A Game of Lives


By Tori Morris

Disclaimer: The Sandman, and all related characters, including Thessaly and Dream, Lucien and all the others belong to DC. They're all the brain children of Neil Gaimen...I'm just borrowing them to fill in a missing space with some imagining of my own.

Summary: Thessaly writes about the time she spent in The Dreaming between "A Game of You" and "Brief Lives"

Notes: Um...I am aware that Destiny said that Thessaly had no feelings for Morpheus...but, I don't care! There are things outside his garden, after all. ;) Write me feedback, and I'll make more chapters of Thessaly's story. Don't, and this'll be all you get.


~~~


I'm making no excuses: this is a story, and a true story at that. My name is-well, actually, I don't remember my real name anymore. That's the excuse for writing this, you see. If I write it, and even if no one but me will ever see it, (not true, by the way) I'll never have an excuse for forgetting.

It's been a couple of years since the events described occurred. You can call me Thessaly, as it's closer to a real name than any I've had lately. I was born 3000 years ago in Greece, but live today in Las Vegas, Nevada. A funny place to live, if ever there was one, and even more so for me. I work in a casino-would you believe that? In a casino that's supposed to be theamed after ancient Greece, but as one from there, I can honestly say it's nothing like the real thing. But it's about as different from Chicago as one can get, and that's the point.

To understand how I met him, you have to understand who I am. I am a witch. A three thousand year old bookworm, with a passion for my gods, and a desire to learn constantly. Before, I had moved around quite a bit, and even now, I lived in Chicago after a bad incident in New York.

I had this neighbor, Barbie, you see, who had become enchanted by a bad dream. So, me and a nice couple, (an aside-one of the couple later became very famous. Who would've thought?) who lived next to the girl, did something about it. I killed the original sender of the dream, and then drew down the moon to rescue her. An act, which neither easy, nor fun, put my life in danger.

Once in the dream, we got things sorted fairly quickly. And that's when he showed up-the King of Dreams. The third oldest of the Endless. I knew enough about him from my childhood to not want to have anything to do with him-or them. Especially him. He's known for being aloof, and vengeful. They used to warn us, in the days, about crossing his bad side.

Not to mention, he has-no had, pretty powerful siblings. Death, in particular, was no anthropomorphic being I ever want to meet. I tried to beat a path out of there as soon as possible, without raising any ire of the Lord Shaper...

Damnit! It's only been four years and already the details are slipping out of my fingers.

In any case, I ended up threatening him, which I doubt he took a liking too. But when we woke up, we were all safe. Well, most of us anyhow. The transsexual friend of Barbie had died when the building collapsed around us, in the Hurricane. I consider myself lucky for only one casualty, but none the less feel guilty. I wonder if it was my spell that caused the hurricane to veer off path.

It's funny, how people change. Twenty years ago, I might not have cared who died in my attempts to do something. At the time, all I cared about was getting back at whomever threatened me. Now?


Needless to say, after being homeless, I decided that New York had been enough for me for a while. I pulled all my cash out of the bank, and went stalking off, to Chicago. They had a nice enough university there, where I attended some more classes, and spent much of my time in the library. I'd been there three months, when I dreamed for the first time since the incident.

~~~

I turned around slowly, on a gravely cliff overlooking the waves. Strikingly similar to the dreamworld of the Barbie. I looked for a time out at the ocean, each second passing, more sure that this was the skerry. And suddenly, I knew I wasn't alone.

I whirled around, and he was there. The King of Dreams. He's tall, lanky, and foreboding. His skin is as white as the paper I write on, or even whiter, lacking that natural pinkish tinge blood gives to mortal skin. His hair is constantly tousled, and it looks as if he'd never bothered to comb it. And his eyes...his eyes are as dark as ink, blacker than the farthest depths of the sea, like hollow sockets. Except, they're not. They are simply black, and occasionally, they'll sparkle with the light, or his own inner powers.

He was wearing his formal cape, decorated with flames on the edges, and didn't look either pleased or displeased to be here. I imagine it was just another dream to him.

"What are you doing here?" I sputtered in a low tone. I don't take kindly to unannounced visitors, even if I was in his realm.

"I...I am not entirely sure, but you dreamed of me, so I came. What do you want, witch-woman?" He said, in that low intoxicating voice of his. You've heard it, but I'll describe it further. It's a dark, deep, male voice, with an air of mystery about it. Like he knew everything there was to know, or at least, a lot more than you do, in particular. It sounds rich, and if you'd heard it, you would like to hear him say some more. Or you wouldn't, depending upon the tone of voice.

But that's not what I was thinking at this point. I was angry. "I didn't dream of you. I rarely dream."

He cocked an eyebrow, and stood up taller. "I know that. But I am here now." A wind blew around us. I took careful notice of it at the time-the weather in the Dreaming is subject to it's ruler's feelings, and can give accurate clues as to his mood. And I wasn't so stupid as to feel reckless about him. Rather, I felt like the mongoose in front of the snake must feel: tense, and waiting for the first strike.

"So you're here. I have no reason for you to be here, and you have no reason either," I pause. A dangerous ruse, but I supposed it from his tone. Watch it girl, a thought whispered in the back of my mind. ", so why don't you leave, and tend to your kingdom?"

It almost worked too. He turned around slowly, as if to leave, but then faced me again. "I have no pressing matters to attend to."

I cocked my eyebrow, in turn. This sounded unlikely, coming from the mouth of one of the Endless, but I hadn't another stratagem to get rid of him with. We stood in uncomfortable silence, the two of us. I imagine we both looked the same in that moment, with our arms crossed, staring. I was busy, thinking of ways to wake myself up, and he was probably enjoying our version of the staring game, in some odd way.

Then I woke up.


~~~


One might think that the end of the story, but, it wasn't. I went about my day as normal, but oddly weirded out. In my entire life, I've met only two of the Endless: Dream, and Despair. I liked neither of them, nor the reputation of the others. Before I went to sleep the next night, I considered spells, but figured it would be highly unlikely he would want anything to do with me again.

I was wrong. I was, apparently, a new and interesting game for him, because I was in the same skerry, and, just as before, he appeared.

"You again?" I muttered.

"I wish to continue this conversation." He said, and promptly crossed his arms again.

We were staring again. Time seemed unfortunately slow, for me, and I was loosing resolve. I am only mortal, after all, if long-lived. I quickly figured out that I could not win this game. He knew it too, and smirked a bit before I turned my head away to consider the ocean.

I remember being vaguely belligerent at the time; I hated losing. I faced him again, my eyes still watery from being open for so long.

"Well, you won, gonna leave now?"

"Did you really think you could beat me at it?"

"Yes." I said, with more confidence than I felt. Three-thousand years will give you a backbone.

He cocked his eyebrow in response. I sighed.

"Why are you so confident? You are in my realm, and I rule this place. What makes you think you could get the better of me?"

"Others have gotten the better of your kind before. It isn't impossible."

He looked away, as if experiencing some discomfort at a memory. "Yes." he said softly, for his cold voice, at least.

I think it was at this moment I no longer feared him. Not only had he admitted he could be beaten, but he had shown some emotion. I had teased it out of him, perhaps. The silence continued, and the wind beat a little harder, until he looked back at me. A new game had promptly been started between the two of us, and we both recognized it.

"Why do you wish to win this game? Because you thought you could?"

"Close enough."

"Ah." He seemed to make note of this. More silence.

"Don't you have things to do?" I desperately grasped. He should. My mind felt foggy.

"It can wait."

"Why wait for me? I'm just a dreamer."

"Because I don't wish to lose."

He smirked , and I grasped for something to respond to that. But before I could, I woke up.


~~~


Lucien the librarian noted the new volume with some trepidation. He knew the author, which was unusual. He hesitated slightly before picking up the book to read it. He wasn't at all positive if he really wanted to know the information he suspected the book contained. All the same...he creaked open the brand new book and started to flip the first page...


~~~