Loki and Maia were only five minutes late for dinner but still drew everyones attention when they entered, both with hair still damp from the shower they had shared and dressed casually. For Loki that meant wearing a jade green shirt, the first three buttons undone at Maia’s suggestion, and black slacks; Maia in blue jeans and a turquoise t-shirt which Loki noted made her eyes shine like liquid pools. The neckline covered most of her clavicle and her hair hung over her neck but the marks were still visible, if anyone chose to look hard enough. Loki felt quite proud of himself, having made her realise while it may announce to everyone what they had been doing that firstly, they assumed they were anyway, and secondly, it meant something to him. The fact she was willing to do this when she knew there would be looks, at the very least, meant a lot to him.
‘Here they are!’ Darcy called from the kitchen area where she was lifting a serving dish with oven gloves to put on the table.
‘Brother,’ Thor came over immediately, ‘I bring word from Asgard.’ He glanced at Maia but Loki gave a small nod that she realised was for permission to speak in front of her and Loki drew her closer to him. ‘The matter is in hand. Sif will make contact when she has news.’
‘You left it with Sif?’ Loki said in surprise.
‘Can you think of anyone we trust more to do this discretely?’
Loki thought over The Warriors Three and conceded with a raise of his eyebrows. ‘You have her trust, brother, but she dislikes me immensely.’
‘She dislikes what you became.’ Thor rested a hand on Loki’s shoulder. ‘She will do this for us.’
‘She will do this for you.’ Loki specified.
‘Who cares as long as she does it!’ Maia interrupted their bickering.
Loki sighed. ‘She has a point.’
‘Apologies, Lady Maia.’ Thor smiled at her and opened his mouth to continue but Tony stepped up between Thor and Maia.
‘Secret huddle. What are we talking about?’
‘Very little.’ Loki glared at Tony’s arm around Maia’s shoulders. ‘The search for whomever released the drake continues but is thus far unfruitful.’
‘You’re right, that is very little.’ Tony patted Maia’s shoulder and started to walk away. ‘Everyone, grab some food, if Maia’s neck is anything to go by Loki’s starving.’
‘Oh my God.’ Maia murmured, her cheeks flushing furiously as Loki pulled her in against his side, cradling her head to him.
‘Yes!’ Darcy yelled from the table. ‘I told you that was why they were late! Girls night is gonna be awesome!’
‘I think by the time Tuesday comes I might have a bad case of the too-scared-to-attends.’ Maia mumbled so only Loki could hear and he kissed the top of her head.
‘You shall be fine.’ He replied before looking over at the enormous table, laden with food. ‘Actually, Anthony, you are not far off. We require sustenance to replace the energy already expelled and then we will return for, what round are we on, dove?’
‘I don’t know!’ She looked up at him, pink cheeked and wide eyed.
‘We lost count.’
‘Oversharing!’ Tony called from the head of the table.
‘You shared first, Anthony. You cannot have it both ways.’ Loki started them towards the table and she realised that this had been his tactic; to share nothing while making the others uncomfortable enough they would not pry for further information in case he overshared. Maia was sure Darcy would still have questions but they would wait until Tuesday, she hoped.
‘Yeah, okay.’ Tony admitted. ‘You bring your Stark Phone, Rose Red?’
‘In my pocket.’
‘Good. Need to show you some features.’ He pushed the seat beside him out with his foot.
‘Told you.’ Darcy sung as Jane nudged her arm in an attempt to quiet her.
Tony waited until Maia had food on her plate, Loki pouring her some wine, before picking up the phone and showing her various interfaces including the wrist flick to create a floating display and live FRIDAY access at any time. ‘Finally, there’s this,’ he showed her an operation on the display that was quick, easy, but not likely to be activated accidentally, ‘this is an emergency activation. You hit this if you need help, no hesitation.’
‘You think I might?’ She asked as she took the phone back.
‘Well, with the index of the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual hunting Mischief, and the two of you being joined at the hip, literally, chances are fairly high, I’d say.’
‘I guess so. I hadn’t thought of it like that.’
Tony looked down the table to where Thor sat between Jane and Steve, plate piled high. Maia had noticed Loki preferred lighter, more delicate food compared to his brother’s penchant for, well, just about anything. ‘Hey, hammer bro, we really have no leads on who set the dragon loose?’
‘As yet, none, however Sif will do a thorough job while remaining subtle.’
Maia knew Loki was familiar with this Sif Thor was referring to but she wanted a little clarification, and as it was open to the table she saw no point in keeping quiet. ‘Can I ask, who’s Sif?’
Thor went to answer but Darcy got there first. ‘She’s this amazing Valkyrie shield maiden warrior type. Kicks serious ass and looks hot while doing it.’
‘Really, Darcy?’ Jane asked.
‘What? She’s my girl crush. I would totally love to be like her.’
‘Sif is one of our most renowned warriors.’ Loki explained. ‘An old friend of Thor’s.’
‘She was once your friend too.’ Thor reminded him.
‘And yet the moment I took the throne, at Mother’s request, she and The Warriors Three betrayed me.’
‘This is old ground.’ Thor reminded him. ‘Must we go over it again?’
‘Merely reminding you…’
‘I swear if you say they started it, I will bash both your heads together for being so childish.’ Jane said firmly before looking at Maia. ‘Sif will help.’
‘I wish I hadn’t asked.’ Maia smiled at her.
Jane gave her a sympathetic look. ‘Don’t worry about it. They don’t need an excuse to bicker like children.’
‘So, we have no clues as to who could be behind this?’ Steve asked, getting back to the matter at hand.
‘Other than the names Loki has given us and the fact they wield enough power to shield a drake’s transport here and create the dark energy from the initial attack, none.’ Thor confirmed.
‘I don’t like it. Normally we have groups waving their arms around claiming responsibility. This one is far too secretive.’
‘Secrets are your department.’ Tony nodded to Loki.
‘Trust me, if I had the vaguest idea of who to blame I would tell you. Of course this would be easier if you would…’
‘Remove the cuff.’ Tony and Steve chorused.
‘Nice try.’ Nat smirked from across the table.
‘Security has been stepped up and constant scans are being made for any disturbances of any kind, as well as patrols.’ Tony added. ‘There’s nothing you could do that we don’t have covered already.’
‘Actually, that is untrue. In the event of another attack I may be able to identify any power being used.’
‘Still not happening.’ Steve added.
Loki shrugged. ‘Merely a suggestion.’
The meal continued with small talk and the rest of the team were planning on hanging out afterwards; drinking, playing cards and just chilling, but Loki quickly declined as everyone knew he would, and they made their way back to their apartment.
‘When we get back will you show me how to break an enchantment?’
‘Hmm. I had other plans, but it would be a good use of our time.’
‘We can do the other plans when I know I can save you if I have to.’
‘Oh, my beautiful voice of reason.’ He sighed. ‘Very well. I will show you how to break an enchantment, then we shall retire for a different kind of magic.’
Maia couldn’t help but smile.
Loki was able to enchant the salt shaker and had written Maia a basic spell that would enable her to break the enchantment with its words and just the fact she held power should make it effective without her risking draining herself further. Her first two attempts she was hesitant which stopped the spell from working, but the third time, when Loki sat her in his lap and talked her through what the words meant, it worked. After a couple more practices she had it down and Loki told her if the worst should happen and he was trapped in a mirror she need only be in his earshot, and he would be free. Maia hoped she never had to use it, although she feared she might, but Loki had the perfect way to distract her from her worries.