"Media Mentality"

By darthelwig

*** I own nothing I'm just having fun. ***

Wanda Maximoff had never been the center of attention before. Not like this.

Once the new Avengers team was exposed to the public, all eyes were on them. People were curious to see who could possibly replace such powerful beings as Thor and Bruce Banner, not to mention the fact that Iron Man himself, Tony Stark, was now taking a less active role in the group. People wanted to know their new heroes. The world was watching.

The media stepped up to the challenge. There were reporters and photographers everywhere. The phones at the Avengers facility were inundated with requests for interviews. Stark was handling as much of the media demands as he could, acting as their liaison, but he could only do so much. The world wanted a better look at the newest Avengers. Iron Man was old news.

Tony was a bit put out, but it sort of made Wanda smirk. Just a little. When nobody could see.

There was even an incident where some determined photographer made it onto the grounds of the facility before finally being caught and escorted out. The man snapped photos the whole time. Unfortunately for him, he snapped photos the whole time in front of security as well. His camera didn't make it off the property.

It wasn't that the Avengers were hiding their newest recruits, far from it. It was just too much attention all at once. The Avengers weren't hiding, but they were interested in protecting their own.

Tony had provided brief bios of each member to the press, and there was constant debate about them on the news channels.

Was Rhodes really qualified to be an Avenger, or was he only there because he was Tony's friend, and because his suit reminded people of Iron Man? The public was used to seeing War Machine out there, but familiarity breeds contempt, and so they weren't impressed with his new assignment. Rhodes said it didn't bother him, but Wanda suspected he harbored some resentment.

Sam was a bit of a mystery until someone managed to get ahold of some supposedly confidential information regarding his time in the military. This also led to some heated debates, seeing as how his powers were basically tied to his mechanical wings. Wanda didn't see the difference between that and Iron Man's suits, but apparently Sam was found lesser somehow. It grated on her nerves. Wanda liked Sam very much. He had become a good friend to her, and she hated seeing him judged that way. Sam didn't seem to care, though, so she let it go.

Vision was an enigma to everybody. No one really knew what to make of him, so they questioned everything. What was he made of? What kind of software did he run on? How did he fly without any visible means of doing so? How did Stark create him? Why did Stark create him? What if he turned against people, as Tony's other creation, Ultron, had? Did he sleep? Did he eat? And from some of the trashier publications, was he a fully formed man? Did he have a penis? Wanda would never understand why people wanted to know about that one. It seemed awfully personal and ridiculous and was nobody's damn business.

Vision took it all in stride, seemingly unembarrassed by the intense scrutiny he was put under. Wanda supposed that was only natural. Vision had a very different view of the world. The media's rabid fascination fascinated him. He was certainly handling things better than Wanda was.

Wanda was not necessarily a shy girl, but she was withdrawn and inclined to huddle in on herself when uncomfortable. She could feel eyes on her every time she left the safety of the compound, so she left less and less often, even to just take walks outside.

She seemed to have a worse time of it than the others simply due to being a woman. The press didn't just debate her powers, which they knew nothing about, or her former allegiance to Hydra and then Ultron, which she understood. They judged her looks, from her figure to her uniform. They discussed her love life, making up ridiculous stories about how she had seduced everyone from Captain America to Maria Hill. According to some of the trashiest papers, she had fucked her way into the Avengers.

They wrote about her brother, though almost zero information had been released about him. They got nothing right about her or Pietro, and it angered her to have to let these people keep saying their lies. Every mention of him ripped her heart right open all over again. It seemed like his name and his face were everywhere.

She channeled her anger and pain into training, working out longer and more often. Exhausting herself was the best way she knew of to keep from thinking about her problems. Natasha tried to talk to her about the media blitz during one of her training sessions.

"It'll blow over eventually, trust me," Nat said. "Pretty soon they'll move on to a new story. People will get tired of hearing about the new Avengers, and things will go back to normal. Just keep your head down for a little while longer."

"They are making up these crazy stories about me!" Wanda said.

"Being a woman in the public eye is always going to be harder. You're going to be judged more harshly and scrutinized more closely. I know it sucks, but that's how it is."

Wanda didn't know how to reply to that.

So she gritted her teeth and held her tongue. They went on missions, and if the press showed up, she did her best to ignore them. Plenty of photos and videos of the team could be found in magazines, in the news, and online, both good and bad.

Rhodes had taken a picture with a couple of kids who were big fans, and the photos were everywhere the next day. It was great publicity, and Stark started calling him their "Goodwill Ambassador." She was fairly certain it was only friendship that kept Rhodes from strangling Stark when an enlarged, framed version of the photo appeared in the reception area.

Steve, as their leader, remained the face of the Avengers. His clean cut good looks and kindness kept the public happy, even if some of the newer recruits were a bit rough around the edges. Namely Vision and Wanda herself. Rhodes was very used to being in the public eye, and knew how to handle himself very well. Sam was a personable kind of guy, and people just naturally liked him. It was harder for Vision and Wanda.

Vision was extremely well spoken and well mannered, but his very appearance was off putting to people. Even people he helped would often stare at him in fear. Wanda found that to be rather offensive, but it wasn't her place to say anything. She did her best to keep her mouth shut and not tell these people exactly what she thought of them and their prejudices.

As for her, she had no idea what to say to people. She tried to be nice, but she felt awkward. She just wanted to save people. She hadn't realized helping people would involve so much insanity. Growing up in Sokovia hadn't prepared her for any of this. America was big and loud and brash, and nosy as hell. She believed the term was called culture shock, but that phrase just didn't seem enough to encompass the enormous disparity between her life before and her life now.

When had things gotten so crazy?

She wasn't prepared when the media turned on them.

She supposed she shouldn't have been surprised. There had been faint rumblings for a while. After the initial excitement of having four new Avengers wore off, as Natasha had said it would, people began to talk about the disaster that had happened in Sokovia. They stopped talking about what the Avengers had done to save people, and instead began to talk about how things had gotten to that point in the first place.

Tony's name came up a lot. Wanda even found herself feeling bad for the man.

And then there was Lagos. Wanda beat herself up for that a lot. She knew she had screwed up, and she felt horrible about the lives that had been lost. The press had a field day with it, though. They jumped on it as if they had been waiting for the Avengers to fail, waiting for an opportunity. It made her absolutely sick.

They coverage was constant, and she couldn't help but watch as the explosion happened onscreen again and again, as the injured were rescued, and as bodies were taken away. The whole Avengers team was criticized for their supposed arrogance and indifference to the destruction they had caused.

How anyone could believe that a group of people like the Avengers, who dedicated their lives to helping others, and who risked their own lives to do so, could be in any way indifferent about what happened in Lagos was inconceivable to Wanda. She had grown up in a war torn country, though, and she had always known that innocents could and would be hurt when battles were waged. Hell, she had learned the truth of that the hard way when she and Pietro were only ten years old, when their parents had been ripped away from them by falling bombs.

But even more than the Avengers as a group, the press tore her apart. It hurt. She had done her absolute best, and things had gone badly, but she wasn't a monster. She hadn't intended to harm anyone, certainly not to kill. Where was the blame for Rumlow? She heard no real mention of him in any of these news stories. He was always just mentioned in the background. The Avengers, and specifically her, failure was all anyone wanted to discuss.

She went from being a hero to a villain. Wanda had gotten sort of used to being one of the good guys, and it bothered her probably more than it should. She even found herself empathizing with Tony, as he had faced a great deal of hostility and suspicion from the world as well, after Ultron.

That sure didn't sit well with her.

She kept mostly silent during the talks the team had about the Sokovia Accords. She didn't want to argue, and she had to trust in the intelligence and experience of the people she trusted.

When Vision wouldn't let her leave, at Stark's orders, she didn't fight, she only questioned. After all, Vision knew how she felt about this mess. He knew how much she was hurting over the way her name was being smeared all over the world. So what did he want? Why hold her there?

He wanted people to see her the way he saw her, and while it infuriated her that things had come to this, she was also touched. She wanted that too. Wanda may have started off hating the way the world felt as if they had a right to the Avengers' lives, but she had grown to appreciate feeling like she belonged to a global community. This...this was hurtful. She felt shunned and rejected and alone. She was the focus of the world's backlash against the Avengers.

She had never been the center of attention quite like this.