The first girl that asked George to the dance was one Dream barely recognized. He had seen her out of the corner of his eye at football games, a cheerleader with too much pep that shook her pom-poms just a little too aggressively for his liking. She had hair the color of sawdust and was loudly chewing grape flavored-gum as she stood impatiently, waiting for George’s response. Dream had stood next to him protectively, albeit awkwardly, as George stumbled over his words trying to find an excuse for why he couldn’t go to the dance with her.
She hadn’t looked too upset, nodding and popping a bubble before walking away to catch up with her friends. The sickly sweet smell of artificial fruit lingered in Dream’s senses for far longer than he would have liked, and his expression soured.
He teased George about it endlessly, taunting and flirting with him to distract him from what Dream had lovingly called ‘not his best moment’. Though, he also meant to distract himself - something about the incident had rubbed him the wrong way. Maybe it was just second-hand embarrassment. This ‘distraction’ worked for a little while, but at the end of the day, as he was driving home from school after football practice, he noticed his grip on the steering wheel was tense.
Drista noticed it too, peering over at him from the passenger seat. “What happened with you today? You’ve got quite the resting bitch face going on.”
“Nothing,” Dream shrugged. It was the truth. He couldn’t single out any particular event that would explain his foul mood… could he?
“Just worried about the game that's coming up, I guess.” He answered, trying and failing to be nonchalant.
This didn’t seem to reassure her, but she dropped the subject and turned back to her book with a sigh. “Whatever. You’re being really weird, though.”
By the time they arrived home, he’d almost forgotten about the whole thing, falling into his normal after school routine. He trudged up the stairs, calves aching from all the running he’d done at practice. He nudged his bedroom door open with his foot and walked in, slinging the straps of his backpack over his desk chair before sitting down in it with a heavy sigh. He greeted Patches, who was sitting at the foot of his bed, comfortably sunk into the plush green comforter.
“Hey, girl.” Dream cooed softly, hoping to coax her over to his lap. As much as he wanted to cuddle, he was too tired to rise from his spot, and the few feet between them looked like miles to his tired body.
“Meow,” Patches responded conversationally, kneading fabric underneath her paws and settling further into her spot.
He chuckled lightly, spinning around to face his computer. “Guess that’s a no, huh?”
He grabbed his homework out of his bag, tossing it onto the desk beside him while Youtube loaded up on his desktop. Background music was the key to getting homework done fast - not correctly, but efficiently. He whizzed through physics, english, and history and was just about to start on calculus when he glanced down at his phone and noticed that he’d gotten a few texts from George.
-you’re not gonna believe this
-some other girl just asked me out while I was walking home
-i don't even know her, what is going on lol
It took Dream five minutes to respond. He was cycling through acceptable things to say in this scenario, such as ‘that’s awesome!’ or ‘was she hot?’ but neither of those would prompt the answer he wanted to hear. He finally settled on words that, under any other circumstance, would seem normal, if not for the anticipation he felt coursing through his veins, just as confusing as it was overwhelming. He shouldn’t care this much about his response.
-did you say yes?
He watched as George read the message, then began typing out his response, anxiously wondering why it was taking him so long to say a simple yes or no. Maybe he was typing out a ‘yes, and’ sort of response. Like ‘Yes, and she’s super pretty and nice and funnier than you, and I'm ditching you to hang out with her for the rest of my life.’ George would never do such a thing, of course, and Dream knew that, but it still made him sick to think about it.
- course not
-i just told you, i didn’t even know who she was
-anyways, it was super awkward
-she looked like she was going to cry
-for her, not for you
At first, he hadn’t planned on adding that last bit. But he supposed it was true; it would explain the weird feelings he kept trying to push back down. He was jealous that his best friend was getting all this… attention. Then again, that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Dream, as the football team’s star quarterback, got plenty of attention in his own way. He hadn’t been asked out by anyone, but that was only because he was so intimidating (or so he told himself). George, on the other hand, was… well, George. He was conventionally attractive, sure, but he was smart and funny and--
-what can i say, i’m a ladies’ man
- yeah, sure. whatever you say.
His response came out almost… passive aggressive, in a way. Dream hadn’t meant it like that, of course, but the odd emotions brewing inside his chest must’ve twisted his words. He wanted to talk to George about it. He wanted to understand why he felt so weird and sick and different about everything all of the sudden, but at the same time, he couldn’t bring himself to dwell on it.
So instead, he shut his phone off and threw it down onto the bed with a little too much force. From the foot of the bed, Patches watched with wide eyes as the device soared over her head. It bounced once, twice, and slammed to a stop at the headboard with a light thud, and she booked it out of the room.
“Whoops.” He leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms over his head. The action revealed to him the full extent of his post-practice stink, and he wrinkled his nose.
“Holy shit,” He said aloud to no one in particular. “I need a shower.”
When he greeted George at the front of the school building the next day, he was met with a quizzical look and a slight frown. The brunet looked to be studying his face for any traces of negativity; he looked like a kicked puppy. A kicked puppy who was very good at composing himself and hiding his emotions, but Dream saw right through it.
“You didn’t respond to my last text.” The shorter boy said carefully. His hair was being ruffled around by the light breeze. It looked fluffy, and Dream had to stop himself from reaching out to fix it. “Everything good?”
Dream was honest, because he didn’t have anything to lie about. “Yeah, everything’s fine. I was just tired from practice, that’s all. I took a forty-five minute shower and then passed out. Didn’t wake up until…” he pulled out his phone to check the time. “About twenty minutes ago. Uhm, what’d your text say?”
“Huh,” George’s frown worked its way off his face, replaced with visible relief. He shook his head, as if it wasn’t worth talking about. “It's fine, really. I had just asked why you seemed so moody all of the sudden, but I get it now. You get all bitchy when you’re tired.”
“Me?” Dream wheezed in disbelief, pointing a finger at his chest. “I’m the bitchy one? That’s rich. At least I don’t get hangry when I don’t eat at exactly eleven-thirty--”
“Shut up! That was one time in sixth grade, and Sapnap was being super annoying. He had it coming.”
“You threatened to break all his fingers if he didn’t buy you a bag of chips. And then you tried to bite him.”
“He had it coming.” George doubled down, though a faint smile threatened to escape his lips.
“Whatever. Come on, let’s try to get to class on time for once in our lives.” He walked a few paces and glanced behind him to make sure George was following. He was, and each step he took made his hair bounce further out of place; it stuck up in all directions, which was hilarious to Dream.
“Fix your hair, George. You look like a fucking idiot,” Dream whispered to him as they entered the building.
George giggled, reaching a hand up to smooth down his untamable mess. He had a nice laugh, and Dream couldn’t help but dwell on it as they walked to homeroom, cracking a few one-liners in the hopes of hearing it again. From an outside perspective, it seemed like he only made jokes to provoke the other’s laughter, and in some ways, that was sort of the case- whenever the two were together, it was like they were in their own personal bubble, unintentionally ignoring the rest of the world. It was so bad that teachers were often recommended to separate them by at least one seat, advice that their homeroom teacher, Puffy, had readily taken.
However, an even worse scenario was created when Sapnap was chosen to fill the seat in between, creating an environment teeming with chaos and friendly bickering that almost always got the class off track. As they sat in the very back of the room, waiting for the bell to ring and announcements to be read, the ravenette was kicking at the legs of Dream’s desk. It made a faint dinging noise, and the boy was obviously trying to get his attention. George had left to go do his part of the daily announcements, leaving Dream to deal with their nuisance of a friend alone. After ignoring him for a few minutes, he stuck his own leg out to block Sapnap’s foot.
“What do you want, Sap.” He grumbled.
“Yeah, sure, good morning to you, too. Now what the hell are you kicking my seat for?”
Sapnap scooted his chair across the floor, stopping when he was practically on top of Dream. “Cause I got news, that’s why.”
“Well what’s the news, then?”
Sapnap cleared his throat and leaned in further, speaking in what could have been described as a whisper if it wasn’t so goddamn loud. “Karl came to see me at work the other day, and--”
“You probably could have stopped your sentence at ‘Karl came’, Sap.” Dream snickered.
“Shut the hell up, you problematic idiot. You’re disgusting. But anyways,” He glared at the blonde, daring him to make another dirty joke. “He was super nice, and he sat at the counter and kept me company for most of my shift. I think… I think I really like him, dude.”
“That’s great, man.” Dream supplied, encouraging him to say more. As much as he teased Sapnap, he was genuinely happy for him and Karl. I want whatever they have, something in his mind admitted, but he shoved the thought down as his friend continued talking.
“I think I’m gonna ask him to the dance that’s coming up, and I think I’m gonna have to do it today. That’ll give him time to get a suit-- if he even says yes, holy shit, what if he says no?”
“Have you seen the way he looks at you, dude? No shot he’ll say no.”
Sapnap raised an eyebrow curiously. “How does he look at me, Dream?”
Dream pondered for a moment, finally deciding on, “Well, he looks at you like you’re the best thing in the world. Like, like a moth looks at a lightbulb.”
The other boy snorted. “Cute, but what the hell does that even look like?”
Dream widened his eyes, sort of like a puppy, in an attempt to convey the expression to Sapnap, who started cracking up at the sight.
“What’s so funny?”
“You’re so stupid sometimes.”
“No, seriously,” Dream asked. “What’s so funny about that?”
“That’s how you look at George.” Sapnap said matter-of-factly after composing himself. “And that’s how George looks at you.”
He didn’t have a response for that. He felt like his brain was short circuiting. “I dont- I mean we, he doesnt… no, Sapnap!”
“Whatever you say, Dreamie.” Sapnap winked at him.
The bell rang, signifying that announcements would begin shortly. They were broadcast over the speakers by the disembodied voices of student council members, and a crackling static noise indicated that those speakers had just been turned on.
The first bit of announcing was read out by a silvery voice that he recognized as Niki’s even before she introduced herself. He had a few classes with her, and she seemed really sweet, though her voice was so quiet that whatever microphone the school was using could barely pick up any noise at all.
“Hello everyone! This is Niki, your student council vice-president speaking. Today is Tuesday, November 4th. On this day in history, 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter and his workmen discovered a step leading to the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Now for the announcements: Today’s lunch is a turkey sandwich, with a side of…”
Dream had stopped paying attention. He turned his head slightly to look out the window, watching a few pigeons strut around on the sidewalk, but he immediately tuned back in when a new voice cleared his throat and began talking. He said the same thing every time, but Dream always perked up to listen.
“Hi. I’m George, secretary of the student council. This year’s dance, with a Fire and Ice theme, will be taking place in the highschool gymnasium on November 16th from seven to eleven pm. Admission is twenty dollars, thirty for couples. We hope to see you there.”
Somebody else replaced George and droned on about the school’s recycling program, and then Sam took the mic to remind all students to keep the locker rooms ‘neat and tidy’. Minutes later, the brunet walked through the doorway and slid back into his seat.
He set his bag down and started taking out his notes, giving Dream an odd look as Sapnap began scooting his chair back over to his own desk. “What’d I miss?”
“Not much,” Dream began. “Just that Sapnap is madly in love with--”
Just as Sapnap opened his mouth to fire a retort, Puffy spoke up from the front of the room.
“Can you three in the back chill for just a few minutes? I’d like to get through today’s lesson.” She called back to them, making everyone else in the room keen their heads to look. Dream guiltily looked down at his desk and nodded, and George hastily muttered out an apology.
The rest of class passed without much issue, but Dream caught himself staring at George a few times throughout the lesson. Each time, he realized what he was doing and hastily focused his eyes back on the board. Do I really look at him like that? Am I that obvious?
A few days later, Dream found himself at a lunch table outside, seated next to Sapnap with Karl and George across from them. It was one of the warmest days there’d been in a while, and probably the last nice day before winter, and so the group was determined to make the most of it, choosing a picnic bench right out in direct sunlight. Nearby oak trees rustled softly in the inconsistent breeze as it came and went, bringing an occasional chill to the air.
Despite George insisting multiple times that he was fine, Dream would occasionally look over and see him shivering. After a brief back and forth, in which George finally conceded that yes, he was a tad cold, Dream had practically wrestled the brunet into his own varsity jacket. Now he was picking at the wooden tabletop in front of him, keeping light conversation and trying to focus on anything other than the fact that the boy across from him was wearing his jacket, with his name on the back and his number on the sleeve.
George looked good today, bundled up in the green and white jacket with a light red dusting his cheeks. He looked good every day, and Dream was no longer scared to admit that. To himself, at least. Admitting that to others, specifically George himself, was a completely different feat.
Sapnap had started a conversation about football with his face stuffed full of pepperoni pizza, and Dream was trying and failing to keep up with his muffled statements. He glanced over to Karl and was astounded to see that he was hanging onto every word. That look that he had described a few days ago was nothing compared to the complete adoration exuding from every pore of the boy’s body. Jesus. I think he’s really in love with Sapnap. I mean, I don’t get why, but still.
“This next team we’re playing against, they’re crazy rich,” Sapnap explained through a mouthful of cheese. “We’ll still win, obviously, but it might be a close one. Dream is amazing, though. He’s the best quarterback in the state. Right, Dream?”
“I mean, I wouldn’t call myself the best, that’s a little--”
Dream panned his vision over to George. They made eye contact. George had a lazy half-smile spread across his face as he listened to the blonde talk. Once he noticed that Dream was staring back at him, though, his eyes widened and looked at the ground, at the table, at the sky, anywhere else. His cheeks had somehow gotten redder.
What the fuck. His heart hammered against his chest, and he cut off mid sentence. Sapnap was right.
“Uh, hey Dream? You alright there buddy?” Sapnap waved a hand in front of his face. “Anyways, like I was saying, I think we’ve got this next game in the bag. Meadowbrook’s team might have daddy's money, but no amount of money can give them talent like we’ve got.”
“What if they used the money to hire a really good coach or something?” Karl questioned.
Sapnap’s confidence seemed to falter. He paused for a moment. “Oh. Well, then we’d be fucked.”
George shifted his weight on the bench. He still looked embarrassed, or at least his face was flushed, and he unconsciously wrapped the jacket further around himself. “Guys, can we talk about something other than football? Something that I can chime in on, or that I know like, anything about?”
“Like what, George?” Karl said teasingly. “How about we talk about the fact that like, a bajillion people asked you out today?”
The brunet paled at that. “No, not that. Let’s not.”
Sapnap gave Dream a mischievous look before chiming in, making the blonde’s blood boil. “No, let’s talk about that! How many people have you rejected today? How many people did little Georgie Worgie make cry?”
“Shut the hell up, dude.” Dream whispered angrily. “Drop it.”
George, however, was already answering him. “I think I’m at about seventeen, now.” He said through gritted teeth.
“Well why, Gogy?” Sapnap instigated further.
“Because I didn’t want to go with them.”
Karl seemed oblivious to the fact that George was getting very, very upset, and assisted Sapnap in his banter. “Well, who do you want to go with, George? D’you want to go alone, or do you have somebody in mind?”
Desperately wanting to console George, Dream looked over at him, trying to read his expression and make sure he was okay. But to his surprise, he was already looking at him. Again. Oh.
George stood up abruptly from the table, breaking their eye contact. He swung his bag onto his shoulder so aggressively that he knocked his own water bottle onto the ground, but he didn’t even seem to notice. “I’m leaving,” He said venomously. “Sapnap, I told you not to- I told both of you that in confidence! You’re such a piece of shit!”
He stalked away in the direction of the soccer fields. Dream’s eyes followed him for as long as he dared before he narrowed them and fixed them on Sapnap and Karl, who sat deathly still. Karl looked shocked, but Sapnap didn’t seem surprised at all, just smug.
“What the fuck, you two?”
Karl buried his head in his hands. “We were trying to help you! Both of you!” He groaned.
“How would making him mad to the point of tears be remotely helpful?” Dream cried, getting up. Sapnap was still eerily silent.
“Well, we’re not supposed to say, but--”
“You should bring him his water, Dream.” Sapnap interrupted. “He’s gonna cry and then he’s gonna get, like, dehydrated.”
Stomping over to the bottle, he picked it up. “You know what, maybe I will. Asshole.”
The blue metal was adorned with stickers that were slightly worn off, and he rolled it over in his palm trying to see them all as he walked towards the field, keeping an eye out for George. There was a soccer ball, a plain-looking smiley face, and a pair of clout goggles. ‘GEORGE’ was spelled out in red bubble letters along the bottom. He moved to hold the bottle by it’s top strap and absentmindedly swung it back and forth as he searched the school grounds.
He finally spotted the boy, sitting with his back against the side of the building. His backpack had been thrown a few feet away from him, and he was staring up at the sky. As Dream approached, George lolled his head to the side to face him. He hadn’t, in fact, been crying, but his eyes were puffy and terribly red anyways.
“Hey, George,” Dream said softly.
George attempted a smile. “Hi.” He sniffed. “You’re here for your jacket, right? Here, I can just-”
“No, don’t.” Dream slumped down next to George and offered him the bottle, which he took gratefully and uncapped. As the other was mid-sip, Dream worked up the courage to say, “It looks really nice on you.”
The brunette choked on his water, turning to the opposite side to spit it out. “Dream!”
His heart dropped. Did I read too far into it? Does he not.. “W-What? Did you not, uhm.. I’m sorry--”
“You can’t say shit like that when I’m drinking!” George shrieked. After a few moments of silence, he met Dream’s apprehensive gaze with a slight smirk. “You can say it now, though.”
And his heart started beating ten times faster. He should probably be dead by now. “Uhm, my jacket looks really nice on you?”
Dream tried to subtly lean in until their shoulders were touching. His mind was racing a mile a minute, and he desperately tried to put out some sort of coherent sentence that would explain to George exactly how he felt and what he wanted, but instead he said:
“Are you free on the 16th?”
And George, who had rejected seventeen people in anticipation of this moment, leaned in just inches away from Dream’s face, and dared to breathe out:
“Yes. Yes I am.”