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Heroes and Suckers (and Everything in Between)

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Something bad was definitely going on. In the category Really Bad with a dash of extra alleyway screams. That had to be at least an eight on the Spider-Man Badness Scale™.

An eight-point-two, if I understand your scale correctly.

Peter tried his best not to get too excited about that. “That’s the first above a seven in weeks!”

People are in danger, Peter.

“Right, right.” Focus, Parker. “Karen, how many blocks away are they? Give me the quickest route.”

Immediately, the streets lit up through his lenses, and he was off in a second, flying like Tarzan through the concrete jungle, and even after all this time, it still felt amazing -

Three males, two blocks down, all armed. I estimate you have about thirty seconds before one gets stabbed.

“What?! Stabbed?” Bye, mood. That was not good. She was right, though; the moment Peter landed on the rooftop he needed to be on, he could see the reflection of a blade up in the air immediately.

“Hey!”

He webbed the stabby-knifey guy against the wall from the rooftop, which was good, but then the other two guys immediately looked up, both with guns aimed at him.

Maybe don't shout 'hey’ at them next time.

“Shoot,” he muttered, ducking away immediately when he heard at least one of the guys cock his gun. “I mean, don’t! Don't shoot!” he yelled from above.

To be honest, he fully expected a few bullets flying by at that point, because bad guys with guns were generally known to be shitty listeners, but there was nothing.

And then there was. One clear shot, down in the alley, but there was no bullet headed his way.

He jumped down, landing kind of harshly on his feet, but his stomach twisted even harder. One of the non-webbed guys had collapsed against the wall, half of his head and it contents splattered across it - and the other guy…

“Oh-em-gee, Spidey! Big, big fan,” said other guy gushed, right as Peter’s senses told him to turn around. The guy had his gun pressed against his forehead before he could do anything else, though. And despite the fact that he was masked and he couldn't actually see his face, something in Peter's gut told him that this creep was pretty serious about the threat, too.

Maybe because he'd already shot a man to death a few seconds ago.

“Listen, Webs, so much to say, so little time, yada yada, so I’ll keep it short: you let me do my thing and I won't have to break thousands of little kids’ hearts by pulling this trigger, okay?” The guy asked. He sounded so weirdly cheerful. Peter felt his stomach twist, again.

Wade Wilson, alias Deadpool, a mercenary known for his ruthlessness and complete unpredictability. Stay on the safe side with this one, Peter.

“Thanks, Karen,” he muttered softly.

Deadpool’s lenses widened. “Karen? Most people call me Deadpool, or Pool, or Jackass. But hey, call me whatever you want, you're the real celeb. Just do me a solid and stay right there, alright?”

He reached back with his free hand and unsheathed something that looked like a sword - what the hell? - then winked, and in one smooth motion, swished around and pierced it right through the webbed-up-guy’s crotch. He cried out in pain.

Peter had Deadpool’s sword arm webbed against the wall in an instant, and he kicked the gun out of the other hand, but the shock paralyzed him to a point where he had no clue what to do next. “What the hell?!”

Deadpool tried to pull his arm free again. “You could say that again! I'm doing my job, Webs! Don't Spidey-stick me right next to this douche!”

Blood was soaking through the webbing that held the balding, scruffy looking man in place. He was whining through choked sobs now, and for a moment, Peter genuinely felt throw up rising in his throat.

You chopped his penis off,” he hissed. This was too much. This had gone from an eight point two to a messed up nine, at the very least. At this point, Peter was pacing back and forth, hands rubbing over his face. “And you killed that other guy! What is wrong with you?”

Focus on your breathing, Peter, you’re dangerously close to hyperventilating.

“You’d be hyperventilating too if you had lungs, Karen!”

You might want to call an ambulance before he bleeds out.

Right. Ambulance. Peter double-webbed Deadpool, just in case (and was thanked with a loud “for fuck's sake, Spidey!”), and then reached between the web threads of the bleeding guy to find his cellphone.

“Better not do that, Webs, I don't like cops,” Deadpool said, in a surprisingly calm tone, at least compared to his deeply offended tone from before.

Peter refused to let that terrify him (even if it was sorta chilling him to the bone.) “I’m calling an ambulance, can't just let him die.”

Deadpool scoffed at that, and leaned against the wall as casually as possible with one arm pinned against it. “Really? Even knowing that he's a serial rapist?”

Peter’s thumb froze over the dial button. “He is?”

“You thought that I’d just go out on the streets chopping everyone's dicks off? That's special rapist treatment, honey.”

Peter’s eyes shifted from Deadpool to the guy next to him, who had turned pale and sweaty at this point, and looked like he was about to pass out.

“He won't survive if I leave him here, will he?”

“Does it matter?” Deadpool asked, right at the same time Karen replied: it’s highly unlikely.

He pressed the button.

911, what’s your emergency?

Deadpool slowly shook his head at him. Peter resisted the urge to flip him off.

“There’s a man bleeding out in an alleyway near the corner of Fifth and Harmony, another man is dead,” he said. And then, after the briefest moment of hesitation, he added: “And I also need the police for their attacker, please, ma’am.”

The lady on the other side of the line said something back, but it was sort of overshadowed by the sound of his own voice, crying out, as something sharp pierced right through him.

Ow. Owowowow. This was not good. This was not good.

There was a weight pressing him against the wall, and a screaming pain in his side. “You're really not on top of your game today, Spidey,” he heard Deadpool mutter. This time, he actually did throw up a little, as the phone was plucked from his fingers.

“Hiya! Attacker speaking, here. Cancel that police car, alright? I won't be here when they show up, so it'll just be a waste of petrol and resources, and you gotta think about the environment, you know? Save the polar bears and stuff. Maybe send an extra ambulance for my arachnid friend, here. Had to stab him. Some boys just don't know when to shut up, amirite? Hold on a sec.”

Pain. Pain. Pain. Pain. It was already a challenge to breathe properly, let alone when Deadpool pressed a little harder against him. “Okay, sit real still, Webhead. I’m gonna pull this baby out and head off, but it'll hurt way more if you move.”

It terrified Peter that he had a feeling he couldn't move even if he wanted to. There were black spots dancing in front of his sight, and the inside of his mask smelled of vomit. Normally, it would've been dead easy to throw a guy like Deadpool off, even after an injury, but for some reason he felt frozen on the spot.

He barely even flinched as the knife was pulled out of his side. Just choked and fell to the ground like a limp sock doll as Deadpool stepped back.

And then things got strangely quiet. For a very, very long time. No footsteps of Deadpool running off. Not talking. No stabbing, screaming, grunting.

And Peter was still fucking frozen.

Press your hand against your side, Peter, it needs pressure.

Karen had to repeat that five times before he did so. The world felt sluggish. Why wasn't his body functioning? Why wasn't his mind working? Everything felt like static noise. When he opened his eyes, he could see Deadpool's legs, still just standing there. He was looking at him. And - oh god. He was missing his arm. He had chopped off his own webbed-up arm.

“Oh, fuck,” he heard him whisper. “No, no, Webs, you really can't go into shock right now. You need to drag your ass to a hospital, you hear me? Shit, superheroes get stabbed by things all the time in the movies and they’re fine! I didn't even puncture any organs!”

Peter heard the words, understood them, but barely heard them at the same time. Just stared at the opposite wall, where Dickless Guy was still bleeding out. Breathing was so difficult. When had it become so difficult? And the black spots were growing, too. Shit. Shitshitshit.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake -”

Peter, breathe -

Blackness.

-----

Then, vaguely, opening his eyes in another alley, shaking, coldcoldcold. His face was wet. His mask was wet. Why was his face wet? He could still smell his own vomit.

“Yeah? You awake?” Deadpool’s voice. Why was he here? Where were they?

He was seated on the ground, there was a penetrating smell of piss everywhere, and he only noticed that Deadpool had been pressing something to his side when he pulled it away again. “Listen, you need to focus, okay? Don't faint on me again. I’m gonna leave some civvies here. You’re going to take off the suit and put them on. Around the corner is a hospital. Tell them you’ve been robbed or something. Gotta go now. Bye!”

And before Peter could ask him anything (like why on earth he was helping, what he was doing here, etcetera), or even look up, he was gone again.

-----

The first person he saw when he woke up, of course, had to be May.

“My God, Peter. Look at you.” Both of her hands were squeezed around his almost desperately, pressing the IV-drip harshly against his skin. “How did this happen?”

Peter dried to swallow; he felt like he had eaten half the Sahara desert for lunch. “Uh. Hi,” he rasped, blinking a few times to get adjusted to the light. And the killer headache. And the pain in his side. Geez, this was the suckiest he’d felt in a long, long time.

May didn't look too good either. “What happened, Pete?”

“I got stabbed?” At least that was something he was fairly confident about remembering right. He rubbed his face with his non-clutched hand. “Holy smokes. Ow. What time is it?”

“Three in the afternoon.” May kept patting his hand, but the look she was giving him was far from loving. “Peter, I’m going to ask one more time. What the hell happened?”

It was a good question, Peter had to give her that. It slowly started to come back to him; the murder, the penis fiasco, the call, the stabbing - and then, then the blurrier part, of stripping naked, trying to put on an oversized hoodie while putting pressure to a wound, of crossing a road barefeet, of wheezing something about a robbery at the front desk while clutching his blood-soaked side. And then nothing. He felt the least heroic he had ever felt since he got his powers.

But May didn’t need to know any of that. “Just a robbery.”

“Just a robbery,” she repeated slowly, giving her nephew a very leveled look. “Is that right?”

“Yep,” Peter squeaked. “You know, wrong place, wrong time... The guy was about my size, so I figured I could handle him, you know? And then suddenly there was a knife! Like, whoop, out of nowhere. So I went to the hospital.” He gestured at himself and the hospital bed. “And, y’know. Now I’m here. In the hospital.”

Despite his best attempt at the Innocent Puppy Dog Face™, May just cocked an eyebrow, and stopped patting his hand. “Is that so?”

“Yes! Yeah. Definitely, that’s how it went down.”

“Right.” May cleared her throat and even went so far as to pull her hands back altogether. “And the real version?”

Oh, crap.

“This is the real version,” he tried weakly. “Really.”

But May just gave him a weary smile. “Pete, you’re trying to convince me that you got robbed by an unarmed man and that it surprised you when he drew a knife.”

Peter felt incredibly small, and stared at his feet. “Uh-huh. Yep.”

“The nurse also told me that you were wearing a sweater that was clearly not yours, and that it was completely unharmed, despite the stab wound underneath.”

Aaand now it officially felt like his excuse was the Titanic itself, and May was the iceberg. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” There was a heavy silence that fell in the little hospital room. “So… Secret Spider-business, I think?”

Peter felt himself deflate like a balloon, although he wasn’t sure if he felt defeated or relieved. “Secret Spider-business,” he confirmed quitely.

She swallowed heavily and nodded to herself. It wasn’t easy on her, the whole Spider-Man thing, Peter knew that.

So, his IV’d hand was quick to grab one of hers again, and try to catch her eye. “Hey, hey, May, it’s okay, alright? This will be fine in a few days, I promise. I heal, like, super quickly now, I could probably go home this afternoon and take the weekend off and I’ll be healthy as a horse for my next lecture. No biggie, really.”

“If you say so.” She started drawing little patterns on the palm of his hand, as half of her hair fell in front of her face. “I’m actually a little bit relieved. The nurse was worried that the unharmed sweater was a sign of domestic abuse.”

Whoah, what? Peter nearly choked on his own spit. “Excuse me?”

“Because you actually took the time to put on something else before going to the hospital, you know? She figured that meant that it happened at home, because where else would you get a sweater? Happens more often, she says. That victims try to cover it up when they go, so they don’t alarm the neighbors.”

There was a look on May’s face that made Peter’s stomach twist. “Wait, you didn’t actually believe that had happened, right? Right, May?”

She held her hands up in the air. “I don’t know! What was I supposed to think? She showed me the clothes that they cut off of you, and they were big, way too big for you, and apparently you weren’t wearing any shoes either, and you’re eighteen and I know you don’t wanna tell me everything anymore, so I thought that maybe -”

“The sweater is Deadpool’s,” Peter blurted, because for someone who had to keep a secret identity, he was spectacularly bad at keeping secrets.

May just blinked once, twice. “Is that another superhero?”

Peter thought of the dick chopping incident and gagged. “More like supervillain.”

Apparently, that had been the wrong thing to say. His aunt looked horrified. “Your boyfriend is a supervillain?”

What?! “No! He’s the guy who stabbed me.”

At that, May went ghostly pale. “You’re telling me the nurse was right?”

Oh. Oh. “Nononono, he’s not my boyfriend, he’s only a supervillain. One hundred percent bad, May, a really bad baddie, horrible person that I hate, not date - oh, God, please don’t pass out on me.”

She didn’t, of course, because aunt May was tough as nails (although wrapped in a deceiving coat of Italian harmlessness), but she still let out the longest sigh he had ever heard from her. She rubbed her face a few times, tucked her hair behind her ear and then, almost nervously, started laughing.

“Don’t scare me like that, Pete. My old heart can’t handle it.”

The tension slowly seeped away from the room. Automatically, Peter half-smiled too. “Oh, c’mon. Your heart is basically twenty, still.”

“Psh.” She rolled her eyes. “I raised a kiss-ass.”

Peter listened extra for possible footsteps in the hallway, and when he heard none, blew a raspberry. May blew one right back; painful moment over, life back to normal.

“Hey, May?”

She was smiling, and her brown eyes seemed warmer now. “Hmm?”

“Could you maybe do me a really important favor?”

A little frown rimple came up between her eyebrows. “What is it?”

“Well, I sorta left my very important torn supersuit in that back alley…”

-----

He had expected Mr. Stark to be mildly annoyed. He had not expected Mr. Stark to be completely pissed off.

“What the hell have you done to my suit?” The door of one of the more confidential areas of the Avengers facility had barely shut behind him, before there was a huge frown forming on his face. The ‘I am beyond disappointed’ frown. “What, you thought, ‘hey, nice work you did here, let’s keep sticking knives in it ‘til one gets through’?”

Peter felt the color drain from his face. “What? No, no, of course not!”

Mr. Stark crossed his arms. Not a good sign. “A suit like that doesn’t just tear up out of nowhere.”

“No, look, see - there were these guys that I’d been following around for a while, and it went sour and bad stuff happened and I got stabbed.” In a haste, Peter pulled his shirt up. “See?”

Happy, who still stood right next to the door, pulled a face and made a hasty gesture for him to put his shirt back down. Mr. Stark overruled it immediately, and stepped closer instead. “Lemme see that.”

He prodded once, twice, next to the angry red, half-healed wound, then once right on it, and Peter hissed. “Ow! Hey!”

“Weird,” he just concluded. “Shouldn’t have happened.”

“That it hurts?” Peter guessed lamely. “Stab wounds usually do?”

Mr. Stark glared at him. “The stabbing. Shouldn’t have happened. Any sharp object should’ve been stopped by that suit.”

Frowning, Peter pulled his shirt down again. “I guess it was an extra sharp knife?”

“Peter.” Another Look, with a capital L. “I spent a lot of bucks on making it as impenetrable as possible at this point of time, and then some. We’re talking millions, here. No extra sharp knife could’ve done that.”

Oh. Something uncomfortable settled in Peter’s stomach. “So you’re saying that whatever I was stabbed with, wasn’t normal?”

Mr. Stark nodded. “I’m thinking leftover alien tech bits, maybe - not even going to rule out the possibility of a curse or something. What kind of ‘bad guys’ were they?”

Peter blinked. “Uh- drug dealers, I thought.” And apparently, sex offenders. “But it wasn’t them. This guy - uh, Deadpool? Deadpool did the stabbing.”

A short silence fell, after which Mr. Stark let out the least professional groan Peter had ever heard from him. Happy got his trademark ‘oh, here we go again’ face as well. “That fucking asshole!”

“You know him?” Peter squeaked softly.

“That motherfucking son of a bitch!” Mr. Stark threw some more words in there that sounded Spanish and Russian, of which Peter caught just enough to know that those, too, had to be swearwords. He even slammed his fist down on the table with coffee cups next to him, making the cups rattle. “I thought we were done with him!”

“We’ve had trouble with Wilson before,” Happy clarified. “Thinks he’s some sort of justice warrior at the best of times, gets downright insane at the worst - a few years ago, he murdered a bunch of crucial focus points in an ongoing investigation on high tech weaponry in the criminal circuit. They all scattered and went underground after that.”

“Took us two years to find new dum-dums to track,” Mr. Stark interjected. “We tried to bring Wilson in, but he’d disappeared too. We hoped that would be the end of it. Apparently not.”

Well, that was definitely one in the category Not Good. “Right, right. So, d’you think that whatever he stabbed me with was something high-tech? Does he always have high-tech stuff?”

Mr. Stark just stared at him for a while with a look that screamed that he was done for the day. “No, he does not. You’re the bearer of some real bad news here, kid.”

Oh. Peter awkwardly scratched the back of his head. “Sorry.”

Mr. Stark didn’t reply. Instead, he turned to Happy. “Call Pepper, tell her that we have to cancel Spain next week. Wilson needs to be combed out before he starts messing everything up again, he’s a liability that I do not want hanging around New York.”

Happy fished his phone out of his jacket, and looked like he just had to swallow a whole lemon, but Peter’s face tentatively lit up. “Hey, I can help with that!”

Mr. Stark immediately turned himself to him. “No. No way. You’re out, kid.” He clapped a hand on his shoulder and even bent his knees slightly to get on Peter’s eye level. “Thanks for the reporting and everything, but we got it from here. You know what - I’ll take that suit, my team will handle the repairs, and I’ll personally let you know when it’s ready, alright?”

A small flame of irritation flickered in Peter’s chest. “No, Mr. Stark - c’mon! I found him once, I can find him twice, right? I can handle this! Really!”

But Mr. Stark just cocked an eyebrow, and then poked him hard in the still-healing stab wound, making Peter hiss and clutch his side. “Yeah, thought so. You did enough, Peter. Go home, play hooky on those lectures for a few days - catch up with some Netflix, teach yourself how to knit, whatever kids do these days. Get better and leave this alone. Deal?”

The irritation flame grew bigger. Now frowning, Peter stood up straight again. “Why? I’m not a kid anymore, I can handle this!”

Mr. Stark pinched the bridge of his nose. “Look, I know we had that little ‘coming of age’ moment a couple years ago when you turned me down. That was great. We had a blast. Very defining and all that. But the moment you decided not to become an Avenger, it meant that you were, and still are, not an Avenger. And let’s be fair, you really are still a kid.”

Now it was Peter’s turn to cross his arms. “C’mon, I’m eighteen! I’m an adult!”

“Oh yeah?” There was a glimpse of a challenge in Mr. Stark’s eyes. “Then explain to me how taxes work.”

Wait, what? “Taxes?”

“Yep. That’s the grownups test. Explain. To me. How taxes work.”

This was ridiculous. “Uh. You have to pay a percentage of your income to the government? For… funding? Of stuff?”

Mr. Stark made a ‘go on’-gesture. “And? How big is the percentage? How much taxes do you have to pay this year? How long is one tax year, and when does it start, and when does it end? What's a tax paradise? What's the deal with Switzerland?”

Happy shook his head behind him. “Really? We’re really going to do this?”

“Grownup test!” Mr. Stark interjected. “So?”

Peter felt his cheeks flush, although he wasn’t sure whether it was from embarrassment or frustration. “I-I… What does that have to do with Deadpool? I don’t - I swear I can do a lot -”

But Mr. Stark just clapped him on the shoulder. Again. “Look, kid, I appreciate the effort, but we’re done here. Happy can drop you off at home. Say hi to your aunt from me.”

Peter only just stopped himself from stomping his foot down, and only because he knew it wouldn’t help his case here. “I can drive! I drove here! I’m an adult!”

At that, Mr. Stark threw his hands up in mock-surrender. “Whatever makes you happy.”

It doesn’t, Peter thought, but he knew better than to say it. “Fine, yeah, I’m going.”

Mr. Stark made a ‘get on with it’ face, even as Peter was leaving. “Yeah, ciao.”

“Cavolo!” Peter called after him, without a second thought, only vaguely hearing the muffled ‘did he just call me a cabbage?’ from behind the door he had closed behind him.

-----

The healing did not go as smoothly as Peter had hoped it would.

It wasn’t even as if he was really trying to keep it open, which was what it would’ve taken for literally any other wound to not heal. In fact, he was taking it super slow, compared to what he was used to. His suit wasn’t repaired yet after a full week (Peter started to suspect that Mr. Stark was keeping it on purpose, to keep him away from the Wade Wilson Ordeal), so he had slept seven full nights in a row. For the first time in years.

But it didn’t help much. It would be freshly closed in the morning, and then he would drag himself to his lectures, sit through the whole day, study in the library for another hour, drag himself back home - and find that he had started bleeding again sometime during the day. It was exhausting.

“May? What’s the trick with getting blood out of clothes you used yesterday? Does the water need to be warm or cold?” he called out, as he opened the door to the apartment. His muscles were aching in a way that he hadn’t felt in ages, like the early onset of flu. Because his side wasn’t hurting enough already, of course.

May’s head popped around the doorframe of the living room with a worried frown plastered onto it. “Wait, really? It happened again? Peter, I told you to take it easy -”

“And I am!” Peter held his hands up to show his innocence, but it pulled at the wound, making the red stain in his white shirt even larger. “Ow. Today I took every elevator available, kept walking to a minimum, stuff like that.”

May just shook her head and sighed. “Alright, tough guy, let’s get that shirt off.” She walked over and grabbed the hem, but Peter held it down before she could pull it up, causing her to cock an eyebrow.

“I’m not three,” he protested. “I can do this.”

And he could. Even if it hurt like heck. When it was off, May didn’t even make an effort to conceal her own staring.

“Looks even worse than yesterday,” she muttered to herself, after which she got an expression that Peter absolutely did not like. “Right, that’s it. I’m playing nurse.”

Peter paled. “No, c’mon, I’ve got special healing abilities, May, we’ve been over this -”

“They’re not working!” She sounded more upset than Peter had ever expected her to get over something like this. “Pete, you’re bleeding, and it’s not getting better, so - I’m going to stitch this up, you’re going to lie down and do absolutely nothing, while I try to get hold of one of those medics at Stark’s, see if they know something that can just stop that healing ability -”

“Mr. Stark thinks I’ve been stabbed with something either high-tech, alien, or cursed,” Peter interjected. “It’s probably not my healing powers’ fault.”

For seven long seconds, it was completely quiet in the hallway. Then, May breathed a quiet “Oh, cazzo.”

Peter’s eyes went wide and a completely misplaced grin appeared on his face. “You swore! You just totally swore!”

“Did not,” she quickly brushed it off, and it seemed to kick her back into motion again. Before he knew it, Peter was dragged off to the couch, and left there as his aunt grabbed the sewing kit and the first aid kit, kneeling in front of him as she rubbed an alcohol-soaked cotton over a needle and thread. “What do you want to have for dinner tomorrow?”

Peter frowned, but didn’t stop staring at the needle. “What?”

Excuse me,” she corrected. “What would you like for dinner tomorrow?”

“I thought I was cooking tomo- ow!” And there was the needle. It took extra effort not to try and turn away after that, but the stinging quickly subsided, only leaving a strange, tugging sensation where the thread was pulled through. “What was that about?”

May shrugged and did another stitch, quickly and efficiently, with her glasses perched on the tip of her nose. “Distraction. Nurse one-oh-one for you, right there. I usually ask kids about their favorite TV shows before giving them a shot, but I accidentally clicked on your Netflix profile once and I just don’t wanna know anymore.”

Netflix account? What was she even talking - oh. “MJ has our password and is really into serial killer stuff, sorry.”

At that, May snorted. “And Shrek?”

“Ned might have our password too.”

There were a few more tugs and stings, after which May grabbed her phone, dialed some number and placed it between her shoulder and her cheek as she cleaned up the emergency kit again. “Hi, yes, can I speak to Mr. Stark? … May Parker. No, I don’t want to speak to an assistant - listen, this is not about me, this is about Peter Parker. … Yes, that Peter Parker, could you - thanks, yeah, thank you.”

“What are you doing?” Peter hissed. May shushed him with one finger.

“Hi, yeah, yeah, look - let’s skip the niceties this time around, alright? Because I’ve got a bleeding nephew on my couch, who tells me that you know something about the high tech stuff he’s been stabbed with, so I’d like some details on that.”

“It’s fine,” Peter whispered, once again. And, once again, he was ignored. “C’mon, May, I just have to lie down for a few days, or something - it’ll be -”

“Right, yeah, okay,” May interjected, “so he’s in custody, right?”

Peter blinked. That was fast.

“I see. Okay. Well. Call me if there are any updates. Yeah. Okay. Bye, thank you very much.” She ended the call, put her phone away and looked up again. “So, Deadpool is lost.”

Sitting up without pulling the stitches was difficult, but Peter had forgotten all about those now anyway. “He’s not in custody?”

“Apparently not.” May sounded not amused. She ran her hands through her hair and made a frustrated noise; Peter hadn't seen her this distraught since… well, since Ben.

“You’re not going after him,” she finally said, turning her Concerned Aunt Look on full intensity. “I’m serious, Peter. This week is bedrest and the rest of the weeks are Deadpool-free. Capito?”

Peter tried to stare back for a moment, tried to muster up the energy for another big confrontation about his level of maturity and make a Statement with a capital S, but he was tired and his side was hurting and -

And, this was May.

“Okay,” he said. “Okay.”

-----

 

Three days worth of Netflix marathons later, a very puzzled May stepped into Peter’s room with a basket full of raw cabbages and a card with a kitten on it.

Get well soon.

T.S.

PS: Karen is wrecked, give her a few more weeks.

Peter took the calmest, steadiest breath he could manage and tossed the the card right in his trash can on the other side of the room.

-----

It did get better with bed rest, at least to the point where the wound was more or less closed and wouldn’t bleed anymore whenever Peter turned or twisted in his sleep. The stitches were still in, but at least it was something.

And something was good enough to finally get out of the house again.

“Just the milk,” May reminded him. “Just one milk bottle, Peter. Got that? Don’t come back with a full bag of groceries and get that thing bleeding again, alright? Have we got a deal?”

“You gave me two dollars,” Peter pointed out. “What else can I buy?”

But May just gave him her Sternest Look. “Just the stupid milk.”

-----

Of course, the store had ran out of stupid milk.

“Cabbage,” Peter swore, not even bothering to translate to Italian. There was yoghurt, there was cream, there was flipping cottage cheese, but no stupid milk. His first mission since The Stabbing: compromised.

He stared at the mockingly empty milk section. The milk section glared back.

“You're in the wrong isle for the vegetables, dude. Like, way off.”

Peter frowned. This wasn't a very touristic spot, and New Yorkers knew better than to interfere with other people’s business. When he turned around, though, his eyebrows shot up immediately.

“Holy heck?!”

Deadpool, in turn, also looked pretty shocked. “Heck? Are you seven?”

Literally all the hairs Peter had anywhere were standing up straight, as he was trying to get his heart rate down again. Deadpool was here. Deadpool had found him, and he was so so so screwed, and oh shiiii-

“Hellooo?” Deadpool waved a gloved hand in front of his face. “Is my kinky leather look too much for you? You okay, kid?”

Peter blinked. “I'm not a kid,” his brain automatically supplied.

Deadpool raised his eyebrow and somehow his completely leather mask showed him doing the same. “... okay? Uh. Okidoki. See ya, stranger.”

And with that, Peter's brain kicked back into action. Of course Deadpool hadn't found him, because he had no idea whose face he was looking at. It was fine. He was as safe as anyone was around this guy.

But Deadpool was still here, outta nowhere, with two functioning arms and a basket full of cookies and one solitary carrot. For the first time Post Stabbing, he felt like he could actually be useful again, with or without the stupid milk.

Because, you know. Deadpool was right there. Walking away, but still.

“Hey! I know you!” he called after him. Deadpool stopped and pointed at his own masked face, and Peter suddenly had to try his best not to smile too brightly. Mr. Stark was going to drop his jaw so hard, he’d need plastic surgery. “Yeah! You! I’ve heard of you.”

At that, Deadpool’s lenses narrowed again. “Whoops, well. That’s my sign to get the fuck out of here, then.”

Oh, shoot. “Nonono, Mr. Deadpool, wait - I, uh…” Where the heck was he supposed to go from here? He ran two hands through his hair. Oh, dang.

Then, he stuck both his hands and his hair up as the metaphorical lightbulb switched on. “Can I get an autograph?”

For a moment, Deadpool just stared. Then he did a couple things with the lenses of his mask that definitely weren’t supposed to be possible - and then he turned around to the security camera on the ceiling and said “I don’t even fucking know” out loud.

Yeah, same.

“So you’ve heard of me, you know me, and you want my autograph?” he finally heard the leathery guy repeat. “Look, I’m not Spider-Man, alright? You’ve got the costumes all messed up. I’m, like, the darker, more fetishy version of him? I’m what all angsty emo teens jack off to. I think.”

… right. Peter breathed once, twice, and plucked the bewildered frown right off of his forehead again. “I just called you Mr. Deadpool? I know who you are.”

“Ha!” Deadpool’s laugh was loud enough to make every single person in the shop jump. “Mr. Deadpool is my mother, sweetheart. Call me Pool. Or DP.”

“Deepee?”

“It don’t work when you spell it phonetically.”

Peter frowned. “I just said the exact same thing.”

“Ah, but you spelled it differently.” Deadpool tipped an invisible hat to him. “Enjoy your day, my good sir.”

Deadpool turned around like he was about to leave, with a basket full of groceries (if you could call them that), when he seemed to remember that paying was a thing. So, he awkwardly turned around again, made a few gestures towards the till and made a beeline to the cashier.

Too bad Peter was not exactly slow himself.

“Hey,” he continued, as he stood behind Deadpool with an empty, milkless basket. “I know this is probably weird, and I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or anything - I just…” He just what? He cleared his throat to buy himself some extra time, but when Deadpool turned his head around with narrowed lenses, he panicked and said: “I just wanted to thank you.”

The lenses narrowed further. “For what?”

“For…” What on earth could he thank him for? This man was a penis chopper. A killer.

A rapist killer, though. That was something.

“For… that guy you attacked, two Fridays ago?”

Deadpool’s lenses got wide. Then, he very quickly turned around towards Peter, getting all up his space. “How do you know about the Spidey incident? Everyone who witnessed that is now dead.”

Oh. Nononono, abort mission, abort mission.

“Not the Spidey incident,” Peter squeaked, because well, if Deadpool decided to pull a gun now, he was more than screwed. The wound still slowed him down, and he had no suit, for crying out loud. “I mean - what Spidey incident, anyway? I was talking about… about that horrible guy. H-he…” Think, Parker. “He assaulted my friend.”

At that, Deadpool’s posture immediately relaxed, and he stepped back, out of Peter’s personal space. “Oh, him! Yeah, no worries. Scum like that deserves a one-way ticket straight to hell, amirite? Sorry to hear he prayed on your friend, that’s… ugh. How old are you, anyway? That would’ve been a minor. Damn, I knew I should’ve cut it off slower! Like, he didn’t deserve the rapist treatment, you know? Not if he’s a child rapist.”

Peter tried his best not to shudder, because he was a superhero, dammit, and he should be able to handle this stuff. “What - uh, what is the child rapist treatment?”

Deadpool’s mask lit up in joy and he pushed his basket in the crook of his elbow so he could clap his hands together. “It’s when you cut off the guy’s junk real slow, then wake him up if he passed out, and feed him his own dick. Somehow, they really hate being on the receiving end? Really strange.”

Well. That was an image. “She wasn’t a minor,” Peter finally said. “I’m eighteen, I’m no kid.”

Deadpool laughed. He honestly laughed out loud. “Aw, tiny pupper thinks he’s a big boy.”

“I am a big boy!” Peter protested, before realizing how weird that sounded, or how strange it was to get this upset over something that Deadpool would say. But before he could protest more, though, the man in question was already ruffling his hair with a gloved hand.

“Suuure, buddy, eighteen is the adultiest adult you’ll ever be. Now have fun buying Funyuns for you and your college pals and don’t jump off buildings when you get too stoned, okay?”

Peter grabbed Deadpool’s wrist and pushed him away.

Big mistake.

“Whoah! Baby boy’s got some strength in him, look at that! Do you lift? How much do you lift?”

Honestly, Peter felt like shouting something his aunt would make him do all the dishes for by himself for a week (she did not like cursing), when a short cough made them both look around.

“Hi,” the cashier girl said. “There are some other customers waiting behind you? So if you could… y’know, pay? That would be great.”

She looked young, Peter’s age, with some acne on her cheeks and a general ‘I don’t give a damn’ look on her face.

I mean, there was a man standing in her shop who was absolutely loaded with weapons, two swords strapped to his back, and she just kept on chewing her gum. Peter liked her.

“Sorry, ma’am. Big boy here just almost broke my fucking wrist, what the fuck.” He sounded more impressed than annoyed, though, weirdly enough. “Call me again in seven years, because that’s kind of hot.”

Peter tried his hardest not to make a face at the things Deadpool was implying here. He’d rather not be stabbed by anything of Deadpool’s ever again, whether it was a knife or his knife. “Uh,” he replied eloquently. “Thanks?”

Deadpool just waved it off, and gave his basket of cookies + solitary carrot to the cashier, who was either fearless or a little bit dead inside. (If she was really Peter’s age, he figured, it could be both.) It was only when she was already giving Deadpool his total and he put a handful of crinkled dollar bills on the counter, that the realization hit him that time was running out.

“Hey, wait,” he rushed, before he could feel his shot slipping through his fingers. Deadpool was already leaving, one plastic bag in his left hand, solitary carrot in his other hand, when Peter caught his arm again. Gentler this time, though. “Uh - if I wanted to call you in seven years, which number should I use?”

Deadpool froze, then slowly turned around. “Kid, I was joking. You don’t wanna sleep with this.”

“No, no, I know that.” He really didn’t wanna sleep with that, in all honesty. “But… what if I know someone else who maybe deserves one of those one-way tickets?”

At that, Deadpool’s whole demeanor changed, and he pulled something out of his pocket in such a quick motion that Peter’s Spidey senses were blaring. He was definitely going to get stabbed again.

… or not, because it was a pen. Then, Deadpool grabbed his hand and scribbled down a series of numbers. “For you, first one’s half off,” he said, all teasing gone from his voice. Whatever was left was softer, somehow. Almost concerned. “Fuck it, first one’s free if it’s the cock-shoved-in-mouth treatment you’re looking for, alright? Anyone who had to be this strong at eighteen didn’t become that overnight. Don’t wait with your call.”

With that, Deadpool gave his hand a little squeeze, patted his shoulder, and disappeared with his groceries in hand.

-----

“Hey! Took you long enough, Pete, I was getting worried.”

Peter closed the door of the apartment behind him with his foot, milk jug in one hand and his sleeve carefully pulled over the other. The whole living area smelled amazing, something meaty with herbs and garlic and all sorts of stuff that usually kicked his brain into sweet Salivation Mode, but now, he just placed the milk on the counter, gave May a kiss on the cheek and turned around towards his room.

May grabbed his arm, though. “What’s on your hand?”

Damn.

“It’s nothing.” Peter tugged his sleeve further down and did the very best he could to avoid May’s Mother Hen stare. “Just cold.”

Technically, he was able to pull himself free without any problem. It was just that tiny little detail of himself swearing that he wasn’t going to use any Spidey powers on his aunt, ever, that kept him from yanking on his sleeve and sprinting straight to his room.

Stupid morals. Without them, there was no way that May would’ve been able to pull his sleeve up enough to reveal all the numbers. “Oh!” Her voice was instantly higher. “Look at you, huh?”

“Shut up,” Peter said coolly (slash squeaky). “It’s nothing. No one.”

“You go out for milk and you get someone’s phone number?” May released his sleeve, but gave him a playful shove against his shoulder as he tried to cover up the digits, his cheeks turning flaming red, for some reason. “You’re just like your uncle, good gracious.”

“‘s just a number.” Peter folded his arms firmly over each other and tucked his hands safely under his armpits, out of reach. “And it’s not even a girl.”

May’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh.” One corner of her mouth twitched a bit. “Whose number is that, then?”

Peter shrugged. Okay, so maybe this would’ve been a lot easier to explain if he’d just said it was a girl, but that damage was already done. Next best thing, then. “Just some guy from the supermarket.”

“I see.” If May looked apprehensive, she did a very careful job of smoothing out her expression immediately afterward. “Normal guy? Nice guy? Your age guy?”

No, no, and no. “Yep, all clear.”

There was a little crinkle of worry between May’s eyebrows, still, but there was a softness in her brown eyes too. She ran one hand through Peter’s hair (who in turn tried not to protest too much, because he knew that wrinkle, and he knew that this was May when she was really, really trying), and smiled. “As long as you’re safe, you can text all the numbers in the world.”

Peter gave her a half smile back. Well, at least May thinking that he was flirting with some boy was a whole lot better than the truth. “Thanks. That means a lot.”

It didn’t, but a part of Peter still somehow felt light as he went off to his room.

-----

So here were the options:

1. Give Deadpool’s number to Mr. Stark.

This was the quickest way to prove to him that he was useful, but also the weakest, because Peter had Googled it and it only took like ten minutes of clicking around on the deep web to get that exact same number.

That landed them with option 2. Call Deadpool, set up a meeting with him, give Mr. Stark the location and the date, and let him walk in the trap. Which, to be fair, was a real plan, that could really be attempted.

He was just about 90% sure it wouldn’t work, because chaotic as he was, Peter had a gut feeling that Deadpool was not an idiot. He wasn’t going to meet up at some place where he could be compromised with someone that he barely knew.

And then option 3, which was probably the worst one and yet the most likely to succeed, anyway: say that Mr. Stark was the one who’d assaulted him. At least that would drive Deadpool in his direction. Tentatively, Peter fished his phone out of his pocket, and added Deadpool (cell) to his contact list.

If there seemed something off about trying to get the approval of the man he was going to accuse of child molestation, then that was something to worry about at another point in time.

-----

They did a once-a-month movie night together, because they had to, otherwise they just wouldn’t see each other anymore, even if they all went to college in New York. Not that they ever watched movies, but these trio meetings came in handy from time to time.

Mostly because Peter was just really, really bad at this superhero secret thing, and Friends Who Knew The Secret weren’t easy to come by when he was supposed to Keep The Secret.

“Wait, so you’re just gonna ask him to meet up with you and straight up lie?” Ned had a big-eyed look of shock on his face, and his handful of popcorn stopped halfway in its track to his mouth. “Dude, do you have any kind of plan B for this?”

Peter hung his head off of the edge of his bed, as he watched the door opposite upside down. “Nope.”

“And what if he says no? I mean, it’s Tony Stark.”

The Parker Worry Line™ made its way onto Peter’s forehead, because shoot, Ned did have a point there - but MJ scoffed from where she was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall.

“Nah, if I understand how this dude works, then he’s just gonna be a rich baby rapist in his eyes. But, like, highly protected. I don’t know, maybe you’ll have to pay for that one after all.”

Ned crunched thoughtfully on his popcorn. “Maybe pick someone a little less rich? With a little less body guards, and stuff?”

The Worry Line™ became deeper. “Then they’re going to be super dead, because he’s going to super kill them.”

“I think Stark is a pretty good one, actually,” said MJ. “You can always try. Worst case scenario, he says no. No harm done.”

That was something, at least. Still, something kept nagging at the back of Peter’s mind. “What if he doesn’t believe me? What if he just, y’know. Sees right through me, and then stabs me again?”

MJ shrugged. “Then you cry.”

“You can fake cry?” Ned sounded impressed. MJ just shrugged again, but looked a little more pleased with herself. “That’s awesome!”

Peter didn’t feel awesome. “Yeah, but guys - I can’t fake cry. I can’t fake anything. Couldn’t even tell May that that phone number was from a girl, and now she thinks I’m having this big sexuality crisis.”

Ned laughed. MJ did a vague mouth shrug. “Maybe. Hey, dude, do you like guys?”

“Not the issue right now, Michelle.”

“Deflecting the question.”

Peter grabbed his head pillow and flung it at her. She caught it before it could hit her in the head, then blew a raspberry at him.

“How about I pencil in the big college gay phase after Deadpool’s behind bars? If he hasn’t killed me by then? Because guys, I don’t think you understand that he has already almost done that once. Like, he’s totally up for it! He could do that! That’s a real option!”

Ned’s warm, damp hand awkwardly patted his knee on the bed, but MJ’s upside down face lit up. “There we go! Use that fear! If he doesn’t believe you, just think super hard about how he’s definitely going to kill you and I bet you fifty bucks that you’re crying in ten seconds straight.”

“Hey! That’s so -”

Helpful, actually.

Huh.

Well, there it was. There was the plan.

-----

It took Deadpool a whopping seven minutes to reply to Peter’s text, because apparently assassins had nothing better to do.

Hey! This is Peter, from the shop, a couple of days ago? I think I actually want to talk to you about that person I mentioned. Is that okay? -Peter

hi!! yeah sure if u come by at sister margaret’s @ 2330 2nite we can chat

Sister Margaret’s. Peter grabbed his laptop from his desk and sat down on his bed again, waiting patiently until it was on and loaded and ready to search where the heck that was.

No results that came up. Peter frowned.

Where is Sister Margaret’s? And what is it? -Peter

The answer came almost immediately.

its a bar on plymouth & bridge, brooklyn, real cozy

Right. Peter rubbed his neck.

I can’t get into bars, I’m eighteen. -Peter

bartender is a buddy of mine, they dont care as long as ur all safe with me

A bar that was owned by a friend of Deadpool’s, who’d let in minors as long as they were under the protection of someone so heavily armed that they’d put the military to shame. Yeah, that sounded reasonable. Totally safe.

God, he was so screwed.

See you there tonight, then. -Peter

can’t wait!!!!

-----

Sneaking out of the house at 10:30 PM wasn’t the hardest bit. Getting the subway from Queens to Brooklyn also wasn’t the hardest bit. Strutting through a bad part of town after dark, by himself, without anything to defend himself except his own two poor fists, also wasn’t the hardest bit.

The hardest bit was actually going inside. Physically. Just, opening the door of the bar. That was the one thing that Peter, with all his superpowers and his bravado and his heroism, just couldn’t bring himself to do.

See, there were some places you knew you had no business setting foot in. They had a wrong vibe. Wrong smell, wrong sound, wrong atmosphere - and then there were places that told your instincts to run the hell away while you still can, and this bar? This bar. This effing bar. This was one of those places.

Honestly, Peter was about to turn around and get the F out, when his phone vibrated in his pocket, and he only just caught himself from jumping up and karate chopping all around him, in the empty street, just in case.

u there? im inside so if any1 bothers u when u come in, say ur with deadpool and theyll fuck off

Very soothing.

… actually, it really was kind of soothing. Yeah, the place had a bad vibe, but you know who had a worse vibe? Deadpool. And he was on his side now, at least temporarily.

The door creaked a bit as Peter opened it, but it was largely washed out by the low-pitched, grumbling voices inside.

Voices that very, very quickly faded as Peter stepped in, arms crossed, having never felt so uncomfortable in his whole entire life. And he was a teenager. The past years had all been uncomfortable.

It smelled of beer and urine and old smoke. And blood. It also smelled of blood.

“Wrong bar, kid,” an old man spat, seated somewhere at the other end of the bar. Most of the people here were middle aged men, come to think of it. Most with tattoos, a bunch of them with scars too. Peter felt terrified. There were a handful of women, too, none of them with friendly faces; they terrified him more. “Turn around and fuck off.”

God, he missed Karen. He needed his suit. Always felt safer in his suit.

“Petey!” a familiar voice piped up, from somewhere in a corner. His eyes flitted over there immediately; the red shape sitting in the booth was a way bigger relief than he really ought to be. “Nothing to see here, folks, just ‘nuther angsty teen who wants to get a bully beaten up, proceed with your shady shit.”

They took a couple more seconds, but they eventually did proceed with their shady business, because the bass rumble started up again, even if Peter still felt like all eyes were fixed on him and him alone. He didn’t even dare to move from the doorway (at least there he had an eye on everyone, and he could get out super quick if he needed to) until Deadpool came over, placed a gloved hand on his upper back and guided him through the crowd of angry starers until they were back at his booth.

The booth also reeked of beer. Peter decided that as far as first bar experiences went, this was not a great one.

“Sooo,” began Deadpool, way too loud, at the very least loud enough for half the bar to hear. “I hope that no one bothered you, or I might have to run off for some little chats first.”

That threat was so thinly veiled that the veil was practically cling wrap. Peter resisted the urge to try and disappear into the wall (now, that’d be a cool superpower to have in situations like these), which turned out to be a good plan, because a lot of people very suddenly looked away from their booth, like, bam. Privacy.

Deadpool’s lenses narrowed a bit in a way that made Peter think he might’ve been smiling. Maybe he was. “Good. So, let’s start spillin’.”

Peter took a couple of moments to try and find his words. He could do this. He could do this.

Even if he could already tell that Deadpool was carrying at least five loaded weapons. And those swords. Probably the lethal stabby thingy too.

When the silence stretched on for too long, Deadpool’s lenses got bigger and he genuinely put his hands up next to his head, doing the ‘I am super duper not trying to attack you’ pose. “I mean a name, Petey, I don’t wanna force the whole shit story outta you. Just… tell me vaguely what they did and how old you were, and we’re golden, we’re good.”

Right. Okay. Peter braced himself, cleared his throat, and tried to get his mental MJ support coach activated, in the horrible absence of Karen. “It’s kind of a famous guy.”

Deadpool folded his hands very carefully under his chin. “Kind of famous guys have been found dead before under strange circumstances. Ain’t nothing to be worried about.”

There was a knot forming in his stomach at the mental picture of Mr. Stark’s stuff being cut off, the way the other guy’s had been. Mental MJ sassed at it, but stomach knots weren’t that sensitive to sass.

“I don’t want him to die,” Peter eventually blabbed. Dumbly. Stupidly.

For a moment, Deadpool looked just as lost as Peter felt. “... then what do you want?”

“I don’t know.” That was true, at least.

He needed MJ here.

Cry, her voice hissed at him. When in doubt, cry, because you’re totally going to die tonight.

Now the knot was in his throat instead, and - well, how about that. Fine, okay, maybe Peter’s hands were shaking and his head was fuzzy and he was being totally and completely uncool right now, but he was crying too, and that was what mattered.

Through the haze of his tears and upwelling sobs, Peter could see Deadpool’s mask’s expressions go from confused to worried to uncomfortable real quick.

“Hey,” he said gently. “It’s okay, it’s all fine.”

Peter shook his head rapidly. No, nope, he needed this panic, he needed it badly. “‘s’not fine.”

There was an awkward non-silence for a moment where Peter’s breaths got embarrassingly uneven, and the folks in the bar were all clearly whispering about them, but then Deadpool cleared his throat again.

“We can also out him.”

Peter’s gaze flicked up, and he quickly wiped at his eyes. “Out him?”

“You said he was fairly famous, right? What’d he do to you?”

Uh. Well. Accused him of not knowing how taxes worked. “He… touched me?”

That luckily seemed to be enough, because Deadpool gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up. “There we go! See, the big weakness with famous people is that so many people know them. The more famous, the easier it is to wreck their lives, because you can just drag it all out in the open, you know? And then, bam, nobody wants to associate with them anymore. Remember Weinstein? Spacey? They’re done, now. Goodbye. Lives over, even if they’re still alive.”

That did sound good. No actual, physical damage done, just a bit more work for his PR team -

Except that it wouldn’t include Deadpool getting close to Mr. Stark at all, and that was the whole point of this thing, wasn’t it? So close.

“Actually, I was thinking, maybe… like, maybe you could beat him up a little? Break his nose, or something? I don’t want him to die, you know, just… hurt.”

He had no idea what kind of expression Peter was expecting on Wade’s mask - maybe pity? Surprise? Disappointment? But no, what he got was way different. What he got was so intense.

That was anger.

“Is he someone close to you?” Deadpool’s voice was clipped, overly controlled, cold. “Family member? Teacher?”

Uh. “Family friend,” was what Peter settled on, because that was almost true. Mr. Stark did like May. “And kinda my employer? I was, uh. His intern? Yeah, his intern. For a while.”

Deadpool’s gloved hands folded together under his chin again. Then, after a second, they tensed, and his knuckles cracked. Loudly. “Oh, I can beat him up a little, that’s no problem at all.”

Peter figured that this was probably the point where he’d shake with relief, if he’d ever stopped shaking at all. Now he was just smiling like an idiot. “Really? Oh, thank God.”

Deadpool’s masked head tilted a little bit, but he stayed silent. Very silent. Very silent for quite a while there, actually, to the point where Peter could almost taste the insanity.

Also to the point where Peter started to become Seriously Worried if he had just screwed up royally. Maybe he could cry again if he just pinched his leg real hard under the table.

Then, Deadpool suddenly snapped his head up again, and his lenses crinkled into what Peter now definitely thought was a smile. “Yeah! No problem. Okidoke. Sounds good. So, could ya just give me all the info you have on this guy? Makes the job easier. Name, address, office hours, that kinda stuff.”

“Uh.” Right, well. Here we go. “It’s Tony Stark.”

Deadpool froze.

“You probably heard of him?” Peter added lamely, because whoah, yes, duh, everyone in the USA knew Tony Stark. He knew that Deadpool knew Tony Stark, of course, but even if he hadn’t been a hero and hadn’t known that stuff, it would have been safe to assume Deadpool had heard of him. “His office hours vary, though. I dunno.” A small silence fell, before Peter started to fidget in his seat. “Is… is he too much? Because you don’t have to, if you don’t wanna, I just - because you were so nice in the shop the other day, I figured that maybe his name and stuff wouldn’t matter that much, and -”

“I’ll do it,” Deadpool interrupted him. “For free, I’ll do it.”

Peter blinked a couple times. This felt suspiciously easy. “Really? Despite all the security and stuff?”

Deadpool laughed. It didn’t sound sincere. “Oh, honey, security is what makes it challenging. That’s the fun bit. Well, not as fun as the bones cracking under my fists thing, but I guess it’s a close second.”

Oh. Well, then. There was a vague sense of relief in his stomach, but it was definitely mixed with some confusion and apprehension. “Okay? So… uh. How long would that take, then?”

Deadpool stroked his masked chin with his gloved hand, making weird noises with the rubbing leather. “With his security details? Let’s give it a couple of weeks. Need to find a proper way to get in and get out, but I’m aiming to get it done ASAP.”

“Oh.” Peter rubbed his hands together under the table, trying to stop himself from picking at his shirt or something. “Alright, then.”

Deadpool’s lenses did the smile thing. “Sounds like a plan. Want me to walk you to the subway?”

Peter tried to save face from the crowd that was definitely eavesdropping and said no, before giving him a weird handshake (apparently that wasn’t something that was done a lot in this business - the more you know, he supposed) and trying to walk as coolly and collected (while at the same time as quick) as possible, out of the bar.

If Deadpool just happened to show up two minutes later because he “had to go to the subway anyway”, then, well. Peter wasn’t going to complain.

-----

Life got suspiciously quiet and normal after that. For a week straight, Peter heard nothing from Deadpool at all, neither did anything unusual appear on the news. He slept enough, he wasn’t behind on any of his course work, his life was basically on track - and still, he just felt restless. Of course he was restless, because he was waiting for this whole thing to get into motion, and as of right now, everything was just standing very, very still.

Until eight days after the bar.

Peter was studying at the kitchen table; May was watching the news on the couch. Some item about the Avengers and a possible sighting of Captain America somewhere. May threw a meaningful look over her shoulder at him; Peter only shrugged.

“Only met him once, I know just as much as you do.”

Then, the screen switched to an interview in front of the Avengers building. It was a cloudy day; Mr. Stark was still wearing sunglasses. No signs of any broken noses, though. He seemed fine.

Peter’s phone buzzed.

u watching the news?

Deadpool’s number. Peter had a strange feeling about this.

Yes. He looks fine. -Peter

havent gotten around to it yet, sorry. wanna get tacos?

The strange feeling intensified.

Together? Tacos? Now?

Deadpool’s response took longer than normal. Almost a full minute of typing, even if all that came out was: better than looking @ his disgusting mug

Oh. Like that. Right.

Deadpool was distracting him. That was what was going on. Deadpool was watching the news and was trying to push away any memories Peter had of Mr. Stark by inviting him out for tacos, like that was somehow part of his job too, like that was a normal thing that an assassin would do for a not-quite-client.

Huh.

It sounded like a risk. More time around him meant more chances to be exposed, but at the same time, maybe it would help? Maybe bonding with Deadpool wasn’t such a bad thing when you wanted the guy to not disappear. At least it sounded like it was worth a shot.

Thanks. Sounds good. -Peter

“May?”

“Hm?”

“I won’t be eating in tonight.”

May looked around properly now, with one raised eyebrow. “Oh? Got plans?”

“Ned invited me over,” Peter lied, and whoah, this lie thing was going a lot smoother now than he had ever intended it to. He’d feel guilty if he wasn’t so proud.

Maybe a bit too proud too soon, because May’s eyebrow rose higher. “Suuure.”

Oh. “No, really!”

“Uh-huh.”

Okay, well. He could always try it from another angle, then. “It’s the phone number guy,” he admitted, and hey, at least he wasn’t lying now. “His name is -” uh, “- Dennis. He’s nice. We’re going out for tacos.”

May’s expression softened. “There we go. You could just tell me, y’know. I’m cool. I’m hip. I get it.”

Peter’s internal MJ cried with laughter at the image of May saying she’s hip, but he couldn’t exactly completely disagree. She really did think she got it. Actually, if it’d all been real, Peter was pretty sure he’d consider himself lucky to have an aunt who’d react like that.

Now, he just grabbed his jacket and waved at her from the door as he hopped outside, right into the rain, to the subway.

-----

“Ohhh! Fuck, just the smell. Smell these, Petey. Smell it. This is heaven in food form, you can eat heaven! How about that! God bless the USA!”

So that whole idea of Deadpool heroically distracting Peter from his trauma?

Fake news. That dude just wanted tacos.

No, but seriously. This was a very serious conclusion that Peter drew after spending ten minutes waiting with him for their order at the tex mex joint that Deadpool had dragged him off to. It was like waiting with a dog in the butcher’s shop, with its tail wagging so hard that you’d get concerned that sometime soon, it’d fall off. Just like that.

With that in mind, Peter did consider himself lucky that no part of Deadpool had fallen off by the time they got their food and sat down somewhere in the corner of the room, at a plastic table with plastic chairs. Fine dining here, definitely.

Okay, well. If he was being completely honest, these were exactly the kind of restaurants Peter preferred, too.

“Oh, by the way - I got some shit underneath this mask that you really don’t wanna see when you’re eating, but if you just… like, keep your eyes on your plate? Then we’re all good if I lift this up enough to eat.” Deadpool gave kind of a sheepish grin - or at least, that was what Peter assumed. Still hard to tell under that mask. “There’s like, well. Cancer. Just, everywhere. Like somebody just spilled a whole barrel of death over me. Bon appetit.”

That was basically all the warning he got before Deadpool ducked his head down, rucked his mask up to his nose, and began wolfing down the absolute mountain of soft shell tacos that he’d ordered.

“Hungry?” Peter guessed lamely.

“Famished,” Deadpool confirmed, apparently with his mouth full. “Haven’t eaten in three days.”

Peter’s hand full of taco stopped right in front of his mouth, before he put it down again. “Excuse me?”

“Got a job in Siberia. They ain’t got a McDonald’s on every street corner, so to speak. They also haven’t got street corners.”

Okay, now, that was one of those things where Peter felt like it just wasn’t true, but then again, he just didn’t quite know enough about Siberia to really protest it, so he let it slip. “But three days no food? That’s not healthy, DP.”

Deadpool looked up, and for the first time, Peter saw half his face; scarred, reddish, bumpy, strangely wet-looking, but with a tentative smile playing on his lips. “You spelled my nickname right!”

He took another bite of his taco, and more wet-looking stuff dripped down his chin. Ah, so that was just sauce, then. Gross, but not body-gross. Just manners-gross. Automatically, Peter made a vague ‘wipe your face’ gesture.

One that Deadpool definitely did not understand. “Fuck,” he swore, as he ducked his face down again. “‘m sorry, I told you not to look! Disgusting, right? A face not even a mother could love. Ugh.”

What? “Nonono, dude, no, you just have sauce, like, everywhere. That’s pretty gross, yeah, but your face is okay.”

Slowly, very slowly, Deadpool looked up again. “Wait, for real?”

Peter tried to picture the penis chopping man he’d met earlier this month, and put him in the same context as this guy, hungry and insecure and unhappy with his face. Honestly, Peter almost started to feel a bit bad for him.

“I mean, it’s not that bad? It’s just scarring. All superheroes have some sort of weepy backstory, right? I’m guessing that that was yours?”

Deadpool grinned his surprisingly straight and white teeth bare, but Peter couldn’t see his eyes to confirm whether that was sincere or not. “I’m no superhero, but that was definitely mine. Booh, bah, tragic, etcetera. But I’m used to it by now, Petey. You can just say it sucks and you won’t hurt my tiny puppy feelings. I’ve been living with this mug for ages, I know what it looks like.”

Peter said nothing, just to test how Deadpool would react - and yeah, well, he didn’t react at all. He just sat there, waiting anxiously for him to say something, eventually even squirming in his seat, until Peter was 100% convinced that he had a clear image of what his tiny puppy feelings really looked like.

He’d never thought he would feel bad for the person who put a blade in his stomach.

“Here.” He took three napkins out of the napkin dispenser on their table, and handed them over. “You look fine, stop eating like a three year old.”

Deadpool hesitated, smiled vaguely, thanked him, and didn’t look up without pulling his mask down for the rest of the evening.

-----

The taco thing happened four more times in the course of the next three weeks. Coincidentally, it was still every time that there was an item about Tony Stark on the news; the moment his face was shown, Peter’s phone started to buzz. Sometimes just with a text, sometimes with an invitation to go out - and sometimes with a funny cat video, or something like that.

Either way, Deadpool put in a lot of effort over the next few weeks, and the worst part was, Peter was starting to like him.

Sure, it was a tentative liking. It was the kind of liking that still wavered very much when he made a wrong move and hurt his side. It was the kind of liking that came with a lot of “that’s rude to say” and “you can’t do that to another person, DP”, but no matter how hard he tried to deny it, it turned out that hanging out with Deadpool was actually kind of fun. Even if it was just to gain his trust, even if he had Ulterior Motives™, it was nice. Turned out that Deadpool was really one of those ‘have to get to know him’ people.

Not that he knew that much about him, after three weeks. His knowledge of him kind of extended to his fondness of foods with mountains of sodium, the fact that his singing voice was pretty okay (even if the sound effects he made with his mouth were completely ridiculous), he did some spot on celebrity impressions, could talk for literal hours about nineties cartoons, was neither a cat person nor a dog person, and most of all, he really, really tried.

Maybe that was the thing that stuck with Peter the most. Even if it rarely seemed like Deadpool was actually listening (because he also had a tendency to jump from one topic onto another), he always listened when Peter talked, or at least kept his mouth shut and stared. Probably part of the whole “make him feel safe and appreciated” spiel he was doing right now, but for some reason, it was working. At the very least, it distracted him from that strange guilt he felt whenever he thought too long about what he was actually doing to Mr. Stark to prove a point.

After all, there was a pretty solid chance that Deadpool could get in a few real punches before security would grab him. He seemed pretty serious about the “working out a way to get to Tony personally” brief of his job. Maybe it was only right that Peter felt a bit worried at times.

“So.” Peter looked up at the night sky from where he lay on the grass of some park close by. He couldn’t see any stars because of the light pollution, but it was vaguely dark, so that was something. “How is, uh… how’s our project coming along?”

Deadpool lied next to him, also looking up, hands splayed over his stomach. If Peter had thought that he usually ate a lot, he was sorely mistaken compared to Deadpool; apparently he had some kind of generative powers (which explained the comeback of the missing arm) that burned up so many calories, constantly, that he was basically a bottomless pit.

“Planning to strike in five days,” Deadpool simply said, almost cheerfully. “It’s pretty watertight, actually. Honestly. We’re at a point where I could kill him and walk out through the front door at this point, that’s how secure it all is.”

Oh. Something very uncomfortable started to curl in Peter’s stomach. “Really?”

Deadpool turned his head. “Would you like me to?” His voice was completely serious, too.

No. Nu-uh. “Uh.” Peter blinked a few times. “No, thanks.”

Deadpool just huffed a little and looked up at the washed out night sky again. “Your loss. He totally would’ve deserved it, too. I mean, we never clicked, y’know? But knowing this? Shoulda put a bullet through his brain aaaages ago.”

Oh God, this was not how he’d planned this. He knew that Deadpool was good, but he wasn’t supposed to be this good. No one was supposed to be this good at that kind of job. “Just a beating up,” he protested weakly, and he noticed that his voice had gone all high again. “Please?”

Deadpool remained silent for an unusual amount of time, before finally asking: “Why do you keep protecting him, after what he did?”

Right. Peter folded his arms over his chest, suddenly wanting to go home. “He could also be nice.”

“He assaulted you.”

“Not often!” More like never, but he couldn’t say that, even though he really, really wanted to right now. “Just… a couple of times? He’s just bad at boundaries.”

Deadpool scoffed. It wasn’t hard to tell that he was angry, but it was hard to respond to it, because every time he got all worked up, it was like he was an entirely different person. Peter liked cheerful, unpredictable Deadpool. But angry, unpredictable Deadpool? Completely terrifying.

“Then I guess he’s gonna need to learn some boundaries, and he better learns them properly. Petey, I don’t know if anyone’s told you this, but - molesting someone? Especially a minor? That’s a pretty solid fucking boundary that any sane person would just know. And hey, I don’t count myself as sane, and even I know.”

It was probably meant to be a consolation, but Peter’s mind was racing. He had to tip off Happy. Five days - that’d be a Sunday. Deadpool was going to strike on Sunday. Mr. Stark needed to be prepared, but without looking too prepared, and -

This was going to get messy. It already was.

“Having second thoughts?” Deadpool guessed. His voice was gentler now, with that little ‘approaching a small, hurt baby animal’ edge to it. “You can have second thoughts, if you wanna.”

Yeah, a thousand times yes. “Nope.” Parker, that was your shot! “I just… I want to get this over with.”

Something warm and heavy and leathery patted over his hand on the grass a couple of times, and despite everything, despite the fact that that exact hand was all the reason behind his worries, Peter still felt comforted. “All gonna be over soon, Petey. Don’t you worry your little head about it.”

-----

Peter worried his little head about it.

Happy, I got some VERY IMPORTANT INFO for Mr. Stark. -Peter

It took Happy a full hour to reply. He’d gotten spoiled from Deadpool’s reaction times.

He’s busy. H.

Sure. Of course he was.

It’s got to do with Deadpool. -Peter

This time, the reply came instantly.

He told you not to interfere, so don’t interfere. H.

Too late. Deadpool’s going to try and attack him next Sunday, so get ready. -Peter

WHAT ARE YOU DOING???? H.

PETER REPLY. H.

PETER. H.

Just tell him? I don’t want him to actually get hurt. -Peter

YOU’RE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE. H.

Just tell him!!! -Peter

He’s out. H.

Text him? -Peter

Already did. Don’t expect your suit back anytime soon. H.

Joke’s on Happy, actually, Peter thought bitterly, because hah. He wasn’t expecting his suit back anytime soon anyway. That ship had sailed weeks ago.

-----

He thought that would be the end of it until Sunday. A rookie mistake.

It was only three hours later when he got another text from Happy, which was strange, because Happy was one of those people that you had to text forty-five times in a row before he deemed it necessary to respond, usually. But not this time.

Do you know where Deadpool is? H.

Right. It had only taken him three hours to ask that question, huh?

No. -Peter

Then he thought that would be the end of that. Another mistake.

Stark is missing. H.

Stark was missing. Mr. Stark was missing. A sudden and cold feeling of dread settled in the pit of his stomach; even with all his strangeness and sudden decisions, Mr. Stark didn’t just go missing. That was just something he didn’t do. But it wasn’t Sunday, though, and it was all supposed to happen on Sunday -

Another text. Not from Happy.

hey petey! got u a surprise. meet me @ my place? x

Oh.

Oh, cazzo.

-----

Peter didn’t know the address, he just knew how to get there, from the very few occasions where Peter had trotted along with Deadpool to pick up some cash from his place to buy food with. Which, in hindsight, should’ve been a red flag by itself. He was pretty sure that normal assassins (“mercenaries!” he heard his internal Deadpool correct) didn’t show any of their clients where they lived, because, well. That just sounded like a dumb plan in general.

So, the best he could do was just. Well. To go there. He put his phone’s GPS tracker on, though, and shot Happy a quick text saying meet me in 30 mins. -Peter. It should be enough to get there, at least.

He really, really, really wished he had his suit, right now.

The trip took forever. His legs felt like lead, even though he tried to walk as quickly as possible, because oh god, oh god, oh fuck, Mr. Stark was captured by possibly the most dangerous man Peter knew, and it was all his fault. He had done this.

Of course it wouldn’t have been Sunday. He was an idiot for believing that.

Passersby all seemed determined to walk in his way at the moment, to the point where he was actually pushing them out of the way as he ran, and ran, and ran a bit harder. Normally, the trip definitely took 30 minutes; now he was there in 25.

And his heart felt lodged somewhere in his throat. The door was open when he arrived; that was not good.

“Hello?” he called out softly. “Uh. Anyone home?”

There was no reply for a while, until he heard a muffled grunt, and then a chipper: “Sure, come on in! Close the door behind you!”

He didn’t want to, didn’t want to, didn’t want to, but he did. One step at a time, he got in, with shaking hands and a rapidly beating heart.

The room smelled like blood.

Fuck. Again.

“Sorry, it’s a bit, dark, but I thought that’d create more of an ambiance, you know?” came Deadpool’s voice from the other side of the room. Then, a light got switched on, and Peter nearly stumbled back.

Mr. Stark was tied to a chair in the middle of the living room, gagged by his own tie and what appeared to be a dirty sock, with a dried blood stream coming from his nose and one eye so swollen that Peter wasn’t quite sure if there was actually still an eyeball behind all that eyelid. He was almost unrecognisable, especially with the way his head was lamely hanging forward.

Deadpool looked exceptionally pleased. “I also broke, like, half his ribs.”

“Oh my God,” was all Peter said, before turning and throwing up in a dead plant’s pot.

Mr. Stark groaned, then slowly tried to lift up his head. “Ee-uh?”

Deadpool grabbed a handful of his hair, and yanked his head straight up. “Yep! Bingo, that’s the one! You know, the one you couldn’t keep your awful go ddamned hands off. Hey, rich boy, do you know how kind this boy has been to you? Because I’ve been asking again and again if I could just, y’know, kill you, but he kept saying no. And ain’t that generous? That’s super generous. That’s like, Thanksgiving level generous.”

A weak frown formed on Stark’s forehead. “Huh?”

“Psh.” Deadpool let go of his hair again, causing Mr. Stark’s head to drop forward. “Don’t act dumb, because - Jesus, if you’re gonna do it, at least own it. I think I’m gonna throw up too, you know? I’ve seen a loooot of bad people in my time, like, loads, but none of ‘em disgust me as much as you do, with your fame and your money and your sick fucking actions.”

Mr. Stark started to brabble a bit, but the gag worked too well to make actual sense of it. Peter stood frozen. Oh, this had gone wrong. This had gone so wrong. Where was Happy?

“You know what? Sorry, this just ain’t enough.” Deadpool stepped away, walked over to the set of drawers underneath the television, and fished a large bat out of nowhere. “I can’t fucking believe -”

“No!” Peter shouted out. Okay, so his brain was back into function. Good. Now he just had to keep it that way. He stepped in, between Deadpool and Mr. Stark, and spread his arms. “It’s… it’s done, DP, we can… you can stop now. He - he learned his lesson, it’s good.”

For a few tense seconds, no one said anything. Then, Deadpool’s voice piped up, very, very gently. “Hey, hey, it’s okay. Don’t cry.”

He wasn’t crying. He wasn’t, he - oh. Peter wiped the wetness off of his cheeks. “I’m fine.”

But Deadpool didn’t listen. Instead, he dropped the bat and carefully, almost like he was saying ‘you can get out whenever you want! Not gonna touch you if you hate it!’, he pulled him into a hug.

Peter found it kind of terrifying that the man that was behind his state of panic, could also settle it so quickly.

They just stood there, maybe for seconds, maybe for a couple of minutes, maybe for half an hour. At the very least, Peter stood there with his head leaned against a surprisingly solid and warm chest for long enough that he could somehow pretend that things were under control again. It’d all be okay. Happy would be here in a bit, and Deadpool would just - well. He’d go to jail, probably, but that meant that he was safe too, and if that made Peter feel guilty, then he was an expert at pushing that way the hell down.

Things were gonna be okay, he told himself.

Things were gonna be okay.

-----

Things were gonna be okay, right up to the point where Happy’s team stormed in and the dream was crushed.

It all happened kind of quickly, and keep in mind, Peter was used to things happening quickly.

First, there was the smoke bomb. Then, shouting commands, from outside. Deadpool’s arms fixed around him tighter, as he was suddenly ushered out to the back door - where Happy’s team was already posted, too.

“They just want me,” Deadpool told him. “I’m gonna go to the front - don’t go out, just stand in the kitchen and say you’re unarmed and that I kept you here. Do not under any circumstance -”

Peter felt Deadpool being jerked away from him, even if he couldn’t see it. He was pulled away too, by different arms, just as strong but rougher, and everything was smokey and hazy and even with his Spidey strength he couldn’t get himself loose and -

And then they were standing outside, where the air was clear, and the three men containing him let go of him instantly. Happy was already standing on the sidewalk; a couple of feet ahead, there was a whole group trying to get Deadpool to the ground. None too gently, either.

“You okay, kid?” Happy asked, and even through the haze of the adrenaline and shock, Peter vaguely noted that that was a rare thing for him to ask.

“I’m good,” he said breathily.

“Peter!” came a rough voice from a couple of feet ahead, and immediately, Peter felt the urge to run over to him.

Which was ridiculous. Deadpool was a mercenary. Deadpool was a mercenary. Deadpool was a mercenary, and he wasn’t going to feel guilty about getting him behind bars. He wasn’t going to help him.

But it wasn’t a plea for help. “Peter!” came that same voice again. “For fuck’s sake, run!”

Oh.

Deadpool didn’t want help. He wanted him to save himself.

Jesus, this man caused some emotional rollercoasters.

“Peter.” This time it wasn’t Deadpool, and it took Peter a second to register that it was coming from behind the smoke of the door opening. Slowly but surely, Mr. Stark limped out, supported by two men in full gear. “When… I said… do not go after… after Deadpool - what did you - what did you think I said?”

Even through one normal eye, Mr. Stark’s Disapproving Look was intense. Oh, God. Oh, God.

None of this had gone well.

“Shut your whore mouth, pedo!” Peter heard DP bark. They had him on the ground, now; one of the men had even managed to pull his mask off.

That just felt unnecessary. Deadpool’s face was private.

“Yeah, Wade, that was all a load of bull,” Happy informed him. “Peter here is just a dumb kid trying to suck up to his boss by reelin’ you in.”

Something in Deadpool’s open expression turned cold. His eyes fixed on Peter instead - they were brown. Very human. Very human, brown eyes.

Peter could’ve sworn he saw hurt in there, somewhere. “Really?”

Peter’s tongue was dead. What was he supposed to say to that? “I’m so sorry.”

That seemed appropriate.

Judging from Deadpool’s reaction, they were also exactly the words he didn’t want to hear. He looked away.

Tiny puppy feelings. If you looked closely, there they were.

“Well, then I’m off,” Deadpool suddenly concluded, and before anyone could really stop him, he struggled his way out of the men’s grip and shot at each and every single one of them as he ran off, moving out of sight so quickly that Peter’s brain had some difficulty processing how on earth that had just happened.

Deadpool had escaped. Just like that.

“Fuck,” Mr. Stark swore. “Thanks a lot.”

“They’ll find him, right?” Peter heard himself ask, and if his head was rooting for another outcome, he carefully kept that quiet.

“I fucking hope so,” Happy replied.

No matter how much he wanted to, Peter couldn’t bring himself to agree.

-----

It was the last he saw of him for eighteen months.

Chapter Text

The next time Peter ran into Deadpool, it was under slightly different circumstances.

Firstly, it was just a whole lot colder, by the end of November. It was freezing, actually, to a point where if Peter had to be honest with himself, he’d floored himself a couple of times already with awkward, slippery landings and bad web coordination, getting his new suit all wet. Turned out that his Spidey senses had limited experience with cold weather.

Secondly, it was louder. It, in this case, being Deadpool himself.

“Oh - oh! Look at that, holy damn! That happy to see me, huh?” came from an alley nearby - and Peter’s heart skipped a beat.

He knew that voice.

He hadn’t heard that voice in a long, long time.

“You know, I never would’ve thought that you’d be carrying that around in pants, but hey, I’m modern! Whatever stuff a pretty lady like you has got down there, none of my business, right? I’m cool with any tools, as long as you know how to use ‘em - ow.”

“You talk too much,” replied a woman’s voice. She had an accent that Peter couldn’t quite place, but there was a strange lilt to it, almost French. Then, there was a soft click. “That will get you in trouble.”

They weren’t in the first alleyway he looked, but they definitely were in the second, and Peter’s heart was beating like crazy as he peered around the corner.

Yep, that was Deadpool. Definitely Deadpool. Super surely Deadpool, pressed up against a urine stained wall by a woman that looked like she was even shorter than Peter was, but with an impressive gun in her hands that she was poking against Deadpool’s lower back.

A cocked gun, apparently. She was ready to shoot. Uh oh.

“Hey, lady!” Peter yelled out.

Because he was a dumb idiot, apparently.

The lady turned around and shot three rounds at him, that only just bounced off the corner off the wall that Peter jumped behind. If he squealed at all, it was so soft that no one would ever have noticed.

“Why does everyone always shoot me when I say ‘hey’?” It was getting a little out of hand, in all honesty. “I’m just polite! That’s a normal human greeting!”

There was shuffling in the alleyway, but Peter shot a web to the other side of the alley and went all the way up before Lady McGun could turn around the corner and get him (which she wasn’t pleased about, judging from some noises down there). It was only when he was on the roof that he finally poked his head out again.

“I don’t know what was going on there, but I don’t like it when people shoot guns!” he shouted down. “So! Lady! Drop the gun!”

Lady McGun looked up immediately, and Peter scurried back because he was an adult, and he had some life experience by now and he Knew What Was About To Happen, but once again, there were no bullets flying over his head. There was nothing.

“Wait,” the lady said. “You’re telling me to drop my gun, but this turd is allowed to have all of his? He has a whole batch of them! He could arm an orphanage!”

Well.

That.

She wasn’t wrong.

“Don’t, though,” Peter protested lamely. “Don’t arm an orphanage.”

There was some more footstep sounds coming from the alleyway, then a sharp “Poolboy - you an orphan?”.

Deadpool laughed. “Well, y’know what? It’s actually kind of a complicated situation, but - oof, ah- there we go.”

When Peter looked back over the edge, it was suddenly Ms. Second Amendment who was hugging the pee wall, with one of Deadpool’s many, many guns against her back.

This was getting a bit out of hand, honestly.

“I am an orphan, actually! Hey, you, ninja boy who stole Spidey’s candy floss shooters, you an orphan?” he shouted up.

Peter blinked once, twice. “What do you - I am Spidey.”

There was a sudden silence, in which Deadpool turned his head up almost comically slow, and his lenses got wide as saucers. “Spidey?! In the flesh?! I thought I’d killed you! I cried over your plushie!”

What? “You have my plushie?”

But Deadpool frowned. “What about your tushie?”

“My plushie!

“You’re up really high!” Deadpool made a few vague gestures at his ears. “These hearin’ things ain’t super! I’m old! Get down!”

Ha, yeah, right. “Last time I did that, you stabbed me.”

Deadpool tilted his head to the side. “What, don’t wanna get stabbed in the tushie?”

A rare shudder went down Peter’s spine, as he tried hard to not picture that. “No, thank you! Preferably not!”

Deadpool just shrugged. “Worth a shot. If I shoot this one, would you interfere again?”

If there were any words that got Peter right back into hyper alert, those words would be it. His fingers hovered over the ejection button on his webshooters. “Uh, yeah. I would.”

At that, Deadpool just grumbled something, then kicked the wall next to Ms. Gun. “Then what? We can’t just let her go. This is a mean bitch, Spidey, and I don’t mean that in the sexist way, just in the ‘you’re a god awful fucking DOG’ way.”

Wait, he was listening? What the fuck had happened in the past year? “What did she do?”

“She’s part of a mean girls club.” Deadpool shrugged, then pressed the gun a little firmer against her back. “Took most of ‘em out already, took me ages to track this piece of used toilet paper down… She’s just, ugh.”

“Mean?” Peter guessed.

“Mean,” Deadpool agreed. “I can’t even shoot her in the foot?”

God, just the idea of it gave Peter Bad Goosebumps. “I think I have a better plan.”

Slowly, with a fair “I’m coming down! Don’t shoot!” in advance, Peter abseiled the building again, until he landed in the alleyway. Then, he quickly webbed the lady against the wall completely. “D’you have, like, paper and pen in there somewhere?”

Deadpool carefully stepped away from the woman, then put his gun away in his belt, and looked right at Peter.

Whose stomach decidedly did not flip. He even smelled the same. Gunpowder, leather, sweat. Kind of greasy, maybe a little dirty, very distinctive. “In where?”

Right. That suit had no pockets. Anywhere. “Uh.”

“Kidding, Spides. Of course I got some, what else can I doodle on?” He pulled a mini notebook and a pen from his belt, and handed them over.

“Right.” Okay, yeah, this was nice. “Do you have any… bigger paper, though?”

“Bigger paper?”

“To make a sign? Like, ‘found - evil criminal’?” Okay, saying it out loud, it made a lot more sense with stolen bikes, but Peter was going to take what he could get. “And then we call the police and get out of here before they arrive, y’know?”

Deadpool was quiet for a long moment (for Deadpool terms, so that was about two consecutive seconds), then grabbed the notebook and the pen out of Peter’s hands and started tearing pages out.

“What are you-”

“I’m doing your thing!” Deadpool interrupted, almost cheerfully, as he put two pieces of paper next to each other and against the wall. “Web me, Webz.”

Uh, pardon? “To… stick it?”

“Yeah!” Deadpool gave him a funny look. “That shit sticks, right? Saw it happening. Sticky stick stuff.”

Peter looked down at his web shooters; they were better than his first versions, yeah, but still a far cry from the stuff that Karen could do. “I don’t really control the… y’know. Portion size. That’s gonna go everywhere.”

Deadpool was quiet once more, before letting out an undignified snicker. “You always shoot such a big load, huh, Spidey?”

Oh.

Gross.

Seriously, Peter almost wished that Deadpool could see his face behind the balaclava, just to give him the Not Impressed look, but since that didn’t work, he’d just have to settle for shooting a web over his mouth.

“Uh,” Deadpool said. “See, that doesn’t work if you wear a mask? It’s just… now I just look dirty. Webs. Web. Look at me. Look. Does this look like I was a good little bitch and took it like a -”

“Oh my God, just shut up.”

It wasn’t even Peter who’d said it. The Trigger Happy Queen had her face squished against the gross wall with all the webbing around her, but still had the dignity to look properly annoyed. “They warned me you’d be mouthy, but I’ve seriously got a migraine, here.”

Peter absentmindedly scratched the back of his head. “Yeah, that could be the webs? They’re made of a bunch of chemicals that you’re not supposed to breathe in, and, uh, I guess webbing you like that would give anyone a headache. Sorry! Nothing permanent, though, I promise. Do you want some water, or -”

Something poked him hard in the side, and Peter let out a yelp. “Ow! What the hell -”

“Spidey. Spides.” Deadpool poked again, right on his stabbing scar, until Peter placed one hand on his side and used the other to bad Deadpool’s hands away. “Bad girl, remember? She can have a headache. She’s allowed to have a headache.”

“Yeah - what did she even do? Except for hang out with bad guys. Something the police can actually arrest her for?”

Then, something weird happened.

Deadpool shrugged.

But that was it. He just shrugged, looked away, turned around to try and pluck some of the webbing off. When ten seconds had passed and there was still no answer, Peter just turned to the lady - might as well try - who smiled.

“Nothing major,” she said. “My boss just kinda tortured and killed his wife.”

Oh.

Something very cold and very unsettling formed a knot in Peter’s stomach, but he had no time to really think about that, because suddenly, it was raining bullets.

Like, a TON of them.

And he reacted, he did, but by the time he had Deadpool’s arm firmly webbed against the wall and the gun kicked out of his hand, he was already looking at the nauseating sight of Ms. Gun’s headless torso, webbed against the wall, and the entirety of her head spread out on the wall behind it.

“Oh, fuck. Nonono, that wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“And Vanessa wasn’t supposed to die, but hey, what can you do,” said Deadpool, and there was something icy to his voice now, something grim and ugly that Peter hadn’t heard before. “Am I gonna have to stab you again, or can we just skip that part this time? I’ll leave the next drug dealer to get arrested, I promise.”

No. No, he couldn’t, because this was straight up murder (more than murder - this was brutal), but at the same time -

Deadpool looked deflated. Beaten to a degree that he hadn’t even seen from Back Then, during the Deadpool Fiasco of 2020, and it didn’t suit him in the slightest. There were some bad Tiny Puppy Feelings hidden behind all the gore on the wall, and okay, Peter hadn’t even known that the guy was married, but he remembered when May had lost Ben.

He’d never experienced heartbreak before, not really, but he’d sure seen it.

“We can skip that part,” he replied quietly, as he turned around to Deadpool once again. He didn’t even make an innuendo as Peter slipped his hand under the webbing to get a knife out of his belt, and the weird, uncomfortable feeling in Peter’s stomach got worse.

“Thanks,” Deadpool said briefly, as Peter cut him loose. “Sorry you had to see that. What’s up with the new suit?”

Peter looked down; okay, so, maybe his new suit wasn’t that cool. Mostly because it was just black leggings with a black, long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a balaclava with a mis-stitched webbing pattern on it, but he was a poor student, and Ned wasn’t the best seamster.

And, of course, he had blown every chance of getting Karen back after the Deadpool Fiasco.

“Black is the new black, I guess,” Peter simply replied. “Sorry about your wife.”

Deadpool said nothing, just stood still for a while before hitting the bloodied wall, hard. Something snapped; then, his wrist hung lamely, like it was broken, but Deadpool didn’t even react. “Yeah, so am I.”

And he left.

-----

The cold and unsettling thing in his stomach didn’t really melt. Not when he called the police to get the body, not when he tried to walk it off on the way home - not even when he threw his civvies back on and tried to cheer himself up at his favorite 24 hour pizza place.

“Wow, you sure as fuck look down,” said the woman behind the counter. “You alright, kid?”

Peter just forced the corners of his mouth to go up and fished around his pockets for his wallet. “Rough night.”

The woman pursed her lips at him. “I get you. You get them November blues too?”

What? “Uh, no. Not exactly? Just tonight. Just now. This is a rough night, not the other ones.”

“Alright, whatever you say. What can I get for ya?”

Peter stared at the backlit menu and felt his eyes scan aimlessly over the food options. None of them stuck. “Uh… just. I dunno? What’s your favorite?”

The woman stayed silent for a few long seconds, then leaned over the counter. “Can I be honest with you?”

Oh. She had some Opinions about pizza, apparently. “Sure, yeah, of course.”

“No food’s gonna help you with that pout,” she simply stated, then leaned back again and rested her hand on the counter. “No other customers, so, what’s up?”

Right.

Okay.

Just a stranger asking him about the mess in his head, totally normal, totally cool. A part of Peter was actually kind of touched that she cared; a much larger was warily aware of the fact that this was New York City.

This wasn’t normal.

The woman rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on, kid, cut it out. I’m from Texas, just spill.”

Peter did his very best not to feel incredibly caught, nor blush. “Oh, I- I just. Well.”

Okay, clear your throat, start again. “So a friend of mine lost his… uh, his wife...”

The pizza woman’s expression went from inquisitive to pity real fast. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

The uneasy feeling didn’t ease up. “I mean, I guess he’s not really a friend? He doesn’t really know me. Well, he does, but he doesn’t really like me - doesn’t matter. I didn’t even know he had a wife, but he’s lost her, and he’s really upset, and I don’t really know what to do.”

Pizza woman seemed to let it sink in for a bit, before she shifted to lean with both her hands over the countertop. “What do you want to do?”

 

Yeah, well, there was The Question. Peter kicked half-heartedly at some dust on the floor, and plucked a straw out of the thing full or straws to pick at. “I don’t know? It’s not really my place.”

“Kid. Hey.” Pizza woman snapped her fingers until he looked her in the eye again. “We’re not talking about that right now, are we? I just asked you a damn simple question. What do you want to do?”

Yeah, because that was a super simple question! Thanks, pizza woman! “How am I supposed to know? Just… I just want to help him! Or something! I don’t know, I just feel bad about it.”

Pizza woman clapped her hands. “Then there you have it, help him.”

“But he doesn’t like me.”

She crossed her arms. “Why not?”

Well. Because Peter almost got him arrested, and had him believe that he was a victim of child abuse, when he was really just a dumb kid who was trying to set him up by using his niceness against him. No biggie. “We kind of had a fight.”

“Then talk it out like grownups, jeez, it ain’t that difficult.” She pushed away from the counter again and turned around to pour a paper cup of water. Peter reached out to accept it, but she just pulled an eyebrow at him and drank it right in front of his nose.

Okay, then.

“You got a good heart, kid, otherwise you wouldn’t be so worried about some dude who thinks you’re a douche. You just gotta use it.”

Peter nodded slowly. “Yeah, I guess.” He tapped his fingers on the countertop a few times. “You should be a bartender, you know that? Don’t they always do life advice, or something?”

The woman shrugged. “Nah, can’t be around booze. Totalled my car seven times, got like a shit string of DUIs, so one day I’d just snap and drink the inventory, y’know? Haha.”

She said that, the ‘haha’, not even trying to make it a full laugh. Peter gave did his best to smile; he was pretty sure that it just looked uncomfortable. “Right, yeah.”

Now she did laugh, way too loudly. “Oh, lighten up, no one died! Just a few people maimed - now, that’s what I call being a responsible drinker, you know? Not many people can drive drunk that often without at least waltzing over a grandma or something. Haha!”

Something sparkled in pizza woman’s eyes, and an old, familiar alarm bell started to ring in Peter’s head. Right. When New Yorkers started to engage with you, it was time to get the heck out of there.

So, with another half smile and while doing his best to think of absolutely anything but Deadpool, Peter did.

-----

Eventually, he forgot about it, sort of, or at least decided not to worry about it until he saw Deadpool again. See, in the past one and a half year, Peter had learned to adapt a little quicker; just a survival instinct, really, because there was just a hell of a lot that his instincts needed to make up for now that Karen was a forever goner. Instead, he was back at where he’d started out, with a suit that Ned had engineered, as practice.

In all fairness, it wasn’t a bad suit.

It wasn’t Karen, but maybe it could pass as Karen on a budget. No artificial intelligence, no fancy gadgets; just a suit that hid his identity and some web shooters that helped him with the swinging bit.

Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

At least, that was what Peter thought, until that one particular morning in December, when he stepped into the lecture hall completely drenched from the rain, slumped down on his seat, and had the wonderful Gwen Stacy sit down next to him.

“Have you seen the news?” she whispered, because she always did, even though the lecture hadn’t even started yet. Peter hadn’t even had the time to unflatten his hair, yet, that was how swiftly she burst in with ‘the news’. “They’re saying that Spider-Man has lost it.”

Peter froze. “What?” he squeaked.

Gwen reached out and grabbed his hand, which only made the freezing thing worse, because Gwen had a tendency to go Full Mother Hen on friends that were going through bad stuff.

Apparently, this was bad stuff.

“Peter, they found a dead woman webbed to a wall in Queens. Shot so many times in the head that the police couldn’t be sure how much it really was.” She gave his hand a little squeeze. “Peter, are you okay?”

Oh. Oh, god, no. Peter felt his stomach twist. “They think that I - that Spider-Man did that?!”

Gwen’s frown increased. “Didn’t he?”

“No!” Peter protested. “No, no, of course not! Jesus, Gwen, what the - no! I don’t even carry a gun? I don’t -”

But Gwen just kept giving him the ‘oh, honey’ look. “Hey, if something’s up, you know you can tell me, right? I mean, we’ve been friends for what, a year now? And I know about this thing already, Pete.”

Peter snorted humorlessly and kind of panic-y at that. “Because I’m clearly pretty terrible at hiding it! Let’s be fair!”

Gwen gave his hand another squeeze, but different this time, harder. “Yeah, clearly, since you’re almost shouting it to the whole class.”

Peter opened his mouth to say something and protest, but closed it just as quickly again; that was the thing with Gwen. Ever since he met her in his second year of college, she’d just somehow found a way to wiggle right through his usual human-deflecting awkwardness, into his heart, like some sneaky wiggler. Like a worm, but a nice one.

So, with that being said, Peter didn’t feel too bad about how quickly Gwen could shut him up. Because he couldn’t help it. Because she was a wiggler.

“Look, I’m not asking you to lay this whole thing out for me, Pete,” she started again, her voice quieter this time, “but I’m just checking with you that you remember that if something is wrong, you know you can come by, okay?”

Her dark eyes had that little Worry Sparkle in them, and they made Peter feel incredibly guilty without even having done anything, so he just automatically nodded. “Okay. Yeah, I will.”

Gwen let go of his hand again, as he pointedly focused on the empty front of the classroom, but she didn’t stop with her worried look until well into the lecture.

-----

“They’re going to make another Star Trek spinoff.” MJ crunched on a peanut M&M. “Dope.”

“Lame,” corrected Ned. “Star Trek is lame. Star Wars is dope.”

The pointed look that MJ fixed him with was nothing short of lethal. “Star Wars was dead the moment Luke Skywalker touched the boob of that alien and drank its green titty milk.”

Ned shuddered. “We don’t talk about that.”

“So something happened.” Peter raised his head from where he was sprawled on the floor of his dorm room, so he could watch Ned sit on his own bed and MJ lying flat on her stomach on his bed. “Apparently I messed up.”

Ned looked slightly alarmed; MJ didn’t even look up. “Worse than that time you called your sugar daddy a pedophile?”

Peter cringed. “We don’t talk about that! But… I don’t know, I guess it kind of has got something to do with it.”

Now, MJ at least looked mildly interested. “Proceed.”

“So I ran into Deadpool last week…”

“Whoah, hold up.” Ned crawled over to the other end of his bed to stare at him. “The Deadpool?”

MJ squinted at him. “No, I’m sure it was the other one.”

“Yeah.” Peter blinked a few times at both of them. “No, of course it was the Deadpool.”

Ned put his hands in the air in his defence. “Hey, don’t sass me for counting in the possibility of clones, dude. You know how much freaky shit goes down with mutants and stuff.”

Peter felt a familiar, uncomfortable knot form in his stomach, but MJ just laughed. “Yeah, like a whole bunch of weird shit has been happening to Peter lately, right? All that action, all those fights.”

“Hey!” Ned came to his defence. “Peter has done loads of cool stuff!”

“Such as?”

“He… uh. He rescued an old man from getting hit by a bus the other day.” Ned frowned a bit. “And he moved into a dorm last year. That’s a big step.”

MJ crossed her arms. “He walked an old man across the street, there was no bus. And he only moved out because his aunt gave him the cold shoulder for three months when Happy told her about what he did to Stark, and he couldn’t handle that like a little baby, so he’s just a loser like the rest of us.”

The room fell quiet.

Things had been strained between him and May. They were back on speaking terms, now that he’d moved out, because neither of them really wanted to lose the other, but it still cut deep how things had changed. May had really been hurt by the Deadpool Fiasco, and even now, eighteen months later, Peter had no idea how to repair that.

Second ticked by. Then, Ned said softly: “That one wasn’t cool, Michelle.”

MJ ‘pfsh’ed. Then looked at Peter, as to check.

Peter tried not to look too trampled as he shook his head.

At that, MJ’s expression dimmed a bit. “Sorry, my bad. Ignore the May one, let’s just go back to that old dude? That was nice, insensitive burn material. We can use that.”

But Ned shook his head. “Yeah, no, mood ruined. Anyway - so, Pete, you were saying? Something with Deadpool?”

Right, Deadpool. Peter shook May’s cold stares off of him and snapped right back into the other type of angst he had enveloped him in. Since when had he started to get so good at that? “So I was out the other night, and there was some woman who held him at gunpoint, and I was kind of like: ‘hey, stop holding him at gunpoint!’ and then it was Deadpool, and Deadpool was kind of like: ‘hey, Spidey!’ and then a bunch of stuff happened and I had to web her to the wall -”

“And then you blew her brains out so much that she had no skull left,” MJ interrupted.

Ned gave her a stare. Peter too.

“What? Don’t give me that, I watch the news.”

“But that’s not what happened,” Peter pushed on. “Which is what I’m trying to explain.”

“You’re being a bad friend, Michelle,” said Ned.

MJ stuck her tongue out.

A tiny, tiny bit of the Lump of Uncomfortableness started to fade away. “Yeah, Michelle,” he joined in. “You’re being a bad friend, Michelle.”

She crossed her arms defensively and her frown got almost glaring, but she dug her nails in her arm too, which was the MJ Exclusive Dead Giveaway That She Was Somewhat Insecure Now. “Then why are you guys so desperate for me to hang out with you?”

Peter’s grin softened into a smile. “Because we love and appreciate you and enjoy your company, since you’re a positive addition to our lives?”

MJ blinked a few times. “Are you on drugs?”

“So, as I was saying,” Peter continued, “I webbed her to a wall, I did not shoot her, but then Deadpool kind of did? A bunch of times?”

MJ ran her hands through her hair, then made a grand “what the ****” gesture with both her arms. “So you webbed up that chick, but not the person who stabbed you? Are you dumb?”

“No!” Ned protested.

Peter shrugged. “Guess so. I mean, I should’ve seen it coming, I guess? But he’s really not that bad, you guys. He was really nice, back then, and I think he still is, but just… unpredictable?”

MJ laughed. Even Ned was giving him an ‘are you sure about that, my dear pal???’ look. “Peter, he’s an assassin? That’s what he does?”

Peter frowned. “Why do you keep saying that like it’s a question?”

MJ crunched on another M&M, loudly. “To keep the tone soft and non-threatening for your white ass, Parker.”

Peter let his head fall back onto the floor with a soft thud. “Please don’t do the ‘Peter Parker is so white’ thing when I’m in the middle of a crisis.”

“We all know that the cause of your crisis was you being dumb, so now your rep got smirched. So now it’s your turn to be extra nice for a while. Smirch all over it with some good stuff, bye-bye bad rep.”

“That could work,” Ned agreed, hesitantly enthusiastic as he always was around MJ’s plans. “I mean, it worked for Cap, right? And the metal guy?”

“One moment you’re betraying your country and killing hundreds, the next moment you’re America’s dream couple,” MJ sighed wistfully. “I give it two years before the Fifty Shades spinoff arrives.”

Peter cringed. “Can we not? And they’re not a couple, you know.”

“You don’t know that.”

“You don’t know it either.”

“Nobody knows.” MJ’s tone was eery. “Makes it sexier.”

Ned buried his face in his pillow. “Stop, they’re super old.”

MJ shrugged. “They don’t look it.”

“But they still are.”

“Never said I wouldn’t climb a grandpa if he looked like Steve Rogers.”

“You don’t even like guys!”

“That’s not the -”

“Guys!” Peter punched against Ned’s bed, denting the metal a bit. “Come on.”

MJ’s face slowly turned into a frown. “Were we still on your thing? I thought we were done with your thing.”

Peter closed his eyes and rubbed his face. “There was more to my thing.”

“More than getting dragged through the mud for blasting the head off some woman?”

“More than that, yes.” Peter took a deep breath. But not too deep, though; he had learned it the hard way that building too much suspense around his friends basically meant that his talking round was over. “So he kinda shot that woman because that woman’s boss or something had, uh. Killed his wife.”

Another silence fell. It lasted almost ten whole seconds.

“Deadpool was married?” Ned finally asked. “To who?”

Peter shrugged. “Someone called Vanessa?”

“Did she dress up in spandex too, or did she just dig the look of it?” asked MJ.

“I don’t know, she’s dead.”

Another short silence. “Right,” said MJ. “You mentioned that.”

Peter rolled onto his stomach and laid with his chin on the floor. “I don’t know, I guess I just feel bad for him? He’s a nice dude, you know.”

“Killed a woman with a trazillion bullets,” MJ interrupted. “Go on.”

“He’s nice, though!” And that needed to be said, because yeah, okay, the killing bit had been really nasty, but they hadn’t been there. They hadn’t heard the way his voice had gone all cold, and stuff. They didn’t know what Deadpool’s Tiny Puppy Feelings look looked like.

In all fairness, it had been ages since Peter had seen those, and maybe he didn’t really deserve to see them again.

But that was not the issue right now. “Look, I’m just feeling bad for him and I want to help, somehow, I just have no clue how.”

“Uh.” Ned stared at the ceiling for a moment as he tried to string The Solution together. “You could… send him a card?”

MJ snorted humorlessly. “Yeah. ‘Sorry about your dead wife! xo, the guy you thought got raped but didn’t’. I’m sure they have a Hallmark cut out for that.”

“He’d sign it as Spider-Man, obviously, duh.” Ned threw his pillow at Peter’s bed, hitting MJ’s foot. “Come on, man.”

“And then? What, Peter hugs him and hopes not to get stabbed again and that’s it?” MJ raised an eyebrow. “I say you find some sorcerer and have him revive the dead wife.”

Peter faceplanted himself right onto his own dirty floor. “And where would I find a sorcerer?”

“MJ, sorcerers don’t exist.”

“You’re sharing a dorm with someone who shits webs and you think sorcerers don’t exist?”

“I don’t poop webs, Michelle.”

“Yeah, Michelle, he doesn’t do that.”

“Peter Parker is a twenty year old man who censors the word ‘shits’, everyone, pass it on.”

Peter made a noise to his floor. “Come on, MJ.”

“Hey! I’m dead serious. Find a sorcerer, bring back the dead wife. It’s a solid plan, you guys are just too dumb to see it.”

Peter sighed hard enough through his nose to blow away a little dust ball. He had to vacuum more. “Ned, have you got any ideas?”

“You mean, aside from the card?”

Well. “Ned, I don’t know, but I think MJ kind of has a point that there are no appropriate ‘sorry that your spouse died’ cards out there.”

“Uh.” And Ned was staring at the ceiling again. “I guess you could try and distract him, or something? Like he did when Stark got on the news.”

Oh.

Right.

Right.

Peter pushed himself off the floor so quickly, that he almost pushed himself too far and toppled onto Ned’s bed, if he hadn’t caught himself in time. “You’re right! Ned! That’s perfect!”

MJ pulled a face. “Oh, ew, Ned won the Peter’s Problems Party?”

Peter wasn’t even going to question why they’d named their hangouts like that. “Relax, MJ, I’ll keep the sorcerer thing in mind.”

Her jaw stayed a bit rigid, but eventually, something softened in her, and she threw him an M&M to catch from the air. “You better. That’d be more dope than Star Trek.”

-----

Two weeks went by after that pretty much without a blip. There was a new Chem project he needed to work on, though, that at least kept him busy for many hours a week.

“You’re in the library a lot, lately,” Ned pointed out, one evening. “What are you even doing there? Are there exams coming up?”

Peter just stared plainly at the ceiling. “Nah, just this project I’ve been working on.”

“For school, or for you?”

“School.”

“And it takes that much time? Why would you - oh.” Some seconds clicked by on their Shrek clock. “Is it Chem?”

“Yep.”

“And you’re doing the project with Gwen?”

Yep. He was doing the project with Gwen.

Which for the past year had been no big deal at all. In the slightest. Gwen was just a friend; a very nice, very smart, very cool friend that knew a lot about chemistry and astrology and all sorts of cool stuff and also just happened to be good looking, with her sharp jaw and her tall build and the way she could make assholes crumble if they made fun of her native background.

Just a friend. All cool.

Except that Peter had this very slight, teensy-tiny mini crush on her. Which honestly didn’t mean anything, because he’d had tiny crushes on loads of girls, and eventually he moved on from all of them. He’d moved on from Liz in high school, he had moved on from That Girl On The Subway To School in his senior year, had definitely moved on from that one time when he was left with some confusing feelings about MJ after a round of Spin the Bottle.

He’d move on from Gwen. 100%. No problem.

His phone buzzed on his nightstand next to him, and Ned groaned.

“I’ll turn it off, I’ll turn it off. Sorry. G’night.”

Ned mumbled something back, but it sounded very far away already.

Hey! Thanks so much for staying late with me tonight. Chemistry really is a lot more fun with you, haha. Good night! Xx

Peter did his best to breathe through his initial fifteen year old reaction and pulled his mouth back into a normal mouth form, instead of a stupid, goofy grin.

Hey!! No problem, I really like this project. :D Same time tomorrow? x Peter

He kept staring at his phone for five minutes straight after that, silently regretting the kiss at the end (get a grip, Parker!!! Come on, Parker!!!), until his phone buzzed again.

“Hmgr,” mumbled Ned. Peter put his phone on mute.

I mean, we’re pretty far ahead. I don’t think we need to work over the weekend, right? Xx

His heart sank.

Well. That was that, then, he figured - until a second text rolled in right after.

Do you maybe want to go out for something to eat instead? I know a great Chinese place. Xx

Something in Peter’s chest jumped up so fast, that he was afraid it was going to hop right out of his body.

Sounds perfect. Wanna meet in front of the dorms at 7? x Peter

He wasn’t sure why his heart was still beating so fast as he waited for a reply, but it sure as heck wasn’t persuaded to calmness by knowing that Gwen had been the one to ask him out, so the chance of being rejected now was almost nothing.

Almost being the key word here, though.

That’s great, see you then! Sweet dreams, Peter. Xx

Oh, thank God.

You too! x Peter

And honestly, if Ned hadn’t been asleep right next to him, Peter was pretty sure that he would’ve screamed into his pillow.

-----

Sure, Peter had been on dates before. Multiple dates, actually, just to throw it out there. He was no rookie in the dating game. He had Some Experience, which was basically all he needed to have, right? Put on some nice clothes, a sweet smile, and get some flowers somewhere that weren’t too showy but still pretty, and he was golden.

Or something.

That didn’t mean that he wasn’t nervous as hell for the entire day, though. He poured himself cereal that Ned ended up eating, only had about half his lunch before he wrapped the rest of his sandwich in too much cling foil to save for tomorrow, and checked his phone every other second.

He didn’t get any texts, though. None of the cancelling kind, but also none of the ‘so excited about tonight!’ kind. Just nothing.

Maybe something had happened. Maybe she was ill. Maybe she was dead. Maybe she had changed her mind and was so scared about confrontation that she’d just packed her bags and was currently living under a different identity somewhere in Finland.

“Peter, you gotta relax,” Ned finally said, around six thirty ish. “What’s up with all the pacing?”

Peter stopped pacing. “Nothing. Just a date.”

Ned immediately sat up. “Just a date?! With who? Is it Gwen?”

“What?” Peter turned sharply. “I mean, why would it be Gwen?”

“You keep making googly eyes at her whenever she walks by. You’re not good at keeping secrets.”

Peter huffed a little laugh at that. “I’m keeping a pretty big secret from most of the world, you know.”

Ned made a face. “Sorry, how long did you know Gwen again before you told her?”

“That’s super irrelevant.”

“Like, a month?”

“Ned, come on!” Peter pulled at the hem of his only nice shirt to try and get the wrinkles out, since their only iron created a short-circuit whenever they plugged it into the wall. “It wasn’t like that, anyway. She went through my backpack when I wasn’t looking because I told her she could use my notes, and then she saw the suit, and how was I supposed to talk my way out of that one?”

Ned shrugged. “Could’ve told her you were a cosplayer.”

Peter paused, halfway through styling his hair. “Yeah,” he admitted. “I could’ve said I was a cosplayer.”

“So why didn’t you?”

Because… well. Try and think of that in a moment of panic! “I don’t know! It all happened pretty fast.”

Ned nodded thoughtfully. “So, just yes or no, are you good at keeping secrets?”

Peter’s hair refused to cooperate with the wax that was rubbed warm between his hands. “Just… okay?!”

“That’s Barney,” Ned pointed out. “You’re How I Met Your Mother-ing. I thought you didn’t like that show!”

Peter refused to look back at him where Ned was staring at him through the mirror. “Gwen likes it.”

“You’ve been watching it for Gwen?”

Right. Hair done, clothes as done as possible, backpack ready, the bouquet of flowers ready on the counter - “don’t wait up for me!”

“Are you staying at her place?! Peter! Peter! Are you staying at hers?!” Ned shouted after him, but Peter closed the door behind him before he could even finish talking.

-----

So aside from the flowers turning out to be a slightly awkward idea (“Oh, Pete, that’s so nice! … should I just, I don’t know… uh, do you mind staying here? I can run back up to put them in a vase in my dorm, or something, I’ll just be a second!” and then there was the uncomfortable ten minute wait, in which he officially declared May’s romantic dating advice slightly unpractical), the date went pretty neat.

Sort of.

“I honestly didn’t think you’d say yes,” Gwen admitted, with a vague smile and a forkful of rice. “I figured, you know, if you were interested, you would’ve said so ages ago.”

Peter laughed, and something fluttered in his stomach, but he wasn’t quite sure whether it was nerves or excitement. “I’m kind of not too great at the whole ‘saying so’ part of the equation? I think? Or the figuring out if I’m interested part.”

Gwen’s smile grew warmer. “Not great at this dating thing in general?” she guessed.

Well, he did say that she was a bright one. “You could say that, yeah.”

She reached over the table and kept her palm up until he’d found the guts to hold her hand. When had his hand turned this clammy? Jesus. “Peter,” she said, “I know you, and I like you, and you have nothing to be worried about. It’s just like the Chem project, right? Except with less coursework and more nice food.”

Peter forced himself to breathe through another crash of the fluttering flutters. “Right,” he muttered. “Just like Chem.”

“Exactly.” She slowly let go of his hand again, and despite his own clamminess, Peter felt the urge to reach way too far over the table to chase after it again. He also felt the urge to crawl up a wall and escape the nerves in his stomach by just watching her from afar.

He had a feeling that that wouldn’t go down so well on a first date, though. It might also kind of complicate the whole ‘trying to keep Spidey under wraps’ idea.

“So this would usually be the part where I’d ask you to tell a bit about yourself, but I think I’d already know most of what you’d say.” Gwen took a sip of her wine - which, in all honesty, Peter hadn’t even known that she could order already. “But let’s go for it anyway, why not?”

Peter gave her a quizzical look at first, but when he recognized the teasing glint in her eyes, his face broke out in a smile. “Right, yeah, okay. So, uh, well, I’m a student at the Empire State University, I study biophysics, my favorite color is orange -”

“Really?” Gwen interrupted. “Orange?”

“It’s a happy color!”

Gwen just shrugged and took a bite of her food, which she chewed thoughtfully, before concluding: “You don’t look like an orange kinda fella.”

Peter honestly didn’t know what to say to that. “I am, though.”

Gwen just rolled her eyes, but she did smile. “Pete, I’m just teasing. Go on.”

“Uh.” What else was there to say? Usually, saying your favorite color was pretty much a clear sign that there was not much else to say about him, right? “I like taking pictures, and I’m working on a biochemistry research project right now, that’s taking a lot of time. I guess that’s it.”

“Sounds interesting, that project.” Gwen folded her hands over each other and put them under her chin. “Are you doing it alone, or…”

Oh. Ah. “No, actually, I’m doing it with this other student - she’s really bright,” Peter said, and god, he just hoped that he was getting this game properly.

“Oh, really? Really bright, hm? Anything else?”

Slowly, Peter’s confidence started to come back to him. “She’s also gorgeous,” he added, “and really strong. My friends call her handsome.”

Gwen’s eyebrows shot up at that. “‘Handsome’? Really?”

Peter held his hands up. “Hey, that’s MJ’s opinion.”

“Michelle?” Gwen guessed. “Why handsome, though?”

Well. “MJ hates gender catered words. And the patriarchy. Most of society. This is her way of lashing out, I guess.”

“By complimenting your lab partner. Very rebellious.”

Peter wasn’t sure if the room was warm, or just his face. “I mean, she’s not wrong? She’s very… pretty? Handsome? Good-looking? All of the above?”

The glint in Gwen’s eyes seemed to grow a bit stronger as she leaned further in, an excited smile playing around her lips. “Really? Well, I just happen to know that she thinks you’re very pretty and handsome too, Pe-”

Kaboom.

Peter wasn’t really sure what exactly had made that sound, but it was super loud and right on the street outside of the restaurant, and instantly, there was an uproar of panic. Customers screamed, started to duck under the table as waiters fled to the kitchen - but Peter just turned towards the sound, all his Spidey senses screaming at once.

Someone was firing a gun outside, and Peter was both completely shocked and not even a little bit surprised to see that it was Deadpool.

Everything after that happened pretty quickly; all the people inside the restaurant were quickly guided to the lavatories, where they could barricade the door in case Deadpool would storm in and turn the whole thing into a mass shooting. It was so quick that Peter barely remembered to grab his backpack, but once he did, he made a beeline for the emergency exit, before he could even find Gwen back in the crowd, to at least tell her where he’d gone.

He’d text her, he decided. He’d text her.

He ran from the alley he walked into to another alley around the corner, just in case someone was going to follow him. Then he changed as quickly as he could, stuffed his clothes loosely in his bag, and ran out before he’d even adjusted his balaclava to have the eye holes match up with his eyes.

“Deadpool!” he shouted. “Hey! Dude! You okay?”

The street was eerily empty, with all the people in the shops and restaurants by now hidden somewhere safe, as Deadpool kept firing shot after shot down the street. He didn’t even pause when he replied.

“Spidey? Some dude is on my naughty list, hang on.”

But, you know, hanging on sounded like a Bad Idea right now, so Peter didn’t. Instead, he slowly walked over to Deadpool’s back, saying stuff like “it’s okay, you can stop, please stop, dude, stop” over and over so he wouldn’t startle him by the time he was close enough to touch him.

Except that Deadpool was Deadpool, so he still kind of shrieked when Peter finally laid his hands on his shoulders. The shooting stopped, though, so that was something. “Jesus, Webs, don’t scare me like that,” he wheezed. “What the fuck.”

“Yeah, Pool?” Peter started slowly, as soon as he had the other’s attention. “You’re scaring a lot of people.”

“I mean, didn’t your mama ever tell you that it’s rude to sneak up on people? Have some brains, Spidey! I coulda shot you! Remember when I stabbed you? You didn’t react well to that, like, at all, and I don’t wanna see you dead, you know! Jesus shit, fuck, I would’ve had a heart attack if I could - don’t ever do that again! I think I got shit stains in my suit right now, fuck.”

“Deadpool,” Peter tried again, because none of that sounded particularly like he was really there. “Pool - Wade.”

Deadpool froze on the spot. “What?”

“Wade, I want you to take a couple of breaths for me, okay? Nice and easy, through the nose.”

But he just stared. “How the fuck do you know my name?”

And if that wasn’t a good question. “I, uh.” Peter had a feeling that ‘my previous suit had an AI and that AI knows everything’ wouldn’t really diffuse the situation here. “Looked it up on Google?”

A couple of intense seconds passed by as Deadpool kept staring, and for a moment there, Peter wasn’t entirely sure that his head was going to survive this whole ordeal. But then, finally, Deadpool started laughing.

“Oh my God, you’re so lame! You could’ve come up with a whole cool background story, and you just found me on Craigslist! Spidey, you gotta work on your image here a little, baby. First that shit quality suit, then this? I’m relieved you didn’t use Bing, that would’ve been a whole deeper level of disaster!” And he laughed. Loudly. A bit too loudly.

The type of loud laughing the supervillain does in the movies before torturing the protagonist. That kind of laugh.

Something was very much off.

“Hey, Wade?” Peter slowly brought his hand up to Deadpool’s shoulder again. “Who exactly were you shooting at?”

Deadpool’s head perked up. “Oh! Yeah, you should meet him. Come here.” He grabbed Peter’s arm and turned around again, facing the rest of the street that he’d been shooting at. “Spidey, this fucker right here is Francis. Yeah, that’s right. Francis. That’s his name.”

Deadpool still had his firearm in his hand, and his arm slung over Peter’s shoulders.

Seconds passed by.

“Wade,” Peter started eventually, feeling his heart beat in his throat, “there’s no one there.”

Deadpool made a ‘pfsh’ sound. “Come on, Spidey, don’t be a dick.”

Oh God. This was so, so not good. “I’m really, honestly not trying to be. The street is empty, Wade. Everyone that was there has evacuated, because people thought you were shooting up the place. I’m pretty sure there’s police on their way.”

More seconds ticked by. Peter soon learned he was right; there were sirens wailing in the distance. Deadpool, however, didn’t seem to hear them, or at least wasn’t that alarmed by them.

Or maybe he just didn’t hear anything anymore.

“But he was there,” he protested. It sounded weak. “He was right there, with that… that cosmetic surgery pout and everything, he was right -”

He fell quiet.

“Wade? You okay?”

He stayed quiet. The weight over Peter’s shoulder suddenly became a lot heavier.

“Hey, hey.” Okay, so now Deadpool wasn’t standing properly anymore, and okay, yeah, Peter wasn’t exactly weak, but try and get someone to stand up straight when they’re that much bigger than you. There was a challenge. “I got you, okay? You’re gonna be fine. You’re fine.”

“Fuck. I shot him five years ago,” Deadpool finally said. “He’s been fucking dead for five years. He’s dead. I shot him,” he muttered to himself, as he laid his head on Peter’s shoulder, now clinging to him with his full weight. “I shot him. How the fuck did I miss that? What?”

The sirens were rapidly growing louder; around them, some half-hidden heads were peeking at the spectacle on the streets, still mostly sheltered behind random objects. If there was any time to get out of here, it was definitely Right Now.

“Wade, I need you to do something for me.”

A disapproving noise came from his shoulder. “Spides, I’m right in the middle of a fucking crisis, suck a cactus.”

Right, okay. He was just trying to help, but Peter quietly reminded himself that hey, at least he was coherent enough to reply to something he said, so he should be coherent enough to cling onto him enough to go Up And Away. “You gotta do the baby gorilla, Wade. Do you trust me as your mama gorilla?”

A vague, misplaced snicker came from his shoulder. “What the fuck are you even -”

But those sirens were getting too close, so Peter just wrapped his arm around Deadpool’s waist as firmly as he could, shot a web up to the side of a building, and went Up And Away.

-----

Hey! Sorry I disappeared like that. Not how I pictured our date going. :( x Peter

Deadpool’s masked head wasn’t really comfortably laid down on his thighs, but there was nothing else he could really make a pillow out of, and he wasn’t just going to let the guy lie down on the rooftop without something to lie on. He had passed out somewhere between the third and fourth building Peter had swung them away from, clumsily, with one hand.

Honestly, it was a miracle that they were both still alive.

Peter’s fingers absentmindedly patted over Deadpool’s head as he awaited a reply. Which, in all honesty, took a bit too long for his comfort, because the first two minutes of waiting were fine, but then he started to worry about panicked restaurant-goers somehow trampling Gwen to death, even though she was six feet tall and not easy to trample, because Gwen was his friend, and he’d left her, and -

I think it was really brave, what you did back there. Are you okay? He didn’t hurt you, did he? Xx

Peter felt a wave of relief wash over him. Gwen was okay. It was all good.

I’m fine. He’s just confused, he’s usually not like this. He’s okay now, though. Snoozing, but fine. x Peter

“Who you textin’?” came a hoarse voice from his legs. “The press? Police? Your mom?”

Peter’s hand stilled. “Just a girl,” he replied vaguely. “Feeling better?”

Deadpool rolled his shoulder and something cracked uncomfortably loud. “That petting thing sure feels good, yeah.”

Uh. Okay, then. Well. Slowly, Peter started doing the same thing again. Deadpool had had a rough day. He could be pet like a cat today.

“Ohh, that’s it,” he groaned. “Stroke it, baby.”

Peter immediately flicked his ear.

“Ow! Jesus.”

“Don’t make it gross, come on, Pool.” Even he had to know that kind of stuff, right? Don’t push boundaries that were new. You didn’t do that. Common courtesy.

But Deadpool’s head just turned in his lap until he was looking up at Peter properly. “I thought we were on Wade-basis now.”

Oh. “Do you want me to call you Wade?”

Deadpool - no, Wade, huffed. It sounded sad. “Sure’s been one hell of a time since I’ve last heard it.”

That same old uncomfortable, icy thing curled itself around Peter’s stomach again. “That doesn’t sound too good.”

“Very angsty, huh? You have no idea. I’ve been wearing buckets emo eyeliner for months now, under this mask.”

That was meant as a joke, clearly, but Peter couldn’t bring himself to laugh. “Feeling better, Wade?”

He didn’t reply immediately, but he didn’t tense up either, which Peter counted as a win. “That was a shit show down there, wasn’t it?”

Peter shrugged. No point denying it. “Kind of.”

Wade laughed a bit to himself, and it made the icy feeling even worse. “Yeah, it’s been a while since things got so bad. I mean, the voices have been back for months now, but hallucinations? That’s a whole new level of crazy, right?”

“Right.” He had no idea about different levels of crazy, but none of this sounded Particularly Good. “Have you got anyone to talk to about this kind of stuff?”

“Talk?” Wade snorted. “You’re cute. You’re sweet. You’re adorable.”

So that was a no.

That also wasn’t Particularly Good.

“I’m really sorry to hear what happened, you know,” he finally admitted, his voice quieter than he would’ve liked it to be, but. Well. At least it was said. “I mean, I know that we don’t really know each other, and stuff -”

“Thanks, Spidey,” Wade interrupted. His voice was soft, too, but rough enough to be clear in its ‘please shut up’ message. “That’s nice.”

A silence fell.

Wade cleared his throat. “I’m sorry I stabbed you, by the way.”

“Oh, that.” Peter made a vague hand gesture. “It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine. I really hurt you! I didn’t even know I could fuck you up like that. Or that anything could.”

Peter drummed his fingers on his knee. “That makes both of us. But it’s fine, now. Just a scar.”

“I guess they’re contagious now.” Wade rolled onto his side, laying the side of his face on top of Peter’s thigh, so that he was now looking straight at his feet. “Also sorry for shitting on your reputation the other day, that was not cool.”

“I guess that stuff happens sometimes.”

“And also sorry for probably shitting on your reputation all over again today.”

Peter frowned. “What do you mean?”

Wade shifted a little, so he could stick his hands under Peter’s legs and nestled a bit more onto his lap. “You know. You storming off with a maniac in your arms that shot up a street. That don’t look good.”

Oh.

Right.

“Hadn’t even thought about that.”

He probably should’ve. God, he should have.

“Sorry,” Wade shrugged, though he didn’t sound that sorry. Then again, it was a whole lot harder to read his Tiny Puppy Feelings with that mask on.

Another silence. Honestly, Peter was almost convinced that Wade had fallen back asleep after ten minutes of view watching from a skyscraper passed by without a word, but then he suddenly piped up: “what happened to your sexy suit? What kinda disaster with pantyhose is this?”

Peter most certainly did not blush. “They’re yoga pants,” he corrected. “For, like, optimum flexibility, and stuff.”

“They’re dumb.”

“They work!”

“They’re ugly!” Wade squeezed the back of his thigh. “Your last suit had sex appeal, Spides! It looked sleek, made the bad guys shit their pants and the good girls cream their panties, you know? A Phillipine toddler could’ve sewn you a better suit than this.”

Peter really, really wished he could just zap the embarrassment away. It’s not like he was actually ashamed of this suit, anyway; seriously, Ned had gotten so caught up in it when Peter had asked him to help, that every time he looked in the mirror and saw the weird mismatch of slightly-differently-shaded black clothes with an awkward web design on them, he was just really proud of Ned. He’d never even touched a sewing machine before this all happened. This was growth, this was an accomplishment.

Who cared that Wade Wilson thought it was ugly. Not all of us were fashionistas.

“At least this one is 100% child labor free,” Peter protested weakly. “So, there’s that.”

“Hm.” Wade’s noise was pretty vague. “I guess. What happened to the old one?”

Uh.

Well.

There was this thing about setting you up to be arrested and accusing someone of something they didn’t do. But that was something Peter preferred to keep to himself. “You stuck a knife through it.”

Wade actually lifted his head up at that. “I killed the ultimate Spidey suit?!”

How the heck Wade had managed to actually, sincerely sound upset about that, Peter had no idea. “Well, yeah. I mean, it was a pretty clever suit? So sewing it together wouldn’t exactly repair it, it would just… make the hole go away. All the circuits were cut through.”

Wade just stared. “Circuits?”

Shoot. Was he not supposed to say that? “It had a… heating function.”

The lenses on Wade’s eyes narrowed. “A heating function.”

“A heating function,” Peter confirmed, because at least it wasn’t really a lie, right? It had a heating function. He was still in the clear - not that it mattered if he lied to Wade.

Except, his conscience told him, it kind of really did. He had had his Lies For Wade fill, enough of that now. “For if I got cold.”

The staring continued for a long time then, almost as if Wade was staring him down from behind the mask, until finally (finally) he lowered his head onto Peter’s lap again. “You’re a strange one, Spidey.”

Peter felt a little smile coming up, out of nowhere. “Thanks, Wade.”

“And if it means anything to you at all, like, on a personal level, if this is one of your major insecurities or something like that, I think your body temperature is average enough.”

Peter snorted. He couldn’t help it. “You have no idea how much that means to me.”

Carefully, Wade laughed too, and for the first time, Peter was almost sure there were no Hurt Puppy Feelings involved in that one. “That’s what I thought.”

-----

They stayed on that rooftop, in the December cold, until deep in the night. Just talking about stuff, joking about stuff, saying nothing useful or personal in particular.

Not that Peter really minded, though, because he wasn’t planning on sharing anything personal to begin with and he felt like he already knew way more about Wade than he was supposed to. Plus, it wasn’t really the point. He was just here as a friend, to pet his head and make him laugh.

It worked for a little while. It did. Until Wade’s laughter eventually died out, and they were just left staring at the too brightly lit city expanding before them.

“That girl you were texting,” Wade said to Peter’s knee. “Do you like her?”

Peter blinked a few times, and tried to suppress the shivers that were plaguing him at this point. Even his metabolism wasn’t keeping up with the weather. “I guess? Kinda.”

All teasing was gone from Wade’s voice; it had gone weirdly soft instead. “So what’s she like?”

For a moment, Peter wanted to go for a jab about how they were definitely having a slumber party with questions like these, but he swallowed it down, and dug a little deeper for some honesty. “She’s… nice. She cares a lot.”

Wade hummed quietly. “Aw.”

“Yeah.” Peter found himself smiling without a proper reason. “I know.”

For a moment, that seemed to be all on that topic, until Wade suddenly said: “Never tell her about the spider thing.”

Peter blinked a few times, before his stomach flipped a little. “Why?”

Wade buried his face a little bit more into the flesh of Peter’s legs. “That’s how they got Vanessa. Got her too involved in all my shit and it blew right up in her face, you know? And fuck, she had such a pretty face.”

Oh.

Oh, fuck.

“I’m so sorry. God, Wade, I’m -”

“Not your fault,” he grumbled. “Just take some advice from your overgrown cat, okay? Don’t get your girl involved. Doesn’t matter how badass she is, doesn’t matter how it’s like a knife to the dick that you can’t tell her stuff, you’re much better off just keeping your cake hole shut.”

Part of Peter really wanted to spill that she already knew. A bigger part of Peter knew that this whole conversation wasn’t about Gwen, though.

Slowly, oh so slowly, he reached out to touch his head again, with both hands this time, rubbing little circles on his masked scalp. “Hey, Wade?”

His “hm?” almost sounded like a sigh.

“Can you promise me something?”

A few seconds ticked by on a clock, somewhere, probably. “Maybe.”

A tiny flutter of nerves flared up, but they had no reason to be here, Peter reasoned. This was just normal stuff. A normal thing you could ask from someone. Normally.

“Next time you feel like this, uh… emotion. This grief?” Oh, God, Parker, no. “Next time you get overwhelmed?” That was possibly even worse. “Just… I don’t know. Sorry. Wade, next time, would you call me?”

Wade turned his head around, which felt a bit weird, because now he was kind of staring straight at Peter’s groin, but he wasn’t looking in that direction. “Call you?”

“Yeah.” Peter felt another nervous flutter. “You know, we could just talk about whatever ‘til you feel better. Distraction, and stuff.”

Wade didn’t respond for so long that Peter was pretty sure he had just short-circuited his brain. But, after a full minute or so, he finally pushed himself upright, and fished an old burner phone out of his pocket, which he unlocked and handed over.

New contact, it said.

Okay. Here we go.

Spider-Buddy, Peter typed in, then his number. He felt a bit anxious when he pressed enter, worried that a message might pop up with “this number already exists under a different contact! The ass that set you up!” but nothing happened.

That was that. It was that easy.

Peter couldn’t believe it was that easy.

It was only after Deadpool walked down the fire escape with stiff legs and a quiet “you got a good heart, Webs”, that Peter’s heart rate slowed down enough for him to feel the cold again.

Things were going to be okay. Wade was going to be okay.

-----

Peter wasn’t alarmed when Wade hadn’t texted after a week. Or even two weeks. He didn’t strike him as the type of guy who’d easily ask for help. That was okay. Peter had patience.

He started to get slightly suspicious when the year rolled over to 2022 and he hadn’t seen him since that night on the rooftop.

He was actively worried about it when by the time he turned 21 in February, no one had heard from or seen Deadpool in ages.

And honestly? Honestly, by the time that June 24th 2022, AKA the weirdest birthday party in history went down, Peter had kind of given up all hope altogether.

And then, there he was.

Chapter Text

The story of June 24th 2022 was a messy one, a bit of a hazy one, but the most important thing Peter learned that day, was that Wade Wilson was a very, very good kisser.

And maybe Peter got a little lost in it. Somewhere between his mouth and the hand in his hair and the hard muscles pressed against him, Peter got lost in the buzz, lost in how weirdly good it felt, and he kissed back; experimentally gave a little lick at the seam of his mouth, feeling his stomach flip in a very excited way when Wade responded and deepened the kiss, completely and wholly dominated it.

Peter didn’t even notice that someone had opened the door of their stall until Wade shifted to kiss his neck, causing Peter’s eyes to fly open in shock when he felt his teeth scrape over a spot right under his jaw. He actually moaned at that. Couldn’t even help it. It just felt that good, and Peter had no clue how on earth he was doing this.

But there was definitely someone staring at them, now, and Peter felt his whole mood shift from ‘holy fuck what’s this?!’ to ‘holy fuck PLEASE STOP’.

Mostly because that person was Captain America, looking just as embarrassed and caught as Peter felt.

“Oh, shit.”

-----

But it didn’t start on June 24th.

Peter was pretty sure that it really started on December 24th, the day of Christmas Eve, when Ned had gone back home to his parents for the holidays and for the first time in over a month, Peter had the whole dorm to himself.

And he was nervous as heck.

See, here was the thing. He had been dating Gwen for a couple of weeks, at this point, and things were great; she was nice, smart, funny, gorgeous (handsome, as MJ put it), and they were doing good. They were doing great. They had redone that first date a few days later, minus distractions or shootings, and they’d kept that dating thing going pretty steadily ever since. Lunches together, going to the movies, even a zoo trip; they did them all.

And Peter enjoyed them. He did. It was nice, getting to spend time with her, catching the popcorn bits that she threw at him with his mouth, holding her hand, kissing her. It was new, but nice, and really, honestly, he thought they were getting straight As in being a couple. They were super nailing it.

So really, there was no reason that he shouldn’t be able to do her bra clasp. He was almost twenty-one now, a grown man, and he was Spider-Man, for crying out loud. He should be able to do a stupid bra clasp.

And yet. Yet. It refused to budge.

“Oh, Pete, wait.” Gwen pulled back enough to leave Peter’s lips hanging somewhere in the open space between them, as she scooted back. “I’ll get that.”

Peter felt something weird twist around his stomach. “Nonono, it’s fine, I got it, I got it.” He totally had it, no biggie, he could do this. His fingers danced around on her back a big longer, squeezing a bit around her back bone, but now he’d lost track of the clasp altogether.

Great. That was great.

The weird feeling got worse, and through the haze of BRA PLEASE OPEN and the pleasant buzzing that the kisses had left him, Peter vaguely recognized it as the same feeling he got whenever he got a bad grade. He was failing right at the very start - and what if this was a sign? What if he was going to totally mess up the rest of it, too? Oh, God, this was not good, this was bad, he was going to super suck -

“Pete.” Gwen snapped him out of his train of thought, and forced him to look up. “You okay?”

Peter blinked a few times, before pulling his hand to sit on his lap. It was trembling. “Yeah!” he squeaked, trying to push down the butterflies that were buzzing around in his stomach. “Totally, yeah, I’m fine. Are you fine? Is everything fine?”

Gwen looked at him thoughtfully, before slowly leaning back on the bed, keeping herself up with her elbows as a small smile grew on her lips. Then, she asked slowly: “Peter, have you ever done this before?”

Oh, no.

Busted.

“Sure,” Peter still tried, because what twenty year old had never done it before? He didn’t exactly know what were strong turn ons for girls, but he was pretty sure that having sex with a twenty year old virgin wasn’t one of them. “Yeah.”

Gwen tilted her head. “Peter.”

Peter’s stomach was caught in an iron grip, and he felt slightly sick. “... no.”

That had Gwen sitting up again, and for a terrifying moment Peter was convinced that she was going to pull her shirt back down and walk straight out, but she just kissed his cheek and sat back again. “It’s fine, you goof. Just… maybe let me do the bra? It’s the hardest bit, I promise. Unless you’d rather, I don’t know, just hang out right now? We can just hang out.”

Peter’s stomach dropped at that thought. “No, I wanna do this.”

She didn’t seem to believe him; she squinted her eyes a little bit and sat back again, creating more space between them, shifting so she could sit cross-legged. “And you’re sure that has nothing to do with you wanting to lose your virginity because you feel like you should?”

Somewhat lost, Peter tried his very, very best not to look down at his semi hard-on. That had to kind of prove it, right? “I’m pretty sure, yeah.”

“Pretty sure?”

Peter looked at her, really looked at her. At her kind face, her strong jaw, the way her lips were slightly swollen now, the way her T-shirt hung off of one shoulder, her black hair that was braided back and out of the way, the outline of her bra through her shirt, that little peek of stomach where the fabric had ridden up.

He wanted all of that, he wanted it so much, he just didn’t know how without completely messing up. This was exactly the kind of thing he should’ve asked May about ages ago, if he’d just had the guts and the shamelessness to do it.

“What if I hurt you?” he finally said. “What if it’s not… good, or something, and I just make a fool of myself and none of it feels good for you and you never wanna… you know. Try again.” Peter swallowed, and tried to push the upcoming panic down. “It’s just a lot of pressure.”

Gwen reached out a hand, and gently combed her fingers through his hair. It felt comforting, Peter had to admit - but it wasn’t very sexy. Just comforting. God, he was already screwing this up.

“Okay, first things first,” she started, “please breathe? You’re okay, Peter, you’re fine. Wanna know a little secret?”

Peter wasn’t sure if he wanted to know that secret. He had a feeling she was going to tell him anyway.

“All guys, and I mean all guys, aren’t great in bed their first time. It’s fine. Or even if they’d had sex with other girls before, they might still suck the first time around with a different girl.”

Peter sat back a little bit too, now, and Gwen dropped her hand. “That’s not uplifting at all, just for the record.”

“What I’m trying to say is that I know what to expect.” Gwen’s voice had gone all soothingly soft again, like she was approaching a scared little kitten. “And, hey, getting to know what works for each other is about half the fun anyway.”

Peter felt a slight twinge of embarrassment at how much his shoulders sagged in relief. “Really?”

Gwen smiled. “Really. Seriously, Pete, why would you think that I’d leave if you’re not good at sex immediately?”

That slight twinge turned into a whole darn bucket of shame. “It’s nothing,” he tried to brush it off. “Just overthinking it.”

But Gwen was a genius. “Was it MJ?”

It was MJ.

See, MJ had been kind of relentless towards him ever since he’d told her that he was dating Gwen. Sure, none of it had been particularly aggressive, but it had been very prominent in a highly MJ sort of way. In the ‘unrelated comment but low key totally aimed at you’ sort of way that left Peter awake at night (the part of the night where he wasn’t out Spideying anyway), because maybe she had a point.

It was all the sort of stuff about how straight sex was too male-centric and how he was just going to make Gwen unhappy in the long run, because hey, as long as he got off, things were great, right? That was what sex was about, right?

Except that he knew that it wasn’t, he just didn’t really know what it was about, except maybe that they were both supposed to have orgasms at some point. But then there was that second layer of MJ slander in which she subtly reminded him that men have no idea how the female body works and that 60% of female orgasms are faked.

And he didn’t want Gwen to fake anything. He was pretty sure that if there was a way to fail at sex, it would probably be when your girlfriend faked it.

“Peter, hey, don’t panic on me again.” Gwen gently rubbed his shoulder, then over his chest, and Peter flushed bright red when he realized how quickly his heart was beating against her palm.

God, this sucked. Sex wasn’t nice at all, he had worse performance anxiety now than he’d ever had for any final.

Gwen cleared her throat, before she sighed and pulled him in. “That’s it, c’mere. Peter, you’re fine, okay? We don’t have to do this.”

“But I want to,” he replied weakly. “I really do.”

“You don’t,” said Gwen, and she made a vague hand gesture that meant ‘turn around’. When he did, she pulled him in until the back of his head was rested against her breasts, and her arms came to wrap around him. Like some sort of baby.

That wasn’t sexy. That was motherly. Peter was pretty sure that being motherly wasn’t a part of sex, unless it was done in some sort of kinky way, maybe, but he was pretty sure he had to learn how to open a bra clasp before he could dive into any of that kind of stuff.

He was about to say ‘I do’ for a second time, when he noticed how he’d gone completely soft at this point, and he made a small, frustrated noise in the back of his throat. “This is not really how I’d planned tonight,” he admitted.

Gwen ran a hand through his hair, and he could slowly feel some of the tension ebb away. “Me neither, to be honest. But it’s okay. It’s fine. We’re good, right?”

Right. “Yeah, we’re good,” Peter said, maybe a little too quickly. There was a heavy stone in his stomach, though, one that he couldn’t quite will away. “I mean, we can try later?”

“Maybe we should talk about all the stuff that MJ said first?” Gwen gently suggested.

“Maybe.”

“What did she say?”

“She…” Peter cleared his throat. “Kind of implied that I wouldn’t know how to… y’know. Make it work for you, anyway. Because I’m a guy, you know? And she thinks I only want this for me? Which I don’t! I want this for you! For us! I want… I just don’t want you to fake it and get fed up and leave.”

He honestly felt a little bit shaky, saying all of that, but Gwen seemed unphased. She just kissed the crown of his hair and laughed a bit. “You’re a sweet guy, Pete.”

The stone in his stomach eraded a teensy, tiny bit. “You think?”

“I think so, yeah. And while I’m really flattered that MJ is so worried about the quality of my sex life, I think we’re going to be fine.”

Peter relaxed at that. Enough to actually laugh a bit. “I guess I’m really lucky to have you.”

“You really are.” There was a short silence, before she went on: “Maybe we could try something?”

Peter frowned, and twisted his head around to look at her. “Like what?”

She raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know. Maybe you could let me take the lead and I could make you even luckier? All you’d have to do is sit back and enjoy.”

Oh. Oh. “You mean, like -”

“A blowjob? That was what I was aiming at, but I’m open to suggestions.”

A blowjob. She wanted to give him a blowjob. Peter definitely felt his blood flow back to some happy places at that (which honestly felt a little bit embarrassingly Pavlovian, it was just a word), but a healthy dose of shame came with it at the same time. “But what’s in it for you? That’s not - I mean, I can do the same? I just don’t really know how and what if I do it wrong and I use my teeth where you’re not supposed to use teeth and what if I lick the wrong parts, or something, and -”

A hand splayed out on the centre of his chest, against his rapidly beating heart, and Peter allowed himself to be shushed. “Peter, I’m only suggesting a blowjob, with nothing in return.”

“But that’s not fair,” Peter blurted out. “That’s what MJ was talking about.”

Gwen made a little noise behind him, and he wasn’t sure if it was an amused or a frustrated one. “How about we keep MJ out of our bedroom for the time being?”

“But -”

“Peter.” Gwen’s voice was soothing, kind of alto, grounding. “I want to do this because I like watching you enjoy yourself. I want to do this because you’re a good human being and I like knowing that I made you feel good. I just need a straight yes or no answer if you want this. Not if MJ wants this, but if you want this.”

Peter felt kind of frozen on the spot, frozen in her arms, except that he was really actually kind of hot and blood was flowing everywhere and he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing anymore, so he just nodded mutely, and allowed himself to be manhandled to lie down on the bed. Gwen snuck out from underneath him and crawled over to the other side instead, sitting down between his knees, T-shirt still stubbornly off her shoulder.

Her hands were on his thighs. This was happening. Alarm. THIS WAS HAPPENING.

“Is this okay?” she asked, as she moved her hands upwards, to where the party was happening. Sort of happening. Where the party was starting to happen, again.

It felt good, actually. Her hands were nice. Even with his jeans still on, this was nice.

“Can I take these off?” she asked. Peter didn’t know how quickly he had to nod.

It was awkward, pulling his jeans off, and they kind of got stuck on his feet at the end, but Gwen just left them there and went straight on to the half tent in his boxers, where his dick was kind of waking up, kind of hesitant, mostly just confused about what was going on. Peter knew exactly how it felt.

“Still okay, Pete? You’re very quiet.”

“I’m good!” he definitely did not squeak. It was just… said in a high pitched voice.

But Gwen drew back anyway. “That doesn’t sound good.”

“I’m really super amazing, I’m great, I’m A-okay, pleasedon’tstop,” he babbled, and God, this would really just be a whole lot easier if his penis got the memo and sped things up a little bit, because this was bound to get some miscommunication going.

Gwen seemed to be convinced enough, though, because she started to pull his jeans free where they were bundled up arouns his feet. Which wasn't even necessarily that sexual, but it had Peter's head spinning anyway. He just had to keep some patience.

He had, like, -15% patience, at this point. He was pretty sure that if he was shaking any harder, he’d vibrate right off the bed.

“There we go. No jeans! There’s step one,” Gwen babbled. Probably to be soothing. It Did Not Work. “Can I touch your thighs, babe?”

Peter wasn’t sure how he felt about being called ‘babe’. Didn’t matter, though. “You can,” he replied hurriedly, because that was something he was definitely sure of.

He thought.

‘Touching his thighs’ apparently meant touching them for maybe ten seconds, before Gwen smiled at him and kissed the inside of his knee at first, then slowly up, alternating sides until she lightly bit the inside of his left thigh, where Peter’s boxers started.

He squeaked. It was totally cool, though, very manly, normal reaction.

Even if Gwen laughed.

“Peter, seriously, it’s fine. I got you, alright? It’s fine. Nothing to be so nervous about. If you like it, we’re all good. If you want me to stop, you just tell me to stop, okay?” She lightly nipped the other thigh, and this time, Peter only twitched in instinct. No noise. He counted it as progress.

“I think we’re good,” he said lightly, and maybe it would’ve come across a lot better if his voice hadn’t been shaking, and if his stomach hadn’t been doing flips nonstop since his pants came off. “Are we good? Are you good?”

Gwen shrugged. “I’ll let you be the judge of that. Can I take your boxers off?”

“Maybe let’s just say that you can do whatever you want?” Peter suggested, because all the nodding and the saying ‘yes’ was just making all of this way more nerve-wrecking, which was ridiculous, because he was twenty years old, and he should be able to handle this. It was a blowjob, for crying out loud. That was great. That was amazing! Then why was he this nervous? And, even more embarrassing, why was he soft?

But instead of doing whatever she wanted, Gwen looked at his boxers for a little too long to be comfortable, before slowly pulling away. Away from his legs, away from him, to the other side of the bed.

Oh, God.

Then, she straightened out her T-shirt to cover her bra strap again.

Oh, no.

“What’s going on?” Peter asked, as smoothly as he could, which basically just meant panicked. “Did I do something wrong? Is everything okay?”

The smile that Gwen offered was both reassuring and completely awkward. “You’re shaking like a leaf, you know.”

Peter looked down. Yeah, he knew.

“That’ll get better, though! I don’t even know, maybe it’s cold here? Is it cold here?” It felt really excruciatingly hot in there, but he wasn’t going to mention that. “And isn’t that always a part of that, though? The first time around?”

Actually, the moment he’d asked that question, he wished he hadn’t, because he really didn’t want to know the answer. Gwen didn’t give him one, though. She just gestured for him to scoot over on his bed, and once he’d numbly done so, she pulled back the cover from the free side. It was kind of cramped, both of them squeezed side by side on the twin bed, but she quietly told him to get under the covers too.

So, there he was. Trapped between the wall and his girlfriend, jeans on the floor, dick soft in his boxers, like the stupidest failure in the whole wide world.

“Let’s watch Netflix,” Gwen simply said. “D’you know any good shows we can watch?”

Peter just stared at her, a little dumbly, with a whole rock collection caught somewhere in his stomach and his whole body trembling with some emotion he couldn’t put his finger on. Maybe fear, maybe nervousness, maybe arousal that never quite made it to his penis. Maybe all of the above. “Uh, yeah,” he finally replied, as she leaned over the side of the bed to get his laptop, “I heard that new Star Trek show is pretty good?”

And so they watched Star Trek until the shaking stopped, and by then, Peter’s mind was too occupied by the stress of introducing Gwen to May (which was a whole other can of uncomfortable beans right there), that he’d almost forgotten about the whole Sex Disaster Thing altogether.

Almost.

-----

Another thing that happened before June 24th, was MJ’s Lesbian Incident. And not the kind of Lesbian Incident most girls thought about having in college.

It was that one time when MJ almost got punched by some goth in a gay bar, somewhere in January. It was the only gay bar around that was rumoured not to be so strict on ID checks, and after the stomach bug that Ned had brought back from home after the holidays, their dorm smelled so bad that they couldn’t really stand hanging out there anymore.

And, well, MJ had insisted on the gay bar. “Unless that’s a problem, of course,” she’d casually said. “Too demasculinizing?”

Peter and Ned just shot each other a quick look. “No, we’re good,” Ned replied hastily.

“Yep,” added Peter. “Let’s go to a gay bar.”

“We’re cool,” Ned went on. “We’re woke. It’s fine.”

MJ just squinted at them for a bit, before her whole face lit up. “Great! Hey, Peter, maybe we can score you a boyfriend there, while we’re at it.”

Right. “I have a girlfriend,” he reminded her.

She raised her eyebrows daringly. “So?”

Ned started off with a “come on, Michelle, those ‘Peter likes guys’ jokes aren’t eve-”, but Peter interrupted him.

“How about we find you one, too?”

MJ’s expression went from suspicious, to hesitant, to slightly hopeful, to kind of amused. “You know what, Parker?” She extended her hand. “You’re on.”

And, well, in Peter’s defense, he really thought he’d found her a great girl. He really did.

The bar wasn’t too crowded, and most of the people in there were in their thirties at the least, so the fact that he’d found any girl their age at all at the bar was a miracle by itself. When she also patiently sat through his feeble attempts at wingmanning (“Hey! Uh. So. Hi, I’m Peter, and I’m-” “Hitting on me in a gay bar?” “What? No, no! My friend just really likes your hair. Like, the pink color, and stuff. Look, hey, there she - MJ! MJ! Come say hi!”), she just felt like a Big Whooping Catch.

And hey, MJ seemed to agree, if the way she ditched Ned and him at their booth was any indication. Peter felt kind of great, actually.

And then the goth chick had come in.

“Hey, babe,” she said, as she walked over to the pink haired girl, and Peter felt all the color drain from his face. “Who’re you talking to?”

The pink-haired girl seemed unphased, though. “Oh! Ellie, this is MJ. MJ, Ellie.”

MJ, on her part, suddenly sat very, very still. “Uh,” she said eloquently. “Maybe I should go.”

The goth chick - Ellie, apparently, raised an eyebrow, and straightened her spine, as she stood a little wider. Peter had seen MJ’s Angry Lesbian mode before, but holy cow, she had nothing on Ellie. That was a girl that could maybe even handle Gwen in an armwrestling match.

“So, princess, you were flirting with my girlfriend, then?” she said, and her voice got to a whole new level of low. “Really? My girl?”

Behind her, pink-haired girl rolled her eyes. “El, come on.”

But Ellie held her finger up to shush her, then stepped a little closer to MJ’s barstool. “Yes or no question, Princess.”

Now, Peter, who considered himself mostly sane and rational, would’ve gotten off of that stool about five billion years ago, no matter his Spidey strength or skills. Because that was a clear ‘f--- off’ if he’d ever seen one. But, well.

MJ was not Peter. “Yes,” she said, as she jutted her chin out. “Yeah, I was. Problem?”

“Oh God, we gotta do something,” Ned whispered next to Peter. “Peter, she’s going to die.”

Ellie did knack her knuckles, her expression completely blank, before she quickly turned to her girlfriend. “Was she bothering you?”

Her girlfriend, in turn, just smiled back at her, like this whole situation wasn’t dangerous as heck. “No, no, she’s really funny, actually. I think you’d like her, too.”

And with that, Ellie turned around again, so quickly that Peter almost thought she was going to really land a punch there - until she just lightly tapped her fist against MJ’s shoulder, and laughed. “Holy fuck, you should’ve seen your face!”

The pink-haired girl just gave her girlfriend a light kick in the leg, before leaning over the bar towards a completely bewildered MJ again. “Sorry about that. Hi, I’m Yukio, and this is my girlfriend, Ellie. We kind of come as a package deal, if you’re, you know. Still interested, after this bullshit.”

MJ seemed to be at a loss of words. Peter could relate. Ned was literally gaping at the whole thing.

“Are you going to kick me in the pussy if I am?” MJ finally asked, and Peter could tell she was leaning away from Ellie just a bit. Smart. Survival instincts, and everything.

But Ellie simply gave a weird, black-lipped smile and extended her hand for about thirty seconds, before MJ warily took it. Then, she brought it up to her lips and kissed it. “Nah,” she said, and it almost sounded like a vow.

When Ned and Peter left to their vomit-smelling dormroom three hours later, MJ waved them off with a distracted “see ya”, with Yukio twirling one of her curls around her finger and Ellie’s hand low on her back.

Peter decided right there and then that he was the best wingman in existence, because he was pretty sure that no wingman had ever gotten someone two girlfriends at once.

-----

And then there had been that incident on his own birthday, on February 18th, when Gwen had dragged him off to May’s place with The Gang to celebrate.

Things still weren’t how they used to be with May, but they were better. Good enough, at least, that she’d invited him and Gwen over for Christmas; good enough that after some stilted and awkward chatting between the three of them, May had taken Peter aside to the kitchen and had told him pretty much that while she still couldn’t understand how he could do such a thing to Mr. Stark, she felt like this was a stupid thing to grow apart over, and that she just wanted her nephew back.

They’d hugged, after that, and Peter had insisted he helped with dinner, because at least then he could blame the water in his eyes on the onions.

So, there they were, in that tiny apartment, with the five of them. And it was nice, with cake, and some booze, and everything, and then the doorbell rang, and -

“Peter, look at me,” May suddenly said, “don’t get mad at me.”

Everyone shut up rather abruptly. Gwen squeezed his arm.

“What?” Peter blinked a few times. “Why?”

But May was already in the hallway, throwing some “hey”s and “how are you?”s out through the open door, and Peter recognized the answering voice immediately. All the color drained from his face.

“May, always a pleasure to see you,” Tony Stark answered. “Congratulations with the kid. Twenty-one, huh? They grow up so fast.”

None of it sounded very sincere. Then, he walked into the living room, and left everyone in that room slightly speechless.

“Oh my God,” whispered Ned. “That’s. That’s really Tony Stark.”

Mr. Stark just lowered his sunglasses a bit so he could look straight at Ned, and winked. “Hey, hi. So I guess you’re the friends. Nice to meet you. I need to borrow the birthday boy for a sec.”

None of them really moved. The Gang because they didn’t really need to; Peter because he felt like he was frozen on his seat.

After a couple of long, tense seconds, it was Ned that broke the silence. “Hi,” he said. “I’m Ned.”

Stark seemed unphased. “Hi, Ned. Nice haircut. Do you know how to reboot Peter? I left my driver out front, I don’t really have that long.”

He made another few ‘follow me’ gestures at Peter, before disappearing into the kitchen, and after another squeeze on his arm from Gwen, Peter numbly followed. Honestly, his instincts weren’t sure whether it was a better plan to storm in there and say all the stupid things that he’d been wanting to say ever since Happy pushed him in that car and drove him home, the day of the Deadpool Fiasco, or if it was safer to just. Well. Run.

He followed, though, and even closed the kitchen door behind him. “Hi.” God, his voice sounded tiny. “Uh. Long time no see. How was your drive over?”

Mr. Stark took his sunglasses off completely now, and Peter honestly felt his shoulders sag with relief just a little bit when he saw that there were no scars or anything left from that day. Not that he’d expected there to be. He’d just been terrified of the idea. “Wade Wilson was back in town a couple of months ago. Did you hear about that?”

A tight knot formed in Peter’s stomach. “Oh,” he said weakly. “Yeah, I know.”

Mr. Stark’s face was unreadable. Which, if Peter remembered correctly, meant that he was pretty agitated. “Rumor has it you met him. Hauled him away when the police showed up. Care to explain?”

Preferably not, Peter thought, but he didn’t really think that that was going to help him. “He was in bad shape.” To say the least. “And I kind of figured… you know, since he could escape from your guys, how was he going to react to being surrounded by police? He had like a bunch of weapons, Mr. Stark, he could’ve hurt them.”

Mr. Stark closed his eyes for a long, long second, as he breathed out a little too calmly. “Or, and stay with me here, they might’ve captured him. I don’t know if you remember, but he was randomly shooting up a street, kid. He’s on basically everyone’s naughty list, now.”

“I know.” He did know. He did, honestly, but he also remembered pretty clearly how lost Wade had sounded right then, how not okay he’d been. He seriously doubted that whatever top notch jail they had for mutants would’ve really helped him with that. “I just thought about the cops’ lives, Mr. Stark, and everyone else in that street if stuff went down, you know?” he lied, and he had to admit, it felt pretty genuine, even. He almost believed it himself. “He was sorta unstable, that could’ve ended in a massacre.”

A long, tense silence fell, in which Mr. Stark simply looked at him, like he wasn’t really convinced himself either. Then he lifted his head up again. “That’s mature. Did not see that coming.”

Peter did his best not to look too relieved. “Well, I’m twenty-one now, definitely not a kid anymore at this point. Right?”

Mr. Stark scoffed a bit at that. For a moment, Peter was convinced he was actually leaning in to ruffle his hair or degradingly pinch his cheek, but then he just put his sunglasses back on. “Please remember that when you get so drunk that you can’t walk.”

“I’m not even sure I can get drunk, Mr. Stark. With my metabolism.”

“Huh.” Mr. Stark rubbed his beard. “Never thought of that. Doesn’t matter. Anyway -” He grabbed the edge of the counter and hopped on, pulling his sunglasses away again just enough to look Peter in the eye. “I got all your weepy apology-slash-’get well soon’ cards, and I have to admit, I was too pissed off to read them at the time, just threw them straight out.”

Well. At least that clarified the lack of reply. “Oh.”

He held his hand up. “Wasn’t finished. I was angry, I felt betrayed, and it’s hard to be nice to someone who caused you to have broken basically every rib in your body, you know? Try and be sympathetic towards that. Jesus.”

“Sorry,” Peter squeaked, but the hand came up again.

“Anyway.” Mr. Stark cleared his throat. “I saw your new suit in the news, and I saw the YouTube compilations of you smacking on your face because that suit is a piece of garbage, no offense. So.” He took his sunglasses off again, just to add to the dramatics. “Do you want your old one back? You can have it back.”

Peter’s heart jumped up into his throat, and he honestly felt a little bit dizzy, but at the same time, an alarm was going off in the back of his head. “In exchange for what?”

The corner of Mr. Stark’s mouth twitched, and Peter could almost project some long lost fatherly pride on there, for figuring out that this was a business deal, not a birthday gift. “The only thing that you have to do, is the next time you see Wilson, you leave him alone. You just go away. No interfering, no chatting, nothing - just go.”

A few seconds ticked by. On one hand, Peter had a gut feeling that if he should run into Wade Wilson again, he was definitely going to say something, because it had been two full months now without a peep from him. And honestly? It sucked. He’d really thought that they had been making progress, that last time around, and now he’d just… left.

On the other hand, Wade had left. The chances of him showing up again this year? Small, if Peter had to go by experience. And this was Karen.

“Okay,” said Peter. “Deal.”

-----

Which brings us to June 24th, 2022, on MJ’s twenty-first birthday, in that one gay bar that didn’t check any IDs (even though everyone was technically of age, now), with all of them sitting around the table. Peter in between Ned and Gwen, and MJ in between her girlfriends, steadily getting way drunker than they probably ought to be.

Turned out that Peter’s metabolism did famously little to process alcohol faster than the average human, so six beers in, he started to kind of… feel it. Really feel it.

And the rest, apparently, too.

“Peter? Peter. Pete. Petey.” MJ eventually threw a napkin at his face to get his attention. “Peter, let me give you some life advice. I’m old and wise now.”

Peter snorted. “I’m older than you.”

But MJ simply waved a hand in front of her face. “Doesn’t matter. I’m wiser than you. Peter, you know what you should do?”

Peter had several things planned out for himself to do, but he was pretty sure that MJ wasn’t going to suggest ‘have a leak’ and ‘get another beer’. “Spill.”

“Eat out this queen twenty times as much as you do right now,” Ellie filled it in, as Yukio nodded towards Gwen - who, on her part, was suddenly very focused on peeling the label of her beer bottle. “Life hack. I swear.”

Oh.

Right.

He looked over at Gwen. Gwen looked back; the unspoken ‘twenty times zero is still zero’ hung heavily unspoken in the air. “Uh. Thanks, guys. I’ll keep it in mind.”

See, here was the thing; they’d tried again, several times actually, after that first sucky attempt. But it never really worked. Everything would be fine and dandy just with some kissing and with them getting a little handsy, but the moment they were trying to do anything more, it just felt… uncomfortable. Peter would either get too caught up in the logistics, or get distracted halfway through, and either way they would end up with a completely disinterested penis and a nice, frustrating strain on their relationship.

But that was just one of those things that he wasn’t going to throw a Peter’s Problems Party for. One of those things he preferred not to discuss with his friends - at all.

“Actually…” Gwen cleared her throat. “Peter, can I talk to you?”

Oh, cazzo. Peter felt his stomach drop.

MJ cleared her throat. “I didn’t mean that you have to do it right now.”

Peter ignored her. “Yeah, we can talk.”

Gwen just nodded, and stood up. He’d half expected her to go outside, to where a couple of people were smoking cigarettes, but instead, she lead him to the unisex toilets, where she grabbed his hand and stopped in the middle of the room.

“Any poopers?” she asked the toilet stalls.

No response. She turned back to him.

“Peter…” she started, and Peter’s breathing stopped.

That wasn’t a good ‘Peter’. That wasn’t a happy ‘Peter’. That wasn’t a ‘let’s make out in the toilets and maybe try again’ sort of ‘Peter’. This was a ‘we need to talk’ kind of ‘Peter’. And it really was.

“We need to talk.”

He nodded mutely. Honestly, he couldn’t talk if he wanted to.

“I don’t think we’re working out,” she went on, and the more she said, the less he wanted to hear it. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, here. I like you, a lot, and I think you’re fantastic, and I really don’t want you to think -”

“Is it the sex?”

His voice was quieter than intended, and Gwen’s look was a whole lot more pitying than he’d ever wished. “It’s not that.”

But it was that. Peter knew it.

“It’s just… I don’t know. How do you feel about us?”

He tried to let the question sink in properly, through the slowness of the alcohol. “Good? Happy?”

“Comfortable?” Gwen guessed.

“Yeah.” Comfortable was a good word for it.

But Gwen seemed to disagree, if the sad smile was anything to go by. “See, that’s exactly how I feel.”

“But what’s wrong with that? Isn’t comfortable nice?”

“Comfortable is definitely nice,” she agreed. “But I’m comfortable around all my friends. It doesn’t make us a good couple.”

Slowly, a lump was forming in Peter’s throat. “But that’s not the same, right? I mean, I really like you, and we get along great, and I think you’re really attractive, and stuff, and -”

“But do you ever feel that thrill, Pete?” Gwen insisted. “Do you ever kiss me and then can’t stop thinking about it for days on end? Because I don’t. We’ve been dating for over half a year now, and we can’t even be intimate. And that’s not your fault, Pete, it really isn’t, but I just don’t think we work well together.”

Some heavy seconds ticked by. “So this is about the sex.”

“This is about the fact that you think you’ve got your eye on me, just because we’re close.” Gwen swallowed audibly. “And I was going to wait until you were going to find out by yourself, but I honestly started to think that you weren’t going to see it.”

The whole world started shaking a bit, and Peter’s chest felt tight. “So… that’s it?”

He honestly couldn’t stand the pitying look that Gwen gave him at that, nor the kiss on his forehead. He had always been aware that he was shorter than her; he’d never actually felt small next to her up until now.

“Trust me, you’re better off like this.” Then she stepped back, squeezed his shoulder slightly for a bit, and cleared her throat. “I think I’d… yeah, I should go. Tell MJ I’m sorry I had to leave so soon, okay?”

Peter nodded dumbly. His eyes were firmly fixed on the ceiling, but even the ceiling started to get blurry with tears.

By the time he went to sit down on one of the closed toilets, Gwen was long gone.

-----

The guy that stormed into his toilet stall was so quick, Peter barely heard him coming.

“Fuckfuckfuckfuck,” he swore, as he swiftly got in and closed the door behind him, standing with his back towards Peter. “Fucking patriotic asshat.”

“What the hell?” said Peter, and the man turned around rapidly.

Peter literally jumped up. That was Wade. Unmasked, unsuited, just in a hoodie and sweatpants, Wade. He looked just as shocked as Peter felt.

“What the hell?!” Wade repeated, until he suddenly shook his head and clamped a hand over Peter’s mouth. “Fuck. We need to shut the fuck up.”

So that’s what they did, for the next minute or two, as Peter desperately tried to process that Wade Wilson was now suddenly in his toilet stall of sadness. Even worse; Peter wasn’t wearing his mask right now, so Wade just knew him as the dude who fucked him over and God, this was not a confrontation he wanted to have right now. Maybe he didn’t recognize him, though. Oh, he so hoped that he didn’t recognize him.

It was kind of a cramped stall, way too small for two people, at least. Peter was basically pressed up against him; he was so ridiculously warm that Peter suddenly felt too hot, too.

Which was unfair, because literally every other stall was unoccupied. “You could also go to the stall next door,” he suggested politely. “You could have some more breathing room?”

But Wade just fixed him with a cold stare of too warm eyes. “Wanna get a butterface like mine? Keep talking.”

“You’re an asshole, you know,” Peter snapped back, because that was the brilliant conclusion he pulled from this, in his sad, drunken state. “That was rude.”

At that, Wade made a shocked noise. “Wh- me?! An asshole? Excuse me, Mr. ‘Tony Stark molested me’!”

Ah. Okay. So he did recognize him.

Now he really felt too hot. “I’m sorry! I told you I’m sorry, like, so many times! I kept texting you, but you changed your number.”

Wade stayed silent for just a beat too long. “No, I didn’t.”

“You didn’t?”

“Just didn’t want to reply to a complete dick.” Wade huffed. “Can’t believe I told you about Vanessa.”

Peter very suddenly felt the color drain from his face. Wade had never told him about Vanessa; Wade had told Spider-Man about Vanessa. “Wh-”

“You put your number in my phone, but there were already a whole load of pathetically sorry messages there. And you know what? It’s 2022, you really don’t need to end every text with your name anymore. You’re not eighty.”

Wade’s tone was sharp, but there was something in there that felt a bit like a kick to the balls to listen to. Peter felt a hint of Tiny Puppy Feelings, right there.

“I really am sorry,” he finally said. “I… I don’t know. I just knew you as the guy that stabbed me? It somehow felt a lot more okay to do something so bad when my side kept hurting. Thought you were much more of a dick than you turned out to be.”

Wade blinked a few times. “You’re swearing a lot more than usual.”

Peter blinked right back. “I think I’m drunk.”

“Is that why you were crying?”

Immediately, Peter went to wipe at his already dry face, before recollecting himself. Sorta. “What? No.”

A scarred thumb wiped something wet off of his jaw anyway. “You totally were.”

A heavy silence hung in the very, very tiny space between them for a long while, until Peter finally admitted: “I think I just got dumped.”

“Oh.” Something in Wade’s face shifted. “By that girl you were texting on the rooftop?”

Peter nodded.

“Why?”

At that, Peter let out a humorless laugh, that sounded slightly desperate, maybe, mostly sad. “Turns out my… stuff, doesn’t work.”

Wade raised his hairless eyebrows. “Your stuff?”

“My junk! My thing!” Peter made a desperate gesture at his groin, before realizing that one, Wade really didn’t need to know this, and two, he was officially way drunker than he thought he was. “I mean -”

Somewhere outside of the toilets, footsteps were approaching, and Wade immediately put a hand over his mouth. Again.

“Okay, Petey, you know what?” he whispered, and he suddenly sounded very stressed. “If you help me out right now, we’re all good, okay? Totally forgiven. Can you do that.”

Peter blinked a few times through the haze of the alcohol, then nodded.

“Right. Okay.” Wade pulled up his hood. “I’m going to kiss you now. Is that okay? Yes or no.”

Peter’s heartbeat sped up. Just like the footsteps. Oh, what the hell, I’ve kissed people before, was the first thing his stupid, stupid drunk brain thought. Then, he nodded again.

Why on earth he did that - he had no idea.

Not that he had any more time to think about that, because Wade lifted him up. Just like that. Enough for Peter to wrap his legs around his waist, enough to be face to face when Wade mouthed a quick ‘sorry’ at him, before he leaned in and caught his mouth with his own.

But here was the catch, though, here was the thing; he had kissed people before, but never in his life had he kissed Wade Wilson before. And kissing Wade? Yeah, that was…

Different didn’t quite cut it.

It was overwhelming, at least. The heat of him, the rough feeling of his scars against his lips, the hand in his hair that pulled just enough for a jolt of electricity to shoot down his spine - he even gasped, almost in shock, and his mind went even hazier than before.

And, well, the rest of that story was pretty much known. Amazing kiss, amazing embarrassment, a shocked Steve Rogers.

“Holy shit,” Peter squeaked, because yeah, he’d met him in person before, but that didn’t make this any less huge, especially with the position he was in. He could barely see him over Wade’s shoulder, but it was enough to see the completely shocked look on his face.

“Occupied,” grumbled Wade, and his voice was a lot hoarser than normal, and Peter wasn’t sure if that was on purpose or -

“Ohfuck,” he breathed, because Wade was definitely sucking on his neck now, and some whimper-like noise escaped his throat before he could help it.

While still locking eyes with Captain fucking America.

“I’m looking for -” Steve started, but Wade let go of the skin of Peter’s neck with an obscene noise and a low rumble in his chest, and Peter’s skin felt like it was boiling. “I’m looking for a very scarred man, about my height - can you stop?!”

But Wade didn’t stop. Wade kissed a path up to Peter’s ear and started whispering, and all attention for Steve Rogers or this messed up situation flew right out of the window.

“Tell him to fuck off, babe,” he purred. “Like hell that I’m gonna wait one more second - wanna have you screaming against these tiles with my tongue so goddamn deep in that perky little ass of yours that the whole neighborhood can hear it -”

“Right!” declared Rogers, a little too loudly, with his face just a shade too red. “Let me know if you see something, and please, for the love of God, go home.”

And with that he left, probably, maybe - honestly, Peter wasn’t focused on it. Peter was focused on the constant tingling in his abdomen, his wrecked breath, and the way his hands were desperately clawing at Wade’s hoodie, because he didn’t trust his leg muscles to keep clinging to Wade’s waist like they were supposed to.

He felt drunker and higher than ever before. Honestly, by the time Wade put him down, he felt like his knees were too damned weak to take it.

“Holy fuck,” he breathed. His head lolled to the side, until he was leaning against the wall of the bathroom stall. “Holy… wha’wasthat?”

Wade cleared his throat and hastily got out of the bathroom stall to splash some water in his face at the sinks. “Dude is more than a century old. I don’t know how he knew I was going to be here, but I figured that that amount of PDA between two guys would turn any grandpa off. Even if it’s Pride.”

Peter was sure there was some logic in there that he would probably understand if his head wasn’t swimming. “It’s Pride?”

“Get woke, Peter, it’s Pride.” Wade rubbed his face a little, and Peter decided it was a good idea to do the same. His face tingled. Everything did.

He was pretty sure MJ had said something about that. Or maybe not. Who cared. “Why’re you here, anyway? You disappeared.”

Wade scoffed. “Just because I didn’t wanna text some little asshole doesn’t mean that I wasn’t here. Just laying low for a bit.”

Some little asshole.

Oh.

“I thought we were even, now.” God, there was actually a knot forming in his stomach again. Was that just a lie?

“We are,” Wade said, and the knot relaxed a bit again. “Even Steven. Hah, get it? Because his name is Steve? Anywhoozles. Thanks, Spidey.”

Oh, cazzo. Yeah. That was another problem, and one that got his anxiety skyrocketing again instantly. “Wait, wait - did you tell anyone?”

Wade stopped walking. “What, your identity? Nah, I don’t out supers. Big market for it, but it’s just not my kinda game.” With that said, Wade straightened his back enough to crack it, and shook himself loose again. “Your stuff seems to be operating just fine, by the way.” He blinked a couple of times, and it took Peter a second or two before he followed his gaze and noticed the tent in his pants.

Ohmygod,” he whispered.

“You can say that again.” Wade cleared his throat. “Hot damn. That’s… some stuff. That’s - anyway, I should go, so. Bye.”

And with that, he bolted, leaving Peter behind on the closed toilet seat with the most stubborn tent in his pants he’d ever had, wanting the ground to swallow him whole.

-----

It was only when Peter was in his bed, listening to Ned’s steady snoring, that it started to dawn on him that he still had no idea what the hell Wade or Captain America had been doing there in the first place.

Except that now, he had a way of finding out.

Why were you at that bar tonight? -Peter

Ten minutes passed by.

Then twenty.

Honestly, Peter had already kind of drifted off when he heard the buzz of his phone again.

there to pick up the babies. tnx for helping me out then. srry if u feel gross rn

And then, a quick:

i heard that crying in the shower might help. it was all 4 grandpa, my conscience is guilt tripping me atm bcs you were drunk and emotionally unstable and i probz shouldve found a way to get outta there without taking advantage

Peter had to read and reread the text again before finally concluding that well, apparently, Wade was honestly serious about this.

Should he feel violated? He didn’t, not really. Wade had asked him, anyway. He could’ve said no. He’d said yes, and he had meant it.

If he was very, very honest, he hadn’t wanted him to stop at any point after that, either. God, that had been… something.

It had been something, alright.

Don’t feel guilty, I’m fine. If I’d wanted you to stop, I easily could’ve pushed you away. After a moment of hesitation, and not-quite-sober-yet bravery, he added: You’re a good kisser. -Peter

This time, the answer was almost immediate.

;) ;) ;) tnx. ur strength is so hot btw

Peter rolled his eyes.

Who are the babies? -Peter

some mutant little assholes who forgot we had a playdate

There were mutants in the bar? -Peter

yep. ur very unobservant.

Thanks. Who are they? -Peter

i dont out mutants either. can i ask something honest?

Peter had a feeling he was going to regret this.

If it’s not crude? -Peter

But it wasn’t. It was worse.

were u going to sell me out to stark last fall? after u got me on that rooftop

He honestly didn’t know what to say to that, because his first reaction was ‘of course not’, but he was more shocked about the fact that it had never occurred to him that Wade might think that. He had tried it once as Peter, so of course, if he found out that he was Spider-Man, why wouldn’t he think that? Why wouldn’t he mistrust him?

He wasn’t, though. Wade had to know that he wasn’t.

No. -Peter

The reply took longer than before.

why? u had me right there. ur bad at this business.

Because you’re a nice guy, you just make bad decisions. -Peter

After a moment’s pause, he added:

Just like my attempt to sell you out was a very bad decision. And I’m sorry. -Peter

guess i made worse mistakes when i was your age. whats a friendship without some betrayal, amirite?

Something small and hopeful and bright started to blossom in Peter’s chest, and he tried to squash it down the moment he felt it. He wasn’t supposed to associate himself with Deadpool. He wasn’t supposed to do any of this.

He was intriguing, though. He was definitely something.

And some light stabbing. Does this mean we’re friends? -Peter

But with Wade’s last text, his attempts to squash down that feeling were definitely overruled.

it means that next time we have tacos, ur paying, and then we’re friends

Chapter Text

It was about a week later when Peter saw Wade again.

Not even in an alleyway, not this time around. No, it was on one of those evenings where every criminal in New York was kind of laying low, where the city that never slept was having a slight snooze after all. It had a nice sunset, too, at least from the roof of the skyscraper that Peter was chilling on.

“Ermergerd, it’s Spider-Man!” said a familiar voice behind him, so suddenly that Peter almost jumped up and fell off the ledge. A strong hand grabbed his shoulder, though - and that was sudden enough that he almost threw Wade off the building instead.

Peter almost couldn’t hear Wade’s snort over the pounding of his own heart. “What the heck? Don’t do that! Don’t - how did you get here, anyway?”

His heart kept up the marathon pace as Wade sat down next to him and swung his feet off the ledge. “Saw you sitting there and decided to say hi.” He turned his masked face and his lenses squeezed together in what looked like a smile. “Hi!”

“Hi,” Peter replied, still half in shock. How had his Spidey sense not picked up on that? Honestly, the more he relied on those super instincts, the less he felt like he could trust them. “Did you honestly ride the lift all the way up?”

Wade scoffed. “I tried, but those assholes wouldn’t let me. Apparently I ‘looked like a threat’ and I was asked to leave.”

“But you’re here, anyway.”

“Duh.” Wade leaned backwards, until his spine made an uncomfortable curve off the ledge, onto the roof. “Nobody climbs the stairs, though, no one even watches them, so I just walked up here.”

If he was being totally honest, Peter felt somewhat impressed. “This building is like sixty stories tall.”

Wade groaned through probably the unhealthiest and weirdest-looking sit-up ever as he sat back up. “It sure is.”

Peter wanted to laugh, even though he knew that really, there was barely anything funny about this. “Aren’t you… tired?”

“Practically dead!” Wade replied cheerfully. “My calves are burning, and I’m pretty sure I lost a lung along the way. Worth it, though, because holy fuck.” For a moment, Peter was genuinely confused, until a large hand was suddenly poking the spider symbol on his chest. The sensation was dulled by the spider, but the whole gesture still kind of felt… ‘in his space’. “Look at you! Your old suit, resurrected!”

“Oh, yeah, kind of.” Peter wiggled his fingers in front of his nose, watching as the different options in the option menu popped up in front of his lenses. “They weren’t able to save Karen, though.”

“Uhh.” Wade paused for a moment, then tilted his head. “I’m… sorry? I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but rip in peace, Karen.”

Peter switched the options menu off again and turned, so he could sit cross-legged on the ledge and face Wade properly. “The I-P in R-I-P stand for ‘in peace’ too, you know.”

Wade raised an eyebrow, and Peter wasn’t quite sure how he could see that through the mask, but he did. “What, you don’t want your loved ones to rest in peace in peace?”

“How else would they rest in peace?” asked Peter - not really because he wanted to know, but he liked this, he liked that Wade seemed to want to be friendly with him, and he wasn’t going to let up a chance like this.

“Restlessly!” said Wade. “Worrying about whether they left the stove on? The rest of eternity is a long time to leave a stove on.”

“I’m sure that Karen is fine.” Even if it was oddly quiet, now. “She was an AI built into the suit, but repairing that after the stabbing thing was apparently too expensive.” Or a last, small punishment, actually. He was pretty sure that she was still there, otherwise the menu would probably be gone too and the suit would be a lot less simple to use, she just wasn’t talking.

Wade, without any provocation, started touching him again - just to pull at the fabric of the suit, pulling it away from his skin and letting it gently snap back. “Made by Stark, right?”

He hadn’t really expected how that name could bring up such a heavy dose of instant guilt. “Uh,” he said, “yeah. Yeah, it is.”

“So it wasn’t too expensive, he just didn’t think it was worth it?”

The guilt settled coldly in the pit of Peter’s stomach. Honestly, he couldn’t blame Mr. Stark. “I guess he had his reasons. It still mostly works, though. It’s just… quieter.”

Wade made a non-committal sound. “Hm, wow, wouldn’t that be nice?”

Peter had no idea what to say to that, so he decided not to say anything at all, and just started to shift as the silence got less and less comfortable as seconds passed by.

Because, see, here was something that Peter had been thinking about a lot in the past few days; he knew basically nothing about Wade, at all. And yet, with that, he had sort of become a… fixation. Because whenever he thought that his life was settling into something comfortable, he would just blink twice, and boom, there he was again.

And it was thrilling.

It was unsettling.

Because here were the things that he did know: Wade Wilson did Bad Stuff for money. Wade Wilson had stabbed him once. Wade Wilson apparently had voices in his head at some point (probably this point still, if Peter could rely on that comment just now), had shot about a gazillion bullets at the hallucination of someone he had killed years ago, was really intensely scarred, and was kind of unpredictable.

Peter also knew that he was loyal, though. And he was kind, when he wanted to be.

And he was a really good kisser.

Which was something that he had also been thinking about a lot, because despite the fact that about 80% of the List of Things He Knew About Wade Wilson wasn’t necessarily positive, he still couldn’t deny that he had… reacted. In a certain way. To that kiss.

And Peter felt awful about it, because it was one of those kisses where he couldn’t stop thinking about it, for days on end. One of those kisses that he had never had with Gwen, someone that he trusted and liked a lot, but that he did have with someone who had literally stabbed him at one point. A man that had literally stabbed him at one point.

But the fact of the matter remained around kisses that you couldn’t stop thinking about, that you couldn’t stop thinking about them. So Peter didn’t. Not when he woke up tired and hungover that next day, not when the remains of the hickey that Wade had left had faded away completely another day later, not when he was in class, not when he was eating, not when he went to bed. He never stopped thinking about it, because it was so weird, and it was so stupid at the same time, because it hadn’t even been real, and of course he wouldn’t have wanted it to be real, but when Wade had whispered those things about -

“Spidey. Spidey! Spiiiiiiiiiiiides, woohooh!” A gloved hand snapped its fingers in front of Peter’s nose, and Peter immediately lost track of his train of thought. “Whoah, where were you at?”

You and how you’re confusing me.. “Nothing. Just… tired, I guess.”

Wade looked at his wrist. There was no watch. “But it’s only a quarter past shit in the early evening! Are you okay? Are you ill?”

“What?” Peter rubbed his face. “No, no, I’m fine. Also - why do you keep calling me Spidey, when you know my name?”

Wade shrugged. “I don’t out supers. Just in case one of those security assholes turns up again to kick me out - or off, I guess - and overhears, you know?”

Peter didn’t want to think about how thoughtful that was. That was normal. That was not something to add to the good-bad tally he was subconsciously keeping on the man. “Oh. Thanks.”

“No problem.” Wade kicked his legs up one at a time, dangling them off the ledge. “You still owe me tacos, by the way.”

Oh, right. The tacos. “You mean now?” He instinctively patted at his thighs, until he remembered the distinct lack of pockets he had. “I don’t have any money.”

Wade squeezed his shoulder. “Aw, honey. I get it. You’re twelve. You don’t get enough pocket money to pay - it’s fine! I’m sure we can save up for a couple of months, right?”

Peter poked him in the ribs, but there was a half smile on his face anyway. “Screw you, Wade.”

“You know, for someone who’s against swearing, you sure use ‘screw’ a lot. I mean, what even is the technical difference between fucking and screwing?”

That was just one thing that Peter preferred not to get into right now, and not with him. “It’s just neater, Wade. Pool. Should I call you Pool?”

Wade shrugged. “It’s probably better in costume, but it’s nice to hear my name. Call me Wade.”

“Okay. Saying ‘screw’ is neater, Wade.”

Wade held up a finger. “But! Alas! The act is not!”

Uh. “What? Why? Isn’t it -”

“The same, you ask? Okay, let me paint you a word picture; if I say ‘I want to screw you hard on my desk’, would it be any cleaner than ‘I want to fuck you hard on my desk’? I’d say both are pretty vulgar.”

Peter felt some heat rise to his cheeks, but he willed it down. He willed it down. Willed it down. Bye, heat. There was no need for any heat, because he refused to picture Wade’s word painting to begin with. “It sounds dirtier because you made both of them sexual!”

Wade shrugged. “Not necessarily. Wanting to screw you on a desk could also mean I just want to put a drill right through you and literally screw you down. Onto the desk.”

Peter also didn’t want to picture that. “I’m not buying you tacos if you do that.”

“Just realized that this whole thing works a lot better with drilling. ‘I want to drill you on the desk’ or ‘onto the desk’... except you’d need a screw in there somewhere to keep you stuck to the desk? Oh, no, no, I see it now, it’s nasty.” Wade shuddered. “That’s gross.”

Peter couldn’t agree more. Time for a different subject. “So, are you… back? Here? For good?”

It fell quiet for a little bit, while Wade inspected some non-existent spot on his glove. “Dunno. I guess it’s never for good, but it’s nice for now, at least.”

Peter felt a little speckle of relief at that; when he had disappeared the last time, especially in such a bad shape, it was hard not to feel guilty, somehow. Like he’d done something wrong.

Well, he had. Of course. But that was in hindsight.

“So whatever Cap was chasing you about, that’s settled now?”

“Oh, I fucking wish.” Wade cracked his knuckles before Peter had the time to anticipate it, and he shuddered at the sound. “No, as it turns out, your boss likes me even less since I beat the shit out of him. Such drama, and everything.”

An extra dosis guilt stacked on top of the other guilt. “I’m sorry.”

“‘s fine.” Wade waved it off, literally, flapping his hand in front of his face. “Things between me and Daddy Stark weren’t really great to begin with, but now that he’s made nice with all those Avenger folks again, it’s a real pain in the ass to keep avoiding them.”

Peter shifted a little as another question bubbled up. Then why would you stay here? He didn’t want to ask it, though. Wasn’t quite sure why, yet.

Probably because Wade was nice. He really was nice, and he liked hanging out like this, and if he just bought some tacos, they could be friends. And that would be nice, too. He liked the idea of that.

But Wade solved his little crisis by answering the question regardless of the fact that it hadn’t been asked yet. “Can’t go anywhere else right now, though, because those stupid babies just had to get a ‘real education’ and ‘learn something other than fighting for once, fuck off, Wade’ and ‘what, are you saying we can’t get a degree just because we’re mutants? Or is it because we’re girls, Wade?!’. And I really thought they’d get better after puberty, but man, Spidey - kids your age? Horrible! So political, so fucking stubborn, I swear to God. Back in my day, all you did in college was get hammered and fuck people - when did all that thinking and standing up for your rights come around? I feel too fucking old for this job.”

Honestly? Honestly. Peter had to focus on his breathing to not laugh. “That’s… too bad to hear? I guess?”

Wade let out an annoyed, long groan. “I knoooow. But I can’t do this work without those kids, because they’re good, and they’re quick, but they’re just so involved in the world and they really don’t like listening to me, at all.”

Peter found he didn’t really mind. “So I’m taking that the kids are my age? They’re not babies, Wade. They’re adults.”

“Adults that are too busy going to marches and kissing girls to save the stupid world.”

“Save the world?” Peter heard some excitement sneak into his voice. “I mean - what’s going on? Can I help?”

Wade immediately snapped his head up at him. “Nothing and nope,” he replied shortly. “Nah.”

Oh, come on. “What, because I’m too young? Because I’m too small and stupid and inexperienced?” Really, honestly, with the list of things that should be red flags about Wade, he hadn’t expected that one of them should be that he would treat him in exactly the same way as Mr. Stark did.

The disappointment he felt in his stomach was a little heavier than it had any right to be.

But Wade just snorted. “Dude, no, you’re even stronger than I am, you’d be fine. But you’re a hero, and this is some gray area shit that you don’t really need to be involved in.”

Oh. Alright.

“What kind of gray area?” he asked carefully, because there was this little voice at the back of Peter’s mind that reminded him that while nice, Wade was still known for doing some criminal stuff, pretty bad criminal stuff, often the kind of stuff that ended up with people dying, and if someone was going to die while he had the option to do something…

“Let’s say it’s about as bad as dealing pot?” Wade offered. “Illegal, but no one gets hurt.”

“No one gets hurt,” Peter repeated, slowly. Okay, that wasn’t too bad. Not bad enough that he had to push, at least.

Even if he was 234987% convinced it was totally different than dealing pot. Because dealing pot didn’t save the world.

“Did you think I was going to go on a murder spree again?” Wade asked, and it sounded both like a joke and not a joke at all.

“What? No, not really.”

Some seconds came and went. “... were you worried the babies were going to get hurt?” And, then, after a moment, in a slightly softer voice: “Aw, that I was going to get hurt?”

Peter refused to look in his direction, even though he wouldn’t be able to see his face anyway. “It’s not weird to worry about people, you know.”

“Aw!” Wade repeated, but now a lot louder. “You were totally worried about me!”

“Shuddup.”

“Spidey, how adorable!”

“Of course I care, okay?” Peter finally said. “I want none of my friends to get hurt.”

Wade fell silent next to him. Peter tried not to let that silence bother him. Silences like those were only stressful if the thing he’d just said was somehow game-changing; it wasn’t.

“But we haven’t had tacos yet.” Wade’s voice was joking. His tone was not. “I mean, Spides, dude, you’re not my friend yet. We had a deal.”

Yeah, they had a deal, but there was a point after thinking about someone for a week straight and somehow subconsciously deciding that all their problems weren’t a turn off, but just something he wanted to help with, where the friendship was just There, regardless of taco rules. “Then you can be my friend post tacos, but I’ll be yours right off the bat, okay?”

Wade just stared for a good half minute, before Peter heard him swallow.

“Okay.”

-----

“Wait, so you and Gwen have been broken up for ten days?” Ned almost sounded genuinely heartbroken. “Pete, I’m so sorry. That sucks.”

MJ sounded kind of offended, actually. “And you didn’t tell us?”

“I’m telling you now.” And okay, maybe he had felt kind of weird about not telling at least Ned immediately, too, but he knew that if he was going to tell them about the breakup, he had to tell them about what happened afterwards (because not telling them just felt like lying), and he hadn’t really been ready for that.

But today was their hangout night, so now was as good a time as any. Even if this was the first time that MJ dragged one of her girlfriends along to one of their nights ‘to get some bonding going’.

Ellie shrugged and chewed on her gum. “She was too serious anyway.”

Peter frowned. “No, she wasn’t. She was nice.”

“Oh, yeah. Very nice. Fucking boring, though.” She blinked up at him with an expression that both held some fake innocence and a hint of challenge. “But I’m guessing that you didn’t date her for her sense of humor?”

MJ snorted. Ned looked away. Peter just frowned some more. “What d’you mean?”

“Well…” Ned started.

“Dude, she’s -” Ellie interrupted.

“She’s really hot, Peter.” MJ’s face was completely blank. “I’d do her.”

Wow. Okay. Honestly, Peter wasn’t sure why having them say that made that his cheeks turned bright red, but they did, despite the fact that he knew that MJ thought that.

“Your girlfriend is right there,” whispered Ned. “Come on, Michelle.”

But Ellie shrugged. “Nah, she’s right, I’d do her too.”

“I’m pretty sure Yuk would agree, too, if she were here.”

Something uneasy and somewhat bitter - was that jealousy? Why would he be jealous? - started to grow in the pit of Peter’s stomach, when Ned stepped in from where he was sitting at his desk. “Yeah, where’s Yukio, anyway?”

MJ shrugged. Ellie just raised an eyebrow real quick, in a gesture that basically seemed like a shrug, too. “She had some other shit to do. You’ll see her when you see her.”

Peter really hoped so, because if experience told him anything, Yukio was the softest out of the three of them; MJ was just vicious, Ellie was kind of snappy in her own reserved way, but Yukio seemed to be that bright bundle of positivity that glued the three of them together. And her hair was a different colour every time Peter saw her. He really, really liked her.

“But that’s not the point here, anyway.” MJ sat up from where she was seated on the floor and cracked her back. “What happened? Why the breakup?”

Immediately, Peter wished they could just go back to avoiding the point. He actually felt himself shrink away a little on his bed, as he drew his knees up to his chest and leaned his chin on it. “I dunno. Just. We were a bad match, or something.”

Ned’s face screwed up in something sympathetic. “Sorry, buddy.”

“Really?” Ellie sounded sceptical. “And that took you… what, six months to figure out? That’s kind of dumb.”

“Babe,” said MJ lowly.

But Ellie pushed on. “No, I mean it. That Gwen girl was a catch, Peter, even if she was boring, and you’re one assholish son of a bitch if you lead her on for this long.”

“Ellie,” said MJ, in that same tone, “come on.”

“So you just condone this? That’s grade A fuckboy behavior, you know.” Ellie actually, physically scooted away from her girlfriend just for this, and sent Peter a venomous look, that went straight to his guilt-knotted stomach.

“I didn’t mean to,” he heard himself say/squeak. “It just… it just didn’t work out.”

Ellie smiled without any genuinity. “Because you got bored of fucking her and acted like a dick ‘til she dumped you?”

Peter actually felt a little bit sick at this point, and he couldn’t believe how he was starting to feel guilty about things he hadn’t even done, when MJ suddenly grabbed Ellie’s arm until they were looking right at each other.

“I love you, but that’s my friend, and that’s not how this happened, so shut up,” she whispered sharply. “He’s just… Jesus, Peter, can you just tell them? Are you there yet? Because it’d help a lot, here.”

Suddenly, Peter felt all their stares pretty hard, and he wished he could hide behind his legs even more than he already was. “What d’you mean?”

MJ said nothing, just waited a couple of seconds. “Alright,” she finally said. “Not there yet, then.”

“Not where?”

Oh,” said Ellie. “Right. My bad.”

Peter dropped his legs off the bed again and grabbed onto his own arms. “Guys, not where?”

MJ just patted his leg. “You’ll get there.”

“Get where?” asked Ned, right at the same time when Peter did, but the girls just nodded at each other, after which MJ gave Ellie a short kiss on the cheek - which was returned on the chin, leaving MJ with a dark lipstick stain right there.

When Peter looked up at Ned in the silence that fell afterward, Ned looked just as confused as he did, and shrugged.

“Sorry that you spent my birthday drunk crying in the bathroom, by the way.” It was MJ that finally broke the silence. “Next time someone breaks up with you on my birthday, you’re welcome to come out after and just depression drink the pain away.”

Ah. Right. The birthday party. Peter pictured himself leaving the bathroom the moment Gwen had and drinking with his friends instead of… doing what he did afterwards.

He wasn’t sure if he liked that version of events better.

“It wasn’t all that bad,” he finally said. When that got him a couple of very questioning looks, he felt a little spike of adrenaline course through his veins as the words rolled over his tongue: “Somethingkindaweirdhappenedafterthat.”

Ellie’s signature eyebrow shot up. “Did Captain America catch you crying on the shitter?”

Peter felt his cheeks turn very, very hot. “What? How did you know he was there?!”

“Oh, man, Pete, sorry. I don’t know how I forgot about that!” Ned rubbed his face. “Yeah, no, Captain America totally stormed into the bar that night, it was super cool. He was looking for some scarred man, apparently? Captain America in action! It was amazing.”

MJ rolled her eyes. “He literally just asked if anyone had seen a scarred dude and left within two minutes.”

Ned’s smile just became brighter. “I know, right? I was in the same bar as Captain America for two minutes!”

Somewhat relieved, somewhat nervous about how the conversation seemed to be steering away from Peter’s Big Confession (because on one hand, he so needed to talk to people about this, but on the other hand, he so didn’t want to talk about this, at all, ever), Peter laughed a little. “Yeah, okay, so you were in the same bar with Cap for two minutes, but you share a dorm with Spi-

MJ coughed, hard. Ned looked completely mortified.

Ellie just frowned at the both of them.

Oh, right. Ohshit. She didn’t know. She wasn’t supposed to know. This was supposed to stay a secret, that was important, it was a safety thing, it was -

It was super hard, you guys. So hard. “Nevermind,” he said.

Ellie opened her mouth to say something. MJ was quicker. “So what weird thing happened to you, young mister Parker?”

Peter knew that he had to say it fast to keep the conversation from going to The Forbidden Topic, so the words were out before he could regret them. “A guy came in and kissed me.”

Well, it sure worked to shut the room up.

“He what?” Ned asked weakly.

“Kissed him,” repeated MJ. “What the fuck?”

Peter felt a little bit giddy. “Yeah, that’s how I felt? It gets worse, though, because you know how Captain America was there, at the bar?”

Ned nodded enthusiastically.

“Yeah, he kind of caught us? He opened the stall door and… well. Caught us. Caught me, actually, because that guy was kind of… hiding? His face? In my neck. That’s why he was kissing me, apparently, he didn’t wanna get caught.”

Suddenly, Ellie made a weird choking noise. “Waitwaitwait, who was that? That guy that kissed you?”

There was a very expressive, very amused grin on her face that kind of terrified Peter.

“Uh,” he said.

But Ellie didn’t want to wait for an answer. “You made out with Bowling Ball Wilson.”

MJ pulled a face. “Who the hell is -”

“Wilson?” asked Ned, his voice almost a little insecure. “Like… Wade Wilson? The shooty guy?”

The room fell quiet for a very short, very tense moment.

Ellie was the first to speak. “You know Wade Wilson?”

Ned narrowed his eyes, but it was MJ who asked the “you know Wade Wilson?!” that Ned was expressing.

“He’s just some guy from work,” was Ellie’s (weak, weak) excuse. “And I never made out with him.”

That immediately got all the eyes back on Peter. “That’s the dude that stabbed you,” MJ reminded him sharply, “and you kissed him.”

Yeah, that was kind of the dilemma that Peter had been facing for the past week as well. “It was just a panic move! He needed my help, and I wanted to give it.”

Ellie squinted a bit at him. “I thought he looked, like, super gross.”

Peter felt a little shot of fire flame up in his chest. “That’s disrespectful and mean.” His voice sounded a lot stricter and sharper than he intended, but he found that he didn’t really mind. “It’s not that bad, and it’s not like he can help it.”

Ellie shrugged. “Still. Not something you’d wanna kiss.”

Peter opened his mouth to protest, but MJ held her finger up and shushed him. “The whole face thing aside, can we talk about how you kissed a guy that stabbed you and shoots people?”

Peter honestly preferred not to, but that was the exact moment that the whole room decided not to interject or say anything, so seconds ticked by, until the silence had gotten just awkward enough for Peter to break. “I don’t know,” he finally said. “It’s just… last time I saw him, he needed help, and this time around he needed help, and I just wanted -”

“To help,” interrupted MJ. “Yeah, but he’s an asshole.”

Something guilty and stupid kicked Peter in the stomach. “But I was an asshole first.”

“But he stabbed you.”

“Because I got in his business.”

“He shot someone’s head off right in front of you.”

“Yeah, but he -”

“He’s literally a mercenary.”

“It was just a stupid kiss!” Peter knew that he was basically yelling, at this point, but his heart was beating rapidly in his chest, and his cheeks were flushed, and his throat was tight and he really didn’t want to talk about this anymore. “It was nothing, MJ, it was just something to get us even and it lasted, like, maybe three minutes. It was nothing.”

Another silence. Ned looked somewhat disturbed. MJ just frowned.

“He’s bad news, you know,” she said, “and you’re going to get your dumb butt hurt, and then we’re going to have to stitch you back together again, and I have better things to do.”

Peter didn’t know what to say to that.

Honestly, for as far as MJ’s emotional outbursts went, that was a pretty solid piece of sentimentality, right there. ‘I care if you get hurt’, said as explicitly as she’d go. Peter was touched.

“I’m not going to get hurt,” he promised. “It was just that one thing, and it’s fine.”

MJ tentatively smiled. “So you haven’t seen him since?”

Ah. “Well…”

MJ hit him in the leg, hard. “Parker!”

“Jesus,” said Ellie. “What kinda shit do you do that you run into that guy so often?”

“Dumb shit,” interrupted MJ, before Peter could say anything himself (which was probably better for his secret identity, anyway, to just not talk about it at all). “Don’t see him again.”

“He’s nice, though!”

“Peter?” It was Ned, this time. “This is pretty messed up, all of it.”

Oh.

Peter blinked a few times. “I mean, we didn’t kiss that other time?”

Ned slowly shook his head. “Doesn’t make it better, bud.”

“Can I just ask, in between.” Ellie leaned her elbow against Peter’s bed. “You’re totally Spider-Man, right?”

MJ’s eyes went wide. Peter felt his heart rate shoot up again. “What?!” he squeaked. “No! Of course not.”

Ellie smiled a little bit, just small enough for Peter to feel like he was two seconds away from peeing his pants. “I already knew when you said you kissed Wilson, because the dude kept bragging about how he kissed Spidey during Pride. None of us believed him.”

Ohgod. “You knew?!”

 

Ellie’s grin grew wider. “Wow, it takes that little for you to confess? Damn, you’re bad at this.”

No one said anything. They all just stared. Peter wasn’t sure if he was relieved or utterly, utterly terrified.

“You shouldn’t tell anyone,” said Ned, eventually. “It’s a pact, we made a pact.”

Ellie shrugged. “I think I’m better at keeping this a secret than blabbermouth there.”

Peter frowned. “Hey!”

“Nah, she’s right.” MJ grabbed her girlfriend’s hand. “Anyone’s better at that stuff than you, Pete.”

Peter looked over at Ned for some mental support, but Ned just gave him a little ‘yeah, she’s right’ nod.

MJ drummed her fingers against her knee. “So… are you going to keep seeing him?”

Yeah, well, that was the big question. “I think so? He’s not that bad.”

“He’s a total maniac.”

“He’s just a guy.” Peter pulled his legs up again. “And he’s nice. He’s just a little messed up.”

MJ opened her mouth to protest that, but Ellie grabbed her hand and squeezed it. “He’s nuts, not gonna lie,” she told her, “but trust me, if Peter says he can handle him, he can handle him.”

MJ fell quiet for a while, before finally exhaling sharply. “Fine. But if he hurts you, I’m going to fuck him up.”

A tiny smile appeared on Peter’s face. “Thanks.”

-----

They did have that taco date somewhere in the week after that. Not in an actual restaurant, because Peter was still mildly aware of the promise he made to Mr. Stark vis-á-vis Wade and Not Seeing Him, but he got takeout from Wade’s favorite place instead and climbed costumeless to the roof of their usual skyscraper.

Which, honestly, was even kinda killing for him and his fitness levels.

It was worth it, though, because by the time that Wade showed up (panting and groaning), his complaints turned into delighted squeals within seconds, and he hugged Peter so hard that he was worried about breaking a rib.

“Oh my God, Petey, look at this! Look at all this food!” Wade had his mask rucked up over his nose before Peter knew it, and he was pretty sure Wade practically inhaled the first soft shell taco he unwrapped. “I fucking love you.”

Peter found himself smiling stupidly at his own knees. “Thought you might like that.”

Wade let out a loud moan, as grease started dribbling down his chin again. Peter couldn’t bring himself to care as much as he had last time. “Seriously, I should’ve become besties with supers ages ago. You guys are so much nicer than those mutant dudes.”

“Um.” Peter cleared his throat. “I guess I’m technically a mutant? Probably?”

Wade stopped mid-chew and looked at him, his mask all scrunched up over his nose, and his lenses narrowing. “Yeah, but you’re not on team mutant, you get me?”

Peter did not get him, but it didn’t really matter, because what it basically boiled down to was that he was special somehow, and he could live with that. “You bought me tacos too, though, and you’re a mutant. Mutants can be nice.”

Wade held up a strict finger, and with his cheeks full of food, said: “No - I’m nice.”

“I’m sure the others aren’t half bad, though.”

Wade snorted, and okay, the snort and the full mouth and the dripping grease were a bit of a gross combination at this point. It kind of had a charm, though. Like he made a little kid real happy with a candy bar and the chocolate was getting everywhere, but who cared? The kid was happy. “Pete, baby boy, mutants are the worst. Just last week the babies started roasting me because I told them that Spidey gave me a little smooch! I mean, hello, rude.”

Something clicked. “Wait, wait, hold up, who are the babies again?”

Wade gave him a narrowed lens look. “I don’t -”

“Out mutants,” Peter filled it in, “but one of them is Ellie, right? Goth girl, real scary?”

Wade’s mouth dropped open. Peter could see the half-chewed food, pulled a face, and pushed his greased-up jaw shut again. After some painfully quiet chewing and swallowing, Wade finally said: “Her name is Ellie?!

Holy moly. Ellie was a mutant. Ellie was a mutant! “You’ve been working with her! Oh my god.”

“Waitwaitwait, how do you know her?”

Peter wasn’t sure if he was excited or terrified, but either way, he suddenly felt very high in his energy. “She’s my friend’s girlfriend!” His voice was suddenly a lot higher than intended, but for once, he didn’t care. “She laughed at me when I told her we kissed.”

Wade’s mouth hung open again, but this time it was empty, so Peter just let him be. “You told her?”

Something anxious formed in Peter’s stomach. “Was I not supposed to?”

“Hah!” Wade actually laughed. Properly laughed. “Not many people would want to, Petey-Pie. It’s like making out with the class nerd because you’re desperate and lonely at a party, you just do it and never talk about it again.”

Oh.

Peter just about felt his stomach plummet from the rooftop and splash open onto the streets underneath them. “That’s… harsh.”

There was a little moment where Wade did his confused head tilt, until he suddenly jerked back so violently that his half eaten taco genuinely did fall down from the rooftop. “Peter, Jesus, look at me.”

Peter didn’t really want to, in all honesty.

I’m the ugly class nerd, Pete. I don’t mean you.”

That had Peter confused for a bit. “I know you don’t,” he said slowly, “but you’re not the ugly class nerd either, and it kind of hurts that you really thought I’d think of you that way.”

They both stayed quiet for almost half a minute after that. “You’re definitely way too soft, baby boy,” Wade finally said. “Gonna kill me with that kindness sometime.”

A tentative smile played around Peter’s lips as the knot in his stomach dissolved a little. “Hope so.”

Wade unwrapped two new tacos, and handed one to Peter. “But really, Ellie? That’s who you decided to share your big gay crisis with?”

“It wasn’t a big gay crisis,” said Peter, and if he was a little bit quick in his answer, it was just because maybe it was, but if it was, he had no intention of sharing it with him,

“That was just a banana in your pants,” Wade agreed. “Very happy banana.”

Peter was pretty sure he turned bright red. “Wade!”

“Just sayin’.”

“Can we not say it, maybe?” Peter felt his heart beat a little too fast. “It was just… I don’t know. A response.”

“Hmm.” Wade chewed thoughtfully. “Better response than anyone else I kissed in the last year. And I even paid them for it.”

Peter frowned. “Why?”

“Because they were hookers, my sweet Petey-Pie, that’s what they do.” Wade rolled his shoulder and cracked his spine, loudly. “But hey, I can’t blame them. I tried jerking off in front of a mirror once, but that even made my banana sad.”

Peter wasn’t sure if he was fascinated, put off or if he felt kind of sorry for him. “That’s… too bad? I guess.”

A gloved, greased up hand came up to ruffle his hair. “Sure is. Anywho, since you’re totally not having a sexuality crisis and I don’t have to spend all my free time trying to figure out Negasonic’s name anymore, wanna hang out sometime? I like this friend thing. It’s so nice! I used to be friends with this taxi driver, Dopinder - real nice guy, never charges me for anything, I just love him - but he’s been in jail for like two years now after he killed his cousin. It’s quiet, you know? I like socializing.”

Peter blinked a few times. “Your friend killed his cousin?”

“It’s nothing.” Wade flapped his hand in front of his face. “Just a little love dispute. You should’ve been there. It was kinda romantic!”

Oh, God. “Murder is not romantic.”

“I killed, like, a bunch of people for romance, sometimes it can be super duper romantic.”

The image of the headless woman, webbed to the wall with brains splattered everywhere came up, and Peter felt a little bit sick. He actually put his taco back on the greasy wrapper. “That was just messed up.”

Wade snorted a little, but when Peter didn’t join in in his laughter, the goofy grin fell from his face. “Wait, was that traumatizing, back then? With the bitch who killed Vanessa? I mean, you’d probably seen stuff like that before, right? Jesus, I never really know where I stand with you.”

Peter wanted to scoff. “I’m not traumatized. Just felt bad for you. I mean, if I ever got to a point where I’d want to do that -”

“You wouldn’t,” said Wade sharply, “because you’re not like that, so let’s not even go there.”

Well.

He had a point.

“So… what would we do?” Peter finally asked, after one of the least comfortable silences he ever had around Wade. Honestly, he’d been able to keep MJ’s words at a distance right until now; maybe she was right. Wade was messed up, in so many ways, and maybe he wasn’t the best person to be around, but -

But that wasn’t who he was. Peter was sure of that. Maybe that was who he had become under bad circumstances, he could believe that. And yet, at the same time, Peter was pretty sure that under all those layers, at the centre of the onion that was Wade, there was the wide-eyed man, wrestled to the ground by Happy’s officers, telling Peter to run while he had the chance.

“I dunno.” Wade wiped his face on his sleeve. “Do you like video games?”

Peter really wanted to be friends with the centre of that onion. “I really do.”

-----

It was a pretty big relief when the summer holidays rolled around and the project he’d been working on with Gwen was officially finished.

Not that she’d been unpleasant or awkward to work with after the breakup - things were just different. They were exactly the way they’d been before, but minus that lingering promise that had been there, minus the little fluttering of his stomach every time Gwen looked at him. It was all just… gone.

Which, to put it in Ellie’s words, really did feel like grade A fuckboy behavior.

He wanted to take longer to get over her, he really did. Gwen was amazing. Gwen was fantastic. Honestly, if he were to date any girl, he only wanted it to be Gwen, and he was so happy that it had been her, because he adored her. He really did. He wasn’t even shy to say that he loved her, sosososo much.

Just not like that.

No, the end of term wasn’t a relief because of the breakup, per se. It was just how careful she was around him, how often he looked up from his work to see that look in her eyes that carried just a tiny drop of pity, like he was a heartbroken kid that was working so hard to keep himself together in front of her.

And it made him feel like he just wasn’t heartbroken enough, and that made him feel like he was just a dick.

“I’m sorry that we had to do the rest of this together. I get it if you might’ve wanted some more space,” Gwen said on that last day, after everything had been wrapped up. “How’re you holding up?”

‘Normally’ didn’t sound like an appropriate answer here, and honestly, it was not an answer that Peter wanted to be true. “I’m fine,” was what he settled on. “And we’re still friends, right? So it’s not that bad.”

Gwen’s smile grew a little bit at that, and before he knew it, she’d pulled him close to her chest, leaning her cheek on top of his head. “Of course we are.”

She let him go a lot sooner than she would’ve before, but Peter didn’t mind that much. They were good. They were okay.

That was all that mattered.

-----

“Aaaaand, I win.”

Wade put down the controller with such grace and complete smugness that Peter almost rolled his eyes. “Only because you cheat.”

“Only because I’m skilled. Seriously, I thought your generation was supposed to be good at this! What were you doing during your teen years, huh?”

Peter shifted a little on Wade’s lumpy couch. “I was kinda Spider-Manning.”

“Oh.” Wade stroked his masked chin. “You missed out.”

“So you played a lot of Super Mario Kart when you were a teen, then?” Peter could almost picture it. “That’s not fair, you had way more time to practise.”

Wade scoffed. “How dare you accuse me of being old!”

“You’re older than me, though.”

“Yeah, only because you’re a baby.”

Peter gave him a light swat against the bicep. “I’m not!”

“When were you born, exactly?” Wade twisted on the couch, until he could prod the toes of his suit’s shoes against Peter’s thigh. “Which year?”

Peter honestly didn’t want to answer that, but when Wade kept the silence strict and awkward and punishing, he finally admitted: “2001.”

“Two-thousand and one?!” Wade actually kicked him now, but mostly because his leg jerked. “Wow. Okay.”

Peter crossed his arms. “When were you born, then?”

“1984. Jesus, I was basically in college when you were in diapers.”

Peter, who was starting to feel a little spiteful at this point, raised an eyebrow. “You went to college?”

Wade prodded his leg again. “No, and it’s not the point!”

It wasn’t, and Peter knew that, but at the same time, this was the seventh round of Super Mario Kart that they’d played together this evening, and, well.

Peter liked it. He liked this, just hanging out, being friends. So he didn’t want to say it, at least not immediately. At least not until the silence grew so awkward and tense that he couldn’t stand it anymore.

“So… does this mean I’m too young to hang out with you?”

Wade didn’t say anything. He just looked at him, for a long, long time, before finally grabbing his own controller from the dented and scratched coffee table in front of him, and selected New Game. “Nah,” he finally said, as he chose Princess Peach, again. “You’re fine.”

Peter did beat him that time around. And they were fine.

-----

The whole ‘hanging out at Wade’s new apartment and playing video games’ thing started to become semi-regular after that. It wasn’t even necessarily that they agreed to meet up for that, it just sort of happened; kind of like a post-patrol cool down moment. Peter became sort of great at Mario Kart; Wade’s ego hated it.

The only downside to this, was that Peter’s sleeping schedule was completely wrecked after three weeks of it. Sure, it was the summer holidays, so technically, he could just sleep all day and patrol all night, but honestly, after those three weeks, he started to notice some… restlessness in himself.

Basically, he was just having super weird dreams, especially after some action-filled Spidey nights.

It wasn’t as if he’d never had any… interesting dreams before, but he’d figured that at least as a twenty-one year old, they would not be as intense. But they were intense. Oh, boy, they were intense. Not so much that he had to go through the embarrassment of May finding out why he was washing his sheets so often, which he really didn’t want to face now that he was home for the summer, but it was just…

They were still pretty sexy, that’s what it came down to. And surprisingly masculine. And a bit… rough. Texturally. Somehow.

Not that he exactly clarified that when he asked Wade whether he ever had weird dreams after patrol night. Some things were better kept private.

“Oh, sure,” he said, not even remotely phased. “You mean, like, nightmares? Shitbuckets.”

It was a couple of nights ago when Wade had started tentatively keeping his mask off in his own apartment, and Peter loved it, because he was so much easier to read, now.

And his eyes were just really nice.

Because they were easier to read. Of course.

“Not really what I meant,” Peter tried to reply in the same airily tone of voice. Not that it worked; Wade immediately paused the game and not just looked at him, but turned his whole body towards him.

“Peter Parker.” He looked as fake shocked as he sounded, and Peter immediately regretted giving him his full name, just because he was so dramatic with it. “What kind of dreams have you been having, mister?”

Peter ducked his head behind his pulled up knees, and tried to disappear in Wade’s old couch - and really, really tried not to think of large, rough hands on his skin, or a hot mouth in his neck, or the smell of a gun after it’d been fired. “Nothing. It’s nothing, forget I said it.”

“Aw, Petey, come on. We’ve been up all night, we’ve been playing video games for hours - it’s basically a sleepover! Spill.”

Nothing about what they’d done that night really made sense in the context of a sleepover (taking down a mugger and allowing Wade to beat an aggressive John unconscious? Didn’t sound like the average sleepover material to him), but Peter really didn’t like keeping things in, otherwise he was just going to mull them over and over and over in his head. “They’re… well. Uh. Kind of -”

“Sex dreams,” Wade filled it in. “They’re dirty, dirty dreams, aren’t they, Petey-Pie?”

Peter was pretty sure that if his face turned any hotter, it’d catch on fire. “Don’t say it like that! Jeez.”

Wade laughed, loudly, and didn’t stop until Peter was prodding him with his toes. “Aw, baby. That’s super normal.”

Something very heavy fell off his chest. “Really?”

“Patrol night ain’t patrol night if you’re not touching yourself after a good catch.” Wade hummed wistfully, and Peter’s stomach flipped a little at how much he genuinely seemed to be carried away by the thought. Like he was picturing it. Like he was remembering it.

Not that Peter was picturing it along with him. Of course not.

“That’s… not exactly what I meant, though,” he gently snapped Wade out of it. “Dreams? They’re dreams.”

“Right, right.” Wade cleared his throat. “Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you don’t jerk it. Because it’s all that adrenaline build up, you know? It’s adrenaline-adrenaline-adrenaline, but where’s the climax, Petey? You gotta have the climax, or your usual nightmare monsters suddenly have amazing boobs and you wake up with the most confusing boner ever.”

Peter didn’t mean to be judgemental, but he found himself frowning anyway. “I think you might have weirder sex dreams than I do.”

Wade winked. “I definitely do.” Then, he grabbed a pillow that he hugged to his chest, and leaned his chin on top of it like a real teen on a sleepover. “So what are yours about, huh? If not boob-having monsters?”

Peter’s mouth ran a little dry.

See, he knew that this question was coming, and like with so many other awkward things that he talked about, it was just something that he needed to have said, but that didn’t necessarily make it easier. Maybe it would’ve been easier to tell Ned, except that he really didn’t want to talk about sex dreams with Ned - and definitely not with MJ, and he had kind of gotten to the point where talking about this stuff with May felt kind of stilted and uncomfortable, too.

And Wade. Uh. Well, Wade didn’t really have those social boundaries to begin with, so in theory that should make stuff like this way easier, right? Yeah, it should. So he just pushed the words out as quickly as they’d go.

“They’re about guys.”

Wade’s hairless eyebrows shot up. “Oh.”

Peter nodded rapidly. “Yeah, oh.”

Wade blinked just as quick. “And… you’re weirded out by this.”

“A little? I don’t know. They’re new.”

Wade held it together for maybe seven seconds, before he snorted really unattractively, and laughed so hard that he tipped his head back, exposing his throat to him. “Oh my God, oh my God. Holy fuck. You’re so precious.”

Precious? Now, there were loads of things that Peter considered himself to be, but precious was so far off that list, that he wasn’t sure if he was flattered or insulted. “What?”

Wade kept snickering as he looked back at him, his brown eyes actually glistening with tears of joy. “Peter. Petey. Petes. Look at me. Look.”

Peter was looking.

“You’re twenty-one. Having sexual thoughts about guys? Super normal. Everyone goes through that.” He actually reached out to grab his hands, uncovered, and Peter felt a little thrill at the both rough and soft texture of his scars under his fingertips. “Nothing wrong with a little homoerotism sprinkled in that imagination of yours.”

Peter was barely listening, though, because as Wade gently squeezed his hands and let go, he suddenly realized why his dreams had felt rough, and he had kind of forgotten how to breathe.

“Pete?” Wade’s expression went from amused to slightly worried, but Peter didn’t even notice until he felt that same soft roughness under his chin, tilting it up so he was looking him in the eye again.

Wade had really, really pretty eyes.

Oh, God. Oh, God. Whatever trick his subconscious was playing, that was not good. He was okay with a little sexuality crisis; he did not need Wade to be the mascot.

And he also definitely didn’t need Wade to know that he was the mascot, so he blinked himself out of it and crawled back, away from the warm finger under his chin, away from Wade’s way too close face, away from the weirdly excited stirring in his lower belly. “Yeah,” he agreed weakly. “A little gay is okay.”

Wade gave him an odd look. “Right. Sure. Okay.”

Peter tried his best to make his exhale as non-shaky as possible. “Okay.”

-----

A little gay was okay. That was the part that Peter got to accept pretty quickly throughout the rest of the summer, with some quickly deleted internet research and some minimum effort self-discovery. At least that was something he could be at peace with.

Because, well, sure, in theory, it all looked fine. It made sense, actually. It made sense why it hadn’t worked out with Gwen, it made sense why he was having these dreams, it made sense why that one kiss on MJ’s birthday had excited him like that.

Maybe he really was gay. It made sense. Or maybe bi, at least, that also didn’t sound too far fetched. It just boiled down to the possibility that he was attracted to guys, and that was something that he was totally, completely okay with.

He just didn’t see why in his newly discovered revelation, his mind had to pick Wade to have an inappropriate crush on.

It wasn’t even a real crush, Peter kept telling himself. It was just curiosity. Wade was a new friend, someone interesting who had a lot of stories to tell that he didn’t know yet, and he was fit, and he was about as masculine as they came. That was probably what was exciting, anyway, the newness and the fact that he was a Man™.

It was all completely explicable in a rational way, and it was not a Feelings™ thing. He didn’t have feelings for a guy that was seventeen years older than him and had no table manners and killed people. Just a fluke, just some sexual awakening thing that would definitely go away.

Except it didn’t.

The months of summer slowly came and went, until it was suddenly late August, and nothing had changed. It just kept on going, their whole patrol-chill routine, and if anything, it got worse. Every time he carried Wade on his back when they had to sling from building to building, every time Wade leaned against him when they were watching a movie, every time he made a semi-flirtatious joke that left Peter flushed red and sort of breathless.

Actually, no. It did change. If anything, it got worse.

“Seriously, who runs that quickly?!” Wade was still panting by the time they’d made it to his apartment. “They should give criminals ankle weights so I don’t break a sweat.”

“They’ve got to catch the criminals before they can do that,” Peter gently reminded him, as he nudged the door closed with his foot out of habit and took his mask off. “Wanna watch the Kardashians?”

Wade had his mask off too, at this point, but didn’t flop down on the couch like he usually did. “Nah, I need a shower.”

Peter frowned. Wade always needed a shower after patrol, but he never took one, and Peter had gotten used to the smell of his sweat ages ago.

He didn’t really mind the smell, anyway. It wasn’t a bad one. Not at all.

He couldn’t exactly protest without giving an argument along those lines, though, so he just shrugged and put the Kardashians on by himself, genuinely not giving it a second thought until Wade reappeared ten minutes later, completely naked, save for the tiny towel around his waist.

Peter’s mouth ran dry, and he couldn’t stop staring.

It wasn’t even the amount of scars that kept his gaze glued firmly on Wade’s body. He’d seen his face often enough to get a hint of what was going on with the rest, anyway. But Wade was built. Built in a way that wasn’t as outrageously bulky as Cap, but definitely more… shapely than Peter was himself. Broader. Taller.

Really, for someone who made so many jokes about his ‘avocado skin’, he looked seriously good.

“You started watching without me?!” Wade sounded honestly offended, and honestly unaware of the fact that his state of undress was abnormal between the two of them.

Which was positive news, Peter thought lamely and somewhere far away, because that meant that Wade was comfortable enough around Peter to expose that much of his skin to him. Which was progress. It was nice that he trusted him.

It was also torture.

“It’ll still be there when you have clothes on,” he finally said, his voice a little too high, as he ripped his gaze away and glued it firmly to the TV.

All he saw on the TV were the little droplets of water that made some of the puckered skin on Wade’s chest glisten, and he wanted to touch them.

Stupid TV.

“Oh, right.” Wade grinned sheepishly in the corner of Peter’s eye. “B-R-B, snookums.”

He turned around to his bedroom, and only when Peter heard the door close behind him, did he allow himself to breathe out again.

If his heart rate remained a little too quick for the rest of the evening as Wade completely hogged the couch and pressed his back firmly to Peter’s front, he wasn’t going to mention it.

-----

He wasn’t going to mention it. He wasn’t. He wasn’t.

See, the thing was, it was just sexual. It probably only got this intense anyway because his only relief from the constant sexual frustration was jerking off maybe once a week, when Ned’s classes ran later than Peter’s. He had a little gay crisis, he couldn’t masturbate often, and Wade was just… around, all the time, being fit and funny, and his body was bound to react in a certain way.

It wasn’t as if he actually wanted to do anything about it. Not really.

Sure, yeah, they were good friends. They were close. Wade was nice. Wade was handsome, in his own way. Wade made him laugh. But Wade was also seventeen years older than him, and he killed people for a living, and Peter still carried around the scar on his side from when he’d physically stabbed him in the side.

And that was just not exactly someone he wanted to lose his virginity to, so. More importantly; Wade wasn’t really interested, anyway, so the thought was easily pushed from his mind whenever it popped up.

At least, that was what he kept telling himself, until That One Moment™.

It was pretty rainy on the day of That One Moment™. It was almost two months into the first semester of the year, and Peter was stressed. Stressed didn’t even quite cut it; it was his last year as an undergraduate, and between being Spidey and his studies, he could maybe cram in six hours of sleep per night, and it was killing. It was absolutely murdering him, and it was taking its toll.

Peter slipped.

Honestly, that was it. It wasn’t even during an important chase, it had nothing to do with any criminal in New York, he just slipped, just as he was about to stumble into Wade’s apartment to catch some much needed sleep without having to sneak back into his dorm, where he would wake Ned up without a doubt.

He slipped, and Wade caught him.

His face had bounced kind of harshly into his chest, and two strong arms were holding him up as he clutched at the leathery spandex of Wade’s suit, breathless, frozen, confused.

And then he looked up, and Wade was so close.

His mask was off, and his lips were parted, still breathing heavier than normal because of the adrenaline. His eyes were practically black, that’s how large his pupils were.

“I had a feeling you were falling for me, Petey,” Wade joked. His voice was low, rumbling, his smile tentatively cheeky, a little toothy, open-mouthed. His body felt warm, and in this sleep deprived haze, it almost seemed like he was oh so quickly licking his lips.

And all Peter could think about was dream!Wade, bending him over Peter’s little desk in his dorm every night, kissing him so good that his knees gave out, pushing him against a wall and putting a hand down his pants until Peter was spilling everywhere, working him open with his fingers like Peter had done on those rare moments when Ned was gone, until he was a trembling mess, until he had to bite his pillow to keep the sounds in, until he was starting to fall apart.

For the first time, there was a look on Wade’s face like he might have thought about that too, like he might have wanted it.

Peter wanted to kiss him so badly, he was shaking.

The distance seemed to grow smaller, and smaller, until Wade’s warm breath was tickling on Peter’s lips, and something hot and coiling started to form in his abdomen. His eyes slipped closed.

And then Wade’s Barbie Girl ringtone echoed through the hallway.

Moment over.

“Fuck,” Wade swore, as he pulled his phone out of one of his pouches. He looked at his caller ID and frowned. “I’ve got to take this.”

Peter, who had already set about three steps back once he was snapped out of his daze, didn’t know how quickly he had to forgive him for that. “I should go anyway,” he added in a rush.

That seemed like a good idea, because every fibre of his being was telling him to climb his friend like a tree, and that seemed like a Very Bad Idea. So he went.

-----

He went and he went. Through the rain. He ran, not even knowing where he was headed until he was already there. Because he needed to mention it. Because eventually, he always had to mention it. Otherwise, it was going to eat him up.

Peter Parker was not good with secrets, and this one was getting out of hand.

It was Ellie that opened the door when Peter finally stopped running, soaked mask in his hand, and his hair flattened wetly on top of his head. It was the first time Peter saw her without black lipstick; her expression was poisonous enough to make up for it, though.

“It’s four in the fucking morning,” she said.

“I’m gay,” blabbed Peter, “and I’m pretty deep in the shit.”

A long moment passed as the rain trickled down Peter’s wide-eyed face, and he couldn’t quite get his breathing to go down again. Then, Ellie gave a tiny smile, a rarely genuine one.

“So you finally got there.”

Chapter Text

Ellie’s apartment was pretty nice. Even in the dead of night, dripping with rainwater in the living room, Peter kind of understood why MJ had been so eager to move out of the dorm rooms and in with her girlfriends.

“So, was it me you wanted to talk to, or should I wake up MJ?” Ellie leaned sat down on the armrest of the couch. She was dressed in sweatpants, a top and surprisingly fluffy slippers, but the fluffiness of her slippers didn’t make her look any less intimidating, if Peter was being honest.

Actually, seeing her without makeup just made him feel like he was crushing her privacy, or something.

“I don’t know.” He cleared his throat. “I didn’t really come with a plan? I just. I came here with some panic, I guess.”

“You came here with a crisis,” corrected Ellie. “So tell me what the crisis is?”

Peter felt his cheeks turn hotter than they’d been before, which was ridiculous, because he’d already said it. It was just different to repeat it, somehow - it made it real. “I’m gay,” he said slowly, because at least that was something he was comfortable admitting again, “and… I don’t know, things are going wrong.”

Ellie cocked an eyebrow. “Things.”

Yeah, things. Peter rubbed his face with wet, gloved hands, and shuddered a little at the cold. “I just… It’s complicated.”

“Think I can’t handle complicated?” Ellie crossed her arms. “Excuse me?”

Peter couldn’t even muster up the energy to go along with her teasing. He just went over to the kitchen and sat down on one of the stools around the tiny kitchen island. “You’ll laugh.”

Ellie drew a little cross over her heart as she walked over to the other side of said island and leaned over it to him. “Promise.”

Honestly, he wasn’t sure what Ellie’s word was worth when it came to this kind of stuff, but he was here because he needed to get this off his chest, and he wasn’t going to get that done if he didn’t say anything.

So here it was. Here it was. “IthinkIhaveathingforWade.”

Ellie blinked once. Twice. “Excuse me?”

“I think I have a -”

“Thing for Wade,” she interrupted. “I heard you. But dude, what the hell?

Behind Peter, he could hear the creak of a door opening and falling back shut. When he turned around, a sleepy Yukio shuffled to the kitchen, in a night gown with teddy bears on it - if she even saw him at all, she wasn’t surprised in the slightest.

“Oh, hi,” she said, her voice a little hoarse. “What’s up?”

Ellie stared at Peter with a look that he couldn’t quite decipher. “Peter has a thing for Wade.”

“Aw.” Yukio smiled and grabbed a glass from one of the cupboards, that she filled up with water. “That’s cute.”

Peter couldn’t bring himself to agree. Ellie scoffed. “Yeah, Wade Wilson is so adorable. Come on, Yuk, wake up.”

Yukio drank the water a lot quicker than Peter had expected, and then put the glass away in the sink. “I’d prefer not to? Just got thirsty. Night night, guys.”

With those words, she shuffled back to what Peter assumed was the bedroom, but once she was almost there, he felt a little pang of anxiety at the thought of being alone with just Ellie again. “Uh, is MJ up?”

Yukio stopped in her tracks, blinked sleepily, then peered into the bedroom. “Yep,” she said. “But she can’t talk.”

Peter frowned. “Why -”

“Naked,” Ellie simply said. “Exhausted.”

Yukio smiled sweetly. “Baby needs some sleep.”

The corner of Ellie’s mouth twitched. “Baby had a wild night.”

Oh. Peter immediately looked away from the bedroom, like he could somehow see her naked through the walls. He desperately pushed away every thought of Naked MJ, because even though his mind went to private bedroom stuff a lot, lately, he didn’t want any of those images to include her. Ever.

“Baby can hear you,” croaked a voice from the bedroom, and by the time that Peter turned around again, MJ was already standing in the doorway, in a black robe, her hair a mess, and squinting against the light of the living area, slash kitchen. “Hey, Pete.”

Peter waved with a vague smile, and looked very hard at anything but the hickeys on MJ’s neck.

“So, what brings us here? You look like shit, by the way.” MJ took the stool next to him, and after a moment of what appeared to be a little self-debate, Yukio joined on his other side. Ellie was still on the other side of the island.

“You wanna do the honors?” Ellie gestured at her girlfriends. “Floor’s yours.”

Oh. Honestly, Peter would’ve found it a lot easier if she would just tell them, but he got it; no outing supers, no outing gays. Bro code.

Which was nice. And it was okay, he told himself, because saying he was gay was a Normal and Okay thing. Even if the person that made him realize that, wasn’t always that Normal and Okay.

“I’m gay?” he said. It sounded like a question. That wasn’t good. “I’m gay.” Yeah, that sounded better.

“Oh, he got there!” Yukio genuinely sounded happy, as she threw her arms around him - not even staggering back when his suit turned out to still be soaking wet. “Congratulations!”

Peter squinted a little, though, because while the immediate acceptance was nice, something felt off. “You knew?”

MJ actually snorted. “You didn’t?”

“No? Not until…” He trailed off. “Recently.”

MJ raised an eyebrow at that, and when he tried to turn back to Yukio (because she was all smiley and nice and God, Peter really didn’t want to deal with MJ’s reaction if he was going to tell them about the whole Wade thing), she grabbed his chin and made him look back at him again. “What happened, Peter? Tell us your secrets.”

Peter blinked, and breathed, and waited for the ‘nah, kidding, I don’t care about your problems’ that had come out so easily in high school. The MJ classic.

Except that they were really friends now, close friends, and MJ did care about his problems, so the ‘nah, kidding’ never came. Not after five seconds, not after ten, not even twenty.

“Jesus Christ,” Ellie swore. “He’s got a crush on Wade Wilson.”

If it was quiet before, then oh boy, it was overwhelmingly silent now.

MJ inhaled deeply. “You what?”

Yukio tried to take her hand behind Peter’s back. MJ swatted it away.

“You what?”

Peter wasn’t sure which feeling was creeping up now, but it was either guilt or panic or shame or a horrible mix of the three. “It’s not like I really wanted to!”

“You know what he does, right?” MJ rubbed her face for a moment, then ran her hands through her hair until it was even messier than before. “Okay, no, cool, fine. Peter Parker is going to get killed by his boyfriend, guys, say your goodbyes now.”

“He stopped killing,” Ellie said off-handedly. “If that’s what you’re referring to.”

Three heads shot up as one.

“How do you know that?” asked Peter.

“Do you still work with him?” asked MJ.

“You really shouldn’t say that stuff, babe,” said Yukio.

But Ellie just shrugged. “Sometimes we do projects together, it’s not like I really want to work with him. But yeah, no, he’s calling himself a death-o-tarian.”

Yukio laughed a little. “He keeps bragging about it, too.”

Ellie groaned and rubbed her forehead. “Imagine a vegan Jehovah’s Witness, that’s how persistent he is with mentioning it.”

“Sort of offensive,” MJ pointed out, “but I get what you mean.”

Peter honestly felt a lot more relieved than he probably ought to be. He had no idea how frequently Ellie worked with Wade, and to what degree Yukio apparently did, but there was still a chance that this was all a load of bull.

Then again, Wade did seem less inclined to attack anyone while they were patrolling together. Over the course of the last weeks, it seemed like he preferred to get his kick out of making fun of the perp in question, instead of actually kicking them.t

It was nice. Rude, and sometimes completely inappropriate, but peaceful.

“So, he’s not murdering anymore, that’s a slight plus,” MJ concluded. “You still see he’d be real shitty for you, right?”

Peter knew, yes. But see it? “Not really?”

Ellie groaned loudly, as she lied down with her head on the top of the kitchen island. “Come on.”

“He’s super unstable,” MJ ticked off on her fingers, “he’s a criminal, he’s insane, and let’s not forget, he -”

“Stabbed me.” Peter cleared his throat. “I know that.”

MJ made a wide-eyed ‘see?!’ gesture with her arms.

And Peter saw, honestly, he did. But he also saw the rest of Wade, and he had a feeling that this pros and cons list had been named so many times at this point, that the effects of it were kind of wearing off. “I’m not even thinking about… like, boyfriend stuff, anyway. It’s just…”

No one interrupted him, no one filled in the blank. Seconds ticket by.

“It’s just?” Ellie pushed.

Peter felt a little bit terrified as he pushed the words out. His mouth was dry. “I don’t know?” he squeeked. “But he’s… in good shape?”

MJ closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “You want to fuck Deadpool.”

Peter’s cheeks felt too hot. “That’s kinda crude.”

Yukio placed a hand on his wet arm. “But do you?”

Maybe this was a mistake. Yes, there were things that Peter wanted (needed) to talk about, but this? In detail? He did NOT want to talk about that. “I guess I’m just curious?”

“Then go to a bar!” exclaimed MJ. “There are so many bars! So many guys, who don’t kill people or shoot up streets or stab you! Peter, you can get your butthole licked by hundreds of men here in New York, it’s not like you don’t have options!”

Peter honestly didn’t know what to say to that.

He also didn’t really know how to deal with the image of butthole licking, or the fact that he had pictured that exact thing a bunch of shameful times already, pushing straight past the ‘but that’s dirty’ in the ‘but if you shower before, that would feel so dirty dirty’ zone, that left him kind of flushed and breathing heavily with crossed legs whenever he thought about it for too long.

He really needed a hobby, or something. Less porn, more… knitting? He should take up knitting.

“But he’s really not that bad,” he protested, even if it came out kind of weak. His gaze went from MJ to Ellie, half pleading, but she shook her head, too.

“He’s old and ugly and you can do better.”

Well, that was just harsh. “He’s not ugly.”

MJ squinted. “So he is old?”

Peter’s heart jumped up a little, and he was pretty sure that it wasn’t for the same reasons as it usually was around Wade. He felt slightly… busted? “He’s… slightly older than me.”

MJ just looked at him, unblinking. “How much older?”

Oh God. Ohgodohgodohgod.

“He’s almost thirty-nine,” Yukio (unhelpfully) supplied. “So that’s… like, eighteen years?”

Peter couldn’t look any of them in the eye. “Seventeen.”

He half expected a punch in the arm, but MJ just whistled. “Jesus. You could’ve been his ‘Sixteen and Pregnant’ baby.”

Peter made a face at that. He would really, really prefer not to picture that.

“Smells like daddy issues,” Ellie commented off-handedly, but MJ’s Intensity immediately shifted from Peter to her at that.

“You can’t go there.”

Ellie blinked a few times, then held her hands up in defeat. “What, is that offensive too?”

“Not really.” Peter shrugged, even if he felt slightly sick at what she was implying. “I mean, I guess my issue would be that I don’t have one - but that doesn’t mean I want Wade to be my dad, that’s just… ugh.”

“Of course you don’t,” said Ellie easily. “But attention is attention, and getting attention from an older guy that you missed as a kid -”

“I didn’t miss it,” Peter interrupted, and okay, maybe his voice was a little sharper than he intended, at this point. “I had Ben, and Ben was fine.”

Ellie looked pretty puzzled, mouthing ‘Ben?’ at MJ, but she just shook her head and gently squeezed Peter’s shoulder.

“Not the point, anyway. You already have an unhealthy paternal figure, remember? Toner Sterk?” Her voice wasn’t gentler than normal, didn’t get that Super Careful edge to it that other people had whenever his uncle was brought up.

Honestly, in another life, Peter would’ve married MJ on the spot.

“Mr. Stark,” he corrected, “is kinda more my mentor? Not anymore, anyway.”

“Aw.” Yukio patted his arm again. “What happened?”

Peter didn’t know what to say to that. Actually, he did know. He knew it perfectly. But the sole idea that there was someone out there that cared enough about him to comfort him in his wet Spider-Man suit in the dead of night, who didn’t know how stupid he had been as an eighteen year old -

Peter liked that. He didn’t want to burst that bubble.

MJ was excellent at bubble bursting. “He told Wilson that Stark raped him as a kid to bait him into beating him up, so that Stark could catch him and throw him in jail.”

A deadly silence fell.

“He was stupid,” MJ added quietly.

Yukio’s grip on Peter’s arm suddenly got tight. Real tight.

“Ow.” Really, really tight. “Ow!” So tight, in fact, that Peter had to yank himself free before his bones started to splinter. “Ow! Stopstopstopstop-”

“Really, really stupid,” Yukio agreed, her voice unlike anything Peter had ever heard from her before. He was used to the Yukio that sounded exactly as pink as her hair was - this was more venomous, almost unhuman.

He almost pissed his pants, not even kidding. Even her eyes seemed to be glowing a little, but Peter wasn’t sure if that was just his imagination.

It was MJ that finally pushed him off his stool and quickly took his place, grabbing both of Yukio’s (very strong, very scary) hands in her own. “He knows, he knows. He’s a fucking idiot and he knows that. It’s the dumbest thing he’s ever done, and he’s aware of that, and he is also aware of just how many dumb things he’s done, okay, babe? Hey, Pete, how many dumb things have you done?”

Peter mindlessly rubbed his hurt arm from the other side of the room, where he was leaning against the wall. His voice was small. “A lot.”

“But he usually means well,” MJ went on, and though she went for soothing, Yukio just huffed a harsh, angry laugh, and pulled her hands free.

“Accusing someone of something like that, that’s not well-intended, that’s just cruel. That’s insane.”

MJ didn’t say anything. Peter didn’t say anything. Ellie didn’t say anything, either; she just walked straight over to where Peter was standing, and sat down on the armrest of one of the chairs so she was suddenly all up in his space.

“Why the fuck would you do that?”

Even after all those years, Peter didn’t know what on Earth the right answer to that would be.

Maybe because there was none.

Definitely because there was none. He could’ve said that Mr. Stark had been a super unreasonable employer, who’d made him work way too much hours for no money at all. He just could’ve said that and paid Wade for the job. It would’ve been worth the money. If Mr. Stark had been warned in time, they probably would’ve caught him in time, and he probably would’ve been proud. Peter didn’t even doubt that he would’ve given him all the money back that he’d spend on the trick.

Except he knew that Wade wouldn’t have been so invested in this, and he wouldn’t have been so blind to the trap if he hadn’t been invested.

So basically, he had done that horrible thing because he knew it would work, and now that he thought it properly, it was becoming horribly clear that that was a conclusion that he’d been avoiding for years, now.

That he was actually horrible enough to do such a thing. That he was capable of that, without looking too much at why Wade was so easily invested in the lie.

But Ellie was doing her judgy eyebrow thing, and there was a very tight knot in Peter’s stomach, and he had a gut feeling that there was no more dancing around that one anymore. “I… I felt like it would work.”

Ellie said nothing. In the kitchen behind her, MJ had to suddenly lick Yukio’s hand to distract her from how she was crushing the metal of the stool underneath her.

“Which is horrible,” Peter slowly went on, “and I regret it a lot, and I’m really sorry.”

The silence that followed was icy, distant. There was a look of revulsion on Ellie’s face. Deep, deep disappointment on Yukio’s.

It was like looking aunt May in the face after the Deadpool Fiasco all over again. Like he was losing two more aunts, like he somehow felt his orphan-ness grow even more.

“But I shoplifted a smartphone when I was sixteen,” MJ suddenly broke the silence. “So I guess we all do dumb stuff when we’re young.”

“Not the same,” Ellie immediately snapped. “From the bottom of my heart, fuck you, Peter.”

Peter tried to push the hurt in his chest deep, deep down. He deserved this. He had to man through it. “Yeah, I know. I know. I’m sorry.”

He barely dared to look at Yukio, because he knew that another one of those blows was coming, but when he finally did, her eyes were watery, but half smiling.

“I slashed the tires of a guy that called Els something rude two years ago,” she admitted.

Another silence.

“I used to fantasize about shoving one of those cute, tiny cactuses down a guy’s throat,” MJ went on. “Remember Flash, Pete?”

Peter almost, almost dared to give a little smile. “Wait, really?”

MJ shrugged. “I’m no saint.”

Yukio’s smile grew a bit. “I flirt with straight guys at bars sometimes when I’m broke, just to get drinks.”

MJ’s face lit up. “Oh, yeah! She’s real good at it, too. Sometimes they end up buying her ‘weird lesbian friends’ courtesy drinks because she guilts them into it.”

After another tense silence, in which it became more and more clear that this was supposed to be Ellie’s turn, she finally caved: “Okay, fine, I killed, like, sixty people.”

Oh.

“Uh,” Yukio said eloquently, in a very careful, gentle voice. “I thought we weren’t counting that?”

MJ suddenly looked a little pale. “You mean, as in, not while you were out superheroing?”

Ellie immediately turned around and frowned. “What? You really thought I just straight up shot people outta nowhere? Of course it’s work related. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.”

Peter could empathise with that. “‘Cool motive,’” he quoted, “‘still murder’.”

Ellie snapped her fingers in finger guns at him. “Exactly.”

Peter’s gaze went over to MJ again, who laughed a little nervously, but didn’t seem half as shocked as he had expected her to be. So maybe Ellie’s ‘job’ wasn’t as much of a secret as he’d feared; that was good. MJ had a right to know what her girlfriends were up to in the dead of the night.

Besides tricking overeager straight men in bars, apparently.

“The point is,” MJ finally continued, “he did something super dumb and reckless and inhuman, but we all do dumb stuff.”

“His is a little worse than ours, though,” said Ellie immediately.

Peter didn’t know what to think of that. “Worse than… murder?”

All three girls nodded.

Ah. “Shit.”

“Swear word,” MJ pointed out. “Deadpool is corrupting you.”

“Then again, I’ve seen Wade do worse stuff, so when it comes to that, you guys are pretty even,” Ellie said.

Oh. Peter wasn’t sure what to think of that either. “I didn’t intend to make it this bad, though.”

Now it was MJ’s turn to give him uncomfortable finger guns. “But ya did.”

Yeah, no denying that. “But I did.”

Slowly, the room seemed to relax a little again, and Peter let himself slide down the wall, until he was relatively comfortably seated on the floor. “So… how do I stop?”

Ellie scoffed. “Stop accusing people of child mo-”

“Liking Wade,” Peter interrupted quickly. “Where’s the off button?”

Ellie simply shrugged and walked back to her kitchen island. MJ didn’t seem too sure either, but Yukio - who looked a lot calmer now, thank God - smiled at him. “Why’d you want to?”

“Because he’s bad news, right? He’s too old, he does questionable things, and he’s not well, and I think that maybe he wants me too and what if something happens and I get stuck with feelings and he just… fucks off again?”

“Peter!” MJ clutched her chest dramatically. “The F-word!”

Peter actually did feel a little bit guilty about that, even though he was a Grown Man™. It just slipped out. May would’ve scolded him, regardless.

“I don’t know, I can see it work.” Yukio intensely inspected her nails as both her girlfriends glared at her. “Yeah, he’s robbing the cradle a little bit, but you’re a lot more stable and even stronger than he is, so you’re not that out of balance. And yeah, he’s so messed up, but do you know how much better he’s been since he started hanging out with you?”

Something hot and hopeful and tingling started glowing in Peter’s chest, and he almost missed Ellie’s reluctant noise of agreement because of it. “He complimented my right hook last week.”

Yukio nodded. “Yeah, that was weird.”

“Very weird.”

“Point is, he’s more cheerful now than we’ve ever seen him, and I honestly just thought that he finally found some illegal drug that worked for him, but when I asked, he just said that he got his ass beaten at Mario Kart.”

The hopeful feeling expanded, until it was choking up Peter’s throat. “Really?”

Ellie shrugged. Yukio smiled. “Yeah. I don’t know what exactly he feels for you, but he likes you, that’s for sure. So stop worrying, okay? He’s not a pros and cons list, he’s a person.”

Not a pros and cons list, but a person. Peter nodded. “Geez, you have no idea how much I needed to hear that.”

MJ’s somewhat grouchy face cleared up. “Hey! Hear that, babe? You just won your first Peter’s Problem Party!”

And she did, she really did.

-----

He managed to stop worrying for as long as it took him to go back to his dorm, crash on his bed, and sleep until around nine in the morning.

Because that’s when he woke up to new text messages, and they were all from Wade.

hey!! sorry about tonight

u ok??

u looked a little freaked out when you fled

bcs you fled

i was joking btw, it was a pun

“youre falling for me!!!” bcs u fell

get it

whitey found it hilarious but u clearly dont, sorry

wanna come back and get ur butt kicked at super smash bros?? :D

peter?

ok :(

sorry

dont be mad ok ill take an internet course in having a better filter and Doing No Flirty Pun Attacks at my Pals

promise

night night

sleep tight

dont let the bed bugs kill ya <3

Peter read all the texts in one go, and felt the guilt become worse and worse with each one. Maybe Yukio was right; if Wade really valued their time together that much, then it probably wouldn’t have felt great to watch his friend literally run away from him after one pun (which Peter had to admit that in all its lame simplicity, he still found it funny), especially not without texting back.

Well, he didn’t want Wade to wake up with the same knot in his stomach that Peter had right now, so he immediately texted back:

Not your fault! I just had to rush back because

Peter blinked a few times at his phone. What was a reasonable excuse to literally run away from your friend after he flirted with you? He had a feeling that I wanted to kiss you really bad and that freaked me out wasn’t exactly an excuse that leave him without any follow-up questions.

But there was always one thing that let people off the hook immediately.

Not your fault! I just had to rush back because I had a bad stomach. Sorry. Good morning. -Peter

It was only after he hit ‘send’ that the sudden realisation that he had just essentially told Wade that he had diarrhea hit in.

Oh, God.

Before he knew how to talk himself out of that one, though, a response came in:

really??? ohfuck were never eating there again, we should sue that place!

Peter laughed a little at the image of Wade, in all seriousness, showing up at court with a normal suit over his Deadpool suit and suing the shit out of some poor food truck owner. He’d mostly just feel sorry for the judge.

And the innocent food truck owner, of course.

It’s okay! It’s fine. Probably just college stress catching up on me, or maybe I had bad eggs for breakfast? I should’ve seen if they floated. Anyway, you like that shawarma stand, you wouldn’t sue them. -Peter

The response was pretty immediate.

i dont like them if they poison my petey.

And that was when Peter decided to rapidly put his phone away and start his day, before he could dwell on the intense warmth that suddenly bloomed in his chest.

-----

The rest of the week almost felt normal. Like he was just another college kid, with college problems, and a college life. He had too much to work on, too little time, and definitely not enough energy. Which was why he needed some good nights of sleep, he decided.

Because New York City had loads of superheroes who could keep an eye on it for one week, he decided.

It definitely had nothing to do with Wade, he decided, absolutely not. College was just important, and expensive, and it would be a waste of time and money if he failed in his last year.

Right? Right.

Anyway, that was how he ended up spending a whole week on campus, working on several assignments, even drinking coffee with Gwen a few times; coffee because he could use some more energy for catching up all the work he’d pushed aside when he was doing some Intense Spider-Manning at the beginning of the year, Gwen because he liked her.

She was the fourth one he came out to, after MJ’s gang, and it just sort of rolled off his tongue before he even realized he was going to bring it up.

“So I found out I was gay last Sunday,” he blurted, and Gwen choked on her coffee.

“Oh,” she said, pulling her face straight again. “That’s nice. I went swimming last Sunday.”

Peter honestly didn’t know what to say to that, until Gwen’s face broke out in a smile, and she took his hand over the table. “I’m glad to see you’re figuring yourself out.”

Oh. He knew that look. He offered her a somewhat embarrassed smile back. “You knew, huh?”

Gwen shrugged. “I had a feeling.”

“I’m sorry,” Peter said suddenly, “because I really did like you a lot, you know - I mean, I still do? Of course I do, I love you, but it’s different, and… And I liked some other girls in the past too, and I have no idea what the hell that’s supposed to mean, but I just -”

“Peter.” She squeezed his hand, and he immediately shut up, letting the background noise of the cafetaria wash over their silence for a few seconds. Then, Gwen continued: “I don’t feel less special, relax. Sexuality is weird, and complicated, and feelings will always stay complicated like that.”

Peter felt himself relax in his chair again, and an automatic smile appeared. “Thanks. Thank you.”

She took a sip of her drink. “Anytime. I love you too, Peter, don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Honestly, what he’d done to get a friend like Gwen Stacy was beyond him. “I’ll try.”

Gwen smiled, squeezed his hand one last time and pulled it back again. “So, any lucky guys?”

Peter knew that the question was coming, but when it did, he felt his stomach flip anyway. “I mean, kind of. It’s complicated, though.”

Her face scrunched up in sympathy. “Straight?”

Well. “I actually have no idea? I don’t know. He was married to a woman.”

Gwen’s face didn’t get as judgemental as MJ’s would’ve gotten, but she still didn’t seem overly enthusiastic. “Married? How old is he?”

Peter took a too large gulp of too hot coffee. He burned his throat. “Heisthirtyeight,” he whispered quickly.

“Thirty eight,” Gwen repeated. “He’s almost forty.”

“Thirty eight isn’t almost forty,” Peter protested, a little too quickly.

“Isn’t it, though? That’s seventeen years, Pete, that’s…”

“A lot. I know.” Peter nervously drummed his fingertips against the side of his cup. “It’s not like I really want to like him that way, it just happened.”

Gwen ran a hand through her hair and got a mysterious look on her face. “How did it happen?”

Peter shrugged. “We just hung out? We did that a lot, and we made out once -”

“Oh?” Gwen immediately perked up. “But you weren’t sure if he liked guys.”

“I don’t think he does. It was just to avoid -” He bit his tongue before he could slip out ‘Captain America’, because he felt like that would just complicate things way beyond what Gwen needed to know, “- some other guy, to chase him off, or something? It worked, at least. And it was -”

“An eye-opener?” Gwen guessed, with a bit of teasing in her voice. “Peter, I’m not going to lie. I’m not too enthusiastic about his age, but it’s a sweet getting together story.”

Peter squirmed a little. “Except without getting together.”

“Yeah, except that.” Gwen cleared her throat. “So what’s stopping you? Besides his age, which you don’t seem to find such a big deal, apparently.”

If Peter was being honest, he would’ve found the age gap a pretty big deal with basically any other person. Never in his life had he found ‘older people’ particularly interesting - sure, he liked Liz when he was a freshman and when she was a senior, but that was different. That was high school, and it was just two and a half years. Not seventeen.

But the thing was that there were so many other aspects of Wade that he knew he should be worried about, that the whole age thing kind of bleaked in comparison. “He’s gone through a lot of stuff.”

Gwen’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh. Wow. PTSD?”

That was one way of putting it. “Amongst other things?” Peter guessed. “He’s just… do you ever meet someone and you know that they can’t help that they’re that way, and you want to help them so badly, but you also know that you could end up getting too invested and then they’re leaving or they don’t recognize you anymore or they have an episode and shoot up a street and they get arrested and then you’re in love with a criminal and -”

“You’re in love with Deadpool?” Gwen suddenly looked very, very pale. “Pete. Is that what you’re saying? ‘Shooting up a street’?”

Peter’s mouth went dry. “I…” How was he supposed to soften the blow on that one? “I mean, I wouldn’t say ‘in love’? I just… He’s nice, Gwen. He’s really nice, and he cares a lot, and I like the way he looks, and…”

Gwen patiently waited for him to finish, but there was nothing that came after the ‘and’. Until there was.

“And he stopped killing because of me. I’m helping him, he’s getting better, and that just feels really nice. That I can be someone he can trust, you know? That whenever the voices are getting him down, he can just tell them to back off, because they can name all those insecurities he has and I still like him.”

He wasn’t sure why, but his heart was beating a lot faster after that confession. Gwen looked at him for almost a full minute, as she folded her hands under her chin and leaned on them.

“So he was killing before, and he has voices in his head,” she finally concluded, very slowly. “You’re aware of this.”

Peter knew where this was going. He also knew that Gwen was too smart to protest right now. “Yes.”

“And you know you’re not a professional therapist that can help him through this?”

Peter nodded, and ignored the knot in his stomach.

“And you know that you’re going to get your heart broken at some point by him?”

The knot became tighter, and despite his ratio screaming ‘YES MA’AM’, his heart couldn’t agree. “He wouldn’t intentionally do that.”

Gwen grabbed his hands again, and gently laced her fingers with his. “I never said ‘intentionally’. You’re a great judge of character, Peter, and if you say that he’s a good person, then by all means - despite the fact that he’s a literal murderer - I trust you. But he sounds like he has a lot of baggage, and sometimes that baggage can come smacking you in the face when both of you least expect it.”

The knot became even tighter, and Peter clutched his coffee cup. “Sounds like you know a lot about this.”

Gwen gave a half shrug. “My mom is a vet, and she’s not okay sometimes. She’s a good human being, but that doesn’t mean that her baggage never makes her do bad things.”

Peter felt like there were more details to that, but he could also feel out that those were not his to know. If they had been, they would’ve come up at some point in the six months that they’d dated. “I’m really sorry to hear that.”

Another half shrug. “It’s okay. I’m not there anymore, anyway, and she and my dad have learned to deal with it. It’s just hard, Peter, and all I hope is that you know what you’re getting into.”

Peter crossed his arms over his chest, and when he looked Gwen in the eye, he almost felt ashamed.

Which was ridiculous, because liking Wade wasn’t something that he should be ashamed of. Because Wade wasn’t perfect, no, but he wasn’t a pros and cons list either. He was a whole person, and yeah, that person was a little bit damaged, but that was fine. People were allowed to be.

“Yeah, I do,” he finally said. “And I kind of think he’d be worth getting my heart broken for.”

When a smile finally reappeared on Gwen’s face, it was genuine, if a little weak. “Finally got that kiss you couldn’t stop thinking about, huh?”

And honestly, Peter knew he ought to be ashamed to admit it to his ex, but he couldn’t hide his smile when he nodded ‘yes’.

-----

It was three days after he ran off that he got another text.

still that stomach ache? missed u :(

Yeah, sorry. School is really busy too. How are you holding up? -Peter

caught 3 drug dealers today

And how did you handle that? -Peter

bound them to a street light and called the cops :D

Great job keeping them alive! I’m proud of you! -Peter

i know ur sarcastic but <333 tnx

Not even actually sarcastic. -Peter

u have very little faith in me if the bar is so low

I think I have the appropriate amount of faith in you. -Peter

more than is wise. anywho since ur not around people keep mistaking me for u so i cant use my pewpews

Please just call them guns. -Peter

my powpows

That’s somehow worse. -Peter

my brain jam makers

Wade. -Peter

my hot hard shafts

Please DON’T say that to a child who mistakes you for me. -Peter

wouldnt dare. miss u. pls crap out the last of that food poisoning soon

Will do. Night, Wade. -Peter

dont let the bed bugs…???

Use their hot, hard shafts on you. Bye. -Peter

:o :o :o :o

-----

Ned was the fifth to know, and had the shortest response, as well.

“Oh,” he said. “Okay.”

Peter stared at him for a moment longer, waiting for something more to come out, but Ned was already focused again on blowing on his bowl over-microwaved soup.

“And I think I have a crush on Wade Wilson,” he pushed on, because so far, that had been the real conversation starter.

Ned looked up from his soup. “Oh,” he said again. “Oh! Deadpool! Is that why you keep staying over at his? Are you… y’know? Hey! Up top!”

Wait, what? Peter blinked a couple of times, as he straightened up on his bed. “You don’t mind?”

Ned shrugged. “He wouldn’t be my first choice, but you do you, I guess.”

Peter squinted. “Not your first choice?”

“I mean, not to be crude, but.” Ned cleared his throat and stirred his soup with a spoon. “If I were gay and I wanted to have sex with a superhero, it would probably be Cap.”

Uh. “I don’t want to have sex with Cap.”

That seemed to freak Ned out more than the Big Load of News Peter had just dropped on him. “Not with Cap? Even MJ wants to have sex with Cap!”

Okay, that was a whole other image that Peter hadn’t had for over a year now, and he preferred to keep it out of his head for as long as possible. “It’s… not really the point, anyway? Wade’s my friend, it’s different. And we’re not together, or anything, I just think he’s nice.”

Ned nodded slowly, the way he always did when he had no idea what was going on, but when he wanted to show support anyway. “Okay, that sounds good.”

“So we’re good?” Peter asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.

Ned broke out into a huge grin. “Of course were good.” Then his grin suddenly faded. “Unless I now have to be gay to stay friends with you and MJ.”

Peter blinked a few times. “That’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said.”

“Is it, though?”

“You’re my best friend, shut up.”

Ned didn’t seem completely convinced. “MJ is also your best friend, and now you’ve got this other thing to bond over, and… y’know.”

What the hell. Peter actually hopped off his bed and sat across from Ned at their mini table. “But you’re my bestest friend, and you never complain when I come home late, and you always tag me in funny videos, and you unironically send me ‘All Star’ by Smash Mouth when I’m having a bad day. Who needs gay friends when they have All Star friends?”

Ned gave a tiny smile, just a twitch of the corners of his mouth. “I have a folder of old Vines saved on my laptop for when you’re sad.”

Peter could honestly hug him ‘til his ribs cracked. So he did. Not until his ribs cracked, but the hugging part, he did the hugging part.

“I have a bunch of 2014 Shrek memes saved on my phone for when you have finals week,” Peter admitted. “They’re all so dumb.”

Ned laughed into Peter’s shoulder. “I know! That makes them good!”

Peter barely agreed, but it didn’t matter, because if it worked for Ned, it worked for Ned.

And boy, he really loved Ned.

-----

The fifth day after running off. Peter had honestly missed him the night before, but he refused to text first; he was far enough down this rabbit hole already.

wanna come over for mario kart?

Still have a stomach bug. -Peter

i have a toilet 2

I’d make bad company and just make gross noises all the time on your bathroom. -Peter

but i love ur gross noises

Peter felt guilt churn in his stomach, but he pushed it as far away as he could. He couldn’t go back. Not right now, not when he still felt So Highly Anxious at the very idea of going back to their old video game and hanging out routine.

I’m really sorry, you know. -Peter

dont be. ur a student with a busy life and im a sad sack of shit that gets bored easily

Peter had a feeling that wasn’t quite what was going on, but he knew that calling him out on it right now would just expose a deeper layer of hurt that he’d want to fix, and he couldn’t, not right now, because how was he supposed to be Wade’s friend with all this Confusion and all those Feelings in the way?

You’re my favorite sack of shit, though. -Peter

:)))))) i made u say shit

You’re a bad influence. -Peter

Peter could already predict the ;) that was undoubtedly coming in. He was wholly expecting it.

But it didn’t come. A few moments went by, until finally a short :) came in, followed by: u too, petey, u too.

-----

May was next.

This one didn’t flop out out of nowhere. He actually had to go to her place first, which was already kind of an Ordeal, because it was Saturday and this was basically The Day he had in the week to catch up with all the schoolwork that he hadn’t been able to do, because he’d been too busy catching up with schoolwork from before.

So he already had to make that choice. And then he had to go there, and then sit through that awkward first half hour that still happened every time he came by. Even when he’d lived there in the summer.

“It’s so nice to see you back,” she’d say. “It’s quiet without your stomping everywhere. Like missing a small herd of horses.”

Then Peter would laugh and say he didn’t stomp like that. And May would just look at him and smile.

And then that smile would fade.

See, here was the thing. He missed her. He missed her like crazy. Aunt May wasn’t just the last family he had, she was also just a really good person, and Peter loved her, and it was so, so hard to see that same love on her face fade away at the memory of how stupid he’d been, three years ago.

Not that she hadn’t forgiven him. She had. But Peter still knew that somewhere deep down, there was a bridge he’d burned that day that took a little more than “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” to rebuild. He hated that, but there was nothing he could do about it, besides just showing up and trying to show her that he still loved her as much as he did when she taught him to dance for homecoming.

“Anywho,” he broke That Silence That He Hated, and May snapped out of her saddened look. “I have some news, I guess?”

“You’re pregnant,” May said immediately. “I knew it.”

Peter paused.

That was a joke. May was joking with him.

“Wait,” he said slowly, but there was a way too happy smile creeping up on his face. May was joking. May was joking! “What gave it away?”

May made a vague shrug, but the brightness of her smile matched Peter’s. “I don’t know, you just have that glow.” She winked, then quickly ruffled her hand through his hair. It was humiliating and familiar; Peter loved it.

“No, seriously though,” she said, in a slightly lower tone. “What’s up?”

Ah, well. This was it. “I think I like guys.”

May fell quiet.

May fell quiet for a long, long time.

“Fuck,” Peter swore under his breath. “You didn’t want to hear that.”

“No!” May snapped her fingers. “Not that! Just. I thought we passed this station years ago, Pete.”

Peter frowned. Now, he definitely would’ve remembered a previous gay crisis, he was about 93% sure of that. “Really?”

“Dennis? The phone number guy?” May gestured with her hand a few times. “You went to the supermarket one time and got some guy’s number and went out on a date with him?”

Dennis the supermarkt gu-

Oh.

“That was Deadpool,” he admitted. “I was talking to Deadpool.”

Something in May’s face closed off again. “Jesus, Peter…”

“But we’re good now! We’re good!” He quickly grabbed his phone out of his pocket, and unlocked it to reveal the dumb selfie of them he’d put as his background. Both maskless, both putting bunny ears with their fingers behind the other’s head. “Look, we’re pals now.”

May’s quietness shifted, but didn’t go away. “Peter,” she said slowly. “Didn’t Stark tell you to stay away from that guy?”

Ah.

Yes.

He had told him that, yes. Peter slowly put his phone away again.

“I mean, he doesn’t really have to know?” he suggested, and if his voice sounded cool, then he got real lucky, because he was suddenly terrified. His friends were just going to scold him for hanging out with Wade; May could actually rat him out. “I mean, I’m helping! He hasn’t killed anyone since we started hanging out, apparently.”

May raised an eyebrow. “Do you know that for a fact, or did he say that?”

Uh. “Ellie told me.”

“Who’s Ellie?”

“MJ’s girlfriend.”

May frowned. “She told me her name was Yoiki, or something.”

“Yukio,” Peter corrected gently. “She’s her girlfriend, too. All three of them are dating, it’s a whole triangle thing.”

“Right.” May seemed to be too occupied to get into that can of worms. “So all you know is what MJ’s triangle girlfriends told you.”

She wasn’t wrong. Peter shrugged.

“That’s nothing, Peter. You don’t know.”

He didn’t, he couldn’t but it didn’t matter. He wasn’t a list. Wade wasn’t a list. “He’s nice, though, and he’s forgiven me. And Mr. Stark also kind of forgave m-”

“Under the condition that you wouldn’t see him again,” May reminded him. “Which you are. Clearly. And now he knows you’re Spider-Man too? Jesus.”

May got off the couch and started pacing, but Peter hopped off too. “But! I’m keeping him busy, May. Instead of taking up merc jobs, he’s just at home playing Mario Kart with me. He makes jokes about how I’m making him bankrupt because he barely works anymore. I’m keeping him off the streets, and isn’t that what Mr. Stark wants?”

May just gave him a ‘pardon me’ look. “No, I think it’s what you want.”

That made Peter pause, if just for a little bit. “Maybe,” he countered, “but he’s happier, too. He’s just a guy, May, and he’s been through a lot. And you always told me to find the best in people, right? And I did! And I found so much good stuff, it’s just buried under a lot of crap that was out of his hands!” His voice was too high pitched, his breathing heavy. “And now I’m screaming and I’m not sure why, and I don’t want to fight over this!”

His chest was heaving a little. May had tears in her eyes.

“We don’t have to fight,” she soothed him. “I’m too old to do that again.”

Peter shook his head, and felt those same tears build up in his throat. “Yeah, not again.”

May nodded to herself for a bit, before quickly wiping the moisture from her eyes, and pulling Peter in a hug in basically one motion. “You’ve worked yourself in such deep shit, Pete.”

Peter found himself sniffling against her chest. “You said ‘shit’.”

“You’re using a lot of words I don’t like, too.”

“‘s Wade’s fault.”

“Hm, I bet.” She leaned her cheek on his hair. “You smile a lot when you talk about him.”

Peter didn’t know what to say to that, but it did make him smile. Again.

“I’m going to castrate him if he hurts you,” May continued sweetly. “Rip ‘em right off.”

Peter thought of MJ, and decided that he was way less an orphan than he thought in sad moments. “Thanks, May.”

And when he left by the end of the evening, he could’ve sworn her smile didn’t fade as quickly as it had done before.

-----

It was after that evening that he texted Wade first.

Have you ever had that your friends really dislike someone you like? -Peter

nah

Never? -Peter

weasel doesnt care about anything and logan hates everything and every1 hes so emo

Oh. -Peter

something bothering u, peteypie?

They basically think you’re going to kill me at some point. -Peter

:o :o :o dude what no

i like u

did i mention im a deathotarian i meant to brag about that to u

Ellie mentioned it. Don’t know if I can believe it. -Peter

There was a slight pause, before several messages flooded in:

somethings up

whats up

ur not like this normally

What am I normally like, then? -Peter

grossly optimistic and smiley and on xtc probably

do u really think im going to kill u?

Peter shuddered. He couldn’t even think about it. Of course not. But I want them to like you, because I like you. I like you a whole lot. Hurts that they can’t see that. -Peter

… to be fair to them, i did stab u and ive killed more ppl than i can remember

Doesn’t make any of this easier, Wade. -Peter

but the point is that it doesnt matter, bcs u can handle me. remember when u were like twelve and u grabbed me in the supermarket and almost broke my arm? bcs i do. oh BOY i do.

anyway, what im trying to say is that ur the first person ive met in fucking ages who can handle me at my craziest and actually likes me at my best and ur friends have got nothing to worry about, even if im a sack of shit

im really terrible at this can u just pls do one patrol w me so we can talk face 2 face, i dont care if u poop on me

Peter felt a jolt of anxiousness run through him, and he flinched.

Gross. -Peter

not saying im into it im just saying I DONT CARE. just pls just half an hour, maybe

He stared at the message for four full minutes, before the bubbling excitement finally won it from the bubbling anxiety.

Okay. - Peter

And he went.

-----

It was two in the morning by the time Peter made it to their usual rooftop; Wade was already there, in costume.

It took maybe one and a half seconds after landing before he had two large, warm arms wrapped almost crushingly around him. “Holyfuckingshit I missed you so much.”

Peter barely managed to awkwardly pat the back of Wade’s shoulder. “Crushing me a lil’ bit there, Pool.”

Wade’s gripped loosened a little, but he didn’t let go. Instead, he turned his head so that his masked face was buried in Peter’s neck, and just… held him.

It was weird. It was really, really nice.

“Tough week?” Peter guessed.

Wade huffed a laugh. “You have no idea.”

Immediately, all the cons on the pros and cons list he wasn’t supposed to think anymore, got listed off by a voice in his head that sounded surprisingly much like MJ and Gwen combined. Unstable. Hears voices. Messed up. Leaves when he can. “I think I can imagine.”

Wade nuzzled a little more into his neck. “I get that this is super inappropriate, and everything, but you’re the softest friend I have and I’m taking gross advantage of that.”

Peter’s heart didn’t mind. Peter’s brain was screaming with all the voices of all his friends ever.

Maybe Wade did like him.

Maybe Wade even liked him the way he liked him, and maybe they were going to do something about it, at some point, maybe.

“I shot at, like, all the walls of my apartment, it was a whole mess,” said Wade.

You know you’re not a therapist that can get him through this? said his mental Gwen.

“Sure as hell got kicked out of that place. I have backups, don’t worry, but the games are definitely gone,” said Wade.

You know you’re going to get your heart broken? said mental Gwen.

A very uncomfortable pit started to form in his stomach, because as Wade tried to hold him even tighter, he started to extract himself, just a little bit.

Wade was not okay, and if he fell in love with him, he wouldn’t be okay either. He had to get out while he still could.

“Maybe we should just patrol,” he suggested, and for once he was very grateful that Wade was wearing a mask. He didn’t want to know if his face fell or not.

He couldn’t know, because his heart was already falling, because he made a Choice, and it didn’t feel like a nice one.

“Oh,” said Wade. His voice did fall, right after Peter’s heart. “Okay.”

So they did. It was very basic, actually, just going from rooftop to rooftop with Wade clutched to his back, Peter desperately trying to find commotion before he could start thinking about what the hell kind of decision he had just taken, when it happened.

“Hold up,” Wade had said, “need to grab my phone.”

What on earth he’d needed his phone for, Peter had no idea.

It didn’t matter.

What mattered, was that Wade let go of his shoulders, mid-swing from a building. What mattered, was that Wade slipped.

What mattered was that Peter turned around, watched him fall, panicked, and webbed him. That he webbed him with the strongest webbing he could choose, in his panic.

What mattered, was that strong webbing had no elasticity.

What mattered, was that he stopped Wade from falling, but that he still felt the sudden pull on his webs, a sudden snap that had nothing to do with the webbing ripping apart.

It was just about then that time slowed way the hell down.

It was clumsy. It was inelegant. It was something done in pure shock, the realisation not setting in yet, completely dazed, how Peter climbed himself up the building he was webbed to, all the way to the roof, with Wade dangling from his other hand. It took ages. It seemed to take even longer to reel Wade up to the ledge, too.

It was quiet. It was so quiet, as he sat there, with a webbed up Wade in his arms, a frown forming on Peter’s face. Air suddenly seemed thin; he took his mask off, but it didn’t help.

Wade’s neck was too long, and there was webbing right at the point where his skull met his neck.

“That’s not supposed to happen,” Peter heard himself say. “That’s not supposed to happen at all.”

Wade said nothing back.

He never said nothing back.

He also didn’t look back. Not even when Peter pried his mask off, with shaking fingers. His eyes just stared upwards. His eyes were staring upwards, and something had snapped, and his neck was too long.

Peter vomited over the ledge.

That wasn’t supposed to happen. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

“But you heal,” he told Wade’s long neck. “You always heal. You’ve had so many broken bones before! So many! I’ve seen it! Can’t you just… just. Just fix your neck, please?”

His hands were shaking. His vision was shaking. He was pretty sure his soul was shaking, on the roof of a bank building somewhere in Manhattan, with the head of a dead man in his lap.

“Fix your neck,” he said again, and he propped his fingertips underneath Wade’s jaw.

Nothing.

Not even a faint pulse, nothing.

“Please. Please, Wade. Fix your neck,” he whispered, but there was something heavyheavyheavy on his shoulders that wrapped him up and reminded him: dead men don’t heal.

-----

And that was how Peter came to sit with a corpse in his lap, not aware anymore of any robbers or attackers or thieves down on the streets of New York City. That’s how he started to regret going on patrol so much that he wanted to grip his mask and burn it to shreds, how he -

What was how he realized he just should’ve let Wade hug him. Should’ve just suffered the broken heart, in time, because that would’ve been worth it, because Wade would’ve been happy and alive and smiling right now, and Jesus Christ, it wasn’t just that Wade was dead, it was that he had killed him, and everything was too much, everything was drowning in Peter’s shaking, everything was -

Shaking hands rummaged through his pocket as he grabbed his phone, and scrolled through his old messages.

Not Wade’s. He tapped on Ned’s texts.

It was two, three clicks, until YouTube started to load. His hands shook so badly that he almost threw his phone off the building.

“Somebody once told me, the world was gonna roll me,” he sang along. It was off tune and wobbly, and it was stupid, it was so, so stupid and he had no fucking clue what else he could do.

He knew that this was a type of sad Smash Mouth couldn’t fix, but the world was collapsing, and he could try.

“I ain’t the sharpest tool in the she-hed.”

She was looking kinda dumb with her finger and her thumb, in the shape of an L on her forehead…

He played the song on repeat. It repeated six times.

The first time, Peter cried.

The second time, Peter cried more. Cried so hard there was snot everywhere on his face, cried so hard his lungs hurt, cried so hard that he was sure that the whole city could hear it.

The third time, he didn’t even hear it anymore, it was just noise, like the rest of the world was just noise. He rubbed Wade’s bald head like he could feel it. He pretended he did.

The fourth time, he grabbed literally everything out of every pouch of Deadpool’s, looking for something that could possibly, in any way, alter time. He found sixteen guns and two Fruitellas. None of them altered time.

The fifth, he googled all known sorcerers, with the song playing in the background. He knew that there was a guy named Dr. Strange, out there, somewhere, and Peter was going to find him. He was going to fail his finals and burn his own suit and trade his soul and find him.

And the sixth time around, right when Peter started to think that maybe it was just better to throw his phone off the building and maybe, maybe jump after it, Wade fixed his neck.

Chapter Text

Peter barely even had time to really register what was going on, because it happened all at once; suddenly, Wade’s neck just sort of clicked together again, like a spring jumping back, a jagged breath was sucked into his lungs with a grossly wet sound, and every muscle in his body tensed.

If Peter was honest, the first thing he thought was that this was some sort of hallucination. Yeah, living Wades could heal, but dead Wades? They were dead.

Except this one wasn’t.

“What’d I miss?” Wade croaked, and Peter was pretty sure he had thrown himself and his phone off the ledge a few moments ago, because none of this was real. “Are we watching Shrek? How long was I gone?”

A vague numbness set in again, because none of this was real. “You died.”

Wade blinked a few times. “Yeah, no, I was there for that, I’m asking you how the heck we ended up here.”

But Peter barely heard what he said. Instead, he just stared at him, locking his gaze with eyes that were definitely looking back at him, and even if this was a hallucination, it was a damned good one. “You died,” he repeated, to no one in particular. “You’re gone.”

But Wade rolled his head in Peter’s lap, and flinched when he heard several pops. “I’m never gone, Petey, Wades don’t die. Well, they die, but it never sticks. Lady Death can’t get to me.” He sniffed a bit, then made a move like he was going to get up, but then he dropped his head back on Peter’s thighs instead.

With some pretty solid weight.

That felt… real.

“What do you mean?” Peter asked, and if his voice sounded broken, he really didn’t care. The ache in his chest hadn’t faded. “You die, but never die?”

Wade nodded, his eyes closed. “Yeah, something like that. I used to think that it was only like that if I could still heal from it, but I once blew myself up to like a trillion pieces and woke up two days later about thirty miles away from the blow up point.” He shrugged, then gently rolled onto his side, wiggling his hand underneath Peter’s thigh to use it as a pillow. “Never got to wake up like this, though. ‘S nice.”

Peter just stared. And stared. “I thought you were gone,” he said. “You were gone, you died, and it was my fault.”

Wade rolled onto his back again at that, just so he could frown at Peter. “What the hell are you on -” His eyes went wide. “Oh.”

Yeah. Oh. Peter felt his hands shake again. “You could’ve told me.”

Something in Wade’s face softened, and he did sit up now. His movements were slow and kind of stiff, but he eventually turned to sit face to face with Peter, legs hanging off both sides of the ledge. “Hey, Pete, hey. Look. I’m fine. Fuck, you’ve been crying, haven’t you? Jesus.”

That by itself made more tears well up, but Peter tried to force them away, because what was the point in crying even more? It would get him nothing. At all.

But he’d lost Wade, and it had been his fault, and the fact that he was alive now didn’t just erase that memory. “You should’ve told me! I- I tried to catch you, and I snapped your neck, and I thought I’d killed you, Wade, I thought I -”

Suddenly his words were muffled, because Wade had pulled him against his chest, warm, solid, right up against his heart, with two strong arms enveloping him. “I’m sorry, baby boy, I’m really sorry.”

If anything, it got Peter to shake harder, tremble so hard that he thought that he was going to fall apart, but that was okay. He knew that he was just going to be like that for a little while longer. How could he not be? He could still feel that snap.

“You never accidentally offed someone before, did you?” Wade asked, his lips buried in Peter’s hair.

Peter shook his head.

“Then I’m real glad it’s me, because at least I’m like gum under your shoe. No getting rid of me.” A warm, large hand rubbed over Peter’s back, and Peter suddenly felt really, really small - but in a good way. He didn’t mind that he was shorter than Wade, because now it felt like Wade was honestly everywhere, and that made his chest ache way harder than it had before. In a good way.

Wade was here. Wade was alive. Wade was okay.

“I mean, I’m not gonna lie. Knowing that you’d cry so hard that you look like you smoked a ton of pot if I perma died? Means the world to me, Pete.” He nuzzled into Peter’s neck again, and this time Peter let him, he’d let him do that forever. “Never had anyone do that before, it’s nice.”

Peter closed his eyes, and inhaled until his lungs were filled with Wade’s scent and fresh air and maybe less pain. He could feel Wade’s textured skin against the side of his neck; tiny tremors were running down his spine from it. “Vanessa probably cried.” No doubt about that.

Wade huffed a little laugh against Peter’s neck, and one hand came up to the back of his head to massage his scalp. “Nah, she took five shots of vodka and kicked me in the balls when I woke up. Yelled that I got blood on the carpet. No tears, just rage.”

Peter moved to wrap his arms around Wade too, now, and slowly felt his tense muscles relax a little. “I think I could use five shots of vodka.”

Wade laughed again. “I don’t think you could handle five shots of vodka.”

Honestly, Peter wouldn’t mind if he couldn’t handle it. Getting knocked out by booze sounded just fine right then, but Wade was doing his best to keep this light-hearted, so he couldn’t just say that. “You keep underestimating me.”

The tip of Wade’s nose brushed a sensitive spot underneath Peter’s ear, and he almost made a little whiny noise. His heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t as if Peter never got hugged, but there was something about the way that Wade did it that touched his soul and made his brain go fuzzy.

He could stay like this forever, honestly, until he couldn’t feel the pull on his arm from the sudden smack of Wade’s full weight anymore.

“Oh, no, I’d never underestimate you. You’re some five foot seven shortie that can lift me up with one arm, probably, you got me to beat up Tony Stark for free, and now I’m exclusively taking non-lethal jobs all thanks to you. You’re a force to be reckoned with.” Peter felt Wade’s lips on his skin as Wade actively pressed his face in his neck, and then felt those lips curl up in a smile. “But I also think you’re a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol.”

Peter tried his best to ignore how nice it felt to have Wade’s lips on him. He really tried. “You seem real hung up on the whole ‘stronger-than-you’ thing.”

Wade made a little noise against his neck. “You have nooo idea.”

Peter had many ideas, actually, but none that he wanted to dwell on right now. He felt drained, worn out, and like he just wanted to sleep for five days straight. He stayed silent for a little while, until Wade slowly started to pull back a little, and a jolt of anxiety went through Peter’s body. “Nonono, please don’t.”

He did, though, and once he couldn’t feel Wade’s touch anywhere anymore, Peter felt a strange sensation of deep, deep loss.

Like it wasn’t real if Wade wasn’t touching him. Like he wasn’t really alive if Peter couldn’t hear his heartbeat under his ear.

“How about this, hmm?” Wade’s voice was softer than it usually was, and normally, Peter would be one hundred percent convinced that Wade was patronizing him, if it hadn’t been for the fact that his eyes were soft and that there was a small smile on his face that looked way too vulnerable to be teasing. “We get you home, you get a full night sleep, and tomorrow is a new day? It’s like nothing ever happened.”

Peter sniffled, considered, then scoffed. “That’s a stupid idea.”

Wade actually looked a little taken aback. “What? Why? You’re a stupid idea!”

It would’ve been hurtful if there had any heat in Wade’s words whatsoever, but since there wasn’t, Peter just did a non-committal half shrug. “I don’t think sleep is really the first thing my brain will want to do after committing a murder.”

“Hey!” Wade snapped his fingers loudly next to Peter’s ears. “You didn’t commit a murder. Am I dead? Look at me, am I dead?”

Brown eyes were staring him in the eye, which was soothing. He could also still picture them staring at nothing, just up, sinking in, which was less soothing. “You were.”

Wade squinted a bit at him. “Yeah, but I’m back.”

Didn’t matter. Well, of course it mattered, it mattered the whole fucking world to Peter right now, but it didn’t mean that he hadn’t been dead, and that that hadn’t been Peter’s fault. He could still feel that snap, he could still picture it, it was still real. “I don’t know, can we just hang out? At one of your backup apartments, maybe?”

“I didn’t break you, did I?” Wade waved his hand in front of Peter’s face a couple of times, even though he was paying perfect attention, thank you very much. “Fuck. I traumatized you.”

Peter batted the waving hand away. “You didn’t traumatize me, you scared the hell out of me, and I thought I’d lost you! Wouldn’t you be upset if the roles were reversed?”

Something in Wade’s face immediately shut off. “That’s different.”

Right. “How is that different?”

Wade scoffed a laugh, and Peter knew that laugh; whatever was going to come next, it wasn’t funny. “Well, you’ve got buckets of friends, don’t you? You’ve already got a funny one, and two mutant ones, and now I don’t even have video games to offer anymore. I’m the backup, Pete, I’m the ugly, bald, old friend. Can’t be the funny one when there’s already a funny one and being a mutant is basically my only other thing. I’m not that important.”

Yeah, Peter decided, as he felt like Wade just stomped all over his heart, that wasn’t funny. “You’re not the ugly friend, nor the bald one. Not even the oldest! My aunt is older. And you’re important as hell to me.”

The look on Wade’s face was one of open disbelief, before he caught himself, and morphed it into something comically disapproving. “You can’t be friends with family, Peter, that’s sad.”

Peter crossed his arms. “Healthy family dynamics are not sad, they’re nice.”

Wade’s face turned less into a frowny one and more in a mildly amused one. “That’s cute. It’s sweet. You’re sweet.”

Peter knew that he was being somewhat patronizing, but he did sound completely sincere at the same time, and the corner of his mouth twitched without intending to. “Thanks. So, can we? Hang out, I mean. Just so I can poke at you once in a while and remind myself that you’re here, that would be nice.”

Wade didn’t reply for a moment. He just stared, and Peter had no idea what the look on his face was supposed to mean. It was mostly just intense. Maybe questioning. Maybe kind of weirded out.

“Yeah,” he finally said. “Sure, yeah, let’s go.”

-----

As it turned out, Wade’s backup apartment was almost identical to the previous one in sizing, but the furniture was completely different. Like all his interior design was just a lucky dip at the thrift shop. Knowing Wade, it probably was.

It had a functional kitchen, though (although the food supply was minimal, so they ordered one pizza to share and about a gazillion comfort food desserts that were mostly for Peter, but that Wade gladly paid for with money that he insisted was completely ‘murder free’. There were no video games, but he had a functioning TV, so that was something. They could watch reruns shitty reality shows and get caught up in other people’s drama. It was pretty nice.

Nice enough to actually, after the sugar rush wore off, fall asleep.

Peter only noticed because he woke up as he was picked up, and quietly carried to a bedroom, where he actually had to fight to stay awake for long enough to take his suit off by himself and put on the clothes that Wade gave him. There was time to brush his teeth in the morning. There was time to shower in the morning. The whole day was hitting him pretty hard at this point; he just wanted to be knocked out and be done with it.

And then Wade patted his back and stood up again.

“Where’re you going?” Peter said, as quickly as he could, even though Wade was already a couple of steps out the door by the time he’d finished his sentence. He did pause, though.

“Uh.” He turned around, at least a little, and gave Peter a too optimistic smile. “The couch? You don’t wanna sleep there, it’s too lumpy.”

Because lumpiness was obviously their biggest crisis today. “I don’t wanna sleep alone, please stay.”

Wade’s eyebrows shot up. “What, here? On the floor?”

Peter swatted his hand at him as he pulled the too long sweatpants on, and crawled under the blankets. “In the bed, you know I meant the bed.”

Through Peter’s drooping eyes, he could just make out the surprised look on Wade’s face that said that no, actually, he did not know that, but he didn’t protest. Instead, there was a bunch of fabric gliding across skin, and finally the dipping of the mattress next to him as he shuffled in. Not that he touched him; it almost felt like he was intentionally keeping himself perched on the furthest place on the mattress, but it didn’t matter, because at least he was there.

Peter fell asleep within seconds.

-----

When he woke up again, there was light flooding into the bedroom through the window. Wade actually had a pretty decent view here, come to think of it. Something Peter would definitely give some more attention at some other point, because it deserved to be looked at, but there was something else that he was really focused on right now.

Namely, the fact that he was 1) burning up, and 2) completely wrapped in Wade Wilson.

Not even subtly, with one arm loosely draped over him or something because Wade had stretched that way, but deliberately held, with one arm wiggled underneath him that was most definitely asleep right now, if not dead. His entire front was pressed to Peter’s back, his forehead firmly nestled against the back of Peter’s neck, and one leg was hitched over his thighs.

And then it kind of started to come back to him.

The nightmare he’d had, the one where Wade fell again and again and again and every time Peter would just downright rip his head off when he tried to grab him - and then he woke up in a sweat. Not for long, though, because Wade had scooted closer, still half asleep, and pulled him against his chest until Peter’s heartbeat evened out again, and he drifted right back to an undisturbed dreamland.

At least, until now, he realized, when Wade’s arms tightened around him a little bit more. If he squeezed any harder, Peter was pretty sure it’d be uncomfortable. “No,” he heard him mumble against the back of his neck. “Fuck off.”

Peter frowned a bit. Whatever was going on in his head, that wasn’t a kind ‘fuck off’, even if it had been slurred with sleep. He gently put his own arm over Wade’s, and stroked his hand. “You’re okay, it’s okay.”

But his grip tightened. “No, no, no. He’d die. He’d die!”

Now it was genuinely getting uncomfortable - to the point where Peter had to use his Spidey strength to get Wade’s arms open and shake him awake. When he sat up with a jolt, he almost looked a bit feral.

“You got stabbed,” he blurted out, wide-eyed, almost a bit unbelieving. “You were stabbed and dying and -”

“I’m fine,” Peter interrupted, as he turned around to lie down with his face towards Wade. “Just a nightmare, we’re both fine.”

But Wade kept sitting up, as he rubbed over his head (and appeared for a microsecond to be surprised about the lack of hair there), then dug the heels of his hands in his eyes, then let out a long breath. “But this one felt really real, Pete, I swear to you. I could just smell the blood, and -”

Peter grabbed his hand, and he immediately shut up, looking at him with the same wide eyes as before.

“You’re in my bed,” he stated.

Uh. “Yeah, I am,” Peter replied, because granted, he was. “Sorry, that was on me, I kind of insisted on sticking around. Sorry.”

Wade let out a shocked, disbelieving laugh. “No, no, I just thought I’d made that up, my bad. Sometimes when I wake up it’s a dream within a dream within a dream, you know, and you’ve never been real before.”

Oh. Peter honestly didn’t really know what to say to that, other than “so I’m usually in your bed when you wake up?”

Which was maybe not the best thing to say to someone who had just woken up from a bad nightmare, because maybe he needed some more comforting and space to himself before some asshole in his bed started asking questions about his psyche. But Wade just shrugged. “Or sitting next to the window, or lounging in the living room. But almost a year ago, when things were… not that good, yeah, you were usually around somewhere when I woke up. Not as much now, though. You’re the first one in months.”

Peter had no idea how to feel about that either, but at least he could be pleased to hear that those hallucinations had gotten less since then.

He knew that it was none of his business, but he was pleased to hear that Wade was making progress.

“So, wanna talk about your dream?” he offered gently, but Wade harshly shook his head and dropped back down onto the mattress, staring up at the ceiling.

“Nope, definitely not. Did you sleep well?”

Peter felt his cheeks heat up slightly, because while he usually wouldn’t call waking up overheated and to the torture of the sun coming up too soon really a great night, but he felt better rested than ever. And just because he knew why that was, didn’t mean he was really ready to say it out loud. “Not too bad, aside from that one nightmare.”

Wade offered him one of those rare smiles that were so gentle and sweet that they almost looked a bit self-conscious. “No problem.”

“So how was your night?”

Wade shrugged nonchalantly, but there was still that lingering of a smile on his face. “Not too bad, aside from that one nightmare,” he repeated. “Not gonna lie here, Webs, you got me into some hardcore cuddling.”

Peter’s cheeks colored a bit more at his choice of words, or maybe the fact that he was right. “I mean, people do that when they’re asleep, right? It’s not like we can help it, if we’re asleep.”

“No, totally.” Wade suddenly looked so serious that it couldn’t be serious. “We’re sleeping, we don’t know what we’re doing. It’s just instinct, you know?”

That sounded safe enough. “Yeah, just instinct. Because I almost lost you. And stuff.” Not because had some pretty cuddle-related feelings towards him, no. Of course not.

Except he really did, and there wasn’t really any way to deny it anymore. Peter refused to lie to himself purely because the truth was inconvenient. He had Feelings™ for Wade and he was just going to have to deal with them; almost losing him had hit him hard enough to realize that, for sure.

Not that Wade was really aware of any of that. He seemed more caught up in the ‘almost lost you’ part of what Peter had said, because suddenly the teasing melted away from his face and he sat up, just so he could pull Peter against his chest again and tuck his head right under his chin. “Hey, ease up, bud. I’m stuck to you like chewing gum to the bottom of your good kicks, I’m not going anywhere.”

That sounded way better than Wade had probably intended, but Peter didn’t mind. He just relaxed his head against Wade’s chest, and allowed himself to be lulled back into that ‘just woke up’ limbo state he liked so much by the sound of his heartbeat. “Sounds like a vow.”

Wade played a bit with his hair. “Could be.”

Peter’s eyes slipped shut, and his reply just… well, slipped out. “Do you miss Vanessa?”

Wade immediately went rigid.

Oh, fuck.

“Sorry,” Peter immediately apologized, as he sat up to look at Wade’s suddenly frowning face. “Sensitive topic, I know, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Wade didn’t relax, but he did pull Peter back against him. Only when Peter forced himself to relax his muscles again, did Wade do the same.

“It’s not that sensitive,” he said, and Peter just knew that was bullshit, but he wasn’t going to call him out. “She was just… Kind of in the nightmare, too? Let’s talk about her, definitely, because you’re a talker and it’s healthy and things and whatnot, just... not now.”

Oh.

“Okay.”

Wade wanted to talk to him about his dead wife. Definitely. Just not now. That was… something. It wasn’t as if Vanessa had never come up in conversation before; Wade talked about her a lot, actually, but always in the form of anecdotes, always something fleeting and unimportant, like how she once pickpocketed some dude on the subway, but it turned out that he was a pickpocket too, so he just stole it right back before she could get off. That kind of stuff.

Vanessa was always in airy stories, and always alone in those stories. Wade never talked about them, together, and it was jarring and comforting at the same time.

But hey, if he was going to compete with a ghost, Peter was glad that Wade was at least willing to introduce him to said ghost.

But not now, Wade had said, so now there was this empty silence where a distraction should’ve been, and with the seconds that ticked away, it just seemed to get emptier. Peter really had to say something. Different topic. Just. The first thing that came to mind.

“So guess what I found out last weekend,” he broke the silence, and suddenly his voice sounded too loud.

Wade latched onto it immediately, though. “Ooh! What?”

“I’m gay.” It was out before Peter could tell his brain to maybe, just for a second, chill. “So there’s that.”

There was that. In Wade’s bed. Whilst tangled up with him, wearing his clothes, and listening to his heartbeat under his ear. He could actually feel the texture of Wade’s scars against his legs from where their sweatpants had ridden up. It tickled against his leg hair. He liked it.

Maybe he should’ve timed this at a less… intimate moment.

Too late now though, because Wade instantly sat up, forcing Peter to sit up as well. Got him worried for a moment, but when he looked up, Wade’s face was almost ecstatic. “Wait, really?”

He looked so happy, and Peter’s heart and brain were working overtime to figure out why exactly, without luring himself into a false sense of hope. “I mean, I guess? I don’t know if you should get a confirmation email or something, but I’m… seventy percent sure?”

Wade’s grin was unwavering, though. “Good enough! We need to get cake and champagne, baby, this is big!”

The pet name definitely Did Not Go Unnoticed, but Peter also let didn’t allow himself to linger on that for long. “Wait, seriously? Cake, just because I like guys?”

Wade pulled him into a crushing hug. “You know it! I mean, it’s 2022, we’re allowed to do that now.”

“Most people don’t actually care enough these days to throw a party, Wade.” Not that he really minded, but what on earth would be the point?

Wade shrugged. “What’s the point of Christmas when most of us ain’t Christian? It’s just a nice excuse to overeat and drink alcohol, Petey.”

Peter couldn’t really help the smile that came up, even though he really tried to turn it into a pout. “I feel so used.”

Wade smiled back just as hard. “You are! Of course I’m going to use your struggle for my profit - welcome to ‘murica, baby!”

“Gots to capitalize,” Peter jokingly agreed. Wade just ruffled his hair, but said nothing, so he went on: “So you’re cool with it?”

“Of course I’m cool with it. What, I’m going to make out with you in the bathroom of a gay bar, but I hate gays? That’d be a whole new level of sad, even for me.”

Wade nuzzled the tip of his nose against the side of Peter’s neck, and Peter just hoped that the full body shiver it gave him wasn’t as noticeable as it felt. “Oh. That’s good. That’s… thanks.”

“No problem,” Wade told the spot behind Peter’s ear, before he pulled back just enough to look him in the eye. The Very Happy Look hadn’t faded. “Just a little in between-o, by the way, because I don’t really know if it’s related, but I figured it might be, and basically, what really happened last week, when you ran off? When you had your stomach bug?”

Peter’s eyes widened, and his heart skipped a beat - then started beating like a maniac.

He felt kind of caught.

“Uh,” he said. “I - it’s uh, look, please don’t think that I was running from you? It was just… I don’t know, it was a long week, and I honestly wasn’t going to hang out that long anyway, because I was sleep deprived and all, and -”

Somewhere halfway through, Wade’s face had started falling. Not openly, mind you; the corners of his mouth were still pulled up in a Very Happy Look, but his eyes were not as enthusiastic, now. A bit dull. A bit sad.

Oh.

Oh.

“You’re asking if your comment freaked me out,” he concluded. Because, yeah, maybe he was a virgin in his twenties, and maybe he didn’t have mountains of experience with flirting, but he knew how humans worked, and he knew how Wade worked.

Wade wasn’t calling him out on his bluff. Wade was checking if he’d crossed a border, so he wouldn’t cross it again.

“It did,” Wade answered for him. “Fuck. I’m sorry.”

“You said that already,” Peter reminded him, but when Wade’s face crumpled up even more, ever so slightly, Peter knew that that had also been the wrong thing to say. Now he just sounded secretly angry, when he really wasn’t.

He wasn’t going to give Wade another chance to spiral down again, though, because he had Learned and Adapted and he knew how to Distract. So he did. He grabbed his hand, and he did.

And it worked. Wade stared at him like he’d just grown another head. “Did… did you just lick my hand?”

Peter looked at the licked hand he was holding. “Did it work?”

The look on Wade’s face was immeasurable. “Did what work?”

So it did! That was good. “I don’t mind that you flirted with me,” Peter simply said, before he really realized what he was saying in the first place. “I mean, flirted at me. Said what you said. Something like that. It was a good pun. We’re fine. We’re cool.”

But Wade barely seemed to be listening. “You don’t even know where that hand’s been.”

Peter had an idea. “Did you even hear what I said?”

“And now I got your spit on it.” Wade pulled his hand loose, but instead of wiping it on the covers as Peter expected, he just. Slowly, slowly dragged it down Peter’s face, wiping it on his cheek.

Uh.

“Wade?” Peter gently tapped his arm. “You okay? Should I… not lick your hand, in the future?”

Wade still had his hand on Peter’s face, looking absolutely out of it, and finally blinked out of it. “What? I mean, why would you?”

“To distract you.” Obviously. He was starting to feel a little bit bad about it now, though, because he had just meant to snap Wade out of it, not to make him super uncomfortable. “You were freaking out about something you didn’t need to freak out about, and I needed to do something.”

Wade raised his eyebrows. “And your first thought was hand licking.”

Peter shrugged and avoided eye contact. “Guess so.”

In turn, Wade just stared, and kept staring, until there was finally a broad grin spreading on his face. “You’re so weird.”

A tentative smile appeared on Peter’s face too. “Psh, says you.”

“I am not weird, my good sir, you take that back. My good looks are just confusing to you.”

Peter shrugged. “Fine, your weirdly good looks are confusing so me.”

And that seemed to shut Wade up real fast. He honest to God blinked a couple of times. “Pardon me?”

Oh.

Yeah.

Right.

“I meant that in the insulting way,” Peter clarified. “Like, it’s weird. Your looks are so good, they’re weird.”

Wade blinked some more, then tilted his head, then pursed his lips in what desperately seemed to be a Not Smile. “That’s… still a compliment, right there, Petey.”

Peter frowned. “No, it’s not, I’m calling you weird.”

The Not Smile grew wider. “No, you’re saying that my looks are weirdly good.”

“Same thing,” Peter protested, because gosh, he was in Wade’s bed, in Wade’s clothes, next to Wade’s Wade, and it was almost as if he was getting himself caught in a compromising situation with his crush. Darn. “It’s the same.”

Wade looked about 0.2 seconds away from bursting out laughing. “No, you totally just said that you think I look good and that you feel weird about it!”

Well.

That was just. Accurate.

God damnit.

When he didn’t say anything in his defense, though, Wade’s expression went from overtly amused to kind of confused, to mildly intrigued, to completely disbelieving. “Wait,” he said slowly, “did you mean that?”

There was something in his gaze that completely stilled the world around them, for just a moment, because Wade wasn’t just looking at him. He was openly staring, almost like a deer trapped in headlights, and the whole atmosphere shifted from teasing to charged. Like he couldn’t believe it. Like Peter’s answer to that was important, somehow.

Peter honestly felt his stomach flip three times in one second. Just at the idea that his answer could be important, somehow.

“Yeah,” he finally said, because he was a lot of things, but he refused to be a coward. Even if he didn’t have the balls to look away from Wade’s eyes. “I mean, uh. It’s. It’s just kind of an observation, and it’s not that big a deal, and it’s honestly just a casual -”

“Peter,” Wade interrupted, “just let me have this. Let my ego have this.”

So Peter shut up, and just swallowed. “Okay. Yeah. You have some, uh. Some good looks.”

Another few seconds passed, and Wade suddenly seemed to get a little closer. His eyes weren’t locked on Peter’s anymore, instead his gaze flicked down to his lips, chewing his own bottom lip between his teeth, barely breathing.

Peter was the one doing that, by the way, the barely breathing thing. His heart was also beating rapidly and Wade had such amazing eyes and God this was going to happen and he was so ready for this but also so not ready for this and this meant that he was right and Wade did like him and okay, wow, this was going so much quicker and so much better than he could’ve asked for -

Right up until Wade suddenly perked up, with a smile that seemed a little unsettling on his face, and hopped outta bed. “No better way to start the morning! Spidey thinks I’m a hot piece of ass!”

Wade was out of bed, away from Peter’s face, and it felt like the roller coaster in Peter’s stomach was grinding to a halt. A cold, dreaded halt. “Where’re you going?”

Wade, in turn, looked completely nonplussed. “To take a piss? I figured you’d appreciate it if I did that in the toilet, like a big boy, since you’re still in the bed.”

Oh.

Way to go for reading into things, Parker.

“Right,” Peter replied, with the best smile he could manage. “Don’t wanna wet that bed.”

Wade snapped his fingers into finger guns and sauntered off into the bathroom. “You got it.”

It was only when Wade had closed the door to the bathroom, that Peter grabbed his head pillow (which also smelled like Wade and made his heart do another little skip) to smother his frustrated scream with.

God, he wanted to kiss him so bad, it almost hurt. He was right there, in Wade’s own damn bed, wearing his clothes, being so close that he could still picture vividly how it felt to have him pressed against his back, and he was still out of reach.

Peter was pretty sure that this was going to be the way Spider-Man got defeated. An unhealthy amount of pining after a man who just woke up from a nightmare involving his murdered wife.

That wasn’t good. He needed to go.

And so, before Wade could even finish peeing, he did.

-----

In hindsight, that was a pretty bad idea, seeing how he had completely forgotten to take his backpack with him the day before (because of the emotional distress of killing the man he was in love with - which was something that now really started to dawn on him properly), and all he’d brought was his Spidey suit and the clothes that Wade had given to him were just sleep things, and they were too big, anyway. His sweatpants kept dropping from his hips as he walked to the subway station. It was kind of sad.

He didn’t have much luck with finding his backpack either (not that he’d set out any good hopes for that), but thankfully, over the years, he’d learned to only put his clothes in there, and nothing else, ever. He didn’t even wear brand shoes, because they’d just get stolen, too. All thrift shop stuff. He could miss thrift shop stuff.

He missed Wade, too. Already. It was so dumb, and so teenage-esque, and so strange to be so completely enchanted by someone the way he was, but no matter how he tried to reason himself out of it, the feeling kind of stuck around. There was honestly no other place where he wanted to be than back in that bed, with Wade snoring against the back of his neck, like a happy kitten.

He wanted to be a happy kitten.

He wanted the both of them to be happy kittens, together. Just that. Just one more time. Just once.

When he took his phone out of his pocket to put some music on and get him out of that state of mind, he saw that there were seven missed calls from Wade, and his stomach dropped a little. Fuck. He did it again. He’d done it again; now Wade was freaking out because he thought he’d said something wrong, and Peter was going to feel guilty again, and what if this ended with another week of not seeing each other and Wade dying? What if the whole thing was going to happen all over again?

Peter couldn’t handle that. He called back.

“Peter!” Wade picked up after just one ring, and he sounded stressed. “You okay? Where are you?”

“I’m okay,” Peter replied, because that seemed to be the most important. “I just… I thought it would be time to go?”

It remained quiet on the other side of the line for a moment, before Wade let out a small ‘oh’.

It was a crushing ‘oh’. A deafening ‘oh’. Like Peter had honest to God stepped on the kitten.

“To get cake,” he quickly added. “And champagne. Because we’re having a coming out party, right?”

There was another pause. “Calling bullshit,” Wade finally said.

Well. At least he’d tried. “Okay, I kind of freaked out a little,” Peter admitted.

“But why?”

“Because…” Peter sputtered a little into his phone. Some other people that were standing outside the entrance to the subway looked in his direction, but he didn’t care. “I don’t know? I don’t know, I really don’t.”

Wade snorted on the other side of the line. “Okay, is it alright if I guess?”

That would definitely be safer, because he doubted Wade was going to guess his exact train of thought that easily. “Yeah, sure.”

“You freaked out because you think I’m handsome, even though you rationally know that you shouldn’t, and you didn’t want things to become awkward because of that. Am I right?”

No, I freaked out because I’m in love with some guy that lost his wife and half heartedly flirts with me a little, but would never actually act on it, and it’s wearing me out. “You could say that, yeah.”

There was some more silence on the other side of the line, before Peter heard a slight laugh. “Do you know who helped me have my big gay revelation?”

Peter’s heartbeat sped up a little. So at least there was confirmation right there that Wade, at some point, had had a Big Gay Revelation. “Who?”

“Anthony Hopkins.” Wade let out a wistful sigh. “I watched Silence of the Lambs once when I was twelve and was so terrified I straight up got hard. Very confusing, I’ll tell you that.”

Oh. Wow. “Half of the stuff you say really worries me,” Peter blurted.

There was another laugh at the other end of the line. “It’s all fine. What I mean to say is, just because that old motherfucker made me realize stuff, didn’t mean I had to do anything about it or even like him. I mean, he was almost sixty, back then. And I’m an ugly piece of shit with mental health issues, so -”

“But I do like you,” Peter interrupted, because his chest was getting tight and is throat was closing up a bit at the amount of completely careless self hate speech Wade was spewing, “so don’t say that.”

“But not like that, so it doesn’t matter, Petey. I’m just saying -”

But Peter didn’t care what he was saying. “What if I do like you like that, Wade?” he asked harshly. “What then?”

A few moments of silence. Several passersby gave him strange looks. Peter didn’t give a shit about their looks.

“Wait… do you?”

Peter shrugged, knowing that Wade wouldn’t be able to see it. “I don’t know, I said, what if?”

“Uhuh.” There was something off about Wade’s voice. “But do you?”

“That’s not what I -”

“But do you?”

Peter kept his mouth shut for all of seven seconds, staring at the passersby and breathing in the urine tainted air of New York City.

“Maybe,” he finally replied. Then, after a beat of silence: “I think so.”

“Holy fuck.” Wade was practically whispering now. “What the hell.”

“I mean, I’m sure it’ll blow over?” God, he hoped so. He had to hope so, because he could tell from Wade’s reaction that this was 1) unexpected, and 2) probably not what he wanted to hear, at all, and oh God, this was a mistake, he needed to do something, or he actually really needed to undo something, and -

“No. I mean, Jesus, no, I don’t mean it like that, you just caught me off guard.” He made a weird, wheezy noise. “Goddamn fool could have anyone and this is what he goes for?” he muttered absentmindedly.

“Goddamn fool happens to think that this is a pretty good deal,” Peter snapped back, and he was so getting sick of hearing this stuff. “Because you make me laugh, and you’re caring, and handsome, and -”

“You’re so lame,” Wade said, and Peter’s chest tightened, because his voice actually sounded a little strained, a little rough. “You’re sounding so gay right now.”

A tiny, dumb, hopeful smile appeared on Peter’s face. “I’m being so gay right now.”

Wade laughed. It also sounded strained. A few moments came and went, before a quiet: “Can you come back?”

Peter’s breathing felt a little short. “You want to - for what - I don’t -”

“Me neither,” Wade interrupted, and the little ‘hehehh’ that followed sounded more nervous than Peter had ever heard from him before. “So let’s not think about it and just come back?”

And for once in his life, not thinking about it sounded like a very, very good plan. “I’ll be back in ten.”

Wade made a squealy noise, cleared his throat, said ‘cool’ and hung up.

-----

Peter ran back. He ran as quickly as he could while holding up his sweatpants, which was admittedly fast, but also made him look like an idiot that people (probably rightfully) kept frowning at. A couple of guys even yelled some things after him; he didn’t slow down enough to actually hear them.

The secret was out, and it felt so intense that he was a little light-headed. A little floaty, even, because they were not thinking about it, and he was just coming back, and whatever this was, it was something.

This was going to be something. It was becoming something.

Peter only tripped once on the entire way there, which he found pretty impressive given the whole clothing situation, and was practically bouncing by the time he opened Wade’s door.

In hindsight, he really should’ve seen it coming. Wade always looked his door. Sometimes triple locked it.

But not now. The door was open, and Wade was sitting cross legged in the middle of the living room, hands bound behind his back, and a sheepish smile on his face, with a whole bunch of men in suits around him.

“Hi,” he said. “Look who just popped by, right when I hung up?”

“Hi,” said Tony Stark, who stood next to him. Two of the thirteen armed men in the living room also waved at Peter; the rest kept their guns pointed at Peter in silence. “Glad you could join us.”

Peter blinked once, twice, but the image in front of him did not change. A horrible, cold feeling settled in his stomach. “What the fuck?”

Stark sat down on one of the kitchen chairs, frowning when it creaked a little. “Are those his clothes?”

Fifteen armed men, and Wade seemed to be bound with some sort of extra thick, metal handcuffs. Probably strong enough to keep Wade contained, but if Peter could find a way to get to him without getting shot from fifteen directions, maybe he could kick it open -

“I thought we had a deal, Pete,” Stark said, but nothing about his expression looked that disappointed. “I give you your suit back, and what do I get?”

None of the fifteen men even seemed to blink, that was how airtight their focus was on Peter. He wanted to do something, but he couldn’t, and it was really fucking frustrating. “Why are you here?”

Stark pointed over his shoulder at Wade. “Because he’s here.”

Oh. Peter’s stomach clenched a little. “And how did you know he’d be here?”

Now, Stark pointed at something on the other side of the room; when Peter looked over, he saw his crumpled up suit in the doorway to the bedroom. “Tracker.”

Peter’s stomach plummeted. “What?!”

But Stark just took a deep breath. “Now, before you get angry -”

Peter let out a little shocked laugh. “You put a tracker in my suit? Mr. Stark, that’s just ridiculous -”

“Is it, though?” he interrupted. “Because the only reason I put it there, is because I knew it’d lead me straight to Wilson, over there.”

Peter honestly didn’t know what to say to that. He just stood there, with sagging sweatpants and a T-shirt that smelled like Wade, feeling utterly lost. “You told me not to go to him, though.”

“You’re famously bad at listening,” said another familiar voice, and when Peter looked at the corner of the room, he recognized one of the suited men with guns as Happy. “It’s like telling you not to think of pink elephants.”

“Right. Don’t think of pink elephants. What are you thinking about right now?” Stark asked, a vaguely amused smile on his face.

“You’re all a bunch of assholes and whatever you think you’re doing with Wade, he doesn’t deserve it,” Peter replied honestly.

Stark’s smile fell. “That’s just rude.” He turned to Wade. “He never used to talk like that, I’m blaming you.”

“Wearing that like a medal,” Wade replied happily, but his voice was hoarse, like someone had punched him in the throat.

Peter was going to punch some throats if they had. The moment one of those suits got distracted, the moment he saw an opening -

“Anyway, before you lose all your marbles, Pete - we’re not here to arrest him. I mean, it’s just me, just my guys.” Stark pointed at his guys. “We don’t have jurisdiction to do that. We’re not even with SHIELD right now, this is just us.”

Peter’s chest ached, and he really wanted to cry, but not in front of these guys. “So what is this?” he finally asked. “Some… some kind of punishment? Is this because of what I did?”

Stark’s face got a little dark out of sudden. “No, but we’re getting to that.” Then, he pulled a phone out of his pocket, unlocked it, swiped through a few pictures, and then showed Peter the picture. It was a rather bad quality pic, to be honest, of some guy with droopy, purple skin (literally, it seemed to drip off). “Do you know who that is?”

“No idea.”

“That’s the dude who sold that dude -” Stark pointed over his shoulder to Wade, “- the knife that you got stabbed with. Remember that?”

Peter felt himself pale a little bit. “Yeah, I remember that.”

Behind Stark, Wade suddenly looked smaller than ever. “‘m sorry.”

Stark’s eyebrows shot up, before Peter could brush it off. “Wait, he’s just apologizing for that now?”

“No,” Peter replied immediately. “He’s done that before. It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine,” Wade protested, and Peter gave him his best ‘shut up’ frown, but he just kept going. “It’s really, really not fine. It’s really rude, actually, to stab people, and normally I don’t really give a shit, but this just keeps sticking around and -”

“That’s what you dreamt about,” Peter suddenly concluded. “Wow, that’s still bothering you?”

Wade didn’t look up and didn’t say anything.

That was a yes.

The guns that were pointed at Peter didn’t let up as Peter straight up ignored them and walked towards Wade, but nobody cocked them, either. He hadn’t even thought about them, but now he was pretty sure they were only there as an intimidation, not as an actual threat.

At least that meant that Mr. Stark still wasn’t going to have him shot. Their relationship hadn’t deteriorated to that point yet, that was good.

He all thought about that later, though, because first, he knelt down next to Wade and gently ran a hand over his scalp. “We’re good, you know. We’re fine.”

Wade still didn’t look up, but his shoulders seemed to relax a little. After a moment or so, he even leaned his head against Peter’s stomach. His heart skipped a beat.

“I’m not some traumatized puppy, Petey,” Wade protested lightly, but he didn’t pull his head back. When Peter leaned over him and snuck a quick kiss against the top of his head, he was pretty sure he felt him shiver.

Mr. Stark cleared his throat. “So you two are... close.”

Peter both felt caught and completely unashamed. “Why is he cuffed?”

“Because he beat me to pulp last time we met,” was Mr. Stark’s simple answer. “So. Just a precaution.”

Peter suddenly felt a whole lot smaller, and he had to consciously remind himself that curling up next to Wade and trying to hide behind the mass of him wasn’t going to work, and wouldn’t really help the situation either. “He wouldn’t now, though.”

Mr. Stark shrugged. “We did just storm into his home out of nowhere, so I think it was fair to assume he wouldn’t be pleased.”

“Nobody would be pleased if sixteen men burst into their living space. With guns.” Peter gave a pointed look at some of the men in suits, then directly at Happy. “Can you lower those, please?”

“He’s killed God knows how many people,” was Happy’s immediate reply. “So, no.”

Wade lifted his head up again, only to glare at Stark a little. “And if I promise not to touch your bodyguards?”

“Wait, those are all bodyguards?” Peter almost choked on his own spit. “Fifteen? Really?”

Mr. Stark shrugged. “Well, your little stunt back then really pointed out how weak my security system was.”

Something shameful and dark rolled around in Peter’s stomach, and he shrunk into himself a little. “I’m sorry.”

“We’ve been over that before,” Mr. Stark waved it off. “And I really, really wanna move on from that.”

Peter narrowed his eyes. “But you said you were getting to the punishment part.”

“I don’t know!” Mr. Stark actually got up from his chair, now, and started pacing around. “I mean, I came in here with this plan of getting Wilson to schedule this meeting with the weapons guy, and intentionally leave you out of it to teach you a lesson or sorts, because I feel like we need something to set it straight, but I think this is kind of getting dragged out, here, isn't it? You do know how bad that was, right?”

Peter knew how bad that was, so he nodded. “Yeah, that was a grade A asshole move.”

“It was,” Stark agreed, “And I'm glad you see that too. But when I was eighteen, I pulled pretty horrible stunts all by myself too, and not even for the greater good, or anything. Took me a while to remember that, but I had some reminding.”

“Reminding?” Peter looked over at Happy. “Was that you?”

Happy just gave him a look. “No, I still think you’re a little shit.”

“Cap kept asking you where you were in this cursed weapon mission and he wasn’t pleased with the answers I gave him. And he’s stubborn, I’m telling you.” Mr. Stark ran a hand over his face. “Anyway, let’s just agree that it was bad, seriously bad, but at least you weren’t trying to screw me over, and that’s more than I could say about myself and my pops.”

Peter’s mouth ran a little dry. Mr. Stark was calling him his son.

Mr. Stark was calling him his son. Maybe it was hidden, maybe it wasn’t really explicit, but it was in there, somewhere. And Peter had no idea that it would feel like such a big relief to hear.

“So we’re good?” he asked quietly.

Mr. Stark paused for a moment, then nodded. “Guess we all make mistakes when we’re young and dumb.” Then he straightened his back. “Plus, I feel like Butterface here isn’t going to be as keen to help us if you don’t tag along.”

Peter looked over at Wade to see his reaction, but there was none. Not that there needed to be. “Don’t call him that,” he immediately said. “And what exactly is the plan we’re tagging along to?”

So Mr. Stark explained the whole thing. It basically turned out to be a longer running mission that Mr. Stark had been running alongside Cap, Barnes, and Romanoff, concerning this alien guy whose name was completely unpronounceable, so Mr. Stark had called him Bob. Bob was some sort of intergalactic thief that showed up on planets with Extra Cool merch, that supposedly could kill “even the strongest of mutants”, and he needed to be stopped, because Earth didn’t need weapons that were that strong, the UN decided. So the Avengers were assigned to the case, except that most of them were God knows where, so Mr. Stark, Cap, Barnes and Romanoff were kind of working it by themselves.

“And then we heard that Wilson had been meeting up with this guy for years now,” Mr. Stark went on, “so of course we went to find him. He was supposedly in New York, but we had no clue where, so eventually, I figured, with your track record…”

“You thought I could find him,” Peter realized. “So you gave me back the suit and put a tracker on it to get to Wade, to get to Bob.”

Mr. Stark clicked his tongue, turned his chair around, and leaned his arms on the backrest. “So here we are, and since Wilson here has got a pretty good track record with this guy, we figured he could kind of hit him up for us, you know?”

But something didn’t add up here. Peter turned to Wade. “Why were you meeting up with him in the first place?”

Wade shrugged. “Wanted to see what he got. After you almost died, though, I decided that those weapons were a little too much for me and basically any other clients he could have, so the babies and I kept buying his shit and destroying it.”

Oh. “But if you don’t like him either, why did you hide when Cap was looking for you?” He turned to Mr. Stark. “I assume that’s why Cap was looking for him, in February?”

“I beat up his buddy, Petey-Pie,” Wade explained calmly. “You always hide when strong ass people come to avenge their buddies.”

Okay. Okay. “So, if I’m not mistaken, we’re going to meet Bob, get Bob detained, and then everything is fine? Then it’s all good?”

The room fell quiet for an eerily long time.

“Then it’s all good, right?” Peter pushed on.

“We don’t actually have any leverage to hand Wilson in after all this except the assault from years ago,” Happy admitted from the corner of the room. “All we have is gossip about the many, many people that are dead because of him.”

Wade cleared his throat and straightened his back a little. “I’m a deathotarian, actually.”

“Sure,” said Mr. Stark.

“No, he is,” Peter said. “I swear now, and okay, maybe that’s his fault, but we’re friends, and I taught him how to detain criminals without death.”

“Now I just tie them to street lights and do the occasional beatin’.” Wade actually smiled. “Good, huh?”

Mr. Stark looked from Peter to Wade, then back to Peter. “You’re really vouching for him?”

“I really am,” Peter replied immediately. “He’s okay.”

Another silence. Then, Mr. Stark pursed his lips. “Okay, fuck it, fine. Yeah, after this, we’re all good.”

Peter’s face lit up. “Great! Let’s get Wade out of these cuffs and kick some ass!”

Mr. Stark clicked on something on his phone and the handcuffs opened with a hiss. “Don’t try anything funny,” he warned Wade.

“I never try to be funny,” Wade lied, to the core of his existence, as he got up. Then, after he pulled Peter up as well, he gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Thanks for having my back.”

Peter couldn’t wipe the nervous, relieved, and anxious smile off of his face. He could still feel the imprint of Wade’s lips on his cheeks, and Tony Stark had just called him his son in a very roundabout way, and he was going to have a standoff with an alien, and things were pretty swell.

A solid 9.2 on the Spider-Man Goodness Scale™, he’d say. He was sure Karen would agree.

Time to kick Bob’s ass.

Chapter Text

Mission Bob started off with Peter, Wade, Mr. Stark and Happy sharing one car, because Tony didn’t trust Wade to be in a separate car, Peter didn’t trust the two of them alone together, and Happy didn’t trust Peter.

There was a strong atmosphere of mutual respect and relaxation in that car, as you can imagine. Not.

“So how do we get in touch with this guy?” Stark finally asked, as Happy maneuvered the car through the streets. “How do you do that with aliens?”

“He’s from another world, he’s not stupid. He texts, Tin Man, it’s 2022!” Wade reached into his pocket and fished out his phone. “‘Hi, Beyoncé, how’s it hanging? Need some more stuff, when can you meet?’ Aaaand, send.”

There was a short silence, before Mr. Stark cleared his throat. “Beyoncé?”

Wade shrugged. “When he first came here, he asked the babies what they call the leader of their world, so they said ‘Beyoncé’, and he insists that we call him that now.”

Peter could just picture Yukio and Ellie looking a dripping alien creature dead in the eye and saying that. His heart warmed a little at the thought. “How long does it usually take Beyoncé to reply?”

“What, with her schedule? I’m happy if she ever retweets me at a- ow.” Wade pulled a face under his mask. “Don’t stab me with your little Spidey fingers.”

“Shouldn’t have stabbed him with your little alien knife, then,” Mr. Stark replied. “Or anything else, for that matter.”

There was a long, tense silence, after which Wade said: “I mean, I’m sure that there are some things he wouldn’t mind -”

“So how is Pepper?” interrupted Peter quickly. “You guys still doing okay?”

Wade wiggled his eyebrows at him. Mr. Stark intentionally looked straight ahead as he replied. “Yep, doing great. Pep’s great. She’s going to be very excited about this reconnection too, you know. She likes you.”

Peter smiled a little. He liked her too.

“So, any girls on your path yet, or -”

Mr. Stark abruptly cut himself off. Then, out of the deafening silence that had fallen in the car, said: “I never asked.”

“Actually -” Wade started.

“I. Never. Asked,” repeated Mr. Stark.

Then, after a silence that was somehow more stilted and awkward than the previous one, he added: “Is this some sort of Stockholm Syndrome?”

Peter instantly felt his cheeks heat up under his mask, but it wasn’t embarrassment that flooded through his veins. “What? No!”

Mr. Stark stuck his hands in the air in a fake surrender. “Alright, alright, just checking. So what is it? Experimenting? Is it older guys? Peter, is it older guys?”

Peter tried his best to make himself as small as possible against the door of the car. Wade looked like he was trying to do the same against the other door. “Mr. Stark, I -”

“There’s this guy who’s been my receptionist now for a few weeks who’s, like, twenty six? He’s nice. He always smells like vanilla, somehow, doesn’t he, Happy?”

Happy shrugged behind the steering wheel. “I think it’s some other spice, actually. No idea, though.”

“Smells nice, that’s the point. Jim the receptionist smells nice, is all I’m saying.” Mr. Stark blew on his own nails for no reason. “And, you know, he has a normal, legal job.”

“I somehow doubt that being your receptionist is a normal job,” Wade sneered, and his voice actually had something sharp to it. “Or that everything he does is strictly legal.”

Mr. Stark’s eyebrows shot up. “Okay, listen up, you fucking rotten potato -”

Wade’s phone pinged, and he cut off any other words from Mr. Stark with one finger pressed to his lips. Immediately, the car fell quiet.

“‘Hi Studmuffin, I can meet you in 45 terran minutes at the usual location’,” he read out. “Dude’s so extra.”

Mr. Stark pinched the bridge of his nose. “Studmuffin?”

“He asked me what he should call me.” Wade shrugged. “Wasn’t going to let that chance fly.”

Peter did his best to keep his face as neutral as possible and not snort a little. He failed spectacularly.

“Really?” Mr. Stark turned to him, and looked just as unimpressed with Peter as he did with Wade. “It’s not that funny.”

“It’s kinda funny,” Peter protested mildly. “I mean, come on.”

“Not even a little bit,” Mr. Stark shot back. “It’s minus three percent funny.”

“You’re minus three percent funny,” said Wade.

“Can someone tell me where the fuck we’re supposed to be going?” demanded Happy, unhappily. “And can we please put a pin in the whole bitching at each other thing until after this is solved?”

Happy looked like there was a dark cloud over his head, and for a moment Peter thought that Mr. Stark was going to join in on his grouchiness, but instead, he leant in and whispered in his ear: “He doesn’t get family bicker. Ignore him.”

Peter, who felt something warm bloom in his chest at the idea of this completely weird family, happily did.

-----

The ‘usual location’ turned out to be a parking lot behind a Costco. Peter hadn’t known what he’d expected; something darker, probably something sketchier, but no. A Costco close to the suburbs.

The plan was this; there were three cars parked on the car park that belonged to the mission, all with a clear view on the meeting point, where Wade was already standing. They would wait until Wade was given permission to look through the arsenal of weapons, before Wade would tackle and detain Bob, with Cap, Barnes and Romanoff in the car closest by to assist him with it. Then, they would put Bob in the extra protected van that Stark had designed, with otherworldly people in mind especially, before escorting that van back to the HQ.

Pretty easy plan. Peter didn’t even get nervous when Bob arrived, that’s how certain he was that it would work.

Beyoncé/Bob was a very peculiar alien.

Not only did he show up twenty minutes late, but he was a lot smaller than Peter would’ve expected. He had somehow thought that he would be the size of an adult human, if not larger, or much, much larger. But no, he was about five foot nothing, hauling a large backpack-like sack on his stomach, with several bladed weapons sticking out.

Excuse my tardiness,” he said, in a comically deep voice that got kind of distorted through the microphone Wade was wearing, and pieces of his… well, it wasn’t skin, per se, it looked more like motor oil that covered his entire chubby body, but some of that motor oil splattered everywhere as he spoke. “I did not feel like arriving on time.”

Samesies,” Wade said cheerfully. “Being on time fucking sucks, huh?

Yes,” agreed Bobyoncé, “it does suck fucks.

Wade made a suppressed snorting sound. “Sure does. So, whaddaya have for me today?”

Weapons,” was the simple answer. Bobyoncé put his backpack down, and Peter heard Cap say something over the intercom that backup was ready to go.

Then things happened really, really quickly.

Wade pounced and tackled Bobyoncé almost effortlessly, which seemed to be the end of it at first, until he tried to wrestle Bobyoncé’s arms behind his back, and the alien suddenly… grew.

Like, suddenly he was twenty foot something and was holding Wade with one hand.

“Fuck,” whispered Stark. “Okay, gogogogo!” he shouted into the intercom, but everyone was already out, running towards him as quickly as possible.

“Betrayal also sucks fucks, Studmuffin,” the alien buldered, with a voice that was deafening in volume. Cap and Barnes were already at his feet, Barnes making some attempts to shoot at his feet - but the bullets were simply absorbed by his motor oil skin. “I do not tolerate such happenings.”

Peter could hear Wade babble something through the microphone, something along the lines of “I don’t even know who those cosplayers are -” before Bobyoncé suddenly grabbed Wade with two hands, and -

Wade’s scream was so loud that Peter saw everyone with an earpiece physically flinched, as Bobyoncé effortlessly tore his whole damn leg off, and threw his leg to one side, and the rest of him to the other.

Peter’s breaths were super shallow, all out of sudden, and it took all his effort not to throw up. Last time had been so nasty, throwing up in his mask. God.

God fucking damnit, ow shit fuck ow ow ow ow!” Wade swore through the microphone, loud as hell, from the other side of the parking lot where he’d landed. “That’s my favorite leg, shitstain!

“We’ve gotta grab that leg” said a familiar voice, and it took Peter a while to register it as Ellie’s.

It took him even longer to realize that Ellie wasn’t supposed to be here.

She fit right in, though, with her yellow supersuit, and Yukio actually looked pretty fashionable as a superhero. Peter’s head was spinning. “What are you guys doing here?”

“Wade sent us an alert to get our butts over here,” Yukio said simply, as she grabbed his hand and pulled the both of them to the place where Bobyoncé had thrown Wade’s lower half. “For a good reason, apparently.”

“Our plan did not include Bob growing to the size of a house,” Peter admitted breathlessly, as he grabbed the foot of the bloodied, still clothed leg, and Yukio made a face as she grabbed the bleeding end. “Or Wade getting hurt.”

“He’ll get over it,” said Yukio simply. “Seriously, give it five minutes.”

Wade seemed to be barely conscious by the time they got his leg to his torso, aside from some muttering to himself that made absolutely no sense at all, and he was pretty sure that that was probably for the best. He couldn’t imagine this being particularly pleasant to go through. “Hey,” he said regardless. “Found your leg.”

Spidey, you’re up,” said Cap’s voice through his earpiece. “Nothing gets to him, we want to see if webbing works.

“They tore him in half,” he shouted back, and his voice sounded way too shaky, “We’re done!”

Wilson heals, be angry at the guy that hurt him.

Peter hesitated, though, as he tried to shuffle the bleeding flesh of both ends as perfectly against each other as possible. “I gotta help,” he finally told Yukio. “Can you… I know this sounds stupid, but -”

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” she reassured him. “Just go.”

Still feeling slightly sick to the stomach, Peter just went.

Bobyoncé was not interested in being detained whatsoever, that was pretty much clear. No matter what anyone tried, nothing really helped, not even the webbing; he would just kind of melt through it, and it would just piss him off more.

“You!” he shouted at Ellie, as she suddenly turned into some sort of fireball, and Peter almost fell over with how cool that was. “You and Studmuffin have committed a serious betrayal!”

“Yeah, duh!” Ellie shouted back. “Nobody wants your junk!”

Bobyoncé frowned, stepped back a little, before lifting his foot to crush Ellie under it - Peter jumped and bowled her out of the way just in time. “She means that dealing weapons is illegal!” Peter shouted up at him. “It’s nothing personal, this is just a dangerous profession!”

“Illegal but wanted,” Bobyoncé protested, as he smacked Mr. Stark out of the air when he wouldn’t stop using his laser beams directly into his eyes. “I have been told that grass is illegal, yet it is everywhere.”

Cap and Barnes exchanged a mildly confused look. Ellie snorted. Peter too.

“They mean marijuana!” he shouted up at him. “Real grass is legal, but marijuana alters your state of being and that makes it a drug, an illegal one in many states!”

Bobyoncé was quiet for a while, aside from shaking Romanoff from his foot where she’d been trying to stab him in the legs with his own cursed weapons. “Oh,” he said. “But does my weaponry alter Human’s state of being?”

“What the fuck,” said Ellie.

“I was not addressing you,” chastised Bobyoncé. Then, suddenly, he reached down, and before Peter could run or protest, he had him firmly grasped in a huge fist. “Explain to me why my weaponry is unwanted. I was under the impression that earthlings engaged in combat often.”

Bobyoncés oil skin felt strangely hot, and Peter had never been so uncomfortable in a civil conversation in his entire life. When he noticed that the other Avengers were all making furious attempts at freeing him, though, he waved his one free arm to stop their attempts, and it actually confused them enough to stop for a moment. “I think he just wants to talk, you guys!”

“Just talking is gonna get you killed!” Mr. Stark shouted. “He’s not that friendly!”

“But he’s trying!” Peter protested, before turning back to Bobyoncé and actively tried not to shit his pants, or look like he was about to do that. “We do fight a lot, as you can see. Sorry about that. I hope it doesn’t hurt.”

Bobyoncé tilted his head. “I do not feel it.”

Peter frowned under his mask. “Wait, really? You got stabbed in the foot like a gazillion times!”

“My form is not that solid on this planet,” Bobyoncé waved it off. “You did not clarify why my weaponry is unwanted.”

Because Peter was still desperately trying to find the words. “Well, those weapons you’re selling?” God, he was pretty sure that parts of Bobyoncé were soaking through his suit. He was gonna yarf. If not now, then Soon™. “They’re… uh, a little more than we can handle.”

“Which is positive,” Bobyoncé argued seriously. “It elevates the status during combat.”

“Yes,” Peter admitted. “But we don’t want people to engage in combat.”

Somewhere on the ground, he heard Ellie huff. “You’re about to get your ass handed to you, you pussy.”

But Bobyoncé handed no asses. “Is it not entertaining?”

Peter felt his stomach twist. “No, it’s not entertaining. It terrifies people, and it hurts them, and people get murdered by these things. And that’s bad.”

Bobyoncé honest to God frowned. “But they are designed to never kill, only slightly maim.”

“Ah, no.” Peter coughed a little. “It super kills most people, I guess we’re a lot weaker than where you came from.”

“Ah.” Bobyoncé nodded slowly. “A mistake. From me.”

“Yes,” Peter agreed. Big mistake. “And it does alter our state of being. Because usually that state of being is ‘dead’.”

Bobyoncé seemed to look pretty shocked, before he carefully, slowly, put Peter down again and snatched up the mostly empty backpack. “Return my weaponry!” he commanded.

“You wish, big guy,” sneered Romanoff, as she grabbed what looked like a proper sword and pierced it through his calf. Bobyoncé didn’t even flinch.

“Thank you,” he said to her, and pulled the sword from his calf with no effort at all.

These guys really weren’t getting the vibe here at all though, that was pretty much clear. “Just give him the stuff!” Peter pleaded. “He wants to take it away!”

Romanoff, stand down,” Cap ordered through the mic, and finally, everyone was just standing there. Clearly not trusting him - at all - but not attacking him either.

And Bobyoncé slowly morphed back into this five feet tall dude.

“Humans of Earth are too brittle,” he concluded, as he snatched the weapons out of Romanoff’s hands and put them back into the backpack. He retrieved the scattered ones off of the ground as well, before stopping in front of Ellie and holding his dripping hand out.

“I don’t have anything,” she said.

“Lies,” Bobyoncé protested.

Ellie stared at him for ten whole seconds before pulling a knife from her belt and stabbing it through Bobyoncé’s hand. “Dick.”

“Vagina,” was the simple reply. He pulled the knife out and put it back into the backpack. “That will be all, then?”

But Mr. Stark immediately stepped forward. “Not so fast, leaky boy. You’ve been dealing illegal weapons for literal years now, which is a huge crime, and you think you can just walk away?”

Bobyoncé paused, then shrugged. “If you detain me, I will break free and also walk away, after.”

“Like we’d let you,” challenged Mr. Stark, and Peter felt some deeply worn exhaustion somewhere deep in his chest at the challenge in his tone.

Because honestly? Wade was ripped in half for no reason, which was shaking enough as it was, but now there was also all this machoness going around against some alien dude who honestly sounded like the alien equivalent of a college dude selling Nerf guns to fifth graders, and it was just a whole bunch of bullshit to get so overly aggressive over.

Wade had already gotten hurt over it, and that was more than enough, in Peter’s book.

“Guys, can we please just let him go and call it a day?” he asked, and if he sounded a bit whiny, he didn’t care. “He didn’t know what he was doing and he’s sorry.”

Mr. Stark scoffed. “Right, and if he shows up next week again?”

“He won’t.” Peter was fairly confident of that. He looked straight at Bobyoncé and asked: “Will you promise us you won’t come back?”

Bobyoncé shrugged. “There are many other planets that have a better stab economy.”

“That’s not a yes,” Cap pointed out.

“Yes,” said Bobyoncé. “I promise I won’t come back.”

There still seemed to be a palpable tension within the group, but Peter was tired, and it had been a long day in which Wade had first died and then been seriously injured, and he just wanted things to be done and over with, so he held out his fist to Bobyoncé. “Cool. Bye.”

After a moment of hesitation, Bobyoncé tapped his knuckles with his own (which Peter just knew he had learned that from the babies and Wade, he knew it), then nodded towards Wade on the other side of the parking lot. “Apologies with regards to Studmuffin.”

Apologies didn’t really seem enough for ripping someone apart, but Peter’s shoulders felt heavy and he just wanted to cry for an hour in some private spot, probably, and then take a ten hour nap, so he waved it off. “He’ll be okay. Don’t rip any other humans apart.”

Bobyoncé nodded, then looked at Ellie. “I say hi to your queen.”

“My queen says hi back,” she responded evenly. “Bye.”

Bobyoncé looked around a bit, then flapped his hand around in the weirdest attempt at a wave possible and just straight up disappeared into thin air.

“Well,” said Mr. Stark. “Not how I saw that going.”

“You guys need to learn how to talk more,” was Peter’s simple, tired answer, as he turned around, brushed the last remains of Bobyoncé’s skin off, and dragged his ass back to Wade. He only just picked up the sharp ‘trust me, he’s good at that’ from Ellie before he got out of earshot.

Pete!” he heard Wade croak, mostly through the microphone, as he gave him a weak thumbs up from the floor. “You did awesome!

Peter pulled his mask off to give Wade the best smile he could manage with his tired head, and plopped down next to him. “Just wanted to get this over with. Are you okay?”

Tis but a scratch,” he joked, as he tried to hoist himself into a sitting position. When that didn’t work, Peter pulled him up without too much effort, and held him close.

Peter pretended not to see Yukio scoot about three feet back, out of their space.

“It’s okay to admit that it hurts, you dork,” he said, his throat closing up a little as he buried his face in Wade’s shoulder, holding Wade’s back to his chest, and letting him sit between his legs.

Wade didn’t say anything for a little while, then reached up, plucked the microphone away from the hem of his mask and crushed it between his fingers.

“It hurts like a fucking bitch,” he admitted. “I might pass out again for a bit.”

“Do what you gotta,” was all Peter said.

So Wade did, and Peter was extra careful when he laid him back down, with his head in his lap.

-----

The van that was supposed to transport Bobyoncé back to HQ, left. The rest, to Peter’s surprise, stayed.

Ellie was the first one to sit down next to them, holding Yukio’s gross, bloodied hands in her own. “You don’t have to look so sad, Spides, jeez,” she chastised him, but her tone was gentle. “He’ll be fine. There’s no getting rid of him.”

“‘Like gum to a shoe’, right.” Peter gave her a tired smile. “I’m not that sad, I’m just exhausted.”

“You did well out there,” said a deeper voice behind him, and he didn’t have to turn around to know that it was Rogers. “That was impressive.”

Peter shrugged.

The loose asphalt bits grinded a little as Cap sat down on his other side, clasping his shoulder with one hand. “Thank you, for helping around even though he got hurt. I know it goes against every instinct to leave a man behind, but -”

“But he was gonna heal anyway,” Peter filled it in. “I get it.”

“Not what I was going to say, but yes.” Cap cleared his throat. “I actually meant that clearly, we needed you more than anyone else on the team today.”

“Any of you guys could’ve just explained to him what was going on,” Peter protested mildly, as he cradled Wade’s head a little bit more, almost like clutching to a buoy. “You don’t have to get all violent right off the bat.”

“We’re all a little emotionally stunted,” said Sergeant Barnes, who sat down next to Steve, forming a half circle around Wade’s body. “You haven’t got your mask on,” he pointed out.

Oh. Right.

Well, he wasn’t that great at keeping that secret anyway.

“I’m Peter,” he introduced himself, mustering all his energy into a polite smile as he extended his hand to Barnes. “Hi.”

Barnes shook it with a smile. “Bucky. So, Stark told me you’re buddies with Wade Wilson?”

“If only,” grumbled Stark, who sat down at Wade’s feet, next to Romanoff.

“It’s complicated,” Peter brushed it off. “But he’s nice.”

“You know who’s nice?” said Stark, as he flipped his mask open. “Jim the receptionist, who smells like -”

“No, shut up,” Peter interrupted, because he was really, really tired. “You used to sell bombs.”

The circle fell quiet.

“And those bombs used to kill loads of people, and you didn’t care,” Peter pushed on. “I did this whole project on you in junior year in high school, because you were my idol, and I did research on that for a while and you didn’t care for years, Tony.”

Tony frowned. “You’re first-naming me.”

Peter ignored that. “And you told me that you used to pull shit on your dad, too, but I think the bomb thing is far deeper in a moral gray area than that. And I’m pretty sure Nat also did some shady things at some point, probably? And Cap betrayed his country, practically -” he went on, ignoring how both Rogers and Barnes went rigid at that, “- and I’m pretty sure Sergea- Bucky, I mean, killed more people than Wade ever did.”

“Peter -” Rogers started, and his voice had a very Warning Tone™ to it, but Peter didn’t care.

Peter was tired.

“And I’m not saying that to open up old wounds, I’m saying that to point out that people can do dubious things and change. They can grow. They can do all that and still be a caring person, and just for the record, he never killed anyone that hadn’t seriously hurt or killed other people, anyway.”

The circle fell quiet again.

Peter wasn’t sure if it was an angry or listening silence, but he took advantage of it anyway. “I don’t care if you don’t think that Wade is a good man, but he’s not a bad one, either. He’s been through a lot of stuff, you know, and if you just treat him nicely, trust me, you’ll see that he’s not that bad.”

No one said anything, but after about ten full seconds of frozen silence, Yukio shifted a little and put her head on Ellie’s shoulder. “Worked with this one,” she admitted.

They gave her some vague, unsure smiles. Rogers and Barnes shared a look that ended as quickly as it had started, but Peter knew they thought the same thing.

“Fine,” said Stark, eventually. “I’m fine with giving him a shot, but that doesn’t mean I like that you’re dating.”

Peter felt his face flush immediately, but before he could protest it, Yukio perked up a little with a smile. “Really?!”

“Hold on, I know your face,” said Rogers, and his voice sounded a little alarmed. “Were you - oh.”

“Was he what?” asked Barnes, before Cap gave him a certain Look, and he burst out laughing. “You were the toilet guy?!”

“The toilet guy?” asked Stark sceptically.

Oh God.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Peter immediately said. “Look, guys, I -”

“Peter and I made out in a toilet and Cap caught us,” said a familiar voice, even if it was a little rough, and when Peter immediately looked down, the lenses of Wade’s mask were squinting enough for Peter to know that he was grinning like an idiot. “Hi, baby boy. Finished my nap.”

“Clearly,” Peter deadpanned. “Nice timing.”

“Anytime.”

“You what?” Stark asked evenly. Too evenly.

“What was even the point of that?” Cap sounded a lot less even.

Wade pushed himself up successfully now, even if he hissed a little bit at the added pressure on his leg. “You’re like a million years old and you were chasing me, so I figured if there was one way to make you uncomfortable and shake you off, it would be to get a little dirty.”

Peter felt like all eyes were on him, and he just wished that Bobyoncé was here again to cover him in his sludge and help him disappear. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” he just said.

“And it was!” said Wade, a little too enthusiastically. “I mean, it worked.”

“You backed off just because they were kissing?” Barnes elbowed Rogers in the ribs. “That’s weak, Stevie.”

But Stevie (holy shit he called Captain America Stevie) just turned slightly pink and looked away. “There was talking involved.”

Wade used his good leg to scoot back and sit next to Peter, and made a happy noise in his chest. “Oh, yeah, there was.”

Peter made a face. Stark made the exact same face.

“Hey, Wilson,” he said, a little too sharply. “How old are you, anyway?”

Wade tilted his head a little. “You never ask a lady about her age, sir.”

“Good thing you’re no lady, then.”

“I could be,” he protested. “You don’t know me, Tin Man.”

“He’s thirty eight,” said Ellie, and Peter wanted to throw a pillow at her, but there were no pillows around. “But mentally, like, five, so it’s unethical and weird on both sides.”

“Thirty ei- Jesus fucking Christ.” Tony pinched the bridge of his nose with his still Iron Manned hand. “Peter, come on -”

“But we both humbly agreed not to do anything for another… four years, I think? Yeah, I believe we still have four years to go.”

Uh.

What?

“Four years?” Peter repeated lamely, because not only did that not sound like something he had enthusiastically agreed to, but he also couldn’t find a context for that at all. “What do you mean?”

Wade turned his head to him, and his voice actually became a little bit softer. “Remember when I met you in the grocery store back then, and you used that sexy Spidey strength and I told you to call me in seven years?”

Grocery -

Oh.

Yeah.

That.

It took a little while to realize what that meant. That was a rejection. He had been rejected. Or postponed, yeah, okay, but for four years? That was a rejection. Nothing was gonna happen. Cool. Okay.

He wanted to cry for ten hours and take a ten year nap, in that case.

“Nice idea, honestly, it sounds very peaceful,” said Tony, somewhere far away, but Peter was already withdrawn from the conversation. “But his clothes were on your bedroom floor, Wilson, and I swear to God, if you so much as hurt one hair on his head -”

“I won’t. And he just stayed over, nothing happened. Stop being so paranoid, Robocop.” Wade tsked. “Jeez. You have, like, zero chill.”

“Because it’s kind of hard to believe that someone like you could actually care about another person! I’ve seen the way you work, are you even capable of a little bit of empathy? Because right now, it seems like Peter is about to fall into the trap of some deranged psychopath, and -”

Then something really weird happened, because that was when Ellie grabbed another knife from her belt, held it in her fist, and attempted to slash Peter in the face with it.

Peter’s Spidey sense caused him to immediately topple backwards, of course, but it wasn’t even necessary; Wade had shoved himself in front of Peter before he could do so much as flinch, causing the knife to go right through his mask, into the eyeball, straight through the eye socket.

Wade barely managed to punch Ellie square in the face before he made a bunch of weird noises.

“That fucking knife! It tastes like asshole daisies, get it out get it out - it sucks! OW! This is an asshole knife, fucking FUCK!”

Ellie’s nose was broken and suddenly there were three guns pointed at her, but she pulled the knife out again, then dropped it and held her hands up as she faced all of them.

“See?” she said. “He cares. This asshole cares so much about Peter that he’d take a knife to the brain for him without a second thought, so there.”

Peter couldn’t see Wade’s face, but judging from the look on Tony’s, it wasn’t a pretty sight. “What the fuck.”

“Was that really necessary?” asked Cap, but Ellie just shrugged.

“It worked, didn’t it?”

“I hate you,” Wade croaked out. “Suck a dick.”

“A real one, or your cocktail sausage baby peen?” she shot back, but there was a mild smile around her lips and crooked, bleeding nose. “You didn’t have to hit me.”

“You were gonna stab - gonna stab - gonna stab - gonna.” Wade shook his head a couple of times. “I don’t know what I was saying.”

But it didn’t really matter, anyway. Peter gently ran a hand over Wade’s back until he was sure he wasn’t going to be spooked, then leaned his forehead against the back of his shoulder. “Alien has left, everyone got to give their opinion on this - can we leave, now?”

Stark cleared his throat. “Are you asking him, or asking me?”

But Peter was really, really tired. “I’m asking God, probably. We did what you asked, can we now just go home and relax?”

Stark didn’t look happy with the idea, but Yukio punched him on the Iron Man arm. “Peter is three times as strong as Wade, and he’s gotten relationship advice from three feminist lesbians. He’ll be fine.”

“Just because I don’t think he’ll get murdered doesn’t mean I have to like this,” Stark grumbled back.

“No dad likes it when their kid starts dating.” Ellie’s voice was a little softer than normal. Not gentle, just. Soft. “But that’s life, old man, get over it.”

Tony looked slightly taken aback. “Did you just call me old?”

“I’m calling you old and controlling and a bit of a bitch.”

Yukio, in the meantime, gave Peter a little chin nod and a wink, in the universal ‘get outta here’ gesture. So, wrapping an arm around Wade to support his leg, Peter got up.

“Oh, really? If anyone’s a bit of a bitch, seriously, you should take a hard, long look at yourself, and - you’re going?” Tony’s attention was immediately back on them. He did not look happy.

But he would get over it. Peter was sure of that. “Yep,” he said. “Bye, guys.”

“To be continued! We’re not -”

“Stark,” Steve Rogers interrupted, “The man took a knife in the brain for him, this is the point where you stop talking.”

It looked like Stark Seriously Did Not Want To, but this was Captain America, and Captain America was making a very good point.

So, clearly reluctantly, he stopped talking.

-----

Peter had to call them an Uber home, and had to apologize a million times for A) not having any money on him, and B) having Wade around when the leg of his suit was still kind of dancing around his thigh, clearly showing where all the blood had crusted up on his still healing leg.

Then again, the driver didn’t really mind when she saw that he was the real, actual Spider-Man.

She had the decency to stay quiet, though, so Peter had some time to just sit there, Wade leaning against his side, and let the confusing feelings eat at him so hard that he felt like it had almost consumed him whole when they got out two blocks away from Wade’s place.

“Can you walk?” was the first thing he said to him since they got into the car.

“Can try,” was Wade’s simple reply, before leaning on the leg, letting out a high pitched, girlish whine, and dramatically flopping into Peter’s arms. “My body hath betrayed me, Spidey, my soul has -”

“I’ll carry you,” Peter cut him off, and when Wade hopped into his arms bridal-style instead of getting up on his back, he didn’t protest. Didn’t even mention it.

Apparently, that was alarming to Wade. “What’s wrong?”

Peter just shrugged and carried him up the stairs of the apartment building. This was not how he’d pictured it. This was not how things were supposed to go; when he had left this apartment, he had somehow slightly convinced himself that they would just go and meet Bob, fight Bob, flirt a little in between, inevitably defeat Bob, and have this triumphant winner makeout session in front of the rest to celebrate.

Stark would magically approve of the whole thing because of their crazy good chemistry, obviously, they would get some fistbumps from Cap and Barnes and Romanoff, and then they’d go home and kiss some more. And maybe do some celebratory other stuff.

But here he was, in front of the door of a guy who just said that definitely nothing is going to happen for another four years, at least. Probably forever if he wanted to wait four years in the first place, and there were no kisses going on at all, and Wade had lost his leg and Peter just wanted to cry and this was not how a win was supposed to feel.

“Was it what Stark said?” Wade guessed, and his voice was soft, actually soft, insecure soft. “I get if you changed your mind, you know, not gonna take you hostage or anything. Ha ha.”

Peter gently put Wade down again, and took his own mask off, but he hesitated when his fingers reached up to pull Wade’s up, too. “It’s not Stark,” he admitted, before pulling his hands back. “I- this is dumb, sorry.”

Peter had never seen Wade rip his mask off so quickly. “It’s not dumb!” he said, probably loud enough for the whole hallway to hear it. “I mean, it’s. Just. Come on, spit it out.”

So Peter did, before he could stop himself. “I don’t want to wait four years.”

Wade blinked once, twice. “What?”

“What you said, about how we’re not… because in the grocery store, about calling in seven years, and… and I’m young and I know that, but jeez, Wade, I really like you, and -”

Wade kissed him.

Just like that, Wade kissed him, and it stopped Peter dead in his tracks. Not just speech wise; his whole train of thought crashed and evaporated.

To nothing.

Nothing but the warm, gloved fingers under his chin, cradling his face.

Nothing but dry lips against dry lips, with every scar ridge against his lips triggering happy little shivers to run up his spine. Nothing but the warm air tickling the hairs of his upper lip as Wade exhaled. Nothing but the sudden rapid beating of his heart.

Wade pulled back a little bit, only to kiss the corner of Peter’s mouth now, and mutter: “Yeah, that was just to get him to back off, baby boy.”

Peter’s head was spinning from one (1) chaste kiss that didn’t even involve moving lips, and he found himself mouthing at the corner of Wade’s mouth, then his jaw. Which was in no way very coordinated or even close to a plan, but Wade was here, and he was saying that he did want him and he could feel him, and he felt grea.

“So you don’t want to wait?” he asked, pressing his lips on that spot underneath his ear, practically Spidey-sticking himself against Wade’s front at this point.

Sue him if he was a little enthusiastic, but he was 21 and he had only kissed a handful of times in his life. This was intense, okay? Because Wade was here now and he wanted Wade to stay there for as long as possible.

Wade wasn’t going anywhere. “Not another goddamn second,” he said, before slamming his shoulder against the door so hard and so abruptly that it broke the lock and jumped open, almost causing Wade to fall in if Peter hadn’t caught him.

“You could’ve just gotten your key.”

But Wade just grinned at him and quickly kissed his cheek. “Not as sexy.”

Whether this was actually sexy was debatable, honestly, but Peter was focused on other things right now, like going inside as quickly as possible. He thought he was following Wade to the couch, but he skipped right by it, opting for the bedroom instead.

“Mattress is nicer,” was all the explanation he got, though he did also get a wink from an impressively quickly healed eye. “You look all flushed, Petey. You okay?”

Peter didn’t know how quickly he had to nod.

Wade flopped down on the bed and put his arms behind his head, staring over at him. “It’s hot,” he commented. “Really hot. One little kissy and you’re done, you’re a wreck, can’t legally drive anymore, too distracted by the extreme hotness of my lips.”

More heat rose to his cheeks, which was stupid, because Peter knew that that was exactly what Wade was fishing for. “Shut up.”

Wade slowly licked his lips, slowly, while looking him in the eye, and then whispered: “Make me.”

Peter’s knees felt a little bit weak.

He was on the bed in a second, previous injuries forgotten as he sat down on Wade’s thighs. Wade grinned up at him and made a move to sit up, but Peter pressed him back down with one flat hand, hard enough to make him wheeze a little.

“Jesus, fuck, you’re strong.” Wade looked at him with wide eyes and a slightly open mouth.

Despite knowing better, Peter frowned. “Did I hurt you?”

“Hurts how much of a turn on that is,” Wade shamelessly admitted. “Seriously, you have no idea how much I’ve thought about that, it’s -”

Peter kissed him, because if Wade could do that to shut him up, he could do it too.

This time was it rougher, maybe a bit clumsier, with more misaligned lips and a little bit more teeth involved than Peter had been aiming for, but when he scratched his gloved fingernails over the side of Wade’s neck, he let out a little broken noise that clouded Peter’s thoughts. Clouded them to such an extend that he didn’t even notice Wade was flipping them over until he suddenly felt a warm, solid weight pressing along his torso.

“Let me show you, okay?” he whispered, and Peter wanted that so bad that he didn’t even take offense about Wade calling him out on how bad his kissing was. “Relax, baby, I got you.”

He wiggled an arm between Peter’s back and the mattress, before pulling him upright and kissing him again, building it slowly. Starting off with nothing but little kisses against his mouth, before slowly targeting out one lip at a time to play with, suckle on, tease. Peter was trying so hard to pay attention to it all, that the hand tugging sharply but shortly at his hair caught him off guard.

“Holy shit.” The strain didn’t let up; Wade was pulling his head backwards, and he just let him, until he felt hot kisses down the length of his neck.

Oh, God, that felt really good.

Paying attention was a thing of the past. Fuck trying to learn, fuck thinking; Peter was now too busy letting out little breathy noises that he couldn’t seem to stop. They morphed into a shaky moan when Wade sucked down deliciously roughly on a spot right under his ear. His breath against the shell of his ear was honest to God enough to cause a full body shiver.

“Goddamn, Petey, wanna tape all those noises and press them on fucking vinyl,” he whispered, before Peter felt something wet against his ear that made him cry out a little, and squirm so bad that he could barely stay on Wade’s lap.

“Did you just lick my ear?” he asked, shocked beyond belief. (Hard as a rock.) “Lick my ear?”

“Yup.” Wade wasn’t even paying attention, though. He had one hand between their bodies, and suddenly, there were strong, real fingers brushing over Peter’s clothed hardon, and he jerked.

Ohfuck.”

Wade beamed at him. “There’s that happy banana!”

Peter’s cheeks were burning and Wade was running his fingernails oh so lightly over his suit, along the whole length. He was looking at him like he was going to devour him as his ticklish stretching got quicker and quicker, and there was this heated, excited pressure building in his abdomen and oh god this felt great but too great and oh god this was way too embarrassingly soon -

“I’ve never done this before,” Peter blurted, and grabbed Wade’s hand to still it with an almost anxious look. “Ever.”

Wade looked like he was just as frozen on the spot as Peter was, and it caused some anxiety to bubble up in Peter, but by far not enough to make him feel any less disproportionally turned on. “Uh,” he said.

“And not just with a guy,” Peter clarified, because he might as well, right? Get it all out. “With anyone. No one has touched me like that ever, besides me, and it feels really really good, but -” Another wave of deep embarrassment at even the thought of how things would escalate made him hide his face in Wade’s shoulder. “It’s so dumb.”

Wade, in turn, pulled his hand back super quickly, and patted Peter’s back so gently that it almost seemed scared. “Hey, hey,” he said in his awkward not quite but almost soothing tone. “It’s fine, it’s cool, I get it. We can stop if you wanna stop.”

Peter immediately sat up again. “Nononono,” he assured him. “I definitely don’t, I wanna keep going, like, so bad.” He cleared his throat and licked his lips. “But if you keep that up, I was gonna do something super humiliating and stupid like… uh. You know.”

Wade kept his mouth shut for three whole excruciating seconds, before leaning in, bringing his lips to Peter’s other ear, and getting his deep, seductive voice going. “Like coming your sweet brains out into your suit from some innocent dick tickling? Is that what you’re worried about, Petey? That you can’t even take your suit off before you lose it?”

Fuck.

Peter’s head felt like it was going to combust. Just, explode. First his dick, then his head.

Gentle fingertips returned to the bulge in his suit pants, and Peter shivered hard when Wade started tracing up and down and up and down again.

“Because you know what, Petey?” he murmured.

Then fell quiet.

“Hm?” he inquired/whined.

“This is the part where you say ‘please tell me, Wise Wade’,” Wade stage whispered, but the bumpy scars on his thumb were teasing Peter’s slit through the fabric, and he barely heard him through his own heavy breathing and blood rushing in his ears.

“Please,” was the only word in that sentence Peter could be bothered to say, but it seemed to be the best one, because Wade made a low, happy noise and scraped his teeth over the side of Peter’s neck, then licked it.

The noise Peter made kinda sounded like a sob, but one that broadcasted ‘almost coming’ instead of ‘almost crying’.

“Well…” Wade’s fingers stopped their teasing for a second, and Peter almost made another choking sound, until he felt a flat palm press just hard enough against his erection, rubbing the fabric of his suit over it in a way that was way way way way way too much, but at the same time so good.

Wade,” Peter said, and he had so hoped that it would come out low and Manly™, but it sounded more high pitched and really fucking desperate.

“See, the thing is…” Wade’s tongue flicked over the shell of Peter’s ear again, and oh god oh god oh god his hand felt really really good how did one hand feel so good - “The thought of you being so turned on by this that you can’t help but ruin that pretty suit of yours, is the single hottest thing I can think of right now.

Peter wasn’t even sure if he had made it properly to the end of that sentence when the image became too much, too vivid, too intense, and his orgasm crashed over him with a choked off cry. Immediately, he hid his absolutely flaming head in the crook of Wade’s neck as hot blurts of semen soaked through the fabric of his suit; his thighs trembling with the force and the shame of it.

It felt like a whole fucking tsunami was crashing over him and he was dying and he loved it.

Honestly, he wasn’t sure how long it took for the coming and the intense pleasure to subside to manageable levels, but by then, Wade had both his arms securely wrapped around his waist, and was kissing every inch of his face that he could manage.

It took him even longer to notice that he was saying stuff, too.

“... fucking cute, better than any porn, so turned on right now I can’t even breathe, Jesus, Petey, baby boy.”

“Hmm.” Peter felt like every muscle in his body kinda shaking under the strain. “Wade.”

Warm lips kissed his, short but definitely firm. “10/10, so hot my cock exploded.”

Peter huffed out some air in an almost laugh, and through the haze of Extreme Endorphins™, managed to properly kiss Wade back, but softer, longer. “Mine too!” he said, with a smile that just showed up outta nowhere, until Wade’s words sank in. “Wait, did you also -”

“So to speak,” Wade clarified, and kissed Peter’s face again. He looked gorgeous. God, Wade was always gorgeous, but right now? Right now Peter felt like he could just about drown in those eyes and consider it a pretty okay death, despite all his untouched life potential. “It metaphorically exploded. In spirit.”

“He’s a real ally.” Peter held it out for about two, three more seconds before he snuck a look downwards real quick, trying to get a glimpse of Wade’s ally penis, but instead he just saw an embarrassing wet patch around his super sensitive, spent dick, and didn’t see anything of Wade at all.

“Hey,” whispered Wade. “Psst. Petey.” He kissed the tip of his nose. “It’s okay. You can look. You can stare, if you want to.”

Peter knew that was bad form, but he really, really wanted to.

It was a bit awkward, sitting back just enough to get a good look with the fabric of his suit shifting against way too sensitive flesh right now, but it was worth it, because it allowed the light to fall perfectly on where Wade’s suit was pulled tightly over his thigh, trapping his erection there.

Oh,” Peter heard himself say.

Wade quirked an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“You really did enjoy it,” Peter realised, and he hadn’t thought that Wade had been exaggerating or lying, but it still felt different now that he saw the proof. Wade was turned on by him. By him.

Peter’s dick gave a little twitch like it wanted to show its appreciation for that, but even for a not-quite-virgin-anymore mutant, it was too soon. But in spirit? Yep. It was there to cheer this on.

Wade inhaled sharply when Peter reached a hand down to feel, and he almost did the same, because hot damn, Wade was hard, and hot. Like, temperature-wise, practically boiling in there. Which was definitely sexy in a weird way, Peter decided, but he couldn’t imagine that was comfortable.

“Wanna take your suit off?” he suggested, hand still on dick, unmoving. Wade nodded immediately.

His hands went over to the button in the middle of Peter’s chest first, though. “Wanna take yours off too? Before you get all, uh. Stuck?”

Peter tried not to picture that, just allowed Wade to press his suit loose and wiggled out of it. He managed not to look at the mess at the crotch even once; he counted it as a victory.

Wade’s whole outfit was a little bit more difficult to get off, because it turned out there were way more zips and clasps involved than any sensible person needed (“it’s fashionable!” “it’s really extra”), but after a few minutes, there were no more clothes.

“We’re naked,” Wade pointed out.

Peter was staring at naked Wade, because he was allowed to now, and nodded. “Very.”

And very handsome with that. Sure, yeah, it was pretty obvious that Wade was fit when he was wearing clothes, but that had nothing on the muscle definition he had when he was naked. It was pretty amazing - and honestly, it wasn’t the first time Peter had ever seen an erection that wasn’t his own (he had watched enough porn to know what the average porn dick looked like), but this still very much felt like a new, first experience.

Because Wade’s cock was gorgeous. It didn’t have that slight curve that his own did, but it was thicker and seemed longer with its straightness, or maybe the way it laid flat on Wade’s stomach, reaching pretty far up his abdomen. Peter loved naked Wade.

“I know it’s not exactly underwear model level pretty, or anything -” Wade started, and Peter grabbed his hand and licked it, nipping that train of thought right in the bud.

“I think you look great,” he assured him, and the look on Wade’s face was some mixture between incredibly turned on and in awe, kind of. And then confusion, when Peter licked his hand again. And again.

“Uh.” He cleared his throat. “I’m distracted, you did your job.”

But Peter had about a million butterflies in his stomach at this point, because the hand licking had inspired him, and he was taking charge, and it felt really good. “Can you show me how you like it?”

“What, my hand licking preferences?” Wade teased, until Peter put his hand on his erection and sat back on his knees, looking intently. “Oh.” It seemed to dawn on him. “Like that.”

Peter’s stomach flipped when Wade actually did start stroking himself, taking deep, intentionally steady breaths as he started out. He had expected him to close his eyes at some point; instead, Wade kept his gaze so firmly locked on Peter that he barely dared to look down to actually see what he was doing with his hands.

“Taking notes?” he asked, and it would’ve been teasing if his voice hadn’t been breathy. “You can touch, if you wanna. Or talk. Either thing will probably do the trick.”

Except that Peter had never done any of this before, and he was pretty sure that if he opened his mouth right now, something dumb would come out, or intending to be sexy but turning out to be even dumber. So instead, he shifted a little until he was sitting on his knees between Wade’s legs, and reached out to feel up the inside of his thigh, mapping out the muscle.

“I touch, you talk,” he decided.

Wade smiled. “I can work with that. Wanna hear what I usually think about when I do this?”

Peter licked his lips, noticed his throat was suddenly very dry, and finally nodded when it became clear that Wade actually wanted him to answer.

“Used to be all sorts of things,” Wade admitted, and Peter subconsciously dug his thumbs into the muscles of his thighs, just a bit. Wade’s legs tensed, but his smile stuck around. “But for the past few months? Just you. In all sorts of scenarios.”

Peter knew that, somewhere deep down (and it was very much reciprocated), but hearing it out loud was still thrilling. His hands went further up, until he could trace the V of Wade’s abdomen with his forefingers, causing him to shiver and his cock to twitch a bit. “Like what?”

“Hmm.” Wade rubbed a little droplet of precum over the slit of his cock, and his breath hitched. “Do you remember that first time we kissed at the bar?”

Peter’s tongue darted out real quick to wet his lips. “Yeah.”

Wade grinned. “I think about that a lot. Jesus, all I asked you to do was fake it, but you got so into it, and the noises you made…” Wade pumped a few times in a faster, stronger rhythm. “Fuck, if you’d been up for it, I would’ve very happily helped you with your accidental boner just like that.”

Peter made a little noise, before gripping onto Wade’s hips a bit desperately. It had an instant result; his hips jerked up and Peter heard him hiss a soft ‘fuck’ under his breath.

He just wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad ‘fuck’. “Wait, wait, did I hurt you?”

The look Wade gave him was Intense™. “Yes,” he said. “Please do it again?”

Oh.

After a moment’s hesitation, Peter moved his hands downward a bit, closer to Wade’s cock - to a point where their hands were touching, and dug in his nails.

Ah.” Wade’s face scrunched up, and a fat drop of precome dribbled down as he pumped his cock rather quickly now. “Yessss.”

Okay. Okay, so this was something Peter could work with; Wade liked some pain. Maybe he liked some control, too; he was really into Peter’s strength, so it was worth a shot, right?

“Be good and tell me about how you would’ve helped me with my hardon at the bar, Wade,” he pushed on, and it worked, because Wade’s face unscrunched as he made eye contact again. Hazy eye contact, but still.

Wade’s hand was still going at a pretty rapid pace, and his breaths were irregular as he spoke. “I… I woulda slowly taken off those… those pants, and…” He bit off a groan. “... get my hands on that ass for a while, see how much you’d let me play with it, maybe get a finger wet and tease the rim a bit, just to get you a little desperate…” His breathing was definitely getting shallower now, so Peter scooched closer and ran his hands up to his nipples instead - which, judging from the noises that came with that, was a very successful move. “... and when you’re so ready for it that you might get, like, pissed off with me, I’d sink down on my knees and… fuck… I’d just suck your pretty dick dry until your legs gave in. Jesus, that would be so pretty, in a public bathroom… would you be nervous to get caught, Petey?” he asked breathily, “or would it just turn you on?”

Peter, who was already pretty much turned on from just the picture in his head, actually felt goosebumps at the idea. But good goosebumps. God, they were good goosebumps. “Both,” he admitted.

Wade made a keening sound, and pumped his cock even quicker - and it took Peter one, maybe two moments to realize that his Wade was real close right now. He just needed a little extra push.

So Peter did that. “You know what,” he said, his voice low. “For the last two months, every time I jerked off, I pictured you eating me out like you promised me then.”

Wade’s expression went a bit feverish, and he bit his bottom lip, hard. Peter’s stomach flipped again, and he loved it.

“And when I come, I always picture you reaching up to hold my mouth so I won’t shout and we won’t get caught.”

Wade’s eyes went wide and his mouth fell open, but he never broke eye contact as he stroked so quick that it almost looked torturous, until he shouted a harsh “oh, fuck” and came all over his hand.

Peter was pretty sure no porn was ever gonna come close to how hot that sight was.

He gave Wade barely enough time to actually unclench all his muscles before Peter kissed him right on the mouth a few times, almost a little high on everything, and it hadn’t even been him who had just had an orgasm two seconds ago. He just felt amazing because he had been the one to make this happen for Wade, he had been the cause of that, and it was a way bigger rush than he’d imagined.

“Holy fuck,” Wade muttered in between breaths, as he pulled Peter in to lie next to him. He felt overheated and a little sweaty, and Peter wanted to starfish all over him to get as much physical contact going as possible. “That’s the hottest sex I’ve had in years and you didn’t even touch my dick once.”

Peter gave him a hesitant smile. “Was that okay? Didn’t wanna make you feel like you were missing out, or anything.”

Wade laughed. Then looked at him. Then laughed again. “I just said it was the hottest sex in years and you’re asking me if it was okay.”

Just because Wade was naked with a softening penis lying on his abdomen and semen sticking everywhere and his guards were low, didn’t mean that Peter wasn’t gonna poke him in the ribs. “Come on, I don’t have a frame or reference! It’s always good to ask feedback, right?”

Wade laughed again. “You’re great,” he assured him. “It was great. You’re super.”

“Hmm.” Peter’s smile was so wide that he was worried it was going to break his face. “You, too.”

“Yeah?” Wade rolled onto his side and leaned his head on his hand. His dirty hand. He didn’t seem to care. “Even if I made your first time a premature one?”

Oh, that asshole. Peter gave him the best frown he could with the heated face he had. “You don’t get the rights to tease me about that. You did that on purpose.”

Wade kissed him on the nose. “I totes did. And boy, was it a turn on! Admit it.”

“Maybe.”

“You got so into it.”

He had, he really had, but maybe he just wasn’t quite ready to see yet how the worst virgin stereotype mistake was a turn on to him. “Just because it was you,” he brushed it off.

Which Wade didn’t seem to mind at all, because he was beaming. “Because it was me? You just gave my heart a boner.”

“Sounds medically worrying.” But Peter did smile back with the same intensity.

“Mhm,” Wade agreed, “there’s no cure.” Then, he brushed his hand through Peter’s hair, and grinned when he tugged just slightly and Peter found his eyes fluttering a bit. “We should shower, baby boy.”

Peter blinked a few times. “What, now?”

Wade nodded, and lifted Peter up right at the same time as he got off of the bed himself. “You have crusted come basically everywhere, I’ve got slightly wet come on my face now, and I also want to see if I can really make your knees give in if I suck you off.”

“Oh.” Peter slowly felt his dick come back to life. “Okay. Yeah. That’s… yeah.”

Wade smiled, then kissed his forehead. “Last one in the shower is a homo.”

They both came last.

-----

The honeymoon-y flow stayed pretty much intact for a week. Peter had to go to class, yes, but he always came back to Wade’s afterwards to stay the night, and it was, well, it was amazing. He didn’t care that he was distracted all the time he spent in the library, he didn’t care that he accidentally bought himself a way too spicy lunch because he hadn’t looked properly at the cafeteria menu. He didn’t even care that when MJ joined him for said spicy lunch and saw the dark mark underneath his ear, she pointed right at it and yelled “Peter Parker had sex!” through the whole cafeteria.

Because, yes, Peter Parker had sex, multiple times, and he was going to have more sex tonight, thank you.

So yes, he was floating on a giant pink cloud for seven days in a row, basically, right up until that one evening where he was eating Chinese takeout on the couch, with Wade plastered to his side, when Love Actually came on on the TV.

“It’s not even November,” Wade pointed out. “What the hell kinda side tracked, cursed universe is this?”

Peter poked him a little with his foot. “Aw, c’mon. You’re gonna say no to watching a sappy rom com with your boyfriend?”

Wade froze. Peter froze. The whole damn neighborhood froze.

So that had not been the right thing to say, apparently.

Oh.

Oh, no.

“I mean, whatever we are.” Peter tried to clear away the growing lump in his throat. “Whatever. With your whatever.”

But Wade was having none of it. “Peter, I -”

“Or is it not like that?” Peter’s pulse was a lot faster now, and it had nothing to do with excitement. He was pretty sure he was getting ready to throw up. “Is this just, like, I don’t know. Just sex? Sex and kisses? I don’t know, should we even be having this talk?”

Wade paused for way too long. “Oh, boy.”

Peter did not like that ‘oh, boy’. Peter did not like anything about this conversation.

“Peter, look…”

He also definitely didn’t like that one.

But instead of letting him stare at the floor in painful, crumbling peace, Wade put a finger under Peter’s chin to catch his attention again. When he looked up, his expression looked just as pained and uncomfortable and ready to die as Peter felt. “Are you panicking? Because you got your panic face on.”

“Shouldn’t have assumed,” Peter immediately tried to brush it off. His chest felt tight. God, it felt tight. “Shouldn’t have said anything, that was dumb, it -”

“It was a very you thing to do,” replied Wade. “And probably emotionally wise and healthy, and stuff. We should talk about this. I’m just no good at it, at all, so you gotta bear with me, okay?”

No good, nice conversations ever started with ‘you’ve got to bear with me’.

Wade snapped his fingers in front of Peter’s nose a few times. “Pete, I’m serious. Come on, don’t look like you’re gonna cry, it’s not helping.”

“I’m not going to cry,” said Peter, about to cry.

But Wade grabbed his hand, never looked away, and licked the palm of Peter’s hand with more affection than anyone had ever licked anyone else’s hand before, probably. “I like you more than I like melted cheese on any food item,” he said.

Oh.

Now there were tears in his eyes, but Peter wasn’t sure if they were still from him getting upset just then, or because of how heartfelt that was.

“Seriously. Trust me, I love having sex with you, but I like the part where I wake up to your snoring just as much.”

Peter gave him a watery smile. “I don’t snore.”

“Like an obese chainsaw with sleep apnea,” Wade retorted, with the same kind of smile on his face. “But you know what I mean.”

Peter knew what he meant.

“But… fuck, I don’t even know how to put this to words. It feels dumb.” Wade ran a hand over his face, rubbing it hard. “You’re gonna pretty much hate all versions.”

Well, it was hard to like the idea of that. Peter was very sure his anxiety was about to get so big that it wouldn’t fit his body anymore, but after two steady breaths, he reminded himself that he was Spider-Man, for God’s sake. He should be able to face fears.

More importantly, he was an adult, and he was supposed to be able to have conversations, even if he had to fake his coolness under them.

“Try me.”

Wade slowly looked back up at him again, worrying his bottom lip so hard that by the time he spoke, it was bleeding. His gaze was a bit unfocused, pointed at the floor, almost ashamed, almost sad -

“It’s Vanessa,” Peter suddenly knew, because it had to be, it couldn’t not be.

Wade said nothing for a bit. “We were really great together.”

Oh. Oh, he had a feeling he wasn’t going to like this conversation.

“And I don’t say that because I want to rub it in your face, or whatever. I just need you to know. We just… we clicked. Ever had that feeling about someone when you meet them for the first time, and think, ‘this is it’?”

A knot was forming in Peter’s stomach. No, because the only time he’d ever felt even close to in love was right now, and their first meeting had come with stabbings and cut off limbs. “Not really,” he admitted. His voice was almost silent.

But Wade didn’t seem to notice. “Me neither, honestly, and then Vanessa swooped in, and it was some real romcom shit, Pete. Like, worse than Love Actually in October. Heart eyes, sugar sweet, diabetic level stuff, and even if we were both a bit fucked up, we balanced each other out. I killed people for money, she fucked ‘em for money. And it was great. We were great. She was great.”

Peter felt his chest ache, but despite his fears, it wasn’t jealousy that reared his head. He just hated to see Wade sad like this. Automatically, he grabbed his hands and squeezed them. “She sounds like the bomb,” he offered.

Wade laughed a bit, even if it didn’t reach his eyes. “Yeah, she was fucking nuclear. But that’s the part where shit gets stingy, because love stories like that ain’t supposed to end with finding her brains blown out on your lovemaking bed, and it did. There was this whole fucked up happily ever after that we were supposed to have, but never had.”

He clenched his jaw a few times, before inhaling deeply and exhaling harshly. “Aaaaanywho, it’s just. I don’t know. It’s not like I’m still the heartbroken zombie or whatever I was back when that happened, but as much as I just want to move on and say ‘well fuck it, she’s dead, I now wanna fall head over heels for my Spidey-pants!’, I just can’t really turn it off, or something. She still shows up in dreams and tells me she agrees your butt looks fine as hell, and it fucks me up. She’s still there, and you deserve to have, like, my full and whole devotion and stuff in my opinion, if we’re really gonna do this, because I think you’re great, you’re fantastic, but so far I haven’t found the off-switch, and -”

“I don’t want you to switch it off,” Peter said, and he had never been so confident and uncertain about the same thing at once before. His heart was beating in his throat, and that same throat was dry as hell, but he needed to say it so bad, he couldn’t even wait for Wade to stop rambling. “Don’t switch it off.”

Wade blinked at him. “Huh?”

Yeah, huh, because Peter had expected to feel competative about Vanessa, but now? He just didn’t. He just felt sad, too. These weren’t Wade’s Tiny Puppy Feelings, these were Big Puppy Feelings, and Peter had never felt so protective of anyone in his life.

“I know it sounds a bit weird,” he admitted, because even he felt a little weird about admitting it out loud, “and I don’t even know what I’m saying, because I’ve never done any of this before, like, relationships and falling in love and… y’know. All that.” He cleared his throat, which was useless, because his whole throat was a lump. “But… love isn’t just, like, a one person thing. I mean, Ellie and Yukio are pretty much the proof of that, right? They work so well together, but they also love MJ like mad. It doesn’t mean you can’t be devoted if you love Vanessa, it’s just… I don’t know.” Peter awkwardly shrugged one shoulder. “I think I get it, is all I’m saying, and I don’t wanna miss out on… like, us, because you feel guilty about loving your wife. Unless you don’t want to do this, which I also get -”

Wade hugged him so hard, Peter’s spine cracked.

He didn’t say anything, though, just held him with a crushing force for just long enough for Peter to start finding it a little bit painful instead of soothing, when Wade’s grip eased up slightly, just enough to allow Peter to shift a bit and properly melt into the embrace.

“So does that mean you do want to give us a shot? Without, like, feeling guilty, or anything?” he finally dared to ask, with his forehead leaning against the curve of Wade’s neck to shoulder. Felt safe, there. Like home.

Wade inhaled deeply, with his nose pressed against Peter’s shirt. “I don’t feel guilty. She just woulda given me shit for robbing the cradle, probably, but she would’ve liked you. I’m just scared, like a dumbass.”

Peter found himself smiling a little. “We’re all scared like dumbasses, I guess.”

He heard a muffled noise of agreement.

“Still, though,” Peter nudged gently. “Does that mean you wanna be -”

“Yes,” Wade said firmly.

Peter’s stomach flipped like a gazillion times, and his whole chest felt light. “Really?”

Wade pulled back enough to give Peter the widest half insecure, half overjoyed smile he had ever seen from him. “Peter, I wanna be your dumbass.”

-----

They would officially switch the title to boyfriend one month later, but in that moment, Peter felt blessed to have a dumbass as great as Wade.

Chapter Text

They all came around about Wade eventually, though it took some people longer than others.

Ned was pretty much okay with it right off the bat when Peter introduced them, one month into the relationship. Probably also because Wade spared no detail telling him about all the superhero interactions he’d ever had, and because Wade made a point of always bringing food or some alien trinket when he came by Peter’s dorm. They actually got along pretty swimmingly, even if some of the conversations between Peter and Ned left Wade a little puzzled.

“Pete, you could’ve just told me that chicken strips were bad to bring,” he whispered, as Peter pulled a backpack full of clothes over his shoulder for his weekend at Wade’s. “Like, that reaction was intense.”

But Peter just laced their fingers together and grinned. “Fuck your chicken strips is a vine, y’know.”

Wade frowned. “A what?”

“I’ll show you, I bet you’ll love it.”

And Wade really did, even if it meant that they couldn’t bathe together anymore for three solid months, because Wade would not stop quoting the ‘two bros, chilling in a hot tub’ vine, at all.

-----

MJ needed some more time. Ellie and Yukio were pretty much okay with it (Yukio was enthusiastically okay with it), but from the first time Peter brought Wade along to their apartment for a movie night after a month and a half, she sized him right up, grabbed a kitchen knife, and held the sharp end up to him.

“So you’re Wade,” she said. “Heard a lot about you, Wade.”

Wade stood frozen in the doorway, and Peter had to physically tug him on his arm to remind him to get in. “Uh. Hi?”

“MJ, come on,” Peter warned. “That’s enough.”

But MJ just cocked an eyebrow. “He stabbed you, I stab him, right? That’s how friends work.”

Ellie wrapped her arms around her waist and kissed her neck. “Love you.”

And Peter did too, honestly, the gesture was heartwarming, but come on. “Reminder that I really like Wade, and I want you guys to like him, too?” he gently nudged.

“Yeah,” Ned agreed. “Wade is cool, Michelle, ease up.”

But Michelle did not ease up, and Peter hadn’t exactly expected her to ease up. She did put the knife down, though, so that was something.

“Alright, sure, let’s bond, Wade. In private. Just the two of us.” And she walked right off to the bedroom.

The rest stayed behind in an awkward silence, and Wade gently squeezed Peter’s hand. “She’s going to strangle me in there, isn’t she?”

“Nah,” Ellie brushed it off. “She’s going to establish dominance by wrecking you emotionally and then give you the big brother speech.”

Wade looked a little spooked. “That doesn’t sound any better.”

Ellie smiled. “It’s really not.”

Peter had no idea what exactly happened after Wade had reluctantly made his way into the bedroom, but he came out five minutes later, looking at some distant point, eyes unfocused, as MJ skipped out of the room and flung herself on the couch next to Yukio.

“What’d she say?” Peter still asked, but Wade just sat down next to him, with his gaze firmly fixed on the TV screen. He did curl up against Peter’s side a little more than usual, though.

It was maybe half an hour in when he finally whispered: “Hey, Pete?”

Peter gave a little “hmm” in response.

“Your friend is real scary.”

Peter felt both worried and a little smiley. “Yeah. You okay?”

Wade laid his head on Peter’s shoulder. “I like her.”

On the other side of the couch, Peter could swear he saw MJ smile a little as she looked at them, right before everyone’s focus went right back to the screen.

It wasn’t until a full year into their relationship that she actually admitted out loud that she found Wade “okay, I guess”, but Peter had a feeling that that was the moment she decided he wasn’t that bad after all.

-----

It was four months in, at the fresh start of 2023 when New York City was covered in snow and gray sludge that was once snow. They were out, together, when Peter got soaking wet because of the splash up from a passing car.

Wade didn’t even hesitate as he took Peter’s wet, cold coat off, and put his own jacket over his shoulders instead. “You look like a drowning cat,” he joked, and even through the mask he insisted on wearing outside, Peter could tell that he was grinning.

Not the thing he was focused on, though, because Wade was only wearing the thinnest sweater in existence under his jacket, and he had given up his coat regardless.

And he was shivering, and he didn’t even seem to care.

“I love you,” he told him.

Wade stopped mid-step.

“You don’t have to say it back,” he quickly added. “But I just wanted to let you know, I guess.”

Wade paused just a little while longer.

It was right at the moment that Peter started to get nervous, that he pulled up his mask to his nose and kissed him. “Let’s go home,” he told him. “Dry cats are happier than wet ones.”

Wade didn’t say it back that day, but he did honest to God skip the entire way home.

-----

It had taken Peter all the way to a week before his own damn birthday to gather the courage to bring Wade over for dinner with May for the first time. At that point, it wasn’t even that he was worried that May might not like him; it was more about that he was absolutely sure she was going to try and smack him.

And she did, that first time, right in the nuts. It went more or less like this:

May, opening the door, happy ‘my nephew is home’ smile on her face: “Pete!”

Then, looking over at the dressed up figure next to him: “... and you must be Wade.”

Wade, smiling, shitting his pants, bouquet of flowers in one hand, extending the other: “Wade Wilson, ma’am. It’s so nice to finally meet y-”

Nut smack.

“Nice to meet you too,” she said, “and that one was for stabbing my baby.”

What followed after that was probably the most intense interrogation he had ever seen in his life, and he had encountered a lot of arrested perps. Wonderfully uncomfortable at the dinner table, with plates full of homemade lasagna that was growing cold. Peter was pretty sure that May didn’t even care about the food.

He had to give a lot of credit to Wade, though, because he endured the whole thing with exceptional patience and respect, to a point where Peter felt like he should get some award for sucking ass. Even the dodgy subjects, such as his job and the dreaded age gap, he handled with such grace, that Peter could tell that May was taken a little off-guard.

“I know I’m too old for your nephew, ma’am, really, but you don’t have to worry about me taking advantage. See, the thing is, I’m not good enough for him and I know that; he’s a lot wiser than I am, so much more balanced, just so much better, but he’s inspiring. He makes me want to become better, you know? So that I can climb to his level.”

May raised an eyebrow. “And what if you don’t? What if you change your mind and get worse, and drag him down with you?”

Wade didn’t even miss a beat. “Then I trust Peter to be stable and insightful enough to dump my incompetent butt immediately. I’d rather not be his boyfriend and see him happy than be his boyfriend and make him miserable.”

May nodded thoughtfully for a moment there, before taking a deep, deep breath.

“So would you say you love him?”

Peter immediately felt flustered. “May, please don’t put -”

But Wade didn’t even flinch at being put on the spot. Instead, he grabbed Peter’s hand to cut him off (he truly appreciated he skipped the licking, because he felt like that would be a weird one to explain to May), and then offered him a little smile.

“I definitely would.”

Peter just stared. May seemed to relax a little.

“You don’t have to say it because she asked you to,” Peter protested weakly, but Wade’s eyes were softer and warmer than he’d ever seen them before, and something in his gut told him that there was no way Wade would’ve let himself be pushed to say something like that by anyone, not even an Italian aunt that hit him in the nards.

“Been feeling it for months, Petey, don’t worry your pretty head about it.” Wade emphasised that by very quickly pressing a peck to said pretty head. May didn’t even frown about it.

She actually smiled, then cut into her lasagna. “Come on, before it gets cold,” she said, and gestured at their plates. Interrogation over.

Peter was smiling so much during the entire dinner that he didn’t even care that the food was very much cold already.

-----

Two days after that dinner, while watching Netflix on bed from Peter’s old laptop that only charged when you held the charger at a certain angle, Wade suddenly handed him a key with a little Spider-Man keychain.

“For if you ever want to go through the door instead of the window, and I’m not there. Or something.”

Neither of them felt the need to mention that Peter had been using the emergency key behind the dead plant pot for ages already, because pot keys weren’t nearly as special.

-----

February 18th started off with breakfast pancakes and a long-drawn blowjob in bed, and Peter was already one hundred percent prepared to call it the best birthday in his life.

Then Tony Stark showed up, once again, at his actual party at his aunt’s place.

He was wearing a T-shirt and jeans this time around, though, with Pepper smiling brightly at his side as they stepped into May’s cramped living room, where Peter and Ned were already sitting on the floor around the coffee table, with Wade, the babies, MJ and even Gwen sitting on the couch.

“Oh, wow,” Gwen whispered to her piece of birthday cake. “That’s really Tony Stark.”

Ned, on the other hand, seemed to be trying his best to not look totally cool and not at all internally screaming. “Oh, hi,” he said, about as casual as a bouncy ball.

Mr. Stark gave him a wink, before he walked straight over to where Peter was sitting on the corner of the couch Peter wasn’t sure if it was just in his head, but he could’ve sworn that he was very intentionally pretending that Wade wasn’t in the room at all.

Meanwhile, Peter was pretending that his stomach wasn’t making anxious flips at all. “Hi! Do you want some cake? We’ve got loads.”

But Mr. Stark just extended a hand to him, and it was only when Peter took him that he realised that it was a hand to help him stand up. When he did, Mr. Stark put his hands on Peter’s upper arms, and looked right at him.

“Happy birthday, kid.”

And he hugged him.

Not even one of those really quick, really awkward ‘because the situation asks for it’ hugs. One where Peter actually had enough time to go from wide-eyed and shocked, to really excited, to hugging him back just as hard.

“I’ve been an ass and I’m sorry,” Mr. Stark muttered, just soft enough for Peter to hear. “Got so caught up in the whole Wilson dating thing that I kind of forgot to be proud of how you’ve grown.”

Peter didn’t know what to say to that, and when something did come to him, his voice already felt closed up to a point where it was difficult to talk. “I mean, it was never really your job to be proud of me, or anything.”

“No, it’s my privilege,” Mr. Stark corrected, before pulling back from the hug and offering him an actual, soft smile. “I’m really proud of you, from the bottom of my heart, so much it’s almost obnoxious. The way you handled the alien stand-off? That was amazing, Peter, that was better than I could’ve ever done it.”

Peter honestly felt like he was going to cry right there, on the spot, with his family and friends gaping at him. Oh, God.

Mr. Stark seemed to sense it, or maybe felt similarly, because he suddenly cleared his throat and stepped back. “Anyway, I got something for you. Pep?”

Pepper rustled through her purse, before fishing a rectangle-shaped, black, silk box out of it, handing it to Mr. Stark with a smile. “Happy birthday, Peter.”

It looked like a watch box, but Mr. Stark handed it to him, he only found a USB flash drive in it.

“It’s Karen,” Mr. Stark explained. “You just need to plug her in and she’ll be reuploaded immediately.”

Oh. Now Peter really felt like he was going to cry. “Mr. Stark, I -”

“Tony,” he corrected. “And don’t thank me, I shouldn’t have taken her away in the first place.”

So Peter hugged him instead, maybe a little tighter than was really comfortable, but it didn’t matter, because they were good again. They were okay, and he was allowed to call him Tony, and life was just a pretty happy place right now.

Things were good. Things were okay.

“Now that we’re on the topic of things,” May gently interrupted, “what’s this alien stand-off? I thought you only did the small, local stuff, Pete? Did you drag him away to this, Mr. Stark?”

Tony immediately stepped back. “Well, that’s my cue to leave,” he abruptly said. “Have a nice birthday, Pete. Eat some cake for me. Bye!”

Pepper still took the time to kiss Peter on both cheeks before leaving, by which time Tony was probably already halfway out of the apartment building.

“So, before you freak out,” Peter started gently, as he turned back to May, but May just waved it off.

“I’m sure you were fine, I just get a little kick out of freaking him out.”

Wade didn’t miss a beat. “May, I adore you.”

Ellie coughed. “Kiss ass.”

Peter was about 70% certain Wade said something back to that, but he wasn’t listening anymore; he just sat back down with a goofy grin on his face, and the grin didn’t go away for the rest of the day.

-----

It was in May 2023 that Peter graduated; May cheered loudly as he walked across the stage, right next to Wade, who was maskless for once and whooping just as obnoxiously, and Peter could’ve sworn that he saw Pepper quietly hand Tony a tissue.

Tony did gift him a watch that time around, and another cabbage, which Peter found hilarious. May gave him flowers and a laptop that didn’t need to be taped down in order to charge (that she actually had to assure him several times that it hadn’t been too expensive before he could accept it), and Wade handed him something square, not quite looking him the eye.

“This idea was a lot cuter in my head,” he blabbed, as Peter took the wrapping paper off. “I mean, it’s totally normal if you find this stupid as hell, or something, I just thought it would be nice.”

Peter looked down at the photo frame to look at their own faces, and smiled automatically, even if he felt… well, a little confused. That was the first selfie they’d taken together, the one that was still the background on Peter’s phone. “Aw, no, Wade, this is sweet.”

“Maybe you can put it on your nightstand,” Wade went on, and he still wasn’t looking him in the eye. “So that your side of the bed has some decoration, you know?”

Peter’s smile only grew. “That’s adorable.”

Now Wade did look at him. “I’m asking you to move in,” he explained. “I mean, if you want, there’s no pressure, seriously, but I know that you now have to move out of the dorms, and -”

Peter almost smashed the picture frame with how quickly he jumped up and monkey hugged Wade, legs and arms firmly wrapped around him, not even caring about the people who were definitely staring at them.

“I would love that,” he admitted. “Seriously.”

And, after spending a whole day with Ned tidying up the place he’d called home for the past three years with a heavy heart, but a happy smile, he did.

-----

Peter had exactly five days to look for a job before Tony offered him one at HQ.

“Feels like cheating, though,” Peter debated, as he looked over the email on his phone again. “I mean, I didn’t even apply for that. He probably invented that for me, or something.”

But Wade just kissed his neck and flipped the bacon in the pan for him. “If he invented it for you, it’d be rude not to take it, right? Come on, you get to play with lab stuff all day, you love that.”

“Just doesn’t feel fair to take his money.”

Wade wrapped his arms around him properly now, and Peter tried his very, very best to not get distracted by how nice that felt. “I see your point,” he started, “but. Consider this: You play with lab stuff all day, I beat up some assholes, and by the end of the year, we can go visit Europe? We can eat so much pasta in Italy that our pants burst.”

Peter wanted to protest that, somehow, but Wade’s hands moved from his waist to his chest, and he felt sharp teeth scrape gently over that sensitive spot underneath his ear. He shivered hard. “That’s not fair, Wade, c’mon, I was thinking.”

But Wade had plastered himself to his back, and had no intention of stepping back again. “You already know you want the job, so I thought, let’s celebrate?”

Peter tried his best to keep breathing evenly through the feeling of Wade’s thumbs teasing his nipples. “It’s polite to let me come to that conclusion myself, you know.”

Wade made a little non-committal sound. “Is your hair wet from taking a run, or did you take a shower?”

Peter’s voice was already getting a little breathy. “Both.”

The noise Wade made that time was very much delighted. “So you’re all clean?” he asked cheerfully, and before Peter even realized what he was getting at, he felt Wade drop to his knees behind his back, biting his ass through his sweatpants so suddenly that Peter’s hips jerked.

“Holy fuck,” he cursed. “I’m cooking, come on!”

“And please don’t stop because of me,” Wade said simply, as he hooked his fingers under the waistband of Peter’s pants. “I’m saving the bacon and eggs for my dessert after the main meal, okay?”

Peter had some kind of comment ready about how Wade was really testing his concentration here, when he felt two strong thumbs spread his cheeks open, and Wade’s warm, wet tongue licked right over his hole. Arguing was out of the window; now Peter’s job was to not let his knees give in, and not burn himself on the stove.

He did burn the bacon, big time. Neither of them cared.

-----

And things weren’t always perfect, like Gwen had predicted, but as life went by, Peter realized that it didn’t have to be. Most of the days were good days, in which everything was fine, and that was what mattered most.

And sometimes there were days when either of them would wake up with nightmares, or Wade would get very distant very randomly during the day, or Peter would come home after work at the HQ to Wade sitting on the couch, with the TV on static, shouting at himself.

Those weren’t great days, he had to admit, but they were worth it. It was one hundred percent worth it to try and help him through it, snap him out of it whenever he could, or just sit with him and let him ramble on on days he couldn’t. And then when Wade slowly came back to his senses, Peter would be there through the aftermath, and things would eventually drift back to being fine again.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was Wade, and even in the moments where he had to use his Spidey strength to prevent things from escalating, he never loved him any less.

-----

Peter’s life was never boring, and Peter’s life with Wade was especially never boring, but even through all the alien invasions, even through all the battles they got involved in - Peter wouldn’t even be able to remember all of them twenty years later.

He did remember May 2027, though, when the first half of the month had been all rainy and dreadful. The first nice, sunny day was a work day; Peter didn’t care though, because he was still young, and healthy, and young and healthy people could walk in Central Park after they came home from work, too, even if the sun was already setting

“Aw,” said Wade, pointing at the trees. “Look at all those blossoms! It’s like we’re in an anime, Pete, seriously, don’t you think this is anime-ish?”

Peter gave him a short smile. “Sure is. Sorry, I gotta make a phone call.”

Wade gave him a thumbs up and just walked over to the nearest tree, so he could grab one of the branches, take his mask off, and plant his face fully and completely in the blossoms before sniffing them.

Maybe it smelled so good that he didn’t hear his phone. Either way, it took twenty excruciating seconds before Peter watched him take his phone out of his pocket, give Peter a strange look (probably because he was calling him from seven feet away), then answered it.

“Hi,” said Wade.

“Hey,” replied Peter, and his voice wasn’t shaking. That was good. He was pretty sure the rest of his body was, though. “You might’ve forgotten about this, I don’t know, but we met seven years ago in a supermarket? And I grabbed your arm, and you said my strength was hot… and you told me to call you in seven years.”

Wade had a very puzzled look on his face, but smiled through it. “Oh! Yeah, you! I remember you! Very hot indeed. So are you calling me to finally ask me on a date, hunk? Because I’m sorta seeing this guy -”

“Actually,” Peter interrupted, before Wade could take over the gig, “I was gonna ask you something else?”

Wade raised an eyebrow as Peter stuck his shaking hand in his pocket, his heart feeling like it was about to burst out of his chest. Then, he raised the second eyebrow when Peter went down on one knee, and presented the plastic ring with a little spider on top to him.

“Supermarket guy,” Peter whispered through his phone, his voice definitely shaking as bad as his hand now, “will you make me the happiest guy alive and marry me?”

Wade dropped his phone.

“You’re kidding,” he said.

Peter’s stomach flipped, and he rapidly shook his head. “Super serious.”

Wade said nothing, for a very long time, as the blossoms of the tree rustled quietly in a spring breeze, before he finally dropped to his knees and hugged Peter so hard, Peter could feel the quiet sobs he was suppressing in his chest.

“Sure,” he whispered hoarsely. “Sounds like fun.”

And despite the fact that Peter revealed that he had some real rings for them to wear, because the plastic ring was a kid size and was also, you know, plastic, Wade insisted on wearing his spider ring on his pinky anyway.

“Then I’ll always have you with me!” he said cheerfully, almost crying, sitting on his ass on damp grass with blossom petals hitting him in the face with every little bit of wind. Peter was pretty sure the wet ground was soaking through his pants, and he didn’t care one bit.

Because he said yes, and he was also always going to have Wade with him, and in that moment, nothing else really mattered.