Sometimes, when he lies awake at night, unable to sleep, M’Baku thinks about the king.
M’Baku did not know who he expected to meet the morning of the challenge. A man with a chip on his shoulder, perhaps. Someone who would respond to his own bravado with equal fire. Instead, he met T’Challa.
T’Challa. With his quiet voice and eyes that betrayed nothing but seemed to peer right through his very being. T’Challa, who’d held his life in his hands yet risked his own life to give him the chance to yield. T’Challa, who’d begged M’Baku to think of his people even as he held him over the edge of the waterfall. When M’Baku had lain T’Challa in Hanuman’s snow only days later, he’d felt no satisfaction in seeing him broken. Instead, he’d felt sorrow for the mighty warrior that had fallen so soon after a noble victory, and rage at the one who’d done this to him.
If M’Baku had felt something else threaded between those two emotions, something tender and fierce that made him wait next to T’Challa’s comatose form through the night, periodically laying a hand on the king’s chest to see if he still breathed... well, that was no one’s business but his own.
“I thought I might find you out here.”
M’Baku turns and sees the king standing behind him, silhouetted in the golden glow of the estate room behind him. M’Baku tries to ignore the way his heart flutters in his chest
“Shouldn’t you be inside?” M’Baku asks, leaning back against the balcony railing in what he hopes looks like a nonchalant manner and tilting his chin towards the partygoers within the palace. “It is a celebration of your accomplishments, after all.”
T’Challa grins, his teeth white in the glow of the moon. Like M’Baku, he has a gap between his two front teeth. In Jabariland, gapped teeth are considered beautiful. M’Baku wonders if it is so in Birnin Zana.
“It is a celebration of our accomplishments, my friend,” T’Challa corrects. “My first year as king would have been all the more tumultuous had it not been for the combined cooperation of every Wakandan tribe.” He walks towards M’Baku, his panther grace evident even in the most casual of gestures.
“Besides,” he says, “I’ve been hoping to speak with you all evening.”
“Have you now?” M’Baku says.
“Yes,” T’Challa says, “but not as much as Shuri has. She mentioned something about designing a suit for you.”
T’Challa laughs at the look on M’Baku’s face.
“If you wish to escape her attentions,” T’Challa says, “I am going to the gardens to get some air, and you are more than welcome to join me.”
M’Baku swallows roughly. He tells himself that this means nothing, that T’Challa’s invitation is a polite formality between friends, nothing more.
But there is something different about T’Challa tonight. M’Baku cannot put his finger on it exactly, but he can sense it in the way he can smell a snowstorm days before it strikes.
He swallows roughly, and then he nods.
T’Challa leads M’Baku through the gardens to a large gazebo that appears to be made of entirely of silver filigree. As M’Baku approaches he hears the faintest hum coming from the structure, notices a slight ripple of the air in the spaces of the intricate design.
“Force field,” T’Challa says by way of explanation. “My father used to have meetings here when I was a boy. The field allows whoever is inside to see out, but it can also be tinted for privacy.”
M’Baku nods, trying not to read into the look T’Challa cast him when he said the word privacy.
They walk in together and sit down on one of the oval-shaped benches. The moonlight casts lace-like patterns through the filigree, and T’Challa looks strange and beautiful underneath the intricate shadows, like one of the spirits his mother used to tell him about as a child. M’Baku realizes he has been staring and abruptly looks away.
“Was there something you wished to tell me?” M’Baku asks, not meeting T’Challa’s eyes.
“I merely wanted to ask you if I have properly expressed my gratitude to you over the course of this past year,” T’Challa says.
“You have,” M’Baku says slowly. “You have welcomed me to your council, deferred to me on every issue concerning my people, and done more to improve relations between our tribes than every king before you. You know this.”
“I certainly have made an effort to prove myself worthy of your respect and companionship,” T’Challa says finally, a certain depth in his voice that makes M’Baku‘s stomach flip. “But lately I have sensed a change in you, M’Baku. I do not think I have the words to describe what has brought about this new tension between us, but I am beginning to think that perhaps there is something more you want.”
M’Baku’s blood chills to ice.
“Are you accusing me of ingratitude, Your Majesty?” M’Baku spits out the title with as much scorn as he can muster, hoping that his voice does not shake as he does so. Perhaps if he instigates a fight with the king, T’Challa will not realize how very close he is to wrenching the truth from M’Baku’s heart.
“M’Baku,” T’Challa says, and his voice is so tender, so full of warmth, that M’Baku feels it in the very pit of his being. “What is it that you want?”
M’Baku has known what he wants since the day he held T’Challa’s broken body in his arms. But he is not so foolish as to think he is entitled to the king, no matter how is heart aches for him.
M’Baku snorts, a dry, bloodless imitation of a laugh.
“What I want, T’Challa,” M’Baku says as he stands to leave, “I do not believe you can give.”
Before M’Baku can register the gesture, T’Challa reaches out and lays a hand on M’Baku’s forearm. He does not curl his fingers around M’Baku’s wrist to keep him from leaving, but the warmth from his skin is enough to freeze M’Baku where he stands.
When T’Challa stands up and looks at him steadily with those beautiful, inscrutable eyes, it is as if M’Baku is back at the waterfall, with T’Challa staring him down as he calmly accepts his challenge.
“You will never know for certain,” T’Challa murmurs with a voice like distant thunder, “unless you ask me.”
T’Challa is head and shoulders shorter than M’Baku, but he is the only man who has ever made him feel truly small.
Silence be damned. If M’Baku must burn this bridge, he will do it thoroughly, no more hiding, no more silence, no chance of ever being able to return to the way things were.
He takes a step towards T’Challa, crowding him against the bench so that he is forced to sit again. M’Baku kneels, bracketing the king’s body with his arms.
“What I want, T’Challa,” M’Baku says, his voice barely more than a whisper, “is you. Your body, your heart, for the rest of my days.”
M’Baku does not have time to register the change in the king’s expression before T’Challa launches himself into M’Baku’s arms, toppling him to the floor. M’Baku is saved from cracking his head against the stony floor only by T’Challa’s hand cradling the back of his skull. When T’Challa’s lips crash against his, it is rough and fiery and everything that M’Baku has ever wanted.
When T’Challa pulls away for air, his breathing is ragged, and his eyes are blown wide as he stares down at M’Baku with something between adoration and shock. T’Challa’s shaking hands come up to frame M’Baku’s face.
“When I was in the coma,” T’Challa says breathlessly, “you stayed with me. I don’t know how, but I sensed you, felt you lay your hand on my chest.” He kisses M’Baku’s forehead, his cheeks, the bridge of his nose. “You have lived in my heart ever since, and not a day went by this past year that I did not find a new reason to fall in love with you.”
A sound that would resemble a sob were it not so filled with joy tears itself out of M’Baku’s throat, and he surges up to kiss T’Challa again, licking into his mouth and pulling him so close that they may as well be one single being. They stay like this until T’Challa finally pulls away.
“Ngasese,” T’Challa calls, and a purple light flickers across force field woven through the the gazebo walls.
So that was the privacy setting, M’Baku thinks with more than a little amusement.
T’Challa straddles M’Baku’s hips as he strips his tunic off and casts it to the floor. M’Baku runs his fingers over the T’Challa’s swollen pectorals and the ridges of his stomach, committing every bit of T’Challa’s god-like body to memory. M’Baku spreads his thighs and allows T’Challa to settle between them. T’Challa groans and grinds his hips down against the fat swell of M’Baku’s groin, his own erection driving M’Baku to distraction. T’Challa mouthes the column of M’Baku’s throat, leaving stinging kisses on his wake that he immediately flattens his tongue over. M’Baku leans his head back, opening himself to T’Challa as much as possible.
“I know you fight as a god,” M’Baku gasps. “Tell me, my king, do you fuck as one?”
T’Challa makes a noise like that of a wounded animal and frantically undoes M’Baku’s pants, curling his hand around M’Baku’s erection. M’Baku moans, desperate and needy, and his hips move up, following the frantic rhythm of T’Challa’s hand.
“You are perfect,” T’Challa says breathlessly. “You will never not be.”
M’Baku’s back arches as his orgasm builds inside of him, a raging furnace inside his belly, and he knows that T’Challa is close as well. He can feel it in the way he trembles in M’Baku’s arms, a mountain in the wake of an avalanche. T’Challa does something with his wrist that sends M’Baku over the edge, his climax tearing through him like a cleansing fire. Above him, T’Challa gasps M’Baku’s name and comes all over his own hand. M’Baku digs his fingers in onto T’Challa’s ass, and he closes his eyes as his vision whites out, giving into the free fall.
When M’Baku can think coherently again, he opens his eyes and sees T’Challa’s head resting on his chest, looking up at him in a way that is almost shy, demure even. His expression pricks at M’Baku’s heart, and he gently pulls T’Challa up towards him. Their lips meeting in a gentle kiss, so different than the frantic tangle of tongue and teeth they engaged in earlier. It is a kiss that asks for everything but demands nothing.
T’Challa nestles his head against M’Baku’s throat, and M’Baku tightens his arms around him.
“So this is why you saved me, eh, M’Baku?” T’Challa says finally, a coy smile coloring his voice. “All this time I thought you did it for the good of Wakanda, but as it turns out, you wanted to debauch me.”
M’Baku laughs, the joy bubbling out of him like water from a mountain stream.
“Paint me as a lewd villain all you like,” M’Baku says, “but I am not the one who dragged you to this...” he gestures vaguely around him, “gazebo of iniquity.”
T’Challa just laughs and traces the lush curve of M’Baku’s lower lip with his index finger.
They lie in silence for awhile, basking in the warmth of each other’s bodies.
It is T’Challa who speaks first.
“Come to bed with me,” he says, kissing the corner of M’Baku’s mouth. “The night is still young, and there are so many things I’ve dreamt of doing to you.”
M’Baku nods and kisses his king, smiling against his mouth.
Glory to Hanuman