Technoblade is five years old when he finally masters writing his name. He knows all the letters and the strokes he needs to make with his pen, and his handwriting is a little shaky still, but he’s proud of himself for knowing. Being able to write his own name feels independent.
He doesn’t know how to spell Wilbur. There are letters in Wilbur that aren’t in Technoblade, and Wilbur’s name looks clunky and strange in his lettering.
Technoblade feels clunky and strange in this new house.
Back at the orphanage, there had always been background noise. Other children, running and playing in the rooms of the house, and the staff, cleaning and cooking and trying to reign in the absolute chaos of thirty kids all playing tag together. It had been easy for Techno to melt into his own little forgotten space there, only speaking when spoken to, and mostly keeping to his adventure books.
Now, this new house is quiet. The only background noises come from outside. At the orphanage, Techno could never hear the birds. Now, they keep him up at night.
The birds, and Wilbur’s soft breathing.
Wilbur is his brother now. Technoblade isn’t used to having a brother, and he’s not sure about the rules. When Philza had brought him home, Wilbur had been waiting for them on the front steps, playing with the barn cat. Techno hadn’t been aware that he was getting a brother and a father on the same day.
He likes Wilbur well enough. He looks sort of like Philza, except his hair is brown and wildly curly. It’s wildly obvious that Technoblade doesn’t exactly belong in this family.
He looks down at the drawing on the table in front of him. He picks up the brown crayon and swirls it wildly around Wilbur’s head, marking down the curls. He’s already drawn Philza - he’s taller than Wilbur, and blonde, and wearing his green and white striped hat that hangs on the hook next to the front door. The barn cat is also in the picture, fat and striped orange.
Technoblade adds Wilbur’s glasses and then hesitates, his hand hovering over the pile of broken crayons scattered around the table.
At the orphanage, there was a mirror in the bathroom. There had been one day where Techno had perched on the edge of the sink, mapping out the features of his face. He’d pulled at his cheeks and teaked at the little teeth that stuck out from underneath his bottom lip and tried to make his nose look less flat on the end.
Technoblade doesn’t look like Wilbur and Philza.
He picks up a peachy colored crayon and starts drawing. He leaves out his underbite and the little fangs and his makes his eyes less sunken in and his nose a little more curved and button-like at the end. He makes himself look like Wilbur, except with a curly pink bob instead of a brown mess on top of his head.
Technoblade is busy drawing a crown on top of his head when he hears someone stop in the doorway. He puts down the yellow crayon and looks up. Wilbur is peering at him from around the edge of the doorframe.
“Dad says dinner is ready and that you need to wash your hands and come downstairs.” Wilbur says this all very fast and in one sentence and then he disappears back down the stairs and towards the dinner table.
Technoblade signs his name at the bottom of the drawing and then follows him. Dinner that night is roasted chicken, and Wilbur complains about wanting pork chops.
Philza isn’t usually in the house.
He leaves early in the mornings, grabbing his hat from the hook by the door and his boots from the front steps and slipping on his long black coat with the deep pockets. He rubs the barn cat’s head a few times and then he heads out to the farm, making sure everything is in order before he leaves the property, going off to do whatever fathers do during the day.
Technoblade is left alone with Wilbur for hours at a time. He doesn’t mind for the most part. He’s used to spending his days alone. It gives him plenty of time to read his adventure books and disappear for a while.
Right now, he’s on a pirate ship, held captive by a rowdy crew of seafarers. He’s a prince from a rich kingdom, and the pirates are wagering his life for free passage through their waters, and a hefty sum of gold and diamonds, as pirates are wont to do. The prince knows that as the second son, no one is going to come after him. It’s up to him to get out of this mess himself. When they’re not looking, he breaks the cuff of his chains (it’s easy as they’re rusted from the sea) and takes one of his captive’s swords, battling them off as his cape flows in the wind. When all seems lost, he dives into the ocean and cuts through the water, heading for the shore-
Something thwacks him on the leg hard and it stings. Technoblade shouts, flinching and dropping his book, losing the page. The spine hits the floor and Technoblade just watches it for a moment, processing what just happened.
Wilbur, who must have entered the room when Technoblade was reading, is holding a wooden sword, and looks mildly annoyed. Techno looks down at his leg to see it already purpling.
“What?” Techno says, voice monotone as ever.
“I said your name like four times and you didn’t even look up.” Wilbur gripes. He nudges the book on the floor with the tip of his mock sword. “What’s so good about that book anyway? I looked at it and it doesn’t even have any pictures.”
Technoblade snatches the book up off the floor and digs through it for his page again. “I like it.” He grumbles. He flips down the corner of the page, marking it.
“You’ve read it like four times though.” Wilbur says, tracing the edge of his sword over the ground. “Come outside with me instead.”
Technoblade continues scanning down the page, trying to get back to the pirate ship through the words. “No thanks.”
Wilbur huffs, annoyed, and pokes at Techno’s foot with his sword. “Come on. I’m bored.”
“Then go do something else.” Techno says.
Wilbur frowns and pokes Techno harder. “You’re supposed to play with me. That’s what brothers are for.”
“I don’t want to.” Techno says. It’s fruitless to try and get back into his book with Wilbur incessantly poking at his foot and he snaps it shut.
“Come outside.” Wilbur whines. The poking is starting to hurt Techno’s foot now, but he doesn’t move it. He doesn’t want to show any sign of giving in to Wilbur at all-
Wilbur thwacks him in the shin again, in the same spot that was already beginning to bruise and Technoblade growls, ripping the fake sword out of Wilbur’s hands and swinging it at his legs, hard.
Wilbur yelps and stumbles backward, hands flying down to his leg. “Why’d you do that, that hurt!” Wilbur shouts.
“You did it to me first!” Techno shoots back.
Wilbur jumps at him and knocks him off the couch he was sitting on, the sword flying out of the way and clattering to the floor. They’re beating at each other with their fists now, pulling at hair and sinking their teeth into each other’s skin. Techno had seen other kids at the orphanage get into fights like this, but he had never been in one himself, and he’s surprised to find that there’s a certain satisfaction when he lands a hit and Wilbur shouts, and the blood rushing in his veins feels more powerful now, and each bit of pain Wilbur causes him only fuels him more-
“I told Dad he should have picked a normal one.” Wilbur spits. “I told him he shouldn’t have picked the freak - you’re the worst brother ever!”
Something inside Technoblade snaps and he’s sinking his fangs into Wilbur’s shoulder, and Wilbur is screaming. He’ll show him how much of a freak he is-
Strong hands are pulling him and Wilbur apart. Philza sits Technoblade down on the couch, and sets Wilbur in the armchair on the other side of the room before he leaves to get bandages. It’s now that Technoblade sees all the scratches and bite marks on Wilbur, as well as a few blossoming bruises. He looks down at his own body to see it in a similar state, full of puffy scratch marks and little beads of blood.
When Philza comes back, he hands Techno a cool towel.
Technoblade runs it over his injuries as he feels his blood return to normal. His heightened senses have faded, and all of a sudden he’s tired. The dampness of the towel feels good and soothes some of the cuts.
Philza kneels in front of Wilbur and talks to him in a low tone while he patches up some of the bigger bite marks and scratches, and Technoblade can’t really hear what they’re talking about. It catches up to him that he might be in trouble. He might have to go back to the orphanage.
A stone sinks in his stomach and he curls into himself, backing into the couch as Philza comes over, crouching in front of him.
Techno can’t look Philza in the eye when he takes the damp rag from his fingers and starts running it over the scratches again.
“What happened?” Philza asks.
“I was reading and Wilbur hit me and I told him to stop and he didn’t and I got mad.” Techno says, very softly and very fast. He finally looks at Philza, expecting to see the same stern expression from the staff at the orphanage, but instead Philza’s gaze is soft, and his rough hands are gentle as he presses healing lotions on Techno’s injuries.
Philza nods. “You have to be careful with those teeth, alright? The bite on Wil’s shoulder is pretty bad.”
Technoblade nods because he doesn't know what else to do.
Philza pats him on the head and says they’ll talk about this later before he leaves the room. Wilbur is gone as well - he must have slunk away while Techno was talking to Phil.
Techno is alone in the room once again, and he hurts.
Wilbur doesn’t talk to him after that. Philza does make them apologize to each other over dinner (Wilbur for starting a fight and Techno for biting him) and after that, things go back to normal for the most part. Philza goes about his business every day, leaving Techno and Wilbur in the house. Techno reads and draws and wanders around the yard but it doesn’t feel the same because Wilbur has not uttered a word to him for a week.
Technoblade has finished his book four times over. After the prince escapes from the pirates and gets back to the kingdom, he finds that his father had declared him dead and moved on. He can’t get back into the palace anymore, and no one believes him when he says he is the prince. It isn’t until he finds his brother that he gets any help. As the crown heir, his older brother proclaims that the prince is alive, and he’s welcomed back into his home.
Technoblade knows he should go and make up with Wilbur. It’s obvious Philza wants them to, as every night at dinner he tries to rope them into a conversation with each other, each of them only participating halfheartedly.
Techno doesn’t want to go make up with Wilbur. He’s still mad - Wilbur should be the one coming to him and apologizing for bothering him and hitting him and calling him a freak, but by now it’s evident that Wilbur will do no such thing. At first, Technoblade was prepared to wait for as long as it took for Wilbur to come around. He knows he did nothing wrong, and he was used to spending his time alone anyway.
Now he’s just lonely.
Techno thumbs through the pages of his book once more before he sets it aside and gets up from his bed, slinging a blanket around his shoulders as he sets off padding through the house to find Wilbur.
It’s the early morning and there’s still a slight chill in the air. The house is quiet as Techno pads along, the blanket around his shoulders dragging behind him. He knows Wilbur is awake - his bed was empty when Technoblade woke up. It’s just a matter of finding him.
He walks past the door and has to backtrack when he spots Wilbur out of the corner of his eye. He’s sitting in Philza’s workroom, playing with the wood scraps Philza keeps in one of the old boxes. He’s building a tower out of all the mismatched pieces, but it keeps falling down.
Technoblade stands in the door until Wilbur notices him.
Wilbur just looks at him for a moment before he goes back to playing with the wood scraps, not saying anything. Techno invites himself into the room, and sits down, watching Wilbur build. There’s still a bandage on his shoulder, and Techno can see the bulge of the gauze underneath his plaid pajamas.
The words dance on the tip of his tongue before he spits them out. “I’m sorry.”
Wilbur doesn’t look at him, but his hands stop moving.
“For biting you.” Techno continues. He pauses. “I want you to talk to me again.”
Wilbur looks at Technoblade now, something apologetic and sheepish in his eyes when he speaks. “I’m sorry for calling you a freak.” He says. “That was mean.”
They just look at each other for a moment before Wilbur speaks again.
“Friends?” He asks.
“Friends.” Techno repeats.
Working together and with the help of Philza’s step ladder, they piece together all the wood scraps into a tower that reaches the ceiling. It’s precarious, but it holds.
Wooden swords clack together and scrape apart again. Technoblade is eleven now, and his hair is longer, in a ponytail that swings through the air when he spins away from Wilbur. Wilbur draws his sword back to himself, on the defense again.
Sparring with Wilbur is one of Technoblade’s favorite pastimes.
Techno rushes him again and their swords meet with a smack, the force rippling through Techno’s arm. Wilbur grits his teeth and pushes forward, but Technoblade lowers his arm and lets Wilbur’s sword slide free, sending him tumbling to the ground. For a moment, Technoblade thinks he’s won, but then Wilbur’s sword is sweeping Technoblade’s legs out from under him and he’s on the ground as well. The fight is not over yet.
Technoblade spins up so that he’s on his knees and has better leverage. He beats Wilbur away with his sword, forcing him back on the defense so that Technoblade can regain his bearings and organize an attack.
He brings his sword down again, slotting it together with Wilbur’s and holding it in place. With his free hand, he reaches down to Wilbur’s side and drags his fingers between his ribs.
Wilbur giggles, and drops his sword, his hands pushing Technoblade away.
Techno’s sword hits the grass as well as he doubles the tickle attack on Wilbur, a grin creeping over his face. Wilbur’s crying laugh is infectious, and Techno finds himself chuckling as well as Wilbur squirms and gasps.
He only stops when Wilbur tugs on his ponytail, and pushes him into the grass.
They lay there for a moment, catching their breath between laughs.
Wilbur rolls over to look Techno in the eye. “Do you think if we ask, Dad’ll let us get real swords?”
“Maybe for Christmas or our birthdays.” Techno says.
Wilbur flips back so that he’s looking up at the sky again. The clouds are painted gold, and you can barely see the stars peeking out as the sky fades from orange to purple. “It would be so cool to have a real sword. It would make those clangy noises when we spar.”
Techno smiles. “It would be like a real sword, yes.”
It’s moments like these that imprint on Technoblade’s mind. He knows that he will remember this forever - the smell of the grass, the sound of the birds settling for the night, the golden tinted sky and the clouds rolling in the breeze. His brother within arms reach, sweaty and happy and laughing.
Techno closes his eyes for a moment, just to feel.
Wilbur rolls over and picks himself up from the grass, wiping the sweat off his forehead. “Do you think dinner’s ready?”
Techno stands up as well, brushing the grass out of his shirt. “Probably.”
“Great.” Wilbur pulls his shirt off and wipes his face again. He starts towards the house, draping the garment over his shoulder. “Coming?”
Techno stares at the scar on Wilbur’s shoulder. A puncture wound, in the shape of two small fangs and a row of teeth.
He stops smiling, so that his lip covers his fangs and heads inside.
Technoblade is fifteen when Philza brings home a little boy. The kid is seven, only a little older than Techno when he was adopted, and he clings to Philza’s pants when he sees Techno and Wilbur sitting on the front steps, waiting for him.
Philza kneels down next to the little boy and smiles at his other sons, one arm stretched out towards them. “Tommy, this is Wilbur,” He points to Wilbur. “And Technoblade.” Philza points to him now. “They’re your new brothers.”
The kid - Tommy - hasn’t taken his eyes off Technoblade since he got here. Techno can see his eyes mapping out his strange features, taking in the snout like nose, the underbite, the fangs, the long pink braids draped over his shoulder.
A stone sinks in Techno’s stomach, but he doesn’t let it show. He’s used to this. People have always reacted like this when they’ve met him for the first time, and back at the orphanage all those years ago, there were names tossed around. He knows what it’s like to be the odd one out, and he doesn’t blame Tommy for staring.
He knows it takes some getting used to.
Wilbur must notice something, because he leans into Techno’s shoulder, slinging an arm around him. “Hi Tommy.”
Tommy lets go of Philza’s pant leg and walks over to them, climbing the front steps until he’s standing right in front of them, looking down. He’s only seven years old, but there’s such a fire in his eyes already, Techno can see it.
He can feel it when Tommy reaches out and tugs on his braid, saying, “It’s real?”
Wilbur laughs and Techno smiles, unwinding his tiny finger from his hair. “Yes it’s real.”
Tommy frowns, confused, and reaches out to touch Techno’s nose as well. Techno lets his new brother run his hands over his face, squishing his nose and pulling at his lip to see his fangs, testing their reality. When Tommy’s satisfied, he sits on the steps, right on Techno’s feet and points to Wilbur.
“If you’re brothers, why doesn’t he look like that?” Tommy asks.
Wilbur ruffles Tommy’s hair with a grin. “I’m adopted.”
Even though it is very obviously the other way around, Tommy accepts this as truth and moves from his seat on Techno’s feet to squish in between them, already pestering them about which one of them is stronger, and who has the most toys, and where he’s going to sleep.
Techno isn’t worried about Tommy fitting in with the family.
Philza steps around them, heading into the house to whip up something to eat, but he stops for a second, reaching down to pat Techno on the head with a fond smile. It’s a silent thank you for letting Tommy have his way, and Techno smiles back.
It’s the least he could do. He knows what it’s like to be dropped into a new family.
Techno is 19, Wilbur is 21 and Tommy is 11 when Fundy joins the family as well.
It’s strange to think that Wilbur has a son now. That Philza is a grandfather. That Tommy is an uncle. That Technoblade is an uncle too.
The house hasn’t changed much since Technoblade moved out. The barn cat still purrs when he scratches behind its ears, and Philza’s boots are still on the front step like they were every morning. It’s Technoblade that now has to stoop when he walks through the front door. Dragging behind him is no longer a patched blanket, but a long cape, and the sword on his belt is real and not wooden. His braid is long and swings against his back when he closes the door behind him.
The house still smells the same as it did. Woody and warm.
Techno leaves his sword by the front door and follows the soft chatter he can hear into the living room. From his place at the door frame, he can see his family gathered.
Philza is sitting in his armchair, smiling as he watches Wilbur rock the baby on the couch. He smiles at Techno when he notices him hovering by the door and beckons him inside, standing up to guide him into the room.
Tommy is sitting on the couch next to Wilbur, enraptured with the baby. His hands flex by his sides, like he wants to reach out and touch the child, but doesn’t want to overstep. He glances up at Techno when Philza gets out of his seat and leaps up as well, hurrying over to Techno to give him a hug.
“Did you bring your sword?” Tommy asks, eyes alight.
Techno grins. “It’s in the foyer.”
Wilbur looks up as well, his smile widening when he sees his brother. He beckons Techno closer with a nod of the head, and Techno extracts himself from Tommy’s grip and gingerly sits down next to Wilbur, peering down at the little child wrapped up in his arms.
Techno’s eyes widen as they catch on to little furry ears poking up from the top of their head, and tiny baby hands wrapped around a tail as they sleep. His eyes meet Wilbur’s in shock and delight.
He’s not alone in this family anymore.
“Her name’s Fundy.” Wilbur says softly, and hands the baby to Techno.
Techno cradles her in his hands and swears that he will be someone that Fundy can talk to about anything, someone who will go to bat for her until the end of days. He won’t let the world tell this child that she’s a freak of nature, or that she’s ugly, or that she’s not worth it.
Techno wouldn’t wish that upon anyone else.
So when Fundy decides he would rather be a boy than a girl, Techno takes it in stride. His nephew still deserves the world, and Techno is going to give it to him.
It’s cold at the bottom of the ravine, and Techno is glad for his cape’s thick lining. Even gathered around the fire, the wind brings a chill to his bones as it whistles between the stone walls around them. As much as Techno doesn’t like this ravine, he knows that it’s a good hiding place for two outlaws.
Wilbur and Tommy are older now. They have scars from fights, and their clothes are battered from living on the run. Tommy’s boyish energy is dampened by the weight of a nation lost on his shoulders, and Wilbur is manic, having left his pride and his son behind in L’Manberg.
Techno pulls his cape tighter around his shoulders and thinks about the house.
Philza always kept the place warm, especially on nights like this, when the wind made the tip of your nose numb. Techno hasn’t been back in years, and doesn’t seem himself going back anytime soon - but he misses the barn cat, and the woody smell of the place and the front steps. He misses the backyard, and wooden swords and tickle wars.
Now, the swords are diamond and cut deep, and war isn’t a game they play, but a reality. And if Wilbur has his way, it’s not going to end anytime soon.
Across the fire from him, Tommy shivers against the wind and hugs himself, rubbing over his arms. The shirt he’s wearing is worn thin, but he has nothing else.
Technoblade lifts up the side of his cape. “Tommy.”
Tommy perks up and scurries over, tucking himself against Techno’s side and burying into the warmth of the cape. Almost instantly, some of the tension leaves his body, and Techno wraps an arm around him, rubbing his arm to soothe the cold away.
Wilbur is still pacing around the fire. His lips are tinged blue, but he’s still rambling about Schlatt and L’Manberg. It’s hard to think that this is the same man who Techno grew up with. Leadership changed him for the better, and then for the worse. He’s lost so much in a matter of days - his home, his son, his dignity.
Wilbur completes another lap and Techno grabs his wrist, easing him down on his other side and draping his cape around Wilbur as well. Wilbur lets himself be held, and leans into the touch.
“You’ll help us won’t you?” Wilbur asks.
Techno runs a hand through his hair and thinks about what they’re trying to do. Schlatt isn’t a bad leader, but Techno has a feeling he will be. Wilbur isn’t a bad leader either, but seeing what the loss of power has done to him already… it’s not hard to imagine a fall from grace for his brother.
On his other side, Tommy shifts. He’s so young, and already knows his way around a sword and a bow better than some adults. He doesn’t deserve this. He should be romping around the fields behind Philza’s house with his friends, not fighting for a country. He’s seen death and destruction up close.
All this for a piece of land.
Technoblade has never been fond of the idea of government - an overpowerful group of people making the laws of the land is never a good idea, he’s read enough books to know. And now seeing what it’s done to his family…
But what can he do but help them?
“I’ll help.” Techno says, even though he knows that in the end, given a choice, he would destroy L’Manberg.
He just hopes it doesn’t come to that.