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Day In Court

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Steve took his seat in the witness box and tried to look calm, cool and collected. When the U.N. had finally agreed to allow the ExVengers to return, it had been under the proviso that trials had to be held by the ICC and their panel of judges. Steve’s own trial was still to be held but Scott and Clint’s trials had gone reasonably well and Wanda’s had been a breeze. All charges of using mind control on other people that had been levelled against her had been dropped after her lawyer had successfully convinced the judges that since no one could empirically prove mind control, it hadn’t happened.

Now it was Bucky’s trial and Steve was worried. The prosecution lawyers had been looking gleeful over the last couple of days even though it had been pretty dry with lots of experts giving testimony about the known missions of the Winter Soldier and detailing what had happened in Bucharest and Berlin. Steve was the first real (in his mind) witness to be called.

Bucky’s lawyer started asking him questions and Steve was able to gain some confidence about how easy it was to answer them. They were general sort of things, mostly about Bucky’s character and what kind of person he’d been before and during the war. It was only when the prosecution lawyer stood up and began his questioning that things started to go downhill.

“Mr Rogers,” the man began and Steve had to stifle the urge to insist on his proper title. “You have repeatedly claimed that Sergeant Barnes did not commit the crimes of which he is accused, is that correct?”

Steve nodded. “Yes.” He has been repeatedly warned by the lawyers to answer the prosecution’s questions as simply as he could.

“And why is that?”

“Because it wasn’t Bucky.”

“Could you please elaborate?”

“Bucky had been brainwashed by HYDRA. He wasn’t in control.”

Something shark like seemed to come over the lawyer and there was the distinct air of a pleased grin about him even though his expression was solemn and stern.

“So you’re saying that Sergeant Barnes was being mind controlled?”

Steve saw Bucky’s lawyer go wide eyed and give him some sort of look that he couldn’t decipher. He ignored it in favour of answering the question that had been put to him.

“Yes.”

Now the lawyer gave a cold, malicious smile and turned to the judges and the court. “I would like to draw the court’s attention to exhibit number 145, namely the transcript of the trial of Wanda Maximoff.” The judges nodded silently. “In it, Ms Maximoff’s lawyer successfully contests that if mind control cannot be proven, then it does not exist and has not occurred.” He turned back to Steve. “Do you agree, Mr Rogers?”

Steve froze, realising the trap he’d been gently led into. If he said, yes, then he negated his entire argument about Bucky’s role in the Winter Soldier’s actions and if he said no, he undermined Wanda’s freedom as the ICC prosecutors could feasibly use his opposition as part of their promised appeal against Wanda’s verdict.

“B...Bucky has those triggers words,” he said desperately. “That proves mind control.”

The prosecution lawyer continued that cold smile. “Dr Stark and Dr Banner both reported lingering effects from Ms Maximoff’s reported mind control of them. In their case, certain phrases and scenarios that brought back the anxiety and panic she instilled within them. That doesn’t sound much different to Sergeant Barnes’ trigger words, does it?”

Bucky’s lawyer had warned him not to answer any rhetorical questions so he stayed silent.

The lawyer waited for a moment then addressed the court in general again. “If Dr Stark and Dr Banner’s testimony is not considered valid then we cannot consider these supposed trigger words to be valid either.” He smiled coldly again. “Of course, I suppose we could try these trigger words right now and see what effect they have.”

Steve sucked in a breath. The Wakandan scientists had actually done a lot of work with Bucky and while the trigger words weren’t precisely gone, they had desensitised Bucky to them to the point where he could easily overcome them and retain control.

But this was another Catch-22 situation. If they tried the trigger words and Bucky allowed himself to succumb to them then they’d have proven mind control (therefore undermining Wanda’s defence and opening her up to a legitimate and serious appeal) and they’d have the Winter Soldier on their hands. If he resisted them, then the lawyer had won another point.

“No?” the lawyer said. “But wouldn’t that prove your case, Mr Rogers?” The lawyer didn’t wait for an answer and instead faced the judges. “The prosecution would like to introduce a motion to disregard any potential testimony regarding the possibility of mind control being used on Sergeant James Barnes as per the precedent set in the case of the ICC vs Wanda Maximoff.”

“May I approach the bench?” Bucky’s lawyer said hurriedly.

Both lawyers for the defence and prosecution walked over to stand below where the judges were sitting. There was a quiet exchange of words that even Steve couldn’t hear, the court having been outfitted to prevent that, and then the judges conferred between themselves as Bucky’s lawyer sat down again and the prosecution lawyer returned to stand beside his table.

Finally, the head judge spoke, “We find the prosecution’s argument compelling and will uphold the precedent set previously in this court. All future testimony and discussion regarding mind control is to be disregarded and may not be used.”

Steve shot to his feet. “No! You can’t do that!”

The head judge banged his gavel. “Sit down, Mr Rogers, and refrain from making any further outbursts lest you be deemed to be in contempt.”

Steve ignored him. “Bucky’s innocent! He didn’t do this! He was mind controlled by HYDRA and you’re just letting Tony manipulate you to punish both of us!”

“Mr Rogers!” the head judge thundered, wielding his gavel furiously. “Sit. Down.”

Steve hesitated but he could only see disaster being the result of this sham of a trial. Somehow Tony must have manipulated things to punish Bucky and Steve was now certain that his own trial would be equally as rigged. It was clear they would not get justice in this court and their only chance was to escape until they could deal with Tony.

With that decided in his own mind, he leapt over the front of the witness box and started running towards Bucky, setting people screaming and scrabbling to get out of his way. He didn’t get more than three steps before the security guards that had been discreetly placed around the courtroom raised the special guns they been given. A moment later, he was peppered with darts and his knees went out from underneath him. As blackness claimed him, he heard the judge call out “Arrest that man. This court is adjourned until 9am tomorrow.” and felt despair flood through as he realised he’d failed.