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With Friends Like These

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“--so there I was, right? Giving him a hand job, and he was feeding me chocolates. Like, out of one of those heart shaped Valentine’s Day boxes.” Wade said, his mouth full of chimichanga. It was a truly horrifying sight. Peter couldn’t look away.

He doesn’t actually remember a time when Wade wasn’t a part of his life. They’d been friends forever, despite Peter’s best efforts. No really, Peter had tried on numerous occasions to end his friendship with the other boy, but nothing he did seemed to stick. Wade always showed up again the next day as if nothing had happened. After so long, Peter’s learned to roll with the punches. Sometimes literally.

“It’s July, Wade,” Peter pointed out. They were sitting outside in the park closest to Peter’s house having lunch. Or in Wade’s case, breakfast. The night before had been very exciting. Together, they’d stopped a bank robbery on their way to a party. The party wasn’t half bad either. Wade went home with Bob, his long-time on-again off-again boy toy, and Peter went back to his parents’ house alone.

“So?”

“Well, why did Bob have Valentine’s Day chocolates just hanging around? That’s weird.” Of course, the whole situation was weird. Weird was Wade’s default setting.

“I brought them. I wanted him to feed them to me.”

“Wha-”

“I felt like a princess,” Wade said wistfully. Peter rolled his eyes. “Enough about how awesome my night was. How was yours, Spiderfreak?”

“Eh,” Peter said. “The usual. Dads waited up for me.”

“Dude, your dads have got to stop babying you! On a scale of one to Tiger Woods you should be at a John Meyer, but you’re stuck at Bill Cosby. Seriously. They’re a total buzz kill,” Wade exclaimed. “You’re a high school graduate! You should be out there exploring all the sex.”

“I don’t really-”

“Oh, that’s right, you’re Mister Wholesome. Love before sex, blah blah blah. Boring. But wouldn’t you like to know you could go out and bang anything with a pulse? If you wanted to?”

“Well. Yeah. I’ve been- well. I want to ask Gwen out.”

“Stacy? She’s smokin’.”

“I know,” Peter smiled. “She’s really smart and funny, too. But I’m afraid that it’ll be Mary Jane all over again.” When Peter was a freshman in high school, he had tried dating Mary Jane Watson, but his Dad was so over bearing he’d scared her off before they’d made it to the second date. He isn’t sure, but there may have been a background check involved. There was definitely a background check three years later when he tried again with Harry Osborn.

“I just had the best idea!” Wade shouted, startling a passing jogger. Peter nodded an apology. “I swear on Bea Arthur’s sweet ass, this is the greatest idea in the history of my great ideas. Or at least my great ideas not involving duct tape.”

Peter laughed. “Nothing involving duct tape has ever gone well, Wade.”

“Pshht. Silence, naysayer.” Wade threw his hand over Peter’s mouth. He smelled like beef and cheese-whiz.

“Mmmmph!” Peter clawed at his friend’s hand, but it wouldn’t move. Wade’s eyes were alight with a crackling manic energy that Peter had long since come to fear and, begrudgingly, admire.

***

Going along with Wade’s plan, when Peter got home he immediately went to find his fathers. It wasn’t hard, since they were rarely separated. That afternoon they were curled up on the couch together watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Pop smiled down at Dad, face shining like he’d won the lottery. Peter scrunched up his nose. They were so affectionate. It was gross.

“Dad, Pop,” Peter started, walking in front of the big screen. His parents looked up at him expectantly.

“What’s up, champ?” Dad asked, wiggling until he was sitting up right.

“I didn’t want to say anything last night, but. Um. There’s something I have to tell you.” Peter paused for dramatic effect, biting his lip.

“You can trust us, Pete. You know you can.” Pop smiled reassuringly. Peter almost felt bad about what he was doing. Almost.

“I’m dating Wade,” he said quickly, like he was ripping off a band aid. He had to work very hard to keep from gagging. The thought of actually dating Wade was nauseating. That man was disgusting, and Peter would rather walk over hot coals than touch him.

There was a tense silence, broken by Pop’s horrified intake of break.

“What?” Dad shot out of his seat. “You do know he’s- what’s the word? Psychotic?”

“He’s right,” Pop said, gesturing to Dad, who had begun pacing. Peter ducked his head.

“What the Hell was going through your head that you thought that this would be a good idea?” Dad asked, raking a hand through his hair. He was a mess.

“I don’t know, I was just. I mean. How do you explain love?” Peter smiled, biting back his gag reflex.

“Oh my God. Oh my God.” Dad rubbed his face tiredly. “You’re grounded.”

“Tony, you can’t ground him. He’s almost eighteen,” Pop said quietly. “Besides, we have to accept-” He stopped mid-sentence, unable to finish.

“Your Pop’s right. We’re happy for you,” Dad spat out, like it hurt.

“Thanks, guys. I’m really happy,” Peter said solemnly, but on the inside he was cheering. For once, one of Wade’s ridiculous plans was working. He smiled.

“So, how long have you been-?” Pop asked, pulling Dad back down into the couch. He grumbled, his arms crossed.

“Only a few days, but I feel like we’ve been working up to this point for years,” Peter lied, putting all the warmth he could muster into the response. He could see his parents’ obvious discomfort.

It was all going to be worth it. In the end.

**

“Dude, it totally worked!” Peter said when he saw Wade later that night. They were ‘on a date,’ as far as Peter’s parents were concerned, at a diner a few blocks from Avengers Tower. Peter had done as Wade instructed, and now all he had to do was wait. It wouldn’t take more than a few days for his dads to fully grasp how poor his judgment could have been and then he would put them out of their misery.

“You bet your sweet ass it did. I’m a fucking genius,” Wade said, smiling widely.

“Are you sure Bob’s okay with this?” Peter asked, picking at the fries on his plate.

Wade frowned. “Bob’s an idiot. Who cares?” He shoved a fist full of fries from Peter’s plate into his mouth, chewing loudly.

“Isn’t he your boyfriend or something?”

“What, Bob!? No way, Jose. I’m Bella and he’s Jacob, okay? I’m waiting for Edward to come home.”

“I’m going to pretend that made sense,” Peter said. He pulled his plate further away from his friend. Wade sighed dramatically.

“It’s like this, Webs-for-Brains, I’m Buttercup and I’m waiting for Wesley to show up again, so I thought I‘d shack up with Humperdink for a while.”

Peter shook his head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I’m only letting Bob butter my muffin until Nate gets back. I mean really, Peter. Keep up.”

“I am somehow not surprised or appalled by this behavior,” Peter said, taking a sip of his Coke. Out the corner of his eye he saw his Pop trying to sneak into the diner. He rolled his eyes.

“I have done much worse,” Wade agreed, smiling brightly. “No not that time, the other one. With the limes,” he said to himself. He would get like that sometimes, talking to other people in his own head. Peter would be worried, except the voices in his head never seemed to do any actual harm, and Wade was rather attached. “No, you shut up.”

“Dude, my Pop is here. Hold my hand or something,” Peter whispered, sliding his hand over the dingy table. Wade snapped back to reality, and grabbed his hand. It felt weird, holding Wade’s hand. It was bigger than his, warm and sticky. It was awful.

“Urg- why are you so sticky?” Peter hissed.

Wade shrugged. “Maple syrup.”

“Why- never mind. Just smile at me and pretend you think I’m the moon and the stars or something. Pop is still watching.”

***

After a week, Peter decided that his parents had suffered enough. He and Wade had hung out in his room for the last two nights making sex noises while playing Halo. At one point, Peter had tossed Wade off his bed, and Wade shouted, “five second rule!” before groaning lowly. The faces his Dad had made when they came out of Peter’s room were priceless.

“So, I have a confession to make,” Peter said at dinner. Dad and Pop looked up from their plates.

“Don’t tell me, Wade’s pregnant,” Dad deadpanned. Pop shot him a dirty look.

Peter grinned. “I’m not actually dating Wade.”

“What,” Dad set down his fork, “are you talking about, kid?”

“I’m not dating Wade. I never was.”

“Why would you lie about that?” Pop asked.

“No, wait! Why would you pretend to date Wade I-thought-it-would-be-a-good-idea-to-make-nachos-on-Captain-America’s-sheild Wilson?” Dad exclaimed, waving his hands around excitedly.

“I just wanted to show you that no one I ever date will be as bad as that,” Peter admitted. “I want you guys to stop treating my dates like your villains.”

“We don’t do that!” Pop declared, looking scandalized. Peter scoffed.

“What about Harry? Huh? Or Mary Jane?” Peter raised an eyebrow. “I am capable of choosing my own partners, guys.”

“We just don’t want you to get hurt,” Dad muttered, looking a little ashamed.

“You’ve gotta let me make my own mistakes, Dad.”

“We’ll try, Peter,” Pop said. “Just- just don’t date Wade. Please don’t date Wade.”

“But Pop,” Peter smirked, “he’s such a sweetheart.”

“Stop it! I can’t take it!” Dad shouted, clutching at his chest dramatically.

“There’s actually this girl, and I really like her. I want you guys to stay out of it. Please,” Peter begged. His parents exchanged looks before nodding.

“We can do that.”

“No background checks.”

“Okay.”

“Don’t send Natasha, or Clint, to spy on our dates.”

“Gotcha.”

“Please don’t scare her off.”

“Okay, okay! We get it, Pete!” Dad said, holding up in hands in surrender. “We are hands off on this one.”

“Good,” Peter smiled brightly. “Thanks guys.”

***

“So, how’d it go, Spiderdick?” Wade asked the next day. They were sitting together on a park bench outside of Nathan Summers’ house. He wasn’t there, hadn’t been for months, but sometimes Wade liked to check up on his neighborhood. They don’t talk about it, but Wade’s crazy in love with Nate, and Peter doesn’t think he’s ever coming back.

“I think it worked. They promised to stay out of things if I ask Gwen out.”

“What do you mean ‘if!’ When, Parker! When!” Wade yelled, flapping his hands around. Peter smiled. “You’ve got to be optimistic! You need to have a go get ’em attitude, bucko.”

“Yeah, okay. When I ask her out.”

“Atta boy!”

***

It took longer for Peter to work up the courage to ask Gwen out than he would care to admit. But when he did, he was delighted when she said yes.

“So, where are you going to school?” Gwen asked on a walk through the park after a comfortable, if quiet, dinner.

“I’m going to start at Empire State in a few months,” Peter replied, shoving his hands into his pockets. He looked sideways at Gwen. She was stunning, all blonde hair and long legs. She was wearing a blue dress that made she skin look luminescent in the street lamps.

“I go there!” She said, smiling. Like Peter hadn’t known that already. Like Peter didn’t already know everything about her Google and Facebook could provide. “Maybe I can show you around campus sometime.”

“That’d be great!” He didn’t need the tour. He and his dads had inspected the entire campus four times over the same night he got his acceptance letter, and his Uncle Bruce worked there as an adjunct professor. But he would love an excuse to see Gwen again.

“What are you thinking of majoring in?” Gwen asked.

“I’m thinking of double majoring in biology and chemistry,” Peter said. “What’s yours?”

“Bio. Maybe after next year we’ll have some classes together.”

“One can only hope.” Peter grinned, flashing her his most boyish smile. Gwen laughed, sending Peter’s heart soaring. It was an absolutely beautiful moment that only got better when Gwen slid her arm around Peter’s, holding on. He flushed.

“Do you want to take me back to your place for coffee?” Gwen asked sweetly. Peter stopped mid-step.

“Um,” he stuttered. He thought of his house, huge and homey. Then he thought of his parents. Yesterday, Dad crashed through the basement in his suit, and Pop was singing old songs at the top of his lungs. “Maybe we should go to yours?”

Gwen raised an eyebrow. “Towering pizza boxes or dirty laundry in the kitchen?”

“Neither,” Peter started walking again. “Embarrassing parents.”

“Oh really?” Gwen squeezed his arm. “Tell me more.”

“Where do I start?” Peter laughed. “My Dad is crazy. And a genius, but mostly insane. My Pop’s an artist.” Actually, his Dad was a billionaire and his Pop was over ninety years old, but somehow these details seem unbelievable.

“Oh, they’re gay?”

Sometimes, Peter forgot that made his family different than others. What with his distant adopted cousin being an eight legged horse, his gay dads seemed a little less weird by comparison.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Are you adopted?” Gwen asked. She looked up at him, genuinely interested.

“Ah, yeah. Yeah. When I was like, five,” Peter answered. Keep it simple, keep it simple, he thought to himself. Don’t mention the radioactive spider that bit you, or the powers that manifested when you were fourteen. Don’t mention the master assassins who sometimes live at your house. Do not mention that your Pop is over a hundred years old. “What about you! What’s your family like?” He asked, feeling pretty smooth in his transition. He couldn’t talk about his unconventional family if they were on a different subject, now could he.

They spent the rest of their walk in comfortable conversation and later, while drinking coffee at Gwen’s apartment, they made plans for a second date.

Peter went home that night feeling like a million bucks.

***

A month later found Peter in bed with Gwen for the first time.

It was a glorious experience that was, unfortunately, interrupted by Peter’s cell phone.

“Urg!” Peter grunted over the dulcet tones of AC/DC. It was coming from the pocket of his jeans lying on the floor at the end of Gwen’s bed.

“Ignore it,” Gwen ordered, wrapping her legs around his waist. Peter shook his head. AC/DC was his emergency ring tone. It was how the Avengers got a hold of him, so he’d know they meant business.

“I’ve got to- I’ve got to get it. Sorry.” Peter fumbled his way across the bed. He dove for his pants. Flipping open his phone he snapped, “What is it?!”

“Peter, your Dad’s in the hospital,” Natasha said, her voice tight and controlled. Peter sat back, running a hand through his hair.

“What is it?” Gwen stage whispered. Peter held up a hand, silencing her.

“Where is he?” He asked, quickly starting to throw on his clothes.

“I’ll text you the address.”

“I’ll see you in ten.” Peter hung up his phone, exhaling deeply. “I’ve got to go, Gwen.”

“What’s wrong?” She asked, hair falling over her shoulders. The blonde tips brushed the cup of her bra. He wanted her to go with him. He wanted her to be in his life as much or as little as she wanted to be. But now was not the time, no matter how much he wished it was.

Peter tied his shoes hurriedly, his phone buzzing by his side. “Um. It’s just-” He stuttered, checking his inbox.

“Is there anything I can do?” She sat up and started sliding on her clothes.

“No! No.” Peter rushed through the apartment and called over his shoulder. “I’ll call you!”

Outside on the street, he considered his options. Natasha hadn’t said how bad it was, but she used the emergency number. That alone spoke volumes. Inhaling, he aimed his wrist to the sky and shot out, attaching his web to a large building to his right. Swinging as fast as he could, Peter made it to the hospital in less than five minutes.

He landed on the roof, and snuck in through the top levels until he got to the floor Natasha had indicated in her text. He ran down the hall, passing all the rooms until he got the waiting room, as directed by his aunt. His entire extended family, minus Bruce who wasn’t one for high stress situations, was standing huddled together. They looked like hell.

“Peter!” Thor called out, his voice booming. “Come, join us.”

Peter walked briskly over, his heart beating fast. It felt like it was going to jump out of his ribcage. This happened to him every time. Every time someone in his strange, amazing family got hurt it was like a knife to the chest. He couldn’t breathe.

“What happened?” He asked. Thor dropped one of his huge hands on Peter’s shoulder and squeezed. He was in civilian clothing, a grey t-shirt and jeans. The rest of the team was casually dressed as well, not a costume or weapon in sight.

“They were getting dinner,” Clint said.

“He was attacked. Shot in the left shoulder,” Natasha interrupted, calm and collected. Her voice was distant and uninterested, but her eyes gave her away. She was scared.

“He is getting medical attention,” Thor continued, squeezing his shoulder again.

“In surgery,” Natasha translated, crossing her arms over her chest. “There was a lot of blood.” Clint put a hand in the small of her back briefly, before pulling his hand back to dangle at his side.

“Where’s Pop? Did he tell them-” Peter asked, breath coming in quick, uneven spurts. His father wasn’t like other men. His body worked differently, and if the doctors didn’t know- if they messed around with the arc reactor- he could die anyway. Even if they stopped the bleeding.

“Your father is in with the authorities. He is being questioned as a witness of the crime,” Thor said. “And because he fractured three of the attacker’s ribs.”

“That guy’s lucky I didn’t get to him first,” Clint muttered darkly, Natasha nodding at his side.

Peter sank down into an uncomfortable green plastic chair and exhaled.

***

Three hours later, Peter’s Dad was out of surgery, thankfully and blessedly alive. Pop was the only person allowed visitation, and, despite his protests, Peter was dragged back to his house by Thor.

“You can do no good here,” he had said, pushing Peter toward the exit.

Tired and numb, he grabbed a taxi with his aunt and uncles. It was cramped, what with Thor’s massive size and the cab’s tiny interior, but Peter didn’t mind the contact at all. He was glad for it. Natasha patted his knee awkwardly.

Wade was waiting for him on the side walk when they pulled up in front of his house. Peter groaned. “How-”

“I called him. Figured you could use the distraction,” Clint answered, paying the cabbie. Peter glared at him.

“Oh, Pete! Petey, Peter, Pete!” Wade called out, tripping over himself. He opened the cab door for them and waited until Peter was standing before smothering him in what might be described as a hug, but could’ve also be described as a violent mugging.

“Egh-!” Wade crushed all of the air from Peter’s lungs. “Get off!”

“Sorry, sorry,” Wade said, not sounding sorry at all. “It’s just- Birdbrain called and I got worried because you’re my only friend- no, he is my only friend. Cable doesn’t count, he’s gone. No, you shut up!” Peter rolled his eyes. Wade was talking to himself again.

“It’s okay, Wade. Come inside.” Peter put his hand on Wade’s shoulder, steering him towards the front door.

“Can we get drunk?” Wade asked. They walked through the entryway and into the kitchen. Thor was sitting at the island, drinking from a tall mug, and Clint was foraging through the refrigerator. Natasha was nowhere to be found.

“No.”

“Can we throw knives at each other until something sticks?”

“No!” Peter exclaimed, slapping the back of Wade’s head.

“I was just asking!” He ducked away, flailing his arms. “Jeez!”

Clint had been right, Peter had needed a distraction, and taking care of Wade took all of Peter’s energy. Especially since the six month anniversary of Nathan Summers’s abandonment was fast approaching. Wade was a wreck, even if he wouldn’t admit it. It had been an excellent idea. He was sure to thank his uncle for it later.

***

Peter was helping his father into the house. They were coming back from the hospital, and Dad was under strict orders from the doctor not to strain himself. Not that he was listening. He really shouldn’t have left. He wasn’t exactly ready, but Dad hated hospitals. So Peter came when he was called and helped his father home. Dad said he didn’t want Pop to know. Said he wanted his homecoming to be a surprise. Peter figured it was his funeral.

“Why is Wade Wilson in my house, kid?” Dad asked, standing frozen in the entry way. Peter looked up, confused. He’d sent his friend home hours ago, and yet, there was Wade lying on the island in the kitchen with his foot twitching in the air.

“I don’t- Who let you back in?” Peter demanded, moving around his father and into the kitchen.

“Clint,” Wade shrugged. He pointed to his right where Clint was cleaning his bow at the table. “Does anyone else hear Barbara Streisand, or is that just me?”

Ignoring Wade, Peter helped his father into the living room. Dad settled into his favorite couch with a tablet. He glared in the direction of the kitchen. “Get rid of him,” he said, grabbing Peter’s wrist. “I didn’t sneak out of the hospital to be annoyed by the existence of your fake ex-boyfriend, okay? I don’t care how you do it, Peter. Get. Rid. Of. Him. If you don’t, I will shoot him. Shoot. Him.”

“Sure, Dad,” Peter laughed, feeling more lighthearted than he had in days.

Wade was singing.

“Make him stop,” Clint ordered, pointing at Wade with an arrow.

“It takes two to make a thing go riiiight!” Peter winced. “It takes two to make it outta sight!”

“Come on, Wilson. Let’s go,” he said, hauling Wade off the island and onto his feet. Peter frog marched him to the door, ignoring his protests. “Out!” He threw open the door and tossed Wade out.

“This is how you treat your friends?” he shouted.

“Just for a little while, Wade. My Dad was shot, man. And he hates you,” Peter said, blocking the entryway with his body. “Why don’t you go visit Bob or something?”

“Ugh! Pete! Bob is so borrrrring! All we ever do is get high and-”

“I didn’t know Bob was into that kind of thing.”

“Well, I get high and Bob watches. I’m not going to share with him.” Wade scrunched up his nose and shook his head.

“Of course not,” Peter sighed. He was going to give up trying to make Wade see Bob as an actual person and not just a toy. He was clearly missing the part of the human brain that handled compassion. And intelligence.

“Peter!”

Hearing his name being called from down the sidewalk, Peter looked over. Gwen was standing behind Wade, her face carefully blank, arms crossed over her chest. “We need to talk.”

“Ohhhh, that sounds ominous.” Wade wiggled his fingers in Peter’s face.

“Go away, Wade,” he growled, closing his front door. He walked past his friend and stopped in front of Gwen, sticking his hands in his pockets. “Hey.”

Gwen’s eyes darted over to Wade, who was rubbing at his face with his grubby fingers and talking to himself. Her eyebrows furled. Shaking her head, she looked back at Peter.

“I saw you,” she whispered. “I saw you.”

Peter’s heart froze. “What?”

Meeting his eyes, Gwen leaned into his personal space. His skin felt hot and prickly. He wasn’t prepared for this. He wasn’t ready yet. He was going to tell her- he was! Just. Not yet. He didn’t know what to do.

“You’re Spiderman,” she said.

“Yes.”

“Okay. Okay,” Gwen smiled. “Good to know.”

“Wha-” Peter sputtered, his mouth gaping open. “You’re not-”

“What? I’m not what, Peter?” Gwen uncrossed her arms, still smiling. “Surprised? I am. Disappointed you never told me? A little, yeah.”

“I was going to tell you,” Peter said apologetically.

“It’s okay, Peter. I get it- I mean, I don’t get it, but I get why you hid it from me. Just, no more hiding, okay?” Gwen asked, reaching up and framing Peter’s face in her hands. “I really like you, Peter Parker.”

“Well, I really like you too, Gwen Stacy.” Peter smiled, putting his own hands on her slim waist. Their foreheads bumped, then finally, their lips.

There was a loud crash from inside the house.

“It wasn’t me!” Wade called out.

“Tony, you should be at the hospital!” Pop shouted. Peter could hear him from the sidewalk.

“Trouble in paradise,” Wade tutted, shaking his head. “For shame.”

“Do you,” Peter touched Gwen’s cheek, “wanna get out of here?”

“Oh, definitely,” she said, just as Pop started to holler in earnest.

***

Wade tagged along. They went to an arcade.

Gwen earned herself enough tickets to get a slinky, some bubblegum, and a plastic ring with a bright pink heart glued to the front. Between them, Peter and Wade earned enough tickets to buy a sticker shaped like Captain America’s shield. Wade stuck it to his forehead.

Gwen gave Peter her ring. She said she felt bad that he didn’t get anything. Then she laughed. Peter wore the ring for the rest of the night.

***

Peter waited until his Dad had fully healed before introducing his parents to Gwen.

They loved her. At first because she wasn’t Wade, and then later on her own merit.

“She’s a keeper,” Pop said after Peter had seen Gwen home.

“And a stone cold fox,” Dad added.

***

“I told you it would work,” Wade said with a smirk.

“Yeah, yeah. What do you want, a freaking medal?” Peter laughed. They were sitting in the park, a week before Peter was set to start school. It would be the last time they would be able to really hang out for a while. Peter would have his plate full with school, Gwen, and being Spiderman, and Wade was working more days than not. He’d started his own business, though he wouldn’t tell Peter what it was, exactly, that he did.

“No. I want you to convince your dad to help me find Cable.”

Peter blinked. “Really?”

“Yeah, dude. Really,” Wade said. “Might as well use that time he isn’t spending ruining your life to fix mine.”