By Tim Stevens
The following is an excerpted transcript of a group therapy session with Patriot (Elijah Bradley), Wiccan (William Kaplan), Hulkling (Theodore Altman), Stature (Cassandra Lang), Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Speed (Thomas Shepherd), and The Vision. It was originally intended to be an individual session with only William Kaplan.
TIM STEVENS: So...none of you are going to leave?
PATRIOT: That's right. Billy is one of us and if you want to talk to him, we are all going to be here too.
TS: Do you understand that I have no designs on hurting your friend?
HULKLING: We are sure you don't, sir, because we are sure you are smart enough to see that there are a lot more of us than there are of you.
WICCAN: Guys, this isn't really necess--
Young Avengers assemble
SPEED (interrupting): No kidding. Just let me run us out of here.
W: No, I mean, I am fine with doing this. I don't want to hurt anyone either.
SPEED (exhaling, exasperated): Really? Clearly none of you have ever had to talk to one of these guys before.
TS: Oh...Tommy, is it? Have you?
SPEED: I...well, I spent some time in juvie, so they made us.
TS: I see. And, if I am hearing you right, you did not get much out of it?
SPEED: Not at all. Bunch of liars trying to make you feel bad about who you are.
TS: Uh-huh. That must have been really frustrating for you.
SPEED: Yeah, it was. Like, I knew I had problems, I didn't need some jerk remind-hey! Stop it.
TS: I'm sorry?
SPEED: Stop being all...in my head. Billy, can we please get out of here?
W: Guys, please...
No one gets up. Patriot shakes his head and Hulkling reaches out and places his hand on Wiccan's.
TS: As long as it is okay with Billy, it is fine with me if all of you stay. It might be helpful to see the group dynamic at first anyway.
Wiccan nods at Tim
TS: Okay then. So, in your own words, why are you here, Billy?
W: It's a little weird to say out loud...
TS: That's fine, I've seen and heard weird before. Don't worry about shocking me.
W: Right. So, you see how Tommy and I look kind of alike?
Tommy rolls his eyes and leans farther back in his chair.
W: And he's really fast and has white hair and I can use magic, right? Just like the Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver. So, I kind of think Tommy and I--and I know this sounds crazy, but (shrugs)--he and I are her kids. Well, their souls, anyway.
TS: I see. So, you feel kind of like your friends are more your family than your family is? It's not unusual for teens to feel like--
W: No. Well, yeah, but that's not why I am here. I mean, literally, we are brother souls in different bodies. Anyway, a while ago, Scarlet Witch apparently was responsible for some horrible things and--
STATURE (angrily interjecting): Not apparently! She was!
TS: I see you have some strong feelings on this.
STATURE (embarrassed at her outburst and tearful): My...my dad. She killed my dad.
W: Maybe. I'm not sure she wa--
STATURE (a bit more angry and tearful): It was her! Captain America saw it. Iron Man saw it! She murdered him!
TS: Okay...understandably, this is a very raw area for both of you. For now, can we agree that the Scarlet Witch was involved somehow in the tragedy?
Both nod silently
STATURE: I'm sorry, Billy. You...I just miss him so much, you know. And I know you aren't trying to be mean or anything, but...I can't listen to anyone make excuses for her.
W (leaning over to her chair and giving her a brief hug): I know...I'm sorry too.
TS: So, because this happened?
W: Right, because it happened and my powers have been escalating lately, the Avengers are worried I might do the same thing, I guess, and just...go crazy or something. (quieter, looking down) And my friends are, too.
HAWKEYE: No, Billy, it's just that--
Hawkeye (Kate Bishop)
W: It's okay...I get it.
HE: I know, but none of us really think you'll go crazy. Not really. We are just...worried that you may lose control, accidentally of course, and someone will get hurt. And we know you. We know if that happened, you could never forgive yourself.
STATURE (still sniffling): I know you could never be her...
TS: Alright. Just so I am sure I understand, let me just tell you what I think you are here for. You may be related to someone who had a lot of power and was involved in a tragic incident that resulted in the deaths of people, including Cassie's dad. And now, people are worried, and maybe you are too, Billy, that you might be the cause of a similar event.
W: Right. And the Avengers made this appointment with you so you could see if I seemed, you know, like a lunatic.
TS: I'm not sure that is exactly what they were thinking, but I understand what you mean. At this point, I think I've gotten a good feel for most of you, but I want to check in with you, Vision, and see how you are feeling about all this since you have yet to speak.
VISION: It is...odd for me. I have many memories in my head from times past. I was another Vision once, you could say, and that Vision loved Scarlet Witch and married her. And their children, who disappeared one day, would be the children Billy thinks he and Tommy are.
Stature sobs audibly, catching Vision's attention.
V: But, Cassie, I am not that Vision anymore, in the same way I am not Iron Lad anymore. I am just me. Those memories feel almost like dreams. Fuzzy. Part of me, but not really. I love Cassie and I hate what happened to her dad. In some ways, it is like I hate the Scarlet Witch, too, just as Cassie does. But then...that old Vision is still there sometimes, as well.
TS: It sounds very confusing for you.
V: It can be.
TS: It sounds like it is confusing for all of you. Not in the same way, obviously, but confusing nonetheless. I see some nods of agreement from some of you. Tommy, thoughts?
SPEED (not making eye contact): Dude...leave me alone.
TS: Sure, I can do that. Eli?
P: I guess I feel a lot like how Kate does.
SPEED (sarcastically): That's a surprise!
P (ignoring Speed): Billy is my friend and my teammate. But he does have all this power and there have been moments where...I just don't think he knows what he's doing. That doesn't mean we are not going to be here every session though or at every meeting he has with the Avengers. He's our friend and no one is going to be locking him away to "protect him." Understand?
TS: I do. And I have no intention right now of issuing a psychiatric hold and I don't anticipate having to do so. But all of you should know that if things change and I feel it is the right thing to do, I will do it, regardless of any of your threats. Do you understand that?
AVENGERS: THE CHILDRENS CRUSADE #2 cover by Jim Cheung
Silence followed by some mumbled assents.
TS: And Hulkling, this must be particularly difficult for you.
H: I love Billy and I know he won't hurt any of us on purpose.
TS: I can see that. But you are concerned about what might happen by accident?
H: I...a little, yeah. He was just so confused after the Serpent Society thing and so angry right before...
TS (refocusing on Wiccan): So, Billy, you have now heard from everyone about how they feel about this. How was that for you?
W (voice cracking a bit): It's...hard. It hurts a little. But...I know they are right and I know they are just worried about me, not so much themselves so...that helps a little, I guess.
TS: And do you think you would feel okay coming back here, with or without your friends, and talking to me some more.
W: Yeah, I think I could do that.
Doctors Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung will facilitate the next group session. Please review their notes in file AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE #2 on September 1.
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