“Although I highly doubt this is real Dalbergia wood, it is a good imitation,” Harry Osborn observes, running a thin finger down the wooden rail behind him. Seated in front of him, arms crossed over his chest, thick glasses hanging heavy on his sharp nose, Peter Parker flashes a polite smile and promises to burn every single one of Mary Jane’s most prized cosmetic kits for pawning off her ex on Peter and calling it a blind date. Or, to use her words, offering a helping hand when all Peter wants to do right now is rest his cheek on the table and pass out for a few hours. “Do you know much about different woods?”
“Some,” Peter replies, crisply. “Dalbergia trees can be found in tropical regions like Africa and Central America, for example.”
“The price per board is approximately thirteen dollars, and that’s only for a foot,” Harry adds. “Father has our recreation and guest rooms outfitted with Dalbergia wood. Not the best wood, but father likes the contrast of colors.”
“Ah. A wood man, huh?”
“Father hates home décor,” Harry flatly states.
“Do…you like wood? Any kind of wood?” Peter asks, wincing a little at the wording. It’s an innocent question, but one that causes the man sitting behind Peter to choke on his drink.
Peter bites his lip despite himself.
Okay…it was a little funny.
“No,” Harry interrupts, no-nonsense. “I’ve told father repeatedly that we could be focusing our efforts on something other than furnishing choices but he refuses to see reason,” Harry sighs sharply, in that way that the privileged do when things do not go their way.
Peter keeps his eyes closed for a second too long. “Right. So. Not much of a wood man, then. Well, this is awkward.”
“Why is it awkward?” Harry asks, frowning. “We’re simply discussing wood.”
“Erm, I—that was a joke,” Peter clears his throat. “Nevermind. It wasn’t that funny anyway...”
“HA! Shit, I can’t fuckin’ take this, I have to step out…” someone strangles out from behind Peter. Peter can’t help but to shrink in his seat because this is seriously the worst blind date that Mary Jane could have come up with. Honestly, the fact that Mary Jane had come up with it in the first place should have alerted him that it was going to go south in some way. The fact that the person sitting in the booth behind Peter is having a grand laugh at this humiliating mockery of a date makes Peter think that he really shouldn’t leave the house anymore.
“Seems more like painted birch,” Harry decides after another moment, looking absolutely beside himself with boredom.
“Uh. Probably,” Peter mumbles, side-eyeing the chittering staff that’s been keeping an eye on them for the past hour now. Peter can’t believe he’s endured a whole hour of talking about wood (and not even the interesting kind) without suffering from cardiac arrest yet.
There's still time. Aaaany second now, Peter thinks with a groan.
“I’m better!” comes that same voice, cheery again. Peter's booth shakes when the man throws himself back into his seat. “Soo, what’d I miss gals? Anymore wood jokes? Oh, oh! Fill me in, I don't wanna' miss a single one!”
The waitresses don’t even dare look at Peter but he see’s them. Judging him. Or Harry. Probably Harry. Peter has at least made attempts; Harry is just playing a part, making MJ happy for now before trying to finagle himself back into her sheets. Again.
God, I know Chinese torture techniques less painful than this date.
Peter darts his eyes to the reflection of the obnoxiously loud, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, too-buff-to-be-human, motherhugger that’s returned from one of the outside spaces. The twinkly-eyed military meathead with the strongest biceps and an actual eight pack who has been sniggering and giggling at every single dumbass thing that’s been exchanged between Peter and Harry since they walked into the restaurant flashes him a charming grin when he catches his eye. And Peter does not pink at it. He doesn’t. No one can prove it.
Besides, that idiot has been laughing at them this entire time. Peter should be pissed. But, the thing is? Peter can’t even blame him because, if he had been in his position, he’d be dying himself. Like, seriously? This stuff doesn’t write itself. How the hell did Harry manage to snag MJ, anyway?
Out of the two them, MJ had standards. She had lists.
Peter would be ok with a guy who’d occasionally suck his dick while he binged Fallout: New Vegas.
But Harry and MJ had always gotten along together...when they weren’t in the midst of a fight or scandal.
Well, sometimes it’s almost like she’s got sawdust between her ears, Peter muses and promises to never voice that thought on pain of death. MJ could be air-headed, but she could also be as sharp as a tack when it suited her. This, obviously, did not suit her and she had been clearly just trying to get him out of the house.
Never again, Peter vows.
“Man,” the guy behind Peter begins, the sound of glasses chinking together catching Peter’s attention. Peter can’t exactly look behind him to see who the guy is with, but he’d been there since Peter and Harry had formally introduced themselves and subsequently tried to murder each other with sheer boredom and talks about wood. The only way Peter knows he’s looking at him is by the reflective glass beside them. “I don’t know about you, but if I were on a date with a sexy, doe-eyed, missionary-for-the-Lord looking twink and he started talkin’ to me about wood, I’d probably offer to take him on an exclusive tour of IKEA’s bedroom section right about now...”
“Wha—missionary?!” Peter sputters, furiously.
“That’s the word you get caught up on? You gotta’ see the bigger picture, handsome—the forest and not the trees, you could say.”
Peter clacks his teeth together, forcing a grin when Harry notices and looks at him weirdly.
Oh, hah, very funny. Like I haven’t heard that one before. I’ll show you missionary… Peter scowls, a dark grin pulling the corners of his mouth suddenly. He leans back in his seat firmly, feeling the man sitting in the booth behind him push back just as firmly.
He’s paying attention.
“I think it’s oak,” Peter says suddenly, eyes bright with mischief.
“What?” Harry frowns.
“The wood there," Pete says, pointing at a random panel on the ceiling. "It’s oak.”
“Don’t be absurd. It isn’t oak.”
“Ahh, I don’t know. It kinda’ seems like oak. It’s hard. And long. And, y’know,” Peter cups his hand and makes an obscene sanding motion that has the guy behind him barking out a loud laugh. “Oak-y. The way I like it.”
“I just want to let you know that I am Canadian,” the guy says. Peter bites his lip. Oh—oh, oh my god. He wasn’t. He wasn’t going to say it, no way, he can't know the name of— “Sequoioideae is my second name.”
Peter snorts back his beer and hacks out a laugh, smiling awkwardly at Harry when he eyes him with mild distaste. Harry looks behind Peter for a moment before shaking his head, saying:
“Oak-y? Is that even a word? I’ve never heard of that one before…”
“It’s not so much of a word so much as it is a suggestion,” Peter drawls and grins when he feels the hunky blonde guy choke on his beer, too. Good. Quid pro quo. “Anyway, pretty sure it’s oak.”
“Improbable. Not only do they differ in grain and look, but the feel of each wood is completely different! That cannot be oak,” Harry states, but he still squints at it like it could be.
“What? Oh, nah, don’t let touching it get to you! All wood feels the same when you really think about it,” Peter waves off, sinking back into his seat casually. He bumps back and the guy responds in kind. Peter beams. “Trust me: I’m an expert. I handle wood every morning. It’s all hard and mildly interesting in the end.”
Peter bites his lip.
“This is a softer type of hard!” Harry insists.
“A softer type of hard?” Peter repeats, biting down hard on his grin when Harry’s eyes narrow in suspicion. “That sounds like my entire collection of extremely long, hardcore—” he draws out, the guy behind him hanging on with barely baited breath, “—furniture. Very hard and expensive furniture passed down to me by my grandfather. All the wood is really smooth,” Peter tilts his head when he feels the guy shift behind him. “And hot, because it rests beside the fireplace so I have to be extra careful when I rub it down for any dust, or just for care. You gotta care for your furniture regularly,” and the guy, he takes a sharp breath, and Peter can’t believe it but he’s actually kind of turned on. “I like to use a special kind of polish, makes rubbing out any stains a little easier, y’know?”
Harry stares at him for a moment. “Well. I do hope you use appropriate tools for that. Paper towels will damage such woods after prolonged use.”
“…I’m definitely a rag man,” Peter says after a second of staring into Harry’s weirded out, but curious eyes. Was he for real? Did Harry not know that Peter was fucking with him? He thought he gave it away with the whole hardcore comment. He thought the whole commentary on rubbing wood was a dead give-away.
“What? No way, me too!” the guy behind him shouts, eagerly. “We have so much in common!”
“I swap out rags.”
“I have a Martha Stewart level collection of rags. Get on my level.”
“It’s very important to use a new one each time, you’re right,” Peter says to Harry, though he presses back against his seat thoughtfully. “Kind of wish I could use something else, though. It gets kind of old doing the same thing over and over,” he murmurs, not for Harry to hear. Harry hears, of course, and calls him odd for taking such a fascination with different woods and furnishings, but he recommends him all sorts of spiffy, expensive, polishes that he’s heard his father toss around while Peter pretends to listen, smiling that polite smile that MJ and Gwen always said hid the true nature of his personality: how much of a shithead he is.
What Harry doesn’t hear is the:
“Ditch the rich kid—meet me in the hallway in two minutes if you wanna’ know how the Canadian outback handles their wood.”
Peter hates it, but he can’t help the way the corners of his lips curl up in coy delight and his cock gives an interested twitch at the thought. Harry has moved on from polishes to wondering if their servers were ever going to bring them their bill because it was getting quite late. Peter takes longer than two minutes—four minutes and thirteen seconds, but those waitresses sure did process their checks speedily—but he’s able to pat Harry on the shoulder for a nice evening and excuse himself to the bathroom while Harry packs up his own coat, still vaguely frowning like he’s missing something.
Peter stuffs his arm through his jackets sleeve on his way to the bathroom and barely steps into the hallway when a large hand grips his bicep and pulls him further down the hall, already talking a mile a minute:
“I have no idea how you did it without imploding from the sheer ridiculousness of the situation, but I can’t believe you made that guy believe you’ve got some sort of fetish for foreign woods. I can’t believe you made me believe for a second that you were actually talking about wood!”
“I like to think I was just being honest in a round-about way,” Peter says as he picks up the pace and shoves the guy into the men’s room, pressing the door shut behind him with a deep breath.
“Ooh, I like me a handsy man!” The man giggles. He’s so huge but he’s ridiculous, Peter thinks with a silly smile. He should be terrified—this man is easily twice his size and his voice is a sharp, husky, stuttering sound—like he smokes too much, or has had damage done to his vocal chords. Given the jagged scar across the pale column of his throat, Peter bets on the latter.
“Shut it—is there anyone in here?”
“No, sire! No one’s here but me and thee,” he happily says, but peers down to check under the stalls. The bathroom is very small—three stalls and two urinals—so Peter had known it had been empty the instant they stepped in, but—it’s always good to check, right? “So? What’d’ya say, wood-boy? Interested in getting a peek at some premium and specially imported bark from the land of maple and leaves?”
Peter has never taken a guy on an offer like this before in any sense of the idea, but there’s something about this loud-mouthed, grinning, twinkle-eyed, idiot that has Peter’s heart rabbiting in his chest and heat curling low in his groin. “I mean, I am here, aren’t I?”
“Foreign woods tend to be the best, I can’t blame ya’ for not wanting to at least sample some,” he grins filthily and crowds Peter against the door, pushing his hands down Peter’s sides until they reach down to clutch his thighs, just shy of the swell of his ass. He has a nice grip—firm, strong, and solid where it matters. “Names Wade Wilson, but you can call me Woody if ya’ nasty!” At least he has some manners, Peter thinks briefly before he pushes himself up onto the tip-toes of his best Converse, bringing his arms up to grab the thick muscle of his neck and, immediately after, to wrap long legs around his rock-solid midsection.
“Never refer to yourself like that ever again.”
“Aw, c’mon! We had the wood theme going on, it was a good theme!”
“No, it wasn’t! I’m pretty sure Harry figured out I wasn’t talking to him, like, ten seconds into my wood rubbing comment,” Peter snorts, breath hitching when Wade hums as if he’s wondering about that and then grabs a handful of Peter’s ass, kneading his cheeks firmly. Unable to help himself, Peter lets out a stifled moan, and he’s glad he bit his tongue because the look Wade Wilson gives him at the sound has him rock hard in an instant. Redwood has nothing on Peter’s dick right about now. Maybe he should have spared Harry the embarrassing verbal foreplay and just politely headed him away so Peter could get to know this stranger a little better?
Or I can get to know him now, Peter thinks faintly. Wade is saying something—he seems to always be saying something—but Peter only catches snippets of it, his eyes tracing the faint scars that mar Wade’s skin. He made military jokes in his head about the guy when he heard him mention something about the Canadian Special Ops (to which his buddy, when he had been there, replied with the army for pussies), but, undoubtedly, he had gone through something terrible there. The scars seem to be everywhere, but Peter can trace where perhaps he had been caught in an explosion of some sort? The skin is shiny and thin, curving from his left cheek down his neck and beyond, hidden underneath his shirt.
“Huh?” Peter looks up at Wade, who’s still smiling but there’s something dimmer in his eyes because of Peter’s scrutinizing. Which—no, nope, nu-uh, he just doesn’t know that it’s in Peter’s DNA to scrutinize.
“The scars, they’re kinda’ gross? I didn’t have time to go to Sephora earlier this week to get the good stuff so I had to do what I could with that Maybelline shit they sell at Walgreens—!”
“I don’t mind your scars,” Peter says sincerely, confused about why he was bringing it up. “What are you talking about?”
“Ah—hah? But they’re kinda’—all over?”
Well, now that he pointed it out, they sort of were, but Peter just dismissed it again. “I wasn’t grossed out by your scars, idiot,” he snorts, adjusting his hold. Someone tries to open the door to the bathroom and Peter freezes but Wade’s completely unaffected. He slams the door hard and the person on the other side skitters away, spooked.
“Uh,” Peter swallows.
Wade cocks his head at him curiously and bores those beautiful pale blue eyes into his own hazel ones like they held the secrets to the universe. “Then why were ya’ lookin’ at me so hard, cutie?”
“I just… like to look at things,” Peter whispers, then adds louder, embarrassed that he’d actually lost himself in Wade’s stupid blue eyes. He’s always had a thing for blue eyes. “I do it to everything. Sorry. I know it makes people uncomfortable sometimes.”
“Well, that’s a deflection if I ever heard one,” Wade squints.
“What? No, it’s not! It’s just—I like observing things and you—happen to be here. For me to look at. Intently,” he adds, grimacing a little.
“Aww, he’s such a cute little weirdo—I want six of ‘em!” Wade coos.
“Hey—this weirdo is your introduction to American woodwork and, lemme’ tell ya’, they do it differently here than they do in Canada. For one, we use one hand and we forego the polish.”
Wade stares at him for a breathless moment and then bursts out laughing, clutching him tightly against his chest in a warm hug. Heat rushes to his cheeks but Peter can’t stifle his loud laughter either as he snorts into Wade’s neck and clutches him tighter against him—wanting to savor this, the warmth and unrestrained joy of just being with another person.
“You’re cute and funny, aren’t’cha, baby boy?” Wade murmurs, their noses nuzzling as Peter drops his gaze down to Wade’s cockily curved grin. He has a small scar on the corner of his mouth, skewing his grin to look a little goofy, but Peter thinks it’s endearing.
“Could say the same for you,” Peter husks out, sliding their mouths together and smiling into the kiss when Wade groans and hitches Peter up higher on his waist.
He has an idea that the phrase stroking wood will become a reality very, very soon if Wade keeps gently grinding into Peter, but he kind of hopes that they can talk about things other than wood. Or more wood, Peter doesn’t care suddenly, because wow is Wade a great kisser but also he’s holding him so tightly, like he’d up and push away if given the chance, and it only makes Peter hold onto him harder, kiss him harder, and groan louder even though every bit of Peter’s rational mind is rebelling against this idea of putting out on the first date but—but—
“Holy crap,” Wade breathes out when they part, breathing hard between each other. “Hey,” he rasps, throat clicking nervously. “I—I kind of want to do this right, y’know? Because I sort of really dig you—no pun intended—and kind of want to…see you again after we fuck? Not that you’re obligated to fuck me. I mean, it’d be great if you did, I’m all for it, tens all around, ram me hard, all that jazz, but I’ve also really wanted talk to you for …a long time?”
Peter’s smile is a grin by the time Wade finishes babbling and he can’t help himself when he leans forward and presses a chaste, soft, kiss on Wade’s parted lips—Wade, who chases after him when Peter pulls back, who forces himself to pause and look up at him so nervously, like he really believes Peter is going to say no to him. Like he really believes Peter isn’t as into him as he seems to be into Peter.
“Do you like arcades?” Peter asks, and laughs when Wade beams brightly at him and lets him slide down the wall and out of his arms, his hand reaching for Peter’s instantly. Peter laces their fingers and let’s Wade excitedly usher him out of the restroom, tugging him along down the hallway and into the main dining area, where Peter waves a little goofily at the waiters and waitresses who watch them leave with wide grins, shouting at them to come again later.
“I knew they were watching me,” Peter mentions as Wade and he wait at a light, still holding hands. The night is chilly so Wade pulls Peter’s hand into his coats pocket to keep it warm. It makes Peter’s heart thump in a way it hasn’t in a long time.
“Who? Domino and her crew? Oh, yeah, they’re nosy sons of bitches, they’re always buttin’ into my biz!”
“Wait, you know them?”
“What? Yeah. I’m a head chef there,” Wade says, then has the audacity to look only slightly guilty. “Oops, did I forget to mention that I’m a chef and I’ve totally watched you come in and out with your friends and have pretty much cooked you dinner for about a year now so this date is really just a domestic outing at this point?”
“WADE!” Peter screeches, cheeks red, trying valiantly to keep his grin to a minimum because seriously, is this his life now? This ridiculous man had been the chef he’d complimented every time he ate at that restaurant—the reason Peter and friends ate in at that pricey albeit decent restaurant for the past year now and he never knew?!
“I love it when you yell at me, baby! Really gets my saw revving!”
“Will you ever drop the wood jokes? I feel like I could go the rest of my life without looking at another piece of wood.”
“Ha! Not in this lifetime, honey!” Wade beams and Peter can’t even be mad when he leans down to peck him happily on his temple.
Well, maybe Wade Wilson will be able to keep MJ off his back…maybe even for good.