The Hypocrite

The first time she sees him he is in this grand, glass prison. He moves around as though it is his; and truly an untrained eye could gladly call him its master. She sits there and his fingers dance near the edge, never quite coming in contact with that almost-mirror which sends back her horrified expression.

Then, they whisper against the edge and she knows that the cage is supposed to drop, that he is to disappear with it, but he does not.

He continues to exist, the world goes on, and another hour crawls by. He smiles and she stares back.

Jane doesn't press the alarm button.

Neither does she scream, or ask.

It's futile.

"Magic?" she mouths.

"Only for you," he answers.

And he is mocking her.

He tells her that he meant to visit her.

She asks why. He doesn't specify.

His curiosity has been quelled. He reverts to a quiet a manipulator, and ceases being the rude oracle to her.

Loki always knows what she has done the day before. He doesn't always tell her, but when he does her blood freezes.

For now, he's calm. It is not good, but she prefers it.

The overpowering joy of Thor's arrival on Earth - or Midgard, Jane concedes for it to be a second name – quickly vanishes. Hastily, it waves her goodbye before she has the opportunity to open her embrace to it. No occasion to savor it, no chance to taste its unique flavour. Would his kiss have been tender and long, or hectic and swift in its urgency to end so the man could attend to matters more important? She can't help but wonder, and that very wonder tears at the now-present rips of old scars. Maybe not that old, maybe even quite recent. Fact is, she had the time to heal and get back on her feet – no more.

He left to fight with The Avengers, told her he would have to go back to Asgard afterwards. She knows his actions and words are noble, but still resents him.

Why can't you stay, she wants to ask him. Why can't you stay for me ? Because his life is elsewhere; he has no place here. He is fond of her, perhaps even as infatuated as she, but he is a stranger on this ground.

She still wants to brand him a coward, but bites her tongue. She is being childish and petulant as he is defending her home. Grow up, she has to grow up. Suddenly it's difficult.

When she pulls a chair to ease down on before the cage, he does the same. Loki, she wishes to speak his name, Loki. For it sounds so foreign in her mind and she wants to try it aloud now; showcase her dominance in the immediate context.

Instead he says hers, "Jane Foster."

She doesn't want to look at him.

"He is back then."

"Yes. You will be gone soon," she says, and smiles. A tiny grin which slightly bares her teeth to him.

"Excited?" He grins in return. "I understand."

"Oh, yes."

She has a security pass, and therefore access to this part of the headquarters. Fury doesn't object even though his glares are disapproving. He talks to her, and they want to get out as much information out of him as possible. Scientific facts, working theories about magic, his plans as to how he wanted to take over – pretty much anything that is inside his head.

At Natasha Romanoff, he barks. At Jane Foster, he laughs. And when he laughs, he does so for a longer period.

S.H.I.E.L.D knows its basic arithmetic.

She is ordered to return.

The fourth time, he greets her. Only now, he spits elegant insults while hiding behind an impressive, opaque mask of indifference.

She knows he can't be apathetic; at least, not entirely. His brother is concerned, and therefore he is ablaze with pleasure. A deplorable incident of the Thunderer is his delight – the healing balm he rubs into his wounds. And so many of those he has.

"He loves you," he murmurs.

She hears him, but shakes her head. "What did you say?"

"Come closer," Loki orders. "Come closer, Jane Foster."

She doesn't know why she obeys. Actually, she does. He is talking of Thor and of Love. Overpowering, encompassing Love. The two meeting in a same sentence – no matter how silver the tongue that uttered it is – creates a warmth she cannot ignore and craves. And so she nears the glass.

He leans forward. She does too. Her forehead doesn't meet his for he is far too tall for that. Jane opts to lock eyes with his armour. He still wears it as though he is some great knight, and is to always be prepared for battle. Perhaps he simply doesn't want to take it off, perhaps he doesn't have the magic to and fears departing with it. It would be seized, and he'd be left defenseless.

She doesn't really care, she simply needs something to distract herself from his harsh breathing. It is magnified by the dozen of microphones scattered around the room.

"How do you know?" Jane asks him. "How can you be sure?"

"He loves you, but he will leave you," Loki chooses to tell her instead. "Oh yes, he is precisely how he appeared in your dreams: gentle and selfless, but ultimately so altruistic he'll sacrifice his happiness so the realm of Asgard may bask in it." He sees that she's closed her eyes, and adds more forcefully, "And yours as well."

It's too much. It hurts too much.

She knows him to be the trickster and the God of Lies, and that what he says is meant only to hurt – but somehow she can hear a distant ring in his affirmations, a far-away echo of truth.

It scares and pains her more than Thor's hurried leave.

She storms out, but makes sure she is silent.

He knows. He knows everything.

It doesn't surprise her, but she is scared still. So terrified she begins to tremble as he recounts to her her own experiences.

"Cried and cried and cried," he chants, staring at her. "In your pillow, trying to muffle the sobs and refusing to talk to anyone about those dark circles under your eyes the morning after."

"A clever deduction," she retaliates, her voice hoarse, "based on observations. A child can do the same."

"You wanted to call your mother as well," he murmurs. "A pity, you thought an instant after, that she is dead. Accident? Am I correct? Yes, I am. Drowning. Unpleasant way to go."

"Shut up," Jane finds herself saying. "Shut up, shut up now."

"She thought she could breathe, but really water had already claimed her lungs as its domain. Nothing left to do – only gasp, and gasp, and gasp, and gasp..."

She has never left him so abruptly. The chair falls to the ground, and she staggers backwards, tears making her vision blurry as she struggles to regain some semblance of composure.

"And gasp, and gasp, Jane," he continues the lilt as she runs away.



She hasn't tried his name yet.

It's been two months.

S.H.I.E.L.D is pleased with her. Apparently, the information concerning his manipulation of the tesseract has come in handy. A special group of engineers and researchers are now working on a Earth-bound replica of the cursed cube. She keeps her lips pursed, detesting the idea. Why desire a thing that can destroy everything there is ? The answer is simple, really, but it doesn't make it acceptable.

That day, she is quiet. So is Loki.

When she at last opens her mouth, he interrupts her.

"The Ragnarök," he says, pensive, "is mine to cause."

"Ragnarök ?" Jane repeats, frowning. She is rusty on her Norse mythology and the word he so reverently spoke does not seem to be technical jargon.

"The end of the world, foretold and feared."

She knows what he is speaking of. "You think that what they're doing can become that dangerous ?"

He shrugs. "No, but you are still lending a hand in digging the common grave. It's time to get a better shovel, Jane Foster. After soft earth comes rock."

She doesn't understand him. He is centuries old and has seen generations die and their offspring make of wild reveries physical and authentic devices which no longer surprise. Why he isn't bothered with her yet is beyond Jane. She doesn't question it too, because, truly, would it make a difference ? She still would be forced to come.

They do not speak of Thor. Not anymore. His well of reprimands is empty, there is nothing left for him to throw at her that would burn. And she has grown a thicker skin of her own.

Maybe not thick. Maybe that is not the right way to put it. Maybe she just looks at her feet now, whenever with him, to avoid hurt – and that makes her seem strong. So unyielding, she appears.

One day he tells her, leaning towards the glass as though she is his confidante, "Tomorrow." By his lips it is a simple word turned strange.

"What ?" Jane presses him for an explanation.

Coming close has became a habit. He always lowers his voice, and she cannot hear him. She rationalizes the proximity as necessary. She tells S.H.I.E.L.D that; for herself, she comes up with far more complex justifications at night.

It makes it easier to live with herself. Everything is already black and difficult, she doesn't wish to become the girl who sympathizes with the enemy.

His hand passes through the glass. No alarm, and no disturbances – and it cuts through the compact surface like a knife through butter.

She gasps. The action becomes a thought and that thought a word she can clearly see.


And gasp, and gasp, and gasp-

It's a challenge to breathe, and she prays with her heart to slow just a little bit down.

Loki hasn't left the cage, his hand alone wonders through the air they now share. As he inhales, she mimics him – they're equals now. Her ground is his to walk upon, and his breath is hers to taste.

He grips her by the neck and she yelps, a newborn and blind – and so cruelly unwanted – kitten whose head is forced in a bucket of water. The glass doesn't register on her skin, Jane doesn't feel it. She is however bitten by cold. It gnaws at everything she is, but it doesn't come from the cell. It is he who is cold. Loki.

"You will be miserable," he says, and he is forced to look down at her to meet her eyes.

"Tomorrow ?" Jane stutters.

"No," he shakes his head, "not tomorrow. Tomorrow is my day."

She doesn't know why he does it.

Loki kisses her.

Cold, cold lips, and an unmistakable hint of blood. He doesn't let go of her, and when she beats her hands against his chest, he reciprocates by crashing her head against something hard.

Oh, the glass is back.

He presses his forehead to hers, tugs at her hair so she doesn't go running. She trembles, but he digs his long, thin fingers into her shoulders and she stops.

There is blood on her lips; on her hair as well.

No one knows what occurred.

Also, it is tomorrow.

She tries not to go, but she is paranoid. One action defying the course of the ordinary, and she will be suspected, put on trial. S.H.I.E.L.D knows everything.

He asks her how she is, if she is quite well. He doesn't enquire as to how her head feels. Jane keeps massaging the sore, unhealed, spot with her fingers.

"Come here," she hears him say.

Not again. She can't. "No."

"So be it," he concedes.

The glass is there, but he walks through it. She runs to the door only because it is the human thing to do, the brave decision. It has been sealed by him, this Jane comprehends, but to sit in that chair and accept the only outcome is cowardice. She doesn't want to be a coward.

He is not gentle as he seizes her, but then everything is black and she doesn't even know where they are anymore.

The second time is as rough. She wonders if he is capable of being tender at all. Her lips bleed a little, and he has presented her with a necklace of bruises.

Her name is on the television, and accomplice to the terrorist her official title. Why isn't Thor here by now ? Surely he must know she is no traitor.

She is in a house the outside of which she refuses to see. The world reeks of destruction and pain – because of him, because of Loki. Somehow, remaining in her large bedroom and denying reality is easier.

He drags her outside that day, gripping only a little of her hair. It's an improvement, it doesn't hurt as much as when he decides to grasp handfuls of it. They are standing on top of some building and people are looking up. His voice is contained and quiet, but they hear everything.

Someone tries to fire at him and the bullet does an odd little dance, then finds home in the chest of the man who first sent it. Jane cries out as scarlet spills on the pavement. Next to her, Loki is smiling.

This is Germany. He has returned to where he has first been captured.

It is now kneeling at his feet.

How ironic.

"He has gone to Asgard," Loki informs her of Thor's fate one day.

"You're lying," she murmurs back.

"I am not. Odin is ill, and his throne is to be protected. For now, Midgard can burn – it is not important."

New York does burn.

He waits until the prototype is complete and blows it up. The power surge wipes away families that have not yet been evacuated. Bodies of children, arms and legs missing, are shown on the big screens.

Countries seek peace with him, alliances are broken. Everyone wants to protect their skin alone.

When she learns of it, Jane cries. She knows that he sees her, but says nothing.

Loki doesn't need her. She is a nuisance, a most unpleasant burden.

Thor has pledged his love to her. But he is gone to Asgard without a word of goodbye.

His brother kept her.

She is well aware of the fact that she could not be safer, given the circumstances. He shouts and his temper is raw, but he doesn't hurt her.

Thor left her to wander the streets of war on her own.

She doesn't know what to make of it.

When he kisses her again, she doesn't resist.

She had been pleading with him for the lives of men aboard military jets. At first, he waved her off; then, grew mad. His verbal frustrations bordered on physical as he immobilized her and yelled.

His promises of ending her never ceased to petrify.

But then he said something. "There is always one. Every once in a while, you have to let someone go."

"Please," she told him.

"Or else the game ends too quickly," Loki finished.

She couldn't ask for more. Not with him.

And now they stand in silence, his hands lost in her hair.

He kisses her hungrily, and his teeth clack against hers. She grimaces but doesn't attempt to stop him. His breath is everywhere; in her mouth, in her lungs, within her. His cold is as well. Jane tries to get some air of her own, but he doesn't let her, lips coming back to hide hers from the world.

"Loki," she manages when his hands are at her waist and going down, "Loki."

His name.

She doesn't feel different saying it. It doesn't make him more human.

"The Ragnarök," he whispers against her cheek, holding her still against the wall, "tastes sweet."

For her, the taste is not unpleasant.

In the distance, there are screams. Loki laughs as he repeats that gesture from a lifetime ago – pressing his forehead to hers. He chuckles again and there's an explosion.

"You lied." Jane shivers. Her mind seems to refuse to understand what just happened.


But he is all there is left for her. There's no going back.

She grips at his shoulders for support and he doesn't let go.