Shuri isn’t very surprised when the other white supersoldier shows up just a few days after theirs is thawed out. She hasn’t actually met Steve Rogers yet, but T’Challa had warned her that they are a matched pair. Like brothers, he’d said, who’d go to the ends of the earth for each other.
She thinks he’s right about the last part; she isn’t so sure about the first.
When Steve Rogers shows up, he’s a bit of a mess. It’s not the Middle Ages and she has a Tumblr, so of course she knows who Captain America is, but that’s not the man that Okoye leads into the room. Captain America is heroic, always ready to fight for the cause, and clean-shaven. This guy looks nervous, tired, and like a bushman, despite his nice shirt and jeans.
He smiles at her brother as they greet each other, and there is genuine warm respect there, but his smile is still tight, forced. He’s seen some shit, that much even she can pick up on. It reminds her so much of Bucky and the two whole times she’s seen him attempt to smile. As if just the beard, pale skin and hundred-year-oldness weren’t enough to draw similarities.
“This is our resident genius. My little sister, Shuri,” T’Challa says, proudly gesturing her way as he always does when introducing her. He’s such a closet dork.
Blue eyes turn to her, and Rogers’ smile seems to grow a little more relaxed. “It’s very good to meet you, Shuri. I’ve heard how much you’ve done for Bucky. Thank you.”
He puts so much weight behind those last two words it feels like it could bowl her over, but instead she stays on her feet and shakes his extended hand.
And oh boy, okay. She’s never been a Cap fangirl. Her brother is the Black Panther, and once you know superheroes leave tooth paste bottles unscrewed and try to smuggle their fancy European Brussel sprouts onto your plate during state dinners so they don’t have to eat them themselves, just like any other human being, it kind of takes the magic out of the whole concept. But she knows people who do go crazy over the Captain and damn, would they be jealous. She’d definitely be tweeting about this if this weren’t a top secret visit from a fugitive that probably shouldn’t be announced publicly to her nine thousand followers.
“It was an interesting puzzle,” she says, which is the kind of thing Mother tells her she shouldn’t say, but Steve Rogers doesn’t seem to mind. He actually seems a bit impressed.
Yes, this would definitely make for some viral tweets. Such a shame.
Once the introductions are done with, Rogers folds his hands in front of him, feet planted wide. And this, strangely, reminds her of Okoye. She wonders if he’d make a good Dora Milaje.
“I don’t mean to be rude,” he starts. It sounds like something people just say, a sentence used more to announce oncoming rudeness than for any other purpose, but he oddly looks like he means it. “But I’d really like to see Bucky now, if that’s okay.”
T’Challa inclines his head. “Of course. I would expect nothing less. He is a little outside the city, in a more restful place, where he can heal in peace. Shuri can show you to him.”
“Yes!” She’s a little excited now. She fixed Bucky’s brain, but he still always looks sad, and that’s not something she can make better with science. Maybe a visit from a friend will help. “Come with me, American.”
He follows her dutifully out of the room and out of the building to the street, where a Dora is waiting with a car. Shuri walks around the front and opens the passenger door like that’s what she always does. When no one objects, she sits down. Captain America takes the middle back seat and struggles a little with his seatbelt, and Shuri busies herself conjuring up a map in front of her, where Rogers will be able to see, so she doesn’t start giggling.
She’s a professional.
Which wouldn’t normally stop her, except that she doesn’t actually want to laugh at this very serious, very sad white man who really needs a razor.
The ride isn’t long; barely twenty minutes. She spends it giving Rogers details about where his friend is housed (his own private hut close to one of the smaller villages), how he has been doing (far better than expected after decades of torture and abuse, honestly), and what she did to erase any triggers HYDRA or anybody else implanted in his brain (a lot, so she abbreviates). Rogers listens attentively and asks intelligent questions here and there. She’s especially pleased when his eyes don’t glaze over once she starts talking about the more complicated parts of the procedure she performed, even if he doesn’t seem to understand all of what she’s saying.
When the car rolls to a stop, she waves away the diagram of Bucky’s brain that she’d been using as a visual aid. She unfastens her seatbelt and twists a little in her seat, to get a good look at this living legend six times her age who’s been sitting in the car behind her rather quietly.
He schools his expression when she turns, but he isn’t fast enough to hide his wide eyes or the troubled line of his mouth from her completely.
“Last time I saw him he was frozen, and the time before that he ran away and one of my friends tried to kill him,” Rogers says, when he meets her curious eyes. “In between he was used to try to kill me, against his own will. I guess I’m a little worried.”
“Shall we?” she asks, because he looks like he might need a nudge.
She gets out of the car and he follows suit. The Dora stays where she is, because two hundred-year-old men apparently aren’t the kind of threat she feels she needs to stick close to Shuri for, even if they’re as beefy as these two.
The car is parked in the middle of a dirt road, because there is no traffic to speak of this far outside the city. To the side of the road is an open field. There’s a pond, a few trees, and Bucky’s hut, but other than that it’s just grass, enclosed by lines of trees. There are some goats and chickens doing their own thing.
There is also Bucky, who must have noticed their arrival, because he is standing in the middle of the field and looking straight at them. His hair is up in a bun and his skin is already a shade less milky than when he was just unfrozen, from just a few days out in the sun.
She’s met him before, of course. She was the one who woke Bucky up, brought him up to speed on his situation, and then brought him here. T’Challa technically tasked her with removing Bucky’s programming only, but she still feels a sense of responsibility after completing that task. She likes Bucky. He is kind despite the shitty hand he’d been dealt in life (or rather the hand life had taken away from him, she supposes) and every now and then a very dry sense of humor shines through in something he says, and it’s intriguing.
He’s also very lost, and while it doesn’t compare in any meaningful way, she knows a tiny bit about feeling like you don’t quite fit in. As a child, she hadn’t always found making friends easy, and adults often didn’t appreciate being outdone by an eight-year-old in conversations about university level mathematics.
Bucky stays where he is, not moving to approach them. When Rogers does the same, and they have stared at each other for a while, Shuri decides this is getting ridiculous and bumps Rogers’ ginormous bicep with her comparatively tiny fist. “Are you frozen again? This isn’t Antarctica.”
She starts walking and doesn’t look back to see if Rogers follows.
“Hi Bucky!” she calls out, when she is still a few paces away.
“Hello Shuri,” he replies, but she doesn’t hold his attention for long. His eyes are clearly drawn to her companion, who did indeed come with her, to her relief. Dragging a man of Rogers’ size anywhere without his cooperation would have been a challenge without access to her lab.
But Rogers did come willingly, and he comes to a stop beside her. They’re standing at a normal speaking distance from Bucky, but Rogers’ body is angled towards him in every way possible, and his gaze is just as fixed on Bucky as the other way around. It’s like he’s a sunflower reaching towards the sun.
“Steve,” Bucky says, by way of greeting.
Shuri feels like she’s stumbled into a regency romance novel, what with the amount of white people, longing looks and complete lack of touching. “Bast!” she bursts out, startling both of them. “Just hug already.”
Rogers looks from her back to Bucky, and for a moment it seems like he is about to ask for permission as if he still thinks Bucky might say no (these idiot men, really), but then Bucky huffs and raises his arm. “Come here, punk.”
“Jerk,” Rogers says, in a way that sounds worryingly like he is about to cry. If he does, though, Shuri doesn’t see it, because in the same heartbeat he bridges the last two steps and embraces Bucky as if he won’t be able to breathe again until he does. They sink into each other, burying faces against shoulders and holding on so tight it’s probably a good thing they’re both supersoldiers.
It’s quite dramatic, but Shuri feels herself getting swept up in it. They deserve their moment.
Except that it turns into a pretty long stretch of time to still be called a moment. The seconds tick by until they’ve formed a full minute, but Bucky and Rogers don’t let go of each other. They seem content to stand there for an uncertain duration, so she ambles away to give them some privacy. She settles onto the hood of the car, waving at the frowning Dora through the front window, and pulls up Candy Crush.
The hug is still going when she completes the level. She is very tempted to use her phone to time it (for some hard numbers, just in case the world ever reaches a point where she’d finally be able to tweet about this day), but she doesn’t, because it would be rude. And more importantly, inaccurate. She missed the start and incomplete data bugs her.
After advancing four levels she grows bored, so she gets up and pets a goat. It’s black and white and likes the attention, actively nudging closer to her.
After maybe five minutes of that, she saves a note on her phone with an idea about how to improve T’Challa’s Panther suit that petting the goat gave her.
By now, at least twenty minutes must have gone by, if not more, but Bucky and Rogers show no sign of planning to let go in the near future. It’s cute. It’s also a little sad, like everything about them. The thought hits her that they’re making up for seventy years of missed hugs, all at once.
Which is why she almost jumps when she sees danger headed towards them, very determinedly: the black and white goat from earlier, apparently having decided it has gotten everything from her that it can, now trots towards the soldiers in a straight line.
Shuri looks at the Dora, who is still in the driver’s seat doing Dora things (or possibly also playing Candy Crush, who knows) but she only gets a shrug in return. This is probably fair – the Dora Milaje are not legendary because they are goat whisperers, and approaching someone standing in a field isn’t a reason to spear an innocent goat – but does not solve the very real problem in front of them.
Shuri is about two thirds of the way across the field, sprinting (which is exercise and these men should be thankful), when she realizes she will be too late.
The goat has reached the men.
It lifts its head, opens its mouth, and clamps its teeth down around the seam of Rogers’ shirt.
Rogers reacts immediately. He jumps away, seems to turn mid-air, and lands still half in front of Bucky, arms out protectively, and a very confused, slightly dazed look on his face. Bucky is behind him, frozen for just a second with his arm up like there is still a large man in it, before he drops it and looks down at the goat.
“Steve,” he says, and it somehow conveys all the stages of grief.
“It’s a goat?” Rogers says, arms still raised.
“It’s a goat,” Bucky confirms.
Rogers lowers his arms and visibly relaxes his posture, looking helplessly at the black and white goat in front of him. It gazes up at him innocently and lets out a goat sound. “It tried to eat me.”
“It didn’t succeed.”
“No,” Rogers affirms, still a little stunned.
“You’re gonna have to try harder, goat.”
Rogers shoots Bucky a look of betrayal, but it turns soft even in the two seconds before he spots Shuri. That’s when she’s pretty much definitive that certain fan theories she’s read are more accurate than she’s ever given them credit for. Huh.
“Hi,” she says brightly, because she’s been spotted anyway, so she rolls with it.
“Shuri?” Rogers asks. “Is it time to go back already?” He clearly tries to keep his phrasing, tone and expression neutral. He fails, very much so, but it’s nice that he makes a misguided effort to respect whatever his host’s wishes might be.
She reaches a decision. She points a thumb over her shoulder in vaguely the direction of the road. “Oh, no, I was just coming over to let you know I’m heading back with the Dora.”
“Weren’t you supposed to take Steve back with you?” Bucky asks.
“No,” she flat-out lies. “He’s staying here tonight.” She tries to present it like it’s always been the plan, but she still looks from Bucky to Rogers and back to make sure she doesn’t get this wrong. Rogers looks a little confused (possibly still from the goat) but also pleasantly surprised (definitely not from the goat). Bucky looks at her without much of an expression at all.
“Right,” he says. “In my hut. With a single bed. Because Wakanda can’t afford two guest beds.”
“We are a third world country,” she agrees, nodding.
Rogers nudges Bucky, a small smile on his face. “Oh come on, you know we fit onto the tiniest of matrasses.”
“You were a third your current size back then,” Bucky grumbles, but it’s a weird kind of grumble. A happy grandpa kind of grumble. Shuri is delighted to hear him talk like that.
Rogers just shrugs. Shuri briefly wonders if this means he’s willing to sleep on the floor, or he’s just confident Bucky will let him flop on top of him in the single bed. She has a sneaking suspicion it’s the latter, but then banishes the thought, because she didn’t come here for that. She came here for a goat.
It’s moved a couple of goat steps to the right, where it is now happily snacking on some grass, but it has proven to be unpredictable. She grabs a handful of the longest patch of grass she sees and turns to Bucky and Rogers for the last time. “I will leave you now,” she announces, dragging out her best princess demeanor.
“Thank you,” Rogers says, and for such a powerful, American man, it’s surprising how much he does that. “For everything.”
“It was good seeing you,” Bucky adds, sincere for once.
She doesn’t curtsey, but she is tempted to. It’s not something Wakandan royalty has ever done in their long history, but it always looks like fun in the movies. “The same to you.”
With those words of parting, she walks over to the goat and offers it her handful of grass. It’s very interested, and allows her to half lead, half lure it away from Bucky and Rogers.
When they’ve reached the car, she knocks on the window of the driver’s seat and the Dora rolls it down. “We will leave Bucky and take the goat,” Shuri tells her.
“Why?” she asks, otherwise reacting surprisingly little to this direction. They really do train the Dora well.
“For ancient gay love,” Shuri says, opening the back door.
As they drive away, she leans around the goat to wave at the supersoldiers. They wave back, but more than that, she notices Rogers’ other hand resting on Bucky’s shoulder.
They will be alright, together.