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mine (even if it's only in a dream)

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        it’s the same dream again. the one that leaves his mind in a haze, warping his perception, causing johnny to really wonder if it wasn’t the real world that was a dream. from the moment he first dreamt of this world, this fantasy conjured by his own mind, he knew it would always feel more real than the hell he lived in. that it was his chance, even if the odds were slim, to get the one thing constantly just out of his reach. but his mind, while full of dreams and hopes, was so painfully realistic. so, it was inevitable that the fantasy always remained the same. even if the location changes each time, he knows what happens next. a dramatic call for help will sound soon, desperate for someone, anyone, to help. to rescue what has been stolen. to find him . johnny should’ve been tired of it ages ago, bored of repeating the same pattern over in over in every dream, but he wasn’t. for, even if the pattern was the same, taeyong wasn’t. in some dreams he’d be the picture of a damsel in distress, begging to be saved from the demons attacking the village, in others taeyong was a warrior struck by a spell, forced to fight against his savior. but, even if taeyong changed, the ending never did. struck by his lover’s sword, taeyong would fall, clutching on to johnny as the life bled from him. and, even as his voice grew weaker, taeyong never stopped pleading for johnny to spare his lover’s life, to let the man that had so lifelessly murdered him go free. johnny hated it, hated that even in his dreams, taeyong never stopped protecting that monster. it’s what wakes him up each time, dragging him out of his cruel dream into agonizing reality.

        it’s as he watches them, dream taeyong and the real version right in front of him, that he wishes things could be different. that for once, it could be him at the end, holding taeyong in his arms, whispering that everything would be alright now, that he was safe. that he would never leave his side, that it would be the last time taeyong ever had to put on the mask he had been wearing for years now. but that wasn’t how it worked. even johnny’s own brain knew that the ending he had thought of after the first dream, the ending of sweet affection and bliss, was far out of his reach. instead, he looks on as taeyong walks out the door and towards even more heartbreak. he wants to reach out, to finally stop the self-inflicted torture taeyong seems to gravitate towards, to tell taeyong that love wasn’t supposed to leave you shattered. yet, he never does take the final step, never says a word. why? because he’s afraid. a man who used to boast that his greatest strength was his courage to speak out, now rendered speechless in fear of losing the man he loved. even as taeyong returns, red eyes and puffy face leaving no questions, he simply wishes the boy goodnight and walks into his own room. as he lays there, mind swimming with images of past friends that had tried to interfere, friends that taeyong had completely shut off because they had tried to talk to him, and he tries to convince himself he’s doing the right thing. this is the only way, he repeats to himself over and over even as his eyes slide shut, even as his brain slowly shuts down. this is the only way.

        that night the dream changes. it’s the first time in months his dream is no longer the same, gone are the castles and rolling hills, the story of a knight and his love. it’s much shorter, ending nearly as soon as it starts. as he goes through the same tumultuous death each time, drowning in the middle of a vast blue sea, he can’t decide if he prefers this dream, if he finds more comfort in his own death rather than taeyong’s. he definitely doesn’t like how it keeps him awake at night, only allowing him brief moments of rest before he’s jolting out of his bed, screaming so loud he shatters the calm of the night instantly. even in this dream, surrounded by blue and his own desperate screams, taeyong is there when the waves calm. he watches far below johnny, a glittering tail where his legs used to be, a stunning merman that lures johnny deeper, until his lungs scream for air and he wakes confused. the cycle of screaming and bitter joy repeats almost every hour of the night. and it takes only two days for taeyong to realize, to expect the heart-wrenching screams of his roommate, to slowly gravitate from his own bed to johnny’s. johnny refuses to explain his dreams and taeyong simply leaves it at that, just shoves johnny aside and climbs beside him, letting johnny slowly fall asleep again as taeyong slowly strokes his hair. it’s the only way johnny can sleep peacefully, turns his dreams from blinding white and roaring waves into soft pinks and the sound of taeyong’s voice as he tells johnny everything will be alright, that he’ll never leave.

        it’s because of him, his warmth, that the dreams change once more. the dream takes him by surprise, he never had expected anything like this, knew that his mind was giving him the reality of his dreams. this world is only full of soft skies, sweet words, and taeyong. sweet, sweet taeyong that’s finally his, free to love and alive . taeyong who rests his head on johnny’s shoulder. taeyong who grazes johnny’s lips with his own and smiles like he did before, like how he did when johnny first fell in love. taeyong who calls johnny his whole world, exactly how johnny has envisioned it before. it’s the sweetest dream, yet the only one johnny knows will never come true, that both of them will never be this whole. but he indulges himself anyways until the dream vanishes as fast as it came. and even though this dream stays the shortest, it quickly becomes his favorite dream, the one he constantly reminds himself of, the future that could be. it was the hope his dream gave, the illusory painting of a blissful life with taeyong that led to him finally opening pandora’s box, forgetting all the misery and hell that would inevitably come with it.

        the first time johnny dares to call a dream realistic is the dream that reflects his current reality. both are hell. it’s indistinguishable to him now, whether he’s awake or still stuck in his dream. his dreams are as dark as their apartment, silent except for the screams and cries that continue on through the night endlessly, leaving johnny drained and numb. it makes him realize what his own personal hell is: the world without lee taeyong. a bleak world where all johnny can do is hope and plead that taeyong will come back, that his words will get to him, that taeyong can finally break his cycle of pain. it’s a worse pain than dying, a constant emptiness he can feel in his heart, an aching pain that never seems to stop. the overwhelming silence is his constant reminder that taeyong is gone, that his sweet dream was nothing more than a cruel taunt, his brain showing him something that would never become his reality. it overwhelms him to the point where he can’t even bear to live in their home anymore, taking refuge in his friend’s home, eager to escape the reminder of what he’s lost. but, even if he escaped, it still haunts his dreams. a month filled with dreams of taeyong in their apartment, yelling so loud, yelling at johnny, screaming that he’ll never love him, begging johnny to never talk to him again. it’s a month of hell, filled with his friend’s worry every time johnny wakes up screaming and crying in the night. it never seems to end until he gets the text.

        the last dream johnny has is strange. everything is white, except him. taeyong. standing just a few feet in front of johnny, looking at him with worry clear on his face. both stare at the other, waiting for one of them to take the first step. to johnny’s surprise, it’s taeyong who takes the first step. and then they keep moving closer and closer, until they’re less than a foot away from each other. they don’t say anything as they gaze at each other, they both know what this means. johnny feels his eyes begin to fill with tears, doesn’t even have to look at taeyong to know that he feels the same. that’s what set johnny apart from the rest, what made taeyong stay. their connection. the way johnny just takes a look at taeyong and instantly knows that taeyong loves him back, the way taeyong looks at johnny and sees his own future reflected in his eyes. neither of them realizes how close they’ve gotten now until taeyong looks up and stares straight into johnny’s eyes before dragging his gaze lower straight to his lips. smiling softly, johnny grabs taeyong’s face and gently cups it with both his hands before leaning down and just barely grazing taeyong’s lips. he presses their foreheads together and smiles, looking at the boy who has his whole heart, watches as a shy smile takes over taeyong’s face. as he slowly shuts his eyes, still holding on to his world, he knows this is the only dream that’ll ever truly matter.

        even after three months, he still expects it to happen. expects to wake up alone, to walk out and see taeyong on his phone, staring at it with a frown. expects to dream of running to taeyong, running and running but never actually reaching him. but not anymore. instead he wakes up and the first thing he sees is him lying there, hair fanning and covering most of his face. instead, taeyong runs to him, smiling and giggling with joy as he leaps into johnny’s arms.  and he learns. learns to expect the hugs and affection taeyong willingly gives him. makes sure to treat taeyong right. does everything with taeyong he promised himself he would do, to show taeyong what it means to be with someone who truly loves you. even his dreams have left him, leaving him only with thoughts of the soft warmth of his boyfriend. and for johnny, who for years had believed dreams were always better than reality, knew a dream couldn’t even compare to reality of taeyong snug in his arms, giving him a smile filled with love as he told johnny about his day.

        “johnny are you even listening to me?”

        “sorry baby, i was daydreaming again”

        “about what?”

        “you, always you”

        “im right here baby, you don’t have to dream to see me”

        “not anymore”