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Characters: Tommy, Billy, Teddy - Minor
Time-Frame: Shortly after Family Matters, before the events of Civil War
Word Count: 1526
Summary: Tommy never needed a family, which made it rather awkward when he was suddenly told he had one. Set between Family Matters and Civil War

Tommy didn't need family. If you asked the speedster, family in modern times was one more template the stupid normative society tried to force you into, mostly because everyone else was doing it so why should you be special? It didn't matter people too often were better off on their own, or in their own unique patterns. But that's the way society had it, so why should you have any fun?

Granted, accidentally or not, Tommy did evaporise his school, so to hell with social norms. His own little nuclear family blew up to smitherins, and even with his escape-turned-release from Juvie he had very little interest in going back to either of his parents. 
After all, how was one to go back home when 'home' was still arguing over who got what, and who'd end up babysitting him the bigger part of the month? So he made it easier for them and stayed out of their hair, accepting the living arrangements offered to him in the old Bishop Publishing House turned Young Avengers Hideout.
They all came and went but as he was left mostly alone, Tommy was quite alright with that. After all, they seemed to be nice kids (maybe other than Patriot) (and the sentient armor) but Tommy wasn't the family guy, so he tried to not get too caught up in their little game of 'House'.

It became a bit harder to do seeing how Teddy lost his own actual home and came to live in the Lair too, mostly because that meant his boyfriend came to visit him. Then again, Tommy found that he could either speed out of the area in time, or annoy the living daylight out of them, so it was still all good, clean fun for him.
At least until aforementioned Boyfriend started being able to cast spells to either shut Tommy up or slow him down so he could be pummeled faster than Tommy could get out of there. 
Really; Give the guy a bit of angry motivation and watch him improve on the spot. He should be thanking Tommy... but that was besides the point.

What was the point was that out of the small group Tommy agreed to align himself with, Billy Kaplan was both Tommy's favorite and least favorite person. Favorite because getting under his skin was so easy, Tommy couldn't believe it. The only times he felt even remotely guilty about it were those couples of times it seemed like he stepped on old wounds (because how was he supposed to know the guy got his head flushed down the toilet?) or when he said something obscene enough to have the rest of the team glare at him (Kate alone should do it more often. Tommy liked that). 
But really, it was too strong for him to resist, as his very existence seemed to be enough to remind Billy exactly who it was that in the heat of the moment decided to break a sociopath out of Juvie. It was more or less Tommy's belated new year's resolution, to annoy Billy as much as he could.

Of course, as it turned out, Tommy didn't have a monopoly on being a nuisance. Billy had the gift of being able to drive Tommy bonkers in half a minute, which was an all time low even for the speedster. It was that glint in his eyes, the all consuming, honest fanboy obsession Tommy could never relate to that made him opt to take his leave rather than deal with the would-be spellcaster. 
Tommy didn't want to hear about the Scarlet Witch (least of all from her #1 fan...), he didn't want to go through occult books dealing with spirits, souls and reincarnations (where did Billy even get those?), and he could live his life just as well if not better without being Billy Kaplan's twin brother (though it was nice, having someone that good looking around).

After all, Tommy didn't need family. Least of all one that only wanted him around so they could be their favorite Avenger's son.
Apparently, saying that bit out loud in Teddy's presence wasn't the smartest thing to do.

"What? You don't think I'm right about that?" 

Teddy let the thought bounce back and forth in his mind for a moment before he let out a hum.
"I don't think you're all wrong, if that makes you feel any better."

"Ah ha!" Tommy exclaimed and looked rather pleased with himself, only to deflate slightly at Teddy's chuckle.


"Nothing, I just think you're yes mostly wrong."

Tommy failed to see how he could be wrong about it. It was the perfect escape for the guy who did nothing but whine and moan about his family. Time and again he called his brothers brats, or runts, or demons, and told hair-raising tales of their misdeeds. So often he complained about his parents, painting them as fiendish tyrants whose sole joy in life was to rob their son of any happiness or enjoyment. 
That was how Tommy imagined the Kaplan family, and wanted nothing to do with it - not even his own potential sibling. Because family, especially one like that, wasn't anything Tommy needed.

But as it turned out, family was the one thing Billy took most seriously, even more than his stupid fandoms and fanboy habits. Otherwise Tommy had a hard time figuring out why Billy would smile sometimes when he talked about those monsters he had for younger brothers, or actually volunteer to help his parents with anything, or call them after they went out on super-hero duty, just to let them know they were all ok, and sound like he meant it. 
Tommy really didn't get why Billy would look like he was having so much fun with his family, or why he tried so hard for their sakes.

That frustrating confusion translated into something quite unhealthy that like most things with Tommy got out of his system before long.

"Why do you care about them so much?" Tommy demanded one time after another thwarted bank robbery. They were both in the Lair, in various stages of changing back to their civilian clothing, and Billy just got off the phone with his mother, telling her he was safe and that he loved her.

"...because they're family?" Billy replied once he figured out what Tommy was talking about.

"That you keep bitching about." Tommy countered.

Billy looked like he didn't see the point, and Tommy had to fight off a growl.

"It sounds like you hate them."

Billy snorted.
"The people closest to you get the most under your skin, didn't you know that?" 

Tommy rolled his eyes.
"Pfft, then what does that make us?"


Green eyes met brown ones with disdain that deepened at the amused smile on Billy's lips.

"You really do believe that, don't you?"

"What can I say, I really don't think the Super Skrull was lying to Teddy about that."

"Oh, so that's your proof? That 'the Super Skrull said so'?"

Billy sighed, not caring much for Tommy's baby-voice.
"Everything else he said checked out. And how else do you explain us, Tommy? Theidentical looks, the powers we have, having the same names as the Scarlet Witch's sons-"

"Doesn't mean it's true."

"Gee, Mr. Shepherd, I'm sorry to have missed your mountain of evidence against this theory." Billy growled. He was surprisingly closer to being done than Tommy, who was rethinking the whole issue far too many times. 

"So, what, we just hug and be all lovey-dovey? Be attached at the hip?" The speedster huffed. 
What was worse than the way Billy shrugged at him was that look not unlike pity in his eyes, like he couldn't see how Tommy failed to see something so obvious.

"That's not how family works, Tommy."

"Well, at least we agree on that." Tommy grinned quite smugly.

"We can start by getting used to each other." The mage suggested, only to have Tommy quirk a brow at him.

"That's your best strategy? 'Get used to each other'?"

"It beats being 'lovey dovey', doesn't it?"

"Pfft, what do you think I am, a part of the Brady Bunch?"

"No." Came the honest reply as Billy, tired of the debate, hung his bag on his shoulder and gave Tommy a look that made the speedster actually shift about uneasily.

"I think you're lonely."

Even for a speedster it took a while to recover from that statement, and by the time he managed to do so, Billy was already out the door.

"Ha! You read that from one of your mom's psychology books?!" 

No reply came. Tommy could hear Billy already socializing with the rest of the team, and cursed how he let the guy get under his skin.
Lonely? ...yeah, Tommy was lonely. And hearing that from that guy of all people, like he knew what it was like was sickening. To think that guy understood...

Tommy let out an incoherent growl and whipped his uniform against the wall. 

That was exactly why Thomas Shepherd didn't need family.

It didn't stop him from wanting one just the same.
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Submitted on
January 17, 2013
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