He heard Thor climb out of the tent as he cradled the metal cup in his hands, savoring the last of the coffee. It was the last of the coffee they brought, the last of their rations, really, but it had been several days, and they were at the end of the trail along the California coast. It had been a good month, a good month on the road with Thor at his side and an even better trip. He leaned back into the embrace when he felt the god’s arms around his waist, taking another sip from the cup as he watched the sunrise.
“It is early still.”
“I know. Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Indeed, you are.”
Steve couldn’t help but laugh as he felt a kiss to his shoulder followed by a heavy chin resting there. Letting Thor come along on what was normally his alone time was the best decision he had made in a while.
He hadn’t wanted Thor to come along at first. He knew that Tony hated backpacking, Natasha and Clint preferred to stay in the Tower when they could, and Bruce wasn’t too fond of the need to carry everything with him. Which is what made it the perfect alone time if he planned it in conjunction with when Thor was in Asgard. This time, however, the prince had come back much, much earlier than he anticipated, and as he was packing his bag for the road trip between his home and the West Coast, Thor had come in to greet him and gotten distracted when he had to explain that he wasn’t leaving for good, but going backpacking and road-tripping.
Naturally, Steve had offered after telling him and inwardly cringed when Thor accepted eagerly. He couldn’t blame the man--this was the best way that he had found to start getting caught up on modern culture. He would pack for a day or two, hop on his bike, and just start driving with a hiking destination in mind. He had found a lot of curious things along the way, his favorite so far being the Griffith and Feil Soda Fountain in Kenova, Kentucky he had found after getting hopelessly lost. It had been fun. He had promised to take Thor there after they were done, and Steve couldn’t have denied that the smile he got from the promise made his heart flutter in silly ways.
He had also found, much to his chagrin and amusement, a Dairy Queen with a cake that said, “Congrats, You’re on Parole!” and “You’ve got Jury Duty!” He had pictures of his travels on the laptop back at the Tower that he ended up showing Thor, and the night before they left, after getting Thor the right boots and things (though it was strange, because he kept comparing it to hunts back home), the prince had seemed remarkably enthusiastic about the whole thing, about the seclusion and the stretches of scenery. It made him feel a little better, that maybe hiking with the god wasn’t going to be as miserable as he had thought.
The next day, he had thrown his bag into the least-nice car Tony would let them take instead of strapping it to his bike, thrown their backpacking gear in the back, and taken off down the roads with the other man. It turned out to be a lot more fun than he expected, being dragged into singing songs he didn’t know on the radio, weaving in and out of tiny Mom-and-Pop stores when they stopped, and (his favorite part) asking around for the best restaurants and places to stay. He had figured out early on that people were willing to house superheroes for a night or two. He had met a lot of interesting people that way.
And since he didn’t yet have a plan, he ended up taking Thor along Route 66 since his goal was the west coast and he hadn’t done Route 66, and that was the trip he was going to remember forever. They ended most days couchsurfing, sharing meals with families, signing things, and entertaining them with tales. His companion reveled in the time they spent together, remarkably attentive when Steve would tell a tale of his old life, and Steve began to reflect that perhaps bringing Thor along had been a good choice. It was an opportunity to get to know the man, arousing quite a sense of attractiveness to him. Steve might not have had as much quiet as he would have liked, but the nights when they rented a hotel room, sometimes squeezed onto one big bed, he found it easier to sleep with the steady breathing of the god nearby. He usually ended up curled against the man, and he couldn’t feel ashamed no matter how much he felt that he should. He enjoyed his company, even if they were just staring listlessly at each other as they slowly woke or silently debated who had to start the coffee for the morning as they lay sprawled in the bed, or on the couches, or on the floor.
And when they finally hit the coast, Steve felt accomplished. Thor had laughed at his eagerness as they hitched a ride fifty miles away from where they left the car, their backpacking gear and rations ready. He realized he was fond of the god’s company, that he enjoyed the close contact and the personal time he had with the man. As they waved goodbye to the family that had helped them get to the start, he breathed in deep, enjoying the smell of the ocean. He turned to the god.
“Ready?” he asked, and Thor laughed.
“Of course, Steve,” he said, and the captain grinned as he led him off.
There was silence, glorious silence, for the first few miles as they travelled along the Lost Trail Coast, the tide chart tucked neatly in Steve’s pack. Thor walked beside him, taking it in, quietly observing, and Steve didn’t let on that he could feel his companion’s eyes on him more than once, watching him as he took in the surroundings.
“You enjoy this greatly despite all your time on the field,” Thor eventually offered for conversation, and Steve actually had to hum, break from his own trance, one of the past melding with the future.
“I do,” he said on an exhale. “It’s... not the city. It’s freeing.”
“It’s quiet,” Thor mentioned, and Steve nodded.
“It’s wonderful. In the mornings, you hear nothing but the sounds of nature, the ocean. It’s going to be great, Thor.”
He missed the pleased look at the use of his name, but didn’t miss the chuckle as they kept moving forward.
That night, they found an abandoned lighthouse, piquing both Thor’s and Steve’s interest, and the two of them decide to settle in, setting up camp near the top, despite the dust, dirt, and bugs. He made dinner while his companion headed up to the light itself, and it’s not until he was done that he saw Thor again. He served up two bowls’ worth, heading up and sitting beside the god watching the sunset.
“This is going to be a good adventure to end on,” Thor proclaimed as Steve raised his water bottle in a toast.
Thor beamed at him, and Steve leaned against the wall as he ate. The prince volunteered to get seconds, bringing up what was left. They finished the food in quiet, Steve watching the sunset and trying not to squirm under the feeling of Thor’s gaze. He set his dish to the side, closing his eyes as he leaned against the wall. When the last of the sun’s rays were almost gone, he opened his eyes again--only to Thor watching him. He raised an eyebrow.
“This is the most relaxed I have ever seen you, Captain.”
Steve blinked, then chuckled quietly, groaning like an old man as he got up, offering a hand out to pull him up. Thor took the offered hand, and he didn’t say a thing when he didn’t let go as he walked them back down to the room.
“I told you: I like it out here. It’s... Peaceful.”
Thor finally released his hand back in their room, and Steve settled on his bedding, watching as the man settled down for the night. The light coming in through the broken windows was calming, the white light of the moon and the twinkling stars peeking in through the glass. The sound of the waves filled the small room.
“It is... not what I am used to, I will say.”
“Explorations on Asgard are generally loud and boisterous.”
Steve grimaced. “Sorry, you didn’t have to come with me.”
“There is nothing to apologize for, Steve. I have enjoyed seeing you so relaxed.”
Steve stares at the ceiling of the rundown lighthouse, following the cracks where ivy has climbed over. “I don’t get to do it often, but I gotta admit this has probably been my best trip yet.”
Steve nodded. “Yeah. I’ve really enjoyed it. This has been a great month. At first I was a little hesitant. I’m used to this being my alone time--”
“You did not--”
“But I think in the end it’s worked out for the best. It’s been a lot of fun travelling with you, Thor.”
He turned his head to see the god lying on his side, staring at him intently. “Do you mean that?”
Steve blinked, a little taken aback at the intensity in his eyes, but he nodded anyway. “Y-yeah. I do. And if you’d like to come with again, I mean...”
The intense look vanished into something joyful, and Steve offered a small smile. “I would love that, Steve.”
“You’ve been a great companion. Thanks. I’m really... This has honestly been the best of my travels so far.”
Thor beamed. “Thank you. That is a generous offer.”
Steve chuckled, closing his eyes, and let the sound of the ocean soothe him, slowly pulling him into slumber. It was good night. He woke the next morning with the brisk feel of the breeze and the rolling sound of the waves. Seagulls were crying out, and he couldn’t stop the smile as he brought his hands up to rub at his eyes, feeling the moisture across his face smear. He chuckled softly and rubbed his eyes once more before opening them, sitting up and looking around. That’s right: they were in the old lighthouse, and they were going to continue hiking.
He tidied up his things, then pulled out the breakfasts he had prepared for him and Thor, then went over to lean against the broken window sill. He smiled before heading up to the light, letting the god sleep, and leaned against the railings as he watched the tide roll in and the birds wake. He lost track of time as the sun started its climb, and he nearly jumped out of his skin when Thor stood beside him, his arms plopping on the railings. Shortly after that, they set out for the next stretch of backpacking.
In hindsight, Thor pressing against his side in the brisk morning air should have been his first clue.
He took another sip from the tin cup.
“Is that all of it?” Thor murmured drowsily.
“There’s enough for a cup for you.”
“We are out of everything then.”
Steve tilted his head and rested it against Thor’s. “Not quite. Coffee, yes, but we still have one more lunch.”
He tilted his head to the other side when he felt Thor adjust, pressing soft kisses against his neck.
“I will take you in our hotel room when we are done, after I am done washing the filth from you.”
Steve chuckled. “I’m just glad you didn’t decide here. That would have been miserable trying to hike with a sore ass.”
Thor laughed warmly, pressing another kiss to the bottom of his jaw. “You smell of the ocean.”
“Tony’s going to be pissed.”
“You warned him.”
He looked to meet Thor’s gaze, noticing the amused smile, and he leaned in, planting a kiss on his lips. Thor hummed softly.
In retrospect, the rain that initiated their first kiss was probably Thor’s doing. It had started drizzling, and they had been playing by the sand, and he had lost his footing, grabbing onto Thor instinctively and pulling him down, too. It had all gone downhill from there. Well, maybe uphill was a better term, because he liked where he was now, with Thor’s arms around him as they watched the sunrise.
“I don’t want to go back to the Tower,” Steve murmured.
“We still have the trip back, beloved,” Thor said, nuzzling against his throat. “And I am still expecting that soda fountain.”
Steve laughed warmly as he settled into the embrace. “It’s a pity you’ll have to be in charge of the map,” he said, and Thor let out a confused noise, “because I’ve noticed you don’t have the best sense of direction.”
There was a heartbeat, and then Steve could feel the smile bloom against his neck.