Summary: Their personalities, their beliefs, their souls are like mirror images of each other, but one's a little broken.
Character Bashing Disclaimer: Any perceived character bashing was not done out of malice on my part. I was trying to write from Tommy's and Billy's limited POVs. And I know that I did write Tommy's opinions of Eli and Cassie as pretty venomous ones, but I think he's allowed to be as venomous as he wants toward people who think he should be locked back up in juvie and experimented on again. And both Cassie and Eli have made comments in the comics about how they shouldn't have broken him out of juvie. Comments I do not and will never agree with, and considering that in this case juvie can't really be separated from whatever program Tommy was put through to try to turn him into a living weapon, I cannot believe Tommy would agree with their comments either, and have written him to reflect that. I don't mean for this to be a personal attack against anyone's favorite Young Avengers.
Tommy is selfish.
(That's not necessarily a bad thing.)
It's a common trait in people who have had to struggle to survive. Everything was about living through the day and everyone was a potential obstacle to that in juvie. Even now that he's out, there's a part of Tommy that doesn't recognize that, or comprehend that things are any different on the outside than they were in there. And in some ways they're not, especially in the life that he's chosen. Or the life that's chosen him, perhaps it would be more accurate to say.
There are still plenty of people trying to kill him. The only difference is that their goal is to do it all in one go, and not just murder him by inches like his old doctors. There are still people who want to tear him down. Like the Avengers who want to disband the Young Avengers (the only people willing to stand up for Tommy, to keep him from going back). Like Eli (who wants to get rid of Tommy and send him back)
(Tommy would rather die than go back.)
And he'll do whatever he has to now to stay free. Everything is about staying free just one more day, and everyone is a potential obstacle to that. Even his teammates.
(Yeah, I'm looking at you, Eli. You're always so pissed about how your grandfather was experimented on, and imprisoned, and tortured, treated like something less than human and locked away, you fucking hypocrite.)
(Yeah, I'm looking at you, Cassie. You think I didn't hear about what you said to Vision, about how breaking me out of that torture chamber was a mistake made by stupid teens on a power trip, you filthy traitor?)
(Yeah, I'm looking at you, Billy. I know how close you were to leaving me in there and skipping down to the next name on the list, looking for someone more powerful. I know damn well that you only busted me out for my powers, and I have no delusions that you, any of you, are any different than my jailers, you damn phony.)
So Tommy puts himself and his own priority first. (Because it's not like anyone else is going to.)
Billy is selfless.
(And that's not necessarily a good thing.)
He puts himself in harm's way more than he should, leaps before he looks, doesn't think about the consequences his actions could have on him, or the effects they could have on the people who love him if something actually happened to him.
But that may be because nothing bad really ever has happened, and he's kind of naïve. (Yeah, being in the Cube and the Negative Zone sucked, but he never doubted that there would be a rescue.)
He's always been surrounded by people who he knew loved him, people who would do anything for him, and did he really have the right to do any less for them? Even if it meant getting hurt himself, even if it meant getting yelled at or grounded?
The bottom line for Billy is that he believes people are worth saving. (Worth fighting for. Worth getting hurt, and maybe even dying for.) Because he's seen the best of what the world has to offer, and it's bright enough to banish the glimpses of darkness he has gotten.
(Yeah, I'm looking at you, Teddy. I'm always looking at you because all my life I've prayed for someone like you, and sometimes I still can't believe I really found you.)
(Yeah, I'm looking at you, Kate. I can't look at you without remembering the girl in the cathedral who saved our bacon, who stood up to defend herself and us when everyone else was cowering in fear, and who did it wearing four inch heels.)
(Yeah, I'm looking at you, Tommy. Because I truly believe you're my brother, and I want you to believe like I do, that life can be wonderful.)
So Billy puts others first. (But trusts that those others will be there to catch him if he falls.)
Billy remembers feeling alone. A sense that something was missing. Someone was missing. A sickening jealousy when he looked at his younger brothers and somewhere deep inside, a part of him knew that's what he was supposed to have. That was what wasn't there.
He kind of knew that he was searching for someone. Someone who was supposed to be by his side, but wasn't. Someone who would complete him. At first he thought Teddy was that person. And Teddy kind of was. He complimented Billy perfectly, and having him by his side just felt so right and perfect, but that feeling still didn't go away. There was still someone else who was supposed to be with him but wasn't.
Tommy remembers days with no hope, all alone in endless darkness, crying out so many times for a hero. "I don't care who! I don't care how! Someone just get me out of here!"
Everything else, every dark thought, or feeling of loneliness was just icing on the cake. Another flavor of despair, but despair all the same, and by the end of it, he couldn't even sort them out anymore. He was waiting for someone. He was looking for someone. That was true enough. But when it was all said and done, he wasn't waiting for anyone in particular. He would have taken anyone.
The first time Billy saw Tommy something just clicked. Yes, this is it. This is who I've been looking for. I've finally found him.
He just knew.
He just knew that Tommy was connected to him somehow, even if he didn't know how. And when the Super-Skrull offered him an explanation, and way to lay claim to Tommy being his, he latched onto it with both hands and refused to let it go. Even if it meant accepting the stigmata of being related to the Scarlet Witch. Even if it meant acknowledging a genocidal terrorist like Magneto as a relative. Because Billy knew that he and Tommy belonged together, and he was prepared to move heaven and hell to make sure they stayed together.
The first time Tommy saw Billy he didn't realize how much they looked alike. It had been too long since he'd seen his own reflection, and the angles and lines of his face had changed since then. He didn't recognize Billy as his long lost brother.
If he felt something at the sight of him, something good, he took it as elation at finally being freed.
Tommy wanted to stay with the Young Avengers after he got out. His reasons were practical. The Young Avengers had been the ones to free him. As long as he did what they wanted, he could stay free. They, more than anyone else, were the most likely ones to back him up if someone tried to put him back.
He wasn't deluded enough to think that they'd freed him in the first place out of the goodness of their hearts. They'd only gotten him out because they'd needed him to take Teddy back from the Super-Skrull. They were using each other, but Tommy didn't see anything wrong with that. Both side benefitted. Tommy got to go through a day without getting stuck with needles, cut up like a lab rat, or having questionable chemicals flushed through his veins, or scalpels thrust into his skin. They got their half-Skrull, half-Kree all important team member back. Everyone was happy. Everyone won.
And as long as Tommy stayed useful and didn't do anything that the team was blatantly opposed to, they said he could stay with them. And since they were the only ones in the world who might stand between him and the people who wanted to imprison him, he was all for staying with them.
Family and friendship were stupid ideals for stupid children, none of that factored into his decision. It was all clear cut, all rational, all calculated.
And yeah, maybe he was a little curious about the stranger who everyone said had the same face as him, but that wasn't why he stayed.
A mutually beneficial relationship gave him a slight amount of security, and protection against being sent back.
Family . . . family only ever let him down.
Billy wanted Tommy to stay with the Young Avengers after he got out. His reasons were personal, but so freaking what?
Tommy was his brother. His twin. Literally, the other half of his soul.
And he'd been through so much. Too much. More than anyone should ever have to, let alone a teenage boy.
Any hints from their team that returning Tommy to juvie might be in everyone's best interest were met with a promise: that Wiccan would make sure said hinter ended up in the cell next to Tommy's, and would be left behind when he went back to get Tommy out again.
He would have done it too. Because he didn't see how anyone could think sending Tommy back to that was right by any definition of the word. And if anyone had a different opinion, they could have that different opinion while strapped down to the same lab table they wanted Tommy back on.
"He restrained himself and didn't kill the people who'd been torturing him. He helped us when we needed help, and because of him, we got Teddy back. He's a good person, and he does not deserve to be sent back there. He's on the team, end of story."
Even without the family connection, Tommy had earned his place on the team, but Billy couldn't pretend that wasn't a factor why he wanted Tommy around. Because Tommy was the missing piece from his life, the person he'd been searching for as long as he could remember, and because Tommy was his family.
And if there was one thing that Billy was sure of, it was that family were the people who were supposed to be there for you no matter what. He knew that Tommy didn't believe that. That much was obvious just from looking into his eyes. It was like the ability to love and trust anyone had been beaten out of him, and no one had given him a reason to think otherwise. But Billy wanted to give him that reason. He wanted it so bad that it hurt.
And trust had to start somewhere. So Billy decided that it would start with him.
He would prove to Tommy that he was his brother. And that he'd never let him down.