Chapter 1: Trading Youth Away
“There’s a lot you don’t understand, Tubbo,” Dream sighs, meeting his eyes cooly. Tubbo, back against a tree, shudders at his tone, at the look on his face.
The sword at his neck skims across his skin as Dream shifts his grip on it, and he flinches back into the rough bark behind him. Dream smiles at his reaction, seeming pleased- like the cat that’s been toying with a mouse that always tries to run no matter how many times it’s caught. And, despite this being his first encounter alone with the man, he thinks that the comparison is fairly accurate; Tubbo has never felt smaller than he does now. There’s supposed to be a buddy system to prevent things like this- he shouldn’t be alone here, stuck in this situation.
He stays silent, and Dream sighs like he's being difficult.
“Let's change the topic, then,” he hums. Tubbo wonders, distantly, how his arm isn’t tired from holding the sword up for so long. Then again, Dream’s a lot stronger than him- a lot better than him- with a lot of things. This, he thinks as he takes a breath that’s just a bit too deep and feels the blade against his neck break the skin, is a man who has unlimited everything. He’s overpowered, with the resources and friends in high places to prove it. This man could get away with murder and no one would be able to fight him on it.
“Join the DreamSMP. You’re going to bring down the rebellion from the inside.”
Shock runs through his mind, and his mouth drops open with it.
“No. No, I can’t do that.”
Dream’s friendly smile drops.
“You can, and you will.”
“Or everyone dies.”
“How do you know I won’t just go back and tell everyone?” Tubbo challenges boldly, despite the amount of fear he’s feeling. His knees threaten to buckle under him with their shaking, but he tries his best to hold his ground.
Tommy was supposed to be right back, where is he?
“I don’t,” Dream concedes like he’s a gratuitous man, “but if you do, I’ll kill them and then you.”
And while the thought is horrifying, death in this world is never permanent. The threat of it is about as threatening as torture, which is still awful and scary and to be avoided at all costs, but survivable- and that's only if Dream decides to make it painful.
“If you run,” Dream gives him a lopsided smile, “I’ll kill them anyway. I’ll even break their spawns and leave them in the void.”
Tubbo releases a shuddering gasp, his hands wringing nervously at the thought; he’s been to the void once and only once, before the war when Tommy had accidentally broken his bed and he hadn't known until he'd died and woken up in a sky that had more stars than it did room for the inky blackness. The man in front of him, who’s currently holding a sword to his neck and giving him an ultimatum, had brought him back and had held him close while Tubbo had shaken apart in his arms from the fear of it all.
The irony of his situation doesn’t escape him.
“No, please no-”
Dream smiles like he’s won something.
“Tommy can go first, if you’d like.”
“No, I’ll do anything for Tommy-”
“Then you’ll do as you’re told, great.”
As he pulls his sword away from Tubbo’s neck, he leaves a shallow cut. The pain of it makes Tubbo whine quietly, but the man in front of him doesn’t see to care all that much. Just before he leaves, Dream turns back to Tubbo and smiles mockingly.
“Anything for Tommy, right?”
Tubbo, heart racing in fear and pounding with regret, can only nod.
“Good. I’m not fighting this war, Tubbo, I’m tolerating it.”
Dream walks away, taking Tubbo’s peace of mind with him.
When he gets back, finally, to L’Manburg, no one is waiting for him. They likely hadn’t even noticed that he was gone. The thoughts stings almost as much as the cut on his neck and the realization of what he’s done- of what he’s agreed to do.
Where was Tommy when he needed him?
Fundy comes around the corner of the van and smiles at him, clueless to what’s just happened.
“Tommy’s with Wilbur,” the man offers without Tubbo even having to ask before he resumes walking. So, that was it then. The one time the buddy system is broken, Tubbo becomes a traitor in a matter of minutes. Just for a few seconds, he imagines chasing after Fundy, finding everyone and just letting it all spill out. When Eret had been asked to spy, he’d come back laughing about being a king- and everyone had laughed along with him and he'd worn a golden helmet for about a week. It had been funny- because Eret had turned Dream down. There’s nothing even remotely funny about someone threatening to void your friends, Tubbo decides as he looks away from Fundy’s back and begins walking back to his house.
“Hey, Tubbo," Eret, the not-traitor himself greets distractedly with a small wave. He’s got a bag slung over his shoulder and a pickaxe in his hand, obviously off to the mines. He’s probably going to come back and build something grand, Tubbo thinks as he stares at his friend. At his silence, Eret looks at him strangely.
“Tubbo?” he asks with a small smile, looking a little more uneasy. Not wanting to disappoint, Tubbo gives a watery smile back before he stutters out an excuse about his bees and runs away. He actually considers going out of the walls before his hands begin to shake too much at the thought and he decides to just stay in.
Like hell is he going back out alone again, not after what happened. Instead, Tubbo goes into his house and he thinks of ways to get out of this situation that he’s gotten himself into.
He sits there for what feels like mere seconds, but when he looks out the window the sun is nearly gone. Tubbo sighs deeply and rests his head on his desk . His shaking hands come up to clutch at his head, fingers digging in before a hand lands gently on his shoulder. He starts badly, whirling around to find Wilbur watching him with concern in his narrowed eyes.
“Oh, Tubbo,” Wilbur murmurs, leaning down to examine his neck. Like the evidence of any injury will incriminate him, Tubbo immediately claps a hand over the wound and looks away.
His leader doesn’t say anything for a while, and neither does Tubbo. Eventually, the silence is broken when Tommy barges into the room, once again making Tubbo startle.
“So this is where you bitches have been!” Tommy shouts.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Tommy,” the man next to him groans and rubs a weary hand down his face, “we’re busy.”
“Fair enough, but Fundy and Eret want you, Wil,” Tommy says, jerking his thumb behind him. Ordinarily, Tubbo knows that Wilbur wouldn’t leave just because someone wanted him elsewhere. Theman had a list that went by 'first come, first serve' and he stuck by it a majority of the time. However, he also knows that there’s been more planning going on recently, and that it has to take priority over whatever his leader thinks is wrong with him.
Tubbo doesn’t need his help anyway- he can get out of this without dragging anyone else into it.
“Right then,” Wilbur sighs, straightening up. He sends Tubbo a meaningful look as he walks out the door, but he does leave.
“I totally just saved your ass,” Tommy says the second the door closes.
“Right, thank you,” Tubbo says softly. And the thing is, Tommy had just saved him; one look from Wilbur had had him cracking like sugar glass under pressure- he’d almost gotten his friends killed.
He watches Tommy as his friend loudly begins telling him something. Everything sounds underwater to Tubbo, but he smiles and nods along anyway as he thinks of what he’s going to do aside from play along for the time being.
Playing along is a lot harder to do when you have to be on everyone’s side, Tubbo is finding out. For the first time, he’s happy that he’s not typically invited to the war meetings.
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know anything, he laments as he squeezes deeper into his hiding spot. Tubbo’s a crap liar, and if Dream asks him for information he won’t be able to just make something up and have it be convincing. But he can’t tell what he doesn’t know, so he’s currently in hiding until the others give up and just hold the meeting without him. His hiding spot could be better, as he's very wet, and it's a bit dark under the docks.
Huddling down to be even smaller, he holds his breath as Eret walks past above him, calling his name with a note of irritation. It’s not that he wants to hide, really- he actually has valuable information about a secret attack from the big man himself. But if he goes to the meeting and even breathes a suspicion of one, Dream will know exactly who it came from; his men are much more loyal than Tubbo is, he likes to remind him at every possible opportunity. Which is technically true, but you don't catch anyone from L'Manburg going out and threatening to void people, either. So it balances out a bit, in his opinion. It doesn't even matter if he's a traitor anyway, because he's going to be useless as long as he's clueless. As long as no one thinks to look here, he's going to be just fine, even though DReam is going to be pissed with him.
In the end, it’s his best friend who finds him.
“Tubbo, what the hell are you doing?” Tommy sighs, even as he hops down next to him. The motion almost tips the boat over, but they both manage to steady it before they can fall into the water. Maybe it’s because he’s his best friend, or maybe it’s because Tommy is so stubbornly loyal to everyone, even to people who don’t deserve it, but Tubbo smiles at him anyways as they sit in the boat under the dock together.
“Why’d you come?” he asks, trying his best to keep up a convincing smile.
“Well, I was thinking- it’s just the two of us, in the end. So I might as well find my clingy friend and hang out, rather than learn the newest plan that Wilbur already told me about. It’s quite poggers, actually- I even came up with it!” Tommy boasts with a broad smile on his face and pride in his posture.
“Just the two of us? There’s three other people, Tommy,” Tubbo hedges as he swallows his guilt down. Honestly, Tommy explaining the plan to him in vivid detail is the last thing that he needs right now, even if his friend is proud of it.
“Right, but here’s the thing with that: they don’t have our thing going on. See, you’ve got a rowboat,” he points at Tubbo, “and I’ve got everything else. A perfect duo.”
And despite it all, Tubbo laughs.
“Pog, right?” his friend cheers, rocking the boat again with his antics.
They stay there until well after the calls for Tubbo and then both of them fade away, enjoying this sudden game of hide and seek while shushing the other in between giggles. It’s nice, Tubbo thinks as he has to grip the support beams of the dock to stop them both from tipping again. The wood is slick and gross, and he’s sure his hands are covered in splinters, but Tubbo wishes that he could stay here forever with his best friend.
Even in this moment, however happy he is, the guilt of not saying anything about the invasion eats him alive even as he clings to the boat with his best friend.
They stay until it begins to get too dark for them to be out, which is well past the time that the meeting would have ended. Some part of Tubbo knows that Tommy’s just trying to help, but the time has flown by, and even if he tells everyone in L’Manburg about the plan, they won’t be prepared enough to survive it. His feet slow as he walks, eventually just coming to a stop outside of the walls. When he slides to the ground with his back against them, Tommy does the same silently; the look on his face is displeased, like he’d hoped that whatever was off with Tubbo had been fixed in the boat. His chest aches as he leans just a little bit closer, their shoulders bumping as he motions for his friend to do the same, which he does. Without question.
“Tommy, you need to go,” Tubbo whispers quietly as they both sit outside the walls. It’s nearly sundown, when Dream had all but promised he would be coming. Tommy, rather than taking him seriously, scoffs.
“Right then, lets go. You’re the one who sat down,” Tommy replies, picking himself off of the ground. Tubbo, knowing he can’t get out of this, remains on the ground and stares at Tommy’s knees, unable to look him in the eye. The knees shift a little bit before they begin to shuffle into a walk.
“Tubbo, don’t be an idiot, get up,” his friend says as he walks away. The silence between them is stifling as he watches Tommy walk away. His friend, who’d been listening for him to get up and hadn't heard it, gets maybe ten feet before he stops again.
“Run,” Tubbo says softly before he turns his attention to picking at blades of grass.
“What the hell- what do you mean run, Tubbo?” Tommy laughs, like Tubbo is being crazy again. Like it’s just a normal Tubbo thing to say- and Tubbo knows that he’s never really been taken seriously by this group, not even by Tommy. But something in him had always just assumed that they would know when they needed to listen. When he looks up, Tommy is shifting in his place, looking nervous and maybe a little bit scared as he looks around.
“Why’d we have to run?” he asks, “the door’s just right there.”
Tubbo closes his eyes and shrinks as the sun goes down, taking note of when Tommy rejoins him at the wall, though he remains standing this time. What could be hours pass, and nothing happens.
Tubbo feels like crying with relief, with stress, with fear even, as he finally gets up on numb legs and walks inside of the walls with an unusually quiet Tommy at his side.
His eyes burn, even as he closes them tightly.
“Tubbo, what’s… what’s in your bag?”
Tubbo’s shoulders hunch just a little bit more as he hears more footsteps. The others are coming now, and he can hear it as they stop short at the sight of him so close to the exit at this time of night.
It’s been a week since that day in the boat with his best friends, and he wants more than anything to go back to those few hours. A week of Dream dropping hints that, any second now- he’s going to attack, just to see Tubbo shake and nod his head at every set of new orders to not say a word.
(“It was just a test,” Dream laughs, motioning to George and Sapnap beside him, “I had them watch you to make sure you didn’t do anything.” He pauses, and Tubbo hates not being able to see his whole expression. Despite the mask, he can see the charming grin that spreads across the man’s face as he looks down at him.
“The boat thing was cute, apparently.”
Tubbo’s eyes dart quickly to Sapnap, who’s already watching him, and he feels just a little bit emptier at the shrug he gets in return. He feels like crying- what he thought could be the last peaceful moment with his best friend was monitored, and now it’s being mocked right in front of him.
“I was thinking, we’ve got the supplies to attack tomorrow-”)
Tommy, his best- and often his only- friend, sounds like he’s one truth away from breaking down. And there’s nothing that he can do- Tubbo’s sneaking out of L’Manburg at night with an obviously disc shaped bulge in his bag. To make it worse, every movement creates the sound of the two discs rubbing together. Tommy knows what he’s doing, as much as Tubbo tries to hide it.
Tubbo shuts his mouth on the words in his throat; what is he supposed to say to Tommy? There’s nothing that he can do to change this, nothing that he can say or do to make everything alright again. The best remedy is the truth, he thinks as he unclasps his bag and flips it open. His shaking hands reach in and slide the fist and then the second disc out.
He hears the clanking of the DreamSMP standing in the exit of L'Manburg, fully in sight of the others.
“Tubbo- Tubbo, how could you?” Wilbur breathes in horror.
“Tubbo,” Eret says grimly, like it’s a warning.
Fundy just stares at him blankly, like he’s having trouble even understanding what’s going on- like he doesn’t want to believe it, even with the evidence right in front of him.
Tommy, who's been silent ashe takes everything in, breaks and begins screaming at him loudly, so fast and emotional that Tubbo can’t decipher it. It sounds like he’s in pain, like he’s a wild animal stuck in a trap, and Tubbo has to bite back tears and apologies as he watches dumbly. Wilbur has one hand wrapped in the back of Tommy's shirt, clearly ready to hold him back if needed, even though he looks pissed.
Dream, just outside of the walls, calls to him.
“Tubbo, you need to go.”
He slides the discs back into his bag and backs away from the group in front of him, unable to meet their eyes. Nearly tripping over his own two feet, Tubbo turns around and begins speed-walking to the exit.
Wishing he were deaf to the cries of his family, he runs out of the walls and into the ring of people who are waiting for him on the other side. Dream passes him off to Sapnap, who merely looks at him with slight pride before throwing an arm over his shoulders and forcefully steering him away.
“You did the right thing.”
Tubbo isn’t sure if he’s talking about him saving his friends from being voided or if he’s referring to what he’s just done, but he still shrinks away from the other man. Tommy’s screaming echoes into the night, side by side with Dream’s taunts as he’s led away. Sapnap takes the discs from his bag and waves them around in the air carelessly.
When they get back to the base where they’ve been staying while Dream remodels the actual one, Tubbo goes straight into his room and shuts the door on Sapnap, who looks confused but lets him go. He nearly doesn’t make it to his bed before he falls down and shakes apart. No matter what happens, Tubbo knows that he’ll never be able to un-hear his friend screaming, be able to un-see the pain and judgement on everyone’s faces as he’d revealed what he was doing.
He can’t go back, now, not after what he’s just done- he won’t be welcome and he knows it.
Dream comes back with victorious cheers following him, and he plays the disks on an alternating loop just a few doors down.
Tubbo curls up just a little bit tighter and bites back the sobs that he’s almost positive everyone can hear anyway.
After that, Tubbo is more of a sheep than anything else. He doesn’t feel like building or fishing or boating or singing- he doesn’t feel like anything, really. Dream watches him closely every time they're in the same room, and Tubbo pretends that he doesn’t see Sapnap or George trailing him every time he leaves the base. What they think he’s going to do, he has no idea- it’s not like he can go spill all of their secrets now that L’Manburg hates him.
And he knows that they do.
Every time that he sees Wilbur, the man gets stone faced and quiet before he completely ignores Tubbo altogether, like he’s made of glass. Eret just looks at him and sighs before he walks away, and Fundy either hasn’t left the walls or is avoiding him now.
The first few days after he’d left, Tommy had sought him out just to scream at him some more, to curse his name and get even louder when someone from the DreamSMP would inevitably show up and cart Tubbo away with a taunt and a smile. After that, Tubbo would look up from whatever’s caught his attention and find his former best friend staring at him. It only really begins to kill him when Tommy stops looking at him altogether.
The meadow is neutral ground, Tubbo recalls as he walks towards it while holding back the obvious sniffles that are trying to break out. It’s neutrality is why he keeps his bees there- they technically aren’t his, but they are at the same time. He cares for them, and he’d like to think that the affection goes both ways. Dream had given him a dandelion and a pat on the back when he’d left, and had waved off any escort. Alone for the first time in nearly a week, he’d left just as quietly as he usually does, gently cradling the flower until he’d known Dream couldn’t see him anymore. Out of sight and miserable, Tubbo had thrown the flower over the edge of the staircase and kept going without even waiting to watch it fall to the ground.
When he gets to the meadow, it’s still pretty early in the day; the bees don’t come out this early, preferring the brighter times of day, when it’s warmer and the flowers are more open. So he sits down in the middle of the field, not wanting to feel a tree against his back, and he watches the sun rise slowly as he waits to hear them as they exit their hives.
And he waits.
Somehow, he doesn’t see the stab marks in the hive until he looks over at it imploringly in the broad daylight. The hives are massacred, torn apart into sticky piles or left handing but obviously skewered through and through. It takes a few seconds for him to process it all, but it doesn’t take more than a second to know that nothing would have survived something like that. Something in him, something important that’s already so damaged that it hurts all the time, he thinks, breaks just a bit more at the sight.
The bees are gone.
They’re all he’d really had left, and they’re gone- every last one.
When he finally manages to force himself to his feet, his knees shake. His hands fly up to his mouth in horror as he just stares at the carnage, unable to look away. When he finally manages to turn around, Tommy is there- stony faced until he sees Tubbo’s expression. The slight look of discomfort and mild regret is all that Tubbo needs to know who did it. He chokes back tears, hands coming down to clench around the strap of his bag, as he stares around before his eyes go back to Tommy.
“Tommy… Tommy, what have you done?”
His friend doesn’t answer, but his arms do fall from their crossed position.
He sighs loudly, looking angry, “Tubbo-”
“Why?” Tubbo asks, his voice cracking slightly. He can feel his eyes welling up and his lip is trembling. He knows Tommy can see it as well, so he brings up his hands to cover his mouth again.
“Tubbo, listen,” Tubbo is shaking like a leaf as he stares at the deep slashes in the hives, wondering how he hadn’t known.
Tubbo jerks, looks at Tommy for a few seconds, and then finally looks away for good. When he begins to leave, Tommy takes two clear steps in his direction and then stops and lets him go.
Tubbo’s back is to a tree again, and he’s in the meadow because he’d been looking for the bees- hoping against all odds that they’d survived. Dream had followed him here, citing curiosity as the reason, and Tubbo wishes that he hadn’t come here- that he’d maybe gone to the river instead. His back is to a tree, and he's alone with Dream again, which he'd told himself he wouldn't do after the first time.
“You served your purpose, and honestly, you cry a lot more than I thought you would,” Dream explains as he takes out his sword again. It’s just like last time, aside from the scenery, but somehow this time it’s even worse. This time, Tubbo is in the meadow, and while it’s not like this place can be ruined for him any more than it already has been, it still hurts that it’s happening here.
“I lost everything- betrayed everyone- all for you,” Tubbo mutters as he stares past Dream’s shoulder, focusing on a peony bush. The bees love peonies, he remembers.
“You did it for everyone but me, actually,” he corrects as he stares down at Tubbo, “anything for Tommy, right?”
“I did exactly what you said-”
“Which I appreciated,” Dream says before he stabs his sword through Tubbo’s side. The action is expected, the pain is not. It hurts, and Tubbo can’t stop the short scream that jumps from his throat. His hands come up to where the blade is stuck into him, fingers clenching around it as he grits his teeth. When Dream pulls it out, his hands are sliced open as well.
“But, you don’t have to anymore,” he pauses before smiling in mock thought, “you don’t think they’ve destroyed your bed yet, do you?”
And then Dream walks away, swinging his sword without a care in the world. He pauses as he walks past one of the destroyed beehives and barks out a startled laugh before he pokes at it with the tip of his sword.
“Oh, yeah, this is going to be fun.”
And then he’s gone, and Tubbo is left on shaky legs, staring down at his side.
The wound isn’t deep enough to kill him right away, but he’ll bleed out eventually if he doesn’t do something.
Even knowing this, Tubbo doesn’t attempt to stop the bleeding. Instead, he slides down the trunk, in the middle of a patch of daisies, and begins to weave a chain. His bloody fingers make it difficult to see what he’s doing, but he couldn’t care less about what he’s creating anyway. This is just a way to pass the time, Tubbo reminds himself as he bites his lip and reaches for another flower. The motion tugs at his side, and he’s laying sprawled in the grass before he even registers the fire in his side. His shirt is soaked through, nearly; he can feel it sticking to him as he shifts and shoves himself back up into a sitting position. His shaking hands grab the chain again before he picks another flower and starts again.
He’s blinking a lot more than he should be, in his own opinion, and it’s making it difficult to see the small stems of his craft. And that’s how he sees Tommy again. Or rather, he hears him first. The stomping and cursing is a dead giveaway, and it’s what makes him open his eyes when he doesn’t even remember closing them.
“Tommy,” Tubbo smiles at him in the distance. The other teen is marching angrily towards the meadow, but he visibly falters in his step when he sees that Tubbo is already there.
The teen sees the blood and pales significantly, breaking into a sprint until he quickly lowers himself to Tubbo’s side.
“Heya, Tommy,” Tubbo greets, glad to have his friend talking to him again. Tommy doesn’t look happy though, as he presses a desperate hand to Tubbo’s bloody side and uses the other to push his hair out of his face; it’s something Tommy only does when he’s stressed, which makes Tubbo frown just a little bit- he’d wanted this to be a happy moment. Not this moment specifically though, just when Tommy had forgiven him enough to speak to him again.
The other teen shoves the hand down to Tubbo’s side to join the other, and he knows that this is not the happy moment that he’d hoped for at all.
“Tubbo! Listen, right, listen! You’re going to be okay, because Wilbur's on his way, yeah? Wilbur, and everyone else- they were right behind me, I promise. They’re on their way-”
Filled with the need to explain it all, Tubbo looks his former friend in the eye and whispers everything that he’s wanted to say since the first time Dream cornered him.
“He threatened to void you- all of you. I- I just- I didn’t know what to do,” he sniffles, dropping the daisy chain into his lap. It’s a sad thing, covered in bloody smears and only around four or five flowers long. Tommy’s hand, the one that he’d run through his hair in his stress but then pressed to Tubbo’s side, comes up to hold his face. It feels warm and wet, but he leans into it anyway.
“God- I’m so sorry, Tubbo,” he sniffles, and it makes Tubbo feel like the worst person in the world, “you could have told me- we could have figured it out-”
“Tommy?” And then Wilbur is there, looking pissed and worried and even fearful when his eyes catch all of the blood. Tubbo’s fingers twitch, and their tips brush the tacky petals of the failed daisy chain creation in his lap.
Fundy and Eret, who’d apparently been last in the group, are standing stock still over Wilbur’s shoulders, looking horrified and surprised. Selfishly, Tubbo’s grateful that they don’t look mad at him as they walk closer.
“Wilbur- Wilbur, what do we do?” Fundy chokes out, creeping closer and gently pulling Tommy’s hand away from Tubbo’s side. His ears are flat to his head, and he quickly presses his own hands to the wound. No one looks surprised that Tubbo doesn’t feel it.
“This shouldn’t have happened,” Eret is closer now, but Tubbo is more focused on Tommy’s grip on him. It feels like forgiveness, almost, and it’s nice. All of them being here is nice as well, he notes blearily.
“We can’t fix this,” Wilbur says softly as he stands up from where he’s crouched over Tubbo with the rest of them.
“We have to-”
Fundy cuts Tommy off.
“We can’t, Tommy.”
“We can’t just leave him,” his friend argues, fingers clenching tighter, “he’s done everything for us, we can’t leave him here.”
Tubbo smiles up at him, not knowing what else he can do, really. He’s not going to live through this, even if they do get him back to L’Manburg; there’s no cure for a loss of blood, and they’ve likely destroyed his spawn back in the DreamSMP. There’s no way his house is still standing in L’Manburg, much less his bed.
He’s stuck, he’s going to be voided, and he knows that. He’s known it from the start, from the first time he’d set foot in a room that was so obviously temporary that there was no hiding it. Tubbo is dyslexic, not stupid, and even he can tell that Dream finished the remodels on his base a while ago; the one where he stayed was meant to keep him out of the DreamSMP’s business and in their sights. This was all temporary, but it wasn’t all for nothing.
“I’ll see you again, Tommy,” he mumbles reassuringly, knowing how big of a lie that it is, “we’re a duo, remember?”
He smiles as Tommy gives him a strained smile back, and then he blinks and is unable to open his eyes again.
Tubbo wakes up with a blanket pulled up to his chin and a numb hand, which is surprising, as he wasn’t expecting to wake up at all.
The room is bright in a mid-morning sort of way, and through the unobstructed window he can see the dark walls that surround L’Manburg. It’s an odd sight to see, considering that he thought he’d never come back here. Despite being home for the first time on what feels like forever, Tubbo feels a homesickness strong enough to rival the effects of a nausea potion. He’s not welcome here- he hasn’t been welcome since he left with the discs.
But when he looks over to his right, Tommy is there, crushing Tubbo’s hand with his own as he breathes steadily. There’s space between them on the bed, like Tommy hadn’t been able to bring himself to actually get close but had wanted to offer some form of comfort. Wilbur is also there, but he’s very awake and very cross looking. He also looks like he’s aged a hundred years since Tubbo’s last seen him, which fills him with guilt when he realizes that he must be the cause of it. Fundy and Eret are both gone, probably running things while Wilbur babysits the traitor turned almost murder victim.
Never one to waste time when it’s important, the man jumps right into it.
“We got you here and set you on the first bed we could,” Wilbur tells him, eyes dark with the memory as he stares down at Tubbo’s side. The wound is long gone, having been healed when he’d respawned, but Tubbo can’t blame him for looking when he himself keeps expecting to see it too.
“You died on that bed, turned into smoke and everything, and then you came back in the same exact spot.”
Tommy, whose grip is still crushing his hand, shifts the slightest bit closer to him with a grumble.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tommy cry so hard, and I hope I don’t have to see it ever again,” he says quietly, glancing at the boy who’s slowly getting closer and closer.
“I’m sorry,” Tubbo offers in reply. It’s clearly not what Wilbur wants to hear, because the man straightens dramatically and stares down at him, sad expression gone.
“The next time something like this happens, you tell someone. Do I make myself fucking clear?”
Tubbo opens his mouth to defend himself but shuts it just as quickly, not knowing what to say. He can feel his eyes beginning to burn as he waits for the second shoe to drop, for him to be kicked out and left to his own devices before he’s hunted down by someone.
“I don’t care what the damn bastard threatens you with, this never should have happened,” Wilbur continues angrily before softening slightly at Tubbo’s glassy eyes. He comes just a little bit closer and uses his hand to push Tubbo’s hair away from his face so he can look into his eyes.
“You shouldn’t have been in the situation. And I’m sorry that you were- that I couldn’t save you from it.”
“I’m sorry too,” Tubbo says softly, before Wilbur stares him down and motions for him to stop.
“But the discs- Tommy was so upset about them-”
“Tommy wasn’t screaming about the fucking discs, Tubbo, he was screaming about you! No one gives a shit about the discs!”
The teenager in question shifts in his sleep, wrapping around Tubbo further; Wilbur takes a careful breath and lowers his voice before continuing.
“He knew that you wouldn’t do it without reason- he wanted to know what they’d promised you, if it was worth it.”
Tubbo laughs a little bit before he gives a stubborn smile to Wilbur and nods his head as much as he can while laying down.
“I think so, yes.”
And Wilbur falters, the bitter smile falling from his face before it’s replaced by confusion and an anxiety that would normally be hidden away. Tubbo grimaces at what he’s about to say before releasing an accepting sigh and getting in with it. Like ripping off a band-aid.
“I was a dead man walking from the very beginning, and I’d have to be stupid to think otherwise.”
Wilbur looks sad, very sad, as his hand begins to card through Tubbo’s hair.
“Oh, Tubbo,” he says softly, almost a perfect mirror of when Wilbur had seen the slice on Tubbo's neck in the beginning of this mess. There’s nothing else to say, both of them not knowing how to fill the silence so they let it stretch on. Eventually, it becomes comfortable.
Wilbur stays with him until the light from the window begins to get darker, at which point he bids Tubbo goodnight and leaves with a sad smile and a promise to tell the others that Tubbo is okay. Tommy, dead to the world, stays.
Tubbo wakes up half curled into Tommy’s lap, even though the other is sitting up with a book in his hand and a miserable expression of boredom on his face. It almost makes him laugh; Tommy’s never been one for reading or for sitting still, and it shows in the way that he keeps on sighing and being fidgety. Light shines across the room; it’s day once again, he notes without moving. The light in the room is brighter, more so than it was the last time that he woke up, possibly.
“I’m sorry, Tommy,” Tubbo whispers, further hiding his face in Tommy’s shirt. He startles slightly, clearly not expecting for him to be awake, but he quickly shuts the book in his hands and shifts.
“You’re a bitch, Tubbo,” Tommy starts as he quickly tosses the book down beside him on the bed. Tubbo wilts the slightest bit before the teen’s hands settle on his back and in his hair, just holding him like he’s missed him dearly and doesn't know how to say it.
“But you’re my best friend, and I love you, even if you fucked up.”
“He was going to void you-”
“I’d like to see that bitch try it,” Tommy says with a slight snarl, his fingers still gently holding Tubbo. His hands don’t fall away as Tubbo sits up, merely shifting so that an arm falls around his shoulder and the other hand holds his. Tommy, filled with such confidence that Dream isn't that powerful, seems so strong and sure that it makes something in his chest warm a little bit. Tubbo knows what Dream can do, and he's entirely capable of voiding someone- but that doesn't matter to his best friend, even if it really should.
Despite it all, Tubbo laughs and leans into the touch.
When Tubbo finally goes outside, Tommy is by his side the entire time. Everyone is happy to see him in a sad way, giving him smiles that scream that Wilbur told them everything. It’s a bit strained, he notes as he returns Fundy’s smile, but it’s nice to be back home. “I’m here for an excuse to beat someone up who isn’t a casual,” a bored voice drones from behind him, making him flinch slightly. Tommy doesn’t seem all that surprised, instead replying with a simple greeting.
“Techno, nice of you to join the cause.”
“You guys are poor-”
“You live in a dirt shack.”
“Oh, fuck off-”
“It’s nice to see you, Tubbo,” Phil smiles like he’s lived in L’Manburg his entire life and not like he’d traveled what must have been an extreme distance just because Tubbo was a fool. Though, if he considers the large structures- obviously built by Eret- that are suddenly in L’Manburg, the two might be staying for a while at least. Curious, Tubbo motions for his friend to lean down so he can ask something.
“What’s the occasion?” Tubbo asks in a whisper. Tommy barks out a laugh before he turns and stares down at him.
“What's the occas- you, you idiot.”
Tubbo leans back with a small ‘oh, okay’ that Tommy laughs at like it’s the funniest thing he’s ever heard. Under the watchful eyes of Philza and Technoblade, Tubbo leans in to whisper in his friend’s ear once more.
“Are they- are they mad?”
“Oh, no, they’re pissed, actually,” Tubbo shrinks the slightest bit, which he knows Tommy sees because his friend rushes to add on a vicious, “the green bitch and his posse are going down.”
Still feeling nervous, Tubbo eyes the two newcomers with a small amount of wariness. Phil smiles at him broadly, and Technoblade offers an awkward one of his own, following Phil's lead. He smiles back a little bit, hoping that the two older men didn’t know all that he’d done recently. Tubbo’s hopes are dashed the second Technoblade opens his mouth again.
“Imagine getting blackmailed by a guy who wears a face over his face.”
Tommy is quick to snark back a reply, though it’s not even remotely witty, it’s familiar and it makes Tubbo laugh.
“Imagine being a bitch-"
Chapter 2: Sometimes, Quiet Is Violent
Due to popular demand, here's another chapter! <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It’s just rained, earlier on in the morning, but the water is still on the ground.
The grass under his feet is soft and wet, making him slip more than once as he walks around barefoot with Tommy, who’s trailing after him and loudly cursing the very existence of wet grass. His friend’s smile is as bright as his feet are wet, despite how much he’s been saying he hates it; that’s just how Tommy is though, sometimes- putting up a front of anger when he doesn’t want to seem childish for enjoying something. It’s the kind of thing he used to do before, and Tubbo hates that every little moment like this feels like both something lost and forgiveness. He also hates that he can’t have moments like these without the constant fear of being watched, of someone tearing up every moment like this in front of him like Dream had done with the afternoon spent in the boat.
Tubbo’s been back for two days, but he doesn’t feel safe here. The walls of L’Manburg stand tall and proud just a few feet away from them, close to casting them in shadow as they get closer to them and offering all the protection that they can give. For some reason, he can’t get the thought that the DreamSMP threatened to void everyone within their walls- that they certainly have the power to do so. Walls aren't going to save them, if the time comes for Dream to make good on his threats.
Tommy takes a step, slips, and goes down hard while still holding his hand. Tubbo is dragged down as well, landing next to his cursing friend next to the shadow of their best defense. And he laughs like he’s supposed to, dissolving into giggles that immediately get drowned out by Tommy’s cackling curses, but that he knows the other teen can hear. Tubbo smiles widely, and spreads his free arm out to the side. His fingertips touch the cold shadows from the wall, and some of the joy leaves him at the feeling.
Tubbo curls them into his palm and allows himself to be pulled back in by Tommy's voice again.
It’s just Tommy and him right now, just as it’s been only Tommy and him for the past few hours, and the entirety of the day before.
Everyone else is busy planning for the war, which is supposed to be over. They lost- Tubbo gave away the discs, and there’s nothing to fight over now. The war is over-
But it’s not, as well.
(“Why’s the war still going on?” Tubbo asks as he and Eret walk through town in the direction of the mines. There's been a shortage of coal, lately, and they both happen to need some now, so they're going together.
The buddy system has been strictly enforced since he's gotten back.
“It’s changed direction,” Eret replies carefully, not giving Tubbo any other hints.
The quiet that’s been following him around plagues them for a few minutes before he can get up the courage to break it.
“What’s the war over now?” Tubbo asks as they reach their destination. The man pauses and looks down at him with a tight smile and ruffles his hair.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Tubbo gets something similar from everyone else, except for Technoblade, who just tells him to wait with an intimidatingly blank expression.)
Currently, Tubbo’s being kept from any discussions on the new war and its mysterious cause, even the small things like what supplies they need to gather to not get pummeled immediately. Not that Technoblade would let that happen; Tubbo hasn’t known the man for long, but he’s very intimidated by him and avoids him sometimes, even though he’s the only one who’s even implied that Tubbo’s got a place in the war. He just doesn’t seem like the type of person that loses, and Tubbo’s ridiculously happy that he’s on their side.
Honestly, he wishes that he could help them out more, but he’s been shoo’d away a lot recently- pretty much any time he tries to get his foot in the door with it. Wilbur has told him in no uncertain terms that Tubbo’s done enough, and that he should get to be a kid like he was before. He appreciates the thought, really, but it still puts him on edge when Technoblade and Phil leave the meetings with thunder in their expressions and gritted teeth, which is reflected in everyone else to a smaller extent. Tubbo always watches them leave the building, keeping quiet as a mouse while they walk with stiff shoulders.
He tries to convince himself that they aren't talking about him in those meetings, but he's sure that they are.
They always look at him, like they’re searching for something, and Tommy always finds him soon after and leads him away with a loud yell about something or other. Tubbo always feels their eyes on his back as he’s led away; his shoulders curl with the weight of the guilt, even as he tries to listen to his friend. It’s hard to go be carefree when everyone watches you like a hawk; it makes him feel like they haven’t forgiven him at all.
(He’s not sure how to act around Technoblade and Phil, who probably aren’t here for him anyway. They’re here for something different, no matter what Tommy said, they have to be. The two don’t even know Tubbo, and he can only assume that Wilbur’s been recruiting just for the intimidation that additional numbers have again.
Sometimes, he sees their faces and wonders what they’ve been told about him and what he did.
No, he thinks as he watches the two talk, they can't possibly be here because of him.)
Besides, Tubbo can’t remember how to be who he was before this whole mess- none of them can, really. It’s sad, but the war gives him a purpose that he didn’t have before, and he knows that it’s not just him who feels it. He can see it in Tommy’s prideful smiles that he gives when he's been especially clever with a plot, and in the work that everyone has done to build and maintain the land around them. It’s theirs, and only theirs, and that gives them something to fight for- something worth fighting for.
“Hey, Tubbo,” Tommy’s hand squeezes his and tugs him back to the present.
“Yeah?” he replies curiously, still a little caught up in his thoughts.
“You’re my best friend, you know,” his friend admits freely, like he doesn’t have every reason to just leave Tubbo here alone in the wet grass. It makes something in his heart simultaneously leap with joy and sink like a stone does through air. It’s not really different from before- Tubbo had never thought that his friend didn’t care for him, despite his sometimes rough words. But it still feels a little jarring. Tommy’s been much more affectionate, much closer, since Tubbo woke up- he can’t help but wonder why that is, even though he has a few ideas.
Tommy’s lonely, being the first. Tubbo sees it in the way that he sometimes goes quiet, like he’s forgotten that Tubbo’s back and able to listen to his every word again. It’s hard to see, when it happens, because Tommy was never meant to be quiet- even when they used to spy on Dream and his friends, they would both be choking back laughter and whispering what they could see, despite seeing the same exact thing. It often got them caught, but it was in a time where the worst thing they got from Dream and Sapnap and George was a playful eye-roll.
The second one is that Tommy’s scared, as ridiculous as it seems; his friend is more likely to curse someone out while they stab him than to cower from the blade. That's how it's been for as long as Tubbo can remember- but now he holds Tubbo’s hand like he’s going to disappear the second he lets go. The way that he’d cried over Tubbo in the meadow isn’t something that he likes to think about, and he’s sure that Tommy feels the same, so he never brings it up. But he makes sure to hold his friend’s hand tighter when he thinks Tommy needs it, and to follow him around even closer than he used to.
Tommy might be scared, and if he is, Tubbo’s right there with him.
“You’re mine too,” he hums quietly in response, staring up at the sky and trying to pretend like everything is fine.
The door to the meeting building, a new one built by Eret, is slammed open. Tubbo squeezes his eyes shut, but stays on the ground.
Things have certainly changed since Tubbo’s gotten back, and he can’t quite tell if that’s a good thing yet.
Tubbo sleeps in bed with Tommy most nights, curled into his best friend's arms as closely as possible and trying to shut out the guilt and fear that still linger. Even in the quiet warmth of Tommy’s bed, he’s scared beyond belief of staying here, of causing more trouble for all of his friends- but he’s too scared to go. He’s stuck, worried that Dream is going to come finish the job any second, and that he’s going to be dragging his friends down with him this time, but too scared to leave and have to face the man alone again.
L’Manburg is too quiet, now.
Sometimes, when the other thinks he’s asleep, he catches Tommy humming to himself to fill the silence that’s been ringing in everyone’s ears lately. L’Manburg is so much quieter without the discs that his friend had loved to play constantly, and the lack of noise grates on him like nothing else. The silence trails after them like a ghost, filling every room and haunting everyone in it.
Even though his friend claims it doesn’t bother him, that he’s just glad to have Tubbo back, the guilt stays.
(Maybe it’s because he’s fairly certain that his friend is lying to make him feel better; the whole war had nearly revolved around those discs, and Tommy had fought for the right to play his own music in peace. A right that Tubbo had taken away and traded right in front of his face.
Maybe it’s because he doesn’t ever want to hear those discs again, and he has a hard time feeling bad about their absence. Dream played them on loop so much that Tubbo can’t ever see himself being able to enjoy their music again. But this isn’t about him- this is about him losing something that Tommy loves, something that Tubbo gave up freely and now has to guilt himself into feeling bad about, which somehow makes the guilt even worse.
He feels bad that Tommy is hurting because of something he did, but he doesn’t want to undo it and have to listen to every painful scratch of the softly haunting notes.)
Eventually, the guilt of it pushes him from Tommy’s bed in the later hours of the night, and he goes to find his own bed to sleep in. It’s not hard to leave his friend’s arms- Tommy doesn’t try to keep him there this time, even when he’s asleep, and Tubbo takes that as it is and walks away.
He steps back into his own house for the first time in a while and his knees shake so hard he almost hits the ground before he even gets all the way through the door. Now, he thinks he gets why Tommy had been so insistent on Tubbo staying with him.
(“I’ll have to go back to my own bed eventually,” Tubbo points out as his friend shoves the blankets over and climbs onto the mattress. It’s perfect for one person, but two people is stretching it, even if they fit together like two puzzle pieces.
“Nonsense, we fit,” Tommy argues, something heavy in his eyes as he plasters on a smile.
“Not really,” Tubbo says as he eyes the small amount of space he’s left with once his friend has settled. Tommy looks down at it and then back up at him.
“Well, that’s because you’re a fat bitch.”
Tubbo climbs in when Tommy pats the space next to him. Minutes later, when he’s been still for a while and carefully controlling his breathing, Tommy pulls him closer and begins humming.
Tubbo dreads every night after that one, but he never fails to sleep in Tommy’s bed when his friend asks.)
His house, something that he’d built and lived in since the beginning, is in shambles around him, and it feels like the world is crumbling down around him all over again. It’s just a house, he thinks hysterically as he uses the wall to catch himself. His fingers catch on a gash in the wall, and he slams his eyes shut at the feeling of it. When he opens them again, they’re more adjusted to the dark than they were before, and he can see what’s become of his house even more clearly.
As he takes in the damage- the result of his betrayal and someone’s (Tommy, if he had to guess) hurt feelings, Tubbo can feel himself slowly shutting down the longer that he stares. Most of it is replaceable-
The chests are broken, lids missing from a few of them. The floor is scuffed, the walls slashed.
That’s all something that he can fix, and they never really mattered to him anyway, even though it hurts to see them in such a state.
It’s the elephant in the room that he can’t even look at directly, instead choosing to let his eyes catch on the pieces strewn about as his gaze follows the destruction to it’s heart.
His bed is demolished, the wood splintered and the mattress in tiny pieces all around the room.
Tubbo’s hands come up to cover his face and his shoulders shake, but he doesn’t allow himself to really cry about it. It’s fair that this happened, he thinks as he turns away from the torn apart bed. His eyes still catch bits of it across the room, and he has to shut them.
He can’t hold this against them, not when he’s the one who hurt them in the first place. Besides, this could have happened at any point- he’d have been more surprised if his house was fully intact, after what he’s done.
Some part of him wonders if anyone else knows, and what they think of it.
Another part just stares and considers how easy beds are to destroy.
There’s no one to see him as he wipes his eyes, grabs some old shears from one of his nearly broken chests, and sets off. The sun is just starting to rise, so he’ll need to be careful of monsters, but he’s got to get this done before everyone else is looking for him.
Tommy’s been called into the meetings as well, now, which leaves Tubbo as the only one out of the loop. He doesn’t mind as much as he probably should, but he doesn’t focus on that much.
Tubbo spends a lot of time doing his own thing now that Tommy’s busy with the war too.
His hands tug at the end of the hoe as he tries to yank it through the dry dirt; he probably could have waited longer to begin hoeing it, as the water hasn’t really had time to soak in, but there’s nothing else for him to do that wouldn’t involve going out of the room at the moment, and he’s too busy and nervous to even consider that an option.
No one has had a lot of options recently.
Tubbo forces the tool through the dirt again.
Everyone is uncharacteristically serious, and no one will tell him what they’re even fighting about this time. Sometimes, Tubbo wonders if they even know, or if they’re just so used to fighting that they wouldn’t know what to do without it- if no one has told him what they’re doing it for because they don’t have a goal this time.
Every time he sees them pile into the planning building, he wants to bang on the door and scream that they can’t have a war with nothing to fight for. He wants to yell that they lost the war, and that they should accept it and move on without any more fighting. His friends have become desperate for victory, he thinks, and it scares him. If they are, it’s his own fault, Tubbo reminds himself as he curls up tighter over the indoor garden he’s been trying to set up. He forces the hoe back through the dirt and its handle slams into his stomach when he pulls it back too roughly. He keeps going, planting the carrots and the wheat seeds and dusting bone meal over them in equal measure.
He’s the one who gave Dream the discs, and who lost them the war in the first place.
(And, despite what Wilbur said, Tubbo knows that Tommy was screaming for the discs. His friend has been different since he’s come back- a lot quieter and more serious than he should be and it’s all Tubbo’s fault.
Tommy loved those discs, and he hums their melodies to fill their silence.
This change, Tubbo notes whenever he hears it, is not for the best.)
Tubbo stands up slowly and peers down at the garden, considering how fast the wheat is growing versus the carrots. Only one of those can be readily eaten, and it’s not the one that’s growing as fast as it could. Carefully, he adds more bone meal to the garden and scrubs a miserable hand across his eyes as they grow hot with the beginnings of tears. His hands pick up the abandoned hoe by it’s splintering handle and hold it uncertainly.
God, he’ll never forgive himself if L'Manburg starts another war just because he was stupid enough to lose them the last one. He hopes that it’s not the reason he’s been kept from the planning; however, even if it is, he’s been working to do his own part.
If he can’t help them, maybe he can save them.
“Tubbo, what’s this?” Wilbur’s voice almost echoes in the silence of the room, sounding confused. Tubbo, who hadn’t even heard the older man come down the creaky wooden ladder, jumps like he’s been caught doing something he’s not supposed to. The hoe falls from his loosened grip and hits the ground with a clang, and he fumbles to recover it, just to have something to hold on to. The bone meal bag lays at his feet, an explosion of powder around it from where he'd dropped it earlier. His own eyes dart around, catching all of the details that his leader is surely seeing too.
The room, so far underground that the floor has bedrock in the lower parts of it, is made up of obsidian. It’s just like Tommy’s bunker, in a way, but much larger- less of a panic room and more of a self-sustaining underground house.
The walls are lined with beds, one for each member of L’Manburg and then some more, just in case something happens to the others. There’s a farm growing under glow stone lights, which Tubbo has discovered work as well as natural sunlight in the growing process.
Not knowing what to say, he tries to launch into an explanation without stuttering or crying- he fails miserably.
“I- I just- Dream, he- and I-”
Tubbo dissolves into tears, choking on his words too badly for them to mean anything. Wilbur stares at the room around him and something like a sad sort of understanding lights up in his eyes. Tubbo watches him take it in through vision blurred by tears, trying his best not to break down anymore than he already has.
Wilbur comes closer and holds him while he keeps trying to stutter out an explanation through his tears, running a hand down his back and humming soothingly.
“Thank you, Tubbo,” he whispers when Tubbo’s unable to even get a word out, “thank you.”
They go back up together, and Wilbur holds him close the entire way to Tommy’s house. His friend takes him in with a few worried glances, but immediately launches into comforting chatter that fills the silence in the same way that music used to.
The three people who he’d spent so much time with just a few days ago are just outside the walls, waiting for something in the same way that Tubbo has been waiting for them.
Unfortunately, Tubbo doesn’t realize this until he’s walking past the entrance, so lost in thought that he completely misses the very intimidating group until he hears the sound of someone shifting their weight in netherite armor. He startles badly, jumping like a coward and whirling towards the noise with his hands already coming up to wring together anxiously. His feet stumble over each other as he backs away quickly, despite knowing that they can’t come in without violating the treaty. They do a lot of things that they shouldn’t; a piece of paper isn’t going to stop them.
(“That isn’t in the treaty,” Wilbur argues with a scowl, staring Dream down.
The other man smiles before tossing a new piece of paper to the leader of L’Manburg.
“Then write it in.”)
As horrified as he is to see them, they seem almost pleased to see him. Dream stares at him from behind the mask, a pleasant smile on his lips as he opens his mouth.
And he stops, suddenly taking note of the way that Tubbo’s backed away at the sound of his name. He does his best not to shake as he’s examined by the three. They stare at each other, and Dream takes a step closer, toeing the line of the nation that Tubbo’s backed even further into.
“Tubbo,” he tries again with a frown. George and Sapnap are staring at him as well, though he doesn’t take the time to focus on it. Tubbo’s just about to back away some more, even if he knows it won’t save him, when they’re interrupted by the sound of a door slamming open a little ways away from where they’re standing.
Against his better judgement, Tubbo turns his back to Dream to see what’s happening.
Wilbur comes out of the planning building just then with a tight frown, sees the three just outside of the entrance, and calls something into the room. Immediately, the others are out and coming over, moving as one as they all come to defend him; Tommy carefully puts himself halfway between Tubbo and the DreamSMP, like it’s going to hide him from whatever’s happening. Tubbo's not going to say that he's never felt more useless, becasue he has, but the feeling in his chest isn't a positive one as he stares at his best friend's back.
The silence stretches between the two sides
Dream’s attention moves from him and rests on each of them in turn before it catches on Philza and Technoblade. His surprise is obvious in the way that he stiffens, but he doesn’t say anything else. His attention flits back to Tubbo, but he squeezes his eyes shut against it and shuffles away a little further. Dream considers him for a few more seconds, and then he finally turns away without saying anything else. Sapnap and George follow him, and L’Manburg watches them go.
“Did they come all the way over here just to flex on us?” Technoblade asks as he turns to Wilbur. The man doesn't respond, instead turning to look at Tubbo, obviously assessing him for any damage and seeming a little more relaxed when he doesn't see anything
“How do you know how far they came?” Phil asks with a raised eyebrow and a smile, like what’s just happened is something to be brushed off. His shoulders are rigid under his jacket, betraying his true feelings, but maybe that's just Tubbo being on edge.
“I took a walk through their empire earlier, as an intimidation tactic. It worked.”
Everyone snorts at that, still watching the backs of Dream and his friends as they walk away.
The second they’re out of sight, Tubbo buries his face into Tommy’s shirt and lets his friend hold him together as he begins to shatter apart once again.
The war isn’t over, but they’ve got more time now than they have in a very long time.
The pre-war silence, the calm before the storm, feels disruptive to witness.
He’s the one who gave Dream the discs, and who lost them the war. Tubbo never thought he'd have to feel the tensions of war rise again, not so soon.
Tubbo stands up slowly and peers down at the garden, which has been growing a lot faster recently. His eyes trail the thin stems of wheat as his mind wanders, still focused on the silence.
His friend had loved those discs, which are hard to come by and deadly to find. Tubbo’s eyes slowly land on his new bed, his respawn point, before he grabs a cheap sword.
Tubbo, an expert of sneaking around now, leaves the second everyone goes into their own houses for the night. Tommy had looked hurt when Tubbo had declined his offer to stay another night, but walked him to his own house anyway. The look on his face as Tubbo had touched the door was almost close to fear, before he’d seen the completely repaired house and looked away.
(“It’s alright Tommy,” Tubbo assures him. His friend wordlessly pulls him into a hug and shudders out a breath.
Now, it’s Tubbo’s turn to hold his friend- he’s certain that he doesn’t do it nearly as well as Tommy, but it has to count for something because his friend offers him a watery smile before he goes back to his own house.)
His feet slowly guide him past the entrance of L’Manburg and off of the only land he’s been on for nearly a week. Something in him screams to go back, saying that he’s not safe anymore, someone is going to kill him. Tubbo gives in only slightly, and goes the opposite direction from the meadow where the bees had lived. He’s got to go out and do this, he thinks as he creeps his way onto neutral ground, where anything can happen.
The only real way to make a disc is to have a skeleton kill a creeper, and L’Manburg is too lit up for those to come out. Besides, everyone would hear it anyway, and this is something that Tubbo’s going to do alone.
That doesn’t mean that isn’t scary, when he almost gets ripped apart by a hoard of undead right off the bat. Tubbo manages to scurry away and hide from them until they lose interest, but his heart pounds in his chest and he has to take a break before he’s even started his task.
It’s frustrating; he’s not a bad fighter, and he can do this alone- he’s fought plenty of monsters before.
Tubbo’s only nervous because of what happened the last time he was alone, and knowing it doesn't make it go away like it should. He can almost feel the eyes on his back as he catches his breath and sets out to find a creeper and a skeleton that he can lead to each other before either one manages to kill him and send him back to his bed. When he spots a few in the distance, his hands tighten on the handle of his sword.
Three hits with an iron one, and the skeleton can kill the creeper in one hit, and then a disc will drop and he can eventually get Tommy’s discs back to him, can stop the humming that his friend does when he doesn’t know Tubbo can hear him-
Keeping this in mind, Tubbo slashes his sword against the explosive mob three times before he gets the skeleton to shoot it. Then, he quickly takes the other monster down before it can get a clear shot at him, chopping it’s head clear off it’s bony neck. It takes a few moments of searching, but he eventually finds where the creeper died and wilts a little bit in disappointment.
It did drop a disc, but it’s not one of the ones he’s looking for. Still, his aching fingers pick it up carefully from the ground.
He gets three more discs just from that one night, and none of them are ones that will haunt him with their music.
Tubbo promises to himself that he’ll come back the next night and shoves the discs into an ender chest when he gets back.
The second night, Tubbo brings the ender chest with him and sets it on the ground in a safe area before he gets back to disc hunting.
He gets two more discs, but neither one is Cat or Mellohi. Still, he shoves them into the chest with the others and leaves it there in the plains for the next night.
He’s caught the third night, an arm coming around his thin waist and just picking him up and walking away. Tubbo’s immediate reaction is to struggle against the hold; this was something that he’s supposed to do alone, to make it up to his best friend and everyone else who’s ever lost something because of him. Tubbo was going to come back one night with both of the discs in hand and give them to his friend and make everything okay again-
His struggling gets harder when he realizes that he’s not being carried back in the direction that he’d come from earlier.
Tubbo goes from wiggling desperately to throwing elbows in seconds, trying his best to get loose with a renewed sense of fear and desperation. This isn’t anyone from L’Manburg, they would have said something, would have taken his hand and led him home and made sure everything was going to be okay-
His elbow hits the front of a netherite helmet hard, and he gasps with the sharp pain of it, but doesn’t stop fighting. The arm around his waist adjusts to pin his arms down to his side, and Tubbo is forced to resort to only kicking, which isn’t nearly as effective as being able to use his arms. His mind is going a mile a minute; Tubbo’s never been kidnapped before, and he’s not sure what he’s supposed to be doing aside from resisting. The arm around him is tight, and it's getting harder and harder to breathe; Tubbo can't be sure if those two things are directly related.
“Let me go- put me the fuck down, Sapnap-” he's gasping, like there's not enough air even though he knows that there is, and he' so horribly scared.
The pace that the man has set is unhurried, like he knows that there’s not a chance of someone coming for Tubbo no matter how loudly he screams or how hard he fights to get free. Like he knows that Tubbo’s alone tonight. Tubbo wouldn’t be surprised if the DreamSMP has been watching him every night before this one, waiting for the best time to strike and pull something like this. And how stupid was it that he’d left at night, all alone, when he’s been thinking that this could happen?
The fear makes him nauseous, but he doesn’t stop fighting.
His sword is little more than a sharp stick at this point, and it does nothing to the enchanted netherite armor of the person who’s carrying him. Still, Tubbo slams it as much as he’s able to with his arms pinned at the elbow. It doesn’t do much, and Sapnap only sighs a little bit at his attempts before he picks up the pace a little bit more. The night’s just started, and there isn’t enough monsters to really slow him down as he carries Tubbo past the threshold of the DreamSMP territory. He manages to hook his foot around and slam it into the back of Sapnap’s knee, which causes the man to stumble slightly before he sighs and swings Tubbo up and around into a bridal carry so that he can hold his legs still as well.
Tubbo finds it odd that the man hasn’t resorted to violence yet, hasn’t even threatened to hurt him.
He struggles harder when he’s carried even further into the land of the SMP, even though the chances of him getting free and getting away are so low that he’s more likely to find a pink sheep in the nether. Tubbo’s crying, and his hands can’t reach up high enough to wipe the tears away so they slide down his face unhindered, making him feel even more pathetic. The second that he sees the building he’d stayed in the last time he was here, Tubbo feels his eyes get hotter and he thrashes hard enough that Sapnap has to correct his balance fofore Tubbo knocks them both to the ground.
The others won’t even know he’s gone- they won’t have the time to. No one has the time for anything but war planning now, and Tubbo’s been on his own for a little longer than that. He’s been lonely in a group of people, left out and clueless and scared- no one will realize that he’s gone before at least noon, and no one will see that as an issue until he’s not back by sunset.
The DreamSMP has him, and no one will care to think of where he could be until almost a full day has passed. It’s up to Tubbo to get himself out of this one, and he can’t even get Sapnap to put him down, can't even stop gasping for the air around him. He kicks his feet as hard as he can, still fighting even though he knows there’s nothing he can really do. Tubbo fights and fights until his body hurts from fighting against solid netherite and until there’s nothing on his mind but getting free- getting home.
George shows up at some point, but Tubbo can’t really tell what he’s doing past all of his panicked tears and gasping and flailing. He’s not going to be able to get out of here before they kill him-
And now is a terrible time to realize that he’s been so busy disc farming that he’s not gotten to sleep in his new bed yet. Tommy’s bed is his own, and it only accepts one spawn set at a time- Tommy was the last one to sleep in it.
If Tubbo dies here, he goes into the void until Dream comes to get him- if he even comes for Tubbo at all. Distantly, as he hyperventilates in Sapnap’s arms, he wonders what L’Manburg would even trade to have him back- if they would trade for him at all. He wants to believe that they would, that they would give up almost anything like he would for them, but he can’t help but doubt it.
Even if they did, they don’t have anything that Dream wants anymore, and Tubbo’s only got himself to blame for it.
As if to mock him, Tubbo’s set down on a bed by Sapnap, who stays close and tries to make eye contact with him. Tubbo doesn’t let him, too busy being trapped in his head. It’s either the same bed that he’d slept in before, or they made a new one just for this; both scenarios end the same, and Tubbo curls into himself a little bit tighter. A heavy hand, still covered in netherite armor, rests on his shoulder in a touch that would have been comforting if he was home. Tubbo trembles under it but doesn’t try to shove it away, almost afraid of how the man would retaliate.
In just a few minutes. Tubbo’s gone from kicking and screaming to huddling in on himself, and the difference makes him feel apathetic. L’Manburg soldiers are supposed to be brave; Tommy wouldn’t be curled in a ball if he were here. No, his friend would be cussing and screaming until they gagged him, and even after that he’d keep doing it.
Tubbo's chest feels too tight to do much of anything, and he's begun holding his breath because he's scared of making too much noise in this small room.
His friend is brave, Tubbo decides as he rests his head on his knees and wraps his hands around his legs. Tommy is one of the bravest people he knows.
Sapnap, who’s leaned down to peek into his little ball, almost looks concerned for him; his eyebrows are furrowed, but his face has a grim smile on it, like he’s not sure what he’s supposed to be doing but he thinks a smile will help. It would have, before the war. Stubbornly avoiding meeting the man’s eyes, Tubbo presses his face deeper into his knees and doesn’t move. Sapnap’s hand slides off of his shoulder as he sighs, which Tubbo hears George echo from his position against the wall.
They want him to set his spawn here, he knows. If they can get him to do that, he’s never going to get out of here- not if all they have to do is kill him to get him back. Tubbo is fucked, and everyone here knows it.
“I’ll watch him,” George offers after a short silence.
“Guess I’ll go tell Dream then. Make sure he sleeps.”
“Obviously,” the man against the wall grumbles, not putting nearly as much energy into it as he usually does. Tubbo knows from experience that Sapnap and George can argue and bicker endlessly, and the lack of energy in this round is just another thing that’s changed.
The door opens, and one set of footsteps exits. Tubbo uncurls slightly now that Sapnap’s gone; he’d never spent much time with George, but he and Sapnap used to do a lot together. They’d been friends, before all of this, and it’s just another thing that’s changed.
Tubbo sucks in a low breath that doesn't give him enough air to stop the ache in his lungs, and the noise seems impossible loud.
“Go to bed,” George sighs quietly from the corner of the room, sounding tired despite being the one who volunteered to be put on watch. Tubbo, shaking too hard and unwilling to say anything anyway, shakes his head rapidly without ever lifting his head from his knees.
“You have to sleep, Tubbo-”
“Or- or what, you’ll kill me?” Tubbo cuts him off with a bitter mumble. It sounds breathy to his own ears, and the look that George gives him as he walks over tells him that the other man heard it too.
"Tubbo, you need to breathe."
He shakes his head jerkily, curling back into his ball so he doesn't have to look.
In retaliation, George places his palm on Tubbo’s forehead and gives it a push so forceful that his head slams into the wall behind him. The pain of it makes air rush into his lungs. He hits it so hard that his vision swims before George manually places Tubbo’s head on the pillow with a care that he’d lacked seconds earlier.
Despite his best efforts to stay awake, his head pounds something fierce, and the world goes dark.
Tubbo’s spawn is set back in the DreamSMP base again.
This chapter was going to be a lot longer, but I decided to split it into two parts so that I could update sooner! Please tell me what you thought of this, and your opinion on Villain Dream! <3
Chapter 3: Home Is Where The Heart Is (Please Come Home)
Last one!!!! <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
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.
This ending was so soft and fun to write! It's a little lazy, because I just wanted to get this out of my drafts and I haven't been sleeping well, so I'm sorry about that. Please let me know what you thought of this, or if there's anything that I need to go back and fix! <3