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Gratitude

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“You could’ve died.”

     M’Baku’s tone was accusing. T’Challa sighed. That was about the tenth time that day, and it wasn’t as if he didn’t know it. The battle had taken a toll on all of them, and finding out that in an alternative timeline T’Challa, along with several others, actually had died didn’t really make processing it any easier. But in this timeline, the timeline M’Baku had helped to fix with the Avengers, he had lived. Sure, he had still had a near death experience while battling the aliens with Okoye and Sam Wilson, but they had survived.

     They all had survived.

     “It was just a flesh wound,” T’Challa said, “and it took Shuri exactly five minutes to heal me. I’m fine.”

     M’Baku huffed, crossing his arms. “Just so you know, I’d really love it if I didn’t have to save your ass a third time, as sweet as it is.”

     Alright, that meant that M’Baku’s anger was fading away. T’Challa chuckled and slipped his fingers into M’Baku’s.

     “Well, I am thankful that you keep saving it,” he said. “And seeing you beat Thanos with your staff was…”

     T’Challa paused. How did one describe his lover beating up a being like Thanos using only his staff? Powerful and marvellous were both understatements. No, the truth was that there was no word to describe it, at least not in any language T’Challa spoke. Even Thor, who had finally finished Thanos off with his axe, had practically sung praises of M’Baku afterwards.

     M’Baku stroked T’Challa’s back gently. “I mean it, though. Try not to get yourself nearly killed a third time. I don’t think I could handle that.” He paused for a moment, looking like he was considering his next words. “And neither could Okoye, for that matter. You should’ve seen how upset she was, you know, in the other timeline.”

     T’Challa had no clear memories of the other timeline, unlike those who had survived in it, but he took M’Baku’s word for it. M’Baku was many things, but never untruthful.

     “I promise you that I will do my best to avoid near death experiences in the future,” T’Challa vowed.

     “You’d better,” M’Baku grumbled, but there was no more anger in his tone, just concern. “I’d hate to feel like I’m about to lose my king again.”

     T’Challa stared at M’Baku, who stared back, obviously having just realised what he had said. That was the first time M’Baku had ever acknowledged that T’Challa was his king, even though T’Challa had reminded him of it several times.

     M’Baku huffed and sat down on the grass, leaning against his knuckles. T’Challa followed the suit, placing his hand on M’Baku’s shoulder.

     “Thank you,” he said at last. “For everything. For keeping Shuri safe when I couldn’t. For keeping on fighting for Wakanda.”

     M’Baku rolled his eyes. “Well, that’s just plain obvious.”

     “Plain obvious or not, you have my gratitude,” said T’Challa.

     M’Baku turned to look at him, a smirk playing on his lips. “That’s a lot of gratitude you owe me, my king.”

     T’Challa laughed. “I suppose I cannot add one more thing to my debt, can I?”

     M’Baku shrugged. “I don’t know, depends on what it is?”

     T’Challa leaned up to kiss M’Baku. It didn’t last for long until he pulled back and said, “I am thankful for your love.”

     “Consider this as a way to pay back your debt,” hummed M’Baku, smiling into the next kiss.