. He’s tired of playing games at all, especially now he knows he’s already won.

George can imagine, and would maybe be able to know for sure if he wasn’t consumed completely by Dream’s presence, that the sounds are probably incredibly sinful, something that should probably be kept exclusively for Dream and George. Maybe for the neighbours also, depending on exactly how thin those walls are. George guesses he can test it out here.

And George only wants more. He keeps on asking for more and more.

Making up for lost time.

George knows exactly when Dream is starting to get close, and after all this time that hasn’t changed. His hips stutter occasionally, and his timing grows all the more erratic, and he stops caring at all for George and just follows some primal instinct within him to keep going until he cums. And George knows this.

This is why George moves his own hand down to start quickly stroking himself. He’s also on the edge, he’s been there since they walked through the door, and he’s just so fucking close. He looks at Dream, whose face is all blissed out and perfect, and gorgeous, and George has never felt so fucking alive.

Dream moves his own hand, pushing George’s out of the way so he can stroke George in time with his own unpredictable thrusts. George makes an effort, fucking into Dream’s fist, and then back onto his cock.

He doesn’t have enough time to warn Dream before he starts to cum over both of their chests, sobbing as he does so, and Dream doesn’t stop, stroking him until he’s fully complete. George can say there’s truly nothing going on in his head past that point as he just falls back and let’s Dream use him until he’s also finished.

The drag of Dream’s dick inside of him walks the line of pain and pleasure with how sensitive George is after he’s finished, and his dick twitches despite everything, showing slight interest. But nothing more comes of that.

Dream isn’t too far behind George though, not really. He leans down to kiss George when he does cum and he murmurs vague, nondescript praise as he does so. He keeps calling George such a good boy, and all his as he empties himself inside George. When it happens, George just whimpers and can’t help but believe it’s true.

Dream stays there for a moment after it’s over, stays inside George and presses a few more kisses to his lips, and then another to the corner of George’s lips. He murmurs Dream’s name a few times, and pats the back of his thigh. Half of him wants Dream to stay there all night, connecting with George. He likes the idea of the line between where Dream ends and George begins to be blurred.

But the more realistic half of him knows that it’s not exactly the most comfortable situation to be in, and sighs as Dream pulls in. He tries his best not to think about anything spilling out of him.

Dream moves a hand up, the one that isn’t coated in bodily fluids, to push George’s hair out of his face and presses a kiss to his forehead. It’s that kind of caring that Dream has always been with George, and George can hardly stand it. Not tonight at least, after he’s been through. He feels fantastic, and exhausted and he knows he’s going to have to get up and shower, then change the duvet because there’s no doubt lube, and everything else imaginable staining it now.

The less appealing parts of all this. But it’s still worth it.

It’s still worth it when George looks up at Dream from where Dream is practically straddling and smiles in a way he doesn’t think he’s smiled for years now, and he sees Dream smile back. He’s got it all sorted, he knows he’s got it all sorted, and it’s such a comforting thought.

He sighs as he pushes Dream off, and sits up to press a kiss to his lips, softer than any of the others exchanged previously that night. Instead it was something special, and intimate in some other way. It’s the kind of kiss they used to share after fights, and before Dream left to fly back home. The kind of thing George didn’t think he’d ever be able to have with Dream again, and the kind he used to think about back in England, back after he’d lost him.

He hasn’t lost him now, not yet at least, because just now Dream is sitting back as George attempts to stand, and helping him keep his balance when it’s maybe not the best idea because he’s kind of shaky just now.

“Do you want me to change the duvet?” Dream asks, voice soft, “And I’ll get a washcloth and clean you up. You can shower in the morning.” Dream’s asking to take care of him. Dream’s asking George to let him care for him like a lover. George nods, climbing back onto the bed, slightly relieved as he lies down.

Dream returns not long later to clean him up, careful to be gentle. And George keeps saying he’s tired of being careful, but maybe not in these moments. Maybe he’s forgotten just how tender they can be, just how in love they once were. Just how in love George feels like he’s going to be soon if Dream keeps this up.

And then Dream changes the sheets, tossing George a hoodie to sleep in, and it feels too intimate. It’s Dream’s hoodie that he throws to George, the old one from years ago, the one that the print has faded on, and the sleeves are kind of worn down from George wearing it for so long. He pulls it on over his head and tries to ignore how his happy beating heart thuds quicker and quicker.

Dream is looking at him in that way, again, that way where George feels as if he’s done something incredible. Instead he’s sitting there in Dream’s clothes, with a few bruises staining his skin like soiled ivory, and he’s just feeling this mix of sore and complete. He’s missed feeling like this.

“Are you staying?” George asks meekly, and maybe how tired he is comes out as he speaks because he yawns, leaning back in bed as he watches Dream.

“Do you want me to stay?” Dream asks hesitantly. He’s still naked and George thinks it’s reminiscent of some form of God, in his foggy brain. He thinks of the wonders of the world and wonders if Dream could possibly be the eighth. He thinks about the way the constellations twinkle in the night sky and knows they’re never going to compare to the sight before him now.

His blinds are only half shut and the soft glow of the streetlights illuminate Dream’s bare skin. George is going to remember this moment for the rest of his life. It’s beautiful, it’s a masterpiece, and it’s just for him. No one else will ever get to see this. George nods as he moves over, makes room for Dream.

“Always.”

Dream doesn’t hesitate to join George after that.

He’s only vaguely aware of it, in that rather physically and emotionally exhausted state, until he feels Dream behind him, and feels Dream wrapping his arms around his waist and pulling George against his chest. George feels warm, feels Dream pull the covers up around them. George, in his own mind, can somehow transport himself back to years ago, when he was younger and stupider.

He thinks about Dream’s hands, thinks about Dream’s arms wrapped around him just now. The way their legs are tangled together and he holds George in place. There’s so much to take in. And he hates to feel as if he’s just rehashing old moments, recreating them frame by frame until the end inevitably comes, but it doesn’t feel like that. It feels now. George isn’t scared anymore, refuses to let himself be.

“You know, I don’t think friends do this,” George murmurs quietly, and Dream rests his head at the back of George’s neck, his nose buried in at the nape.

“Yeah?” Dream asks, and presses a kiss there, just above the space between his shoulder blades, “Good thing we’ve never really been friends.”

George laughs softly, tired and fucked out. It’s been an eventful night, he tells himself, he’s allowed to be like this. He’s allowed to be like this for the first time in forever.

He forgets that there was ever heartbreak in the first place.

“Going to sleep?” Dream asks, and George can’t even properly answer anymore, only hum affirmatively to accompany a nod and Dream holds him tighter, “Night.”

George hums again, and he’s drifting off quickly, quicker than he expected to. He underestimated how much this would wear him out.

But just as he’s about to sleep, and he won’t really recall this clearly in the morning, but he swears he hears Dream murmur something in his ear, quietly as if he isn’t really meant to hear it, as if it’s still some kind of secret that George hasn’t earned the right to learn yet.

It sounds a lot like something that George could never say himself, not because it's not true, but because he’s still more terrified of all this than he’d care to admit.

It sounds a lot like ‘I love you.’

--

It’s the morning after, and bright light streams through the window because George forgot to close his blinds again. That’s the first thing he notices.

The second thing he notices is he’s still kind of sore, as if when he moves he’ll just start aching again, and so he stays put. He’ll put off moving for as long as he possibly can.

The third thing he notices, and it should probably be the first, but George is hardly the perceptive type, is the man wrapped tightly around him, coiling like a snake. George can’t stop the momentary panic, before he remembers quickly and realises that it’s only Dream in bed with him. And then realises it’s Dream! Holy shit.

Dream’s face has fallen down to George’s shoulder, snoring softly as his hold on George has loosened, only enough for George to wriggle free if he wanted to. He doesn’t want to. He instead leans into the touch a little more. It’s a cold December morning, but the combination of the big hoodie he’s wearing, and the way Dream is wound around him helps keep him warm. He feels lucky, as if he might not deserve this, and then quickly banishes the thought.

Dream is a heavy sleeper, and George knows this, and isn’t sure he wants to disrupt that. Instead, he allows himself to enjoy the moment, feeling completely submerged, drowning in this, with no intentions of saving himself this time.

But instead of what George remembers, Dream sleeping pretty still, never tossing and turning whatsoever, Dream does move. He grips onto George and pulls him in closer, holding him tight like he never wants George to go. He has a leg draped over George’s and he’s trapping him in the hold. George feels something in his chest swell and almost explode. It’s too much, but it’s finally enough for George.

He closes his eyes and smiles to himself, wide and happy. Dream can’t see it, but he hopes he can feel it somewhere.

They lie in for another few hours, because it’s another while before Dream wakes up, and George is only ever really half awake as he drifts in and out of sleep, until he finally falls back asleep for good, lulled into it by the comforting presence of Dream’s arms wrapped tightly around him like he’s never planning on letting George go. Like this is where George will belong for the rest of his life. It sounds good to him.

When he wakes up again, though, the other side of the bed is empty.

George has a momentary panic, where he curses himself for falling asleep again and not somehow finding a way to get Dream to stay, convince him that he belongs here alongside George and always has, but he’s calmed by the fact he can hear movement in the kitchen, and Dream’s spot on the bed is still warm. He hasn’t been gone for long, and he won’t stay gone.

George grabs one of the pillows, wrapping his arms around it while he waits, sleepy and just wanting to be back in Dream’s arms. He feels only slightly pathetic as this happens, only slightly needy at the fact he can’t go five minutes without Dream there, now. But he’s always like this the morning after he’s been with Dream, it’s weird he can use present tense for that now too.

He’s always clingy and loving, more than he usually is. It’s almost catlike the way he pushes himself against Dream, demanding attention.

He’s no longer crying over what he’s lost from not being near Dream. He’s no longer crying at all.

Dream returns pretty soon afterwards with a glass of water in hand. “You’re up then?” He asks when he sees George awake, setting the glass down at George’s bedside, “I was trying not to wake you. You looked pretty peaceful.”

George shakes his head, “I kind of woke up of my own accord. Besides, it’s like two in the afternoon,” He glanced at his phone, “I was going to wake up soon anyway.”

“C’mere,” George tells Dream, patting the spot in bed next to him, “I’m getting cold. You’ll need to help me out there.” And Dream obliges, quickly climbing into bed alongside George. George turns to face him this time, tucking his head under Dream’s chin with a sigh as he rested his head against Dream’s chest.

“Thought you had left when I woke up,” George mumbles, and his voice is still sleep soft. Dream can probably hear that. “I started to panic, to be honest. I’d thought I’d scared you off this time.”

“You could never do that,” Dream presses a kiss to the top of George’s head, on top of his hair, and George thinks that they should maybe talk about this. They, in fact, should definitely talk about this because it’s going to eat away at George until they do, where they stand now. But he doesn’t, and instead melts into Dream’s arms, “Not when you haven’t scared me off so far.”

“I’ve missed you,” George whispers, and it’s a lot more honest than George intended it to be, “Really, I have. Even when you’ve been back in my life, I’ve been missing you. I really didn’t think I’d ever have you like this again.” He can blame it all on the all consuming hunger he’s been feeling since he left Dream, since he flew across the ocean and ended it all.

“You don’t have to miss me anymore,” Dream tells him, voice honest. “I promise.” He tugs George in closer, comforting him in a way that’s so simple, but feels so special when it’s Dream doing it. “I missed you too.”

It’s odd to pick up where you left off, especially when it comes to Dream and George, because they left off on a rather bittersweet note depending on what you count as the end. It’s either a hug at an airport and a promise to call often, that nothing could break them apart even though the both knew that there was no truth to any of their statements and wishes. Or, it ends in George’s bedroom, his muffled voice through a cell phone hoping that all the feedback will make the tears less obvious.

He’ll never ask Dream if they actually were.

And now his limbs are all tangled up with Dream’s, and George can pretend it ended in a dorm room when Dream held him close like he’s doing right now. They’re not all that different, their hearts still beat the same, and they still hold so tightly onto one another you’d think they were trying to merge, blend in with one another.

George has been so tired, he deserves a break.

He may not deserve much but he deserves that.

“Are you staying again tonight?” George asks Dream, a protective arm around his waist encouraging him not so subtly to say yes, to stay the night. Stay the week, stay the month. In fact, George isn’t sure how Dream managed to walk in here without realising he’s never really going to leave.

“I don’t think I can leave,” Dream admits, and George smiles at that, laughs a little, and leans up to kiss Dream’s chin.

“You shouldn’t. I have a feeling I’m going to get really used to having you around.”

--

It gets a lot simpler as time goes on, Dream and George.

It’s a lot slower this time, a lot less insistent that every single moment must mean the world. There’s no clambering to find some sort of poetry in their everyday life like there used to be, no more living on a time limit. They can simply exist. It’s one of the most liberating things that George has ever been through and he legitimately cannot imagine it any other way anymore.

Dream is at George’s place more often than not because it’s close to work, and he likes walking George home, thinks it’s cute and romantic. George can’t disagree, not really.

They’re not quite boyfriends again, because they haven’t really discussed titles, haven’t spoken about what it would be like to have a future. Maybe that’s one thing that still hasn’t differed after all this time. But it’s okay, because they’re a lot better in other regards.

They slot into each other’s lives perfectly, and George wishes he could say that it’s like no time passed at all, that things like this stay the same no matter what. He would probably be lying though because they have changed, in little ways. It’s not of too much concern, though, because all the important bits have remained.

George has learned to love the present, tired of losing all of his love and joy in that fruitless desperation to keep it alive. He’s tired of being tired. Now George just lives.

He also realises he’s been a lot better at missing Dream than he has at remembering him, because everytime a new detail is brought to light, something that’s slipped his mind after all these years, it’s like an epiphany.

“You talk in your sleep, you know that?” Dream asks him at some point, and he’s in George’s bed like he always is, and half his wardrobe belongs to George now because it helps with his possessive side, and because he thinks they look better on George. There’s light streaming in from the windows that paints them gold.

Maybe of all the ancient wonders of the world, George and Dream, as the one noun, are one of the few that remains standing. Maybe they managed to pass the cruel and unforgiving test of time, and although the walls are renovated, they haven’t quite crumbled. Perhaps they’re still standing all these years later.

“Yeah?” George hums, partially too lazy to engage in a proper conversation with Dream, “What do I say?”

“Nonsense mostly,” Dream shrugs, and George can feel him move, “But you said something last night and I wanted to check with you that it’s true.”

George laughs, low in his chest, and curls in against Dream, “Mhm? What did I say then?”

“You said you loved me.”

“Oh,” George pauses for a moment, thinks of what to say, and then gives up on trying to formulate any perfect sentence. “Well that’s true then. I do. Love you, I mean.”

He can’t see Dream smile, because his eyes are closed, but he knows that he is. He can feel Dream’s heart skip a beat. He knows his own is doing the same.

“Yeah? Then I love you too.”

“I know.”

 

George is glad the world is small, he really is, because maybe if it were a little bigger he wouldn’t be here. Maybe he would’ve never met Dream in the first place.

He doesn’t think about it too much. Just lets himself be grateful, and then he feels Dream’s arms tighten around him.

Instead, he thinks about that.

And then he thinks about before, and how everyone told him that nothing lasts forever. He’s starting to believe that that was bullshit, and that they were all just scared that it would outlast however long they could love it. Nothing will be able to outlast this now.

He thinks about how he’s winning, and there’s no signs of that changing any time soon.