Least, that was what the Rogue Avengers were saying as they had boarded the Quinjet for America. Where they had not been pardoned, they were offered temporary amnesty so they could explain why they did what they did. The Accords were still in full swing but Captain America was sure once he explained everything and why they did what they did, the Accords would at least be loosened. He wasn’t a complete idiot to think they would up and vanish but it would be a step into getting them repelled. That was the main goal.
T’Challa was a gracious host and all, they also did their best to behave while there but it wasn’t home. That was what was killing people more than they ever thought. Seriously, they never thought they would be hiding from the world for standing up for what they believed in, yet there they were. Hiding…it took a huge toll on the ones that had families. Scott didn’t know how things between him and his daughter and girlfriend were going to be. Clint was worried about Laura and the kids. Wanda desperately missed Vision. They were all broken apart from those who they care deeply for.
As the plane landed in New York, the all the Rogues were expecting to make their way into the Compound, to see their home for the first time in months. Yet, as they exited the plane it only took one look at the building and they knew something was amiss…they were not in front of the Compound. The group was next to a building they didn’t recognize. The only reason they didn’t panic was because there was the familiar sight of Maria Hill with some unknown lesser agents at her side. She wore a bored look on her face, like she didn’t want to be dealing with this.
When T’Challa exited the jet, he waved the Avengers to follow him. They followed in behind the young King, with their minimal belongings in hands. They didn’t have much being on the run but they had their gear and a few things that they were able to get in Wakanda. Traveling light was an understatement that was for sure.
“Director Hill, it is a pleasure to see you again,” T’Challa stated, “I pray the days have treated you well since our last meeting.”
“Well, if you mean stressful than that would be a yes,” Maria said simply, a ghost of a smile on her lips before they tightened and nodded, “Otherwise, please let us get down to business. The sooner this is over the better.”
With that she turned on her heel and head into the building, her two aids following after her. Once again being signaled by T’Challa, the Ex-Avengers followed the group to a small office. It wasn’t a long walk but it was long enough that it sort of unsettled the group. If the young king wasn’t so relaxed they would all have worried. Once inside the office they were asked to place down there things against the wall and have a seat. It was a small office with a few tables pushed together to make a bigger one.
After they settled down into their seats; Steve, Wanda, Clint, Sam and Scott at the end. T’Challa sat the far end near Hill. It made sense because of the how they seemingly had handled bringing the group back to the States. The two lesser agents posted one by each door as there were only two in doors for the room. They were about to ask why they were not starting when a door opened up and two more people walked inside.
Natasha was brought in by Coulson, Phil Coulson, who was still alive!…and looking less than pleased at the sight of those before him and ignored Clint at his exclamation jumping out of his seat. After getting a look from Natasha that told him more or less ‘don’t bother trying’ while she sat on the other side of Steve. Clint collapsed back down looking more than a little lost as Coulson took his place next to Maria.
“Are there any questions before we begin?” Hill asked after a moment, just to get it out of the way. May try to get this over with as soon as possible so it didn’t ruin the flow of the meeting.
“Why are we here? Why didn’t we go to the compound?” Steve questioned, mainly just interested.
“Because, you are not active Avengers, you are under the protection of New SHIELD agency, so you will be staying here.” Maria said quickly. That made sense to a point but the group would argue they were still Avengers.
“Even if they were there is no place for them at the Compound,” Coulson simply stated uninterested as ever…but the two former SHIELD agents were uneasy…Phil was angry at them.
“What do you mean?” Sam asked.
“The Compound has been revoked from housing any Avengers,” the former handler replied.
“Why would Stark do that!? It was our home!” Wanda exclaimed. She was pissed and immediately went to blaming Stark…which cause both Hill and Coulson to sigh. That got everyone’s attention.
“Dr. Stark did no such thing,” Coulson intervened, “Ms. Potts and Stark Industries, however, did. The Compound was still owned by SI normally they would have respected Dr. Stark’s wishes but with him in a coma he was not there to talk them down. The Compound has been re-commissioned for housing the misplaced in the Inhuman community. As you are aware, not too many people are fond of them after recent happenings.”
“After that was said and done,” Hill continued, “SI teamed up with the UN and a few other major companies to create a new head quarters for the Official Avengers. That way it would take a consensus to shut it down or even enter it. See after you became fugitives the United States government served a search warrant and confiscated all of your belongings. Stark was in surgery so he wasn’t there to try and stop it from happening. Everything of yours will be returned to you in due time.”
There was something about the way she said that which made the more vigilant ones to wonder just how long “in due time” was going to be. That was not the big thing right now Sam had rocketed forward and placed his hands on the table, there was one huge thing that needed to be addressed. This new information was crushing.
“Wait, wait, no back up there a minute,” Sam interrupted, “Stark is in a coma?!”
“He was at the time the vote was cast about the Compound,” Hill sighed, “He has been placed in many medically induced comas in efforts to repair all the damage he had sustained because of the confrontation in Siberia. Not all at once, as many were afraid that if he were under for too long and they could actually lose him. Other than the few appearances he has made, all on pain killers that could take out an elephant, I’m sure, he has spent most of his time in some form of medical.”
Rogers paled. He didn’t know. When he left Tony, the genius was struggling to get up but he swears he was fine.
“No, that can’t be Tony was fine,” Steve stated disbelief obvious in his voice.
“No, he wasn’t and to this day he still isn’t,” A new voice interrupted. Walking up to the table, between the two groups between Scott and Phil, was a woman dressed in a pin-strip suit and heels. She was professional but the tell-tale sign of who she was was her green skin and deeper green hair. It was the Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk, one hell of a successful lawyer…which made a couple of the Rogues a little worried. As she set her brief case on the table, she looked at them and finished her statement, “But he is slowly getting better. Jennifer Walters, attorney at law. I would say it is a pleasure but the only pleasure to be had is when I can leave.”
“You said he is getting better…what did he all go through?” Natasha asked. She came across emotionless but Hill, Coulson and Clint could see the worry in her.
“Vision found him,” Jennifer began before anyone could tell her otherwise, “Barely conscious and bleeding to death in Siberia. The only reason he was found was because FRIDAY was able to pinpoint the last location of the suit before it went offline. He was nearly hypothermic and had several crack ribs, real and artificial, as well as damage to the artificial sternum. His lungs were nearly crushed and extra pressure was placed on his already injured heart. Not to mention the shards of the suit that were beaten into him had to be surgically removed. His injuries were matched to the Vibranium shield recovered in his vicinity. He is doing well and on his way to recovery.”
The room was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.
“Steve…” Sam stated with a tremble to his voice, “You said he was fine. You said he was going his way. You never once said he was that badly injured. You never said you almost killed him.”
“I had to stop him!”
“You could have killed him! Then what!?” Scott snapped, “The great Captain America would have been a murderer! What you all keep forgetting is Tony Stark is a civilian, armed yes but a civilian none the less! Like me! Someone you were supposed to protect. He wasn’t in the military, he wasn’t SHIELD or even HYDRA trained…he built and taught himself because he had his eyes opened after Afghanistan…not blinded by hatred.”
“When did you learn so much about Stark?” Natasha asked, clearly curious on what had made Scott outburst like that. There was something she didn’t know. Sam was even curious as Scott had begun to pull away from them but had blamed it on missing his daughter…the flyer didn’t ask more than that and let the man be.
“When I had a lot of free time in Wakanda, his name over there…spoken in reverence. I had to know why. I wanted to know why…the deeper I dug the more I found. All those files you leaked…”
Scott began telling him everything he had pieced together. A little boy who wanted nothing but his father’s approval but was constantly compared to a figure no one could live up too. Like he wasn’t good enough. Howard Stark gave all his love and adoration to Steve Rogers, Captain America, he could even spare his son a second glance when they were at home. That the only ones that really loved him for him was his Mother and the family butler Edwin Jarvis and his wife Ana. Till one by one he lost them too. Losing one of the few lights in his life, his mother and after that, nothing else mattered. He kept doing what he could to make Ana and Edwin proud but he then lost them too.
After that, Tony Stark forgot how to care… He began to party but also how he threw so much money into charities and relief efforts. How he stayed on as the face of SI but he wanted nothing to do with it really it was only a source of income to help others. He never paid much attention to his company and relied on the wrong people and Afghanistan happened. The he had his chest cut open and was attached to a car battery. He was tortured, water boarded, electrocute because of the open wires when he wouldn’t build the terrorist weapons…and how he felt he deserved it…
Then how he dealt with the after-mass and how he became Iron Man. How he fought against the very thing keeping him alive and doing his best to keep the ones closest to him alive. A man that did his best to keep everyone safe, looking out for the Avengers, all his SI employees and anyone else on his payroll. How Tony Stark was a good man but no one cut him any slack. In the end Scott pieced his own profile of Tony Stark together and he said if this ‘Civil War’ happened all over again…he would prefer to be on Iron Man’s side, he was sure that Tony Stark would not have left him behind.
Everyone in the room was quiet. There was so much they never bothered to learn about the creator of Iron Man…many felt ashamed. Wanda was even starting to question if the man deserved the her hate as he seemed to hate himself more than anyone else. She would always hate him a little but after hearing this…she couldn’t hate him more than he hated himself. Everything they had seen of Tony Stark was nothing more than a mask to test them and they failed phenomenally.
“How do you know all this?” Steve questioned meekly. How he learned so much about Tony Stark, someone he was supposed to have known all along. How he took SHIELD’s original report of him to nearly to heart…and didn’t bother questioning anything even after the original SHIELD had fallen. Why was he so blind? It made him feel sick.
“Because Peggy Carter was doing her best to look after her nephew,” Scott stated looking away from the group. He couldn’t really look at them…they all seemed flabbergast they had read the billionaire wrong, “She recorded everything trying to make sure Howard wasn’t going out of his way to physically harm his son and her niece Sharon Carter continued when Tony Stark took a downward spiral. It was stored deep in SHIELD files…encrypted with something only Wakanda could really have the minds to break. Beside Tony Stark but you all kept him busy…so I don’t know if he ever got the chance. Hell…I don’t think SHIELD even knew it was there.”
That hit Steve like a freight train.
“Peggy was his aunt?”
“Not biologically but one of the few that cared for the boy,” another voice chimed in. This one made everyone jump. In the corner of the room was Nick Fury…well, shit…They were in trouble now, “But you are correct Mr. Lang, that was not something we were aware was in the archives.”
The Ex-Avengers were oddly uncomfortable. It was noticed but not commented on until the lawyer of all people picked the one that really had regret written on their face.
“Mr. Wilson, you have something to add?” Jennifer asked softly.
“Yes,” Sam said with sadness and regret filling his voice, “I sent Tony after Steve and Bucky. I sent him as a friend to help…I’ll admit I didn’t read the Accords…thinking back I was blinded by the fact that Steve was Captain America and it was just one of those things that you trusted him because of that. Looking back, I feel that Steve…willingly or not took advantage of that fact for this whole deal…If I never sent him…he wouldn’t have been hurt…”
“He did, in the end it was never about the Accords,” Fury stated, “Rogers never had a big problem with SHIELD holding his leash because unless it was a major invasion we did nothing in broad daylight, it was all in secret and the Accords are similar to SHIELD only public and he has to be responsible for once in his life. To not get carried away…in the end, however…it was all about Barnes.”
“Why…just why? I’m sure Tony knew Steve wouldn't sign…why did he try?”
“Because the easiest way to fix things is from the inside, Wilson.”
“To fix the Accord or prove them wrong you would have had to know what was being passed around. The best way to do that is from the inside so it can be fixed. The best one out of the Avengers would have been Stark, he is used to dealing with politicians because of his business and would have been able to read between the lines and cut out anything that would have the Avengers and any other Superhero playing private army…what would have made it smoother was a number of the Avengers supporting him in signing so with their backing it would have been easier to change. Instead, it has been an uphill battle and he had to battle for his life because of how you left him.”
“Stark was in on it all but he was working with me,” Fury said in a way that there would be no arguing that fact any further.
“Why didn’t he tell me? Tell us?” Steve asked feeling lost.
“Would you have believed him anyway?” Fury asked and was met with silence, “That’s what I thought. Now, the matter you were all brought here for. Miss Walters.”
“Of course, I come on the behalf of Dr. Stark-”
“So what? Stark suing us or something?” Clint snarked off…he couldn’t help himself. When he gets distressed he can’t keep his mouth shut and lashes out. He wasn’t angry yet but Stark was always the one to blame…now that he though about it, that wasn’t fair. Luckily, Miss Walters didn’t take it offensively and continued.
“No, Tony Stark didn’t, he is too good of a man. My cousin however isn’t. You may recall Dr. Bruce Banner? He called me up after the whole ordeal and asked me to look into what happened. When he called me again I explained everything I could find and then he asked me to help out if I could. After finding out what I did…I agreed whole-heartedly.”
That was frightening. Bruce had hired her to go after them after what happened. No one knew where he was but having the Hulk calling in favors was not something they thought they were going to have to deal with. Needless to say they were all watching her like a hawk now as she took some papers from her brief case and walked around placing one in front of each Rogue. As she stood back at her place she began speaking again.
“What you see before you are restraining orders. It is the best I can do right now but I do assure you that I will be going forth and pursuing harsher charges once I have organized all my evidence.”
“W-what?” Clint stammered, getting similar sounds from the rest of the table beside Scott who already accepted what was going to happen. He could see it the very moment she placed the document in front of him.
“Restraining orders under the form of harassment; workplace and phycological. Workplace because of his recent injuries with the former Avengers as well as the well documented interactions that proved to everyone viewing them you did nothing but treat him as a bank and not a person. Those interactions also fell under phycological but the main reason for that was Miss Maximoff when she got into his head and aided in the creation of Ultron. Thanks to Dr. Stark’s B.A.R.F. technology we were able to not only see everything you as a team put him through but that moment as well. All evidence was handed over by Miss Potts, Colonel Rhodes and one Mr. Vision Stark, who was more than willing to help his father. I am presenting them as the ones I have mentioned did not wish to be in your presence.”
Everyone in the room was stunned into silence. Wanda couldn’t believe Vision had turned on her like that, she was going to blame Stark but what had he done? He has spent most of his time in a coma. Clint and Natasha were equal parts pissed and hurt. Angry at themselves and everyone involved and hurt that one of their own was fighting for their life and another was going after them. Steve was near tears as he looked at the paper…he-he couldn’t believe it. That was not what they had come back for, to deal with this, would they ever see Tony again? Sam and Scott just seemed resigned…like they were finally catching on to the gravity of the situation.
It was then that Jennifer turned to the young king, where she didn’t have any papers to serve him she did beginning speaking. T’Challa had been mostly stunned with what he had heard and kept quiet. He didn’t realize how much Tony Stark had actually been through and to think that he had left the man in Siberia…thinking Captain America had done no wrong. He felt horrible and when addressed, the young monarch listened.
“No offense, your Majesty…but since you seem close to this group and that they have proven to be willing to use whatever means to achieve their ends, you will be asked to also stay away from Dr. Stark as well. There will be no contact be what-so-ever between Dr. Stark and the former Avengers.”
“I understand,” the young king said with a touch of sadness in his voice. He was tad hesitant to agree but with the overwhelming evidence that has thus far been placed forward. T’Challa had no choice. Justice was coming to to the one who deserved it but now his own relations had to be severed because of this…he wouldn’t be able to talk to Tony Stark till after the trials because he knew there was going to be a few.
Hill, Coulson and Fury were gathering as much information as they could. Yes, the Ex-Avengers were brought in to hear their side of things but they already knew a lot of what they were going to say. They also knew that T’Challa had no choice but to leave them here as well…there was no way they were going back to Wakanda. This was something that had to happen though because the Rogues could not be trusted to leave Stark alone…now they were forced to. Now, Tony Stark could get some rest. They would keep the Rogues from doing anything too stupid, it was their turn as it seemed their wildcard couldn’t do it alone.
“The last thing was the reclamation or deactivation of any and all equipment that Dr. Stark has worked on,” Jennifer continued.
“Excuse me?” Sam stated shocked.
“It is rightfully his technology and since it was used against him, he has every right to reclaim it,”
“No…we’ll honor this but we can’t hand over the equipment, we need it to protect people. I’m sure Tony will understand,” Steve said with some conviction and the restraining order in his hands. Only Clint, Wanda and Natasha looked somewhat confidant that this would drop the subject…Sam and Scott however knew it was a loosing battle. The way She-Hulk looked at them though, Steve mainly, as if they didn’t even have the right to be in her presence. Sam and Scott knew it was over.
“Fine,” with that Jennifer took out her phone and place it on the table. The phone had been placed on speaker and was already dialing a number. It rang twice before there was someone that pick up. After a second of silence the lawyer spoke, “FRIDAY, can you hear me?”
FRIDAY? Why did she call FRIDAY? How did she even know of FRIDAY?
“Loud and clear Miss Walters, How may I help you?”
“Special Override Code: Tango Romeo Alpha India Tango Oscar Romeo Sierra, Official Avenger She-Hulk.”
For a moment there was silence everyone was on the edge of their seat when they hear a crackling that was coming from their bags. There was a sudden panic as some of the bags began to smoke a little bit. Redwing burst from wherever Sam had put him and perched on Miss Walters’ shoulder as she gathered her things.
Everyone fled to their bags and pulled out the weapons and armor that was now useless. It had everything burnt out and even they knew there was no easy way to replace it. Tony was unique in the way he did things. There was a reason he was the best and they needed the best! How could the lawyer just have done that so carelessly, they couldn’t even go to Tony and get it fixed!
“Why did you do that?!” Steve turned to She-hulk his eyes a mix of anger and pain.
“Didn’t you hear me? I am an Official Avenger, be it part-time but I am…and we take care of our own. Something you all still need to work on. This needed to be done. Also, Mr. Lang, expect a visit from a representative of Pym Technologies, they want their suit back.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Scott stated. He was the only one that didn’t have anything Stark had worked on. As happy as he was at the same time he could only wonder what having an Ant-man Suit made by Tony Stark would be like.
“Stark didn’t ask you to do this, did he?” Natasha asked…part of her already knew the answer. Tony wasn’t prone to making decisions for his own benefit. So she doubted he would tell She-Hulk to do this.
“No, that was the Avenger’s call. I have nothing else and will see myself out,” Jennifer stated and walked to the door. It was then Fury peeled himself off the wall and walked over to her.
“I’m heading out way myself, so I'll walk with you. Could you be so kind to pass on a message for me?” He asked, eyes forward as he reached for the door to hold it open for the lawyer.
“Depends on the message,” she shot back quickly.
“Tell my God Son, I'll see him soon. When he wakes up from this round of surgery,” Fury stated. There was nothing positive but the Ex-Avengers had just heard that Tony Stark was Fury’s god son. The corners of Jennifer’s eyes softened and she nodded. With that both left and the door closed with a loud click.
This was not what Steve was hoping for when they came back…and looking at Coulson and Hill…they weren’t done yet.
Chapter 2: Coulson and Hill
Maria and Phil have their say.
Thanks to everyone who was interested in seeing more added on to this fiction. There was a lot more support than I had orginally thought there would be. I was flattered and it did help me get the ideas in order and to get some writing done a lot faster.
Rush_together67 (forgive me still working the mechainics out of this thing) was the one that specifially asked about Maria and Phil. I had some things for them but pulled the ideas before I finished the first part because it just didn't flow. Now with a little bit of time and thinking on it I got worked out. I also worked through some of my other ideas and will have a sequel coming. This is the final chapter for "Restain" though. I hope it lives up to what some are hoping and that I was able to keep things flowing well.
Thank you everyone and I hope you enjoy the chapter!
Not beta-read, still very sorry but I did get Grammarly to help me out a bit so it should have less mistakes. We can only hope.
Coulson and Hill - Restrain Chapter 2
Everything was still in the room after the door closed. There was a heaviness to the space that just wouldn’t go away…it felt like betrayal but at the same time, the one they would have blamed has had next to nothing to do with it. They would have automatically blamed Tony but as stated when he wasn’t making official appearances he had been in extensive surgery and near comatose a good amount of the time…how was this his fault? Maybe if he had just listened to them none of this would have happened…
“I have to ask you to take your seats so we can finish this,” Hill broke the silence, her voice loud in the quiet room. Yet, they all knew an order when they heard one.
One by one they sat back down, a hollow feeling in all their chests. Coulson asked them one by one to explain their sides of the story and well…at the end of Hill and Coulson looked they wanted to shoot them. Even T’Challa had a look of exasperation on his face as if wondering in the back of his mind how he had not seen this coming. The Ex-Avengers, save for Wilson and Lang, who seemed to get in touch with some of their brains, were confused about the looks they were getting.
Hill and Coulson exchanged a look with one another before they took out numerous files and placed them on the table in front of them. The thick folders put the group a little bit on edge but there weren’t many. Maybe it wasn’t as bad at they thought. Obviously, the folders had been separated and everything would be addressed in the order that it was laid out. Ever the professionals, they waited a few moments before Maria crossed her hands laying them on the table in front of her and looked the group over. She then picked the folder from the top of the stack and began speaking.
“Miss Maximoff, do you know why you were kept in the compound?” She asked in her no-nonsense tone.
“Because Stark felt the need to keep me locked up, he was scared of me,” Wanda stated. That is what she was sure of anyway…at least what part of her thought.
“Because you have numerous bounties on your head,” Hill replied simply.
“W-what?” She stuttered, that had caught her off guard.
Opening up a folder it was tossed in front of the Scarlet Witch by Hill. Wanda picked it up and sure enough, there were a lot of bounties out for her…A few of them coming from Sokovia, the government officials calling out for her arrest and to be brought back so she could be interrogated they weren’t official but personal bounties. She started to tear up a little and the folder was passed around among other members on that side of table…Steve looking at the files aghast, as did Clint.
“Dr. Stark has eyes everywhere,” Coulson stated, “…soon after, even during the whole situation with Ultron people were crying out for your blood. Keeping you in the compound, which was private property and well secured meant you were safe. He left Vision with you because he knew you trusted him and he felt you and Vision would be able to protect each other…instead you hurt another he thought of as a son.”
Wanda looked down at her hands, her red power very lightly glowing at her fingers. She could hear everything they weren’t telling her. Her time in Wakanda had open up her eyes a little bit. How Stark would have felt that if he told her, she wouldn’t believe him. How he left Vision with her, who was part JARVIS…one of his children who she helped kill and trusted her with him. How she then struck at Vision to escape because Clint was following Steve’s commands…and now Vision didn’t want to see her…it was all her fault.
Steve was startled, he was sure that Tony had more vicious reasons for keeping Wanda at the Compound but now with the proof in front of him…Tony had been the only one looking out for her life. He felt horrible. Looking at everyone else; Clint was probably feeling the same way he was and Sam and Scott were tight-lipped…it didn’t sit right with them obviously but it seemed they were waiting for whatever else Hill and Coulson had in store. Natasha just had her poker face on but her eyes gave away that she was collecting information.
“Also meaning if you were under the delusion that Dr. Stark didn’t know where you were hiding for the past months you were wrong,” Hill added, “He knew exactly where you all were and told only Fury, Coulson and myself. He didn’t want anything more to do with you, so he gave us the heads up in case you all did something reckless we could be ready.”
The group was silent.
They had no idea. Come to think of it though…why shouldn’t Tony have known. Jennifer had just deactivated all their equipment. If she could do that remotely…Tony would have known where they had been. What really struck a cord was the fact that the billionaire never told the UN or Ross. They had previously thought if, given the chance that the genius would have sold them out in a heartbeat, he didn’t. This meeting was going to continue to go down hill for them for sure.
T’Challa was listening in awe. He knew of what Tony Stark could do but with everything he was learning, the young king wished he had had more time with the genius before he was asked to keep his distance. The man was more loyal and amazing than what he had been told from the ones he had been harboring. Their interactions were brief but they did have an overwhelming and apparent misplaced distrust of the billionaire. The king regretted everything.
The Director and Coulson seemed to be trading off on who did what as Phil took the next folder and lined his sights on his own target.
“Barton, who gave you the go ahead to leave your family? Did you run it by Laura or just up and disappear?”
“What do you mean?”
“You owe your family still being in one piece to Dr. Stark,”
“Yes,” Hill stated, “As soon as he heard what you did at the Compound, Dr. Stark sent a few of his best over to watch over your family. Good thing too. There was more than one agency that was getting ready to move in, against your family after the whole Airport incident. Social Services, CIA, FBI…wanting to see if they could get to you by going after them or to see they knew more…remember when Romanoff and Rogers dumped the files…they dumped the file that kept that location off the grid as well, putting your family at risk.”
Steve looked sick and Natasha had broken her mask and looked shocked, Clint looked at both of them with betrayal across his face. They never thought that they would have been putting Clint and his family at risk. Not once had that crossed their minds and look of devastation that crossed the archer’s face was not one they had ever wished to be on the receiving end of. Looking down at the folder that had been thrown in front of them, it was hard to deny the evidence.
“In the middle of the night, Dr. Stark’s allies came and almost got their head shot off by Laura…they said it was a mix of frightening and amusing,” Coulson stated there was a hint of amusement in his voice, “Still, giving her everything they had on what was going on, they helped her load up a moving van that was brought with them and were out of there two days before anyone came around…It was Ross’ men who were the first ones there. Right now, Laura and the kids are under false names in another part of the country thanks to Dr. Stark.”
Clint’s former handler let him sit there and stew on this information for a little while. There was a lot they didn’t seem to know. If he thought for a second that his family would have been at risk, the archer wouldn’t have done something so reckless…but Steve had called him and he didn’t think twice. Like a trained lion in a circus act, he was told to jump on the stand and he obeyed.
“He never once told Laura what he had done…but I think she knows,” Coulson finished.
“How do you know this?” Sam asked. It wasn’t pushy or anything purely curious. They seemed to know a lot about what had happened, he was just wondering how. From what they were all hearing this was information that they couldn’t have gotten their hands on unless…unless they were still able to talk with Tony.
“Because, ever since Afghanistan, Dr. Stark had been working on accountability,” Hill explained, “Being held responsible for your actions. He wanted us to know because he knew he could trust us that if anything went wrong he knew he would be held accountable. That was also the reason why he felt so strongly about the Accords. In battle, you are all very reckless and caused untold amounts of property damage, all of which Dr. Stark had been paying for…until recently. After the UN heard about what happened in Siberia…they prefer getting what they are owed from the ones who caused the damage. Dr. Stark didn’t do near as much damage as the rest of you.”
“He is the reason that a lot of your former colleges are still alive,” Coulson picked up after Hill ended, “After you dumped the files you put many SHIELD agents lives at risk. Good people who had nothing to do with Hydra…instead of trying to take care of things from the inside you chose to end many careers and even got some families killed. Congratulations, Hydra is still around…and we lost good people. It was only because Dr. Stark had a contingency plan were we able to save many lives. He helped us rebuild and all you did was continue to treat him as if he had no brain or heart.”
Rogers and Romanoff, at least, had the decency to not make eye contact with anyone and Sam looked at them with disbelief that they hadn't even taken that into account when they made the decision. The two responsible never did think that far ahead, they only saw the enemy and that they had to get that to public attention instead of doing something that was more logical like finding Hill and having her help, she would have ripped the agency apart to find the sources if she had known, now that they think about it.
“There is not much to address to you Romanoff,” Coulson stated plainly looking over the file that Maria passed to him, “Besides the fact you have become biased and may have been from the very get go, especially how you couldn’t even see through our elaborate play. You were supposed to be the best, we didn’t call you out on it because we thought you would eventually figure it out. Unfortunately, we were wrong. We didn’t think you could have been so blind not to notice the connections between the Stark family and SHEILD and thought plainly that Dr. Stark knew nothing. Your actions will hold consequences from both before and after the Accords, after all…because of you, many are dead.”
Natasha had no outside reaction and was still looking down. She had been too precisely trained to just let everything fall when attention was on her. They were correct…because Stark was so hard to read and followed what the media portrayed him as…Natasha had not dug deep enough to see this was all an elaborate ploy. If she had…there was a high chance that she then would have been in on it. Because she was very good at playing the field…when she knew what side she was on. This time, however, she was the one that got played and not in a way she had been expecting.
“Wilson and Lang,” Hill began after grabbing the two thinnest folders, “I am pretty sure with what you have said earlier the main reasons you are part of this was because you believed that Rogers was in the right…you believed more in the Captain America side of him and not the fact he was still human. After all why else would you run off with no reason? Jeopardizing your chances in your daughter Lang and your career Wilson with VA…both of which have people disappointed in you.”
“Yeah,” Lang said after a moment of silence, “You hear all these stories about the famed Captain America. How he always did what was right but you never stop to think how over exaggerated these become with time. Captain America may have been the poster child but he had help…especially from the man whose son, Steve Rogers almost killed. People forget behind Captain America is apparently a man who can’t deal with how time has left him behind and can’t seem to adjust, clinging to the past and not in a healthy way…You have problems, Steve…and you should get them taken care of.”
Scott had time in Wakanda not only to research Stark but also to land a critical eye on Steve. He now knew who he was dealing with and wasn't fond of the outcome. Before Steve could counter he was struck at again…by Sam.
“He’s right,” Sam stated which shut the blond up, “This isn’t the 40’s…do you even know how the prison system works? Even at it’s worst, if Bucky had been a brought in, he would have been in a monitored area, yes, but there would have been no one going to get to him. They would have kept it safe area and by my estimations, they would have kept quiet about it too. Because of what you did, no one wants him to have a fair trial or even allow him to get help, you took that from him, Steve. That is if Ross wasn’t around but seeing this is Tony Stark we are talking about…I have a feeling he was working on that too… Hell, knowing Tony he would have figured out how to keep him off grid till he could get Barnes help.”
The blonde Captain swallowed the lump in his throat. Did he think things through? No…thinking back on things he just did, he never thought about what would or could happen if he had taken a different route. Once he got going he didn’t stop. All he cared about was Bucky, the last piece from his past. He never thought that anyone else would have given a damn until he made them…till he forced them.
Never once did he think that Tony was already working on ways to give them the ability to breathe under the Accords, if only they were a little more patient. Given this information, he realized if they worked with Tony he could have given them time to find Bucky and keep him hidden till they could figure everything out but they didn’t. How far ahead did Tony plan everything? Just what did he know and wanted to share with the rest of them but knew he couldn’t because…because they wouldn’t have believed him.
Steve was startled out of his thoughts by Coulson who just seemed to keep adding more fuel to his self-deprecating fire. Part of the Captain was sure the Agent was taking some form of pleasure bringing them all back into the world…and it wasn’t one filled with sunshine and roses.
“You are correct Wilson,” Coulson said simply but it was warmer than when he addressed the others. There seemed to be some hope for Wilson and Lang but it was as if it had come a little late. “The times he spent awake, he was scouring for more to make sure he could ruin Ross completely…when the Accords first came into play we all knew Ross would be getting involved the way he always wanted. We knew what he wanted. Even before then with everything Ross had put Dr. Banner through, Dr. Stark was already working on having him taken care of but nothing runs on a perfect schedule when you have to deal with a group of headstrong, stubborn people who don’t like listening to reason. Needless to say, we were already planning for this but then, well you know what happened.”
“Between Dr. Stark, Ms. Potts, Colonel Rhodes, Vision and Ms. Walters, they were successfully able to have Ross jailed and dishonorably discharged,” Hill stated simply.
“How long did it take?” Lang asked.
“A few months,” the director continued, “It would have been shorter if their main witness wasn’t being operated on every time they turned around.”
“After that, they began arguing for the rights superheroes have,” Coulson said and began listing off a few of what they had to fight for, “The right to privacy if underage. The right to decline missions. The right to negotiate within their own ranks. Keeping to their own districts and such…we have pages and pages of what superheroes that have signed the Accords are allowed to keep. All because one man knew it was only a matter of time.”
“You mean to say, Dr. Stark predicted my father would propose the Accord or that the Accords would somehow come into being?” T’Challa asked with a bit of a start. He didn’t think Dr. Stark could see into the future but logically figuring out what might come next would have been no problem for someone like the creator of Iron Man.
“The second,” Coulson answered, “With everything after all the Accords are nearly like any other laws/government, you give up some personal freedoms so that your neighbor doesn’t come to kill you over a small disagreement. With the Accords, Superheroes give up a few of their rights so that people feel safe and keep them from getting restrained. Namely, this keeps Superheroes in the good light doesn’t make the average citizen fear seeing them on the street.”
“Another set of checks and balances,” Scott stated simply.
“Correct, Lang,” Hill replied, “With more responsibility comes more rules…being some of the few that would save the world does mean you have to follow more laws but by doing so keep the people safer and keeps the world safer too.”
“How?” Steve stated with a hint of demanding. He didn’t get it. They were there to help people.
“By respecting what the people want,” Hill stated calmly, “You see if there is a small uprising let us say in the US here. A terrorist cell of some kind. The first thought would not be to send in the Avengers or a superhero at all. It would be to work up to the FBI and if they asked for help from a superhero then we would send one in.”
“Now, if this happens in another country,” Coulson took over, “Again we have to respect the chain of order, we cannot push a superhero from the states into a country that doesn’t want our help. They may have their own after all superheroes are not the just US born. Now, if it gets to a point they ask for help then we send one of own to assist them, not take over the operation. As it stands right now…many countries are not going to be welcoming Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Ant-man into the countries because of what you all have done. You have scared them. So even if they asked for help they would be requesting someone other than yourselves.”
“The people of the country have a right to ask for whom they want to work with…what you have demonstrated is that you don’t care what they want,” Hill stated with finality before adding on one last statement, while looking Rogers right in the eye, “You don’t care what they want…you do what you want. You are pushing your own wills onto them and not respecting theirs. That is not a hero…”
That made Steve sit back into his chair looking at them a little wide-eyed but…they weren’t wrong. Everything he had done…it was for Bucky. He didn’t care what anyone else thought and now hearing that he didn’t have to go as far as he did… That there was another way…the blond didn’t know what to think.
There was one last folder.
Picking it up, Hill never broke eye contact with him. She opened it and placed down between bother herself and Coulson before glancing over it and looking right back at the blond. She was ready to begin and didn’t even let him ready himself for the onslaught.
“I would ask if we really need to go over what we have on you Rogers,” she began, “but you are too thick headed to see it for yourself. So besides attempted murder, and all the evidence that they have of the way you had all abused Dr. Stark. There is the tunnel in Germany also the Leigpiz airpor-”
“I get it!” Steve exclaimed, “I screwed up!”
“You did more than screw up, Steven Grant Rogers,” Coulson intervened, drawing all attention to him, “You destroyed the faith many people had in our country. You represented our country as a whole…You forget your actions are seen by the whole world. Welcome to the life Dr. Stark has been in his whole life. You have no privacy, you are a public figure so you should have gotten used to it. He has learned to play the media so he can keep some sanity to himself. He lets them think what they please because he can then sweep the rug out from under them leaving them surprised and grasping trying to figure out what is going on. If there was anything to learn from living with Dr. Stark, it should have at least been that to realize there is more than one side to him.”
The use of his full name made Steve listen closer to what was being said. Like any child being scolded, the full name meant they were in big trouble and from what Coulson stated…he was. He had forgotten about the weight that came with the title of “Captain America”. The man was expected to act in the best interest of the country in mind and his own wants and needs were second. It was the price of hero…it was the price of anyone in the limelight. It was a price that Tony Stark never had a choice to pay and Steven Rogers did…he really could have taken a lesson from the billionaire. They all could have.
“Now,” Hill stated to gather the attention of everyone at the table, moving past Steve’s folder but still throwing it at him so he can look it over, “You are all now aware of the what we have compiled. We are not sure what Miss Walters has managed to get a hold of for her case. You at least have a starting point. Still with pending charges, leaving the country will not be treated lightly. It will make it seem as if you are once more running away from the consequences of your actions. With this action, I can assume you have roughly 14 days to prepare for court. That is the normal time frame after all.”
“So, you’re saying we are stuck here,” Natasha spoke the one thing they were all thinking about with varying forms of dread.
“If you try to leave, you will be met with force,” Coulson stated, “However if you stay we will make sure that no one is made aware of this situation until absolutely necessary.”
“You’ll keep them hidden until the court date?” T’Challa asked clearly stunned. This was not the outcome that he had imagined given how the two beside him had decimated the group.
“Yes, and afterward as well,” Hill said before adding on, “We want them to do their time in court. Not have a massacre on our doorstep. We are doing what is best for the situation. It does not mean they will be treated like honored guests…they should be thankful we have decided to do things this way. Some of the countries were getting a list of the most likely hiding places for them and Wakanda was relatively high on the list. I am not sure what they would have done but people were getting angry.”
This was not anything new for T’Challa but to hear that they highly suspected Wakanda, even though they were correct, was disturbing…taking them back would not be the best move for his country. With his hands clasped together, the young ruler took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Bringing his clasped hands to rest in from of his mouth the King nodded solemnly.
“It is most likely for the best…I cannot risk tragedy to befall my country. I am still responsible for many lives there,” T’Challa said with a touch of mixed regret and pain. He couldn’t bare to think what would happen if the world turned on just one country…let alone his own.
“I understand,” Steve replied, his voice small and meek knowing what he now did, “Thank you for everything you have done for us.”
“Then I think our meeting has come to an end for the time being,” Hill stated while rising from her seat, “We will show you to your quarters and tomorrow we will get you a lawyer. If you choose to have one that is. You have a right to decide, please let us know by tomorrow morning.”
“Yes, ma’am,” the Captain answered, even though it was directed at the entire group they still acted as a conglomerate most of the time. Hill directed her attention to the young King.
“You’re highness, do you need someone to escort you back to your jet?”
“No, the Dora are waiting for me outside the door. Besides, I have some matters to attend here in New York, may I bother you to have the jet kept here whilst I am away?”
“I was wondering where they were, but that can be done,” Hill said with a nod. It was odd not to see the bodyguards but she relaxed knowing they were around.
“Thank you, I shall be going,” T’Challa looked at the group he had harbored, “Good luck.”
With that, the young monarch left the room. The Dora quickly falling in line to keep their King safe. The young man could only pray he had indeed done the right thing. Sitting through that was not pleasant but it became clear who was really the victim…he should not have let vengeance cloud his judgment or let words of those who are biased cloud his vision. Still, he had a meeting with a certain CEO and he had to attend. However…he will no longer be able to ask about a genius who has all but disappeared from the center stage. This was an eye opening experience if there was one. He had chosen the correct side it seemed but didn’t follow through and failed that side as well.
Exiting the building and heading toward a sleek black car that was park outside with another of the Dora standing close by…it was time to see what damage he had truly caused his county. After all the other reason was to venture about future business relations between Stark Industries and some Wakandan ones…mainly the ones that had dealings with the Royal Court and Doras. The young king had to see where that was standing…he also had to inform his sister about what he had learned.
Stepping into the back seat of the car, T’Challa pulled out his phone. This was going to be a difficult conversation.
Back in the room, the Ex-Avengers had gotten their belongings, what was left of them and were following Coulson and Hill out of the room. They were lead a good distance away from the meeting room. Traveling down a corridor that they were certain would lead to another building. It had to be someplace away from the main building. Seems this place had many branches after all.
After entering the building Hill explained they had access to whatever they needed in this building and it was where they would be housed. There was a gym area and a rec room but not too much else like the Compound had had. It was still sinking in that they were probably going to be there a while. So they may as well make the best of it. The director also made note that if there were things that they would need to make mention of it and they will see what they could do.
With that, all settled Hill lead them to where their rooms were. They were nothing special. They weren’t even painted beyond factory standards. Bare beige walls with a bed, a small desk, black lamp, chair, and nightstand. That was it. The living space felt nothing like the homey personal feeling they were expecting to have when they came back…but it all made sense. The group wasn’t back so why should have they expected something grander? Why should that have been expecting to just be welcomed back with no string?
As Coulson and Hill were leaving, the director stopped and turned back toward the group. She had one last memo for them. In case they had any bright ideas, it was best to get them dealt with now. Clearing her throat, she got their attention and let them know that the area was re-enforced and also protected in other ways.
“Be warned, the building is warded as well…I would not try anything, Miss Maximoff. The wards from, what I was told, will have the power backfire on the user if it meets certain qualifications…those of which you do fall under. Our agents that will be dealing with you have been warded as well.”
There was a sharp nod from the Scarlet Witch, she wasn’t exactly happy to hear that but with what she had pulled on Vision…they weren’t exactly trusting of her. There was an internal struggle within her but in the end, she would just have to accept that this was just how it was going to be till after the trial. They were going to court…there were no ifs, and's or buts about it. At least this place was better than a full out prison. It wasn’t Wakanda but they still had some freedoms.
Then only then did Hill, Coulson and their two other agents leave the area. Leaving the group only with their thoughts.
Hill and Coulson made it down to her office before the lesser agents were dismissed. Once the door was closed the Director and Co-Director became Maria and Phil again. Two people who had seen the rise and fall of the Avengers. Yet, the one who could build them up again was still alive, in recovery but with his help, they could make a team that the world would, hopefully, look up to.
Still, the fact that the team had to be rebuilt made them question their original members all that much more. How did they not see the that? Did they have such confidence in the ones they picked they didn’t see their personalities would not mesh under the pressure they were put under? Maybe if they had more time to examine everything but no, the universe gave them no time to prepare. With no time…they never saw the cracks that no normal mortar could fill.
“We aren’t really going to keep them hidden away from all punishment?” Coulson asked. He felt as if they shouldn’t have to keep the guilty hidden. They did the crimes, so by that logic, they should do the time. He wasn’t completely briefed on the topic before he was sent off to get Natasha. That was hard to do…to see someone who helped put his best friend’s God Son and good friend of his own in a position where they were fighting for their life. Needless to say, whatever Natasha had to say fell on deaf ears and she figured that out fairly quickly.
“Of course not, we will inform those that deserve justice,” Hill stated simply, “It will just be one at a time allowing the countries to prepare for court. They will be facing a series of trials.” That was the other reason for filling them in on what they all had against them. That meeting was to make them feel for what their actions had caused. They would also need some of that information for their attornies, there was no way they could get themselves out of the hole they dug on their own. A lawyer was going to be needed for them.
“You mess with his family, he will make sure you feel it. I have a suspicion that he will work things so that the former Avengers will not come off of SHIELD’s leashes again as the worst case scenario. Best case is that they serve time but we have doubts on just how that will go with the public.”
“They’ll never realize it,” Phil concluded.
“Obviously not…dangerous people like them need to be kept chained down…even if it is with their own delusions.”
Sometimes the mind can be the best and worst type of prison, depending on which side you were on. For them, they could keep them contained with a clever use of words and protocols. They had done it before, they could do it again and even more so now that they were on the vindictive side of things. The paperwork was going to be horrendous though.
Hill noted that her friend was a little worse for wear, as she stepped toward her desk but heard no sign of her Co following her. He had not yet answered her and was staring off into the distance a bit. He was in deep thought. She looked him over and just knew there was more than what she could see on the surface. Walking up to him, Maria placed a gentle hand on Phil’s shoulder. It got him to look her in the eye.
“I was just wondering how Barton and Romanoff fell so far…” That was extraordinarily hard for Phil to come to terms with. He had worked with the two of them for so long if anything he would have placed money on the two of them being the ones that could be the most help to Stark. Knowing he was wrong about not only them but also Captain America…Phil felt he had grown too biased.
“I know it is hard Phil,” She stated her voice taking a slightly softer tone but not by much. Still, it was more than enough for her Co to realize she was being genuine, “but I think they fell when they became part of a public team, yet used to a secret life.”
“We may have missed judged them as reliable members of the Avengers,” Phil concluded after a moment of silence.
“And I think we are all at fault for that one.”
After all…the main reason Tony was put on the team was because Fury wanted to help keep him safe. He knew doing everything solo was bound to be more dangerous than if they were on a team. Fury also knew he wouldn’t be able to change Tony’s mind…but he didn’t expect a couple of his best agents to be some of those that would deal the harshest of blows. Fury, Rhodes, Pepper and Sharon were the only family Tony had left. So everything they did, they did because they thought it would help. It didn’t help that the Universe seemed to have a target on Tony’s back.
At least they made one correct choice, Dr. Banner…he had to be a godsend of some kind. They had so much to be grateful for because that one man was the one that cared for someone beyond his own. Jennifer had told them that Dr. Banner would be back as soon as he was able, right now helping out somewhere in Africa. Bless that man’s heart. He was a good man…and only Tony seemed to appreciate him, in return Bruce was now doing what he could for Tony. No one could ask for anything more.