With a Grain of Salt

It's been only a year or so since Loki's war on New York. But a year is a long time. A very long time. And Mia has found he attack hard to forget. Now the Asgardian has returned to finish what he started and is planning on enlisting the help of Mia, whether she likes it or not.

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4. Involving Practice

A few short days later, the training would have to begin. Mia's soreness had worn off a bit, but there was still the slightest tension in her shoulders as she stood on the rooftop of the hotel where she still stayed. She found Loki waiting, standing on the building's ledge, illuminated by the lights of the city around both him and Mia. Before she realized it, she found herself walking towards him and taking her place beside him. She was careful not to get too close. She hadn't touched him since their previous conversation in the hotel room. Actually, they had managed to keep their paths separate for the most part. Now, however, the warmth of the lights seemed to draw her closer to him, as if it humanized him in a way. They stood like that for some minutes, not saying anything.

"Why do you hate us so much?" she suddenly questioned, breaking the silence. She looked up at him, seeming to search his eyes for an answer. The question had been sitting in her mind long before that day, but it still seemed to come out of nowhere.

"I'm sorry?"

"Humans," she explained. "You came down here and made it a point to scare us and destroyed half a city in the process. So why do you hate us?"

"I can see you tend to think in black-and-white," he said, smiling down at her condescendingly. "My actions weren't fueled by some sort of hatred against you all."

"So you did it because...?"

"Have you ever stopped and taken a good look at your modern society? You claim to be advanced, but are you really? I mean to rule, not destroy."

"How nice." Hard as she tried, she couldn't mask the sarcasm dripping from her words. "So what am I here for? I'm human, too."

"Every society is built on something. Conquering comes first; ruling follows." He turned and walked from the ledge. Something inside of her beckoned her to follow.

"I don't know how much help I'm going to be to you," she admitted. "Even if I get better at this...thing."

"Practice, then," he said, taking Mia's hands into his cold ones. "That is why you're here, is it not?" The chill of his palms began to travel up her skin and made her shiver. He paused and focused his eyes on hers.

"Practice what?" she asked. "You seem to know more about this than me. I don't even know what it is, I mean--" The images from her dreams crept back into her mind, flashing every time she made an attempt at speaking. The power was crawling in her blood. She was going to kill people. A lot of people. "I can't control it; I just know there's this...power. It just..happens. And then it just stops sometimes. I don't know when it's going to happen or when it suddenly goes away."

"It feels as though the power has you rather than you having the power." It should have been a question, but he stated it definitely, as if it were he who had Mia's strange gift.

"That's it exactly," she mouthed, mostly to herself.

"You need to learn control," he replied. Cold hands ghosted over her arms and rested on her shoulders and the logical part of her screamed silently within her. He took a step away from her. "Show me what you can do." She held a breath deep in her lungs and reached within herself for the burning sensation she'd felt before. The feeling that once seemed to threaten to burst from her skin now seemed distant, unattainable. Her body tensed. Clenched fingers drew crescents into her palms. "Having trouble?"

"I'm fine." It was a quick response, spoken forcefully, and was clearly meant to convince no one but herself.

"You don't believe that, and neither do I." She exhaled.

"It isn't working." That much was obvious. "I guess it's adrenaline, or something."

"Then you'll find a way to make it work." Yet another question spoken as a definite statement. He began to close the distance between them and, after her subsequent steps backwards, she found that her heels rested on nothing but air. His hands grabbed her neck suddenly. Her balance shaken, she tilted backwards. The only thing between Mia and a fall to her death was a five finger death grip. He brought his face closer, and Mia noticed a scent of spearmint.

"You're not going to drop me," she managed to choke out.

"Ooh-- Is that a challenge?" His words came softly, and his grip on her weakened a bit.

"Wait," she breathed, grabbing onto his arm for support. The sound and sensation of Mia's heartbeat moved from her chest to her ears- warm and loud at the same time. The familiar sensation returned to her skin. Her breathing became elevated, and the same haze around her vision returned. She shut her eyes. She felt Loki's arm encircle her and pull her forward, off the edge. He let go of her neck, but she refused to open her eyes. She didn't need to. She could feel the smoke licking at her, wrapping itself around her.

"You're hiding from it," he noticed. She forced her eyes open. The black haze around her vision was thicker now, and, almost immediately, she could feel a headache approaching. "Now stop." She looked at him in incredulity, but began her attempt anyway. Slow, deep breaths gradually slowed her heart rate, and the blur faded from her vision. She offered a small smirk.

"How's that for control?" she said, still steading her breathing.

"Very poor, actually." The smirk dropped, and a look of exhaust took its place.

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