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Her Brother's Keeper

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T’Challa was exhausted. It had been a long week of meetings with the council. After Erik’s death, he had thought long and hard about the future of Wakanda. He hated to admit it but his cousin was right. Wakanda could no longer watch from the shadows as the world went by. It was time to act.

Unfortunately, getting the council to see that was proving difficult. He understood their resistance, he really did but he could not stand by and watch any longer when there was so much he could change.

‘My King.’

T’Challa snapped out of his thoughts at the sound of Okoye’s voice. His general shared the same facial expression he did. The battle over Wakanda had taken more of a toll on her, losing one of her own and her lover in the same blow. She would not speak about it, Okoye was above that, but he could tell that her pain was still raw.

‘It is the princess. She has locked herself in the lab.’

T’Challa frowned. His sister could be lost in her thoughts when it came to experimenting but she had never locked the lab before. ‘How long?’ He asked, standing up and already heading towards his sister’s lab.

‘Barely 10 minutes ago.’ Okoye said in a worried tone. ‘We are ready to break in on your command but I hoped you could speak to her.’ T’Challa and Okoye hurried down to the lab, T’Challa’s heart rate picking at the situation at hand.

‘Shuri?’ T’Challa said as he stood outside the lab, knowing his sister could hear and see him. ‘Let me in, please. I’d rather not break down the lab.’ There was a pause before the lab doors slid in. T’Challa walked in and the door slid shut after him. Okoye stood guard outside the doors, confident that her King could resolve whatever was ailing the princess.

T’Challa walked down the stairs dreading what he would find once he arrived. To his surprise, his sister was sitting on one of her chairs, staring off into the distance. T’Challa carefully walked up to her, giving his sister notice that he was behind her. As he got closer, he saw what looked to be the shards of the Black Panther suit prototype necklace on the desk.

His stomach dropped.

In all her years, he’d never known Shuri to purposely destroy one of her creations.

‘Shuri? Talk to me.’ T’Challa said, pulling a chair next to his sister. Shuri turned to look at him and by her red eyes, he could tell she’d been crying.

‘I could not work in the same lab with...that.’ She said vehemently, gesturing to the necklace. ‘He used what I made to…’ Her voice tapered off and she took in a deep breath. ‘I will never let anyone else use my creations for destruction. Never again.’ She says her words with anger in her voice and T’Challa can only nod in agreement.

‘I assume that is why you changed mine?’ T’Challa asked and she nodded. Barely a day after the battle, Shuri had taken his suit and engineered it in such a way that he would be the only one to activate it. He had thought nothing of it at the time but now it made more sense. Silence settled over the two while T'Challa wondered what to say.

‘I haven’t been able to sleep. I keep seeing him throw you over the waterfalls and hearing mama’s screams.’ Shuri said out of the blue. T’Challa’s eyes widened but he let her keep speaking.

‘When Baba died it was in a flash. There was no time to react.’ She continued. ‘But with you…’ Her voice trails off and she looks up at him, tears welling up in her eyes. Without a second thought, T’Challa moved towards his sister, grabbing her in a hug. Shuri dissolved into tears and T’Challa rocked her from side to side as he did when she was still a baby.

The tension and the pain of the past few weeks were finally wearing down on her and he was glad that she was no longer holding it in. With her genius, Shuri’s age was often pushed to the side but holding her in his arms and feeling her iron grip hold on him reminded him of how young she was.

‘I’m right here usisi .’ T’Challa said softly, holding his sister as she sobbed. ‘You will be annoying me for many years to come. I promise.’ Shuri let out a choked laugh at his words and T’Challa kissed the top of her head.

It had been half an hour since her King had walked into the lab and Okoye was beginning to worry. She was starting to think of breaking into the lab when the doors slid open. T’Challa and Shuri walked out, the princess’ eyes still red but the both of them laughing.

‘You had better start the courting process with the River Tribe for Nakia before she finds a reason to leave again.’ Shuri teased. T’Challa playfully shoved her away and the princess laughed.

Okoye smiled. There had been too much pain and sadness in the royal family recently. She was glad to hear the laughter of both her King and the princess ringing through the palace walls again.