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Wilbur-Centric Whumptober 2021

Chapter Text

“Tommy?”

The blonde teen shakes his head and buries his palm further into his eye socket. A shaky laugh escapes from him as he pulls one leg up to his chest, causing a few stray pebbles to be kicked off the edge of the pube and into the waterstream beneath him.

He can’t- he can’t fucking deal with this right now.

He can’t.

“Tommy, are you alright?“

“Wilbur, big man, could you just right and fuck off, ay? Can’t a man be miserable in peace?“

“Y- Yeah but Tommy you’re sitting up here alone and… I know you’re having a really hard training day today so-“

“Just fuck off man! Go disappear again, like you always do!”

Tommy sucks a breath in, realizing what he’d just said, and coincidentally Wilbur suck in a breath too.

Suddenly the embarrassment he felt at having failed during his training with Phil was gone. Replaced by an ugly twisting monster formed of guilt and regret.

He’d basically just made fun of Wilbur for something the phantom origin couldn’t entirely control and sky gods did that make him an asshole. What was he thinking?

Then, like a knife cutting through the thick tension that Tommy had laid, Wilbur takes a shaky breath. Then there’s shuffling and sounds of equipment being grabbed, and of a pan and a book being set down.

Shit…

Tommy turns to face Wilbur, the pit twists deeper into his stomach as he turns. His worries are realized at catching the faintest glimpse of hurt wash across his brother’s face before the phantom backs up towards the ladders with Tommy’s training harness in hand. Leaving the freshly made bread and an old book bound in worn leather on the table as he moves backwards.

“Right… I’ll just- erm… Phil needs this. Yeah. So- so I can- yeah. That’s for you… by the way. I’m- I’m sorry I’ll just go.”

Then Wilbur is gone. Tommy can just barely see the yellow of his fr- brother’s sweater as it disappears into the floor.

Fuck… fuck he’s gone and really fucked everything up this time and now Wilbur is definitely upset and Tommy feels like shit and Phil went back to his house and is gone now after saying it was “break-time” to grab lunch and shit-

Tommy thrusts a hand into his hair and pulls at it gently. His eyes are getting teary, but why the fuck should he be crying? He shouldn’t. He’s the one who hurt Wilbur. He can’t cry. He needs to-

He needs to apologize.

Tommy spends a moment agonizng over his own guilt before he flips his legs all the way up onto the platform and quickly stands. Immediately breaking into a stride with his wings extended as he runs towards the trap door. He has to find Wilbur. He has to find him and apologize and then call himself an idiot and then-

A scream stops Tommy dead in his tracks.

From below. He knows it was from below. He knows the wound, whatever it may be, wasn’t fatal because the person is still screaming and cursing. He knows the voice. He knows it’s Wilbur.

Tommy drops to his knees, lifting the trap door just slightly as he peeks out of the hole where the ladders are placed. Then his stomach drops.

Hunters. Of-fucking-course it’s Hunters.

He can just barely see Wilbur’s form on the ground bound by, what he assumes are, obsidian chains. A blue stain muddies his sweater and looks to be growing out from his shoulder.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Tommy has to do something. Anything. He can’t just leave Wilbur to the Hunters but… he can’t get caught either.

Tommy quickly closes the trapdoor and stands. Moving back to the platform overlooking the lake and peeks down. The hunters are mostly under the Pube so maybe… maybe if he jumps he could glide into the trees.

He runs to a chest to grab an iron sword before going back to the edge. With one last peek he pulls out his communicator, rings Phil, and crouches low. The communicator quietly rings for a few seconds before beeping.

“Hey Tommy! I was just on my way back mate. If you give me a minute or two-”

Was Tommy going to get an earful from the crows later for interrupting Crowfather? Yes. Did he particularly care at the moment? No.

“Phil, Dad, there’s hunters and… gods big man I really fucked up and they have Wilbur. You need to get here fast because I’m about to do something stupid. Just needed you to know that.”

“Hunters?! In this part of the world?! Tommy what do you- don’t do anything stupid I’ll be there in a few minutes-”

Tommy hangs up, then sighs. “Sorry Crowfather, Wil doesn’t have a few minutes.”

He extends his red and gold tinted wings and slips off the edge. Falling isn’t a feeling he’s used to, and he decidedly won’t be getting used to it today. He tilts his wings, shifting his weight midair so he can glide down into the trees without being spotted.

Though, that plan quickly goes to shit as an arrow flies through the air.

Tommy twists to the side to dodge another arrow, and decides “screw the plan. It’s save Wilbur time.” He tucks his wings to his side like Phil had taught him and dives. Tommy swerves over the heads of the hunters and rolls to a stop next to Wilbur.

The antequarian ghost blinks at him a moment before his brow furrows. “Toms run- please run I’ll be okay just go-“

Tommy turns away from Wilbur and focuses on the hunters. He isn’t going to run, he decides as he raises his iron sword. He won’t run, even if it means he and Wilbur are both captured. That is how the buddy system works, innit?

Wilbur groans in pain from behind him, and more than anything Tommy wants to turn around and sob into the older’s chest and apologize and help him heal, but Tommy doesn’t take his eyes off of the hunters.

Three. Only three.

How they’d managed to take down Wilbur is a mystery, but Tommy doesn’t particularly care now because he’s pissed off. So unbelievably pissed off.

One of the men, a big guy with a spider tattoo on his forearm, smiles at him with jagged yellow teeth. A hoarse laugh escapes him as he wipes a dagger on his pants.

“Aww, little bird fall out of his nest? Ain’t learned how to fly yet, have you lil’ one?”

Tommy scrunches his nose. Both at the name and the realization that the blood wiped on the man’s pants came off blue.

Only one species bleeds blue.

“You stabbed my brother you fuck. I’ll kill you for it.”

Wilbur says something, but Tommy isn’t listening.

The man in front of him laughs again. “Really? Oh my, I’m trembling!”

The other two men laugh, and Tommy’s cheeks definitely don’t turn a shade redder. And his wings don’t puff up at all.

“Oh? Birdy embarrassed? Wings get all puffed up? Though I do have to say, those would sell very nicely in the parts market.”

Wilbur says something again. And Tommy chooses not to listen. Though, he really should have.

“-NET! TOMMY!”

Just as he spins to face his brother, a weighted net is thrown over him and he’s forced to sink to the ground. He lets out a small squawk as he falls, but once his knees his the ground he tries to force himself back up again. And, unfortunately, Though the more that he struggles the more tangled he gets.

The men are laughing at him. Four of them. There had been four, not three.

Wilbur’s form is losing its translucity as he struggles to try and move towards Tommy.

The young elytrian reaches out towards the phantom and helps move him closer. Wilbur shifts just close enough that Tommy can grab onto the sleeve of the older’s sweater. Though, now he can more clearly see where Wilbur was stabbed.

Wilbur’s skin is paler than normal and blue blood is soaking the majority of his shoulder. Though the older still tries to force a smile for Tommy.

“It’s alright. It’s okay don’t worry. Don’t be scared I’ll- I’ll figure out how to get us out-“

The man with the spider tattoo scoffs from the side. “I’m sure you will. Going to be hard to save tweety here once you’re in the afterlife, Phantom-scum.”

He-

What-

Tommy stops breathing, just for a moment. His mind goes blank with fear. They didn’t want Wilbur, or Tommy for that matter. They wanted parts.

He forced himself into a stammer once he sees the men start to move towards them. “N- No please! You can have my wings if you don’t hurt him. Please don’t hurt him-“

The black inked spider crosses near his face as the hunter reaches for Wilbur’s chains and holds the phantom up a bit higher to make a point. “Your wings sure are pretty little bird, but phantom membranes sell for a lot more. Especially considering this one is the last origin of its kind. Hybrid membranes are nice but, why go for discount when you can get the original eh?”

Tommy’a not sure when he’d started crying, but the tears running down his face start to blur his vision. Though he tightly holds on to his brother’s sweater.

The hunter tries to drag Wilbur away, but Tommy’s upset and pissed off and they won’t take his brother, they won’t-

“Damn fuckin- you little shit, let go!”

The man tries to wretch Tommy’s hand off of Wilbur’s sweater but the teen only digs his clawed fingers deeper into the wool and lets a sob fall from his lips. The hunter keeps trying to pull Wilbur away, yanking the hurt phantom around like a chew toy and making him groan in pain.

The hunter growls. “Fucking hell, we have to get moving. Grab the bats, we’ll have to beat the kid off-“

And now it’s Wilbur’s turn to beg. “NO! NO LEAVE HIM ALONE PLEASE-“

Tommy tries to curl closer to Wilbur but is still caught up in the net and can’t move much more than his arm. He shuts his eyes and lets out a small wimper, readying for the pain that’s bound to come.

But nothing comes, just a gentle but shaky voice. “Toms… Tommy you need to- You have to let go, okay?”

Tommy opens his eyes and looks to his brother. The phantom is still in obvious pain, and he still looks scared out of his mind, but for some reason he seems almost… resigned. Tommy glances back at the hunters who had grabbed their bats and finds them frozen, watching to see if Tommy will listen.

The young elytrian whimpers and sniffles, barely loosening his grip on the sweater. “W-Wilby-“

Though the phantom just smiles, through tears and pain he smiles and a warmth fills Tommy’s chest. Though a cold feeling sinks into his stomach. “Let me go Toms.”

Tommy can’t.

He- He cant fucking do that.

He can’t.

Though his grip loosens just enough as Wilbur smiles, and the hunter wretches his brother from his hand with a triumphant laugh. The phantom hisses in pain, but never takes his eyes off of Tommy.

Tommy hates this. He hates everything about this and he wishes he could have just accepted Wilbur’s bread and story and they could be sitting in the pube laughing and smiling and would have seen the hunters from miles away. But now they’re here.

As the hunter drags Wilbur away from Tommy, the younger realizes what’s about to happen. “NO- NO DON’T PLEASE!“

The hunter stops walking for a moment, reaches into his bag and pulls out a bottle of a purplish liquid. He curls his lip into a grotesque version of a smile and uncorks the bottle before sloshing it in front of Wilbur’s face.

“Make this easier on us, ay phantom? Die quickly and we won’t hurt bird boy.”

Wilbur instantly scrunches his nose at the potion in his face, but the hunter could care less as he grows impatient and decides to just dump the potion on him instead.

Weakness. It was a potion of fucking weakness.

Wilbur’s pupils shrink as his instincts take over, though his muscles quickly relax and he goes limp in the hunter’s hold. A low hiss comes from the back of his throat, but Tommy can tell Wilbur isn’t fully present anymore.

The hunter smiles, Tommy screams for him to stop. Though he just drags Wilbur further and steps out from under the cool shade of the pube into the bright sun. Almost instantaneously Wilbur’s low hiss turns into a screech as the phantom’s skin starts to sizzle.

Tommy scratches at the net on top of him. His wings try to flap and push but the stones on the ends of the net are too heavy. His blurred vision is doing him no favors, but he can’t stop the tears and sobs as he scratches at the heavy ropes. Desperate to reach his brother who’s pale skin is slowly turning darker and darker by the second.

Wilbur’s screeches can be heard from across the valley. He knows the others can hear him, he knows the others will come. The question though is if they’ll get there in time.

The answer comes moments later in the form of a large shadow as it disappears into the shadow of the pube, then three thumps from behind him. Tommy feels a woosh and then the pressure of the net lets up as the ropes are cut.

Immediately Tommy scrambles to get out of the net and rush towards Wilbur, but someone else steps in front of him before he can even stand.

Phil. Crowfather, thank gods.

Wilbur is still screeching and Tommy can spot the begins of a fetal position as Wilbur starts to curl into himself. Phil notices too, but his eyes are trained on the hunter.

The older’s wings are extended, a deadly look in his eye as he starts towards the hunter with his enchanted sword in hand. The hunter takes two steps backwards, and that all before Phil swoops forward and cuts him down.

Tommy stares in awe for a moment, though is quickly dragged back to the situation as Wilbur’s screech peters off into a low whine.

Wilbur’s skin is grey, rather than a pale translucent whitish-tan. His eyes are beginning to close and his breaths are coming out ragged. He whimpers, his skin beginning to flake into ashes as his eyes roll into the back of his head from the pain.

“WILBUR!” Tommy falls to his brother’s side and hovers over him, unsure of what to do or how to help him as more tears begin to build up. “Ph-Phil- Phil help him-“

The elytrian moves away from the dead hunter and lifts his wings to create a temporary shade for the unconscious phantom. Phil carefully gets his arms under Wilbur and tucks him close to his body as his skin stops sizzling.

Phil turns to him, just as he extends his wings to ready for take off. “Tommy.” he says. There’s a panic and a sadness to his voice that Tommy knows he’s never heard from his father before. “I need you to go get all of the healing potions you can find. Tell everyone what happened. Call- call a meeting in the pube. Call Charlie too, he might be able to soothe the… burns. Hurry though, please, I don’t- I don’t know how much-“

Tommy nods before Phil can finish. He casts a quick glance to Wilbur’s face as flakes of ash fall off with each ragged breath, then turns and sprints towards the wheat fields and the river.

Tommy messed up today. He messed up so bad. And now if there is one thing he can do he’s going to do it. For Wilbur’s sake.

For Wilbur.

Chapter Text

Space.

He really fucking hates space.

“You hear me alright mate? Don’t panic.”

Wilbur scoffs and leans back in the weightless atmosphere. He grabs the now untethered cord attached to his suit and starts to pull it towards him.

“Great idea Philza. No need to panic as I drift aimlessly into space with low oxygen.”

He hears a sputtering over the comms and then his twin brother’s panicked voice. “Heh? Why didn’t you tell us you had low oxygen?!”

Wilbur shrugs, even though he knows they can’t actually see him, and tries to force himself to stop drifting away from the ship. “Didn’t seem important. I was going to refill the tank when I got back in. Plus I only came out here to fix the loose panel. It was in-and-out.”

He pulls the cord closer and waits to see the magnetic end so he can try to reattach to the ship somehow. Though, as he pulls it closer he realizes the end comes to a frayed, charred stump with green slime coating the tips of it.

Shit.

“Phil…”, he half-whispers over the comm.

This is bad. So, so bad.

“Wilbur? What’s wrong? We were just about to send Techno out to come try to grab you.”

“Don’t”, he hisses as he releases the cord to grab for his blaster.

“Don’t? Wilbur we have to come get you mate-“

Wilbur lifts his blaster and turns towards the ship, breaths coming out quickly as he scans over it. Only to see the end of a long green tail slip over the other side of the ship.

Shit. Mega shit.

“Phil… Dad, I love you. I really do. You too Techno I don’t- I don’t say it very often but-“

Phil cuts him off. “Mate, it’s alright we’re sending out Techno don’t panic-“

“NO- no dad it’s… my cord was cut.”

The line goes silent.

Wilbur knows that Phil understands. He knows that Phil will do the right thing.

When Wilbur joined the Space Bureau he’d expected a desk job. That was what he’d had, a desk job. He and Techno had gotten desk jobs at the bureau to try and pay for an apartment at 18. They hadn’t expected the alien invasion.

They hadn’t expected Philza Minecraft, head researcher and explorer of all space operations, to come up to them and ask if they’d like to join the invasion team. It paid better, so they said yes.

And so Wilbur and Techno joined the Space Bureau: Invasion-team. Otherwise known as SBI. And for the past five years they’ve had some of the best times of their lives.

And now Wilbur is floating aimlessly in space outside of the multi-million dollar rocket with nothing but a low oxygen tank and a blaster, stuck with one of the most deadly alien species in the known universe.

Phil takes a shaky breath on the other side of the line. “We- we don’t know if it’s-”

“It is… Phil, I saw the tail.”

Techno must have shut off his comm at some point in getting prepped because the only way he can hear his brother is through the background noise on Phil’s comm. His brother is asking something, the feed not picking up every word.

Wilbur takes the partial-silence to try and scan over the ship again, holding his blaster close and swallowing anxiously.

Dreamons. The fuckers that started all of this.

Long, green, nasty bitches that attack spaceships by damaging something on the exterior and then waiting for an astronaut to fix it. Then they cut the line and have an appetizer before crawling into the ship and eating the main course. Worst part is… they don’t even kill or physically eat their victims. They suck out a person’s soul and leave the husk that’s left over to die on it’s own.

Or they turn their victims into Dreamons…

But Wilbur would much prefer his chances with death. Getting turned would mean becoming some mindless killing machine and that… that wasn’t an option.

The comms crackle in his ears. “Wilbur… just hold your blaster close. We’re going to try and get you back in here alright? You’re going to be okay-”

“No… no dad, that's a terrible idea. It’s waiting for you to open the door you can’t- not with Tommy on board.”

The line goes quiet again.

Phil may not be he and Techno’s actual dad, but he’s the closest thing they’ve ever had to one.

And Tommy… sweet, loud, abrasive Tommy who they’d saved from a human trafficking operation two years ago… is sleeping. He couldn’t risk Tommy’s life for Wilbur’s safety. It’s non-negotiable. No matter what happens Wilbur will do anything to protect his family from the monster outside the ship.

“Wilbur, I don’t… I don’t know what to do-”

Wilbur smiles, the tears in his eyes refusing to fall. “Yeah you do.”

The line goes quiet again.

A green head rises over the side of the ship. The sleek green monster staring at him through it’s black beady eyes, it’s scarred and jagged “smile” expands as it crawls closer. Imagine that being the last thing you see, a creepy ass smiley face.

Wilbur, unfortunately, doesn’t have to imagine it.

“Phil… tell Tommy and Tech that I- I love ‘em, alright? You too.”

The line is still silent. The creature stands on two legs instead of four, reaching out with it’s long limbs to grab for the detached cord connected to his suit.

“WIlbur please- I-”

There’s a sigh, shaky and wet with tears that he can’t see. Wilbur smiles wider, and his own tears start to drift in front of his face.

“-I love you too. So do Techno and Tommy. You- You might not be mine but Wilbur, son, I love you-”

The Dreamon grasps the cord, then it yanks. And Wilbur screams.

His blaster had been pointed at the thing, but now he’s dragged backwards by the tether meant to protect him from dying in space. The irony isn’t what kills him. It’s the clawed hands that stop his momentum, spinning him to face the smile that’s going to take his life.

Wilbur knows he should be fighting, doing something. But he can’t, frozen stiff by fear and the extraterrestrial strength that his killer grips him with. So he looks at the beast with nothing but terror as it sits on the side of the rocket, raising another one of it’s limbs to place a large claw onto the glass of his helmet.

Wilbur screams. He can hear his own scream, meaning Techno must have turned on his comms and must be next to Phil. The feed overlapping one another and causing him to only hear his own screams.

The glass breaks, and the scream is cut off. The endless void of space dragging the oxygen from his lungs and leaving him with a cold and heavy presence in it’s place. Ice crawls up his face as his lungs constrict while begging for air.

And if that hadn’t hurt enough, Wilbur felt the exact moment the Dreamon began sucking away his soul. He feels like a piece of flimsy tinfoil being ripped in half and twisted beyond recognition.

He can’t scream anymore, or cry, or hardly even move. The ice crawls over his eyes, making the monster taking his life go blurry. And just as the blackness of the void begins to take over his vision, he hears a sound.

It had sounded like… a… a pew. A pew pew… thing.

Maybe Techno would know.

Or Pill.

No not… not Pill.

Pillza?

He’s tired.

There’s more pews.

The green thing isn’t by his face anymore, but now yellow is.

He knows yellow.

Yellow is… sounds.

Lots of sounds.

Black is gone and now he’s…

Warm. A lot of warm. Warmer than the black.

Pink is in his face now. He likes pink.

But there’s no air.

He wants air.

Maybe that’s why he’s choking. Huh.

Pink and yellow make lots of noises. And there are lights. Something is poking him, he doesn’t like it.

But now he wants to sleep.

He still wants air. But he likes sleep more.

Red is with pink and yellow.

Then he’s in the black buts it’s a different black, and he only hopes that when he wakes up the pink and yellow and red will be there.

So he sleeps. And the colors make noises.

Who needs air anyways?

Chapter Text

This plan was shit.

Techno had no qualms with saying how shit it was.

Phil chuckles and waves the papers in his hands around as he rants. “Techno the ghost is supposedly just an interactive personality. It’s harmless!”

Techno scoffs and points down the street towards the darkened docks. “Phil, they found three people drowned and strangled right down the street! This isn’t just some interactive personality. It’s dangerous!”

The older man shakes his head as he stoops down to put the papers in his bag and rearrange a few items. “Many people have also said that the same ghost appears as a young boy and is quite pleasant to talk with. So I think it’s best we leave the gear here and just go see what’s up for ourselves.”

Techno doesn’t relieve his adoptive father from his deadpan glare. “With Tommy?”

The older pauses, shoots a glance to the teen who’s still raving on the phone to Tubbo about his first actual ghost hunt, then sighs. “Yeah.. but he stays behind you and I.”

Techno cocks a brow as Phil stands. “Oh so the ghost is dangerous enough that we need to protect Tommy but safe enough that we can leave all our gear behind. Makes sense.”

Phil just rolls his eyes and shifts his bag to sit against the side of the stone barrier separating them from the waters of the bay. His father glances towards Tommy again and smiles as the younger runs towards them.

“OH HO HO BIG MAN PHILZA IM SO EXCITED! Is this thing nasty? An ugly fucker? A poltergeist seeking revenge and death?”

Philza moves to respond, but Techno beats him to it with a grin. “It’s a kid, that supposedly chats with little old ladies as they feed the ducks and throws criminals into the ocean.”

The young blonde’s excited demeanor deflates and a whine builds up in the back of his throat. “AAAAAAWWWWWWW PHIIIIIIIIIIIIIL! You told me we were gonna hunt a ghost!”

Phil chuckles as he starts off walking towards the docks. “And we are, mate. It’s just a, erm… baby ghost, if you will.”

That only makes Tommy whine more, causing the teen to fall into quick rambles about how he’s “the biggest man ever” and “not a baby”. Techno decides it’s time to zone out.

To focus on the hunt. Yeah. Not to piss Tommy off. Definitely not. He would never.

Though, as much as he’ll deny it, a small smile graces his lips as the teen rambles. His little brother is special. Special in the way that… he… used to be. Tommy has the same laugh, is the same age as they had been, and has the same sense of humor, and he’s sure that if his twin could have grown up they would have-

No.

No, Techno can’t do that again.

He has to focus.

The docks are very poorly lit, and the eerie stench of the fish recently pulled from the bay combined with a stale smell of… wood(?) makes for an even creepier setting. Perfect for the type of ghost they seem to be hunting.

Phil comes to a halt beside him, and it’s only then that Techno realizes Tommy’s stopped rambling.

A faint glow surrounds a figure as they disappear behind a closed shop.

Techno holds his breath for a moment then takes a step forward. Directly into a cold spot on the warm July night. He shudders, but can’t help tensing as an odd feeling washes over.

Something is wrong, but so entirely right.

Something feels like water, and cold, and cuts, and pain. Something also feels like warmth, and guitar strings, and hot chocolate, and tight braids.

He can feel someone grab his hand. Phil, he notes in the back of his mind. But he can’t seem to move. Not even as the glowing figure comes out from behind the building. Then all at once Techno knows what something is, and he knows that his breaths have left him to be replaced by tears that he can barely feel running down his own face.

The figure turns to them. A yellow sweater with seaweed tangled between the wear-worn holes, broken glasses with golden frames, black trousers with beat up sneakers, a red beanie on top of dripping wet brunette curls, and two lifeless eyes the color of the murky black waters themselves.

The figure seems to pause itself, then smiles with it’s blue tinted lips and too-white teeth. “Technoblade!”

Techno feels the beginnings of a sob, but he refuses to set it free as he pulls away from Phil’s hand to step towards the figure.

The figure with his brother’s face. The figure with his brother’s smell and his brother’s smile and his brother’s gods-ugly yellow sweater that he had begged as kids to be incinerated due to it’s filthiness. The figure with unseeing eyes. The ghost.

“W- Wil?”

There’s more vulnerability in his voice than he’d usually allow. But for now it’s only his family that surrounds him. He knows Phil is talking to Tommy somewhere in the background. He knows Tommy is quietly calling out for Techno. Though he knows the ghost in front of him. He knows… he knows nothing about how the ghost became a ghost.

Blue lips break into an even wider smile as the ghost skips over to be in front of him. Wilbur holds a sheep toy in his hands, the one he’d gotten from their mother before their parents had passed.

“Technoblade I’ve missed you!” He says in a voice that seems thinner than the air. “You never visit me!”

Then the ghost looks up to him, only about a foot away from where his living brother stands. Techno almost cringes at the confusion and sadness that crosses the ghost’s face, still youthful with the beginnings of maturity, as his gaze meets Techno’s.

“Oh… you aren’t Techno.”

He nearly sobs, though he smiles because it’s Wilbur. It has to be.

“No it’s- Wilbur it’s me I’m just older now.” He says shakily.

There are shuffles behind him as Phil and Tommy move closer to them. Wilbur hesitantly takes a step back, but Techno reaches out a hand and holds his palm facing the ghost. “It’s alright. It’s okay, come here Wil.”

The ghost doesn’t move, but he smiles.

“You are my brother. Why are you old Techno?”

Techno drops his hand and tries to meet his brother’s gaze. “Because things changed Wil. Can you- can you tell me why you’re-”

He pauses.

Does he want to know? Does he really want to know why his brother never returned to the orphanage all those years ago? Does he really want to know the reason behind the countless days and nights he spent without food and water because he was too sick with worry over the disappearance of his twin? Does he really want the question behind his brother’s death to be answered?

He doesn’t have a choice as the ghost hums. “I’m blue because I like blue! It’s my favorite color!”

Techno frowns, because it isn’t. Wilbur never had a favorite color. Always claimed it was colorist and immoral to pick favorites. And the only parts of the ghost that were blue were his lips and an odd shape on the front of his sweater. Though he doesn’t press, and instead asks the question he doesn’t want answered.

“Wilbur… who did this to you?”

The ghost- Wilbur, not the ghost. Just Wilbur.

Wilbur freezes. His translucent shoulders tense and his sweater makes an odd squelching noise as water drips from the clogged fabric. He looks behind his shoulder a moment, as if making sure nobody else would hear, then turns back.

“A… man, I think. He said I was too loud, and too boring. My guitar broke when I played for some money. He also made fun of me for holding friend when I was bringing him back to the orphanage to fix him so he would look better for mum’s grave. Then he said I didn’t… do... then it was- it was cold. I don’t- I don’t like the cold. And then he had a knife, and everything hurt, and…”

Wilbur’s gaze floats away from his face and out to the bay, where he stares for a few moments before turning back. Only to smile once again.

“Oh! Hello! Who are you?”

Chapter Text

“Eret, do you think Quackity would like this?” Wilbur had asked, dangling a small golden hoop with a gem in it in front of his friend’s face.

The gem was beautiful. Blue with flecks of purple and orange embedded in it. Wilbur had figured it could represent his friend’s “mystery lovers”, who he would only call by color and never name. Surely that would make his friend happier?

His guard had shrugged her shoulders as they smiled. “Absolutely my prince. I’m sure Quackity would love it.”

Wilbur frowned at his friend playfully. “Eret… I’ve told you before mate, you don’t have to call me prince. We’re friends. Just call me Wilbur.”

Eret only shrugged again, his smile fading as they picked at the sleeves under their armor. “Of course my liege.”

Wilbur had simply rolled his eyes at his friend’s weird behavior, quickly paying the kind woman at the jewelry stand before following Eret off into the bustling crowd of people. He followed at his guard’s side briskly and examined the newly bought earring.

“Mmm… I really hope he likes it. He’s been really stressed lately, what with the war and everything.”

Eret says nothing, so he continues.

“I just want to make sure he’s happy. Can’t have any of my best friend’s feeling down, ay?”

Eret only nodded, and Wilbur unwillingly fell into an uncomfortable silence as the two continued walking. Eventually Wilbur grew a bit suspicious as they passed the dress stores and bakeries that Eret and Niki liked to window shop at, especially when his friend hadn’t even batted an eye.

Wilbur had decided enough was enough. He cleared his throat, trying to slow down their walking pace so that they could actually shop instead of walk. “You know, speaking of best friend's Eret… how are you?”

Tension had quickly shot through the other’s shoulders, and sure enough the other stopped. His friend clenched his fists and Wilbur could swear that a faint outline of tears had been building up before his friend cast her eyes away from him. Wilbur had moved in front of Eret to try and see what was wrong… mistake number one.

Eret’s hands were shaking, and a couple of tears made themselves known as they rolled down their cheeks. She wouldn’t look Wilbur in the eye, and maybe… maybe that should have been what tipped Wilbur off.

But out of faith in his friend Wilbur reached out to grab for Eret’s hand so he could rub circles into the other’s palm like they always did when emotions got too high. Like Eret had done so many times as they’d worked Wilbur down from a panic attack in the middle of the night.

Though he never gets close enough to grasp Eret’s palm.

A burly hand had wrapped around Wilbur’s arm before he could take another step towards his friend. There had been a prick in his side, then the world began to go sideways as Eret reached out to pull the crown off of Wilbur’s head and take Quackity’s new earring from his grasp.

Cotton built up in his ears and eyes, though he could clearly hear her as they whispered, “For what it’s worth Wilbur… I’m sorry.”

Then the world had gone black.

And he was delivered to the hell he now knows as home.

The betrayal was two months ago.

He’s been rotting in an Essempii jail cell for two months, all because of Eret. All because of Eret and their betrayal and Dream’s indecisiveness on when to send a ransom.

Though, unfortunately, Dream had decided. The ransom would be sent today. Through the video meeting that both rulers, Dream and Wilbur’s Father, have had biannually through each year of the prime-forsaken war to discuss their terms and what would be best for both of their kingdoms.

Which is why Wilbur is where he is now. Tied to a splintering old chair with chains and rope, his hands behind his back and a dirty gag shoved in his mouth. Positioned in the center of one of two cameras with a lone light hanging over his head.

The second camera was facing the table that Dream would always sit at during these meetings. Hiding the array of weapons that sat just on the other side of the wall. Smart.

Wilbur huffs through the gag as Sapnap comes up from behind him to adjust his bindings. Though the man just chuckles and taps the knot on the back of the gag.

“Sorry little prince, that’s not coming off until showtime.”

On the other side of the room George chuckles lazily. “Sapnap you can’t call him little prince, he’s older than you.”

Sapnap moves to the front side of Wilbur to mess with the chains a bit and tighten the ropes. “Can too! I’m more yolked than he is, therefore meaning I am the bigger man.”

George just rolls his eyes and pops his sucker into his mouth. “Mhm… gods you sound just like that other prince.”

“Prince Theseus?”

“Yeah that one. Annoying little bugger.”

Wilbur growls through the gag before leaning forward as far as he can to headbutt Sapnap with a vengeful force.

The ravenette yelps and falls backwards on his ass, a hand flying up to put pressure on the spot where Wilbur had hit him. Though as soon as the younger recovers he looks back to Wilbur with a new found fire in his eye.

“YOU SHIT! YOU JUST FUCKING HEADBUTTED ME!”

Wilbur rolls his eyes in a “no shit” type of way, and he can hear George giggle on the other side of the room. Sapnap scrambles up to his feet, a scowl set in his face as he winds his arm to punch him across the face.

Wilbur stones himself for the pain to come, never looking away from the rage in Sapnap’s eyes. He sees it as a challenge.

Hit him, Wilbur wins. Resign and realize Wilbur is basically helpless, Sapnap wins.

“Sap… leave the prisoner alone. Show’s about to begin.”

Wilbur’s stomach drops.

Dream.

Wilbur looks away as Sapnap drops his arm to find the man in green. Dream is leaning against the rickety door frame with a smile on his face. Though, he rarely doesn’t have a smile on his face, considering the smiley face mask he thinks he needs to wear 24/7 sits promptly on the left side of his face.

The enemy king pushes off from the door frame and makes his way over. Gait similar to that of a cat circling a downed bird.

“So Wilbur,” the monarch starts as he comes to a stop in front of him, “you are the center of attention tonight.”

A gloved hand comes up to grab his jaw and tilt it upwards, Dream smirks and presses his thumb into Wilbur’s chin painfully. “Do be on your best behavior. After all, you die tonight.”

Wilbur’s limbs go slack. He thinks… no, he knows he’d heard Dream wrong. Right?

They wouldn’t… would they?

Why keep him hostage for months only to kill him?

Wilbur hardly feels the man let go of his face, too lost in his thoughts to see how the monarch laughed. There is a ringing sound in the distance, but Wilbur can hardly hear it.

The prospect of dying was something entirely different than the prospect of being held captive. He could be ransomed to go back home or just beaten to a pulp and left on his doorstep. But death?

You didn’t get to truly return home if you were dead.

“Live in 3, 2, ….”

Wilbur blinks. The camera in front of him is flashing, meaning it’s been turned on.

A strong, yet fragile voice comes through the speakers. “Wilbur?”

It’s then that Wilbur notices the screen set up for him and Dream to see the people on the other side of the call. It’s then that he sees the blonde hair and green eyes that are marks of his father’s family line.

His father. His father could see, could hear everything. He would see and hear everything that would happen tonight…

And of course his father wasn’t alone. Techno, Tommy, Quackity, and… and Eret.

Wilbur struggles against his bonds for a moment before a hand wacks his head from behind. Sapnap had moved behind him at some point, great.

Wilbur looks back to the screen, to the camera, and tries to plead with his eyes and shake his head. They can’t trust Eret. They can’t trust anything that Dream does.

The Trickster King and his Shadowed Knight should never be invited into your heart, nevertheless your mind.

A gloved hand finds itself on the back of his neck, and Wilbur stops struggling as the king’s fingers begin to press into his skin painfully. His breathing halts for a moment. Fear creeps up to his chest as he realizes that this will most likely be the last time he sees his family.

The Trickster King smiles. “Yes Philza. It seems I have something of yours.”

King Philza tries not to react. His face is closed off and calculating, but his eyes betray his fear. A trait common among all members of the family. He takes a breath before speaking.

“You do. I would like my son back.”

Though apparently Dream finds the statement funny. Laughing and squeezing Wilbur’s neck once more before loosening his hand to trace Wilbur’s jawline with a single finger. The tyrannical king stares at Wilbur a moment before flicking his finger off of his chin with a satisfied smile. “Well… you know I would have some demands before you get him back.”

Phil moves to speak again, but is interrupted as Tommy stands. The teens face is red, both from tears and anger.

Wilbur can’t tell if he’s proud of the boy or fearing for his brother more as he makes himself the center of Dream’s attention.

“FUCK YOU! JUST GIVE ME BACK MY BROTHER YOU GIANT PRICK!”

Eret moves to try and get Tommy to calm down, and Wilbur nearly leaps through the screen. The only thing stopping him from screaming and charging towards the castle to kill the traitor himself is the chains and gag that literally and figuratively confines him.

Though the betrayer pauses, he doesn’t put a hand on the teen. She stares at the screen, seemingly watching Wilbur, then they back away. Eret leaves Tommy to calm himself down.

Whether they had done it out of their past friendship or out of fear, Wilbur can’t tell. Frankly he doesn’t care. As long as Tommy isn’t touched by Wilbur’s mistakes and failures, Wilbur decides he can die satisfied.

Maybe that’s why Eret hadn’t touched Tommy. Maybe she knew Wilbur was going to die tonight.

Whatever. He would have to accept their pity, only for Tommy’s sake.

Dream is talking again. Tommy has sat down and they’re discussing ransom. Though Wilbur knows it’s pointless in the end, so he doesn’t listen. Instead he looks at those on the other side of the camera.

Phil looks older. The bags under his eyes are more prominent, and his hair is definitely longer. Though it’s still braided on one side. Neatly. Clean. Crisp. Like a King’s hair should be. That’s how Wilbur knows it’s bad. Phil usually didn’t care how he was presented, not unless he thought he had to hide his emotions behind divinity and cleanliness.

Techno looked stronger. His twin was always the one to throw himself into training whenever things got bad. Not usually out of want, but necessity. Wilbur can see the anger in his eyes, even through the shoddy camera quality. Chat must be loud today… Wilbur wishes he could sing to his brother one last time, maybe rebraid the loose and messy braid that is hanging behind his back.

Tommy… Tommy isn’t okay. Wilbur can see it in the way he sits, the way he moves, the way he fiddles with the small braid tucked into his short hair. His little brother is struggling and it makes his heart ache. Though Wilbur can’t imagine what it’ll be like later… when he...

“I’m sorry Philza, but I don’t accept.”

Quackity looks tired, and scared, and distracted. Wilbur can’t tell why, but he knows Quackity is focusing on Sapnap. It takes a moment before Wilbur understands, but he’s quick to understand. Orange… Firecracker… Sapnap. It makes sense, and Wilbur sort of hates it. Though Wilbur can see the earring that he’d bought his friend dangling from Quackity’s left ear, and he thinks maybe it’s sweet. Maybe Sapnap isn’t as… awful… when around Quackity. His friend tends to have that effect. Quackity deserves someone who loves him.

“The hell do you mean you don’t accept? I just agreed to all of your terms. Give me my son.”

And for the first time of the night, Dream frowns. Though it’s as fake as all of his promises, quickly morphing into a crazed smirk. A chuckle builds in his throat, but quickly fades into a dramatic sigh.

Wilbur finds his gaze landing on Eret.

“No. Because you see Philza, this war is growing rather boring. We’ve been at a stalemate for months now. I think we should… liven things up, if you will.”

Phil sputters. “What do you mean? Dream what do you-”

A hand finds the back of his head, then the knot to the gag. Wilbur only has a moment to think of what he wants to say before the gag falls away.

Dream tilts his head, a knowing and crazed smile hiding behind the mask. “Well Wilbur, a few words?”

Wilbur’s eyes don’t move to the screen, but to the lens of the camera. He wants them to see him, to see him wholly. He takes a deep breath, in one… out two.

“I love you.”

His eyes flicker to the screen, catching the sight of a traitor’s eyes.

“And… Beware the Shadowed Knight. They work with the Trickster King.”

Dream’s eyes widen and rage, a new expression on the trickster’s face, seems to overtake him.

There’s a flash of silver.

A dagger and the feeling of something being slipped into his hands.

Screams cut each other off as they ring over the speakers.

Wilbur smiles.

Chapter Text

Phil presses down on a board with one hand, grabbing for a nail in his array of tools and parts before raising his hammer. He slips the nail into the spot he’d marked and starts to tap it into the board until it’s secure. He’s been doing this repeatedly for… what? Three days?

He raises his arm to wipe the sweat from his brow with his sleeve. A small smile finding its way onto his face as he admires the job he’s done and turns to face the coming sunset.

There is still plenty of work to be done. Hell, his home still isn’t really livable yet and not to mention his few “mishaps” from lack of sleep. Though he supposes that’s what happens when you offer to build a friend’s home instead of your own. All for a “lil kiss”.

Phil chuckles at the memory of Wilbur appearing as soon as he’d finished the phantom’s library to give him a peck on the cheek. Then the man had disappeared into the ground with a laugh and a book in hand.

His heart swells a bit at thinking of his translucent friend. Wilbur may not be his biological son like Tommy is, but he certainly fits the bill. Plus he already acts like a brother to Tommy, why shouldn’t Phil treat him as such.

Phil presses hard onto the board he’d just placed to check its stability one last time before deciding to get off the roof to go grab more materials. With a flick of his wings the wind snatches him up and allows him to float back to the ground with relative ease.

He lands and takes about two steps into his half-built home before his communicator starts to ping. He pulls it from the pocket of his robes and taps a few buttons until the message pops up.

Wilbur had sent a picture. The phantom’s arm was the only part of him in the shot. His hand is in the shape of a thumbs up in front of a ton of bookshelves lined up against the wall, carts of books that needed to be placed into them rolled neatly in front of each shelf, and random floating items that had siphoned floating abilities from Wilbur’s unnatural state.

Phil smiles down at the photo and sighs, then looks back up through the hole in his roof that he hadn’t quite finished before had grown dark.

He supposes he should stop for the night. Though, he can’t sleep in his home yet. It’d probably be safer to just try and crash at the Pube tonight, but... he’s sure Wilbur wouldn’t mind a bit of company tonight. Even if “company” is just Phil sleeping on the phantom’s couch.

Philza drops his communicator back into the hidden pocket in his robes and sets his tools on his workbench before making his way out the door. Though, as soon as the cool dusk air hits his face he smiles then extends his wings.

With only a few flaps he’s gliding off of the top of his mountain and diving towards Wilbur’s library. The phantom, luckily, lives right at the base of Phil’s mountain which makes his flights short and less exhausting.

He lands with ease, taking a few steps to slow himself down before coming to a complete stop just in front of the steps up to Wilbur’s library. He chuckles as he stumbles a bit, the lack of sleep catching him in the smallest ways.

He’s absolutely sure that if his friend had seen his stumble the phantom would be cackling and calling him “oldza”. He tilts his head to the side, though he can’t quite see his translucent friend through the tinted glass windows. He shrugs and decides he can just tell Wilbur about his blunder himself, but as he approaches the door to knock he hears a loud thump.

Phil’s feathers bristle as his mind instantly shoots to worst case-scenarios. His crows don’t particularly help his worries either.

“Wilbur passed out?”

“Bookshelves fell on him? Bookbur?!”

“Wilbur collapsed and died? AGAIN?!!”

“PHANTOMBUR IS DEAD CRABRAVE”

“Tiredza is worried”

Phil ignores his flock in his effort to twist the large brass knob on the dark oak door as he pushes his way into the library with the speed only a worried parent could attain. Though as soon as he turns the corner to face the library shelves, he catches sight of Wilbur.

He’s not… dying. Or hurt. Or… doing anything really. He’s just… staring at the window. His hands are shaking and his ears are pinned back but he seems..

Phil can see the book that had been the source of the thump now laying on the floor. He cuts his eyes back up to Wilbur’s face, and is startled to find bright green eyes staring back at him. It’s unnerving to say the least. Especially since Wilbur’s eyes are brown and only ever have a faint green glow when he gets tired.

Though now they’re almost neon green and pupiless, glowing brighter than a lantern.

Phil smiles, though the uneasiness in the air doesn’t fade. “Hey mate, sorry for just busting in but I heard something fall. I was ah- just wondering if I could crash here for the night and-” Phil cuts himself off as one of Wilbur’s hands goes up to his hair. A telling sign of the phantom becoming overwhelmed.

Phil takes a step forward, but Wilbur takes a staggered step back. Now both of his hands are tangled into his hair as his breathing grows shallow and his form starts to flicker. The phantom lets out a small sob as he takes another step back. “P-Phil?”

And more than anything Phil wants to reach out and pull Wilbur into a hug, but he knows that would do the exact opposite of what he wants to do. So he stays put and tucks his wings into himself, trying to make himself seem smaller.

“Wil, listen okay? Can you tell me what’s wrong? What are 5 things that you can see?”

Wilbur shakes his head as he continues to back himself into the corner of the library. “It’s not a panic- I’m not panicking Phil-”

Philza dares to take a small step forward. Though as soon as he does Wilbur lets out a low hiss as his eyes pulse green.

As soon as the phantom regains himself he whines and clutches his hair tighter. “It hurts Phil…”

And if Phil’s heart breaks at how sad and painful Wilbur’s voice is, only he needs to know. The phantom’s form continues to flicker in and out of existence as his breaths grow quicker. Wilbur works his way to the ground and curls into a pitifully small ball as he pulls at his hair.

Okay. Okay Phil can do this. Crowfather can do this. He can deal with pain. If he figures out why Wilbur is hurt and where he’s hurt he can fix this. He’s determined to fix this.

“Alright Wil, I’m only here to help kiddo-” Though he makes the mistake of taking another step forward.

Wilbur’s eyes begin to pulse again. Instead of hiss the phantom origin lunges forward with a screech. Phil’s wings expand on instinct and cover his body before Wilbur’s now claw-tipped fingers can swipe his face. Instead he feels them scratch into his wings.

It hurts for a moment, but more than anything it just stings. He peeks around his wing to try and see if Wilbur is alright.
Though the phantom is anything but as he fearfully stumbles away from Phil while staring at his hands like they’ve committed hundreds of atrocities. Phil wants to tell him it’s alright, wants to tell him that it’s nothing more than a scratch and that he’ll be fine, but he can’t. Not as Wilbur meets his eyes with fear and regret and pure unadulterated pain.

Then he’s gone.

Shit.

Oh shit.

It takes Phil a moment to realize that the phantom had disappeared before he moves into action. He leaves through the front door and doesn’t bother to close it before he runs outside into the chilled night air once again. His feathers bristle and he raises his hands to his mouth to call out for Wilbur, though before he can even make a sound a loud and horrifying screech cuts through the quiet night.

Phil snaps his attention to the creatures circling him from the sky, only visible by the light of the moon. Phantoms.

That’s the moment that the puzzle pieces fit together.

He doesn’t want to believe his realization, but as he rushes back into Wilbur’s library and closes the door he knows he’s right.

Phil.. PHIL was the one hurting Wilbur.

Without even knowing.

It was foolish of him to assume that Wil wouldn’t be affected by insomnia in the same way that normal phantoms are. It would explain the glowing eyes, and the hissing, and the pain.

Phil sucks in a breath, because as much as his bones ache for him to run out into the night to find Wilbur he knows there’s only one thing he can do to help. He tucks his wings to his side as he moves over to Wilbur’s spare bed and lays down.

In most situations like this it should be hard to sleep, but Phil knows this is the only way to help his frien- his son. This is the only way to help his son.

So Phil lets the exhaustion finally take him over, his only hope being that he’ll be greeted by warm brown eyes and a yellow sweater when he wakes.

Chapter Text

Green and brown figures blur past his face as he stumbles. Pain radiating through his being with each step, his foot catching on every bump and twig on the forest floor. He knows his breaths are becoming too ragged, too hitched, too bloody to be healthy.

Well… an arrow lodged in your lung wouldn’t exactly be considered healthy either, would it?

Wilbur almost gives in to the sensation of falling. He almost gives in to the tantalizing feeling of falling and slipping into unconsciousness. Letting his mind disconnect so he can just die already.

But he can’t.

Not yet because...

Because Tommy is still out there. Alone. And arrow to the lung be damned he will keep going until he finds his brother safe and hidden. Then.. then he can let himself go.

But for now he runs or- well he more so stumbles. He distantly thinks he must look drunk out of his mind. Gods does he wish he were drunk out of his mind instead of losing blood.

Wilbur wishes he could have celebrated a victory today. He wishes he could have smiled on the podium and hugged his little brother with everything he had. He wishes he could have announced his new cabinet and taken his country back into his loving hands.

But the people hadn’t wanted that and he supposes-

No.

No. He can’t do that now. He has to stay focused.

Wilbur begins to cough, quickly losing his balance and reaching for a tree in support. He numbly realizes that his invisibility potion is wearing off as he starts to see the flickering outline of his shaking fingertips come into view. With all of his weight leaned against the tree Wilbur looks at his surroundings through a hazed lens.
There are lots of what he thinks are trees, and there is some sort of small hill… thing in front of him. After a couple of blinks he begins to see a black spot etched into the side of the hill. A hole? Maybe a cave?

Though before his vision begins to drift off again, he spots a figure in a blue and gold jacket as it flickers in and out of existence. The figure- Tommy, slips into the hole in the side of the hole with what looks like a sword in hand.

That-

That was all he needed, wasn’t it?

Wilbur slowly allows himself to sink to the ground. The pain of breathing, moving, existing- it starts to fade. His body grows numb and his vision goes blurry. Maybe he’ll respawn and will be able to escape again. Maybe they’ll insta-kill him as soon as his body reforms. Maybe…

Maybe he’ll get to see his mom.

He smiles as he drifts. There are hands on his numb skin.

They are kind and gentle for a moment. Familiar claw-tipped hands that he knows he’s held gently as he spun his son around the room. Though they are quickly gone and replaced by firm hands that pull at his collar as he’s hoisted over someone’s shoulder.

He hears murmurs. He hears sobs and painful cries. There are some screams, a few of them sound familiar.

Though as the person who is carrying him drops him on his back, snapping the arrow in half and driving the broken shaft deeper into his wound, he doesn’t so much as flinch. It doesn’t hurt anymore, not really. He thinks that should be bad, probably.

He can’t see, or feel, or move, or hardly even hear… but for some reason he can recognize the voice of his previous-friend-now-enemy as Schlatt laughs somewhere beside him. The microphones carry the ram’s voice as he cackles.

“THIS? THIS WAS YOUR LEADER? YOU LOOKED UP TO THIS MAN?”

Something like a boot connects with his ribs, and his already shaky breaths begin to sputter.

“NOT ANYMORE! I, JSCHLATT, LEADER- NO- EMPEROR OF MANBERG, WILL RULE THIS COUNTRY WITH AN IRON FIST! AND I WILL LEAD THIS COUNTRY INTO A NEW ERA OF GROWTH, EXPANSION, AND PROSPERITY!”

Something clangs next to his head.
He can hear the pleading cries of the members of the original L’Manberg, and more than ever he wants to tell them it’s alright.

Schlatt is closer to him now. He’s not sure how he knows. Maybe it’s the smell of stale alcohol.

“The old ways… are dead. That’s how they’ll remain. Sorry Wilbur, it’s nothing personal.”

There’s a swoosh, and more screams.

Then the next thing Wilbur knows is that he’s waking up.

He can see a deteriorating cobblestone ceiling just above him, every crack and groove as his eyes adjust to the lighting. He can feel the heavy metal that rests on his wrists and ankles, brought together by chains wrapped around his neck.

Wilbur is no longer blind. He’s no longer numb. Though as he hears the cell door open and stumbled footsteps tap against the stone, he knows he’s helpless.

He remembers his brother… he’s safe. Tommy is safe.

That’s all he needs…

It’s all he needs.

Chapter Text

He likes these people.

They’re very nice, and one of them reminds him of his brother Techno! So that’s nice too.

Maybe this person is Techno…

He doesn’t think so though. Techno is younger than this person. Techno’s hair is also a different shade of pink with brown spots near the roots, mostly because they couldn’t afford the nice hair dye at the orphanage… and Wilbur didn’t know how to dye hair.

The person that looks like Techno is still talking to the other two people, so he’s not really sure what to do right now. Sometimes when the nice old people would come by to feed the birds by the docks he would listen to their stories and grow distant or… diss- dissociate? Yeah, dissociate. Then other times he would feel bad and gross when a person came by, and then a person would be napping in the water or behind a shop.

Though for some reason he doesn’t feel either of those ways with these people. He feels… nice. And warm. He likes warm.

He’s usually cold… and wet… and slimy.

The person that looks like Techno turns around and looks at him. Wilbur smiles, because he thinks he should. People are sad too often.

Though for some odd reason that makes Fake Techno look sad again, so Wilbur stops smiling. Fake Techno motions to the other two people to stay away as he moves closer. Maybe the Fake Techno wants to chat!

Techno always talked about his chat, so maybe Fake Techno would like to talk about his problems too!

Fake Techno stops just in front of Wilbur and shuffles a bit nervously. “Ah, Wilbur, do you think we could sit down and talk a bit?”

Wilbur nods happily and crosses his legs middair, letting himself slowly float to the ground as he clutches Friend tight. His clothes make an icky squelching sound as he touches the boards, which takes some of his joy of speaking with a person out of him.

Fake Techno looks mildly disturbed, but doesn’t say anything as he sits down on the musty dock boards as well. He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out his phone, pulling up some sort of app before looking up at Wilbur.

“Alright so can… can you tell me your name? Stuff about you and your past?”

Wilbur perks up a bit and sets down Friend so he can move his hands while he talks. “Yes of course! My name is Wilbur B. Soot and I have a brother, my twin, Techno B… well he just likes to go by his first and middle name. My brother and I were orphans and we lived in this city! We went to our parent’s graves a lot. We also came here to the docks during the summer a lot too! Techno always got peanut butter ice cream and I would always get mint ice cream and we would go play by the beach over there with Niki and Eret and Dream-“

Fake Techno is using one hand to swipe at his eyes while he holds up the other hand to alert him to stop, so he does. Though Wilbur cocks his head sideways in confusion. “I’m sorry, did I say something wrong?”

Fake Techno seems to swallow his sadness before he answers. “No, no Wilbur you’re fine. You said everything right. I just- I only have one more question okay?”

Wilbur nods, a smile creeping back onto his face. If the next question is like the last ones then he’ll enjoy this. He likes to talk about his past and his friends. They’re all so lovely and he can’t wait to see them-

“Wilbur, can you tell me how you died? Please?”

His smiles drops.

Fake Techno is no longer in front of him.

There’s a man that smells of alcohol and filth. He’s stumbling and shoving Wilbur and scolding him for being so loud during his performances. He had already shaken Wilbur of all of his earnings and beat the crap out of him for refusing to… give him… anything. But the drunk man is still slurring and smashing bottles and kicking Friend and ripping them.

Meanwhile Wilbur is crying and screaming and coughing but nobody comes to save him. Nobody can hear him or nobody cares. He’s shoved into a puddle and his clothes get all wet as he’s beaten into the ground. Then the man says something that Wilbur can’t hear and there’s a flash, then pain.

A knife is stuck into him.

That’s when he stops being able to feel. He can’t do anything as he’s lifted and carried. He can’t do anything as the knife is pulled out of him and his awareness starts to fade. He can’t do anything as his body hits the water and the liquid fills his lungs too quickly for him to call for help.

The waves are loud and screaming

And screaming

AND SCREAMING

AND SCREAMING SCREAMING SCREAMING

SCREAMING

SCREAMING SCREAMING

SCREAMING

SCREAMING SCREAMING SCREAMING

Wilbur blinks, then smiles at the figure in front of him. “I’ve forgotten, sorry. Maybe Techno knows? Do you know Techno? He’s my twin brother!”

Chapter Text

They are villains. At least, in the eyes of the public. Defined as: a character or person who’s evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

 

Though Techno would much rather define himself and his family as antiheroes. People who are relevant to the plot, the main characters in a sense, who lack the qualities and attributes of a hero.

 

Techno already knows he and his family don’t come off as exactly… friendly. His pseudonym is ‘Blood God’ and his powers don’t really help either. Withering touch and explosions “supposedly” aren’t considered friendly, and the added benefit of his shifting ability only being able to shift him into a large hulking pig man is also considered “scary”.

 

Though he could argue the others come off… friendlier-ish.

 

Phil being called ‘The Harbinger’ isn’t friendly… no. But his wings are very cool, and Techno would argue the literal blessing of death is pretty cool too. Though the public, sadly, disagrees. But the public has never seen Phil make cake in a pink apron while covered in flour, so they’re biased.

 

Tommy is definitely the friendliest. He goes by hundreds of different names though, to Techno’s misfortune. ‘The Bandit’, ‘The Magician’ and ‘Composter’ aren’t nearly as terrifying as the rest of his family’s pseuds, and for some reason Tommy is the only other one in the family, besides Wilbur, without a power related to death or destruction. The kid can turn any object into anything he wants, or make anything disappear. Truly, Techno thinks Theseus is a better name, but he also thinks Tommy is just a little shit.

 

And Wilbur is somehow the most feared out of all of them. Which is funny since he is- was the only other one in their family that decidedly didn’t kill or destroy. Wilbur could sing, or speak, or even hum and make anyone follow his commands without having to lift a finger. ‘Orchestrator’ had been a perfect title.

 

The problem is… it had been.

 

It still could be if Techno had been quicker.

 

If Techno had just answered the damn phone the first time instead of assuming Wilbur was messing with him again…

 

If Techno had just… said something. Even if he couldn’t have saved his brother he should have at least talked to him. Tried to ease his twins’ pain as he was trapped and burning alive thanks to the “heroes” the masses love to praise.

 

Which leads to why Techno is standing on the roof of a skyscraper as he watches the city burn. He acknowledges the tears that are flowing down his face, but he doesn’t move to wipe them away. No, they’re fuel. Fuel to help this city and it’s heroes burn in the same way they let his brother.

 

All of this damage and havoc and it’s only been a week… Wilbur’s only been dead a week and that’s all it took for them to plan this sort of revenge.

 

Techno knows in his heart that Wilbur would hate this, would yell at them for hurting innocent people and causing unnecessary damage. But Wilbur isn’t here.

 

The dam that was his twin had been torn down and all of the chaos and wreckage that made up Techno, Phil, and Tommy was let loose.

 

It was the heroes’ first mistake.

 

And they were already making another.

 

Techno peers down at the flames of the city and spots Harbinger flying in a circular pattern before diving down to the streets below. The signal that the heroes have arrived. He spots Theseus jumping across rooftops as he runs from 404 and Inferno. Though Techno’s attention shifts.

 

Familiarly feather-like footsteps scrape the concrete from behind him.

 

Techno grits his teeth, not turning to give the man any satisfaction.

 

“Blood God.”

 

“Nightmare.”

 

They stay silent for a moment, Techno never looking at the man yet never letting him out of perception. Though the silence is quickly broken as Techno’s comm crackles to life with Tommy’s breathy voice.

 

“HARBINGEEEEEEEERRRR, they won’t stop chasing me and my legs are getting tiiiired. Can you come pick big man Mr. Cums uuuup?”

 

Phil’s exasperated voice sounds next. “No Theseus I’m a bit busy with Warden at the moment. Also if you call yourself Mr. Cums or Cumposter again I will take away your comm privileges.”

 

“BUT HARBINGEEEEER-“

 

Techno clicks his comms off.

 

He can practically hear Nightmares smirk as the hero draped in green shifts. “Lively tonight, aren’t you all?”

 

This makes Techno turn. Not out of sake for keeping his enemy in sight, but out of rage. His grip on his axe shifting.

 

“I can’t say the same for my brother, you bastard.”

 

The masked hero breaks into a tea kettle laugh and never has Techno wanted to stab someone more than now- but that’s when he notices the man’s glowing eyes from underneath the mask.

 

Nightmare was a hero with a villain's name. A hero with a villain's powers. Yet he was praised by all for his abilities. Not the man’s insane talent in acrobatics and fighting, but the man’s ability to raise the dead and control them like puppets on a string.

 

Suddenly Techno feels as if he’s been dunked in an ice bath. A shiver shoots up his spine as Nightmare notices his revelation and tilts up his chin.

 

In a sing-song voice the hero calls over his shoulder. “~Oooh Orchestrator~”

 

Techno can feel his shifted form falter as dread, hope, fear, and panic all fight for purchase to wrap around his already bleeding heart. Then a brown mop of hair begins to rise over the edge of the building as boots against ladder rungs echo through his skull.

 

The familiar brown mop was the one he’s braided since they were young. It’s the same brown hair he’s brushed relentlessly and ran his fingers through whenever things went wrong. It was the same brown hair that he and his twin had shared at birth.

 

And as much as he wishes the figure with the brown mop, newly accented with a white streak and matted with soot, wasn’t Wilbur… he’d only be lying to himself.

 

Techno sucks in a breath as Wilbur’s boots hit the pavement. He looks the same as the day he’d left them. The only differences being the white streak and a line of stitches spanning from his forehead down under his eye to his jaw.

 

And the green eyes.

 

The ones that should be brown and that Techno knows are there but refuses to meet.

 

This is a losing battle. He knows.

 

He knows in the way he can feel his snout begin to shrink and his ears start to twitch. Nightmare has never known his weakness, but Wilbur had. And now Wilbur-

 

Wilbur belongs to Nightmare. He. Isn’t. Wilbur.

 

Though Techno’s body doesn’t understand the difference. Emotional turmoil is emotional turmoil, and unfortunately that is his only weakness.

 

So before Nightmare can even give his dead brother a command Techno bolts off of the side of the building. He jumps over to the next roof and tries not to stumble as he hears Nightmare cackle and shout orders from behind him.

 

Techno jumps roof to roof, fumbling with his comm as his rapidly shifting body jolts with every landing. He dropped the Axe of Peace at some point and he can’t seem to care. His breath is coming to him shorter as his human form starts to take over, but the tiny communicator finally flicks back on with a small beep.

 

“HARBINGER- GET… GET THESEUS OUT OF HERE. NIGHTMARE IS- HE HAS WIL-“

 

“Blood God are you alright- GAH! FUCK OFF! What did you say about Nightmare, mate?”

 

“I’m not leaving big man! You guys need my help-“

 

Techno jumps again, though this time he stumbles as his human legs give out on him. He hits the ground and ungracefully rolls to a stop with a grunt as another set of boots lands on the roof. 

 

“NIGHTMARE HAS WILBUR- HARBINGER GET THESEUS OUT OF HERE WILBUR IS-“

 

A hand meets his jaw and pulls his face up to meet sickeningly swirling green eyes. Wilbur smiles the way he always did when he would win in any of their games, like the Cheshire Cat. Then he reaches down and flicks off the communicator. “Hmmm… hush now Technoblade. Don’t want to ruin any surprises, do we?”

 

Techno couldn’t speak if he wanted to, but he’s not sure if he could with the way his stomach is churning.

 

Wilbur lets go of his face and rises from the knee he’d taken. His twin towers over him and holds out a hand, one covered in wrapped burns and tipped black with soot.

 

“Come with me now Blood God. Nightmare is in need of your services.”

 

Techno’s body begins to rise without him consciously moving a muscle. His hand reaches out on its own and intertwine’s itself with Wilbur’s hand like they had done when they were small.

 

Wilbur would drag him out into the backyard and show him his newest project with Phil, and Techno would always smile and tell him he had loved it.

 

Now Wilbur is dragging him to hell while living a dead man’s life, and Techno wishes nothing more than for everything to be a nightmare. Though unfortunately wishes do come true, but never in the way we hope.

 

After all, the heroes always win… and the villains always fall.

Chapter Text

If Ghostbur remembers correctly, they were looking for moss. He’s not exactly sure why though…

 

Tommy had just insisted that they go out and explore the terrain around logsteadshire today, so Ghostbur happily agreed. He loves getting to spend time with his brother, even if his brother sometimes doesn’t enjoy having him around. But.. that’s fine! Because Ghostbur knows how to make Tommy happy again.

 

“Did you know that anteaters are one of the only animals-“

 

“FUCKIN HELL GHOSTBUR NOT THE ANTEATERS AGAIN-“

 

Well, in Tommy definition: happy = angry… at least most of the time.

 

Ghostbur floats lazily backwards with a smile on his face as he looks up at the trees. “But Tommy I could talk about how much I hate anteaters aaaaaall day!”

 

Ghostbur glances over as the teen snaps a twig off of one of the trees and swings it like a sword through the air. “Memememe I’m Wilbur-“

 

“Ghostbur-”

 

“Right Ghostbur, sorry, and I like to bitch about anteaters and melt in the water and be a lil bitch boy.”

 

Ghostbur giggles and flips over to float on his stomach, kicking his translucent feet in the air lazily. “Oh no please don’t call me a little bitch boy. You’ll make me sad!”

 

Tommy just huffs playfully and rolls his eyes. “Whatever bitch boy. You see any moss yet, big man?”

 

Ghostbur looks away from the boy and scans the forest with his eyes before humming. “Nope! Probably because Moss only grows in caves, not in the forest.”

 

Tommy sputters beside him before a stick lightly thwacks his shoulder. “YOU COULD HAVE TOLD ME THAT THIRTY MINUTES AGO DICKHEAD!” The teen squawks.

 

Ghostbur huffs and closes his eyes before letting his semi-tangible body turn to float upright. His giggles peter off before he opens his eyes to find Tommy had stopped.

 

The blonde has his shoulders squared and is glaring at him, though a smile still wedges it’s way onto his face.

 

“You didn’t have to do that, Ghostbur.”

 

“You don’t have to do this Wilbur!”

 

Tommy point the stick at him, at his chest. And the stick- the sword - is practically begging to be driven through him.

 

Tommy- P-Phil - Tommy furrows his brow but doesn’t stop smiling. “You’re my brother man, how could you do that to me!”

 

“YOU’RE MY SON!”

 

Ghostbur doesn’t breathe, but his chest feels tight and it hurts .

 

He shouldn’t hurt but everything is getting blurry and colors start to blend. Though there’s an overwhelming amount of red ReD rE d REd

 

RED

 

RED

RED

 

REDREDREDREDRED

 

Then something touches his hand and he’s pulled back. There’s still so much red and he swears the sword is stuck in his chest still but there’s also…

 

Blue

 

Phil - Tommy is in front of him, curling his translucent hand around a solid chunk of blue. The- sword- stick is dropped and left useless on the forest floor.

 

Ghostbur blinks, then meets Tommy’s eyes. His little brother is scared for him and it breaks- Wil - Ghostbur’s heart.

 

He searches the teens eyes in the same way he knows the teen is doing to him. He reaches out and slowly pulls his brother into a hug before allowing a single tear to sizzle down his face as the familiar feeling of his memories turning to sand seeps into his skull.

 

He hugs his brother. Wilbur hugs him because he can’t help his brother, or tell him sorry, or even begin to try and explain himself. So he just silently whispers, “I’m sorry.”

 

Then the hourglass turns over, and Ghostbur smies.

 

“Oh, hello Toms! How are you today?”

Chapter Text

Wilbur desperately wishes he could have saved one thing before the world flooded.

 

Earplugs.

 

“THIRTY-FOUR BOTTLES OF AGE-APPROPRIATE DRINK ON THE WALL, THIRTY-FOUR BOTTLES OF AGE-APPROPRIATE DRINK! TAKE ONE DOWN, PASS IT AROUND, THIRTY-THREE BOTTLES OF AGE-APPROPRIATE DRINK ON THE WALL!”

 

Tommy pauses in his god-awful singing to take a deep breath. “THIRTY-THREE BOTTLES OF AGE APPROPRIATE DRINK ON THE WALL-“

 

Techno throws a rock across the small expanse of their raft that thwacks Tommy in the head. Tommy lets out a screech at him but the pinkette just smiles. “Finally, I figured out where the off button was.”

 

Wilbur chuckles from where he’s bent down at the edge of the ship to fix the ties holding the wood together, though he quickly forces down his giggles as Phil moves away from the mast and starts chastising Techno and Tommy.

 

“Techno don’t hit your brother with rocks.”

 

Tommy smirks while Techno throws up a hand to point at the other. “He was being annoying!”

 

The young blonde sticks out his tongue in victory, though is quickly shut down as Phil turns to him with a glare.

 

“Tommy, don’t be annoying.”

 

Tommy drops the victory act and gawks at their father while Techno fist pumps in the air. Which makes Phil sigh deeply and press his fingers into the bridge of his nose.

 

“Why can’t you two do something productive? Wilbur is doing something productive. Right Wilbur?”

 

He half-glances back at his father as he tightens the last knot and slips his finger into a single loop and pulls it up. He points to his two knots that are situated next to one another and the loop that rises up just behind them.

 

“Phil, I made the knots look like a penis!”

 

Their father groans and decides to just go back to working on the mast. Grumbling about ‘little-shits’ and ‘building a dad-raft’.

 

Tommy crawls over next to Wilbur and pokes at the vines tied around the wood. “I rather like the vine penis Wilbur. It is very, as the cool kids would say, ~aesthetic~.”

 

Wilbur rolls his eyes and shoves his hand into the teens hair to simultaneously ruffle it up and push him away. “You’re so stupid.”

 

Tommy squawks and tries to push him back but can’t reach as Wilbur extends his arm. He can hear his twin laughing from the side as Tommy’s face starts to turn red.

 

“WIIIILBUR YOU ASS LEMME PUSH YOU BACK!”

 

“Nope. Get longer smol boy.” Wilbur smiles.

 

“That’s what your mum said when I-“

 

“Tommy I will throw you in the ocean-“

 

“MEMEME IM WILBUR-“

 

Phil pipes up from the mast with an annoyed groan. “BOYS I WILL TURN THIS RAFT AROUND IF YOU BOTH DON'T STOP FIGHTING!”

 

“I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU TRY OLDZA-“

 

Tommy’s screech is cut off as the raft suddenly shutters. Wilbur instinctively puts a hand on his little brother’s back to keep Tommy stable, not noticing his own poor balance. He’s only on his knees, which quickly bail out on him with another sudden jolt. Then he’s sent sideways off the edge of the raft, though not before hearing Techno’s cry and his own frightened yelp.

 

“SHARKS! GRAB THE SPEARS WE NEED-“

 

He hits the water and is under before he could have taken another breath, the current dragging him deeper as it repeatedly beats him from every direction. Wilbur instantly shoots open his eyes and only partially regrets it as the salty water stings and warps his vision. Though as he looks up he notices he hasn’t gone too far below the surface.

 

Though the burning in his lungs that’s slowly getting harder and harder to hold kickstarts his brain.

 

He kicks his legs rapidly, swimming towards the blurry outline of the raft just on the surface, somehow not noticing the large torpedo shaped blur coming at him from his side.

 

Which makes it all the worse as he reaches the top. Hand breaking through to find purchase in one of his family member’s hands or even the side of the raft. Fingers feeling the breeze in the air as more of his forearm rises above the water. Familiar fingertips brush his own.

 

Then an unbelievable amount of pain shooting into his leg as the shark finds purchase in his calf.

 

The familiar hand reaches for him before he’s dragged back under by his attacker.

 

Wilbur loses the breath he’d been holding in as he reflexively screams, water instantly filling into his lungs and precious air bubbles floating up to the surface in front of his face.

 

He tries to focus through the pain as the shark wriggles and rips into his flesh. With a kick of his good leg he catches the shark in the side of the jaw, worsening the pain in his foot but making the shark loosen its deadly grip.

 

Wilbur dimly realizes that there’s blood filling the water around him but he can’t find it in himself to care as his lungs burn and the predators tears into his flesh. The edges of his vision are turning to static as he’s slowly suffocated by the expanse of ocean surrounding him.

 

His brain slows with each weak kick at the shark’s face, and the pain starts to fade. For a moment he can feel the water above and around him shift, then something long and sharp shoots through his declining vision towards the sharl… and he blinks. The shark is gone.

 

His muddled brain doesn’t truly process the arms around him or the shifting water as his consciousness slips from his fingers. Inky red water turning black as his body starts to fail him.

 

Wilbur hopes he can feel the breeze again one day.

Chapter Text

Life used to be colorful.

It used to be blue in the way Wilbur and his brothers would run under the sky on a sunny day. Blue like the flowers growing along the edge of the castle walls. Blue like Tommy and Phil’s eyes when they crinkled with smiles. Blue like the ocean waters he’d first met Sally by.

It used to be red as Techno would wrap them both in his overly soft cape during a storm while they binge watched episodes of Hell’s Kitchen. Red as he’d clean Techno’s swords for him when the other returned from battle. Red in the way that it was Tommy’s obnoxiously favorite color

It used to be yellow in the way Phil and Tommy would hug him and he’d run his fingers through their hair. Yellow as the afternoon sun as he would train with Techno until they were both covered in dirt and smiling through heavy breaths. Yellow as the golden gifts he’d to those closest to him as a show of affection.

It used to be green as he’d run through the hills of their kingdom with Eret, Quackity, and Niki at his side. Green as Phil’s favorite bucket hat that he explicitly wore during his “off-duty king hours”. Green in the same way that- well... green is no longer… he’d rather not think too hard on the color green.

Because life used to be a prism of colors that gave him motivation and hope for everyday onwards. A striving for accomplishment and joy so he could spread it to those around him.

Now, though?

Now life has one pallet. Life is black and white and overwhelmingly green.

Life is black as his dirty cell that chills his soul each night with an utter absence of light. Black as the soulless beady eyes drawn onto his captors mask. Black as the netherite chains that leave him helpless during “visits”.

Life is white like the streak in his hair that marks his return from death and remains a permanent reminder of how hopeless he is. White as the bones that crack under the force of each beating that Wilbur receives. White as his eyes roll into the back of his head as he breathes his last breath before being revived.

Life is green- no, not in the green way of hills, and hats, and happy memories. Green as in flashes of color before black is all he can see. Green as in garments worn by a man with no shame to his presence. Green is Dream. Green is the Trickster King.

His captor hasn’t let a day go by without a “visit”. And even if today of all days his world could be filled with rainbows and sunshine once again, Wilbur knows today wouldn’t be an exception either.

Especially not today. Because today is special.

Techno and Wilbur turn twenty-three today.

Usually this would be cause for celebration. Usually this would mean that Techno and Wilbur would be ushered out of the castle all day and led around the kingdom to engage in different festivities until later on the ballroom would be filled with people of all kinds and blaring music until the sun would be long set and the royal family would quietly open presents and bake together like a happy family should.

Though for his birthday Wilbur knows this year he won’t receive an intricately crafted guitar. He won’t receive one of Tommy’s masterfully knitted sweaters and a handful of “Tommy bucks”. He won’t receive a hug from his father and wonderful praises. He won’t receive a gold bracelet from his twin that match one another and forever connect them through a physical sign.

No, for his birthday this year Wilbur expects an axe to chest.

It’s what he’s received every day in this hell-hole. It’s what he’s to expect, and expect it he does.

He isn’t surprised as the door to his cell opens and emerald gilded dress shoes clack against the stone floor. He doesn’t look up to see the green man’s smile, neither the fake nor the real one. He doesn’t flinch (he definitely does) as Dream’s axe scrapes against the stone of the floor as the man drags it over like the predator he is.

Wilbur stares at his hands. He stares at his veins and his fingertips. Though the black-stained ends of his tiny appendages don’t test the boundaries of his daily color pallet, his ichor veins do.

Gold is not yellow. Gold is usually a happy thing for him. Gold is usually something that will comfort him when things get hard.

Though now it makes him sick to see the way it runs through his veins and shows through skin. It makes him sick to know that if he gets out of this alive then Dream and his “visits” will forever have an effect on him.

It’s to be expected though, he supposes. After teasing death for nearly a month. A month’s worth of totems being used to revive him time and time again just so he can eventually be used as Dream’s ultimate totem in the end?

Of course there would be side effects. The void clings to his skin like an old friend and every time he bleeds out with an axe through his chest the guards rush in to clean up the mess by storing his blood in vials to be later sold in the black markets of Essempi and beyond.

Wilbur looks up from his hands and into the green eyes of his ritualistic murderer. His voice is pitiful from disuse and abhorrent lack of water. Though he still chokes out, “I don’t want to die, or at least just leave me dead. That would be better.”

The man says nothing, only smiles wider.

“Please just tell me why! I’ll be quiet more! I’ll listen or- or do more tests and things like that just please tell me-”

There’s only a green blur before he feels the familiar weight of an axe where it shouldn’t be. His breath leaves him as he chokes. He’s done this dozens of times now, though the pain never grows less.

His life is fading as the blackness comes to claim him once again, though before he can be whisked away by death Dream is by face. The king grips the handle of the axe embedded in Wilbur’s chest, smile only growing as he watches the light in Wilbur’s eyes begin to fade.

“Wilbur, you’re the ultimate sacrifice, my little prince. My major play at taking what was once yours as being rightfully mine. I am the shepherd made for sacrificing all to gain my dues.”

Then his face goes dark, the shadows hiding his smile. His grip on the axe handle shifts.

“And you are my lamb.”

A totem is dropped in his lap with a cold weight.

“Happy Birthday Wilbur.”

Then the axe is ripped from his chest.

There is white hot pain, a green flash as footsteps echo out of the cell, ichor explosions from the totem he can no longer see.

Then finally the temporarily sweet kiss of death as the blackness encompasses him whole.

Chapter Text

When Wilbur was little his mother had spun him a story.

 

The world is magical, my little musician,” she said with sparkling eyes as she’d lightly pressed a finger to his nose, “and one day the world shared it’s magic with the humans.”

 

Wilbur had scrunched his nose and rested his face on her shoulder as he hummed in wonder. “Did the humans like the magic?”

 

His mother had stroked her hands through his hair with a smile, though at the time Wilbur hadn’t realized how strained it was. “Only some of them did. Some people… some people just don’t like magic, Wilbur. Which is okay, but… some people who don’t like magic hurt those who do have it.”

 

Wilbur had furrowed his brow at that and huffed. “But that’s mean! They didn’t even want it! Why would they hurt people who did?”

 

His mother had only sighed as she let him down from her lap and ushered him into his bed with a sad smile. “Nobody knows, my love. There are just good people and… and some very bad people. Never regret your gifts Wilbur. Never let anyone hurt you for them either.”

 

Wilbur remembers having nodded and then gone to sleep that night. He had been about six at the time. Tucked away in their little cottage on the edge of the woods with the promise to his mother to never use his magic outside of their own land. Hidden from the outside world in their small peaceful bubble outside of the village.

 

Now though, at the ripe old age of 18, Wilbur is standing on his porch with a pitchfork aimed at his face. Multiple, actually.

 

“Mrs. Nan, please I- I promise it isn’t what it looks like. She was using fishing wire and string-“

 

The older woman holding the pitchfork to his face scoffs and raises the pitchfork higher. “You expect me to believe that? Using fishing wire to raise a bucket from a well and stack hay at the same time, ha. I may be simple, boy, but I’m not stupid.”

 

Wilbur moves a hand behind him so that he can reassure his mother. “No, no you’re mistaken. Mother-”

 

A man from the back of the small crowd raises a sharpened hoe in the air with a cry. “SHE’S A WITCH! KILL THE WENCH!”

 

Wilbur feels his Mother stumble a bit as they’re backed off of their porch and further into their home. He stumbles inside and tries to reach back for her hand, though he swipes through thin air. He turns his head just enough so he can look back for his mother and watch the angry crowd in front of them. Though as he meets his Mother’s eyes, he loses all focus on the crowd in front of him in favor of the one that had appeared behind them from the backdoor.

 

“N- No Mum-” he stutters, reaching out for her as fat tears roll down her dirtied face.

 

The man holding her angles the knife, then drives it into her side before Wilbur can even move. The knife is pulled out, then stabbed back in. Over and over and over as Wilbur cries out and drops to his knees as the man releases her.

 

Wilbur crawls over to her body with shaking hands. He presses a hand on the wounds that he can, then uses the other to brush the hair out of her face as a sob gets caught in his chest. Because as he tries to hold in the blood that he can, he knows she’s already gone as he meets her eyes.

 

“No, no no no nononono- Mama?”, a whine escapes him as he feels her neck for any sort of pulse. “Mom you have to- you have to wake up. Come on-”

 

Her body jolts, and for a moment Wilbur’s muddled brain believes she’s waking up, then she jolts again and again and again. His mind finally catches up with the reality of their situation as a boot connects with his dead mother’s head.

 

They’re kicking her. She’s- she’s dead and they’re kicking her like she was some sort of criminal . As if she wasn't the woman that would come into town and share her earnings with the homeless and give bread to the children. As if she wasn't the woman that would drop anything for her neighbors to go help them when they were in need.

 

Wilbur’s sobs escape his chest as he moves to shield her, crying out as boots meet his back and sides repeatedly. An unfamiliar coldness washes over him, filling his soul with icy grief as he clutches his mother’s body closer. Wringing his hands in her blood-soaked dress like it's his last life-line.

 

The coldness continues to build with each and every kick until finally it explodes with a burst of energy.

 

STOP! STOP IT! LEAVE HER ALONE!

 

The kicks immediately stop, and a different type of coldness washes over him as realization sinks in. He’d… oh shit…

 

Wilbur opens his eyes to look at the crowd as dread seeps into his bones. The people from the back have pushed forwards, past the ones in the front who were now standing stock still with glazed gazes.

 

A man.. no.. the baker that had gifted him extra bread for his birthday every year, turns to face him as he evaluates the other people of the crowd. Then the baker’s face scrunches in disgust and horror as he cries out, “HE’S A WITCH! DONT GET TOO CLOSE OR HE’LL SPELL YOU!”

 

The crowd begins to back away, though Wilbur’s hands can’t stop shaking. He all but deserts his mother’s body to try and stumble away, but before he can even properly stand he’s shoved from behind. Then just as soon as his weary body meets the floor he’s bound in rope and being dragged towards the outside of his home. Wilbur can’t even put in the effort to kick and protest as sobs wrack his chest.

 

The townspeople have grown in number and he’d wager that he now had the whole of the village standing outside of his home waiting for him to be killed. At least he finally received some sort of attention from them, he supposes.

 

The person who had been carrying him slams him into one of the strong wooden beams that holds up his home with an intoxicated smile. They hold him in place and two other people wrap more rope around Wilbur to keep him secured.

 

Wilbur sobs turn to whimpers and pleads of pain as the ropes are pulled tight against his ribs. The tears rolling down his cheeks only strengthen and he’s somehow finally resorted to squirming to get free as the people around him begin to move away.

 

“Please, please I didn’t- I never hurt anyone- I’m just a sound witch please- I won’t hurt anyone I swear-“

 

The woman who owns his favorite flower shop pulls a match from her pockets and lights it with a sinister smile. Men from the town rip up the planks that make up the stairs to his porch and place them around the beam and stuff paper or straw between the cracks.

 

Then just as the men move far enough away, the woman tosses the match.

 

Wilbur doesn’t watch as it hits the deck, or as the straw and paper quickly catch and begin to burn at the wood near his feet. Instead he keeps his eyes on the crowd.

 

It could be the smoke that’s slowly billowing into his face or maybe he’s seeing things, but the crowd is slowly growing smaller and smaller until his yard is barren and heat attacks him from all sides.

 

They… left. They left him to burn and won’t even bother to bury him or his mother…

 

Wilbur hangs his head, both from the immense shame and grief that coils in his chest like a viper and the gradually growing weakness in his bones. He knows he promised mother to never let anyone hurt him for his gifts, but today he’d been forced to break that promise and he’ll die for it.

 

A tear slips down his face as a shuddering sigh leaves him. He’s not ready to die. He’s not ready to feel the flames consume his body and send him to an early death. He’d been planning to travel the world, make new friends, leave behind the shithole village that forced them into constant hiding. Though it seems as if he’s to be forever stuck in this home.

 

Wilbur tries to turn his head as his eyes droop, yearning to look back into his home one last time to see his mother before he dies. Though the strain of lifting his head is too much and he lets himself start to go limp.

 

There’s noises coming from the yard, but Wilbur can’t bring himself to even try to look up. The flames at his feet are crackling and making the bare skin turn red, though for some reason he can’t feel the pain that’s supposed to come with the burns.

 

The noises get louder and there’s a few frantic voices, but Wilbur figures it must just be the townspeople arguing over who gets to keep the bounty for killing two witches. Then there are more loud thumps. Then the ropes around him are cut.

 

Wilbur begins to bonelessly fall into the flames beneath him, closing his eyes out of exhaustion and acceptance. Though before he can hit the fiery porch he’s swept up by a pair of strong arms. His form is mangled to fit snuggly into the person’s chest as they move out of the flames, the heat no longer sucking his life away.

 

He tries to open his eyes and thank whoever had decided to save him, but all he can manage is a weak cough-like-wheeze. The person holding him says… something, but Wilbur’s ears are filled with too much cotton to even begin to process the words.

 

Wilbur falls into some sort of numb-state as the person continues to carry him. All he knows is that this person smells of hay and iron… blood?

 

He doesn’t next become aware until he’s shifted and then placed on some sort of cloth on the ground. A hand brushes at his hair and wipes at a cut that Wilbur had gotten while protecting his dead mother. There’s a soft sigh and something all too similar to that of a birds coo. Though as static begins to fill his brain the voice of the person above him breaks through like an angel shunning away the dark clouds of a storm.

 

“Don’t worry kiddo, we’ve got you.”

Chapter Text

If anyone had told Tommy a year ago that his family would be ranked as the number one superhero team in the city, he would’ve laughed and told them they were an idiot. Though quickly after his powers manifested his father, Phil (yes THE Philza Minecraft aka professional hero Hardcore), got him into a hero training course and began bringing in recruits for some big plan.

 

Turns out the big plan had been creating a Hero program for everyone in the greater Essempi. That had been a big deal.

 

Recruits had quickly flooded in to try and grasp for spots on Philza’s team, but nobody had seemed to fit his father’s standards and instead would be placed into different divisions of hero teams of their own. Everyone was either “too arrogant” or “not friendly enough”. Though, that was until Technoblade walked through HQ’s doors with four highly known and feared villains dragging by their collars.

 

At the time Tommy had argued that Techno didn’t fit the bill at all, not anymore than the others had. Prime the guy spoke in third person and went by “BloOd GoD”. What could be more prick-like?

 

But after a-erm… particular incident… Tommy figured Techno wasn’t all too bad. He’d talked with his father and they welcomed Techno into their team (family) with open arms.

 

Then that was it.

 

Or.. it was supposed to be.

 

They had decided three was good enough… until exactly one month later a certain new vigilante began pestering Techno in his patrols of the fourth district.

 

The man had gone by “Phantom”. He would appear and disappear into thin air, always showing up at the right time to stop a villain and then disappear before any hero or police officer could get close enough to see him. The only reason they even knew of the vigilante was from bystander footage. Well… and his regular talks with Technoblade on random rooftops.

Which, of course, Techno had sworn not to tell his family about. Though when Techno was incidentally drugged during a mission he had managed to let the secret slip. Techno had been more than delirious, but continuously called this random vigilante “brother” or “best friend” and would get pouty when Phil or Tommy doubted him.

 

So as Phil finally found out about the vigilante he instantly wanted to invite him to the team. At first Phantom had been wary because Techno had blatantly broken their promise, but… over time he began trusting them and slowly grew to be a major part in all of their lives.

 

Then he’d been kidnapped and unmasked.

 

The hero team SBI and all of Essempi found out at the same time that the beloved vigilante of the fourth district was none other than Wilbur Soot who that same day, after he was rescued and healed, was drafted into the hero program out of necessity. At face value nobody would’ve thought twice, sure it’s some random dude, it was to be expected that Phantom had to be someone. But with a dip into history and a quick background check anyone would know that Wilbur Soot was supposed to be dead.

 

Though, to Tommy’s fortunate-misfortune, the fucker is alive.

 

“Awww Toms, did you just call me Wilby?” Phantom’s voice crackles over the comms.

 

Tommy huffs and rolls his eyes, even though Phil is the only one who can see it. “Fuck off Wil-BUR! I didn’t call you Wilby .”

 

Phil chuckles under his mask and shifts his wings as he crouches on the edge of the roof. “You absolutely did, mate.”

 

Tommy plops down next to him and swings his legs over the edge with a groan. His black sneakers tap against the wall as he kicks back and forth. “Whatever man! Aren’t you busy Wilbur? Findin’ bad guy’s n’ shit?”

 

A sigh crackles over the comms. “You’re so boring, Innit. I’ll also have you know Tech and I just cleared district three-”

 

A large bang cuts Wilbur off as a plume of smoke and screams rise from someplace a few streets away from Phil and Tommy. The plumage rises high over the rooftops and more screaming can be heard as multiple flashes of light go off in random bursts.

 

Innit clicks the button on his wrist and shoots to his feet. “Shit- Holy fuck something just blew up here in fourth. Two streets down from 27th, north east towards-”

 

Wilbur cuts him off once again. “Towards the market?!”

 

“Y-yeah but it’s alright Wil we can-”

 

“No... No, Blood God and I will be there in a few minutes. Innit stay with Hardcore and scope the situation until we get there.”

 

There’s a beep, and then the comm disconnects.

 

Tommy sighs and grabs onto his father as Phil lifts his wings and takes off towards the explosion. Phil carries him from under the armpits and dips into more of a glide as they get closer to a clear street they can land on. That’s when a fireball flies past Tommy’s face, nearly singeing off some of his hair, and just over Phil’s shoulder.

 

“SHIT-”, the older curses as he quickly wraps around Tommy protectively and goes into a dive towards an alley. Feathers fill his vision as they tip sideways and his gut rises up into his chest as they fall. He catches his breath, squeezing his eyes shut as the ground gets closer.

 

They land a bit roughly, but Phil quickly lets go of Tommy as they skid to a stop so he can move in front of him to assess the attackers. Now as Tommy stumbles to regain his balance he hears the maniacal laughing more clearly than ever, how he hadn’t heard it before was beyond him, but he can clearly hear it now as he and Phil move closer to the wall of the alley. Hardcore leans out from behind the wall, and Tommy just barely leans out from behind him like a little kid hiding behind their dad.

 

He isn’t a kid though.

 

He’s a big man… surely he is. But unfortunately he isn’t the only big man on the street.

 

A broad-shouldered man that looks to be all muscle and no brain steps out from behind a car. His cut off and ragged flannel, gnarly white undershirt, chains, and spiked up brown hair making him look like the highschool bully from just about any coming-of-age movie ever. Though this guy is just the bully on about six packs of steroids.

 

“YEAH FUCKERS YOU WANT MORE?! YOU WANT THE HEAT BABY?”

 

The man extends an arm to shoot at an emptied building, cackling as the place blows up and another plumage of smoke shoots into the sky.

 

Phil presses on his side and they shift back into the alley a moment before he turns around. “Right, Innit, here’s the plan. I use my wings and get up in front of the guy to distract him while you go around behind and use your power to subdue him, alright mate? I know it’s pretty simple but we just need to stall until Blood God and Phantom get here. Make sure you watch for the signal, ‘right?”

 

Tommy gives the plan a mental once-over before nodding. “M‘kay, be careful?”

 

His father smiles and swipes a hair from his face. “Of course kiddo.” Then Phil stands and extends his wings before stalking out of their hiding spot. Tommy can hear the meatheaded guy scoff and begin to insult Phil, but Tommy blocks it out as he moves to shuffle up the side of the building they had landed by.

 

His foot slips a bit on one of the ladder rungs, but he quickly pulls himself onto the rooftop before ducking behind an airconditioning unit. As the man hurls insults at his father Tommy slinks to the other side of the roof before shimmying down a fire escape. He presses himself against the wall as he peeks around the side of the building.

 

Hardcore’s wings are fully extended, black feathers reflecting the flames surrounding him and the villain. He dodges every fireball with ease, even laughing as the villain grows more and more frustrated. The signal is quick, barely noticeable and completely unrecognizable if you aren’t looking for it. Phil flicks his hands up in a grand gesture, then tilts his head upwards. Then he smiles.

 

Tommy darts out from behind the building and makes a leap for the villains back. He wraps his legs around the man’s neck as the villain is caught off-guard, then presses his hands to their skull. It only takes a couple seconds of minute resistance, but then the villain starts to collapse.

 

Innit jumps off of the now paralyzed villain and looks up to Hardcore with a smile. “Easy! Phantom doesn’t even need to come!”

 

Phil lands next to him and places a hand on his shoulder, though just as he goes to answer a low chuckle echoes down the street.

 

Tommy spins, instinctively moving closer to his father. Multiple figures emerge from between the dark building on the other side of the street. Though the laughing man clearly draws all of the attention to himself.

 

The man stalks down the street uncaring. As if he isn’t going head on towards two highly ranked heroes. “I have to disagree, Innit.”, he says as he opens his arms wide to bring attention to his companions, “Phantom needs to come greet his favorite band of ne’er-do-wells.”

 

Tommy scoffs. Cocky bastard, thinking he was… what? Wilbur’s nemesis?! Who the fuck even tries to be a nemesis?

 

The man stops short of them a good distance away. He glances down at the villain they’d defeated, purple eyes only scanning over the paralyzed man for a moment before glancing back up to them.

 

“So… you defeated Havoc. Impressive. Did you know that he used to fight alongside your dear Phantom? Hm? Did you know Phantom recruited him to cause chaos when we were teenagers? Did you know that we all were-“

 

“That’s enough Oreli.”

 

Tommy turns to face Wilbur as he flickers into existence beside Phil. Techno lands next to him seconds later with an annoyed huff and a grumbled, “...left me behind, asshole.”

 

The villain in purple smiles, flipping his orange scarf over his shoulder dashingly. “Ah, Wilbur! Welcome to the party!”

 

Wilbur doesn’t give him the satisfaction of a response, only glaring daggers into the Oreli guy’s face. There’s something brewing under the other’s skin and Tommy can sense it, but he supposes this isn’t exactly the right time to be asking about things.

 

Tommy takes the tense moment, the build up before the inevitable fight, to survey the villains in front of him. Havoc is the guy he’d already paralyzed, so that was one down. Oreli was obviously the leader and he seemed… normal, in the sense that he might not have powers. Then there’s the girl next to him that has bird wings who looks nice enough, even a little anxious. A blonde guy stands next to her and he honestly just looks like a crazed lunatic more than anything. Though the man next to the lunatic looks like he’s been pulled straight from some kind of steampunk convention. 

 

Weirdos.

 

Innit sweeps his eyes over the villains one last time, then rolls back his shoulders. Confidence. Yeah, he’s fucking confident. Confident he’s gonna whoop some ass.

 

Then before he can even move the bird girl darts forward. Phil lunges to meet her, feathers meeting feathers as they clash. The next to move is Oreli and it seems like Wilbur is going to take him, but Techno bumps the other out of the way and fights the man himself. Wilbur huffs but quickly switches to going after the steampunk guy. Which leaves Tommy with the lunatic.

 

Fantastic.

 

Tommy springs forward to try and get an advantage over the man, cutting him off before the villain can join the steampunk in double-teaming Phantom. They stare at one another for a moment before the man comes at him.

 

Innit ducks away from the mans touch, taking the opportunity to grab at his belt for his staff. He extends it with the push of a button and spins away from the man as he reaches for him again.

 

Tommy chuckles, “Jeez man, you kinda suck at this whole villain thing. Ya look like a chicken without a head.”

 

The lunatic smiles, though his eye twitches. His blonde hair is messy and his green sweater was just… ratty. Though the guy stands tall and acts like he’s some kind of puppet on a string. “I was in there for so… so long… you wouldn’t understand.”

 

Innit scrunches up his nose because… okay, that wasn’t an answer but whatever. “M’kay, you’re done big man. If you wanna play tag then we can play tag, you’re it”

 

The lunatic grins and runs at him again. Tommy jumps away again. They do this over and over and over, like some kind of bullfighting ring. Eventually, Tommy decides to let down the act.

 

As the man runs at him again, Tommy feigns not dodging in time and lets the guy graze his arm. For some reason the guy smiles like he’s won a prize, but Tommy couldn’t feel better. “Alright! You got me big man! Now… I’m it.”

 

Tommy leaps at the man before he can dart away, snatching the guy and dragging him to the ground before he can escape. He quickly presses his hands to the guy’s head and focuses his energy. That’s when he realizes something is wrong.

 

His vision blurs, and suddenly the earth feels as if it’s tipping on its axis and taking him with it. Tommy tries to focus harder on sending his power into the crazy in man, but the vertigo is making his mind reel. Though he knows this has to be the man’s doing, so he grits his teeth and pushes everything he can muster into the lunatic before letting go.

 

The vertigo stops, and he closes his eyes in relief.

 

“TOMMY!”

 

His eyes fly open, then everything moves faster than he can comprehend.

 

Techno is on the ground, collapsed against a wall but still getting up.

 

Oreli has a gun.

 

Oreli has a gun aimed at Tommy .

 

Phil is in the sky fighting the bird woman, too far away.

 

Wilbur is nowhere to be seen.

 

BANG

 

There’s a bullet flying at him.

 

Wilbur is standing where he hadn’t been before, and the bullet hits the wrong target.

 

Then everything slams into him all at once, like a rubber band snapping. 

 

Wilbur is right in front of him, he’s right there standing like the hero he is. But his eyes are dead. They’re soulless as they stare through him, mocking him with their lack of light and color as his newest brother falls.

 

Wilbur… Wilbur is…

 

The crushing pain of loss strikes him harder than any bullet as he reaches out, knowing he’s already too late.

 

NOOOOOOOO! WILBUR!

 


 

“Hello, this is Walter Crondale with Channel 103 News. Today is a sad day for all of us here in Essempi. Today we mourn the loss of the new and beloved hero Phantom, otherwise known as Wilbur Soot. His funeral was held earlier this morning. Wilbur was originally from the fourth-district. He was an aspiring musician and his parents-”

 

Tommy pushes past the reporters, trying to block out their voices as they report about Wilbur like they actually knew him. Like they were the ones who watched him… who had…

 

Tommy sniffles, squeezing his father’s hand tighter as they make their way through the crowd of fake fans and wanna-be’s. All of these people trying to get their five-minutes-of-fame off of his dead brother’s funeral.

 

He pulls ahead of Phil and Techno, not bothering to wait for them before entering the protected room so he can say goodbye one more time before the burial starts. Though as he steps into the room, he quickly realizes he isn’t alone.

 

Purple light fills the dark room in swirls around a figure over his brother’s body. The figure turns, purple eyes meeting blue. Oreli smiles at him, removes his hand from his brother’s casket, then flickers out of existence.

 

The world falls out from under him, his thoughts spiraling because that- that bastard . That absolute dickwad . He can’t just-

 

Then a hushed breath whisks by his ear and an invisible weight is pressed into his side. A gun… most likely the same one that- it presses harder. Then there’s a whisper, “...I wasn’t aiming for you.”

Chapter Text

Bees.

 

So… so many bees.

 

Yellow and black and more yellow. He tries to swat at the nasty bees, but a hand stops him before he can hit it. The heat from the hand makes him feel uncomfy, so he squirms and whines until they let go.

 

“...bur you can’t… not feel… hot.”

 

The bees continue to float by his face and make weird noises. His head hurts enough without the bees. He scrunches his nose as a big bee moves close to his face. Though, Wilbur smiles as the big bee touches his forehead. The bee is cold, and he supposes that maybe it’s okay. 

 

“T’bbo like.. Da bee..”, he giggles as the bee floats away from his face.

 

He wonders why Tubbo isn’t here. Tubbo might be here. Is that why there’s bees?

 

Hand comes back and moves the bee out of his vision, touching his forehead quickly before putting Stick on his head. Then the bees make more noise.

 

“He doesn’t…he… something... bees? Maybe he… time. Run… down.”

 

The bees land on his face again, but before he can make them leave Hand touches his shoulders.

 

Wilbur whines uncomfortably as more Hand move under him and make his body move.

 

“Why…. tall motherfucker… bullshit! Big men… poggers.. Sick.”

 

Wilbur’s feet hurt as color moves and turns and twists. Then the bees come back to his face and are even colder. He doesn’t know why the bees and Hand bother him. He just wants to sleep.

 

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

 

Selp. Ha… that’s not a word.

 

“Wil… can.. up?”

 

Maybe if he is really sleepy the bees will go away. If he goes dead like… like a possum.

 

“W-... FUCK! ...bur get… being a bit-”

 

“...mmy don’t say...at. Should… doctor?”

 

Wilbur groans as the bees stay by his face. Annoying little assholes.

 

They buzz a lot. Just like how the hands move a lot. Even now they pull him around and lift him up. Then the air turns cold and he wonders if the bees even like the cold. Bees are allergic to cold, right?

 

Or… is Wilbur allergic to cold? Is he gonna allergic?

 

The cold is gone as he’s sat down on a moving couch. The bees followed him wherever the hands carried him and are still buzzing. The bees are so annoying.

 

Wilbur raises his hand to swat at the bees again, but Hand stops him. He huffs. “D’ be mean Hand.”

 

A bee laughs at him, but Wilbur doesn’t care anymore because now Hand is annoying. Wilbur slaps at Hand, but Hand doesn’t move and the bees just keep laughing. Wilbur whines because now the bees are annoying.

 

“...oys are you… ackmail? Your brother… the hospital and… etting blackmail?”

 

The bees buzz by his ears, which makes his head hurt a lot. Wilbur shutters as his brain flicks on and off like a lightswitch. Maybe the bees were messing with his brain. Nasty bees.

 

Cause now his head hurts a lot… really a lot. So much that Wilbur doesn’t bother Hand anymore. Maybe if he naps then his head won’t hurt. If he naps then Hand can’t poke at him and he won’t hear the bees. He likes naps.

 

Wilbur shuts his eyes, letting his bones go into soup-mode. He likes naps, but it sounds like the bees don’t. 

 

Oh well.

Chapter Text

The smoke billows from his mouth and up into the chilly night air. Though he supposes it isn’t exactly “night” anymore. Dawn should be breaking soon.

 

Wilbur drops the cigarette into the rocks and stamps it out with his boot. The glow of the bud fading out with each turn of his heel. It could be symbolic, he supposes. Symbolic in many ways.

 

He stampes the light out like Tommy says he crushed all hope and prosperity that he had left.

 

The light of the toxic stick of death is crushed beneath his heel like Phil had ended his own toxic life.

 

The cigarette is crushed and curled the same way that he and his companions had been as the walls of the control room opened wide.

 

It lays on the ground, now cold and dead like his ghost had been as the pitiful thing had watched L’Manberg be destroyed.

 

Wilbur looks away from the cigarette in the rocks. He’s never liked symbolism anyways. Which, definitely was a lie, but he supposes he only promised Tommy that he wasn’t lying to anyone else. Not himself.

 

He takes one last glance back at the burger van before deciding there’s nobody who would miss him much if he just went for a walk. Plus, nobody was awake anyway.

 

Wilbur starts off on the small stone path that leads into the woods behind the van. He passes by Ranboo's coat and hopes the young Enderman-hybrid is asleep like the rest of the world. Void knows that the kid doesn’t nearly sleep as much as he should, not to mention the whole enderwalking thing that Ranboo thinks he doesn’t know about.

 

Wilbur looks away from the jacket and continues on. He won’t be gone long, he doesn’t think. He just needs some air. He just needs to get thinking about… everything really. His mind wanders as he enters the forest's edge.

 

His nightmares are more frequent, lately. And they aren’t ever about just one event. It’s either the control room and his death, or the control room and the destruction of L’Manberg, or the control room and the feeling of Dream’s hands around his neck as the wall of lava cuts him off from Tommy-

 

No matter what nightmare it is, everything always leads back to the control room. He curses Eret for betraying them and he could do with never seeing them again. Though… he’s had his time to go over the betrayal like a video on loop in his mind.

 

He understands why they did it. He does. He also can’t shame another traitor, for he himself is one. Though the difference is that Wilbur couldn’t even live with his own betrayal. Eret got time among the living to try and make up for his betrayal, which in the end truly wasn’t all that significant… was it?

 

One of the most traumatic experiences in Wilbur’s life really… hadn’t been significant. Huh. Great.

 

And while on top of that he realizes his betrayal hadn’t been all that fan-fucking-tastic either, had it? It all was blown to smithereens anyways! The home he’s created held more bad memories than it had good. What even was the point of it all?

 

Did he even have to die? Did he have to ask Phil to kill him? Did everything he’d done as a general and as a president really amount to shit? None of the connections he’d made along the way mattered at this point either! He’d severed those the moment he’d betrayed everyone.

 

Wilbur stumbles over a root he hadn’t seen. Knocking him from his spiraling thoughts and sending him into a gentle collision with a tree. His breathing is sporadic, coming out in small puffs like he’s still smoking.

 

He puts a hand to his chest, just over his scar, and another on his head. Things are spinning a bit but he’s never felt clearer. He’s figured it out, hasn’t he??

 

Everything is pointless. He’s worthless. Nothing he has ever done is… it meant nothing. He has no purpose.

 

Wilbur slides down the tree to land his ass on a patch of moss and roots. He tries to quell his tears by latching the fingers on his head into his hair, though it doesn’t help. The blue stained tears fall even as he tries to swipe them away.

 

He’s manic, he knows he’s just fucking crazy but Void he can’t… it can’t all have been for nothing? Right?

 

A sob escapes his chest, and he almost lets himself breakdown. Though a young voice rises over the trees and heartache calling his name.

 

“WILBUR! WILBUR WHERE ARE YOU BITCH?! I NEED TO TALK TO YOU!”

 

Wilbur sobers as Tommy’s voice eagles through his brain. Tommy… Tommy doesn’t even trust him anymore. Tommy fucking hates him. But… his brother needs him, so who is he to deny him that.

 

Wilbur shakily stands, helping himself up by balancing against the tree. His light limp doesn’t exactly help as he takes his first few steps forward. Muscle atrophy is a bitch.

 

Wilbur finds the stone path again and walks back towards the van. He wipes his face with his sleeves and tries to swallow down the existential crisis he’s having as the picnic tables come into view, as well as the blonde that's sitting on top of one.

 

“Wil! You bastard, I thought you up-n’ died again!”

 

The blonde hops off of the picnic table and comes dashing towards him, though he starts to slow as he gets closer. His brows furrow and he comes to a stop just in front of him.

 

Wilbur just smiles at him. “Hey Tommy, sorry I was just… walking. Thinking about things. Why are you up so early? Don’t you still sleep till noon?”

 

Tommy frowns. “Wil… it’s like eleven-thirty… you alright?”

 

Wilbur waves a hand through the air and averts his eyes. “Yeah, yeah of course. Must have lost track of time.”

 

There’s silence for a moment, Wilbur looks back at Tommy. His brother is staring at him with something akin to concern, but Wilbur knows that’s not it. It can’t be.

 

“Wilbur, you said you wouldn’t lie to me, right?”

 

He blinks, feigning a laugh. “Yeah Toms. The new me! The truth and nothing but the truth. May as well call me ‘Truthbur’ while your- “

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Wilbur pauses. He doesn’t look his brother in the eye as he swallows the bile in his chest. “Fit as fiddle. Limbo did wonders for my physical sta-“

 

“Wilbur.”

 

He takes a breath. “I’m… having a bit of a hard time. Nothing I can’t handle.”

 

There’s silence again before a hand wraps around his wrist. He expects Tommy to yank on it, telling him that he’s pathetic for having problems as an adult. But the hand is gentle and only taps him to get his attention.

 

Tommy is staring at him with a seriousness he’s never seen on his brother’s face. There’s also an element of sadness but Wilbur decides to ignore it. “Wil… you can talk to me about that, y’know? And, if you don’t wanna talk to me you could always go to Puffy.”

 

Wilbur huffs. “Puffy? The pirate-goat lady? What’s she have to do with anything?”

 

Tommy sighs and gives him a pointed look. “Look prick I know I’ve shown you her office. She’s a therapist… and a ram, not a goat.”

 

Wilbur scans over his brother for a moment. “And you know this…”

 

He rolls his eyes. “She’s my therapist, dumbass. And I think she’d be good for you too.”

 

Wilbur takes a shaky breath. His little brother really does think he’s crazy, huh? Send him to therapy, ha, Wilbur is an adult. He doesn’t need help. He’s won fucking wars. Well, one, and apparently it was pointless.

 

Wilbur licks his lips before chewing on them as he thinks. “Therapy… has it helped you?”

 

Tommy nods, just barely tightening his grip on Wilbur’s wrist. “Yeah, and it’ll help you so much big dubs. ‘Cause- ‘cause I know you have your whole self-deprecating attitude and ‘I-don’t-have-problems-cause-I’m-Wilbur-mehmehmeh’ thing going on, but… I still..”

 

Tommy shifts and looks away from him. “… I still care about you. And you aren’t allowed to fuck off again, okay?”

 

Wilbur stills, the shock of Tommy’s admission still sinking into the inner-workings of his mind. It doesn’t make sense. It really, really doesn’t make sense. But… if Tommy really…

 

“Okay.”

 

Tommy looks back up at him, his eyes shining. “Really?”

 

Wilbur sighs. “Yeah… sure. TherapyArc bros?”

 

Wilbur raises a fist with a smile, and Tommy bumps it with his own fist.

 

“Yeah, TherapyArc bros. Right brothers we’ll be.”

 

Wilbur turns away and puts a hand to his forehead with dramatic flair. “Don’t say that, I’ll cry.”

 

“Bitch.”

 

“Child.”

 

“Oldbur.”

 

“Oldbur?”

 

“Yeah, Oldbur.”

 

Wilbur grumbles, but smiles. “Whatever, gremlin.”

Chapter Text

“WILBUR STOP IT YOU IDIOT!”

 

The brunette giggles and tosses another handful of mud at him, landing square on his right shoulder with a disgusting ‘plop’. Then he quickly moves to get away as Techno gets up to chase after him.

 

Techno tries not to let a smile slip onto his face as he chases his twin brother. Though his attempts quickly fail as Wilbur’s foot catches on a stray tree root and he’s sent face first into a large puddle. The brunette sputters as he lifts his face from the water and wet hair drips into his eyes. “Ewwww”, he whines as he wipes the dry side of his arm across his face. It leaves streaks of dirt across his face and makes him look like he’d crawled out of a hole.

 

Techno giggles and grabs Wilbur’s shoulder to help him up. “That’s what you get for getting me dirty! Now you’re even more dirty.”

 

Wilbur scrunches up his face into a pout before smiling. “Yeah well… YOU’RE IT!”, he shrieks. Poking Techno in the arm before dashing away into the forest.

 

Techno knows he should call after his brother because they aren’t allowed in the forest, but he can’t just lose at tag. He’s never lost at tag. So Techno sprints off after his brother without so much as a glance back at their house.

 

He dodges the trees with ease as he chases after his brother’s laughter. Though the further they run the more shadows stint his vision. The trees are growing thicker and thicker and Techno can just barely see Wilbur’s white shirt through them as they run. The further they go the more noises Techno starts to hear as well. He nearly stumbles as something like a hiss comes from a bush that he runs past.

 

It’s only a few more seconds of running before Techno realizes he can’t see his brother anymore. He turns a circle as he comes to a stop, trying to figure out where he was. Does he even know where home is from here?

 

A bush rattles a short ways away from him, making him jump. He backs up slightly, not because he’s scared… definitely not.

 

“Wilbur? Wilbur this isn’t funny! We’re really far from the house and… and I don’t wanna play tag anymore!”

 

His brother doesn’t respond, but something hisses from a tree somewhere behind Techno. He spins around but again sees nothing but shadows. “Wilbur, I don't wanna play anymore! We aren’t even supposed to be here!”

 

A twig snaps behind him and Techno whirls around to face whatever monster is coming to eat him, but comes face to dirty face with his brother. Wilbur’s eyebrows are scrunched together in worry. “Are you scared Techno? I didn’t mean to make you scared.”

 

Techno reaches out for his brother and pulls him into a hug as he relaxes. Wilbur’s shirt makes a squishing sound that makes him cringe, but he doesn’t stop holding his brother. “I’m not scared… just worried for you.”

 

Wilbur lightly pats him on the back. “Oh, okay. We can go home then. It is kinda scary here, plus I think Dad will be grumpy cause we came here.”

 

Techno pulls away from the hug and turns to look at the area they’re in as Wilbur stands by a tree. Techno looks away from his brother and moves towards a different part of the area. “Wilbur, do you remember which way home is?”

 

His brother hums from somewhere behind him. “No… do you think if we call for Dad he’ll hear us?”

 

Techno snorts. “I don’t know. Maybe he will, but if there’s monsters like he said-”

 

“DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD”

 

“Wilbur stop it! You’re being really loud!”

 

“That’s the point Techno!”

 

“Bur what if the monsters-”

 

“DAAAADZAAAAAAAAAAA”

 

Techno turns to face his brother to tell him to stop, right at the same time that a weird twang noise echoes through the trees. He doesn’t look at his brother but instead faces the skeleton that was hiding in the shadows of the trees. He hears Wilbur let out some sort of cry, which makes him lift the wooden sword from his belt in front of him even quicker.

 

Techno ducks away from the hollow gaze of the monster and hides under the cover of a bush. Then, just as the skeleton loses interest in him he springs out of the bush and stabs the sword right into the skeleton’s back. Just like he’d seen his dad do hundreds of times before. He stabs the skeleton over and over until it falls into nothing but a pile of bones.

 

He stands over the bones silently and lets out deep breaths like his dad told him to do when he got angry. Techno puts the sword back and his pocket with a smile, then looks up for his brother’s approval. “Did you see that Wil?! I beat a monster I- I… W- Wilbur?”

 

The white of his brother’s shirt is stained red, only growing like a blooming flower around the arrow that’s in his belly. He looks tired and shaky like when they get sick but… but Wilbur isn’t sick because they were playing. Is Wilbur hurt? Like bad hurt?

 

Techno pushes through the bushes and runs over to his brother’s side. His hands are shaky as they grab his brother’s. “Wilbur? What- are you okay?”

 

Wilbur is crying a lot, but everytime he cries he makes a hurt noise that scares Techno even more. Their dad told them that if they got hurt he’d come help them. Would he come help them in the forest? Would he come help them even if they’d be in trouble?

 

Techno grows more and more worried as Wilbur starts to fall asleep. Dad said sleeping when hurt isn’t good, unless he says so. So Techno moves his hand to Wilbur’s face and tries to keep him awake, but it doesn’t work and Techno doesn’t know why .

 

“Wilbur, you have to stay awake! You can’t sleep when you’re hurt!”

 

His brother groans and mumbles, “It h’rts, T’no.”

 

Techno whines as his brother’s eyes close. “I know, but Dad said you can’t sleep! Please don’t sleep, Wilbur.”

 

His brother doesn’t listen. Techno starts to cry as he realizes he messed up. They would be in so much trouble when Dad finds them. He would probably take away their toys and their swords for so long, and they wouldn’t get dessert till they were like- sixteen or something.

 

Techno shakes his brother, who only groans in hurt. He doesn’t want to attract any more monsters, but he needs his dad. Now. So Techno sniffles up his tears and takes a big breath before he screams, “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD”

 

And like a waterfall he can’t stop.

 

“DADDY! DAD HELP! HELP US!”

 

Wings beat in the distance and Techno hopes and hopes and hopes as Wilbur stops moving.

 

“DAD PLEASE! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DAD! HELP!”

 

Something crashes behind him, but before Techno can turn around his Dad is next to him. His Father’s wings surround them and Techno falls to his knees in a crying mess. “I’m- I’m s-sorry Dad we didn’t m-mean to come in the woods but we played tag and then- then there was a monster and now Wilbur is- is-”

 

His father doesn’t take his eyes off of Wilbur, but he gently hushes Techno and presses close to his side. “Shhh baby, it’s okay. I know you’re scared but I have to help Wilbur, okay. He’s- oh stars he’s hurt so badly.”

 

Dad puts his hands on Wilbur’s face and tries to wake him up, but Wilbur only whines and squirms a bit like he’s having a bad dream. “No no no, please don’t move baby. I know it hurts a lot. Dad’s here Wilbur. I’ve got you.”

 

Techno sniffles and points at the arrow in his brother’s stomach. “He’s stuck to the tree Dad-”

 

Their dad nods and reaches for the arrow while keeping a hand on Wilbur’s shoulder. “Yeah, he is… Wil, darling, this is going to hurt a lot but promise me you’ll listen to your brother as he tells you a story, okay?”

 

Dad turns to him with a sad look, and he’s crying too. “Can you do that Techno, tell him a story?”

 

Techno nods and shuffles closer to his dad. The older wraps his hand around the arrow and takes a deep breath while Techno does the same. “There was once this greek guy named Harpocrates. He liked to be quiet and keep secrets a lot.”

 

The arrow makes a gross noise as Dad pulls it out of Wilbur, but as soon as it’s out their Dad pulls Wilbur close and starts to tap his face as his brother starts to breathe funny.

 

“Harpocrates was actually Egyptian though, kind of. But his real name was Horus.”

 

Their dad scoops him up in his arms next to Wilbur, allowing Techno to press close to his twin as Dad’s wings flap and they shoot into the sky.

 

“Horus was a child god.”, he whispers into his brother’s ear as Wilbur holds his breath for some weird reason.

 

Their house comes into view and their Dad curses, but Techno keeps telling his story. “His name means newborn sun Wilbur, did you know that?”

 

His brother doesn’t respond. Red drool coming from his mouth as their father lands at the door and sets Techno down before carrying Wilbur into the house. Wilbur is sleeping, even though Dad said he wasn’t supposed to.

 

Techno swipes at the tears on his face as he whispers quietly to himself, “Harpocrates always rises at dawn.”

Chapter Text

“D- Da’za?”

 

Something shifts on the other end of the phone. “Wil? Where are you? Dinner was ready a while ago and you didn’t call so I was worried-”

 

Wilbur licks over his split lip, wincing as the tangy taste of blood meets his taste buds. The wall in front of him is getting pretty blurry, but he does his best to ease his dad into the situation. “M’ called amb’lance… ’kay?”

 

Wilbur winces as the line suddenly explodes with lots of noise. “WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CALLED A- WILBUR WHERE ARE YOU? ARE YOU OKAY?”

 

He doesn’t lift his head from the wall as he makes a small noise of affirmation. “Mmmhmm, I think.. I think I’m ‘kay…”

 

He takes a shaky breath, as his arm grows tired. The person on the other side of the phone keeps talking though. “Wilbur, please tell me where you are and- and stay awake. I need you to listen to me okay?”

 

Wilbur groans as his arm shakes from exhaustion. “M’sorry…”

 

The other person doesn’t like that answer. “No, no Wilbur it’s okay. You’re okay. Just tell me where you are, okay?”

 

Wilbur’s arm finally drops from the exhaustion, and he thinks he can still hear the other person but honestly he’s too tired to try to speak right now. His headache had only been getting worse talking to that person.

 

Though he remembers them asking to tell them where he is, so with all of his effort Wilbur opens his eyes and looks at the street sign just outside of the small alleyway. He hopes the phone person is still listening.

 

“Um… ‘m at Scunthorpe and.. and Miloan.. Alley.”

 

Wilbur sighs, then groans at the effort it had taken just to mutter a few words. His eyes slip shut again, and only reopen as pulsing lights attack his senses. Lots of noises accompany the lights and somebody is by his face.

 

A nice lady with pink hair is reaching for him and asking a question, but right now he can’t hear her so he doesn’t answer. She looks worried, but she also looks like a doctor. Is she a doctor?

 

Hands move his limbs and he groans at the movement as his head is peeled away from the wall and his bones begin to ache. The world quickly spirals into a black abyss as a small voice in the back of his head assures him he’ll be okay. Or maybe it was outside his head? Who knows.


Phil pushes his way past an elderly couple and races towards the front desk of urgent care. He gasps, half out of breath from running all the way from the parking lot. “I’m here… my son, Wilbur Soot. He was brought in, I hope. Please tell me he’s here-”

 

The woman at the desk holds up a hand to cut him off. She gives him a sad smile through her massive white, curly hair. “Family then, I assume?”

 

Phil nods. “Yes, his father. Please Ms.- er-”

 

“Puffy, and I know you’re worried but I need just a moment to look up where your son is. Okay?”

 

“Y-Yes. Thank you very much, Ms. Puffy.”

 

The woman types at her keyboard for a few seconds before reaching down to grab for her phone. She types a quick message and waits a moment before a response pings back. Then she turns to him with a smile.

 

“Alright Mr. Watson, your son is in room 143 down the hall. You’re lucky my wife is his doctor or else you wouldn’t be cleared to see him for another half an hour.”

 

Phil takes a shaky breath and smiles at the woman. “Thank you so much, ma’am. Your wife as well, but I’ll make sure to tell her in person.”

 

She gives him a small wave as he pulls away from the desk and rushes down the hall. He makes sure not to run, but he walks as fast as humanly possible as he scans over each room number.

 

136… 138… 140…

 

Phil turns to the other side of the hall and nearly collapses with relief as he finds 143 staring back at him. He gives a quick knock on the door before hearing a quiet, “enter”, and swinging open the door.

 

Wilbur is the first thing his eyes go to. His baby is sitting up on the edge of the table, looking back at him like some kind of celebrity just walked in the room. Phil doesn’t even acknowledge the doctor yet as he rushes to take his son into an embrace. Wilbur hugs back just as firmly and some of the tension that Phil had carried melts away.

 

He’s alive. His son is alive.

 

Phil drinks in the warmth and love emanating from his son as they continue to hug, but the other presence in the room makes herself known with the clearing of her throat.

 

Wilbur is the first to pull back from the hug, but Phil is the first to speak. “Wil I am… so unbelievably happy that you’re okay. You.. I’ll need an explanation, but only once you’re ready.”

 

His son nods, and Phil takes that as all the assurance he needs. He squeezes his son’s arm, then a thought hits him. “Shoot, ah, smile for the camera kiddo. Techno will kill me if I don’t send him a photo of you all smiley and okay.”

 

Wilbur gives a half-smile as Phil snaps the photo. He looks over it quickly before pocketing his phone and then turning to face the smiling doctor.

 

The woman tips her clipboard towards herself. “Hello Mr. Watson, I assume my wife was the one who told you where we were?”

 

Phil smiles and looks away embarrassedly. “Erm, yeah it was. Tell her how much I appreciate her. And you, by the way, I was rather pushy.”

 

The doctor waves a hand in dismissal. “Perfectly reasonable. Wilbur explained what he remembers and from what I heard, I get it. You were worried. It’s a common thing here.”

 

Phil only nods, so she tips up her clipboard again and continues.

 

“He got out of it with a concussion, a pretty severe one. As well as some minor bruising. Though other than that there isn’t much else.”

 

Wilbur shifts from beside him and then starts to stand. He wobbles a bit but with Phil’s support he gets standing. Wilbur’s eyes are blown a bit wide and he’s blinking slowly, but he still manages to steady enough to speak. “Okay, thank you Dr. Nihachu. You w’re really nice.”, he slurs.

 

Phil turns down his brows, as does Dr. Nihachu. Though she speaks before he can. “Wilbur, I’m sorry, but I want to keep you overnight. You’re concussion is very severe and I’m worried that-“

 

“N’ I’m j’s fine… I’m… ‘m fine.”

 

Phil stumbles as Wilbur’s weight is suddenly all put onto him. He glances up to the doctor just as she rushes forward.

 

“Shi- Crap, lay him down. He’s going to start seizing.”

 

Fear clenches his chest as he lowers his boy to the ground. A seizure? Wilbur can’t be having a seizure. Not his boy. Not his son.

 

Though sure enough Wilbur’s face goes slack and his eyes roll back as his limbs begin to shake. His breaths start to stutter and Phil moves to put a hand on him, but Dr. Nihachu slaps at his hand gently.

 

She reaches up and grabs the pillow from the bed and slips it under Wilbur’s head. “Don’t touch him. Go outside and call for some nurses, then stay outside until I tell you to come back in.”

 

Phil moves to protest but she holds up a stern hand. “I know you’re worried but sir for your son’s sake I need you to leave the room.”

 

Phil glances down at Wilbur’s seizing form one last time before standing, ignoring the tears that have started to run down his face as he pushes out the door. He looks both ways down the hall and cups his hands around his mouth. “NURSE! NURSE! WE NEED HELP! MY SON IS SEIZING!”

 

For a moment there’s silence, but within seconds there’s the pounding of feet and multiple people pushing past him and going into the room.

 

There’s clashing and yelling, and Phil starts to lose track of time as fear grips him. He’s not sure how long he’s been standing in the hall or when he’d started biting at his cuticles. A haze of worry settled over him and time is nothing but an inconvenience at this point.

 

Though the fog is broken as a panicked scream shatters all the hope he’s held in his heart. His entire sense of reality falling away as the sound of a male nurse's voice carries through the thin doors.

 

“DOCTOR, WE’RE LOSING HIM.”

Chapter Text

Wilbur lazily flops his arm into the air, no real purpose behind lifting his arm other than to do it out of boredom. He drops it, but his boredom continues to pester him.

With a huff he shifts to his side and lets out a hefty sigh as he sinks further into his bed. The pillow isn’t even cold anymore, just sort of warm-ish and uncomfortable. He puffs out his cheeks with air, flicks his finger to make small bursts of magic erupt from them, hums a song, yet nothing cures his boredom. His limbs beg him to get up and do something, but for the life of him he can’t figure out what.

 

Techno just had to leave him behind when the shapeshifter went to gather supplies. Not to mention Tommy, his little phoenix who is off playing with his satyr and fae friends while Phil is being all “forest guardian” and shit. Which, by the way, is really sucky of them since they didn’t even bother to wake him up to tell him they’d be gone. He isn’t angry though, just insanely bored. Wilbur knows how he gets when he’s woken up before he wants to be, so he doesn’t fault his family for not wanting to deal with that.

 

Though the problem is that Wilbur can’t think of anything remotely interesting to do. He could go into town and pester some of the local townsfolk as a cat, or go pick berries and sit with the birds, or act like he’s going to kidnap some random human child… or something other than sit and stare at the ceiling. He groans as the boredom settles in his bones, nothing interesting him whatsoever.

 

That is… until a floorboard creaks.

 

His pointed ears flick as he registers the noise. He scrunches his brows together a moment as he thinks, because… nobody should be home yet. Tommy doesn’t come back until almost dinner time when he leaves to play, Phil shouldn’t return for at least another few hours, and Techno… well Wilbur knows that it isn’t Techno who creaked that floorboard. Plus, he can’t sense any woodland creatures downstairs besides a crow or two.

 

Wilbur sits up on his bed, lowering his feet to the ground before lightly pushing off of it so he can float in the air. As Wilbur nears the door he catches a whiff of… something. It makes his stomach churn and his vision go blurry, and that’s when it hits him. Iron.

 

Wilbur wracks his brain to find the mental link he’d created between he and his family before calling on it with a fierce intensity. Fear shoots up his spine as the door rattles and someone grumbles from the other side. He goes to raise his hands to summon some kind of protection, but before he can even think about his magic he’s thrown away from the door as it’s smashed open.

 

Two large hunters stand at the door over him, both individually holding an net that’s definitely iron-laced, a dagger, and a set of handcuffs. The second they spot him on the ground they smile.

 

His breath catches in his throat as he tries to move backwards, scrambling to his feet. “P- PHIL, TECHNO, T- HELP ME- HELP-”

 

One of the men tosses the net, crashing into Wilbur’s skin with a sickening sizzle. A hiss tears from his throat as he tries to thrash away from the net, but he can hardly move as the men grab onto his wrists and ankles and latch them firmly into the cuffs. His skin sizzles like bacon on a pan, white pain blinding him as he squirms.

 

He chokes on his own tears, his entire body feeling as if it’s been dipped into lava over and over until there’s nothing left of him. There’s a scream, maybe his own, as Wilbur’s limbs shake. A second net is dropped over him with a cackle and more sizzling. He can feel the way each individual rope burns a pattern into the skin on his face, shoulders, back, neck… his everything. Not to mention the way he can feel the iron cuffs begin to cut through his skin as they continue to burn.

 

“T-TE- Phiiiil…” He whines, pulling at the link in his mind as his body begins to give out. He attempts to push himself up, but his strength fails as another wave of pain hits him with each miniscule movement. There’s a tug from two links and an intense feelings of Protect Go Go Save  washing over one another.


The ropes shift over him, making a sob erupt from him as it grazes over the small patches of skin that hadn’t been burned. There’s a crash somewhere else in the house, the men speak frantically and the floorboards rumble as something moves through the house, then there’s a dagger in his stomach.

 

The world falls away for a moment, the only thing he can see is the flashing hallucinated-faces of his family and amassing black dots. Then he’s shocked with stunning clarity.

 

Wilbur watches as the two men above him turn to face something behind them, a third voice joining in on the fuzz that’s becoming the world around him as the clarity diminishes. There’s yelling and slamming, then hands on his own. He tries not to flinch, but the fear in his mind takes over. He hisses and tries to move away. Though as soon as he moves a new pain strikes through him like lightning and he goes limp.

 

His sight is filled with dancing colored dots and blurred beyond recognition from the tears that pour down his face. He contemplates letting the void take him here and now, but the instant relief he feels as the handcuffs fall from his wrists draws his attention. He gasps, but remains still from the fear of causing more pain.

 

The cuffs around his ankles are removed, then the nets are thrown off of him. Wilbur whines as the cool air meets his burns, the dagger shifting in his stomach and squelching at the noise. Everything hurts and he wants to sleep, he really wants to sleep.

 

Though his mental link pokes at him, keeping him awake as it gives him gentle whispers of safe and heal . Wilbur’s eyes close, but the veil of sleep refuses to take him as he’s gently lifted into the air.

 

There’s another brief moment of clarity as he realizes the whispers from the mental link are coming from somewhere next to him as well. He tries to discern the voice, but ultimately relies on the link to tell him who had tried to save him.

 

Techno, of course.

 

Wilbur smiles as he relaxes into the hold. Even as it stings against his burns the feeling of safety overtakes his senses and lets him go limp.

 

“It’s okay. It’s okay, I’ve got you. They won’t hurt you anymore. Shit, Wil…”

 

He’s lifted into the air in a gentle hold as the whispers continue. His other links to Tommy and Phil are screaming at him, but Techno’s presence washes away their fear and tries to keep him afloat, but ultimately mother death beckons him for a visit.

Chapter Text

Puffy’s office is… quaint. There are abstract paintings on the walls, soft colored carpets, bookshelves, candles and various posters of the brain and anatomical graphs. Typical stuff for a therapist's office, really.

 

Wilbur huffs and taps his boot against the plush carpet, blowing a white bit of his hair slightly out of his face as he stares absently at the window in the corner of the room. He’s not avoiding eye contact with the woman he just… doesn’t want to look at her right now.

 

The scritching sound of a pen on paper draws his eyes from the window. He scrunches his brow as she moves the pen. What’s he done to require notes already? Judgy, much?

 

Puffy stops the pen, glancing up at him. She must catch his look before he wipes it clean because she grins. “Wasn’t taking notes on you. I was drawing a little tree and flowers because you obviously aren’t ready to talk yet.”

 

Wilbur’s cheeks heat up a bit and he scoffs. “I was just waiting for you. You are the therapist after all.”

 

She breathes out through her nose and sets down her pen. “Alright then. Let's start with things that you feel comfortable talking about. Give me a range so I know where you’ll be comfortable.”

 

Wilbur resists the urge to roll his eyes because, really? Where he’ll be comfortable? As if she really cares. He lifts a hand to push his glasses up before resettling in his chair. “Fine… I’m alright talking about anything. Family, friends, the war, L’Manberg, Exile, Pogtopia, Revival, Limbo-“

 

“Limbo?” She repeats, a brow raised in genuine curiosity.

 

Wilbur chuckles, though his mouth goes dry. “Ah, yeah. Limbo. The place I was sent to after I died.”

 

Puffy sits back a bit at his confession. She blinks a moment, obviously thinking things over before looking him in the eye. “Well, since we’re on the topic, would you like to start there? You’re comfortable with-“

 

He waves a hand at her. “Yeah, yeah I’m fine with it.”

 

Though his chest tightens at the thought of the place he can’t be a pussy. He's a grown man. He’ll be fine dumping his “problems” out to this sheep-lady for a few minutes before he goes off to dissociate in a rotting hole somewhere.

 

She gives him a small smile before flipping the page of her notepad over and scrawling something at the top. She glances back up at him, then nods for him to begin.

 

Wilbur clears his throat, rolling his shoulders back to try and ease the rising anxiety. “Well… I guess to start, Limbo is the place after death. Like the metaphorical heaven or hell. But that spiritual crap? It’s bullshit. I’ve seen death, felt her touch even. Limbo is just a… perpetual state. Nothing changes. It’s like an eternal trap.”

 

Pen scratches against paper and he continues.

 

“You also know that I wasn’t afraid of death. I mean, I fucking killed myself.”

 

The pen stops and she looks up. “I thought your father, Philza, killed you?”

 

He hums nonchalantly. “Assisted suicide. Only did it at my intense prompting. But, that’s not the point.”

 

She scans over his face a second before returning to her notepad. So Wilbur just continues.

 

“When I got to Limbo it was… great. For a while. I was so fucking happy to be free of life. I couldn’t feel much, just numbness and it really wasn’t all that terrifying. And, I know what you’re thinking, but Limbo isn’t just blackness or an endless void. Or at least mine wasn’t.”

 

He swallows, licking his lips. “Mine was a train platform. There were just brick walls and benches and these shadows that I couldn’t touch. There was also this monitor that showed when someone was talking about you. Even when I got there I arrived on a train and had to step off.”

 

Puffy’s pen must run out of ink because she pauses, stretches back to her desk to grab another one, then looks back at him expectantly.

 

Wilbur resumes, his leg starting to bounce as he continues. “The first few years were fine. I relished in being dead, even told Tommy when I contacted him through the veil of the void or some shit that he shouldn’t have even kept Dream alive to try and resurrect me. Though after a while it did start to get boring. I had a deck of cards to play with. But, after those first few years… the high started to die off. Which really sucked.”

 

He takes a breath, biting at his lip as he puts a hand on his leg to try and keep it from bouncing. Puffy looks as if she’s about to speak, but he just ignores her and carries on.

 

“Thirteen and half years I spent there. Did you know that? Thirteen years is a.. long ass time, let me tell you.”

 

Puffy lifts a hand to interrupt him. “I only have you down for being dead for about… six months?”

 

Wilbur gives her a half-chuckle. “That’d be the time difference. Time flows weirdly in Limbo. Six months for you was roughly thirteen and a half years for me. Schlatt had a system of keeping track of the days.”

 

Puffy hums and scratches down a few more notes. “Okay… okay, I follow.”

 

“Right, well the years after the first couple grew worse and worse. It all kind of blends together from years four to ten but I know I was depressed… and angry, but also scared sometimes.”

 

His leg starts to bounce again, so he just squeezes it a bit harder with his hand. “I would scratch at the walls until I started to bleed, or I would scream, or cry, or- or even laugh. I was fucking manic sometimes and really it was my fault. I wanted to die and I put myself in that shitty place so I shouldn’t have been so upset. I enjoyed it! I did! I was just being ridiculous, but the train.. the train never stopped-“

 

Puff sets down her pen. “Wilbur, that’s enough you can-“

 

He shakes his head because he can’t stop, he wants to but he can’t. The words are already flowing and his vision is going wonky again like it does when he gets overwhelmed.

 

“The trains would never stop and I would try to stop them or jump on them and bang them but there were barriers! There were these barriers that would stop me but I broke them and I broke them and I would scream at the trains until my lungs stopped working but I didn’t even need the air so it didn’t really matter-“

 

“Wilbur-“

 

His breathing starts to pick up as images of a dot matrix and train cars flashing by are pulled to the forefront of his mind. “And- and to think of it I don’t think anything I did mattered. Did it ever matter? Did I do anything? I just died and screamed and screamed and then I saw Dream on the train and the train was stopped! It was stopped and I got on it but my fucking ghost was out there instead of me and he’s been there for so long now-“

 

“You can stop Wilbur! Just take deep breaths-“

 

“Is- is it bad that I left him there? He’s a ghost so he’ll be okay. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it and I don’t- I don’t want to do it anymore. The trains were so loud and they would rumble and- and the matrix would beep with messages that said these awful things and the train keeps rumbling and rumbling and- and-“

 

He feels a hand on his shoulder but he doesn’t bother to react because it’s fake, isn’t it? It’s just a shadow again. And the walls are around him with scratch marks and carved numbers that show each individual day. There’s a train coming down the tracks and the matrix is whirring and beeping with a message he can’t read.

 

Wilbur shakes his head because no he’s alive, he’s alive. He’s not there anymore but- but could he be…

 

Did someone kill him? Did Puffy kill him? He was dead wasn’t he? Of course someone killed him it was only a matter of time, and now he would wait hundreds of years because he deserves it doesn’t he?

 

A hand touches his face but again he doesn’t react. Though this time the shadow starts speaking to him which is new. Maybe death gave him mercy this time? Maybe his mother didn’t completely detest him.

 

“Wilbur, you aren’t there. You’re safe.”

 

No, she must hate him them. Now the shadows tell lies, and now he has to breath? He didn’t used to need to breath. And why were the walls getting closer and the trains getting louder and-

 

“What do you feel Wilbur?”

 

The question is weird, but now that he’s dead he should take what he can get and respond to the shadows. His voice is shaky, though he responds. “Hands… on, uh, face and shoulder. W-wall.”

 

The shadow’s hands move and a thumb is rubbing circles into his cheekbone gently. “That’s not a wall, Wilbur. It’s a chair.”

 

The circles are warm and it’s odd because Limbo isn’t . Nothing is warm in Limbo. Not even the shadows or the other dead people. So Wilbur takes a breath in frustration because it couldn’t be a chair, chairs weren’t in Limbo. “B-bench?”

 

“No. Just a chair.” The shadow says, then a hand moves away from his shoulder and then comes back to grab his hand and puts something in it.

 

Fuzzy, is the first word that comes to mind. But that’s… wrong. Fuzzy doesn’t belong in Limbo.

 

Wilbur blinks and tries to look at his hands. They’re shaky and he can see the shadow’s hand, but it’s not a shadow hand. It’s a person hand, and the thing he’s holding is blue and fuzzy . The scene in front of him starts to melt like a painting dropped in water.

 

He only starts to feel the tears on his face as a warm light takes over from the dimness of Limbo. The object in his hand starts to register as a sweater at the same time that he realizes that someone is touching him. Who would touch him ?

 

His breaths that had started to even out only still as he meets Puffy’s concerned eyes. Wilbur’s little pride that he has left forces him to swallow down the residual fear and look away from the woman, though he doesn’t bat away her hand.

 

Puffy continues to rub circles into his cheek for another minute or two before stopping. “Let’s play a little game, okay?”

 

Wilbur’s logical side says to refuse but his aching soul wants to play along. So he stays quiet and stares at the blank wall instead.

 

“It’s called Five-Four-Three-Two-One, okay? So start by telling me five things you can see.”

 

He swallows, taking a minute before he starts to minutely look around the room. “A- A ah, a book?”, he tries. Void, he sounds so shaky and weak that he wouldn’t be surprised if Puffy tells him he’s already a lost cause-

 

“Fantastic! Four more.”

 

He blinks, but continues. Maybe if he wins the game she’ll let him stay. Then she won’t want to kill him or send him back to that awful place again because he can’t-

 

“Four more, Wilbur. You can do it.”

 

“A bird, out the window. Um, a pen and… another pen… and a paper?”

 

Puffy smiles at him. “I’m so proud of you Wilbur. Now four things you can touch.”

 

Wilbur’s brain seems to still for a moment before kickstarting. Touch? What can he touch? He’s numb from death still so his senses are a bit diluted but… “Blue sweater?”

 

Puffy nods.

 

“Um, the carpet. My jacket too, and my glasses?”

 

She smiles again and it makes the fog in his brain start to dissolve. “Three things you hear.”

 

“My voice, birds, and… you?”

 

“Good. Two things you taste?”

 

Wilbur licks his lips and thinks. “Dry… and Iron. I bit my lip.”

 

Puffy reaches out again with one hand and gently grabs it, forcing him to look her in the eye. “One last question. Where are you?”

 

Wilbur blinks the remaining tears from his eyes and does another scan of the room. He didn’t leave, did he? He wasn’t in Limbo. He never went to Limbo, at least not a second time. Puffy didn’t hurt him… she helped.. him?

 

“Your office.” He answers. The shaking in his hands hidden by his grip on the fuzzy blue sweater.

 

Puffy doesn’t stop smiling, just lets go of his hands and sits back in her own chair before she asks, “Great. Are you okay now?”

 

Wilbur nods slowly. How embarrassing… not even one appointment in and he’s already messed up. This was a terrible idea. When has listening to Tommy ever-

 

“Wilbur, focus on me please. I want to talk to you, if that’s okay?”

 

He tenses, but lock eyes with her anyways as his shoulders slump. “Yeah, I- I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I just wasted your time and you’re probably done with me by now-“

 

Puffy holds up a hand and gently shushes him. As soon as he goes silent she gives him a once over, then sits back into her chair with a sigh. “Wilbur, I won’t lie to you. I’ll never lie to you in this office. I’m going to give it to you straight though, okay?”

 

Wilbur nods slowly, and that’s all the agreement she needs.

 

Puffy clutches her notepad with a breath before she starts. “Wilbur Soot you were a general, a president, a traitor, a father, a son, a brother, a rival, the leader of a resistance, a ghost and a dead man walking.”

 

She looks up to make sure he’s watching her, then looks down at her pad, sighing. “Wilbur Soot you are also a man who craves positive attention, you’re a workaholic, distrusting, and a victim of PTSD, depression, suicide, self-deprication, paranoia, dissociation, memory-loss, insomnia, and hubris. You hide anything you deem weak under a mask of bitterness and treat others the way you want to be treated, always have and most likely always will.”

 

They both take deep breaths. Wilbur, because he fears that this is the moment she tells him not to come back. This is the moment she says he’s too much trouble for what he’s worth. Puffy takes a breath, because she just spoke without a break for way too long.

 

She sets down her notes and looks at him, truly looks at him. Wilbur feels as if she’s taking in his every detail, examining it for something else to talk about or judge. Though she just gives him a sympathetic look, and hands him a note.

 

“I want you to book appointments multiple times a week. Keep a journal labeled “Good thing of the day”, then write down at least one good thing that happened, even if it seems insignificant. I also want you to keep a list of people you trust and don’t trust, as well as who you talk to. Then I want you to bring those things in and we can talk about them during our sessions.”

 

Wilbur mentally notes each thing she says and shoves the sticky note into his pocket without a glance, but his brain stutters to a stop as he realizes she’s finished. “That’s it?”, he croaks.

 

She nods. “That’s it.”

 

Wilbur nods numbly, then stands up. He goes to hand her the sweater back, but she just holds up a hand. “Keep it, Ghostbur left it here so it’s yours anyways.”

 

He pauses at the mention of his ghost, but then takes a few steps back and turns to leave. He reaches for the door handle with every intention of leaving as quickly as possible, though Puffy clears her throat to demand his attention one last time.

 

“Wilbur… have a good day, okay? And please, for Prime’s sake, eat something today. You look like you’re about to pass out, and I want to see you next session, alright?”

 

Wilbur stares back at her for a moment, frozen by the subtle implications of what she’d said. Then a small smile finds its way onto his face as he turns the handle. “Okay… thanks- thank you, Puffy.”

 

She waves him goodbye, and he’s quickly out the door. Wilbur beelines his way towards the burger van as he mulls over the happenings of the last hour or so. It takes him nearly half the walk, but he finally comes to terms. Not just with the fact of his… episode… but just everything in general.

 

Ranboo is in the van when he finally swings open the creaky door. The tall enderman-hybrid looks up from his spot criss-crossed on the floor where he’s restocking the bread. “Hey Wilbur! I just wanted to get an early start with everything today. Where were you?”

 

Wilbur hesitates a moment, but smiles at the younger with more genuinity than he’s had in anything for the past fourteen years of his life and un-life. “Therapy. I was at Therapy, Ranboo. You should try it out some time.”

Chapter Text

“Go, go, go. Be quick.”

 

Techno is the first to sprint across the street, then Tommy and Wilbur follow. Phil checks up and down the rather empty street one last time before high-tailing it to the other side with heaving breaths. Though he doesn’t let it slow him down as he ushers his boys into a store with barred windows and rotting half-corpses on the outside. As soon as they’re in Phil locks the door and uses the nearest chairs to block it.

 

Techno and Wil are scanning the main area of the empty store for walkers behind him, so he lets himself sigh. Phil turns to face his children and get a better view of the dingy cornerstore. “Great job boys. We can scavenge this place quick before we head out back. Tommy, I want you to check through the storage closet for chemicals or med supplies. Techno, I’ll come with you and we’ll check any back areas for walkers. Wilbur, I need you to go up to the roof and survey the area, get us a route towards the edge of the city. We have to make it out of this store before sunset boys, or else we’re royally fucked.”

 

They each nod. Tommy darts off to dig through the closet while Wilbur readjusts his bag then heads for the stairs with a cocky smile and a salute. “Can do Dadza. Don’t get any older while I’m gone.”

 

Phil rolls his eyes at his son's antics before turning back to the door. Techno waits behind him as Phil adds a bookshelf and a half-broken desk to his blockade. Once he finishes, Phil turns and hands his son a machete that he’d found in an empty house, then they set off for the other rooms of the store.

 

Phil pulls his handgun from his waistband and creeps around the corner of a blackened room. Techno juts off in the other direction and Phil can just hear him shuffle into one the rooms before he hears two taps of the door frame, clear. 

 

Phil reaches for a light switch and to no surprise nothing happens. He pulls out his flashlight and, like in every zombie video game ever, tucks the light in one hand under the other with his gun and barrels through the room. After scanning the entirety of the empty room he taps the door frame and moves down the short hallway just to repeat the same thing. Techno knocks twice against the final frame, and Phil finally takes a breath. Cleared.

 

“Alright, fantastic.” He sighs, turning to face his eldest by two minutes. “Go get Tommy, help him gather stuff up then come up to the roof with me and Wil, ‘kay?”

 

Techno only nods, then squeezes past him to go back towards the main area of the store. Phil watches his son go, then looks for the stairs. It takes a moment but he eventually finds them and takes each step quickly.

 

He moves to push open the door, but freezes as a voice that is distinctly not his son’s drifts through the cracked door. Phil’s nerves go into overdrive as he resists the urge to slam the door open and murder the person where they stand, but he knows he could only be putting his son into further danger. Though, it doesn’t last long as he hears a muffled cry that is very distinctly Wilbur.

 

Phil grips his gun, raising it as he slowly pushes open the door and looks for the offending person. They’re easy enough to spot. A man that’s just taller than Wilbur has his son pinned up against the wall, a hand pushing the brunette's head into the brick as it presses on his mouth. Though what concerns Phil the most is that the man’s other hand is hidden by said offender's body.

 

“Let. Go. Of my son.” Phil threatens, aiming the gun at the man as Phil risks a slow step forward.

 

The man’s eyes shoot up to meet his own, then he smiles. Gapped yellow and black teeth stare back at him as Phil cringes on the inside. It may be the apocalypse but bad hygiene is too much. Yet, the man still doesn’t remove his grip on Wilbur in the slightest, but instead starts to giggle. 

 

He’s deranged as well as bad at brushing his teeth. Well then… fantastic. As if there wasn’t enough crazy in the world right now.

 

“Put my son down. Now,  you son of a-“

 

The man tuts with his tongue and the hand that’s hidden behind his body shifts, causing Wilbur to let out another muffled cry. The man sighs, “Never learn.. never. No no no no. You never learn and the walkers do. The walkers learn and change and we are next. Humans are to go. Go forever. Slain from the earth-“

 

The man takes half a step back, and that’s all it takes for Phil to make his decision. There is nothing left in the godsforsaken world that they live in that would stop him from saving his sons. Nothing.

 

It takes less than a second to spot the knife embedded in his son’s side. Phil doesn’t hesitate as he pulls the trigger. He shoots the man dead before his giggles can even begin to taper, instead cutting off like a broken doll.

 

Crazy guy slumps over and the pressure he’d been forcing on Wilbur is gone, allowing his son’s shaking form to slowly collapse forward.

 

Phil nearly dives to catch Wilbur before he can hit the ground. The boy whines at the contact, choked sobs wracking his chest as Phil gently flips him over so he can look at the wound. The knife is still in it. Small and thin, but still embedded in his baby’s stomach. Phil tries not to let panic eat away at him as he lays Wilbur on the ground.

 

Footsteps pound up the stairs and the door crashes into the concrete wall as it’s thrown open. Phil meets Techno’s gaze before it drifts down to where Wilbur is laying, his heart shattering as Techno’s face falls. His oldest collapses to his knees beside Wilbur as the youngest finally pops over the top of the stairs.

 

“Phil why in the hell did you- Oh.. Oh fuck-“

 

Tommy squats down next to him, dropping the medical equipment before flipping open the latches of the first aid kit and pulling out multiple sets of bandages. The young blonde fumbles with the rolls and hovers over Wilbur.

 

Phil swallows the rock that’s formed in his throat and gets into action. “Raise his legs. I’m going to take the knife out and apply pressure, okay? Toms, I need you to be ready with the bandages. I’ll press for about… about ten minutes, then as soon as I let off you need to wrap it.”

 

Tommy nods whilst giving him a nervous look, unwrapping the bandages as Techno grabs his twins legs and moves them up. Wilbur gives a whine, but nothing close to a coherent response.

 

Phil shakily wraps his hand around the dagger, using the other to press lightly on Wilbur’s side. “Okay… okay buddy this is probably going to hurt and I’m so so sorry but I- I need to. You’ll be alright.”

 

The words of comfort sail over the delirious boy’s head as whines once more. So, Phil decides to work as quickly as possible. The dagger slips out easily, though Wilbur’s pained gasps set him on edge. His boy is sobbing, half-mumbling his name as he writhes.

 

Phil’s hands press onto the wound firmly and his soul rips itself in two as he continues to press through his child’s wails. Nearly five minutes pass before Wilbur starts to calm down, his tears growing dry and heaving breaths slowing.

 

Another two minutes pass as Wilbur seems to be pulled from the lull of pain back into the present, meeting Phil’s eyes before darting around to look at his brother’s. He squirms a bit but Phil holds him still with the pressure. Though Wilbur manages to just barely get an arm lifted to point out over in the direction off of the roof.

 

“Da’ there’s… there’s… out. J’ss go down the stairs n’ through alleys, then road. The road leads t’ woods house.” Wilbur blinks slowly, then lets his arm drop from the effort of lifting it.

 

Phil doesn’t dare move to take pressure off the wound, but Techno had followed his brother’s dazed instructions. The pinkette shifts in his position by Wilbur’s side to look out over the roof. Sure enough Techno must spot the “woods house” and the path out, because he turns to Phil with a short nod.

 

Phil presses on the wound for another few minutes before glancing over to Tommy. The youngest is ready to pounce on his brother to start bandaging him up. So Phil nods, then takes his hands off the stab wound.

 

Tommy pulls up his brother’s shirt and instantly starts to wrap the wound. It takes less than a minute for Tommy to cut off the bandages from the spool and set them firmly in place. Then as soon as Tommy pulls Wilbur’s shirt back down, Phil takes his middle child into his arms.

 

“Wil I know it hurts mate, but we have to go. I’ll help carry you and we’ll get to that house okay? I promise I’ll fix you up once we get there. I promise you’ll be okay.”

 

Wilbur nods, a strained grimace on his face as he gets to his feet. It isn’t ideal to have Wilbur walking but in all reality, as much as his children joke about him being ancient, he’s too old to carry Wilbur for as far as they need to go. So as soon as Wilbur gets semi-balanced while heavily leaning on Phil, they move towards the stairs. Techno takes Wil’s other side and they get down the stairs and out the back with ease.

 

Techno gently turns them to go down the alley and towards the road. Roads are always tricky because they’re open, too exposed for anyone to get by without having to fight at least ten walkers. Plus… the fuckers are attracted to blood. They aren’t vampire zombies or freaky shit like out of the movies, just sick people who lose their minds and bodies slowly enough to go insane and apparently become cannibalistic.

 

It’s disgusting really, to think about it all. How the government developed it, or how it got spread by careless transportation, or how people watch their loved ones lose themselves. It’s sickening to think about watching a family member decay inside and out. Having to watch them go nearly insane before… insane…

 

Phil’s eyes widen and he stops dead where he stands. Both Techno and Wilbur jolt at the sudden stop, especially as they’re in the middle of the godsforsaken road, but Phil pays no mind to their reactions as he shifts to look at Wilbur better. He first pulls at Wilbur’s shirt to check the bandages which, unfortunately, have already started growing redder and redder by the second. Though that isn’t what concerns him at the moment.

 

“Crazy guy” wasn’t just some fuckin’ apocalyptic lunatic trying to stab a kid. He was fucking infected. He had to be and if-

 

“Phil, Dad, we need to go the sun is getting low and I can hear the walkers-“

 

Phil doesn’t take an eye off Wilbur as he runs his hands along his half-delirious child’s neck and shoulder. It isn’t until his fingers brush over Wilbur’s slightly hidden biceps that he feels the ridges of teeth marks. His brain turns to fuzz for a moment as dread eats away at him.

 

“T- Techno I’ve got ‘im. Go take Tommy… clear the road ahead, okay?”

 

Tommy protests from beside him, though Phil sends Techno ‘the look’ and sure enough his eldest is quickly grabbing the youngest and taking off further ahead down the street.

 

Phil waits before he’s sure they’re out of speaking range to meet his son’s eyes. They’re full of tears and pain, but also understanding. 

 

“Dad…”, he whispers. Wilbur knew he’d been bit and thought this was most likely going to end one way. A tear slips from Phil’s eyes as he pulls his son closer. There’s a silent understanding between the two.

 

Phil squeezes his son just a bit tighter as they hug, then they readjust to move and follow the others. Wilbur thinks he is as good as dead, but obviously doesn’t want to be killed. Phil couldn’t kill his son even if he wanted to, yet he knows exactly what Wilbur unwillingly wants him to do. 

 

The house in the woods starts to come into view as Wilbur starts to lose consciousness. Phil practically drags his son the remainder of the way, heaving his boy onto the porch while waiting for his other children as they search the house.

 

Phil glances around himself, then spots a few spools of rope hanging out of an old-abandoned boat. He bolts over to snag the rope, then returns to Wilbur’s unconscious body and starts wrapping.

 


 

126 months.

 

That’s how long it’s taken Phil to finally do it right.

 

126 months for something stable to come to fruition.

 

Phil flicks the needle and examines it for a moment before stepping over his… failed subjects. The latest being a straggler, some kind of man with white goggles whose friends had left him for dead once he was injured and bitten. The man was dead now, of course. Though he had had some clarity and sense of mind before he passed, thanks to the serum.

 

His assistant stands beside him shyly. They shuffle around the body and stand at his side, looming over his shoulder as Phil’s hand hovers over a button.

 

“Ranboo…”, Phil starts with a shaky voice, “will this- do you think it will work?”

 

Said assistant startles at the words before sighing. “It worked on me, didn’t it?”

 

Phil slowly nods. “Yes but… but Ranboo you were only half-turned and they’re-“

 

A hand finds his shoulder, and he meets his assistant's small smile. “It’ll be okay.”

 

Once his stomach stops flipping like an acrobat, Phil smiles back. He needs to have a little hope, because at this point it’s all he has left. Ranboo takes his hand away from Phil’s shoulder, and with a nod he’s decided.

 

Phil looks at his boys, trapped and tied down on walls opposite of one another. Wilbur is twitching and shaking his head like he has some sort of internal war inside of his mind, while Tommy is just asleep. His youngest’s bite mark is still fresh, not yet taking his baby completely. Unlike his older brother.

 

Techno is upstairs keeping guard on the house, but Phil is sure that his eldest will make an appearance soon enough. Especially to see his twin whole once again.

 

Ranboo is by his face again, and with a quick nod Phil presses the button and enters the room. There is nothing left in the godsforsaken world that they live in that would stop him from saving his sons. Nothing. Nothing ever again.

Chapter Text

“He is sentenced to eternal damnation. Each life he lives will be a tragedy, he will live agonous lives and die painful deaths.” XD sighs. “That is all.”

 

Techno stands from his seat, slamming his hands on the table in front of him. Fire burns behind his eyes as The God of War and Bloodshed bares his tusks at the elder god. “WHAT THE- HEH?! HE’S DONE NOTHING WRONG XD!”

 

XD turns to face him, The Green God’s mask stares in his general direction for a moment before he answers. The god’s voice continues to echo throughout the chamber, and Techno wants nothing more than to punch the damned god in his stupid mask as he rasps, “I am sorry Blood God, but the verdict is decided.”

 

Techno scoffs and gestures to himself, then beside him to the god and demigod that he considers his family. “ We are the ones who should be punished! XD he has done nothing-”

 

The elder god raises his large hand to silence him, “You are being punished, are you not?”

 

Technoblade pauses, he tightens his jaw and huffs out of his nose. “ Yes . I suppose you could say we are, but we are not the ones who suffer-”

 

“Which, Blade , is why it is a suitable punishment. You did not truly think this through, did you?”

 

Techno steps around the ridiculous manifestation of a courtroom table and steps closer to the stand. “I don’t want to hear it XD! This pathetic recreation of a court does not mean you hold the power. And we did think it through, as both Philza and I did with Theseus-”

 

XD cuts him off once again. “You care for the little mortal, no? It does not seem so Blade, because you did not think this through.”

 

Techno moves to respond but XD only answers themself. “I suppose you do have your wish for him to never die. You have yourselves to thank in that respect. As well as the Death Goddess, who has agreed,” Phil takes a sharp breath from behind Techno, “she will not take the boy to death and will only pass him from one life to the next. Actions. Have. Consequences.”

 

XD pauses, his mask flaring a threatening lime green color. “You all chose this by going behind the council’s back to create a new demi-god without so much as consulting anyone . You didn’t even consult me . If you had come to us we would have made a consensus vote-“

 

Technoblade scoffs. “Rich! Because last time we came to the council for Theseus we were nearly turned down. We had no choice-“

 

I would have accepted Technoblade.

 

The metaphorical room falls silent. Techno turns his head away as the elder god continues.

 

“Did you think we would not notice ? Because we did Technoblade, and this is you and your family’s punishment. This is your price to pay for your actions. Your mortal suffers because you all chose to run off and abandon our sacred system of godhood for the sake of being impatient.”

 

XD turns away from them to catch their own temper before turning back. He lowly sighs and raises his large hand, slowly moving it over the mortal- Wilbur’s head, who is sat frozen at XD’s side. Bound in invisible chains and silenced by magic. Wilbur’s eyes shift to meet Techno’s own, then they move to Philza, then to Tommy. Their brother smiles, though his eyes are glistening with unshed tears. XD seems to hesitate for just a moment, studying the mortal he is about to sentence, but his hand still begins to glow a sickly green. “For what it’s worth, little mortal… I am sorry.”

 

Techno’s eyes widen as he realizes that this is it. This is the end of Wilbur's time. He isn’t sure when he’d started to cry, wasn’t even sure that he could anymore. His reputation as a warrior who never shows weakness is tarnished amongst the other gods, though he could care less as he reaches out for his brother. 

 

An invisible force holds him back, only adding to the aching fear in his chest as the glowing grows brighter. Techno uses everything he can muster to even be able to push against the force, still only managing to get a few steps closer. “No, no please Wilbur.” He grunts as the force resists him. “Wilbur, we can’t lose you please-”

 

“Wilby! Don’t go, please. XD you have to let him stay-”, Tommy whines from behind him.

 

Techno catches Wilbur’s eye, and that is when he pauses his pursuit. Wilbur just… continues to smile. The brunette glances up to the gigantic hand above him, then back at them. Back at his family. Then just as the glow grows brighter than ever he mouths, ‘It was never meant to be’, and then he’s gone.

 

The invisible force dissipates as Techno drops to his knees. The council is silent around them, but Tommy and Phil’s broken cries echo throughout the chamber.


“You, come with me.”

 

Wilbur hangs his head as he stands from his cot, not even bothering to glance back at the other boys in the tent. He hears whispers, but he’s intent on following the man out of the tent and into the rain. It wets his hair, flattening the curls so they hang down in his face like a curtain. He doesn’t dare look up at the commander so he watches the man’s muddy boots as they walk across camp.

 

There’s laughter from the older soldiers as they pass, the men most likely having already eaten and gotten drunk after the day’s training. The next tents are mostly blacked out, but Wilbur can just barely see the outlines of the medics packing their things for the night.

 

The commander’s boots come to a halt and so does he. The stop just outside of the only tent he’s never been allowed in throughout his entire month of training for the army. Wilbur’s heart rams in chest, pushing against his lungs and pumping all of the air out of them. This is the tent for the soldiers who are either insanely important, about to be sent into the front lines, or are being told they’re too pathetic to stay.

 

His palms are sweaty as they wring themselves together behind his back, knees weak as he stands stock still behind the commander. He hasn’t done that bad in training, has he? Sure he couldn’t do hand-to-hand, or the obstacle course, or the strength-training… but he was a good shot! Plus he always excels at strategy training and faux-debriefs, but… but maybe that isn’t enough.

 

Wilbur stiffens even further as the commander calls into the tent with his nasally voice, “General, I’ve brought the soldier you requested.” His heart nearly stops beating right then and there.

 

The General?! The General!?! As in the guy that nobody but elite soldiers and the Angel of Death himself gets to see?!

 

A gruff, yet oddly… familiar voice calls them through with a short, “Enter.”

 

Wilbur sucks in a shaky breath and rolls back his shoulders to try and seem taller. He hasn’t hit his growth spurt yet, but the orphanage lady had told him he’d be growing soon before he was drafted.

 

They step through the heavy flaps of the tent, the commander dropping the flap so it just catches his side and knocks him off balance. Wilbur doesn’t mind though as he readjusts and stands ready at attention in front of the general. He doesn’t look at the man, so he can’t tell exactly what’s happening. The atmosphere is quiet, lethally still for a moment or two before Wilbur hears a harsh breath from The General.

 

Wilbur’s heart pangs in his chest. He’s done something wrong, hasn’t he? Prime he’ll be sent home, or maybe beaten, or exiled, or… or he could be-

 

“Commander… tell me, why is there a child in front of me?”

 

Wilbur blinks, almost daring to look up before resisting the urge on account that he doesn’t want to be hurt later on for his ignorance. The General didn’t know about them? Doesn’t know if the other boys in camp? Surely he had to… surely.

 

The commander shuffles from beside Wilbur, placing a bony hand on his collarbone and squeezing just enough to prove a threat. Wilbur straightens his posture just a bit more to see if it would be enough for the man to release him, but the commander speaks with a smiling lilt to his voice. “Well sir, you called for Wilbur Soot. This is Private Soot of the 16th battalion, still in training sir.”

 

The General replies, though he almost sounds angry(?). “That doesn’t answer my question Commander . Why. Is he. A child .”

 

The commander tightens his grip. “General, the 16th battalion is formed of young soldiers who had no previous lives. They were all orphans or street mongrels. They weren’t wanted anywhere else anyways! Their training will be complete by the end of the week. I assure you sir, they can be sent to the front lines as soon as-“

 

“Commander. Leave us.”

 

The commander says nothing, pausing for a moment before pressing his jagged thumb nail deep into Wilbur’s shoulder, just above where the scars from his latest “reprimanding” were healing. Wilbur sucks in a breath and hopes to Prime that this doesn’t get him into more trouble later. Though the man’s hand disappears, and the flaps to the tent are opened and closed. It’s just Wilbur… and The General.

 

“Kid…”, The General says softly(?), “can you tell me something?”

 

Wilbur bites at the inside of his lip as his heart hammers in his chest. He keeps his eyes trained on the bottom of the makeshift table and nods. “Y- yes sir.”

 

The General sighs. “Look at me, please? I promise it’s alright.”

 

Wilbur scrunches his brows. The man sounds almost… concerned(?) but that can’t be right because commander said-

 

“Kid.”

 

Wilbur looks up instantly, meeting The General's blood-red eyes. Surprisingly, he isn’t startled by the color, though his nerves at meeting someone’s gaze wrack his chest so he quicly shifts his eyes to look at the man’s shoulder.

 

The General looks… different. Which isn’t bad! Though it’s just… much different than what Wilbur had expected. His pink hair is tied in a loose braid and a pig mask rests over part of his face, which houses many small scars over the half he can see. He isn’t some giant hulking figure, but Wilbur gets the sense that size doesn’t matter much when it comes to this man’s deadly skills. Though as he thinks about it, the man could be intimidating to others but oddly he just… isn’t for Wilbur.

 

“Thank you.”, The General says softly. “Now, could you tell me your name again, please?”

 

Wilbur gulps down the shakiness in his chest, keeping his eyes trained on the man’s white shirt. “Private Wilbur Soot, sir, of the 16th battalion.”

 

The General smiles which is… not… right, Wilbur thinks. Nobody has smiled in his entire time at camp. His surprise must show on his face, because The General quickly drops it.

 

“Okay Wilbur, how old are you?”

 

Wilbur makes a face at that. Is he being interrogated? Does The General think he’s a spy? Because he’s not! He’s just a kid from the Camarav Orphanage whose parents hated him and-

 

A chair scrapes against the ground and suddenly hands are on his shoulders, then The General’s eyes are staring back at him. Though the embrace is gentle. “Hey, it’s okay. Calm down. You’re alright kiddo.”

 

Wilbur blinks, but doesn’t move his eyes away from The General’s. It’s oddly comforting in a way, so he gains the courage to speak. “Twelve.”, he whispers.

 

Now it’s The General’s turn to blink. “What?”, he whispers back.

 

Wilbur swallows. “You asked my age sir. I’m twelve… turn thirteen next September.”

 

The General says nothing for a moment, eyes only scanning over him a moment. He seems almost nervous, frightened, yet still entirely in control. “Okay Wilbur, two more questions. Are there more children here, and are you being hurt?”

 

Wilbur stews on the questions a moment before nodding. “Yes sir. The- the entire 16th battalion is made up of kids my age or uh… younger. We- The Commander gives us reprimanding if we do something wrong. If we make eye-contact or engage in physical contact without permission we receive beatings. If we talk out of line we receive lashes or-“

 

The General puts a hand on his face. It’s warm and calloused, feeling all too familiar yet so new and frightening. He leans into it, just slightly before pulling away to look back at his feet. The General looks almost hurt, but pulls away to stand as well.

 

“Thank you Wilbur. I’ll handle The Commander and the 16th battalion from now on. Return to your tent for tonight. I’ll come get you in the morning.”

 

Wilbur meets the man’s eyes again. “W- wait, sir why would you-“

 

“My name is Technoblade, by the way. I have some friends I’d like you to meet. So I’ll come get you in the morning, okay?”

 

There’s silence, then Wilbur nods. “Okay sir. I’ll see you in the morning.” Though before Wilbur turns to leave he catches the barest glimpse of The General about to say something.

 

“I lo-“, the General pauses as if he’s conflicted. “I uh- I look forward to seeing you. In- in the morning, that is.”

 

Wilbur hums and nods, then awkwardly shuffles out of the tent and back into the rain. Though his hair grows limp in his face again and his ragged clothes are soaked, there’s a lightness in his chest. A lightness like freedom, or even happiness! It’s like a missing puzzle piece was slotted into place and the picture has become more clear, though Wilbur couldn’t truly explain the feeling if he tried.

 

Though, as he passes the tents of the drunk soldiers and makes his way to his tent, he can easily describe the next feeling. Skin splitting, burning, his breath leaving him as his pupils shrink with the pain of a knife embedding itself into his chest, into his heart. His entire chest stutters as a broken cry slips from his lips. A larger figure that he blurrily recognizes as his commander grips the handle and lowers Wilbur to the ground as his strength dissipates.

 

There are harsh whispers above him as his mouths fills with iron. The commander’s nasally voice is speaking with someone, then the voice is gone as something falls to the ground beside Wilbur’s head. Though with the rain dripping into his bleary eyes and the darkness of the night, coupled with the slow crawl of death pulling him into its embrace, he can’t make out the other person.

 

Though he does hear a broken scream before his soul leaves his body behind. Flashes of his life come before him and pop out of existence like pictures thrown into a flame. Fate pats his head as he passes, Death kisses his cheek. Then he’s reborn.


“Wilbur M. Soot, are you listening to me?”, his mother playfully scolds.

 

Wilbur hums, looking at her sweetly like he always does when he gets in trouble. “Mmmm… no! I was looking for my friends.”

 

Momma swipes some hair from his face and sighs. “Alright baby, well, I just have to go into the shops for a little while to get groceries and your medicine. Stay here on the bench for me okay, like always?”

 

Wilbur nods really big for his Momma and gives her a kiss on her cheek after she kisses his head. He lets her lift him up onto the bench and set his canes against the railing before reaching out so she hands him a small paper bag. He waves her bye-bye before slowly opening the bag to peek inside.

 

He’s used to their trips now. Momma can’t take him into the shops because it hurts if he walks too far, so he gets to stay on the bench and feed the birdies and say hi to the nice people in the park. He doesn’t mind, plus then his legs don’t hurt really bad.

 

He digs his hand into the seed inside the bag and pulls out a handful before throwing it out onto the ground. One little pigeon tries to hop over and get some seed, but the crows quickly swoop in from their hiding places in the trees.

 

Wilbur giggles as his friends scare off the pigeon. Most kids don’t think it’s funny, but Wilbur does, because he likes the crows. Momma always tells him that it’s weird to see a whole murder of crows in one place, but Wilbur thinks it’s because he’s just really good at feeding the birds.

 

One of them lands on the ground under his feet and caws at him. Wilbur giggles and blows at the bird. It caws at him like it’s offended and nudges his foot with its head. Wilbur blows on it again, but his breath hitches and catches him in a cough. The crow is looking at him, but as soon as his cough goes away he pats the bird on the head and drops more seed.

 

“Oh…”, a voice says from beside him, “you’re the one who’s been feeding them. I’ve never seen them so fat on bird seed.” 

 

Wilbur looks up from the birds to see a man in a green hat. He’s really tall and old, so Wilbur smiles at him. “Yeah! Momma says that I feed them too much, but I think they like it.”

 

The birds all start to screech as the man sits beside him on the bench. His face does a funny thing before he looks at Wilbur again. “So… what’s the name of the young lad who’s been feeding my birds?”

 

Wilbur’s eyes widen because he’s just heard the coolest thing… ever. “They’re your birds?! That’s so cool!” He tosses out another handful of seed. “My name is Wilbur! And I’m… uh… I’m five!”

 

The man makes a funny face again, but it turns into a little smile. “Thank you Wil… for feeding my birds. They really like you, they’ve told me.”

 

Wilbur looks at the man again, eyes shining. “You can talk to them?! Woah… what do they say? Can they tell jokes? Are they loud? Do they say naughty words that only Momma is allowed to say-“

 

The man chuckles. “Ah yes, yes, and unfortunately yes. They talk about you feeding them a lot and other things like rocks and letters.”

 

Wilbur looks down at the birds. “Hmmm… can you guys say a naughty word?”

 

The crows stop pecking at the seeds and all turn to look at the man. Then they erupt into varying caws and screeches. Passerby’s look over and the man beside Wilbur blanches. “Why you- Quiet all of you! Hush!”

 

Wilbur giggles and as the crows quiet down the man beside him sighs. “You’re a funny one Wilbur. Real funny.”

 

Wilbur puts on his cheekiest smile and nods. “Yep! My Momma says I’m the funniest. She’ll tell you too! But she’s in town right now. She has to get my medicine and the groceries and maybe she’ll get a cool sword like this one guy I saw once-“

 

The man’s face drops and he cuts him off. “You… Wilbur, what do you need the medicine for? Ah- if you don’t mind me askin’ mate.”

 

Wilbur blinks at the man. “Oh… are you not from here?”

 

The man huffs and rubs at his neck. “Ah no, just got here so I’m not. I’m from a ways off, but I don’t know how that-“

 

“Well…” Wilbur sighs, “My Momma tells everyone in town about my sickness so that they know how to help me. Cause she said that I need a lot of help sometimes. I get super sick and when I do I can’t do anything for a little bit. She says I need to be nice to everyone and be happy all the time because one day I get to go up and play in the sky. Like the birdies! But… I don’t know what that means yet. Momma looked sad when she told me though, so I try to be happy for everyone!”

 

The man is quiet and for a second Wilbur thinks he might have said something bad, but then the man makes a sad face like Momma does and he knows he said something bad. Wilbur reaches over and gently pats the man’s leg like he does to the birds. “It’s okay! I’m sorry I made you sad.”

 

The man blinks away the sad face and smiles a little. “No- No mate it’s okay. Just thinking about things. To change the topic a bit, I know you haven’t asked but my name is Phil.”

 

Wilbur smiles because Phil is smiling. “I like your name! It’s cool, even for an old person.”

 

The man sputters and the crows start to caw again. Wilbur can only wonder what they say but Phil shakes his head and laughs, so he assumes they liked his joke. Wilbur wants to tell another one, but hears his Momma calling out for him as she walks up with armfuls of bags.

 

Wilbur frowns at having to leave so soon, so he turns to Phil. “Will you be here tomorrow?”

 

The man thinks for a second before smiling even wider. “I can be. Do you come every day?”

 

“Yep! I always come to the park. It’s my favorite thing in the whole world ‘cause of all the colors! Oh, and the birds.”

 

Momma stops in front of the bench and a few crows hop out of the way so she can set her bags down. She looks at him, then at Phil with a funny face. “Baby, who is this? Do you know him?”

 

Wilbur nods and sticks his arms out so his Momma can pick him up to put him on the ground. She lifts under his armpits and sets him down gently, handing him his canes so he can stand up properly. “Yeah! He’s Philza Minecraft! He’s really old and he owns the birdies! We’re friends now too! Right Philza?”

 

The man looks surprised and a little bit sad, but he still smiles and nods. “Yeah. Yeah we’re friends. I promise Ma’am I’m just here for conversation… and my birds.”

 

Momma looks at Phil a bit longer before nodding to him and picking up her groceries again. “Well then Philza, thank you for talking to Wilbur. He’s wonderful to talk to, a bright little boy. Though we do have to go now, come along little star. You need to take your medicine.”

 

Wilbur fake-pouts. “Awww fine. Bye-bye Phil! I’ll see you tomorrow!”

 

The man in green waves him bye-bye, then Wilbur hobbles off down the stone path with his Momma.

 

Fate works in odd ways as it sinks it’s claws into the little boy’s life. Wilbur gets a routine of visiting Phil at the park every single day. He talks about birds and colors or things his Momma taught him while Phil listens and listens and listens.

 

One day Wilbur talks about how his favorite snack is sand, Phil sputters for nearly a minute trying to come up with an answer. Another day Wilbur slips up again and calls him Dadza, giving the old god flashbacks to better times and unlocking something inside him that he’d thought was buried too deep inside to return.

 

One day, The Angel of Death and God of the Winds finally works up the courage to tell the little boy he loves him on a sunny day in October. The leaves are starting to turn different colors and Phil eagerly awaits to hear how Wilbur describes each color in the way only a child could.

 

Though he didn't arrive on that sunny day, or on the next day when the air grew a little more frigid and the leaves changed once again, starting to fall. Or on the day after that, the leaves having mostly fallen to the ground to leave bare sticks and branches reaching for the sky.

 

The third day is the day Phil leaves their bench to search for the boy. Wilbur had a routine, five-years old or not. Wilbur Soot didn’t break routines, because he was always too stubborn and Phil would know better than anyone. He knows because a father, god or not, knows his son.

 

The third day is the day Phil barrels through the small town in a mad search for the little boy on canes. The one that’s stolen his heart since dozens of lifetimes before him. The one he’s finally found after spending years searching for his reincarnation. His little star, as his mother in this life had called him.

 

The third day is the day Phil stops at a fruit stand to ask a local shopkeeper about little Wilbur Soot. It’s the day his heart shatters with the words he’d never been able to say crushing his soul like a can under a boot.

 

Because the shopkeeper explains:

 

The first day is the day the boy fell ill.

 

The second day is the day his mother realized her child’s time had come as the medicine stopped working.

 

The third day is the day five-year old Wilbur Soot lost his life before it had truly started.

 

The third day is the day Phil’s cries echo through townsquare. The crows don’t return to the park, and the world drains of color. Fate mourns a young soul but continues their duties, and Lady Death watches a child be born.


“Hellooooo! Hellooo little Floris! Pretty baby! Momma’s little fox, yes you are!”

 

Wilbur smiles at his girlfriend as she bounces their baby gently on her lap. Her red hair hiding her face as she leans in to give baby Floris raspberries on her little rosy cheeks. Wilbur stands from where he’d been sitting against their small pile of blankets and grabs his bag.

 

“Sally, darling, I’m running to the store. I’ve made enough to buy food for us tonight so is there something you’d like?”

 

Sally turns to him, her smile dropping in contemplation, though quickly returning. “One of those freezer pizzas. I’m sure we could ask Niki if she’d let us into her dad’s shop to bake it. Then we could have a pizza date, Mr. Soot.” She giggles, winking at him and leaning up to give him a kiss.

 

He buries his nose in her hair as he returns a kiss to her forehead. “It’s a date then, Mrs. Salmon.” 

 

He leans down and kisses baby Floris on top of his baby’s fox oneseie’s hood before rising to sling his raggedy backpack over his shoulder. He moves towards the edge of the tent and waves goodbye to his girlfriend and daughter. “I love you!” He calls into the tent as the flap closes.

 

A muffled, “We love you more!”, rises out of the tent as he moves towards the end of the alley. Wilbur smiles, takes a breath, then starts off towards the store.

 

Though every interaction with his girlfriend sends him over the moon, his mood quickly dampers as he approaches the store. He pulls out the checklist he’d scrawled on a dirty napkin and readjusts his beanie to hide his grimy hair before entering.

 

The thing about being a teen that lives on the streets is that people don’t pity you. Especially when it’s only you, your girlfriend, and your baby. Teen pregnancy was apparently too big of a no-no for most people in this damn town. Including but not limited to both he and Sally’s parents, most orphanages, and… well… a lot of other people.

 

So Wilbur just finds it easiest to hide his hair and obvious shortcomings. Pity means adults interfering in your life. Adults interfering in your life, based on Wilbur’s experience, almost always means losing the things he holds closest.

 

Wilbur maneuvers towards the food isles and scans over the small selection of frozen pizzas. He ends up picking the cheapest cheese one he can find so he can splurge on a liter of soda to make their little dinner date even more special. After he grabs the bottle of unlabeled generic soda he makes his way to the baby isles.

 

Diapers, check. Formula, check. Wipes-

 

Someone bumps into him from the side and the plastic bottle of soda falls from his loose grip. It rattles on the ground and Wilbur’s breath stills, but luckily it doesn’t burst.

 

“Shit man, sorry that’s-“

 

Wilbur reaches down and picks up the soda, then looks up to apologize to the person. Though they seem frozen in place, just blinking at him. The kid looks to be his age, maybe younger. Blonde poofy hair and blue eyes, a bandana tied around his neck as well as a necklace with a bunch of little charms on it.

 

“Uh, yeah its fine. Don’t worry about it man.” Wilbur says as he tucks the bottle securely under his arm.

 

The boy seems to startle out of whatever trance he’d been in and reaches out just barely before retracting his arm and rubbing it awkwardly instead. “I won’t. Lanky fucker, don’t know how I missed you, ha.”

 

Wilbur smiles. It was a bold faced insult, especially coming from someone he’d just met, but he couldn’t help but find it amusing. “Lanky fucker? I just met you and you’re already insulting me!”

 

The kid rolls his eyes but also smiles. “Of course I am bitch! You’re all long and shit and I should’ve seen you!”

 

Wilbur chuckles. “Kid, I can’t tell if you’re apologizing or insulting.”

 

The blonde scoffs. “Don’t call me kid! I’m older than you, bitch.”

 

Wilbur makes a humming noise and nods. “I’m sure. How old is that big man?”

 

The boy looks stunned for a second before putting on a proud smile. “One-hundred thousand two-hundred and seventeen years! Not a day younger.”

 

A laugh bursts from Wilbur’s mouth before he can contain it. “Y- you can’t be serious! You look twelve.”

 

The boy’s cheeks redden but he still smiles. “How old are you bitch? I bet it's not that old!”

 

Wilbur contemplates telling the boy his age for a moment before relenting. “Seventeen. I assume you’re the same age when you're not lying about being thousands of years old.”, he chuckles.

 

The boy stares at him for a moment before sighing. “Yeah yeah whatever you want to believe bitch. I have to go uh… grab some friends, but maybe I’ll see you around? S- school maybe?”

 

Wilbur drops his smile and looks away, reaching back for the baby supplies on the shelf as the seratonin of having a conversation with another person is crushed. Everything was fine, but apparently this kid wasn’t above prodding at him either. “Funny, haha. Great joke. I know it’s all giggles for you all at that school to make fun of Sally and I but it’s just annoying, really-“

 

“Who’s Sally?”

 

Wilbur blinks. He looks back at the blonde and squints. Who was Sally? She was one of the best swimmers at the damned school, valedictorian of their class and not to mention the daughter of some of the wealthiest people in town. If this guy didn’t know who Sally was then…

 

“My girlfriend. You… you aren’t from here then, are you?”

 

The blonde looks panicked for a moment before groaning. “Yeah, shit was it that obvious?”

 

Wilbur huffs. “Yes, especially when you don’t recognize Sally by name because of her parents. Or I guess who I am either.”

 

The other boy hums for a moment, the atmosphere going quiet around them again. Wilbur takes the chance to grab multiple packets of baby food and tuck them into his arms. He’d expected the boy to awkwardly wander off, but instead he continues to hover at his side.

 

“Got a sibling or something? You’ve lots of baby shit.”

 

Wilbur slowly stills. He doesn’t want to tell him. He isn’t ashamed of Sally or Floris, never could be, but this kid was the first person in a long time to have a civil conversation with him without going into some kind of rant. Though Wilbur relents, “My kid, actually. Sally had her a few months back and we’re a bit… tight on money at the moment.”

 

There’s silence between them again. Wilbur wants to groan at the fact that he’s just blown his chance at having a friend, but doesn’t as he simply tucks the wipes into the stack of things in his arms. “Yeah.. so I guess I should be going then-“

 

“No wait- what do… what do you need?”

 

Wilbur blinks, eyeing the other boy up and down warily. “What?”

 

He crosses his arms, a lopsided smile growing on his face. “You heard me bitch, what do you need? I’ll get anything for you.”

 

Wilbur nearly drops the items in his arms from the shock of it. He can’t- he really can’t but…

 

“Why? Why would you help us?”

 

The other boy sighs. “Look, Wilbur, I just want to help man. Nothing sketchy, I promise.”

 

Wilbur stares at the boy a little longer. “You’re serious?”

 

“Dead serious.”

 

Wilbur smiles and if his arms weren’t full he would’ve hugged the boy right then and there. His eyes well up with a few tears, but he blinks them away before they can be seen. “You- Tommy you’re fucking amazing man. Thank you so so much.”

 

A smile creeps onto Tommy’s face, then he waves a hand as he turns around. “I’ll grab a cart, big man! Start grabbing baby shit and food, I’ll be back in two seconds.”

 

Wilbur doesn’t hesitate, he stuffs as a few packs of diapers and more food into his arms and goes back towards the food isles. He grabs Pepsi, a whole liter of Pepsi and a pepperoni pizza.

 

Tommy was… he was so kind. Too kind for someone who Wilbur had just met. The boy feels familiar in a way, making him feel a little more whole than he has been for most of his life. Though after exchanging names they…

 

Wilbur pauses, furrowing his brows. He hadn’t given Tommy his name… had he? And Tommy hadn’t given him his so how…

 

Wilbur shakes the thought because who cares! This kid is willing to help him out and who is he to refuse it? So when Tommy returns with the cart, already filled with a few novelty local-store sweatshirts and multiple pre-made food containers, he just dumps his stuff inside. They go through the isles, Tommy adding mostly everything while Wilbur only picks out things he knows they need. Once they finish, and check out (Tommy makes him look away as he pays) Tommy grabs half of the bags and lets Wilbur take the other half.

 

“You don’t have to help me carry these, I can-“

 

Tommy half-waves a hand at him, the weight of the bags weighing his arms down. “Fuck off with that. I’m helping you. I’ll just text my er- friends… later. They’ll be fine.”

 

Wilbur smiles, then they leave the store. The walk isn’t bad, they talk and joke along the way. Wilbur almost feels at peace talking with Tommy… almost.

 

As they get closer to the alley something in Wilbur shifts. There’s a feeling that steadily grows and pools in the pit of his stomach. Something is wrong. Something is very wrong.

 

Then he hears it. The scratchy, mangled voice of a drunken and vile old man. “YOU BITCH AND YOUR KI’ TH’S MY ALLEY. I’LL FUCKIN KILL YOU-“

 

Wilbur drops the bags.

 

“W- Wil- fuck man what’s wrong-“

 

Wilbur could care less as he hears the soda bottles burst and shatter. He sprints towards the opening of the alley as he hears Sally’s voice. “WILBUR! WILBUR- SOMEONE HELP-“

 

He rounds the corner with a speed he hadn’t known he had in him. Wilbur finds the offender, then sees the knife in the man’s hand.

 

Wilbur charges into the alley, all care for his well-being thrown out the window as he spots Sally huddled over a crying Floris against the brick wall. He shoves the man as he catches him off guard.

 

The large drunken man hardly stumbles, but his glare instead shifts to Wilbur. The man jabs the knife forward, just barely missing Wilbur’s side. Wilbur jams the man’s hand with his elbow and makes him drop the knife, to which the man decides to pull his hands back and use them to shove Wilbur away.

 

Wilbur stumbles back with the force of the push, trying to right himself so he can protect his family, but his foot catches on a stray box and suddenly he’s falling. Then there’s a loud clang, a popping sound, and world goes black.

 

Once again fate holds onto Wilbur with a vice grip as his life leaves his body. Death wearily moving his soul onwards.

 

The Demigod Theseus rounds the corner with armfuls of groceries. He rounds the corner and finds a grisly drunk man standing stock still over an unmoving Wilbur. He finds the girl and child that his pseudo-brother talked about like they had hung the stars, huddled in a corner with bruises flowering on the girl’s face. Though the only thing he truly see is his brother. Tommy can sense it, the lack of life in his brother who lays motionless under the bloodied handle of a city garbage bin. The presence of Death.

 

Sally is screaming, Floris is crying, and with a flick of a hand the homeless man is dead as well. The coroners say a fight broke out and young Wilbur Soot was murdered, then the man had a heart attack from the shock.

 

If months later Sally and baby Floris are found living in the mansion of two mysterious adventurers and their son Tommy, then everyone would say it was her parent’s doing. Everyone would be wrong.

 

Sally would become a single mother who loved her child and her dead lover until the day she herself died, a mother who mysterious gods had shared the secrets of the universe with and told her why her Wilbur was so special. Floris would rename himself Fundy, becoming the man he’s always been and yearning for the father he couldn’t remember, yet he himself becoming a demigod through due process.

 

And in the end of it all, Wilbur Soot would be born again.


“Phil… you aren’t planning anything, are you?”

 

Wilbur’s father had given him a smug smile. “No, what ever could you mean?”

 

Wilbur had rolled his eyes and continued to tap against his guitar’s base gently. “I mean the fact that you can’t keep a secret old man. You’re awful at it. Worse than Techno even!”

 

“I can keep a secret just fine, better than Techno, and I’m not old!” Phil had huffed.

 

Tommy had padded by in the kitchen eating yogurt. “Y’RE WRON’ DADZA.”

 

Wilbur had laughed along with his father, pestering him until he finally gave up what the surprise would be for his twenty-first birthday. It was supposed to be a trip or something apparently, he.. can’t really remember anymore.

 

That had been four years ago, to the date.

 

Wilbur turns twenty-five today. He’s also to be crowned the Champion of something… or whatever title they wanted to give him for killing his best friends.

 

Fate’s fingers gently adjust the crown on his head, their milky white eyes looking into his own before looking back at the crown. “You look stunning, you know?”

 

Wilbur smiles at Fate, or Eret, as they prefer to be called. “Yes I know… both you and Mother have already told me, countless times.”

 

Eret smiles back at him, though Death’s voice comes from behind him. “It’s true love, you look stunning. Like a true god.”

 

Wilbur’s smile grows dimmer at the mention of godlihood. “Yeah… like a god.”

 

Hands find themselves on his shoulders and sure enough he’s looking back into the eyes of Fate. “Wilbur, we know what you… go through. Everything, even from your first life all the way to these trials but… but you’ve earned this, okay? You’ve earned this! The crown, the jewels, the room, all on your own.”

 

Wilbur nods, turning to his side as a cold hand finds his cheek in gentle touches. His mother stands above him and caresses his face. Tears well up in his eyes and he quickly finds himself in her embrace.

 

“Oh… Wilbur, they’ll be so happy to see you. You can finally go home, darling.” She croons, rubbing soft circles into his back.

 

His robes are most definitely messed up now, creased and folded as he melts into the hug. Though he could care less as he sniffles into his mother’s warmth. “I just- mum it was so hard . I kept seeing them in every life and I just kept dying and dying and then I was happy! I was happy and then I was put into the dome and I had to do these challenges and I killed people- I killed Schlatt-

 

She stoops down to his level and adjusts their hug so she can whisper into his ear gently. “I know darling, I know. It’s alright now. You’re going home now-“

 

“Mum why- why did I have to do it-“

 

Death holds her son tightly. “Because darling, Gods like to get what they want… no matter how it affects others.”

 

Wilbur pulls away to look at her, sensing Fate’s growing worry from beside him. He gives her a shaky nod and a smile. “I- I know… it's over though, right?”

 

Kristin smiles at him, though there’s something behind it that Wilbur can’t discern. Nonetheless she ends up brushing a hair from his face. “I- I love you darling. You can go home now.”

 

Wilbur scrunches his face at that. She hadn’t answered his question. Was it over? Was the endless cycle of forgetting and remembering finally going to end or is he stuck-

 

She touches his face again, and Fate is also staring him in the eye. That’s when he remembers.

 

He’s been here before. He’s done this dance.

 

He’s going to be reborn.

 

Wilbur sniffles. “Oh… they, they broke the rules again. Didn’t they?”

 

Eret solemnly nods. “In the rules they were told your lives had to be… awful, every time. By giving you a good mortal life for so long-“

 

Death touches his face again. “We tried love, we tried to get you out. They love you so much, I love you . So, so much darling. We tried to get you out of this but once XD deems it-“

 

Before he knows it he’s reaching out to embrace both Fate and Death. He’s played this part, and he’s terrified beyond belief, but hearing those words from his mother’s mouth ease the pain he knows that will come to follow. “It’s- It’s okay. I’m ready now.”

 

There’s a light, brighter than any star in the galaxy. “ I love you too.” , the star whispers. Then only Death and Fate are left in the room crafted for their eternal assignment.

 

A human mortal taken into the loving arms of Fate and Death to be passed along to tragedy after tragedy, never finding his family or any semblance of eternal rest. A mortal soul wittled down for eternity because of his immortal family’s impatience and ignorance.

 

XD closes his book with a resounding thump.

 

Thus is the curse of Wilbur Soot.

Chapter Text

White is all he can see as he is lifted into the air. His cage rattles as it’s set onto some sort of cart. He holds his breath as the sheet over his cage is grabbed, then ripped away. Wilbur lets out a distressed clicking noise as bright lights assault his eyes.

 

Though as his eyes adjust to the stage lights, he lets out a small gasp. “Holy… shit.”

 

Someone rattles his cage for the curse, but he couldn’t care less as he stares out at the sea of people in the crowd. The cart that his cage is on stops rolling as several burly figures come to lift it up onto a pedestal. Wilbur shuffles to the center of his cage, not wanting them to grab at his winged appendages or flowy fin-like ears.

 

There’s tons of clapping throughout the theater as he squirms around in his cage. Though all of the faces blend together and he can’t make out who anyone around him could be. Though he does know they all wear suits and dresses and animal masks.

 

That’s when the panic starts to creep into his bones. Auction Night is always awful as is, but this… this is Mafia Night. This is different.

 

The other hybrids had warned him about this. The night that nobody returned from, where they were shown off like toys, assets, rather than people. Wilbur hugs himself close as the master steps closer to the cage.

 

“… and with that the Nether Star is sold to the Dream Team. Up next folks we have this absolute specimen. A hybrid-male of a creature thought to be long extinct, our very own Allay!” More claps thunder through the theater, only silencing when the master holds up his hand. “Before we start the bidding folks, we would like to show off the full capabilities of this creature. Men, let him out.”

 

A hand reaches out from behind the cage and undoes the latch. As soon as it starts to swing open Wilbur pushes against it and tumbles out onto the stage. The collar around his neck gives him a quick shock, so he shoots to his feet and moves to the master’s side.

 

The greasy, rat-like man in every sense but pure-hybrid smiles at him, patting his head before turning back to the crowd. Wilbur’s flowy ears pin back to his head with discomfort, the shapeshifter has no right to touch him like that. The head is a special area for allay, pats and scratches only being allowed for those considered as safe or loved. Though despite his discomfort he tries to remain still as the master presents.

 

“As you can see, our little friend here is well trained. He responds to shock commands relatively well and with a few more short months of training he will be fit for any sort of work you want him in.”

 

Wilbur’s stomach churns a bit at the thought of more training. The master ignores his discomfort and waves over someone from off-stage. There’s a loud thump that draws Wilbur’s attention away from the hundreds of eyes that are staring at him. The person from off stage had brought a music box .

 

Something in Wilbur’s chest flutters at the sight and all of his instincts insist for him to go to it. It calls out to him, radiating the message of safety. Though Wilbur’s fear of being shocked quickly wins out over his urges.

 

The master digs into his own pocket as he raises the microphone. “Folks, if I could have you all take out the little iron ingot given to you before you entered the stage room, we can give you a live demonstration of this asset's wonderful features! Please drop it at your feet, then we can begin.”

 

Wilbur sucks in a breath. He doesn’t- he doesn’t want to- he doesn’t want to do it, not again-

 

The master drops an iron ingot at his feet, and Wilbur’s eyes go blown wide. He reaches down and curls the little piece of iron in his hands, hardly noticing as the master puts a bag over his shoulder.

 

“Collect those for me, asset.”

 

Wilbur jumps off the stage, fluttering down to the ground with his small wings before sensing the presence of every iron ingot in the room. He shoots through the isles, gathering up the little pieces of metal on the floor and dodging feet as he hops from row to row, tucking them into his bag.

 

The world is dim around him. The masters voice is speaking from somewhere but it doesn’t register as he scoops up the iron pieces. People above him laugh or talk about something, maybe him as he lightly bounds from seat to seat while humming a little tune to himself.

 

He only runs into a small delay as something touches his face. A person, woman, with a crow mask on. She holds the ingot in her hand, by her face, instead of placing it on the ground.

 

Wilbur lets out a small tinkling sound from his throat in frustration as he reaches for the ingot. The woman continues to touch his face, then hands him the ingot. Wilbur lets out another tinkling noise as a thank you, then moves on.

 

His bag is nearly full and he’s gathered every piece of iron but one. Wilbur moves to the spot of the last ingot and waits for the big man that holds it to give it to him. But the man doesn’t.

 

Wilbur furrows his eyebrows, then makes the same tinkling noise he had to make for the lady to give it to him. The big man still doesn’t though. Wilbur makes the noise again but the man only laughs, then reaches out and shoves Wilbur back.

 

He stumbles a bit, caught off guard, but his directive is final. Wilbur steadies himself, then jumps at the big man. He lowers his shoulder and hits the man in the gut, then flips him over before reaching into the man’s pocket to grab the ingot.

 

Wilbur stuffs it in his bag, then flaps his way up onto the stage with his small wings and comes to a stop beside the music box. The master waits for him, so he happily drops his bag with a soft thump.

 

The master smiles, and Wilbur returns to himself. He had- shit he’d gone all googly-eyes and docile again. His hands clench at his sides and panic bubbles in the base of his chest. A pained noise starts to rise from his throat, but suddenly something clicks behind him. Then music begins to play.

 

The world around him grows dim again, but in a pleasant way. Wilbur scrambles to curl up beside the music box, resting his head against it as it vibrates with each note.

 

The master is speaking again, calling out numbers and laughing. Wilbur tries to block out the wicked man’s voice to focus on the music, but with a sharp bark the man cuts through his song.

 

“SOLD! For 200,000 emeralds the allay asset goes to THE SYNDICATE!”

 

Claps echo through the room, but Wilbur tries to focus on the music. He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine if he just keeps listening-

 

There’s a click, then the music is gone. Hands grab him from behind and soon enough he’s shoved back into the cage with a pitiful yelp. He’s carted off stage and the sheet is thrown back over it.

 

“Up next is our beloved mermaid! This dolphin hybrid-“

 

Wilbur curls in one himself, the buzz of the music still making his wings twitch. His hands find themselves clutching his arms until they leave marks. This wasn’t- he wasn’t supposed to be sold . He hasn’t been sold off in his entire year of rotting in the hellhole dubbed as The Pit, although he also hasn’t been sent into the fights which is… extremely fortunate. Though his panic still bubbles.

 

He was just sold off like some kind of vintage clock or a car or something. Like he wasn’t a living being. Wilbur’s chest quivers as tears make themselves known by crawling down his cheeks. He keeps his sobs light, but he’s quickly interrupted as someone grabs his cage.

 

Panic floods his brain as he curls into the back of his cage, distressed clicks coming from deep in his throat as he squeezes his eyes shut. He hears sheet move and the latch flip. Breaths speeding up as he hears multiple pairs of feet surrounding his cage.

 

He’s gonna die. He’s gonna die . He’sgonnadiehesgonnadiehesgonnadie-

 

“Shhh Shh Shh, it’s okay. We’re here to help you little guy.”, someone whispers.

 

Wilbur slowly blinks open his eyes. A man stands at the door of his cage, brown eyes meeting his own. He swallows the building clicks in throat, eyeing the man distrustfully.

 

The rabbit-hybrid brushes a hair from his face with a sigh before reaching a hand out to Wilbur. “I promise, we’re just trying to help you.”

 

Wilbur releases the vice grip on his arms, tentatively reaching for the man’s hand. The man holds it gently, not pulling or squeezing it, so Wilbur starts to shuffle a bit closer. He’s nearly out of the cage, trust for the man growing with each second. Then there’s a loud bang, and he’s sent back into a panic.

 

He pushes himself back into the cage, smacking one of his small wings off of the side and sending a jolt down his back. His breaths start to sped up again and the world goes blurry, but the man’s hand still gently holds his.

 

“Hey, no no no, it’s okay kid. It’s just Phil. A friend. I promise.“

 

Wilbur shakes his head, hiccuping out a plea. “No, no don’t hurt me please. I don’t want- I don’t wanna-“

 

The rabbit man looks away from him, glancing around the room for a moment before his eyes go wide. He reaches for something off to the side of Wilbur’s cage, and Wilbur determines this is it. This is where the man grabs a weapon or a muzzle or something-

 

A disc finds itself in front of his face. Wilbur blinks away the tears that had built up, looking to the man holding out the record. The rabbit man smiles at him, his ears doing a funny floppy tho no that makes him look… nice. Well, less scary at least.

 

Wilbur uses his free hand to grab the disc, pulling it to his chest quickly. A happy tinkle escaping him as he squeezes it close.

 

The rabbit man laughs. “Yeah, I thought you’d like that kid. So… do mind coming out? We’ve gotta go.”

 

Wilbur shuffles closer to the man, but furrows his brows. “Go where?”

 

The man helps him climb out of the cage, letting him stand by himself but not letting go of his hand. He eyes Wilbur’s collar with disdain, but doesn’t try to touch it.

 

Another voice speaks from behind, making Wilbur jump. “Somewhere safe. A place where you can be happy, free.”

 

Wilbur squeezes the rabbit man’s hand and pulls himself closer to the man as he watches the new person. They’re an elytrian, giant wings tucked behind them in an obvious attempt to look less threatening. Wilbur makes a face at the man, then turns to look back at the rabbit man.

 

“That’s- thats… Phil?”

 

The rabbit man slowly nods. “Yep, and I’m Techno. What’s your name?”

 

Wilbur blinks because… what? Why would they ask him that? Nobody had asked his name in so long he was just… asset. He hums to himself before finding the courage to answer. “Wilbur. My name is Wilbur.”, he says with a bit of bite to his tone.

 

The rabbit- Techno, doesn’t get angry with him though. Only smiles, and so does Phil. Techno gently squeezes his hand in a short gesture that seems to mean something like ‘I’m proud’, and Wilbur huffs happily at the praise.

 

“Thank you,” Techno says as he himself stands up, “it’s time to go now Wilbur. We’ll get you and all the others out of here. You’ll be safe at our base. I promise you.”

 

Wilbur looks away from Techno, holding his record close and awkwardly glancing at Phil. “Okay… do you have a music box at your base? Or a note block? Or- Or one of those big machines that makes songs when you press a button? Or a bell! Do you have a bell?”

 

Phil and Techno both laugh, a hand finding itself on his head. Though it isn’t in the harsh and uncomfortable way the master does. It’s warm and makes his wings shudder happily. Techno ruffles his hair and moves a hand down onto his shoulders. “Yeah kiddo, we have tons of bells and music boxes.”

 

Wilbur’s eyes widen and he doesn’t stop himself as he starts to lightly bounce on his toes. “That’s so cool! Can we play my disc there? And can I play songs on the bells and do dances-“

 

“Yeah kiddo, you can. I know you’re super excited but we have to go okay? We can’t be here when-“

 

Without warning a shock runs through his collar, then another, then another. Wilbur shrieks and his hands fly to his collar, dropping the vinyl disc to the ground with a loud crack. Techno and Phil are yelling about something and another voice that quickly registers as the master’s joins in the yelling. Wilbur scratches at his neck, and in his sudden panic forgets about the protective measures. 

 

An ear splitting noise bursts from the collar, his ears going rigid and flattening against his head in an attempt to stop the noise. His hands fly off of the collar and press onto his ears, a panicked click coming from his chest as something pricks his neck.

 

The sedative, shit he’d activated the sedative and now he wasn’t going to escape- Techno and Phil would leave him behind and he’d be sold again. He’d be going to whoever The Syndicate is and he’d be forced to do bad things and-

 

There’s loud banging noises and more yelling as Wilbur drops to his knees, his eyes starting to droop and limbs going slack. Hands catch him before he can smack his face off the ground, someone pulls the collar off of his neck but it’s too late. He supposes he should be panicking, worried about whose arms he’s being lifted into as he loses all control over his limbs. The noise is still assaulting his sensitive ears, but it grows quieter as he’s dragged into unconsciousness and carried away from where the broken collar lay.

 

Just before his eyes roll into his head and the sedative does it’s job, he blearily recognizes the pink color of Techno’s hair. He can’t smile, but as he’s pulled into the black void of sleep his mind relaxes.

 

Safe… he’ll be safe.

Chapter Text

Guitars are truly beautiful instruments. Six strings, all of which make different sounds based on the way they are tightened and plucked. Able to create a soft and peaceful beat or a song of pain and misery with the strum of a hand.

 

Phil doesn’t stop the tears as they splash onto the wooden carved base of his son’s instrument. He holds the guitar closely, placing his forehead on its base as if it could magically bring back his little boy from the great void beyond.

 

A sob pushes against his lungs as they ache in tune with his heart. His hands shake as he holds the neck of the guitar. There’s misplaced anger in his heart, tempting him to smash this guitar against the wall in an effort to revive his son. Instead he softly brushes the strings, turning over the guitar with a choked cry to look at the small heart carved into the inside of the piece.

 

Kristin had given Wilbur this guitar on his tenth birthday, the same day Techno had gotten his first iron sword. Now it’s the twins’ twenty third birthday, and one half of the whole is missing. No more music to accompany the madness.

 

His tears dry, slowly. This isn’t the first time he’s been here, and he knows his schedule. The life of a King isn’t one taken likely, and with his luck it seems someone would come to get him soon for a meeting or announcement of some sort. Wilbur’s room had become his safe space, at some point. The only space he can come to let out the gut wrenching sobs that persist him in every single thing he does.

 

Because of course everything reminds him of Wilbur. The wispy blue flowers growing along the kingdoms walls, Techno’s cape draped over only one set of shoulders on stormy nights, the golden rings left scattered around the castle, the hills that Phil used to watch his children roll down, the guitar, the sky, the birds that sing, his son’s friends who tip-toe around the topic every time it’s brought up, the smell of the wood on the fire, the daggers that hang on the wall like the one that-

 

“Sire? May I come in?”

 

Phil blinks away the last few tears that hang in his eyelashes. Wiping them away with his sleeve and clearing his throat before standing from his son’s bed and gently placing the guitar back on it’s stand. He takes a deep breath as he massages his face, motioning towards the half-opened door as a show of acceptance.

 

Niki enters, her armor shifting with each step she takes into the room. Her stance is sheltered, showing she has news of some sort. Phil nods and she takes a shuddering breath. Bad news it is then.

 

“Sire,” she starts gently, “we were notified by the guards at the gate that Dream is here. He brought some… assets, as well. There’s going to be an attack.”

 

Phil nods solemnly, prepared to wave her out so they can make their way to the war room. Though a soft hand finds his shoulder to stop him.

 

Niki meets his eyes, steeling herself to deliver more news. “Phil… he brought Wilbur-“

 

“What…”, the words cycle through his mind as he tries to process them. Dream would stoop so low, wouldn’t he? Of course he would bring Wilbur’s rotted corpse, just to throw it at their feet. “No no no, that sick bastard. Why-“

 

The grip on his shoulder tightens. “Alive, Phil. Wilbur is alive.”

 

His world comes to a crashing halt. His knees grow weak suddenly, taking a step back he sits himself on the bed. Niki follows suit, comforting words on the tip of her tongue that he silences with the raising of one hand.

 

“Is he okay?”, Phil whispers after a moment.

 

Niki looks away from him, finding no interest in the window of Wilbur’s room that points towards the gates of the kingdom but looking through it anyways. “No, he isn’t. From the intelligence we’ve gathered we know he’s injured. He ran up to some of the guards calling for help, they said he was injured and chained and that Dream had him captive. Mentioned something about explosives, but that was all we could get out of them before…”

 

Phil bites at his bottom lip, slowly nodding. “Alright. Call the princes to the war room, tell them of the situation. Don’t sugar coat it. They deserve to know. Dream has had time to plan something while we’ve been grieving. He plays dirty and I think it’s about time we do as well.”

 

Niki stands with him, rolling back her shoulders and moving for the door. Her hand drifts off of his shoulder and to the sword at her hip as she glances down the halls while she waits for him to follow.

 

Phil looks at the guitar again. Soft brown and glowing in the light of the afternoon sun. His eyes linger for a moment, only a moment. Then with a new determination he turns and follows Niki.

 

He’s lost his melody once already; he refuses to let it happen again. The Trickster stole his songbird, and The Angel of Death intends to reclaim what is his.


Murmurs are what bring him back to consciousness. Them, and the drying stickiness of the blood coating his neck. Someone’s hand is dug into the back of the collar of his shirt, dragging him behind them like a sack of potatoes.

 

Wilbur peels open his eyes all too slowly. Catching blurry glimpses of people, colors, animals. All things he knows he shouldn’t be seeing. Reality comes back to him slowly.

 

The most he remembers is the first time he’d woke up today, Dream’s “gift”. An axe to the chest, who could ask for anything better.

 

Wilbur would roll his eyes if it didn’t feel like his skull was being peeled open like an orange from the inside out.

 

After he’d awoken there were hands on him, moving him into an armored truck filled to the brim with explosives. Dream was there, along with Sapnap, George, some bodyguard guy in a white hoodie, a man in red, and a man covered in diamonds. Then Wilbur was forced out of the van once they reached the borders of his kingdom, and while they were distracted Wilbur tried to run.

 

He almost groans at his past self, though refrains so as to not alert whoever is dragging him like a corpse.

 

Wilbur had ran. He’d made it into the forest he had played in as a child and spared enough time to himself to attempt to break out of the chains, literally. He’d dislocated his shoulder with a truck Techno had shown him when they were little and was able to slip out of the ones over his torso before he was interrupted.

 

An arrow to the leg was what he remembered next, the a flood of panic and running on an injured leg. He’d made it to the walls and found some guards he’d vaguely recognized from watching Niki and Eret in the training yards. Then the guards were dead at his feet, and a blade found its way through his neck.

 

Wilbur sneers as the arrow in his still-injured leg catches over a stray rock and pulls against his skin and muscles. Not being able to die sometimes has its perks, but apparently injury-not-resulting-in-death-healing is not one of them.

 

The hand on his collar tightens, and before Wilbur can react he’s being thrown onto the ground harshly. Now he groans, having landed on his injured leg and scraping his face across the loose stones of the path.

 

“King Philza.” Dream taunts.

 

Wilbur’s heart seizes in his chest, casting a pitiful glance upwards as ichor rivulets begin to escape from the fresh cuts on his face.

 

Phil stands at the gates into the castle. His sword is attached to his hip and his usual long and flowing cape is nowhere to be seen. Only the entirety of the king in a common shirt and pants with a sharpened sword at his side.

 

“Trickster.” Phil seethes.

 

Dream chuckles from somewhere behind Wilbur, but he doesn’t dare tear his eyes away from his father to look back at the evil man as he speaks. “I see Wilbur’s little nickname for me caught on. Cute.”

 

Phil draws his sword. Dream grabs Wilbur around the neck, pulling him into a headlock and positioning his own blade just above his freshest scar.

 

Phil hesitates, though the princes do not. Technoblade and Tommy come from the shadows of the castle walls and assume position at Phil's side with their own weapons drawn. Though Tommy is only staring at Wilbur, and Wilbur is staring right back.

 

“Return my son Dream. Don’t make this worse for yourself or your kingdom.”

 

Tommy is tired, having cried recently. Wilbur can tell.

 

Dream cackles, drawing the tip of the blade closer to Wilbur’s neck. “Good one Philza. My kingdom? I couldn’t care less about those idiots! It’s about the power I gain Philza, and your pathetic excuse for a son is my ticket to that power. So no thanks.”

 

Tommy is red in the face with anger, looking ready to pounce at the green bitch and rip him a new one if Phil wasn’t there to hold him back. Wilbur can tell by the way he scrunches up his face and tenses his fingers.

 

“YOU GREEN BASTARD-“, Tommy starts, but Phil shoots him a glare that silences him.

 

At least his brother is ever the spitfire. Wilbur grins.

 

Dream sighs. “Prince Theseus, I’ve heard so much about you! My lamb here has pleaded oh so many times to be reunited with you. Prince Technoblade though… oh you couldn’t imagine the amount of times he called out for you or Philza before he was slaughtered. Over, and over, and over, and over-“

 

“Don’t try to trick us, Dream,” Techno grunts plainly, “he’s right there and he’s alive.”

 

Wilbur disagrees. He might be breathing, yes. His heart might still be beating and his blood pumping through his veins, but he can’t be alive. Not anymore. Not after dying so many times, greeting death like a friend. Like family. He knows things now that he shouldn’t. Has seen the veil and passed through it like an open door that’s always tempting him.

 

Dream disagrees as well. “I’m not lying. As they say, a totem a day keeps the reaper away.”

 

Wilbur can’t bear to look at his family anymore. He can’t see their faces as realization sets in. He doesn't want to see the shame and disgust that he expects. Missing the horror and guilt-stricken expressions filled with love and concern.

 

The blade’s edge nips into Wilbur’s skin, and it brings him no shock as Dream tightens his grip with a maniacal laugh. “This! This is my plan, Philza. Your precious little son is my lamb for slaughter. Explosives are being rigged throughout your kingdom as we speak, enough so to blow this entire place to smithereens and take us all with it. Not me though! Wilbur has enough magic forced into his pathetic body to be capable of trading a soul for a soul. A human of undying, if you will.”

 

Philza is silent, though Tommy speaks up in his place. “You’re wrong. You- you have to be lying. You’re a lying bitch, why should we trust anything you say?”

 

Dream huffs in the face of Tommy’s rebuttals. “I mean… if you don’t believe me, then I think we’ll just have to demonstrate.”

 

The blade sets firmly against his neck, piercing the skin just enough so before it flashes. The pain is irrelevant at this point, Wilbur can’t find himself fretting over this death. Though it’s odd this time, hearing someone screaming for you as the world disappears.

 

The void grasps his hand gently, like a mother would with a child. It brushes away the pain and the screaming, placing a kiss on his soul. Gold and green sparks fill his faded vision, though no totem is placed in his hands.


Gold leaks from his child’s neck as the Trickster swipes his blade. Wilbur’s eyes disappear into his skull, limbs going slack as Dream hold’s the brunette’s body out like a trophy. Then drops it.

 

Phil cries out as Wilbur’s head collides harshly with the stone path, spraying ichor when all Phil can see is red. A hand from behind stops him, barely so as The Trickster moves aside his mask to show his true smile.

 

“Aww, did I upset you Philza? Oh great ‘Angel’, how can you stand there and do nothing as I slaughter your son. Tsk tsk.

 

Phil can feel his blood boil beneath his skin, though the hand on his wrist grounds him. He takes a breath. Focusing on his other two son’s is all he can do for now as their plan sets into motion, especially as his other apparently… revives.. himself.

 

Phil glances back at Techno, catching his son’s worried peeks at his twin’s lifeless form. He places his free hand on top of Techno’s reassuringly, signaling for him to let go. Once Techno’s hand falls away Phil looks over to Tommy. His youngest is obviously struggling, tears running down his cheekbones even as he holds his defiant glare. As Phil assures himself that his youngest is physically fine, he looks back to Dream.

 

The Trickster is impatient, brows furrowed in a way meaning that Phil must not be taking him seriously enough. “Tik-tok-tik-tok King Philza. Are you really just going to let me take away Wilbur again. After you’ve already failed him-“

 

“I never failed him.”

 

Dream pauses, letting out a huff of indignation. “You never- of course you failed him! You left him with me for months! I killed him!”

 

It’s Phil’s turn to laugh now, low and dangerous. “That you did. By now as well Dream I think you know my stance on certain rules, especially those that are golden.”

 

Dream takes a small step backwards as Phil draws his sword. “Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Such an elementary concept, isn’t it Dream?”

 

The man in green scowls, his visible eye flickering from Wilbur’s prone yet waking form and back to Phil. He’s silent as he glances around looking for an escape. Though his eyes catch sight of something on the walls surrounding the castle. “You’ve set me up, King Philza. You knew… you’ve captured my men already, haven’t you?”

 

Phil starts forward, slowly approaching the man as he raises his blade. “I have.”

 

Dream curses under his breath, his eyes frantically looking around for escape. “Be- Be reasonable King Philza-”

 

“You lost that when you took my son.” Phil darts forward without mercy, not noticing the way Dream locks his gaze on Wilbur’s shakily waking form. The Trickster shifts to doge the blade, but it isn’t enough as the sword plunges into the bastard’s side.

 

Dream gasps, slowly lowering to the ground as Phil rips out the sword. Blood bubbles up from his lips as he coughs. Truthfully, Phil aimed to give the man a quick death but the way Dream had dodged… well, he couldn’t say the man didn’t deserve it either.

 

Phil scowls at the dying man, then turns to face his songbird. “Wilbur”, he whispers. Dropping his blade to help his son to his feet.

 

Wilbur leans into him heavily, still blinking away unconsciousness as he finds his balance. Phil brushes stark white and brown strands of hair from his face, taking in everything that is Wilbur… and everything that isn’t. The white in his hair, the gold in his eyes and his veins, the scars that litter his neck and wrists, not to mention the gaping hole in his shirt that exposes multiple large scars.

 

Phil cups his son’s face in his hands, pressing their foreheads together before pulling him into a hug. “Darling… I missed you- I love you , so much.”

 

Wilbur returns the hug fiercely, burning his face into Phil’s neck with a sob. “Dad…”

 

Phil squeezes his son tighter. “It’s okay, you’re home. You’re home.”

 

Footsteps approach from behind them before two bodies collide with their own. Techno hugs them from the left while Tommy buries himself into the group hug from the right. The family stays that way for a few moments. As if they were the only ones on the planet, nothing else mattered. Just for a few moments.

 

Then the ethereal moment shatters with a small gasp. Phil couldn’t explain why his first reaction was to look down, but he spots the intrusion. A hand, broken through their perfect bubble and covered in blood, is wrapped around Wilbur’s ankle.

 

Everything ends all at once.

 

Wilbur goes limp in his arms. Green and golden sparks fill the air. Tommy screams. Techno lets go, raises his sword as realization sets in. Phil holds his dead son tighter as he lets his knees give out.

 

A Trickster smiles.

Chapter Text

“GET BACK HERE!”

 

Wilbur dashes around the corner of the building, clawed feet skidding as he slides on the stone bricks and crashes into a pile of fruit. Rolling to a pained stop in front of a translucent vender with green skin. Though, he doesn’t spare the time to apologize to the man before he’s scrambling to his feet with heaving breaths.

 

“CATCH HIM!”

 

“DON'T LET HIM GET AWAY!”

 

His heart pounds in his chest with each step, adrenaline and fear pumping through his veins. He casts a look behind him, then as he turns his stomach clenches. One of the men that had been chasing him suddenly jumps out in front of him, effectively cutting him off. Wilbur screeches, using his black and green-tipped wings to push himself around the man’s grasp and stumble past him.

 

“SHIT- DAMMIT I HAD HIM!”

 

Wilbur’s eyes scan the busy street for something, anything as he continues to run. All he needs is a person or another hybrid that seems friendly, a hiding spot, a weapon- hell he’d take a stale baguette at this point. His feet start to ache as small stones dig into his now-raw flesh. He contemplates giving up, or stealing a pair of shoes, or fighting back. That’s when he spots an alley tucked just between a few vendor stalls and what looks to be a tavern.

 

Taverns are good, great even! Most have food and other hybrids, or at least someone willing to help a random kid. Hopefully… well, smugglers like taverns too but… no, no there’ll be someone who will help him. There has to be.

He shoots a glance back behind him. The poachers chasing him are far enough behind, he reasons. So Wilbur ducks low and shoots for the alley. His wings tuck into his sides as he pushes past people in the crowds, all while trying to keep his tattered hood held above his head to attempt and protect his already burned skin.

 

Wilbur slips into the alley, relishing in the cool darkness it provides for just a moment before searching for a hiding place. Unfortunately, the alley is practically empty. The only potential hiding spots being a trash can, which… no, and a few boxes that are probably too small for him to fit in. He moves further into the alleyway, searching for more potential spots. Then multiple sets of footsteps echo behind him.

 

Wilbur panics, turning mostly invisible and frantically searching for something something something- 

 

“Oi there he is! Tried going invisible did you?”

 

Wilbur turns to face the group of poachers behind him. He instinctively lets out a low hiss as he scrambles backwards towards the dead end of the alley. His wings rattle, but the men don’t even look bothered.

 

One of the men chuckles and points at him with a sneer. “Aww poor little bi-breed. Looks like being an ever elusive and rare avian-phantom mix doesn’t quite work for you, does it kid?”

 

The other men laugh, though Wilbur’s panic grows. His eyes dart to his sides, searching for a way out of this. That’s when he spots a door that had been hidden in shadows. It has the same logo on it as the tavern sign, reading: “The Boar’s Nest” in faded white paint. It’s a split second decision but before the men can even move Wilbur darts to his right and phases through the door.

 

Muffled shouts echo from out in the alley as Wilbur unphases on the other side. Though his momentum doesn’t stop and he slams back-first into a large shelf. Nothing falls but the shelf groans eerily. The room he’s in is dark, but he doesn’t take the time to look at anything before he dives into the corner farthest from the door.

 

Multiple fists pound on the door, metal things that Wilbur can only assume are weapons scrape down it, and there’s more shouting. He clasps his dark-blue freckled hands over his pointed ears and reluctantly lets out a distressed chirp.

 

He’s going to die here, isn’t he? The men are going to break down the door. Then they’ll find him. Then they’ll cut off his wings and feathers then steal his membrane and eyes and-

 

A different door opens, then a light flickers on.

 

A large, hulking piglin-hybrid stands in the doorway. He has on the clothes of a bartender, though he looks like he could crush Wilbur with one finger. His hair is done the way Wilbur imagines a viking’s would be done, with multiple braids and fancy designs yet still threatening and efficient. He’s large and terrifying, but he walks through the room with grace like a warrior.

 

Wilbur simply stops breathing, not from astonishment, but because he hasn’t been noticed yet. The piglin-hybrid stalks towards the door that leads to the alley, to the poachers, and swings it wide open, nearly sending Wilbur into a premature death for the hundredth time today.

 

“What. The Hell. Are you doing.” The large man growls.

 

Wilbur can’t exactly see the poachers from around the hulking piglin-man and he doesn’t want to, but he can hear the distress in one man’s voice as he whispers, “S-shit, Technoblade.”

 

The piglin man huffs, “Yeah. Technoblade. Now get lost, and don’t bang on our damn door.”

 

There’s shuffling noises and the sound of feet retreating. Wilbur almost relaxes because the poachers are gone. Almost, but as the piglin man closes the door and latches it shut as he turns to leave he glances over to where Wilbur’s hiding.

 

Wilbur curls in on himself tighter, which is pathetic because he’s sixteen for Prime’s sake and should be able to defend himself. Though Wilbur knows that if the man decides he wants him dead then he would be in seconds.

 

The piglin man freezes and meets his eye. He doesn’t move an inch, only staring at Wilbur. They stay in a tense staring contest for nearly a minute before Wilbur breaks. He’s terrible at hiding emotions and if he’s going to die then so be it. Why hold back?

 

Wilbur lets out a whine as his instincts flare with his rising panic. His clawed fingers start to dig into his hair by his ears and his breath hikes up faster. He’s shaking as he presses himself further into the wall.

 

The piglin man starts to lower himself, glancing to the door where the poachers had been then back at Wilbur. With his same gruff voice he gently asks, “Hey, are you- uh- were those guys after you?”

 

Wilbur stares at the guy because really? The “nice guy” facade? Yet Wilbur nods, though his panic doesn’t recede. His wings grow twitchy on his back but he manages to restrain himself only due to his years of practice on hiding his instincts and the fact that the walls he’s pressed against restrict a lot of his movement.

 

The piglin man sighs and Wilbur digs his claws deeper into the soft skin around his ears. “Okay… okay you’re probably pretty scared then, huh?”

 

Wilbur usually would retort with a “no shit asshole” or a comedic “no the shaking and crying is normal”, but at the moment all he can do is let out a small distressed trill. Stupid honestly, he should speak like mother always told him to. He can’t be weak or animalistic or-

 

The piglin man slowly nods, then starts to stand.

 

So naturally Wilbur’s literal fight or flight kicks in. His wings unfurl themselves fully and beat as if he could take off, though he knows he couldn’t no matter how much he tries. Panic grips his mind and he starts to scramble to climb up something, anything, a sink he thinks distantly as his claws remove themselves from his ears to dig into stained white porcelain. His only thoughts centering on: get away get away fly fly fly -

 

A short trill from the other side of the room stops Wilbur in his tracks, half perched on top of a porcelain sink. His frantic and instinct-driven mind searching for whoever called out to him, then green eyes meet blue.

 

A crow hybrid stands on the other side of the room, shorter than the piglin, but the size of his wings make up for what he lacks in height. His wings are black as night like Wilbur’s, but some of his feathers are white in diamond shaped patterns. The presence of the man soothes some of the panic in his mind but his other hybrid half, the phantom half, isn’t satisfied.

 

The man takes a small step forward to block the piglin. Wilbur’s form starts to flicker as his panic rises again, then suddenly he’s fallen through the sink and back onto the ground. He’s stunned for a moment, and apparently that’s all it takes for the crow man to descend on him.

 

Arms wrap around him and Wilbur lets out a distress call, writhing and flapping in his wings to get out get outgetoutgetout -

 

Another call meets his own. PROTECT , resounding through Wilbur’s bones as he hears the rumble from the call in the man’s chest as he holds him.

 

Wilbur’s panic quickly dissipates as he stills in the man’s arms. He isn’t being hurt, no the man is… he’s running his hands along Wilbur’s spine and making small chirping noises. He melts into the touch, letting his eyes fall shut as exhaustion takes over.

 

The older avian's claw-tipped fingers move into his hair and all restraint Wilbur had disappeared. He lets small smile grace his lips as a happy rumble finds itself stuck in his chest.

 

The man above him speaks. “Awww, sweet one. Just needed to feel safe. Where did- why was he so afraid Techno?”

 

The piglin man from before speaks again somewhere away from Wilbur. “Poachers were the ones banging at the door. I assume the kid was running from them and wound up in here.”

 

The crow man hums quietly, still scratching at Wilbur’s scalp. He can feel the man’s eyes on him, but at the moment he couldn’t particularly care. A clawed finger just barely runs over the new marks around his ears before it moves down to tap at his cheek. “Oh… poor thing. It’s because he’s mixed. Little one has moon freckles, green eyes… he’s probably phantom and avian.”

 

Wilbur tiredly scrunches up his nose at the ‘little one’ comment. “ ‘M not lil’.”, he whines.

 

The man above him laughs and continues to scratch at his scalp and slowly work around his ears. “Kiddo you’re practically still a toddler in avian years. I can tell by your wings.”

 

Wilbur grumbles, but doesn’t protest. He’s too tired now.

 

The piglin man chuffs from somewhere else in the room, but tries to disguise it as a cough. “Ahem- ah, I can- I’ll go get the kid some blankets or food… or something. Take him up to one of the empty rooms if you’re gonna put him to sleep Phil. The floor can’t be comfy.”

 

The crow man must nod because seconds later hoofsteps exit the room. Leaving Wilbur in a melted pile in the light embrace of the crow man. Maybe he should be concerned that a random avian man is holding him, scratching his head, playing with his feathers like only a parent should. Though Wilbur’s touch starved and parent deprived soul aches for it and keeps him rooted in the man’s grasp.

 

Crow man lets out another small chirp, and this time Wilbur responds. The man’s hand freezes in his hair, then gently moves away to cup his face.

 

“It’s alright moonlight, you’re safe now. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”

Chapter Text

G

 

C

 

D

 

G

 

C

 

D

 

G -

 

Wilbur drops his hand away from the guitar strings with a content sigh. The breeze carrying the sound of his chord progressions over the edge of the crow’s nest and down into the ears of his shipmates. Well… hopefully. He isn’t sure if they could hear it with all of Tommy’s yapping.

 

“ITS THE COOLEST THING TUBBS! I SAW IT ONCE I DID! THATS WHY THEY CALL ME TOMMY CAREFUL DANGER KRAKEN-“

 

Someone laughs from down below, Technoblade, he assumes. “Tommy nobody calls you that-“

 

“YES THEY DO!”

 

Tubbo says something that Wilbur can’t quite hear, so he starts to zone out of the conversation. He sets his guitar to the side as he moves to stand. The crows nest is lovely, truly, but it could do with a little more leg room. He doesn’t complain though, standing and looking out over the waves in the seemingly endless blue ocean.

 

There’s nothing to see but ocean for miles upon miles, but with the evening sun moving to set he knows that just beyond the horizon is home. Home, where Sally is. Where his friends are. Where Phil can finally make some proper biscuits that don’t taste like they’d been scrounged from the bottom of the ship.

 

He scans the waters with a bit of a bored expression. Though the life of a man at sea is thrilling, being the lookout in the crows nest can get quite boring when there is nothing but water as far as the eye can see. He doesn’t complain though, he owes this crew his life and any job he could take to make it up to them would make him more than happy to serve.

 

It’s not like they hold a debt over him, no. What they do hold over his head though is compassion. Oddly enough when they dredged his nearly-dead body from the shipwreck that claimed the life of his parents, they showed him nothing but kindness and gave him a sort of found family.

 

Phil, being the captain, had accepted him quickly as help aboard the ship yet never pressured him to work on the days he struggled. Techno was the same as the right hand, never making him push himself and always being there as someone to lean on. Tommy, Tubbo, and even the newest shipmate Ranboo have grown to be sort of little brothers in his eyes.

 

Even on their sister-ship, that of which is commanded by none other than Phil’s wife Kristin, he was accepted into the family with whole-hearted love. ‘Mumza’, as he’d dubbed her, quickly took him in and let him talk though all of his troubles like some sort of angel or goddess sent from above. Niki, Puffy, Jack, and the youngest mate named Beau had all grown on him quickly as well.

 

It’s been three years since they saved him, yet he’s still here. He’s never been pressured into taking up jobs on the ship rather than living life on land with his girlfriend and friends from home. Though Wilbur stays and risks everything because he simply loves his crew and their sister-crew. He isn’t quite sure what he’d do without them now.

 

Wilbur smiles to himself as he glances down to watch Tommy spew his arguments out to Techno and Tubbo below on the deck. Meanwhile Ranboo is tending to some of the nets and Phil is steering the ship. Phil jokingly barks out something to the others along the lines of that they should get back to work, so the three talkers move and pick up random jobs to do along the deck.

 

He sighs, supposing he should get back to his job as well. So Wilbur glances up back at the ocean, looking around in a bit of a half circle formation. He’s about to turn away, but something catches his eye in the water off to the side of the ship.

 

This thing is some sort of shadow, large but not concerningly enough so to make him panic. He watches it as it moves, slowly growing larger and larger to the point that Wilbur decides he should begin to worry. So he leans over the edge of the crow’s nest towards where Phil is manning the wheel.

 

“CAPTAIN! THERE’S SOMETHING UNDER THE WATER! ITS LARGE AND HEADED STRAIGHT FOR THE SHIP OFF OUR STARBOARD SIDE!”

 

Phil looks up at him, though doesn’t seem too concerned as he flashes a smile. “MOST LIKELY JUST A WHALE MATE! EVERYONE HOLD ON TO SOMETHING IN CASE IT BUMPS US!”

 

Wilbur grips the edge of the railings a bit tighter as he turns to see the shadow having grown much, much larger as well as longer. It moves oddly as it gets closer to the boat, then suddenly it disappears. Wilbur huffs, confused. Why would a whale dive just before the boat? Typically-

 

The entirety of the water surrounding the ship suddenly turns black as a shadow quickly rises up from the depths. Wilbur’s eyes widen, but before he can call out a warning the water around them explodes. The ship teeters dangerously as Wilbur holds onto the railing for dear life. The youngest below scream, causing Wilbur to frantically reopen his eyes from where he’d shut them in fearing for his life.

 

Though as he looks up to find the source of whatever seems to be casting a shadow over their vessel, he immediately regrets opening his eyes at all. Large suction-cup filled tentacles stretch up out of the ocean around them from almost all sides, blocking out almost all of the sun from reaching what looks like is going to be their final resting place in the great below.

 

“The Kraken…”, he whispers to himself. Shock still having not ebbed away yet.

 

The creature lets out an awful screech as it’s horrifyingly large beak penetrates the water’s surface. He’s tempted to look at the creature more, as terrifying as it is. Though all he can find himself doing is looking down at the deck to make sure the crew is alright.

 

Phil and Techno are scrambling and drawing their swords and guns, trying to gather up their youngest crew members and usher them towards the captain’s quarters. Ranboo is being dragged along by Tubbo, who’s being dragged along by Tommy as they make a dash towards Phil’s room. They nearly make it to the door before Tommy stops and casts a fear-filled glance up to the crow’s nest.

 

Wilbur could never forget the horror-stricken look on the blonde’s face as the teen realized that he wasn’t with them. That he couldn’t get to safety like they could.

 

Tommy lets go of Tubbo, rushing back towards the main mast of the deck before being stopped by Techno as the man shoots at the tentacles. “WILBUR! WILBUR GET DOWN PLEASE GET DOWN-“

 

The ship groans and shakes as The Kraken’s tentacles begin to tighten against its sides. He grips the railing as tight as he can as he’s forced to his knees and wraps his arms around it to find some sort of purchase. Wilbur looks back down to his brothers, knowing this very will could be the last time he sees them. “I’LL BE OKAY!”, he lies, “I- I LOVE YOU! GO WITH TECHNO, I’LL BE-“

 

A tentacle begins to descend as it moves to wrap around the center of the ship and destroy it. The sudden shaking launches Techno into action as he drags Tommy away and into Phil’s room, sending him a long look and shooting at The Kraken’s appendages fruitlessly before shutting the door.

 

Wilbur lets out a shaky breath. His family is safe, as long as they stay in Phil’s quarters they should be able to escape this relatively fine once the ship is destroyed. They’ll at least be alive enough to grab onto a piece of driftwood and wait for someone to find them. Their safety is what he’d needed the most.

 

Wilbur lets himself start to cry as the tentacles that had encapsulated the middle of the ship breaks it in two. He lets himself scream as the mast cracks and shudders, causing him to slip and fall over the edge of his post.

 

Falling isn’t what scares him.

 

As he falls he sees the sky through the broken mass of tentacles. Cloudless today, extending endlessly blue for as far as the eye can see. Much like the ocean that he loves so dearly.

 

Wilbur doesn’t close his eyes as he falls. He doesn’t fear the moments where the sky grows farther and The Kraken’s screeches grow louder. He smiles as he falls.

 

He’ll miss Sally, and Phil, and Techno, and Tommy, Tubbo, Ranboo, Mumza, Niki, Puffy, Jack, Beau, Scott, Eret, James, Ninja, Dream etcetera etcetera. He’ll miss the sky, and the breeze, and the sun. He’ll miss his music, though he watches as his guitar falls with him just out of his reach. He supposes it’s right in some way.

 

The captain’s quarters come into view in his peripheral vision as he falls through the now broken part of the ship towards the mouth of the beast below. The door is cracked, his family is screaming for him. Though he still smiles, because they’re safe.

 

Wilbur closes his eyes, and falls into the waters below.


Captain Philza Craft arrives along with what’s left of his crew in L’Manberg on his wife’s ship three days after the attack of his own. He send the youngest ones home with his wife as he trudged down the murky streets. Techno is at his side, silent as they approach the small home tucked between many others and only standing out because of the numbers emblazoned on the front door.

 

16157 Topia Avenue

 

Phil takes the steps slowly, hand hesitating as he reaches to knock on the door. He taps against it three times and waits. He almost hopes there is no answer, but he’s never been a very fortunate man.

 

It creaks open, the quickly opens wide to reveal a red haired woman holding a hand almost instinctively over her stomach. She smiles widely at them. “Phil! Technoblade! You’re all back! I have wonderful news and I’m sure Wilbur has already told you if he received my letters in Las Nevadas while you all were there, but I’m pregnant!”

 

Phil’s stomach grows sick as Sally smiles at him eagerly. He can’t- he can’t do this to her.

 

Techno shakily speaks up from beside him, eyes downcast and off to the side. “Sally… we, we have to tell you-“

 

The woman’s smile instantly falls. She scans over them, assesses everything about them, then her expression quickly shatters. A hand snakes around her stomach as one flies to her mouth. “He- No he’s not-“

 

Phil nods, and the night air is filled with a haunting scream.

Chapter Text

Being president is much, much more than a title. It’s a full-time job, a lifestyle, a hobby, even a burden at times. Though Wilbur would never say that to anyone’s face other than his own. In the mirror. Late at night when nobody in L’Manberg but him was stirring. Because even as much as the thought of paperwork and responsibilities sets him on edge, the people look up to him. L’Manberg looks up to him. So he can’t be weak.

 

Wilbur glances up at his clock, with a sigh. Seven in the morning already. Another sleepless night to add onto his pile of bad habits. He drops the pen in his hands and folds in on himself, burying his face into his elbows as he tries to subside the pounding headache just behind his eyes.

 

If he could have five minutes. Just five. Power naps are what’s kept him functioning over the last however-many days it’s been since he’s gotten a proper night of sleep, and so help him Void he’ll do it again.

 

Though he gets no such grace as someone slams their fists against the door of the Camarvan. “RISE AND SHINE BIG DUBS! LOTS OF COOL PRESIDENT AND FREEDOM THINGS TO DO!”, Tommy shouts from just outside the door.

 

Wilbur nearly sobs at the thought of having to rise from his incredibly uncomfortable chair. Though he does, ignoring the way his vision goes blank for a moment as he waits for the dizziness and lightheadedness to subside. He reasons that he should eat something this morning considering he didn’t eat lunch or dinner yesterday, but Tommy pounds against the door again impatiently. So he forgoes the idea of food and settles on slipping his uniform jacket over the uniform he hadn’t taken off from yesterday, starting towards the door.

 

He opens it and scrunches his face at the way the sun stabs at his still-sensitive eyes. He yawns, stretching out his arms as he goes down the steps. Tommy is staring at him, so Wilbur smiles. “Ayup, mornin’ Toms.”

 

Though Tommy doesn’t return the saying, just continues to stare at him with a scrunched up and judgemental look. He seems to be looking Wilbur over, assessing his everything. Though Wilbur tries to keep up the spirits and distract the boy. “I said mornin’ Toms. If you’re gonna be silent today then I guess we can’t head over to the bakery and ask Niki to let you have one of those chocolate scones you love. A shame really-“

 

“Wilbur… did you sleep last night?”

 

Wilbur pauses. Does he really look that bad? It hasn’t been that long since he’s slept last. “Yeah, yeah of course. What makes you ask Tommy?”

 

His right hand continues to eye him over with a concerned look. “You’re just… I don’t know Wil. Ya look a bit frazzled big man. You can go back in the van and go to bed, the others and I can-“

 

Wilbur waves the boy off and starts to make his way towards the prime path. “Nonsense Toms. I’m fine, I have things to do today and as President I should be there. I can’t just disappear and come off as lazy-“

 

Tommy follows at his heels. “Wilbur, it isn't lazy to get proper sleep! You need rest to be at your poggest big man and you can’t-“

 

Wilbur sighs and waves the boy off again. “We can talk about it later Tommy, okay? I have important things to do today but… look I promise I’ll take a nap later, alright?”

 

His right hand huffs, but dejectedly nods. 

 

Wilbur counts it as a win on his part and continues down the path. They reach town quickly and go about the day regularly. 

 

Some of the shopkeepers talk with them about trade opportunities and market supplies, while some of the regular townsfolk stop to ask him about things from the war or problems they need help with and such. They get a small break by stopping through Niki’s shop and grabbing some sandwiches she prepared for them, but before he knows it it’s nearly three in the afternoon. The sandwich still sits in his pocket uneaten.

 

His headache is throbbing now, making his vision a bit blurry as they walk down the prime path and towards Tubbo’s house. They need the younger’s opinions on some projects for town and instead of calling Tubbo to come to them Wilbur decided it’s be easier just to walk there. Though the further they walk the more Wilbur regrets his decision.

 

Tommy is talking to him, but Wilbur can’t pay attention to a word the boy says. All of his effort strained on making sure he continues walking semi-straight along the path.

 

A hand finds his shoulder to stop him. His skull throbs at the sudden movement, a noise escapes him as the pain continues to build. Someone is speaking to him, but as the throbbing reaches its crescendo the world goes black. Hands catch him, and unconsciousness pulls him under.


Tommy curses as Wilbur starts to take a nosedive into the prime path, reaching out and grabbing his brother before he can collapse and brain himself on the wood. He slowly lowers the older onto the ground and flips him on his back before Tommy lets himself start to panic. 

 

Because what the fuck?!

 

Why the fuck?!

 

How the fuck?!

 

His fingers feel along Wilbur’s neck to search for his pulse, strong. Bastard is alive but definitely fucking completely unconscious. Tommy groans because fuck, he knew something about Wilbur was off but he assumed it would be fine because Wilbur was responsible. Terrible fucking assumption on his part.

 

Tommy taps Wilbur’s face to try and bring the older back, but it’s to no avail. His president remains unconscious on the ground, mumbling about fish or something. So Tommy sits on the ground and pulls a knee to his chest as he digs through his pocket for his communicator.

 

Tommyinnit: Hey Tubbs I need help

 

Tubbo_: What did you do

 

Tommyinnit: NOTHIAF YOU FUQK

Tommyinnit: Wilbur passed out on the prime path

 

Tubbo_: Oh shit, I’m coming. Fundy too

 

Tommyinnit: Don’t cum big man Wilbur needs help

 

Tubbo doesn’t reply, so Tommy pockets his communicator and looks back over at Wilbur. Nothing has changed so Tommy taps his brother’s face with his foot tauntingly. If Wilbur were to wake up right now he’d be pissed, but the brunette doesn’t so much as twitch.

 

Footsteps from behind draw Tommy’s attention. He glances behind him to see a flash of soft pink hair, so he raises a hand in a half wave. “Hey Niki!”

 

Said woman comes to a stop on the other side of Wilbur, concerned eyes flicking up to meet Tommy’s before going back to Wilbur. “Tommy what happened? Why is he-“

 

Tommy sighs. “Big man passed out, I’ve tried waking him up a bit but he’s stubborn.” He’s quiet for a moment. “Plus, he needs it.”

 

Niki fiddles around with feeling for Wilbur’s pulse and checking his breathing before she sits back on her heels. “Does he do this a lot?”, she asks quietly.

 

He shakes his head. “Nah, but I don’t think he’s been sleeping lately. Don’t know why though.”

 

Niki nods, then two sets of pounding footsteps draw their gazes up the prime path. Tubbo and Fundy come to a screeching halt beside them. Fundy instantly moves to fuss with his father.

 

“So… he just up and passed out?” Tubbo asks awkwardly.

 

Tommy nods. “Yup. We were walking to your house and he just went down all of a sudden. He looked kinda frazzled this morning so I knew something was wrong but… I don’t know man.”

 

Fundy is surprisingly quiet about everything. Niki is actually the next to speak up.

 

“Did he eat the sandwiches I gave you both?”

 

Tommy thinks a moment before shaking his head. “No, he said he’d eat it later I think.”

 

She sighs and lightly punches Wilbur’s arm, who once again doesn’t react. “You idiot.” She chastises. “If he hasn’t eaten and if you’re right about how he isn’t sleeping then it makes sense. He isn’t waking up so why don’t we try to get him back to the van.”

 

They all nod, moving to help one another gather up Wilbur’s gangly limbs. It only takes about ten minutes to walk the unconscious president back to the drug van, but by the time they reach it they’re all worn out. Who knew it was so hard to carry 180 pounds of dead weight and long limbs?

 

They get Wilbur into the van and nearly to his room before Fundy starts to take more of his father’s weight. “Ah, thanks for getting him back here. I can take him into bed though so, yeah, thanks again-“

 

Tommy frowns. “We can help you get him in there big man. He’s just dead weight right now so-“

 

The fox shakes his head rapidly, pulling more of Wilbur onto his shoulders with ferver as he backs away from them and closer to Wilbur’s room. “No I’ve got him! Thanks guys but uh, you know how he is with privacy. Just let me do this alright? I’ll let you all know how he is when wakes up, okay?”

 

Tubbo, Niki, and Tommy look between one another. Fundy’s behavior is… odd, admittedly. Though he’s right about Wilbur and his privacy, so they let the fox take his father’s weight. The last they see of him is a small wave of goodbye before the door locks behind him and Wilbur.

 

They leave the van awkwardly, nobody saying anything before all leaving to continue about their days. It’s only five hours later that Tommy’s communicator pings while he’s working on his newest cobblestone tower.

 

ItsFundy: He’s awake :) Made him eat the sandwich and an apple. He’s okay!

 

Tommyinnit: pog

Tommyinnit: tell him he’s an idiot

 

Another message pops up seconds later.

 

WilburSoot: dickhead

 

Tommyinnit: Glad you aren’t dead bitch

 

WilburSoot: …

WilburSoot: gremlin child has feelings?

 

Tommyinnit: FJCK YOH

Chapter Text

When you sleep and wake, you expect to see something as you return from slumber. Sunlight, a friend, a blaring alarm, your dark bedroom… something. Though Wilbur expects the same as well, when he wakes he just sees a blank stone wall.

 

His breath stills as his still tired mind tries to comprehend. He shakes his head as he catches sight of the markings on said wall, hastily etched into the brick to count day after day after day. Thirteen… thirteen years and nearly twenty-seven days. His nails find purchase in his arms as he hones in on the scattered litter from ghosts that travel the rails yet are never seen, and tracks that lead to nowhere.

 

Wilbur doesn’t restrain a sob. Was he that bad? Was he truly so awful to be brought again? What had he done? What did he do a second time around that forced him to suffer again?

 

Why the trains? Why why why why why why why whywhywhywhywhywhywhywhywhy whywhywhy

 

Horns blare in the distance. Calling trains that run down tracks he’ll never see. Shadowed figures move along the platform and disappear onto trains he can’t see and will never see. They leave while he’s stuck here forever.

 

Forever .

 

This time is forever.

 

He sobs again at the thought. He went well past insane after thirteen years, what will he do once he’s here for even longer? There’s no rhyme or rhythm to Limbo it’s just blank blank blank and trains and ghosts and an eternity of suffering forever.

 

Wilbur tips his head back and rests it against the stone wall. It feels oddly smooth for a jagged stone wall but he ignores it in favor of his rapidly quickening breaths. He can’t stop himself as the panic bubbles in his chest and makes him draw his knees closer to himself.

 

Something tangles around his legs but it’s nothing, it can’t be anything. Not while he’s here. Not in Limbo. The worst part of Limbo is it’s freedom and un-restriction because in reality he’s anything but.

 

The trains blare loudly in his ears and at first it’s hard to hear, but eventually he listens to the whispers in his head. Wilbur glances up at the dot matrix, expecting words or some explanation of why he died again. Why is he stuck again -

 

But he can’t read it. The words are all jumbled and blurry but the whispers still persist him. He can hear people but they aren’t there. They can’t be . This is Limbo and nobody but Wilbur is here. Not even Schlatt or Mexican Dream had visited him in the last two years he’d been trapped in Limbo and those are the only two that could visit often.

 

The voices get slightly louder, but are continually drowned out by the trains. They rumble and squeal in his ears but they aren’t visible . He knows they’re there but they aren’t and he hates it.

 

Wilbur sobs again, digging his nails deeper into his skin until he starts to feel something. His fingers grow wet as blood pricks up from the divots. Wilbur watches and does nothing as the whispering voices frantically start up again. Multiple voices are together now.

 

Wilbur tries to squeeze into his arm again, harder this time. Though something stops him. His hands are stopped by… something. He can’t see something because Limbo doesn’t have something’s . The something moves his hands away from his arms, then leave his hands to touch his face.

 

He’s brought somewhere else through a memory. A small office, bad artwork, books, pens, smiles, tea, and a woman with large curly hair and a note pad.

 

Wilbur’s shaky free hand lifts to his face, trying to touch the something that’s touching him. A voice that's louder but still not discernible says something. He still can’t tell what though.

 

Maybe this is his new and improved Limbo. Maybe this is how he’s to be taunted for the rest of his afterlife. Always within reach of getting help but not being able to achieve any. His friends and family boarding other trains and leaving him behind just like everyone else.

 

Wilbur sobs again as the something on his face taps his cheek gently. He knows it's a trick, a fake something and it ends in disappointment just like everything else in Limbo (especially him), but he can’t resist leaning into the touch a bit.

 

For some reason, that releases the auditory fog over his mind. Allowing the whispers to get loud enough so he can just be able to hear what they say.

 

“-hear me? Wilbur, if you can hear me then tap your foot twice. I know you’re scared right now, but if you can hear me I need you to let me know okay?”

 

Wilbur chokes back the sob building in his chest. Something is… a woman. There aren’t any women in Limbo. The only one who’s ever visited is his mother and even then he hadn’t seen her. Though he knows this isn’t her so who could something be? Maybe if he…

 

Wilbur hesitantly taps his foot twice, oddly not hearing the tap of his shoes on concrete flooring but instead the moving of fabric. Something taps at his face again and speaks. “Good job Wilbur! I’m so proud of you. You’re doing so well. Can we play a game together?”

 

He pauses, but nods in the hopes that Something could see him. Apparently Something did see him, because they quickly start explaining the rules of the game and how it should work. Something asks him a question and Wilbur gives Something the answer. Simple.

 

“What are five things you see Wilbur?”, Something asks.

 

Wilbur tries to calm down his breathing as he looks around. He spots the most colorful places in his personal hell-hole and decides that would be enough for Something. “Train tracks, walls, marks, a dot matrix, barriers.”, he rattles.

 

Something must not like his answer, because it reprimands him. “No, no Wilbur you aren’t there. I promise. I need you to tell me things you can see now.”

 

Wilbur tries to hold back another sob because he failed . He failed he failed hefailedhefailedhefaield-

 

Something speaks to him again. “You didn’t fail Wilbur, it’s okay. Breath with me, okay? Can you do that?”

 

No, because he doesn’t need to breathe. Breathing isn’t necessary in limbo and he’s scared and Something knows he’s a failure so why should he?

 

“Wilbur, you’re going to pass out if you can’t slow down your breathing. Follow my breaths okay? I promise-“

 

Wilbur shakes his head, pulling away from Something’s touch as the lights in the train station begin to flicker. Something’s voice calls out to him again but the train horns only grow louder and louder. He hits some kind of invisible wall as he moves away from something, so as his head grows fuzzy he lets himself too sideways onto the oddly soft concrete. The lights flicker out and the trains suddenly stop blaring as he’s pulled into darkness.


There is no brick or stone when he wakes. Instead there is a dirt roof over his head held up by sturdy wooden pillars. Tommy’s house then, he reasons.

 

Wilbur warily pushes himself up from where he lays awkwardly on his bed. His head is opposite from his pillow and instead of being covered in the sheets of the bed he’s covered in the hand-made quilt that Tommy had proudly shown him when Wilbur commented on the younger's new hobby.

 

He presses a palm into his eyes as his mind starts to wake up. There’s crust built up in the corners of his eyes as he blinks away the fogginess of the morning. As he blearily looks across the room, he freezes as he makes eye contact.

 

Puffy smiles at him from across the room. “Oh! Good, you’re awake.”

 

“Erm- Morning… Puffy. What are you.. is Tommy okay?”, he starts. He flips his legs over the side of the bed to stand, but before he can even get to his feet Puffy has moved to sit beside him.

 

Her curly hair bounces as she sits beside him heavily, placing a hand on his shoulder as she gives him a look akin to something like sympathy. “No, Tommy is okay. I’m here for you Wilbur.”, she says softly.

 

Wilbur opens his mouth to ask her why, but the memory of last night’s nightmare leads him to close it. He hadn’t gone back, had he? But he could hear Puffy in the train station so it couldn’t have just been a nightmare, but it also was so real but not-

 

Puffy’s hand squeezes his shoulder. “Wilbur, do you remember what happened last night?”

 

He nods, refusing to meet her eye. “Sort of… Look I’m sorry you came all the way over here because I had a nightmare. I’m fine, really-“

 

She gives him a pointed look that makes him stop mid-sentence. She tsks at him, but doesn’t remove her hand from his shoulder. “I came here because Tommy said you woke up screaming, then you weren’t responding and you had a panic attack. And what have we talked about, no dismissing your feelings and experiences, remember?

 

Wilbur bites his lower lip and nods. A sigh escapes him as he draws a knee up to his chest so he can rest his arm on it. “ ‘M sorry.”, he whispers.

 

Puffy lifts a hand to his face, taking it and turning it so he can face her. She looks at him pointedly, though she sports a light smile. “No saying sorry for things that aren’t your fault either, alright? I can… guess, but I’d like to hear about your nightmare and what you were seeing. We can work through it together, okay?”

 

Wilbur contemplates it for a few moments, though in the end he just gives her a small smile in return. “Yeah… yeah okay.”

 

Puffy stands to grab her notepad before returning to sit by him. They share one last smile, then Wilbur begins.

 

Unlike the train tracks, healing isn’t linear.

Chapter Text

“Brothers, Sisters, Friends… we gather here today in camaraderie. In Faith . We gather because we are all preparing to join souls and drink ! Drink so that we all can be blessed and saved by Prime, her holy goddess of Life and Death.”

 

Wilbur shifts uncomfortably in his white button-up shirt. The room grows stuffy as Leader John continues speaking, throwing his arms around and walking in wide circles. Some of the servant sisters are walking around and handing out pretty glass cups with a red drink in it, making him even more nervous as they make their way through the rows and closer to him and his family. He leans over to his dad and taps their shoes together. His father glances down at him and mouths, ‘What?’.

 

Wilbur shifts then mouths back, ‘Why are we here?’

 

His father looks at him, staring for a few seconds too long with a soft and pained look before glancing up to his grandmother and back to him. “Salvation”, he whispers into Wilbur’s ear.

 

He nods. This is it then. The day they’re to be saved. Prime will come and rescue them from their sinful mortal restraints and ascend all of them to the beyond… supposedly.

 

Wilbur looks away from his father to watch Leader John continue to speak, though he doesn’t actually listen. Since he was born he’s been surrounded by these people, the communion of Prime. Well… sort of. He ran off at the park once when he was six and some lady thought he was her son. She had a really pretty hat and her husband had blonde hair. They were really nice, he thinks. They weren’t part of the communion but they still brought him to their house. They wanted him to meet someone, but he ran away before they could. Just like Leader John always says to do.

 

Dad had been so scared, but he almost seemed disappointed that Wilbur had come back. No matter though, Leader John and the sisters were excited just like his grandmother was. That was about two years ago but still to this day Wilbur swears he can feel how much his Dad wishes he weren’t here.

 

Wilbur is shaken from his thoughts as one of the sisters stands beside him. Sister Vivian hands him a glass, her fingers slightly shaking. Wilbur gives her a warm smile like grandma always says to do when someone is scared, but instead of smiling back she looks even more scared. Weird, but Sister Vivian always seemed scared so Wilbur isn’t too worried.

 

Leader John grabs his own cup and raises it to the sky. “TODAY! TODAY MY FRIENDS! WE DRINK FOR PRIME, OUR GODDESS OF LIFE AND DEATH! TO CHURCH PRIME!”

 

Wilbur follows his grandmother’s lead as they raise their own cups to the sky and join in unison as a communion. “ TO CHURCH PRIME!

 

Grandmother drinks her glass to the last drop, so does Dad, and so does everyone in the communion. Wilbur brings his glass to his lips and begins to gulp it, though stops as a bitter taste hits his tongue. He coughs for a moment, the sour drink burning his throat and sitting like a stone in his stomach. He makes a face before remembering that he has to do it. He has to drink it all for Prime. For salvation.

 

Wilbur brings the glass to his mouth again to continue to drink, but his Dad’s hand stops the glass. It’s pulled away from Wilbur and set on the ground by Dad’s feet.

 

“Dad?”, he whispers.

 

His Dad is looking at him, though he looks sick. Dad’s cheeks are going white and his eyes are sort of blurry, but he still looks at him seriously. Hands moving to grip Wilbur’s own. “Bur, don’t drink.. ‘kay? Don… don’t do it, alrigh’?”, he slurs.

 

Wilbur scrunches his brows as his stomach starts to gurgle. “But Dad I have to-“

 

Grandmother falls out of her chair, her arms and legs are shaking wildly and she’s making weird noises. Wilbur wants to move to help her, but then Dad falls over as well. More and more people start to fall over in their chairs, doing weird things with their bodies before going completely still.

 

Wilbur wants to help, he wants to call out for someone, but his stomach starts to hurt more and more. Tears start to pour down his face as he watches everyone he knows fall. He closes his eyes tightly as he moves to the floor, though immediately reopens them as he hears his Dad.

 

Dad is laying super still and his breathing is funny, but Wilbur moves beside him anyways. He gets beside Dad’s face and moves a hand to his stomach as it pangs. “What’s happening Dad, are you okay? Why is everyone sick? Prime will help, right? Prime will-“

 

Dad lifts a hand, Wilbur grabs it and presses it to his face before it can fall. “B’r.. ‘m sorry. ‘M sorry b’by. I love you… ‘m s’rry b’r.”, Dad mumbles.

 

His tears mix with his snot as he cries, though he couldn’t care less as he watches Dad go still. Wilbur whines as the hand on his face goes limp, fingers falling away from where they’d rubbed his hair. Wilbur grasps his stomach again, though the pain is taking over his body entirely. He lifts his Dad’s arm so it lays over him like a hug, curling up and laying his aching head on the chest that no longer moves.

 

Salvation , Wilbur thinks bitterly. This isn’t salvation, this is death. He may only be eight years old but he knows what death is. He knows that Grandma, and the communion, and- and Dad…

 

Tears cloud his vision as he curls into himself, sobbing and crying for his dead Dad while he waits for death himself. The pain makes his limbs go stiff, his head grows fuzzy as his thoughts start to slip away like spilled water. Though footsteps draw his attention, so he sobs louder.

 

He can see a blurry figure standing in the aisle, holding a glass in their hands before dropping it so it can shatter. The figure then pulls something black and shiny from their pocket. Wilbur opens his mouth to plead for help, though stops as he hears something click.

 

“Oh Wilbur… you’re still not dead? Tsk , always the defiant one you were. Doesn’t help that your pathetic excuse for a fake father was a traitor. I suppose since you didn’t take my generous offer of salvation, I’ll send you to damnation myself.” The figure aims the black thing towards Wilbur.

 

The pain makes his bones sting and his fear of the blurry man makes everything hurt even worse. Wilbur cries out, sobbing and pleading as the blurry man laughs. His mind starts to blur like his vision.

 

Then there’s a loud bang somewhere.

 

Someone yells, “JOHN DRAEGR YOU ARE UNDER ARREST-“

 

Blurry man moves, then there are loud bangs from everywhere in the room. Blurry man is on the ground now, which makes Wilbur only cry louder. His vision starts to leave him, black dots flooding his vision as boots pound on the wooden floor of Church Prime.

 

Gentle arms pry him away from Dad’s body, but he’s in too much pain to care. Wilbur whines as his heart clenches in his chest, though before darkness can take him he imagines a man and a woman. The woman in her pretty hat smiles at him and kisses his head while the man with the golden hair swipes a hair from his face.

 

Wilbur doesn’t know exactly who they are, or why he sees them, but relents as his mind finally gives in to the darkness.

Chapter Text

“Tommy… are you sure you want this? Like.. I mean are you sure you want him -“

 

“Yes, Tubbo! What kind of fuckin’ question is that? Prime man...”

 

The goat hybrid nods to him slowly, no longer bothering the blonde as he pulls concrete powder and a bucket from his inventory. Though Tommy stops himself as he looks at the hastily drawn design he’d made. The design for his brother’s memorial. His grave .

 

A hand settles on his shoulder. “Tommy, I’ll help you. If that’s- if this is really what you want.”

 

Tommy swallows the rising tears and shoves his emotions deep into his chest. He’s cried over this already. He’s already been-here-done-that with the mourning but the grief… he’s… he’s not so sure yet.

 

“Why-“, Tommy takes a shaky breath, “Tubbo nobody else will build him a grave. Nobody else. Not even you. So I have to.”

 

His best friend presses into his side, gaze turned to look towards the early morning sun. Tubbo is silent for a moment before he speaks. “Wilbur… betrayed a lot of people Tommy. He betrayed us .”

 

Tommy leans into his friend but bites back at him angrily. “Schlatt was a fucking tyrant but he still had a grave. He even got a funeral Tubbs and- why doesn’t- why can’t Wilbur? Was Wilbur really worse than Schlatt?”

 

Tubbo is silent at his side, which is how he knows they’ve come to an understanding. The goat hybrid starts to nod, and a short smile finds its way to his face. “Better start building then shouldn’t we, big man?”

 

Tommy smiles back at him. “Yeah… thanks Tubbs.”

 

They start with a concrete base, building and supporting it so it can mold into a decorative piece. It takes multiple hours to get right, stretching their work into the afternoon hours. Eventually Tommy sets to work on a plaque while they wait for the cement to dry, Tubbo peeks over his shoulder to watch the engraving process once every so often. The silence bothers him, so Tommy sighs to fill the absence of conversation.

 

Tubbo catches on instantly and shifts to sit beside Tommy. “Whatcha thinking about?”, he says as he crosses his legs over one another.

 

Tommy’s hand slows from where he’s etching letters into a gold plaque piece. “L’Manberg… the original one…”, he whispers.

 

Tubbo sucks in a breath. “Oh…”

 

They fall silent again, though Tommy refuses to let the conversation die again. “I was thinkin’ about… do you remember when- when Wilbur used to sing that stupid little song whenever we would get hurt?”

 

Something sparks behind Tubbo’s eyes, well… the one that isn’t fogged over from where he’d been blown up. Something shifts in the goat hybrid's attitude as he smiles. “Yeah, the one that went like ‘Doo doo Doo doo doop’, right?”

 

Tommy chuckles. “No it went like ‘da da da da da daaa’, idiot!”

 

Tubbo shoves Tommy’s arm with a giggle. “Whatever! The lyrics were the same though.”

 

They lean into one another and harmonize (badly). “Papa found a rock and he skipped it ‘cross the lake, the rock hit a frog and it yelled ‘OW!’, the bunny kissed the frog and it went ‘Wow!’, the bunny and the frog hopped away, and the big shiny sun smiled all daaaaaaaaaay!”

 

They both fall into a fit of giggles as the song ends, warmth in their cheeks and a fuzzy feeling in their chests. As the moment dies they both fall silent again, though smiles still grace their lips.

 

“Tubbs… do you really not miss him?”

 

The older boy’s smile fades. He doesn’t answer for a long moment, moving some of the hair over his eyes out of the way so he can look out over the construction or reconstruction of L’Manberg. “I.. don’t know Tommy. He was… was he really Wilbur anymore? At the end I mean?”

 

Tommy looks away from where Tubbo turns to meet his eyes. “Maybe… it was just complicated. He was sad… and angry, really angry. But when I asked him he would say he was fine and that he wouldn’t do anything but… I dunno. I don’t know…”

 

The silence returns again, though instead of bringing back the conversation Tommy lets it rest as he returns to engraving the plaque. 

 

Wilbur Soot

 

General, Musician, Traitor-


“- Father , Brother, Son… ha.” Fundy seethes. He grips his hat in clawed fingers, it squelches slightly as the rain continues to pour down on him. “Some father.”

 

Fundy couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, couldn’t do much these past few months after his- after Wilbur blew up L’Manberg. The more he tries to convince himself it isn’t real, the more reminders there are that it is.

 

Nobody brushes out the tangly fur behind his ears anymore. Nobody smiles and tells him they’re proud of him anymore. Nobody is there to catch him when he falls anymore. Wilbur isn’t there. His father isn’t there, not anymore.

 

His tears mix with the rain, making his hair and the fur of his ears and tail damp and heavy. The plaque is still golden and shiny, water running off of it and cleaning away any light coat of dirt and grime that had started to build up since it’s first few months after being built.

 

Fundy sniffles, squeezing his hat one more time. “Wilbur… Dad I’m- I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell you when you were alive. I- I had to keep up my role as a spy. I couldn’t get caught, you- you understood that right? I had to disown you Dad. I didn’t- I didn’t have a choice and I couldn’t just stand by and let-“

 

Footsteps splash puddles behind him, cutting him off as his ears flick towards the sound. They’re soft, familiar. Fundy relaxes his shoulder as Niki walks up beside him.

 

She looks at him solemnly, moving her umbrella so that it’s covering the both of them. Niki looks as if she’s about to say something to him, but then turns and addresses the stone statue. “Wilbur, you were my friend. I loved you as my friend and you betrayed us. You left me! You- you left-“, she glances over at Fundy, “you left your son! You left so many people Wil, why couldn’t you just… just ask for help…”

 

Fundy doesn’t look up at her, and she doesn’t look at him either. Though they move closer and mourn together. A friend and a son, sharing nothing in common but a dead man and a fractured country.

 

The fox looks out past the statue, past the shiny golden plaque and over the stunning sight that was New L’Man-


“-hole. L’Manhole is what they call it.”

 

The Angel of Death sits on a massive upturned piece of cement idly. He stares at the statue for a long time. Noting every crack in the cement and scratch on the gold plaque.

 

Phil frowns as he spots a rather large crack that runs up the statue of his son. The crack runs through the statue’s leg, extending all the way up to it’s chest where the crack expands and pieces flake off dangerously. He stands and runs his gloved fingers over the crack gently, as if he’s touching something made of glass.

 

There had been minor cracks in the statue before Doomsday, though Phil knew this one had come from his own doing. The statue was luckily far enough from blast radius, though the impact of hundreds upon thousands of bombs raining from the sky and shaking the earth had apparently been too much.

 

His heart aches at the thought. The thought that he is the reason his son’s final resting place is no longer whole, filled with fissures and covered in soot and ash. Though it pains him so, he wouldn’t change what he’s done.

 

Phil has come to his son’s statue to visit with his child since the first month it had been built. He’s watched the way time and circumstance has affected the stone. He’s cleaned it after citizens who resented their former president would desecrate the statue with paint and posters. He watched as the settlement that his son had killed himself to destroy became corrupt and unjust, and he couldn’t stand by and let it continue its murderous ways.

 

Phil pulls away from the statue and sits himself on the ground in front of it, folding his tattered wings behind his back as he shuts his eyes. He repeats what he’s said every time he visits with a sad smile.

 

“I miss you kiddo. I love you, so much. I wish I had never held that sword, or that I had gotten there before you lost yourself. In the end though-“


“You were right.” Quackity whispers to himself.

 

The statue of his rival, friend… Wilbur’s statue stands tall above him. The sun casting a shadow down from the stone that covers the area where Quackity stands.

 

“You. Were. Right.” He says louder, knowing nobody is around to hear him. “You were right Wilbur Soot and I hate it.”

 

Quackity clenches his fists, digging his nails into his palms. “I thought there was good in everyone and I still do, but you were right . They only use it to help themselves, so I think it’s about time I do too.” He glances out over L’Manhole apathetically. “I need power.”

 

Silence stretches for a moment, he laughs bitterly. “I forget that I’m talking to a dead man but fuck it, I guess.”

 

Quackity sits himself on the crudely carved bench that faces the statue. Wilbur’s face is cracking, stemming from the fissure in his chest where small vines with budding roses have overtaken and forced their way into the cracks in the stone. It’s odd seeing Wilbur Soot so silent, though Quackity knows the stone would never be able to smile or spin stories and move as dramatically as Wilbur once had.

 

He removes his beanie, out of the small respect he still holds for the man. “I had the resistance we spoke about. Didn’t turn out so well, just like you said it would, bastard. But you had your revolution too and well… we both know how that one ended.”

 

He sniffles, moving to stand. “I’m ready now, to show that darker side you talked about. Torturing, killing, taking up the blade… I’ll do what it takes to keep the people I care about safe.”

 

Quackity looks over the statue again, bitterly smiling at the way the statue remains utterly still. The red and green pops of color remind him of better times. The days where Wilbur Soot hadn’t just been a stone effigy cracked under the pressure of wars and nature itself. He sets down a candle, lights it, and watches the smoke swirl up past Wilbur’s stone face. “To being the outsiders, old friend.”

 

Q replaces his beanie, then steps out of the statue's shadow and into the sun.

Chapter Text

Hey everyone. I know I said this week would be the week this fic came to a close and I fully intended for it to be. Unfortunately though, even if there’s only one more chapter, I can’t. I’m sorry.

My grandpa passed today after a year and a half long battle with bile duct cancer. I’m going to take some time for myself and my family and once I’m ready I’ll post the last chapter.

Thank you for your understanding and I hope you all are doing well<3

~Clam

Chapter Text

“Tommy! Don’t get too close to the pool without your floaties honey!”, Mumza chides gently as she folds up their towels.

 

Wilbur pauses his game of chicken with Techno and Dad to glance over at the youngest. Tommy is pouting at the edge of the pool as Mom moves to fit the floaties onto his arms.

 

The small blonde groans. “I don’ even need ‘em! Imma Big Man!”

 

Mumza fusses over Tommy for a moment before walking him towards the stairs into the pool, though Wilbur quickly changes focus as he’s tipped backwards and dunked under the water. He falls off of Techno’s shoulders and kicks his way back to the surface and shakes out his hair with feigned anger.

 

“Rude!”, he huffs.

 

Techno only smiles and splashes water at him, both quickly forgetting their father’s presence as they engage in water warfare. Wilbur scoops enough water in his hands and pushes it to create a large enough wave to soak his brother’s face, while also accidentally splashing Dad in the face too. Wilbur freezes as his father wipes the water from his face slowly in the way that he does when he’s planning revenge. Techno saves him though by coming in with a splash at Dad before the older man can react. Both twins giggle as the man smiles and starts to splash them both as well. It continues for another few moments before Tommy starts to slowly paddle his way over to them.

 

Dad stops and moves to help the youngest over to them. Water warfare no longer being an option, Wilbur thinks of what to play next. Though Techno nudges him  before he can even begin to think. “Go get the ball,” his twin offers quietly, “we can play catch or something.”

 

Wilbur nods in return, then swims his way over to the ladder. Away from where Techno and Phil have taken to making sure Tommy doesn’t instantly sink as soon as they let go of him, Wilbur steps up onto the ladder and then onto the concrete of pool patio. His feet slap as he takes off to grab the ball next to the bag beside Mumza’s chair.

 

“Wilbur, don’t run my silly little man. I don’t want you slipping-“

 

Wilbur grabs the ball and fake sighs at his mother, though still leans in as she kisses his head. “Moooooom”, he whines. She lets him go, and just as quickly he starts to walk back towards the stairs into the pool. Then he freezes.

 

The decorations of the pool patio begin to tremble slightly, as well as the ground itself. Wilbur can’t will himself to move as the shaking only grows, sounds of things crashing and shattering growing louder and louder by the second. As well as screams.

 

Someone calls for him, but all he manages to do is stand with a bright blue ball in his hands and watch as trees topple over as the rumbling grows louder. Then a wave of murky water crashes over the top of their hotel, and through it all together.

 

“WILBUR”, Dad screams from somewhere behind him.

 

All Wilbur can do is turn and look his father and brothers in the eye before the wave swallows him and his family whole.


Unconsciousness takes hold of him for a few mere moments before he’s quickly awoken by the crushing feeling of a lack of oxygen. Water, dirt, and blood fill his vision and he tries to search for the top. He gives up and chooses to just swim up and hope.

 

His hopes are made real as he bursts through the barrier of water and into the air with heaving breaths and coughs to expel the water in his lungs. He scrambles to stay afloat by grabbing on to the object nearest.

 

Mud and wet sand cling to his… well, everything. Though Wilbur’s focus is more directed toward the way his fingers dig into the broken tree limb that’s come to be his life preserver as he’s carried through street upon street of the flooded city, rather than how the dirtied water holds him in it’s vice from all sides.

 

A cry escapes him as his leg catches on something beneath the rushing water, tearing at his skin and leaving it burning. He chokes back a sob as he watches the red streaks left behind as he continues to drift, trying to keep the tears from overflowing as he looks out over the sea of debris and water. His throat stings from the amount of water he’d swallowed when he’d been swept away, though he still calls out, “DAD! TECH- TOMMY! MOOOOM! HE- HELP ME! PLEASE! MOM-“

 

“WIL!”

 

Wilbur doesn’t bother to blink away his tears before he drags his head around to look for who had called out to him. He doesn’t see anyone- that’s a lie because he does. He sees so many people floating by upside down and trailing blood or having things sticking out of them and-

 

“WILBUR! WILBUR PLEASE!”

 

A flash of pink catches the corner of his blurred vision, but he doesn’t hesitate to release the tree limb and try his best to swim over to his twin. “TECHNO!”, he cries out as he swims closer. The water drags him towards his brother and rips at his skin all at once.

 

Techno is wrapped pushed up against a pile of debris and… and other things . Though Wilbur only has eyes for his twin as he collided with Techno in a reckless hug. They both sob into one another’s shoulders, tears and flood waters mixing together like a bad joke.

 

“Wil- wil I thought I- I though I lost you… and and I can’t find Dad or Tommy or Mom- I didn’t wanna-“

 

Wilbur holds his brother tighter, even as debris scrapes his sides and sends pain up his spin. “I thought you were gone and I can't find anyone either so I-“

 

“BOYS!”

 

Both twins turn, but don’t let go. They spot their mom sporting a scrape on the head but luckily nothing much worse. She’s attached to a pole by her grip and she has fear riddled across her face as she turns away from them and then back. “SECOND-“, she sobs, “SECOND WAVE- BOYS GET-“

 

The rumbling grows and Wilbur spots it as it rushes up on them. He turns away from his mother, ducking his head into his twin’s chest as they clutch one another. Awaiting their deaths.


Wilbur wake up- wake- please Wil-

 

Wilbur can feel the pole in his side, it slides and shifts as he does. There’s blood running from his wound and into the ever expanding water that surrounds him.

 

Islands of bodies and debris surround him as the water turns red beneath him. There are sharks in the water as well, feeding from the islands and circling him for a fresh meal.

 

-okay. Wilbur come on bud-“

 

He whines as one of the sharks brushes his hand. Phil’s body floats past him first, then Tommy, and Mom, and… and then Techno’s. Wilbur’s chest pangs and he tries to swim away but something stops him. It hurts too much, far too much and he doesn’t want to do it again. It was scary and awful and his family -

 

WILBUR.”

 

He opens his eyes. His hand are clutching his side where his fresh scar sits, his breaths coming out sporadically and thin. Wilbur recognizes the sheets of his bed, the posters on his wall, the color of his twin’s hair.

 

Wilbur lets himself sob, and Techno throws his arms around him and crawls into bed beside him. There are matching sobs and sniffles as they hold each other tightly. The ache in Wilbur’s heart starts to diminish slowly before being blown out as Dad enters the room with a teary Tommy holding his hand. Mom follows them in, a slight limp in her walk from where she’s still recovering.

 

Wilbur clutches his twin tight like he had that day. Techno protects his twin like he had tried so hard to that day. Tommy searches for the comfort in his brother’s arms like he had yearned for that day. Phil gathers his children safely in his arms like he didn’t get the chance to that day. Then Kristin joins her lover and her boys in the way she had never though she would be able to after that day.

 

They remember, they will never not remember. Though they push through together, as a family completed.