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Three Strikes

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Steve approached the door leading to King T'Challa's office. The Dora Milaje who were on guard didn't move aside to let him by, eying him warily.

"State your business," one of them said.

"I need to speak with T'Challa privately, Miss..." he smiled at her. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."

Her expression turned cold. "His Majesty has urgent matters to attend to. What is it that you want, Mr. Rogers?"

He thought about correcting her reference to him as "mister" rather than "Captain", but decided to let it go. She couldn't be expected to know how U.S. military protocol worked, as isolated as Wakanda supposedly had been. He'd explain later; it wasn't important right now.

"It's about Miss Maximoff. She needs some--ah--personal items," Steve blushed slightly, " and medicine, and we don't have them or any means to acquire them here."

"Let her bleed," one of the other women snapped.

He blinked. "That's...not very hospitable," he said, giving her a disappointed look.

"Our king offered you sanctuary, not sponsorship. You are not helpless. If you wish to buy clothing or other things for the witch, find honest work," the same woman replied.
Nonplussed, Steve stared at her. Before he could muster a reply, the door behind them opened.
T'Challa spoke to the women in Xhosa, his tone sympathetic. He looked to Steve, frowning a little. "My sister was blunt, but correct. You and your team have already been provided basic amenities. If you desire anything else during your stay in Wakanda, you need to offer fair payment for it."

"But you gave us a place here--"

"Temporarily, Mr. Rogers, and what I offered was not unlimited. Adults in Wakanda are expected to--what is the expression? Carry their own weight?"

"Wanda's a kid," Steve protested, "and she doesn't even speak the language here, none of us do!" This was ridiculous. T'Challa was a king, the cost of a few clothes shouldn't even be an issue. It was partly his fault that Wanda had ended up a fugitive anyway, he and Tony and the damned Accords.

T'Challa's eyebrows almost climbed off his forehead. "A kid. I see. I hadn't realized the Avengers were in the practice of recruiting child soldiers. " He turned to the Dora Milaje. "Take the young lady into custody, please, until this matter can be clarified. If she needs medical attention have her brought to the palace doctors."

"Wait, what?" Steve sputtered. "You can't do that!"

"Oh, I think you'll find I can, sir." The King's face hardened. "Come in and sit. We clearly do have some issues to resolve."
Steve took a step backward, hands clenching into fists.

The cold edge of a sword against the side of his neck stopped his retreat.


Scott dialed the number nervously. He'd been allowed a single phone call when Stark and his flunkies captured them. One benefit of being an ex-con, he knew how this process usually worked.
Vision was glaring at him, as was the Spider-kid and that Ross guy. Stark wasn't in the room. The other armored pilot-"Rhodey?" had been seriously injured, he knew, and Stark refused to leave him alone for long. Scott winced at the memory of the black man's face when they'd taken him to the nearest hospital for emergency treatment. No one was supposed to get hurt. Why couldn't Stark have just had the sense to let them all go?
"Hello?" It was Hope's voice. She sounded confused, rather than angry.

Oh, thank God. "Hope, it's me. Scott. Look--I kinda got in some legal trouble here--"

"Where's here?" she interrupted.

"Um, we're in Germany right now but they're about to take us to lockup somewhere else--I don't even know if a judge will let me pay bail, but I'm gonna need to get ahold of a lawyer. I couldn't think who else to call. Sorry."

"Germany? Since when-- I thought you might've been kidnapped or something! You couldn't even leave us a note?"

"It's ...complicated. They said, this way you'd have plausible deniability if things went south." Scott gulped. He'd almost rather face Secretary Ross than Hope at this point. She was clearly not going to be nice about this.

"IF??? --Wait. Dad's here. We were about to work on a way to track the suit."
Scott heard her talking to someone else. He could dimly recognize Hank's voice but couldn't make out what the older man was saying. "...what? What news...broadcast..." Oh, shit.

"What did you do?" She was livid. "Theft and illegally leaving the state weren't enough for you? You thought you'd add attempted murder ?"

"I didn't kill anyone!"

"You threw a fuel truck at somebody! If War Machine hadn't been in his armor--" Hope broke off. She didn't say anything for several minutes, then, finally, "Let me speak to whoever is in charge there. Now."

He handed the phone to Ross. The man took it, scowling. His expression smoothed out after a moment. "Very well. I appreciate the heads-up. Yes, they'll have legal representation. We just are not willing to risk taking them to a public jail, Ms. Van Dyne. We tried to go the polite route the first time we arrested Rogers and his teammates, and less than an hour later they broke out. " He handed the phone back to Scott and walked away.

"Mr.Lang." It was Hank. "My daughter and I are going to remotely initiate the suit's self-destruct in five minutes. I suggest you remove it if you haven't yet. And next time you want to steal from somebody, don't pick someone who's smarter than you are."

"No! Wait--"


The sound of a dial tone filled his ears. Scott gaped at the phone, before hastily setting it aside and yanking off the Ant-man helmet...

"I'm sorry, you want us to do what?" Matt Murdock asked.

"I want to sue Tony Stark. In court."

" opposed to sue-ing him in fan fiction?" Foggy jibed weakly. Karen groaned.

"I'm sorry?" Steve Rogers said, baffled. "Look, if we're talking about accountability, doesn't that apply to Stark's actions too?"

"If he breaks the law, yes, or violates the Accords," Matt conceded. "However, I don't believe you'll have much success with sueing Tony Stark for breach of contract or false imprisonment. I'd advise against the attempt, Mr.Rogers, honestly."

Steve's jaw tightened. "Don't you see--" he broke off. "No offense. He threw my team in the Raft. He tried to intern Wanda--and then he blew Bucky's arm off!"

Matt could almost hear Foggy's and Karen's eyes rolling without need for super-senses.

"Sir, with all due respect, your team's arrest was done by Secretary Ross and the Joint Counter Terrorism Unit, after they blew up an airport and inflicted injuries on both Mr. Stark and Spider-Man. They were imprisoned because they broke the law. No judge is going to accept your actions or theirs as being in self-defense. None of you were in imminent danger at the time."

"I still want to try," Steve insisted. "I want the world to know the truth about Stark's part in all this. My team deserves that much."

"Speaking of deserves," Foggy said. "How do you intend to pay an attorney? My understanding was that your finances were a bit rocky, accounts frozen, unemployed, all that."

Steve gaped at him. "I don't...well...if we won against Stark, he'd pay your fees, of course," he said, in a tone of voice that suggested he was addressing a five-year-old.

"So you want us to spend years on a case that has next to no chance of being won, for free, just so you can make your former boss and teammate look bad?" Matt summarized. "Speaking for all three of us--good luck. You're going to need it."

Karen walked to the door and held it silently open.

If it happened to hit Rogers in the backside as he left, Matt couldn't blame her.

T'Challa dry-swallowed two Advil from the economy sized bottle on his desk.

His sister wordlessly handed him a glass of juice. Shuri might've said 'I told you so' once, but after several weeks of dealing with Rogers and his fellow criminals, she didn't have the heart to chastise her brother. In truth, she thought he'd punished himself quite enough.
If it wasn't Rogers' "hinting" he'd like new weapons, and lecturing T'Challa, of all people, on leadership, it was the Witch's petulant demands for entertainment. Shuri was reminded of a small child constantly complaining of boredom. The other men in the Avengers had coddled Maximoff to the point she'd come to take it for granted.

"Do you still want to talk to him?" Shuri asked. "I can do it, if you'd prefer."

"No, thank you." T'Challa took her hand, squeezing it gently.

He entered a number into his phone. It only took a second before Stark picked up.

"Hey, King Kitty-cat. How's everything? New cryotech working for you?"

T'Challa made his tone neutral. "Well enough, thank you, Dr. Stark . I actually thought I might be able to do you a favor."

" Oh? Do go on, your Pantherness."

"What would it be worth to you and the Accords Council to have confirmed intel of the rogue Avengers' whereabouts?"

"By itself, not a whole lot," Stark answered slowly. " I appreciate your finally coming clean, your Majesty, but both Barton's and Wilson's gear was built by me--you didn't think I'd be able to locate my own tech? We figured at least in Wakanda, they'd stay out of trouble, and maybe you could get through to them. I take it that's not the case?"


" Don't kick yourself too hard, T'Challa. I was with them almost four years and they still didn't listen to me. Well, okay. Tell you what: give me authorization to come retrieve them, throw a couple extra pounds of vibranium my way, and I'll take them back off your hands. What do you think? We have a deal?"

"How soon can you get here?"