The Raft

I jolt upwards, head spinning and heart rate accelerated. Harsh white light pours in through a glass side to the – wait … glass?! There's metal bars, stretching horizontal across the glass-fronted sided. This isn't my room, back at the compound then. It's … it's got to be a cell. And there's one place that I know has glass fronted cells – the Raft. The prison for enhanced individuals. The prison for us. I wonder if the glass is Hulk-proof. It's seems like something they would do – especially if Ross is as much of a Hulk-hater as he seems to be. It won't be easy getting out, and even if I could find a way to break out the cell, I would be hard pressed to get out of the building. And then … well, and then I'd be left to find a way across the oceans to find land. No, my only chance is getting out is telling Tony enough information that I can convince him to take me along to Siberia. Once there, I have to find a way to stop the three of them from having an all-out battle. Maybe they'll still spilt up, but at least they'll be less hurt there.

It's the small blessings.

Still, I've nothing much to do for the time being. My hands aren't bound, nor are my legs. That's a positive among all this badness. A light at the end of the tunnel. But the hardest part of the journey is still before me, and I must find a way to succeed. Else all my efforts will have been in vain.

And yet … I'm in the best position to work from. I know Tony comes here, and I know he leaves for Siberia afterwards. Those facts are important. If I wasn't here, I'd have to find a way to Siberia by myself. Which … would mean turning up 100 years too late, frozen in an iceberg. Or maybe not that extreme, but it still wouldn't be everything I need it to be. So … convincing someone you fought against to trust your alternate universe knowledge and take you to a secret base is the plan. The only plan I've got. If this doesn't work … looks like I'll be sticking out this Civil War in a prison cell. Yay.

Two hours later, and I'm bored out of my mind. The blank white walls are mind-numbingly dreary, and the harsh lighting makes it difficult to try and sleep the dull hours away. The others seem to be just as restless – pacing cells, doing workouts, and constantly shifting position. Well, all expect one – Wanda. She's restrained by a strait jacket, and what looks like a shock collar of some kind. Her cell is opposite mine, but she isn't responding to any of my attempts at communication.

But then it hits me. Of course, she won't. Those bastards will shock her if she so much as twitches a finger. They're terrified of her, and have restrained her like an animal, as though that will save them. They might as well be standing there with a cattle prod held to her neck; that's basically what the shock collar is. But they won't even do that. I can't decide what's worse: the treatment of Wanda, or the way the idiots thought that it was an appropriate way to treat a human. An actual bloody human being! Just the same as any of them; the only difference is that she has a special skill set. Loathing is seething through, a bubbling pot ready to boil over.

I'm going to teach them a lesson when I get out.

Or … maybe not. I mean, how better to enforce the view that enhanced or superpowered individuals are a threat to society. I just have to calm down, to keep my emotions under control. We can't afford another hot-headed person in this team (however strained it is right now) of volatile, and slightly dysfunctional, but wonderful people. If I can just remember those techniques that Wanda and Vision taught me … until our lesson was interrupted by the Lagos mission.

Thinking about that won't help me right now. Looking to the past can be great for learning, but I need to focus on the future. That's the key point at the moment. The pieces are all coming together, and we're getting closer to the epicentre. Zemo. That little bastard who thought it was justifiable to try and tear the Avengers apart. I know, I know – his family died, and I can't begin to understand how horrible that must've been. But he's not the only one to have experienced that. There will have been hundreds of families torn apart that day, despite the Avengers' best efforts to keep every life safe. It's not easy to be a hero; I can see that. I can also see the anger of the public. It's true – oversight is needed, but the right kind of oversight. The Sokovia Accords, as they stand, are not anything good. Especially seen as they were delivered with a three-day deadline of sign or retire. Completely ridiculous, utter bollocks.

The Raft is just another part of the mess. A prison for enhanced people. Villains. Not the superheroes who fight them. Because what happens when you lock away your protectors, without trial, without reason. And then treat them horribly, and borderline torture them. Do you think they'll still protect you, when you need it? If the whole world begged for their help, would they give it? I don't think so. Maybe some villains are the heroes that the world was cruel to … they decided to stop helping, and start hurting.

That's not something this world needs, not with Thanos coming.

I'm so lost in thought that I haven't noticed our visitor. Tony. He's passing in front of each cell, exchanging words with each occupant. Trying to find Steve and Bucky's locations no doubt. I wonder if he realised that this prison he helped with, would soon hold his friends. I guess not. Hopefully he didn't – doesn't – know what they're doing to poor Wanda. That would raise awkward questions. I hope Vision doesn't know, either. I can fully imagine him swooping down here, blasting away with his gem, and saving Wanda from her torture. They still care for each other, but there's pain, anger, and shame as well. They deserve happiness – all of them too.

"Criminals? Criminals, Tony. I think that's the word you're looking for. Right? It ain't used to mean me, or Sam, or Wanda. But, here we are." There's a twinge of regret, but also annoyance in Clint's voice. I think he's in one of the cells alongside mine. Regardless, I can't see him to read his expression.

"Cause you broke the law," states Tony.

"Yeah …" Although I can't physically see him, my mind's eye is conjuring a sneer over Clint's usually warm features.

"I didn't make you."

"The law. The law."

"You read it, you broke it."

"The law. The law. The law." Clint repeats, in the same monotonous voice. Like a broken puppet.

"Alright, you're all grown-ups. You got a wife and kids. I don't understand. Why didn't you think about them before you choose the wrong side?"

"You better watch your back on this guy. Chances are he's going to break it," Clint mutters, an undercurrent of fire sparking back through his words.

Tony moves on to the next cell, a torrent of mixed and mingled emotions across his face. I can't imagine how it must feel. He thought he was doing the responsible thing – agreeing to oversight. But half his friends, his family, decided he wasn't making the right choice. Now he's looking at them in prison cells, instead of enjoying time with them. Part of me agrees with his choice to sign the accords. Oversight is necessary. But I can see the other side too. Steve and Sam both have only recently dealt with the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D had HYDRA hidden within them, and likely within governments across the world. That wouldn't make anyone keen to have their actions controlled – possibly – by the people they're trying to take down. Add a bunch of super soldiers into the mix, and you've got yourself some complicated situation soup.

Not delicious.

"How's Rhodes?" Sam's question jolts me to reality once more. The reality of Rhodey's situation, and the situation of – well, just about everything right now.

"He's alive. There's some damage, so we're flying him to Columbia Medical tomorrow. So … Fingers crossed." A flash of hope lights Tony's face briefly, before fading into the mask. "What do you need? They feed you yet?"

"You're the good cop now?" Amusement and disbelief dances through Sam's tone.

"I'm just a guy who needs to know where Steve went." My ears perk up at this, and I press my face against the glass, straining to listen in.

"Well, you better go get a bad cop, because you would have to go Mark 'Terminal' on my ass to get information out of me."

"Oh, I just knocked the 'A' out of their 'AV'. We got about 30 seconds before they realized it's not their equipment.

"Just look. Because that is the fellow who is supposed to interrogate Barnes. Clearly, I made a mistake. Sam, I was wrong."

"That's a first."

"Cap is definitely off the reservation and he's about to need all the help he can get. We don't know each other very well. You don't have to … "He trails off, hope peaking in his face once more.

"Hey. It's alright. Look, I will tell you. But you have to go alone and as a friend."

"Easy." Confliction runs through his face. "But I want to bring her." Tony turns and points to me.

I jump back from the glass, staring at him. My face gapes open, and I struggle to process his words. Wordlessly, I point to myself, mouthing "Me?".

Sam turns, peering at me too. "Why? How is Ava helpful … in this situation?"

"Um … yeah, why … why me?" I call out, utterly nonplussed. My brain has been busy constructing lots of persuasive points as to why Tony needs to take me. I was not expecting this at all.

Tony answers Sam's questions as though I'd never even spoken. "She knows stuff. How else would she know where exactly to catch Rhodey? And what would've happened if he wasn't caught. I'm betting she knows how it'll turn out when I go meet Cap and Barnes. I need her." Tony shrugs.

"And convincing Ross to let one of us 'dangerous' beings out, huh? How'll that work?"

"She said she was from an alternate universe, yes? Then she shouldn't show up on facial recognition, or the list of enhanced. They don't even know what she can do, just that she was there, at the airport. I'll just tell them she's a civilian that got caught in the crossfire. Simple." There's a tiny smile on his face that is kind of smug and a little arrogant.

"And she is standing right here. With a name, y'know?" I cross my arms, glaring at the pair of them. "It'd be nice be involved." I huff, still fixing my eyes on them.

"Right. Well, I've got work to do." Tony stalks out, back straight and rigid. The pose of someone with a goal.

To be perfectly honest, I've no idea how Tony is planning to pull this off. Convincing Ross of all people that I'm just a civilian, and he needs to let me out? Now really any better than any of my plans. Okay, so maybe it's better than some of my plans. Well, most of them. They all seemed to involve attempting to break out the cell, and sneak onto the helicopter Tony flew here on. Which, is seeming even more ridiculous the longer I think about it. Stupid, really. I should leave the planning to the experts. I'm no strategist, not by the likes of the Avengers. I'll leave the world-saving plans to them. Or what'll be left of them.

Half an hour later – by my estimate; I don't have a watch in here – Tony turns up, with Ross and four armed guards. A fifth guard (about thirty years old, with dark red hair) opens my cell, casting me a suspicious look, doubt clouding her dark eyes. I jump up from my bed, stretching my limbs, plastering a grateful smile over my face. You're just a civilian, you're just a civilian, runs through my head, a mantra to keep me focused. I have to seem as innocent and un-superheroey as possible. Well, the latter part is easy; I'm by no means a superhero. Just a young woman with some fancy abilities. Nothing more.

We're marched from the cells, and I cast a nervous glance through the opening door. Acting on impulse, I latch my gaze onto Wanda's, sending her my apologies for my freedom and her restraint. I don't deserve to be free, and she doesn't deserve to be trussed up like an animal. We have to fix that as soon as possible.

As we reach one of the hangers, Ross turns to me, a sickly smile spreading over his pasty face like an infection. "I do wonder how a civilian got caught up in such a situation?"

"Wrong place, wrong time. That's all." I mirror his own expression, blinking my eyes at him. "I never expected that to happen."

"It's funny. But there's no record of an Ava Talbot bearing your appearance bordering or off-bordering a flight from or to that particular airport. Care to explain?"

"I was waiting," my mind races to create a lie, and I cock my chin forwards, stubborn, "for a friend. She was coming back in … from Munich."

"Really. And you live near Leipzig-Halle Airport, do you?" Disbelief resonates through his words.

"No. I was staying in a hotel. We were heading back to America. I was visiting family, and we agreed to meet up … and … and travel home. That … that is what I was doing there" I finish, somewhat lamely.

But a question bubbles in my mind, and bursts forwards from my lips before I can stop the words. "Would you be so kind as to return my clothes? I'm sure you'll want this jumpsuit for any other people who arrive here without trial." I glance up at him, fire burning in my eyes and threatening to jump free from my fist.

"You may change in the next room over. But make no mistake, everyone else here has broken the law. They deserve every punishment they get. Remember that the law is the law, and not mere guidelines for your behaviour, Miss Talbot. If you'll excuse me, I have to speak with someone who knows a little more about this than you do." With those curt words, he dismisses me, gesturing to the guards to lead me to an area where I can change.

My clothes are delivered to my waiting arms, and I duck into a cubicle to dress myself in something looking much better than these horrid blue jumpsuits. I dress quickly, ducking on my clothes, breathing in the familiar scent of raspberry body spray. The jumpsuit is discarded to one corner. Rebellion ignites within me, and I blast the suit with a small dose of flames. An acrid smell wafts through the air. There. Let them wonder how that happened.

I stride from the room, catching the tail end of Ross and Tony's conversation.

"– you can call me anytime. I'll put you on hold, I like to watch the line blink." Tony makes to shut the helicopter door, and motions me forwards. I jog towards, casting a glare back at Ross. "I'll take Miss Talbot back to her address. Save you the trouble." There's a smirk ghosting over Tony's face, and he swings the door closed.

The helicopter starts up, propelling us up into the sky. The Raft falls from view, dropping back below the ocean looking every bit like a super-villain base from a James Bond movie. I think Ross could well play the villain. It's a shame though, that there's no clever spy coming to save the imprisoned Avengers (and Scott) and whisk them away to a lovely resort, while they spend the bad guy's money. Happy endings are for fairy tales, not real life.

"Right then, kid. You're going to have to hold on tight to the suit, and try not to fall off," mumbles Tony as he fiddles with some buttons.

"Sure thing – wait!" I throw my hands up, staring at him. "What?! How am I supposed to do that?! My voice rises, and my eyes widen.

"I don't know. Use your air-stuff. Figure it out. Do I have to think up a solution for everyone?"

"Fine. I'll do it. You'd better not drop me."

With that, Tony slides out the back of the 'copter. I drop out of the hole, bending the air to propel myself far enough to grab hold of the suit. I position myself upright on the back, using tendrils of air to keep my grip. This is going to be a long, cold journey.

"Hey kid, you got an earpiece, right?"

"Yeah … "

"Great. F.R.I.D.A.Y can hook you up, and I can talk to you a little easier. Tell me about what we'll find in Siberia."

I roll my eyes, more focused on maintaining my body temperature with an air-bending technique. "Alright. What do you want to know?"

This chapter ended up being much longer than I expected it to be. Weird. These characters took over and lead me in a completely different way to how I expected this chapter to go. I had all sorts of plans for Ava to break out, but then this happened. Funny that.

Hope you've enjoyed this chapter.

We've only got a couple more chapters to go.

I own only my OCs.

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