Of Thorns and Lightning

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Seeing Double

“Maize deserved a father. Or at least someone who was willing to try.”

♦️

Maize yet again couldn’t sleep. She had gotten a few hours of rest, but she woke up for good at 2:15 in the morning. Her stomach was growling, and she was nervous, she was scheduled to formally meet Thor at nine in the morning. She tossed the covers off and exited her room, and she eventually found herself in the dark kitchen where she grabbed a bowl, a spoon, some milk and the only type of cereal in the compound- stale Cheerios in the back of the pantry. The other types of cereal had been devoured by the rest of the residents in just a few days, but Maize took what she could get.

Her feet were cold against the gray slate flooring of the kitchen, and the metal stool sitting at the island wasn’t any warmer. She wished she had known it was cold, she would have taken one of the blankets off of her bed to accompany her. Or at least some socks.

Suddenly, she was joined in the kitchen for a midnight snack. It was William Townsend.

“Oh, hi, William.” Maize greeted in a hushed tone since he was still very much asleep, and she wondered if he was sleepwalking. He was silent for a moment, he paused to take in the situation.

“Why are you stress eating... stale cheerios?” William asked, his eyes barely open and awake. He glanced over at the time displayed in green letters on the microwave; it was 2:35 in the morning.

“Cereal is my comfort food, okay?! This was all we had left, and I’ve already had six bowls, so I’m not feeling at my best.”

“Instead of refilling your bowl, why don’t you just pour milk right into the bag of cereal and use a big spoon?” William suggested, yawning.

“The shame spoon is reserved only for my weakest moments when I’m feeling the lowest, William. Until then, I’m sticking with my system but thanks for your input.” She responded. He nodded and opened the fridge, a blue light was cast on them both, revealing dark purple under-eye circles just for a brief moment. William grabbed a slice of pizza from the mostly empty box and ate it cold, leaning against the fridge.

“Hey, I can get you a box of your favorite cereal that only you have access to for times like this. How does that sound?”

“Better than stale cereal. Thanks, William.” She said gratefully as she got up and put her bowl in the dishwasher.

“Of course.” He responded as she walked towards the door. They exchanged goodnights and Maize headed back to her room. She swiped her card and entered her room, able to fall asleep now that her stomach was full. Her still-warm sheets welcomed her back to bed and embraced her in a cocoon of comfort, just a little too well.

Maize had set her alarm for 7:30 in the morning to give her time to shower and dry her hair as she would get ready for her meeting, but she had slept through each round of snooze and was shaken awake at 8:40 by a frantic Meaghan.

“Maize! Wake up!! Aren’t you meeting Thor in T-minus 20 minutes?!” Meaghan asked once Maize was waking up. Upon hearing this, Maize realized that she was right, and she bolted out of bed.

“Meaghan, what do I wear? I don’t have time to get ready-”

“You brush your teeth and your hair, and I’ll take care of your outfit!” Meaghan commanded. Maize followed along and headed to the bathroom while Meaghan headed to the closet. She whipped open the doors and was presented with a multitude of options, and she finally settled on a red blouse, black jeans and white sneakers with gold accessories for her friend to wear. Meaghan knew Maize wanted to make a good first impression with Thor, but she wasn’t sure if she was supposed to dress nicely or casually, so she picked a safe middle-ground.

Maize came back out of the bathroom with her wavy blonde hair tied half up in a bun and half left down, her face adorned with a touch of makeup to make her look alive and she pulled on the outfit her friend had set out for her. She put gold earrings in her three ear piercings in each ear and slipped on her silver and gold bangle bracelets while Meaghan tied her sneakers. They were soon encapsulated in a cloud of scent, since Meaghan doused the both of them in a floral body spray before running out the door with Maize.

“Where are you supposed to meet him?” Meaghan asked, wanting to get there as fast as possible so her best friend didn’t miss anything.

“Out in the garden!” Maize exclaimed.

“YOU HAVE ALLERGIES!” Meaghan reminded as they ran down the stairs.

"I KNOW!” Maize confirmed, not forgetting how severely allergic she was to the pollen that was bound to be everywhere in the garden.

“Okay, you just need to go out there because if you took anything now it wouldn’t kick in and it would be useless. You’re going to do great, girly!” Meaghan encouraged as they reached the ground floor and opened the door leading out to the greenhouse and garden for Maize to walk through. Maize entered and the door closed behind her and she went to find Thor.

When Meaghan turned around, she bumped into Dike who had just returned from an early morning workout, but he looked pristine. Dike placed a hand on Meaghan’s shoulder to steady them both.

“Good morning, Dike!” She greeted cheerily.

“Hey, Meaghan. What are you doing down here?” Dike asked.

“Oh, I just dropped Maize off to have her first official meeting with Thor and I may or may not spy on her as she does so.” Meaghan answered.

“Well, she left us to our privacy so we should give her the same respect. Though, I am curious as to what it’ll be like.”

“Do you want to eavesdrop with me?” Meaghan asked slyly.

“I’m going to forget you said ‘eavesdrop’ and I’m in.” He agreed, staying with Meaghan and trying their best to inconspicuously look through the glass out to the garden where Maize was approaching Thor.

It didn’t take her very long to realize that she and Thor both had their blonde hair styled the same way, in half a bun and half down but she couldn’t act on making a change because Thor knew of her arrival before he even had to turn around.

“Ah, Maize, you’ve arrived!” He greeted warmly, then turning around.

“Hello, it’s a pleasure to formally meet you. I’ve heard the last time we saw each other, I wasn’t in the best condition.” She chuckled.

“I’m glad to see that you’re feeling better. It was never understood or researched what kinds of complications or effects an earth-born legacy of mine would have while inheriting Asgardian powers since you, in fact, are the first. If there is anything you may need me for or need from me in this process, I will not deny you.” Thor explained, but Maize was biting her tongue and holding back the first sneeze. She knew that if she began, it would be like opening the flood gates and she refused to have an enormous allergy attack in front of Thor during their first meeting when she was in better condition. She wanted to get off on a good foot with him, and she wasn’t going to let anything go wrong at this point. She nodded to show her understanding of what he had spoken to her, but sooner or later she had to let out the sneeze that she had been holding in. It would have to happen.

But it was her nightmare. She didn’t have any tissues and god damn it, she wasn’t going to wipe her forthcoming snot off of her face without one.

“I know we have a lot to discuss and I have much to teach you, but do you have any questions for me that I can answer right now to start things off?” He asked, directing the conversation onto her. It was the worst possible plan for the moment. She had to answer him.

“Oh, I have plenty of questions, but,” she rushed, taking in a large breath of air before the sneezes pushed their way out of her lungs. She held up her pointer finger as a signal to wait as she sneezed uncontrollably into her elbow, trying not to sneeze all over the god of thunder. Meaghan knew it was bound to happen and she laughed; the timing and the scenario just a little ironically funny to her.

“Child, are you alright?” Thor asked, never having seen this before.

“Oh yeah, I’m fine, just give me a second.” She confirmed though it was a bold-faced lie, and she continued to sneeze. The pollen was already making her eyes swell up and become itchy, and Thor determined that a change of venue was in order.

“Why don’t we relocate to inside, Ms. Leto?” He offered, though it was more of a command than an offering. Nonetheless, it was a command Maize did not hesitate to follow and was grateful for the filtered air indoors. Upon hearing this, Meaghan and Dike shifted so that they were walking down the hall with their backs turned to the other pair, trying to cover up their previous actions and make it seem like they were acting somewhat normal.

Maize ducked into the bathroom where she blew her nose and fixed her hair, so she wasn’t completely matching with Thor before she rejoined him in the hallway.

“Are you feeling better?” He asked.

“Very much so, thank you.”

“If you have allergies, why didn’t you say anything before I asked you to meet me in the flower garden?” He questioned.

“I didn’t want to be rude, sir.” She answered simply, leaving out the fact that her morning did not go as planned.

“Oh, that’s not rude, Ms. Leto. Now, your questions?” He shifted once again as they walked into a common room filled with abstractly-shaped chairs that Thor hesitated to sit in. It was almost as if the concept of a bean bag chair was foreign to him, but none of the chair options seemed better. He slowly sank down to meet the chair, his knees nearly hitting his chest. Maize stifled a chuckle and sat in her own bean bag chair.

Maize didn’t hesitate to ask everything that was keeping her awake at night that she hadn’t had the courage to ask or discover the answers to. His answers were direct and concise, though some of his answers alarmed Maize. It was true, she would be given Thor’s full responsibilities and amenities. Just the thought of wielding the hammer scared her and that was far in the future, but an entire planet was a different story to her. She didn’t know if she’d ever be able to ascend to the throne. Not without Thor.

It was almost as if Thor read her mind. He looked at her with a warm and deeply compassionate look and genuinely reassured her.

“Maize, you can do this. I know you can. I have full faith in you and your capabilities. The challenges you will have to overcome are infinite, but you will conquer them with justice and truth. Even if I had a say in who would follow in my footsteps, I wouldn’t have chosen anyone else.”

“Really?” She asked meekly, feeling small in the face of the job ahead of her.

“Really.” He repeated, and Maize ascended from her own bean bag chair to step over to him. Thor struggled to get up from the chair, but Maize grabbed his hands and pulled him up and into a big hug. His large and slightly inhuman frame engulfed her tall and muscular build as if she were the size of a pre-teen, but she felt the most secure and the most confident about her role when his enormous arms were holding her.

“You’re not on your own, Maize. Even when I pass the hammer to you, I will always be there with you.” He spoke as they were still in their embrace.

“And you do know that Dike and your friend Meaghan have been eavesdropping on us the entire time?” He asked.

She nodded into his chest.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

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