There Are Two of Them

March 23, 2018:

Phil Coulson plays diplomatic attache for the day. Shuri and Tony Stark meet. Tensions rise.

JFK, New York

It's a big ole airport.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Emma Frost, T'Challa


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It's not every day that royalty visits New York.

Actually, that's probably not true. Plenty of very rich people live there, and all manner of princes and such probably make their way through the city on the regular. Perhaps it's more correct to say that the sister of Wakanda's king does not land at JFK every day. Yes, there are less crowded airports she could have chosen. It seems she chose not to.

Shuri has not dressed precisely like an American today: a vivid orange vest of some kind rides over a pale sheath the color of a raincloud, set off below by vividly patterned green leggings and a belt woven of many colors. Gold links create a crown that drapes over her head and stays by mean of a third strand crossing from her brow to the back of her skull, and red feathers hang at either temple. Her boots are silver and black, rise to just below her knees, and look a bit like they came from Star Trek. Two parallel lines of white cross just below either cheekbone. The look is completed by a large pair of sunglasses with gold and orange frames.

Definitely not an American look. Only just this side of an Earth look.

She also does not seem to have chosen to pack lightly. At least half a dozen attendants follow her with stacks of trunks and crates and such; it looks like she's definitely moving in, at least for a while. And because of that whole diplomatic immunity thing, whatever she has in them is nobody's business.

Shuri strides through the doors into the arrival lobby for private jets. Surely her American handler will be here somewhere. She wonders idly which of the secret government agencies she belongs to as she adjusts the colorful bangles on her right wrist.

And there he is, just sort of stepping out of nowhere. The man looks like nobody. Like any businessperson on the planet. Like an accountant. Even in his nicest, most tailored, bespoke suit. Minus the tie, as always. Bulletproof, as always.

And yet he falls into step beside Shuri with an easygoing air, like he belongs there. "Princess," he greets in a low murmur. "I'm Agent Phil Coulson of SHIELD. I'm here today as a favor to the United States Department of State; it seems your original liason has taken ill and they did not have a replacement on short notice. I hope you'll forgive the sudden shift in plans. Or the lack of an actual diplomat. But I'll help you get settled in and get what you need while you're here, and am at your disposal."

He gives her the same non-threatening, avuncular smile that he gives anyone, already holding out his ID so she can check his credentials and his story.

A week ago: Tony Stark found out Phil Coulson was likely mad at him for going to Genosha.

Four days ago: Tony Stark expected to be yelled at.

A day ago: Tony Stark is wondering just why he hasn't been yelled at.


Which of course set off JARVIS tracking Phil. Who…actually happened to be doing something in public for once. Which of course means that Stark could track him. Which brings us to right now…

…as a familiar jet is landing in the more exclusive and private area of the airport.

And a soft voice in Phil's ear. "…er…sir? I…think Mister Stark's plane just landed here." Backup. Phil usually has it. "…should we delay him?"

He looks so much like nobody that Shuri initially walks straight past Coulson, which is probably not that surprising to him. She observes him with a raised eyebrow and glances back only briefly at one of her attendants.

The attendant doesn't even need an order: the tall, quite burly young man reaches out and gently plucks the credentials from Coulson's hand. He must be scraping at least half a foot above six feet, but despite his eyewatering height and muscles for miles, there is also a glint of true intelligence in his eyes. The cortege stops as this gentleman pulls out a phone to contact the consulate to make certain of Coulson's story.

"Agent Coulson of SHIELD?" Shuri replies, turning toward him with a bright smile. "Thank you for your welcome. I trust my expected contact, Mr. Crippen, is not gravely ill? So many unexpected tragedies have befallen Wakandans and their friends in the last few months." One might think someone had a grudge.

"As best as we can tell, Mr. Crippen just forgot his flu shot," Coulson says, patiently waiting while his credentials are checked. "But we're keeping an eye on the situation."

Tragedy is striking everywhere of late.

He gets the message in his ear and lifts an eyebrow. "No, a stall will just increase the mania," he murmurs into his bluetooth. "Just let him through."

He clears his throat, and adds to Shuri, "It seems Mr. Tony Stark may be on his way to intercept you, or me, or both. He's…colorful, but perhaps the two of you will have interests in common. If he starts to bother you, though, we'll whisk you out of here." It's the best he can do to manage the situation. If he tells this Agent to stall what's going to happen is Tony is going to parachute in or something just as they hit the car, potentially with a hastily assembled brass band playing as they parachute in along with him, and really it's just easier to let him do his thing.

Colorful. Yes that is one way to say something about Tony Stark.

This case is borne out as his plane comes to a stop and not three seconds later the ladder is deployed, sliding out of the fusalage at an angle where no ladder /should/ be able to fit.

Then down the ramp he goes, wearing his traditional 'not dressed up at all' outfit. Jeans. T-shirt. Sunglasses. Million dollar smile and that perfectly trimmed beard of his.

At his shoulder floats a little round ball of a drone, bearing the scars that mark his battered casing with pride.

Ace thinks they are battle scars ok.

So he whistles his way towards the concourse, intent on a confrontation with his nemisis. Phil Coulson.

…a confrontation he will forget about about five seconds from saying hi.

The massive gentleman finishes with his phone call in under a minute, glancing at Coulson's identification and confirming a few things with his embassy counterpart. The rest of Shuri's retinue, meanwhile, is continuing out to start loading up the waiting vehicle. Nobody around here seems to need to be given orders: her staff is impeccably trained, it seems.

This means Shuri can give all her attention to her unexpected new handler. "I will send him some chicken soup, then." One can wonder what's in Wakandan chicken soup. Probably not the same stuff they put in Campbell's. "I have heard a great deal about your organization, Agent Coulson. Very… proactive. Very effective." But then she's listening to Phil muttering into his earpiece and regards him quizzically.

"Tony Stark?" She hadn't expected to see him THIS quickly upon entering the country. …She'd actually been keeping half an eye on him with means best left unspecified, but she was planning on doing more reconaissance before she — oh, dear…

Turning around, because it's hard to miss a man whose ego extends a hundred yards from his actual body, Shuri folds her arms and looks him up and down with a bright smile. "Many interests in common, I assure you. I am Wakanda's science minister, after all." She raises her voice, then, to call to him: "Tony Stark! I believe my brother kicked you! I am glad to see you are feeling better!"

Shuri: walking international incident.

If Shuri were with a diplomat, he might be horrified.

Instead, she is with Phil.

Who sees Tony doing his Imperial (Industries?) March towards him. And lifts his eyebrows. What bee is in the bonnet of the Iron Man?

But then Shuri is calling such things, and his eyebrows lift into his ever-receeding hairline. His concern is not international incidents. Not by a long shot.


"My god," he murmurs. "There are two of them."

Maybe it's Phil that's about to cause the incident. That wasn't his inside-the-head voice, after all.

You know there are dozens of things that Tony was going to say to Phil. Quips and comments he just had loaded up. Ready to use. Primed…and then he notes Shuri there. Notes the entrauge. Notes the precise nature, the obvious bodyguard, he notes all this in just a moment…

And then she calls out a greeting.

His eyes flicker towards her, JARVIS whispers sweet information in his ear. And he looses all inntrest in confronting Phil.

"Yeah well, did he tell you he was wearing jasmine perfume at the time? And that he broke in. And kicked me when I was trying to be nice?"

A beatpause as he leans back on one foot, hands in his pockets and smirks slightly. "Also hi Phil."

"My darling brother can defend himself. He's known for it, in fact. I also have nothing to say about my brother's regular bathing except that I support it." Especially because of the way he smelled as a teenager. For the sake of T'Challa's majesty, she does not tell the story of the way she finally had to burn his favorite shirt in protest against his wearing it again. She does not tell, either, about the many bright colors the fire turned or how the mosquitos never returned to that valley.

She turns to Phil then, adding: "You two know each other, I take it? Good friends?" To Stark again: "I would like to find a time to speak with you soon. I think you and yours could help with a project here in your country. Even in Wakanda we are aware of your technological achievements in particular. But I expect our Agent Coulson has a schedule for me."

"Hello, Tony," Phil says evenly. "All's well, I take it? Here to stay for awhile? In New York? Not in various places where delicate things are going on and where flying in to stomp one's bright shiny boots all over the place might scatter things all over in various headache-inducing ways? That's fantastic. We should do lunch."

Phil can't stop the snark from flowing, even if Tony has lost everything he might say. "Might I present Princess Shuri of Wakanda."

He shakes his head. "I'm afraid not, Princess," he says. "The schedule didn't make it to me. I'm simply here to," keep you safe against assassins, "help you get your needs met. If you wish to spend time at Stark Industries this afternoon, it won't get anybody's noses out of joint. All the official diplomatic appointments have been rescheduled until a real State Department person can be dispatched. I imagine there is a bit of scrambling going on as a result, but it might turn out to be a boon for you, at least."

"Stay in New York? Naw you know me. I've been thinking of taking a sightseeing trip to Latveria. I've heard Doom's castle is nice this time of year and he /so/ deserves a few holes blown in it." Stark snarks right back towards the agent with a flash of a grin. "I mean really if you didn't have me to keep your life exciting what would you do Phil?"

Take a vacation most likely. Be able to sleep for more than an hour at a time.

So many things.

"Oh yeah, great friends. We share mai tai recipies." Stark drawls before he looks back towards Coulson and pauses a moment. "You know I'm standing right here. Don't I get a say in who gets to come to my house?" A longer pause. "I mean she's invited." A glance at Shuri now. "Cause if I say she's not her brother might break in and knock my experiments off my shelves."

I know cat humor is a low bar, but sometimes you just gotta go with it.

"Suddenly I am so very grateful for the well-protected airspace above my own country. Our palace has enough windows and skylights." Shuri's smile is bright and even rather merry. It remains in her eyes when Tony implies that she might NOT be invited wherever she goes, and the affront is Totally Genuine. Totally.

"Do you know," she says, "there is a Kenyan pundit who declared that I am a lesser inventor than you, presumably because the use of vibranium is… cheating? I have always thought that this argument was somewhat akin to suggesting that the wielders of Bronze Age weapons were being unfair to those who had nothing but stone. Would you care to show me otherwise, Mister Stark? I have heard that you are a consummate engineer." Beat. "As defined by the United States, at any rate."

She turns to Phil then: "I am pleased to let the diplomatic meetings wait. I'd like to see a little of this city. I wonder if Tony Stark would be interested in knowing the name my brother gave New York."

To Tony's token protest, Phil's Cheshire Cat smile only quirks with amusement.

As if.

As if Tony Stark would turn down some sort of engineer's jam session with the Princess of Wakanda. He just lifts an eyebrow as Tony makes out like he might refuse. Those lips only quirk all the more when Shuri issues her challenge as she does. She says she'd be pleased to see the city, and that means getting out of the airport either way. Glancing at the bespectacled girl playing with her phone behind Shuri for reasons known only to him, he extends a hand in a, 'if it pleases you, follow me,' sort of gesture.

Offhandedly, he also offers a folded, sealed piece of paper to Tony. Sealed in the old style, with a wax seal. The wax seal is just a generic red blob. No pattern.

"Real quick. If I don't reclaim that in about twenty days would you be so kind as to pass that on to Emma for me?"

Like it's nothing at all.

Look. He's Tony has to at least put up the pretence of being mad about it. He has a reputation of a mercurial inventor to uphold! You wouldn't want him to loose that! "Vibranium? Cheating?" Stark drawls. "Where could that guy of gotten some crazy idea like that."

You are bad at this Tony. Please stop.

"And your anology works, but the stone wielders could /eventually/ get their hands on the bronze. Your brother kinda makes it hard to do that. I mean all this time my dad only got enough to make one shield."

The smirk is there though before he shrugs. "Fine, come on over. You show off. I show off. We both show off." A beatpause. "And you know, I would. Like to know the nickname."

He can add it to the Reasons Why T'Challa is Kinda A Jerk list.

"We can take my plane if you want. It'll get clearance faster. Unless you wanna fight traffic that is."

But then he is handed a note and as he takes it he peers down at it. Slowly one eyebrow is raised towards Phil.

Then he leans towards Shuri to stagewhisper. "I think he's doing spystuff. He does that sometimes."

"That is perfectly reasonable. That is a very large quantity of vibranium; I have seen pictures of that shield. In structure, if not shape, it is not dissimilar to some of the early forays of my own people when we were first learning to use the metal; your father should be very proud."

Does she know what she just said? That Howard Stark ought to be honored that he matched up to her own stone-age ancestors? She's a classy dame.

And then Coulson passes along that little note, and for a moment her cheerful-yet-sassful demeanor hesitates. That's… not a normal thing to do. It's normal in the same way that Coulson himself is normal: only on its very face. She regards him for a moment, but she decides that she won't call him on this curious behavior.


"…You want to fly your plane to your tower itself? I must admit, that would be faster than taking the SUV." She turns to her little attache, the one who seems to be more interested in texting than her employer, and speaks a few words. There's a reply, and then another few words. The attache looks… piqued, but she inclines her head and strides out to the SUV. She returns only briefly later carrying a metal-sided case, which Shuri takes with a nod of approval if not thanks.

"Would you like to accompany us, Agent Coulson? Or have you seen as much of Mister Stark's collection as pleases you?"

Even Coulson's mild hazel eyes go just a little wide as Shuri throws her shade. That's some major shade, and Howard is a touchy topic for Tony.

And, weirdly protective of Tony himself, he says gently, "Cap's shield is a master work, a thing of legend, and all done without any other access to the material to study." He and Tony can throw shade all day long, but Tony's his…mumblemumble-iend-mumble. He has to step up when others start. At least. On certain fronts.

He follows Shuri's gaze and bows a little. "Forgive my rudeness, Princess. A personal matter, no more, but one that will surely slip my mind if I don't handle it now. It is both my duty and honor to accompany you both. The plane it is."

There is a specific vibe to Tony Stark. A humming energy of jovial uncaring elemental force. He goes where the wind takes him, he says what comes to his mind. He cares about nothing and no one that doesn't intrest him. He is a rich ass with not a care in the world. He makes this all look easy.

He also loves to fill the air with the sound of his own voice.

So when not only that projected vibe stop for a moment, but there is nothing but silence from a man like Tony Stark its…noteable.

Its like a record skip or a radio glitch. Obvious in its lack of noise.

"Yeah," His voice starts up slowly again. "Maybe if any of your family actually felt like sharing what you've done over the past few centuries with any of us cave men we could be more than that." The smile on his face is an easy one, bright and brittle for a moment before he reaches up to scratch the side of his nose. The energy returns. The vibe projected once again as he looks towards Phil. Smooth as glass once again. "You two know what? Maybe you should drive. You know traffic is a part of New York. Everyone should experiance it at least once in their life just so you know what its really like to hate something."

He takes a step back, slipping the message back inside his coat like it was never really there in the first place.

She went too far. Shuri takes a deep breath and closes her eyes, raising her hands in something like surrender.

She opens her eyes again and reaches out, very gently touching Tony's shoulder. "That was unworthy of me. I am truly sorry. I bantered with you like I would banter with my brother, but he has a lifetime to know when I am merely tossing words. In the most complete honesty: you are quite correct. For a very long time we have held back our technology, our culture, our material culture on the assumption that we were better than the rest of the world. I don't agree. It's one of the reasons I came to America. My intention is to strengthen the outreach centers here — we have one in Harlem, and I plan to open one in Gotham within the next few months. More people should have the opportunity to share in our wealth."

Another breath: "I am truly sorry. I am in awe of what you— and, for that matter, your father— have achieved here. The name my brother gives New York? It is the City of Stark and Rogers. You and your father and your friend, Rogers, are some of the finest ambassadors America has. You show its very best side: its ambition, drive, brilliance, and principles. It would have been more correct for me to say that in a few weeks, your father did what it took my people centuries to do. I think perhaps we are a little intimidated as to what you would do with more."

There. Shuri can be diplomatic when she tries. Dropping her hand, she extends it for a shake: "Will you forgive me, Tony Stark?"

Princess Shuri steps up to try to make amends.

Phil stands there with his hands in his pockets. This isn't his to get in the middle of. He said his piece, he offered his gentle defense, and now it's to see if Tony Stark and Shuri can mend the fence or…not. He is not, as noted, a diplomat. He is, as Tony has noted, a spy. Instead, he scans for threats, mostly as a matter of course.

Stark pauses before he can turn all the way away. He pauses so that is at least something. He's not entirely dismissing her words. He's listening. Which…lets face it…is a big step up from normal Stark. His eyes are sharp, that raw intelligence there obvious. Searching her words, listening to posture and tone as she speaks.

Then there is a snort. Repressed laughter.

"Yeah well, I blow up the city more often than save it." He finally says with a shrug. "But anyway, I like the name. The flattery is nice. So thats a thing." A pause again. "I think you'll do fine here."

He jerks his head nonchalantly towards his plane. "Fine, you've convinced me. Get in. You two mister quietspy that is up to something he doesn't want me to know about."

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