Maia awoke warm, comfortable and amidst dark silk sheets. There was a single lamp lit on a desk near the window close to where Loki sat in an armchair reading. She didn’t know the room but it had hints of him about it so she had to assume it was his. She rubbed her eyes sleepily before pushing herself to sit up.
‘Go slowly, dear heart.’ Loki was on his feet in an instant and by her side, helping her up and positioning pillows so she was comfortable.
‘How do you feel?’ He sat beside her hip, examining her carefully in the low light.
‘Still pretty tired.’ She admitted. ‘How long was I out this time?’
‘Almost four hours. I was able to use my magic to aid your recovery before the cuff was reactivated, and administered the elixir.’
‘That’s probably why I’m awake so soon, but still feel so tired.’
‘It is quite likely the case. Is there anything I can bring you? Anthony has ordered pizza.’
‘Actually some cold water and a little pizza would be great.’ She smiled sleepily.
‘I am your willing servant.’ He leant forward and kissed her forehead, his words making her smile. He was anything but, but it was sweet of him to say so.
While he was out of the room Maia took in what she could, from the artistic prints on the walls to the many books. It was large, spacious and neat, with just a touch of opulence, from the sheets to the cushioned couch and armchair.
Loki was back in minutes with a small bottle of water, a glass of ice and a sports drink. He placed them carefully on her bedside and poured her some water, offering her them both. ‘Steven suggested you have an electrolyte replacement to aid your recovery and prevent dehydration, although the pizza should be here any time.’ He sat again.
‘Thank you.’ She took the water first and took a sip, more to wet her dry mouth than anything else, then took a few good sips of the energy drink.
He took the bottle off her and retuned it to the nightstand. ‘You need not thank me, I only did what I promised.’
She gave him a sideways smile, but her eyes remained sleepy. ‘You didn’t mention it would be your bed you’d put me in though.’
‘I also did not mention I would change you into night clothes.’
Maia had been so comfortable she hadn’t even thought of that. She looked down her body and lifted the covers. She was wearing a silver full length nightgown with wide straps on her shoulders, a modest neckline and three layers of material, the first satin-like and solid against her skin, the second two, light and gauzy. Frigga’s necklace still hung around her neck. ‘This isn’t a nightshirt, it’s a gown.’ She pointed out, trying not to be embarrassed that he had changed her, but he noticed.
‘It is of Asgardian design, and fear not, your modesty remains intact. I used magic to change you instantly in the presence of both my brother and Anthony before the cuff was reactivated. At no point were you compromised.’
‘Okay.’ She frowned lightly. ‘And how did I get here?’
‘I carried you, of course. You do not think I would willingly allow anyone else to touch your precious body?’
‘Thanks again.’ She laughed out of embarrassment as she blushed, grateful for the lack of light, but Loki noticed, and leant towards her, his fingers tracing the freckles on her shoulders.
‘There is no need. I know you are grateful, the constant thanks are unnecessary.’
‘All the same,’ she leant into him and kissed him softly, ‘thank you.’
‘These thanks are more than sufficient.’ His hand cupped her cheek and he kissed her as a soft knock came from the door.
‘Pizza’s here.’ Steve’s voice came through the door.
‘Thank you, Steven. We shall be out momentarily.’ Loki stole one more kiss before standing and picking up a drape of material that matched her gown from the end of the bed. Holding it out she saw it was a matching shawl. ‘There are slippers beside the bed.’
‘You’ve thought of everything.’ She pushed back the sheets, swung her legs over the side, and looked down at the silver slippers waiting for her feet, that looked elegant enough to be shoes, and fit her perfectly. Loki wrapped the shawl around her shoulders, lifting her hair free and sweeping it to one side to kiss her neck lightly.
‘We shall join the others for a bite,’ he nipped at her skin playfully, ‘then return here for you to finish your rest.’
She chuckled at his touch and cuddled the shawl around her to douse the goosebumps caused. ‘I could go home.’ She suggested halfheartedly. ‘I don’t want to impose.’
‘No imposition, love.’ He took her hand, leading her to the door. ‘Your presence here is most desirable, and I would be honoured if you would stay.’
‘Well, when you asked so nicely.’
He smiled, raising her hand and kissing it softly.
The entire breakfast bar was covered in pizza boxes and the smell alone made Maia’s stomach rumble in anticipation.
‘Here’s our little atom bomb.’ Tony said as they entered, taking a bite of the pizza slice he held over his plate. ‘You look like shit.’
There was a chorus of; ‘Language!’ from the rec room, followed by a groan from Steve.
‘I feel like…it.’ She admitted as Tony passed her a plate.
‘Cuss if you want, there’s actually no swear jar, but Steve doesn’t like it.’
‘Dammit, Stark!’ Steve yelled, much to Tony’s delight.
‘Eat your fill, Red, you deserve it.’
‘I didn’t do anything.’ She argued as Loki began offering her pizzas with various toppings.
‘You nearly broke Banner’s box. That deserves pizza, at the least.’
‘I…what?’ Her eyes went wide.
‘We have not had the opportunity to discuss the lesson yet.’ Loki took the plate from her hands as she looked about to drop it.
‘But that was built to…’
‘Withstand The Hulk, we know.’ Tony said casually.
‘And both my brother and I, for the most part.’ Loki put the plates on the counter and took her by the upper arms, making sure she gave him eye contact. Even if he had not known from the startled look on her face he would have sensed her worry regardless. Her emotions were like beacons to him. ‘It is nothing for you to fret over, sweet. We knew this would be the case.’
‘Plus Bruce left for the compound earlier and the stress tests are coming back good, so far.’ Tony added.
‘Stress tests?’ She looked at Tony in alarm.
‘Anthony, you are not helping!’ Loki glared at him. ‘Merely a precaution.’ He put himself back in her eye line. ‘Maia, this is why we used the cell, remember?’
Tony seemed to realise he had made things worse and patted her on the back. ‘Stress tests are standard procedure, Cherry. Don’t worry, we do it after every code green too. It’s automatic.’
She blew out a breath. ‘I really didn’t do any major damage or harm?’
‘No damage, you’d have to ask Comet about harm.’
Her eyes shot back to Loki as Stark left for the rec room. ‘Did I hurt you?’
‘A momentary discomfort, nothing more.’ He waved his hand dismissively. ‘Come, you must eat while it is still warm.’
‘Loki!’ She snapped. ‘Did I, or did I not, hurt you in any way?’
‘If you eat we shall return to my bedchamber and discuss the lesson.’ He offered her her plate again.
‘Please, just tell me if I did.’
‘One brief second of discomfort as your power passed through me, but nothing more, I swear this to you. I bear no ill effects. I am immortal and it takes a good deal to do me any lasting harm.’
She stared at him for a long moment. He didn’t seem injured but…she sighed. ‘I don’t want you to get hurt doing this. It’s not worth it.’
‘Next time I shall be prepared. I shall shield against the power I felt.’
‘But it’s not just that power!’ She said a little louder than she meant to. ‘What I did today, that was just energy, but I can create other things too, and one of those is fire, that could really hurt you.’
It was his turn to study her. ‘Let us eat, relax for a moment while we do, and we shall retire and offer one another full disclosure. Tell me all so I can be prepared.’
She sighed but nodded. ‘Okay.’
Loki ensured she had all she wanted and escorted her to the rec room.
Tony and Steve sat on one couch at either end with Nat on the floor between them using the coffee table. Wanda was on another couch with Vision, who wasn’t eating, Thor, Jane and Darcy on the third, leaving an overly large chair that was almost big enough to be a love seat. Loki sat and pulled Maia into his lap, making her put her legs across him.
‘There is no elegant way to eat this food.’ Loki commented as Nat channel hopped.
‘Pizza isn’t meant to be elegant, bard.’ Tony said without looking away from the TV. ‘It’s easy and fun. Enjoy it.’
‘It is pleasant in flavour, I admit, but I have never seen the joy in eating a hot meal with my hands.’
‘You are not normally afraid to get your hands dirty, brother.’ Thor laughed.
‘There are many ways to dirty ones hands.’
‘Shut up and eat your pizza.’ Maia said before the conversation could get out of hand. Darcy laughed out loud and Loki gave Maia raised eyebrows. She smiled at him, nodding towards his plate encouragingly as he studied her, her face still showing so many signs of tiredness, yet she was still willing to talk after dinner. She had to be exhausted.
‘I shall be quiet if you too eat.’ He pointed out she hadn’t taken a bite either and held up a slice for her.
‘You quiet would be a miracle in itself.’ She smiled but took some anyway as Nat joined Darcy’s laughter this time. ‘Happy?’
They all ate for a while, Nat picked a movie, and spoke quietly. Wanda commented on how pretty Maia’s gown was and Loki smirked proudly to himself. It was beautiful and suited her perfectly. Eventually they finished and made to leave.
‘Will the cell be ready for us to try again tomorrow?’ Maia asked as Loki took her plate.
‘Tomorrow?’ Tony looked up at her and Loki stopped by the door.
‘Are we not trying for tomorrow?’ She looked between them.
‘It’s the weekend, kid, take some downtime.’
Maia realised she had forgotten what day of the week it was entirely. ‘Of course. Monday, then?’
‘Monday’s good.’ He smiled at her. ‘But I think we’ll see you around.’
‘Quite possibly.’ She tried not to blush at the knowing wink Tony gave her and turned to follow Loki. He loaded the dishwasher with their plates before taking her hand and leading her back to his room.
‘I hope you don’t mind, but while you slept I asked Miss Romanov to bring a few essentials from your apartment. Should you choose to stay longer, the option is more open that way.’
‘I don’t mind, thank you.’
He stopped and smiled at her before ducking his head and kissing her briefly. ‘These are my thanks, remember?’
‘How could I forget?’ She smiled as they resumed their walk.
‘I think you should wash up for bed before we speak, that way should you desire to sleep you will have no delay.’
‘Good idea.’ She fought to suppress a yawn.
‘And I do not think that will be too long in coming.’
‘Same.’ She agreed.
He showed her to his bathroom, where she found all her toiletries laid out neatly beside his own, her toothbrush and paste in neat little pots with his. It was incredibly intimate and she took a moment to wonder just when she had fallen so hard for Loki that this didn’t surprise her. It felt natural, not rushed, and while part of her worried this may only be temporary, Loki seemed as comfortable as she was with the idea, and the thought of waking up with him again, this time actually in bed, was very appealing.
Loki held enough power with the cuff for minor tasks and he used it to change his clothes for what he had heard Tony refer to as lounge pants, in black, and remade the bed, folding the cover back invitingly before turning off the desk lamp in favour of the bedside lamp. He considered putting on a shirt, however decided against it. He normally slept naked but didn’t want to pressure Maia, despite how obviously keen she was, and this was his compromise. If she asked, he would comply, but the thought of her laid against his chest was enough to knock the thought from his mind. He had just replenished her water when she came out of the bathroom. He just stopped and stared at her, lit from behind, looking more ethereal than any Midgardian ought to, and he realised she had spoken and shook his head.
‘I’m sorry, petal, what did you say?’
‘Would you like me to leave the light on for you?’ Maia repeated with a small smile. She couldn't be sure but she thought her appearance had surprised him somehow, certainly seeing him half dressed had surprised her, in a pleasant way.
‘Please, sweet, I shall just be a moment. Make yourself comfortable.’
Maia had planned on staying up to talk to Loki about her powers, she even sat up in the many pillows on the ornate bed, but by the time he came back out of the bathroom the days exhaustion had defeated her.
Loki came back to find her slumped forward and completely fast asleep. He smiled to himself as he went around the bed and manoeuvred her and the pillows until she was in a more comfortable position then returned to his own side of the bed, having retrieved his book, and climbed between the sheets. He planned to read, he had the book in his hands, but he couldn’t pull his eyes away from the sleeping figure beside him, and when she rolled over, pressing her hand to his thigh, all thoughts of his book left his head. He turned off the light and settled down in his pillows, rolling onto his side to face her, his arm under his head. He brushed a stray curl off her cheek and she nuzzled into his touch in her sleep, making him smile. He slipped his arm over her shoulder and down her back until his arm rested around her waist.
‘What is it about you, little one, that calls to me? That makes me crave your attention?’ He asked quietly. He knew he wouldn’t get an answer, either from her or anywhere else, he had to work this one out for himself, but one thing was for certain; he felt a sense of contentment with her in his arms that he hadn’t had in years.