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“Lacey!” Peter called around the park, voice already hoarse. “Lacey, c’mere girl!” There was no response, and he bit back tears as he kept searching.

Things couldn’t be worse. The past week had been more than hectic--at every turn, it seemed like there was a villain that needed to have their ass handed to them by Spider-man, and it was usually when he was meant to be studying. He’d been forced to stay up well past his desired bedtime for nights, and he only managed to catch an hour or two of sleep at dawn before he had to get up and get on with his day.

Just last night, while running on only two hours of sleep in the past forty-eight, Peter had been the one to have his ass handed to him by a Doctor Doom-wannabe with a red cape. After leading the man on a merry chase for a good hour, the Avengers had shown up and promptly taken care of business.

While he was thankful for the help, Peter could have done without the obligatory “you-shouldn’t-be-doing-this” lecture from Captain America. The hero seemed to have it in his head that since Peter wasn’t an Avenger (and was obviously young), he needed extra guidance. And who better to give him said guidance than Captain America? If it wasn’t so annoying, he would feel flattered.

“Cap, listen,” Peter had finally cut in, holding up his gloved hand to stop Captain America. “I’ve been up for two days and I think I need stitches. I imagine what you have to say is really, really interesting and important, but can I get a rain check?”

A SHIELD agent had come up carrying a first aid kit, and Peter was quick to make his escape, ignoring Cap’s irritated calls for him to come back. He didn’t trust the nurse to not sneak his blood off for testing, or to simply dope him up enough that he wouldn’t be able to fight back when SHIELD dragged him away and made him ‘disappear.’

Gwen was able to patch up the worst of the cuts and burns (“He was shooting black, magic-y goop from his hands. There needs to be some kind of law about unregistered magic, Gwen, I swear.” “Yeah, well, we’re not in Harry Potter, so I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.”), but Peter ached all over. She offered to let him spend the night, but he declined.

“I should go and spend some time with Aunt May,” he said as he hobbled to the door, Gwen hovering over him and prepared to catch him if he collapsed. “We haven’t hung out for the past couple of weeks.”

Gwen nodded, patting his shoulder carefully. “That sounds like something you need,” she agreed. “Go and watch a movie with her or something and then get some sleep. No studying or superhero-ing tonight. You’d end up just hurting yourself.”

“Thanks for the support,” Peter said sarcastically, earning him a scoff and a quick peck on the cheek.

Unfortunately, Aunt May wasn’t home by the time Peter had hobbled through the front door. A note on the fridge explained that she was out playing Bridge with some of her friends, and that there was lasagna in the fridge for his dinner and he needed to walk the dog.

Groaning pathetically, Peter had set his backpack down and grabbed the leash. Lacey yipped happily around his feet, nubby tail wagging so hard her body moved side to side. Bending down to hook the leash to her collar made his body throb, and he hissed in pain when she jerked against the lead.

Peter probably should’ve known that the universe wasn’t going to let him have a nice, relaxing stroll with the Corgi in the park. A mere five minutes into the walk, a squirrel caught Lacey’s eye. Within seconds she’d managed to wriggle out of her collar and was racing after it, barking like mad and disappearing into the bushes. Peter had taken off in a run to catch her, but the stitches in his side were quick to remind him of their presence and he was forced to stop.

That’s how he had gotten into this predicament: wandering around the park while shaking around a bag of treats, yodeling the dog’s name with a hoarse voice, and stitches that felt like they were ready to pop.

He was desperate to find the dog before Aunt May came home and realized that they were both missing. Peter didn’t think he’d be able to look her in the face ever again if he lost the dog. Lacey had been a gift from a couple of her friends right after Uncle Ben’s death. A companion for her to have while her Peter was off doing ‘teenager-ly things’ and she was sleeping alone for the first time in years.

Peter bit his tongue, searching helplessly. “Lacey!” he called again, ignoring the curious looks from passerbys. “Lacey, please, c’mere!”

“Dude, I hate to break it to you, but that’s no way to get a girl to come back.”

Peter whipped around, startled and frantic. The man took a step back, holding his hands up as a gesture of peace and jerking his head down to hide his face. The superhero noticed the baseball cap and large sunglasses he wore in an effort to hide numerous scars that covered his face, but the teenager couldn’t find it in himself to care about his appearance.

“I’m trying to find my dog, not some girl!” Peter spat at him, tears welling up from a mixture of frustration and indignation. He angrily raked his fingers through his hair. “She ran off after some squirrel and she doesn’t have her collar on and it’s getting dark--”

“Whoa, hey, calm down there, friend,” the man said, taking a hesitant step closer. “Ah, crap, you’re crying aren’t you?” Peter made a choked gurgling sound in the back of his throat.

“She could’ve gotten hit by a car!” Peter wailed. “Or gotten attacked by a bigger dog! She’s a fat, old Corgi--she fought a spider once and lost! Lacey’s going to get ripped to shreds.”

“No, no, no,” the man soothed the hysterical teenager. “We’re going to find her, okay? She couldn’t have gone too far if she’s so fat and old. Besides, dogs love me; I’m like a bona fide dog whisperer. She’ll hear my sultry, sexy voice and come running from miles away.” The joke managed to get a startled laugh from the teenager. “What’s your name, kid?”

“Peter,” he managed to respond, wiping his cheeks with the sleeves of his jacket.

“Nice t’meetcha, Petey, I’m Wade. Where do you want to start looking?”

As they wandered around the park, calling Lacey’s name, Peter quickly learned that his new friend was a chatterbox. And while he did, indeed, have a nice voice, he refused to shut up.

“So what’s up with the bruises? You a wrestler? Nah, you’re too skinny for that. Maybe a playground scuffle?”

“I’m in college.”

“Oh thank God. You’re so baby-faced that I thought you might be in high school.”

Excuse me?”

“Nothing, nothing, just talking to myself. Maybe a lil’ spat over a girl, eh? Or boy? A disagreement with a professor?” Peter didn’t deign him with a response. “Ah, I know,” Wade chuckled, grinning knowingly. “It’s some kind of fight club, isn’t it? And that’s why you’re not talking about it.”

“That’s exactly what it is,” Peter said dryly. “I’m in a fight club with a friend who’s actually a figment of my imagination. All of these bruises are self-inflicted.” There was a beat of silence and Peter looked over to see Wade staring at him with a wide, concerned expression. “I’m joking, you dork. I got them wrestling with a friend.”

The man let out a deep sigh of relief. “Good. I have another question, though. How does a dog fight a spider and lose?”

After wandering around in the dark, Wade abruptly stopped. “I think I hear something over there. Lacey?”

There was a rustling in the bushes where Wade had pointed, and out trotted a happily panting dog, smudged with mud and burrs sticking to her fur.

“Lacey!”

Peter dropped to his knees and scooped up the dog, holding her tightly as her nubby tail wagged. He felt like he was going to cry all over again as he covered her face with kisses. The dog barked obliviously, returning the kisses with licks.

“You stupid dog, I’m putting you in a harness next time we go out,” Peter promised, standing up with Lacey in his arms. “I’m never letting you go.”

“So this is the damsel in distress,” Wade cooed, stepping closer and holding his hand out for the dog to smell. Lacey was more than willing to lick his hand, determined to cover it in her saliva.

“Thank you so much, Wade,” Peter said earnestly as the dog sniffed the man. “Really.”

The man’s scarred face turned an interesting shade of red, and he muttered something to himself. “‘S really fine. Can I walk you home?”

Peter refused to let Lacey down as they walked back, and she seemed more than content to sleep in his arms. He winced at the pain the dog’s weight put on his bruises, shifting constantly as they walked.

“Here.”

Wade stopped walking and held his arms open, accepting the dog from Peter. “Stop torturing yourself, I can hold the dog for a bit. Don’t think I can’t hear you moaning and groaning every few seconds from your Fight Club bruises.” Peter huffed but didn’t bother denying that his aching body felt better without an extra thirty pounds in his arms.

They reached their destination quickly, and he was relieved to see that the lights were still out--Aunt May wasn’t home yet.

“Thanks again,” Peter said, opening the door and letting Lacey scramble out of Wade’s arms into the house.

“No problem,” Wade said, lips quirking into a half smile. “I’m glad we found her.”

There was an uncomfortable silence that followed that. Peter shifted from foot to foot, simultaneously eager to go inside and soothe his sore muscles in a hot bath and eager to stay and talk with Wade more. The man was pretty darn cute, Peter had to admit. Even though he had pretended to be unamused by Wade’s antics and nonstop talking, he actually found it endearing and oddly relaxing.

“Hey, uh, stop me if I’m being really straightforward here,” Peter blurted out, deciding to just get the words out before he lost his courage. “But can I get your number? I-I’d like it if we could hang out sometime.”

He seemed to have taken Wade off guard. Reeling, the man stared at him. “Like...hanging out hanging out, or dating hanging out?” he asked.

Peter felt the tips of his ears get hot. “Dating hanging out,” he clarified sheepishly.

“That--holy crap, that’d be awesome! I mean, I have a really busy job and stuff, but, like, all my free time is yours. If you want it! If the first date goes well. Sorry, getting way ahead of myself.”

Peter couldn’t help but laugh, relief coursing through him as Wade pulled out his phone. “Your babbling is cute,” he commented after he’d exchanged phone numbers with the man.

“You definitely won’t be saying that after a couple dates, baby boy.”

***

Perhaps planning a date when he was already stretched thin time wise and constantly exhausted wasn’t the smartest thing, but Peter couldn’t find it in him to care. He needed something to distract him from the crime fighting, the impending doom that were his finals, and SHIELD (and, by extension, the Avengers) harassing him to figure out if he was a threat.

The first date went great, and was shockingly free of interruptions. Wade and Peter took Lacey to the park, and stopped to sit on the swings while she sniffed around. They chatted about nothing of importance, swapping stories that had them falling over with laughter. The date ended when Peter had to go meet Gwen for a study session. There was a lingering hug before the two went in separate directions.

Peter was texting Wade constantly after their first date. He had never been one to use his phone during class, but he now found himself constantly glancing down to read Wade’s latest message. Studying now happened with Wade on the phone or on Skype, occasionally quizzing Peter (with questions and answers provided by Peter, of course--Wade couldn’t make heads nor tails of “all this science-y bullshit”), and Peter had even stopped in the middle of fighting crime to answer a call or text from him.

Needless to say, Peter was completely smitten with Wade.

Since they had only been properly dating for two months, it wasn’t hard to keep his identity as Spider-man secret from Wade. The other man assumed that Peter was just busy with studying and ‘helping his friend with her job,’ which wasn’t necessarily the truth, but not really a lie. While Gwen did often call him to talk about the newest data she’d gotten from interning at Oscorp, that only took a small portion of his time. The majority of the time he said he was with Gwen, Peter was out as Spider-man, patrolling the city and fighting crime.

Sighing, Peter swung through the air, searching the city for one of the robbers that had gotten away. He’d had to cancel his coffee date with Wade at the last minute to stop a bank robbery, and he was now determined to catch this slippery thief.

There was a loud explosion that was followed by an angry roar in the distance. Welp, I guess the robber can wait a bit. Veering off from his previous course, he headed towards where the Hulk was grappling with something large and furry.

“You guys need some help?” he called out to Iron Man as he landed on the side of the building.

“Sure, buddy,” Iron Man said angrily, shoving off balls of fur that seemed to be growing and attempting to eat his suit. “Knock yourself out. Aim for the rabbit bastards that’re shedding these things.”

Peter nodded, even though Iron Man had stopped paying attention to him, and quickly roped one of the creatures.

Peter grappled along with the Avengers, managing to subdue two of the rabbits before finding himself stuck. The fur had started to clump to his suit, and it was clumping and growing until it was able to wrap around his arms, pulling him down with their weight until he was struggling to pick up his arms. He struggled fitfully as one of the mutated rabbits saw that he was vulnerable and made a hoppity beeline towards him.

“Crap, crap, crap--”

Before the thing’s jaws ripped off Peter’s face, it abruptly exploded. More specifically, the head had.

Peter stared at the body in shock as it slumped on top of him, lifeless. Grimacing at the weight and the fact that he was now covered in purple, foul-smelling blood, the superhero rolled it off of him. He stood up and brushed off the fur before it could start growing again, whining pathetically when he realized that he’d have to get a completely new suit. Experience had taught him that mystery liquids from strange creatures never came out of Spandex.

Assured that he didn’t have any serious injuries, Peter made his way--

“Oh my gosh, are you all right, Spidey?!”

Peter stumbled his own feet when he heard that voice.

He’d just assumed that Iron Man had shot the mutated bunny with his repulsor, or Hawkeye had used one of his fancy-schmancy arrows. He wasn’t expecting the notorious mercenary Deadpool to show up and be the one to save him.

And for said mercenary to have the exact same voice as Wade.

It completely blindsided him, but then he realized that he should have figured it out earlier: a scarred man named Wade who talked nonstop? A mercenary known for his scars, who drove everyone up walls with his incessant talking, named Wade Wilson?

Jesus, Peter was an idiot.

“Uh, it’s all good!” he shouted at the concerned mercenary, pitching his voice lower in hopes that Wade hadn’t realized who he was yet.

“That’s great! I’m Deadpool, and it is a total honor to finally meet you. Like, you have no idea. I’ve been trying to run into you for ages. You’re surprisingly good at hiding your identity, y’know. And seriously, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a web slinging hero…”

Peter forced himself to tune out Wade’s chattering, knowing that if he kept talking to his boyfriend, he would quickly figure out who Spider-man was. He didn't need Wade blurting out his name when the Avengers were around.

As they continued the fight, Wade grew distracted by having his favorite superhero around (perhaps second favorite; Wade was always gushing over Captain America), which made him less attentive to the rabbits that were skulking around. He was in the middle of a long spiel about an encounter with Wolver when the creature slunk up behind him, completely unaware of it until it was practically on top of him.

"Wade! Behind you!" Peter called out, swinging towards his boyfriend.

Acting on instinct, he tackled the creature as it leaped towards Wade, jaws open. He pinned the creature down, maneuvering to shoot its face with webbing. The thing let out a muffled screech of rage, and Peter was quick to web down the rest of its body to the street.

He whipped around. “Are you alright?” he asked Wade in a rush, looking over the mercenary’s suit to check for any tears or blood. “Did it get you?”

There was a moment of silence as they both stared at each other. A gunshot from Natasha at one of the creatures nearby spurred Wade into action, making him jump and squawk, “PETER!”

Peter felt his heart leap into his throat, and he held up his finger to his masked mouth and hissed, “Hush! Shut up! Secret identity!”

Wade didn’t acknowledge what he was saying, too busy gaping at his boyfriend. “Peter, is that you?!”

“Yes, yes, it is, now please stop saying my name so loudly!”

“But--how?” Wade asked in astonishment. “For how long? Since when?” His expression abruptly turned indignant. “And why didn’t you tell me you were Spider-man? That seems like an important thing to air out before we start a relationship.”

“What--why would I start off a relationship by revealing my secret identity--emphasis on secret--to someone who’s basically a stranger?”

“Does Deadpool...know Spider-man?” Clint asked Steve, staring at the bickering duo in confusion.

“It would seem so,” Steve blinked, pulling his shield out of a clump of rabbit fur.

It was odd seeing Spider-man act so casual and comfortable with someone as unique as the mercenary. And from the way they were going at it, they seemed to have known each other for a while--excuse him, had been dating for a while. He definitely hadn’t been expecting that piece of interesting information.

“Hm.” Clint shot another arrow at one of the last mutated creatures, getting closer to the argument to call out to them. “Hey, guys? Y’know we’re fighting, right?”

“Well, why didn’t you tell me you were Deadpool?” Peter angrily retorted at Wade, not acknowledging Clint’s question. “You’re just as guilty as me in this situation, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal.”

“How could you not know he was Deadpool?” Clint asked, astounded as he lowered his bow. “Seriously?”

“It’s not something that you immediately jump to! ‘Oh, his name is Wade and he has scars? Then he must be an internationally known and wanted mercenary!’”

“I dunno, it seems like as a superhero you should,” Clint snorted.

 “Aww, internationally?” Wade said at the same time, eyes softening considerably. “Baby, you’re so nice.” He threw an arm around Peter’s shoulders, pulling him into a one-sided hug.

“Wade, we’re still arguing.”

“It’s just so hard staying annoyed with you when you keep sweet-talking me,” Wade cooed, hip checking his boyfriend.

“Sweet talking?” Peter mouthed to himself. He ran a hand over his face in tired resignation when Wade continued chatting.

Black Widow came up, almost completely clean and put together, save for a purple smudge on her cheek (unlike everyone else, who was coated in purple and bruised up). Wade stood up straighter in the presence of the deadly assassin, watching her warily. “The situation’s been contained,” she cut smoothly into the conversation. “SHIELD would appreciate it if you would take your lover’s spat somewhere else.”

“Uh, yes ma’am,” Wade hurriedly said. “We were done anyway. What d’ya think, Pe--baby boy?” The mercenary and his boyfriend flinched at the slip. “You still up for that coffee date?”

“Yeah, I just need a shower,” Peter responded, shifting and grimacing at the drying goo that had seeped through his suit. “Maybe we could meet in an hour?”

“Sounds good.”

Wade gave Peter's shoulder an affectionate squeeze before leaving, silently assuring him that everything was alright. Peter smiled after him before turning to the bewildered Avengers.

"You're dating Deadpool?" Tony asked in disbelief.

"I didn't know he was Deadpool," Peter defended himself, crossing his arms. “And he’s still a decent guy.”

“Who happens to kill people,” Tony pointed out bluntly.

Peter faltered. “Nobody’s perfect,” he offered sheepishly. “And he only kills, uh, bad people. That’s why SHIELD hasn’t killed him yet.” He’d have to look more into that. He knew from word of mouth that Deadpool had been cutting back on the number of missions these past few weeks, but he couldn’t be certain until he talked to him. “It’s none of your business.”

Tony snorted derisively, shaking his head and muttering something under his breath about stupid kids before flying off. Clint had a large grin on his face, finding the whole thing incredibly hilarious. He went over to where Bruce was uncomfortably hiding his nakedness behind a flimsy blanket, his clothes torn from transforming into the Hulk, leaving Peter alone with Natasha.

“So, uh, until next time,” Peter said to the Avenger. He shirked under her calculating gaze.

“You’ll be hearing from us soon,” she finally said, almost dismissively. “Agent Coulson will contact you in the next couple days, so try to make yourself available...Peter.”

The smirk that accompanied Black Widow’s usage of his name made his blood run cold. Hair standing up on the back of his neck, Peter beat a hasty retreat, missing the way her eyes flashed in amusement.

When he reached his apartment, Peter quickly hopped in the shower and started scrubbing off the purple, mutated-rabbit blood. It took longer than he would have liked, and when he reached the coffee shop, Wade was already there, sulking in the back of the shop while nursing some sugary coffee drink. He was wearing large sunglasses and a baseball cap in an attempt to hide his scars.

Peter ordered his coffee before sitting across from Wade. Neither of them said anything for a while, choosing to drink their coffee in silence.

Finally, Wade spoke. “So those bruises weren’t from Fight Club?”

Peter couldn’t help but laugh, ducking his head. “No, they weren’t. Sorry to disappoint you.”

“You should be sorry,” Wade huffed. “I was all set on that idea. It was going to be so much fun.”

Peter chuckled, taking a drink of his coffee. He set his cup back down, peeking up at Wade. “So...are we okay?”

“Yeah, we’re good,” Wade assured him, taking a sip of his own drink. “It just took me by surprise, ‘s all. It’s not every day you find out you’re dating Spider-man.” Wade bit his bottom lip to keep in his excitement at that reminder. “Oh my god. Peter, I’m dating Spider-man. All of my dreams are coming true.”

Peter smiled at his boyfriend’s antics, unable to stop the pure relief that filled him. Wade wasn’t mad at him, or thinking about breaking up. That’s one thing he could stop worrying about.

“But I, ah, think that the Avengers know your name now. And probably your address.”

Peter’s good mood was ruined by that reminder. He cringed, running his hand through his hair. “It’s SHIELD,” he grumbled. “They probably know what I’ve had for breakfast for the past week.”

“It might not be that bad in the end,” Wade said cheerfully. “The Cap won’t let them do horrible experiments on you. And Iron Man seems to like you enough, so that’s two votes for your freedom. Don’t trust the scary assassin lady, though. I think she wouldn’t hesitate to let SHIELD turn you into a human guinea pig.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Peter said. “Not about the scary assassin lady, but that things’ll be alright. I was probably going to end with them at some point.”

“And it’s with me at your side,” Wade cooed, lacing his fingers under his chin and fluttering his eyelashes. “I’ll kick every single SHIELD agent’s ass that tries to touch you, baby boy.”

Under the humor was a current of seriousness. Wade would never let SHIELD hurt him--the mercenary cared about him, a feeling that might morph into love some day. Wade personally knew the horrors of being on the receiving end of human experimentation, and he adamantly refused to let Peter be exposed to it.

Peter’s hand slid across the table and took Wade’s, smiling warmly at him. Wade grinned back, lowering his sunglasses so he could look directly at Peter. The moment was ruined when the mercenary puckered his lips and made loud kissing sounds.

“There are some things we need to talk about, though,” Peter said, shifting in his seat. “Like, uh.” He dropped his voice again. “Your...job.”

Wade’s smile faded, and he stared down at his mug of coffee, spinning it in his hands. “I was wondering when you were going to bring that up,” he murmured. He took a sip of his drink before answering. “I was already getting more selective with my jobs before we started dating. Don’t like killing innocents. Assholes, genocidal maniacs--those I can handle. And then we started dating, and I got even more careful with picking my jobs--didn’t want a civilian getting hurt because a deal of mine went bad.”

He laughed. “Obviously that was a stupid thing to think,” he teased, “since you can obviously take care of yourself.”

“The sentiment was much appreciated,” Peter chuckled.

“I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do now,” Wade continued, still not looking at Peter. “Thinking about working for SHIELD for awhile. It wouldn’t be seemly for Spider-man to have a mercenary as a boyfriend, don’tcha think?”

“You don’t need to take a different job for me,” Peter protested. "It doesn't bother me too much, really--"

“Nah, it’s really okay. I’ve worked for them a ton before, and I think it’d loosen the knot in Fury’s panties a bit if he knew that I wasn’t running around unsupervised. Plus, we could be spy buddies when he inevitably blackmails you into joining SHIELD.”

Peter playfully kicked him under the table, shaking his head as he leaned over to kiss Wade.

“But oh my god. Petey.”

“What?”

I’m dating Spider-man.”