2019-07-26 - Suitably Mysterious Message


T'Challa sends a suitably mysterious but urgent message to the Avengers

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Jul 26 07:18:04 2019
Location: River Cafe

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The invitation had come to the Avengers HQ addressed to Steve Rogers. It had simply read 'Captain America, would like to talk about doing some good for people in the Disaster Zone. Will be at the River Cafe in Brooklyn. Bring whomever you like. Signed, T'Challa.

That may or may not be a name that Steve recognizes but someone is bound to recognize the seal of Wakanda on the letter.

The River Cafe is a very, very nice place to eat. It's got a wonderful view of the New York Skyline and T'Challa has a table right by the window. It's late morning and quite a wonderful morning it is too.

The Wakandan Prince - for a prince he is, mostly - is wearing an impeccably tailored suit with a purple shirt and a golden necklace that resembles claws that hangs loosely but it must be said rather regally around his neck. His phone is on the table near him as is a newspaper, and he is perusing a menu.

Mari had an eventful night and an almost eventful morning which is why she's just on time for this engagement. The statesque, dark skinned woman enters the cafe dressed in one of her latest creations. A tasteful pant suit with a light blouse underneath - not overstated but still, people will notice.

"T'Challa." Mari offers her hand to the businessman when she draws near the table. "I trust all is well with you?" It's hidden well, but Mari looks tired. Like she got hardly any sleep, last night.

"I was surprised to get your invitation. Delighted, of course."

Upon lifting the invitation from the daily pile of mail, the seal of the African country was immediately recognized. Steve did need to slit open the envelope and read the missive within in order to make a complete connection and once he sees the name, he looks up into the middle space above his office desk within the mansion. Memories flicker back to him: black suit, sleek silver claws, feline strength and fury in battle, followed by necessary absence. How not to attend upon the invite?

More brains tends to be beneficial in instances such as this and both Steve as well as his whomever-he-likes arrive at the River Cafe dressed in flattering classical day-wear. Steve in a tailored suit of his own overtop a powder-blue button down and the shine of his shoes speaks to effort and polish. His smile is small, professional on his lips as he sees not only T'Challa, but Mari as well. This should be interesting.

"Royalty," he says barely at a whisper to the brunet beside him before he lifts a hand in greeting. "Miss McCabe. Your highness." On his right hand, a simple gold wedding band.

His memory has holes like a sieve….but things bubble up from the dark layers beneath like water from a spring. Images, flashes…..and the last time he saw that face in some kind of person, T'challa was much younger, and the sight was through a scope. A shot he didn't take, for whatever reason. But it throws Buck off the merest half a step, though surely one can attribute that to the shock of finding himself in company with royalty?

He's in a well-tailored but decidedly unfashionable summer-weight gray suit: the details, for those that know, are far closer to the '40s than what's on the runway now. The long, dark hair is pulled back by a silver cuff, and he's holding a fedora panama in his left, gloved hand. There's a golden band on his right ring finger, as well. An inclination of his head to Steve's murmur, before he echoes Steve's greetings.

"Mari. Thank you for coming, yes all is well." T'Challa stands when she arrives and bows over her hand politely. Old world manners. Steve will likely remember. Bucky probably never had the chance to experience. "Ah. Dignitaries." He murmurs to the dark skinned woman as Steve and Bucky approach.

"Steve Rogers as I live and breathe." He glances down at the ring and then at the one on Bucky's hand. "Or is it a different name now? Please, sit, both of you."

A hand is also offered out to Bucky. "A pleasure to meet you Mister…?"

Whatever the experience was, the mission that set T'Challa in Bucky's crosshairs, the prince seems blissfully unaware of it.

"May I introduce Mari McCabe of McCabe industries. And also the feared Vixen."

It is likely that the Avengers have a file on her. She's one of the few independently operating 'heroes' that does so publicly. And of course she is the head of a very successful company.

"I am glad you could both make it. I trust my message was suitably urgent, yet mysterious? Dignified but personable? It has been a while since I had to practice such things."

"Captain Rogers and the man who captured your heart, I see." Mari offers her hand to Steve first. Yes she's noticed the rings. "Just Mari, please. I've flirted and we've fought together … " The woman is incorrigible. T'Challa is right, Avengers and SHIELD both have a file on Vixen. "Come now, T'Challa. Not feared. Beloved, clearly." She's teasing, at ease with this group.

"We've not met." The ex-model offers her hand to Bucky. "T'Challa does indeed like to be mysterious. He keeps me on my toes that way. Do you know him through the Wakandan embassy?"

"I suppose dealing with the dead makes practicing those skills difficult, T'Challa." Dealing with the dead? What on earth is she on about?

"Still Rogers, your highness," Steve replies to the Wakandan prince. His grin has increased by a lumen while remaining within the spectrum of perfectly polite, still humble even while pleased. A handshake offered is one returned in appropriate strength and he makes to seat himself nearest to the window in order to leave Bucky ample room to breathe, as is were.

"Miss Mari and I have indeed fought together," the Captain confirms - and hopefully no one's mentioned how Steve jumped out of a window into the open air outside of the skyscraper in order to pilot the helicopter - with no safety precautions taken whatsoever - nobody tell Barnes. "And with a comment like that," he points at Mari in regards to the 'dead' in particular before giving T'Challa a scrutinous look, " - you're properly mysterious now, your highness."

Buck's face is somber in repose….but it lights with a funny little smile at the questions about names. He takes T'Challa's hand, gives it a proper shake. "James Barnes, Your Highness." With as much aplomb as if he met royalty all the time.

Then Mari. "A pleasure, Miss McCabe," he says, before seating himself. "Me? I haven't met the prince before." He's far less of a public figure than Steve. Understandably.

"James Barnes. A very great pleasure." T'Challa says with a broad smile. One that gets slightly wry as Mari outs him.

"That, I am afraid is a rather long story. But the long and the short of it is that I no longer hold the Wakandan throne and instead hold the position of King of the Necropolis." There is a brief flicker in his hand, one that sees a short wakandan spear appearing and disappearing. It's only there for a flash but enough to suggest that the title isn't ceremonial. Well. Isn't entirely ceremonial.

"My duties as such have brought me here and as my title is not something a casually bandy about, I have been conducting more regular business along the way."

He pauses to let that all sink in because it IS a lot. "In the course of that Miss McCabe and I have been working together and we have discovered that there is a population of people stranded by circumstance in the Disaster Zone. They lack identification, or means to prove it, they lack jobs and homes and a great many other things. And they need help. Mari and I have begun to try to organize some aid efforts but even with our resources this is not something we can combat alone. And while the Avengers purview is normally more defense than humanitarian aid, you surely must have resources or contacts of your own in that regard?"

So. A humanitarian appeal that somehow coincides with his duties as… king of the dead?

"Captain Rogers kindly helped save my artifact collection from someone who thought to appropriate it." Not a word about the heroics in the helicopter. Though, they were very, very, impressive.

"Mister Barnes, a pleasure. Might I how you and Steve, met?" the woman says as she takes her seat, smiling at Steves follow up question. "He talks to the dead, didn't you know?" She winks. She's teasing, right? Cause she's Mari.

Well, maybe she isn't.

"T'Challa is right. We've forgotten that area. It's a reminder to most of us of a time we'd like to forget. In doing so though …" She's become quite serious all of a sudden "… we've forgotten those who still live there. We can help them. In a way, I feel it responsibility to do so. I've worked hard for my success but that doesn't mean I can't share the largess around."

And just how did she meet the Wakandan? This seems to be an unusual alliance, at best.

Steve sips at his water as he's filled in on the reason for the Wakadan royal's absence for a good number of months. The flicker-flash, fleeting as a will-o-wisp, of the weapon has him frowning and glancing over Bucky briefly, as if to silently query: did you see that too?

He looks back to T'Challa once more and when Mari speaks, his attention slides to her. The Captain doesn't seem inclined to offer ideas right off the bat, but by the furrowing of his brows, he's thinking. Bucky's left to answer the question of how the two men met, though the blond soldier does seem to smile to himself as he glances out of the window briefly.

"We do have a good number of contacts, yes. There's the Stark Relief Foundation, at the very least. Our contacts with the Red Cross are exceptional. I've got many connections with the VA Office and its affiliates. SHIELD is in contact with many of the local hospitals as well as shelters," the man offers as options.

Bucky cocks his head a fraction at T'Challa….and when Steve gives him that sidelong glance, there's the merest arch of a brow.

The question of how they met has him smiling that absurd little smile again, pale eyes going half-lidded in amusement. "I was eleven, he was ten. He was being ganged up on by a bunch of playground bullies. I couldn't let that stand," he says, voice low. "Been following him around trying to get him out of fights ever since." Oh, he's that Barnes.

Mari's comment of 'he talks to the dead' gets a look from T'Challa. One of those inscrutable looks. The one that says 'are we really going to spill state secrets in a nice cafe? Why don't you just order something?'

T'Challa's looks are very eloquent.

"Oh, is that right?" T'Challa's wide almost feline grin returns. "Well as I recall that is something that Steve has typically needed. I suspect you'll be in for a long and doubtless fruitful career of doing so."

The teasing is light hearted and meant indeed in good fun. As if he's known the captain before. Which of course he has.

"There is one other rather pressing problem that the locals tell us about. Security. It seems from talking to them that some go missing on a semi-regular basis. There are tales of strange happenings in there and there is still ordinance leftover from the blitz or that is what I hear. The plight these people find themselves in is a difficult one to resolve and part of the reason I contacted the Avengers was that I sensed a multi-faceted solution was needed."

"Any relief we can get going into there will be good. Mari and I are having trouble with the Mayor's office though. They're good people at city hall but sometimes their regulations and red tape seem more real to them than people who need help that they will never meet. Perhaps someone could…"

He gives Steve and Bucky a trademarked royal smile here. Even if he isn't a king he still has some skill at speaking artfully. Somewhat rusty perhaps, but still there.

"… strong arm them, just a little? Nicely, of course. If either Mari or I tried the same I doubt it would be looked on favorable."

"Ah, I see." Mari smiles at Bucky and gives T'Challa a long suffering look for his quips. "It's always good to have a partner. Something I miss when working solo." Vixen does that, if all reports are to believed. And Mari? Apart from the eye-candy she has her arm at functions, there doesn't seem to have been anything serious in a while.

"As to people going missing, that's a bigger concern. We found a lab under the street in there not two nights past. One of the locals had been taken and held there. Experimented on. I'm waiting for a report on her progress but it was rather serious." There are always reports, but this time there's proof. "And the amount of ordinance we've found just in our wandering. There are children living in there. I … grew up in a poor village in Mohannda and it wasn't anywhere near as bad as this." She shakes her head.

"I'm afraid if I try the Mayors office again, there'll be a new tax levied - the McCabe Tax for being Annoying."

The soft snort escapes Steve and rather than roll his eyes at T'Challa insinuation of 'picking less battles is wiser', he simply jumps his brows and maintains his own saintly air. The teasing is acknowledged through this and a subtle lift of his water glass towards the royal on the rise to Steve's lips.

The ring of condensation left behind on the tabletop once more receives its imprinted base as he sets down the sweating glass once again. "I don't see why I can't reach out to the PR section of the Avengers. I bet Miss Potts would have a few choice things to share with the mayor's office if she were informed they were dragging their heels in regards to humanitarian efforts." Bucky gets a knowing glance.

"As far as the ordinance, there is the possibility of using SHIELD's own munitions extraction team in tandem with local military forces. I'll be needing to speak with the Army as is." This, he doesn't expand upon further just yet.

"I think I can say it already has been exactly that kindof career," Bucky replies, comfortably, giving Steve an immensely fond look.

At the mention of someone being experimented on….his expression seals over like a winter pond. Lips thin out, and it clearly takes him a beat or two to master himself enough to speak. "Miss Potts….she's a master on that front," he says, when he can. "And as for SHIELD….yeah, I think I can lean on 'em a little, too."

"Anything that can be done, Steve, Bucky. Anything at all that can be done to give these people food, warmth and security would be good. I am a realist. I know that actually solving their situation will take time and focused effort. But keeping them alive, keeping them fed, that is something we can do now. They are hurting and they need to know that they're not forgotten to starve or boil or… go missing and not return."

Mari's comments have T'Challa going quiet. He glances at her. "Do let me know how that one turns out." They might want to talk to her.

"Which brings me, well both Mari and I, I suppose, to ask, what is it we can do to help you?" Beat. "And also I should think of a suitable belated wedding gift. Any thoughts, Mari? I am afraid I am not very good with this sort of thing. When I was king it was usually some kind of ceremonial honor but that seems… not quite right in this case."

"I will, T'Challa. You might want to visit. The Black Panther said you might have some influence there." That might make Steve and Bucky, smirk.

"Anything you could do Steve, Mister Barnes. If you need anything, please call me. I'll be doing more distributions in there, with T'Challa, in the coming weeks." Strange there's been no publicity on that. The ex-model pours a glass of water, offering to top up others glasses as well.

"Thoughts on a wedding gift? Matched candlesticks perhaps?" She's teasing. "A kitten, maybe?" If only she knew. "I shall have to give it some thought. After all, they both have what they want, don't they?"

"We'll be in contact with you both. If you've got the dates planned for the distributions, please email them to me, Miss Mari. I can compare them to current schedulings and make room." Steve nods in confirmation of his own plan.

Still: "Oh, geez — " A lifted hand tries waving away the vein of discussion about wedding presents, but for naught. It leaves Steve pink at the ears and him trying his hardest to tamp down his embarrassed smile. "I'll defer to him on candlesticks," he says, thumbing towards Bucky.

"I'll follow his lead," Buck says, some of his equilibrium restored. Someone will be shooting at Steve, Buck will be murdering them for their temerity in bothering his husband….it'll be like when they were dating. "He makes bureaucrats roll over like trained dogs," he adds.

The question of a wedding gift has him looking almost shifty, as he glances at Steve. What can he get away with having Steve accept. "I'll think about it. We don't have a really large apartment, and I got fish, so a kitten probably wouldn't be a good idea…."

"It would have to be a very exotic cat to be fit for you and Steve. And in Wakanda there is typically only one kind of cat given to people as elevated as you two. And somehow I think the pets laws in New York would not approve…"

Panthers. Black. Panthers.

"The Black Panther mentioned me, did he? That is curious. But I am happy to use my influence in a good cause. It is, indeed, what a king does, of the living OR of the dead."

T'Challa smiles at the demurring about the gifts. "I shall give it some thought. Nothing over the top I promise. Now, in the mean time, if you all have time, why don't we order. The view here is not the only thing that is good."

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