“You know there’s no point in actually spinning the bottle when there’s only two people to pick from, right?” As it comes out of his mouth, Peter realizes how ridiculous he sounds, and attempts not to wince outwardly.
“It’s the principle of the thing,” MJ says as she places the bottle on the floor. “We would be poor cultural ambassadors if we didn’t make sure our guest receives the full experience of Western teenage rituals.” Shit. This internship is giving MJ new and more politic language to justify doing what she wants anyways. It’s going to make things dangerous but also amusing back at school.
“How primitive.” Shuri looks up from whatever she’s doing on her Kimoyo console. “In Wakanda, if somebody likes someone else, they tell them how many rhinos they would offer for the privilege of their companionship.”
“Really?” Peter can never tell when Shuri’s joking sometimes, and is too afraid to ask.
“No, white boy, we agonize about it in private group chats and avoid the subject completely in front of each other just like you do.” Shuri becomes thoughtful for a moment. “I think the rhino thing may have been just Okoye and W’Kabi. He’s weird like that.”
Peter has never met this W’Kabi guy, but he has seen Okoye whenever King T’Challa comes to visit. Her fearsome expression turns into fond smiles when she hugs Shuri, and she always whispers something to the Princess that makes them both laugh. (A day or so later, a new meme making fun of T’Challa usually appears. Shuri always denies knowledge about it when her brother calls next.)
MJ clears her throat, not exactly politely. “As a guest, Shuri should go first.”
Peter is relieved he’s not picking. MJ would be the safe choice, but would it be rude not to pick Shuri? She is a princess, as well as a guest. But she’s intimidating. Peter has never met anybody so assured of herself and her abilities. It’s not arrogance, or an inflated sense of ego; she really is that good. She steps into the room and fully expects to be listened to as an expert. And she’s sarcastic and funny, and he’s learned so much from interning with her--
A giggle jolts him out of his musings. He thinks it might have come from MJ, which makes it even weirder. She laughs, yeah, but she’s not really the giggling type? Of course, he’s never seen her with a beautiful princess’s arms around her waist, her mouth incredibly close to MJ’s ear whispering something apparently worth giggling over.
There’s a smile on MJ’s face as she turns towards Shuri, kissing her slow and leisurely, like she intends to make the most of this experience. Shuri’s eyes widen for a moment before she relaxes into it, and it’s the first time Peter’s seen her surprised by anything. But MJ’s a force of nature, enough to bowl over even a princess. He feels a surge of pride and fondness in that fact, even if he is in no way responsible for any of it.
They finally break apart, and MJ looks exceedingly pleased with herself, leaning against Shuri’s shoulder. Her arm curves around Shuri’s waist, hand settling on her hip, and Shuri laces her fingers over MJ’s. It’s an easy, comfortable intimacy, and he wants to be a part of it so much it makes his chest ache.
“Peter, close your mouth. Flies are going to get in your brain,” MJ says, not entirely unkindly. With horror, he realizes he was not only staring, he was doing it slackjawed, like every horrible dudebro frat boy stereotype Aunt May warned him about.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. I know it was rude and I’m sorry but I was surprised and--”
Shuri bursts out laughing, and Peter is confused enough to stop talking.
“Bast’s precious ears, Michelle! Why didn’t you tell me he was this easy?”
MJ shrugs. “He’s not this bad, usually.” Something occurs to her and she smiles, slow and mischievous. “Must be the combined force of our presence.”
“At least he has the sense to be properly overwhelmed.” Shuri walks towards him, and he wonders if it’s heredity or training that makes the royal family move like they’re stalking prey. He’s pinned, all deer in the headlights, but he doesn’t actually want to move. Cool fingers touch his chin, tilting his face up until he’s looking at her standing over him. It would be overwhelmingly intimidating if there wasn’t amusement dancing in her eyes, so that takes it down to just a regular amount.
She leans down and kisses him, lightly but deliberately. Her lips are softer than he ever imagined, and he would be content to do this for, well, a really long time. He’s dizzy when he pulls away to breathe, but it’s totally worth it.
MJ’s been watching this whole time, and she gives Shuri a look of inquiry.
“He’ll do,” Shuri says, in her most bored princess voice, and it makes MJ laugh.
Shuri turns back to Peter and kisses him on the end of his nose. Somehow this is fonder, more intimate. “Relax, white boy. If we didn’t want you there we would have told you to leave.”
“Okay,” Peter says weakly, torn between relief they’re not angry at him and embarrassment that he’s been so easily played.
MJ walks over and puts her arms around Shuri’s waist, perching her head on Shuri’s shoulder. “Do you think maybe it’s time for some audience participation, or should we torment him some more?”
“There’s plenty of time later for torment.” Shuri laughs as she pulls Peter up, and he is happy to go wherever she and MJ lead him.