Dream a Little Dream

The night had started like any other at the Coatl club.  It was busy for a weeknight a new show was being put on so the regulars were interested and that extended to the performers friends and family as well.  Gladstone had even convinced  Leonard to leave his shop and socialize. Admittedly this was because he knew the eagle was single, and Gladstone very recently had become very not single and so he thought he’d share the beauty that Oz had created with an eligible bachelor.  He was paraded around to be introduced to every glamorous woman in attendance whether the socially anxious man wanted the attention or not, it probably didn’t help that he still lived with his ex-wife but as she was currently a mini pig so that really didn’t seem much of a hurdle.  And while Gladstone could claim responsibility for getting Leonard out into the real world the real motivator was seated at a candid little table in a corner with an ibex nearly twice her size. Pleasantries were made and lots and lots of gorgeous women were introduced to the overwhelmed eagle before the first singer took the stage.   During a quiet moment Mambo decided to help poor Leonard and distract his hype man by linking arms with Gladstone and forcing him to come outside with her while she smoked a cigar.

They had a lovely conversation about not forcing women on people and how some men didn't like that kind of thing,  that went on longer than they expected so she indulged in another cigar before they decided to head back inside. That’s when the normalcy ended.

 

    • Gladstone Gander
      Gladstone Gander

      The moment he opened the door for her to renter Gladstone knew something was wrong.  When they left the club was noisy, the rumble of dozens of different conversations happening at once, the clinking of silverware and cocktail glasses,  live music settling over it all like a blanket... all of it was gone. Silence greeted their return and it made his blood go cold.  The scene that greeted them was no better.  Every single person: patron, employee, owner, all were collapsed, slumped onto their tables, fallen to the ground, or just doubled over themselves.  Mambo dashed to Matthew to find him in the same state but after a frantic moment realized that he was sleeping. A tense breath left her. They were all sleeping. She watched as the gander bolted backstage, tripping over dreamers on the floor a few times, only to come back pale with an unconscious, extremely glamorous, Lilly in his arms. 

      “She won’t wake up.” He croaked. “What do we do?”

      Mambo’s eyes scanned the room, Len had barely missed face planting into a lovely young woman’s cleavage, maybe she’d readjust him before he woke up to save his delicate sensibilities.  IF he woke up. A faint shimmer on the surface of the table caught her attention and she let out an irritated,“Ah-ha.” 

       Sleep sand, she’d seen it before, she’d actually bought some from it’s supplier when she was young and naive, a mistake she didn’t make twice, but at the very least she recognized it now.  “Nodoff.” She narrowed her eyes before motioning for Gladstone to put Lilly at the table, he slid her into a seat reluctantly, letting her head rest on her arms on the tablecloth. “We need  t’ loudest person here, someone in charge who kin scare dem awake if we kin get ‘em woken-“ Gladstone ran off before she finished.  She blinked once before she followed him, giving the sleeping Matthew a little pat as if to say ‘be right back’. 

      Mambo found the gander kneeling next to a strapping young man who had been pointed out to her as the owner.  Gladstone was slapping his cheeks lightly trying to rouse him.  Which, in her experience should have worked, but nothing happened. She smoothed down her skirt as she knelt along the other side of the quetzal and put her hand on the center of his forehead searching for  his consciousness. After a moment she frowned and looked at Gladstone who was already staring at her, desperation clear on his face.

      “He’s in dere. Or... at least de path to him is dere, he’s actually in t’ Dream World.” She expected the goose to ask a question but his eyes just widened knowingly.  She shouldn’t have been surprised, he was always pestering her to lend him her books on magical lore and legend, and the Dream World was as old as the stars and just as interesting.  There were even entire books written about it, she had seven.  Well that saved her some trouble in any case. “If we kin get him t’ realize he’s dreamin’ we can get him back here. “

      “How?”

      “Well, I kin get an astral projection in dere but I would need to be here t’ maintain t’ tether t’ reality, so it would have t’ be-“

      “Do it. I’m ready, what do you need me to do?”

      Mambo felt such a surge of warmth toward the dramatic little fool that she patted his cheek softly.  She positioned Gladstone to lay beside his friend with herself sitting cross legged at their heads. She smoothed their hair away from their foreheads gently like a mother checking for a fever and left her hands over the center, focusing her own third eye into them as a mode of conveyance.

      “I’ll be wid ya darlin’, if ya need me just talk. I’ll hear ya. Ready?”  Gladstone flashed a thumbs up before she pulled his consciousness out of him, the hand falling quickly to the ground, and channeled it through herself and into the sleeping Oz.

      What Gladstone would see once in his friend’s mind was anyone’s guess, she just hoped she was doing the right thing. 

      • Lilly Teal
        Lilly Teal

        'The right thing' was a tricky topic at the moment, what with nobody really capable of consenting to what was happening, and nobody having any idea of what to expect.

        What if everything went wrong? How much worse could it go with everyone not waking up?

        Let's not try to answer that question.

        Oz's mind might come as something of a relief, honestly. All the missing bustle and music that had been absent at the club after their return was very much present here.

        The brain was a mass of grey and white matter and couldn't physically hold more than a hand inside of it, but minds were expansive. One could argue they were whole worlds, whole landscapes in their own right. The current mindscape was a lively one. Rather like the club, but less about sitting around and watching performers and more of a giant dance floor that stretched out from one end to the other. It was hard to tell where the performers ended and where the customers began. Was there a difference here? Did it matter? Wasn't the point just to have fun and look beautiful?

        Coloured lights winked merrily around the place, and the music had an infectious, thumping beat. Everyone on the floor seemed to be having a wonderful time, dressed to perfection, drinks in hand that kept coming off the car with no hesitation.

        Well say. This was the kind of mind one could spend a lot of time in.

        • Gladstone Gander
          Gladstone Gander

          Gladstone appeared in the middle of it all, as if he slid through a crack in the air that vanished as soon as he came through it.  As a result he was jostled by gyrating bodies and assaulted by pulsing music. The faces around him were unfamiliar, he looked around standing on his tip toes to try to see through the crowd but it was impossible.  This was strange, had Mambo just sent him to a dance party? How was that- a drink found it's way into his hand- helpful? 

          "What is this place?"

          -Yer in his mind. Ya have t' find him, wake him up.-

          Okay, so that was Mambo in his head, so... guess this was really happening? Or... not really happening for real, but the Dream World head invasion was really happening... ugh this was confusing. He tapped the closest dancer. 

          "EXCUSE ME!" he shouted over the music to the person, weaving his drink in the air to avoid the energetic crowd  from smacking it all over him. "I'M LOOKING FOR OZ.  HAVE YOU SEEN HIM?"

          • Lilly Teal
            Lilly Teal

            "WHAT?" the dancer called back, pausing to take a sip of his drink. "I CAN'T HEAR A THING YOU'RE SAYING."

            And yet you're still responding, this doesn't sound like it's going to get us anywhere.

            After a moment of "WHAT?" "WHAT?!" "I CAN'T-" and so on, he seemed to realise the futility of the situation, and took the gander's arm. He may have said come with me. It was hard to tell.

            The dancers here seemed to know their way around, at least enough that he managed to secure them quieter alcove where one could hear oneself think. And each other speak, even better. Looking down at Gladstone, he grinned flirtily.

            "So." They were squeezed in quite close to each other under the pretext of getting away from the noise. How cozy. They had even managed to keep hold of their drinks. "You're looking for someone?"

            Did you find him, hot stuff?

            • Gladstone Gander
              Gladstone Gander

              Gladstone was grateful to be somewhere the music wasn't slamming against his eardrums... his... astral projected eardrums-? Don't think too much about it.  You'll hurt yourself.  He still had to watch the man's mouth to work out what he was saying, which probably was not helping his current situation at all most likely. But as a result he saw the smile, and understood the question. He opened his mouth drawing a long breath, holding up a finger but then just let it out as a "hrrrm" as he tried to figure out what to do.  

              "I am." He finally decided. "I hope you can help me, I'm looking for my friend, he's gorgeous. Tall, blonde, great dancer, I think you'll like him.  Goes by the name 'Oz' ever heard of him?" 

               

              Let's see if plan A worked. Plan B could be... problematic.

              • Lilly Teal
                Lilly Teal

                There was a faint flicker of disappointment at the description. Ah, you're actually looking for someone. And he certainly sounds like someone worth looking for.

                On the other hand, maybe the mystery 'Oz' would like to be introduced to more people~

                "Oz. Oz..." he mused. "You know the name sounds familiar, I just can't figure out why. Is he a regular?"

                He would like to say that he'd have remembered someone like that, but he never paid enough attention to his surroundings to be certain. The party was always too much fun. Who could pay attention to anything?

                "I tell you what, he might be closer to the centre of the floor. There's a knot of people dancing there, and they're amazing, your man might be one of them. We can push through and look."

                Or... you know find a nice couch to get comfortable? The hand on his shoulder could go either way.

                From somewhere in that knot of people came a loud, energetic laugh.

                I'd know that laugh anywhere!

                • Gladstone Gander
                  Gladstone Gander

                  Center of the floor.  He looked back to the mass of people trying to look over the top of them and not getting nearly tall enough even on the very tips of his toes.  He realized how close this position had brought him to the other man and glanced at him out of the corner of his eye giving him a quick once over.  Attractive.  There was a time that he may have been a little more enthusiastic about his attention but he was a one woman man now. Beside he was a literal dream man... huh. He turned his head to look at the guy properly, examining his face, did Oz have a type? He'd never had any deep heart to hearts with Oz, it was always just friendly flirtation and conversation. He'd never seen him with anyone like that. In fact, anytime he saw him he was either alone and immediately invading Gladstone's personal space and showering him with attention, or he was with one of the girls talking about work. Did Oz have any friends other than the people he bullied into working for him? ...well he had him. Although it was becoming clear that he was a lousy friend. He felt so very cold for a moment, he should make plans to hang out with Oz one on one. Do something fun, get to know him better, do more than just loiter and drink his alcohol.  He shook his head now was not the time for this. He took the hand that was on his shoulder into his own and motioned toward the dance floor with a charming smile.

                  "Lead me there?" 

                  He was glad that he'd asked because as he was pulled through the throng of people he nearly got turned around twice.  There were just so many people.  After a full song he would finally find himself in the center of the dance floor.  Alright Oz... he looked for a familar sight to go along with that familiar laugh. Where are you?

                  • Lilly Teal
                    Lilly Teal

                    The tall man with the very intense eyes (why yes that looked like a type) held onto Gladstone's hand and pulled him out into the floor with a wink, keeping a tight hold as they pushed through.

                    Somewhere right in the middle of the centre, through gaps of bodies, there was a flash of bright blonde hair, and finally Oz was visible. He was a one-man ball of energy, it didn't look like he was ready to stop dancing anytime soon, somehow managing to carry on half-unheard conversations with the people around him and with him at the same time. Men, women, all by himself, it didn't matter, he was just ready to dance and have a good time.

                    Grabbing a laughing woman by both hands, they executed a neat spin together, letting one hand go halfway through and twisting so they were back to back, facing other partners and handing off smoothly. Just being near him seemed to make people smoother in their movements.

                    Every now and again he would go from a pair or a group to himself, but he either didn't notice or didn't care at all. It was during one of those moments, between a pulse of the lights, that he bumped into the both of them and caught on almost instinctively. When the didn't seem to respond, he afforded them a little more attention, and broke out into a huge grin.

                    "Well hello hello!"

                     

                    • Gladstone Gander
                      Gladstone Gander

                      "Hi!" Gladstone smiled despite himself.  He'd never seen Oz so openly enjoying himself before, look at him go! Speaking of go, he released his guide's hand so that he could try to keep his friend's attention, he looked like he was about to move on. He grabbed him and started dancing with him, keeping pace while trying to shout over the music. "I need to talk to you! It's important! Can I steal you for a-" 

                      Someone else had already stolen him, a couple someones actually, were falling over themselves to dance with with the blonde dynamo. Gladstone let out an irritated sigh and cut back in, finding himself drawn into the energetic little cluster eagerly. Everyone just loved dancing, and yes so did he but... not right now PLEASE. His hand took hold of Oz's collar and tugged him down so he could shout in the direction of his ear.

                      "Seriously! I SERIOUSLY need to talk to you." 

                       

                      Look at my face, this is my serious face.

                      • Lilly Teal
                        Lilly Teal

                        The momentum of the tug was transformed into a dip as he caught Gladstone around the waist and leaned into the tug. It meant his ear was definitely more on par with his beak, and he leaned back slightly to look down at Gladstone's face with a slightly confused expression.

                        But-

                        Wow, that is a serious face. He genuinely couldn't remember him looking this serious.

                        It was probably something like 'I accidentally caused a mob standoff in the club I'm so sorry.'

                        Just when he was enjoying a night out. Can't catch a break, when you're competent and in charge and beautiful.

                        There was something about the pulse of the music and the insistent movement of bodies that was making it hard to focus. He wanted to get back in there. But he was very fond of Gladstone, so he knew he owed it to him to listen to what he had to say, even if he really didn't want to right now.

                        Are you sure it won't keep? Glancing up, his made eye contact with the taller man and grinned slightly. Really, really sure it won't keep until later?

                        No, no, focus.

                        Nodding slightly, he pulled him back up out of the dip and swung him around to a very slightly quieter area. Not quite the intimate alcove of before, but that probably wouldn't have been less distracting for him right now.

                        • Gladstone Gander
                          Gladstone Gander

                          "Okay-" he held up his hands once they were somewhere where he didn't have to physically keep his attention on him. "-this is going to sound weird. You're dreaming, and I really need you to wake up. I know it probably feels like this is real but it's not.  We're actually laying on the ground at the club with a witch projecting me into your mind to try to snap you out of some kind of magic sleep. So... if you could just," he snapped his fingers. "-pop open those peepers I'd really appreciate it." 

                          The aforementioned witch let out a heaving sigh that no one heard. Very convincing Gladstone.

                          • Lilly Teal
                            Lilly Teal

                            Oz blinked slowly, once, twice, and then let out a laugh.

                            "Do I need to tell the bartender to cut you off, Gladstone?" Because it really does sound like you've had a few too many to drink. "Or is this your version of a very confusing pick-up line? If it is, it needs a lot of work."

                            You know, you must be dreaming because here I am, etc.

                            As I said, it needs a lot of work.

                            "Look, why don't we get you a cold glass of water, then you come back out and sweat out some of that alcohol, huh? Or I'll just put you on one of the couches-" he jerked his head slightly to indicate the couches along the walls of the dance floor, incredibly plush and inviting and remarkably clean given their constant proximity to glasses that were being waved around. "-and you have a little rest."

                            Rest sounds good, right? You don't look fully well.

                            • Gladstone Gander
                              Gladstone Gander

                              Oh well thank you noticing, I'm not feeling fully well. I'm feeling very panicked and out of my depth and worried sick that all the people I care about will never wake up again. So yeah, not at the peak of health.

                              "'Pick up-?'  No, Oz you gotta believe me. This isn't real what if you like.. pinch yourself or like-" he cycled his hands desperately in the air trying to think of something.

                              -It's his dream, maybe he kin control it?- Mambo suggested. -Breathe dear, yer doin' fine.-

                              "Right... Right. So this is a dream." He pointed to the ground. "And you're the dreamer." He pointed to Oz. "So you should be able to shape it how you want.  Think of something crazy like... a narwhal in a tutu doing the worm?" 

                              Out of the corner of his eye he saw a large sheep dressed as a bouncer watching the interaction. A quick glance around and he counted five other sheep, all observing them.  This was not going well, he felt his panic swell in his chest and his breathing quicken. Which probably made him look even more strung out.  

                              "Do you see them?" He asked Mambo, but really it looked like he was just talking to himself.

                              -I do, they dun belong dere. Try t' act natural.  But dun let them near ya...they're probably in on dis, ya should try t' follow one. We might be able t' figure out whad they're up to if yer friend still dun wanna play along.-

                              At this point though she was questioning whether or not Oz had any control of this dream at all, he seemed more of a prisoner who hadn't noticed he was in a cell  yet.

                              • Lilly Teal
                                Lilly Teal

                                "See what?" Oz's brow creased further, and he looked around the crowd of dancers. There's nothing to see, Gladstone, what are you talking about?

                                At least, he hadn't acted like there was anything to see, but his frown was even deeper as he looked back at Gladstone.

                                "You know," he said, his voice much lower. "I don't remember those bouncers at all. There's only supposed to be one, and he's-"

                                Something flickered slightly in the air just to the left of them as he tried to bring the bouncer he remembered to mind, but either the flickering half-image distracted him, or he had officially lost the last vestiges of his control over this dream, because it only flickered for a moment before it faded away.

                                "... yeah. Was kind of like that. Gladstone I'm starting to believe you. And if those bouncers mean trouble..."

                                I'd like to wake up. But.

                                Blink.

                                Nothing's happening.

                                • Gladstone Gander
                                  Gladstone Gander

                                  The nearest sheep started moving through the dancers toward them. Gladstone patted Oz's chest urgently.

                                  "Good, yes believe me! But it seems like maybe this isn't going to be that easy." Because WHY would it be? He looked around and noticed the other 'bouncers' were beginning to move as well. "We need to throw them off, maybe I can figure out what's going on and... and you keep an eye on them? Act like everything's fine?  Or... argh-" He tried not to stare as the sheep got closer.  He suddenly grabbed Oz's shirt and gave him a desperate little shake. "How DARE you dance with other men in front of ME!" he shouted dramatically. "I thought I MEANT something to you!

                                  I don't know, said his eyes, I have no idea what I'm doing.

                                  But the sheep had stopped, still watching but no longer closing in.

                                  • Lilly Teal
                                    Lilly Teal

                                    And women, don't forget!

                                    "I..." Oz hesitated for half a second, but the look in the gander's eyes was enough to know he needed a little support in his play-acting. Lifting his hands to his shirt, he tried to put them on Gladstone's soothingly.

                                    "Of... course, of course you do! Baby, I'm so sorry, I was just messing around!" His response was just as dramatic, his face despairing as he 'tried' to detach the hands from his shirt. "It's just a dance, it doesn't mean anything!"

                                    Was it working? He hoped it was, he didn't dare turn around, keeping his eyes locked on his friend through their little drama, as people around them paused, curious about the spectacle they were creating. Lover's quarrel! Always fun!

                                    ... hopefully it wasn't going to turn into a physical fight.

                                    "I was going to invite you, I swear!"

                                    • Gladstone Gander
                                      Gladstone Gander

                                      I can't do this kind of thing alone.  I'm not smart enough or brave enough without someone physically here to help me, I'm not a solo adventurer.  

                                      "He swears!" Gladstone scoffed and flicked his hands off and away from Oz's. "I've been tossed aside, forgotten! After all we've been through, I shouldn't be surprised!  This is like Macaw all over again, where you disappeared with those performers for three days!" Gladstone grabbed the closest observer, a young lithe woman who was very interested in this quality of street theater. "Is it because I'm not attractive anymore?  Am I too OLD for you? Ms. what do you think?"  She opened her mouth to reply but he shoved her aside lightly throwing up his hands. "OH what's the point?" He wailed burying his face in his hands and hunching his shoulders forward. "You were the best thing that ever happened to me."

                                      The crowd, while still interested, seemed a little more uncomfortable than previously. A fight was one thing but watching someone get their heart ripped out was not everyone's piece of cake... plus there was still music playing and if they were dancing they didn't have to think about bad feelings. The crowd thinned and took a few of the sheep with it. 

                                      • Lilly Teal
                                        Lilly Teal

                                        "Gladdy, Gladdy nooooo," he said pathetically, trailing after him only to wrap his arms around his shoulders from behind. "It's not like that."

                                        His cheek was giving a mock-ingratiating nuzzle, under the guise of which Oz could whisper "I think I saw a door way at the back over there. Might be a way out?"

                                        "Please," he went on, at a level people could hear, injecting a level of fond hope in his voice. "Let's go somewhere quiet and talk this out. Let me make it up to you?" And slightly lower, but definitely not too low that it wasn't audible to eavesdroppers. "On a nice comfy couch?"

                                        For instance, that couch right over there, that is totally coincidentally near the door I was talking about? It is totally and completely natural for us to move there, nothing to see here, move along everyone.

                                        • Gladstone Gander
                                          Gladstone Gander

                                          The nearest bouncer frowned at the scene and shook his head lightly before he started to edge away from them seeming to be convinced they were just part of the show.

                                          Gladstone let out a soft breath.  Part of the act but also part of the oh yes please go away we're totally not onto you at all. 

                                          "I should slug you... but, you know I could never say no to you." He murmured warmly nodding at the whispered suggestion. "But don't think this means you're off the hook." Gladstone slid out from Oz's arms and took his hand pulling him lightly toward the indicated corner. "I can resist you if I try hard enough... I know I can." 

                                          The lingering people parted before them as he lead Oz off, the door was almost within reach when it suddenly opened. A sheep and a short green skinned creature exited the room and paused their conversation at the sight of them.

                                          "I TAKE IT BACK! MY DESIRE BURNS TOO BRIGHT!" Gladstone spun around and physically threw Oz on the nearby couch climbing on top of him.  He lowered his face so that they were cheek to cheek, due to the dramatic posturing and positioning to the casual observer it would look as if they were kissing.  Gladstone winced and grit his teeth waiting for the other shoe to fall.  But the ruse seemed to work. A little startled and seemingly unprepared for such an extravagant display of affection the strange pair quickly walked away from that secluded door.  "Are they gone?" He hissed in Oz's very near ear.

                                          • Lilly Teal
                                            Lilly Teal

                                            I'm sorry is who gone? I think that aggressive display and you climbing on top of me shut off major parts of my brain and I'm only operating on a small part that's saying 'do that again some more'.

                                            Oh right. Right. Potential danger and discovery. Need to focus. Trying not to move too much, he flicked his eyes sideways and then nodded. "Gone. There's still a sheep looking at us, but they left the door half-open. When I tell you, we rush through, yeah?"

                                            Was it an exit? He hoped it was. Why else would the sheep and the... green... thing? be using it?

                                            One.

                                            Two..

                                            "Now now now." Grabbing his hand, he almost lifted the gander bodily through the door as he threw himself through it, clicking it shut.

                                            Well. It wasn't an exit.

                                            There was some sort of light coming from the security camera screens on the wall. It was just not a very optimistic light, a little harsh and unpleasant, actually. And was it just Oz, or was there a bit of a chill in the air? The room felt very... lonely. He shivered.

                                            "You know what, I don't think I want to be in here after all..."

                                            Even worse, every security screen seemed to be looping distantly filmed clips of him if he looked close enough. Dancing. Looking confused. Being dramatic. Being tossed onto the couch.

                                            He tried not to look too close at how ridiculous he looked.

                                            • Gladstone Gander
                                              Gladstone Gander

                                              As fate would have it the sheep that was still watching them just saw an over excited couple tossing each other around as if attempting to assert their dominance over the other.  Oz throwing Gladstone through the door and then closing it behind them was... well...phew. The sheep fanned his blushing face as he turned back to the dance floor.

                                              As soon as the door was closed and he regained his senses, he was not used to being tossed around like that, he started to laugh. 

                                              "I can't believe that worked!"  It was a happy statement, a happy laugh, but something happened as soon as it hit the air.  The laugh sounded different.  Snide, disbelieving and the words echoed that sentiment as well.  Even the smile on his face in the light of the monitors seemed more of a sneer. As if to say 'like anyone would believe I'd ever be interested in you. HA.' "You're amazing. You know that? One of these days I'm going to stop being So impressed." Again, the inflection changed from his intention and he frowned at how uncomfortable Oz looked.  

                                              Oz looked comfortable everywhere, what...was this place? He patted the quetzal on the back, aiming for comforting, but coming out condescending.  

                                              "Hey," He focused really hard on his delivery and with some effort he was able to keep it genuine. "-you're doing great." 

                                              Now where were they? He walked to the monitors and frowned at the contents of the looping feeds.  The flickering light painting his features in a judgmental scowl.

                                              "They're all you. Ah!" He pointed at one grinning 'wickedly' and watched himself throw Oz on the sofa. "... we make such a cute couple."  Laugh right? That was a lighthearted little comment? The kind of flirty banter that was their bread and butter?  Why didn't he look like he was going to laugh, and why wasn't he looking at the tvs? Gladstone shook his head and started messing with the control panel. Instead of the feed from the club outside different scenes from Oz's life where lighting up the screens in various acts of vulnerability and almost inviting harsh criticism. Gladstone wasn't even looking up from the panel as he continued to press any button he felt like.

                                              "Maybe we can find the feed for the cameras, find our exit, or maybe even the one for this room, see what the little goblin thing was doing here."

                                              -Dat's Nodoff.  T' ruler of t' Dream World.-

                                              Gladstone paused and turned to Oz.

                                              "You attracted the attention of the King of the Dream World? You handsome devil you." 

                                              • Lilly Teal
                                                Lilly Teal

                                                What was important to remember, what he was struggling to remember, was that Gladstone was his friend, and would never be sneering, judgemental or condescending.

                                                Yes, he'd probably put him in his place if need be, but not sneer. Never. This was out of character and unnatural for the gander, and therefore not what was really happening. Despite that, Oz struggled to separate the words from the tone. Something was wrong. It was far too easy to believe he was being laughed at in here.

                                                What was the word he'd used for the room? Lonely? Add unwelcoming into that. Unwelcoming but strangely cloying, like if you sat down to start watching the screens you would find it very, very hard to get leave again.

                                                ... the room. Something was wrong with this room. It was the acoustics and the lighting. That had to be it.

                                                Or, if this was a dream, this was the part where it started turning into a bad one.

                                                "Haha. Yeah." He tried to respond with his usual casual confidence, but the words didn't come out quite right. They were smaller, more hesitant, and his smile was almost apologetic in this light.

                                                "Let's do this and get out of here fast, please. I've been trying to pinch myself awake but nothing's happening."

                                                Shouldn't I be able to wake up if it's MY dream?

                                                • Gladstone Gander
                                                  Gladstone Gander

                                                  Gladstone flipped a few switches and squinted up at the screens shaking his head. Nothing was happening except the images on the screens were changing. He watched one where a much younger Oz was dancing in front of his bedroom mirror and smiled lightly.  He tapped it.

                                                  “You were so… cute.”  He really was.  Gladstone would have been horrified if he had heard the way his own voice was betraying him.  “But this is useless.” (Just like you.) “There has to be something here-“ (other than your stupid home movies you ego maniac) “-that they were in here for.”

                                                  He turned to give the rest of the room a once over but froze when he saw Oz.  He barely even looked like himself.  The bravado and confidence seemed to have been wrung out of him.  

                                                  “Are you okay?”(Oh my God, WHAT is wrong with you?)

                                                  He put a hand on his shoulder and pivoted to search the room with his eyes.

                                                  “Mambo I have no idea what I’m looking for. Can you help me please? What is this Nodoff guy’s deal?”

                                                  -Lemme jus-

                                                  Gladstone’s eyes flared purple and he blinked a few times, his irises glowing a faint violet.

                                                  “Uh… are you… controlling my… eyes?”

                                                  -Shh. Yes. Clairvoyance.-

                                                  “Awesome.” He breathed with a grin. His eyes moved around rapidly at their own accord until they fixed on a gap between the wall and the side of the monitoring equipment.

                                                  -Whad is that there? Go look, see t’ red ting?-

                                                  “Yeah… I do. Hang tight buddy,” (Chief, sport, any other name used in placating a small child.) The gander approached the item in question, it was a long red cylinder with clear portions, sparkling sleep sand was swirling inside it like a tornado. “There’s writing on it… R.E.M. Rod? Huh. It looks like it’s been stabbed into the side of this machine. Let me see if I can pull it out-“ He reached out and the instant his fingers touched the casing a jolt ran through him and his eyes slammed open.

                                                  There was a brief moment when Oz was in the room alone, and Gladstone was staring at the Coatl club ceiling under Mambo’s touch. It was only about five seconds before his body slumped again, and he reappeared in the Dream World falling to the floor, shaking out the hand that had touched the REM Rod.

                                                  “…That… was not great.” He looked at his hand, and oh his eyes were his own again. “Mambo?”

                                                  -I’m fine. But dis isn’t yer fight Glad, maybe have him try t’ get rid a’ th’ ting.-

                                                  “Oz, that thing right there.” He pointed to the bright red bar. “That’s what’s most likely keeping you here. If you can get it out, we can both get out of here. For good.” (And I can finally get away from you.)

                                                   

                                                  • Lilly Teal
                                                    Lilly Teal

                                                    Something about the hand on his shoulder made his skin crawl, and now he knew that wasn't right. It was like he was hearing an echo behind Gladstone's words, saying other, nastier words that fit more accurately with the tone he was speaking with.

                                                    Uncomfortably shrugging the hand off, he felt his shoulders hunch together slightly, trying to take up less space, his face suffused with an expression of distaste. Whether it was at Gladstone, or at the situation, or at himself, it was hard to tell. Thankfully Gladstone was busy with the mysterious thing in the side of the machine, and didn't notice. Not that it mattered if Oz was noticed...

                                                    No. No that wasn't him. He was OZ, it always mattered if he was noticed, whether positively or negatively. It was how he thrived. And dealt with the little insecurities by not letting them get to him because he was so loud, so bright, so unapologetic, that yes, maybe people didn't like him but that didn't matter because he liked himself, and people noticed.

                                                    In the back of his mind he knew this room existed within him. And sometimes he came in here to laugh, and maybe nod a little, because yes here was a little something to fix, but without getting upset about it.

                                                    But that was in his mind. That was in dreams. Really being here was another story. And having someone else in here, seeing the light and the air work on them, was horrible.

                                                    And then Gladstone disappeared. In the brief moment of time it took for him to come back, Oz had nearly fallen against the nearest wall, legs weak. No no don't you leave me alone in this place, come back, hate me, condescend, sneer, whatever just say something it's so quiet.

                                                    Gladstone was back. Gladstone was talking. He didn't register what he was saying but it would probably sound horrible, so it was for the best. His hands went up to his hair to tug it it with a little 'nngh' as he looked at where the gander was pointing.

                                                    Oh.

                                                    No, that doesn't belong there. His golden eyes narrowed. Is that what's keeping me here? How... dare...

                                                    At the very thought, he felt a little stronger about everything, a little warmer, because he was insulted as he strode over to it, ignoring the screens entirely. How DARE someone come into HIS mind and stick things in it, keeping him here?

                                                    "Why that little," a tug. "Good for nothing," another tug. "Slimeball!"

                                                    Aaaaand it was out! He nearly fell over from the force of his own pulling, which was frankly more violent than the rod needed. Turning to Gladstone, he held it up and started to laugh. The gander's face already looked more real. More like the Gladstone he liked.

                                                    "I'm going to wake up now," he said, feeling it at the back of his mind as he grinned with slightly idiotic euphoria. "So don't go off and start drinking."

                                                    Golden eyes snapped open, and he stared up at the ceiling for half a second before rolling over and straddling the awakening Gladstone with a serious face.

                                                    "You don't tell anyone about what you just saw, get it?"

                                                    • Gladstone Gander
                                                      Gladstone Gander

                                                      Gladstone took in a hissing breath as his consciousness crashed back into his own body like a wave into a jetty. It took a moment to register the warmth of another body on top of him and he cracked open his eyes.  The familiar face, no matter how serious it was made tears well up in his eyes and he closed them quickly with a nod.

                                                      "Woodchucks honor." He croaked.  Oh, thank you. He wasn't sure that was going to work. But here they were.

                                                      Mambo took Oz gently by the forearm and tried to get him off of the goose.

                                                      "C'mon now, give him some space. Let's get ya sometin' t' take t' edge off. Ya want two Glad?" She didn't wait for an answer. " I'll make ya two."

                                                      She carefully lead Oz through the minefield of sleeping people to the corner of the bar. She gave him a warm little smile.

                                                      "We haven't been properly introduced, I'm dat witch he was tellin ya about. Ya kin call me Mambo." She motioned toward the still prone goose before she leaned in and winked at him. "I'm his landlady. Now," she moved behind the bar and bottles started floating to her. "-whad ya need is sometin' strong wid some caffeine in it. Cuz I'm tinkin' yer not gun' want t' go to sleep anytime soon."  She mixed a combination of things together and even though it wasn't anything at all what she'd used she slid a Jamaican coffee to him. Nice and strong. Like it wanted to wake you up and punch you out at the same time. She craned her neck to look around Oz and pity flashed across her face for an instant before she shouted out. "Leave her be she ain't goin' nowhere. C'mere and take care of yerself first." 

                                                      Two tall glasses filled with fizzing liquid were set down on the bar beside Oz just in time for Gladstone to come and seize one and down it immediately. It seemed to warm him up and with a steadying breath he wrapped both hands around the other one.

                                                      "Do you feel okay?" He glanced at Oz out of the corner of his eye. 

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