Quick word from me. This is a six part story, with five main parts and one epilogue. It's set after Family Matters Part 6 but before the Civil War. All the characters mentioned remain the sole property of Marvel apart from those I have created myself. Enjoy! And feel free to let me know what you think.
Young Avengers - Phantasm Part 1 - Birthday Plans
He watched the footage again, his shining green eyes picking out all of the details that he could glean. She wasn't flying. She didn't go one to one with the monsters or aliens. She shot her arrows from a safe distance when she could. The others, oh they could fly or fight in close combat or change form, but not her. She was protected and kept back from the action. He could see the frustration in her eyes. He could almost smell it, the scent of restriction on her skin. One day soon, he was going to lick it right off of her.
"But it's his birthday!"
Eli peered over at his friend and tried not to smirk as Billy huffed over Tommy who just shrugged. The two had been arguing on and off since the white haired kid had joined the team about pretty much of anything. If Billy had an opinion, Tommy had the opposite one. If Billy did something, Tommy would complain about it.
"Yeah and I care because..." Tommy let out a snort and rolled to his feet. The two boys were exactly the same height and almost exact mirror images of each other, except for Tommy's bright white hair.
"He's your teammate! Don't you even care about that?" Billy asked in exasperation.
Tilting his head to the side as if he was giving it real thought, Tommy gave a bark of laughter and turned his back on Billy. "Nope. Besides, how d'you know it's really his birthday? That could just be what's on his *faked* birth certificate."
Billy narrowed his eyes and folded his arms, turning his back as well. "It's a date that he knows, one he's celebrated his whole life, and as we don't have an alternative date, we're going to use this one. And *I'm* going to make sure it's a birthday to remember."
"Good luck with that," Speed shot over his shoulder as he sauntered away. "Anyone need me, I'm gonna be a distant speck on the horizon." With that, he shot off at his highest velocity, almost knocking Kate and Cassie over on his way through.
"Woah!" Kate huffed, jumping back, but just ignored the wink she received from the speeding teenager. "What's his problem?"
"Breathing!" Billy sniffed, stomping to throw himself in a chair.
Cassie smiled and put her arms around Billy's shoulders. "He's still fitting in, he'll settle down. He's meant to be here. That's what Vision said, he's part of the team whether he likes it or not."
"And so's Teddy," Billy said defensively even if he relaxed a little bit. He'd never argued with anyone like he argued with Tommy and it bothered him sometimes that he could be so irked by someone he was meant to be so close to.
"Yeah, exactly," Cassie said brightly, giving him an extra hug before bouncing to her feet. "Speaking of Teddy, where'd he take Vision this morning?"
"They wouldn't say," Eli shrugged. "And I think it was more a case of Vision taking him rather than the other way around."
"Do you understand now?" Vision's clipped, soft yet still vaguely mechanical voice asked softly in Teddy's ear.
Standing at the foot of his father's statue, Teddy stared up into eyes he'd never see in real life. "But you have his memories," Teddy said quietly. "You must remember what it's like."
"I..." Vision turned slightly away from his friend to stare at a slightly smaller statue next to Captain Marvel's. "I have Iron Lad's neurological imprint. I can access his memories as part of that, yes."
If he hadn't known better, Teddy would almost swear he heard regret in those words. Laying a hand on his friend's shoulder, he smiled at the statue Wiccan had made of Ant Man for Cassie. "Didn't he have birthdays?"
Vision tilted his head slightly as he accessed the relevant files. "There are memories of annual celebrations of his life, yes."
"Well then," Teddy said with a smile.
"I have no birthday," Vision added quickly. "I was not born and so have no day in which to celebrate my existence in this world."
That struck Teddy as incredibly sad. His friend didn't have birthdays because he'd never been born. "Don't you know when you were created? That'd be kind've like a birthday."
"I know the exact date when cerebral activity began to function but how do I know if that was when I was made? What is your first memory? Iron Lad did not remember his birth, his memories began several years after the event."
"My first memory..." Teddy had to smile as the two of them began to wind their way out of the grounds of the Avenger's mansion and back to Kate's father's penthouse. "It's of my Mom. I'd scraped my knee and I can remember her picking me up and cuddling me to stop me crying."
"Iron Lad's first memory is of playing with a small dog," Vision offered as if it would make up for not actually having a childhood himself. "He was laughing. I can remember the joyful freedom of it."
"I had a dog!" Teddy laughed. "My Mom had a thing for the muppets so we called him Kermit. He was a black labrador. Man, we had fun." They were silent for a while, walking the busy sidewalks of New York shoulder to shoulder. "If you have so many of his memories, why not take Iron Lad's birthday?"
Pain flashed for a moment across Vision's features but it was gone as quickly as it had come. "No." It would hurt Cassie too much, he thought sadly. "I am not him. If I am to have a birthday, it should be mine."
"Well, why don't you share mine this time?" A dappy smile came over his lips as he said, "I think Billy's planning something. I don't know what but I can always tell when he's hiding something from me."
"I am sure it will be enjoyable."
Kate watched was Billy and Cassie started planning the surprise party. Huge sheets of paper were being dug out of her closet along with pens and colouring pencils. She'd offered to have a professional plan and cater it but Billy had said he wanted to do it himself because then Teddy would know how much he means to everyone. Secretly, she had something else planned on top but she didn't want to tell Billy, just in case he thought she was stealing his thunder, something she would never do.
Turning slightly narrowed eyes on the only other person in the room, Kate raised her eyebrows at Eli and folded her arms. "I think we need to talk."
"About what?" Eli glanced up, saw the look and had to use extreme willpower to keep the flinch off his face.
"Huh?" He blinked once then actually turned to give her his full attention. She was pissed about something, he could tell by the pinched expression and the fact that just the look in her eyes would make a lesser man run screaming for his mother. "What're you talking about? We won. Everyone walked away. Worst injury was a few scratches on a kid."
"And I spent the entire time at the back feeling like a spare part!" Kate growled. "I'm just as capable as the rest of you. More than, in fact, because I've actually been trained."
"Yeah and you're also powerless," Eli pointed out as if talking to a difficult child.
Narrowing her eyes even more, she poked a finger in his chest and pushed her nose right up to his. "Don't you dare use that condescending tone with me again. I am *not* powerless. I haven't been for a long time now. How *dare* you imply I can't look after myself."
"And if I punched you in the face?" Eli said. "Even without the powers, I'd smash it in."
In a quiet, dangerous voice, Kate told him, "You wouldn't get close. I'd have broken your wrist inches away from the punch connecting." With a hard stab into his chest, she turned to leave. "When you stop acting like I'm a powerless damsel in distress, I'll be back."
Eli watched her leave in mild confusion. What was with her these days? She was their back-up, their cross-fire. Didn't she know how important she was? "Girls," he muttered before stomping out as well.