“I think the first [female character] I’m going to talk about is actually Shuri, played by Letitia.

That character, to have a little sister, it’s not very often that you see a superhero with a little sister. So I think that is probably not going to occur to people that that, it’s not unheard of but it’s an unusual thing, so I think it brings out a different part of his character. […]

All these characters are strong. Even if it’s not a physical prowess, there is a mental prowess. It’s intelligence and savvy and so all of them present that, but the one that stands out the most actually is Shuri because of the ability, the way a little sister can poke at you and you’re protective of her but she still thinks she’s your mother, like all those different things.”  — Chadwick Boseman 

While You Sleep

Four times T’challa watched someone sleep and one time that
the tables are turned.

Absolutely un-beta’d. Spoilers for Black Panther abound. The last two snippets are set between the end
of the final fight scene and the last scene in California. They also diverge
from the end of the film.

Content warnings for character death, trauma from character
death, and implied violence.


The first time that T’challa holds his newborn sister Shuri
in his arms, he worries for a moment that he’ll drop her. Then she nuzzles close
in her sleep, tiny lips parting with a smacking yawn, and he knows that he’d
never hurt her. Not even on accident.

She’s hours old and so very small, warm and soft in the
cradle of his elbow, her dark little face tucked up against his chest. She
barely has any hair atop her head aside from a faint whisper of black hair that
is pitch black and feather light against the dark brown of her skin.

So new and so small.

Already, T’challa loves her more than he thinks he’ll ever
love anyone else in Wakanda.

“Baba,” T’challa says, unable to pull his gaze away from
Shuri’s sweet face, “I can hardly believe that I was ever this small.” He dares
to brush his thumb against the curve of his little sister’s plump cheek,
stroking the soft skin as light as he can lest he wake her.

All Shuri does is snuffle a little, nose and mouth wrinkling
as she turns away from that touch.

“She’s perfect.”

The sound of his father’s low laughter makes T’challa laugh
in turn, as does his next words.

“I felt the same way about you the first time I held you,” T’chaka
says, his deep voice warm with a rich amusement. “Five minutes later, you spit
up all over my clothes.”

T’challa feels a grin tug at the corners of his mouth, “And
what did you think of me after that?”

“You were still perfect,” T’chaka says. “Just like Shuri is.”


The night before his father is supposed to speak in favor of
the Sokovia Accords, T’challa finds himself unable to sleep.

He plans to wander through their hotel suite like a silent
shadow, trying not to wake Ayo and the other sleeping Dora Milaje who were
relieved of their duty mere hours before. Okoye, his dearest friend and closest
confidant, greets him with a nod when he steps into the hallway that connects
his room with the rest of the suite.

“Your father fell asleep in front of the television,” Okoye
says, gesturing at the half-closed door behind her. If T’challa focuses, he can
hear the faint sounds of his father’s snoring against the conversation coming
from the television. The news, he thinks to himself. It’s enough to put anyone
to sleep.

“I think I will go
sit with him,” he says, his own voice low. “I can keep watch so that you may

The sharp, almost scolding look Okoye gives T’challa makes
him grin.

“Don’t wake him,” Okoye warns, “You know how he gets when
someone wakes him up in the middle of the night.”

T’challa inclines his head to show that he understands. “I’ll
be as quiet as a mouse, I promise.”


Dressed in lounging clothes and half-covered with a blanket
from W’kabi’s aunt in the border tribe, T’chaka sleeps half slumped with his
head resting on one arm of the couch. His snoring sounds so much louder to T’challa
than it had only moments before, and T’challa smiles at the reminder that his
father is only human.

Not just a king.

In sleep, T’chaka looks… his age.

He looks like T’challa’s father.

He looks like the man that would read stories about Wakanda’s
past first to him and then to Shuri when they were small. His vulnerable
posture reminds T’challa of how he’d creep into his parents’ rooms as a child,
hoping to catch his father in the middle of a rare nap.

T’challa takes a chair off to the side of the big couch, one
within arms’ reach of the remote.

Perhaps, like it did in his childhood, maybe the sound of
his father’s heavy breathing will lull him to sleep.


Nakia has had the same nightmare once a night for the past
three nights – ever since she returned from an assignment in Cairo that she largely
refuses to talk about with T’challa.

Tonight, is the fourth time.

The first night, when Nakia had begun to struggle in her
sleep against the blankets, T’challa had touched her shoulder to wake her the
same way he’d done many a time before. Instead of drowsily coming to full wakefulness
and bestowing upon him a lovely, if dazed smile, Nakia had bolted up with a
shriek loud enough to make the hairs on the back of his neck rise and the
guards at his door burst in.

It’d taken a few moments to clear things up and send the
guards away, but in the moments afterwards, Nakia had shivered against the
warmth of his embrace and haltingly told him of the thing that haunted her
dreams. The loss that still weighs down her heart.

The child she couldn’t save.

When the soft sounds that herald the start of her nightmare
begin again, T’challa’s fingers clench into a fist in order to stop himself from
touching the curve of one bare brown shoulder. All he wants to do is wake her,
comfort her. Love her.

But he knows better than to shake her awake.

Instead, T’challa decides to talk to his sleeping love, to
tell her a story from their childhood the way he’s done for several nights of
her fitful sleep.

“When the Earth was new and Bast was yet a cub…”


Erik will hate him when he wakes up, T’challa tells himself
as he watches the other man’s body – corpse-still aside from the faint rise and
fall of his chest – rest in one of the gurneys in Shuri’s lab. He’ll hate that
T’challa gave him a second chance that he didn’t
even ask for
and perhaps they’ll never be friends.

But they’re family.

And T’challa refuses to lose any more of his family.


“Let him sleep.”

At the sound of their mother Ramonda’s voice, Shuri pauses
with one hand hovering mere inches away from the top of her brother’s head. She’d
just been planning to nudge him a little, to wake him so that he could sleep somewhere
comfortable rather than at the desk in his office.

“Mama –”

Their mother shakes her head. “T’challa needs his rest,” Ramonda
says, giving her sleeping son a close look over that is tinged with a soft
sadness. “Look at my poor son, so tired that he hasn’t even woken up despite
our presence.”

“The Heart-Shaped Herb healed all of his wounds from the battle,
but the only cure for exhaustion is rest,” Ramonda whispers. “Come, I’ll send
Nakia in to wake him in a while.”

Shuri hesitates, still so close to waking her brother just
because she can. Part of her needs
see her brother open his eyes even if it’s just to glare at her. The past few
days have been… trying for them all and Shuri still finds herself jolting to a
stop in the remains of her lab as thoughts of death – hers, his, Baba’s – flash in her mind.

She knows that T’challa is only sleeping, that he’ll wake up
at any moment and playfully scold her for wearing her lab coat into his office
but –

When T’challa and the others had brought his body back to
Wakanda, Baba had looked as if he were only sleeping too.

“If anything I think Shuri would be an older sibling for Bucky. She is smart and mature, and Bucky is…Bucky.”

Hey, how about y’all don’t make a sixteen year old Black girl into a mammy figure for a grown ass white dude?

Because that’s what comments like this do (and this was an actual comment left on a post about why writing Bucky as a brother figure to Shuri is weird and a little messed up considering the fact that she has an actual brother and is comfortable/friendly with Nakia and Okoye).

Fun fact:

It’s racist to say that Shuri is so “smart and mature” that her teenaged self would be an older sibling to a man chronologically several times her age AND it’s ableist to infantilize Bucky for having been traumatized and brainwashed over the decades.

He needed help to make sure that he wasn’t going to be a danger thanks to Hydra codewords, but that doesn’t mean that he suddenly stopped being a grown ass adult that no teenager – but especially a Black one – has any business taking care of in any capacity.

Y’all out here wanting Shuri to build tech for every white hero under the sun (despite not appearing to like the character since she’s smarter than Tony – we’ve seen the “subtle” character hate, y’all) but now that the movie is out, we have to deal with the fact that y’all also want her to mammy the fuck out of these people too?