"Oh he looks quite good in the uniform."
"They call it a kit, Mom," Dream tells her. "Football kit."
"Well whatever they call it, he looks quite good."
"He looks tiny," Drista says from her place on the floor. Dream doesn't know why she insists on sitting down there instead of one of the many couches in his very large new living room.
The furniture all feels new, the house feels new. It's been here for a while, of course, but Dream has moved into it now and although the shine has not yet worn off the surfaces, it feels more like home now that he knows George will be here so very soon.
Dream turns back to the television where George himself is walking across a manicured green soccer pitch. Football pitch. Whatever.
"He's not that small," Dream says. "But I guess the kit looks… alright."
Drista knows too much for her own good so she pulls a face at him. Luckily, his mom doesn't seem to notice.
"Is he good at soccer?" his mom asks.
"I don't know," Dream says, honestly. "He told me he can play. I think he used to do it at school or something? I guess we'll find out."
They do find out over the next couple of hours. Dream's family always come round for the college football games so when they'd heard George would be playing in the Sidemen charity match they insisted they come over early to watch that as well.
They love him already and he isn't even here.
Dream hopes it stays that way. He likes the idea, of them supporting George, of George belonging to their traditions, of all of them - including Dream - taking care of him once he is so far away from his own family.
One day soon George will be here for game day. He'll eat the wings his mom makes and bicker with Drista over the rules - once he's learned them properly of course - and Dream will induct him into the areas of his life he's been unable to join thus far.
Until then, George gets to be apart of their day like this:
They cheer when he's subbed in, following his lime green boots across the turf as he jogs on. He looks a little out of place at first and Dream can't help but feel nervous for him.
"Are those Dream green cleats?" Drista says.
Dream throws a cushion at her. "Dumb," he says. "They're just shoes. Karl has the same ones, see?"
Sure enough, Karl jogs by on screen in matching green shoes.
"Whatever," Drista says. "He runs funny."
Drista just likes to be contrary, so Dream lets it go.
They hoot and holler as George runs around the pitch, making the same encouraging sounds they use for cheering on their usual teams.
His mom throws a hand in the air when George successfully tackles the ball away from KSI, and Drista laughs raucously when George trips and falls on his back.
Air is caught in the back of Dream's throat, choking him for half a second before he sees George roll over and stand back up. George is fine, and suddenly Dream can breathe again.
"Oops," he mom laughs. "Fumbled that one."
"I don't think they call it a fumble," Dream says, almost off hand. His eyes are stuck to the screen, looking out for signs of George.
"Well I don't know," his mom replies. Then, after a moment. "He's doing quite well."
Something about the way she says it makes Dream want to avoid responding.
It isn't a secret - his fondness. The way he's been waiting for George. Maybe once upon a time his family didn't know what to do with it, but it's been long enough and Dream has put enough of his thoughts on the matter out online for them to have come around to wherever it is they've landed on the matter.
Dream tries not to talk about it with them if he can. Drista would mock him mercilessly and his mom… well, she'd have something to say and Dream isn't sure he wants to find out exactly what.
Maybe when George is here.
At the end, when George's team has lost by one goal, Dream pulls out his phone.
Good game, he texts. You played pretty well.
To his delight, Dream watches George leave the pitch as the camera catches the moment George texts him back. There must be a delay because Dream's phone vibrates before the George on screen has put his phone down.
pretty well? I was epic
Dream laughs, types out a reply, and looks up to see his mom looking at him.
"I should grab the wings," Dream says. "Penn State game starts in a few minutes."
He makes a hasty escape, navigating the new kitchen with the bigger refrigerator than the last place. There will be three of them now, they could use the space.
He's taking the foil off the wings when his mom comes to find him. He kind of knew she would, really.
"You don't want to save those until the Sooners game?" she asks.
Dream shakes his head. "There's enough to last."
His mom doesn't argue, just makes her way around the island and busies herself with sweeping up crumbs that are invisible to Dream's eyes.
"He played well, your George. Better than I thought."
"My George?" Dream says. He regrets it as soon as it's out of his mouth.
His mom gives him a tight-lipped smirk. "Are you excited for him to come home?"
Dream chuckles. It fills his chest with something warm to hear his mom say home. It's nice to know other people see it that way. This is George's home. He's coming home.
"It's been a long time coming," Dream says.
"Too bad he had to work and couldn't come as soon as the visa came through. I know that's what you had planned."
"It was a good opportunity," Dream says. "We talked about it and agreed he should do it."
His mom's smile gets a bit bigger and Dream wonders what it is about today that means he's sharing more than he usually would.
She takes the platter of wings from his hands. "It's good that you talk like that," she says, knowingly. "Communication is important."
Dream scoffs. "You say that like—"
Dream taps a knuckle on the marble countertop. "I dunno. Like… like we're— I dunno."
"Clay," his mom says. "Aren't you?"
His heart is hammering in his chest. It's just his mom, holding a plate of wings on game day the way she's done hundreds of times before, but George had played football, and they'd all watched like it was a family affair, and now she's asking just how true that is.
"I…" he takes a breath. It's one thing to imply it on the internet, for millions of strangers to think a thing but not really know it. It's another for his mom to ask him about it in the middle of the kitchen. "Maybe."
"Communication," she repeats. "That's the key."
Dream wants to tell her about all the half-conversations. The ones where George whispers "when I get there" and Dream feels like he might explode with the hope of it. He wants to tell her that they've talked and talked but never really decided because how can they with five thousand miles and a year of uncertainty between them. They've communicated all they can through the crackle of an internet connection - All that's left now is to finish it in person.
"Yeah," Dream says. "I think we'll… yeah."
His mom balances the wings on one hand and reaches out to him with the other. Her fingers squeeze his bicep briefly, and Dream feels a fizz of… relief? happiness? something make its way through him.
He wants to say thank you for being cool about it, or maybe let her know how much it means to him that she hadn't reacted as badly as he might have once expected her to, but he's saved from it by Drista barging in.
"What are you doing?" she says. "The game's starting. Also your phone is buzzing a lot. I looked at it. It's George."
Dream reaches out and takes his phone from her outstretched hand. "Ever heard of privacy?" he asks her.
"I dunno," she shoots back. "Ever heard of not being codependent with your bestie? Dude couldn't wait five minutes for a reply."
"Shut up," he says.
"You shut up."
His mom rolls her eyes. "Both of you shut up. Come on, let's go watch the game."
They file back into the living room and Dream replies to the many texts on his phone with something dumb, something sarcastic, and then something genuine in that order.
It feels good, their tradition of gathering on game days, and it's only going to get better. Game day today is him, his mom, and Drista. Next time it'll include his best friend and his George alongside. One family, one game day, one whole new life starting. So regardless of the outcome of the games, Dream will feel like he won.