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George tapped his fingers along to the upbeat melody whispering through his headphones, soft fingertips meeting the hard wooden surface of his desk delicately. Random thoughts danced through his head as he swiveled side to side in his office chair. It had been a long day of editing and George was finally ready to take some time off for his friends.

Sapnap had been begging him to join the call for hours, and the taunting image of his friends' profile pictures blinking with green rings haunted the side of his monitor, as well as his stinging mind, all day. There weren't too many people, it seemed, just the usuals–Sapnap, Bad, Tommy, Tubbo, Sam, Punz, hell, even Wilbur was there with them, talking about who knows what. George was filled with motivation to pump out another video, though, and had stalled joining them, as that would make him lose focus.

Especially when he noticed Dream's icon appear into the voice call.

George had been gripping his mouse lightly, flicking the small scroll every so often as he searched for music to add to the video when he let his tired eyes drag across his screen to the open discord window. Dream's small, sleepy avatar had huddled its way in between Bad's and Punz's icons.
It was hard for George not to take a break right then and there.

He managed—George was now happily watching his video upload, playlist still echoing softly through his ears. He'd join the call in a minute.

For now, though, he let his gaze wander silently to a different tab opened on his laptop. He clicked on it, letting the dark colored window fill the bright screen. George wasn't a big fan of listening to podcasts, to be fair, but Bad had suggested he find one to listen to. It looked interesting. Bad had mentioned it briefly during a recording session.

"I've been listening to podcasts, lately," Bad's voice had chimed in happily, and George remarked being rather thankful for the break of awkward, focused silence, "I found this really nice one." His monitor glowed with the all-too familiar game he had been playing for years now. Sounds of in-game fire crackling and lava oozing danced through his headphones, along with his friends' quiet voices. "Yeah?" The sudden conversation had sparked George's interest. "What's that?"

Bad's character was standing idling in front of a furnace as he spoke, and Sapnap and George were both standing nearby, collecting materials. Antfrost was in the overworld collecting ores. Per usual. "It's some really nice guy, he just talks about his life and things like that. It's really relaxing to listen to. He uses a voice changer, I think. But the voice is still pleasant." Bad hummed happily, removing items from the furnace, "I can give you a link to it, if you want! There's a whole website and everything."

"Sure. Send it in the group chat. I'll check it out later." Sapnap piped up, which sparked an audible chuckle from Dream. "I didn't know you were the type to listen to podcasts, Sap." Dream also jumped into the conversation, small clicks of his keyboard chiming in through his mic. He had been really quiet this whole time, which worried the four of them. They knew he was probably planning something to trick them once again.

"Shut up." Sapnap exclaimed bashfully, and George rolled his eyes behind his screen. Such dorks.

"Maybe I'll take you up on your offer, Bad." George now mumbled as he flicked his mouse, chestnut eyes falling on the big, bold title of the website - Guillotine. A moment of hesitation, then a soft click of his mouse led to play the first episode of the podcast. There was quiet, solemn intro music accompanied by the gentle crackling of what seemed to be fire. Calming, George thought. This continued for a few minutes before a soft:

ʜᴇʏ ɪɴᴛᴇʀɴᴇᴛ. ɪᴛ's ᴍᴇ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ.

George flinched as the sound of a soothing, low voice entered his headphones. The voice was very obviously edited, but the tone was what caught George's attention. It felt like honey. It felt warm, soft, comforting.

It felt like home.

ɪ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴛʜɪs ᴇᴘɪsᴏᴅᴇ ɪs ᴀ ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ ʟᴀᴛᴇ. ᴀᴘᴏʟᴏɢɪᴇs. ɪ ʜᴀᴅ sᴏᴍᴇ ᴏᴛʜᴇʀ sᴛᴜғғ ɪ ʜᴀᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴅᴏ.

The voice sank into George's mind and made itself at home, setting his heart aflame with curiosity and tickling down his spine with such an intense feeling. He was immediately interested, pausing his music quickly and pressing his palms to his desk. The cold surface against his warm fingertips surged through his body, leaving the hairs on his forearms to perk with an odd feeling.

ᴛᴏᴅᴀʏ, ɪ ᴡᴀɴᴛᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴘɪᴄᴋ ᴀ ʟɪɢʜᴛᴇʀ ᴛᴏᴘɪᴄ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴀʟᴋ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ. ᴛʜᴇ ʟᴀsᴛ ғᴇᴡ ᴇᴘɪsᴏᴅᴇs ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʙᴇᴇɴ ʀᴇᴀʟʟʏ ʜᴇᴀᴠʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴅᴀʀᴋ, sᴏ ɪ ғɪɢᴜʀᴇᴅ ɪ'ᴅ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴅ ʟɪɢʜᴛᴇʀ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜɪs ᴏɴᴇ. ʜᴏᴡ's ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ sᴏᴍᴇ ᴠɪᴅᴇᴏ ɢᴀᴍᴇs?

And so George found himself adjusting in his chair, preparing to sit for around an hour and a half and listen to a mysterious, anonymous person ramble on calmly about playing video games with his friends. He didn't specify what game, when this was. It was very vague, yet very intriguing. It kept George on the edge of his seat, longing to hear more of such a vague story. Each pause in between the voice's words, every time he would ramble on about something and apologize for getting off topic--George loved it. It made the voice human. Comforting.

After an hour had passed George was on the verge of falling asleep, arms gingerly cradling his head on the cold surface of his desk. He had turned the lights off at some point, so the dim, blue light of his monitor background was the only thing illuminating his room. He was pretty sure he had never felt this comfortable before. The only thing that tore him out of this comforted state was the gentle ding of a desktop notification. George sighed, uncovering his eyes from the gray sleeve of his hoodie to read the message Dream had sent him.

Dream: are you joining

The brunette felt a soft smile form on his chapped lips, sitting up from his previous position and flicking his mouse over to pause the podcast. It was almost over; and George could finish it later. It felt nice to see Dream asking him to join their call. Dream had been relatively busy lately, leaving almost no time for them to call anymore. George was thankful for the interruption, tugging himself out of sleepiness and moving his cursor over to his discord tab. He let it hover over the voice call for a moment, heart pounding when he noticed how many people were still in the call. A few had left, of course, but many icons were still under the 'VC 1' call.

He clicked it, and suddenly voices bloomed from the ears of his headphones. George flinched.

"You've got to be kidding," Sapnap had scoffed, mid-bickering with Quackity, "that's so dumb." It seemed that none of them had realized George had joined-

"Oh, hey, George." Dream suddenly piped up, and George felt his heart flutter a bit at the tired tone. You could always tell when Dream was sleepy. He sounded soft. Quiet. Like standing on the shoreline of a beach, toes dug into the soft sand as gentle waves roll in and tickle your skin, as George liked to compare.

He thought about beaches often when it came to Dream. He assumed it was because of the beaches Dream used to describe to him.

George recalled the many times Dream rambled to him about whatever came to mind, often ending up with light conversations and descriptions of the beaches surrounding his Florida home. It was odd, but it was nice. George would be lying if he said he didn't enjoy every conversation he had with the younger male. His words echoed in the brunette's mind as if he were standing in a giant cave, trapped in thought about Dream.

George knew he had things like this to work on.

He noticed he had thoughts like this a lot.

"George! Hey buddy." Karl spoke, enthusiasm dripping from every word. He always seemed so happy. George quickly checked to see if any of them were live, and was surprised to find that Sapnap was the one who was streaming. He immediately put his filter on before speaking. "Hey guys." The Brit noted how rough he sounded, having been silent for the past few hours focused on editing and publishing his newest video. He cleared his throat quietly. "How's the stream going?"

Sapnap chuckled under his breath, "Well," he started, clicking his tongue gently, "it was going perfectly until you got here."

"I'm flattered, Sapnap." George responded with a quiet giggle, and he heard Dream let out a soft breath in response.

Sapnap took a minute to respond, instead opting to focus on the game. He was in 3rd person point of view, and had just been saying his goodbyes to the stream. "Actually, I was just ending, George. You missed everything. Wanna say goodbye to everyone?"

"Oh. How long have you been streaming?"

"Three hours."

"I'm impressed by how long you managed to annoy everyone this time."

"Shut up, Gogy. Just say bye already so I can end."

George ran his tongue over his teeth in a smug manner, resting his chin on his hand as he eyed the discord call. Twitch was still open in the corner of his stream as a he muttered a soft, "Bye, chat," into his microphone. After this he pushed it away from his face, watching a green ring light up around Dream's icon. "Bye!" The others soon followed with their quiet farewells.

The group stayed quiet as Sapnap decided who to send his viewers off to.

"So... George, now that you're FINALLY here," Quackity scoffed, though his tone was noticeably softer than it normally was, "Sapnap said he had to talk to you."

Sapnap took a moment to comment, having been posting on Twitter about his stream and how thankful he was for his fans. "Yeah, yeah. George, check our messages really fast."

George did so quickly, confused and frankly impressed by the amount of silence shared between the entire group. It wasn't the normal, comfortable silence. It felt cold and uninviting. There were around seven people in the call. Why was it so quiet? He clicked on Sapnap's notification, only to be met with a:

Sapnap: It's important, i need to call you

George swallowed. "What's this about?" He slowly tugged his phone out of his hoodie pocket, slender fingers wrapping around the plastic case firmly as he unlocked the device. "I can't explain here. Give me a second." Sapnap was quick to call him, and George flinched as the sound of his ringtone broke the snug silence in his room.

"Okay, okay." George hummed, deafening himself on Discord and instead pressing his thumb to the green button that had appeared on his phone. He moved the phone up to the side of his head, and Sapnap's hushed voice whispered from it.

"We need to talk about Bad."