“I am gonna kill that stupid raccoon,” Peter mutters darkly, fists shoved under his armpits while he paces, brisk and restless in his quest to keep warm.
A low whistling on the wind gives him just enough warning to screw up his eyes before another gust blasts a flurry of snow right into his face. At the rate it’s falling now, it’ll be up to their ankles within ten minutes - just peachy.
Thor grunts noncommittally from where’s he hunched over, absorbed in finishing up the disruptor setup. The sooner they get this over with, the better, Peter thinks irritably as he gives his toes another experimental wriggle - all ten still there, good to know.
Still, it’s a pretty sweet job, all things considered; the local embassy is paying good credits for them to set up these disruptors. Ongoing peace talks, guerilla insurgents, a need for extra security - an easy enough gig, even with Giphollan’s nasty winter cycle to contend with. One person to set up the devices, another to cover their back throughout. Simple.
Peter just hadn’t envisioned himself… y’know. Actually being out in the snow.
“In fairness,” Thor finally says, somewhere between amused and irritable as he rolls those broad shoulders with a grunt of relief, “I did try to tell you gambling job assignment privileges with Rabbit wasn’t the brightest idea.”
The wry, knowing look he shoots Peter’s way might be intended to be disarming; it certainly would have been with any of the others. As it is, it only sours his mood further. “Yeah, thanks for the reminder, dude,” he says, teeth on edge at the memory on top of the cold.
Truth be told, he has more than a few suspicions that Rocket’s winning flush had been generously supplemented by the extra deck he insists he doesn’t keep in his vest. But a rematch would have meant sitting through another round of Drax trying to bluff. And Peter just… is not that strong.
So, here he is. Freezing his ass off on a craggy mountain peak in the middle of a snowstorm, with only the mighty ‘God of Thunder’ for company. “Man… remind me never to take a job on Giphollan again,” Peter grumbles.
Yes, he can hear how whiny he sounds. No, he’s too cold to care at this point.
“Can do,” Thor says briskly, punching in the last few codes. With a whirring that’s quickly swept away on the winds, the device finally comes to life, emitting a low, throbbing hum - just the right frequency to fry any unauthorised ships and tech trying to reach the embassy below. “Right, that’s us done!” Thor says, cheery as he examines their handiwork. “Rabbit should come for us once he picks up the signal.”
“Thank fuck.” Already, Peter’s thoughts are turning to a hot shower, a warm dinner, and a certain trash panda whose tail needs a good kicking; the perfect evening, he thinks as he seats himself on a low rock ledge.
Gritting his teeth against the shiver another gust of wind brings on, he casts an envious look over at Thor. His hair and beard are shorter again these days, cropped fairly close to frame his face. He’s in his fancy armour, too, all leather and metal plating. Good for scaring off anyone who tries to interfere with the job, Peter concedes, but not that comfortable looking in these conditions. And yet, for all that, Thor looks warmer than he has any right to be, all rosy cheeks and bright eyes.
It’s not until Thor clears his throat pointedly that Peter realises he’s been openly glaring (glaring - not staring. Definitely not staring) at his companion for a solid minute or two. “Anything I can help with, Quill?”
“I…” Peter flounders for a moment, tongue-tied as he feels his cheeks burning with embarrassment. “I- just wondering… how the hell are you not freezing, man?”
Nice save, Peter. Smooth .
“Oh, is that all?” Thor’s laugh is as jovial and self-assured as ever, the confused knot in his brow quick to vanish. “Asgardians run at a bit of a higher temperature than most do. It comes in handy at times like this.”
“Yeah, yeah… perfect as ever,” Peter mutters absently, resisting the urge to roll his eyes.
He tries not to be such an ass over little things like this. Really, he does. But with the rest of the crew oohing and aahing over their newest member every chance they get, it’s a little difficult not to get irritated every time Mr Pirate-Angel reveals yet another flawless attribute.
Another laugh. “Are you always this moody when you’re cold?”
The question catches Peter off guard. Bemused, he twists around in his makeshift seat to get a look at Thor’s face again. In the low light of the late evening, he can still pick up a teasing note in Thor’s smile, but for the most part, he regards Peter with a look of frank curiosity.
“... not always,” he finally concedes, somewhere between mulish and sheepish. Turning back around, he looks out over the mountains stretched below them. “I used to love it when it snowed back home.”
“Ah.” A few crunching footsteps, and Thor’s just behind Peter’s seat, cape flapping softly in the breeze. “This was back on Midgard, am I right?”
Peter manages a chuckle. “If that’s fancy talk for Earth, then that’s the one.” There’s silence again as they watch the snow fall on the valley below. It’s kind of beautiful, when the flurries slow long enough to clear the air. Serene.
“I remember this one winter,” Peter suddenly says. “My mom caught me sneaking out of bed to watch the first snowfall.”
He’s not entirely sure what’s compelling him to speak, if he’s honest. In all their months travelling together, he’s never quite clicked with Thor the way the rest of the Guardians have. And even with his friends, Peter can still be a little cagey about his memories of his mother, let alone with somebody he barely tolerates on some days.
But then again, maybe that’s the draw. They might not be friends, but they’ve both been through shit. Both known how preferable it is to dwell on past failures, missed opportunities that there’s nothing to be done about, than those of the present.
(It’s not her. It can’t be her, no matter how long he chases her. No matter how badly he wants her to be Gamora.
Maybe one day, he’ll actually learn that.)
So, there’s no fear of pity, or judgement. And if Thor’s noise of interest is any indication, the story isn’t an unwelcome one. So he presses on, already half lost in the memory.
“I mean… I thought she was gonna kill me. But then, she got this smile on her face, and she went and started digging out our winter clothes. Coats, boots, scarves - the whole nine yards, y’know?”
“I can imagine.” There’s a moment where it feels like Thor wants to say more, a pregnant pause stretching between them before he clears his throat. Awkward and unsure, and not like Thor at all.
“Anyway,” Peter mumbles, thankful that their positions take any possible awkward eye contact out of the equation, “she made us both hot cocoa, we set up shop on the porch with pretty much every blanket in the house. And we just… sat there. Huddled up with the walkman, watching the snow.”
It’s been a while since he thought of that night. He can still feel Mom’s arm around his shoulders, the warmth of the cocoa between his hands. The thought of it tugs at the corners of his mouth, fond and forlorn all at once.
Just on the edge of his peripheral, he sees Thor shuffle forward a little. They’re just about level now, Thor’s foot jiggling nervously out of the corner of his eye.
“My mother used to take Loki and I out on snowy nights.” Thor’s voice is quiet, almost hesitant, when he finally speaks. Peter might have missed it altogether under the wind, if he hadn’t been seated so close by.
“She always loved stargazing - reminded her of home, back on Vanaheim. She’d wrap us up and try to teach us all the constellations, how to pick them out, the stories behind them…” A huff of laughter, curling away on the wind in a pale mist. “Loki was always much better at keeping them straight then I was. But she was always patient with me when I asked to hear it all again.”
The ache in Thor’s voice isn’t quite the one they’d heard when they’d first found him, adrift in the wreckage of the Statesman. An old pain he’s learned to live around, rather than a fresh, gaping wound. And somehow, it’s all the more heartbreaking to hear.
“... she sounds like she was pretty amazing.” The words feel paltry, even as Peter says them. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that grief in general is a son-of-a-bitch to put into words. Especially when it comes to family.
“As does your mother,” Thor returns, his voice certain and kind, even through the ache, and Peter finds himself half-wanting to turn and look at him properly, half-afraid of breaking the spell of… whatever this moment is by saying something stupid.
For a minute, there’s silence, broken only by the moaning of the wind. Until Peter damn-near has a heart attack when he senses something swooping down to envelop him from behind.
“What the fu-!” His hand is already at his holster before he realises what’s happening.
Thor’s cape is thick and warm around Peter’s shoulders, lighter than he’d expected. Not that that detracts from its purpose; already, there’s a much more pleasant kind of shiver running through him at the warmth it brings.
Thor’s smile is benign, though not without an amused edge at Peter’s gawking. “That should keep the frostbite at bay ‘til Rabbit arrives,” he chuckles, settling down at Peter’s side. He really wasn’t kidding; all of a sudden, it’s like there’s a furnace pressed right up alongside him, the heat spreading right down to his toes in no time.
His new-found warmth is also quick to make its way up to his face at Thor’s remark. In light of their mutual soul-baring session, his earlier sourness and whining seems more childish than ever. “Look, man, you really don’t-”
“I know I don’t have to,” Thor says, eyes glinting with mirth and something less easy to put a name to. “But I’d like to.” Just like that, simple and earnest in that way of his that always makes Peter’s tongue feel heavy and slow.
“Well… thanks,” Even with his face on fire, Peter makes himself meet Thor’s gaze. “I, uh… I appreciate the thought.” It’s not much, but even if they aren’t that close, it’s the least he owes the guy. Not one hundred percent a dick, and all that.
Thor seems to get the message, though, if the warmth of his smile is anything to go by. “Any time, Quill.”
And because it wouldn’t be Thor without an over the top PDA, Peter finds one of those brawny arms slung around his shoulders as he’s crushed in an affectionate half hug. It’s… nice, though. Kind of comforting. And Peter finds he isn’t all that surprised at how easily his smile grows to match Thor’s, drawing the cape a little tighter around his shoulders.
So, there they sit. Huddled together, watching the snow drift down onto the mountains below. And if neither of them choose to comment on the fact that Thor’s arm stays firmly around Peter’s shoulders, or the way Peter instinctively leans in closer to Thor every time the wind picks up … well. There are worse ways to conserve body heat.