Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Black Panther and Storm
Author's Note: This five part fic was written based on a brief confrontation between Storm and Black Panther in Avengers vs. X-Men #2 in which it was revealed that the two were seeing a marriage counselor. This got some buzz going on some forums, especially from those Storm fans who would like nothing more than to see the marriage dissolved. As a result, I wrote a gapfiller of sorts, focusing on the final decision to actually seek professional help.
Avengers vs. X-Men Issue 2
Narrator: Thunder rumbles without a cloud in the sky. Guts tighten in the belly of the King of Wakanda.
Storm: You should've told me this was happening.
BP: You should've told me you were harboring a 16 year old with the power to blow up the planet.
Storm: T'Challa, we have to end this.
BP: There's only one way to end this, my love.
Narrator: His wife is still worshipped as a God all along the Serengeti.
Storm: You stubborn, pigheaded man. This is exactly why we have a marriage counselor!
Narrator: Marital discord with hail and lightning and hurricane-force winds.
Counseling the Royals
Part 1: Ramonda, Queen Mother of Wakanda
Ramonda absently listened to her children discuss Wakanda's foreign holdings. T'Challa had just said something about the NASDAQ Stock Market. To which Shuri responded, "Our stocks have seen a persistent bid over the first four days of this week." And so the dinner conversation went, brother and sister, Queen and King of Wakanda, managing and maneuvering the nation's economy for the betterment of their people, keeping the small African nation on the map, ahead of its' competitors.
And while seeing her grown children work and act together in concert pleased Ramonda to her very motherly core, there was little else to their meals than business. If Shuri and T'Challa weren't discussing the state of Wakanda's economy, then they were reviewing homeland security reports, or dissecting research proposals from environmentalists, engineers, botanists, or a host of specialists wanting funding for their special projects.
Ramonda sipped her tea and sighed. This wasn't how their dinners used to be. She looked at the circular, cherry finished dining table where the three of them sat. The dining room was much smaller than the overly large room they used for entertaining guests. This room, the one without a dais and other elaborate designs and fixtures made for royalty, was intended for the family's private gatherings.
The Queen Mother loved this room—quaint and comfortable. It held fond memories from when she was a young wife, her husband strong and proud by her side. There was much laughter back then, T'Chaka never bringing Wakandan business into the sacred place. But that was then and this was now.
Her eyes wandered to the two empty chairs. Not that long ago, every chair was occupied at the table. But now only three were—Ulan and Ororo missing. Ulan, Ramonda's brother-in-law by marriage but brother of the heart, would never fill his seat again. Doom having taken the former Black Panther from this plane of existence. But then there was Ororo's chair, the one next to T'Challa. The chair T'Challa avoided looking at every time he entered the room, but was invariably drawn to when he thought no one was looking.
No, there was no longer any laughter in this room. No light. No fun. No relaxation. Just Black Panther business. And Ramonda, Queen Mother, was tired of it.
"Fix it," Ramonda said in a low, fierce tone that drew Shuri's and T'Challa's attention. "Fix it," she repeated when they only stared, seeming to remember that they weren't the only two in the brightly-lit room.
"That's what we're trying to figure out now, Mother. Last night's lightning storm left several hundred Wakandans without power. We've been able to restore service to—"
"I'm not talking about that, Shuri." Ramonda turned her gaze to her son, his handsome face and stubborn jaw so much like his father's. "You need to fix what you've broken."
Their eyes met and held. And when T'Challa's brown orbs slid to the vacant chair to his left, Ramonda knew he understood her words perfectly.
"We're fine, Mother, don't worry yourself."
Ah, naïve words, or perhaps simply an arrogant sentiment. "I've never known you to be a fool, T'Challa."
He bristled at Ramonda's words but said nothing, simply glanced at the chair that should hold his wife.
"Ororo belongs here . . . with us."
"She'll be here next week. Ororo will return to Wakanda and you'll see for yourself that all is as it should."
It wasn't. Hadn't been since the incident with Doom and the Desturi, made worse when T'Challa decided to leave everything behind—including his wife—and move to Hell's Kitchen. This they all knew. The huge elephant in the room they never talked about, but it hung there between them, a rotting corpse, polluting the unity of their family, the future of Wakanda.
"You may lie to yourself, son, but do not seek to share your shroud of fraudulent contentment with me. I've waited months and months for you to finally come to your senses and return home. And you did."
"And Ororo returned with me," T'Challa quickly added.
She had at that. But T'Challa's words were a partial truth at best. The strain between them was evident to anyone who truly knew them. To outsiders they probably seemed like the perfect couple: attractive and powerful. Yet Ramonda knew otherwise, no matter the façade they put on.
"When Ororo returns, there's someone I'd like for the two of you to see." Before Ramonda could finish, T'Challa was already shaking his head.
"We don't need a marriage counselor, Mother."
She arched an eyebrow, not liking his hard tone or the adamant set of his broad shoulders.
"Did you really think I wouldn't notice you having secret meetings with Dr. Kweku for the last month? He's one of your longtime friends, sure, but he's also a highly respected and sought-after marriage counselor. And" –T'Challa gave Ramonda an all too knowing look— "he just happened to retire to Wakanda instead of his home nation of Niganda after decades of practicing abroad."
"I assume if you know that much about Dr. Kweku," Ramonda said, not one to mince words or play games, "that you know he gets results. All his patients love him."
"I don't care about the man's credentials or his client's positive reviews. I'm not going to bare my soul to a stranger. What goes on between me and Ororo is no one's business."
Ramonda expected this response. T'Challa wouldn't be his father's son—or hers—if he so easily accepted the idea of being vulnerable, one of his greatest fears, T'Challa's temporary paralysis leaving him at the mercy of others. No, her son wouldn't want to revisit such a delicate position. But it wasn't as simple as that.
Though Shuri and T'Challa could be brutal when necessary, taking no prisoners in their pursuit of justice, or even revenge, Ramonda was no different. Her words of, "And what will you do, son, if one day Ororo decides never to return to Wakanda . . . to you? Is your precious pride, your manly sensibilities greater than your love for your wife? For your marriage? For the children you and Ororo could have?"
T'Challa said nothing, his jaw working with suppressed agitation. Good. Something for him to stew on.
Done eating and planting seeds, Ramonda rose from her chair. There was nothing else to be said. T'Challa would either heed her advice and take her warning, or he would lose his wife. He was far too intelligent not to have come to the same conclusion. And if he allowed pride, fear, or even stubbornness to stand in his way . . . well, then he deserved his fate.
TO BE CONTINUED