DISCLAIMER: I own nothing. I write this fanfiction for no profit nor expect to receive profit. The beginning quote is credited to Francisco de Goya and is from a famous painting.

A/N: I may have got the name of a certain school wrong; please bear with me.

The sleep of reason brings forth monsters…

It's always the same dream. She's standing in front of the mirror in the girls' bathroom, the one next to the art classroom that she always goes to because it's usually been cleaned and has a fresh supply of soap, raising her hands to fix her hair. In the mirror she's looking at Heather beside her, and they smile at each other's reflection. She sometimes mistakes it for a normal school day, everything fine, though these days she's at Westleafe and it's all different.

It all changes then, and the mirror blurs and shimmers into a hundred different dancing colours, and she looks at her face and it's no longer hers but something maybe out of a horror movie or one of Mark's video games, something alien and freakish. She turns to face Heather, but she's different too, looking at her with nothing but hatred in her eyes. She takes a step backwards, frightened of the fury in the eyes of her oldest friend, and then Heather raises a sword and lunges to stab her.

The colours swirl again, and she wants to scream but she can't, she can't escape or move or even defend herself, she's standing pushed against a wall, and hideously there's a laughing skeleton in front of her, then there's a wash of green light and she's adrift on a sea of flashing images. She thinks she sees Mark, grown up and handsome, and someone who might be Chuck surrounded by machinery, and looming brick walls almost like her old school's rising to imprison her, but it's all going too fast for her to really notice, and she thinks her body's ripping itself apart and reassembling in a thousand different locations.

She knows that at this point she starts twisting and turning in her bed, because the girls in the dormitory tell her she disturbs them, and she wants to wake up but no matter what happens she can't.

She's running along the ground, four legs moving in coordination and grass blurring just underneath her nose, and she sees Wayne's face looming above her at twice its normal size, but then it morphs into something green and horrible with wings and a smirk on its face, and next she's standing across from someone who isn't Mark, and there's peace for a second. He smiles and reaches out a hand to her as a hint of a phrase from one of Mark's favourite songs plays, and she sometimes thinks she might like this part of the dream, but then she sees skeletons and tentacles and strange lights cutting through the night and animal screams all mixed up together in segues of colour and noise, and she feels her body shifting and changing, and she needs to wake up now…

She wakes then, sweaty and tangled in her sheets, and hopes that nobody's heard her.

The nightmares have been getting rarer these days, now she's moved to boarding school. She hasn't talked to anyone about them. She'll get over them, like she'll get over Mark too, eventually.


He doesn't need much sleep, he likes to say to himself, because he's a busy man who runs a business, and, anyway, he hasn't been sleeping easy of late. Must be the stress of carrying out a Master Plan, anyone would be stressed. Since he was the skinny nerd in high school he's been drinking at least three cups of black coffee a day; as he says, he doesn't need much sleep.

In his dreams, there's spurts of memories that could've come from his collected images of everything that's happened at the carnival, from all the recordings he's made of Kilobyte's experiences, but he sees the world differently somehow. He feels powerful in the dreams, walking with complete self-assurance and pride, and he thinks he might be dreaming that he is Kilobyte, but he doesn't like to think about that so much. He first got the idea for Kilobyte's construction from a daydream, while he was dozing off at an interminable meeting to request extra funding from the company, and if truth be told Kilobyte's simply an exaggerated version of himself with powers. He doesn't think about that very often.

He wonders if Kilobyte or any of them have the ability to dream, and he thinks, probably not. It's not like they're human after all. He thinks that, though, Kilobyte's dreams would be something like his, bits of memory interspersed with the overwhelming feeling of power that he made sure to program into Kilobyte. He'll be flying seated on the giant wasp, a wilder ride than any aeroplane he's ever taken, swooping for Fred to catch Lightning in a gaping jaw. When he wakes up, he'll uncomfortably remember that his best—and only—friend in high school was called Fred, but he doesn't want to go there, especially considering that Fred died in a car accident, twenty-odd years ago now.

Or he'll see Lightning's face glaring at him, and there'll be an overpowering sense of hatred, a dark miasma that's almost palpable. When he wakes from those dreams, he feels a redoubled urge to finish off his Master Plan, destroy those irritating fictional superheroes and get rid of those damn kids. He thinks that both he and Kilobyte are rather obsessive on the subject of Ace Lightning, but he likes to congratulate himself on Kilobyte's successes in defeating the hero.

Occasionally he has those sort of dreams, mostly featuring Lady Illusion, who always did remind him of the snotty bitch from high school that he had a crush on for four years, something about the eyes. But those were pretty normal, considering that they'd made her a voluptuous shapeshifter for a reason. Once he dreamed of the Knights, the urge to dominate expressing itself in a truly disturbing fashion. He's not into that sort of thing in real life, not that he's had toomany chances to find out.

He wonders if he's created a monster, and if his dreams and his computer tricks mean that the distance between fantasy and reality has been eternally blurred, but he doesn't think about that one too often. After all, bringing fictional monsters to life was the main part of his Master Plan. And anyway he's winning, for now.


She doesn't have nightmares. She's always been a sound sleeper, she has to be, because she likes to keep very busy and she needs her rest so she can keep up with herself. She makes sure she's in bed by ten at the latest, and she's up at six every morning, except when she has early swimming to go to. So she doesn't dream much, and she certainly doesn't think about her dreams. She's not that kind of person.

Sometimes she'll be flying, faster than anything she's ever experienced, with a level of detail that makes even the most realistic movies she's ever seen look pitiful. She's fearless of course, looping and sweeping through the air ready to take on anything. The dreams are only that though, and sometimes when she wakes up she'll have tears on her cheeks because she's lost that flying feeling. She quickly washes her face and starts her daily schedule after that.

Sometimes the dreams are more complicated, and she's looking in the mirror at Sam's face next to her, and her friend's flawless chocolate-coloured skin that she's always secretly envied changes into a shade of green. The strange woman in the mirror glares at her at her with hatred, and she raises a sword—sometimes she'll think, this is so incredibly cool—and moves to shoot her. Before she reaches the woman, the scene shifts suddenly, and there's another flying moment. Then she's aiming pink beams of light at strange creatures, decimating all before her, and she laughs with glee. She's changed, her body's different in some ways, taller and more slender, but she's still basically the same person, confident and fearless and always ready to go.

Sometimes she'll be flying beside a man, who takes to the air as easily as a bird, and they swoop around the sky together and try to outdo each other in acrobatic feats. She knows he means something important to her, but she's not quite sure what. She thinks he reminds her of an older Mark, but she doesn't want to go there. These days, she hates Mark, who is a complete jerk. She definitely hates him, obsessively as necessary even if Sam remains deluded, and she doesn't want pretty blond guys flying anywhere near her dreams making her think she likes them or something.

Sometimes she'll be standing in a different world, where the colours are all wrong and everything's twisted, and she raises her sword to fight but there's too many of them, and when her friend's disappeared she's alone. She has to run then, and tries her best to fight when she can, because she's never been the running type. She forgets those dreams very quickly. She has better things to do.

These days, though, she doesn't have so many dreams of the alien world, and she thinks, Now I'm back, before remembering who and where she is. There's sometimes a feeling of being sucked through a portal, blue and pink whirling around her like one of those old time-travel movies, and she wakes up feeling an ache in her right leg, a red mark around her thigh, and an urge to jump into action. She likes the latter feeling; it suits her.


He occasionally has dreams, but his real life offers him more than enough to be going on with. He doesn't need to tell anyone, and he doesn't think Ace would understand anyway.

In his dreams, he's within the game, except he is Ace, and he's trapped but he's blasting away anyway. He'll try to defeat them, but they just keep coming back at him, the Cactus Men and the zombies and the circus acts and all the rest of the strange creatures, bobbing around like Googler on crack. He keeps firing, but in the end there's too many of them, and then he hears Lord Fear laughing. Again. He's had enough game overs to last him a lifetime, and when he's awake he thinks it's unfair that in his dreams he has to face them again.

He'll dream of flying through the air, doing loop-the-loops and barrel rolls and twists and turns through a bright sky. At times Sparx is there too, and they fly together for a while. When he wakes up he wonders whether Ace feels this light and free, all the time.

From time to time he dreams about Sam or Kat or occasionally Heather, and he knows that he's a teenage boy and it's normal. What's not normal is when Sam morphs into Lady Illusion, and he knows that that's just scary considering the number of times she's tried to kill him. He really doesn't think Ace would want to know about that.

Since Ace got the human emotions, the dreams have been coming less frequently; which, he thinks, is definitely a good thing. He's confused enough as it is; being a teenager is hard, and harder still if you're trying to save the world as we know it and still make it home in time for curfew. He's had a few disturbing dreams lately, of anger and obsession and cold resolve; he doesn't think about those. He's got more than enough to be going on with after all.


A/N: Any and all feedback is appreciated. Email is on my profile page.