"How did it go?" Aneka asked as she rubbed her fingertips against the Ayo's temples. For as long as Aneka had known Ayo, the day's load always found a way to tax her mind. Prince—no, King, he was the leader now—T'challa had only taken one of the Dore Milaje to his excursion in America. Ayo was the lucky person. While the Dora Milaje had sworn to protect the Wakandan royal line with all of their strength, that did not stop Aneka from worrying. So when King T'challa had relieved them both of their guarding duties for the evening, the first thing Aneka did was grab Ayo' had, and lead her into their own private chambers.

"It went as to be expected," Aneka said. "I did not allow anyone to come near our king, I kept a close eye on all blindspots, just as we were trained, and-"

Aneka wrapped her arms around Ayo's frame, and felt her heartbeat quicken. Ayo, who was so accustomed to the blunt end of a spear against her chest, and yet flinched when wrapped in the arms of a lover. "No. What I meant was, how did it go for you." As the personal guards for the Black Panther, the Dora Milaje were expected to place king and country above all else. But that had never been the case for Aneka, at least, not when it came to Ayo.

Where Ayo cared about the protection of the king, Aneka was more concerned with the cuts and bruises on Ayo's arms.

"You work too hard, my love." Aneka skimmed her fingertips along the slope of Ayo's neck, it was a graceful as the forests after the rain storm. Ayo smelled of honey suckle, and heaved breath. Simple, and serene. "You must," Aneka paused, and kissed the nape of Ayo's neck, "Learn to take time to give mind to needs besides our king." The sounds of the room, the rustle of the baobab leaves, the feeling of warm sheets wrapped around legs during a rain storm. All things Ayo lived for, and lived to share with Aneka.

"Do you remember when we had to shave our heads?" Aneka asked with a smile.

Ayo laughed, "Yes. It was tradition for the Dore Milaje to shave their hair to keep it from being pulled in the heat of battle. Like Okoye said, 'Our duty is to our king." Ayo puffed her chest out proudly.

"Ah, but that did not stop you from crying after it was all gone. I trust you remember that?"

How could Ayo not?

"And you cried." Aneka wrapped her arms around Ayo's frame, "And I held you…just like this." And Aneka kissed Ayo's chest, glistening in the lazy light of their room, "And then I pressed my head against you, and I felt your heartbeat." And Aneka's hands were warm, and seemed to fade into Ayo's bruises like aloe into a rash.

"Yes…" Ayo recalled, "I remember I was upset because…I wanted to be beautiful for you." This was a secret the two shared, no one else knew. Not the Dora Milaje, not Okoye, not T'challa. Of course, their relationship was not in any way forbidden (Wakanda was not like the backwards west with their ideas on same sex relationships) but that did not mean they wanted the entire country to know. They were Dora Milaje, after all. "I wanted to-"

"Shhh," Aneka shushed, "You are beautiful, and you are more beautiful to me now, than ever." She kissed Ayo's neck, the bruises that had rubbed themselves into her beautiful black skin, the majesty of her full lips. The strength of her convictions. "You. Are. So. Beautiful."

Aneka slowly pushed them both down onto the Wakandan sheets, two bodies entangled in something that was beyond words. Something intimate and ancient. Something shared between two lovers, as the rain silently sang.