They were in another timeline. It happened occasionally. Who even knew how Wade got involved. He was just trying to show Darcy how many tacos he could fit in his mouth (six), and then blammo: Big flash of light, whirling space vortex, the indescribable sensation of the universe contracting with you inside it to the size of a single electron, and then everybody was spat out in a heap on the sidewalk of a place that looked like -- but probably wasn’t -- New York.
Fiendish laughter echoed all around them. Thor was shaking his giant fists at the sky going “Thy Childish Tricks Have Gone Too Far This Time, Brother!” and all of Wade’s tacos de sesos were lost to the interdimensional void.
“Nooo,” Wade whispered, heartbroken. “Tacos.”
“Who knows what carnage my misguided brother may wreak upon Midgard, now that it is left defenseless!” Thor was saying.
“Earth’s not exactly defenseless,” Pepper said. “He only got five of us. And only one actual superhero.” She was up already, brushing down her skirt, and still had her heels on. That might have surprised anybody else, but Wade knew she stuck them to her feet with mailing tape. She said it kept your shoes from sliding around, which wasn’t that relevant because Wade rarely had the problem of finding heels that were too big for him, but still: good tip!
“She's right, big guy,” Wade said consolingly. “If the planet needs protecting, defending, avenging, guardianing, shielding, I mean, my God, we don't even have to get into the cinematic heavy hitters. The Netflix casts alone! I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“It grieves me beyond words that Loki’s vengeance should have fallen upon you, Jane, and upon you, Darcy, and upon you, Pepper Potts, who are blameless,” Thor said gravely. “And I do not speak lightly when I say your loss could cause irreparable harm. For thy small planet to lose three such women – a mighty warrior for Science, a kind heart wedded to a mind in which many disciplines be knit harmoniously together, and a powerful strategist in the lists of Business – may be a grievous mischief.”
He glanced at Wade.
“And also Deadpool,” he said. Wade gave him the finger guns.
“Actually, Earth’s almost definitely safer without Wade there,” said Dr. Foster. She already had her laptop out and was sitting cross-legged on the curb, doing some who-knows with whatever fancy science. Or possibly math. “Let’s see if this place still adheres to the known laws of nature. Darcy, come check my equations.”
“Boo,” Darcy said. "Fine." She squatted next to Dr. Foster and started pointing out sciencey stuff.
Wade took the opportunity to look around. This one time they’d ended up in a universe where dogs could talk, which was amazing.
The dogs didn’t talk here, but the streets of Manhattan seemed pretty much the same. Loud, smelly, full of jerks.
“Hey, I’m walkin here!” Wade yelled when somebody banged him with her purse. “Fuggeddaboudit! Bada bing bada boom!” People pretended like they couldn’t hear him or see him, even though he was wearing a bright red suit and yelling. It was just like real New York.
Then he got lost.
“What the fuck,” Wade said. “I don’t get lost in New York. It’s not Boston.”
This was different from the New York he was used to, though.
It was just different. The streets were different, they had different names and went different directions, because of quantum uncertainty and particle entanglement. Just accept it. Wade was super fucking lost. And he was hungry.
“That makes no sense, but whatever,” Wade said. “Fine. I’ll just find a hot dog vendor and–”
He didn’t have his wallet. He never had his wallet.
“Oh, come on!” Wade said, disgusted. He really was hungry.
He wandered aimlessly past storefronts with ergonomic Swedish pacifiers and $1500 reclaimed driftwood wine racks. A guy was hurrying down the sidewalk with his shoulders up to his ears.
“Excuse me,” Wade said, sidling over to him. “Can I have some cash? You look like you probably say no to everybody who asks that, but keep in mind I’m heavily armed, so at least stand still while you say no.”
“Jesus,” the guy said, freezing, hands in the air. “I don’t – I don’t carry any cash.”
“Well, I don’t want your stupid trackable credit cards!” Wade snapped. Then a question occurred to him. “What’s this neighborhood?”
“What?” the guy said.
“Pay attention to what I’m saying,” Wade said loudly, booping the guy’s nose with his gun. “What do you call this neighborhood? I’m super lost.”
“It’s Nolita,” the guy stammered, looking wide-eyed from Wade’s gun to his mask.
“Lower east side?” Wade said. The guy nodded.
“Fucking cutesy developer names, am I right?” Wade said, rolling his eyes in commiseration. “Okay, move along. Treasure your life!” he yelled toward the guy’s retreating back. “Don’t take anything for granted! It can all end so quickly.”
He scrolled through his phone and dialed SPIDERBAE (peach emoji), hoping against hope that the phones were the same even though New York wasn’t.
“Peter Parker,” said the voice that picked up, very sexy and official-sounding.
Yes! “Hey there, my sweet cluster of oats,” Wade said huskily. “It’s me, Deadpool. What are you wearing?”
“Deadpool?” Peter repeated. “What –”
“Is it Spandex?” Wade asked dreamily. “Is it a little lab coat?”
“Wh – hang on,” Peter said. There was a shuffling, the sound of muttered voices, and then some more clunky phone sounds before he came back. “Okay, I’m here. Are you drunk?”
“No, but I just came here from a different dimension, Loki did something, who cares, blah blah vortex, and now I’m lost in your weird mirrorverse Nolita,” Wade said. “Can you come pick me up? I’m hungry and I don’t have any money. Help me, I’m lost and there’s scary rich hipsters here. This place I’m standing in front of sells quail oil. For facials. In jars!”
There was a weird pause. “Deadpool, are you sure – you sound –”
“I sound fucking hungry, my lean yet voluptuous spiderweb of erotic delights,” Wade yelled. “Come get me before I succumb to low blood sugar and die and then I come back to life and I'm still hungry.”
Another tiny hesitation, but Peter said, “Where are you?”
He glanced at the street signs. “Ledancey and…Scheale,” he said. Then his eyes narrowed. Goddammit. Anagrams.
“Okay, just….go down Scheale to my building. It’s 410. Wait for me on the – no, maybe you shouldn’t wait on the steps. Um, you can duck into the back garden if you want. I’ll be there in like – 15 minutes.”
“I miss you already,” Wade said. “Get here faster.” But Peter had hung up.
“Whaaaaaat,” Wade said when Peter showed up. “You look like Donald Glover! That’s awesome.”
“Dude,” Peter said, yanking open the building door. His quick look of perplexed contempt was exactly the same one he always gave Wade. “Who?”
“Doesn’t matter. Does everyone look different here?” Wade demanded. “Am I wandering around here somewhere looking like D.J. Cotrona? That would be amazing.”
“Shut up, God,” Peter said, glancing nervously around as he pushed ahead of Wade and up the stairs. He was wearing a hoodie and square-framed glasses and a little backpack over one shoulder and looked about nineteen. The rubber sole of his old Vans was coming a little loose from the canvas. He was super hot, obviously.
“I’m saying, me in this universe. Do you know me? Although actually, I guess, with the,” he gestured expansively, “you know, the whole Final Destination 3 tanning-bed situation I’ve got going on, skin-wise, I guess no one would know what I actually look like. Other than the meat from a 15-year-old Lunchable.”
“What is coming out of your mouth right now?” Peter said wearily. He got his key into his apartment door – same number as at home – shouldered it open and flicked on the lights.
“I’m asking, Wade Wilson, do you know him, what does he look like,” Wade said. “Although I guess that’s a weird thing to fixate on, right? I mean, first of all, who cares, and second of all, race is a social construct, and now that I think about it, it’s weird how many of the superheroes I know at home are white! So many of them! Like, no relationship to American demographics! Even our aliens are white! It’s fucked up!”
Peter’s face had gone weird. He’d frozen in the middle of putting down his bag, and it dangled from one strap in his hand.
“I know!” Wade said. “It’s a travesty! Who’s in charge?”
Peter just said, “Wade?” His voice was peculiar.
Phew. “So you know me?”
“Yeah, I know you,” Peter said slowly. He put the bag down very very carefully. Then he said, “You’re an asshole.”
“That’s definitely the same me,” Wade said, delighted.
Peter didn’t seem very pleased, though. His face was open and strange. It reminded Wade of something, he didn’t know what. Something in a movie. Maybe his own movie.
“You’re not excited?” Wade suggested, draping himself over Peter’s neatly-kept desk. “You don’t wanna give me a hug? A naked hug? You don’t wanna introduce me from my universe to me from this universe? You’re not interested in being the pile of creamy lentils between two delicious, slightly crispy kielbasas?” Worth a shot. Peter didn’t say anything. “Kielbasae? What’s the plural? I don’t speak Latin. Or Polish.”
“You uh,” Peter said. His voice wavered. “You – listen, sorry, this is really weird for me. You’re Wade Wilson?”
“In the suppurating flesh,” Wade said cheerily.
“You died,” Peter said. “Of like – nine different kinds of cancer.”
“Oh!” Well, that was neat. So they were like real friends from way far back. “No, no, no no. Let me explain. Yes, I did have so much cancer. But actually, this creepy bobblehead in a Baby Gap suit said he could cure it, so I ran away. Which admittedly was not my finest hour, so if you knew me, which it sounds like you did, super sorry about that. Anyway, turned out this was not the Mayo Clinic this guy was running, obviously, it was more like an underground Cuckoo’s Nest fucking human chop shop. Let me just tell you, there are Health Code violations you can't even imagine! And speaking of violations, this English Breakfast teabag named Francis, if you can believe it – he was so evil, but also hot? Kind of like a young Dr. McCoy – Hank, not Leonard, though maybe you don’t have Star Trek here, but my point is, cheekbones you could paper-cut your dick on – but so so so evil! A real chiseled pile of rotting sphincters, this guy Francis, a real horse’s hiney. – Anyway, he tortured me until I turned indestructible!, which is great, but also, all my skin fell off and now I look like the inside of a calzone. Which is not great. But at least I don’t have cancer anymore.”
Peter’s dark eyes were huge.
“Jeez,” he said after a second. “Wade. That’s – unbelievable.”
“Right?” Wade said.
“I hate that that happened to you,” Peter said softly.
“Me too!” Wade said.
“But the other you, the you from this universe,” Peter said. He glanced out the window. “You definitely didn’t run away, Wade. You – he died.” He swallows the word. “I uh. I was there.”
That took a second.
“….Oh,” Wade said.
“Yeah,” Peter said. His jaw was tight.
“Wait,” Wade said. “So when I said, ‘This is Deadpool–’”
“There’s a Deadpool here, too,” Peter said. Before Wade could ask, he said, “But he’s not Wade Wilson. His name’s Weasel. He’s Korean.”
“Whaaaat!” Wade said, clapping a hand to his cheek. “Korean Weasel is Deadpool! This place makes so much more sense!”
“He’s not you, and he – he doesn’t talk like you, as much as you, I mean. No one talks as much as you, Wade. Even on the phone I thought you sounded just like him. Like Wade. I mean,” he said, catching himself up on a quick breath, “of course you do, because you are him, but I thought I was being crazy. Or the phone was – I thought it couldn’t be. I kept telling myself, ‘no, it’s not Wade, it’s just Deadpool, he’s had some kind of accident or something.’ I didn't -- I still don’t understand how it can be you.”
“You’re rambling,” Wade told him kindly. “I told you, blah blah vortex.”
“Yeah, but,” Peter said. He didn’t look exactly like Wade’s Peter from home, but he was indisputably the same person. He held his eyebrows in the same worried tilt, had the same quick nervous hands, the same wide, warm eyes. The same juicy little clementine of an ass in his skinny jeans, also. He took his glasses off and took a deep, gulping breath.
“Hey, baby boy,” Wade said. He felt, like, actual concern. “Hey, you’re okay. Come here.”
Peter looked like he thought he should say no, but like he really really wanted to say yes. Wade shuffled cautiously closer and risked it. Peter was stiff in his arms, but his shoulders shuddered once and his hands came up to rest lightly on Wade’s shoulderblades. He breathed out a hard huff against the side of the mask.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” he said.
Wade thought about asking if he could grab his butt, but decided, with regret, that it wasn’t the moment.
“Can I have a string cheese?” he asked instead, very tenderly, into Peter’s hair.
Peter did him one better and made eggs. Wade sat at the kitchen table drinking one of Peter’s fancy microbrews and texting with Pepper. Where tf are you, she’d written.
found alt universe SPIDERMAN in NOLitA aka hell’s little artisanal frame shop. u guys?
We’re with Tony.
what does he look like is he white?
He saw the little “….” bubble pop up a couple of times, then vanish. Finally she wrote, Jane thinks she can reverse-engineer the vortex but it’ll take time
yaaaaaaaaaaa science!!!!!! do u need me for that
Ok well call when u do but dont fuck up this date for me. if nOL i TA’s a rockin dont come a knockin
You’re not on a date, Wade.
but aren’t i, Wade wrote, AREN’T I, and then as many eggplant emojis as possible.
He was still pasting them when Peter slid a plate in front of him. It smelled amazing. Wade told him so.
“You liked extra cheese,” Peter said. “My…The other you.”
“Every me loves every cheese,” Wade said, hoping it was true and there wasn’t some universe where he was lactose intolerant because that would be so sad and his life was sad enough already.
Peter didn’t eat. He just watched while Wade did, peeling the label off his beer bottle and then rolling it into tiny little pieces.
Wade had rolled the mask up over his nose so he could eat. He told himself he didn’t care what Peter thought about whatever skin he could see.
“Uh, listen,” he said finally, when he’d shoveled down the whole plate and Peter still hadn’t said anything. “I’m sorry I died. I mean, not sorry exactly, because it wasn’t my fault – I didn’t even smoke! – but just like ‘I’m sorry’ in the way that it sucks. Although actually, it’s kind of nice to have to apologize for dying. Where I come from, I gotta apologize to everybody for disappearing and abandoning them, which totally was my fault. So this is nice. For me. Not for you, obviously.”
“You did try to leave once, in the middle of the night,” Peter said distantly. “I webbed you to the wall.”
“In the middle of the–” Wade repeated.
“You woke me up,” Peter said. His eyes flickered briefly to Wade’s, then away.
For a second Wade didn’t get it. Then he did.
“Holy shit,” Wade said.
“Yeah,” Peter said.
“That’s fucked up! You are sadistic!”
Peter’s face went bloodless for a second. “What?”
“No, no, nonononono. Not you, not you, very much not you,” Wade said hastily. “You’re great, Petey. You are amazing and mega cute. You’re a brave, compassionate dandelion. It’s this motherf–” The word was a rude and inaccurate description of the person writing this story. “The artist who engineered this situation,” he said bitterly.
“Loki?” Peter said.
“Yeah, sure, Loki,” Wade said. He didn’t give the author the middle finger, because that would be childish and also Peter might take it the wrong way.
He remembered Vanessa’s face, when she’d looked over and seen him sitting by the window the night he went away. She’d known. She’d accepted his explanation, let him come back to bed, but Jesus, if she could have webbed him to the wall in that moment she’d have done it.
He started to wonder what it would have been like -- to have stayed, to have died, not to have been alone. Then he made himself not think about it. More importantly, if Vanessa could have webbed him to the wall they might have been having an even more mind-blowing sex life, which didn’t even seem possible, but still was worth contemplating.
“So we were –” He cleared his throat. “We were, you and Wade were, uh.” He gestured between them, then made a ring with his left thumb and forefinger and shoved his right index into it. Sex sex sex. “We were. Involved?”
“We were gonna get married,” Peter said. He was looking at his hands. “You gave me a Ring Pop. You’d had it in your pocket with no wrapper on and it was covered in lint.”
“I’m so good at romance all the time,” Wade said. “And you said yeah?”
After a second Peter nodded. His mouth pulled sideways, and he reached up like he wanted to cover it, but instead he dragged his knuckles along one eyebrow. He blinked out the window.
“That’s good,” Wade said.
“Yeah,” Peter said. “It was.”
Wade watched him for a second. Then he said, “So…what did I look like? Was I super hot?”
Peter’s eyes flew back to his. There was a suspicious shine in them, but he said, “You were a pain in the ass.”
“I just wanna know. I’m curious.”
“You looked like a Puerto Rican Ryan Reynolds,” Peter said.
“So, still with the little pocket mouth,” Wade said, disappointed. “But the body was banging, right?”
“I liked your mouth.”
“I bet you did, Tiger,” Wade said. He waggled his eyebrows. Peter’s mouth twisted up in response, but it wasn’t really a smile.
“How’d we meet?”
“In a bar,” Peter said. “It was like two weeks after my uncle died. You were the first person who made me laugh.”
“A bar?” Wade said suspiciously. “What were you, fourteen? Why were you allowed in a bar? Was I some kind of pervert?”
“I was eighteen.”
“You’re like eighteen now. Anyway that’s still underage.”
“I’m twenty-four now. It was a Canadian bar. Montreal. You wouldn’t even kiss me.”
“I wouldn’t kiss you?”
“You said I was a hot baby, but still a baby. I’m quoting.”
“I cannot believe your cute little jailbait ass came after me at some low-down dirty poutine joint and I said no,” Wade said, impressed. “I take back what I said about other me. He was a saint.”
“He was a good guy,” Peter said. “He had his soft spots.”
“But you weren’t interested in the soft spots,” Wade said slyly. “Were you, big fella.”
“I was interested in all of you,” Peter said.
Wade didn’t know what to say to that, so he said, “Oh.”
“We kept running into each other. We ended up going after a lot of the same people, bad guys, whatever. You saved me a couple times. I saved you. And eventually you said we could go on a date when I was twenty-one,” Peter said. “So we did. And then –” He shrugged.
“And then I captivated you with my gentle hands and incredible penis, and you were never the same again?” Wade suggested.
Peter smiled at his hands. “Basically,” he said.
“Wow,” Wade said. He exhaled and leaned back hard in his chair.
Peter said carefully, “I’m guessing, where you come from, we – we’re not, uh –”
“Oh, I am fully obsessed with you,” Wade assured him. “You won’t give me the time of day. But you do give me a boner in my heart.”
“I must be really dumb,” Peter said.
That brought him up short. “What?” he said blankly.
“If I won’t give you the time of day, I mean,” Peter said.
There was a little cartoon halo drawing itself around his head. Little cartoon angel wings were sprouting from his adorable little butt.
“No,” Wade said firmly. “No, you’re not. You’re probably the smartest person I know who’s not a lady scientist. I’m –” He ran out of words. It was almost like having to tell Vanessa again: it felt that necessary and impossible. Maybe it was the way the kid looked at him.
He took a deep breath and tried again. “I don’t know what I was like, here. Your me, your Wade Wilson, what kind of person he was. But the me that, uh, that I am, the me me, I don’t, um – I’m not exactly the best guy, I mean, just like. Morally. Spiritually. Verbally. Physically. Legally. In any possible way, except sexually. I am great at sex, but it's mostly because I’m compensating for a lot of things. I –”
Peter just waited.
“I told you what they did,” Wade said. He touched his own bare jaw, just for a second. The hard ridges of scar tissue there. “What I look like.”
“Well, dying of cancer isn’t a great look either,” Peter said. “And I still – I liked you then.”
Wade felt his heart expand. His soul was soft and aglow with the gentle heat of the –
“Fuck you! Come on!” Wade said. “My soul?”
Peter stiffened. “What?”
“Nothing, not you, not you,” Wade said hastily. “I’m sorry. I have a very loud internal dialogue.” He took a deep breath. “This is just confusing, because I’m driven fully to erotic bonkerstown by you, like I said, and usually you don’t like me very much. Also usually we don’t have, like, a tragic past that I have to negotiate. Usually I just try to come up with ways to touch your butt, but now it’s like, I still want to touch your butt, but also, I want you to be happy, because you’re sad here and I don’t like that you’re sad, and I want you to know that he loved you, because I love, you know, well, I don’t know if I love White Peter Parker, because I’ve never had the chance to really explore the relationship, and not that I love you, because we barely know each other, but I just, I think I could, you know, I just have this feeling that if – but I’m not him, you know, the guy you loved, even if I kind of am him, I also, I can’t live up to, like –”
“Hey Wade,” Peter said. He pushed his chair back and stood. “Um. Shut up.”
“Okay,” Wade said.
Peter came around the table. He said, “Can I kiss you?”
Wade opened his mouth. Then he closed it again. He nodded.
Peter looked at him deliberately for a second. Very carefully, he knelt in the chair: slid one knee to the outside of Wade’s thigh. Then the other. Straddled him like that, solid and warm in Wade’s lap, his arms sliding over Wade’s shoulders.
Wade’s breath caught. His hands went up automatically to grip Peter’s narrow hips. Peter looked down at him thoughtfully.
“Is this chair sturdy?” Wade asked. His voice came out very hoarse. “Is this a Norråker chair? Because if so, I’ve had this experience, and I think we should –”
Peter cupped the back of Wade’s head and bent to him. His lips brushed Wade’s first, soft and familiar, like a greeting. Then he kissed him for real. Wade groaned into it, bucked up against him. He grabbed Peter’s fantastic ass and pulled him in even closer.
“You’re finally touching my butt,” Peter said, and Wade could feel the curve of his smile. “What a time for you.”
“I’m so happy,” Wade said. He felt like he might cry.
“How is it?”
“It’s like two beautiful small kittens curled up to go to sleep next to each other, and God made these kittens out of that plushy foam stuff they make expensive airplane neck pillows out of, wrapped snugly around a firm core of premium Wagyu steak, and the foam-steak kittens love me and I love them,” Wade said fervently, or started to say, only Peter kissed him again somewhere around plushy foam stuff and he didn’t quite get it all out.
They made it to the bedroom and Peter undressed him in the dark. He touched Wade everywhere, all the strange smooth places, the jagged dips and bumps. He didn’t seem to mind, except once or twice when he touched what must have looked like a raw sore and glanced up worriedly.
“It’s okay,” Wade said. “They don’t hurt, they’re just gross.”
“Everybody’s gross,” Peter said simply. But he wasn’t. The smooth muscles of his shoulders caught curves of moonlight from the window. He glowed.
He was like Vanessa in ways that made Wade’s throat feel full: curious, eager, happy to be there. His dick was so, so nice, velvety and slender and blood-warm. When Wade nuzzled down from it and got his tongue on that ass the kid stuttered and kicked out, his hands fisting at the back of Wade’s skull, and said, “Wade,” on a soft, astonished breath that was going to do it for him forever.
Later, they were on the floor. Peter’s chest was heaving. Wade had a sweatshirt wadded under his head as a pillow and his jaw ached satisfyingly. He rolled over and watched Peter for a minute.
“So,” Wade said. “Can I just say? Wet dreams have wet dreams about that.”
“I can’t move my butt,” Peter said. “You exhausted my butt.” He was almost giggling. He glanced sideways at Wade, his big eyes all crinkled up and happy. He reached over and cupped Wade’s cheek, so easily that it felt like there was nothing wrong with his face at all.
“You’re a pain in the ass, but you’re kind of my favorite,” he said.
Wade felt like his heart was –
“Careful,” Wade said.
“What?” Peter said.
“Nothing,” Wade said. “Not you.”
Peter flicked him gently on the nose. “Okay.”
Wade felt like he’d been kicked in the groin, but in a good way, and the foot that had kicked him was attached to a fat little Cupid with little pink wings, and it was playing a little tune on its little harp thing, lyre, and the tune was “We Belong,” by Pat Benatar.
“That’s more like it,” Wade said.
Peter had a nice smile. It was extra nice when he was sleepy. “I know,” he murmured.
(Eventually they did fix the whole timeline thing, and Wade had to go home, but it was okay because they could still visit sometimes, don’t ask, it was Science, and then Peter found love with a spunky young scientist named Gwen who looked kind of like Gina Rodriguez and who did NOT die on a bridge, and it didn’t fix everything, because grief never gets “fixed” exactly, and love is the best but it doesn’t ward off all sadness, life’s complicated. But anyway, as much as anybody ever does, everybody lived happily ever after. Don’t worry about it.)