Tommy had no family.
It was perfectly fine by him. Family was messy. He’d seen enough of it to know. He knew about Wilbur’s feelings for Phil, and Fundy’s feelings for Wilbur, and Phil’s feelings for Fundy coming full circle.
Wilbur had once called Tommy his brother. Back then, it felt good. He was proud of it, proud to be the pseudo-brother of the great general-turned-president Wilbur. Now, not so much.
So he rid himself of the label. He wasn’t Wilbur’s brother, not after everything. Family was messy, and Tommy’s life was shitty enough without that.
Tommy had read the letter about fifteen times.
The words still hadn’t fully processed, the lines and curves refusing to turn into anything meaningful. All he knew was that it had to be a lie. A prank. Someone was fucking with him.
So he folded the letter back up and marched over to Snowchester.
“So have either of you ever heard of anyone known as Doctor…” he checked the letter. “Daniel TDM? What the fuck kind of name is that, even?”
Tubbo shrugged. “Doesn’t sound familiar, big man.”
Ranboo looked down at the letter in Tommy’s hand. “So you got a letter from a guy called ‘doctor tedium’ or something and you came to us because… why exactly?”
“Because I thought maybe it was one of you!” Tommy said, angrily shoving the letter into Ranboo’s hands.
He read it out loud. “‘Dear Mr. Thomas Innit, We are contacting you to inform you of your status as a clone-’ what?” Ranboo looked up at Tommy with confusion. Okay, so it definitely wasn’t them.
“Keep reading,” Tommy said, because that wasn’t even the worst part.
“Uh, ‘While our laboratory’s policy allows us to retain legal ownership of each of our clones, our scientists have decided to allow you to retain your freedom-’”
“What, so they’re treating you like property?” Tubbo asked, mildly outraged.
“Wh- no, obviously not, I’m not some fucking clone!” Tommy shouted, frustrated. Why were they taking this seriously? It was a prank. It had to be.
Ranboo frowned though. “Uh, I mean, it’s probably fake, right?” He took a deep breath and continued reading. “‘However, we feel obligated to inform you of your unique biology, beyond the obvious fact of being a clone. While most of our subjects were cloned from… birds? Your genetic material was sourced from a-’ wait…” Ranboo trailed off, and Tommy could tell he had read it.
“Keep going,” Tommy insisted.
“‘Your genetic material was sourced from a winged hybrid known as… known as the Angel of Death.’”
Tubbo and Ranboo stood in silence, looking at Tommy like he’d grown a second head. “Are they even allowed to disclose that?” Tubbo asked after several moments.
“It’s not real, Tubbo!” Tommy exclaimed again. “Whoever did this has to be someone who knows us, and I can only think of a select few people who would pull a prank like this.”
“Maybe it was Fundy?” Ranboo asked.
Tommy scowled. “Yeah, that fucking furry piece of shit is on my suspects list.”
Ranboo kept reading. “‘Since your status as a hybrid clone and enhanced intelligence and emotional capacity is unique among our subjects, we feel responsible in informing you that there is a high probability that you may begin to develop hybrid traits over the next several years, such as the potential growth of wings. We wish you the best-’” Ranboo didn’t read the rest. “Okay, so we’re agreeing that there’s no way this is real, right?”
Tubbo looked at Tommy with interest. “I don’t know… I mean, you do look a lot like Phil.”
“Wh- no I fucking don’t, what the fuck, Tubbo! I don’t look like that fucking bird, he’s old and shit!” Why would Tubbo even say that?
“I mean, you have the same color hair as him, or, you used to before the… y’know.” The white streaks. “And you both have blue eyes,” Tubbo said, and Tommy was pissed.
“I don’t look like him! His eyes are dark blue and mine are light blue!” Well, they used to be. They’d turned darker over the past… how long had it been? “And- and- we just- you’re insane, Tubbo. None of this is real.”
Ranboo was laughing. Why was he laughing? That bastard. “I mean, let’s not go all conspiracy theory on this, okay Tubbo?” Ranboo said, and Tubbo looked disappointed.
“But I like conspiracies.”
Tommy groaned. “Fuck both of you. You’re helping me interrogate everyone on this goddamn server until we find who did this.”
They did not find who did it.
Weeks passed, and Tommy forgot about the letter. It was a dumb prank, and looking back on it, he’d gotten unreasonably worked up about it. Quite dumb, really.
So why was he getting weird flashes of memories he wasn’t supposed to have?
An iron, roughly circular room in a building with no roof, and a pattern of gold on the floor. A man (a scientist?) in a white coat, handing him various items to… play with? All while making notes on a clipboard. Another man with goggles and blue hair who always greeted him with a smile, but he wasn’t always there.
He saw the room in his dreams, and it was sometimes there in flashes when he was awake, too. It felt… strange. Familiar. Foreign. Comforting. Terrifying.
When he woke up one day with two identical, stabbing pains below each shoulder blade, his first reaction was to consume gapples until the pain subsided, his standard reaction to pain since… you know.
Fifteen gapples in, and Tommy’s back was still hurting, though it had subsided into a dull throb.
He reached a hesitant hand around his torso to feel the area gingerly, and…
What the fuck.
There was a lump on his back, below his shoulder.
What the actual fuck.
He felt the other side and sure enough, there was an identical lump beneath that shoulder, too. It hurt when he pressed down on it.
Moving without thinking, he headed to Snowchester. Tubbo might claim to have medical experience, but Tommy doesn’t trust his friend in that department. Still, who else was he going to go to? Ponk? Ponk had wanted him dead, he recalled. Yeah, right. He wasn’t going to Ponk, so his options for doctors were fairly limited.
Snowchester it was, then.
It was the fourth day of Tommy lying in a spare bed in Tubbo and Ranboo’s still unfinished mansion. His back had hurt with increasing intensity every day, putting their mission to kill Dream on hold for an indeterminate amount of time. Tubbo had told him that it felt like there were bones growing out of his back, to which Tommy laughed. That was stupid. Why did he think Tubbo would know what was wrong?
Ranboo was the one to ultimately bring up the letter.
It was apparent that he’d been thinking it for a while, only mentioning it after it became clear that whatever was happening wasn’t going to stop.
“So, uh, this might sound dumb, but, uh,”
“Spit it out, Ranboob,” Tommy said, irritated. He’d been more snappy since becoming borderline bedridden from pain.
Ranboo coughed. “Uh, sorry. Yeah. Uh… do you guys remember that letter? The one that said…”
Tubbo’s eyes went wide. “Oh my god, you’re right! Tommy’s growing wings!”
What. “No, what? What the fuck? I’m not growing fucking wings, Tubbo!”
He was growing wings.
The skin broke the next day, and it was a bloody mess that freaked Tommy out. He had to lie on his stomach with his eyes closed as his friends bandaged up his back.
He refused to look at it or hear anything from Tubbo or Ranboo about it. They regularly checked on his back, making sure it was clean and looked like it was forming right, but eventually the duo admitted that they had no idea what they were doing.
“We could always seek out Phil?” Ranboo suggested. “If anyone would know about growing wings, it would be him-”
“NO!” Tommy shouted, sitting up immediately. “We are NOT telling Phil about it.”
Tubbo laughed. “What, you don’t want the guy you were literally cloned from to know about this?” then his face shifted into an expression of realization. “WAIT. Tommy, if you were born from Phil’s DNA or something, does that make Phil your dad?”
“What? No. Fuck that, he’s not my fucking father.”
Ranboo looked pensive. “Wouldn’t you be more like… twins or something? If your DNA is identical?”
“No. Stop it.”
Ranboo and Tubbo exchanged a look, a silent conversation. It was clear Tubbo wanted to keep pushing the topic, but Ranboo must have convinced him to let it go, because the blessed silence remained.
Tommy flopped back down on the bed.
This was fine.
He wasn’t going to think about the fact that he was, literally, a shittier version of the Angel of Death himself.
If he really was cloned from Phil, how had he ended up like this? Phil was… he was incredible. He was powerful, and intelligent, and a natural leader, and sure, he might be an old man, but he had respect, and he was a legendary warrior and hero, and…
Tommy had none of that.
Tommy was some kid who cared too much about music discs and built towers that everyone else hated and was afraid of being hurt and of green bastards in masks and who had caused the downfall of the country he loved. He was no warrior, no hero.
He was a scared kid with wings growing out of his back, and he didn’t want to think about any of it.
He pressed his face into the pillow and fought tears while Tubbo worked on rebandaging his back.
The first feathers were small, soft, and useless. They’d apparently been there for a while before they fell off, sticking to the sheets and ultimately ending up where Tommy had found them. He looked down at his palm, using his thumb to brush through them, examining them.
They were jet black, just like Phil’s.
Tommy didn’t know why he’d hoped they would be any different. He knew they wouldn’t be, so why bother? All it did was upset him more when he saw them.
“Your wings are gonna take a while before they’ve fully grown,” Tubbo said, “But even then, those feathers wouldn’t be good for flying, I don’t think.”
“Yeah, it’s like when a baby bird is born and it’s covered in down feathers,” Ranboo added.
Tommy sighed and let the feathers fall to the ground. He didn’t want them.
“Your feathers will probably change when your wings grow in more,” Tubbo was saying, but Tommy wasn’t listening.
“How do you deal with this?” He asked, and Ranboo and Tubbo looked at him, puzzled.
“What do you mean, big man?” Tubbo asked.
He groaned. “Being, y’know, a hybrid and shit.”
Tubbo shrugged. “It’s just normal for us, I guess.”
“Well, we’ve always known we were hybrids, so I guess it would be a lot weirder not knowing and then finding out one day?” Ranboo added.
“Like, when my horns grew in, I knew they were coming, so it didn’t surprise me like your wings did,” Tubbo said. “Although, I was really young when that happened. I barely remember it.”
Tommy frowned. Should he tell them about his dreams? Memories, whatever they were?
He almost did, but decided to keep it to himself.
It was strange. He barely remembered his life before meeting Tubbo. He’d never known where he’d come from, and he’d never cared. But now he finally had answers, and the answers weren’t what he wanted.
So he didn’t share them. In a weird way, they felt private, even to the point where he was unwilling to share them with his closest friends.
A month had passed since Tommy had woken up with a hurting back. His shoulders no longer hurt, but his back ached at times, the weight of the new limbs uncomfortable and awkward. His wings had grown large enough that Tommy could see them out of the corners of his eyes, and that was when he had them folded against his back. He refused to spread them, even if the instinct had started itching at him. An irrational part of his mind held onto the belief that if he ignored them, they would simply go away.
They were still small, pathetic in comparison to the glory of Phil’s wings before they’d been injured. But the feathers had changed, like Ranboo had said.
Tubbo had taken up the role of preening Tommy’s wings, since he’d been Tommy’s primary caretaker as his wings grew in. When preening became a necessity, it was simply added to the list of checking the bones to make sure they at least seemed like they were growing normally, and, before then, bandaging up the fresh wounds where the wings had broken skin. Tubbo was constantly bugging Tommy about learning to take care of his own wings, though.
It did get uncomfortable, but he didn’t want to touch his wings. He hated them.
It had been a month that he’d spent sitting in bed, only leaving on occasion to find food or get some fresh air, and Tommy was done with the bed rest. So he pulled on a shirt for the first time in months…
Or. He tried to.
Unsurprisingly, his wardrobe did not accommodate his new limbs, which was a problem. He’d assumed that if he kept his wings folded across his back, he’d be able to simply tuck them into his shirt, but it was apparent that it would be impossible.
Sighing with irritation, he pulled the shirt back over his head and looked down at it. It was his favorite shirt, too.
“Tubbo?” he called. “Do you still have that sewing kit I used during the revolution?”
His shirts were modified, with help from Tubbo and Ranboo that only lasted a few minutes. Tommy should have known better than to trust Tubbo to help; there was a reason why Tommy had done all of the uniform repair during the war. He’d hoped that Ranboo might have some luck with it, but he was proven wrong quickly.
It took a long time, but he was finally able to squeeze his way into a proper shirt. He examined his appearance, and if he ignored the black feathers just barely poking out from behind his shoulders, he looked almost like he used to.
Well, he had to ignore some other things, too, like his hair and his eyes and the new scars littering his skin…
Okay, maybe Tommy barely recognized himself, and maybe the wings weren’t helping.
And maybe Tubbo found him on the floor, kneeling in front of the mirror, crying silently through closed eyes, unaware of how much time had passed.
Too much was changing.
Tubbo wrapped an arm around him, careful to avoid his fragile wings, and helped him to his feet. Tommy leaned into the semi-embrace. They walked over to Tommy’s bed and Tubbo moved the pile of clothing and sewing material and fabric out of the way. Tubbo sat down and let Tommy slide in next to him, letting him cry against his shoulder. There were no words, just quiet reassurance.
They’d had a lot of moments like this. Not in a long time, but they knew how to comfort each other simply by their presence.
Maybe not everything had changed. Not yet.
Maybe Tubbo was married now, and had started to replace him. Maybe Tommy had changed in irreversible ways. Maybe the world would never go back to how it had been when Tommy had come to the SMP, hopeful and optimistic and young, but Tubbo was still Tubbo. And despite all the changes, Tubbo still knew what Tommy needed without having to be told.
Tommy fell asleep leaned up against his best friend. What he didn’t know was that once asleep, drifting in dreams of a half-remembered childhood, Tubbo gently laid him down and covered him with a blanket, extinguishing the torches in the room and leaving a glass of water on the table next to him.
Tommy hadn’t left Snowchester since his wings started growing.
Outside of Tubbo, Ranboo, and Michael (and okay, the kid had started growing on Tommy), the only other person who knew about Tommy’s wings was Foolish. He’d been sworn to secrecy by Ranboo and Tubbo, who had been conveniently dressed in their strongest armor and holding twin netherite axes. Jack Manifold had been conveniently kept away from the mansion, and according to Tubbo and Ranboo, he had no idea that Tommy was even in Snowchester.
Maybe Ranboo wasn’t that bad.
Tommy had finally started stretching out his wings when they’d become too uncomfortable. He still hated it, but it was a relief to stretch them out, to give them the movement they longed.
He’d also started preening himself.
Tubbo was grateful to be relieved of duty, although he still helped out with the harder to reach places when Tommy asked.
The trio had decided to move forward with their plans to take down Dream. Today, they’d be returning to the abandoned, half-built tower outside of the prison that they’d started to construct before Tommy’s wings started to grow.
Tommy was… nervous, to say the least. He didn’t really want people to know about his wings, and leaving Snowchester meant that he would be exposed to anyone wandering the Greater SMP.
But on the other hand, he was excited. Snowchester was… fine, and it was great getting to live with Tubbo again and, okay, Ranboo wasn’t the worst person to live with either, but he missed his own home.
He wondered if he’d find Connor moved in there again.
So when they stood in front of the tunnel, Tommy found himself struggling to stay still.
“Come ON, Tubbo,” he groaned as his best friend was wandering over to the tunnel like he had all the time in the world. He instinctively flapped his wings in irritation. The sensation was strange, but even after only a few days of allowing his wings to move in whichever way was natural, he had grown somewhat used to it.
He tucked his wings tight around his back when they were ready to leave, stepping into the tunnel with only slight hesitation. He’d been given soulspeed shoes, so he didn’t have to worry about taking too long to make it to the other side, but he hadn’t expected the tunnel to work so quickly. Before he could even process what had happened, he was stumbling out the other side, shaking his wings out.
Unfortunately, he splattered water all over Ranboo. He was wearing his armor, so he was protected, but the poor hybrid still looked uncomfortable to get sprayed like that. Tommy didn’t apologize, though, because really, it was Ranboo’s fault for standing there.
Tommy spread out his wings and was surprised to find the warm sunlight on his wings to be so pleasant. The dark color of his feathers soaked up the strong rays, which shone in full force here, rather than in Snowchester, where the sun was often hidden by a cloud. He sighed as the sun warmed his wings.
Maybe it wasn’t so bad.
He found himself regretting that thought almost immediately, though, as they ran into the two people they were hoping to avoid the most.
Techno and Phil.
Why were they even in the SMP? Didn’t they live over in the fucking tundra or something?
The two men hadn’t seen them yet, so Tommy wrapped his wings tight against his back again, and Tubbo and Ranboo stood in front of him, shielding him from Phil’s gaze (and Techno’s too).
Their already limited luck ran out, as Techno caught a glimpse of their group and turned to face them, tapping Phil’s shoulder and pointing over to them.
The kids braced themselves as the adults approached.
“Long time no see, Ranboo,” Techno said when he was in earshot.
Phil nodded. “Yeah, mate, we were worried about you. Ya kinda dropped off the face of the planet for a bit, huh?”
Ranboo laughed nervously. “Uh, yeah, I had some… things to take care of.”
Techno looked at Tubbo, then at Tommy, and back at Ranboo. “I see that.”
The atmosphere was uncomfortable. None of them knew how Techno was going to react, or what he was thinking. Ranboo had been friendly with Techno and Phil, but Techno hated Tubbo and Tommy, so how was he going to respond to Ranboo being with them? Not only that, but standing protectively in front of Tommy?
Phil spoke up. “Uh, Tommy? You okay, mate? I haven’t seen you in a while. Last I heard, you were-”
“He’s fine!” Tubbo cut Phil off before he could say the d word, and Tommy was grateful. Tubbo’s gaze hardened when he faced Phil and Techno, though. “He doesn’t particularly want to see either of you, though.”
Phil looked taken aback, and before he could respond, Techno snorted. “That works for me. I don’t want to see that traitor either.”
Ranboo shifted uncomfortably. “You know, Techno… Tommy’s really not that bad…”
Techno was about to retort, but now it was Phil’s turn to cut him off. “Okay! Let’s not fight, okay? I think we’re all just glad that Tommy’s okay, right?”
Techno snorted again. “I don’t really care.”
Tommy shifted. He didn’t want to be here. He really didn’t like the way Phil was looking at him.
“What happened to your hair, mate?” Phil asked, and fuck.
“Nothing happened,” Tommy snapped, and Tubbo and Ranboo stepped closer together, shielding Tommy further.
Phil stepped back. “Okay. I was just concerned.”
Blood was pounding with so much force that Tommy could hear it. He could feel it, pulsing through his veins. He wasn’t angry. He was absolutely furious. He took a step towards Phil, glaring at him through the window between Tubbo’s head and Ranboo’s arm.
“You were concerned , Phil?! You were fucking concerned?! Where the fuck was that concern when we were fighting for our lives? Where was that concern when you blew our homes to pieces? Where was that concern when you came here and promised to keep us safe, promised to not let what happened to Wilbur happen to me or Tubbo or Fundy, and then Dream came in and ruined our lives? Where were you then?! ”
Phil was staring, speechless, but not at Tommy. At least, not at his face. He was staring behind him, and it was at that moment that Tommy realized that his wings had refused to stay folded, instead stretching out to emphasize his words.
“Since when do you…?” Phil said quietly, amazed. Even Techno looked over with mild interest.
“Well, that’s new.”
Tommy drew his wings back around him and turned away. Fuck them. Fuck all of them. He was going back to his house.
Tubbo and Ranboo were calling after him. He didn’t hear what they said.
It didn’t take long for Tubbo to show up. Tommy had curled up in the corner of his house, which was dusty from abandonment. Apparently Connor had learned his lesson about taking Tommy’s house.
“Hey, we got rid of Phil and Techno,” Tubbo said, sitting next to where Tommy lay. “Phil had questions but we didn’t tell him anything.”
Tommy nodded slightly, not looking at Tubbo.
Tubbo sighed. “I know you don’t like change, big man. This is all super weird, I mean it’s cool, but it’s also weird, and I know it’s probably waaaaay overwhelming. And I don’t know if Ranboo and I have done enough to help.”
Tommy swallowed back some tears. “I just wish I wasn’t being treated like anything changed. Because I know it’s different, I know it won’t go back, but why does everyone have to remind me of it all the time?”
There was silence, for a while.
Tubbo shifted. “Hey, do you want to learn how to fly?”
It caught Tommy’s attention, at least enough that he sat up. “What?”
“I mean, you have wings, and Phil used to be able to fly, so I’d assume that you could, too, right?”
Tommy hadn’t really thought about it. Well, he had, but not as a real concept, more of like an “oh, wings, like those things birds use to fly and shit”.
He thought about how much fun it was to use a trident, to feel the wind wrap around his body as he glided through the air. Almost like he was meant to fly his whole life.
And, apparently, he had been.
“Do you think my wings are big enough yet?” Tommy asked, genuinely intrigued now.
Tubbo shrugged. “Only one way to find out!”
That one way was, apparently, pushing Tommy off of a cliff.
“Are you sure we should do this?” Ranboo asked, and Tubbo grinned.
“Of course it is! What’s the worst that could happen?”
“He could fall and die?” Ranboo said, and there was genuine worry in his voice that made Tommy laugh.
“Don’t worry, Big R,” he reassured. “I’m great at MLGs even if I do fall, which I won’t, because I’m the best.”
The wind blew through his feathers and it felt amazing. Okay, he changed his mind again. His wings were great. And they’d be even better if they actually let him fly.
He spread them out as far as they could go and stood in his position at the edge of the cliff. Water bucket where he could easily access it, he braced himself.
He expected at least a slight amount of warning from Tubbo but no, his friend pushed him off without even a word. He managed to hear Ranboo’s fearful yelp as he flapped his wings, willing himself to ascend in the sky.
He didn’t ascend.
The closer the ground got, the faster and more frantically he flapped. He took out his water bucket, bracing himself, but…
The ground wasn’t approaching as quickly as it should. Tommy wasn’t moving up, but he was moving forward slightly, almost like he was gliding.
It felt incredible.
His feet touched the ground and he stumbled into a half-roll, half-collapse, water bucket left unused. His head hurt a little bit from the awkward landing, but he recovered quickly and got to his feet. He looked up at Tubbo, who was cheering, and Ranboo, who looked like he was about to pass out from relief.
Yeah, his wings were great.
“You need to talk to Phil.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Come on, Tommy.”
“I don’t owe him shit.”
“I agree, but he’s just going to keep bothering you until you do.”
“Then make him go away!”
He was arguing with Tubbo again. Since Phil had discovered his wings, the man had mysteriously found himself in the same general area as Tommy over and over, despite having any real purpose for being in that area of the SMP. Other than to try to intercept Tommy, of course.
It was interfering with their plans to break into the prison, and Tommy was sick of it.
Tubbo sighed. “Look, like it or not, you have a connection with Phil.”
“I don’t like it.”
“So why are we still talking about this?”
Tubbo stared at him for a long moment, then bowed his head, defeated. “Alright. I don’t like Phil much, either, but Ranboo trusts him, and I mean, he is the Angel of Death and all. I won’t force you to do anything, but at least consider talking to him? And if you don’t want to actually say anything, you could always give him this.”
Tubbo held out the letter Tommy had received so long ago. It felt like a distant memory. He’d remembered more from his childhood, about a Dr. Trayaurus and about a plethora of weird, sometimes dangerous science experiments done at the lab. Tommy had been happy, but that had been all he’d known. And one day, he’d escaped. And Dan (he thinks that was the blue man’s name) and Dr. Trayaurus hadn’t found him.
The letter was proof that those memories were real. It was also proof of Tommy’s genetic link to Phil.
He hated the letter. He never wanted to let the letter go.
To shut Tubbo up, he stuffed it in his pocket. “I’ll think about it. There, will you leave me alone about it now?”
“You’re not preening well enough.”
Tommy jumped about five meters in the air. “Holy shit, Phil, what the fuck?! Why did you sneak up on me?”
The man shrugged. “Only way to get you to talk to me. Seriously, mate, those wings need some help.”
Tommy scowled, eyeing Phil’s own wings. His might be damaged, but the feathers shone far more than Tommy’s, and there were none sticking out at odd angles. It was clear that Phil spent a lot of time taking care of his wings.
“I could teach you how to take care of them, if you want?” Phil offered.
“I don’t want help. I don’t want your help,” Tommy angrily declared, and turned away.
Phil caught his hand.
“Tommy, look. I know you’re mad at me,” Phil began to say, but Tommy refused to look at him.
“Let me go Phil,” he said, pulling his hand out of Phil’s grip. Or, trying to. The Angel of Death simply held on tighter.
“Just… please listen to me for five minutes, and then I’ll leave you alone? You’ll never have to talk to me again, if you want.”
That was tempting. Cursing, Tommy turned around to face Phil. His identical twin, in every way but age.
Not that Phil knew that.
“Okay,” Phil said, inhaling deeply. “Tommy, I know I hurt you. I think it’s fair to say that you and your friends have hurt me and mine, and that the conflict has gone both ways, but I’d rather leave that behind. There are things I regret, and I’m sure there are things you do, too.”
Tommy wanted to get pissed.
He wanted to tell Phil that he didn’t know what he was talking about. He wanted to insist that the man had no right to act like he knew him.
But he couldn’t. Because Phil was right.
“I don’t know why you’ve suddenly grown wings, or why you tried to keep it a secret, but I’m sure it scared you, and I’m sure it was hard. I know my wings hurt when they first started growing, and I had help from other avian hybrids that I’m sure you lacked.” Phil’s face was kind, gentle, and Tommy hated it, because he hated Phil. He hated the man who was his kin, his family, his reason for existing at all. He hated the man who killed Wilbur, his own son, the man who had once been like a brother to Tommy (and wasn’t that weird? Biologically, Tommy was more or less Wilbur’s uncle. Not that he wanted to think about that).
“I had Tubbo and Ranboo,” Tommy said.
“I’m glad you did.” Phil seemed sincere. “But while they’re good for moral support, neither of them have wings.”
“I don’t want your fucking pity.”
“It’s not pity,” Phil insisted. “Tommy… let’s just say I see a lot of myself in you.”
There was no way Phil knew already, right? It wasn’t possible. Tommy hadn’t shown him the letter.
Apparently his reaction to Phil’s statement was visible on his face, because Phil asked, “Are you alright, mate?”
Fuck, he was shaking. “Bit cold, innit?” It wasn’t cold out. There wasn’t even much of a breeze.
Phil gave him a weird look but didn’t press. “Alright. Well, if you don’t want my help, I won’t force it on you.”
Phil stood awkwardly across from Tommy, They had reached the end of the tense exchange, but neither had left. Tommy half wanted to turn and run away, using his wings (which had been growing stronger) to propel him forward faster than Phil would be able to run, escaping without having to acknowledge anything had ever happened.
The folded letter in his pocket crinkled as he shifted his weight, reminding him of its presence.
He didn’t want to tell Phil, but he knew that if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it. It would plague him forever, haunt him forever. He hated it. He hated everything about this.
He groaned. He hated when Tubbo was right.
“Phil,” he said as the man was turning away. He took a deep breath, preparing himself.
“Did you… have you ever, uh, been in any kind of experiment?”
Phil looked confused. “What do you mean?”
“Like…” Inhale, exhale. “Did you ever give your… dumb bird DNA to some random doctor named Dan?”
The confusion faded slowly off of Phil’s face. There wasn’t immediate recognition, but it did hit, and suddenly Phil wore an expression of apprehension. “I… might have, how did you know that?”
Tommy took the letter out of his pocket and shoved it in Phil’s direction. With a hesitant, gentle hand, Phil took the paper and unfolded it, eyes scanning the page.
“I… completely forgot about this,” Phil said when he reached the end.
“So you knew?” Tommy said, demanding answers.
Phil hesitated. “Yes and no. I knew they wanted my DNA, but I didn’t know why. I thought there was no harm in letting them take some. They said they were studying birds, and they wanted to know more about the differences between birds, humans, and avian hybrids.”
Tommy let out a small, humourless laugh. “And you believed them?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
Tommy and Phil stared at each other, Tommy’s eyes full of fire and Phil’s full of pity. Phil reached out his hand. “Tommy, if I had known what they’d used it for, I would have come for you-”
Tommy shoved him away. “I don’t want your pity, Phil! I don’t want anything to do with you, okay? Maybe I was fucking created in a test tube from your DNA, but that is the extent of our connection, got it?”
Phil was stunned. His mouth hung open, but he made no sounds. He looked almost frozen in place.
“Hell, it’s your fault I even exist in the first place! Something I didn’t ask for, by the way,” Tommy shouted at him. “So stop bothering me about my fucking wings! I don’t need, I don’t want your help! I don’t want anything to do with you!”
Phil took an involuntary step backwards, which was enough to startle him out of his frozen state. “Tommy, I-”
Phil sighed, face full of regret. He hesitated, like he was unsure, and turned away.
Tommy felt tension leave his body as Phil walked away. He watched the robed man shrink as he left until he was nothing more than a dot on the horizon, and then nothing.
“Are you ready?” Tubbo said, and Tommy nodded. He took a running start and leaped off of the roof of the mansion.
It was a particularly windy day. Windy enough that the kids had discussed the possibility of it being too dangerous to try to fly, but Tommy was stubborn. He wanted to fly today, so he was going to.
Ever since Phil had told him that he hadn’t been preening correctly, Tommy had spent more time on his wings, trying to ensure that he was doing it right. His wings kept growing, too, and every time he tried to fly, he got closer.
He was determined to actually do it, some day. And that day was going to be today, if he had any say in it.
He was beginning to love the rush of the pull of gravity when he first jumped off of a cliff or roof, the way the ground came rushing towards him before he spread his wings and glided to the ground. He wasn’t scared of falling, wasn’t scared of heights.
The pillar from so long ago was barely a memory. The open air was his new best friend.
The strong winds caught his wings and boosted him as he flapped, propelling him upwards as well as forward. He heard distant cheers from Tubbo and Ranboo, and was that Foolish too? And from their excitement he knew it was working. He wasn’t hurtling towards the ground, or gently gliding towards it. He wasn’t even maintaining a somewhat consistent distance above it, either. He had upward momentum.
He flapped his wings harder, gaining more altitude, and looked down to see the shores of Snowchester beneath him. He let out a cry of glee. He was flying, genuinely flying!
He leaned to the side, trying to turn so he could see his friends, when a strong gust of wind caught him and knocked him off balance.
The ground was rapidly approaching. Tommy flapped his wings and twisted in the air, trying to right himself, barely registering the screams from below him. He hit water, and his body was rolling roughly across the snowy grass, wings curled protectively around him.
Disoriented, he felt two pairs of hands on his arms, helping him up. Tubbo and Ranboo were looking down at him with matching expressions of concern, and Foolish appeared a moment later, looking just as fearful.
“Tommy, oh my gods, are you okay?” Tubbo asked.
He laughed so hard.
It started as a small giggle and burst into a fit of gleeful noises that he could only half control. “That was so fucking cool, holy shit! Tubbo, did you see me?!”
Tubbo let out a relieved laugh, and whacked Tommy’s arm lightly. “Don’t scare me like that, you piece of shit! I thought you got hurt!”
Tommy smiled. “Yeah, I’m lucky for whoever placed that water.”
Foolish raised his hand. “That was me. I’m glad I managed to in time.”
Tommy nodded to him. “Thanks, pal. Big F.”
Foolish’s eyebrows raised and Tubbo snorted.
Tommy was helped to his feet, and he shook the water and snow out of his wings. His feathers were all out of place and they felt uncomfortable. He was getting cold from his soaked clothing. The sun was setting and the wind was nearly knocking everyone over.
It was one of the best days of Tommy’s life.
Since the prison, Tommy had barely felt alive. He’d felt disconnected from everything, like his soul knew that it wasn’t meant to be in the living realm anymore. He didn’t want to die, because he knew what waited in death, but he genuinely felt that he had nothing to live for.
Flying changed all of that.
Tommy felt more alive than he had the day L’manburg won its independence. It was like a part of his life had been missing up until that point.
The group headed into the mansion, where they were met by an excited Michael, who had been watching from his window. He was scooped up by Tubbo and brought back to his bedroom; it was getting late for the kid.
Ranboo turned to Tommy. “So let’s not try flying again when it’s so windy, right?”
Tommy rolled his eyes. “You worry too much, Ranboob.”
Ranboo smiled. “My worrying is the only reason why you and Tubbo are still in one piece.”
Tommy gasped, mocking insultedness. “Well, excuse YOU, Mr. Beloved, Tubbo and I made it just fine before your dumb ass dropped out of the sky.”
He’d grown quite close to Ranboo because of the whole wing thing. It was nice.
Life was nice.
In fact, a part of him would argue that it was better than it had been before the wars started.
No, it wasn’t perfect. He was still sensitive to pain, and he still had nightmares, even if they were interspersed with dreams of his childhood, now. Dream was still alive, and that threat wasn’t gone. There was something going on with the fucking egg, and Ranboo had some secret that he insisted was fine but that worried Tubbo and, therefore, worried Tommy.
Tommy was happy, again. He felt safe, at least most of the time. He had friends, a family , really, because that’s what Tubbo and Ranboo and even their kid treated him like. Hell, even Foolish could be included at this point.
Tommy had been so scared of that word, that concept. He was scared of it before finding out about his connection to Phil, and he was even more scared after his discovery.
But they didn’t need to be his family, he realized.
Yet… maybe the connection wasn’t totally bad.
Fundy showed up after being missing for a while, and Tommy greeted him by referring to him solely by “great-nephew” to which Fundy reacted with confusion.
Tommy refused to elaborate.
It did lead to more time spent with Fundy, though, which was nice. Tommy had always liked Fundy, more or less. They were both former revolutionaries, former L’manburg officials, and they’d spent a lot of time together in the past.
And when Tommy ran into Phil again, he’d treated the man civilly.
“Your wings look like they’re being taken care of better,” Phil commented.
“Thanks,” Tommy said, because he was supposed to. “Uh…”
“Can you tell me how to start flying without jumping off of something?”
Phil’s face had lit up when Tommy had asked, even if Tommy could tell that Phil tried to hide his happiness. “Of course, mate. Do you want to try right now?”
Tommy didn’t fix things with Techno. That would take time. A lot of time. And a part of him doubted that it was possible at all.
But he started mending things with Phil. Slowly. It wasn’t perfect, at all. And being with Phil either made Tommy angry, because he was reminded of how Phil had hurt him, or made Tommy upset, because Phil was infinitely better than Tommy could ever hope to be. What was he, if not a shittier version of Phil?
The angel must have realized how Tommy felt at some point, though, or maybe it was just a coincidence, because one day he paused the flying lessons to speak to Tommy.
“You know you’re not just a copy of me, right?”
“Uh, yeah. That’s pretty clear. I’m nothing like you,” Tommy had answered, trying to keep the bitterness out of his tone.
“No, I mean,” Phil said, “Nobody is expecting you to be like me. In fact, you probably shouldn’t be like me.”
Tommy doubted that.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, mistakes that you’d be better off not making,” Phil continued. “Plus, you’ve already developed in ways completely different from me. Your personality is completely different, for example.”
“Yeah, and all it does is annoy people,” Tommy muttered.
Phil shook his head. “No, Tommy. You have a natural ability to make people like you.”
Tommy didn’t believe that. If that was true, why did he have so many enemies.
“There’s already one angel of death,” Phil said. “The world doesn’t need another. The world needs Tommyinnit, and Tommyinnit is already more than enough.”
Tommy turned away. Phil… meant well, at least Tommy thought he did. But his words weren’t helping in the ways he was hoping.
There were nights when Tommy woke up from nightmares. The familiar dirt walls of his house, a constant of his life, were always there for him, and he found it far easier to fall back asleep after he’d grown his wings. Maybe it was because they were warm and soft, a built in blanket of sorts, but Tommy felt like it was more likely due to everything that had come with them.
Flight, bonding with Tubbo and Ranboo, freedom.
The memories of the nightmares fade quickly, Tommy shifting in his bed and closing his eyes, entering sleep once more.
Life was okay, for now.