Tom had decided to throw a Christmas party, much to Loki’s disgust. The god had not entered into the festive spirit, despite Tom’s best attempts, and the prospect of having to entertain guests that he didn’t know and had no respect for did little to improve his already dark mood.
Tom had hoped that involving Loki in decorating the flat might lift his surliness, but if anything it had deepened it. He had made distinctly sour comments about the fact that Tom was turning their living space into what he termed “a lurid pit of cheeriness” from his position on the sofa, and his expression when Stitch had begun to adorn him with tinsel and decorations had been less than amused. Stitch on the other hand seemed to quite enjoy it all, although his fascination with the tinsel and certain baubles meant that Tom had to redecorate the tree each night after untangling the tinsel and playing a solo game of hide and seek with the decorations. The fairy lights also had a habit of frequently changing positions.
Eventually, Tom had managed to rouse Loki to help decorate, although it was all conducted with an expression of deep scepticism, and the upshot was that only the green and gold decorations were used. Anything red or blue was shunned. That had drawn a smile from Loki where all else had failed. Tom had not commented.
Taking Loki and Stitch to the shops to buy food for the party had also turned out to be something of a bad idea.
To begin with it had been fine. Loki had been a little sulky, and Stitch as inquisitive as usual.
“So what exactly is the point of this…Christmas?” Loki asked as Tom stopped the trolley by a shelf of candied fruits, and compared the prices of two competing brands.
“Hmm? Oh, well, you know,” Tom replied, looking up from his serious consideration of the two boxes to look at his flatmate, “‘peace on Earth, goodwill to all men’ sort of thing.” He had once tried to explain Christianity to Loki and had very quickly decided not to bring up religion if Loki was in the conversation. Ever.
Loki snorted, glancing with vague interest towards Stitch who was busy loading the contents of the shelves into their trolley, unnoticed by Tom. “What rubbish. Humanity craves subjugation – it is your natural state. All this nonsense about ‘peace and goodwill to all men’ is just a lie you tell yourselves so you can sleep through the night. There is no such thing as world peace or goodwill to everyone. What you Midgardians need is ‘Lokiday’. On my day everyone would behave; even you admit that your race is out of control. You’ve already got Thursday and Friday – if you can adopt days in celebration of Thor and my mother, then you can for me.”
Tom frowned a little. “It’s not quite like that anymore Loki…” he muttered, reluctant to be drawn into a conversation about religion and gods, “and peace and good will are possible; not all people are out of control. That’s the special thing about Christmas; it’s one day in the year when everyone who celebrates it tries to be nice to each other. We give presents to the people we care about, and spend time with our families and friends, and be thankful for what’s good in our lives.”
Loki’s expression could have frozen lava. Tom winced slightly.
“And, uh, we have a, um…‘feast’ to celebrate.” He added, trying to get Loki’s mind away from the dark thoughts that he was clearly having. Loki’s eyebrows twitched slightly at that.
“A feast, you say?” He murmured.
“Yes!” Tom exclaimed, seizing on the topic gratefully. “Roast turkey, and roast potatoes, and mulled wine, and mince pies, and Christmas pudding, and –”
“Pudding?” Loki visibly perked up. Tom grinned and nodded. “Well,” Loki said with feigned nonchalance, “maybe this Christmas of yours is not so bad.”
Cheered, Tom turned to continue pushing the trolley, and was confronted with the sight of Stitch sitting before him, the trolley behind him filled with what had been the contents of the shelves nearest him, and his mouth filled with the candied contents of their now empty packaging.
Even Tom could not say that the Christmas party had been an unqualified success. Or even a success at all.
Loki had spent the time preceding the evening shaping all the snow that covered the garden into terrifyingly shaped snowmen, each one a good ten feet tall. Tom had not known about their existence until the guests had begun to arrive, and Loki had used his magic to manipulate his frosty army, terrifying and herding the visitors back down the garden path, summoning their host with their shouts and screams.
Tom had apologised for his flatmate profusely (a spectacle that Loki never tired of), and ushered the shell-shocked victims indoors to where warmth and mulled wine waited.
Loki was reluctantly wearing a green santa hat – it was the only concession Tom had been able to make him take, and Stitch was dressed in a complete santa outfit, with beard. He seemed to have mixed up the principles of Christmas and Halloween, however, and went around demanding presents and sweets from the guests, shaking his little red sack with a tone that varied from forceful insistence, to pathetic begging “Eh eh eh!”s.
Tom left him to it. For the most part people found it amusing, and weren’t averse to slipping whatever they could find that Stitch deemed acceptable into his waiting sack. It wasn’t until someone tried to pat him on the head, that he growled, nearly bit them, his feelers and second set of arms coming out to the screams of those nearest, at which he rolled up into a ball and rushed over to Loki where he sat on the sofa, clambering up and settling around the surprised god’s shoulders, growling at the offending guests.
Tom had apologised profusely, and explained that Stitch didn’t like being touched by strangers, smoothing the situation over. Loki had been deeply amused, and had given Stitch a brief pat of approval.
Relations had soured when the Christmas pudding came out, however, as Stitch (in a peculiar mood due to the various little sweets and things that the guests had been giving him, several of which were coffee-flavoured sweets) had leapt for the much prized dessert that both flatmates had been looking forward to, and swallowed it whole.
The effect had been to turn him particularly round shaped, and once he had swallowed it, there was no retrieving it.
Loki decided to go to bed soon after the pudding fiasco, quietly slipping from the room as Tom dug out some ice cream and apple crumble from the freezer. Tom saw him slinking off, and sighed to himself. He had hoped that Loki might enjoy Christmas, and he had wanted to show the god that a group of people could be nice to each other. His friends had been severely tried by the evening’s events, but none of them had been anything but tolerant and pleasant.
Eventually the party broke up, and Tom patted Stitch good night where he was curled up in his little bed, nearly hidden by tinsel, and then went off to his own room, switching off the fairy lights.
He didn’t bother turning on the light when he went into his room, grateful for the dimness after the lights of the party. He went to his dresser and opened a drawer, pulling out a large wrapped rectangular object. He hadn’t had a chance to give Loki his present in all the bustle of the party. He sighed again, turning to sit on his bed, when he noticed a faint glimmer of wrapping paper on it.
Frowning, Tom put down his gift for Loki on the bed, and picked up the small package beside it. It was squashy, the wrapping paper shiny plastic that seemed to be patterned green and gold and tied with a silky black ribbon. Curious, Tom pulled on the ribbon, and the parcel fell open in his hands.
Inside the wrapping paper was Tom’s favourite scarf from Loki’s collection; the grey and black houndstooth. Tom smiled. He knew the scarf was Loki’s favourite as well, and the gift could not have come from anyone but the god himself.
Still smiling, Tom crossed the corridor to Loki’s room, and peeped in through the gap in the door. Loki’s room was dark, and the god was a sleeping shadow under his blankets, his back facing the door.
“Thank you, Loki,” Tom whispered to the darkness.
On his side, Loki smiled faintly to himself, listening as Tom crept in and put something on the end of his bed, before sneaking out again. Curious, Loki turned around the moment he heard Tom’s bedroom door shutting, and saw a large package sitting on the end of his bed. It was in his hands in an instant, and he carefully opened it up.
Inside was a large photo album. Loki flipped through the plastic sleeved pages, and found that Tom had nearly half filled the album with photos of their time spent together. As Loki turned the pages he smiled to himself at the memories they contained; many were evidence of various pranks and kerfuffle’s that had happened.
The very final photograph was the best of them all; it was the only one where all three of them were smiling, Tom and himself standing together, with Stitch between them on their shoulders.
Loki set the album up on his end on his dresser, the cover visible from his bed, where he lay back down, smiling. Tom hadn’t been right about peace on earth and goodwill to all men, but he had been right about spending Christmas with friends.
Loki snorted half-heartedly as he rolled back over onto his side, “Wonders of Christmas, indeed,” he murmured, smiling softly. “Indeed.”