After that night's event ends, they're walking side by side through the hall, Aleister's anger easing as he fights a chuckle, thinking about Dream mimicking his cross-legged pose, trying to do the Black Mass. It had been technically sound, to an extent, just without the extra power that Aleister puts behind it, so he'd stopped Dream from leaving just to give him a few impatient pointers on Ciampa to really give the move that extra kick, Dream practicing on Gargano to the crowd's amusement. He glances over to Dream for a moment, eager to grab his things and get dressed so they can leave, when Dream stops short and leans a hand on the nearest wall, Aleister realizing belatedly that his breathing is a little off, rapid and shaky. "Hey, are you ok?" he wonders, turning towards the younger man and resting a hand on his arm.
Dream swallows and looks up at him, lips parting like he's about to say something... when his knees buckle and he hits the wall hard, collapsing down to his knees. He looks helpless and young while his body shudders and he groans, fingers spasming as Aleister drops down before him, horrified and unsure what to do. "Velveteen Dream?" he snaps, trying to get him to look at him, gripping his face and staring into his eyes. "Patrick! What's wrong?"
Dream shakes his head, gasps for breath and slumps forward, entire body trembling in Aleister's arms. All Aleister can do is hold him, shock and horror crossing his face as he senses it- a weak twisting aura surrounding Dream unlike anything he's felt in a long time. He grips him tighter, finally pulling back and staring down at him. Dream looks ill and vulnerable, his eyes moving rapidly under his lids, as he fights against whatever this is that's hit him so abruptly. "Shit!" Aleister hisses, forgetting all post-match weariness, hoisting him up and carrying him down the hall until he spots their things in a nearby locker room.
He also finds Ricochet, who looks amused by the image they provide. "Did Dream fall asleep after his match, or-?" He quiets quickly, realizing something's wrong, when Aleister puts Dream down carefully and rushes over to their bags, frowning. "What's wrong with him?" he wonders, hands hovering uncertainly over Dream's prone body.
"Don't touch him," Aleister snaps, still digging around for clothes that he can wear to drive them out of here. "God dammit..."
"Hey, something's clearly wrong," Ricochet says. "I... I can try to help. If you'd let me."
Aleister snarls, turning to snap at Ricochet, but he falters. Hates to admit it but he does need help, because as much as he might hope leaving Dream alone while he goes to find the caster of this dark, warped aura would bring no further harm to him, he knows there's a very good chance that something may go wrong in his absence. So he closes his eyes and grimaces at Ricochet. "Fine," he breathes out.
His explanation of what and why and how, along with his suspicions of who leaves Ricochet confused and staring on in shock. "But..."
"It's the only thing that makes sense," Aleister says, turning and pulling some jeans up over his wrestling trunks. It's uncomfortable but he doesn't care right now, the only thing that matters is that Dream wakes up sooner rather than later. "Take this," he snaps, pushing keys and his wallet into Ricochet's hands before turning back around to tuck a blanket around the younger man's bare shoulders and hoist him up once more. Dream whimpers against Aleister's arm, skin pale and each breath a struggle. "I've got you," he says to him, turning to look at Ricochet. "You drive, I want to stay with him."
"Of course," Ricochet says, collecting his own bag while keeping a tight hold on the keys before following Aleister out of the building. The ride is tense, Dream sprawled out over Aleister's lap in the back, Ricochet looking back and forth from the road to his rearview mirror, watching them. Aleister's hand traces slow, comforting circles over Dream's jaw as he ducks his head over him, murmuring in a language Ricochet has no clue of its origins. He stays quiet as he parks at the hotel and unlocks the car, frowning as Aleister carefully slips out from under Dream, bracing him as he pulls him out of the back seat and walks purposely into the hotel. He ignores both workers and fans lurking around as he walks up to the elevators and presses a button, Ricochet stammering out weak excuses to the people watching, laughing awkwardly before racing to join them before the doors close behind Aleister. "Well, that'll probably be all over the internet within ten minutes," he mumbles, but Aleister doesn't even respond, all focus on Dream.
"Come on," he grunts, impatient, tense, as he walks as quickly as he dares with Dream's deadweight in his arms, shifting in front of what Ricochet assumes is their hotel room door, staring him down until he finds the key card in the mess of things Aleister had handed him. As soon as Ricochet gets it unlocked, Aleister pushes his way inside, kicking the door open the rest of the way before hurrying to the bed and settling Dream onto it, brushing his fingers over his forehead, down his cheeks. "Patrick," he says softly, leaning forward and nuzzling against his chin. "Please wake up." But there's no response and even Ricochet thinks he can see something off about Dream's appearance- a strange shimmer, something blurring his flesh, leaving him almost abstract to the naked eye.
Aleister hisses out a breath and stands up, hands tense at his side. "I have to leave," he says quietly and Ricochet watches as he lifts his hands, grey aura hazy and distinct as it brushes over Dream's flesh. "Stay strong. I will be back." He brushes his knuckles over Dream's jaw, leaning in to kiss him softly, Ricochet blinking hard as more pieces of the puzzle falls into place for him, explaining so much of the tension between them since their match the year prior, this entire bizarre thing he finds himself wrapped up in right now. "Take care of him."
Aleister's eyes are dangerous pools of grey and Ricochet swallows hard, nodding, relinquishing his wallet and the keys easily when Aleister pulls them from his hands. "Of course. I... I'll do the best I can," he says, definitely not understanding any of this, but knowing that if he fails, if something happens, Aleister's rage will be directed onto him as much as it is towards whoever actually caused this.
Aleister nods, however, and storms past Ricochet, slamming the door behind him as he leaves, jaw tense and steps echoing slightly as he goes straight for the stairwell, not caring to wait for the elevators this time. He's outside, at the car, driving off, in strange snapshots of his reality, focus only on one thing.
Tommaso Ciampa and his favored dark, shadowy spots by whichever arena they may be at where he films his little messages sometimes, demanding people follow his lead. Aleister sneers, breathing heavily as his fingers dig holes into the steering wheel, teeth gritted and eyes locked on the road out of the windshield as he makes his way back quickly. It's here, he can feel it before he even parks, darkness, evil, the same kind of aura he'd felt shrouding Dream like a toxic cloud. How Tommaso had found this, Aleister will never know, but he traces it, walking through the parking lot with the same kind of unease he has felt since that night Gargano felled him. Forces himself to continue even as he listens, watches for anything out of the ordinary.
Tommaso laughs when he sees him, standing over a sigil that Aleister thinks looks vaguely familiar, though nothing he's ever bothered to research prior to this evening. "Look, Goldie, the former champion is here," he says to his title belt before standing up straight and staring Aleister down. "Just like I knew he would be." He shrugs. "So it affected Dream. I wanted it to be you, but he hit Black Mass first. Well, a cheap version of it, but it was enough, I guess."
"You set the curse to activate on my finishing move," Aleister realizes, stepping closer.
"Yes, I did. Who would've guessed that pathetic show off would just end up cursing himself because whatever Aleister does, Dream thinks he can do better." Ciampa laughs again, shaking his head. "God, you two. It's so damn disgusting, man. I don't know how more people don't see this, that you're each other's weaknesses. He's desperate to prove himself when it comes to you, and you... You gush about him in interviews, you know? I've listened to them, the people hosting could barely get you to shut up about how great you think he is." He shudders a little, smirking. "But you know, it's better this way. I wanted you, but he'll do. How will you ever care about our Takeover match when all you can think about is your poor little boytoy trapped in his own mind, seeing so many terrible, heartbreaking things?"
Like a sharp strike to the sternum, Aleister suddenly realizes where he's seen the sigil before. "You bastard," he breathes, staring down at the intricate lines that leaves a person locked in their own mind indefinitely, vulnerable to their worst thoughts and fears, living and reliving them as if they're reality. He can only imagine what Dream's seeing- loss of the crowd's interest that he so carefully works to keep, the loss of his career, the loss of... Aleister grits his teeth and stares at Ciampa, forcing his hand out as aura streams from his fingers, brushing futilely against the ground and doing nothing to erase the lines sprawling across the pavement.
"Ah, uh-uh," Ciampa taunts him. "Sorry, it doesn't work like that, buddy boy. Only I can break this sigil, remember? It's precisely why I picked it." His laugh echoes through the darkness when frustration and fear crosses Aleister's face as his last hope that Ciampa hadn't done his due diligence in learning all of the little tricks behind this sigil's placement fades away. "You truly thought I'd be that stupid to not learn the ins and outs of this thing? Please." They're standing in this stalemate for a few moments longer, Ciampa's eyes glinting as he stares up at Aleister, and then things shift.
Aleister senses someone coming- the exact same thing he'd felt when he was attacked in the parking lot all of those months ago- and he acts quickly, lunging to the side and gripping Gargano by the throat, pulling him out of the shadows of the production truck and locking in a tight choke. "Aha," he says, each breath that he exhales blowing Gargano's hair every which way. "Was this part of the plan too? Take Dream out with this pathetic sigil magic, and then Gargano here take me out with another sneak attack?"
Ciampa's face is a mask of fury and he snarls, hand frozen over the sigil. "You shouldn't have done that, Johnny," he hisses, looking aggravated, frustrated with this wrong turn in his plans.
Johnny struggles to break Aleister's steel-like grip before choking out, "I saw him- I wanted to see what was going on- I didn't know-"
"I didn't want you to know!" Ciampa yells back at him. "You made it quite clear you only care about Ricochet and his title, so-"
Aleister barks out a laugh, frenzied and beyond frustrated as each minute passing means another minute Dream is getting tortured in the confines of his own mind. "You might wanna be careful, you sound jealous," he taunts Ciampa. "But Johnny here doesn't really care, does he? He was over with you a good year ago." He smirks as Johnny groans, slumping into his grip, and Aleister quirks his eyebrows at Ciampa. "Well, now what do we do?" he wonders, ragdolling Johnny around a bit before easing back on his grip, the only thing keeping Johnny from hitting the concrete being wisps of Aleister's aura, tangling around his neck, up his jaw, writhing down his throat until Johnny struggles, the aura slowly strangling him.
Tommaso's eyes burn with cool fury and Aleister's gaze locks on him as he mutters something, the power coming from the sigil suddenly intensifying, as does Aleister's fear for Dream.
"Please..." Johnny chokes out, suddenly reaching out for Ciampa, his fingers trembling as Aleister quickly reclaims his grip, reinforcing his touch with aura, all but lifting Johnny off of the ground, adding to the pressure around his throat. "Please... To- Tommaso..."
Aleister sees the shift on Ciampa's face- senses imminent victory as he digs his hands deeper into Johnny's neck, watching as Ciampa, his face a tight, tense mask, turns sharply and digs his heavy boot over the lines of the sigil, scraping and smearing it all of the way to the center. He stands there for a few moments, head bowed over the carefully designed item before looking up, his icy blue eyes locking on Aleister. "Let him go now."
So Aleister does, suddenly filled with unease. Both at what might have been happening with Dream the entire time it took him to get to this stage, and of what Ciampa might be planning next with Takeover just around the corner. Why he let it go this easily. He watches as Johnny collapses onto his hands and knees, gasping for breath, and how Ciampa steps closer to him, pointing at both of them. "If either of you do anything else- to me, to Dream- I will make you regret it." He turns sharply and marches past the production truck, shoulders tense as he rushes for his car. "Just a little longer, Patrick," he breathes, hoping that he's ok. That everything's normal back at the hotel room right now. Even if this means Dream is back at his ridiculous one upsmanship with Ricochet, which would actually be a happy relief after all of this.
His hopes are dashed, however, when he returns to the hotel room to find Ricochet slumped forward in a chair that he'd dragged closer to the bed, holding his head in his hands. When Aleister enters and Ricochet looks up, he's startled to find that his eyes are red-rimmed and he just seems like he is close to hyperventilating. Aleister shakes his head, turning to look at Dream. Still motionless, still quiet, but... laying on his right side, which Dream hates usually, typically sleeping better on his left side or stomach. Aleister swallows and looks up at Ricochet. "What happened?"
Ricochet looks exhausted as he sits up and casts one more, quick glance at Dream. "He... I don't know," he says helplessly. "It was something close to ten minutes ago... I... he had a seizure," he continues on. "It lasted... for so long... and I know they say you're supposed to call 911 if a seizure lasts longer than a minute... but I doubted that proper medical attention could do anything for him, considering, so all I could really do was turn him on his side and... and wait..."
Aleister pales, his hands going limp at his sides, and he shakes his head, remembering how he'd used his own reckless bravado to grab Gargano, choking him out... He had even noticed Ciampa enforcing the sigil, but hadn't had the time to really think about what that could possibly mean for Dream. "Shit," he breathes, eyes wet and troubled as he kneels by the bed, staring into Dream's slack face. "Please... I'm sorry, Dream. I'm so sorry. You have to wake up." He gently runs his fingers through Dream's hair, shaking his head. "It should've been me... all of this..."
Ricochet stands quietly, watching as Aleister presses his forehead to Dream's arm, breathing heavily as he waits for some sign, anything to prove that Dream is still with them, will wake up at some point soon.
Dream remains motionless, lost in whatever world he'd gotten trapped in. Aleister shivers and brushes his thumb down Dream's cheek. "I hope wherever you're at," he whispers to him, "I hope that it's nice and that you are at peace." He hesitates. "But you have to wake up, you have to come back to me... I will not allow Ciampa's machinations to take this from me, to take you..." He kisses Dream softly, despite the awkward angle, and stares at him, the lack of reaction to even this heartbreaking. He looks so young and vulnerable like this that Aleister feels something in him break, exhaling a shuddering breath as he leans back and buries his face in his hands for a moment.
Only Ricochet shifting behind him snaps him out of it and he abruptly stands up, turning to the man, who backs away, clearly uncomfortable and a little worried what Aleister might do next. "I, uh... Do you want me to go and give you two some privacy?" he wonders, never quite sure what to do or say to Aleister. They've worked together, a little, against Ciampa and Gargano, but he's still not on comfortable ground with the quiet, intense man. How Dream deals with him, when they're so vastly different, Ricochet can only imagine.
Aleister looks over at Dream, then back at Ricochet, at his North American title. Takeover is coming soon, and since Ciampa seems to somehow always get his way, it doesn't seem impossible that Ricochet will have to defend against Gargano. "Fine. Thank you for all you've done." He had been with Dream, had done the best he could, turning him onto his side in the midst of the seizure. Aleister is thankful for that much, at least.
"You're welcome. Uh, if you need anything, I'm just down the hall." He waits awkwardly for a moment before grabbing his title and bag and quietly leaving the room.
Aleister inhales and then turns back to Dream. "And then there were two," he says quietly, his accent coming out thicker due to his upset. He kneels back down next to the bed and cradles Dream's face, rubbing his calloused thumbs over his soft skin. "I'm right here," he whispers. "I'm not going anywhere. You open those eyes, Patrick. You hear me?"
He stays there for a long time and, at some point, he supposes he nods off because he wakes up with a strangled gasp, wisps of nightmares leaving him tense and sore from being in such an awfully uncomfortable position to sleep in. But when he opens his eyes, it's to find Dream staring at him. "Patrick?" he gasps, leaning forward and touching his face. But there's no reaction still, his eyes are open but there is no response to his touch, his words, nothing. Aleister searches his eyes for any sign of life, recognition, anything, and muffles a curse when there is none to be found. Somehow, this is even worse, as Aleister forces himself to face the possibility that Dream might be lost forever, the seizure along with the terrible power behind the sigil just too much for him to take.
It's unfathomable, it's cruel, and he feels tears of frustration choking him, but he shakes it off, grips Dream's jaw and stares into his eyes. "I swear to you, no matter what happens, I will make Ciampa pay for all of this... he will regret the moment he sketched that sigil into the ground..." It's not enough. It'll never bring Dream back from wherever he's been lost to, but Aleister will hunt Ciampa and Gargano both to the ends of the earth to make them feel half as much of the torment he's feeling right now as he stares into Dream's blank stare.
Time passes and when Aleister next looks into Dream's eyes, he's equally relieved and devastated to find them closed once more. "It's ok," he whispers, rubbing his fingers under the closed lids, down his cheeks. "It's alright. You're ok." Meanless words, he's not even sure why he's saying them, but this silence, despite Dream being next to him, is so unnatural that he feels the need to fill it somehow. He leans forward, shuddering softly, and presses kisses to both of Dream's eyes and when he pulls away, he presses his face into his own arm, muffling a rogue sob that breaks through the tight grip he has on his emotions.
Aleister doesn't move. He stays by Dream's side, waiting for something, he's not sure what. Death, or life, or something inbetween. Holds Dream's three lensed glasses in his hands and meditates on the man, the maddening year they've had together. When they'd feuded, and all Dream had wanted was for Aleister to say his name, Aleister had found himself more intrigued than he logically should've been by the vain, annoying man.
Dream's loss hadn't tempered his focus on Aleister, even when their careers took different paths. Matches against each other at live events, random interactions backstage, Dream doing all he could to gain Aleister's attention and keep it even when not in the vicinity, everything had led them here, Aleister eventually growing frustrated with seeing Dream in his shirts, taunting Aleister by tearing them off and tossing them at him. Had grabbed him by the collar and pulled him clos one night, glowering at him, some unspeakable emotion welling up within him when the uncharacteristic doubt on Dream's face registered with him and he'd stared at him, not thrilled with this reaction. Pride, yes, vanity, of course, but actual uncertainty? Fear, around him? That wasn't right, the tension between them only seeming to grow into a physical entity the longer Aleister stood there, so he'd leaned forward and searched Dream's eyes for a few moments before kissing him, hard, possessively. Dream had gasped, long fingers gripping at his sides, and that was all it took for things between them to quickly snap into place, Dream's laughter echoing Aleister's sentiments as they pulled away and looked at each other.
Aleister had felt stupid at the time for not figuring it out sooner, the true cause of the unceasing tension between them, but it had been worth it, the journey. Had brought him some of the happiest moments of his life, had given him focus and relief when everything fell apart around him and he'd woke up following the attack in the parking lot to Dream sitting by his bed, an unreadable look on his face that had quickly melted away to relief. So now their positions are reversed but Aleister doubts that there will be a similar happy ending to be had here. He sniffs a little, and looks away. "I'm so sorry," he whispers. "Perhaps... perhaps if I had left well enough alone that day when I kissed you, none of this would've happened. You would probably be fine..." But, he thinks, that would've ended poorly too- they never would've been, and then what? He can't imagine it. He doesn't want to imagine it.
He spends hours trying to focus his thoughts, get back into a meditative state, when he feels something. Dream moves, just a little. A subtle fluctuation in his aura that makes Aleister's head snap up to look at him, and... He swallows, finding Dream's eyes open again. Thinking it's just a continuation of the catatonia he'd observed earlier, he leans forward and stares into the beautiful, deep brown eyes that have held his attention for hours in the past. But then Dream blinks and Aleister gasps, realization dawning. "Patrick?"
It doesn't last, his eyes flutter shut once more, but Aleister swallows, a painful burst of hope crashing through everything else. He leans in and softly kisses his cheek. "You do that again," he tells him. "You open your eyes again. When you're strong enough. Alright?"
Dream's always been an overachiever, so it's not that great of a surprise when he stirs again, less than two hours later, lips twisting as he stares at Aleister, weighed down by exhaustion and something else that Aleister can't quite read. He's in and out like this for the better part of the night, Aleister dozing once more by his side, when he hears his name, quiet, weak, but definitely there, breaking through the silence of the room. He's awake and touching Dream immediately, staring at him incredulously. "Patrick," he breathes.
"Alei- Aleister," he forces out, voice thin and weak, but so beautiful to Aleister's ears. Aleister brings him a glass of water and helps him to sit up, propping him up carefully against his chest to sip slowly, each movement clearly taxing. "I... what happened..."
"Ciampa," Aleister growls, a little. "He found a sigil and..." Aleister closes his eyes. "It was supposed to be me, but you used Black Mass and it activated the damn thing on you instead."
Dream exhales softly. "Oh," he says quietly, leaning back against Aleister's shoulder and closing his eyes. "You saved me." More a statement than a question and Aleister shivers, gently tilting his face to kiss him.
"I always will," he vows. He's curious about the magic behind the sigil. what exactly it did, but as he holds Dream close and kisses his temple, his jaw, his cheek, he thinks now isn't the time to dredge all of that up. Not yet.
Despite sleeping a lot at first, worn down from the magic behind Ciampa's spell and the seizure it had caused, Dream exceeds expectations, again, and bounces back from this very quickly- even returns to Full Sail less than two weeks later, announcing his intentions to go after the North American title. Which will probably throw him back in there against Ricochet and Gargano, and... Aleister sighs, shaking his head. Ricochet is fine, Dream can handle him, but there's always a chance Gargano may walk out of Takeover Phoenix champion and that would put Dream back in Ciampa's sights, which Aleister isn't thrilled with.
Later that night, he's still lost in thought about it all, so angry with how NXT had turned out this evening. Beaten down again by Ciampa and Gargano. His only relief is that Dream had been with the trainer trying to get his leg sorted out after his match against Fish and couldn't get involved himself. By the time he'd limped to gorilla, it had been over, Gargano had been dragged away by Candice and Ciampa had left, leaving Aleister to regroup alongside Ricochet.
So now they're here, Aleister holding Dream's leg in his lap and lightly massaging along the tense muscles of his thigh down to his knee. "You're going to be fine," he says quietly and Dream nods, gaze distant as he pretends to care about whatever it is he's staring at on his phone. Aleister hadn't really discussed before with him, not wanting to make things worse, but he thinks perhaps it's time. As much as Dream has tried to keep it from him, it's pretty obvious he's been forcing himself to stay awake late into the night, and when he does collapse into bed next to Aleister, he jerks himself awake within a couple of hours, gasping out and reaching for something that Aleister can't see. "Patrick?"
He lets out this churlish little sigh that always amuses Aleister, not liking it when people call him by anything but his chosen name. "Yes?"
Aleister digs his fingers into a particularly tight knot and waits until it eases under his touch, smiling a little when a muffled moan comes from Dream's lips. He then takes advantage of that to ask the question that's been weighing on him since Dream woke up. "If you don't want to answer this, I understand," he says, pressing here and there with his fingers, searching out any more discomfort in Dream's leg. "But you're not sleeping well, if at all, and it's been nearly two weeks. It's just not healthy, Patrick." He looks over at him, not surprised to find Dream's eyes squeezed shut, his lips pressed together tightly. "Maybe talking to me will help so I will ask this once, and then we'll move on if you don't want to discuss it, but just remember... I'm always here for you. Whenever you do want to talk about it, I will listen." He stops searching out sore muscles and instead turns to face him, adjusting them so he doesn't put any weight on Dream's bad leg. "What did Ciampa make you see?"
Dream doesn't say anything for a long moment, looking pale and unhappy under the faint light from over Aleister's shoulder. Aleister is about to give up, let Dream have his space until he feels like talking about it, when Dream's lip starts to tremble. "I," he whispers, freezing as tears fill his eyes and he looks away, frustrated. "I can't sleep because I just... I relive that."
Aleister wants to speak, wants to move and comfort him, but he figures if he does anything, Dream will lock himself away once more and what needs to be said to help him move past this may never be, so he holds himself tensely and waits patiently for Dream to find the words.
"I keep seeing it all over again," he explains shakily. "Losing match, after match, after match, failing and getting injured time and again, the crowd turning on me and starting to hate me for being such a loser. Not even booing me, just... just leaving when they see me coming." He ducks his head, staring down at his hands as his fingers twist together. "Getting called into William Regal's office just to find HHH there, and having them... them tell me that they were wrong about me, that wrestling isn't for me, and they were releasing me from my contract."
Aleister watches as tears drip down Dream's face quietly, splashing against his hands. He's mortified and itching to touch him, but knowing that Dream isn't finished yet, that there is more for him to say. So he waits.
"Going home to you, just to find all of my stuff packed up on the patio, and you refusing even to let me inside because you say you deserve better than some self-obsessed child who is so distracted by his wardrobe and his hair that he can't even pick up a win anymore. Me trying to talk to you just for you to slam the door in my face." Dream wipes at his eyes, but more tears pour down his face, and he shudders miserably. "It all felt so real," he breathes out. "I can't even doze off without it replaying in my nightmares..."
Ciampa had really hit the trifecta with this, digging into every one of Dream's insecurities and fears. Aleister leans in, cupping his face, brushing some of the tears away. "You listen to me," he whispers. "The crowd adores you, ok? Everyone from HHH to John Cena sings your praises, so you're not going anywhere and even if WWE lost their collective minds and released you, anywhere in the wrestling world would be salivating at the chance to snag you up and sign you. You're that damn impressive. As for myself, I have already proven myself much too selfish when it comes to you to ever kick you out, so that's a nonstarter as well." Dream's eyes look a little clearer, his lips twitching up into a weak smirk, but it's still not enough. Aleister grips his sides and pulls him in, tucking Dream against him as best as he can, considering how tall and muscular the guy is. "I know my words only mean so much," he murmurs. "You may continue to have nightmares. But I want you to know I'm always right by your side any time you need me, and this Saturday, I will make Ciampa pay. I promise you this."
Dream nods against Aleister's shoulder, pressing a soft kiss there. "I love you," he hums.
Aleister eases Dream back and stares into his eyes, absorbing the affection and life so vibrant in their deep brown depths, despite everything Ciampa had put him through. His lips twitch up into a soft smile. "I love you too."
That night, when Dream wakes up, gasping and reaching out to stop the hellish reality of his nightmares, Aleister holds him and whispers to him until he relaxes back into sleep, both of them resting better than they have in weeks.