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Voices in the Dark

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Sam was seething as he stalked the hallways of T’Challa’s palace. He paused to take a deep, calming breath as he approached the king’s study. He bowed respectfully to the Dora Milaje standing guard outside the closed doors.

“I’d like to request a brief meeting with King T’Challa if he isn’t busy right now,” Sam said.

One of the guards said, “I will pass on your request to His Majesty. Wait here.”

The other guard silently stared at Sam as he stood at military rest. He was a patient man and didn’t mind waiting even though he was feeling very angry at the moment.

After a brief wait, the first guard reappeared. She left the door open and said, “King T’Challa will see you now.”

Sam nodded and said, “Thank you,” as he passed by them into the study. He bowed before the king, who was sitting behind his massive desk.

“Hello, Your Majesty, thank you for seeing me so quickly.”

“There is no need to be formal, Samuel. You may call me T’Challa. What can I do for you? You seem to be agitated.”

“Steve just informed me of what happened in Siberia between him, Bucky, and Tony. I’m getting the feeling like I’m missing part of the story. I can’t believe that they attacked Tony and just left him there, alone and injured,” he stated angrily. He shook his head to clear the images of a hurt and broken Tony lying on the ground.

“I have two things I’d like to ask you. First, do you know how Tony is? Is he ok?”

T’Challa looked at the upset man in front of him. He could see that he cared about his former teammate. “Tony was very injured, but he is healing nicely now. We talked a few days ago, and he sounded better. What is the second thing you want?”

“I’d like to talk to Tony. I want to apologize to him. Do you have a way for me to contact him securely? I don’t want Ross to trace me. I don’t want to lead him here to Wakanda, not after you generously offered to shelter us.”

T’Challa nodded. “Thank you for your concern, but Wakandan technology is more advanced than the U.S. government. I can give you a secure phone,” he said. “May I ask why you’re apologizing to Tony? You weren’t in Siberia; you didn’t attack him.”

“I sent him to Siberia after Steve and Bucky. I asked him to go there as a friend, to help them stop Zemo. If I hadn’t have told him where they were, he wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”

“You can’t deal with what-if scenarios, Samuel. You cannot predict what could have happened. Zemo might have defeated Steven and James and released the Winter Soldiers. Then, where would we be? You and your friends would still be in the Raft.”

“I see your point, but I still feel partially to blame. I know Tony would have found them in Siberia; I just got him there sooner.”

T’Challa reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a sleek black cell phone. He handed it over to Sam. “Do you have his number?”

“I know the tower’s number. I’ll ask Friday to connect me. Thank you, T’Challa, I really appreciate this,” Sam said gratefully.

“It takes a strong man to admit his mistakes and apologize for them,” the king said. “I respect and admire your integrity.”

Sam bowed. “Thank you.”

As he walked back to his guest room, Sam thought about what he wanted to say to Tony. A lot of mistakes had been made by both teams. He would own his mistakes and take responsibility for his actions.

He locked his door and walked over to his couch. He decided to call Tony immediately so he wouldn’t stress too much and chicken out. After dialing the tower’s number, Sam waited for Friday to answer.

“Hello, may I ask who is calling?” a robotic female voice asked.

“Hi, Friday, it’s Sam Wilson. I’d like to talk to Tony if it’s possible please,” he said.

“I don’t think that would be wise, Sergeant Wilson,” Friday replied.

“I understand,” he said. “Can I leave him a message?”

There was a slight pause as Friday processed the request. “Yes, Sergeant Wilson, you may leave a message for Sir. After you hear the beep, you may begin.”

“Thank you, Friday, I’m glad Tony has you to watch over him.”

Friday didn’t reply and a beep immediately sounded.

“Hey, Tony, it’s Sam. Sam Wilson although I’m guessing you already knew that since Friday told you about this message. Shit, man, I’m nervous. T’Challa gave me this phone, so don’t worry about it being traced. Steve just told me about the fight in Siberia, so I’m calling to see how you are doing. I hope you’re doing ok. I’m sure Steve didn’t tell me the whole story, so I’d like to hear your side of it. I can’t believe he just left you there. Who does that kind of thing? You just don’t leave a man behind, especially an injured friend and teammate. I know you guys were on opposite sides of the Accords and we just had a knock-down, drag out fight at the airport, but you don’t walk away from a man who needs help. Steve was wrong and he’s too proud to apologize.

“I know Bucky is his best friend, but he loses all perspective when it comes to him. Bucky is definitely his blind spot. I still can’t believe things got so out of hand. I’m sorry I sent you to Siberia. I knew Steve and Bucky would need back up against Zemo. Even though we disagreed about the Accords, I still trusted you and believed you would help them. I don’t know what went wrong. Steve won’t tell me what started the fight. I’m guessing he or Bucky did something stupid.

“I also need to apologize about the Accords. Friends don’t always have to agree on something; it’s ok to have different opinions. I’m sorry that I didn’t stop and ask you about your reasons. I’m sure you didn’t wake up one morning and decide that the Avengers were too dangerous and needed to be under government control. I should have asked you why you agreed to the Accords. As your friend and teammate, I owed it to you to offer you a chance to explain your reasoning. But I didn’t, so I’m sorry.

“Alright, man, I guess that’s all I wanted to say. You can call me back if you want to talk. I’ll understand if you don’t. Take care of yourself, Tony.”

Sam hung up the phone and wondered if he would hear back from Tony. He had a feeling that he wouldn’t. He couldn’t blame him. He was sure the other man was feeling hurt and betrayed, and Sam had sided with Steve. He was sure that Tony didn’t want anything to do with any of them.

Meanwhile in New York, Tony went upstairs to his penthouse after spending several hours in his workshop. He couldn’t spend as much time as he wanted working because of the brace on his wrist. He was slowly healing from the fight in Siberia. Two supersoldiers definitely packed a punch, he thought wryly.

As he was making a smoothie, Tony was informed by Friday that he had a message.

“Boss, I have a message for you. Sam Wilson called a couple hours ago. He wanted to talk to you, but I knew you didn’t want to be disturbed. So, he left you a message. Do you want me to play it?”

He looked confused. Why did Sam want to talk to him? Was he calling to yell at him? Did he blame Tony for his imprisonment?

“Friday, do I want to listen to it?”

“Yes, boss, I think you should listen to it,” Friday said soothingly.

“Ok, play it for me.”

Tony stopped making his smoothie as he listened to Sam’s apology. He was surprised that Sam was feeling guilty about sending him to Siberia to meet Steve and Bucky. He wasn’t surprised that Steve was still keeping secrets. He knew Steve wouldn’t do anything to make Bucky look bad. He agreed with his assessment that Bucky was Steve’s weakness. He could hear the anger in his voice when he talked about three of them fighting. He would also swear he could hear genuine concern for him, but he didn’t want to get his hopes up. He thought he and Sam were good friends before the Accords. Sam would join him in his workshop and they would discuss improvements and new designs for his wings. He also helped Tony with designing Redwing. Tony was going to miss their talks and Sam’s company. He decided not to call him back even though he wanted to.