Chapter 1: First snow
A peaceful moment between two friends.
Silence settles over them and all around, finally, after hours of fighting. Tony sighs, breath leaving his lips as a white puff in the cold air, and leans his head back to the tree at which roots they slumped down. His legs are stretched in front of him, sore muscles on fire, and he is so exhausted he can easily ignore how uncomfortable it is sitting on a quiver.
Steve is curled up beside him, head resting on his lap, and Tony’s fingers are raking through golden locks with gentle care.
Thor’s tattered red cape is wrapped loosely around their form. The branches are bare, stretching towards the grey skies, it’s so quiet and peaceful neither of them wants to move. Steve’s body is radiating heat, and Tony feels it seeping into his aching bones, into his fluttering heart.
Something cold touches the bare skin of his hand which is resting on the soldier’s arm. His eyes crack open, -he didn’t even notice they fell shut- and sees a small, white crystal on his finger. His gaze wanders up.
"Look, Steve... It’s snowing."
It’s a moment of peace in the chaos of their life, as they hold each other close somewhere out in the wilderness, amongst the dancing flakes of the first snow of winter.
Chapter 2: "Do you mind?" "What? I'm cold."
A little moment between Bucky and Sam. Or one could say: they start to warm up to each other.
Sam was not happy.
When he decided to give up everything and flee with the Captain, he wouldn’t have thought he would end up hiding in a filthy, ice-cold little cabin in the middle of nowhere with the Captain’s grumpy, metal-armed friend.
The temperature was way below 0 °Celsius, and the cabin lacked the most essential thing winter needs: heating. It wouldn’t have been a problem if the Captain would have returned after a few minutes as was promised, but something must have happened, for they have been waiting for an hour now.
It was getting uncomfortably cold inside, and Barnes was anything but talkative. Sam was pacing back and forth freezing, hungry, worried, and not-happy-at-all.
What a way to start December!
As the former airman started to slump into the deep pits of self-pity, somehow he neared the grumpy guy in the corner. And woah, what was that? It felt like walking past a furnace.
Sam stopped abruptly, and stared.
He took a tentative step closer. Another wave of heat reached his frozen body. His equally frozen mind slowly caught up. Of course, it must be the serum! No wonder the other man was sitting in one place for an hour without showing any signs of discomfort, while Sam hardly felt his fingers now.
Sam quitted his pacing and showing more confidence he actually felt, marched next to the former soldier. Then slumped down next to him and -may it stay between the two of them,- snuggled up to the other man as it was the most natural thing in the world. Barnes was so surprised he forgot to punch him in the face.
"Do you mind?"
"What? I’m cold."
James seemed unimpressed, but didn’t make any attempt to push him away, so Sam took it as a good sign.
"You should keep moving then." The man suggested. Sam snorted.
"I’m not a pumped-up super soldier like you. If you want to handle an ice-brick to the Captain, we are on the best way there, just sayin’."
The former soldier was still staring at him with his light-coloured eyes, rigid like a statue. The metal of his arm was burning through his clothes. Sam let out a sigh.
"Come on, Barnes, I’m freezing my ass off here!"
With his lids fluttering shut, and the expression of a martyr, the other man shifted, and let him slump into the heat of his body.
Sam pressed his freezing fingers on warm skin with a happy humming sound. He almost forgot how good it felt not turning into ice. Silence fell upon them.
"Do you think something happened?" James asked some time later, trying to hide worry from his voice, and failing.
"Yes, but he will return. He is Captain America. If he promised he will come back, then he will."
This was the connection between Barnes and him, Sam realised. Their unwavering trust in that man. A trait shared.
This could be a good start for them. Captain has been nagging them recently, to act more friendly to the other, anyway.
Well, good ol’ Cap has nothing to worry about. They've already started to warm up to each other.
Chapter 3: Shopping
Eddie caught the flu.
Venom and Dan team up to take care of the problem.
"Green food is that way!" Dan still flinches a little when the voice suddenly purrs inside his mind. He nods and whispers, picking up a basket.
"I know, let me grab this thing first."
Dan is after a 24-hour-shift, and tired, but his patience is infinite. It was 3 o’clock in the morning when Annie called and announced that Venom called her in panic a few minutes ago. It seems that Eddie caught the flu, and his symbiote friend completely freaked out by this unseen phenomena. So the lady of the house visited them, just to make sure, and called a little bit later to confirm the diagnosis. But Annie had to go to work, so the task to keep the sick man safe and alive fell upon the doctor.
Venom allowed that. Dan is the only other human being who the symbiote trusts.
When the doctor arrived in a hurry- there was a 30 minutes period after Annie left and before he arrived, when the sick man was left alone- fortunately, Eddie was still alive.
But he looked absolutely miserable.
So Dan surveyed the environment and realised that the sick man would have a higher chance for survival if they transfered their seat to the other apartment. You know, guys, the one which has hot water and a proper heating.
And food other than chocolate and tater-tots.
After discussing this with the symbiote, Dan picked them up and made a comfortable little nest on their sofa for the coughing ex-journalist.
Then they, well, mostly Venom and the doctor, talked about the role of vegetables in the healthy lifestyle, and in the end, Dan could convince the other that sometimes human body needs other nutritients than the ones tater-tots could offer.
At this point the symbiote emerged fully from the sick man, and curiosity was all on its features. Dan prepared for a trip to get groceries, and Venom wanted to go with him. That meant „switching rides”, as Venom described it happily.
Well, no one says it wasn’t awkward. Eddie worried about an incomplete fusion and rejection, and Dan admitted that he fears the pain. In the end they agreed that for that short amount of time grocery shopping requires, no one will get hurt.
All it needed was a chaste kiss on those full, seducing lips.
It felt strange, but Venom promised not to invade his mind, and Dan couldn’t ignore the innocent excitement filling up his body as the symbiote fused with him.
As for Venom, it was like early Christmas. Of course he was worried for his Eddie, but he left him to get him some good food, healthy food, and maybe Eddie could rest better without him panicking in his mind.
Dan’s body is different, it’s something strange and new. Venom knows he is not a perfect host, he feels it, but it’s like trying out a brand new car. Dan is taller than Eddie, slimmer, feels fresh and healthy, and moves with a grace his Eddie was never capable of.
And the shop, this shop where Dan takes him! It’s nothing like those small and funny-smelling places Eddie goes. It’s huge, and light, and colorful, and clean, and there are infinite rows of goods and interesting stuff neatly organized.
Dan takes off his gloves and rubs his hands together as they enter the shop. Venom learned on the way here that the man tends to get cold easy.
"Green food is that way!" Venom purrs and stretches out in the man’s chest, like a big, lazy cat in front of the fireplace. Dan flinches a little, but feels warmth filling up his body.
"I know, let me grab this thing first."
It’s a strange, but not-so-uncomfortable experience shopping with an overly curious symbiote. Venom doesn’t stop asking, and after the naming of the fifth vegetable, Dan reminds himself to scold Eddie for his not-so-colorful eating habits.
But it’s fun. It’s more of a fun he first expected. The shop is warm and bright and the scents and colours of Christmas are everywhere. They spend a good time shopping, and in the end there are way more items in their basket they first intended to take. (Of course they bought some chocolate- who could resist such a supply?)
On the way back Venom retreats near his temporary host’s heart, careful, not to take more from him than necessary. Their bond is incomplete, and the symbiote doesn’t want this man to suffer. So he behaves and lets himself just feel. Dan is healthy, and a bit nervous, and tired after a 24-hour-shift, but so willing to take care about Eddie, without even a hint of anger or annoyance. Venom first didn’t trust this man, but now he is happy Eddie has, they have him.
"Are you alright there?" Dan asks and puts his hand above his heart, as if he knows the symbiote is right there. "You’ve grown quiet."
Venom knows they will get back soon, to take care of and pamper Eddie with love. There is one thing though, he wants to say before Dan gives him back to where he belongs.
"I know that you feel it too... you are not a perfect host. But you are a great friend."
Chapter 4: "Bah Humbug!"
Tricking the Trickster.
It was only the 4th of December, but Loki has already started to get on everyone’s nerves with his anti-Christmas behaviour. The Team could understand if someone doesn’t love to celebrate or doesn’t believe in some holidays, but ruining other’s mood with intent was another thing.
Revenge is a sweet thing, and brings people together.
It was still early in the afternoon when the God of Mischief decided to go shopping with Brunhilde. The valkyrie loved this season, mostly because of the wide variety of punches and other beverages.
Just as they were about to leave, Tony stepped beside the moody god and pushed his elbow between his ribs.
"Have fun, sunshine! The malls are filled with the jolly spirit of Christmas. Maybe even you can catch some of it."
Loki just shrugged.
Tony’s grin was not the type the god liked, but this bad feeling fell asleep as soon as he stepped out of the room.
When he returned, all of his earlier suspicions were forgotten. Tony greeted him with a shit-eating grin and inquired about that maybe he changed his mind. Loki just flipped him the bird and retreated to his quarters, thoughts occupied with the joys of a well-deserved bubble bath.
Stepping into his quarters, he stopped as if he walked into a brick wall.
He arrived in a nightmare.
There was not a single place left untouched. Anywhere his gaze wandered, horror awaited. During this afternoon spent in the mall, the others decorated his room.
Bright, flashing lights-green, white, and red- threatened his eyesight. Fat, white-bearded Santas were hunging from every place possible. An army of snowmen were scattered around, from huge, Thor-sized ones to tiny little baby ones, with their shining coal eyes and bright noses of carrots. There was a Christmas tree in its full glory in the corner, and the mistletoes could put out a whole forest by their number. Artificial snow covered every place left without a decoration.
As soon as he entered, „Jingle bells” started to play.
But the horror of horrors has just caught his eye.
His most treasured possession. His pride. His helmet. A pair of antlers were sitting on the golden horns.
His scream was so loud the windows started to shake.
Chapter 5: Getting into the Christmas spirit
Sometimes it only takes a lapful of tangerines to get into the spirit of the holidays.
It’s only the beginning of December, but the whole city is already in its full glory of Christmas. There are decorations everywhere, red-white-green, mistletoes and holly berries, reindeer and snowmen, and jolly, fat Santas. Still, work is a bitch- but seriously, every bad guy wants to conquer the world before Christmas, come on?- and they have more than enough to do, so until now they didn’t have the time to sit back and relax, let alone catch the holiday spirit.
It was a hard, boring day. Their mood is quite ruined. Tony plops down in the living room- the living room, in their favourite of the many- and just exists. The days are getting shorter with every dusk, it’s only half past four and almost dark outside. He feels like a spoiled child who cannot be happy about anything, and even when the others are starting to appear one by one he avoids to speak, not to say something nasty he would regret later on.
Clint is the first to arrive, and he lies down on the fluffy cushions covering the floor, with a chocolate bar he doesn’t intend to eat. Steve is the next one, and he takes place on the couch, the genius shifts a bit to give him enough space. Nat and Thor arrive together, and the god sits down next to the archer, stealing his chocolate right away. Nat lies down on the couch, lithe body across the two of them, legs over Tony’s thighs and head resting on the captain’s lap. Steve puts his book aside and starts massaging her scalp, and she closes her eyes with a sigh, relaxing into the touch.
Last but not least Bruce joins them, sitting down cross-legged on a comfy armchair, with a lapful of tangerines. The huge glass windows are behind his back, the warm lights of the oncoming holiday illuminating his frame.
Tony watches him intently, he just cannot get enough of the other man, and Bruce picks up one round little fruit from his lap. His thumb slides over the smooth, orange surface, gentle as a caress, and then he pushes down and the skin breaks beneath his nail, as he starts peeling off the soft rind.
He frees the sweet, juicy slices with slow, precise movements, and soon the room is filled with the good scent of orange. The room is dim now, they don’t bother to turn on the lights, there is just the golden glow from outside. In the meantime Clint and Thor joined them on the couch, and the bodies surround him with warmth. He feels Thor’s arm around his waist, Steve’s golden head is on his shoulder, and Clint’s breath is tickling his neck each time the man exhales. Tony sinks deeper into the soft fabric and the warmth, fingers sliding over Natasha’s arm, and he waches Bruce like there’s no more interesting thing in the world.
The doctor puts one clove between his lips and bites down, a tiny droplet of juice slides downwards on his skin just to be stopped by a flick of tongue. Then he lifts his head a little and their gazes meet. Bruce is facing them, back against the windows, and his eyes are dark in the dimness, and warm only for them. His lips curl into a soft smile and he shifts, and behind him there are the lights of winter.
Tony is stunned, breathless, and something inside his heart stirs as his thoughts finally calm down. The next moment Bruce joins them in the cuddling, and his skin smells like orange. Tony lets his lids drop low, and lets himself just feel: the glow, the warmth, the scents- melting into something that feels like all Christmas should. Home.
Chapter 6: "Do you wanna build a snowman?"
Peter is feeling down, but Ned is always there to help.
It all started with a snowy day. Peter woke up late due to arriving home way past midnight. Then he missed the school bus and Happy had to give him a lift. He missed the first class and got a detention. Flash bullied him all day long. Due to the detention, he had to cancel the afternoon with Mr. Stark. His mood was completely ruined.
Aunt May had a night shift, so she had already left for work when he finally arrived home, snowy and chilled to the bone. He just threw his backpack in the corner and slumped down on the floor, feeling himself this close to crying. Someone knocked on the door.
Please, go away. Peter thought, and curled up onto himself even more. If he pretends that he doesn’t exist, maybe the one outside will go away. Not now. No one’s here, see, no one’s answering, go away.
"I know you are there, Peter!" Ned’s voice came out muffled, but he could hear the thickness of worry in every word spoken. "Come on, buddy, let me inside!"
Peter shut his eyes tightly and pressed his lips together. He was determined not to answer. Not now. This day is ruined anyway.
"Pete, don’t shut yourself off from me!" The knocking on the door became a little bit frantic.
"Go away!" Even he was shocked by how wrecked his voice sounded.
"Don’t do this, let’s talk about it! Please, buddy, it’s starting to look like a break up."
He couldn’t help but laugh a little bit at this sentence. Just like in a romantic movie. The snow is falling, he locked himself inside, and his „other half” is desperately trying to reach him.
"Ned, not now, can’t you see I’m trying to be miserable?"
The knocking stopped. He could hear his friend shifting closer to the door, and curiosity made him standing up and walking towards the door a little.
Even with his super-hearing, Ned was whispering so quietly Peter had to take a couple of steps closer.
"What?" Why was he also whispering again?
A heartbeat of silence, and then Ned spoke again, voice shaking from suppressed laughter.
„Do you wanna build a snowman?”
Both of them bursted out laughing. Peter opened the door and stepped out, to join his friend in the suggested activity.
"How can I resist such an offer?"
Ned flung an arm around his shoulder, and still shaking from laughter, started to lead him out to winter.
"Forget this not, buddy, as long as I am beside you, I won’t let you feel miserable."
Chapter 7: Ice Skating
The Team goes ice skating.
"Whose idea was this again?" Tony asked panting, as he was trying to get on his feet, after falling on his butt three times in a row. Thor laughed and scooped him up gently, golden locks caressing his face.
"Don’t give up, my friend, you are doing great!"
"Well, I haven’t broken any bones so far, but „great” might be a little too strong of a word for this." The genius said, grabbing hold of the god’s bicepses to keep his balance. Still, his legs were shaking like the ones of a newborn fawn.
"At least you can stand for more than three seconds." Steve groaned. He was on his hands and knees right now, too far to reach for the planks. Frustration shaded his handsome features.
"Cheer up, Cap, we came to have fun!" Clint giggled as he glided past the grumbling man. He jumped and landed gracefully, then added three more spins to his figures.
"Show off." Tony muttered under his nose, grip like iron on the Asgardian.
As for Bruce, he was still standing where ice met solid ground, hugging a wooden post as if he wanted to fuse with it. Lips pressed tightly together, pallor on his face, eyes wide and dark with fear, he held onto, as if his life depended on it.
It was Natasha’s idea to go ice skating. As it turned out, half of the team knew how to do it, the remaining three had never tried it before. Natasha and Clint glided on the ice as if it was their profession, graceful, effortless, like dancing. Much to their surprise, Thor belonged to the „experts” side. Tony wondered about the perks of having an ice giant brother as he watched the god skating, with just a healthy amount of enviness.
Natasha stopped beside them, face flushed, eyes twinkling, and smiled.
"Clint, Thor, may I have your assistance? Come on, let’s help these guys. It’s not fun when half of the team can’t enjoy themselves."
"Brilliant idea!" Thor beamed, and started to pull the genius into motion. "The key is to find balance, my friend."
"Easier said than done." Tony gritted his teeth, but determination showed up on his face.
"It’s not harder than flying." Thor assured him, as he explained how to move and watch your step, why you have to turn like this, and which movements you should avoid. He was patient and eager to teach his friend, just like Tony was with him when the god asked about the things and habits Midgardians have, or when he was confused by something unseen before.
Meanwhile, Nat helped Steve on his feet.
"I’m sorry for being such a burden." The man said, avoiding her gaze.
"Even someone as perfect as you can’t be good at something he’s never tried before. To succeed, you need to practice first." Her smile was bright, warm, and reassuring. "Here’s the tip, start slow. Step by step. Come on!"
She led the man with steady hands, one step at a time, like Steve guided her on the road of redemption, across the shadows of her past.
"Don’t mind me, I’m fine." Bruce pressed the words through his teeth as he saw the archer approaching. Clint stopped beside him and put his arm around the other man’s waist.
"Oh, Bruce, it’s not fun unless everyone is around. Relax, I won’t let you fall."
He kept his grip strong and steady on his friend, then finally, Bruce sighed, and let go of the post, just to grab hold of Clint’s shoulders.
"That’s it. You are doing great. Get ready, we will start to move now."
They glided across the plain, shimmering ice, keeping a steady pace. Slowly, Bruce’s body relaxed into the touch, and for a moment his gaze left his own shaky legs, eyes fluttering shut.
"You okay?" Clint asked. Bruce nodded a bit.
"This is nice."
And here it was, the same trust Clint gifted this man, now he felt it slowly returning. He pulled Bruce a little bit closer.
"Yes, it is."
Chapter 8: Christmas Tree
Steve helps Phil buy a Christmas Tree.
Featuring OC Baby.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"Thank you for helping with the tree." Phil said as the other man tightened the ropes, wich secured the tree to the roof of the car. Steve pushed some golden strands out of his face and smiled.
Phil’s heart fluttered at the sight, and the baby in his arms started to wiggle his little legs, reaching out for the man. It seemed that father and son shared the same enthusiasm when it came to a certain soldier.
Pepper went back to work as soon her health allowed her but Phil enjoyed the life of a stay-at-home father. Still, he was grateful for every bit of help, cause baby Grant was a very cute but very energetic child.
There was still a plenty of time till Christmas but Phil didn’t like to leave things to the last hour, and he felt like going out for a tree would be a nice idea. Steve called him just before they were about to leave, and Phil had enough courage to ask the man if he wanted to join them.
Baby Grant loved being with his godfather, and they spent a very pleasant afternoon hunting for the perfect tree.
Steve laughed and took the ten-month-old in his arms. The little boy giggled happily, and reached out for the face of his namesake. Steve ruffled his soft, flaming red hair.
"The day is still young. Wanna go for a walk through the park?" The soldier asked, gesturing towards the snow covered winter wonderland.
Phil nodded, his smile growing wider. Going out turned out to be an excellent idea.
I love the idea of Phil and Pepper being together.
More drabbles of them with their babies will come soon.
Chapter 9: Stuck in a blizzard
The original six's jet gets stuck in a blizzard.
"Okay, guys, that’s it, we are officially stuck." Natasha says and puts down the comm which gives statical noises only. She rubs her tired eyes and turns towards her teammates.
Clint steps next to her and places one hand on her shoulder.
"Any additional damage we should know about?"
"The communication system is down. The emergency circuits are still working, but..."
"That means heating is blasted." Tony finishes and shoves the last bit of his damaged armour away.
"Wait a minute!" Cap frowns and his gaze shifts from the duo to the genius. "It means we are stuck in the middle of a blizzard without a proper heating?"
"No, Cap" Tony says and pats his arm. "Without any heating to be correct. Imagine the fun, waiting inside a metal capsule which slowly but steadily cools down to minus x degree..."
Having said that a shiver runs down his body, the thin undersuit which he wears was not designed for this kind of a weather.
For a few minutes they sit in silence, thinking about how to solve the problem, or just licking his wounds from the previous battle.
"Am I late for something?" A raspy voice asks and Bruce emerges from the shadows of the background. He is still a little wobbly, and blinks like an owl at his friends, through sleep-lidded eyes.
"Long story short, we are stuck." Tony huffs and rubs his arms in a feeble attempt to warm himself up.
"Oh, tragic." The man nods and slumps down unceremoniously, fighting off a yawn. Thor steps next to him and touches his arm.
"Aren’t you cold?" He asks, deep voice full of concern.
That’s when the others have a better look at the scientist. The scientist who wears nothing but a pair of torn, battle-worn pants. Alas the least practical clothing in the current situation.
"Hm? Nah, I’m good..." Bruce mumbles and smiles up at the god. Tony marches forward to his friend, and drapes an arm over his shoulder.
"Come on, Brucey, you don’t know what you are talking about, you are still half-asl..."
The genius stops mid-sentence and his eyes widen.
"What?" Bruce asks, and leans closer a bit, into the nice, safe embrace.
"Wow, man, you are like a furnace!"
"Oh, must be the gamma-metabolism..." Bruce mumbles. Tony flashes a wide grin at the others.
"Guys, problem’s solved, Brucie here will keep us warm till help arrives!"
"You mean, we should cuddle?" Clint chuckles.
"Why not?" The genius replies, and makes himself comfortable next to his science bro, pressing himself as close as he can. "Sharing body heat is one of the oldest survival tactics anyway."
"You can’t be serious!" Steve glares at them, disbelief clear on his features.
"Well, speaking for myself, it’s better than freezing!" Nat states and moves gracefully to sit on Bruce’s lap. The scientist blinks and blushes, but puts his other arm around her slim form. Natasha sighs and shifts closer. "It really is nice. You are so warm!"
Bruce blushes harder, and his blush only deepens when the archer joins them, to kneel behind and drape his form over the man’s back, pressing his cold body against his naked skin.
"I think if we keep Brucey embarassed enough, we might have a chance of survival." Tony grins and grinds closer to the flushed, tanned skin. Thor’s laughter vibrates through their body, as the god has already joined them, pressing himself against Clint’s back, and hugging their entangled forms.
"Come on, Cap, it’s no fun until everyone’s here!" Tony teases and Steve shakes his head.
"I can’t believe I’m doing this!"
The soldier sits down on the opposite, unoccupied side, and hugs them awkwardly. Despite his surprisingly firm muscles, Bruce’s body is soft, good for touching. Steve sighs, and moves a bit closer, and feels Thor’s arm shifting, to rest protectively around his back.
"See? It’s not that horrible."
"Shut up, Stark!"
Bruce just sits in the middle, and his mind tries to process what’s happening around him. There are bodies and hands everywhere, seeking warmth and comfort from the icy cold. It’s unexpected, but nice. Really nice. Bruce relaxes, leaning back towards Clint, knowing that Thor can easily hold their combined weight. It feels...safe. Bruce closes his eyes, and pulls Tony closer a bit.
"Is it good for you too?" Tony chuckles and earns a light smack from Nat on his head.
"Yeah...it’s good." Bruce mumbles, and a small, genuine smile curls his lips upwards. "I’m glad I...we can help."
Hulk growls inside his mind, satisfied. It would be unfair if puny Banner had all the credit for this.
Chapter 10: Hot chocolate and peppermint
Scott feels lonely and visits his family.
Scott rubbed his eyes and knocked once again, hoping that one of them will still be up (and willing to let him in). He heard the shuffling of steps and the door creaked open a bit.
Jim stood in front of him, and all of the sleepiness faded from his eyes as he saw who demanded entrance.
Before Scott could have said anything, the man grabbed him by his shoulders and hauled him inside. The door fell shut and his back hit the hard wooden surface.
Jim still had his hands on him, frantic fear replacing the dreams in his eyes.
"Are they following you? Are you hurt? Would you like to hide? What should I tell them? Are the girls in danger? The van is ready if we need to..."
"Hey, man, it’s okay, slow down a bit!" Scott raised his hands, and patted the other’s chest. "Nothing happened, I just thought why not drop by?"
I was lonely.
Once he made sure the other man understood what he said, Scott avoided his gaze. Still, he could catch as realisation showed up on the man’s features, and prepared for the worst.
"Oh, buddy!" Jim said, and (much to his surprise) pulled him into a bone-crushing hug. "You should have called, I would have picked you up, you wouldn’t have needed to walk in such a cold."
It felt nice, Scott had to admit. Warmth and safety, this evening he was yearning for.
"Yeah, you know I’m not the man of ideas." He chuckled weakly to hide the quivering of his voice. Jim’s soft laughter vibrated through his chest, and the man pulled away a bit, one hand still on his shoulder, to lead him further inside.
"The girls are asleep now, but you are welcome to stay."
Jim guided him towards the couch and pushed him down gently.
"How about some hot chocolate?"
Jim didn’t let him help with the drink, he asked him to get comfortable on the couch, preparing the sweets himself, and draping him into a soft, warm blanket.
"You are spoiling me." Scott mumbled into his drink, enjoying the warmth seeping from the mug into his cold fingers.
"You are a hero, you really deserve some spoiling." The cop laughed, and shifted closer. "Now tell me what’s eating you?"
When the lady of the house woke up the next morning, she found her men in the living room curled up on the couch, two empty mugs, and the faint scent of peppermint.
Chapter 11: Ugly Christmas sweater
Peter has a present for Tony and Happy.
"You are kidding me, right?" Tony says with utter shock and Peter’s grin couldn’t be wider.
"Come on, there’s no Christmas without an ugly sweater!"
And the sweater is truly an ugly one. It’s in the traditional colours of red-white-green, mistletoes and holly berries all around, has some abominable creature on the front- Tony suspects it to be a reindeer, but he is not 100% sure- and itchy even to touch, he doesn’t want to imagine what it would feel like to wear...
"No way, kid, I’m gonna put on this!!!"
"Oh, Mr. Stark, where is the Christmas spirit? I was hoping you will wear it on the party." Peter’s voice is shaking with a barely suppressed laughter, and his chocolate brown eyes are twinkling with mischief.
"Yes, Tony, where’s the Christmas spirit?" Happy has been laughing at his face since he opened the bag and saw the sweater inside. His grin, however, quickly melts into horror as the kid pulls out another bag and handles it over to the chauffeur.
"They match." Peter’s voice couldn’t be more innocent, and he is making puppy-eyes again, and Tony can’t decide whether to laugh or cry.
The next Saturday, they host the party at the Tower and of course both of them are wearing those damned sweaters.
Peter was right. They match.
Chapter 12: Mittens
A peaceful moment between Stephen and Wong.
Stephen was making tea, carefully balancing the polished wooden cup in the air. The steaming hot liquid flow from the kettle in a graceful arch. Good, spicy scent of herbs filled the room.
Perfect. Tea is served, and Wong could be back from shopping any minute now.
The sorcerer hummed absent-mindedly, a lullaby from long ago, as he rubbed his scarred hands together. The sanctum was filled with magic and secrets, but somehow the ancient masters hadn’t cared about one of the most basic things: the heating. Despite his best efforts, it was always a little chilly inside, especially during winter. Cold is not good for his hands, making the metal in his bones being felt, a constant discomfort through the days, and a burning ache for the nights.
The Cloak was floating beside him, helping him set the table and arrange the large, colorful pillows on the couch. Now it stilled, and darted towards the door, like a dog, and Stephen couldn’t help but smile. Moments after, he heard the front door open and close, the rustling of paper bags and the shuffling of a heavy winter coat heralded that his friend arrived.
"Need a helping hand?" He asked the guardian of the books with a little smugness in his voice, who was holding a tower of slightly wet paper bags in his arms.
"I’m good." Wong stated and somehow he managed to pull down his boots without dropping the bags on the other man. "It’s freaking cold out there!... Vishanti, do I smell tea?"
"Your nose never betrayed you, Master" Stephen laughed. "Drop the stuff in the kitchen, and join me, it will warm you up!"
He didn’t have to say it twice. Thirty seconds later the librarian plopped down beside him, and accepted a cup filled with honey-coloured, warm tea of herbs.
"It was one of my best ideas to teach you how to make tea properly! You have a secret talent for that. I don’t think I’ve ever drunk better than the ones you make since my granny died."
"Stop it, you are making me blush." Stephen teased him a little, but couldn’t help the fluttering warmth spreading inside his chest.
Till the first cups were not empty, neither of them spoke. Then Wong stretched and summoned a small portal to reach into the kitchen, to one of the bags.
"I’ve got something for you, hold on, just a sec...!"
Stephen tilted his head sideways, curiosity shimmering in his eyes.
"Yeah.. So I noticed you don’t like the cold, and it is always a little bit cold here and you have to spend quite a time here and I thought until we can find a solution for it you shouldn’t... so here you are!"
Having said he pushed a small package into the former doctor’s arms.
The Cloak floated closer, peeking over its master’s shoulder.
"Oh...!" Under the paper there was a pair of fluffy, dark blue mittens.
Stephen felt a lump forming in his throat and suddenly his eyes started to sting. He looked up to his friend, and tried to speak, to say something, to thank, but he couldn’t manage even a word.
Wong just smiled, soft and warm, and patted his hand gently.
Chapter 13: Sleigh ride
Uncle Nick goes sleighing.
The kids are jumping into his arms as soon as they realise their „uncle” has arrived. Nick has good reflexes, and he can manage two laughing balls of joy, a suitcase, and a box of sweets without losing his balance.
Laura walks out of the kitchen, her belly rounder than ever, and smiles.
"It’s good to have you here!" She greets him. Nick smiles back, and maneuvering one kid onto his back, he can hand her the sweets.
"Alright, little ones, I see mommy is still busy with lunch, who wants to go sleighing with Uncle Nick?"
The kids love the idea, and express their joy in the loudest ways possible. By the time they leave the house, Nick finds himself not only half-blind, but also half-deaf.
The cool, winter air is so clear one can almost bite into it, the snow is white and crispy, begging to be stepped on. The kids are happy and their laughter flies far on the wings of the wind.
Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., spends the next hour pulling them on the sleigh, across the farm. Shame or not, it’s an exhausting task, but no less joyful, and he finds it hard to admit he never wants it to end.
Seeing the kids, innocent and so happy...
"Okay, little bastards, I’ve got an idea! See that hill there? If you will be so nice and walk to the top on your own feet, I will slide down the slope with you."
His idea is greeted with screams of enthusiasm, and the children push and pull him up till they reach the top. Nick soon finds himself on the sleigh, balancing on the edge, one kid in his arms, the other clinging to his back. He pulls the knitted scarf tighter around his neck, and yells.
And down they go.
Chapter 14: "Marshmallows for toasting..."
Peter gains a new ally.
"Parker, wait!" Flash calls out, and Peter stops on his track. An uneasy feeling settles in his stomach, but he fights off the urge to run away. He doesn’t want to fight now, but there is something in the other boy’s eyes which makes him stay.
"Can I help?" He asks at last. "Grats for the speedy recovery, by the way."
And Flash, Flash Thompson blushes.
"I would like to have some words with you, if you don’t mind."
"Uh...okay, sure..." Peter says, and tries to hide the surprise from his features. Since when is Flash this nice with him?
The other boy gestures towards the building.
"Follow me, please, I don’t want anyone to hear this." He is still limping a bit, and wears the backpack on his unhurt shoulder only.
If he wants to beat him up, he won’t bother with hiding, so Peter follows him into one of the empty classrooms.
Flash closes the door behind them, and leans against one of the desks. He avoids his gaze and starts wringing his hands. Curiosity makes Peter say:
"Well...you know..." Flash mumbles "I was there when the museum was attacked..."
Oh, Peter knows. He, namely Spider man, was the one who interrupted the terrorist attack and saved the ones injured in the explosion.
"Yeah...it must have been rough..."
Flash laughs, small and weak.
"I was hurt in the explosion...with my leg trapped under the debris I couldn’t escape...the wound on my shoulder was bleeding so much I knew by the time someone finds me I will bleed out...everything was in flames and it hurt so much and I was so scared..." His voice trails off and a shiver wrecks his form. Peter can’t help, but shiver too.
He remembers too well, finding his classmate amongst the debris, trapped and half-bled out. He remembers the unhealthy pallor on the well-known face, the sick angle of his leg, how he went limp in his arms...
"Then, when everything was becoming dark, Spider man found me and saved my life."
Peter doesn’t know what to say, so he just nods and listens.
Flash raises his head, and their gazes meet.
"You saved my life."
There is neither question nor uncertainty in his glance, those large, brown eyes are shimmering with realisation.
"You are Spider man."
Peter is at loss of words. There is no use of denying.
"I was half out and almost paralyzed by pain, but then he said, you said my name. And then I realised..."
Silence falls upon them.
It’s Flash again, who breaks the silence.
"So what I was trying to say is.... thank you, for saving my life."
Peter pinches his arm a bit, to make sure he is not dreaming. Wow. He was not prepared for this, but...it feels good, to be honest. It feels good, because Flash doesn’t care if he is Spider man, and he doesn’t summon him to say he knows his other identity. He called him to say thanks to Peter. And it feels really good. He smiles.
Flash blushes even more, and starts rambling.
"I know I was a dick to you and hurt you and everything but please believe me I truly meant..."
"You know what?" Peter says, and offers his right. "Why don’t we go to my place, it’s more comfortable to chat there."
Flash hitches in a breath in surprise, then steps closer, and takes his hand slightly shaking, almost shy.
"My Auntie can make wonderful hot chocolate and we can have marshmallows too...marshmallows for toasting...our alliance."
And then Flash starts smiling too, and it assures them something new is beginning between the two of them, a bond from enemies to allies.
Chapter 15: "...And caroling out in the snow"
Dan invites the guys to spend the holidays with them.
Dan is wearing a pretty, dark blue overcoat, making his slim waist stand out nicely. Somewhere in his mind Eddie registers that the man is speaking, but all he can do is stare.
"Like what you see, hmmm?"
The voice in his head is filled with pure smugness. Eddie hisses, and through their thoughts he replies.
"Oh shut it! I just barely noticed..."
"...How sexy hips he has."
"...Ven, please, he is talking to us, I’m trying to concentrate!"
"But the only thing we can think about is how good his long legs would look around our waist..."
"...And caroling out in the snow. Would you guys like to come?"
All of a sudden the doctor finished his monologue, and now he is looking at them, expecting an answer. Fortunately, Eddie recently became good at dividing his attention, so he is not absolutely clueless. Dan was rambling about a „quiet little town of his childhood” and the „nice old ladies there” and something about „singing to them at Christmas Eve”. If he wants to do it with them, that means...
"Oh!..." Eddie says and he is blushing. Venom is laughing in his head.
"I mean... if you two don’t want..." Dan is also blushing now, a nice shade of pink spreads across his cheeks. "But we thought, Annie and I, that we wouldn’t mind to spend the holidays with the two of you guys..."
"Aw, isn’t he sweet?"
"This means...we are invited?"
"To spend Christmas with us." Dan nods, and smiles at them. Venom morphes out of Eddie’s shoulder, and leans forward curiously.
"Are there any chocolates in Christmas?"
"Yes, Ven, Christmas is full of chocolates." Dan’s smile grows wider, and Eddie just stares in awe, how comfortable they become to each other. "And those lovely old ladies will surely shower us with sweets. Especially Eddie, he looks like someone who could use some nurturing, and they love that." Was that a wink? Eddie is flushed, flattered, and in a vicious battle with his own feelings.
"Then we will come!" Venom purrs in delight, curling up as a little ball of goo on his host’s shoulder.
"Great! Annie will be so happy!" Dan is also looking happy, his eyes are shimmering with joy. Eddie knows they are lost now, his feelings are clear, and the promises of a holiday spent with Annie and Dan are making his imagination go wild.
"Kiss him already!" Venom chuckles. Eddie’s face turns into a dark shade of red.
Dan starts laughing, and leans forward, and in the next moment, hot lips are pressed to Eddie’s equally hot face. Then he turns a bit, and gives the symbiote a peck, making Venom almost melt.
"I’m so glad you guys will come." He says and Eddie finds himself grinning like an idiot. This Christmas will be great.
Chapter 16: Secret Santa
There is a Secret Santa at S.H.I.E.L.D. who visits the agents during every holiday.
I know the concept of "Secret Santa" is not fully like this, but I thought this idea would be nice.
Being an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. means sometimes you have to spend the holidays working. Everyone who signed up for this kind of work was aware of this, but around Christmas it could be very depressing.
Nick Fury had spent every Christmas at work since he joined them. And during those years, at Christmas Day, there was a small, neatly-wrapped present on the desk of the agents who had to work during the holidays.
It was his little secret, the only innocent one from the plenty he has to deal with. It was just like a mission, requiring careful planning, gathering informations about the agents and their interests, and very-very good timing not to get caught. He enjoyed every part of it, from the shopping to modifying the security cameras, so the cover of this mysterious „Secret Santa” will not be blown.
He had to use all of his stealth and experience, combined with a great amount of luck every year, so it really was like any other mission he did, with one very important difference: selflessness.
The best part was seeing the surprised faces lighting up with joy. All of the hard work was worth every time.
This year was not really different. Right after he placed the last present, he got called out for a last-minute meeting. He did what he had to, calmed down the enraged authorities, and headed back to his office in the promise of a quick nap before things will start again.
He stopped at the doorway as if there was a brick wall blocking his way.
On the dull surface of his desk, among scattered papers, there was a small, neatly-wrapped present waiting for him.
Chapter 17: „All I want for Christmas is You”
The prompt was: Anything having to do with „All I want for Christmas is You”.
It was around 3 o’clock in the morning when Tony decided maybe some coffee would help breaking the „scientist’s block” he was experiencing. He should have noticed the light and music coming from the kitchen, but his exhausted mind was busy with racing, mixed-up thoughts. When he realised he was not alone, it was too late.
Natasha was sitting on the counter in a penguin-onesie, eating raw cookie dough right from the bowl, singing along happily but terribly off-key to Mariah Carey’s infamous „All I want for Christmas is you”.
For a moment Tony just stood there in the doorway, taken aback by the unexpected sight. Then he turned around, heading for his quarters. Fuck coffee, all he needed was some sleep.
Chapter 18: Christmas lights
A small Clintasha moment.
They are nearing the quiet little town now, and Clint stops for a bit, to catch his breath. Dusk is upon them, and with a final flicker of gold, the Sun sinks into slumber. Harsh wind follows, tearing into their clothes, and the man shivers.
Below their feet, in the valley, the lights of Christmas come to life, heralds of the upcoming holidays.
Natasha is standing a few steps away from him, facing the shimmering stars. Her hair is the only colour in the endless whiteness, the flaming red locks like wings, soar in front of the eternal horizon.
Now she turns towards him, and smiles, the lights are kissing a golden glow on her temples.
Clint is laughing, and so deep in love.
Chapter 19: Baking cookies
Steve is baking cookies and Bucky is not much of a help.
"What a lovely flavour!" James says and steals another colourful, round little cupcake from the table. Steve shoots an unamused glance at him.
"Could you please not? They are for the movie night. I will never finish if you eat everything I bake!"
Bucky listens to his rambling unfazed, and his lips curl into an elvish grin. He is there with the sole purpose of annoying his friend.
"And what a pretty little apron!" He adds and winks.
Steve blushes so hard even his chest becomes red.
He is wearing a cute, baby blue gingham apron, with a matching ribbon around his waist. Unable to utter a smart comeback, the man quickly leans down to check the muffins in the oven.
"You look like an American dream!" Bucky laughs, and with a swift motion he jumps next to his friend, and smacks his butt playfully, but hard.
Steve yelps in surprise and bumps his head into the counter. He reaches back to grab the „attacker”, but Bucky is already running away, laughing, with a boxful of cupcakes.
"Next time use your real hand, asshole!" Steve shouts after him, and turns back to the oven, rubbing his sore butt.
Revenge can wait, he’s got things to do.
Chapter 20: Wrapping presents
Is not so easy with a kitten.
Nick has just managed to bring the heater back to life, yet it’s starting to cough again. He sighs. It’s not his day. This flat is small, dingy, and damp, the dying heater can give just enough warmth that his toes won’t fall off. And he’s got an important mission to accomplish.
He sighs and starts once again. Or he would start if he could find the goddamn scissors! There they are! What the ever loving God are they doing behind the cat food?
Speaking of cats, Ginger has just woken and she rubs herself to his knees, purring like a little engine. Nick smiles and scratches her back.
"Hello, little girl? Who is the softest little kitty in the world? Yes, you are!"
She flexes her paws and tilts her head, playful sparks are shining in her emerald eyes. Then with a mighty jump, she springs upon the unsuspecting papers.
Nick groans and doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
"Ginger, no! Play with something else."
By the time he can dig her out of the mess, half of the papers have long, thin, parallel scratches tearing across their fabric.
"Naughty girl!" He scolds her gently. "Don’t do this."
The „naughtly girl” just meows and paws his nose. Nick laughs and puts her down on the bed.
Maybe he can save bits from the papers. The more colourful the wrapping, the happier the reciever. Not a bad quote for the ones fallen in this testing task.
He shakes his head and mans up. Come on, Nicholas, you have to wrap just three. It’s not that hard it seems!
Well, he was wrong, he has to admit, as he pulls Ginger back for the umpteenth time, and tries to fish the shreds out from under her nails.
Still, after half an hour of heroic struggle and cutting himself only twice, he can save a couple of bigger bits from the various papers. If he is tactical enough, he can cover the boxes and glue the bits together.
The plan seems to work, mostly because Ginger is eating, and he can hide the presents in the wardrobe before she tests them more.
The other 30 minutes is spent with chasing her around, as she finds the ribbons instead, and decides they are the best dessert in the world.
Not to be joking, but he is totally exhausted when he manages to ty the last knot on the third present. He had to sacrifice the golden ribbon, though, but fuck it, purple matches the Christmas spirit just as well.
The room resembles a battlefield, bits of wrappings are lying everywhere he looks- even on the fucking curtain rod-, the bodies of the fallen, and all the flat surfaces are sticky with glue, thanks to the incident when he stepped on it chasing Ginger.
Ginger, who is munching happily on the last of the golden ribbon, tearing it to shreds with her tiny, sharp little claws.
"You are the devil." Nick sighs and pulls her into his arms. "Don’t you dare purring now! I am angry. Yes, yes I am."
But his voice breaks into a chuckle.
Later that evening, when he gets the fictional award for the „most creative way to wrap a present”, he just smiles.
"To be honest...I had a little help."
Chapter 21: Mistletoe
And a kiss shared under the mistletoe.
For years they have known each other. For years, secrets they shared, -things no other should know;- they fought against monsters, and aliens and madmen; imperfect they stood tall amongst heroes and gods.
A smile was shared every time they’ve met, a quick, knowing glance no other understood, and when they shook hands, the contact lingered longer than necessary.
Then, one rainy afternoon, the first phone call happened. And then the „it’s not a date, we just hang out a bit” in that cozy little bakery. Then the „movie-date”, like two teen, when she leant her head on his shoulder.
Or the first dance during the Christmas party, right now, when finally they just rock gently back and forth, sliding across the dance floor in a peaceful manner, lost in each others’ arms.
She smiles at him, and hooks her arms around his neck, and she is so beautiful in her green dress, and he is so deep in love.
Her gaze wanders up, and his follows, and one can’t tell it’s not Fate they stopped right under the mistletoe.
"Merry Christmas, Phil." She whispers, and the Universe glows in her eyes.
"Merry Christmas, Pepper." He says, and pulls her closer.
The first kiss is just like it should be: sweet and leaves them aching for more.
Chapter 22: Fireplace
A small moment between Tony and Thor.
Tony closes the door and shivers, it’s so damn cold outside! The cottage is quiet, he knows that the others are asleep, and after he kicks down his boots he basically tiptoes into the living room. Well, he was almost correct, Thor is awake, splayed on his belly in front of the fireplace like a big, lazy cat. The crimson glow of the flames dances along his beautiful frame, and Tony stands in the door and stares.
Thor stretches, turning on to his back, muscles bending in a graceful arch, and the shadows of the fire move over his golden hair. Now the god opens one eye and a sapphire gaze is on his face, and Tony is sure there is a smile beneath his words as the man speaks.
"I see you returned. Winter is quite harsh now." His voice is a deep, low rumble and Tony shivers, but from a different reason than before.
"Yeah, it’s freezing outside." Somehow he manages to answer.
"Why don’t you join me here? It’s nice and warm and I’m sure you are cold."
How could he resist such an offer? His legs move on their own accord and by the time Tony can think again he is beside his friend on the hearthrug. Those mesmerizing eyes never leave his own, and now the man understands. There is something in his friend, something ancient, something, that makes him who truly is: a god.
Tony shivers. There is a smile on Thor’s lips and before he can do anything he is pushed on his back- gently though- and Thor moves over him, like the night across the valley, and suddenly Tony is nowhere near cold.
Some of Thor’s golden locks fell forward, tickling his skin and the genius stares up, unable to say a word, face flushed and mouth dry.
Thor chuckles, it vibrates through his skin, into his chest, into his core. In the shade his sapphire eyes seem darker, and the scent of his skin- ozone, the wet scent of the ground after the rain- and his rumbling voice bring back memories: standing in the middle of a field after a summer storm.
"God..." He whispers. He is in awe. It’s intimate yet peaceful. Thor is large and warm above him, and smells like thunderstorm, and after a long, long time, Tony feels safe.
"Rest assured, my friend" Thor says. "As long as we fight side by side, you don’t have to fear the cold."
And Tony sighs- though it comes out almost like a sob- and lets his eyes close, lets his tired body relax, he wants to believe, he wants it so much to be true.
Natasha finds them in front of the fireplace hours later, as the crimson glow of the flames dances along their embraced forms.
Chapter 23: Gingerbread houses
Eddie and Peter with brotherly dynamic.
"...Thus came the wrath of the gods and before they could wake from the dread, a leaden weight made their limbs heavy and terror their chests tight, the curse, oh, it fell upon them, and soon the screams died, as silence settled over, for eternity."
"Oh-kay, it’s a little sick, to be honest!" Peter says, wide-eyed, a piece of the fence still in his hand.
"Come on, kid, I’m just spicing it up a bit!" The man laughs and bites into one of the characters of his twisted tale.
"Hey, we are building the house, not tearing it down!"
Eddie chuckles and shoves the rest of the poor figure into his mouth. The battle was rough, and Venom fell asleep, having used all of his energies, and Eddie is so damn tired he could cry. Still, he promised, that he will help Peter, and for him only, Eddie will be there. (You know, instead of drooling onto a soft pillow, deep in slumber in the embrace of a comfortable bed.)
"Yeah, I’ve got the message, kid."
No one would think such a gentleness of his big, strong hands, as he curves feather-like patterns on the smooth surface of the bread, from sticky, red and green syrup.
Peter just shakes his head.
"Honestly, man how much sugar can you eat all at once?"
"Says the boy who robs the fridge every evening!" The man nudges him gently and Peter blushes.
"It’s...it’s because of my Spidey-metabolism!"
"Well, and as for me, it’s because an adorable parasite."
Eddie picks up the parts and glues them together with the sweet, white syrup, forming a tiny well in the garden.
Peter gets caught staring, how those hands, which showed him how easy destruction can be, now build and create, a whole new from broken parts.
His own, smaller hands hold two tiny figures, two damned souls from Eddie’s wicked tale, cursed for silence for an eternity. He places them together in the doorway, and makes sure their tiny, edible hands touch as they stand guard forever.
Or at least till someone eats them. He can just hope they will be eaten together.
The man is munching on something, which once supposed to be a reindeer.
"So much for Rudolph!" Peter sighs and Eddie just shrugs.
"It wouldn’t fit in the picture, anyway."
"It’s a Christmas gingerbread house, please, make place for some Christmas-things next to your haunted souls!"
Thus they compromise, and this is the story of how a snowman found himself on the roof.