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Hopelessly Devoted to You

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Dream used a damp comb to slick back his dirty blond hair and admired himself in the mirror, tucking his white shirt snugly into his jeans before bending down to wipe a smudge off of his black boots. He pulled his leather jacket tighter around his shoulders. A loud drawn out honk blasted through his open window telling him his ride was waiting. He knew by now that the driver was incredibly impatient and wouldn’t wait for very long, so he grabbed his books and a pack of cigarettes, thrusting them into the inside pocket of his jacket as he raced down the stairs and out the front door.

There sat his best friend, white headband holding raven curls back from covering his face, in his decked-out convertible with its clean white paint shining brightly in the early morning sun. He was tapping his hand against the steering wheel anxiously.

“Hurry up, dickhead!” Sapnap shouted over the roar of his car’s souped up engine. “We’re gonna be late again!”

Dream scoffed as he slid into the passenger seat. “We’d only be late cuz you took so long to get here. And besides, we haven’t been on time for three years straight, so why should we start now?”

Sapnap chuckled and shook his head as he pulled out of Dream’s driveway and whipped around the corner. As they drove, Dream pulled a cigarette out of the pack in his jacket pocket, lighting it and taking a long drag. He let the smoke fill his lungs and mouth, savoring the feeling before parting his lips and allowing it to slowly filter out. He felt an overwhelming sense of peace that was covering the feeling of dread that was beginning to creep in. The wind rushing over their shoulders and whistling through their hair was already warm, leaving a gentle reminder that summer would be drawing to an abrupt end as soon as they’d pull into their school’s parking lot.

They rounded the final corner and the school came into view. Students looked like ants as they milled around the courtyard and the parking lot, exchanging brief greetings to those they hadn’t seen all summer and making their way back into their designated groups. As Sapnap screeched to a halt in the nearest parking spot he could find, the warning bell rang and everyone began to file toward the entrances to the building.

“Look who made it just in time,” a voice quipped from behind the car.

There stood their friend Quackity, shaking his head slowly with his hands on his hips in mock disappointment. Dream had never seen Quackity without his signature blue beanie and today was no different, although he did note that in addition to the beanie, the shorter boy was also sporting a leather jacket with an insignia that matched the ones worn by both Dream and Sapnap. This marked them all as members of the same gang, a gang spearheaded by the tall blond smoking in the passenger’s seat. Dream flicked away the butt of his cigarette and clambered out of the car. Sapnap hurriedly followed and the two grabbed their books.

“Well excuse me,” Dream said to Quackity, drawing the word out several extra syllables. “My chauffeur was running a bit late this morning.”

“No no no, do not blame this on me, it was all Dream’s fault. I don’t know how, but believe me it was.”

“Okay sure, whatever,” Quackity chuckled, falling into step beside the other two on their way to the school. “If we get caught, I just know I’m not gonna take anyone’s shit. This is a new year, senior year, and I’m done letting everyone shit on me and push me around.”

The bell rang again, signalling the beginning of class.

“And we’re officially late,” Sapnap held the school door open for the other two and looked accusingly at Dream.

Dream shrugged nonchalantly, brushing by Sapnap and into the empty hallway. “Starting the year off right. It’s the first day, what are they gonna do about it?”

“Yes, Dream, what am I going to do about it?” asked a new voice.

The three boys whirled around to find a tall figure blocking their path, a figure that definitely had not been there a moment before. Principal Philza had his arms crossed and a firm glare was fixed on his face. His tweed suit was ironed perfectly with not a wrinkle or thread out of place, cognac brown shoes were so polished that Dream could see his own reflection, and his straw-colored hair was parted and gelled flawlessly.

“Quackity, Sapnap, isn’t Mrs. Puffy expecting the both of you in homeroom?”

“Yes sir, we’re just on our way sir, sorry sir,” Quackity nodded eagerly. Him and Sapnap began walking briskly down the hall and when Dream strained his ears enough, he thought he heard Sapnap say something like, “so much for not taking anyone’s shit.”

“As for you, Dream,” Philza continued, his clear blue eyes staring deeply into Dream’s own viridian ones. “It’s your last year, so I would hope that you take this one a little more seriously than the past few. It would sure be a shame if I had to hold you back for yet another year…” He trailed off, the underlying threat becoming not-so-underlying.

Dream plastered a bright smile on his face. “Of course not Principal Philza, this won’t happen again. I promise.”

Philza gave a quick nod, turning to walk back into the school’s main office while Dream rolled his eyes. The same conversation happened every year and neither of them did anything about it, it was like an unspoken agreement between the two of them. Dream strolled leisurely down the hallway toward his class, dreading the boredom he was sure to face during the hours before lunch.

-----

Dream took a deep breath and blinked the lethargy from his eyes as he walked out into the courtyard for lunch. After the freedom and excitement of his summer, he had forgotten how monotonous classes could be. He looked around at all the other students circulating around the tables and winced at the barrage of voices that assaulted his ears.

“Ay yo Dream!” Sapnap called, beckoning him. He was sprawled casually on the nearby bleachers with Quackity and the fourth member of their gang, Callahan. Dream made his way over, dropping his books with a loud metallic clang.

“Fuck this,” Dream sighed, laying back on one of the benches and pulling another cigarette out of his jacket pocket.

“Hey, did you guys see the new kid with Jacobs earlier?” Sapnap took a swig from a bottle hidden in a paper bag. Dream knew that whatever it was, it was definitely not water.

“Awww Sappy, are you still hung up on Karl?” Quackity teased, nudging a giggling Callahan with his elbow.

“Shut up, I am not,” Sapnap shot back in a way that made it very clear that he was. “I was just saying, the new kid isn’t bad either.”

Dream tipped his head back onto the bench and passed the cigarette along to Quackity, fading in and out of listening to the conversation.

“Dream, we were just talking about what we did this summer. Callahan and Quackity both worked all summer, and I didn’t think you were working but I didn’t see you a lot. What were you up to?”

A smile crept over Dream’s lips and he hummed to himself. A whole summer of memories filled his mind; all soft kisses and setting suns, a summer fling that he wished could be more.

“I went to the beach a lot,” he said after a while, still unable to wipe the smile from his face. “Met someone there.”

Quackity let out a low whistle and smiled his mischievous smile. “Aw Dweamy, who’s got you smiling like that? Who was finally able to steal the heart of the one and only Dream?”

Sapnap and Callahan chuckled. “Oh, it doesn’t matter. They weren’t from here and had to go back at the end of the summer. I’ll never see them again.” Dream waved a hand dismissively despite the pang in his chest that he felt at saying those words.

“Was she any good? Y’know like… good?” Quackity interjected, making suggestive thrusting motions with his hips.

Dream almost let his smile falter after the word “she”, but he covered it with a confident burst of laughter. “Oh yeah Quackity, real good.”

The other three echoed Dream’s laughter as he reached for Sapnap’s drink and took a sip. Yep, definitely not water. He took a longer pull from the bottle as the bell rang, bringing about the end of lunch and the beginning of another grueling period of classes. The four boys groaned as they stood up, gathering their books and dragging their feet in the walk back to the school.

“I’ll see you guys at the pep rally this weekend, right?” Sapnap asked before the group parted ways.

“For sure,” Dream said with a smirk. “After all, someone has to help you win Karl back. We can’t have you being all mopey and sad forever.”

Callahan and Quackity couldn’t help but laugh as they dragged Sapnap away from Dream and back to class.

-----

The rest of the week passed without incident. Dream and Sapnap continued to show up late every day, classes were beyond awful, and in their spare time the leather-clad group would retreat into Sapnap’s garage to work on his already excessively souped-up convertible. Finally, Friday arrived and the school was buzzing with anticipation for the first pep rally of the year. Their high school football team was in what they called the “seven year slump” since they had gone seven full seasons without winning a single game, and because of this the pep rallies weren’t typically the most exciting thing. But this year, the school had hired a new coach and everyone’s fingers were crossed for a taste of victory. This, of course, meant that the school spirit for any event was through the roof.

It was well after dark when Sapnap pulled into the football field’s parking lot. Dream lounged comfortably in the front seat, taking pulls out of a bottle in between puffs of his cigarette. Quackity and Callahan sat in the back, resting on the tops of the seat backs instead of on the seats themselves so they could see over the heads of the two boys in the front. Rather than turning all the lights on, the school had opted to have just a few flood lights illuminate the center of the field where an impromptu stage was surrounded by hundreds of yelling students. The marching band was in full swing in the bleachers blasting the school’s fight song as the cheerleaders on the field below them performed their routine, their short red skirts and tight white tops being one of the main reasons that the school’s male population seemed to have so much pep.

The four boys leapt out of the car and began to make their way onto the football field, slipping their cigarettes and paper-bagged drinks into the inside pockets of their leather jackets while yelling to each other over the thunder of the pep rally’s festivities. They joined the throng of students that were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the football team just in time to see Principal Philza take the stage.

“Hello everyone!” Philza boomed into the microphone that had been set up. “How are we feeling tonight?”

The crowd began to shout and wave their arms wildly in the air as the cheerleaders shook their pom-poms to the beat of the band’s drumming.

“Alright alright! Let’s all settle down!” There was a pause as the assembled crowd returned to a calmer state. “Now we know that for the past seven years, our beloved football team has been in a sort of slump. But now is the time to end that streak! Now is when we finally achieve the victory that we have all dreamed of for so long! And here is the man to do it!”

Philza stepped to the side of the podium and gestured broadly as another man approached the microphone. He was tall, with thick mutton chops on either side of his face, and was sporting a black hat with the school’s mascot on it.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the man began. “Are you ready for a football season like you’ve never seen?” His voice was deep and loud, echoing around the field before being drowned out by the cheers of the students. “And these are the boys who are gonna give it to you!”

The man looked over his shoulder, inviting everyone else to peer around the stage, and the band struck up the fight song again. An explosion of cheering and shouting erupted as the football team emerged from behind the bleachers at the other end of the field and rushed toward the crowd. Upon seeing the quarterback, Dream and Sapnap exchanged a glance and rolled their eyes. Both of the boys had a strong dislike for the muscular-but-brainless leader of the football team.

After the appearance of the football team, all hell broke loose and, despite their best efforts, the teachers were unable to regain any sort of control over the crowd. Altogether unimpressed by the school’s idea of a pep rally, Dream sighed and signaled to the others to begin walking back to the car. He had heard that there was a party a few blocks over and was hoping to escape the parking lot before they got caught in the swell of traffic. Sapnap grabbed Quackity by the arm and firmly dragged him away from some girl he was talking to, which put Sapnap on the receiving end of a very angry outburst. Callahan simply shook his head tiredly and led the way back to the car. As they passed the bleachers, Sapnap held up a hand and brought the group to a halt.

“Hey, boys, hold on a minute,” Sapnap said quietly to his friends, nodding toward the cheerleaders, before calling out, “Hey Karl!”

“Oh!” Dream heard Quackity huff indignantly to Callahan. “So I can’t talk to that girl but he can talk to Karl? Unbelievable.” Callahan shrugged.

Dream looked up to see the cheerleader that he recognized as Karl Jacobs making his way toward them, bouncing on his toes slightly as he walked. His mop of fluffy brown hair swept gently over gray eyes that seemed to glow under the lights that illuminated the field. A smile sat upon his face and his cheeks were flushed a soft pink. The cheerleading uniform that he wore hugged his waist tightly and flared out into a red pleated skirt that fell right above his knees. Pale hands fidgeted with the hem of the skirt as the brunette walked, exposing alabaster skin. Dream smirked to himself as his friend struggled to keep his mouth from falling open.

“Hi,” Karl said, smiling brightly as he looked around the group. “Did you guys like the pep rally?”

Sapnap opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. The red tint of his cheeks and forehead became even more prominent against the white of his headband as he cleared his throat loudly and tried again.

“Uhm- yeah, it was really cool,” he choked out, crossing his arms over his chest in an effort to look unaffected. Quackity let out a peal of laughter that was met quickly with an elbow in the ribs from Dream. “Anyway, I was wondering if you were going to Niki’s party later?”

Karl nodded. “I think a lot of the cheerleaders are going.”

“Cool, cool, I guess I’ll see you there then,” Sapnap said with a wide smile.

Karl beamed back at him. “I guess so!”

“Hey Karl!” another voice called out.

Dream cocked his head to the side in puzzlement. Where did he know that voice from? Before he could really think about it, another cheerleader ran over and clutched at Karl’s arm. The newcomer’s hair was dark brown, almost black, and curled softly around his ears. It was pulled back from his face with a wire headband that allowed porcelain skin to shine brightly under the floodlights. Freckles lightly dusted the bridge of his nose and spread across his cheeks like constellations of stars. The new boy was wearing a cheerleading outfit that matched Karl’s but his upper half was covered with an oversized beige sweater that left just the slightest hint of a skirt peeking out to cover pale thighs. Dream’s mouth hung slightly agape as viridian eyes roamed over the boy’s face and body unashamed.

“George?” his voice was hoarse and lilted up in confusion.

The other boy’s gaze snapped to him, and his eyebrows furrowed and relaxed in an instant.

“Dream?” he exclaimed, taking a step forward. “Oh my god!”

“I thought you left! You said you had to move back to London!”

“My parents’ plans changed, we ended up moving here permanently,” George smiled. “I can’t believe it!”

They took another step toward each other until they were mere inches apart. Dream could feel his heart beating rapidly as he looked down into the deep umber eyes that glittered up at him, the same eyes that he got lost in every day over the summer and the eyes he thought he would never see again.

Dream heard whispers from behind him. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Quackity leaning over to Callahan and realized that their eyes were fixated on him. He took a step back from the boy in front of him and dropped the hands that had been desperate to pull them closer together.

“That’s uh- that’s cool,” Dream said with a shrug, trying his best to seem apathetic. “Congrats.”

George’s smile faltered and his head tilted in confusion. “What?”

“I mean, I hope you like it here. It’s pretty okay I guess,” Dream continued, feeling a lump form in his throat as he saw George’s smile disappear and tears form in his eyes. “But uh- I’ll see you around?” Dream turned quickly before he could see the brunette’s lip begin to quiver and brushed past his friends.

He walked briskly, elbowing his way through the crowd until he made it to Sapnap’s car, and leaned against the passenger’s side door. He was reeling. There were so many thoughts clouding his mind, so many emotions swirling in his chest. Seeing George again stirred up so many memories, so many things that he had been forced to push to the side and he wasn’t ready to go back to. Not to mention his friends' reactions, the way they were whispering about him. His breathing became ragged and shallow as he struggled to swallow, tears threatening to roll down his cheeks if he didn’t pull himself together quickly. What would his friends think of that? How was he supposed to lead a gang if just a run-in with a boy made him break down completely?

Dream felt a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, you all good?”

He blinked the emotions out of his eyes and cleared his expression to a blank slate before turning to meet Sapnap’s concerned gaze.

“Yeah I’m fine, why wouldn’t I be fine?” The sentence came out with more bite than Dream had intended and he winced inwardly.

Sapnap’s eyebrows furrowed. He removed his hand from Dream’s shoulder and stepped back. “Okay dude, chill. You seemed, like, out of it. I was just checking.”

Dream knew that Sapnap could see right through him, they had been friends for years and could read each other like open books. But still, the blond had an image to maintain. He popped the collar of his leather jacket, ran a hand through his gelled hair, and let an overly confident smirk take over his features. “Really, I’m fine, let’s just go to Niki’s party and get fucked up.”

He pretended not to notice the skeptical look Sapnap gave him as he slid into the front seat and started the car, followed by Quackity and Callahan hopping in the back. Hoping that nicotine would put him at ease, Dream lit a new cigarette and took a long pull. He didn’t know why he wasn’t telling his friends about George. Sapnap at least would understand since he was both openly gay and openly in love with the head cheerleader. But Dream couldn’t find it in himself to do it. He couldn’t push away the murmurs that tended to follow Sapnap in the hallways or the double takes that he would get when he stood too close to Karl. The gang had a reputation to uphold. Having its leader be outed would damage that reputation and put a target on their back, an even bigger target than the one they currently had. Not even realizing it, Dream had been holding his breath. He felt his eyes beginning to water and exhaled the smoke just seconds before he would have burst out into a fit of coughing. It had been decided just now by Dream that he would never tell anyone about George or the summer they spent together.

Still, images of George continued to crop up behind his eyelids every time he blinked; the soft curve of his jaw, the gentle slope of his nose, the pink of his lips, the ghost of his breath. Dream shook his head as if it would dislodge the beautiful boy that had just taken up residence in his mind for the second time in as many months.

-----

“It was fucking insane! I still can’t even believe it happened!” Dream heard Sapnap exclaim. The weekend had passed in a blur and they had all reluctantly returned to school for possibly the most boring Monday in history. Dream felt the sun blazing down on the back of his neck as he strolled toward the bleachers, which had become the designated spot for their group to sit during lunch.

“Woah woah woah, what happened?” Dream asked, plopping down on a bench.

“Apparently Sapnap has some crazy ass story from after Niki’s party. He's been really hyping it up so it’d better be good,” Quackity replied in a tone that suggested he did not believe a word of Sapnap’s bragging.

“Hey! Watch your mouth, or I’m not gonna tell the story.”

“Fine, fine, go ahead with your story. I’m on the edge of my seat.” Quackity flashed a quick grin and laid back against the bleachers.

Sapnap narrowed his eyes momentarily at the shorter boy before turning back to the rest of the group. “Anyway, let me start at the beginning. So we were all together until Niki’s party, right?”

Dream cringed internally at the thought of Niki’s party. In his overly confused and emotional state, he had drank far more than he usually did and ended up leaving the party early to walk home, both because he felt sick and because he couldn’t stop thinking about a particular brunette boy. Not his finest moment.

“After we all got separated, Karl and I were together and we decided to head out to the overlook.” Quackity waggled his eyebrows at this since the overlook was a notorious hook-up spot. Sapnap flushed and continued his story, “So we were out there, just… hanging out and talking and… y’know… and guess who hits my fucking car.”

He looks around expectantly. Callahan and Dream shared a glance, and shrugged at each other.

“Fucking Technoblade!” Sapnap threw his hands up in an exasperated expression.

Dream groaned. “Really? That asshole is still trying to start shit?”

Technoblade was the leader of the gang at their rival school. Whenever the high schools would hold any sort of event, Techno would show up and cause chaos, always looking for a way to get under Dream’s skin and pick a fight. Apparently he thought there was some kind of turf war going on between the two gangs, as if they couldn’t just coexist in their respective neighborhoods. Dream had so far been able to avoid serious altercations with Techno’s posse, but he knew that one day the conflict would, unfortunately, come to a head.

“So what did you do?” asked Quackity, who had just decided that the story was actually worth paying attention to. “Did you get out and beat the shit out of him? Or did you drive away like a pussy?”

Sapnap looked like he was one word away from deciding to beat up Quackity instead of Techno. “No you asshat, he drove away before I could do anything. And now there’s a big ass dent in the bumper of my car. I’m gonna get him back for that. One of these days, I’ll kick his ass.”

Dream smiled grimly at his friend’s enthusiasm. “Hey now, we don’t start the fights. But we sure as hell finish ‘em.”

Quackity chuckled darkly and Callahan nodded his agreement. The bell rang faintly, prompting the four boys to stand up and stretch their limbs.

“I’ll see you guys after school?” Sapnap asked. “I’m gonna need some help fixing my car. No way am I gonna drive around with Techno’s fucking dent.”

“Oh, so you’re looking for some cheap labor? And you think we’ll do it?” Quackity put on an air of mock offense.

“Not cheap labor, free labor. I’m not paying you guys to do shit.”

“I actually won’t be able to make it,” Dream interjected, cutting off Quackity’s retort. “I’ve got a project due tomorrow.”

Sapnap gave Dream a look of genuine surprise. “Since when do you do anything for school?”

“Since it’s my senior year and I’d rather not get held back for another year of this hell.”

The raven-haired boy’s gaze lingered on Dream and he could tell that Sapnap didn’t believe him, but felt a huge relief when he just shrugged it off instead of calling him out.

“Suit yourself,” Sapnap tossed over his shoulder as the boys went their separate ways.

-----

As the school day came to an end, Dream had absolutely no intention of doing school work. He did have a project due the next day, that wasn’t a lie, but he had something much more important to do, something that involved a certain boy who refused to leave his thoughts.

Dream had returned to the bleachers after his last class and it was there that he waited, a cigarette hanging from his lips and smoke drifting through the air around him, until he caught a glimpse of the cheerleaders. They walked in one big clump, with George and Karl following the others. His heart jumped in his chest, both out of nerves and out of the bubbly feeling that he always got when he laid eyes on the Brit. The blond waited until the main group had passed by before he slipped quietly down the metal benches, flicking the butt of his cig into a trash can as he passed it. He caught up to the rear of the pack, reached a hand out to grip George’s arm, and pulled the shorter around to face him.

“What the fu- oh,” George’s soft eyes hardened as they landed on Dream. “What do you want?”

“Can uh… can we talk?” Dream lowered his voice and continued in a gentler tone. “Please?”

George rolled his eyes, but allowed himself to be dragged into the shade under the bleachers where the pair was somewhat hidden from the rest of the cheerleaders. Dream turned to look at the brunette and felt another familiar George-induced feeling, a swooping in his stomach. It didn’t matter how many times he laid his eyes upon carefully ruffled chocolate hair, upon pale cheeks that were graced with a light flush, upon soft pink lips pushed into a pout. Dream could always count on the beautiful boy before him to take his breath away.

“Well?” George demanded, crossing his arms over the school’s logo on his chest and pushing his hip to the side as he shifted his weight. Dream’s eyes drifted down to the movement of the cherry red cheerleading skirt as it brushed over porcelain thighs before his gaze snapped up to meet George’s.

“I uh… I don’t really… uhm,” Dream stuttered out feeling a blush crawl up his neck.

“Look, I have to get to practice, so either spit it out or I gotta go.”

“I’m sorry! Okay? I wanted to apologize for being a total dick at the pep rally. I was just surprised at seeing you and it was weird with all my friends there and I didn’t know what to do. And I’m sorry.” Dream let out a deep exhale, a breath that he had been holding since that night on the football field under those bright fluorescent lights.

Dream looked back at George and saw his features soften.

“Dream-” George began.

“And I know you’re probably upset, and you have every right to be, but before you say anything else, I also wanted to tell you that I haven’t stopped thinking about you. Not even just since the pep rally, but since the summer.” Dream looked deep into the warmth of George’s eyes. “Ever since the last day I saw you, I haven’t been able to get you out of my head. No matter how hard I try.”

George’s lips parted gently in surprise and it took every fiber of Dream’s being not to rush forward and kiss him right then and there.

“So… I guess that’s it…” Dream looked down at his hands as they fidgeted with the sleeves of his jacket.

The silence that fell between the two grew heavy. Dream felt a bead of sweat begin to trail down his back, sweat that had nothing to do with the temperature under the bleachers. He looked up to see George take a step forward and he shifted to the side, expecting that George would storm past him back to practice. What he didn’t expect was to feel petite hands come up to cup his jaw lightly and for hidden freckles to come into focus as the brunette decreased the space between them.

“Oh Dream,” George said softly, his breath suddenly hot against Dream’s lips. “I could never stay mad at you.”

Dream slid his hands around the shorter’s waist, feeling sparks trail from his fingertips as he brushed soft skin exposed by George’s lifted arms. George’s hands found their way to the golden curls that rested against the back of Dream’s neck and he twirled them gently between delicate fingers. The breath hitched in Dream’s throat when George continued to lean forward, standing on tip-toe, until their noses were brushing.

“I have a confession.” George’s voice was barely above a whisper and something deep in Dream’s stomach clenched. “I haven’t stopped thinking about you either.”

Dream lifted his eyes from pink lips to umber eyes, asking an unspoken question with his gaze. George gave him his answer by closing the remaining centimeters between them and pressing their lips together. The kiss was hesitant at first but rapidly grew more passionate, a kiss that spoke of longing, telling the tale of two lovers forced apart and brought back together by a fortunate twist of fate. It was a well choreographed dance, one performed hundreds, maybe thousands, of times before, and Dream smiled against George’s lips as he recalled each and every one.

George pulled away first and rested their foreheads together. A sense of peace and safety washed over them, as if they had both finally come home after being away for too long.

“I have to go,” George breathed out.

“I know.” Dream sighed and pulled his hands away from the curves of the other’s hips. “What does this mean for us?”

George’s hands fell to his sides and his fingers fidgeted and bunched up the soft fabric, no longer tightened around the back of Dream’s neck. “I can’t pretend that I don’t want there to be an ‘us’. It would drive me crazy to be apart again.”

The blond nodded. “Me too, but I also don’t really want everyone to know.” He held up his hand as George opened his mouth. “I know that sounds bad, but if people knew, especially one person in particular, that would mean bad news for me and my friends. We have a reputation to uphold and this could end up with a lot of people getting hurt, namely you. And I don’t think I could live with myself if I let that happen. I want to be with you, I really do, but it would need to be a secret.”

“A secret?” George said, rolling the word around his mouth as if he was trying to see if he liked the taste. “I don’t know…”

“Would you rather pretend that we aren’t crazy about each other? Nod to each other in the hallways and pass by like we don’t belong together?” Dream took George’s small hands in his own and rubbed his thumb over each knuckle gently. “I need you in my life, George.”

George looked up into viridian eyes and Dream could pinpoint the exact moment that he gave in.

“I need you too,” George sighed. “Okay, I’m in.”

Dream smiled and lifted George’s hands to meet his lips, pressing a soft kiss on pale skin before linking fragile fingers through his own and letting their connected hands fall between them. George’s cheeks flushed a subtle pink.

“I really do have to go now.” The brunette began to walk away, trailing his arm behind him as his fingers slowly slipped, one by one, from the other’s grasp. Once George had disappeared around the side of the bleachers, Dream stood there for what could have been hours. The next day he would have to go back to being the leader of the school; the badass, leather-clad greaser, but in that moment he was nothing more than a love-struck fool basking in the glow of a pretty boy’s kiss.

-----

Dream and George spent the next week figuring out how exactly to keep themselves a secret. They needed to find a balance; Dream couldn’t just ignore the Brit when they passed in the hallway or when they stood together as Karl and Sapnap flirted, but he also constantly struggled to fight the urge to pin the smaller boy to a locker while painting hickeys down the delicate skin of George’s throat. Despite their best efforts, Dream could tell that George was becoming frustrated, and he was too if he was being honest. He was tired of sneaking around and having to hide his feelings, even though he knew that there was no way that they could make their relationship public.

“Hey, wait,” George panted against Dream’s lips, pulling away and catching his breath as they rested their foreheads against each other. The two had snuck into the bathroom during class and planned to leave during the next passing period, pretending that ruffled hair and swollen lips wouldn’t be as obvious as they really were.

The taller boy moved away and leaned against the bathroom sink as he ran a hand through his hair, trying and failing to smooth it back from where George’s hands had tangled themselves. He looked in the mirror and narrowed his eyes. Pulling the neck of his thin white t-shirt to the side, his eyes landed on mulberry marks that were littered across his collarbones. He sighed and turned back to the brunette.

Dream wanted to be upset; say something about how easily someone could connect the two of them when they saw the hickeys or about the danger both of them would be in if word got out that they were together. But when he raked his gaze over the beautiful boy before him, all of the frustration left his mind.

George rested against the stall adjacent to the sink, his chest heaving. His pupils were blown wide with want and his cheeks were flushed. The soft pink skirt he wore fell above his knees, swaying slowly back and forth as George shifted nervously from foot to foot. The brunette’s head was tilted forward and he raised his eyes to blink at the blond through thick, mascaraed lashes.

“I want to ask you som-,” George was cut off as Dream reached a hand to cup under his chin, tilting his head up and slotting their lips together. This kiss wasn’t like the earlier ones where Dream had pulled the Brit into the bathroom, pushed him against the nearest wall, and pressed open-mouthed kisses along every available inch of skin. This kiss was soft and gentle, full of so many things that wanted to be said but couldn’t. When they pulled apart, there was a moment of silence as they looked into each other’s eyes, viridian and umber locked together, two halves of one whole.

“Go ahead,” Dream whispered, his voice raspy. “Ask me.”

George blinked rapidly, the color in his cheeks deepening. “I just wanted to know if you wanted to go to the drive-in tonight. Like, together.”

Every year as a continuation of welcoming everyone back to school the student government organized a night at the drive-in, putting on some movie that no one cared about. People would usually go as an excuse to get drunk, show off their cars, and show off the girls they got to go with them. Dream and Quackity had been bugging Sapnap all week to ask Karl to go with him, which he finally did before school that day. Karl, of course, said yes without any hesitation and ran off to tell all of the other cheerleaders, which resulted in a lot of giggling whenever Sapnap passed any of them in the halls. Since George was also a cheerleader, Dream knew that he had heard about it and was probably a little pissed off that Dream hadn’t also asked him, so it was no surprise that George was bringing it up.

Dream sighed. “You know I’d love to, but-”

“Of course there’s a ‘but’, there’s always a ‘but,’” George huffed, pulling his face away from Dream’s and leaning back against the wall.

“C’mon now, don’t be upset with me! You know that Techno is probably gonna show up and if he sees the two of us together, you could be in a whole lotta trouble. I can’t let anything bad happen to you, it would just about destroy me.”

“It’s worth the risk! I’d gladly let Techno beat the shit out of me as long as you and I can actually be seen together.” Dream searched George’s face for any sign that he was joking, but found none. “It’s driving me crazy, Dream! And I know it’s driving you crazy too.”

Dream ran a hand through his hair as he thought, furrowing his eyebrows and racking his brain for any possible solution.

“Hey! I’ve got it!” Dream exclaimed, eyes lighting up. “Just ask Karl if you can come with him. Sapnap is going with me and the boys, so you should be able to tag along with us. Then we can go together!”

“Not together together,” George mumbled.

“Well what idea do you have, genius? This is the closest we’re gonna get.”

“Fine,” George said reluctantly, drawing out the ‘i’. “But you have to make sure that we get to sit together, I refuse to be stuck next to Quackity. Callahan I can handle, but that stupid beanie grosses me out. Does he ever take that thing off? Like, when does he wash it?”

Dream chuckled and drew the smaller boy into a hug, resting his chin in a mess of brunette curls. A bell rang out, causing both of them to jump and pull apart. Dream smiled bitterly down at George.

“I guess that’s our cue.”

George propped himself up onto his tiptoes and planted a quick peck on Dream’s cheek. He beamed back at the blond as he began walking toward the bathroom door, swaying his hips just enough for the pleated pink skirt to flutter delicately around his thighs.

“See you tonight!” he called over his shoulder and was promptly swallowed by the mass of students surging through the hall.

Dream smiled quietly to himself as he gathered his books and swung his leather jacket over his shoulder. He looked in the mirror once more, taking in his ruffled hair and kiss-bitten lips, shrugged, and made his way out of the bathroom.

-----

The sun had set long ago when Dream heard the familiar honk of Sapnap’s car horn. As usual, he grabbed his leather jacket from where it was hanging on the back of his door, double checking that his cigarettes were still tucked safely in the inside pocket, and darted down the stairs to the front door. He threw a glance toward his fridge and briefly considered grabbing a beer, then decided that he should probably be sober for the night since he would already have a hard enough time keeping his hands off a small, brunette cheerleader.

“Yo! Get a move on idiot!” Dream could hear Quackity yelling before he even pulled open the front door.

“Calm down, it’s not like we’re gonna be late. And you wouldn’t even care if we were, you hate this stupid drive-in thing,” Dream called back, rolling his eyes as he strolled down his driveway and hopped over the door to sit next to Quackity and Callahan in the back.

“Woah, why aren’t you sitting shotgun?” Quackity asked before jokingly adding, “Did you and mom get in a fight?”

“Hey! You think I’m the mom?” Sapnap interjected from the driver’s seat. “Don’t make me turn this car around.”

Dream laughed as Quackity threw his hands up in innocence. “No you dumbass, I’m leaving him space so that his date can take the front seat. It’s called being a gentleman, you should take notes,” he quipped. Callahan chuckled and quickly turned it into a cough as Quackity swung an accusing glare his way.

“Ha ha, very funny,” Quackity pouted, crossing his arms.

Dream gave him an apologetic shrug and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it as Sapnap revved the car’s engine. The blond noticed how his friend nervously tapped the steering wheel while he navigated through the neighborhood, pulling up to another house just a few blocks over from Dream’s. Rather than laying on the horn like he would usually do, Sapnap gave it a single light tap. Almost immediately, the front door opened. Karl stepped out, dressed in a red button down shirt that was tucked into a pair of light pink high-waisted shorts. He waved at the car before looking behind him where George had appeared, tugging on one of his shoes and almost falling over in the process. When he caught his balance and stood up fully, Dream’s breath hitched and he slowly shook his head in awe. He was almost certain that his eyes were popping out of his head and he was drooling from the mouth like a cartoon character, but how could he help himself when George looked like that. The Brit was wearing a red leather skirt that clung tightly to his waist and rolled over the curve of his hips, cutting off on his mid-thigh and leaving porcelain legs exposed. Dream’s eyes worked their way up, lingering for a moment on the strip of pale skin that showed in between the top of the skirt and the bottom of his cropped black top before continuing up to sharp collarbones. He knew that if he looked closer, he would see faint bruises on previously unmarked skin, bruises that he himself had put there earlier in the day. The fact that those marks were so openly on display for anyone to see was both reckless and incredibly, undeniably hot. Dream locked eyes with George as he waltzed his way to the car, Karl by his side, and saw the spark of challenge that lay deep within the other boy’s gaze.

“Hey everyone!” Karl beamed at the group in the back of the car as he slid into the front seat and leaned over to press a chaste kiss to Sapnap’s cheek. George slid in next to Karl and smiled over his shoulder at the three in the back seat, winking not-so subtly when his gaze landed on the blond boy that sat directly behind the driver’s seat, diagonally from him. Dream raised his cigarette to his lips, his other hand gripping his thigh tightly to prevent himself from reaching out to touch the boy who was so obviously teasing him. Quackity smirked back at George and Callahan offered a small wave, both boys completely oblivious to the thick tension that filled the vehicle. When Dream finally tore his eyes away from tight red leather and exposed alabaster thighs, he noticed a light blush had crawled its way up Sapnap’s neck and the nervous tapping on the steering wheel had resumed.

Karl clapped his hands excitedly and beamed at the faces around him. “This is gonna be so fun! Don’t you think so, Sap?”

“Of course!” Sapnap smiled brightly back at his date and pulled the car out into the street before throwing a glare at his friends in the backseat. Quackity looked around incredulously, mouthing “Sap?” over and over again as he failed to stifle his laughter. Dream aimed an elbow into his ribs, which cut his outburst short. He knew that Quackity’s teasing was all in good fun, but he also knew that Sapnap was anxious about involving his friends in his budding love life and that Quackity was absolutely going to get shit from Sapnap as soon as Karl left the car.

The rest of the drive passed quickly. Cool night air dusted their skin and bright stars filled their eyes. As hard as he tried, Dream couldn’t help but allow his gaze to drift to the front seat. Karl’s face was illuminated by joy, a pink hue tinted his cheeks and his focus was entirely on the raven-haired boy in the driver’s seat. But Dream was more interested in the boy next to him.

George’s chin was tilted upwards slightly and his jaw jutted forward. Umber eyes were closed, dark lashes fluttering against pale cheeks. His lips curved into a gentle smile, the rest of his features soft and peaceful against the wind. Cocoa hair flowed behind him, moonlight dancing along each strand as the breeze played with delicate curls. He looked nothing short of angelic. As if he could sense Dream’s stare, George turned in his seat and blinked his eyelids open. In that moment, Dream swore he could see the whole universe, every star, every planet, every galaxy, layed out within umber irises. Voices became distant and his vision blurred. Everything melted away except for the boy in front of him. The two spent a minute simply looking at each other, intently taking in every detail, until the brunette’s lips parted into a bashful smile. It was a secret smile, a smile meant only for Dream. He returned the act, feeling familiar butterflies swirl around his chest. The butterflies picked up their pace as George lifted his hand and moved it forward, brushing the shoulder of Dream’s leather jacket and letting his fingers linger for just a second longer.

“Ash.” A voice floated back from pink lips and a velvet tongue. “From your cigarette.”

Dream’s heart was pounding. George pulled his hand back and rested it in his lap. Viridian eyes tracked it hungrily. It was so funny to him how quickly they transitioned between soft intimacy and red-hot lust. He wanted so badly for George to touch him again, touch him anywhere and everywhere. He wanted pale hands to roam over tanned skin, leaving goosebumps over every inch. He wanted delicate fingers gripping his hair and heavy breaths filling his ears. Before he could make any movements that he would probably regret, Quackity pulled him out of his thoughts.

“We’re here!” he hollered, standing up and throwing his arms in the air as Sapnap drove through the field where the drive-in was located.

There was a chain link fence that separated the parking area from the rest of the field and a small building was set at the back for concessions and bathrooms. The only light came from the headlights of the cars that were lined up in rows facing a massive structure that looked more like a billboard than a movie screen. Previews were rolling, but went ignored by everyone. The air was filled with the sounds of honking cars and laughter. People ran from vehicle to vehicle, greeting their friends, sneaking drinks, spreading gossip. Sapnap parked the car in one of the middle rows on the far right side, waving to the people in the car next to them. Quackity immediately hopped out, with Callahan close behind, and walked over to the groups of people in the cars next to them, undoubtedly trying to find any girl that would talk to him. To Dream’s surprise, George carefully climbed over the front seat and slid next to him.

“I just don’t want to sit next to them when they start making out,” George offered slightly louder than he needed to, nodding his head toward the couple in the front seat. Dream smiled knowingly.

“Of course.”

The blond pretended not to notice the pointed look that Sapnap was throwing his way.

“Oh look!” Karl exclaimed. “We got here just in time! The movie’s starting!”

Headlights went off up and down the rows while people returned to their cars. Callahan had found his way back to Sapnap’s car, taking the seat next to Dream as he and George slid over to make room.

“Where’s Quackity?” Dream asked.

Callahan only shrugged and pulled his leather jacket tighter around his shoulders, his gaze focusing on the bright screen ahead of them. Dream noticed then that the night air was growing cooler around them and suddenly felt something tremor next to him. He looked to his right and saw George with his arms crossed, goosebumps littering pale skin, shivering slightly. Acting instinctively, Dream took off his jacket and wrapped it around the smaller boy. He could feel his cheeks flush as he took in the sight of George’s fragile frame drowning in leather, the difference in their sizes becoming very apparent.

“I don’t need it-” George tried shrugging the jacket off his shoulders, but Dream’s hands held it on by the lapels.

“George, you’re shivering. Just leave it on.”

“But it’s ruining my outfit.”

“I don’t think so. I think it looks good on you.” Dream leaned down to whisper in George’s ear, lowering his voice. “You look like you’re mine.”

Dream let hot breath fan against George’s neck as the boy swallowed hard. He chuckled softly and leaned back in his seat, turning back to the movie. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the brunette draw the leather around him with a grin, slipping his arms into sleeves that were far too long. He smiled to himself and let the screen fill his vision.

Only about ten minutes passed before Dream’s attention was pulled away from the movie. A delicate hand had found its way to rest on his knee. Pale fingers lay still, silently announcing their presence. Forest green eyes flicked down quickly before returning forward. He wanted to swat the hand away and keep them from being seen, but George’s touch was nothing short of intoxicating. It was like sparks were leaving tiny holes in the rough denim of his jeans, lighting a fire in the skin underneath. The hand began moving, sliding up to trail over Dream’s thigh. Fingertips traced shapes and patterns into covered skin. Umber eyes reflected moving lights, giving no clue that the small boy was aware of what he was doing. But Dream knew that he was. Inch by inch, he could feel heat building deep in his stomach at the contact. As soon as fingers began to trail lower, dipping down to teasingly rub circles along the canvas seam of his inner thigh, Dream’s hand snatched at a pale wrist and pulled it away, gripping tightly. George gasped quietly in surprise and his shoulders rose and fell rapidly, but he kept his eyes glued to the movie playing in front of them. As he stared at the boy next to him, who continued to pretend like nothing had happened, Dream let go of the arm that he had still been clutching and let it fall to rest on the seat between them before leaning down to push back dark curls.

“Let’s go,” he breathed onto pale skin just below George’s ear, reveling in how the boy’s chest heaved as he took a deep, steadying breath.

George finally turned his head to address Dream. “Go?”

“Yes you idiot, go,” Dream shot back before lightly shoving the boy toward the car door. He felt a tug on his left arm and looked around to see Callahan giving him a confused look.

“Uhm- bathroom,” Dream offered. Callahan nodded and returned his attention to the movie.

The brunette rushed to follow the blond as he led the way, weaving through the rows of cars and stopping only when they were hidden in the shadows next to the bathrooms.

“What the fuck was that?” Dream wheeled around to face George as he leaned against the chain link fence. “Are you trying to get us caught?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t do anything. And even if I did, no one would have seen it.”

“Callahan was sitting right there!”

George rolled his eyes. “Whatever. You’re not entirely innocent. Giving me your jacket, telling me I’m yours.”

“Look,” Dream sighed. “You’re right. But I know what you’re doing. And it needs to stop.”

“What?” George challenged, narrowing his eyes. “What am I doing?”

“Wha- Look at what you’re wearing! You got all dressed up in the shortest, tightest skirt I’ve ever seen just to come to a drive-in movie? And then you’re trailing your hand up my leg, acting all innocent and shit! I know that you’re just teasing me, trying to get me to do something.”

“Well it worked, didn’t it! I know you didn’t just drag me back here to yell at me!” George retorted.

The two locked eyes, both breathing heavily in frustration, neither one willing to give in.

“Fine then, I’m going back to watch the movie. Maybe Callahan will at least hold my hand or something.” The brunette went to push off the fence and storm away, but he was met with strong hands gripping his wrists, holding him in place.

The smaller boy tilted his face upward revealing pupils blown wide, black almost completely blocking out brown. Dream took a step closer, using his larger frame to box George in against the fence, sure that his own eyes were similarly alight with lust.

“It worked,” he said breathlessly before crashing their lips together.

The kiss was messy and forceful and rough, a kiss full of want. Their teeth knocked together and Dream nipped at George’s lips, hungrily swallowing the quiet gasps that escaped the other boy’s mouth. His hands came up to tangle in chocolate curls as he licked along strawberry lips, a taste that overwhelmed his senses and made his head spin. A gentle tug forced George’s head back and his lips parted further as he let a whimper tumble out. Dream seized his opportunity and deepened the kiss, sliding his tongue over ivory teeth. He shuffled his feet until he was able to slot a thigh between the Brit’s legs, feeling drunk off the moan that was driven into his throat, pushing their bodies closer together until heaving chests pressed flush against each other.

Fuck,” George whined, rocking his hips forward.

Small hands found their way to Dream’s sides, desperately clutching fistfulls of his shirt. The taller boy’s scorching kisses began to travel south, brushing against the corner of George’s mouth and going further down. Dark hair was pulled once more, exposing the pale, unmarked column of his throat where Dream eagerly pressed open-mouthed kisses. As he nipped and sucked marks into milky skin, George’s eyes fluttered shut and his breathy moans filled the air around them. Just as Dream made his way down to begin worshipping prominent collarbones, he heard footsteps rustling through the grass behind them. His head whipped around toward the source of the noise and saw a shadow moving toward the bathroom’s entrance which, he quickly realized, would put them in clear view of whoever was approaching.

“Shit,” he cursed under his breath and dragged George over to the building, pressing them flat against the wall, further into shadow.

His heart beat tattoos into his ribs. He held his breath and waited until the shadow disappeared into the bathroom.

“That was way too close.”

When he looked over at George, Dream was taken aback by the anger that radiated off of him. Arms crossed, eyes narrowed, chest heaving.

“Wha- what’s wrong?”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” George’s voice was dangerously low. “Dream, I am so sick and tired of this. I don’t want to be your fucking secret anymore!”

Dream took a step backward. “What?”

“Oh my god!” George threw his hands in the air and chuckled, though his laughter contained only exasperation and not a trace of humor. “You still don’t get it! We’re done! I can’t do this anymore! You go around acting like this is fine, like having a secret relationship is normal. I’m starting to think that you’re actually ashamed of me and this has nothing to do with a stupid gang rivalry.”

“George…”

“No! You don’t get to sweet talk your way out of this one, it’s done. We’re through.”

Dream’s heart plummeted.

“No no no, George, c’mon,” he pleaded, voice cracking as tears began to sting his eyes. “Just listen to me.”

George opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly they heard shouting break out.

“You motherfucker!” a voice shouted, distinct and clear against the backdrop of other commotion.

“Oh fuck, that’s Sapnap.”

Dream took off running through the rows of cars, shoving his way through the crowds of people that had clumped around the scuffle. When he broke through into the middle of the fighting, he was met with an unfortunate, though not unexpected, sight.

Through the dim lighting and clouds of dust that hung heavily in the air, Dream could see that Sapnap was on his hands and knees on the ground, blood dripping slowly from his nose into the dirt and a bruise already forming around his right eye. Standing above him, Technoblade cracked his knuckles menacingly and drew his foot back, preparing to deliver a crushing kick to Sapnap’s ribs, which were covered only by his leather jacket that was now caked with grime.

“God damnit,” Dream muttered, knowing he would have to do something that he had avoided thus far in his relations with the rival gang. “Get off him!”

He launched himself at Techno, using the weight of his whole body to knock them both to the ground. They hit the dirt hard and Dream felt his breath leave his lungs with the force of the impact. Looking to his side, Techno was already struggling to his feet, coughing and breathing heavily. Someone pulled Dream off the ground. Disoriented, he looked around through the haze until his gaze landed on George, who was standing in the ring of onlookers with a concerned look on his face. Their eyes locked. Time slowed. Without looking away, the brunette tugged the leather jacket off his shoulders, folded it carefully, and placed it in the backseat of Sapnap’s car, before disappearing into the crowd.

Dream’s heart shattered in that moment, blinding him with a sharp pain that was very different but just as strong as the pain he felt soon after, when a fist collided with his jaw. He stumbled to the side, arms flailing uselessly through the air.

“Oh shit!” he heard Quackity’s voice call faintly. “Fuck ‘im up, Dream!”

Dream wheeled around to face Techno, feeling disgust at the malicious smirk that was displayed on his features. He took a step forward and went to cock his fist back, but found himself being dragged backward by mysterious hands. He turned to see who was holding him back and found himself face-to-face with Callahan, who shook his head firmly and continued to grip his arm tightly.

“Really Dream? You’re gonna let your friends hold you back, even after they’re the ones who started it? Come fight me like a man!” Techno hollered, spreading his arms wide in a broad gesture. “It’s time that we settle this rivalry once and for all!”

“You’re insane!” Sapnap yelled, having picked himself up off the ground and hobbled over to stand with his friends.

Technoblade simply barked out a laugh.

“I won’t fight you,” Dream croaked.

“That’s only because you’d lose.”

“No, it’s because I don’t need to. Even though this rivalry is beyond stupid, we can settle this some other way.”

“Oh really?” Techno scoffed. “Well then, since you’re so smart, what do you suggest?”

“A race.”

Techno’s grin broadened. “You’re joking right? A race? Well, I guess if you want to lose that way too, that’s fine by me!”

Dream narrowed his eyes. “I’m serious. And I won’t lose.”

“So be it,” Techno shrugged mockingly.

“Next Saturday, noon, Thunder Road. Be there.”

“Gladly.”

With that, Technoblade turned on his heel and strode out of the circle of onlookers, leaving a deafening silence behind him.

-----

News of the race spread quickly. As of the following Monday, the entire school knew about it and went out of their way to express their support. Throughout the week, Dream and Sapnap were often approached by students that they had never spoken to who offered encouragement, advice, and condolences for the injuries that they were still sporting from their fight at the drive-in. The two boys just laughed it off, feigning confidence, and declared to anyone they talked to that it would be an easy win. They had decided that Sapnap would drive since they would be using Sapnap’s convertible. Every day after school, the four boys would cram into Sapnap’s garage and scour the car for any tweaks it might need. If anything was out of place or worn down, or even just dirty, it was taken care of. They wanted nothing to go wrong.

In addition to anxiety about the upcoming race, Dream also spent the week learning to cope with his broken heart. He had spent the whole weekend in bed, curtains drawn, staring at the blank ceiling. For two days straight, his pillow remained damp with tears as he wallowed in pain and sorrow. Sapnap still didn't know about George, but he knew enough to know that Dream was hurting. He would visit every day, bringing food, tissues, and anything else he could think of in order to help his friend, which Dream appreciated more than he could articulate. When Monday rolled around, the blond was forced out of bed by Callahan and Quackity. Although he dreaded going back to school, he allowed his friends to wrap his leather jacket around his shoulders and pull him out the door. Every day, Dream convinced himself that he could still feel the warmth that George’s body had left on the fabric. Each second spent at school was agony. He was constantly on edge, expecting to round a corner, run into a certain small, brunette boy, and simply burst into tears. However, it appeared that the other boy was trying equally as hard to avoid him, because Dream went the whole week without such a run-in.

And suddenly, Saturday had arrived. Dream had spent the night fading in and out of sleep, haunted by dreams of crashing cars and soft, pale kisses that were just out of reach. He rolled out of bed groggily and checked the time.

“F’ck,” he mumbled, rubbing the sleep from his bleary eyes.

It was almost 10:30, an hour and a half until the race, and thirty minutes before he was supposed to meet Sapnap. They wanted extra time to go over every detail of both the race and the car, hoping to prevent any unfortunate mishaps with some last-minute checks. Dream yawned loudly and stretched, making his way over to an old pile of clothes on the floor. They were the same basic clothes that he wore every day; a white t-shirt and a pair of regular blue jeans, which he would wear with the same scuffed black boots and leather jacket as usual. He took a quick shower, grabbed a piece of toast from his kitchen, and began the walk to Sapnap’s.

The walk wasn’t far, not even ten minutes, but it still gave his mind time to wander. And, as always, it landed on George. Even though the sun was shining brightly and a warm breeze brushed against his skin, Dream felt a chill roll down his arms. How could he have fucked up so badly? A question he had been asking himself for a week now to no avail. He had lost the most important thing in his life. It was more than just losing George’s gentle touch or his burning kisses. Somehow, this beautiful British boy had taken up residence in his heart and wasn’t letting go. Dream loved his bubbly giggle that would turn into an outright cackle when they kept adding to a joke, loved how he was so passionate about writing poetry, a secret hobby that he wouldn’t be caught dead talking about to anyone but Dream, loved how they had spent the entire summer learning everything about each other even though they thought that they would never see each other again. A realization hit him so suddenly that his feet stopped in their tracks, lips parting slightly in surprise at his own train of thought.

Dream loved George.

He knew now that he had always loved George, ever since the first day they met at the beach and he had felt the butterflies come to life in his chest. He knew that when George wasn’t with him, he felt lost and lonely and lifeless. God, how could he have been so stupid to fuck it all up?

Still reeling from his thoughts, Dream walked the rest of the way to Sapnap’s in a daze. Thoughts swirled around his mind relentlessly and his heart continued to pound as he opened the side door to the garage.

“There he is, the man of the hour!” Quackity stood up from where he had been sitting on a stool next to Sapnap’s workbench and began to clap slowly.

Dream gave his head a gentle shake as if it would knock loose the incessant thoughts that were still pounding into his skull. “What do you mean? Sapnap’s the one driving. I’m just there for support”

“Fuck no, I’m not driving.”

Sapnap popped his head out from where he was working under the car. Beads of sweat dotted along his forehead and his cheeks were flushed red.

“What?”

Dream looked around wildly, receiving a shrug from where Callahan was leaning against the far wall.

“I’m a mess over this shit dude, there’s no fucking way I could win this race. I probably can’t even drive a straight line, I’m so fucking shaky.”

“No no no, we can’t back out! Techno would never let us hear the end of it!”

“We’re not backing out, I’m just not driving. You are.”

Dream ran a hand through slicked blond hair. A knot had formed in the pit of his stomach and anxious chills left goosebumps across the back of his neck.

“Look, I’m sorry that we kinda sprung this on you, but if anyone can handle it, it’s you. You’re Dream, the most badass motherfucker around! We all know that you’re gonna kick Techno’s ass, and look good doing it. I promise.” Sapnap had clambored to his feet and placed a reassuring hand on Dream’s shoulder.

Dream looked around at his friends, seeing nods from both Callahan and Quackity. As the gang’s leader, he knew that it was his responsibility to step up, no matter how much he dreaded it. He took a deep breath and forced a smile onto his face.

“Well, thank you boys. I appreciate the vote of confidence and I will gladly accept this as an opportunity to boost my reputation as… what was it you said? ‘The most badass motherfucker around?’” Dream smiled at Sapnap, who simply shrugged and responded with, “It’s true.”

Dream looked around as the boys continued to stare at him, something like admiration in their eyes.

“What are you waiting for? We’ve got a race to win! Don’t just stand there doing nothing!”

The next thirty minutes were a blur as Sapnap went over every aspect of his car in depth with Dream. Callahan and Quackity rushed around, polishing and wiping everything down. When they pulled the car out of the garage, the sleek white paint was near blinding in the brilliant afternoon sun. Dream hesitantly stared at the driver’s seat before hopping in, gripping the steering wheel with white-knuckled hands. The other boys situated themselves in the car; Quackity and Callahan taking their usual spots in the back, Sapnap sliding into the passenger’s seat. All four of them exchanged glances and nodded, just once, before turning to face the road ahead.

It wasn’t Dream’s first time driving Sapnap’s car, but it still took a while to readjust himself to the sensitivity of the brakes and the turning radius. He was beginning to feel a flicker of confidence, that is until he rounded the final corner to Thunder Road.

Thunder Road was the local drag racing spot. It was a wide open stretch of concrete used for drainage under one of the town’s bridges. During the winter, it was dangerously icy, particularly along the sides which sloped up slightly. But during the warmer months, it was the perfect place to hold an event such as the one Dream had instigated. The course was simple enough: racers would start at the designated line, speed down a long open stretch, make a turn around a large support beam for the bridge, and return to the line. Whoever finished first was declared the winner.

As he steered the car down the decline, Dream’s eyes squinted into the sun and his nerves skyrocketed. Crowds of people swarmed the concrete, milling about under the blazing sun. He swore the whole school was there, probably both schools since there was no doubt in his mind that Techno had spent the last week boasting about the race to anyone who would listen. Viridian eyes swept the crowd, searching intently for the one person that he wanted to see more than anyone else, but to no avail. He shook his head for probably the twentieth time that day. Why would George be there anyway? It’s not like they were still together. Dream tried his best to drag his mind back to the task at hand, braking abruptly as he realized he was already at the starting line.

“Woah, careful!” Sapnap exclaimed, jerking forward in his seat at the sudden stop. “Don’t blow my fucking breaks out.”

“Sorry,” Dream mumbled and wiped his sweaty palms against the denim of his jeans. Quackity and Callahan promptly jumped out of the backseat and made their way over to the throng of people.

“Don’t worry, Dream! We’re gonna get you some supporters!” Quackity called over his shoulder, tugging his beanie down over his ears.

“Sap!”

Karl rushed over, practically throwing himself into leather-clad arms, before pulling back with a confused look.

“Why aren’t you driving?”

“Oh uhm- I- you see- well...”

“I asked if I could drive, y’know, since I’m the one who challenged Techno in the first place,” Dream interjected, earning himself an appreciative smile. Karl nodded, looking back at the raven-haired boy with freckled cheeks flushed from the sun.

“By the way, is uh- is George coming?” Dream asked as he pretended to fix something on his sleeve, avoiding eye contact.

“Oh I don’t think so, he said he had a family thing today.”

“Right, right.”

Sapnap clapped a hand on his shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze that said everything he needed it to. Dream turned his head and gave his friend a grateful smile. Before the two had broken their gaze, Dream caught movement from the corner of his eye. A gleaming, jet black car pulled into the space next to them. Red flames lined the sides and heat from the exhaust made the air around them shimmer.

“It’s a beautiful day, don’t you think?” a gravelly voice called over mockingly. “Beautiful day for me to win!”

A round of laughter erupted from the crowd of people in Techno’s backseat. Dream rolled his eyes despite his quickening pulse.

“Yeah whatever, don’t get your hopes up Techno.”

“Oh, don’t tell me that you think your little sidekick is gonna win?” The driver beside them recoiled in fake shock.

Sapnap whirled around, eyes flashing with anger. “Fuck you, Techno.”

Dream reached a hand out to grip Sapnap’s elbow and lowered his voice. “Dude, he’s not worth it.”

Sapnap tightened his jaw and continued glaring at the boy across from them, but didn’t say anything else.

“Thanks for muzzling your pet, Dream. Gotta get him under control.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Karl spoke for the first time, sliding off of Sapnap’s lap, red-hot anger crawling up his neck. “Do you think that just because you have a fancy car and a superiority complex you can go around shitting on everyone? Grow the fuck up.”

Sapnap let out a bark of laughter as Dream’s eyebrows shot up in shock. He could tell that Techno was struggling to keep the anger and surprise off his face, which brought laughter bubbling up from the blond’s chest. His anxiety and nervousness seemed to leave him as he laughed, like he was physically forcing the negative emotions from his body. Techno had no words. He simply narrowed his eyes and turned around, beckoning one of his cronies over.

“Holy shit!” Quackity walked over to the car and leaned against the driver’s side door, having apparently overheard the conversation. “Karl, where did that even come from?”

“Fuck that guy, I’m so sick of him,” the brunette boy replied. “Please Dream, do us all a favor and kick his ass today, either in the race or actually just go beat the shit out of him.”

“Aye aye, captain,” Dream chuckled, raising his hand in an informal salute.

Karl nodded, a firm set to his jaw and a dangerous gleam in his eyes. He bent down and pressed a quick kiss to Sapnap’s lips before wandering off to join the rest of the students.

“Damn,” Sapnap mumbled, starstruck, while a blush set high on his cheeks.

“He’s a keeper for sure,” Quackity quipped, nudging Callahan and gesturing toward the cheerleader’s retreating back.

Dream looked down at his watch.

“Shit,” he hissed. “Five minutes left boys, this is it.”

Sapnap snapped out of his daze and clapped the blond on the shoulder. “Go get ‘em tiger.”

“I second that,” Quackity added and pushed himself off the car.

Callahan gave a single nod, a motion that spoke volumes between the four boys. The two boys standing by the car waited as Sapnap clambered out of the passenger’s seat and made his way to join them, casting one last look toward their friend and leader, before turning toward the crowd. The crowd was standing back from the cars as the rule of the race stated. Sapnap had set this rule because he was certain that Techno would have one of his underlings sabotage his vehicle.

Suddenly, Dream was alone with his thoughts. But rather than allowing himself to be overwhelmed by the nerves and the doubts that were threatening to seep out into his mind, he took deep breaths to steady himself. He closed his eyes and mentally counted along to each inhale and exhale, quieting his thoughts. When his eyes opened again he was calm and collected, ready to destroy Technoblade and this stupid rivalry once and for all.

He started the car and revved the engine. His gaze lifted to the girl standing in between the two cars, raising a hand to block the sun that was reflecting off the midnight black of the enemy’s vehicle.

“Ready boys?” Niki asked, looking from Dream to Techno then back to Dream.

Dream nodded once. Techno gestured vaguely with his hand in a way that said “let’s get this over with.”

“Okie doke. You guys both know the rules. Keep it clean. Go on my mark.”

Niki walked out in front of the cars and raised her arms in the air. Dream’s pulse quickened immediately. He took one last glance at Techno, who was staring straight ahead, his face more serious than Dream had ever seen, then forced his gaze back to Niki’s movements.

Time slowed. Sound faded away. Each shaky breath reverberated around his ears, each rapid beat of his heart pounding through his body. His vision narrowed. Eyes focused only on the concrete ahead of him and the pale arms that stretched through the rays of sun, arms that could potentially determine the outcome of the race, arms that were swinging downward quickly.

Dream’s eyes widened. All of his senses returned at once and he slammed his foot down on the gas. The screech of tires and the roar of the engine bounced around the underside of the bridge while plumes of smoke filled the space where the cars used to be. He faintly heard a chorus of cheers going up from the assembled crowd. Wind ripped through his hair as he pushed the accelerator to higher and higher speeds. Focusing on the road in front of him and the pillar that marked where he would turn, Dream did not even notice his inky opponent drawing closer until he felt a jolt. He wildly whipped his head around and felt fear begin to grip his heart. The hubcaps of Techno’s tires had come off to reveal jagged spikes of hard metal, spikes that were extending as they continued to drive. The jolt had been from Techno’s bumper making contact with the back right corner of Dream’s car, but the barbs growing from the wheels were getting ever closer to the side of Dream’s car.

“Fucking hell,” Dream swore under his breath and veered slightly to the left in an attempt to escape the weapons that were threatening to tear through the outside of the white convertible.

He knew that he was going off course as he continued to speed across the concrete toward the support beam, but he also had no other choice. If he tried to correct his trajectory, the side of Sapnap’s car would get decimated past the point of repair. And he absolutely couldn’t let that happen.

He tore his gaze away from the incoming spikes and focused back on the turning point, which was approaching rapidly. Dream would have to take a longer, wider turn since he couldn’t get close to Techno’s car. He let up on the gas slightly so that when he whipped around the pillar he wouldn’t completely spin out. White knuckles tightened around the clutch as he shifted gears and allowed Techno to edge past him going into the turn. The black car pulled ahead, jerking stiffly to the right when Techno pulled hard on the steering wheel. Dream was forced to veer around the bumper ahead of him, spinning the wheel in a tight turn. The tires under him skidded and his breath caught in his throat. If he spun out now, the race was over; there would be no way for him to catch up, let alone win. Yet, he had no other option than to keep the car going on the same tight curve. After what seemed like an eternity, his vehicle found traction and he was finally able to breathe again before he sped off in pursuit, the air from his lungs getting snatched away by the acceleration of his foot pressing flat against the floor.

Tires raced over cracked concrete as the cars flew toward the finish line, both drivers gripping their steering wheels with sweating palms. White chased after black, making up ground slowly, too slowly. A familiar knot had formed in the stomach of the second palace driver, his leather-clad shoulders rising and falling rapidly, breathing becoming more and more unstable. Finally, he began to overtake the car ahead of him, inch by inch, until he was just ahead of the inky blackness. But it wasn’t enough. Techno could surge back by him at any moment, he would have to do something in order to knock the other racer out of the running completely. Dream took another quick look over his shoulder at Techno and knew that, despite his forced, cool exterior, his rival was just as anxious as he was. He had an idea. Suddenly, he jerked his car to the right, directly into the other vehicle’s path.

“What the fuck!” He heard a hoarse voice bellow from behind him. The sound of tires screeching and skidding made their way to Dream’s ears. One quick peek told him that he had been successful; Techno had been forced to swerve to avoid Dream’s car, which had caused him to lose control and spin out.

The blond let out a whooping cheer as he blasted through the finish line, lifting his arms in victory. He heard clapping and yelling break out behind him, followed by the sound of hundreds of footsteps racing toward him. The crowd of supporters had rushed the car, piling into the seats and clapping Dream on the back. He couldn’t wipe the broad grin from his face as he looked around.

“Holy shit! You did it!” Sapnap roared, almost knocking Dream off his feet as he stepped out of the driver’s seat.

“We did it!” Dream shouted in response.

He was promptly engulfed in a bear hug, hands gripping leather warmed by the sun.

“Holy shit!” Two smaller pairs of arms found their way around Dream when Quackity and Callahan had cut their way through the swarm of people.

The blond pulled away from the hug and beamed at his friends. Quackity’s beanie had been jostled, Sapnap’s white headband was stained with sweat, and Callahan looked wide-eyed and overwhelmed, but they all smiled back. Dream looked around at the assembled students until his eyes drifted toward the top of the concrete wall where a small figure sat, pale arms wrapped around their knees and dark hair reflecting the sun.

George.

As he watched the figure stand up and begin to turn around, Dream knew that there was only one way he wanted to celebrate his victory. The blond sprinted off into the crowd and elbowed his way through the sea of people. When he finally broke through and blinked away the blinding sunlight, his feet continued to carry him up the sloped edge of Thunder Ridge’s wall.

“George!” His voice cracked as he yelled. “George, wait! Please!”

He saw the figure pause. Finally cresting the top of the incline, his breathing was ragged as he let his eyes rake over the boy in front of him. Dream took in the delicate arms that were crossed more in self-defense than with attitude, the expression of hurt and longing that lingered in red-rimmed umber eyes.

“You came,” Dream said breathlessly. “Karl said you were busy.”

“You asked about me?”

“Of course I did.”

George bit his lower lip in hesitation before looking at the ground and mumbling, “I couldn’t stay away, I had to know what happened.”

Dream took a step closer, scanning the other’s face for any sign of discomfort at the action.

“George, can I tell you something?”

“I don’t know, aren’t you worried that people are going to see us together?” George spat the words quietly but with a sudden venom.

“I don’t care anymore. George, I love you,” Dream breathed out.

The brunette’s head shot up, letting out a quiet gasp while his eyes widened in surprise.

“Wha- what?”

“I love you, George. I’m sorry that it took me so long to see it.”

The two locked eyes, chests rising and falling together. Dream worried his bottom lip between his teeth before he continued.

“As soon as I won, I knew that there was only one thing that I wanted to do. I didn’t want to go shove it in Techno’s face, as tempting as that was, and I didn’t want to celebrate it with the rest of the school. I just wanted to do one, simple little thing.” He took another step closer, placing himself directly in front of the smaller boy who tilted his head up, maintaining eye contact. Dream felt like he could drown in the pools of warm chocolate that filled the other boy’s eyes.

“And what was that?” George whispered.

“This.”

Dream lifted his hands to gently cup the brunette’s jaw. Tan thumbs rubbed slow circles into pale skin while viridian eyes counted every star that was speckled across flushed cheeks. Dark lashes fluttered closed at the contact. The blond took a moment to truly appreciate the beautiful boy that he held in his hands. He knew that pretty much the entire school was watching, including his three best friends, but all the doubts and anxieties cleared from his mind, leaving just the two of them as he lowered his head to press their lips together.

There weren’t fireworks or sparks or any of the usual clichés that are associated with true love’s kiss. There was simply warmth and joy and compassion and bliss. There were sunsets and sunrises, limbs tangled under sheets and fingers intertwined under stars. There were shared smiles, and shared tears from a shared heartbreak that did nothing but bring the two closer together. And there was love. Love that was powerful enough to expand and destroy the universe, destroy several universes even, but that was content to exist within two people.

And Dream knew in that moment that everything would be okay.