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soon goodbye, now love

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What did my fingers do, before I met him?
What did my heart do, with its love?
— Sylvia Plath, from “Three Women”



Heathrow Airport, Dream thinks, is probably closer to hell on earth than anywhere else.

And yeah, okay, maybe he’s just tired from the eight and a half hour journey from Orlando, and maybe it’s because there’s a baby behind him in the immigration line that seems intent on screaming its guts out for the rest of eternity, and it could also be due to the fact that for years he hasn’t even crossed the state lines of Florida and now he’s here, in London, a continent and an ocean away from everything he’s ever known, his home, his family, Patches, Nick —

“Are you okay?”

The question comes from a woman in her mid-to-late fifties, voice quivering with concern, asking Dream if he’s okay. It’s almost laughable at how their positions should definitely be swapped, but he gratefully takes the interruption from his own thoughts.

“Sorry, um, yeah. I’m fine, thank you,” he tells her, voice raspy with disuse. He swallows awkwardly, quietly regretting not taking that last glass of water the air hostess had offered him.

She smiles, eyes wrinkling at the corners. “I’m sure you are, love. Just saw you shaking there a bit, wanted to check everything was alright.”

“Thank you, that’s very kind of you,” Dream tells her, wondering if he should tack on a “ma’am” to the end of his sentence — something about her crisp accent makes him want to bring out his best manners, a trace of Southern charm.

The security guard ahead of them barks out a sharp, “Next!”

“Well, I suppose that’s my cue.” The lady jerks her overstuffed handbag higher up her arm, then pats Dream fastidiously on his hand. “Don’t get yourself into trouble now, love.”

Dream chuckles. “I’ll try my best.”

Then, it’s a blur of security scans and handing over his passport and answering the gruff-faced immigration officer’s questions; “So what’s the purpose of your visit?”

“Uh, pleasure.” Dream shouldn’t blush at that one, but heat blossoms up the side of his neck regardless.

Finally, finally, he’s making his way to baggage claim, scanning impatiently for his suitcase. There are too many people in the arrivals hall, and as much as he tries to block them out, checking once, twice that his face mask is secure over his nose and mouth, tugging the front of his hoodie over his head to obscure as much of the rest of his face as possible, he can’t help but freeze every time it seems like someone is approaching him.

Logically, Dream knows that nobody has reason to think he’s in London. It was never, ever a potential reality; they’d told the fans multiple times that he would be waiting for George in Florida, that Dream travelling to the UK wasn’t going to happen — and when Sapnap went and came back, alone, that fact was thoroughly cemented.

Until last week, with a conversation so recent Dream could close his eyes and recall it with perfect clarity.

Dream had been editing a thumbnail, idly tapping around on Photoshop. George was in VC with him; sleepy, more of a silent presence than anything else. And then,

“I just got a new email from the Visa Office,” George had said, quietly.

Dream froze. This didn’t seem like it was leading up to a celebration.

“Yeah?” He said, encouragingly. Nervous, he drummed his fingers against his water bottle.

In his headphones, he heard George’s hesitation; Dream was so attuned to his every move that he could practically see George pulling his lower lip between his teeth.

“Hey,” he whispered, heart aching with the urge to be there, to sweep George into his arms and fold the two of them into one. “It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not okay,” George said, finally, and to Dream’s terror he could hear the beginning of a sob tearing itself from George’s throat.

“What happened?”

It came out in a jagged mess, a jumble of fragmented sentences and shaky breaths.

“They, they said they need more time, that my visa is still processing, like, ugh — Dream, how is it still processing, it’s been months, God, this is so stupid, they didn’t even give me a timeline or anything, I could be stuck here until 2023, I just — I just, I can’t do it, I’m so alone here, fuck, I just feel so alone, — and there George’s voice hitched, and then he truly broke down into tears, uncontrollable, drowning Dream in the sheer agony of it all, cracking him under the need to fix this, to make it right, to be with George.

So after that, purchasing a British Airways ticket to London didn’t seem so daunting after all, really.

“You’re not serious,” George had said, incredulously, when Dream had forwarded him the confirmation email.

“Um…Surprise?”

“Dream, you’re not serious,” George had repeated, and with his facecam on this time, Dream could see all the awe and joy blooming in his eyes.

“It’s not a permanent solution, I know,” he said, a little self-consciously, “But I thought, maybe, it could make things a little bit better if we could be together.”

George’s lips twisted up in a teasing smile. “If we could be together?”

“Shut up,” Dream muttered, embarrassed. “You know what I mean.”

“I do,” George had said, so genuinely it flushed Dream with warmth from head to toe. “Thank you, Dream.”

And four days later, Dream was pulling Nick into a hug, kissing his mom goodbye on the cheek, giving Patches one last cuddle. It had all happened so quickly it’d almost felt unreal, with barely enough time for Dream to process that okay, this was really happening. He was going to finally meet George.

“‘Scuse me,” a balding man says, brushing past Dream to get to his trolley, tugging him abruptly out of his memories.

It’s perfect timing, actually — he sees his suitcase trundling along the conveyor belt and heaves it off, nearly squashing his toes in the process.

“Alright,” Dream says to himself. “Okay.” He pulls his bag behind him, nodding politely at the officers in the non-customs line as he passes through the queue.

Dream steps out through the glass sliding door, and just like that, he’s in London.

It’s the air that hits him first, so different from Florida’s muggy humidity — not necessarily cleaner, not this close to the city, but sharper, brisker, more alive, somehow. The cold wind teases at the sliver of Dream’s exposed skin, making his eyes water, and he blinks, disoriented. Around him, the bustle of travellers ebbs and flows, families calling out to one another, businessmen scurrying around with their briefcases, tourists following a guide into a shuttle bus.

Dream soaks it all in for a moment. He’s here. He’s made it. The smile under his mask would probably scare everyone in the vicinity with how wide it is, but he can’t help it.

He pulls out his phone, taps out a quick text to George.

(13:54) landed!!

(13:54) ok

(13:54) you could be a little more excited

(13:54) OK!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dream tries not to laugh, he really does.

(13:55) hopping in a cab now. should be there in like an hour :)

(13:55) Going to shower text me when ur nearby

(13:55) aww are you making yourself look good for me?

(13:55) ew

(13:55) you’re going to have gross airport germs on you btw so you need to shower too

Dream strides up to the nearest available taxi, reciting George’s address that he’s long since committed to memory. As they pull away from the airport, he grins to himself, typing out another message.

(13:55) if you wait we could save some water… if you know what i mean ;)

(13:55) shut up or i’ll lock u out of my house just like i did to sapnap

(13:56) you would NEVER

(13:56) ?

(13:56) Ok actually showering now bye

(13:56) see u soon georgie

Pocketing his phone again, Dream lifts his head to see they’re firmly stuck in traffic. He groans; now that he’s here, in a new city, in the same city as George, the itch to be with him is practically unbearable. His whole body is thrumming with anticipation — Dream has never been a patient man, and right now his frustration is most definitely getting the best of him.

He presses the little intercom button next to him, and leans forward.

“Hey, sorry, do you know how long it’s going to take?”

The cab driver meets his eyes in the rearview mirror with a grin.

“We’ll be out of the worst of it soon enough, don’t you worry.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

Idly, Dream fiddles with the rope bracelet on his wrist — a gift he got in his P.O. box months ago, now fraying slightly at the edges from wear and tear.

The cabbie coughs, the rasp of a smoker bleeding into his rough accent. “You’re American, yeah?”

Dream nods. “Florida. This is my first time coming to the UK, actually.”

“Oh, really? What brings you ‘cross the pond then?”

“Just visiting a — a friend of mine,” Dream says, unable to stop the word from catching in his throat. Friend. Technically accurate. But it simply isn’t enough to encapsulate what George means to him. ‘Friend’ is too mundane, too run-of-the-mill to cover everything they are. ‘Brother,’ which he uses with Nick more often than not, doesn’t feel right either. Dream doesn’t like to dwell too much on as to why that is.

“Not a girlfriend, then?” The cab driver asks knowingly.

Dream winces. “Um, no.”

The old man laughs, guttural and low. “Sore subject? My wife always tells me I’m too nosy.”

“No, not at all. Just, um, it’s complicated.”

“Oh, if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard that one before.”

It wasn’t really that complicated, though. Or maybe it was. Dream hadn’t seriously entertained the idea of a relationship in far too long, convincing himself he was too busy with Youtube, and the merch company, and a million other side projects.

And, obviously, George. It always came back to George. George’s inevitable move to Florida had taken up the majority of Dream’s brain space for months — well, if he was being honest, years. When Dream looked into the future, trying to fit a girlfriend into that dynamic just didn’t work. It was an equation with no solution, a jigsaw puzzle without a corner piece. And metaphors aside… Dream knew there was something else holding back his heart. A pipe dream, something too scary to consider most of the time, reserved only for those fleeting moments late at night where he could summon the bravery to really think about it.

Dream knocks his head against the window, staring out at the foreign city. Buildings blur past, and he begins to doze off, weariness tugging at his eyelids as the adrenaline from the flight starts to fade away.

Oddly enough, he finds himself remembering the early days of Youtube. That peculiar, beautiful, terrifying time — a promise to Nick and George on his lips and a future full of wonder ahead of all of them. He’d never told any of them this, but the night after they’d posted their first official ‘Dream Team’ video, he’d been so nervous he ran straight to the bathroom and threw up. And then he’d cried.

His mom had been the one to find him, curled up half-slumped with his back against the cool tile of the bathroom wall. Eyes thick with tears, cheeks stained a blotchy red, and it had just been so embarrassing.

“What if it all goes wrong?” He’d blurted out, childish and plaintive. “What if I’ve just got this whole thing upside down, and we fail? And it’s all my fault?”

“Oh, sweetheart.” She’d sat down next to him, tucking his head into the crook of her neck. “It does nobody any good if you dwell on what might happen. You’ve done your best, yeah?”

Dream had nodded, raggedly.

“Then that’s all that matters. You just need to focus on what you can control. The rest is out of your hands. Sitting around worrying over ‘what-ifs’ won’t get you anywhere, ducky.”

And yet here he is, something tight and painful burning in his chest as he thinks about what if, what if, what if. If he and George will instantly fall into their overly comfortable dynamic, if there’ll be a brief moment of awkwardness, if the way their friendship blurs at the edges will bloom into something bigger, something Dream can’t control, loosened by the fact that George will be right there in the flesh, all crooked smiles and sarcastic quips and lean limbs. If Dream will be able to repress what he’s been pushing down for so long, if he’ll give into it and change everything, for better or for worse.

His mind wanders, unable to sit still. When Dream had booked that plane ticket, he’d been hasty — but he hadn’t been stupid. He knows that there’s a chance he might forget to be careful; that someone, somehow, will shoot suspicious eyes in his direction and know exactly who he is. London is such a far cry from his bubble of Orlando, his house, the mall he’d mustered up the courage to go to just once. It’s unpredictable. It’s terrifying.

And it’s the pressure, really, that keeps him awake in the late hours of the night; anxiety is a familiar beast, one that has kept Dream company for years, and it tells him over and over that he isn’t enough. Because of the simple fact that he’s Dream — whatever he does just won’t be enough.

So maybe that’s why he’s taken so many risks in his career. Arguably too many, like when he puts his heart out only for the world to stamp all over it, and then he goes and does it again the next day. He’s been told that it’s not normal how much he can handle — that no sane person would do what he does, that he pushes it too far, that at some point, something will have to give and something will have to snap. To break.

But the thing is: he can’t stop, nor does he want to. Because there’s too much to lose. Too much more to keep fighting for. Milestones to reach, ideas that fight for space in his brain till they’re screaming at him, the constant, debilitating, earth-shattering fear of failure that feels like a hot iron brand against his spine, keeping him moving, constantly. Dream doesn’t remember what an empty silence feels like, not anymore — it’s always too much, too little, never enough — a chasm of self-doubt and desperation yawning open under his feet as he runs, and runs, and runs.

Newton’s first law, he recalls, dredging it up from a vague memory of his middle school science class: an object in motion stays in motion. Dream hasn’t stopped to breathe in so long he thinks it would be a miracle if his body still knew how to perform the function.

And sometimes he wonders if it makes him a bad person to love the fame. To love the fans, to love the views, to love the attention. Not in a shallow way, not at all, but as pure as can be; genuine, complete, absolute, love. It’s a source of contention, Dream’s found out the hard way, to be as open as he is about loving his fans — but he truly does. Sure, the success he forged for himself came about through hard work and determination, but it grew because of the people who became invested, became followers, became ‘stans.’

How can he not love them? When they’ve gilded his wings, fixed the cracks in his marble, held up his pedestal with steady arms? When they’ve transformed him into something more than human?

Cynics call him a brand, a conglomerate, a machine. Dream thinks the reality is much more simple. He’s taking on his namesake — a man becomes a myth.

Outside, grey clouds break, and the rain begins to fall.



“And will you be paying by card or cash?”

“Uh, card, please.” Dream taps his phone against the reader, marvels quietly at the pound sign on the display, so mundane and so foreign that it twists his gut over as he’s hit once again by the stunning realisation that this, all of this, is real.

He looks up at the white stucco house in front of him — George is in there, and George is real, too.

The cabbie tips his cap and drives off, and just like that Dream is alone, standing on the sidewalk as the rain pours down, cold and relentless and making his hoodie more and more uncomfortably wet by the second.

Dream feels suddenly overcome with the urge to do something, anything, before he goes inside, to drown out his thudding heartbeat and live in the moment — a millisecond entirely for himself — so like a child, he tugs his mask down and sticks his tongue out, trying to catch a raindrop in his mouth. He doesn’t even care who might see.

Behind him, he hears the creak of a door.

“Dream?”

The lump in his throat expands, presses against the sides of his teeth and spills messily into the space between his tongue and his lips. Home, he thinks deliriously. This feels like coming home.

“George,” he breathes out, spinning on the heel of his foot, barely able to blink before a figure is running at him, arms looping themselves around the curve of his neck, a warm face tucking itself into the crook under his jaw, a body pressed up against his so tight it knocks the wind out of Dream as his hands scrabble for purchase — stability is found in George’s hair tangled through his fingers, in the way he can curl his wrist just so and enclose the breadth of George’s waist in a perfect embrace.

Maybe it lasts a minute, maybe even more — God, Dream couldn’t give less of a fuck, not when George is clinging to him like this, breaths coming hot and shaky against his cold skin, imbuing new life into him. When they finally detach, Dream drops his hands to George’s hips, not even bothering to pretend it’s for any other reason than to touch, to have, to hold.

They make eye contact, finally, and oh, those few inches of height Dream has on him means George has to look up at him through his lashes, and that’s not something he was prepared for at all. George’s eyes are suspiciously red, but Dream won’t call him on it — the rain streaming down his cheeks is only rain if nobody looks too closely.

“Hi,” Dream says, stupidly.

“You idiot. I just showered,” George says. The beam on his face betrays him.

“Hey,” Dream says, cocking his head. “I didn’t ask you to run out into the rain.”

George steps back, and Dream mourns their closeness like a lost limb. “Well, it’s still your fault.”

Dream is greedy, he can’t help it; he ignores George’s words to drink him all in. He’s grinning like a maniac, his cheeks hurt from it, but he hopes it says everything that he can’t bring himself to vocalise. I’m with you, I’m here. You’re not alone anymore, George. I’m here.

George purses his lips and inspects himself with a disdainful look over. “We should go inside.”

“What?” Dream is looking at him, too. Less disdain, more slack-faced awe. “Oh, yeah, we probably should.”

Dream heaves his suitcase off the curb, drags it awkwardly behind him as George pulls a key from his pocket and unlocks the door. It opens to a carpeted lobby, and Dream feels a twinge of guilt as his waterlogged sneakers create damp imprints.

“Oh my god, hurry up,” George mutters. “We’re going to get hypothermia, or something.”

The lift is old, rickety, and very, very small. George is undoubtedly the most interesting thing about it.

“Why are you staring at me?”

“Um.”

“Wow, eloquent.”

“You’re wearing a white T-shirt,” Dream says dumbly.

George folds his arms self-consciously, then shoots Dream a glance, lips quirked up at the corner. “Stop.”

Dream splays his hands, helpless, unable to drag his gaze away from the way the translucent fabric clings to George’s skin — he should avert his eyes, probably, he should at least try to be a little bit fucking normal and not ogle his best friend within seconds of meeting him, but the jut of George’s hipbone is sinful, tantalising, better than every wet dream he’s ever had wrapped into one.

With a jerk, the lift comes to a stop.

“After you,” Dream says, and prays that the rasp in his voice goes unnoticed.

From the way George’s eyes flash, that prayer clearly went unanswered. He moves ahead of Dream, pushes the door to a flat marked with the number ‘5’ open.

“Well, this is it. My awesome apartment,” George says dryly, punctuated with a flourish.

Dream has seen bits of it here and there, has tried to slot together the glimpses in his mind, but it doesn’t compare to actually walking in and knowing — this is George. This is where he takes off his shoes when he gets home, this is where he cooks dinner (or, more often, reheats takeout), this is where he once stubbed his toe so badly it bruised dark purple, and he’d complained about it until Dream promised to kiss it better. Dream had only been half-joking.

“It’s…really nice,” he says, turning this way and that to take it all in.

George snorts. “It’s whatever,” he says, carefully matter-of-fact.

Dream remembers, how when George had moved out of his parents and into this flat, he’d called it “not a forever home.” The implication had gone unsaid, but mutually understood. Forever home was three best friends and a cat in Florida, something to look forward to and buy new setups for and yearn for till their bodies ached — a place where they’d all feel complete.

He shivers. George’s apartment is chilly, and the rain has long since seeped into his skin by now.

“Fuck, I need to change my clothes.”

George drops his jaw exaggeratedly, eyes wide. “Whoa. I get that reference.”

“Ha-ha. Do I get a bedroom, George? Or are you making me sleep on the floor?”

“Yeah, the guest bedroom is that one,” George gestures airily to a door at the end of the corridor. “And now I need to shower, again.”

“I told you,” Dream says, shrugging. “You’re the one who decided to get yourself soaked, instead of just waiting in the doorway like any normal person would.”

George flushes, and Dream relishes in the fact that he can track exactly how the colour blooms in the apples of his cheeks.

“You were standing there like, like — an absolute nimrod. I had to get your attention somehow.”

Dream pauses on his way to the guest bedroom, something puzzling him.

“Wait, how did you know I’d arrived? I hadn’t even texted you yet.”

George’s flush grows impossibly redder. “I can see your location on Snapchat. I was bored, so I randomly checked it and you were literally on my street. Like, the odds of that are so low, right?”

“You creep! You were stalking me, admit it,” Dream teases, but there’s a flutter in his chest, some unexpected burst of affection.

“Shut up. And go get dressed, you’re dripping puddles everywhere, it’s annoying.”

“It’s water, it’ll evaporate.”

George makes a shooing motion with his hands. “Go!”

“You sure you don’t want to come with me?” Dream says, pitching his voice a little lower, waggling his eyebrows, joking.

“You sure you wouldn’t get too distracted?” George shoots back, quick with the retort. “I’m not even naked, and you still can’t stop looking at me.”

A surprised noise finds its way out of Dream. He clenches the handle of his suitcase so tightly his knuckles go stark white; it’s pathetic, really, how just a few words from George have him this caught off guard.

“That’s not true,” he attempts lamely. “You’re like, basically naked.” And Dream needs to stop this conversation right now, before thoughts of naked and George start coalescing into something dangerous.

George’s smile is all teeth. “Well now I’m going to go and be actually naked, in my shower, alone. Bye, idiot.”

He leaves Dream dumb-struck in the corridor, going into his bedroom and locking the door so loudly it echoes.

And okay, yeah, Dream is beginning to wonder if maybe this trip was him biting off far more than he could ever possibly chew.

He shifts his weight — teeters on a precipice, feels the pull of the ocean as it begs him to leap off that cliff. He closes his eyes and George’s phantom figure stands in front of him, beckoning, eyes bright with mischief and a thousand dark promises.

With deep, measured breaths, Dream shakes his head, swallows, and heads into the guest room.

Five minutes later, he’s stripped down and grimacing as the heavy pressure of the shower beats down against the knots in his upper back. The pain is satisfying — he embraces it, rolling his shoulders to work out the stiffness. He struggles with the settings at first, but finally manages to get the water piping hot, scalding enough that he’ll surely be red once he’s done; it works to erase the lingering remnants of the rain, but does nothing to wipe away the way George looked after standing in it.

Dream reaches for the shower gel. It’s brand new; the bottle claims to be vanilla-scented, moisturising, deeply nourishing, paraben-free — and it makes him smile, thinking about how George must have gone and picked it up from the drugstore specially for him. Utilitarian, he lathers his body, scrubs at the grime he’s picked up on his journey with blunt nails till every last speck is gone.

Then he bites his lip, and thinks about if George is already done with his shower, if he’s waiting for Dream, distractedly scrolling through TikTok on the living room sofa.

Because there’s a choice to be made here. On one hand, Dream could very easily just rinse off, get out of the shower and join him.

Or…

Or, he could let himself give into temptation and take another few minutes to choose the bad decision, to dig himself deeper into the hole that very likely could become his grave.

He shouldn’t. He knows he shouldn’t, for a million different reasons — the most glaring one being that he’s in George’s apartment, for god’s sake, he needs to get a grip — but there’s only so much a man can resist, and Dream can’t get that stupid, wet, white T-shirt out of his fucking mind. It’s impossible for him to forget the way George’s voice rolled around the words, ‘You still can’t stop looking at me,’ in that beautifully, gorgeously condescending tone, or how it made arousal curl in his gut like honey, a low, heady thrum.

Shamefully, he reaches down, and his body immediately lights up at the touch — he’s painfully hard, in desperate need of friction. Dream sucks in a shaky breath as he tightens his grasp, working himself over faster and faster, legs threatening to buckle on the slippery tiled floor.

And if he’s in, well he’s all in, isn’t he, so who’s to stop him from conjuring up the memory of George’s slim hips in his hands, the roughness of his stubble grazing against Dream’s jaw as they embraced, the sharp angle of his collarbone, jutting out, a raindrop placed perfectly in its hollow that Dream had wanted, fleetingly, to lick up — he wants so much, so, so much of George it scares him to his core sometimes.

He runs a ragged hand through his hair, trembling as the churning emotions in him solidify into lust, his mind numb to everything but George, George, George. His cock swells, and he runs a firm thumb over the head, pressing — just so — and groaning as waves of pleasure roll through him.

A whimper drops from his lips, muffled by the shower spray but loud enough to be embarrassing — loud enough to make Dream screw his eyes closed and not draw this out any longer than it has to be, jerking himself off as his chest rises and falls furiously, steam curling around his ankles and his calloused palm dragging up, down, up, down, the slick sound echoing around him, his arousal reaching its crescendo, blinding him into incoherence.

Dream comes, abruptly, with a low, shuddering groan; sticky spend paints across his knuckles, his abdomen, even the fucking glass door of the shower. For a moment, he’s weightless, floating on a high, the persistent itch under his skin sated and content. He muses: if George got impatient and barged into the bathroom right now, how would he react? Would it be disgust that filled out his features, or, Dream dares to imagine, would that knowing, teasing, arrogant smile spread across his face as he examined the mess Dream had made of himself? Would he even, maybe, be flattered?

“Get it together,” he mutters, wondering if his orgasm could have rearranged a few brain cells. “You need to fucking get it together.”

He rinses himself off quickly, watches as the remains of what he’s just done flow into the shower drain with the rest of his body wash, a swirl of salt and vanilla.



“That was a long shower, Dream,” George says to him casually when he walks into the living room.

Dream coughs.

“I felt dirty from the plane, and the taxi. Just had a nice thorough scrub — thanks for the shower gel, by the way. Smells awesome.”

“Yeah, I’m the greatest.”

Dream rolls his eyes as he flops down onto the couch, next to George’s sprawled out legs. “Budge up, idiot.”

“Ugh. You’ve been here for like, twenty minutes, and you’re already so demanding,” George says, poking him gently in the ribs with a socked foot.

They look at each other for a moment, and Dream can’t help but laugh.

“This is so weird.”

“What, my sofa?”

“Shut up. You know what I mean. This…” Dream waves his hands around. “Like us, being with each other. Meeting up.”

George’s face softens. “It did take us a while, huh.”

“Well, we always thought that it would be happening in Florida, so maybe that’s why it feels different. To what I expected, I guess.”

Eyebrows furrowed, George shifts position so his knees are tucked against his chest. It’s oddly disarming — he looks fragile, suddenly, more vulnerable.

“What do you mean, it feels different?”

Dream shrugs. “Like, I don’t know. For years, it was just like, okay, one day you’ll move to Florida, and that’s when I’ll finally meet you, and then you’ll just — be there. With me — with us, with me and Nick. The Dream Team all together at last, you know?”

George frowns. “Yeah, well, that’s what I thought was going to happen, too.”

“Do you…” Dream lets the pause hang. “Do you wish I had waited? Instead of coming here, and then having to leave?”

It was something that had plagued Dream’s mind from the moment he’d bought the plane ticket. The exhilaration of knowing he would be getting to see George in person, getting to spend weeks with him — the catch, of course, being the crushing low of an inevitable flight home alone. The euphoria of saying hello; the agony of saying goodbye.

Shaking his head, George says, “No.”

Dream waits for him to elaborate. He’s used to this — used to needing to give George that little bit of extra time, striking the balance between push and shove, and over time, he’s learnt how to be quiet. To listen. George doesn’t scream his emotions from the balcony, doesn’t drape his heart on his sleeve, not like Dream — it’s a much more guarded thing, sheltered by reinforced walls of sleight of hand. Dream takes great pride in being George’s first confidant; he wouldn’t trade all those whispered secrets, no matter how small, for the world itself.

George sighs.

“Like, it’s just shit either way, right? Because now, you have to — leave,” he spits out the word, bitter and harsh in a way Dream rarely sees, “and there’s nothing either of us can do about that, which really fucking sucks. But we still don’t know how long my visa is going to take, and I’d rather meet you now, even if it is like this, because, because —”

“Because this way you feel less alone,” Dream fills in.

George stiffens, understandably. It’s a tough subject to broach. The mild frustration all of them — Dream, George, and Nick — had felt over the past few months had slowly calcified into petulant anger, as much as Dream had tried to keep a level head. Every time they streamed, the questions would pour in from fans: Any update on the visa? Is George in Florida yet? Do you know the meetup date? — and as well-intentioned as they were, it didn’t help the sting at all.

It was hard, still not having a concrete answer, playing an endless waiting game, leaving their future together to be dictated by the whims of a visa office worker. And it had been terribly hard for both Dream and George, albeit in different ways.

Because Dream had put his own future on pause for George, despite scores of questions, adamant he wanted to do things his way. It had almost turned into a sort of running joke, Nick going on his little road trips and meeting all their mutual friends while Dream stayed home alone, talking to George, voices crackling with static through their headsets.

The thing was: it would’ve been so easy for Dream, at any point, to have changed his mind. He could have said fuck it, posted a random selfie to Twitter, and joined Nick, travelling around to hang out with anyone he wanted to. More than a few people had dropped hints implying he wasn’t doing himself any favours by insisting he was going to wait for George to be in Florida to start living his life.

Even George himself had sprung the question once, painfully nervous, awkward around the words, wringing his hands over the guilt he’d felt at holding Dream back, at taking away certain opportunities. Dream had very quickly and very seriously told him to shut the fuck up.

What it came down to was this: there was no universe where Dream let anyone see him — truly see him, not behind a mask or a bedsheet or any other stupid form of camouflage, but him, all he had to offer — before George. There was no debate to be had, no alternate paths Dream was willing to take. George, then the world. That’s how it had always been for Dream. That’s how it would always be.

But, if Dream was being completely honest with himself, he was worried. This — their version of a compromise, a salve to their acrid exasperation, was, all things considered, most certainly going to make things harder in the long term. How was he supposed to return to any semblance of normalcy now that he knows how George’s skin feels like against his own? The way he looks, soft and clean right out of the shower, a stray curl of hair sticking to the back of his neck — the unobtrusive but definitely very real weight of his feet resting on Dream’s thigh — the smell of his cologne, a little darker and spicier than expected but so perfectly and uniquely George it made Dream inhale over and over, trying to etch the scent into his memory.

“You’ve gone off somewhere in your mind,” George says, amused.

“Sorry, I just —”

“No, I get it. And you’re right, you know.”

Dream, almost without thinking, drops a hand on George’s ankle — squeezes, gently, the curve of creamy skin between the edge of his sock and the cuff of his sweatpants.

George’s eyes dart to the movement, but he says nothing.

Carefully, Dream offers: “I’m right about you feeling less alone?”

“Well, yeah. Obviously.”

A pause.

“Like, I don’t know. It was so nice when Quackity visited, and Sapnap, and Tina and Karl — all of them really helped, with like, the loneliness and stuff. But then they all left. And, that… That made me feel more isolated than ever. Which is stupid, because I should be more grateful, or whatever, but it just made me feel like shit.”

George cuts himself off abruptly, lips pressed into an unyielding line.

“Grateful? George, they didn’t come to visit you as a favour,” Dream says, firmly. “Nick, and Quackity and everyone — they’re your friends. I’m your friend,” and there’s that catch in the throat again, but he presses on valiantly. “We care about you. You deserve to feel cared about.”

“You’re such a sap,” George mutters, but there’s levity to it, and Dream feels that stifling pressure on his chest lighten ever so slightly.

“You love me,” he says, softly, and thinks he’d take up a sword and slay dragons to keep that small, sweet smile on George’s face.



Afternoon fades into evening; London is fickle with her weather, Dream realises when he peeks out of his bedroom window and sees the setting sun illuminating George’s street in a syrupy glow.

Dream doesn’t know much of what London looks like — really only has a general sense of it thanks to months of Geoguessr, but even he can tell that George’s neighbourhood is beautiful. Black, antique looking lamp-posts, balconies embellished with elegant curlicues, a square of lush green trees just visible around the corner, the faint sound of wine glasses clinking amidst low laughter from across the road, and there’s years, decades, centuries of history right underneath Dream’s feet: foundations of a city so rich, so alive, it makes him a little dizzy to think about.

He pulls out his phone, snaps a quick photo — makes a memory of it, something to look back at when he’s sitting on that flight back to Orlando. Swiping left, he pauses on the candid he’d taken of George earlier when he’d shut his eyes for a fifteen minute catnap. Eyelashes skimming his cheeks, a drowsy pout on his lips, chin tucked into his chest; Dream thinks if he hadn’t taken the photo, he may have done something entirely more idiotic, like brushing a kiss to George’s forehead.

“Dream,” George says by way of declaring his arrival, pushing the door open without preamble.

“Whoa, I could have been changing!”

George raises an eyebrow.

“But you weren’t, were you?”

“You wish,” Dream tosses back, leaning against his windowsill. To his surprise, George approaches, taking step after step into Dream’s room (and at what point in the past few hours did it go from the guest room to his room, a voice in his head says unhelpfully), until there’s scarcely six inches of space between them.

Dream blinks. George is very, very close — he darts a glance at the bathroom door involuntarily, feels a wash of hot shame run through him — looks back and sees the faintest spray of freckles scattered across George’s nose and cheeks.

For a long minute, nobody speaks. Dream thinks George seems to be scrutinising him head to toe, all while acting wholly unaware of how bizarre their situation is.

“I’ve heard a photo lasts longer,” he tries, his voice low, as if this is all normal, as if regular boundaries between friends work just like this, as if every fibre of his body isn’t straining towards George, fingers itching to tug and grasp.

George’s eyes gleam. He pats Dream’s chest, a small smirk playing at his lips like he’s just become privy to a secret Dream doesn’t know about. Then he tilts his head back, smiles guilelessly, and announces: “I want Nando’s.”

“What?”

“Nando’s,” George repeats, slowly. “Ever heard of it?”

“Obviously I’ve heard of fucking Nando’s — I just —”

George claps his hands together excitedly. “Good, because I’m starving. Come on.”

Dream nods on autopilot, and wonders if he’ll ever manage to get two steps ahead of George.



The food takes a surprisingly short amount of time to arrive. George makes Dream carry it all back upstairs, and he struggles not to stagger under the weight — George had insisted on ordering for the two of them, and Dream thinks he might have honestly bought out the entire menu.

They sit on the carpeted floor in front of George’s flatscreen, and all of a sudden Dream is ravenous, tearing into the brown paper bags, and maybe those jokes about food in England being unseasoned were a little misjudged.

“This smells fucking amazing,” Dream says happily, opening one of the takeout boxes and inhaling deeply.

“I can’t believe you’re finally trying Nando’s. I could film this, and get like, infinite clout,” George muses. Splaying his hands as though he can see the matinée headline on Broadway: “Dream eats a cheeky Nando’s, not clickbait, gone wrong?!”

“You’re stupid,” Dream tries to say, but he’s just taken a massive bite out of some sort of wrap, so it doesn’t quite have the desired effect. Instead, he wheezes as a solid chunk of chicken breast goes down the wrong pipe, leaving him momentarily speechless.

“Oh my god, Dream, slow down — what is wrong with you,” George snorts, whacking him smartly on the back. “You can’t die from your first meal in the UK.”

Regaining his breath, Dream nudges George’s shoulder. “If I’d actually choked, you’d have had to give me mouth-to-mouth, you know.”

“Ew,” George says flatly. “I think I’d have just eaten your food.”

“Wow, you’d let me die, George?” Dream asks beseechingly, jutting his bottom lip out and fluttering his eyelashes.

George throws a packet of garlic Peri-Peri sauce at his head.

Slowly, they eat their way through the feast: Dream develops a possessive streak over the halloumi sticks and chilli jam, instantly obsessed with the sweet-and-not-too-spicy kick.

“I want to marry this piece of cheese,” he proclaims, holding it aloft like an Olympic torch.

“You are seriously so weird.”

“Come on. It’s fried cheese, George. That’s like the two best things in the world combined.”

George snags one from the box and swallows it in one bite, looking eminently pleased with himself.

“It counts as your rent,” he says helpfully to Dream’s look of outrage.

“What the fuck? I’m not making you pay rent in Florida.”

“Well, that’s completely different,” George explains. “Me just like, existing, counts as rent, because I’m awesome. Plus,” he adds, thoughtfully, “you like to pay for me.”

Dream takes a hasty sip of water in an attempt to stifle his immediate blush. “Don’t — you make it sound so weird when you put it like that.”

George smiles like the cat who got the cream. “When I put it like what?” He asks innocently. “It’s true, though. You do like paying for me.”

“Yeah, well,” Dream mutters. “Sorry that’s like, my love language, or whatever.”

“Aww,” George coos, giggling. “Dream’s love language is buying me presents. That’s actually epic.”

Dream sets his jaw. “George,” he says, shaking his head.

George raises an eyebrow, waiting.

“I think I spoil you way too much,” he says casually. Then, as seriously as he can muster: “And, honestly? I really think you’re going to turn into a — into a brat at this rate.”

It’s a joke, it’s a joke, it was supposed to be a joke, and Dream hadn’t meant to pitch his voice lower, hadn’t intended to put so much feeling into the word, but the sentence echoes in the air between them for far too long to be anything but awkward.

“...Stop it,” George says, finally.

When Dream darts him a look, he’s staring very pointedly at the flatscreen.

“Let’s watch some Netflix.”

Dream swallows down a bizarre jumble of emotions. “Sure.”

After fifteen minutes of complaining that there’s literally nothing worth watching, they put on the first episode of Ozark, mainly because Dream remembers how Quackity wouldn’t stop raving about how good the finale was.

“This is basically just Breaking Bad, but without Walter White, so it sucks,” George dismisses about twenty minutes in.

“Eh, I don’t know,” Dream says, always the devil’s advocate. “This guy, Marty, is pretty cool.” He pauses, then continues, grinning: “Plus, I think he’s hotter than Walter White.”

George wrinkles his nose. “First of all, no. Second of all, I’m not talking about their — hotness,” he sniffs haughtily.

Dream laughs, carefree, joyous.

“I didn’t even say anything that funny,” George says, faintly bemused.

“It’s not that. It’s like — I was just thinking. You know how back when I was in Florida, we’d be on Discord, in a call for like nine hours, and by the end of it we were basically delirious and saying the stupidest shit back and forth with each other?”

George nods. “Yeah.”

“I just realised this is that…But IRL,” Dream says, sounding out the letters.

“Well, yeah. It’s called a conversation, idiot.”

Dream flaps his hands, irritated. “Come on, you know what I mean. Like, the vibes are just so — cosy, and comfortable, and like, it just feels really chill.”

George snorts. “Did you expect it not to be chill?”

“You’re so annoying.”

“Your mum is annoying.”

“Can we just watch the show?” Dream mutters, glancing at the TV just in time to see a man’s body being flung from a skyscraper and slamming with a crack into the road. Jason Bateman walks away from him without a second word.

“Tommy, are we the bad guys,” George says sympathetically, and it’s so unexpected and so incredibly stupid Dream dissolves into laughter for the rest of the episode.



Frankly, Dream has no idea what to anticipate about the sleeping arrangements. It should be a simple solution: one master bedroom plus one guest bedroom, factoring in Dream and George, equals… separation.

But, barring their respective showers, the two of them haven’t been apart for more than five minutes since their hug in the rain, and sort of pathetically, Dream isn’t willing to give that up so easily.

“You’re like, a fucking furnace,” George grumbles, half-muffled from where his head is resting on Dream’s stomach. The angle should be awkward; when George had clambered up to join Dream on the sofa twenty minutes ago, Dream hadn’t had time to move from his sprawled out position, and George had simply settled between his legs, looping his arms loosely around Dream’s upper torso.

Dream has become quite adept at reciting the alphabet backwards in the past twenty minutes.

“Dream?”

“What — Sorry for being hot, I guess,” he manages, forcing out a chuckle as George shifts discontentedly, pressing into Dream in all manners of ways that make it very hard for him to concentrate on anything but the knowledge that all that separates George’s bare chest from his crotch is a few layers of fabric.

“Should get to bed soon, anyway,” George mumbles through the tail-end of a yawn. He tilts his face up, and plucks idly at Dream’s bracelet. “Oh, this is cute.”

“It’s nice, yeah.” Eye contact right now would probably result in spontaneous combustion, Dream reasons, so he focuses on the little tuft of George’s hair that bends the wrong way, smoothing it out in his mind’s eye.

Like he can read his thoughts, George’s eyes dart up, and he scowls. “I need to get a haircut.”

“No you don’t,” Dream says automatically. Their conversation allows for it, so he lifts a hand, scratching lightly at George’s scalp with his nails. “I like this length,” he admits.

“Of course you do,” George mutters, “but it’s really annoying like this, because I have no idea what to do with it. I think I just need a trim, that’s all.”

“George,” Dream exclaims, faux-shocked. “What will the fans say?”

George rolls his eyes, poking Dream in the soft hollow of his cheek. “Don’t use the fans as an excuse for your personal desires, Dream,” he says dryly.

“My desires?” Dream sputters, freezing with his hand caught in the locks around the shell of George’s right ear.

“Holy cow,” George deadpans, an obvious callback to a moment Dream has seen recirculated on Twitter more times than he can count — (y’all he really let the intrusive thoughts win / Brah this dude said holy cow like is that even a phrase / imagine being so awestruck by ur best friends beauty u say holy cow completely unironically LOL / holy cow was srsly one of dreams gayest moments i just have to say it) — and he reels back, a defensive retort ready on the tip of his tongue.

“I’m kidding,” George placates, dropping his head back into the material of Dream’s T-shirt. “You have a good sense for stuff like hair styles.” Then, in quintessential George fashion, he muses: “Hair styles. Huh, Harry Styles.”

“Harry Styles’s hair is like, sexy,” Dream says, long-since used to this being their conversation flow. “Do you remember when I had hair that long?”

“Yeah, but you barely sent me any photos.”

“That was because I was scared of what you were gonna say!”

“Aw, ‘cause you care about my opinion.”

“So do you,” Dream counters. “You literally call me before and after every single haircut you have. You even call me in the middle of them, sometimes, need I remind you.”

“Okay, Dream, so we both care about each other’s opinions!”

They look at each other for a moment, before Dream knocks his head back and exhales through his nose.

“This has got to be one of the dumbest arguments we’ve ever had.”

“You started it,” George says sweetly. “And I’m still getting a haircut.”

“Well — I could cut your hair for you,” Dream blurts, and maybe it’s the way he’s still repetitively stroking through Georges fringe and how soothing the motion is, because there’s an insistent thought pushing at him that anyone but Dream getting to put their hands on George’s hair would just be so fundamentally wrong.

Dream is well aware of how crazily possessive that would sound if he even attempted to verbalise it, so he doesn’t.

“Do you…know how to cut hair?”

“Uh, yeah,” Dream scoffs. “I cut Nick’s hair all the time back in Florida.”

Lie.

“No you don’t,” George says immediately. “There’s no way Sapnap would let you near his head with scissors and not tell me about it.”

“Okay, I don’t,” Dream admits, “but like, theoretically, I know how to cut hair. And it would be fun! I could give you a mohawk, or something, it’d be epic.”

“You’re so stupid. And like, it’s fine, it’s no big deal. I can just text the guy who always cuts it for me now — from the stream,” George elaborates, as if Dream isn’t well aware of exactly who the “hot Italian barber” — as dubbed by Twitter — was, or how Nick, Karl and Quackity had gleefully sent their group chat every tweet gushing over that stupid fucking head massage.

He shouldn’t, but the words force themselves out anyway. “You know, if you want to go see the hairdresser guy so bad, you can. Like I get it, you’re in love with him.”

George draws back, eyebrows knitted in confusion.

“You’re so weird,” he says slowly, and Dream thinks maybe he can emerge from this unscathed until George’s eyes shine with recognition and he cocks his head, a curious smile playing at his lips.

“Dream,” he says, practically purring.

Don’t ask it. Don’t ask it.

“Are you jealous?”

What? Why would I be jealous?”

“Oh, you so are,” George crows, pushing himself up off Dream’s thighs (and it says a lot about how mortified Dream feels right now that he barely even processes that) and crossing his arms. “Oh my god, you’re actually jealous!”

“Fuck off, you idiot. I was just — I was offering to do a service for you, free of charge, like a good friend — I was literally just trying to help you out, and you’re acting like I’m jealous of some random barber. No, I’m — I’m not jealous. Whatever. Go get your hair cut by him — and see if I care.”

George’s smirk speaks volumes.

“No, if you really want to cut my hair, I guess I’ll allow it,” he says, shrugging. “Since you’re so desperate to, I mean.”

“I’m going to shave your stupid head,” Dream threatens weakly.

“That could honestly be a look. Like, if I’m bald, I could change my username to HairNotFound,” George ponders, tapping his chin. “HNF could be the new DNF.”

“What? That doesn’t even make sense. Are you shipping yourself with your own hair?”

“It’s the thought that counts,” George says, grandly and entirely incomprehensibly.

Dream grabs the nearest cushion in his vicinity and tosses it at George’s head.

“Ow! What did you do that for?”

“You were slandering DNF,” Dream sniffs, wondering if he could be so far gone as to feel jealous over a made up ship name between George and George’s hair. Yeah, that tracks.

“Oh, because nothing is as good as DNF,” George says sarcastically.

“Exactly! HNF and SNF and KNF are just — irrelevant.”

“KNF…?” George says before understanding dawns on him, and he snorts, looking away. “Oh, Karl.”

“Yeah, Karl, who you kissed,” Dream mocks, now wondering if he really does have a jealousy problem. Again, it does all track fairly accurately.

“I still can’t believe you told everyone about that.”

“To be fair, it just sort of came out.” And there goes the Freudian slip.

“To be fair,” George repeats mockingly. “You were jealous of that though, like — you literally admitted you were.”

“Well,” Dream says, letting the sentence hang.

George yawns abruptly, stretching, cat-like, with a contented sigh. “Whatever. I’m tired now. It’s bedtime.”

Dream nods, and they both get up, shaking out their stiff limbs. He’s really fucking exhausted, he realises suddenly, the length of his journey finally catching up to him. He trails silently behind George as they leave the living room, so lost in thought that he doesn’t realise he’s following George into his bedroom until he bumps right into him.

“Um, Dream. This is my room.” George slants a brow, curious.

“Oh — sorry,” Dream apologises. “I wasn’t looking.”

“Right,” George says, and then makes no attempt to move. They’re standing in his doorway, reminiscent of earlier by the windowsill — a little closer than strictly necessary, but both of them comfortable with it, a mutual understanding that proximity isn’t something to be rationed, not between the two of them.

Dream shifts his weight from leg to leg.“I guess I’ll go to bed now, then.”

“I guess you will.”

The moment drags; Dream is sleep-fuddled, still latently processing the whirlwind of the past few hours. It’s still so much — on the precipice of too much, he fears. Dream likes lists, he likes facts, he likes learning every little detail about something he’s interested in.

And it goes without saying his brain is very interested in cataloguing every atom of George. He’s grasping eagerly at every new tidbit of information he received today; what the weight of George’s body feels like draped along his own, how he idly plays with the string of his sweatpants (an action that shouldn’t be as hot as it is), the way he pads around on socked feet, bizarrely reminiscent of Patches, lithe and graceful. The feel of the hair at the nape of his neck: shorn, a little spiky under Dream’s fingertips. His body soap, a clean, fresh scent, with a spicy edge of sandalwood from his cologne. The timbre of his voice, never able to be perfectly captured through a headset from 4,000 miles away, but Dream knows now exactly how it lilts, almost quieter than he expected, because George is speaking just for him.

He realises neither of them have spoken again. Dream glances behind George, a snapshot glimpse of his bedroom, the only room in the house Dream hasn’t seen yet. From where he’s standing, he can just make out the corner of the bed, the grey bedsheets, a bedside table and a lamp — entirely mundane and yet so terribly interesting just because they’re George’s.

“Dream,” George says patiently.

Too late, Dream remembers how he was going to tell him that he could call him Clay now that they’re together in person. He and Nick had slipped into the comfort of using their real names almost immediately, and it often bleeds into their onstream conversations too, habitual as it is. For some reason, George has always preferred their IGNs, insisting on calling Nick ‘Sapnap’ even in voice calls with just the three of them, claiming it always sounds awkward when he tries to refer to them with their actual names.

And yet Dream can’t find it in himself to suggest anything else. George has said his name in a multitude of ways over the years; joyous screams after an MCC win, whiny and pleading when he’s trying to convince Dream to buy him a new Fortnite skin, sharp, snappish, monosyllabic when he’s complaining about editing his video for the fortieth time. But actually hearing it, a little shy, a little reverent, from George in person — he couldn’t possibly give that up.

“George,” he remembers to answer.

George rolls his eyes. “Do you need me to tuck you in or something?”

“I mean, if you’re offering.”

“I think you’re capable of doing that on your own, actually.”

Dream grins, poking his tongue through the gap next to the tip of his canine. He can’t help it — he’s greedy, will always ask for more when it comes to George, will always push that line that they keep redrawing over and over again every time one of them breaks past it.

“Well, aren’t you at least going to give me a goodnight kiss?” He asks, deliberately husky, at least an octave lower than usual.

George scrunches up his nose with derision, but Dream sees little splotches of pink bloom across his cheeks, and he thanks the universe for the small mercies — like how easy it is to make George blush.

But George doesn’t shut him down with an immediate ‘No’.

Instead, he looks up at Dream through his eyelashes and quirks his lips, coy in a way that pulls the breath out of Dream’s chest in an abrupt tug.

“Ask me tomorrow,” he says, before shutting his door and leaving Dream stunned in the corridor.

It takes him almost a full minute to gather himself together enough to be able to stumble to his room and fling himself into bed.



Soft lips skim along Dream’s neck, barely more than a graze. He tenses automatically, but then he reflexively curves up into it, luxuriating in the presence of a body hovered over his own, warm and soft and indescribably perfect.

He’s sleepy — too tired to open his eyes, more than comfortable to just lie here and inhale the faint scent of — he can’t quite place it, but it’s familiar, something he knows, and something he knows he loves.

The brush of lips turns into something a little more insistent, deliberate. Kisses are pressed along the curve under his jawline, down to the hollow of his throat, following the path of his collarbone. Dream exhales heavily, and he hears a low laugh, carefully suppressed but still vibrating against his skin.

Excruciatingly slowly, the kisses drop lower — Dream was fairly sure he’d gone to bed with a T-shirt on, but maybe he’d taken it off in the middle of the night because there are lips mouthing softly at the line of his bare sternum, kitten licks and the scrape of teeth making his blood thrum with desire.

He sucks in a sharp breath as he feels light fingers dancing along the waistband of his boxers (had he taken off his sweatpants in his sleep too?), and that low laugh comes again, throaty and tickling against the sensitive hairs of Dream’s happy trail.

“God,” he utters, strangled and desperate, as a hand presses firmly against the strain of his bulge.

“Not quite,” comes an amused response, and Dream recoils in shock because he knows that voice.

“Wait,” he says, biting his lip so hard he tastes copper. “Wait.”

He hears the rustle of blankets, and when the voice speaks again, it’s directly in Dream’s ear, hot breath fanning across the shell of his cheek.

“What’s wrong? Don’t you want this?”

He shudders, overstimulated to the point of near-incoherence.

“Don’t you want me, Dream?”

Dream’s eyes snap open. It takes a second for reality to come rushing in, but once it does, it’s humiliating, a sobering slap across the face. He’s in his T-shirt and sweats, obviously, and he’s alone. And also harder than he’s ever been in his life.

“Fuck.”

Dream drags a hand down his face, wanting nothing more than for a chasm to open up in the ground and swallow him whole. This is seriously getting pathetic.

Arousal still pulses through him, a burning heat, and his fingers tremble as he longs to reach down under the covers.

“No,” he tells himself sternly. “You will not be jerking off for the second time in two days to — to George.”

Dream freezes, suddenly hit with the fact that he isn’t alone in the apartment. He gratefully remembers that walls in London are built with brick, not the thin cardboard typical of American homes, and unless George’s ears are pressed against Dream’s door, there’s no chance he would have heard him. Probably.

Doggedly, Dream ignores the urge to sort out his situation the way his body is begging him to, and heads into the bathroom for a biting cold shower. It’s not half as satisfying as the shower he had yesterday, but even Dream won’t go as far to turn “jerking-off-to-fantasies-of-his-best-friend” into a habit.

Once he’s sure he’s as far from turned on as possible, he changes into a loose pair of shorts and his Sooners sweatshirt. He checks the time — it’s 10 A.M., way later than Dream would usually wake up, but he guesses jetlag is playing a significant factor.

The moment he leaves his room, he smells something burning.

“George?” he calls, tinged with concern.

There’s no reply, but logic tells him to head to the kitchen, and Dream can’t help but wonder what culinary horror awaits him.

Usually, George’s kitchen is gorgeous — full of light due to a large window taking up the majority of the space of one wall, and minimalistic without feeling clinical. But right now, it’s a mess. There’s a large mixing bowl on the island, along with scattered flour and what looks to be a broken egg, raw yolk oozing across the marble. George has his back to Dream, standing in front of the stovetop in a rumpled hoodie and shorts that definitely don’t leave enough to the imagination.

Dream swallows. He can deal with this. But maybe it would be preferable if George’s kitchen just exploded in a fiery ball of flames right about now.

“Making breakfast?”

George jolts, spinning around with a spatula pointed defensively at Dream.

“You scared me,” he says, accusingly.

“Waking up to thinking your apartment was burning down scared me.”

“Ugh. I don’t even know what went wrong — I think my stupid stove broke, or something,” George says frustratedly.

“It can’t be that bad,” Dream says soothingly, getting closer to observe the damage.

It is absolutely that bad. Gloopy batter is splattered across the grates of the stovetop, and there’s something suspiciously charred smoking in a pan, even with the gas turned off.

“I’ve done this so many times before and this is literally the first time I’ve ever fucked it up,” George grumbles.

Dream turns to him, grinning. “Were you going to bring me breakfast in bed?”

“No. I was going to eat them all by myself. Pancakes for George.”

“Calling these pancakes is a very generous description.”

George grunts, clearly displeased, and scrapes at the edge of the burnt mess with his spatula.

“Just don’t laugh,” he says subduedly, and Dream’s heart breaks a little. It’s really, really cute — even if the pancakes weren’t going to be brought to him in bed on a tray with a red rose and a glass of apple juice, just the fact that George had wanted to do something special for his first morning in London is so disgustingly domestic it rots Dream’s teeth, saccharine blooming happily on his tongue.

Apprehensively, Dream scoops up a dollop of batter with his finger and sniffs it with all the attitude of a scientist in a lab facing down an unruly experiment.

“I think I’d rather cry,” he quips, and George elbows him in the side.

“Asshole. See if I ever try to cook for you again.”

“I’m kidding, George. What did you say last night — it’s the thought that counts?”

George scoffs, throwing down the spatula in defeat. “Yeah, well, you can’t have thoughts for breakfast.”

Dream grasps his hand — a luxury he still isn’t used to having — and squeezes reassuringly. If he keeps it up at this rate, he’s scared he might somehow rub away each whorled print of George’s fingertips by the end of his trip, so obsessed he is with sliding their knuckles together.

“Hey, it’s okay, seriously. This is actually great, if you think about it.”

George frowns, but he doesn’t pull away. “How on earth is this great?”

“Well,” Dream says enthusiastically, “now we can go out for breakfast, and you can show me around your favourite parts of London.”

George stares at him, as uncomprehending as if Dream is speaking an entirely different language.

“You do know that we’d immediately get recognised, right? Did you somehow forget you’re still a faceless Youtuber?”

“What…” Dream says slowly, feeling something slide and click into place in the space between his ribs, “What if I wasn’t a faceless Youtuber?”

George blinks. Dream holds his breath, waiting for the penny to drop.

It’s reckless — it’s insanely reckless, and stupid, and a plethora of other things, to base his face reveal on the premise that George accidentally burnt some pancakes — but George was always going to be the catalyst for the event, so why not hurry things along a little?

“Dream, that’s not funny,” George says flatly, folding his arms across his chest.

“I’m not joking.” Dream bites his lip, adrenaline branching through his veins, spurring him on. “I always said I would face reveal after I met you — and I’ve met you. So why should I wait any longer?”

“What — Dream, are you crazy?” George sputters. “You aren’t actually saying you’re going to face reveal because — because you want us to eat breakfast outside.”

“I am,” Dream says calmly. And he feels — well, maybe not calm, exactly, but certainly at peace with the fact. “George, it literally makes sense. Think about it: I face reveal, it’s a fun surprise for the fans that I’m in London, we get to do whatever we want and not have to worry about being noticed — what’s the downside?”

George shakes his head. “You can’t — you don’t — this isn’t what you planned, at all,” he says helplessly. “I don’t want to be the reason you make a hasty decision and then end up regretting it. I’m not — this is important, Dream.”

“You’re important.”

“Dream, I’m being serious.”

“Why can’t you see that I’m being serious, too?”

“You don’t get it,” George says, and his voice is aching with sadness, eyebrows pulled together in an upside-down V.

Dream presses forward, refusing to let George withdraw, not wanting him to shut down. “What don’t I get?”

“This is so — huge for you, Dream. It’s literally life-changing.” George refuses to make eye contact with him, staring determinedly at the floor instead. “It makes sense for you to do it once I’m in Florida, with you and Sapnap — think about all the stuff we’ve planned around it — like, okay, what about the IRL manhunt?”

“We’ll still do that, just later,” Dream says dismissively. “It’s no big deal.”

“It is a big deal!” George exclaims indignantly. “It’s like, the biggest deal ever.”

He seems on the verge of saying something more, so Dream holds back his own response.

After a lengthy silence, George mutters, “You can’t structure your life around me, Dream,” so quietly the words almost dissolve into the air before Dream can catch them.

Softly, he murmurs, “George, look at me.”

When he does, Dream takes George’s face in his hands. George meets his gaze, and his eyes are dark and despondent. Carefully, Dream smoothes a thumb across the curve of George’s cheekbone, mesmerised at how George’s lips part almost subconsciously.

“My entire life is structured around you — you and Nick,” Dream amends. “And I like it that way. We’re a team, aren’t we?”

“The Dream Team,” George mumbles. Their foreheads are practically touching at this point, but Dream doesn’t care — he needs to get this message across, needs George to understand.

“And you trust me, right?”

George nods. “Yes. More than anyone. But —”

“Stop,” Dream interrupts. “Just listen. Yes, we’d always thought I’d face reveal after you came to Florida. And yes, it’s a huge decision to make. But it’s my decision to make. And I wouldn’t be willing to do it right now if I didn’t feel completely confident about it.”

A small, soft noise of agreement. “I guess.”

“I want to do this, George,” Dream says, as persuasively as he can. “Let me do this. For myself.”

Dream is so close to George’s face he can actually see the moment George absorbs the words and comes to terms with them.

“And you’re one hundred percent sure?”

“Two hundred percent sure.”

George presses his lips together. “You know, mathematically, that actually doesn’t make sense. You can’t have a two hundred percent probability of something.”

Dream huffs out a laugh, knocking their foreheads together. “You are so — George,” he says, fondness so thick he can taste it spilling into the air between them. George smiles, and it takes everything Dream has to pull away ruefully, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Well, are we doing this, or what?” George says, impatient all of a sudden.

“I need to call Nick first,” Dream blurts, apologetic. “I have to explain why I’m changing the plan — it wouldn’t be fair to spring this on him with no warning, you know?”

George clicks his tongue sympathetically. “No, no, I get it. Take your time — I have to clean this stupid mess up, anyway.”

“Okay,” Dream says.

“That was a hint for you to leave, if you didn’t realise,” George says dryly. “It’ll be easier for you to talk to him alone.”

George, who is infamous in their friendship group for being incessantly curious, who constantly pesters them about the most banal activities in all their day-to-day lives, who sulks for an hour if Dream doesn’t tell him what he ate for dinner that evening — George is telling Dream to make the call in private.

“Hello? Dream — oof,” George chokes as Dream wraps his arms around him and pulls him into a tight hug. Abruptly, Dream is overcome with the oddest urge to cry, so he rests his chin on top of George’s head and breathes heavily, in and out, grounding himself in oaken hair and sandalwood.

He thinks he could never tire of hugging George — it’s so simple, so effortless, the two of them just existing, limbs slotting perfectly into place, George’s arms looped around the small of Dream’s back, a soothing hand rubbing minute circles into the base of his spine.

“I love you,” Dream tells him, once they’ve broken apart.

“I love you too, idiot,” George says, and it’s the most wonderful sentence Dream has ever heard. He grins.

George reddens. “You don’t need to get so excited about me saying it. You’re about to post your face on the Internet for like, millions of people — this is the least I could do.”

“I love you,” Dream repeats, awestruck.

“Okay, okay, don’t push it,” George waves him off. “Go have your ‘bro talk’ with Sapnap, and don’t take too long — I’m hungry.”



“Yo,” Nick says sleepily through Dream’s phone speaker. He winces — it’s early morning back home, and Nick had sent a goodnight text on Discord just a few hours ago.

“Sorry,” he starts. “I just needed to talk to you. It’s kind of important.”

“What? Dude, are you okay?” Nick seems instantly more awake, as if he’s about to leap off his bed and run all the way to London to help. Nick — always the fighter, always the protector. His brother.

Dream laughs, a little breathlessly. “I’m… I’m great, actually. Um, but I made a decision just now, and I need to run it by you. My mind is made up, pretty much, but I feel like — like I owe you some sort of explanation.”

There’s a pause.

“…Okay.”

“I’m face revealing. Today. Like in the next twenty minutes, probably,” Dream says in a rush of words. “And like, I know this totally came out of the blue, and I know it’s not what we planned, and I know we were all meant to be together for this, and maybe you think I’m acting crazy, and I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but it just — it feels right. It feels right, Nick.”

There’s silence for a moment, nothing but the crackle of phone static and the sound of Dream’s shaky breaths filling the air.

Just when it’s getting too much to bear, Nick speaks, hesitantly.

“Is it…Is it because of George?”

Dream grimaces. There’s a fleeting insecurity there; Dream wants to snuff it out immediately, assure Nick that he’s not trying to exclude him from this moment — that they’re each other’s oldest friends, ride-or-dies, and they always will be, and Dream will love Nick till the day his body is laid into the earth, will want him around for every important moment in his life.

Just — not this one. Because it’s a restless itch now, crawling under his skin, snagging on his bones and making him vibrate from the inside out. Dream wants — needs to do this today, and he has to make Nick understand why.

“It is, a little,” he admits cautiously. “But like, I was always going to do it after I met him, right?”

“Right,” Nick says, then hums in thought. “You know, this really wasn’t what I expected when you woke me up at buttfuck A.M.”

Dream snorts. “Trust me, it wasn’t what I expected, either. But I’ve been thinking about it, and dreading it, and anticipating it, and making it out to be this huge, terrifying thing in my head for so long now —”

“I know,” Nick says casually. And he does know. After all, it was Nick who was there for Dream for every awful moment of the past year; back rubs and soothing words and making endless cups of hot cocoa because Dream hates both coffee and tea; fighting battles for Dream that he couldn’t fight himself because he’s always held to a higher standard, supposed to be perfect, supposed to hold it all in and be removed from human fucking emotion somehow, as if he wasn’t breaking into a million pieces over and over again, a car crash that just keeps on going.

The worst night, months and months ago: when Dream, in a fit of helpless rage, a barrel of gasoline lit up by a stupid hate comment (not even the worst thing he’d ever read about himself, but something about it had just sent him over the edge), had almost thrown his phone off the balcony, a bowstring in his chest ready to snap. When he’d genuinely, desperately, considered just deleting everything — disappearing, forever. Goodbye, Dream. You’ll be remembered in shitty commentary streams and Minecraft clickbait videos forever.

It’s not like he needed the money, he’d spat viciously at Nick, something gnarled and ugly clawing up his throat. “I’ve manipulated and brainwashed enough innocent kids to be set for life, right?”

In the end, it had taken Nick and his mom a good two hours to fully calm him down; hushful reassurances pouring from their lips as they sat on either side of him on the couch, his mom pressing teary kisses to his forehead — Nick, steady as an anchor, a solid presence with his arm draped around Dream’s shoulders.

He sniffs as the memories come flooding back, alarmed to find tears welling in his eyes.

“Hey, hey. You okay?”

“Yeah,” Dream says roughly, scrubbing a hand across his face. “No, I just — I know this meant a lot to you — to all of us.”

“Dude, it’s your face. Plus, I’ve honestly seen it too many times at this point. Like, it’s only fair I give the rest of the world a chance to look at your ugly mug,” Nick says, and Dream huffs out a laugh at the attempt to cheer him up.

“I’m still nervous,” he confesses, biting his lip. “But something about being here… I kind of feel like a different person, if that makes sense?”

“Sure,” Nick says easily. “You’re in a whole new place. You’re with George,” he adds, meaning soaked through the phrase.

Dream coughs. “Yeah, that’s been…interesting,” he settles on, not sure if he can bring himself to go into more detail.

“Interesting, huh?” Nick teases. “I want to hear more about that. Actually, maybe I don’t.”

“Hah.”

They fall into a relaxed silence, Dream’s nerves no longer haywire, sparking less at the frayed ends.

“I really, really don’t want you to feel excluded from this,” he says earnestly.

“It’s okay, I’ll live, somehow,” Nick says, lightly sarcastic. His tone becomes more serious when he says, “If you’re certain about this, then of course I fucking support you, dude.”

“Thanks, man,” Dream says, trying to convey his appreciation for this — for all of it. “I love you.”

“Love you too, brother,” Nick says. “And I can’t wait to see what photo you and George take. I gotta warn you, though — he is so fucking picky about angles.”

Dream laughs. “He’s the most photogenic out of all of us, are you joking?”

“Hey, speak for yourself. I’m photogenic as hell,” Nick shoots back.

“Uh-huh.”

They say their farewells, Nick making Dream promise to call him soon (George is totally stealing you away in London, it’s not fair), and Dream remembering to ask if Patches is doing okay without him (She’s fine, don’t worry — I always told you she loved me more).

After that, there’s nothing standing in Dream’s way, really. He gulps.

Then he realises how truly awful his breath tastes, and goes to brush his teeth.



Twenty minutes later, Dream is staring at the selfie they finally decided on, index finger poised over the post button. It’s simple, cute, even — him and George smiling cheesily at the camera, Dream’s arm slung casually around his shoulder. They both look happy — stupidly happy, Dream’s canines in full view, George’s eyes creased into half moons at the corners. The caption is simple too: “dnf meetup REAL”, accompanied by the sunglasses emoji, which Dream had insisted on, even when George had rolled his eyes. It’s also geotagged as London, United Kingdom — they’ve messed about with the fans so much that insinuating George was in Florida would be a step beyond cruel.

There’s another photo that Dream took on accident, one that won’t ever see the light of day but that he surreptitiously favorited when George wasn’t looking — George had said something stupid, Dream had laughed, and click — without meaning to, his finger had slid and pressed against his volume button, capturing the moment.

It’s an awful photo of Dream, honestly — he’s moving, features blurred, but the way George’s face is half-turned, smiling giddily at Dream’s giggles, sets his heart thumping in an irregular pitter-pat.

He thinks he might make it his lockscreen.

George nudges his shoulder gently.

“You good?”

It’s exceedingly rare in life to actually know when you’re about to change everything, forever, for better or worse — but right now, Dream can feel the significance of this all the way down to his toes. He swallows, but the lump in his throat is lodged firm, and it’s stinging, like a miniature jellyfish is swimming about in there.

He looks up at George, who’s sitting so close their knees knock with every one of Dream’s ragged breaths.

“Hey,” George says, quietly. “It’s okay, you don’t have to.”

Dream tilts his head back, closing his eyes. “I want to,” he says. “I want to.”

A soft touch rubs along the hills and valleys of his knuckles. “Look at me.”

The world stutters in time with Dream’s heartbeat; like frames from an old-school film, he’s able to track every moment of the next few seconds with precise clarity.

One: Dream opens his eyes.

Two: George leans incrementally closer, the weight of his gaze pinning Dream to the spot.

Three: Just when Dream thinks he might honestly and truly die from the suspense, George angles his head and carefully, so carefully, brushes his lips against Dream’s cheek.

It’s barely a kiss, so fleeting it could almost be misconstrued as an accident, if it weren’t for the way George sits back, face flushed as he wrings his hands together. If it weren’t for how Dream thinks he might be on fire, the memory of the soft plushness of George’s lips branded into his senses.

“What —” He coughs, throat suddenly dry. “What was that for?”

George shrugs. “Just…um. Moral support, you know?”

Dream exhales, shaking his head. “Wow. Uh, I’ve never really experienced that sort of moral support before.”

He thinks he might never wash his face again — he couldn’t possibly stomach scrubbing away the faint dampness of George’s mouth, something desperate in him unravelling inside like a spool of yarn; he wants more, wants George’s mouth all over him, wants to kiss, wants to touch —

“Did you like it?” George says abruptly, eyes too bright and a little embarrassed.

“I mean… I didn’t hate it.”

George’s face falls incrementally, and quickly, Dream hooks his foot around George’s slender ankle. “It was over kind of quickly, though,” he continues lightly. “Like, did it even happen? I don’t know, ‘cause it basically lasted for a millisecond, and —”

“Oh, shut up,” George scoffs. “You’re just — you’re baiting me, you’re actually baiting me for a kiss.”

“Whoa, who said anything about a kiss? I’m over here talking about moral support,” Dream says, grinning.

“Just post the photo, idiot,” George mutters, ears firetruck red at the tips.

And with the imprint of George’s lips on his cheek, Dream shows himself to the world. For better or worse, he thinks. Here I am.



Everything had moved very quickly after that. George had grabbed Dream’s phone immediately, insisting that he’d drive himself crazy obsessively checking every reply and quote retweet and whatever hashtag would probably end up trending. Reluctantly, Dream had agreed — the adrenaline coursing through his body was already at an all-time high — he might as well let himself forget about it for a few hours, let it sink in properly.

So they get dressed hurriedly and go, George booking an Uber because he claims to be too hungry to wait for the bus, and within minutes they’re at a bright little Mediterranean spot tucked into the corner of — Dorset Street, Dream reads from a black and white sign on a brick building.

He wants to remember every second of this trip; has urged George to take him everywhere and anywhere — wants to pull as much as possible from this brand-new, incredible city, to sink his teeth into London and learn everything he can about the place George has called home his entire life.

“So this is Marylebone,” George announces after they order, as if he can pick up on Dream’s burning curiosity. “It’s one of my favourite places — I come here quite a bit, ‘cause it’s quieter than Mayfair, but still nice.”

“Cool.” Dream looks around eagerly, breathing in the scent of fresh flowers, London’s late spring air gusting through the loose strands of his fringe.

George is right, it is quiet — Dream scans the street, sees girls walking their terriers in Lululemon leggings, young couples hand in hand — pictures Madame Tussaud’s just a few streets over, crammed with tourists. George had gone there once, in a suit of all things — some Tommy vlog that had never seen the light of day, Dream recalls distantly.

It’s weird — being outside. No mask, no hoodie, no creeping anxiety that a pair of eyes will slide his way and squint inquisitively, somehow knowing who Dream is. It still hits him in random waves — he’d expected it to, but it’s still a little unnerving, like when you’re lying in bed and your body convinces you you’ve just fallen, an abrupt jolt of terror shooting through you like a freezing cold splash of water to the face.

But Dream embraces it. Lets the tangle of anxiety unknot itself slowly in his chest, assuaged by George’s presence, whose smile chases away the dark whispers slinking around the corners of Dream’s brain. He can focus on those later; right now, he’s about to eat breakfast (well, brunch, really, considering the time) with George, in London.

Life is very unexpected, sometimes.

The waiter approaches them, bearing their drinks. George wrinkles his nose at Dream’s green juice.

“I don’t know how you drink that. It’s like, pure vegetables,” he says disgustedly.

“Vegetables are good for you.”

“Okay, mum.”

“Don’t… Don’t call me that. And this tastes great, by the way.”

“Mine definitely tastes better.”

“Okay, let me taste you – yours, yours,” Dream fixes his slip-up hastily. It really was an honest mistake, but George’s eyes widen for a fraction of a second as he processes the accidental innuendo.

“You’re so weird,” he says finally, handing over his glass of something bright and vaguely berry-flavoured.

Dream ignores him to take a gulp.

“This is way too sweet.”

“Then give it back.”

Dream takes another sip, just to be annoying, but it really is too sweet — agave syrup and soda sticks his tongue to the roof of his mouth, and he screws up his face in distaste.

“Ugh. What’s like, our plan today, then?”

“Well,” George starts. “I think it’s best to stay away from anywhere too touristy, just because — you know. So we could, I don’t know. Walk?”

“Walk,” Dream repeats, cocking his head.

“I mean, there’s a bookstore on the high street nearby that you might like,” George says. “I just don’t want to overwhelm you,” he continues, quieter, fidgeting with his cutlery.

And, oh, Dream wasn’t expecting him to say that.

“Yeah, okay,” he agrees, kicking George’s shin gently under the table. “Bookstore sounds awesome. Let’s see where the day takes us.”

Then their food arrives, and all conversation ceases as they descend upon it like a pack of feral dogs. Dream had gone for something he’d never tried before — shakshuka, the menu had told him, baked eggs in tomato sauce.

George, obviously, got the pancakes.

“This is…spicier than I thought it was gonna be,” Dream admits after a few bites. It’s also one of the best things he’s ever tasted, the flavours melting together on his tongue: tang of rich yolks, velvety tomato, the bite of sweet pepper, onion, coriander, paprika, and probably a bunch more spices Dream has never heard of.

“That’s because your spice tolerance is shit,” George says helpfully around a mouth full of cream.

“Don’t talk with food in your mouth,” Dream teases, and then, “See, look, you’ve got something on your face already.”

“Here?” George reaches up and wipes the back of his hand across his mouth.

“No, it’s — to the left. Not that left. You’re an idiot — just let me do it,” Dream finds himself saying, and his arm is already stretching across the table, his fingers grasping George’s chin as he uses his thumb to wipe off the offending smudge, before he realises how this looks.

George raises an eyebrow. “You’re cradling my face, Dream,” he points out.

“Um. That’s very observational of you.”

Dream drops his hand back into his lap abruptly, and the meal passes with no further interruptions.

When they’re done, stomachs full and Dream sliding his wallet back into his pocket because he’d insisted on paying, they walk towards the high street.

“I’ve never seen this many British people in my life,” he mutters in George’s ear.

“You scared?” George has to tilt his head up to whisper back, and his nose bumps against Dream’s jaw. Dream holds back a sharp inhale.

“If I say yes, will you hold my hand?”

“If you want an excuse to hold my hand, just say so,” George says.

It’s not a no. So Dream flexes his wrist, deliberately letting his pinky brush against George’s. It’s entirely mundane — but Dream knows George notices. He wonders what he’ll do.

The both of them are staring straight ahead as they walk. Dream feels George’s hand twitch minutely, knuckles grazing against Dream’s own. He dares to hope that maybe, just maybe —

“Tilly!” A veritable swarm of teenage girls breaks them apart, chatting eagerly back and forth in their school uniforms. The moment flies away, a scrap of fabric set loose from a washing line.

“Oh, we’re here,” George says, jerking his head at the building to their right. It’s gorgeous — dark green paint, old fashioned arched windows, antique lamps hanging from the ceiling.

As they enter, Dream breathes in the scent of books. It’s always been one of his favourite smells, weird as it might sound. But he instantly falls in love with this bookstore — the comforting smell of paper, newly-cracked hardcover spines, the quiet murmur of customers, colourful ink, the rustle of flipped pages.

“This is awesome,” he says, grinning. George’s eyes flash with satisfaction.

“I know,” he agrees. “Come on, it’s even cooler towards the back.”

Dream’s jaw drops as they move towards a tiny spiral staircase and he becomes acutely aware of his 6’2” something frame — he’s not that big, not by any means, but he’s not particularly small, either. Not like George, who goes ahead confidently. Dream feels the ridiculous urge to place his hand on the small of his lower back to steady him.

The bookstore is even more breathtaking from the second floor. Dream runs his hand along the oak bannister, admires the stained glass mural that takes up the majority of the space of the back wall, sun streaming in from the window paned ceiling.

“Wow,” he breathes.

When he turns to catch George’s eye, George is already smiling at him. And George is always beautiful, but never like this — gently sun-dappled, the faint shadow of stubble across his jaw, the soft swoop of his hair curving down on his forehead — Dream never gets him like this. Has never truly seen him like this.

“Wow,” he says again, quietly.

“The good books are all downstairs,” George says, “but I just wanted to show you this.”

And it feels terribly important, suddenly, to be standing on the second floor of a bookstore in London with George, to be shown something just for the sake of it being worth showing — to have that easy love, that unspoken understanding that these are things to be shared, to be cherished together, and Dream thinks maybe that list in his phone’s notes app of every place he wants to bring George to in Florida isn’t that silly after all, really.



“Ow. Owwww.”

“What did you — oh my God, you’re an idiot, why would you leave your bag on the floor?”

George shoots Dream an annoyed look, then haughtily picks up the tote bag he’d bought earlier in the day. They’d gotten matching ones, much to Dream’s satisfaction; blue for George and green for Dream, obviously.

“You’re so unsympathetic,” George mutters.

“How is it my fault you tripped over a pile of books that you placed on the floor, George.”

“You should have moved them for me,” George sniffs.

“What?”

“No, it’s fine. I’ll just walk around with a broken foot, it’s fine.”

“You are so dramatic — oh, and you’re limping now? Wow, do I need to call an ambulance? Do I need to put you on a stretcher?”

“Stretcher? I hardly know her,” George grins, his foot seemingly miraculously recovered as he bounces into the living room.

Dream scoffs, following him.

They sink onto the couch together, and George automatically tucks his knees up and to the side so that he’s leaning into Dream’s body. It still startles Dream — this easy intimacy, the way his arm reflexively reaches around George’s shoulder and pulls him into a more comfortable position, head nestled in the crook of Dream’s neck.

“Today was crazy,” he says, tipping his head back.

“In a good way or a bad way?”

Dream exhales, heavy. “I still don’t know, honestly. I don’t think I’ve even really processed the face reveal.”

George wriggles around, reaching into the pocket of his jeans and retrieving Dream’s phone. “Here,” he says, handing it over. “Don’t,” he pauses, as if mulling over the best way to phrase it. “Don’t look for things that might — upset you.”

Dream sighs. “I know. Thank you, by the way.”

“For what?”

“For looking out for me,” Dream says quietly. “You really helped today. You help me with a lot of things.”

George makes a soft noise of protest in the back of his throat. “I was just, you know. Being a good…friend.”

Something shifts, then, in the late setting sun of the afternoon, in the dust motes that dance through the air, illuminated in a golden glow. Magnetic, almost inevitable — a puzzle piece slotting into place, a tug in Dream’s chest. A quiet whisper. A sense of silent understanding, of the acknowledgement that this, however new, however scary, could be something. They could be something.

And they both know. It’s as simple as that. They both know.

Dream breathes in, breathes out, then — excruciatingly slowly, like George is some kind of wild animal he might scare away, dares to press a soft kiss to the top of his head. It’s something that could be explained away as platonic if push came to shove. But even in its innocence, it cleaves away that last wall between them — where he’d been careful to hide behind coy jokes and sly, teasing gestures, Dream allows himself this.

And it’s embarrassing, really, that his heart is racing from something as small as a brush of lips to George’s wavy dark hair, but Dream feels like he’s just completed a marathon, like he’s just jumped off a deck into a lake, like carbonated soda is flowing through his veins instead of blood, sparking and popping and crackling.

George yawns, warm air gusting against Dream’s skin. “Might take a nap,” he murmurs, and Dream tenses up, wondering if he went too far. Because maybe George needs space, and is making up a reason to get away from Dream and his catastrophic want — is wary of the way Dream has been pushing at that unspoken line. Dream’s mind starts up a cacophony of noise, self-doubt and anxiety instantly leaching the heat from his body.

But George doesn’t get up and go to his room. Instead, he pushes at Dream wordlessly till he’s laid down at a slight angle with his head against the arm of the couch, just like last night. Unlike last night, George doesn’t lie on his stomach. He carefully arranges himself so he’s lying on his side between Dream and the cushions, his left arm curving across Dream’s torso and his left leg slotted between Dream’s own. It’s the closest they’ve ever been to each other — even their hug on the first day didn’t feel as intimate as this, with George’s body pressed up in a line all along Dream’s, not an inch of space between them.

In this position, George’s head is resting on his chest, and Dream holds back the urge to kiss it again. Rather, he strokes a hand through George’s hair, rests his hand in a loose grasp at George’s nape.

“Is — is this okay?” George asks tentatively, looking up at him. Dream smiles so wide he thinks it might split his cheeks.

“This is perfect,” he whispers. George hums, satisfied, and he closes his eyes, clearly moments away from dozing off.

Dream doesn’t move, just stares at George, at his lashes fluttering ever so slightly, at the slight pink pout of his lips, at the gentle crease in between his brows. He drags his gaze past George’s head, follows the slight, indented arc of George’s waist to briefly rest on the swell of George’s thigh and then onto the sprawl of George’s leg, so brazenly draped across Dream’s hip that it almost makes him self-conscious.

Minutes later, once George’s breathing has evened out, Dream turns on his phone. Discord first — his DMs are overflowing with joy and surprise and congratulations, and he skims through them, making a mental note to properly reply to everyone later. Quackity, Karl and Nick have sent at least a hundred messages in their group chat, so Dream sends them a smiley face, knowing they’ll all be in a call soon enough.

Then, nerves making all the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, Dream opens Twitter.

It’s too much to even comprehend at first — the photo has half a million likes and climbing, and Dream deliberately resists the awful compulsion to check the quote retweets. Instead he likes the replies from his friends, scrolls through the astonishment and disbelief and excitement reverberating from the community. Submerges himself in the love, lets the thousands of messages of support keep the niggling strands of anxiety at bay.

His timeline is flooded with fans talking about how proud they are — there’s already countless pieces of fanart and edits and Dream makes another mental note to log into his fanart account at some point later today. A rush of affection rolls through him; even after all this time, Dream thinks he could never be possibly grateful enough for the people who love him despite his shortcomings. Despite the years that have passed, it takes him aback. The act of being invested in him, of rooting for him, of wanting him to succeed. Without warning, Dream finds himself crying, a wave of emotions he’d been suppressing for so long finally being released.

He swallows down the tears, mindful to not move too much as George twitches slightly. Roughly, he wipes his nose with the back of his sleeve, then swaps accounts to his private, fingers at a standstill as he thinks about what to say. This warrants more than just a heart — Dream has so much to thank them for, so much he wants them to know.

Finally, he figures it out. He hits post, then watches as the replies practically explode.

dreamsecretclub:

honestly still kind of overwhelmed rn but just wanted to say thank you so much for everything. this has been a long time coming and i hope u all liked the surprise :^) you guys are seriously fucking amazing and i appreciate you more than you could ever know <3

LOVE U!!!


A tweet catches his eye — we need more photos of you and george pls pls pls — and impulsively, Dream opens his camera roll and tweets again, this time the photo he’d taken yesterday of George asleep on the couch, simply captioned: “look at this idiot”.

George will probably crucify him for it when he wakes up, but Dream reasons that it could have been worse. He could have, for instance, stretched his arm out and taken a selfie of George cuddled into his chest, limbs wrapped around Dream like a koala bear. Which, admittedly, Dream now does, but that photo is strictly for himself. He can only break Twitter so many times in one day.

And he also wants to cherish it — if this is all he can ever have, so be it. Dream would break his own heart happily if he still gets George in his arms, regardless of how badly he aches for more.

He saves the photo to his favourites. Tries not to think about how in a few weeks, it’ll be nothing more than a memory.

Dream’s phone rings, startlingly loud in the complete silence of the living room. It’s Nick — Dream hesitates, not wanting to wake George. He does want to talk to Nick, though, because a tiny part of him still twinges with guilt from changing up the face reveal plan. But moving from the couch isn’t an option, so he’ll just have to whisper and hope that George’s habit of being a heavy sleeper pulls through.

“Hey,” he mutters as he picks up.

“Dude!” Nick shouts into his ear, and Dream grimaces.

“Shhh, not so loud,” he whispers frantically, checking to see if the yell had disturbed George’s sleep. But George seems fine, mouth slack and chest rising and falling slowly.

“What?” Nick says incredulously. “Why, what happened?”

“Um,” Dream says. “George is asleep.”

“Yeah, I saw your tweet. It’s not like he can hear me from across the room,” Nick laughs.

Dream mentally slaps himself on the forehead. “Uh, that photo’s actually from yesterday,” he explains. “But he’s asleep again, so technically he’s still an idiot.”

“Right,” Nick says slowly, and Dream desperately tries to think of another way to stall. “But again, it’s not like he can hear me from across the room.”

“Well,” Dream says awkwardly. “He’s not exactly across the room right now.”

One, two, three seconds pass before Nick says, voice steeped with amusement as if he already knows: “So where is he, exactly?”

“On me,” Dream says before his brain catches up. “I mean, not on me, but like, okay — he is on me. We’re on the couch. Not that we’d like, be anywhere else.”

“...I see.”

Dream has the terrible feeling that it won’t be long before Quackity and Karl know about this.

“Listen, he just got tired all of a sudden and we were both already sitting next to each other, so he lay down on me, and you know what? I don’t have to explain myself to you,” Dream argues. “What’s wrong with — with cuddling the homies?”

“Oh, I never said there was anything wrong with it,” Nick drawls. “I just think you sound a little too defensive over there, buddy.”

“Shut up,” Dream mutters.

“So what, I can’t be excited about your face reveal because I might disturb poor Georgie’s beauty sleep? Why don’t you just wake him up, then we can all get hyped together,” Nick offers.

Dream’s eyes snap back to George’s sleeping figure, and his heart breaks a little. “I can’t wake him up,” he says helplessly. “That’s mean.”

“You are so whipped,” Nick says, solemnly exasperated. “Like, I just need you to know that.”

“Jesus, did you call me just to make fun of me?”

“No, asshole. I called you to say what the fuck, you’re trending on Twitter in like, six different ways. And also that Q and Karl are sulking about you ignoring them.”

“Okay, okay,” Dream says. “When George wakes up, we’ll VC you guys.”

“You mean Facetime us,” Nick interjects. “Like, surely we’ve got to have an epic Crew Boys group call.”

“Dude, not that fucking name,” Dream scoffs, and they both laugh.

“I mean, if you’re fine with that,” Nick continues. “How do you feel — about everything?”

Dream scratches his head. “I kind of feel like I need to vomit, but also I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy before, either, if that makes sense?”

“Fair enough. I’m proud of you, dude,” Nick says. “Life only goes up from here.”

“Mhm,” Dream replies noncommittally.

Because the rollercoaster isn’t quite over yet. He still has to say goodbye to George in a few days. And that’s becoming something increasingly more difficult to reckon with — Dream can’t fathom how he’s going to walk away from the best thing in his life, not knowing how long it’ll take before he can see George in person again, how many weeks or even months will pass before he can recount the freckles on the bridge of George’s nose to see if they’re all still there, before he can gaze into dark, bottomless eyes, before he can have moments like this again, George’s body curved around his own like overlapping parentheses.

“You good?”

“Fine,” Dream answers automatically. “I miss you,” he adds. And he means it. He misses Nick’s easy jokes, how he steals food off Dream’s plate at breakfast, the quiet afternoons they spend watching TV, the way the two of them fight for Patches’ attention and fall into each other with helpless laughter when she ignores them for Dream’s mom instead.

“Aw, I miss you too,” Nick says. “The house is so fucking quiet, it’s kind of creepy. I think I’ll tell Punz and Karl to come visit, actually. Quackity is always so busy, but I’ll probably ask him too.”

“You should,” Dream encourages. “We have all those guest rooms set up, we might as well use them.”

“Speaking of guest rooms,” Nick says slyly, “is George’s getting any use?”

“What?” Dream sputters. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“I mean, if you guys are already sleeping together —”

“Don’t say it like that.”

“Sorry, if George is already sleeping on you,” Nick corrects himself sarcastically, “I was just, you know, curious about if the bed in his guest room was getting dusty from nobody using it.”

“Fuck off,” Dream says, rolling his eyes. “I slept in that bed last night. The entire night. Alone.”

“You don’t sound too happy about that,” Nick observes.

“You’re actually so annoying.”

“You’re not denying it.”

“Your mom didn’t deny it either.”

“Ew,” Nick says flatly. “And that was a terrible change of subject. Like, ludicrously terrible.”

“You’re so obsessed with that word. Ludicrous.”

“Another attempt to change the subject. I see you, I see you.”

“What do you want me to say?” Dream shoots back, voice rising.”That I want to sleep with George?”

“What?”

Dream freezes. Because Nick hadn’t been the one to say that — George had. Because George isn’t asleep anymore — he’s looking right at Dream, rubbing drowsiness out of his eyes, frowning ever so slightly in an adorably dazed way.

“Oh my god,” Nick says quietly in his ear. “You are an actual moron.”

Steadfastly ignoring him, Dream smiles a little too wide at George. “Nothing,” he says, attempting to come across convincingly. “Just talking to Nick, he’s being stupid. Sorry for waking you up.”

“Eh, it’s whatever,” George says, seemingly believing him. “I don’t want to fuck up my sleep schedule. Put him on speakerphone.”

Grudgingly, Dream does so.

“One sec,” Nick says, “I’m gonna call you guys back from the group server. We gotta get the boys in on this. And turn on your camera!”

“Wow, someone’s needy,” George remarks dryly.

“You might want to get out of Dream’s lap first,” is Nick’s parting sentence, and Dream flushes bright red. George blinks, affronted.

“I’m not in your lap,” he says slowly, as if the position they’re in isn’t objectively far more incriminating.

“Um,” Dream says eloquently, because he’s only human, so naturally the only thing his mind is fixating on right now is the image of George sitting on his lap, slim waist fitted to Dream’s hands, spine pressed up against Dream’s front, head lolling against Dream’s shoulder.

Thankfully, Dream’s phone starts ringing again. George shoves at him immediately, nearly sending him rolling onto the carpet.

“What the hell?”

“Sit up,” George hisses at him threateningly.

“Ugh, okay,” Dream says, and they both shift into more normal looking positions, side by side on the couch.

George grabs Dream’s phone, accepting the call before he balances Dream’s phone on the table in front of them.

Instantly, the speaker explodes with shouts.

“Oh my fucking god, a little warning next time?”

“You guys met up and didn’t think to tell us?”

“Did you know about this, Sapnap?”

“Just because Dream trusts me the most —”

“Now when are you all coming to North Carolina, that’s my question —”

“Dude, we’re fucking partying in Florida, nobody is going to NC —”

“Florida? You’re joking, that place is dead as hell —”

“Hey, guess what, I’ve met Dream and you guys haven’t, you suck, you actually suck —”

“I fucking live with Dream, idiot, you’re just his side bitch —”

“Guys, relax,” Dream says firmly, trying to rein in the chaos.

The laughter subsides eventually, but the grins remain — it’s their first time video calling where everyone can see each other and all five of them share identical looks of unconstrained joy.

Quackity breaks the silence first. “I cannot fucking believe you guys kept this a secret,” he says, shaking his head.

Dream raises his hands for forgiveness. “Honestly, it was so last-minute, we didn’t even think about it like that.”

“You should have told us you were going! We could have had a five outta five meetup — now that would have been a surprise,” Karl says, bouncing up and down in his chair.

Dream shares a quick side glance with George. He shrugs awkwardly. “Uh, you know…”

“Oh, no, we couldn’t possibly third-wheel you guys, could we,” Quackity says, a knowing gleam in his eyes.

“Shut up,” George cuts in.

“Yeah, don’t be jealous that I have George all to myself,” Dream says proudly. He realises, in retrospect, that maybe that didn’t sound as much of an epic comeback as it did a compliment to George.

“Anyway,” Nick says, clapping his hands. “This is just so awesome. Like, as soon as George gets to Florida, y’all better be pulling up, I’m serious.”

Quackity pumps his fist. “Gambling all night, baby!”

“And getting wasted!” Karl adds.

“And getting bitches!” Nick tops it off. “Well, for some of us. George is getting absolutely zero bitches.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” George cocks his head. “I’ve heard Americans like British accents, right?”

“Oh, ‘cause you’re so posh, innit,” Quackity mocks. Dream laughs helplessly, accidentally knocking his shoulder against George. He wonders if his iPhone camera is sharp enough to pick up on his blush.

“Dude, how do you feel, though?” Karl asks, directing the question at Dream.

Dream shrugs. “Still kind of surreal, honestly. George confiscated my phone the whole day, so I’ve only just checked Twitter. I don’t even know what ninety-percent of the reaction is.”

“It’s good,” Nick says confidently. “You got a whole lot of people thirsting for you now, man. Like, way more than before, and that’s saying something.”

Quackity and Karl wolf-whistle in unison. Dream rolls his eyes, smiling.

“Ooh, Dream, you’re so sexy, can you sign my chest at Dreamcon?” Quackity jokes, tugging at the collar of his shirt.

“Woah, dude, we’re all still in call,” Karl says. “Like, get a room, am I right or am I right?”

George stiffens almost imperceptibly next to Dream. When Dream sneaks a look at him, he’s uncharacteristically straight faced. Incredulously, Dream dares to wonder — could this be jealousy?

He mulls it over for a moment, then thinks, why not find out?

“Well, Quackity,” he says, overly flirtatious, “there’s always a room for you in Florida.”

The call erupts into giggles — from everyone but George, who is now definitely suppressing a scowl. Dream inhales sharply. It’s textbook. George is not enjoying this bit at all.

He opens his mouth, about to carry on with the joke, when George speaks first.

“Aw, Dream’s phone is about to die,” he says apologetically. “We have to go.”

“Lame,” Nick says, frowning. “I think I might stream later, though, so if any of you wanna hop in call, here’s an open invite.”

The voices of their friends discussing stream schedules fade into a buzz as Dream turns to stare curiously at George.

Because on his phone screen, the battery percentage bar is shining a bright, happy green — almost 100% juice.

George isn’t meeting his eyes, reaching out instead to hang up. With a decisive tap, the room falls into silence.

“George,” Dream says, not even really sure where he’s going with this.

“Yes?” George says casually, as if daring him to call him out on it.

And maybe it says something about Dream, and fuck it, blame it on his horoscope, but George being blatantly jealous of a stupid joke between him and Quackity? It’s kind of hot, if he’s being honest.

“Nothing,” Dream says, holding back a victorious grin. “Nothing at all.”

“Good,” George says simply.

And that shift between them becomes a little more tangible.



That night, Dream has trouble sleeping. It’s latent adrenaline from the events of the day, he figures, which is understandable. Regardless, he tosses and turns, unable to get comfortable. The blanket is stifling, smothering Dream’s chest till he kicks it off, irritated.

His mind races; he can’t stop thinking about the spark of possessiveness he’d seen flare up in George’s eyes, pulling at the curve of his mouth and collecting at the set of his jaw. George has never struck him as a particularly jealous person — he likes Dream’s attention on him, sure, but that always seemed to exist in their own little bubble.

And if George was jealous, well. The logical conclusion to follow would be that George wants — George wants —

What? To be the only person Dream flirts with? Or something more? Something Dream doesn’t dare speak aloud, but imagines, in the safety of his mind, maybe.

He exhales, rubbing brusquely at his five-‘o’-clock shadow. If he can’t sleep, he might as well go raid George’s kitchen for a late night snack.

Dream doesn’t bother to put on a shirt, just pads down the hall in his sweatpants and socks, being careful not to step too heavily.

Smacking his lips tiredly, he rounds the corner to the kitchen — and stops dead in his tracks.

George is sitting on the counter, feet swinging back and forth absently as he eats cereal out of a mug. He pauses, spoon midway to his mouth as he makes eye contact with Dream.

“Um, hi,” Dream greets him, raising a hand sheepishly.

“Huh. Looks like we both couldn’t sleep,” George says, raising an eyebrow.

“Well, it‘s been a wild day,” Dream says, more to fill the silence than anything.

George tilts the mug towards him. “You want some?”

“Yeah, why not.”

George slips down from the island smoothly, opening the fridge. The rectangle of harsh, bright light hurts Dream’s eyes and he winces, screwing up his nose.

“Is midnight cereal a habit of yours?” he asks, distracting himself from the way George’s silhouette is lit up by the fridge interior, black shirt clinging to his slim frame, black shorts skimming the tops of his knees.

“Cereal always tastes better at night,” George declares matter-of-factly, spinning around with a carton of milk in hand.

Dream watches him as he performs the simple routine: gets another mug out of a cupboard, plucks a spoon from a drawer, pours out the cereal flakes. There’s an odd, disquieting weight in the air between them — heightened the liminal space of the late hour, the dim light of George’s kitchen, illuminated solely by muted shafts of moonlight. Not as dramatic as the precipice before the fall, but present all the same, a skitter around the base of Dream’s spine, a matchstick being struck in the space behind his ribs, pulling the oxygen from his lungs.

George hands him the mug. Their fingers brush, briefly, and the matchstick becomes a candle.

“It’s kind of stuffy in here. We should go outside,” George says, quietly, like he’s trying not to disturb the tension.

“Yeah,” Dream says, but George could have said anything, could have said Dream, I’m thinking of quitting streaming and joining the circus, and Dream would have probably still agreed.

Blurred eyes and a blurrier mind, it’s like he can only process every two seconds of the scene. They’re in George’s kitchen, and then they’re leaving, walking to the living room, and George is drawing back curtains and opening a glass door and suddenly they’re on a small balcony that Dream didn’t even know existed.

George sits, and gestures for Dream to join him. So he does, facing George, their backs pressed to one side each of the elegant black railings, knees pulled halfway to their chest, socked feet overlapping.

Dream takes a bite of cereal. It could have been cardboard for the way he barely tastes it. He’s spinning away from himself, floating away from his body, looking down at their two figures, barely a foot apart but a chasm of unspoken words between them.

“That, um, photo, you tweeted of me today,” George murmurs, spinning his spoon around idly with his forefinger. “Why did you post it?”

Dream opens his mouth to speak, then stops. Ordinarily, he’d play it off like a joke — he’s tweeted stupid screencaps of George before, laughed it off between them as nothing more than an opportunity to make fun, to do a little fan service.

But nothing about this is ordinary, anymore. There’s a sediment of finality, settling itself in Dream’s gut, steadying those whispers that fly around his head. What if, what if, what if.

“You looked cute,” he says finally, voice scraping with raw honesty.

George blinks, ducks his head abruptly. “Shut up,” he mutters, letting his spoon clatter against the rim of his mug.

“What — you asked me why I tweeted it, and I’m answering.” Dream shrugs.

He thinks, absurdly, how much easier it is to say these words when the nighttime breeze whisks them away moments after they leave his lips.

“You think I’m cute?” George asks, eyes darting up to Dream. And it’s not fair, really, to have to make eye contact with him. Not when the look in George’s eyes is so vulnerable, so open, so impossibly soft. George’s eyes have always given him away; the way they sparkle when he laughs, deaden when he’s frustrated, gleam with satisfaction when he gets his way. Dream has memorised every eyelash, every crease, every blink.

But he’s never seen them like this. Like the cosmos of space are trapped inside those dark pools. Like Dream could drown in them, bottomless and rich. Like he’s a dead man walking. He swallows, sticky-sharp, and holds George’s gaze.

“I mean, yeah. You’re George,” he says, the overwhelming truth of it making his tongue feel too big for his mouth. You’re George, and you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.

“I’m George,” George repeats, as if he’s turning it over in his mind. “And you’re Dream.”

“And I’m Dream.”

“Dream and George,” George says, and there’s a significance to it.

Dream’s mind feels like a broken record, the needle stuck, repeating just one line — Dream and George and George and Dream and Dream and George.

He could narrow his entire life down to Dream and George.

“Do you think I’m cute?” he blurts. Shame floods him instantaneously. He sounds like a goddamned sixth-grade girl, passing a note in class to the guy she likes.

Hi George. Do you think I’m cute? Yes/No — Dream xoxo

To his relief, George doesn’t laugh, or even look weirded out. Instead, he snags his lower lip between his teeth and nods, so small it could be mistaken for a twitch of the head. But Dream sees it. Dream has always, always, always seen George.

Yes.

And in that impulsive moment of admission, George is breathtaking. Cheekbones stark in the pale moonlight, lips pressed into a reddened pout, slip of collarbone where his pajama shirt is loose around his neck. The line of his neck, the skim of long lashes, the straight slant of his nose. Dream commits these features to memory; in the long, weightless moment that passes, he thinks he could know George in the deepest parts of his soul.

“That’s, um,” he rasps out. “That’s good to know.”

George’s foot twitches where it’s pressed against Dream’s, and the candle becomes a forest fire. Dream can hear it roaring in his ears, can feel it scorching his blood, burning his bones to ash.

He sets down his mug abruptly. The cereal is a soggy mess by now, anyway.

“You’ve got goosebumps,” George points out. Dream looks down — he’s shirtless, he remembers suddenly, and George is right — the skin on his forearms is tight, pebbled, raised.

The thing is: Dream doesn’t think it has anything to do with the chilly London air. It’s not possible, not with the flames licking around every one of his cells, setting him alight from the centre of his core.

“They’re not from the cold,” he says, letting the implication teeter between them.

George’s eyebrows knit together. “Then — what are they from?”

It’s innocent, tinged with concern. But in the catch of George’s voice — the breathlessness, the lingering note of something at the end of his question, Dream can tell he’s waiting.

He shifts his weight. The cold metal of the balcony curlicues digs into the flesh of his back, grounding him in this surreal, dreamlike moment.

“I’m nervous,” Dream admits, raising a hand to rub at the back of his neck, an anxiety tic he could never quite quit. George’s eyes track the movement, and he resists the entirely pathetic urge to flex his bicep.

“Why are you nervous?” George asks. And there it is again; a genuine question with the expectation of a genuine response. Except — when George places his own mug carefully on the ground next to him, his fingers are trembling.

“Because…” Dream trails off, the blistering heat scalding his throat, a sharp sear of pain that chokes him, pulverising the words before they’re even half-formed.

This is it, then. No more lies, no more half-truths, No more jokes. No more hiding behind a facade of humour, a pretence that it’s all for the fans. It’s like theatre curtains coming down, a heavy sweep of crushed red velvet that wipes away the performance on stage. Show’s over, folks. We’re in the real world now.

“Because?” George prompts him delicately. His hands flutter in his lap, an aborted gesture that never quite takes air.

“Because,” Dream whispers, heartbeat thudding in his ears. “Because I want to kiss you.”

Dream closes his eyes.

Opens them again.

And to his shock — George is smiling at him. Nervous, shy, unbelievably stunning.

“So kiss me,” he says, devastatingly gentle.

Dream bites his tongue — so fiercely he tastes copper, and the metallic tang is the only thing that convinces him this is real, this is happening.

“Are — What — George, are you sure?”

He has to ask. A small, terrible part of him is still insisting that this is just a joke that’s gone too far, that George is about to reel back in disgust, a cruel sneer on his face. Dream, we’re not like that. I don’t like you that way. Why would you ever think that?

But George is moving, shifting, pushing Dream’s legs flat so he can sit himself on Dream’s lap. Dream inhales shakily. George is in his lap, legs bracketing Dream’s waist, and his hands settle themselves automatically at George’s hips, thumbs rubbing small circles into the warmth of his skin where his shirt has ridden up.

George’s face is inches from his. Their breaths mingle in the cold air. At this level of closeness, Dream can make out every freckle on George’s nose.

“Hi,” he says, stupidly.

George leans in, knocking their foreheads together. “Hi.”

And then Dream swallows, loud enough to hear, and they’re both aware of what comes next, and it’s so easy, it’s so fucking easy for Dream to slide a hand up to the smooth skin of George’s nape, to grasp the soft tufts of hair and pull him in that final centimetre for a kiss.

Kissing George is what Dream thinks it might feel like to fly.

It’s the body-shuddering adrenaline of posting a new video, of feeling the rush of momentum toppling his brain into overdrive, when he can barely sit still and needs to pace, needs to run, needs to scream at the top of his lungs — Look at me, look at what I can do, look at what I’m made of.

It’s ten hours into a Discord call, delirious with exhaustion, still giggling about a punchline that was forgotten twelve sentences ago, raising the volume on his headset to hear George’s peals of laughter a little better and not caring if the audio bursts his eardrums because the pain is nothing compared to the way Dream’s ribs ache from how happy he is.

It’s the shock of cannonballing into the pool — hot Florida sun on the back of his neck, freezing cold water jolting his system from the inside out, the way he pushes himself, keeps his body underwater for a few seconds more than he should just for the hell of it, holds his breath as chlorine stings his screwed-shut eyes and he just lets himself exist, weightless.

It’s how Dream felt stepping on that plane two days ago; nerves and terror tangled up in his throat, the significance of it all thrumming in his bones, the knowledge that this is something big. This is something you have never done before. This will change your life.

Then George’s lips part, and he slides his tongue into Dream’s mouth, and Dream’s brain whites out. All he knows is the exploration of George’s mouth, restless and moving against his, soft and needy.

At some point, George’s hands fly up to his face — they’re cold from the stone floor, but the sensation of George’s fingers gripping Dream’s jaw, his cheeks, as if George is terrified to let go, banishes the chill instantly.

Dream clutches at George, gripping his waist so tight he thinks he might leave bruises, and Dream wants to — wants to brand his fingerprints into George’s skin, wants to leave an imprint that shows, undeniably, that Dream was here. Dream is here. George’s mouth is hot and gorgeously insistent, and Dream kisses him with a hunger that’s been building up since he saw George in that damned white T-shirt. Or much longer, if he’s being honest.

George tastes like the faint remnants of sweet sugary cereal and fresh milk, and it’s absolutely fucking addictive — Dream licks into his mouth desperately, tracing the outline of his teeth, a slick-spit whine escaping him as one of George’s hands finds his hair and pulls.

“Jesus,” Dream groans raggedly, but he doesn’t say anything more because George is tugging him closer again, kissing him like it’s the end of the world, like a meteor could strike them down any second, like kissing Dream is the only thing that matters.

One more, Dream thinks dazedly to himself. One more kiss, and then they talk. One more, and then they break apart for real. One more, one more, one more.

But their explorations are mutually destructive; Dream feels desire pooling at his shoulder blades, dripping down his spine like hot wax — George is stealing the air from his mouth, drawing out those unspoken words and swallowing them down. As if he’s telling Dream: We don’t need the sappy monologues right now. We just need this.

And Dream has never agreed more. Hands fitted to creamy skin, the weight of George in his lap like it’s the fiftieth time they’re doing this, not the first, the contraction of Dream’s stomach, in and out, knife-sharp, coils of arousal and nerves forging a potent blend.

George catches Dream’s lower lip between his teeth, and the sensation goes right to his dick. Dream huffs out a breath, and George laughs, low and dirty, as if he knows exactly what he’s doing to Dream. His hips shift, and Dream’s abdomen tightens sharply as George grinds down, deliberate, rubbing himself against the growing erection in Dream’s sweatpants.

“Fuck — George, not here,” Dream somehow manages to get out between searing kisses.

“Mm, why not,” George breathes into his ear, before licking a hot stripe up Dream’s neck. Dream lets out a strangled noise, hips jerking up reflexively, and the friction is just unbearable, too much and not enough at the same time.

“George,” he pleads, feverish with need. “We can’t — not out here.”

Dream has been reduced to monosyllables, unable to string together a coherent sentence with George’s back arched against the splay of his hand, George’s teeth and tongue doing something filthy to the crook of his jaw, George’s ass rocking back and forth in his lap.

“I said, why not.”

And Dream is so, so fucking tempted to just give in. To let this, them, rutting together like two horny teenagers, reach its crescendo right out here on the balcony, just because George wants him to. But he wants to do so much — say so much, and the fear that anyone on the street could look up and see them is too much for Dream. At least for their first time.

“Public indecency,” he mutters, as George continues his assault on Dream’s neck. “We could get arrested.”

“You’re a millionaire. Bail us out,” George says dismissively, but after a moment he relents, sitting back, angling his wrists around Dream’s neck. They stare at each other, panting, and Dream wonders if he looks as dishevelled as George does right now. He probably looks worse, he decides, because even with half his hair sticking up at odd angles and a smear of saliva glistening on his chin, George is beautiful.

“You’re beautiful,” Dream says, a little breathlessly. Because he can say that now, he realises, and it stuns him. All the unsaid things, all the suppressed comments, all the compliments disguised as teasing — now, Dream can shower George in that no-longer skinny love, can tell him every thought that crosses his mind.

“You’re so cheesy,” George says, shaking his head, but his smile is pleased. “Now pick me up,” he orders.

“What?”

“Pick me up, Dream,” George repeats, expectantly. “And take us to my room.”

Dream laughs, because he can’t help it — of course George is bossy, even during this.

“If you insist, your Highness,” he mocks lightly. But he does so, staggering a bit as he gets to his feet and scoops George up, who wraps his legs around Dream’s waist confidently. Dream pauses, suddenly self-conscious.

“Can I — it’s the best way to balance you, if I — you know,” he says awkwardly, hands hovering over the curve of George’s thighs.”

George snorts into Dream’s neck. “Yes, idiot. You can grab my ass.”

“I was trying to be respectful,” Dream says defensively, only slightly mortified. He does grab George’s ass, though, so maybe he’s not that respectful after all. As he steps through the balcony doors and kicks them shut with the back of his foot, he accidentally jostles George, who lets out an unexpected hiss. A little late, Dream realises that something hard and insistent is pressing against his stomach.

He opens his mouth — to say what, Dream isn’t entirely sure, but George beats him to it.

“I don’t want you to be respectful,” he murmurs, smooth and dark as molasses. “I want you to get us to my room in the next ten seconds so I can find out what your cock feels like in my hand.”

Dream has never moved so fast in his entire life.

He barely even processes that wait, he still hasn’t been in George’s room before, because the moment they push through the door George is humming in his ear, “Bed, bed,” and Dream obeys, mindless, his blood singing with want.

They fall ungracefully on top of messy sheets, and Dream is overwhelmed with how much it smells like George — sandalwood spice and fresh soap and something a little darker, muskier, pure male. But that’s the last thought he’s able to put together before George is clambering on top of him, hands planted on the pillow behind Dream’s head, swooping down to capture him in a lingering kiss.

Dream arches up in response, and oh — in this position, their hips are properly aligned, and his mind goes fuzzy at the drag of George’s cock against his own, barely muted by the few layers of fabric between them.

George sucks a bruise into the base of Dream’s neck, and a spike of pain-pleasure ripples through him. He moans, unabashed now that they’re in the privacy of a bedroom, wanting George to know how much he’s affecting him, how badly Dream needs him.

“God, you’re hot,” George mutters, before biting down again, hot and wet and messy. Dream thinks, deliriously, that George’s DNA might be 50% vampire — and he’s entirely okay with that.

They’re still grinding against each other, rhythm irregular and unpracticed but so fucking good when they get it right; Dream figures it out how to thrust up just as George bears his hips down, and he isn’t wearing boxers, so he can feel exactly when precome begins to dampen the front of his sweats.

“Off,” he says, hoping George gets the message. “Need to get this off.”

“Need to get you off,” George says immediately, which sends an unexpected jolt of arousal crackling through Dream’s body. Who knew George had such a mouth on him? Well, to be fair, Dream did — but he’d never thought about how that would translate to George in bed. And he’d never expected it to be something he’d be so enamoured by.

George leans back, pulling off his shirt in one singular motion, and Dream’s eyes rove over him greedily. George is lean, all angles and limbs and smooth pale skin, a smattering of dark hair forming a line down his navel. Dream wants to do something awful, like put his tongue there and lick it, so he tugs at the waistband of George’s shorts instead.

“These too,” he mutters. “Wanna see you.”

George nods, eyes dark with something predatory glimmering in their depths. “And you,” he says decisively. It takes a bit of fumbling — George seems reluctant to move too far from Dream, but they manage to strip off their final layers till they’re both naked, breathing raggedly until George climbs over Dream again.

Without preamble, George rolls his hips forward, and their cocks slide together, heavy and exquisitely perfect; Dream didn’t think sex could even feel like this, which is kind of embarrassing, considering what they’re doing could barely even be called sex. He groans, tangling a hand in George’s hair and pulling him into an open-mouthed kiss. It’s not a kiss, really — their teeth clack together, and George is basically just licking any part of Dream’s face that he can reach, his tongue velvet smooth in the shell of Dream’s ear, across his stubble, up against the roof of Dream’s mouth.

Blindly, Dream slides his free hand down the jut of George’s spine, stroking and petting until he reaches the swell of George’s ass. He grabs, hard, curving his fingers into soft, unyielding flesh, and George makes a noise in the back of his throat that’s somewhere between a whine and a gasp. It might be the sexiest thing Dream’s ever heard.

He wants to hear that noise again, immediately, so Dream turns his mouth to George’s neck, determined to give George at least half as many bruises as Dream knows are stamped into his own skin. Hand in a firm grasp at the base of George’s nape, he runs his teeth across George’s collarbone, before sinking his teeth into the junction between neck and shoulder.

George’s entire body shudders, which makes the friction against Dream’s cock dizzyingly good, slick and stuttering. He tips his head back, huffing, as George runs his hands up and down Dream’s sides, scraping lightly with his fingernails.

“Tickles,” he utters, abdomen clenching as George grinds down on him, the heads of their cocks rubbing together.

“And this?” George asks, devilishly innocent as he reaches down and takes Dream confidently in his hand.

Dream curses, loud, hips snapping forward as he arches into George’s palm. It’s the hottest sensation he’s ever felt in his life; George’s hand is rough without lube, but as Dream watches him through half-lidded eyes, he swipes his thumb over the head firmly, collecting precome and smearing it over Dream’s shaft.

George’s hands aren’t especially small — smaller than Dream’s, sure, but still bigger than any girl Dream has ever been with. But even as he grasps Dream’s cock, flushed red and curved up against his stomach, George still can’t quite get his whole hand to cover it. Dream feels something primal surge up in him seeing that; George, biting his lip with concentration, laser-focused on getting Dream off.

He should do something, Dream thinks, instead of just lying here, letting George palm his dick while his hands are clenched into fists at his sides. But tension is curling in his gut, arousal rendering him useless, and to be fair, he can always reciprocate afterwards.

Dream tucks his nose into the crook of George’s neck, panting desperately as George’s grip tightens, quickens, deft fingers stroking him up down up down up till he moans, brokenly, into the damp sweat of George’s skin.

“I’m close,” he says, gritting his teeth.

“Good,” George tells him, and — oh, okay, so that’s something Dream is learning he is definitely into. He feels a flush rising to his cheeks; somehow, even stark naked with George’s hand on his cock, he can find new ways to embarrass himself.

And George has picked up on it, too — the way Dream’s breath had caught in his throat had clearly not gone unnoticed, because George laughs, low and throaty, and presses his thumb into the slit of Dream’s head.

He groans, hands scrabbling desperately at George’s back, and drags his nails down George’s spine. “Please,” Dream says, the beg falling from his lips as easily as anything.

“Please, what?” George’s hand slows down, and Dream thinks this might be the worst form of torture that exists.

“Please, George,” he beseeches, mind hazy with arousal, too beyond gone to care if he sounds like a goddamn fool. “Say — say it.”

“Well, since you asked so nicely,” George says, and his speed picks up again as he drops his lips to Dream’s ear. His voice is practically a purr when he speaks. “Are you going to be good and come for me, Dream?”

Something inside Dream shatters, molten heat spreading through his core, and he whines, high and needy. “Fuck, George — hah —” and with one last jerk of George’s wrist, Dream is coming, shivering with how hard the waves of pleasure are, hips stuttering as his orgasm crests and finally dissipates.

Dream exhales all the air in his lungs. Most of his come had splattered against his own stomach, and it’s already cooling, the sensation not particularly enjoyable. But Dream has bigger things to focus on. Namely, George, who is eyeing the sticky residue on his palm as if he — as if he wants to —

George’s tongue is crimson red as he licks up, up, up; wrist to palm to the tip of his middle finger, cleaning up the remnants of Dream’s come like it’s some sort of fucking Michelin-star meal.

“Jesus Christ,” Dream says, closing his eyes in disbelief. He’s quite literally just orgasmed, but watching that — spectacle — makes him think he could be ready for a round two in less than thirty seconds.

George makes an impatient noise, and Dream’s eyes snap open. Right.

“C’mere,” he says, wanting a kiss first. It’s only when George’s tongue is sliding into his mouth does Dream realise why his lips taste salty. It’s not his fault — his brain isn’t working at full capacity right now, and objectively, it should be really, really gross. But, admittedly, Dream is kind of into it — he deepens the kiss, lets George rut needily against his spent cock, even when the overstimulation prickles his skin with goosebumps.

“Need you, Dream,” George says urgently when they break apart.

“I’ve got you,” Dream promises him. “I’ve got you.” He manoeuvres them carefully — settling George on his back so Dream can hover over him, now.

Dream gives himself a millisecond to just — look. To stare, awestruck, still trying to catch his breath. George’s body is open and ripe for the taking underneath him, his chest rising and falling as he meets Dream’s gaze. Dream thinks, surely, he has to be the luckiest man on the planet to see George like this. Sprawled limbs, pale skin misted with sweat, bruise marks blossoming on his neck. Dream presses his thumb to one, absently, and George hisses.

“Dream,” he says again. The air between them crackles with electricity.

“George,” Dream says, reverently, as he wraps his hand around George’s cock.

George bucks up into the touch immediately, stomach contracting with tension, but Dream strokes him through it, learning how George likes it, how to angle his hand just so to draw out a low groan, a whispered curse.

Unsteadily, Dream asks, “You okay?”

George cracks an eye open, somehow managing an impassive glare even as he shudders under Dream’s touch. “Fucking — ah, Dream — yes. Yes.”

Dream feels a surge of disbelief wash over him; he’s in George’s bed, palming George’s cock, living out every fantasy he’s ever had.

“You’re unreal,” he mutters, hoarse. “God, George, you were just fucking — made for me, or something.” It spills out of him, relentless, brightness breaking through his skin like fucking sunbeams — “You’re everything I’ve ever wished for, Jesus, George, you’re perfect, baby, so perfect for me,” and the pet name slips out, unpracticed and a little cliché, but Dream can’t find it in himself to feel embarrassed when George keens, turning his head towards the pillow as a flush blooms down his chest.

“Please,” George says brokenly, and Dream feels his heartbeat tap-tapping away in his fingertips.

“Anything you want,” he says, earnest and aching with the truth of it. An idea takes hold of him, suddenly, and Dream’s breath catches. He hesitates — does he try and explain, or should he just go for it?

Fuck it, he thinks, and moves his grasp from George’s dick to his left hand. George’s eyebrows furrow, but Dream acts quickly, pulling George’s palm towards him and spitting a heavy glob of saliva smack dab in the centre.

Deliberately, he puts George’s hand in position at the base of his cock, swollen red and dripping with precome. Dream covers George’s hand with his own, and when George shudders, nodding eagerly, Dream knows he’s caught on. In tandem, they jerk George off together, and Dream feels something animalistic crawling up his spine at the filthy image they’ve created.

Like this, Dream’s hand envelopes George’s entirely, fingers intertwining as they find a clumsy rhythm, the head of George’s cock twitching while George flings his free arm over his face, hips pulsing erratically.

But that won’t do. “Let me look at you, baby,” Dream rasps. “Wanna see you when you come, c’mon. God, you’re gonna look so fucking hot.”

George obliges, albeit reluctantly, and Dream shivers — George’s eyes are enormous, his lips parted and his breathing ragged. A thought crosses Dream’s mind: it’s unbelievably erotic, and definitely a little creepy, but Dream thinks he could come to the sight of that expression on George’s face alone.

When George’s orgasm hits, it takes Dream by surprise. There’s no warning, just a quick, puppet-string cant of his head to the side, a low, trembling exhale of a moan, and then George is coming, stomach curving up and his free hand clutching tightly at the bedsheets.

Slowly, Dream unclenches his hand from around George’s, wrinkling his nose at the mess. If they’re planning on sleeping in this bed tonight — and then Dream pauses, a tendril of self-doubt snarling into his gut. What if George is expecting Dream to go back to his room?

“We should uh, clean up,” he says, flexing his fingers. Unbidden, he thinks about what George did earlier — the opportunity to lick, to taste, is right there, but Dream settles for reaching around blindly till he finds George’s discarded shirt, using it as a makeshift rag.

George settles himself into the crease of the pillows, comfortable as anything. “Okay,” he agrees sweetly. And then doesn’t move a muscle.

Dream scoffs. “You just make me do everything, huh,” he teases, wiping down George’s stomach. He’s cautious, suddenly — with the hot-heady-frantic adrenaline of the past twenty minutes now drained from his bones, his fingers feel too big, too clumsy, and he scrubs at George’s skin with a fussy, gentle touch.

This — all of this, is so new. And it snags around Dream’s heart, the overwhelming newness of it. Like a snowglobe, too precious to disturb, terrifyingly delicate but wonderful all the same. Something Dream wants to cherish. Something he wants to be careful with.

Realising he’s been rubbing at the same spot of George’s abdomen for the past thirty seconds, he drops his hand awkwardly. He looks up — George is gazing, catlike, at him, all hooded dark eyes and loose, sated limbs. Dream swallows.

George cocks a brow. “Well, are you coming here, or not?” Petulant, fond, curious.

Dream scrambles ungainly up the bed, pulling the duvet out from under George’s legs and trying his hardest to ignore his mind running top-speed, trying to memorise every fragment of George he got today: the snap of his teeth sinking into Dream’s shoulder, the weight and shape of him in Dream’s palm, the mole on the inside of his left thigh, the way his toes had curled when he’d come, messily, over their shared hands.

And now they’re lying in bed together, side by side, still flushed with exertion, and a future of what-ifs ahead of them.

“I can hear you thinking,” George says, dryly.

“I’m always thinking.”

“About what?”

Dream prods his teeth with his tongue. He and George share — everything. They’d had a conversation, once, about trust and secrets and how each of them could lay anything bare in front of the other and know it would be okay. But he’d never anticipated this. And it terrifies him.

“Dream.” George says patiently, voice soft in the quiet nighttime air between them. “Come on. What’s on your mind?”

“It’s, uh. Some deja vu,” Dream admits.

“Yeah?”

“Like, I don’t know,” Dream says, pushing himself up on an elbow so he can look at George’s face. Moonlight has painted George in silver, and he’s ethereal like this, all mussed hair and kiss-bruised lips.

Dream clears his throat.

“It’s weird,” he mutters, self-conscious. The depths of his want still leave him staggering, sometimes. He’s scared — Dream could never live with himself if he made a wrong move, if he pushed George away because he couldn’t keep a lid on his feelings, if he misstepped, somehow, somewhere, and blew this whole thing apart.

“You’re weird,” George says, poking his stomach. “So?”

“Thanks.” But the easy comment leaves Dream a little lighter. “I don’t know, I was just thinking. About us.”

“Obviously.”

“Yeah, well. I was. And it just feels so… ugh, okay, maybe this is just me. And this is going to sound so cheesy, so don’t — don’t make fun of me. I’m serious.”

“Go on,” George says, all traces of sarcasm gone. A half-smile plays at his lips.

“Okay, so. I was just — wondering,” Dream blurts. “Doesn’t this just feel so right? And I don’t mean that in some stupid shipping way — I mean you and me. Dream and George. It just feels like we’ve done this before. Like in some past life — like we were always meant to find each other, or something.”

Dream ducks his head, flushing. He hadn’t meant to say that last part — it had pushed past his lips, insistent, a truth that wouldn’t be silenced.

There’s a long moment of silence, and Dream’s heartbeat starts to stutter. Idiot, his brain tells him viciously. You’ve jerked off with him, that’s all. Why are you spouting all this soulmates crap? You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

Then he hears a muffled sniffle, and he jerks his head up. George is… George is crying. Or at least trying to stop himself from crying, Dream pieces together from the way George is rubbing desperately at his eyes, biting his lip so hard Dream winces.

“George,” he breathes, pulling his hands away from his face gently. “George, what’s wrong?”

George gulps, eyes rimmed with a watery red. Dream thinks he’s never looked more beautiful.

“I don’t even know,” he says plaintively, mouth curving into an adorable pout. “I’m an idiot. The stuff you said — you’re just good with your words, better than I am, and I want —” he gestures at himself, helplessly, “I want to say that kind of stuff to you, too. I feel at home with you.”

Dream’s breath stops on its way up his throat. I feel at home with you — it echoes in his head, a mantra, a reassurance that he isn’t alone in this.

For once, words fail him.

So he acts instead. Takes George’s face in his palms, tilts him up and kisses the tears from his eyelashes. Salt stings his lips, but George is pliant under him, and Dream kisses him and kisses him and kisses him; moves from eyelids to forehead to the apples of his cheeks and finally to his mouth.

Almost urgently, George’s tongue slides into his mouth, and Dream clutches at the curve of his back, blunt nails against flesh, trying to convey everything he wants to say with this. It’s not as frenzied as their earlier kisses, but deeper, slower — like George is trying to beg for stability in Dream’s lips, like Dream is trying to tell him all the ways he can have it.

“I’m going to get snot in your mouth,” George says mournfully at some point, and Dream can’t help it: he laughs, pulling back to pepper kisses across the bridge of George’s nose.

“You can get snot wherever you want,” he tells him. “I’ll wipe it from your nostrils with my bare fingers if I have to.”

“You are actually so gross.” George rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling, hopeful and breathless and beautiful.

“Yeah, um, I was lying. Where are your tissues?”

“Right — here!” George says, giggling, darting his head forward in an attempt to rub his nose against Dream’s face.

“George, you freak, use this!” Dream yelps, scooping George’s T-shirt up with his foot and shoving it at George’s chest.

George uses the corner to rub his nose, then pushes it back into Dream’s hands with a grimace. “There’s just…so many fluids embedded into that, now.”

“Yeah, you’re gonna want to toss it.” And Dream does just that, balling it up and chucking it across the room.

“Thank you,” George says, and the solemnity of it lets them both know he’s not just talking about the T-shirt.

“Always.” Dream shifts, pulling George closer to him. As natural as breathing, George snuggles up to him, resting an arm across Dream’s waist, his hand curling idly on the swell of Dream’s bicep.

“Goodnight,” George murmurs, whisper-soft. Dream nuzzles into his hair.

“Goodnight, George.”