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This will be the last time (Every time's the last time)

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"So, did you hear about the new game?" Ned's tray slammed heavily onto the table next to Peter's, his hair bouncing in time with the plate, launching himself into an explanation of whatever game had taken his fancy this time, whilst Peter prepared to zone out. "No no no," he caught the look on Peter's face, "it's not like that. You'll love this one, really."

"Just like I loved the others?" Peter asked, but he nudged Ned's shoulder with his own anyway. "Go on, then." Ned's face lit up, as though he had expected the easy way Peter would give in, and took a deep breath to begin.

"It's called Sokovia. It's basically online D&D, with all the same character classes and everything." Peter had managed to avoid getting dragged to the D&D sessions Ned attended in the English room every Thursday lunchtime, so this meant nothing to him. "You can either play alone or in a group, but all of the usual gang have characters already so you'll be with us. You just," he waved a hand in the air, "complete quests and get gold and kill people. It's great fun!"

Despite the fact that Ned found a new obsession like this every week, despite the fact that Peter always hated them and Ned always gave up after a few days, Peter agreed. Like always.

"So, meet up after school today to arrange your character?" It wasn't a question, Ned was already making a note of it in his phone. "You can be a sorceror - but I've got that covered - or there's a rogue, or a ranger, or a ..." In Peter's mind, the minute amount of attention that he was paying to at least allow Ned's words to go in one ear faded into nothingness, and instead they were floating straight over his head.

"See you at 5!" The bell went, Ned stood up and Peter had no idea what he had let himself in for.

 

Luckily, Ned's enthusiasm for the game more than made up for Peter's lack of interest, and he found Peter at 4:59 exactly, pulling him down the corridor and out of the school at the speed of light, while Peter desperately tried to shut his backpack before he lost all of the paper he had worked so hard to doodle on that day.

There was no denying that Ned's room was, well, it really was something. Three monitors adorned the wooden desk, so that when sitting there the virtual world enveloped your entire head. Star Trek posters were stuck on the walls, in varying amounts of falling off because pristine, completely straight posters that always stay where they're meant to are a myth. Books, fact and fiction, littered the room, and the bed was a messy pile of duvet, pillow and - Peter picked up a piece of paper - plans for an attack on dragons, lightly sketched on the sheet of graph paper that looked suspiciously like the one given out to do the maths homework on that Ned had never done.

Ned flung himself onto the chair in front of the desk, making dust fly up in every direction, and gestured at the second seat next to him for Peter to sit down, which he did a lot more carefully than Ned, making sure he moved the scissors that Ned had so narrowly avoided before taking his seat. He watched with vague disinterest as Sokovia began to load on the screen on Ned's monitor, a stark grey and black city making the backdrop for the load sequence.

Ned looked at Peter as though he was insane. "Well?" Peter, unsure exactly what he was being asked, found it safest to agree, so he nodded. Apparently this wasn't the answer Ned wanted. "Your laptop, idiot," he lightly slapped Peter on the side of the head, "we can't both play on the same screen."

Obediently, Peter pulled out his laptop, allowed Ned to find and download the game from a less-than-legal source (which would probably still crash less than the Steam variant), and found himself faced with character creation.

Name, the game demanded of him. He began to type Peter Parker when Ned stopped him, shakin his head in a way that was reminscent of how one acts with children who are being stupid but aren't expected to know better.

"Your character name. Come on, make it exciting! Mine is Venom."

"Venom?"

"Admit it, you wish you'd thought of that." Lost for words in the face of such naivety, Peter instead turned his thoughts to what his character could be called. Ned's choice, mixed with the cobwebs that lingered in the corners of the room, turned his thoughts to spiders, so without further ado that was what he typed in.

BEEP!

Name already taken.

"Spider...man?" Peter wondered allowed as he typed it in, pleasantly surprised when the name was accepted and he was moved onto more difficult questions.

"Oh, don't worry about that," Ned take over once more, physically removing the laptop from Peter's grasp and beginning to type at the speed of light. "The only class we're missing is Bard, so that's what you'll be, and -"

"A bard?"

Ned continued like Peter had never interrupted. "If you're a bard it makes sense to be either human or elf, and we already have a lot of elves, everyone chooses them, so you'll be human -"

"An elf?"

"So then you'll max out charisma and dexterity, and - oh what instrument do you want?" He rattled on before Peter even had the chance to comprehend that he'd been asked a question. "Let's go harmonica, those are fun, and then you're a supporting character so we won't give you too many attack spells, but we have a healer so let's go with Fireball, that's always fun, and there you go!" He hit select, and that was it, Peter's fate sealed with a bunch of words that had gone straight over his head. "Ready to start?"

Peter knew better by now than to even try to say no.

 

To his surprise, the game turned out to be okay. It was almost fun, really. You fought mythical creatures and went on quests and found artifacts and levelled up and that was it, plain and simple.

It was almost enough to make him consider attending actual D&D, if he didn't have a scrap of social standing that he was trying to hang on to.

But still, the next day he was waiting for Ned at 4:58, already discussing how best to defeat the Sirens that had charmed half their party.

The day after, he dealt with the minotaur on his own.

The day after that, he was better at healing spells than their healer.

By the sixth day, it was safe to say that Peter was absolutely hooked.

By the seventh day, he could see the signs of what eventually happened to all games, no matter how good. Ned was getting bored of Sokovia.

 

Exactly two weeks after Ned had first sat down at Peter's lunch table and introduced him to Sokovia, longer than expected and yet so much shorter than Peter had hoped for, Ned jolted his tray down next to Peter and began to introduce him to a new game, a shooting one, because "fantasy is so overdone" and he needed a break from it. Peter nodded along, even going so far as politely agreeing to try it out that night at Ned's, but in his head he was mourning the loss of the one game that he had actually enjoyed.

After Ned's, tired from hours of being mocked for being completely unable to shoot in a straight line, Peter collapsed onto his bed, mentally debating between doing some homework or just sleeping. The threat of detention pushed him into sitting up and grabbing his laptop, but once it was open he found himself automatically opening Sokovia. He hesitated for a second, cursor hovering over the exit button, before he changed direction and clicked on a setting he hadn't had to use yet with enough force that he worried for his laptop.

For the first time in the history of his friendship with Ned, Peter opened up the single-player version of a game he had been forced to play, and began on a quest.

In detention the next day, he was planning his takedown of a dragon to get the gold.

 

Admittedly, it was hard. Peter's character died more times than he cared to admit. To gain the maximum amount of time playing, he began to do his homework at lunch, leaving after school completely free to spend hours in the online world. Ned noticed his change of character, but, upon catching sight of some hastily drawn plans to take down an evil empire, he merely smirked knowingly and allowed Peter to continue.

 

A month later, Peter was surprised by a pinging noise, and the opening of an online chat in the game. He figured it was one of his old team returning, and was all set to press enter on his greeting message of "sup wankers" when he realised that he didn't recognise the name.

IronMan wants to say hi!

IronMan: You're a high level bard, right?

SpiderMan: Level 16?

IronMan: Shit man, that's definitely high enough.

IronMan: See, the thing is, our bard screwed us over by defecting to another group.

IronMan: We have everything except a bard.

IronMan: Want in?

SpiderMan: I'm there.

Changing his settings to multiplayer, Peter was immediately greeted by a chat being spammed with messages by Hawkeye, and the fact that the group were mid-battle. Desperately, he began to play his instrument, trying to boost his new team.

WinterSoldier: A fucking harmonica?

CaptainAmerica: Language!

SpiderMan: I don't see you complaining, without my help you'd have failed that hit.

BlackWidow: Fucking concentrate!

BlackWidow: Also, nice name Spidey.

The first sign that Peter hadn't been a part of this group for very long came just after the fight. Hulk, their barbarian, had been injured, and Peter immediately began casting a healing spell, as per usual for his old team.

Hawkeye: Have you never played in a team before?

SpiderMan: I have, why?

CaptainAmerica: Clerics usually do the healing, that's all. I can take over from here.

Peter's eyes lit up as he realised this might actually be a competent team.

 

Nothing, no homework, no detention, no family dinners, could get Peter to halt in his Sokovia obsession. It was almost worrying, really, the way that he thought about it every minute of every day, the way that his meticulous plans became as important to him as his own health, the way that - and he shuddered at the thought but couldn't push it out of his head - the way that he was turning into Ned.

If Ned was worried about brand infringement, though, he was hiding it well. In fact, he seemed proud of Peter, praising his plans whenever he caught a glimpse of them, and occassionally adding helpful hints that actually saved the day, but Peter would never tell him that. His head would explode.

He never shared his name with the group, and never learned any of their names either. There was something exhilarating about that, he could be whoever he wanted, no ties to Peter Parker the high school student.

Eventually, however, the full-on lifestyle of narrowly avoiding failing classes whilst vapourising terrifying creatures began to take its toll on Peter. It started with less sleep, more panic, the general symptoms of a student, but slowly increased.

 

 

"What the FUCK?" Peter sat bolt upright in bed, images of the nightmare still haunting him even as they faded from memory, leaving only the lasting impression of horror and vague unease. Something about Uncle Ben being stabbed? He couldn't tell anymore. How long he stayed there in the dark, afraid to lie down in case the blackness overtook him again, perhaps into something worse, perhaps this time it would be real and he wouldn't wake up, Peter didn't know. His rasping breath calmed down, his heart rate settling into something closer to normal, and yet he couldn't bring himself to close his eyes.

Longing for a sense of safety and normalcy, he brought his laptop onto the bed, wincing as the bright screen shocked his eyes but unwilling to turn it down, and logged on to Sokovia. He didn't do anything, just stared at the landscape and matched his breathing with the sounds of snoring from the party, safe in a cave.

PING!

Peter leapt almost out of his bed, hitting his head on the headboard on the way down and kicking his own shin. He glanced desperately at the door, waiting for the telling creaking sound that meant Aunt May had been woken, but thankfully none came. Then, and only then, did he glance accusingly at the message that had come through, turning down the volume on his laptop as he did so.

QuickSilver: Why are you up so late?

Well, that was surprising. Peter and QuickSilver had become slightly close, due to their tendency to hang at the back and cast spells as the tanks (Hulk and WinterSoldier), took most of the damage. Still, the wizard had been offline more often than usual recently, so to see him online at such a late hour was quite a shock.

SpiderMan: Could ask you the same question

QuickSilver: Moving house tomorrow. We've finally got all the packing done, but it feels like it's only just hit me that it's actually happening. New school, new friends, new bus route. It's gonna be weird.

Peter felt a pang of sympathy for his guildmate. He remembered his life changing dramatically, how it felt like the world was spinning faster than usual and yet somehow you were staying still, jolted back into the present when the denial wears off. It sucked.

Maybe it was that that made him feel able to respond truthfully to QuickSilver's question, instead of making a joke about work.

SpiderMan: Nightmare

SpiderMan: Looks like we're both fucked tonight, huh?

QuickSilver: Looks that way.

Neither of them responded for a while, Peter staring at the screen and debating what could possibly be said to ease this out of the awkwardness, before deciding on a bold forward move.

SpiderMan: Want to voice chat?

QuickSilver: Hell yeah.

Immediately, a voice chat request from QuickSilver came through, and Peter wasted no time in pressing select.

"Hey." QuickSilver's voice was soft, with the lilt that came from sleepiness, and had an accent that Peter couldn't quite place. Altogether, it just made him feel warm.

"Hey," he winced, feeling that his voice was harsh and grating in comparison, but if QuickSilver felt the same he made no comment. "How's life?"

"Could be better, could be worse," a standard answer for when your life is going to shit but you're trying to sound upbeat, "you?"

"Pretty good, all things considered." Another awkward pause, this time more obvious, and Peter wanted a hole to swallow him up. "So, about those harpies, huh?"

They talked non-stop for the next 45 minutes.

Suddenly, mid-sentence about how sorcerors were way better than wizards, Peter felt a yawn sneak up on him. He began to apologise, stumbling over the words, but QuickSilver merely chuckled and responded, "Tired, Princess?"

"...Maybe a little," Peter's heart did something at being called Princess, but he wasn't sure what and was too tired to want to know.

"You can sleep, you know. It's late and you have school tomorrow, don't you?"

He did, that was true, but the idea of hanging up and ending this conversation, which felt oddly intimate despite him not knowing who QuickSilver really was, didn't appeal to him. He cursed under his breath, at school and at himself for being tired and at QuickSilver for seeming to care, just at everyone. Petulantly, he replied, "Fine, but only if you read me a story."

QuickSilver laughed, bright and surprised, and Peter wanted to be the cause of that always. "Of course. Once upon a time there was a handsome wizard named P - QuickSilver, and his loyal bard SpiderMan..."

With the pleasant voice of QuickSilver following him, Peter slipped into a deep sleep, knowing that he was safe.

 

Peter woke up to the feeling of his hips grinding against mid-air, his dick hard and straining against his trousers. His laptop was still half open, completely out of charge, on the floor, and a smile rose unbidden to his lips at the memory of last night.

"Peter! You're going to be late!" His aunt barged in, ruining the happy thoughts his mind had turned to, and with a sigh he got ready for school.

 

That day, when he logged on to Sokovia, QuickSilver was there, and everything seemed normal. No mention was made of the past night, and Peter wondered whether it had meant anything to the other player, because for some reason it meant a lot to him.

 

The sense of normalcy that Peter longed for, that he found with Sokovia, was somewhat broken only three days after his voice chat with QuickSilver. As most bad things do, it began on a dreary Monday morning, slightly late for school. Peter hurried through the corridors, dropping the same piece of paper three times in his desperation to get through the crowd and to his lessons before the bell went and his chemistry teacher literally crucified him. In his haste, and general clumsiness, he managed to run straight into the back of someone tall, stumbling forwards and taking them down with him as he hit the floor.

Peter looked up, mouth open in preparation to apologise and just - stopped. He looked into the face of his victim and words got stuck in the back of his throat. The hubbub of general school life paled to a faint buzz around him as he stared into bright blue eyes of someone he didn't recognise.

"Are you a fucking idiot?" Harsh words, spat at him with an accent too beautiful to be used like this, brought him out of his stupor.

"No!" Peter sprang up, stepping on some pieces of paper as he stuck his hand out, "I'm Peter!"

The other boy looked at him like he was from another planet, completely ignoring Peter's outstretched hand in favour of bending down and trying to collect his books that - oops - Peter was still standing on.

"Um, I'm sorry," Peter's immediate friendliness wilted in the face of this disdain. "It was an accident, I..." He watched as whoever-he-was turned and walked away, leaving some of his work under Peter's boots.

 

Because the universe hated him, this wasn't the last Peter saw of that stranger. Before even five minutes had passed, Peter walked into his chemistry lab to see a familiarly unfamiliar boy in his seat. He wandered over, hoping that someone would bring up to the new kid that Peter had sat in that seat every day for the year, but no-one really cared about Peter enough to do that. Sighing, he tapped the boy on the shoulder, taking the time to marvel at how well-dyed his hair was, because it must be a bitch to dye such dark hair white, and -

"Are you a fucking idiot?" Seriously, for the second time today? That was just rude.

"No, I'm Peter. And you're in my seat."

"The teacher told me to sit anywhere that was empty."

"Yeah, well, this seat isn't empty. I'm just late because I had to pick everything up after running into you, and -"

"You say that like it's my fault."

Peter sighed, getting exasperated, and tried one last time, "Just get out of my seat, okay?" It came out surprisingly harsh, and he was ready to apologise, but the other boy refused to meet his eyes as he sullenly collected his stuff and moved to another desk. Peter watched him go, amazed at how they had barely spoken for more than a minute and already he seemed to be hated.

 

From then on, Peter and the stranger had a silent war waging between them. It was harmless, really, glares from across the dining hall if they ever made eye contact, the refusal to sit near each other, whispers to their friends about how much of a twat the other was. The only problem, Peter found, was that this boy was way too hot for him to hate with any real passion, catching himself fantasising about them being friends - or maybe even more - on multiple occassions.

What made matters worse was that for the next week QuickSilver was never on Sokovia. Peter tried desperately to find a time that he would be there, even for half an hour, but to no avail. No matter how late he stayed up or how often he opened it on his phone during lessons, QuickSilver was never there. It took until the weekend of the week after the hot stranger had glared his way into Peter's life that a request to voice chat finally popped up on his laptop. Flinging himself onto his bed, ignoring all homework, he immediately pressed answer, and was greeted by QuickSilver's smooth accent.

"Did you miss me?"

"Absolutely," Peter's mouth answered before his brain could complete a smart response, and he blushed, trying to cover up for his eagerness, "it's always good having someone worse than me around."

"Very funny," there was something about QuickSilver that seemed off today, so Peter pressed gently. "Yeah, the new school is just a bit of a shithole, that's all."

"Detention already?" Peter could sympathise.

"Nah, nothing like that. There's a boy there, and he's really hot, but he hates me already. I don't know what I did wrong, he seems to like everyone else, maybe it's just because I'm the new kid."

Peter couldn't imagine anyone hating QuickSilver, so he piped up optimistically, "Maybe he just has a massive crush on you and doesn't know how to deal with it!"

QuickSilver huffed out a laugh, and with that they moved on to lighter topics, with Peter filing away the knowledge of QuickSilver's sadness to check up on at a later date.

 

Having someone around school that hated him took more of a toll on Peter than he expected. His spirits would dampen a little more every time the boy would smile dazzlingly at someone, but then turn to Peter and from immediately. Being actively avoided was difficult in such a small school, and often led to the two almost colliding, or almost having to work together, but somehow it never happened.

Every time Peter logged onto Sokovia he felt the urge to click on voice chat, to call QuickSilver and spill out all his troubles, but the memory of how small and upset QuickSilver had sounded when he had told Peter about the guy that hated him stopped him every time. He didn't want the other man to think that he was trivialising his troubles. So Peter played the game, making jokes over messenger that sounded exactly like the old him, and pushed the thoughts out of his mind.

QuickSilver called him fairly regularly, twice a week or so, and always Peter carefully asked how he was doing.

"He always looks sad when I see him," QuickSilver replied, sounding dejected, "I hate it." Peter would rush to tell him that this other guy was an idiot, that he would go to QuickSilver's school and beat him up, until QuickSilver laughed and the mood returned.

"You're a really good guy," QuickSilver would say.

Or, a few months into this, "You're a really good friend."

Peter didn't know why that nearly broke him. All he knew was that acting like nothing was wrong was taking a toll on him, too.

 

In retrospect, he should have seen it coming. Sure, it had been a while since his parents had died, and sure, his mood and health had slowly been improving ever since until he was a functioning human being with happiness and friends, but the feeling of having the darkness slowly creep back into you isn't something that you can ever forget.

Maybe he should have realised when it hurt his cheeks to smile for more than 30 seconds.

Maybe he should have realised when he started going to the library just to put his head down and be alone and silent for a while.

Maybe he should have realised when his nights would either be spent sleeping too much or not enough.

He actually realised at 3am, when he was thrown into a panic attack simply by realising that the guy that hated him had friended everyone else on FaceBook, but not him. His vision blurred over, not even being able to read the name that matched the face on his suggested friends list, 150 mutual friends. His chest began to hurt, a sharp pain with every intake that left him simultaneously wanting to gasp for breath and wanting to stop, to make the pain go away. He floundered for a while, lying diagonally across the bed with his chest convulsing, before in a desperate act he reached for his laptop. It slipped from his hands so many times before he could bring it up onto the bed with him, curling around what felt like the only source of heat in the room. Without thinking about the consequences, without thinking that he would be asleep and had better things to deal with than this, Peter loaded Sokovia slammed his finger down on the mouse, clicking voice chat with QuickSilver.

He didn't pick up after 4 rings. Peter knew for a fact that sometimes QuickSilver fell asleep on Sokovia, that that would explain why the game claimed he was online, but an irrational part of his brain that was growing by the second asked what if he just didn't want to talk to Peter?

Just as he was about to give in to those thoughts, the ringing was replaced by a now-familiar voice.

"'Lo?" So he had been asleep at his laptop.

Peter spent a few frantic seconds trying to work out what to say, how to explain this. His embarrassment led to his complete silence - maybe he should hang up - but he heard the sounds of movement on the other end and QuickSilver asking, with more urgency, "Spidey? What's wrong?" And oh yeah, the sounds of ragged breathing would probably tip him off.

"Panic attack," he managed to gasp out, unsure if it was audible. From QuickSilver's muttered curses on the other end it seemed to be, and he sounded a lot more awake when he ordered gently,

"It's okay. It's okay, just breathe. I'm here, I've got you, you're safe. Breathe. I won't let anything happen to you."

"Sorry," Peter muttered, as he fought to get his body back under control, "woke you up."

"Don't be silly," QuickSilver's voice sounded almost harsh as he dismissed Peter's worries, "it's okay. I'm here."

Surprisingly fast for Peter, and yet an indeterminable amount of time later, his breathing eased into a regular pattern and the shaking stopped. He mumbled more apologies, asking if he should hang up, but QuickSilver replied,

"No. No way! What's wrong, Spidey? Is there something you're not telling me?"

"Just. Problems at school. A bit like you really, a guy hates me. And, yeah. Sometimes it gets hard."

"Oh," QuickSilver was silent for a while, "why didn't you tell me?"

"I dunno," suddenly all of the reasons felt stupid, "I didn't want you to think I was saying your problems weren't as bad as mine. Or anything."

QuickSilver sighed, and Peter flinched, assuming he was mad, but the words were full of exasperated fondness. "I'm your friend, Spidey. At least, I hope I am," Peter made a noise of agreement, "and you help me so much. I want to be able to help you. I can't be there for you if you won't let me." It did make sense, Peter supposed.

"Okay," Peter winced as a blinding headache began to take place behind his eyes, "I'm sorry. It won't happen again."

QuickSilver sighed again, and he worried for a second that he was going to be subject to a much longer conversation than he could handle right now, but the reply that came was simply, "Go get a drink. I'll tell you another story, if you want? To help you sleep?"

Peter blushed a bright red, but replied, "Yes please."

Once more he fell asleep almost before the story had begun, but, in his alf-asleep state, he almost thought he heard QuickSilver mutter, "Love you."

 

After that, the two became even closer. It was obvious to Peter that, while whatever had been between them before was a fake put up by him, this was the real thing. They spoke almost daily, about important things like panic attacks and sadness, to trivial things like good marks in chemistry or a bitchy teacher. When he was talking to QuickSilver, it seemed to Peter like the rest of the world just melted away.

Of course, because Peter was very gay and QuickSilver's voice was a gift from God himself, this had the unwanted side effect of making Peter have a crush on him, just a little. How could you even have a crush on a voice? It had started simple, the smile and blush that rode unbidden to his face whenever QuickSilver spoke to him, especially in that fond way, but when he woke up from an intense dream with a hard dick and a memory of words in QuickSilver's accent, he knew that this was going way further than he wanted.

When that happened for the sixth time, filled with shame and guilt, Peter tried to think of that accent while he jacked off. He came embarrassingly fast.

Peter wouldn't jack off while he was talking to QuickSilver, that was just weird. And wrong. And disgusting. In his mind, what he was doing now was also weird, and wrong, and disgusting, but less so? Hopefully? Either way, it was too difficult not to, his dick twitching whenever QuickSilver said "Spidey", and it was all he could do to wait until the call was ended to rush to the shower, his dick hard. It didn't make it easier that their friendship had dissolved into the easy banter that could easily be contrived as flirting, especially with some of the worse insults that QuickSilver threw in.

Even Peter would admit, this was playing with fire.

And that's how, one summer night, when Peter left the bathroom with QuickSilver's name still on his tongue, his return to the computer was met with shocked, stifled giggles. And the deafening realisation that the call was still open.

"Oh my GOD!" It was all that Peter could say. He couldn't decide if he should be apologising or hanging up, and the stuttered apologies definitely weren't good enough, but QuickSilver cut him off, the giggles having descended into full on laughter that Peter would have found so cute if he weren't currently considering moving to Canada and living out the rest of his life as a moose farmer.

"It's okay," the boy laughed, "it's okay. It's just -" he was cut off by a stronger laughing fit, "QuickSilver is such a long name to say in the heat of the moment. You can call me Pietro."

For a second Peter remembered all of the reasons for not saying his name, the new life he had started on Sokovia. Fuck it, he thought vehemently, and replied, "I'm Peter."

"Nice to meet you," Pietro smiled, "I feel like our relationship has been taken to the next level."

"Pietro," Peter blurted, "I am so sorry, I just, you're really great and I'm really gay and I just,"

"I've definitely considered doing the same," Pietro mused. "It's not a big deal, trust me."

"Oh. Nice." Where, exactly, did they go from here?

"Wanna use webcams?" Well, that was definitely something, Peter supposed. He thought back on all the years of being told not to talk to strangers over the internet, although to be fair it was too late for that. Pietro didn't know his last name, or where he lived, so -

"Sure." He hit the button before he had a chance to stop it.

And.

Okay.

Wow.

Pietro had white hair. And piercing blue eyes. And the same smile as the guy in school, that turned to the same frown when he saw Peter's face.

"Is this some sick joke?" Pietro asked, mere seconds before Peter was asking the same question.

"No, I, you go to my school?" Peter replied.

"You hate me?" Pietro yelled, his eyes glistening a little and no, Peter couldn't make him cry, right? He wouldn't.

"No, no I swear I don't, why would I hate you? I thought you hated me!"

"What?"

"You frown at me all the time!"

"You yelled at me for being in your seat!"

"You called me a fucking idiot!"

"Okay," Pietro smiled slightly, "I did do that. But you ran into my first."

"I'm just clumsy," Peter sighed, "I didn't do it on purpose."

"I know," just like that, all of the anger seemed to dissipate, "but I was new and scared and you were intimidatingly hot."

"You think I'm hot," Peter scoffed, "I've been drooling over you the whole time!"

"So, Pietro laughed, "looks like we're both idiots?"

"Absolutely," Peter replied. "Wanna go watch Batman tomorrow?"

"You bet!"

 

There was no time spent in the 'friendship' stage. The next Monday, when they walked into school holding hands and still talking about their date, Ned gaped at Peter. Peter winked in return and whispered conspiratorially, "Thank Sokovia."

Pietro and Peter agreed never to explain it to the wide-eyed Ned, even if the story was hilariously embarrassing for Peter.

At least, not until the wedding, Pietro thought.