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Second Chances

Chapter 32

Loki released the drake as the bifrost appeared, hitting the floor and rolling away as it crashed unmoving in Heimdall's observatory. Thor leapt off the drake's back easily as Loki got to his feet, dusting himself off, Heimdall closing the bifrost.
'Loki, you should not be here.' He stated as Thor walked around the drake, looking for signs of life and finding none.
'Should I not?' Loki quipped. ‘Thank you for the reminder, I had quite forgotten what banishment means.'
'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, my prince.' Heimdall replied.
'And yet so often the only way I can get its recipient to understand.'
'Enough!' Thor came to stand between them. 'Heimdall, if you could have someone remove the body, I shall return Loki to Midgard.'
'Might I speak with you first, Thor?' Loki asked. 'I may need you to run an errand for me here.'
'Another?' Heimdall interjected and Loki knew he meant the elixir. With the cuff he could not disguise anything from his eyes.
'Yes, another.' He turned back to Thor. 'Maia had a vivid dream last night, of some sort of mirror magic, an entrapment. While she has never had precognitive dreams before this truly scared her, and with her testing her powers and now the drake attack I believe further investigation is needed.'
'I agree.' Thor nodded. 'Explain the dream and I shall have both matters investigated. Heimdall, you did not see where the drake originated?'
'I did not, and that is no easy thing.' He looked pointedly at Loki. 'A drake is not entirely sentient and could not do something as complex as hide itself from my gaze while it travelled between worlds.'
'So very reassuring.' Loki turned back to Thor and began explaining Maia's dream.

'Ow.' Maia said under her breath as another piece of glass was removed from her shoulder. The shards were small but several and she had already endured ten minutes of prodding.
'This is the last piece.' The nurse assured her, wiping over the area with an antiseptic cloth, putting another band aid in place. Maia had counted eleven in total.
'Then can I go?' She asked.
'Then you can go.' The nurse repeated.
'Does it hurt much?' Darcy asked from the chair she sat on beside Jane. Tony had asked they stay with Maia while he and the rest of the team made a damage assessment. Once that was done everybody would be moved to the compound for safety while repairs got underway.
'Not really. Just the poking is a bit uncomfortable.'
'You're finished.' The nurse picked up her tray. 'Any signs of infection seek medical attention immediately.'
'I will, thank you.' Maia smiled as she left but couldn't make it reach her eyes or last more than a few seconds. Loki had been gone for some time now and they had no idea when they would be back. Jane seemed used to Thor's little disappearing act but it was all new to her.
Darcy got up and handed Maia the pile of clothes she held. 'Here's your super sexy Stark Industries gear.' She wrinkled her nose, knowing they were anything but.
'Thanks, Darcy.'
'We'll wait outside.' Jane hinted for Darcy to follow her and the younger woman did so, somewhat reluctantly.
Maia changed into the sweats, vest and hoodie all bearing the SI logo and put her slippers back on. They didn't match but they were better than nothing. As she came out of the curtained cubicle Darcy and Jane pushed away from the wall.
'We need to find out what's going on.' She indicated to the small comms earpiece she still had, positioning it in her ear as they left the med centre.
'That'd be good. And you have to tell me again what happened because I can't believe I missed a freaking dragon.' Darcy had complained more than once about the fact.
'Give it another few minutes and I'm sure there will be videos all over the net.' Jane reminded her.
'Yeah, but Maia saw it up close!'
'Tony?' Maia asked into the comm as they walked.
'What can I do for you, CB?' His voice came back immediately.
'We're done at the med centre. Where do we head?'
'You girls need to pack bags then head down to the secure parking level. There's transport waiting to take everyone to the compound.'
'And what about Loki and Thor?'
'Someone will wait for them to get back. Don’t panic about lover boy, kid. He'll be okay.'
'Really?' She said, not believing him. 'In that case how's the investigation going? Any idea where the attack was concentrated?'
'You're too smart.'
'No, I'm just not stupid.' She pushed through the door to the stairwell, the elevators still not active. 'Something is after Loki and a creature from another realm attacks the side of the tower where his room is. What a coincidence!' Maia knew her worry for Loki was making her take it out on Tony but she realised he was trying to hide the truth and that wasn't what she needed. 'I'm heading up.'
'No, no! I don't think so! We don't know how structurally safe it is!' He argued.
'So you'd better meet me there.' She pulled the comm out of her ear and looked at the women beside her. 'Are your rooms on the same side of the building as Loki's?'
'Other side.' Jane said as Darcy shook her head. 'It was another attack on Loki?'
'Looks that way. We have to pack bags and head to the parking garage for transfer to the compound.'
'But you're going to check the damage in Loki's room?' She asked as they started up the stairs.
'And half my stuff is there. I'll see if I can grab some of Loki's things too.'
'Ooo, moving in?' Darcy grinned. 'Do you have your own drawer?'
Maia laughed. 'No, I don't think so anyway. Nat brought me some things when Loki took me to his after the lesson. I don't even know what. Toiletries, definitely.'
'Well, you weren't even dressed when the dragon attacked.' Darcy hinted.
'We literally just woke up. And my phone was in his room.' She pulled a face.
'Oh, I bet Tony gives you a fancy Stark Phone.' She pulled hers out of her pocket. 'He does that when you lose electronics in the line of duty.'
'How did you lose yours?' Maia frowned.
'Tony stepped on it accidentally on purpose in his suit because I wouldn't let him replace it when it still worked.' She shrugged. 'And he salvaged all my data, migrated it too.'
'If we find it.'
'Don't you back up?'
'To my laptop, and the cloud.'
'Then you'll be good.'
'I guess so.' Darcy had found a bright side but Maia wasn't sure how long it would take to replace and she still had to call Charles and explain away this morning. She had no doubt he would have realised she was with someone, who he may not know, and he was a friend as much as a mentor. He would find out, eventually, without a doubt, and she would rather it was from her.
'Oh, deep thoughts. What's on the phone you don't want Stark to see? Asgardian dick pics?'
'No!' Maia said in horror as Jane slapped her arm.
'Disappointed.' Darcy pouted.
'You have a one track mind.' Jane glared at her for her blatantness.
'There is nothing on there I care if Stark sees, unless he has a kink for Shakespearean quotes.'
'Sounds more like a Loki thing.' Maia cast her a sideways glance. 'Is it a Loki thing? A Shakespeare kink? Because I can totally see that!'
'Not a kink, but we did text a couple of Shakespeare quotes to one another a few days ago.'
'Oh, that's so cute.' Darcy squealed. 'What else? How did he ask you out? First kiss?'
'Can we do this another time?' Maia implored.
'Yup. Girls' night. I want everything.'
'Great.' Maia didn't really mind but right now she had other things on her mind. Like Loki disappearing for one.
They reached The Avengers floors and split off to their rooms. Tony was waiting by the door to Loki’s room, in his suit with the mask off. 'It's not good in there, Red.' He shook his head. 'Wish you'd reconsider.'
'I want to get some things together for us to take to the compound, and my phone is in there. I was on a call to Charles right before it happened.'
'Where'd you leave the phone?' He opened the door and went in first. 'FRIDAY, keep scanning for structural damage, let me know if either of us get too close to something unsafe.'
'Will do, Boss.'
'I threw it off the bed, towards the window.'
'At the drake?' He glanced at her.
'Just off the bed. Before the drake.' She looked down, trying to hide her blush.
'Oh, you and Mischief were making mayhem of your own.'
'No, we weren't, because every time we start something interrupts us.' She scowled at him.
'Ouch, Cherry, frustrated much? Once we get to the compound I'll allocate you guys a room far from any interruptions.' He touched her shoulder with his gauntleted hand. 'I'll take the far side of the bed, you grab essentials.'
'Sure.' She went straight to the bathroom and gathered all their toiletries in a towel, as she didn't know if there were any bags anywhere. She rolled it up and came back out into the room, spotting a SI bag in front of the wardrobe. She put the towel beside it and crouched, unzipping it. Inside were some of her clothes and her laptop, with room to spare. She put in socks and shoes for Loki, shirts, and put suits and Loki's new leather jacket in a bag she found in the wardrobe, tucking the towel in first, then finally getting to her feet and daring to look at the damage, having so far avoided it, other than the cold breeze and dust and debris coating everything.
The windows and wall surrounding them were completely gone, the curtains hanging in tatters. Part of the floor was missing, the desk and armchair Loki had sat in the night before with it.
'Quite a mess.' Tony kicked a chunk of rubble over with his foot, crouching and coming back up with a crushed phone. 'If this is yours you aren't calling anyone on it.'
'That was mine.' She sighed.
'Hang onto it, I'll replace it when we get to the compound, transfer all your data over, keep the same number.’
Maia smiled to herself. 'You don't need to do that.'
'I have a huge stock of these things. Least I can do.' He came back towards her and passed her the phone which she slipped into the hoodie pocket. 'Anything else?'
'I need to run down to my place, grab a few more things, but, uh,' she paused.
'But, uh, what?'
She rubbed her forehead. 'I found Loki's socks, but no underwear.'
'Too restrictive, sweet.'
Maia spun to see Loki grinning in the doorway, still in his custom leather armour. 'You asshole.' She stammered as relief flooded her, feet moving towards him without her telling them to.
'Your asshole.' He replied as she slapped his chest.
'You threw yourself off a building!'
He was expecting her to hit him again and was more than a little surprised when she threw her arms around him instead, pressing her cheek to his chest and screwing up her eyes tight. Loki looked up at Stark in complete surprise and Tony mimed putting his arms around someone and it seemed to snap Loki out of his shock, one arm wrapping fully around her, his other hand cradling her head to his chest and resting his cheek on her hair.
'I didn't mean to scare you, dearest.' He said quietly.
'I'm just gonna…' Tony walked to the hole in the wall and stepped out. They deserved privacy and were blocking the doorway, so out the hole it was.
'You jumped off a building onto a dragon and then disappeared!’
'A drake, but I know what I did, and it worked. The beast is dead and gone, and I am back.' His hand rubbed over her back and she flinched as he touched the cuts. 'Are you still injured?'
She shook her head and opened her eyes again. 'I just had some glass pieces removed. I'm fine.'
'I would investigate myself.'
'I'm not done berating you yet!' She leaned back to glare at him but he didn't let her go far.
'What else is there for you to berate me for?' He caressed her cheek with his palm.
'That thing was here for you.'
'I suspect so.'
'How can you be so nonchalant about it?'
'It is dead and I am not.' He shrugged. 'And together we were able to use your power without you falling asleep. I would say it was quite a successful day and it is barely even past midday.'
'Your room was just destroyed by a dragon!'
'A drake, but all that we have lost here are things, love, all that is important to me is in my arms, whole and well. You are well?'
'I said I'm fine, don't make this about me!' She pressed her fingers into his back, although with the armour it had little effect. 'We're being moved to the compound and have to make sure you stay safe between here and there.'
'You are very cute when you are worried.'
'This is serious!' She pushed away from him, stalking back to pick up the bags. 'I need to run down to my apartment and pack, call Charles back on something, meet up in the, what are you smirking at?'
'Your clothes are ridiculous.' He looked over her outfit.
She shoved one of the bags into his arms. 'Carry that.' She snapped and pushed past him, heading towards the stairwell.
'My, you are upset.'
'Because you're being so flippant after what happened.' She continued, not wanting to admit she was angry at the fact she had been so worried, rather than his current attitude, although that added to it.
'Would it serve you better if I panicked?' He asked as they entered the stairwell.
'Then you'll need to be more specific, sweet.'
'Let's just get things together.'
'Not while something is troubling you so.'
She stopped at a turn in the stairs and spun on him. 'You were right, okay? I was scared. I didn't know what had happened to you, or if you would come back, and it's stupid, and pathetic, and needy.'
Loki watched her angry confession in surprise. It was obvious that in truth she was angry with herself and the way she felt. It was endearing she was so afraid and cared so much to worry about what he thought.
'I do not think of you as any of those things. That you care about me enough to be afraid both for me and what I think of you is very charming. I have not been shown such consideration for a long time. For that, I am grateful.'
Maia's angriness began to melt away at his words and on its tail was a hundred what ifs, all of which hurt and threatened to choke her, biting the inside of her mouth to stop her bottom lip from quivering as her eyes filled with tears. 'How can you have this effect on me? How can you make me feel like part of me is missing when you're not here? I hardly know you.' The first of the tears rolled down her cheek and it made Loki's heart ache. He dropped the bag behind him, took the bag from her hand and put it down before pulling her in tight to his chest, but instead of putting her arms around him this time she grasped at the leather of his tunic.
'Shh.' Loki stroked her hair as he spoke. 'The feelings are mutual, sweet. We share a spark and I feared for you when the drake first attacked, feared for you when we were exposed on the balcony. I feared for you while we used your powers, feared the entire time we were apart.'
'But that's not normal, even with feelings for one another.'
'Maybe it's our normal, love.'
'And that.' She sniffed, turning her face up to him and he could see the tears tracking down her cheeks, the confusion in her eyes.
'And what?'
'The pet names. Why the pet names?' She needed to know if it was just him, something he did casually, or if it meant something to him, because it meant the world to her.
'What about them? Do you dislike it when I call you sweet? Because you are. Or dear heart? When you have the dearest heart of anyone I have ever met. Darling girl? That is what you are. And love? Does that bother you?' She shook her head. 'Good. Because that is the hope you give me. That it is still possible I could find love; love and be loved in return. I am the God of Lies, but only you have the power to halt untruths before they even pass my lips. For you there shall always be truth.'
She pushed up on her tiptoes and he bowed his head, meeting her halfway, their lips meeting in a soft caress. His hands came up to cup her cheeks, his thumbs wiping away her tears.
'I would have you as mine, Maia, if you would take me as yours.' He murmured, just a breath from her.
She nodded, the barest of movements. 'I'll take you as mine.' She whispered.
Relief flooded through him, part of him had still expected her to turn him away, the scarred part of him from all that had gone on over the last few years. He kissed her once more, firmly then pulled her into his arms, standing straight, lifting her easily off the ground and they clung to one another for some time.
Clint shook his head and looked at Nat beside him, two floors down. 'Damn, that was smooth.'



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