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The Boys Wear Red...

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    “Incy wincy spider climbed up the waterspout,” the Spider sang as he crawled up the wall, fingers sticking to the rough bricks easily. His muscles flexed and stretched as he scaled the apartment block, silently numbering off the floors as he passed windows.

    {In went grenades to wipe the bad guys out,} Yellow continued gleefully as Peter dropped several grenades into the target’s window.

    [You guys suck at singing, you know?] White sighed.

    Peter scuttled away from the window before it exploded. “I can sing brilliantly,” he defended himself as he covered his ears. Once the blast was over, he uncovered his ears and crawled towards the smoking window. “I can do everything brilliantly. You’re just jealous!”

    {Bitter, bitter, venom spitter!} giggled Yellow.

    The boxes fell silent when Peter slipped into the ruined apartment. He whistled quietly. “They really need to update the décor in here, don’t you think?”

    He wandered through the apartment, dancing back to avoid the flames that still lingered, burning furniture and bodies alike. The scents of singed flesh made him think of barbecues. Not that he'd ever had one, but wasn't that what barbecues were supposed to smell like?

    The tiny body of a child made him pause. “There weren’t supposed to be children here,” he muttered, glaring around the room critically. He’d paid well for the intel he’d requested – he expected the quality of reports to reflect his investment.

    {I think we got him,} Yellow announced loudly, interrupting Peter's thoughts.

    [We need photo evidence,] White reminded them. [Let’s hope he’s recognizable.]

    “Or what? They’ll off us?” Peter snorted, stepping further into the apartment. “Please. They’d have to catch us first.”

    Yellow snickered. {Good luck!}

    [They wouldn’t pay us,] White pointed out.

    Peter froze. “Money is very important to us,” he replied in a business voice. He dropped the tone almost immediately. “Let’s find ourselves a recognizable body!”

    Five minutes later, Peter had to admit it wasn’t looking good. None of the bodies in the apartment – and there had been more than he expected, almost ten lumps of cooking flesh – were recognizable, and even the boxes could agree that none of the burned and exploded bodies looked anything like the target.

    White was the one who finally admitted it aloud. [He was never here.]

    “Someone’s given us bad information, boys,” Peter said, climbing back out the window. Someone had called the cops, because he could hear the sirens already. “Let’s go hunting!”

  



 

      The Spider arrived at an abandoned warehouse some time later, bickering with the boxes in his head. The tingle of his spider senses had him dodging the first bullet aimed at his knee – {That would have hurt!} – and the katana that sliced towards his arm – [How rude.]

    Peter jumped into the air, sticking to the ceiling even as he looked down and saw the familiar red and black suit. He felt a grin spread across his face that he doubted the red and black figure would be able to discern.

    {Hey it’s the Merc with the Mouth!}

    [Not this universe, idiot.]

    “Shut up you two. Hey Pooly!” Peter called cheerfully, creating a nice bit of web from which to hang. “Any reason you decided to show up and be all friendly?”

    [Since when is shooting and slicing ‘friendly’?]

    “Since it’s Deadpool, and he doesn’t aim to kill.” Peter dropped a little closer to the hero, giving him a little wave.

    “Spider,” the red and black suited man grumbled, sounding more annoyed than Peter thought he had any right to be. After all, he hadn't done anything wrong. “You blew up an apartment.”

    Oh. Right. That. “I did. Turns out, someone gave me bad information. Naughty, naughty children.” He shook his head in a disappointed fashion. Then he grinned. “I was on my way to tell them off, actually. But I’ll make time for you.”

    [They won’t get very far anyway.]

    {Even if they do, we’ll catch ‘em. Right, Spidey?}

    “Right,” Peter giggled. He looked down at Deadpool, realizing he’d been speaking. “My bad! What were you saying, big man? Boxes were distracting me.”

    “I said,” Deadpool said after a slight pause, “that you killed ten innocent people.”

    Peter began to swing back and forth on his web. “I did?” He shrugged, acting as though that piece of information was new to him. “Like I said, bad intel. Not much I can do about that.”

    “Damnit, kid! You can’t just go around doing whatever you want! Those people had families.”

    Peter froze, staring down at the hero. The boxes were utterly silent. “Everyone has a family, Deadpool,” Peter hissed. “Some people just have them for longer.” He abruptly laughed, dropping to the floor. “Oh man, you’re lucky we like you,” he said, striding up to Deadpool, who barely flinched. Granted, the hero had height and muscle on Peter, but he was the Spider! Deadpool should be a little bit scared. “Otherwise, you’d be dead.”

    Peter's relationship with Deadpool was... Complicated. He'd bumped into the fast-talking hero two months after The Incident. (And yes, it did need capitals.) Peter had been sitting on a roof, sucking a lollipop and staring out over the city he'd claimed as his own when the red and black figure had appeared in midair.

    Peter had only blinked as the figure had let out a girlish scream before plummeting towards the pavement. It had nothing to do with him, anyway. So what if someone fell from the sky to their untimely death? It was just some idiot hero who’d copied his outfit. Which, when Peter thought about it, really annoyed him. He’d spent ages agonizing over the colours of his outfit, eventually settling on red and blue because black and red seemed too bold. Plus, with his white eye spots, he was basically the arachnid version of the American flag.

    But the red and black suited figure Peter assumed had died somehow climbed up the building and approached Peter without him noticing. The man had then introduced himself as Deadpool, and Peter had almost fallen from the roof. Because people didn't talk to him, unless they were screaming at him to stop hurting them, or begging him for mercy. Not after The Incident.

    [Not that that would keep him down for long.]

    {But we could make pretty pictures for him!}

    It took Peter a moment to remember what they'd been talking about. “Mmm, red spiders everywhere,” Peter murmured, hands reaching out for Deadpool’s chest. He leapt back as Deadpool swung his katana, aiming for Peter’s hands this time. Peter laughed, realizing two throwing knives were in his hands. He slid them back into their respective holders with a smooth movement. "Down, boy!"

    “I have to take you in,” Deadpool said, sounding strangely apologetic. “Stark's threatened to hide the pancake mix again. And this time, he said I can’t have it back until you’re in custody.” He began to approach Peter slowly, no doubt watching for any movement that could be perceived as an attack. "You have to come back with me, Spider. For the sake of pancakes."

    “But do I really?” Peter asked, skittering back into the shadows on all fours. “Because you know, you have to catch me first…”

    Peter silently crawled up the wall, keeping his eyes on Deadpool. The hero swore and stalked forward, aiming for the shadows Peter had disappeared into. Peter smirked and slowly dropped down behind him. Peter landed silently on the ground behind the black and red clad hero, giving him the perfect opportunity to stare at those calves and thighs and that booty. Yes, Deadpool had a lovely booty.

    “Spider? Come out!”

    “Boo!” Peter yelled, making the man jump… Straight into a pre-prepared web. The warehouse was actually full of carefully hidden traps. Peter scuttled forward, webbing the hero up tightly. He stepped back to admire his handiwork, webbing up the fast-talking hero's mouth with a few more flicks of his wrist. Better safe than sorry - he didn't want Deadpool to bite his way out or something equally ridiculous. It was time to remind the hero he needed help, especially when he was dealing with Peter.

    {He looks edible.}

    [We don’t eat people. Often.]

    {Not the kind of edible I was talking about.}

    “I think you’ll find,” Peter said, ignoring the boxes, “that those innocents were involved in some rather unsavoury business.” He smirked. “Murder is still considered unsavoury, right?”

    [The Avengers will be here soon.]

    “How do you know?” Peter snapped.

    [They all have trackers nowadays.]

    {It would be easy if everyone had trackers!}

    “Boooring!” Peter sang, reaching over to the struggling hero. “Calm down, big man. Just looking for that tracker of yours. Knowing you, you’ll have forgotten allll about it.” Peter nudged some of his webs out of the way. “Ah, here it is!”

    [Why do you do these things?]

    Peter turned the tracker on. “Don’t want to leave you here all by your lonesome.” He patted the hero’s masked cheek, annoyed when the craving for skin on skin contact reared its needy head. “Until next time, Pooly!”

 



 

    Peter was feeling much better hours later. The idiot who’d given him the wrong intel – the very last mistake he ever made – was currently dying a slow and painful death due to a lovely new toxin Peter had synthesized last week. He had the correct intel now – heaven help the man if he’d given Peter the wrong information again, because that lovely toxin kept him alive for a maximum of six days before killing him.

    The Spider whistled as he swung through New York, ignoring the pedestrians below who either gawked or screamed at the sight of him. Vigilante turned mercenary. Not exactly the most popular story, granted, but it was Peter’s and he liked it that way.

    {Don’t lie!}

    [Everyone knows that’s not true.]

    Peter scowled. “Shut up,” he snapped half-heartedly. Sure, the boxes were annoying as hell, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have a point.

    Things had gone south with the death of his Uncle Ben. There was a very good reason that Peter never touched guns if he could help it. Except if he was smashing them to smithereens. He had always, always blamed himself for that, even before the boxes arrived and began to make him question everything. And then Aunt May had followed, her heart not being able to cope with the loss and Peter isolating himself.

    The blood of four people he’d loved was on his hands, and there was nothing he could do to wash them clean. So he covered up their blood with the blood of villains, aiming to overlay enough that he forgot the pain.

    It wasn’t working as well as he’d hoped.

    Now Uncle Ben and Aunt May had been bad enough, but what had really made him snap – what had managed to bring the boxes into his head – were the deaths of two of his best friends. Gwen Stacey had been a beautiful woman, intelligent and funny. Harry Osborn had been rich and spiteful, with a temper to match, but so much nicer underneath his self-made armour.

    As it turned out, Peter hadn’t known Harry as well as he’d thought. Or he'd deluded himself into thinking Harry was better than he was. Peter wasn't exactly sure at the moment, but he was sure the real answer would come to him. Eventually.

    Harry had been the Green Goblin, a vicious killer who hungered for the death of Spiderman. He’d let Gwen fall to her death, although he’d hardly lived long enough to appreciate Peter’s pain. Peter had torn open his suit and killed him. The moment Harry’s heart had stopped beating, the boxes had arrived.

    [Way to kill the mood, Spidey,] White sighed.

    {And now you’re a merc, killing for thrills!}

    Peter snorted. “Now I’m a merc because it pays the damn bills,” he snapped.

    {Don’t lie! You enjoy it!}

    [You like watching them burn. You like watching them suffer.]

    Peter gritted his teeth, pressing his fist to his eyes. “Shut up,” he growled. It made him ache when he remembered who he had been, what he could have been if things hadn’t gone wrong and his world hadn’t turned into hell.

    [You enjoy thinking up new ways to kill them, don’t you? Like those projects you have at the moment.]

    {All that blood on your hands!}

    [You stepped over a child’s body today. A body that you put there. You can pretend all you like, but you know that kid was innocent.]

    “Evil breeds evil,” Peter replied through gritted teeth.

    White snorted. [Look at you, clutching at straws.]

    {When you think about it, aren’t you even worse than the guy who killed your Uncle Ben?}

    “Shut up!” Peter shouted, landing against a wall. “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”

    [It’s never just about the money.]

    “They’re all bad people!” Peter yelled desperately, wishing he could slam his head against a wall and just get back up. Like Deadpool.

    {Yeah, try and justify it. We all know you’re grasping at straws.}

    [That’s why you like that hero, isn’t it?]

    “Don’t you bring him into this,” Peter snarled. “He has nothing to do with this conversation.”

    [Deadpool can’t die. Well, he can, but he comes back. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about killing him. It’s safe for you to like him.]

    {That’s why you scared Mary-Jane away, right? Because she’s oh so fragile.}

    Peter whimpered wordlessly, clutching at his head. They were right, they were so right. Of course they were right. Peter pressed his head against the cold wall, rocking his body back and forth.

    [You’re fucked up,] White said bluntly. Peter laughed bitterly. Of course he was fucked up. That part came with the job.

    {You’re so bloody. Why don’t you just go jump off a cliff?}

    “When it gets worse,” Peter muttered. “They’d want me to live.” Aunt May and Uncle Ben and Gwen would be unhappy that he’d killed himself.

    [Not like this. You know they wouldn’t want you to live like this.]

    {Maybe Harry would.}

    Peter made a noise that was somewhere between a sob and a scream before letting go of the wall and falling.

 



  

     When Peter woke up, he was surprised. He hadn’t really expected to wake up. The whole ‘falling to his death’ plan had the end result of one dead mercenary and two dead boxes. Peter realized he was alone in his head - a very rare, almost unheard of occurrence. He took in his surroundings in the blissful moment of silence before the boxes reappeared.

    [Where are we?]

    {This place stinks.}

    Yellow was right – whoever lived here rarely cleaned. If ever. Peter sat up, hearing noises from behind the closed door. He was on a bed – a rather clean bed, really, considering the surroundings – in a strange room. There were bloodstains on the walls, and mold creeping up from the dark corners of the room. The floor was littered with take-out containers. And somebody was home – the sound of someone humming, the smell of cooking food.

    {Who do we know that would pick us up from the street – potentially with serious wounds – and take us home?}

    [… No one?]

    “I can think of one or two people,” Peter muttered grimly. “Although neither of them are comforting.”

    The sound of footsteps had him on the ceiling before he’d consciously decided to jump. He crawled to wait over the door, intent on getting his ‘saviour’ before he got Peter. As far as he was concerned, and as far as past experience had taught him, nothing good ever came out of people ‘rescuing’ him. He clung to the ceiling, silent. The door creaked open.

    “Spider?” Deadpool said as he stepped into the room.

    Peter blinked, completely thrown. “Not who I was expecting,” he said, surprise evident in his voice. He dropped from the ceiling, landing with a soundless grace only possible because of the spider venom coiled in his veins. “Hey Pooly.”

    Seeing Deadpool’s unmasked face – complete with the ever shifting scars and sores, and those beautiful baby blues – Peter abruptly realized he himself was unmasked. His face twisted into a snarl as the boxes began to riot.

    {He unmasked us! We have to kill him!}

    [Even we would have asked before taking someone’s mask off.]

    {No we wouldn’t.}

    [Shut up.]

    “Where is my mask?” Peter hissed. If Deadpool had taken even one photo…

    [Why would he take a photo of you?]

    Deadpool gestured to the bedside table even as he retreated out of the room. “I had to take it off – you weren’t breathing.” Which, logically, Peter knew. But still. Secret identity.

    {Hold up! Does that mean he gave us CPR? Lip on lip? Swoon.}

    [Why the hell did he save us?]

    “I tried to catch you before you hit the ground,” Deadpool continued, hands reaching for weapons that weren’t there. “I was just a little too late, but I thought hey, the Spider heals! So I brought you back here with me so you could recover and can I just say holy shit how old are you?” The hero's expression would have been hilarious, in any other situation.

    Peter ignored the question. “How long have I been here?” he demanded.

    Deadpool tilted his head, presumably thinking. “Four or five days, I think. You’ve been out of it the entire time.”

    Peter glared at the hero. “What do you want?” His tone was hostile, and Deadpool took another step back, a scowl covering his face. His eyes darkened.

    Peter thought the whole transition from ‘Mr Nice Guy’ to ‘I Could Kick Your Ass With About as Much Effort as Lifting My Little Finger’ was incredibly interesting. Also very, very hot.

    “I’m sorry, what? I saved your life, kid. Least you could do is thank me.”

    [Give us a good reason and we might.]

    {But he’d look so pretty covered in blood.}

    “Exactly. You saved me. What do you want, Deadpool? Money?”

    “Hell no!” Deadpool spluttered, looking genuinely offended. “I’m a hero – it’s what I do!” His declaration echoed around the filthy room.

    [That’s a decent reason, I suppose,] White admitted grudgingly.

    {But we’re the bad guys in the situation. Isn’t he supposed to, I don’t know, leave us to die?}

    “Technically, we were already dead,” Peter muttered. “But yes, I agree.” He refocused on Deadpool, noting that the hero was staring at his forehead as though he was trying to see into Peter’s mind. “I am not a good person,” Peter said. “Why did you save me?”

    Deadpool looked a little lost. “It’s what I do,” he repeated. “I save people. That’s what being a hero is.”

    [I suppose that’s where you and he differ.]

    {Yeah. You kill bad guys to save the good guys, right? He saves bad guys to save bad guys. What a wacko.}

    “What a wacko indeed,” Peter muttered, blinking at Deadpool. He remembered a time when he had been as adamant about being the good guy as Deadpool was. He sighed, defeated. “Seventeen.”

    “What?”

    “I’m seventeen. Almost eighteen.”

    Deadpool was silent for a moment, obviously processing this. His face smoothed out into blankness for several moments, and Peter wondered idly if it was possible for Deadpool to die from a heart attack. “Holy shit, you’re jailbait!”

    That was unexpected. Peter felt his cheeks heat. “I am not!”

    “Oh man, the Spider is seven-fucking-teen! You’re a fucking kid! What the hell are you doing as a merc? Shit!” Deadpool ran a hand over his bald head, looking inexplicably guilty.

    “Calm down, big man, I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Peter snarled. “And I’m almost eighteen!”

    [Oh boy…]

    {Isn’t this fun?!}