“At least Mr. Stark pays a living wage. You can’t beat that in New York!” Mike, his co-worker, points out, jotting down some final details on the summary report on his clipboard. He stands on the other side of the lab counter while Peter drums his fingers on the surface in front of him. “Y’know, I interned at Oscorp when I was a sophomore in college, and lemme’ tell ya’, worst experience of my entire life! They didn’t follow safety procedures—like, can you imagine? One of the guys spilled some formaldehyde and an unknown chemical compound all over their arm and he just washed it off in the sink like it was nothing! He didn’t report it—he didn’t follow the emergency procedure! We all saw it!”
“Well, did you try to do anything about it?” Peter asks, pushing his horn-rimmed glasses up his nose. His lab coat dwarfs him, the sleeves rolled up to his cuff; he had forgotten his own so he borrowed one of his supervisor’s spares. Unfortunately, his supervisor is a big guy and Peter, for all his five foot nine and lean muscle, barely manages to fill the coat. It makes him seem skinny and small, but Peter would rather have it on than nothing at all. Walking around the lab without a coat on is more of Mr. Stark’s shtick; Peter always feels more secure underneath something.
Peter blames it on the four years of hell Flash put him through in high school.
“Uh, well, no. But—!”
Whatever his co-worker is about to say dies in his throat, eyes bulging and jaw dropping as he stares ahead. Peter blinks, and looks over his shoulder, breath hitching at the sight of Deadpool plastered against the glass wall that divides their lab from their work station by none other than Iron Man himself.
“W—Deadpool?” Peter frowns, wincing when Iron Man drags him across the glass. Having web-slung his way into a couple windows in his youth (and also last week), Peter is very aware of how painful sliding down a windowpane can be.
Deadpool muffles something that sounds vaguely like motherhugger.
“Is this really happening? Is that really Deadpool—l-like, Deadpool, the real Deadpool—being punched by Iron Man?”
“I think so, Mike. Honestly, it’s not the weirdest thing I’ve seen this week,” Peter quips. "Or this year." Not that Peter can blame him; sometimes, when dealing with Deadpool, one had to wear a super suit. Peter straightens up when Mr. Stark grabs Deadpool by the strap of his katana holster and storms down the hallway, the ex-merc flailing and shouting furiously the entire time. He can’t clearly hear what they’re arguing about, but he hopes it isn’t anything too violent; Mr. Stark has been very stressed with the whole Inhuman ordeal. Not to mention that more and more X-Men had been visiting Stark Tower lately. Since Peter works in the R&D department in the basement, his lab space faces the main hallway, so he usually knows who goes in and out of Mr. Stark’s tech cave since it’s right along the way.
“Oh, man, this is too good! C’mon!” Mike urges, grabbing his arm. “Let’s go check it out!”
“Uh, actually, maybe we shouldn’t, Mike. Mr. Stark wouldn’t want us snooping around,” Peter immediately says, sticking his feet on the floor as Mike tugs him harder.
“Peter! Live a little!”
“I like how I’m living now, thanks.”
“Live some more, c’mon! We’ll just take a peek! Don’t be boring now of all times!” Mike flashes a coaxing grin, and Peter reluctantly unsticks himself from the floor.
“I guess it can’t hurt too much. I’m kinda’ curious, too,” Peter mumbles. Mike lets out a victorious whoop. “But Mr. Stark would be so pissed if he knew we were eavesdropping. You saw how mad he got when he thought we’d been standing outside his door during a meeting he had!”
“Pete, that was, like, a year ago! He didn’t know us then! He thought we were just tryin’ get an upper-hand on him or something! We’d never do anythin’ like that; he knows us better now!” Mike reasons, but Peter still moves reluctantly, slowing down even more the closer they draw closer to the looming steel door down the hall. It’s even cracked open, as if beckoning them to press their ears against it and listen in.
It all would have probably been fine if Mike wasn’t so totally wrong.
Mr. Stark didn’t know Peter Parker. He still doesn’t.
Don’t get him wrong, Mr. Stark knew Peter was hard-working, creative, quiet, but pleasant once he grew comfortable with someone, and extremely nerdy. Mr. Stark’s favorite past-time seemed to be poking fun at Peter’s obsessions with pocket-protectors and unnecessarily complicated calculators. It was fun, yes; Peter enjoyed their good-natured ribbing and pun competitions. But he didn’t know what was possibly the core of Peter Parker.
Peter Parker was Spider-Man; New York City’s watchful protector, its most iconic superhero alongside Captain America, and someone whose identity is so tightly guarded that Mr. Stark has no idea that he has employed the infamous, the amazing, and the friendliest neighborhood Spider-Man.
Now, the money-shot: how can be Peter be sure that Mr. Stark doesn’t secretly know that Peter is Spider-Man?
Well, because the Avengers have been trying to recruit him for the past couple of years and Mr. Stark is growing more and more frustrated with his inability to I.D. the most iconic superhero in the New York. Peter suspects it’s more of a pride thing now than an actual recruitment effort. After all, Peter’s managed to evade every rooftop call, every elevator pitch, every mention of joining a crew of superheroes to save the world and beyond with his handy-dandy spidey sense. The fact that Mr. Stark was reaaaallly careless about who he let into his cave of inventions once he trusted them had to do with why Mr. Stark himself had such trouble tracing him..
Which made Peter feel like absolute garbage, and it could be summed up in three easy words: Mr. Stark trusted him. Mike is right about that; they’d come a long way from Mr. Stark’s dismissive attitude to someone who makes sure Peter takes his lunch breaks and has a lunch that isn’t cup ramen or a bland sandwich; someone who gave Mike a Stark-exclusive metro card so he doesn’t have to empty nearly half his paycheck in bus and train passes to get around; someone who makes sure Jenny, their research lead, was paid equally and could take time off to be with her kids regularly.
What does Peter do? Betray his trust. Alter evidence, delete it sometimes if he can afford it, in Mr. Stark’s personal computer to ensure he was never close to identifying Spider-Man as Peter Parker. He can reboot F.R.I.D.A.Y. just long enough to do this because Mr. Stark had blurted out a security vulnerability to Commander Rogers while Peter happened to be nearby.
Yes. Peter is aware of the irony.
Is that shitty of him? Yes. Is he going to stop? Hell no.
Spider-Man’s identity is, like, the ninth wonder of the world at this point—villains are willing to pay billions in cash for any sort of hint. Civilians try to catch an unmasked Spider-Man around the city like some sort of cult trend. Newspapers are willing to give out cash rewards for any sort of hint of Spider-Man’s identity, even his home or friends—Peter has taken to wearing two masks, and buffing up his suit from spandex to spandex-Kevlar and leather in order to ensure that no one got a peek of anything that could I.D. him. Peter has gone as far as altering his voice just so with a voice moderator he installed in his mask so that when he took off his mask, his more natural baritone voice was strikingly different than the deeper, louder voice of Spider-Man.
Hell, if Peter knows he’s going into a tough fight, he’ll wear blue contacts just in case his lens breaks because they were annoyingly easy to break, and he doesn’t have enough money to afford any better materials like Hawkeye or Iron Man. He blew his savings on upgrading his suit to Kevlar. Man, is Kevlar expensive…
He has no idea how Deadpool affords it. He’s always ruining his suits in explosions or gunfire.
Actually. Scratch that. He does.
Life’s easier when you’re a gun-for-hire—or he was. Last Peter heard, Deadpool was some mutant-for-hire for the X-Men. But he still gets paid for it.
Peter doesn’t get paid to do anything!
Unless he joined the Avengers and successfully sold his rights to be a free agent... he’s literally doing this out of the goodness of his heart and sometimes, well, life’s hard.
But Peter’s always been good at commitment.
“Relax, metal man!” Deadpool’s voice drawls out from beyond the looming doors. Peter snaps back to the present, to where Mike is trying to peer between the crack of Mr. Stark’s ajar door. “The worst that can happen is someone accidentally runs into my swords a few times! No biggie! They usually miss anything vital. Unless you count blood loss as vital. Then it’s a little bit of a problem, but nothing duct tape can’t fix.”
“Wilson, if there’s even one injury from this, I’m taking you out myself. I’m not sending you on this job to fuck around—I’m sending you because you can’t die, and Thor is busy. Fuck this up and you’ll be in a world of pain.”
“Ooh, kinky. I’ve always wondered what it’d feel like to be choked by a metal hand, if you catch my drift!”
He’s talking about Cable, Peter thinks immediately, frowning. He hasn’t met Cable either in his suit or out of it, but he has known Deadpool personally since he was nineteen, so he’s heard a lot about the cybernetic time-traveler. It’s no secret that Deadpool has the biggest man crush on the guy. Spider-Man follows as a close second, much to Peter’s eternal anguish. But there isn’t much he can do about it when Cable was so open about his identity, and in good standing with the X-Men, and the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four.
Maybe if Peter stops being a huge anxious baby about his personal life, and Aunt May’s safety, he’d be able to team-up with Wade enough to bump his ranking to number one.
Oh, to be young, Peter thinks wryly. At twenty-eight, there was no way he’d be willing to reveal his identity now. Aunt May’s health had declined over the years and she’d been in out of hospitals more and more, growing weaker and weaker each time. Peter can’t always be there to protect her, and he’s has close-calls with villains nearly discovering her relationship to him. Aunt May is very fragile right now so she doesn’t need a villain accosting her or, worse, kidnapping her. Peter’s biggest fear is that Aunt May won’t be able to recover from another stroke, and after the Green Goblin came so close to figuring out her relationship to Spider-Man a few years back, he’s been extra paranoid about revealing any bit of his identity to, well, anyone.
Except Felicia Hardy that one time, but he called in a favor from Dr. Strange to mindwipe that mistake…or at least his real name and face from her memories which worked out fantastically since Felicia would sell his identity for a chance at a quarter mil and a paid vacation to Puerto Vallarta for a month.
She told him so, once.
It’s lonely, but Peter figures that’s a fair price to pay until Aunt May recovers.
“—be outta’ here in a jiffy!” Deadpool kicks the office door open suddenly. Peter and Mike both guiltily jump back a whole two steps. Instantly, Peter hides behind Mike, wide-eyed. Peter’s never met with Deadpool as Peter Parker, only Spider-Man. He’s frustrated to know Peter Parker remains the wallflower he’s always been when Deadpool squints his eyes at Mike instead, dismissing Peter. “Well, hello there! If it isn’t the nerd patrol! What’cha up to, Spock?” He grins, cocking his head at Mike assessingly. He leans against the wall, grinning at Mike when all he does is stare at the taller man. “Spyin’ on your boss? Hah, I would if I worked for that nuts-for-brains over there! He’s gotta’ be hidin’ something behind all those suits of his—he’s like a small, angry matryoshka, and I’ve only been to Russia once in the future,” Deadpool winks and Mike balks. “Or was it the past? Actually, what Earth is this, I feel like I accidentally came back to the wrong one. No one’s shot me yet. I think,” he adds, glancing down at his suit. “Nope, still in one piece! Did you know? Once, I lost part of my chest in a horrifying space accident and now there’s a little Alien-Pool out there, all alone, hated by all those he comes into contact with! Destined to live out the rest of his alien existence without anyone to looove!” Deadpool fists his hand, shaking them at space. “My writers are fucked up, man! That was a wild issue.”
“I...what?” Mike croaks out.
“I knew it. You were eavesdropping, weren’t’cha?” Deadpool guffaws, clapping a hand on Mike’s shoulder and bringing him in closer before he can react. Peter scowls at the gesture and crosses his arms over his chest, but he barely gets a glance.
“I—er, we totally weren’t—wait, what—I mean, how are you doing that with your mask—?!” Mike sputters, but Deadpool laughs and gives him one last clap on his back. Without another glance at Peter, he happily skips down the hallway and around the corner, waving jauntily all the while. Mr. Stark shuffles out of his lair, deciding to leave the Iron Man suit behind for now. His hair is wild from constantly running his fingers through it, scowling but otherwise resigned.
And Peter would totally be defending himself, too. He totally would be; he’s done it before. In fact, he’s got a list of great quips for nerd comments like the one’s Deadpool said; honestly, his comments were lacking, and Peter will be disappointed in him later. Except he has never been unacknowledged, cooed over, sighed over, squealed over, touched, or stared at by Deadpool since he met him and he is shook, okay.
Deadpool always pays attention to him…
“What the fuck,” Peter mouths to himself, absolutely offended.
He didn’t even say HI—he always says hi to me! Well, he always says hi to Spider-Man, Peter corrects immediately. He can’t even hide the way his shoulders droop at the realization. Mr. Stark frowns at him when he notices while Mike rapidly explains that they were totally not eavesdropping, they had just been walking by to ask him some questions about tomorrow’s gala event. I didn’t think…I don’t know what I thought. That he’d always notice? Me? Peter? When I…
And that was the kicker, wasn’t it? With Deadpool, it had never been an if, but a when, he revealed himself as Peter Parker.
Peter never thought about how Deadpool would react when Spider-Man unmasked for him; if he’d still even like him as Peter Parker. He never thought about if Deadpool would appreciate Peter Parker for more than Spider-Man, more than an icon… more than a hero.
I mean, okay, I’ve always tried to work up my courage to tell him, but this isn’t something I ever worried about. I never thought he’d just…walk away from me like that. I thought he’d maybe make a comment about my stupid eyes or something. I mean, they’re brown, but that’s the joke, they’re boring! Not blue, or green, or...what did he say once? Paisley? Peter thinks with growing dread. Oh. Oh, man. You are in so deep, Parker.
“You alright there, Pete?” Mr. Stark calls out, bringing him out of his deepening heartache. Peter tries for a smile, but it falls flat. “You look a little pale. Did that degenerate say something to you?”
“He didn’t even look at him because we just got here!” Mike insists.
“Yeah, what Mike said. Uh, don’t worry about it, Mr. Stark. Deadpool didn’t…he didn’t say anything to me.”
And that’s the problem—he didn’t even look at me, Peter sighs as Mr. Stark starts to bicker with Mike about eavesdropping techniques and how theirs is subpar and how he must teach them how to do it properly because no Stark employee could be anything but great at everything.
Teach me how to make Deadpool date me seriously, then we’ll talk, Peter thinks broodingly as Mr. Stark grabs him by the shoulder and drags them into his office for some painstaking one-on-one.
Peter’s off his game after that.
He’s so off his game that when Deadpool coincidentally meets him on their favorite rooftop—right above Taco Bueno! actually—Peter is subdued and less animated than usual. Deadpool notices instantly, and it only makes Peter, like, eighty percent happy that he’s being noticed again. Only eighty, because the twenty that matter aren’t being noticed, and he’s super bitter about that.
“Somethin’ wrong, Spides? You’ve been real quiet and you didn’t even yell at me when I told you about how I kicked Agent Hill outta’ the helicarrier.”
“You’re lucky she didn’t file an APB on you.”
“Eh, she tried something, and by something, I mean she nearly blew me up when she stuffed a live grenade in my pouch. But Fury’s been on my ass lately since I’ve got an in with the X-Men,” he crosses his arms, grumbling. “He pissed them off again.”
“Isn’t he always?”
Deadpool snorts. “I don’t buy for a second that it’s all part of whatever masterplan he’s yapping about now, okay? He’s totally making it up as he goes along, and that’s the genius of it all! I appreciate a man who can make shit up on the spot.”
“Hah! Now you’re gettin’ it!” Deadpool manages to get a huff of laughter out of Peter despite his bad mood.
Peter doesn’t linger like he usually does after that. He even turns down Deadpool’s offer of tacos despite being a little hungry—which makes Deadpool all stiff and prickly afterwards. Peter feels like a total douchebag for it. He can tell Deadpool knows something’s bothering him, and he can tell just how much it’s killing the guy inside to ask. But Deadpool’s always been a super-bro in the sense that he never intentionally made Peter uncomfortable, and he respected his boundaries. Sort of. Well, the ones that really matter to Peter, anyway. After Peter told him about how he doesn’t like the prying, Wade actively tried not to be so nosy or stalk him like he had in the beginning.
It’s something Peter’s grown to appreciate about Wade, how conscientious he could be if he wants to. Or if he likes you enough. Which wasn’t super rare, but not being shot at was, according to Wolverine. Apparently, Deadpool likes Spider-Man enough to not intentionally shoot him. Small miracles.
Peter has never been as grateful for Deadpool’s lack of prying until now. He feels—insecure, which is a weird thing to think about in regards to Spider-Man, but absolutely normal when it comes to Peter Parker. Peter’s never had the best self-esteem, even after he woke up with abs and the ability to crawl on walls, however Peter’s always been extra self-conscious when it came to how the people he cared about thought about him.
Gwen would tell you, if she were alive, just how pathetically Peter had pinned after her during Freshman year in college. Totally pathetic; not his best moment. Correction: not his best year. At least she thought it had been cute, that’s probably the only saving grace Peter has. Like, he was so into her, he would write Peter Stacey in his notebooks, that’s how pathetic it got, okay, she was just amazing.
Wade Wilson is spectacular, and though Peter wouldn’t dare to doodle Peter Wilson on the margins of his notebooks at his age, that doesn’t mean he’s never thought about it. A lot. Because Peter is a huge sap. That doesn’t mean Peter isn’t as pathetic at pinning as he had been when he won over Gwen Stacey that day; only to tragically lose her on the Brooklyn Bridge a few months later—the same bridge he can barely stand to look at some days.
Now he just pines in different ways—like learning how to cook Mexican food so he could give Wade homemade food every now and again or taking every opportunity to hang out with Wade. Peter even counts being extra extravagant with his flips and aerial stunts and webbing when he and Wade team-up because Peter loves it when Wade squeals over him afterwards. Peter would even count listening to Wade when he goes on manic tirades because he can’t help himself or not treating Wade like he’s some sort of plague because of his skin, his boxes, his everything; defending Wade from others criticisms, especially Johnny’s, because he’s still bitter about that one prank Wade pulled on him with the glue and shampoo. However, Peter thinks his pining has morphed into some sort compulsive urge to ensure Wade was taken care of when he hurt himself on his missions or their team-ups. Just because he could heal from everything or come back from the dead doesn't mean it isn't painful or traumatic. No matter how much Deadpool laughs it off and thinks his concern is adorable, Peter knows that Wade appreciates the effort. Peter can see it in the way his head bows a little after he’s done fussing; how he softly touches the bandages Peter’s wrapped his wounds in, even if they’ll be useless in about ten minutes or so, how he tends to walk a little closer, lean a little further, into Peter after he comes back from the dead…
Or…like how Wade calls him when he has really, really bad nightmares, and Peter’s never blown him off to go back to sleep. He just asks if he can come over to his place for some late-night soap operas or video games. Sometimes Peter can, other times he can’t, but whenever he can, Peter makes sure to bring a lot of ice cream—vanilla-strawberry, Wade’s favorite—and some spoons because they can both finish four whole cartons of ice cream no problem with their metabolisms.
But that’s all Spider-Man—he does all of that with Spider-Man, not me, Peter insists to himself that same night, hanging out on the ledge of a rooftop alone. He’s reclined on the ledge, foot swinging off the edge. It’s an unusually quiet night, and he’d be shooting the shit with Wade right now if he hadn’t been in such a funk.
His phone vibrates with another text from Wade. He doesn’t look at it immediately, caught up in his thoughts.
If Wade found out who I was, it’d be like Felicia all over again, Peter thinks gloomily. His one attempt to get over Deadpool has been Black Cat. She’d been mean, but he sort of knew that when he became involved with her. Honestly, he should have known better. She hung out with him once outside of his suit and she ditched him without missing a beat. It had been a really tragic affair, actually. Deadpool had been downright murderous about the way it had all blown over when Peter finally fessed up to it after about a week of intense moping.
He was nice like that, Peter supposes. Being a super-bro and making sure no one bullied Peter. Or Spider-Man, he corrects again, because he’s sure someone could be bullying Peter Parker in front of Wade and there would be a 90 percent chance Wade would ignore it or watch for funsies.
She…totally blew me off when she got to know me. If it hadn’t been for Doctor Strange and his weird magic mind-wipe voodoo, I would’ve been in hot water. But maybe he wouldn’t do that? Oh, man, maybe he’d laugh at me instead, and make fun of my everything. Like my brown eyes and my mint condition Star Wars collectible figures that I have in display cases in my living room. Peter groans, thumping his head on the brick as he falls onto his side. And my—my wonky smile! It’s crooked—Gwen thought it was cute, but I know she was just being nice! Sort of. Gwen was the nicest person ever. I think she genuinely liked my smile, Peter trails off curiously, sighing when it did nothing to cure his issues.
Ughhh. Are you serious, Parker, are you REALLY gonna’ spend the entire night bitching about your sad love life? This is worse than with Gwen—this is just—this is a new low even for me. All hail Peter Parker, an actual teenage drama queen.
He is totally going to mope about this for the next foreseeable future.
“Ngh,” Peter whimpers, curling up on the ledge. “This sucks so bad. I want ice cream…”
“AHAH! SO YOU ARE MOPING!”
“AH!” Peter jumps off the roof and clings onto the wall immediately, heart rabbiting in his chest. He crawls up the wall and peeks over the ledge, the white lens of his mask wide. “Deadpool? What are you doing here—how did you do that without me noticing you first?! My spidey-sense didn’t even go off until you were here!”
“Teleportation belt, baby,” Wade grins, patting his crotch lovingly. Peter squints doubtfully. “Finally got it touched up and now it’s super accurate! No more teleporting to strange and mythical places. Like Wyoming.”
Peter sighs, unable to help the way his lips twitch up. “Of course. How did you find me, anyway?” He pulls himself up, sitting on the ledge as Deadpool draws closer. “I didn’t even tell you where I was going this time.”
“Oh, y’know me, finding people is basically in the job description of a merc. Aaand I might have tracked your location using your DS because I hacked it for reasons…”
“Oh, heeeey! Lookit what I brought!” Deadpool shrieks, distracting him with a full body flail. “THE CURE FOR DEPRESSION!”
When he brings out his arms from behind his back, Peter perks up at the sight of the Ben & Jerry’s logo through the plastic bag. “Is that…is that ice cream?”
“Cherry Garcia because fuck your vanilla. I figured you might need some, since you were all mopey earlier!”
“Ah-ah-ah-ah!” Wade shushes, pressing a finger against Peter’s masked lips. Peter jerks away, grumbling, while Deadpool drops the pint of Ben & Jerry’s onto his lap along with a plastic spoon. Peter doesn’t even pretend not to want it. He pulls his mask up his face haphazardly with one hand while the other tears the top of the carton open. Peter shoves a spoonful of ice cream into his mouth without another word, his stupid heart thumping at the thought of Deadpool buying him a carton of ice cream. “Just eat, my mopey, little spider-boy, and tell mama Deadpool what’s wrong so he can make it all better.”
“Ha!” Peter snorts, then curls in on himself some more when Deadpool looks sharply over at him. “Uhh, I mean, this is…this is something you can’t really help me with. I just…” He sighs, shoulders slumping. “It’s really dumb. I don’t even know why I’m angsting over it so much. It’s expected... I should have expected this,” he says, defeated. “They shouldn’t be obligated to acknowledge me, y’know? They didn’t know! They still don’t know! But it…bugs me…” Peter rambles anyway, unable to help himself. Maybe if he keeps it anonymous, Deadpool might, who knows, give him some advice? God. That sounded stupid even in his head. “It…” He stares down at his stupid ice cream cup and feels that hurtful stitch in his heart whenever he remembers Felicia.
“It what?” Wade asks, unusually soft. “Spidey?”
“It reminds me of what happened with Black Cat,” he finally says. Because that’s what it is. Deadpool brushing him off hit too close to home. Maybe he isn’t as over that slight as he thought he was. Deadpool really has no idea who he is. He isn’t obligated to pay attention to Peter Parker like he does to Spider-Man because he has no idea they were the same person. Wade has always, always been fiercely loyal to those he cares about. Peter should be relieved, right? That Wade didn’t stray so easily?
Except it’s a damn dirty lie because Deadpool’s always flirted with whoever the fuck he wanted.
And Cable still beats Spider-Man in the rankings.
And Deadpool can’t be as in love with Peter Parker as Peter Parker is with Deadpool because they’re so starkly different. Deadpool is obnoxious to his polite, loud to his quiet, confident to his meek. Peter has no idea what to do about it because he is who he is and he just—
“I always fall for the worst people,” Peter whispers bitterly, stabbing his spoon in his ice cream furiously. “I know they won’t like me, and I still go and like them! And then I’m so surprised when it turns out that they don’t actually like me.”
“What’cha goin’ on about, sweetheart? Who was the dumbass who said they didn’t like you? Everyone likes you, you’re just a super likable dude—!”
“No,” Peter snaps, crushing his spoon. Wade’s eyes widen. “Everyone likes Spider-Man! Everyone loves Spider-Man! He’s great! He’s confident, he’s smart, he’s quick, he’s really funny, that Spider-Man, but no one ever likes me!” Peter turns to him, mouth pulled tight, tone hurt: “Because I’m not Spider-Man!”
Deadpool stares at him, and Peter stares back, breathing hard, then realizes that he just unleashed a whole decade full of angst and bitterness on someone whose two defining characteristics were probably angst and bitterness (with a dash of fatalistic humor). Peter quickly looks back down to his melting container of ice cream, glad he’s wearing a mask to hide his hot cheeks.
“Uh, Sorry, I shouldn’t have unloaded on you like that,” Peter says stiltedly, after a few more seconds of silence. “I just—sorry. Thanks for the ice cream. I’ll be back to normal soon, I promise, I just—!”
“Who was the motherfucker who made you think you weren’t good enough this time?” Deadpool snarls, grabbing Peter’s arm before he could swing away. “Huh? Who was that sonofabitch, I’ll fucking kill them dead!”
Peter instantly panics because if he says it was you, then he’d make things awkward, and Deadpool probably doesn’t remember Peter because he barely looked at him. Deadpool’s absent-minded on the best of days. Sort of. He is a Special Forces discharge, and can kill a man with a freaking toothpick, but—
Oh, god, if he doesn’t remember me, that’d just make my day worse. I can’t handle that for the sake of my already deteriorated self-esteem and mental health, Peter thinks in a blind panic, and the only thing he can blurt out is the slight truth which is: “I don’t feel comfortable talking about this. Can we please drop it?” Which only makes Wade even more pissed because he thinks that that person really did/said something horrible to him, like Black Cat did, but that’s not true at all.
Deadpool just didn’t look at him, and that’s not his fault. This is Peter’s bag of issues rearing its ugly head; he’s just using that as an excuse to be even more angst-y than usual.
“Can we please not do this right now? No—wait, can we not—Deadpool!”
“I’ll find that sack of shit and shove my katana so far up her vagina, she’ll be bleeding for a whole fucking month—!”
“It wasn’t his fault!” Peter shouts, helplessly.
Deadpool shuts his tirade and turns wide-eyes on him. “HIS?!”
“He doesn’t know my identity, and it isn’t his fault. Him overlooking me was just the last straw for something bigger. These are just my issues, okay, Wade? I was always bullied in high school, and getting my powers was a—a way to create another version of me that wasn’t that sad, pathetic, loser that everyone saw at school. So, I guess I just realized that I did too good of a job at playing that other version of me that, when I think about me as a person, I’m starting to see just how unimpressive I really am.”
“Wait, nonono, pause. Backtrack—HIM?!” Deadpool screeches. “I was under the impression that you were the patron saint of the heteros!”
Peter eyes him weirdly. “What gave you that impression?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe your hundreds of serializations featuring that feisty red-head of yours, Tiger!” Deadpool spits out, gesturing wildly with his arms.
“Red-head? Umm…oh!” Peter cocks his head, bewildered. “No way? She’s been engaged to my best friend for the longest—hey, wait a second, how the heck do you know about MJ—?!”
“Ah, ah, ah—shh, shh, shh, shhhh!” Wade shushes, waving him off. “That’s not important right now, honey, right now what’s important is to address these issues of self-deprecation that you’ve got going on! And I’m not talking about Zdarsky.”
Peter shifts, but makes sure to file that conversation for another time. “It's...it's alright, Wade. I just, uh, well...it’s not a big deal. I’m just more stressed out than usual, you know me. It's getting to my head.”
Deadpool squints at him.
Peter rubs the back of his head awkwardly.
“Something smells fishy and I know it wasn't you because you didn't eat any fish tacos!”
“Oh, c'mon! For the last time, it wasn't me! It was totally DD...”
“Listen, I'm gonna level with you,” Deadpool suddenly says, drawing close to him. “Even as a normal person, you’re not unimpressive, Spidey, because you can’t be! I get the whole alter ego thing, okay? I’m Deadpool,” he insists, raising a hand when Peter opens his mouth to argue. “But I’m also Wade Wilson, but not always. But you gotta’ realize that you’re also Spider-Man. You’ve got it in you, kid, you really do! You just gotta’ tap into it!” Wade says, encouragingly. He gently prods Peter’s shoulder with his forefinger. “Don’t think of Spider-Man as someone who only comes out to play during work hours, think of him as your wing-man that you can reach out to whenever you need their advice on how to get some hot piece of ass!”
Peter stares, slowly nodding, realizing.
That’s...true…I never tried to talk to Deadpool that day, Peter thinks slowly, still a little unconvinced but getting there. I never reached out and said ‘hi’ or anything. I just…let him walk away from me, and then freaked out over it like some angsty pre-teen. “You’re…right,” Peter agrees, with more confidence. “You’re right. I am Spider-Man, and maybe I’ve been going about this the wrong way this whole time…”
“Exactly! Own it, baby, don’t hide your swagger from the world!” Wade says, cheerfully. Then he suddenly stops, horrified. “Wait—um, shit—fuck, you’re right, I didn’t think this through! Abort!” He shouts at one of his boxes. “Except this one time! Don’t listen to your swagger this one time coz, uh—coz fuck that guy, date me instead!” He shouts, hopefully.
Peter softly snorts to himself, endeared. “Real funny, DP,” Peter chuckles. “No, seriously, you’re right! Y’know, I’ve been extra angsty over this since Black Cat dumped me because she thought I was boring, but I never really tried to be interesting. I let other people do the work, and that wasn’t fair of me. I shouldn’t have ever thought of it so negatively. You’ve really helped me realize something today.” He stands up, stretching, and holding his ice cream carton in his hands cheerfully.
Deadpool, meanwhile, flails in a panic and chants “no, no, no!” repeatedly, but Peter just marks it off as Deadpool being Deadpool; he can see why he’d be worried about Peter giving it another go with that mystery guy since DP was under the impression that he was a jerk, but he doesn’t know it’s him. He’ll just have to let him know it was him, but he can’t do that right now. He has a master plan he has to put in action—after he wins Deadpool over as Peter Parker, of course, or at least convince him that Peter Parker is a pretty stand-up guy before he unmasks himself to DP—only then can he pop the question.
But first, Peter thinks as he squeezes Wade’s shoulder in warm thanks before he swings away, he has to think of a way to encounter Deadpool naturally and try and win him over.
It’s easier than expected to find Deadpool naturally. He spots Deadpool dragging himself down the hallway in Stark Tower a few days later and Peter happens to be the only person in the lab because Mike stepped out to take a phone call. That had been twenty minutes ago, so Peter’s convinced that Mike has literally stepped out of Stark Towers to lurk around that Starbucks down the block. Mike likes to fawn over that pretty barista that he’s been over the moon about lately. Peter’s stopped trying to convince him that it’s creepy and really sad.
Peter’s so surprised to see Deadpool so soon after their talk that he almost lets Deadpool stalk past, but he shakes himself of his stupor just in time to shout, “Deadpool!” and waves a little awkwardly when the guy perks up and snaps his head over to him.
Deadpool waves back at him slowly, and cocks his head, eyes widening incrementally the longer he stares at him.
Peter puts down his pipette and removes a glove, his fitted lab coat swishing behind him as he heads over to the cracked-open door. The whites of Deadpool’s eyes widen enormously when Peter peers out fully, smiling charmingly.
“Hey! Weird seeing you down here again!” Peter beams.
“Holy shit, aren’t you the most adorable thing this side of New York,” Deadpool strangles out. Peter’s smile widens a little more, pinks flooding his cheeks. “Oh—oh, my GOD, you’re killin’ me here! Are you new here? I haven’t seen you around? Or were you not here last time I dropped by—did you know I dropped by, did anyone say anything?” he giggles maniacally.
“Uh,” Peter clears his throat. “I, uh...I was here. I saw you. You were talking with Mike by the door?” He thumbs over to Mr. Stark’s sealed office door. “You were in a hurry so you might not have noticed me.”
It takes Deadpool a whole three seconds to realize what he’s talking about. “OH shit, you were that guy in that huge lab coat, right? No, yeah, I remember you! Damn does a change in size really make a difference,” Deadpool leers, and Peter feels his face heat up when his eyes very clearly roam down to his rear. “Actually, I’m pretty sure I would have dug ya’ anyway if you weren’t hidden behind that douche canoe with the undercut.”
“You mean Mike?”
Peter snorts out a soft laugh, and he jerks back when Deadpool is suddenly right in front of him, hands under his cheeks, blinking wide-eyed at him. “So, what brings you to this side of the lab?” He grins at Peter, who smiles dopily again because yes, this was how it was supposed to go. Not that sad, dismissive, pass like last time. But this—Deadpool, engaging him, paying attention to him. Wow, he is really needy. He never thought about how needy he actually was until Deadpool stopped bathing him in constant attention.
Well, everyone had their character flaws.
“I just wanted to let you know that Mr. Stark isn’t in his office right now—he’s in a meeting up on the 55th floor with some business magnate,” Peter informs. Mr. Stark had mentioned that if anyone dropped by, he should direct them to the upper floors. It was the perfect opportunity to talk to Deadpool, and see if he actually liked him as a person which, it seemed, that he really did. So far.
Peter’s messed up second and third impressions worse, so he’s not too confident yet.
“So he wouldn’t mind if I spent some quality moments with you, huh—wait, what’s your name?”
“P…eter,” Peter says, slowly, with a growing smile. “Peter Parker.”
“Peter Parker, huh? Ooh! Alliteration buddies!” Wade squeals. “I’m Wade Winston Wilson! But I also respond to Daddy and The Merc with the Mouth!”
Peter barks out a laugh, covering his mouth with his hand because he hates his smile.
“Noooo,” Wade whines, pressing impossibly closer to Peter. “Don’t cover it up! Lemme’ see those pearly whites. It’s about the best damn thing since Spider—!” He chokes off and, suddenly, that awful heaviness that he had come in with crashes around him. Peter’s so surprised by it, he doesn’t even question when Deadpool grabs his shoulder and herds him to one of the lab stools. The ex-merc throws himself dramatically over the table, letting out a pathetic moan of distress.
Deadpool tries to take a shot out of a test tube. Peter immediately swats his hand and glares at him no, and Wade lets out another whale noise of sadness.
“What’s wrong, Deadpool? You look…” Peter eyes his deflated form and his sad mask eyes. “…miserable. Not a good look for you.”
“Excuse you, I think you mean it’s the only look on me! I can’t help the way I’m drawn!” Deadpool bursts out, groaning again. “The love of my life just realized what a hot piece of ass he really is and went to go woo some sonofabitch that I haven’t found yet, but when I do, ohhh, when I do…” he trails off ominously, muttering indistinctly to himself while Peter tenses, tries not to let his fears get the best of him.
“Love of your life?”
“Yes, the love of my life!” Deadpool repeats, impatiently. “Listen, you’re a dreamboat, don’t get me wrong! With eyes like that and that smile, I’d have been an instant sucker for you, but right now this Pool Guy is only interested in being in one guy’s man-water and it isn’t your kiddy pool. No offense,” he adds.
Peter blinks. “None taken?”
“Right! So, back to my woes in love! SPIDER-MAN IS GONNA’ ASK OUT SOME GUY WHO DOESN’T LOOK LIKE FREDDY KRUEGER’S LOVECHILD AND I…can’t do anything about it,” Deadpool trails off into a pathetic sob. Peter parts his mouth. Closes it. “I can kill the guy, but then I’d really lose any chance at being with Spidey and, let’s face it, I haven’t killed a man in months and this is probably the best I’ve ever been since…the army,” Wade realizes, tone odd and stilted, a distant look in his eyes before he dismisses it, adding: “It’s been years! You’d think I’d have mustered up enough cojones by now to confess my undying love for him, but it’s infinitely harder when he thinks everything I say is a fucking joke! Granted, I never let him know that I’m not a fucking joke generator all the time—only, like, sixty percent of the time—but when I asked him out a couple of days ago he thought I was joking again and I…I couldn’t tell him I was for realsies,” Wade whimpers. “Because….”
Peter watches in mute fascination as his love of his life spews their relationship drama to their own (allegedly) love of their life.
“Because what, Wade?” Peter asks, softly.
“…How can such an amazing hero like him like someone like me?” Wade mumbles, upsettingly vulnerable. Peter clenches his fists in his lap to keep from reaching out and cuddling him closer to his chest. “I’m a monster! Seriously, my face is…haunting…and I’ve been compared to old people and avocado’s a lot, watch my first movie,” he adds with a wink before he deflates again. “I was okay thinking he just didn’t swing my way, y’know? That’s not total rejection, that’s like…preference and I respect that…but he does so now I don’t have an excuse! I’m just that guy now!”
Peter takes this in quietly, scraping his master plan instantly. He can’t go through with that agonizingly slow wooing plan; not now that he’s heard all of this, there’s no way he can be patient enough for it now. He flicks his eyes over to the camera that watches them from the corner of the room. It’s one of the few camera’s in the space that isn’t mic-enhanced since there’s generally very little chatter that happens in the lab spaces. So, that means…
“Hey, you’re a great listener, y’know?” Deadpool sniffles. “Do you charge by the hour?”
“Wade,” Peter says, flicking his eyes back to him and smiling warmly. Deadpool startles at that, goes as far as jerking away from him at the soft look. “Do you really love Spider-Man? No jokes this time. Just the truth.”
Deadpool hesitates for a long moment, shoulders hunched up defensively before he slumps over and drops his eyes to his lap. “I love ‘em more than I love tacos and chalupas,” he mumbles, fiddling with a seam on his glove.
“That must be an awful lot,” Peter says gently, and leans forward. He grabs Deadpool’s cheek and raises his head up, smiling affectionately at the look of surprise and wonder that’s apparent on his masked face. “Did you know? There’s a sale on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream going on right now at Target. Maybe we can get some and talk about this more in your apartment? Just make sure Al isn’t there this time, okay? She nearly took my head off the last time I cracked a joke about her grandma bun,” Peter adds, his smile widening when realization and shock widen Deadpool’s white eyes.
“How do you know about Ben & Jerry ice-cream nights, assassin!” Deadpool screeches and reaches for his katana, but Peter immediately stops his wrist with a sharp hand and squeezes, forcing Deadpool to drop his weapon. He kicks back his stool and grabs Deadpool around the neck when he snarls and tries to fight him off, gripping him tight, making sure Deadpool can’t reach for a gun.
“Wade, it’s me,” Peter hisses. “Stop—stop squirming, you idiot, I’m trying to tell you something important here!”
“NAY! You’re trying to win me over through your sexy good looks and charm me into letting down my inhibitions, therefore extracting all of my vulnerabilities and using them to your advantage!” Deadpool bellows, struggling against Peter’s iron grip. “Well, jokes on you! It was my momma and my pa who beat the shit out of me when I was a kid! Take that, you psychological fiend!”
“WADE!” Peter snaps, gripping his chin and forcing his head up. “That Thursday five years ago, on the roof of Taco Bueno!—do you remember what you told me? What you told him?” he adds, lowly, gaze burning into Deadpool’s wide ones. “About how you wanted to change and be worthy of something for once in your life?”
Deadpool narrows his eyes.
A beat passes and then Peter squeaks when he feels a hand grope his ass firmly, kneading the flesh thoughtfully.
“Wh—hands off the goods, dude!”
“Spidey?” Wade whispers, looking oddly lost. “Is that….is that really you...?”
“Shhh,” Peter hisses, glancing nervously at that camera. “I can’t figure out if that’s just a video feed or if it has a voice feed, so don’t go yelling my name—!”
“BABY BOY!” Wade squeals excitedly, climbing over the table to clutch Peter to his chest tightly. Peter stumbles, but holds Wade’s upper body steady as the merc balances precariously on the edge of the table on his knees. “You’re the cutest cutie to ever cute! Ohhh, look at your hair!” He gasps, petting Peter’s unruly brown locks reverently. “It’s so proper and reminds me of every mission statement in the fucking Bible, you suburban white boy, you! And your eyes—they’re so pretty! You never told me you had brown eyes!”
“Wade, brown eyes are the most common eye color in the United States,” Peter complains, but he flushes when Wade coos even more, Peter’s hand sliding down to grip Wade’s side firmly. Peter’s always noticed how much bigger Wade was compared to him, but he’s pleasantly surprised to find that he’s just as warm and cuddly and strong as Peter’s always hoped he’d be. “Wade…I think we were talking about something really important?”
“Did you mean it?” Peter asks, leaning further into Wade. He presses his cheek against the merc’s jaw, murmuring, “Wade?”
A shudder runs through Wade and Peter grips him tighter, not allowing any wiggle space in case Deadpool got any ideas and tried to run away or, worse, harpoon gun away like the last time they tried to have a heart-to-heart.
Deadpool does none of those things.
Instead, Wade cracks out, “Yes,” and waits with baited breath in his arms, as if preparing himself to be thrown off. Peter smiles brightly and pulls Wade off the table, the merc sliding to his feet unsteadily, full weight landing on Peter. Peter squeezes him tighter against himself, his fingers digging into the black straps of Deadpool’s katana holsters.
“Um…Spidey?” Wade mumbles.
“Is that a…yes?”
“What about that other guy?” Wade asks reluctantly. “The one you were bitching about the other night?”
Peter snorts. “Wade, you idiot,” he leans back and smiles warmly. “I was talking about you. You were the guy who ignored me that day, remember? It just threw me off. I’m so used to always being smothered with attention from you that, when I wasn’t, I guess I overreacted,” Peter laughs awkwardly, looking up at Wade again when he doesn’t make another noise. “Wade?”
“Oh my god!” he squeals. “You’re adorable and you’re mine,” he growls lowly, clutching Peter’s hips possessively.
“DEADPOOL, GET YOUR MANGY HANDS OFF MY EMPLOYEE!” Mr. Stark roars immediately after Wade pounces on Peter and drops him on the floor with a well-executed, Black Widow-style, chokehold that Peter will never admit got him hard. But Mr. Stark is pretty much the best at killing whatever arousal Peter’s ever had so he’s proud to admit that, that day, Wade is the only one who has to awkwardly adjust while one of Mr. Stark’s Iron Man suits hung him from the back of his straps in his hands, snapping at him about assaulting his employees and being a general nuisance.
Peter dusts himself off awkwardly, patting his face and realizing he forgot his glasses. He grabs them from his lab coat’s pocket and slips them on, flushing bright red when Wade groans out: “Oh, fuck, guys, he wears glasses, too! I think I just came in my suit.”
“I’ll call you!” Wade winks at Peter, cackling when Mr. Stark lets out a noise of frustration and aims his repulsors after the sprinting merc.
“Mr. Stark, just let him go,” Peter smiles, holding his hands out in peace.
“You sure? I can make sure he never crosses paths with you in the lab ever again.” Mr. Stark says, seriously. He steps out of the suit, letting it return back to its docking station once he’s sure Deadpool is out of sight.
“Nah,” Peter laughs softly, smiling genuinely up at him. “He was just being Deadpool. He’s pretty harmless, y’know? He didn’t do anything I wasn’t comfortable with.”
“Being touched by that degenerate is something you’re comfortable with?”
“Everyone deserves to be cared about, sir,” Peter replies, honestly.
Mr. Stark stares at him for a moment before smiling wryly, ruffling his hair a little. “You’ve got heart, Pete. More than any one of us, that’s for sure.”
Peter beams, and tries his hardest not to squirm too much in excitement when he feels his phone blow up with messages in his pocket from one Merc with a Mouth.