It was dark already. Had been for some time.

It used to be a time Herobrine enjoyed the most. When he could steathfully hunt down his prey, when he could avoid the poor eyesight of mortals, and slip silently through the night air, unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Now it brought a sense of dread.

Where was he?

Herobrine tried very hard to focus on the book he was reading instead. But it didn't really keep him too captivated. He was drumming his fingers. Convincing himself not to open the blinds for the hundredth time. He was attempting to look natural and unworried. Practicing for when the miner got back. Otherwise he would be concerned.

Steve had been going to Alex's more often as of late. More times than their monthly meetup. Herobrine tried not to think about it too much. Mostly because he was trying not to be selfish. Steve had a life outside of him. And he needed to live it. Herobrine understood that Steve had boundaries. It was just...Steve hadn't really put up too many boundaries before. Usually anywhere Steve went, he went.

Herobrine had set a lot more boundaries, disappearing for days when he needed time to think alone; more of a reason to respect the little Steve had set. But he found it difficult to respect this newfound separation. He wondered if Steve felt the same when he did it to him. If so, the demon would try to do it far less.

At least, and at last, Herobrine had gotten over his jealousy phase of Alex. So he didn't have to deal with that. He was very glad she was Steve's friend. Alex was a good person. Not as good as Steve obviously. And he couldn't be jealous of her time with him either. As Steve spent vastly more time with him. If anything Alex should be jealous of him.

In trying to do the right thing, he had to keep reminding himself to not just follow and stalk the mortal. Steve had this way of knowing when he was around most of the time anyways. Which annoyed him slightly. But it didn't surprise him. Steve was much more perceptive than he was when he had been mortal.

But as he sat there, staring at the dark blinds, the urge to go against the right thing grew stronger. He wanted to go out there and search. Make sure he was okay. Herobrine was always worried when Steve was out of his sight. He even worried about Alex. His family could still be out there. They've been much too quiet. About all of this. It made him more on edge the longer it went on. Let alone the regular threats that were out there.

Steve, of course, told him to be optimistic. Optimism wasn't in his nature. Evidence of the thousands of ways he was imagining Steve getting killed out there right now.

It was stupid of him really. He was the fallen hero. The scourge of the overworld. The prince or king or ruler or whatever of the nether and so on and so on and soo on. If he would have looked at himself a couple years ago he would have mocked himself for the worry over a simple mortal. But it was the tradeoff for becoming more human. Human emotions. Bleh.

Thankfully he didn't need to go search. Just as he was about to throw the book to the side and leave, planning to start the search at Alex's house, he heard humming in the distance.

It was a song that had been stuck in Steve's head as of late. In between the humming was soft curses and heavy footsteps. As the miner stumbled his way through the field.

He let out an audible sigh of relief at the familiar noises. His entire body had been wound tighter than a dispenser loaded full of arrows.

There was a small thud against the door. Herobrine had to smile at the quiet 'ow' that followed. Steve's clumsy nature never ceased to amuse him.

The miner fumbled with the doorknob for longer than usual. Once he got the door opened he swung into the house with it.

Steve's carefree face was flush and his breathing was heavy from the long trip.

"Hello." Herobrine sat up on the couch immediately, greeting him. Remembering his plan, he slouched more and tried to hide the relief at the miner's return. Instead attempting to look more invested in his book. Nonchalant. Cool. Collected.

Steve jumped up at the hello, startled.

"Hey!" Steve said loudly, as if Herobrine were standing across the field. The demon winced at the sudden volume change. The room had been unnaturally quiet. The miner then cleared his throat, trying again. "Hey." He repeated quieter, in a normal tone.

"How was the trip?" Herobrine asked in his best even tone. Again trying to seem chill. But the concern was slowly returning. Was Steve okay? He was still leaning on the door. Turning at the door knob with one hand as if trying to open it, even though it was open.

"Gooood good. It was good." Steve took a clumsy step forward. He swiped at the door allowing it to slam shut behind him. He rocked slightly after the momentum. There was something recognizable to the way the miner moved. Ah. The concern wafted away. So that was it.

"Are you...drunk?" Herobrine asked for confirmation of his theory. He closed the book, amused. This might be interesting. Steve had come home tipsy before but never drunk.

Steve's back went rigid. He stopped moving completely. "...Noooo." Oh what a bad liar.

"You totally are!" Herobrine chuckled.

"Am NOT!" Steve said seriously, angry at the accusation. Then his face curved into a clumsy smile. "Okay yeah, maybe a little."

"Mhm. Have fun with Alex then?" A bit too much fun probably. That girl sure liked her alcohol.

"Ye." The miner turned to hang his satchel up on the wall. He struggled for a couple of seconds. Trying to get it over his head. When he finally got it off his hair was a mess. He pulled it up to hang it. But dropped it before the hook. It fell to the ground with a clatter. This sent the miner into a giggle fit. "Shit."

"Notch, you're wasted." Herobrine snorted himself, letting out a good laugh. He could smell the alcohol from here. Confirming what the miner was trying to hide.

"You...you said the word we're not supposed to say." Steve swung on his heels pointing at Herobrine, each word had a different volume.

"Hmm?" Herobrine had stopped laughing immediately and focused on Steve's arm instead. There was fresh blood coming from a few shallow scratches. Not enough to drip onto the floor but enough that it looked like it stung. He fought the urge to jump up, demand to know what had happened, and kill anything that had made it happen.

"Notch." His body tilted forward as his injured arm came towards his face to talk behind his hand. "It's the bad word." He whispered like it was a secret.

"Is it now?" Herobrine hummed through grit teeth, thoughts now somewhat intrigued on that notion. He hadn't even realized that Steve had not used that word around him. Let alone he was trying not to do it on purpose. "Why's that?"

"You get all ANGSTY when someone says it..." Steve slumped. "Your face does this." He scrunched his face up looking sad. Herobrine didn't like the look on him.

But it was a pretty accurate representation. "I suppose it does." He gestured to his own arm like one would a child to make sure they understand. "Does your arm hurt?"

"Uh, no?" Steve held up his arm to his face as if just now realizing he was injured.

Herobrine teleported across the room in an instant. Steve stumbled back at his sudden presence. But Herobrine accounted for this and grabbed his arm as lightly as he could to keep him standing. "Let me see it." He said gently.

Steve allowed him to take his arm. The miner stared down at the ground. Herobrine noticed he looked a bit flushed. A blush was on his cheeks from the warming affect of the alcohol. He would make sure Steve drank some water. It was a long trip and he didn't see Steve's canteen packed in the bag that he had just dropped.

"You didn't try to fight mobs in this state did you?" His tone was harsh as Herobrine felt a bit of anger slip out of nowhere without meaning it to. He bit his cheek so he didn't involuntarily squeeze his hands tight. Steve insisted he was fine going alone so Herobrine hadn't followed him. If he had gotten hurt by simple mobs-

"No." And the anger was gone. "I trippeded." Steve's face scrunched up as he fought to remember. "Big rock."

Herobrine could tell he was telling the truth as evident by a dirtied spot on his knees and where the blood was coming from on his arm. It looked much different from how a mob attack would look. No need to get so...emotional. "Let's heal that up shall we?"

"Nope." Steve bluntly stated and started walking away. He didn't get far with Herobrine holding his arm. Even just gently. Steve looked up at him drowsily. His purple eyes looked sort of grey. "Leggo imma go to sleep."

"Go sit down it will only take a second." Herobrine spun him to the direction of the couch.

Steve complied, wobbly. His footsteps were even louder as he made his way across the room. "S' just a scratch." The miner insisted. It was just a scratch. If Steve wasn't drunk he wouldn't have been able to convince him so easily.

He flopped onto the couch, lying down, injured arm dangling off the side. His legs moved to take off his shoes with his feet.

Herobrine teleported over to the kitchen. "Which is why it will only take a second to clean out."

"Tell that to you, Brine." Steve was referring to the fact that the demon never allowed Steve to clean up the small cuts he received. A pot calling the kettle black.

"You don't have healing powers." The argument had become more of a ritual than an actual argument. The same dance they did every time one of them got hurt. Herobrine grabbed a cup of water, a clean cloth, and a healing potion. He made sure he had a good stock now. Though Steve had protested the mass execution of ghasts so he tried to only use regeneration in emergencies and instead use healing potions made from watermelons that Steve and him found wildly in the land. He picked out a very weak one. No need for anything heavy duty.

"No you." Steve giggled, finally flinging off his other shoe and settling in.

"Ah, good point." Steve had insisted this was a joke. He didn't really understand it. But it made the miner laugh every time so he wasn't about to question it. Herobrine turned from the kitchen and began walking over to the couch.

The view made him falter. The supplies almost dropped from his seizing hands.

Steve was laying very still on the couch. His arm hung in a way where he could see most of the blood.

A very familiar feeling washed over him. A knot formed in his throat. His muscles all tensed. The room grew hotter. He felt dizzy. And sick from a bad taste in his mouth.

There was too much blood.

"Brine?" One violet eye peered up at him from behind the arm of the couch.

Instant relief. The knot released itself. He could breathe again. Steve was okay. That's right. It was just a scratch. It wasn't even dripping. He couldn't even smell it. Only the alcohol.

"Coming." Herobrine finally got his body moving. He kept his tone light to not draw suspicion. He was beginning to despise that couch.

He placed the materials on the ground and scooted one of the chairs from the table over so he could sit. He tried keeping his hands busy by preparing the potion of healing and the cloth, getting it wet with the glass of water he had brought over. He poured the liquid on gently, not using too much. He would try to get Steve to drink some after.

Even in his drunken state, Steve seemed concerned. It showed in his posture. In how he had gone completely silent. Even his breathing was quieter. Herobrine decided he didn't like that. Steve deserved a night off from trying to help his mental situation.

Damn, he didn't even think he could get any more PTSD, as Steve, and a few books, had diagnosed it as. He should talk about it later. Maybe. Probably not.

"I'm fine." He promised. He was for now.

That seemed good enough for Steve. He relaxed into the couch once more.

He got to work on the dangling arm. Picking it up and cradling it in one of his hands. He dabbed gently at the scratches, cleaning it out slowly so he didn't cause any pain. Not that Steve would feel any right now. He could have probably accomplished the same result having Steve go wash it off and then just throw some potion at it. But Herobrine wanted to do it this way...to make sure the wound was clean of course.

Steve stared up at him. Herobrine tried very hard to focus on the arm. And not his face. He had found himself getting more and more distracted by that face.

"Do you drink?" Steve asked after a while. Herobrine was grateful for the small talk. He loved the sound of Steve's voice. It was always a good distraction from his brain. His breath was thick with the smell of alcohol. But Brine didn't really mind all that much.

He smirked. "You've seen me drink." He liked being purposefully annoying.

"No like alcohol, stupid." Steve huffed out. Herobrine snuck a peak. The miner's eyes were half closed.

Herobrine flicked him on the forehead for the remark. He couldn't resist.

"Owwwwwah" The fake cry of pain dragged out.

"Your own fault really" Herobrine felt warm inside. "And I don't like to. I don't find the appeal to it. Once you go a long time without something, you learn not to rely on it. Like sleep or food or water or alcohol, etc."

"But you've been eating and sleeping and drinking and and eating"

"I guess I have" But only because Steve looked so happy when he enjoyed his cooking. And only to avoid the mobs...which again, was for Steve's piece of mind. He wasn't a big fan of sleeping still. It was a chore. He had been avoiding it at all costs. Even napping eluded him.

"Can you even do drunk?" Steve continued, rubbing his forehead with the back of his good hand.

"I can. But I can drink you under several tables before getting drunk myself." He ignored Steve's sounds of protest at that. It was true. "Can't be certain but I think that's Notch's fault." It was probably a tie between something to do with his immortality or his heightened defense from the enchantments. Whatever it was, it was annoying. And most annoying things about himself could be tied back to his brother in some way or form.

"Stoppit that's too many times to say it." Steve slurred, opening one eye up at him. "You're gonna make yourself sad."

"I won't." Herobrine couldn't think of a single reason to be sad right now. He finished cleaning the wound and poured a good amount of healing potion on it, keeping the cloth under the arm to keep it from spilling on the floor. The small wounds healed instantly. Not even scarring.

"Why don't you get drunk sometime?" Steve said as Herobrine began cleaning up. "Why do I gotta be the one to be drunk and and and embarrass myself?" He waved his hands in the air.

"You're not embarrassing yourself." Herobrine promised. Nothing Steve could do would be embarrassing.

Steve held up his healed arm, pointing to it as if that proved something.

"Injuring your frail mortal body is somehow embarrassing?"

"No but yes. Only cause I did it cause alcohol..."

Following the 'logic'. "You'll never guess but I've actually got the ability to embarrass myself without the consumption of alcohol." He used a longer sentence on purpose just to watch Steve physically work through it.

Finally he wiggled his head. "Oh yeah? Name one time."

"How bout that time I decided to go for a lava swim and forgot to take off my clothes?"

"Doesn't count."

"Why not?"

"Wasn't embarrassing."

"Then what was it?"

Steve changed the conversation since he was not winning the argument. A tactic he often employed. "I just have never seen drunk you. Drunk me you've seen now. Hello, hi, nice to meet you. It's not faaaaair."

He chuckled leaning forward over Steve's face, the blush on the miner's cheeks deepend. "Drunk Steve."

"Y-yeah.?"

"I'm sorry but I don't think you'll get to meet Drunk Herobrine." His name, ever strange on his own tongue.

"Why not?" Steve pouted.

"The last time I got drunk I razed a whole village."

"Oh." His eyes went wide. Well, wider.

"Burnt to a crisp."

"Ohh."

"It was a fun time, though." He gave a sharp smile that sent shudders through the being underneath him.

"Ohhh no." Steve tried to flick Herobrine's forehead this time, missing as Herobrine pulled his head back just a bit. "No happy murder thoughts." Steve flicked the air instead, then let the arm flop down over his face.

Herobrine stood up, taking the materials with him to go place in the kitchen. "It's not on the list of ground rules." He stated, again trying to be annoying on purpose.

"It's on my MENTAL list." Steve made no effort to move from the couch. "Like no bad word."

"Ah, I see." Herobrine returned and placed the chair back to where it belonged. He liked the coziness of the home. Steve didn't keep much. It was very organized. Everything had its place. Unlike his dragon hoard of a palace back in the nether.

He had left the cup of water sitting by the side of the couch. He picked it up and placed it on Steve's chest, still holding onto it so it didn't spill. "Sit up. Drink it."

Steve sucked in a deep breath and let it out with a "Nooooo."

"You just hiked miles while drunk. You're going to drink this water." His tone was harsher than he meant for it to be. It was for both Steve's own good and for his own selfish reasons. He didn't want Steve having to stay asleep the entire day with a bad hangover. Water would at least make the headache tomorrow less terrible. Maybe half a day at worst.

"M' not drunk." Steve protested. He turned his face into the couch. Herobrine picked up the water glass to make sure it didn't spill.

"You already told me you are, Drunk Steve." Herobrine said patiently.

"Oh. I did? That was dumb of me." Steve flipped around completely and sat up.

"Sure was." He handed the cup to Steve.

The miner took one sip and tried handing it back. Herobrine didn't even need to say anything. Just had to stare. Like he would at a hungry zombie getting close. Steve rolled his eyes and began to sip at the water more. Knowing very well he would have to drink the entire cup.

He stood there waiting until Steve finished. He took the cup that Steve held up straight in the air. "Thank you. You can sleep now."

"Coo." Steve slumped into the couch.

Herobrine set the cup on the kitchen table. He had been planning on sitting back on the couch. Steve still wasn't moving. "Scoot." He instructed.

Steve flopped off the couch onto the floor. Giggling once he found himself completely on the ground.

"Too much. But effective." Herobrine picked up his book and went to sit on the other side of the couch, walking around the lump of mortal on the ground. He rested one arm against the armrest and one up against the back of the couch. Might as well continue reading. Steve would go to sleep and it was much too early for the phantoms to show up. They had been arriving progressively later and later at night as if dreading the fight with him.

Had it been three days since he had last slept even? He hoped so. He was feeling anxious for a fight and needed to blow off some nervous energy that had been building over the past couple of days.

Steve, in keeping with the tradition of doing the ever unexpected, did not go to bed. But instead crawled up onto the couch cushions. His arms and head hung onto the couch like he was falling off a cliff. Even though his body was still touching the floor. He grunted with effort and crossed his arms under his chin, staring up innocently. "Whatchya doin?"

"Reading." Herobrine couldn't help the smile that formed. What was the mortal doing?

"Reading what?" Steve looked up at the cover with wonder.

"The book you gave to me to read." Herobrine turned the page.

"Oh yeah." Steve nodded in remembrance, shaking the cushion and his arms with it in a small bouncing movement. "S' good?"

"It's okay." It wasn't, he had read far too many books in his life. This one didn't peak his interest. But it was better than sitting there bored. The dead of night couldn't come slower now that Steve was safe. Just a few hours ago he was glaring down the sun, threatening it not to go down. But now he wished the night would get on faster so he could go fight.

He glanced at Steve, lowering the book slightly to make eye contact. "Weren't you going to go to bed?" Not that he wanted him to go. He just looked confused sitting there.

"M'not tired." Steve huffed out, despite looking exhausted.

"Okay. But I'm not going to carry you to your bed when you fall asleep on the floor." He would.

"Comfy." Steve simply stated.

"Yep."

Steve pulled himself using the cushions and stood above Herobrine. He teetered slightly.

"You good?" Herobrine asked, worried that the miner was going to fall backwards or something. He was danger prone. Well, actually that was another instance of pot and kettle he realized.

"Kinda." The miner's dull purple eyes looked deep in thought. His face was unreadable. Strange. Usually Herobrine could pretty accurately tell what he was thinking.

Steve suddenly turned and fell down into the couch. Although he didn't fall on the other side of the couch. He flopped down directly next to Herobrine. Their thighs and arms touched.

Steve leaned over and rested his body on Herobrine. His head on his shoulder. "I wanna read too." He yawned.

Herobrine shifted then. Instantly. As if his body knew exactly what to do without even being asked. He moved so his back sat on the arm rest and slouched into it. This allowed for Steve to fall more onto his chest and get a better view of the book. Though Herobrine doubted Steve wanted to read. He wrapped his arm that had been on top of the couch over the miner's shoulder.

They both barely fit, but it was comfortable regardless. Herobrine would've sat on a cactus to keep Steve comfortable. He deserved it. Steve was fully on the couch at this point, his legs pressed up to curl next to Herobrine's waist. Herobrine's legs were still draped over the side.

"You're warm." Steve sighed pleasantly. His left hand had worked its way onto his chest. It grabbed slightly at his shirt.

"You're smelly." Herobrine joked. But only because Steve was half asleep. He was still sweaty from the hike and his body seemed to waft alcohol with it. He wished he had made him drink more water.

Herobrine placed a hand on his head, causing him to stir from his half asleep state. "If you're going to sleep, why don't you just go to bed?"

"M'not sleep." A soft voice answered against his chest.

"Sure."

It was silent for a while. Herobrine stared at the page but didn't read very fast. He listened to Steve's soft breathing. His head settled more so into Herobrine's chest. Both their hearts seemed to beat faster at the contact. He left his hand on Steve's head.

"You're not going to fight the phantoms tonight right?" The sentence was the clearest one that Steve had produced the entire night. It startled Herobrine, even though the miner said it quietly. It was unexpected.

"Why?"

"S' been three days." Steve kept a better count than him. Gods, he didn't deserve the man. He wished Steve would stop worrying about it though. This was just his process. He should've seen how long it took for the dragon to start respecting him. Eventually if he proved himself a great enough threat, he essentially moved up the food chain. And mobs would leave him alone.

"I won't fight them tonight." Herobrine promised, not sure if he was actually going to keep that promise or not. He was beginning to hate breaking his promises to Steve though.

"Good." Steve relaxed even more. The clenched hand grabbing at his shirt now just sat there, fingers uncurled.

He played absentmindedly with Steve's hair as he slowly read. Running the short locks through his fingers. He liked this. He usually did not like being touched. Centuries of battle instincts would kick in, fight and flight combined. But with Steve it was fine. His body relaxed, not tensed. He wished to hold Steve closer. He liked the way their hearts beat together. It made him feel more alive. He wondered if Steve would like it too? The couch was earning back his favor for bringing them together.

This was weird to him. The peace. He had only thought about survival and revenge for so long, fulfilling his monstrous role as basically a wild animal. Bringing destruction with no drive or purpose for existing.

It felt like Steve was domesticating him. Training him like he would a wild wolf. Which is what Herobrine wanted. To be a real person again.

But in the back of his head. The monster still called out. Like an itch that needed to be scratched. The urge to fight, found in his drive to kill mobs that already posed no threat to him. To survive as evident in his attempts to wall off all his feelings so he didn't have to deal with emotions that came when things inevitably collapsed in on itself.

It was a big reason he hadn't let himself get that close to Steve. The monster was still trying to form an emotional barrier. He wasn't supposed to get attached.

Gods, Steve made it hard to not get attached.

It didn't help that he knew Steve wanted something from him too. Alex had practically confirmed it for him. He wasn't sure the extent. Relationships were never his strong suit as a mortal. He hadn't even thought about any mortal desires for a long time. As he had told Steve, you go a long time without something you don't really miss it.

With Steve being gone more often, his thoughts had had time to wander. It was probably a good thing. Some self reflection. He was very clearly attracted to the miner. More so for the personality of the man. Steve was perfect. Wonderfull. One of a kind.

But this attraction came with a new problem. It bled into the territory of those monstrous tendencies. One that Steve often had to remind him about. The old Herobrine took whatever he had wanted. Be it someone's life, property, etc. No one could stop him. Apart from Notch who didn't give a shit and actually often encouraged the behavior. It wanted Steve now.

Alex saw it in him. Easily. She was more perceptive than Steve. She glared at him when the thoughts shone in his eyes.

Weirdly enough her threatening glares had been more subdued as of late. His ego would have told him that he won the mental dominance fight for Steve. But that wasn't it. It was that she was trusting him more. Which he didn't deserve. Not only that but she was encouraging him to pursue Steve. It was baffling. Like letting a person walk through a zombie hoard. They both gave him a lot more credit than he deserved. He was a lit fuse on a tnt. He just didn't know how long that fuse was.

Even the monster quarreled with itself. While it wanted Steve it also didn't want the emotional baggage. It really wanted to drag Steve to the Nether and hide away forever.

It left his already troubled mind a storm of confusion. He found himself slipping more and more. Steve didn't even seem to notice which meant he was getting better at hiding it.

He wished he could talk to Steve about it. But he also didn't want to push the miner. It would be better for both of them to keep their relationship friendly and nothing more. Well, it would also be better for Steve if he didn't know Herobrine. But they were already past that. He wanted to get further.

The best thing to do would be to wait for Steve's decision. The one constant in his life was Steve. Steve always knew what to do. They had gotten this far on Steve's instinct alone. And Herobrine was the happiest he had ever been. Steve knew what to do. He just had to wait and trust. And maybe hope.

In the meantime he would try to hide his inner conflict the best he could. He just wanted to be there for Steve. Whatever he needed. Right now he was needed as a pillow. He owed the miner this much. If Steve wanted anything else, Herobrine would gladly oblige. But until then he would push down the monster's desire for possession and dominance. He had already been pushing back his desire to bolt and hide and run from all of his emotions. That was easier to deal with. He hoped his fuse would be long enough to handle the further conflict.

He allowed himself a brief glance at the distracting face on his chest. Steve's breathing was different now. Soft and steady through his mouth. A slight snore but not enough to be annoying. His heart beat ever faster. And so he turned back to his book.

He would put Steve in bed. Eventually.

Just after a few more chapters.

Steve awoke in his bed. To a massive headache. And a deep sinking feeling.

It was bright in the room. He could hear birds singing outside. It was already hot in his house so it must have been later in the day.

He sat up, slowly. He was sort of sore. His knees stung from where he had fallen. His mouth tasted terrible and his throat stung.

Steve crossed his arms on top of his knees and rested his head on it. In his mind, he groaned very loudly. He grit his teeth hard until the dull pound turned into a raging pound.

He had been the worst kind of drunk last night. Not completely black out drunk, where he didn't remember what he had said or done and could dismiss any embarrassing actions as being a result of the alcohol. No, he clearly remembered the entire night's events. He had been just drunk enough to let his filter go down and not sober enough to stop himself. Well, obviously he would have stopped himself if Brine had asked him too. But he hadn't. Maybe the demon got some sort of kick out of seeing him struggle.

The only part of the night that was a haze was the walk home. Alex had offered for him to spend the night. He had wanted to get back. He didn't like leaving Herobrine alone for too long. Correction. He didn't like to be away from Herobrine for long. So he had booked it. Trying to beat the setting sun as best as he could. It was fun at first. Stumbling and singing and sprinting. Until the motion made him sick and he fell over a rock at some point. And thankfully his haze was lifted as soon as his house came back into view. He couldn't imagine having passed out in the woods. Herobrine would never have let him hear the end of that.

He certainly would not drink around the demon again anytime soon. He would have to yell at Alex for giving him so much-

He groaned mentally again, flopping down in the bed but leaving his knees up. Alex. Right. His promise. It was the next day already.

Maybe he could just skip it. Sleep the rest of the day away. Hide away from his embarrassment.

Yeah that's what he would do.

Steve rolled over onto his side, shoving his hands under his pillow and curling up. He kicked the sheets off as it was rather warm. He tried to let his mind wander. To think of nothing. To let the pounding headache and the stinging bags under his eyes cease.

Of course...his mind decided to wander right back to last night. Herobrine had let him sleep on top of him. He invited him closer, and didn't push him away. They had been so close. The demon had played with his hair.

Steve sat up again, swinging his legs out around the edge of the bed. He shook his head, even though it made him dizzy. He was entirely too warm. 'Okay Steve, enough of that. Let's just start the day shall we?'

His body protested the movement. It wanted to remain lying there. Thinking things. But he really should start the day if he wasn't going to sleep.

He slipped out of bed onto the wooden floor. His mind felt muddled standing up now. Unsure of his next steps. He didn't really want to get changed or anything yet. He wasn't awake enough for that. Instead, his feet took him to leave the room.

He was mostly curious to see if his 'roommate' was out there. Despite wanting to hide away from embarrassment, he also wanted to see him. He felt not great right now and wanted the company. Misery and all that. The confident person inside of him told him to march right back to the couch and just sleep on Brine forever. And do more after he woke up. The anxious person inside of him told him that was a stupid idea and maybe walk into the sea never to be seen again? Walking forward was a decent compromise.

He yawned and winced as he opened the door. It creaked extra loud. As did his footsteps as he stepped out into the hallway.

The couch was in his view down the hall. Herobrine sat where he had last night. Almost finished with the book he had given him. Steve vaguely remembered Herobrine picking him up at some point and placing him back in his bed. He didn't know how long they had laid there on the couch. He wished that he had woken up on the couch.

He didn't say anything as he crossed the room, aiming to go slump into the kitchen chair. Compromise.

"Ah good morning, 'Drunk Steve'" Herobrine's smile looked extra smug this morning.

"Har har, fuck off." Steve returned playfully. But in his mind, he was screaming. Instantly regretting this. Gods he was the lamest human being alive. 'Drunk Steve' ahhhh. Maybe he could blow off Alex and just go hide in the mines for a few days. Herobrine would have trouble finding him down there.

"And how are we feeling today?"

He flopped down into one of the kitchen chairs, placing his head on the table, rather hard. Maybe he could still just leave and go back to bed.

"That good huh?"

"Do potions solve this?" Steve hissed out through his teeth. If it did he would make a whole watermelon farm.

"'Fraid not." There was a glass of water being placed in front of him. "This does though."

He glanced up weerily at the liquid. "You're killing me." He groaned.

"Nope. You did that to yourself. Drunk Steve should've drank more water."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." He swiped at the glass dramatically, sitting up just a bit.

A hand was placed on his shoulder. Steve took a sip of water to take his mind off of it. Herobrine spoke, somewhat concerned. "You could also just go back to sleep. You look exhausted."

"No, the walk will help with all of this." He gestured vaguely to himself as soon as he had swallowed down his first gulp of water.

"Walk?" The hand came off of him.

Steve rubbed his forehead and eyes. "Did I forget to tell you the one thing I was supposed to tell you last night?" Two things. He knew he hadn't said the other.

"Clearly." The voice floated around the room. Herobrine had two states: constant motion or complete standstill. No in between. Looked like this was a constant motion kind of day. Most days were becoming constant motion days.

"Alex found this crazy temple in a jungle a couple of biomes over. She wants to check it out together. She wanted to meet there in the afternoon."

"It is the afternoon"

Steve internally groaned at losing half of the day. "She'll understand why we are late. Probably expected it." Considering she had poisoned him herself. Well not actually. Steve hadn't declined any alcohol. It was his fault. Didn't mean he couldn't be second hand mad for no reason.

"We?"

"Yeah, she invited you too silly." It was her idea. He had been telling her all of the fun adventures that he had been having with the demon. Steve guessed she wanted in on the action.

"Are you going to be okay to walk that whole distance?" Funny how they never thought about their own well beings. They always worried for each other. It's how Alex and himself acted as well. A good sign of friendship he supposed.

"Yeah I feel fine to walk." It was a half lie. He didn't feel fine but he knew he would be okay. He would need to chug a lot more water. He sipped more water now. "We are gonna camp out over there too. We won't do any exploring until tomorrow."

"Shame. Night exploration is always my favorite."

"Some of us require sleep." Steve put his head back down on the table.

"Far too much sleep if you ask me." Steve could hear the smile in Herobrine's voice. At least the demon was in a good mood. "You miss out on so much Stevie."

Stevie. It was a nickname that the demon had been testing out more and more. Just as he called Herobrine, Brine. It sent shivers up his spine every time.

"Yeah well..." he trailed off just not knowing what else to say.

"So we will be leaving soon?" Herobrine saved him without knowing.

"I just have to get clean, dressed, and packed. Do you have anything you want to take?"

"I'm always a quick nether trip away."

"Right." Steve was somewhat jealous of the way the demon could so easily travel across the world. He had asked before if he would ever be allowed to visit the nether. Herobrine did not want that to happen. He said he had never seen a mortal survive longer than a couple of days there. And most only lasted a few hours. He said maybe a visit one day. But they would have to be well prepared.

"Okay. I guess I'll move." Steve finished the water. And stood to go to the sink to get more.

He downed another cup and started on another but stopped, feeling sort of sick from the act. He put the cup down, planning to drink more later. He was still pretty dehydrated.

He looked over at Herobrine who was finishing up the book once more. He noticed the demon was tapping his fingers on the couch. Constant motion.

Without much more conversation he excused himself to go get prepared.

He decided on a cold shower. It would help wake him up. Unfortunately he soon learned it also aggravated his headache. And he just came out feeling lousier.

Once he was dried off and dressed, he just crawled straight back into bed. He just wanted to lie down for a second. And warm up.

He lay there with his head pounding. He wasn't sure for how long. Eventually enough time passed that he realized he should be moving. So he flopped out of the blankets and started getting busy preparing things for the trip.

He placed everything in a big pile on the floor, telling future Steve it was his problem to organize it. Unfortunately, future Steve came faster than expected and soon Steve was just sitting on the floor looking at the stuff blankly.

"Steve." A voice from the door.

"Mm?" He flopped his head to look over. Herobrine was leaning in the doorway. Unclear on how long he had been standing there. Knowing him, it was probably the entire time Steve was packing. Maybe even watched him as he lay in bed.

"Are you still drunk?" The demon chuckled.

"Probably." He didn't feel like he was drunk. Just tired. But he was, indeed, struggling.

"I can just pack that stuff for you."

"You want to be a purse?" He muttered with a slight smile.

"Isn't a purse just a bag?"

"I think it's supposed to be more girly."

"Ah." Herobrine approached. "Because it's very masculine to have another person carry your stuff for you?"

"Please carry my stuff." Steve laughed, falling to the ground, not knowing what or where this conversation was even going.

Herobrine rolled his eyes and began organizing the stuff that Steve had scattered on the floor.

Steve sat up once again with interest. He watched as Herobrine carefully made each item disappear before his very eyes. The way Herobrine carried things always was a wonder to him.

He cleared his throat, striking up a conversation once more. "Can you put anything in your uh-"

"Inventory." Herobrine provided. "That's what they called it anyways. Another perk of immortality. Just came along with the territory."

"How does it work?"

He thought for a second. "The best way I can describe it is like an ender chest...which you've also never seen before." Herobrine scratched at his nose. "It's like a chest that stores things in another plane of existence. Except I can open the chest at any time. Like, I am the chest."

"Weird."

"When aren't I?" He put the last thing away in the other plane of existence. "But yeah. Pretty much anything can go in there. There's a limit to how much can fit there though. Just like a regular chest."

"Could you put me in there?" It was a dumb question but his tired brain throught it sounded good.

"That is a good question." Ah, idiots think alike it seems. "One that I attempted to answer with fish as the test subject. The answer is yes I can put a living thing in there. But when I pull it out, it is no longer living."

"So that's a no."

"Kept the fish fresh though. For days."

"You ate a dead fish that was left sitting in the equivalent of a chest for days?"

"Could always just respawn if I got food poisoning."

"Still."

"Hey, this is science Stevie. Sometimes you gotta take a few risks."

Steve still remained seated on the floor. Staring at Herobrine's shoes. A hand found its way on his head. He looked up.

"You sure you want to go? You really don't look all that great."

"Yeah." Steve looked down again. "Shame you can't put me into your inventory though."

"I could carry you."

"I'm heavy."

Herobrine snorted. "You are NOT heavy."

"Oh yeah? How much can you carry?" He offered up a hand, signaling to the demon to help him up so they could get a move on.

Herobrine's eyes sparkled playfully. In a fluid motion, the demon scooped up Steve off the floor like he weighed absolutely nothing. Herobrine was warm, like he always was. He smirked down at the panicked face of the miner. "See? Easy."

Herobrine dropped one hand softly so that Steve's feet touched the floor. Steve had stopped breathing. He almost fell forward. Thankfully a strong hand made sure he didn't fall flat on his face.

"Thanks" He was grateful his mouth still worked. His brain had shut down. Maybe he WAS still drunk.

Herobrine nodded and started walking out of the room, continuing the conversation like that whole display hadn't even happened. "I've never weighed how much I can actually carry. We should run an experiment when we get back."

Steve shook himself mentally. And then laughed at the image that appeared in his mind afterwards. "Why do I feel like that can only lead to you being crushed beneath a large rock?"

"Ah, you see I won't because I'm so strong." It made Steve very happy to hear Herobrine joke around so casually and let his guard down.

Steve looked one more time back at his bed, sorta wishing he could go back to sleep. The headache was a dull ache now but it was still rather annoying.

He quickly exited the room, fearing he would not want to leave it. And followed Brine out of the house. He noticed that his satchel had been cleaned up and hung neatly on its hook where it should be.

He didn't say anything about it, just grabbed it before shutting the door behind him. He gave Herobrine's back a small smile. Grateful for the gesture.

"So where are we off to?" Herobrine whisked around. He was definitely in a good mood. Feet practically floating across the grass.

"Oh. Right. Directions." Steve huffed. Despite having a great memory for memorizing places he had been. New places were a mystery to him. He had not been to the jungle Alex had discussed with him before. It's like his brain just couldn't process where to go unless he had already traveled there.

"A general area?" Herobrine suggested.

"Second closest jungle to us." Steve provided. They had looked it up on a map last night before drinking. He probably should have asked Alex to borrow the map.

"I can at least get us in range of jungle trees and then teleport around once we get there. Shouldn't be that hard to find a temple." He started off to the right of the house. Away from the direction of the town. Which seemed to be the correct direction if memory served him well.

Steve adjusted the satchel on his shoulder to a more comfortable position before following suit. "I'm surprised we haven't explored any jungles before together."

"I'm not a big fan of the jungle." Herobrine sneered. "Feels too crowded with all that flammable foliage. And faaar too many animals."

Steve chuckled. "Would you have preferred an underwater temple?"

"You know I wouldn't." Herobrine shuttered. "Those guardians make such disturbing noises. It's hard on the ears."

"Not the mining fatigue?"

Herobrine scoffed. "I've had worse." Steve already knew that he had grown immune to the effects as, just like with wither skeletons or cave spiders, his body had taken enough damage from them that he had practically grown immune. He was surprised the demon hadn't started eating puffer fish for every meal after the whole cult incident.

He was also surprised he hadn't tried the same thing with the phantom barbs. Or maybe he had been. It was hard to tell. He trusted Herobrine, but worried.

"So guess what?" Herobrine spoke up as Steve had zoned out.

"What?"

"I fought four phantoms last night." Speak of the devil.

He said it like it was a good thing. Steve just thought back to the first night those things had appeared. A chill found its way up his spine, despite the heat from the afternoon sun. Just one slip up had made him go unconscious. And yet Herobrine was out here fighting multiple willingly. He often forgot just how terrifying his friend was.

"Oh." Was the best response his tired brain could offer. He didn't really know what else to say to that.

"None of them landed a single blow on me! I've finally gotten their attack pattern down."

"Cool." 'Means you can stop fighting them now.' He wanted to say, but didn't. He understood why Herobrine had to keep fighting. It kept his skills sharp. It was the same reason Steve didn't like to rely on heavy armor. In this world, if you let your guard down too long a mob would take you. In Herobrine's world, much worse things than mobs would take you.

"It'll only take a few more fights and word of mouth amongst the mobs to get them to completely submit."

"Ah." Steve grimaced. An internal struggle in his own mind. He didn't exactly want to reward that kind of thinking.

"The key was they attacked in a slower arch than you would think. I was hitting too early or too late and-"

His brain automatically began tuning the demon out. He didn't want to but he was powerless against the headache that would just not quit. He was still rather dehydrated.

"Overworld to Steve."

"Hm?" His head jerked up. He hadn't realized he had been asked something. "What?"

"I said, we could start getting in some training sessions to help you deal with them. In case of emergencies." The demon was looking at him, not at where he was going. The graceful ex god wouldn't trip.

"Oh. Sorry." Steve looked down at the ground. "I'm still sorta out of it."

"Would it be better if we walked in silence?" Herobrine offered, rather politely. Steve was proud of that.

Yes. "No".

"Alright." Herobrine said it like he didn't believe Steve. He kept looking at him.

"But...I guess it would be alright to fight the phantoms." The thought exhausted and excited him at the same time. He didn't want to get hurt but the call to adventure deep within him wouldn't be able to resist.

"We'll work our way up to it, don't worry." Herobrine felt the hesitation. "I still wish I could convince you to use an axe."

"It's too heavy."

"You're stronger than you think."

"You're strong. Why don't you use one?" Steve argued.

"Do you want the real reason or do you want me to make up something that isn't disturbing?"

"Make one up and then give me the real one."

"They don't match my aesthetic and they really don't cut clean enough. Sure they can hack chunks of skin off but they can't slice through limbs cleanly like I like."

"Swords?"

"You know I don't dodge enough. Better to have the range."

"Shield?"

"Now you are mocking me."

"Bow and arrow?" Steve added: "I don't think I've seen you use one too often."

"Again...the disgusting answer is that I don't like how easy arrows are. Feels like I get cheated out of a fight. The better answer is they are a lot less flexible in battle. You have to be very long range and stick to long range. Crossbows are a bit quicker and more accurate but they're very clunky to fight with. I much prefer the smoother, up close weapons."

"How's your shot?"

Herobrine smiled slightly. He produced a bow and arrow from thin air. He then reached over to Steve's satchel and grabbed an apple that had been placed inside. Something he must have packed from Steve's food reserves. Surprising, as the demon had a personal vendetta against the fruit. Maybe a step in the right direction?

Herobrine then flung the apple into the blue sky ahead of them. In a fluid motion, he stopped walking, adjusted his stance, brought back the string with three fingers, two placed under the arrow's delicate feathers, and one just ghosting the top, he drug his thumb against the corner of his mouth, lips faintly touching the string. Aimed and fired.

The arrow caught fire. Of course. Everything Brine owned was enchanted. It shot through the sky like it had been aimed from a crossbow instead.

Herobrine teleported ahead. The arrow hit the apple dead center, fire going out with a hiss, and both dropped from the sky. Herobrine swiped at the shaft of the arrow before it could hit the ground.

At this point, Steve had caught up to him. Herobrine offered him the arrow and the apple. "'S alright."

"Show off." Steve muttered with a smile, accepting the arrow and apple. He bit off a piece of the apple. All food was better on a stick. And he hadn't eaten today.

Herobrine shrugged. "Practice." He then grabbed Steve's shoulder, gently pushing him over a bit, out of the way of a rock that Steve would have definitely tripped over as he was now invested in the apple.

"Thanks." He said, mouth full.

"Walking disaster." Herobrine shook his head. "I don't understand how you survive."

"Not my fault rocks are out to get me." Steve argued. He noticed Herobrine's eyes settle on his previously injured hand, winced, and looked ahead.

He finished off the apple quickly. He threw the core to the ground and offered the arrow back to Herobrine. The demon shook his head. "Throw it in the air. It's infinity. It'll disappear."

Steve launched the arrow forward with all his strength, just for fun. As soon as it touched the ground again, the arrow disappeared from existence in a small gray poof. "Cool."

"I can do it easily for your bow."

"I don't need all that." He nudged the bow that was always strapped to his satchel. It was a tinier, thinner, and lighter one, easy to travel with. "Mine works fine as is. Plus usually I can reuse or repair the arrows."

"Saves time not having to slaughter chickens."

Steve blinked. "I don't-...I usually just take some when I clip their wings."

"Oh, I guess that works too." As if he hadn't considered it.

Steve then put his hand out to the horizon, measuring the distance from the sun to the ground. His body was beginning to ache from the walk. "We're losing light pretty fast."

"Who's fault is that?" Herobrine chuckled, he turned, walking backwards and showed off sharp teeth. "Besides, there's no need to be afraid of the dark with me around. I'm the scariest thing here."

"I don't know, you may be losing your touch. I'm not scared at all."

"You should be."

"I'm just saying it would be a lot more efficient to go through the Nether is all."

"You almost just tripped on a rock." Herobrine, meanwhile, jumped up onto a rock in the path backwards without looking. "And you want to go through the Nether?"

"You can just make sure I don't die."

"That's a full time job regularly." Herobrine looked him up and down once more. "But if you're tired I can always teleport us. It's actually much faster than nether travel."

The pounding in his head hit harder at the thought of teleporting. He gripped his forehead, trying to make it look like he was rubbing sweat off. "No that's okay."

"You want to take a break?" Herobrine wasn't buying it. Dammit. "I can go scout up ahead before we lose the sun."

"That's not a bad idea actually." Steve sighed out, slowing his walk. Herobrine would be able to find a more direct path.

"Okay." Herobrine turned his head towards the horizon. "Don't trip over any more rocks while I'm gone."

"No promises."

And with that the demon was out of sight.

Steve took the opportunity to pretty much collapse onto the ground. Sitting upright still but crouched over. He was tired of keeping up the charade that he was okay. He wanted to go back to sleep. The walk had not helped like he thought it had.

Sucking it up, he unscrewed the cap off of his canteen and chugged as much water as his stomach would hold.

He gasped, sucking in air afterwards. That had helped. And the cool air combined with the sitting was helping more. He could keep up the lie until he fell asleep and then really got some healing in. He was never going to promise to go on adventure after a night of heavy drinking ever again.

By the time Herobrine returned, Steve had already collected himself, standing up and walking about a mile more. Herobrine would easily find him in the field so he was comfortable with going onward.

"Did you find it?" Steve asked as the demon teleported in front of him.

Herobrine's lip curled up in a sneer. "Yeah." He didn't look or sound too excited about it.

"What's with the face?" Steve questioned. "Not happy about seeing Alex? I thought you were getting along better now."

"It's...This doesn't seem like any ordinary jungle temple" Herobrine turned to walk ahead of Steve, leading the way to the right somewhat. Back facing the miner so Steve couldn't get a good read on him.

"How so?" He asked for clarification.

"It's a lot larger than any I've seen." They were headed towards a wooded area. The sun left long shadows in front of them. "It's suspicious."

"I guess that's why we're exploring it?" Steve shrugged.

"I don't trust anything out of the ordinary." Herobrine's voice was rough. But then he shrugged forward one shoulder, tilting his head. "...Other than you of course." he corrected.

"It's rare to find something you aren't familiar with. Could be fun."

"Could be dangerous." Herobrine stressed.

"Since when are adventures safe?" Steve was sick of that conversation. And definitely not in the mood to deal with it today.

"I know. I'm just...be careful is all. I'll leave it at that."

"Only if you are careful too."

"Deal."

"Who's gonna worry about Alex being careful?"

Herobrine chuckled, he turned, eyes glowing bright against the now darkening woods. "You're right. She may perish then I'd have you all to myself. Tragic really."

"Be nice." Steve scolded.

"I'm only joking."

They were quiet then as they made their way through ever thickening woods.

Steve cherished the sounds of the birds chirping and the way their feet crunched along leaves. The forest was alive with energy. It made him feel even better.

Herobrine seemed to pick up on this energy. A slight glance backward and a smile before realizing Steve was looking at him and then head thrust forward in concentration.

Steve smiled at the demon's back. "See? I knew a walk would do us some good."

"Do you some good." Despite looking calmer than he had this morning even. "I was already good."

"Uh huh."

"We should just explore forests." The demon's head swung as he took in the scenery. "They're way better than jungles."

"That would be hiking. Not exploring."

"Why not both?"

"We'll do it some other time." Steve promised. "I know a good forest."

"Bet I could find us one even better."

"You're on."

It was at this point the dense trees were beginning to bleed into a jungle biome. The forest grew darker as the dense leaves blocked out sunlight. The humidity seemed to shift on cool breezes. Vines hung in their path. And the forest sang out around them. Full of animals and vegetation.

Herobrine's palm opened and he allowed a very small fire to appear to help Steve see where he was going. Even though the sun had not set, the forest floor was almost as dark as a cave.

A few courageous mobs approached the duo as they roamed the darker area. But none dared get too close. Steve didn't blame them. In the darkness, Herobrine thrived. His white eyes glowed threateningly. A murderous smirk aimed at a few skeletons that had approached. They moved away rapidly, bones clanking.

Steve stuck his tongue out at them.

As they walked further into the jungle, neither of them talked. Steve was very focused on not trippin over large, slippery roots. But also he tried not to get caught up in the vines that hung down from the large trees. Brine was right, jungles did kinda suck.

He was so focused that he hadn't realized Brine had stopped in front of him. He glanced up briefly, making sure not to hit a vine, saw Brine instead, and tried to stop. But his foot slipped on the wet leaves below his feet. He slid forward, tumbling into Herobrine. "WOAH!"

The demon, having a much better reaction time, quickly extinguished the fire and turned. He caught Steve's arms. His stance was strong, even with the slippery terrain.

Steve peaked up. Herobrine looked down. "Thanks." "Don't mention it." Both their eyes darted away.

"We are going to have to teleport." The demon righted Steve easily, with a small motion of his arm.

"Why?"

"Well...it's either that or climb." Herobrine's flame returned, this time stronger, and Steve's eyes grew wide.

In front of them stood a massive structure hidden beneath years of plant growth. It was made entirely out of stone, clearly brought there and carved by hand. He couldn't even see the top as it appeared out over the lowest trees. He's immediate instinct was to look at the foundation. Part of the rock was beginning to errode but not enough to make the structure anywhere near unsafe. But it looked as if there had been symbols and gems pushed deep into the stone. Those had faded now. Despite this, the temple was beautiful.

"Woah." Steve breathed out.

Herobrine remained silent. Tense. Nevertheless, he offered over a hand to teleport them up.

Steve accepted with some hesitation. He wasn't looking forward to teleporting, but knew he didn't have the strength to climb up the massive structure.

The fire in his other hand went out as soon as Steve grabbed hold of the outstretched one. The flames fluttered around his form slightly, like butterflies disappearing in the vegetation.

The demon's eyes seemed to spark and Steve was thrust closer. Herobrine placed Steve's arm around his neck. Holding him just as he would if he were injured. A hand found its way around his waist.

"Hold on tight. I've got to hop on some branches." Herobrine spoke in his ear, evenly.

Steve clung to Herobrine's neck and in an instant his breath was torn from him. They dropped a couple of inches and hit what Steve assumed to be a tree trunk (he wasn't sure, his eyes were closed). Herobrine could only teleport to surfaces he saw, so he would have to hit the trunk of the trees and slide down to the branches. This happened twice more before they hit stone.

The miner tentatively opened his eyes as Herobrine's warm body moved away from him.

He was too awed to think of his headache for once today.

It was a beautiful sight. The temple was situated just under the tree line of some particularly tall trees. Meaning it was impossible to see it if you had just been looking out across the top of the jungle. But inside the temple, you could easily see through the branches and vines.

The sun was setting, turning the green trees a glowing shade of yellow. A blue and gold and a hyacinth macaw flew together, low across the tree line. Cool air wafted up, and Steve could smell the delicious scent of earth tones.

"Are you okay?" Herobrine asked after Steve stood there for a while.

"Yeah, perfect actually." Steve smiled at him. "Just admiring the view."

Herobrine gave him a quick smile back, but it didn't stay long. Steve felt his heart sink. Something was up. "Still worried about the temple?" He asked.

Herobrine didn't reply back.

"HEY! Y'all out there?" A voice from inside the temple called causing Steve to jump slightly. Herobrine didn't budge. It was Alex.

Choosing to ignore Herobrine's strange behavior for now...(it seemed harmless enough, just a casual worry) he turned to go through the doorway that was located at the top of the structure.

The temple top floor looked like any ordinary temple top floor. Just a bare room with a staircase leading down to lower levels in the middle. Although this top floor was rather large.

"Good evening gentleman." Alex greeted the two with a wide smile. She was sitting on a cut stump by a campfire which looked like it had been burning for quite some time. Her tent was pitched on one side of the room pretty close to the fire, and the entrance to the staircase leading down to the actual temple had already been blocked off with some wooden planks, cut fresh from the jungle trees. It would provide protection from any rouge mobs that wandered the temple while they slept. It was something Steve and Alex always did on their adventures. With Herobrine around, Steve hadn't had to in a while. But he supposed it was a good idea just in case of emergencies. Plus it kept down on the drafts that may come up from the temple underground. They would rip up the planks when they went exploring tomorrow.

"Hey Alex." Steve gave a short wave. Herobrine stood behind him, somewhat awkwardly, and did not speak. He wasn't sure why the sudden lack of confidence. Usually he was brash and aggressive around others. ESPECIALLY around Alex. Steve chalked it up to the demon's cautious attitude towards the temple.

"Y'all sure cut it close with the sun huh? Is this becoming a habit?"

"Your fault really." Steve joked back. Instantly coming to take a seat by the fire. Herobrine followed close behind him, standing above him and not sitting. "Poisoning me like that."

"No one forced poison down your throat. Except you." She then raised an eyebrow and pointed up at the demon nonchalantly in a way only Steve would spot.

Steve shrugged back.

"Hey, tall dark and depressing, what's going on with you?" Alex decided to interfere. Steve snuck a look behind him to gauge the demon's reaction. Just in case.

Herobrine blinked, looking at Alex as if he realized for the first time she was talking. But the demon didn't miss a beat. "Nothing more than usual, mortal." He at least seemed to snap out of whatever mood he was in. "Interesting place you've dug up."

"I know right! From my calculation it's at least four levels. I've never seen-"

"It has six. And some cave systems." Herobrine interrupted.

"Been here before?" Alex questioned back.

"No. You can just tell from the outside structure and the topography of the land." Herobrine went back to looking around the room. He added with a grumble. "Normal temples only have two or three."

"Cool. You're a buzzkill with information good for you." Alex threw a stick on the fire.

Herobrine motioned to the wooden planks. "Did anything seem out of the ordinary down there?"

"I didn't look too long. It's dark down there. Could have been mobs." She looked at Steve. "And I don't have a magical protection from mob attacks."

That sent Herobrine in a small pace. To Alex it would probably look like he was just fiddling around. Why was he so worried?

Ugh. Steve's head pounded. He should probably get set up to sleep. Maybe the movement would help Brine as well.

"Help me set things up, Herobrine." Steve stood up and dragged the pacing demon away.

He put both of them to work quickly. Herobrine laid out the supplies around them.

They were both quiet as they set up the tent. Alex hummed a similar tune to Steve's from last night while the fire crackled away.

Steve cleared his throat after a while and spoke in a low voice. "Any particular reason you're..." he trailed off. Not sure what to say. Panicking? Upset? Traumatized?

Herobrine lulled his head back with a sigh. He then pointed to the walls of the room.

Steve took a hard look. It was difficult with the shadows that the fire cast. But eventually with enough concentration...

"Oh." Steve bit his cheek.

The stone had carvings in it. These were not as worn away as the outside ones since they were protected from the elements. There was a jungle scene. The top of the temple walls looked like clouds. Squiggly lines traveled down from them, interwinding with the rest of the wall. In the middle and the bottom, it looked like branches and vines, like jungle trees. But there were also apples hanging from a few of the branches.

"It's probably nothing." Herobrine didn't sound like he believed himself. "But I'm sure it's the reason I haven't explored this place before. Every inch of me is telling me to run. Before we got in here even."

"You should have mentioned it." Steve stopped tying down the tent. "We don't have to explore this place."

"But that's just it...we do!" Herobrine took the rope from Steve's hands and tied it down easily. "My instincts are bad. Especially my old instincts. Yours are good. And if you want to go explore it so do I."

"I don't always know what's best for us- you. What's best for you." Steve stuttered.

Herobrine looked him dead in the eyes. "You've got a perfect track record so far. I'm willing to bet on those odds." His eyes then went from troubled to playful. "Besides. Nothing can happen to me. So even on the off chance you get it wrong there's no real stakes."

There were stakes. Herobrine could slip. And he was doing so well lately. He didn't want-

"Hey Steven. You want any cake? I bought some on my way over here." Alex called from the fire. "The nether beast can have some too if he wants."

Herobrine rolled his eyes. "Go on. I'll finish up here."

Steve used Herobrine's shoulder to launch himself up off his knees. He gave the demon a pat before heading over to go hang out with Alex. He knew Herobrine well enough to know he wouldn't want to eat anything at this time.

Steve made his way around the room to Alex. Eyeing the planked up hole wearilly.

He sat straight down next to her. Well. He sorta flopped down completely with a large sigh.

"Trouble in paradise?" Alex whispered to him with a sneer.

Steve winced. He knew the demon could hear. He had better hearing than either of them. While Steve and Herobrine's quiet conversation would have been muffled by the jungle sounds outside and fire inside to Alex, any conversation in the room would be caught by Herobrine. The miner glared up at Alex telling her to stop with his expression. She shrugged, pouting slightly.

"The only problem here is me still being tired from last night." Steve huffed out.

"Which was, again, your own damn fault."

"Yes. Now feed me cake."

Alex laughed and set down a small parcel wrapped in a clean towel beside him. Steve instantly grabbed it and shoved it in his face without getting up.

"You're a slob." Alex flicked a very twig at him.

"No you." He said through a mouthful of delicious delicious cake.

Though he did sit up to finish the last couple of crumbs that were left in the towel. He whipped off his mouth quickly as Herobrine approached to join them by the fire.

The demon sat on the other side of them. One knee in the air and the other leg sprawled out to the side. He leaned against the upright knee.

The fire crackled in the silence.

"Feels like we should be telling spooky stories or something." Alex chuckled after the last bite of her cake.

Herobrine grinned wide. "I can arrange that."

"She means made up stories Brine." Steve clarified. "Not tragic backstories."

"Ah." He scratched at his goatee. "I don't know what constitutes as anything 'spookier'."

Steve didn't really want to hear any stories that Brine would consider spooky.

The silence continued.

"Well, as fun as this is. I think we should call it an early night huh?" Alex stood up with a stretch. "We will want to get to exploring as early as possible."

"Seconded." Steve was more than ready to curl up and go to sleep. He stood up slowly, crouched over. "We doing a wedge door too?"

"Yes please." Alex turned to her side where she had placed another large plank of wood. She had also carved out two wedges.

"What is a wedge door?" Herobrine asked. "I've never heard of such a thing."

"It's for when you don't have time to make an actual door to keep out the mobs." Steve explained, going to help Alex set it up at the entrance to the temple from the outside.

"You place a chunk of wood in the doorway and wedge it in with the two wedges. It's pretty sturdy for a temporary door." Alex finished explaining for Steve.

It only took them a few seconds to secure the door. They had done this many times.

"You mind putting out the flames Brine?" They wouldn't want a rogue spark to light up some of the vines that protruded from crack in the room.

"Keep some ashes if you can." Alex said as she made her way to her tent. "I know you say that Herobrine can keep away the mobs but..."

"Understood." Herobrine knew what she meant. He knew random anxiety better than any of them. A fear of the dark was a more common one in this world. It was actually considered unusual that Steve did not have that fear.

Alex gave him a grateful nod before disappearing into her tent.

"You coming to bed?" Steve asked, scratching the back of his head, hopeful.

"I am not tired yet." Herobrine answered, voice even, staring into the flames next to him. "I will stay up a bit longer."

"Okay." Steve didn't press, but he did try a bit too hard to make his voice sound disappointed. Herobrine was going to go fight the phantoms. But Steve was really too tired to argue. Brine would be fine. Instead he yawned and beelined it over to the tent Brine had finished setting up.

Steve lay down in the tent, only bothering to take off his shoes before shoving himself under the blankets. His tired body was grateful to finally have some rest.

Even though he was exhausted, sleep eluded him. He was listening. To the crackling of fire outside the tent. It didn't take long before he heard the door being opened very slightly. Probably just enough to get a small glance outside. And then a poof. Brine had run off.

He lay in a daze. Slipping in and out of sleep at any noise. A bat down in a temple. The very distant sound of a mob walking through the forest.

He didn't know how much time had passed before Herobdrine came back. He jolted awake at the sound of teleportation.

Noiselessly, the demon entered the tent and sat down on the other side of Steve. He would have never even known Brine was there if the very slight change in temperature didn't give away his position.

Steve snuck a glance. The demon looked away.

"Didn't mean to wake you." He talked in a low, even voice. "Go back to sleep."

"You just gonna watch me sleep?" Steve whispered back in question. It was something they agreed upon not doing. Herobrine got bored at night. Steve had been creeped out by it at first. Not because of who it was. It was just alarming to have anyone stand over you while you sleep. And even though he was comfortable now, removing the rule would have to mean admitting that he was okay with it now. And Herobrine would ask what changed? And Steve wouldn't know what to tell him. Because it was very unusual to want to have someone watch over you while you sleep. Probably something he shouldn't want.

"Mmm." Neither a confirmation or a denial.

"You get hurt?" The words slipped out. As they always did.

"They can't touch me anymore." Herobrine provided. His eyes went dark. "A few of them even retreated before it got fun."

Steve swallowed at the word 'fun'.

But Brine was back now. That was all that mattered.

He wanted to tell the demon to go wait outside if he wasn't going to sleep. But he actually wanted Herobrine to stay closer. Compromise. His tired brain decided to say screw all the thinking and just fully pass out.

Steve dreamed of fire. And blood. And phantoms.

The miner awoke again in a jolt. He was disoriented at first. Not knowing where he was. But then he remembered with a sigh. The jungle was already awake. Birds called out. Bugs whirred. Leaves rustled.

His demon was gone. Not surprising as he could never sit still long. He heard muttering outside the tent.

He didn't bother changing clothes. He would only get dirtier exploring the temple today. So he just threw on his shoes and walked out of the tent. He blinked hard at the sunlight filtering in.

The impromptu door was open, letting in a pleasant breeze. It pulled at the flames on the bonfire that Herobrine and Alex sat beside. Alex was eating something for breakfast. It looked like fish. Her tent had already been taken down and collected neatly in a backpack on her back. Herobrine was talking to her in a low enough voice that Steve could not hear above the crackle of the flames. He stopped as the miner approached.

An easy smile from both of them. They had looked rather uncomfortable being together alone. Better than before, he supposed. But it would still take some time to get them to completely trust each other.

"Morning." Steve sat beside the fire himself, on the other side of the two.

"Morning." Alex tossed him something wrapped in a leaf. It landed neatly in his lap. The smell made his stomach growl, definitely fresh cooked fish. "Went out and caught that this morning. Eat up. Put some meat on those bones. You're starting to look more like lanky mc skeleton over here."

"Are you feeling better today?" Herobrine asked, ignoring the jab from Alex.

He nodded his head and instantly dug into the fish. Which seemed enough to make Herobrine stop looking at him like he was going to break. He really did feel good. His headache was gone and he was decently well rested. The warm food in his belly was waking him up as well.

Herobrine, meanwhile, decided to pack up all of Steve's stuff for them. He looked a little less antsy than yesterday. Maybe since nothing went wrong during the night he was more comfortable. He wondered what Alex and him were talking about. He'd have to ask her much later when they were alone. He added it to a mental list to remind himself.

"Want to help me rip up the wooden planks so we can get this adventure rolling?" Alex asked as he finished up the rest of the fish.

Steve nodded and tossed his leaf and bones into the fire. He stood and followed her to the entrance.

Alex pulled out a wooden axe that she must have carved while waiting for them to meet up yesterday. It looked to be made of the same wood as the jungle planks. He hadn't packed an axe, but he did have his trusty iron pickaxe. He used it like a crowbar, slamming it into the spaces in between the wood and pushed it forward to leverage the wood up.

Herobrine was done packing by the time Alex and Steve had the jungle temple stairs exposed. The fire behind them blew out while Herobrine's hand lit up. All three stood together, staring down the dark hole. ( )

"Okay" Alex took out a sword and gestured with a slight bow to Herobrine. "After you Mr. Invincible."

Herobrine didn't budge. The fire in his hand sparked. "...There's no mobs down there."

"Don't you like...repel mobs?" Alex asked, confused.

"Yes but not like this. There should at least be a couple and...I-I can't hear any..." The demon shook his head. "It's strange."

"Okay. This is sounding more and more like a bad idea." Steve took a step back away from the stairs.

"N-no. It's fine." Herobrine took a step forward. "I bet they just don't have good access into the temple. Or the temple walls might be thicker than I'm used to and I'm just not picking up on the usual noise."

"Yeah Steve, it's fine." Alex put her sword on top of Herobrine's fire and the sword lit up. The iron glew a faint purple from the enchant. A few flames licked the steel. An easy makeshift torch that kept her hands free.

Steve meanwhile, brought out his shield and a torch. Herobrine lit it for him without him even having to ask. Then the demon let the fire die out in his hand. They had more than enough light and Brine had night vision.

Herobrine took the initiative and descended the stairs at a good pace. Steve hadn't realized just how long the staircase was until he couldn't see Brine anymore.

"Shall we?" Alex followed. And Steve soon after, taking one last look at the daylight filtering in through the jungle.

They caught up to the demon easily and fell into a loose formation. The burning torch and their footsteps echoed throughout the room. Well...not Brine's footsteps. Just Steve and Alex's.

The walls were covered in more drawings and inscriptions. It was written in an old language that Steve didn't recognize.

"Wonder what all these inscriptions are saying." Steve mumbled out.

Alex stopped to look at one. She hummed and brushed her fingers over the carved stone. "I can just make out a few words from my experiences with lower level enchantments." She pointed to one. "Like the word 'bane'."

Steve looked at Herobrine who had stopped as well, waiting for them. "Can you read any of this?"

"Oh yeah." Herobrine climbed back up to join them. "All of them actually."

"Really?" Alex backed up so he could get a good look.

Herobrine squinted his eyes at the words. "It's not too terribly interesting." He scoffed. "Most of them seem to be spells meant to keep things like me out."

"Spells?" Steve blinked up at the plethora of words all around them.

"Phrases they believed would protect the temple from mobs. Like the one Alex pointed out." Herobrine produced his scythe and dragged it across the wall lightly as he read. "'Call a plea out to the sun. The lightning, the thunder, the wind, and the rain. To protect us from the night's bane. Spawns of darkness. Creatures of evil. Let nothing set foot. Take root. Make the foul run.'"

Steve and Alex stood. The torch hissed.

"It's sorta...pretty." Alex finally hummed. "In a way."

"I guess." Herobrine's scythe was put away and he turned down the stairs. "You ask me, it's tacky even for the time period. And all completely pointless. Words can't stop mobs."

Steve could at least recognize the few pictures that were carved into the wall. There were a lot of enderman. "It might be working if there are no mobs like you said."

"Don't be ridiculous." A darker tone. "It doesn't work like that."

Soon they came to the end of the staircase. A dark room met them.

"We have to be careful of traps." Herobrine warned before entering the room. "I really am not in the mood to explode today."

"Always am, chief." Alex jabbed a thumb over at Steve. "Him, not so much."

"Isn't that the understatement of the century." Herobrine laughed back.

"Hey!" Steve protested. But he didn't mind it. He was always glad when they got along. Even if that meant jokes at his expense. He knew they didn't mean it.

The stairs led directly down into a room. Which was strange as it was a different layout than all of them were used to with temples. It was a completely empty room. There were no vines down here. The darkness did not make it easy for anything to grow. The only thing in the room was a large pedestal in the middle, coming out from the floor, and what looked like a stone door on the other side. It was closed. There were a few runes carved on the wall with different gems sunk in them.

"Don't see any obvious signs of dynamite triggers or arrows." Herobrine muttered. "I don't think there's any treasure to be had here though."

Steve approached the large pedestal in the middle of the room cautiously. Gravitating naturally to the only thing in the room. There was a set of symbols and what looked like buttons next to them.

"What does this say Brine?" He asked the demon who was pacing around the room, giving a good look at everything.

"Hmmm." Herobrine leaned over his shoulder to read. "Looks like it's describing some sort of puzzle."

"A puzzle?" Alex asked. "Like we have to solve something to get the door to open?"

"Seems like." Herobrine whisked back, staring at the ground now.

"Okay...well we should see if these symbols appear anywhere else in the-" Steve began, thinking through what the puzzle could be. Both him and Alex had started moving to go look.

But he was cut off as Herobrine spoke. "Alex. Don't move."

Her head came up in alarm. But she did as she was told and stopped moving.

Herobrine gestured. "Couple of steps over to the left, Stevie." Before turning to go look at the door.

Alex snorted when Herobrine was not paying attention and looked at Steve with the biggest smile on her face. She mouthed 'Stevie'.

He glared daggers back at her. His entire expression saying 'don't you dare'. He then calmly took a few steps to the left.

Herobrine checked back on him and nodded. "Good don't move from that spot. Or you'll probably die cool okay, let's do this!"

"Wait wha-" Both Alex and Steve tried to protest but couldn't get too many words in before Herobrine ran back to the center of the room, pivoted, and then ran as fast as he could towards the door. He threw his shoulder out, ramming the door with all his strength.

The door cracked and crumbled as Herobrine threw himself at it. It completely fell to the ground with a thud. The demon went along with it, into the other room.

"Hero-" Steve was calling, somewhat worried but just then the room began to shake. The pedestal in the middle of the room let out a tone that sounded negative.

"Don't move!" A voice from the other room.

All of a sudden, the floor around them began to cave in. Shifting like sand...or.

"Oh gross!" Alex hissed out, removing an additional sword from her belt. The floor hissed back.

Most of the stone in the room had turned into a sea of silverfish.

Steve noticed now that he and Alex were standing on andesite blocks. The silverfish wouldn't be able to break through its rough surface like the stone that had previously been there. There were a few other places in the room where andesite was mixed in, untouched by the mobs.

He realized that the entire area around the door had caved in. If they had attempted to open the door with a pick axe or something, they would have fallen in a pool of silverfish and had their skin gnawed off by thousands of tiny teeth.

"Ah would you look at that. I solved the puzzle." Herobrine emerged from the other room, covered in dust. He brushed himself off and shook his head to get the rock flakes out of his hair. He jumped down into the hole the silverfish had dug, leaning against the wall, looking rather proud of himself. The silverfish scurried around him, but none got close enough to touch him.

"I wouldn't call this solved!" Alex's voice was high. She swiped at a silverfish that got too close for comfort. Steve was just focusing on not falling off his little pedestal.

"Pssh, they won't hurt you." Herobrine demonstrated by walking forward. The small mobs cowered as he approached, schooling around him to avoid even getting close.

"They might not attack you, but they seem pretty eager to attack us." Steve had to agree with Alex on this one. He had heard too many tales of people instantly turning into skeletons from underestimating silverfish.

"Nah, they're harmless when I'm around. Super easy to control." Herobrine had made his way over to Steve's small refuge. The demon swiped up a silverfish, letting it crawl on his arm and onto his shoulder as if he had a parrot there and not a bloodthirsty creature.

This was enough proof for Steve to cautiously jump down next to Herobrine. The mobs also avoided his feet as well. Cool.

Steve reached up to pet the silverfish sitting on Herobrine's shoulder. "Ew." He giggled. It was extremely hairy but it didn't feel like hair.

"Yeah ew." Alex agreed, hesitantly getting off her patch of andesite. She kept both of her swords out and ready just in case. "But I guess it's more effective than solving the actual puzzle."

"In my experience most puzzles are stupid and can be avoided." Herobrine explained as the trio walked towards the exit. "We probably had to find the correct pattern to push buttons in. Snore."

Steve and Alex quickly climbed up the ledge to be away from the hissing mess below them. Herobrine held back a bit. He grabbed the one stuck to his shoulder. "What do you think?" Brine looked down at the hundreds of tiny mobs scurrying on the ground. "Kill em or let em go?"

"Let them go." "Kill them!" Steve and Alex said at the same time.

"Two votes for death, sorry worms." Herobrine's hands caught fire.

"Noooo!" Steve fussed. They weren't harming anyone here clearly. No need for the death sentence.

"Steve brings up a good point." Herobrine looked at Alex. She shrugged, just wanting to move on. She was after treasure. There was clearly no treasure in this room.

Herobrine threw the one in his hand to the ground and stomped his foot, just missing slightly. "Now get the Nether out of here before I change my mind, you damn parasites!"

The mobs did as he commanded, digging into the walls in the side. Probably from where they had been living before. Steve had heard that their tunnels could go on for miles. And could be both devastating and helpful to crops. Strange little mobs.

"And that's that." Herobrine wiped his hands together. "Wonder what's next."

"So obviously this isn't your run of the mill jungle temple huh?" Alex asked as they all walked through the doorway. On the other side of the doorway was a spiral staircase leading down. They made their way down the stairs, still being careful of traps just in case.

"No it's super weird. Feels weird. Is laid out weird. Weird traps." Herobrine led the charge. Already demonstrating he had a good eye for traps.

"Weird." Steve added.

"Exactly." Herobrine snapped a finger.

This hallway had no carvings. But it was made of different stone. Probably to keep the silverfish from destroying it.

"If you couldn't hear the silverfish how did you know they were going to be there?" Alex spoke up when they were a few feet down.

"You can tell in the way the stone looks that silverfish are there or have been there. It was weird they aren't making any noise. I couldn't even sense them. But..."

"What?" Steve asked, concerned that Herobrine had winced and trailed off.

"There's like this...constant buzzing noise." Herobrine rubbed at his forehead. "Might have something to do with it."

"Buzzing noise?" Alex and Steve asked. They didn't hear anything.

"Yeah." Herobrine closed his eyes for a second, listening. "And it's getting louder the further we go down."

"Comforting." Steve frowned.

The stairway finally opened up into an open room with three chests sitting in it. Just three chests. Nothing else.

"That doesn't look suspicious at all." Alex hesitated to enter the room.

Herobrine teleported into the middle of it and did a few sweeps. "It's surprisingly clean. Just don't touch the chests yet before I can examine them."

"There's no door or stairway in here." Steve noticed as he stepped in. "Does that mean this is it?"

"No, they wouldn't put all the valuable stuff up here and leave it at that..." Alex noted.

"Meaning this isn't the real treasure?" Steve followed that logic.

"Right." Herobrine confirmed. "They're protecting something more. The temple is far too large for this to be it. This is just a deterrence to keep people out of the real treasure. The first room served to kill us. This room serves to distract us. To make us go away. It also feeds off the first one. Makes it seem like they were protecting this."

"We can uh...still take this treasure though right?" Alex put her other sword away, feeling a bit more calm as it looked like nothing was coming to attack them at the moment.

"Oh for sure." Herobrine walked around the room, examining the three chests. "That one is rigged to blow, that one is clean, that one looks like the mechanism is broken but be careful, it's set up to that arrow dispenser in the wall. Here I'll help you unarm them."

Alex and Herobrine set to work on the three chests. Steve meanwhile took a slow stroll around the room. He checked the wall for anything out of the ordinary.

There were a couple of sconces where leftover torches had burned down long ago. When he got to the second one, he realized something. A sense of dread washed over him. The cult symbol. Half of an apple was carved into the metal. Steve grabbed at the sconce, having a hunch. It obeyed, coming down as he pulled.

Red stone clicked and hissed. A mechanical noise in the wall shifted.

Suddenly Brine was next to him, he grabbed Steve's arm that held the shield and held it up. Steve's arm felt the reverberation of an arrow sinking deep into the wood.

"What did I say about traps?" Herobrine scolded him in a soft voice, he let go of Steve's arm.

Steve stared at the arrow sticking in his shield. His face went slightly red. "Woops."

"Told you he's trouble." Alex giggled, head deep in one of the opened and disarmed chests.

But the mechanical noises didn't stop there. The clicking continued. And soon enough, the floor in the middle of the room shifted. Turning into stairs.

Herobrine hummed. "Ah, trouble but he has a good eye for secrets." He turned to Steve with a proud but conflicted look. "Good job."

"I'm just glad I didn't accidentally blow us all up." Steve regretted pulling the lever without thinking.

"It's okay. It worked out. That arrow wouldn't have done much damage anyways." Herobrine sensed his concern and tried to make him feel better.

The demon walked over to the stairs that had appeared. It somehow looked darker down there.

Steve, meanwhile, ripped the arrow out of the shield. He would have kept it but the feathers were very old and were falling off. It was a dull arrow head as well. He was surprised it stuck in so well.

He walked over to Alex who was checking out the last chest. "Anything good?"

"It's all just gold." Alex replied, shoving a bar into her bag. "I'll give you some later if you want."

"Yeah whatever." Gold didn't really interest him.

Alex agreed. "I'm hoping there's better stuff down lower."

"You know what they say about the true treasure being-"

Alex fake gagged. And bumped into him in a playful and friendly manner. "If all I get out of this trip is friendship and a few measly bars of gold imma shoot myself with one of these traps."

Steve turned his attention to Brine. The demon's hands had lit up.

"Herobrine?" He asked.

The demon shook his head clear and his hands went out. "It's definitely getting stronger." He turned to them. "Let's get to the bottom of this shall we?"

They walked cautiously down the set of narrow stairs. There seemed to be a shift in the atmosphere as they went down. None of them talked.

The stairway ended in a long hallway. It was tall like a room. But very narrow. It was entirely made out of mossy cobblestone it seemed. The floor was stained with what looked like thousands of years of dried blood. Steve hoped it was just clay. That's the mental image he decided to go with, Herobrine tensed. "Let me lead. This screams traps."

There was enough room for them to all walk side by side but they filed in a line instead, Herobrine leading slowly.

Steve didn't like the look of this hallway. It was quiet except for their breathing and a strong gust of wind. Steve could hear his own breathing increasing. He clenched the torch harder. And let out a small...not really whimper but a hum of discomfort. It was kinda intimidating. Something felt wrong like Brine said.

He didn't notice that Herobrine peaked over his shoulder to look back at him.

The demon's leg caught on something, tripping him slightly. But he regained his balance fast. There was a mechanical click of redstone.

Before anyone could react, multiple arrows shot out of the wall. Straight at the demon.

Usually,this wouldn't have been a problem. Herobrine was fast. And strong. And powerful. He laughed at arrows, swatting them away like mosquitoes.

But these ones seemed to just catch him completely by surprise and hit him in the exact wrong places. He had turned to look at the noise. But slower than normal. He had let down his guard, for what, no one could know. The arrows sunk right into his head.

The demon went down instantly. Falling against the mossy cobblestone. The sounds were sickening.

Steve turned his head away, he knew what was happening. He didn't want to see. Alex screamed.

There was a poofing sound, just like his teleportation sound, but a little different tone.

Alex continued to scream.

"It's alright!" He whipped around finally, putting his hands out. "Stop that." Mobs could swarm now with Herobrine gone. Alex would lead them straight to them. And with the place so heavily filled with traps, he didn't want a rogue zombie to set off something and blow them up.

Alex shut her mouth. Her eyes were wide. "What the FUCK?!" She hissed through her teeth. Despite watching someone die, she seemed to be taking this rather well.

"He's immortal. He'll be right back." Steve explained. His own voice scared him slightly. He was entirely too calm. More angry than anything.

He glared down at the space Herobrine had just been standing. Herobrine's body was gone. All that was left was a bright puddle of red, many glowing arrows, and an ender pearl.

"Ugh Brine..." He groaned under his breath. Arrows? Really? He had witnessed Herobrine take a lot worse than that. Why hadn't he teleported away? He crouched down and picked up one of the bloodied arrows. They were clearly enchanted. With what, he didn't know. He placed the tip of the arrow to his finger. Without even applying pressure he felt his skin tear. He withdrew his finger quickly, placing it in his mouth as blood began to flow. Yeah those things could probably do a lot of damage point blank going at the speed they had been travelling.

He spoke up to Alex who still was making confused noises behind him. "It wasn't a huge blow to the body so it shouldn't take long for him to come back." They would have made clean cuts. Easy to recover from. Something harder to recover from would be being crushed by something like a cave in, or having body parts ripped off. Steve stopped that train of thought. He hadn't liked hearing the details when Brine had told him. He didn't like remembering them now.

"This has happened before?!" Alex was still the opposite of calm. She was nervously pacing behind him. Her hand was on her sword.

"Stop moving." Steve looked at her from over his shoulder. "You could set off more traps."

She stopped. There was a block of stone sticking out of the wall. She sat on that. Her fingers gripped the stone heavily. "This has happened before?" She repeated, rocking forward.

"Yes. More so in the beginning. Less so nowadays." All of the time because Herobrine was being careless. He had screamed the first time it happened. Cried too. Now he just felt numb.

He paused. "...Is it weird I'm getting more used to it?" It concerned him. In the beginning, He couldn't have possibly imagined why Herobrine nonchalantly talked about death. Now he could understand. He had only seen Herobrine die a handful of times and he was already accepting it as an 'alright' thing. How many times had he died before they met?

"Yes! Extremely weird!" Alex screached, agreeing with his mental sentiment. "Nothing about that should be gotten used to! Ever!" This brought about more anger in the miner. Anger at Brine for his carelessness. She was right. This wasn't normal.

Steve shrugged though, trying to remain the calm one in this situation. He dropped the arrow back into the puddle of blood and instead grabbed the ender pearl. He stood up with it, taking a small cloth out of his bag. He began to clean the pearl of blood.

"What's with the ender pearl?" Alex still sounded out of breath, but she was beginning to calm down. She was stronger than him. He knew she would get over this faster than he had. Had he even from the first time?

"It allows him to teleport." Steve made sure to look closely at the wall next to him. He couldn't see any telltale signs of traps so he leaned against it. He held the ender pearl close. "He...couldn't figure out a way to enchant himself with the power like the rest of his powers. So he just swallowed it and got the ability. If he doesn't have it, he can't teleport."

He chuckled, despite the circumstances. "It's lucky it didn't break. Sometimes they do. The last time that happened he went on an ender man hunt. You almost start to feel sorry for those mobs. They don't stand a chance." It really drilled home as to what that trap would've done to Alex or Steve.

The two sat in silence for a second. Alex began to relax, her body no longer looking ready to fight. "...You think we could eat ender pearls and teleport?"

"Not a chance. It would kill us." Steve made a disgusted face. "Brine says he's seen people try it before. Apparently it's not pretty."

"You sure he's not lying to you? So you won't become as cool as him?" Alex seemed to be trying to ease the tension a bit in the only way she knew how...humor. She could tell Steve was affected by their current situation more than he let on.

Steve didn't help much to ease the tension though, instead adding to it. "Does it help if I tell you every time we teleport, I can't breathe?" He added grumpilly.

"Maybe...but I don't know. Temporary suffocation with the ability to never have to slug up a mine shaft's staircase again?" Alex put her feet up on the block, getting more comfortable.

"He said it makes your stomach explode if you're mortal."

"May be worth the risk." Alex smiled with a shrug.

"Both of you have a deathwish I swear." Steve found himself smiling back.

"Also you know I can't not make the joke about him straight up swallow-"

"Stop." Steve shut it down, not allowing her to finish. His face turned red now.

This made her smile cruelly. A hand wormed its way under her chin to complete the look. "Bet you've thought about it before, huh? Stevie" She tilted her head.

"STOP." He insisted, feeling rather uncomfortable. "Notch, you're so gross." The old curse found his tongue in his flustered state.

"It's a pretty big pearl is all I'm saying."

Steve could've choked if his mouth wasn't so dry. "I will literally kill you." He hissed.

"Kill me? Nah, that's your boyfriend's job." Alex looked so proud of herself. Sitting there smugly.

"I'm regretting all of my life choices." Steve slunk to the ground, putting his head on his knees. He still held the ender pearl carefully.

"Good. That's how you know you're living life correctly." She paused. The smug look still plastered on her face. "Speaking of life choices and boyfriends...he can't hear us right now right?"

"He cannot." Steve already knew where this was going.

"Have you told him yet?" Alex leaned forward on the block, face eager.

"No."

"Why noooot." Alex dragged out.

"I thought you didn't like him anyways." Steve attempted to change the conversation.

"I don't but you do." She scoffed. "I'm invested now. You were talking some big talk two nights ago about how you were going to tell him and then you didn't?! It's been aaages since you've first told me. I knew you were going to take some time, but now it's getting a bit pathetic. What, have you changed your mind?"

Steve was about to respond, of course not. He was still just scared. Maybe Herobrine wouldn't hold him as close as he did two nights ago. Maybe he would stop sleeping all together. And then he'd have to fight phantoms every night. Maybe he would distance himself and then slip back into old habits. Even with Steve standing there he slipped back into old ways. There were so many things running through his mind that could go wrong that it paralyzed him any time he thought about it. He wanted the best for Brine. What if he wasn't the best for him?

But before he got the chance to, Herobrine appeared. Just appeared. A few steps behind them. Alex raised her sword instinctively. Thinking he was a mob. But relaxed somewhat.

"Well that was interesting." She spoke up.

Herobrine looked at Steve and then looked down. "Sorry about that."

"Brineeeee." Steve dragged out as Herobrine walked past him to look at the arrows. The demon didn't acknowledge it. He did pick up the ender pearl that Steve held close though.

"Good luck, didn't break." Herobrine snatched it up from him and swallowed it whole in a very quick motion. Almost as if it embarrassed him.

Alex snorted. Steve ignored her. He stood up, lurking behind Herobrine's back.

"What did we say about being careful?"

"Hey I was!" Herobrine refused to look at him.

"What's with the-" Alex tried to get a word in, raising her finger. The boys ignored her.

"You could've dodged those arrows."

"Guys-"

"No I couldn't. I didn't see them."

"You're saying in your infinite 'awesomeness' as you put it, that you couldn't see a simple rope, redstone trap?"

"I...I was distracted!"

"By what?"

"Man, I need this conversation like I need a hole in the head." He almost didn't make it through the sentence, cracking up from his own joke.

Notch damn. He must still have some brain damage from one of the arrows. Or his theory on the mental stability aspect was being proved again with the mental decline right after a respawn. Either way the demon was too giddy for his liking. "Brine this is serious!"

"Why though? It's all good."

"It isn't though"

"GUYS!"

They turned to her, looking at her like they had forgotten she was even there.

"What!?" They both asked.

"Look!"

Alex was pointing behind them. Both turned around.

"It's just a cat." Steve huffed out. It was indeed a small yellow cat with black and brown spots. It was just sitting there at the end of the hallway.

"Ocelot." Herobrine provided helpfully.

"Listen-" Steve was not in the mood.

"No guys! Look!"

The ocelot was sitting on a pressure plate.

Herobrine huffed. "Well that probably isn't good."

"Where the nether did it even come from?" Steve questioned. "It definitely wasn't there a second ago."

"And they're pretty loud. I didn't hear it." Herobrine agreed.

"Can you like, talk to it Herobrine? The way you did to those silverfish?" Alex asked.

"Unfortunately animals don't listen to me in the slightest. In fact they almost always hate me." He demonstrated by reaching out a hand and gesturing to the ocelot. It hissed angrily, arching its back. It began to back up off the pressure plate. As soon as one paw was off, there was a mechanical clicking noise that echoed loudly through the hall. All three of them covered their ears from the abrasive sound.

"Woah woah, kitty!" Steve pushed past Herobrine and crouched down. "It's okay!"

The ocelot stopped its movement backwards and closed its mouth. But it's back was still arched. Fur rustling. The mechanical noise stopped.

"Okay Herobrine, back of the line." Alex shoved the demon behind all of them. Trying to get him out of sight from the cat.

"Alex, you got any more fish on you from this morning?" Steve asked, trying to keep eye contact with the strange cat. Its eyes looked like it had strange cataracts. Maybe an older ocelot.

"Yeah, it's cooked though. Not sure if it'll like it." Alex reached into her backpack and gave him another leaf parcel.

"Good enough." Steve unwrapped the leaf. The fish had gone cold by now, but it still smelled wonderful. He placed the fish on the ground a few inches in front of him. Careful to make sure he didn't set off any unseen traps.

The ocelot's ears went forward, nose in the air. Its back paw returned to the pressure plate. The mechanical noise returned, but quieter this time, before disappearing completely.

"Good thinking Steve!" Alex patted him on the back.

The ocelot meowed loudly. It flicked its tail and rushed forward off the pressure plate. Bounding towards them. The mechanical noises screeched louder.

"Way to fucking kill us Steve!" Alex slapped him on the back.

A lot of things happened in those next moments. "DUCK!" Herobrine screamed, rushing forward to shove Alex's and Steve's heads down.

The mechanical noise stopped as Herobrine let out a loud gasp.

Steve fell to the ground and turned immediately to right himself. He looked up at Herobrine, who was currently holding what once was presumably the ceiling up. The ceiling had grown spikes.

Herobrine struggled. Spikes dug into his arms and shoulders. He growled in pain. His knees shook from the effort. The wall was lowering slowly. Herobrine fought to keep it in place.

"Brine!" Steve gasped, going to get up. But he paused as noises from behind him went off.

As the cat was barreling towards the fish, it was setting a multitude of traps in front of them. Pressure plates, trip wires, buttons, etc. All of them seemed to release arrows at head level. The cat passed unscathed.

"Looks like the arrows shoot high, just stay low and crawl forward as fast as you can. Go!" Herobrine gasped out.

Alex and Steve got on their stomachs, low to the ground. Steve picked up the fish and tossed it back at the entrance. The cat caught it before it could land and began to run off. But it didn't go back to the pressure plate. No, it decided to go past that into the darkness. Steve cursed the cat out loud.

But Alex pushed him forward, pushing on his butt to make him crawl faster.

Steve set off a few traps on his way. The arrows passed overhead, digging into the stone wall easily. Some bounced off and hit his back, but thankfully none of the arrowheads touched him.

Once they reached the end of the hallway, Steve threw himself onto the pressure plate. The mechanical noise shifted. They both watched as the spiked ceiling lifted back up into the darkness above them.

Herobrine let go of the ceiling. He teleported forward, next to them. He fell to his knees, breathing heavy. "Well ouch." He hissed out. Steve got a good look at any wounds he had. There were a few small holes on one of his shoulders and his hands had been scrapped up, but otherwise it looked like he was just recovering from having to hold up the ceiling. He wouldn't fuss then. Those injuries would heal easily. He had already fussed enough.

"Okay I officially hate this place." Herobrine stood, a bit shaky. "Where'd that beast go, I'm going to skin it."

A meow from behind them made them turn their heads back to the long hallway. The ocelot somehow had managed to go by them undetected again. It let out a short purr, blinking at Steve. It then turned into the wall. The fish hit the wall first and stopped. The ocelot, however, phased through the wall. The fish phased through the rest of the ocelot. Once the feline's tail disappeared through the stone, the fish dropped to the ground with a splat.

"Did anyone else just see that or did those arrows do more damage than I thought?" Herobrine asked.

Alex and Steve nodded their heads in agreement. Both still processing all that just occurred.

"I've got something to hold the pressure plate at least." Herobrine stood and walked over to the two who had their eyes glued to the fish.

Herobrine placed his foot on the pressure plate, holding it down easily. Steve got off of it, standing and dusting himself off.

The demon produced an anvil out of nowhere, placing it down straight on the pressure plate. He backed up. "That should hold it." Herobrine nodded. "Unless that magic ghost ocelot can lift it. Nothing is going to surprise me anymore in this temple."

"Why do you have an anvil?" Alex asked, bewildered.

"It's best not to ask questions you don't want the answer to, Alex." Herobrine said with a sharp smile.

"I have soooooo many questions." Alex rubbed her face. She then looked at all the blood. "You going to be okay there? I don't think it would be fun to die twice in a day."

"I'll be fine. Look." Herobrine showed her his shoulder. "It's already mostly healed."

"Cool. I've seen a lot more of your blood than I thought I would today."

"Unfortunately that's the most normal part of this adventure." Steve grumbled. He looked around the small room. It was pretty circular. Nothing special. Only the pressure plate in the middle of it. But to their left was another staircase leading down. "Okay. Next floor. Onwards and downwards." Now that Herobrine had gotten so hurt and they weren't even at the bottom yet, he was itching to find whatever treasure was at the bottom of this thing and get the nether out of here. He didn't like the fact that he had pretty much killed Brine himself. Making them go down here despite the demon's concern. But they were too far down to stop now. He also didn't want to seem like a coward. He gripped his torch, checking to make sure it was still burning well. It looked fine, if not a bit splintered at the rough handling. Alex's sword was still burning away brightly.

Herobrine took the charge again, now looking very cautiously at everything. The floor, the ceiling, the walls. He didn't want to be skewered again. While he could respawn, the pain of death was still very real and very unpleasant.

The staircase was the shortest so far. It bled into a dark, circular room. In it were four iron golems. They sat at the end of the room, motionless. There was no door.

As soon as Herobrine stepped foot into the room, the iron golem's eyes opened. They were glowing red.

"Great." Herobrine took out his scythe, looking kinda bored. "I think this temple was created just to screw me over."

"Aren't iron golems harmless?" Alex asked. "They only attack mobs."

"These things always think I'm a mob." Herobrine ground his teeth together. "But there's only four of them. Shouldn't take too long for me to destroy them. You both might want to sit back."

Herobrine walked to the middle of the room to meet the golems head on. Alex and Steve shuffled to the back of the room to get out of the way. And to watch of course.

Three iron golems immediately went forward, hands outstretched to grab at the demon. Herobrine teleported behind them, swiping low to hit the backs of their knees.

One of the iron golems ignored Herobrine though, walking up to Steve and Alex.

"Uh. Is it supposed to be doing that?" Alex asked Steve.

"How should I know!?" Steve moved off the wall. He dropped the torch on the ground and pulled out a sword, raising his shield.

"Herobrine, this one seems like it might attack us!" Alex called over to him.

"Little busy." Herobrine dodged as one of the iron golem's fists slammed into the ground, leaving a dent in the stone. "Can you handle that one together or should I get you two out of here?"

"We can take it." Alex took out her other sword and gave Steve a quick nod.

"Go for their joints. Those are the weakest parts. If you hack off their limbs they won't be able to reattach it." He sliced his scythe into one of the creases of the iron golem's arms to demonstrate. It dropped to the ground uselessly. The golem wasn't phased, going to attack once more. "Don't let them grab you, they will throw you and you will break something." He stopped to stare hard at Steve, making sure that the instructions sunk in.

"Got it!" Steve and Alex said together.

They fell into a slight rhythm. Dodge, hit, dodge hit. The golem followed them around the room. It would raise its large arms up to attack. They would dodge. And while its arms were down they would hit.

Steve was slightly annoyed. Alex had a much different fighting style than him. All offense and no defense. She was used to only fighting mobs. Steve had been forced to fight a lot more than that over the past two years. She was not changing her strategy to account for the fact that this was a slow moving, heavy hitting enemy. She was attacking it like any mob. He wondered if Brine felt this annoyance when he watched Steve fight. "Alex, only aim for the limbs."

"I'm trying to get an opening but the crack between the arm and the shoulder is small. I don't want to miss and chip away at my sword." She said breathilly back.

"You're currently chipping away at it."

"Yeah but to get it off balance!"

"It's not going to get off balance like that!"

"Well what do you suggest sword fighting master?" Alex turned to yell at him. Breaking the rhythm.

"Pay attention!" Steve lifted the shield high up. He braced his other hand against it, preparing for the hit. The iron golem's heavy arms fell square on the shield.

Using a technique Herobrine had taught him, he swiped the shield back as the golem came forward, using its off balance attack momentum to his advantage. It staggered his enemy. He then pushed the shield away, 'dropping' it, and rushed forward to attack. In a clean cut, iron cut iron. He sliced off both of the iron golem's legs easily.

He backed up, bumping into Alex and taking her with him as they both got out of the way of the falling golem.

"Thanks." Alex blinked at him, impressed. He had learned a lot from Herobrine.

"It's not over." Steve was still focused on the moving golem. It used its arms to get upright. It leaned on one arm and raised up the other to try to attack.

Thankfully it wasn't going anywhere fast with no legs. Alex and Steve gave each other a nod. They rushed forward at the same time, going for the joints in the arms. Almost completely in sync, they slashed off the limbs.

Before they could strike the last blow though, a ball of flaming hot magma hit the iron golem's head. It melted straight through the golem's soft skull. It slumped and fell forward to the ground. Alex and Steve backed up to not get squished.

"Way to steal our kill, jackass!" Alex joked over at the demon whose hands were covered in melted iron. Three hot piles of oozing iron lay smoking around him.

"You guys take too long." Herobrine shrugged. He twirled around his scythe, flicking the iron off and it disappeared.

The last iron golem let out a mechanical groan. The room shook slightly. Some of the rock on the wall that the golems had been stationed at tumbled to the ground. A door was revealed.

Herobrine glared at the door. "That should be the last room before we begin hitting caves."

"So treasure time?" Alex's head perked up.

"Let's hope so." Steve walked over to pick up his discarded torch. Despite the ever-rough treatment it remained lit. He wondered if it was the demon's doing.

So far, the stairs had not been trapped. So Alex decided to take the lead, excited at the prospect of treasure. "Come on boys, let's go!" She descended into the darkness. Glowing sword eager.

"Does she always fight with two swords?" Herobrine asked as they followed her.

"Yeah." Steve rolled his eyes. "I keep telling her-"

"Ballsy. I like it." Herobrine interrupted.

Steve grumbled out the rest of the sentence that had died in his mouth. Why did everyone hate shields!? And Steve had done most of the work keeping them protected. Alex would have gotten hit if-

"You did well too." Herobrine nudged him from his thoughts. "Finally starting to drop that shield."

Sometimes the miner wondered if the demon could actually read minds. He rolled his eyes mentally. No. That would make everything way too easy. I like you. A lot. Too much. Please don't hate me. Wishful thinking.

Alex waited at the bottom of the stairs just in case. She looked slightly confused. Steve soon found the reason.

The last room was more of a cave entranceway. It formed a circle. The top of the cave had tree roots descending with lights attached to them. Long burnt out. But it gave the impression of a chandelier. The floor of the cave was carpeted. A dark magenta color. With flicks of black speckled in it. Leading out of the furnished room was a dug out cave system. It was a long hallway with rooms shooting out to the side. Steve couldn't see how far it went down.

But there were plenty of chests. Seemingly randomly placed.

"None of these are trapped." Herobrine looked distracted. "Feel free to rummage."

Alex gravitated towards the chests. Steve and Herobrine naturally gravitated together towards the cave system.

"This kinda reminds me of the cult's hideout in the desert." Steve spoke quietly to Brine, who nodded his head in agreement.

"They have lots of places like this. I thought I had disbanded most of them. This one looks like it was abandoned ages ago." Herobrine's temple twitched. "Which is at least some good news. I'm not in the mood to not kill people."

Steve patted him lightly on the shoulder.

Herobrine closed his eyes. He sucked in a deep breath, but didn't let it out. "The buzzing is coming from this floor."

"How can you tell?"

"I just know."

Steve looked down the hallway wearily, holding up his torch to see if he could see something the demon couldn't. It was just a normal cavern.

"I...I'm going to go ahead." Herobrine shifted anxiously. "Make sure the adventurer doesn't die."

"Okay. Be careful." Steve stressed.

Herobrine's eyes told him that he would be. He looked worried himself.

Steve wanted to go with him, but Herobrine clearly wanted to be left alone for a while. He would give him space as he always did. He watched the demon slip into the darkness, out of sight.

He decided to focus his attention on Alex. She had finished checking all the chests.

"Anything good?" Steve asked, trying to make sure his voice sounded normal.

"Lots of...potions." She held up a bottle to demonstrate. "I don't really trust them though. They've been down here so long they've collected more dust than I've ever seen. I don't know the half life on some of this stuff."

"Yeah I wouldn't recommend drinking anything." Steve stuck out his tongue. "You can't be certain what it is."

She rummaged through the remaining chests, just to be certain. Steve watched the entryway to the cave.

"You wanna go find him?" Alex said out of the blue, making him jump.

But he nodded, not bothering to hide it from her.

"I'm sorely disappointed in this temple's haul." Alex said as they made their way over to find the third party member.

"We'll have to go explore a regular one." Steve smiled. "Or maybe a mesa! Those things have lots of treasure."

"Lots of gold, and they're super hard to find. And bandits live there sometimes."

"Sounds like your sort of adventure." Steve let out a single chuckle.

Their footsteps echoed in the hallways. They peaked their heads in the rooms adjacent to the hallway.

"Most of these rooms seem empty." Alex commented.

"It was probably where people slept at some point." Steve explained.

"Where's all the beds then?"

"Maybe they slept on the floor?"

They peaked their heads in more rooms, Alex taking the left and Steve taking the right. At last Alex spoke up. "Steve..."

Steve practically bolted over.

Herobrine stood alone in the room. His features tense, hands curled into fists.

"Brine?" Steve moved to enter. Alex followed. He was worried. The way the demon was strung up tight. Not moving in the slightest. A memory from the past? It didn't happen very often. Even when they first met. It was rare. He thought it had happened two nights ago. But it was just a passing pause it had seemed.

It seemed that this was a passing pause as well as Herobrine jolted on the spot. One white eye glowing at him from the side.

"What's up?" Steve entered the room. It was eerie. It had a bad vibe. Steve could see why Herobrine had paused. It felt cold...despite there clearly being lava in the room from the sound and lighting of it.

Herobrine sidestepped, revealing the thing he had been staring at.

The structure was located in a small pocket of lava. There were golden blocks, just floating on the surface. In the back of his head, Steve knew that was impossible. The gold should be melting. Even if it was packed together in such a large chunk. It formed a 3x3 square. On top of the middle of the square was a single piece of Netherrack. Surrounding the Netherrack were four redstone torches, connected to the gold. None were lit.

"Son of a bitch." Herobrine cursed under his breath as Steve approached.

"What is it?" Steve breathed out. He could swear there was a pulsing feeling in the air. Like electricity.

"It's a summoning beacon." Herobrine spat onto the ground. As if its very existence insulted him personally.

"A what?" Alex didn't know what it was either. She seemed to know more about some of the strange things Steve didn't so that was surprising.

"If someone lit the torches and the Netherrack...it would summon me." Herobrine said through grit teeth.

"What do you mean by summon?" Steve didn't like the sound of that.

"I would transport to wherever I was standing to the burning Netherrack. And it would keep me trapped there unless someone...well only if someone put out the torches, or poured water on the lava, or broke a block...you get the idea." Herobrine trailed off.

"How do you know?" Steve always had to question. Even now he was learning new things about the demon. Not all of them were pleasant.

Herobrine stayed silent. His eyes were troubled. Pained. Steve didn't press further. Clearly because he had had it happened before.

Alex, meanwhile had skirted the room with her torch and came upon a couple of tables, formed into the cave walls. "Hey guys, look at this."

Herobrine didn't move. Steve didn't want to, but figured he better check it out.

There were a few tables by the entrance. A couple of ornamental knives lay on it as well as some empty and full potion bottles. But what interested both of them was the scrolls.

Steve could actually read these ones. But the handwriting was difficult to make out. The quill and ink trails were a bit messy. As if it was rushed and wasn't dried properly before storing it.

"It looks like they were working on a plan...but never followed through." Alex deduced from a bit of the readings on the table.

Steve unfurled the scroll slightly more. At the bottom sat a familiar red insignia.

"Why would they just leave it?" Steve wondered. It looked as if the entire table had been frozen in time and untouched for quite a while.

An echoing dark growl from the demon forced Alex and Steve to turn around. The demon had shoved off his shoes and socks and rolled up his pant legs. He waded into the shallow lava like it was nothing more than bathwater.

Herobrine brought out a brilliant diamond pickaxe. Steve tried to remember if he had ever seen the demon use one. Usually he just watched Steve do the mining.

"It doesn't matter why. I won't allow whatever they were planning to happen. I won't allow it to be left alive." A hollow dark chuckle followed. The slip up of 'alive' versus something like 'in tact' or 'standing' was not lost on the miner.

With only a few hits, he decimated the structure.

Although he wished his mind did not go there while Herobrine was in such clear turmoil, the act was breathtaking. He looked over at Alex, who had an equally impressed expression on her face. 'Wow' Steve mouthed. Alex nodded, practically drooling. The two of them could never dream of such a powerful enchanted pickaxe. They'd probably end up taking out the earth under their own feet, breaking the only rule that they really stuck to in life. It would have taken both of them at least an hour to tear apart the structure. And they were well trained.

But just as quickly as the glowing diamond pickaxe had been brought out, it was gone again once the job was done.

The pulsing energy that buzzed in the air seemed to dissipate. Herobrine stood a little taller.

The victory didn't last long.

A couple of bubbles came up from the lava in front of Brine. The room began to rumble.

"Oooooh that's a bad rumble." Herobrine backed up. Voice no longer dark but worried.

"Er Brine?" Steve warned. Small stones were beginning to crumble from the walls. The lava boiled.

"We uh...we might have to get out of here." He ran out of the lava, leaving his shoes behind. "And fast."

Alex snatched up some of the papers on the table. "Can we dig out?" Thinking about that powerful pickaxe.

"We're too far below ground at this point. And it would be easier to-" A large thud from above them. "Let's move."

"It helps if you close your eyes Alex. Take a deep breath." Steve took a deep breath himself.

Alex looked like she wanted to question that, but remained calm and took a deep breath.

Herobrine put his hands on both of their shoulders. They teleported back through the halls. Steve was able to catch small glimpses of crumbing stone, falling pillars, a hot lava in between gasping breaths.

Before long there was daylight. They were at the top of the structure already. Herobrine slipped slightly as the top was the least structurally sound. Alex held him up, remaining very composed despite this being her first teleport.

Herobrine teleported them just outside and looked to the jungle trees in the distance. He had to pick a good one that would support their weight. And he couldn't see the ground from here because of the treeline.

Just as the structure began to fall out from under them, Herobrine settled on a tree and they all teleported down.

"Woah!" Steve stumbled backwards as his foot missed the branch right out of the teleport. He slipped, falling, and letting out a yell. The demon instantly jumped after him, gripping their bodies together. Herobrine's head jerked up and Steve's back suddenly was slammed into a tree. They slid down onto a thicker branch. Herobrine lay on top of him, breathing heavily.

"You'll be the death of me I swear." Herobrine growled out. He didn't move off of his chest, going somewhat limp. It must've taken a lot of power to teleport all three of them around like that.

Steve laughed slightly, squeezing the demon tight in a hug of excitement. The adrenaline through his veins pumped pleasantly. He was happy they all made it out. "We'll have to get you some new shoes."

"Not the first pair I've lost. Won't be the last. How's the adventurer over there? Do I gotta save her too?" Herobrine asked. Steve peaked. She was currently hanging off the branch, watching as the temple crumbled. A big smile on her face. "She's fine."

"Oh I am definitely swallowing one of those ender pearls!" She yelled over to them. Happily swinging on the branch. "That was so cool!"

"She knows that'll kill her right?" Herobrine muttered against his chest.

"I tried to warn her."

"Mmm what a way to go out."

"Now are you boys going to lay there all day or are you going to help me down from this tree?"

The two laughed. Their hearts beat together as they did.

The sun was going down. With their previous base of operation destroyed, the trio scoured around quickly for a small surface cave. All three were pretty exhausted from the hectic day. Even Herobrine looked ready to call it a night. None of them were ready to walk home. And Alex certainly didn't want to have to deal with mobs on her own.

There wasn't much discussion as they set up tents, made a quick bonfire and some food, and got ready to sleep. Alex wedged in a door on the small entrance to the cave just as they had the night before.

Surprisingly, Herobrine crawled in the tent soon after Steve did. He wasn't sure if it was because he just didn't want to deal with the phantoms tonight or if it was because Steve was somewhat giving him the stink eye.

They all said their goodnights as Herobrine extinguished most of the light in the cave. Leaving some ashes.

Soon it felt as if Steve and Herobrine were alone in the tent.

It should have felt awkward, Steve supposed. But it wasn't. Like everything the two did together it felt natural. Steve lay down on the right side of the tent. Herobrine followed suit on the left side. Heat radiated from the demon. It was the perfect temperature as the cave floor was chilly.

"You good?" Steve whispered after they had both settled.

"Yes." Herobrine answered. His voice seemed tired. Hopefully he would sleep well.

Steve waited though. Just in case. This time the cave sounds sounded inviting. The gentle drips of cave kisses. The soft wind flow through the cracks in the door. But most importantly: Herobrine's soft breathing. He waited until it fell into a smooth rhythm before allowing himself to close his tired eyes.

.

It had been a while since he had been awoken by the screams.

They were muffled this time. Harsh. Panicked deep to the core.

And the sound of frantic movement. Whisking away out of the tent.

Steve was up in an instant, forcing his brain awake. "What?" Was all he could manage.

He just caught a figure falling out of the tent onto the ground. And then it rose once again, moving low to the ground. It almost took the tent with it.

At first his tired brain thought it was a big animal. The way it moved. The growls.

But he realized it was wearing a green cloak.

"Herobrine, where are you going?" He started moving out of his blankets. Shoving on his shoes when he received no answer.

Once on, he shuffled and stuck his head out of the tent.

At least the demon was easy to spot in the darkness. Although...his eyes were dull.

Steve always looked at those beautiful haunting eyes first to see how the demon was doing. It was a pretty good tell on his mood.
This type of dull meant trouble.

"Herobrine?" He used the full name again. Speaking slowly and calmly.

The demon was leaned up against the impromptu door of the cave. Clutching it. Breathing deep, ragged breaths.

"What is going on?" Steve said each word carefully.

"I need to get out of here." A voice he hardly recognized. Herobrine started clawing at the wood, like he didn't understand how it opened. "Now."

"Okay, that's fine. Let's get out of here then." Steve turned back into the tent. "Just give me a second, I've got to light a torch for Alex so mobs won't come around." the ashes had gone out completely.

"Now." The voice was dark and urgent.

Steve didn't let himself react. He remained calm. He was pretty prepared with a torch anyways in case there was an emergency. Always was. He grabbed the supplies and rushed out of the tent. He stuck the torch in a natural crack on the cave wall. With a quick light of a flint and steel, the torch illuminated the room.

He was surprised he didn't hear any movement from Alex's tent. Just faint breathing. Which was funny because Alex was always the first to wake up at the sound of any mob. But anything else, she was a super hard sleeper. It would take a lot to wake her. If she did wake for some reason, the torch would signify to her that they had left. She would understand.

He immediately dropped the flint and steel on the ground and went over to Brine. The torch now fully revealed just how out of it the demon was. There was no recognition in his eyes. He looked like a wild, caged animal. He backed up as the miner approached. Still clutching at the stone wall.

Steve removed the wedges from the makeshift door and let in the night air. Goosebumps wracked at his arms as the cold wind filtered in.

Herobrine looked ready to bolt in an instant. His head shot up. Steve had just enough time to wrap an arm around the demon's neck to teleport with him. He held on tight, unsure where they were going.

Unfortunately, he didn't think this through very well. He assumed that Herobrine would be conscious enough to know that Steve was with him.

He was not.

Steve's breath was torn from him as they lurched forward. The world was a blur. It spun around him in muddled colors. Usually, Herobrine would pause for Steve to breathe. Not now. He didn't stop at all.

He couldn't breathe. Every time they stopped it was only for a second before they moved elsewhere. He was scratched by branches. His lungs ached. His head spun.

Steve shut his eyes tight. In the motion of it all he was able to squeeze Herobrine's shoulder.

And thankfully that was enough to make the immortal man pause.

The world stopped.

"S-Steven?"

Some recognition finally. Steve let go and fell to the ground. Or what he hoped was the ground. He had no idea where they were now. It felt like grass beneath him.

"I'm sorry." Herobrine was out of breath himself. "I-I'm so sorry."

Steve couldn't respond. Just gasped and sucked in as much air as he possibly could. He coughed and spit. His lungs were still stinging, his head was still spinning. His body lurched slightly, thinking about being sick. Thankfully he didn't. He needed all the air flow he could get right now.

"I'm okay." He finally said between deep breaths. He opened his eyes and the world came into view. They were in a large field. Moonlight lit the environment. He saw the jungle trees tall in the distance.

Fire was sparking around them, causing small patches of grass to burn. Dammit. Steve forced his woozy body up off the ground. He swayed slightly but was able to grab onto Herobrine's arm for stability. He stood in front of the demon. Just a breath away. "Look at me. I'm fine." Herobrine's eyes were far away. "It wasn't your fault. You didn't know."

"I could've killed you just then." The voice came out in a sing-song manner. His lips curled up with a sharp smile.

Steve wasn't phased by this. He said nothing. And just looked into those bright eyes.

They glared back. "I could kill you right now and you wouldn't even try to stop me."

"I wouldn't." Steve stood his ground.

"How fucked up is that?" Herobrine continued. "You trust me with your fragile life so easily."

Herobrine still wasn't mentally with him. He could tell. Steve just wanted the demon to wake up.

So Steve acted boldly. And pressed their foreheads together. Herobrine was too warm. He wasn't sure why he decided on this act. His confident side saying to kiss him. His anxious side saying give the poor guy some space. Compromise.

The act broke Herobrine out of whatever was happening to him in an instant.

But...something happened that Steve did not expect. Herobrine's form shifted.

Steve jumped back, not prepared with that reaction in the slightest. "What was that?!" Steve croaked out.

"N-nothing." His eyes were wide but Steve could definitely tell the demon was lucid once again. "Nothing you should concern yourself about. It's just something I was born with. I don't control when it happens."

"I'm sorry." Steve automatically decided he must have been the cause.

"It wasn't your fault. Stop being sorry. Gods, if I could steal your apologies and give them back to you it still wouldn't be enough." Herobrine bit at his knuckle, beginning to pace. "I almost suffocated you and you're apologizing to me." He let out one harsh, choking laugh.

Steve noticed the demon was shaking. So he didn't move or talk. Just let Herobrine pace around for a bit. He wasn't sure what was going on in that frantic mind. It hurt him to see him like this. Even if he was used to it. He was honestly surprised the demon hadn't run off to the nether yet.

Herobrine was looking to the sky. To the surrounding area. And back to Steve. In a rotation of sorts. Finally the demon whipped around. "Can we fight?"

"...Excuse me?"

Herobrine procured two sticks from nowhere and threw one at the ground at Steve. "I have to get this energy out or...or I feel like I might explode."

"Okay..." Steve tentatively picked up the stick. He had sparred with Herobrine dozens of times. But never while the demon was acting like this. He wasn't sure it was a good idea. Exploding also didn't sound like a good option however. Even though he wasn't quite certain for what that entailed. "Just remember I'm not as strong as the mobs you usually fight." He felt like he had to reiterate. He still didn't like how Herobrine was moving.

"Yeah yeah, that's fine." Herobrine's pace continued.

This was a bad idea. He gripped the stick tight with two hands and got into a strong stance regardless. He would be fine. Herobrine wouldn't hurt him. His aching chest said otherwise.

Herobrine's head shot up, back straight. All focus on Steve's fake sword. The demon flicked his own stick into the air, grabbing it so the fake blade would be backwards. As if he was attacking with a dagger and not a sword. Steve gulped.

The demon didn't make any noise as he rushed forward. Being barefoot didn't slow him down at all. He moved with the breeze. Steve dodged, stick held high as Herobrine made contact easily. He could feel the impact travel all the way through his hands and up his arm. He tried to push back slightly but the demon did not budge. Even with the unsteady hold he had on the stick. The wood creaked.

Herobrine jumped back but then attacked right after. Steve wasn't able to react. He tried to put the stick out to just hopefully be a fighting dummy. But the blows were getting dangerously close.

Steve watched an attack come towards him. He knew immediately it was going to hit him in the neck. He swung the stick up to deflect. But another attack was already coming right after.

"Brine, hey watch it I-" he had to dodge to avoid being wacked in the head by the stick. Herobrine was going too fast.

"Hey! Careful, I can't-Ah!" A sting on his hand made the stick fly out of his hand. He quickly grabbed at the forming bruise with his other hand. But instinct screamed at him to get back. So he tumbled sideways into a summersault. He tried to pick up his stick in the motion but he just wasn't agile enough.

Herobrine's eyes were practically leaving light trails as he moved through the night. The space Steve had previously occupied had the stick firmly thrust into the ground.

Herobrine broke the stick in half, not bothering it to free it from the relatively soft ground. His head jerked. He lurched forward, throwing the stick Steve had dropped at the miner's chest. Steve was just able to catch it before Herobrine slammed into him with the broken stick. The shock almost knocked the wind out of him.

Steve felt his feet slide backwards a few good inches before Herobrine teleported back away and started running at him to attack once more.

"Hero stop it!" Steve spoke up firmly. Holding his stance and throwing the stick to the ground. It was too much.

The demon stopped in an instant. He tensed in place. Not even breathing.

"I don't think this is helping." It was an understatement. Herobrine looked more wound up now. Trembling.

Steve watched as Herobrine's expression changed slowly.

And out of nowhere the demon collapsed forward onto the ground.

"Brine?!" He ran up and slid onto his knees, instantly worried about him.

"Shhh" Came a muffled response from the ground. "'m fine."

Steve drew in a long breath, letting his head fall. Relieved for the moment. "You gotta talk to me dude. What's wrong?"

"I don't know what's wrong." The demon was beginning to curl up in a ball on his side. His hands grabbing at the hair on his head. His eyes were dull. "Everything's literally perfect. It couldn't get any better."

He paused, grabbing his head more. "And yet I'm still...broken."

Steve moved slowly to sit beside Herobrine. Resting their backs together.

"You're not broken." Steve reassured him. He looked up at the stars. They were so bright.

"I can't even fucking sleep correctly." Herobrine bit out. But his hands came away from his face.

"...Have I been pushing you too much?" Steve asked softly.

"No." Without hesitation. "You could never do that."

"You haven't had nightmares in a while."

"I know honesty is one of the things that we are working on." The demon sniffed, not because he was upset, but because he was starting to dig his face into the itchy grass. "I haven't slept as much as you think I have been."

"Why not?" He tried not to be disappointed. Just because of the dishonesty. But Steve hid things from him too, so he couldn't blame the demon.

"It's been getting worse lately. The nightmares. I just don't know why." A low growl that reverberated through the ground. "Next time I see my brother I'm going to shove a phantom barb down his throat."

"...What are your nightmares about?"

Herobrine let out a loud sigh. "...It depends on the night. Every dream is different."

Steve froze. He wasn't expecting an answer. He had asked the question so many times. He willed his heart to beat slower so he could hear every word carefully.

"I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised about some of the themes. Sometimes it's about my brother. And the nether. Sometimes I wake up feeling like my life is in danger...or I'm trapped. I've had my fair share of being tortured and the one torturing. I've killed a lot of people as you know intentionally and unintentionally. Some of their faces haunt me. Even those who were immortal."

A shaky breath. As if the demon was using a lot of energy to get this out.

"I've dreamed about losing control. About becoming the monster that Notch says I am." Steve felt Herobrine shudder underneath him. "The worst part is that 'dream me' actually enjoys it. Alot. Too much. It likes scaring people...I know I scare you sometimes. Like just now."

Steve started to protest at this. "I wasn't-"

"Please" Herobrine cut him off. "...I know fear better than I know you. When I get lost in it all. That fear fuels me. Finally I'm not afraid. I'm the reason others are afraid. But I'm actually still afraid. Of myself now. And it all just gets to be too much and-"

Herobrine's voice broke into a low growl. Not sadness, but anger at the dreams.

"...What did you dream about tonight?"

A pause. And a very quiet sigh. "...you."

"Oh?" Steve's breathing stopped.

"That I couldn't save you."

"From what?"

That finally shut the demon's mouth. Steve kicked himself. It was almost a dance to get information out of his friend. He had just metaphorically stepped on his partner's toes.

"I can protect myself you know." He attempted to pick up some assemblance of a conversation. He didn't want to leave it there. His friend was still vulnerable.

"I know." A chuckle. "A clumsy boy such as yourself should be dead thousands of times over. I'm beginning to think you're more immortal than I." A pause. "But I didn't ever rely on anyone before. And now. I honestly don't know what I would do if-"

Steve knew what that felt like. Without Herobrine even having to say it.

"And I'm so paranoid about something attacking you and then I go off and hurt you myself. The thoughts to leave all of this and just stay in the Nether are ever present. Even though it was my prison it's the only place I feel truly safe. It's the only place I can't hurt anyone."

Herobrine turned around to face him before Steve could wrap his head around a response.

"Isn't this...tiring?" Herobrine asked.

"What do you mean?" Steve's head was buzzing.

"Me." The demon stressed. "Aren't I tiring?"

"Why would you be?"

"You keep putting in all this work to help fix me. And yet..." A warm hand ghosted on top of his bruised one. "All you get in reward is hurt in the process."

"I volunteered, remember? If I didn't want to deal with all of this I'd leave."

"What could you possibly have to gain from me that's worth all this?"

At first it was only his thirst for adventure that drove him forward. Now..."it's what friends do."

"Friends also don't almost kill each other."

"You wouldn't hurt me."

"How can you be so certain?"

"I know you."

"You know nothing."

"You know nothing." Steve mimicked back in a deep voice. He giggled. "Dude I'm pretty sure by now I know you."

"Why are you so weird?" Steve could hear Brine's tone get lighter.

"No you." He nudged Herobrine with his elbow gently.

Crickets chirped around them. Steve shuddered slightly from the cool wind. But it brought a gust of crisp delicious air with it. He was grateful to experience this time of night out in the open.

As if the demon sensed his thoughts...

"Hey check this out." Herobrine sat up, and shifted to he was sitting directly next to the miner. Steve fought the urge to push themselves closer. Their knees were already touching.

The demon raised a hand out to the distance. Directly under where the moon sat in the clearing. He closed his eyes, took in a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Steve looked out to where he was concentrating. A lone phantom materialized in the air. He tensed.

It floated in the moonlight aimlessly. In a sort of figure eight pattern. It dipped and swooped gracefully. The flesh underneath the bones reflected the light. It looked like it was swimming in the sky.

Herobrine's knee went up and he let out a small grunt. Steve looked over at him, concerned. The demon's eyes were open in deep concentration. A bead of sweat rolled off of his temple.

Finally he grunted again and dropped his arm. Steve looked back at the phantom in the distance.

The mob let out a chilling moan before fading back into the dark sky. Completely blending in with the stars. Out of sight.

"It was off to go attack some defenseless insomniac somewhere." Herobrine explained, somewhat out of breath. "It won't bother anyone tonight at least."

"Some monster you are." Steve quipped easily. "Saving people from mobs and such."

"Eh, least I can do." Herobrine placed his arm on the knee which had not returned to its place next to Steve's...and probably wouldn't again. He placed his head down on it as well. "I'm the reason they're here in the first place."

Steve shuffled as well, holding himself slightly just to keep the wind off of his exposed arms. He pulled at a strand of grass. "Remember just how a few months ago you couldn't come back from a phantom fight without almost passing out and now they obey you?"

"Yes." Herobrine raised an eyebrow at him. "You just witnessed it."

"Things get better with time and practice."

"Urgh you're saying I should practice sleeping more aren't you?" Herobrine grumbled. "I don't think that's how that works."

"Just a suggestion."

"I think I'd rather fight my brother than deal with myself. I really don't know how you do it."

"The demon with inner demons."

"That's my name, don't wear it out." They both laughed slightly. Looking ahead at the scenery.

Steve dared to be a little bolder. "Brine. You uh...know why I stick around with you right?"

"You were dropped as a child?"

"No. Be serious."

"I am serious. You're almost as fucked up as me."

He giggled. But then returned to his seriousness. "I don't know why but I've never felt this way around anyone. I usually don't like to be around people for too long."

"Partially my fault." Herobrine sulked, once again. "No one wanted to be around you because of me."

"Not true." He picked a piece of grass up and began to shred it, just to keep his hands occupied. "If they had gotten to know me they would have learned I'm not a monster. Just like I've learned that about you." He added. "Even if you still try to act like you are. Or believe you still should."

Herobrine let that settle in. But he quickly found a loophole. "You like to be around Alex."

"She's different." Another piece of grass. Don't look at him. You won't be able to get it out if you look at him. "She may be my best friend but even we need a break from each other. It's why we only see each other every once in a while."

"Why's that?"

"I get my energy from being out in nature and mining and building. And being alone. She sucks some of that energy out. It's not her fault...she's just naturally social." He sucked in a breath. He felt like he was going to choke on the next sentence. "It's...different. With you."

"Yeah." Herobrine said it like he agreed. Like it was different for him too. He then stood suddenly, stretching. "We should get back. You need to sleep." He offered a hand to Steve to help him off the ground.

Steve wanted to press him to talk more, but that was already more than he expected. So instead, he grabbed the hand and allowed himself to be lifted up. "Let's walk back. I think I've had all the teleporting I can handle today."

"That's fair."

"And...thanks Stevie. I feel better. Really."

"No problem dude."

Perhaps another night.

AN:

"Can't get pulled into the friendzone if you put yourself there first" - Herobrine and Steve at the same time, 2020

I had TOO much fun writing this chapter. Boy is it a doozy. Just a very fun, heavy dialog based chapter. I like the trio's interaction, felt kinda like a dnd campaign in the middle there. The name of the game in this chapter was 'contact'. You'll notice both Steve and Herobrine are getting a bit handsier than usual. A very heavy contrast to the last chapter when Herobrine would burn Steve just for getting close. And of course I can't resist adding angst right at the end there. They are both spiraling out of control. Steve would normally just be confident. But he is worried about Brine who seems to be slipping lately. Slipping because he wants Steve but doesn't want to hurt him or himself in the process. Relationship go brrr.

Thank you all for reading and reviewing thus far. Please keep doing it lol. Literally every time I see a comment in my email I feel happy and then that puts me in a writing mood. It's really been keeping me inspired to write more. I've still got more chapters I'm working on and concepts I'd like to explore. So I will keep shoving hurt and comfort down your throats believe me.

...

Tangents: (disclaimer...I wrote most of these targets after drinking lots of wine so I apologize if they're strange but I figured you'd like the chaotic nature. This is a mistake lol)

1 - There's lots of different ways to pronounce Herobrine. Four that I know of off the top of my head. You can pronounce Hero or Hair-o and then Brine like salty water or Br-inn.

So hair o br inn. Hair o brine.

Hero brine. Hero brinn.

I find myself pronouncing it all four ways depending on my mood. More so hair o than hero. I'm sure there's an official way but whatever. All this to say I like the nickname Brine for him better than I like the nickname Hero which I think more people tend to use. Hero is perfectly fine too. Brine feels more casual to me. Hero feels like it would be a more formal name. For comparison - Steve:Brine. Steven:Hero.

I've also seen in other fics where his name used to be Hero and when he fell it became Herobrine. So inspiration wise I'll probably keep the goons Jeb and Dinnerbone using his name Hero. Notch would 100% only refer to him as Herobrine. Liking the monstrous name.

Lastly. Idk for pet names. Like, I freaking LOVE Stevie as a pet name. Adorable. 11/10. Other people have made good decisions and done us a great service in making up that name. But for Herobrine? My brain says lean towards Hero but only with a different vibe. Like Steve could say Hero two completely different ways and have them mean two completely different things. "Ah Hero ~" versus "Hero get down from there this instant!" haha fun times. "Steve dear" mh they soft.

Alex will punch anyone who calls her by a different name. It's Alex. You call her Alexandra or Lexy, you're gonna have a bad time. She might accept Al. But you gotta know her real well.

2 - My brain when writing the entire first scene: lol Steve thursty but not for WATER HEROBRINE, I SWEAR. Thirst for adventure my ass.

3 - Cough cough the reason Herobrine spawns next to Steve and not at spawn or in bed is because Steve is his bed. Me to me: that doesn't make any sense at all. Me to me: shhhhhh they sleepin togetherrrrr. The real reason is because spawn would probably be in the aether which would just cause problems so Herobrine can spawn wherever he wants. He gets some creative abilities with his glitches sure.

4 - Man I bet some of you thought this chapter would be fucking intense. Get it? Yeet myself out the window.

5 - Question. Hypothetically. If I was to write a smut chapter. Where would yall want me to put it? It would be in the context of all of these stories so it could definitely go in this oneshot list. I guess I just have to change the rating and add a lot more tags? Or should I post it as its own story? Not great with this stuff. Only ever written pg13 for that reason because I'm worried about not tagging or posting correctly lol. Don't get too excited lol haven't made up my mind yet. I wasn't planning on it but I'm not gonna ignore inspiration when it appears. And tbh I've been cooking up something while writing these pining scenes since their slow burn is killing me too lol. They need to KISS. They deserve it.

(sober me stepping in: Please let me know if there's anything specific you would like me to tag if I missed it. I grew up with fanfiction . net and don't understand these newfangle tags systems. you darn kids and your tags making it easy to find stuff.)

I will now provide an appetizer for when the pining is done. In terms of appetizer it's like one shrimp. Not filling in the slightest. Mostly because this won't get used elsewhere. I wrote it in four seconds in response to myself yelling at myself for the pining. I guess you could call it an AU of this chapter even. What if Steve had been bold enough to march straight over to that couch in the morning?

Alex knocked on the door. She didn't dare enter uninvited. She had a hunch.

And her hunch was very quickly confirmed. She had to wait a few moments. There was a shuffling sound. Panicked talking and curses from Steve. Grumbling from Herobrine.

Eventually, Steve swung open the door. "Heeeeey Alex!"

Alex gave him a good look from top to bottom. Her expression was not impressed. His hair was a mess. He didn't have a shirt on, only some loose fitting gray sweatpants. He was sweaty and out of breath. Very clearly trying to hide a blush as he leaned against the door. He wasn't able to hide all of the fresh bruises that had absolutely not been there last night.

"You both forgot didn't you?" She didn't greet him back. She put a hand on her hip.

"It's not that we forgot per say..." Steve coughed. "We, erm, just lost track of the time."

Alex shook her head, rolling her eyes. "I'll give you ten minutes."

Herobrine appeared behind Steve in an instant, wrapping his arms around his neck loosely. She couldn't be certain by the way Steve covered him from her view but he didn't look like he had any clothes on. The demon smirked as the miner's face flushed bright red. He spoke into Steve's ear. "He'll only need five."

"Deal. Keep it quiet. I better not hear you all the way across the field." Alex turned to walk away.

"Sorry Al-" but the door was already closed. And Steve's mouth was otherwise occupied.

Alex shook her head. "Gross." But she smiled. She was glad they were finally happy.

6 - what was Herobrine's dream about? Steve's death, sure. Death from what? Well he did just witness a lot of traps and enemies that could easily kill Steve. So one would think maybe something like what if Steve had activated a trap? What if Steve couldn't fight the iron golem? What if he had been crushed beneath the temple? Or Brine couldn't catch him after he fell? One would think there could be many things Herobrine dreamed about that killed Steve. One would be wrong. Think back to the first section of this story. What is Brine most afraid of? His monstrous tendencies. And dab. TAKE THAT ANGST AND LIKE IT DAMMIT.

And back to your regularly scheduled program

...

Very tiny nerd time - Inventory is 36 slots and you can carry a stack of 64 so you can technically have 2304 items. Let's say you have that many dirt blocks. For reference, a character is 2 blocks tall. Average human height is about 5.4 ft or 1.64 m (probably not totally accurate but that's my height and I like to be average lol) meaning an average block is 2.7 ft or .8 m. So if you stack all those dirt blocks up it would be 6,221 ft tall or 1896 m. More than enough blocks to get you out of the grand canyon if you fell into the deepest part with a bucket taking up a slot to accomplish the water falling trick. Ironically the most blocks you can stack on top of each other is 256 in game. The equivalent of 691 ft or 210 m. Not even enough to get the empire state building made smh.