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very normal human behavior

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A storm was brewing over London. 

Literally. 

Dark clouds had rolled in as the afternoon light had waned, darker than the normal dreary rain and grey cloud. They were the kind of dark cloud that promised thunder and lightning and howling wind that would whip through every available nook and cranny, seeking out gaps in man-made structures. Even those most hardened to sever weather and normally unphased by a bit of rain and wind had taken shelter, leaving the streets of the city bustling only with those who had no choice but to go out and were desperately scurrying to get back to the safety or their cars, offices, or homes before the sky opened up on them. 

Especially in the suburbs, farther out from the city proper, cars were pulling into driveways, and people were pulling potted plants onto their proches. Pets were called in and shutters were fastened tightly as the weathermen on Tv had their most exciting evening in years. 

One particularly impassioned weatherman nearly began crying on air at the idea of a big storm, since it had been so long with such boring weather over their city.

This storm was, while entirely natural, made the perfect distraction. No idiot kids were out lurking in the streets, cops stayed as close to the precinct as they could, and no one dared venture to the tops of buildings where the wind was howling loudly and so strongly that a person might fear being blown off onto the street below.

Even birds seemed to think it was too much. No pigeons or crows crowded het tops of the budding like normal, likely hidden away from the wind, like any rational creature, and left the rooftop barren. 

So, when one alien spacecraft blinked into existence over the tallest office buildings in the city, there was no one around to see it, and the cameras were so wet that they may as well have been turned off. The security guards below were too busy watching the weather man shout about storms and flood and all man of natural catastrophe that more than likely wouldn’t happen. 

The long, sleek craft was visible for at most thirty seconds, before it settled onto the side of the roof silently, with little more than the quiet hum of the engine, drowned out by the sound of the rain that had just started pouring down. Then, it was gone again, as if it had never been there at all, vanished into the darkness. 

It was not truly gone though, simply invisible to everyone but the person inside, who grinned as he peered out of the front glass into the night, over the dimmed lights of the city. His grey-streaked brown hair gleamed in the lights of his ship, as he took his first personal look at Earth. 

Several blocks away, a much smaller ship, condensed and pod-like, dropped down into an alley, between two old buildings, with hardly enough roof for a car, and just enough for the small craft.. This one couldn't be seen either, as it was wholly invisible, and made so that the human eye, even if they saw it, would glide right over it, forgetting that it was even there. It was afe in the dead end alley, far behind a dumpster, in a part of town that people hardly dared looked down an alley, let alone ventured into them. 

It let out a quiet thump, too quiet to be heard under the clap of thunder, and the quiet shops all around the alley were empty, so even with a second strange craft, no one was any the wiser. Inside the ship, it’s sole occupant didn’t peer out the windows, with excited eyes, rather he let out a long slow sigh and settled back against his chair to wait for day to break and the rain to clear. He pushed loose pink hair back from his face, as a few strands had escaped during atmospheric entry, and settled into a long evening, on a strange planet. 

In the streets of a suburb several miles away, there was a brief flash of light, that in the morning, everyone would write off as a particularly close and bright strike of lightning. However, what they didn’t see, because no one wanted to bother to look out their windows, was that a strange child now stood on the street in the pouring rain, standing by a comically large motorcycle, that he seemed much too young to own, let alone drive. 

If anyone had bothered to look they would have seen him dash down the street and duck into the nearest alley, bike in hand, to wait out the rain, though they would have seen that he hardly minded, from the large grin threatening to split his face. He turned his face up to the rain, ignoring the storm, and took a deep breath of Earth air. 

--- 

“You’re an idiot.” Puffy said, rounding on Phil the moment the front door slammed shut behind them, keeping out the pouring rain. “You’re so, so dumb.” 

“Hey mate, I was fine.” Phil protested as he kicked his soggy green shoes. Sandals probably weren’t the smartest decision, but they’d dry a hell of a lot faster than his tennis shoes at least. Puffy was making a beeline for the kitchen now. ”You’re the one that decided to go out to get me.” 

“Phil, it's the worst storm we’ve seen in five years!’ Puffy exclaimed, tossing her raincoat onto the back of one of Phil’s kitchen chairs. It hadn’t done her much good, Phil thought privately, because her red pajama pants were soaked through, and her grey shirt was only somewhat better. “I already told you not to even put up the damn fliers anyway.” 

“You’re not my mother Puffy.” Phil said, crossing his arms as he stood behind where she was dripping water onto his kitchen floor. 

“No, you’re not!” Puffy exclaimed, throwing her hands up. “My kid is at home, in his room, doing homework. I didn’t have to go rescue Tubbo from getting stuck by lightening in the fucking streets!” 

“Puffy C’mon.” Phil said “I really was fine. A little bit of rain isn’t going to hurt me, and you know that statistically speaking, it is highly unlikely that I wasn’t going to get struck by lightning-” 

“Phil Mine-Craft, don’t you bring meteorology into this argument.” Puffy said, pointing a finger at him. Phil groaned. She was worse than his mother!  “You barely passed that class!” 

“Hey, don’t bring college into this! That was a long time ago!” Phil protested, because rea;; y the class had been bullshit, and he understood the material perfectly fine. The assignments were just fucking stupid and a waste of his time when there were so many other, more interesting projects he could be working on. 

“Then stop acting like you’re still in undergrad dumb ass! I had to track your phone, get in my car, and drive halfway into the city, to find you still trying to put up fliers.” 

“You didn't have to do- wait, you tracked my phone? How the hell did you do that?” Phil felt a little betrayed, because that was a big fucking breach of privacy, but he was also a little bit impressed she’d amanged to somehow hack his phone, since the only one he carried was work issues and was encrypted to high hell. Puffy was brilliant, but wasn’t much on the coding side of things. He knew that Tubbo was into coding but-

“We put those location share apps on our phones last month, after you got lost in the woods and had to ride back to civilization with an honest to god lumberjack.” Puffy said, and she wasn’t even trying to hide the exasperation in her tone, huh? She glared at him and he offered her what he hoped was an apologetic grin. 

“Oh! Marty! He was a very nice guy. Knew lots of interesting shit.Also, did you get lost in the tube system one?” Phil said, hoping that that particularly story, of which Puffy was very embarrassed. It was fucking hilarious though. A woman with three PhDs, considered to be one of the brightest minds in the northern hemisphere,  bested by the underground system. 

“We aren’t talking about me Phil.” Puffy said, and Phil wasn't sure if the red in her cheeks from irritation, the cold, or embarrassment, Probably all three. “We’re talking about your tendencies to be absolutely reckless and stupid over things that aren’t worth it.” 

“You’re not going to change my mind on this.” Phil said and shifted awkwardly. Both of them were soaking wet and it was a little uncomfortable. “Do you want some dry clothes?” 

“That doesn't mean I’m not going to give you my opinion on it, Phil.” Puffy said pointedly, then paused. “And yes please.” 

“You've already given me your opinion on it. “ Phil said as he turned and headed down the hall to the laundry room. Puffy was over often enough that he had several pair of dry sweat pants in her size. “Loudly. Multiple fucking  times. Once involved a small chemical reaction gone wrong!” 

“The chemical reaction was an accident, dumbass.” Puffy protested from where she trailed behind him. She thumbed him on the back of the head and ignored his cry of pain. Rude. “And apparently I still haven’t gotten it through your thick skull that this is a bad idea!” 

“You think everything I do is a bad idea Puffy.” Phil whined as he dug through the cabinet and tossed a pair of dry  sweats and one of his old college t-shirts at him.  “I thought you were my friend! Support me!” 

“I am your friend, Phil. That’s why I’m telling you this is a mistake.” Puffy explained, and while Phil couldn’t miss the frustration in her tone, he could ignore it. “It’s not a good decision.” 

“I just want to rent out some empty rooms, not move to iceland!” Phil protested, forwining. He could understand why she was a little hesitant, but she didn’t have to push back so hard. She wasn’t going to change his mind and if anything, he was more likely to do it as a fuck you, evne if Puffy was his best friend. 

“You don’t need to rent out rooms! You don’t need the money-” Puffy started. 

“I know I don’t need the money, which is why I rent them so cheap.”Phill cut in, already knowing where she was going. It wasn't like they hadn’t had this argument twenty times already. “Help some struggling folks out, and not trap them any shitty contracts like a real landlord.” 

Puffy leveled him with an unimpressed look. “Don’t give me that bullshit. You and I both know that’s not why. You just hate being in this house alone.” 

Phil flinched slightly and he didn’t miss Puffy’s wince. She didn’t just ahveto fucking say it like that, and she knew she’d gone a bit too far if the look on her face said anything. Puffy deflated. “I’m sorry Phil. I know.. I know that you hate being lonely. Why don’t you just move in with me and Tubbo?” 

Phil made a face. That offer wasn't exactly new either, but she hadn’t mentioned it in months. Of course she brought it up tonight. Fucker. “Puffy, you know I can’t do that-” 

“Why not?” she demanded, stepping forward to take his hand in hers. It was warm where his was still clammy. “My house is just as big as this one. We have plenty of space, Tubbo loves having you around, and half of your shit is at my house anyway. You’d only be moving next door. And we could use your place as offices-” 

Phil gave Puffy’s hand a reassuring squeeze, before shaking his head. “I can’t do that Puffy, I love you two, but this is my house. I don’t want to move out. I won’t.” 

Puffy let out  a long sigh “I know. I know. I just worry about you Phil. Inviting strangers into your home… it doesn’t always work out the best. You remember what happened last time and I just don’t want to see that again.” 

Phil shook his head “What happened then was a fluke. It’ll be fine this time.” 

Puffy didn’t look quite like she believed him. She also looked sad. She didn’t need to be sad. Things had gotten a bit hairy, but they were fine. And this time would be better. He was sure of it!

“For your sake, I hope you’re right.” Puffy said, and released his hand. She grinned a little, breaking the serious air “At least  wait a few hours before springing the alien thing on them.” 

“Nope.” Phil said, shaking his head. “I’m one of the few scientists who actually believes in aliens, let alone activ;ey searches for them. I’m proud of my work and they can fuck right off. I think trying to keep it a secret made them freak out more last time last time.” 

Puffy made a slight face but shrugged “I can’t stop you. But when things go wrong-” 

“If! If they go wrong, Which they won’t” Phil interjected. God, why was Puffy so negative. She was just worried, of course, and he loved her for it, but fuck it was annoying. He was an adult. He didn’t need her to mother him. She didn’t even treat Tubbo like this! 

“If things go wrong, promise this will be the last time you try this. Either you give up on the roommate thing, or move in with me and Tubbo, hell you could even adopt a cat. but stop trying to bring strangers into your house.” Puffy said. 

Phil frowned. “Puffy this is ridiculous I don’t-” 

“Promise me Phil.” Puffy said and Phil stopped and sighed. 

“Alright, fine. Whatever . I fucking promise. But there’s no point, because it’s going to be fine. You just need to believe , mate.” 

Puffy grabbed a sock from his laundry basket and chucked it at his head, and he didn’t even bother to duck, too busy laughing at the look on her face. “Don’t you dare start quoting the X-Files” 

Phil just cackled harder.

----

Puffy and Phil oth changed into decidedly less soaked clothing and Puffy called her son to let him now that she wasn’t going to bother braving the maybe thirty feet that separated their front doors and was sleeping at Phil’s.

That wasn’t an unusual occurrence, especially if they were working on a project, together, or even if they just had a little too much to drink. Puffy and her ‘normal sleep schedule;’ or whatever usually passed out on Phil’s bed, while he continued on with his night, napping on the couch when need be. 

This time though, they just had tea (well, Phil had tea. Puffy drank coffee like an american heathen ) and watched two episodes of the X-Files, because for all her protests, Puffy secretly loved the show. She stumbled to bed around two am, grumbling about having work in the morning and Phil settled in for a bit of work. He kept most of his work in the basement, but had a few papers with equations on them he needed to finish up so he didn’t get ‘fired’ or something ridiculous. 

The math took his mind off the fliers, which were just advertising his open rooms. He’d managed to get them across most of the nearest part of the city proper, and was headed back into the suburbs when Puffy came to pick him up. He doubted anyone would contact him from the first round, mostly considering he was pretty sure he hadn’t even put a phone number on them, by accident, but he had a few more to put up in the morning after Puffy left. 

Phil hoped someone would take him up. While Phil wasn't rich , his house was big, and it was far too empty. He couldn’t bring himself to move, but some company would be nice. 

Around four, Phil put the math away, and curled up on the couch. His phone alarm should go off around seven (though, where was his phone? He’d last seen it in the kitchen, and he just hoped it wasn’t in the microwave again) but didn’t want to get up. He’d probably hear it go off anyway and if he didn’t Puffy would wake him up when she came through. 

He’d show her, things would be fine. Just like one day he would prove that aliens were real and that he wasn’t crazy, he’d prove to Puffy that he could have normal friends. That he could handle it. 

Just because it had been a cluster fuck  before didn’t mean it wouldn't this time. She just worried too much. Everything was going to be just fine. 

---

While he dozed, three things happened at once all across the greater London area. 

The storm itself calmed as quickly as it came, clouds thinning out and rain turning from a downpour to a drizzle to nothing more than the normal mist that perpetually seemed to hang in the air. 

The first involved  a tall, thin, pale man, wearing a horribly outdated yellow sweater. He was standing a few hundred meters down from one of the tallest towers in London. He had more bags than someone should reasonably have on them at six in the morning, but his eyes were lit up with curiosity, as he stared at a rain soaked paper, hanging onto a pole by sheer force of will. 

“Rooms for rent.” he muttered to himself  and something about his voice seemed odd, as if he wasn’t entirely sure how to use it. A smile split his face, and if someone had looked closely, they might have noticed his teeth were just a  bit sharper than they should be. However, it was London, and no one really gave a shit about the strange man on the street corner. They’d already seen weirder.  “Brilliant! Who knew how easy this would be?” he said, and ripped the paper off the pole. 

If anyone had been paying attention, they also would have noticed that the man with all the bags set off in the completely opposite direction of the address listed on the paper. 

The second was that a very large man, with long pink hair stood at the edge of an alley, a floral green and yellow patterned duffle bag was slung over one shoulder, an iPhone 4 was in one hand, and he was clutching a soaked piece of paper in his free hand. ROOMS FOR RENT it read in bold letters along with an address.

He squinted as he attempted to type in the address and frowned. Perhaps if everyone hadn’t been certain that he was crazy (the ruffled shirt and facy overcoat did nothing to help this) they’d have walked a little closer, and heard him muttering ‘stupid human technology’ under his breath. 

No one did though, and no one paid attention when he smiled in victory when he finally succeeded in conquering google maps and set off in a power walk towards a destination unknown. 

The third perhaps was not an event, but a lack of one. A tennager who looked no older than sixteen, maximum, was still curled up sleeping between a corner store and a fence, hidden behind his motorcycle. His blonde hair was damp and he had one single bag, a red backpack clutched to his chest as he slept, oblivious to the world waking around him. 

In the end, none of these events were noteworthy. No one would remember this morning any different than any other Thursday morning in London. Commuters went to work, business men yelled at the phones, dogs barked, babies cried and the sun still rose.

No one was yet aware of the aliens converging on a sleepy London suburb- not even the other aliens. 

Chapter Text

Technoblade followed the little blue line, and the tinny voice coming from the human’s inferior technology for nearly an earth hour. It was slightly infuriating. The box was so small, and the buttons were so hard to press, not to mention it was just slow. The sleek holo tab that was stuffed deep in the so-called duffle bag (it was apparently very common for humans to pack things in) was much faster and far easier to work with. 

He’d only been on Earth a few hours, but so far, he was not impressed. 

But, Technoblade had to give the entire mission at least three months before he was allowed to declare whether or not Earth should be considered an invasion site or a potential ally. It was a laughable thought really. Earth was so far behind in technology and humanity so attached to their governments and wars that he doubted there was any hope for allies. 

What could they possibly offer? 

Technoblade personally thought nothing. 

But, he was still the one that they’d sent on the mission, so he had to at least wait the three Earth months before sending back his report and follow his assignment. 

The first part of being a ‘human’ (besides changing his appearance of course and ugh, Techno hated the feeling of the stupid distorter on his skin) was apparently finding a place to stay. He needed a room to rent. 

Technoblade was generally familiar with the concept of rent- many planets did something similar, but on Netheria, his home planet, rent didn’t exist. You always had somewhere to stay if you contributed the best you could. Once he’d been elected to go to serve as the representative, he’d been provided a place to stay. 

Apparently ‘renting’ was common practice on Earth, however, and he would need to do it to fit in. 

So that’s why he was following the ludicrous blue line, towards somewhere to rent. 

The architecture was strange, compared to literally any other planet he’d ever been on. If anything, it reminded him vaguely of some of the old settlements found on Netheria, but that was a poor comparison since the homes around him hardly looked fireproof. 

Weird. Weak

Finally, the strange voice in the tinny box announced that he had arrived, at 44 Sleeper Ave, where the strange paper he’d found blown against the front glass of his pod said that rooms were available for rent. 

It looked…well, it looked like nearly every other house on the street that he’d passed . At least humanity could do uniformity, though it was pretty boring. Maybe it was some form of clan marking, that all the houses were relatively the same, or for utility sake like on many planets. They found a structure that worked for them, and went with it. Thought, there were taller buildings he’d seen too. The architecture was strange. But, that wans’ important. Rent was. He probably needed to enter the building, right?

Wait, what was human protocol for entering dwellings? Technoblade was pretty sure that humans were considered private species and required some sort of ritual to request entrance to their dwelling without offense, but now that he was there he couldn’t remember what he’d been told. 

He had his manual, of course, but that was in his bag, but that would probably be weird, wouldn’t it? To dig through his bag standing on a doorstep? He hadn’t seen anyone doing that on his way here, though he’d mostly been focused on trying not to get lost in fairness. 

Was it a call of some sort? Like the Ghastlings, who screamed at the entrance, a call (that to Techno just sounded like screaming) until someone opened the door, or called back to let them know if it was ok to enter. Or was it something else? He was almost certain that it was something else. 

“Mate, are you fucking lost?”

Techno didn’t startle at the voice, no way, but he did, perhaps, turn around a bit faster than strictly necessary. Just in case there was a threat, of course. 

When he did, he found a short human man, with little to no hair and a strange set of blue and red glasses stood across the street from him, with a shiny black bag in his hand. “You’ve been staring at that door like an idiot the entire time I’ve been taking my trash out. Either ring the doorbell or fuck off before I call the cops. Phil’s a weirdo, but doesn’t deserve harassment .” 

“I uh, yeah, I’m going to ring the doorbell now,” Technoblade said slowly, nodding his head. He’d been told that was the human sign for agreement. “I was just… trying to locate it.” 

The man twisted his face and for a moment Technoblade wondered if the strange man was going to attack. “It’s by the door like every other doorbell, you moron.” 

Technoblade glanced over his shoulder. There, right beside the bright blue door, was a small button. He wasn’t certain, but that was probably the said doorbell. “Oh. Yes. I see. Thank you.” 

“Fucking Americans.” the strange man muttered, though Technoblade wasn’t entirely sure why the man kept referencing reproduction or what it had to do with ‘Americans’. 

Oh no, he hadn’t stumbled into a courting ritual, had he? Techno paled at the thought. He had no interest in that, thank you very much. Thankfully, it seemed he hadn’t or had failed to properly return the advances because the man dropped the shiny bag into a large bin. “Oi, if you’re still standing there like a loon when I come back out for work, I’m calling the cops, you hear me!” The strange man warned. 

“I…. hear you.” Technoblade agreed though he was a bit confused why the man was asking him that. Of course, Technoblade could hear him- they had been conversing this entire time! Were humans just stupid? 

The man stared at him for a moment, with a look Technoblade thought was confusion. Maybe anger. Or… hunger? Technoblade wasn't sure. Piglin’s didn’t really have particularly expensive faces, relying more on noises or just plain talkin’ to get their point across. Besides, human faces were strangely flat and versatile in movement. Of course, now his face looked like that.  The man just threw his hands up and stomped off towards the house across the street, where Techno assumed he lived. 

Once that man had returned to his dwelling, Technoblade turned back to face the door. It was still rather early in the morning, only around seven, but it was morning, so the humans should be awake. Studies showed that they tended to rise around the time that their sun rose, so when he rang the doorbell, he should be able to summon the resident human, who should be renting the rooms out. 

Simple. 

It was very simple and he was certainly not nervous. 

Technoblade lifted a hand (and he still wasn't used to how small his hands looked- how pale too- in his human facade) and pressed a single finger to the button. And held it. 

Within the house, his sensitive ears could pick up the shrill shriek of… perhaps the actual bell part? Whatever it was, it was the noise that should summon a human. Should he move his hand? Did he need to hold it? Or was it custom to let go? Or did he need to ensure that the human came by holding it down? What if holding it down was an offense- 

He moved his hand. 

The noise was annoying him. 

It was fine. 

He’d probably held it long enough to summon a- 

“Oh, hello mate!” 

Human. 

There was a human in front of him. Very close to him. 

Technoblade’s hand twitched. 

The human was smaller than him, though that wasn’t entirely unexpected. He had bright blue eyes and blonde hair that looked…. Techno wasn't sure if it was messy or just human style. He was also bearing his teeth at Technoblade, but Techno was almost certain that it was a human smile. 

“Can I help you?” the human continued, as he rubbed at his eyes with one hand, while the other gripped the door. 

“I…” Tehcnoblade’s words stuck in his throat momentarily. He didn’t know how to ask to rent a room on Earth! No one had gone over that with him! He shoved the slightly damp and crumbled flier out toward the human. 

The human didn’t flinch, surprisingly, but took the paper and studied it for a moment. The human’s face lit up with recognition. 

“Oh! You’re here about renting a  room!” he exclaimed, then stepped back, pulling the door open wide “Fucking fantastic! Come in, come in” 

Hmm. Perhaps fucking had a more colloquial use, as this human was acting very different from the other, so it was unlikely to be any sort of courting ritual. He would need to study the usage more, if he wanted to replicate it, though. 

“I’m Phil Mine-Craft.” the man continued as Technoblade hesitantly stepped into the dwelling, the duffle bag still slung over one shoulder. “Pleased to meet you.” 

Oh shit. Human name time. He hadn’t come up with a  human name. It hadn’t really occurred to him, or to anyone else at Syndicate HQ that his name probably would seem odd on Earth. But it wasn't like he had another option, and crap, it had already been an awkward amount of time- “ Technoblade.” he said, a little too quickly. That didn’t sound human at all.  “Uh, Technoblade Smith.” 

That was a human last name, right? 

It must have worked because Phil didn’t bat an eye. “Technoblade? Wicked name mate. Very unique.” 

“Thanks,” Technoblade said because while he was almost certain that wicked meant something bad, Phil seemed too happy to be insulting him.  “I chose it myself.” 

Phil let out a noise that did startle him a bit. After a  moment of wondering whether or not he was about to be attacked, he placed it. That was a human laugh . Most species had some form of laughter or way to indicate amusement, but the human way was… loud. And a little violent. 

But he hadn’t said anything funny? He’d chosen that name at 12, just like every other member of his clan, no longer called by his childhood name of just Tech. 

“Nice, mate,” Phil said, clapping a hand on Technoblade’s arm with surprising strength. “Anyway, would you like to see the room?” 

“Sure.” Technoblade said, “That would be... good.” 

“Great!” Phil said, seemingly oblivious to Technoblade’s nerves about speaking English and about seeming,... well seeming human. He must be doing rather well then. 

“I’m renting out three bedrooms,” Phil said, as he led Technoblade up the stairs. “This house is way too big for just me, so I figured hey, why not rent them out.” 

“None of them are huge, of course.” Phil continued. The hall was rather big, and five different doors lined it. “But they’re plenty big. All you’ll be paying for is the room, plus free reign of the common areas in the house.” 

“The rooms are all the same size,” Phil said, “But you have free pick of which one you want. Two of them share a bathroom, the other doesn’t have one attached, but there is a bathroom across the hall you can use. Here, Let me show you.” 

That was all quite a bit of information, but Technoblade didn’t really want to share a bathroom. He didn’t even really bother to look around the room Phil was showing him and ignored the way he continued to ramble on about… windows? Paint? Technoblade didn’t really care. 

As soon as Phil paused for a moment, Technoblade said “I’ll take it.” 

Phil bared his teeth again, er smiled, brightly. “Brilliant! That’s fantastic! All I ask is that you pay your first month’s rent upfront, though if you need a few days to get it together, that’s fine. It’s only about, er, shit I hadn’t set rent…. What seems fair to you?” 

Technoblade had no idea what was ‘fair’ in Earth rent. 

“Uh…” Techno dropped the duffle bag off his shoulder, and rummaged around, pulling out a handful of Earth money that had been recreated for him before he’d left. He held it out to Phil, who took it automatically “Is this enough for three months?” 

Phil seemed to be speechless for the first time since he’d opened the door. “Mate.” he said after a moment, staring down at the money with wide eyes, as he flipped through it “That’s… that’s too much for three months, fucking hell. I’ll only take half of that, maximum.” 

Techno frowned as Phil handed him a wad of the money back. “How did you even get that much cash Technoblade?” Phil asked, “Rob a bank?” 

Banks were where humans kept their money, right? He wasn’t sure what rob meant in English- but he figured that that had to be the normal thing humans did to get money. “Of course. I rob banks just like everyone else.” 

He wasn’t sure why Phil started laughing. 

-----

“Excuse me, are you a… taxicab?” Wilbur asked, peering down at a car parked on the side of the street. He’d realized after about twenty minutes of walking he had no clue where he was going, nor how to appropriately navigate this strange Earth city. London, he believed it was called. 

He needed someone who did know where they were going, ergo, a taxi. They took people places and tended to be a bright yellow. Therefore, the bright yellow car had to be a taxi. It only made sense. 

“What the- no, I’m not a taxi.” The person inside, a human male by the looks of it, said “What on- are you, stupid man?” 

“No.” Wilbur said immediately because he wasn't “I’m terribly sorry about the mix-up, but I am in desperate need of a ride. I am… I’m a bit lost, to be honest.”

The man studied him for a moment “You aren’t from ‘round here are you?” He asked and for a moment Wilbur felt his heart stop. He’d only been on Earth a few hours and he'd already been found out? Impossible! This was a disaster- 

“No native Londoner would ever admit being lost, fucking pricks,” he added with a scowl. Wilbur did his best to return the smile, without revealing his pointy teeth or the sheer relief that flooded him. “Listen, man, because I’m nice, I’ll call you an uber, alright? But don’t expect that kind of goodness from everyone. You’re lucky I'm not even British, otherwise, you’d be shit outta luck.” 

Wilbur had no idea what an Uber was, but that was fine. His job was to learn about humans, after all. He beamed at the man, who apparently wasn’t British. Wilbur was almost certain that was a kind of sexuality since humans put a very big focus on that, “Thank you, thank you. That would mean the world to me.” 

 “It’s just an Uber, dude.” the man said, giving him an odd look. Wilbur thought that was a little rude, considering the man in the car was being kind and Wilbur was just being grateful. Maybe it was because he wasn't British?

---

A few minutes later, the man and his tricky yellow car (note: all yellow cars are not taxis) were gone, and Wilbur was in the backseat of another car. The Uber driver was chatting with him, but Wilbur could hardly pay attention. A car! He was in a human car! 

He spent the entire ride only half-listening to the driver, as he scribbled down notes about what the car looked like. It smelled a little strange and it was a little awkward trying to maneuver around his wings inside. Even if they were indivisible, they were still there and the car was obviously not designed for someone with more limbs than a human. He pressed them tightly to his back, but they were still a bit unwieldy even beneath the large yellow sweater he was wearing. 

Finally, he arrived at the destination. It was much slower than most modes of transport back on Essempi but considerably faster than his walking. It was also nice not to have to carry his array of bags. All of them were full, some of them with human clothes, others with human paperwork he might need, and others with items he brought provided by himself or the L’Manburg Federation. Besides, the bags were human bags! They helped him blend in! 

“Thank you for the ride,” Wilbur said, holding the man a small piece of plastic known as a credit card. Commander had provided that to him, and thanks to some of their best technological experts it should allow him to use human money without using human money! He was also trying to be very polite since so far the humans had been rather kind. “I am ever so grateful for you getting me here.” 

“That Connor guy already paid.” the driver said, waving his hand around. Wilbur figured the motion was dismissive. “And… you’re welcome I guess?” 

Wilbur tucked his credit card into a pocket and gathered all his bags as he stumbled out of the car onto the street. All the houses looked the same- that was what was called a suburb if he remembered correctly. 

However, the one he was going to had a bright blue door and he was dropped off right in front of it. He left some of his bags on the street, mostly because his arms were starting to hurt. He kept one bag slung over his shoulder, but it was a bit small. A messenger bag, if his research was right, and it had all his important earth documents in them. 

He confidently walked up to the door and used his knuckles to rap soundly on the door. Knocking. He was knocking on a human door! tHat wasn’t a foreign concept, people still knocked on Essempi, but it was different knocking on a human door!

“Just a minute!” a voice called within and Wilbur clasped his hands together, as he rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, trying to contain his excitement. 

A few moments later, a flustered-looking adult human male opened the door. “Hello mate, sorry about the wait.” 

“No problem.” Wilbur said a phrase he was very proud of learning the meaning of “I’m Wilbur Soot”. His name wasn’t really Wilbur, of course, but it was the closest English translation they had to what it was in his native tongue, which was far more like a series of coos and clicks, whistling through his much sharper teeth. 

He stuck his hand out for a handshake. It was a good thing he’d remembered to file down his nails before he left because when the human clasped his hand in return, the nails were far shorter and blunt against Wilbur’s sensitive skin. He was also glad he’d already applied what was essentially boy paint, because it was just bright enough that’d hed definitely look translucent, without the specially designed paint. He hoped none came off on the human. 

“Phil Mine-Craft.” The man, Phil, said, “Can I help you today Wilbur?” 

“I would like to rent a room!” 

“Oh! Wow! I guess my fliers were handy- you’re the second person to inquire! Luckily, I had three rooms open, so you have a couple left to choose from, I can show you-” 

“I’ll take one.” Wilbur interrupted, unable to contain his excitement “This is brilliant, 

“Are you sure? You haven’t even seen them-” Phil said, eyes widening

“I’m certain. How much do I owe you rent?” Wilbur insisted, smiling as widely as he dared. 

“Uh, I dunno mate, maybe $150 a month?” Phil said, growing “I-I need to see how much the other guy is paying me. I forgot to set rent.” 

“Do you take credit card?” Wilbur asked hopefully. They’d hadn't given him any physical human money, or even a bank account, just the credit card, which Eret had promised would work. Apparently, Eret was wrong. Bastard.  

“No, but my friend Puffy showed me how to use Venmo. Does that work?” Phil suggested. 

Wilbur froze like a deer in the headlights. Oh shit. He didn’t know what Venmo was! He swallowed heavily. Fuck.  “I…. I don’t know what Venmo is,” he admitted, with what he hoped was an apologetic look. Not too apologetic. Or too inhuman. 

Phil, thank the stars, didn’t look concerned. “Don't worry about it, I didn’t either until like two weeks ago. But I’m sure she can help you set it up!” 

Wilbur grinned and nodded. “Of course, that sounds wonderful.” It was a little concerning, considering that he only had a credit card, but it would work out. He was sure of it.

“ Until then you can go ahead and get settled. The first two rooms on the right are open- they do share a bathroom, but right now no one lives in the other room.” Phil explained “Just go on up the stairs and pick one. I’ve got a couple of things I’ve got to pop out and do, so we’ll settle up later, okay.” 

Wilbur could see the stairs just over his shoulder. 

.I’ve already got one other renter, if you run into him, feel free to introduce yourself. He’s probably in his room- he just moved in today too!” Phil explained with a grin “I’ll be back shortly, as we can talk a bit more then if you’d like.”

With that, Phil exited the house, and down the street, with a  spring in his step. Wilbur wondered his the bathrobe was human fashion- not many others had been wearing one, but if fashion was anything like what it was at home, it was strange. He hoped his sweater and beanie didn’t look too out of place. 

Regardless, he’d fooled Phil enough to get a room. He was renting a room! In a human house! This was fantastic! Stars above, the research he could get here… was going to be great. And the bastards from the Badlands and the Syndicate would have no idea he was already here, preparing the way for the L’Manburg Federation to bring humanity onto the Galactic stage. 

Wilbur glanced at his pile of bags. The two dark suitcases were heavy, but the backpacks as the most uncomfortable. But, he’d read humans had a pretty high crime rate- which was strange because everyone seemed very nice

----

Tommy woke up with a start. He was still a little bit damp, from where he’d slept outside all night, and his back was sore from the strange position, but a little discomfort had never stopped him before. 

The woman poking him with a broom was a little bit disorienting though. 

And while Tommy was a big man, a brave adventurer, and a pioneer for his species and the Badlands, he might have let out a scream. A manly scream of course, like a human man, but n his defense, who the fuck started poking people with a broom? 

The woman also screamed, so at least he hadn’t already blown his cover, and he sprung to his feet, as they both screamed.

“Oh!” the woman exclaimed, as she recovered. “I-I thought you were- are you alright? Why are you blocking my alley? Are you hurt?” 

Her voice was strangely accented. She spoke English though, which was a plus since humans had so many damn languages (Tommy knew four of them, which he thought was pretty fucking pog, but that still wasn’t a guarantee that wherever he landed would end in would speak one of those). 

‘I’m fine!” Tommy exclaimed, shooting up “Just- took a bit of a nap. Sorry about cluttering up the alley with my shit, just got caught in the rain, you know how it is, being out late at night.” 

The woman studied him with narrowed eyes. Humans, in his opinion, didn’t look that much different from many of the people he’d grown up with. Sure they had fewer appendages, more boring skin, and less hair (or more in some cases) but their facial expressions were similar enough. Besides, Tommy himself has been using a human face for years. He’s very good at it! The best, perhaps, even better than real humans!

“You’re soaked.” the woman said, finally lowering the broom “Did you spend all night out here in the rain?” 

Tommy shrugged. “No?” It didn’t sound very convincing, but it was true. He’d arrive halfway through the Earth night, thank you very much. “Just a couple hours.” 

She studied him with a frown “How old are you?” 

Tommy bit back a groan. Of course. Even on Earth, he couldn’t escape the question!

“I’m eighteen,” he said defensively, and okay, so maybe that was a lie, but he was still close enough to an adult! He was the one who’d been sent to Earth after all. What did it matter if he wasn’t quite a legal adult on Earth? It was fine. He also wished he wasn’t forced to look like a teenager, no matter the form he shifted into. Fuck the limitations of his species, he wanted a beard

The woman didn’t believe him, but she also couldn’t prove anything so fuck yeah. Point for Tommy! “Well, alright, I… are you homeless?” 

That was fucking rude Tommy wasn’t homeless. Though perhaps it was his messy hair, muddy pants, and damp clothes pointed to the contrary, he had a very, very nice home. Albeit, it was a few thousand light-years away, but! He had a home! aNd was going to find an Earth home today.

“No, fucking hell.” Tommy groused. He’d managed to pick up a few TV shows from? Earth and had lovingly cultivated his language skills from that. “I am not homeless. I’m just….I’m a traveler. Looking for a place to rent, as they say” 

The woman sighed, leaning on her broom “If you say so.” 

She looked conflicted for a moment and tucked a lock of blonde hair behind her ear. “Listen, you can’t sleep in my alley- especially not with your bike parked there. It scares off my customers, ok? But I know a guy a few blocks away who is usually renting rooms, so if I give you his information, will you please go see him? And not sleep in my alley again?” 

Tommy brightened. No way it was this easy! 

“Sounds great!” Tommy agreed. “I’ll try not to sleep in your alley again, but honestly you know how it is, big men like me can’t make promises like that”

“I really don’t.” the woman said with a tired expression.

-- 

The woman had given him an address and while Tommy wasn’t entirely sure how to get there, he’d figure it out. She said it wasn’t far, so it’d be fine! Tommy was a big man. He didn’t need directions! 

So, the blonde woman, who owned a bakery, apparently (she sold human food which was pog!) gave him the address and stood in her window as he tore down the street on his motorcycle, which also contained the parts to his space pod if he hit the right button, which was fucking pog. 

The disguise was great though, the motorcycle was. It was something that humans drove, apparently, and he even had a (fake) license to drive it! And, okay, maybe he’d never driven it before, but he knew how to drive a hoverbike and fly like ten different kinds of space ships. It couldn’t be that hard, could it? 

He honestly did a really good job. He didn’t crash or anything! Even if a few of the larger vehicles- called cars laid on their horns at him, though he wasn’t sure why. He made it a few streets down, before realizing, yeah, he probably did need directions. 

Not because he was lost or anything. He just needed…a more efficient route. That’s it. And his bike had run out of fuel. 

So, he stood on the side of the road, waiting for a human to come along so that he could ask. It was fucking boring. He honestly got a bit distracted, messing around with the human phone he’d gotten a replica of when someone slammed into his side. Literally. 

“Fucking hell!” the other person- a human shouted, as they both tumbled to the ground, a stack of papers fluttering everywhere. 

“Oi!” Tommy shouted, as he hit the ground. Shit, that was going to bruise. “What the fuck.” 

“Sorry mate.” someone said apologetically as Tommy hopped up onto his feet. The human- a man- was still on the ground, frantically gathering his papers “I wasn’t looking where I was going.” 

“Obviously.” Tommy scoffed with a scowl “Now I’m going to be bruised and shit.” 

The man grimaced, as he finally stood. Tommy wasn’t sure if it was a human look, but the man had long blonde hair that stuck out in all directions. “My bad. I bruise like a fucking cantaloupe too.” 

Tommy huffed, he didn’t know what a cantaloupe was, but Tommy doubted it bruised easier than this stupid human skin. Why couldn’t humans have scales or shit? But, since this guy literally already hit him, he might at least get something out of this. Besides, he was supposed to ‘be nice’ on this mission. Which. Tommy was good at making friends. That’s part of the other reason they sent him. Obviously.  “Whatever. Hey, since you fucking knocked me over, think you can give me directions?” 

The man considered it a moment “I can try! Puffy says I’m shit with directions, but I’m not that bad. Where do you need to go.” 

“I’m trying to find Phil Mine-Craft, 44 Sleeper Ave. I want to rent a  room.” Tommy explained, “I made a couple of wrong turns though and fucking ran out of gas.” 

The man’s eyes lit up “Well mate, you’re in luck! I’m Phil!” 

Tommy’s jaw dropped “No fucking way.” 

“Yeah mate!” the man said brightly, sticking his hand out to Tommy. Tommy stared blankly at it. The fuck did he do with that? Phil just dropped it after a moment without a word “Not a fan of handshakes, eh? Fair enough. Anyway, yeah, I’m Phil. And you’re wanting to rent a room?” 

“I’m Tommy Innit-Dude,” Tommy exclaimed, proud of the last name he’d created for himself. Very human. “ And yeah, I’m not wanting to sleep in the rain for another night.” 

“You slept in the rain?” Phil exclaimed “Was it nice? Puffy dragged me in before I could spend much time in it.” 

Tommy grinned. “Fuck yeah. It was a little cold, but the storm was cool as fuck. Hadn’t seen anything like it.” 

“Right?” Phil exclaimed brightly “It was fucking brilliant. Anyway- yeah, I’ve still got a room open. Suppose these flyers did some good this time, though I don’t need them anymore.”

Tommy glanced down, and the thick stack of paper in Phil’s hands. Written on them in bold red letters was an ad for the rooms. Huh. “Pog,” Tommy said with a grin. 

“Pog?” Phil repeated, with furrowed brows. 

Fuck, that wasn’t an earth word, was it? Tommy blinked for a moment, as he scrambled to find a suitable lie. He’d be grounded for the next ten years if he fucked this up so soon. 

“Is that some new slang?” Phil asked. 

Tommy took the opportunity that presented itself, with no small measure of relief “Yeah, all the kids are saying it, Phil. An old man like you can’t keep up.” 

Phil looked mildly offended, but he was still grinning, so Tommy figured it was fine. He’d rather not live with some boring, stuck-up human who couldn’t take a joke, so if that caused problems, he’d rather sleep in a fucking alley. “Shut up, I’m not that old. You sound like Tubbo, little shit. He always calls me old, and behind the times.” 

“This Tubbo character sounds right and like a very big man. Brilliant. Very cultured, unlike you.” Tommy said haughtily, though, in this case, Phil really had no way of knowing what pog was. That was literally his out-of-this-world vocabulary coming into play if you will. “Old man.” 

“Fuck off, or I won’t rent you a room.” Phil threatened, and Tommy only wavered for a moment. 

“That’s a lie,” Tommy stated proudly, even though he wasn't totally sure.

“You’ve known me like, five minutes, there is literally no way you can know that.” Phil protested, “Mate, c’mon.” 

“I’m just brilliant, what can I say. An expert at reading humans, if you will.” Tommy barely managed to hide a cringe. Fuck, humans didn’t really refer to themselves a such, did they? Was that weird? 

Phil, seemed unphased, though, and just snorted. “Well, you’re probably better at it than I am. I’ve been told I’m much better at math than dealing with humans. But enough about me for now. We aren’t far from my house, let’s get you and your bike back there, and talk about payment, alright?” 

“Poggers.” Tommy agreed with a  grin. Hey, he’d already made his bed, might as well lie in it with that slip. 

But, even with that, it was score Tommy: 2, Humans: 0. He was so fucking good at this. 

 

Chapter Text

The room he found was nice. It was smaller than his living quarters back on Essempi, though that was to be expected on some levels. As one of the leading human studies scientists in the L’Manburg Federation (and probably in the galaxy since rumor had it the Syndicate didn’t even have a human specialist division-) he was…While not rich per se, the Federation made sure he was comfortable. 

Wilbur was only around 25 in human years, and still young for his species. But he’d been studying humanity for almost ten years. It was almost funny. The room, though foreign in many ways, was also reminiscent of the one he’d been given when he began at Camarvan Institute, the most prestigious school in the Federation, where he'd begun his human studies.

It had the basics of most living quarters for bipedal species, with a few easily identifiable items that seemed to be somewhat universal, like the bed, for example. Since humans, like Phantasms and many other species, were generally the same shape, give or take a few limbs, the bed provided wasn’t too much of an issue. It looked almost too short for someone Wilbur’s height, but it would be fine. It was a human bed! 

Back when he lived with his Looming, they’d slept in the naturally forming pods native to only his home planet of Pogtopia, but he’d gotten used to a more species-neutral sleeping arrangement when he’d attended Camarvan. 

Of course, none of that could compare to the human bed he’d been provided. Based on the images they were able to glean from their long-distance satellite messages, Wilbur and his coworkers had constructed what they roughly thought it would look like. Besides the railings they thought it would come with, their guess had been rather accurate. 

He pulled out his tablet, since he was safely in his own room, and snapped a picture of the room. He’d attach it to his first report. The others would freak

Wilbur could hardly believe that he was on Earth himself. Since the permissions had been announced almost two years ago, this is what Wilbur had been working for and he had it. Fuck, this was amazing. 

The room contained several other pieces of furniture, like a small table, made of some sort of natural material—potentially wood if Wilbur had to guess. A piece of furniture with shelves in it stood adjacent and was made of similar material, but a different color. On one wall was a black screen, with wires running from it. Wilbur wasn’t entirely sure what it was. The technology was certainly not nearly as advanced as what he was used to, but it was probably some sort of information or communication device of sorts. Based on his research, older technology tended to be rather bulky and large on Earth.

There was a door that led back into the hall and one into the bathroom. While the bathroom was certainly interesting, Phil wasn’t home and he'd said the other tenant was in their room. This would be a perfect time to explore the house without having to worry about getting questioned about why he was so excited in what was probably a very normal human house. 

So, he stowed his tablet away safely in his bag and stepped out of his door into the hallway. The hallway was rather long, with many doors, but all of them were shut. He instead headed back downstairs, toward the brief glimpses of the rest of the house. The bedrooms were all similar, more than likely, and he’d have plenty of time to spend in there later. 

The stairs were also made of the same organic material, which seemed an odd thing to build out of given the naturally occurring pods that he lived in on Pogtopia were made of rock, not anything that was biodegradable. Houses on Essempi were made of metal or stone, usually a technologically advanced metal that was produced to withstand most types of damage. 

Human construction was… strange, in many ways. 

He made his way down the stairs and into the small hallway. To his right was another hallway, and to the left was a large room full of odd devices. He chose the room to the right. 

Though the doorframe was small, the room was very large, with large windows, and another door he suspected led to the outside. It was strange to see doors that didn’t have airlock seals, after spending so long on his ship and on Essempi. Although Essempi was a terraformed planet, the outside environment hadn't wasn’t deemed safe for contact for all species without a suit in some areas. Wilbur also technically worked in a lab. All considered, nearly every door he encountered on a daily basis was airlock sealed. 

Besides that, it only took him a moment to realize that this would be the food preparation area. He frowned. He couldn’t quite remember how humans referred to it. He couldn't exactly call it by its name in Common wouldn’t do, or his native language; the humans would think he was crazy

He frowned, frustrated he couldn’t remember the name. Oh well, someone would have to say what it was called eventually. 

 What Wilbur was most excited about, though, was the fridge. Of course, they had food storage units in space, but they were far different, tending to be sleeker and more efficient, and the fridge was something that Wilbur had studied intensively. Not only was it a food storage unit, but it seemed to be culturally significant. As far as their studies showed, every human dwelling had one and some even had more than one. They varied in size and shape but were featured heavily in the living space. Some researchers believed that fridges were part of human religion and that many humans worshiped them. 

Wilbur thought that was bullshit. 

Wilbur was of the belief that the fridge served as more of a living altar. It was an integral part of the home that humans seemed to worship. Not only were they placed in a centrally located important part of the home but were also used daily. Based on a few snippets of satellite data gleaned, humans tended to decorate their fridges with information, pictures, art, and small other trinkets that had significance to them. Phil’s fridge was no different, covered in papers in many places, a large calendar with messy scribbles on it of...Wilbur thought it might be English, but wasn’t sure. 

It was obvious that the fridge was part of the daily ritual, holding things that were important on the inside and the outside, where they could serve as a reminder of the good things in life. It appears that the fridge itself supported the thesis Wilbur had written prior to graduation- the one that solidified his spot in the human studies division of the L’Manburg Federation. Suck on that, Eret. The fridge was a shrine. 

Wilbur blinked, realizing he hadn’t the entire time he was staring at the fridge. He had eyelids, unlike some species, though his species rarely blinked, and only used their lids to block out light while sleeping. He was still trying to remember to blink regularly. 

Oops. Wilbur wasn’t sure if he was allowed to open the fridge, so he left it alone. He really didn’t want to kick out right after moving in, so he’d play it safe and explore some of the other things in the kitchen. Of course, there were many, many things. 

Research had pointed to humans being very organized with their things; however, the kitchen showed otherwise. Perhaps their data was skewed. It was always a possibility, with the heavy sanctions placed on human monitoring by the upper council, and the agreement between the Federation, the Badlands, and the Syndicate. The kitchen was cluttered and messy, though some clean patches were a testament that someone had at least tried to organize the chaos. Metallic instruments, possibly part of the fridge ritual, were scattered across tables and in a watery basin, and colorful plastics that contained what appeared to be human food covered most flat surfaces.

Perhaps this was one of the points they’d have to concede. Whatever. He was right about the fridge. 

He stepped closer to the cabinets as he inspected the microwaves. There were two, and both of them had small labels on them, he scooted even closer, squinting as he did his best to read the signs when a loud, grating honk sounded outside. He yelped and stumbled. Normally his wings would help steady him, but they were trapped beneath his shirt, so he went careening into the counter, knocking off a series of cups in the process. 

None of them broke, thankfully, but they made a loud clatter. Wilbur cursed under his breath in Phantlin, not even bothering with Common, as he righted himself. He needed to pick those up and remember to keep his cool. Now that he wasn't startled it was easy to identify that it was a car that he’d heard. Stupid. 

However, before he could pick up the fallen cups, someone appeared at the kitchen entrance. 

“Who are you?” someone snapped, and Wilbur’s hands stilled over the scattered cups. He looked up to find his human roommate standing in the doorway. Unfortunately, it looked like they were, well, a little bit angry.

--- 

Though Technoblade didn't have much, he'd spent a good while methodically unpacking it. His human clothes went in the drawers; the one nice outfit they’d given him was hung in the closet. He did have one set of clothing from home that he folded gently and stowed away. He’d taken it. On the off chance that things went poorly, he wasn't going to be stuck trying to get back home in human clothes.. Also, human clothes were just boring and uncomfortable; nothing compared to the textiles from his planet or what the Syndicate could provide. 

Besides that, he only had the holotablet he would use to send his first reports, some money he’d been given, and a few other necessary human items. In the end, it didn’t take long and he eventually stashed his tablet in the bottom drawer. There wasn't any sort of lock on the drawer, which was slightly concerning, but humans were supposedly a species that didn't enter without permission. If they held true to that,  he was safe enough. 

Then he took a nap. 

Maybe he should’ve been completing his objectives or talking to Phil, but Phil had wandered off earlier after Technoblade had shoved the money at him, and he was tired. Piglins could only sleep on horizontal surfaces, and the pod he’d come in was barely big enough for him to recline the seat. He hadn’t slept well in days, which had left him bone-dead tired. The human bed was comfortable—more comfortable than the one on Netheria, but a little too small to be as comfortable as the one on the Syndicate's head planet. Good enough, though. He could manage with this. Even if he looked human, his biology hadn’t really changed. And really, the human race wasn’t that close to self-destructing, so he figured he had time to take a nap. 

The thing about Piglins was that although they usually only slept once every few days, they slept hard when they did sleep. 

That’s why it was concerning when something crashed loudly two floors below him, as someone screamed, all loudly enough to jolt Technoblade from his nap. Netherria, as much as Technoblade loved his home planet, wasn’t exactly a safe place to live, and screaming wasn’t exactly uncommon. Maybe he’d just gone soft since he hadn’t actually visited Nettheria in years, but the shout from below was loud and the crash was also loud. 

He might’ve gone soft, but no soft enough that his instinct didn’t react, carrying him down the stairs towards the source before he even fully woke up. He half expected to see the stupid human, Phil, injured, because humans just seemed fragile—instead, it was a different human, on the floor, surrounded by cups. 

“Who are you?” Technoblade demanded, scowling at the strange human. He was wearing a very ugly yellow sweater, with some sort of hat pulled over his head (did humans wear head-covering indoors? Was that something they did?) and he was very pale. Technoblade had heard that it was a common sign of human sickness. Was he ill? 

The human seemed to be in shock or something because they didn’t respond. Was the strange human some sort of predator? No, no, Earth didn’t have human-shaped predators, besides stupid stories that they were 80% sure weren’t true. Maybe he was some sort of criminal. He scrambled to find the right words to string together to ask him “Did you- are you tryin’ to-uh, commit a crime?” 

That shocked the human out of his stupor. “Crime—oh! No! I’m not a criminal! I live here!” 

Technoblade frowned. Phil hadn’t mentioned anyone else living here. In fact, he thought Phil said that no one else lived here. “No.” 

“What?” The human looked incredulous at his proclamation, for some reason, getting to his feet and abandoning the cups “What the fuck do you mean, no?” 

“I live here. Phil lives here. Not you.” Technoblade said, trying to tone the aggression in his tone down.

“And I live here too.” The human argued, waving his arms around in a way that made Technoblade a little nervous. The man was also tall. Taller than him. He didn’t like it. Was he going to attack? “Phil said he had another renter, he didn’t mention that said renter was an idiot.” 

Technoblade relaxed. If this man was also a renter. , he must have talked to Phil then, and Phil had to have approved, and that was good enough for Techno to believe he wasn’t too much of a threat. Techno must’ve slept through that interaction. However, he didn’t care for being insulted. 

“I’m not an idiot,” Technoblade said, fixing the human with what he hoped was an angry look. “How was I supposed to know you weren’t some kind of criminal?” 

“Maybe you could have just, oh, I don't know—asked me first?” The human snapped back, still looking very angry. Or offended. He wasn’t sure. 

“I literally did ask,” Technoblade pointed out. Because he did. And the human had the audacity to call him an idiot! "I'm the one bein' sensible, and you're insulting me over nothin'! It's offensive, you know, callin' people idiots."

Before the stupid human could argue any more, the front door swung open and Technoblade instinctively turned to it. “I’m home!” Phill called before he was even through the door. He paused, seeing Techno standing just outside the kitchen. "Oh Techno! Hey mate.” 

“Hello, Phil,” Technoblade replied, hoping the angry human wouldn’t attack him while his back was turned. 

He startled slightly when the human appeared right by his side, pushing past Technoblade out into the hall. He frowned at the human’s back. Was this guy just trying to be rude? 

“Hello Phil!” the man chirped. 

“Wilbur!” Phil exclaimed, giving the other human a cheery wave.  “I see you’ve met Technoblade! He's one of my other tenants!” 

Wilbur kept smiling, despite being angry moments ago. What? “ We actually have met, Phil—” 

Whatever the unnervingly tall human was going to say was cut off, by a loud, bellowing voice, spitting what Technoble was almost certain was a string of courses followed by a loud, annoying call of “ PHILLLLLL”  

Phil chuckled.  “Oh yeah, my newest tenant. Almost forgot about him.” 

He turned over his shoulder and called,“Worry about your bike later Tommy. No one's going to steal it from here. Come on in!” 

There were a few crashes and a moment later, a disheveled looking human—he looked a little young in Technoblade’s opinion— appeared right over Phil’s shoulder. 

“Hello boys!” the human practically shouted, smiling in a way that made Technoblade shift just a little away from him, despite two humans being between them. “I’m the biggest man you’ll ever meet! And feel honored, bitches, because all of you will be my new housemates! Oh, you lot aren't ready to be Tommy Innit-Dude's housemates." The kid snickered.

Technoblade honestly wasn’t sure what to think of this human, so he just stared back in silence. The kid was young, loud, and was already making Technoblade's sensitive ears hurt. Phil seemed fine, but he wasn't sure that he could handle living with three humans, one of which already hated him, for whatever reason. 

“Hello, Tommy!” Wilbur gave the newcomer a cheery wave as Phill stepped aside, allowing Tommy into the house. “I’m Wilbur!” 

Tommy stared at him for a moment. “Why the fuck are you so tall? Shrink, bitch.” 

Oh man, this human kid was about to get ripped into by Wilbur—they guy had basically hated Technoblade for askin’ a simple, reasonable question and now Phil would be here to witness his temperamental behavior and if he was lucky, maybe that would get Wilbur kicked out of the house—

Wilbur, instead, decided to be a two-faced bastard and laugh. He threw his head back and laughed! It didn’t sound exactly like Phil’s It was a little more…screechy and ten times more annoying. But he wasn’t angry at the kid. Huh? 

“Because I am, you little…gremlin child." Wilbur teased. "You’re just short because you’re what, twelve?” 

“Fuck you, bitch! I’m eighteen!” Tommy huffed. “And I’m not short! I’m taller than Phil and— the quiet asshole moping in the corner over there.” 

“Technoblade's pretty short, yeah,” Wilbur agreed, shooting Techno a nasty smirk.. 

Technoblade was a mature Piglin, who had been representing his home planet for nearly five years, and he was a full adult. That’s why he didn’t glare back at Wilbur. Not because he wasn't exactly sure how to make his human face look angry. Nope. Not at all. 

“Hello,” he replied instead, raising a hand in what he hoped was a correct mimic of a human wave. “Nice to meet you.” 

Tommy ignored his polite greeting and studied Techno with a look that had him halfway worried. Had Tommy already managed to figure out he wasn’t human? 

“Hmm, Wilbur, you're’re right about my superior height," Tommy said instead. "We are taller than both of them, which of course means we’re better than them.” 

Wilbur grinned “You’re completely right, Tommy.” 

“Hey, I’m not short!” Phil protested, despite being the shortest person in the room. “You lot are just freakishly tall.”

“I dunno Phil, you seem a bit on the short side. A little underwhelming there.” Tommy said with a critical look at Phil. 

“Fuck off mate,” Phil replied with a laugh, and though Technoblade was sure the phrase was a human insult, it didn’t sound angry. Human language was too confusing. Also, Tommy had literally insulted Wilbur, but as they argued with Phil about height, he seemed to be…not angry. 

Technoblade frowned. He hadn'teven been here a day and he was more than ready to go home. Humans were confusing as shit and nvasion honestly still seemed like the best option. It’d definitely save everyone a headache later if most humans turned out to be like Wilbur and Tommy. 

---

Phil was exhausted, but beyond pleased. After Puffy had left for work, but before she’d gotten back, Phil had gotten all three of his rooms rented out, gotten a bit of work done, and was even making dinner to serve his new housemates, if they wanted to eat with him. 

He wasn’t sure if they would.Tommy was just getting settled in his room after meeting Wilbur. Even though Tommy seemed loud, and a bit younger than his other two renters, He got along pretty well with Wilbur. Technoblade was just quiet, but amicable enough—though of course, it had only been a few hours. Phil'dlet them all get settled for the night, even though all of them had very few things.

 Tommy had the least, but Phil could relate. When he was eighteen he practically lived out of a duffle bag because he was more or less broke and couch surfing. Tommy apparently had money, but hey, what he had wasn’t Phil’s business. Some people didn’t like stuff. Minimalists were fucking weirdos, but it really wasn’t his business. 

Technoblade had vanished sometime while Tommy and Wilbur got acquainted and hadn’t come out since. The guy looked tired. Maybe he was sleeping. Phil had gotten a bit of work done—mostly cleaning his work off the kitchen table if he was being entirely honest—and then pivoted to dinner. 

He’d need to go over a few ground rules—he didn’t have many, but he liked to be open with his housemates (even if the last time that had ended…well, being called a freak wasn’t the worst thing he’d ever been called) and it was good to clear the air from the start. Honesty was the best policy, and all that.

Phil wasn’t a great cook—Puffy was much better, but he’d shot her a text that he had tenants and needed a night to get acquainted before she needed to come over. Besides, her literal son hadn’t seen her since the day before, so Tubbo needed her. Probably. 

Actually, the kid was pretty self sufficient, but he still needed his mother. Besides, Phil was a grown man, dammit, and could, despite popular belief, cook his own dinner. That didn’t mean Puffy didn’t call him like he was entirely incapable. Honestly, you set two kitchens on fire and suddenly no one trusts you in the kitchen. 

Are you sure you have it under control? ” Puffy asked, for what had to be the fifth time. Her voice was slightly tinny over the phone. “ I mean, I need to meet these people since they’re living with you and are my neighbors now. I can’t have an axe murderer living here, or a felon escaping law enforcement—

“He never technically moved in Puffy—” Phil attempted to protest as he stirred the sauce (the kind you dumped out of a can, because Phil wasn't planning on causing any kitchen accidents today) but Puffy seemed content to ignore him.

And really, are you sure that you should be making dinner, I mean I know we both remember —”  

“I swear to god Puffy if you bring up the meatloaf incident one more time,” Phil warned. Pointing his spoon dangerously, even though she couldn’t see him. 

You don’t even believe in God .” Puffy chuckled. “ But fine, fine. What are you making? ” 

“Pasta.” Phil stirred the sauce, praying it wasn't burning.“Just spaghetti, with optional meatballs, a salad, and some bread.” 

You made bread?”  

“Fuck no, I bought it frozen. I'm not touching that baking shit for a long while!” Phil exclaimed with a laugh.

Well, when you do the whole housemates thing you tend to… well…. I don’t know how to say this… ” Puffy trailed off. 

Phil snorted. “Just say it. ‘S not like you’ve ever cared much about sparing my feelings before.” 

You tend to get a little… overbearing. You turn into a total mother hen when you get tenants!  You tried baking them a whole cake last time .” 

Phil grimaced at the memory of that particular sugar-coated disaster. “Yeah, that’s why I’m doing a full dinner instead. With store-bought bread.” 

Well, you’re at least less likely to give them food poisoning this wa y.” 

“Fuck off.” 

There was a loud crash from the other end of the phone. “ Fuck, I gotta go check on Tubbo, talk to you later Phil. Try not to burn the pasta .” 

Before Phil could even reply, the tone was dead in his ear. He sighed as he took the phone from his ear and stared at it a moment. Puffy worried far too much;all he was going to do was attempt to convince his new housemates to eat dinner with him, so that he could go over the ground rules He'd also tell them that not only was he a scientist, he was dedicated to the pursuit of proving that alien life existed. 

That’s all. 

Chapter Text

Tommy didn’t have much stuff to unpack. Literally only a backpack with two extra sets of clothes, his tablet, and a few other odds and ends. It wasn’t much but it was enough. Tommy had plenty of shit, but it wasn’t exactly efficient to try and bring it with him. Besides, he wanted the genuine human experience, and that didn’t include all the shit they’d tried to give him before he left. 

He was a little disappointed that he hadn’t been allowed to bring a blaster gun for self-protection though. 

Tommy had shoved his measly amount of clothes into the drawers and buried his tablet under the pillows on the bed. He’d turn it on and get it connected to the right satellites later. Now he just wanted a nap. Sleeping on the ground… well while it had been far from his first tie doing so, the Badlands had really fucking good beds and he might be a bit spoiled to them now. His back hurt. 

Is that what being old was like? Bad never complained about his back though and he was fucking ancient. Maybe it was human shit since he had a human form now. Normally, his favorite form wasn’t quite so set in stone. His bones were normally a bit stronger and his pints made to last longer. Stupid human bones. Maybe he could revisit his favorite form while he was in bed. Shifting back to that wasn’t hard, even without his usual visual aids, but was it risky? The door locked but that Techno fellow seemed odd and strong. Would he just push through the flimsy lock? 

Tommy was interrupted from his very important musings when a sharp knock sounded at his door. “Tommy, come out. Phil said that he prepared dinner for us! He said we need to at least come downstairs, even if we don’t eat.” 

It was Wilbur on the other side of the door, sounding very excited. Dinner was food, wasn’t it? Tommy wasn’t sure how often humans needed to be fed, but he was sure it was probably at least once a day, and he hadn’t eaten since before he’d entered the Milky Way and shifted fully into a human form. 

It was probably time to eat. Maybe that would stop some of the aches in his body. The stupid human body, he didn’t quite understand yet. It was easy to take on the form of a new species, but the learning curve was always a bitch. 

“Coming!” he called, rolling off his bed. He was glad that humans were communal eaters too. It was an almost fifty-fifty shot with most species whether they felt comfortable eating around others or not. That had caused many incidents, where communal dinners on ships turned into fights because someone looked at an Enderian wrong. 

Tommy himself didn’t like sharing off his plate, but the camaraderie of other people was something that he’d had for a good chunk of his life. That was one point in the humans’ favor, in Tommy’s book at least. And since he was the one here, his book was the only one. 

Tommy pulled the door open, where Wilbur was waiting, looking a bit stupid with a grin plastered on his face. “Ready?” 

“Fuck yeah,” Tommy said as he followed Wilbur down the steps. Wilbur seemed like an interesting human, even if he was too tall. “Are you?” 

“Oh yes!” Wilbur said, “Phil said we’re having spaghetti. It’s such a delicious meal, isn’t it?” 

Tommy had no fucking clue what spaghetti was. But, if Wilbur liked it and if Phil made it for a communal dinner it had to be common, right? And if it was common people probably did think it was really good.

“Are you kidding, big man? Spaghetti is so pog. It’s the best meal.” Tommy said. He hoped to the stars that he wasn’t about to eat the nastiest shit of his life. 

“Glad you agree,” Wilbur said, leading him down the steps, like Tommy wouldn’t remember the way. Maybe Humans had shit memories. 

“Wait, are you going to get Technoblade?” Tommy asked, stopping abruptly about halfway down the steps. Wilbur, the lanky bastard, nearly toppled them over.

Wilbur huffed, as he righted himself a bit awkwardly. “No.” 

“Why not?” Tommy asked, “That’s a bit rude innit?”

“He’s rude.” Wilbur protested “He doesn’t deserve it.” 

“If you don’t, Phil will probably just go get Techno himself.” Tommy pointed out. Phil seemed like the type of guy who liked everyone. Literally. He wasn’t sure if human children were taught stranger danger but it seemed unlikely. Or maybe Phil had just skipped lessons that day since he’d literally invited him into the house with practically no vetting. He had no idea about Wilbur and Technoblade, but they both also seemed to trust him without question. They were lucky Tommy wasn’t some sort of invader or one of the Syndicate barbarians. 

“Fine.” Wilbur said, frowning “I guess I’ll go get him.” 

“Cool.” Tommy said, “I’ll meet you down there.” 

--

Wilbur wasn’t particularly familiar with the human customs of dinner. He’d tried to study it of course, but their data had been overall inconclusive. His own species wasn't particularly big on communal dinners. You might do so with your own Looming or with close friends, but strangers, especially of your own species could easily end in a fight where someone lost their food or a finger. Wilbur had spent his first several months at Camarvan eating in one of the private stations, before forcing himself to get more comfortable with it. He’d long since worked through those instincts, but it was interesting to see that humans appeared to have no reservations not only eating with but feeding others that were practical strangers. 

Especially dickish strangers like Technoblade who did nothing but be an asshole. Wilbur had banged on the door and announced that he was needed downstairs and stalked off. That was close enough to what Phil asked him to do, right? He’d then gone downstairs to monopolize the other, better, humans attention. Unfortunately, he had woken up Technoblade and the other intolerable human wandered downstairs, 

He was just- he was just sitting there- and looked smug. Fuck him. Wilbur already couldn’t stand him. Phil seemed to be a wonderful human, and he was thankful for both him and Tommy. Otherwise, he might have to change his stance on humanity. 

That was an exaggeration of course. 

Obviously. 

The table they were sitting at was a bit small with three rather tall people, and phil. They each had a different colored plat- Wilbur had no idea what they meant, exactly, considering that none of the cups exactly matched either, an assortment of shapes and colors, though roughly the same size. 

His own plate was yellow, a brighter version of the shirt he was wearing. Tommy had seemingly snatched the red plate that had been given to Technoblade and shoved his blue one at Technoblade. 

“Bruh,” Technoblade said, even as he accepted the blue plate thrust in his direction. “What was that about? That was my plate” 

“Yeah, now the big one is yours. Red fits my brand, idiot.” Tommy said loftily “My brand is very important to me.” 

“Huh?” Technoblade asked, squinting at Tommy as if he was speaking a different language. Wilbur had no idea what Tommy was talking about either, but at least he wasn’t from this planet. Technoblade was just a loser. “What brand ?” 

“Have you looked at me?” Tommy said ”I’m the biggest man. Obviously, I have a brand. And it’s red .” 

Technoblade frowned, “Okay…. So why’d you take my plate?” 

“The plate was read, you idiot.” Wilbur chimed in “Are you colorblind or something?”. Some species were colorblind or had trouble seeing colors like Piglins or saw only in monochromatic scales like Ghastlings. Humans, however, had to be able to see at least some color, based on the decorations they use, though he wasn’t sure to what degree. He should at least be able to see red though since Tommy could pick it out, so it was probably a safe enough insult.  Tommy cackled at the retort, a loud grating noise that was nothing like Phil’s laugh. 

Technoblade turned to look at Wilbur. “Yes,” he said flatly, not breaking eye contact. “I am, actually.” 

Wilbur’s eyes widened and Tommy choked on his laughter, a horrible noise that did not sound good for humans to make. “Oh shit.” Wilbur said “I- uh” 

He hadn’t really meant to go for an actual affliction, the guy that. That was just a rude move and he wanted the moral high ground over Technoblade if nothing else. The moral high ground made everything better. 

“Are you makin’ fun of me?” Technoblade asked, and his voice was so damn flat Wilbur had no idea what he was thinking. If Technoblade tried to get physically violent, the guy was certainly more muscular than Wilbur, and there would be little he could do about it unless he wanted to use his teeth, which would immediately reveal him as Not Human. 

Even if he used his teeth, he wasn’t entirely sure he could win the fight. Humans were notoriously good at fighting and Wilbur was a scientist. Getting into a fight with a human probably wouldn’t be his smartest move ever, ok? 

“No, no, no, no,” Wilbur said, holding his hands up in what he hoped was a human-like placating manner. “I would never do that, I was kidding-” 

“I’m back!” Phil announced, interrupting what was, unfortunately, going to be Wilbur’s apology. “Sorry mates, all my drinks were in the garage fridge.” Phil had an armful of cans and bottles that he dumped unceremoniously on the table, between the covered dish that Wilbur assumed had food. 

He took a look around the table and tilted his head, looking… confused maybe? “You lot alright?” 

“Wilbur is makin’ fun of me because I’m color blind,” Technoblade said blankly looking at Phil. His mouth tilted downward slightly at the corners. “I’m terribly upset if you can’t tell.” 

“I was joking!” Wilbur said, a bit desperately. He didn’t want to get kicked out yet. Could they kick him out over this? Would they? This wasn’t something he’d come across in human studies! “I didn’t mean to-” 

Phil burst out laughing and Wilbur met Tommy’s eyes briefly and he looked just as lost as Wilbur did. At least he might not look entirely stupid then. 

“Wilbur, mate.” Phil said “Technoblade is just messing with you. He’s joking. He’s not mad” 

Wilbur turned to look at Techno again, and he’d be damned if Techno wasn’t slightly smiling, looking far too pleased with himself. Fuck that guy, as the humans would say. It was also a rough translation of his favorite common curse. 

“I am colorblind though.” Technoblade said, “But I was just kiddin’ about bein’ mad Wilbur. You didn’t know.” 

“You’re an asshole.” Wilbur snapped, casting what he hoped was an appropriate glare in Technoblade’s direction. “Seriously.” 

The others all laughed, even Technoblade let out a low rumbling chuckle. Wilbur wasn’t kidding though. It wouldn’t do to fight in front of Phil though, so he forced his own laugh and turned to Phil. “Are we ready to eat?” 

“Oh yeah! Absolutely.” Phil said, leaning over to uncover the dishes. There were only three- a mix of vegetables, likely some sort of Earth salad, a bowl full of small balls of meat, and a pan with what appeared to be some sort of noodle with red sauce on them. The moment that Wilbur saw the meat though, it took quite a bit of self-control to not immediately start piling those on his plate. 

He had a balanced diet, but a Phantasm’s primary diet was meat. On Pogtopia, it was once common to hunt for meat and eat it raw. These days only those who lived outside of the main cities such as Pit did so. Wilbur, who lived in the city, rarely hunted, but his Looming had rarely cooked their meat. 

Once he’d moved to Camarvan, he’d begun to eat it cooked, mostly out of convenience, and these days he hardly had a preference. Meat was meat and that was his primary diet. 

And it was right there. But, no one else was getting food yet, so he managed to hold off. 

“Well, we have spaghetti here with plain tomato sauce,” Phil said, gesturing to the noodles. “Nothing special, all from store-bought cans and boxes, but no meat since I dunno if any of you have dietary restrictions. There are meatballs you can have, and a salad too. Parmesan cheese is on the table too. Oh! And we have water, cola, and, uh, this green tea shit Puffy keeps stocked. I hate it, but she drinks it at an alarming rate, so I guess some people think it’s good. Dig in!” 

Phill immediately reached out and took a serving of the spaghetti onto his plate, before offering the large bowl to Tommy who was sitting to his left. Tommy took it with eager eyes. If Tommy was so excited, it must be delicious. 

As he did so, a strange, loud noise sounded from Tommy’s direction. It wasn’t terribly loud but Wilbur’s ears were somewhat sensitive and it made him startle. Technoblade did too, turning to look at Tommy. Even Tommy’s eyes widened almost comically. It would be comical if that sound wasn’t so horrible. Was Tommy ill? He’d mentioned earlier that he’d spent the night in the rain, which, while it wasn’t as detrimental to humans as it would be to a  Phantasm like himself, but it probably wasn’t good for humans was it? 

Maybe he was sick? Or- 

Phil laughed. Loudly. “Hungry there mate? Your stomach sounds like a fuckin’ wild dog.” 

Tommy’s cheeks dusted light pink “Yeah, well, I hadn’t fucking eaten since yesterday. Maybe I’m a little hungry.” 

Phil snorted “No shit then, course your stomach is growling like that. I’m always starving like that too when I forget to eat for a day or two.” 

“Yeah” Tommy agreed as he plopped some spaghetti on his plate “I’m fucking famished.”

Huh. Wilbur thought that humans generally needed to eat at least once a day, if not more. That had been part of the reasoning for the fridge shrine. Fuck, he’d only been here a day and things were already so different than he expected. Tommy reached out and took one of the drinks that was in a metallic can- cola- and stared at it a moment before opening it 

And that meant he’d have to adjust his own eating habits. But, he wasn’t sure. More observation was needed before he could decide for sure. 

“Isn’t missin’ meals unhealthy?” Technoblade asked as he took the spaghetti bowl from Tommy. He sounded a little uncertain. “Don’t, hu- uh people, need to eat every day?”  

“You sound like Puffy,” Phil said, as he picked up the meatball plate, served himself, and passed it to Tommy. Wilbur knew that he was supposed to look at Phil while he was talking, as human custom, but he was hungry, and couldn’t keep his eyes off the meat “‘Eat three meals a day, Phil, it’s bad for you not to’. Bah, that’s shit. Gotta keep your metabolism on its toes, I say. And it’s not like she eats regular either, the hypocrite.” 

Technoblade snorted, and Wilbur had no idea if it was the man’s version of a normal laugh or something. He handed the dish of noodles to Wilbur. There was still quite a bit left. Wilbur had no idea how much to take. 

See, he didn’t know the nutritional value of any of this. His species required a pretty high amount of nutrients to function on a regular basis and he… really had no idea what he was looking at. 

He glanced at Phil’s plate and at Technoblade’s. They both had… quite a bit of spaghetti so Wilbur didn’t hesitate before piling his plate high. Maybe he put a little more on his plate, but some humans probably at a lot, right?

“Sounds like Puffy keeps your life together.” Wilbur chimed in, hoping to keep the conversation together. 

“Yeah, a bit.” Phil agreed “Don’t fucking tell her I said that though, she already thinks I’m incapable.” 

Silence fell a moment, as they finished passing the food around. Wilbur skipped the salad- vegetables were something he could eat, but when presented with other options, he’d always take those. Without hesitation, he took a large bite. 

It was in that moment he realized that there was a possibility he could be allergic to human food and would have no idea until he started reacting to it. 

He choked. 

Well, not really, but he did inhale a little bit of the sauce, and his sensitive set of double lungs did not enjoy it.

“You alright mate?” Phil asked Wilbur, who was still coughing. He reached out, as if to touch Wilbur’s back.

Wilbur nodded frantically. Pushing back from the table, out of Phil’s reach. Yeah, his wings might be invisible, but if Phil reached out and grabbed them, he’d definitely fucking notice- “Fine.” he rasped, attempting a smile  “I’m fine. Just uh, inhaled a little sauce.” 

“Bruh, what a loser.” Technoblade said, “Man can’t even eat sauce right.” 

“That’s not very pog,” Tommy said seriously. At least that’s what it sounded like, around his mouthful of food. That was disgusting and if Wilbur didn’t feel like one of his lungs would come out of his chest, he’d say it. 

Wilbur glared at Technoblade who was still laughing at his misfortune like the bastard he was. At this point, he was pretty sure he wasn’t allergic, or he’d have already died, but he wasn’t having a  good time. He’d only ever had one allergic reaction and it had been immediate and violent. Thankfully those flowers were only grown on a distant planet in the Badlands Confederation and inside the Camarvan Greenhouse. At least he wasn't dying. That would be so embarrassing.

“Fuck off.” Wilbur rasped as he finally caught his breath, scooting back up to the table. “Like you’ve never choked before,” 

“I haven’t,” Techoblade said flatly “I know how to chew.” 

“Phil,” Wilbur said, aghast, at the sheer audacity of this man. He was blemishing the good name of the human race. “He's disparaging me.” 

“He’s just teasing, mate.” Phil said with a chuckle “But Techno, C’mon, give Wilbur a break. He did almost die there.” 

Wilbur wasn’t really sure if Phil was joking or not, based on his tone. He didn’t seem concerned enough for someone to be dying, but he also didn’t exactly sound like he was joking. 

He glanced at Technoblade, in hopes of discerning the tone, but Techno’s eyes were wide and slightly concerned if he read it right. 

Would…. Would that have killed a human? Humans seemed so durable and- 

“Don’t be a pussy Phil, it takes more than that to kill a big man like me or Wilbur, right?” Tommy interrupted. 

“You’re tiny,” Technoblade said, sounding sceptical. “A strong gust of wind could blow you over. Are you even an adult?” 

Tommy’s face flushed a dark shade of red that Wilbur wasn’t sure was healthy. Were humans supposed to do that? “Fuck you, I am an adult and am the biggest man ever.” 

“I do not…. That doesn’t make sense Tommy.” 

“Fuck you.”Tommy said, before taking a large sip of his ‘Cola’. Immediately his eyes went wide. 

“What the fuck!” Tommy exclaimed, What’s in this shit?” 

He was holding the can of cola out from him like it had personally offended him. 

Phil snorted “It’s just cola mate- Coke I think. It’s like carbonation and sugar, mostly.” He frowned “Have you never had once before? Were your parents some sort of health freaks?” 

Tommy nodded vigorously “Yep, fucking, uh, health freaks, my uh, parents. Never had this shit.” 

“Man, that’s fucked mate.” Phil said “Never understood why parents restricted their kids like that. No offense mate.” 

Tommy looked a bit like he’d swallowed something particularly sour. Wilbur couldn’t quite relate, since he didn’t exactly have parents, just a loose group of adults and other kids who made sure no one went hungry or unclothed. Wilbur hadn’t ever really had parents. He was sure some of the adults in his Looming were biologically related to him, but it had never been specified and he’d never cared enough to ask. Humans, along with many other animals, worked differently. Humans tended to be particularly pack or family oriented and usually didn’t take kindly to insults to their family. Phil had to be a brave man to insult Tommy's parents like that, but Tommy thankfully didn’t seem inclined to retaliate. 

Technoblade, during the exchange, had picked up one of the other cans and was squinting at the back. “Bruh, do these have caffeine in them?” 

“Some, I think.” Phil said, “I mean, not nearly enough, but it’ll probably make Tommy fucking vibrate since I doubt he was allowed to drink coffee either.” 

“Isn’t caffeine somewhat dangerous? It can addle the mind and destroy the body.” Technoblade seemed to hesitate after his declaration. “At least, that’s what I’ve always been told?” 

“Caffeine is wonderful.” Phil said, sounding a touch offended “I dunno who told you that, but I mean really, who doesn’t have a caffeine addiction. It’s a miracle substance.”

“Uh-” Technoblade said, left with no comeback. Wilbur, in this instance, hated to be on Technoblade’s side, but what the fuck. Humans just… drank caffeine? For fun? It certainly wasn’t deadly to all species, but it was generally a big no, because of how addictive it was. Even Wilbur, who knew that Phantasms didn’t have a bad reaction, stayed away. It tended to overload their systems and prevent them from sleeping for days. Maybe he should just stick to the water that he was provided. That was a safe drink. 

“Anyway, whatever, I did actually have a reason for dinner, besides to talk about cola or caffeine or so that you all could argue with one another.” Phil continued, as Wilbur finally risked another bite of his food. It was pretty good when he wasn’t choking on it. “I wanted to tell the three of you a few ground rules for the house- I don’t have many. Mostly just, like respect each other’s shit? Don’t take food that isn’t yours unless you have permission. Uh, don’t make a huge mess and not clean it up. The fridge is free game but like, don’t hog all the space.” 

Wilbur thankfully had already swallowed or he would have choked again. The fridge? He got to use the fridge? He’d only been in the house a few hours and had permission to use it! 

This was it. Forget about Technoblade, getting to use the fridge made up for everything that asshole had done. Eret and all the lab workers could kiss his ass. 

“Shit what else, uhh, that’s most of it. The house is pretty free-range except for bedrooms that aren’t yours, and the basement.” Phil said, “Which kinda leads me to my next point that I wanted to bring up to you guys.” 

Wilbur was trying not to scarf his food down like an animal but despite how interesting Phil was (truly, human house rules? He couldn’t believe it!) he was so hungry, he was only halfway paying attention. 

“I’m a scientist.’ Phil said “I work for a private research company based here in London, and am technically an astrophysicist. I study space and time and, well, physics. I work from home a lot, so there are documents and projects around, that I will try to keep contained to the basement, but I ask that you not go down there without me, just because a lot of that shit can be dangerous.”

“That’s amazin’ Phil.’ Technoblade said, “So you’ve been studying space?” 

“That is technically my job.” Phil said “And well, while I enjoy it that’s not my true passion. Now, Puffy said I shouldn’t tell you about this, but I think that’s bullshit since we’ll all be living together. I don’t believe in secrets, and you all seem like pretty nice dudes. Much nicer than my last roommates, I’m sure.”

Phil seemed to be rambling. When he was done Wilbur was beyond ready to talk to him about science. Earth Science! How lucky was he that his human landlord was a scientist too? This was the best!

“Anyway, all that to say, I have devoted my life to looking for and researching aliens” 

Wilbur choked again. 

----

Phil thought things were going rather well. Sure, Wilbur had choked almost twice, but really, it happened on occasion. Spaghetti was a bit of a choking hazard. Maybe he shouldn’t make it again. 

Technoblade had been positive about the space and Wilbur had looked excited, until he started choking again. 

“Aliens” Tommy exclaimed, looking floored “Philza Minecraft, you look for aliens?” 

Phil frowned. He’d hoped Tommy would believe, if not one else since he was a little younger. Didn’t all the kids believe in aliens these days? 

“Of course I do.” Phil said “The universe is massive, Tommy. The probability of other life existing is not just there, it is highly likely. Most people believe in aliens, you know. It’s not that far out there to believe it.” 

“I believe in aliens.” Wilbur proclaimed loudly, interrupting them, a little bit of cause still on his face.

 “You do?” Phil had figured if any of them were the least likely to believe it would be Wilbur. But, apparently, he was wrong. “Mate that’s brilliant.” 

“Hey, I never said I didn’t believe, \fuck you. Tommy said defensively. “I just didn’t expect you to!” 

“I don’t” Technoblade cut in “Sorry, Phil, I hope I’m not offendin’ you, but aliens just aren’t real. If they were, why wouldn’t they already be on Earth?” 

“Oh, they already are!” Phil said because they obviously were. He had no doubt that somewhere, an alien had come to Earth to study humans or something. He was ceratin that somewhere, somehow, an alien was on Earth. He’d believed that for years.  “There are aliens on earth right this second!”  Technoblade wasn’t being rude, at least, and IT seemed that Wilbur and Tommy both at least somewhat supported him. This was better than he could have hoped for! His last tenants hadn’t taken it nearly as well!

Tommy started coughing, and Wilbur dropped his fork, While Technoblade stared at him a little slack-jawed. They seemed to be shocked by that, but it was okay! He could explain it! He had so much research to show them! He could- wait, what was that smell? Was something burning? 

His eyes widened “Oh shit!” he exclaimed, jumping up from the table “I fucking forgot the bread!” 

 

Chapter Text

 “They’re great, Puffy, really," 

“Now, tell me exactly how that went down?” Puffy asked. Her voice was tinny over Phil’s admittedly shitty phone speaker and he was almost certain she was in the car on her way home from work. After dinner, Phil had slipped down to the lab and worked until Puffy’s ringtone had broken his haze of concentration. She tended to get back late on certain nights and had just left work. 

“Well, we had dinner and it went pretty well," Phil explained “Techno is apparently color blind, Tommy has never had cola, and Wilbur… Wilbur didn’t have much to say but nrealy fucking choked on his sphagetti, and-” 

“Phil. I meant the whole alien thing," Puffy interrupted gently “I think that’s where the problem was last time," 

“Oh yeah! That bit! It was great Puffy. Wilbur was very supportive and Tommy was surprised but seemed to take it well enough. Technoblade disagreed, but really, it’s not that big of a deal, I think I can convince him that they’re real," 

Puffy muttered something that sounded suspiciously like ‘Of course you want to’.Phil chose to ignore it.  “Well, “ Puffy said, in a more normal tone “Don’t push them too much about it," 

“Nah I won’t,” Phil said “Wilbur seemed really interested in it though! Which is fucking brilliant and Techno- I’m sure he’ll come round," 

“I hope so," Puffy agreed, though she sounded exhausted. She’d probably worked too hard and Phil felt a little bad for adding his own stress to her. 

“You want to meet them soon?” Phil asked hopefully. 

“I don’t want to overwhelm them. They also might not want to meet me, Phil- they do have their own lives, you know," Puffy said. 

Phil had not considered that. It had been less than a day, but not a single one of the others had mentioned anyone else. Technoblade also seemed very unsure of how to interact with people. “I dunno Puffy, I’m pretty sure Tommy was raised by controlling freaks of some sort, and I think Technoblade might have been amish," 

“You don’t even know what Amish is” Puffy argued “That’s mostly an American thing. Besides, no Amish man is named Technoblade” 

“I think Techno is american," Phil suggested. “Also, he said he changed his name," 

“He changed his name? To Technoblade? Phil, is he… is he a felon?” Puffy exclaimed “Or just- what?” 

“I think he’s got a shitty family dude. He doesn’t seem like a felon. You’re just stereotyping," 

“His name is Technoblade. Voluntarily . You can’t tell me that doesn’t sound like a gang name," 

“You literally go by Puffy, Carolyn ," 

There was a beat of silence and Phil couldn’t help but grin. Bingo. “Motherfucker, you know I hate that," 

“We also called you Captain in College” Phil continued and Puffy groaned from the other end of the line. 

“Gotcha there don’t I," Phil said triumphantly. He knew exactly what buttons to push to get Puffy to agree. 

“I hate you,” Puffy said flatly and Phil cackled, shuffling through his papers. Where had he put the results from the last test? “But you made your point. Fine. I’ll give them a chance, but only if they want to meet me. At not until after at least noon. I’m sleeping in and Tubbo probably will since he’s probably still up," 

“Fair enough. Just come over tomorrow night-  er tonight- like normal,  if you want- we’ll order take out, and if they want to join in they can," Phil suggested.

“Sounds good," Puffy said, “Well, I’m almost home and I can hear something beeping in the background, so go check that, and I will talk to you tomorrow, okay?” 

“Alright," Phil said, ‘Yeah, fuck, I need to check that. Labs got me working on a new theoretical tech design and- fuck, shit, gotta go!” 

Phil hung up and hurried to his machine. Things were going well! The others would love Puffy and Puffy would come around. As defensive as she acted, Puffy was a big softie. Everything was looking up!

Well. As long as he didn’t burn the house down trying to test the durability or the new materials design.

----

Tommy had to admit that he was pretty sure that his human heart had stopped for a second when Phil announced that he was sure aliens were on Earth. Of course, Phil had kept rambling and seemed to explain that he didn’t think that he knew any- just that he figured they were already there. 

Tommy knew he’d been doing a fucking poggers job and was far too good to be caught. Wilbur and Technoblade seemed to have pretty similar reactions to him, so it Tommy was pretty sure he’d pulled off a fucking flawless reaction. Eat shit bitches. That had been several hours ago now and Tommy was pretty sure all the humans were sleeping. Tommy himself wasn’t particularly tired. In fact, he still felt a bit energized from dinner. 

He was sure the fact that he couldn’t stop shaking his leg was normal. Maybe.  But, he was bored and all the humans were probably out of the way, so it was safe to send a report in the middle of the Earth night.

“Might leave those bit out of the report though,” Tommy muttered as he booted up the tablet he’d been given to send out reports on. He was supposed to send one every week, and he figured he’d been around two days- that was probably long enough. Besides, everyone back home was probably freaking out a little, since he forgot to send one when he landed. He wondered who was freaking out the most. Actually, the answer was Bad, and Tommy knew it. The guy was such a worrywart, as the humans said.  

Oops. 

It took a moment for the sleek tablet to come on, but when it did, a tiny figure ran across the screen, a little virtual assistant, and Tommy couldn’t help but let out a choked laugh.Of course. Of course .  

Fucking- hello Sam Nook," Tommy practically whispered, since he didn’t want to alert the others he was sending a top-secret report back home. That wouldn't do at all. He wondered if Tehnoblade’s facial expression would actually change at that revelation, since it had hardly moved at all during dinner, even when Wilbur had apparently, maybe, died. 

“HELLO TOMY-ENET” Sam Nook chattered quietly, his pixelated face lighting up with a smile “HOW CAN I HELP YOU?”  The speaker on the tablet was quiet enough that it was hard for Tommy to hear, let alone anyone in another room.

“I need to file a report, big man,” Tommy whispered back. His heart definitely wasn't warned by the familiar little AI jumping for joy on his screen. Nope. He was- he was annoyed. He couldn't believe they programmed part of Sam Nook into his tablet to watch him! He wasn't a little kid! 

Sam Nook was useful though. 

“VERY GOOD!” Sam Nook proclaimed as the report field loaded onto the tablet screen. “TRANSCRIBE?” 

“I’ll write it, big man,” Tommy said since it was probably a little risky to write a report about humans by speaking it out loud, while in a house with humans. Humans had sharp fucking ears, he’d found out. He also didn’t want to risk typing it in English and was going with an old reliable he wasn't sure the human vocal box could replicate. 

“PLEASE NOTIFY ME IF YOU NEED ANY HELP!” Sam Nook proclaimed before vanishing from the screen. Simply calling his name would summon the assistant again. It wasn’t quite the same as having the full AI and robot himself, but… fucking sappy he was. He was glad to have a piece of home with him. 

Tommy’s report was short and to the point- I’m alive, Humans are fucking poggers, Earth smells kinda weird, Cola is delicious 10/10 would recommend.- Only the most important things went in, obviously. 

He skimmed it once, twice, before hitting the finalize button. “Sam Nook," he whispered and the figure popped back up on the screen. 

“YES, TOMY-ENET?” 

“Can you send it off?” 

The screen buffered for a moment, before the file vanished, sending a transmission across several galaxies in a near instant. “AWE-SAM DUDE WILL BE PLEASED WITH YOUR CORRESPONDENCE” 

Tommy snorted. “Course he will be. And thanks, Sam Nook," 

“YOU ARE WELCOME. DO YOU NEED ANYTHING ELSE?” 

“Nope, that’s all from me, big man," Tommy said. Sam Nook nodded and vanished from the screen. Tommy sighed. He knew that his file was sent out in an encoded beyond reason file and would be back home in no time, pinging on a secure server only a handful of people even knew existed. 

Of course, there was no way to know for sure. Even with all of Sam’s technology, there was no way for the Badlands to send a secure file back to earth without raising the alarms of Earthlings like Phil who monitored every signal that came in. (Course, it would likely be conveyed in a language humans and their slightly less developed brains had no hopes of translating). They might be able to disguise it but it was risky so they’d agreed it would be outgoing messages from Earth only, unless there was an emergency. 

Tommy sighed and powered the tablet off. He wouldn’t be hearing anything from his dad any time soon, so he may as well try to sleep. 

…...

Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. 

His brain was still buzzing a bit and he was hungry again. Humans needed to eat often, apparently. It didn’t exactly help that even when using another form, his own species generally had a higher caloric intake than most others. So not only did humans apparently need to eat a lot, that meant Tommy needed to eat a little bit more in order to sustain his form for the foreseeable future. 

It was good Phil had pointed out the signs, though, they were a bit different than the ones he was used to, okay? Human bodies were fucking weird. 

Since everyone was asleep, maybe he’d slip down to the kitchen and see what was around. Phil had said that there were a few snacks out that were free game, and even though humans were supposed to be sleeping, it would be fine to go downstairs. He could be sneaky. 

He was Tommy fucking Innit-Dude, Badlands rep, and human impersonator extraordinaire. He could do this with no problem

-- 

Wilbur should be tired. 

Any human should be exhausted, considering he was creeping up on Earth hour forty-two without sleep.  

He wasn’t tired. 

Wilbur had been laying on his human (!) bed for hours, unable to sleep, because, unfortunately, one thing that Wilbur couldn’t hide well, was the fact that he rarely slept. 

Sure, he did sleep. Every species needed at least some sleep, but his species had long ago evolved to only need sleep a few hours every two to three days. He’d even risked getting out some of his more advanced technology and streamed some calming sounds from Pogtopia directly to his music implant, but that hadn’t done much. He didn’t want to listen to the sounds of his home planet when he could be listening to the sounds of Earth!

And Wilbur was too excited to sleep anyway. 

Not when so many human things were here, right at his fingertips. His hands and mind itched to explore all of it. As excited as he was about the fridge, there were so many other things. He wanted to study the way the houses were built, the ground beneath his feet, the flowers, the cars, the everything . He wanted to know how humanity worked, so that when the time came, L’Manburg could make first contact in the most peaceful way possible. 

It had to be perfect so that they could protect the humans from the Syndicate and the Badlands, who were far more likely to invade the planet. 

It was his duty. And he was a scientist . He wanted to study it. This was what he devoted his life to! How was he supposed to just ignore it when he was living among it? 

He simply couldn’t. 

Wilbur swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up. He’d changed into more night time appropriate wear, but it still covered enough of his skin that he didn’t need to reapply any of the heavy-duty body paint he’d applied before he landed on Earth. It kept his skin from looking grey unless it was in direct light, in which case he just looked really, really pale. 

It was great! 

Wilbur’s wings, unfortunately, had to be tucked back under his shirt. They were still invisible, due to the thin netting contraption that Fundy had designed for this mission specifically (resistant to water, fire, heat, and cold) but there wasn’t a way to make them intangible, really, so he had to keep them pressed tightly against his back. Oversized sweaters hid the skeletal-looking appendages well enough. 

Besides, it was dark and it wasn’t like he’d see another human. 

Wilbur tiptoed down the hallway, and he could hear snoring coming from Tehcnoblade’s room. That fucker was annoying even in his sleep. Bastard.

Since Wilbur’s eyes were adapted to hunt in low light, it was pretty easy to make his way through the somewhat familiar halls in the dark. He climbed down the stairs and debated his next move. The living room Phil had pointed out was more unfamiliar with him- it would be fun to poke around, but he had a better idea of the kitchen layout. 

He needed something tangible to send back in his report to Eret, and he was more likely to get something from the kitchen (no this had nothing to do with the kitchen, that was simply a fortunate coincidence). 

Wilbur stepped into the kitchen. He’d go for food, instead of the fridge maybe, try to get some idea of- 

Wilbur froze. 

The fridge door was open, and standing in the light that illuminated, holding something close to his chest, was Tommy. 

“Tommy?” Wilbur whispered, surprised to see the youngest human awake and eating at… Wilbur wasn't exactly sure what time it was, but it was nearer to sunrise than sunset for sure. 

“Wilbur!” Tommy exclaimed, looking a little surprised. He straightened up and Wilbur winced in sympathy as Tommy slammed his head into the top part of the fridge. “Fuck!," he exclaimed loudly, dropping the item in his hand, and it rolled across the floor. Wilbur instinctively stopped it with his foot, and he bent over to pick it up. It was a… fruit of some sort. 

“Sorry, Tommy are you alright?” Wilbur asked, a bit guilty. He hadn’t meant to scare Tommy like that. It was kinda funny, except, fuck what was the maximum range of head trauma that a human could sustain before death or severe impairment? 

“I’m fine,” Tommy snapped, rubbing the back of his head. “But what are you doing up right now bitch?” 

Wilbur swallowed hard. He’d been caught. This was bad. This was really, really,- wait. “What are you doing up?” Wilbur pressed, narrowing his eyes. Tommy froze. 

“I..I was hungry," Tommy snapped. His arms were corsets and he looked a little...angry? Defensive? Wilbur wasn’t sure but it wasn't a positive emotion. “I just wanted to get a night time snack. Got a problem with that bitch?” 

Apparently human snacked at night? Was it a group activity? Or was it normally a singular activity? Tommy was doing it alone, but perhaps it was a more intimate ritual and-

 Wilbur’s hands itched to take notes, but damage control was more pertinent. He couldn’t take notes if he got locked up and caught as an alien. Eret would end him if he got locked up, anyway. They’d rescue him, probably, then punt him into the nearest star. Wilbur wouldn’t be able to talk his way out of that one. 

“I was trying to get my own snack. Didn’t expect to find a child blocking the fridge” Wilbur said confidently, even though he wasn’t all that confident. But maybe if he distracted Tommy with a light insult. 

Then the back door opened and the room was flooded with light from overhead. Wilbur hissed (perhaps a little bit too inhumanly) but Tommy’s yelp of surprise more than covered the noise. His eyes ached as they adjusted to the light. 

“Tommy? Wilbur?” It was Phil. Oh shit, it was Phil. Wilbur was up in the middle of the night. Humans slept at night! 

But, then again, Tommy was up to and so was Phil. Perhaps his data was off? Tommy didn’t seem to think it was odd so maybe, maybe he could talk his way out of this. He’d always been pretty good at that if he said so himself. He plastered on a smile, careful not to reveal his sharp teeth.  “What are the two of you doing?” 

“I was getting a snack," Tommy admitted “I uh, was getting an apple or some shit. Wilbur scared the fuck out of me though," 

“I also wanted a snack," Wilbur said, even though he really didn’t want a snack. “Not my fault Tommy is an easily scared child," 

“I’m not a child," Tommy snapped “I’m an adult! I’m eighteen. Old fucker," 

“Oh cool," Phil said, a little awkwardly, still standing in the doorway. He seemed to be ignoring Tommy’s insults, so Wilbur did the same. 

“What are you doing down here at this time of night Phil?” 

Phil snorted “First of all, it’s technically my house, mate. Second, I just finished up some work. Took a quick nap in the lab, did some more work and was coming up here to change clothes and shower. It’s almost four, so It'll be time for me to nap again after all that” 

“Aren’t you supposed to sleep all night?” Wilbur asked, frowning in confusion. “Not… nap?” Wilbur also didn’t exactly know what a shower was- he knew that humans sometimes called precipitation, a ‘shower’ but he could see outside- it was clearly not participating. But, it would be a bit too weird to ask that, right? The nap was a safer question because Wilbur was almost certain that they had human sleep schedules correct. 

“Oh fuck off," Phil grumbled as he pushed past them toward the counter. He had several dirty cups in his hand, which he deposited a bit recklessly beside the sink “Segmented sleeping is a very valid sleep schedule and you and all those so-called sleep doctors can fuck off with your opinions about it 

Wilbur’s eyes widened at the hostility. Okay, so sleep schedules were sensitive topics? And apparently  “What the hell is segmented sleeping?” 

“Most people who do it do biphasic sleeping. Two really long naps, instead long sleep. I do mine for usually a couple of hours, spread throughout the day whenever I really feel like it. And don’t listen to Puffy when she says that it doesn't work. I’ve been doing it for over five years now and I’m just fine," 

Phil shook his head “anyway, whatever. We’ll talk about this later. I’m going to shower. You two can.. I don’t care. I’m not here to enforce your bedtimes, you’re old enough to do what you please. Just don’t break anything too expensive," 

“I always got in trouble if I don't get at least seven hours in one go," Tommy said, with something a  little like wonder in his tone. “Phil, you’re the only man ever. You're the best. The Poggest," 

Phil cackled and Wilbur couldn’t help but laugh too. “Sure mate, whatever the fuck that means. I’m heading off to the shower I’ll talk to you fuckers later," 

Wilbur and Tommy stared at one another for a moment in somewhat awkward silence after Phil left. A moment later, Wilbur could hear something click and the sound of running water. The shower. 

 “Here’s your apple," Wilbur said, offering the wayward fruit he was holding back to Tommy, trying to break the awkward silence, where Tommy was studying him with slightly narrowed eyes. Tommy couldn’t know anything, right?. His wings twitched under his shirt, and it took a lot of willpower not to let them flutter nervously.  

Tommy glared at it a moment before snatching it back., and cradling it to his chest. “Don’t take my fruit, bitch,"

“I was literally giving it back to you!” Wilbur exclaimed shrilly, then winced, lowering his voice “What’s your problem?” 

“I don’t have a problem," Tommy grumbled, glaring at him “ You have a problem," 

“What are you even talking about?” Wilbur was glad to know that human teenagers, because Wilbur was pretty sure that Tommy was only just a human adult if he was telling the truth, were just as annoying as space teenagers. 

Tommy sniffed, crossing his arms. “You wouldn’t understand. It’s Big man shit. I’m the biggest man of course," 

“Oh, I see," Wilbur said, though he definitely did not see. What did that even mean?. “I see you being a little shit," 

Wilbur had learned that from Phil when he’d called Tommy the same thing earlier. Human slang was awesome and he was using it perfectly. Obviously. Fundy was going to be so jealous. 

“That’s just rude," Tommy said, shaking his head. “Fucking old and bald you are," 

Wilbur scowled. He knew what old was and bald… was Tommy insulting his hair? Wilbur’s hair, that’d he'd painstakingly dyed brown, as best he could, to hide the unsaturated greys and white that he naturally had. A few strands were too stubborn to take the dye but he didn’t think that made him look old. 

“I’m only, uh, twenty-four," Wilbur snapped, sounding very certain. That was probably about how old he was in human years. His species measured age by the maturity and spines along the wing bones. “I’m not old, you’re just a child. A baby. A little child, who apparently never learned any manners," 

“Oi, I have manners, dickhead, you’re just not worthy of them, since you stole my fruit-” 

“Okay, you two are being way too loud," Phil said, reappearing back at the door. He had apparently already showered. His hair was wet and was wearing far more relaxed clothes than he was earlier. So showering did involve water? It must be a human cleaning routine “Technoblade is probably trying to sleep, and I can hear the two of you arguing in my room with the door shut," 

Tommy looked appropriately guilty. “Sorry Phil," Tommy said, shoulder slouching. 

“I let myself get carried away as well, regardless of everyone else’s comfort, and I sincerely apologize," Wilbur said.Had he already messed up? One of Phil’s few rules was be respectful and he’d already broken it. What would he do if he got kicked out so soon? That would be horrifically embarrassing and he’d have to start the process over again, and that wouldn’t do, and-

“It’s okay mate. Let’s just try and not be quite so loud unless we know Techno’s up. I’m really too wired to sleep right now anyway. Near misses with explosive materials will do taht to you.” Phil said. He laughed right after so Wilbur assumed he was joking. Humans probably weren’t allowed to keep explosive materials in their homes- it would be a ridiculous safety hazard. “Anyway I usually don’t mind it since I sleep like a fucking rock, so really, it’s more Techno we have to worry about.” 

Rocks slept? Rocks did sleep on his planet, but Earth did have the reputation of being strange. He’d have to investigate whether Earth had sentient rocks next. 

“Techno is a bitch,” Wilbur said flatly. 

“You two are funny.” Phil said with a snort “I swear you two fight like kids- even worse than Tommy!” 

“I’m not a fucking kid,” Tommy protested around a mouthful of apple. 

--- 

Technoblade was still tired. Sue him. He'd had a very long, very stressful journey to Earth, he’d been rudely awoken from his earlier nap by Wilbur banging on his door, though that he might have to start invasion plans a little early, and was only then allowed to trudge back to bed. 

Now he was awake. 

Again. 

He wasn’t even sure why, but something had roused him and despite how tired he was, he could tell that it was highly unlikely that he’d be getting back to sleep any time soon. He scowled. Whatever he needed to check the time anyway. HE couldn’t oversleep if he was pretending to be human. 

Techno grabbed the small phone, his mortal enemy, and clicked the screen on. It was too bright in the early morning and when his eyes finally adjusted, he could see that it read just before seven. The sun was rising outside his window, and he supposed that despite being a little behind on his sleep schedule he had to conform to the human sleep schedule. 

That was lame. Human sleep schedules sucked and Technobalde had no doubt now that they were the inferior species. 

Unfortunately, they wouldn’t accept a report if he sent one yet. He still had to give them a chance. 

Whatever. 

Technoblade was also going to be sure and say that the human clothes were generally subpar too. That was going in his report whether his superior’s liked it or not. 

It was important information alright? 

Technoblade made his way downstairs, a little warily. So far the human dwelling seemed safe enough and he doubted that there was anything that could harm in the house (besides the damn caffeine that humans apparently drank on a regular basis) but it didn’t hurt to be careful. 

It was odd, noticing how quiet the house was. It hadn’t been so quiet since Wilbur had stumbled in the day before and definitely not since Tommy had come in. Phil was literally trying to study aliens and was still somehow more trustworthy than the other two. 

And, alright, Techno had debated Phil’s safety after his announcement last night, but Phil… he had no idea. Technoblade was certain that Phil had no idea there was someone in his house that wasn’t human. 

Phil was too excitable for that. 

But, they were all loud. Very loud. So the quiet, especially at a time when humans should be awake (the Earth sun was up after all) was concerning. Had Wilbur actually done something? Had all the humans died last night, leaving him the only survivor of some sort of deadly food poisoning? 

Was that a thing? Techno wasn't sure but he wasn’t quite so lucky to have the human pests eradicated, because there they were, Tommy sprawled out on the couch, taking up a good portion of it, asleep. Phil was also asleep, though he was sitting in a chair, with his head tilted back in a way that made Techno’s neck twinge in sympathy. Even if humans were more flexible, it was not a comfortable position to sleep in. 

“Oh! Good morning Technoblade!” Wilbur said and Technoblade did not trust his tone of voice. It sounded cheerful but Wilbur was a two-faced bastard, and Technoblade stepped into the room hesitantly. Wilbur was sitting on the one corner of the couch Tommy wasn’t sprawled out on and had a blanket tucked over him. 

He was still wearing one of his stupid sweaters. Technoblade was also wearing a sweater but that wasn’t the point.

“Good mornin’,” Technoblade said hesitantly. “Am I the last one up?”

“Not exactly. I don’t think Phil really sleeps at night, and Tommy was up very early. Phil put on a duckmentrie," 

Technoblade had no idea what that was, but he assumed it was what was quietly playing on the screen at the front of the room. Some sort of animal was on the screen. 

“Oh," Technoblade said because he wasn’t really sure what he was talking about. What was a Duckumentrie? Also, didn’t humans sleep at night? Why was Phil awake at night? Why was Tommy? Technoblade didn’t understand. 

There was a beat of awkward silence and Technoblade shifted his weight a little, averting his eyes from Wilbur’s gaze. “It’s about Elephants," Wilbur offered “They’re brilliant animals, big, tall. Very cool," 

Technoblade glanced at the screen. The animal on-screen looked… very grey. Very boring. It reminded Technobade a bit of the striders home on Netherria, though they tended to be red and had more dangerous tusks than these elephants did. 

Technoblade had to admit that they were pretty cool.  Especially their noses. 

“Why is their nose so long?” Technoblade asked, staring at the screen. 

“They use it like a hand!” Wilbur exclaimed, somewhat excitedly. “They’ve also got long memories. It’s a brilliant animal, right?” 

Technoblade hated to agree with Wilbur but- c’mon. Elephants were just cool. “Yeah," Techno agreed, staring at the TV, as a man spoke about them. Maybe Technoblade could make a joke- he knew that was how humans bonded and it seemed to have sorta worked last night, especially with Tommy “They’re way cooler than you anyway," 

“What the hell man?” Wilbur protested, crossing his arms. “I was even trying to be nice- make conversation! You didn’t have to do that!”

Oh. That joke didn’t work. Human jokes were so confusing. He would also include how much he hated them on his report.  

“Oh my god he’s just teasing you again Wil," Phil grumbled from his chair, now awake, apparently. “You gotta chill out mate," 

“I’m plenty chill, Technoblade is just an asshole. He doesn’t even look like he’s joking!” Wilbur whined. Technoblade hadn’t met a human child, but he imagined that’s what they sounded like. Annoying. 

“You’re all sensitive bitches," Tommy announced, sitting up abruptly. His gold-colored hair stuck up in several different directions, and his face was creased with long red lines. “Not a big man like me. Wilbur got demoted," 

Wilbur made an offended noise “You wound me, Tommy. I thought we were an alliance. I thought we had something special.

“We were until you tried to steal my fruit last night," Tommy said, crossing his arms. 

Technoblade stood corrected. He was pretty sure Tommy acted more like a human child. 

He definitely acted like most younglings he’d met, in most sapient species. Technoblade was certain he’d never been that annoying as a child, however. He’d probably have gotten an ear cut for as much whining and cursing as Tommy did. 

“Anyway, “Tommy barreled on “I’m hungry again," 

“Jesus fucking Christ kid,” Phil said laughing “Alright, well, as much s I don’t mind feeling you all sometimes, you’re gonna have to at least contribute to the groceries. I’m out of a lot of shit anyway, so how about a trip to the grocery store, yeah? I can show you all the best one near here," 

“Sure!” Wilbur agreed, sounding very excited “That sounds wonderful!” 

“That sounds very boring, but I am trusting you here Phil," Tommy said sagely “Don’t fuck it up," 

Phil cackled again. Technoblade wasn't sure he’d ever get used to human laughter. “I’ll do my best, mate," 

He glanced over at Technoblade “You wanna come, Techno?”

“Uh. yes?” Technoblade said. 

“Cool,” Phil said, getting off his chair. Tommy and Wilbur had dissolved into bickering that Technoblade did not have the mental energy to attempt to follow. “We’ll all get dressed and meet at my car in like fifteen minutes," 

Technoblade didn’t know what a car was, nor the grocery, but he was pretty sure that he was going to regret going. The next time they wanted to scout a new planet, the Syndicate could send literally anyone else, because he wasn’t going to do it.

Chapter Text

Technoblade was eternally grateful that Phil didn’t have enough room in his car for all of them, with the backseat full of… it looked like equipment of some sort and Techno assumed it was Earth’s primitive science equipment (though, to be fair, most science equipment was foreign to Techno.). 

He was a little less grateful that Tommy had elected to walk with him since Wilbur wanted to ride in the car. 

Tommy, while less of a bastard than Wilbur, was still annoying. 

Techno also had to follow the detestable human box giving directions. When the Syndicate launched an invasion, these damn phones were what he was going for first. He’d relish crushing them under his boots. 

“You alright there big man?” Tommy asked, attempting to peer over Technoblade’s shoulder. He also seemed unfazed by Techno’s glare. 

Maybe he wasn’t doing it right.. Technoblade narrowed his eyes more, in an attempt to replicate a human glare. “You look a bit constipated there" 

Technoblade made a noise of protest. Definitely doing it wrong then. “I’m not constipated, you’re just annoyin’” 

Tommy scoffed. “I’m not annoying, I’m simply too much of a big man for you to handle," 

“Uh-huh,” Technoblade said flatly. Tommy never seemed to shut up. Were all human adolescents that unbearable. 

“You’re no fun," Tommy pouted “I should’ve ridden with Wilbur. He’s at least entertaining. And Phil wouldn’t get us lost," 

“We aren’t lost, Tommy," Technoblade said. The annoying box in his hands was still giving him directions in it’s terribly tinny voice. tHey could’ve at least picked someone with a less irritating accent. “The… uh…. Person in the phone says we’ll be there soon," 

Techoblade refrained from a grimace at his obvious slip. 

Tommy scoffed “C’mon bro, that’s Siri. Don’t diss my woman like that," 

“Your woman?” Technoblade asked before he could stop himself. 

That was a mistake because Tommy positively lit up at the smallest encouragement. “Yes! I’m a big man, Technoblade, I’ve got lots of women. So many women. Big men like me get all the women. All the wives you know," 

Technoblade wasn’t aware of human mating rituals, but apparently, men were expected to have many partners? Obviously Tommy was lying, he barely understood humans and that much was obvious, Tommy certainly didn’t have any ‘wives’ but he wondered if Phil did. He seemed lonely, but perhaps these wives lived separately? He didn't care, of course, it was just odd. 

“You probably don’t have any wives do you, bitch boy,” Tommy taunted. “Not a single one. How sad," 

Technoblade let out a sigh. That, at least, there was a similar noise between species. “Tommy, I’m gonna hafta ask you to shut up," 

Tommy crossed his arms, pouting. "It’s because you don’t have any wives," he grumbled and Technoblade bit back a growl of frustration. That definitely wasn't a human noise and he wasn’t going to blow his cover now, for some annoying human kid. 

Even if he really, really wanted to. 

---

Finally, they made it to the grocery store, following the directions. Phil and Wilbur were sanding beside Phil’s car. The “parking lot” as Phil had called it, was pretty big, but mostly empty. Only a few other cars were there. Technoblade was glad- that meant there would be less humans around. They were… stressful. Especially when he was forced to be in close proximity to the most stressful humans on the planet and Phil. 

“You two are so slow,” Wilbur complained, pushing himself off the side of the car. “C’mon now! Let’s get inside!” 

“Technoblade got us lost," Tommy supplied proudly “It’s not my fault," 

“I did not get us lost!” Technoblade snapped, unable to help himself “Bruh, I literally followed the directions exactly. You were slowin’ us down, with your ramblin’ and complainin’” 

“I was not complaining," Tommy whined “I was going against the injustice of you insulting Siri. AI’s have feelings too you know, you bitch” 

“Aw, C’mon mate,” Phil said, and Technoblade was like 75% sure that he was amused. It was so hard to tell with humans “Don’t be mean to Siri. She does the best she can,"

“She’s not real,” Technoblade said flatly. He paused. She wasn't , right? 

Tommy practically exploded at that “Siri is very real and she has feelings! Just because she's an AI doesn’t mean that you can insult her- you’re the pussy here, bitchnoblade and-” 

Phil laughed as Tommy continued to spew insults and clapped a hand on Technoblade’s shoulder. Technoblade stiffed slightly at the sudden contact, but Phil didn’t seem to notice. 

“Tommy, mate," Phil said between peals of his (unsettling) laughter. “It’s alright. We’ll make sure that when the robot uprising happens we keep Techno safe," 

Tommy scoffed, “He wouldn’t deserve protection,” 

Wilbur, despite being, as Tommy liked to say, a bitch, made eye contact with Technoblade looking rather alarmed. 

“Robot uprising?” he mouthed.

Technoblade wasn’t sure either. He’d thought Phil was joking, but apparently, Wilbur was alarmed at the prospect. Were their robot-human political relations that Technoblade didn’t know about? Most AI technology wasn't that advanced anywhere. Rumor had it that the Badlands had sentient AI technology, but hadn’t gone public with it. Technoblade didn’t believe the rumors, but the Badlands, for all their many faults, was usually at the helm of new tech, in no small part thanks to Awe-Sam Dude, the most reclusive of the Badlands rulers. 

Technoblade had never met the Creeper. He never hoped to, since he was literally a king and had a famously nasty temper. He’d apparently once blown up his entire ship and mutilated one of his generals because he grabbed the wrong tablet. 

There was a reason no one liked Creepers.

But, Earth was Creeper free, and sentient robot free as far as Technoblade knew, so Phil was probably joking. Maybe?

He just stared at Wilbur, hoping to convey that he had no idea what they were talking about either. It probably didn’t work, because Wilbur scowled at him. 

Bruh. 

Wilbur was the worst. Technoblade wouldn’t even be sad when they invaded Earth, just because Wilbur was annoying. 

“Alright, enough about robots," Phil cut in, finally ending Tommy’s tirades,"Let’s get in the store before someone calls the cops on us for loitering," 

Tommy shot Technoblade a glare but quieted down. Technoblade suppressed a groan. They’d just gotten there and Technoblade was already ready to go home. 

----

Wilbur was vibrating with excitement. Literally. 

Well, not literally because he’d forced himself to step, but if someone touched him like thirty seconds prior, he was pretty sure they’d have felt his skin vibrating from the force of his inaudible whistles of excitement. It was a feature that hadn’t quite evolved out of Phantasms, originating from the days they lived underground with no eyes using sound and vibration to move around. 

Nearly all phantasms were born with eyes these days, though some did get their recessive genes, but most of them could still vibrate, though the part of their brain that processes that was not nearly as potent. Most of them just whistled when they felt strong emotions. 

And Wilbur was fucking excited. 

There were So. Many. Humans. So many! Of all shapes, sizes, colors, it was wonderful! Rumors had it that grocery stores also had giant, communal refrigerators. Wilbur was pretty sure he hadn’t even been this happy when Eret had hired him. 

He wanted to talk to all of the humans in the store, get a look into their minds; not literally of course. Picking a human’s brain apart would be a breach of ethics and Eret would be livid over the diplomatic disaster it would cause. 

But he really, really wanted to talk to them. But like. He needed to do it in a Normal Human Way. 

That was entirely manageable. Wilbur was wonderful at being a normal human!

“Alright guys," Phil said, clapping his hands. He was holding onto the handle of some sort of metal cart- probably to put food in it. It looked like a less advanced version of what was in most market places “You can grab a basket of your own or put things in my cart, I don’t mind- just pay for it yourself, alright. I’m not made of money," 

Wilbur wasn’t sure what that meant- obviously, Phil wasn't made of whatever Earth currency they used, that was preposterous, so it was probably a figure of speech. Probably. He made a mental note to look it up later, in the human index he had downloaded on his tablet. 

“Now, you lot can go off on your own, or tag along with me, just try to meet back at the front in a half-hour so that we can all leave and load up the groceries in my car yeah?” Phil said. 

“Sounds good!” Wilbur agreed instantly, grinning. “I think I’ll go off on my own. I’ve got a system, and all that,"  He’d grabbed his own cart since he wasn’t sure how much food he needed to get. Technoblade was holding a basket and Tommy… Tommy isn't holding anything, his eyes glued to the isles of food. The kid looked entranced. 

“I’ve never… uh, been in this kinda store before. I’ll just stick with you Phil," Technoblade said, looking around with a pinched face like he had swallowed something particularly sour. 

“What about you Tommy?” Phil asked. Tommy whipped around as if he’d almost forgotten that they were all there. 

“Uh, I’ll go with Will, make sure that the big man doesn’t get in trouble,” Tommy said, grinning widely. 

Wilbur tried not to slump in disappointment. Tommy was wonderful, brilliant, and he was Wilbur’s favorite human if Wilbur had to pick. But, he really, really wanted to explore alone. But, he couldn’t say no to the grin on Tommy’s face. Besides, he could probably use human guidance to make sure he actually got real food. “Yeah man, c’mon," 

Tommy’s face lit up as he practically dragged Wilbur’s cart toward the back of the store “Fuck yeah! Let’s tear this shit up!” 

“Try not to get kicked out!” Phil called from behind them. Wilbur laughed. 

There was no way they could get kicked out. 

----- 

“Don’t you ever, ever come back here, you hear me?” The manager, a tall human woman in her late thirties yelled as Tommy and Wilbur stumbled out onto the pavement. “If I ever see you two in the store again, I’m calling the cops!” 

Wilbur and Tommy stood side by side on the pavement as she slammed the doors shut. Wilbur started in shock but managed to keep his mouth closed. The last thing he needed was someone to see his fangs. 

That… had not gone well. 

“What the fuck mate?” Tommy asked, a little breathlessly. “You got us kicked out," 

“What?” Wilbur asked, turning to look at Tommy “This was your fault you little gremlin!” 

“No it isn’t!” Tommy snapped “Fuck you," 

“You’re the one that started riding around in the cart!” Wilbur protested. He grabbed Tommy’s arm, hauling him toward Phil’s car. 

“You suggested it, dumbass," Tommy argued, “And then you tried to haggle with the cashier!” 

Wilbur’s face would have flushed if he were human. Those things were true, he supposed. “Well, I guess you’re right. But I mean, come on, the price of those fruits was absolutely ridiculous,": 

Wilbur thought that the Chorus fruit that he bought, imported from distant enderian plants was expensive. Apparently, humanity’s “Honeycrisp apples” were more expensive here.’

“Good point man," Tommy agreed “We were getting fucking robbed in there,"

“It’s a fucking disgrace," Wilbur agreed passionately “That place is a scam, a rip-off, an absolute assault to all good things about humanity," 

“Yeah!” Tommy cheered loudly. “It’s a fucking plight!” 

“We can’t stand for this, Tommy,” Wilbur said. Was this store robbing innocent people? Was Phil being scammed? Did humans normally pay this much? IT seemed preposterous, that earth fruit would cost so much when fruits he got from different planets were cheaper. If this was normal, he wouldn’t stand for it. The L’manburg federation would put a stop to this early on, Wilbur would make sure of it “We need to-” 

“Are you two fucking planning a revolution of the store that you got kicked out of?” Phil said, appearing out of fucking nowhere with a cart full of groceries,"The one thing I specifically asked you not to do?” 

Tommy’s smile froze and Wilbur winced. “Sorry Phil, it’s just that the prices are outrageous, I mean come on- they’re robbing us blind in there!” 

Phil snorted “Wilbur, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. This store has some of the best prices around," 

“That’s just what they want you to think," Wilbur argued, wagging his finger. 

Phil snorted “You two are fucking ridiculous. I can't believe you got kicked out on your first visit. Have you ever been to a store? Who tries to haggle with a cashier?” 

“I’ve been to a store before," Tommy snapped immediately “I’m not the one who started the argument. I just had to back Wilbur up!” 

“My man,” Wilbur agreed, throwing an arm around Tommy’s shoulder, swallowing back the fear that Phil knew. It was a joke- he was joking, he had to be joking- “Tommy’s always got my back.

“Bruh, are you serious?” Technoblade grumbled “They’re teamin’ up Phil. I don’t like it," 

Phil laughed. “Well, the two of you have to find a new store for next time, but I did manage to snag your cart and pay for it," 

Wilbur’s face lit up. His human food! “I take it back, Phil you’re the best. Sorry Tommy you’ve been replaced," 

“Hey!” Tommy screeched, looking offended. “Fuck you too," 

Technoblade scoffed “Tommy, you literally were literally standing up in the cart letting Wilbur push you around," 

“I saw other people doing it," Tommy said petulantly. 

“Mate, that’s what little kids do," Phil said, not even pretending not to laugh “C’mon, Tommy really. Did your mum never push you around in one?” 

Tommy’s face fell slightly. “Oh fuck off," he grumbled, crossing his arms. “It looked fun," 

Phil’s eyes had widened as his laugh died in his throat. He made eye contact with Wilbur who shrugged a little helplessly. Were Tommy’s parents dead? Or out of the picture? Phil had already implied that Tommy had an odd childhood. Humans were pack animals- did Tommy not have one? 

“Anyway, help me get this stuff loaded in the car,” Phil said abruptly changing the subject “It’s the least you lot can do," 

Technoblade let out a noise that was probably akin to a laugh. Wilbur found it irritating. 

“Oh, you’re not excused from this, Techno," Phil said, wagging a finger at him. “You’re the one who kept asking the poor employee questions about her benefits, and unions! Then you started in on the government!” 

Technoblade’s ears turned red as he muttered something Wilbur couldn’t make out, even with his advanced hearing. Wilbur stuck his tongue out at Technoblade while Phil wasn't looking. Technoblade made a face and rolled his eyes. 

Wilbur might have gotten kicked out of the store, but he was still counting this as a win against Technoblade, who just seemed to like being a jerk. 

A human grocery store and a win over Technoblade- what a great day! 

-----

Tommy was having a terrible day. 

It started out fine. Great, even! It was fucking fantastic, he was hanging out with Wilbur and Phil, then Technoblade, and then they were going to a human grocery store. Tommy had really, really wanted an apple- there were plenty of different fruits and vegetables in the Badlands of course, but he’d seen so many humans talk about apples, or write about them, that they had to be fucking delicious. 

He got some other shit too, that was probably safe to eat since he did now have a human digestive system and all, but he wanted those apples. 

He wasn’t even mad about getting kicked out- riding around in the cart had been fun, and Wilbur had a point- the prices were fucking ridiculous, and if Wilbur thought they were, they had to be for humans. 

No, Phil had opened his mouth and now Wilbur was suspicious of him. 

Technoblade had said that because they got kicked out, they had to walk home, which, whatever, Tommy didn’t care. He liked walking and seeing human shit. He’d make Phil take him on a car ride later. And besides Tommy had his own bike. Once it was fixed, he wouldn’t need Phil’s shitty car anyway. But if Phil asked he’d still go, just because Tommy was that nice and cool and that good at pretending to be human. 

If Wilbur didn’t out him. The pale bitch kept glancing at him out of the corner of his eye, giving him a look Tommy didn’t like. And it had all started when Phil brought up his mother. Of course, Tommy hadn’t fucking reacted well, because he obviously hadn’t been pushed around by a human mother in a cart, but instead of, oh, fucking lying, he’d just told them to fuck off. 

And it was all because he was thinking about Sam taking him to the markets as a kid for the first time when he was a kid. No, he didn't miss Sam at all. He was practically grown. He didn’t need his dad. 

He was fine. 

If Wilbur would stop fucking staring at him. 

“Hey, Tommy,” Wilbur said casually- too casually and Tommy narrowed his eyes. “I’ve got a question for you man?” 

“The fuck do you want? Pale bitch," Tommy grumbled, trying not to sound nervous. Fuck, what is Wilbur knew? If Wilbur knew he’d have to… shit he was supposed to call his dad if he got found out, but he really didn’t want the Earth to be destroyed, and Wilbur was a cool guy- he didn’t really want him dead. Maybe Tommy could just convince Wilbur to keep his mouth shut. He could probably scare him into it, right? 

“Well, I know that we haven’t known each other that long, but.," Wilbur looked a little nervous- Wilbur had rarely seemed nervous in the time that Tommy had known him, and Tommy’s stomach dropped. Oh fuck. He was fucked. So fucked. 

“Do you have any family?”

Tommy blinked in surprise as relief flooded him. Thank the stars above and the void goddess below, he might be suspicious, but he didn’t know. Tommy’s relief had momentarily stunned him into speechlessness, which was enough time for Wilbur to start up again. 

“I’m sorry man, I know that might be out of line, it just seems like, well, Phil’s pointed a couple things out-” 

“Of course I have family," Tommy snapped immediately because he did. Maybe it wasn’t exactly a traditional human family, but he had a dad, thank you very much, and several uncles and whatever the hell Skeppy was. “I was adopted, dumbass, not completely abandoned," 

Okay, Tommy hadn’t really meant to say that, but adoption was definitely a thing on Earth. The earth movies that Tommy had seen talked about it! Usually, it was about trying to find your birth family, but, well. 

Tommy knew where his birth family was, blown to bits along with his entire home planet of Longsteadshire He’d come to terms with that ages ago, and it wasn't exactly a secret in their home about how Sam had come across him so-

“Adoption?” Wilbur repeated, drawing Tommy away from that train of thought.

“Yeah, haven’t you heard of it?” Tommy repeated. Fuck, maybe adoption was one of those made-up things that Earth movies and shows had made up like unicorns, or volcanoes, or that platypus off that one show. Was it fake?

“Oh! I’ve heard of it!” Wilbur said “I just didn’t think that it was quite so common on, uh, here. I didn’t think it was so common here," 

Wilbur seemed to be telling the truth, but maybe it wasn’t common in England, so maybe it was a cultural thing. Fuck, it wasn’t like Tommy could say ‘Oh well that’s because I’m not from here and my dad and I are aliens’ so he said the first thing that came to mind. “What are you, stupid?” 

Wilbur squawked in protest- it was a noise Tommy didn’t even know that humans could make, but he filed it away because humans made weird fucking noises. “I am not stupid, you little asshole. It’s just that you don’t even seem like an adult- why aren’t you living with your family then?” 

“Why aren’t you?” Tommy snapped back “I  wanted to move out, explore things on my own, see the Earth, er. world, for myself," 

“Same here," Wilbur replied easily “But I'm an adult, you’re a child. A- shit! What the fuck man!” Wilbur cried, rubbing at his arm where Tommy had hit him. 

Tommy might only be sixteen, but he was not a child and would not tolerate such blatant slander against his character. “You’re just old Wilbur. Your hair is even streaking grey- isn’t that old age shit?” 

Wilbur’s hands flew up to his hair, tugging on one of the curly pieces as if it see it. “Where? Where am I going grey?” Wilbur asked almost desperately. 

Tommy busted out laughing- it was one of his most proud human skills. He did a very good human laugh if he did say so himself. “Gotcha bitch. See, you are old enough to have to worry about your hair going grey," 

Wilbur was entirely silent for a few seconds before he smiled. Tommy was a big man, the representative of the Badlands, and one of the brightest minds of his generation according to Sam. Wilbur’s smile was fucking scary. “Tommy, you’ve got three seconds to start running before I chase you,” 

Tommy stared at Wilbur for a moment, before taking off blindly down the street, laughing as he heard Wilbur start chasing after him “Catch me if you can, bitch!” 

---- 

Wilbur caught him about thirty minutes later. Tommy was fast but so was Wilbur, who was unfortunately taller. Tommy was apparently in better shape though, since he kept running even when Wilbur got winded. 

Tommy figured it has something to do with his species. Tommy was fit enough as it was, but generally, he took on the best form of the species he was replicating. Of course, getting access to human DNA had helped him form the inner workings of his body (he wasn’t going to ask where Sam had gotten it) but a perk he had, being a shapeshifter, was that he almost always took on the healthiest form possible.

It was fucking cool as hell, but also a large reason that pretty much every shapeshifter had been banished to Logsteadshire and then subsequently had Logsteadshire blown up. They were “too dangerous” or something bullshit like that.

That’s why he’d always pretended to be at least half creeper on the rare occasions that he was in public with Sam. Rare and dangerous as creepers were, it was better than being publicly found to be a shapeshifter. 

Whatever. On Earth he was a human and apparently better at it than the actual humans. Ha. 

But, Wilbur was taller and eventually managed to grab the back of Tommy’s shirt. When Tommy tried to twist out of his grip, he maybe, sorta, kinda forgot he didn’t have a second pair of arms like normal, and didn’t balance correctly and fell hard onto the pavement. Wilbur let out a small scream as he crashed down on top of Tommy. 

Wilbur was lighter than Tommy expected since he was a tall freak so Tommy easily pushed him off. “Bitch what was that for," 

“You called me old," Wilbur grumbled, pushing himself up off the pavement. Tommy was still laying there. He was taking a  breather, alright? The people walking around them gave them a wide berth though and it was enough to spur Tommy into getting up. Fuck, no need for too much attention."You deserved it," 

“I was simply speaking the truth. You are old and bald, and a bastard," Tommy said, leaning against the side of the nearest building like he’d seen humans do in movies. Wilbur moved to lean against the wall too. Yes! Human behavior was his fucking forte.

“Hey Tommy?” Wilbur said after a moment. 

“Yes Wilbur?” 

“Tell it to me straight, if I strangle you right now would I be arrested for child murder or just regular murder?” 

“What the actual fuck man? Why would you strangle me? I’m simply the best, the poggest, the brightest of all-” 

“That’s it, I don’t care-” 

“Alright, alright!” Tommy exclaimed, scampering out of Wilbur’s reach “Fine, got it. You’re no fucking fun, Wilbur. Technoblade was way more fun. I take back every nice thing I ever said about you," 

“That hurts,” Wilbur said dramatically, putting a hand over his chest. That was a thing humans did to imply their hearts hurt! Except, Wilbur had his hand on the wrong side of his chest. Fuck, did the heart go on the other side? Tommy would have to switch his internal organs around tonight. Fuck, that was never fun. “You’ve wounded me, child," 

“You literally just fucking threatened to murder me!” Tommy said. He attempted to make the noise that Wilbur had earlier but it didn’t quite come out right. He’d have to work on that one. 

“That’s in the past," Wilbur said confidently “You need to let the past go," 

“It was like, two minutes ago," Tommy protested “You’re a fucking bitch," 

“I think that we should move on from this," Wilbur said as he stepped up by Tommy, and threw an arm around his shoulder. “Get past our differences, remember our true purpose and our true enemy," 

“Technoblade?” Tommy suggested, slightly confused by Wilbur’s change in attitude. 

“Obviously Technoblade is our enemy but no, it’s something even more important," Wilbur said and Tommy was enthralled. Perhaps it was the grocery store? Were they going to go blow it up or something? Tommy didn’t know how easily humans could access explosives. He had direct access because of all his dad’s labs, but- 

“It’s how to get back to Phil’s. Because Tommy, I will be honest with you man- I have no fucking idea where we are," 

Tommy tore his eyes away from Wilbur’s unfortunately serious face to look around and- 

Fuck. Wilbur was right. They weren’t near Phil’s house or the grocery store anymore- Tommy had not fucking clue where they were. “Shit," 

---- 

“We’re here!” Puffy called as she opened Phil’s side door. Phil was sitting in the living room with Technoblade, showing him how to use the TV (this was only further proof of Phil’s point that Technoblade was formerly Amish or something. Mans struggled way too much with Technology for it to be anything else). 

Technoblade jumped slightly, which, to be fair, Puffy could be a bit loud. She was also early- must not have been able to sleep since it was only early afternoon, not night like she said earlier. “In here!” Phil called back and a moment later Tubbo was in the living room. He had his switch case in one hand and his phone in the other. He was in pajama pants and a hoodie, already comfortable. 

“Hey Phil!” Tubbo chirped happily “Puffy’s putting the drinks in the kitchen- who the fuck are you?” 

Phil laughed at tubby's sudden demeanor change. His brow furrowed as he stared at Technoblade, who, to be fair, looked more confused than Tubbo did. “I’m uh, Technoblade," Technoblade said “I live here now," 

“Oh," Tubbo said, mouth pinching “You aren’t a bastard like the last of Phil’s renters, are you? They were right dickheads and if you act like that I’ll dissolve you in the acid in our basement. ” Phil hardly contained a laugh at the helpless look on Technoblade’s face at that question. 

“Tubbo Smith, you apologize right now," Puffy snapped, appearing in the doorway, hands on her hips. “I raised you with better manners than that. Even if I didn’t, you know you aren't supposed to talk about the acid- I could get in trouble if my boss knows you know!" 

“Sorry Puffy,” Tubbo said, not sounding the least bit sorry. “But the last guys were-” 

“Uh uh,” Puffy said, shaking her head. She’d found time to touch up the  “Zip it kid," 

Tubbo sighed dramatically but collapsed onto the beanbag in the corner. Phil had gotten it just for Tubbo since he had a proclaimed feud with ‘real furniture. “Sorry about him,” Puffy said, taking a seat on one of the chairs across from the couch. “He’s a little fond of Phil," 

Tubbo scoffed “Yeah, well, his last few renters were absolute assholes and if I knew where they were I’d snap their bones into little pieces and-” 

“Tuberculosis Tobias Smith," Puffy interrupted, trying her best to sound irritated instead of amused (she was failing rather miserably)  “Stop that right now and apologize !," 

“It’s uh, alright. I don’t plan on being an… absolute asshole, uh, Tuberculosis?” Techoblade repeated, finally having found his voice. Phil couldn’t help but snort. 

Puffy sighed fondly, “I let him pick his own name when I adopted him," 

“Yeah, I had a bit of an infectious disease phase," Tubbo said with a shrug “Since Puffy wouldn’t let me get any live samples I figured that was my best bet," 

“Yeah, he was a weird nine-year-old," Phil said in a stage whisper. 

“I also chose my name," Technoblade said. “I decided it was an, uh, interesting one," 

“It is pretty fucking sick," Tubbo agreed, though somewhat grudgingly. Tubbo had never been fond of his renters, and to be fair, Phil had had a few bad ones over the years. “It sounds like a gamer tag though," 

Technoblade blinked “What’s a gamer tag?” 

Tubbo’s jaw dropped. “You don’t know what a- oh no, I’m showing you how to use the switch right now," 

Phil laughed at Technoblade’s mildly panicked expression. Nope, Tubbo and Techno needed to bond. If Techno wanted to leave he could, but it’d be good for Technoblade to talk to other people. Learn more about technology. “Come on Puffy. I need to ask you something about work before we order dinner- my shit is in the kitchen," 

Puffy, who knew exactly what he was doing, grinned and followed along. “Sure, I have a couple updates for you anyway," 

Phil just gave Technoblade a thumbs up when he shot him one last panicked look, before leaving him to his own devices, and in Tubbo’s capable hands. 

“He seems nice enough,” Puffy said quietly as they slipped into the kitchen. She popped open the bottle of wine she’d brought- a godsend Puffy was- and grabbed two glasses. “I thought you had three though," 

Phil accepted one of the glasses. “Yeah, I do. We all went to the store earlier, but since I didn’t have room in my car for everyone, Tommy and Wilbur had to walk or catch the bus," He frowned, it had been… a while since he and Techno had gotten back. “Wilbur and Tommy should’ve already been back," Phil said. 

Puffy snorted into her glass of wine “They probably skipped town Phil," 

“No, no," Phil said shaking his head “They wouldn't- not with all their stuff still here. They must be lost or- oh shit," 

“What?” Puffy asked, sitting her glass down “Phil?” 

“They might could possibly, potentially, be arrested?” Phil said. Fuck he needed to get his coat- He needed to see if they’d been arrested because they seemed just dumb enough to go back to the store. 

“Arrested? Puffy said in alarm. “What for?” 

“They got kicked out of a grocery store- honestly the manager was being unreasonable, but if they went back there or got too close they might be-” 

Phil was cut off by his front door slamming open. “Phillll!” Tommy shouted and Phil practically slumped in relief. At least Tommy wasn't in jail, the little fucker. “Phil, Wilbur got us lost," 

“Phil, don’t listen to a word Tommy says,” Wilbur shouted back, as they stumbled into the kitchen, jostling each other’s shoulders “He’s a liar, a cheater, a terror, and - oh! Hello!” 

Wilbur shoved Tommy off, standing straight up to offer Puffy a hand to shake “My name is Wilbur, a pleasure to meet you," 

Puffy’s eyes were wide and for a moment she just stared, before taking Wilbur’s hand “I’m Puffy Smith, Phil’s neighbor. Nice to meet you," 

“Neighbor!” Phil interjected “Puffy you wound me. If I’ve been demoted to neighbor only, get the fuck out of my house,"  

Puffy rolled her eyes as she released Wilbur’s hand “He’s such a drama queen. But I suppose we have been best friends since college. Now I make sure he does his work and doesn’t kill himself by accident- so not much has changed," 

Wilbur laughed, but Tommy was apparently bored without being the center of attention because he elbowed Wilbur out of the way. “I’m Tommy!” Tommy said, grinning “Biggest man, best one of the lot, don’t let Wilbur’s stupid floppy hair or freakish height fool you," 

Puffy laughed and shook Tommy’s hand. It was a little funny how much both Wilbur and Tommy towered over her. “Nice to meet you, Tommy," She glanced between the two of them and someone who hadn’t known Puffy for the better part of two decades probably would have missed it, Phil saw something flicker across her face. 

“Tech’s in the living room with Tubbo,” Phil said, butting in. He needed to figure out what was up with Puffy. “You two should go in there- I feel like you and Tubbo will get along," 

Phil thought they might get along too well, actually. Tommy wasn’t much older than him, probably and Tommy seemed sheltered where Tubbo wasn’t. Unfortunately, they seemed both like forces of chaos, so if they got along, it would probably be along the lines of a house fire. 

Tommy frowned “The fuck is a Tubbo?” 

Puffy laughed, “My son’s named Tubbo," 

“That’s a stupid name," Tommy announced as he headed toward the living room door. “But, since Phil approves of him, I'll give this Tubbo character a chance. Hopefully, he’s less of a wrongun than the bastards outside," 

“Yeah, there were a few odd characters outside," Wilbur agreed, trailing behind Tommy. “Or maybe they just like sitting in their black car, who knows," 

“A black car?” Phil questioned, but Wilbur and Tommy were already gone. 

He glanced at Puffy, but she was already in the hall, headed for the front door. Fuckers, all of them, not letting him talk.

By the time he caught up with her, she was peering out the window by his door. “Son of a bitch,” Puffy swore.

“What is it? C’mon move over," Phil said, jostling her shoulder until she moved so that he could see whatever problem was out there. It was probably nothing- Puffy had a tendency to blow everything out of proportion- it was probably just Jack and his friends- 

Ok, so it definitely wasn’t Jack’s friends. Unless his friends now owned a black SUV, and liked to hang out the open window with binoculars, looking right at Phil’s house. There were at least three people in the car, all wearing ridiculously dark sunglasses.  

He let the curtain fall back into place and turned to Puffy, whose face was still pinch in irritation. 

“Fucking hell. Son of a bitch indeed," 

 

Chapter Text

“I wonder if it’s Interpol again,” Puffy mused. "They haven't been around in a few months," 

“Nah, they have shittier vehicles,” Phil said, still peering out the window at the sketchy vehicle. “And are usually less obvious.” 

“True,” Puffy said, gently pushing Phil out of the way so that she could look at them “But the car isn’t nice enough to be another science lab” 

“Definitely not sent by the royals,” Phil said “ And regular cops don’t care enough,” 

“So it’s someone new,” Puffy said, finally letting the curtain fall back in place. “These bastards just keep coming out of the woodwork, huh?” 

“It’s been six months- honestly I’m surprised they didn’t show up sooner after Interpol got bored the last time,” Phil mused “I’d honestly gotten a little bored, without someone watching my every move,” 

Puffy rolled her eyes “So what are you going to do about them?” 

“Well,” Phil said, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet “I supposed I don’t get much choice, yeah? May as well go introduce ourselves since they’ll be here for who knows how long,” 

Puffy let out a long sigh, “There’s no way I’m talking you out of this,” 

“Why did you even bother asking?” Phil shot back, quirking a brow “Hell, may as well ask the others if they want to join in. It’ll be less likely to freak ‘em out if I’m just honest with them,” 

“I’m not sure that logic is sound,” Puffy argued “But, hey, what do I know? They stuck around after you sprung the alien thing on them,” 

Phil’s face lit up “Yeah! They did. Wil and I have’t had a chance to talk about it, but he seemed quite enthused,” 

“Phil,” Puffy chastised. Phil dind’t even know what he’d done wrong this time! “Are you seriously already giving them nicknames?” 

Phil crossed his arms “I called Wilbur Wil, so what. Puffy, it’s normal,” 

“Did he ask you to call him that?” 

“Well not exactly-” 

“Okay, then you gave him a nickname. Don’t think I missed you calling Technoblade Techno,” 

“Techno is a fucking mouthful. And he hasn’t complained about it yet,” 

“Phil, you gotta be careful. These guys won’t be around forever. HTis is all temporary.” She bit her lip, hesitating for a second “Look, I know that you hate being in the house alone. I get it, really, I do, but Phil, filling it with strangers you get attached to too quickly isn’t going to fix things. I’m getting worried that you’re not going to move on-”

“We can finish this conversation later, Puffy,” Phil said, cutting her off. She was being ridiculous. She always assumed the worst. He was fine. He was totally fine. The rent was literally just to support his own research. She acted like she was his therapist. As if she wouldn’t have failed their intro to psychology class without him, “I’m going to check with the boys to see if they want to introduce themselves or not,” 

Puffy didn’t even pretend to hide her displeasure, but Phil ignored it resolutely as he fled the entryway. He had new, temporary neighbors to meet. He was definitely not avoiding that conversation. 

---

Technoblade was so incredibly out of his depth. 

Tubbo, Tuberculosis, was a menace, who seemed to simultaneously hate him, but was also determined to teach him how to play some game called Mario Kart. Then Tommy and Wilbur showed up, and apparently, neither of them knew how to play it. 

That honestly made Technoblade feel much better because he thought he was missing some sort of important human background, but if Tommy and Wilbur didn’t know, it was probably just some small game, rather than a cultural phenomenon and Tubbo was just being dramatic. 

Tubbo seemed like the type to be dramatic 

He wasn’t sure if the death threats were real or not. He was thinking they were real since no other humans had greeted him like that. 

Tommy, despite never having played, was very good at Mario Kart, which mercifully meant that Technoblade got to retreat back to the couch while they played. 

Unfortunately, that meant he was beside Wilbur. Wilbur was enraptured by Mario Kart, at least, so they weren’t trying to make conversation, but it was still awkward. Technoblade really couldn’t understand Wilbur's deal. One second he was a nice guy, then he was up in arms over nothin’. 

It was annoyin’. 

He had to admit though, that Mario Kart, confusing as it was, was very entertaining to watch. Technoblade wasn't great at the controls- probably because he still wasn't quite used to the proportions of his hands in human size, but the game sites;f made sense. There were dozens of games like it that Technoblade had played before. They certainly weren’t his forte, but he got the gist. 

That didn’t mean Technoblade liked the controllers at all. 

They were just another piece of human Technology that sucked. 

Techno was uncomfortable. He wanted Phil to come back. Not that he needed a human to act as a buffer of course- he was perfectly capable of interacting with humans, without some other human there. He wasn't a child. 

But, Phil was the least annoying human he’d met so far. He hadn't spoken to Puffy much, she seemed less annoying than Wilbur but not as good as Phil. Anyone was better than Wilbur and Tommy though. Tubbo seemed worse, maybe, which was saying something. 

“I’ve gotta, uh, go to the bathroom,” Technoblade mumbled, hoping that that was a human enough excuse, before tactically exiting the room. He wasn't sure if Wilbur heard him, or even cared, but he did not want to get in another conversation with Wilbur that would just leave him angry. 

In his rapid retreat, he managed to completely miss Phil (he blamed it on Phil’s height. Why was he so short for a human? It was almost as ridiculous as Tubbo’s height) and almost ran into him. 

“Woah there mate,” Phil said, just managing to dodge Techno, who came to a sudden halt. His shoulders definitely didn’t slump in relief. “Where’s the fire?” 

Technoblade frowned. He… didn’t smell smoke? He hadn’t seen any flames “There isn’t one?” he said, a little uncertainty. Maybe he didn’t know what fire was. He thought it was one of those basic human words, but maybe it had a double meaning? 

“I just meant that you ran out of there pretty quick- is something wrong?” Phil amended, and Technoblade rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. Great. hE was acting weird. The last thing he needed was for Phil to be suspicious of him 

“Oh, uh, well-” 

“Oh mate, was Tubbo a bit much?” Phil asked “I was afraid he and Tommy would get along too well- I’m sure they're having a great time- Wilbur too, probably. Sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you to the wolves. In fact, I was just coming in to check on you all, and let you know there’s been a little update in the living situation,” 

“What sort of update?” Technoblade asked, attempting a frown. He must have gotten moderately close because Phil’s face changed from an emotion akin to… worry? Maybe? To an emotion, Techno couldn’t quite pinpoint. 

“Oh! No, don’t worry, I’m not kicking you out” Phil assured him, even though Technoblade hadn’t even considered that, “It’s just- listen, with the work I do, both for my company and with my alien research, I tend to attract attention from… lots of different people, they get worried about what I’m doing, or want to steal my research or something. I don’t know, but anyway, I’ve had all sorts of agencies stalking me off and on. We have a new one out there I don’t recognize and I was just headed out there to introduce myself, wanted to see if any of you all wanted to come,” 

Now, Technoblade didn’t know a lot about humanity’s governments, to be fair. 

What he did know is that he didn’t really like the idea of a government monitoring his every move. That was something that the L’manburg Federation pulled and rumors that the Badlands did too. 

The Syndicate didn’t do that. They didn’t stand for it. Another mark against humanity in Technoblade’s book- if their government harasses a nice, normal guy like Phil how could he trust them? 

But, if they were, Technoblade absolutely wanted to meet them. He needed a face to put with his enemy, “Sure,” Technobalde said “I’ll go out there with you,” 

“Let’s check with the others, yeah?” Phil said with a grin, patting his shoulder “But you can meet Puffy by the door if you need a breather,” 

Techno didn’t want Phil to check with the others. He also didn't want to go stand by Puffy. But, Phil didn’t seem to be really asking him and he was left alone in the hall with a decision to make. He could follow Phil like a lost ghastling, or he could go stand by Puffy. 

He found Puffy by the door. She looked annoyed- a human expression Technoblade had already become well versed in. “Hey, Technoblade- right?” SHe said as he approached. 

“Yeah, uh, yes,” Technoblade said, 

“Odd name,” Puffy said, staring at him with squinted eyes “Where’d it come from? Was it a nickname? You know, I knew a guy who was in a gang once- he had a weird name,” 

What. 

“Uh, no?” Technoblade said “I chose it myself, you know? I was already being called Techno so I just, you know, went for it. Thought Technoblade sounded cool so… yeah. It’s my name. Wait. Isn’t your kid named after a disease?” 

Puffy studied him for a moment. “You know what, good point, fair enough.” 

“Thanks?” Technoblade said because he really had no idea how to respond to that. tHankfully he was spared a more awkward conversion. 

Unfortunately, the reason was that Tubbo and Tommy practically sprinted into the room, in a whirl of bright colors and loud shouts that Technoblade’s sensitive ears could hardly stand. 

“Fuck yeah!” Tommy shouted “I kicked your ass Tubbo,” 

“You cheated!” Tubbo accused, elbowing Tommy sharply “I know you did, there’s no way you’re that good at Mario Kart if you’ve never played before,” 

“Tubbo, Tubbomister, you simply just can’t underestimate me, I’m the best man, the biggest man,” Tommy crowed back, grinning a little manically “You just have to admit defeat,” 

“C’mon Tubbo, how would he even cheat if he’s never played before,” Wilbur chimed in. Which. Really? Did he not have anything better to do than get in the middle of children’s squabbles? Lame. 

“I don’t believe that he’s never played before,” Tubbo said resolutely “Phil, how the fuck could you collect three randos who don’t know how to work a switch?” 

“Tubbo, stop bullying them,” Phil chastised, “Don’t be a little shit,” 

“Phil that’s my main personality trait,” Tubbo whined 

“It really is,” Puffy agreed, sounding tired “Now, I take it everyone is going out to meet the shady government agents?” 

“I mean why not?” Wilbur said  “It’s never every day you get stalked by government agents! Is it?” 

Puffy sighed “I see why Phil likes all of you,” 

“Well, come on, let’s go,” Phil said, ushering them toward the door “Everyone out!” Technoblade fell in behind Puffy, who was in the front, giving Tommy and Tubbo a wide berth as they spilled onto the front lawn. If he didn’t know better, he’d assumed they’d have known each other for years, not less than an hour. 

“Hey Puffy!” Someone across the street- the weird bald guy Techno had talked to- yelled “You ‘n Phil have a few more creeps! Tell ‘em not to block my fuckin’ driveway this time!” 

“Thanks, Jack!” she called back, “I’ll let ‘em know,” 

“Yeah, we’ll keep them out of your hair this time!” Phil agreed, from somewhere behind Techno “Sorry about the Interpol assholes,” 

“Eh, not your fault they’re dicks, man,” Jack called back “Well, good luck!” 

‘Jack’ disappeared back into his house. Hmm. Apparently, humans did have some pack tendencies. That was the only neighbor of Phil’s, besides Puffy, that Techno had seen, but it seemed that they were at least friendly and had protective tendencies over one another. Phil had been living alone, so he’d assumed humans weren't too pack-oriented, but maybe he was wrong.

Puffy lead them to a black car parked across the street. It was larger than Phil’s, and a dark black color. It stuck out like a sore thumb on the street. Or at least it did to Technoblade. Maybe it was normal for humans. 

Whoever was in there had frantically closed the glass that separated them from the outside, sealing themselves behind the dark glass. Technoblade could just see them moving and could hear muffled yelling from behind the window. 

“Are you kidding me?” Puffy scoffed, staring at them incredibly “Well, Phil, care to do the honors?” 

“Sure!’ Phil said cheerfully “They can’t escape me,” 

“That was a bit ominous, Phil,” Wilbur said, wiggling his eyebrows. What the- was his face supposed to be able to do that? Technoblade’s face couldn’t do that, he was pretty sure,” 

“What the fuck do these bitches think they’re doing?” Tommy asked, trying to peer over Technoblade’s shoulder, while Tubbo attempted to slip between Puffy and Techno “Yo! We can see you’re in there!” he shouted 

“Tommy,” Phil admonished, “Stop that. We’re trying to be polite,” 

Phil turned to the car and knocked on the window. 

For a second, Technoblade assumed that they weren't going to move the glass, but a few long seconds later it lowered, revealing a human man wearing dark glasses. “Can I help you?” he said flatly. Even Technoblade could tell the guy was acting and he wasn't even human. 

“Hello!” Phil said cheerfully, though it didn’t sound like his normal tone- maybe it was a little forced? “My name’s Phil, though I’m certain you knew that. I live in the house that you’re meant to be watching,” 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’re not watching a house,-ouch!” The man in the dark glasses turned to face inside of the vehicle “What was that for?” 

“You told him that there was more than one of us, idiot,” a second voice chimed in, and it definitely sounded annoyed “Good going dumbass,” 

“To be fair,” Phil cut in politely “I had already seen that there are at least two of you, so he didn’t really reveal too much,” 

The man in the glasses smiled. Human smiles were so unnerving. “See, I didn’t even reveal that there were three of us or anything, so take that, Sapnap!’ 

“Oh my god,” A new, third voice chimed in “Look what you did now George- You told them Sapnap’s name!” 

“Dream,” The guy in the sunglasses whined, “Come on, I’m trying, but you guys keep yelling-” 

Phil coughed slightly, interrupting the argument “Sorry if I’m interrupting something, but, uh I came out here to introduce myself. Since you three will be watching my house for some time now, I figured we may as well skip the awkward introduction part,” 

The man in the glasses stared at Phil a moment “Give me a second,” 

There were a few moments of awkward silence as the glass raised again, and then the sound of muffled arguing, 

“I think this is going very well!” Phil said, looking pleased.Or maybe constipated. Maybe furious? He didn’t know.

“You’ve definitely had bigger threats,” Puffy agreed, not booting to hide her grin “I’m dying to know what organization they represent,”

“Me too,” Wilbur chimed in “I also want to know why, exactly, they’re here. I have a lot of questions,” 

“I think they seem like dumbasses,” Tommy announced loudly “They’re just plain wronguns,” 

“They don’t seem to have much training,” Tubbo agreed. “I mean really, they talked to us. Usually, it’s like talking to a wall,” 

“They might be new,” Phil argued “C’mon guys, be nice, let’s give them a chance,” 

Ok, so this was normal. It had to be. None of the humans seemed the slightest bit phased that the government was literally spyin’ on them. This was bad. This was horrible. The syndicate could not fix this. All the other bad marks he’d made about humanity were overshadowed by this one. 

They were so far down the government pipeline he wasn't sure they could be saved. If they didn’t destroy them, then the Badlands Coalition would get them, or worse yet the L’manburg Federation would send someone and claim the Earth under their protection to “guide them”. 

Technoblade would have to ask for, at best, a hostile takeover of Earth. At worst it would be a full-fledged invasion and destruction. But he couldn’t do so for three months. 

Great. 

—- 

Tommy was pretty sure humanity was one of the best species in the galaxy. 

His dad had been worried that when he got to Earth he’d be disappointed by humans. Tommy had enjoyed learning about them since he was a kid. He’d first taken an elective on humans when he attended Camarvan for a year, and while he’d left the school, he’d then devoured everything he could about humans. 

Having your dad be one of the smartest and most powerful people in the world had its perks- one of those being that he was able to get access to Earth frequencies that no one else had tapped into so that Tommy could consume Earth media. It was usually patchy, and often several years old, but it was something. The easiest thing to listen to was the radio, so Tommy knew a wide variety of human songs. 

There were other sources, of course, so many others, but he’d devoured human media. 

One thing he’d thought would be fake from human media were their so-called “men in black” who showed up and were shady government agents. He’d assumed Earth had shady governments- almost every planet had at least one shady group, government or not- but he hadn’t expected them to look exactly like the movies. 

He also hadn’t expected them to be this fucking stupid. 

Tommy loved humanity, but those guys were not fucking poggers. First, they were spying on Phil, apparently, which just wasn't cool. On Tommy’s list of humans so far, Phil was at number one.

Second, they weren't even good at being secret. People accused Tommy of being bad at keeping secrets, but he literally kept his race a secret, along with his entire existence for the most part. 

These humans were just fucking stupid. 

Finally, they rolled their car window down and the guy with glasses, George or whatever was gone. Instead, some other dude, wearing a different pair of glasses took his palace. His hair was blonde, like Tommy’s but was longer and pulled into a small ponytail. Tommy could literally hear the other two whispering heatedly behind him still. 

“After a brief discussion, my colleagues and I- shut the fuck up you two idiots- my colleagues and I have decided to inform you of who we are, in the interest of maintaining our mission. We are agents of the SMP Foundation, and we have been tasked with monitoring this street, particularly the residence of one Phil Mine-Craft. At this time, we cannot disclose any further information about the purpose of the surveillance, or our identities,” 

“Well, I mean, you really don’t have to lie about it,” Phil said, smiling genuinely “You’re here about my research aren’t you? Into extraterrestrial life,” 

Dream looked surprised, like a ‘little bitch’ as the humans say, but he did seem to be the most competent “As I said before, we are not at liberty to discuss the specific matters we’re here to investigate-” 

“What a fucking pussy,” Tommy called, interrupting him “I bet he’s not even a real agent, “Can’t even own up to his motives,” 

“Tommy,” Phil chastised again, though he was definitely amused and trying to hide a smile 

“Nah, Tommy’s right,” Tubbo chimed in “Even Interpol was more talkative than this,” 

“Oh fuck Interpol,” one of the other agents shouted “If they told you, then yeah! We have reason to believe that- what the fuck, Dream, George bit me!”

“Sapnap, shut up!” Dream shouted, twisting in his seat “We are not making a good impression!” 

“We’re literally going to be stalking them, Dream, I don’t think impressions matter, in fact, weren’t you literally talking to us about how we weren’t supposed to interact with them earlier,” George called. His accent was like Phil’s, while Sapnap and Dream sounded like Puffy and Techno. Tommy was pretty sure the accent was called “American”. 

“Yeah, well who rolled down the window when I told him not to?” Dream shot back. 

“Excuse me,” Phil said, yet again. They weren't very good agents, because it seems like Dream had forgotten they were there. Again. Even though Wilbur had been snickering under his breath along with PUffy. “Listen, I already know your names- Dream, Sapnap, George, so we’re just here to tell you ours, alright? I’m Phil Mine-Craft, as I suspect you know.” 

“I’m Carolyn,” Puffy chimed in “But no one calls me that. Just call me Puffy. This is my son-” 

“Tuberculosis,” Tubbo cut in “I go by Tubbo, though” 

Tommy watched Dream mouth the names, frowning. How was that any different than Dream? Tommy knew human naming conventions in multiple languages. Not a single one of those names were normal. Dream didn’t seem terribly surprised though. He probably already knew about them, if he was an agent of any sort of worth. 

“They’re my neighbors,” Phil supplied “But we may as well live together. Th either three live with me,” 

Dream’s frown deepened “I wasn’t aware you had kids,” 

“I’m not a fucking kid,” Tommy yelled, as Technoblade spluttered some noise of protest. 

“We’re not his kids,” Wilbur said firmly, “Oh no,” 

“They’re my renters!” Phil explained “Not my kids, dear lord. DO I look old enough to have kids this age?” 

“Sorry about him,” Sapnap was now leaning over Dream, face in full view. He wasn't wearing sunglasses but had a bandanna tied around his head that totally clashed with his black suit. “Dream is a little bit on an ass- hey!” 

Dream shoved Sapnap back, away from the window “Don’t show them your bare face!” 

“Anyway!” Phil cut in “Boys, introduce yourself,” 

“I’m Wilbur,” Wilbur said, smiling, but it wasn't his normal smile. Wilbur definitely didn’t like these guys, “Wilbur Soot. Pleasure,” 

“I’m Tommy,” Tommy chimed in,

“Tommy what?” Dream asked. 

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Tommy said, “Isn’t it your job to know these things?” 

Puffy didn’t bother to hide a snort, and Tubbo cackled from beside him. 

“Fine, fine,” Dream snapped. “Be difficult. Don’t think we won’t find out,” 

For some reason, that threat didn’t really scare Tommy. 

Dream turned expectantly to Technoblade, who kinda looked like he’d rather be anywhere else. Or like he’d kinda like to murder Dream. Tommy would want to watch that fight for sure. 

“Technoblade,” Technoblade grumbled, like someone was holding him at blaster point. 

He provided no further information and Dream was smart enough not to press. At least he had a little bit of common sense. 

“Now, I really must insist that you just… go back to your house. Ignore us.” Dream said. He sounded exhausted. 

“Sure thing mate,” Phil said “But, first, just as a courtesy, do you mind showing me your badges? You know, there are lots of crazy people and I just want to make sure you really are with an organization. You know how it is,” 

Dream stared at Phil for a long moment “You literally research aliens. We are pretty sure you’ve made- you know what, if that will make you leave us alone, sure. Sapnap, hand me the badges,” 

A few seconds later, Dream still had his hand out, waiting for the badges “Sapnap, dude, c’mon,” 

“Uh, Dream?” Sapnap said quietly “I… I don’t have the badges,” 

Dream whipped around and Tommy felt a pang of sympathy for Sapnap. “You don’t have the badges-oh my god are you kidding me?” 

“George was supposed to-” 

“No, I wasn’t!” 

The car erupted into arguing, and they didn't even bother to roll up the window. Wow. Tommy knew that humanity’s governments couldn’t be as advanced as the Badlands but this was just embarrassing. 

“Forget it!” Dream shouted “We’re leaving! That’s it!” 

Before they had a chance to react, the car peeled away from the curb, narrowly missing hitting Technoblade as it sped the wrong side of the street. Or at least Tommy thought it was the wrong side. They seemed the type to break traffic violations.

“Well,” Phil said after a moment of stunned silence “Who wants Chinese?”  

Chapter Text

Wilbur hadn’t ever heard of “Chinese Food” but it was fucking delicious. It was probably terribly unhealthy, considering the amount of oil he could literally see pooling on it (and he’d been half worried that this too, would kill him, but so far his body was holding up), but damn, it was delicious. 

Especially the noodles. Holy shit. They were so good! Now, they were a little bit spicy for his taste, personally. So he decided to try some of the chicken they’d given him. Since he’d never had it, they let him try a little bit of most of the order. He and Tommy neither one had had it. Technoblade said that he didn’t really care for it and was eating plain rice. 

That had to be weird for humans, but apparently, he had some sort of sensitivity, which was common, since Phil had immediately guessed it. 

Wilbur stared, as the chicken was covered in several glazes of different colors, and he studied them intently before picking randomly. He popped it in his mouth and chewed for a moment, before gasping, and grabbing his drink, and gulping wildly. 

“Mate, woah, what’s the problem?” Phil asked, interrupting the conversation they were having about movies. 

“My mouth is burning!” Wilbur gasped, trying to reign his wings in, as they tried to flare instinctively with the pain.  “It’s on fire!” 

Tubbo snickered into his drink and even Puffy looked amused. Phil wasn’t bothering to hide his amusement “You picked a spicy one? Which one did you get?” 

Wilbur pointed to the remaining pieces that were in the same color and Phil frowned. “Wilbur. Mate. What- how bad is your spice tolerance? That’s not even spicy chicken!” 

Wilbur, if he was human, would probably be blushing, from both embarrassment and from the absolute fire that was burning down his chest and into one of his two stomachs that digests meat. Instead, his skin under the heavy makeup was probably darkening to an odd shade of grey-blue. 

Wilbur couldn’t even defend himself, as he was too busy trying to combat the horrifying burning in his body. He could hear Technoblade joining in the laughter and he scowled, resisting the urge to bare his teeth, which was his natural response to these situations. 

That wasn’t a very human reaction though. 

Finally, the burning became manageable, and he pushed the chicken away from him “Never again. You lot tried to poison me!” 

“Oh, don’t be a baby,” Tubbo said “I knew you were pale, but I didn’t realize how white you are!” 

Wilbur obviously knew that humans had differing skin colors, as did most species. He had no idea what that meant, exactly. 

“Yeah, we’ll just have you stick to the noodles for now,” Phil said, taking the chicken and dividing it up between the others who were able to eat that shit. Tommy popped a piece in his mouth, looking smug. 

Wilbur couldn’t believe Tommy would betray him like this. 

Wilbur frowned and began, perhaps a little viciously, eating his noodles. At least he had lots of them to make up for it, and he was debating stealing Tommy’s for revenge, but he couldn’t quite remember if that would result in him getting bitten or not, so he stuck to the pile in his shitty cardboard box. 

Oh well. “So Phil,” he said loudly, between bites, stifling any potential talk of his little show “Tell us more about your work, and why exactly the government is so interested in it. Do they want to hire you?” 

That’s how most people got their jobs in L’manburg. Their work was recognized enough that someone, depending on what type of work, showed up and offered you a job with the government. You were more than welcome to decline, but there would be stricter limits of how far you could take some types of research since you wouldn’t be monitored after all. 

That’s how Wilbur had been hired! His work with human studies had gotten him noticed, especially some of his papers. Since he was so dedicated and had so much research, Eret had actually shown up themself. Wilbur nearly had a heart attack when he found the Commander of the Federation on his doorstep since he was wearing three-day-old clothes and hadn’t slept in four days, but hey, he still got the job. 

Eret did make him maintain a sleep schedule though, the fucker. 

He was pretty sure they’d actually arrested Fundy for theft of something before realizing he was wicked brilliant with technology and offering him a job. Wilbur couldn’t say much about that- Wilbur had just been smart about not getting caught, and balancing his school work. 

Regardless, it was pretty common. But if so, why wouldn’t Phil take it? Wouldn’t that make his work easier? Not that Wilbur exactly wanted him to succeed just yet, but still. 

Phil grimaced and Puffy scoffed. “Not exactly,” she said “Why don’t you tell them, Phil,” 

“Well as you all know I’m a scientist, and I study aliens,” Phil started “But, I don’t know if I mentioned this before, the alien thing… that’s not exactly part of my job. That’s all my own passion. I fund the research myself- occasionally borrowing-” 

Puffy cleared her throat. Loudly. Wilbur hoped she wasn’t choking, though, she didn’t look like her airway was blocked. 

Phil winced “Alright, I often use the equipment from work, but I do pay for anything I need myself. So the alien research isn’t exactly sanctioned by anyone, not my job, not the government, not a university, though it’s not for a lack of trying! I’m sure someone will sponsor me one day, especially since I’m getting so close to contact!” 

Wilbur smiled and hoped that he didn’t look as panicked as he felt. Did Phil know? Was he playing a mind game? 

Nah, Phil didn’t seem like that type of guy. 

Unless…. 

Nah. 

“My job only just tolerates it, but the government doesn’t like it. They’d prefer that I just. Stopped it all together. I think more so than anything, they’re worried I’ll intercept confidential information. Or, at least that’s what Interpol was worried about,” Phil said “I’m sure these guys are something similar,” 

“They always worry about something,” Tubbo agreed “Personally, I think the government should just fuck off if they aren’t going to help . They’re just too blind to see-” 

“Tubbo,” Puffy admonished, sounding tired “Please not tonight,” 

“You’re no fun,” Tubbo muttered, slumping back in his seat. 

“Anyway, that’s enough about Phil and aliens,” Puffy said, changing the subject “What do the three of you do for work?” 

“I’m a scientist,” Wilbur said immediately, before realizing that was… not a good answer “Or, I wanted to be, I flunked out of school. Now I just take the odd jobs as they come, you know?” 

Wilbur had heard that was a common line for humans. That was a good cover, right? He hoped it was. 

“Scholl certainly isn’t for everyone,” Puffy said kindly “Tubbo does homeschool since he can’t stand regular schools,” 

“They’re just boring,” Tubbo piped up “Right on to dropping out,” 

“You didn’t drop out,” Phil said, with a laugh “You gotta stop saying that, you just went to homeschool,” 

“Alternative learning,” Tubbo corrected “Homeschool makes me sound weird,” 

“Kid, I hate to tell you, you’re kinda weird,” Phil said. 

Tubbo gasped and looked at Puffy, who just shrugged “Sorry Tubbo, Phil’s right,” 

“I hate it here,” Tubbo said, but Wilbur didn’t think he meant it. Puffy and Phil didn’t seem concerned, so…. He was probably fine. Humans seem to like figures of speech. Tubbo was probably fine. 

“Anyway, all that to say, you don’t need a degree- you’ll find something that suits you,” Puffy said, turning back to him “And I’d assume you’d need to, so you can pay rent,” 

The last comment was paired with a look and Phil, who was very studiously looking at Technoblade. If he had to guess, then Phil ignored Puffy, “Very good Wilbur. What about you Technoblade? I’m assuming that bank robbery isn’t your main gig,” 

“It’s very lucrative,” Technoblade said gruffly. Wilbur frowned. Wasn’t that… wasn’t that a crime? Right? If he understood what robbery was…

“Bank robbery?” Puffy said. She sounded rather alarmed, but Phil ignored her, laughing, along with Tubbo. 

“Nice,” Tubbo said “How many places did you hit?” 

“Nah, Technoblade isn’t cool enough to be a bank  robber,” Tommy said “He’s just a big bitch,” 

“Seriously mate, what do you do?” Phil asked, and Puffy looked marginally relieved. 

“Uh,” Technoblade said “I… potatoes. I was a potato farmer. Then I moved. Now I don’t… I’m lookin’ for a job here. Since there aren’t. Uh, farms, here” 

A farmer? That… Wilbur didn’t know much about human farmers, but he was pretty sure that they usually didn't have pink hair- dyed or not. But, hey, maybe they did. Wilbur hadn’t studied their agriculture systems extensively, since that wasn't in any of what they’d been able to intercept. 

“A farmer? Tommy questioned “That’s fucking lame,” 

Phil whispered something into Puffy’s ear that Wilbur tried to ignore- humans wouldn’t be able to hear it, but he definitely mentioned the word Amish, whatever that meant. 

“It’s not lame,” Technoblade protested “It’s… a totally worthy occupation. You just don’t value hard work,” 

“Oi, that’s not very fucking cool!” Tommy exclaimed “I do too know what hard work is,” 

“Okay, then what’s your job?” Technoblade asked, crossing his arms. 

Tommy’s mouth opened and closed a few times as he spluttered intelligibly, as his face colored a bright red. Wilbur grinned to himself. That’s what Tommy got for betraying him like that. But, after a moment, Wilbur took pity on him. 

“Oh, leave him alone Technoblade,” Wilbur said “He’s just a child, a little baby if you will, far too small for a job,” 

Okay, so maybe only a little pity. 

Tommy positively exploded “Fuck you, fuck you, Wilbur, that’s so rude. So unpog. You’re the literal worst. I’m not a fucking child, I’ve just never needed a job, I got an inheritance ,” 

Silence fell over the table as Wilbur’s smile froze. He’d really put his foot in his mouth. He literally knew that Tommy was adopted. It only made sense that his parents were dead. He knew this. Tommy hadn’t seemed to mind the fact, but he might not have wanted everyone to know. 

Oops.

Everyone seemed to be coming to the conclusion that Wilbur had, except without the other knowledge he had, as Phil froze glancing at Puffy. Tubbo was staring at Tommy with wide eyes and Technoblade… Technoblade's face was pretty unreadable as usual. 

“What?” Tommy asked, “Are you all just jealous because you don’t have to work?” 

“Tommy, are your… are your parents… Tommy, are you an orphan?” Puffy asked after a moment and then Tommy’s eyes widened as if he only just realized what he’d admitted to. 

“Well, uh, yes? But also no,” Tommy said “My dad adopted me, so I wouldn’t really call myself an orphan or any shit like that. I didn’t get stuck in a box outside the fire station, my uh, birth parents just fucking died, I think,” 

“I was left in a box outside the library!” Tubbo supplied, holding out his fist. Was that a threat toward Tommy? Wilbur was halfway sure it was, but no one else seemed concerned, but he was ready to intervene if this other human got too handsy.  

And, did humans leave babies and children in boxes often? Was that what happened to them when their parents were unable to care for them? That was an interesting tradition. A concerning one, that they’d likely have to limit, or at least monitor, after contact, was made if it was unsafe. 

Wilbur would keep his eyes out for babies in boxes from now on. He’d need to include that in his report for Eret. 

“Cool,” Tommy said, reaching over to bump his fist gently with Tubbo’s 

“Orphan gang,” Tubbo agreed with a grin.”At least you got a cool inheritance from your birth parents. Mine just gave me shitty height genes and trauma,” 

Puffy looked mildly concerned, though Wilbur wasn't sure why. 

“Tommy… you said you have a dad? Where is he? Why aren’t you living with him then?” Puffy pressed 

Tommy looked more uncomfortable now than he had during the whole conversation. “He’s… uh, well, he’s working. Far away. And I’m an adult. I moved out. I’m doing adult shit. I don’t need him- I’m not some kid. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, ” 

Wilbur hadn't known Tommy long but he looked uncomfortable. Was he lying? Tommy was obviously an adult even if he looked a little young, but maybe he was lying about what his dad was doing?

“Alright, well, you still might want to find a job- inheritance doesn’t last forever,” Puffy warned “It’s good to save some, too. I’d recommend looking for something- maybe check with Jack. All of you, actually. He probably knows who is hiring around here,”

“Yeah,” Phil chimed in “It’s not a bad idea, besides Jack’s a good guy. I think you all will get along with him- he’s not much older than you are Tommy!” 

“Jack’s pretty cool,” Tubbo agreed “He’s always down to help with my science shit. Well. He used to be he’s still made I burnt his eyebrows off last month,” 

“Fine,” Tommy said “We’ll go talk to this Jack fellow. A job is in order of course- all the biggest men have jobs,” 

Wilbur wasn’t sure what most of that meant, but Technoblade looked confused, so he just smiled and nodded along as if he knew. He couldn’t let Technoblade best him! 

And tomorrow, he’d hunt for a job. 

“Talk to Jack, Puffy said,” Tommy muttered, as he walked down the sidewalk, leaving the third shop of the day “He’ll be helpful, she said,” 

And okay… technically she hadn’t been wrong. Jack had given them all a list of the places he knew was hiring, which was a very long list and they’d all circled the ones they found interesting. There was practically no overlap since it was a long list, and Technoblade had no interest in working at places like a music shop or pet store. 

Tommy had tried a restaurant, a movie store, and a shoe store. They all rejected him. All of them were because he apparently did have any “work history” on earth and also they kept asking for a birth certificate. 

Tommy didn’t have one of those. He’d gotten a few papers. Not one of those. That might’ve been an oversight. But what! It’s not like he thought he’d need to prove that he’d been born- he was literally standing right there! He had one of those ID things, but no, they needed other shit. 

Whatever. 

He’d also tripped twice on the sidewalk and had scraped up his stupid fragile human skin. He missed his normal protective skin scales. He’d been up all night trying to figure out how to rearrange his human organs, but it was far harder than you think okay? And he hadn’t even really figured it out, and his chest just kinda hurt, and he was tired. 

And apparently couldn’t get a fucking job. 

“This fucking sucks,” Tommy muttered, kicking a random bottle on the street. Humans and their stupid trash made it easy to kick things, but really, it was gross. Tommy sighed, and followed the bottle, picking it up and depositing it in the nearest trash can. AT least those were nearby. 

He had a couple more paces on his list, but he wasn’t exactly thinking it was going to work out well, so he collapsed onto one of the benches (humans also seemed to like benches, though they kinda sucked at making some of them comfortable, what the fuck was that about?) and crossed his arms. 

“Wow, you look like you’re having a rough day, kid,” 

Tommy didn’t flinch, because he was a fucking Badlands agent, son of one of the most feared men in the galaxy, but he definitely looked up really quickly and moved away from a little. It was all tactical though, fuck off. 

It was some random human Tommy had never met before. He was wearing a beanie and had a white shirt on, with those straps- fuck what were they called? Suspensions? No, that wasn't it. Whatever. He looked stupid. 

“You look stupid,” Tommy replied “Who wears a beanie, and fucking- what, the stupid pant straps?” 

“What?” The man asked, a peal of disbelieving laugher slipping out “The fuck- you mean my suspenders?” 

“They’re stupid, whatever they’re called. especially paired with a beanie,” Tommy said “So I don’t think you have any room to be talking about how I look bitch,” 

“Hey, hey, hey,”  the stranger said, putting his hands up. His accent was different- not the same as Technoblade’s but closer to his than Tommy’s, “Listen, you’re the one bleeding here, and sitting on the bench looking like someone stole your puppy or some shit,” 

“Well, I’m not the one who approached a stranger on the streets. That’s kinda stalkerish of you,” Tommy said.  

“My name is Quackity,” the stranger- Quackity said “Or, well, that’s what everyone calls me anyway. See, now I’m not a stranger anymore. What’s your name kid?” 

Tommy wanted to ask what sort of weird name Quackity was but had also literally met a Sapnap the night before so he supposed maybe it wasn't that weird. Even if he was weird, honestly, Tommy was pretty sure he could take the guy if it came to it. Probably. “Tommy. Tommy Innit-Dude.” 

“Nice to meet you, Tommy,” Quackity said with a grin, offering a hand. Oh! Tommy knew what to do with that. He slapped it proudly. Quackity’s smile turned slightly pained. “Care to tell me what happened to your face? The cut looks pretty gnarly,” 

Tommy scoffed “Would you believe me if I said that stopped someone from getting robbed?” 

“Yeah, no,” Quackity said, shaking his head. 

“What about if I was the one doing the robbing, aye? Maybe I’m a dirty thief,” Tommy suggested. Anything was better than admitting he just didn’t have great control over his stupid human body. 

“Also no, sorry man,” Quackity said with a laugh.

“Fine,'' Tommy admitted “I was leaving another shitty job interview and I, uh, ran into the door. Then I fell on the steps,” he cocked his head, refusing to make eye contact, how embarrassing could he be?

Quackity, for some reason, still looked like he didn’t quite believe it, but didn’t press the issue. Maybe his face was just shit. “A bad job interview, huh?” 

“Yeah, I’ve been to three places. No one will hire me because I don’t have any experience,” Tommy muttered “Which is bullshit,” 

“Well, it probably doesn’t help that you’re what, 15?” Qauckity said “Most places don’t want to hire kids who have school and stuff,” 

“Fuck off, I’m not a kid!” Tommy exclaimed. He knew, he knew that yes, he was 16 in human years. He couldn’t help it. But he didn’t really look that young did he? “I’m an adult!” 

“Sure you are,” Quackity said after a moment of silence and it was hard to miss the skepticism. “So you graduated school?” 

“I was homeschooled,” Tommy said. That was… pretty much true. He did a little time at Camarvan, but Sam, his uncles, and a handful of tutors did most of his schooling, and his human research was very self-driven. 

“Oh, yeah, that might be part of the problem, especially if you don’t have a transcript or resume,” Quackity said. 

Tommy actually did have both of those in his files at home, but they probably would cause more harm than good when applying at a human restaurant. He was pretty sure that his extensive projects on anti-gravitational engineering wouldn’t exactly go over well. 

“Yeah, well, whatever. I can still work. I’m not fucking stupid,” Tommy grumbled, kicking at the sidewalk.  “Gotta pay rent and shit,”

“Rent?” 

“I’m eighteen, remember?” Tommy said,  “I have to pay rent,” 

Quackity’s face, for a split second, darkened, before his smile was back in place,
Rent? You got somewhere to live then?” 

“I only slept on the street one night,” Tommy jokes, but Quackity didn’t laugh. Lame. “Anyway, yeah, I need to pay rent, dumbass,” 

“Well, you better find a job then, huh?” 

“Yeah, no shit. And that’s been going real fucking well,” Tommy said, glaring at him. Was this human mocking him? 

“Well, listen, I know someone- she’s worked with my kids before and if you come with a reference for me she won’t look too hard at your resume- or lack of one,” Quackity said, as he began to dig around in his pocket, before producing a small piece of paper. A business card, if Tommy remembered correctly. Obviously, he did, “Here, take this, tell ‘em that I sent you, she'll give you a job,” 

Tommy took it, but made a face “You have a kid?” 

Quackity laughed “Oh no, no, no,” Quackity said “I just help people out. I’m a social worker. It’s kinda my job,”

Tommy was pretty sure he knew what a social worker was. He was pretty sure they worked in strip clubs. Or, maybe they were the ones that did the foster care shit on earth. Could be either really, based on Quackity. 

“You’re an odd one Quackity,” Tommy said after a moment, but took the paper “This better not being a fucking trap- you better not be a wrongun,” 

“Nope, I’m just trying to help,” Quackity said, “Wait, here, take this. You might wanna wipe the blood off your face, you know? 

“Oh, yeah,” Tommy said, stuffing the piece of fabric in his pocket. He’d have to find a bathroom or something to do it in. “Thanks. Don’t stalk me or whatever,” 

Puffy had given Wilbur a very stern talking to the night before when he’d mentioned he didn’t know what stranger danger was. Tommy knew, but Puffy had been right scary about it. 

Tommy read the card Quackity had given him. 

Rosethorn Nursery and Florist’

There was an address printed underneath- Tommy would have to try and use the navigation on his human phone to get there. 

As he walked away, Tommy thought he heard Quackity say something, but when he turned around the other man was just muttering angrily into his phone- something about not being able to take on any more cases… Tommy couldn’t catch the rest of it as Quackity moved out of the human hearing range. 

Huh.

That was weird. Whatever. He just hoped that Quackity got him this job. 

 

Most of the jobs on the list sounded horrible. Technoblade wasn't cut out for customer service. Once, when he was just past his naming ceremony and didn’t know what he wanted to do, he got a job and one of the few markets on Netheria. 

He lasted a week before he physically fought someone and quit. 

Since physical violence was common on Netherria he wouldn’t have gotten fired or anything, but Technoblade had learned quickly that it was not his calling. 

Unfortunately literally every job on the list was customer service. 

He refused to work in a restaurant. He would rather be homeless. Which. He didn’t even really need the job. He’d gotten enough Earth money that he could easily pay for rent for three months, and then when the invasion launched he’d obviously not need rent. Or a stupid human job.

But he had to get one, for his cover. 

He was going to demand a raise when he got home. They didn’t pay him enough for this. 

Technoblade glanced down at his paper. He hadn’t actually visited anywhere yet- none of them look appealing, but he was pretty sure that he was getting close to one of the last ones Jack had listed. In fact, he was pretty sure he could see the sign down the street. 

Just as he’d planned. Yep. Always a plan. 

Technoblade didn’t trust Jack. He lacked hair, and while that was normal for some races, it wasn't for humans, and honestly, Jack just seemed odd. Technoblade was at least relieved to be certain Jack had not been propositioning him that first day and was actually just cursing at him.  He repressed a shudder. 

Technoblad pushed his way into the building, it was rather small, and a little dark, and there appeared to be no one side. Though, to be fair, there were dozens of bookshelves, on two stories, that created a twisting maze that many humans could easily hide in. 

“Uh, hello?” Technoblade called after a minute. Did anyone even work here? 

He turned back to look at the door.  The sign definitely said open, so at least he hadn’t broken in. At least there was that. 

There was a crash from upstairs, as well as a few muffled… he wasn’t sure if they were human curses or not. He’d never heard one say “honk” before. Then, a guy with shaggy brown hair and a horribly bright purple and green hoodie popped up beside the railing, “Just a second! Sorry!” 

A moment later he came clattering down a staircase off to the left, then ran across the room, skidding to a halt behind the counter “Hello! Hi! Welcome to Tales Bookstore! I’m Karl, sorry about the wait, I was uh, shelving and sometimes I get a little in the zone. But how can I help you today? I can provide recommendations for any genre and if we don't have what you want out here I have tons of overstock. You look like a fantasy guy- no wait, an action guy! Or maybe Philosophy-  ” 

“I’m uh, I’m here for the job opening,” Technoblade said, cutting Karl off. Technically that was rude in human culture, but he didn’t care. “I was-” 

“The job opening!” Karl exclaimed, eyes lighting up. He vaulted over the desk, instead of walking around it like a sane being, and bounded up to Technoblade, stopping uncomfortably close to him. Didn’t humans usually like personal space? “You- you really came for the job opening? Oh my god! I almost forgot I’d posted it! Have you ever worked in a book store before? Do you have a resume?” 

“I don’t have a resume,” Technobabble admitted. He wasn’t exactly sure what that word meant. hE hadn’t learned that one “And uh, I worked in a market for like a week once?” 

“You know what, good enough for me,” Karl said, clapping his hands together. “This is great! I’ve had that posted for ages and no one had ever applied. This is great! C’mon, we can get started on your training now,” 

Technoblade hoped that he managed to hide his grimace as Karl chattered excitedly about all the things they needed to do. 

“You look like a reader,” Karl said “I think you’ll fit in perfectly here! Gosh, I’m so excited! Thank you so much for applying. I can pay, uh, $16 an hour? Is that okay? Well, we can work those details out later when you sign the paperwork and stuff, but first, let’s do the tour then training. That makes sense, c’mon we’ll start upstairs- ooh watch the books sometimes I forget to shelf them-” 

Technobabble had nearly tripped on three stacks of haphazardly placed books on the way to the stairs and was only just managing not to glare at Karl. Actually, he wasn't sure he was succeeding. He didn’t care.

The invasion couldn’t come soon enough. 

Chapter Text

The woman looked down at the card Tommy had handed her, up at him, then back down at the card, mouth pinching. “So Quakcity sent you, huh?” 

“I guess,” Tommy said “He was a fucking weirdo, wearing suspenders for some reason? And a beanie. Weird outfit, to be honest,” 

She snorted “Yeah, sounds like Big Q..” 

SHe gave him another critical look and Tommy shifted- not nervously, TommyInnit didn’t get fucking nervous, but… she was staring at him hard. Had he accidentally shifted a non-human trait? Fuck, sometimes when he got nervous he sprouted a tail. He resisted the urge to turn around and check. 

“You know anything about flowers or plants in general, kid?” She asked, finally. 

“Uh…” Tommy couldn’t exactly tell her that he’d spent hours with Ponk in one of the most high tech greenhouses in the world, learning about some of the rarest plants in the fucking universe, and listening to Ponk talk about all the ways they were used in medicine and how he was going to genetically engineer them to make them more affection. 

Also the stories about how he stole half his samples from other planets illegally, but- 

“Not really,” he finally admitted, because it was true. They didn’t have any samples of Earth plants in the Badlands, unfortunately. He was excited to learn though. This job was literally a fucking dream come true. Ponk would be so jealous when they read Tommy’s report about this!

She studied him for an uncomfortable moment more, then nodded resolutely to herself, as if making a decision. “Well, that’s fine. We’ll figure it out. I’m Hannah, by the way. I own the place,” 

Hannah stuffed the card in the pocket of her bright pink apron. “I wasn’t really looking to hire right now, but I owe Quackity one, so I'll find something for you to do. I can’t promise a ton of hours though, since I’ve already got staff on the payroll” she said lightly. 

Tommy wasn’t entirely sure what that meant but nodded “Nah, that’s poggers. I just need a job,” 

Hannah laughed “Poggers? God, don’t say that in front of Boomer. He’s always trying to use new slang and it never really works out for him,” 

Tommy had no idea what the hell a Boomer was- maybe a person?- but nodded like he did 

“Okay, well, listen, I really didn’t have time to prepare for this, so Just… write down your phone number. I’ll call you tomorrow when I get a schedule worked out and someone who can train you in place,” Hannah said, pulling a light pink notebook from her apron, along with a pen. 

When Tommy wrote his phone number down, he realized that the ink was sparkly. It was fucking awesome. “Woah,” he said, eyes wide “Your ink- it- it fucking sparkles!” 

Hannah laughed “Well, Tommy, it is a glitter pen,” 

“That’s fucking poggers,” Tommy said, eyeing it with awe. Humans put glitter in pens! That was going in his fucking report. How fucking cool! 

“Okay, well, if you like it that much you can just keep it. I have like, sixty behind the counter,” Hannah said, “Just leave the paper on the counter on your way out,” 

“Hannah,” He said earnestly “You are literally the best. My favorite woman used to be the Queen, but it’s now you, though she still ranks a close second,” 

Hannah laughed again, though she looked a little confused this time. “Okay, just- go on. Enjoy your day kid,” 

“Not a fucking kid!” Tommy called, as he headed of the door, placing his paper down on the counter. 

He wasn't sure if Hannah replied as he pushed back onto the street. He twirled the glitter pen in his hands a couple times, before reverently putting it in his pocket. His dad was going to be so impressed!

—-

Wilbur frowned. A bakery? Really? He looked down at the short list of addresses that Jack Manifold (and honestly, what a guy. Wilbur desperately wanted to talk to him more) had given him. Wilbur, admittedly, had taken his sweet time getting ready this morning after getting his list. In his defense, he was trying to make sure that he had his makeup applied everywhere. A, so that his gray skin didn’t peek through, because of all the different colors of skin, humans didn’t come in gray, and so that he would be less translucent in direct light. 

But he’d gotten ready and come to find a bakery of all things. 

He wasn’t exactly… okay it’s not that he’s too good for food service, he’s done it before, certainly but… 

Really? He’s a scientist. He wants to be studying people. 

Well, to be fair, customer service tends to put you in a font and center view of the customers. Even if it is the worst view. It would work. Wilbur can still get usable data from this. If he can get hired. 

“Ayup, Wilbur,” Tommy said, practically appearing out of nowhere. “How goes the job search?” 

Tommy had texted him earlier after Jack had shown Tommy how to send them. Wilbur had teased him for not knowing but had secretly desperately needed those instructions as well. Thankfully some of the tech guys (Fundy, really) had managed to figure out how to almost exactly duplicate a human phone. 

Tommy had asked where he was, and Wilbur sent the address, more out of the novelty of sending a human text from a human phone, and hadn’t thought that Tommy would actually, you know, show up. 

“What are you doing here?” He asked. 

“I wanted to see how your job search was going, dumbass,” Tommy said, rolling his eyes. That was one human action Wilbur hadn’t quite figured out. He’d tried it the night before and Puffy thought he was having a seizure for a second. 

“Well, I just stared,” Wilbur said, perhaps a touch defensively “What about you? I’m sure none of these stores wanted to hire a child,” 

Wilbur was teasing but he was actually a touch concerned. What if Tommy couldn’t get a job? Would Phil kick him out? Wilbur wasn’t sure- that was a thing that happened when you didn’t pay rent, but would Phil? he seemed so nice. 

Maybe Wilbur could pay it for him, he’d hate for Tommy who seemed hesitant to even talk about his family, to be out alone. Wilbur wouldn’t let it happen. He wouldn’t. 

“Fuck you I did get a job,” Tommy spat, crossing his arms. “I’m the newest employee at a highly esteemed nursery and florist shop, thanks,” 

Wilbur was very, very confused. weren’t nurseries for like… small children? babies? Did a florist mean laying floors? why on earth would a baby need new floors? 

But it wasn’t like Wilbur could just ask that, so he smiled. “Oh really? I’m surprised then. you’re a little loud for the job, id think.” 

“Plants thrive under noise, I’ll have you know,” Tommy said loftily. 

What the fuck did plants have to do with anything? 

“Alright,” Wilbur said slowly “Well, I'm going in here to fill out an application so why don’t you just… sit here?” 

Tommy scoffed “Fine. maybe I didn’t want to go in the shitty bakery with you anyway.” 

Oh. Oh . Tommy wanted to go in with him. He looked so sad, glaring at the ground. Maybe Wilbur was being rude? Had he fucked up a human custom? 

“Alright, fine, you can come in,” Wilbur relented. “Just- try not to get us kicked out of this store,” 

“Hey!” Tommy protested as he followed Wilbur into the store “That was literally your fucking fault,” 

“Hmm,” Wilbur said, pretending to think about it, tapping his chin like he’d seen in the human movie Tubbo had forced them to watch after dinner “Not how I remember it,” 

“Fuck you,” Tommy grumbled, slouching down. The bakery wasn’t empty but only a few people were there, mostly sitting at tables with their computers or phones. 

“Hello!” A woman said brightly at the counter. Her hair was a soft blonde, with darker roots. Wilbur had learned that humans often dyed their hair, as some sort of ritual. He was almost certain that, like the fridge, it was some sort of cultural cornerstone. Though, since it was less widespread, it was a more personal ritual, that was a direct act of worship. “Welcome to Sweetheart Bakery, my name is Niki, how can I help you today?” 

“Hello,” Wilbur said, offering her his best smile, without showing off his sharp teeth “My name is Wilbur and I’m here about the job opening?” 

“Oh!” The woman said, her face lighting up, “That’s wonderful! Let me go grab an application, I’ll be right back, alright?” 

She didn’t give him a chance to respond before she vanished into what was presumably the kitchen. 

“Big man,” Tommy said quietly, suddenly sidling up beside him. “I don’t know if you want to apply for this job,” 

“Why not?” Wilbur asked, alarmed. Was there some sort of red flag that he missed? He hadn’t seen anything alarming. 

Tommy scowled “She hit me with a broom, and called me homeless!” 

“What?” Wilbur exclaimed, more loudly than he meant to, and several heads snapped up. His wings tried to jump in surprise under their bindings, but he forced them to stay still

“What?” He repeated more quietly, bordering on a hiss. Literally. He had to reign the concern in “What are you talking about?” 

“I fell asleep in her alleyway,” Tommy said “She woke me up by poking me with a broom and asking if I was shameless! Fucking rude,” 

Relief flooded Wilbur. He didn’t know much about human homelessness, but sleeping in a fucking alley was a pretty good indication across cultures. “Tommy, you slept in her alley. I… people who aren’t homeless don’t usually do that,” 

“Whatever” Tommy said grumpily “She didn’t have to poke me with a broom,” 

“She probably thought that you had diseases,” Wilbur hissed “A dirty kid sleeping in the street would make me think they had diseases,” 

Whatever protest Tommy had died in his throat, as Niki bustled back out, papers in hand. “Here!” She exclaimed, offering them to Wilbur “Fill these out if you don’t mind. It’s more of a formality than anything,, since we've had so few applications, but I do need the paperwork,” 

Her eyes slid over to Tommy and widened slightly. “Oh! You’re back!” she exclaimed “Did you find your way to Phil’s, then? No more sleeping in my alley” 

“We both did,” Wilbur cut in. Maybe it was rude, but it would probably be worse if Tommy insulted his potential employer. Besides, Niki seemed nice. 

“Are the two of you brothers then?” Niki asked, looking between them. 

Wilbur gaped a moment, and even Tommy was speechless for a second. “No, no,” Wilbur said finally “We’re both just renting rooms from Phil,” 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” She said, blushing lightly “I didn’t mean to assume, and-” 

There was a clatter from the back and Niki gasped, “Sorry! Take a seat and fill those out- I’ll be right back!” she called, darting back into the kitchen. 

“Hear that Wilbur,” Tommy goaded, as they made their way to one of the tables “SHe thinks we’re brothers,” 

“I literally already corrected her Tommy,” Wilbur said, looking over the papers. It didn’t seem like it was a complicated application. They weren’t family- humans had very tight family units and even if Tommy wasn’t exactly close to his family, for whatever reason, he was still defensive of them. 

“Nah, but someone said it. We’re brothers now Wil, do you see me like a brother?” Tommy pushed, but Wilbur did his best to ignore him. This was a conversation he was not qualified to have. Besides he was supposed to do paperwork. Honestly Wilbur kinda hated paper work, but-, 

“Tommy I’m trying to focus,” Wilbur said because he really wasn’t ready to think that a human might be trying to pack bond with him already. Even if it was Tommy. Tommy huffed, but slumped in his seat and relented. 

“Shit,” Wilbur said  a moment later“I don’t have a pen to fill it out,” 

Tommy sat straight up, “I’ve got one!” He exclaimed, and produced a bright pink pen from his pocket “Here!” 

“Oh. Thanks,” Wilbur said, taking it from Tommy. Maybe humans carried pens around all the time? Wilbur did when he was at work in the lab, but not just out and about, that was kinda weird, but maybe humans did. It would need to go in his notes, as something to investigate further. That list got longer every single day. 

Wilbur uncapped it and had already written out his full human name when he realized that the pen was pink, and that… was that glitter?

What the fuck? 

“Tommy, what is this?” Wilbur asked, looking between the pen and Tommy, who was smiling gleefully. 

“It’s a glitter pen, big man,” Tommy exclaimed, sounding so proud Wilbur didn’t have the heart to complain. “Isn’t it just the coolest? Glitter pens are simply superior pens,” 

“Oh, right. Thanks, Tommy,” Wilbur said, and honestly? Now he was kind of excited to have it. Maybe it was a normal thing! Just another normal human thing for Wilbur to do!

Sweet!

—-

Technoblade had finally escaped Karl after what felt like years of being trapped in that bookstore. 

He’d rather literally go through his public combat trail, as required by Netherria for anyone who wanted to apply to become an official representative for the Syndicate. He’d won, but after spending two weeks defeating over a thousand challengers he’d been a little tired. 

Karl was somehow worse. 

He was so loud and so energetic. He didn’t seem like a bad guy, but Techno was exhausted and he’d only been there like two hours. 

And he’d be there for like five the next day for further training. Not that the job was hard though. He literally put books on the shelves, and they sold books. Now, he didn’t totally understand human money yet, but Karl told him that they’d work on that tomorrow. He was not looking forward to that. 

So far, the only piece of humanity that seemed halfway decent was Phil, and maybe Puffy, though he hadn’t gotten a good read on her yet. Tommy had texted him earlier but he’d ignored it. Partially because Karl had been talking about how to shelf books, and partially because he hadn’t paid attention when Jack had shown Tommy how to do it this morning. 

What sort of looser human didn’t know how to do that? Technoblade was pretty sure he knew, but he wasn't a human, so it wasn’t his problem. 

But, his escape from Karl didn’t mean that he’d escape the torment that the void forsaken planet inflicted on him. NOt only did he have to go abc to the house he shared with two of the most annoying humans he’d met (Karl was still better than Wilbur, honestly), but he didn’t even make it in the door without running into problems. 

Well. Not literally. He probably could’ve walked by, but when those weird agents were out there again, he couldn’t just walk by. 

It looked like one of them was in the car, napping in the driver's seat, while the other two were…hiding in the scraggly bushes in Phil’s front yard with binoculars. They were both wearing green suits with obviously fake leaves attached to them. One of them, Snapchat maybe, was still wearing his bandana.  He stopped dead in his tracks, about 

Was this some sort of human joke? He was pretty sure it wasn’t but… wow. If this was the best humanity had to offer, the Syndicate couldn’t even save them. “Are you supposed to be hiding?” Technoblade asked, after watching them for about five minutes and no indication of them noticing that he was there. 

“Shit!” Snapchat yelled, falling over. He reached out and grabbed the other one- Green or something- in an attempt to stay upright, but just ended up pulling both of them to the ground. 

“Fucking- what the hell Sapnap!” Green said. 

“Sorry Dream he came out of fucking nowhere!” 

Ah. So Sapnap and Dream, not Snapchat and Green. Whatever. 

“Is there anything I can help you two with, or would you rather just sit in the bushes?” Technoblade asked flatly, hoping that he was glaring at them. They looked ridiculous, honestly. Humans just dressed like fools, honestly. 

“Actually, I mean if you’re willing to help us- ouch, hey!” Sapnap said, rubbing the top of his head where Dream had hit him with the binoculars. 

“No, we’re good,” Dream said “We’re investigating you,” 

“Yeah, but if you want to help,” Sapnap butted back in, glaring at Dream “Can you tell us if there are any aliens living here?” 

“Oh my god,m” Dream muttered, burying his face in his hands. He seemed like an idiot, but perhaps he was the least idiotic of the three. That wasn't exactly a high bar though. 

“Aliens?” Technoblade asked, playing it cool. He kept his voice flat. “You think there are aliens here?” 

“Uh,” Sapnap suddenly seemed hesitant and glanced over at Dream. 

“Oh so now you’re concerned,” Dream grumbled. Technoblade imagined that behind his mask and sunglasses he was glaring. Also. Why was he wearing sunglasses? That made no sense “After you already spilled the beans. That’s it, I’m taking you back to the car and we’re leaving,” 

“Aww, but Dream he was going to-” 

“Shut up Sapnap,” Dream groaned “Nope, you ruined it. It’s ruined for today. Oh my god.” 

“Well, he saw us through your stupid disguises,” Sapnap protested as Dream practically dragged him toward the car “I told you they wouldn’t work,” 

“No, they were your disguises. I wanted to stay in the van,” 

“Bro, that is literally a lie!” Sapnap shouted. Technoblade took that as his que to leave. He turned around and walked in the front door, leaving the two agents arguing on the front lawn. 

Really, it was getting ridiculous. However…stupid as they were if they truly suspected an alien was here then he was in danger. The Syndicate had been so careful, he had no idea how a trio of idiotic humans had figured it out if they actually knew. He’d have to ensure that he acted perfectly human from here on out. No slip-ups. 

This was going to be harder than he thought. The last thing he needed was to be found out so soon. 

—- 

Phil spent most of his day in his lab. He’d taken a couple of good naps in the middle of the day, since he’d started work around two am, once Puffy went home and the boys were long in bed. He’d had a productive day. He’d finished up the equations that his boss needed in time to send his theoretical mock-ups with Puffy when she left for work around eight. 

He’d then taken the day for his own time, to work on alien stuff. He’d managed to get a rather large cache of incoming data and had spent most of the day decoding the information, but he’d heard someone arrive home and figured it was time for a break anyway. 

He found Wilbur first, in the kitchen. “Phil!” Wilbur exclaimed happily, a smile lighting up his face as Phil entered the back door “Good to see you again!” 

“You saw me last night mate,” Phil reminded him with a laugh “But good to see you too. Did you have a productive day? Was Jack helpful?” 

“Oh, Jack was brilliant!” Wilbur exclaimed. Phil was glad to hear that. All of the boys needed friends, and Jack seemed like the right kind of guy. He had at least two people that hung out with him regularly, so he seemed to have a pretty rich social life. 

Maybe he’d be a good influence.

Not too good though- too good would be boring. 

“That’s good to hear,” Phil said, “Care for some tea?” 

“Sure, I just had some chicken, and I’m a bit thirsty,” Wilbur said, taking a seat at the table. As Phil busied himself making the tea, he noticed that there were no dirty dishes. How nice! Wilbur must’ve cleaned up already since Phil was pretty sure he’d only gotten raw chicken breast at the store. The last guys had been terrible about dishes, and Phil, admittedly, wasn't great himself. Having someone tidy around would be nice!

“I see you already did the dishes. Thanks, mate,” Phil said, as he sat a cup of tea in front of Wilbur. Wilbur looked confused for a moment, before nodding. Poor guy, must not be used to being complimented. Phil was a master of positive reinforcement, though. 

“Oh, uh yeah. No problem,” Wilbur took a sip of his tea and Phil took that chance to settle in the chair across from him. 

“So how was your day Phil?” Wilbur asked. 

Phil grinned “Oh it was brilliant! I got some of the best data I’ve gotten in a while!” 

Wilbur’s eyes lit up and Phil hid a grin in his mug. Bingo. Wilbur was naturally curious, and had mentioned that he liked science. Data seemed right up his alley and Phil had been right. Take that Puffy, other people did like to talk shop!

“What sort of data?” Wilbur asked, leaning forward. 

“Well, I’m still trying to decode it,” Phil admitted “I’ve already filtered out the unimportant stuff, like satellite pings, NHS data, and military communications. Now I’ve just got the unknown bits to work through. Some of them will end up being nothing, but hey, if an alien has tried to send a message to Earth, there’s at least a chance I’ve got it. I’ve basically got all our incoming communications data” 

“Wow,” Wilbur said with wide eyes “that’s impressive Phil. How long did it take for you to develop the technology for that?” 

Phil shrugged “Oh, my receiver was made about six years ago. I have other newer equipment, that’s just my most reliable,” 

“What other sort of equipment do you have?” Wilbur asked. 

Phil grinned this was fucking awesome. Wilbur was the best. 

— 

After Phil finished explaining his favorite tool, one that helped capture breaches of Earth’s atmosphere (it didn’t catch everything, but it certainly did a lot) Tommy burst into the room from the back door, Tubbo trailing behind him. 

They were both covered in either ash or mud. Phil wasn't sure. With Tubbo, it could be anything. 

“Hello kings,” Tommy said with a cheeky grin “Don’t mind us,” 

“Yep, just going to play Mario Kart. Maybe I’ll techno Tommy about Minecraft next,” Tubbo piped up. 

“That sounds like a great idea,” Phil said. Tommy would probably love Minecraft- but really who didn’t- “But, Tubbo- no soot on the couch, or you’re mum will kill both of us,” 

Tubbo groaned “Ugh, it’s not even soot-” 

“It’s mud and oil!” Tommy exclaimed gleefully “I got a job at a nursery and florist so Tubo wa showing me plants and shit. And I worked on my bike since I fucked something up earlier.” 

“I’m not a botanist, but I know which ones are poisonous,” Tubbo chimed in. Phil knew that- he’d gotten Tubbo that specific plant guide for Christmas when he was twelve. Tubbo glared at Tommy “Hey! You didn’t tell me about that, dickhead! I could’ve helped,” 

“I’ve already fixed it,” Tommy said and Phil wondered if he was lying. Tommy’s motorcycle had taken some pretty good damage. “Don’t worry. Let’s just go play our games!” 

“That’s great, but you two gotta change before you sit on the couch,” Phil said, “Now, go. Shoo, have fun,” 

Phil chuckled “Little shits,” he said to Wilbur, perhaps a touch affectionately. Tubbo was the closest thing he had to a son and while he’d only known Tommy a few days, he seemed nice. A bit too sheltered, but was coming along nicely. 

Wilbur stared at him quizzically “Hey Phil,” he said after a moment “I don’t think I’ve seen Tommy actually wearing another set of clothes,” 

Phil’s eyes widened. Oh shit. 

“Tommy,” he called, already halfway out of his seat. Where was his phone? Maybe Puffy could pick up clothes on her way home…




Chapter Text

Tommy found that working for Hannah wasn’t all that different from working for Ponk in the greenhouses back home, once he got the hang of things. 

Sure, Hannah and Boomer were humans, and the plants were all Earth plants, but it was a lot of the same things like watering, treating the soils, moving them to new pots. Since they were all Earth plants there was no need to have separate atmospheric containers for particularly picky plants, but Tommy didn’t mind not having to wear a fucking rebreather suit every day. 

The only real downside is that they didn’t sing to their plants, which, honestly? So not pog. 

“Tommy, what the fuck are you doing?” Boomer asked as they came up behind Tommy “You’re supposed to be watering plants,” 

Tommy broke off the song he’d been singing to the tomato plants- something he’d heard on the human radio a few years ago- he didn’t quite know the words, but with his brilliant vocals what did it matter? 

“I am watering them,” Tommy said “With love. And with my beautiful voice,”

Boomer raised an eyebrow “Hey man, that’s cool and all, but these plants need actual water to survive,” 

“I’m not an idiot,” Tommy scoffed “I already gave them the water and shit. Now I’m singing to them. Obviously,” 

“Obviously,” Boomer said, but Tommy wasn’t an idiot, really, and he could see the skepticism on Boomer’s face “Well, Hannah’s not gonna be happy if she finds you back here just singing to the plants. There’s actual work that needs to be done around here dude,” 

“This is actual work you asshole!” Tommy snapped “And I’ll go ask Hannah myself then. Fine!” 

— 

Hannah, unfortunately, had told him that if he wanted to sing to the plants he had to do it on his break, because she wasn’t paying a musician. Tommy was aghast. Ponk too would be horrified. PLants grew so much better when they were loved. Humans had so much to learn. The Badlands would ensure they got all that straightened out, of course. Tommy would make sure that was at the top of his report. 

But in the meantime, he did have to take a break from compiling the report in his head to like. Help customers and shit. 

Tommy didn’t do any of the floral design bullshit that Hannah did. She was good at it, but Tommy had no idea how she arranged that to look so nice. All plants looked nice, but apparently, humans had very specific standards, and honestly, the bouquets were pog, so he couldn’t disagree. Instead, Tommy had to do manual labor, then help old people pick out whatever plant they wanted to put in their windows or whatever. 

That would be fine, except Tommy didn’t trust any of those people within ten yards of his plants. 

Of course, they weren’t actually his plants and h had to sell them to people, but stars, it was so hard to watch those plants leave, when he knew those idiots didn’t even know how to properly place them so that they would get a proper amount of light. 

“Tommy if you glare at them any harder they’re going to combust,” Hannah said, as she walked by Tommy, patting him on the shoulder. 

Tommy straightened, staring after Hannah, who was walking over to the two dudes staring at Tommy’s beautiful, wonder gardenias. What the fuck? Humans didn’t have laser eyes- did they? 

Tommy wracked his brain, but, well, there was that one guy, from the shows- Superdude?-with laser eyes. And Tommy was pretty sure Tubbo had been saying something about spontaneous combustion. 

Fuck. 

Tommy wasn’t sure, but he definitely wasn’t going to risk combusting a human and sending them to jail, so even when some rando was talking about putting a snake plant in direct light, Tommy glared at the floor, not their eyes. 

His dad and Bad would kill him if he got sent to jail. Skeppy and Ant would… probably help him get out. They’d probably laugh at him first, but they’d probably hide him. 

Well. Sam would raze the planet to the ground if he went to jail, but he would probably kill Tommy once he got home and Tommy liked humans and he liked living, so really, going jail just wasn't a fucking option. 

That didn’t mean he respected the idiots that didn’t bother to learn how to take care of their plants. If he’d only been on Earth for like nine days, and already knew that shit, they should be able to learn it. 

—- 

It was his fifth day of work, and his second week on Earth, and Tommy had found that he was now in a routine. He usually came in pretty early in the morning and heckled the agents. They were a bit fun to heckle, even if they did follow him when it was his turn to take out the trash.

(He had no idea what they expected him to do, but they still attempted to hide in the sparse bushed and follow him. George was too loud to be any good at it. The night before he’d walked back in while George and Dream shouted at each other).

But, they usually stayed outside Phil’s so he assumed he’d be safe after work, especially since Hannah had decided to close the shop early. With his new extra time, Tommy was looking forward to visiting Technoblade at work because Tommy was excited to see a human bookstore (even if reading was fucking boring, Tommy wanted a plant book. Sue him). 

However, Tommy made it maybe three feet away from the store, before someone started shouting at him, and for a split second, he thought maybe Dream, the asshole, had followed him, which was honestly crossing a line.

“Hey, Thomas, how’s it going?” 

Tommy sighed, very loudly, which was a human signal of immense displeasure, or irritation (Technoblade sighed a lot, it was a bit of a game he and Wilbur played, to see who could make him angrier before Phil stepped in). “Are you a fucking stalker?” 

Quackity, because of course it was Quackity, gasped loudly, as he jogged up beside Tommy. He was still wearing the same stupid outfit. “I’m offended you would think that. I’m not a fucking stalker!” 

“Riddle me this then,” Tommy snapped (he’d heard that phrase on a cartoon once!) “If you’re not fucking stalking me, then why were you waiting outside my job like some sort of creep. That’s pretty stalkerish to me,” 

Quackity made a face “Tommy, c’mon man, I’m just checking in on you,” he paused “Okay, that didn’t sound any better, but I just wanted to make sure you were settling into your new job since I am the one that got it for you,” 

Tommy rolled his eyes “I still think you’re a wrongun,” Tommy said “but the job is great. People are fucking stupid and have no idea how to care for plants, but Hannah says I have to sell them the plants anyway,” 

Quackity snorted “Welcome to customer service, kid,” 

“I’m not a fucking kid,” Tommy snapped “Also, why the fuck are you still following me?” 

“You look like an easy target to rob,” Quackity said “I’m making sure you get home safely,” 

“Well, I’m not going home, dickhead. I’m going to see Technoblade at the bookstore. And I don’t need a babysitter,” Tommy protested. Honestly, though, Quackity seemed like he was actually concerned. Humans got so concerned over nothing. “And no one would try to rob me, the great Tommy Innit-Dude,” 

Quackity grinned “Wow! What a coincidence then! I was actually planning on going to the bookstore after I walked you home anyway, That’s on my list of errands,” 

Tommy was like 87% sure Quackity was lying, but he had no proof of that, so Tommy glared at him but relented “Fine. Whatever. But if you stalk me I’ll bite your hand off,” 

Quackity just laughed. 

—-- 

Technoblade was having…. Not the worst day possible at his job. 

Karl was still annoying, even more so than Wilbur somehow, but not nearly as much of a dick. Still, Karl ranked far below Philza, who was the only acceptable human Techno had met. Karl was just forgetful. However, Karl loved talking to customers and was content to let Technoblade shelves books. Which that was honestly kind of a nightmare, considering he was pretty sure that Karl must have been allergic to shelving the books in any sorta real order, considering tryin’ to find anything was nearly impossible. 

He had no idea if that was an issue with Karl or just humans in general. Based on Phil and Tommy, he was inclined to think that maybe it was just an unfortunate part of the human condition. It was one that Technoblade would be holding against them in his report. 

Which, he should really start writing those things down, just so he didn’t forget them when he finally got to send his report in. 

Three earth months was such a long time. 

But, in the meantime, Technbolade would grit his teeth and shelve the books and mostly avoid the human customers. And- okay. He was technically supposed to be interacting with the humans, yes, but consider one thing. 

It was awkward

Painfully, sometimes. Technoblade didn’t understand humans, at all, and definitely not the ones who came into the shop, askin’ for books that he’d never heard of and had no real, reliable way of finding anything they wanted. He just hated it. It was much easier to shelve books, alright? And what did it matter? Technoblade was going to request invasion. He’d known that from the start, this was all a stupid formality. The committee would vote, but they’d listen to his report and human customer service would be obsolete. 

So really it didn’t matter, okay? 

Of course, that didn’t stop all customers from finding him. 

Especially not when the customer was Tommy, apparently. 

“Technoblade!” Tommy bellowed as the door slammed open. Technoblade grimaced, even though he was on the second level, well hidden behind a set of shelves. Tommy had only come in one other time, and Technoblade had kicked him out. Well. Actually, Technoblade had just suggested he go bother Wilbur instead and Tommy had liked that idea, thank the void. 

Unfortunately, it seemed Tommy was back. Technoblade hoped that this wasn’t going to be a pattern. 

“Tommy, what the fuck is a Technoblade?” 

Technoblade frowned because he didn’t recognize that voice and Technoblade was pretty sure that Tommy’s only friends were the people he’d met through Phil, which honestly? Pretty sad. 

So, instead of hiding in the shelves until Tommy hunted him down, Technoblade sat down his stack of new books and headed out toward the balcony.  Now, he was only concerned, because who knows what kind of weird humans Tommy was bringing into Technoblade’s life. He absolutely didn’t trust Tommy’s judge of character (Especially not when he seemed to like Wilbur, and that Tubbo kid so much) and he was worried about his own reputation. 

That was definitely all there was to it. No concern about Tommy. He was just an annoying little shit. 

“Tommy, you’re gonna scare all the customers away,” Technoblade chastised, as he made his way down the steps. Beside Tommy was a shorter guy, wearing a beanie pulled low. He didn’t look like a criminal, but you never know with humans, 

“You hate customers Tech-no-blade,” Tommy said “So really, if I’m scaring them away, I am doing you a favor,” 

Technoblade sighed “You aren’t... Besides, it looks like you literally brought a customer into the store,” 

“I didn’t bring him, he literally followed me here,” Tommy complained ”I tried to tell him that I didn’t need a babysitter, but he won’t fucking leave me alone. Says I’m a child, can you believe that shit,” 

“You act like a child,” Technoblade grumbled. He wasn’t really sure if Tommy acted like a human child, but in his (admittedly limited) experience, most kids acted the same way. 

Tommy stuck his tongue out, but Technoblade ignored him in favor of the stranger, who was squinting at Technoblade suspiciously. Yeah. Like Technoblade was the suspicious one here when this guy had apparently just followed Tommy, who he thought was a child, around. 

“Oh my god,” The stranger whined “Tommy you’re making me sound like a stalker. Listen, I don’t know who you are, but my name is Quackity. And I’m a friend of Tommy’s,” 

Technoblade squinted at him. “A friend? I know all like three of Tommy’s friends,” Again. Tommy had like two friends.  

“I do too bitch!” Tommy protested “I have so many friends, I’ve got so many friends and so many wives you can’t even comprehend Technoblade,” 

Quackity looked skeptical, and ignored Tommy  “And who are you to know that?” 

Technoblade raised an eyebrow “Tommy and I share a house,” 

“You’re his landlord?” Quackity asked. 

“No,” Tommy cut in “Stop ignoring me, I’m right here, dickfaces. Technoblade has the room across the hall, then Wilbur has the room next to mine, and then Phil owns the house, but he mostly does his weird shit in the basement,” 

“What the fuck?” Quackity said face pinched into a strange, human expression. Technoblade didn’t know exactly what it meant, but it probably wasn't positive. “You just- you pay rent for a single room?” 

Okay, that was it. Technoblade was done with this guy and his weird questions. “Well Quackity, it was nice to meet you, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” 

“Leave? I’m a paying customer, you can’t make me leave!” Quackity protested. 

“You haven’t bought anything,” Technoblade said flatly “And I’m goin’ on my legally mandated break, so we’re closin’ until I get off,” 

“It’s okay big Q!” Tommy said “Don’t take it personally, Technoblade’s just a big bitch.” 

Technoblade held back a scream. He hated humans. So much. He just wanted to go home. He wanted to go back to Netherria, even. No one wanted to go back to Netherria. “C’mon Tommy,” Technoblade said instead, only just managing to not growl. Literally. He was pretty sure humans couldn’t growl. “Go to the breakroom upstairs. I think Karl left some doughnuts in there,” 

Tommy’s face lit up and he practically sprinted for the stairs “Nice! See ya later big Q!” 

That was a lie, but Technoblade had been told humans lied a lot. He’d deal with Tommy once he got the stranger to go away. Quackity seemed to be strange, even by human standards. Also, Karl had told Technoblade something about legally mandated breaks. Humans really liked their laws for some reason. 

“Fine, fine, I get it, I’m leaving. But I’ve got my eyes on you Technoblade,” Quackity said, making a strange motion with one hand. 

Technoblade squinted “Uh, yeah? You’re looking at me right now?” 

Quackity scoffed “I can’t fucking believe you. Listen, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” With that definitely not ominous threat, Quackity stormed out of the bookstore. 

—- 

Wilbur loved his job. 

Sure he wasn't the best at making drinks, or mixing ingredients, or counting human money, or… much of anything at the store really, but what Wilbur was good at, was talking to people. He was pretty sure he’d finally gotten the money thing under his belt because he wasn't stupid, it was just easy to start trying to count it like he would credits, and those systems were very, very different, just let him tell you. 

Wilbur was so excited to introduce humans to the credit system! It would revolutionize things for them. It’d be brilliant, that would. It wouldn’t happen any time soon, but Wilbur was cerian it’d be within his lifetime, though, considering Phantasms lived upwards of four hundred human years, that wasn’t exactly telling. 

(He definitely hadn’t already had a small crisis about the fact that the humans he’d met on this trip, the wonderful, brilliant humans, and Technoblade, likely wouldn’t be alive to see it. Nope! Wilbur was here to study, not get attached)

Wilbur just couldn’t wait for humans to make it out into the galaxy, and get into the L’manburg Federation! Humans would thrive. Even if Phil didn’t get to see it. 

In the meantime, Wilbur satisfied himself with taking orders from humans and making small talk. He much preferred that to trying to make drinks. Chiefly because Wilbur was on Earth to learn about humans, not make their drinks, but also because the scalding water could easily rub his makeup off, and he wasn't too keen on explaining the pale grey skin beneath it. Thankfully Niki was understanding- well, Niki was more than understanding, she was the best- and mostly let him work the register. 

That meant, that even though he was new, he had pretty much memorized all the regulars. His favorite was one of Niki’s friends, Quackity. 

He was a bit of an odd guy, but honestly. Wilbur liked him. They usually ended up arguing over something, even if Wilbur didn’t always quite understand the position he was arguing, it was fun to just debate someone. He’d already played devil’s advocate in an argument about aline life. Quackity said that he believe it was probably out there, so of course, Wilbur couldn’t pass up the chance to rile him up just a bit. 

Even though that argument had ended with Quackity storming out, he’d still left Wilbur a ten-dollar tip and enough excitement that helped him finish off his shift. 

Suffice to say, Wilbur was beyond excited when Quackity walked in. “Quackity!: Wilbur sing-songed as he approached the register. Wobr was almost certain that Quackity must be like Tommy and only own variations of the exact same outfit because he’d only ever seen Qauckity wearing a button-up, suspenders, and a beanie. 

“Hey Wilbur,” Quackity responded, lacking all of his normal enthusiasm. “Can I get the drink that has the most caffeine that you can legally serve me, and a croissant?” 

Wilbur raised his eyebrows even as he scribbled the order down on his notepad. He’d have to charge it after Niki made it since there wasn't exactly a button for that drink. It was also concerning, that Quackity wanted that much caffeine. Most species Wilbur knew were allergic to caffeine on some level. Wilbur didn’t drink it, since it would make him mildly ill, but caffeine would kill a Witherling like Eret, or a Vulpex like Fundy. Humans though consumed it in astronomical amounts, which made Wilbur concerned for them on so many levels. 

“Long day?” he asked. even though it wasn't even three in the afternoon, Quackity looked dead on his feet. 

“Something like that,” Quackity said, sliding to take his normal seat at the bar. “I haven’t slept in like two days, because shit keeps happening, and then today, I was checking in on a kid I helped get a job, and I’m like sixty percent sure he’s been like. Kidnapped or something,” 

Wilbur gaped a moment because what the fuck did he say to that? Did humans regularly go missing? Of course people went missing in L’manburg, but were usually found relatively easily, unless they went to the Badlands or void forbid, the Syndicate. Fucking Syndicate  “Is he missing?” 

Quackity sighed “No, no, it’s- okay- listen, Wilbur, it’s just a weird situation. He claims he’s an adult and has an ID, but I swear to god, he cannot be over sixteen. If he is, I’ll eat my fucking beanie. And he lives in some weird-ass house, and I think that his landlord kidnapped him, or his weird-ass… neighbor? Roommate? I dunno, but get this- he’s just renting a room in a house! Not even a studio apartment!” 

Wilbur frowned. Wuackity just seemed to be describing normal human beahvior. “Quackity, I think you might be blowing this out of proportion,” 

Quackity glared at him “I’m not Wilbur. You haven’t seen this kid. Besides, who rents rooms out in a house? This isn’t the fucking eighteen hundreds,” 

“I rent a single room, Quackity. I think maybe you’re just out of the loop,” Wilbur said, with a laugh. Maybe renting a room wasn’t that common, but it couldn’t be that uncommon, right? Quackity did seem to be a dramatic guy “Just chill out man,” 

Quackity narrowed his eyes at Wilbur. Wilbur was pretty sure that meant that Quackity was suspicious. “You live with a big dude with pink hair?” 

“Yeah! That’s Technoblade! Technoblade can be a pompous ass, but he’s not a bad guy” Wilbur exclaimed, because that’s a small world! He couldn’t believe that Quackity had met Technoblade, what were the odds. And, it was good to know that he could relieve at least some of Wauckity’s stress about the whole situation. “And is the kid you’re talking about Tommy? Because he really is eighteen, Quackity. You’ve just got it all wrong.”

Quackity had a strange expression on his face. “You’re telling me you know about all this?” 

Wilbur’s hands stilled from where he was wiping down the cabinets (very carefully as not to get the solution on his skin, mind) “Quackity” Wilbur said tightly “I don’t know exactly what you’re trying to say here, really, but I’d ask you that you think carefully about what you say next,” 

Wilbur wasn’t going to hurt Quackity, obviously, but he wasn't going to let Quackity talk about his humans. Er. The humans that Wilbur was most directly studying. 

Before Quackity could say much of anything, a gaggle of wealthy-looking young people (whose presence Wilbur had already learned to dread deeply) entered the shop. It wasn’t that he minded their orders, they just tipped really poorly. He hadn’t known they were rich until Niki told him, but he was now more than happy to commiserate with her. 

By the time he’d taken all their orders, Quackity’s coffee was done, but when Wilbur went to bring it to him, he was gone, only a wad of cash in his place, though it was barely enough to cover the coffee let alone be a decent tip. 

Weird. 

—--- 

“I had a very strange phone call yesterday,” Puffy said. Once again Phil was down in his lab, and her voice was echoing over speakerphone. It was the middle of the afternoon, for once, so she was probably on her lunch break. He hadn’t been able to sleep during his normal mid day time, so he decided to get some work done while the house was quiet. Having the others around was nice, but not always conducive to him getting work done, and his real boss was starting to get on his ass about it. 

Technoblade was the only one home, and generally didn’t like to get up on his days off until around noon, and even then, everyone had learned it was best not to bother Technoblade first thing in the morning. Er, afternoon. He got grumpy, especially for a guy who refused to drink coffee. He called it poison. Sure it wasn't the best for you, but it wasn't poison . Tea was much better, of course, but Technoblade didn’t drink that either, the heathen. 

“Mhm,” Phil said, as he stared at the equations he was supposed to be working on. He  “That so?” 

“Foolish called me,” Puffy started and Phil couldn’t help but laugh. 

“How’s that odd?” Phil asked“I know you technically adopted Tubbo, but I think you got his social worker as a two for one special,” 

Foolish had been Tubbo’s main caseworker and had completed all the home checks and visits when Puffy was first fostering, then later on in the adoption process. Foolish had, however, practically become part of the family. It was a bit unethical, and Foolish ended up resigning after all of Puffy’s paperwork went through. He was working as an architect now, Phil thought. He was pretty good at it, but visited Puffy pretty often, though it was equally likely not to hear from him for nearly a month, 

“If you would let me finish I’d tell you how it’s weird,” Puffy chided. 

“Sorry, sorry, go on,” Phil said, turning back to his equations. God only knew what Foolish was up to. 

“He called me from… Hong Kong, I think. We had a good talk. He’s working on some new skyscraper. It’s not his passion project but I think he’s getting paid pretty well, so he took the assignment, but that’s not the point. The point is that he got a call from Quackity,” 

Phil paused, chewing his lip in contemplation. “Quackity,” he muttered. The name sounded familiar, but he couldn’t quite place who that was “Gotta give me a refresher there mate,” 

“He shadowed Foolish, while we were going through the adoption process. He was just finishing up his certification for social work or something. He only came once or twice though,” Puffy explained. 

Phil snapped as the proverbial lightbuld went off “Oh yeah! I remember him a bit. Always wore that fucking beanie- didn’t believe in aliens,  right?”

Puffy snorted “Of course, that’s what you remember, but yes,” 

“So what about him?” Phil prompted. 

“Well apparently, in some roundabout way, Quackity met Tommy, Technoblade, and Wilbur a couple days ago. He has apparently done some research and now  thinks that Tommy is in an unsafe living situation. He thinks that you and Technoblade kidnapped Tommy or something, and wanted Foolish’s help on getting information about you or something,,” 

“What?” Phil said dropping his pencil “What the fuck? Why on earth would he think that?” 

“Quackity is also convinced that Tommy is sixteen,” Puffy continued, ignoring Phil “Which, honestly, I know he has an ID, but I can’t blame him. But regardless, Quackity wanted Foolish to do some digging. I told Foolish that everything was fine,” 

“I fucking hope you did!” Phil interjected, because holy shit. Kidnapping? 

“I told Foolish to assure Quackity things were fine, but Foolish warned me that Quackity was persistent, so don’t be surprised if he shows up outside, or something,” Puffy said “and while obviously, you didn’t kidnap him, I’m still not convinced Tommy is an adult. I had to buy him seven more of the exact same shirt since apparently he only owned two,” 

“Puffy, c’mon do you really think he’d get such a good ID if it was fake? Tommy was a sheltered kid. I think he’s just got babyface,” Phil said ”Besides, it’s not really my business is it?” 

Puffy made a strangled noise “Phil if he is a minor, you could be charged for actual kidnapping or harboring a runaway,” 

“That’s not gonna happen,” Phil said, because yeah it was technically a possibility, but it would be fine. “Tommy’s an adult, and besides, if he isn’t, he’s got a good fucking fake. I’ve got plausible deniability and shit,” 

“Alright, alright,” Puffy said ”I mean, you’re probably right, Foolish did describe Quackity as a little paranoid. Just. Let’s keep an eye out for Quackity, not that it matters since we’ve already got people on our lawn all the time. Maybe they’ll distract each other?” 

Phil snorted “You think we’d get that luck? Also, have you noticed that they haven’t left at all in like six days. They’ve gotta smell awful right?” 

“Oh totally,” Puffy agreed “I’ve got half a mind to let them in my house to shower,” 

“Oh no,” Phil said ”I did that last time, and they tried to steal shit out of my cabinets,” 

“I forgot about that, Well, good point, they can just stink if they want to be creeps. And- oh shit, I gotta go.” In the distance, Phil could hear the sounds of shouting and clanging. He occasionally missed the lab setting, if only for occasions like that “ Lunch is over and someone’s apparently started tests without me- fuck, by!” 

Puffy hung up without preamble and Phil chuckled. She was too worked up over this, Tommy wasn’t hiding anything, and Phil certainly hadn’t kidnapped him. He was sure Foolish was exaggerating about this Quackity character, considering it was Foolish they were talking about- he’d gotten his nickname for a reason you know. 

Chapter Text

Phil didn’t put much thought into the Quackity after Puffy’s phone call- between trying to do the equations that he was supposed to, then the general chaos of the evening, which involved another very heated go at Mario Kart that ended with Wilbur rage quitting and Technoblade laughing at their expense, and then everyone chipped in for pizza dinner, since apparently Technoblade had never had pizza, and that was unacceptable. 

“It’s dripping,” Technoblade said, eyeing it suspiciously. 

“That’s grease mate. And that’s what makes it good ,” Phil said, using the plate with a piece of plain cheese and supreme pizza on it toward him“Try it!” 

“It’s so fucking good,” Tommy said. Tommy obviously liked pizza and had devoured like four pieces of pizza in very rapid succession. Wilbur too had eaten an alarming amount of pizza. There was still plenty left, but Phil made a mental note to order an extra pepperoni pizza next time. “You gotta try it big man,” 

Technoblade shot Tommy a flat look “If you’re endorsin’ it, that doesn’t make me feel better,” 

“Hey, c’mon Techno, would Tommy lie to you?” Wilbur asked with an innocent grin, that Phil knew meant just the opposite. “I mean really?” 

“Yes,” Technoblade said, crossing his arms. “So, I’m gonna eat the pizza, but only because Phil gave it to me, and I trust him,” 

“Aww mate,” Phil teased, enjoying the look of near panic that crossed Technoblade’s face “You trust me?” 

“Never mind,” Technoblade snapped, even as he snatched the plate off the table “I take it back. All of you are the worst,” 

“We’re the best,” Tommy argued “You’re just lame, bitch-no-blade,” 

Technoblade looked like his soul left his body, and Phil couldn’t help but crackle along with Wilbur and Tommy. Technoblade shot him a betrayed look, which only made him laugh harder. “Sorry, sorry,” Phil managed between gasps “Wil, Tommy, stop harassing Technoblade,” 

“You’re no fun,” Tommy pouted “Making fun of Technoblade is one of my favorite pass times,” 

“Bruh, get a better hobby then,” Technoblade snapped. “Preferably one that doesn’t involve me,” 

Tommy huffed “Yeah, well fine. Maybe I’ll take up- uh- water skiing!” 

“Water skiing?” Phil repeated with a laugh “Tommy, what the fuck?” 

“What is that?” Wilbur asked, looking confused. “I’ve never even heard of that-” 

“Tou uh, skii. On water. Duh,”Tommy said. “I think you do it at the beach or some shit. I’ve always wanted to go to the beach, see the water and shit.”  

“The beach?” Technoblade repeated, sounding confused. 

“The beach!” Wilbur exclaimed, talking over Technoblade “I want to go there!” 

“Holy shit,” Phil cut in, as the pieces fell into place “None of you have been to the beach, have you? Oh my god!” 

“I have to been to a beach!” Tommy exclaimed. “Just not a beach on- uh, a beach here. It was an uh- American beach!” 

Phil didn’t believe that one bit- Tommy’s family didn’t exactly seem like the type to take him many places, let alone America for the beach. The kid hadn’t even had a fucking coke before moving in here. Phil wasn't even sure he’d ever been in a grocery store, based on how he acted with Wilbur. Though, to be fair Wilbur might’ve been the instigator, and Wilbur had definitely been in a grocery store before. 

“What is a beach?” Technoblade asked desperately, looking between Phil and Tommy, “Guy, c’mon,” . 

“Alright, alright,” Phil interjected “A beach is a place where the ocean meets the land- how the fuck don’t you know this Technoblade?”

Like, who didn’t know what a beach was? Probably the Amish. Phil added another talley in his mind to the “Technoblade probably grew up amish” list. Maybe Technoblade just didn’t want to talk about it, which, fair enough. It was probably really fucking awkward to talk about. Like how do you even go about explaining that? People gave Phil weird looks over just the alien thing!

“I’m uh- I don’t know science,” Technoblade said, crossing his “Or geography?” 

“Of course you don’t! You seemed like you failed a lot of subjects” Wilbur said with a scoff.

“Hey! I’ll have you know I did not fail math, or uh- Philosophy,” Technoblade said defensively, and it was all Phil could do not to snort. 

Wilbur hesitated for a moment. Phil knew good and well that Wilbur enjoyed Philosophy, and had attempted to engage Phil in a  conversation on it a couple times, though Phil’s experience with Philosophers was negligible compared to what he knew about aliens, or, like, literal astrophysics. However, Wilbur’s second favorite hobby was probably annoying Technoblade and the opportunity was golden. 

Phil decided to save Wilbur from such a hard choice and Technoblade from his fate, by intervening. 

“Well, it’s honestly unacceptable that none of you have ever been to the beach, so we’re going,” Phil said, clapping his hands together. “That’s right. Road trip time,” 

Tommy and Wilbur both cheered, and began animatedly making plans of what they were going to do at the beach. Tommy was already talking about dragging Tubbo along, and Wilbur seemed very excited about the prospect of seeing sand. And tourists. Weird guy. 

“Do we get a say in this?” Technoblade asked, pulling Phil’s attention away from Tommy and Wilbur. Technoblade sounded a little desperate if Phil was being honest. Oh well. 

“Nope!” Phil said cheerfully. It would be good for Technoblade to get out, besides just going to work. Tommy at least hung out with Tubbo, and occasionally Jack Manifold and Wilbur liked to stay late to hang out with Puffy, but Technoblade didn’t even really seem to like Karl, or his job. Technoblade spent entirely too much time just following Phil or one of the others around. 

Besides, Phil had absolutely zero ulterior motive to this. Absolutely none. It wasn’t like this was a very convenient trip that he could use to investigate some weird readings at a beach a couple hours from them. Nope. Totally not what he planned to do. 

Which, okay, he was going to go have fun, but two birds, one stone, all that. He could show the boys more of what he did! Wilbur was so interested in it, he’d probably be thrilled. Even if he wasn't it would be fine, since they didn’t seem to mind his hobby. 

The beach trip was gonna be fucking awesome.

—-

Wilbur had been so caught up in his excitement about the pending beach trip that he’d forgotten something key. 

It wasn’t asking for time off- they were going on a Saturday that he already had off, since Puffy, Phil, and Tommy were off too. Only TEehno had to ask off and Karl was apparently very liberal with his time off requests. 

It wasn’t sending his reports either. He usually wrote them at night anyway, since he didn’t need nearly as much sleep as humans, he spent those hours quite crafting his reports. Wilbur had sent in his third report already- they were full of detail, from his observations about refrigerators, to how grocery stores worked, to human’s penchant for ingesting something mildly poisons on a regular basis, Wilbur was providing pretty much any and all information he could. He hoped that Eret was appreciating the effort he put in and that Fundy was getting to read them. 

And it wasn’t even that Wilbur forgot to put on his extensive makeup, and buy a loose shirt for the beach to hide his wings and cover his arm. Which, that thankfully , didn't even seem to be too weird, since Tubbo and Phil were both wearing one. 

No, no Wilbur had forgotten that he was highly, highly sensitive to saltwater. 

Saltwater occurred on some planets in the L’manburg federation, and due to the high concentration of it on Earth, Wilbur had requested samples. His species was naturally sensitive to water, but it usually didn’t end up being too much of a problem. However, the compound mixture of saltwater was terribly corrosive to his skin. 

Of course, the beach had quite a bit of saltwater. If Wilbur got in, not only was there a possibility that it would wash off the makeup that he’d spent hours applying, but it might cause him to break out in inexpiable rashes and potentially corrode his skin and kill him. 

Unfortunately, that hadn’t occurred to him until he stepped onto the beach itself and saw the actual ocean. 

It was a bit of a problem, that was, and Wilbur stopped short, chair in hand as he stared at a body of water that was very much deadly to him, as that specific thought hit him. Thankfully, no one seemed to pay his sudden stop too much mind. Tommy and Tubbo were already halfway to the water, running as fast as they could, and Puffy was trailing behind them, and Technoblade was carrying like four chairs  a few steps behind. 

“Amazing isn’t it?” Phil asked, appearing behind Wilbur out of nowhere, clapping him on the shoulder. “Th ocean is fucking huge.” 

Wilbur thanked the stars that he’d decided to keep his wings bound, despite how hot and itchy they’d be, because he probably would’ve hit Phil with them otherwise. 

“Yeah,” Wilbur said, looking over it. And, despite the fact that it very much could kill him, it was pretty cool. “It goes on forever,” 

“It certainly feels like it mate,” Phil said with a laugh “Now, c’mon, let’s go help Technoblade set up the chairs. You need to get under an umbrella anyway- you’re so fucking pale I’m pretty sure you’ll burn to a crisp,” 

Wilbur’s eyes widened minutely, and he tried to disguise his horror at the thought. He knew the sun could be potentially damaging to human skin, but he hadn’t realized it would burn them so terribly. Wilbur was lucky that he wasn’t so sensitive, that he’d actually burn up. He did need to get out of the sun, however, since he was a bit sensitive to bright lights. 

He was partially raised in a cavern , you can’t exactly blame him, alright? 

Wilbur hurried behind Phil, who was already beside Technoblade. Technoblade, who was staring at the so-called umbrella with a vaguely pinched expression. Which, to be fair, was one of Technoblade’s main expressions. 

“Need help there Techno?” Phil asked “These things are bastards, honestly. They’re so fucking annoying to put up. But I’m very pale and need them desperately so I don’t literally turn into a lobster,” 

Wilbur felt slightly alarmed at the proposition of Phil turning into a Lobster, but it was more than likely just a figure of speech that Wilbur wasn't familiar with. Humans were very prone to exaggeration. However, they were also still largely unknown to Wilbur despite years of research. He had thought that Phil was joking when he said that volcanoes often erupted, and that people lived near them, even though humans had literally no adaptations to survive in lava! 

But the lobster thing probably wasn’t true. Humans ate lobsters, didn’t they?

However, that comment seemed to spur Technoblade into action, as he picked the umbrella up, and drove the pointy end down into the sand with more force that Wilbur really thought necessary, looking a little more stressed. Or maybe frustrated. Wilbur wasn't sure. Technoblade was hard to read. 

The idea didn’t get brought up again as they sat up the chairs, while Tubbo and Tommy ran around, while Puffy was already waist deep in the ocean. Phil only stayed under the umbrella for long enough to apply sunscreen before heading straight to the water as well, leaving Technoblade and Wilbur alone, sitting under the umbrella. Technoblade was already leaning back, eyes closed, and sleeping (honestly, Wilbur wasn’t sure how they’d managed to be so wrong about humans and their sleep schedules) so Wilbur was left mostly to his own devices. 

(Wilbur also made a note to see if humans could turn into lobsters from sun exposure, however) 

It was interesting for a few minutes, watching everyone do their thing. Tommy and Tubbo were digging in the sand for… something. Tommy was shouting but they were far enough down the beach that Wilbur couldn’t quite hear them over the crashing water. Beaches were riveting to him- he hadn’t quite expected them to be so loud. Sure, a few other plants in the L’Manburg system had similar water features, but Wilbur had never been able to travel there himself. And none of them had sand like this. It looked, to him, like the grit he used to clean his teeth. 

Sure, Wilbur used a chemical cleaner, but his teeth were supposed to be sharpened. He had teeth designed for ripping flesh. It was rare for members of his species to really hunt anymore, but he still had the teeth for it. Some people shaved theirs, but Wilbur didn’t mind his. He’d let them dull before he came to Earth, but the sand looked so appealing. It felt wrong for his teeth not to be sharpened. 

Wilbur glanced around. Technoblade appeared to be sleeping and everyone was busy. Surely, no one would notice if he took just a little of it… a tiny nibble wouldn’t hurt

Besides, it was for research. It was for a purpose. He could potentially taste the minerals in it! It was definitely for research purposes. 

So, Wilbur hesitated for only a moment more, before scooping a handful of sand up and pouring it directly into his mouth. The grains were even finer on his teeth than he expected, and much saltier- it burned the inside of his mouth a bit, but not enough for him to immediately spit it out. He took a hesitant chew, analyzing the way it scraped his teeth. It felt- it felt very nice actually. The texture was wonderful- much more like the stuff he got as a kid than the prepackaged stuff on L’Manburg. He went ahead and swallowed that mouthful- it wouldn’t really hurt his digestive tract, since he sometimes ate entire bones, and grabbed another handful- for research

He popped it in his mouth and looked up. To his horror, he immediately met Phil’s gaze. He’d been so focused on the sand, he’d slipped and hadn’t heard Phil approaching. 

“Mate are- are you eating fucking sand?” Phil asked, squinting at Wilbur with an expression that Wilbur was pretty sure was horror. Or confusion. 

Wilbur wasn’t sure what to do. Eating sand definitely wasn’t a human characteristic, especially not swallowing it, and Phil had seen him do it, so it wasn't like he could exactly lie. Well, maybe he could, Wilbur was a good liar, but- 

“Wait!” Phil exclaimed, “You said you studied a bit of science right? I'd be you were a geologist, weren't you?” 

Wilbur had no fucking clue what a geologist was, but he wasn’t about to waste this opportunity 

He spat the sand out to his left and offered Phil a grin that he hoped was somewhere near abashed and not too panicked “Oh yeah, you got me. I’m still a geologist at heart, me.” 

Phil scoffed “Fucking of course you are. Geologists and their damn rocks- why on earth would you want to put the science in your mouth. I’ll never fucking understand. Puffy will be furious we’ve got a rock eater in the house- she’s got a bit of beef with geologists, but I won’t stop you. Even if it is fucking weird that you’re eating sand- just don’t ruin your teth mate. Dentures are expensive as fuck.” 

“Oh I won’t,” Wilbur assured him. “I take very good care of my teeth. But yeah, that’s me- a rock eater through and through, Just couldn't resist a good bit of sand,” 

Phil scoffed “Of course. Well, I won’t tell Puffy if you won’t. I don’t want her to go off on that tangent again. and she says I’m annoying about my research.`` 

Phil wandered back toward the ocean after that, much to Wilbur’s relief. He wasn't sure what a geologist was, exactly, but apparently there was a subspecies of humans who ate rocks? Wilbur wasn’t quite sure, but he’d put it in his report. 

At least he hadn’t been caught though. Thank the stars for his own quick thinking, and the human oddities. 

He didn’t risk putting anything else in his mouth though. He just sat and observed, taking in everything that was happening. 

That’s why he was probably the first one to notice that another car had pulled up on the mostly empty beach. Wilbur wasn’t sure why it wasn’t crowded, considering that Phil had kept calling it the perfect beach day, but Wilbur wasn’t going to complain. Only one other group of humans was on the beach, and they were so far away, it looked like they were hardly specks on the horizon. He was honestly very disappointed. He’d really wanted to see other tourists in their natural state- they were apparently a very common type of human. Niki liked to complain about them when they came into her shop and complained about prices, but Wilbur found them riveting. He’d heard they loved beached, but this was unfortunately devoid of that population. 

However, Wilbur also recognized that car, and it wasn’t a load of aimless beach goers looking to enjoy a day at the beach . No, that SUV looked distinctly like the one that was always in front of Phil’s house. 

He was proven right when Dream and Sapnap got out of the car. Both of them were dressed in human beach clothing- swimming trunks, but they both had on shirts that looked like a poor replication of the suits they normally wore. Their shorts also seemed to be color coded- Sapnap’s were red and Dream’s were very bright green. Wilbur wondered if those colors meant something to humans. Tommy also tended to wear red while Tubbo wore green. Maybe humans were color coded like Fundy had suggested? Phil liked green too… hmm. Wilbur needed to put a bit more research into that. Sapnap was still wearing his bandanna, and Dream’s sunglasses were still very large, hiding a majority of his face. 

“Great,” Wilbur muttered bitterly, because despite his desire to observe humans, he really didn’t want to observe these agents. They were his enemies, now. He’d decided it. Wilbur had always liked to have an enemy, honestly. Made life a bit more interesting. “ They’re here,” 

Technoblade was either already asleep, or ignoring him and didn’t respond. Wilbur found the agents incompetent, but annoying. Dream was always hiding around the corner when Wilbur took the trash out. What, did he think Wilbur was going to start eating directly from the trash? Or did he think that Phil was throwing his research away? 

Wilbur wondered what went on inside their heads- more so than most humans except for maybe Quackity. 

Wilbur wasn’t sure what the protocol was here. Since they were apparently on official government business it wasn't like the authorities would be useful. It wasn’t like they were actively harmful either, but Wilbur had been looking forward to studying humans and the beach! Not being watched by them. 

However, despite Wilbur seeing them first, Tommy and Tubbo acted faster. 

“Oi!” Tommy shouted “What the fuck are you doing here?” 

“Yeah!” Tubbo shouted “fuck off!” 

Wilbur watched Dream physically cringe a little, and stifled a laugh. The pair of agents did their best to ignore the two teens, as they stuck two chairs in the sand, and plopped down in them. Dream, despite sitting maybe ten feet from Wilbur and Technoblade, lifted the binoculars he had to his eyes looking right at them. 

Wilbur flipped them off. 

He was very proud of that one. He’d picked it up from Phil. 

Dream’s face- or what little Wilbur could see of it twisted up. Sapnap only sort of attempted to hide his snicker. 

“We’re just here to do our jobs,” Dream called “there’s really no need to be hostile,” 

“You fucking followed us,” Wilbur snapped. Technoblade who still had his eyes closed tossed an arm over his face. “That’s a bit out of line,” 

“Yeah, you are a bung of wronguns,” Tommy goaded, as he and Tubbo came up beside Wilbur. Phil and Puffy were still out in the water and apparently couldn’t hear them. That was probably because Puffy and Phil were shouting at each other. Wilbur was pretty sure it wasn't hostile though. 

Unlike Wilbur and Dream. Wilbur had decided that he was going to be hostile to Dream. Dream was a bitch. 

Humans had so many types of yelling. It was fascinating! 

“You’re literally stalking us,” Tubbo said “Like, isn’t that a bit creepy? Like, that’s creepy,” 

“We’re not stalking you, oh my god,” Dream said, and Wilbur delighted, just a bit, in the frustration in his voice “We’re literally just doing our jobs,” 

“I dunno Dream, this is kinda creepy.” Sapnap started, tapping his chin,  “ I told you we should've just stayed home. I mean-” 

“Shut up Sapnap,” Dream snapped, shoving Sapnap hard enough that Sapnap’s chair tipped over into the sand. “Whose side are you on here?” 

Sapnap yelped as he hit the sand, and scrambled to get up “Dude, I was just kidding. C’mon man. Yeah, I’m on your side, Now I’ve got sand in my eyes,” 

Tommy and Tubbo snickered, which, it was a pretty funny sight, to be fair. 

“L.” Tubbo said flatly “Don’t fall in the sand,” 

“Simply be built different,” Tommy agreed. Sapnap glared at them, flipping them off as he righted his chair. Dream was still glaring. 

“Sapnap might be on your side, but where is the third part of your little trio? Did he get tired of stalking people?” Wilbur asked, because George still hadn’t come stumbling out. George seemed the least involved in the operation, so maybe he’d quit, and that’s why Dream was in such a bad mood. 

“George is at the house,” Dream snapped “We had to leave someone there to hold down the fort, in case this little trip was a front,” 

“A front for what, exactly?” Tubbo asked “We’re literally at the beach,” 

“George actually just hates the beach,” Sapnap cut in “Don't worry, he’s not breaking into your house or anything. He’s probably just sitting on the sidewalk,” 

“That’s not exactly comforting, big man,” Tubbo said. Big man had to be slang, since Tommy and Tubbo both said it. Tommy in particular seemed fond of that phrase. 

“Yeah, that sounds exactly like someone lying about their friend breaking into a house would say,” Tommy said. 

“Who is breaking into a house?” Phil, who had at some point snuck up on them, asked as he snagged a towel off of the cooler, and toweled off his hair. “Dream and Sapnap fucking followed us, so it’s not them,” 

“They think George is breakin’ in since he didn’t come with them,” Technoblade piped up, finally cracking an eye open. “My guess is that George probably just got sick of these two, since I’m pretty sure they’re all homeless and live in the car,” 

“We’re not homeless! I have a very nice house, thanks” Dream interjected, sounding mildly offended “And no one is breaking into your house! That’s illegal,” 

“So is stalking, technically,” Sapnap said, ignoring Dream’s groan of frustration. “But yeah, no George is probably just taking a nap in the bushes.” 

“Yeah, guys, I gotta admit it’s a little fucking weird you followed us here,” Phil said, “Like, why? I’m on vacation. That’s probably a bit of a line, don’t you think?” 

“We’re not stalking anyone. We’re literally just doing our jobs,” Dream said “That’s it! You’re all making it harder than it has to be,” 

“You’re trying to investigate us mate, and literally followed us. Sorry if we’re not exactly the best hosts,” Phil said with a half-grin. “Listen, I get it, you’re doing your jobs, but you’re being fucking annoying. It’s my day off, there’s nothing to see here!” 

Wilbur had to keep himself from physically gaping at Phil. Phil had been relatively patient, never seeming too irritated about the agents. Apparently, he actually could get angry. Of course. Wilbur had known he could get angry, but it was the first time he was really getting to see it. Interesting! 

Of course, Phil didn’t seem that angry. He wasn’t nearly as angry as some of the customers in the shop. Again, Wilbur was not exactly a stranger to customer service, but he hadn’t enjoyed the rude awakening. Part of him longed for the lab and office again. There were fewer customers there. Wilbur liked people- he just liked them more when they weren’t threatening to throw scalding hot poison at him. 

“Can you all take this argument somewhere else, at least? I’m tryin’ to sleep here.” Technoblade grumbled. 

“Sorry Techno. Now listen, if the two of you insist on crashing out on vacation, I can’t stop you. But either stop bothering us or just join in on the fun. You’re too uptight, Dream, Jesus Christ.. Either way, can you just tone back the aggression and general weirdness, alright?” Phil turned to Wilbur then. “Listen, I’m taking a walk, and I think Puffy is still swimming. If someone starts bleeding, go get her. I’ll be back in a bit.” 

And without waiting for an answer, Phil jammed his green and white striped hat on his head, and marched off, leaving the rest of them there to figure it out. And oh, did Wilbur have ideas on how to handle the situation. He’d been waiting for this one, ever since Dream had tried to take the trash bag from him the other night. 

— 

Dream had chosen not to listen to Phil. While he had put the binoculars away, he hadn’t moved from his spot until he and Sapnap decided that they wanted to follow Phil on his walk, which directly went against what Phil asked them to do. 

(Now, Tommy was like 89% sure that Phil was walking out there, looking for alien artifacts on the beach since he'd talked about that extensively about that shit on the way to the beach. Apparently space stuff came from the ocean often, which was fucking wild. So it probably was technically their job to follow him, but they didn’t know that and Tommy didn’t care for the semantics. Semantics were for pussies)

Not listening to Phil had been a bad choice. 

He, Wilbur, and Tubbo had to defend his honor! And their rights!  You couldn’t just ignore Phil and get away with it. Tommy had just wanted to dump water on them, and Tubbo had wanted to drop crabs down their back, but Wilbur had come up with an even more brilliant plan. 

And Wilbur, while he had lots of good ideas, like the one at the grocery store, and the one where they’d stayed up all night watching human movies, but this had to be his best. The sand country was a thing of absolute beauty. 

Humans liked to build- that much was obvious- and they liked to build even when it wasn’t permanent. Tommy had seen it on shows and movies when humans build shit out of sand. And that was exactly what Wilbur proposed- build a city-state out of sand around  their empty chairs

There was a wall that Tommy had spent most of his time working on, which came up to nearly knee height, and several buildings surrounding Sapnap and Dream’s chairs. Wilbur had given instructions, while Tommy and Tubbo had built. Tommy and Tubbo had taken turns bringing piles of

He also, for his part, kept watch, so that they had warning if Dream and Sapnap got back before they were finished with their fucking fantastic project. Tommy had known that Wilbur was fucking brilliant, but really, this was something else. 

Technoblade had kept sleeping soundly under the umbrella, which, honestly, seemed a bit lame. Tommy thought Technoblade was usually pretty fucking cool, so he wasn't going to say too much, but he’d be much cooler if he wasn’t sleeping. Humans liked to sleep too much. They could sleep at home. 

But, whatever. They didn’t need Technoblade for their revolution. They were claiming this as their land! Dream and Spanap could fuck off! 

Puffy even thought it was a good idea. When she’d finally emerged from the ocean, she’d come bearing seashells that they used to decorate the walls. Tommy personally thought that they looked badass as hell. 

“So, is there a reason that you’re building this around some random chairs?” Puffy asked, from where she was sitting under the umbrella. It was still early on in the day, but the sun was bright, and she was staying in the shade now that she’d left the ocean. 

“We are building a small country to protest Dream and Sapnap’s oppressive presence,” Wilbur exclaimed “They’ve taken it too fucking far, but following us here, and then following Phil on his walk! We had to retaliate, so we’re claiming this land as ours,” 

“Yeah!” Tommy agreed “we’re driving the bastards out, right Tubbo?” 

“Hell yeah!” Tubbo said “I’m going to dig a pit trap under their chairs next. We’ll call it the country’s dungeon.” 

Puffy pressed a hand to her mouth, and Tommy thought that for a second she was going to laugh at them. This is no laughing matter. It was fucking war , is what it was! Wilbur said they were protecting their rights! 

“Right. Got it. That makes sense,” She said. Tommy had a slight feeling that maybe she thought it didn’t make sense, but that was bullshit. It was a brilliant idea and a brilliant country. Puffy simply couldn't see the vision. It was fucking tragic,” What’s the country’s name? A country has to have a name, especially if its’ the center of a revolution,” 

That had not occurred to Tommy; Of course, it makes sense. All cities had names. Hell, Tommy had even gotten to name a city once! He’d named it Henryville after his pet . The city wasn't very big, but it was new and a part of the Badlands, so he’d gotten privileges, which was fucking awesome for him at age 7. 

For some reason he’d never been asked to name their entire country. He’d have to bring that up with Sam when he got home, because that was bullshit! Tommy would take over for Sam one day, he needed to know that shit! That wouldn’t happen for ages, but still. 

However, it really hadn’t occurred to Tommy yet to name the country. 

“I’ve had a few thoughts, but nothing very good,” Wilbur admitted with a frown. “It’s got to have a certain ring to it, you know?” 

“I think we should call it Dicksington,” Tubbo suggested. 

“You’re a dick face,” Tommy shot back “That’s a stupid country name,” 

“You’re stupid,” Tubbo said, and slipped Tommy off. “It’s a perfectly good name,” 

“We’re not calling it that,” Wilbur said, shaking his head. 

“What about Sandburg?” Puffy suggested “I mean, the whole country is made out of sand,” 

“Sandburg,” Wilbur repeated, as he grinned “Oh, Puffy, I like that one! I’ve got one suggestion though- and hear me out boys- L’Sandburg,” 

For a split second, Tommy thought that they were talking about The L’Manburg Federation , but that would be ridiculous. L’Manburg’s nearest territory was light years away and everyone here was human. According to a book Karl let him have from the store, there was literally a place in America called the Badlands. He’d probably include that in his report, because really, what were the fucking odds? 

“That’s fucking brilliant,” Tommy said “L’Sandburg- the best fucking town on this beach- the best sand town on the entire fucking planet!” 

Wilbur clapped Tommy on the shoulder “It certainly is. It’s our country, Tommy, Tubbo. We build this as a monument to freedom- and to rise up against our oppressors!” 

“Stick it to the man!” Tubbo agreed seriously “Dream can fuck off,” 

“Tubbo come here,” Wilbur called, and Tubbo abandoned the building he was working on, and hopped over the wall, to join them, “As the founding members of L’Sandburg, we must defend it to the death, in the name of freedom, liberty, and so that Dream can suck it. Do the two of you swear to stick with me on this? Even if it is not easy or safe,” 

“I’m with you big man,” Tommy said seriously. He was pretty sure that Wilbur was being dramatic and that there wouldn’t be death. Probably. Tommy didn’t really want to die- Sam would be so mad- but he trusted Wilbur. “This is our country,” 

“I’m in too. Behind you every step of the way. Dream can get fucked,” Tubbo said. 

“Well, I hope you all are ready to defend it,” Puffy called “Because here they come!” 

“Get ready boys,” Wilbur said, standing up. The dramatic effect was a bit ruined by the sand sliding off his clothes, but Tommy didn’t say anything “War is upon us,” 

—-

L’Sandburg’s walls were damaged, and many of the buildings had been trampled, but, in the end, Dream and Sapnap were standing just outside of it, holding their chairs. They had been driven out. 

“Admit it Dream,” Wilbur goaded “You’ve lost. We’ve won. L’Sandburg is ours and freedom reigns, Your oppressive days as dictator of our lives is over” 

“I could just kick it over,” Dream threatened, and for a split second Tommy thought he might do it. Tommy would’ve fucking killed him- maybe not literally, but still- if he had. Instead he just scowled at them from behind his sunglasses.  “What’s stopping me? All you’ve done is throw sand at me,” 

“But the sand is itchy. It’s in my eyes,” Sapnap whispered. Dream stomped on his foot and Tubbo didn’t bother to hide his snort. . 

“You wouldn’t though,” Wilbur said “You won’t because you just want L’Sandburg for yourself. We could just rebuild it anyway. We can do this for longer than you can Dream. You want to know why? We’re fighting for our morals- our freedom!” 

“Yeah you're a little  bitch,” Tommy shouted “You’re a fucking coward,” 

Dream’s face turned a shade of red Tommy wasn’t aware that humans could reach. Honestly it was a little concerning. Was he dying? “I’m not a coward! You’re all just children! Oh my god! You’re all insufferable!” Dream paused, and his tone eased “Except for you Technoblade,” 

“Leave me out of this. I don’t believe in government ” Technoblade said from where he was still lounging under the umbrella. He’d gotten up earlier, to inspect L’Sandburg, but had ended up declaring it just as bad as Dream, for some fucking reason, before going to look for sand dollars. He’d found several then retreated to the umbrella where Phil and Puffy were watching the war. 

Technoblade, if Tommy didn’t know better, would sound like one of those Syndicate bitches. Of course that was as impossible as Wilbur being from the L’Manburg federation. Both of them were as painfully human as Phil, honestly. 

“You know what? Fine! We’re leaving- but this isn’t over,” Dream said “C’mon Sapnap, we’re going home,” 

Dream turned on his heel and stomped off, flinging sand up behind him. Sapnap hurried after him, but not before Tommy caught a brief look of relief. 

—-

“Wilbur, I need you to know that you’re like a brother to me,” Tommy said, as he leaned against Wilbur heavily. The pain was more than he could take. This was the end. This was the end of Tommy Innit-Dude. He was dying, and Sam would be pissed, and attack the Earth and fucking destroy it. “Before I fucking die, I needed to make sure you knew that,”

“Don’t say that Tommy, I’ll cry,” Wilbur said and his voice wavered, like he might actually start crying. 

“Dude, you literally just got sunscreen in your eye,” Tubbo said “Stop being so dramatic, no one is dying,” 

“He’s not dying?” Wilbur said, voice suddenly even“Oh, well, fucking ge off then,” 

Tommy wailed as he was betrayed by his own countryman, and pushed into the sand

“You two brought this on yourselves, honestly,” Phil said “I told you to let someone help you mate,” Tommy just flipped Phil off. Despite that, Tommy hoped that Phil was okay- his face was bright red, but he didn’t seem to be angry. He’d just called it a sunburn. Tommy though it was quite fucked up that the sun burnt humans skin. Why had they not evolved past that!

Unfortunately since Tommy was pretending to be human, he had to deal with that bullshit! He missed the tough creeper skin he normally used. Though, to be fair, he wasn’t sure that would drive off the stupid Earth sun’s rays. Tommy moaned into the sand, ignoring Phil and Technoblade peals of laughter, and Wilbur’s taunts. 

Tommy took it all back. The Earth sucked and he hated all the humans and he wanted to go home. Sam wouldn’t treat him like this. Sam is his father! 

Well. Actually, he would. Tommy just wasn’t appreciated enough anywhere. Ungrateful fuckers just wanted to see him suffer. 

— 

Technoblade had enjoyed a nap on the beach. It was warm there- warmer than in Phil’s house, and while Technoblade was used to the cold, it was since to be somewhere warm again. Netherria had always been hot, and he’d kinda missed it, alright? 

He wasn’t sure how humans stood such a variety in temperatures though. When Techno got cold his body wanted to hibernate, and he was built a lot stronger than most humans. It was kinda sad, how puny their bodies were. 

But napping in the warmth made Technoblade feel a little bit better about being stuck on some random planet. Especially when he got to watch Dream get destroyed by a few random humans. The guy was a little funny, and while Technoblade found Wilbur annoying, Wilbur was on Phil’s side, so for now, he’d allow it. Even if they had created a government . Humans were way too attached to their governments. 

A L’Manburgian would probably like them. Another strike against humanity, in that case. 

Besides, watching a literal government agent get driven off by two children and the most annoyin’ guy Technoblade knows, well, it did bring him a little satisfaction. 

It was also funny watching Tommy react to getting sunscreen in his eyes. Technoblade was also wearing sunscreen, since the human sun apparently liked to literally roast it’s inhabitants alive, and they had little natural protection against it (not that Tehnoblade did either- he was protected against heat, not literal radiation, alright?) and Technoblade didn’t want to go back to the Syndicate with literal skin disease. That’d be so cringe. 

But he hadn’t been an idiot and had listened to Phil about not getting in his eyes. Tommy just didn’t listen to instructions. 

Unfortunately despite the fact that he was perfectly content to stay under the umbrella and relax, no one seemed to like giving him that option. No, they just had to keep dragging him into their stuff, even after Dream dipped. (Normally Technoblade wouldn’t like human slang let alone use it,but that one was, admittedly, a little funny. He had no idea what dipping had to do with leaving, but the look on Tommy and Tubbo's faces when he used slang was humorous. Besides, it would be nice to know how to effectively communicate when the planet was invaded) . 

So that’s how, despite his better judgement and every single survival instinct he had, Technoblade found himself chest deep in the ocean with Puffy and Tommy. 

Which, swimming is something else that made literally no sense. He’d assumed that they were kidding about humans liking to get out in the water, since they had literally no adaptations to make swimming easy for them, but no! They still did it. and if they failed, they just died. Who did that? 

Apparently humans. And for some void forsaken reason, Puffy had decided that Technoblade and Tommy needed swimming lessons. Tommy had wanted them, but Technoblade hadn’t. Yet, somehow, he was still out in the water. 

He was so destroying this planet. 

But, to do that, he had to survive the water first. Which the water wasn't even still! The waves kept tryin’ to knock him over. Technoblade was pretty sure that this planet was designed to kill, and that was sayin’ something, considering he’d come from Netherria. A plane people literally called the worst planet ever. Which, he thought that was kinda rude, but there was a lot of fire, to be fair. 

But, again- Technbolade had adaptations to survive that. Humans just didn’t. 

And humans, nor Technoblade, were meant for swimming. Technoblade was just praying to the stars that he didn’t drown or something. It’d be so embarrassing. 

“Are you sure this is safe?” Technoblade asked, “This doesn’t seem very safe at all,” 

“What, are you scared Technoblade?” Tommy taunted “Are you a pussy like Wilbur and Tubbo?” 

Wilbur and Tubbo had resolutely refused to get in. Tubbo wanted to go metal detecting, and Wilbur wanted to go with him. Besides, Wilbur apparently had an allergy to salt water. He'd gotten splashed by accident just after Dream left and yelped, his arm almost instantly breaking out in a rash. apparently it was a common enough allergy that Puffy recognized it instantly. That was another human flaw. Why would they be allergic to something that cover like 70% of their planet? How were humans alive?

Tommy apparently thought that made them cowards, even though Technoblade was pretty sure Tommy was no better.

“Tommy you’re holdin’ onto my arm. Your nails are goin’ to break skin ,” Technoblade replied, because Tommy, despite his bravado, was clinging onto his arm like a piglin child to their first shiny ore.

“Fuck off,” Tommy snapped, scowling up at him, “I am not,” 

Tommy still didn't let go, though, and Technoblade resisted the urge to growl at him and instead tried to replicate the human sigh. He’d gotten decent at them, but the urge to just growl at him was hard to resist. 

“Listen,” Puffy said, “You’re both perfectly safe out here. You can both still stand in this water, and besides, I was a competitive swimmer in college, so if you start drawing I can pull you out,” 

Technoblade wasn’t entirely sure that Puffy, despite being tall for a human woman (she was taller than Phil and nearly the same height as Tommy) would be able to pull Technoblade out. Though his features were hidden due to the cloaking technology, he was still much taller, and much heavier than Puffy or Tommy. 

But, Technoblade would give her the benefit of the doubt.. “Alright, so how does this work?” 

—- 

Technoblade was never, ever giving a human and sort of trust ever again. 

Piglins, apparently, could not swim, even in the highly salient water of Earth's seas. Technoblade had gotten no telling how many mouthfuls of the terrible tasting water as the struggled to even remain tangentially afloat. After like three attempts it was painfully obvious that it simply wasn't going to happen.  

“I’m sorry Technoblade,” Puffy apologized trailing behind him “I didn’t realize when you said you couldn’t swim that you really couldn’t swim,” 

Technoblade just shook his head, trying to make his human face look grumpy. Because he was grumpy. “I nearly died , Puffy,”

“You definitely didn’t,” Puffy offered “You were in water that you could stand in the whole time,”

Tommy had taken to the water like a natural, of course, and Technoblade was definitely not irritated by that. How come humans, with again, literally no adaptations, could do it and he couldn’t? It just didn’t make logical sense. He was putting that on his report- humans make no sense. In fact, it was goin’ to be the title of the dang report.

“It’s fine. It’s fine ,” Technoblade said, even though he really wanted to just go back to the Syndicate- or even Netherria “I’m goin’ back to my chair so that I can read my book and dry off.” 

“Sorry Technoblade!” Puffy called behind him “We’ll try again some time!” 

They most certainly would not be tryin’ again, thank you very much. Technoblade liked livin’ despite what everyone back home had to say. He was going to stay firmly on dry land, thank you very much. 

—- 

Technoblade nearly called an emergency invasion when he found out that predators lived in the ocean and coulda poisoned him or eaten him. No way. Technoblade wasn't scared of predators, when he knew they were comin'. He didn’t appreciate bein’ blind sided like that. 

Phil’s excited explanation in the car, of what exactly a shark was and how they related to his alien research, was the only reason that Technoblade didn’t call down the invasion. That was important information for the real invasion later. The fact that Tommy was snoring soundly, leaning against his shoulder in the backseat had nothing to do with it. 

In fact, he actually finds it terribly irritating. That’s another mark against humanity. Unnecessary physical contact. Yep. 

—- 

When they all got home that night, Technoblade shook Tommy awake. Tommy stumbled out of the car ahead of him, practically collapsing against Wilbur’s side, who just laughed, and offered Tommy an arm for support, even though Tommy was fully capable of walkin’ himself. 

“Wilbur,” Tommy whined “I’m tired,” 

“That’s why you need to go to bed, idiot,” Wilbur said, but for some reason it didn’t sound like an insult like it did when Wilbur called Technoblade an idiot. Why was human language so confusing. It would be so much easier if they all just spoke common.  

Puffy and Tubbo were staying an extra night at a hotel at the beach, so it was just the four of them at home, and Wilbur and Tommy headed straight inside. “Shit,” Phil said as he got out of the car. “What do you say we leave all our crap in the car tonight? I don’t feel like packing it in.” 

Technoblade thought about it for a moment, glancing down the dark street. Dream’s SUV was in its normal spot, but Technoblade was pretty sure they were all sleeping, since none of the windows were open. 

“Phil,” Technobalde said finally “I think that sounds like a brilliant idea,” 

Especially since Technoblade had to work tomorrow, and he wouldn’t get stuck packing it all in again. 

What was it that the humans said? L? Yeah. L to Tommy who had another day off. 

…. Maybe human phrases were a little bit fun. 

Chapter Text

“Ello Sam Nook,” Tommy whispered, as Sam Nook flickered to life on the screen of his tablet. “Gotta file another report, Big Man,” 

“HELLO TOMY-ENET” Sam Nook chirped as the application began to fully boot up on the slim tablet, “YOUR REPORT WAS DUE FOR SEND OFF TWO DAYS AGO,” 

Tommy winced “Yeah, yeah. I know. I’m sure Dad’s all fucking worried about it, but I just got busy with my job and the beach trip and shit but-  wait it’s not like you need all that information. I just need to file a report Sam Nook,” 

Nook could normally report that information back to Sam, his dad, without issue, but this was only a silver of the AI and Tommy had to remind himself that he couldn’t do all the things that he normally could. 

“VERY GOOD,” Sam Nook intoned, “TRANSCRIBE?”

“No thanks,” Tommy declined, and a moment later, the window for him to write in popped up as Sam Nook’s pixelated image vanished. 

Tommy took some extra time typing out this report since admittedly, he was behind on his reports. Sam Nook must've been programmed with the anticipated, one report an Earth week schedule, and Tommy was off a couple of days. No big deal. It’d be fine. Sure Sam would be worried, but he would also understand that Tommy was on a very crucial mission. Writing reports wasn’t nearly as important as actually gathering the information about humanity, and how the Badlands could benefit from it. 

But, the last thing he needed was his dad and uncles launching an invasion on Earth because they thought he’d been kidnapped or something. This report was longer. He included a bunch of plant shit and human disease information for Ponk, a few Earth Technology things he’d learned for his Dad, and a section on, once again, how fucking awesome humanity was. He did include a section about how poorly their secret agents were trained and the absolute bullshit at the beach. Honestly. They literally couldn’t find the aliens in the house they were watching. He was sure that they’d all get a laugh at how incompetent they were, watching the house and asking questions, and still not getting shit. He also included a few lines about Qauckity, and how he thought that Tommy was in trouble. He was sure that everyone back home would get a good laugh out of it. 

He didn’t spend much time on them, since they weren’t really that important. It wasn't like they had a way to prove he wasn't human! Get fucked Sapnap. Besides, he also included shit about the beach and that was way more important. Human geologists ate sand- who knew. Humans were fucking weird since they didn’t even have teeth to sharpen. 

Tommy skimmed over his report, making sure that he hadn’t left anything important out, like how delicious Niki’s pastries were, or how geologists on earth studied rocks by eating them, or how human video games worked, and grinned when he got to his sign off. It was perfect

“Sam Nook,” Tommy whispered again and definitely didn’t grin when the A.I.’s familiar form reappeared on the screen. “Report’s finished. Mind sending it off for me, Big Man?” 

“YES TOMY-ENET,” A moment later the tablet dinged softly “IT IS SENT. AWE-SAM DUDE WILL AWAIT YOUR NEXT REPORT,” 

Tommy huffed “Yeah, yeah, I get it, don’t be late this time. I feel like I should be offended he programmed you specifically to anticipate me being late. He’s a fucking worry-wart, he is.” 

“AWE-SAM DUDE ONLY LOOKS OUT FOR YOUR BEST INTEREST AND SAFETY TOMY-ENET. HE WILL EAGERLY AWAIT YOUR REPORTS, AND YOUR RETURN HOME,” Sam Nook said, and Tommy definitely didn’t feel at all homesick, because Sam had definitely programmed Sam Nook to say that. That’d be stupid of him. He was on Earth! He couldn’t be homesick !  And Sam was a fucking sap , unlike Tommy who was the biggest man ever. He didn’t fucking get homesick “DO YOU REQUIRE FURTHER ASSISTANCE?”

“Nope. I’m good,” Tommy said, brushing off all thought of home. Thinking about the labs and the long hallways of their home on Pandora was just boring. That’s all. Sam Nook chirped in understanding, before vanishing from the screen, powering off the tablet internally. Tommy sighed and laid the tablet on top of his bed, flexing his fingers as he flopped down beside it. His hand was cramping from all the typing and his head hurt, even though he had written it in Common, rather than English or even Creeperian.  

“Tommy!” Tommy shot straight up as someone shouted his name “Tommy are you up here?” 

Shit, that was Tubbo! Tubbo didn’t wait for an answer, he never fucking did, and Tommy could hear him clattering up the steps like a herd of hippos, or whatever the saying was. The saying didn’t matter, because Tubbo was almost at his door, and Tommy still had his tablet out. His very much not-earth tech tablet, that he couldn’t even begin to lie about if Tubbo saw it, since Tubbo loved technology. 

“Tommy stop fucking ignoring me!” Tubbo shouted, almost outside Tommy’s door now.  Fuck, how did he move so fast with such short legs? ”Phil said you were home! I’m coming in your room, ready or not!” 

Tommy had about ten seconds and had to think fast. He glanced around his room in a half panic. There was no way he could get it safely to its normal spot before Tubbo got here. Tubbo was right outside the door now. Tommy panicked and shoved the tablet off his bed between the wall and his bed. It clattered loudly and Tommy winced, praying that it had survived the crash, but it was just in time as Tubbo opened the door so hard that it slammed against Tommy’s wall. 

Tommy was like 75% sure that his tablet would be fine. They were meant to hold up against a lot, even a Creeper explosion, since that was always a risk with Sam around, no matter how small. It’d be fine. It could handle a little fall. It’d be fine. Besides, it wasn’t like he could exactly check on it while Tubbo was in the room, now could he? 

“Dick. Why were you ignoring me?” Tubbo whined “We’ve got shit to do. You promised me that you’d let me look at your bike, and then teach you how to play Animal Crossing,” 

“I was sleeping, big man,” Tommy said since it wasn’t totally unbelievable. Humans slept in the middle of the afternoon. It was fine. Technoblade and Phil slept all the time. “I was tired from my last shift. Since I, you know, have a fucking job,” 

Tubbo scoffed “Simply get rich, and don’t have to work,” 

Tommy bit back the retort that he was actually rich. Like really fucking rich. Probably more wealthy than anyone on planet Earth, because earth currency would be worth absolutely nothing in the intergalactic economy. And besides that, he was rich by intergalactic standards, thank you very much. But he didn’t say any of that, since he couldn’t. 

“Fuck off,” Tommy grumbled “And let’s go then since you already woke me up and shit,” 

“Great!” Tubbo chirped, back to smiling brightly, as he grabbed Tommy’s arm with a surprising amount of force. Well, Tommy wasn’t surprised that Tubbo could exert the force since Tommy was now used to Tubbo, but it didn’t seem right that humans could be so strong. “Let’s go!” 

—-- 

Quackity was now following Technoblade to work. 

Technoblade was not happy about it. Technoblade and Tommy were working opposite shifts on Thursdays so Tommy had come back about lunch, just as Technoblade left for his afternoon at the bookstore. 

Quackity had just shown up at the house, the day after the beach trip. Somehow the trip had only been a few days ago, but it felt like a lifetime. Technoblade didn’t know how he’d found the house, exactly, but Technoblade didn’t care about that part. The guy was weird, but Technoblade could definitely take him in a physical fight. He had no idea what Earth laws were surrounding this guy being able to follow them, but it had to be legal since Dream and his goons did it too. 

That didn’t mean Technoblade was happy about it. Quackity at least didn’t sit outside their house. He usually left once everyone was inside, only making a nuisance of himself at their jobs, and on the way there/ he knew that Quackity usually followed Tommy to or from work, and had now taken up following Technoblade. Technoblade needed to ask Wilbur if Quackity was bothering him, or if there was just a special hatred the human had for him. 

It was probably the special hatred. In that case wasn’t mutual, since Technoblade hated all humans. 

Quackity stayed out of arms reach, but never shut up. Technoblade just ignored him, though, because Quackity was usually asking him irritatin’ questions, or trying to get him to self incriminate to….whatever Wauckity thought he was doing. Since Karl was already gone most of the time, it was easy to kick Quackity out of the shop and have peace for the rest of the afternoon. Quackity usually didn’t spend the night at their house so Technoblade assumed he went home. 

But, unlike normal, the door was locked when he got to work, and the open sign was flipped. Weird. He pushed it open, still ignoring Quackity’s incessant babble as he came into the dim shop. 

Quackity followed him, only hesitating for a second in the doorframe. Normally he didn’t come in from outside. Well, not since after Technoblade almost crushed his hand in the door a couple days ago. “Quackity, you’re gonna have to go,” Technoblade started, getting ready to kick Quackity out, but before he could finish, there was a crash from the second level of the store, and then frantic footsteps. 

“Technoblade!” Karl chirped happily, as he clattered down the steps, looking disheveled as usual. “I didn’t know you were coming in today! Oh, and I didn’t know you were bringing a friend either,” Karl’s eyes slid to Quackity, who was looking at Karl with a strange expression on his face.

“Quackity is not my friend,”  Technoblade protested, but Karl seemed to ignore him, in favor of getting right up in Quackity’s personal space. Technoblade repressed a shudder. Humans were too touchy- Karl even worse than most of them and Technoblade was thankful Karl had only tried to do that Technoblade once before backing off. 

“Yeah, I’ve been working all day, Technoblade is not one of my friends” Quackity protested, but Karl ignored most of that, in favor of invading his personal space. 

Karl grabbed Quackiy’s hand, and shook it like an excited puppy “Nice to meet you- Quackity, was it?” 

Quackity, for the first time since Technoblade had the misfortune of meeting him, seemed at a loss for words. His face was also strangely red. Was he ill? Technoblade hoped so. “I-uh- Yeah. I’m Quackity. Quackity is me. Wait- who the fuck are you?” 

It seemed like whatever trance Quackity was under he’d received a bit, though he didn’t really move away from Karl, who was now practically hanging off of Quackity’s arm. Technoblade was glad that Karl had never done that to him. Technoblade would’ve actually left the planet, contract or not. He was not gettin’ paid enough for that. 

“Oh! My bad, forgetting to introduce myself,” Karl said, smacking a hand against him forehead lightly “I’m Kar! I own the bookstore!” 

You’re Technoblade’s boss?” Quackity asked in a strange tone, glancing over to Technoblade, who was busying himself at the register. Quackity looked vaguely confused, but Technoblade was trying very hard to appear busy so that the two of them would leave him alone. What? He had a job to do after all. Also he really, really, didn’t want to be involved in that conversation. 

“Yeah! I hired him a few weeks ago,” Karl said brightly “But, listen Quackity, since I am his boss, that means I can leave early now that he’s here. And I would love to take you out to lunch,” 

“Lunch?” Quackity repeated,  tearing his eyes from Technoblade to look back at Karl with confusion. Or, at least Technoblade was pretty sure it was confusion.   

Karl laughed again, all good nature and sunshine. Gag. “Yes, the meal in the middle of the day. I mean, you look exhausted- not that you don’t look good, because you do, but you must be hungry if you’ve been working all day,” 

“I know what lunch is,” Quackity protested “I’m not an idiot, I’m just fucking confused as to why you’re taking me to lunch,” 

Karl smiled wider, somehow. Technoblade was still a little unnerved by human smiles, Karl more so than others. “Oh! You agreed to go! Great! C’mon, let’s go!” 

Quackity threw Technoblade one last look, mostly of confusion as Karl practically dragged him out the door by his arm, still protesting half-heartedly that he hadn’t agreed to go, though the protests were thoroughly ignored by Karl. Technoblade just busied himself with the cash register, even though he’d already gotten everything ready, and didn’t look up until he could no longer hear Karl chattering away. 

Technoblade debated locking the doors and going home early 

—- 

Wilbur, technically speaking, wasn’t supposed to be in Phil’s lab. Phil’s work was considered privileged information, and he could probably get sued or fired, or maybe sent to jail, however, they probably wouldn’t because Phil’s latest equation (that he’d written himself, thanks) had taken them a step closer to solving the issue with their new rocket prototype, so, ha, fuck off. He could take Wilbur into his lab if he wanted to. Besides, the guy was a geology dropout, it wasn't like he was even going to really understand the nitty-gritty of Phil’s equations. 

And , Phil wasn't even working on his job, he only had his real work out, which was totally Phil’s, and the lab couldn’t do shit about him showing it to other people. His alien research, his pride, his joy, his white whale, had nothing to do with the lab and their stub rules.

Besides, Wilbur had practically begged to see the lab after Phil mentioned his setup, and seeing someone in the house so interested in his setup was refreshing, Tubbo had his own small lab and Puffy spent her days at the real lab, so it wasn’t like he could exactly show off his stuff to them. Everyone else just brushed him off, which was fine, but that meant when someone finally showed excitement he was over the moon. 

“And this,” Phil said, pointing to the sleek desktop he’d purchased only six months ago “Is my computer. IT has the absolute best of everything on the market. I had it custom built to be able to run not just the calculations I do for work but to run my background program for my own research. Tubbo said it can even run Minecraft without overheating!” 

Wilbur laughed along with Phil but looked mildly confused like he didn’t quite get the joke. Did Wilbur not know what Minecraft was? If so, that would have to be remedied immediately. Phil had literally chosen his last name for the pun, c’mon . But, Minecraft, as wonderful as the game was, took second fiddle to his research. 

Wilbur peered at it curiously, “What does your program do?” 

Phil grinned, clapping his hands together in excitement. He loved that question! “Oh mate, what doesn’t it do?” 

Phil took a seat and pulled up the program, which was running in the background as always “So, technically Tubbo helped me make it since he has a bit more programming ability than I do, but it does a bit of everything. The main thing that it does, of course, is monitor incoming communications. Mostly I get bouncebacks from satellites like I said, but I discard that. I’ve gotten a few things I couldn’t decode, that I have stored on the hard drive and in physical form. However, the program also monitors atmospherical anomalies, so that if an alien craft passes through the atmosphere I’ll record it,” 

“Have you ever recorded anything?” Wilbur asked, but instead of his excitement from earlier, he sounded a  bit strained. Ah, Phil was familiar with that one. People were often afraid of aliens, despite there being little evidence that aliens were truly out to get them. Phil himself had been fucking terrified of aliens for a while, but he’d gotten past that fear, with pure curiosity.  

“Oh a few things here and there, but it’s hard to determine if it’s a freak storm, space junk, or an alien. When I have time sometimes I try and visit the sites, and I do research but…” Phil shrugged “I’m sure aliens have gotten by me. I mean, they’ve got to be on Earth or at least know about it, but don’t worry. Wilbur, if they wanted to destroy Earth they would’ve done it by now,”

Wilbur blinked in surprise.”I didn’t-” 

“It’s okay if you’re afraid mate,” Phil said, with what he hoped was a comforting smile “But I’m sure there are millions of aliens. Some of them have to be bad, yeah, but I figure they a bit like humans, a mixed bag, and whatnot,” 

“That’s Phil I uh- that’s reassuring,” Wilbur didn’t look particularly reassured but Phil dropped it. One day Phil would prove it- he’d prove it to everyone. 

“Anyway,” Phil said, turning back to the screen“This program also has a feature that scours the internet for stories of alien interaction or sightings. Of course, there’s a lot of bullshit, but it’s good to see what lines up, you know? I also use it to cross-reference the data I collected with the other two programs. I’ve been busy lately, but I’ve had a few pings lately that might lead to something if I can carve out the time for cross-referencing,” 

Normally, if anyone had stuck with him that long, that was the point their eyes started to get glazed, and bored, but Phil turned around, tearing himself away from the reports, to find Wilbur looking at him with bright eyes and a curious expression. His trepidation about aliens seemed to be replaced with curiosity and he was giving Phil his undivided attention. 

Phil grinned. No one, not even Tubbo or Puffy, was this interested in his research anymore. “Wow, Phil, that’s fucking brilliant!” Wilbur exclaimed brightly “I mean, that’s really impressive man,” 

Phil chuckled as he got up. Maybe he'd show Wilbur some of his artifacts next “It is kinda impressive, isn’t it? I’m just glad you’re interested in it- I so rarely get to talk about it because everyone gets bored” 

“What?” Wilbur exclaimed, aghast “How could they get bored of this? Your research is fucking brilliant. I mean, I get how they might get bored of some stuff, but honestly ,” 

Phil laughed “Well, Puffy and Tubbo have heard it a million times, my parents hardly understood it, and, well, I don’t have a lot of friends mate,” 

Wilbur paused, considering it “I always assumed that h- uh- other people’s parents were a bit more involved than mine were,” 

Phil’s eyebrows rose “Oh, my parents care, they just… didn’t get it. Dad was an English major so he never knew what questions to ask, you know? They’re both gone now, but they were proud of me, in the end,” 

“Oh,” Wilbur said, looking mildly panicked, “Sorry if I overstepped there Phil-” 

“You’re fine,” Phil said, brushing it off. His parents were gone, yeah, and it stung, but he was honestly more concerned about Wilbur not having parents that care “I’m actually more worried about your parents, mate. I thought Tommy was the one with fucked up parents,”

“Tommy’s family is more concerning,” Wilbur insisted, “My parents were fine. It's just, that once I turned 16 and moved out, they were done. Not the loving type- but that’s just kinda the culture of the, uh, town I grew up in. You move out and move on. No big deal” 

“That’s fucked mate,” Phil said flatly “No, absolutely not. I won’t stand for it. I’m your dad now, congrats son,” 

Wilbur blinked in surprise “I’m… what ?” 

Phil felt a rush of panic. Emotions and shit weren’t always his strong suit. Had he overstepped? Maybe Wilbur didn’t want a father figure, especially since he’d only known Phil what, a month? Oh shit, maybe he’d fucked this up. Phil had hoped it had come off as a joke, even though he wasn’t really joking, but- 

“You’re my son now. I’ll hang your report cards on the fridge and shit” Phil constituted because consequences be damned. Phil was committed to the bit if nothing else. “Your parents sound like shit, no offense,”

Wilbur kept staring at him, somewhere between hopeful, elated, and utterly confused, still saying nothing, and Phil was almost ready to back off when Wilbur finally spoke. 

“I don’t have report cards, Phil,” Wilbur said, in utter confusion 

“I think we can work around that,” Phil said, doing his absolute best not to laugh, and failing miserably. 

—- 

Wilbur was having a great day. He was pretty sure that Phil had officially accepted him into his human pack. 

Honestly, it was an honor that Wilbur had never anticipated being bestowed. Sure, Tommy had mentioned it in passing, but to be accepted by the head of a real, human pack- Holy shit Fundy was going to be so jealous. 

Wilbur also had no idea why it happened- Sure he’d studied humans intensively, but still. Wilbur had never fit in with anyone on his home planet, or even really at Camarvan. Sure, he’d been plenty popular, but really, no one liked him that much. Eret and Fundy were the closest things he had to family- and Eret was literally his boss. 

He had no clue why Phil had so easily brought him into his pack, but Wilbur was thrilled. 

And, and, and, Phil wanted to hang Wiblur's things on the fridge! The fridge! Wilbur had thought Phil was joking at first, but he wasn’t! Of course, Wilbur didn’t have a real report card, but Phil promised he’d think of something. 

A human! Hanging Wilbur's stuff! On a human fridge! Honestly, he wasn't sure he even deserved it. 

“What if he changes his mind?” Wilbur muttered to himself as he paced in his room. His digestive tract testing uncomfortably at the idea of Phil changing his mind, for some reason.  “What if he realizes he fucked up, and he shouldn’t hang my stuff up?” 

Wilbur’s last paper had been torn apart by the peer review committee, honestly, and his reputation had taken a hit. Eret still believed in him, but honestly, Wilbur wasn't sure he was qualified to be part of a human pack! 

What if he fucked it up? This could be vital to the future of L’manburg’s relations with Earth and if he fucked it up, then he could ruin everything. 

“Fuck,” Wilbur cursed in common, yanking off his beanie to run a hand through his hair. He desperately needed to dye his hair soon, so the pale greyish-brown roots weren’t so obvious “I can’t do this,” 

But did he have a choice? No. Wilbur had to do it. He couldn’t let L’manburg down. 

He couldn’t let Phil down. Phil had practically adopted him. probably not legally, but honestly Wilbur knew very little about human adoption. He hadn’t even known it was really a thing, so maybe he was legally Phil’s son now? 

Either way, he couldn’t let anyone down. He had to keep the facade up now, for even longer. Eret would be… honestly Wilbur wasn't sure if Eret would be pissed that he had gotten in so deep, or if he’d be pleased with the progress. 

Wilbur didn’t get to chase that train of thought much longer, as something slammed against his window. He scrambled for his beanie, shoving it back on his head, as he pulled the curtains aside. To his horror, it was Dream, at the top of a ladder, peering into Wilbur’s window. 

Dream, or at least what little of his face could be seen, looked just as pissed to see Wilbur as Wilbur was to see him. “Fuck off,” Wilbur snapped, and slammed his hand against the window, hard enough that it shook, startling Dream. Dream jumped, and the ladder swayed dangerously beneath him. Through the glass, Wilbur could hear both Dream and George shouting indistinctly, followed by a high-pitched scream that might have belonged to Sapnap

Wilbur just tanked the curtains shut tightly and hoped that Dream fell. 

Annoying green bitch. 

Chapter Text

Having days off were just as much of a blessing on Earth as they were back home. Perhaps more so. Actually, Technoblade considered, it was considerably better now that Quackity and Karl flirted. Ever. Single. Day. 

He wasn’t exactly sure how human courting rituals worked, but he’d learned what the word flirting meant, and now knew exactly what it looked like. He was vaguely horrified by it, honestly. They were menaces to society, that’s what they were. They were particularly menaces to Technoblade and made his day miserable. He had no idea if Quackity even liked Karl or if it was just another tactical move to make Technoblade miserable every single day. It had been going on for over a week with no sign of stopping. He’d only made it worse when he added Sapnap to his roster to flirt with. Somehow that was even worse than flirting with Karl. 

Quackity was a fool but a determined one. He was probably outside right now. Well, probably not, he considered after glancing at the window. It was like eleven thirty, so he’d probably already followed Tommy to work. 

Of course, that didn’t mean that the rest of the idiots weren’t out there. He was pretty sure he’d seen George sleeping in the bushes when he walked by the front window. 

He was contemplating going out there to harass them a little bit when Phil burst in through the back door. He was obviously occupied with the papers in his hand, and Technoblade didn’t see any need to interrupt him. The guy was busy and Technoblade was having a peaceful breakfast. 

Of course, Technoblade felt kind of awkward. What if Phil was just ignoring him? Or what if Technoblade wasn't supposed to be down here? He could be but what it- 

“Oh!” Phil exclaimed suddenly, nearly dropping his stack of papers in surprise as he looked up and noticed him for the first time “Technoblade you scared the shit out of me!” 

“I was just sittin’ here?” Technoblade said slowly. He was just sitting at the table, eating a bowl of cereal. Wilbur had shown him how to eat it and it was a pain in the ass to eat, since you had to pour the almond juice (almond milk is what Wilbur called it maybe?) in the bowl first before the cereal, and it made a huge mess, but he actually did enjoy the human meal. 

He didn’t enjoy much humanity had to offer, but that was one of them. Technoblade had already painstakingly copied down the ingredients for the Cheerios so that the scientists back home could recreate it after they invaded and probably destroyed the Earth

“I just didn’t see you there, nearly gave me a heart attack,” Phil said with a grin, before flopping down at a chair across from him, in his seat. Apparently, humans had assigned seats? Technoblade wasn’t sure but Phil always sat in the same spot at dinner, then once at Puffy’s, when Tubbo had dragged all of them over, he’d sat down in a chair, but Tubbo had gotten angry because it was his seat? 

Technoblade was baffled by the territorial nature of humans about seemingly random things. It made no sense. 

“I was just eatin’ the cereal,” Technoblade said, then paused “I mean, I don’t fit on top of the counter as well as Tommy or Wilbur, but I figured eating at the table was okay?” 

Phil squinted at him, then shook his head “I’m not even gonna ask, mate,” 

Technoblade was relieved at that. He’d never seen Phil on the counter, but Technoblade had also never seen Phil eat much cereal at all. Technoblade had called it an investment after Wilbur grudgingly let him try some. 

“Anyway,” Phil said, “How’s your day been so far?” 

Technoblade shrugged, slurping the almond juice up. “It’s been fine, glad I didn’t have to leave and get harassed by the hu-the agents outside. Or Quackity,” 

Phil hummed “They’re a bit annoying sometimes, aren’t they? I think they mean well though,” 

Technoblade squinted at him. Or he tried. He wasn’t sure he had that human facial expression down just yet. “They tried to break into Wilbur's room. I mean, it would have been funny, since Wilbur is annoyin’ but still. What if they try my room next?” 

“Nah, Dream almost broke a leg earlier,” Phil said “They won’t try it again. Probably. ” 

That was not reassuring. But- “What? Broke his leg?” 

“Yeah, I mean he fell almost two stories. It was only because he landed on Sapnap’s back that he didn’t break a bone. Lucky bastard, if you ask me,” Phil said casually, rifling through his papers again. “He’d have been in a cast for weeks- and probably still would’ve hung out in our yard while it healed,” 

Human bones broke? Technoblade knew that many species could break bones easily, like Witherlings, but that meant they had to be very, very careful about what they did. Technoblade had only heard of a few Piglins who had broken bones, and those had all been dead within days, due to the extent of other injuries. But of all the species Technoblade knew of, the only species that could heal broken bones were creepers, and they could only do it when they had to undergo the painful process of rebuilding their entire body after an explosion. 

But human bones could just… be fixed? Technoblade had to sit there with that somewhat horrific realization as Phil continued to talk in the background like he hadn’t just completely shattered Technoblade’s idea of how the invasion would go. 

“, I mean really, Techno, can you believe that?” Phil asked, looking at Technoblade expectantly. 

“Uh, I… can you repeat the question,” Technoblade asked hesitantly “I didn’t hear you I was too busy, uh, eating cereal,” 

“Ah,” Phil said with a nod, understandable. But I said that I couldn’t believe that some woman was on a podcast I listen to saying that aliens aren’t real! Or that they’re only microbes I mean, what the fuck was she doing? Fucking bullshit ,” 

“I mean… are you sure aliens are real?” Technoblade asked. You know. Because he was lying. It was probably best to just deny everything. That’d definitely work out. 

Phil groaned “I forgot you don’t believe in aliens,” 

Technoblade shrugged awkwardly. It was awkward because he didn’t like Phil being upset with him, for some reason, and also because he wasn't exactly sure he could pull off the movement quite right as a human. 

“I mean really, “Phil pressed, leaning forward “The universe is huge Technoblade and ever-expanding! You’re really telling me that there can’t be any other forms of sentient life out there?”

Technoblade hoped that he wasn’t making a face that let Phil know he was lying. “No? I mean I guess I don’t know, but there isn’t any proof of it is there?” 

Well. Besides the fact that he wasn't from Earth, but Phil didn’t know that, okay? 

“It’s not about proof,” Phil said adamantly “Besides, there have been so many sightings of aliens over the years, it has to be true! And, not to mention, I’ve picked up multiple odd signals lately- I’m getting close, Technoblade. You’ll see! I swear, there are aliens out there-” 

“Phil, stop harassing the poor guy,” Puffy said, as she entered through the backdoor “I could hear you through the door,” 

“I’m just-” 

“Nope,” Puffy said, cutting Phil's protest off as she collapsed into the seat beside him. Phil frowned, but didn’t look too upset “Technoblade is trying to eat. If you wanna talk shop with someone, Tubbo had some suggested updates for the system if you wanna go talk to him,” 

Phil narrowed his eyes at her, then dropped his papers to the table “Damn you, you drive a hard bargain. Fine!” Phil got up abruptly, heading for the door, then paused, “ But Technoblade, don’t forget what I said!” 

“Okay,” Technoblade agreed, even though he was pretty sure Phil didn’t hear it since he was already out of the house,

“Sorry about him” Puffy said, but she was smiling “He’s a bit passionate,” 

“I’ve noticed,” Technoblade said dryly. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and normally Technoblade didn’t mind when people talked about stuff- unless it was Wilbur or Tommy- but it was so awkward when Phil was trying to convince him aliens existed. “It’s okay. He’s- Phil is nice, just a little obsessed” 

“He is, on both counts,” Puffy agreed, “But, Phil is also one of my closest friends, and people- people tend to misunderstand him. Or they’re off put by him,” 

Technoblade wasn’t sure how people were really off-put by Phil. Of the humans he knew, Phil was far more tolerable than most of them combined. 

“I mean, he just believes in aliens,” Technoblade said “That’s not that unusual. Is it?” 

“He believes more than the average person,” Puffy offered “You don’t think it’s weird? Or annoying?” 

“Honestly I think Wilbur’s the weird one in this house. Tommy’s the annoyin’ one,” Technoblade corrected. “But, I guess I didn’t realize that Phil was too into it. I just figure the guy had a hobby. Why is he so into it?”

“That’s a personal question Technoblade. I know the answer, but it’s not my place to tell you. You’ll have to ask Phil if you want the answer,” Puffy said, shaking her head. 

“Fair enough,” Technoblade said with a shrug. He’d probably ask Phil, later. He was curious now after Puffy said that. He’d just kinda assumed that he’d messed up, by sayin’ that he didn’t believe in aliens on that first night and that most humans believe in them. Apparently, he was better at the whole undercover thing than he thought he was. “As long as it isn’t a violent reason, I’m sure it’s a good one. Hey, even if it is violent Phil can get a pass,” 

Puffy hesitated a moment, “Listen, Phil’s harmless, but….he has trouble connecting sometimes. People don’t really like his whole alien thing, and as much as I didn’t want you around at first, I think you- and the other two- you’re good for Phil. I’m sorry I didn’t trust you at first” 

Technoblade blinked slowly.  “It’s… okay?” 

Puffy offered him a small smile. “It’s really not. I jumped the gun. I thought you were dangerous, Technoblade, I mean, really I thought you were from a prison gang-” 

“Hey, I’ve never been to prison,” Technoblade protested. He had joined a gang briefly but hated it so much because their rules sucked that he’d destroyed it from the inside out. 

Puffy laughed “Yeah, I see that now. Honestly, you're the furthest thing I can imagine from a hardened criminal, especially with those outfits you wear,” 

Technoblade frowned, glancing down at the billowy white shirt that he’d picked out, and the dark red pants with gold trim, before looking back up at Puffy“What’s wrong with my clothes?” 

—----

“Uh, can I help you, man?” Jack manifold looked half asleep leaned against his doorframe in the mid-afternoon light. If he had any more hair Tommy imagined it would be all messy and shit like Wilbur’s was in the morning. “Timmy, right?” 

“I literally was in your house fucking two days ago, bastard” Tommy complained. He and Tubbo had gone over there to hang out. Really Tubbo just wanted to do a few dubious experiments on his laptop that had a good chance of the government tracking his IP address, so he figured it was better to use Jack Minfold’s internet. 

They hadn’t told him about that, exactly, but Jack had only shouted a bit about it and hadn’t kicked them out or anything. 

Jack cracked a grin then “Yeah I’m just fucking with ya Tommy?” 

Tommy groaned “Bitch. You’re a right bitch Jack Manifold,” 

“It’s my specialty, especially for annoying little shits like you,” Jack said “But what’s up, man,” 

“I-listen, can I just come in? It’s rude to leave me standing on your steps and shit,” Tommy hedged.

“Alright whatever man,” Jack said, opening the door “I mean, it’s kinda fucking rude for you to just show up unannounced but-” 

“You should simply have known I was coming over,” Tommy said brusquely as he pushed through the door 

“How the fuck could I know that,” Jack protested as he shut the door behind him “I’m not fucking psychic,” 

Tommy shrugged as he flopped down onto Jack’s couch. It was kinda a shitty couch, but Tommy could make sacrifices for this “Simply get good,” 

“I could kick you out right now,” Jack said flatly, even as he took a seat beside Tommy. 

“You won’t though,” Tommy said “I’m simply too poggers to be kicked out,” 

“I still don’t know what that fucking word means,” Jack complained “You’re literally the worst, Tommy. I thought Tubbo was bad, but no, you’re the worst,” 

“I take deep offense to that Jack Manifold,” Tommy snapped, even though he really didn’t. “Fuck you,” 

“Are you leaving then?” Jack said hopefully, and Tommy elbowed him in the ribs for that one. 

“Fuck off, no. Listen, I don’t want to hurt you, but-” 

“Hurt me!” Jack exclaimed, sounding alarmed, but Tommy chose to ignore that one 

“But, I suppose I can risk your already astronomically big  head getting a bit bigger-” 

Literally fuck off and die,” 

“By asking you for- for some assistance,” Tommy finished.

Jack scoffed “Why the fuck would I help you? You came into my house at the ungodly hour of- 4 pm- and now you’re insulting me? What the fuck man,”

“It’s important?” Tommy tried “I-uh, well I broke something. I might’ve dropped my tablet and shattered it a little bit,” 

Jack leveled him with an unimpressed look “A little bit?” 

“I mean, the edges are a little fucked up, Tommy admitted as he finally handed the tabled over to Jack, who squinted at it with an unreadable expression, “And maybe it isn’t exactly chagrining right, but I don’t think I fucked it up that badly-” 

“Tommy, you just handed me two separate pieces of glass,” Jack said flatly, holding up the two halves of Tommy’s tablet “And you’re trying to convince me this is a tablet?” 

Tommy crossed his arms, a defensive gesture he’d picked up “It’s custom made! It was supposed to be shatter-proof!” 

“Well,” Jack said slowly, “It didn’t shatter . It snapped in half. What the hell did you do to it?” 

“It just fell off my bed! That’s it! I’m just as fucking baffled as you are,” Tommy exclaimed. Sam had said that the tablet was designed to withstand an explosion- a close ranger creeper explosion at that. He had no idea how it had broken in half so cleanly from a three-foot fall off his bed! 

“Tommy, this isn’t even a tablet,” Jack said. “It's-It's just glass! And even if it was, I don’t know shit about fixing electronics. Why the hell did you bring it to me instead of Tubb?. He’s some sort of computer genius, not me, as much as I wish I was” 

“You work at a phone repair shop! Besides Tubbo is being a little bitch and we aren’t speaking,” 

It was the best lie he could come up with on the fly, alright? Tommy couldn’t exactly admit that Tubbo would definitely be able to tell it wasn’t Earth technology! Jack had been a last-ditch effort. He also didn’t want to admit that it technically hadn’t broken in half upon impact. Tommy may have spent a couple nights tinkering with it, and only managed to totally break it. 

Tommy wasn’t a fucking mechanic alright? He studied people! Languages! Big man shit! Not fucking how to fix tablets. 

“Listen, Tommy, I really don’t have time for your jokes today. I’ve got a late shift I have to get ready for,” Jack said, handing back the pieces of his tablet “Go stop having a fight with Tubbo or whatever, because even if that thing was real, I wouldn’t be able to fix it. That shit’s fucked,” 

Tommy huffed, but took the two pieces back, and allowed Jack to usher him to the door.

“Thanks for nothing bitch,” Tommy snarked as he headed out the door. Jack just flipped him off and shut the door. 

Tommy ignored Dream as he walked by the van, despite Dream’s jeers, and paused between his house and Tubbo’s. 

Jack had been a shot in the dark, but it would only take a couple more earth days for his dad to start getting worried about him, and he wasn't sure what would happen when he wasn't able to respond at all. 

It would…. Probably be fine? 

His dad could be a little overprotective but was pretty rational. He’d probably just send someone after him and Tommy could explain the misunderstanding and send whatever bitchy soldier Sam picked out back and the mission could continue. 

It definitely wouldn’t be anything like that time he forgot to take his phone with him on his second solo flight (that he might’ve taken a  couple of wrong turns on) and Sam literally sent out half the military to find him. 

Tommy grimaced. Yeah, that sounded like a hell of a reach even to himself.. Maybe Tommy could risk showing Tubbo the tablet. 

—- 

“Wilbur! Hey! Wilbur! Don’t you dare ignore me too, like Tommy!” 

It was all Wilbur could do not to literally hiss at Dream. He was genuinely so close to just biting the guy. Damn the mission to hell. Let Dream see his teeth. Maybe the green bitch would leave him the fuck alone for a bit. 

Of course, that would only make Dream more determined, and that was really the absolute last thing that Wilbur wanted to happen. Especially today, 

“Leave me alone, Dream. Tommy’s been taking lessons from me,” Wilbur said, as kindly as he could muster, flashing him the biggest smile he could without showing off his rows of razor-sharp teeth. Wilbur didn’t think himself a  violent person, but he was getting ridiculously close to biting the next person who pissed him off. 

”Christ, who pissed in your cheerios?” Dream shouted back. At least he wasn’t in Wilbur’s personal space. Humans sucked at that concept, for the most part. They were so touchy Normally Wilbur wouldn’t mind but- 

“Some asshole poured coffee on my head today, sorry if I’m not in the mood for pleasantries with my least favorite stalker,” Wilbur snapped. It had been iced coffee, at least. Humans drank coffee so hot it probably would've given him dangerous burns if it hadn’t been iced. As it stood, his beanie was ruined, and Wilbur’s skin was already starting to break out from the exposure to caffeine. Niki had thankfully let him go early, but he was still wet, miserable, and stressed that someone would see through his skin paint. 

“Aw, does that mean I’m your favorite?” Sapnap asked, popping out of the window of the SUV. 

“You were until you set our garbage can on fire,” Wilbur said “Now my favorite is George,” 

“You’re only saying that because you’re British and so is here,” Sapnap whined.

“I promise you, I’m really fucking not,” Wilbur said, since, you know, he wasn’t even actually British.He was a proud L’manburgian, though he couldn’t exactly say that “George is just the least insufferable,” 

“You know what, that’s fair,” Dream said. 

Subpoena scoffed “You only say that because you’re in love with him, Dream,” 

“I am not!” Dream shouted, instantly turning red “You’re the one with a dumb crush!”

Wilbur took their newest argument as a chance to slip past the two agents (George, per usual, was nowhere in sight. Maybe he was sleeping on top of the shed again)

Though Wilbur had to admit that he was a little curious as to who exactly Sapnap’s crush was, so if he lingered a little longer at the doorway than was strictly necessary, that was his own business. 

“Quackity is not stupid!” Sapnap shouted back, and Wilbur really didn’t have to fake nearly dropping his house key. Thankfully Sapnap and Dream were too engrossed in their spat to notice Wilbur’s gasp. Quackity? Fucking Quackity? Wilbur knew he’d been hanging around, but for him to be flirting with an agent? Oh that, that was crossing a line. 

“Yeah, but Technobvlade told me yesterday that Quackity is in a relationship,” Dream shot back “He’s in love with Technoblade’s boss!” 

“No way! He’s definitely been flirting with me, Dream! Even George agreed,” Sapnap said, and honestly, the poor guy sounded kinda desperate. 

“He’s just leading you on, Sapnap!” Dream taunted, “He’s just going to use you- you don’t think he really likes you, do you?” 

“Don’t say that, asshole!” Sapnap cried, practically launching himself out of the van at Dream, who took several large steps back. Of course, since Sapnap was coming out the window, he really just fell on the ground when his foot caught on the door.

“Oh shit!” Dream exclaimed, rushing to Sapnap’s side, helping him up off the pavement “Fuck are you alright,” 

“I broke my nose!” Sapnap shouted, hand pressed to his face “Of course I’m not alright dumbass! This is your fault”

“How is it my fault?”  

Wilbur shook his head and left them to their argument. He really just needed a shower. 

Phil grinned. He was a little- okay no, he was really proud of himself for this one. 

Wilbur has obviously had a shitty childhood, Phil had determined (no that he was sure any of the boys had a good childhood at all) and had never had anyone hang something of his on the fridge? Unacceptable. 

He’d have to check with the others, but he knew that Wilbur would be excited by this. 

His fridge was already pretty full, with some old drawings of Tubbo’s, a calendar, and a bunch of reminders for work. However, work could easily get kicked off for what he was putting up there. It was a picture from the beach trip that Puffy had taken, of Wilbur with his arm tossed around Tommy’s shoulder, who had his head back laughing. Technoblade was in the picture but had a hat over his face so you could only really see his pink hair. It was stupid and corny, but he figured that Wilbur would appreciate the sentiment. Hopefully, the others wouldn’t mind it. 

It was now front and center on the fridge, between a drawing of Tubbo’s and his calendar. There was no way that Wilbur could miss it, once he came down from his shower. Which it was a bit odd that Wilbur was home so early, but hey Phil barely knew what his own schedule was, let alone everyone else’s. He was pretty sure that Tommy was over at Tubbo’s though, and Technoblade was probably at work, since he’d been off yesterday. Or maybe he’d just left, Phil didn’t know. 

And okay, technically Phil was working but this was his lunch break. Sure. 

Phil really hoped that Wilbur would get an employee of the month award, if for no other reason than he wanted to put it on the fridge. It’d probably make him very happy. 

(Phil actually missed Wilbur's reaction, since he fell asleep at the dining room table, but when he woke up the picture was still there, and Wilbur’s eyes were suspiciously red. He acted very nonchalant, but Phil was pretty sure he’d cried a little). 

—- 

“Phil! The only man ever!” Tommy crowed, as he crossed over into his yard from Puffy’s/ He came up to Phil’s lawn chair and frowned, taking in the scene “Oh, and Wilbur. What the fuck are you two doing?” 

“Shh!” Wilbur exclaimed, pointing at the scene that was unfolding a few yards away “Look!” 

Phil hid a smile at Tommy's expression. Quackity and Sapnap were having a shouting match in the street- very loudly mind you- and Phil was pretty sure that one of them was about to cry. It was something about cheating. Phil had no idea, but Wilbur was giving a play by play. 

“You’re sitting out here watching these two shout at each other?” Tommy asked, and Phil was slightly offended at his unimpressed tone. Wilbur was visibly offended, and began splitting perhaps comically “All these guys do is argue. Besides, if I want to see people yell at each other I’d go back to work. Or piss of Technoblade,” 

“Ooh I like that idea,” Wilbur chimed in, eyes glinting. 

“No pissing off Technoblade,” Phil said, more out of habit than anything. Huh. He’d halfway joked about being Wilbur's dad, but was that what having kids was like? 

“Well, that wasn’t my plan,” Phil admitted “This is just a bonus show Wilbur is invested in. There’s supposed to be a meteor shower tonight and I came out early to set up. Wilbur joined me,” 

Phil gestured to the setup, which he thought was pretty nice. He had a cooler full of beer and cokes, a few snacks, a lawn chair, and a blanket. Wilbur had his own chair, and had his beanie pulled down low “You’re welcome to join us if you want mate” 

“Won’t there be light pollution and shit?” Tommy asked, squinting up at the sky. It was just getting dark, but the lights from the nearby houses and street lamps were already glowing. 

“Nah don’t worry about it,” Phil said “Tubbo and I set it up so that when there is a significant astronomical event, I can shut down the power to the entire neighborhood,”

“Philza Minecraft, that’s fucking fantastic,” Tommy said seriously, and Phil grinned at the expression of vague awe on his face “I’ll be right back,” 

A few minutes later Tommy came out with a blanket and a bag of popcorn. Behind him, only looking slightly put out was Technoblade holding his own chair. It looked like Tommy had woken him up from a nap, but he was there. 

“Hey, guys!” Phil exclaimed, as Tommy spread his blanket out, and sprawled at their feet. Technoblade put his chair down beside Phil, casting Wilbur a look. Wilbur flipped him off in return, and Phil laughed. 

“What’s goin’ on?” Technoblade asked, as he settled into his chair, and took the coke that Phil offered to him without question. He wasn’t sure that he’d seen Technoblade actually drink yet, so he wasn’t offering beer. 

“Quackity found out that Sapnap knows about Karl,” Wilbur said in a hushed tone “We’re watching the fight,” 

“And waiting for falling stars!” Tommy chimed in “We are gonna see meteors and shit!” ]

“You dragged me outta bed for that?” Technoblade grumbled, but opened his coke and made no move to get up. 

Eventually, Quackity stormed off, and Spanap got in the van. Phil wasn't sure how it had ended, since Tommy had started telling a story about his boss Hannah beating the shit out of someone who’d tried to vandalize her shop, and they'd all gotten into it. Technoblade and Wilbur called bullshit, but Phil was pretty sure he’d heard of her, back in her professional fighting days. 

Just as the sun slipped truly down the horizon, and Wilbur started singing a song about stars he’d come up with on the spot just to piss off Technoblade, and Tommy joined in loudly and a bit off key, and Phil was laughing when he pulled his phone out of the pocket and shut down the power in the area. 

Wilbur and Tommy’s song dissolved into gasps and laughter as the street light went out, and the night sky full of meteors became clear. 

Dogs were barking down the street, neighbors were yelling, Technoblade had Tommy by the ear, Dream’s van was still on the street, and Phil was sure that the cops would show up the next day to try and pin this on him like they did every time, but Phil didn’t give a shit. 

It was a good day.