“What have you done?”
His voice is a reedy whisper, thin with horror and the realization that he is too little, too late. He doesn’t expect the sound to carry over the lava, but a response comes soon enough.
“He wouldn’t stop talking. And he killed the cat.”
Dream’s voice is even, calm, almost a bit defensive, as if he truly believes that he is justified in his actions. Sam swallows down his mounting nausea, places his trident against the floor to steady himself. The lava crackles, hisses, bubbles, orange and glowing, and he can’t cross it. Not now. Not when the security threat remains unresolved. Not when any wrong move on his part could very well mean Dream’s escape.
But he’s already made the wrong move, hasn’t he? Made the wrong move, and Tommy has paid for it. Has been paying for it, this whole last week. He kept him in there, kept him locked in a box with Dream even though he knows very well how it would effect him, kept him locked in with the reasoning that it was temporary, that he would let him out as soon as he could, that he couldn’t risk Dream’s release for anyone, even for Tommy.
But it’s not temporary.
Tommy was sixteen and loud-mouthed and bright-eyed when Sam last saw him, when he said that this would be the last time, that he was going to put his past behind him and look to a new start. Tommy will always be sixteen and loud-mouthed and bright-eyed, and locked in a box. There will be no new start. No seventeenth birthday. No triumphant return, no shining hotel. No tricks, no scams, no pranks.
Tommy was sixteen and loud-mouthed and bright-eyed. Tommy is dead.
He can’t even get his body.
He can’t even get his body.
Sam stands on the edge of a curtain of lava, staring into the orange glow that hides a monster in a room that is now a child’s pre-made coffin, and he wonders if he is a monster himself.
It’s the only thing to say. The only truth. The only possibility. Sure, the message is there, glaring up from his communicator in bright yellow letters, but it’s not real. It’s a joke of some kind, a trick. Something to fake everyone out. Maybe Sam’s in on it, too. Tommy must be going crazy in there, to think that this would actually be funny, but it sounds like something he would do.
“Tubbo,” Ranboo says, and then stops. Nothing else. His face is pale, though things like that are hard to tell, with him, considering that half his face is always pale. But he’s gone an ashy-grey sort of color, and it doesn’t look great.
“He’s not dead,” he says, and laughs a bit. “Tommy wouldn’t just die like that. That’d be ridiculous.”
Tommy’s death would never be so meek. Tommy’s death, when it happens, will be a spectacle, a dramatic showing with speeches and explosions and the sun rising at just the right time and haloing his hair, because TommyInnit deserves nothing less than the best death scene. Women wailing and the like. So Tommy is not dead, because if Tommy were dead, that would mean that he died alone, in the company of no one but his murderer, that he died scared, trapped in a small space with no way out, that he died without Tubbo by his side.
“Right,” Ranboo says, and his voice is doing a peculiar thing that Tubbo can’t quite work out. “Yeah, of course. Do you wanna—do you think we should go check it out? Go stop by the prison?”
“What for?” he asks. “Sam’s not going to let us in. He didn’t even when I built a dick on top of it.”
And here is another thing: Tommy can’t be dead because it was never supposed to be Tommy first. Tubbo has tried to live without him, and he found it very hard. So Tommy is not allowed to die before Tubbo does. That is the rule that he keeps locked up in his heart, because Tommy would be upset if he knew about it. But it’s a rule that Tubbo intends to follow, so Tommy can’t be dead.
That would be against the rules.
“Just to see?” Ranboo tries. Tubbo’s not sure why he’s being so insistent about this.
“Nah, we’ve got a hotel to build,” he says. “C’mon.”
Ranboo follows along behind him. His feet drag, like he’s reluctant. But Tubbo has long since given up on understanding why Ranboo does the things that he does.
She should be glad about it. This is what she wanted. Tommy dead, punished for all the pain and suffering he’s caused everyone else. No longer able to start wars, to cause harm, to blaze his way through the server and leave a path of destruction in his wake.
Tommy is dead. She should be glad about it. She is glad about it. She’s even smiling.
There is a message from Jack. She doesn’t check it.
Tommy is dead, that blue-eyed, wide-grinned boy who followed along on his brother’s coattails. Tommy is dead, that fiery spirit crushed and his overbearing, fast-talking voice silent. Tommy is dead, that loyal friend, the protector and defender of all that he called his, the fighter, the scammer, the boy who loved with all of his heart and then some.
Tommy is dead. Dead, dead, dead. There is no coming back from dead. Dead is final. Dead is an ending. Dead means it’s all over. Tommy is over. Tommy is gone. Tommy will never grow old.
It’s what she wanted. She should be glad about it. She is glad about it. She’s even smiling.
Niki brings her hand to her mouth to check. It’s a smile. A smile, for sure.
Her fingers come away from her face wet.
It was an empty castle already, but it feels emptier now. The different between a possibility and its lack, they suppose.
Tommy was never supposed to die. They can’t fathom it, somehow. Can’t fathom that it’s real, that Tommy will never grace these halls again. They’d finally begun to fix things, begun to work toward redemption, well and truly. And now Tommy is gone.
Eret grips their communicator tightly in their hand.
“I’m sorry,” they murmur to no one at all.
It was never meant to be echoes in their head, over and over and over again, an apology that means nothing but so much scattered dust.
He closes his eyes. Breathes. In and out.
This happens. People die. They die, and they leave, and he’s left behind. That’s his life. That’s how it is.
It still hurts, when it happens. He’s still learning how to make it not hurt. Still learning how not to be angry, that people find it so easy to abandon him. That people find it so easy to go where he can’t follow. Wilbur first, now Tommy, and he doesn’t have anyone left, really.
But it’s fine. It’s alright. He can manage on his own. He always has.
Fundy decides to go to bed early.
He takes a moment to breathe. To process. To absorb.
To regret, for what might have been.
The voices in his head call for blood, as they always do, but he will not give them the satisfaction. Not this time. The blood he wants most is not readily accessible, and he will not put himself in the position of confronting the favor owed. Not now. Not like this. Not ever, if he can help it, though he knows that these sorts of things always take their due, always steal their pound of flesh.
“I know, chat,” he says. “You can all shut up, I know.”
It doesn’t appease them. He wasn’t expecting it to.
Tommy is dead. Tommy is dead, and their relationship with it. Any tentative attempts toward repairs have been left to rot, to burn on the funeral pyre. Theseus, fallen from the cliff at long last.
The story was always going to end this way. No one can stop the Fates from severing the string.
He stands with a groan. He is not built for this weather, for this cold, and it is a wonder that he keeps being drawn to it, time and time again. It is a balm, he thinks, but for what, he doesn’t know. For nothing, at the moment, as the voices threaten to crowd out all the rest. But he can’t deal with them right now.
Phil has his own house, now, and a bridge to connect the two. A bridge over still water, such that Tommy will never cross. He should not feel the way he does. Tommy betrayed him. Tommy used him. Tommy discarded him, so he tossed him aside in turn.
But once they were called brothers. Does it mean anything, in the end?
Phil is standing in the middle of the floor, ruined wings on full display. His face is blank, his communicator held loosely in one hand.
“Phil,” he says.
“I failed him,” Phil says. “I should’ve been there for him, and I wasn’t.”
Technoblade has no comfort for the truth.
But he has comfort for his friend, for his friend who is perhaps his father but is definitely family, so he stretches out his arms and catches Phil as he falls, falls and falls and screams, and it is good, he thinks, that the wings are already ruined, because Daedalus tried to catch his son and failed. It is good, he thinks, that the wings are already ruined, so he cannot try again and ruin the rest of himself, too.
He nudges the body with his foot.
“You shouldn’t have killed that cat,” he murmurs. The body does not reply, and he sighs.
Tommy’s face is beyond recognition. The blood coats his knuckles. He hopes that there’s enough water in the sink to wash it out before it sets. He hates it when the blood sets.
He didn’t mean to go as far as he did. That doesn’t mean much, in the end. This will work just as well.
He is a god, after all. He is a god, and he will have what he deserves, and more besides.
“Don’t worry, Tommy,” he says. “I’ll make a believer out of you yet.”