Who: MJ and T'Challa What: A job offer Where: The lounge on the 36th Floor When: Some afternoon after Madripoor Warnings: nope Status: complete
Since graduating high school, so much had changed for MJ and yet, at the same time, so much stayed the same. Her parents had been surprised when she told them she was moving into the Tower, claiming that room and board was part of an internship she was doing with Stark Industries. Living on her own was a little intimidating, though having Peter and Ned right there helped, as did the fact that the building was full of superheroes and had an AI assistant who could get whatever she needed.
The thing was, she didn’t actually have an internship with Stark Industries. At least not yet. She knew that Tony would facilitate her getting whatever training she ultimately decided she wanted. If she could decide. Ned had the computer and tech stuff covered, so what could she do that would be interesting and useful? She had no idea.
Today, she was sitting in the lounge area and reading a book, legs tucked up underneath her and a glass of iced tea on the table next to her. She barely looked up when she heard someone else enter the area.
Today, T’Challa had business in the Tower - he didn’t always but when he did, he’d meander through the convenient gateway and do what he needed to do, whatever was necessary. The mission to Madripoor was over and done with, and so his main focus was the expansion of the Outreach Centers and the programs put in place for refugees to find a more stable environment after so much turmoil - the constant maelstrom that was this universe no matter the year or who happened to pop in and out; perhaps there was some truth to the notion that we truly did live in a rainbow of chaos.
On a break for lunch, he ate his midday meal and enjoyed a cup of coffee - or he was enjoying one, rather, and he took the cup to the lounge so that he may sip in relative peace. Perhaps enjoy the view out of the Tower windows, and the impressiveness of the skyline. He was attempting to find a place to sit when he caught sight of a young woman reading a book that sounded intriguing - he couldn’t help but take note of the title.
“I apologize for the interruption,” he started, accent wrapped like velvet around the words. “But how is the book so far? I must know.”
As soon as he spoke, MJ recognized the voice of King T’Challa and was instantly awed. She’d spent some time getting to know Princess Shuri when she’d been in New York and was fascinated by all things Wakandan. For a very brief and rare moment, her casual exterior dropped and she felt a mixture of excitement and embarrassment that the King of Wakanda was talking to her and asking about her book.
“It’s pretty interesting,” she said. “I’m kind of obsessed with trying to figure out why people do the things they do.”
Did that sound stupid? Probably. So much for being cool. Oh well. MJ wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed by her interests though she was well aware most people would find her weird for them.
“I see - I too am interested in things like that,” T’Challa confessed; his smile was warm as a crackling fire and he certainly wasn’t about to judge anyone for what they chose to read in their spare time. If it made them happy and wasn’t hurting anyone, then why not? Enrich the mind, or indulge in some escapism - that was all fine. “You have just finished your schooling, yes?” He thought he saw an announcement about that - along with Peter Parker and other classmates; all of them were set to move on to the next chapter in their lives. It was very exciting - it must be, at that age. His own upbringing had been much different. “Have you considered going into forensics?”
It seemed like an intriguing subject and it was always going to be necessary. He had a few more questions too, but he’d tried not to get ahead of himself - he simply gestured to a seat near here, coffee cup in his opposite hand. “And if you don’t mind company, I will sit. I’m just putting off the rest of my business here for a little while longer.”
“Please,” MJ said, putting the marker in her book and setting it aside. She wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to talk to actual royalty who also happened to be a superhero. “I did just graduate, with Peter, Ned, and Tandy,” she said. They’d had a pretty awesome party and now she lived here and it all sort of felt surreal.
She shrugged at his other question. “I’m not sure what I want to study yet. I thought about forensics. Or psychology. Or both. But I also kind of want to do something that will be useful around here. You know, to benefit the team.” Because if she and Peter were sticking together, then she’d be part of the Avengers life whether or not she liked it. It only made sense for her to pick a major/career path that would mesh well with that.
T’Challa sipped his coffee, having added the right amount of cream and sugar - for him, anyway. But the sugar was brown, not the processed white granules; it gave the coffee a very complex flavor, thanks to the molasses. “That’s good of you - to want to help out the team,” he said. She was still quite young and would likely change her mind yet - and that was perfectly fine. It was understandable. Personally, he’d gone through many changes where he wasn’t certain about his future - and then having to step into the role of King after T’Chaka was killed? That shifted everything on its head too - really jumbled him up as he struggled to find his footing and be a good King. To not make the same mistakes as his father.
“You can try different things too, see what you like,” he added. “Would you be open to a paid internship, perhaps?”
MJ nodded. “That’s what I’ve been offered by Mr. Stark. It’s just a matter of figuring out what I want to do with it.” He wasn’t pressuring her to make a decision, which she appreciated. Maybe she could try a few different things and see what suited her best. It was something to consider, at least.
The thought that he might be offering her something similar definitely didn’t occur to her. After all, he didn’t really know her at all, in fact, he didn’t know Peter very well. “Are you going to be in New York long?” she asked, figuring that she should show some kind of interest in what he was doing since he was kind enough to ask about her.
“Oh, no, not very long - I’m usually quite quick with my business here, but the gateway makes it useful to go back and forth easily. And Shuri’s perfected a blend to help with any residual time change...wonkiness, is the word?” T’Challa grinned a bit. Plus, the very dark brew he had in his hand assisted with that too - though he tried not to overdo it. The last thing he needed was to be a twitchy, caffeinated mess - even if he’d have to drink a lot of it for it to have an effect, thanks to the various heart-shaped herb enhancements.
He wore a well-tailored jacket, one with a hand-woven design and something that had a bit of a gloss and sheen to it - his style usually fell under the umbrella of Afropunk, and he didn’t wear the royal regalia all of the time anyway. But he reached into the pocket of that jacket, pulling out a sleek black rectangle - what he used for a business card, since actual paper was so outdated. At least in Wakanda, it was. When he swiped his fingers across it, it unfolded like an accordion and projected a hologram of his contact information.
“I am on the network as you know, but just in case you need another way to reach me,” he added, handing the card to MJ. “We are looking for new minds, for our Central Intelligence Service organization in Wakanda. And have recruited from all tribes across Wakanda as well, but - there are minds on this side of the world that would excel too.”
Oh. OH. MJ took the card, realizing as she did that he was offering her a similar position with Wakanda to the one she’d been offered by Stark Industries. While having additional options to consider should have made it that much more difficult to make a choice, the offer from T’Challa was far too tempting to decline. Hopefully Mr. Stark wouldn’t be offended by that decision. “I would be very interested,” she said, wishing that she looked a little nicer and wasn’t wearing a pair of gym shorts and a ratty old t-shirt. The last thing she’d been expecting today was an impromptu job interview though.
“What exactly would this entail?” she asked. “Would I need to move to Wakanda? What kind of college classes would I take?” MJ had a lot of questions and hoped she wasn’t overwhelming the man sitting near her or making him rethink his offer.
“Classes similar to the subject in your book, I believe,” T’Challa replied, with a nod toward what MJ was reading. “History, International Studies, perhaps some Political Science as well - you would be able to tailor any classes to your work with Intelligence.” Education was important in Wakanda, and they had many universities to boast - they also offered classes through their Outreach Centers, but those were less collegiate and didn’t necessarily lead to a degree; they simply were meant for the betterment of the community.
He was pleased she seemed to be interested. After everything that had happened with his cousin, despite how that was years ago, it had shaken up the War Dogs - some complied with Erik’s orders, others resisted. But the schism from that, and the Snap and subsequent return of T’Challa himself, had also complicated matters; the King was eager to provide stability and guidance for the organization - they were vital to Wakanda’s safety and security. Recruiting young, fresh minds with fresh ideas could be a good thing.
“And you do not need to move to Wakanda. The War Dogs - that’s what we call our Intelligence agency - do travel a lot, however. They bring Wakanda’s work across the globe, forming contacts and helping others. It’s a lot of puzzle work - figuring things out, strategizing. They have safe houses all over the world, and many connections. I can also put you in touch with Nakia who is currently our top War Dog.”
Figuring things out was a skill of MJ’s so the more he described things, the better it sounded and she realized she was smiling like an idiot. “That all sounds great,” she said. “I look forward to talking to Nakia and learning more about what the War Dogs” - and how cool was that name? - “do and what my first steps should be.”
She’d also need to talk to Peter and Mr. Stark, to let them know what she was planning. Hopefully they would both understand her reasons for wanting to go this route. “Thank you, sir.” She paused. “Your Highness?” She paused again, lips twisting into a frown. “I’m sorry, I don’t know the appropriate way to address you,” she admitted, praying that he wouldn’t take offense to her lack of knowledge.
No offense taken - the sir in this situation simply smiled, waving off the idea of being bothered. “T’Challa, please,” he gently insisted. That was a suitable way to address him since that was his name - he didn’t require anything formal, especially when talking to someone who was going to become a colleague of sorts. Potentially. He hoped so.
“Let me know if you have any other questions - in the meantime, expect a message from Nakia soon,” he added, grabbing his coffee and moving to stand. “She can tell you all about her assignments and all the good she does. It is very interesting, actually.” From stopping ivory smugglers to trafficking rings - she really was the best person to handle humanitarian work at the Outreach Centers, and she would have a lot of wisdom to impart upon MJ as well.
Being told to call him by his name was as much of a surprise as the rest of the conversation and MJ could only nod in response. Would she ever actually call him T’Challa? It was unlikely. “I’ll look forward to it,” she said. “And thank you. I appreciate this.”
Even the little bit that he’d told her sounded fascinating and she was looking forward to learning more. She figured he had more important things to do than talk to her, so she gave a little wave as he stood up as she reached for her book again.
“And I’m sure I’ll see you around more,” MJ added.
“Oh, you will. I am here often.” T’Challa didn’t always have business at the Tower - sometimes it was simply to see friends or Natasha, to meet Sam and either eat burgers in silence or talk about how he felt about carrying the shield - whatever he preferred, and T’Challa didn’t push either way. He was simply available to be a sounding board. “Enjoy your book and the rest of the afternoon,” he added, smoothing his jacket before departing.
Which he did silently. Ever the silken cat, this one.