Loki waited in the living area once he was showered and dressed, leaving Maia to get ready alone, which gave her the extra time she wanted to try something different with her hair. As Sigyn she remembered being able to fasten the top and back of her hair up in a loop with small braids connecting from the front, and after a little trying she was able to replicate it. It took a little longer than she had hoped but the look on Loki’s face when she came out of the bedroom in the champagne dress and heels was worth it.
Loki couldn’t actually speak for a full minute. The outfit was as stunning as he remembered, the shoes making him think private things of her legs in the pale but shimmering hose, and the coppery make up to match, but her hair…it floored him. She was still the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in all the nine realms, his heart reminding him of so many memories and what he thought he had lost so long ago, but here she stood before him, looking nervous and fiddling with the lace of her dress.
‘Did I get it right?’ She touched the back of her hair gently as he came towards her with an amazed look on his face.
‘Truly delectable.’ He ran his fingers over the braids at her temple in a featherlight touch so as not to ruin it.
‘It was harder than I remember.’ She admitted.
‘Well, your hair is a little shorter, petal.’
‘Maybe that’s it, and I’m out of practice.’
‘It will soon come back.’ He stepped behind her and examined the back. It was extremely neat for a first attempt, the braids even and no ends visible. ‘Tell me, my sweet Sigyn, did you do this for me?’
‘About ninety-five percent was for you. The other five percent was proving to myself I still could. I’d forgotten how much it makes your arms ache.’
‘I am honoured by your consideration.’ He said as he wrapped his arms around her from behind. ‘And by your poor arms.’
‘They’ll survive.’ She closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of him pressed against and around her.
‘Would you like a glass of wine, my princess?’
‘Do we have time?’
‘Enough.’ He kissed her hair before letting her go and walked to the table where he already had a bottle of red wine breathing. He poured it into two wine glasses and offered her one.
‘To date night?’ He suggested.
‘Date night.’ She replied before they both drank some.
Maia wasn’t a big fan of red wine but she was beginning to think that was because the only stuff she had tried was cheap and it had put her off trying it again until Loki had offered it to her before the party, and both that and this were extremely palatable with none of the vinegary overtones she had come to expect.
‘Where do you keep finding all the nice wine?’ She asked. ‘Because I’ve never been a red drinker but you’re quickly converting me.’
‘Tony’s private cellars. I’m sure he shall not even notice.’
‘You’re stealing Tony’s wine?’ She laughed.
‘I have yet to see him have a single glass. He is much more a supposedly hard liquor man.’
‘As long as you don’t get caught. I’d hate to see you thrown in jail for grand theft merlot.’
‘And if I were incarcerated for my petty theft? Would you visit me?’
‘I’ll bring you a file in a cake or something.’ She winked at him.
‘You are too kind.’ He chuckled.
Ten minutes later there was a knock at the door and an agent, who first gave Maia another phone, compliments of Mr Stark, offered to escort them to their date. They followed him through the hallways arm in arm and realised the corridor ahead was dimly lit. The closer they got they noticed the normal strip lighting was off and fairy lights hung from the walls, showing the way.
‘This is pretty.’ Maia commented quietly then glanced at Loki as she realised she could hear classical music getting louder as they approached what would be their destination. He shrugged, he had had nothing to do with this.
Rounding a corner they found a waiter standing by an open door, holding a tray containing two mimosas. He offered them a glass each then waved them into the room. Inside stood another waiter with a tray of canapés and a small but well stocked bar with its own barman.
‘Wow, considering how ticked off with us he is, Tony really pulled out all the stops.’ Maia remarked.
‘I am impressed yet also surprised he is not here chaperoning.’ Loki released her arm and took one of the petite canapé tartlets, offering her a bite, which she took.
‘Mmm, it’s good.’ She nodded approvingly before he ate the other half.
‘Nothing but the best.’ Tony’s voice came from behind them and they turned to find him in a full tuxedo coming through the right of a set of double doors.
‘And, there he is.’ Loki commented as he approached.
‘Looking good, you two.’ Tony looked between them. ‘Listen, I just want to say my piece and I’ll get out of your hair. I wanted to say I’m sorry for how I acted earlier. It came as a bit of a shock, not to mention the whole reincarnation thing sounded a bit whacked out, but you know what? It’s working for the two of you so go for it.’
‘That’s a pretty significant change of heart.’ Maia frowned at him. ‘What happened? Bump to the head?’
‘Funny, CB, but no. Thor explained things a little better, and while I think you two talking about marriage already is a bit soon, I think you’re good together. Just don’t do anything rash.’
Maia narrowed her eye at him. ‘Really, are you feeling okay? Because that sounded like Tony Stark just admitted he was wrong.’
Loki laughed and Tony pulled a face. ‘One time offer, Ruby, take it or leave it.’
‘I’ll take it.’ She smiled warmly. ‘And thanks.’
‘Don’t mention it.’ He waved his hand dismissively. ‘Now, are you ready for the main event of your date?’
Loki glanced down at Maia. ‘Are we?’
‘I think so.’ She nodded.
‘In that case,’ Tony turned back the way he had come in, ‘if you’d be so kind as to follow me.’
He led them to the doors and opened them both, revealing a private screening room with gently sloping floor leading to eight rows of pairs of large leather recliners, all facing a screen that was far too big to be called a TV.
‘Sit wherever you want, unallocated seating with it just being the two of you. There will be an intermission when refreshments will be served, drinks are available throughout the performance and try not to make the seats too sticky.’
‘I was impressed until that last one.’ She wrinkled her nose.
‘Don’t deny it’s tempting.’ He gave her a knowing look.
‘You are the worst usher ever. No tip for you.’ She waved a finger at him as she blushed. The recliners were spacious enough they could share easily and Loki did have a habit of not keeping his hands to himself, not that she was complaining, but much more and she wouldn’t be able to walk, let alone anything else.
‘Never known anyone blush like you, Rosie.’ Tony smiled. ‘Anyway, enjoy the show, kids.’ And with that he left, closing the doors behind him.
‘How many of these seats do you think we can abuse before the intermission?’
‘I think it’d be a bigger challenge to see how long you can go between having sex.’ She raised an eyebrow at him. ‘Because at the rate you’re going you’re going to wear me out in a month.’ He gave her a smug look as he wrapped his arm around her, pulling her to him. ‘Or, you know, less.’
‘I will not break you, sunbeam, but I will ruin you for other men.’
‘I can handle that.’ She shrugged. ‘So long as you give me adequate recovery time at some point.’ She tilted her head right back to look up at him.
‘Fear not, we shall enjoy whatever performance Anthony has chosen for us and then retire. I know today has taken its toll on you and I plan on holding you for as long as you need to recover.’
‘Tha…’ He kissed her before she could say it and she giggled as she remembered his request a kiss be his thanks.
‘Let us take our seats, beloved.’
They decided on the front row and, as she thought he might, Loki pulled her into his lap rather than be in separate chairs. He reclined the back and raised the feet, positioning her diagonally in his arms so she could rest her head on his shoulder, his arms around her. Their drinks were replenished and the lights dimmed.
When the opening shot of a stage filmed during a live performance appeared Maia was suddenly paying more attention.
‘I think that’s the Globe Theatre.’ She said in a hushed voice and Loki chuckled.
‘We’re the only ones here, dove, no need to whisper.’
She rolled her eyes, realising he had a point, as the title screen appeared, announcing a performance of Twelfth Night by The Royal Shakespeare Company.
‘Did you tell Tony?’ She looked at him and he shook his head.
‘Either sheer luck or, more likely, Natasha saw the book you were reading when she packed your bag.’
‘Makes sense.’ She nodded and they settled in to watch the first act.
The play was one of the best versions Maia had ever seen, with a star studded yet traditional all male ensemble, but by the time of the intermission she was ready to stretch her legs. She started to straighten to get up but Loki’s arm tightened around her.
‘You can’t tell me you don't need to stretch. Your legs must be asleep by now.’
‘Just one more moment, precious one.’ He leant to the side and took out his phone. ‘I don’t believe we have indulged in Darcy’s hobby of “selfie taking” yet.’
She smiled as she sat back in his arms. ‘It’s true, we haven’t.’
She helped him set up the front facing camera and with his long arms he was able to easily take several decent shots, the last one of which he pressed his lips to her cheek. They looked at them together and she had him send them to her. She wanted that last one as her wallpaper on her new phone. Loki righted the chair and she got carefully to her feet, stretching as Loki stood beside her.
‘I’m going to freshen up.’ She told him.
‘I will do the same. Can I also get you another beverage, love?’ He asked as he fell into step beside her.
‘Orange juice, I think, please.’
They both went in opposite directions to freshen up and Maia checked her make up in the vanity. She leant forward and wiped under her eye in a quick smudge check but as she straightened she caught sight of a dark figure in the corner of the room beside her own reflection. She jumped and spun.
‘Sorry, I didn’t…’ The words halted on her lips as she realised no one was there, she was still alone, but she was sure she had seen something.
Her heart was racing in her chest and the room suddenly seemed oppressive, like the atmosphere was pressured. She bolted for the door, unaware of the invisible eyes in the mirror watching her go.
Maia all but fell out of the ladies room, the door slamming inwards, drawing Loki’s attention from where he stood at the bar, Maia’s startled gaze making him frown.
She cleared her throat and straightened up, brushing down her dress to compose herself but she couldn’t hide the fear in her eyes.
‘What’s wrong, sweet one?’ He asked as she instantly wrapped her arms around his waist, her breath leaving her in a trembling sigh.
‘Weird experience. Thought I saw someone. Damn imagination.’
‘Saw someone?’ He continued to frown worriedly at her.
‘In the mirror. Swore someone was there, but turned around and nothing. Probably tiredness playing tricks me.’
‘Perhaps. All the same, I would check.’
‘No, you’re not.’ She looked at him in alarm before turning to the barman. ‘Could you just check there’s no one in the ladies room for me, please?’
He looked a little confused by the request but went to do as he was asked anyway.
‘He will not know if there’s a magical presence.’ Loki argued. ‘I should check.’
‘If you really think that there’s something to it you shouldn’t.’ She didn’t let him go. ‘It’s probably nothing but I don’t want you sucked into the mirror.’
‘Your concern warms me, love.’ He stroked a hand over her hair. ‘If it worries you so, I won’t go in.’
‘Uh uh.’ He reminded her with a small smile.
‘Fine.’ She pushed up and kissed him, leaning on him. ‘I’m still not letting you in there, even if I am seeing things.’
The barman came back out and confirmed there was no one there, which didn’t help either of their worries, but Loki was determined not to let paranoia ruin their date.
From the refreshments put out they chose some fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, then returned to their seat for the second half of the show. Nothing out of the ordinary happened but it was obvious some dark, metaphorical cloud hung over them, bringing tension that wasn’t there before. As much as they enjoyed the second act there was something relieving about returning to their apartment and the safe spells erected there.