Full Summary: When hit with an attack that leaves all the other Young Avengers and the Runaways on their knees, on the verge of suicide, and in a state of despair and self loathing, Tommy is left unaffected. Eli thinks it's because he's a sociopath, but Molly realizes the truth, and the truth is so much worse. Because the truth is that Tommy always feels that depressed and worthless.
When the Depressor's weapon went off it emitted some sort of pulse that filled the room with light and knocked all the Runaways and the Young Avengers off their feet.
A dizzying, disoriented feeling swept over Molly, but before she had time to dwell on it, another feeling swamped her. A horrible feeling. One that kept her from getting back to her feet like she normally would have after being knocked down. One that had tears streaming down her face as she realized how pathetic, and insignificant she was. And how much everyone hated her. How no one really liked her.
"The other Runaways . . . why do they even let me stay?" Molly whimpered, suddenly finding it hard to breathe. "I annoy them. I know I do. I can't do anything right. They have no reason to want me around."
"I'm damaged goods," whispered Hawkeye from right near Molly. "If they knew . . . they'd never look at me the same way again . . ."
"I betrayed them . . . They should have never forgiven me," sobbed Stature. "I can never make it up to them, they should never trust me again –"
"I let her down. She's dead now. All my fault," groaned Chase.
Molly could hear the others falling apart, but couldn't do anything about it. She couldn't even do anything to help herself, let alone them. Because she was weak. And far too young. No one could depend on her, all she ever did was mess up . . .
"Yes! Yes! Feast upon your own despair, fools!" crowed the Depressor. "None can withstand the weight of their own depression, their own inadequacies!"
"None plus one," said a remarkably calm sounding voice. Aside from the Depressor, Tommy was the only one left standing in the room. His usual smirk was still plastered on his perfectly sculpted face. Tommy was, as always, the living image of cool. How had someone like him ever even given Molly the time of day? How could she have been so stupid as to think someone that cool actually liked her, or even thought she was okay, or would want to be her friend?
Somewhere, deep inside her, Molly realized that these horrible thoughts weren't hers . . . or maybe they were hers, but only things she might have thought in passing, on her very worst days, and not thought seriously. Her self esteem wasn't anywhere near that low. The Depressor's weapon had done something to her. Done something to them all, that made them feel this way. But Tommy . . .
"Impossible!" The Depressor sounded floored.
Tommy sped so he was right in front of the Depressor and shoved him so hard that he flew into the wall. "Now, you're going to fix whatever you did to my friends, and you're going to fix it now!"
At that moment Wiccan let out a wailing cry, stealing Tommy's attention away from the super villain, right as the Depressor drew some sort of gun.
The beam that the villain fired from his gun hit Tommy directly and knocked him back several yards before he managed to stand against it and get traction off the floor.
"You may have managed to avoid the Depression Bombs, but now I have you!" jeered the Depressor. "A direct hit from the Depressor Gun will have you wallowing in angst and self pity for weeks, rather than the mere hour that your friends will suffer from! Fall to your knees and abandon all hope, foolish hero!"
"Question: Is this supposed to do something to me?" asked Tommy, not even looking phased now that he had his balance again.
"That – that's impossible!"
"I don't think that word means what you think it means," sneered Tommy, walking straight into the beam, through it, closing the distance between himself and The Depressor. "And now that I know your stupid weapon's going to wear off on its own . . ."
He disarmed the Depressor then punched him in the face and knocked him out. Seconds later, thanks to Tommy's super speed, the Depressor was hogtied with his own shoelaces.
Then Tommy wasted no time in blurring to Wiccan. Billy seemed to be one of the worst off, sobbing uncontrollably. Tommy seemed at a loss as to how to comfort his twin and tentatively rested a hand on his shoulder. "Bro? You okay?"
"T-T-Tommy . . . I'm s-s-s-sorry. D-distracted y-you –"
"Hey, it's fine," said Tommy. "I'm immune to his stupid ray gun things, it looks like."
"I'm a h-horrible brother. Horrible person. Horrible hero."
"No you're not."
"Are you trying to get me to compliment you? Because it's not going to work," Tommy told him.
"Sh-shouldn't compliment me. I'm terrible. I should just die –"
"Oh shut up, little brother," Tommy said, his voice wavering.
"IWantToDie. IWantToDie. IWantTo –"
Tommy punched Billy in the jaw, effectively shutting him up, but then looked shocked at himself and grabbed a handful of Billy's shirt and pulled his brother to him in a crushing hug. "Don't say that! Don't you ever say that, Billy! Just don't!"
Billy clung to Tommy, soaking his uniform in tears and snot, but Tommy took it in stride, patting Billy's head in a slightly awkward but comforting way, keeping half his attention on his brother, but letting his eyes flit around to the other incapacitated, angst-ridden heroes.
Molly tried to pull herself together. She tried to look like she hadn't fallen apart and turned into a mess that should have been swept under a rug or into the trash, never to see the light of day again. She wasn't sure that she succeeded. In fact, she knew she hadn't, because she was horrible and pathetic.
"Kate, no!" Tommy screamed suddenly, and there was a blur of green as he let Billy spill onto the floor and dashed to grab Hawkeye's wrists. There was a thin line of blood on one of her wrists, where she'd been trying to saw through her skin with the head of one of her arrows. "What in hell are you doing?"
"I can't take this anymore!"
"No, I can't take this anymore!" Tommy snapped and struck her in the side of the head, knocking her out. Then he streaked around the room, delivering the same treatment to everyone else, with the exception of Stature, who had shrunk down to the size of a action figure. She got a flick to the side of her head rather than a punch.
Then Tommy stopped in front of Molly and hesitated, maybe wondering if she would be okay without getting knocked out. She had stopped making those pathetic whimpering noises and voicing her own inadequacies out loud, so maybe Tommy thought that she was okay. But that wasn't actually the case. Molly knew she was a long, long way from being okay. The only reason she wasn't blubbering about how horrible a person she was, was that something had distracted her from her own depression. Something horrible, even more horrible than the thoughts that were running through her head. She lunged at Tommy and crushed him in a hug and tried to tell him how sorry she was, and that it was going to be okay, but her tears made her babble, and she knew she wasn't getting her point across.
"Hey, hey," Tommy said, stroking her hair gently. "It's going to be okay, Molly. This is going to wear off."
"N-N-No it w-won't!" Molly sobbed, because she'd worked out the horrible, horrible truth. "Y-You know it w-won't!"
"Yes, it will. I promise," Tommy told her. "Here's how we're going to fix this. You're going to take a little nap. And when you open your eyes again, it'll all be better. Okay? So just close your eyes . . ."
Molly felt her eyelids fluttering shut despite herself, and despite the fact that she knew Tommy's words weren't true. He probably thought they were, but then, he was only talking about her. "T-Tommy . . . I'm s-s-sorry . . ."
She would fix things. She would figure out a way, when she woke up and her own depression was gone. She would do whatever it took.
"Shhh. Just rest. I'll keep you safe."
And so Molly's last thought before drifting off, naturally since she'd overused her powers, not because Tommy knocked her unconscious, was a good, warm thought.
"That's your idea of containing the situation? Knocking us all out?" Patriot was growling when Molly woke up.
"Well, it was certainly better than knocking you all up," quipped Tommy. "Since, you know, most of you aren't my type."
"You think this is funny? You think this is some big joke?"
Molly opened her eyes and found herself still cradled in Tommy's arms. For brief moment she was very, very happy. That horrible depressing feeling was gone. Tommy was treating her specially. What was there not to be happy about?
But then she remembered.
Tommy was smirking at Patriot. "I think you're a big joke."
Patriot was on his feet standing over Tommy, and by default, Molly as well. The thunderous look on his face was a little scary and Molly tensed as Patriot snarled at Tommy. "You must have gotten one hell of a kick out of seeing us all like that, didn't you? Don't think we didn't notice you were the only one who wasn't affected!"
Tommy's smirk remained firmly in place, but now that Molly knew what it was hiding, his smirk didn't make her as happy as it once had.
"I guess I'm just special," mused Tommy. "Try not to be too jealous."
"Wow," said Patriot. "This cinches it. You really are a sociopath."
Molly only saw it because she was watching Tommy so intently. But she did see it, how his smirk cracked for a second, and his eyes turned different. More readable. And for just a split second she could see all that he was hiding behind them. She didn't know what a sociopath was, but she could tell that whatever it was, being accused of being one hurt Tommy even more than he was already hurt.
She sat up and flung her arms around Tommy and started sobbing.
"Whoa! Whoa, Princess! Are you . . . ?" Tommy patted her head again, sounding very concerned.
"I can't stand it!" Molly cried, clinging to him with all her might.
"I – uch!" Tommy gave a gasping noise.
"Molly, you're crushing him! Molly, stop!" Nico started trying to pry Molly off of Tommy, but though Molly loosened her grip until she knew she wasn't crushing Tommy anymore, she refused to let go of him completely.
"It's alright, Nico, she's not squeezing me so tight anymore," Tommy said. "Shh, Princess, it's alright. You're okay."
"I can't stand it!" Molly cried again.
"It will be okay. It will wear off soon, I promise."
"You might want to get one of your team to comfort her," Patriot said to Nico, or maybe to the Runaways in general. "As you've probably gathered from our conversation, and your own analysis, he really is a sociopath. I'm not sure how safe it is for her to be near him."
"Shut up!" Molly let go of Tommy and spun around to glare at Eli. "You shut up you stupidhead! Don't you dare be mean to Tommy! Don't you dare hurt his feelings like that anymore!"
"Do you know what a sociopath even is, little girl?"
"Hey, don't patronize her!" Chase snarled.
"Him being a sociopath means that he doesn't have feelings," Eli tried to explain. "That's why he wasn't affected by the Depressor's weapons like we were."
Molly glared at him, unable to believe how wrong the stupid boy had gotten it. She spun back toward Tommy, who saw her expression and shrank back slightly, misinterpreting her disgust and anger, and for a second, Molly could see the truth in his eyes again.
She grabbed a handful of Tommy's shirt because she could see he was thinking about running and getting out of there. "I can't stand it!" she shouted, feeling her tears welling up fast and threatening to close off her throat.
Tommy looked like a deer in the headlights. "Molly . . ." he said uncertainly, like he was dreading what she would say next, because he didn't know that she knew the truth.
Molly decided to fix that.
"I can't stand that you feel that way all the time!"
Stunned silence let Molly know that none of the others had figured it out until she screamed it. But that was no excuse for them. Not for Tommy's team.
"I can't stand that you let him feel that way all the time!" she continued, yelling so loud that her throat ached. "Tommy is good! He's nice! He's my friend and he doesn't deserve to feel that way! So why do you let him? Why don't you help him? Isn't he your teammate? Your family? Why?"
"Molly . . ." Tommy said again, and his voice actually cracked.
Molly started crying again flung her arms around Tommy, crushing him into another tight hug, and though she knew it had to hurt him, Tommy didn't say a word of complaint. In fact, he clung to her as tightly as he could, like she was a lifeline, and she could feel him shaking slightly.
"That's the real reason why the Depressor's weapons didn't affect you," Molly sobbed against Tommy's chest. "Because you always feel that horrible. And I can't stand knowing you feel that way because you don't deserve it, Tommy! You deserve to be happy! You're a wonderful person. I won't let you be sad anymore! I won't!"
She felt Tommy rest his head on top of her head and squeeze her even tighter. His shakes grew worse and Molly could tell that he was trying not to cry. Trying to be a guy and not show any emotion. But even the strongest guys couldn't keep everything bottled up all the time. And even though Tommy was very strong, he'd also been carrying a very heavy burden that had run his defenses down. The way that all the others had felt when the Depressor's weapons hit them was the way that Tommy felt all the time. Every single day. Horrible, crippling feelings, but feelings that Tommy was used to, so they hadn't affected him.
But having someone see through the walls that he'd put up was something new. And that turned out to be what finally brought Tommy to his knees.
"H-How did you know?" he asked. His voice cracked again. "How did you see? How did you know th-that's what it was?"
"I knew because I know you're a good person," said Molly. She glared at Wiccan and Hulkling who were standing behind Tommy, looking like they might try to jump in and comfort him when they had no right to do that. Tommy had been in so much pain this whole time, and they hadn't even noticed! Molly was mad at them for that. "I know you're not a social whatever because you're always looking out for me when our teams team up, and you're always nice to me, and you're my friend. If you didn't have feelings, and didn't care, you wouldn't be or do any of that. But you do have feelings. And I can't stand that your feelings are so hurt Tommy. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't see it before, Tommy!"
"I'm sorry too," Wiccan said.
"No one asked you! Shut up!" Molly shouted at him.
"Molly," Karolina chided.
"They're the ones who did this to him!" shouted Molly. "They're the ones who made him feel so bad! They don't deserve to call themselves his friend! They were too busy thinking he was a social whatever to see how hurt he was!"
"I know," said Wiccan miserably. "And I'm so, so sorry, Tommy. I don't know how I didn't see . . . Did . . . Did I cause this?"
"There's no proof that what Molly said is true," Eli said.
"Eli, look at him," whispered Stature. "Does he look like he's acting?"
Tommy, on the other hand, ignored Eli, which was good, Molly thought, because Eli was stupid and didn't know what he was talking about. Tommy answered Billy instead. "I was screwed up in the head months before I ever met you, little brother."
Molly watched Wiccan's face grow confused, then his expression changed to looking sick. "When you were in Juvie? The doctors? Did they –"
"I don't want to talk about this now," Tommy said, suddenly sounding angry. "Can we not talk about this now? Can we just get out of here? I'm hungry. I've been hungry for a long time. In fact I'm starving. Can we just go?"
"Yeah," said Nico, speaking for the Runaways. "We should clear out. Come on, guys."
Wiccan moved as though to help Tommy up. Molly stopped him with a glare and helped Tommy up herself, then seized his hand.
Tommy's expression softened a bit as he looked down at Molly, and for a second, Molly would have sworn that he actually looked okay. Like he didn't feel so horrible that if he fell down, he'd never want to get back up. And Molly was so proud to know that it was her who'd made him feel okay. Not Tommy's team. Not his twin. Her. Molly. And wasn't that just more proof that Tommy would be a better fit with the Runaways than the Young Avengers? Molly thought so.
And as she walked hand in hand with Tommy, Molly began scheming of ways to convince Nico to let her keep him.