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“What the fuck are you doing in my house?”

Your house?” Dream asks. He narrowly dodges a stuffed squid Tommy had thrown at him, and then a clear bag of fruit loops. Tommy winces as a wave of tiny, colorful loops spill across the carpet; he’d forgotten the bag was open. 

Dream frowns, steps over the mess, and holds out a finger accusingly. “ Your house?” 

“What, jealous?” Tommy shoots back. “I know being here is a lot to take in, Dream. It’s okay—homelessness is a very common and serious issue we need to take decisive action on-”

“What— first of all,” Dream says, advancing forward slowly, “I have a house-”

“Whatever you say, pussy-ass bitch-” 

“And second of all, why is there a random fucking child in Technoblade’s house?”

Tommy bristles. “I am not a child, you fucker—I’m fifteen, I can drink more than your weight in vodka-”

“I didn’t know Technoblade was in a kidnapping business,” Dream repeats, like he hadn’t heard Tommy the first time. Fucking bitch.

“Sure. Call Techno,” Tommy snaps back. “Don’t come crying when he complains about all the mud you’ve tracked all over his priceless fur rug.”

Dream freezes—and then, with a look of indiscernible regret, slowly lowers his eyes down. 

“Fucking shit-”

//

“So how much did you make him pay you?” Tommy asks. 

“A heist.”

“For what?” 

Techno shrugs. “This random painting in the national museum. Kinda ugly, if you ask me. Not sure why anyone would want to buy it.”

Tommy glances over his brother’s shoulder and spies said painting on the kitchen counter, the top of which was peaking out of Techno’s bag. It shows a cartoon-style image of Philza Minecraft, with his wings splayed wide and eyes judgemental like a glass cathedral painting. His eyes are comically disproportional, large like a squid’s. 

“Bet Quackity would money for that,” Tommy says. 

Techno makes some humming noise. “Maybe.” There’s a clatter as he rummages through their kitchen cupboards. “Tommy. Why are all the fruit loops gone?”

Oh, fuck. “Um—the crows ate them?”

Techno turns to stare at him with a distinctly unimpressed look. “The crows ate them.” 

“Well, of course!” Tommy coughs a bit, trying to stall, and then blusters on. “Bitches they were, haha, always stealing my stuff. Should really deal with them. I told you before—mousetraps, Techno. We need mousetraps. Except we can call them crowtraps, because they’ll catch all the fucking crows-”

Oh fucking Prime, Techno’s checking the trash can-

“Tommy,” Techno says in a severe voice. “Why is the trash can filled with fruit loops?”

Why does Techno’s favorite snack have to be so conveniently throwable at intruding villains? 

“It was Dream!” Tommy blurts out. “Dream made me do it!”

“You can’t blame Dream for everything, Tommy!” 

“Yes I can!”

//

“Oh. You again.” 

“I didn’t know you could read,” Tommy says. 

Dream sucks in a deep breath. “I didn’t know children were allowed in the adult section of the library.” 

“I’m not a fucking child,” Tommy grounds out, before stilling when he sees the book in Dream’s hands: How to Impress a First Date. “Ooh, are you in love, Dream? Do you need dating advice?

“What—shut up! And we’re in a public space here, don’t give my identity away!” 

“Oh, right,” Tommy drawls, making sure to emphasize with an eye roll. “I forgot. You’re actually a lame-ass idiot with the real name Clay. Your mother must have really hated you.”

“Tommy!” Dream glances around frantically for non-existent eavesdroppers. As if anyone would find some loser like him interesting enough to listen to. 

Techno did say Dream loved the sound of his own voice. 

“So. Who’s this mysterious date? Does she know your job is committing felonies?” Tommy pauses. “Wait. More importantly—does she know you’re homeless?

“I’m not homeless,” Dream repeats, as if he hasn’t made that denial dozens of times before. “And also, for the record, it’s he and his name is George-

“Oh my Prime,” Tommy cackles, doubling down. “I didn’t think a name could worse than Clay, but of course it’s fucking— George— what, is he a king? Does he rule over some dumb patch of mushrooms in Kinoko? It’s such a stupid rich-guy name-”

Your brother is literally a millionaire from the same job as mine-”

“Wait,” Tommy says, eyes suddenly widening. “Dream. Is George your sugar daddy?” 

“I FUCKING SWEAR TO PRIME TOMMY I WILL STRANGLE YOU-”

They got kicked out of the library. 

//

Dream remembers when he first learned about Tommy—who Tommy is, more specifically. 

“Techno,” he says to his not-friend-but-sorta-friend one day soon after that fateful encounter that had left far too many fruit loops tumbling down his favorite hoodie. “Techno. There’s a child in your house.” 

Techno squints back at him. Though, that might just be the weird lighting of the casino. Imagine needing to wear glasses.

“Why were you in my house?” Techno asks. “Where—where did you get my address?” 

Dream flicks a chip. “Google maps street view,” he says. “Saw you on it one day and followed you.” 

Techno curses. “Those things are getting too good,” he mutters. 

Dream shrugs. “We could play a game-”

“No.” 

“You’re no fun.” Despite Las Nevadas Casino being their number one meet-up place for sharing intel, proposals, and thinly-veiled threats, Techno is a prude who refuses to gamble in poker. Or any other game. Something about “understanding my chances.” Dream thinks Techno just doesn’t want to show how bad he is at it. 

“So. That child.” Dream balances a red chip on his index finger, watching it wobble back and forth to the backdrop of dim gold lights and bustling tables. “I didn’t know you’re in the human trafficking business.” 

“Tommy is my brother,” Techno says, voice tight. 

“And I didn’t know you have a brother. Kinda weird I’d never heard of him until a few days ago, when he threw an open bag of fruit loops at me.” Dream frowns. “I was dusting my hoodie for an hour afterwards and still finding crumbs, by the way.” 

“He was living with our other brother until recently,” Techno says. He picks at his drink—pink lemonade, as if he needed to further impress on everyone in this casino that he’s a frilly prick. Dream stacks a green poker chip atop the red one and narrows his eyes as he concentrates on keeping them both in balance. 

“And what terrible calamity befell that other brother?” he asks. 

Techno’s reply was said with enough seriousness to shut Dream up and send the chips clattering back onto the ebony table. 

“Wilbur Soot was assassinated.”

//

“Dream?” 

“Yeah?” 

“Why do you have a child following you?”

“I’m an adult,” Tommy says, eyebrow twitching. 

Sapnap shrugs. 

“Still doesn’t explain why you’re with Dream.” He turns to his partner in crime. Emphasis on crime. “Did you forget we’re meant to be stealing from the literal Philza Minecraft today?”

“I know, I know,” Dream says. He looks tired, immensely so, which is never a good sign for a heist. Sapnap would make some joke about how the night he had spent with George must have gone, but this time it almost looks like there’s something… haunting Dream. Something more than the usual fatigue. 

“Techno’s out of town for the week,” Dream sighs. “He asked me to protect Tommy. So here we are.” 

Sapnap stares. “You realize bringing a child along to burglarize one of the most powerful men in the country is the opposite of ‘protecting’ them, right?” 

Dream nods, and then seems to catch himself on some invisible hook. “Uh—I’m-”

“Techno’s a paranoid fucker who thinks I’m in mortal danger or something,” Tommy shrugs. “I fucking swear. All it takes is one dead brother and a few tiny death threats and suddenly every step I take might land on some hidden Revolution-era landmine.”

“Woah, woah-” Sapnap raises his hands. “Dead brother? Danger? What?”

Dream frowns. “Techno has legitimate reasons to worry,” he says. Then he turns back to Sapnap. “Look, just—trust me on this, okay? It’ll be fine. Tommy can just—accompany me on the mission. It’ll be safer than leaving him outside somewhere… probably.”

“Philza Minecraft is a bitch,” Tommy says, nodding sagely. “I could kick his weak little ass any day.”

Sapnap sighs. He’s gotten this far through life by trusting Dream’s actions… and besides, his friend really looks like he could use as much of a break from stress as possible. If it meant going along with his request to bring a literal child along with them on their heist…

“Alright,” he exhales. “Let’s go. The virus I installed on the cameras will activate in ten minutes.” 

//

“So it was Schlatt.”

“So it was Schlatt,” George confirms. He looks over his laptop again. “The evidence we’ve gathered so far… it’s pretty clear. Between Quackity’s lawsuit, Philza’s files, and L’Manberg’s investigation…we can trigger the legal armageddon anyday.”

Techno is quiet for a moment. Then he raises a hesitant hand. “So what now?” 

Dream blinks. “You don’t know? Wilbur was your brother.” 

Techno lowers his head. “Not as much as I like to say he was,” he murmurs. “Truth was… the only person who really knew Wilbur was Tommy.” 

George sighs, rolling his eyes in that familiar you bunch of idiots kind of way Dream is so fond of. “Then get Tommy the fuck over here.” 

//

“So Wilbur’s dead.” 

“He’s been dead for five fucking months, dipshit,” Tommy hisses. His… brother’s expression looks unaffected by the news. Damn. Tommy had been hoping for some kind of expression—incredulity, maybe. Glee, even. Some sign that this fucker isn’t qualified to take care of him, and that Tommy should be sent back to L’Manberg to live with Ranboo and Tubbo instead of being forced to immigrate to an entirely different country. 

Who the fuck calls their nation the SMP? Sounds like a recipe for getting bullied by all the other countries at school. Now, L’Manberg— that’s a poggers name. 

Tommy would know. Wilbur had loved the name too, just as he had loved everything else about their country-

Wilbur’s dead now. No, he can’t—Tommy steels his face. He can’t afford to think about Wilbur. Not when this new imposter of a brother who looks so much like him but is clearly not is eyeing him up and down, looking just as displeased to be here as Tommy is. 

Both of them had protested Tommy coming under his guardianship when Wilbur died. It had dragged on for five months of paperwork and legal hearings—but finally, the courts had ruled that it was Techno's responsibility to take care of him. 

Fuck everything. But—five months have given Tommy plenty of time to practice not breaking down at any reminder of Wilbur. Even the sight of his own twin. 

What kind of stupid name is Techno, anyway? 

“Do you want me to carry your bags?” Techno asks, ignoring Tommy’s previous heated reply. Tommy shakes his head, grabs his two giant duffle bags by the handles, and lumbers over to the stupidly shiny looking SUV Techno had parked. Right next to the car of the stupid judge and stupid social workers who had given Techno guardianship of him. 

Tommy hates this already. He is most definitely going to make this Techno’s problem. 

//

DRY WATERS TODAY

L’Manberg President Wilbur Soot ASSASSINATED IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

Legal dispute over custodianship of his brother, Tommy Soot, is ensuing.

George remembers that headline, clear as day. Wilbur had just won his re-election campaign for another 6 years in power—L’Manberg had been in the middle of many parades, festivals, celebrations. Not only in support of the new presidential term, given Wilbur’s extreme popularity in the country, but also because the month of November holds a large cultural significance for L’Manberg’s citizens. 

It’s now a month of mourning for them as well. Two years have passed since Wilbur was shot dead in the middle of a speech. 

The question still remains unanswered: Who would want Wilbur Soot dead so much to kill him, or hire a hit?

The why is much easier. Political rivals, and the smaller but very sizable minority who opposed his policies. Some crazy fool looking for attention, or just plain crazed. 

The who is much harder. People still aren’t sure. The reward for the killer hasn’t turned up anything meritable. 

In the chaos, nearly everyone has forgotten about Wilbur’s brother—Tommy Soot, now Tommy Blade, who is currently sitting on George’s couch and playing a very intense game of Super Smash Brothers with Dream. 

George rifles through the court documents again. There’ve been dozens of cases brought forth by various people related to the assassination, the most notable of which are those Wilbur’s administration brought against the security company hired on the day of the speech. J. Schlatt Inc. 

Interesting. Now where has George heard that name?

“Hah! Suck that, bitch!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Dream says, rolling his eyes. George is glad to see some of that old spirit back in him as he loads up another round and Tommy follows suit. He’d been worried for a while, during that period when Dream had been run ragged trying to both hide and achieve all his commitments-

But that’s in the past now. And once George figures out the mystery behind Wilbur Soot’s death, they can hopefully relax in peace. 

“How did-”

“Hah! That’s what you get for using a lame fucking bitch like Snake-”

“You literally main Jigglypuff!”

Tommy’s really grown a soft spot on Dream, huh? From his view at the kitchen table, George chuckles softly before scanning his eyes down the files again. Where was—oh, there. Las Nevadas and Summerside LLC versus State of L’Manberg and Jonathan Schlatt Inc. 2022. 

This one might turn up a few leads, if those documents Dream had stolen for him are accurate. George pulls the stack of papers up from its sleeve and begins reading. 

//

THE L'MANBERG TIMES

L’Manberg to disband Force 77 and reappropriate funds towards mental health treatment subsidies under new administration

This is the latest in a series of sweeping reforms under the newly elected Soot Administration. But many are protesting—to what extent should our police forces be supplied and supported?...

//

“Dude,” Dream says. Gingerly, he puts down his pint of ale. “What are you doing here?” 

“Getting shit-faced drunk,” Tommy grunts. “Gambling away all of Techno’s money.”

“You’re-”

“I’m 18 now,” Tommy mumbles, slumping into his own arms. “Leave me alone.” 

Dream sighs, downs the rest of his ale, and walks over to drag Tommy off the table. 

“Don’t mind me,” he says, flashing a smile to the concerned-looking bartender and few people still around here at 2 am in the morning. “Just bringing a friend home.” 

And even if this really had been a murder or kidnapping—which it very well could have been for all they know—no one in this city really cares enough to stop him. Dream makes it out of the pub with Tommy drunk off his ass—almost literally—and spends the rest of the night (very early morning?) driving Tommy back to Techno’s house. 

“Where are our supposed heroes when you need them,” Dream mutters as he drives beneath a giant Police Are Heroes sign, complete with a splashy, bold artwork of Philza Minecraft in flight. 

Not the reason he turned criminal, contrary to popular belief of Hollywood—that was for the money—but it’s still a point of interest. Philza Minecraft is out there taking a vacation in the Hardcore lands while his city’s foundations are being rotted away by the ever-powerful underground. Not that it’s the responsibility of one person to fix the problem of an entire city, but still. 

Dream makes it back to Techno’s place without a single car accident or new piece of roadkill to add to the count. He considers that a win. 

//

“Tommy-”

“I know,” Tommy says. He hangs his head. “I know it’s not your fault Wil died. I know you tried your best.”

Techno bites his lip. “I—you don’t blame me?” 

Tommy sighs. “If Philza couldn’t do anything, why would you be any different?”

Techno shuts his laptop with a loud thud that has Tommy wincing. “Philza didn’t do anything, ” he hisses, each word like barbed wire through his teeth. “Anything except abandon us-”

“They never told you?” Tommy asks, alarm suddenly coursing through his legs as he stumbles up, almost falling onto the table. Techno’s arm catches him just in time. 

“They… who? What?” Techno asks. A hint of disbelief tinges the question. 

Tommy takes out his phone. He digs through his photos until he finally comes across it —the photo of that letter. That stupid, stupid letter that he’s—he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know if he wishes Phil had never sent it at all. But surely—Phil had expressed something —better than nothing? But he was never-

Without finishing that thought, he shoves the phone into Techno’s face. 

To Wilbur and Tommy-

I’d like to preface this by saying that I’m sorry I wasn’t there for most of your lives. Especially yours, Tommy. I admit I broke down when Kristen left, and I have no one to blame but myself for how that turned out. It wasn’t an excuse to leave you two as well, though. Again, I’m sorry—even if that’s all in the past now, and Prime knows we can’t change the past. 

Wilbur. Congratulations on becoming President. I was wrong when I said you should have moved to the SMP with me, and I was wrong when I said you should never have tried to run for the position. I’m proud of everything you’ve accomplished; but more importantly, I’m proud of you as a person. You’ve suffered so much and managed to come out of it stronger, despite everything. 

Tommy. I’m sorry I don’t know you. In our lives we’ve only ever talked for the briefest handful of minutes. It’s nowhere near enough to know you as a person. So I don’t claim to be your father, and I don’t claim to know you. But I am still proud of you—as proud as I can be of someone who’s struggles I never really understood. 

Maybe you’re both wondering why I’ve chosen to write now, of all times, after years of no contact. The truth is that while analyzing some evidence, I believe I’ve uncovered some hints of a plot for Wilbur’s assasination. There was some suspicious activity between shell companies of a business owner I’ve yet to identify, but Wilbur’s name was involved as a “target”. I’ve enclosed the following relevant information in an email already. Please be careful. 

Sincerely, Phil

Techno hands the phone back to Tommy wordlessly. 

“Do you still have access to those files?” he asks. 

Tommy nods, looking away. “But it’s—L’Manberg’s Homeland Security Department knew already, so I didn’t think-”

“It’s okay,” Techno says quietly. He places a hand on Tommy’s shoulder; a warm and comforting presence. Tommy leans in slightly, soaking the warmth. “I think it’s about time we stopped blaming ourselves. But let’s open up those files again, okay?” 

“Okay,” Tommy nods. Techno has a plan—Wilbur had a plan too, but he hopes this time it’ll turn out different. His life has been a series of hopes, one after another—some have lived and some have died. But what other point is there to life other than to continue hoping?

“Yeah.” He laughs again, some reassurance. “Yeah. We’ll finish this.”

//

“I would like,” George says calmly, “to murder Johnathan Schlatt.” 

Dream blinks. The words have stopped him mid-way through pouring George a cup of tea—and oh, that’s cute, he’s now trying desperately to minimize the spillage. 

“Why?” he splutters while slamming a towel quite violently on the table. George frowns slightly. He doesn’t think the table deserves this level of assault, though he will admit it’s quite the ugly-looking piece of furniture.

“I have a lead,” George says, shrugging. He pulls up his phone, makes another quick forecast and stock trade, and then switches to his TOP SECRET file on the Wilbur Soot case. 2 years, and all it took was the right connections. L’Manberg really were fools to send Tommy away to Techno. 

“A lead? And what does that have to do with Schlatt deserving death?” Dream asks, blinking. He’s now mostly cleaned up his spill. 

George rolls his eyes. Throws out his arms dramatically. His lips quirk up. 

Everything, Dream. Everything. Call Sapnap and Techno—we have another break-in to organize.”

//

THE HERMITON HERALD

In a twist of irony, Wilbur Soot’s murderer escapes death penalty due to former president’s own reforms.

“Yeah, I think he would have been mad at Schlatt for—you know—killing him,” Tommy Soot says in an interview in days following the year-long court case. “But I don’t think he would have regretted his reforms. Wilbur always understood that everything had to be looked at on a grander scale, beyond the individuals. It’s what made him such a great leader, you know?” 

//

“You think you’re so-” Techno breaks off. “Wilbur was your son.”

“I know.” 

“And you’d just refuse to investigate his assassination ?” 

“You know he disowned me, right? And we’re literally citizens of different nations. It’s—not complicated, Techno. There were no more bonds between us.”

“It was complicated enough for Tommy to end up under my care.”

“That has to do with custody laws between the SMP and L’Manberg. You always knew I wouldn’t be under consideration the moment Wilbur broke ties with me.”

“But you refused-” Techno exhales. “I was there for him when you weren’t.”

Philza’s voice turns cold, which is nothing new. Nowadays, Techno feels as though he could barely recognize his father at all. 

“Then where were you when Wilbur was murdered?”

Techno hangs the line up before Phil can do the same. 

//

THE SMP CHRONICLER

Head of SMP Police Chief Philza Minecraft announces premature retirement from position; George NotFound, playboy businessman, to take over position

“I’m sorry to everyone who feels let down by my decision,” Minecraft explains in last official press conference. “But I feel like it’s time for me to move on. It’s been a very personal and sometimes distressing past few months, and I finally feel like if I don’t step away, something will go wrong.” 

Some have praised Philza Minecraft for knowing and accepting his limits, while others have criticized him for abandoning a position he had originally fought so controversially for…