Saturdays are usually quiet, for them. It grows on them, grows and grows until it’s commonplace, and George doesn’t notice it’s become normal until something disrupts the cycle and they have to start all over again.
Every Saturday before this one has been quiet. He’s woken up at midday, he’s finished a book, or read the newspaper, or watches reruns of old soap operas on TV. Because that’s how Saturdays are. Quiet. Dream comes over to play video games, or watch movies, and Sapnap disappears into his bedroom like he’s fed up with everything. And that’s normal.
So when, all of a sudden, Dream and Sapnap take off far too late in the evening, and Quackity and Karl try to reassure George with hurried lies and disappear soon after without a second glance, and no one tells George where they’ve all gone, that’s when he realises their unquiet silence has become the regular. And now that something has interrupted the flow, everything feels topsy turvy, and he curls into the arm of the sofa and tries very hard to ignore the deep dark pit of worry squirrelling its way into his stomach.
No one is answering their phone. It’s not even ringing, going straight to voicemail - all of them. George feels horribly out of the loop, and then he feels horrible for feeling out of the loop. If it’s important, they’ll tell him. He has to trust that they’ll tell him.
He tries not to let it get to him, tries not to think about it. He texts them all, texts Sapnap the most, leaves Dream an angry voicemail and then an apologetic, worried one right after, and sends Karl at least five snapchats, all increasing in urgency. And then, after an hour or two of urgent messages and texts rife with anxiety, he powers his phone off too, in a brief moment of childish frustration.
He tries not to worry too much, knowing it's a lost cause as soon as he starts.
“Do we have to come back here?” Sapnap asks, locking his phone and hurrying to catch up with Dream. “George won’t stop texting, by the way. Can’t we tell him where we are?”
“No,” Dream says sharply. He speeds up again, ignoring Sapnap’s muttered curse as he tries to match his pace. “And yes, we have to come back. I explained this before, we have to make sure they don’t return. Power your phone off, telling George will just put him in danger.”
“But he’s worried -“
“Better worried than dead.”
Sapnap groans, powering his phone off. “They haven’t been back for fifty years, though. We scared them off last time, why do we have to check back? ” He says.
“You think fifty years is a long time?” Dream asks, stopping suddenly. “Fifty years is barely a month to people like us.”
“Then why are we checking every year? That’s like going every day. It’s like going twice a day.”
“Sap,” Dream says, all stern. Sapnap sighs, mumbles out a ‘ fine ’. “Thank you,” Dream says, “Just let me do this, yeah? Time before last, you got turned, and we only just managed to chase them out before anything happened last time.”
“But I’m stronger now! I can fight too, so we’ll be fine,” Sapnap says. Dream starts walking again, heading towards the building that’s become horribly familiar to the both of them. It’s a club now, the conversion happened some time in the mid eighties and it’s hardly changed since.
Sapnap hates the building. It’s where he got turned, where his life stopped and restarted as someone else. It’s also where he met Dream for the first time, so he supposes it’s been something of a blessing in disguise.
“Just because you’re stronger doesn’t mean we’ll be fine,” Dream says. He stares around like he’s paranoid. Really, Sapnap thinks, he probably is. “Karl and Quackity should be here by now.”
“They probably got distracted on the way. Or maybe they’re busy, trying to convince George not to worry,” Sapnap says, “you know what he’s like. I still think we should tell him about all of this.”
“Why not? He’ll understand. And we already protect him, Karl has all those wards put up around our flat. It makes it a real hassle getting the door, though. And it’s not like no one knows who he is. It’s obvious, really, there’s four downworlders fucking around with a human , that’s hardly inconspicuous.”
“We’re not telling him.”
“Just because you have some stupid little crush on my best friend, doesn’t mean we can’t tell him,” Sapnap says, all matter of factly.
Dream splutters. “I do not have a crush-”
“He won’t hate you just because you’re a vampire,” Sapnap continues. “He found those horrible teething rings in the freezer the other day and thought we were both absolutely insane but he doesn’t hate us. Honestly, finding out you’re a vampire might actually make him like you more. He’s probably a freak like that.”
Dream grimaces. “Whatever you say, I don’t have a crush on him.”
Sapnap rolls his eyes. “Yeah, okay. When can I get rid of those teething rings, by the way?”
“As soon as your fangs have come in-”
“They have come in!”
“Properly. They’re not fully grown yet. You’re not fully grown yet,” Dream says. “You can get rid of them once you have proper fangs.”
“But they don’t even hurt. And I do have proper fangs!”
“Your fangs look like you got them from a shitty costume store,” Dream says. “And they don’t hurt yet. I bet you’ll be glad of them in a few months.”
“My fangs do not look like I got them from a shitty costume store!”
A woman dressed in a business suit glowers at them across the street. Dream offers her a polite smile, before turning to stare at Sapnap. “Lower your voice. If someone’s here, you’ll get us caught.”
“No one will be here,” Sapnap says. “Karl and Quackity are coming.”
They are, walking hand in hand along the opposite street. Dream motions for them to cross over, and they do.
Karl glances around like he’s expecting someone to tell them off. “This the place?”
Dream nods, his face going cold. “Yeah.”
“You know, George seems really worried,” Quackity says.
“I knew we should have told him what we were doing,” Sapnap grumbles. Dream fixes him with a stern glare.
“Is everyone ready?” He asks, instead of addressing Sapnap. “This is the first time a fairy and a demon have been on this premises, right? If someone is here, they’ll pick us out almost immediately. And you know how the humans will react to you, especially at this time of night.”
“Yes, Dream, we’re no stranger to the intricacies of human logic versus the supernatural,” Quackity says, bouncing on his toes. “Are we going, then?”
“Be careful,” Dream says. “Remember the plan. Sapnap, stick with me. You two, don’t stray far from each other either. You might draw more attention, but it’s better than being left to fend for yourselves. We’ll do a quick sweep of the property, rendezvous on the roof, and then look closer-”
“We don’t need to hear it a third time, Dream,” Sapnap interrupts. “Come on. I just want to get it over and done with and go home.”
Dream sighs. “Alright. Come on then.”
He leads the way into the club, holding the door open for them all. Karl and Quackity split off as soon as they’re inside, disappearing down the left side of the building. Dream and Sapnap take the right, sticking to the walls.
The layout of the building has changed. There’s new walls, a few more windows, but it’s still obviously the same. Sapnap can see it all, walking past. Where there’s tables now, there used to be a dance floor, covered in girls in pretty dresses and boys spinning them around. Where the bar is, there used to be a band, playing songs that he hasn’t heard in seventy odd years.
He hates it. He hates coming back here, hates seeing it all again. Dream tries not to bring it up, tries not to ever mention how they met. This is the only day of the year that he ever let's Sapnap remember. Dream says there’s no point in missing what he’s already lost, and he supposes Dream would know. He’s lost things for over a millennia.
“You okay?” Dream asks, glancing over his shoulder as Sapnap sidesteps a young woman. She looks far too drunk for her own good.
Sapnap nods, and keeps nodding, because he only has to last so much longer and then they’ll be out of here. The girls bleed into the ones from ninety years ago, flickering in and out right in front of his eyes. He knows Dream can barely remember his own turning; Sapnap can’t decide if he’d rather forget that night - he thinks, sometimes, it’d be nice to never remember it again, but the thought of losing it scares him. There’s so much he doesn’t want to forget.
It’s just over there. The dark corner where everything changed, forever, where a boy had pushed him into a corner and mouthed his way down his neck. It had hardly been appropriate for the two of them to be so close, but under cover of the dark and one too many shots, Sapnap had barely noticed the fangs slowly sheathing themselves in his neck.
It was only until he had stumbled into the bathroom, feeling painfully dizzy and slightly sick, that Dream had found him, explained everything, and taken him home. Sapnap hasn’t ever asked him about that night, not since it happened anyway. He’s not entirely sure he’d like what Dream would tell him.
“Alright,” Dream says, interrupting his thoughts. “We’ll go meet them on the roof. Have you seen anything?” Sapnap shakes his head. Dream makes a face for a fraction of a second, almost like disappointment. “Nevermind. Come on.”
He follows Dream out round to the side of the building. It’s colder, now, and Sapnap can barely stop shivering. There’s no staircase, nor a ladder, up to the roof of the building. It’s two stories, a flat roof, and he can see Quackity and Karl already standing up there, silhouetted against the moon.
Dream surveys the brick work for a few seconds. Sapnap watches him calculate out a path, and he finds himself wishing that Quackity was paying attention so he could magic them up. He hasn’t gotten used to the vampiric strength yet, nor the coordination required for scaling walls like Dream has.
“Mm, got it,” Dream says, catching Sapnap’s attention. “Watch me. Follow my path, okay? You’ll be fine.”
Sapnap nods, hardly daring to speak. He knows it’s irrational, knows it’s just the paranoia, but it feels uncomfortably like someone is watching them.. Dream steps up to the wall, hooking his left hand over the edge of a brick that is only just sticking out. He pulls himself up, pushing against the wall with his toes, His right hand moves to dig into the brick above his head, and before Sapnap can blink, he’s on the rooftop. Dream is tall enough that he can clear it in about three movements.
“Your turn,” he prompts. Sapnap steps up to the wall too, reaching up to hold onto the same brick Dream grabbed.
It takes him about seven steps to pull himself over the top, with half the coordination and even less of the grace Dream managed it in, but the scuffle catches Karl’s attention and he manages to run across in time to catch Sapnap’s arm and pull him over.
“Stop babying him,” Dream reprimands, mostly teasing. There’s a hint of something more serious to his underlying tone, though Sapnap knows it’s only because he’s in ‘business mode’ right now.
“He’s alright,” Karl says, hooking his arm around Sapnap’s shoulder.
“Yeah, I’m alright,” Sapnap repeats, leaning into Karl’s body and taking advantage of the small amount of heat he radiates. Up here, it’s even colder, and he feels shakier than he did on solid ground.
Quackity worms his way under Karl’s other arm, reaching behind his back to brush his fingers against Sapnap’s side. “Did anyone see anything?”
Dream nods. “Yes. Only for a second, but I know there was another vamp there. I could feel him.”
Karl tenses. “Are you sure?”
Sapnap feels the back of his neck tingle. “Do you think it was…?”
“The same one?” Dream finishes for him. “I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised. He looked familiar, but anyone can look like anybody these days. We either need to go back down and find him or wait for him to find us.”
“Which one puts us in a more defensible position?” Quackity asks.
“Waiting,” Dream says, “I think. He’ll want Sapnap, if it is the same one. So we shouldn’t leave him alone.”
“Then we’ll wait here,” Karl says instantly. “If we find him, we’ll have to split up.”
Dream nods. “Exactly.”
“Why will he want me?” Sapnap asks. “This didn’t happen last time.”
“Last time must have been scouting,” Dream says. “That must have been why they ambushed us, they were testing the waters. Now they’ve come back to get you. Because you’re technically his, you know, offspring, he’ll want to ‘raise’ you. Like I’ve been doing.”
“What do you mean, raise him?” Quackity asks.
“He’ll take him, and teach him everything like Dream has been,” Karl answers, “except if he was mad enough to turn someone, he won’t teach it nicely.”
“How do you know?” Sapnap frowns.
Dream nods. “He’s right. Whatever you do, you can’t go back to him.”
“What about George?” Quackity asks. “If he was scouting, then it’s safe to assume people have been watching us every time we come to check out this place. They’ll know about George, and no one’s at home to protect him.”
“The wards’ll hold up until we can get there, if something does happen,” Karl reassures. “And he knows about your secret weapon stash. George is smart enough to know to use one of them.”
Sapnap twists his lips together. “I’m just worried.”
“George will be fine,” Dream says. “It’s you I’m worried about, now. Why has no one come yet? We’re out in the open, unarmed.”
“Maybe they’re waiting for us to go to them,” Quackity suggests.
Karl grimaces. “Whatever we do, we’re not going to them. We don’t even know how many there are.”
Quackity hums. “Do you think they’ll think we’re all vampires?”
“They might think Karl is. They’ll probably pick up on you,” Dream says. He doesn’t sound sure. “I don’t like this.”
“You’re not the only one,” Sapnap says, “I just want to go home.”
The night feels like it’s taken a turn for the worse, Sapnap thinks. The moon suddenly looks more menacing than it did earlier. He’s not sure he likes it.
Dream doesn’t say anything else, takes to skirting around the edge of the rooftop, glaring down at anything and everything. When he’s like this, Sapnap thinks, all sharp edges and stone cold, he’s properly scary. He looks like a real vampire, not the soft child-friendly version that appears every other day of the year.
These nights are the only nights where he’s ever been afraid of Dream.
“Sap,” Dream says suddenly, only a couple of minutes later. He snaps his fingers, beckoning him to hurry over. He does, moving to stand just behind him. Dream points down to the ground, into the window of the building opposite. There’s a light on, and a man standing by the glass. “There. Do you recognise him?”
“I- I can hardly see him,” Sapnap says, gritting his teeth. He barely remembers who turned him, anyway, and doesn’t really want to.
Dream mutters a curse. “Okay. Well, he can see us.”
“And that’s bad,” Dream says, pulling away from the edge and looping back towards Karl and Quackity.
“How bad?” Sapnap asks, jogging to catch up.
“I don’t know yet. Best case, we have five minutes before someone comes up here. Worst, we have less than thirty seconds,” Dream says. “Stay alert. Don’t stray far. And, Sapnap?”
“Make sure you’re always with someone. If this is anything like last time, it’ll be hard and fast and dangerous.”
“My favourite, then,” Quackity says. “I’ll stay with him.”
“You weren’t here last time,” Sapnap says. “Will it really be like that again?”
Dream nods. “Maybe. Maybe worse. Probably worse.”
Sapnap inhales. Exhales. “Okay. We’ll have so much to tell George when he asks why we’re all covered in scrapes and bruises.”
Dream gives him an exasperated kind of smile. “Yeah, we will.”
Sapnap can’t even take another breath before a team of unfamiliar vampires leap onto the roof from the building next door. Quackity pulls him out the way, and Dream moves to stand in front of them. Karl moves behind, guarding their backs.
“You won’t just give him back, will you?” the guy in the front asks. Sapnap assumes he’s the leader, that he’s the one who turned him. It’s a safe bet, given the way his spine tingles when their eyes meet.
Dream glowers. “Never.”
These are blood-thirsty vampires, Sapnap knows. Ones that’ll stop at nothing to get what they want, ones that’ll tear through flesh and bone to find what they’re looking for. It’s the kind of vampire they show on the TV, in the horror movies. Usually, he and Dream will spend an evening making fun of them, but right now he’s never been more afraid. It makes it all the more real, having Dream snarl back at them and Karl tense like he’s ready to tear them to pieces.
Last time, he hadn’t been able to watch Dream fight. He had heard it all, seen the aftermath, collected up the torn fabric of Dream’s shirt, and sidestepped the destruction. He’s not sure how you kill a vampire, but it sounded like Dream knew.
This time, watching Dream practically fly at them alone, sends his heart jumping into his throat. There’s five this time, and they all look stronger than Dream and Karl combined. Strong, but young. Sapnap doubts any of them are much older than he is, really. They all look wild, right down to the bone.
It terrifies him thinking that that could have been him. If Dream hadn’t got to him first, he could be the one with the crazed look in his eyes and blood stained into his teeth.
Sapnap has never been more afraid to be a vampire.
It’s over relatively soon. Sapnap finds himself grateful for that. Dream and Quackity manage to push them all back, chase them out and away - hopefully for longer this time.
They don’t manage it without obtaining any kind of injury, though. Dream has bruises blossoming across his face, and three shallow red scratches pulling down from his eyes. It suits him more than Sapnap wants to admit.
Quackity didn’t escape unscathed either, and Karl has a bruise spreading from his eye where he managed to block an unexpected blow, intended for Sapnap. Really, he thinks, he’s the only one who remained unharmed.
“Are you okay?” Quackity asks, his wings fluttering madly behind him. It’s a nervous tick he’s picked up, Sapnap knows, whenever he’s high on adrenaline or anxious.
Karl nods. “We’re fine. You?”
“I’m alright,” he says. “Did Sapnap get hurt?”
“I’m fine,” Sapnap says.
He sees Dream pacing across the edge of the roof, almost buzzing with frantic energy. He walks over, stopping just a few steps behind him. “Dream?”
Dream stops his pacing. “Yeah?”
“Are you okay?
Dream looks at his feet. “Yeah. I’m fine. Are you?”
“Yeah. Karl got hit once but it should heal pretty fast. You all should,” he says. “We should go back to George soon.”
“Yeah. Let’s go now,” Dream says. “Before anyone else gets to him.”
“What?” Sapnap asks. Dream starts off towards Quackity and Karl, walking faster than Sapnap can. “What do you mean, get to him? Dream!”
“Come on,” Dream announces, “we’re going.”
Quackity frowns at him. “What’s the rush?”
“George,” Dream says, like that explains everything. He turns away, walking towards the edge and dropping down, leaving Sapnap to chase after him. Karl and Quackity will make their own way home.
“Slow down. Just because you’re sickeningly in love with George, doesn’t mean something bad is going to happen to him,” Sapnap says. Dream slows from a run to a fast walk - Sapnap decides not to count blessings.
“How do you know?”
“I’m ninety eight percent sure,” Sapnap offers. “We’ll get home and he’ll be asleep on the couch or something.”
Dream sighs through his nose. “I’d rather not take any chances. Are you going with me or with Karl and Quackity?”
“I’ll go with you,” Sapnap says, “So long as you don’t walk too fast.”
“You need to catch up, then,” Dream says, almost laughing. “Let’s go. I need to get home.”
“Need, huh?” Sapnap says, raising his eyebrows. He giggles at Dream’s exasperated glare. “Sorry. Coming.”
George is, just as Sapnap expected, absolutely one hundred percent fine. There’s no sign of a scuffle around their apartment, or Karl and Quackity’s. George is dozing on the sofa exactly like Sapnap said he would be, and he sends Dream a triumphant grin when they get in.
“See? I knew no one would have eaten him or something,” Sapnap hisses, toeing off his shoes. Dream just glares, fiddling with his coat buttons and undoing the laces on his own shoes.
George shuffles on the sofa, stirring. He sits up slowly, frowning. Sapnap watches with wide, curious eyes. “Where were you all?”
Sapnap snaps his mouth closed, turning to Dream.
“We were… out,” Dream says. He couldn’t sound more suspicious if he tried. “Doing things. Important things.”
“So important you couldn’t tell me where you were going?” George asks. His eyes well up and he sticks his bottom lip out in a pout - Sapnap can’t quite tell if it’s real or not, but Dream seems rather affected by it; if the way his eyes widen and his mouth drops is anything to go by.
“Sap?” George asks, when it’s clear Dream won’t answer. “What happened? Why are people eating me?”
“Sapnap!” Dream scolds.
Sapnap grins. “What? I thought he was asleep, sue me. It’s nothing, George. Go to sleep and this’ll all be a bad dream.”
George sits up, looking more awake now. “No. Tell me. Come on, you all just disappeared and wouldn’t tell me where you went, or answer my texts or anything. I was really worried. The least you can do is explain where you were.”
“We were figh-”
“We were at a club,” Dream cuts in, staring at Sapnap like he can read his mind.
Sapnap nods, deciding to play along. “Yeah. Fighting at a club.”
Dream’s glare suddenly gets sharper.
“Why were you fighting?” George asks. “Are you okay? Where are Karl and Quackity?”
“They’re coming,” Dream says. “Sapnap, shut up.”
“He deserves to know, Dream,” Sapnap says.
“Deserves to know what?”
“We’ve talked about this,” Dream hisses, “and every time, the answer is no. And it’ll always be no. He’ll be in danger.”
Sapnap scoffs. “He’s already in danger. Dream, come on. We need to tell him, might as well be now.”
“What?” George asks, impatiently. “Why am I in danger? What do you need to tell me?”
“Sapnap-” Dream tries.
“We’re vampires,” Sapnap says, before Dream can finish his sentence.
George laughs. “Okay. And now the real explanation?”
“I-... What?” Sapnap falters. “What do you mean, real explanation? That is the real explanation.”
“Vampires aren’t real, Sapnap,” George says, like it's obvious. “So. Real explanation? Why were you really fighting at a club - if that really is what you were doing. You don’t need to lie to me, you know.”
Sapnap opens his mouth like a fish above water. “Um…”
Dream glances from Sapnap to George and back again. “George, he’s not lying. It’s true.”
“How can it be true when vampires aren’t real?” George asks. He frowns, shaking his head slightly. “Are you drunk? Or high, or something?”
“For fuck’s sake,” Dream groans. “Sapnap, this is your fault.”
“How is it my fault?!” Sapnap exclaims, defensively. “You were the one who had the bright fucking idea to go and look for these assholes every year, and not tell anyone where we were going.”
Dream whirls around to glare at him. “I’ve already explained this to you. Aren’t you glad we went this year? After today?”
“Have you both taken something?” George asks, furrowing his eyebrows at them. He looks almost lost, like he barely recognises them. “Do we need to go to the hospital?”
“No,” Dream snaps, “we’re fine, Sapnap is just being ridiculous and acting like he knows best, when he doesn’t.”
Sapnap groans. “I’m not stupid. I know what I’m doing!”
“I’m not saying you’re stupid! I’m saying I know better when it comes to issues like these ones, because I’ve got nine hundred and fucking ten years more experience than you!” Dream snaps, sour and sharp. Sapnap looks at his feet.
“I just… it’s important that George knows, now. Especially now,” he says, quietly, like a surrender. “You know I think that.”
Dream sighs. “I know, I just… He’ll be in more danger.”
“But we’ll be able to protect him better if he knows. Karl won’t have to hide the wards so much.”
“What if other humans notice?” Dream asks, “what then? Do you know how much some people would pay for just a millilitre of our blood?”
“We’re not exactly inconspicuous,” Sapnap says. “We’ve been kind of careless.”
“And this isn’t being careless?”
He shakes his head no. “This is being the right amount of careless to give us the upperhand.”
Dream scoffs. “That hardly makes sense.”
“You know what I mean, though,” Sapnap says smugly, and Dream sighs, relaxing his muscles and slouching.
“So this… isn’t a joke?” George asks, quietly, eyes wide.
Dream shakes his head sympathetically. “No, George, I’m… sorry.”
“Wait till you find out Karl is a demon and Quackity’s a fairy,” Sapnap says, grinning at George’s reaction. Dream glares at him, moving to sit beside George on the sofa.
“Not helping, Sap.”
“Where are Karl and Quackity, though?” George asks, “Were they with you tonight? What were you all doing, really? And are you really… vampires?”
“They’re on their way,” Sapnap says. “Probably got distracted by a cat down an alleyway or something.”
George smiles, looking kind of relieved. “Not much has changed, then.”
Dream smiles, tight and close-lipped. “Not much has changed at all. Even though we are all creatures of the supernatural, and we were just fighting to the death with a bunch of blood hungry vampires.”
“Aren’t all vampires blood hungry?” George asks, naive innocence clouding his eyes. “It’s like, monsters one-oh-one.”
“Well, I mean,” Dream laughs, although it sounds more like a rough grating cough. “Kind of? These were… not good vampires. The ones who turned Sapnap. We were scouting to make sure the site was clear just in case, and they turned up. Things took a turn for the worst - that’s why we were fighting.”
“And it really was at a club,” Sapnap interjects. “Well, on top of one. We can show you.”
“No, we can’t,” Dream says sharply. Sapnap almost complains but Dream speaks over him. “No. Too dangerous. A site recently inhabited by vampires suddenly flooded with a human smell? No way.”
“Oh, come on-”
“No,” Dream says. “And that’s final, Sapnap.”
George grimaces. “That’s okay. I don’t really wanna get up on a roof anyway. Don’t worry.”
Sapnap glares at Dream before the door opens again and Karl looks in. Sapnap lets out an exaggerated sigh. “Thank God you’re here, Dream is being mean again.” He makes it a point to loop his arms around Karl and kiss his cheek theatrically as he passes, and does the same to Quackity when he follows.
Dream groans, leaning back on the couch and glaring at the ceiling. “I’m not being mean, I’m being reasonable.”
Karl laughs. “What are you being mean about?”
“Sapnap wanted to show George the club,” Dream says, “and I said no because it’ll be too dangerous this soon after.”
“I agree,” Karl says, “Dream has a point. Give it a few years, and then maybe we can.” He settles himself on the couch next to Dream, but Quackity lingers in front Sapnap, encouraging him to fold his arms around Q’s shoulders.
“A few years?” George asks, “that long?”
“A year is like a month for a vampire,” Dream explains. “Because we have such long lives, it all passes in the blink of an eye.”
George seems to shrink in on himself. “Oh. So are you- are you all, like, immortal?”
“Well, sort of?” Quackity says. “Fairies can die, but not of natural causes. So unless someone kills me, I’m fine. Dream and Sapnap are pretty much the same, I guess. And ‘cause Karl is more or less a spirit than anything, he’s pretty hard to kill too. So, short answer, yes?”
“Oh,” George mumbles. His eyes drift downwards, tracing shapes in his knees.
“Why?” Dream asks. “Is that a problem?”
“No! Just… you’ll all have to go on without me,” George says. “I’ll grow old and horrible and you’ll all just stay the same.”
Sapnap lets out a breath. “I mean, we could…”
“No way,” Dream says immediately.
“You don’t even know what I was going to say!”
“Sapnap, no,” Karl says. “No.”
“What, Sapnap?” George asks, fixing his eyes on him. “What?”
“It’s not happening,” Dream says. “No way, never, absolutely not.”
“Quackity?” Sapnap says, tucking his chin over Quackity’s shoulder. “Come on, it’s a good idea.”
Quackity bites his lip. “I mean… Sapnap has a point. It would help matters in more ways than one.”
“No!” Dream exclaims, “No. I’m not doing it.”
“I didn’t say you would do it,” Sapnap says.
“I won’t let you turn him,” Dream snaps, standing up from the couch to tower over Sapnap. “I won’t let you do that to him.”
“Turn me?” George asks. “Like… make me a vampire too?”
Deam squeezes his eyes shut. “Yes. That’s what Sapnap is alluding to. But it’s not happening. Not now, not ever.”
“Were you serious?” George asks Sapnap the next day, after Dream has left and Karl and Quackity have gone home. “About… turning me?”
Sapnap bites his lip. “I don’t know. Yeah. Dream doesn’t want you to, though.”
“It’s not Dream’s decision.”
“It’s partly Dream’s decision,” Sapnap corrects. “He’s the one who’ll have to, like, teach us all of this. I’m still learning.”
George sighs. “I guess so. I just don’t want you all to leave me behind. I don’t want to leave you behind.”
“We’d never leave you behind-”
“I’m going to die, one day, Sapnap. And you’re all going to live on past me, forgetting about me,” George says. It’s in a whisper, but it cuts straight through Sapnap. “I don’t want to forget. And I don’t want to die without you.”
“We won’t forget about you, George.”
“You will. Dream said it was like the blink of an eye for vampires,” George says. “I want you to remember me. I want you to turn me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, Sap, I’ve never been so sure of anything in my fucking life.”
Sapnap sighs. “George, I… I’ve never turned anyone before. I’ve barely been a vampire for a hundred years, yet. I wouldn’t trust myself to turn you. And I won’t do it without Dream. We need to talk about this with everyone, properly. It’s a bigger decision than you think.”
“Let me talk to them, okay? I’m… I’m not saying no. Not yet.”
George blinks, slowly. “Okay. Okay.”
“We’ll talk to them,” George agrees. “Thank you.”
“I can tell you about what being a vampire is like, first?” Sapnap offers. “It’s not just blood and being grumpy and overprotective. Dream’s just old - really old, actually.”
George nods. “I’d like that. Thanks. How old?”
“I don’t know the exact number. Says he lost count once he reached the first millennia,” Sapnap giggles. “Ridiculous, right?”
“A millennia?! That’s crazy,” George says. “Is that why he’s so uptight about things, then?”
“Probably. I don’t really know much about how he turned, but he’s really old and he’s lived a lot,” Sapnap explains. “He just cares about us. Being a vampire isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“How did you turn, then?” George asks. “Something to do with those guys you all fought the other day, right?”
Sapnap nods. “Yeah, um. Like I said, it was about ninety years ago now. It was a dancing hall, but they renovated it into a club in the eighties. I was there, and then this guy came up to me asking to dance. And, you know, it was kind of weird back then, right? But I said yes, anyway.
“He took me to the corner furthest away from everyone, and he obviously didn’t know how to dance, right? He was trying to waltz but kept tripping over my feet, I think. Anyway, I was distracted trying not to fall over, and he just kind of… leant in, and it felt almost like he was giving me a hickey, I guess? I assume that’s what it looked like to most other people too.” Sapnap shrugs.
“And then what?”
“Then he bit me. And then he left. I didn’t know what had happened, but I kind of ran to the nearest bathroom all confused, and that’s when Dream saw me. He knew exactly what had happened - I don’t know how - but he followed me and helped me, and we’ve kind of been friends ever since,” Sapnap bites his tongue. “The guys we were fighting yesterday, their leader was the guy who turned me. Dream thinks they’re looking for me, trying to kidnap me or something.”
George frowns. “Why would they want you?”
“Something about vampires being possessive over those they’ve borne? I don’t really know, but since Dream kind of stole me from them, they’ve been trying to steal me back,” Sapnap shrugs. “I’d rather stay with Dream. So that’s why we were fighting. But also to make sure they don’t turn anybody else.”
“Oh. Does being turned hurt?” George asks. Somewhere through the story, George had grabbed Sapnap’s hand and he squeezes it now.
“Not really? It made me feel kind of dizzy and confused, I guess. It’s kind of a euphoric feeling. I don’t know if I remember it right, but it felt really good until the changes,” Sapnap says. “I think it’s different for everyone, though. We all have different bodily make-ups, and every vampire has slightly different venom, you know?”
“That makes sense. How long does it take from start to finish?”
“Well, for me, the inner body change took about two weeks to fully clear up, I think. But it was mostly over in about three days. Dream thinks that it might have taken that long because the guy who turned me had weaker venom, but he’s not really sure. The physical changes are still happening. You remember when you found those stupid teething rings in the freezer?”
“They’re for me. For my fangs. It’s like growing baby teeth - they’re taking forever to come in. Dream and Quackity keep making fun of me for it,” Sapnap says.
“Those were yours?” George asks. “Can I see them?”
“Sure.” Sapnap opens his mouth slightly, baring his teeth and pointing out where the fangs are growing. “See them?”
George nods, his eyes wide. “That’s cool. So, do you drink blood then?”
“We kind of have to. Dream knows a guy, though, so we don’t like, kill people, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Dream has a blood dealer?”
Sapnap snorts. “When you put it like that, then yeah. I guess he does. We get blood bags. It’s not the best, but I guess it’ll do.”
“Have you ever killed a human?” George asks. His eyes are flooded with childlike wonder, Sapnap thinks, wide and curious.
He shakes his head. “No. I don’t know if Dream has either. He doesn’t really talk about it. When he’s teaching, he kind of stops being Dream. You know how he was really protective and kind of jumpy?” Sapnpa asks. George nods. “He’s like that, but ten times worse. He goes into ‘vampire mode’.”
“Is it scary?”
“Not really. Not unless it’s supposed to be,” Sapnap hums, thinking back to the few times he’s seen Dream truly melt into his vampiric side. “You’ll know if he wants you to be scared.”
“Right. Does anyone else know?”
Sapnap shakes his head. “No. You’re the only human who knows, and probably the only one we’ll ever tell. Dream says its too dangerous for you to know, but you’ve been seen with him before. Every downworlder knows not to mess with Dream’s shit.”
“Why are there all those wards and stuff in our flat then?” George asks.
“Because you live with me. I’m a younger vampire, so I’m easier to track and easier to overpower because I don’t know everything yet,” Sapnap explains. “And because I’m so young, and you’re a human, it’s safer for both of us to put the wards up. It makes opening the door really hard, sometimes, though.”
George laughs. “If it’s keeping us safe, then it’s alright with me. So, are all of our friends supernatural or are there other humans?”
Sapnap shakes his head, “Don’t worry. It’s just us four, as far as I know. Dream would probably know better than I do. But we don’t really talk about this stuff to anyone else. Until now, I guess. But I knew we had to tell you soon. Dream knew that too - he’s just worried. He just wants you to be safe.”
“But I’m already safe.”
“Not safe enough for Dream,” Sapnap says, “people have seen you with him, and with me. That makes you a target. If someone tracks you and encounters all the protections over our apartment, you’ll become even more infamous. People will see it as a challenge.”
“Then why haven’t we been challenged yet?”
“Because of Dream,” Sapnap says. “It’s like some dumb unspoken rule that you don’t go near Dream’s territory. Honestly, we were all just waiting for someone to come knocking on our door and for everything to go wrong soon. It’s been smooth sailing for too long. Karl is getting antsy.”
“Oh - right. What about them? I know you and Dream are vampires, but what actually are they?” George asks. “You said fairy and demon - were you actually serious?”
“I was serious,” Sapnap nods. “Karl is a Crossroads Demon if you want to get specific - he makes deals for people’s souls. But he and Quackity are bound together. Quackity is a fairy - although he hates being called one. He uses ‘Fae’ and ‘Fair Folk’ instead. They met when Quackity was trying to be clever and one-up Karl,” Sapnap giggles, “obviously, it didn’t work. I don’t know the specifics. But you’ve seen how they are.”
George makes a face. “Yeah. I could do without seeing that.”
“Totally. Anything else?”
George shrugs. “I don’t really know. I don’t know what sort of questions I should be asking. It feels kind of like I’ve been thrown off in the deep end.”
“You and me both,” Sapnap says. “But you know, if you think of anything else, feel free to ask. I am your best friend. I don’t want that to stop just because of this.”
“‘Course not,” George says, like he’s surprised Sapnap thought it would. “How many people get to say they’re best friends with a vampire? I’m not going to pass up that opportunity.”
Sapnap laughs. “You better not go spreading this around, though. Dream really would kill you then.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” George says. “Your secrets are safe with me. It does make sense that you’re vampires, though.”
“Yeah. The two of you never really ate consistent meals, you rarely ate when I was around, your sleeping schedules are all out of whack -”
“Like yours isn’t,” Sapnap interrupts.
“- And you both rarely go out,” George finishes. “And when you do, it’s at night. Once you know, it’s quite obvious.”
“I guess so,” Sapnap says. “I never really thought about it.”
“It’s probably more obvious when you’re on the other side,” George says. “Thanks for not sucking up my blood in my sleep.”
Sapnap rolls his eyes. “Yeah, it was real hard to resist that temptation. I wouldn’t have lived with you if I didn’t think I could resist, stupid. Like Dream said, we’re not all blood-hungry. And even if we are, it’s not all the time.”
“You really wouldn’t have moved in with me if you didn’t think you could take it?”
“Well, obviously not. Like I said, you’re my best friend. I don’t want to lose you ‘cause I made a stupid mistake,” Sapnap says. “Although, I’ll admit. That time you dropped the beer bottle and stood in the glass by accident? That was really hard to resist.”
George scoffs. “Sorry. I’ll try to bleed less.”
Sapnap laughs, knocking their shoulders together. “I’m glad this hasn’t changed anything,” he murmurs, after a few minutes of comfortable silence.
George nods, leaning slightly closer to him. “Me too.”
The sky is just getting dark when Sapnap lets himself into Karl and Quackity’s apartment. They’re sitting curled up together on the couch, watching something on the television - Sapnap doesn’t recognise it, but there’s a lot of blood and Karl hurries to turn it off.
“Hey,” Quackity says, peering over the back of the sofa. “You don’t normally come round this late. Did something happen?”
Sapnap shakes his head, “Not really.” He climbs over the back to settle in between the two of them, leaning his head on Karl’s shoulder. Karl presses an absent-minded kiss to his forehead. “I don’t really know what to do. George wants to be turned. And I know Dream will never let him, but I get why he wants to.”
“I don’t think we should,” Karl says against his hair. “It’s irresponsible, and it’s a decision that he will never come back from.”
“I know,” Sapnap sighs. “He says it’s because he doesn’t want to die before us. He doesn’t want to forget us and us to forget him. I told him we could talk about it before making any decision.”
“But you’ve already decided, haven’t you?” Quackity says.
“I… yeah. I think I have.”
“What are you going to do?” Karl asks, even though Sapnap is sure he already knows.
“I want to turn him,” Sapnap says. “I want to.”
Karl smiles, tight and closed-lipped. “Yeah. We should talk to Dream about it.”
“He’ll just say no,” Sapnap says sullenly.
“We can’t do it without Dream there, Sapnap, you know that. As mature as you might be, you’re still young and if we do it, it could go all kinds of wrong,” Karl says. “And Dream would want to be there whether he agrees with it or not.”
“Why doesn’t Dream want to turn George, anyway?” Quackity asks. “I’d have honestly thought he’d be all for it.”
“It’s because he hates being a vampire,” Sapnap says, “At least, that’s what I think. Haven’t you noticed how he tries to distance himself from vampirism as much as he can? Except for the other night, and the whole blood thing, I guess.”
“But not everyone will hate being a vampire,” Quackity says.
“I know. I don’t hate being a vampire, and my choice was taken from me. I guess everyone will react to it differently. I don’t know much about Dream’s turning,” she says. “But George will have a choice, and he’s choosing this, so it’s not like we’ll force him.”
“Has Dream ever told you anything about his life before meeting you?” Karl asks. “Maybe that’s something to do with it.”
“Not really. He just says he doesn’t remember, or would prefer not to think about it. But we don’t really talk about stuff like that. We rarely talk about my own turning.”
Karl hums. “Would you like to talk about it with him?”
“Maybe. He just doesn’t seem comfortable with it,” Sapnap says, “with vampire stuff in general.”
“And you’re comfortable with it?” Quackity asks.
“As much as I can be. Maybe it’s because I’m so much younger than him. I haven’t had a chance to learn how to hate it yet,” Sapnap chuckles, dry and without really meaning it. “Maybe we should find a vampire therapist or something, he could probably do with it.”
Karl laughs too. “Maybe. Have you ever heard of a vampire therapist?”
“No, but there has to be one out there, doesn’t there?” Sapnap says. “I don’t really know how many vampires there are here, but there has to be more than we expect.”
“How many do you expect there to be?” Quackity asks. “Only about one percent of the population is supernatural, you know. It’s not that common.”
“How do you know that? Is it true?” Sapnap asks.
Quackity shrugs. “It’s what the Fae say, what I’ve picked up across the years. We’re quite knowledgeable when it comes down to it.”
“Yeah, we know, you huge nerd,” Karl says, reaching over to prod at Quackity’s forehead.
“Yeah, okay,” Quackity says. “You’re the only one who speaks Latin here. A dead language, might I remind you.”
Sapnap chuckles. “You’re both pretty nerdy, if I’m honest. Especially in comparison to me.”
Karl and Quackity both fix him with a very unimpressed stare.”Alright, Sapnap,” Karl says, “we’ll humour you for tonight.”
“Ouch,” Sapnap says.
“I do worry about Dream sometimes,” Quackity says, after a minute of silence. “He seems very lonely, doesn’t he? A vampire therapist isn’t such a bad idea. He might actually need one.”
“I think he’s just old,” Sapnap says. “He feels like no one can relate to him because we’re all so much younger.”
“Hey, I’m pretty old,” Karl says. “Maybe I’ll talk to him.”
“You think you’re as old as he is?” Sapnap says, doubtfully.
“I’m a lot older than you think I am,” Karl says, wiggling his eyebrows. “He’s probably really lonely. All of his friends and family must have died out ages ago.”
“We’re his family now,” Sapnap murmurs, quiet in the darkness. “I just wish he’d let us be.”
George sighs, swallowing down his nerves and fiddling with the cuff of his sweater. He doesn’t know why he’s so nervous, but something about standing outside of Dream’s apartment has launched his heart into his stomach and his throat and started it bouncing back and forth. He has to do this, though, if only for his own peace of mind. He lifts his hand to knock on the door, pulling his sleeves over his knuckles.
Dream answers before he can touch the door, looking exhausted and frustrated and hungry.
“George? What are you doing here?”
“Can’t I come to hang out with my best friends?” George asks. “I just wanted to, um, talk to you.”
“About what? Come on,” Dream asks, leading him into the kitchen area. “Do you want something to drink? Have you eaten?”
“No, I uh... Sapnap cooked. I’ll eat later. Listen…” George swallows. No time like the present. “Sapnap and I were talking about, um, your thing . And I decided that I want you to turn me.”
Dream freezes. “What.”
“I want you to turn me.”
“I heard what you said. You were there the other day, don’t you remember? The answer is no, George,” Dream says. “I’m not doing it. I won’t do it.”
“Then I’ll get Sapnap to,” George says. “You’re not the only vampire I know.”
“No. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, George” Dream says, voice sharp and harsh. Rougher than George has ever heard it. He tries not to flinch away. Dream gestures down his body, “This? It isn’t as good as the movies make it seem. It’s dangerous, it’s painful, you have to say goodbye to your entire life, lose everyone you’ve ever met, for nothing in return. Your entire being changed, your centre of gravity is disrupted. It’s not good. It’s not something you can switch on and off. You just don’t understand.”
“Then help me understand,” George says, pleading. “You say you lose your entire life, but I don’t want to lose my friends. I don’t want my friends to lose me.”
“That’s a nice sentiment,” Dream scoffs. “But that’s just what happens. You’ll grow old, and you’ll live well, and then you can forget about us. You’ll hate it, hate being a vampire. You can’t turn back from this decision, George. You make it once, and you don’t get to make it again,” Dream sighs through his teeth. “I won’t turn you. I couldn’t do that to you.”
“But I want it. I’m choosing this,” George says. “I want this, Dream. I know it.”
“I can’t sign your life away for you. I can’t do that, to you or to me,” Dream says. He looks down, staring at the counter. Avoiding George’s eye.
“Why not ?! I want this. I know I want this. I’m sure.”
“Because I won’t hurt you like that!” Dream clenches his fists. “Because I… I- I don’t want you to have this kind of life. It’s not for you.”
“What do you mean it’s not for me? What is that supposed to mean?” George asks. “If you don’t want to turn me then I’ll find someone who will.”
Dream groans. “No. You’re too good for this. Don’t- don’t find someone else. I wouldn’t trust them with you. It’s unsafe. We’re not turning you, George.”
“Please, Dream. I’m already unsafe enough as it is.”
“I won’t turn you,” Dream says, shortly. “That’s final.”
“Give me a reason, then. A good one,” George demands. The kitchen seems to breathe for a minute - in and out with him, the calm before the storm.
Dream breathes in. There is a long, painful silence. “Because I love you,” he whispers finally, nervously, quietly. George's heart beats. “I love you.”
The kitchen breathes out. “Do you… do you mean that?”
Dream squeezes his eyes shut. “I couldn’t lie if I tried to. Not to you.”
“Is that why you won’t turn me? Because you… because you love me?” George asks, quiet. Like anything too loud will tear down the walls, because these are words that aren’t supposed to be shouted. They’re words that no one else is supposed to hear.
“Yes,” Dream says, “No. Part of it. I don’t want you to be a part of this life, George. It’s dangerous, and- and scary. And it’s not right. It’s… you don’t belong in it.”
“You’re afraid,” George realises, breathing the accusation into being. “Aren’t you? You’re afraid of… me? Of what’ll happen if you turn me.”
“How could I not be? I’m always afraid for you. You don’t know what it's like out there, for us. It’s more than just… super strength and drinking blood,” Dream sighs, burying his face in his hands. “You’re better than that.”
“I want it, though,” George says. “Please. I want this. I want you . I don’t want to live without any of you.”
“I don’t want this for you, though,” Dream tells him. He sounds agitated. “You deserve more than whatever this is. You always will.”
George watches his shoulders move. “I love you. I don’t want to forget about you. I don’t want you to forget about me.”
“I couldn’t ever forget about you,” Dream breathes. “But I don’t want to take your choice away. I don’t… I can’t.”
“You’re not taking my choice, Dream. I’m choosing this. I want this, I know I do.”
There’s an age of silence, and the world shrinks until all that George sees is Dream. “Do you really love me?” Dream asks, an old sort of innocence dripping from his words.
George reaches over to cup his cheek. “Yes,” he says, and, “always.”
He feels Dream swallow, watches him look down and then up once more. Slow. Methodical. “Okay,” he whispers, words brushing over his lips like he isn’t sure how to say it. “Okay.”
George: he said yes
George: also we’re dating now lmao
George: come to dreams this evening, bring karl and quackity.
George: we’ll explain everything
Sapnap: wait what
George: come to dreams bring karl and quackity we’ll explain
Sapnap: ill let them know
Sapnap: how did u even get him to agree
George: he told me he loved me
George: and now we’re dating
George: thats how
Sapnap: was it really that easy
George: sort of
George: he was just scared
Sapnap: how did u get him to open up ive been trying for ninety fucking years
George: idk i just guessed lol
Sapnap: you’re a goddamned vampire whisper.
“Should we talk about this?” Dream asks.
He speaks quietly, as if he’s unsure whether George wants to hear his words or not. George presses himself closer to Dream, connecting their bodies until there’s hardly a gap between them.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Dream scoffs. He doesn’t look at George. “No.”
“Then let’s not,” George says. “Let’s talk about something else.”
“Tell me about your life.”
Dream sighs. In the quiet of the dark, he sounds more heartbroken than George has ever heard him. “Which one?”
George doesn’t know what to say to that. “None of us know anything about you. Tell me something.”
“You know plenty about me.”
“Nothing that matters.”
“Everything that matters.”
George shakes his head, pressing his nose into Dream’s collarbone. “That’s not true. Tell me something new.”
Dream kisses the crown of his head, breathing into his scalp. “What do you want to know?”
“Everything about you. Anything.”
“We’ll have a forever,” Dream says. “Soon, we’ll have an entire future to learn about each other.”
“Tell me something. Tell me about your past.”
Dream sighs. “I have too much past. It’s not that interesting.”
“Tell me anyway,” George says. He pushes closely, right to the edge, waiting for Dream to roll over and ignore him for the rest of the evening.
“I had my first kiss the day after I got turned,” Dream says eventually. “There was this girl, I knew she was in love with me from the first time I saw her. I didn’t have to be a vampire to smell how her heart sped up whenever I got close.”
“Did you love her back?”
“No,” Dream scoffs, but his voice is thick. “I was barely twenty, bitten and abandoned by a stranger. I didn’t know what was going on, I thought I was dying. When she found me, just lying in a dried up river, I thought she was going to kill me. She had a dagger on her hip, and I thought she was going to use it.
“I don’t know what I would have done if she did. I doubt it would have killed me. But she left me alive. She sat me up against the banks and leaned in and kissed me. I would have thought it was the greatest day of my life if it had been any other day.”
“What happened to her?” George asks. He doesn’t know if Dream will tell him, doesn’t know if he’ll even want to know the answer.
“She died,” Dream says shortly. “A week later. She was found in the town centre, throat torn out and pale. Drained of blood, like someone was mocking me.” He laughs like it’s funny, but grimaces like he’s crying.
George pauses. He feels Dream’s grief like a pain inside his own heart. “I’m sorry, Dream.”
“This is what you have to understand,” Dream says. Here, his voice becomes desperate, “Please. You have to understand. I can’t do this to you. I can’t kill you like this.”
He blinks thick tears from his eyes. George reaches for him, curls his fingers around Dream’s forearm and squeezes.
“I want this, Dream,” he says, “I promise. I want you . I’ve never wanted anything more.”
Dream’s voice shakes. “I don’t know if I can.” He heaves in breath like it’s choking him, like George has torn down all of the walls he’s so carefully maintained. “I don’t know if I can. ”
Sapnap arrives as soon as the sun sets, followed closely by Karl and Quackity. They all bundle inside Dream’s apartment, crowding in the hallway. Sapnap pulls George to the side, scouring his gaze over George’s body.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Sapnap starts to lift the hem of George’s shirt. “I’m making sure he hasn’t hurt you.”
George pushes his hand away, grinning despite himself. “Go away. I’m fine. Dream wouldn’t hurt me.”
“Yeah, well, you can never be too sure, can you?” Sapnap says. He leaves George alone though, making his way into the sitting room, followed by Karl and Quackity. “So what happened? I was promised an explanation.”
George laughs, lingering in the doorway for a moment before moving to sit pressed up next to Dream. “Yeah, so. Dream’s decided he’s going to turn me.”
“That was easy,” Karl comments, “Really?”
Dream nods. “As much as I hate it, yes.”
“When?” Sapnap asks. “Soon?”
George nods eagerly. “Yeah-”
“No,” Dream interrupts. “Not yet.”
“Give it a year,” he continues. George falters. “Let me have a year of living normally with you. A year of loving you normally, and then I’ll do whatever you want, okay?”
“That is kinda fair,” Karl says. “You might change your mind by then, George.”
“I won’t change my mind,” George says, quickly.
Quackity nods, frowning almost sympathetically. “Dream does have a point. Give it a year. A year is fair.”
George slumps against the couch. “Really?”
“I won’t do it otherwise,” Dream says. He curls their fingers together, holding tightly. “Let me have this, George, please.”
“Sapnap?” George asks.
Sapnap smiles sympathetically. “Let him have a year. It is fair.”
George sighs. “Fine. If I have to.”
“Thank you,” Dream says. He nudges his toe into George’s shin. “You know, this year will fly by. Maybe you’ll want to wait even longer.”
George makes a face. “I don’t think so. I want to spend forever with you. I know I do.”
“Are you sure about that?” Sapnap asks. “I’ve been around him for ninety, and it’s already been far too many.”
George gives him a withering glare. “Shut up, Sapnap.”
“He’s got a point,” Quackity says, “you’re like, getting married. No, this is worse than getting married. If you two break up, who gets the vampires in the divorce?”
Karl laughs, loudly and distractingly enough that it takes up all of Sapnap and Quackity’s attention. It leaves George free to sigh and hook his chin over Dream’s shoulder, pressing his lips against where his pulse would be thrumming. If he concentrates, he imagines he can feel Dream’s heart beating under his fingertips.
“What are you doing?” Dream murmurs.
He hums, “nothing,” and watches the way his breath ruffles the hair at the back of Dream’s neck.
“Nothing?” Dream says, ducking his head down to kiss the top of George’s. “Seems to me like you’re trying to find my pulse.”
“No, I’m not,” George says. His chin is still tucked into the crook between Dream’s neck and his shoulder.
“You won’t have much luck,” Dream says, like George should know this. George just shrugs, pronounced enough that he’s sure Dream will feel the movement of his shoulders even if he doesn’t see it.
“Can’t I try?”
Dream shakes his head. “You won’t turn me human.”
“I’m not trying to,” George says, pressing his words into Dream’s skin, into the tendons in his neck, into the divots of his collarbones. “I just want you to remember that you’re not the monster that you think you are.”
Dream is quiet for a long, long time. The moment passes. George inhales the emptiness of Dream’s arteries and bleeds for him.
“They’re worried about you, you know,” Karl says softly.
Dream looks up. It’s late; they’d all stayed over at his apartment. Sapnap and Quackity had commandeered the sofa, and George had retired to his bedroom reluctantly, like he was afraid to miss out. Dream had left Sapnap and Quackity fiddling with the TV remote and disappeared to his kitchen, waiting for one of them to follow him.
He’s glad it was Karl.
“Are they?” he replies, deliberately pedantic and nonchalant, like he doesn’t care but he really, really does.
Karl leans against the sink, folds his arms. He’s four inches shorter than Dream is, but looking at him now, he’s never felt smaller.
He knows Karl is powerful, and old. Like he is. He’s just never really realised how old. Dream wonders, for a moment, if Karl has lost more than he has.
“You freeze us out,” Karl says, gently, like he isn’t trying to hurt him. “You don’t tell us anything. We barely know anything about you. Even Sapnap. You’ve known him for, what, ninety years? He hardly knows you.”
“And he’s still here. I don’t know what you’re trying to do here, Karl.”
“I’m just trying to say,” Karl says, tentatively, “that if you ever need someone to talk to, or to relate to, you can talk to me. Not many people will remember the fall of the Byzantine Empire, you know? But I will.”
Dream falters. “Byzantine? You really remember that?”
Karl shrugs. Dream can’t tell if he’s agreeing. “Some days I do.”
“Some days I don’t.”
Dream laughs a half-laugh. “Were you there?”
Karl nods slowly. “Sometimes I was. More than one emperor tried to make a deal with me.”
“Did you ever take them?”
“Some of them,” Karl says, “the ones that were worth it at the time.”
“Any names I’d recognise?” Dream asks. It’s weird to be talking like this, like it happened yesterday. He knows he could never mention it to Sapnap - he doesn’t know anything about anything before the First World War - and he doubts Quackity would listen for very long, either. But Karl seems willing to indulge in the past. He seems like he wants to.
“Probably,” Karl says, with a sly sort of grin, “but that would be telling.”
Dream smiles at him, ducks his head down. Silence falls, for a moment.
“I saw you once,” Karl says, after a minute. He says it quietly, like he’s trying to make sure Quackity and Sapnap don’t hear him. “Around 1204. You were at the crusades in Constantinople, weren’t you?”
“What sort of vampire would I be if I didn’t take any opportunity to attack the Christian church?” Dream says. It’s halfway to a joke, but Karl doesn’t laugh, and it falls flat. He sighs. “I was there. I fought. Crusaded. Did you?”
“I watched,” Karl says. “I can’t involve myself in human affairs unless they summon me.”
“One could debate on the humanity of it all,” Dream says. Karl makes a face like he agrees. “Why didn’t you come up to me? There were hardly any supernatural creatures at large in those days.”
“That’s why I didn’t say anything,” Karl replies, “I saw you, and I knew what you were, but I couldn’t let myself approach. I didn’t know if you knew what you were.”
“How could I not?” Dream scoffs. “Vampirism isn’t the most subtle affliction.”
“You must have been good at controlling it, then. Must have been a few hundred years old, at least,” Karl says.
“I was born into the Roman Empire,” Dream says, “raised as a soldier. I was bitten in the eighth century, and I never went back after that. There weren’t many vampires around, but I… I knew enough to know I couldn’t be around humans for a while.”
“How did you know about it?” Karl asks, curiously.
“People talked,” Dream says, shrugging. He leans against the countertop opposite the sink, settling into the discussion. It feels like he’s slowly unlocking all of the chains around his chest. “They gossipped. It was a small village. When the murders started, it shocked everyone. And then people started going missing.”
“Rumours?” Karl guesses. He’s right. Dream grimaces at the memory of them.
“Amongst other things. I never put any stock in it until it happened,” he says. The words feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar on his tongue: it’s been so long since he’s talked about this to anyone, since he’s let himself remember everything properly. “I wonder what things would have been liked if it hadn’t.”
“You’d have died of sepsis before your twentieth birthday,” Karl says, matter of factly. “And then where would we be? Sapnap wouldn’t have met you that night at the club, I wouldn’t have met you, we wouldn’t have found Quackity… George might not know any of us at all.”
Dream hates that thought the most. He’s halfway through choking his heart back down his throat when Karl speaks again.
“Are you sure about turning him?”
“No,” is easy to say. Maybe it comes out harsher and stronger than he expected, but Karl doesn’t seem phased. “I don’t think I’ll ever be,” is harder.
He sighs, heavily enough that Dream hears it across the kitchen. “Why not?”
“Let’s not talk about this.”
“I think we should,” Karl says. He doesn’t cross his arms, but he does stare Dream down. He’s not one to be intimidated, but somehow Karl manages.
“I don’t think so,” he says again. It’s a fool’s errand with the way Karl stares at him expectantly. Dream huffs. “Who taught you to glare like that?”
“A Naval Officer,” Karl says, and he can’t quite tell if he’s telling the truth or not, “in the middle of the Napoleonic War. Who taught you how to glare?”
“Mad King George,” Dream says, and it’s a lie and obviously so, but it makes Karl laugh and cracks the tension like ice.
“You weren’t in England then,” Karl tells him, like he really and truly knows.
“How do you know?” Dream asks, furrowing his brow. Karl has had over a millenia of practice when it comes to sarcasm, but he sounds genuine now.
He bites his tongue. “I was following you,” he says, almost unashamed. “Through to the sixteenth century.”
“You interest me,” he explains, “I’ve never met a vampire as old as you, and when I first saw you in Constantinople, and then again in New Amsterdam, I knew you would be someone I would come to know.”
“Why didn’t you talk to me sooner, then?” Dream asks. He wonders how long he could have known Karl for, if they really had met during the crusades. He wonders how much would have been different, if things would have gone better.
“I told you, I wasn’t sure I could,” Karl says. He sounds about as torn up about it as Dream feels. “But I was there. I saw you. I was there.”
“I never saw you,” Dream says, because he didn’t. He would have known, he would have recognised Karl.
Karl shakes his head, “of course you didn’t. I wouldn’t let you. I didn’t want to get close to you only to have to leave again. You know better than most people how awful saying goodbye is.”
“You don’t have to tell me that,” Dream says. He feels the memories of years of loss and grief and mourning bubble up in the back of his throat, sour and acrid and painful.
“Which confuses me,” Karl says, almost tentatively, like he isn’t sure quite how Dream will react to his words. “You seem so ready to say goodbye to George.”
Dream feels his face fall. He knows, if he still had a heart that beat truly, it would have stopped. He doesn’t want to talk about this. “What do you mean by that?”
He hears Karl swallow. For all their inhumanity, he seems incredibly devoted to appearing human. “You’re nervous about turning him. You don’t want to turn him, you haven’t kept that quiet. It’s like you wanna leave him behind.”
“I don’t wanna-”
“His lifetime is a year for you,” Karl continues, and his words are true enough for all they hurt. “It’ll be over before you know it. And then he’ll die. You’ll hold his hand on his deathbed, maybe. He’ll be old. You’ll be young. Do you really think you could do it?”
“If it meant he got to live fully?” Dream says, “Yes. I would do anything.”
“You think you’d be killing him.”
Dream scoffs, “of course I’d be killing him. I don’t want his blood on my hands, Karl. I can’t do that to him. I can’t do that to myself. I can’t tear his life away.”
“He wants you to,” Karl says.
“And it’s killing me.”
Karl blinks slowly. It’s like he’s looking through a hundred astral planes, seeing Dream for everything he is. Seeing things that even Dream can’t see about himself. “If you turned him, you would never have to say goodbye. He would live forever. You would live forever. Don’t you want that?”
“Of course I want that,” Dream says. His truths are contradicting, and he feels them pulling his ribcage in two. “Of course I do. But he’s blind. He loves me. He loves us. He thinks he wants this because he doesn’t want to be left behind or forgotten.”
“It’s a reasonable concern,” Karl says.
“For a human.”
“Well, sure,” he says, “for a human. But would you really remember him? Forever? One day, there’ll be more girls, and more boys. More people. Have you ever been in love before?”
Karl shrugs. He says, “I’m just wondering if you’d ever fall in love again.”
“Stop speaking in riddles,” Dream says, and it’s dangerously close to a snap. He can’t tell if Karl is doing it deliberately, pushing him to the edge and trying to knock him past it on purpose.
“Okay,” Karl says, “Okay. You live out George’s life with him. He lives to eighty. Ninety, even. He never marries. Never has kids. Never does anything like that, because he spends his entire life chasing after you. After us. Because that’s what he wants.
“Or, he decides that we’re not worth waiting around for. If you never change your mind on this, then he’ll cut his losses, you know?” Karl says it like it’s obvious, like it’s matter of fact, like Dream should already know this. Maybe he already does; maybe he’s dipped his toe into this pit and decided it’s just too deep.
“So you’d rather string him along, for the rest of his life?” Karl says. “You’d make him wait for you, in vain, probably. Having to watch himself get weak, while we all stay young and strong forever. When we have to lock him in a nursing home, who’s going to throw away the key?”
“You’re being cruel.”
“I’m being honest.”
“Aren’t they the same?” Dream says, almost hopelessly. “A thousand years of life has taught me that much, at least.”
“You could let him live as a vampire or watch him die as a human,” Karl says. “Which one could you really choose?”
Dream shakes his head. “I don’t know what you’re asking me.”
“I’m asking if you could sit by his bedside as he forgets all about us,” he says, “if you could watch him resent us. If you could do nothing as he leaves us. You could open the doors to immortality for him at any moment. And none of us like goodbyes.”
Dream opens his mouth, waiting for words to come out. None of them do.
Karl sighs, “just some food for thought, I guess. You should come to terms with something, though. George deserves that, at least.”
He leaves, and it’s uneventful. Dream leans against the countertop and watches as Karl settles back in with Quackity and Sapnap on the couch. If he focuses, he can hear the soft rushing of George’s bloodstream in his bedroom. He’s so close. Dream has never felt further away.
George wakes up tangled in Dream’s arms, in Dream’s sheets, feeling absolutely like he belongs there and nowhere else. He relishes in it, in the heavy weight of Dream’s arm around his waist and the warm feeling it settles in his stomach. He’s not actually sure that Dream properly sleeps - he more lies down and closes his eyes, but he’s awful good at pretending to.
Like now. His breathing is perfectly regular and deep, and his face is relaxed. George lets his eyes rove over it, picking out the few impurities he has. George lifts his hand, tracing his fingers over Dream’s cheek. He watches the corner of his mouth turn up.
“I know you’re awake,” he says.
Dream blinks his eyes open, looking almost guilty to have been caught. “Sorry. I don’t usually sleep.”
“You’re good at pretending to,” George says. “Scary good.”
“That’s what a thousand years of practice does.”
“Did you always pretend to sleep?”
Dream hums. He looks tired. George hadn’t ever really realised it, but now when he looks into his eyes, all he can see is time in them. “Not for the first few centuries. But by then, I started socialising with humans again, so I kind of had to learn.”
“Will I have to learn?”
“If you want to. But if you’re just going to stay with us for the most part, then I doubt it’ll matter. None of us sleep, much. Karl and Quackity can , if they really want to, but they don’t need it the way humans do,” Dream says.
“Oh,” George says. “So I’m the only one who sleeps?” He feels almost left out, and he hates it. Hates that he feels this way around the people he loves most.
“Yeah,” Dream says. He sounds nervous. “Is… is that a problem?”
“No! Not really. I mean…” he trails off. “I guess I just feel a bit out of the loop. That’s all.”
Dream frowns. “I’m sorry. We never meant to make you feel left out, you know? It was… it was my idea, not telling you. I thought you’d be safer not knowing. Sapnap kept telling me to tell you, kept telling me that I was wrong, but I was just afraid.”
“He mentioned that,” George says. “I’m not mad at you or anything. I get it.” He pauses to sit up slightly, unsure what to say. “I guess, there was just a part of me that kept wondering if I was really good enough to tell.”
Dream’s face falls. “I never meant to make you feel like that. It was probably unnecessary, the lengths I went to to make sure you wouldn’t find out. I was just… scared. I’ve lost people to this before. I didn’t want that to happen to you, too.”
“What do you mean, lost people?” George asks. He feels vulnerable, here, with Dream. Like everything is fragile, and he’s throwing rocks at glass houses.
His eyes darken. “Back when I was younger. And more reckless. And I didn’t know as much. I fell in love too quickly, and I didn’t care who I hurt doing it. This isn’t beautiful, not the way you think it is.”
“I don’t expect it to be,” George says, frowning. “I don’t think I care what it is or isn’t. As long as it’s you.”
“Won’t you regret that?”
“I don’t think so. Will you tell me more?”
“More about what?” Dream asks.
“About all of it,” George says, “about you. About being a vampire. All of it. I want to know all of it.”
“Even the worst parts?”
“Especially those,” George says. He can feel Dream’s reluctance, his fear, stiff as a board against him. “I’m not afraid of you, Dream. I don’t think I ever could be.”
He scoffs, “really? ‘Cause Sapnap is, you know. I see it in his eyes, when he looks at me and he doesn’t know who looks back at him. I’m sure he’s told you.”
“He’s mentioned it.”
“Exactly,” Dream says, scathingly. “He couldn’t die, he barely hurts, he’s young and strong enough that he really could fight me off if he wanted to, but he’s still scared. I terrify him.”
George frowns, “are you sure he’s afraid of you ?”
“What else would it be?” Dream says. He talks expectantly, like he’s laying it all out and waiting for George to finish his puzzle.
“Maybe he’s just afraid because of the last vampires he met. Because they weren’t as nice as you’ve been,” George says, “or he’s afraid for you, pushing yourself away from us and staying away.”
“I’m not staying away from you.”
“Not deliberately,” George allows, “but you couldn’t be faulted for doing it accidentally.”
Dream grimaces. He shuffles behind George, like he wants to leave and not talk about this at all. “Why do you all think I pull away from you?”
“Because you do.”
George sighs, “you don’t tell us anything. Even before this, I didn’t know who your parents were, or if you had pets as a kid, or where you went to school. What your favourite animal is, if you can speak any languages. I still don’t.”
“Are those the sort of things you want to know about?” Dream says, “because I don’t remember my parents, the only pets I had as a kid were the rat infestations, and I didn’t go to school until the eighteenth century. My favourite animal is a cat, and I speak a lot of languages.”
“That’s the most you’ve ever told me about yourself,” George says, and it kind of hurts that it’s true. “I just want you to feel comfortable with us. With all of us. That we'll listen and you can tell us things, you know? We won’t just up and leave you.”
“That’s not what I’m worried about.”
“Then what is it?”
Dream exhales. His breath threads itself through George’s hair. “I’ve lived a long time. I don’t know how much of it I can remember. I don’t know how much I want to remember… I don’t know what you’ll think of me when I do.”
George is silent.
“My life hasn’t been kind,” Dream says, slowly, when he realises George is waiting for him. “It hasn’t been clean. I’ve hurt things. Killed people. By human standards, I should be living out an eternity in prison.”
“But you aren’t.”
“But I’m not,” he agrees. He doesn’t finish his thought, but George hears everything he doesn’t say.
There’s silence. It’s cold. George inhales, and he aches that Dream can’t quite do the same. He asks, “why are you so afraid of us?” and doesn’t expect an answer.
This is okay. When Dream tightens his grip around George’s waist like he couldn't bare to ever let go, George knows it is. He doesn’t reply for the rest of the morning, but he doesn’t need to. George already knows.
They live well. At least, George does.
Sometimes, Dream will look at him like he’s already dead, and his eyes are cold and mourning. He’s grieving, George can tell. He doesn’t know what to make of it. He doesn’t understand it.
He asks Karl about it, once, while they’re alone. “Why does he look at me like that?”
“Like he’s already killed me,” George says, bold and brash because he has to be. Their year isn’t over yet, but Dream’s gaze is lethal
Karl swallows. He looks at the wall, and then out the window. George wonders what he’s seeing. He says, “because he thinks he has,” and leaves it at that for a long while.
“He hasn’t,” George says. That doesn’t seem to make a difference.
“I know,” Karl says. “He knows it too, deep down. But he’s still human, you know? In the biggest sense of the word. He feels like he has your blood on his hands - he doesn’t want to do that to you.”
“He won’t be doing anything I don’t want him to.”
“You think he doesn’t know that?”
Karl sighs, “it’s hard for him. He’s lived a long time. And he loves you. Could you do it for him?”
“For him?” George asks. Karl nods. “I could do anything.”
A year passes easily. None of them stop it.