Actions

Work Header

You told me to be a hero (so let me die like one)

Work Text:

They both watched in silence.

Neither of them spoke a word as destruction reigned around them. Distantly, they could both hear screaming, the shrill cries of Withers echoing through the wrecked land, but none of it mattered. L'manberg was gone, reduced, yet again, to nothing but rubble, but unlike last time, there was nothing left to salvage. The crater that remained was massive, managing all the way down to bedrock level and swallowing anything that happened to fall inside.

Tubbo flinched at the sound of fireworks.

Tommy's newly blue eyes started to dim.

Somewhere, someone was yelling at them, but neither of them could fully make out the words through the ringing in their ears, like their heads were dunked underwater. Tommy turned to see Technoblade, rocket launcher in hand (the one he used to kill Tubbo, his mind supplied), yelling something about broken trust and corrupt governments.

"When you were surrounded on all sides by like, 30 people, I was willin' to fight them all for you Tommy!" the piglin cried out in anger, "I would have been there!"

"Technoblade-" Tommy's voice was rough, his lungs filled with dust, feeling a disgusting sickness swirling in his gut.

"You know nothin' of loyalty," Technoblade growled, aiming his weapon at the two once more.

Thinking fast, snapping out of his stupor, Tubbo shoved Tommy off their platform, narrowly avoiding the rockets that shot past them and exploded nearby as they both went tumbling to the ground with a shout.

"Technoblade stop!" Tommy yelled and he felt sick to his stomach, "Stop it Technoblade! Stop it!"

"And why should I?!" the loud thud of boots landed nearby, and both boys glanced up from the floor to the figure now looming over them. The blond felt Tubbo's grip on his shirt tighten, "I put my faith in you, and that was my mistake. A mistake that I must now rectify."

As the weapon was, once again, aimed at their heads, Tubbo shoved himself in front of his friend, his back to the enemy, squeezing his eyes shut as he waited for the impact.

"You betrayed me Techno!" Tommy continued to cry out from under the other teenager, "You betrayed-"

"No I didn't!" the other shouted in response, "I was completely clear with you about everything. I told you about my plans, my secret weapons, I gave you shelter, food. I GAVE YOU A HOME!!"

"Then why did you team up with Dream!?"

The thing was, Tommy always knew that Techno would, eventually, blow up L'manberg. It was just a fact at that point, an unavoidable outcome, but the gut wrenching betrayal he felt as he and Dream clasped hands, a promise to support each other in their anarchy, was unlike any other.

He'd never exactly told Techno what happened in Logsteadshire, never wanting to seem weak in front of his idol, but here he was, propped upright on the floor by his elbows, his best friend right next to him at the feet of their enemy, the man who had supported him for weeks, who he truly would have considered a friend.

There were nights, during his time at Techno's cabin, where he'd wake up kicking and screaming, crying out in shock as he threw himself out of a nightmare. The nightmares were sometimes blurred images and grotesquely warped pictures, but other times they were clear, like he was reliving the moment. The final control room, his duel with Dream, being exiled for the first time, the festival, the sounds of TNT blowing massive holes out from under his feet, the screeching cries of Withers, the feeling of withering away slowly and painfully while desperately crying for any sort of relief, Phil putting a sword through his brother's chest, being exiled for a second time, the cold dead look in Tubbo's eyes, staring down into a lava lake, twisted internal conflict about who his real friends were, Dream, explosions, the crater that was once Logsteadshire.

He had a feeling that this would be added onto the long list of trauma he had yet to work through.

But on the mornings after a particularly horrific nightmare, he'd always be covered in a warmer blanket, a glass of water on his bed stand and a tray of warm stew to go with it. No words would be spoken about it, both of them resuming their daily routines like nothing happened and neither of them wanting to address the elephant in the room so they just... never did.

He guessed that was his fault for never telling him about the extent of Dream's... abuse.

"Because, Tommy," Technoblade continued, "He and I shared a common interest. Destroying L'manberg. We're one in the same."

"You-" the teenager seemed to struggle with his words, his throat clamming up completely, "You are nothing like him."

Technoblade scoffed, lowering his crossbow, "Oh I know that, but our goals are identical and so are our methods. Anarchy, violence, bloodshed. We go about our tasks the exact same way.

"You are nothing like him," Tommy repeated with a growl, and this time, the Blade simply raised an eyebrow, "Do you wanna know why, Techno?"

"Why?" the piglin asked without any real curiosity.

"Because you treated me like a fucking human being!" he cried, struggling up to his feet with a snarl on his face, "You treated me with basic human respect and I don't want to have to pick between you and my country but this place is all I had left! It's all I had left of a time where I was happy, it's all I had left of WIL!!"

That seemed to take the Blood God aback for a moment, before a glower appeared on his face once more, "Ghostbur-"

"Ghostbur isn't Wilbur," Tommy continued to shout, "He will never be Wilbur. He is a shell of a man and the shell of my brother! That van-" he gestured behind him to the wreckage that used to be the staple of their nation, "Was my last true memory of him and you fucking ruined it, you ruined everything!!"

"I stood by your side through it all, Tommy," Techno responded with a cold expression, "Now I'm only doing what I have to do."

"You didn't have to do any of this," Tubbo cut in with a bitter laugh that held no humour, standing up as well, "L'manberg only went after you after you tried to destroy it, you can't blame us for wanting you to face the consequences of your actions!"

"I was livin' peacefully in a cottage! I wasn't hurtin' anybody!"

"Yeah! After spawning withers on L'manberg land!"

"Technoblade, you-" Tommy scoffed in disbelief, causing the two to turn and look at him, "You teamed with Dream."

"You seem really hung up on that," the piglin deadpanned.

"I think I have the right to be," the boy returned in the same tone.

Above them, wingbeats sounded and a figure landed next to the anarchist with a light thud. They adjusted the helmet on their head, blue eyes glancing between them. Philza looked healthier than he did in L'manberg, the bags under his eyes were lessened and his stance seemed looser, freer, like choosing to cause chaos and destruction and make people lose their lives was something that brought him contentment.

At this point, he wouldn't put it past the man.

"Phil," Tommy whispered, hardly audible over the constant sound of TNT.

"Tommy," Philza replied coldly, but he didn't miss the way it made the teenager flinch, "Techno, what's going on here?"

"Oh you know, arguin'," Technoblade shrugged, a neutral expression on his face like he couldn't care less, "Tommy's upset that him betraying me got his country blown up."

"No I'm not."

"You obviously are."

"I'm not fucking angry!" he screamed, ignoring the way Phil's eyebrow raised as if he were amused, like how a parent would look at a child throwing a pointless tantrum.

How dare he... Phil lost the right to look at him with that fatherly expression when he chose favourites.

"Well what are you then? Cause you seem pretty pissed to me," the winged man replied, sickening amusement laced in his tone.

"I'm just- I-" Tommy stammered before something caught his eye. A figure standing ominously on the obsidian grid, sticks of TNT in hand, staring right down at him with an unwavering expression.

Dream.

The world seemed to roll to a stop as the two remained locked in an unseen battle, bluish-grey eyes staring deep into tiny pinpricks on a supernatural smiling orb. Slowly, Dream tilted his head condescendingly, as if challenging him to do something, to try something, to make a futile attempt to save the rubble that was once his home, but they both knew there was no point.

There was no point in fighting anymore, L'manberg was already gone.

They'd lost.

Tommy gave in first, eyes losing their focus as he stared down at the floor with parted lips, feeling a familiar emptiness begin to consume him, a void he tried to flee from when he ran away from the rubble Logsteadshire but always knew was following him slowly and steadily, waiting for his lowest moment to finally strike. He felt hollow and so, so alone, despite the people he knew were nearby, despite Tubbo standing directly next to him.

"I'm just tired," he admitted, a smile that looked more like a grimace on his face, "I'm just- I'm so fucking tired and I don't want to- I don't want to do this anymore."

Phil's expression shifted slightly, still unreadable, Technoblade lifted his chin almost unnoticeably while Tubbo gained a confused, worried glint to his eye.

"I don't want to fight I just- I just..." 

What did he want?

He used to crave adrenalin, the thrill of the fight and fury pumping through his veins. He actively sought out conflicts to partake in, willing and happy to play the role of the thorn in everyone's side if it meant the spotlight shone on him for even a few moments. The attention was addicting and he, quite frankly, couldn't get enough, constantly wanting more and more and more.

Then he wanted freedom, standing tall and proud by his brother's side as they fought for their newly found nation. He wanted to be part of something bigger, something grander than 'drug cartels' or shoddy business deals. Suddenly he was part of something more, part of a country he'd helped to found, part of a home that he could truly call his own.

When it all went downhill, he just wanted L'manberg back. The betrayals were starting to get to him as the real world crashed down around him. It wasn't just black or white, good and bad. Suddenly there were so many shades of grey that he couldn't even begin to comprehend. The one thing he wished for, as he listened to Wilbur, ranting and raving about his violent plans in the other room, a shell of the man he used to be, was for things to go back to the way they were, before everything went wrong.

At his lowest, in the desolate town of Logsteadshire with no one around, he just wanted someone to care about him, for someone to come and visit him in his exile, but no one came. And no one came. And no one came and suddenly all he wanted was Dream. Dream's approval, Dream's acceptance. He want friendship and kindness and to just be happy for once in his god damn life...

He just wanted it all to end.

After that, he could never truly understand what he wanted anymore, the world becoming more and more of a blur with every passing day. Even when he moved in under Technoblade his thoughts were foggy and his head was skewed and he didn't even know who he trusted, who he cared about. He didn't know whether he wanted to live or die, to side with Techno or Tubbo, whether Dream was really his friend or not. All he knew, was that he just wanted to be happy, was that too much to fucking ask?

"I don't know," he muttered quietly, noticing Tubbo's eyes soften.

"I told you, Tommy," an icy voice called out from behind the group, "This is what would happen if you went against me."

The teenager froze in the same way he'd done so many times before, his eyes widening as he slowly turned to the man who was stood far too close for his liking. How he got down here that quickly, Tommy had no idea. He flinched back violently as a hand clamped down on his shoulder, and although he tried to shake it off, it remained attached.

"Dream," Technoblade greeted, but Tommy could only feel the nauseating discomfort that he'd tried to get rid of for so long, and a pair of blue eyes that burned into him from beside his enemy, "How much TNT do we have left?"

"Enough," Dream's face never changed from it's seemingly permanent smile, only moving and twisting subtly to portray his mood, and the man looked nothing if not smug, "You've outdone yourself, Blade."

"I do my best to impress," the piglin grinned right back at him, radiating an aura of self-proclaimed supremacy.

Tommy kept his jaw clenched tightly, the primal fear that he'd been trying to train himself out of was back at full force, but still, the hand didn't let go, instead almost unnoticeably pulling him closer.

"How many Withers are left?" Phil asked, but his words were clipped, "Cause we don't have anymore skulls."

Now Tommy knew that was a lie, but he couldn't bring himself to talk, his throat closed completely and his breathing purposefully heavy as to avoid attention. He'd learned to be quiet, to not speak unless spoken to, and those skills were finally coming into use after so much time out of practice. Instead, his silence spoke volumes to the winged man nearby.

"Oh, plenty," the being chuckled and Tommy had to clench his jaw tighter to prevent himself from throwing up as another hand placed itself on the opposite shoulder once Dream got close enough, squeezing with mock gentleness, "They'll be at it for a while yet, I recon."

"L-let him go," Tubbo muttered, but he didn't say it loud enough over the distant explosions for the two other adults to hear, his face still blank with shock.

"We have enough time to get some more TNT in those dispensers, I think," Dream continued like he hadn't heard it, "Cause some more damage, you know? We can always sort out the rest later."

"Let him go," the ex-president said, louder this time, and the admin gave him a glance of disinterest.

"Oh, Tommy doesn't mind, do you, Tommy?" he asked in a condescending tone as he leaned his floating, orb shaped head closer, uncomfortably close to his ear, which made the boy's gut churn with disgust, causing him to lean his head away in turn. He felt more vulnerable than ever, his fears being exposed right in front of the people he wanted to think he was strong.

Tommy opened his mouth, as if to speak up and ask him to please please get off, don't touch me, but instead, the words got caught in his throat, the only sound being released was a cut off whine. He didn't allow himself to make eye contact with anyone. He couldn't risk it, not with Dream right there, with both of his hands on his shoulders, close enough to feel the pulses of magic through his obnoxiously coloured cloak.

"Tommy," Tubbo sounded slightly more frantic, trying to cover his worry with a shaky smile, "Tommy, come on."

The blond tried to answer, but before he could manage a single word the pressure lifted and suddenly he could breathe. The figure looming over him retreated a couple of sly steps with a dismissive wave of the hand. Tommy felt sick, taking in lungfuls of air and feeling his legs shake underneath him. 

He was about to buckle to his knees when a person propped themselves under him, holding him steady with an appalled expression, "It's okay, Tommy. It's okay, he's off you, now," they whispered encouraging words in his ear, and Tommy recognised the voice so clearly that he wanted to cry out in relief.

"Tubbo I-"

"Shh, it's alright," he interrupted with a mutter.

"We can come back later and chunk error this thing, if you want?" Dream chirped, addressing the two other adults, who both seemed incredibly tense, or as tense as violent anarchists could be, "I have plenty of explosives left if you want to blow it up, down to bedrock."

"Uhh, yeah. Yeah," Techno jumped right back into his uncaring persona like emotions meant nothing to him, "Let them do the dirty work and get rid of the Withers, then we come back and destroy the rest."

He hated how careless they all were, like they were deciding on a place to get take-out instead of committing major acts of terrorism and obliterating people's hopes and dreams. It made him sick, just how little they cared.

"Dream."

The being turned his head around by 180 degrees, unsettling the two teenagers behind him, "What, Tommy?"

The boy pushed himself upright, a snarl on his lips and hatred in his eyes, but it wasn't a burning passion that so many had gotten used to. This was the dying ember of the foolish child he once was.

"You disgust me."

"No I don't," Dream replied, a smile audible in his tone.

"See!" both of them seemed to be shocked by Tommy's outburst, but despite that, he continued, "You did that all the fucking time! 'You don't hate me Tommy,'  'I'm your friend Tommy,' BULLSHIT!! I hate you so fucking much you manipulative piece of-"

The cloaked being released a sigh, like he was talking to a child, "Tommy, you don't hate me. I know you like to think you can handle things on your own but you can't. You would never have survived without me. I helped you. I saved you."

"You didn't save shit," Tommy scoffed, taking a step backwards, "'It's not your time to die yet,' that's what you said that day, isn't it? It's not my time to die? Who the fuck are you to control me so much that you choose when I die or not?! Are you so damn arrogant that you feel the need to take every-fucking-thing away from me?!"

The others looked on at the two, none of them moving to step in, but not looking away either.

"I did what was best for you, and so did Technoblade, and Phil, and yet you betrayed all of us! You're selfish and you want someone to blame other than yourself," Dream was using the same tone as he always did to scold him and it made Tommy want to throw up, "I was the only one who visited you, Tommy. Don't forget that."

"Yeah," the blond snapped, "Because you- you never handed out the invitations for the beach party, you told everyone that I didn't want to have visitors, you even banned me from having visitors or-or even having a nether portal because I decided I wanted things of my own, things that you wouldn't take away from me."

"You're selfish," the being snapped, taking a sharp step forward, "It's always about you, never about anyone else. It's always about what you want."

Tommy gaped for a moment, "I think I've earned the right to be selfish."

"No you-"

"Yes I HAVE!!" he screamed, "You took everything from me. I had nothing left to live for, I had no-one who cared about me. I'd lost everything and you still have the audacity to call me selfish?! I just wanted one fucking thing, I just wanted my discs, is that too much to ask?!"

"If that one thing puts everyone you love in danger, then it's not worth it," Phil cut in, crossing his arms over his chest.

Tommy stared at his father figure with wide eyes, feeling his hands start to shake violently and his breathing start to pick up.

No. No, no, no, not now. Why now?!

"I don't- I've lost... we've lost everything. L'manberg is gone," Techno seemed smug at the statement, but Tommy ignored it and turned to the green cloaked figure, "Dream, I-..."

"Yes, Tommy?"

"Please- please tell me it's my time now," he muttered, taking no pride in the way the being's shoulders tensed, "I don't have anything left to fight you for."

I don't have anything to live for.

"No, Tommy. Not yet," the teen bit his lip to stop it from trembling, forcing his tears to stay in his eyes, "L'manberg's story is over, but our story isn't quite done yet. It'll be a long time before it is."

"What do you mean?" Phil asked, quirking a brow at the boy, "What do you mean by 'your time'."

"It's not my time to die... that's what Dream said," Tommy scoffed, and before anyone could interrupt, he turned to Technoblade, "You know, I did some research on that Theseus guy?"

He took a step towards the Blood God.

"Do you know how he dies? Theseus?" he asked without emotion. Another step.

The Blade's demeanour shifted, but he was still completely unreadable, as per usual, "Yeah. Yeah I do."

"He flees to an island, seeks refuge with the king," Tommy continued, ignoring the confused glances from the other three, "Lycomedes, right?"

Techno nodded, gripping his sword tighter in his hand, "That's right... I don't know where you're going with this."

"I think you do," the boy spat, "In some stories, Theseus throws himself off a cliff to his own demise. In others, the more popular storyline, he's pushed off the edge by the very person he sought refuge with, who helped him, who protected him."

Instead of stopping in front of the piglin, he walked past him to look down into the canyon that used to be his home, watching as a stray stone tumbled over the edge and fell seemingly endlessly into the pit. The land he built with his own bare hands that was now left in ruin because of his greed, because of his refusal to wake up to the real world.

The hole was massive, at least 4x larger than the previous explosion. So massive, in fact, he could just make out peaking bedrock at the bottom. If he fell, he'd die, as simple as that.

"Tommy," Tubbo's voice shook, a disbelieving expression on his face, "What are you-"

"You told me to die like a hero," the blond interrupted, spinning on his heel to face the others, holding his arms wide open, "So why not fulfil the ending that was always meant to be."

Across the battle field, through the chaos and destruction, a tree burned.

Even the sound of explosions and cries and bloodshed felt distant enough for the world to become silent for a few moments, each individual slowly coming to the same conclusion, each of their bodies tensing.

Tommy's face broke out into a grin as he lowered his head, glowering at the people around him, and Philza's face flashed with recognition.

"Kill me."

"No!" Tubbo cried, moving to run forward only to feel a fingerless-gloved hand grip onto his bicep tightly, "Tommy, NO!"

"It makes sense though, doesn't it?" the boy asked, a shaky grin on his face, "I'm the one who caused this, I'm a liability to this country and to it's people. None of this- none of this would have happened it I just- if I just ended it all back then. If I jumped into the lava, if I had jumped off that fucking pillar."

"You don't mean that," Phil's voice was taut, eyes flickering between people, "Tommy, you don't mean that."

"I've never meant anything more in my entire life."

"So you're just giving up? Running away?" the blond man took a step forward, only to freeze when the boy took a step closer to the edge.

"It's not called running away," Tommy growled, "It's called doing what is best for L'manberg. It was my unfinished symphony that Wilbur never got to finish, and will never be finished. It's over."

Philza's eyes suddenly looked like they were seeing something else for a moment, but as soon as it was there, it was gone, "Buildings can be replaced! They can be rebuilt again! They can be replaced, but lives can't! You are irreplicable, Tommy, please."

"You think you can replace this?!" he couldn't help but scoff at the audacity, gesturing to the wreckage, "Everything is in ruins, it will never be the same! L'manberg will never be the same. It might- it might not even exist after today, none of it! The sewer is gone, all of the history books have been destroyed and we'll never get them back. Yeah sure, we can rewrite them, but there's no fucking point. If we do, the difference is that the they'll be written in our own blood."

"You're doing the exact same thing that Wilbur did," Philza cried, "Don't make me lose another son."

At that, Tommy went rigid for a moment, before his grey eyes narrowed, "You lost the right to call me your son the moment you decided to chose favourites."

"You don't mean that," the man repeated, blue eyes meeting shrouded grey, "You're my son! I never picked favourites I-"

"Yes you did!" Tommy scoffed, shaking his head in disbelief, "Can't you see? You've always preferred Techno over me. Always. After Wilbur died, after I lost my brother and- and my home, you never came to console me once. In my exile, after weeks of being alone, you came to visit me one time and never, never, did you ask me how I was doing, never asked me why I was more skin and bones than anything else, why I looked like I never slept a day in my life. In the time I needed my father, you. Weren't. There. You were never there, so don't you dare call me your son."

Before the winged man could step in to dispute him, an arm moved in front of his body, preventing him from approaching any further, blocking his path.

"Tommy," their voice was as monotone as ever, cold and calculating, just how it was supposed to be.

Good, he wasn't getting emotional.

"Technoblade."

He made sure to keep his head up, never breaking eye contact for a moment as the piglin moved closer, taking long, striding steps until he was towering over him, casting a shadow over the younger boy. As he looked up at the piglin, he felt a smile form on his face, not unlike the ones he used to wear a long time ago, before war, before bloodshed.

"You betrayed me, Tommy," he grumbled, but the boy kept his head held high.

"Yeah. Yeah I did."

Nearby them, Tubbo continued to struggle against the hand that kept him in place, eyes never leaving the pair that stood so close to the edge, Dream holding him in place with a blank expression, or, as blank as a smiling face could be. Phil was somewhat unreadable, but there was tension in every inch of his body, as if ready to step in at a moments notice

"Techno... no-" Phil pleaded, his eyes flickering between them.

"Please, Technoblade," Tommy muttered, pulling the Axe of Peace from the loop of his belt and holding it out by the head with shaking arms, not quite able to hold it steady under the intense weight. The handle of the axe pointed directly towards the piglin, an offering.

Slowly, a scarred hand reached out to the throat of the weapon, clasping it in a strong, firm grip as Tommy let go of the other end, bringing his arm down to rest loosely by his side. He wasn't worthy of that blade, an axe that could only be wielded to its full potential by the Blood God himself.

Dream was right, he didn't deserve gifts.

The other man's eyes narrowed, holding the axe up to the light, watching as it fractured off the glowing, purple blade, before attaching it to his belt loop, leaving it to hang by his thigh. He turned back to the younger boy, who smiled weakly, a mere shadow of the grin it used to be. Carefully, Tommy grabbed Techno by his now empty hands and pulled them up to rest on both his shoulders, all it would take now, was one good push and he'd be gone. Forever.

"Do it. Kill me."

A choked noise sounded from nearby them, but Tommy ignored it in favour of making direct eye contact with the man in front of him. Technoblade's eyes were interesting in the fact that his sclera were a void like black while his pupils were a blinding white; they used to intimidate him, the Blood God's eyes, because he'd never seen anything like them before, eyes filled with so much power and wisdom, a millions thoughts behind an unreadable expression, but they could also be his downfall. Technoblade hated eye contact, to the point where he'd rather compete in a fight to the death than sit and chat with someone over dinner. Tommy was going to use that to his advantage to make him uncomfortable, to make him more likely to just get it over with faster. 

He felt the grip on him tighten, and he prepared himself for the feeling of freefall, but before he could fully comprehend what was happening, he was on the floor, dust and ash pluming out from where he hit with the cold stone, his back aching from the impact, a good few metres away from the edge and there were two figures suddenly above him.

That son of a-

Before he managed to jump to his feet, to run to the edge himself, a pair of hands held him down forcefully, clamping down around his arms with a vice-like grip. Whoever the hands belonged to, they were speaking, but he couldn't hear them over the water that had filled his head, just like all those times he woke up in the ocean, further and further away from the land.

He'd failed.

He'd failed.

Shoving the person off him was futile, but he attempted it anyway, twisting and writhing in their grip, "No, NO! Let go of me!! LET ME GO!!"

The person holding onto him didn't say anything in response, continuing to hold onto him tightly.

"No can do, kid," a gruff voice responded from nearby, and as soon as Tommy pinpointed the location, he kicked with all his strength. He managed to catch something, but it must have not been as strong an outburst as he thought, because the person didn't move an inch.

Suddenly, there was another pair of hands on his calves.

"NO!!" he cried, continuing the thrash as much as he could, which wasn't a lot with all four of his limbs held down, "Stop it! STOP IT!!"

"Tommy please," someone begged, placing small hands on either of his shoulders, "Please- please stop..."

The teen could feel the energy in his body draining quickly, but he continued to struggle, desperate to finally get to the edge, desperate for it to all end. He'd asked them for one thing, one damn thing, and they didn't let him have it. Was being happy too much to ask? Was finally being free from that role of 'main character' too much to ask? What had he done wrong?

He thought they hated him.

So why?

Why were they helping him? Why were they trying to save him? Why were they acting like they cared at the last minute, standing in the remains of what used to be his home, the home that they flattened and destroyed? 

Although he tried to continue grappling with the oppressive limbs that pinned him to the floor, his chest was beginning to contort and he could practically feel his nose start to turn red with frustration. It didn't help that, not a moment later, he choked on a sob that threatened to escape his lips, causing his breathing to stutter.

Not. Fucking. Happening. He wasn't going to start crying in front of the enemy.

But as his intakes of air became more laboured, and his teeth gritted painfully in a fleeting attempt to keep himself stable, he felt his chances of breaking down becoming higher and higher, knowing that if he didn't get released soon, he'd probably shatter completely.

Why did they pretend to care?

"Why can't you let me die?" he asked no-one in particular, a stray tear slipping down his cheek, "Please, I just- I can't do this... I really, really can't do this. It's too much- It's all too much, please."

There was a soft pressure on his head, and looked directly up to see Tubbo, who pressed his forehead against Tommy's gently, tears escaping from his scrunched up eyes. The blond wanted nothing more than to bring his hand up and cup the boy's face, to tell him it's okay, that it's not his fault, but the sturdy grip kept them locked at his sides.

He was so fucking tired.

He felt sick.

He wanted to go home.

But his home didn't exist anymore.

"I can't let you die," Tubbo whimpered, his voice quiet compared to the distant destruction, "I- I can't, Tommy. I can't. I can't lose you."

"You seemed quite happy to leave me to die in exile," Tommy muttered in return, but the words weren't aggressive, just filled with weariness and shame, "I almost did, you know."

An unnaturally high noise escaped the back of the ex-president's throat, "You- you did?"

"Yeah," the blond smiled in exhaustion, "Yeah, I did."

Tubbo didn't respond, as if just speaking would cause him to crack in two, to cause the dam that had been built up to collapse in on itself.

"It's all just too much," Tommy murmured, "I didn't know until... I- I didn't realise until it-"

There were a few moments of silence that drew on for so long that he nearly forgot there was a battle waging just nearby, the cries of Withers echoed across the torn up land, the occasional sound of TNT exploding thrown in here and there, people screaming and shouting, barking orders at one another but no one truly listening. War is ugly, after all.

"What did Dream do to you?" Tubbo brought his head up, and the blond felt water drip down onto his face, "Wh- what happened?"

Tommy bit his lip. That had to be the first time someone had asked, and it was in the worst possible situation. No one ever cared enough to ask before, so why were they pretending to want to know now.

"So much, big man," he forced out with a smile that seemed more like a grimace, "So, so fucking much."

"What did you do?!" and Tommy would have flinched at the tone if it were directed at him, but it wasn't. It was directed at the smiling man looming nearby, "Why- how could you do this?! I trusted you to take care of him. You promised to take care of him!"

"Oh don't act all high and mighty," the being glowered with a snarl, "You were the one who exile him."

"Yeah, because you threatened everything we'd worked so hard to build over-over some stupid prank! How long did it take you to rebuild George's house? A day? A day and a half?! It was never about the house, it was about power!! It was about those stupid, fucking discs."

"Of course it was!" Dream snapped, "Everything's about power! Everything's about control, don't you get it? It was never about the discs themselves, it was about the power they held over L'manberg. The power they held over Tommy."

"Why are you doing this Dream?" Phil cut in, sounding more curious than aggressive, "Because last time I checked, Tommy didn't have either of the discs. So why?"

"Oh, that's simple," the man shrugged before lowering his head, his smile growing seemingly wider as it stretched across his face, "Because he's just too much fun."

The grip on his legs suddenly tightened and Tommy opened his mouth in a silent gasp.

"YOU BASTARD!!" Tubbo cried, more tears pouring down his face in a seemingly endless stream, "You're a monster, you're a fucking monster!"

"Okay," he responded with a nonchalant shrug, gaining a growl of rage from the boy.

Tommy tasted metal as he bit down on his tongue to prevent himself from whimpering as the sudden pressure being applied to his calves seemed to double. He could only just muster the energy to lift his head to see Technoblade glaring daggers at Dream, a growl on his lips making his tusks look longer, sharper from where he knelt by Tommy's feet.

"What the fuck?" Philza said, his brows furrowed, "You- you just do this because it's fun?"

"Isn't that why you're doing this? Anarchy? Destruction?" the being weighted both the words on his palms, talking far too casually for someone who nearly watched a teenager attempt to jump to their death because of him.

"We have a reason," the piglin responded, his voice low and dangerous, "Anarchy is the abolition of the government, destruction is the only way to get the point across to a group of individuals who never listen. None of those things involve manipulating children for fun."

Tommy felt something slick trickle down the back of his leg as the fingers dug further and further into his skin. He whimpered quietly.

"Oh yeah, but destroying their home is all nice and dandy," Tubbo snapped back sarcastically, "Aren't you just the panicle of fairness."

"You literally tried to execute me on stage!" Technoblade's pitch became higher, "Doesn't that sound familiar? You are not the person to talk about fairness when I was literally just vibin' in the arctic when you decided to drag me out of my home and threaten my animals, which were innocent, by the way."

It hurts.

"I never said I was," the brunet replied sharply, "I'm a horrible president and a horrible friend, but I admit that! You just seem to think you can never be wrong about anything, that everything you do is always 100% correct, when that couldn't be further from the truth."

"Guys..."

"I am right!" Tommy whimpered as the pain didn't let up, "None of this would have happened if L'manberg was an anarchist society. All government does is corrupt people! All it does is cause conflict and war, don't you see that all it's done for you is make history repeat itself?!"

"The L'manberg government is corrupt," Phil stated calmly, "All it does is take genuinely good, kind hearted people and turn them against each other. If it didn't exist then Wil... Wil would still be here."

"Guys-"

"Anarchy is the belief in the abolition of the government and a society built on the backs of the people. Anarchy is not a steaming hole in the ground and dozens of Withers. You just want an excuse to cause chaos, to get your hands dirty! This could all have been solved if you just sat down and talked to us!"

"Guys my-"

"Oh yeah, and what would happen if I did that? I would get imprisoned and executed for war crimes I committed ages ago, crimes that I had moved on from. I was a changed man, Tubbo, but you dragged me back into this fight whether I wanted it or not-"

"GUYS!!" Tommy shouted, his voice cracking as it shattered through the air, suddenly grabbing everyone's attention and dragging it towards him. He spoke through laboured breath, his chest convulsing with the strength it took to keep the urge to cry hysterically inside his body, "Guys my- my leg it's- please-"

Out of his peripheral, he saw Techno's eyes widen as he glanced down at where his hands were digging into the boy's flesh dangerously, before quickly letting go and pulling back, as if his skin was made of hot coal. Just like that, the pressure let off and Tommy let his head thud back on the dirt floor underneath him, releasing a shaky breath.

There was a few moments of silence, only filled by the sound of gasps that came from the boy on the floor and the distant cries of soldiers fighting for their lives. The air was thick with tension, enemies existing closer to each other than they'd like to, but forced to stay out of curtesy. 

"Don't you have Withers to be spawning?" Tubbo asked, but the question was tired and empty, "I think you've done enough damage here."

"Tubbo-"

"No," the boy interrupted the winged figure, who's hand was left hovering awkwardly in the air, "I don't want to hear it... just- just let us be, alright?"

"Please I-"

"You've done enough," he growled through gritted teeth, shooting a glare at the two adults who sat nearby them, "Aren't you done here? Are you satisfied?"

"Please, Tubbo, just let me-"

"You say you're doing this for Wilbur," again, he cut in, not giving Phil a moment to explain himself, "To avenge his death because the government took everything from him, but you don't seem to care that you've taken everything from us."

Silence rang out in the canyon, even the fighting sounded far away now, and, for a solid minute, no one moved an inch, tension strained in all their postures.

Technoblade was the first of the two to stand up, slowly pushing himself up with a hand on his knee until he reached his full height, looming over the rest of them. The piglin was always intimidating, but there was a something in the way that his shoulders were rigid and squared, poised ready to strike, but his eyes were relaxed in an unnatural calmness that brought a shiver up Tommy's spine. He pulled the Axe of Peace from his belt loop, before swinging it up to rest casually on his shoulder. He glanced over his shoulder towards Dream, who stood idly off to one side.

"I'm gonna to give you twenty seconds to run," he growled, but his voice was terrifyingly monotone, "If I catch you after that? I'll make the bloodbath at the festival look like a fuckin' puddle."

Dream's face darkened, "What makes you think you can-"

"Twenty, nineteen," the piglin began to count, and if the being opposite him had a throat, Tommy would have bet you could have seen him swallow nervously, "Better start runnin'. Eighteen, seventeen-"

The cloaked figure took a stumbling step back, then another, before turning on his heal, pulling an ender pearl out of his pocket and chucking it as far away as possible. In an instant, he was gone in a puff of purple smoke, particles drifting off into the wind.

"You're not really going to give him a head start are you," Phil stated more than asked, but Technoblade was already rolling his shoulders and striding after him, pulling his own set of pearls from a pouch on his belt.

"Of course not. When have I ever played fair," he chuckled darkly, throwing the glowing orb up and down in his hand momentarily, before lobbing it in the general direction of the admin, "That should be good enough."

And just like that, the piglin was gone too, the only sign he was ever there was the plume of dust where his feet used to be, and the glowing remains of a figure that were soon blown away like he'd never been there in the first place. The remaining three watched him go, none of them looking away even after he was long gone.

"Do you need help sitting up?" Phil asked quietly, turning back to the two boys, fatigue etched into his features.

Instead of answering verbally, Tommy just glared at him, using his elbows to pull himself upright far slower than he intended. The man continued to loom nearby, hovering nervously.

"Do you... do you need help with anything, mate?"

"No."

"Al-alright," Philza muttered, still kneeling in the dirt, "I just want to help you, but I can't if you won't let me-"

"Help me?" Tommy spat like the words were acid on his tongue, "Don't pretend you want to actually help me. You just feel bad cause you didn't think your actions have consequences. You didn't teach us anything today, you just blew up our country, our home, and soon you're gonna go back to your nice little cabin in the snow and sit by the fire and read books and drink tea and shit, and we'll be all the way over here with nothing left of our last good memories other than rubble. You'll be gone, and we'll be here, with nothing."

Phil's expression softened as he glanced away towards the floor.

"We needed to send a message... one day you'll understand. One day."

"Just leave," Tommy replied, his voice devoid of emotion, "I don't want to hear what you have to say. I don't even want to look at you right now. Please."

Tubbo and Phil exchanged a glance, before the man stood up carefully, sparing the two one final look of shame before spreading his wings and taking off with more force than necessary, leaving the dirt around him to blow upwards at the sudden gust of wind that disrupted it. His small, muttered apology was lost forever to the wind.

And then there were two.

Tommy leaned into his friend's side, no longer caring if he seemed clingy as he placed his head gently on Tubbo's shoulder. He felt the brunet tense, but he quickly relaxed against him, placing his head on the other boy's in return. The younger glanced up, noticing the way the fractured light from the setting sun that managed to get past the clouds of smoke and ash highlighted the burn scars on his cheeks, a constant reminder of a past failure, always doomed to repeat itself.

"I don't want to do this again," he muttered, looking back out over the crater that used to be flourishing with life, "L'manberg we- we've lost it too many times... maybe we should let it rest."

Tubbo nodded gently, "Let's let sleeping dogs lie."

"Yeah..."

The silence that they sat in was no longer uncomfortable. It was calm, relaxing, despite the war and terror that raged around them byt they couldn't bring themselves to care about that; they'd lost too much to care anymore.

"We have no where left to go," the brunet lamented, "All my stuff was in L'manberg... I'll have to start again from scratch."

"You can crash in my place if you'd like," Tommy replied, "It's not much, but we could be roommates until you find a better place to settle down."

"We... when we find a better place to settle down," Tubbo corrected, his tone leaving no room for argument and the blond didn't have enough energy to argue. Today had drained more out of him than he'd expected. It wasn't a war, this was just Doomsday. They really stood no chance against the two most powerful people on the server, it was never a matter of 'if', it was a matter of 'how' and 'when', but they still stood with their heads held high in defiance like naïve children... 

Tommy ignored the fact that that's exactly what they were.

Distantly, the sound of a fist cracking against porcelain echoed through the battlefield.

"Yeah... you're not... you're not gonna leave me again, are you?" he whispered, and the words wouldn't have been heard if Tubbo wasn't paying complete attention.

"No. No, I'm not going to make that mistake again," the boy stated with a finality that only made Tommy feel slightly better, "I missed- I missed you so much, big man. I regretted every moment you weren't there."

Dream was slain by Technoblade using [Axe of Peace]

"I- I missed you too, Tubbo. I missed you too."