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Second Chances

Chapter 33

Loki found himself in the middle of the back seat of an armoured SUV with a heavily armed guard on either side of him, on the way to the compound. Tony was driving and Maia sat in the passenger seat beside him. They really were taking no chances but he knew that none of their measure would help if another drake was sent. He watched Maia as they drove, she was overly quiet and he realised she kept tapping her thumbnail on her teeth in some sort of nervous gesture. He was much happier when they arrived and were ushered inside where he could stand beside her again. The compound was a hive of activity and so many strangers did nothing to ease the tension Loki felt.
'You two, follow me.’ Tony put his hand on Maia's elbow and guided her to the nearest elevator with Loki behind them. Maia looked back over her shoulder at him and shrugged. She wasn't sure where they were heading but it seemed to be Tony's priority. He made them leave their bags to be brought in so she wasn't sure what was going on.
After following Stark down corridors and past communal areas for some time he finally stopped at a door, opening it with a keycard.
'You should have some privacy and security at this end of the compound. Windows look inwards so less chance of an attack like this morning. Fully stocked kitchen so you can be self sufficient if you want, but you're invited to join us for dinner tonight, seven o'clock. Everyone's coming along. Anyway, make yourselves at home. Someone will let you know about the debriefing we no doubt have to go to. You want me to set up your new phone?' He held his hand out to Maia.
'Oh, sure, I mean, please.' She took the broken handset from her pocket and handed it to him.
'There's a landline if you need to use it, your bags will be up in a few minutes too, so keep your clothes on until then, and try keep the llama noises to a minimum.' He winked at them before setting off the way they had come.
'Just when you think he's doing something nice he finishes up an asshole.' Maia said as Loki carefully put his arm around her shoulders and guided her inside.
'He does have heart but seems to prefer to be caustic.'
'Oh my God.' Maia murmured as they entered the room or, more accurately, apartment. The door opened into a large living area with kitchen and a breakfast table in the large window. A wall mounted TV sat above a fireplace with a large overstuffed couch and chairs facing them. There were two doors on the right wall and Maia was already on her way towards them.
'This place is amazing.' She breathed as she opened the first door, finding an enormous bathroom with extra large corner bath and walk in shower.
'This certainly has potential.' Loki said from close behind her and she jumped, turning to look at him as though she hadn't realised he had followed her. That made him frown. 'Something troubling you, sweet?' He asked as he brushed some hair back from her face.
She sighed. 'Something is, but I don't know what.'
'That is to be expected. A lot has happened.' He rested his hand on her hip, guiding her back into the living area. 'Sit down, I shall make you a coffee.'
'Okay.' She went to the breakfast table and took a seat, looking out of the window. The room was on the top floor of a semicircular annex that overlooked a training area.
While Loki prepared drinks their bags were delivered along with the message that they would be collected by an agent in an hour for debriefing.
Loki put a cup in front of Maia before taking the seat opposite her. 'I know you tend to prefer coffee but the old remedy of sweet tea is good for shock.'
'I'm not in shock, I don't think.' She stirred the tea out of habit.
'It is permitted.' He wrapped his hands around his cup, more for something to do with them than to warm them. 'You did just help defeat a drake. Not many can say they have done that before breakfast.'
'I didn't really do anything.' She was avoiding his gaze, staring into her cup.
'Nonsense.' He laughed. 'Without your power I could not have killed the creature as quickly as I did, and without it the team were unwilling to let me get involved. In all likelihood there would have been more damage to both structures and the populace, the beast may even have escaped. You were instrumental in its downfall, have no doubt.'
She sighed and it was long and heavy. 'I guess I helped. That's not what's bothering me though. I just can't quite put my finger on it.'
'Not what we spoke of in the stairwell?'
That finally made her give him eye contact. 'No, not at all.' She reached her hand across the table to him and he released his cup, taking her hand in his. 'That's actually a relief.' She managed a small smile. 'But I feel like I forgot something important, and just when I think I'm on the right track to figure it out my train of thought derails.'
'Do you have your notepad with you?'
She nodded. 'In my bag.'
'Let us compile a list of all we need to discuss, perhaps it will help clear your head.'
'Okay.' She nodded. She went and got them, passing them to Loki. 'You write, I'll make afternoon breakfast.'
Loki wrote as they spoke, listing all that had happened, while she whipped up omelettes. While they ate they discussed her powers; what she had control over, or rather could utilise, and lastly how she had known he would be able to use her power for himself.
'I don't know.' She shrugged. 'It just seemed worth a try, you know? And it worked better than I hoped.'
'I agree, it was a success, but even on Asgard it is not a common thing. It takes true mastery to be able to do so.'
'Master of magic, God, Prince; any other titles you want?'
'Just one, I am working towards.'
'I'm not sure I want to know.' She went back to her plate. 'But even that's not bothering me, not really.'
'The dream, perhaps?'
She thought for a second. 'Maybe. It was really unnerving.'
'Would you feel comfortable giving me the unabridged version, sweet?'
'It might help clear my head, if that's it, but it was just a dream.'
'Was it?'
'I hope so.' She swallowed. 'It all seemed so real though. I was sitting on an enormous ornate bed. The entire room was so well lit and everything shone, like every surface was golden. Down the wall to my right was a bank of mirrors. You came in, through enormous double doors opposite the bed. You were wearing black leather armour with gold trim, and your gold helmet, the one with the horns?' He nodded, knowing she hadn't seen it in person but everyone who owned a TV knew it. She poked at her food, looking down. 'I knew it wasn't you. Your hair was shorter, but your smile gave you away, and your walk. You're confident, everything you do is confident, but whoever this was was tentative, nervous even. His eyes were,' she swallowed, closing her eyes, 'I didn't want him to look at me. He made me uncomfortable. He spoke to me, but I really don't know what he said. I didn't really listen, I was drawn to look at the mirror, to his reflection, and it didn't match.' She gave him haunted eyes. 'You were his reflection, like you are now, but in your black designer suit. You were looking at me and I came over to you. The other you tried to stop me, but I got to you.' She looked down at the table, her gaze slipping out of focus. 'I couldn't get you out. It didn't matter what I did, I couldn't figure it out.'
Loki was unsure whether to be reassuring or honest. He didn't want to scare her but equally he had only earlier expressed how she made him not want to lie to her. He had to tell her the truth. 'The room you describe, it sounds very much like Asgard, although I cannot be certain. I have had black armour in the past, but I have never been trapped in a mirror, nor had anyone impersonate me.'
She looked at him in confusion. 'You think there might be something to it? That it's more than a dream?'
'It seems a little coincidental that we explore your power and you dream of somewhere you have never seen, and that it involved some kind of trick I myself couldn't overcome. It seems far fetched but no matter how good you are at something there is always someone who may have an advantage over you.'
'What do you think is going on?'
'I think I promised you the truth, and hiding what I think may be a warning helps none of us. Thor is already investigating on Asgard for me, and I think I have approached your training incorrectly. I shall amend that, come Monday.'
Maia shook her head at the information overload she had received. She got up quickly, pushing her chair back, taking her plate to the kitchen almost on autopilot. Once it was clear and in the dishwasher she turned back to Loki. 'What?'
'Love,' he got to his feet and approached her slowly, 'I know this is a lot to take in.'
'A lot? No, this is fine. You think my dream is a warning you're about to get stuck in a mirror and I won't be able to do a thing about it, that I know what Asgard looks like, and something about my powers? Absolutely fine!' She garbled.
'You scraped your leftovers into the dishwasher, sweet, and threw away your plate.'
That made Maia stop. She had been through endless things at X-Manor, having to keep a level head, including evacuating students during attacks when necessary, but not being in control of her own mind when she slept had her almost panicked, let alone that Loki was in so much danger. Loki stopped at the edge of the counter and held his hand out to her. 'Come and sit with me, it will be fine, I promise you.'
'I don't want you trapped in a mirror.' She said quickly.
'I do not plan on being trapped in one, but with the cuff I may not be able to prevent it. I can, however, teach you to break the enchantment, should it happen.' He gave her a wholly too serious face, arm still outstretched.
She sighed, her breath shuddering out of her. 'How?'
'I have a plan.'
The words were meant to reassure her but she had no confidence in herself being able to stop this, to learn what he wanted to teach her. Anything else she would have seen as a challenge to overcome, but not her powers, anything but those. She couldn't think of a reply to Loki's words, instead she took his hand and let him draw her to him and then to the couch.
'We shall speak until the debriefing, dearest, and then continue afterwards. You have nothing to fear with me.'
She nodded, knowing it was true, it was everything else that worried her.



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