T’Challa was pulled out of a peaceful slumber by movement and noise. He sat up, blinking in the faint morning light coming through the windows. M’Baku had woken up too, but the distractions weren’t coming from him.
James, despite still being asleep, was twisting and turning, muttering in Russian to himself. His tone went from distressed begging to monotoned growling, back and forth with no warning. His face twisted painfully, fists clenching the sheet.
“James.” T’Challa tried to be as gentle as possible resting a hand on James’ shoulder.
James only snarled and -still asleep- in a show of insane reflexes, twisted to break T’Challa’s wrist like a twig and fly kick him across the room.
“James, wake up!” M’Baku was more forceful, grabbing both of James’ wrist. “Little one, it’s just a nightmare, wake-”
M’Baku didn’t get to finish his words, instead getting a vicious headbutt from James, and T’Challa cringed at hearing M’Baku’s nose break right before James threw him off the bed as well.
James sat straight up after that, eyes wide open and wild with fear. His chest heaved, breathes choked on and desperate. After a quick survey of the room, he was on his feet, running into T’Challa’s bathroom and slamming the door being him.
T’Challa swore in Wakandan, pushing himself to his feet (while cupping a broken wrist) to walk over to the bathroom door, M’Baku (cupping a bleeding and broken nose) close on his heels.
T’Challa knocked on the bathroom door with his good hand. “James?”
There wasn’t a response. T’Challa could hear James’ racing heartbeat and ragged sobs, he was right on the other side of the door.
“Should we leave him, let him calm down?” M’Baku asked, looking utterly distraught and lost as to how to handle the situation.
T’Challa shook his head. “I’m afraid he’ll try to run. And I don’t want him alone. I don’t want him to hurt himself.” He said, and M’Baku nodded. T’Challa raised his voice again.“James, it’s alright. Can you talk to us, love? We’re not angry.”
“We want to help you, little one,” M’Baku added, and T’Challa admired his attempt at a softer tone he probably wasn't used to.
James sobs slowed a bit, and there was a beat of silence before he opened the door and retreated to the other side of the room.
T’Challa and M’Baku walked into the bathroom, and T’Challa’s heart ached to see James pressed into the far corner of the bathroom, arms wrapped around his knees with his face buried in them to muffle his sobs.
“Love, it’s alright.” T’Challa soothed, taking slow and light footsteps toward him.
James looked up, blue eyes wet with tears. “Oh god, I-I hurt you. I hurt both of you. Oh god, why did you take me out of cryo, I can’t hurt anyone there, please god make it go away.” He buried his face back in his knees, crying and mumbling to himself in Russian.
T’Challa’s stomach twisted in knots. He sat down next to James, and M’Baku followed suit, so they were on either side of him. “James. This isn’t your fault. These wounds are easily fixed. But yours aren’t. Your wounds are deeper, will take more time to fix. But I promise, love, they can be fixed. If you push us away, we can’t help you fix them. Please let us help, darling.” He dared to touch James’ shoulder, who flinched but didn’t shy away from the touch.
“And if you leave, you can’t help us find HYDRA and rip them to shreds,” M’Baku added, and as much as T’Challa wanted to strangle him, he understood the sentiment. “Besides, T’Challa and I tried to kill each other only a few weeks ago. Look at us now! We only try to kill each other part of the time. We can handle a few blows from you.”
James actually let out a choked laugh at that. “Dear god, never do pep talks, M’Baku. You’re awful at them.” He lifted his head, and despite red eyes and tear stained cheeks, he was smiling.
M’Baku blinked, offended. “I have better things to do than work on diplomacy! And what are you talking about! I made you smile, see?” He gestured to James’ face.
James only laughed again. “Come on, let’s take both of you down to Shuri.” He studied T’Challa’s wrist for a moment. “Lord, I broke clean through, didn’t I?”
T’Challa shrugged, pulling himself to his feet. “You are a man of incredible strengths, love.” He said. M’Baku nodded in agreement, jumping to his feet, then offering James a hand in getting up.
“Good Lord.” James rolled his eyes.
M’Baku scoffed. “You Christians and your God and Lord.”
James tossed him a faint glare. “I’m Jewish, asshat.”