Wanda had only a moment to gather herself, to register the fact that she was free, truly free of that place, before she was surrounded.

Clint swept her into a bear hug, and she laughed weakly, hugging him back, as Steve came up behind her. The super soldier swept her up in a hug of his own the second Clint set her down, and she only realized she was shaking when he set her on her feet once more and she felt Clint catch her shoulders to steady her. Scott sort of awkwardly stood in front of her, his arms hesitating somewhere between a handshake and a high-five, before she stepped in close and gave him a hug as well.

She turned to Sam as the others all laughed and clapped one another on the back, stepping into the man's open arms and letting her head rest on his shoulder.

She felt her throat tighten a little with emotion as Sam's arms settled around her.

He had offered to let himself get locked back up in that underwater hell so long as it meant that she got to go free.

"Thank you," she breathed against his ear, and felt him nod.

"Anything for you, Wanda," he said, flashing her a little smile as he drew back.

Wanda turned to find herself quickly scooped into Natasha's arms, the assassin cuddling her close in a near uncharacteristic show of affection. Wanda cautiously let herself relax into Natasha's embrace, feeling an unspoken apology for the fight passing between them as they melted right back into comfortable familiarity as if they'd never been at odds. Her mentor took a half-step back to look her over, and the redhead's lips quickly tugged into a frown when her gaze landed on Wanda's throat.

"Can we get this stupid thing off of her?" Natasha called to the others, a finger hooked around the shock collar in disgust, and Steve broke away from the group to go dig a little tool box out from under one of the seats.

"Sure thing. Probably have bolt cutters in here somewhere..."

Wanda took a moment while he was busy to look around at her team.

They were here. They were all here. They'd come back.

And she and Sam and Clint and Scott had all been freed from that awful prison.

A giddy little laugh escaped her lips at that, and Clint shot her a smile.

"God, it's good to hear you laugh again," he grinned. "I was starting to get worried."

"Bingo!" a voice called before she could reply, and Wanda glanced up as Steve held up a pair of bolt cutters in victory, turning to her with a huge grin.

"Sit," Natasha instructed, placing a hand on her shoulder and adding a little pressure, directing Wanda onto the bench once more. "I'm going to go check on our pilot."

Natasha turned to walk away, and Wanda turned her gaze to Steve as the man settled himself beside her, the large pair of bolt cutters held carefully in his grip.

"Just stay still a bit longer, we'll have you out of this damn thing in no time," the Captain said, his grin turning into a frown when Natasha shouted "language" cheerfully from up by the cockpit.

"Oh, come on, guys, I thought we agreed to drop that..." he groaned.

Wanda felt a little smile spread across her face for the first time in what felt like days.

The Captain shook his head as Natasha winked at him, turning his attention back to Wanda with a long sigh as he muttered to himself.

"You make one comment, one time..."

Steve gently brushed her hair out of the way, tilting her head to the side so he could get the bolt cutters up near the collar.

"Scott, you're sure this is deactivated?" he asked, and the other man nodded.

"Checked the wires myself. They should all be disconnected."

Steve turned his attention back to her with a raised eyebrow.

"You ready?"

Wanda gave a little nod, gritting her teeth in anticipation.

With a piercing screech of metal giving way and a heavy clunk, Wanda felt the collar jostle against her neck as the bolt cutters severed it. Steve was prying it open a second later, and Wanda took a deep breath as her powers pulsed red-hot through her blood.

Freedom.

Steve was looking down at the collar in mild question, and Wanda felt a little flare of irrational anger as her eyes scanned over the awful device for the first time. When he noticed her staring, Steve offered the collar out to her with a raised eyebrow, but Wanda just recoiled a little.

"Destroy it," she said, her tone flat and hard. "I never want to see it again."

The Captain's eyes softened with sympathy, and with a metallic screech and a flex of rather impressive biceps, the man had bent the collar into itself, repeating the action until all that remained was a matted ball of metal and fraying wires.

"You want a shot at it with your powers?" he asked, packing the remains a bit more tightly, and Wanda hummed out a little amused sound in reply.

"Maybe when we land. I don't trust my emotions to take such a task at a small scale right now."

The man nodded, stuffing the scraps out of sight in a pocket and taking a step so that he stood in front of her. Wanda stood to face him and Steve drew her close, his fingers weaving through her hair to cradle her head to his shoulder.

"I am never gonna let that happen to you again, I promise," Steve murmured against her temple.

"I trust you," Wanda whispered in reply, knowing that there was really very little he could do to keep that vow but appreciating the words and sentiment nonetheless.

The Captain hugged her tight for another long few seconds before letting her go, and Wanda took a slow breath to get her emotions back under control as they swelled up with affection.

She was still feeling a bit woozy from the drugs, so when Steve suggested that she sit back and recover for a bit, she didn't argue.

Once the Captain had moved away, the seat beside her was taken over by another familiar face.

"Hey, kiddo, how you feeling?" Clint asked, lowering himself down at her side and slinging an arm around her shoulders in a partial hug.

"A lot better now."

"Good, that's...that's good," he said, his eyes tracing over her, lingering on the dark shadows beneath her eyes and the redness around her throat where the electricity had almost burned her. "Hey, where'd you get the sweater?" Clint asked, pointedly changing the subject as he cleared his throat and blinked hard.

"Vizh came to see me while I was in solitary. He brought it for me."

"That was nice of him. At least you got to see one familiar face while you were down there," he muttered, tightening his one-armed hug around her. "God, I hate that you had to go through that...I should have just left you back on the farm with Laura."

"Don't be silly," she scolded lightly. "You were up against super soldiers and you needed help. If I hadn't come, Steve and Bucky may not have made it to the jet to escape."

"I still shouldn't have let them take you prisoner with the rest of us."

"You couldn't have known."

But Clint was shaking his head.

"You're wrong, kiddo. I should have seen it coming a mile away."

Wanda tilted her head slightly in question as Clint looked down at his feet with a sigh.

"I've worked with governments before. Specifically when it came to people who have been enhanced," he started, his brows drawn in a little frown. "People are always going to be afraid of what they can't understand. Which means there's a bunch of damn idiots out there that will only ever see you as a threat, no matter how much good you do. And I'd like to say I can protect you from them, but clearly I can't. Hell," he said with a bitter little laugh. "I couldn't even get you out of the compound without half my plan relying on you taking over once I got my ass handed to me."

"Clint..."

"After Sokovia, I swore to myself that I'd never let anything bad happen to you," he admitted with a shrug. "I couldn't save your brother, so I figured if I could at least keep you safe..."

Wanda swallowed hard, the sudden mention of her twin twisting like something sharp in her chest.

Clint let out a slow breath, leaning forward over his knees with his hands folded together, staring off into the distance for a long moment before he glanced back up at her.

"I just want to lock you away somewhere, so that no one will ever touch you again," he shrugged. "But how would that be any better than Tony locking you up at the compound? Or the UN sealing you away at the Raft?" He shook his head. "The only way I can keep you safe is to keep your prisoner. And I'm never gonna do that to you."

Wanda reached out slowly, threading her fingers through his, and forced a little smile as he met her gaze.

"I would not go back and do things differently, even knowing that I would wind up at the Raft," she reassured him. "Like you told me before...it's my job."

"You know, I couldn't be any prouder of you if you were my own kid," Clint said in reply, a strained little grin on his lips and his eyes glassy as he looked her over. Wanda returned the smile, and the man gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze before getting to his feet. "You should try to rest. I'll be back in a bit - the one-armed wonder is currently sitting in my pilot's seat."

Wanda bit back a soft laugh as he pressed a little kiss to the top of her head before letting her go, making his way to the front of the plane.

Once he was out of view, she looked around.

The others were all scattered about the jet, reading or napping or looking out the window as they daydreamed. Steve was up near the cockpit, his nose buried in some schematic.

With a little huff of breath, Wanda pushed herself to her feet and crossed to stand before him.

She could hear the ending mutters of an argument from up front, and was just in time to duck out of the way as Bucky marched into the back of the plane, pouting as he muttered to himself about "just because you're named after a bird doesn't mean you can fly better than me..." before throwing himself into an empty seat near Sam.

Steve smiled after the man for a long second before turning his attention to her, his expression softening a bit.

"Wanda," he smiled, warm and welcoming. "What can I do for you?"

"I wanted to thank you again," she murmured, shuffling a foot. "For coming back."

"Of course I came back," Steve's expression gentled a touch, "I couldn't leave my best girl locked up."

Wanda took a deep breath, looking up at the ceiling to blink back tears as her emotions tried to take over. When she managed to compose herself she found Steve watching her with the same gentle smile, concern still in his eyes.

She wanted to cry at the thought that someone had cared enough about them to risk a prison break, but they had all been rescued, they were all safe now, and that was something to be happy about, so instead she forced a smile.

"I thought your best girl was Sharon," Wanda teased weakly, and she was rewarded with a pair of loud cat-calls from Sam and Bucky as Steve sank down in his chair, face slowly reddening.

The sight brought a real smile to her lips, and blinking away the tears got easier.

"Shall I take that as a 'yes'?" she asked.

"You missed it, Wanda, he got a kiss and everything," Sam laughed.

"Yeah, although the poor girl had to practically grab him by the collar to get it," Bucky scoffed.

"I will personally hand the pair of you over to Tony if you breathe another word about that," Steve threatened weakly, hiding his face in a hand. The two in the back simply replied by pursing their lips and making smooching noises.

"Finally decide to take my advice, then?" Natasha asked, throwing him a knowing smirk that Steve returned with a glare.

"Thought you lot were supposed to be on my side."

"Oh, we are," Natasha nodded, her expression serious. "We fully support your budding relationship, and will be sure to take every opportunity to tease you about it, as any good friends would."

"I didn't tease you about your relationship," Steve protested.

"I don't operate under playground rules," she replied with a wicked grin. "Just cause you took the high road doesn't mean the rest of us are going to."

"So when do we get to meet the lucky girl? Should we be looking to set up chaperones?" Scott asked, and was rewarded with Steve tossing a crumpled up piece of paper at him.

"I'll say right now that I'm not giving him the sex talk. We don't know each other that well," Sam said, raising his hands and shooting a grin at Bucky when the other super soldier made a face.

"Why me?"

"You've known him for like, ever."

"Is this where I insert a comment about Steve being a ninety-year-old virgin?" Clint called from the front.

"That is not true!" Steve hollered back.

"Sorry, my bad. Eighty nine," was the flippant reply, and Steve growled a little under his breath.

"Clint-"

Wanda laughed brightly, her heart soaring with the warmth and familiarity of her friend's banter as she dropped into a seat beside Steve. The soldier turned to her with a long-suffering look as Bucky whispered something to Sam and the two erupted into laughter.

"You have anything to add to the discussion?" Steve asked her rather dryly.

"I think you two are very cute together," Wanda told him with a smile.

The way Steve 's mouth slowly pulled up into a smirk following her comment, however, told her that she'd just invited herself into the receiving end of their teasing. She tilted her head in question as Steve righted himself in his chair, leaning forward to address her with an "innocent" little smile that was just a touch too wide to be genuine.

"You know...I could say the same thing about you and Vision," he started, and Wanda looked away quickly as she felt her face heat up. Steve laughed at her reaction, and she snatched one of the magazines up, flipping it to a random page to bury her nose in. "Oh, is that a blush? I think it is," he teased.

"S-shut up."

"He did come to visit her when we were in lockup," Sam pointed out, trying to catch her eye.

"Twice, if I'm not mistaken," Clint called from up front. The traitor.

"He was...checking in on me, is all," she said, folding the magazine closed. The boys nodded and winked at one another, grinning, and Wanda drew herself up with as much indignation as she could muster. "He was just being friendly!"

"Only to you," Sam grinned. "He didn't come visit me."

"Or being me a sweater," Clint called.

"And he certainly wasn't pulling his punches for anyone else at the airport," Natasha added with a smirk.

"Aww, and they'd be so cute together," Scott smiled.

"Oh my God you are all insufferable," Wanda muttered, burying her face in her hands. With a laugh, Sam stood and crossed to her, tossing an arm about her shoulders companionably.

"Look, Wanda, if you ever need advice on boys," Sam started, his face all seriousness when she glanced up between her fingers with a raised eyebrow. "Do not ask me. Or Steve. Or Natasha. Or any of us, really, we're all terrible with relationships."

"I have a wife and kids, thank you," Clint called from the front.

"Excepting Barton. Go to him for advice."

"I hate all of you," Wanda muttered into her hands, her face flushed so hot that she could feel it.

"Love you too, kiddo," Steve grinned, reaching to clap her gently on the shoulder.

"Hey, do you think they'll let me go through the drive-through in this thing?" Clint called back to them before anyone else could speak. "I think I see a McDonalds on the GPS, and after their crappy excuse for prison food, I'm dying for a chocolate shake."

Instead of a reply, he got a chorus of orders shouted from the back, and Wanda smiled as Bucky asked Steve who this "McDonald" was, and if he was on their side.

As Natasha tried to convince Bucky that McDonald was an Irish SHIELD agent with a red, white and yellow mech suit like Stark's, Wanda looked around with a smile.

They were all standing around, laughing and joking despite the bruises and scrapes and prison uniforms, teasing one another like there had never been a fight at all, and it sent a warm feeling curling up through her chest. A warmth that she hadn't really felt since losing Pietro.

It was familiarity, and trust, and love.

It was family.

It was a strange family, to be sure, but they were hers now. And they would all protect each other.

As long as they had each other, she knew that everything would be okay.


Vision stood in front of the empty cell, staring in through the glass as if focusing hard enough would make Wanda reappear.

Not that he ever wanted to see her back in that wretched place, but at least then he would know where she was...that she wasn't injured or dead or worse...

He'd had no reply to his email, nor had he really expected one - it was far too risky to make such things a two-way conversation - but that left him completely in the dark as to what had happened.

Had Captain Rogers managed to get them out? Had they all escaped? Were any of them injured from the attempt?

Or, the possibility that he didn't want to think about...

Had it failed?

Had they all gotten arrested and simply been transferred to another prison?

Or had the UN chosen that as the final straw and executed them all?

Feeling chilled to the core, Vision tore his eyes away from the awful little cell and let himself phase through the metal plating of the Raft, up toward the landing bay.

The top of the prison was still raised above the water level with the hatch open, the sky shining bright above the platform where there were soldiers running around in a panic like ants whose nest had just been stepped on.

Something had clearly gone down here...something huge.

Vision stuck to the shadows, not letting his presence be known as he watched the men scurry about, shouting to one another and pointing. Scattered across the cold concrete, he could see the bullet casings from the guards' standard-issue weapons, as well as the used rounds of the non-lethal stun shot that both Natasha and Clint normally carried.

There had been a fight.

His sharp eyes could pick up a few small splatters of blood around the landing bay, but they weren't large enough to be from anything more than shallow flesh wounds.

Here, at least, he could hope that the lingering evidence proved an escape. Or, at the very least, that his teammates were unharmed.

Although Wanda's shock collar was technically considered "not harming her" he remembered with a scowl, and Vision had to take a long few moments to settle the hot, tense feeling in his chest that he was starting to associate with the emotion "rage" before returning to his observation.

Most of the debris had been cleared away, as had most of the other things where he might find a clue as to what had happened, or where the others had gone. The security feeds had been pulled and spirited off to some office in the UN for evaluation, the cells stripped of anything that the prisoners might have left as a clue, and even the intake records for the ex-Avengers had mysteriously vanished from the classified files room, as if they'd never been here at all.

But then, corruption did so hate the light...

Vision observed for only a moment more before drawing back into himself. There was honestly very little that he could do here aside from look for any tiny, remaining clues that the others may have left for him, although leaving any kind of hint - no matter how encrypted - would be a risk that Captain Rogers was not likely to take with the safety of his imprisoned teammates on the line and help outside of himself unlikely to show up.

Vision let out a long breath in tired irritation, not quite sure who he'd picked that particular habit up from, and he shook his head to clear it.

There was nothing more for him to find at the Raft.

Vision took one final glance around before phasing through the ceiling panels of the prison and rocketing away like lightning, his thoughts in a whirl.

There was much left still for him to do. He needed to try to amend the Accords, so Wanda and the rest of the team could come back. He needed to make sure that none of this had gotten traced back to him. He needed to check in on Rhody while the man was struggling through physical therapy...but that could all wait.

For now...

For now he had to find Wanda.


Author's Note: Stay tuned, I've got one more piece of this story to go! (Sorry for taking forever and a half with updates. Life is being a pain. =_=")