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The Difference One Minute Can Make

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“Goodbye, Tommy.”

The pit of dread in Tommy’s stomach grew, encasing him as he watched powerlessly as his best friend, his Tubbo , walked towards Dream, shaking but standing straight, crying but expression neutral. Retaining his dignity, even at the end.

Where was Punz? He-- he said he would come, did he not pay him enough?

Tommy absentmindedly reached for the your Tubbo compass, a habit he had whenever he was scared.

Dream’s axe gleamed, and Tommy saw his smile barely visible beneath his mask. Tubbo had stopped in front of him, staring into the empty eyes of the mask, and Tommy couldn’t breathe.

“No, Dream, please, please, I’ll do what you say,” he pleaded, “Lock us both in the prison, I don’t care, just please! Please, Dream! Dream!” The axe was raised. “ DREAM!

Tubbo crumpled to the floor with a heavy thud that echoed through the chamber.

Tommy screamed, and fell to his knees, and the whole world faded to nothing. All he could see was red, a pool of red forming on the floor, and he vomited, choking through that and his tears and the pressure that he was sure would never leave his lungs. A rough hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him up, how had Dream gotten there? He couldn’t process what was happening.

He pushed Dream off of him and ran over to Tubbo, turning him over. Mistake. Tubbo’s blank, lifeless eyes stared up at Tommy, hollow and dark. If his stomach hadn’t already been emptied, Tommy would have thrown up again, because this couldn’t be Tubbo. It couldn’t. Tubbo, who’s always energetic and optimistic and who believed they would make it out of today okay… no, it couldn’t. Tommy couldn’t believe that.

“I’m sorry, Dream,” Tommy just barely heard a voice say, but the speaker cut themself off with a gasp. “No, we can’t be too late…”

Tommy forced himself to look away from Tubbo, eyes finding the portal where Punz stood at the front of a crowd of people. His friends. Their friends. All of them wore identical expressions of shock, staring down at the place on the floor where Tommy held Tubbo.

“No, Tubbo!” someone yelled, was it Niki?

“Oh, god…” that was… that was Quackity, right?

The crowd, still led by Punz, moved over to surround them, Quackity kneeling down with Tommy. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but he closed it and shook his head.

Dream moved closer, but he heard the sound of a sword cutting through the air, and Sapnap’s voice shouted “Get away from him!”

Him.

Tommy.

Not them.

Because Tubbo was dead. It was just Tommy now.

Others of the group turned to face Dream, providing Sapnap with backup in case Dream decided to try and fight. Quackity stayed by Tommy’s side.

“You came,” Tommy whispered, still crying but lacking the energy to sob like he had been.

Quackity looked close to tears himself. “Of course we did, Tommy. I’m so, so sorry. We should have been faster.”

Someone else knelt down. Puffy, right? He didn’t really know her. She reached toward Tubbo, and Tommy pulled him closer to his chest. Puffy’s hand froze, and she looked up at Tommy. “I’m not going to hurt him, Tommy, I was just… trying to help.”

“Don’t take him from me,” he begged, voice barely audible.

“Oh, honey, I wouldn’t do that to you,” she promised, and Tommy let her come closer. He watched, numb, as her outstretched hand gently met Tubbo’s face, fingertips softly closing Tubbo’s eyes.

It was easier to look at Tubbo like that. If he kept his gaze on his friend’s face and not the wound across his torso, he could almost trick himself into believing Tubbo was okay.

He wasn’t fully paying attention to what was happening, but several of the adults were crowded around Dream, weapons drawn, asking about his vault, asking why he… why he killed…

He killed Tubbo.

“Quackity, give me your sword,” Tommy said in an even tone.

Quackity looked at him, and he was crying this time. “Why? Tommy--”

“I need it. Please. And…” he looked down at Tubbo. “Can you take care of Tubbo? Keep him safe?”

Quackity hesitantly handed over his sword, a simple unenchanted diamond one that paled in comparison to the other weapons brought, but it would work just as well as anything. Tommy gently lifted Tubbo before placing him in Quackity’s arms. He noticed the blood coating his outfit, his green bandana from Tubbo stained red, and the tears that hadn’t quite stopped flowing threatened to fall harder again. He took a deep breath as he stood up.

The yelling stopped as all heads turned to face him, save for Ranboo, who had remained motionless staring at Tubbo from a distance the whole time. Dream looked at Tommy, too, expression unreadable with the mask, but if Tommy had to guess, he’d say Dream looked like a cornered animal.

He took a step toward Dream.

Another.

Another.

“You killed him,” Tommy stated, shocked at how even his voice was. He expected it to be shaky, weak, broken. But he was too set on what he had to do, now.

Another step, and Dream took one backwards. He was scared, Tommy realized. He was scared of him. “Tommy, stop--”

“No.” Step. “You took everything from me.” Step. “You killed Tubbo.” Step. “You fucked up.” Step. Dream’s back hit the wall. “And now, you’re going to give me everything you have. Because if you get to take everything from me, I get to take everything from you.”

Punz, Sam, and Sapnap were immediately behind him, weapons drawn, daring Dream to make a move, but Tommy didn’t need their backup.

“Kill me, Dream. I know you won’t.”

Dream laughed nervously. “Come on, Tommy--”

Tommy stabbed the sword directly towards Dream’s chest, hitting armor but not caring. “Armor. Weapons. Potions. Everything on you, it’s mine now. Give it to me, and I won’t kill you, Dream.”

Dream hesitated, then began to hand everything he had over to Tommy, watching as Tommy collected his things. When everything had been exchanged, Tommy backed up just a step, enough so that the crowd that had formed could see Dream reduced to nothing. Dream held his hands up in surrender. “I gave you my stuff, Tommy. Now let me g--”

Quackity’s sword was in Dream’s chest before he had a chance to finish his sentence. A sick sense of satisfaction filled Tommy as he watched Dream’s body fade.

One life down.

Dream reappeared moments later, and when Tommy approached, sword still in hand, Dream begged him to stop.

“You said you wouldn’t kill me!”

“YOU DON’T GET TO SAY THAT, DREAM!” Tommy shouted, throat burning. “YOU PROMISED NOT TO KILL TUBBO IF I CHOSE HIM! YOU TOLD ME, TUBBO OR THE DISCS! AND I CHOSE TUBBO, AND YOU KILLED HIM!” He backed Dream into another corner with the help of Jack and Badboyhalo. “AND YOU DIDN’T NEED TO! YOU COULD HAVE LOCKED HIM IN YOUR PRISON WITH ME! HE DIDN’T DESERVE TO DIE!”

Tommy reached up with his free hand and tore Dream’s mask off, looking him in the eye. “But you know what, Dream? You do.”

Dream’s body faded into nothingness a second time.

Two lives down.

When Dream reappeared, Tommy was ready. He spat in Dream’s bare face, relishing the way his abuser, his tormentor, the man who took Tubbo from him, flinched away. His voice wasn’t loud anymore. It was deathly soft, yet everyone in the room could hear. “You really thought giving me your gear was a fair trade for Tubbo’s life? No, Dream.” He stepped closer to Dream once more, and Dream backed up quickly, trying to shield himself with his hands as Tommy followed after him.

“Tommy, stop! Tommy! Tommy! TOMMY, I CAN BRING HIM BACK!”

Tommy froze.

Bring… Tubbo back?

“Stop lying.”

Step.

Dream tripped, landing on the ground.

“TOMMY I’M NOT LYING!”

Dream was scared. He backed up on his hands and knees.

Step.

“TOMMY, I SWEAR, I CAN BRING BACK THE DEAD!”

“Stop lying!”

“I’M NOT, TOMMY, STOP!”

Tommy stopped.

Dream looked up at him.

“I’m going to give you one last chance, Dream. Don’t lie to me.”

Dream took a shaky breath. “I’m not lying.”

“And how do I know that?”

“The book Schlatt gave me,” Dream said. “The one that was worth enough that I’d fight on his side, it was a book on how to bring people back to life.”

Tommy shook his head. “I don’t believe you.”

“Look! Look, Tommy, that’s the real Henry over there! That’s the real Friend, not a fake one I told Ghostbur was Friend so he’d stop crying!”

Tommy kept the sword aimed at Dream, but looked down the adjacent hallway where his pet cow sat in a small pen.

“Don’t kill me, Tommy,” Dream begged. “If you do that, you can’t get Tubbo back.”

Tommy felt sick.

Here he was, at the end of everything, and the person who hurt him most, the person who killed Tubbo, was the only one who could bring Tubbo back. It was twisted, and cruel, and Tommy couldn’t process it.

He took a step back and lowered his sword, and Dream visibly relaxed.

“Tommy, are you sure?” That was Quackity’s voice, still with Tubbo. “Tommy… he could be lying to us.”

Tommy turned around slowly, facing Quackity, who held Tubbo. Niki was sitting next to him, and Puffy was on the other side. Ranboo was standing nearby, but he still seemed like he wasn’t fully aware of what was happening. Eret was standing nearby.

Tubbo… 

“But what if he’s not?” Tommy asked, and his voice broke as he looked at his best friend’s body. “What if I kill Dream, and he was telling the truth? And-- and then we can’t bring him back?”

Sam spoke up. “We don’t have to kill him. We can lock him away, in the prison.”

Some voices spoke up in agreement, but Tommy didn’t have the energy to continue. He walked back over to Tubbo, taking him from Quackity as he repositioned himself on the ground. Quackity looked horrible, just as bloodsoaked as Tommy, but he didn’t seem concerned about it.

In the background, arrangements were made, and Sam and maybe some others, Tommy didn’t know, walked off with Dream, escorting him to the prison.

Everyone who’d had their weapons drawn dropped their guards after Dream was gone, one by one approaching Tubbo. Eret placed a hand on Tommy’s shoulder. “We should take him back home. For a funeral.”

A funeral.

“Can we take him? To carry him back?” Eret asked, and Tommy nodded slightly, feeling empty as the weight was lifted from his hands. Eret wasn’t the strongest but they were strong enough, and many of the stronger members had gone with Sam.

Puffy and Quackity helped Tommy to his feet again, and marched him home, following Eret, who led. The rest of the crowd acted as a shield for them as they passed through the Nether. It was silent save for the sound of crying, from Quackity, Niki, Jack, Ranboo (who had finally seemed to snap out of his daze), and probably others. Tommy was among them, but he had been crying so long he didn’t notice, or maybe it was just because everything was numb.

Everything was numb.

He’d have to go home tonight. He’d have to see the empty spare room that he had offered Tubbo, and he could lie to himself and tell himself that Tubbo was in Snowchester, that Tubbo was okay, but his nightmares would remind him. He knew they would.

“You can stay with me tonight, if that’s alright, Tommy,” Puffy told him, and Tommy nodded slightly.

He didn’t want to be alone.

He was alone.

They passed through the community portal and Tommy saw the central Dream SMP before him, a place he never thought he would see again, but if he did… he expected to be with Tubbo for it.

Tubbo, who had been certain they’d come back, was the one who would never see it again.

“We can take him to my castle,” Eret said. “Just for tonight. We can have a funeral in the morning.”

Tommy nodded, though he wasn’t really listening. Eret was carrying Tubbo off, though, so Tommy followed, and so Puffy and Quackity followed, too, and a few others, but some of them stayed behind, staying back at the remains of the community house.

The one Dream had admitted to destroying. The one he framed Tommy for.

He could have made Dream tell them, but that seemed so unimportant now.

They walked down the path to Eret’s house, through the doors, and into the castle. Tommy never spent much time inside, but it was big and mostly empty.

He appreciated Eret, but this wasn’t where Tubbo should be. Too lonely.

“We should bury him under the bench,” Tommy said. “By the tree. L’manburg… L’manburg’s gone, so… that’s the only place that…”

“That would be fitting,” Quackity finished for him, nodding.

Eret had led them to a bedroom that looked untouched. Tubbo was placed on the bed gently, and Tommy looked at his friend’s lifeless body, still not comprehending that it could possibly be Tubbo. How could Tubbo be dead when only a few hours before, they were joking together to keep each other’s spirits up on the journey to the fight? Talking about what they’d do when they got back?

Eret had grabbed a sheet, which they silently used to cover Tubbo. The crowd in the room stood silent, motionless, before Eret moved away. “You are all welcome to stay as long as you need,” they said. “I will leave you all to grieve, but please, do not hesitate to ask for my assistance with anything you need.”

They left, and Puffy, Quackity, Niki, Jack, and Ranboo remained in the room with Tommy.

Puffy didn’t stay long. She told Tommy that she would wait outside for him and she exited the room.

Niki left next, crying heavily but not saying a word.

Quackity followed, expressing his regrets for not finding a way to have saved Tubbo somehow. Tommy didn’t have the energy to tell Quackity it wasn’t his fault.

Ranboo made a strange enderman-like sound and vanished. Tommy didn’t know Ranboo could teleport.

Finally it was just Tommy and Jack. The two of them stood in the room silently for a long time before Jack spoke.

“I was trying to kill you, Tommy.”

It took a few seconds before Tommy registered that Jack had said anything, and a few more seconds for him to realize that he hadn’t caught any of it. “What?”

“I wanted to kill you. I blamed you for everything bad that happened.”

Tommy didn’t have a response to that. He blamed himself, too.

“Tommy, what did Dream do?”

He opened his mouth to try to explain, but the millions of thoughts he had wouldn’t form into sentences. All he could say was “I chose Tubbo.”

“What does that mean?” Jack asked.

“I… I chose Tubbo. Not the discs. And Dream…”

“…Killed him anyway?”

Tommy’s silence was all the response Jack needed.

Jack reached into his coat, which he was wearing from Snowchester, and pulled out two circular black objects.

The discs.

“You left these behind,” Jack was saying as he handed them over. “I thought that maybe I should take them for you. I doubt you want to go back there.”

Tommy stared down at the two records. To think that the reason why Tubbo was dead was because he’d felt like the discs were worth fighting for. Worth dying for. They weren’t.

They weren’t worth this.

“I don’t know what your plans are, but I thought maybe we could bury them. With Tubbo.”

Tommy considered that. It was fitting. Tubbo gave his life fighting for the discs. He deserved to have them with him in death. He nodded slowly and stored the discs away.

The discs didn’t matter. Not really. They only meant something because of what had been lost to get them back.

Jack left the room.

It was just Tommy and Tubbo now.

From the beginning, it had just been them. What was Tommy supposed to do now that it was only him?

He moved closer to the bed and moved the sheet down some, just so he could see Tubbo’s face. It felt wrong, but… he needed to see his friend. One last time.

“Why was it you?” Tommy whispered. “I was supposed to be the one to die. It was supposed to be me. You have Snowchester, and Jack, and I know you like Ranboo, and you had so many plans and things you were going to do when we came home.” He took a shaky breath, tears he didn’t realize he still had flowing once again. “ Please , Tubbo. Come back. Don’t leave me.”

He wrapped his arms around Tubbo’s motionless shoulders. Giving his friend one last hug. And it hurt, so much, to think of all the moments he missed simply because he had assumed there would always be time to fix it.

All the time in exile, all the time spent fighting and hating Tubbo because they found themselves on separate sides, because of Dream’s interference… back when Wilbur blew up L’manburg and Tommy retreated to grieve while Tubbo was left to try to figure out how to rule alone, without Tommy’s help… the period when Schlatt was in charge, Tommy and Tubbo separate because they needed Tubbo close to Schlatt… all of it. Every time they’d been apart. Tommy regretted it all.

He never realized his time with Tubbo was limited. He never realized it could end, especially now.

Maybe he was like that, crying while clinging to Tubbo, for five minutes. Maybe it was hours. All he knew was Puffy gently lifting him away, leading him out of the room and out of Eret’s castle. He wasn’t fully aware of what Puffy was doing. It was like he was sleepwalking.

They reached Puffy’s mushroom and she set up a bed for him. A distant part of his mind told him he should help, but he felt too numb and empty to move without someone directing him. Puffy led him to the bed once she had finished, and had him lie down.

“I’ll be right here if you need anything, okay?”

Tommy didn’t respond. He didn’t close his eyes. He picked a spot on the wall and stared at it for a very long time, watching it even in the dark after Puffy extinguished the torches in the room.

He had nothing left.


The funeral was the next day.

Tommy had no memories of the rest of the night with Puffy, or what happened when he woke up. He vaguely remembered Eret coming by early in the morning, talking about things Tommy wasn’t paying attention to, like if they should bury Tubbo in his old president’s suit or not, or what color flowers he loved most. Tommy answered his questions, but it felt like someone else was controlling him. He wasn’t there.

The day passed. Tommy didn’t eat anything.

About an hour before the sun would start to set, everyone who had been there the day before had gathered near the bench. The casket was there, and someone had dug a hole behind the bench, under the tree. Tommy told them to make the grave in front of the bench, but it was too close to the cliff, someone had told him. He didn’t remember who.

People gave speeches. Quackity and Jack and Niki and Eret and probably others, probably everyone, Tommy didn’t know. He wanted to say something himself, but he still wasn’t sure if everything was actually happening. If he went to talk, he didn’t know what he would say. He wanted to talk to Tubbo, not all of these people.

There was one thing he could do, though. Taking the discs, he walked silently over to the jukebox, and played them for his friend one last time.

They didn’t fit the mood at all, except they did now. Those songs, one calm and uplifting, the other mysterious and chilling, they were just empty now. Echoes of Tubbo, who had never even shared the same attachment to the discs as Tommy. But they were his discs, now.

As the tip of the sun kissed the horizon, the casket was sealed with the discs inside, Tubbo’s hands positioned so he appeared to be holding them, and it was lowered into the hole. Several people, though Tommy didn’t pay attention to who, moved to fill the hole quickly, before the last lights of day faded.

Flowers were planted on and around the grave. Someone had made a headstone, with Tubbo’s name and dates of birth and death, and it was situated at the top, right next to the tree trunk.

Someone placed a bee nest in the tree.

A lot of people stayed for hours. A lot of people left when they got hungry, or cold.

Tommy didn’t move.

He must have passed out at some point, because he awoke the next morning in his bed. Someone must have moved him there.

It felt the same.

Everything felt the same.

Everything would always feel the same, now.

Tubbo was gone.