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The Time I've Lost

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He still didn’t understand what was going on, or if anything was even real in the first place. All Dream knew was that there was nothing he could do about it.

~*~*~

“Dream. Stand up with your hands in the air.”

Sam’s gruff voice echoed in the quiet prison, his authoritative tone expecting no protests from the one lonely prisoner that resides in Pandora’s Vault.

“Dream. Hello? Get the hell up.”

But Dream laid there on the obsidian that was cool to the touch, compared to the disgustingly sweltering heat that radiated from the lava wall that trapped him in this cruel obsidian jail cell. All he felt was exhausted, disappointed, and eerily calm.

“I’m going to drop these potatoes down here, whether you’re down there to catch them or not.”

He didn’t bother even lifting his head.

“They’re going to land in the water,” Sam warned.

Dream stared blankly, vaguely noticing the lectern that was in his peripheral vision. It used to hold books… but he had burned the last of them a couple of days… weeks… months ago? He couldn’t really tell. Sam said he lost the privilege to a clock when he burned the tenth one. He was angry, that’s all he knows.

There were plopping sounds in the water basin and he sighed, shutting his eyes. The potatoes have been dropped into the water again, just as Dream remembered happening so many times before.

“Get your food, Dream,” was all Sam said with a cold, irritated voice before there was a slam, signaling his leave.

The masked man opened his eyes to dizzily peer at the potatoes that have sunk to the bottom of the water basin, nauseous at the idea of eating raw potatoes that have landed in the water both he and Tommy had been in. Or nauseous at the thought of eating at all.

His body shivered despite the heat that swarmed him as he heard Sam’s steps thud on the obsidian. He had memorized the sounds as he heard them for long enough to be considered a decade at this point. He had watched the potatoes land in the basin millions of times before because he couldn’t be bothered to come and catch them. He had listened to the prison warden say the same things with the same monotone and lack of amusement, half-heartedly demanding proper prisoner-behavior before realizing Dream lacked the motivation to lift a finger, much less try to escape during this moment in which Sam had to supply him with potatoes after leaving him to starve for four days.

He was always struck with the same Deja Vu, whenever the event was recreated.

Dream sighed to himself, attempting to conjure the strength to stand. And within a couple of moments, he did.

And then he walked into the scorching lava wall and allowed the liquid flames to embrace him in a time no one else would.

Shortly after his body was burnt to a crisp as he screamed of the agony that encircled his body, he would wake up in a corner of his prison cell that he knew far too well, as Sam shouted at him from across the manmade lava lake, ordering him to tell him what he had done to Tommy and how did he come back.

How many times had he awoken to this? Too many times. He’d lost count.

As always, Dream would wheeze and gasp and struggle to breathe as Sam watched with unwavering, furious eyes, trying to adjust to the horrible shift, never finding the grace that Tommy Innit had found in the supposed void of the Afterlife.

Was this his own limbo?

~*~*~

Dream stared straight ahead as Quackity attempted to intimidate him with the weapons that he has no idea how Sam was convinced to allow. In many, many of his past lives, he would stand shock-still, incapable of breathing at the sight of Quackity’s wide grin and confident stance. He would obey Quackity’s orders, living in terror of any wrong move he could make resulting in the worst death possible.

But now, he’s seen this far too many times. Quackity had pried his nails off of his fingers hundreds and thousands of times before, leaving behind bloody raw flesh that the cruel man loved to press down on to watch Dream shriek in pain. Quackity throwing his netherite axe into the obsidian wall recklessly, resulting in a gash on Dream’s cheek. Quackity had cut off his limbs and giggling as Dream begged for mercy when his sword hovered over his carotid artery.

He’s become desensitized to this shitshow, to this madman who demanded something that Dream would never dare to surrender.

So for once, instead of complying with Quackity’s assertiveness, he looked away and stared at the wall of crying obsidian with a dead expression.

Quackity shouted something in his ear but Dream understood none of it, his head too cloudy and distant to even start to comprehend what he was saying.

Minutes later, he was on the ground and there was a sword shoved in his chest as Quackity stood over him with a horrified expression.

“Mmm. Qua—” He coughed, blood forcing itself up his throat. “Quackity. What the fuck,” he slurred, his vision blurring.

Quackity seemed to say something, or at least mouth something, but all of the noise made no sense to Dream as he shrugged, turning his head away from his torturer.

His ears roared with white noise as he realized that Quackity’s hands were shaking and the man seemed to be screaming at him in rage.

“G’night,” Dream murmured as his vision went black.

He’ll see him again, no matter how many times he dies and no matter whose hand it’s to. He always does.

~*~*~

Dream opened his eyes, his head too foggy to think.

He never gets far in his time loops, his existence cut short by his death before he was forced to start all over again at the beginning after Sam saved a sullen Tommy from his cell.

He had succumbed to the same death many, many times. Sometimes he would try to make a run for it and end up being shot down by Sam’s crossbow (he doesn’t try to escape anymore nowadays, as the hope of freedom drained from him every time he woke after dying). Sometimes he starved to death in protest, or at least in hopes it would allow him to reach some sort of peace (it never does).

Death was excruciating but it’s graceful and calming, even if it only lasts a split-second before he was brought back to where he’s forced to start every time all over again to the same exact yells from Sam.

Dream inhaled. Today was a new life, and maybe, just maybe, something will be different.

~*~*~

Another time loop goes by and Dream listened mutely as Sapnap begged him to understand that they’ll still be best friends, even though Sapnap firmly believed that Dream needs to stay in the prison.

Sapnap said that he needs to stay there to get better.

Dream snorted at the idea; his mental health had plummeted the moment the netherite blocks had sealed his fate.

Allowing himself a couple of moments of rest from his mute protest, he commanded Sapnap to beat him to death after his silly rant, but when his friend denied him, he jumped into the lava himself.

Useless.

~*~*~

“Dream?”

“George!” Dream shouted, a burst of excitement in his chest. “George, oh my god, I can hear you!”

“Dream!”

Something lightened in his chest at the sound of his best friend’s voice and Dream hadn’t felt this happy in so long. It had been what felt like centuries for Dream, from how long he’s been stuck in this stupid time loop, dying over and over.

“It’s taking forever to mine through, but I’ll get you out of there, I swear,” George promised through the thick walls.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this, I—”

“Fuck!” George cut him off before… no…

There was shouting and Dream pressed his ear to the obsidian wall to listen, his jaw dropping as he heard scuffling.

“—the hell are you doing, George?”

“I—I—”

“I told you, George, if you try to pull this crap again that I would kill you.” Thump. “Until you were permanently dead.”

Dream was forced to listen as George screamed for help, flinching when George screamed for him.

Hot angry tears flooded his eyes as he punched the obsidian walls, only receiving bloody, bruised knuckles in return. He couldn’t do anything to help George, just listen to his cries for help and realize that this time, the time that matters most, he couldn’t save him. He couldn’t get revenge for him by exiling someone.

He collapsed to his knees, his eyes burning as he gasped for air.

“I’m so sorry, George!” Dream shouted, hoping his voice would make it to his best friend. “I love you! Run the fuck away! Please!”

But his attempts were futile and minutes later, Sam stalked to the entrance of his jail cell, his tone frigid as he told Dream of his best friend’s failed attempts to save him and the consequences of his actions. Dream turned his head and vomited at his words, tears streaming down his cheeks as he braced himself on the crying obsidian.

As he gasped for breath, Sam left him to be and his thoughts took him over, echoing George’s pleas in his head.

Dream whispered apologies to a ghost who would never forgive him, nails tearing at the flesh in his forearms. He must have been a crazed sight to see, as blood streamed down his wrists, numb to any pain he should have felt. But he deserved this, he deserved this. An eye for an eye. He doomed George by asking him to try to make a plan with him to save him from this dreaded prison, the last resort in hopes that if it went smoothly, his time loop would end.

But of course, of course it wasn’t and black spots buried his vision before he passed out, a sense of tranquility and warmth overwhelming him and—

He startles awake, his whole body trembling as he looks down to find his hands clean of any blood.

“Dream! What the hell did you do to Tommy?!”

And the cycle restarts, with Dream eternally trapped in this hellhole without any hope in sight.