He rolls over until he flips on top of Wade, their legs tangled beneath the sheets in Wade’s quiet, single room, their eyes glinting in the ambient light from the city through the windows. Peter brings his fingers up to trace over the side of Wade’s face, over hard ridges of scar tissue, and Wade turns his face away, presses the scars into the pillow.
“Don’t,” Peter whispers, his hand warm where it’s pressed between Wade’s face and the pillow. He doesn’t push, but he gently urges Wade to look back at him, their eyes meeting, pupils blown wide in the dark. His fingertips trace along the ridges, feather-light, and his eyes take in Wade’s features, the way his face is like a work of art. It tells a story, every single line and scar, and Peter wants to know. “How’d you get them?” He keeps his voice as quiet and unchallenging as possible, leaving it up to Wade how much he wants to say, if anything at all.
Wade pauses for a moment, searching Peter’s face for some kind of encouragement, and his voice cracks when he answers. “Fire.”
Peter doesn’t say anything, just keeps on sketching invisible patterns with his fingertips and waiting for Wade to do things at his own pace. “Mini-Wade, wee little thing,” Wade starts, his voice lilting and lyrical, but laced with a subtle edge of pain, too. “Trapped inside while the Big Bad Wolf blew all the fire in.” He licks his lips nervously, glancing away but keeping his face fully in view. Peter’s grateful. “Hot like rattlesnakes. In here.” He points a finger at his chest, and his next exhale is shaky and uncertain. Peter kisses him once, twice, until he’s calm.
“All dogs go to heaven,” he pushes on, still not looking at Peter, but not turning away, either. His face is what gives his words meaning. It’s something that Peter’s always understood, when other people hadn’t. It’s why he looks at Wade and sees who he really is, instead of just this scarred head case babbling at lamp shades. He’s more than that. He never says anything without meaning to it, and it’s deciphering the puzzle of his words that others get stuck at. Not Peter. Never Peter…not since the moment they met. “Mommies and daddies too. Brothers and sisters, little baby sisters, screaming while the pretty flames dance. Too hot to be so pretty. Too bright. Takes away all the happy. No more family,” his voice cracks.
“Shh,” Peter quiets him before the crying gets out of hand, brushing their cheeks together gently, letting the rasp of stubble offer cold comfort. He breathes in and everything smells like them, with the musky undertone of sex still lingering in the air. Wade draws in one shuddering breath and lets it out, hot against Peter’s ear.
“Flashy cars and shiny suits. So many buttons. Mini-Wade says he doesn’t remember,” he whispers this part, like it’s a secret, and he’s just a child on a playground, “but he does. He remembers everything,” he sounds frantic now, and Peter just holds him close and stops himself from telling Wade it’s alright, that he doesn’t need to finish, because it isn’t what Wade needs.
“But he doesn’t tell. Doesn’t tell because Daddy was angry that my head is funny, angry ‘cause Mommy loved me broken.”
“Shh,” Peter coos again, burying his face against Wade’s neck, feeling it through his entire being as Wade huffs dry breaths, almost like sobs but muted.
“So Daddy told the Devil and he came out to play and burned it all away. No more Daddy. No more Mommy. No more broken Wade, except I ran away. My fault. My fault.”
Peter presses closed lips against Wade’s mouth, stopping him before he gets even more worked up, scrambling to try to comfort him because he doesn’t want Wade to hurt anymore. He doesn’t want Wade to ever have to hurt again.
It takes a moment before Wade responds, but he does. Peter draws him back, back to the present, back to where Peter is, where they breathe the same air and share the same heat, and the kisses slow, slow until they’re just pressing their mouths together, trying to exist in the same exact space, as one being instead of two.
“Not your fault,” he whispers against Wade’s mouth. “Not your fault, Wade.”
Wade shakes his head in something like a no, but Peter just follows his lips, kissing him until Wade stops crying. Peter pulls back and kisses next to each of Wade’s eyes, kissing away the tears, trying to quell the shaking. Wade shakes his head again and whispers, “Bad brain. No good. Tumbleweeds. Broken,” he knocks against his head a couple of times, a sad smile twisting up his features, and Peter wants to hurt everyone that ever told Wade his mind was bad. Anyone who ever said the word ‘broken’ within his presence. “Broken things for broken Wade. No nice things. No pretty things.” Wade shuts his eyes tight, almost like he’s in pain, and Peter presses his lips together tightly and waits him out.
When he opens his eyes again, he looks straight at Peter, bringing one hand up to stroke through Peter’s hair. He swallows thickly and licks his lips before he says “Peter is a very pretty thing.”
Peter kisses him. It’s probably not the best thing, leading Wade to believe that kisses and sex can solve all the world’s problems, but it’s the only way he knows how to say all the things he’s feeling. How to say thank you and love you and please don’t hurt anymore all at the same time. It’s what works. “I’m not that pretty,” Peter responds, because he’s not. Not in the way that Wade means it, anyway. Because Wade doesn’t understand physical beauty. He doesn’t see what’s on the outside. He meets people, and he sees them on the inside, and that’s what ‘pretty’ means to him. It means pretty on the inside. Flawless minds.
He has so many dark spots. Scars. Nothing like Wade’s—all of his are invisible to the casual observer. But to someone like Wade? They must stretch miles wide, distort his image until he’s nothing but some sort of grotesque, macabre art piece. He’s lost so many people, killed so many times, kept so many secrets and lies… He told Wade, once. About where he comes from. The truth.
He’s technically not allowed to tell anyone about his origins. He has a cover story—something about an aunt and uncle that probably don’t exist. But he couldn’t tell Wade that. Wade would know he was lying, anyway. He always knew. Besides, everyone thought Wade was grade-A crazy, one step away from being locked up. Even if he were stupid enough to tell anyone what Peter told him—which he’s not, because Wade is one of the smartest people Peter knows—no one would believe him. They’d think it was just Wade being Wade again, and fixating his craziness on his new friend.
But Wade understands. He didn’t even blink when Peter told him about the alternate universe—his universe—and everything that went down after the siege. About his parents, his aunts and uncles, about running for their lives, holding the tower with everything they had, slowly migrating up and up without anywhere to go. He told Wade everything he could remember, and Wade just listened to him. Listened, and let Peter cry and grieve and yell, and held him close and said “We have a lot of lemons. Can we make lemonade now?” And Peter had just laughed, because that’s just so Wade, and it was exactly what Peter needed to hear.
Wade knows about his past, about all his scars and imperfections, and Peter is not pretty. He’s not pretty at all, and yet… Wade looks up at him, eyes wide little globes, lips soft when they press against Peter’s. “Pretty,” Wade declares with a note of finality, and Peter ducks his head because there’s no use arguing with that tone. He’d never get anywhere.
Peter meets Wade’s eyes, unmoving. Steady. Solid. Wade looks at Peter like he holds the keys to the whole damn universe. Like he has the potential to do everything, know everything, be everything. It knocks the breath right out of him, every time. Because Wade looks at Peter like he hung the moon, and sometimes, Wade gets so damn distracted by that fact that he fails to notice how Peter sees Wade. Because Wade lit the sun and gave the moon its light. He made the world bright again, when Peter had been stumbling around blindly in the dark for so long that he began to wonder if this world had a sun at all. It’s ridiculous, and sappy, and he’ll never speak a word of it for as long as he lives, but he thinks Wade can see it, sometimes. Because they understand each other in a way no one else really can. “Well, you have me anyway,” Peter says.
Wade smiles, and all Peter can see is the sun.