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the common tongue of your loving me

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In Dream’s room there is a little wooden treasure chest, a fan-given antique that he fell in love with at first glance. It sits on his nightstand, some odd rustic decor which doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of his room. He once kept gifts in there: bracelets, figurines, key chains, coins, the like.

After George moves, this changes.

He empties it, and restarts.

The first thing he places inside it is a rock from George. He hands it over as they’re unpacking his suitcase, with Dream sitting on the floor by George’s bed, cross-legged and wide-eyed as an oval-shaped object is pressed into Dream’s hand. His fingers close around it protectively, as if afraid a mild breeze could harm it.

He hasn’t gotten a proper look at it, though. Hand opening like a third eye, he proceeds to inspect. A greyish blue stone sits there. It shines in the fluorescent lighting of George’s room, glittering like stardust.

“A rock?” Dream asks, and perhaps others would not understand, might ask that same question in a mocking tone. Sounding as if they’re insead saying, you’re giving me a rock of all things? But Dream is not them. Dream is George’s best friend, and he understands. He knows how deeply George values mundane things.

George clears his throat, pulling the sleeves of his hoodie half-over his hands. The air conditioning blasts in the room, and Dream would apologize for it, but the sweater paws are so cute he’s almost glad he has it this high.

“It’s — so, d’you remember how I moved back to my mum’s?”

Dream turns the stone over in his hand, feeling out the rigid and smooth edges. “Course.”

“I found this,” George says, not quite meeting his eye, “in a box in my room. Think I’d saved it from our garden a while back.”

“Yeah?”

“I just wanted to give you something,” George tells him. He stops for a moment, breath catching audibly, and Dream stares. “A piece from — before. When we first met.”

From the garden at his family home. A piece of George, the old him, the first him in his first home, where they’d met and it all began, and it’s sitting in the palm of his hand.

Like transference of property, the old to the new. George gives himself over.

“Thank you, George,” Dream says, so tender that anyone could pierce through his voice with ease. And George looks at him, hearing that, and smiles in relief, knowing that Dream gets it. “I love it. It’s perfect.”

When he runs a finger along it again, it feels like new beginnings.

 

 

A hug is their first touch, and Dream had been expecting that. When it happens, the surprise is the elation that consumes him, full-bodied and near violent. It is strikingly novel, but he can get used to it — not just getting to hug George, but this feeling of being happy. Of happiness, for Dream. Of freedom.

He’s never felt this before, but he reckons he’s in for a lot of moments like this one. The idea comforts him, how this is the first touch of countless others, of thousands more. Two entire lifetimes worth.

It comes at dawn, as the orange of sunrise has begun to melt into the sky, tainting the night like ink to parchment. This is an hour they are all too familiar with, and that is exactly why he’d chosen it for George’s arrival; it is an hour when normal people are known to sleep, but Dream and George have never been normal people. They’ve always just been Dream and George, two natural-born innovators of their own special kind of normal. Time has always mattered nothing to them, while they mattered everything to each other.

He’s tired. He has been tired from waiting for so long, and that is not about the days he’s spent on his feet in the new house, preparing for today, but rather the weeks, months, years of painstaking patience. It’s exhausting being patient, and Dream has come to learn that the past few months. But that is over, and there’s no longer anything to wait on.

George is with him.

Everything begins now; everything begins new; everything begins again. Tiredness has never felt so insignificant now that they’re together, and Dream can think to himself what he’s longed to say for years — one singular, precious, simple word:

Finally.

 

 

TwitchCon ends up being exciting. Fun, fast-paced and filled with seeing the friends he’s cherished for a long time, but toward the tail-end of the trip, one feeling lingers: he’s overwhelmed.

No one at this party is paying him attention, thankfully — the entire weekend has been filled with a lot of eyes on him, and look, Dream will be the first to admit that he loves attention. It’s just gotten to the point of being a lot. Erring on too much, maybe. His guard had gone up, but now, a handful of friends, all who Dream trusts — Sapnap, Quackity, Karl, Foolish, Tina — have followed them into this backroom. He relaxes, the anxious feeling inside easing.

It’s been less than two weeks of them meeting, but George has taken it upon himself to sit in Dream’s lap to kiss him. Any sense of boundaries between them had dissipated within the first 24 hours; and now, they’re inseparable. The issue is that they’ve been swarmed all weekend, so they can’t act the same as they do at home: like clingy octopi who’ve suctioned themselves along each other. No, at TwitchCon there needs to be at least some sense of space. Natural gravitational energy simmers between him and George, and it’s been difficult not being themselves. Right here, though, they’re safe. Solely around by friends, no fans to be seen.

“You two are disgusting,” he hears Quackity tell them.

The first thing he sees when he opens his eyes after pulling away is George’s face, pouting kind of adorably over Dream breaking free from the kiss. It makes Dream want to kiss him again.

Turning to Quackity, he notes how he hadn’t looked away while they kissed; in fact, he seems unbothered, much unlike Sapnap who’d gone wide-eyed and slightly awkward the first time they’d done that in front of him. It had been kind of amusing — afterward, Sapnap had shoved his shoulder at the breakfast table good-naturedly, which Dream had taken as his particular way of showing support. Sapnap and George could both be like that; certain things aren’t discussed outright, but rather shown with action.

Quackity isn’t them, though. He’s louder about his teasing, his own way of showing support.

“You’re the one watching,” Dream shoots back, arm settling around George’s waist.

Quackity’s voice is grave when he replies. “Some shit is so horrifying you can’t bear to look away.”

Dream can’t suppress the smile pulling at his lips — he’s too happy to be around all of his friends, and he can take a joke.

“So you’re homophobic?” George asks. He zeroes in like a shark, pointing accusingly. “You’re homophobic, you’re literally homophobic.”

“Is that really how you want to play this, pal?” Quackity says, before he gets this unnerving glint in his eye. “Need I remind you when I went to fucking England and we were at the mall — ”

George screams, cutting Quackity off; Dream winces. That is way too close to his ear.

“That’s what I fucking thought!” Dream hears Quackity shout beneath George’s nonsensical gibberish sounds and screams, still attempting to drown out Quackity’s story. His reaction only makes Dream all the more curious.

“Whatever, whatever, you still called us disgusting — ”

“I was joking, jackass — ”

“ — like, that’s hurtful, Quackity, I’m hurt — ”

“ — oh, boo-fucking-who — ”

“ — so insensitive, I can’t believe you’d say — ”

“ — oh my fucking — I don’t give a shit, be who you are, make out for all I care — ”

“ — maybe we will!”

“ — actually, fuck in front me if you want!”

Wait. “What?” Dream cuts in, amused by the suggestion.

Two quiet beats of George and Quackity staring at each other, George’s lip twitching, and Quackity clearly regretting giving into his intrusive thoughts. Then: “Okay, that was just weird,” George replies, infinitely calmer now that he can effectively weirdchamp him to win this fight.

Quackity sighs exasperatedly. “Can’t you take a joke, buddy? It was a joke, Jesus Christ.”

“Yeah, a fucking weird one.”

Before this gets out of hand again, Dream says, “We can stop if you want, Alex.”

“What? Bro, no way, I was joking,” Quackity says, and now he sounds sincere, Dream’s favourite version of Quackity — though he loves the jokester version of him too. He’s adjusting the beanie on his head, eyes flickering between them when he says quieter, “You know I love you both. I’m happy for you.”

Oh, that’s nice. Dream smiles wider at that, blush rising to his cheeks. He tugs George closer, resting his cheek plush to his shoulder, and George begins to pet his hair. Quackity smiles, watching this.

“We know, dude,” he replies, equally as genuine, at the same moment that George says drily, “Well, we don’t love you.”

We, Dream hears.

They have been doing that a lot, referring to themselves as a collective ‘we’. They’d done it online a lot before, but it’s so different hearing it in person. The intention feels more significant.

Quackity scoffs at George. “Asshole,” he snarks, before smacking him. George’s mouth drops open with offence, and he hits back. They begin to play-fight for much too long, which unfortunately attracts more attention than Dream had wanted. He’d guided them to the backroom for a reason, but George has never been one to use an inside voice when he gets fired up, much less at a party.

He ends up having to drag George to a vending machine to cool down and buy a bottle of water. Not that it had been serious in any way; Quackity and George just bring out this obscure energy in each other. When it’s just Dream around, George remains much softer, though they love their own back-and-forth, there’s always this air of quiet fondness between them. Around the other boys, George tends to get rambunctious. Loud and erratic and menacing. Dream loves both parts of him, but again, his favourite George is the one meant only for him. It’s more special that way.

“Hey,” George says when they’re no longer in listening distance, greeting him like they’ve been apart at all. A few meters away, he can hear Sapnap threatening to kick Karl’s ass at flip cup. “You good?”

“Mm,” Dream mumbles, taking a drink. He’s suddenly so thirsty. “Tired.”

He’s more than tired really, he’s not even sure if tired is the correct word for it. Dream hadn’t realized how much internal energy this trip would take from him. Or, well, he did kind of expect it, but the social battery that has been required of him to get through this weekend has so much more than he’s used to and more than anything, he’s at a point where he wishes he could be at home in Florida, in bed cuddled with George, Patches at their feet purring. Quiet peacefulness. Maybe TwitchCon had been too much, too soon. It’s been incredible, don’t get him wrong, and he doesn’t regret coming, but it’s also been draining.

George is eyeing him with a considering look. With a final exhale, Dream lets his guard fall, letting George see how the days have worn on him — and George takes his hand, hidden from view of the others.

“Wanna go back to the hotel?” George offers, though he doesn’t seem nearly as tired as he does. Dream sees it for what it is: George telling Dream he can tell he’s reached his limit of social interaction, offering his quiet company in hand.

“I don’t wanna be — I dunno, a fun-ruiner.”

George snorts. “They’re having plenty fun without us. We can leave.”

Truthfully, Dream wants to say yes, but he doesn’t want the others to call him lame. This is their first weekend out together and he’s retiring to bed early on the last night? Sure, he’ll see them tomorrow, but it feels like a dick move.

George looks at him as if he can read his mind. Dream wonders if he can, honestly — sometimes he thinks he just might be able to — and then George smirks, raising a suggestive eyebrow. “I can tell them we’re gonna have sex.”

George,” Dream laughs, embarrassed by the suggestion. Not that the others don’t know they’re together; they do, they’ve heard their teasing for a long time.

“What?” George shrugs, casually. “You’re having sex with a Sex Haver. You’re practically an honorary member, that’s like BODMAS.”

“The fuck is BODMAS?” Dream asks. “Isn’t it PEMDAS?”

“What?” George scoffs. “No, it’s BODMAS. What?”

“No, it’s not,” Dream retorts, to be difficult.

“Oh, my — I am not arguing with — stupid Americans. Whatever! Listen. Listen, should I do it? C’mon, it’d be epic.”

Dream thinks on it. It would be pretty funny…“Y’know what? Do it.”

“What?” George says, like he didn’t expect that. He’s shocked and delighted. “Did you take a drink tonight, too?”

“Nope,” Dream pops the ‘p’, grinning at the pleased look on George’s face. He put that there. “But we should totally do it. Just sayin’.”

George stares at Dream, then without looking away, announces to the others across the room: “Dream and I are gonna fuck, bye!”

Immediate gagging sounds — either Sapnap or Quackity. “No one was shocked,” they hear Karl deadpan, at the same time Foolish says, “Woah!”

Wrapping his arms around Dream’s midsection, George coos, “Let’s go, baby’s tired.”

“Hmm,” Dream says, amused by this. He’s smiling, softer — he loves this voice George uses on him. “Am I baby? I thought we were gonna fuck.”

“You love being baby,” George accuses, knowing him so well, so soon, but Dream knows George too — he loves being baby, too. Whatever baby might be. It’s an aura, or something. “And, well. We can just jerk off in the shower.”

“Romantic,” Dream says drily, like he doesn’t mean it. It is romantic, in a way — the two of them shutting everyone out to sleepily get each other off in a night shower feels incredibly domestic for them. Especially considering that they’ve only been together for a little over a week.

But he and George have never been particularly grandiose people. For them, it’s always the little things.

George sighs. “Just wanna be alone with you,” he admits, and Dream melts.

“Okay,” he breathes. He kisses his temple. “Me too, George. Let’s go.”

The night ends quietly. No regrets.

 

 

The first birthday spent together in person is grander than they tend to be, but Dream enjoys making these gestures.

Dream opens his eyes to George already awake, kissing his neck and begging for breakfast in bed.

“I was going to,” Dream says, so indulgent and in love, “why’d you wake up before me, hm? It’s seven A.M..”

Dream,” George whines. “It’s my birthday. I want food.”

Dream sighs. Kisses his nose. “I’ll be back.”

Once they’re both fed and satiated, Dream begins to wonder when he should give George his present. Ultimately, he cons George into watching a movie with him in the afternoon, as if the gift isn’t in standing upright in the entertainment room itself.

When George enters, he zeroes in on it instantly, halting in shock.

“Dream, you didn’t,” George says, staring.

He did. He did do it, mostly just to see the shocked look on George’s face. It had been expensive, and truly ridiculous to even have done, but Dream is a ridiculous person, armed with a lot of money and even more love for his favourite person. And while they don’t tend to do gifts like this, Dream had wanted to do something special for George, knowing it was going to be his first birthday they spent together.

There, in the corner, stands a tall, hyper realistic wax figure of GeorgeNotFound’s DreamSMP character — a humanized version of his royal self.

King George.

Dream hopes he likes it. George walks closer, staring with wide eyes of amazement.

“This is — what the fuck. This is insane, Dream.”

“You like?” Dream asks, fishing. Though it’s creepy looking, it’s also kind of amazing.

“It’s incredible,” George says, too shocked to even muster sarcasm. It comes out sincere, and stunned, and impressed. “I can’t believe you did this.”

“It’s kinda creepy,” Dream admits. It’s not so terrible, compared to other celebrity wax figures, but it’s still a wax figure. Naturally, there will be an air of creepiness. And Dream had thought it would be less creepy to make it a character, rather than the actual real George.

Dream,” George says again, out of nowhere, now sounding a little distressed. “This is expensive. It is, isn’t it? I remember when I brought it up — I was joking — ”

“That’s a rude question to ask when receiving a gift, George,” he admonishes, though he’s teasing. “Learn your manners.”

George scoffs, laughing. “Your money is my money.”

We belong to each other, is what that means. Everything we own is each other’s, and we own each other, so we are each other’s, too.

“I see the books,” George continues looking between Dream and the wax figure from the corner of his eye. “In fact, I’ll probably do your taxes this year.”

“Oh, yeah?” Dream asks. They’ve only been together for a month, and though George had sent him his tax templates last year, Dream had still done most of the stuff on his own.

“Of course,” George says easily, like it’s no big deal. “I’ll handle the money, darling.”

The pet name is said mostly as a joke — but it makes Dream go red, holy shit. He likes that one.

George wraps his arm around Dream’s waist, leaning up to kiss him beneath his jaw. “I love it,” he whispers, like if he says it louder Dream will suddenly make fun of him for being sweet about it. Like Dream hadn’t done it just to get George reduced to speechlessness. “You didn’t have to do this, I — ”

He stops speaking, words caught in his throat. As if he might cry if he says more.

Dream loves him like this. “I love you,” he replies, thinking of how this is the first birthday of many more.

Another kiss is pressed to his cheek, and Dream tightens his arms around George’s shoulders, suddenly overcome with the urge to squeeze him so hard he feels how much Dream loves him.

When they look at each other, their eyes are both glistening. They both know, Dream realizes. As it should be.

 

 

You’re cute when you sleep, his note says on one side, a little odd-shaped heart next to it. It’s short and simple on its own, but Dream has always loved to talk, so the other side says more, an entire little paragraph written from Dream’s heart, He’d had it in his head the moment he woke up and had taken the time to gaze at George’s lax, resting face. It says: Last night you kept going on in your sleep, all this gibberish, but you said ‘I love you’ in the middle. Wish I had that on recording. I said it back but you didn’t hear, which made me kinda sad. Just because I want you to know that I do. Each time you say it, I want you to know. It’s mutual. I sometimes feel like we were meant to be, like it was fate meeting you. I felt that before we’d met, but I know it for sure now. You were meant for me. If you believe in that sort of thing. So yeah. I like when you’re all tired, you admit things easier. It’s really cute. You’re really cute. I love you so much, George.

“I’m keeping this,” George tells him in the intermittent space between their kisses. “Gonna put it up on my mini fridge with a DNF magnet.”

“Well,” Dream says, before he kisses George again, softly. Then again. And again, relishing in the plush of George’s lips. Before he remembers he didn’t finish his thought. “It was for you, technically. Of course you can keep it, George.” And display it, if you so please.

George smiles unconsciously at this, before catching himself and schooling his face. “You don’t care if someone sees it and calls you a simp?”

He thinks about this for a moment. Then kisses George again, gently. “Nah. It’s the truth.”

When he pulls away, George seems satisfied with that answer. He nuzzles their noses together. “Dream,” George says, dragging his name out melodically.

“Mm?”

Singing, George goes: “Dream, Dream, Dream.”

Hugging him tightly, Dream asks, “What is it?”

“Dunno,” George says quietly. His eyes stare up at him like a black hole: large, dark, wondrous. “Just love you.”

“Oh,” Dream replies, warm and fuzzy and lightheaded. “Love you, too.”

He does. The note doesn’t even begin to express it, not even a sliver of as much as he wishes it could.

 

 

They watch the vlog footage together in Dream’s office, two days after they’ve had time alone to themselves. He tunnels in on George, hearing his rambling to the camera, taking in the darting eyes, the pre-flight jitters, the way his voice shakes in some clips. Listening to this, he cannot help but kiss George’s shoulder through the thin of his shirt; it almost feels like pressing his lips to skin. He wants to reassure the version of George recorded here, to promise him that all works out and he arrives safely, to go back in time and hug him, kiss him, let him know that he has no need to feel so anxious.

“You seemed so nervous,” Dream eventually comments, gentle in tone.

George reaches over to pause the current clip. “Do I?” he asks, seeming thrown. As if he didn’t expect it to be so obvious.

“Not too nervous, but — I mean,” Dream rushes to reassure, “I don’t know if anyone else would notice in this part, unless they know you super well. I just noticed because I’m me.”

A short laugh, fond and amused. “Because you’re you,” he repeats softly, staring at the reflection of this version of himself in the monitor. He turns to Dream, peering at him carefully, then admits: “Guess I was nervous.” Almost admitting his truth too easily, too quickly. Then, with more confidence, “I was nervous, Dream. Weren’t you?”

“Yes,” Dream says immediately, despite months of insisting he’d be the opposite. He’d told everyone for so long that he didn’t care, but he cared so much, too much, all the time. So much that it ate away at him. He’d almost thrown up before meeting George, purely out of nerves. “I was really fucking nervous, George.”

George is looking at him, nodding like he already knew that. “It’s just… this has been a big deal, hasn’t it?”

Dream rests his head on George’s shoulder. “Yes.”

He continues, “We’d been waiting years.”

“And now we’re together,” Dream says. And thinks:

“And in person,” George finishes, with a lopsided grin.

Dream grins with him, pleased. “You know me so well.”

“Mm,” George says, bright eyes. “Of course I do. You’re Dream and I’m George.”

He wants to sigh, happily. “Yes, we are.”

“And because I’m George, and you’re Dream, how about — ”

“No, George,” he says, before George even finishes the suggestion.

“ — you edit this for me?” George pouts, looking Dream in the eyes, so close they are both going cross-eyed.

Dream doesn’t move away, instead meets his eyes head-on when he says, “I am not editing your vlog, George.”

“Why not?” he whines.

Dream is not going to go on a rant about George needing to take responsibility for his own things. He’s not.

Please, Dream?” George gives him liquid, syrupy eyes.

Dream will not wilt. He won’t give in. He will stand his ground. He is a strong, independent woman — or whatever the saying is.

A few seconds pass, and George sighs. He’s looking at Dream differently now, like he has something important he wants to say. Dream is a little scared to listen, having been subject to George’s persuasive powers on too many occasions.

“Hear me out,” George begins. He seems nervous suddenly, similar to the array of pre-move videos Dream had just been watching, and doesn’t look Dream in the eye when he admits it. “This is… massive. It’s my first vlog, alright? And you are an amazing editor, Dream. You’re better than me, we both know it.” Dream wills himself to stay strong, to not fall for George buttering him up. “And I’m not saying I want you to do all of it! I just want you to, like, help me with it? We can collaborate. This is one of the biggest videos of our careers. It’s us meeting. People have been waiting for this for years. We —” he cuts off, then restarts. “It’s just. Really important to me to get this right. We’re gonna rewatch it forever, so I need it to be perfect, and I only trust me and you to get it to be perfect, because only me and you have experienced this whole” — he waves his hands about nonsensically — “waiting period, or whatever. And — it just should be something we do together, you know? The both of us. Don’t you think?”

Fuck.

Okay, Dream might be whipped, but can you blame him when George says things like that?

He stays silent for a little longer, as if considering it. He already knows what he’s going to say.

“Dream,” George whispers, and he looks Dream in the eye — and in those eyes, Dream sees nothing but hope. Their noses brush. “Please?”

Alright, he was already convinced, but that seals it. George is good. Dream needs to learn how to be better for next time. But maybe this will be the last time. A final battle they serve together.

Dream edits the video.

 

 

“You’re such a man,” Dream tells George one night. He hasn’t shaved in four days, and his stubble is so much more prominent. His nose runs along George’s jawline, feeling the growth. He laughs under Dream, arms snaking around the middle, under Dream’s shirt.

“Of course I’m a man,” George says to him, like Dream has made a joke. “As opposed to?”

“Just meant I like it,” Dream admits, still nosing at his throat which hasn’t been touched, either. “How much of a man you are.”

He feels George’s face expand into a smile above him, like he knows what Dream means.

“Thought I was gonna massage you,” George says instead of answering. “You’re just here feeling me up. I was supposed to be feeling you up.”

“Ugh,” Dream complains, as if he isn’t being given something very kind. “You just wanna grope me.”

George snorts. “I wanted to help. You came home complaining about back aches like an old man.”

“I’m tired, George,” he whines. He gets whiny when he’s been wired into work all day. “I wanted to kiss my loving boyfriend, who so graciously offered a massage after I’d been out all day. Sorry for getting distracted.”

“Better be sorry,” George mutters, but Dream knows he is joking when he flips Dream over, facedown on the mattress and settles above him to work at his back.

George rolls out the knots in his shoulders, the same way he’d kneaded dough when they made pizza from scratch weeks ago. It’s better this way, when things are done with their hands, with effort. A labour of love. The same goes for a massage — it is not only good because it feels good, but because George has taken him by his shoulders and pressed into him like Play-Doh, working through his muscles until he’s empty of tension. It’s a show of love, and Dream feels it. He feels loved.

When he’s done, he’s malleable, barely able to turn over to kiss George. Instead, George settles on top of him, his entire front laying lengthy along Dream’s back, aligned head-to-toe. The position is weighty, but comfortable — George wiggles his hands between Dream’s stomach and the bed, head moving to hide in the burrow of Dream’s neck. Licks his throat until Dream squirms, laughing as George giggles, too.

Still muffled into the pillows, he says, “Thank you, baby.”

“Missed you all day,” is all George says in reply, breath damp and muffled into Dream’s skin. It makes his heart constrict.

He turns his head so he can see George clearer. George is there looking, not hiding, eyes dark and attentive, and the expression on his face is somber that Dream wants to kiss everywhere on his precious face to make him smile again. “Sweetheart,” Dream breathes, not knowing what else to say. Truth is, he missed him, too, but he’d only been at the merch warehouse. He hadn’t thought George would enjoy that, but maybe he’d misread. “Next time come with me?”

A smile. Fixed, easy. “Okay,” George replies, and he kisses Dream’s chin. And so it is done.

 

 

At their first Pride, George kisses him in front of everyone. It feels different from the other times they’ve kissed, even in public — months ago, they’d come out together, announcing their relationship to the world. It went precisely as expected; those suggesting they’re faking it for attention, calling it a marketing ploy, but nonetheless, loud support from fans, and congratulations from the people that matter. Things that make it worth it. Going to Pride had been a last minute decision for them; it’s time, Dream had thought to himself then, and is still thinking now, as he kisses him so openly.

There’s been so much Dream had to overcome to get where he is. Nights of distress, accusations that he lies about who he loves, people trying to tell him he’s someone he’s not. Panic attacks, repression, hiding feelings, public episodes scrambling to prove he was being sincere when in reality, no one cared. All of the ugly that makes this moment feel like he’s come out of it all, triumphant.

Let them see, he thinks. He wants them to. This is how far he’s come. This is where he is now.

Validated. In love. Loved back. Proud of who he is.

Queer, despite those telling him otherwise.

Fuck them.

It’s real. Screw what other people think; this is so fucking real that Dream can feel it pounding against his ribs, loud and relentless. This is a love that nothing can blemish.

He kisses George. Knowing that all the hurt has made it more real. Knowing that with him, he is safe.

 

 

“Hey, handsome,” George says, eyeing Dream when he gets back from the restroom. Taking place in his seat across from George, he adjusts his bowtie. They’re at an upscale sushi restaurant; their first real fancy date. He feels like an adult. Sometimes he still fears he’s a kid with too much money, but tonight he feels like a man.

“Hey,” Dream replies when he’s settled, smiling. “Fancy seeing you here.”

George grins at this. “As if we didn’t arrive together.”

“You’re the one that said hi as if we hadn’t seen each other,” Dream says, laughing. He takes a sip of his wineglass — it’s filled with water, though George had opted for saké.

“You just look really good,” George says, staring. It makes Dream feel attractive. More than he’s felt in a long time. “Dressed up, I mean.”

Dream preens. He loves a good compliment. “Yeah?”

“Mhmm,” George says. He’s smiling at Dream knowingly. Leaning over the table, George tells him like a secret, “I just want to eat you up.”

Dream faux-gasps, loving it. “George, this is a family establishment.” His eyes rake over George too, the nice button-down, the blazer over it. George hadn’t worn any sort of tie, but Dream thinks the omission of it makes him look sexier. Edible, in some way.

Alright, now he gets it. He kind of wants to eat George, too.

Suddenly, he groans. “This was a bad idea.”

George raises an eyebrow. “Such a thing to say on a first date, Dream.”

He laughs, somewhat embarrassed. “No, I meant — ”

Pretending to be bothered, George says, “Oh, sure, tell me what you meant.”

“I meant,” Dream continues on, knowing George is not actually offended, “I’m gonna have to sit through this whole evening, and like, be normal. And pretend I don’t wanna just,” he gestures with his hands, aggressively, “jump you.”

George lets out a surprised laugh, now raising both eyebrows. His hand moves to cover half his face, as if he can hide the fact that he’s blushing, embarrassed, but still clearly pleased. “You want to jump me?”

Seriously, no smile, Dream licks his lips and admits: “Desperately.”

George stares back for a long, long moment.

Then, “Shit, this will be hard.”

Around a smirk, Dream says, “Y’know what else will be hard?”

George kicks him under the table.

The sushi ends up being pretty good. Dream enjoys it, and he can tell George loves it a lot, that he wants to come back again.

He likes the part when they cut the evening short a lot more, if he’s honest.

 

 

“D’you ever think — ”

A dismissive noise.

Dream,” George complains, also mumbling. His head lays in Dream’s lap as they relax on the couch, hands combing through thick hair for the past hour. “No, ’m serious.”

Dream grumbles. It’s probably around four in the morning at this point, but he’s too tired to stand and take him and George upstairs. “What?”

“Listen to this,” George whispers. Dream’s eyes are half-closed. “I love you.”

Always nice to hear, and it hasn’t worn out after months of it meaning something different than it used to. George says it so freely nowadays.

Smiling, opening his eyes, Dream murmurs, “I know.” Like ribbons, he tangles his hair around it; it curls at the ends in Floridian humidity, and Dream loves it like this, had begged him a while ago not to cut it so quickly.

“And we’re, like, in love, obviously — ”

“Oh, obviously,” Dream teases. That discussion has been had long ago.

“But — ”

This wakes him up more than anything else. “But?”

“No, no, nothing bad,” George reassures tiredly, his hand rising to hold onto the one Dream has situated in his hair. Their fingers intertwine in a messy hold. “’S just — don’t you think that’s so… dumb?”

No longer following, Dream questions, “Hm?”

Oddly petulant, George says, “Love — it’s such a dumb word.”

Dream thinks on this. He’s not sure if he shares the sentiment. “How so?”

“Dunno,” George replies. He readjusts, crawling into Dream’s lap. The instant he’s closer to Dream’s face, he nuzzles his scruff like Patches does some mornings to wake him up. Dream thinks George must like it when his facial hair is like this, though he’s always nuzzling him after Dream goes clean shaven, too. He wonders if he holds a preference. “’S like… everything I feel, it’s more than that.”

Oh. George is being cute. He dissolves into the couch, understanding. “More?” Dream asks, softly.

“Yeah.” A kiss is pressed to his cheek. George murmurs, “I more-than-love you.”

He hums, aching. As if his chest is expanding to contain all the feelings he has for George. Not all of them can fit in his body; sometimes, his heart feels so big that he fears he’ll burst at the seams from how much he loves him. It builds beyond his body, seeping from his eyes in the form of tears. 

“Silly,” he whispers into George’s hair, before kissing it.

My silly, he thinks. George had called him that once, wetness in his voice permeating the words. My silly boy, he’d said after Dream cried into George’s chest, right after confessing that he didn’t just love George, he was in love with him. He is. He always will be.

George sighs, kissing the corner of Dream’s mouth. The sensation lingers, skin longing for more, like he wishes George’s mouth would stay. Body thinking before he can: subconsciously, unconsciously, and consciously, too. That’s love; in that tingle, in every lingering, desperate iota of yearning that sizzles within every patch of skin, each part of his body, whenever George kisses him. No matter where it is. Like Dream has been hardwired before birth for George and George alone, and his body knows it. His skin knows, even higher than his brain; it recognizes it. When George is away, he finds himself craving him. Needing him. Knowing what it is to live without him, what it is to be with him, and never wanting to be separate again.

Once, George had joked during sex if he could crawl inside Dream’s body to live there, had said, you can be my shell, and I’d be like a little turtle. I’ll just roll up inside you forever. Dream had laughed over it, but lingered on the words during the comedown, when their bodies were tangled and quiet and cooling, thinking of it as oddly romantic.

Turtles cannot live without their shells, Dream later discovers. They die without them, tear apart their own bodies without their home. It is a piece of them like a skeleton, growing larger as the turtle gets bigger, growing alongside each other. Not separate pieces; together, a whole. It’d be similar to if Dream lost a limb and had to be amputated. Turtles cannot be amputated. They are a part of each other forever, it seems — inseparable, and dysfunctional without one another. There is no such thing as a turtle without its shell.

He holds George to his chest, sinking into it. When they’re tired they have conversations like this one, ones that make no sense. Ones that if anyone overheard, they’d gag at how they sound. But Dream loves it, these quiet moments just for them, when no one can judge.

He loves George, and the cooing voice he uses when he feels like doting on Dream, and his sweet George-like words, and the strange way he articulates things by rambling, sometimes even unexpectedly being poetic. These are secrets they hold in the realm that exists between themselves with no one around.

His hand gently pets over the expanse of George’s back, and his body softens, like George is warming in his hands. “Mine forever,” Dream tells him non-negotiably, so quiet he wonders if George hears it. Even lower, he admits: “You’re my life, George.”

His life, and everything that comes beyond. Though Dream always believed that what comes beyond is a large amount of nothing, George makes him want to believe there could be more. Just so he can have a shot at living more than a single life with him.

There’s a lot that George makes him believe, things he hadn’t believed before meeting him. He has changed everything he’s ever believed in solely by existing in his space, somehow.

George bites his shoulder, digging in. Playful with the motion, before attacking the nape of his neck next.

Almost reminiscent of an agreement, this is a signature of commitment done with the mouth. Yes, George is saying with Dream’s flesh caught between his teeth, like he’s caught his choice of prey.

Dream tilts his neck, letting George have his way. Prey, life partner — to him, it’s all the same.