When Tubbo finally blinks his heavy eyes awake, he’s alone and it only takes one look before he knows exactly where he is. The ceiling above him is smooth and colorless, made of stone rather than Tommy’s dirt or his own wood. It’s the same bleak ceiling of the temporary room he’d stayed in the last time he was in the DreamSMP, and it’s familiarity is as welcoming as it is painful. Tubbo’s not home with Tommy and them, and something in his chest throbs with pain at the acknowledgement that he’s stuck on his own again in the heart of enemy territory. But, he reasons as he blinks up at the ceiling tiredly, at least he knows this room like the back of his hand.
He slowly shoves himself up off of the pillow under his head, nearly falling back onto it when one of his hands comes up to clutch at his head. There’s a painful pounding right behind his eyes, and it feels like he’s tried to take the stairs to his bunker headfirst and then fallen down the ladder part and landed on his head as well.
He’d go as far as to say that he’s concussed if he didn’t already know what that felt like from experience.
Once he’s sitting up, Tubbo sets his shaking hands in his lap and stares down at them in confusion; he’s more tired than anything, even though his head is foggy in the kind of way that tells him he got at least twelve hours. Something about the room around him is off- wrong, even- but he can’t put his finger on it until he looks back down, past his hands this time.
The sheets are pooled around his waist neatly, having been disturbed when he'd sat up.
Tubbo never used the blanket or the sheets when he’d stayed, preferring to lay miserably on top of them in case he had to run or something. Someone had tucked him in; the vulnerability of it makes him curl into himself a little bit more. Tubbo’s never been someone who enjoys being touched while asleep, with Tommy being the obvious exception. It’s better when it’s his best friend- when they’re both going to sleep and Tommy just happened to be awake for longer. According to his friend, Tubbo’s a bed hog, and Tommy has to move him every time he wants to get into his own bed if he'd stayed up later. When he says it he sounds irritated, but he never really stays mad or means it; being able to read Tommy is something that Tubbo’s taken comfort in- even in the moments that he can’t read him, Tubbo always loves to have him nearby.
But, unless something is very, very wrong, Tommy isn’t here now.
Part of him wonders why he’s even here again, if something had happened that ended with him being put back in this windowless room.
Or if the entire thing had been a dream and he’d never really gone home after all.
His fingers twitch against the sheets before he clenches his hands into fists in an effort to stop their shaking. His head is still pounding, and Tubbo makes use of his balled up hands and presses them to his face to rub at his eyes until he sees spots dancing in his vision. It hurts a little bit, but it does help him focus on his thoughts.
It couldn’t have been a dream, Tubbo thinks as he throws the blankets off of his legs and swings his legs over the side of the bed. He’s very sure that he would dream of something happy, of going home and having nothing change at all; everyone would be happy, and Tommy wouldn’t be so sad and quiet all the time and there wouldn’t be any war meetings because there wouldn't be a war-
The door swings open just as his feet brush the ground, revealing Sapnap behind it. The man pokes his head in as if the door isn’t already open, and does a double take when he sees Tubbo trying to get to his feet.
His head pounds something fierce, and he’s not sure he remembers how he got here, but he offers a watery smile anyway. Dream or not, he’s still stuck here until he manages to not be. For all he knows, he’s been traded away by L’Manburg in exchange for peace; Tubbo personally doesn’t see why the DreamSMP would want him that much, but he’s clueless. He’s got nothing but theories right now, and he’s always had an active imagination.
For all he knows, he could have been dragged back here, kicking and screaming the whole way.
“You’re up,” Sapnap says with forced enthusiasm and a lot of relief.
“I am,” Tubbo says back as he gets to his feet, “why’d you sound so surprised?”
The man shifts, and the plates of his armor grind together.
And then it all comes back, hitting him so hard that he drops back onto the bed behind him. The shock of it all fades fast, and his back is pressed to the wall behind him in seconds- the sheets are warm from his body heat, and they wrinkle in his clenching fingers as he watches the man in the doorway warily. Sapnap watches him with something like regret splashed across his face, but Tubbo doesn't relax in the slightest.
Being sorry isn't going to change the fact that he's here again, and not home.
At least it’s just Sapnap; Tubbo doesn’t think he could handle seeing George right now. It’s no wonder that his head hurts, now that he remembers what happened. Tangling a hand in his hair, Tubbo tries to unscramble everything that he’s just now remembering; he winces when his hand brushes where George slammed his head into a wall.
He’d been disc farming for Tommy, he’s pretty sure, and that’s when he’d gotten himself snatched. What a stupid thing to get caught over, he thinks as he roughly rubs at his eyes again. Sapnap clears his throat, drawing Tubbo’s attention back to him.
“Dream, uh- Dream wants to talk to you,” he says, like that’s all Tubbo needs to know of what’s going on- like he’s not clutching his head and trying to piece together what’s happening without turning into a bumbling mess.
“I’m not- I’m not talking to that green bitch,” Tubbo spits out in a very Tommy-like fashion, fingers ripping away from his head and scrabbling at the wall behind him anxiously like he’s a trapped animal. The power of saying it is ripped apart by his stutter and nervous tone, but just saying it at all makes him feel a little bit braver. Sapnap looks him over, expression unreadable, and Tubbo thinks for a terrifying moment that the man is going to make him go, kicking and screaming the entire way. It’s not something that he would have thought him capable of before, but things have changed.
Recently, he’s finding out that apparently, Tubbo doesn’t know Sapnap as well as he thinks he does.
The man sighs, shifting on his feet. Tubbo flinches at the sound of his armor grinding against itself.
“Either he comes to you or you come to him. Pick one.”
This room doesn’t have windows to break and climb through on the off chance that he can get away long enough to do that. He knows that he wouldn’t be able to manage it anyway, but sometimes having the option can make him feel better. But the room that Dream’s waiting in could also be worse- Tubbo knows every nook and cranny of this one, and he can’t say the same if he leaves. Going to Dream’s room would put him at a disadvantage, and he’s already stuck here alone. The only thing he’s got to lose in knowing the space.
“I’m staying here,” Tubbo decides eventually as he sits up a little taller. His chest is still tight, but like hell he’s going to be wheezing against a wall and cowering when Dream gets here. He’s been doing enough of that recently; he’s made a target of himself by doing it.
Sapnap gives him a nod and a wave before he leaves with the promise to come back soon.
Tubbo takes a few moments to sag against the wall breathlessly and let himself feel the panic that he’d been suppressing with Sapnap watching him so closely.
The moment the door swings back open, Tubbo is sitting up straight and pushing a blank expression onto his face. He’s purposefully positioned himself on the edge of the mattress, ready to run if he has to but not standing just yet.
Dream’s netherite boots clang against the floor, and Tubbo stares into the holes of his mask and tries not to seem anything but bored; he hides his shaking hands in the sheets under him, but both Dream and Sapnap zero in on them immediately and frown. It’s almost like they don’t understand what they’re doing to him; the thought makes Tubbo angry, but he buries it under his nerves and tries to look like he isn’t going to cry in about four minutes.
The big man himself is looking a little nervous; it’s obvious in the way that he stands a little taller than usual, puffing up like a bird does to seem bigger and more intimidating. Tubbo doesn’t stop looking directly at him, and keeps every bit of distance that he’s allowed to have without pressing his back into the wall again.
“I’m worried about you, Tubbo,” Dream sighs eventually, deflating some of his pride as he speaks. He doesn’t come any closer, but Tubbo still tenses up when he breaks the silence.
“You’ve been different.”
Tubbo freezes, not sure what the man is trying to say. It’s not like he doesn’t have a reason to avoid Dream and his friends, what with the stabbing thing and the threatening of his friends and family. Also, kidnapping can now be added to that growing list.
Tubbo goes with the first one.
“You- you stabbed me!”
God, he can practically hear the eye roll that Dream gives him; Tubbo shifts on the bed, keeping in mind that if he dies here he’ll just respawn in the same spot. The two men in this room can do anything to him and not have to face the consequences, and Tubbo’s not going to give them a reason to hurt him.
“You would’ve respawned if you’d died, you know that-” Dream sighs, like he can’t believe that he has to explain this to Tubbo, but he freezes when Tubbo takes in a shuddering breath and clenches his fists so hard that they’re shaking for an entirely different reason.
Tubbo is no stranger to anger- he’s friends with Tommy, who can set him off sometimes unintentionally- but this is an entirely new kind of it. Being brushed off, like Dream thinks Tubbo’s forgotten about something as basic as respawning, makes his blood boil now. He’s still scared, and that’s the only thing keeping him from doing something that he’d really regret. Yelling is an option, especially if Dream deserves it; Tubbo thinks that he does. He's treating Tubbo like he's stupid- like he's forgotten the basic rules of this world that they all live in.
He’s not stupid- Dream is just careless.
“Tommy destroyed my bed! I would have gone directly to the void, and you would have thought I was with them, and they would have thought I was with you, and I would have been stuck there!”
There’s something like alarm in Dream’s posture now as his hands fall to his sides in shock. His mouth is open, but Tubbo doesn’t think that the man can talk himself out of this one. Sapnap mirrors him perfectly, both of them clearly caught off guard by the shouting. Tubbo can’t help but feel some sort of satisfaction at the reaction; some part of him wants to believe that this war just got out of hand at some point. No one is really against anyone else, not really. It had been a joke taken too far, is all, and everyone will see that and stop fighting.
The anger stays with him as he stands and takes a small step closer, like it will get his yelling through Dream’s thick skull. The man himself doesn’t seem very impressed with it- still stuck staring at him in shock-, but this isn’t something Tubbo’s doing for him. This, he thinks as he stares the two down with gritted teeth and his heartbeat in his ears, has been coming for a very long time.
Since the first intentional death of the war.
“Tubbo, I wouldn’t have done it if I actually thought-”
His hands are up placatingly as he steps closer to Tubbo, who can feel his chest heaving for air- can hear it even, as he gasps through his anger and blinks through the tears in his eyes. Tubbo stumbles back from him like a skittish cat, hands coming up to his chest and clasping together. His anger is not gone in the face of Dream coming any closer, but there is some primal fear of getting close to someone like him. He must look as small and pathetic as he feels, because Sapnap gives Dream a look and stretches an arm out to stop him from walking any nearer.
Dream listens to his friend, and the mask looks blankly at Tubbo as he continues to cry and yell.
“But you did, what would you have done if I’d been voided-”
Dream titles his head in a dangerous way, and he seems angry enough that Tubbo stumbles back again when he shouts, throwing his hands over his ears. His knees hit the frame of the bed and he falls back onto it, hands still covering his ears.
“I would have come to get you!”
Tubbo tries to get back up and instead only manages to slide to the floor. He gasps for air in the same way he’s been doing for a while now, but no one tries to come any closer to him. He shouldn’t have to be grateful that no one is trying to touch him, he thinks hysterically as he shakes, but he is.
Dream, ignoring the look his friend sends him, walks closer and crouches in front of Tubbo. Slowly, a hand comes up and removes his mask, and Tubbo looks Dream in the eye for the first time ever. The man's face is soft and angry and stubbornly set, and he knows that Dream's going to try to make a point before the man even open's his mouth. His green eyes sear into Tubbo, searching his face for something.
“They broke your bed, right? What makes you think that they really care?”
The worst part of it is that he doesn’t look like he’s trying to be mean; his head is tilted, like a curious wolf’s, and the question is genuine. His expression screams that he would care- that he does care- and it's painful to see so he stops looking.
Tubbo blinks up at him from where he’s pressing himself against the frame on the bed, tears still clouding his vision as his hands shake over his ears. Slowly, they move up to pull at his hair.
“Well? What’s your proof?”
Tubbo thinks of sleeping in Tommy’s bed, of mining with Eret and of running around with Fundy. He thinks of Wilbur holding him in the bunker, and of Phil’s nice smiles and Technoblade’s soothing-if-very-ominous presence.
He thinks of Tommy screaming for the discs, of Tommy destroying the meadow- of Tommy humming during the night because L’Manburg was never meant to be quiet and neither was he.
Fundy’s avoidance of him, Eret’s looks and Wilbur’s words.
“I asked you a question, Tubbo.”
His hands thread through his hair again and tug harder as he pulls his knees in more. Dream doesn’t move for a while, remaining in a crouch before he rises up again and walks away. Sapnap’s been gone for a bit, but Tubbo isn’t sure when he left.
“Think on it.”
The door shuts behind him, and there’s not even the click of a lock. Tubbo doesn’t make a run for it; he’s not stupid enough to do that when he can see the shadows of someone’s feet just outside the door, waiting for him to even try.
The next time Dream and Sapnap come back, George is with them. They all watch as Tubbo glances at the man before looking away and absently bringing a hand up to his head; it still hurts, but it’s not as bad as it was the other day.
“So, what’s the verdict?” Dream asks casually, leaning against the wall.
“Go to hell,” Tubbo mutters against his knees as his hand drops back down. He’s curled up on the bed again, back to the wall and knees to his chest. Dream sighs, but it’s George who steps closer.
“They don’t appreciate you, Tubbo, and they don’t care. Don’t you think,” George pauses, like he’s considering something. Tubbo’s never really known the man before all of this, and he has a hard time seeing what everyone tells him George used to be like; he doesn’t seem funny or sweet or awkward. His words are aimed to hurt, and Tubbo will never be able to see him as anything other than whatever he is right now.
“Surely, they would have come for you by now if they did?”
Sapnap, who’s been uncharacteristically quiet, chimes in with a quiet anger in his voice.
“They broke your bed, Tubbo, they’re being careless with your life.”
Dream stares at him.
Tubbo chokes on a miserable sob and lowers his head. They had, hadn’t they? But it was all Dream’s fault in the end. The bed wouldn’t have been broken if not for him being a spy, and he wouldn’t have been a spy if Dream hadn’t made him do it, and Dream wouldn’t have made him do it if there wasn’t a war to win at all, and-
Tubbo is angry and sad and his chest hurts a little too much for him to focus on anything more than the wall against his back.
Dream, with endless blame to throw at everyone, starts talking in a tone that tells Tubbo that the man thinks he’s winning this conversation.
“L’Manburg has torn this world apart-”
“You,” Tubbo spits, filled with anger as Dream tries to pin his own bloody acts on his family. He raises his head to glare at the man like the look could kill. Everyone is silent as he stares their leader down, not even bothering to wipe his teary eyes as he joins in on the blame game.
“You have torn this world apart-”
Sapnap cuts in defensively, “he gave you your independence, and you guys are still threatening war. You’re ungrateful-”
Dream cuts him off with a wave of his hand, eyeing Tubbo as he cracks his heart in two with only a few sentences.
“It doesn’t matter. Call Wilbur over to get him, since he hasn’t even bothered to ask for him back. Tell him to meet at the embassy.”
Dream pauses, spreading his hands slowly like the good guy in a theatre play who’s offering the misfit a loving home.
“Unless, of course, you want to stay.”
Tubbo buries his head back into his knees and doesn’t respond.
They give up on talking to him after that, instead talking about him to each other while he blocks them out and tries not to sob too audibly.
The next day, Tubbo is walked from his lonely room to the embassy, where he’s supposedly going to be given back to Wilbur like a lost dog. Having L’Manburg come get him is obviously a power play on Dream’s part, but Tubbo says nothing about it; he hasn’t said much since the previous day, despite any goading that Dream and his friends did.
It feels like he’s saving his words for his friends, but Tubbo’s not sure that he’s got anything worth their time to say. Sorry isn’t going to cover this one, he’s sure of it. So much of their stress is his fault at this point; he’s gotten blackmailed into betraying them, stabbed and barely pulled through it, and now he’s been kidnapped by the same group of people who’d started the stress in the first place.
It’s always him, it seems, who’s causing the issues for the people that he cares about.
The doors to the building swing open under Dream’s hands, and the inside is empty of anything but the table and the chairs on both sides of it. They sit so that there’s none along the sides of the table, so that neither side has to sit directly next to the other; the change had been done after Tommy had tried to stab Sapnap in the leg with the tip of an arrow for interrupting his speech.
One chair has been moved to bridge the gap.
No one from L’Manburg is there yet, but Tubbo’s sure that they’re coming- surely they wouldn’t just leave him here with Dream and them. Even with that in mind, he’s getting more and more nervous for every second that he’s alone with Dream. Not even Sapnap and George are here; both had been sent out just before to do something. Tubbo doesn’t miss either of them, not really, but he doesn’t want to be alone right now with someone who’s been trying to manipulate him for two days. They’ve all tried it, yeah, but Tubbo is ashamed to admit that Dream’s gotten the closest to breaking him.
He can only be told that his friends don’t care so many times before he isn’t able to tell himself it’s not true, and Dream's shown that he cares in his own way. But Dream is trying to win something here, even if the care is genuine, and Tubbo just wants to go home.
“Wow, they’re late,” Dream comments idly as he continues looking around the room like he’s trying to get Tubbo to see what he’s seeing. The armor stays on despite the rule against it, and he drums his fingers on the back of the neutral chair like he’s getting impatient- like he considers bringing Tubbo here a waste of time because nothing is going to happen.
“Maybe they’re not coming at all.”
Mere seconds later, Wilbur and everyone else burst through the doors with hard expressions and a ragged appearance. George, who’s holding a bloody sword and sporting a broken nose, comes in behind them and shrugs at Dream.
This must have been the errand, Tubbo thinks as he examines the man. One of the lenses of his glasses is cracked enough that he wonders how it’s not completely shattered into the man’s eye. Idly, he then wonders how many hits it would take for that to happen- certainly not more than two.
Tubbo shakes his head and turns his attention back to his friends, who stare back at him with such obvious relief that he wonders how he ever doubted them. Fundy is holding his arm, and Tubbo can see the blood spreading across his fingers, but it doesn’t look like it’s much worse than a scratch in a bad spot. Still, something heavy sits in his chest at the sight; countless respawns, and Tubbo can’t handle a little bit of blood, apparently. God, he hates seeing them hurt, and it’s usually his fault that they are, too.
Dream’s hand pats his back for seemingly no reason and Tubbo jerks under the unexpected touch. Tommy sees it and Tubbo can see his calm facade slipping away fast; his friend’s always wanted to be older than he is, Tubbo thinks as he watches Tommy gear up. The war hasn’t helped that.
Neither has taking away the one thing Tommy let himself hold onto, Tubbo thinks guiltily as he thinks of the discs and the music that he’s been hearing on loop again.
(Tubbo always wakes up to music, and he prefers the silence to it by the time both discs have been played once. Dream himself looks sick of them when they play now, but he doesn’t stop doing it until Tubbo begs for him to stop.
"I thought you liked it," Dream admits with crossed arms, defensive even in the face of Tubbo's teary eyes.
"I used to," Tubbo admits softly.
The discs don't play after that, and the silence is deafening to his ears, but he prefers it.)
Tommy, like a pile of TNT in a red stone pit, explodes.
“You stupid green bastard! Give him back! I’ll fuckin’ kill you, I will! Stop taking him-” Tommy screams until he’s red in the face, but Dream just waits him out with a patience that he hasn’t had in the entirety of the war.
“This isn’t very professional for a peaceful meeting,” he comments dryly as he stares at Tommy before directing his attention back to Wilbur dismissively.
“You can’t call a fucking meeting and then ambush us,” Eret says through clenched teeth, grabbing the attention from his leader as he moves out of the doorway and jabs a finger at Dream’s chest plate, “that’s your own rule, abide by it.”
No one mentions the armor.
Seeing Eret, someone who’s usually so composed, looking wrecked is startling enough to make him stare for a little bit before he remembers himself and looks away- right into Phil’s eyes. The older man gives him a grim smile and checks him over with his eyes, frowning at whatever he sees. Tubbo hasn’t seen himself recently, and he doesn’t care to at this point.
Tubbo looks away from him and stares at the wall instead.
He flinches at his name as it falls from Wilbur’s mouth, but he does look over. His leader's expression softens at him before it hardens and he turns to Dream with an anger on his face that’s usually hidden.
“Why is he here?”
And for a few seconds, Tubbo almost convinces himself that they don’t want him. Dream is the one who called them here, and that should make something about seeing them bittersweet- but it’s not. Tubbo’s heart thrums in his chest as he looks around the room again and sees everyone who he’s been missing.
He couldn’t care less about them not coming for him, he decides, so long as they’re here now.
“A friendly conversation or two, to clear the air. Also, he needed to set a spawn; two birds with one stone,” Dream’s eyes roam over the L’Manburg crew before his gaze pauses on Tommy. The man gives his best friend a sharp grin that's filled with anger.
“Spawns are pretty important, as I’m sure you’re all aware.”
His friend looks mildly sick, like he’s lost his purpose and has no idea how to get it back when he can’t even begin to catch his breath.
Tubbo, who hasn’t taken a real breath since he’d woken up beside Tommy in the med bay, knows the feeling.
With the teen silenced, Dream gives a pleased smile and gestures for everyone to sit down.
No one from L’Manburg moves.
George directs Tubbo to the neutral chair that Dream had been tapping earlier- it puts him evenly between the two groups at either end of the table, but it leaves him alone too. Still, he follows instruction and allows himself to be pushed into the seat by a hand on his shoulder and a look that tells him to stay put. The second Tubbo sits down in it, he hears the scraping of another chair being pulled roughly across the floor. Tommy yanks a chair over and puts it next to Tubbo’s before he falls into it and immediately grabs for his hand.
Tubbo lets him and squeezes his hand tightly in return, turning away from the table to look into his best friend’s relieved eyes.
“Hey, Tubbo,” Tommy whispers to him, like they aren’t being watched by everyone in the room.
Tubbo smiles softly, “Hi Tommy-”
“Cute,” Dream comments loudly from his position at the head of the table. Tubbo feels his face drop and his hands get cold, but he doesn't let go. Neither does Tommy.
More chairs scrape against the floor, and the meeting officially begins.
“Why is it always this kid,” Technoblade mumbles lowly, all sarcasm gone from his voice as he stares the DreamSMP down from across the table. Sapnap had apparently died and respawned back at the DreamSMP base, but he’s here now. Technoblade sounds mad, like this is something that shouldn’t be happening at all and it’s a waste of time.
It reminds him of Dream, in a way, but it’s so different that the comparison seems weird as well.
Tubbo has to remind himself that the man is new to the war; he’s got nothing to compare it to- he can’t realize that this is just something that happens sometimes. Tubbo’s the weakest link- the easiest one to get to. Him getting take so often makes sense, even if no one wants him back and he doesn't know anything of use because he's been banned from the meetings.
Phil nods lightly in agreement to wherever’s just been said by Wilbur, something angry in his expression as he listens to Dream’s rebuttal. Even though it’s not directed at him, Tubbo hunches his shoulders and wonders what everyone is thinking of him right now. Wilbur, standing proud and keeping his attention solely on Dream, nods his head and gestures for everyone else to stand as well.
“You can have him, I’ve done what I needed to do,” Dream says as he gestures for George and Sapnap to follow him.
As he walks past, Dream locks eyes with Wilbur and cocks his head like a wolf.
“Keep an eye on him, or you'll be seeing me again.”
They run to L’Manburg so fast that Tubbo is nearly knocked flat to the ground when Tommy swings him around and wraps Tubbo up in his arms.
It feels like coming home.
When it finally comes to a head, the war waits for no one.
“What are you even fighting us for? We don’t want him,” Dream argues, crossing his arms and tilting his head defiantly. Tubbo shrinks back the slightest bit, feeling small, but everyone from L'Manburg stands proud and close around him. This war can't be about him, Tubbo thinks as his hands shake. He looks around, taking in all of the tense backs and gleaming weapons, and almost stumbles backwards into Phil.
"We didn't even hurt him. This entire war is stupid-"
There's no way that this is all his fault- is there?
Memories flash through his mind as he stands there with his knees locked so that he doesn't fall over.
The meetings he'd been banned from, Wilbur telling him to be a kid, Dream's comments-
“No, but you did terrorize him and challenge us over it. To the victors go the spoils,” Technoblade, who’s willing to fight for him without even knowing him, says with a fancy swing of his sword.
“Yeah, bitch! We’re already the victors!”
“Thanks, Tommy,” Technoblade sighs before he rushes Dream.
Shaking his head, Tubbo grabs his potions and rushes into the fray as well; there's no time to just stand there and assume that this war is over him, not when everyone needs him. He's been letting them down for too long, he can't do it again now.
With Technoblade on their side, the war doesn't last longer than a few hours before Dream decides that it isn't worth fighting. As he turns away with George and Sapnap in tow, he tosses Tubbo a look.
"Rest easy, Tubbo," he calls before turning back around and walking away.
The peace after the war- which Tubbo had been counting on- doesn’t last two hours. It took almost half of that time to convince everyone that the DreamSMP isn't going to get him so soon, and that he has to go get something alone.
Tubbo's been wrong a lot, recently.
Tubbo’s walking just outside of L’Manburg, almost back from getting the chest in the field where he'd been disc farming, when he’s grabbed by the back of his uniform and hauled backwards like a baby cat. He hits a chest covered in solid netherite armor and it only takes a few dots for him to connect just who’s behind him. The heavy hand on his shoulder that keeps him still as he’s marched through L’Manburg’s walls nearly makes his knees buckle.
Dream holds him there until Wilbur happens to walk past and see him. The man stops short, eyes flicking between Dream and Tubbo as his face gets tight. The man almost runs over, reaching for Tubbo and gritting his teeth when Dream tugs Tubbo back from his reach.
“You’re dragging him back into this? You’re fucked in the head, man,” Wilbur snarls as he stares at where Dream’s hand is placed loosely on Tubbo’s shoulder. He looks angry and tired, so unlike the calm man that Tubbo is used to seeing. Though, he hasn’t been seeing a lot of calm Wilbur lately in general.
He's only got himself to blame for it.
Dream shrugs, and Tubbo flinches at the way his hand shifts a little closer to his neck at the motion.
“Insurance is a good thing to have, but I’m not keeping him this time. I just needed for you to see this.”
And then he takes Cat and Mellohi out of his pocket and snaps the two discs in half.
Tubbo almost falls over as he hears them break- he doesn’t have ones to replace those yet. Tommy’s going to be heartbroken if he knows that there's not even a chance of getting the discs back, and Tubbo isn't sure how he's going to tell him that he stood bye and watched it happen.
The halves drop to the ground with a careless toss of Dream's hand, and Tubbo can't do anything but watch them fall, helplessly standing there and wishing that there was some way to save them.
Finally, the hand on his shoulder lets him go and Wilbur tugs him into his chest and holds him as Dream walks away from them and out of their walls. With his head down like this, Tubbo has an unobstructed view of the broken discs.
He shuts his eyes and shudders, but he does not cry.
Wilbur is the one who tells Tommy, but Tubbo is close enough to see the way that his friend sags at the news.
Later, Tubbo asks him to come to bed for a nap with the excuse of setting his spawn, and he wraps himself around Tommy. His friend doesn't hum, and Tubbo's guilt keeps him up until Tommy holds him closer and falls into his own sleep.
Tubbo’s not scared of something else happening, not really, but he does immediately give Tommy the discs that he’s been stashing away.
Maybe he should have made the moment better, softer somehow, rather than this.
L'Manburg, with it's two newest members, is too uneasy and nervous to go back to the normal that they'd all been pretending to have. The obvious solution to this, according to Phil, was to have a bonfire and to stay up with each other all night until everyone feels better. He acts like a dad, but Tubbo can't say that he doesn't appreciate it.
Tubbo, who's hair is mussed up from his nap and who's uniform has been swapped out for casual clothing, must look crazy to them as he hauls the chest out of his house and slides it across the lawn until it's next to his friend. His hands are sweaty as he wrings them together nervously before dropping to his knees in the soft grass. The light from the fire dances across everyone and everything, casting them in a warm light that makes their smiles seem that much bigger.
Phil was right, Tubbo thinks as he considers what he's about to do, this is nice.
Tubbo's fingers slip against the lid of the chest, shoving before he realizes that he has to undo the latch to it first. The chatter has slowly tapered off as they all watch him wrestle with opening the chest, and the eyes on him make him even more nervous about what he's about to do. Tommy sighs, placing a hand to his head like he's ashamed of Tubbo being beaten by a lock.
"Tubbo, what the shit are you doing-"
Finally, the chest pops open, and Tubbo shoves his hands into it. Tommy, along with everyone else at the bonfire, gapes like a fish when Tubbo begins unloading disc after disc from the box. Only the crackling of the fire inturrupts the silence, and even imagining the looks he's getting makes his hands shake, so he keeps his head down, staring into the chest like it's the most important thing in his life. Everyone is still silent as he places the last disc on the pile and stands. Tubbo backs up slightly, but forces himself to stay put. Breaking the silence, Tubbo tries to explain himself but only succeeds in stuttering.
“They aren’t what I lost- I- I’m really sorry, but I couldn’t- I killed so many-”
Tommy gets up and stumbles closer, not even looking at the stack of discs on the table in front of him. Tubbo, too nervous to make eye contact, stares at them. They shine in the fire light, some of them still a little bit dusty because he hadn't thought to clean the monster dusts off of them; Tubbo hopes that Tommy doesn't mind the mess, and promises himself that he'll help clean them. Hands reach for the discs, and his eyes follow them as he sees Wilbur, Fundy, and Eret flip through the discs slowly, like they can’t believe it. Phil smiles proudly as he watches on, and Technoblade sits there looking mildly uncomfortable and confused, but he gives a thumbs up to Tubbo.
And then he’s wrapped up in his best friend’s arms and being suffocated by the pressure of a hug.
“Thank you, Tubbo,” Tommy whispers.
L’Manburg isn’t silent after that.
They’re under the docks again, whispering and smiling and sharing secrets like they used to before all of this, when Tommy goes quiet and looks at him with nervous eyes. Knowing that his friend can’t keep any secret for long, Tubbo just smiles and waits for what Tommy wants to say. Their shoulders are pressed together, and Tubbo lightly bumps Tommy to prompt him into spitting it out.
“You’re okay, yeah?”
Surprised at the change in mood, it takes him a few seconds to respond. His eyes go from the view in front of him to his hands as he thinks the question over.
“I- I think so. Or, I will be eventually,” he decides on, glancing from his lap to Tommy and back again
“Good, sad bitch Tubbo isn’t as fun,” hands come up to hold his face, squishing his cheeks together like one would with a cute baby. He doesn’t fight it, but he does scowl at his friend, who just laughs at him fondly.
“You’re a mess of things, Tubbo, but I don’t think I mind it.”
“Oh? How’s that?” Tubbo asks, face still held in Tommy’s hands. His best friend's fingers tap against his cheeks like he’s trying to play miniature note-blocks.
“Because you’re my boat man, my comrade, and my best friend,” Tommy replies without pause.
All it takes is a glance for Tubbo to know that his friend will say that for as long as he needs to hear it.
“Don’t fucking peak, Tubbo! I can see you-”
“Well I can’t see anything! What if I fall over-”
“You won’t. I’ll catch you.”
As if on cue, Tubbo stumbles and Tommy does not, in fact, catch him.
“Shit- next time, I’ll catch you next time,” his friend promises as he helps him up from the grass. Tubbo leans into him.
“You’re a bitch, Tommy.”
His friend slows them both to a stop and Tubbo feels his fingers at the back of his head, untying the blindfold.
“Would a bitch do this-”
Tubbo blinks against the bright light as the cloth falls from his eyes, and then his mouth drops open. The sky is so very blue, and it reflects across the small pong perfectly, like a mirror. Tubbo pays it only a few seconds of his attention before he turns around, Tommy turning with him while holding his hand tightly.
A bee slowly floats past him to settle on a flower that Tommy holds out to him in invitation, and Tubbo almost cries as he delicately accepts the flower. The bee sways happily, covering itself in dust before flying off again, but two more come to take its place.
It’s not the meadow- they don’t plan on going back to that place, ever- but it’s a meadow. The flowers are young and freshly planted, as are some of the trees, and bees nests hang from the branches of the larger ones. There's also a swing hanging from an especially sturdy branch, and Tommy tugs him over to it.
The wind whistles past his ears as he sits there, side by side with Tommy, and stares out at the meadow in front of him.
“Tommy,” he breathes out softly as he watches the bees fly around them, “Tommy- Oh my God, Tommy!”
"The war was about me, wasn't it," Tubbo says, not even bothering to make it a question. A bee flies past him and settles in the peonies that he knows are around the swing, but he stays focused on his friend as he waits for some kind of confirmation of what he already knows. Sure, he was the last to know- the last to figure it out- but Tubbo's still having a hard time trying to figure out why the war even took place at all.
"Yeah," Tommy says softly in response, sighing and looking out at the small pond to his left. His hand reaches for Tubbo's, and Tubbo reaches back, despite the way that his head is trying to piece everything together. He just can't seem to wrap his head around it, even though it's been days since the war ended. Considering the war before it, the most recent one was ridiculously short- more of an out of control argument than anything else. But, he considers as the tips of his shoes brush the tall grass under him, it had the most planning. There's not much that L'Manburg can really even do to the DreamSMP, though, no matter how much planning they did.
This whole time, they'd been planning to what? Stab Dream for stabbing him and then be done with it? Tubbo has to wonder if they'd planned the entire thing out; if they had, they would have dropped the war, probably.
Tommy cuts him off, clearly already having known what Tubbo was going to say. His friend, straightens up but remains soft, looking away from the water to stare at Tubbo instead.
"You almost died, Tubbo, and- and it would have been my fault for wrecking your bed-"
Tubbo hums like he's considering something, a softer way of cutting his friend off.
"I didn't blame you, I still don't."
Tommy's smile is genuine, if a little tearful. His friend looks down at his feet, which have been pushing them on the swing for a while now.
"Yeah, well you should."
Silence stretches around them as Tubbo squeezes his best friend's hand. The breeze that blows through the meadow rustles his hair, pushing it into his eyes as he sits on the swing. The spare jukebox sits beside them on the ground, softly playing one of the discs that Tubbo had given Tommy; this one is his favorite, and his friend doesn't like it as much, but he's willing to sit and listen to it with him, and that's enough.
"Maybe, but I quite like not holding it against you."
The war is over, and Tubbo is home.