To say Phil was stressed was an understatement.
After everyone had left his office, Phil sat and worried. He wasn’t normally one to worry over trivial things, but he knew what deep trauma could do to a person. Hell, he’d experienced his own living nightmare all those years ago and it still impacted him today.
Seeing this Tommy, whoever he was, panic and flinch over such small trivial things- it made Phil uneasy, to say the least.
Not to mention it made him worry about his own son. After everything that happened with Wilbur, Phil couldn’t bear to imagine what Tommy could be going through.
If he was even somewhere else. It was a weird situation Phil couldn’t for the life of him figure out. This Tommy had lived an entirely different life with people who existed here, but yet he was so different.
This Tommy was quick to snap. He was analytical and skittish. His fire seemed dulled and his spirits seemed crushed.
Yet, despite all this, he could see his own son peeking through this kid. The tone of the jokes and the way he spoke. The little mischief that twinkles behind his eyes when he thinks of something he shouldn’t be.
Phil didn’t want to admit it, but he was struggling to separate his feelings for the two. He was unsure exactly what he was gonna do.
He tried to ignore the thoughts. Just pretend things were okay.
Things, however, we’re not okay.
Phil tried to go to bed that night but found himself tossing and turning the entire time. He couldn’t get any sleep as his mind raced.
Is his Tommy okay? Will this Tommy be okay? What even happened to cause this change in personality?
Phil needed answers and he needed them fast.
He decided the best place to go would be James’ library. The feline had taken a long time collecting various books from all around the world and stored them in his little build.
Hell, even Phil himself donated some avian books he’d managed to keep with him just to help fill the library.
As soon as there was enough light in the sky to light up the valley in which his city lay, Phil flew down from his floating house to the library.
It was a peaceful morning. Most people were still asleep or just waking up. Most notably, none of the kids were being loud and destructive.
Assuming they still would. Tommy always led the chaos of the town.
A tugging pain pulled at Phil's chest. He was too overprotective of his sons and not knowing where one was could send him over the edge of panic.
Phil shoved the feelings down, knowing worrying wouldn’t do anything until he had more of the story.
The avian had been so caught up in his own mind that he hadn’t even considered James’ might not even be awake to open the library.
Luckily for him, his feline friend was awake and organizing a new shipment of books he’d managed to get delivered.
Phil heard the little bell above the door chime as he stepped inside. At first, he didn’t see James, but soon enough he saw his ears peak around from a corner.
“Well, good morning Phil! I didn’t expect to see you here so early.” James greeted.
Phil gave a tired smile. “Yeah, well, I couldn’t sleep. Need answers.”
He knew his explanation was brief enough that it could pique the interest of any curious individual.
“Answers? Well, you certainly came to the right place.” James’ cheeky grin appeared as he spoke.
Phil nodded. “Yeah, kind of a weird request but, do you have any books on… other worlds?”
James tilted his head. “Like? Other planets?”
“No no,” Phil quickly interrupted. “I mean like… other universes.”
James seemed quite surprised by that. “Oh, like an alternate reality?”
Phil smiled slightly out of relief. “Yes, exactly.”
James thought for a minute, before wandering deeper into his library. “Hm. I feel like I do. I thought I saw a book recently on just that topic.”
Phil followed James through the bookshelves until he stopped abruptly in the physics section. Glancing over the titles Phil could feel his brain start to hurt at the sheer thought. He can’t imagine anyone who would want to read that.
Well, that was a lie. Tubbo had probably read a fair few of them. That kid was smart in ways Phil could never understand.
James ran his fingers gently across the spines of some books before stopping abruptly. “Ah! Yes! Here it is!”
He pulled out a book that looked quite old and yet still in amazing condition. Aside from the layer of dust that had accumulated from not being read, it was in nearly perfect condition.
On the front, the words MULTIVERSE THEORY was printed in large bold letters.
“I’ve had this book for a while. It always intrigued me but I never really understood what it was talking about.” James explained as he handed the book over.
“Thank you so much. Mind if I just read it over here?” Phil questioned.
“Of course.” James smiled. “However, I have got to ask. Why are you so intrigued by a book on the multiverse?”
Phil let out a slightly shaky sigh. “Somethings wrong with Tommy. Like- He looks like Tommy, he sounds like Tommy, but he’s not my son. He has seemed to live an entirely different life with people like us, but it was different.”
James seemed taken aback by that. “You think he’s from another reality?”
Phil nodded. “I couldn’t think of any other explanation. How can someone be so close and yet so different? Sometimes it’s like he’s my son and sometimes he’s a complete stranger.”
James nodded. “Well, hopefully, that gives you answers. If you have anything else I can help you with let me know.”
“Thanks, mate. I will.” Phil nodded before moving to the corner of the library where a desk and chair were set up.
The avian took a seat and began to skim through the book. The book was somewhat confusing as it used large scientific words, but Phil found a few things he found that helped.
“The multiverse theory is a theory which states there are an infinite number of universes. This theory comprises the idea that every action splits the universe into two parallel universes with different outcomes.”
“This theory also covers every aspect of space, time, matter, energy, information and physical laws. Essentially stating that anything could co-exist within these parallel universes.”
“Theoretically, if a wormhole or ripple in time was opened between the universes two people could switch places in the universe. This theory has not been tested and it’s unclear exactly how this could happen. It would, however, confirm the multiverse theory.”
Phil let out a breath. This would give a perfect explanation to the whole Tommy situation. His son and this Tommy had swapped places.
An uneasiness settled in Phil. Although it was nice to know his son was alive, just in a different universe - he knew something was wrong. The Tommy he knows now clearly had been through some stuff that left him severely traumatized.
Which means that his Tommy was now in that universe. He just had to pray his son was strong enough to overcome whatever he faced.
The only other lingering question was how a wormhole opened. He knew his son wasn’t smart enough to create that. Tubbo probably could, but Tubbo seemed just as clueless about the Tommy swap as he did. This current Tommy also seemed confused.
He wondered if something else was at play here.
Phil decided not to ponder on it too long. He knew he’d have to explain it to the boys, maybe they’d know what was going on.
Tommy heard the bell ring through the quiet library as Tubbo swung the door open for the group to enter.
Tubbo and Ranboo sauntered in, but Purpled hung back close to Tommy. It was as if Purpled was being protective and making sure Tommy would be okay.
Tommy quickly pushed that thought away as he knew people didn’t really care about him, they simply pretended.
A feline-looking man wandered around the corner and smiled widely.
“Hi, Tubbo! Ranboo! Tommy! and… new friend.” James greeted.
“Hey James, this is Purpled. He’s Scott and Jordan’s nephew.” Tubbo quickly explained. “Have you seen Phil? He told us to meet him here.”
James nodded and his eyes lingered on Tommy for a moment more. “Yeah, he’s at the back at one of the desks.”
Tommy hated the way James’ eyes lingered. He knew the way he looked at him was with an understanding that he was a stranger despite looking like someone he knew.
Tommy could’ve been sick. He hated the pitiful looks.
The group made their way to the back, seeing Phil flipping the pages of a book with a focused look.
“Hey, Phil.” Tubbo greeted, causing Phil to jump slightly but looked over and smiled.
“Hey, boys- oh!” Phil’s eyes landed on Purpled. “Starborn… You must be Jordan and Scott’s nephew.”
Purpled nodded. “Names Purpled.”
“That’s right.” Phil smiled kindly. “Well nice to have you here. I see you’ve already met the other boys.”
Phil seemed to hesitate about asking if Purpled knew Tommy’s situation. The words were unspoken, but it was clear given the nature of the setting they were in.
Luckily, Purpled noticed and nodded. “Yeah. Tommy recognized me from his life so he and I have been hanging out.”
Phil just nodded. “That sounds lovely.”
It was now that Phil looked at Tommy and seemed surprised.
“Did you cut your hair?” He questioned.
Tommy tensed slightly and bit the inside of his lip as he nodded. “Yeah. Was annoying me. Decided to get rid of it.”
Phil chuckled softly. “Yeah, mate. Looks like you did a pretty big cut. We should sit down and get it fixed up at some point. Just clean it up, if that’s okay with you.”
Tommy didn’t like the idea of someone else touching his hair. They’d probably abuse it in the way Dream did. Something that left him uneasy.
However, Tommy didn’t wanna admit that so he just laughed it off with a “yeah, whatever” and tried to move the conversation to the reason they were really here.
Tommy felt his fingers twitch as he was uneasy at the thought of what Phil could have possibly found. The small talk could have driven him up the walls since he was so desperate to find out more information.
“So what did you find?” Tommy finally blurted.
The avian looked startled but looked to the book.
“That’s right. Well, I figured out a bit more about what could have happened.” Phil said.
“Well, we already know I’m from another universe or something right?” Tommy questioned.
Phil seemed to collect his thoughts for a moment. “Yes- but it’s more complicated than that.”
“Complicated how?” Tommy asked rather abruptly.
“Well- There’s a theory. It’s called the multiverse theory which, to summarize, basically means different realities can co-exist as parallel realities. It’s never been proven but theoretically, a wormhole could be opened up and cause the universes to cross.” Phil began to explain.
Tommy struggled to understand so he just stared in confusion. “ Sooo ?”
Phil let out a laugh. “So, I think that’s what happened here. Your reality is a parallel universe to this reality. There’s some overlap of who interacts with who while still having some differences. In your universe everyone is human. In this universe nobody is human. So, I think something happened to cause a wormhole that let you and our Tommy switch places.”
Tommy felt his heart drop. He had been so preoccupied with figuring out where he was and how he got here he never began to consider where the other Tommy was. Part of him assumed he was lost to space.
“You… you’re telling me… Tommy is in Esempi?” His voice broke slightly.
Phil’s eyes saddened and he nodded. “Yeah. Unfortunately. It doesn’t help that we don’t really know how it happened or how to reverse it.”
Tubbo’s wings drooped slightly. “Creating a rip in space and time is unheard of. I don’t even think I could come up with something that could do that.”
“Tommy, do you know anything that could’ve caused that opening?” Ranboo questioned.
Tommy just shook his head slowly. “No… I have no idea…”
Tommy was barely listening to the conversation anymore. He was too stuck on the idea that someone innocent was paying for his mistakes.
Someone he’d never meet has to suffer in exile. Unlike this reality, that Tommy would only have Dream. He wouldn’t have anyone to guide or help him. Dream would just break his spirit in the way he broke Tommy’s.
Tommy knew he deserved that treatment. But this Tommy? He has a family who loves him and friends who stay by his side and are willing to befriend a stranger just because he looks similar.
The universe was cruel and unforgiving. The only thing worse than suffering himself is knowing someone else is suffering and he can’t do anything about it.
The walls felt like they were about to close in on him. He felt suffocated in the library under the weight of his own guilt. He needed air and he needed it now.
“I… I have to go.” Tommy suddenly announced.
Before anyone could respond, Tommy went running out the door.
To say Tommy’s reaction to finding out their Tommy was in his world put Tubbo on edge would have been an understatement.
Tubbo was incredibly anxious as he noticed Tommy seemed to settle into a panic attack. Unfortunately this time the bee recognized his distant stare a lot faster.
Tommy’s abrupt exit caused Tubbo to want to turn and run after him. He turned to go after his best friend when he felt an arm grab his wrist.
Tubbo glanced over to see a serious Purpled holding his wrist.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Tubbo asked, trying to pull his hand free.
“I think we should give him space. He clearly needed a moment.” Purpled said seriously.
“No! I’m not doing this again! Tommy is in trouble and I need to help him.” Tubbo protested, trying to pull his wrist free.
“No Tubbo.” Purpled snapped. “We are basically strangers. You might know a version of Tommy but it is not this Tommy. We know basically nothing about this kid, I don’t think we can just go running after him.”
“You don’t get it, Purpled. You met him today. You didn’t see what Ranboo and I saw yesterday. He’s hurting and I need to go help him!” Tubbo protested.
“Tubbo!” Purpled was getting more aggressive. “He’s not your Tommy. You don’t have to help him. You don’t even know if he wants your help!”
Tubbo fell silent. Being yelled at like that shook him to his core. He was very quickly starting to hate this guy.
“Look. I wanna help him too, do not get me wrong. But I can see the way he looks at you. Both of you.” Purpled glanced at Ranboo who was uncharacteristically quiet with how Purpled yelled.
“He is hurt. Something deep inside him that we don’t know. We can’t force our way to get him to open up about whatever he went through. And I can tell it is not good by that reaction. If my suspicions are correct he’s gonna feel guilty. Guilty that whatever he went through is now being put on to someone else. I don’t know how that will cause him to react but we have to be patient. He needs to feel comfortable enough to come to us.”
Tubbo clenched his hands. “I just can’t sit by and watch him suffer. He’s not my Tommy, but I hate seeing anyone suffer, especially like that. It’s not his fault Tommy’s gone but I’m not about to let him push us away or sit waiting.”
Ranboo sighed softly. “I can see where both of you are coming from. I think we can’t just let him be on his own because he’s clearly gonna do something he might regret. On the other hand, we can’t force him. Tubbo, you saw his reaction to us seeing..” Ranboo paused, but Tubbo knew what he meant. “He clearly is hiding it for a reason.”
Tubbo took a step back. “You can’t seriously be siding with him ? Ranboo, this is Tommy.”
“He’s not our Tommy. I know you want him to be, but he’s not. ” Ranboo pointed out.
“Why does it fucking matter?” Tubbo exclaimed. “He’s still Tommy and I’m gonna fight like hell to save him. Even if I have to do it alone.” He spat.
Phil was now standing and put a hand on Tubbo’s shoulder.
“Look, I’m not gonna say what I think we should or shouldn’t do. Because this is such a unique situation. But, we are gonna have to handle this situation with care. Which means you three can’t let your feelings get in the way of helping him. Got it?”
Tubbo brushed Phil’s hand off.
“Whatever. Yeah. I’m still gonna go make sure he doesn’t jump into Niki’s pond because he’s feeling guilty.” Tubbo muttered as he turned and walked quickly out of the library.
How could everyone turn on him like that? Do they not care that Tommy is hurting?
Of course, Tubbo knows it’s not his Tommy, even if it’s sometimes hard to distinguish. He made a promise that he was gonna help save this Tommy and he meant it.
Nobody is gonna stop him from saving his best friend. He hoped the alternate version of himself would do the same and will help protect his Tommy when the time comes as he was sure he would need the protection.
Tubbo just hoped Tommy wouldn’t come back as damaged as this Tommy. He wasn't sure he could handle it a second time.
Tommy basically stumbled out of the building and moved away from the library.
Saying he was overwhelmed was easily an understatement. He wanted to claw at his skin as it crawled at the idea of Dream laying a hand on someone else.
Which in itself was confusing. As Dream was his friend. That’s what Dream always told him.
No. Dream wasn’t a friend. Friends don’t physically hurt friends. Tubbo never hit him like Dream would. He never used excessive force when Tommy wouldn’t listen.
But, then again, Tubbo exiled him. We’re they ever even friends? Was it all an act?
Tommy curled over himself and grabbed his head. His mind raced and he just wanted to scream. First, his nightmare of Wilbur and Dream hurting new Tubbo and now the idea Dream could get his hands on someone else.
Tommy wants to scream. He wanted to cry. He was failing and he didn’t even know he could fail like this.
Part of him wondered if he could have built that tower from his dissociation. Had he just given into the thoughts a few days ago that Tommy would be safe from his life.
Tommy was spiralling and he was spiralling hard. He was wishing to be back. He’d take any punishment if it meant the bird Tommy would be safe.
Tommy’s thoughts would have kept spiralling if a voice didn’t break the silence.
“OI! TOMMY FUCKING INNIT.” A thick, accented voice shouted.
Tommy slowly looked up, his cheeks were streaked with tears and he was shaking slightly.
I’m the distance, two people were gliding over.
The first was a girl. She had long black and blonde hair that was parted perfectly down the middle. It looked held back out of her face by the pilot goggles she wore on her head. She had two avian wings much like Phil but the colour of her wings matched her hair colour. She had brown pants with straps that went over her green shirt and black boots covering her feet.
The other was a boy. He had brown hair that was tucked under a frog hat that he held on his head as he was founding down. He wore black pants and had on a green long sleeve which was mostly hidden by the white t-shirt on top of it. He had green sneakers to match his shirt. His wings were a sage green colour. He also appeared to have a sort of key ring around his belt loop full of something Tommy struggled to make out.
How many avians were in this world? Phil, Tommy, and now these two?
Tommy realized he didn’t recognize either of them. They weren’t people who lived in Esempi which was honestly harder than just seeing people he knew. He had no idea how these two would act.
The duo landed in front of him and the girl marched straight up to him.
“Where do you fucking get off missing our weekly meeting!” The girl exclaimed as the boy next to her tried to match the energy but was failing to hide his smile.
“Sorry?” Tommy asked, wiping his eyes.
He was struggling to comprehend as his intrusive thoughts were still screaming about his failures.
“Oh don’t play dumb.” The girl hissed. “Our weekly gossip sessions! As much as I love spilling to Freddie here, his reactions aren’t as fun.”
The boy, Freddie, just seemed to nod along. “Yeah, and when you’re not there Beau turns to insulting me!”
Tommy let out a soft sigh. “Sorry. I should explain. I’m not… your Tommy.” He started, wiping away the tears.
Beau seemed confused. “This is a really stupid excuse. What do you mean you’re not our Tommy?”
“I’m from an alternate reality,” Tommy spoke bluntly. “See? No wings.” He turned slightly to show the duo his back.
The girl gasped and reached out.
Freddie quickly grabbed her hand. “Beau! You can’t just go and touch the man!”
“Why not?” Beau huffed. “I gotta make sure he isn’t just hiding it!”
“How could he possibly hide it?” Freddie pointed out.
Beau shrugged. “I dunno! He’s Tommy! You don’t think he’d prank us like this?”
Freddie stared at Tommy for a minute but shook his head. “No. Not this time. I think he’s being genuine.”
“And how do you know that?” Beau snapped.
“Because he’s been crying. When do we ever see Tommy cry.” He spoke bluntly.
“I’m literally right here,” Tommy said in a monotone way. “I’m not lying or deceiving you. Honest. You can ask Phil, Tubbo, Ranboo or Niki.”
Beau seemed unconvinced but nodded. “Okay. I believe it.”
“Really? And why’s that?” Tommy crossed his arms.
“Because you aren’t yelling back at me. My Tommy wouldn’t ever miss a chance to call me an idiot.”
“Yeah, well I have never met you in my life,” Tommy explained.
Beau scoffed. “Wow. You’re just as much of a bitch as birdinnit.”
“Beau!” Freddie exclaimed. “You can’t insult him off the bat.”
“Who are you calling bitch, bitch!” Tommy immediately exclaimed, jumping right in and completely forgetting about his intrusive thoughts.
She wasn’t about to get away with insulting him.
“Tommy! You can’t call Beau a bitch!” Freddie tried to reason.
“Oi! I’m not a bitch!” Beau’s wings puffed up and Tommy couldn’t help but step back slightly as she gave off an intimidating aura.
“Sounds like something a bitch would say.”
“Call me a bitch again and it’s on fucking sight Innit.”
The two stared at each other for a second before Beau couldn’t hold it in anymore and let out a laugh, which in turn caused Tommy to laugh.
Freddie just groaned. “How do you two immediately fall into the same dynamic?”
Tommy just let out a laugh. “Apparently I’ve been doing that a lot recently. Tommy must just have an elite sense of humour.”
“You’re just saying that because it’s your humour.” A voice chimes in.
Tommy turned around to see Tubbo wandering over. He looked really agitated but was trying to hide it behind a smile.
The blonde decided not to push further and just played along.
“Yeah, so what? My humour is great.”
“Sure it is, bossman.” Tubbo laughed slightly. “I see you met Beau and Freddie.”
Freddie nodded. “Yeah. It’s uncanny really, the similarities.”
Tubbo laughed. “Oh trust me, they are very different once you get to know them, but still alright I guess.”
“Alright? He called me a bitch.”
“She called me a bitch first!” Tommy whined.
“You can’t just call girls bitches!” Tubbo groaned, his antennae twitching.
“And why not?” Tommy crossed his arms.
“Oh, so many reasons I don’t have time to explain.” Tubbo sighed.
Beau laughed. “See! I win! I’m better.” She stuck out her tongue.
“I’ll show you who won!” Tommy said, but Freddie and Tubbo quickly grabbed him.
“Please don’t assault an origins member.” Tubbo pleaded.
“Especially Beau. She’ll kick your ass. She’s done it before.” Freddie added on.
Beau just cackled. “Oh my god, that was so funny. Right as we started our hitman business, I totally beat his ass!”
Tubbo snorted. “That’s right. Your super unsuccessful hitman business because Phil won’t let you kill people.”
“Yeah. Fun killer.” Beau pouted.
“You know you’d get caught. You two aren’t exactly subtle.” Freddie pointed out.
“Yeah. Freddie and I could definitely do better. We are at least sneaky.” Tubbo grinned.
“Are you implying you’d be better at hitmanning than us?” Tommy gasped.
“Whose saying we aren’t already.” Tubbo's eyes sparkled with mischief.
Tommy let out a slightly scared laugh. “Primes, Tubbo. Remind me not to fuck with you.”
Tubbo just smiled innocently. “Thank you.”
“That’s not a compliment.” Tommy pointed out.
“Not to you.” He let out a little evil laugh.
Freddie couldn’t help but also laugh.
“Anyways. Since you missed our morning gossip session I think it’s only fair you make it up now! I have so much to share.” Beau said, as she walked over and linked their arms.
“But- I don’t know anyone?” Tommy questioned.
“You think I care? No. As long as you react accordingly.” Beau huffed.
“I think I can manage that.” Tommy smiled weakly.
“Perfect! Alright Freddie, let’s wander around and spill the tea!” Beau grinned.
Tommy noticed as Tubbo’s wings drooped slightly again. He felt a little bad as it seemed they were gonna leave him.
Tommy did feel a bit of guilt as he looked at Tubbo, knowing he was the reason his friend was probably in trouble.
However, a larger part of him didn’t want Tubbo to leave his side. These were strangers. He wasn’t sure if he could trust them.
“Can… Can Tubbo join our gossip session?”
Beau seemed shocked but looked over Tubbo.
“Do you promise not to tell a soul?”
Tubbo nodded. “Cross my heart!” He said, tracing his fingers in an ‘X’ over his heart.
Beau nodded. “Then yeah. He can join us.”
And the squad was off. They wandered up to Beau’s house and ended up sitting around her table as they all chatted about various dramas.
Some names Tommy didn’t recognize so he gave exaggerated reactions while others were genuine.
Fundy got his head stuck in a wall because he was roughhousing with Wilbur? Kinda hilarious to him.
It was nice. It helped keep his mind off the inevitable. Unknowing to Beau and Freddie this is exactly what he needed.
Seemed like it was also what Tubbo needed. He had come into the conversation super tense but now he was relaxed and offering up gossip of his own.
It was a momentary escape and he was relieved to have it. Even if it was just for that day.