Wilbur’s Mistake -
“I would have killed Dream if I was there in exile for how he treated you, how he hurt you, but now? Now I realize that would have been a mistake, Dream is the hero.”
WIlbur is back. Tommy feels it.
(TW for: referenced child abuse, referenced violence, panic attacks, vomiting. This is not a happy fic.)
Crossposted to ao3
Loosely connected to the therapy fic
Tommy can only focus on the stone in front of him, on the hollow space around him as he dug himself deeper into a hole. If he thinks on the events of the day for a second too long he’ll shatter into pieces again.
“If I was there… I would’ve struck down Dream right where he stood.”
A split second of relief echoing in the back of Tommy’s mind, but an echo and nothing more. That was all his Wilbur was anymore, the man who had led them through war to a shining promise of freedom, an echo. Maybe not even that, maybe only a gentle lie. Tommy wouldn’t think on that either, if Wilbur had never meant it, any of it, then that meant–
No. He couldn’t think about it. He could only think about the force of hitting the stone, the way it shuddered up the pick and into his arm, the exhaustion was a comfort, nothing more familiar than a lack of rest or peace.
“I wasn’t blind, Tommy. I saw what he was doing to you.”
It sours easily. There is no mercy or relief in a witness, but it’s something beyond cruel apathy. It’s an offering, a wish for better. Tommy could have held onto that.
“Dream is not the enemy… Dream is the hero.”
All of it kicked right from his chest by a blow too familiar. Cruelty didn’t feel like enough to describe the heartbreak a single sentence wrought. Tommy had known he’d been alone out there, unprotected, unloved, but to be told even when witnessed, even when not alone, even when maybe in some warped, demented manner of speaking, he was loved, that didn’t matter, because bearing witness didn’t make Tommy’s suffering an evil, merely a fact. Dream could hurt Tommy, if he wanted, and it didn’t mean anything because Tommy didn’t mean anything beyond his supporting role as Dream’s favorite toy. Tommy rails against the earth itself, a lump rising in his throat and his cheeks hot, but he’d rather rage against the world than allow tears out. It’s like there’s something fighting to get out of him, digging out of his chest just as he digs into the earth for more and more and more–
”You should be glad I wasn’t alive to attack Dream. You should be glad we had little passive Ghostbur.”
Wilbur had been back for a matter of days and he had already artfully figured out how to give Tommy some semblance of hope in order to rip it away in the next second. Hope. That was perhaps too simple, maybe it would have been a comfort, to believe there was some parallel timeline where his big brother had protected him. Even that possibility was stripped away now, because no matter the alternatives, Wilbur was grateful that vacant manifestation of the good in him had been too weak to help, the man so eager for a fight, so proud of his strong convictions and his direct need to manifest conflict for a righteous cause, but Tommy was not a righteous cause, so the unshakable idealist who sought out a war with a passion, would prefer the passive, because Tommy was so worthless, even when loved, Wilbur would rather forsake his ideals than let Tommy acquire some form of mercy. His big brother he had fought and died for, who despite everything he still loved, was fucking grateful that no one had protected him. That was almost worse than Wilbur wanting him to be hurt.
Why was Tommy still desperate to make him happy still? He had coped relatively well when face to face with the man. As long as he wasn’t alone, he could put up that facade of bitter strength. It waned as the hours passed down here. Wilbur had asked him for stone. Tommy didn’t know why. Nor did he know why he needed to prove he could, to prove he could do something right in this new Wilbur’s eyes. So he mined stone. Tommy hadn’t done well with being alone for a long time now, but he couldn’t seem to stop. Wilbur had left him, back to his mysterious plotting, and Tommy could only wander for so long before he found himself digging a pit.
This was easier. The world grew dark around him and his arms began to tremble, but he kept going. Anything to stop him thinking about Wilbur.
Wil would have regretted protecting you. He hated Dream. He wanted to kill him, to tear him apart. He would have hurt him for hurting you.
Tommy’s arms are burning, he can’t catch his breath as he continues to slam the pick into the stone in front of him, as if there is a way to complete this unending task and finally know peace. He’s gasping for breath, his vision blurring and his cheeks hot, but he’s just exhausted. He’s not crying.
And he would’ve fucking regretted it.
Tommy’s arms are still burning, but his hands, his hands are bleeding. He’s holding onto the pickaxe so tightly, so unrelentingly, it’s stripping the skin from his palms, but he doesn’t let go. He doesn’t stop even as his palms sting and the blood makes the wooden handle grow slick in his pale fists, but this is the only thing he can do. So he doesn’t stop, he would rather tear himself apart than let these thoughts consume him. They do their best regardless.
He knows he knows he knows he knows he knows
and it doesn’t change shit.
That first time. You finally see him again and you’re so fucking bloody and you’re literally fucking dead and Wil– He’s just surprised. You could’ve lived with– died with just surprised, but he’s back and it’s not that he doesn’t fucking care–
Tommy screams as he cracks through the wall of unfeeling stone in front of him, the pickaxe finally falls from his hands and he’s gasping for breath but he can’t get enough air in, he can only breathe in the silt and the dust from his labors and pretend that’s enough for him to live with.
He cares, Tommy. He says he cares so much, but it’s not enough. Caring is not enough to stop him worshipping the man who broke you apart again and again and again–
Tommy feels like he’s choking, he feels like he can hear a dying animal echoing around the quarry but it’s just him, it’s just gasping instead of wailing, fighting off sobs he’s so terrified of because he’s so fucking tired of being weak and breakable.
He loved you. He loved you enough to kill for you. He was angry that you were hurt and in that moment he would’ve torn Dream apart, disembowelled him for hurting you. In that moment Wil would’ve loved you enough to save you. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine being saved, Tommy? Can you see it? Dream dead on the ground, you already know what blood smells like, what’s the scent of a little more? What’s the harm in one more piece of tnt turning that man into a scar on the earth?
Your big brother, your shining hero. Would he have gutted Dream in that yellow sweater of his? Would he have hugged you after, or is that different from killing for you?
he loved you he loved you he loved you he loved you–
Imagine in the early days. Imagine the really early days. Imagine Ghostbur– No, Wilbur, following you out there into the dark and the rain, following your heartache as Tubbo turned you away, imagine that cold shore you didn’t know would be your personal hell, crafted into a livable space by that passive hollow ghost, but it never comes. Because when Dream tells you to put your stuff in the hole, he fucking hits you. I know you remember that, because it scared you that you weren’t surprised. He shoved you away from the wall back in L’Manberg, but that felt clinical, didn’t it? An enforcer doing the bare minimum to fulfill a banishment, but then he got you alone. Just you and Ghostbur-but-really-Wilbur. And he fucking hits you, a harsh strike with the flat of his sword, just enough to scare you, and scare you he does, but imagine it stops there, Tommy. Imagine he hits you and it does surprise you, because that’s wrong. That’s not okay, and Wilbur knows that’s not okay. He protects you. He hits Dream back and he doesn’t stop. Imagine you sitting in the wrongness of being hit by that man while your brother takes care of it, takes care of you. Imagine that anger, the fear you felt when Wilbur cornered you in Pogtopia, told you to be the bad guys, that fear turned against the man who nestled into the role of your villain, your friend, your abuser. Imagine that rage, that fury turned holy as Wilbur, the once beloved pacifist, paints the untainted grass red before Dream can pepper the earth with holes, promising to fill them with your blood, but he’ll never get the chance, because Wilbur stops him. Imagine going home after that, imagine the raw shock of knowing that monster is down a life, or two, or even three, and your brother is beside you. Imagine he rows you home. Or maybe that’s too gentle for him, so imagine you stare at him across from you, covered in blood as you do the rowing through the same storm you departed in.
imagine imagine imagine imagine imagine–
Tommy is on the ground. He doesn’t know if he fainted or merely stumbled on the rocks, he doesn’t recall if it knocked the wind out of him or how long he’s been lying there. It isn’t raining. Somehow that surprises him. He thought it would be raining.
The air is dry and a little cool, the stone beneath him making it cooler. There are shards of rock, uncomfortable and unyielding and uneven beneath him from his onslaught. It doesn’t hurt him, though. Not really. Not compared to his bloody hands, the stinging unforgiving and the dust, because the dust has dug in by now, the particles irritating the wound. He hasn’t looked at the damage yet, to see how much of himself was stripped away by his refusal to quit. Tommy is so far removed from himself. Maybe he didn’t even fall, maybe he laid down on the ground because staring at the stars might be enough to press the images– of Wilbur standing over Dream’s corpse of Dream standing over him of Wilbur standing over him of them killing him together of Tommy looking up at them and not seeing stars and instead only bloody fists that are not his own but that are too familiar too familiar too familiar–
Tommy bolts up, the stars spinning above him and his vision blurred maybe not by tears this time and he leans over and vomits onto the stone. His chest his heaving as he still struggles to breathe, spitting on the ground, his hands supporting him even as it makes the pain so much worse. He wishes it would rain. It doesn’t. He vomits again. This revulsion, its source known and unknown, so visceral he can only find some way to get it out of him, to reject this horror he cannot bring himself to understand, because these thoughts are like a disease, like the scent of rot or gun powder or lava and obsidian. Tommy gags, nothing left inside of him except that same violent horror, unquantifiable. It refuses to relent. He is no longer sick, the empty gagging returns to the familiarity of desperate sobs he’s too exhausted to bury. His arms are still shaking, struggling to keep himself sitting up.
He would’ve regretted it.
And he’s the only Wil you have. He’s the only one you’ll have ever again and this Wil says he loves you and if he’d been there he would’ve done nothing as Dream made you afraid. Would he bottle his anger? Or has he let go of it entirely? If this Wil had gone back to that day, would he have walked away from you and Dream and the hole he’d dug for you? Or would he have stayed, would he have the decency, the cruelty, to witness his hero break his favorite toy? Break you apart even as he says he still loves you? Would he dare say that to you if he stayed to watch the reckoning of his own violent pacifism?
Because it’s not apathy, is it? It wouldn’t be apathy, because he says he cares about you. He said he loved you. He says he loves you.
Tommy finally stands on unsteady legs, he brushes a hand over his face, trying to clean it, but he simply smears blood across his cheek. Tommy grabs the pickaxe from the ground. He returns to the stone, unfeeling, unsympathetic, unmalicious, and lets the burning in his palms thrive and settle. He pushes on.
He would’ve fucking regretted it.
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