Maia blinked heavy lidded eyes open and was grateful for the low lighting. She had the funny metallic taste in the back of her throat, as she always got when she used her powers, and wasn't surprised to find herself in a hospital gown and bed. Whenever this had happened at Xavier's they had just put her into her own bed to sleep it off.
She turned her head, hoping to find a call button nearby, but instead she found Loki, seated in a chair with his head rested on his arms on the bed, fast asleep. He looked innocent like this, without his eyes to show how much he knew and had seen. His dark lashes sat upon his pale skin in a stark contrast.
From past experience Maia knew it would be late. She hadn't expected Loki to be here and it was a nice surprise. She watched him for a moment, not wanting to disturb him, but knowing sooner or later a nurse would come check on her, and the sooner she could get out of here the better.
She reached out and stroked his cheek then into his hair, softly at first then firmer as he only murmured in his sleep.
'Loki?' She whispered and he began to stir.
He took a moment to remember where he was and when he did he sat up suddenly, but Maia's fingers were still in his hair and he couldn't go far.
'Sorry.' She detangled herself and he was able to straighten fully.
‘Quite alright. Have you been awake long?' He asked.
'Just a minute or two.'
'And how are you feeling?' He leaned on the bed on his elbows.
'Tired but okay. It's actually pretty normal for me.' She smiled apologetically. 'If I thought I'd ever need to do that I'd have warned you.'
'It was somewhat unexpected. Decidedly absent from your file.' He said pointedly with a teasing edge.
'It's not why I was hired.' She smiled slightly.
‘And why were you hired?'
'Because I have the patience of a saint?' She suggested and he laughed.
'I am very glad you are well.' He said, suddenly serious again. 'Should I call for a nurse?'
'If she'll bring food, sure.'
She nodded. 'What time is it?'
She gasped. 'Which day?'
'The same day.' He frowned at her reaction.
'That's actually, wow, I don't normally wake up that soon.'
'Ah, yes. Asgard to the rescue.’ He reached into his pocket and showed her a small bottle of turquoise liquid. 'Thor brought you an elixir from our healers to aid you in the replacement of the magical energy you used.'
That touched her. He hadn't taken credit for it but she knew it had to be his doing. 'Thank you.' She smiled warmly.
He shrugged. 'Thor is the one who brought it.' He reminded her nonchalantly.
'But I doubt he even knew who I was, and why would he? Thank you, Loki. I know you’d be the one who asked.'
'It was nothing.' He waved her thanks away as he put the bottle back in his pocket. 'But with a little guidance you could control that which lives inside you, instead of being at its whim.
She shook her head. 'I've tried for years. It's all or nothing.' She remembered something that seemed like a dream and frowned at him. 'Did you eat my lunch?'
He laughed. 'I did threaten to do so, if you did not wake. Would you like me to fetch it?'
'I shall arrange your lunch and a member of staff to come and check upon you.' He raised her hand and kissed it before going to the door.
While he was gone Maia cleaned up in the bathroom and arranged the bed so she could sit up, making sure she was quick so the nurses couldn't complain about her being up unsupervised. She knew from experience she was fine and would be even better for eating. She was back under the covers when a nurse came in wheeling a blood pressure monitor. After all the tests came back within normal ranges she was told she could leave once they had taken some blood to test and she had eaten. She knew the bloods wouldn't show anything anyway, they never did.
Loki came back with her lunch and while she ate he told her Stark had come to check on her.
'I bet he's delighted.' She commented between bites.
'Because he knows your secret?' Loki asked. He had also brought back drinks and his sat in his hand, as yet untouched. She nodded. 'What he knows barely scratches the surface as, I suspect, does what you know. He has already concocted a new name for you.'
'What do you mean?' She frowned.
'I mean, for whatever reason, Squirrel is no longer appropriate. You are now Cherry Bomb, I believe.'
'That's not what I meant but, Cherry Bomb?' She said in surprised disappointment.
'I assume as you are red and explosive.' He took the end of her hair between his fingers and let it trail through them. It was even softer than he imagined.
'God, that's worse than Squirrel.' She rubbed her forehead with her hand.
'I have to agree with him, it is appropriate. And rather than delighted he was concerned for your welfare.'
'Which means I have to thank him. Not that it's a big deal, really.'
'No, but he is likely to ask something in return.'
'I'll deal with it. What were we talking about before that? I feel like we didn't finish.'
'About your abilities?' He suggested.
'Yes, that was it. You said something about not knowing what I can do? What did you mean?'
'I mean you only know how to give it your all. With assistance you could learn to release it in more manageable quantities and therefore control it.'
'I have tried, with the best of the best. We could never figure out how I could control it.' She argued. 'It's like my body can't handle it and needs to reboot.'
'Which it will, with such a strong expulsion, but you have never been schooled by me.'
'I'm a mutant, Loki.' She laughed slightly. 'Whereas you're an Asgardian. That's two different things.'
'It really isn't.' He turned his hand over itself and called what power remained within him, creating a miniature replica of them in Stark's car, Maia standing protectively over him. 'I have not said so yet, but thank you. I do not doubt that your actions saved me from whatever that thing had planned.'
'It felt...hot.' She said, carefully, then looked up at him. 'It was like being in a furnace.'
Loki gave a raised eyebrow. The fact it held heat gave him an avenue to explore with regard to who may be responsible. 'Did you feel anything else from it?'
She physically shivered at the memory and he automatically took her hand. 'Evil, threatening. It was like someone had harnessed sheer dread and despair.'
He nodded, knowing the feeling all too well. 'When you unleashed your power, what I felt from you was not dissimilar to the magic I wield, which makes me think you too could harness it in such a way.'
'How can we though? Once I open up to them it's like they all just fall out in one go.'
He thought for a moment. 'If I could access the full range of my power I could show you, however no amount of convincing will have them remove this.' He held up their joined hands.
She sighed. She wasn't sure if it would work but he seemed to want to help. 'It's a shame there isn't somewhere secure we could use so you could remove it for a while.'
Loki suddenly raised her hand and kissed her palm. 'You are a genius.' He said before he got to his feet. 'Do not leave without me.' He called as he left the room, leaving Maia wondering exactly what she had said.