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No Cause for Concern

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"You are such an idiot."

 

Tommy rolled his eyes at his roommate's insults, all too tempted to simply hang up the call. Ranboo was generally great to live with; he was organised, a hard worker, calm where Tommy was chaotic and capable of whipping up a mean pasta dish. All that said, however, he was a worrywart. Really, Tommy didn't understand how he saw anything wrong with his plan.

 

"Am not," he responded lazily, gazing up at the skyscraper in front of him. Sunlight glared off the glass; it could have been glowing. "You said I needed a job, so I'm getting one."

 

Ranboo's tired sigh was scratchy over the phone. "And of all the places, you thought the Watchtower was the best to go with?"

 

The Watchtower was the shining heart of the city of L'Manberg, and the building that Tommy was currently standing outside of admiring. It was the base of operations for the many heroes of the city, housing legends from Dream to Philza, the Angel of Death himself. It was also currently hiring.

 

"Um, yeah?" he shot back. "Ranboob, I could be working with the Blade — or even Philza Minecraft! Why wouldn't I apply?!"

 

"Because you could also end up working with Ghostbur — oh, yeah, forgot about the third member of SBI, did you? The one that arrests vigilantes?" Ranboo didn't sound impressed. In Tommy's defense, was he ever?

 

Tommy scoffed. "Yeah, well, he just wishes he were as cool as me."

 

"Tommy—"

 

"And besides, Ghostbur hasn't caught a vigilante in weeks!" That was... sort of a lie. Quackity had narrowly escaped capture from both Ghostbur and fellow hero Fundy, like, three days ago. But he had escaped, as he was able to recount the tale to Tommy himself. "It'll all be fine, big man, no worries."

 

"You're putting a lot on the line, Tommy," Ranboo said. "Please just be careful."

 

"Always am, Ranboob," Tommy joked back, but he knew his roommate was being serious. The two weeks Tommy had already gone unemployed had hurt them in more ways than one. In truth, Tommy wouldn't have applied at the Watchtower if he could have helped it; but as things were, Ranboo was struggling to pay the rent on his own, even considering the cutbacks they'd made on food. If Tommy got arrested, neither of them would have a home.

 

"Call me as soon as you get out, alright?"

 

"Will do."

 

Ranboo hesitated. "And... good luck. I know I can't stop you."

 

Tommy grinned. "Couldn't if you tried, big man. I'll call you back soon."

 

The teenagers made their hasty goodbyes before hanging up, tension lingering in the air. Tommy glanced at the time warily; he only had a few minutes before his interview.

 

Primes, things had been so much simpler two weeks ago.

 

Sure, their standard of living had probably never been ideal, but they'd always gotten by okay. It had been Tommy and Ranboo against the world for a few years now; they'd escaped the foster system together, rented their own apartment as soon as they were legally able. They both worked full-time during the summer months, took turns sharing the mattress on the floor, and even saved up enough to buy a little TV after a while. And maybe to most, that wasn't much, but it was the result of their hard work, and they were proud of it. It was home.

 

Of course, nothing in the mad city that was L'Manberg ever stayed the same for too long.

 

One day, you're working happily away at Bad's Muffins & More café; the next, you rock up to work only to find the building completely destroyed and a full police-and-hero investigation launched to find the culprit and also your missing boss.

 

Hence, after nearly a year with a stable job and friendly coworkers, Tommy found himself where he was today. It wasn't his fault, really.

 

"Likely an enhanced individual," the police report had eventually concluded. "The damage appears to be power-caused. What kind, we're not yet sure." Enhanced individuals were on the rise like never before, and with them came a plethora of problems. Wannabe supervillains, wannabe heroes who were bad at their job, the whole shebang. Vigilantes were, admittedly, one of them; it was far too easy for troubled young people to fall under the influence of the wrong individuals, and any power could be used to do real damage when twisted the right way.

 

All this was the reason for the power registry, and the total ban on power use with the exception of actual heroes. It was a system bound to self-implode eventually, Tommy mused. He and Ranboo were prime examples; two enhanced individuals who simply hadn't registered. They weren't allowed to use their powers anyway, so it wasn't like anyone was going to find out.

 

Well, until Tommy had, upon seeing the wreckage of his favourite workplace, decided to become a vigilante.

 

It wasn't his most well-thought-out decision, but thinking had never been his forte. "I'm going to become a vigilante," he had declared upon returning to the apartment that morning, where a sleepy Ranboo had nearly fallen out of their one chair in alarm. There was no talking him out of it once he had his mind set on the concept, and especially after his first patrol, there was no going back.

 

Because using his powers was thrilling.

 

It was a freedom he had never considered, but when he, for the first time in years, let the power flow through his veins and rush out into existence, he'd never felt better.

 

Tommy had known he was powerful; memories of playing around with his enhancement when he was a child, though biased by nostalgia, had remained for the most part accurate. Embracing his magic again at sixteen, however, was a completely different experience. His powers had only grown with him; he was stronger, and he hadn't even trained them yet.

 

Thank Primes for that strength, too, because stopping crime was a lot more difficult than it looked in the shows on TV. He would most certainly be dead if not for his magic, and as it was, he still took a beating regularly.

 

His first night on the job, dressed in a red hoodie and sweatpants, with a roughly-made face mask that covered his whole head, he'd returned home battered and bruised. Ranboo had freaked.

 

But he was getting better! Each time he went out, he pushed his powers a little more, tested their confines. He had stopped at least a dozen muggings by now, and stopped a few creepy men from dragging unsuspecting victims into alleyways, cars or the like. Unfortunately, it felt like as he got better, the criminals did too. Even today, he was still nursing a bruised arm, hidden under his long sleeves. 

 

"Hello," he greeted the young receptionist on the ground floor with a charming smile. Fingers crossed, it hid his nerves well. He couldn't afford to fuck this up. "Um, I'm here for the interview for the assistant position?"

 

Hannah, as her name tag gave away, glanced up at him curiously from over her monitor. He supposed he was a sight to behold, really, a little rough around the edges from living in a tiny apartment, if not shockingly handsome.

 

"Tommy... er, Innit?" she inquired, after typing rapidly into her computer.

 

"That's me," he said, a weak laugh escaping in an attempt to soothe himself.

 

Hannah nodded. "Floor eighty-seven, second door on the left. Philza will be waiting up there for you."

 

Tommy's heart sank to his feet. Philza?! As in the Angel of Death, Philza Minecraft?! For an interview?! For once too shocked for words, he nodded stiffly and forced himself to move towards the elevator.

 

Sure, he had joked about getting to work with the top heroes, but he wasn't prepared in any way to actually, seriously meet any of them. What exactly had he applied for? Maybe he should have read the advertisement a bit more carefully.

 

The elevator ride to floor eighty-seven was horribly, dreadfully long. Tommy rocked back and forth on his feet as he watched the city sink beneath him out the window, trying to expel some of his nervous energy.

 

The doors were opening a little sooner than he expected, and he jumped in surprise - a quick glance to the buttons told him he was correct, that he had stopped at floor sixty-three. He nearly held his breath as the soft clip-clop of hooves on carpet announced the entrance of the elevator's newest occupant. Tommy watched her through his peripherals, staring resolutely ahead and focusing very hard on not dropping his jaw open in awe. That was Captain Puffy herself. Holy shit.

 

"Heya kiddo," the sheep hybrid greeted him casually, inputting her own destination.

 

Tommy felt frozen to the spot. He had to kick himself to respond. This was amazing. And terrifying. "Ayup."

 

The captain shot him a friendly smile, examining him curiously. "Any reason someone as young as yourself is headed to SBI's floor?"

 

Tommy nearly erupted. He was going to SBI's floor?!

 

"I — er," he stammered, words lost on him. Oh fuck, he really, really regretted not reading the job description all the way through. Fucking small print always got him. "Interview," he managed to spit out, and then took a comically large inhale, forcing his muscles to relax. "I'm — um — interviewing for an assistant position, with — er — Mr. Philza."

 

Captain Puffy snorted a laugh, and immediately raised a hand to cover her mouth, blushing red. "Sorry, that was rude of me," she admitted with a sheepish grin. "I've just never heard anyone call Phil Mr. Philza before." She chuckled again at the thought. "He's gonna flip when I tell him that one, oh Primes. As if Wilbur and Techno don't make him feel old enough."

 

Wilbur and Techno?! Oh, Tommy could cry. He was actually in the Watchtower, he realised numbly. He was actually interacting with actual heroes. Who were all just friends from work, really. Of course she called them Phil and Wilbur and Techno.

 

"Don't you fuckin' dare." The words had escaped his lips before he could stop them, and he felt his ears turn red. His mouth continued to run in a weak attempt to cover up his embarrassment. "That would be so horrible for me, oh Primes. And I really need this job—"

 

"Relax, kid, I'm just pulling your leg," Puffy said with a mischievous grin that suggested otherwise. "Phil wouldn't even be mad, really."

 

And then the elevator was sliding to a stop, at floor eighty-seven. Tommy's rocking on his heels picked up in speed.

 

"Good luck with your interview," Puffy said after a beat, eyes still trained on him. "The, um, doors are gonna close—"

 

"Yep," Tommy agreed, and rushed forward in a burst of courage. On a split second thought, he turned around and awkwardly saluted the hero. "Nice meeting you, Ms— um, Cap. Captain."

 

Puffy grinned. "You too, kiddo."

 

And then the doors were closing again, and he was alone. Tommy let out a long, stressed exhale, turning again to acknowledge his inevitable doom. SBI's floor, huh? It wasn't bad. Well, it was actually breathtaking, but he wasn't about to admit that. It was mostly open plan, and well lit by floor to ceiling windows; around the corner, he could see the edge of a smooth marble kitchen, and a grey sofa that looked far comfier than anything Tommy had ever had the pleasure of sleeping on.

 

"Hullo?"

 

Tommy's eyes moved painfully slow to his left; the first door had just opened (so smoothly that it didn't even creak) and a large, imposing figure was standing in its frame, staring down at him.

 

His heart rate was through the roof. There, in all his glory — and, um, sweatpants? — was the Blade.

 

"Holy shit," he breathed, and really couldn't stop his jaw from dropping this time. Fortunately, he was quick to catch himself. "Sorry." He wasn't.

 

Tommy liked to consider himself tall for his age; really, he was, but everyone he ever met just seemed to have height to the freakish extent on their side. Ranboo was part enderbeing, giving him at least an extra foot on the boy (they hadn't ever measured him. Tommy wasn't sure there were measuring tapes long enough) and yet again, he was facing up to a hybrid that made him feel another three feet shorter.

 

Technoblade wasn't just tall, but broad, too, well-built from the regular fights he engaged in and undoubtedly the intense hero's training he underwent on the daily. If his build wasn't enough to intimidate, his tusks certainly were; a prominent feature that betrayed his hybrid background where they protruded from the corners of his mouth. Altogether, he was a really scary guy.

 

But there in the doorway, his pink hair pulled into a low ponytail, donning a loose t-shirt and sweatpants, and glasses of all things resting on his nose, he looked... oddly domestic.

 

"Oh," Technoblade spoke again, breaking the silence of their staring contest, "you must be here for the interview."

 

"Yup," Tommy replied quickly, before his tongue could freeze up again. "That I am. I am here for the interview. The interview with Philza Minecraft. Yes."

 

"Alright, kid," Technoblade cut him off, and if there was the faintest glimpse of amusement in his eyes, it was gone in an instant. "Next door right there. Break a leg."

 

Tommy squinted at him, trying to decipher whether the Blade actually wanted him to break a leg or not. With a man of his reputation, it was hard to tell whether or not he would enjoy the casual violence.

 

"I think I would probably not get the job if I broke someone's leg," he deadpanned. "But if you insist. Who should I go for?"

 

The corners of Technoblade's lips twitched. "Wilbur."

 

Tommy nodded seriously. "On it."

 

Technoblade gave the boy a curt nod, and then headed across the floor without another word. Tommy watched him go, counting how long it took for feeling to return to his limbs.

 

Well, he really couldn't delay the inevitable any longer. He was almost definitely already late, which was an absolutely brilliant start, especially after cursing in front of both Captain Puffy and the Blade. He opened the aforementioned door with a sense of dread building in the pit of stomach; Primes, these doors were so quiet, it was weird.

 

At the end of the room, Philza himself was seated behind a desk, huge black wings all the more impressive against the bright window. He hadn't noticed Tommy enter the room, too busy engaged in a conversation with — oh. With Ghostbur.

 

"I really don't understand why we need an assistant," Ghostbur was saying, clearly irritated with the prospect. He, too, was in casual wear, though not as much so as the Blade, wearing a yellow sweater and ripped jeans. "We've been doing fine without one. What's changed?"

 

"Wil," Philza replied tiredly, rubbing at the bridge of his nose, "when was the last time you filed up a mission report after patrol?"

 

"I—"

 

"Or signed the roll for shared duties? Or even updated your calendar? You're not the one who has to hear from Dream every time you miss a meeting."

 

"Oh, whatever, that green prick can stuff it anyway—" Ghostbur cut himself off mid-rant, eyes focused on Tommy in the doorway.

 

Tommy swallowed hard. "Hello, gentlemen — um, Mr. Ph— er, hi, Phil."

 

Two of the highest rank heroes in the country were staring blankly at him. He couldn't feel his own pulse.

 

And then Ghostbur snorted.

 

"Hi, Phil," he mocked, snickering, any anger from earlier drained immediately as he snuck a delighted glance at Philza.

 

Tommy grit his teeth. "Oh, shut up, man, Captain already gave out to me for saying Mr. Philza—"

 

"Mr. Philza!" Ghostbur parroted, laughter shaking his shoulders as he struggled to stand. "Oh Primes, Phil, I'm never letting this go, not ever."

 

Philza looked very tired.

 

"Mr. Philza," Ghostbur was still chuckling as he passed Tommy to leave the room.

 

"Dickhead," Tommy retorted, bristling at the contact as the other's arm brushed against his as he made his exit.

 

The door clicked closed behind him, and Tommy remembered vaguely that he was supposed to be nervous because of how badly he needed this job.

 

"Please don't mind Wilbur," Philza said with a light smile. "He can be a bit much."

 

Tommy froze. Was this a trap? He blinked, struggling to form words again. "I — um, no — he's okay, really—"

 

Philza lowered him an amused gaze. Tommy relented.

 

"Yeah, alright, to be honest, he could've been a bit nicer," he grumbled, and then stepped forward as Philza's smile widened.

 

"Take a seat," the older man offered, gesturing to the chair. Tommy settled into it and nearly jumped when he sank into the soft leather; it was surprisingly soft. Soft wrinkles creased at the corners of Philza's eyes. "Tommy, right?" he asked.

 

"Yup," Tommy replied, still a little shocked by the chair. He tapped his fingers against the armrests, a small distraction from his nerves as he tried to recall the little information he'd picked up from the job advertisement. 

 

Philza leaned back in his chair, clasping his hands together as he examined the boy with an air of carefully restrained curiosity. His wings folded behind him, allowing a little more light into the room. Tommy found himself admiring how neatly each of his feathers were arranged, how smoothly they flowed with each movement of his wings.

 

"Tell me about yourself," Philza asked politely, and Tommy tried not to grind his teeth. Vague questions were the worst kind.

 

"Well, I'm eighteen," he began hesitantly, reciting what he was pretty sure was on his resume. There was a miniscule shift in Philza's expression so controlled he couldn't read whether it was a positive or a negative. "Up until two weeks ago, I'd spent nearly a year working at Bad's café—"

 

"Muffins and More?" Philza cut in, interest piqued. "Sorry."

 

"It's alright," Tommy said, easing somewhat into the conversation. "Yeah, that's the one. I'm sure you saw the news."

 

Philza nodded. "I'm sorry to hear about it."

 

Tommy's heart gave a light tug at the thought of his old boss, who was still out there missing somewhere. Or dead, his mind supplied helpfully. He waved away the emotion as quickly as it came.

 

"It's fine," he assured the man (though it wasn't, really. Not when he still had nightmares about what had happened to Bad, unable to shrug off the sense of dread). "I worked the register mainly, so I'd consider myself fairly handy with handling money and that. And my communication skills are top notch." The smile came a little more naturally this time. "Well, when I'm not nervous."

 

Philza returned his grin, and his chest swelled with sudden confidence. He was doing alright, wasn't he?

 

"Um, I live with my roommate in the fourteenth district," he continued. "Usually we both work full-time, so we don't have much time for hobbies and that. In the last two weeks though, the apartment's never been so clean. Very organisational, I am." If Philza saw through his white lie, he didn't show it. It wasn't entirely untrue, to be fair; they had so little belongings that the apartment couldn't be cluttered if they tried.

 

"Always good to hear," Philza agreed, pulling a clipboard into his lap to scribble a few things down. "You're a young man, you have any aspirations? What you want to do for a living?"

 

Tommy paused, swallowing down the small spike of panic. He hadn't prepared for this one; generally, his interactions with employers had never brought up long-term goals beyond the company, as this question implied. He forced his smile to return.

 

"Well, when I was a kid, I always wanted to be a hero," he said before he could filter his words, scrambling for an answer to fill the silence. He could already hear Ranboo cursing him in his head; yeah, maybe this wasn't the smartest thing he'd ever said in his life. His heart pulsed against his ribcage. "Really admirable stuff you lot do, y'know?" 

 

"Oh, are you enhanced—?"

 

"No," Tommy said, all too quickly, but Philza didn't seem put off. He managed an awkward chuckle. "Unfortunately. Just a human. It would be very poggers, though, I think, to have powers and that."

 

Philza let out a chuckle of his own, and Tommy reminded himself to breathe. "Yes, I suppose it is quite... poggers," he agreed, the word clearly foreign to his tongue.

 

"Which is why I thought this would be such an amazing opportunity," Tommy continued in a hurry, hoping to save his answer. "Not to like, spy on you or anything, but to have the chance to lend the city's coolest people a hand, even if it's just the small things — well, um, it would be an honour."

 

Philza beamed at him.

 

The questions continued like that for the remainder of the interview, and Tommy relaxed into the process more and more as they returned to the kind of inquiries he was used to. By the end, he felt nearly comfortable in his unreasonably soft leather chair, and there was a warm atmosphere in the room created by what was nearly casual conversation between the pair.

 

Casual conversation. With Philza Minecraft. Primes, Ranboo was never going to hear the end of it.

 

"Well, that was a wonderful interview, Tommy, well done," Philza said after what felt like all too short a time. He clapped his hands together as he straightened in his chair, and the sudden motion nearly made Tommy jump. "Thank you very much for your time."

 

"Thank you for yours," Tommy returned, taking the most relieved inhale he'd breathed all day. "Primes, that was scary. I mean, not that you're scary, just—" He fumbled with wild hand gestures for a moment, and Philza laughed.

 

"Not a problem, Tommy. I'll have a chat with Techno and Wilbur, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can."

 

"Of course," Tommy said, smile wavering a little at the mention of the pair. He wasn't as sure of the impression he'd made on them. "Because this position is assistant for...."

 

"The three of us, yes," Philza finished, raising an eyebrow. "Which you were aware of, of course."

 

"Of course," Tommy croaked. He had not, in fact, been aware of this.

 

Philza smiled. "Expect to hear from us soon."

 

Tommy stammered a goodbye, and nearly tripped on his feet in his hurry to get to the door. Fucking fuck, he'd only been messing with Ranboo when he'd joked about working with the Blade or Philza. All three SBI? He could have fainted.

 

Not to mention Ranboo's earlier warning of Ghostbur, who was one of the most notorious heroes for vigilante arrests across the city.

 

Yeah, this was fine. He probably wouldn't even get the job, despite how the thought brought a knot of disappointment to the back of his throat. Realistically, he was just some kid from the poor area of town who had no filter on his mouth.

 

The Blade and Ghostbur were both waiting right outside the door as he opened it, stumbling out into the hall. He squinted at them both, suspicion heavy in his gaze.

 

"Were you two eavesdropping?" he accused them, ears already burning red at the thought of all three heroes listening to him fumble over words.

 

"No," Ghostbur said immediately, though couldn't quite smother the smug grin on his face. The Blade glanced to the side, rubbing his nose.

 

"You were!" Tommy shot back, folding his arms with a frown. "That's quite rude, y'know. Invasion of privacy and shit."

 

"Hey, we're the ones you're gonna be working for," Ghostbur retorted, and Tommy didn't bother to correct him with the unsaid, if I get the job. "Of course we're gonna want to know if you'll be any good or not."

 

"Well you don't have to be all sneaky about it," Tommy grumbled, supposing the hero had a point. "I'll still break your legs. The Blade gave me permission."

 

The Blade snorted, and Tommy was so shocked he didn't even try to hide his expression. Ghostbur cast an accusatory glare at the piglin hybrid, who found this all the more amusing.

 

"Boys," Philza called from inside, a hint of a smile to his tone, "if you'll stop interrogating Tommy and come inside anytime soon, that would be great."

 

Ghostbur huffed, dramatically shoving the door as he entered the room, the Blade on his heels. The taller lingered in the doorway for a brief moment, glancing back to Tommy. Tommy stared at him expectantly, but the Blade simply nodded after a second of contemplation. The door closed after him, and Tommy sighed. Now for stage two of interview nerves: awaiting a response.

 

He leaned back against the wall of the elevator as it began its descent to the ground floor, exhaustion taking the place of the anxious energy that had been pent up all morning. However, he hadn't even reached the last ten floors before his phone rang, buzzing against his leg where it lay in the pocket of his jeans. He stared at the screen for a beat, puzzled, because he had just said goodbye to Philza, why on earth would the man be calling him already? Had he left anything behind? The thought of having to go all the way back up was draining. 

 

Reluctantly, he picked up, pressing the phone to his ear. 

 

"Er, hello?"

 

"Hello again Tommy," Philza's voice replied cheerily. "Sorry for this, mate. Just wanted to congratulate you again on a great interview, and if it's not too much bother, you can tell the next person in line that we won't be seeing them today." 

 

Tommy's brain was exceptionally slow with processing the request. It was a bit of a bother, actually, he wanted to say; did Philza have any idea how awkward starting up that conversation would be? 

 

And then the realisation hit him, and he blanked.

 

"Tommy?"

 

The boy's mouth had stopped working. "I — you're not saying — what?" 

 

Philza's laugh was buzzy over the call. "Yes, Tommy, you got the job."

 

Tommy's jaw dropped.

 

"You can start tomorrow, if you're available. Is twelve o'clock alright?"

 

"Y-yeah, that's — wow, um — that's more than alright, that's perfect, yep, I'll be there—"

 

"Great. See you then."

 

"Yeah," Tommy breathed, barely able to move the phone from his ear even as it beeped that the call had ended.

 

Oh, he was so fucked.