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a lie that sounds so sweet

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Tommy knew exactly what Dream was doing.

He wasn’t dumb. He wasn’t naive. He’d seen the world and the darkness in it and he knew what Dream was doing

But that didn’t stop him from falling for it.

The first time Dream had said those darn words — “I care about you, Tommy” — the lie had breathed an air of nostalgic warmth into the cold, hollow pit of his chest cavity. A fireplace flickered a honey-sweet longing into existence, as it oozed around his bones and quietened the logic in his mind. 

Because suddenly Tommy was young, and pale grey wings were wrapped around him, lips pressed to his hair as those exact words were whispered to him.

He was six and arms were pulling him against a strong chest, pink hair tickling his nose as his older brother told him to never scare him like that again because he cared about him .

He was eleven and long fingers, calloused from bronze guitar strings, were running up and down his arms, bringing warmth to his shivering body as the pair huddled together in a cave. Because, goddamnit, he cared about him .

Tommy hadn’t thought those words as lies when Phil or Techno or Wilbur said them, but now as that same sweetness filled his throat and ears and eyes, he thought that maybe they had been lies all along.

Because Dream said it in the exact same way; quietly, loudly, honestly, assuringly. It was a lie , and Tommy knew it.

But Tommy was hungry, and his body ached for warmth, and so he let himself believe the lie for now.

Dream kept saying it, kept reiterating his point.

Kept caring , and loving , and giving , and taking .

The lie always left a bitter tang in Tommy’s mouth but he ignored it because he wanted to taste honey and feel warm and feel home .

( He wanted to go home. )

When nobody came to his beach party, Tommy could feel the grief carve out his chest cavity and claw at his ribcage until all the honey and warmth was gone, and Tommy felt alone all again.

Dream’s lies didn’t manage to fill the space, but it eased the pain of scratched ribs and hollow lungs enough for him to pretend everything was still fine. 

Only it wasn’t okay, as Tommy was kindly reminded when Dream decided to blow everything up. Again.

Because Dream blew up everything Tommy cared about, all the time, and turned everything hollow.

Maybe that’s why Tommy made that stupid one-by-one tower, going as high as possible until he couldn’t feel the emptiness of his chest because everything felt too light and hazy. Honey dripped from his eyes, warmth blew away with the wind and Tommy was tired goddamnit.

He wanted to go home. 

Which was probably the reason as to why he was walking through the snow now, his feet numb and as white as the snow under them. His eyes stung with the chilling burn of snowflakes, bones shuddering with every heart-stopping breath and lips as blue as his irises. 

His fucking shoe had fallen off somewhere along the line, and his shitty, torn-up shirt was doing jack shit for him. But he didn’t really care what happened at this point. If he died, he died, and he would die just as cold and empty as he would have if he’d jumped from that tower.

Tommy passed a village at some point but didn’t care to stop, even as some of the villagers welcomed him into their homes and offered warmer clothes. The village’s mage had stopped him, telling him of a blizzard to come while a healer provided potions and a pair of enchanted boots to keep his feet free of frostbite.

It turned out that mages and healers were quite difficult to argue with, so Tommy was forced to take the supplies before finishing passing through the village. The trip became a bit easier with a stomach full of warming potions and enchanted, fur-lined boots.

When night came, Tommy only managed to maintain his pace for a few hours before he was forced to dig out a small space in a mountain side for shelter. The mobs became few and far between the further he travelled from civilisation, although he soon became aware that mobs weren’t the biggest of his issues.

The mage was right about the blizzard, which was probably the harshest he’d seen in his life. Somehow the wooden planks he’d used to cover his make-shift cave kept the snow out, even as wind rattled it all through the night.

Tommy didn’t sleep much, with the whistling winds, moaning mobs and howls of arctic wolves. 

When morning came, the blizzard had passed and all that was left was a thick blanket of soft snow. It left Tommy knee-deep in the white stuff, trudging through the vast, empty terrain with no real idea of which direction he was supposed to go.

He blamed the blizzard on why he never found Technoblade’s base in all the snowy wasteland he’d covered and how he somehow ended up in a snowy taiga biome.

Tommy could have turned back, could have told himself to scan over the snow wasteland again, could have opened his communicator to call out for Dream. But for some inexplicable reason, he continued on through the forest.

It was strange seeing trees again and the thickness of snow on the ground had thinned to barely an inch, if any.

A slight feeling of guilt simmered in his gut as he realised the implications of what he was doing. He wasn’t just running away from Dream, he wasn’t just going further than even Techno’s base. He was leaving .

As in— he was going as far as he possibly could from L’Manburg and the main centre of the SMP. He told himself it didn’t mean he’d never come back, but a part of him hoped that maybe he would. A part of him thought that maybe this could be the end.

From then on, Tommy started thinking of the permanent.

He’d need to make a house, maybe mine for more ores, build his armour and supplies back up (after Dream blew them all to Nether). But to do that, he’d have to get further away than where he was now.

So he began travelling.

Going through the taiga was much quicker than the snowy wasteland he’d been in before. He reached an oak forest in less than a week, then a desert another three days later. He adopted an arctic fox in the snowy taiga, although Tommy assumed the poor thing must have glitched since 1) it acted more like a domestic cat or dog even before it had trusted him, 2) he didn’t even have to tame it or anything, and 3) it was giant.

The white fox reached about his hip, and Tommy found that her thick tail made a good pillow at times. At first he didn’t want to name her, since he was sure she was going to leave him once he left that biome, but she had followed him even into the desert (albeit whining and stubbornly not wanting to hunt any game for Tommy).

So he named the giant arctic fox Mellohi.

Neither Tommy nor Mellohi enjoyed the desert much, but his spirits definitely heightened after finding two seperate temples. It seemed as though there were no Priests or cursed mobs protecting them, and so Tommy gained a lot of loot after visiting.

After the desert came a tall spruce forest. Both Tommy and Mellohi appreciated the cooler weather, and so Tommy decided (after about two or three weeks of travelling) that this was where they would settle.

He found a village on the edge of the spruce forest, facing out towards a large span of empty plains. The village was relatively large, and Tommy built his own house along the forest line, a bit away from the village.

After a few days, Tommy decided that he was going to have to get a job. He began helping around in the farms, gaining a bit of money here and there. From there, he was noticed by the village’s weaponsmith and was hired for making the basic iron weapons but not handling advanced ores and definitely not allowed near the enchantment table.

Things developed well from there and it was the first time in a while that Tommy wasn’t constantly focused on how empty he felt.

He didn’t need L’Manburg or the Dream SMP to be happy. He didn’t need his discs or tnret or…

Tommy looked down to the compass in his hand, thumb tracing across the carved letters which spelt out ‘Your Tubbo’ messily. 

Tommy needed Tubbo… but maybe he needed to take a break for a while. Get away, get his priorities right and get Dream out of his goddamn head.

This would be good for him, he knew that already.

Maybe he’d learn to not rely on others for warmth and a honey-filled heart.

━━━━━━━━

It was four years later when Tommy decided that he wanted to go back.

Four years of just him and Mellohi and—

Oh yeah, he got a kid. 

It seemed as though Phil’s tendency of adopting strays ran in the family, since only two years into his new life, he took in a little kid. 

The boy’s name was Riko, and he was a slime hybrid.

Tommy had found him lost in a ravine one day, stealing the torches he had placed down to prevent mobs from spawning. At first he hadn’t spoken any semblance of English, and it had been difficult trying to ask where his family was, despite it being quite clear that a human-slime hybrid would have probably been abandoned by the pack. But the little hybrid wouldn’t leave him, even after he left the ravine and began heading back to the village.

Unfortunately (or later, fortunately) for Tommy, the slime-hybrid apparently had an obsession with foxes. Especially Mellohi. At first, Tommy was sure that Mellohi was the only reason Riko stayed around, considering Tommy’s disinterest in the boy initially.

( Later, Tommy embroidered a small white fox onto the front of Riko’s black hoodie. )

Riko was small, looking around six in human years. He had cool olive skin and curly, vibrant lime hair which was as fluffy as it was soft. His eyes were an ashy grey which sometimes changed shades depending on which lighting they were in. His tears were slightly green and sticky to touch, and sometimes he could produce balls of slime in his hands.

When Tommy first found him, he was as thin as a stick from being alone for so long, but he’d managed to build on some weight after all the hard work Tommy had made him do in training and farming.

So yes, at the age of 20, Tommy already had his own child.

( And Riko had filled Tommy’s chest with honey and warmth, in a way that didn’t taste like bitter lies on his tongue. )

Tommy himself had changed as well. His hair had grown out a bit more, now curling around his ears and flopping in front of his brows. He’d bulked up too, with all the work in the weaponry and on the farms. Gone were the days of pale, milky skin, with his face now sunkissed and smattered with freckles. His skills in fighting had gotten so much better as he grew up, learning how to use his speed and agility to his advantage (Techno’s training never really hit the mark since he was, well… actually strong).

He looked pretty badass now, with black cargo pants that had way too many pockets, and red patches sewn into the sides. He usually wore a white tank top most of the time, since all the hard work in the weaponry and on the farm left him sweaty as Nether. He kept his fingerless gloves on most of the time, considering he needed them for both of his jobs. The shirt he’d initially come with had been reduced to a single, red and white strip which stayed tied around his wrist to hold the ‘Your Tubbo ’ compass in place.

A month ago, Tommy had decided that he wanted to go back to L’Manburg.

He didn’t know why or how, but one day he’d woken up feeling as though maybe he was ready to see them again. He missed them a bit. 

Sure, Tommy loved his life. He loved Riko and Mellohi and all those in the village. But he was ready and he had nothing to really lose.

If Dream attacked him when he returned, then Tommy would fight him. He could take him now, Tommy knew that indefinitely. Dream was a coward who felt so intimidated by a sixteen year old that he resulted to manipulating him into submission (which he’d finally rid himself of).

He wouldn’t let Dream touch Riko, and he wouldn’t let him destroy everything all over again. If Dream was still… the green bitch he was, then Tommy would just leave. 

He had nothing to lose .

And so the trek began.

Riko complained all the way through, despite laying across Mellohi’s fluffy back most of the time. Tommy brought his own horse, Cat, this time, the same one he’d stolen from a pillager way back in his first year.

The desert was just as much of a bitch to travel through as it had been the first time, and yes, he still hated the heat. When they reached the snowy taiga, Mellohi had spent a full hour just pouncing into the snow and getting herself stuck.

And then there was the snow wasteland.

When Tommy first saw it, he almost had a panic attack. Riko, being used to it by now, quickly calmed him down and decided that they’d stay in the taiga for one more night.

( Ender, what would he do without that kid? )

Luckily the snow wasn’t too thick when they began travelling through the mountainous terrain, and he could still ride Cat. The first semblance of civilization that they found was a village, and Tommy was 95% sure that it was the same one that he’d passed through the first time.

He asked a traveller who was staying there for the night if he’d seen any buildings around, trying to figure out where on Earth Techno had put his house (if it was even still there). The traveller had given him basic directions towards a small hut nearby since apparently there were no other houses in the whole snow biome.

Tommy and Riko had headed off the next morning, trudging through the snow by foot with Mellohi and Cat by their heels. When they finally reached the small cottage, Tommy found himself slightly disappointed.

It looked to be abandoned.

The fences were empty of any sort of animals and what looked to be a turtle farm had no inhabitants. Tommy took a shaky breath before grabbing Riko’s hand and walking up the stairs to what seemed to be the front door.

Tommy was right in saying the cottage was abandoned. The chests were mostly empty and all that filled the area was a single crafting table. There was a ripped wanted poster with Techno’s face on it, confirming whose house it used to be (of course Techno would have his own wanted poster).

Riko shook his hand, making Tommy turn towards the small, green-haired boy.

“Not here?” Riko asked, English still choppy even after two years of learning.

Tommy sighed, shaking his head. “I don’t think they are, buddy. That’s okay, just means we have to do more travelling.”

Riko stared at him for a little bit longer, hand tightening around his. “Papa sad.”

The twenty-year-old chuckled emptily. “No, not sad. Just… I don’t know. I would have liked to see Techno, I guess.”

“Uncle Tech.”

“Yeah, Uncle Tech,” Tommy nodded. “Maybe he’ll teach you how to braid your hair, considering how shit— crappy I am at it.”

The blonde ruffled Riko’s shoulder-length hair, earning a half-hearted glare in response.

And so the pair (plus Mellohi and Cat) continued on to L’Manburg.

Knowing the coordinates, it was fairly easy to avoid Logstedshire and all the trauma that came with it. Even with Riko to help him out of his flashbacks and panic attacks, Tommy didn’t want to put either of them through more trouble than was necessary.

They travelled via foot, and then by boat (which was… way too difficult than it should have been), then by foot again, until they finally reached something man-made.

It looked like a giant pool, surrounded by bright red concrete and torches. Tommy had never seen it before but he thought it looked awfully similar to—

“WATCH OUT!” a loud voice exclaimed before there was a whistling noise and suddenly Tommy was covered in water.

He stumbled back, clutching Riko close to him as he tried to wipe the water from his eyes. Mellohi was already shaking off the water beside him, nudging against his knees.

“What the Nether?” he finally spoke up, trying to see who the Nether had just splashed water over all of them.

When he lifted his eyes, Tommy was met with a man slightly shorter than him, holding a glowing trident in his hand. The man shook himself off, laughing before he met eyes with Tommy. Suddenly his eyebrows furrowed, trident glowing before it was replaced by a netherite sword.

“Who the fuck are you? You aren’t allowed to pass through these lands, you shouldn’t be able to unless Dream whitelisted you,” the man rambled, sword still pointed towards Tommy.

The blonde simply stepped in front of Riko, holding the boy’s hand in his to reassure him that everything was fine.

He looked over the man trying to figure out who he was looking at. Sharp jaw, pale olive skin, floppy hair with a white bandana—

Sapnap ?” Tommy asked incredulously, eyes blowing wide as he realised who exactly he was talking to.

He didn’t know how he hadn’t seen it earlier, considering Sapnap hadn’t changed at all (maybe it was because he hadn’t seen him in four years). The man should be 23 by now, and it definitely showed through the strengthening of his jaw and stubble across his chin. 

Sapnap’s brows furrowed in confusion as his defensive position softened slightly. His eyes scanned up and down, looking behind him to Riko and Mellohi and Cat, before coming back to Tommy.

“Who… no, you can’t be…” Sapnap trailed off quietly, his sword now lowered.

Tommy allowed a small smirk to pull at his lips. “Come on now, Sappy Nappy, you can’t be that oblivious.”

And suddenly the man’s eyes widened, sword dropping to the ground as he stepped forward. 

“Oh my Ender… oh my what the fuck! ” he yelled, finally leaping forward to place his hands on Tommy’s cheeks.

He flipped Tommy’s head side to side, ran his hands over his arms, felt over his hair before he stepped back in scepticism. 

“If you’re Tommy, then… what was the name of your pet I killed?” Sapnap asked.

The blonde chuffed out a laugh. “Which one? Nah, I’m kidding. It was Henry, my cow.”

Sapnap froze, breath stuttering in his throat before he rushed forward, wrapping his arms around Tommy’s shoulders. Tommy chuckled lightly, but returned the hug gently even when it felt as though Sapnap was going to break his ribs with his tight grip.

“Ender, it really is you! Everyone’s gonna be so happy that you’re here.”

When the ravenette finally let go of him, he moved to look behind his tall frame. Tommy hesitated before stepping to the side, exposing Riko who smiled shyly.

“Who the fuck is this?” Sapnap asked, pointing a finger.

“Language, he’s a kid!” Tommy exclaimed.

“Oh wow, I never thought I’d hear TommyInnit call someone out for cussing.”

Tommy rolled his eyes. “Shut up, you D. I. C. K.”

Riko blinked obliviously. “Dick?”

“No!” Tommy exclaimed. “Don’t call people that, okay.”

The green-haired boy nodded with a grin. “Okay, papa.”

Fucking liar .

Sapnap’s head turned to him so quickly, Tommy’s neck hurt in sympathy. “ You’re his dad !?”

“Adopted,” Tommy shrugged.

The ravenette stared for a moment longer. “Wait— what the absolute fu-Nether is happening right now!?”

“Um… I’m entering the SMP?” Tommy replied. “I decided to come back.”

“Come… back… what !? You— you died , Tommy!”

That made Tommy sutter to a stop. Huh? Died?

“Died?”

“Yes, you died ! You frickin offed yourself and perma-died!”

This was so confusing.

“Um… no, I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes you did.”

“No I didn’t—”

“Okay, then what the hell happened? Where were you for the past four years ? Where did you go? Why are you here now?” Sapnap fired off, waving his hands around in a way that was fondly familiar.

He could explain everything now, but Tommy really didn’t want to explain everything more than once. 

“Look… where are the others, Sap? I’ll explain everything when everyone’s together,” Tommy answered, gripping Riko’s hand in his again.

Sapnap waited a second before nodding. “Okay, come on.”

━━━━━━━━

“I’m dreaming,” Tubbo deadpanned the moment he saw Tommy.

To be completely fair, Tommy was just as stunned himself. Tubbo looked… different.

He looked older, the baby fat having completely vanished from his cheeks. His cheekbones were high, hair shorter and less curly, eyes darker. He was taller too, eyes reaching about Tommy’s nose when they used to be somewhere around his chin. Scar tissue stretched spindly fingers up the side of Tubbo’s jaw, faded in the years Tommy had been absent.

“Hi?” the blonde said shyly.

And those damn cornflower blue eyes, frozen wide in shock. As if he’d just seen a ghost.

“I could pinch you if it would help, Big Man,” Tommy shrugged, trying to act nonchalant to hide the rapid beating of his heart.

Tubbo’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed thickly. “You can’t… it’s not… I’m just hallucinating…”

“He’s real, Tubbo,” Sapnap assured.

And the others were there too, expressions all somewhere between horrified, shocked, happy and disbelieving. Phil ( dad ) was there, standing by Technoblade with his pale wings slumped. Ghostbur was nowhere to be seen, which was a slight disappointment. Fundy, Quackity, George, Dream, Ranboo, Niki, Karl and even Eret were there as well.

Tubbo shook his head violently. “No, no, he can’t be. He can’t —”

But then his eyes caught on the flash of rusted steel, looking down at the circular device tied to Tommy’s wrist like a watch. Tubbo reached forward, snatching Tommy’s wrist to see the compass closer, eyes trailing disbelievingly over the words ‘Your Tubbo’ as Tommy’s throat constricted and—

“Tommy?” Tubbo whispered, eyes watering as he looked up from the compass and to the blonde man.

Tommy nodded slowly, not wanting to open his mouth and risk bursting into tears.

The brunette raised his hands slowly to Tommy’s cheeks, as if checking that he was really there, tracing over the new scars which littered his exposed arms and collar. He turned Tommy’s head side to side, freezing when his eyes caught on the out-of-place mark behind his ear.

Tommy was confused before realising what Tubbo must have seen. The small, bee tattoo had been done a while ago, at the same time he’d gotten the feather on his rib, the crown on the nape of his neck and the guitar on the inside of his wrist.

“Needed some sort of reminder, right?” he chuckled half-heartedly.

Tubbo looked at him for a moment longer with wide eyes before suddenly they narrowed.

“You absolute asshole !” he yelled abruptly, hitting Tommy in the chest so that he stumbled back. “Where the fuck have you been!?”

Tommy stuttered over his words, having not prepared for such an aggressive reaction. Which… he should have at least considered Tubbo being absolutely pissed at him for vanishing for four years. He would too if the roles had been reversed.

( “So yeah, if the roles were reversed, you probably wouldn’t have exiled me. Because I would have actually listened to you! ” )

“Tubbo—”

“No don’t Tubbo me. You left , you left and I thought you had died . What the fuck was I supposed to think when I pulled up at Logstedshire with everything blown up and a giant tower, huh? I thought you had killed yourself, I’ve thought that for the past four years and suddenly you just waltz in here with as little as a ‘hi’ ?”

He was right to be angry, Tommy knew that. Which was why he forced himself to not retaliate, not blame Tubbo, not go on a rant himself. Because he deserved this shit, and Tommy had already forgiven his friend for everything.

“I couldn’t handle it anymore, Tubbo. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he replied, grabbing Tubbo’s hands before he could punch him in the chest again.

“You left, Tommy. You left me all alone and I— I hated you!”

Tommy’s heart dropped as a familiar hollowness carved out its place in his chest cavity.

Tubbo choked on his words. “Ender, and it was all my fault . I thought I was the reason you died, I thought I killed you, Tommy!”

“Tubs, it wasn’t your fault—”

“I exiled you!”

“And I betrayed you,” Tommy interrupted. “You were trying to do your best, trying to be a president and a friend at the same time and I just made it harder for you. I was too stubborn and arrogant to admit that it was my fault I got exiled.”

The brunette shook his head, looking confused. “No, but… you were just angry for being put on trial for something so stupid .”

Tommy snorted. “Yeah, and Gogy’s house was pretty crap anyway.”

“Hey!” George exclaimed, suddenly aware that they were talking about him.

“Wait a second,” Quackity interrupted, raising his hands. “Is nobody confused as to why there’s a literal four year old in here?”

Tommy’s eyebrows raised as he realised that Riko was in fact standing right behind him, hands fisted in the fabric of his tank top.

“Six,” Riko said simply, voice small.

“What?” Quackity replied.

“He’s six,” Tommy explained, grabbing Riko’s hand in his. “This is um… Riko. My son.”

Everyone blanched as Tommy smiled awkwardly.

“Your… son,” Techno finally spoke up, his voice as monotone as ever. 

“Adopted,” the blonde informed. “I found him in a ravine when he was four and… well, he kind of just followed me home. So I adopted him.”

“You stole a child?” Phil exclaimed.

“No, I didn’t— he didn’t have a family or slime pack, so…” Tommy trailed off, pulling Riko closer to him. “He needed someone to take care of him.”

“He’s a slime hybrid?” Dream asked. “That’s awfully rare.”

Riko’s eyes suddenly lit up, focusing on the bright lime green of Dream’s jumper. He rushed forward, making grabby hands towards the masked man.

“Slime!” the green-haired boy exclaimed.

And white hot panic filled Tommy’s veins, bubbling behind his eyes at the thought of Dream ever getting close to Riko. Ever getting his hands on his son, ever doing to him what he did to Tommy.

“No!” Tommy yelled, pulling Riko back by the waist before he could reach Dream.

‘Bad man,’ Tommy informed Riko in the sign language they had developed early on when he couldn’t make any sort of noise with his mouth. ‘Don’t go near him, okay?’

Riko frowned, glancing at Dream who was frozen in surprise, before nodding. ‘Okay,’ he signed back.

Tommy sighed as he kneeled down, placing his hands on his son’s shoulders. “How about you go play with Mellohi outside, yeah? You can explore but don’t go too far and don’t talk to strangers.”

The slime hybrid shuffled on his feet, considering the suggestion, before smiling. “Alright, papa. Come Melly!”

Riko ran out of the room with Mellohi by his side, and Tommy could finally relax now that he was away from Dream. Out of that green bastard’s reach.

“Sorry about that,” he sighed as he turned back to the group. “He is quite obsessed with bright green and… foxes.” The last part was said with an obvious glance at Fundy.

“What did you tell him in that… hand language of yours?” Dream asked, expression covered by the stupid smiley face mask.

Tommy blinked. “I told him that you were a bad man and that he must stay away from you,” he replied, not bothering to lie.

He was done with cowering down in front of Dream and he definitely wasn’t going to sugarcoat anything when it was quite obvious that Dream’s actions had a significant impact on Tommy’s mental state.

And funnily enough, Dream flinched back at Tommy’s words, chin lowering in a way that was almost… ashamed?

“Oh, what’s this?” Tommy tilted his head. “Don’t tell me the big bad Dream regrets what he did.”

“Tommy—”

“No, no, no, I want to hear this,” he waved a hand. “Are you going to apologise? Am I supposed to just forgive you for all the manipulative mind-shit you tried to do to me? For making me almost kill myself? Twice ?”

“Tommy, it wasn’t Dream’s fault,” Tubbo stepped between the pair, nudging Tommy back a step.

The position was almost painfully nostalgic. Tubbo, standing between Dream and Tommy, eyes blank. The blonde shuddered.

“Oh…” Tommy breathed out, hands shaking. “Wow, I— I can’t fucking believe this.”

He’d forgiven Tubbo, he’d forgiven Techno and Wilbur and Eret and everyone . The only person whose actions were too much for Tommy to forgive was Dream and now Tubbo was defending him?

( Maybe I shouldn’t have come back. )

“After everything he did you’re going to tell me that it wasn’t his fault? That everything is forgiven and oh, Tommy? I don’t remember what happened to him . I’d forgiven you, I’d come to accept what Dream had done for Ender’s sake and— and you’re going to pretend it never happened? Because I fucking remember it, Tubbo! I remember it every night when I wake up screaming and my six year old son has to calm me down from panic attacks. He has to pull me out of flashbacks of him ,” he shoved a finger towards Dream, “beating me black and blue just because I was too late to take off my fucking armour! I can’t forget it because I still have this carved into my skin!”

Tommy pulled up the hem of his tank top, revealing a palm-sized carving of a smiley face to the left of his belly button. The wound had long healed, but white, raised scar tissue was left in its wake. The drawing was stark against his tan skin, and Tubbo flinched at the sight of it.

“Yeah, not so pretty, is it?” Tommy scoffed at everyone’s gasps, releasing his shirt finally. “I should have never come back. I can’t believe I really thought you’d miss me .”

“We did miss you, Toms,” Phil insisted, stepping forward. “Just let us explain, please.”

The coldness grew in Tommy’s stomach, filling him with dread. Even Phil was on Dream’s side? He was going to be fucking sick.

“Oh, you missed me,” the blonde whispered, voice quiet and empty. His eyes focused on Phil (his Enderdammed father ), passion dripping from his eyes like sweet honey. “That’s solid coming from the man who didn’t answer any of my letters for months , even when Wilbur was going insane. And then you only ever returned to kill my older brother and side with my other brother who killed my best friend and set off two Withers.”

Phil stumbled back as if he’d been physically wounded, eyes wide and pained.

He’d said he’d forgiven everyone, and it was technically true. But sometimes it was hard to ignore all the pain that others put him through. Some small part of him wanted them to feel guilty and finally apologise after four years of nothing.

“Tommy, you can’t blame Philza for—”

“Shut the fuck up, Techno!” Tommy shouted, blood boiling hotter than it had in a long time. “Of course you’d defend Phil, because you’re his favourite. It was always Technoblade this , Technoblade that . I mean, fuck, my own father missed about five of my birthdays just because he was off adventuring with his favourite son. I bet he was real proud of you, Techno. Proud of you for encouraging Wil’s sadistic behaviour and letting him drive himself into an early grave. All praise the Blood God, amiright?”

“You don’t know the whole picture, Toms,” Techno shook his head lightly.

Tommy narrowed his eyes into a glare. “I know that everything Wilbur did was to impress his old man. It was always ‘do you think dad would be proud of me?’ or ‘do you think that this time Phil will choose me over Techno?’ . It drove me crazy—”

“Dream was possessed, Tommy!” Tubbo finally confessed, and Tommy felt himself freeze.

His breath stopped in his throat as he turned from his father to his friend, eyes flickering dangerously. Possessed? Like… demon shit?

Possession wasn’t completely unheard of, considering the multiple mages in the Overworld and the infamous Necromancer (who was more of a folktale than anything, but the point still stood). Some mages were able to see through the eyes of animals, while the more corrupt ones experimented on humans.

“What?” asked the blonde man. 

Tubbo and Phil shared a glance before the former sighed.

“A corrupt spirit um… possessed Dream,” Tubbo began to explain. “We refer to the spirit as ‘Nightmare’ since it was like Dream’s alternate self and nobody realised how bipolar he could act sometimes until Sapnap pointed it out one day. When we visited the mages for erm… this other… issue — the mages informed us of Nightmare’s existence. It was difficult, to say the least, to get Nightmare out of Dream. But we did it eventually, and Wil—Ghostbur helped a lot with that, considering he had access to the spirit world.”

Tommy blinked, silent as he tried to process the new information.

Possession… from a corrupt spirit… called Nightmare.

The Dream he knew was smart, and would in no way make up something as stupid and difficult to believe as this. Right? 

Tommy had seen mages identify and kill spirits who were possessing people before. A possessed had shown up in his village one day, going on a killing spree before possessing the next villager. It had been a dark time of sleepless nights and being way too cautious.

But the mages had finally identified the possessed person, freeing them by accessing the spirit world and using an anchor in the physical world to bring them back. He remembered one thing about people who’d been possessed, and that was that the spirit always left a mark behind.

“If you’re telling me the truth,” Tommy spoke up slowly, still processing everything, “then show me the mark.”

Tubbo made a noise of confusion, about to ask what the hell he was talking about, when Dream sighed. The masked man stepped forward, nudging Tubbo to the side so that he could stand in front of Tommy.

The twenty-year-old could feel his heart rattle in his ribcage, eyes wearily watching Dream’s every movement in case he chose to suddenly strike.

Dream’s hands raised slowly, one going behind his head to untie the ribbon around his head and the other lowering his mask. Tommy’s eyes widened, unprepared for Dream to suddenly just expose himself .

The scribbled smile lowered to expose sunkissed skin, marred by freckles and pale scar tissue. He was all strong jaw and sharp lines with carefully shaped brows and light stubble across his chin. Tommy would admit, the guy was pretty good looking, with the whole badass thing going on.

But the most startling thing, the thing that caught Tommy’s eyes the most, was the large black lines which stretched across the left side of the man’s face, originating from beneath the collar of his shirt. The lines forked off like multiple strikes of lightning across his skin, fading across the bridge of his nose and above his brow-bone. They ran into Dream’s left eye which glowed a deep, almost black, red, contrasting with his other bright green one.

It looked exactly like the possession mark left on the villager who Tommy had encountered.

“You… really were possessed,” Tommy whispered, eyes still frozen on the lightning-shaped scars. 

Dream nodded once, eyes sad and guilty .

And— fuck . It really hadn’t been Dream. It had been some stupid fucking spirit . Nightmare.

“How long had Nightmare been the one in charge?” Tommy asked. “How long did nobody notice?”

“It wasn’t anybody’s fault, Toms. Nightmare had been around since… since the first war over L’Manburg, I think. He only influenced me slightly, appearing for the war and then vanishing again when it was just Sapnap, George and I. He didn’t want to be caught, I guess,” Dream explained, voice uncharacteristically quiet.

“But- but you just let me shout at you. Just then, you didn’t even stop me of accusing you for… all the shit Nightmare did,” said Tommy, suddenly feeling like an idiot.

Dream sighed, heterochromatic eyes lowering. “Tommy, I’ve never forgiven myself for all the shit I did while under his control. I still… I still remember it. All of it. I remember giving you that fucking scar for Ender’s sake,” Dream scoffed, sounding disgusted in himself. “I don’t deserve your forgiveness, Tommy, and I don’t expect it either—”

“Bullshit!” Tommy cried, grabbing onto Dream’s shoulders so that they could meet eyes. “Dream, I know what a possession mark looks like. I’ve seen one before. I know that it wasn’t you. You shouldn’t expect forgiveness because there’s nothing for me to forgive you for. That wasn’t you , it was Nightmare.”

The green-clad man suddenly let out a chuff of laughter, startling Tommy. “Ender, those four years made you so mature, it’s like you’re a different person.”

Tommy smiled, happy for the mood to have been lightened again. “I’ve seen some tings, Big D. Bad tings.”

Dream rolled his eyes. “Still haven’t dropped the nicknames, though.”

“Changed in all ways except one.”

“You named your fox Mellohi,” Dream deadpanned.

Tommy laughed loudly and the room sang in joy after not having heard it for so long. 

“I was homesick, Big Man. I named my horse Cat, as well.”

“Oh my Ender.”

A sweet silence fell over the group, soft smiles on everyone's faces at the familiarity of the situation. Tommy was definitely going to apologise to everyone for being an asshole literally two seconds before, but he was happy to finally feel at ease.

Feel home.

“Fuck, I missed you, man,” Tommy admitted to Dream. “Not Nightmare. Fuck that guy, I don’t wanna ever see him again. But you … I missed you.”

Dream smiled, face still unmasked. “I missed you too, Toms. I missed talking to you instead of just hearing him speak with my voice.”

“Wait… who’s your anchor? You would have needed an anchor to the physical world, right?” Tommy asked.

“It’s a bit confusing but I’m pretty sure my anchor is split between Sapnap and George,” Dream shrugged, scratching the back of his neck. “I honestly don’t know.”

There was a small cough from somewhere in the room, and the pair turned to see Tubbo smiling sheepishly.

“Can I please get a hug now? I haven’t hugged you in like… five years, if you add the exile time to your disappearance,” the brunette mumbled, scratching the back of his neck.

Tommy smiled, happy to oblige. He rushed forward, Tubbo doing the same as they crashed together in a familiar tangle of arms. Tommy was still taller than his friend, Tubbo’s arms wrapping right around his stomach. Brown hair tickled his jaw, a cheek pressed into his neck. And it felt safe and warm (like honey in his chest cavity), like home .

“Group hug!” Dream suddenly exclaimed.

Tommy barely had time to prepare for the sudden bombardment of arms and bodies, Dream wrapping the two youngest in an embrace while the others joined. Even Techno got pulled in by Phil, all the while grumbling about it ruining his reputation.

He was happy, finally. This was what he’d been missing for four (or maybe even more) years. Riko was his entire world, but he was only one boy. Sometimes Tommy needed just let go and he was never comfortable with doing that in front of Riko (not when he already had so much to deal with).

“Woah, who threw a party without me?”

Tommy spun his head so fast that he felt something pull in his neck, eyes already focusing in on the new person who’d just walked into the room.

And his blood ran cold, everything fading from his peripheral vision. 

Because the person standing in the door was his brother. Wilbur.

Tommy’s eyes trailed over his tanned skin, the lack of shimmering particles around him, the obvious fact that his feet were touching the forward .

Wilbur was alive.

( “Let’s be the bad guys.” )

“Oh, hey Tommy,” the brunette grinned. “Took you long enough.”

Tommy blanched, stepping towards his older brother. “Wh- what— you… you’re… what?”

“Oh yeah, I’m alive now!” Wilbur cheered with a wave of his hands. “Yay for me! I see you finally decided to show up again. Only took you four years.”

“Wait,” Tubbo suddenly interrupted. “You knew he was alive?”

Wilbur blinked. “I would have noticed if my little brother suddenly showed up in the spirit world. So yeah, I knew he hadn’t died.”

“And you didn’t tell us?” Phil asked, sounding hurt.

“I thought it was Tommy’s decision on what happened. If he ran away then… that was his choice. He deserved to make his own decisions for once,” said Wilbur nonchalantly.

It didn’t make sense.

Wilbur hadn’t sounded mature and caring in what felt like forever. Not since the first L’Manburg war. And now he was talking about Tommy deserving freedom and…

Wilbur was alive .

“What the fuck!?” Tommy exclaimed. “What— how !?”

“He was the reason we went to the mages in the first place,” Phil explained. “We asked for a way to bring him back and… it cost us a lot, but they agreed.”

“Cost you a lot…” Tommy trailed off. “What does that mean?”

Techno, Phil and Wilbur shared a look.

“I sacrificed one of my lives to bring him back,” said Techno.

Wilbur grinned. “Luckily for him, Technoblade never dies.”

Tommy watched him wearily. “And you’re not… insane anymore?”

“To be honest, I still don’t remember everything from before I died. I’m not as oblivious as Ghostbur was, but I don’t have all the memories like Alivebur. I’m somewhere in between, I think,” Wil explained with a shrug.

The brunette stumbled back as Tommy rushed forward, embracing his older brother in a tight hug. He hadn’t been able to physically touch Wilbur in about five years and Ender did he miss him.

“Please don’t go insane and die again,” he murmured into his brother’s yellow sweater, hands fisted in the thick fabric. “Promise.”

Wilbur sighed, gently returning the embrace. “I promise, little brother.”

“And if you pull that manipulative bullshit on me again I’ll personally make your life a living hell,” Tommy threatened, voice deceivingly innocent.

“O-okay.”

The two brothers released each other, stepping back with hesitant smiles.

Ender, this had turned out to be a great idea. Tommy didn’t know what he would have done with himself if he’d never come back; forever blaming everyone, not knowing the truth about Dream and never seeing Wilbur alive again.

Wilbur suddenly grabbed his wrist, gently turning it and lifting it closer to his face. The brunette’s brows furrowed as he ran a calloused thumb over the exposed skin.

“You got a tattoo?” he asked, and Tommy blinked owlishly.

“Oh, um… yeah,” said the blonde, sheepishly scratching the back of his neck. “It… it’s supposed to symbolise you. Y-y’know, like— cause you used to always play songs on the guitar for me.”

The elder brother looked up quickly, eyes wide and almost sad . Tommy opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.

Did Wilbur think it was weird? He’d probably make fun of him and call him ClingyInnit like always…

“Ender, I missed you,” Wilbur breathed out instead, wrapping Tommy in his arms again. 

Tommy laughed lightly when they stepped back. “I have one for Tubbo, Phil and Techno, too. Look.”

Tubbo had already seen the bee, so he lifted his hair at the nape of his neck, exposing the small crown which had been drawn into the skin there. A rough finger traced it, recognisably Techno’s hesitant touch. He lifted the side of his tank top as well, showing off the delicate feather which hugged his ribcage.

“Ender, kiddo,” Phil sighed, hugging the taller blonde. “I’m so glad you’re alive. I have so many regrets that I never made up for. You… I love you, son.”

The words made Tommy choke up, made him feel all weird and strange. He’d heard the words before, but… they were lies before. They filled him with sweet honey and sparked a fire in the pit of his belly but they were never right

Now it felt true.

Tommy didn’t know what to do with it.

“I… I love you too, dad. And I’m sorry for those things I said, it— it was stupid. I didn’t see it from your side.”

“Toms, I have never been the best father. To any of you, really,” Phil sighed, grabbing Tommy’s shoulders. “I’ve made it up to Wil and Tech these past years, but… I didn’t have the chance to make up for it with you. Maybe we could try to fix that now? If you’d want to… y’know, stay .”

They want you to stay, they want you here, your dad wants you .

“O-of course I’ll stay, Big Man,” Tommy chuckled, trying to hide the tears clogging his throat and darkening his eyelashes. “I didn’t travel for two weeks just to go back.”

“Oh, thank Ender,” Technoblade groaned. “I don’t think these dumbasses would be able to handle you leaving again.”

The room filled with laughter, Tommy’s chest lifting as he realised he was finally home and—

“Dad, dad, dad, papa !”

Tommy turned his head quickly to see Riko running through the doorway, green hair falling into his grey eyes. He rushed over, checking his son over for any injuries or reasoning for his frantic yells.

“What’s wrong?” he asked immediately, and Riko blew a curl of hair out of his face.

“I find. Guess,” the boy answered with a cheeky grin.

“Guess what you found?” Tommy prompted, and the boy nodded. “Hm… was it a fox maybe?”

Riko shook his head enthusiastically and Tommy hummed.

“Maybe… something green? I don’t know, those are the two things you usually go crazy over,” he laughed.

The green haired boy began jumping up and down, which was odd since he usually wasn’t so energetic around strangers. 

“Blue sheepy!” he exclaimed.

Tommy widened his eyes comically, gasping. “No way! A blue sheep? You’ll have to show me, I don’t believe you.”

Riko grabbed his father’s hand, prepared to rush out of the room when Wilbur suddenly stopped them.

“Wait, who is this?” he asked.

Tommy looked between his son and his brother before realising Wilbur wasn’t there when Riko was initially introduced.

“This is Riko, my son. He’s a slime hybrid,” he explained simply.

Wilbur blinked. “I’m an uncle ?”

“Uncle Wilby!” Riko suddenly cheered, glancing at Tommy as if to ask if his assumption was correct.

“Yeah, Uncle Wilby,” Tommy chuckled.

He had told Riko that he’d never get to meet his Uncle Wilbur, but oh well. Riko was going to have to just learn, apparently.

“Oh my Ender, this means I’m a grandfather,” Phil suddenly said, running a hand down his face. “I’m too young for this.”

“No, you ain’t,” Tommy snorted. “You’re old .”

“Uncle Tech?” Riko asked, pointing at Technoblade who froze on the spot.

Tommy tried not to burst out into laughter at Techno’s emotionally constipated look, and instead ushered Riko forward. “Yep, that’s Uncle Tech.”

Riko grabbed Techno’s hand, pulling him down into a crouch which the pink haired man looked incredibly uncomfortable with. Or maybe it was the small hand touching his ears and pink hair.

“Hybrid,” Riko commented contently, apparently pleased by the presence of someone like him.

Techno sent a panicked look at Phil and Phil just smothered a laugh with his hand.

“Uh… erm… yeah, I’m a hybrid. Like you,” Techno said. “There’s a lot of us here actually.”

Riko beamed at that answer before rushing back to Tommy and grabbing his hand. The blonde squeezed his hand, offering a proud smile.

“Okay, sheep now,” Riko announced, already dragging his father out the door.

Tommy had to grab the doorway to stop the small boy, looking back one last time at everyone in the room. He still hadn’t talked to even half the residents of the SMP, and he had so much he still wanted to say. So much to apologise for.

“I’ll, um… I’ll talk again soon, yeah?” Tommy asked, almost worried they’d tell him to fuck off again.

But instead, they all just smiled.

“Definitely,” Dream nodded.

“And don’t run off again,” Techno deadpanned.

Tommy smiled sheepishly, ready to leave when another voice spoke up.

“Tommy?” Tubbo called out, and the blonde looked back to meet eyes. “We missed you. And I’m glad you chose to came back.”

Tommy froze for a moment, not expecting the sincere words. His ears went red in embarrassment as he tried to stutter out a response.

“Yeah— um, yeah… I… thanks.”

He left with a smile, honey filling his mouth as a warmth he hadn’t felt in a long time began bleeding through his ribs.

He was home .