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Second Chances

Chapter 36

Maia’s eyes opened to the sound of an explosion, except they didn’t. Deep in a dream from her childhood she found herself in a battle, a sword in one hand while power hummed through the other. She wore brown leather armour, her long, auburn hair caught in a braid that flicked over her shoulder as she spun at the sound of a war cry behind her.
A heavily armed humanoid rushed at her with its axe raised but she lifted her hand, spilling fog as she side stepped, slicing upward with the sword on instinct and cleaving through the creature.
‘Time to regroup, love!’ She turned to find Loki in black armour with gold trim, young and smiling with his hand held towards her.
‘Loki?’ She frowned in confusion as her hand came up to take his.
‘The commanders have holed up, we need to help get them out.’
‘But,’ she started as he pulled her behind him to the centre of the village they were liberating. Thor stood at the front of the wooden building, his hair shorter, shouting at those inside, with Fandral beside him, who saluted with his sword as they approached.
‘Good of you to join us, my lady.’ He smiled broadly and gave her a wink.
Thor finished his speech and turned to them. ‘They have been warned. Destroy the hut.’
‘Destroy it?’ Maia asked in surprise.
‘Brother, can we not instead…’
‘Destroy it, Loki.’ Thor said firmly.
‘They may have hostages.’ Fandral reminded the arrogant prince.
‘They must be stopped.’
‘Let us flush them out towards you.’ Maia stepped towards him. ‘That way you can ensure only the commanders are stopped, even take one alive for your father to have questioned.’
Thor gave her a sideways glance. His brother may have the silvertongue but she had the voice of reason.
‘Very well, but make it fast.’
Maia gave him a grateful smile and let Loki lead her around the back of the building where Sif and Volstagg waited.
‘Go to Thor. We shall drive them to you.’ Loki told them.
‘Be wary. They are vicious. Like cornered dogs.’ Sif said as she passed.
‘Oh Sif, you do care.’ Loki teased as they walked away. ‘Ready, love?’ He looked at her. ‘Shall I take the roof, you the doors?’
She nodded. ‘Let’s give your brother what he wants.’
They called the power together and their targets first smouldered then took, flames growing rapidly. Shouting began inside the hut and Loki raised her hand to his lips, kissing it softly. ‘Well done, sweet. Now we wait, in case any are fool enough to try and escape.’ Maia shifted her grip on her sword, settling her feet into a ready stance and Loki chuckled at her. ‘Worry not, they are not that…damn.’ The wall exploded in a shower of splinters as a huge creature barrelled through it, followed by a dozen more warriors. Fear leapt up Maia’s throat as Loki released her hand, manifesting himself a dagger as he set his feet.
‘Thor!’ Maia yelled as the group rushed them.
‘Don’t hold back!’ Loki told her as the group got closer.
Maia braced herself, ready for battle, but it never came. She was staring at a shelf of leather bound books in a high ceilinged library. She wore a simple pale blue gown with turquoise trim, gold bangles at her wrists. She examined the titles before her, wondering why she had chosen this section, when it suddenly became dark as green cloth was draped fully around her.
‘Guess who, sunbeam?’ Loki’s voice echoed inside his cape and her heart leapt.
‘As you slipped me a note in the dining hall I assume it is our raven haired prince.’ She turned and looked up at him as he dropped his cape.
‘Your prince.’ He murmured, dipping his head to take her in a deep kiss, his arms pulling her to him.
Maia got over the initial excitement and pulled away. ‘Loki, what if we’re caught?’
‘Let them catch us. I wish to shout our love from the rooftops.’ He lowered his head again but she offered him her cheek.
‘But, the Allfather…’
‘I don’t care what my father thinks.’ He caught her chin in his hand and kissed her softly. ‘I will marry you, beloved, one way or another.’
‘Oh Loki.’ She sighed as he pulled her flush against him.
‘We cannot hide this forever.’ He brushed his knuckles over her cheek. ‘Let me ask your father for your hand.’
‘My father is not the problem.’ She argued.
‘Run away with me then. If we come back wed there is nothing my father can do.’
‘Heimdall would stop us!’ She whispered harshly. ‘And your father is king, there is plenty he could do, including, but not limited to, the dungeon or exile!’
‘Mother would talk him around. She wants me to be happy, and you, love, are my joy.’
She stared into his green eyes. ‘You are trouble, my God of Mischief.’ She sighed resignedly.
Loki disappeared and she was left looking at her own reflection in a full length mirror. Her gown was white and gold, the veil upon her hair matched and a handmaiden stepped in front of her, fixing the gauzy cloth over her face.
‘You look beautiful, my daughter.’ She turned to the voice of a man she knew as father, his red hair and beard more styled than she had ever seen them, his formal armour shining.
‘Thank you, Father.’ She smiled at him.
‘Are you ready to become an honest woman?’ He offered her his arm.
‘I am unsure a ceremony of any kind will assure that.’ She took his arm and let him lead her from the room, her stomach dancing with nervous excitement.
Everything changed again and she stood below Odin’s throne, her hands joined with Loki’s. He looked resplendent in his green and gold armour, his helmet reflecting the lights. The room was full to bursting for the royal wedding, and behind her stood her father, behind Loki his mother and brother. Odin stood beside them, the gold cord that would bind their hands held before him.
‘Make your promise, my son.’
Loki smiled at her, his eyes full of love as he licked his lips before speaking. ‘My love, you are the one with whom I can share all that I am. I, Loki of Asgard, promise to trust you and be honest with you. I promise to respect you, listen to you and support you. I promise to play with you, grow and learn with you. I promise to honour what we have, to cherish our every day. I promise to do all of these things, through whatever life brings us. Riches or poverty, health or illness, good times or bad, until the end of my days. For you, my love, my Sigyn.’
Maia’s eyes flew open to be greeted by darkness, Loki’s arms around her and her head upon his chest. She tried to make sense of who she was, where and when, as parts of her mind tried to sort between what she had dreamt and what was…her? Who was she? She remembered laying with Loki among furs in a golden bed, but also on white cotton, and black silk. She remembered their wedding night, dinner the night before with Tony and the rest of The Avengers. She knew who Sif was, they were friends, and Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg. She knew the throne room on Asgard, its library, X-Manor, all of it. And she remembered the way Thor looked at her when they first met, expectant but patient.
She drew herself from Loki’s embrace and he murmured but stayed asleep. She stumbled from the bed, disoriented, putting her hand out to steady herself and finding the bedside cabinet, her fingertips brushing the Stark Phone and the display lit up, illuminating the room. She was at The Avengers compound, in the apartment she and Loki had been allocated. A glance around the room and everything was how they had left it, their clothes strewn around the floor where they had been discarded in a hurry, as the reality of why she and Loki had clicked so easily cleared in her mind.
She grabbed Loki’s shirt from the floor near her feet, threw on some underwear and, grabbing the Stark Phone, left the room. She all but staggered across the living area, leaning on the back of the couch as she initiated FRIDAY, the Irish tone of Stark’s AI muted in the dark room. ‘How can I help you, Ms Tomson?’
‘Thor.’ She said, swallowing down her pulse. ‘Where is he?’
‘Thor is on the balcony off the common room with Captain Rogers.’
‘Thanks.’ Maia shoved the phone in the breast pocket and pushed herself towards the door.
Somehow she made it to the common room, leaning heavily on the wall the entire way, until she could see the two men faintly illuminated by the moonlight. They were the only ones here and she was glad. She made her way towards them, using the furniture to guide her to the glass doors. Both men turned when they heard her, looking at her in surprise.
‘Maia? Are you alright?’ Steve came towards her, his hand held out as she looked as though she may fall despite her hand resting on the glass of the door for support.
‘I need to talk to Thor.’ She said breathily without taking her eyes from the Asgardian prince.
‘I was just turning in anyway.’ Steve glanced back at Thor, who nodded. ‘Well, goodnight.’
Maia waited until he had gone before speaking, her voice trembling as much as her body. ‘Who am I, Thor?’
‘Maia,’ he took a step towards her, putting the drink he held on the table.
‘No, not Maia. Who. Am. I?’ She asked, slowly and deliberately.
Thor sighed and stopped in his progress. ‘You are, or were once, Sigyn of Asgard. Loki’s wife.’
Maia’s breath left her in a rush, her hand sliding down the glass at his words, her body following as she sat on the floor, her pulse loud in her ears and Thor came and knelt beside her. ‘I remember.’ She looked up at him. ‘I remember everything.’ She patted his cheek with her hand and it felt like the most natural thing in the world. ‘You’ve mellowed, brother.’
‘You truly remember?’ He frowned at her.
‘I remember you telling me, dancing with me at the feast the night before my wedding, that you were now my brother and you were proud to call me sister. Just like you did at Tony’s party.’
‘I hoped my words would trigger some sort of response.’ He offered her his open arms and she leant into them, letting him hug her close. She knew him, had all her life, and it was so good to realise it again. 'Welcome back, little sister.' He said as they parted and he moved to sit beside her with his back against the glass. 'What made you realise?'
‘Something did, I'm not sure what.’ She rocked her head back, leaning it on the window. ‘When did you know?’
‘I saw you in the medical room before Loki asked for the elixir. I knew then.’
‘Why doesn’t he recognise me?’ She leant her head to look at him.
‘I believe it was to prevent him from jumping to conclusions, from rushing. He, and you, had to rediscover your love for one another in time. And you have.’
‘I guess so, but what does that make me? Am I Maia with Sigyn’s memories, or Sigyn in Maia’s body, or something else entirely?’ She sighed in confusion. ‘I think I need a drink.’
Thor got to his feet and offered her a hand up. ‘I believe you to be one soul who has occupied two bodies, as you have both memories. Heimdall too knew who you are, and what this means.’ He retrieved his drink and offered her his arm, leading her to the bar. Thor offered her various bottles as she spoke.
‘But what does it mean? The bourbon please, over ice.’
He poured a double and handed it to her, noting she leant heavily on the counter top. ‘It means you and my brother have a second chance. That you are meant for one another and even death itself cannot keep you apart for long.’
Maia swigged her drink and screwed up her nose at the burn she felt as she swallowed. ‘So, I’m both?’
‘It would be the most accurate description.’
‘Do you think Loki will recognise me now?’
‘Perhaps. Would you like me to come with you to tell him?’
‘He’s asleep. I just need a few minutes to try and get my head around this before I share.’
Thor came back around the bar and guided her to the couch. ‘How did you come to realise the truth?’ He asked as they sat.
‘A dream.’ She sank back in the seat. ‘I saw a lot of different memories, such as the time you almost got Loki and I trampled to death on Alfheim.’
‘To be fair even I would not have thought them foolish enough to run towards the flames.’ He said defensively.
‘You were so angry with us.’ She smiled at the memory of how much he had yelled at them afterwards, for simply not destroying the entire hut and everyone in it.
‘You insisted on smoking them out.’
‘Whereas you just wanted us to smite them where they stood, hostages and all.’ She laughed. 'That was a much better idea.’
‘Now I can look back and see it was a rash and reckless decision. And anger was an easy reaction. My fear for my brother and his beloved blinded me.’
‘You’ve grown up a lot.’ She patted his knee. ‘And Jane is lovely. I’m so happy for you.’
‘And I for you.’ He put his arm around her.
‘Really, brother. You have your own Midgardian. Put mine down.’ Loki’s voice came from the doorway and Maia’s eyes went wide. She wasn’t sure she was ready for this.
‘Loki,’ Thor said as he stood, ‘we were just talking about you.’
‘Indeed?’ He asked but Maia realised his voice was guarded, light but with a hint of suspicion.
‘I remarked how lucky you are.’
‘And why is that, specifically?’
Thor turned and looked down at Maia, offering her his hand and an encouraging smile. With a soft sigh she put her glass on the table and took Thor’s hand, letting him draw her to her feet. She turned to see Loki in his black lounge pants, his head tilted to one side, regarding her curiously.
‘Loki,’ she stepped way from Thor towards the man who was once her husband.
‘What is it, love? Something wrong?’ All suspicion melted away as he looked at her, her face concerned, but there was something else, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
‘Not wrong, more…weird.’
‘But good weird.’ Thor added.
Loki looked between them, unsure what to think. Thor was smiling and Maia looked so worried. ‘One of you should perhaps explain.’
‘I realised something, it’s kind of big.’ Maia wasn’t sure how to approach this so she swallowed, deciding to just go for it. ‘Loki, I am, I was, Sigyn.’
Loki felt the colour drain from his face as in the blink of an eye the woman before him changed to become a vision he had not seen for years, the woman he had loved and lost and the woman he had just developed feelings for merged into one as though a curtain had been pulled back. Maia still stood before him but he could see her for what she was, for who she was. Before him was the woman he loved, both of them, one in the same.
‘Sigyn?’ He asked simply, his voice soft and tremulous. Maia nodded, unsure how he was taking it. ‘Holy Valhalla.’ He murmured as he took a step towards her, his speed increasing until he reached her and, cupping her face in his hands, he kissed her as tears rolled down his cheeks.
Thor left them, knowing Loki had taken this well and feeling all the better for it. His brother deserved happiness and now he knew the truth and had another chance at it.



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