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Clue-by-Four

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King T’Challa and Princess Shuri enter the kitchen, where two men are drinking juice, resting for a little while. As soon the men see the King and the Princess, they stand up and bow a little.

“I have been informed by mi sister that you two wish to be relieved from your service to Captain Rogers and his team.” Starts the monarch; face serious and eyes sharp. “Is that correct, Zimkhitha, Bulelani?” he asks, just loud enough to be heard in the living where the ex-Avengers are lounging around.

“Yes, Your Highness, that is correct.” Answers Bulelani, the taller one.

“May I inquire your reasons? I would loathe for our guests to believe our people ill-mannered.”

“You might have forgotten, Your Majesty, but we were Tony Stark’s personal servants when he came to Wakanda. And we cannot, in good conscience, serve them now.” The other man, Zimkhitha, says.

“So you do not want to serve them because you served Dr. Stark on his stay here?” The King asks, lifting an eyebrow. Princess Shuri ducks her head a little, to hide an amused smile; because she saw the Captain’s team migrate from the living to the kitchen, curious about what’s happening. Their offended expressions are hilarious (this is one time where T’Challa’s request of talking English as often as possible comes in handy).

“Tony stayed in Wakanda?” Asks Steve; a shocked expression on his face, not caring when three out of four wakandans semi-glare at him for intruding on the conversation. In the five days since the team was moved into the west wing (when it was just him and Bucky they stayed in a single private room on The King’s Wing) he hasn’t heard anyone talking about Tony; although they could have been talking about him in Xhosa, and he wouldn’t know.

“He was invited when my father and representatives of the UN were talking about the Sokovia Accords.” Explains T’Challa. “He stayed in our country for two weeks, along with a few others, to make amendments to the document. And to; as he said, ‘science’ with our researchers. They were very much charmed with him.” Finishes the Kings, with a bemused little twitch of lips.

“I’m sorry but that’s bullshit.” Barton interrupts. “I don’t know what kind of shit Stark put you through or what image of the Avengers he left you with, but we are nothing like him.” spits Clint.

“I know” answers the smaller man, Zimkhitha, looking right into the archer’s eyes “that’s why we won’t serve you. Your betrayal to him is an affront to us. Dr. Stark is a good, kind and considerate person. He is a man that respects anyone, no matter their status, as long as they don’t think they know him for the image the media sells of him. He is a man that listens to advice and recommendations. He asks for opinions. He was caring to our children, even when they interrupted him; and he played with our littles, though he didn’t have to, because we couldn’t stay with them. He fixed or improved many appliances or devices, just to make our lives and work easier; and he never asked for anything in return. When the topic of me been the leader of the Dora Milaje in the past came up, he respectfully inquired how and what it meant and then just accepted the answer. Even in our country that’s hard to come by.” The ex-Avengers stop short at the implication that the strong man that has been serving them these past days was once a woman; and Bulelani scoffs, but signals Zimkhitha to keep on talking. “Despite the many demands for his time, he concerned himself with learning about our culture: food, language, traditions, fighting styles. It had been a while since someone (what’s more, a foreigner) gave me such a drilling workout.” When Clint and Sam snort at this, disbelieving, he frowns. “Perhaps you two would like to fight hand to hand with me without any personalized weapons? Dr. Stark was able to keep up with me and a few of the candidates to future Dora Milaje; I’m sure any of you could too.” He finishes with an evil gleam on his eyes. The slightly bigger man, snorts at this.

“What?” Bulelani asks, when Zimkhitha glares at him, still reeling in his laughter. “I’ve fought against you when you were a young lady, then a young man, and in these past few years and I was never able to hold you down for more than a few seconds. Neither was able any of the candidates to Dora Milaje no matter how many times they tried and yet…yet Dr. Stark was able to hold you down after two rounds, for a whole minute.” He ended, with a slightly awe struck expression on his face.

“Yes, well” starts Zimkhitha, “he’s had excellent teachers all his life; and decent sparring partners.” he looks at them. “Not you, of course. Other; more… qualified people.” He seems to take pleasure in the avengers’ insulted faces. Bulelani snorts again, and this time Princess Shuri lets her smile show.

Meanwhile, King T’Challa has been watching all of them like an entertaining tennis match, moving his eyes one side to the other. At the end of the exchange of words, the archer and the witch are glaring daggers at two of his most loyal abasebenzi; who are glaring right back, still managing to look respectful, though. Seeing no other choice, he sighs.

 “I see. It is of no use to order you to serve people you do not wish to serve; and which will not allow you to serve them, after this…discussion.” Zimkhitha and Bulelani bow deeply at his words, with little smiles on their faces. “Fundani and Anathi are fairly new and still learning; they should have no problems with serving Mr. Rogers and the others, sister.” The monarch says, addressing the Princess. “Starting tomorrow, you will replace Fundani and Anathi and will service me, along with Cebisa, my main maidservant.”

With the matter settled T’Challa leaves the room, and Princess Shuri ushers the two elder men out another door.

The ex-Avengers are left in the kitchen alone, thinking about what those two wakandans said. Steve wonders if it’s possible for these two men to have known Tony better in two weeks than he managed to in four years. Wanda thinks that Stark managed to trick those good men into believing him to be something that he definitely is not, an admirable person. Clint still believes that Stark is an idiot, he just happens to find good people that defend him too much. Scott muses that if a man manages to win the respect of such stoic men in such little time, he might be more than what Pym and the others made him believe. Sam considers that he might not have been so wrong to trust Tony Stark in the Raft, after all.

Bucky regrets not getting to know the man who went to help them even after his best friend ended in a wheelchair because of them. And he feels even more upset at the thought of Steve and his teammates thinking so lowly of Tony Stark, leaving him to the wolves to deal with all the mess they caused.