Clay flung his duffel on the hotel bed and collapsed next to it with a groan.
He hated flying. He hated crowds. And he hated hotel beds. What was he doing here again?
A ping informed him of an incoming text, and Clay rolled over to grab his phone. A physical reminder of exactly why he'd taken the trouble to go to this event.
Georgie: Flight just landed, you at the hotel yet?
Clay typed in a quick response confirming that, then rolled back over and shut his eyes. Vidcon being held in Anaheim, CA should have been a good excuse not to show up. Five hours, from Orlando to Los Angeles, and then an Uber in heavy traffic to the actual city . . . well, it was no wonder his eyes drooped and slid shut about a minute into scrolling through his notifications.
He jumped some indeterminate amount of time later at the sound of obnoxious knocking--not at his hotel room’s front door, but the side door connecting to the room next door.
George was here. That meant Clay had been sleeping for at least an hour, he realized with growing alarm. He’d booked two rooms--one for himself, because “I need my beauty sleep,” and one for George and Nick to share--and told them to consider it a gift when they tried to pay him back. So if there was a knock from that door, George was here , and Clay hadn’t showered, combed his hair, or put on something better than dumpy travel clothes in all that time he’d had since getting his friend’s text.
The loud banging continued, now with a familiar, “Oh Dreaaaaam,” accompanying it.
That at least put a smile on Clay’s face as he ran hands hastily through his hair, straightened his shirt and, with a shaky exhale, got up to meet his best friend in person for the first time.
George was . . . well, short. And smiling at his chest for half a second before his eyes finally reached Clay’s face, almost a head taller than him. They stared at each other a moment, a weird silence pressing in the space between them. Clay had no idea what expression was on his face, but it felt frozen, stiff and unsure before George finally broke the silence with a, “Shit, you really are tall, Dream.”
And like that, the weird tension shattered. Clay was able to crack a smile and give George a friendly bro hug with a slap on the back, laughing all the while. “I have to, like, lean down to hug you,” he said as they parted, only chuckling more when George responded with an eye roll. He stepped back, gesturing for George to enter while asking, “How was your flight?”
“Oh, my 12 hour flight? How do you think?” George said, walking in and immediately sitting with a bounce on the side of Clay’s king bed.
What could he say? Clay liked his feet not actually falling off the edge. Hence why he got the hotel room with one bed.
Clay leaned against the desk across from the bed, crossing his arms and smiling as he took George in: neat, dark hair, bags under his eyes, wearing an outfit consisting of a sweatshirt and gym shorts, which definitely made Clay feel better about his own relaxed wear. He looked much the same as the person Clay saw over stream, and yet being physically present in the same space made it feel so different. Had George always been that skinny? Had his skin always been so pale?
George raised an eyebrow, and Clay shook himself out of it. “Okay, to be honest, you look really weird,” he said, smirking as he successfully put the other guy on the defensive.
“Me? Dream, you’re like, a giant,” George spluttered, “and--and your hair is not blonde in real life, you definitely used filters in the pics you sent--”
“George, it's spring, my hair doesn’t get light unless it's in the sun a lot.”
“Oh.” George scratched his neck, looking around. “Well, anyway, this is way more weird for me. I’ve only seen, like, two pictures of you total.”
Clay rolled his eyes. “More than the fans can say,” he said, and pushed off from the desk. “Do you want to sleep some before we stream tonight? You look like you’ve been on a plane for 12 hours.”
George huffed, opened his mouth, then shut it with a roll of his eyes. “Fine,” he said with a small smile, punching Clay’s shoulder lightly as he passed by and back through their adjoining door.
“Sweet dreams!” Clay called out before George closed the door--just in time to hear his friend’s amused scoff before it clicked shut.
Clay let out a long, silent breath and lay back on the bed.
His palms were sweating, and his heart raced like he’d just been in a job interview or something. Clay wasn’t sure he could nap more himself despite how tired he’d felt a few minutes ago--now his mind seemed to be going 80 miles an hour, reliving and reanalyzing every word he’d just said.
It was just George, of course. Clay let out another breath, and decided to reply to a few tweets until his mind cleared. After an hour of being around him Clay was sure to lose his nerves, and settle back into the easy friendship they’d had for years. Except now, it would be more than just virtual, and that was a good thing.
Clay relaxed, and eventually started cracking up. Someone had tagged him in a tweet about “Dreamnotfound,” with another fanart of the two of them riding the Ender Dragon together. Clay immediately liked the tweet, before realizing after a second look that they’d also included a link to a Wattpad story the fanart depicted. His amusement only grew when, on a whim, Clay clicked on the link and was taken to a story about Dream and George taming the dragon in some strange, alternate world where Minecraft was real.
Mostly, it was just hilarious. Not badly written, all things considered--he and George had come across some that made the writer inside of Clay cringe, and it had nothing to do with the romance--but also really tongue-in-cheek, making tons of references to their streams in the dialogue and plot. Clever, really, Clay had to admit. He wondered if he should comment and tell them so.
When he checked the time next, Clay realized he’d been reading for two hours, and Dream and George hadn’t even kissed yet. How long was this going to take??
Clay gasped when, after reaching the bottom of his current page, there was no “Next” button. Just a note from the author thanking him for reading, asking him to comment, and saying they’d post the next chapter soon.
He typed out, “okay but when will they smoooooooch!!” and, not thinking too hard about it, posted the anonymous comment.
He probably should have thought harder about it.
Nick arrived, likely waking up George, because after a bit of commotion from the other side of the wall both their heads popped in. “Nick, hey!” Clay jumped up, and gave his friend a good pounding on the back. “Wow, it’s so much easier to hug you than George,” he said as they pulled back, trying to hold back a smirk when George immediately huffed.
“You’re still calling him that?” Nick said in amused disbelief.
George blushed--actually, legitimately blushed, not like all the times Clay just told him he was on stream--and for some reason, Clay was annoyed. Because he hadn’t been the one to cause it, he realized, and wasn’t that a weird thought.
“Fine. Clay, whatever,” George said, and added, “We going to do a stream or not?”
For lack of a better place, they all ended up with their laptops in front of them laying on the bed, Clay then Nick then George, and spent the whole time just further developing the survival realm Clay had started for the Dream Team a few months back. The rate the donations came in at these days made them pretty impossible to read all of, but when one caught his eye, Clay said, “Imagineligers says ‘I’m so excited to see you at VidCon this weekend, what are you guys up to till then?’ Well, uh, like I’ve mentioned, we’re going to hang out, maybe go to Disneyland for George’s sake, visit the beach. Nothing set in stone, really.”
“‘How was meeting Dream for the first time in real life?’” George read from his own donations, and answered, “Pretty cool, yeah, I don’t remember much. I passed out right after, my flight had been so long. Kind of want to fall asleep right now, still.”
“Just three guys, laying in a bed, two inches apart ‘cause we’re not . . .” Nick sang, but during the next word George screamed over it. Clay could just imagine how perfect of a meme that would be, and immediately burst out laughing.
“Somebody clip that, please,” he said around his wheezing, only laughing harder when George scoffed.
“What? There was an entire hoard of these idiots attacking me,” he said. Clay could tell he was smiling around the words, however, even if he hadn’t been able to see his face.
The chat was blowing up at that point, the general question being why they were sharing a bed, one asking who was next to whom, and one token, “My ship has sailed!!!”
It took Clay a while to get a hold of himself, but when he did, he said, “Sorry guys, Sapnap is between me and George, we’re being chaperoned.”
“That’s right, resident third wheel here,” Nick laughed.
George shook his head. “We’re not being chaperoned , there’s nothing to chaperone--”
“George doesn’t know this is a date, guys,” Clay said in a pouty voice, though he started laughing again as the donations exploded with enthusiastic replies. One said, ‘This reminds me exactly of a fanfic I read about you two, please stop teasing!!’ and Clay responded, “I’m not teasing guys, we’re actually in a bed, together.”
George dramatically rolled onto the floor, taking his laptop with him. “There, now we’re not,” he said.
Without thinking Clay said, “Well, that’s going a lot farther than some fanfics I’ve read,” and Sapnap choked on a laugh.
“Dream, do you seriously read those?” he said.
Clay smirked, shrugging even though the viewers wouldn’t see it. “I mean, they’re kind of hilarious. George and I read a few, back in the day. I actually looked at one today, while George was drooling on his pillow.”
“Ummm, you should stop talking, Dream,” George said.
Clay laughed. “Why? The fic didn’t even have us hugging. We literally have gone further bases than that after just meeting each other.”
“That’s not even a base , stop .”
“Yeah, I don’t know if hugging counts,” Sapnap put in with a chuckle. “You and I have had sleepovers, so.”
Clay let out a defeated sigh. “Fine, fine. I know you don’t love me, George. Enjoy laying on the floor, I guess.”
If he came up a little later and killed George in their world, getting the other guy to scream and laugh and ‘groan’ and pay attention to him, Clay decided not to think too hard about why.
They went to a cool Japanese place for dinner, after which Clay proclaimed sushi was “decent but over-hyped,” and went back to the hotel for an early night in. As Clay got in bed and checked his phone, he noticed an email from Wattpad, letting him know his comment had been replied to.
For a second, Clay had no idea what comment it was talking about. Then he remembered the question he’d posted on a whim, surprised to find the author his/herself had answered, ‘Honestly I’m not sure how that’s going to happen. Dream and George are just so rough and tough kind of love, I’m not even sure if they’re going to do more than hug in this fic. Any ideas?’
Clay let out a contemplative sigh, having to agree. Virtually, it was fun to pick on George. The guy seemed to handle it just fine, dishing out his own shade on occasion, and their banter was neither cuddly nor kind, even when Clay tried to push it that way. George was firmly, ostensibly, not affectionate towards Dream.
Towards Clay? Well. So far, Clay hadn’t exactly initiated anything of the sort, so who knows.
How would he do it?
‘Maybe the tough love gets one of them hurt,’ he types after a moment of contemplation. ‘Dream or George goes too far, the other takes it personally, and they have to make up. Actually show they care, for once.’
As his thumb hovers over the ‘Reply’ button, Clay has to consider what he’s doing. What the actual hell is he doing? He almost deletes the entire comment, exits out of the page. If George knew he was suggesting how they should kiss to a fan writer, even anonymously, it would probably make his friend extremely uncomfortable. He’d rolled off the bed at just the slightest tease earlier that afternoon. This wasn’t something Clay could or should push, more than he already was.
And he wasn’t even sure why he was.
Fuck it. Clay hit ‘Reply,’ turned off his phone, and rolled over onto his cooler pillow.
At least ‘Dream’ could have George, even if Clay couldn’t, was his last thought before sleep.