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used to love his mystery (but now he’s just exhausting)

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“Missed a note,” Dream laughed, leaning back against the jukebox that rested in the sand. His boots were propped up, edging just before the shore. His legs were crossed, black pants covering his legs in contrast to Tommy’s ripped shorts and brittle knees riddled with nooks and crannies of dents and scars and bruises. He crossed his arms over his head and peeked over at Tommy struggling to operate a guitar, the blond groaning from beside Dream. He dropped the guitar once again for the millionth-time back into his lap defeatedly. 

“Shut up, I’m doing my best,” Tommy whined, trying to maneuver his grime and explosion riddled fingers over the strings. They struggled to fit over the frets, the joints locking before they could fully stretch over and press down on the strings. It was a pain in the ass when Tommy kept trying to strum a chord, and his fingers would have gone completely numb without him even noticing, letting rip the ugliest sounds known to man— Wilbur would be laughing his ass off. Tommy was trying to play along with the jukebox, ‘wait’ poking out of the slit that housed the music. It wasn’t that hard to play along with, but somehow Dream found Tommy’s failure slightly amusing. His muscles felt stiff, locking at every possibility even when he wasn’t even moving. 

Tommy continued on anyway.

“You sure, Tommy?” Dream mocked. In the same moment, Tommy missed a fret and strummed the guitar, producing a grotesque noise that sounded more like slamming a piano. 

Tommy smacked his hands against the guitar frustratedly, hands coming up to pull at his hair. He sighed, resting the guitar in the sand at his side, leaving the neck sitting in his lap. 

The two had been at it all morning (well, mostly Tommy), having woken up at the crack of dawn due to a nightmare— although he withheld that information from Dream— and pulled out Wilbur’s old guitar from his enderchest. He wasn’t worried about much, resting in the sand trying to practice, until Dream showed up and sent Tommy into a mild panic attack. He pleaded, begged for Dream not to take the guitar, to let him keep the item just this once. To his surprise, the man agreed. Tommy could keep the guitar on the condition that Dream could watch and sit with Tommy while the boy played. 

It was a very minor condition, and Tommy almost wanted to ask the man to punish him more for having the instrument, for daring to go against him, how dare Tommy ask Dream for something after going against the rules— but he decided against it. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right? Tommy wasn’t about to question the man’s leniency when it meant he could have the world in his hands (even if he could barely play it). 

Another awkward strum sounded another horrid noise. A few seagulls scattered into the sky at the ugly notes, their caws echoing into Dream and Tommy’s ears as they scampered away. The two laughed.

“Aw, man!” Tommy giggled, a playful bit of anger seeping into his tone. “Even the ‘gulls hate me!”

Dream laughed at that, the tea-kettle sounding whistle echoing throughout the beach. Something in Tommy’s chest swelled at the show of positivity; Dream always seemed on edge most of the time. He felt his bones warming, the incessant trembling in his fingers since Dream showed having slowed somewhat. Tommy followed with the man, placing the guitar down before doubling over in the sand laughing. 

When he managed to catch his breath finally, he sighed. Dream was still in the sand, wheezing at the top of his lungs.

I wish everyday could be like this, Tommy mused to himself, we could be pals.

But something in Tommy knew it wasn’t true. As much as he could hope and beg and plead for Dream to give him this one thing, not only was it selfish; it was very rare for Dream to show him leniency, to bend the rules a bit just for him. It was selfish . It wasn’t fair to Dream who tried so hard, and it wasn’t fair for Tommy to play the man such an ugly sounding song. The least he could do is give Dream some music for helping him and caring for him so much; but Tommy couldn’t even do that , shown by the way even the waves in the ocean seemed to be running away from the notes, the tide coming in shorter and shorter each time. 

Tommy could enjoy this moment as much as he wanted; but none of it would matter. 

Dream was going to ask for the guitar back at some point. Tommy wouldn’t be able to keep it, and it would be tossed in along with his armor and weapons either that night or the next day. It wasn’t Tommy’s place to keep it, because it was Dream’s. Dream knew Tommy had it, so it wouldn’t be his anymore. That’s how it worked.

No, it’s not, a voice whispered. 

The guitar was Dream’s, Tommy’s armor was Dream’s, and so was everything else in Logstedshire. 

And as the next day would have it, things were reset.

The guitar was taken from Tommy’s bedside where he’d left it that night. He wasn’t very hopeful that he’d see it in the morning, but he wanted to at least say goodbye, say goodbye to Wilbur’s gift. When Tommy woke up, Dream ushered him over to the walls of Logsted, digging a hole and collecting his weapons and armor for the day. When the explosion sounded throughout the area, it finally clicked that the guitar wasn’t thrown in the pile.

“Dream?” Tommy muttered hesitantly, catching the attention of the man who snapped his gaze upwards at his name. “W—… where’s my— guitar?”

Dream’s head tilted downwards. He was mad, he was mad, he was so mad and Tommy messed up why did he say something why did he ask—

Dream pulled the guitar from his inventory, holding it by the neck. Tommy stared quietly, hands trembling.

And then there was a sickening crack . Wood was thrown to the side in a heap after the guitar was smashed. Tommy scrambled into the grass, grasping at the remaining pieces of his— the guitar, tears welling up in his eyes. 

The splinters he’d gathered afterwards hurt almost as bad as the betrayal.

But it wasn’t betrayal, the voice whispered, it was the rules .

And for the first time, Tommy could agree.