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Redemption Road (is Bumpy)

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A neat suit that made her look professional and feel confident?

Check.

A StarkPad with her annotated version of the Accords on it, ready to have more notes taken?

Check.

A StarkPhone, just in case any urgent business came up?

Check.

A super-sized box of aspirins and a bottle of water, just in case?

Double-check.

Maria Hill wasn’t ready. It wouldn’t stop her, but she wasn’t ready. This would not be a fun conversation, and she knew it going in there. Either all of them had missed something absolutely vital in the Accords, or… Well, she’d find out, regardless. It was her job.

Taking a deep breath, and another for good measure, she strode up to the door, which a guard opened for her.

The space the rogues were held in was reinforced, making sure it would be capable of holding supernatural threats. Maria remembered, way back when, Stark asking Banner if the Hulk would test them for him. She hadn’t been able to help a smile when Banner had agreed, proof of his faith that Stark would never use this as a trick to lock him up. Ultron really had ruined a lot.

Guards had put down a basic chair and a small table for her, since she anticipated this would take a while. In the row of cells on the other side, the rogues were now realizing she was there. Lang didn’t know her, and she and Maximoff had never quite been on good terms, but Rogers, Wilson and Barton smiled at her in relief.

“Maria, thank God you’re here,” Barton exclaimed. “You have to get us out of here, this is ridiculous!”

“I am here to see what I can do,” she assured him. “We need to talk about what happened, and why. None of this can or will be used against you in court - if anything, it might help your defense establish a case, should we be able to provide one.”

It was probably fortunate they missed the allusion to Stark, all things considered. Instead, Rogers frowned that ‘Captain America is Disappointed in you’-frown she knew a lot of her colleagues had trouble resisting. She never had been one of them. “Don’t they think this has gone on long enough yet? Court, really?”

Maria kept her face impassive. “Yes, court. I’m not sure what else you were expecting.”

“For them to realize we were right! The Accords should never have existed, Maria. Tell me you realize that as well.”

“Alright,” she nodded, grabbing the StarkPad and getting ready to take notes on their arguments. This was why she had come here. “Tell me all of your reasons, in as much detail as possible.”

At once, the room was filled with all of them talking or shouting their reasons.

“Hold up, hold up! One at a time, please!”

Rogers started, the others respecting him enough to let him go first. “Look, I’m sure he meant well - ” scoffs from Barton, Maximoff and Lang interrupted him briefly, “ - but Tony never should have let those Accords happen. I know he felt guilty about Ultron, and I get that he needs some control, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should be painted with the same brush. It would tie our hands, make us do things we don’t want to, make us not do things we should… They have agendas, and those can do very dangerous things.”

“Not to mention,” Wilson followed up, “the fact that they put Ross in charge of it. Who thought that would ever end well? Just look at what it did already!”

“We’re free people, and they want to collar us like dogs?” Maximoff sounded almost shrill, close to screaming and her hand touching the collar around her neck. “We try to save them, try to do the best we can, and they want to punish us for it! Want us on their leash so they can get us to do whatever they want!”

Barton rolled his eyes. “It’s because of Stark. Really, they should’ve just named them the Stark Accords instead. He’s the one who made Ultron. He’s the one constantly fucking up and putting people in danger. He’s the one who should be put in check. Not us. But instead, we all have to deal with that stupid-ass document he thought would be a brilliant idea, he gets us thrown into prison like a bunch of damn criminals and now he’s too damn stupid to just realize his Accords are stupid as fuck. Futurist my ass, he’s making another stupid decision that’ll come back to bite everyone in the ass.”

By now, Maria was mostly just glad she was recording the meeting. There was no way she’d be able to take any notes. It was all she could do to keep her face impassive.

“We had to make a choice - either we willingly signed away our rights, or they would be taken from us anyway. As heroes, we stand up for the right thing, even if it’s not the easy thing.” Rogers sounded so damn genuine it terrified Maria. Genuine chills were running up her back.

Calling upon all of her training, she kept herself from reacting outwardly. “And in the Accords?” It was why she had come here. “Can you point out the exact articles and clauses you object to, and how they should be changed?”

“Didn’t you read them?” Wilson sounded incredulous. “We object to all of it, and it should be thrown in the trash. We don’t need to be managed like a bunch of criminals.”

“Could set it on fire first,” Barton muttered. “Or throw it into a pool of acid. Maybe throw Stark in alongside it.”

“You say the Accords tie your hands,” Maria tried again. Her StarkPad was still in front of her, untouched. Her stomach was sinking, and she feared she might throw up. “Can you point out the articles that concern you most?”

Please. Just, please.

“All of it!” Rogers cried. “We are not signing our lives, our choices away! And because we refuse to do that, they’re taking them anyway, throwing us into prison like we’re criminals!”

She took a sip of water to try to settle her stomach.

With a deep breath, she settled herself. “Alright, let’s try this another way. Who of you has read the full Accords?”

“We’ve read enough of them,” Wilson scoffed. The others all nodded.

“Which was the summary provided to you by Secretary Ross?” They nodded again. “Anything more?”

“It was clear enough,” Rogers asserted, and again they all nodded.

“Right,” Maria said, and grabbed the bottle of aspirin to choke down four of them. “Right. I think I need a break.” Before any of them could call her back, she was out of the door. She needed fresh air.