Finally changed again Maia called Charles on the landline and explained her cell was temporarily out of commission. Again. He had cleared his schedule and would travel to the compound the next morning and Maia informed FRIDAY to expect him.
Loki took Maia not to a gym as she had expected when he said training area, but a large hanger where The Avengers trained together without fear of doing too much damage.
‘If I ever get the hang of this I’m taking you to the Danger Room.’
‘Danger Room doesn’t sound like somewhere I would willingly take you.’ He frowned at her.
‘You’ll love it.’ She squeezed his waist. ‘It’s where the X-Men train. Holographic simulations you can kick the crap out of.’
‘That doesn’t sound too dangerous.’
‘You can dial it up to do serious damage. Even you would find it a challenge.’
‘If I ever have this cuff removed I look forward to it, however I still don’t like the thought of you being exposed to such a thing.’
She smiled at his unnecessary worry. ’I trained there, admittedly not on as high a level as recruits who could use powers, but if I do get a hold on them it would be a good place to see what I can do in a controlled environment.’
‘I believe you to be capable of all you were and more, petal. May I ask what your training consisted of, if not magic?’
‘Hand to hand. A little weapons training, mostly defensive because I’d never be on active duty.’
‘That relieves me somewhat. I feared for you every time we entered battle together.’
‘But you never stopped me.’ She reminded him. ‘And I didn’t say I’d never had to use the training I got at X-Manor, just that I never had any missions.’ She walked away from him, looking around the huge room but he caught her wrist and she looked back at his concerned face.
‘How did you use your training?’
‘Besides beating up ex-boyfriends?’ She smirked but he gave her an admonishing glare. ‘Loki, everyone who works at the school knows the emergency procedures. It’s often attacked, one way or another, and as a teacher I was charged with helping the kids evacuate. You can’t do that and not get involved in some conflict.’
‘Then I would insist you do not return for anything other than a visit.’
‘You know my placement here is only currently temporary? It’s not just if I want to stay but if they want to keep me on.’ She said as he stepped into her. ‘And insisting I don’t do something is pretty much guaranteed to get me to do it.’
‘Still stubborn.’ He shook his head.
‘Independent, and I won’t be bullied into anything. X-Manor has been my home for over a decade.’ She argued. ‘They’re family to me.’
‘Family is not the be all and end all.’
‘Your mother would disagree.’
‘If she still breathed.’
Maia’s heart clenched as his words sank in. Frigga was dead? She had, as Sigyn, known Frigga since she was a girl, she had once called her the daughter she had never had, and she was gone?
Loki watched as Maia stumbled back, her bottom lip trembling as the colour drained from her face. She didn’t know. ‘Love, I’m sorry. I thought…’
‘She’s…she’s dead?’ Her voice came high and tight as her eyes filled with tears. She felt as though her heart was breaking.
‘I assumed you knew.’ He said softly as he tried to take her in his arms but she pushed him away, taking two steps back before turning and walking across the hanger as tears streamed down her cheeks.
Loki wanted to comfort her, but she had walked away so he would give her her space, though it pained him to see her cry. If he had had any doubt in his mind about how he felt, it melted away. He could not bear this. He had hurt her, unintentionally, but still.
Maia’s head buzzed as she cried, her hands clenching into fists. Frigga had been their greatest supporter as a couple, beside Thor. She helped Odin see sense over their betrothal, and she was gone. Grief and frustration boiled over in her, she screamed, dropping to her knees as power jolted through her, a cold burn starting in her chest that flooded through her veins and out.
Loki braced his feet, sliding backwards as the ice cold power drew his Jotun form to the surface, his breath fogging in the air. The initial force of the power stopped but it continued to flow from her, ebbing with each sob that racked her body and snow began to fall around her. Loki could bear it no more; he walked carefully on the slick floor, the power that flowed from her bitter and he could not have hidden his Jotun side if he tried. He sat beside her with his knees bent and put his hand on her back, guiding her towards him. She all but collapsed in his arms, curling up between his legs with her cheek pressed to his chest, her hands grasping at his shirt. He held her close as she cried, wrapping as much of himself around her as he could.
Her tears began to subside into small gasps and she leant back from him, her cheeks stained and eyes red.
‘When?’ She asked, her voice broken.
‘Just before the convergence.’
She nodded. She remembered when that was. ‘How?’
He wiped his thumbs over her cheeks with his fingers in her hair before answering. ‘Dark elves attacked Asgard. She died protecting Jane.’
‘Our Jane?’ She checked and he nodded. It was then she realised he was in his Jotun form, blue skinned and red eyed. ‘You’re blue.’ She murmured as tears still silently edged down her face and Loki tried to catch each one.
He smiled sympathetically at her. ‘Your doing, love. As is the snow.’
‘Snow?’ She swiped at her eyes as she sat up fully, noticing the flakes settling on his hair, then the rest of the room, the snow heavier where they sat, the entire room coated in a thick layer of ice.
‘Shit, sorry. How do I..?’ She left the sentence unsaid.
‘Do not let it aggrieve you, dear heart. Your power is growing and your emotions in turmoil. Come, sit, we will tame the storm together.’
She sniffed as she let him turn her to sit with her back to his chest, his arms over hers, cheeks together.
‘I’m sorry I broke the news in such a way, precious one. I forget sometimes you do not have the knowledge of the rest of the team.’ She nodded but didn’t speak. She was more concerned with the fact she was creating so much cold and didn’t know how to stop it. ‘Can you feel your power, sweet?’
‘I don’t know what I’m feeling.’ She whispered.
‘I know what you are feeling.’ He sighed sadly. ‘It’s an empty sensation, yet painful at the same time. You feel nauseated and hurt, and above all injustice that this happened.’
Maia listened to his words, his emotions shown in his tone, and while he had had some time to get used to the fact, it would still hurt. Grief was never fully extinguished for someone you loved, no matter what people said, it never got easier, the initial shock left but with it went a part of you and a new chapter of your life began without that person.
‘I’m sorry, Loki, it was a bit of a shock, but I really have no right to…’
‘You have every right.’ He interrupted her. ‘My mother may not have known Maia but she loved Sigyn as one of her own. You are still the girl she adored, and more. You are allowed the first throes of grief. I handled it no better myself.’
‘I wish we could have faced it together.’ She whispered as she realised her tears were beginning to freeze on her face.
‘If you had not been lost to me a good many things would have been different, I don’t doubt.’ He kissed her cheek. ‘I know this is quite a thing for me to say, given my current form, but you are chilled, beloved. You must try and release the grip the power has on you. If you seek you may find a tense layer like a cold blanket of mourning. Push it away. You do not give in to it, you are stronger than this, you have control, you rule over this.’
She closed her eyes and could feel what he meant. She could feel a dense pressure all around her, oppressive to the point of almost painful. She tried to shrug it off, to push it away, but to no avail.
‘It won’t budge.’ She shook her head. ‘It’s too hard.’
'Don't panic, dove, we will try something else. Instead of pushing it away, breathe it in. The power is yours and yours alone, it came from inside you and you can bring it back. Breathe along with me, call it back a little at a time. Nice and slowly, breathe in...and out.'
She did as he suggested, matching her breathing to his, and the power sank into her willingly. The tension Loki could feel coiled through her muscles seemed to lessen and she slumped slightly, exhausted. Loki moved her in his arms so he could see her face. She was pink, puffy and tired but still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
She nodded as the last of the snow fell. 'I think so.'
'You have much to be proud of.' He kissed her forehead. 'But you now deserve some reprieve. No more toying with magic today.'
He helped her to her feet on the snow covered ice and they made it to the stairs with only a minimal amount of slipping. Getting up them was slightly harder and they clung to the handrail. Once at the top Maia looked out over the ice coated room. It looked like Christmas had come early.
'What do we do about this?' She asked as Loki took her hand.
'Let nature take its course. The room has adequate drainage, although,' he waved his hand and a slippery floor sign appeared in the doorway, 'forewarned is forearmed.' He pulled her out into the hallway, his Jotun form slowly retreating. 'Let us go and find hot drinks and a blanket for you.'
'That sounds pretty good.' She smiled, but there was a sadness in her eyes. The news had hit her hard and Loki considered what else he may have to break to her easily.