Ari had just turned seven when he realized. Not that he hadn’t been doing it as long as he could remember—that spidery reach through the heaviness of sleep to explore across minds, across worlds, even—night after night like a neverending, ever-shifting adventure. But it was the year he turned seven, his world torn to shreds, his parents murdered, his brother missing, that he first heard himself named: valuable, important, fearsome, Dreamer. He was always alone then, fed and cared for by faceless strangers, kept at a safe distance like some terrifying monster they’d been forced to adopt as a pet. They could control his movements, but not his mind, so he slept more, reached out further, and that’s when he found her. She fed him what he needed most: music, art, stories… love. He gobbled it up whole, not thinking to be careful, not thinking about whether he was taking too much. He slept and he waited, ravenous and wanting, for her next dream to begin.
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