Nat was about to drink her cosmo when she saw Darcy coming back up the stairs with Jane and a red head she knew only from her file; Maia Tomson. Her lips slid into a smirk, watching Darcy already talking the ear off the new girl. Following through with her drink Nat sat up, leaning forward to put her glass on the table.
‘You have to be Maia.’ She said warmly, patting the couch beside her.
‘That’s me.’ Maia tried not to let her nerves at meeting the infamous Black Widow show as she took the seat she was offered.
‘Nat, and I see you already know Jane and Darcy.’
‘Just.’ Maia nodded.
‘Okay, we all know each other now.’
Darcy dropped down on Nat’s other side. ‘Us girls have to stick together, right, Janey?’
‘Darcy, no.’ Jane said firmly as she took a seat beside Maia.
‘Come on, all I want to know is; true or false; Asgardian on the streets, giant in the sheets?’
‘Oh boy.’ Maia went wide eyed as Nat chuckled.
‘Baptism of fire, Darcy?’ She teased the younger woman before turning back to Maia. ‘You don’t have to answer that, but how you’ve got Loki to behave so quickly, that’s a story I’d love to hear.’
‘But, Nat!’ Darcy whined. ‘Look at her! It’s like Beauty and the Beast! 10 Things I Hate About You, backwards! King Kong, with less monkey!’
‘Much less monkey.’ Maia laughed at Darcy’s comparisons.
‘But not less monkey biz niz.’ She said with a wiggle of her eyebrows.
‘God, Darcy.’ Jane shook her head.
‘What? The public, aka me, wants to know! And does it count as fraternising or is that a get out with The Avengers? I mean, you fraternised a bit with Bruce? Right? And Jane, you fraternise with Thor like all the time, loudly.’
Nat looked at Maia who was trying not to laugh behind her hand. ‘We love Darcy, but she has zero verbal filter.’
Half an hour later they had been joined by Maria Hill and Wanda Maximoff, and Maia was completely at ease, listening to and sharing stories. As curious, or in Darcy’s case overly curious, as they had started out they just seemed to want to include her and welcome her into the extended Avengers family.
‘Oh, oh! Here he comes!’ Darcy repeatedly slapped Wanda’s arm to get her undivided attention as she spotted Loki coming up the stairs, followed by Thor. ‘He’s going to say something Shakespearean! Wait for it!’
He stopped at the corner between two couches and glanced around the group as he spoke. ‘Ladies, if you have finished corrupting my companion, she owes me a dance.’
‘You promised me a dancing lesson before I had to do this.’ Maia reminded him but got to her feet all the same and he held a hand out to her.
‘Just remember my advice.’
‘How could I forget?’ She took his hand, turning back as she went. ‘It was great meeting you all.’
‘Don’t forget, girls night, Tuesday!’ Nat reminded her.
‘A girls night?’ Loki asked as he led her back to the stairs. An area of the floor below had been cleared as a makeshift dance floor.
‘Yep. Should be interesting.’
‘What exactly happens on a girls night?’
‘Depends on the group, but standard fair is giggling and drinking.’
He gave her a confused look. ‘And you would enjoy this?’
‘It’s nice to cut loose every now and then with the girls, put the world to rights. I’m honoured they included me. They seem nice.’
‘They are not the nicest of whom I have ever met, however they are polite enough.’
‘Can you say anything nicer about them?’ She looked up at him as they walked. ‘Individually rather than just a generalisation?’
‘Very well.’ He sighed. ‘Darcy, while as exuberant as a puppy, hides a sharp mind behind her pop culture and runaway mouth. Natasha is very astute and frighteningly good at what she does. Wanda’s abilities are astounding and yet she remains a sweet girl. Hill goes between her professional and personal façades easily and works both well, and Jane, who is perhaps the most intelligent woman I have ever met, achieved the impossible and taught my brother humility. Is that an improvement?’
‘Much.’ She stopped as he took the last step down, making their heights much more even, pulling his hand to make him turn and face her. ‘It shows that you’re very observant and capable of emotions with more than just me.’
He narrowed his eyes at her as his lips curved in the start of a smile. ‘But those I feel for you overshadow anything I have for who I am forced to serve with and under. Why should I waste such pretty pleasantries on them when you are far more worthy of my attention?’
‘Thor was right about you and your silvertongue.’ She reached up and brushed the hair back from his temple.
‘And words are not all it is accomplished at.’ He leant forward and took her lips in a soft kiss, his tongue grazing them in the faintest of touches as her eyes closed, her fingers carding into his hair.
‘PDA alert!’ They parted at Darcy’s yell from the floor above. Loki glared up at their audience as Maia blushed and ducked her head.
‘I think it’s sweet.’ Jane said as Loki pulled Maia towards him, tucking her head against his neck.
‘I think if you have nothing better to do than watch us your own lives must be sorely lacking.’ Loki called at them and Maia quietly laughed, the movement brushing her lips against Loki’s neck. His breath caught and it was such a strong reaction to a small motion it was empowering, and as Nat called something to Loki, Maia used the fact Loki’s body and her hair had her shielded to give Loki’s neck a nip with her teeth.
If Loki had thought the feel of Maia’s lips on his neck was a turn on he was flat out done by her teeth nibbling at his flesh. His arm around her tightened, pulling her flush against him until she could have no doubt how she had effected him, and he turned, lifting her off the step and around as he called; ‘I am afraid I must bid you all farewell, as my lady desires to dance.’
Once her feet touched the floor Loki’s arm around her encouraged her rapidly onto the dance floor, turning her body towards his as he stepped into her, pulling her close once more and taking her hand as though it were all one long dance move, then leading her much slower than the beat of the song, but still in time.
‘You are quite the temptress.’
‘I did something to tempt you?’ She looked up at him with wide, innocent eyes.
‘You are trying to lie to me?’ He laughed. ‘The God of Mischief and Lies?’
‘Actually I was going for exaggerated innocence.’
‘How far your innocence goes, I have yet to determine, but if that display is anything to go by you may already be corrupted enough there is little for me to do.’
‘I bet you can think of something.’
‘I am already thinking of several somethings.’ His voice was low and impossibly intimate in such close quarters and she bit her bottom lip as heat flooded her. He hummed a small laugh and lower his lips to kiss her forehead. ‘The bite of the bottom lip, and the fact I can make you flush so readily, starts suspicion in me that some innocence remains intact.’
‘I’m a blusher, so sue me.’ She shrugged.
‘Why would I press charges when there are…’
‘I swear if you say other things you‘d rather press against me I will go and ask Tony to dance myself.’
He frowned curiously at her. ‘Am I embarrassing you further?’
‘You’re embarrassing yourself. You don’t get to call yourself silvertongue if all you’re doing is dropping double entendres.’
‘You wish for me to unleash my silvertongue upon you?’ He quirked his head to one side. ‘Very well, but I must warn you, as guest of honour you cannot leave your party so soon, no matter how my words effect you.’
‘You have no idea, my sweet.’ He raised his hand and twirled her before pulling her back into his arms. ‘Hmm, where shall I begin? Your milky skin floods with heat, the darker shade making me desire to follow its path, wherever it leads me, peppering kisses over every individual freckle until the fairies that dusted them upon you themselves know my name. I would see your hair contrast against my sheets, draped upon my pillows as I learn every inch of your body, what noises I can coax from you with not only my hands, but this silvertongue of mine? Do you taste as good as you look? You are already like perfumed sugar on my tongue and I cannot wait…’
‘Okay, enough! You can keep the title!’ She dropped her forehead onto his chest, his words having caused another kind of heat inside her.
‘But I have just begun.’ He whispered into her hair.
‘No, no. You’re done, at least while we’re in public.’ She looked up at his smug yet pleasant expression, her face almost as red as her hair.
‘Very well. I shall succumb to your desire for this night, and soon enough you shall succumb to mine.’
‘Oh my God.’
She slapped his arm lightly. ‘Loki, please!’
‘Say that again, fair girl.’ He gave her a grin that just seemed to scream mischief.
‘We did this already.’ She reminded him.
‘But your pleas are like music to my ears.’ He replied as Maia glanced over his shoulder a moment before Thor tapped it.
‘Brother, may I cut in?’
‘No.’ Loki said simply.
‘You know how this works.’ Thor gave him a knowing look and Loki sighed, stepping back from Maia before kissing her hand and giving it to Thor.
‘I shall not stray far, love.’ Loki assured her as he left.
‘You must forgive my brother.’ Thor said once Loki was off the dance floor. ‘He can be somewhat immodest, once something has caught his favour.’
‘You’ve seen him like this before, I imagine?’ Maia hadn’t even considered Loki may have been something of a Lothario and she were just another notch in his royal bedpost. She always had been too naïve, but it had just felt so right with Loki.
‘Just once, that is with one individual. By all accounts when my brother falls he falls hard, not stopping until he gets what he wants.’ Thor smiled fondly at the memory of his brother so happy.
‘And when he’s got it?’
‘Lady Maia, I meant not to cast doubt in your mind.’ Thor realised his mistake at her worried expression. ‘Loki is true to his heart, and you seem to have captured his in a way it has not been for a good many years. Rest assured, he does not consider you a mere dalliance.’
‘That’s both reassuring and astounding, at the same time.’
She glanced down then up again before she answered. ‘I really like Loki, there’s something about him that calls to me, but I don’t really know him and I couldn’t be sure I wasn’t just convenient, despite his reassurances.’
‘You are far from it. Do you believe in fate?’
‘Like everything happens for a reason?’
‘Exactly like that. I believe you and Loki were supposed to meet, supposed to feel for one another what you do. Our entire future may not be mapped out in advance but I do not believe this was by chance.’
Maia laughed, but it was an unamused sound, as all the doubts she had been feeling surfaced at once. ‘I don’t know what to think. We’ve known each other days, but I feel like I’ve known him forever, like I’ve just been waiting for him to spot me. When it comes to it though he’s immortal, I’m human. Even if it’s meant to be…’
‘Think not too far into the future, enjoy the now, Lady Maia. I would not change what Jane and I have, and you should cherish what the two of you have. I fully support Loki’s choice in you, and the two of you together. You have returned a part of my brother I thought lost to us, and would be proud to call you sister.’
Maia couldn’t stop the smile that spread on her lips. ‘Thank you.’
‘Thank me not. Keeping my brother happy is thanks enough. Incidentally he is pacing beside the dance floor, while Stark seems to be making his way towards us.’
‘He wanted first dance with me.’
‘Guest of honour and the host, it is not uncommon.’ Thor nodded. ‘Would you like to avoid him and I take you back to Loki?’
‘I think Stark will ask even though Loki has threatened to throw him out of the tower if he tries it.’
Thor laughed heartily and several heads turned at the sound. ‘Once my brother has what he wants he is selfish to the point of possessive. Not in a bad way, but you are aware he said you belong to one another. He takes his loyalty and protection very seriously. You will never find a man truer than he. Take your dance with Stark, I shall distract Loki by having him fetch you refreshments.’
‘Thanks, Thor. For everything you said, and for trying to distract him long enough for him not to kill Tony.’
‘You are welcome, sister.’ He stepped back and bowed, kissing her hand before turning to greet Stark. ‘Anthony, be nice or I shall throw you from the tower myself.’
Tony pulled a face as Thor walked away while Maia laughed. 'Is Stark throwing a new Asgardian sport?'
'Funny, you'd think Steve would want to join in.'
He turned an unamused smile on her at her reply. 'It's throwing, not ultimate frisbee.'
'Sounds like you're already writing the rule book though.' She joked as he offered her his hand.
'I don't recognise it as a sport, so no rule book.'
'You need to set some or they'll make them up as they go along.'
'Can we stop talking about throwing me off buildings?'
'Depends on what you want to talk about instead.' She narrowed her eyes at him.
'I'm going to assume you don't want me prying into what you and Chaos have going on, so let's go with your powers.'
'You've seen what they can do and what they do to me. There's not much else to tell.' She lied, knowing it was just the tip of the iceberg.
'Actually, didn't see it, I was too busy obeying your request not to flip you out of the car and not crash. So, you tell me what I only caught glimpses of in the rear view mirror.'
She sighed. She probably didn't have much of a choice now, as Fury had asked too. 'The power I put out, I made it out of light, because what's darkness' polar opposite?'
'Wait,' he stopped their dancing and stared at her uncertainly, 'you chose to make it of light?'
'We don't look inconspicuous at all standing still on a dance floor.' She pointed out.
'You talk to me, Miss Scarlet, and I'll dance.'
'Fine.' She rolled her eyes. 'I chose light. I can also do cold, air, flames, heat and raw energy.'
He started moving them again. 'Who else knows this?'
'Charles, and a few of the other higher up X-Men. Advertising I'm a walking bomb who can't fight back once her powers are loosed isn't recommended.'
'It would make you a target, which is why the low profile as a teacher.'
'I am a teacher, Tony. I went to college and qualified because that's what I wanted to do. Having a foot in the door at Xavier's was a bonus.'
'Mischief doesn't know?'
'Not yet, but he will. I guess everyone will once we start my training.' She said and he realised how much it worried her.
'I'll speak to Hill, keep it on a need to know basis.'
'Thanks, Tony, I appreciate it.'
'Any time. Can I ask you one more question?'
'Because you need permission now?'
'Fair point. Where does it come from? I mean where does it come out of? This was out of the top of you, right?'
'I can direct it pretty much where I want.' She realised what he was getting at. 'Mostly we used to use my hands, occasionally full body but directional, always with the same result.'
'Shame. Steve was right, you'd be good on the team. Maybe Prancer can work miracles and get you some control.'
'All the same, I won't hold my breath.'
'No, don't do that. Red is your colour, not blue.'
She laughed. She may have had reservations about working so close to Stark but he was proving he wasn't so bad after all.