Summary: Billy and Tommy may be brothers, but that doesn't mean they love each other, or even like each other. Because when it comes down to it, they don't even know each other. And that's something that only time and effort can change.
This will be a collection of oneshots about everyone's favorite magical speedy twins, Wiccan and Speed.
The semi-weekly shopping trips that the Young Avengers made to the supermarket to keep their hideout stocked with snacks were usually uneventful, but everyone went on them anyway. One reason was it was the only way for each member to be reasonably sure that the foods they really wanted would be present when they wanted them. But the main reason was that it was a bonding kind of thing. Something that they could do where they could hang out and not have to worry about the stress of peoples' lives being in their hands, or having other people trying to kill them.
On one such excursion, Billy got a little more insight into his brother's old life, before the Young Avengers. Before juvie too. It brought about a string of small revelations, actually, things that Billy would never have guessed about Tommy, but at the end of it, Billy didn't feel like he knew his brother any better. If anything, he only had more questions once it was over.
It started with a teenage boy Billy didn't know catching his eye, when Billy and Teddy split off from the majority of their team to peruse the news stand, or more specifically, the comic books. The teen was a pretty good looking guy, not that Billy was checking him out or anything. He just noticed, the same way anyone would notice whether or not someone was attractive. And if said person was checking them out. Which Billy was pretty sure the other guy was, and promptly regretted making eye contact when the other teen raised an eyebrow, then grinned widely and strode over.
Billy quickly averted his eyes and moved closer to Teddy, hoping that the other teen would realize he was with Teddy and go away, but when was he ever that lucky?
"Tonino, you crazy cat. Where have ya been?" the teen asked, and Billy suddenly found an arm slung around his shoulders.
"Good move with the hair, by the way," said the teen, seeming oblivious to Billy's confusion. "I always said the old way was too conspicuous. But look at you, all spiffed up, but without a spec of swag? What's with that?"
"Sorry? But what?" Billy asked. Then he got enough presence of mind to duck away from the other teen's arm that was still around his shoulders.
"Who are you?" asked Teddy. Understandably, he didn't look pleased at the idea of some stranger going and acting overly familiar with his boyfriend.
The strange teen tilted his fedora further back on his head so that he could look up at Teddy without tilting his head back. "I'm his cousin."
"What?" asked Billy. "No you're not."
The teen made a motion toward his heart. "I'm hurt, cuz. What's with the denyin'?"
"I've never seen you before in my life," Billy told him.
The boy raised an eyebrow again then waited a second as if expecting something. "Okay, you're really sending me mixed messages, Tonino."
"What? No, I'm not –"
The boy lowered his voice slightly, but not to the point where Teddy wouldn't be able to hear him. "Is this a con? If it is a con, you should've signaled me, man, when I signaled you? Method acting's all fine and good, unless you've actually convinced yourself you're really gadje and given yourself amnesia, cuz."
"He's with me," Teddy said, putting a possessive hand on Billy's shoulder, a warning note in his voice.
"You're working a con together?"
"What?" Teddy and Billy asked at the same time.
"Huh?" the weird teen asked in turn.
Now it seemed, that everyone was confused.
"Tonino . . . cuz . . . You're confusing me, man. What gives?"
"I think you're mistaking me for someone else," said Billy. "My name's not –"
"Rajko? Cuz? That you?"
The teen, Rajko apparently, looked over as Tommy appeared from behind the magazine rack. "Whoa. Doubletake. Tonino?"
Tommy responded in some language that wasn't English, a sly smile spreading across his face. It was mirrored by Rajko's expression as the other boy moved forward to meet him and give him a bro fist.
"What just happened?" Teddy asked.
"He thought Billy was me," Tommy explained.
"And who is he?" asked Cassie. She, Vision, Eli, and Kate had just arrived, with Eli pushing their shopping cart.
"We're cousins," Tommy and Rajko said at the same time. Then Tommy added, "Guys, this is Rajko. Rajko, my . . . friends. Kate, Eli . . . Cassie, Teddy, and Billy."
Rajko looked at them sharply then looked sideways at Tommy. When he spoke, it was in that strange language again.
"What're they saying?" Billy asked the Vision softly.
"I'm afraid I do not know," Vision told him.
"But aren't you programmed to speak every language?" asked Kate.
"Every documented language. There remain a number of undocumented languages for which I am not programmed, such as indigenous tribal languages, or, as I believe is now the case, Romani dialects."
"Romani? Tommy's a gypsy?" Cassie asked loudly enough for the two teens who'd been jabbering at each other in another language to hear.
Tommy gave them a dark look, but Billy couldn't tell what he was really thinking. "I'm half Romani," he said at last.
Then his cousin said something else in Romani, and Tommy turned his attention back to him.
"That . . . That I did not know," said Billy. He was surprised, but he was also upset. It took him a few seconds to figure out what about. It didn't bother him that his brother was half gypsy. He wouldn't have cared if Tommy had been a full blooded gypsy either. What was annoying him was the fact that Tommy was chatting so easily with this Rajko guy, like they were old friends. Like they were family. Like he'd never chatted with Billy or any of the others on their team. "I didn't know he had any cousins either," he muttered.
"There is a distinct possibility that they share no blood ties," Vision informed him.
"Why?" asked Billy, lowering his voice. "You think because the Scarlet Witch is . . ?"
"No. Not because of that reason, but because the Romani have been known to refer to all other Romani as their cousins even if no blood relation exists," answered Vision.
That didn't make Billy feel any better. In fact, it made him feel worse for reasons that he couldn't explain. It wasn't that he begrudged Tommy the right to have friends or family. And he wasn't jealous of Rajko for being one or the other, or possibly both to Tommy. Well, maybe he was a little. Or more than a little. But that wasn't entirely it. It was more the fact that Tommy wouldn't acknowledge the possibility that he and Billy could possibly be family, yet here he was claiming someone who he might know for sure wasn't really a relative was his cousin.
And he was being kind of rude too, speaking in Romani in front of the rest of the team, knowing that none of them could understand what they were saying.
"Sorry to interrupt, Tommy, but we kind of need to get going," said Billy.
Tommy gave him a sideways glare but other than that didn't give any indication he'd heard, and continued talking with Rajko.
"Tommy?" Billy asked again. "Tommy!"
"Damn it Billy, give me a minute. I haven't seen Rajko in over a year."
"Actually, I've got someplace to be," said Rajko. "But when I saw your doppelganger there and thought it was you, I had to stop and say hey, ya know?"
Tommy responded in Romani. He said something that made Rajko laugh, then the other teen held open his arms, and Billy couldn't help but feel a bitter stab of envy as Tommy stepped willingly into his "cousin's" arms and hugged the other teen. And when Rajko took the fedora off his own head and set it on top of Tommy's and tilted it at a stupid angle before walking away amidst a lot of obnoxious clinking from all the stupid jewelry he was wearing. Billy was glad to see his ugly face leave.
"That looked . . . friendly," commented Teddy.
Tommy looked at him suspiciously. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Why does it have to mean anything? I was just making an observation," said Teddy.
"Is he really your cousin?" Billy wanted to know.
Tommy scowled. "I know what you're getting at, and no, Rajko and I are not together you pervs."
"That's not what I was asking," said Billy. "I just wanted to know if he's really your cousin."
Tommy gave him a dirty look. "Why would I say he was my cousin if he wasn't?"
"Because apparently that's what gypsies do," said Eli.
"Really Eli? Stereotypes?"
"We have kind of noticed that you haven't answered the question," said Eli. "You're just dancing around it."
"Better than tripping around it. Or tripping on MHG," said Tommy.
"So, you're not really real cousins with him, are you?" observed Cassie.
Tommy gave them all another dirty look. "Technically, no, we are not blood relatives. As far as Romanipen goes, yes, we are. Because we're tsera. Because he's the closest thing to prala I ever expected to have. And because he's never treated me like gadje even though the useless bastard who calls himself my father is gadje. Any other questions?"
"Yeah," said Eli. "What did you just say?"
Tommy threw his hands up in the air, looking disgusted.
"Well, I think it's cool that you're a gypsy," said Cassie. "And that you can speak the language fluently like that. I mean, I can barely speak English properly. I bombed my English test today. But you can speak gypsy-ish as well as English? You can't say that's not awesome."
A small smile curled Tommy's lips. "I was actually speaking Romani."
"Well, it's a beautiful language. I love the way it sounds," said Cassie. "Maybe you could help Vision pick it up. He's not programmed for it."
"I am aware of a number of words from that language, even if the syntax, conjugation, and a large amount of vocabulary are not present in my databases," said Vision, sounding almost insulted. "For example, Romanipen is Romani philosophy and spirit. Tsera: family. Prala: brother. And gadje: non-Romani."
Billy turned his face away, feeling sick with envy. Prala meant brother? He didn't remember the exact sentence that Tommy had used that word in, but he could guess what the context had been. Tommy considered Rajko his brother. Even though they weren't related by blood. Not that Billy really had room to talk. A DNA test wouldn't exactly be conclusive proof that he and Tommy were brothers, but that didn't mean anything. They were brothers. Billy knew they were. They were twins. Two lost souls that had been born side by side once, but separated when they'd been reincarnated, or when they'd been set free. Billy wasn't exactly sure of the details, but he was sure that it was true. Tommy was his brother. But Tommy refused to believe it. And instead he acknowledged some weird looking gypsy teen as his brother. Some weird looking gypsy teen that didn't look anything like him.
"So, that Raichu guy –"
"Rajko," Tommy corrected Cassie.
"He was pretty cute. Is he seeing anyone?"
Tommy laughed and shook his head. "Sorry Cassie, but Rajko's married."
"What? But he's only like eighteen!"
Tommy shrugged. "Seventeen, actually . . . next month."
Cassie gaped. "But . . ."
"It's the Romani way," Tommy explained. "And don't we have somewhere we need to go?"
Tommy motioned toward Billy. "He said we needed to get going. Like I was holding you guys up or something."
"We should go check out and get this stuff back to base," said Kate. "We've all got stuff to do tonight."
"I don't," muttered Tommy. "I should have gone with Rajko."
"You do too," Billy said quickly.
"Have something to do," said Billy. "You should come to dinner with me. At my house."
Tommy looked at him suspiciously. "What's the catch?"
"What? There's no catch. Why do you think there has to be a catch?" Billy asked.
"There's always a catch," said Tommy.
"No there's not," argued Billy. "I'm your family too, you know."
Tommy still looked suspicious.
"Fine, you know what? Just forget it," said Billy. "You want to come instead, Teddy?"
Teddy looked back and forth between Billy and Tommy. "You know I always like coming over, Billy, but I think Tommy should really get dibs this time."
"But Tommy doesn't want to," said Billy sullenly.
"I never said that," said Tommy.
"You didn't not say that."
"I was too busy trying to figure out why you were suddenly up and inviting me to your house," said Tommy.
"Because you're my brother."
"Assuming I believe that, then I've been your brother for a couple weeks. You've never invited me over before. So you can see why I'm a little suspicious that you suddenly are now," Tommy said.
"No, I really can't see why. So do you want to come or not?" demanded Billy.
"Are you going to tell me why you really want me there or not?"
"I already told you!"
"And I don't believe you!"
"Then don't come!" Billy said angrily. "I'm taking back the invitation."
Tommy glared at them all. "You guys don't seem to need me right now. So if no one has any objections, I'm just going to go catch up with my cousin? Any objections? No? Good. Bye."
There was a blur and then Tommy was gone. His fedora, which had come off as he sped away, drifting to the ground, was the only sign he'd ever been there at all.
"See? That reckless impulsiveness is exactly why I didn't want him on the team," said Eli.
Suddenly Tommy was back, snatching his fedora off the ground. "Yeah. I know. You didn't want me on the team. You only wanted to use my powers to bust your real teammate out of Super-Skrull prison. And you wonder why I think there's always a catch."
He put the fedora back on his head, held it there with one hand, gave them a mirthless smile, then promptly disappeared in another speed blur.
"Tommy, wait!" Billy shouted and tried to grab him, but Tommy was gone before his hand even moved.
"That was mean, Eli," said Cassie.
Eli had the grace to look at least a little bit ashamed.
"He's . . . he'll come back, right?" asked Billy.
Teddy put an arm around his shoulders and pulled him close. "Yeah. I think he will," said Teddy in the voice he used when he wasn't all that confident in what he was saying.
"I believe so as well," said Vision. "His comment earlier indicated that he does believe you to be his brother, and I do not believe hearing Eli say that he does not want him on the team for a second time will deter him from claiming the place that he did earn on this team, or his place beside his brother."
"What?" asked Billy. "What comment? When did he say he thought we are brothers?"
"When he said, in regards to Rajko, 'Because he's the closest thing to prala I ever expected to have.' Expected being the key word in that sentence. Indicating that something has changed since. That something being you, Billy," said Vision.
Billy felt a little better. Not a whole lot better, because, well, what Tommy had said was kind of true. They had only busted him out of juvie because they'd wanted to use him. Things had obviously changed for Billy since finding out that Tommy was his long lost twin brother, but if Billy hadn't believed that . . . he couldn't guarantee that he wouldn't want to turn Tommy back over to the authorities like Eli wanted to, even though he did owe the other teen an amazing, unpayable debt for saving his boyfriend. It made it seem like what Tommy said was justified. That there always was, and always would be a catch whenever anyone tried to do anything for him, invited him anywhere, or acted nice to him. And Billy didn't want that to be true. Especially since it seemed like Tommy was starting to believe, and that had to be the first step toward them becoming real brothers again.
"Are you sure this whole him being half gypsy thing doesn't throw a wrench into your theories about him being your brother?" asked Eli.
"Why would it?" asked Billy.
"Actually," said Vision, "I believe that it actually supports Billy's theory."
"How so?" asked Teddy.
"According to my records, the Scarlet Witch was the daughter of Magneto, who is Jewish, and his wife Magda, a gypsy who he met during the second World War," said Vision. "The displacement of your souls seems to have a certain symmetry to it."
"Me being reborn into a Jewish family, and Tommy being reborn as a gypsy," said Billy, feeling another piece of the metaphorical puzzle fall into place. "Add that to the list of impossible coincidences."
"Um . . ." Cassie looked troubled about something.
"What is it, Cassie?" Vision asked.
"Well, Tommy said his cousin Rajko is sixteen, right?"
"Right," Vision said.
"And Tommy's sixteen too, right?"
"Yeah," said Billy.
"So . . . So do you think that Tommy's already married too?"
(In my headcannon, Tommy's part gypsy. It would make sense, since Wanda and Pietro were of Jewish and Romani descent, and Billy ended up being born into a Jewish family. It stands to reason that Tommy would get the Romani blood.)