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Caught Between Two Dreams

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Cory hasn't moved in hours, every muscle in his body is sore, and it even hurts to breathe. His head is pounding, and spinning. Even the normally soft fabric of the bedsheets was too much pressure on his skin, and he had thrown them off his body long ago. This is so much more than the hurt caused by the usual abuse his body would take during a game, and he knows it's all his fault. Getting in that fight was probably one of the worst ideas he's ever had. As good as it felt at the time, now it just feels stupid. Dropping the gloves with one of the biggest guys on the opposing team was not a good idea when you're only five-eight and fight almost never.

He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, watching as the headlights from passing cars dance across the dark bedroom. The silence in his too small apartment is deafening, and Cory is almost sure he can even hear his blood thrumming through his veins. It's not just the physical pain that has Cory's mind so wired that it won't shut down and let him rest. His stomach is in knots, when it's not doing flips, anyways.

Cory has felt ripped in two since the second he learned he had been invited to the Lightning's training camp. He feels like he's torn between two dreams, half of him here in Syracuse with the comfortable life he had built for himself, the other half in Tampa with the promise of another life yet to be made. Cory has the same desires as every other player that's not in the NHL; to one day be there. Now, there's a very good chance he will finally realize that dream, but he can't help the feeling of an oppressive hand closing around his throat when he thinks of everything he stands to lose. Cory knows he would be a fool to pass up this opportunity, but he can feel everything he loves about being in New York slipping through his fingers with each second the clock loudly ticked off.

Cory feels the other side of the bed shift as Dustin turns in his sleep, resting fitfully as he had been all night, and it snaps him from the haze of his thoughts. It also serves to remind him of everything he doesn't want to leave behind. Being with Dustin was one of those things Cory loves about where his life is now, and he knows it's perhaps the most important thing. It seems to Cory as if his relationship with Dustin had just started, and they had just found their niche in each other lives. Would fate really be so cruel as to have him realize one of his biggest dreams, but at the worst possible time? His future could be waiting for him in Florida, but his present was right here, laying next to him.

Cory turns in the bed to face Dustin, every muscle in his body screaming in pain. He squints his eyes against the darkness, desperately trying to make out the features of the perfect man laying beside him. He wants to reach out and trail his fingers along Dustin's cheek, his ear, his lips, to commit every single part of Dustin to memory. He wants something to take with him, something that will carry him though all the lonely nights when his bed is empty and his soul is twelve thousand miles away. Cory slides his trembling hand across the sheets, until his fingertips are just barely brushing the arm that Dustin has folded under his head. He doesn't want to wake him, but the need to touch him and know that he's really there, at least for now, pulls at Cory like the tide. He stares, mesmerized, at the faint outline of Dustin's frame against the canvas of darkness. It's suddenly not enough for Cory to simply hear the shallow rise and fall of Dustin's breathing, he needs to feel it too.

He slowly skates his hand up Dustin's body until it's resting on his chest, his hand raising and falling with each breath Dustin takes. Cory can feel Dustin's heart beat through his palm, and his own heart sinks as he realizes he may not get another moment like this, not for awhile. The only thing saving Cory from an all-out breakdown was the bed shifting again under Dustin's groggy movements. He's not sure if Dustin is really awake, or just half asleep, as he fumbles in the dark, grasping for Cory until his hand finds Cory's shoulder. His skin tingles at the light brush of Dustin's fingers as they slide down his arm and gently grasp at the hand he was holding pressed to Dustin's chest. Dustin smoothly weaves his fingers through Cory's, giving away the fact that he's now fully awake.

The lights from another passing car stream in through the window, casting an angelic glow over Dustin and illuminating his rich, brown eyes. Cory can't help but notice the twinge of sadness that's playing just below the surface of the love contained in his gaze as Dustin lightly trails his fingers over his jawline, a smile pulling at the corners of his lips.

"I'm proud of you, Cor. You'll do awesome there," Dustin says in a voice that warms Cory like the sun breaking through the clouds. He then lets out a small laugh, and Cory can't tell if it's sleep that has found its way into Dustin's voice, or sadness. "Put in a good word for me?"

"Only if you call me everyday," Cory says with a small smirk playing on his lips.

Dustin moves his body closer to Cory's in the bed, the space between them becoming nonexistent. He gently pokes at Cory's foot with his own, and slowly plants a kiss on Cory's lips. As the kiss grows deeper, and more passionate, all Cory can think is how bad he doesn't want to leave this all behind. After Dustin finally pulls away to look him intently in the eyes, Cory is absolutely certain he'll miss him every single second he's away. Dustin's voice breaks through the dark silence, bringing Cory back to the present and reminding him of his earlier request.

"You know I will. Everyday."