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Lured into the Darkness

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Why was it so dark? Gold eyelights searched his surroundings as Dream blinked.

Everywhere he’d look blurred, like a static fuzzed their already indistinguishable edges. Like the darkness was moving. Scrutinizing the area with squinted sockets, Dream slowly tilted his skull.

He could have sworn he felt the smallest trace of hope here. Where did it go?

Dream’s brow ridges furrowed as he scanned the murkiness for the being that brought him here.

There wasn’t a clear sign of another presence besides his. And seeing as how bleak this place was, Dream needed to find them. As soon as possible.

He searched the black again, and the darkness swirled slightly when Dream held his gaze for too long. It seemed to draw him further forward, closer, like it was inviting him in. Confused, Dream averted his eyelights, and pulled his attention elsewhere, anywhere.

“What is this?” he asked himself. “Where are they?” Frowning, he closed his sockets to concentrate. Everywhere around him was anything but positive. And he tried in vain to pinpoint the source of the presence that brought him here.

What kind of world was this? Empty save for one singular entity, dark and bleak except for one survivor? This wasn’t the Void, was it?

No, Dream decided, shaking his head, the air had a certain abyssal quality to it that the ominous, truly unfathomable Void did not exhibit. Even in the Void there was at least a few ghosts lingering.

This place was somewhere else entirely.

Dream felt the wavering shapes fall away from him as he experimentally grasped at the nothingness. Nothing seemed to want to adhere to him.

Disappointed, he kicked at the air. A slight force propelled Dream forward, and he allowed himself a small smile at this development. At least now he could explore.

Moving his arms like he were swimming, Dream floated onward, hoping to find a light other than his own. But still empty air greeted him. Still, darkness surrounded him, though it seemed to shrink back ever so slightly when he attempted to reach forward. Frowning, Dream tried again.

Further and further in he went, but he discovered nothing different.

Only the black, inky chasm that sucked him deeper into its depths.

Furrowing a brow ridge, Dream squinted worriedly at his cold, wispy surroundings. Where was the lone survivor who called him here? Where could they have gone with their world left like this? Crestfallen, he continued to move forward. Despite no other signs of change, Dream pressed on.

 

He was starting to feel a damper in his efforts when he recognized the atmosphere.

This bleakness in the air--this negativity. His eyelights shrank with realization.

Nightmare.

But...what would Nightmare want with them? Why would--

Dream’s light dimmed ever so slightly as he felt the pull of a singular emotion.

Wait…was that desire?

It was surrounded in darkness.

It was surrounded by pain.

This wasn’t good. He needed to find that poor creature and a way out before Nightmare noticed.

Searching the black, Dream sensed the weakest presence of a soul before it was thoroughly engulfed. Dream could have sworn he heard muffled screams echoing in the dark.

Soul beating loudly in his skull, Dream’s eyelights contracted.

He was too late.

Dream shrank back as he tried to reassess what he should do.

Whatever brought him here was no longer giving off anything. They could even be far gone enough to be considered dead. There was no reason to stay any longer. Dream reached out with his mind to find a different world, a different universe to move to.

But...he couldn’t feel anything.

He tried a safe universe, one he knew would possess enough positive emotions for him to step foot there. Yet still, it was out of his reach.

Maybe if he could…

Dream propelled himself as far upward as he could, only to be denied by the darkness around him. It felt like he was surrounded by a dome. Or a forcefield made of swirling shadows. Frowning, Dream tried again, and took great pains to try and pierce through the rippling black. But his efforts to get above and through it were futile, and Dream only managed to get reflectively thrown back into the solid shadows that made up the ground level of the expanse.

What in the Life Guardian’s name was this?

Dream never had trouble moving between worlds before.

Was it this place? Where even was this?

Dream put a hand on the gloom that pushed back at him.

Was he trapped here?

Did...did Nightmare do this? But why? And what was he going to do if Nightmare discovered him?

When he discovered him--

Upon this revelation, a deep voice arose, as slow taunts surrounded him.

Well, well, well.” It sounded like he was brushing just behind him, and Dream scrambled away from the voice. “What have we here?” Dream stiffened, eyelights frantically trying to determine where he went now.

Nightmare--

The voice sounded like it was coming from everywhere at once, in different directions and inflections. It almost made Dream a little dizzy to listen to them all.

“A little Dream trapped in a Nightmare?” the voice (voices?) mockingly asked. Dream, still recovering from the sensory input, gave no reply. Nightmare laughed aloud. “Guess you can say I make for a good Dream-catcher eh?” The cackle echoed and rang through his acoustic meatus, and it felt like the cacophony was repeating twice over in his skull.

So this was planned. Dream gritted his teeth as he waited for the dissonance to subside.

Nightmare wasn’t one to engage him during their past encounters. Usually he’d try and get rid of him by any means necessary. They usually were on opposing sides, after all. But now that it was just the two of them...

Managing to seize himself some reprieve, Dream snapped himself out of it best he could and faced the darkness, brow ridges low and determined.

If Nightmare brought him here, he could let him out.

Dream wasn’t looking to fight, but if he knew Nightmare, he wouldn’t release him without showing some sort of resolve against him. He needed to protect himself while he had the chance--

A momentary streak of gold magic bathed the darkness in light as he summoned his bow. Notching a golden arrow, Dream aimed at the source of the laughter.

“Let me leave Nightmare!” he commanded. “We don’t have to do this!” Nightmare in turn, cackled with amusement.

“Oh ho ho, do what?” he jeered, “Our usual shtick? How you prove to me time and again that your little friends can bail you out of anything?”

Large pointed teeth chomped down suddenly near Dream in a wide, taunting smile.

“Now that they aren’t here, who’s gonna save you but yourself?” Eyeing the Cheshire grin, Dream backed away warily. The fact that Nightmare was weaving in and out of the shadows uneased Dream.

“We don’t even have to fight,” he adjured, lowering his bow. “Just show me the way out and we can forget this ever happened.”

“How could I, Dream?” Nightmare queried, “when you’ve brought yourself here?” Gold eyelights dimmed as Dream’s face scrunched with confusion.

“W-what do you mean?” It didn’t make any sense why he would bring it up this way, but Dream wasn’t allowed the opportunity to analyze Nightmare’s claim.

Snaking behind him, a gooey tentacle managed to brush against his cheek, making Dream recoil and shoot.

The goop splattered on his face, tingling where it landed. Cringing at the feel, Dream brought a hand to wipe them from his face. All it did was smear it over the bone.

“What was that about not fighting?” Nightmare asked sarcastically. His voice sounded like he had moved further away, taunting him. Nightmare wasn’t one to play games, and Dream found this behavior suspicious as he huffed and notched his bow again.

“Shame you don’t open your mind to the possibility, Dream,” Nightmare continued. He was circling him now. Dream could hear it in the inflection of his voice, the way the air seemed to move. “We could rule together you know. Renounce this timeline and become Kings, no Gods even, to all the petty peons of the multiverse.”

“No!” Dream refused, taking this opportunity to pinpoint where exactly Nightmare would be. His eyelights shining brilliantly as he scanned the darkness around him. “I won’t allow it! We were brought into being for a good reason,” he argued, arrow still aimed at the swirling black. “We were both to maintain the delicate duality of feelings across the multiverse. And if we don’t do it, there won’t be any worlds left to rule!”

A deep, amused chuckle resounded around Dream.

“You think we’d be without playthings?” Nightmare asked bemusedly. “Those who survive will become subject to a new kind of Life,” he interjected, “and the entire multiverse will be at our mercy--” Dream listened carefully, to follow his voice. Joining forces? Wasn’t that some overused villain tactic? Nightmare may be running out of ideas if he had to stoop so far to use something like that. “--but I digress.” Nightmare stopped walking. “What are you to understand unless you see it for yourself?”

“I won’t let you,” Dream countered.

He heard the distinct sound of a slow, cocky grin.

“Why don’t you do your cute hero routine and stop me?” Nightmare challenged.

Spinning waves of shadows surrounded Dream, beckoning him closer, drawing him unconsciously near, and Nightmare’s grin grew maliciously large.

“We have all the time in the multiverse to discuss it,” Nightmare sang, stepping visibly forward before Dream. “That is,” he slyly tilted his head, “should you ever decide to leave.”

His four tentacles raised high in the air as the shadows continued their loop. Dream tried to ignore them but there was something about they way they spun...

“We’ll just have to see how you are after I’m through with you,” his teal eyelight flared menacingly. Dream backed away, glad to have his weapon summoned and ready.

As the tentacles attacked, Dream plunged arrow after arrow into the semifluid substance that was his brother. More black fluid splashed onto Dream, coating his clothes--staining his fingerless gloves. And in all this, besides wincing from the pain, Nightmare didn’t seem bothered by the assault.

Suspicion now evident, Dream leaped away to reassess the situation.

Did...Nightmare want him to attack?

Why was he allowing himself to get hurt like this?

Dream’s brow ridges furrowed with worry.

This wasn’t like Nightmare at all.

This wasn’t like that time with that monochromatic child in the Underswap, when Dream managed to gain the upper hand.

Dream halted his advances, watching and waiting.

Then again, that time he wasn’t close enough to get doused by the tar-like substance Nightmare was made of.

The dark fluid that had landed and stuck to him was...oddly warm, and somewhat soothing? Despite the odor that followed Nightmare’s tentacled visage, it didn’t give off anything but a growing heat from where they latched onto Dream. Shaking his clothes didn’t do much to get the excess off, and with no other way to be rid of them, Dream was forced to feel it congeal to his clothes, to him.

This was all becoming too much like an opportunistic trap, a well-thought out one, but an opportunistic one still.

Their ever-swirling environment, the weird warmth encompassing Dream--

If Nightmare was just using all those as a means to distract him, Dream refused to let them gain the upper hand.

Whatever game Nightmare was playing, Dream was not going to play along.

If he just shot at Nightmare’s tentacles again, he’d just coat himself in another layer of black fluid. But what other way did Dream have to protect himself from Nightmare’s attacks?

Gritting his teeth, Dream rethought his strategy, despite how unbearable the tingling--the warmth building into a heat over his bones--was starting to become.

In a desperate attempt to cleanse himself of the substance, Dream slipped his tunic off from under his belt and threw it aside, leaving his bodysuit and scarf-like cape to protect what little decency he had left. With renewed vigor, Dream threw himself backward, away from the assailing tentacles and shot them down, pinning them to the darkness that made up a floor.

“Tsk,” Nightmare scoffed. “When will you learn Dream? That’ll just makes things w o r s e.”

The darkness seemed to close in around them, and Dream ran along the solidifying surfaces that came into being. Was this a new tactic to keep him from running away? But where would he run to? What was Nightmare planning?

Two tentacles flanked him from behind and Dream barely managed to dodge them. But not without getting a splattering of fluid all up his arm.

Startled by the warm goop congealing up his arm like slime, Dream almost cried out.

Shivering, Dream untwisted the arch of his bow and stabbed the tentacles reflexively before they reared back to restrain him.

“This is getting tiresome,” Nightmare hissed impatiently, secondary tentacles catching Dream by the wrists. “You’re making this harder than it needs to be.” Jerking Dream back, Nightmare managed to fling his weapon into the darkness below. Dream swallowed dryly as he caught Nightmare’s eyelight.

“Nightmare--” he attempted to negotiate, “just let me go. If it’s a fight you want, we can do that somewhere else--We can talk through this--”

“You think I brought you here to talk? Nightmare exploded, a third tentacle slapped Dream across the face, hurtling him downward, only to be stopped by the tendrils gripping his wrists. Groaning, Dream hung limply, as Nightmare dragged him forward to close their distance.

Dream raised his head in time to catch Nightmare’s scowl.

“You’ve been a proverbial thorn in my side since the very beginning,” Nightmare spat. “It’s time you learned the true meaning of my power. And what you’re truly good for.”

A hand on his cheek tilted Dream’s face upward. Now that Nightmare himself was touching him, wherever the viscid black had settled, Dream felt more than a tingling he could easily ignore.

The semifluid that surrounding Dream vibrated incessantly now, and despite himself, despite how wrong it felt, Dream unconsciously leaned into the tentacles holding him up.

It felt...strangely good--

Realizing his actions halfway through it, Dream snapped his head up and faced forward, defiantly.

“What will you do?” he gritted through set teeth. Nightmare giggled at his insolence.

“Me?” he laughed, “I won’t do anything. Nothing at least, you wouldn’t want. You may find it uncharacteristic of me,” he grinned mischievously wide, “but I’m all about consent.

The darkness around Dream swirled again. And the sharp teeth that shone from beneath that warm, black goo of Nightmare glistened almost invitingly. Almost...enticingly.

Dream’s brow ridge furrowed first with confusion. Then with an unadulterated desire.

What the-- Dream swallowed dryly. Something about being this near to Nightmare awoke a rapidly uncoiling tension within him.

“And you want to relax,” Nightmare suggested, “don’t you?”

Wh--was this a new trick? Part of this weird game Nightmare wanted to play?

“I...can’t,” Dream responded slowly, in an attempt to regain control. Over himself, over what little influence over his body he had left. “It’s not…” he shook his head, “this isn’t right.”

It was becoming more difficult to ignore the feel of Nightmare’s writhing tentacles against his skull. Intertwining with his arms, tugging at his wrists to remind Dream how helpless he was--

“But you need it, don’t you?” Nightmare reasoned, as his lower two tentacles brushed against Dream’s limp legs. “You’ve been fighting so hard, and all this time. Look at you--” they climbed slowly up his femurs, languorously wrapping them with more heat than Dream could bear-- “You’re practically begging for it.”

His brother’s face was so close now, Dream could feel the heat radiating from him despite the chill of their surroundings.

Was...was Nightmare always this warm? When was the last time they were at this close a proximity...?

“Heroes like you deserve rest,” Nightmare continued. “How else will you fight the villain?”

Leaning so his teeth brushed Dream’s temple, Nightmare hissed.

“How else will you fight me?”

The goop that dripped from the blackened skeleton’s face smeared onto Dream’s zygomatic process, and Dream shuddered. It was everywhere now, soaked into the fabric of his bodysuit. Practically glued to his bones. And he couldn’t ignore what was happening anymore.

The heat was the most insufferable between his legs. And the tentacles around them weren’t helping it one bit.

“Mmn--N-nightm-mare...” Dream shivered.

“Rest your eyelights, Brother,” Nightmare uttered consolingly. A clear mockery of their strained relationship. “It’ll feel so much better.”

What with the intolerable vibrations and enduring heat spattering his bones, Dream thought the suggestion irrefutable. He could concentrate better if he focused, right? It’s what he’d been trying to do this whole time, to escape. To find his way out.

Resting his eyelights just sounded...so reasonable.

He didn’t realize how tired he was until he let his sockets steadily lower.

As his sockets slowly closed, Nightmare grinned sharply.

“Good,” he praised. “Now doesn’t that feel better?” Sleepily, Dream managed a short nod. “You need all your strength,” Nightmare continued, “so why don’t I watch over you?” he proposed, “like a good brother should.” Brow ridges furrowed slightly at this.

“nn--Nightmare...” Dream protested, “but--” One of the tentacles holding him up gingerly touched his teeth, and involuntarily, Dream welcomed it. The warmth was making him dizzy, unfocused, and wanting--something.

Nightmare hadn’t offered to do something like this in years.

Nightmare hadn’t touched him like this in centuries.

“Shh shh,” Nightmare hushed, “sleep for me Dream,” he whispered with a coo. “Dream for me.” And the tentacle over Dream’s stained teeth moved languidly to coat his sockets black.

“You need it, don’t you?”

And at Dream’s small, affirming nod, Nightmare smirked.

“You’ll love it,” Nightmare assured him, “I’ll make sure of it.”

---

Inky tendrils swirled in the unlit, but comfortable black. A soothing darkness enveloped the blindfolded skeleton as the tentacles slowly eased his ankle belts off. They removed his shoes as they tickled at his body-stocking. He may have giggled at the sensation, and comically, Nightmare was having troubling releasing Dream from his fabric confines. Frustrated, Nightmare instead, took a more direct approach, and ripped the body-stocking apart. In convenient places of course.

Once exposed to his liking, the two tentacles moved to interlace with Dream’s bones. Like a swimmer who nestles into the warmth of water, Dream sank into the inky black substance like it were a friend.

A smirk quirked at Nightmare’s teeth. He was already accepting it. Good.

“Can you see the waves in the darkness?” Nightmare asked, “They’ll reveal themselves if you concentrate.

Now, Nightmare didn’t think it too unfair of him to use a bit of magic in his words. In his defense, he was just helping Dream...concentrate better. On defeating him, of course. That’s what most heroes did after all, bide their time until they could find the opportunity to strike.

It wouldn’t be very sporting after all, to take advantage of Dream while he was in such a compromised position.

It wouldn’t be fair if Nightmare didn’t give him a chance, however slim.

From beneath the black substance covering his sockets, a brow ridge knitted in concentration.

“...they keep moving,” Dream murmured, “makin’ me dizzy...”

“Find their center,” suggested Nightmare. “It’s easier to follow them that way.” Dream grunted in acknowledgement, and Nightmare’s soul fluttered when he soon heard Dream sigh.

A teal eyelight regarded Dream a moment, and Nightmare found himself feeling...nostalgic, of sorts.

The two never truly had time to talk, not since they started that hero/villain charade. He never truly understood why or how Dream happened to show up when he would. Always with his...convenient companions of course. Because heroes stood in numbers against their nemeses, never truly alone.

And Nightmare absolutely loathed that.

Which made now the perfect opportunity to lure Dream to his own interdimensional corner. He and that fucker Ink weren’t on speaking terms last Nightmare checked, and that starry-eyed skeleton with the blue scarf had been sent back to his own universe. That whole affair with Cross had all but been a mess from the start. But at least Nightmare was able to get something out of his newly acquired connections.

Like...say a source of positivity to hurry along a personal project?

It left more to clean up than Nightmare would like to admit, but at least it got him what he wanted.

At least it brought Dream here. And Nightmare was now one step closer to achieving his goal.

Nightmare grinned to himself. Weak Humans were worth something after all.

Nightmare had made sure Dream was deep enough that he would speak truthfully and without restraint. He was in a perfect position to exploit Dream should he wish. All he had left to do was expose the weakest part of himself. Convince Dream to let him get closer.

To trust him again.

If Nightmare understood it correctly, he and Dream had a vague history together, one literally cloaked in shadow. And considering how many times he and Dream had fought, from what Nightmare gathered, Dream seemed to think they used to be quite close.

All the better to give Dream what he wanted, right?

But there was something that seemed off about all this. Trapping Dream should have been a little more difficult. Everything had come together more easily than Nightmare expected.

And despite how disgustingly positive Dream was, he wasn’t stupid. Nightmare had witnessed him at his most ruthless before, like that time Dream unleashed a barrage of arrows that practically ripped Nightmare’s body into puddles. He should know the risks of coming into an empty universe that suspiciously had only one positive soul remaining. Why now, of all times did he let his guard down?

Why in this sudden turn of Fate did Dream allow himself to be tricked like this?

The thought nagged at Nightmare until he heard himself utter,

“Dream.”

“Mm?” There was no way he wouldn’t answer. Nightmare made it certain that Dream be in a deep, suggestible state. Made it easier to get the truth out of him.

It made him easier to exploit.

But all Nightmare could truly want right now, was an answer.

“Why are you here?”

Dream’s brow ridge furrowed, as if confused. Nightmare stared down at him, the beginnings of a seeth igniting.

“There was,” Dream uttered, “a soul--”

Yes, Nightmare’s obvious plant. A Human he managed to drag back with him.

“You followed it,” he guided. “Why? Didn’t you find this place at all suspicious? Did you clearly ignore everything of negative origin?”

Dream’s furrow deepened in thought.

“Even if it was the last soul left,” he murmured, “I wanted to save them. I...didn’t want them to lose hope.”

Nightmare huffed.

“You came a little late, Brother,” he scoffed, using the relation as a spite on Dream’s good name. “You didn’t think I’d plan for your arrival? You didn’t think I’d use a means to bring you here of your own accord?”

Dream’s jaw hung parted. Nightmare could hear his shallow breaths.

“I’m here to maintain happiness,” he heard Dream breathe. “I will not stand aside while someone’s in danger. Not when I can help.

This was getting too in-depth, too emotionally-investing for Nightmare’s liking.

“Of course you’d go out of your own way like that,” Nightmare scoffed, “But you can’t be so single-minded that you fell for such an obvious trap,” he reasoned, “you’re smarter than this Dream!”

Part of Nightmare didn’t want to be wrong in his assumption.

Part of Nightmare was frustrated over Dream’s overall attitude. How infuriating he was.

How childish he still remained each and every time Nightmare encountered him!

“How could you be this stupid and naive!

Dream flinched back a little at Nightmare’s biting words.

“...emotional balance must be maintained--” Dream slurred.

“You think you’re so cute,” Nightmare spat bitterly. “Clearly there’s more to this than your stupidity.”

“There isn’t--”

“Must be something very important for you to ignore the danger. The darkness.” Nightmare made the slow movement of the swirling shadows in front of Dream’s sockets spin faster.

Dream’s jaw slackened.

“You’re here because of me,” Nightmare smiled slowly. “Aren’t you?” It made perfect sense. Especially if Dream felt the same, the pull--the unconscious tug to be in Nightmare’s presence--as Nightmare did for Dream. It could only make sense if Dream fought the same feelings of longing, of unrequited suffering.

But did Dream suffer at all?

Did Dream ever experience anguish so strong, every inch of him felt drenched in the heavy waters of despair?

Nightmare was fairly certain Dream was incapable of feeling anything besides betrayal. If he witnessed Dream’s falling out with Ink properly.

But Nightmare needed to test that theory.

He needed to know for certain what Dream was capable of experiencing. Perhaps conducting an experiment was in order? To investigate a method for his hypothesis.

It would be so insightful to understand just how far Nightmare could go with Dream.

It would be so insightful to understand just how far he could go before Nightmare discovered Dream’s breaking point.

“W-why would I--” Dream stammered.

“Think about it,” Nightmare insisted. “Why else would you be so intent on stopping me? You keep showing up, like the hero you are, to prevent me from reaching my goal. And you succeed, because that’s what heroes do, don’t they?”

Nightmare wasn’t really one to indulge such a captive audience, but it wasn’t every day Nightmare got to speak to Dream this way. It wasn’t every day they weren’t fighting against each other, grappling the other into submission--

It wasn’t every day Nightmare got to scrutinize why their dynamic became this way.

It was only natural, wasn’t it?

“For a paragon of goodness like you to waltz into the darkness of the lion’s den,” Nightmare parsed, “for you had to have come willingly--there’s no other explanation.” Nightmare cocked his head as he pieced together the thought aloud. “You can stop pretending you came because you thought you could save one measly soul when its chances of survival were so slim. The reason why you came here is because of something you yourself haven’t acknowledged.”

Nightmare turned to his brother captive, a viscous hand grasped at his unsullied chin.

“You had to want it,” he stressed. For anyone to have found themselves in Nightmare’s realm, they had to either slip completely into the influence of him, or allow Nightmare a means into their Soul.

Even as Nightmare uttered the words himself, he still couldn’t believe the implication.

“And you still want it, don’t you?” Nightmare asked slowly, “You still care about a sick fuck like me.”

Hearing Dream’s voice through the silence and his chattering teeth only impacted Nightmare more.

“W-we’re family,” he answered drowsily. “‘Course I do.”

Despite how startling this reveal was, this was not the answer Nightmare wanted to hear.

How long had they been fighting each other?

How long has it been since Nightmare could freely call Dream his brother, despite being a completely different person now?

“But we can be more than that,” Nightmare seethed, releasing Dream’s mandible with an angered jerk. “In fact, we will,” he decided. “Did you honestly think you were here to save someone?” Nightmare cackled. “Look at you! Look how desperate you’ve become! You want this.

He could see Dream twitching under the involuntary ministrations of his tentacles. He could feel the growing heat between his legs, and the mess of magic attempting to create something substantial. But Dream didn’t seem to understand what was happening, no matter how deep Nightmare brought him. A frustrated growl escaped from his teeth.

“But you don’t see it--why can’t you see it like me?” Clutching at the substance around his chest, Nightmare swallowed, and allowed himself a moment of weakness.

“Us being the way we are...we can’t help but want it. I can’t help but want you. Even though I hate the fuck out of you.” Chuckling despondently, Nightmare shrugged. “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to ignore your fucking presence when I can feel it whever you go? I hate how aware I am of you, how nauseous I get when I. can’t. find. you.” He allowed a frustrated snarl to hiss through his teeth. “Opposites attract whether they want it or not. Whether you choose to see it, dreams will harbor nightmares.” Teeth gritting, Nightmare frowned. “Now that I have you, you’ll understand.”

Wrapping his lower tentacles around his bare brother, Nightmare angled him to bring their faces closer.

“Watching you,” he scoffed, “the way you are, how you live--by the Stars do I feed on it--the empty spaces where you’re not present, the absence of you--but those are nothing compared to the spaces you inhabit. They are nothing compared to you.” Nightmare allowed himself a careful exhale, a hiss to expel the smallest compulsive urge of his own selfishness, of repressed longing.

He could see the twitch of Dream’s hazy eyelights from behind the mask of his fluids. How was Dream so beautiful when he was so powerless?

“You can’t have darkness without the light,” Nightmare continued, allowing himself to lean in so he could put a dripping hand to Dream’s face. “You can’t have Dream without too experiencing Nightmare.” A teal eyelight gazed intensely at the shivering skeleton before him. Closer he drew, until his hot breath was mere inches from Dream’s face.

“You have no idea how long I’ve waited to have you all to myself.” The heat that expelled from his venomous snarl only made Dream’s position more susceptible, more...exploitable.

“You have no idea how long I’ve waited to corrupt you.”

Black teeth passionately clanking against his brother’s, Nightmare expelled a long breath. He could feel Dream stiffen beneath his tentacles. He could feel the tiniest of heats arise from Dream, along with the smallest gasp.

“Your brotherly love for me,” he murmured, almost disappointed at Dream’s restraint, “if it’s still there, show me.”

Nightmare gripped at Dream, claws in danger of bursting from his phalanges.

“Let it flow unrestrained,” he continued, a guarded passion hissing through his teeth, “Prove to me that we can be together. Prove your love for me, Dream.”

Something inside Dream was fighting this suggestion. Nightmare could see it. Touching their foreheads together, he allowed a silent plea, no--a command.

“You will be with me,” Nightmare ordered, his magic smouldering in his exposed socket. “My will is your will. And you are mine.” Stepping away, Nightmare’s socket narrowed, a plan already formulating in his skull.

“I will make it so.”

---

As Dream was already effectively covered in Nightmare’s fluids, he saw no reason to not add more. After all, with how comfortable Dream looked, Nightmare devised that he would be more than happy in his current state to receive them. Upper tentacles gripping Dream firmly in place, Nightmare licked at his cervical vertebrae with a languidly dripping tongue.

“It’s time to wake up Dream,” he urged, sharp phalanges hooking into Dream’s mandible. “It’s time to give yourself to me.” Slightly roused from his induced trance, Dream blearily blinked, eyelights dim, but translucently visible from the dark that coated his sockets.

“Nn...Nightmare?”

“Have a nice dream?” Nightmare tauntingly remarked. Dream didn’t even have the energy to frown at the joke. “You’re supposed to laugh,” Nightmare squeezed at Dream’s jaw, oddly disappointed. Dream frowned, and his brow ridges knitted.

“What did you--” he weakly coughed, reaching for the gunk covering his sockets.

“Nothing you wouldn’t want,” Nightmare fiendishly grinned, gently lowering Dream’s hand.

Dream eyed him suspiciously through the black.

“I...I’m not sure what you’re doing,” Dream rasped, “But...if I think I understand what is it you want, if...if I do it…” Dream paused, the gold tingeing his zygomatics engulfing his maxilla now, “if I let you take me...” A gulp. “Will you leave my soul untouched?”

What in the hell kind of response was that?

Was Dream a virgin?

Nightmare took note to make it a requirement to remedy that suspicion.

But, the thought that innocent Dream hadn’t even considered such an act incited a flutter in Nightmare.

Would he get his wish after all?

Would Nightmare be able to corrupt Dream himself?

“When you love someone, you give them your heart and soul, right?” Nightmare hissed delightedly at the prospect, a toothy smile slowly showing from under the black goop dripping down his face.

“But--”

“Do you love me, Dream?” The barest hint of hesitation flashed through Dream’s furrowed brow before he responded.

“I do--but I won’t. Let you--”

“I find that now is much too late for you to make that sort of decision,” Nightmare cut in, “wouldn’t you agree?”

“N-nightmare--” Dream exhaled, “I’m not stupid. You’re not getting my soul.”

“Then tell me Brother,” Nightmare said mockingly, “if you being here had anything to do with me wanting your soul, then why didn’t I take it from you the moment I caught you?”

Dream’s brow ridge furrowed again.

“I--it doesn’t make any sense but--” he sucked in a breath. “I wouldn’t put it past you to get it by whatever means necessary.”

A slow grin grew into Nightmare’s inquisitive expression.

“You think you know me so well,” he chuckled. “And here I thought you wouldn’t let me touch you the way I am now--” a tentacle slithered to stroke at Dream’s cheek. “--without some encouragement.” Flummoxed, Dream stared at him.

“You can’t--” he protested, as the tentacles around him writhed a moment and interrupted his train of thought. And to Nightmare’s glee, they managed to get a whine out of him.

“It must be,” Nightmare cocked his head and purred, “why, you must also have realized it by now, haven’t you?” Watching the gold of his eyelights shrink from beneath the black covering his sockets was delicious. And Nightmare could practically feel the heat of Dream’s confused arousal.

“N-no,” Dream shook his head in bewilderment, “It’s not--!”

“I’m sure a little more encouragement will change your mind?” Nightmare sneered.

“Wh--” Before he could speak, Nightmare shoved a tentacle into Dream’s parted mouth.

“Don’t worry Dream,” Nightmare grinned smugly, “It won’t hurt. Unless you want it to.” Dream’s muffled cries and weak writhes did little to distract Nightmare from the deepening gold blush all over his face. By now, Dream ought to be piecing together the suggestions Nightmare left for him to find. By now, they ought to be the only thoughts Dream was latching onto.

He had to be, why else would he be so embarrassed?

Deliberately stroking down Dream’s exposed sternum, Nightmare’s free tentacles danced around those thrice-coated bones until they slipped into his pelvis. Obturator foramina are just the right size to allow a malleable substance to stream out, much like one would squeeze paste from a tube. So to watch at least two tentacles shove themselves down Dream was absolutely mesmerizing, and Nightmare made sure to wiggle them around for good measure.

The resulting moans from Dream made it so worth it, and inwardly Nightmare demanded more.

Hooking the tentacles around and through the foramina, Nightmare felt a compulsion to just...bend them a little outward. He heard a terrified huff from Dream as his breathing changed. And alongside it, Nightmare felt him stiffen as his legs fought to kick the invading tentacles away. He heard a hiss, and the grit of teeth against the tentacle in Dream’s mouth.

This was not the body language of someone who enjoyed it.

It was of someone in pain.

And Nightmare felt an exhilarating thrill at the idea. To break Dream now would be a delight, but oh he wasn’t ready for it yet, no. No, Nightmare was all about consent, and unless Dream was begging for Nightmare to punish him himself, he would not hurt Dream otherwise.

Besides, why would he stop his fun now by breaking his toy so soon? Nightmare called away his tentacles and almost instantly Dream returned to a more relaxed state. Well, as relaxed as he could be given his current circumstance. And he pleaded with his covered eyelights forward, in Nightmare’s direction.

Dream was adorable when he was trying to get others to pity him.

The deep gold of his blush absolutely encompassed the entirety of his face, and Nightmare knew Dream wouldn’t be able to hold back much longer. Not if that uncontrollable shivering meant anything.

Chuckling to himself, Nightmare instead let his tentacles stroke at Dream’s pubic symphysis, while the rest wriggled in the open spaces of Dream’s pelvis, climbed up his spine, embraced his ribs.

And they were just short of reaching into his ribcage to flick at the golden soul underneath.

Nightmare witnessed the fear in his brother’s eyelights when the tentacles closest to his ribcage climbed upward like vines. But when they missed their supposed target, he felt Dream lean back in relief.

Confident of his control over the situation, Nightmare smirked.

To consume that beautiful gold soul was another matter that would result in lasting consequences.

To steal it now would hinder any sort of ‘brotherly bonding’ Nightmare planned. And the whole point of this was to enjoy himself.

After all, killing Dream when he was just so delectably at his mercy wouldn’t be much fun now, would it?

He had all the time in his little dimension to play with Dream, and Nightmare vowed to make the most of it.

Nightmare pressed himself so he could feel the rise and fall of Dream’s ribcage as his tentacles had their way with him, so his chin barely touched Dream’s shoulder.

“You love it,” he whispered heatedly in Dream’s acoustic meatus, “don’t you?” The look of him, practically doused in Nightmare’s being and so docile, with the slightest furrow on his exposed brow ridges, was enough for Nightmare to get more than excited.

“The feel of my tentacles on your bones, the feel of me all around you, you love it, don’t you?” He punctuated his words with an intentional thrust inward, making the gold of Dream’s eyelights roll back. ”You need it. You crave it,” Nightmare emphasized, “I am everywhere you are not. I am everywhere you wish me to be. You just need to call for me.” His tentacles stroked Dream lovingly, with precise strokes and smooth ministrations that emphasized his command.

Call for me, Dream,” Nightmare encouraged. “Seek me. Find me. I will come when you beckon. And when you have become desperate for my touch, for my will, I will bring you back to me. We will be together. Just as you’ve wanted. Just like we wanted.

Dream whimpered, as if in agreement.

Who was he to question what was true, after all?

“You are mine, Dream,” Nightmare proclaimed, releasing the tentacle between his teeth. Dream clenched his jaw as if to repress his whimpers without it. “You were always mine.” Black phalanges replaced the tentacle as Nightmare forced Dream’s teeth open and drove his tongue in Dream’s to prove his point. “Say it, Dream,” Nightmare asked of him, substance nearly vibrating with anticipation as he pulled away. “You are mine.”

He needed to hear him say it.

Nightmare needed Dream to admit it aloud. To himself. To Nightmare.

Nightmare was all about consent.

He couldn’t break Dream like he wanted without permission.

He needed Dream to accept his fate.

Say you are mine, he pleaded inwardly, I need to hear you reveal your own truth to me. And touching his brother wherever Nightmare hadn’t already only encouraged his longing. Ignited his desire.

Hungrily, Nightmare kissed him again, teeth clanking in a frenzied attempt to get him to understand how urgent this was, how much Nightmare wanted this.

It felt like the moments stretched to hours when Nightmare felt a tongue beginning to urgently fight his. Nightmare relented, and was finally rewarded with a response that wasn’t another adorable whine or muffled cry.

“I--I’m--” Nightmare slowed the ministrations down noticeably enough to hear a frustrated moan. Just a little more--

Say it…Say it!

Nightmare felt the inevitable clench of magic around his tentacles, and smiled wickedly to himself.

“Yours!” Dream finally cried out, “I’m yours!”

Teeth in a triumphant grin, Nightmare renewed the speed of the tentacles, and was pleased to hear a cry of helpless pleasure.

Finally…Finally!

Mine,” Nightmare declared haggardly, victoriously. “Mine, mine, mine.” His tentacles further emphasized the fact as they rutted feverishly into Dream.

And in a haze, Nightmare drew his teeth to Dream’s clavicle and bit down.

Oh the wail that came from him! Dream had such adorably loud cries when he was unhindered like this, when he allowed himself to let go--

With nothing in between his teeth, a series of nonsense and incoherent noise began babbling from his mouth.

Stars. Dream just fell apart. Like a light, Nightmare would giggle, if he wasn’t so engrossed in getting Dream to scream for him. Or, his name for the matter.

He’d be marvelling at this display, completely awed at how unlike Dream this was.

How…demeaning and enticing Nightmare made him.

Everything was falling into place so perfectly, Nightmare couldn’t have devised something better himself.

And Dream was accepting it now so fully he practically reveled in it.

In what Nightmare was doing to him.

In what he knew they both wanted in the end.

If only Nightmare could say the same for his own poor, weeping cock.

But if the sweat beading atop Dream’s skull, and the rising pitch of his haggard cries meant anything, Dream really was as close as Nightmare was. And it was only a matter of time.

The tentacles holding Dream up lowered him and unceremoniously threw him to the ground. Dream squealed in surprise as the tentacles holding him up soon shifted to holding his wrists back, and ankles apart. The other two still moved within him, but at a slower speed, just enough to quell Dream’s cries as he attempted to turn his head.

“N-nightm--”

“SHUT UP,” he commanded.

Nightmare couldn’t hold back any longer.

Not with his pelvis up in the air like that, not with Dream so deliciously struggling, just begging for him--

For his cock.

“You wanted this, right?” Nightmare ground his teeth testily as he released his glowing teal cock from the confines of his shorts. “Beg for it,” he ordered. “Beg for me.

Dream struggled to turn, to look at him. But Nightmare forced his face into the ground.

“Brother--” Nightmare slapped a hand over his teeth to silence him. Whether by accident or not, Dream’s gold tongue snaked out to unconsciously lick at the dripping phalanges closest to his teeth.

Fuck-- Nightmare needed to regain control--

Beg.” Oh, he felt a clench at the tentacles inside Dream with that command.

Nightmare’s hand retreated enough for Dream to speak.

Please,” he whined, desperately pleading, “please--make me yours--” Oh that voice. That quiver in his plea-- “I need you--I need--

Nightmare had heard enough. A teal eyelight stared hungrily at the squirming skeleton before him.

“Such a greedy boy,” Nightmare teased. “But also a very obedient one.”

“Yes,” Dream hissed distraitly. “I need you Nightmare--” he beseeched, “I’ve always--”

“Have you?” Nightmare humored him, as he rubbed the head of his cock on Dream’s dripping entrance just between the two tentacles wrapped around his obturator foramina.

Always,” Dream affirmed. “I just--” he sighed contentedly as the tentacles lifted his hips at a higher angle and Nightmare slowly entered him. “We can’t, we’re--” A hiss as Nightmare experimentally thrusted. “--s’pposed to be...e-enemies--” He whined breathlessly, and so wholly did Dream break for him that Nightmare wondered if this was what it was like to see stars for the first time.

“We never were Dream,” Nightmare assured him with a chaste kiss to his scapula. “You just lost your way.”

Dream repeated the thought to himself with a confused mutter.

“But--” he asked with a gasp, as Nightmare’s hips gyrated to push his cock in further. “Ink--”

“Shh,” Nightmare hushed him. “Enjoy me while you have me, Dream.” And craning his neck so his teeth heatedly brushed against the crook of Dream’s neck, Nightmare’s voice deepened.

I need you to become all with me.

Dream moaned at his request, and Nightmare felt his pelvis trying to meet him, trying to connect them further. Physically and emotionally wanting him with rapturous devotion.

It was almost sweet, if Nightmare appreciated adorable attempts. But Nightmare was more about power. And consent. Yes, that too.

And everything had come about better than he expected.

Putting off consuming Dream’s soul was a small price to pay to witness the slow corruption of his glistening being.

Nightmare reveled in the thought that when he decided to release Dream from the confines of this pocket dimension, he would more than willingly return to him.

And if Dream didn’t?

Nightmare would come for him.

Nightmare would claim what was rightfully his.

And as Nightmare grunted, and Dream screamed his release, Nightmare knew for certain.

Dream was his. His, his, his.

He would crave for Nightmare as Nightmare did for Dream.

And whenever Dream allowed himself the luxury of seeking him out, Nightmare would welcome him.

It wouldn’t be fair to be indulged and not offer the same.

After all, the two were practically made for each other. They were two halves of the same whole.

It wasn’t worth consuming his soul if it meant Nightmare wouldn’t be able to touch him like this, to feel Dream curl into him as Nightmare lowered himself to meet the floor.

It wouldn’t be if devouring Dream’s soul meant living eternally alone in a world brimming with nothing but chaos and negativity.

Though, the whole point of getting Dream this vulnerable was to get to his soul, Nightmare found he couldn’t bear to do such an underhanded tactic. Not when Dream was in such an exposed, post-coital position.

Not when it felt so right to have Dream next to him again.

There were pieces of this body that still remained, past memories of another next to him. How right they felt. All so peaceful and glowing gold.

Nightmare would get to it eventually, he was sure.

But for now, he had Dream nuzzling close to his chest, and he could feel the beat of his golden soul through the dark substance that Nightmare was made of. His soul was so close--it almost pained Nightmare to be at such a proximity.

How could something so resplendent be allowed to be near such a disgusting being as he?

How could something so pure stand to be near a creature like him?

Only Dream, the Champion of Light and Goodness would even dare think of how Nightmare would feel.

Only Dream would willingly come here to see him--

Only…

Stars, Nightmare longed to claim him again. Longed to feel his dripping substance congeal over those delicate bones-- Longed to taste him--

Nightmare glanced at the glowing gold sparkling from beneath Dream’s ribcage. Barely veiled by that sorry excuse of nylon fabric.

In a way, Dream’s soul was his now. Nightmare could take him as he wished. He could profess dominion over Dream in the name of the tree that bore them so long ago.

And there was nothing in the multiverse that would keep them apart any longer.

Nightmare let a triumphant grin grace his teeth as he pressed a hand atop Dream’s sternum, black dripping phalanges gently sliding until his distal phalanges were between his ribs.

Ever so slowly, he let the black of his phalanges lubricate the inlets between Dream’s ribs and his sternum and watched as the substance descended in drops on top of Dream’s soul.

He wouldn’t take it. No, not yet.

Dream was his.

It only made sense to make it official.

The dark drops sizzled when they came in contact with the glistening membrane of Dream’s soul.

Nightmare grinned maliciously wide.

What was a declaration of ownership without a challenge to match it?