|ｐａｎｔｈｅｒ (kingly) wrote in avengers_logs,|
@ 2019-07-01 09:02:00
|Entry tags:||-complete, ava starr, t'challa|
Who: T'Challa & Ava
What: Ava finds the missing fake!vibranium weapons. T'Challa offers her a new position.
When: Weekend times?
Where: Royal Palace, Wakanda
|T’Challa had given Ava all of the information he had on the scattered weapons, produced by Thomas Green’s dutiful worker bees - apparently it had been enough, because after some time passed she contacted him again and stated she found the missing pieces. It was good news, and good work - he promised Shuri she could tinker with the weapons or destroy them (it would take her literally five minutes to decode their self-destruct mechanism) and, additionally, he had promised Ava more information on Wakanda. Along with immersion in the ways of the nation, so she could get to know them all better.|
First they’d seen Shuri at work in her lab, observing as she moved about in what was like a seamless choreography, drawing pipettes of fluid from one tiny tube and transferring them to others. The hum of highly advanced machinery, that was like a soft whisper in the background (in addition to the loud whisper, which was her terrible choice of American pop music and what on earth was a Drake anyway?) . She was busy, of course, darting to and fro and being in six places at once as she was apt to do. Holograms popped up occasionally, designs drawn, a flicker of light - she didn't really use chalk or pens very much but preferred the more virtual demonstrations when she worked on her designs. And she was glad to see them, the weapons giving her something else to do in addition to planning a STEM fair at the outreach center in Oakland.
The Golden City was indeed an architectural marvel, but that was to be expected in a nation fueled by vibranium - overhead in the Royal Talon fighter, you could see all the skyscrapers reminiscent of rondavel huts with coned roofs, curved structures. There were many circles as part of the design - this was because circles were calming and they represented the cycle of birth, life, and death, the never-ending journey. The palace itself was grand, cloaked in earth tones (alongside black and royal purple) and plenty of natural materials to be found.
T’Challa wore a one-piece sherwani suit, a regal black robe embroidered with intricate patterns. He brought Ava to the parlor in the palace, where they - T'Challa, Shuri, and Ramonda - were all seated around the table with tea; a sweet sort of blend, vanilla and caramel and a bit of marigold flowers, plus little cakes to go along with the tea. Those cakes were soft and spongy, the traditional dessert which melted in one’s mouth. Shuri had eaten about five before she excused herself (probably eager to get back to the lab), and the Queen Mother followed suit.
It was now just T’Challa and Ava at the table. “I must thank you again for your help in retrieving the weapons,” he said, setting down his teacup. “This whole thing has been such a mess. I will be glad to be rid of the whole situation entirely.”
Seeing Wakanda for the first time was, in a word, breathtaking. Everywhere she looked, Ava couldn’t help but feel a sense of wonderment at the technological advances and the beauty of the structures. Shuri’s lab in particular, was quite impressive; and she made a note to at some point discuss what she knew of quantum realm with the younger woman; to get her take on everything. She was certain Shuri would have her own unique and valuable insights on it.
Ava could also understand why such a country had chosen isolation for so long; but she was glad that T’Challa had different views and goals in that regard. The rest of the world’s population that were in need would benefit greatly from the outreach centers, so it was a very good thing that Wakanda was no longer a closely kept secret. Even if it that visibility came with it’s own problems, as evidenced recently with the fake weapons. But that was why she was here, to hopefully be able to help with that.
Ava took a sip from her tea, savoring the sweetness of the vanilla - one of her favorite flavors. “I’m glad to have helped,” she said with a smile. “And I’m glad that the majority of my work was completed before time suddenly skipped forward,” she added with a little quirk of her brow. This universe was keeping her on her toes, to say the least.
“You know your sister almost looked bored by the weapon parts, like she was expecting a greater challenge.” She couldn’t help but be amused by that, understanding within a few moments of T’Challa and Shuri’s interaction just how much they were indeed siblings. She was impressed by the way he carried himself and his responsibilities. And seeing the way he interacted with his family and his own people made her more curious about him as a person.
Ah, yes, the time jump. How...unfortunate. Or actually, T’Challa didn’t quite know what to think of it at all - people in Wakanda maintained extraordinarily long lifespans (the medical advances helped with that, and the fact that no fast food existed here), so he hadn’t lost anyone. His mother looked the same, as did Shuri - but she had been turned to dust with him and then subsequently returned when he did. He was certain not even Stephen Strange fully understood the nuances of this nonsense.
But everyone was alive - or should be, having been dusted and undusted in both universes. He would just go with that.
“Yes, a little self-destruct mechanism is boring to her - she was figuring out things like that when she was a toddler,” the King joked, though it was actually sort of true. He teased his sister and the opposite was the case, but he was always proud of her. “I know she is looking forward to the STEM fair in Oakland soon too. She has been devising many exhibits and demonstrations.”
Finishing off the last bit of his tea, he then pushed his chair back and stood to extend his hand. “Now I must walk off that cake - “ Though he only had one piece, as opposed to Shuri’s near half-dozen. “I can show you around the palace? The gardens by Lake Turkana are especially nice,” he offered.
Not much changed for Ava with the jump forward in time. It had just been confusing and inconvenient, having it happen while she was in the middle of interrogating someone about the whereabouts of the last weapon part she needed. Fortunately, it had worked out in her favor; and after a couple days, she was able to adjust to the fact that the world had moved forward while she remained the same.
One of the concerns she’d had was if the jump would affect her healing and stability - which thankfully, it hadn’t. After a few phone calls back home, she’d learned that Hope and Scott were ok (though his daughter had aged up a few years), as was Bill back in San Francisco; all of which set her mind at ease.
“Must have been an interesting childhood,” she remarked, stifling a chuckle at the thought of a younger Shuri dismantling self destruct mechanisms when other kids her age were probably playing with dolls or… whatever children played with, Ava hadn’t exactly had a traditional or normal childhood herself. Most of her toys she had to concentrate particularly hard to be able to hold for longer than a few moments before phasing.
She nodded with a smile and took his hand, “I’d like that.” She’d eaten almost as many cakes as Shuri, because they were just that good; and the opportunity to get a closer look at the palace and it’s surrounding grounds was an offer she couldn’t pass up.
T'Challa headed outside with Ava beside him. He would try not to spout endless boring facts and be too 'tour guide' as opposed to warm and welcoming, but he at least shared that the lake which surrounded the palace was actually salt - potable but not palatable.
The flowers really were beautiful too, a riot of color in this garden. There were bonsai trees as well, lining the immaculate grass in their wooden boxes. In the center there was a pond with flowering lily pads and a small wooden bridge that crossed the middle so visitors could look down at the fish. Koi fish, actually ; they were good for gardens.
"We will be able to observe the sunset out here," he said. "The sunsets in Wakanda are the most beautiful in the world." And a sunset was the last thing Erik saw before he died - the tragedy of that whole situation was something that had never really resolved for T'Challa.
But it was true. The sunsets in his homeland were utterly amazing. “Are you enjoying your stay thus far?”
“I bet they are breathtaking,” she replied. “I’ve seen a few spectacular sunsets before, while out on missions. It’s a bit different there though, you don’t have much chance to slow down and appreciate what you’re seeing before needing to move on to the next location. I was in Iceland once, the sun didn’t set until around midnight. When it did, it was lovely.” Here, though, she could imagine would be far more impressive. Everything was lush with color, a perfect complement to what hues the sky would take on when the sun sank beneath the horizon.
“I am enjoying my stay, very much,” she responded with a smile. She reached out to run her hand over the railing of the wooden bridge, glancing down at the colorful koi fish that flitted through the water. There were vibrant blossoms everywhere she looked, and she barely resisted the urge to stop to touch or smell all of them.
“The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. It’s nice to have a moment to catch my breath,” she confessed. “I’m still not used to being able to do this,” she pressed her palm flat against the railing, “without phasing straight through it. The pain as well, I’d lived with it for so long; now that it’s gone I almost… don’t know what to do?” Her tone was light, because really, not knowing what to do was a luxury she hadn’t had before; and that wasn’t lost on her. But it had been an adjustment, these past few weeks. Being here now, slowing down a bit - it was helping in more ways than one.
Living with chronic pain was difficult - likely, Ava woke up each day not knowing how she would feel; the uncertainty (along with many other aspects) aided in depression, struggling to survive, and in developing the will not to strangle people who said things like ‘have you tried insert miracle cure here?’ It was always something ridiculous too, like ‘drink more water.’
Well. Obviously Ava had found what worked for her. T’Challa was glad for it. She had helped him immensely - and now he too wanted to return the favor.
“I hope you do not mind this offer, but - “ He paused, stopping in the middle of the bridge while looking down at the water, wheels in his head turning. “You have said that you are unsure if the effects of the healing particles are permanent. But perhaps your friends versed in the ways of the quantum realm could speak with Shuri? I am certain she could devise a way to make the effects permanent, so you do not have to wonder about when it will all end.”
That way, she could live freely - no more shackles imposed by that accident which, sadly, happened many years ago and made her upbringing so traumatic.
Ava blinked a few times, her eyes flickering with a mixture of relief and vulnerability - soft things she didn’t let out too often; but it was hard not to at what he’d just offered. “I would be very grateful for that, yes,” she said, a little quietly. Living with this new stability had been a wonder and an immense joy; but she couldn’t deny there was also the very real fear in the back of her mind of when it might inevitably wear out. She was surprised T’Challa seemed to understand that, enough to offer what he did.
“I will ask Hope and Scott. I’m sure they would be thrilled to speak with Shuri about the quantum realm,” she said with a small smile, knowing how fascinated they both were with the science of it all. Ava was as well, but less so - given that she’d been the recipient of quantum energy in such a chaotic form. She looked at it with a certain wariness now, mostly.
“Whenever I tell people about what happened, usually they assume it’s all a done deal. That things are just fine - no phasing problems, no more pain means nothing to worry about right?” She gave a humorless chuckle. “And I wish it was that simple. But living with that kind of pain and dysfunction everyday… I admit, I’m afraid of it returning; even with all that I have now,” she explained, glancing down at the water with a listless expression for a moment. It wasn’t something she wanted to burden Bill, or Hope and Scott with either. Not after all they’d done for her.
“Thank you for understanding that,” she said, glancing back up at him. “Not many would have.”
“No need to thank me.” In a gesture of solidarity, or perhaps because he wanted to and he doubted Ava had experienced much of this over the years, he placed his hand atop hers on the railing. “It is not too difficult to understand. No one can expect you to let go of the pain overnight,” he added.
Not just the physical pain, but the mental anguish - the toll it had taken on her. Everything would require some time to work through. And if she was simply waiting for the pain to return, in the back of her mind, was it ever going to be gone entirely? No, it wouldn’t. That was why T’Challa offered the assistance of highly advanced technology - in fact, this was why he had chosen to share Wakanda’s knowledge with the world. As a person of color, the odds were already stacked against her, even in subtle ways. But not in this pocket of the world.
“When you live your life a certain way, for so long, even if things change for the better - it can be difficult to accept. Change is like that, sometimes.”
She smiled at the physical gesture, finding it to be a grounding sensation. Touch had been impossible for so many years, which meant that even small gestures like these were all the more impacting to her. Not that she wanted random strangers coming up to her and touching her, but in this case; it was quite welcome.
The odds had been stacked against her, due to a variety of factors; even before the accident. As the child of a mixed race couple, she had always been treated differently. Even as she grew up and began to travel the world, she found that that hadn’t changed. She’d learned that people were mostly the same, no matter where you went - always trying to put her in one category or another; whichever one was more convenient for their narrative. Some places were better than others, but there was nowhere quite like Wakanda. Everyone was thriving, free of any influence of white culture or colonization, which was a breath of fresh air in a world that constantly catered to and prioritized both things.
“It’s strange. Even though I wouldn’t wish that sort of pain on anyone, and I don’t ever want it to return… at least I knew what to expect from it. Pain keeps your world small. Now that everything is ahead of me, there are so many directions, so many paths to take. What if I pick the wrong one?” she asked, but it was more of a hypothetical musing than a request for an answer. She knew the only way to find out was to try one path and see where it would lead. “But change is like that, isn’t it,” she said, repeating his words. “How have your people reacted to the changes you’ve made?”
T’Challa agreed - he supposed you could be so overwhelmed by the many different choices to make, the many different paths to take, that you didn’t take any at all. But then, as a result of that, nothing happened. He knew Ava would face the unknown with a healthy amount of fear, but not so much that it hindered her from living the life she’d always wanted - even if she was still figuring out what that entailed.
“Many think it was a long time coming,” he chuckled a little, thinking fondly of his people. “Most of the tribes united under Bast feel this way. The Jabari tribe, in the more mountainous regions, have always shunned the use of vibranium and technology - they have their own ways, but they come together with us to fight for Wakanda when needed. Their leader was recently granted a seat on the Wakandan Tribal Council.”
The sunset was beginning to take shape and it was already beautiful as they stood out over the water - the orange gold shades stretched far and wide, reminding him of tangerines and the hearth of a fire. “My cousin, Erik - he was not wrong in his line of thinking,” he went on. “My father was the one who was wrong when he left a young boy on his own in America, left him to grow up fueled by hatred. Erik’s desire to help his people - our people - was admirable. But his methods of doing so were not. I valued his desire to help our brothers and sisters, I still do - I think this is something everyone in Wakanda can get behind.”
Ava could see how she could have easily gone down a similar path as Erik. Life hadn’t been kind or easy to her when she was young, and she carried those scars to this day. She’d had Bill though, fortunately. “I understand where your cousin was coming from, though my circumstances weren’t exactly the same. If it weren’t for Bill Foster, I would have been on my own as a kid, I didn’t have anyone else then.” He’d helped to take care of her, and he’d been her moral compass for a time as well. She could only imagine how much worse it would have been to have been left to fend for herself as a child, in America no less; like Erik had been. She agreed with T’Challa though - Erik’s desire to help his people was a good thing; the methods, maybe not so much.
As it was, her rage toward past harm that had been done to her still wasn’t entirely resolved. That would take more time; which fortunately - she had now, thanks to the healing particles. It made her sad to think that there had been no other way for T’Challa and Erik to reconcile, but she also understood that once some choices were made; there wasn’t any going back.
The colors that lit up the sky before them were nothing short of spectacular, bathing their surroundings in a colorful, warm glow as the sun dipped lower. “A penthouse in the city can’t compare to this,” she commented with awe as she tilted her head to take in the full sight of the vibrant sky. “So beautiful. I don’t know how you manage to ever leave.” When Wakanda was where you called home, everywhere else must seem pretty dull in comparison.
The sun sat there in the sky, taking its leisurely time to fully set - in the sky it remained, the brilliant hue of summer fruits and stretching outward in shades of sepia. T’Challa took a moment to admire - for as many sunsets as he had seen, he didn’t think he would ever tire of such a sight. In New York, it seemed different somehow.
Perhaps it was all the smog and pollution obstructing the view with a layer of haze.
“It is quite difficult to leave,” T’Challa concurred. “I don’t dislike New York, but it is not home. However, I have pledged to remain on an infinity stone watch. As long as there is a chance Thanos can come back for the stones, then I will remain.”
They were all mostly in New York anyway - the Sorcerer seemed to be guarding two of them (time and soul). The mind stone remained within Vision. The space stone was luckily far away, but the reality stone - it too was in this realm, somewhere in that city. Having them so close together seemed like a fool’s gamble but there was nothing else to be done about it at the moment.
“I have been working on putting together a new security force, however. An international force, which clearly seems to be a requirement now that Wakanda has integrated itself into the world,” he turned to glance at Ava. “And I could use someone to head it up.”
After the situation with Erik (and subsequently turning to dust), the War Dogs had been shaken up. He needed to reorganize and restructure - Bucky did not seem to have time to be at the helm of the reborn team, but Ava? He had a feeling she would be perfect for it anyway.
Ava hummed in acknowledgment of what he’d said, her gaze remaining fixed on the beauty of the colorful horizon before her; just drinking it in as much as possible.
Thanos was sort of a formless, impersonal evil to her. Worse things that tormented her than a titan she’d never met. Sure, he’d turned her to dust but it’s not like it had hurt, and the people she cared about had been dusted alongside her - all except for Scott, who had suffered horrific losses as the one left behind. She hadn’t fought in the war against Thanos either, which meant she hadn’t really suffered the way the others had, as a result of his actions. Even so, she understood the threat he still presented - since he was actually alive here, unlike the other universe. So she could understand why T’Challa had chosen to remain in New York, to help watch over the infinity stones.
Ava turned to look at him with some confusion when he phrased the next statement as if it involved her. “Me?” she asked, brow furrowed as she turned to face him. “Why?” She could hardly believe he was offering what he was to her of all people. She hadn’t done enough good yet to cancel out all the bad; and she hadn’t actually expected anyone to trust her enough to offer such a significant opportunity.
Then, remembering her manners, she gave a small, apologetic smile for her less than eloquent initial response. “Sorry, it’s just that I would have thought a position like that, you’d want someone you’ve known and trusted for a while. Someone from the Dora Milaje?” Or maybe they were all needed where they were already, she didn’t know. “What would the position require of me?” she asked, hoping that she would be able to meet those requirements without issue. If he did in fact think she was well suited for the job, then it was an honor she would not take lightly. But first, she wanted to make sure she could actually do the job. Given her history with SHIELD, she was careful about what she agreed to.
“It is a group that has existed separate from the Dora Milaje for some time,” T’Challa began to explain, walking along the bridge, extending his hand to drag along the smooth wood of the railing. They could have this conversation and immerse themselves in the glow of the setting sun, that seemed pleasant enough. “We call them the Hatut Zeraze - War Dogs,” he added. “N’Jadaka - or Erik, I should say, though he is likely getting irritated from the beyond that I keep referring to him as Erik...”
That caused a bitter chuckle, but the King continued. “When he was in control of the throne for a short while, his goal was to transport vibranium weapons to each branch of the War Dogs - we have sects in New York, London, and Hong Kong. Enough to arm our compatriots for a worldwide takeover. Some of the War Dogs complied, others resisted because they recognized the danger of that order - but the point is, they now need a strong leader. Someone to bring them back together in the face of new threats, people like Thomas Green. You know how to collect information and you know what to do with it - but most importantly, you want to ensure the safety of Wakanda. You said so yourself.”
Ava walked alongside him as they continued on down the bridge. As beautiful as the setting sun was, she imagined the star-lit sky would be just as spectacular when the sun finally crept all the way beneath the horizon.
“I did,” she agreed. Wakanda may not be her official home, but it was special to her - even after the short time that she had been there. “This is a place I would be honored to protect,” she said with conviction. “Let me know what you need from me, and I’ll ensure that it is done.” There would likely be more in depth debriefing later when it came to going over the ins and outs of how the security force functioned, for right now though; she simply took a moment to absorb what she’d just accepted and the ways in which it would alter her life.
It made her feel a sense of pride to be able to take up such a position; because it was one of protection, rather than destruction. A welcome change of pace. She had never led anyone before, much less a group; her missions had been strictly solitary when she worked for SHIELD. But it wasn’t a task she would back down from either. She understood pain, sacrifice, and making difficult decisions; if there were other skills she needed to be a suitable leader, she’d learn them. What seemed to connect the War Dogs was a mutual desire for the well being and safety of Wakanda, and that was something she shared with them. The rest she would study and learn with the same dedication she had put toward finding a cure for her condition during all those years.
“Thank you,” she said softly after a moment. “For giving me the opportunity to do something good. Something worthwhile. I wasn’t sure I’d get a chance to, after—” she waved a hand, thinking he knew what she meant. “I appreciate it.”
The sky was pink, the trees having poked a hole in the light clouds from this view - from that, bled the colors of summer in Wakanda. The summers were pleasant, very tropical - and brought a respite from the more rainier season before.
“Being a King is not always about being the strongest warrior,” T’Challa said. “It is about second chances, and seeing the potential in people even when they may not see it themselves. I myself was given a second chance to rule, a second chance at life - “ Erik had essentially won the throne through ritual combat, and were it not for M’Baku and the Jabari keeping him preserved in ice and snow, T’Challa would be dead, “...so I recognize the importance. We are not given many of those during our time in this world.”
And why simply settle, when given a second chance? You must go out there and do something with it. But anyway. “We ought to go and check on Shuri. She may have gotten swallowed by the lab, and Mother will be disappointed if she does not join us for dinner.”