The snow had started to slow and the wind was nowhere near as blustery as it was a few hours ago. White, fluffy snowflakes blew off the rooftops and glimmered in the pink morning sky.
It would all be beautiful if Peter hadn’t been turned into a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Cicle. He hasn’t been able to feel his fingers for hours, even after punching that mad Mayan scientist right in his dumb face and ending the winter nightmare-land that took over New York.
But he saved the day. If only he could save his frozen limbs.
After making sure Carlie was okay and to keep himself from thinking about his chattering teeth and the fact that he may lose his toes entirely, Peter crawls up the tallest building he can find to soak up some warmth from the rising sun.
God, what kind of idiot wears spandex in a snowstorm?, he asks himself while furiously rubbing his hands together. He thought about shoving his suit full of newspaper like his new buddy Vern told him to do earlier in the night, but there’s a limit to how many copies of The DB with his own masked face on it Peter can shove down his pants, and he’s pretty sure he hit his quota.
The sun was doing little to warm up his shaking body, the holes in his suit certainly weren’t helping. All Peter wanted to do was take the world’s hottest shower, but Queens was a long ways away, and with the city basically on hold from the storm, the temperature so cold that his webbing won’t work and, oh yeah, being wanted for murder, Spidey couldn’t be seen going for a morning stroll.
Maybe I should just get myself arrested, he thinks not entirely sarcastically. At least jail is warm. I could use some heat right about now …
Peter’s head whips around to look at the Baxter Building so fast he nearly gives himself whiplash. It’s a few blocks away, and he thinks that if he goes for a little rooftop run, he’ll be able to feel at least one toe by the time he gets there.
He runs and leaps from one rooftop to the next, throwing snow every which way when his red, covered feet touch down on a roof or stick to the glass of a massive office building. The strands of hair sticking out of the hole in his mask fly in every direction every time he jumps, and he’s honestly surprised it hasn’t frozen and snapped off yet.
Peter hasn’t talked to Johnny much since the civil war. Any of the Four, really. It’s been … a trip. With his identity back under wraps, and after everything that’s happened with Aunt May and MJ, he just needed some time to get himself back together. Or at least that’s what he keeps telling himself. But through thick and thin, Johnny Storm was Spider-Man’s best friend, right?
Soon, he was knocking politely on Johnny’s window, trying not to shiver right off the glass 31 storeys above the ground. A mess of blonde hair peeks out from under the bed covers, and then Johnny is rubbing his eyes and squinting at Peter outside his window. Stumbling out of his bed with all the grace of a baby deer, he made his way to the window and cracked it open without a moments hesitation.
“It’s a little early for a booty call, webhead,” Johnny said, his voice rough from sleep and a wide, bright smile on his face.
Peter swung in the window and a strong gust of wind followed. Johnny, bare chested and wearing only sweatpants, didn’t even flinch when the cold air hit him so hard that his hair danced across his forehead.
Hi, my name is Johnny Storm. I just rolled out of bed and there’s sleep in my eyes, but I look like I’m ready for my next photo shoot, Peter thinks to himself while he rolls his eyes. He tries not to break the glass when he slams the window shut.
He wanted to give a witty reply, fall into the quick banter that he and Johnny found easy and comfortable, but his teeth were chattering so much that he couldn’t really speak. Peter drops onto the carpeted floor and curls into the fetal position, willing himself to regain feeling in his frozen (probably lost forever) limbs.
Maybe I should have kept the extra four arms, surely one of them would have made it through this.
“Dude, what were you doing out there in that blizzard?” Johnny looked down at the shivering spider on his floor with a more serious gaze, hands on his hips like he was doing his best Sue Storm impression.
“Fightin’ an ancient Mayan deity. Saving the city. No big.” Peter felt like he has ice in his throat, but somehow the words found a way to escape.
“And you’re here because you got hit on the head realllllllllly hard?” Johnny asks sarcastically, and Peter glares up at him.
“No, I’m here cause it’s a blizzard and I’m cold. Did I mention I saved the day?”
Johnny groans, stepping over Peter to sit down on the edge of his bed. Peter shoves his hands in his armpits, like it will do any good, and curls into an impossibly small ball. The carpet is fairly warm, but really, anything is warm after hours spent walking around (and being thrown around) in a blizzard. He looks back up at Johnny, who’s still staring down at him and into the blank eyes of his mask with a tired look on his face.
Maybe this was the wrong place to go.
“How do you like the sound of vigilante and suspected murderer Spider-Man owing you a favour?” When Johnny yawns, rubs his eyes and looks back at him silently, Peter continues. “Just let me warm up and I’ll go as soon as I can remember what it’s like to feel my face and fingers.”
“Don’t be stupid, Spidey.” If there was ever an affectionate way to call someone stupid, Johnny has nailed it. Stepping over the superhero lump on his floor, he goes to his dresser and pulls out some sweatpants, a hoodie and some socks. Peter slowly sits up when Johnny throws the clothes over top of him. “Go change out of your costume-“
“It’s a uniform…” Peter interrupted, knowing that Johnny could see the movement on his mask which meant he was smiling like an idiot.
“Do you want me to change my mind?” That gets Peter on his feet quickly and he dashes for the bathroom before Johnny could take back the clothes.
He took his suit off slowly, reminding himself that it was his last one and it was already in need of a serious patch job. New suits don’t grow on trees, and the last thing he needed was to start swinging around in his actual pajamas.
Peter got to his mask, fingers playing with the edge at his neck as he looked at himself in the mirror. He definitely didn’t want to keep it on, but the whammy that he got Doc Strange to put on everyone so they would forget about his unmasking was important and kept his family and friends safe. He may trust Johnny and the Four with his life, but anything could happen and he can’t risk Aunt May’s safety just because he wants his super best friend back.
The guy who knew everything about him and was always there to have his back in his personal and hero life. The guy who was far too nice to him to even be humanly possible. The guy who once gave him the confidence to put his costume back on and take down Doc Ock.
His hand falls from his mask and he walks out of the bathroom, folded suit in his hands and mask covering his face.
“Seriously?” Johnny is back in his bed, nearly back in the exact spot he was when Peter knocked on his window.
“What?” Yeah Pete, thank him for saving your frozen ass by showing him you don’t trust him. A+.
“You know what.” He sits up a bit so Peter can see the angry scowl on his face.
“Look flamebrain, I’m just trying to keep your self-esteem intact. Don’t want you to lose it when you find out I’m prettier than you.” Peter hopes the joke will distract from the seriousness of this conversation.
“I don’t have the energy to argue right now, but know that I want to and I would win,” Johnny replies before flopping back down on his bed.
Peter doesn’t really know what to do with himself, so for a few seconds he just stands there and stares at Johnny, pulling the arms of his borrowed sweater farther over his hands before wrapping his arms around himself. Johnny lifts his head and gives him a tired look.
“You’re freezing cold and you’re standing 10 feet from a guy that can set himself on fire. Get over here.” Johnny throws an edge of the covers up as an invitation.
Wait, was it me or Johnny who got hit on the head with a snowplow a few hours ago?
“Oh, I can totally just sleep on the carpet, that’s, like super cool. Carpets are great, very warm and-“ Johnny glares at him and smoke starts to rise off his shoulders. “Okay, okay.”
Peter does as he’s told and crawls into Johnny’s bed, lying as close to the edge as he can without falling off. Just the warmth of the sheets makes him want to shout with joy and gives him hope for his frozen limbs. He hums, but stays straight as a board, staring at the piece of his hair that is sticking out of his mask and over his eye.
“Thanks for this,” Peter says quietly, unable to turn his head to look at Johnny, who just huffs in return.
With strength that Peter didn’t even know he had, Johnny throws his arm over Peter and pulls his cold friend into him until Johnny is settling against his back with his breath hitting the edge of Peter’s mask. Johnny’s hand slips into the front pocket of Peter’s hoodie, while he moves his feet to encircle Peter’s freezing toes.
Just when Peter thought it couldn’t get better, Johnny turns into a heating blanket against his back. His whole body gets about 15 degrees warmer in a matter of seconds and Peter can’t stop the sigh that slips through his lips in response. Suddenly, he forgets all about the blizzard, closing his eyes and picturing himself on a hot beach with warm sand between his toes.
Cold? What’s cold? I’ve never been cold in my life.
Peter slides his hands into the front pocket of his hoodie to join Johnny’s, and warm fingers quickly wrap around Peter’s cold ones. Johnny is a personal space heater, and while that was great, it did nothing but make Peter feel guilty about keeping his mask on.
“I may be a sucker for spandex,” Johnny mumbles into the back of his neck, “but this is a new one, Spidey.”
“You of all people should know there’s a first time for everything.” Johnny laughed, his chest moving against Peter’s back.
Then he went quiet. Uncharacteristically quiet for Johnny. His thumb ran across Peter’s knuckles as he let out a breath.
“Why can’t I remember you?” Johnny asked it in such a soft voice that Peter thought he might have imagined it. Peter froze, but Johnny just kept rubbing his knuckles in a way that made him want to tell Johnny whatever he wanted to hear. “I wanted to call, but I don’t have your number. I swear I did. It’s like the real you had been erased from my life.”
That’s because I was. Guilt level 100.
“I know your secret identity is a big deal, but I feel like we were closer than this, and I don’t know what I did to lose your trust-“
Guilt level 1,000,000. We were. Super close. Best-super-friends close. Okay, maybe never this physically close for this long, but …
“No, Johnny, it wasn’t you. I just- I need to protect my family.”
“But you know you can trust me, right? Trust my family?”
Of course Peter trusted them. Why wouldn’t he? But … Ugh. This is getting harder to argue away.
“I know, Johnny, I know. It’s … complicated. But know it’s not your fault, please know that.”
He could feel Johnny nodding against his neck, thumb never stops running across Peter’s knuckles. Johnny lets me in his house with no question, gives me clothes and lets me share his bed and now I’m just hanging out, crushing his dreams.
“Whatever you need,” Johnny says into the back of his neck. “I’ve never had to deal with the whole secret identity thing, but if I did, I know you’d have my back.”
Yup, and now I’m gonna fold like a cheap chair.
Without another thought, Peter takes one hand away from the pocket of his sweater and removes his mask, careful to keep his back pressed against Johnny. Lightly throwing his mask on the floor and running a hand through his hair, Peter sets his head back on the pillow. Johnny has stopped moving, but before he can say anything else, Peter grabs the arm that’s wrapped around him and moves it up so Johnny’s warm hand is lying on his cheek. Peter nudges his still-cold nose into his palm.
“Come on, Torch,” Peter mumbles, “Earn your keep.”
“Says the man in my bed and wearing my clothes.” Johnny’s unbelievably warm breath tickles Peter’s bare neck now, making him shiver in the best way. Despite his comment, Johnny’s hand gets warmer on Peter’s face.
“You have a lot of experience warming up heroes in your bed?” Peter asked out of curiosity.
And maybe jealousy? Sounded like a small dash of jealousy in there.
“Only the good-looking ones who nearly freeze to death in a snowstorm.” Peter can feel Johnny’s eyebrows wagging behind him and he’s laughing again, always so effortless with Johnny. His warm hand moves on Peter’s face and lightly grabs his nose. “I can’t believe you’re this cold. You spend all night out there?”
“Of course I did. From sun down to sun up. I had to-“ He stops himself from ranting about trying to get photos, because Johnny doesn’t remember that Peter Parker is a photographer. The guilt comes back in full force. Peter huffs, fighting himself.
“Had to what?” Johnny asks slowly while moving his hand from Peter’s nose to his other cold cheek.
This is for the best. This is for the best. Thisisforthebest. Thisisforthebest. Thisisforthebest.
Peter huffed again, and this time Johnny pulled his hand back.
Oh sunnuva biscuit.
“Okay Johnny, this is going to be weird, but bare with me. It’s all going to come back to you.”
With another breath, Peter finds his courage and turns around in the bed to face Johnny. One shy look is all it takes before Johnny nearly blinds him with the brightest smile he’s ever seen.
“Hi, Pete. Long time, no see.” Then Johnny’s hands are on his face, warmer than the afternoon sun, and he places the swiftest, sweetest kiss on Peter’s lips.
So maybe I did get hit realllllllllly hard on the head with that snowplow. Because, uh, that’s new.
He must have been blinking nonstop, because Johnny pulled his hands back and blush creeped onto his face.
“Sorry, um … I knew I was right. That there was more about you that I couldn’t remember. And I had to kiss you, in case you ever make me forget about Peter Parker again. I was holding that in for too long. So, yeah. Sorry.”
He could watch a flustered Johnny forever. So different than what he’s like when he’s pretending to be full of himself. And it is pretending, because beneath all the bravado, Johnny Storm has one of the biggest hearts in the entire universe.
He would do anything for his family. Anything for his friends. Anything for Peter.
How long has Johnny wanted to do that? How long have I WANTED him to do that?
Peter could feel his heart starting to beat faster, and in classic fashion, tried to go back to the jokes so the warm feeling in his stomach didn’t jump up to suffocate him.
“Slow down, hot stuff. How long is ‘too long?’ “
“It’s way, way too long.” Johnny’s hands were still on his face, so Peter hoped his blush was well hidden. “I told you I was a sucker for spandex. And before you did whatever you did to make me forget you, I was also a sucker for some big nerd who takes photos and makes bad jokes and saves the world in his spare time.”
“You take that back,” Peter said with mock anger, “My jokes are amazing. Spectacular, even.”
Johnny eyes close and he lets out a small laugh, so Peter takes the opportunity to close the space between them and kiss Johnny back, quick and awkward and a little lopsided. When he pulls back, Johnny’s eyes are wide and he starts slowly rubbing his thumb along Peter’s cheekbone.
“Thank you for trusting me. Again. I won’t let you down.” Peter felt a pang in his heart that he hasn’t felt in a long time – not since Gwen and not since MJ. For how cold he’s been for the past 12 hours, now he feels like he’s on fire from the inside out. He used that fire to push his hand through Johnny’s floppy blonde hair, giving him an affectionate smirk.
“I know you won’t.” That seemed to do the trick, because Johnny’s lips came crashing onto his and it was nothing like the last time. It was long and hot and Peter’s toes curled when Johnny’s tongue dipped into his mouth.
If his hands were like the afternoon sun, then his mouth was like an open flame, with all the allure and none of the pain. It was mind-numbing and Peter never wanted it to end.
But it eventually did, and Johnny smiled before pushing him onto his back so he could pull Peter into their original position. This time he left quick kisses on the back of Peter’s neck, wrapping his arm around him with none of the hesitation that he showed minutes ago.
“I think you’re pretty warm now,” Johnny said, relaxing against his back.
“Kissing tends to help,” Peter mumbles back, pulling the covers up and over their shoulders. “And sorry if I was, uh, rusty. Its been a while, if you don’t count that girl who pretty much threw herself on me at the bar, which I definitely don’t.” Johnny snickers behind him, his hand finding Peter’s underneath the covers.
“We’ll have lots of time to practice,” Johnny says before yawning. “Right after we sleep for the next few hours, okay?”
“It’s technically the morning-“
“Johnny, I know you had to pretend not to know who I was before I unmasked in front of everyone else, but don’t you think getting in a fight with me in the Macroverse was a bit much?”
“If you’re looking for a way to congratulate me on my best acting to date, you’re not doing a very good job.”