"You need to be careful you know."
T'Challa rolled his eyes as he continued running on the treadmill.
After working tirelessly with Tony on the Accords and fixing up the mess left behind from the Civil War, the Wakandan King had grown close to the Iron Man. Starting as colleagues, then friends before moving on to romantic endeavours together.
They worked so well together, as both a political unit out to destroy their opposition, and as lovers.
However, after they had secured the pardon and return of the rogue Avengers, T'Challa and Tony realised they may have overestimated their other teammates.
Where Vision had offered his congratulations, Wanda Maximoff offered her hatred.
Where young Peter Parker had wished them the best, Clint Barton wished them swift end.
Where Virginia Potts had carefully smiled, Scott Lang carelessly sneered.
Where Harold Hogan had been cheerful, Sam Wilson had been concerned.
Where James Rhodes had been supportive, Steve Rogers had been dismissive.
And now it was the Black Widow's turn.
"Tony's one of the most unpredictable men on the planet; he's pretty much made a game out of it. And there's something for him to gain out of going after you. It's the only reason he's ever been willing to date men instead of merely continue with the never ending line of women throwing themselves at him in hope of a night of sex."
T'Challa grit his teeth and kept his pace on the treadmill; only a few miles left of his run and then he could leave. If only his self-discipline would allow him to cut a training-session short for once.
"Tony's a show-off and loves to be in the spotlight, soaking up every scrap of attention he can get."
T'Challa lets himself move just a bit faster from his measured pace.
It means he'll be done sooner.
"He's a narcissist too, constantly going on about his appearance, his work, and his popularity. He'll keep bringing up old accomplishments just so he can brag about them again, and any good he does is overshadowed by his need to have everyone know at all times."
"There's a reason why I recommended against having him be an Avenger."
The beep the treadmill gives to signify the end of his run is lost in the crash Romanoff's body makes as it hits the ground.
T'Challa is breathing deeply, and his hand stings just a little from the unexpected punch, but satisfaction burns in his veins as he takes in Romanoff's shock and fear.
"A boy expected to be a man. A man told he could be whatever he wished. A human told to be a god. A god demanded to be a devil. Tony is unpredictable, because he doesn't know how to be anything else. He has grown needing to jump between one mask and the next in the time it takes to blink."
His glare keeps Romanoff from speaking, though he can see just how much she wants to.
"I have as much to gain from my relationship with Tony as he does. First on the list for both of us is the companionship from one who understands our positions. Both of us heirs to worlds we did not create but were taught and expected to maintain and uphold. And before you say something foolish about how a company and a kingdom are not comparable, let me remind you that both through the ages have been called empires for a reason."
His breathing is slowing, just enough for T'Challa to calm his limbs shaking from the flood of anger and adrenaline.
"And I myself am in no short supply of women and men desiring me for nothing more than bragging rights. I am the king to a nation; despite having named my heir, I am still expected to take a bride and sire a child, regardless of my feelings on the matter, or even the laws in place that prevent me from needing to do so. I am also no shying virgin being laid out for the beast to devour; I know well and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh, and am well experienced in both sides."
Romanoff looks confused, as though she were not expecting T'Challa to react so strongly to her words.
"Tony has been put before the face of the world since the day he was born a Stark, and then thrown to swim amongst the sharks when his intelligence became apparent. When your whole life is on such blatant display from so young an age, you either sink and drown beneath the expectations and flashing lights, or you rise above them and find a way to enjoy it for the sake of your sanity. Looking good for the cameras at all times turns into a level of pride for your appearance. A constant stream of inventions revolutionising the face of technology leads to a pride in one's work. And knowing the ever fickle affections of the media, it is of genuine relief when the world is on your side."
T'Challa takes a step closer to the woman still laying on the floor, takes a fiendish delight in how her breath quickens in trepidation.
"Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. As a futurist, Tony constantly bringing up the past means he feels there is still something to learn. If the events he brings up happen to involve himself, perhaps he is the one trying to learn, and trying to ask for your help to do so. Even if the events in question hold him doing something good."
He sees the way Romanoff pales ever so slightly, as though she had never for a moment given proper thought to her teammates actions.
T'Challa isn't even surprised.
"And let us not forget that Tony is the reason all of you are back on American soil, no longer hunted by the governments of the world. The man you did not recommend is the only reason the Avengers are even here."
T'Challa turns sharply, swiftly leaving the room and moving to the rooms he shares with Tony.
He finds Tony lounging on the couch, tapping away at his tablet and talking with Friday, hard at work for all he seems relaxed.
T'Challa kneels on the floor in front of the couch and rests his head on Tony's lap, bringing the genius' attention to him.
T'Challa shakes his head, the last of the adrenaline fading, leaving him tired and sore, and the encounter having him needing to be close to his lover.
Strong fingers cradle his head, digging gently into his scalp and pulling a moan from deep in his chest.
"Take a rest Dolcezza. Have a shower, breathe, then we'll head out and grab dinner, just you and me, and we'll stay at the tower tonight so we can be as loud as we please."
Another moan slips T'Challa's throat as the evening's pleasures are laid before him.
Tony may be a flawed man, but T'Challa is no saint.
But they can be better together.