author's note. I dunno, man. One day I was staring at a blank screen, and then this happened, originally titled "oh no, what have i done this time." It's kind of a response to the endless Loki/OC fics that aren't remotely in character for him. Also, I don't really like clear-cut redemption stories. That's all. Thanks bye I hope you like this.

word count. 1050

beauty and the beast

He remembers how, at first, he smirked at this breakable little woman whose heart could bleed for any wretched creature it encountered. He expected her to weep for him, swear he was misunderstood, see some illusory good deep inside of him.

He saw her and marveled at how very human it was that S.H.I.E.L.D. provided a healer for their attack dogs. A healer of the body would have had no value to him, but this one dealt in the mind, and he was all too willing to let her break down his enemies' defenses for him. He relished the thought of coaxing their secrets from her tongue, letting those who stood in his way be undone by their own sentiment.

Allow me to introduce myself, he said when she found him at her door for the first time. I am Loki of Asgard.

If she was afraid of him, she hid it. He supposed she could have S.H.I.E.L.D. agents alerted and on the way to her home at the push of a button. Well then, I guess I'm Regina of Brooklyn, she replied, and when he asked if he might come in, she agreed.

He expected her to crumble.

Instead, she struck deep into the invisible wounds he had tried to hide, and like a startled, rabid animal, he struck back. He lost count of how many times he had hurled vitriol at her, how many vile threats he had made in a desperate attempt to keep her out. Sometimes she would fall silent and draw back; sometimes he could tell he'd hit one of her own wounds. And yet, always, she swallowed the poison and spat it back out at him. And, always, he came back to spit it again.

It was a game they played, a strange, sick game of secrets. (Hiding, seeking, the winner takes it all.) She was only a mortal, but she wielded her words like weapons. She might even have been a woman after his own heart, if she weren't just an ant under his boot.

He expected pity from her. He expected excuses, apologies for the wrongdoings that must have made him the way he was, as if he were a broken doll she could fix. She gave him none of those things. The people you've killed had feelings, they had families and lives, she said to him. Her voice was gentle but firm, laying out the facts and leaving him no choice but to look at them. They might have been happy, and you couldn't stand it — I mean, how could they be happy when you were so far from it?

What do you expect from a monster? he asked. He expected her to deny the charge and, like a fool, allow him his delusions, tell him he was no monster, he was good, she knew he was.

You're right, she said. You are a monster. But it's because you choose to be.

(Looking back, he thinks that was the moment where his game went all wrong.)

He tried to escape the inevitable, then. He tried to break her into pieces, tried to burn the bridge to ashes because there was no chance, there was no chance and he knew it. He showed up at her house in the middle of the night asking for a glass of milk, and when she gave it to him, he knocked it to the floor. The glass shattered and the milk washed over the tiles like blood. Clean it up, he demanded, and left when she looked him in the eyes and said, hell no.

When he came around once to find that she'd brought a date back home for coffee, he disguised himself as a small black cat, slipped in through an open window, and set about attacking the man's legs. I'm so sorry about my cat, he's a rescue, she tried to explain as the date left, very, very inbred, not the brightest— And she spent a good hour gifting the god of mischief with a complete list of his godly flaws, and he chuckled agreeably at the lot of them as he made himself at home.

The night that ended up lodged most deeply into his memory, though, was the last night he tried in earnest to make her pity him. If she just pitied him, all of this could end. Pity for a poor lost prince with no home and no family's love, he sneered.

Fuck you, she snapped at him, you had a home and you cut ties with it. You have a family, you idiot, don't you see? Your mother was there for you. Your brother would never leave. And there floated, in the silence, the three unsaid words: not like mine.

(And when he thinks back to that night, Loki remembers how bright her eyes shone. He remembers how he wanted so desperately to reach out and grab hold of her, make sure she was real and she was there, that his chest ached with the effort of keeping it all inside. And he remembers how he never did.)

The day they predicted the future, he said, I could kill you, you know, as he sat at her kitchen table. It would be so easy for him to choke her words, her weapons, from her frail, mortal throat.

She slid a plate of fresh-baked cookies toward him and sat down as well. And this stupid, stubborn girl who saw all of his flaws — she smiled. (Her smile was wry and knowing and fortunately she spoke before he had the chance to think it was beautiful.) No, you won't hurt me, she said with such confidence that he almost laughed. You'd miss me too much.

He did laugh, then. He threw his head back and laughed and said, Don't be a fool.

She grinned in the face of his disbelief, just as she had grinned in the face of his anger and his despair. I bet you'd cry, she said. He took a bite of a cookie, and he promised her that Loki of Asgard would never shed a tear for Regina of Brooklyn as long as she lived.

And in the end, it seems, they were both right.