Characters: Billy Kaplan/Wiccan, Teddy Altman/Hulkling, Kate Bishop/Hawkeye, Steve Rogers/Captain America, Tony Stark/Iron Man, various Avengers mentioned
Summary: Everyone knows Hulkling is strong, and reliable, and sturdy, and capable. Unless you're Wiccan, and you know better.
Word Count: 1218
Wiccan sat silently and listened as Captain America revealed his plan. It was well thought out, and took into account each and every last superhero that answered his call to arms. Nothing was wasted, and one had to admire how well Cap made sure he knew everyone present so as to better put their abilities to use. He also knew about their affiliations and relations, thus refraining from putting together arch-rivals unless he had absolutely no choice.
That was a good thing, however it did reflect on his level of objectivity, and much like how he didn't force people together unless he had to, it meant that for the good of the mission, he pulled others apart.
Hulkling's name came up several times under various contexts, as befitting one with quite the useful set of adaptable skills such as he. Wiccan would've been proud, had not all those contexts were ones he wasn't a part of.
"Cap!" Billy called out after the debriefing was over, and he finally managed to find Cap mostly alone. The man was discussing something with the Falcon and the Black Widow, but thankfully both had their various duties to take care of and so took their leave before long. Cap did as well, but he motioned Wiccan to follow, so he did.
"I was fairly sure I explained everything, what do you want to talk about?"
Billy steeled himself. He knew well how his query would sound, but for the life of him couldn't help but ask.
"It's about the team rosters."
Cap sent him a brief look that was also knowing, but he gave the teen the benefit of the doubt regardless, or at least respected him enough to answer seriously.
"I did the best I could with the men and women I had." Cap stated.
"Given our position-"
"You're over-working people, assigning them too many positions, too many responsibilities... we're all capable, Cap, but with the exception of Thor, we're all only mortals!"
Cap came to a stop and watched the boy from his higher stature. Wiccan didn't falter, and instead met his gaze.
"I can take care of most of these things in the blink of an eye, just let me-"
"I need you elsewhere, fully powered. This is out of the question."
"Cap-" Billy tried arguing, only to fall silent when Cap held up a hand. That hand soon found itself on Billy's shoulder, the hold tight and firm even without the man actively applying any pressure.
"I understand your concern, but I didn't assign anyone a task I didn't think they were capable of. And as far as capable goes, Hulkling-"
Billy tensed and gave Cap a long, pointed look that didn't stop the man from speaking.
"-Is one of the sturdiest, most reliable men I know. He can take care of himself."
That was the end of it as Ms. Marvel came, calling for Cap. The man applied a gentle squeeze on the youth's shoulder before he turned away from him.
Billy's fists clenched at his sides.
"Is that really what he looks like to you?"
It was but a whisper, but one a Super-Soldier could still hear. Steve turned around, only to find Wiccan already walking away, his cape blowing behind him like a menacing fog.
It was difficult to say everything went without a hitch, but most of the teams came back successful if not victorious from their missions. Some even were offered to leave as their services were no longer required, but not the Young Avengers, who were still missing several members. They were constantly reassured their teammates were fine, which was mostly fancy talk for 'zero casualties so far', but it didn't make any of them feel any better, least of all Billy.
As much as he wanted to, he was too worn out from his own assignments, and so refrained from using his powers to check up on or even join Teddy. All he could do was wait.
It wasn't that much later, and in the middle of a conversation between Wiccan and the young Hawkeye that the last of the teams returned. They were battered and bruised, but all alive - just tired. Some more than others, Billy noted when Hulkling descended from the Quinjet.
His outfit was torn in various places, silent testament to the wounds that no doubt already healed. Dirt and mud covered his form, and he looked downright exhausted. He responded just barely to what his mission-partners had to say - which seemed to be praises and shows of gratitude for the most part - but his attention kept drifting away from them. He was searching for something - someone.
Billy blinked when he felt a hand on his shoulder, and turned to Kate to find her smiling as she pushed him forward. He offered her a small, grateful smile before slowly approaching his boyfriend.
As soon as he was spotted, Teddy's expression changed, shifting from careful hospitality to momentary happiness, and from there to utter exhaustion. He walked towards Billy, eyes set on his partner's. By the time Teddy was close, he was shorter, all around smaller, the dirt more evident on his now-pinkish, human-hued skin. Billy said and did nothing, simply stood there and let Teddy practically walk into him.
Billy resumed doing nothing. He stood there, feeling more of Teddy's weight settling against him. The other's face buried in Billy's shoulder, and even with the many layers of red fabric muffling it, Billy still registered that sigh that Teddy let out, soft and weak, tired. Then, a hand rose to touch his, rough fingers brushing over the fabric of his gloves and his skin. A hesitant touch, almost weary, yet needy at the same time.
Billy turned his hand, interlacing his fingers with Teddy's and holding his hand tightly.
"Are you hurt?" The mage asked softly, cheek resting against the mess of blond. He felt Teddy's head shake slowly, and Billy decided to keep his disbelief to himself at least for the time being.
"That's good to hear." He whispered and raised his free hand to Teddy's back, palm running soothingly over the wide expense.
It took a while, but Teddy finally relaxed, slumping against Billy.
"How about you?" Billy heard it asked from somewhere between his cape and neck, and he tilted his head against Teddy's.
"Like I could let myself get hurt when I have you to look after."
He felt his hand being squeezed, and shifted when Teddy pressed even closer against him.
"Can I stay like this for a while?"
Billy closed his eyes and nodded softly, rubbing cheek, lips and nose into Teddy's hair.
"Take as long as you need. I'm not in any rush."
As though given permission, Teddy reached his free hand, wrapping that arm around Billy's waist.
Billy closed his eyes and let out a soft breath.
"Don't mention it."
"Penny for your thought?" Iron-Man asked from behind his metal mask, making Cap look away from the young couple.
"Is that all you can spare?"
The armor-clad one shrugged.
"I can invest more, but you are a humble man."
Cap's lips twitched into a small smile before he turned to leave the hangar.
"I think... we might need to revise the roster for tomorrow's missions."