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fearless child, broken boy; tell me what it's like to burn

Chapter Text

To say Tommy was not in a good mood was an understatement. He had gotten up at the ass crack of dawn, too early in his opinion, to go hunting of all things. Tommy didn't even like hunting. He would much rather spend his time exploring caverns or pranking Wilbur.

Speaking of Wilbur, that prick was the reason he was in this situation, to begin with. Wilbur had been prattling on and on about how he took down a huge stag while returning from his recent expedition, almost double the size of the one Tommy had taken down last spring, and gods would Wilbur not let Tommy forget it.

If the residents of the castle thought that Tommy didn’t have an off button, they obviously hadn’t heard Wilbur when he was determined to get under Tommy’s skin.

It had only been a day since Wilbur had returned, and Tommy already wished he was out visiting the villages that made up the outskirts of their kingdom again. Every encounter he had with Wilbur, the older prince never failed to mention that fucking stag, and Tommy was losing patience fast.

It all came to a head at dinner the previous evening. Wilbur was being insufferable as usual, egging Tommy on from across the table beside Technoblade. Tommy gripped his fork tighter as Wilbur flicked yet another scrap of food at him.

Wilbur had just finished ranting about how ‘delectable’, whatever the fuck that meant, the meat from the stag that he had single-handedly taken down tasted. Phil, amused and not at all annoyed at hearing the story for the fifth godforsaken time, had just smiled from the head of the table. Technoblade looked as unbothered as usual from his seat at the emperor’s left. Pricks.

Wilbur flicked another piece of meat across the table. It hit him square in the face. Tommy’s patience, already strained to begin with, snapped.

He stood abruptly, chair skidding across the quartz floor behind him. Angrily, he threw down the napkin that was in his lap onto the table, relishing in his family’s shocked faces. "That's it, you prick! Tubbo and I will bring home a stag larger than you've ever seen, you hear? You'll eat your words, bitchboy!" Tommy seethed.

"I'll bet you 50 gold pounds you won't." Wilbur jeered, reclining back on his wooden chair and swiping his hair out from his face. His eyes met Tommy’s, a challenge shining playfully in his whiskey-colored orbs. Oh, so that’s how he was gonna play this.

Tommy grinned, making sure to show off his canines. “Double it.”

“Boys,” Phil warned, disapproval bleeding into his tone. Tommy ignored him.

“I’m heading out first thing in the morning. Don’t send for me.” With that, Tommy stormed out of the Great Hall. He ignored Phil’s calls for him to come back, elbowing past the guards positioned at the door as he went in search of Tubbo.

To say Tubbo wasn't keen on being chosen to accompany Tommy was an understatement, but Tommy had pleaded with him, and Tubbo had finally agreed on the condition of Tommy sneaking him a basketful of his favorite tarts. It was a cheap price, given how Tubbo detested hunting on a normal day, so Tommy was not going to complain. Tubbo had always had a soft spot for animals, but the chill that was present in the air made things much worse, so much that even Tommy was regretting his hasty actions. Even his warmest cloak had trouble keeping out the frigid cold.

To make matters even worse, there was neither hide nor tail of any creatures in the forest. Tubbo had reckoned they were smart, hiding away in their burrows or dens of wherever the hell they lived. Tommy didn't particularly care, he just wanted to kill something.

"Why are we even out here, this is stupid!" Tubbo complained from behind him, stomping over a tree root behind him. Tommy turned, shooting him a withering look.

"This would go quicker if someone stopped scaring away all the wildlife."

"We haven't seen any wildlife all day and you know it," Tubbo shot back.

"Well we probably would've if you weren't scaring em' all away before we got within fifty meters, you prick!"

Tubbo snorted, falling quiet as he focused on following behind Tommy as he sped up, gripping his loaded crossbow tightly in his hands. He would bring down a stag larger than Wilbur’s and prove to him that he could, weather and wildlife be damned. He could do this.

His optimism lasted until they reached the foot of the mountain a few minutes later without seeing any signs of wildlife. Even the birds had fallen silent, the only noise was the occasional gusts of wind that swept through the forest.

Tommy shivered, grumbling to himself. He was about to turn around to rant about the unfairness that was currently his life, had an arrow not sliced through the air, embedding itself into a tree barely a foot from his nose, sparkling softly with enchantments.

"Tommy!" Tubbo cried out, racing up the path towards him and gripped his arm tightly, pulling him back as another arrow flew by, barely missing him. The momentum threw Tommy off balance, and both he and Tubbo fell to the ground in a heap.

Scrambling, Tommy stumbled to his feet and unsheathed his sword, scanning the mountainside frantically for where the arrow had come from. Almost absent-mindedly, he reached back to grab Tubbo's shirt and pull him up, making sure he was close behind him.

"Show yourselves!" Tommy called out, praying that his voice didn’t shake. It did. Fuck.

A snap that came from above him drew Tommy’s attention, and three men stepped out from behind the foliage, sliding down the small cliffside and onto the trail in front of them. They were all wearing chainmail across their chests. One with a scar above his eye and a wicked grin had a crossbow aimed at them. The other two had their swords drawn and were lazily approaching them.

"Those crossbow shots were warnings, Tommy. If they were aimed to kill, you would've been dead on the spot." Tubbo whispered. Tommy felt him slide a dagger from his belt.

He chanced a glance back at Tubbo. "Chances we can take them?"

Tubbo snorted, eyes locked on the approaching enemies. "Little to none, without a good amount of luck."

Tommy snarled, adopting the battle stance Techno had drilled into him growing up. "State your business, bitch!"

The man in front, the leader, Tommy decided, laughed loudly, stopping around ten feet in front of them. A wide smile spread across his face. "You're in no position to make demands, boy. We've got the power here."

Tommy could feel Tubbo clutching the back of his cloak tightly. He had to play it safe. Not only was he at risk here, but Tubbo was as well. The thought of one of these men hurting Tubbo was unthinkable to him.

"What do you want, you prick, besides stalking kids. Which is sick, by the way. You guys are sick." He bit out, ignoring Tubbo's hiss of warning that antagonizing them probably wasn't the best idea.

"You best shut up if you know what's good for you," the man, the asshole, Tommy resolved to refer to him as, cautioned, taking another step closer.

"Try me, bitch."

The man shrugged, a smile making its way back onto his face as he stared at something over Tommy's shoulder. "Suit yourselves."

There was a snap of a branch from behind them, and Tubbo cried out as he was ripped from Tommy's side.

"Tommy!"

Tommy whirled around. A fourth man had snuck up behind them, and Tommy cursed himself for not noticing sooner. He lunged towards Tubbo's captor.

The man, obviously not expecting his quick reaction, threw Tubbo to the side, barely able to bring his own weapon up to block Tommy's attack.

The two became locked in a dance of sorts. Tommy deflected an oncoming blow before spinning, sending his foot into the man's chest and knocking him to the side. He turned back towards where Tubbo was last, and his eyes widened.

In the brief moments he spent incapacitating the fourth man, the other swordsman had managed to grab Tubbo. His friend knelt on the ground with a hand wrapped tightly around his shoulders, with the other hand fisted tightly in his hair, jerking his head up. He had a knife to his throat.

Tears welled up in Tubbo's eyes.

"Let him go," Tommy warned. He was surrounded like a cornered animal, leader, and the one wielding the crossbow advancing much too close for his comfort. Not that he was even close to comfortable with this situation, anyway.

"Toss over your valuables and we'll consider it." The leader chuckled sharply. "Start with your sword."

Tommy hesitated. He knew he couldn't take then, not with it being a two on one, and especially with Tubbo being in the position he was, but he didn't want to give up his only chance, however slim it was.

"No, Tommy d-ah!" The dagger dug further into Tubbo's throat, blood beginning to trickle down from the wound. A warning.

"Now, boy, I ain't gonna ask you again."

Tommy gritted his teeth but did what they asked, throwing his sword on the ground and kicking it towards the leader. The leader whistled, leaning down to pick up the weapon.

"This is some fine craftsmanship. You got the royal crest embedded in er' too. Where'd you get your hands on this? You steal this shit?"

Scoffing, Tommy shook his head. First, these bastards assault him and Tubbo, then they accuse him of theft. Anger coursed through Tommy. "Hell no, bitch. It's mine!” Tommy fumed, defensiveness seeping into his tone. “I don't need to steal shit!"

The man raised his eyebrows, and a faint voice, that sounded suspiciously like Wilbur, echoed in his mind. You fucked up.

"This sword er', with the Antarctic Empire crest engraved into it, is yours?" The man said suspiciously, eyes boring holes into Tommy.

"Uhh," Tommy faltered, cursing himself for not thinking this through. What would Techno do in this situation? God, Techno wouldn't even allow himself to get into this situation. He would've never given up his weapon, to begin with. Tommy was screwed. "My father gave it to me."

"What, your father the king or something?" The man challenged. Tommy hesitated for a second too long, desperately trying to think of an excuse they would believe. "God's above, he is, ain't he?"

"No?" Tommy began, but it came out more like a question. The man let out a surprised whoop of glee.

"Alright men, change of plans. We’re taken this one with us!"

The other man lunged forward, grabbing Tommy's arms and wrenching them roughly behind his back before he could react. Tommy thrashed, trying to throw him off, but he was easily overpowered as the man he had knocked down earlier assisted in restraining him, wrapping his wrists tightly in leather cuffs.

"What should we do with this one, Schlatt?" The one holding Tubbo asked roughly.

The man, Schlatt, paused, glancing at Tubbo. "Not really in the mood to drag two kids through the forest today. Knock him out. If he makes it back to the empire, he can tell the king his son’s been kidnapped. If not, no skin off my back."

Tommy froze, panic lacing through him. They were just gonna leave Tubbo here! A part of him was grateful that he wasn't being taken with. The other part was terrified of his best friend being unconscious and defenseless in the forest.

Tommy's eyes met Tubbo's frantically. "Tubbo! No, stop!'' Tommy managed to get out before the handle of the dagger came down on the side of Tubbo's head. The man let Tubbo's body crumple to the ground.

"Tubbo!"

Tommy shook, kicking behind him in an attempt to free himself and get to Tubbo's side. A small stream of blood was visible on Tubbo's hairline, making Tommy's stomach twist violently.

A foot connected harshly with his back, and Tommy gasped as he fell to the ground harshly, the arms holding him aiding in holding him down. He winced as a knee dug into his spine, pinning him to the dirt. A hand seized clumps of his hair painfully, forcing his cheek into the cold soil.

The man, Schlatt, spoke something that Tommy didn't catch, too focused on recovering from the sudden change in position, his eyes remaining locked on the collapsed form of his friend.

Something heavy knocked into the back of his head, and the world around him began to blur and dim, before finally fading to black.