VIP Treatment

June 02, 2017:

The Winter Soldier: a man whose crimes could spark WWIII. In order to prevent a larger tragedy, the United States Government takes Sergeant James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes into custody.

//An alley right outside Stark Towers. //

Characters

NPCs: US Secretary of State Catherine Grey, US Attorney David Lee Archer

Mentions: Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Matt Murdock, Peggy Carter, John Constantine, Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

A bright and sunny Friday morning. The weather has continued to hold in New York City, a rare streak of brilliant blue skies and fair winds. The entire city seems to be in an unusually glorious mood. The traffic seems to move a little smoother. People seem to be a little more considerate on the sidewalks. People chat at their streetcar vendors of choice. It won't last…but when the weather is great there's a magic to the city that can't be scented in the form of ozone or felt with any otherworldly senses. It's the magic that happens when people's optimism blends with the energy and excitement of a place that swirls with every single facet of life in all of its glory.

Even cranky Private Detectives are feeling it. That may be why the silly memes, so long suspended, start filtering their way back to Jane and Bucky's phones right around Memorial Day; they've been coming every day for a week straight now. Jessica Jones' ridiculous, wholly inadequate way of saying: 'Hey. I care about you. I remembered you today. You're not alone. I hope you're happy. I hope you laugh.'

If asked out loud, she'd say "Those things are a fucking riot, right?"

Because there are only very rare and serious times when she can get her head out of her ass to say such things out loud.

This morning, somewhere in all this meme sending, she'd gotten hip to the fact that that Jane has been holed up in her lab for days again, and that Bucky needed a ride. She happens to still have her sister's car, as she's been rolling all over the place trying to get various cases squared away. It also forces Telekinetic Trish to use her driver until she gets her shit under control. Long story short…she offered Bucky a ride up to Stark Towers, saying she had business up there herself, this morning. Tony's burbling borrowed drone hovers at the back of the leather-seated sedan as she drives. She's a very safe driver, if an overly cautious one, and with Bucky in the car she restricts herself to the occasional hiss of distress when someone else on the road does something that scares her. Her white-knuckled ten-and-two might not be exactly inspiring…but at least it's not taking a cab or the subway.

The Stark Towers parking garage where she might normally park the car has a big sign reading 'Full' this morning, which is why she has circled the block three times. She refuses to parallel park. "If I just circle one more time," she assures Bucky, "there will be a pull-in."

This might be the most annoying thing on the planet…but…it will give him time to see the dark blue car with government plates on front and back that continues to patiently make its way around and around the block with them. It's not even trying to hide, not even trying to pretend to be doing anything other than following the car that PI and Winter Soldier inhabit.

—-

Despite everything going on, despite the fact his phone is rapidly filling up with grumpy cat memes, the good weather has even a certain former Winter Soldier in a decent mood. Jane's been working nonstop, God knows how many governments around the world are after him, and the instrument of his past seventy years of torture is literally in his and Jane's erstwhile bedroom… but all that can be forgotten about temporarily.

Normally Bucky would just walk to go pick Jane up. It's only a long walk from Brooklyn up to Stark Tower if you're a mundane human taking mundane paths. But Jessica had a car and Jessica offered a car, and Bucky figured, why not? The traffic might not be that bad today. He'll chance it. So he got in, slammed the door WAY too hard ("Sorry, they were a lot heavier back in the day"), and they were off.

He already looks like he's regretting it, by the time they get to the parking garage.

"This is why you don't drive in the city," he's saying, as they circle around yet another time, when he suddenly trails off. He cocks an eye at the rearview mirror, and then he says, "Got a tail. We should go."

—-

Over the last many days, many of those affectionate little messages sent to Jane Foster's phone have gone unanswered.

Her past week has been absorbed in one thing only: and that is being forced to stare, day-and-night, at the Asset Conditioning Machine where it occupies most of her emptied-out bedroom. With only a single-minded goal to re-engineer it from the circuits up, Jane's life is to understand that machine, dissect and count it down to its very parts and foundational processes, and learn how for seventy years HYDRA developed the technology to write and rewrite and rewrite an entire man's identity away.

She hates the Machine more than she has ever hated anything in her life. She hates looking at it, hates touching it, and hates learning about it —

— hates how easily it comes to her, hates how she parses it, hates it, hates it, HATES it.

Jane holds it in and works. But sometimes the center cannot hold. It was a day ago Bucky found her in her bedroom after too long a working silence, all to find her silently weeping. When she could find her voice again, it was only to tell him one thing: she doesn't understand. She repeated it over and over. She doesn't understand. She doesn't understand. How could someone build such a thing? How could someone do this? She just doesn't understand.

He ordered her on a reprieve away from the project. After some stubbornness, Jane conceded.

Not to her lab as she should, to chase the stars and see to her stalled work, but to Stark's — to work on other pursuits. She chose instead to work on the new arm she's promised Bucky Barnes, and began running plate algorithm simulations.

Almost a day has passed without Jane's notice. Stark Tower is where she remains, asleep at the desk, no doubt having one of her nightmares.

—-

Jessica, of course, doesn't know about the machine, being the Member of Team Getting Shit Done that was least equipped in any way to be on that particular mission; and created, as it was, on a need-to-know basis has not been filled in on the particular torment, turmoil, and source of hope that their trip into Siberia afforded the rest of the team.

But she'd never thought much about the lack of answers…sometimes the silly things aren't meant to be answered, after all…and she's certainly been distracted with certain ghosts of her own. As it is, she's got a protective ward in her pocket against the god and goddess haunting the lower floors of the Tower, all so she might get to the upper ones to talk to her biggest client about his crazy case. Distracting enough, indeed, that nothing at all has struck her as amiss until this moment.

But this is here and now, and here and now, Bucky tells her to get out of there, and she gives no argument. It's a testament to her utter trust in him that she in fact pulls a hard left on the wheel to get out of the parking space she'd just been about to choose, accelerates quickly over the speed limit, whips the car around some of the traffic in ways that she had absolutely refused to do when simply driving, showing a remarkable capability for such things that usually doesn't have a will to match.

The problem is, they're in an area that's a rabbit's warren of one-way-streets and cross-walks. And she doesn't really get very far before the government vehicle almost patiently puts a blue light on in the window and whoop-whoops a demand to pull over, something Jessica doesn't entirely process until she's turned down a side alley to get off the main road, moving too slowly by far…

A second sedan pulls rapidly in front of her car, boxing them in. Jessica is forced to stomp hard on the brake to avoid plowing into the side of it.

Nobody gets out. Not yet. Instead the car behind takes out a loudspeaker.

"Sergeant Barnes, this is Special Agent Fawks of the Secret Service. We'd like to have a peaceful conversation with you. Ahead you'll find Special Agent Crabbe. We're here with US Attorney David Archer and Secretary of State Catherine Grey. We're going to get out of the car now, please do not exit the vehicle."

This is no serious force with which to take the Winter Soldier, two Secret Service agents and two civil servants. But neither is this a friendly chat in the making.

Jessica looks rather frozen in place, glancing swiftly at Bucky in a clear 'what the fuck do we do' sort of gaze.

Though the specific words might not filter up to Jane's lab, the sounds— the loudspeaker, the whoop-whoop of the siren— might be unusual enough to start making their way to her consciousness, as the alley where this confrontation takes place is positioned directly below her. No doubt some of this is being caught on Stark Towers cameras as well, but…arrests in any part of the city aren't that uncommon, and if JARVIS tried to pay attention to every last movement of law enforcement in the alley behind his building he'd never do anything else. Thus, certain personalities, such as the eccentric owner of the building, remain blissfully uninformed of the drama unfolding below.

—-

She didn't understand. Bucky held her quietly as she cried. He didn't understand either, he told her — did not understand on any logical, rational, reasonable level how men could take another man and reduce him to an it, an object, a weapon… and then treat it as such for so many long decades. But he did have a different kind of visceral understanding of it, the lab experiment's understanding of how deep the researcher's cruelty can run due to experiencing it — suffering it — and that he does not share. Cannot share. It is an experiential knowledge that cannot be passed on.

Nor would he want to.

Perhaps it's thoughts like that which haunt the edges of his mind, keeping him from fully relaxing even on a day like this. Whatever the case, he's sharp enough to notice instantly when they're being boxed in. His brusque warning has Jessica immediately trying to get away, but the trap is laid too well and the traffic of New York too dense.

A voice addresses him over the loudspeaker. His blue eyes move to the rearview mirror, and then hit with methodical precision each potential exit he could make from the situation. He catalogs every way in which he could flee. And then he doesn't.

Jessica looks to Bucky. The former Winter Soldier is calm as a millpond in the heart of Siberia, and about as cold. "It's all right," he says to her, though he suddenly looks very tired, and his aspect attains the worn, weary quality of a wolf that has run itself dry and can run no farther.

—-

Nightmares are the usual sort. Back in the chair, only now it's the one in her bedroom, and she can't move, and they're drilling in through the skull behind her left ear.

This time it doesn't hurt. Doesn't even feel much pressure. Jane just hears it, loud and whistling, right into her ear.

She wakes without warning, a quick, up-shot shudder that animates her in her desk chair. Her lab comes through in its familar shapes and colours and textures, and she rubs her face wearily, eyes pressing shut. Just a dream, Jane thinks as always, pressing her fingertips against her closed eyes, only —

— she can still hear it. Not a drill though, but its sound that carried through into her sub-conscious. Low and rolling and constant. Sirens?

Eventually, her sleep-stiff body eases out of her chair, and drawn to the sound, Jane looks down through the wall-to-wall window that opens her lab to the rest of Manhattan's skyline. She looks down. Her eyebrows furrow.

—-

It's alright, Bucky says, and at first, Jessica's eyes narrow and flash, aiming ire at the four people who are slowly and cautiously getting out of their own cars to approach them.

If he is a worn and weary wolf, she is a rangy, tiny she-wolf whose natural inclination is to snarl and snap and rail at any perceived threat, especially to the pack. Granted, anyone who knows her heart might well know she's more bark than bite, really, but there it is.

This time something stops her. Maybe it's his quiet words. Maybe it's his mien. Maybe it's the exact nature of the situation, slowly dawning on her, one that tells her that this time, Bucky Barnes and Jane Foster might need something different out of her.

She settles into a grim, watchful mien that offers no trouble, keeping her hands on the ten and two position. She might look up at Jane's window, but it would be hard to tell.

The two Special Agents who get out are forgettable people ultimately, the type of people who are trained to blend into the background and do so. Suits, both men, both white, both brown of hair, both vaguely handsome and both vaguely threatening in the way they are supposed to be, though in this case there is little enough of that. Their body language says they are grimly prepared to die as a last ditch defense for the lives of the other two players in this drama.

US Secretary of State Catherine Grey is a petite, birdlike woman in her sixties who has taken the 'grey' thing into a sharply tailored motif: grey eyes, grey hair, grey suit, grey pumps. Her perfectly-made-up face is expressionless but fearless as she approaches the Winter Soldier.

US Attorney David Archer is a massive, well-groomed black man. His own tailored suit is a colorful pop of gold and white in contrast to Catherine's grey; his sheer sense of masculine presence allowing him to pull off the color combination without a hitch. It contrasts with his deep black skin. There's a cobra tattoo'd on one of his hands, the ink faded but present. He smells strongly of Bvlgari cologne: one of those cologne wearers who doesn't quite overpower with it, but definitely makes his presence known.

The two civil servants approach the passenger side of the car.

It is Catherine that speaks first. "Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes," she says solemnly. "Once you fought in a war to end a great evil. Grim though this duty is, today you have an opportunity to surrender quietly to end the great evil of war."

It was she who negotiated the deals, navigating endless diplomatic hallways to ensure that this man was tried on his own soil, so it is she who speaks first.

—-

In the time it takes for the four individuals to leave their car and approach the passenger side of the vehicle, James Barnes is busy. He's not carrying any of his burners on him, thankfully, but he is carrying his regular phone, which he takes out and turns on. A few swipes, and a screen comes up that definitely doesn't belong in any kind of iOS or Android operating system. He touches the screen once, and the phone goes black.

He can feel Jessica's brief flash of defensive ire at his side, as he does this. He puts a quelling hand on her knee, a brief touch that asks her not to do anything crazy. Not now.

As the Secretary of State and US Attorney draw up alongside the passenger window, James lowers it obligingly to let them speak. His expression is tired, wry, and not really interested in the pomp and circumstance. He considers the grand thing that Catherine Grey says to him.

Eventually, he unlocks the door. With slow, deliberate movements, he opens it, stepping out. His motions are nonthreatening and telegraphed; his hands stay where they can be seen. But he insists to stand, there before the Secretary and the US Attorney. His blue eyes move from them to the two Special Agents, and then back.

"I prefer to have conversations on my feet," he makes excuse. "Such as the conversation about why you are here."

Information gathering. If they are here asking for his surrender, whatever diplomatic talks they were in have failed, and he wants to know exactly what happened.

—-

It feels like she's watching a movie. Or maybe she's still dreaming.

Or it's just New York City doing its thing; Jane's too used to suburban Culver or the dead deserts of New Mexico. She has too much work and too little time to waste, so the woman is already turning away, no energy left to spare on random police arrests happening down on street level. Not her job to worry about it.

That is until someone steps out of the stopped car, and even how many floors up, Jane knows the distant shape of that man's body everywhere.

She stares in a heartbeat of momentary confusion. Then she spits a curse and races out. Double-tracks back. Grabs and empties her purse. Gets her phone. Thinks. Decides.

The elevator arrives even two slowly for her liking, even in Stark's advanced modern-day fortress. Whatever. She'll take the stairs.

—-

The diplomat uses flowery words. The prosecutor? Less so.

He gestures to one of the Secret Service men, in fact, who moves over to gesture to Jessica to roll down her window. All she gets, though, is a fat brown envelope, one she recognizes well enough. She's served enough court paperwork to know when she herself is being served. And she knows there's no point in not taking it. The quelling hand to her knee might keep her from snapping something shitty to the agent whose job it is to shove paperwork in the face of another angry freak. She merely accepts it silently and tosses it in the back. Yep. She's been served. She'll look at just how she's been served later.

By the time this little drama has played out the large man has forgotten all about Jones. He is focused on Bucky, meeting his eyes. "It's like this, Barnes," he says evenly. "You already know just how many nations want your head on a block. They were willing to declare war to get it. Grey worked out a deal. A good one. As long as we can try you for your war crimes, your assassinations, and the rest of the laundry list ourselves, then the peace holds. You're being formally charged with treason. This is what you might call your courtesy arrest; obviously if you choose to run or even kill everyone here you certainly can at this juncture. If you do, however, you'll prove that 'traitor' is precisely who you are. And there's a good chance you'll show the world the United States Government can't handle its own business. The deal will unravel, and after that? No telling what will happen next."

He folds his arms. If this man is afraid of his death, it shows not one whit.

"So today, there's really only one question, Sergeant. Will you come quietly?"

Nothing impedes Jane as she makes her frantic flight down the stairs; not even an intern who might otherwise get in her way with a hot cup of coffee. The stairwell is eerily silent. At this time of day, everyone is hard at work in offices or labs. It's not so early in the morning that people are shuffling about to fill their cups in the break room and it's not so near lunch time that they're running about ordering food.

—-

Blue eyes track over to Archer when he speaks. The features of James Barnes are as emotionless as one might expect of someone so-named the Winter Soldier — the monstrous spectre that hung over the Cold War like a shroud of death. He listens in silence as Archer lays it out.

War, huh? His expression does not change, his eyes do not flicker, but somewhere in the back of his mind, he's both surprised and unsurprised that the world would go so far to get his head on the block. As Archer so bluntly puts it.

There is part of him that wants to bristle at this. At the charge of treason. At the insinuation he has to lay down his own life, again, on behalf of a US Government that sent him to war to die, and left him a prisoner of enemy forces for seven decades. At the fact he has to be put on the sacrificial altar, for actions that were not his own, to save the face of a country that abandoned him, to martyr himself for a world he has personally seen all the uglinesses of.

He thinks of Jane, who loves him.

Then he thinks of the faces of the children he has killed. He thinks about how they felt in his hands, dying.

His eyes dull. His eyes lower, and he says nothing. It's as good as an acquiescence.

—-

That staircase down feels like an eternity. Like her entire life has been caged into a Poincare recurrence theorem. The stupid things Jane Foster thinks as her lungs burn and her feet trip to fly her down endless flight after flight.

A month or so ago, before Germany, Jane Foster came to Bucky Barnes with a bit of a guilty look branded across her face. The work she did in Virginia on the transformer: she refined it. She refined it a little too well.

The thing about quantum states: waves are particles are one and the same. So it's not too difficult, using that and a little of Stark's readily-available tech, to create a signal whose distributed particle can affect, well, every available transformer and computerized water main in a two-block area. Also not too difficult to code it to signal from an application on her phone.

Said phone is in Jane Foster's right hand as she shoulders out of Stark Tower, her eyes on the unfolding scene. She wastes no time to keep stepping fiercely forward, caring not for what conversation she might be interrupting with her sharply-demanded:

"What the hell is going on?!"

—-

In the front seat of her sister's car, Jessica Jones listens with growing incredulity, swiftly quelled. Something is calling upon her to be someone more steady than she has been in the past. Perhaps the example of the very man who bows his head now. That very single act makes her eyes prick with tears of rage and sadness alike. It makes her throat close and burn with the sheer unfairness of it all…but not for long. Because she remembers a quiet conversation in a park months ago, wherein she, in her frustration, asked him how he bore all the shittiness with so much fucking grace. She'd been so jealous of it, that grace. He'd told her that she should stop being surprised by the unfairness. That she could be angry, but in the end…she must practice patience, and awareness that what must be done, must be done. Now, if she's to do anything for them at all, she must find a way to finally adopt the grace she begged James Buchanan Barnes to teach her.

He is showing grace, even now. What he must do is acqueisce. She turns her contemplation to what she must do. These two need her, as much as she can give, whatever she can do to be there for them, as little as it might, as usual, end up being. The man who taught her to fight, to dance, to speak a little less, to be a little braver. The woman who accepted her soiled and broken self unconditionally, who taught her about the most beautiful place inside of her, who showed her one could perservere and give of oneself every single day with smiling, beautiful strength. They have always done so much more for her than she has for them. Always. They put her to shame. They make her love them both so very fiercely.

The second of the pair comes out and demands to know what's going on, but Jessica's instincts tell her that to get out of the car right this second would escalate the situation. Bucky has acquiesed, and the Secret Service agents are already reaching for heavy duty magnetic cuffs designed to hold someone just like him when they tiny Science Fireball comes fiercely forward to demand some answers.

It is Archer who answers. "An arrest, Doctor Foster. I suggest you find it within yourself to avoid interfering. James Buchanan Barnes, you are under arrest for 11 counts of High Treason, 2 counts of Military Desertion, 3 counts of Murder, 10 counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, 2 counts of Kidnapping, and 3 counts of Attempted Murder."

It's…almost a laughably short list.

It's also the extent of what they think they can prove. Certain recent events remain notably absent from the list…arsons and murders in New York, 33 counts of murder in Virgina, with Phil's cover-up holding, the bodies that hit the floor in Bradenburg, Germany, probably because the evidence that might place them there was all horrendously tainted by the fight itself, and the rest is merely circumstantial. Siberia, too…missing.

But all of it is enough to ensure Bucky's death by lethal injection if he's convicted.

Archer is almost apologetic as he adds, "I am aware there were some special circumstances. But I don't know how to pretend to try a case."

—-

James is silent through the list of crimes. It ends much sooner than he expects it to, and his eyes lift when the US Attorney goes quiet. There is no emotion in his face, however — except when military desertion is added to the list, at which point anger flickers briefly and hotly in his blue eyes.

He is smart enough, however, to say nothing.

Jane, however… Jane comes roaring in like a miniature tornado. His blue eyes cut towards her, suddenly fearful — not of her, but for her. He does not want her snatched up and carted away along with him. "Jane — " he tries, only to fall silent when her angry voice, clashing with Archer's calm rejoinders, rides over his.

He settles for trying to speak to her with his eyes. I know what you're thinking. But I think this is the real thing.

Especially so, at that vague hint of almost-apology in Archer's voice as he confesses he does not know how to play pretend at his job. "I'm not interested in a farce, Mr. Archer," he says, his voice flat. He will not make a circus of his own judgment.

—-

That look from Bucky Barnes's eyes arrests Jane from tapping anything on the screen of her phone, but it doesn't stop her forward momentum.

She's five feet tall and a hundred pounds soaking wet, and still the first thing she does is bodily interpose herself between Bucky and those magnetic cuffs, because no one is putting any sort of restraint on him — ever.

"Are you serious?" asks Dr. Foster, and she has this way of clipping that last syllable in a way to make it transparent she's weighing someone's IQ points and finding them wanting. "You're absolutely serious about this? You're arresting him?"

Her dark eyes pinch up to try to reconcile and quantify a fact so absurd that it seems painful for Jane to conceive. "You're arresting one of the men who DIED to help us win a war. You're arresting one of the actual men who STOPPED this country from becoming a fucking crater. Is that what you're telling me?! Is that seriously what's happening? Then bra-fucking-o for the American spirit, which I assume now stands for fucking everyone right up their asses —"

—-

David Lee Archer simply holds up his hand to halt the Secret Service Men as Jane Foster interposes herself between them and the Winter Soldier.

"I'm arresting him," he says firmly.

And then he drops a bomb he's been holding.

"I could make an outstanding case for arresting you too, Dr. Foster. If you'd like to continue making an issue out of it."

To her scathing outline of James' character, neither Grey nor Archer twitch. Their faces are both grim and grave; whatever equation has allowed them to stand here today has been worked already.

Grey, diplomat that she is, says quietly, "He has surrendered, Dr. Foster. If you would like to come with us to the Raft, ride with him, I can ensure you are given Visitor's Clearance, though I am afraid there will come a time where security protocols will demand your return to shore. I can't do anything about these security measures, which will further require that you check all weapons and electronics. And we can't do anything about the cuffs."

Archer gives her a swiftly annoyed look, but Grey is placid. "Certain concessions can be made in light of Sergeant Barnes' peaceful surrender and prior service record."

The big man finally shrugs, even as he takes another brown paper envelope out of his pocket, and extends it to Jane in bored fashion. Her own subpeona.

Jess watches it all, grim-faced. She has decided what she will do, but the moment has not yet come to do it. Her hands remain still, aware that any twitch, any movement on her part, a known meta with a power set similar to Bucky's and a spotty reputation at best, could set off a disaster. She has pulled herself together, but the needs of the moment require her to remain a silent, frozen witness.

—-

James winces a little as Jane puts all five feet and a hundred pounds of herself squarely in front of him. The sight of the cuffs really set her off, he knows. He finally reaches forward, placing a hand on her shoulder. It's a light touch, but insistent. Especially when Archer calmly explains that he has enough of a case to arrest Jane too, if she keeps making a scene.

A certain urgency enters James' touch on Jane's shoulder. "Jane," he repeats, more firmly, his voice exhausted. "I need you to help me in other ways. Not get taken in as well."

He doesn't say 'arrested.' Just in case it is Hydra, he needs her still active on the outside to rally troops to get him back out. But in case it's not Hydra…

He cannot afford to fight, on the off chance it is real. And he's received warning enough from Phil Coulson to know this was coming…

James does have to snort half a laugh at talk of the Raft, however. It's a short, bitter sound: part flattered, part incredulous, part sad. "VIP treatment," he mutters, with a deep and weary sarcasm, but his eyes are unhappy. He knows the scale of the atrocities he has committed to warrant his consignment there.

—-

Jane Foster is usually so yielding to the touch: so soft, so fragile.

She is iron under Bucky's hand. Not even his touch concedes her to relent. Her head turns in a way to suggest she's hearing his words, but she does not take her dark eyes off those men apparently in congress to arrest him.

He doesn't say 'arrested', and she picks up the implication loud and clear. But therein is Jane's fierce and single resistance. If it comes to that, she's not leaving him to it alone. It would be wiser she would, but she will not. Just as she knows he would not do that for her. She would not live with herself to watch him go and never see him again.

"Don't waste my time with threats," she answers Archer instead, her voice low and hypothermic. Jane has seen hell. There is nothing they can do to scare her.

Her eyes level straight up on the US Attorney. In Jane's face seems to shine one question, and one question only:

Is this truly what you want to do?

It's not a question to him; it's Jane's last question posed on — everyone. Everything. America, what was once her country, what once meant something to her, a system, a duty, a faith —

Something goes out in her soul. She accepts the envelope handed to her, and in the same motion, dismisses it straight to the pavement. Her eyes do not spare it a single glance. "Here's what happens. I go with him. I stay with him. He's not going to be in restraints, and he's not going to be left alone. He's not going to leave my sight. I will make some calls on the way in. You'll treat him with utter respect."

—-

"I can make the calls, Jane." Jessica says quietly, leaning out the window at last. She was already planning on making calls. And she feels, at last, that this is where she can intervene. "Starting with getting you guys a lawyer."

She says 'you guys,' because she has a sneaking suspicion Jane is going to need herself one sooner rather than later, if this keeps up.

She sounds grimly unhappy. "I will also call Steve. And anyone else you want called."

Ostensibly, they would get one phone call, but talk of the Raft leaves the PI uneasy. That's Patriot Act-level stuff, and without legal counsel on the way stat she fears certain rights like phone calls are going to be delayed into uselessness or denied altogether.

Meanwhile, Archer is just staring at Jane. "This is not a negotiation, Dr. Foster," he says, with utter contempt. "You can go with him and you can stay with him until visiting hours are over, but he will be in restraints. He is deadly, and we're not going to risk a full-scale breakout at meta-criminal VIP HQ simply because you think you're going to tell us otherwise. Respect is a given, but I tell you again, I will be happy to charge you with treason as well. I have the case all written up, because I guarantee you have indeed committed treasonous acts in the course of your association with the Winter Soldier. And those are your choices. This is not a god damn slumber party. If you want to be his bunk buddy at the Raft, it'll be because you've been so charged."

He points at the paper on the ground. "Witness for the prosecution, however hostile…or co-defendent. And as a co-defendent, I guarantee you'll be in restraints, too. We have pint-sized ones. Your choice, Foster."

Apparently, yes. They really want to do this. Archer, in fact, may be mildly apologetic about the Winter Soldier…

But not at all with Jane. For whatever reason, his view of her is…harsher.

—-

James glances at Jessica when she says she'll make the calls. There is more of that wordless communication, that silent request for her to contact everyone they know in the event this is the worst case scenario. "Steve," he says aloud. "Peggy. You know the others who should be called." The mages have enough to scry for him if that should become necessary.

Yet there's still the possibility of this being true with which to contend. That possibility continually brings him to the edges of thoughts he does not want to think — things he will have to relive — emotions he cannot entertain. What he has done, to — no. Not right now.

And Jane won't listen to him and stop being difficult and creating what is, potentially, an even harder-to-control situation where she is also in chains. The barb from Archer about bunks does not help his temper.

He shoots her a sharp look. "They're trying really hard not to arrest you right along with me, right now. So STOP IT, Jane. STOP."

Don't you think, his eyes ask, if it were Hydra they would take us both at once if they had the chance? Don't you think, either way, you're more useful not in chains and locked up right along with me?

—-

Hearing Jessica's voice seems to give Jane a momentary double-take; so great is her tunnel-vision and fury she did not even notice the woman there. But, forced by the circumstance and her own temper, Jane folds Jessica back into the background. No time.

And especially when Archer turns the full brunt of his wrath and contempt down on Jane Foster, whom at first handles it with a dismissive and calculating coldness —

— that absolutely upsets when he turns it all on her. When he insinuates, in front of all those assembled, and the public face of Manhattan, that for all she's done, for all she's had happen to her, and for all she's suffered, she is too a traitor.

The look of gutted, stricken shock across Jane's face is the reward. It hits hard and true, so much so that she's trembling, that her free hand is knuckled tight, that in her eyes is a spreading darkness, and that her finger wants to — wants to — wants to — hit the screen of the phone and —

Bucky's voice, raised in brutal reprimand, sobers Jane like a slap across the face. She finally takes her eyes off the assembled men and woman and looks back on him, on him telling her to stop, and for all the urging in her eyes replies her helpless answer — she lost him once and she promised him never again, never again —

And it's there, under all her fearless cold, a hint of all the facade it really is. Jane Foster is terrified. And her eyes shine dangerously bright; it's taking everything she has, in this moment, not to cry.

Instead she closes them. And in his mirror, she lets everything go, the fight falling out of her body. Jane Foster surrenders too. "You win," she concedes, voice hollow.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License