Valentine’s Day was the day she made her first appearance.
It was a day that promised spring and warmer weather, the morning sun cut through his curtains and bathed his room in the warm glow of a fading winter. It tickled his nose and threatened to stir him from his slumber.
Maybe the feeling of the sun in his ear wouldn’t have been enough to truly wake him, but the distinct inkling of being watched surely did.
Dream sniffled, opened one eye to the glaring light and instead found a round shadow in his window. He lifted his head and blinked away sleep as the shape sharpened into something cat-like. Perhaps he was still dreaming? He rubbed his eyes to be sure as he pushed himself up on the soft sheets.
But no, he wasn’t dreaming. There was a cat staring at him, perched on his windowsill as if she owned the place. If Dream weren’t so confused, he would’ve laughed when the cat mimicked his yawn, then made her escape.
He watched her tail disappear before he finally forced himself out of bed, shoulders popping with the stretch of his arms as he made his way around to the window. The glass was warm when he slid it open, a humid breeze caressing his face and tousling his hair as he stared out at his backyard.
The cat was perched on the fence across from him, still staring.
He stared back until she finally disappeared over the ledge.
Dream left his window open the rest of the day.
After that first encounter, which Dream chalked up to a fluke, he didn’t think much about the cat. There were plenty of street cats around the area, and it wasn’t the first time he’d run into one. It was just strange to think about how long that cat must’ve been staring at him while he slept.
It wasn’t until a few days later that she would make another appearance.
It was the day he was expecting Sapnap over for dinner, his phone wedged between his ear and his shoulder as they bickered about food preparation.
“Dude, I already got the steak, I just forgot the seasoning!” Dream exclaimed, trying to pull on his shoes and reach for his keys at the same time.
“How can you forget the seasoning? Are you that afraid of spice you don’t keep any in your house?” Sapnap asked incredulously.
Dream dragged a hand down his face as he fumbled his keys. “No! My mom usually-“ His eyes snagged mid-sentence on a familiar shadow in his window.
“Heellllooooo?” Sapnap drew out over the line.
Dream didn’t respond, frozen in place, fearful any sudden movement may scare her off. The cat only blinked big green eyes at him, seeming content in watching his struggle with dinner and shoes.
Truly, she looked smug. Or maybe Dream wasn’t used to cat-body-language and was just projecting.
Dream jerked at the sudden volume in his ear, tugging his phone from his shoulder and pulling it up to his mouth instead.
“I’ll call you back, just be here by six.” He said directly into the speaker before promptly hanging up.
His eyes flickered back to the window. The cat hadn’t moved. He forgot about tying his shoes as he slowly crept towards the windowsill.
She watched him carefully but remained completely still as he slowly unlatched the window and pulled it open.
Her tail flicked idly. He was surprised she wasn’t as skittish as he initially anticipated. As soon as he brought his hand close to her face, she leaned in to sniff for a second before promptly rubbing her cheek into his knuckle.
Dream chuckled, bringing his hand up to scratch her ears, which she enjoyed greatly. It only took a few head scratches for her to start purring softly, pushing her head up into his hand for more attention.
“Not so scared huh?” He hummed gently. “Enjoying the sun?”
Her fur was warm from it as he rubbed down her back, she was doing little circles around his windowsill and looked like the happiest cat on the planet. Dream’s heart warmed considerably, enough to forgive the cat for peeping on his argument.
It might take a bit more for him to forgive Sapnap, as just when the cat was content to lay down for a bit, his ringtone started blaring in his pocket.
And maybe the cat was more skittish than Dream thought, because as soon as his phone went off, she took off into the yard in a startled haste. He watched her disappear under a hole in his fence near his peach tree.
After a deep sigh and another snappy argument with Sapnap, Dream finally made it out of his house with defeat hanging on his shoulders.
At the store, Dream added some cat food and bowls to his cart along with the steak seasoning, and it was during his drive back to his house that it hit him, the perfect name.
The street cat named Patches continued to make regular visits from then on. Prompted by the new addition of food to his windowsill, and then eventually catnip, he gets a tiny bed out there at one point which she had slept in exactly once before the April showers.
“I think you’re gonna need another cat bed.” Sapnap had commented during one of his visits.
Dream tried his best not to get rainwater all over the floor as he tugged in the water-logged pillow.
“Or maybe a new hobby.” Sapnap continued, cringing behind his phone as the bed hit the floor with a wet slap.
“I’m only being nice, it’s like... my good deed of the week y’know?”
“Sounds like attachment issues.”
Dream shot him a glare before looking back out at the overcast sky. A huff escaped him as he dealt with the ruined cat bed.
It worried him, the rain. Usually the sound of it pulled him into peaceful nights and contentment, now it made him anxious. It left his jaw aching with nerves for Patches and where she could be out in the cold. Despite the humidity of the spring storms, he had many restless nights thinking about if she were possibly soaked and freezing out there alone.
Matters were only made worse when she went a long week after a particularly bad storm without showing up.
Dream had started going on walks around the neighborhood in the hopes of running into her. It didn’t seem right to put up missing cat posters as, in reality, she wasn’t actually his cat. But he felt responsible for her somewhat, which led him out of the house and on this wild goose chase. Even if he did find her, what would he do? He couldn’t exactly snatch her up and take her home.
Dream was pondering his methods of catnapping, and tapping in the closest vet into his phone, when he turned the corner towards his house.
And there she was, laying out in the middle of the sidewalk. Dream was so focused on google searching ‘how to take care of a cat’ that he nearly tripped over her tiny body.
“What the hell!” He exclaimed in his surprise, flailing his arms and legs to prevent himself from eating shit on the sidewalk.
After his dexterous save, he turned towards her again.
He must’ve yelled too loudly, because Patches was already halfway down the block by the time he registered what had happened.
“Oh, come on.” He started after her, thankful for his long legs that allowed him to quickly catch up. Still, she didn’t seem to register him as “friend” (or the person who’d been feeding her for weeks) as she ran around the corner and darted between his neighbors fencing.
He seriously thought about squeezing through the shrubs after her, decided against it in fear of thorns and who-the-hell-knows-what-else before he turned and ran down the street.
It was madness, truly, he thought to himself as he rounded the corner. Slowed to a power-walk in case he was dumb enough to scare her off again. His head whipped back and forth, not finding her anywhere in sight.
“Of course.” He groaned, running a hand through his hair and finding he was sweating under the blistering sun. He could’ve sworn it wasn’t this hot ten minutes ago.
Still not giving up, however, he continued his walk of shame down the street. He got lucky once, maybe he’d be able to catch her in another sun spot down the road? Though, to be fair, everywhere in Florida was one giant sun spot.
Dream was about halfway down the block when a soft sound caught his attention. It sounded like someone talking, and... was that a meow?
He quickly followed the voice, soon finding himself at the edge of a driveway in a part of the neighborhood he couldn’t remember visiting before.
And there she was, perched under a willow tree in the yard of a small white house with green shutters. Sat under the arm of a man Dream had never seen before.
Without realizing it, Dream was halfway down the driveway and coming to the conclusion with each step that it was a real tragedy he had never met this person before.
He was leaning back against the trunk of the tree, a small notebook in his lap and a pen rested between pale fingers. Part of Dream wondered if this wasn’t actually real, because this man was truly the most beautiful person he had ever seen in his life.
It was kind of unfair, in all honesty. Him with his long lashes, skin brushed pink and freckled from the sun with dark curls to boot. Plus he obviously had some sort of charm with how Patches was lovingly curled into his side like the traitor she is.
Dream was staring. He didn’t really realize how much he was staring until deep brown eyes rose to meet his. They pooled with specks of gold illuminated in the light that cut between branches of the tree and painted the area with an ethereal glow.
It was miserable, and Dream was already charmed as well.
He cleared his throat, rubbed his temple briefly to clear his thoughts before finally speaking.
“Is she yours?” Dream paused, then gestured to Patches, “the cat, I mean.”
The beautiful man, whomst Dream was still trying not to undress with his eyes, chuckled and rubbed Patches’ ear gently.
“No.” His voice floated on the wind, “I was going to ask you that, with how you flew around the corner.”
Dream’s face flamed red, perhaps from the idea that the man had been witness to his mad chase, or perhaps from the fact that beautiful-man’s voice was just as intriguing as the rest of him. Dream hopelessly thought he could listen to that chuckle quite a few more times.
He gave his own nervous laugh, “Yeah. I was just worried about her after the storm, they can get pretty bad.”
Talking about the weather, real smooth.
The man glanced down at Patches, who was now sprawled out in the grass under his palm.
“Funny you say that, I was doing my work out here in the hopes she’d make an appearance after that whole thing.” He said, waving his journal in the air towards Dream.
Dream arched a brow, too many questions already piling up in his head. Mainly: what work he could be doing, where he was from, if he was single-
“She visits you also?” He settled on.
“Well, since I moved here, at least.” A smile warmed his face.
Dream hummed, his accent already curling into his chest and making a home there. He tried not to let his eyes lag on the bottom half of the man’s face.
“I’m George, by the way.” The man, George, grinned.
Dream couldn’t help but feel as though no other name could possibly make him more British.
“I’m Dream.” He said around his own smile.
Patches’ gaze drifted lazily over to him, as if she knew what kind of chaos she had just brought into his life. Dream tried not to give her the stink eye.
“Dream?” George quirked a brow. “Interesting, well, it’s nice to meet you.”
“You too.” Silence descended, Dream at a loss for words for possibly the first time in his life.
He stood there awkwardly. Patted his hands against his shorts. Debated whether it would be inappropriate to steal Patches away from George and run away before he did something stupid.
“You can sit if you want.” George smirked, “You look like you’re melting.”
Dream swiped a hand over his forehead, found it sweaty. In his distraction of George , he hadn’t realized how hot he was standing under the sun. The solace of shade called out to him and he quickly took up his offer of sitting in the shade, against his better judgement.
Sitting and chatting, that’s where this was going. Dream wondered how he ended up here, as he settled down beside them in the grass.
“You’re such a troublemaker, Patches...” Dream muttered under his breath as he rubbed her back.
“You gave her a name?” George laughed.
Dream’s chest swelled, “Well, yeah. You didn’t?”
“No, that’s how you end up running down the street in eighty degree weather like a maniac.”
Dream eyed him, “Right. Because sitting outside, waiting for a cat, while writing code in a notebook doesn’t scream attachment at all.” He smirked.
George snapped his journal shut. “At least I’m being productive!”
Dream wheezed, elbowed his arm lightly because it already felt like the right thing to do. He may have been making fun of George, but the idea of writing out code on paper wasn’t something new to him. It was comforting to know he wasn’t the only one to follow an unconventional process.
“And I applaud you for it!” His laughter melted into another warm smile, Dream’s face was already starting to hurt from all this smiling. “Can I see it though?”
“You want to see my code?” George arched a brow at him.
“Of course.” He extended his hand.
George’s eyes flickered towards his hand, then back up to his eyes. Dream felt his cheeks heat slightly under his thoughtful gaze, hoping the hot weather gave him an excuse for a pink face.
Eventually though, George placed his journal gingerly in Dream’s open palm, his skin buzzing where their fingers brushed as he pulled it into his lap. With the absence of the book, George instead chose Patches as his replacement. Dream side-glanced him as he settled her into his lap and leaned over Dream’s shoulder to watch as he slowly opened the first page.
“You have experience?” George asked as Dream’s eyes began to flicker over the first few lines.
“Well, coding minecraft.” He grinned.
George’s eyes glimmered with intrigue, Dream tried not to stare too long. He already knew it’d become increasingly hard to focus on what was sitting in front of him, instead of the man at his side.
And he was right.
They chatted over code for longer than he gave himself credit for, to be fair. Dream even caught a few errors which, when called out, caused George to frown slightly and catch his lip between his teeth. And then Dream’s thoughts began to hopelessly spiral off of code, and the heat, and the cat, and into George . With Dream’s racing thoughts, it wasn’t long before the conversation pulled off into talking about other things.
Dream learned that George had moved only a few months ago from London, listened to him talk about his new job and how he’d been adjusting to such a new place. When asked, Dream suggested fun places to visit and when George began talking as though Dream was already invited to go with him, his heart bloomed in his chest.
He was surprised Patches had not run off in the midst of their long talk, but whenever Dream worried about talking their ears off, George just kept asking. When Dream pushed, George pulled, and the words couldn’t come out fast enough because everything George said caused laughter to bubble up from Dream’s chest and Dream would do anything to see that smile on his face when they made a joke. It was made even better when George’s head tipped back in a fit of giggles that wracked his body and Patches finally clambered off to sit between them instead.
Though, even where she sat she was having trouble, the two idiots were squishing her between them with how close they had moved together.
Dream only noticed when their hands brushed together over Patches’ back and lightning shot up his arm where they were pressed together from the elbow up. He felt the heat creep up his neck again and had to tear his eyes away from George out into the horizon to keep himself from doing something stupid.
He only just met the guy after all.
“We’ve been here for a while.” George finally said.
And because Dream couldn’t help himself, he looked at him again.
“Yeah.” He admired his side profile for a selfish moment before his eyes dropped to the cat between them. “What do you think we should do about this one?”
“We?” George asked lightheartedly.
“I just mean, well...” Dream trailed off, let out a breath and rubbed the back of his neck. “She obviously likes you also.”
George was giving him a look that he couldn’t quite interpret, but it sent patters through his chest.
“I was going to take her to the vet tomorrow, or something.” Dream elaborated lamely in the midst of silence.
“We can go together then.” George said matter-of-factly. Dream blinked at him as he stood and tucked his journal under his arm.
Patches didn’t seem too happy about the interruption of her nap, looking up at Dream in a daze.
Before she had the chance to run off and make them chase her through the neighborhood, Dream scooped her up in his arms as he stood up. It was only then, when they were standing at their full height, that he realized how much shorter George was.
George seemed to realize at the same time because his eyes found an interest in his shoes. Dream wondered for a moment if the tips of his ears were pink a couple seconds ago.
“I guess I’ll see you then?” Dream smiled softly.
“At least let me give you my number so you don’t forget or something.” George pulled his phone from his back pocket.
“As if.” Dream retorted, balancing Patches with one arm and fishing his phone out with the other.
George ended up taking his phone to tap his number in, Dream watched him carefully, and when he passed it back their fingers brushed again and Dream felt as though this man would somehow be the death of him.
It was disgustingly poetic and Dream felt like he should pinch himself at some point.
He tried not to follow George up to the door, as if he had walked him home or something romantic like that. Instead, they parted ways at the driveway and Dream spent the whole walk back in a daze.
Things like that don’t just happen.
Dream stepped up to his door, Patches in hand. The sun was setting at his back and casting his front door in a hot orange glow that burned the blush permanently into the back of his neck. Instead of escaping to his air conditioner, Dream smacked his head against his front door and let it simmer.
It did happen, it all happened.
Patches squirmed in his grip, which is what finally got him to peel his forehead off the door.
Big green eyes stared up into his own when he looked down at her.
“This is your fault somehow.” He muttered.
Dream was definitely not projecting a smug look from the cat that time. He let out a huff before finally slipping inside.
Patches warmed up to his place rather quickly. After all, he had managed to salvage her bed and as soon as she found it in the corner she was snuggled up in it. Dream watched her with adoration while he called the vet and set up her appointment for the next day.
George’s number in his phone made it heavy in his palm. He squeezed off the power and mentally prepared himself for the next day with a cold shower, a very cold shower. He tried not to think of warm eyes, nimble fingers, and definitely not pink lips as he went through the motions of the evening.
It wasn’t until he crawled into bed and shivered against his sheets that he felt truly nervous.
George made him nervous. Not many things could do that. It was scary how easily George had already wormed his way into his thoughts, his chest, and the tingling of his fingertips.
George made it easy though.
He made it easy by responding to his text the next morning with a warm reply, instantly soothing Dream’s nerves. Easy in the way he smiled upon seeing Dream at his door, and easy in the way he made everything brighter.
They listened to music with the windows rolled down as Dream drove them to the clinic. It wasn’t too hard to get Patches in the car but George still told him he ought to get a carrier, which Dream agreed with. Though, seeing the cat curled up in George’s lap was a sight he didn’t want to forget any time soon.
“I think she likes you more than me.” Dream laughed, “Maybe you should’ve been the one to take her home.”
George rubbed her ears, “It gives me an excuse to come visit.”
“You’re inviting yourself over?” Dream teased, hoping he didn’t seem too eager.
“You didn’t even get a cat carrier.” George chuckled, “How do I know you can take care of her?”
Dream was still caught on the sound of his laugh but managed out a breathy, “oh, come on now...” Before he merged off the highway.
Dream thought perhaps he was being foolish in his infatuations, thought that maybe he’d be too much for this. But when George stuck to his side in the clinic and put his name on Patches’ paperwork next to Dreams, he wondered if this was just meant to happen.
They were together through her check up, and they were together when they sat worrying over her health in the waiting room only to be greeted with a flawless report. The relief was palpable and they were eager to give her a home, as she seemed to have none.
Together, they adopted her.
“I can’t believe the vet thought we were a couple.” George scoffed, as if they weren’t within an inch of holding hands and giggling like teenagers in the lobby on the way out.
Dream slowly set Patches in the back seat, “Yeah.” He wheezed, resting an arm across the top of the car to stare over at George. “I’m way out of your league.”
“Oh, you are?” George arched a brow at him, a smile ghosting his pretty face. “I guess I’ll have to try harder.” He sighed dramatically before climbing into the passenger seat.
Dream remained frozen for a moment before settling into the car himself. Everything in him burned hot as he drove them home, thinking about how George was carving himself a place in Dream’s life.
And Dream was going to let him.
He let him through the days of petco visits that decorated his house with toys across the floor and a cat toy in the corner of his living room. George left his mark in the hoodies he left behind for an excuse to come visit, or the promise that he just had to visit Patches at least once a day. Dream left his own marks in soft praises when George sat coding on his couch, or in the nights he insisted George come join him for a movie night because the afternoon visits just weren’t enough.
Maybe Dream was falling faster than he thought, he realized, the day he found George curled up with Patches in his bed for a late morning nap. It was the days George wore his clothes and they ate take out together while playing minecraft that wove them together like it was just how it had to be.
Like they just couldn’t get enough.
“Are you even paying attention, Dream?”
Sapnap’s voice dragged him away from the distraction. Distraction being: George sitting on the floor playing with Patches in his living room as if he’d always been there.
“What?” Dream looked to his friend who gave him a deadpan look.
Sapnap grabbed him by his upper arm and dragged him into the kitchen. Dream was too surprised to resist and soon enough they were under fluorescent lights in the silhouette of the moon outside the window.
“What? ” Dream asked again, tugging his arm away.
“Dude, when are you going to just ask George to be your boyfriend so I can stop watching you guys eye fuck each other every time I want to come over for dinner?” Sapnap laid out flatly, “Seriously, I feel more single every night I come over.”
“That’s not my problem!” Dream exclaimed, maybe a bit too loud.
“Come on.” Sapnap crossed his arms, “If you guys resolve the tension maybe you’ll listen to what I’m saying for once.”
Dream deflated with a sigh.
“I’m sorry.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, “I know I’ve been distracted, I just don’t want to force George into anything.”
“He’s practically moving into your house one clothing item at a time, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.” Sapnap smirked.
“Yeah.” Sapnap patted Dream’s shoulder as he passed him. “Just talk to him.”
Dream turned to watch him, “you’re not mad at me anymore?”
“I wasn’t actually mad.” Sapnap grinned, already grabbing his jacket and keys. “I was talking about shit earlier.”
Dream shook his head with a laugh as Sapnap yelled a quick ‘goodbye’ to George and disappeared out the door.
“He left rather quickly.” George said as soon as Dream rounded the corner and stood in the archway. Patches was trying to devour a feather toy, which George was trying to pull away.
“Yeah.” Dream shrugged, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
He swallowed thickly. Better now than never.
“Would you uh...” Dream leaned an arm against the wall, “Like to stay the night?”
George’s gaze immediately found him. There was a long pause before he finally gave up on trying to pull the toy away from Patches. He slowly stood up. Dream felt his heart hammering in his chest and climbing up his throat as he strolled over to him, each second passing in what seemed like eons.
“What does ‘staying the night’ mean?” George hummed.
Dream’s fingers twitched, he was so close he could count the subtle freckles on his cheeks and see the shadow of a stubble on his chin. His hands yearned to touch, to drag, to feel and hold.
He’d let himself imagine for so long, when his fingers brushed against George’s pale wrist, slid across soft skin and into his palm, it felt like fire. When George squeezed and wove their fingers together, it felt like an invitation.
“Whatever you want it to mean.” Dream offered, softly brushing his thumb across George’s.
Dream’s heart beat a tune against George’s palm as he pressed it to his chest and leaned in the slightest fraction. When his lips parted to speak, Dream let his eyes unashamedly fall and linger helplessly.
“I want you to kiss me.”
The words barely left his mouth before Dream closed the space between them and brought George’s trembling lips to his, drinking in the last of his words and feeling his smaller body press into his broad chest like Dream was a blanket, a protective shield.
George was just as soft as he imagined, and all Dream could do was take and feel. His hands trailed fire up his sides while George tangled his fingers in his shirt and then up into his hair, folding his body into Dream’s and urging him on with each soft sigh between parted lips.
“George...” Dream whispered into his mouth, burning and alive with each heated kiss.
But George only hummed and tugged him down for more, pulling the breath from his lungs along with each gentle whisper Dream wished to tell him between soft blankets and tangled limbs.
Dream finally managed to pull away long enough to drag him to his room, lay him against the cotton and take all over again. They explored and chased each other with tongues and teeth until George was squirming beneath him. Dream only chuckled lightly before dragging his mouth down his neck and pressed soft lips to even softer skin.
His fingertips had just managed to brush against George’s stomach when a shrill meow cut through shaky breaths and sloppy kisses. It was so loud it pulled Dream from his haze and George even tilted his head back to laugh, disconnecting from him partially.
“That was actually the loudest meow ever.” George cackled, face red and hair disheveled.
“I didn’t even know cats could meow that loud.” Dream breathed out his own laugh, pushing himself up to look at Patches just as she jumped up on the bed beside them.
“Well...” George smirked as Patches began demanding attention in the form of head butts against his shoulder.
Dream rolled his eyes, “She’s going to have to learn how to share.” He muttered, leaning down to press a kiss to George’s jaw.
“I don’t understand why she likes me so much.” His head tilted to allow room for Dream.
“Hmm.” Dream hummed against his neck, breathing him in, “I knew you had some sort of charm.”
George tugged Dream down with an ‘oof’ as he collapsed into the bed at his side. They spent a moment reshuffling so George was pressed into his chest with Dream’s arms wrapped around him and their legs tangled together. Patches was already curling up between them to complete their cuddle-pile.
“It worked out for me, I think.” George murmured, yawning slightly. “I think I will stay the night.”
“As if you weren’t before now?” Dream chuckled into the top of his head, pressing a kiss into his hair. And since he couldn’t resist, he leaned down to press one onto his forehead also.
“Well, I thought you said you’re out of my league.” He teased.
“You’re such an idiot.” Dream laughed.
They shared gentle kisses in the dark and murmured whispers of the future before they drifted off together in a heap of bodies. All three of them squished close together in the center of the bed like they couldn’t get close enough.
The next morning came with a beaming sun that softened the corners of the world and illuminated Dream’s heart. Instead of finding the shadow of a cat in his windowsill, she was curled up by his head along with the small arms wrapped around his waist and a body tucked into his chest. George had woven himself into his heart and his world, just as the street cat had.
It was strange, Dream thought in his morning haze, that they were once strangers to him.
But with the warmth of the coming day, the promise of domestic bliss, and the beautiful man at his side; he wouldn’t have it any other way.