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Thunder and Ice

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James struggled through the snow, his heart aching and his body on fire with pain. The mission had gone terribly. His small special forces unit had attempted to disrupt a Nazi research facility south of Oslo, but their intel was outdated. What was supposed to be infiltration and sabotage had turned into a slaughter, and James, out of his ten-man unit, was the only survivor.

James struggled through the snow and knew there was no hope. He was alone, wounded, and behind enemy lines with no hope of rescue. It was the dead of winter in Norway, and he was unfamiliar with the terrain. He was as good as dead--the only question was what would get him first: his wounds, his hunger, or the bitter cold eating its way under his skin.

James stumbled and fell into a snowdrift and watched in dazed wonder as his blood stained the pure snow scarlet. He knew he had to keep moving. It was so cold. He had to keep moving, he had to…

....keep moving….

 

James ought to be dead. He knew it the moment he opened his eyes. He lay in a beautifully soft bed, warm and comfortable, his wounds were but a passing ache he could easily ignore, and for a moment, James could pretend nothing was wrong at all.

It hit him all at once--not just the failure of the mission but the loss of his men--his friends, his lover among them. James closed his eyes and knew he should mourn, but the emotion was stopped up, suppressed, muted. James felt the need to grieve, but couldn’t actually do it.

Roger, his lover, had been a small spitfire of a blond who’d lied his way into enlistment, then proven his skill at infiltration and sabotage. When their unit had been formed, James had taken an immediate liking to the small man, and their romance, such as it was, had bloomed in secret all across enemy territory. But he was gone now, and all James could do for him was weep. And he couldn’t even do that.

So instead, James looked around. James was in a strange house, having apparently been rescued. But that didn’t mean he was safe. He surveyed his surroundings.

He’d been brought to a rustic cabin, well built, probably a hunter’s lodge by the look of the furs that lay on the bed and floors. From what James could see, there was only the one room in the whole place--bed, two fur covered chairs, a large table with stools around it, and a massive fireplace that seemed to be the only source of heat and where food was cooked. There was a fire blazing away and something that smelled hearty and inviting bubbling in a large pot hanging over it. There were a few personal items scattered about the place--dishes, clothes, what were probably weapons by the front door--and no sound except a strange thudding coming somewhere from outside.

James was alone. He looked down at himself and peeked under the furs. His wounds were cleaned and dressed, but he was naked. He tried to sit up, but the pain in his abdomen flared and he aborted the motion quickly, laying back down and craning his head to try to see where his clothes and weapons went. But before he could locate them, the front door opened.

There was a gust of wind, carrying snowflakes and cold into the cabin, but James was too focused on the stranger to notice it. He was huge--practically a giant, with long blond hair that whipped around his face in the wind before he shut the door behind him. He was carrying an enormous pile of logs, balanced on his shoulder and contained by the loop of his arm, and despite his large furry cloak, James could tell the man’s muscles were large and well defined. His face was stunningly handsome, bearded and rugged, but kind, and James found himself incredibly aware of how naked he was beneath the blankets and furs on the bed.

The beautiful giant put the wood in a holder by the fireplace, then shook the snow off of himself and hung his cloak and other assorted outerwear on hooks by the door before he finally turned to James with a smile that made James’s heart skip a beat.

“Ah, my friend, I am glad to see you’ve awakened,” he said in a voice that was soft and gentle, but James could tell could be booming and commanding when necessary. “When I found you in the snow I was not sure I had reached you in time.”

James blinked, stunned, but found his voice as the tall blond stoked the fire and stirred and tasted whatever was in the pot. “Were you looking for me?”

“No, I cannot say that I was. I was returning from a hunt, and I very nearly tripped over your form in the snow, it was so hidden among the drifts. But fate brought us together just in time. I think another hour and you would have perished.”

James paled as he realized how close to death he had really come, and then remembered how his dear brothers in arms hadn’t made it, and he closed his eyes to try to feel that grief again, but failed. He opened his eyes again when he felt the bed dip, and saw his rescuer had sat on the edge, looking down at him with concern.

“You have been through many trials, I think,” he said softly, and caressed James’s face with the greatest gentleness. “You are safe here. Rest. I will care for you.”

James stared up at the man. “Who are you?”

“I am Thor.”

“Thor…” James tried the name out. It was strange, but… right, somehow. “I’m James.”

Thor smiled. “James. I am glad to have made your acquaintance, even despite the circumstances. I would have you rest a while longer, but the stew is ready. Can you remain awake long enough to eat?”

James took a moment to concentrate on his own body, and realized that despite however long he had spent asleep in Thor’s bed, he was still exhausted. But he was also starving. Thor was right--he needed to eat. He nodded, and Thor helped him to sit up. It was only then that James realized his left arm was heavily bandaged.

Thor saw him staring at it. “Ah--your injuries were severe, especially on that arm. I did the best I could with what little I had. In time you will recover, but I fear you will not be able to use that arm as well as you could before.”

James swallowed hard and nodded. He felt strangely distant, as if everything was happening to someone else, and he was only watching. Should he have been shocked? Probably. “I still have it. That’s… more than a lot of men I know can say.”

Thor stood and went to the fire to ladle some stew into a bowl, and returned to the bed with it, taking his place on the edge of the bed once more. James moved to take it, but Thor smiled a little. “Will you allow me?”

James realized Thor was asking to feed him. It was strange, but James was tired enough to allow it, so he nodded, and Thor spooned up some meat, which James obediently opened his mouth for. He wondered, as Thor fed him, if he was actually dreaming. Or maybe he was in heaven. But then, if this were heaven, Roger should be here.

He didn’t realize he had started crying until Thor shushed him gently, and wiped his tears from his cheeks with a large, callused thumb. James could feel the wetness on his cheeks, and the tightness behind his eyes, but the grief that caused them was still buried too deeply. He felt empty, and so, so weary.

“You are tired, and have been through many hardships,” Thor said, so softly and kindly it made James ache. “You have eaten enough for now. Rest. It will heal some of the pain, and ease others.” He stroked his hand through James’s hair, then set the bowl aside to help him lie down again. “Perhaps, when you awaken once more, you can tell me some of your story, and I will tell you some of mine. For now--sleep.”

James turned his face into the pillow and fell asleep with tears still clinging to his eyelashes, and Thor watching over him from the bedside.

 

When James woke again, Thor was sitting in a chair by the fire, sharpening a very fine looking sword. There were still some delicious smells in the air, and James realized Thor had meat drying on racks over the fire. James struggled up into a sitting position, and Thor was up and over to him to help with the last few inches.

“Do not overexert yourself, my friend. You have much healing to do.”

James nodded, a little winded from sitting up, but he caught his breath. “How long have I been sleeping?”

Thor smiled. “Five hours since last you were awake, and it has been three days since I found you. I doubt you were asleep in the snow for more than a day.”

James let out a breath. It was so long--but no one was expecting him. No one would be looking for him. He could try to make it back to Allied forces, but that would be a long, dangerous journey--impossible to do in his current state. But he also didn’t want to impose any longer than he had to, or overstay Thor’s hospitality.

As if he’d been reading James’s mind, Thor said, “you are welcome in my home, James. I am more than pleased to help you recover, as long as it takes.”

James shook his head in amazement. “Why? Don’t get me wrong, I am… incredibly grateful for your help, more than I can possibly say, but why help a stranger this much?”

Thor smiled. “Simply enough, because it pleases me to do so. It would be unjust of me to leave someone so in need to die alone--and furthermore, perhaps I enjoy the company.”

James snorted in disbelief. “I’ve been asleep most of the time.”

“True, but even a sleeping companion is still a companion. And it gives me tasks to accomplish apart from that of my own needs--so you see, my help is as much selfish as it is charitable.”

“You must want your bed back, at least.”

Thor laughed, a huge, delighted sound that reverberated right into James’s bones. “I have slept in far worse conditions than on my own furs in front of the fire. I do not miss it so much as you might fear. But when you have recovered more, perhaps we can come to an arrangement that strikes you as more fair, hmm?” The look he gave James sent a warmth under his skin and through his belly, more feeling than James had experienced since dragging himself away from the battle, and it made him hope that Thor was intentionally insinuating what James thought. Thor smiled and continued as James swallowed and tried to compose himself. “In the meantime, accept my hospitality, I beg you. If you like, you can speak with me and tell me of yourself, and that will be payment enough.”

Having recovered, James said, “well… thank you.”

“You are most welcome, my friend.” Thor stood and went about neatening up the cabin.

“Where are we, anyway?”

“Apart from my home? Many miles from any settlement, I’m afraid.”

James blinked in surprise. The facility had been west of Oslo, but only by about twenty miles. A long hike, to be sure, but not as far as Thor made it out to be by his tone. And surely there had to be towns and villages nearby--how far had James traveled?

“You are confused,” Thor said.

“Yeah, I didn’t think I could be so far from Oslo.”

It was Thor’s turn to be confused. He frowned, then shook his head. “I know of no settlement by that name, James.”

“What? But it’s the capital, how have…”

Thor strode over to the bed and knelt by it, a look of grave concern on his face. “James, the question I am about to ask will seem strange, but I must insist on an honest answer. What year is it, and what brought you to these lands?”

“Year? 1944. I was part of an Allied Special Forces unit tasked with sabotaging Nazi facilities.”

Thor stared for a long moment, and James felt his heart sinking. Thor shook his head slowly. “My friend, you are no longer in your own era.”

“What?”

“I suspected something was amiss when I saw your clothing and weapons, but your words confirm it--you have somehow been transported back in time.”

James heavily leaned back against the headboard, trying to process the news. It was impossible, it had to be--but then, some of the research the Nazis had been doing was strange--even impossible. So maybe time travel was part of it, somehow.

Still, it was extremely difficult to accept the idea of being in the past, and that it was possible at all.

“So what year is it? Where am I?”

Thor shook his head. “We reckon time differently, I think, but you are in the land of the Norsemen, and this is their era.”

James blinked. “You mean Vikings?”

Thor nodded.

James let out a long breath. He wasn’t the best at history, but he knew--”so I’m at least a thousand years in the past.”

Thor looked surprised at that. “That is a very long time. But the fates cannot be denied--if they called you to be here, they would have found a way.”

“Called me?” James blanched. “You think I’m meant to be here for some reason?”

“Indeed. How else could you explain it?”

James opened his mouth to offer his theory about the Nazi experiments, but it was as far-fetched as any other idea at the moment, so he shook his head and rubbed his face with his good hand. It was all so impossible, no matter how you looked at it, but he knew--and he didn’t know why he felt this way--Thor wouldn’t lie to him. For some unknown reason, he felt he could trust Thor implicitly.

“So what now?” James asked.

“For now, we make certain you heal, James. After that, we can attempt to discern the true purpose of your arrival here.”

James scowled. “I was never very good at sitting and waiting.”

Thor laughed. “Nor was I, my friend.”

 

Thor went out to tend to things outside, and James fell asleep again. When he woke, Thor had food for him, as well as a large mug of a strange-smelling tea.

“Drink it, James. It will ease your pain and speed your recovery.”

James took a sip and nearly spat it back out again. Thor laughed.

“It takes some getting used to, I agree. But it will help, I promise.”

James tried again. It wasn’t so bad the second time, and Thor smiled as James finished it off.

“A mug of that with every meal and you’ll be well again swiftly. It is an old recipe of my mother’s, and has long been used to aid injured warriors in their recovery.”

“What is your mother like?”

Thor turned to the fire, a wistful look in his eye. “The kindest, most generous, most gentle woman you could ever hope to meet, but her spine is steel, and if any were to threaten her family or take advantage of her kindness, they would see the true fierceness of her spirit. I have never met another like her.”

James watched the firelight glimmer in Thor’s eyes and glisten in his hair and said, “I think you’ve learned a lot from her.”

Thor looked a little surprised at that, but he smiled. “It is all I could ever hope for, to be like her. I once thought it was only a woman’s place, to be kind and generous, and a man’s place to be just and fair, as my father was, but I now see that one without the other is meaningless. Justice without kindness, without mercy, is cold and unforgiving, and generosity without fairness is imbalanced.”

James listened to Thor with wonder. It wasn’t something he’d ever thought about himself, and to hear it was a revelation. “It sounds like… you went through a lot to learn that.”

Thor nodded. “Indeed, my friend. It is a tale… I have yet to tell a soul, but I would be glad to let you be the first, should you wish to hear it.”

James swallowed hard at the intimacy of the moment. “I… would, but only if you want to tell it.”

Thor smiled. “I would, James. I would very much.” He stood and marched over to what James had begun to think of as the pantry--a shelf of jugs and strings of dried herbs that Thor used in cooking. “But first, a drink,” Thor said, grabbing one of the tall mugs and filling it with an amber liquid from one of the larger jugs. He took a long drink, then dragged a chair over to the bed so he could sit by James as he drank.

Some froth caught in his mustache, and he wiped it away. James stayed carefully quiet, knowing that sometimes it took some steel to tell a difficult story.

Finally, Thor began to speak. “You would not know it from our surroundings, but I am the son of a great king. My brother and I grew up with every luxury, knowing one day we would be kings. I was the strongest warrior in the land, I had wealth, friends, fame… I admit I grew cocky with it, grew to take my power for granted. It was all a game to me, one I took great pleasure in playing.” He sighed. “I did not think much of anyone apart from myself. I did what I thought was just, with little regard for the feelings of others. If others tried to correct me, I would not listen.”

Thor paused to take a drink. “On the day I was to receive a high honor--my father was to name me his heir--the ceremony was interrupted. Our greatest enemies, with whom we had held a tentative peace for decades, had broken into our fortress in an attempt to steal from our vaults, where my father kept the most dangerous relics of his past victories in battle. They were a small band and were swiftly defeated, but I was enraged. How dare they attack us in such a manner? And on such a day? How dare they disturb the peace we had built? Instead of remaining calm and assessing the situation, I chose to escalate. I was hungry for battle, for glory, so I took a small band of my own to attack them in return--to give as much as we had received and more. To teach them a lesson.” Thor laughed ruefully and shook his head, clearly remorseful of his own actions.

“So we went. In my own pride, I had overestimated our abilities, and we were cornered and very nearly destroyed. Were it not for the swift intervention of my father, their king would have surely killed us all, and thus the war begun anew. Instead, we returned home, humiliated by our defeat. My father was not impressed with our actions. He rightly raged at us, at me, for coming so close to reigniting a war which had been waged for centuries and had killed so many on both sides, innocents and warriors alike. I, in my pride, raged right back, certain that retribution was required.

“He agreed, but not for our enemies. He stripped me of all my rank and banished me from our lands, to never again wear the comforts of princedom or the mantle of leadership.” Thor stared down into his mug, silent for a long time. James, sensing there was more, stayed silent too, unwilling to break the quiet.

“I learned, recently, that it was his final act. He… died, not long after I was cast out. My brother now rules in his place, as is right, and my mother wishes never to see me again for what I have done.”

James felt his heart stop, and he felt the deep echo of his own pain reach out to Thor in sympathy. He longed to embrace the man, offer some kind of comfort, but he didn’t know how.

Thor took a deep breath and drained his mug. “So you see, I am learning my lesson every day, as it was my father’s dying wish for me to do so. I can no longer be king, nor do I wish to be. I long only to be a good man, the kind my mother and father would be proud to call their son.”

James nodded. “You are, Thor. You are a good man.”

Thor smiled sadly, the flickering firelight casting shadows that lengthened his sorrow. “Thank you, James. It is all I desire.”

There was a long stretch of silence after that. James didn’t know how to follow such a story, and Thor seemed comfortable enough in the quiet, with nothing but the crackling of the fire to break it.

Finally, after some minutes of silence, Thor looked up again with a gentle smile. “James, will you tell me your tale? Perhaps we can puzzle out how you came to be here together.”

James nodded, wondering if perhaps Thor also wanted a distraction from his thoughts after recounting his own story. He didn’t mind, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to tell his story. Still, if he couldn’t tell it now, to Thor, when would he?

As he was struggling with how to begin, Thor stood and poured another mug of ale, offering it to James. James took it gratefully, and with the very first sip he felt warmth flowing through him. He took a breath and began.

He told of the war--a world war, as it was being called, and he told of his role in it. James didn’t speak much of his life before the war, because it seemed so long ago, like it had happened to another person entirely. He spoke of his brothers in arms, and of Roger--though he avoided describing their relationship. Even with the hints and flirtations he thought he’d been getting from Thor, he wasn’t sure how the man would react to hearing of that kind of relationship. But after he’d described the mission and the deaths of his comrades, and how narrowly he’d escaped with his life, Thor rested a heavy hand on James’s shoulder.

“You have lost a great deal, my friend. This… Roger, he was more to you than you are disclosing, I think. I have had many such brothers-in-arms. It is a rare kind of love, and you were lucky to have it.”

James let out a deep breath and relaxed some, though the heavy sorrow that should have come with recounting such a tale instead felt stuck deep inside, hidden away. He felt the pressure of tears behind his eyes, but they refused to fall.

“My friend,” Thor said softly. “Weep, if you need it. You will be no less of a man for doing so, and it is a necessary part of grief.”

James shook his head. He couldn’t do it. He knew what Thor was saying was true, but he just didn’t feel physically capable of feeling the grief brewing inside him. It was locked away, even from himself.

James didn’t know how long he stared off into space, feeling nothing but knowing he should. Thor stroked his hair and his back, and James sighed at it, wishing it could be enough comfort to erase his grief entirely so he wouldn’t have to feel like he was staring at it from a great distance, waiting for it to engulf him and destroy him.

After some time, Thor hummed softly and pulled back, just enough to look at him.

“We are more alike than not, I think. Whatever the reason the fates may have had to bring us together, I am glad they have done so, that we might comfort each other in our grief.”

James sighed and gave a small smile. “I’m not sure I’ve been much of a comfort,” he admitted.

Thor smiled back. “Your very presence is comfort enough, to ease my loneliness in exile.”

James nodded a little, accepting it. Thor considered him a moment.

“Will you allow me to share the bed with you?”

James hesitated, but only because he was so surprised to hear that deep desire of his spoken aloud. He nodded, and Thor smiled. Thor took the mugs back to the table, then poured a hot liquid out of a kettle over the fire.

“One more mug of the tea before you sleep, and I’ll wager you’ll be well enough to walk around the cabin tomorrow.”

James drank it down obediently. The taste bothered him less than it had at first, and once it was cleared away, he and Thor arranged themselves in bed.

The bed was more than large enough for the two of them, which was good, since Thor was so much bigger than James was. When he wrapped James up in his arms again, James felt engulfed by him in the best possible way. He wondered for a moment if it was what Roger had felt like in James’s arms, but the thought passed out of his head quickly, and he fell asleep in the warmth and comfort of Thor’s embrace.

 

When James woke, he was warmer and more comfortable than he could ever remember being. He was still wrapped up in Thor’s arms, and when he tilted his head back to look, he found Thor looking down at him with a soft, impossibly fond smile.

James felt his heart seize for a moment, as he felt an urge he wasn’t sure he’d ever feel again after all that had happened. Tentatively, cautiously, James lifted his lips to Thor’s. Thor did not stop him, and even met him in the kiss. It was soft, sweet, and curious. Thor was gentle and warm, and his lips were better than James had imagined.

After a moment, Thor’s tongue pressed forward, seeking entry, and James opened himself up to it. The kiss grew deeper, hotter, and it wasn’t long before James felt hot and dizzy with the desire for more. His hips pressed forward, but Thor pressed him back by the shoulders, breaking the kiss. James let out a soft sound of disappointment.

“As much as I would like to continue,” Thor said, his voice rough and deep with desire, “let us see how you are on your feet first, hmm?”

James’s complaints stuck in his throat and he nodded. Thor pulled away to get up, and he reached out to take James’s good arm. Slowly, they worked together to get James to his feet. His legs felt unsteady with disuse, and his ribs and chest ached with the pain of holding himself upright, but being able to stand felt better than whatever pain the action caused.

“Very good,” Thor said softly, and James felt the warmth of his approval flow through him almost as strongly as from the kiss they’d shared. “Now then, as for walking…”

James let out a soft, breathless laugh, and began to try to walk. His legs were not uninjured, but they had fared far better than his arm. Still, with how his left arm was wrapped up, his balance was thrown off, and that plus the cuts and major bruises on his legs left him wobbling as he made his first tentative steps around the cabin.

Thor stayed close, his hands hovering around James, ready to stabilize or catch him at the first sign of falling. James managed to make it to the table, and sat heavily on one of the stools with a sigh.

“So, breakfast?” he said with a grin, trying not to give away how breathless he was from just the short walk.

Thor laughed his deep belly laugh and clapped him on the back. “With how well you just did, I should be asking you to prepare the meal!”

Thor set about gathering food for breakfast--dried meat, apples, bread, and ale for Thor and tea for James. As he worked, James watched, and felt how the flames of desire and admiration were stoked in his chest.

He liked Thor, and was very much attracted to him, but Roger’s death was a void in his chest, and he felt guilty for having feelings for another man so soon after the loss of his lover, especially when he struggled to grieve properly. James wondered if it was wrong. How much time had to go by before it was appropriate? Would it even be possible to hold back his desire for Thor?

James sighed and leaned on the table. Thor placed a plate of food and mug of tea before him and considered him as he sat down on the other side with his own plate and mug.

“Something troubles you, James. What is it?”

James struggled with himself, and how to phrase his problems. “It’s… Roger,” he finally began.

Thor nodded and indicated James should continue.

“I… think I loved him. And I want to mourn him and the others properly, but I… I don’t know how. Or if I even can.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just… I feel the grief there, it’s deep inside, but… it’s like it’s too far away for me to reach. And now I have feelings for you, and it’s… confusing.”

Thor nodded. “Emotions are rarely easy. And grief has its own needs. I do not know what is best for you and your grief. Only you can discover that for yourself. What I do know is this: grief needs the time and space to be felt, but you shouldn’t let it control you. Your other emotions need to be felt, too.”

James closed his eyes and considered that. What was he feeling? He’d been through so many shocking surprises, from the battle itself, escaping it, nearly dying, and then finally being rescued by a giant gorgeous Viking. Maybe he hadn’t really processed everything yet. But he was safe now, and Thor was inviting him to indulge his grief in a way no one else ever had. Back home, men were expected to be strong and stoic. Tears were all but forbidden. Displays of emotion were discouraged.

It was so hard to connect with those emotions. He’d been ignoring them so long, hiding them away, that he could hardly remember how to actually feel them.

“James?” Thor’s soft voice came from much closer than James was expecting, and he hopened his eyes to find Thor kneeling in front of him, a look of concern on his face. “Speak, James. Tell me what’s wrong.”

James swallowed hard and shook his head. “Where I come from… it’s a sign of weakness for men to show emotion.”

Thor nodded, and put his hand on James’s thigh. “I think I understand. Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”

They sat there like that for long time as James struggled to fully connect with his emotions. It was like a wall surrounded the innermost part of him, one that society and his own hands had built strong and tall. How he was supposed to get past it, he had no idea.

James took a deep, shuddering breath. “Thor… I don’t know how.”

“Maybe I can help,” Thor murmured gently, and he leaned in and pressed his lips to James’s.

It wasn’t like the earlier kisses. Those had been filled with desire and curiosity, testing the waters of their mutual attraction. This kiss was just as soft and sweet as the first, but there was a gentle comfort to this that, like the small stone that took down Goliath, it was enough to crumble the internal walls that blocked James’s emotions, and he wept. He wept and truly felt it.

Thor continued to kiss him, despite the tears, and brought his large, warm hands up to gently brush them from James’s cheeks.

James had to pull back to breathe, and he sobbed, feeling the full force of his grief for the first time. THor simply pulled him into an embrace, holding James while he wept and mourned his friends, his family, his loved ones--all the people who had passed or that he might never see again.

James didn’t know how long he mourned, but Thor held him the whole time. When he had finally run out of tears, James simply breathed. His eyes closed, he let his emotions flow, and felt how, despite how overwhelming it was, it was also comfortable. His grief felt real, and right, and he felt truly himself in a way he hadn’t in a very long time. It was almost as if he’d been frozen this whole time--not just when he’d nearly died, but most of the war, and maybe most of his adult life. Thor had thawed him out in more ways than one.

Even now, in Thor’s warm embrace, James felt safe and loved. He sighed, and Thor stroked his hair. James looked up at him, and though he feared that he would find pity in Thor’s expression, he found only kindness, and care, and love. James shifted so that he could touch Thor’s face. Thor smiled, and let James have his explorations.

They were silent as James touched--first Thor’s face, then his hair, and the shell of his ear. His injured arm nestled comfortably against him, James grounded himself in the reality of Thor’s skin, his beard, his hair, his beauty, his kindness. Thor merely smiled, patient, until James finally leaned back in to kiss Thor again.

It was gentle again, but this time James wanted more. He wanted to feel more. He pressed his tongue to Thor’s lips, and Thor hummed softly. James could feel Thor’s smile against his lips, and the man was opening his mouth to deepen the kiss in the way James craved. It was slow, sensual, and as James explored Thor’s mouth, he felt the fires of lust building in his belly.

Too soon, Thor pulled back from the kiss to run a hand through James’s hair, cup the back of his head and look at him seriously. “James. Do you want this now?”

James opened his mouth to answer instinctively, but Thor put a finger to James’s mouth to stop him. “James, please consider your answer carefully. Whatever you want, I will be glad to give you, but you must be certain of your decision.”

So James closed his mouth and thought. His lips still tingled from the kisses, but he could, with some thought, understand why Thor wanted careful consideration. It wouldn’t do to jump into things because of a moment of heightened emotions, only to regret moving forward so quickly when he was more emotionally sober.

But the more James thought about it, the more he wanted it, the more he felt he needed it. He hungered for the touch, the connection, and his love for Thor craved it all. And it truly was love, he felt that now. It was a different love from what he’d felt for Roger, what he still felt for him, but it was no less strong, no less important.

“I want this,” James said breathlessly. “I want you.”

Thor smiled, and it was like a ray of sunshine fell across James’s face. In one smooth movement, Thor gathered James up in his arms, lifting him easily, like he weighed no more than a child, and brought him to the bed.

As Thor gently settled James among the furs, his hands roamed across James’s body. They were warm, and their touch stoked the fires in the deepest part of him.

“You are very beautiful,” Thor said softly, as his hands slid across James’s skin. James felt himself blush. No one had ever told him that before. Or rather, no one had ever said it like that, in Thor’s amazed, awed tone of voice. Even injured, bandaged, bruised, and broken as he was, the way Thor looked at him and touched him made him feel beautiful in a way he never had before.

James wanted to reply with something about how beautiful Thor was, but he couldn’t find the words. Instead he simply flushed and lifted his hips as much as he could as Thor eased his pants off of him.

“Now then,” Thor said with a smile. “We don’t want to hurt you. How should we do this?”

James didn’t know how to answer, but it seemed Thor wasn’t necessarily looking for one as he kissed his way down James’s neck and chest, laving all his unbandaged skin with kisses and gentle, persistent sucking. James sighed, and his uninjured hand caught in Thor’s long, beautifully golden hair, stroking through it as his skin tingled deliciously from Thor’s attentions.

But even as he luxuriated in how Thor began to lick and suck at his nipples, a part of James was worried he wouldn’t be able to do enough in return, injured as he was.

“Thor,” he began, hoping to voice this concern aloud, but it came out as a moan as Thor’s hands massaged his thighs, and the beautiful Norseman’s tongue swirled expertly around his sensitive nub.

Still, Thor lifted his head and smiled wickedly at James. “Yes?”

James struggled to catch his breath. “You shouldn’t… be doing all the work.”

Thor’s smile softened. “Allow me this, James. You are lovely, and have been through much. I have so much admiration for you. Let me take care of you.”

James swallowed. “You’ve already done so much for me.”

Thor was quiet a moment, then leaned in to kiss James deeply. As he pulled away, he murmured, “you deserve this, James. And as with everything, I only do it because I greatly desire to.”

Lost in the cloudless sky blue of Thor’s eyes, James found he had no reply. That this was something he deserved had never occurred to him--but he could not deny Thor’s earnestness. Indeed, he was finding it very difficult to deny Thor anything. He kissed Thor in return, desperate and wanting, wishing only to show Thor how he felt in the only way he knew how.

Thor let James lead the kiss for a while, then turned it around, into something slow and sweet, before he continued his mouth’s journey southward. James shuddered as Thor kissed and stroked everywhere but where his body most craved it, teasing him in the most gentle and loving way. Lost in the sensations, James never noticed how Thor reached beside the bed to dip his fingers in a small pot until he felt the pad of one of those calloused digits slide slickly through the valley of his most secret place to press hotly against his hidden entrance.

James gasped, and Thor smiled at him from where he knelt between James’s legs. “Have you taken a man inside you before?”

James could only shake his head. Though he had never been against the idea, he had only ever been the one to penetrate, never the other way around. It was how Roger liked it, and James had never wished it otherwise, nor was there time to discuss such things. That Thor might wish to do so with him was thrilling.

Thor hummed. “You are too injured to take me fully, I think. Today we will start slowly.” He kissed the head of James’s swollen member and massaged the tight ring of muscle with his wet finger. “Relax, James.”

James tried to, but he was tight with anticipation. Thor hummed again. “Perhaps another way, then.” He pulled away from James and removed his clothes while James watched, his mouth dry with desire. Once bare, Thor climbed into the bed and pulled the pillows and furs so that he could lay back at an incline, and gently moved James to lie against him, chest to chest, his arms circling James so that he felt safe and surrounded by love. He kissed James, and it was lazy and hot and perfect, and as he massaged James’s back, their cocks rubbed against each other, unhurried.

James sighed and moaned into Thor’s mouth as large, strong hands worked his muscles, sore from battle, recovery, and stress. Thor was persistent in his ministrations, and James began to relax, muscle by muscle, until he felt like he had melted into Thor’s warm embrace. He had gone from desperate to sleepily aroused, and James felt he could stay as he was forever. He barely even noticed when Thor’s fingers rubbed against his entrance once more, but he certainly did notice when his body welcomed Thor inside. James gasped against Thor’s mouth, and his back arched in pleasure at the slow stretch and burn of Thor’s thick finger sliding against the innermost parts of him. When he arched, his hard sex moved against Thor’s, and Thor let out a deep grumble of contentment that made James feel as if he were perhaps in the embrace of a friendly bear.

Thor explored deeper into James, and James cried out when the clever digit stroked against a particular spot. Thor smiled and murmured huskily against James’s lips. “You make such beautiful music,” he said, and he gave the point of pleasure more attention.

Caught between the work of Thor’s finger and his hard body, James writhed, unable to decide which he wanted more. Thor, of course, was infuriatingly relentless, and only became more so when he slipped his unoccupied hand between them and grasped both their manhoods together. James cried out again, and Thor swallowed the sound until James reached his breaking point. The universe narrowed down until it was all bright white pleasure and nothing else, and James’s hot seed spread between them. Thor worked him through it, to the point where James nearly couldn’t stand it anymore, but then Thor was reaching his own climax, and James watched as the man became even more beautiful in his ecstasy.

They lay like that for some minutes, kissing and basking in their shared joy until

 

Bucky looked up from the book. He blinked, and flipped forward a few pages, then a few more, then to the very last page where James and Thor were embracing passionately, again, James’s armor gleaming in the moonlight and Thor’s godhood--godhood?--promising an eternity of pleasures still to come.

Of course, it was that moment that Steve got home. He grinned at Bucky, then saw the book in his hands and went a truly impressive shade of red.

“What… whatcha got there, Buck?” Steve asked, and it was clear from his tone of voice that he knew exactly what Bucky had there, and was dreading the answer.

Bucky grinned. He couldn’t help it. “You know, I was at the bookstore, and I found this really amazing book in the romance aisle.” He held up the book, which had a cover Bucky hadn’t been able to refuse at all: a man who looked remarkably like the Thor he knew personally, and a man who looked remarkably like himself, both embracing.

Steve somehow managed to become an even more impressive shade of red. Bucky had no idea how he managed it.

In much the same way as Thor’s fingers, Bucky was relentless. “I mean, I thought it might just be a coincidence, but the similarities are really remarkable.” He stood up from the couch and slowly walked toward Steve, who was frozen just inside the doorway. “And you know, it’s actually a pretty good book. This Grant R. Stevenson guy is a pretty talented writer.”

Steve shifted his weight and looked away. Bucky got right up into his personal space and pulled Steve close, laughing softly. “C’mon Stevie, don’t be so shy. I really like it so far.”

Steve mumbled something about how it wasn’t that good, but he was smiling bashfully now, so even if he was still embarrassed, he at least wasn’t completely mortified anymore.

Bucky laughed again and kissed Steve’s cheek, then nipped his earlobe. “Really, babe, I only have one question.”

Steve rolled his eyes. “It’s not exactly something I could tell people about, Buck.”

“No, no that.”

Steve blinked, and frowned in confusion.

Bucky grinned. “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted a threesome with Thor so badly?” Steve’s eyes widened and Bucky rubbed his face against Steve’s. “I would’ve said yes.”