Disclaimer: I DO NOT own Masters of the Universe. They all belong to Mattel, Mike Young Productions, and Image Comics. So don't sue. All thoughts are in ''. Also, even though they're saying Queen Marlena of the new MOTU is not from Earth, I'm gonna say she is.

Giving Up

It was the wee hours of the morning at Eternia's Royal Palace. A figure walked down the hallways, looking at his surroundings and . . . silently saying goodbye. 'Goodbye, walls,' he thought to himself. 'It was nice knowing you.'

He had said goodbye to his loved ones earlier. Or rather, the people who USED to be his loved ones. Under normal circumstances, he would be more or less the LAST person to be out of bed, not the first. Nor would he ever THINK of doing what he was about to do.

But on this day, the circumstances were anything but normal.

Prince Adam slowly made his way through the palace, looking around his home for what he hoped would be the last time. 'This isn't home anymore,' he thought sadly. 'It hasn't been since . . . that day.'

He was of course thinking of his sixteenth birthday, the day that everything about him, his life, and the whole planet of Eternia had changed. For the worse. It was the day that Skeletor's minions had finally breached the Mystic Wall, where his father, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, and all the Defenders had imprisoned them there all those years ago. Man-at-Arms (or Duncan, as was his real name) had taken him to Castle Greyskull where the Sorceress told him that the time had come for him to fulfill his destiny as He-Man. Naturally, he didn't believe it at first. After all, what did he know about war? In all his training sessions with Teela, he was barely able to hold his own, so what made this crazy woman think he could protect Eternia? However, when the villains had attacked the palace, he finally realized the truth. Or part of it at least. He had thought she was crazy when she told him that the Mystic Wall had been breached, but now he knew that she was telling the truth. However, he still didn't believe the part about He-Man. He and Man-at-Arms joined King Randor, Teela, and the Defenders in trying to stop Skeletor's forces. It was only when his father had been carried away by one of Beast Man's griffins that he finally decided to at least TRY and become this He-Man character. But as he ran towards Greyskull, Teela, his best friend, said, "He's turning tail!" After he had gotten the Sword of Power and become He- Man for the first time, he managed to help the others, whom he deemed the Masters of the Universe, and saved his father from Skeletor's clutches. But it did not come without a price. In the aftermath of that first battle, his father, as well as Teela, had been upset about Adam's running off. The Sorceress had ordered him that his identity as He-Man had to remain a secret. That meant that when they scolded him, there was no way he could tell them the truth. And as time went by, He-Man continued to consistently thwart Skeletor's mad schemes to capture Eternia, but in so doing, everyone's opinion of Prince Adam sank lower and lower. The only ones who knew his secret were the Sorceress, Man-at-Arms, and Orko, the court jester (who had found out by accident), but he found no comfort in that. The fact of the matter was his own family and friends had abandoned him. "I knew I should have never gone to Greyskull," he said to himself, "and got that stupid sword."

As Adam made his way through the palace, Cringer, his pet tiger (and secretly known as Battlecat) purred as he walked beside his master. Adam looked at him with a sad expression and said, "Sorry, boy. I have to do this. Take care of them for me, will ya?" He scratched his pet behind his ear and walked into a room. Cringer meowed sadly as he stood outside.

The room Adam now stood in was a room full of medicines and all kinds of medical stuff. He searched through them for something to use. Finally, he found a vial of poison, the only one in the room. This wasn't something that would kill him immediately. It would gradually take his life away, killing him within an hour or so. He sighed and said, "Better than nothing. Unlike me. I AM nothing." As he took the top off, there seemed to be two conflicting voices inside of his head.

One of them: 'No! Don't do this! You can't do this! You're too important!'

The other: 'Go ahead. Do it. Nobody cares about you anymore. They probably never did in the first place! Nobody cares about Prince Adam. All they care about is He-Man, He-Man, He-Man!'

Adam seemed to hesitate as he heard the voices in his head. Finally, he said, "My own parents think I'm nothing but a lazy coward. And my best friend has abandoned me for my alter ego."

The first voice: 'Please, stop! If you do this, Skeletor will conquer all of Eternia!'

Adam said, "Let him. I don't care. Not anymore." And with that he drank the poison. Once he did, he collapsed on the floor, feeling his life slowly slipping away.

Cringer meowed as he stood outside of the room, not knowing what his master was doing. Orko was floating through the hall when he saw the green tiger standing in front of the door, never taking his eyes off of it. The little jester approached him and said, "Hi, Cringer! Why are you standing out here?" Cringer purred sadly and Orko turned the doorknob. "Why's this locked? Normally, it's never locked unless someone's in there. And usually, there's nobody there at this hour."

Without knowing why, Orko decided to try unlocking the door with his magic, curiosity overtaking him. For once, his spell worked. But when Orko floated through the door, his eyes widened with shock and fear. "Adam!" he screamed as he floated over to him.

Meanwhile at Castle Greyskull, the Sorceress was asleep on her throne. She woke up with a start, a feeling of dread coming over her. She then had a vision of what was taking place at the palace and her jaw dropped with horror. "Adam!" she yelled.

Back at the palace, Teela was slipping on her boots when Orko suddenly burst in without knocking, screaming, "Teela! Teela!

She scolded, "Orko, what's the meaning of . . . this?" It was then that she noticed the look of panic on whatever part of his face that was visible. She then asked worriedly, "What's wrong?"

"It's Adam! He's poisoned himself!"

"What?" she asked as she shot to her feet. Teela couldn't believe this! Did he just say what she thought he said?

Man-at-Arms was walking towards his lab when his adopted daughter ran into him with Orko. Before he could ask her what the meaning of this was, Teela said, "Father, come quickly to the infirmary! Adam's poisoned himself!"

Duncan just looked stunned. The three of them headed toward the infirmary. As they did, Man-at-Arms mentally berated himself. 'I should have known Adam would attempt something like this. The pressure of being He-Man was finally getting to him!'

Then he heard a voice inside his head. The Sorceress was speaking to him telepathically. 'Man-at-Arms, send Adam and Teela to Castle Greyskull. Explain the situation to Adam's parents and bring them here as well.'

'Will do, Sorceress.'

Meanwhile, Teela thought to herself, 'Please, Adam, don't leave me. I know you're a coward, but I could never forgive myself if I never got the chance to tell you how much I love you.'

When they entered the infirmary, Adam was still lying on the floor dying. Cringer was beside him, having never left him even for a second. He meowed in sadness as the other three came into the room.

Man-at-Arms checked for a pulse. There was one, but it was weak. He then said, "Teela, take him to Castle Greyskull. I'm going to get the King and Queen and bring them shortly."

As she tried to keep herself from crying or sounding weak, Teela asked, "Why Greyskull?"

"Just do it!" He then ran out as Teela carried Adam's near-lifeless body.

She whispered to herself, "Please hold on, Adam."

Teela raced toward Castle Greyskull on a Wind Raider. Cringer was with them. When she got there, the Sorceress was waiting. Teela approached her and said, "Adam. He's . . ."

"I know," she said gently. "Come."

They entered a room and Teela gently laid Adam on a table. The Sorceress ran a wave of magic over him and shook her head. She then said, "I'm going to have to take him to another part of the castle. Wait here."

Teela nodded as the Sorceress levitated the table and Adam away. Normally, she would argue about being left out of something like this, but she knew that now was not the time to argue. Her best friend's life was hanging in the balance. Cringer meowed. Teela scratched him behind his ear and said, "You worried about him too, Cringe? I know how you feel."

Man-at-Arms, along with King Randor and Queen Marlena, were heading to Greyskull. When they got there, the drawbridge opened and they entered, the drawbridge closing behind them. The King asked worriedly, "Why would Adam try to kill himself?" His wife was clinging to him tightly, shivering as tears stained her face.

"I'm . . . not certain," said Duncan. But the truth was, he knew perfectly well why. He also knew that if the Sorceress still insisted on them remaining ignorant, there would be no stopping Adam from trying this again. And if there were a next time, they might not be able to save him.

When they found Teela, she was standing there alone, looking nervous and petting Cringer. King Randor approached her and asked, "Where's Adam?"

"I'm not sure," she admitted. "But whatever the Sorceress is doing, I hope it works."

The Sorceress had taken Adam to the place where the Crystal Orb was. She raised her arms to the sky and chanted, "Spirits of the Elders, hear my cry, take the poison from this boy, and give him new life!"

The Orb lit up, and astral images of the Elders of Eternia surrounded the Sorceress and Adam. They sent magic into Adam's body, removing the poison from him. When it was done, a male Elder said, "It is done. The boy will live, but he needs rest. Now, take him." The Sorceress nodded as the Elders disappeared, their essences traveling back into the Crystal Orb.

The King, the Queen, Teela, Cringer, and Duncan waited. The Sorceress then came back into the room, levitating Adam, who was still on the table. She answered the unspoken question.

"He's going to be alright. He just needs to rest. Take him home and wait."

Man-at-Arms frowned. Before anything could be done, he said, "Wait, Sorceress. Can I talk to you a minute? Somewhere private." The anger in his voice was obvious and the Sorceress knew it. She nodded. As she led him away, Duncan said to the others, "Wait here."

When she was certain their conversation wouldn't be heard, the Sorceress said firmly, "I know what you're thinking, Man-at-Arms, and the answer is no."

"They need to know, Sorceress. They HAVE to know."

"No! I will not allow it! I CANNOT allow it!" Man, was she stubborn!

Duncan frowned and said, "Sorceress, you know just as well as I do that this is one argument you're never going to win! Keeping your own daughter's destiny secret is one thing, but the fate of Eternia, as well as Adam and He-Man's own fate, depend on this! He-Man is the reason Adam poisoned himself. He-Man is the reason Adam has felt abandoned. He-Man is the reason Adam thinks he's a nobody. Who's to say he won't try to kill himself again? You know he will! If he can't trust his own parents, his best friend, with this, then who can he trust? No one! That's the answer, and you know it!"

The Sorceress hated to admit this to herself, but she knew he was right. If Adam DID try to kill himself again, but most of all, if he SUCCEEDED, then not only would Adam die, but He-Man would as well. And then, there would be no one to stop Skeletor from capturing Greyskull, taking all the Power of Eternia, and ultimately ruling with an iron fist.

Finally the Sorceress sighed and said, "Very well."

The others were waiting and watching over Adam's resting body when Duncan and the Sorceress came back in. Man-at-Arms said, "Teela, Your Majesties, there is something we have to tell you."

"What is it?" asked the King. "Does it have to do with Adam's condition?"

"Well, it does have to do with Adam," confessed Man-at-Arms. But before he could say more, the Sorceress placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Allow me," she said. Seeing the look in her eyes, he nodded. She stepped up to the three people in the room and said, "What I'm about to tell you is something that, perhaps, should have been said a long time ago." She took a deep breath. She then said, "What I'm trying to tell you is that Adam and He-Man . . . are one and the same."

As expected, the King and Teela gasped in disbelief. Queen Marlena merely smiled weakly. She said, "I always suspected that."

However, Teela's shock suddenly turned to anger. She screamed, "That lying jerk! He never told me! All this time, and he never told me? He makes me think he's a lazy coward, and then he tries to kill himself? I can't believe he'd hurt me like that! The moment he wakes up, I'm gonna beat him to a pulp!"

"YOU WILL DO NO SUCH THING, YOUNG LADY!" yelled the Sorceress with an anger that surprised everyone, even Duncan. Frightened, Cringer hid behind the King and Queen. Finally, the Sorceress turned away in shame. "Teela," she said, "do not blame him. If there is blame to be placed on anyone, it is to be on me. I ordered him never to tell anyone. For if Skeletor and the Dark Forces were ever to gain such knowledge, it would bring grave harm upon all of you. If Skeletor knew that Adam and He-Man were one and the same, he would have used all of you just to hurt him. And the pain that would cause him would be much worse than any pain Adam could ever inflict on you through his lying."

"But Adam was always thought of as a coward," said Randor in disbelief. "You would make my own son act like a coward, just to protect all of us?"

"I did not tell him to act like a coward," said the Sorceress. "I merely told him to keep his identity a secret. But I never suspected that he would try to kill himself when he felt abandoned."

Everyone shuddered with guilt when she said "abandoned." "So, who else knows?" asked Marlena.

Man-at-Arms answered, "Just the Sorceress, myself, and . . ." He looked like he was about to regret what he was going to say next. Finally, he said, "Orko."

"ORKO?" The three of them asked in disbelief.

The Sorceress chuckled. She seemed to have been expecting that. She said, "Yes. He found out by accident."

They then heard a moaning. Everyone turned to see Adam stirring. Adam opened his eyes and asked, "Am I dead?"

"Adam!" exclaimed Teela in relief. She then went over and hugged him.

Adam saw that he was in Castle Greyskull. He saw the Sorceress, Man-at- Arms, his parents and Cringer. He smiled as he felt Teela hugging him. Then anger flashed as he remembered how she had abandoned him. Who did this girl think she was? Since when did she care about him? Just yesterday, she was scolding him, calling him lazy, worthless, everything that told him he was unimportant. And now, she was hugging him like she cared? And his own parents, who had also abandoned him, were smiling warmly as if they cared about him? He quickly and angrily pushed her away, jumped off the table, and screamed, "GET AWAY FROM ME! ALL OF YOU! DON'T TOUCH ME, YOU UNCARING DEMONS!" Everyone looked scared and hurt at what he was saying, even the Duncan and the Sorceress. Adam pointed an accusing finger at the Sorceress and continued to rant. "AND YOU! WHY DIDN'T YOU LET ME DIE?" He took some deep breaths and said, "I know why you saved me. You want my own parents, my EX-best friend, to torture me forever, don't you? You want me to be miserable, don't you? Well, I'll tell you right now, I am going to keep trying to kill myself until I succeed. One way or another, I'm going to end my own misery forever, so that no one will ever scold me again. And there is nothing any of you can do to stop me!"

They were all scared at this new side of Adam they had never seen. Finally, King Randor said, "You stop this nonsense at once, Adam! Or should I say He-Man!"

Adam immediately froze. He nearly went white when what his father had said sank in.

Randor said, "Yes, we know. Duncan and the Sorceress just told us. Look, we're sorry for making you feel unimportant, but you have to realize that we do this because we love you. No matter how lazy, how cowardly you make yourself out to be, no matter how angry I get at you, there is nothing that can make me or your mother stop caring about you. Why? Because you're our son."

Seeing Teela there, Adam turned away and said, "Go ahead and say it, Teela. I know you want to. I always told you I wasn't a coward, but I guess I really was one all along." He sounded like he was crying as he said, "I KNEW I should have never gotten the Sword of Power! I KNEW I should have never become He-Man! Then, I would have never been abandoned!" He slammed his fist on the table he had been laying on as tears rolled down his face.

Teela approached him, put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Adam, what you did was not cowardice."

"Yes it was! Becoming He-Man was the worst mistake of my life! You forgot about me and fell in love with him!"

"But, Adam, you and He-Man are the same person!"

Adam finally turned to face her, still crying, and said, "No, we're not! He-Man is strong, brave, fearless. Heck, he can do just about anything! But me? I can't protect myself, much less the ones I love." He then said, "Look, Teela, I know this sounds silly, but I love you. I've always loved you. But you deserve better than me! You have every reason to put me into the back of your mind and forget I even existed. There's no way you could possibly love me. So I'm telling you right now, forget me, let me die, and find someone better. Someone who's like He-Man. Someone who's not me."

Tears finally began to fall down Teela's face. She said, "But, Adam, I want YOU! I NEED you!"

"No, Teela, you don't. You need He-Man, or someone like him."

Marlena then cut in. "But, Adam, there's NOBODY who's like He-Man! And without Adam, He-Man CAN'T exist! As we used to say back on Earth, you and He-Man are two sides of the same coin! Neither of you can exist without the other!"

Teela then said, "Look, Adam, I know I'm supposed to be this tough warrior girl, but I want you to know that despite what I've always said, I love you."

"I appreciate that, Teela," said Adam with a weak smile. The smile disappeared before he continued. "But somehow, I still feel I need reassurance."

Teela then planted a deep kiss on his lips, stunning him. The King and Queen looked on in surprise. The Sorceress smiled and Duncan looked on, not knowing what to think. Would this interfere with Teela's destiny? He then heard her voice in his head, 'No, this will not interfere. They're also destined to be together.' Man-at-Arms looked at the Sorceress who smiled and winked at him. He couldn't help but smile back.

When Teela let go, she smiled and asked, "Is that reassurance enough?" Adam merely blushed.

All of a sudden, Stratos' voice came through Duncan's communicator. "Man- at-Arms, Skeletor's forces are heading toward the palace. With the King and Queen gone due to Adam's attempted suicide, he must have figured it would be an easy capture. We're trying to hold them off."

Duncan responded, "Teela and I will join you shortly." He broke the link and said, "Let's go." He then pulled out Adam's sword, which he had brought with him, and said, "He-Man might be needed."

Adam took his sword and looked at it hesitantly. Before he could object, Randor said, "Go. We'll cover for you." Adam smiled as his father winked at him.

Adam then began his transformation.

"BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL!"

"I HAVE THE POWER!"

King Randor, Queen Marlena, and Teela looked on in astonishment as Adam transformed into He-Man and Cringer became Battlecat. They never would have believed it had they not seen it. As He-Man sat on Battlecat, he asked Teela with a smirk, "Need a lift?"

He offered his hand and Teela took it, still amazed at what she had just seen. They then headed towards the battle, Man-at-Arms close behind. King Randor, Queen Marlena, and the Sorceress looked on smiling.

As Battlecat ran toward the scene of battle, He-Man thought, 'Maybe things are looking up after all.'

THE ENDHe He