Alt Title: Why Tommy is my favorite Young Avenger. Put under a cut because this thing is long.
The first time they meet him they break him out of juvie. Everyone knows this. What I don’t think many people see the first time they read, what the kids didn’t pay attention to, was what he said.
They’re all caught up on saving Teddy. So when Tommy starts getting back at the people who had been torturing him they stop him.
Nate got a pass for killing Kang because he was a bad guy. He did it to save the universe, or try to. Tommy was just defending himself, lashing out at the people who hurt him.
So he joins the team, working against what the doctors were trying to do to him. And yet, he’s never really accepted in the team. He doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, doesn’t talk about his feelings like the rest of them because that would have been weakness in his juvie. So he’s just pushed off to the side while they have their whole team network.
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care. That he doesn’t try to help in a way that he sees as safe.
And he really does care about them. He layers everything under snark, trying to keep a shield up because he knows that people can and will hurt him. But he tries to protect them from the darkest side of their jobs.
And he doesn’t have anyone to help him work through his issues. Coat is the closest person who really cared about him, and she’s a bit crazy. It’s not like he doesn’t try to make connections in his own safe and snarky way. Right after he gets broken out he’s trying to play by the rules that the Young Avengers set. Then Logan comes up, changes them, and gives him positive reinforcement about this. Look at his face when Captain America stops him.
He couldn’t care less about that crazy witch kid’s story about how they’re twins, he’s just trying to not screw up and get shoved right back in his hole to get turned into a weapon. And later, when he met the Maximoffs, he accepted more than just the crazy witch kid’s family story. Maybe not because he believed Magneto, but he wanted a family who wanted him.
Living with the Kaplans must have been hard. Mrs. Kaplan is a therapist, Mr. Kaplan a surgeon. He hasn’t exactly had the best experience with either in his life. Plus they have to have messed up some time and got called Billy. And the fact that he’s living in a home with a family who loves their son and accepted everything about him when something is keeping him from his own.
He wants a family who wants him, which is why he’s trying his best to get on Magnetos’ side. Even snarking at Pietro when he took Billy could be seen as him trying to emulate someone who might take him in.
He’s keeping his teammate safe and having a bit of fun. Win win. After Quicksilver sets Billy down he keeps up with Pietro, playing the part of the annoying younger nephew all while keeping someone who has proven that he will go through his team to get his revenge. Keeping them safe while hiding behind a mask of “I don’t care.”
And at the beginning of CC he thought he was finally becoming a part of the team. He works well with them, they don’t mind him running off, they’re starting to accept him. Billy’s been all “you’re my brother” for a long time. Even saying that before the Avengers. Then he goes and breaks the trust and feelings of acceptance.
He’s joking around, and Billy goes and calls him the Team Sociopath, emphasis on the Sociopath. Look at his face there. The team’s all sad because they don’t agree with what Billy did. Tommy did. He looks like the rest of them because someone who was starting to accept him just shattered that illusion. And then Billy, the loveable little innocent airhead that he is wonders why Tommy’s being more of an ass later on.
The infamous cock-blocking scene. “Oh why did he have to do that? Why did Tommy stop the kiss?” I think it shows his loyalty that he even showed up to save them. He went with the team to save someone who went from calling him ‘brother’ to ‘sociopath’ in two pages. He went to make sure they were okay, to break them out before the Avengers ran tests on Billy, probed him, kept him locked up to limit or even remove his powers. Because even though Billy is wishy-washy on what he thinks about him, he cares about his team, and doesn’t want anyone to hurt them.
This protectiveness also extends to Wanda and the Maximoffs. He may not have believed Billy, may not really believe Wanda or Magneto, but he finally has someone who wants to be a mother figure for him.
And hey, he can live with having someone care about him. Now look at his response to Scott in 8.
Then back to what happened to him.
The things that he said were things that either happened to him, or to people in his juvie. The doctors didn’t care about mutants, tried to weaponize them, and Tommy doesn’t want that to happen to everyone else. He was glad that Billy didn’t let them test him because, in his experience, once someone starts they don’t stop.
He’s a kid who’s trying to overcome what happened to him, to prove that he’s more than just a weapon while trying to figure out his place in the world. He stayed with a team that doesn’t include him, that treats him like he’s just a bad boy without any real morals. They don’t let him into their circle of information. They don’t try to look past his mask, to see what’s really wrong with him. He knows that they’re not going to understand what happened to him there, and that they didn’t even care about that when they broke him out. And despite all of this, despite the fact that he could have just ran when the kree/skrull fight was over, he came back. He tries to brush off their unthinking insensitive remarks while keeping himself between them and the world as best he can.
Despite everything that has happened to him, he can still smile, still laugh and joke and snark with the team. He’s one of the strongest on the team emotionally despite the fact that he seems a bit stunted. The doctors were trying to remove his personality, weapons don’t feel things. And that’s why I love Tommy the most.