Originally published on the AO3 May 26, 2014 as part of Unconventional Courtship 2014. Lightly edited to correct spelling/grammar errors.
“Who are you?”
After three months of travelling, all Thor Odinson wants to do is sink into his own bed. The last thing he expects is to find a stark-naked woman already there….
Ororo Munroe wasn’t anticipating company either. Thor may be six feet four inches of pure muscle and boast a disturbingly sexy smile, but a fortnight in the South of France is the one thing standing between Ororo and her sanity—and she’s not about to give it up without a fight!
Because Ororo plays to win. The problem? Thor does, too. And with only one bed between them, things are about to get interesting….
Notes: Major thanks to Vonn for looking over this story for me and to my followers and friends on tumblr that put up with me wailing about everything from the ship itself to characterization worries. Based on the book Holiday With a Stranger by Christy McKellen.
Normally, relying on her instincts has always served Ororo Monroe well.
When floorboards in the quiet farmhouse creak in the minutes just after midnight, Ororo awakens instantly. Her eyes widen in the darkness, fear prickling along her spine as her mind immediately goes to the worst possible conclusion when she hears the muted thud of heavy footsteps come from someone making their way through the otherwise empty house.
Young woman all by herself in a secluded house in the middle of nowhere?
Yeah, Ororo’s seen that movie before and didn’t like it then either.
However, Ororo has an advantage. As far as she can remember, none of the poor young women in those horror movies were Omega-level mutants.
Ororo calls power to her as she wriggles into a seated position with her back pressed against the headboard and the sheet clutched tightly to her bare chest. She raises a silent storm in the room around her, shaping the atmosphere until the air crackles with electricity and smells of ozone. The footsteps come closer and then stop directly in front of the bedroom door. Ororo’s heart leaps into her throat when the doorknob turns and the door swings open on creaking hinges.
Out of everything that Ororo is expecting to happen, what does happen is… not it. She catches a glimpse of overlong blond hair and a strong jaw in need of a shave. He looks faintly familiar, but Ororo chalks it up to how tired she is.
“Who the hell are you?”
Shocked by the appearance of a hulking beast of a man blocking the doorway, Ororo can only stare up at him as her storm sputters off to one side in the room.
“I should be asking you that,” she barks out as anger replaces her shock. The storm comes back to life around her, spitting small sparks as Ororo’s anger feeds the cloud formation coalescing in the bedroom. She’ll have to repay her boss for the damage later, but surely Loki won’t mind that she damaged his lovely house while defending herself. “Please leave.”
The man scoffs and then takes a step in over the threshold, seeming not to notice the little storm cloud that Ororo has practically humming with the force of her anger.
“Who gave you the right –”
Ororo gasps at the audacity of the man in front of her.
“Stay where you are,” she demands, eyes widening when he continues to walk towards her. “Don’t make me hurt you. You’re trespassing.”
The man in front of her has the gall to smirk, white teeth flashing in the darkness. “Says the woman in someone else’s house,” he says, looking at her with a nigh unreadable expression on his face. He looks Ororo up and down, gaze lingering a little too long on where the sheet held hastily to Ororo’s chest bares dark brown skin to his eyes. “How exactly are you planning to make me leave?”
He looks so smug and so damn pleased with himself as he slowly encroaches on Ororo’s personal space that Ororo doesn’t even stop to think about what she does next until it’s done.
She shocks him, pulling enough lightning out of her little storm cloud to send the man flying backwards and into the wall opposite the bedroom door. The blow is so hard, that several of the knickknacks hanging from the wall actually come tumbling down.
Ororo blushes in the dark, face warming when she realizes that she’s most likely blasted someone straight through one of the walls in her boss’s vacation home.
“Oh, hell. Loki is going to kill me,” Ororo breathes, dissipating her storm cloud with a wave of her fingers once it’s clear to her that the intruder is down for the count and not likely to get up any time soon. A blast that hard is no joke and Ororo winces when she hears the faint crackling noises that most likely mean that she’s damaged something in the house itself. “Maybe he won’t notice the damage…”
Ororo doubts that anyone could survive a direct blast from her bolts without being unconscious for a little while, but when she slips out of bed to check on the intruder, she ties the sheet around her in a makeshift dress that covers up most of her bare body. Just in case.
Flipping the switch for the overhead light in the bedroom floods the hallway with warm light and illuminates the damage that Ororo has done both to her host’s wall and to the intruder that had woken her up from a sound sleep.
Fortunately, the damage isn’t too bad.
The wall isn’t cracked and thankfully, neither is the intruder’s head.
Ororo drops to her knees beside the man, leaning in close so that she can peer at his features and check to make sure that he’s fine despite being knocked out. He comes to within moments, jerking forward and baring his teeth in a snarl that quickly subsides when he looks at Ororo and remembers how, just moments before, she had blasted him across the hall.
When his eyes widen, Ororo’s widen as well.
This close, Ororo can see the man’s features more clearly and she quickly realizes why he seemed so familiar to her.
“Oh no,” Ororo says with her voice catching on the words. “You’re Loki’s brother, Thor. I recognize you from –”
From a printout that her boss currently has pinned to a dartboard and riddled with pointy darts, something that Ororo figures that Thor wouldn’t be pleased to hear about. She tries to smile again and reaches up to brush some of Thor’s hair away from where a falling picture frame had left a large lump on his forehead.
“Sorry about that. I’m Ororo; I work with your brother — sort of.”
Thor’s nose wrinkles with a brief frown.
“No worries,” he says after a moment goes by with Ororo’s fingers fluttering over his scalp and forehead. His frown vanishes only to be replaced with a roguish smirk as he takes in the way that Ororo looks all wrapped up in a sheet. “It’s not every day a man gets attacked in his house by a beautiful stranger.”
Ororo rolls her eyes.
“Nice try, sweet talker,” she drawls, seconds before rising to her feet and straightening out the sheet hanging around her body. “Now get up. I need to make sure that I didn’t hurt you too much.”
Thor rebuffs Ororo’s attempts at tugging him to his feet.
“I’m fine,” Thor insists, shaking off Ororo’s hand when she tries to help him up. Struggling to his feet amidst the chaos of the hallway, Thor dusts himself off and then cracks his neck and knuckles in quick succession. “I’m a fast healer with a hard head. You couldn’t hurt me if you tried.”
Ororo utters an inelegant snort at Thor’s boastful words. “Says the man I knocked out with just a little bit of lightning…”
Sucking his teeth as an embarrassed flush darkens his cheeks, Thor looks away from Ororo’s smugly smiling face and stares away from her at the open doorway and the bed taking up most of the space inside the small bedroom. “Well if I’m hurt, then I guess you’ll be giving up the bed.”
Thor’s massive shoulders rise and fall in a casual shrug and the smile that he offers Ororo is more than a little bit wicked.
“What if I am hurt,” Thor asks. “Would you make me sleep on the couch after that?”
Ororo’s first instinct is to say that yes, yes she would make Thor sleep on the couch even if he was hurt. After all, it’s late at night and Ororo could have been fast asleep if not for him. She even opens her mouth to send him shambling downstairs before she pauses and look him over from head to toe.
Thor does not look a thing like Ororo’s boss and begrudging friend. Where Loki is willowy and frequently found staring intently at whatever project has his attention, Thor is broad and big and already Ororo notices how quick he is with his smiles. Even with a knot on his head and plaster dust from his unfortunate meeting with the wall covering his well-worn clothes, Thor still manages to find smiles for Ororo.
It’s rather disarming.
Ororo sighs, then reaches up to rub at the space between her eyebrows where she feels a headache starting to throb.
“Come on,” Ororo says against her better judgment. “You can share the bed with me. It’s big enough.”
“You trust me in your bed?” Thor looks as though he’s ready to turn around and head downstairs in the next moment. “After what just happened?”
Ororo grins and then wiggles her fingers, showing Thor the way that little sparks form around them.
“What just happened was that I blasted you into a wall,” she points out as Thor’s gaze zeroes in on the tips of her fingers. When Thor pales at the reminder, Ororo actually has to work to keep her laughter under wraps. “If you want a repeat performance, you’re welcome to try me.”
Sheepishly, Thor shakes his head. “I won’t,” he mumbles.
“Good,” Ororo says. “Now go get changed while I find something to sleep in. I’d like to get some sleep before dawn.”
Ororo wakes up to warmth.
As a mutant who can hold immense power over the weather around her, Ororo is rarely cold when she doesn’t want to be, but this is different. Better, in fact, because Ororo doesn’t have to do anything except wriggle close to the source of that wonderful heat and curl her body around whatever it is keeping her so nice and comfortable.
However, just as soon as Ororo has made herself comfortable once more, Ororo’s nose starts to itch.
Yawning, Ororo slowly forces herself to full wakefulness, opening her eyes a crack and squinting against the sunlight illuminating the room around her. She rubs her nose against the source of warmth in front of her, wriggling around in the vain hope that she’ll simply drift on back to sleep once the itching stops.
“I think it’s pretty rude to wipe your nose on someone out of the blue.”
Ororo’s eyes fly open at the sound of Thor’s deep voice coming from so close to her ear.
“Oh my god!” Ororo bolts up from the bed, fingers reaching for a blanket that she no longer has wound around her waist. She stares down at Thor, at that huge and half-naked body sprawled across the bed beside her and then jabs her index finger right into Thor’s face. “What are you doing on my side of the bed?”
Thor gawks at Ororo. “Your side?” he asks. “You’re the one that can’t stay on one side of the bed.”
Ororo gasps, fingers twisting in the front of her tank top as she resists the urge to reach out and push Thor right off the side of the bed. “Excuse me,” she bites out, “But I don’t move around in my sleep. Unlike some people.”
“You grabbed on to me,” Thor says, eyes wide as he stares up at Ororo from where he remains on his back amidst the sheets and pillows. “How am I the one in trouble here?”
With his blond hair forming a messy halo in the sunlight streaming in obnoxiously bright from a window that Ororo doesn’t remember opening, Thor looks like he belongs in a museum or as the centerpiece of a painting. If not for the frustrated expression on his face, Ororo thinks to herself, Thor would probably look a lot like a debauched fallen angel. She catches herself in the middle of that thought, pulling back from Thor’s warm body and inching back to the far side of the bed (her side of the bed, she notes with a sheepish smile).
“Oh,” Ororo says as her fingers land on her simple blue and white sheet. “I did move in my sleep.”
Instead of apologizing, as Thor obviously wants her to do, Ororo grabs her sheet and drags it after her when she gets of the bed. Ororo wraps the sheet around her waist, ties a huge knot at her hip to hold it in place, and then directs a slight frown at Thor. “But you could have woken me up before then instead of waiting all night…”
Before Thor can do more than gape at her over the mild scolding, Ororo musters a smile for him on her way to the en suite bathroom.
“Thank you,” she says quietly.
Thor blinks, taken aback by her tone. “For?”
Ororo shrugs, “You did keep me warm all night.”
“So, when are you planning on leaving?”
Unlike his brother, Ororo notes, Thor doesn’t do subtle. There’s no prying, no wheedling an answer out of Ororo before she even realizes she’s giving one. When Thor walks into the kitchen with his hair hanging damp around his face and sees Ororo busily frying up enough breakfast to feed an army, he doesn’t mince words.
“When I’m good and ready,” is Ororo’s only answer as she stirs a skillet filled with eggs. She cuts her eyes at Thor, looking at him with a frown on her lips as he walks into the kitchen — still shirtless and still an utter pain. “When are you leaving?”
Thor’s mouth falls open. “It’s my house –”
“That you share with Loki,” Ororo interrupts, gesturing with her wooden spoon as she talks. “He’s the one that gave me the keys and told me how to get here. I’m not leaving until I’m good and ready and you can’t make me leave before then.”
Ororo turns around and gives Thor the nastiest stink-eye that she can muster without willing the man to combust in front of her. “If you’re staying here with me, then you’ll take the couch unless I change my mind. Understand?”
Ororo can almost feel how Thor’s spine straightens at the authoritative note in her voice and she has to hide her smile behind the fall of her long white hair.
She hears him start to say “yes, ma’am”, kill the words before he can get a second syllable out, and then stomp over to the small wooden table in the corner of the kitchen in front of a pair of doors that have an excellent view of the French countryside around the house.
“Good,” Ororo says, more for herself than for him. She returns to her eggs, stirring them slowly as she looks at the bottled herbs lined up above the stove. “Now, what do you want with your eggs?”
The first few days of their cohabitation are for the most part, unremarkable.
Thor spends most of his time indoors sleeping or typing on a computer that looks tiny in his massive hands while Ororo tries her best to forget that she ever had a job in the first place by watching as much daytime television as she possibly can. Aside from meals (which Ororo winds up cooking more often than not once she realizes how much Thor’s tastes run to things that are dripping with grease), they barely interact beyond pleasantries which is… alright, but Ororo finds herself gravitating into the living room more and more often just to sit and read while Thor works.
It works for them. For about three days.
Ororo cracks first.
“We’re going out today,” Ororo announces on the third morning of their time together when Thor is nearly finished with his second heaping plate of French toast. She places a large wicker basket on the tiny table and waits for Thor to look up at her.
Thor glances back and forth between the picnic basket and Ororo’s face. “We…are?”
“We are,” Ororo says firmly. “We’re in the middle of the French countryside and all we’ve done is stay indoors. That changes now.” She puts her hands on her hips and then frowns at Thor. “Isn’t the point of being on vacation to have fun?”
“Wouldn’t a day trip to Cannes be more fun?” Thor asks, all but whining as he eyes the basket warily.
When Ororo rolls her eyes a moment later, she doesn’t bother to hide it. She gestures at the way she’s dressed — in cutoff denim shorts and a vest that’s all but straining at the chest — and makes a face.
“Do I look like I’m dressed for Cannes?”
Thor’s golden brows wrinkle as he gives Ororo a pretty serious look over. “You look nice,” he offers a little hesitantly.
It’s sweet and Ororo feels her face heat up under Thor’s scrutiny, fingers itching to pinch Thor’s cheek and tease him. “Nice try,” she says, smiling to take the little sting out of her words. “But we’re still going outside.” She rests the palms of her hands on top of the basket and gives Thor one of the stern looks that have worked so well for her before. “Now go get changed. Wear something you won’t mind getting dirty.”
Thor licks his lips. “Are you planning to roll around in the mud with me or something?”
The second that Thor excuses himself to see about a change of clothes, Ororo slumps against the kitchen table and fans herself. “That man is going to be the death of me, I swear.”
Ten minutes later, when Thor comes downstairs with his hair pulled back in a tail and his broad shoulders left exposed by a worn gray undershirt, Ororo actually has to clap her hands over her mouth to keep from making a noise that can only be classified as utterly embarrassing.
The weather is, of course, perfect.
Warm with the faint potential of rain in the air, Ororo doesn’t have to do a thing to the weather in the area. It’s as though the universe itself is smiling down on them as Ororo leads Thor down a path that she had found on her first day in the secluded house.
“So, Ororo, what do you do for my brother?”
Ororo makes a face that Thor can’t possibly see with her back to him.
“At this point? Everything.” Ororo curls her fingers against the band of the bracelet ringing her wrist.
“Technically, I don’t work for him. I work with him. But by the time he’s finished terrorizing everyone in the company, I’m the only one left that’s willing to talk to him, much less work with him.” Ororo shrugs. “I’ve gotten used to it.”
Thor hums in agreement and then asks, “How long have you known my brother?”
Ororo kind of has to count backwards on her fingers. “We were both about to graduate so… four — five years I think.” She smiles slightly, turning back so that Thor can see the look on her face. “I think it’s your turn to share. I know from listening to Loki fuss that you’re some kind of doctor, but you’ve been typing on your laptop all week and well — I’m nosy. So what’s with that?”
There’s no mistaking the flush that sweeps across Thor’s face as anything other than embarrassment.
“I’m writing a book,” Thor mutters, eyes slanting to the side as though he doesn’t want Ororo to read him as easily as she’s done all week.
“A book? What kind of book?”
Thor shakes his head, still avoiding Ororo’s eyes with a grimace. “It’s nothing –”
Latching on to the embarrassment, Ororo beams and inches closer, stepping into Thor’s space so that she can peer up into his wide blue eyes. “It is,” she breathes, feeling a wild sort of glee infuse her to the core. “It is something. What are you writing?”
The stern look on Thor’s face melts away in increments only to be replaced with a smile at Ororo’s eagerness. “You’ll laugh at me,” Thor murmurs, voice low.
Ororo smiles, unable to remember the last time she felt so happy just teasing someone in such a lighthearted way. Tucking a few wayward strands of her hair behind one ear, Ororo looks up at Thor’s face. “Of course I will,” she says in a matter of fact tone. “And then you’ll be mad at me until you see what I made from what was left in the fridge and forgive me for laughing.”
Thor eyes Ororo warily. “Well that’s –” He huffs softly, wide mouth twisting with something that Ororo can’t immediately identify.
“Romance novels,” Thor mutters eventually, blue eyes looking everywhere else except for Ororo’s face. “I write romance novels in my spare time.”
Ororo claps her hands together with delight. “Oh my god!”
“Ororo?” Thor’s mouth twists with a frown that reads as self-conscious.
“You can’t be real,” Ororo says on an exhale, letting her eyes drag over Thor’s large frame. Ororo is tall, but Thor is taller, and strong enough that Ororo figures that he could probably carry her around on one shoulder if he wanted. And he’s a romance novel-writing doctor to boot.
It’s unreal (and, Ororo thinks to herself as she watches Thor watch her with all sorts of emotions lingering in the depths of his eyes, it’s more than a little bit unfair).
Ororo resists the urge to silently thank Thor and Loki’s parents for having such an unfairly perfect son and instead clasps her hands behind her back. Taking in the tension tightening Thor’s shoulders, Ororo makes up her mind on the fly and turns around to head back down the path. She’s probably a good five or six feet down the overgrown path before she realizes that aside from the whisper of wind through the grass and leaves around them, it’s silent. When she turns around, Thor is right there where she left him, fingers curved in against the handle of the heavy picnic basket he’s been holding for her.
“Are you coming or what?” Ororo calls out. “Don’t worry, I’ll let you eat before I question you some more.”
Two weeks ago, if someone had told Ororo that she would be picnicking in the French countryside, Ororo would have laughed until she choked. Two weeks ago, if someone had told her that she would be feeding her almost-boss’s older brother pieces of homemade strawberry tart, Ororo would have probably rolled her eyes at them.
But here she is, doing just that.
Ororo stretches out over the sheet that they’re using as a makeshift picnic blanket, curling her toes into the grass underneath it as she watches Thor take a swig directly from the bottle of champagne that had been tucked neatly into one side of the basket. With the sun shining in his blond hair and a smear of strawberry syrup gleaming red against the corner of his wet mouth, Thor looks like the kind of guy that should be on the cover of a romance novel, not writing one. He looks unbelievably handsome as he guzzles down the sweet champagne and Ororo feels herself flush as she takes a long look at him.
Eventually though, Thor sets the bottle down against the grass and turns onto his side so that he can look at Ororo.
“I like this better than Cannes,” Thor murmurs as he looks at where Ororo lays, half-dozing in the warm sun. Reaching out, he brushes the tips of his fingers over Ororo’s hand where it rests in a particularly warm patch of sunlight that stretches across the blanket. “You have good taste.”
Ororo hums her agreement and then smiles, feeling warm from inside out. “I do,” she says, feeling a soft smile curve up her lips. “I really do.” She closes her eyes, more than ready to doze off and enjoy the sun and Thor’s presence beside her, but then she feels, rather than sees Thor shifting beside her.
“I’d like to kiss you, Ororo,” Thor says lowly, eyes at half-mast and his posture guarded as though he’s expecting rejection.
Ororo has no such thing in mind and she says as much as she pushes up onto one elbow so that she can peer into Thor’s lovely eyes.
“Oh thank god,” Ororo says in a ridiculously breathy murmur as she leans over into Thor’s space. “I thought we were going to dance around this until I ran out of vacation time.”
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