I apologize in advance for my tendency to overuse words, OOC portrayals, and barely believable plot. I hope you enjoy regardless.

She's laying on her side on the bed, facing him with her knees tucked tight into her body. He's curled up as much as he can in the tight space, his eyes seemingly screwed shut although she knows he's still awake. A damp strand of dark hair slides down the side of his face, resting on the curve of his cheek. She hesitates for only a second before reaching up and tucking it back behind his ear.

The touch startles him – makes him jump and shift beneath her fingers. He's not cold, she muses. Not as cold as she'd thought he'd be.

Why she would have ever wondered that still puzzles her. This man was by all accounts evil and insane, certainly not someone to be wondering (or dreaming) about.

But as her fingers dance down his skin and his eyes fly open like he's never been touched gently before she finds she doesn't particularly care.

She was never one for fitting in, anyway.

He trembles underneath her touch. It doesn't stop, not even when she takes his hand and holds it tight, or even when he grips hers just as hard, nearly crushing the little bones.

When did it get to this point? When did he go from an unwanted burden dropped on her by an ex sort-of-boyfriend to… a person? When did he go from "Thor's Brother" to Loki?

Maybe it was when he watched T.V. with her for the first time, sitting on her raggedy couch in his Asgardian finery and not saying a word about her awful taste in entertainment.

Or her awful cooking.

The one time she had tried to cook them dinner had ended in disaster. Darcy had spit it out immediately and Erik had excused himself to his room without even trying it. Loki, though, had forced down his whole plate full of burnt, tasteless food with slow bites, not a single flinch giving away his true thoughts. Afterwards, he'd thanked her for the meal and even helped her clean the dishes.

No. It was before all that. In the beginning, when she could still say with absolute certainty that she hated him.

'You – all of you – are disgusting, dim-witted fools." He'd spat at them. Back then there had been invisible lines; the couch was their territory and the chair pushed into the corner was his. He'd been sitting on the edge of his seat, glaring at them for laughing to loudly at something on the T.V.

"And you're a maniac, a bastard, and an ass." She'd replied, voice raised.

The ensuing battle of taunts and insults ended with a broken telescope and her apologizing through the door of her newly-built guest bedroom.

"I'm sorry I called you names." She'd said. The words had been hard to force out. "But I'm not sorry I yelled at you. If you're going to be living here you need to respect us. Me. Otherwise, we're not going to respect you."

The next morning, she'd gone into the lab to inspect the damage and had found everything fixed and in its proper place.

/LINEBREAK/

Loki hates Christmas.

Well, he seemed to hate winter in general, but for some reason Jane can't fathom he hates this holiday even more than the season.

He'd like Thanksgiving, she thinks as she watches Loki scowl at Darcy. Loved it even. The first time he'd relaxed in the presence of the Avengers was during the dinner Tony had invited them too. And Christmas wasn't that much different from Thanksgiving, was it?

She doesn't think so, but then she hasn't actually celebrated either of them in years, not since her father died (not even before that, if she's honest), and can't be certain.

Perhaps it goes against some kind of Asgardian tradition.

"Or maybe he's just weird." Darcy says when Jane ponders aloud. "I mean, it's not exactly a shocking thought, is it?"

Jane has to agree with this, and so she pushes her confusion to the back of her mind and promises Erik that yes, she'll celebrate this year and no, she won't work too hard during the season.

She does anyway.

/LINEBREAK/

On Christmas Eve everyone gathers at the top of Stark Tower for drinks. Pepper had redecorated a little and the area is filled with big, fluffy couches and a giant Christmas tree.

Tony himself is yelling across the room, making drinks for everyone ("From the kindness of my heart…" He smirked as he hands Jane a glass) and poking fun of Steve whenever he can.

Pepper greets the four of them and moves to sit by Natasha and Clint, in the corner farthest from the bar. Pepper is relaxed and immediately starts talking to Natasha, who is very much not relaxed as soon as she sees Loki. Clint glances at Jane, Loki behind her, and is only reaction is to slouch in his seat.

The elevator door dings just as Jane sits down by Bruce. Coulson and Maria Hill step out, led by Director Fury. The room gets nosier as everyone shouts a greeting. Coulson immediately makes his way to Steve and Tony, while Hill and Fury join Natasha in her vigilant stares. Stuttering to a stop mid-sentence, Bruce takes in the new arrivals before beginning again his discussion with Erik. Jane takes another quick check-up on Loki and lets Bruce's low murmur draw her in again

"Hey, Loki!" She hears a little while later. "Want that drink now?"

She turns to see Tony slide a glass of some achohol thing along the bar to the hunched form of Loki at the end. The ice in it clinks as it collides with his forearm.

Having already deemed the exchange harmless, Jane is in the middle of turning back to her conversation when Loki jumps away from the table, chair clattering to the floor, and starts to shout.

"Imbecile! Keep control of yourself!"

"Wow, Loki, calm down." Steve says, hands spread before him. Tony is frozen next to him.

"I will not! You have no power over me, I will do as I please!"

"A rhyme. He just rhymed." Bruce mutters next to her.

Jane stands, giving Bruce a half incredulous, half what-is-wrong-with-you look and steps around him to pick up Loki's chair and set it right.

Everyone has gone quiet, tensely observing the quick rise and fall of Loki's chest. In the corner of her eye, Jane can see Natasha and the rest of them slowly drawing their weapons and standing. Tony shifts out behind the bar.

"You okay, dude?"

"Yes. I'm…fine." In a few breathes Loki's face falls back into its usual neutral look. "I apologize. You merely took me by surprise."

"No –" Tony says, shaking his head. "I mean, your arm…It turned, it turned blue."

Jane has never seen such a look of horror cross anyone's face like it does Loki's in that moment. She reaches out to touch his arm but he's gone before she can reach it.

It takes her two hours of searching to find him again.

/LINEBREAK/

"Loki?" She asks. Adjusting her position so her other hand can reach up to his face, she squeezes the hand in hers. "What happened? Why did your arm turn blue?"

"I am a monster, Jane." He tells her, voice rough.

"That's not true. That's not true at all." She shakes her head, feeling hot tears rise to the surface of her eyes and burn her. "Why would you think that?"

He looks at her, straight in the eyes, and Jane sees a kind of overwhelming sadness in them, pain coating otherwise bright and calculating eyes.

"I was born Jotun, a Frost Giant. I was a runt that my father left to die in the frozen waste of Jotunheim. It was at the mercy of Odin that I lived another day."

"So?"

His trembling suddenly stills, and his eyes clear only to be filled with anger.

"So? So, I am not just a murderer and a liar, but a monster and something you should fear! So be gone, foolish woman. Leave me in peace."

His words get quieter every moment until finally he simply trails of. Anger forgotten, or at least gone for now, his head drops back to his pillow and his eyes cloud over again.

"I don't have any reason to fear you. Not anymore."

Raising tired eyes to hers, sighing, he drops her hand and shakes the other off his face.

"Is this not something to fear?" He whispers, and his face begins to change.

Lines (where they normal for his race or birthmarks? She can't tell) raise from his skin, gliding down his body and leaving a dark blue color behind. As she watches, his eyes shift red. She takes a breath to respond…

"So you turn blue sometimes." Jane starts and glance behind her. Darcy is standing in the doorway with Bruce and Tony, arms crossed as she leans against the doorframe. "Bruce turns green sometimes. Tony has a red suit and a blue thing for a heart. And have you seen the colors Natasha dyes her hair? Trust me, you being blue only makes a colorful addition to our little group."

Jane smiles. Turning back to Loki, she presses the fingers of her right hand against his cheek. The cold stings but it's not unbearable.

"You're not a monster to me."

"But since you are a 'Frost Giant'" Tony says, piping up from behind Bruce. "Do you think you can make snow cones for us?"

/LINEBREAK/

In the morning, Loki visits Asgard. When he returns, he asks her for an apple pie recipe.

finis