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“You can’t seriously be planning on sleeping outside without a coat.”

Wilbur turns, mind blank for a moment at the almost parental accusation coming from his little brother before regaining his composure. “Well I don’t exactly have many options, do I, Tommy? You clearly don’t want me here, and I haven’t seen my coat since I came back.”

Tommy fidgets, not making any moves to welcome Wilbur back into the house, but not slamming the door on him either. Finally, after a minute of tense silence, Tommy looks back up.

“D’you want your coat?”

Wilbur huffs, “Of course I want my coat, Tommy. People keep mistaking me for him and it’s bloody cold out here.”

Tommy opens his mouth as if to retort but decides against it, gesturing for Wilbur to wait.

Wilbur waits, cold in just a stained yellow sweater and feeling a little silly standing alone outside like a lost child.


“Oi,” Wilbur is snapped out of his thoughts by Tommy's return, “Catch bitch.”

Suddenly a painfully recognizable bundle of fabric is hitting him in the face, and he cusses as Tommy laughs when his glasses are knocked off.

“Gremlin,” Wilbur mutters, reaching down to grab his glasses and the coat off of the ground. Once his glasses are back on his face he notices.

“Tommy, what happened to my coat?”

It’s the same colour, the same size, and it still smells slightly of gunpowder, but there are flowers stitched into the sleeves and lapels, and blue handprints - always blue, his world is stained blue - on the shoulders.

Further examination of the garment reveals a large patch of the L’manburg flag covering where he knows a huge tear in the fabric is.

“Fixed it,” Tommy states, tense hands giving away his anxiety.

Wilbur ignores him for now, pulling the coat on and appreciating the grounding weight and the way it still fits him perfectly. He holds his arms out in front of him, admiring the embroidery.

“You did this?” Tommy startles, meeting Wilburs eyes.

“Yeah? What, got a problem with it?”

“No. Quite the opposite really.”

“You like it?” Tommy’s voice is barely above a whisper, he seems to be holding his breath, awaiting the verdict.

“Well, other than the blue stains and fla-” Wilbur meets Tommy's gaze and quickly corrects himself, “-other than the blue stains it’s pretty good. Very good. Very cool.”

God, he’s sputtering like a child giving a report in front of a class. Tommy appears to be pleased with this report however and nods curtly.

“Well, it is getting cold, innit? I’m not sure if you would survive a night out here."

“What are you getting at?” Wilbur asks, the bare bones of a smirk teasing his lips.

Tommy sighs, “Don’t make me regret this, bitch. Get inside, I think I have a few extra blankets.”

_________________

He’s constantly hungry now, ever since he was aware of feelings other than being alone and trapped, he’s been caught off guard by the upkeep it takes to have a human body.

For the past few weeks Wilbur’s been living off of whatever he could scavenge from farms or totally-public-chests, which is how he gets to where he currently is, also known as fucking starving in the middle of the night far away from anyone who would offer help.

He groans, sliding down to the wooden walkway, grateful for the lighting keeping the mobs away.

The moon is high in the sky, and on a better night he would’ve gotten lost in it, in the gentle light and barely visible craters, but tonight he’s more concerned about getting some food.

“Hello? Who is that?”

A voice calls from the darkness, tentative footsteps walking towards Wilbur. Quickly, Wilbur stands up, reaching for his sword just in case it’s one of the plethora of people who aren’t too thrilled for his return - who can blame them really? The father of the worst disaster on the server deserves to be treated with some hesitance...right?.

“Oh, it’s you.”

Wilbur turns towards the voice, and immediately knows he’s fucked.

“You okay?” Eret asks, almost sounding concerned. As if Eret would be concerned about anything to do with Wilbur after the whole mess and how Wilbur’s treated them.

“Just chipper,” Wilbur says, voice tight, “And yourself? A strange time to be on a walk, don’t you think?”

Eret chuckles, “I could say the same thing to you, at least I don’t look like I’m on death's doorstep,” they wince, eyebrows ducking beneath sunglasses briefly, “Sorry, bad joke.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Wilbur waves a hand, “Sorry to bother you, I’ll leave you to your very important king things and get myself out of your sight,” he pauses, “sorry, bad joke.”

Nodding to themself, Eret sighs, “Walked into that one I suppose.” Wilbur’s muscles twitch, wishing to just run and find some wrecked building to sit in until he can go bother Tommy for food.

It's at that moment that Wilburs stomach decides to become even more of an enemy to him as it lets out a loud gurgle, disrupting the uncomfortable silence and drawing Eret’s attention back to Wilbur.

Wilbur purses his lips, now more than ready to leave and is just about to bid Eret a polite ‘adieu’ when the monarch speaks up.

“I have plenty of food. And extra rooms if you need a place to stay for the night. It’s the least I can do after…” The sentence trails off, unspoken rules keeping proper apologies at bay.

“I wouldn’t want to intrude, you’re probably tired,” Wilbur says, even though food and sleep in an actual home sounds heavenly.

“I insist.”

Wilbur cocks his head to the side, “You insist?”

“Yes.”

Wilbur sighs, tucking his sword away, “Then lead the way, your highness.”

_____________________

“You have no idea how long it’s been since I’ve had coffee,” Wilbur groans as he follows Eret into the castle kitchen.

He doesn’t know when this started happening, when he decided he could stop snarking at Eret and start talking again, but the monarch took the sudden change in stride and has been inviting Wilbur for dinners until he accepts.

Now here he was, the second traitor of L’manburg following the first like a child while complaining about a hangover he’d gotten from the wine last night.

(It’s not his fault, Tommy doesn't have any alcohol and Wilburs always been a sucker for anything that sounds fancy and comes with a buzz.)

“I'm making the coffee, calm down,” Eret laughs, pulling out a kettle and various other coffee making needs, Wilbur’s too tired to be curious about the actual process

Wilbur sits at the kitchen counter, running his hands through his hair taking a moment to breathe in the feeling of the room. Phil told him to start meditating, saying that it helped Techno out and would be a good grounding technique.

He still can’t quite get the hang of it, the idea of sitting completely still and trying to avoid any thoughts sounds as boring as it is, but Wilbur can’t deny that the mere act of doing a checkup of sorts of his senses is rather nice.

He starts by sitting up, rolling his shoulders back and cracking his neck. Eyes get opened (even if they squint) and he takes a deep breath into his lungs, letting it out slowly like when he’s about to sing.

Then the list starts.

What do you see?

He glances around the room taking stock of everything. Eret making coffee over the stove, the open window leading onto green grass and sunlight, the scarred wooden countertop and a small collection of teacups in a glass cupboard.

What do you hear?

Wilbur closes his eyes for this one, breathing still slow. The sounds trickle in slowly, a metal spoon against a pot, china mugs on countertops, birds chirping in the late morning air, the wind rustling through the castle.

What do you feel?

This one has always been a little iffy, if he focuses too hard he’ll feel the phantom pull of the earth dragging him back down or the pains of the scar decorating his stomach. Still, he tries, directing his thoughts to his body. The sweater Eret had lent him for the night, his hair brushing against his forehead gently, the sturdy wooden chair he’s sitting on. 

“Almost done, Wilbur. How do you take your coffee?” Eret asks, pulling some milk out of a cellar.

Wilbur shrugs, “I don’t know anymore. However you like it, I suppose.”

Eret nods, turning back to the stove.

What do you smell?

This one is easy. The smells of gunpowder and blood have stuck to him like sap to a tree, no washing or potions have been able to get rid of the memory-infused scents. But there’s more this morning, the smell of coffee - rich and earthy and so alive - has filled the kitchen. Maybe it’ll stick to him, trail after him, free him from the smell of death. Maybe he could find some way to make a coffee cologne.

“Here you go,” Wilbur is snapped out of his thoughts by the appearance of a mug and small pitcher of milk being placed in front of him. “I put the amount of milk and sugar I like, but I like my coffee quite strong so feel free to add more milk.”

Wilbur grabs the mug, hands closing around the warmth tightly, “Thank you, Eret.”

Eret smiles, sitting down next to Wilbur and takes a sip of their own drink. Wilbur looks back to his own mug, lifting it to his lips and drinking.

What do you taste?

Oh, how he’s missed taste.

The coffee hits Wilbur's tongue, warm and tart and sweet and so, so good. It grounds him to the present, puts his thoughts on the taste and nothing else. Maybe he’s overreacting, but the taste of coffee is something he’d forgotten about, and it’s like greeting an old friend as he greedily takes another sip.

Eret was right, they do take their coffee quite black, but Wilbur doesn’t mind, adding a small splash of milk before going right back to the drink.

It fills his head, easing the headache, easing the pain. He makes a mental note to pick up some more coffee beans to keep in Tommy’s house, this will most definitely become a daily delight.

Wilbur barely notices he’s finished the mug until he’s turned it practically upside-down in an attempt to get the last drops. Eret is watching from beside him, their own drink barely touched.

Wilbur places the mug back down, a small smile gracing his face.

“There’s more in the pot,” Eret says, gesturing with their chin to the stove, laughing as Wilbur practically throws himself across the room to get more of this ambrosia.

He ends up leaving Eret’s castle with a bag of coffee beans and a promise to come back and visit later, and for the first time in a while, Wilbur is looking forward to it.

____________

“Where have you been living, Wil?”

He’s sitting in Philza’s living room, pointedly ignoring the pictures of himself on the walls when Phil asks. Poor Phil, who’s been trying to provide anything Wilbur could possibly need but who still has to accept that Wilbur unconsciously flinches around him.

“Here and there,” Wilbur says, trying to brush off the question because he knows that Phil would immediately start building if he learnt his...son was sleeping outside or in some random spare bedroom.

Eret had offered to make a permanent room for Wilbur, but despite all the kindness and reconciliation Wilbur can’t bring himself to live permanently in the building that had been built because of his death so many years ago.

“Here and there.” Phil parrots, turning to look at Wilbur, who shrugs.

“I like to see it as a vagabond lifestyle,” Wilbur says, knowing damn well he doesn’t want to create something new for fear of it being destroyed.

And he is getting along, he has his things in a bag or in chests at Tommy or Phil’s house. He has a bedroll and a coffee pot, and he has his guitar.

“Wil, I’m not going to patronize you, but if you want a house I can help you out.”

“Thank you Philza, but I think I’m doing quite well, in fact, I think I’ll head out now; there’s a tree somewhere that has my name on it. So thank you for dinner and-”

Phil stops his escape with a hand on his upper arm. “Wilbur.”

“Philza.”

Phil sighs, “Do you remember what my life was before I came here?"

Wilbur nods, how could he forget? The all-powerful Philza Minecraft, Angel of Death, worked on worlds until he died and lost everything. A strange hobby, but who’s Wilbur to judge.

“I understand what you’re feeling, the feeling of loss. To mourn a home.”

Wilbur raises an eyebrow, snark coming in like a shield, “Oh you understand me? I guess I forgot the part of your life where you died permanently, Phil.”

Phil exhales sharply but doesn’t take the bait, guiding Wilbur to the table, and grabbing parchment and papers once Wilbur is seated.

“Where do you want it to be? I know it’s cold for you up here, would you prefer to be closer to the main SMP?”

“You’re not building me a house Phil.”

“I sure fucking am Wilbur.”

They stare at each other, a silent challenge of stubbornness passing between father and son.

“Fine. Build a house. Call it mine. I give it three weeks until someone blows it up in some poetic way to take revenge.” Wilbur says, leaning back in his chair.

“No one’s gonna blow up your house Wil.” Phil says, rolling out a sheet of paper and pulling out various strange tools Wilbur hasn’t seen since he was learning maths.

“Sure, sure. I advise you don’t use your fancy materials though.”

Phil scoffs, before looking back up, “So where do you want it to be?”

Wilbur sighs, “I dunno, somewhere away from everyone else I guess? Is there any area that doesn't have some fallen country’s name on it?”

“I’m sure we can find somewhere mate, what kind of climate would you like?”

“Warmer, I suppose,” the cold of those thirteen years will probably never leave his bones, but it won’t hurt to be in a spot where the sun rises every day.

“Alright, what do you want for the theme? What types of materials?”

The questions continue for hours, Wilbur eventually moving to grab his guitar after the first hour of sitting and watching Phil slowly sketch together a house - his future house.

They settle for a small cabin-like house, two stories with a balcony. Phil promises that tomorrow they can walk over to a spot he thinks will work, a nice hill in the woods, about a half-hour away from Phil and Techno’s place.




Wilbur is kicked off the premise for the actual building part, something about ‘surprises’ and ‘not having enough muscle to lift a pebble’ so he spends time how he usually does, bothering Tommy and Quackity while pretending to not be excited about the idea of actually belonging somewhere again.

But after a week or so - Philza is an absolute madman - Wilbur is standing in the living room of his own house.

Phil is chattering on excitedly about various details he’d added, Wilbur only half listening as he runs his hand over the kitchen counter (a lovely granite) and admires the fireplace (wood had already been gathered and chopped) and walks slowly upstairs.

The bed is yellow, because of course it is, and Wilbur throws himself down on it like a tired child, closing his eyes for a moment. He can tell Phil is watching, and Wilbur can practically see the soft smile that matches his own.

“Not so bad eh?” Phil says, moving to look out the window at the forest that surrounds the cabin. “I rushed a bit, and you’ll have to get some more furniture made, but it’s yours.”

“Thank you,” Wilbur says, sitting up and looking around the room. The desk is huge, a proper artist's desk and an empty bookshelf sits across from him.

“It’s perfect,” He meets Phil’s eyes, sees his own happiness reflected in them, “Thank you, dad.”

Phil freezes, and Wilbur fears he’s pushed it too far, that Phil’s going to reveal a hidden pile of TNT and blow this place up before any memories can plague it.

But Phil just smiles, “I’m happy you like it Wil. Call me if you need anything, I’m just a walk away.” And the builder waves, moving to leave the room.

“Wait!” Wilbur shouts, standing.

Phil turns around, looking confused, “Everything okay?”

Wilbur grits his teeth, determined to keep this moment alive, to make a proper apology out of this.

“Why don’t you stay for dinner? I know cooking abilities are subpar, but I can still make a soup, and this area isn’t lit properly for a safe walk home at night.”

“You want me to stay?”

“...Yes, please.”

“Okay. Follow me, I’ll show you how the stove works, I used some new redstone you probably haven’t seen.”

“You sure it’s not just one of your incredibly old designs?” Wilbur smirks, “Remember that time when you tried to explain the amazing ‘new’  invention of bubble elevators to Techno and I?”

“For fucks sake Wil, I was drunk.”

“Mmm, okay. What about that time when you told us mum was a fridge-”

“It was easier to say that than explain your mother being Death! I panicked!”

“And decided that a fridge made more sense?!”

“It was the first thing I saw!”

“Whatever Phil, tell whatever lies you want. I’m going to go downstairs and check out the replacement mom you made.”

“Wilbur!” Phil calls after him as he runs down the stairs, running his hands along the walls of the house - his house.

He could get used to this place.

____________


It’s harder than he thought it would be to take care of a house alone. He doesn’t even have a farm, but the chores - chopping wood, doing dishes, feeding himself, keeping the area clear of mobs, cleaning - are enough to make him question why everyone makes such a big deal about moving out of their parents' house.

It’s all worth it though when he gets to wake up whenever he wants and play guitar under the stars and eat cake for dinner (he has a kitchen now!) and drink his coffee while watching the sunrise.

Eventually, Wilbur gets bored of the pattern. Living in a permanent house takes away a lot of daily choices and adventures, and soon his hobbies start to bore him and the cold begins to seep into his bones once again.

This is a bad sign, this is how it started last time. But when Wilbur explains these fears to Tommy the teen only nods and offers a few gardening tools.

“Trust me,” He said, “Once you make something grow you’ll feel better. Worked for me.”

So that’s how Wilbur ends up where he currently is, kneeling on the ground, jacket discarded and hands covered in dirt. It’s strange to feel the earth again after being freed from it.

The garden is far from complex, just a few flowers, herbs and vegetables planted near his cabin with care. Wilbur stands up and grabs a small bag of bone meal, sprinkling it over the plants carefully before tipping the watering can over the plants.

He checks on the plants every day, watching with patience that surprises himself as green shoots slowly work their way up from the soil. Slowly but surely the flowers bloom, and he relocates a few rose plants to the sides of his door, watching as the flowers slowly climb their way up the side of the house.

He cooks the carrots and potatoes once he deems them ready, and it may just be one of the best meals he’s ever had. Not because of the flavour - he’s still getting the hang of spicing things - but because he knows it is something he’d brought forward by his own care. (Tommy was right, but Wilbur will never admit it aloud).

The garden becomes a staple of his house, Wilbur experimenting with different vines and letting Tommy give him different flowers to add colour to the yard, and the house in various vases on tables.
____________

"Tommy," Wilbur asks, jacket thrown on the back of the couch behind him, "Where are my gloves? The leather ones?"

Tommy pauses over his tea, glancing up at his older brother before shrugging, "Burnt 'em".

".....Pardon?"

"I burnt 'em, bitch boy, those shits smelled worse than your room back in Pogtopia and that's saying something." Tommy turns back to his tea, ignoring the sputters of his older brother.

They lapse into silence again, as they so often do, Wilbur leaned over his guitar while Tommy slowly stitches some embroidery piece. After a minute, Tommy breaks the silence timidly.

"I could knit you some new ones if you want." Wilbur says nothing, but the guitar stops, so Tommy keeps talking. "You're always saying how cold your hands are and I have some nice yarn if you want-"


“Tommy,” Wilbur places a hand on Tommy’s shoulder, “I would be honoured.”

The gloves turn out gorgeously, Tommy’s skill showing through in the complex stitches Wilbur can’t even begin to understand.

When Wilbur pulls them on it’s like a magical spell of comfort washes over him, the type of feeling only brought forth by things made with love and purpose. He wears them constantly, only taking them off to play guitar and eat (not counting whenever Tommy steals them for a proper wash), and proudly announces to anyone that asks that ‘his little brother made them’ and ‘aren’t they just amazing?’

Tommy takes them for a few days, returning them a few days later with an excuse of repairs and without any mentions of the stitched dandelions that now decorate the back of the gloves.

_____________

It’s the anniversary, Wilbur can feel it. He’s been alive for a year.

Wilbur lays back in bed, laying an arm over his face. An entire year since he got out of limbo.

He supposes a day of reflection should happen, maybe he should go down to the church and say some thanks. Wilbur snorts at the idea, he was never religious and doesn’t plan on starting now.

He’ll spend this day like he spends all the others, practicing his guitar, drinking his coffee and wearing his jacket with all its embroidered parts and permanant blue stains.

Honestly, the most impressive thing that’s come from the last year is that he’s somehow developed a sleep schedule, his body waking up at dawn naturally, giving Wilbur just enough time to throw a sweater on before he runs outside to watch the sunrise.

The air is cold on his balcony, not uncomfortably so, but cold enough that he can see his breath and properly appreciate the warmth of his new sweater.

The world wakes up slowly around him, the sun hitting his face with a golden warmth he’s never gotten tired of - and doubts he ever will.

Who knows what the next year will bring, if he’ll even make it that far, if anyone on the server will. He can’t bring himself to care about the uncertainty, just a year ago he was sure he’d never be back here, let alone back here and happy.

And he is happy, he realizes, smiling to himself. He’s somehow gotten to a point where he’s happy to be here, happy to be living each day as it comes.

The tears are unexpected but welcome, and Wilbur lets them fall gently down his face, shining in the sunlight. He’d given up on trying to control his emotions after the first few months of being back, finding it so much easier to just let them run their course and leave him feeling lighter afterwards rather than pitifully pretend to be the hardened soldier he was all those years ago.

No, today’s Wilbur is allowed to cry, he’s allowed to wipe his eyes on his sweater sleeves and head inside to get the kettle on. Today’s Wilbur is allowed to heal, even when it makes him ‘weaker’ and more prone to forgiveness.

He feels stupid to admit it, but he’s proud of himself. Proud of how far he’s come in just a year, proud of how he’s ready to go further for years to come. Proud of how he’s ready to heal.

But there’s no rush, no time limit. There’s no pain in taking a moment to lean against his kitchen cupboards to breathe and smile while tears stream down his face.