Techno let out a sigh as he hoed the ground outside of his home. The tundra biome didn’t have the easiest dirt to try to make suitable for farming, but it wasn’t impossible. Especially for potatoes, those pretty much grew anywhere. Any other kind of vegetable he’d just trade for, but it would probably be best to have at least one vegetable growing. Athena needed to eat something.
Well… When Phil took her to come visit him sometimes, he meant. She wasn’t staying. He especially hoped he visited more frequently then… Not that he was attached or anything.
He sighed, setting his hoe down as he turned to look back at where he left the kid in question. He couldn’t help a tired smile and he watched her pick up handfuls of snow, sat at the edge of the fenced-off area he’d made for his farm on top of his old red cloak. He couldn’t have her getting too wet. He’d already have to warm her up when they went back inside.
He knelt down and planted his next lot of potatoes (it had been a while since he’d done something as simple as this) before he looked up at the sun’s position in the sky. It was just a little past noon now…
Where was Phil?
He said he’d be here today so they could go find some turtle eggs, he wouldn’t leave it too late, right?
The walk was probably just a little longer without Techno leading him probably, yeah.
He considered sending a message through the communicator when, suddenly, Athena let out a babble of nonsense from behind him. He looked up and he grabbed his blade in a hurry when he saw a figure. He held it out threateningly, voices echoing in his head.
‘PROTECT. BLOOD. KILL. SAVE HER. BLOOD. BLOOD GOD. PROTECT. BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD. KILL-’
Philza laughed fondly and Techno suddenly shook himself out of it, coming to from his bloodthirsty haze. Phil stood there, Athena in his arms. No one else, just them. Athena cooed and held her little arms out to the sword which he pulled back in an instance. He sheathed it yet again.
“You nearly gave me a heart attack, Phil… You know not to sneak up on me, you could’ve gotten hurt.”
“Protective much?” The older man asked with a knowing smile, settling Athena on his hip like he was a natural at it. Well, Techno supposed he was. Not everyone was as scarily unskilled with children like him. “I don’t think you’ve ever pulled a sword that quick on me before.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t used to have a bounty on my head-”
“From Quackity? Really?”
“You were the one who told me to be concerned!” It was clear Phil wasn’t buying it and honestly, neither was Techno. He could take on the whole New L’Manburg population with his eyes closed no problem. However, Athena couldn’t- “Anyway, babies can die so easily, so really I’m just being cautious whilst she’s staying with me. Which isn’t for much longer.”
Phil raised an eyebrow at Techno and the piglin hybrid pointedly ignored the expression as he finished planting his last potato and put away his hoe. He jumped the fence to lead the winged man into his house. “Then why are you planting a farm? I thought you had grown sick of potatoes after that period that you decided if you farmed for long enough that the voices would stop.” He noticed Phil wince at the memory. Techno found the memory quite funny looking back on it, the fact he didn’t sleep for over three days sometimes and the house had been full of potatoes for like a year… It was more than a little bit funny. Phil on the other hand had always found it worrying.
He’d always been a worrier.
“No, you grew sick of the potatoes, I just grew sick of the farming. This is a small farm, it’s different.” Techno laughed a little. “I wanted another food source, mixing it up a little.”
“Sure… it’s got nothing about how you’ve been feeding Athena mashed potatoes for dinner recently, right?”
“Absolutely not… but having some available for when you both come and visit wouldn’t hurt, would it?” He smiled at Phil and opened his door for him, watching as he walked it with Athena still in his arms. The baby seemed to really like Phil… that was good… right?
Yes. It was.
Despite the growing dread filling his stomach which he was refusing to acknowledge, it was good to finally have his best friend back with him. He’d missed him.
“So.” Techno started when he walked in after them, walking over to his chest and pulling out his journal. He skipped to the page that had today's date and sat next to Phil on the spare bed he’d set up in his main room. “The plan for your visit.”
Phil tore his eyes away from Athena who was reaching up for the beads that dangled from his hat just out of reach from her little chubby hands to instead lead over and glance at the open page as Techno started to read.
“First things first, we go off and collect turtle eggs. We might need to row for a little while, but it shouldn’t be that hard to find some turtles. Then we follow them to their eggs, take them, and set up a little area for them to hatch.”
“Then when they do we use them to make turtle potions right?”
“I thought you were retired?” Phil questioned, tilting his head to the side. Techno was quick to reassure him. Phil had been so pleased when he confessed he was retiring from all this, that he’d decided to ignore the voices. He didn’t want him to think poorly of him now.
“Of course I am, this is just for in case anyone tries to attack me, it’s good to be prepared.” He hummed, specifically looking down and over at Athena. “It’s specifically a protective potion after all.”
His gaze returned to his book and there was a beat of silence.
“Anyway, then I was hoping you could make me a honey farm? I have no experience with bees but I know you’ve made one before.” Phil raised an eyebrow.
“Sure… but why?”
“Retirement is boring Phil. Don’t people like… care for bees as a hobby or something?” Techno shrugged. The voices said it was a good idea, and if they said it was a good idea and it didn’t include murder then it couldn’t be a bad one… right? He could use the blocks for a redstone project too…
He needed somewhere to store his alarming growing number of wither skulls-
“Okay. Sounds like a plan. What are we doing with Athena?”
“We’ll take her with us!” Declared Techno, already slamming his book closed and placing it away in his satchel. He grabbed his cloak and tied it around his neck before grabbing the piece of fabric he used to carry Athena around in.
“Really? Perhaps it would be better if I stayed and watched her-”
“Phil, we’re going to hunt for turtles, not sneak into New L’manburg.” He started to tie the sling around his torso before Phil spoke up again.
“I thought I was taking her.” Techno paused. This was true. Phil was supposed to be in charge of her today until… forever. Yeah. Phil should take her. She was so quiet and infatuated with him already. And it would be a bonding experience, probably. It wasn’t when he did it though- He didn’t bond-
“Right… uh… Yeah- let me- uhm.” Techno untied the sling sheepishly before tying it around Phil’s torso instead. He stepped back as he watched his best friend coo at the child and gently place her into the sling. He was forgetting something… Oh! He opened his chest and pulled out a cloak. “For you.”
Phil smiled fondly. “Aw, mate-”
“I’m not done! Look, it’s got holes in it for your wings.” Techno stretched it out so Phil could see the two slits in the fabric. He knew the man hated not being able to just have them on display when he could, especially in case of emergencies. This way he could both feel safer and warmer. “I’ll help you put them through if you turn around, try not to knock anything with them if you stretch them out.”
Phil’s wings were incredible. If you weren’t looking, they were just small and black little things that would struggle to pull even a dog off the ground, however with one impressive flap of the feathers they would come alive. The long wings could probably both brush against the floor and hit his ceiling if Phil decided he wanted them to and they were so incredibly strong.
It’s part of the reason Techno didn’t worry too much about Phil living in New L’manburg. Not only were they friendly with him, but he could also either escape with no problem if things got grim.
After he’d helped him with the matching blue cloak, the two finished packing things up and left, Techno walking a few steps ahead with his hand on his sword just in case. He’d always been protective of Phil anyway, and now there was Athena.
“The ocean is this way.” He said before they walked off in comfortable silence, only small conversations said in low voices (to not wake up the napping Athena) and soft chuckles ever disturbing it.
“You know about the voices, right Phil?” Techno asked as he rowed through the ocean, the air already growing warmer as the biomes changed. He hoped they didn’t find the turtles in a desert biome or something, He didn’t want Phil or Athena to feel too hot. The question was stupid, he knew the answer, but he didn’t know how else to broach the subject.
“Of course I do, you’ve complained about voices in your head since you were small. I don’t think there was ever a point that you didn’t” He furrowed his brows in concern at the memory, but Techno had his back to him so he didn’t notice. “Why? What are they saying?”
‘protect her’ ‘don’t let him take her’ ‘we can care for her so much better’ ‘you really want to put her in enemies hands’ ‘she needs to be safe’ ‘love’ ‘protect’ ‘cherish’ ‘care-’
“Nothing new.” He cleared his throat, glad Phil couldn’t see his mildly embarrassed blush. “But I’ve found out… Phil, I don’t think they are in my head.”
“Athena can hear them too.”
Silence overcame the two men in the boat for a moment, the only noise coming from the boat’s oar hitting the water of the calm ocean and the occasional gunt that Athena made whilst she slept. Even unconscious, that kid didn’t stop making noise.
“Are you sure?”
“Do you think they say the same things?”
Techno sighed and nodded. “She reacts to them when I hear them. I think they’re the same voices.” He stopped rowing for a second and turned to look at Phil. “The voices aren’t in my head, Phil, she can hear them. ” The voice was a little afraid when he whispered. “I think the Blood God is real .”
All the time Phil spent reassuring little Techno that the Blood God wasn’t real, that Techno didn’t have to hurt anyone, that the Blood God wasn’t going to hurt him and the voices were just in his head went out the window.
They spent the rest of the boat ride in silence that was less comfortable than before.
“Phil! Watch out!” Techno put his sword clean through a baby zombie’s head with a joking grin, watching the older man look at him with an unimpressed expression as he collected the last of the turtle eggs. A small quirk of his lips betrayed his amusement though.
“Ha ha ha. Very funny.”
“It could’ve taken your last life! I was protecting you.”
“I lose one life to a baby zombie before you were even born and I never hear the end of it. It was in full armour! And there were other monsters.” Philza scoffed, adjusting his satchel and frowning when Athena giggled too. “No come on, you can’t find it funny too.”
It was dark by now. It had taken them longer than planned to find the turtle eggs and the monsters were out, but neither men were really concerned. They were both very skilled in combat, a couple of zombies, creepers, and skeletons were hardly anything.
“If you’re done then, let’s head ho-”
Just then, it seemed, the dry spell that Techno had been so thankful for ended and the heavens opened up all at once.
The piglin hybrid felt soaked through in seconds, though before it got any worse it suddenly stopped. Techno looked around, not understanding why it was still raining everywhere else before he looked up and saw Phil’s wigs covering the three of them from the awful weather.
“We can’t travel the ocean in this weather, come on, let’s sleep with one of the villagers for tonight.” Philza insisted, keeping his wings up as they walked towards one of the houses. Techno walked inside and Philza handed Athena over before he lowered his wings and shook them small. He followed them inside just as the first strike of lighting landed not too far from where they’d been standing. They’d made a good choice then.
Then lit the house’s fire and, when it seemed like no villager was actually coming inside, they sat on the bed together.
Techno held Athena protectively, not once offering her back to Philza, and unknowingly to the man as he stared down at the child he insisted he was his daughter the other man who he insisted was not his father simply smiled and shook his head. He knew how this was going to end.
But for that night, they just curled up and slept.
Techno shivered as he entered his house, covered practically head to toe in snowflakes as the night fell and the blizzard continued. He’d been checking on the turtle eggs and making sure they were covered so no snow got in. The eggs hadn’t hatched yet, he’d been taking shifts watching them all day.
When he’d accidentally stepped on one, he realised he needed to leave it and go back inside.
Phil was sitting on the spare bed, feeding a hungry Athena some mashed potatoes that he’d obviously prepared whilst techno was busy. She’d mostly been with the man all day, she really liked the bees apparently.
Techno was glad she liked Phil, since he’d be her… yeah.
The thought brought on another sombre mood and he found that he just wanted to go to bed for once. Hurry up and bring tomorrow on. Get it all over and done with. He hung up his cloak as the melted snow started to drink off of it and Phil finally looked up.
“I’m going to bed for the night if you need anything just yell.” He sighed. At his voice, Athena looked up and over again. She cooed and reached for him, clearly having missed him throughout today. Techno hesitated.
“I think she’d like to say goodnight.” Phil smiled.
Techno stared at her softly before scowling. It was stupid. This was stupid. That wasn’t his fucking kid. That would never be his fucking kid. Why did he feel so angry about this? So frustrated? It was straight forward!
Phil was going to take her home, raise her like he raised him, pay actual attention to her and she won’t have to feel guilty for being the favourite because she won’t have two jealous brothers who never get to spend any time with their father all because he got away with everything and Dad was obviously just always concerned that if he didn’t watch him that he’d lash out and kill someone and-
“I think she can cope.” He gritted out before climbing the ladder upstairs, leaving a confused Philza and upset Athena in his wake.
He laid in his bed as she started to cry, listening to Phil try and soothe her. He wasn’t going to crack. He wasn’t going to go down there and take her to bed with him. He wasn’t her father. He would get her killed. Phil would be a great father. Phil was a great father. Phil had been a great father.
His best friend who showed up during emergencies… who travelled with him for years as they adventured together.
His father who abandoned his brothers for years just because Techno wanted to go somewhere else. Was he really worth that?
Phil was an incredible but friend but… Was Phil really that good of a father?
He wouldn’t be any better, he’d be far far worse. He would get her killed. Why did she look at him like he was her whole world? She stared at him when she noticed him like she’d been waiting for him to come in all day. She was a baby. She didn’t realise things.
The crying go louder and it didn’t sound like Phil had things under control.
He wasn’t going to go down there. He wasn’t. He was going to go to bed.
Techno waved Phil off early the next morning with a sad smile. He hated seeing his best friend leave every time. One day… he’d convince him to leave New L’Manburg and stay with him instead.
They’d be unstoppable together…
Today felt extra sad though. There was a weight in his chest that he couldn’t describe. Crushing.
But when Phil turned around just before he walked over the hill, wearing the blue cloak that Techno gave him proudly, and waved with his winging like he did when he was a kid before taking off, Techno knew things would be okay.
He’d be back soon.
Techno kissed Athena’s head.
“Come on, baby girl. Let’s go check the turtles really quick and then get you back inside before you get too cold.”