Black Panther and Storm

Author: NWHS

Journey

Epilogue to Possibilities

Wakanda

T'Challa's POV

When will this get easier? It has been three months and I haven't made as much progress as I would like in strengthening my legs. Dr. Somide said it would take a while and if I pushed my body too hard, too fast, I could quite possibly do more harm than good. What in the hell does he know, anyway? He's not the one stuck in this damn wheel chair. I have spent my entire life pushing my mind and body to the limit and he expects me to sit on my laurels and do nothing while others do everything for me.

I hate this. I really hate being this helpless. I see the way everyone looks at me now with such pity in their eyes. They no longer see me as their strong, protective, king, but a mere invalid who can't even manage to cleanse his own body without the aid of a nurse. I can't even sleep through the night without being awakened by nightmares. Dr. Doom plagues both my waking and sleeping mind. How I hate that man for what he has done to me. I hate him and he is the reason why I push myself to the limit every day. I refuse to let this be the end of me. I refuse to let that man best me in the end.

I watch Ororo, Shuri, and Nezhno train in my gym and I can't help envying them at times. They are able to do things physically I can only marvel at now, that I once took for granted. People tend to take physical and mental ability as a given when they have always been blessed with the good fortune to have both. However, those who are born with physical or mental challenges have never known anything else and, for them, that is their normal. They adapt and live with it in a world that often times care very little about their unique conditions. I used to live in that world with blinders on, clueless to my good fortune and the misfortune of others. Like celebrities who ignore the medical plight of others until it touches them and all of a sudden they are outspoken and demand Congressional hearings and allocation of additional funds for research, I never once thought I would be physically handicapped and rely on others for my basic needs.

I continue to watch the trio train and marvel at how much of a team they have become in such a short period of time. It's Ororo and her leadership skills. Unlike me, she really knows how to work well in a team. All of her time with the X-Men has really honed such skills and Shuri is now receiving a different kind of training than I could offer her. If I had truly understood the meaning of team relationships then I probably wouldn't be in this mess now. I thought I could handle Namor and anything that came my way. I didn't tell anyone my plans to meet with him and I even disabled the tracking device on my ship. What was I thinking doing such a stupid thing and trusting Namor above my own common sense? Arrogance, pure and simple arrogance, on my part, and now all of Wakanda is paying the price.

Ororo and I are a team and I thought I learned my lesson the last time we went head-to-head with Doom and his doombots. My pride got in the way then too and I acted like a spoiled child, lashing out at my wife for what-for doing what any loving and caring wife should-protecting her husband from harm. I can be such an ass sometimes.

How many times will I have to learn this lesson? Even now as I watch them train, as three move as one, I can't help but think what I'm going to do to Namor and Doom once I am recovered. I am a solo act and it is difficult for me to be any other way, but if I'm to hold on to my kingdom, my family, and my wife, I have to be more than what I am, what I have been in the past. I need to do this as much for myself as for them, who never questioned or judged my decisions, only accepted them with grace and unrelenting support.

Break time is over,T'Challa, time to get up and work those legs of yours. Every day is a new day but with old challenges and the sooner you can hold your own weight, the sooner you can regain your manhood. How can you expect to reclaim what was taken from you if you can't even defeat your inner demons? There is no shame in defeat only in giving in to the fear, and right now you are wracked with fear-fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of a lifetime of paralysis, fear of losing your wife, and fear of never being able to give your wife the child you both desperately want.

Fear is more debilitating than my paralysis and I refuse to submit. I am up and moving now. It hurts like hell, but the pain is an affirmation that I am alive, and while pain may not be the best motivator, it is all I have right now. My pain will take me where I want to be, and right now I want to walk into the arms of my smiling wife without the aid of my walker.

She sees strength in me that have nothing to do with my physical prowess. She says she would have married me even if I was a skinny, broke, physics professor, as long as my heart remained unchanged. From any other woman, I would have doubted her sincerity, but my wife is nothing but sincere and I know that such material trappings of wealth hold no value to her. She is my lifeline, my buoy, in this rough sea and now I am only a few feet from her and the pain in my legs feels wonderful. I am alive and have been given a second chance at life. I do not have to be the Black Panther to be strong. I only need the strength of my spirit and the love of my family. Isn't that what life is all about in the end? One's love and true worth transcends all obstacles, and right now I have just overcome one of mine. I walked twenty feet unaided and into the loving embrace of my white lioness.

I'm getting there like a child taking his first stumbling steps, but in time, the stumbles will turn into powerful strides then gallops, and then… well, I'll figure that out once I get there, but for now, I will savor this small victory and start again tomorrow. This is my journey and while I have to defeat my own demons, I do not walk it alone.