~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 5...]
Prince William Maximoff had never been more disgusted in his life.
The young prince, backed by the royal court of Genosha and his family, met his "betrothed" at the gates of their kingdom. He glowered from under his bangs at the small contingent of Skrulls, searching for a young one the same age as he, wondering which one was supposed to be Dorrek, the one he was to marry. William couldn't really tell one Skrull from another, and there were two or three who could've been his age, for all he knew.
At his side, his mother Wanda kept a firm grip on his arm, a silent warning to behave.
King Magnus stepped forward and greeted a Skrull woman as "R'Kill", so William immediately knew that this was the Empress of the Skrull kingdom. His grandfather had informed him that the Empress's daughter had a son that he was to be betrothed to.
Magnus and Empress R'Kill spoke to one another in hushed tones for a moment, and then Magnus turned and waved his arm magestically in William's direction. "This is my grandson. May I present Prince William."
After a moment passed, William shuffled forward and stared up at the old Skrull woman.
Magnus glared down at him when he said nothing in greeting. William then did his best to bow and look courtly. He said in his best speaking voice, "It is an honor to meet you, Empress R'Kill." He said her name funny, which he knew immediately from the way her yellow eyes narrowed at him.
The Empress surveyed him a moment longer, then spoke. Her voice was crackled and ancient despite her looks. "Indeed. A pleasure it is to meet you, young William. This is my daughter Anelle"—she waved her hand to a Skrull woman with long black hair and brilliant purple eyes dressed in regal clothes who looked nothing like R'Kill—"and this is my grandson, Dorrek VIII. Your betrothed."
Anelle urged forward a tiny Skrull boy, who glared back at her as though in betrayal. William knew at once this must be Dorrek VIII.
The two stood an adult's arm-length apart, eyeing each other for several minutes. The Skrulls and the mutants around them seemed to hold their breaths as they waited for something to happen.
R'Kill coughed into her fist. Dorrek VIII whirled on her and yelled, "But Grandma, he wouldn't do it for me!" But R'Kill's glare must've been pretty convincing, because Dorrek VIII exhaled loudly and closed his eyes tight, concentrating.
Half a second later, he changed. His green skin shifted, and now he stood before William as a five year old human with platinum blond hair and angry blue eyes, like the sky. He was dressed in the colors of Skrull royalty, and William realized that he might've looked nicer if he wasn't glaring. But that was okay because William was glaring at him, too.
Empress R'Kill coughed again.
Dorrek VIII glared at her over his shoulder again, then gave up. He turned to William and spoke. "Hello, Prince William. It's an honor to meet you." He said each word as if he were being stabbed in the chest.
William, remembering what his family had said, gave his best courtly bow. "The honor is mine," he said through his teeth.
Dorrek VIII seemed to sense his frustration, and the two shared a moment of nothing but glares. The atmosphere around them seemed tenser now than it had been before. Anelle and Wanda stood next to one another, looking strangely nervous and hopeful.
Dorrek VIII exhaled theatrically. "Let's get this over with," he said.
William growled, "As you wish, Prince Dorrek."
He whirled without a word and stormed back to the palace. He didn't turn back when he heard his Grandfather shout after him, but he heard Dorrek VIII stamp after him. He was clearly angry, and that suited William just fine. He wasn't too happy with the situation either. He was too little to really understand what was happening, but he knew that getting married meant he would be with Dorrek VIII for the rest of his life. And he wasn't too thrilled with that plan right now.
Behind them, Princess Anelle and Princess Wanda exchanged worried glances. Empress R'Kill exhaled through her nose. "Well that went about as well as expected, Lord Magnus." She shot him a glance that said 'I-told-you-so'.
Magnus said, "Everything will be fine." But his expression wasn't so sure.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 6...]
At a young age, William decided that Dorrek hated him. But that was okay with William, because he sort of hated Dorrek, too. He knew that last year was an experience neither of them wanted to repeat, for the sake of all involved.
But unfortunately, here William and his mother were, standing on the edge of the Skrull empire in the Throneworld.
William wondered if he and Dorrek were going to at least try to be nice to one another this month, if not for themselves than to placate their parents and stop all the talks. William can't even count how many times he's heard: "Why don't you and Dorrek be friends?" or "At least try to get along with him, William." If it'll stop his mom from scolding him, he'll do it.
William wondered what would happen this time. He did't like fighting—he wasn't very strong, and he didn't like ruining his clothes.
But somehow, Dorrek always goaded him into doing so. It didn't seem to matter to the Skrull prince, because apparently strength and brawn is a sign of superior intellect in the Skrull hiearchy.
William received his answer when he arrived in the gates. Some sort of fruit—he'd never seen it before, red leaves with a white skin—hit him in the chest and splattered over his clothes. He didn't need to look up to see that it was Dorrek—not looking totally human this time, green-skinned—and two other Skrulls that William didn't know were girls or boys.
Wanda cleaned his clothes with a simple spell and kissed her son on the head. "It's all right, honey," she said. "He didn't mean anything by it."
William could care less about Dorrek's childish antics, and his clothes were clean, so he didn't cry. He just glared in Dorrek direction and made a gesture he was certain was more than rude. Whether or not the Skrull-Kree prince actually understood it or not remains to be seen.
Anelle assured Wanda that Dorrek was very excited for William's arrival, that he was embarrassed about his feelings at such a young age, and that the fruit he threw was probably his way of hiding how he felt. Wanda voiced that boys would be boys, and they both shared a warm laugh.
Empress R'Kill stared at them, wondering if they were both messed up in the head or something, but kept that suggestion to herself.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 8...]
Prince Thomas Maximoff liked playing pranks.
And he really liked playing pranks when the Skrulls were around.
With the Skrulls, who weren't use to such things, the victims reacted in a much more amusing manner than those who already lived there. There was so much screaming and shouting and shrieking and blaming of one another that Thomas always wondered why things were so different with the Skrulls. The servants who always worked there were fun enough at first, but now they were use to Thomas and his pranks. Now they would simply stare at the prank for a while, only to continue with their business. Sometimes, if Thomas pulled a particularly good prank, they would scold him and tell his uncle. Not that Uncle Pietro ever scolded him—half the pranks Thomas pulled were assisted by his uncle.
And tonight, Thomas had just pulled the best prank of his life.
Sneaking away from Dorrek's guest chamber in Genosha, he hid a sneaking grin, and pretended, later at dinner, to not notice that Dorrek's brilliant blonde hair was now a jarring shade of red.
Thomas wasn't sure exactly what drove him to pull the prank. Maybe he was tired of the Skrull prince's stupid face and his stupid presence at their house. Or maybe he was just sick and tired of seeing William angry whenever the Skrull prince walked by, making it a point to ignore William as much as possible. But if that was the reason, Thomas certainly wasn't going to admit it.
William, who knew nothing of the prank at the time, asked him later if he did it.
Thomas asked, "Why—you aren't going to turn traitor on me and tell Mother and Grandfather and the Skrull, are you?"
William shook his head, and Thomas was reminded instantly why he enjoyed his brother's company so much. "Doesn't matter if I do or don't," he said. "The adults already think I did it, anyway."
"What?" Thomas demanded.
William gave him a blank stare. "Perhaps next time it would be a better idea not to use my favorite color."
This time Thomas wasn't afraid to admit that he'd made a mistake. He told his uncle, who promised that he would straighten things out to ensure that William did not get in trouble for something that wasn't at all his fault. Then Uncle Pietro fist-bumped him and patted him on the head, complimenting him on such a genius prank.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 10...]
William sat on his bed. His knees were drawn to his chest, and his arms wound around them. His gaze was trained sleepily on the red comforter in front of him. Usually he enjoyed that color. But today was different.
The members of his family were mutants. He knew that. He'd always known that. His mother controlled magic, his uncle speed, and his aunt and grandfather were masters of magnetism. William always pretended not to care, but he'd be lying if he said he wasn't the least bit curious about what his power would be, if he had any. His grandfather always assured him that he would get powers some day and they would be wonderful.
This was anything but.
Thomas had been lucky. He'd been blessed with speed two months ago. He could run and move faster than Uncle Pietro. William was happy for him, but he felt a bit jealous. They were twins, so why hadn't they both gotten their powers?
Today, William got his wish.
And the first moment he'd gotten his powers, he didn't know what to do. The sensations were so different. He was scared—he remembered that. But what else? All he knew was that one moment one of the servants was going to strike him because he was tired of being ruled by "mutant scum", and the next the servant was writhing in agony on the ground while William's hands and eyes shimmered with mystical blue light. He didn't remember anything other than running to his room, ignoring Thomas's shouts to him from down the hall.
He remembered locking himself in his room. He turned away anyone who came knocking—his mother, his uncle, even his grandfather. He didn't lock his door, but they knew better than to come in. Uncle Pietro made that mistake, and a clock had come flying at him from the wall by accident. William hadn't meant it, but his uncle didn't come in uninvited—he knocked, like all the others, and was turned away, like all the others.
William sighed weakly. He didn't want to be cooped up in his room longer than necessary. Thomas was probably panicking, and his mother would worry. He didn't want to cause them any grief.
He swung his legs over the side of his bed and set them on the floor. He stood up, his legs numb and stiff from hours of being curled up. The second he was off the bed, the lamp on his nightstand flung itself at the wall and shattered.
He yelped in surprise and fell back on his bed. He scrambled back to the wall and covered his ears with his hands as another piece of furniture lifted itself off the ground and hurtled through the air, hitting the wall and bursting into pieces.
"N-not again! I-I thought we were past this!" He cried out again as his wardrobe started levitating.
William whimpered. He hated this. It wasn't right. Why him? Why had he been cursed with these powers while Thomas got off with something cool like superspeed? It wasn't fair. Why should he be the one to suffer? The nightstand started levitating, too—heavier than the lamps and therefore much harder to move.
"Don't l-lose control," William chanted to himself. "D-don't lose c-control..."
The shattered pieces of the lamp quivered, raising themselves in the air like white icicle daggers. He started to chant faster and faster: "Don'tlosecontroldon'tlosecontrol..." The wardrobe rattled and lifted in the air several feet above his bed. William hollared, "DON'TLOSECONTROLDON'TLOSECONTROL...!"
The door creaked open, spilling light into the otherwise dark bedchamber.
He opened his eyes and glanced up in stunned silence. Dorrek stood in the doorway, shuffling awkwardly on the balls of his feet. He was human—as he almost always was when he visited Genosha—and William found himself captivated by him. He'd grown in the year they hadn't seen each other, and though William hated to admit it, Dorrek was rather attractive now.
"What are you doing here?" he whispered.
The furniture slowly lowered itself to the floor, settling with a dull thump. William wondered if it was because of his sudden shift in mood.
Dorrek closed the door behind him and sauntered into the room. "Your family is worried. They claimed you'd gained your powers. I came to...check on you." His pale skin lit up a faint shade of crimson. He set his gaze on the ground.
William didn't bother to hide the surprise on his face. "You...came to check on me?"
"Well..." Dorrek sat on the edge of the bed, and William didn't feel the need to glare at him and tell him not to. "I know what it feels like not to think you have control. The first time I shifted, I kept changing back whenever I stopped focusing. It was terrible...but I got it eventually. And you—" Dorrek's face lit up brighter. "You're a lot stronger than I am, will-wise. You'll definitely control your powers in no time. It's not going to be difficult for you."
William blushed too and couldn't bring himself to look in Dorrek's searching blue eyes. The Skrull-Kree prince had never said anything like this to him before. It made his chest flutter and his knees weak. He felt...warm.
He said, softly, "Thanks."
Wanda and Anelle were beside themselves with glee when they peeked in onto this scene. They started whispered to one another that their sons were finally growing closer, and then they fled down the hall giggling like the little girls they had once been.
Empress R'Kill observed the two women with disinterest. "Really," she said, "it's almost like you two are the ones getting married, not them."
Magnus couldn't agree more.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 12...]
Dorrek glared across the gardens at William. The prince of Genosha was standing near one of the servants in the Skrull kingdom—some cyborg-creature named Victor Mancha. Feeling something metallic in his throat, he spat, "That's just ridiculous."
He and Xavin were sparring. Xavin's betrothed, Karolina of the Majesdanians, watched from the sidelines. Xavin raises an eyebrow but says nothing. Karolina, on the other hand, slides off the wall and lands by Dorrek.
"What is?" she asks curiously.
Dorrek jerks his head in William's direction. "That."
Xavin and Karolina looked at the two Earthlings on the other side of the gardens. William was saying something that made Victor laugh. The servant knew better than to touch the Skrull prince's betrothed, but that didn't stop him from getting right in William's personal space. The Genoshian prince didn't seem to mind at all. He was grinning widely in a way Dorrek had never seen before. It made something in his chest flutter like the wings of the butterflies he saw when he visited Earth.
"Ohhh." Karolina's face lit. "Just because you're jealous doesn't mean you have to be rude, Your Highness."
"Jealous?" Dorrek sputtered.
"Of course you are. Why, look at you! You're practically green with envy!" It was a stupid joke that she'd said many times before.
Dorrek narrowed his eyes. "You know, if you keep making cracks about my skin color, 'Lina, I'm going to develop a complex." He didn't mean it, but it was worth it to see her stop laughing and lower her head, her cheeks flushed a brilliant shade of crimson.
"My beloved does have a point." Xavin shrugged her shoulders. "There is no need to be jealous, Dorrek."
"I am not jealous!"
Karolina looked over at William. "I don't think I've ever seen His Majesty look that happy before. What do you suppose they're talking about? Earth customs? I'd like to learn some of those. Sounds like it could be fun."
"Why should I be jealous of that servant, anyway?" Dorrek demanded.
Xavin shrugged her shoulders again. "He and His Majesty the Prince do have more in common than you and he do. They are both from Eath, are they not?" She shook her head and narrowed her dark eyes at Dorrek's expression: he looked almost stricken as he realized she was right. "Dorrek, just...admit you like His Majesty. You are betrothed to him, are you not? It is not like you need to deny your feelings for him."
"I am not jealous!" Dorrek snapped.
Xavin and Karolina shot him the same blank look.
"I'm not!" he insisted.
William snuck a quick look at Dorrek when he wasn't looking. He laughed when he saw that he looked absolutely flustered. Victor Mancha noticed it soo, because as they turned to head into the castle, he nudged William's shoulder as gently as he could so he wouldn't be seen touching the Skrull prince's betrothed.
"His Highness is turning a very lovely shade of red, don't you think?" He grinned.
"I was not aware that Skrulls could turn that dark a shade of red. I thought the green would affect it somehow." William didn't even bother trying to hide his smile, just because he knew it would bother Dorrek to no end.
Anelle was the one to point out the blooming friendship between William and Victor, and she and Wanda despaired. Somehow they got the idea in their heads that William would become smitten with Victor and break off the engagement with Dorrek. This brought about several minutes of nothing but incoherent screams.
Empress R'Kill was the one who pointed out that it was clearly a plot to make Dorrek jealous. She also made it a point to tell them that Dorrek was jealous, despite what he said. The two princesses cheered like children and embraced. R'Kill rolled her and and called them idiots under her breath. Then she began contemplating ways that she could thank that servant Victor for giving her grandson a push in the right direction. She thought a week's vacation with pay seemed fair enough.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 14...]
William managed to say, "You know, Dorrek, I—I don't think we should. You know, get married and all."
Dorrek's azure blue eyes met his amber brown ones. "Why would we not be getting married, William?" He looked over the Genoshian prince, wondering if there was something wrong with him. This had come out of nowhere. Perhaps William was ill?
"Well....well, you don't like me, so—"
"Don't like you?" Dorrek cut him off with a strange, incredulous look. "William, why would you think that I didn't like you? Are you sure you're feeling all right. Perhaps I should call a healer."
"I do not need a healer!" William insisted. "And I know you don't like me! You always make fun of me and call me weak and throw things at me!"
Dorrek eyed him. "Is that what this is about?" he asked. "Me not liking you? William, I like you. I enjoy the time we spend together." As soon as he said it, he realized how true it was. William may have been a pain sometimes, but he didn't care. He enjoyed spending time with William, even if all they did for the past nine years was torment each other. He felt his face turn a brilliant shade of garnet as he murmured, "In fact, I...I think I really like you."
"...You...do?" William asked.
They were silent for a long time. Dorrek thought he could hear William's heart pounding.
"I think I like you, too," William murmured.
Dorrek exhaled in relief. "So you're not going to go asking our parents to reconsider about our future marriage, then? Because I wouldn't mind, you know." At the wounded look on William's face, he hastily added, "Being married to you, I mean. I wouldn't mind being married to you."
William's terrified look melted into a tender one, and he tentatively smiled. "I—I suppose I wouldn't mind...being married to you either."
"Thank you, William."
Dorrek blinked. "Huh?"
William's face was tinted with pink, and he shuffled nervously. "Well, William's too formal. You're going to be my husband, right? So...you can call me by my nickname."
Dorrek mouthed the name, getting the feel for it. Then he nodded and looked into William's eyes. "If you are going to insist that I call you 'Billy', then I'm going to insist that you call me by the human name I picked out."
"You picked out a human name?"
"Yes. I thought...I thought it might make you...happier."
William smiled, and Dorrek felt his heart soaring.
Then William asked, "So what is it? This human name?"
William echoed the name, trying it out. Then he grinned wide and said, "I like it."
They stood there awkwardly for a few moments, just staring at each other. Then before William could comprehend it, Dorrek quickly closed the distance between them and kissed him. On the lips. It didn't last a long time—William had just barely gotten over the shock that came with the notion that Dorrek was kissing him, and he started to kiss back. The moment he pressed his lips against Dorrek's even a bit, Dorrek drew back, looking embarrassed.
"I...See you later, then...Billy?" Dorrek asked, smiling in a way that couldn't be interpreted as anything except bashful.
He didn't wait for William to give him an answer. He turned and fled.
William touched his fingers lightly to his mouth; he couldn't help it, and a smile spread across his face. He didn't even mind that Dorrek had basically kissed him—stolen his first kiss—then fled. Dorrek had given him a special gift, and that was all William could ever ask for.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 16...]
Billy—he preferred it now to 'William'—loved to read. Dorrek—no, Teddy—did too. Sometimes when they were together for the summer, they would spend a few hours in the library and just read. Teddy brought a few books from the Throneworld for Billy to see, and in turn Billy would always tell him exactly what books were good and what books were excellent. These were the moments that he treasured; the times when he and Teddy weren't fighting.
Their relationship had improved over the years. Teddy no longer insulted him or threw things, and Billy couldn't find cruel things to say about him to the servants or to his brother.
Thomas always sneered at Teddy when he saw them together, but Billy had made him promise not to make Teddy feel bad. Thomas promised, reluctantly, after Billy strung him from the ceiling with his magic.
On the day Teddy is scheduled to arrive for the month, Billy waits for him in the libraries. This had become their meeting spot about six months ago when Teddy last came to visit, and he was picking out a few of the new books he thought Teddy might like.
Ten minutes later, Teddy didn't arrive.
A Skrull servant did.
The servant informed Billy that His Higness Prince Dorrek VIII would not be attending their usual month-long meeting. He told him that Teddy had been enrolled in the soldier training program, and that he would be gone for a long time. Years.
Billy didn't say anything even when the servant finished. He just nodded slowly and dismissed the servant with a wave of the hand. As soon as he was alone, he pulled out a copy of some fairy tales that his mother read to him and Thomas when they were little boys. He sat down on the floor and tried to bury his rising sorrows in the book. He didn't stop reading for a second, even when his vision was blinded by tears.
Anelle and Wanda were dismayed. Thomas swore that he'd punch Teddy in the stomach when he next saw him. Pietro and Magnus shared a strange look. Empress R'Kill just shook her head and muttered, "Such is life."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 18...]
He could hear what sounded like a muffled thump somewhere down the hall. Normally this wasn't something to be cheerful about, but it was significant now because the room he was being kept in was meant to absorb sounds so he couldn't chant. He could feel the vibrations through the thick floorboards.
The prince of Genosha wasn't entirely sure what was going on, but it had to be something huge if it was rattling his cell like this.
He continued to listen, with faintly growing hope, to the banging sounds. They were getting closer and closer every second.
There was a swift moment of silence, then the door burst open with a loud whine of metal protest.
He was suddenly thankful for the muzzle his kidnappers had put on him. It covered his nose and his mouth, acting as a filter against the debris falling as a result of the door being smashed.
When the dust settled, he was shocked to see a Skrull soldier standing in the gaping hole, looking positively dangerous.
He mumbled something that the muzzle garbled.
The Skrull soldier lowered his head to stare at him. Billy knew it was a Skrull because of the armor—it was the new series of armor, an inverted version of the old purple-and-black. This Skrull wore a heavy metal helmet that covered his entire face. A wide sharp-toothed grin was patterned on the front of the helmet, and there were beads where the eyes were meant to be. Billy couldn't see his true face.
He mumbled again; it too was jumbled by the muzzle.
The Skrull warrior nodded silently. He approached with his hands turning orange and rocky and large. Billy flinched back as the Skrull reached out and gripped the muzzle on both ends, tearing it off of the prince's mouth. The muzzle came off easy, breaking in half.
Billy shook his head and looked up at the Skrull. Did Teddy send you to save me? He felt a bit sad that Teddy would send a soldier to rescue him instead of coming himself. He didn't say anything to the Skrull about it, though.
The Skrull was silent, too. He slipped his large hands under Billy's armpits and lifted him swiftly off the ground. He clutched the prince of Genosha to his chest as he rose, then began to walk out of the cell.
Billy rested his head on the Skrull soldier's chest plate. The Skrull was a stern, powerful soldier, but....he was surprisingly gentle. He wondered if Teddy had ordered him to be when he found him, and he felt somewhat relieved. Maybe Teddy hadn't changed in the few years they'd been apart; it was all he could hope for now.
Teddy stared at Billy with a steady gaze. He hadn't really seen him in three long years—that was how it went when you were training to be a Skrull soldier. The training was brutal, but it'd turned him into a hardened warrior. He was stronger now than his parents ever would've thought, and his Grandfather was convinced that he was leaving the empire in good hands once he passed on the crown.
"Teddy?" Billy blinked up at him in surprise.
"It is not Teddy," he said carefully, his voice holding no more emotion than a stone. "I am Dorrek."
The prince of Genosha looked at him and said nothing for a moment. When he did speak again, he sounded strange; confused, teary, and he was laughing. "I don't see you for three years and you undergo a name change...again?"
"It is not a name change, William. It is my natural name. The other was a change."
"William?" He wrinkled his nose. "I thought we were past the formality."
He kept his expression blank. "That is your name, is it not? What other way would you have me address the grandson of Genosha's king?"
Billy gaped at him. The hurt look on his face made Teddy feel something he hadn't felt in a long time, and he struggled to keep the emotions off his face. It took all his concentration to make his appearance stern.
"That—" The prince shook his head as if he were trying to clear cobwebs from his brain. His voice was low. "What are you doing here, Te—Dorrek?"
"I heard you had been kidnapped. I merely came to see that you were alive and unharmed." His voice held as much emotion as his face portrayed.
Billy's shoulders slumped. His expression was stricken; this wasn't the Teddy he remembered, not the one he'd started to fall for. The Teddy he remembered would be smiling, joking with him and holding him in his arms, out into the gardens, away from the duties of Genosha royalty. But that was years ago, before the vigorous training. The Teddy standing before him now was a hardened soldier; appearing like he had the first time Billy'd seen him, Skrull-like and tall, an emotionless killing-machine.
"You are unharmed, I see," Teddy said.
"Then there is no more reason for me to be here." The Skrull-Kree prince bowed his head, tucking his chin to his chest; a soldier's nod. "I shall be taking my leave then. Farewell, William."
He turned and began to walk away, keeping his gaze forward, his head straight.
Then Billy looked after him with a soft expression and said, quietly, "It was you...in the cell, wasn't it?"
Teddy stopped in the middle of the hall. "What do you mean, William?"
"The Skrull who rescued me from that cell, the one in the helmet..." He looked at the soldier's back, his expression hopeful and a little sad. "That was you, wasn't it, Teddy?"
He exhaled through his nose and kept his voice even. "William, until today I had no idea that you had been kidnapped. I was not on the ship. I did not rescue you. That was another soldier. But I see how you made the mistake. We all look alike in our armor."
"But not all of them wear a helmet."
"Some do. It is not uncommon."
Billy shook his head slowly. "I know it was you, Teddy. The Skrull that saved me—he was too kind, too gentle to be anyone else." He looked back up. "I don't care how long you've been away, how much training you've been through. You'll always be you."
He closed his eyes, feeling a pang of guilt. "Billy, I—" He broke his own cardinal rule. He'd said the prince's nickname, and he'd let his emotions slip through, for just a second.
The prince of Genosha's smile was painfully broken, like a cracked porcelain doll. "It's been a long time, Ted, and I don't blame you if you've changed. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious...about what you still feel for me."
Teddy's brow creased; he turned around and looked Billy straight in the eye. He marched forward, his head still held high in attention, but when he reached the prince, he dared to look down. He put his hand on his face, cupping his cheek—the pad of his thumb brushed just beneath Billy's eye; it made the prince of Genosha shiver.
"What I feel for you," Teddy murmured, "may one day put you in danger if any of my enemies find out."
Billy leaped forward and wrapped his arms around his waist, crushing his face against the black and purple material of his soldier's armor. "God, Teddy," he choked, and his emotions broke the wall Teddy had been building up. "So that's why...?"
He tilted Billy's head back so they could make eye contact—he felt guilty when he saw the tears in the corners of his eyes, and saw himself reflected in the amber orbs. "I couldn't let my feelings for you put you in danger. That failed, apparently."
Billy shook his head rapidly. "No, Ted. You didn't put me in danger. You—"
Teddy didn't hear the rest of what he had to say. He didn't need to. He just looked down at the boy he'd been betrothed to since birth, the boy he'd grown up getting to know slowly. He was different; he'd changed in the three years they hadn't seen one another. His hair was longer, his features more defined. He wasn't a child anymore.
He was taken back to the memories of when they were fifteen, their experimentations, how they would undress slowly, embarrassed, and just stare at one another. They hadn't slept together, but they'd done a few things—and they were important. Precious memories. They were all that kept Teddy going during the rigorous months of training, the hardships and the suffering. The memory of Billy, of what he was training to protect, had kept him going. And now that he was here, standing in front of the boy he loved so dearly; all he wanted was to be there for him. To hell with what Kl'rt and the other Super Skrulls had said—Emotions make you weak. If being strong meant having to abandon everything he felt for the prince of Genosha, then Teddy was content with being a weakling for the rest of his existence.
Just as long as Billy was by his side.
He couldn't take it anymore. All the feelings and urges he'd suppressed years ago began to rise to the surface, and he grasped Billy roughed and dragged him forward. Billy yelped, cutting off his sentence—Teddy wasn't aware he'd still been talking. He didn't care. He needed this. They'd been apart for too long, and Teddy had almost lost Billy today; he was never going to let that happen ever again.
He swooped his neck down and locked lips with the prince he'd missed. It felt better than he remembered; his memories hadn't done Billy justice.
It took the Genosha prince a moment to register what had happened. Billy wound his arms around Teddy's neck, crushing him closer. An appreciative moan escaped his throat that nearly sent the Skrull-Kree prince over the edge. He missed these sounds, missed these feelings. He felt as if he could spend the rest of eternity like this—Billy in his arms, their lips together, eyes closed, feeling nothing but each other forever—and he would be content.
You're all right, Teddy thought. He finally allowed himself to be relieved. They hadn't hurt him; he'd made it in time.
It didn't matter what the future brought anymore. It didn't matter if the Super Skrulls saw it as a weakness. As long as he and Billy were together...then he was happy.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
[Prince Dorrek VIII and Prince William Maximoff are 20...]
Teddy was incredibly nervous. He wasn't going to deny that. Kl'rt would be disappointed in him for letting such weak emotions get the better of him, but he just couldn't help it. He was nervous! He'd never been married before, and he didn'y expect that he ever would again. It would be him and Billy, and whatever kids they decided to have if they did at all, for the rest of eternity.
And honestly, he was excited.
He'd known Billy since they were five years old. Fifteen years had changed them. They hated each other at first, but had gradually fallen in love. Teddy looked back on each moment they spent together and—despite their differences, their quarrels, their fights—he wouldn't change any of it for the world.
However, standing in the traditional Skrull wedding armor next to Billy, dressed up in white and black and gold, while waiting for the music to end so they could go in and start the ceremony was nerve-wracking.
"Nervous?" Billy murmurs.
"Seriously?" Teddy laughs lightly, but squeezes Billy's hand. "I don't get nervous, dear William. In fact, I feel no emotions at all." He made his expression as blank as possible. "Emotions are a sign of weakness."
"But really." Teddy turned Billy to him and stared into his eyes. "Yes, I'm a little nervous. But there's really no need. After all, we'll be together forever after all this is done, won't we?"
"As long as you want me," Billy said with a sly grin.
Teddy tilted his head back with his index finger and said, "I'll always want you. For as long as I live."
The music ended, the doors opened, and the two princes straightened themselves up. "Here we go," Billy murmured. He wrapped his arm around Teddy's and let the Skrull-Kree prince lead him into the hall filled with their peers.
Later at the wedding feast, Teddy realized just how perfect his life is. The Skrulls and the people of Earth would be allies forever now, and he had the one man he always wanted. There would be no hostilities. Teddy had trained as a soldier and he could protect Billy from any harm. And Billy was a witch. He knew a thing or two about fighting back.
Thomas congratulated them on their marriage, with waggled eyebrows and plenty of sexual innuendos. Karolina clapped both of them on the back and said that she saw this coming before they had even met Billy, and it wasn't just because of the betrothal agreement. Xavin smiled sincerely at the two of them and wished them a happy marriage, while Chase said the same with a wink. Victor and Billy shared an intimate smile as he congratulated them on their wedding; it was all a ruse to make Teddy jealous, and it worked.
Anelle and Wanda were wrapped around each other, blubbering like babies. Pietro tried to pretend he's angry at the Skrulls for taking his nephew. Magnus tried to focus on something else so he could smother the massive grin he's not sporting. And Empress R'Kill just rolled her eyes, smiling lightly with pride.
Everything seemed to move so slowly, like a dream. Billy walked down the halls of his new home immediately after the celebrations as slowly as he could, head held high, expression vacant and courageous. He paused in front of the massive bedroom door, beside the wooden frame. He laid his hand against the wall and paused to check his breathing—to see if he still was.
He didn't understand this part of the Skrull tradition. After the celebrations, the servants were supposed to separate the newly-weds for two hours and get them ready for "bed". Billy knew what they meant. They were getting him and Teddy ready to...He couldn't even think about it without turning bright red and stuttering, which made the Skrull servants giggle. It'd been even worse when they started tearing his clothes off and set them aside, leaving him naked in the center of the room. They told him he would find Teddy in the bedroom and left him.
Billy didn't know when, but one day he would make them pay for this.
But for now, he looked into the room, searching for Teddy.
He wasn't hard to find. His husband stood, his back to Billy, leaning out over a balcony extending from the doors of the bedroom, staring up at the three moons. The colorless light turned his skin a perfect ivory, a complete opposite of the black ground below. He was motionless, his hands resting on the wooden rail of the balcony; the wind flowed around him as if he were a statue, everything still except his hair, hauntingly white in the moon. Billy found himself awestruck by the smooth lines of his back, his arms, his neck, and everything else about him...
There was a fire burning deep inside him now; it burned through all his anxieties—his awkwardness, his fears, his uncertainties. He slipped into the giant bedchamber and crossed the warm carpet onto the balcony—the combined light of the three moons turned him pale, too.
He couldn't hear the sound of his footsteps as he walked across the tiles to the balcony's edge, but he guessed Teddy could. He didn't turn. Billy walked until he was at his husband's side, and then he placed his hand on top of Teddy's.
"You know, Kl'rt was right," Billy murmured. "The evenings are beautiful here."
"I suppose." Teddy turned to face Billy. His eyes looked almost silver in the light of the moon—it stunned Billy into silence. "But I don't think I'd use the word beautiful to describe them. With you here...no, there's definitely no contest."
Billy smiled; he raised his free hand and placed it at the base of Teddy's collar bone. White on white; they matched, and Billy felt the thumping of their pulses in time with each other's.
Teddy shuddered just a bit, his breathing a bit rougher now. "I know you're anxious about this; I am too. But...if something goes wrong...if this makes you uncomfortable in any way—God, if I hurt you even a little bit—tell me immediately."
Billy nodded, keeping his eyes locked on Teddy's. "You won't hurt me. Everything will be fine. We're meant for each other...so nothing will go wrong." He was shocked by the truth in his words. Nothing could go wrong as long as they had each other. And after so many years they finally had each other for eternity, all of each other.
Teddy's hand rested on top of his own. "You're right," Teddy agreed softly. "We're meant for each other." He smiled, and then he led Billy back inside, away from the prying light of the empire's triple moons.