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Always Perfect Until

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"One's first love is always perfect until one meets one's second love." - Elizabeth Aston

At first he didn't recognize the signs. It had been so long since he'd felt the warmth low in his belly that spread up his chest and down his thighs, the throbbing pain in the small of his back, his skin so sensitive that even the light workout clothes he was wearing felt like sandpaper and only rubbing against things gave him any relief from it without tearing every article off of his body. It had been so long since he could almost literally taste the scents in the air, some repelling, some more attractive than he could describe. It was only when he simultaneously snarled and quite literally bared his teeth while trying to get closer to the hand Tony had pressed to his shoulder that he realized what was going on. It had been so long…so long since his last heat. He hadn't had once since just before he lost his Bucky, his mated Alpha. When he'd come out of the ice to find that he'd lost the only reminder of that mating and hadn't had another heat for nearly two years he figured the trauma of losing his mate and his latest pregnancy, combined with being in the ice for nearly 70 years had killed that part of him. In truth, he'd been relieved to think that he'd never have another heat. Even now, as he felt the earliest pangs of it and finally recognized them for what they were for, it felt a little like a betrayal to Bucky's memory. The fact that the mating mark that Bucky had refreshed the night before he died had completely faded only made it that much harder.

"Jeez, Steve!" Tony shook his hand dramatically though Steve knew his snapping teeth hadn't been anywhere near it, "Just wanted to check on you. You're putting off enough pheromones to knock out a rhino, buddy. I'm going to assume this is your first heat since your time as a capsicle. And what's that about anyway? All of the history books paint you as God's Perfect Alpha and Gift to All Omegas or something. And…"

"Tony," Steve growled. Usually he found Tony's particular brand of verbal vomit entertaining now that he knew the genuinely good man behind it, but the pheromones being released into his bloodstream by his heat addled brain were only serving to put him on edge and he couldn't follow it at all. And that was making him angry. Of course it wouldn't be anything like Bruce's level of anger, but he knew just how much danger he could put people in when he lost control. And that was only making him more frustrated with his current state. He moaned and pulled at the neckline of his relaxed t-shirt even though it wasn't remotely tight.

"Okay, okay…" Tony held up his hands, "History lessons later. After. Whenever. So, you have a plan for your heat, O Captain, my Captain?"

"Don't even think about making a joke about helping me through it, Tony." What he meant to be another growl lost some its potency when it ended on a whine and he had to force his hands to still at his sides, fists clenched, so that he wouldn't tear his clothes from his body.

"I wouldn't joke about something like that, Steve," Tony assured him and for once he even sounded sincere, then he became himself again, "Besides, even if I wanted to offer to help you through, you'd tear me apart once you were deep into it. How did you and…"

"Like fuck am I going to give you details about how Bucky and I spent my heat, Stark," Steve didn't even try to growl, despite his words. It was getting harder to focus on anything; his sight was going in and out. The clothes were becoming a real problem. With another low whine he stumbled from the stool he was sitting on at the bar and forced his vision to clear long enough to make it to the elevator, pushing his way past Tony as gently as he could manage. Tony still stumbled back three steps and almost fell on his ass.

"Jesus Christ, Steve," He exclaimed as he moved to support Steve when he swayed and almost lost his own balance as he waited for the doors to open. Steve pulled away before Tony could touch him, but it made him dizzy to whirl around so fast and he fell against the wall.

"Don't touch me, Tony!" He begged even as his body arched toward the alpha in front of him, "If you touch me…If I get your scent on me…I don't know how…I don't think I'll be able to stop. And you're right…I'd…I'd hurt you."

"Okay, okay," Tony relented and backed away, "But, Jesus, Steve. What are you on? Day one? You can't do this alone. It'll drive you crazy, man."

"You know anyone I wouldn't kill?" The whine in Steve's voice was half sarcastic, half imploring, almost hoping that Tony might actually have the answer like he always acted like he did.

Tony ran a hand though his hair, his scent bleeding distress, as Steve tumbled into the elevator when the door opened, "I don't know. Maybe Xavier has someone who wouldn't mind or something."

"Or something," Steve moaned as the elevator door slid closed. He fell against the wall and fought to keep his hands at his side when all he wanted to do was run them up and down his overheated body. He managed to hold himself together on the short elevator ride until the door finally slid open to reveal his private floor. He stumbled out of the elevator and nearly fell to his knees in his attempt to rip his clothes from his body as quickly as possible. Usually waste made him uncomfortable, a leftover from being raised during the Great Depression, but he was so far gone that he couldn't even care when he realized ripping his clothes from his body meant he literally ripped them from his body. The cloth was nearly shredded by the time he managed to get everything off. He was more grateful than he could say for that silent support JARVIS offered, lighting his path back to his room by illuminating the lights one by one as a simple path for him to follow. His hands were shaking by the time he made it back to his room and the ridiculously large bed that Tony had put in it. He cursed when he realized he didn't even have anything to attempt to see himself through. He'd never thought to have another heat. And now…Not even a knotted dildo to try to fool his body with. The natural lubricant that all omegas produced while aroused was already slicking his entrance. He'd always produced more than enough. He and Buck had never needed any lubricant. Small favors, he thought, as he felt a fresh wave of it from his backside begin to wet his thighs as well.

His breath hitched and he gasped as he threw himself on the bed, swiped all of the pillows and blankets from it and knelt, putting his face close to the warm, neutral scent of clean laundry and his backside high in the air. He'd almost hoped that such a neutral scent would at least calm the fire running in his blood, but it was all to no avail. His hips jerked as a fresh wave of arousal ran from his belly outward, causing a tingling in his fingers and toes and another gush of lubricant between his legs. He sobbed, mostly in frustration, but some in a sorrow too deep to express, as he reached behind himself and plunged two fingers into his entrance, already loosened somewhat just by its own natural processes. He howled at the feel. Not enough. It could never be enough. He felt the tears rolling down his face, the mucus coming up in his chest from his sobs and making his breathing rough. Tony was right. There was no way he was going to be able to make it through this alone. It would break his mind. In some ways it was almost a relief to know. But in others…there was so much more he wanted to do. As much as he missed and mourned his old life, he'd found purpose in this one and it just seemed…wrong…to have it end like this.

His thoughts scattered again and he screamed as he thrust his fingers into himself again and again with all of the considerable strength in his body. Each thrust moved him further and further up the bed until he no longer had space to move and his head hit the wall. He didn't know if it was a minute or an hour of sobbing, thrusting his fingers into himself, and finding no relief before he lifted his head and slammed it against the wall purposefully, desperate to feel something other than his intense need. And when it didn't help he slammed it against the wall again and again until he could feel the blood running down his forehead. He was so lost in the overload of sensation that he didn't even hear the door opening or realize anyone was in the room until a large, gentle hand was between his head and the wall.

"No, Steven. No more of that now," A deep, loving voice said quietly and Steve sobbed again, this time in some semblance of relief, as the hand turned his face from the wall until he was looking up at the alpha whose scent was like lightning in the forest and old leather. He rubbed against the callused and somehow still so gentle hand that cupped his chin as a cool, wet cloth was run over his face, cleaning it of tears and blood and refreshing the overheated skin.

"Thor," Steve whimpered when it all finally hit him that there was an alpha touching him, an alpha in the room with him, and he shot up from his prone position, trying to crawl into Thor's lap. The god had one hip on the bed and had already stripped his shirt, clad only in a well-fitting pair of jeans with the button undone. His long, golden hair was pulled into a loose braid and his electric blue eyes were bright. Steve was certain he had never wanted anything as much as he wanted to scent the gorgeous creature in front of him but the bigger man was gentle and firm in holding him still. He rubbed the back of Steve's neck, up into his hair, down to his scent gland where bonding marks were made until Steve was nearly purring, his body loose and pliant.

"Slowly. Slowly, love," Thor murmured, gentling him back into laying on his back on the bed while he ran his hands and the cool cloth over Steve's body, relaxing him and taking the edge off of his need. Just having an alpha's hands on him was making it better. The need was still there, but it wasn't as urgent. He knew it wouldn't last long. Thor's pheromones would saturate the room soon and he would be just as desperate, just as needy as before, but for now he could breathe. For now he could think.

"Thor…" He said quietly as the alpha before him concentrated on cleaning him. It was something old-fashioned, had already been going out of style when Steve was young, but somehow beautiful. An alpha cleaning and tending to the omega who was going to allow him to share a heat. Tending to Steve, who was going to trust him to do nothing in the throes of that heat that wouldn't allow outside of it when he was too far gone to make a decision. It didn't surprise him that Asgardians still practiced the old ways.

"Thor…" Steve reached out and laid a hand on Thor's arm to get his attention while he was calm and able to think, "What about Jane?"

"The Lady Jane and I ended our romance some time ago," Thor explained as he re-wet the cloth and ran it over Steve's arm, paying attention to each finger when he reached his hand, "After the first bloom of attraction and affection between us faded the lady came to the realization that she has no desire to take a mate, that her work means more to her than a romance ever could. I loved her so. I could not begrudge her that which will make her happiest in this life. In time, I believe we will be friends."

"And you? Do you want a mate?" Steve asked.

"I do," Thor admitted quietly, "I have reached the age at which a man begins to think of a mate, pups."

"Do you…do you want to mate me?" The logical part of Steve's mind knew that it wasn't wise to mate during the first shared heat and didn't know if he ever wanted to take another mate at all, but the omega part of his mind was begging Thor to take him, mate him, and put a litter in his belly.

"Perhaps," Thor's smile crinkled the corners of his eyes fetchingly, "In time. Not this heat, Steven. I have always been drawn to you, from the moment you interrupted my battle with Stark, and if you allow me to court you after our time together is past I would count it an honor. Should we find love in that courting and we arrive at the decision together, only then will I mate you. Do you trust me enough to allow me to see you through your need?"

"Yes," Steve nodded, gasping when Thor finally ran the cloth over his slicked entrance, "Yes." He moaned when Thor did it again, gently, so gently.

"You are stunning, Steven. Do you know just how beautiful I have always found you? As beautiful on the battlefield, covered in mud and blood as you are right now, stripped bare and needing so much. Will you let me give you what you need, dear one?"

"Please," Steve moaned, the cloud of arousal taking over his mind again, "Please."

"You shall have it. You shall have me."

"Thor..." Steve arched his back when Thor gripped his hardened cock and began to stroke him slowly. He panted, breathing in the pheromones that Thor was beginning to release as his own arousal grew.

"A first release to give you some relief before we lose ourselves to the passion, Steven."

"Thor," Steve moaned, nearly coming off the bed when Thor jerked him with a firmer, though no faster, touch and slipped a finger into his body.

"Gently, gently," Thor chided in his soft, low way, "There will be time enough for quickly later. Let this first one come slowly."

"I can't," Steve moaned, his head thrashing against the mattress.

"You can, Steven," Thor encouraged. Steve gasped as Thor leaned over and pressed their mouths together in a sweet, heated kiss, pressing his advantage right away and slipping his tongue in. Steve cupped Thor's face with both of his hands and drank from the beautiful man as surely as Thor drank from him. He cried out against Thor's mouth at the heavy, flowing feel of the pleasure rising in his lower belly, like molten magma. No one had ever been able to gentle him through an orgasm like this in the midst of his heat, not even Bucky. But, Steve supposed, Thor had thousands of years experience. Thor slipped a second finger inside of him and Steve was lost. His back arched off the bed and his mouth opened in a silent scream as his orgasm crashed over him and left him shaking and weak.

His chest heaved as he pulled in great gulps of air and by the time he came back to himself Thor was smiling down at him again, the sun behind his head framing him like a halo. Steve smiled in response to the simple happiness on Thor's face and reached for him. Thor had finally taken off his jeans while Steve was recovering from the orgasm and Steve couldn't help but gasp as the thick, hard evidence of Thor's arousal rubbed against his sensitive backside when Thor allowed himself to be drawn down to the bed and between Steve's legs. They kissed lazily for a moment, Steve not fighting it this time when the heat fog began to take over his mind again. He groaned, half in arousal, half in annoyance when Thor sat up on his knees, pulling Steve up. He situated them so that Steve's legs were wrapped securely around his waist and leaned forward to press his nose to the juncture between Steve's neck and shoulder, taking deep breaths of Steve's unique scent into his lungs, allowing the pheromones and scent to bring him fully to arousal.

"I am not in my rut," Steve heard him say quietly as he leaned forward to scent Thor just as Thor was scenting him, "And I am glad for it. No risk of pups and I will be fully in my mind to take care of you, Steven."

"Alpha…" Steve whined, surprising himself. It had taken years for him to defer to Bucky like that. He chalked it up to it being his first heat in seventy years. He pulled the hairband out of Thor's hair and buried his hands in it, nearly purring, when more of Thor's scent was released and washed over him with the long golden hair that fell over him, like a shield from the world.

"Steven…" Thor held him tighter in his strong arms, "You are such a sweet thing."

Steve made a small noise of happiness from deep in his throat as Thor laid him down again, keeping his legs wrapped firmly around his waist. Steve rubbed his moistened entrance against Thor's hard cock, and pushed back against it, feeling himself fading against his need to have Thor inside him once more. He whined when Thor kissed him again instead of putting his cock in like Steve's body was begging him to do. Thor chuckled against his whining mouth and gripped Steve's hair gently in one strong hand.

"Don't worry, Steven," He said. It was taking everything Steve had to focus on just his few words, the heat becoming too much to think through. He screamed, long and hard, a primal release, when Thor snapped his hips forward and that massive, gorgeous cock was buried to the knot in one smooth thrust. The last thing Steve was aware of was Thor's dark voice and a promise.

"I will give you everything you need."

Chapter Text

Steven was still sleeping when Thor woke slowly, the sun shining into the room pleasantly and warming them with its rays, on the morning of the sixth day since Steven's heat had begun. He couldn't help but smile against the back of Steven's neck and place a kiss to it when he realized that they'd slept an entire night through. Which could really only mean one thing. He took a tentative inhale, deep and even, to confirm his suspicions and placed another kiss to Steven' neck, knowing that he wouldn't have the chance to do so later, because their time together was coming to an end. The pheromones were dissipating and Steven's heat was nearing its completion. It had been many years since he had seen an omega through their time, the last had been Hogun, before Sif had finally relented and let herself reveal to him just how much she wanted him, how much she loved him. She'd been more nervous than he'd ever seen and he more serene, the day she declared her intentions before the court. They'd been mated on his next heat and were mated still, nearly a thousand years later.

In hindsight, he supposed he should have realized that his relationship with the Lady Jane wasn't going to be what he'd hoped, a lifelong love like his mother and father, and his brother and his mate, when she'd refused to let him see her through her heat. She'd told him they weren't very strong and never lasted more than two days and she preferred to just see herself through. He'd thought, at first, that she was everything he'd ever wanted. A beautiful, intelligent omega who didn't care for him, didn't want him, as the Crown Prince of Asgard. She'd wanted him as the quite possibly insane, passionate, humble man that his father's punishment had made him. And he'd thought that it would last, that they would mate, have children, and he would ask his father for permission to give her one of Idunn's apples, something that hadn't been granted to a mortal for millennia. But, she hadn't felt the same. She'd found him fascinating for a time and, perhaps, if he hadn't been away so long more would have grown for them. But where absence had made him want her more, absence had made the idea of him fade for her.

He couldn't regret the time he'd spent on Asgard after his punishment. It had taken time to heal Loki's fractured psyche, to convince him that they were his family, to get him back to health in body, mind and spirit. They'd come so close to losing him when he'd let go of Grungier, but Odin had thought fast and dropped to his knees, giving Thor just that more reach to take hold of Loki's collar and pull him back. He'd fought against them every step of the way, so much so that it had set off the warning bells in Frigga's mind. She'd had him sedated by the healers and spent many intense hours, Thor and Odin by her side lending her strength, working through her younger son's mind and magic until she'd found the spell woven so deeply that she doubted Loki was even aware of it. It had worked perfectly, convincing him that even the smallest slight was a demonstration of disregard from the people that surrounded him, the people who'd always loved him. It had worked on all of them as well, making Loki's accomplishments seem somehow less than they were. It had isolated him from them for nearly a half-millennium. She'd tracked the unique magical signature to a once student of hers, and Loki's, the Lady Amora. By the time they knew what was happening the Lady had already made her escape, leaving behind an ominous threat that she'd be returning with the being who had ordered her to fracture the Asgardian royal family someday and Asgard would fall.

When Loki had woken, finally free from the spell, he'd fallen into their mother's arms, the relief almost too great for him to bear. He'd been hidden away in their parent's quarters for days while Thor worried just outside the door as Frigga and Odin helped him work through his heritage and everything that had happened from the time Amora had placed her spell on him until they had finally realized what was happening and broken it. In the end, after Thor had been invited in as well, they'd all helped Loki mourn and finally accept himself and their love. It had been hard, seeing his brother so unsure of himself. But, free from Amora's spell things had become as they once were when Loki was his closest friend and much loved brother. It had been one of the joys of his long life to watch Loki and one of his closest friends slowly and sweetly fall in love. He'd witnessed their mating and the birth of their first pup before the Bi-frost was repaired.

When he'd finally returned to Midgard he'd immediately been swept up in an attack on the planet by Amora and the Chitauri fleet that she was commanding. Still claiming that she was serving a dark lord he'd managed, with the help of a strange and wonderful group of new friends, to not only save the planet that he loved, but return Amora to be dealt justice on Asgard and the Tesseract to his father's vault. It was with his father and mother's blessing that he'd returned to Jane and attempted to rekindle their romance. At first she had seemed receptive, but soon they were spending less and less time together as she lost herself to her research on the Bi-Frost and the movements of the realms. It was when she finally admitted that she'd rather see herself through her heat that Thor knew their romance had ended. He'd left the home they shared in London, almost hoping that she would follow, but when they'd next spoken she'd only said she hoped he was happy where he'd relocated to. It had been a hard pill to swallow, but he wasn't sure the he regretted that now.

If Jane hadn't ended their romance when she did he would not have felt himself free to see Steven through his heat and that would have been an incredible regret in his long life. From the moment he'd seen Steven, beautiful and proud, he'd felt a stirring within him like he'd never felt before. When he'd taken him in his arms for a comrade's embrace after their victory Steven's scent had overwhelmed him. Ice and something sweet that he'd only later found out was a Midgardian baked good. Apple pie. He could smell the despair on him. Love lost. It took a strong being to survive after losing their bonded mate. Stronger still to survive the loss of the entire world he'd known. He'd been fascinated by the quiet strength when he wasn't leading and the commanding presence when he was. He'd been amazed at how Steven's mind worked, amazed that his tactical mind far out-stripped Thor's own, despite the fact that he'd been alive so much longer. No matter who the enemy Steven adapted. He'd impressed Thor in all ways since first he saw him and he'd found himself wanting the omega more and more with each passing day they spent in each other's company.

He hadn't planned on being the only one who could help Steven through the first heat he'd experienced since losing his love, but he couldn't and wouldn't regret it. Steven had been gorgeous and passionate, all fire and need. But, he'd been no shirking violet as some of the omegas Thor had known were. He'd taken his pleasure when he wanted it, held Thor's hands to the bed more than once in his passion, riding him with care only for his own release. It had been stunning. Thor had told him before the heat had taken over Steven's mind that he was glad he wasn't in his rut and it hadn't been a lie. He was more grateful than he could say that he would remember everything of the past five days. Just knowing the passion in Steven's body and existence just made him more certain that Steven was the omega he would one day mate, the one he'd been waiting for all his existence. He knew Steven didn't feel the same way. Not yet. But, he hoped someday Steven would come to love him just as he loved Steven. He would court him, and court him well, in the hopes of that very eventuality.

"Hmm…" Steven hummed from the back of his throat and stretched like a lazy cat as he came awake.

"Hello, dear one," Thor smiled down at him, resting his head on his hand as Steven turned over and looked up at him.

"Hello." The smile on Steven's face was good to see. Thor had almost feared he would see regret in those beautiful eyes. He didn't dare press his luck by leaning down for a kiss as he wanted to, though.

"I think we made it through," Steven said after a moment.

"That we did," Thor agreed amiably, stroking a single finger down Steven's arm.

"Thank you, Thor."

"There is no need to thank me, Steven. I meant what I said. I intend to court you and if you find love with me, mate you."

Steve laughed softly, "You're very forward."

Thor chanced a kiss to his forehead, "When I am certain of what I want."

"I…I trust you, Thor," Steve admitted quietly, "You saw me through my heat and you never tried to mate me when I couldn't resist, when I was begging you to do it. I…I think I'll be glad to be courted again, but please…"

"We shall take it as slow as you'd like, love. May I kiss you?"

Steve just smiled and nodded. The kiss was a sweet, simple meeting of the lips that Thor didn't try to deepen, not wanting to cheapen the moment. When he pulled back he sat up completely and watched, chuckling as Steven's eyes went comically wide.

"Jesus," Steve sat up and ran his fingers over Thor's chest, "Did I do that?"

Thor looked down at the grooves made by Steve's fingernails. He hadn't torn the skin, but the scratches were red and angry-looking and Thor knew they covered both his chest and his back. He pressed Steve's hand against the worst of them with his own and looked at him through his lashes.

"You were very passionate, Steven."

"Do me a favor and make sure you wear a shirt the next couple of days? I really don't want to have to deal with Tony if he see them."

"As you wish. But, come. We must bathe and then I must announce my intention to court you to our brethren."

"You're very old fashioned." Steve observed and for the first time Thor was unsure of himself.

"Is it…"

Steve pulled him into another chaste kiss, then pressed their foreheads together, "I like it. After so much modern I could do with a little old fashioned. Care to join me in the shower? Wash my back?"

Thor jumped from the bed and swept Steven in his arms before he could protest, "Love to."

Chapter Text

Thor, Steve found out in very short order, took courting very seriously. And he was very, very old-fashioned about it. Steve had never been to Asgard, but what little he knew of it by getting to know Thor told him that it must be an intriguing place where the traditions of bygone days and incredible feats of scientific advancement lived side by side in complete harmony. It was endearing to hear Thor speak about theoretical physics in certainties with Tony and Bruce and then turn around and be completely baffled by a turn of phrase Tony used in the same conversation. He was so much more intelligent than the media and general public seemed to understand, and yet so incredibly…pure that it sometimes made Steve want to simply cock his head and observe him, as if by watching him long enough he'd figure him out. It wasn't innocence. It could never be innocence with Thor's upbringing as a warrior, but there was something almost childlike about his emotional reactions. When he felt anger it was a terrible sight to see and the thought of it alone made a cold shiver run down Steve's spine, but when he felt joy…It was like the sun it was so bright and Steve couldn't help but be affected by it.

His joy had been infectious when Steve had agreed to his courting and they'd laughed their way through their shower, unable to keep their hands off of each other as they washed and only pausing in their laughter long enough to share deep kisses as their worn-out bodies made admirable attempts to show interest and failed. But, they just laughed at that, too. There was no shame in having no physical interest after six days of nothing but. Halfway through their shower together Thor dropped to his knees in the water and wrapped his arms around Steve's hips, pressing a kiss to the firm abdomen and then smiling up at him. It was something alphas often did with omegas they intended to mate, Steve remembered, a silent sign that they were willing to have and raise pups with their chosen. Steve smiled down in response, but quickly grabbed the shampoo to run it through Thor's long locks, causing the Asgardian to close his eyes and purr in pleasure. Steve didn't want him to see the tears in his eyes that he wouldn't let fall. He couldn't bring himself to tell Thor of his greatest shame. He felt like a sham, not telling him, but, for the first time since he'd woken, he wanted something for himself and he thought maybe he deserved happiness. So, he was going to take it. And as Thor returned the favor and washed his hair, smoothing tense muscles as he helped Steve rinse it, Steve let the shame go. Just for a bit. He deserved to dream and be happy. Just for a bit.

After their shower Thor had taken a great deal of time helping Steve dry and rubbing creams and lotions into sorely abused skin. Steve followed suite and rubbed ointment on Thor's deep scratches, already looking less angry, and combed his hair, not quite yet willing to lose their closeness of the past few days. They'd dressed slowly and Steve recognized it as the first overture of their courting when Thor presented him with a leather gauntlet to wear on his wrist. When he'd retrieved it, Steve had no idea, because he was certain that Thor had come into the room in a t-shirt and jeans at the beginning of his heat, but it didn't really matter. It was an article of Thor's clothing, something to display to other Alphas that Steve was spoken for. Steve gave him his dog tags in return, intending to show just how serious he was about the courting. His dog tags were some of the last things he had from his old life. Thor seemed to understand and traced the letters on them reverently before he placed them over his head. Steve felt something low in his belly that he'd never felt before to see his name resting just over Thor's heart and was glad Thor was receptive to his courting gift. Steve knew it was usually alphas who made all of the overtures, but he didn't intend to let Thor be the only one actively involved in their courting. Perhaps both parties being involved was an Asgardian tradition, because Thor hadn't even batted an eye.

After they exchanged and put on their respective gifts Thor took his hand and led him to the common room, where the others were gathered, obviously waiting for them and failing miserably at trying to look like they weren't. The forced casualty of the situation made Steve snort out a laugh, especially when their team snapped to attention at seeing them.

"I intend to court Steven," Thor announced before Tony could get a smartass remark out, "And to mate him if our courting finds him amenable."

"I intended to be courted and to court Thor in return," The words felt stiff and formal, as if from a remembered dream, but from Thor's radiant expression they were just right.

"Congratulations," Pepper said sincerely, walking toward both of them with her hands outstretched. They both took one and leaned in to place small kisses to her cheeks. It was unspoken among the Avengers, but Pepper was their matriarch. Alpha and omega alike, they deferred to her in matters of the home and the heart. Perhaps old traditions had not been wiped out as greatly as Steve had thought. Their team was lining up behind Pepper, ready to extend their congratulations to the courting pair. It seemed old-fashioned to Steve, but made a warm feeling rise in his chest. He'd always like the tradition of friends and family wishing a newly courting couple well.

"Not that you need it, but I support this courting."

"Thank you, Lady Pepper."

"Congrats, Big Guy, Spangles," Tony snuck in behind Pepper and wrapped his arm around her waist, setting his chin to her shoulder and reaching a hand out to shake Thor's strongly. They couldn't biologically mate, as they were both alphas, but Steve had never seen a more compatible pair than Pepper and Tony. He was glad they were so powerful. No one looked at them twice and those who did excused them as eccentric because of their money, their power, but Steve knew love when he saw it and, able to mate or not, Tony and Pepper were deeply in love. Steve expected some sort of joke or something from Tony when he turned to look at him, but Pepper ushered him away before he could get it out. Steve couldn't help a small laugh as Tony began to complain right away and Pepper scolded him right back. Their bickering was familiar and comforting.

"Congratulations," Natasha held out her hands in the same way Pepper had and they both kissed her. As per the old traditions that they seemed to be following Bruce stood just behind her, as her mated Omega, but breaking with tradition, stepped up even with her and shook both of their hands in congratulations. Natasha quirked the corner of her mouth up in the way that meant she was particularly pleased by something and took his hand before they stepped away. Steve was glad they'd found each other. Some of Bruce's inner demons had come from the fact that his experiments had taken away his intended purpose as an omega, as he saw it and as his father had told him many times, of carrying and giving birth to some strong alpha's pups. Though it was only one of his many demons, meeting and mating with Natasha, who had been sterilized by the Red Room and would never be capable of siring pups, had put that particular demon to rest. They were happy and settled into each other. Hulk loved his alpha as much as Bruce did. Because as overwhelmingly strong and dominant as Hulk seemed he was biologically very comparable to Bruce and having his alpha around seemed to settle him some. They were at least able to train with him and use him more purposefully in battle.

Clint was next, supporting his heavily pregnant Omega as they both approached. Laura, as always, was a beacon on serenity and strength next to her frenetic, constantly moving Alpha. She'd become their oasis since Clint had revealed her existence and brought her to live with him when he moved into the tower, often cooking and picking up after them even though they repeatedly told her that she didn't have to. She was more of the traditional omega that Steve remembered from his childhood, homemaker and homebody, and in many ways Steve was glad to see it. Roles had been so very altered since he was young. In so many ways things were so much better and he was glad to see the changes, but every once in a while it was nice to see something traditional. It helped that though Laura fulfilled the same kind of role his mother had before his father died, Clint never treated her as so many alphas had their partners when Steve was young. He loved her fiercely and took care of her as she expected and yet deferred to her in ways a traditional alpha wouldn't have. It was kind of beautiful to see. Steve imagined his mother and father had probably had a relationship very much like the one Clint and Laura had. They were all waiting on baited breath for Laura to give birth to her first litter. Twins to be named Lila and Cooper. The two they'd already taken as their own, teenaged mutants Wanda and Pietro, congratulated Steve and Thor next and then hovered around the omega they'd adopted as their mother. Laura laughed at them all and waved her hands at them as if waving away insects before she made her way into the kitchen to begin dinner. Clint and the kids followed her like puppies.

The last to congratulate them and the newest in the tower were the newly mated pair Sam and Darcy. No one had been more surprised than Sam when, the moment Steve introduced his closest friend from his modern life to Jane's assistant, he'd gone into a spontaneous rut, but it hadn't been a problem as Darcy had gone into a spontaneous heat at the same time. Steve had barely had time to get out of the room before they were on each other. He'd heard of it happening, but had never seen it for himself. An alpha and an omega so biologically perfect for each other that their bodies would not allow them not to mate. They'd mated and Sam had pupped her within a day, then his rut and her heat had ended as suddenly as they began. She was only a few weeks along and not showing yet. They were both still learning about each other, but Steve had to admit, they seemed comfortable together. They were laughing all the time and he'd never seen Sam so happy. Sam had confided in him that he'd intended to mate his once love Riley once they were no longer serving, but death had taken away their chance. Sam had never thought he'd find someone as right for him as Riley had been, but Darcy was proving to be his match. Steve was glad to see it.

"I should like to begin our true courting by taking you to dinner," Thor said quietly when all of the congratulations were over.

"Oh, la!" Tony exclaimed in a remarkably passing imitation of a southern belle, unable to keep himself under control any longer and seeing an opening, "Y'all must have chaperone to keep Steven's virtue intact."

"Tony," Pepper rolled her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.

Steve did the only thing that he could think to do. He threw his head back.

And laughed.

Chapter Text

"Hey, Buck," Steve murmured quietly as he stood in front of the grave he had been avoiding since he woke from the ice. He'd known that Bucky had been buried in the small cemetery that had existed in their neighborhood in Brooklyn when they were both still young since Nick Fury had handed him a folder just after the Battle of New York. It had been a shock to the system to learn that his lover's, his Alpha's, body had been discovered in a Hydra bunker just after the end of the war when the Howling Commandos had made it their goal to make sure that every last element of Hydra was eradicated from the world. It had taken them nearly five years and at time they had almost despaired, finding some of their closest friends and people they'd considered allies had been taken in by the organization. Steve shuddered to think what kind of a world he would have woken up to if the Commandos hadn't done what they did, how deep Hydra would have been buried, how much power they would have had. But, the Commandos had found them all in the end, even Arnim Zola, who was the one who'd apparently ordered Bucky's body taken and stored so that he could experiment on him after the war when he was released by the Americans he'd allied himself with. The nearest they could tell, according to the reports, was that Zola had been trying to bring Bucky back to life or something of the kind. He'd replaced an arm with a metal prosthetic, carefully preserved his body. But, whatever they were trying to do hadn't been successful. It was another heartbreak for the Commandos. When they'd seen Sergeant Barnes' body in the chamber they'd hoped that maybe Zola had found a way, had brought back a little part of the Captain to them, but it hadn't come to anything. Even the best doctors money could buy and all of Stark's engineering genius wasn't enough to bring Bucky back to them. So, there'd been a symbolic burial in Arlington at the president's insistence, but knowing what Bucky would truly want, his friends had brought his body home to Brooklyn.

They'd wanted, Gabe had told him when they were able to speak just after he came out of the ice, to put up a headstone for Steve, too, like the one in Arlington, but Stark had never let them. He'd insisted until his dying day that Steve was alive. He'd even tried to have the stone at Arlington removed, but the president had never let him. They'd all seen that little bit of obsessive madness in his eyes when he spoke about Steve, all knew that he'd been more than a little in love with their Omega captain and, had Bucky not been in the picture, most likely would have courted and mated him after the war, so they'd let it go. People had to grieve and come to acceptance in their own ways. It was only when Howard met Maria, the beautiful Italian Omega who wouldn't put up with any of his shit and did whatever she wanted whenever she wanted that Howard had begun to heal. They'd been happy together until S.H.E.I.L.D took over Howard's life more and more and turned him into a hard man, hiding from both his wife and his young son in alcohol and work until an assassin, later discovered to have been hired by Howard's business partner, Obadiah Stane, took their lives and almost killed Tony as well.

Even though he'd been awake for so long, it was the first time Steve had been able to bring himself to actually come to the cemetery, to stand before the stone inscribed with the name of his beloved Alpha, to sit on the grass and trace the inscription, knowing that Bucky was laid just under him. The first time he truly allowed himself to express the loss he had been feeling so incredibly keenly since he'd woken. Before he could get another word out he felt the emotion rising in his chest erupt into sobs. He held onto the stone with one hand and pounded the ground with the other, nearly screaming out his rage and grief. For the first time since the ice he let his heart break. And as he shed his tears he allowed himself to feel everything that he had been trying to hold back, missing Bucky, the grief of having him torn away from him when they were finally going to have everything they'd ever dreamed of, the utter despair that had almost overwhelmed him when he'd woken to find everything different, almost everyone one else he'd known and loved dead and gone with just a few remaining, old and frail. He'd locked it down those nights he'd spent in the gym pounding away at the bags, couldn't afford to let it come out then. But, now he had a support system of friends and a wonderful, beautiful lover behind him. Now he had to let it go if he was going to continue to live.

He didn't know how long he cried at the gravestone, for minutes or for hours, but when he finally surfaced from his grief, head pounding, nose feeling three sizes too big, cheat heaving, and eyes burning, he felt somehow lighter. He would never forget, would never not feel at least some small amount of pain, but somehow it was finally bearable. He finally felt like there was a choice other than locking it away so that he felt nothing or letting it all wash over him at once and kill him. Now he had the choice to heal and he was going to take it.

"His name's Thor," Steve whispered as he stroked a finger over Bucky's name again and again, "You…well you probably would have hated him. He's not from Earth. He's from a place called Asgard and in some ways they're so much more advanced than us and in others, they're impossibly archaic. He has this way of speaking…He probably would have driven you nuts, but sometimes…God, Buck, he can make me go weak at the knees with a word. A look. And he doesn't expect me to defer to him, to be less than me, just because he's an Alpha and I'm an Omega. No, he…he's like you. He trusts me to lead. Trusts me to know my own strength. He follows me without question. He lets me be his Omega and his leader, his general. And I…God, I…I love him, Buck."

Falling in love with Thor had happened so slowly that Steve hadn't even realized that it had happened until one day when they'd all been in the tower, exhausted after another battle with Doom and the inevitable cleanup afterward. Laura had given birth just a couple of weeks before and when they'd trooped back into the common room after cleaning up Steve had seen the beginnings of the stew that she'd laid out. But, being a new mother to twins was hard and all they could do was smile when they saw that she'd fallen asleep on the couch, her hand curled around the portable cot at her side where the twins were also sleeping quietly. Steve had wanted nothing more than to collapse on the confortable furniture like the rest of his team, but knew he wouldn't be able to without putting the stew on so that he knew his people would be fed sooner rather than later. He could have just let Tony order out as he'd offered, but being their leader made it so much more fulfilling to know that he'd made them a meal, that he'd taken care of them, himself.

As he'd been cutting vegetables and browning the meat one of the babies had begun to cry. Multiple people had made motions as if to get up, but Thor had stood first and motioned them all back down before taking the little one in his arms. For a moment Steve hadn't been able to breathe, struck by how beautiful a picture it made to see the impossibly big man with the infant in his strong arms. Those strong arms held the baby so gently, so impossibly tenderly as he walked to the floor to ceiling windows and pressed a kiss to the tiny forehead. The picture was made more beautiful by the way the sun was setting behind Thor as he began to rock back and forth slowly, trying to soothe the fussy baby. With his enhanced hearing Steve was just able to make out his quiet murmuring. Thor was half speaking, half singing to the baby, a lullaby Steve imagined his mother had once sung to him and his brother.

The king may sing in his bitter flight,

The pine may croon to the vine to-night,

But the little snowflake at my breast

Liketh the song I sing the best,-

"Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep;

Weary thou art, anext my heart;

Sleep, little one, sleep."

And for the first time when he looked at Thor he didn't think, "Dear God, he's handsome," or "He'll make a fine father some day," as he had so many times before. When he looked at Thor holding the baby and Thor looked back, his handsome face lit by a smile he'd been struck by the thought, "Dear God, I love that man." And he'd had to press his hand low to his belly when the next thought brought on a psychosomatic ache. A thought he hadn't had for years. "I want to give him children. I want to give him our children." He'd finally opened the folders Nick had given him that night, ready to see what they contained, even though it had taken him another three weeks to come visit the grave. But, now he was glad he had.

"He bought me a brownstone, Bucky," he murmured, shifting so that he was sitting against the headstone, arms resting in his bent knees, head resting against the cool stone, "As one of our courting gifts. He bought me a brownstone here in Brooklyn, right off of Prospect Park. Had it fixed up. Pepper helped him decorate, thank God. If Tony had done it, it would have been a monstrosity of chrome and uncomfortable, white furniture. But, with what Pepper did…it feels like home. He made us a home. God, I love him so much, Buck. And tonight I'm going to tell him the truth and lose him forever."

He looked up and huffed a sardonic laugh when he felt the first snowflakes beginning to fall. The dark clouds had been threatening snow all day and it seemed fitting that the snow began to fall just when he was feeling his lowest. He sat on the cold ground a while longer, his back against Bucky's headstone, imagining that he could feel Bucky's arms around him, his alpha trying to give him comfort. It felt so real that for a moment he was certain that he could feel Bucky's warm breath against his neck. His smile was bittersweet as he stood, knowing it was time to face whatever his fate had in store. He kissed two fingers and set them to the gravestone before taking a smooth, polished stone out of his pocket and laying it on top of the marker before whispering a peaceful goodbye and promise to visit soon.

No one stopped him as he made his way through the streets. He wasn't in the gear he normally saved for going out, the hat and the bulky jacket that hid his form. Instead he was in the fashionable jeans and pea coat Pepper had talked him into and he knew that people recognized him. They nodded and smiled at him, some addressed him. But, here in his own backyard, Brooklyn his home, no one stopped him or made him feel out of place. They never had. They took pride in the fact that the Captain was from Brooklyn and respected that he just wanted to be a normal person when he was home.

It was something that Thor had picked up on the first time Steve brought him to the neighborhood he'd once called his own to show him places he remembered, places that had changed. And he'd made him a home there. When he'd taken Steve to the refurbished brownstone, still more space than Steve had thought he'd ever need and everything he'd ever wanted, Steve had known for the first time that Thor was, in fact, someone he could fall in love with. He hadn't been sure before, but as Thor took him through the home that he'd made for Steve, he'd known. He'd felt himself opening up to Thor in a way he hadn't let himself before as Thor showed him the basement he'd made into a training and exercise room, the secure wall for his costume and shield. Thor was so proud of the studio he'd put into the converted attic space for Steve's art. He'd carefully left many of the rooms blank and Steve knew that they were rooms meant for children and Thor's own pursuits and private space if their courting came to fruition. Steve thought he'd maybe fallen in love with Thor that day though he hadn't realized it until recently. He should have known that he loved Thor the moment he knew that he that he wanted Thor in the empty spaces in the house and in his heart.

When he finally stopped in front of their brownstone the sun was already setting and the winter day had taken its toll on even him. He hadn't realized just how cold he'd gotten during his visit to the cemetery and then his walk home. He breathed warm air onto his cold hands while he took a moment to appreciate the pretty fairy lights that Thor had put up around the windows while he was away. There was a tree in one of the first floor windows, lit but not decorated. It always brought a smile to Steve's lips how much joy Thor took in the holiday season and the childlike enthusiasm he approached it with. Christmas hadn't been what it was now when he was young, but it had still been a special time and knowing just how much joy it brought Thor was enough for him. He was nearly numb with cold as he hung his jacket up, so much so that the warm house felt almost like a slap. He shivered a moment and then straightened his back and made his way through the house.

He found Thor in the kitchen. It always amazed him just how nimble Thor was for such a big man. It always seemed like he should be bumping into things, knocking things down, just by the sheer force of his physical presence and personality, but he was moving around the admittedly small kitchen with grace and speed. He couldn't cook much, an admission he'd made many times, but he'd been taking lessons from Bruce and Natasha and he loved to be in the kitchen. Steve watched him for a few minutes, taken by his concentration, his peace, as he focused on the dish he was preparing. Steve didn't know what it was, but he suspected that it was one of Bruce's recipes from the spice he could smell and taste in the air. There was music on the speakers, a holiday song in a minor key, a smoky, sweet female voice singing it. It was the perfect picture and Steve closed his eyes for a moment to capture it exactly in his mind, knowing that it was probably the last time he'd see it. He opened his eyes after he was satisfied that he would never forget what he'd seen to see Thor moving his hips back and forth rhythmically to the music, unintentionally sensual. Unable to stop himself he strode across the room in two steps and wrapped his arms around Thor's waist, laying his head against his back.

"Hmm," Thor hummed in pleasure from the back of his throat and set a hand against Steve's arm, "Well-a-day, my Steven." He turned around in Steve's embrace and wrapped his arms around him in turn, "You are cold, dear one." He rubbed Steve's arms briskly to help the blood flow.

"Took the long way home."

"And your visit?"

"Was peaceful. It…it was what I needed."

"I am gladdened to hear it. I wish to visit with you someday, if I may. To express my thanks. Without the sacrifices of your Bucky you would not be here in my arms now." Thor reached up and cupped Steve's face with his hands. Steve raised his own hands to hold onto Thor's wrists.

"Stop," he whispered, just before Thor's lips touched his, "There's something I need to tell you before this goes any further."

"You can tell me anything, my Steven," Thor's whisper matched Steve's, so full of love that Steve had to close his eyes against the pain that flared in his heart.

"We need to stop this, Thor. This has all been a dream. A beautiful dream, but I can't…I can't give you what you need in a mate. I wanted to pretend. I wanted…but I…"

"Calmly. Calmly now, dear one. What is it you think you cannot give me?"

"I can't," He took a breath and swallowed hard, "I can't give you children, Thor."

When he was younger, he never thought that having children would be something that would concern him. Aside from the fact that he was too weak to survive, too weak to attract a mate who would expect children from him, the doctors all told his mother that even if by some miracle he made it to mating age his body would never be strong enough to support a pregnancy. As a child it wasn't something that he thought about. He wasn't certain that he wanted to mate, much less have a family. But, then he'd fallen in love with Bucky. Bucky with his slow smile. Bucky who was so much better with children than he let on. And Steve had known for the first time what it was like to want to give his mate children. He'd discovered he was pregnant the first time when he lost the baby, very early on in the pregnancy. He hadn't known what was wrong as he laid in the tub, biting a towel against the pain, until he'd reached down and his hand came away bloody. Bucky had found him hours later, still sitting in the tub, sobbing his heart out, and promised him then that he still loved him, allaying Steve's greatest fear, and they could try again.

The second pregnancy had nearly killed him. He'd kept it longer, almost to the end of his first trimester, but losing it had nearly killed him. He'd almost bled out before the doctors could stop it. And when it was over and Steve was barely alive, they'd advised Bucky against another pregnancy, fearing that it they tried again Steve would lose another litter and his life. Steve had sobbed in Bucky's arms that he didn't care, that he could give him pups, they could try again. And Bucky had held him and kissed him gently.

"I love you, baby doll. I don't care if we ever have pups as long as I have you. Don't you get it? You're my most important thing, punk. Not your ability to give me pups."

Steve had finally believed him that day and there had been a couple of years when they were happy with each other and their mating, happy and in love. Then, the war came and all Alphas in fighting form were joining up. Steve hadn't wanted Bucky to go, not without him, but Bucky was a good man, an honorable man, and they'd both known that he had to go. Despite the fact that Omegas were, until that point, only allowed in the war if they were nurses, Steve tried again and again to join up. He was told to go home, to be obedient to his Alpha, and have a few pups. The indignation hadn't hurt nearly as much as knowing that Bucky was in danger and if something happened to him Steve wouldn't be there. Erskine, an Omega himself, and one of the most brilliant minds of all time, had seen Steve as no one ever had, aside from Bucky. He'd seen what he could be and hadn't turned him away. Steve still missed him every day.

After Project Rebirth Steve's secondary gender had become classified information. It couldn't be seen that an Omega was behind the Captain America mask after all. He'd been so relieved when they told him that he was finally being shipped overseas that he hadn't even questioned it. When he'd rescued Bucky he'd been happy again. He'd had to hide his status, of course, but not from his team and Bucky was a good sport about being known as Steve's best friend rather than his mate. He had only one heat during the war. It had been a very different experience from his previous heats and he didn't remember much of it. Some of it was result of the heat itself, of course, but the other reason was that two months later Bucky had died and Steve's world had crashed down around him. When he'd crashed the plane in the Arctic he'd been relieved and content that he'd done his part and he'd soon be joining his Alpha.

A gentle Omega doctor (not a nurse, Steve would realize later, and smile a little) had broken the news to him, holding his hand in both of hers. She'd been trying to radiate calm and sympathy from the moment she walked into the room and it had put him on edge. He hadn't known what she could possibly tell him that would make her feel she had to project as strongly as she was trying to. Her voice had been quiet and even as she told him that there had been trauma to his body, of course, when he came out of the ice. He'd slept for nearly two months after they'd pulled him from the ice. And during that time his body had rejected a pregnancy. They hadn't been certain why he was bleeding and his status as an Omega had been classified. The surgery to find out where the bleeding was coming from had done damage they hadn't expected and, though there was always a chance due to his unique physiology and healing abilities, she wasn't certain that he would ever be able to get pregnant again. He'd blinked at her twice, rolled over so that his back was to her, and stared at the wall. In a way it had been a relief, thinking that he'd never have another heat, never have to worry about betraying Bucky's memory, and he hadn't thought about it at all until he realized that he wasn't just courting with Thor. He was falling in love with him and he would never be able to give the prince of Asgard an heir. And if he couldn't give a future king what he needed there was no point to their courting, even if there was love.

"You can't give me children?" Thor asked quietly, the confusion obvious in his voice.

"I've been pregnant three times. The first two before the serum. My body was too weak to carry to term and they nearly killed me. The last time…the doctors didn't realize I was an Omega. They…they said there might be a chance, but most likely I'll never been able to get pregnant again. I can't give you an heir."

Thor's voice was a quiet purr when he finally spoke, "And you think my love is contingent upon you carrying a child for me?"

Steve's eyes snapped open at Thor's words and he looked up at the man he'd fallen in love with.

"You…" He swallowed around the lump in his throat, "I…"

"My Steven," Thor pressed a gentle, chaste kiss to his lips, "You being able to carry an heir for me has never been a requirement for me to love you."

"But, you'll need an heir," Steve said weakly.

"Yes," Thor agreed with a loving smile, "Steven, I do not believe I have ever told you…You know my mother did not carry Loki."

"He's adopted," Steve nodded in a daze, unable to dare to hope that he could keep this beautiful soul who held him, body and heart. Thor turned to turn off the stove and walked them into their living room, sitting Steve on the couch and wrapping a blanket around his shoulders before he joined him, wrapping him in his strong arms and gently pushing his head s that it was resting on his chest.

"She did not carry me, either," Thor said after a time, "My mother has never been able to carry and my father knew it from the moment he fell in love with her and chose to mate her. Much like your surrogacy here that I have heard Anthony and the Lady Pepper discussing, I was carried by a willing Omega. But, it does not make me any less my mother's. Any child we have, whether carried within you, another, or older when it comes to us, will be ours. That child will be my heir and no less mine if there is no blood between us. Blood alone does not a family make."

For the second time that day Steve felt the sobs rising in his chest, but this time they were pure relief and love. He sobbed into the kiss when he pulled Thor's face down to him. He could tell that Thor was surprised, but his Alpha was not one to deny him anything and gave into the kiss, going along when Steve laid down and pulled him down on top of him. It had always felt so good to have his Alpha on top of him and for the first time he felt like he could well and truly call Thor his Alpha. And his mate. He was going to mate this man. Steve brought his legs up to cradle Thor between them before pulling away from the kiss to see that handsome face smiling down on him. His long hair was around them like a curtain hiding them from the world and Steve knew he wasn't going to be able to hold it back any longer. He stroked Thor's face lovingly and, for the first time since they'd shared his heat, leaned up to scent him, rubbing his face against Thor's scent glad and mingling their scents, claiming Thor as his. As he scented Thor he couldn't help but moan at the sensation of Thor scenting him in return.

"I love you," he whispered when Thor pulled back.

"That is a most joyous thing to hear you say, Steven," Thor's smile was like the sun, "As I love you as well."

Steve smiled at him, completely at peace for the first time in a very long time. He could feel Thor's cock filling against his hip and knew that if he wished it Thor would ignore his arousal and they could spend a night cuddled together in intimacy rather than sex, but for the first time in years Steve found that he wanted sex. Not just the desperate sex he needed during a heat, but sex outside of one. They hadn't done anything more than kiss since they shared Steve's heat. But, tonight felt right. It was time to let himself love Thor. He moaned a little from the back of his throat and jerked his hips upward to signal his interest. Thor smiled down at him and kissed him again, their tongues dueling and dancing as Steve buried his hands in Thor's hair and Thor reached between them to pull Steve's shirt up so that he could touch skin. Steve could feel himself growing wet for Thor and moaned. It had been so long since he allowed himself to enjoy sex just for the fun of it.

"Thor," Steve moaned, tearing his mouth away from Thor's so that he could bite lightly on his ear, "Make love to me."

"Gladly, my love," Thor moaned huskily.

Steve moaned in disappointment when Thor pulled away and stood, but smiled when his lover put a finger to his lips and winked. He sat up, curious, and watched as Thor built up the small fire that was burning in the fireplace before laying down blankets and every pillow he could find until he'd made them a lovely nest in front of it. Then, he went through their home and turned off all of the lights until the only thing illuminating the room was the fire glow and the gently twinkling lights from their Christmas tree. Remarkably, Thor seemed almost nervous as he took off his shirt and sat in the middle of the nest, a hand held out to invite Steve to him.

Steve smiled at the nerves, feeling for once as if he had the upper hand, something he'd rarely felt when it came to sexual situations. But, Thor had a way of doing that to him. He made Steve feel powerful and sexy and so very, very loved. He stripped off his own shirt before kneeling on the blankets, one leg on either side of Thor's hips. Thor welcomed him down by wrapping him in his arms and placing his lips to Steve's neck, just over where he would someday place his mating mark.

"Hmm," Steve moaned and scraped his nails down Thor's back, hard enough that he knew it would bring welts up, remembering just how much Thor had seemed to like it after their shared heat. Thor growled and buried a hand in Steve's hair so that he could pull back his head and nip at his exposed throat in retribution. Steve moaned again and jerked his hips forward so that his clothed erection rubbed against Thor's, laughing when Thor flipped them over so that Steve was on his back. They both continued to laugh and gasp as they rushed to get their pants and underwear off. It was the first time Steve could remember sex being this much fun. When he was young he and Bucky had had to be so careful of Steve's heath when they made love, then there was no time aside from his heat when they were in the war. But, with Thor…with Thor there was joy and energy in everything, even this. Especially this.

Steve groaned when they were both finally naked and Thor ran two fingers over his entrance, already slick to receive Thor inside of him. He arched his back off of the floor when Thor began to thrust his fingers in and out and reached up himself to rub a nipple roughly. Thor saw his movement and grinned down at him, making Steve feel a little self-conscious. He put his hand back at his side, but Thor grabbed it before it could touch the blanket and moved it back to Steve's chest, encouraging him to make himself feel good even as he was thrusting his fingers inside and driving Steve crazy with need.

"Take your pleasure, my love," Thor growled, "You are beautiful when you do. You are beautiful at all times. The most beautiful creature I have ever beheld. And so powerful. And mine. Beautiful, powerful creature and you have chosen me. I am humbled."

"And you talk too much," Steve growled. He pulled his lower body away from Thor and hooked a leg around his waist so he could flip them over again. Thor grunted when his back hit the floor but seemed content enough for the moment to let Steve do as he pleased. Steve rubbed against him a couple of times, gasping out his name as their cocks met and rubbed with delicious friction that could never be enough. Thor closed his eyes as Steve sat up, taking his cock in his hand and stroking from root to tip a couple of times. His grip was firm and smooth, making Thor moan wantonly, a sound Steve couldn't remember hearing from him before.

"Do not tease." Thor's voice was low and rough. Steve found that he liked it very much and took his time putting Thor to his entrance. He stroked once more as he pushed down just enough for Thor's tip to slip into his body. Thor growled and reached for his hips to bury himself further and Steve growled his own warning as he grabbed Thor's wrists and forced them to the floor by his head. He couldn't remember having Thor inside of him the last time they'd been together, during Steve's heat, and he intended to take as much time as he wanted, to feel as much as he wanted. He lowered his body slowly, feeling every inch as it slid inside of him and couldn't help the continual grunts of pleasure as it struck a new place inside of him that sent a spark of pleasure up his spine with every inch until he was finally fully seated. He sat for a moment, barely moving, just feeling Thor inside of him. They fit so perfectly together. It was easy to start rocking gently, even the smallest movements making him moan. He paused for a moment, panting, looking down at Thor, his magnificent mate, unable and unwilling to move, letting Steve take his pleasure. His eyes were blazing with need and Steve found that he like it. It made him feel powerful.

He leaned down, moaning when it made Thor's cock slip from him a little, and kissed Thor deeply, taking his hands off of Thor's wrists and burying them in his hair. Thor growled into the kiss and set his newly freed hands to Steve's backside, placing his feet firmly on the ground so that he could thrust up into him. Steve screamed against Thor's mouth as the pleasure raced up and down his body, making his legs shake and his stomach clench. He didn't know how long he was lost in pleasure and their kiss before he tore his mouth away from Thor's and sat up, taking over, riding Thor's cock like he needed it to live. Thor's animalistic grunts just drove him on and he took Thor's wrists again, bringing one hand up to his chest to squeeze his pectoral and the other to his own cock, neglected and so very hard. The pleasure was too much and he felt his rhythm falter even as Thor's thrusts were getting stronger and less even. He cried out when Thor sat up suddenly, forcing his cock deeper inside even as he jerked Steve's erection with a strength that should have been painful.

"Oh, god!" Steve couldn't help shouting to the ceiling as he leaned back and Thor ran his hand down Steve's chest, nails digging in and giving him a little pain with his pleasure. Thor's hand on his cock gentled a little.

"I want you to show me your pleasure, Steven," Thor growled, jerking his hips harder and harder. Steve felt the scream rise up in his throat when the hand on his cock changed tactics and a nail was pressed lightly to the underside just under his cockhead. He felt his back arch so far he was nearly bent in half and his orgasm was torn out of his body violently as his vision began to go. He vaguely heard Thor's answering roar as he came before everything went white.

When he came back to himself he was curled up on Thor's strong chest and his lover was stroking his back gently. He'd cleaned them up, Steve noticed vaguely, as he didn't feel sticky or uncomfortable, and there was a blanket draped around their lower halves.

"That was incredible," He whispered, pressing a kiss to Thor's chest.

"Hmm," Thor made a sound of agreement and held him closer, "There is so much passion in your body, Steven," He said quietly, huffing a laugh against Steve's ear, "I look forward to finding as many ways as I can to bring it out."

Steve was so tired and sated he didn't even have the energy to feel embarrassed.

"Will we mate soon?" He asked sleepily, rubbing his face against Thor's scent gland lazily.

"Of course," Thor answered, "There is just one more formality before we are able to be mated."

"Hmm…What's that?"

"We must secure the blessing of my father, Steven," Thor pressed a kiss to his forehead, "We must travel to Asgard."

Chapter Text

He wasn't going to be enough. The thought caught his breath in his chest and made him feel as if he was sixteen again and struggling with an asthma attack, uncertain if he was going to live through it or not. But, he couldn't give up. He wouldn't give up no matter how his body protested, no matter how much he wanted to put down the shield and hold up his hands. One word. One word would end it all. But, he would not say it. He would not yield. This was not just his life. This was his right to mate the man he loved, this was Thor's right to mate him, this was proof that a Midgardian Omega could be a strong enough consort, and this was the rule of an entire realm. The Asgardians would look at Thor differently, might not see him as the king who could become the AllFather, if they thought he'd chosen a weak mate. Steve forced air into his sorely abused lungs, ribs protesting the movement, bruised at least, most likely fractured, and looked up at the current AllFather, the man who'd set his this trial. Odin was looking down at him the same way he'd looked at Steve from the moment he'd stepped into the throne room of the golden citadel. Eye judging and face hard.

Thor had warned him before they came to Asgard that the king was not an easy man, but he'd been certain that his father would see the strength in Steven, see how much his son loved him, how compatible they were, and all would be well. Steve had trusted Thor implicitly. He knew his lover would not lie to him, so he hadn't been worried as he'd buckled on his shield carrier over his uniform. He'd been wary of wearing the uniform, thinking it too garish, too bright, but Thor had assured him that Asgardians wore all manner of garish clothing and his uniform was as much armor as costume. Asgardians respected battle raiment, he'd explained, no matter what form it took. Steve opted to buckle his helmet to his belt and Thor had smiled at being able to see his face and kissed him gently before the Bi-Frost took them.

Steve was fascinated by the golden city from the moment they stepped out of the Bi-Frost room. It was a compelling mix of ancient and new, just as Thor himself was. The great citadel was like something out of a science fiction novel, all gleaming metal and impossible architecture. But, riding through the city leading up to it on horseback with Thor was like something out the Lord of the Rings movies that Tony'd forced them to sit through. He hadn't minded the films themselves, but not being allowed to space out the viewings on pain of Tony's whining, hadn't been his idea of a good time. He was reminded of them as they rode over cobblestone roads, people dressed in plain cloth cut in styles that hadn't been seen for over a hundred years even when Steve was young, running out to cheer their crown prince. It was like a hero's parade and it made Steve so proud to be by Thor's side.

When they'd walked into the throne room all of the courtiers surrounding them had cheered Thor, welcoming him home like a conquering hero and his love had looked so radiant in that moment that Steve had felt his knees go weak, but he'd forced himself to keep walking tall and strong and when they got to the front of the room where Thor's family and closest friends waited he hadn't been able to stop the smile so big it hurt his cheeks from spreading across his face. He'd swept into the formal bow that Thor had taught him feeling lighter than he had in years and straightened to see the same smile reflected on the faces of Thor's friends. He recognized them all from the stories that Thor had told him of them. Volstagg, red haired and gigantic, had slapped him on the back so hard he'd almost fallen over. Sif, incredibly beautiful and incredibly deadly, had grinned at him, squeezing his hand to test his strength. He'd squeezed back just as hard until they were both laughing. He and Hogun scented the air slightly, taking in the fragrance of another Omega, and nodded at each other in understanding when they recognized a fellow warrior. When he'd held out his hand for Fandral he'd been surprised when the suave warrior hadn't clasped it, but instead pulled him into a strong hug.

"No need to stand on formality," he'd said quietly in Steve's ear, "We'll be brothers soon enough."

Steve had blinked in surprise a moment until he'd come to the next in line waiting to receive him. Thor had spoken often of Loki, his most beloved brother who had suffered so much for so long before they'd discovered the spell that was twisting him against them and them against him. He'd told Steve that his brother had mated one of his closest friends, but for some reason Steve had never considered that it was one of The Warriors Three. But, looking at Loki, scenting him, it was obvious how well he and Fandral fit together. Fandral's boisterous nature was offset by his quiet mate and Steve knew he'd found a kindred spirit when the quietly strong Omega pulled him in for an embrace just as his mate had done and they scented each other quickly, both surprised when their scents were so very similar. Steve was ice and apple pie. Loki was ice and sweet summer wine. And a hint of cedar that Steve realized was coming from the babe Loki was carrying within himself. Steve waited for Loki to nod permission before he placed his hand to the swell of Loki's belly. The babe kicked at Steve's hand and they both laughed, delighted.

Loki passed Steve on to his mother, who stood with her first grandchild on her hip. The boy, looking no more than two years old, hid his face from Steve, but peeked out from behind Frigga's hair with a shy smile when Steve pressed a kiss to the back of the Queen's hand. But, the queen would have none of the courtly gestures Thor had taught Steve and she'd taken him in in a one-armed hug.

"Thank you," She whispered quietly as she hugged him, "For settling my son so. I have never seen him so happy."

"He does the same for me, your grace," He whispered in return.

He'd turned to Odin with the expectation that he would be welcome as he'd been with the others and had come face to face with a glaring, unhappy man. It had taken him a moment, a moment in which Odin's frown had deepened, before he remembered himself and bowed deeply from the waist, a hand clasped over his heart.

"AllFather," He said formally.

Odin had slammed his spear on the dais, calling for quiet without saying a word.

"So, this is the omega my son brings before us for permission to mate," Odin said loudly as soon as the hall was quiet. He looked back at Steve, who dared to look up just in time to see Odin sneer, "A Midgardian barely tested in battle. A Captain of Midgard's ridiculous Avengers."

"Father," Thor stepped forward and Odin held up a hand, "Silence!"

"Your Majesty," Steve tried and was silenced when Odin made a sound of warning from the back of his throat and held up his hand again.

"You do not speak!" He ordered, "Is this the omega that you think can rule at your side, Thor Odinson? This untested boy, this…weakling who could not even save his first mated alpha?"

Steve flinched, but he refused to take a step back.

"Husband!" Frigga cried out.

"Father!" Loki and Thor shouted at the same time. Odin let out a bellow of anger and they all silenced even as Frigga's eyes flashed with her own temper.

"You wish to mate my son who will one day sit upon the throne." It was not a question, "You will prove yourself in battle first. Duels. Three of them. Volstagg, Hogun, and Sif. Now. We will see what you are worth, Midgardian."

Steve could tell by the shock on all of the faces around him that none in the hall had expected such a reaction from their king. Steve could only think that Odin must have been ready to welcome him as the others until he'd seen him, until he'd scented him. And found him wanting. But, despite the pain and shame that lanced through his heart at the thought Steve refused to back down. He nodded at the king in front of him, unable to speak, knowing that his voice would break if he tried. He stood tall, back ramrod straight, and followed the Asgardian warrior assigned to him out to the training pitch, catching Thor's eye and nodding at his lover. He could see the anger burning in Thor's eyes, but also the pride at Steve's composure. He would not shame him. When they reached the training grounds the Asgardian warrior was the only one who was allowed near him and he did not speak a word. Steve used the quiet to focus and took his time putting on his helmet, warming up his muscles with a few stretches and taking his shield from his back.

"Do you not want a weapon of some kind?" Volstagg asked doubtfully as they met on the sand.

"My shield is my weapon," Steve nodded at him with a small smile, "You'll see."

"I have wanted to meet you in battle for some time, Steven Rogers," Volstagg said softly, "But not this way."

Steve nodded his understanding and took the defensive stance he knew always threw his adversaries off when they first fought. For a man of his size Volstagg was incredibly fast, but he underestimated Steve from the beginning, underestimated the power of his shield as a weapon. Had it been on better terms, Steve would have enjoyed fighting him. There was a power in his blows that Steve had never felt, even from Thor, but the man relied too much on himself and didn't use his surroundings at all. The duel lasted only a few minutes before Steve pushed Volstagg back to one of the training posts and he fell to the sand, his balance thrown. As soon as he fell Steve's shield was at his throat. Volstagg held up his hands and laughed out his yield.

"You are a skilled warrior, Steven Rogers," he said when Steve helped him up, "I look forward to training with you some day." He pulled Steve into a one-armed hug and said quietly, "Hogun is a skilled tactician as well, my lord. Be smarter."

"I am not your lord…" Steve put his head to Volstagg's shoulder, as the bigger man intended, taking a moment of rest to catch his breath.

"You will be," Volstagg slapped him on the shoulder, "I have no doubt."

The duel with Hogun took nearly an hour. And it was fought mostly in their minds. Never before had Steve met with an enemy as skilled tactically as Hogun. They stood across from each other on the training grounds and tried to read what the other would do. As soon as one would flinch one direction the other would counter and they would both freeze again. When Steve took a moment to truly observe Hogun he saw the man's eyes fluttering to and fro, trying to work out the best plan of attack, his mind constantly working. Steve thought that he might have met his match. When they both finally came to the conclusion that they weren't going to be able to work out a way to beat the other tactically the battle was one of desperation. Those watching had never seen Hogun fight so gracelessly, Thor had never seen Steven throw himself against an enemy without a plan of attack. In the end Hogun lost his sword and Steve his shield and it came down to a hand to hand fight in which the combatants had vastly different styles. Thor winced at each body blow that Hogun landed on Steve and curled his hands into fists when he noticed Steven favoring his left side, knowing that Hogun would see it, too. The fight came to an abrupt end when Steve let loose a cry of anger and threw his head at Hogun's. Both of them swayed for a moment, but in the end it was Steve who kept his feet.

"You are worthy in my eyes," Hogun whispered to Steve when he helped him up.

"Thank you," Steve gasped.

"Father," Loki called, "Surely a moment to breathe?"

"There are no moments of rest in battle," Odin yelled, "Sif!"

"My king!" Sif tried to protest.

"You will obey the command of your Allfather," Odin growled to the strongest warrior of the realm, outside of the princes, "Or you will no longer be welcome in Asgard."

"Husband!" Frigga stood, "Enough of this! Have you lost your mind?"

"Restrain her!" Odin ordered.

Thor let out a roar of discontent and jumped to his feet. Immediately there were four guards against him pushing him back down into his seat and Odin held out his hand for Mjolnir. Another guard tried to push Loki back down into his seat and Fandral's dagger was immediately at his throat.

"Enough!"

The crowd froze at the order, reacting to the strength and command in the voice instinctively, and were all shocked when they realized that it hadn't come from Odin, but from Steve. The Midgardian was standing in the middle of the training pitch, his shield once again on his arm, his helmet in the sand. He said the order once more, quietly and moved to the wall. The Asgardian's watched in amazement as Steve moved first to the queen, took her shaking hand and pressed a kiss to it. They spoke quietly for a moment, of what they would never say, but Frigga took her seat quietly when Steve let go of her hand.

"Think of the babe," Steve told Loki quietly, pressing his hand to the life moving restlessly within the prince. Loki saw the sadness and wisdom in his eyes and sat, turning to set his hand gently to Fandral's wrist and bring his dagger away from the guard's throat. Steve nodded and moved to Thor. His lover was still struggling against the guards.

"This is not the way, my love," Steve whispered. It was like lightning had struck the prince. He sat down immediately and leaned forward over the wall to kiss his lover fiercely. Steve leaned into the kiss, burying his hands in Thor's long hair and letting his lover scent him again before he pulled away.

"Sif," He held out his hand to the warrior, "I meet you in battle as a friend. No matter the outcome that will not change."

"Friend," Sif took Steve's hand as she descended onto the sand, "A single battle will not change my affection and high opinion of you. You are worthy!" She held their linked hands above their heads and both were surprised when a cheer went up from the crowd surrounding the pitch.

"I will decide that," Odin's voice was almost bored as he sat. He waved a hand lazily as if to tell them to get on with it.

Battling Sif was more difficult than his battle with Hogun. Sif did not have the same tactical mind as her mate, but she was the most skilled warrior he'd ever met in battle, aside from Thor, and he'd only ever sparred with Thor, often times at half speed to allow them to work on their forms and strength. Sif was not giving him that benefit, as was befitting of a proper duel. He was man enough to admit that she was the better trained of the two of them. Her strength as an Asgardian matched his and she knew exactly where to strike. He felt the flat of her sword like a punch against his ribs and doubled over, unable to breathe for a moment.

It was then that he looked up at Odin and saw every man and woman who'd ever told him that he wasn't enough. It was then that he knew exactly what he was fighting for and it was then that he knew it had to end. With one final move he threw himself at Sif and froze, his shield a hair's breadth from crushing her skull. He looked down and saw her sword a hair's breadth from piercing his heart. A draw. A draw with the most incredible warrior he'd ever had the pleasure of dueling with. He was satisfied. As he dropped his shield she dropped her sword and they both moved to prop each other up. He really looked at her for the first time since the beginning of their duel. He hadn't meant to break her nose and he could see that she was holding her right arm in such a way that he may have broken her wrist. He could feel that the ribs he'd been questioning were truly broken and he knew that he should get his boot off of his left foot as soon as possible before his ankle swelled and made it impossible. He and Sif turned to the Allfather and Steve felt his heart sink into his stomach, seeing the king looking as bored as he had before the duel.

"A draw…" he drawled.

"A well fought battle!" Sif hissed.

"Go to your omega, Lady Sif," Odin sneered, "Have him see to your wounds. See to his."

"Your grace," Steve panted as Sif left his side, "Have I…"

"You have not proven yourself until I say you have, Midgardian." Odin snarled, "A draw proves nothing. Fandral!"

"No!" Fandral lept to his feet, "Allfather, he has fought three battles in the last hours! Surely he has…"

"Not until I claim it!" Odin roared and got to his feet. As soon as he was on his feet Frigga, Loki, the warriors, and Thor were again on theirs, the guards around them once again trying to restrain them.

"You will fight, Fandral, or, mate of my son or not, I will banish you from the golden city for the rest of your long life!"

"No," The word was almost a whisper, but it was the only sound Steve could force out of his throat. Odin heard it anyway. He froze for a moment, then turned to Steve.

"What did you say?"

"I said no," Steve repeated. He stood as straight as he could and looked the Allfather directly in the eye, "Either I have proven myself or not by now, Allfather. I will not fight again. I am done being an amusement for your and your court. I love your son. I want to mate him. I have proven my strength and my tactical mind against warriors I have not fought or met before this day. I want to obey, but I will not if the order maked no sense. If you order me to fight again I…I will not."

"And if I order your throat cut due to your insolence?" Odin leaned against the wall.

Steve grinned and knew the gin was bloody, "You're welcome to try. I've fought bullies all my life. You won't be any different."

"Steven Rogers," Odin drew himself up to his full height, "You have fought three of the best warriors of the realm and you have stood up to a king. You have known yoru mind and your orders well enough to know what is righteous and what is not. I declare now that your strength and skill match any Asgardian. I declare you worthy of my son and I bless your mating."

At the words Steve felt his knees buckle, but before he could hit his knees he felt strong arms catch him and looked up to see Odin holding him. His eyes went wide with the realization that Odin had vaulted himself over the wall to catch him before he fell. But, the disdain he'd seen in the Allfather's eye since the first moment they'd seen each other was gone. The man's eye was warm and loving, accepting as Steve had expected from the first moment he saw him. He held Steve close and Steve scented the storm and stars on him, feeling more at home than he had since his mother died.

"Forgive me, my boy," Odin whispered, tucking him close, "There were whispers of dissent should Thor bring a Midgardian before the court to mate. To silence them I had to display your prowess, your strength. They will not question now. Know that I have never questioned. I see in you a warrior and a good man. You will mate my son and gladly do I bless the union."

"I…" Steve let his head fall against Odin's shoulder, feeling a weight lift off of him. His love's father had never found him lacking, "Allfather…Father…"

The relief was dizzying and he felt himself falling into the dark. Odin just held him tighter until Thor swept him up in his arms.

"You have done so well, my love," Thor whispered when Odin had made his apologies to Thor as he had to Steve, "Rest now. Rest."

Steve gripped Thor's cloak in his hand, pressed his nose to Thor's scent gland and let himself fall into the black, content.

Chapter Text

"Why so nervous, brother?" Loki asked genially as he took a tender seat on Thor's expansive bed, supporting his ever-growing belly with one hand and rubbing it with the other to soothe the restless babe within.

"Nervous?" Thor scoffed as he looked at his brother's reflection in the mirror that he stood in front of shirtless, his long hair still damp from bathing.

He knew it was futile to try to hide anything from his brother, but he did it anyway, his pride demanding it. Yet, despite his bravado his stomach was dancing and his heart was pounding so hard he could almost feel it in his throat. He didn't understand why his nerves were giving him such difficulty. He had no question in his mind or heart that he wanted Steven, that he wanted to mate him and remain by his side for the rest of their long lives, but the idea of the formal promising ceremony set to begin just as the sun was setting made him long for their little home in Brooklyn where they could be alone and make their own private promises in front of the fire before mating.

He hadn't been allowed to see Steven for the three days since his mother and the healers had swept his lover out of his arms after the day of bouts that had proven his worthiness. He hadn't been there when Steven woke, he hadn't been allowed to hold him in his arms and whisper how proud he was of him. He hadn't been permitted to worship Steven's body as he'd wanted to do since the moment his love had proven such prowess on the field of battle, to show his appreciation of the skill and strength he'd shown. With his rut approaching, and knowing the plan for their mating, it had been a most difficult three days. But, it wasn't just the physical aspect of his alpha instincts that he wanted fulfilled. He wanted to hold his mate, to scent him, to know that he was safe. He'd been told that Steven was healthy and just as anxious to see him as his heat was approaching, but they hadn't been allowed in so much as the same wing as each other. He felt it was an archaic practice to keep them separated before the ceremony, but every time he'd tried to sneak some time with Steven his mother or father had found him and sent him on his way. He missed his mate and, somehow, he knew that if he could only see him the nerves would settle.

Even their friends hadn't been able to distract him for long. He'd brought them to Asgard two days earlier at his mother's insistence after the fifth or so time she'd caught him trying to get to Steven. Clint's parental concern over his all of his children, the babies they hadn't wanted to travel by Bi-Frost quite yet, and the two young adults he had taken as his own, was an entertainment for a time, but he'd been relieved when Laura convinced her man to relax. There was only so much Alpha nervousness he could scent before it put him on edge as well. Laura, as always, had been an ever-calming presence, explaining gently, yet firmly that it was the only vacation they'd had since taking the Sokovian twins into their lives and she did not intend to waste it on worry. Darcy had stayed behind with the twins, too late in her pregnancy to travel by Bi-Frost and Laura was confident between her and Heimdal's watchful eye turned to them that everything would be fine. Once he relaxed Clint was eager to see the training grounds and he'd impressed even the most seasoned of the Asgardian warriors with his skill with the bow, leaving Laura time to relax and enjoy the open-air markets with Pepper and Bruce.

Pepper as always, was a wonder. The woman reminded him of both his parents simultaneously. She had all of the Alpha strength of his father and all of the iron-willed Omega nurturing of his mother. Her matriarchal hold on those she kindly oversaw on Midgard extended on Asgard and he could tell even his brother, who manipulated them all with the grace of a master, was impressed with her ability to command Tony in his frenetic need to discover, calm Natasha when an unthinking warrior insulted Bruce, and support Steven as he prepared to mate and be mated, not that Thor had seen her do that. But, he could imagine that having both Pepper and Sam with him was a calming to his love's nerves. Having his friends there had provided distraction enough for his own nerves until just this afternoon when they'd all been ordered to prepare themselves for the ceremony by his mother.

"You are remarkably pale for someone so healthily tanned," Loki raised an eyebrow, "Your Steven fought so hard for this, Thor. Is it fair to him, I wonder? Do you think he would have even come if he knew you were questioning taking him as your own?"

Thor felt his anger rise at the mere suggestion and spun around, a violent snarl on his face and an angry retort on his lips, before he saw his brother's gently smiling face. He immediately felt a flush of shame spread from his chest to his neck. He should have known just from the word choice, the lazy drawl that he hadn't heard for years, what his brother was trying to accomplish. Loki had always been a trickster, but a trickster in the pursuit of the truth. His fun and games meant to see through to the heart of the matter. It was only after Amora's spell began to poison his mind that his tricks became cruel. After the spell was lifted Thor saw more and more of the brother that he grew up with, clever and sharp-witted, but never cruel, able to get the truth out of anyone he wished with just the right inquiry at just the right moment. Thor had ever been one of his favorite targets as he was so easy to rile. He would have been more embarrassed about rising to the occasion if it hadn't happened so often in the past. He sighed heavily and leaned against the small table that sat under the mirror and held his grooming supplies.

"I want Steven more than I have ever wanted anyone or anything in all of my long life," he admitted softly.

"I know. Bring me that comb," Loki motioned him over and he sat on the floor at Loki's feet, allowing his brother's mated omega scent to calm and soothe him. He closed his eyes as Loki began to comb gently through his tangles, "You took a great leap of faith, allowing yourself to fall in love with a Midgardian, and he has taken one as well agreeing to be presented before the Asgardian court for you. He has proven himself in battle, but that does not mean that the path will not be as difficult, perhaps more so, than it was for our mother when she came from Vanaheim. None will question his strength and right as a warrior, but every little flaw they will make into another reason to treat him as if he is not welcome."

"Have I done the right thing in allowing myself to court and love him as much as I have come to love him?" Thor questioned quietly, more to himself than to Loki, "Will his life be nothing but a constant quest to prove himself just because I dared to love one not of Asgard? I'd never thought there would be so much dissent due only to the circumstances of his birth," Thor admitted, his brow creased, "He does not deserve to be questioned at every turn, Loki. I…I was ready to abdicate the throne if Father's actions were true. I might abdicate it still if…."

Loki pulled his hair roughly and jerked his head back so that they were looking in each other's eyes and Thor was reminded again that his brother had a mighty temper of his own, "Don't you dare, Thor! Don't you dare make light of the strength he displayed, of the heartache he suffered making certain that the throne would be yours without question."

"I wouldn't…couldn't now," Thor agreed, "Truly, brother, it was just a stray thought." Loki nodded decisively with a huff, and pushed his head back so that he could begin to plait his hair in the traditional warrior's style. Thor allowed his mind to drift. It was relaxing to feel Loki's hands in his hair. Loki's scent, which had been acrid for so long was cool and soothing now, sweet in a very rich way, so very content that it was easy to get lost in it. And in his sweetness there was a hint of something woodsy and strong, the babe he carried within him. His nephew had brought a hint of the sea to Loki's scent. His niece took more after her Alpha father and Thor could not wait to meet her. He'd adored his nephew from the moment Loki told him he was pregnant and the love only deepened with every passing year as Magnus gained his own personality. His niece would be no different. He loved seeing children grow into their own person and rubbed a hand over his heart, soothing the small ache, more mental than physical.

"I will tell you this once, brother, then I ask you to forget, as I intend to."

"Go on," Loki said, his voice carrying a hint of nerves.

"Steven cannot bear children. His womb was damaged after his time trapped in the ice. I will never feel a babe move within him, never know the pleasure of a child half my own and half the man I adore."

"Brother," Loki gasped, "You have ever wanted children."

"Yes," Thor looked up at him with eyes stinging with tears, "And he was ready to set me free because he knew he could not give them to me. How could I not love him, Loki? I love him more than the idea of a child growing within him. And yet…"

"And yet, giving up the dream is painful. Oh, brother." Loki motioned Thor up to sit beside him on the bed and wrapped him in his long arms, bring Thor's head to his shoulder. Neither of them said a word as Thor shed a few bitter tears and Loki stroked his hair, shedding a few tears of his own for his brother's pain.

"It has been my fondest wish for you to find a love worthy of your mighty heart, brother." Loki said after a time, quietly as he gentled his hands, "In your Steven I truly believe you have. Both of you, so ready to sacrifice yourselves for the other's happiness."

"He is my perfect match in every way," Thor agreed.

"Good." Loki patted his head a final time, and they both knew they would never mention the moment of weakness they shared again, "Now get up and get dressed. Do you have a message you would like me to take to Steven before the ceremony?"

"Father truly will not let me see him?" Thor asked in disbelief,

"To make up for his cruel act I believe he has given himself the role of Steven's protector and father. You'd have an easier time sneaking one of Idunn's apples from under her nose than getting to Steven right now."

"Just…" Thor smiled at the thought of his love, "Tell him I love him. Tell him it is going to be the greatest honor of my life when he agrees to be mine before the court and all of our friends."

"Sentiment," Loki sniffed, then smiled as Thor got to his feet and helped him stand, "I will tell him."

Thor hugged his brother close for a moment then let him go, turning back to the rich clothing, prepared just for his mating day. He frowned at the many layers, then straightened his spine. The sooner he got into them, the sooner the ceremony, the sooner Steven would be his for all time.

He didn't notice Loki smile at him one more time in very proud, loving fashion, or the gleam in Loki's eye as the door shut slowly behind him.

Chapter Text

"Are you ready for this, sweetheart?" Pepper's voice was both strong and soothing as she washed the soap out of Steve's hair while he lounged in the large copper tub that was big enough to cover him completely up to his shoulders. If he could say one thing about Asgardians, it was that they truly enjoyed their material pleasures. He could feel the warm water and Pepper's magic hands, helping to work the tension that he'd carried for the past few days out of his muscles and out of his mind.

"Mmm," He moaned in response before he opened his eyes and tilted his head far enough back to look up into Pepper's dark blue eyes, "More than anything else I've ever done in my life."

"Good," She leaned down and pressed a hard, brief kiss to his smiling lips, "I'm so proud of you, Steve. You and Thor. But, mostly you. Letting yourself open back up to love. I was scared for a long time that you never would. When Tony told me you'd gone into heat I was terrified that we were going to lose you." She sniffled softly, then pushed his head back up so that she could finish rinsing his hair.

"It didn't happen that way, Pepper," Sam said softly, putting his free hand to her shoulder. She smiled and set a wet hand on top of his to pat it a couple of times before letting go. Sam smiled down at her and then sent a mock frown to Steve, "Though it was a very real possibility, Captain Repression. You ever do something like that again…"

"I won't," Steve said quickly, smiling at the familiar complaint from his friend, "Never again. Scout's honor."

"Of course you were a boy scout," Sam mumbled as Steve stood and accepted the large, luxurious towel from him before he stepped out of the tub.

If he'd been a traditional omega, if he'd still had blood family available, they would be the ones to help him bathe and dress for the official promising ceremony, but since his only blood family had died years before he'd even met Thor he had to depend upon the friends who had become family to fulfil the roles. Not that he was disappointed. He'd never met his father, who would normally help him bathe as his family alpha, but Pepper felt right, felt supportive, felt loving, as she washed him maternally, humming a soothing tune and helping him to relax. Sam and Frigga were the only other two in the suite. Sam ready to hand him oils for his skin and help him groom his hair and Lady Frigga in the bedroom making certain his mating outfit was prepared. It was old-fashioned according to most of his friends, he knew, but he was appreciating the old-fashioned ways that were still popular in Asgard. The same traditions he'd had when he'd mated Bucky. Back then, it had been Bucky's mother and sisters helping him bathe before their mating.

"I'm more nervous than I thought I would be," he confessed softly as Sam fussed with drying his hair.

"It wouldn't be real and we wouldn't be letting you do it if there weren't at least some nerves," Pepper soothed, taking one of his hands and beginning to buff his nails.

"Seriously, man," Sam agreed, nodding, "It's one of the biggest steps you take, no matter how much you love someone. If you aren't nervous you're stupid or, like Pepper said, it isn't real. You were there, I couldn't stop moving before my ceremony, even though Darcy and I had already given each other the bite."

"I was scheduling meetings and Tony was working on a new suit design the entire time the judge was officially marrying us," Pepper reminisced, "So that we could both pretend we weren't scared out of our minds what our love was going to mean…to us and the company."

"I couldn't eat for two days and still managed to empty what little liquid I had in my stomach just before the actual ceremony," Frigga swept into the bathing room with her usual grace and sat down next to Pepper on the long stool, picking up the hand Pepper had finished with and massaging lightly scented oil into it.

Steve closed his eyes and sighed happily at all of their ministrations.

"It is real," He couldn't help the smile that spread across his face or the dreamy quality of his voice.

"One of the most real loves I have ever seen," Frigga agreed and raised herself from her seat just a bit to press her forehead to Steve's, "And I am so glad that you and my son have found it. I feared he never would. And then you…so strong…so loving. If I had created the perfect mate for my child he would not have come close to you."

Steve blinked back the tears in his eyes and pulled his hand away from Pepper so that he could wrap his arms around Frigga's waist as she straightened and made to sit back down. She cooed gently to calm him and ran her fingers through his hair, making Sam grumble even as he set a supportive hand to Steve's shoulder. Pepper wrapped herself around Steve and Frigga, rumbling deep from her chest, a sound only alphas could make, meant for comfort.

"After Bucky…I never thought I would love again. I don't know what I did to deserve the love of two great men, but I sure as hell ain't going to second guess it." He pulled away and grinned through his watery eyes at the woman who had become such a mother to him in so short a time, his best friend, and his pack alpha. They were all grinning back.

"Really? Such sentimental drivel? Even for your wedding day, Steven, it is a little much."

They all laughed at the mock-disgusted look on Loki's face as he slipped into the room, one hand supporting his belly and the other pressed into the small of his back to soothe the pain there. Steve immediately jumped up to offer Loki his seat and then sat back down, a blush spreading over his cheeks when Loki lifted an eyebrow at him and conjured his own seat before sitting. Frigga kissed all four of them lightly on the crowns of their heads, even pulling Sam down so she could do the same to him, before she glided out of the room to prepare be ready when Steve was ready to dress, as he would be shortly.

"Thor is just as nervous," Loki smiled gently to take the sting of Steve's embarrassment away as he took over Frigga's task of rubbing oil into Steve's skin, "And just as foolish in his love. He wishes you to know his love and wishes you to know it will be the greatest honor of his life to declare you his and himself yours in front of the court and all the realms today."

Steve's smile was so radiant Loki couldn't help but reach out and cup his cheek in a hand, needing the connection with him. They looked into each other's eyes for just a moment, Loki searching for something that Steve couldn't fathom, before he seemed to find it and leaned forward to press a hard kiss to Steve's forehead. He whispered a few words in a language Steve didn't understand and then pulled back.

"What was that?" Steve asked.

"A prayer of Thanksgiving for the love my brother has found in you and a blessing for a long, joyous and…prosperous mating."

"Thank you, brother."

"Steven," Frigga's voice called from the bedroom, "Come here now, my love. The sun is growing low in the sky. You don't want to be late for your own ceremony, do you?"

"We'll see you soon," Pepper and Sam gave him quick kisses and left to get themselves ready while Loki stayed behind to clean up as he'd already dressed after visiting Thor.

Steve nearly stopped short at the ridiculously bright silver fabric on the dressing mannequin in the room. Now he understood why Frigga and Odin would not allow him to see his wedding clothes before the day. He never would have agreed to them. Frigga could see the hesitation in his eyes and sat on the bed before she motioned for him to sit next to her. He sat obediently and tried not to show his confusion when she tugged him down so that his head was laying in her lap and she was stroking his hair gently.

"It has the light of the stars and the power of the purest wishes sewn into every stitch," She said quietly as she stroked his hair, "Just as Thor's will have the bright of the sun and power of life-giving warmth sewn into his. More than a little magic went into these clothes. And not a small amount of it comes from the Asgardian people themselves. There is magic in well wishes. For millennia the tradition has remained the same when there is a royal marriage. Those with magic in the royal family help the master tailors to make the clothing and then the dressing mannequins are processed through the city so that all can touch and whisper their best wishes for the couple who will one day rule and all of their best hopes for the realms themselves."

"That's beautiful." Steve admitted.

"It is." Frigga agreed, "And you deserve every bit of it. All the pomp and ceremony. All of the well wishes. All of the love. You and my son are going to lead Asgard into a golden age not seen before, I have seen it. Oh, not for quite some time," She smiled when he looked up at her, eyes wide, "Many, many years from now. But, it will be glorious. And the realms will all prosper, Asgard will prosper, and though it won't be perfect, there will be happiness. So much happiness. I want some of that happiness for you, my Steven."

"I'm happy just to be mating Thor," Steve smiled.

"Yes, I know." Frigga leaned over so that her hair surrounded them both like a curtain, protecting them from the world and giving them privacy, "But, there is a sadness in your eyes that you try to hide. You cannot hide it when I know it myself. The sadness of knowing you will not birth a child." Steve flinched, "Peace," Frigga whispered, "When I was healing you after your bouts, Steven, I saw the damage done. Unlike myself…born barren, the damage done to you was able to be repaired by Asgardian medicine, and perhaps a little magic."

Steve pressed a hand low to his belly, "Are you…Are…" He sat up and looked at her, hope and disbelief warring for dominance in his chest. He couldn't even get the question out.

"Yes," Tears of joy streamed down her face at seeing the joy light across his, "Yes, my darling. You will be able to conceive children."

He threw himself in her arms, shaking like a leaf, too stunned to cry, "Thank you," he finally managed to whisper, "I'm still so frightened. I've never been able to carry past the first few weeks, but to know Thor and I can try. Thank you."

"There is no task too great if it leads to your happiness," Frigga cupped his face in her hands and pressed a kiss to his forehead, saying the same words Loki had said.

"Mother! Steven!" Loki's reprimand brought them out of their own world, "If you two do not move the ceremony truly will be delayed! Steven, get dressed!"

Steve dressed in a daze, putting things on when Loki directly him to and didn't even notice when Frigga used magic to get herself ready. When he opened the door to his room it was to two alpha's waiting to take him to Thor, Pepper and Odin. He smiled. His pack alpha and Thor's pack alpha, sent to escort him. Frigga and Tony would stand with Thor during the ceremony, even though Tony was not the traditional pack omega. He allowed them both to take his elbow's and moved down the hall with them toward his future, a smile on his face.

Loki and Frigga followed at a more sedate pace, their arms wrapped around each other's waists.

"I know you healed him, Mother." Loki whispered.

"I did," Frigga smiled, "And I blessed him with fertility."

Loki blinked wide eyes at her, "As did I."

Frigga's eyes widened for a moment before she began to laugh in delight. It seemed her fondest wish was to come true as well. She and Odin growing old together surrounded by many, many grandchildren.

It was going to be glorious.

Chapter Text

Thor couldn't help the help the gentle grin that spread across his face as he watched his soon to be mated love from across the room. Steven obviously didn't know that he was watching and was unselfconscious as he stripped himself out of the heavy ceremonial trappings and carefully hung them back on the dressing mannequin, running his fingers over the silver threads lovingly. He'd known that his Steven would find the marriage robes a little ostentatious, but love the idea behind the well wishes and magic of the people. Though he would never put them on again unless forced Thor knew that his mate would always treasure them, just as he would treasure his own, though he was also glad to be out of the heavy fabrics that had been constraining him since the ceremonial binding. As always happened, the small magics of the ceremony had worked themselves on both himself and Steven, beginning a rut and heat in them unlike any other they'd ever experienced nor would they experience again. He could feel it rising in himself, a desire to take him mate, mark him, and put pups in his belly, but it wasn't so desperate as a rut usually was. He was in complete control. Whereas normally a rut was just the animalistic urge to take, to claim, this mating rut was the desire to become one with his mate, to satisfy him and to love him.

He chuckled lowly and could feel warmth spread through his chest when Steven sat down on the edge of the bed. His love was struggling with the heat that was beginning in his body, Thor could tell. A deep blush was spreading across the golden skin from the beautiful face down the strong chest that was beginning to heave and that gorgeous arousal was beginning to rise between his legs.

"Lay down, my love," He called quietly, nodding in reassurance when Steven turned to him, his pupils blown wide with desire, "Let me take care of you."

"Alpha," Steven's voice carried the hint of a gentle whine as he did as Thor bade him, laying on his back, trying desperately to keep his hips still. Thor could feel his own arousal begin to fill, but the traditions for the care of his mate were so ingrained and he would not dishonor Steven by refusing to follow them. He carried the water basin and washing cloth to the bedside table and set it down as he sat on the bed. He leaned over and kissed Steven gently, cupping his cheek in his hand.

"I love you," He whispered as he broke the kiss, "You have bestowed upon me the greatest honor of my life by agreeing to be mine in front of all of our loved ones, both yours and mine."

"I love you," Steven panted, "Thank you for taking me to mate."

"There was never any question, my Steven," Thor said as he wrung out the washing cloth and began to run it over Steven's warm body. His own breath was beginning to heave in his chest. He knew he would not be able to keep control of himself much longer, "From the first moment you trusted me to see you through your heat I was yours, body and soul. And I would have you with me for all of our very long lives."

He reached over to put the wet cloth back into the basin and to where the golden apple gifted to them by Idunn rested on a silver plate with a single knife and took both into his hands.

"Will you eat of the apple, my Steven?" He cut a slice from it and held it to Steven's lips. "Will you stay by my side until Ragnarok come?"

"Until Ragnarok come," Steven took the apple slice in his mouth and chewed, never taking his eyes from Thor's. With every slice Thor felt his arousal grow. He knew how difficult the decision had been for Steven, who had already lost one lifetime. To know that he loved Thor enough to stay with him even when their friends short lives were through, it was both devastating and humbling.

"I'm yours," Steven's heat hit him fully as he finished the last slice, Thor could scent it on the air, and he arched off of the bed almost violently before throwing himself in Thor's arms, "I'm yours. Please make me yours. Fill me, Alpha. Give me pups."

"Steven," Even as his rut began to cause his own mind to blur Thor understood his Steven's desire and would not see him heartbroken, "Pups…"

"Lady Frigga…" He murmured, pressing desperate kisses to Thor's scent gland, "Mother…she healed the damage done by the doctors on Earth. There is a chance, Alpha."

"Omega," Thor growled, feeling his rut hit him entire at the knowledge that there was a chance he could breed with his mate. He dropped the damp cloth on the floor and climbed into the bed, laying Steven back down and covering him with his entire body, moaning from deep in his chest, almost a growl, to feel his mate's strong form against his own. Steven whined desperately and immediately brought his legs up to grip Thor's hips and drawn them closer together. Thor lost himself in sensation for a moment as he jerked his hips against Steven's and brought their arousals together. He'd never smelled something as wonderful as Steven. The apple pie and ice scent was around him, inside him, and he wanted it combined with his own scent more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life.

"Alpha!" Steven shouted when he brought their hips together again. Then, his Omega growled and gripped his face in strong hands, "Mate. Now."

Steven was losing his words and it was stunning. He growled back at his mate. There was time for making love later. Right now, they just needed to mate. He felt like an animal and couldn't find it in himself to care in anyway. He had no more words as he pulled himself up onto his knees and turned Steven over onto his front, leaning down to scent at his entrance to make sure he was ready. He could have howled in delight when he realized that Steven was so slick it was running down his thighs. He bit more roughly at the swell of Steven's than he intended, but that only made Steven jerk his hips into the mattress with a scream muffled by the pillow he'd buried his face in.

Thor grabbed his hips and grunted as he pulled Steven up into the correct position for mating, making pleased sounds from the back of his throat when Steven lifted his front end without being asked and turned his head to bare his scent gland. If he'd been in his right mind Thor would have been ashamed of his lack of control, but as he was, controlled by his rut, he didn't think anything of it when he slammed his cock, so full it almost hurt, into his mate. This time Steven did not hold back the scream as he reached back with one hand and covered the hand gripping his hip so hard that there would be bruises later. The scream became high and tight whines when Thor reached around with his free hand to grip Steven's shoulder and laid himself over that beautiful back so he could nose at Steven's scent gland.

His pleased growls were continuous as he scented their unique patterns melding. Ice and forest storms, apple pie and leather. It was uniquely them and he felt his knot begin to fill as his hips pistoned harshly and his cock worked in and out of the heaven that was the tight warmth of Steven's body. He wasn't in control of it any longer and allowed his body to do as it pleased. The only thing he could focus on was their scents and how he wanted them melded for all of time. He could feel Steven's body tightening around his cock, a sure sign that his mate was about to climax, and bit down hard on Steven's gland until he could taste his mate's blood in his mouth and knew that the mark would stay. Steven screamed as his climax overtook him and Thor howled in reaction when his own hit him like an avalanche and he slammed his knot into his mate's body. It felt like his soul was being pulled out through the climax and he lost his sense of reality to it as his vision faded into black.

When he came back to himself he and Steven were laying side by side and his mate was gently combing his hair back gently, smiling at him beautifully.

"Steven," He tried to sit up.

His Steven put a hand to his chest gently, but firmly and smiled even wider, "Don't fret, love," he said quietly, "I just came back to myself too. Thor, that was…incredible. I…thank you."

"For what, my Steven?" Thor asked, confused.

"For not covering Bucky's mark. I know you've always said that you weren't threatened by his memory but I don't think I really believed it in my heart until now." He turned his head and Thor could see that even in his rut he had marked Steven's free gland on the opposing side of his neck from the mark given by Bucky Barnes upon their mating.

"Of course, my love," he murmured, cupping Steven's face and kissing him gently, glad that his control hadn't been completely lost, "I want to honor the memory of the man who loved you so all our lives. And I know it is not traditional but…will you mark me as well?"

"Thor…" He could see the surprise in Steven's eyes.

"Should your soul travel to Valhalla before my own I will not take another love. I wish for all the realms to know that I belong to you just as surely as you belong to me." He explained gently. Steven's eyes filled with tears and he nodded quickly before he moved into Thor's open arms and pressed his lips to Thor's scent gland in a gentle kiss before biting down hard. Thor moaned and felt his cock give a twitch as Steven lapped at the blood to help the wound close.

When he pulled back from Thor's neck he didn't move away completely, but instead pushed Thor down on his back and laid his head over where Thor's heart was beating. Thor smiled and held him close, running his hand through Steven's hair.

"I expected the mating heat to last longer," Steven said quietly after they'd been laying together, drowsing, for a time, "With Bucky it lasted five days, just like a normal heat."

"Hmm…" Thor hummed from the back of his throat and stroked down the golden back, "The mating heat and rut should last as long as it takes to…" The thought struck him like lightning and he rolled Steven onto his back, changing their positions so that he could scent Steven properly.

"Thor?" Steven asked, confused.

"One moment, love," he answered, continuing his scenting until he reached Steven's belly. He smiled and looked back up at his lover, "Did you know, love, that I am not only the god of thunder?" Steven just raised an eyebrow at him, "Long ago those Midgardians who worshiped us as gods would place a replica of Mjolnir in a bride's lap on her wedding day for one reason."

"I'll bite," Steven smiled at him a bit sardonically, "Why was a replica of your mighty hammer placed on a bride's lap, O Great Thor?"

"To bless a new marriage with fertility," He grinned, "And my prowess does not fail us now, with the damage done to your body healed by my talented mother."

"Thor," Steven's voice was breathless as he set a hand low to his belly next to Thor's head.

"Yes, my Steven," he nodded and linked their fingers, "A mating heat and rut should only last as long as it takes for the mating to be successful. The scent is subtle yet, my love. But, it is there. You are carrying our child."

Chapter Text

"Come away now, Thor. You know that you will not be allowed in that room until it is all over."

Thor blinked for the first time in what felt like an eternity and took a step back from the door he'd been focusing on so intently. The world came back to him in a rush and he felt almost dizzy with the sensory overload that flooded him with the loss of his intense concentration. He could almost feel the blood rushing back into his sleeping feet and wasn't surprised when the backs of his knees hit a chair that someone had put behind him. Pepper helped him get comfortable in the chair before servants rushed around the hall, bringing in other chairs, a table, and laying a veritable feast upon it. As the servants went out, all of them smiling and pressing hands to the closed door with well wishes, his Alpha friends and family took seats around the table. Odin and Pepper took the seats right next to him and he looked around the table at the others. Fandral paced behind him, rocking his little one and settling her back into sleep. Runa was a fussy little one made even fussier by the fact that she wanted her Omega father and could not have him at the moment. Because Loki was in their quarters, his and Steven's, helping his mate birth their children.

It was the nature of being an Alpha that he was not allowed to be in the room while his Omega was birthing. Alphas never were. Their protective instincts were too strong when their mated Omega was in pain. They would tear through anyone near their mate, often to the detriment of their mate and the pups they were birthing. He knew why he wasn't allowed in the room, he accepted it in his head, but his heart was calling out to Steven, wanting more than anything to be by his mate's side. He could hear his pain in Steven's cries through the door, muted as they were, and wished nothing more than being able to take away the pain. The cries had increased in frequency and strength and it was tearing him apart.

"Pain is necessary for new life," Odin said quietly, filling a plate with light bread and cheese as well as some fruit and putting it in front of Thor, "Eat, my son. You must keep up your strength. Your mate will need you when the little ones are here."

"And you'll both have your hands full with three of them." Pepper agreed, stroking Thor's hair in a motherly way.

Thor chuckled dryly and spread a soft cheese on a piece of bread before he put it in his mouth and chewed it carefully. He could barely taste it, but he could see the wisdom in making sure that he took care of himself now so that he would be able to take care of his family when they needed him later. He and Steven had been shocked, at first, when they were told by the healers that Steven had three healthy, strong pups growing in his womb. But, when Loki and his mother had come to them apologetically and explained sheepishly that they'd both blessed Steven with fertility on top of Thor's own natural prowess Steve's reaction had been what he least expected.

At first Thor had been worried that Steven would pull away at the news. He'd already been so terrified, having panic attacks, just at the thought that he was pregnant again and the off chance that he could lose yet another baby. With three in his womb the chances of something going wrong were increased exponentially. But, instead of more panic, more despair Steven had laughed until he was breathless then kissed Thor until he was breathless too.

"My love?"

"It's all going to be okay this time, Thor," Steven whispered against his mouth, "I can feel it. With you and Mother and Loki all having blessed this pregnancy, blessed them…" He'd taken Thor's hand and pressed it against his belly gently where Thor could feel the energy of their growing children, "It's all going to be alright this time and we're going to have three beautiful children very soon."

Thor had never seen Steven as beautiful, as centered and calm, as he was for the rest of his pregnancy. It took Thor's breath away when he would walk into a room and find his Steven lovingly caressing his belly as he dreamed about when their children would be with them. There was a certain look in his eye when he was thinking about their children, and Thor had never been more in love with him than when he could see his love for their pups. He'd been so distracted by Steven throughout the pregnancy. His scent had been an intoxicating combination of his own and the pups growing within him, one fresh like the wind through the trees, one sweet like rose oil, and the last cool like an iced river. Thor hadn't been able to keep his hands off of him and Steven, in his pregnancy, had craved the closeness, the touch. They had spent hours, especially as his time approached, simply wrapped up in each other. The morning the birthing began he'd woken to find Steven standing at their bedroom window, bathed in early morning light that surrounded him like a halo. He'd been gazing out the window toward the park, but his hands had been cradling his belly. Thor had slipped out of the bed and walked up behind his Steven, setting his chin to Steven's shoulder and wrapping his own arms around his mate's body so that he could cradle the life inside of him as well.

They stood in loving silence for a time, no words needed, simply scenting each other and their pups before Steven turned his lips to Thor's and kissed him softly.

"We need to go to Asgard today, love," Steven whispered, so as not to break their spell of contentment.

"Why is that?" Thor asked, pressing kisses to his mate's neck.

"Because the babies are restless. We're going to meet them today." And Steven's smile had been so beautiful he hadn't even had time to be nervous.

They'd gathered the bags Steven had packed so carefully with everything he wanted for his birthing, taken a car to the tower, where they informed all of their friends of the occasion. All of the Omegas had gathered themselves to take the trip to Asgard, as it was tradition for the birthing Omega to have as many of those who loved him surrounding him as possible. It had been decided as soon as Steven had told them that he was expecting that Laura, Darcy, Bruce and Pietro would come with them right away to be with Steve from the start. The others would follow a little later after the young ones had been prepared for the trip. Steven had been happy when he realized that they would all be old enough for the trip by the time his time came. He'd confessed to Thor that it wouldn't feel right to him if all of his family wasn't there to celebrate when the time came. He'd heard Pepper making the calls to Xavier and Reed Richards to let them know that The Avengers would not be available for the next several days if anything world threatening came up as they prepared.

As soon as they'd arrived on Asgard Steven had been ushered away from him by his mother and brother, their friends happily following, all of them smiling and laughing with each other. Steven himself had been luminous with the knowledge of the prize at the end of the struggle and the friends who would be there to help him get to that prize. Thor hadn't even had time to kiss him and tell him of his love and wishes and so he'd felt at odds and decided to go back to Earth to help the others finish their tasks so that they could all be on Asgard as quickly as possible. But, when they'd gotten there, after the others had been settled in the rooms that had been made ready for them, he'd been at odds again and had simply stood outside of the birthing chambers for…he didn't know how long until Pepper and his father had pulled him out of his thoughts and he was surrounded by his friends and family, eating food that tasted like nothing but would help give him strength for his mate and little ones when he was finally allowed back in the room.

"It's hard to hear your mate in pain," Fandral said quietly, knowing Thor's mind, "Especially when you know that you can do nothing to help. But, in the end, it is worth it."

He laid the now sleeping Runa in Thor's arms and took one of the free seats around the table to put together a plate for himself. Thor looked down at Runa and couldn't help but smile. She was so fussy, especially compared to how easy a babe her brother had been, and she was so loved. She was pale as Loki, but her hair was much lighter and whether her hair would darken or lighten to favor one of her fathers as she got older was a subject of much discussion. Her little lips pursed in her sleep and Thor leaned down to press a gentle kiss to her forehead before beginning to eat again. He had spent so many hours dreaming of what his own children would look like and now that the time was so near…his heart felt as full as it had ever been. He looked around the table at friends and family and grinned.

Odin had been passed Cooper and he was entertaining the little one with a mirror he'd produced from somewhere in his voluminous robes. Wanda was holding Lila's hands in her own, bent over and helping her little sister in her ever-continuing quest to learn to walk. Clint was keeping an eye on all of his children as he held conversation with Natasha and there was a small, contented smile on his face that couldn't be missed. Volstagg and Stark had engaged themselves in some kind of drinking competition. He was surprised that Pepper was allowing it, but then noticed that she had Sam and Darcy's young one, Willa, in her arms and she was enraptured with the baby. Thor hoped that the adoption she and Stark had begun would come to fruition as soon as possible. He'd never seen an Alpha more suited to becoming a mother. She took care of them all so well. Sam himself was talking quietly with Sif, from his gestures he could tell that they were discussing the advantages of someone who spent a battle largely in the air being included in tactical discussion. This was his family. In that moment he knew that Steve had been right to insist that all of their family be there for the birthing. It was good and right and he felt himself relaxing just being surrounded by them all.

And it was in that moment that they heard the first cry of the first babe. Thor's arms went weak in shock and joy, but Sif was fast and managed to take Runa out of his them before he lost his grip on her. No one stopped him when he pushed abruptly back from the table, his chair toppling over backwards and made his way to the door. His legs wouldn't hold him, so he simply sunk to the ground and stroked the wood keeping him from his family, low noises of comfort he didn't even realize he was making issuing from his throat.

"Strong cries mean a strong babe!" Volstagg cheered boisterously, more than a little drunk. He and Tony took another drink, this time in celebration, and leaned on each other to keep themselves upright. Clint took Cooper back from Odin so that his father could sit on the ground next to Thor, keeping him grounded with a hand on his shoulder.

It wasn't long before the cries of a second babe joined just as the first were quieting and Thor felt his heart soar. A slightly longer pause and then a third babe joined in the chorus. All strong and wonderful. Thor felt nearly out of his mind with joy but took the time he knew Steven was being seen to as time to get himself back under control. It wouldn't do to meet his children when he was such a mess. He accepted the clean tunic that Pepper produced from somewhere unknown and washed quickly in the basin that was brought to him by a crying servant. It took him aback for a moment until he realized that she was crying in joy. It only took him a breath to remember her name was Hilde. She'd been a servant in the palace since he was a boy and there was no one more loyal to the royal family. As Loki and Fandral had claimed the nurse they'd shared as children for their own he thought Hilde might just be the best choice for Steven and himself. After all, he and Steven planned to be there for their children and raise them well, but with three, and their positions as defenders of Midgard, there would be times that they needed assistance. They would have to discuss it later. After they'd had some time with their little ones.

Just as Pepper deemed him presentable Loki slipped out of the room. He closed the door behind himself and leaned against it for a moment, just breathing. Thor had to keep tight control over himself so as not to rush his brother. Loki looked tired, but radiant as he took Runa from Sif and kissed her, his eyes dancing as he looked up at his brother.

"Three healthy, beautiful daughters, Thor," He said quietly, "And Steven did wonderfully. He's been healed of the small damages a birthing can cause but will need rest to fully recover. Bringing new life into the world is hard business. Are you in control enough to meet them?"

"I am, brother. Please…let me see my family."

"Of course." Loki grinned and opened the door, "Congratulations, Papa."

Thor forced himself to walk slowly into the room. He blinked at the sudden brightness of the setting sun after the dim of the hall, but his eyes quickly adjusted and he almost fell to his knees again when he saw his mate on the bed, propped up by a veritable mountain of pillows, his eyes half closed with exhaustion, but so very joyful. He was holding one of their precious children in his arms, cooing down at her, while Frigga and, surprisingly, Pietro were holding the others. Pietro looked nervous, Thor noticed, but Laura was there beside him encouraging him with a gentle smile. Darcy was running a gentle brush through Steve's hair and Bruce was at his mother's elbow, a small smile on his face as he looked down at the babe in her arms, genuine if not a little pained. Thor's heart went out to him that he would never know this joy that he and Steven had found. Hogun stood guard at the end of the bed, ever the warrior, and Thor nodded his thanks to him as he made his way over to the bed.

"Thor," Steven whispered, and held out the hand that was not cradling their child, "Come meet our girls."

"Our girls…" The emotion rose in his throat and blocked any further attempts at speaking as Pietro walked sedately over to him and laid the first of the babes in his arms. He could only guess what his scent was doing, but as soon as he was holding his babe in his arms every Omega in the room chuckled. He looked down at the beauty in his arms and no couldn't hold back his tears any longer. He made his way slowly over to the bed, barely conscious of the fact that Pietro was leading him so that he didn't trip as he couldn't take his eyes off of the babe in his arms. He sat on the bed next to his mate and pressed a kiss to the downy head of his babe before taking Steven's mouth in a tender, thankful kiss. His heart was so full, he couldn't speak, but he could see the same emotions echoed in Steven's eyes. He had never loved anything as he loved Steven and their children. He looked at the babe in Steven's arms and then back at the babe in his own.

"They're identical," Frigga smiled as she leaned over to show Thor the third of the children, "And gorgeous. And so very loved. Oh, my sons!"

"Mother," Steven took the hand that Frigga offered and set his forehead to hers when she leaned toward him.

Thor still hadn't found his voice as he scented his children one by one, knowing that he would never forget their individual scents, even for a moment. He didn't know how long it was before Steven whispered softly, "Are you happy, my mate?"

"My Steven," Thor looked down at their children once more, then up at his mate, "There has never been a happier man."

Chapter Text

Steve looked around the room at the reporters who were already shouting out questions, motioning toward the babies, one in Thor's arms, one in Pepper's arms and one in Pietro's arms. He couldn't help the small, secret smile that he gave to all of them, nor could he help the eyebrow that went up of its own accord. He turned back for a moment to look at his mate. Thor grinned up at him as he pressed a kiss to their daughter's head. His mate looked exhausted and radiant and he was sure that he looked exactly the same, as it was the same expression that he'd seen on all new parents' faces. And he and Thor'd had so much more help than some new parents. First on Asgard with the Aesir side of their family and then back on Earth when they returned to the pack they'd made for themselves. They'd been staying at Avenger's Tower while they adjusted to life with their newborns and a suite for their nurse was prepared in their brownstone.

At first, Steve had been a little wary of having a nursemaid along with them, it had almost felt like the Asgardians were trying to say that he and his mate wouldn't be able to handle raising their children alone. But, Hilde had been a godsend. With only the two of them it would have been so much more difficult when all three were crying for food or needed a little extra attention. Hilde loved their girls fiercely, but never tried to overstep. She was, at once, a protector and a caretaker, a shield maiden of Asgard herself, and they knew that, if it ever came to it, she would die defending their girls. Even now she stood in the shadows of the stage that had been set up for the conference, her Asgardian leathers dark enough to blend into the shadows as she surveyed the assembled reporters, constantly on the lookout for anything that could threaten her charges.

Steve gave her a little nod, waited for her to return it, and then turned back to the crowd of press that still hadn't had the good sense to just quiet down. He let his gaze turn a little hard, forced his mouth to set in a disappointed scowl and waited. Just as he'd expected it took less than a minute for the crowd to settle back into their chairs, looking at him expectedly, trembling as if the slightest word would have them springing from their seats again. He knew he wouldn't hear the end of it from Tony later back at the Tower. Using his "Disappointed Face of Doom™" to get the reporters to quiet down, but if it worked it worked.

"I'd like to thank you all for coming out today. I know it's been some time since The Avengers held a press conference and, as you can see, a lot of things have changed for us since then. I will read a brief statement and then there may be time for questions," When one of the reporters almost jumped out of his seat again Steve couldn't help but add, "If I feel like it."

It was more Tony's style to snark at reporters, but he was tired, he was hungry, and he knew that his little ones were going to wake up for changes and food themselves soon. He knew that if the reporters annoyed him enough he wouldn't be taking questions. He'd read his statement, take one of his girls in his arms and take them all to the elevator and up to the private living quarters without another thought. If he wasn't so keen on not keeping his status and his mating under wraps any longer he might have done just that despite all of the gathered people. But, he turned and looked back at his mate one last time. Thor would have happily let him continue the lie, but it wasn't fair to his mate, or himself not to acknowledge their connection. And, as far as the world had come in regards to Omega rights since he went into the ice, there was still so far to go. If him claiming his true status in any way help to forward Omega rights than he could hardly do anything but. He let the corner of his mouth quirk up at Thor, who threw him a subtle wink, then turned back to the microphone.

"When I came out of the ice a lot of things had changed. Most of them were hard to adjust to. Some of them were incredible advances I never could have imagined. One of the best, though, was the fact that when I awoke the doctor who treated me was an Omega. I could smell her sweetness in the air and that alone made me pause. In my day Omegas were thought of as weaker, in need of protection. A good Omega was expected to marry young, give his or her Alpha strong, healthy babies and stay home to raise them. And anyone who questioned that was labeled a rebel, a troublemaker, sick in the head. They were institutionalized, jailed, worse…" He took a deep breath and looked straight at the Alpha reporter who was smirking ever so slightly.

"I was never a good Omega. I was one of those rebels, a troublemaker. I was labeled sick in the head by more than one person." The crowd of reporters had gone completely still and silent, more than one with their jaws hanging open, "Luckily enough, my Alpha, Bucky Barnes, didn't care a whit about what was proper. And neither did Dr. Erskine when he chose me to test his serum. It was decided that my secondary gender would never be mentioned as no one would take an Omega Captain America seriously. But, I refuse to not mention it any longer. I am Captain America and I am an Omega. I am Steve Rogers and I am happily mated to Thor Odinsson. And we are the happy parents of Sídhe, Róisín, and Avon, our beautiful girls. Sometime in the future we may have a photo spread done, but until then…respect our privacy or we'll make you respect it. We'll take questions now."

The reporter who had been smirking was the first to jump up.

"Tony," he pointedly addressed the Alpha seen as Captain America's second in command, "How will this change the Avengers now that Captain America will not be leading?"

"Is he going somewhere?" Tony asked, bored and rolling his eyes, "Captain America leads the Avengers. It's always been that way…always will be. There is no one more capable of it than he is. We'd fall apart without him."

"But, with his Omega sensibilities…his emotional reactions…" The reporter pressed.

"Do you dare disparage my beloved's capabilities?" Thor asked in a low, growling voice, aware enough of his young daughter in his arms not to wake her, "He who has led us to victory and saved this realm times beyond count? He who has bested the greatest warriors Asgard can offer? We follow him, and gladly. I have never been labeled a learned man, but I am intelligent enough to know that in battle you let those lead who have the greatest chance of bringing a victory. My Steven is that leader. His tactical mind far outstrips all of ours and anyone other in this realm or any other. To say that a general would allow himself to be distracted because of his secondary gender…" Thor scoffed.

"Your sexism is showing," Bruce finished the sentiment quietly, "And seriously…do you really think, statistically, that Cap is the only Omega on the team? Not that it should matter but…"

That seemed to give the other reporters pause and the hands went down as Bruce stood without another word. Pietro, who had spent most of the press conference looking down, sighed heavily and handed Avon off to his sister before standing as well. He was chewing on his lip nervously, but he kept his head up proudly and the smile on Clint's face shown like the sun, so proud of his boy who had spent so long ashamed of his secondary gender. The smile changed to a look of concern when Pietro began to tremble at the scrutiny. He'd been punished so often before he came to Clint and Laura for his secondary gender it was hard to stand tall and admit it.

"We're done here," Steve said quietly, seeing how close to breaking Pietro was, how uncomfortable Bruce was, how angry the Alphas on the team were becoming. Natasha was flipping a knife in one hand and Steve knew that if Bruce gave her any indication that he wouldn't mind it, the knife would be in the rude reporter's flesh in an instant. Pepper was growling low in her throat, Tony surprised at her reaction. When Sídhe began to whine uncomfortably in her sleep Tony took her and nuzzled her protectively to calm her. Clint and Wanda were strung so tight with the need to comfort Pietro that Sam took Róisín and stood, motioning to Tony and Thor. So much anger and negative energy from their pack wasn't good for the babies.

They all marched off the stage proudly, no one dared to touch Pietro, Steve, or Bruce for fear of undoing what they'd all just said and done. They ignored the questions being shouted at them and rode the elevator back to the common floor. Pietro was a blur as he ran into Laura's open arms, sobbing. She went to her knees with him in her arms, rocking him gently and whispering how proud she was of him. Clint and Wanda ran after him and wrapped themselves around the two. Natasha was wrapped around Bruce, nuzzling his mating mark and stroking his hair. Tony, Thor and Sam moved to the large bassinet in the room and laid the babies down, followed by Pepper, who stalked around them protectively, making a figure eight around the bassinet and the plan pen where the twins and Darcy and Sam's little one were playing. She growled under her breath murmuring challenges to the reporter that she'd been too professional to say aloud when they were in the press room.

Thor came back to Steve's side and nuzzled his mating mark a little.

"You know that the vile reporter…"

"I know, Thor." Steve smiled at his mate gently and took his face in his hands to kiss him gently, "Never doubt that I know how much you love me and our girls. Never doubt I know how much you respect me. You honor me with that love and respect every day. Now, why don't we take the girls to our floor? They're going to need feeding soon and I'm feeling the need for some family snuggles."

"As you wish it, my love." Thor kissed him once and moved toward the babies. Steve looked around at his family, all of them in various stages of recovery. It wasn't perfect. A perfect life was an uninteresting life, but it was his. And it was so much better than he had ever imagined after waking up to find his whole world gone. He could scent his babies as Pepper gave in and let Tony comfort her and Thor handed him Avon with her fresh river scent, taking Sídhe and Róisín in his own arms.

No, it wasn't perfect. But it was perfect for him.