“Maria, there wouldn’t be any aftermath or PR hits to take if -” ( – if SHIELD had just left him alone. If they had left him in Calcutta and let him live his washed-out life in the slums, helping people and keeping a lid on it. If Ross had never chased him halfway across the world, Brooklyn wouldn’t have had to be rebuilt if they hadn’t created the Abomination to take him down; if anyone had caught on to the Invasion faster, maybe – it’s a road not worth going down, the toxicity of the past something he lets pass and refuses to take on )
His hand clenches against his bicep as he forcefully swerves away from that line of thought, accepting the past as past, fingers uncurling as he makes the choice to moving on.
“If I’m going to be part of a team- if I’m going to be part of a defensive force for our world, then I need to do it on my terms. I’m not a soldier. I’ve never been a soldier. I’m not the person who can shoot, just because someone higher up on the ladder said to.
“Maria, that document isn’t an alliance – it’s the keys to a nuclear monster. I’m not signing something that removes my autonomy and makes me a pawn. Not until that bill also protects my sovereign will –
“I know what happens when there’s too many hands in the bucket…
Maria, I trust you – but when it comes down to it-”
“At some point someone’s going to think that sending a nuke at Manhattan is a great idea. And I’m not going to willingly be a part of that unless I can say no.”
This isn’t about them – this is about setting a precedent and adapting to the shifting geography of world security. And as much as he understands why Maria supports the Accords and wants him to sign – he doesn’t understand why she can’t see his reservations.
I trust you, but–
When it comes down to it, I don’t trust you enough to stop this from
happening if I don’t want it to.
( And yet, there is a part of her that can understand– the fear that, when given the key codes to a nuke, S.H.I.E.L.D. might be more than happy to put them to use. But she does have a say, and his fear that she’d let it happen means that he doesn’t trust her as much as he may claim. )
Maybe it’s too early- or maybe it’s because she hasn’t had her coffee yet, but she’s suddenly awake when the implication of his words hit her in the face like a splash of cold water. A step backward and she frowns, the expression sparking a descent from neutral to decidedly not. It lasts for only a moment, enough for the seared hurt to cauterize before she reverts to a more reserved look. Arms relax, the jut of her elbows drooping and curled fingers within her jacket pockets seem to release.
“You know, I thought you’d want something like this.” After the events of the Casino, the resulting flee signifying some sort of regret for what had happened ( and she knows the guilt he feels first hand ), any chance at sharing the culpability- Maria thought he’d welcome that. Another shift and her hands come out of her pockets to fold across her chest. “It means you don’t have to endure this alone- that you can be protected.” And she believes it. The Accords are designed to help check and balance practicing heroes- he may not be practicing, per se, but his alter ego sometimes doesn’t really give him a choice.
An exhale, Maria can feel her phone buzzing in her pocket and it prompts her to check her watch. She’ll be late if she stays much longer, but the current conversation feels as though it’s headed toward a brick wall that neither of them seem keen on pulling back from.
“I get it,” she replies in an effort to stave off the current conversation, words coming out a bit more terse than she perhaps intends, but there’s no apologetic expression in the aftermath to suggest that. She’s tired, and a little more wounded than she lets on. “I have to go. We can talk later.” There’s an uptick, as though she’s asking- the flicker in her expression suggesting uncertainty, even as she’s turning pointedly toward the door.