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not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment

V Dreamer

by Pen

Brian still has the dreams, sometimes.

And then he wakes up, and he's alone. Even if Leighanne's there, even if Baylee crept into the bed with them, the shock hits him and he gasps and can't breathe for a moment, because back there, back in the dream, he had something else, someone else.

Waking up is cruel, when he has those dreams. It's not that he wants to go back, it's not that he regrets who he is now, the choices he made, the life he has. He's happy, everyone's happy, things are as they're supposed to be.

It's just—it's cruel, because when he wakes up, for a moment it's just how it was, once upon a time. When it was perfect. When they were lovers.

Brian's never believed love could be anything but right. Back then, he knew it for sure. Yes, they were kids, both of them, but it was real. Passion, yes, and pleasure, but his heart had been in it, and so had AJ's. No, not AJ. Alex, he was Alex, for a little while. When they were lovers.

And then it crashes in on him, right after that dream-fresh joy, when he wakes all the way up it's to that sick, tight feeling of dread. His stomach knots with the memories, taut and echoing-empty as a drum, beating out the roll-call of everything that went wrong even as they rode their success into the stratosphere, when AJ's demons got too much for him, too much for all of them. Fights and empty bottles and shouting and always being let down.

Was he... was he the coward after all? Should he have hung on tighter instead of walking away? But he hadn't stepped willingly. He'd been pushed. Too many promises broken, too many more waiting in line to be said that he didn't want to hear. Nothing he'd done seemed to help, all that love and he hadn't been enough, he couldn't stop Alex—stop AJ—from whirling down that crazy spiral. So he'd left, long before AJ crashed to the floor and started to pick himself up again. Left in every way that mattered.

It wasn't that he didn't love Alex. It wasn't that. There's still a part of his heart that does—but loving him was so hard, so complicated, and Brian still torments himself sometimes with the thought that he just gave up because he wanted things simple and straightforward. What he has now, Leighanne, is so easy, and she makes him happy and isn't that how it's supposed to be? Except when his dreams rise up to taunt him with memories of what he's given up on. When the doubt gnaws at him and whispers that he wasn't such a good guy after all, wasn't the reliable rock he thought himself, that he let AJ fall.

Brian still has the dreams, and even though he maybe shouldn't, he welcomes them. The dreams are beautiful.

It's the waking up that hurts.



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