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i'm just a product of the system (a catastrophe)

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Peter makes a point of never letting anyone see his mark.

Even as a little kid, he remembers Uncle Ben and Aunt May’s frowns when they saw it for the first time, gobsmacked by his soulmate’s utter cheek. Before the accident, Ben would always tut under his breath and mutter on about manners and subtlety. That by itself was enough to convince Peter to strap a watch or a cloth of sorts over it.

To this day, Peter still sticks to covering it, all-too aware of the extra fun he’d be made of if these words ever got around. He’s not particularly ecstatic on feeding the bullying.

May still snorts at the sight of it though, after some considerable wine intake.

Ned is the second person to see it.


It’s after a rather strenuous PE lesson, so they had hit the showers quick before they can go to team practice. They’re the last ones in the locker room and Peter is frankly so damn stressed about everything that’s been going on in just this last week—coming back from his literal ashes and to the Spider-Man shindig with a Spanish quiz around the corner—that he completely forgets.

He stops toweling his hair, eyes darting back and forth between his bare wrist and his best friend’s failing attempt to contain his disbelief, and throws him a sheepish grin.

“Yeah, yeah, I know.”


It shouldn’t surprise him that MJ sees it next.

The strap on his watch snaps. It snaps, and it’s summer, so he can’t at least try to cover it with his sleeves, and has he mentioned his life sucks? Because it does. It freaking sucks.

It’s not odd to hide your words from the world. People do it more often than you’d think, but it comes from an outdated, conservative concept, so nowadays, society encourages you to flaunt them with pride. Those who insist on concealing them, especially if they’re young, are slightly frowned at.

And, realistically, he knows the words aren’t bad, per se, but they’re not the kind you’d look at without reacting a little, and he’s learned the hard way that kids and teenagers are the absolute worst when it comes to these things. It doesn’t take much to poke fun at someone who’s just slightly off the norm, so if it’s Peter Parker with something like that as his soulmark? Well, he can only imagine the hell Flash would raise for it at school.

He’s just about two seconds into panicking in the middle of team practice, watching Flash on the podium, when tan hands take the watch away from his fussy hands to slide a red cloth over his inked skin. MJ’s own words stare back at him as she ties off the hairband, ones he actually recognizes but says nothing about.

When she’s done, she takes a step aside. She gives him a brief once-over, and then her expression turns appreciative, clearly agreeing with the contents of his mark.

She winks when she turns away, and Peter feels his face on fire.

Mr. Stark, surprisingly, doesn’t react. At first.

Because Peter’s a complete idiot, as Mr. Stark tells him later, he forgoes precautions and pays the price when they’re testing out an upgrade for one of his web shooters. Something malfunctions, and advanced spider healing or not, it still burns when it goes all the way down his forearm, like the freaking Devil himself took a hold of his hand and yanked.

Peter almost comments on how literally fading to bits had hurt less, but when he opens his mouth he’s levelled with a stare very reminiscent of Aunt May’s, and acknowledges the too soon. Even if it has been almost two years.

Mr. Stark has to push back his sleeve to see the damage and get the right treatment from the First Aid kit one of his bots fetched, and Peter squeaks, indignated, despite his arm hurting enough to be a concern. His mentor actually pauses as he surveys his arm, face paper blank for a few moments. Either he’s seen worse or the injury takes precedence, because all Peter’s given is a split-second look, then calloused hands rub some soothing balm on his arm and the lab safety lecture comes on.

Later, bandaged and properly chastised, Peter chances a look at Mr. Stark. His face is still hard to read, as it sort of always is, but he’s staring back dead on. The silence is somewhat excruciating.

Anyhow, this lasts about three seconds before Peter notices the knowing glint in his mentor’s eyes and the clear effort he’s making at holding back his laughter. It occurs to Peter that maybe he realized why the mark is always hidden by the watch and is trying not to say anything in respect to Peter’s feelings.

So Peter gives him a mile and laughs, abrupt and a bit deprecating, but he can’t help himself, and Mr. Stark’s responding grin is wide and nothing short of exasperated.

“Jesus, kid. You have your hands full.”

And Peter laughs all the harder, catching his breath enough to quip, “I thought it was the other way around?”

It takes a surprising half-minute before the meaning sinks in.

“You’re grounded.”

Peter keeps cackling.

He used to think about hearing them for the first time as often as one does think about hearing their soulmate’s first words to them. He used to feel this sort of anticipation and, he admits, desperation for it, when he still dreamt of becoming like those people in the movies whose soulmate comes and saves them from their not-so-rosy lives.

That was before Spider-Man, however, and before Peter grew up enough to know that’s a load of crap. No one can save you but yourself.

Spider-Man is a hero. He’s the people’s man, an actual knighted Avenger by both Iron Man and Captain Marvel, at the beck and call of every criminal that decides to be naughty one particular night. He’s New York’s reliable savior, a figure to look up to and someone to depend on.

It’s understandable how he still longs to hear them, ridiculous and problematic aside, seeing as he doesn’t have time to be his own hero.

 He does hear them. At long last, he hears them, and the moment he does, he wishes he didn’t.

It happens when he’s out on a lead about a rich dude’s friends kidnapping the girl that dumped him and teach her how much of a mistake it was to run away from him. Considering the guy’s sadistic tendencies in his criminal record, Peter doesn’t blame her at all.

Spider-Man sneaks into the empty warehouse he finds them in and drops down quietly, though unnecessarily so. The guys—three, and none of them were even assigned guard duty—are arguing so loudly he could have burst in banging pots and pans and none of them would turn.

“Well, it’s about time I had fun and got the imbeciles going for ‘walking cliché’!” he says in lieu of greeting. They’re all in ninja masks too, what is this. “Seriously, guys. A shady warehouse in the shady part of town? What’s wrong with an old-fashioned basement?”

The trio whips out actual knives, like the idiots they are. If he bristles, it’s at the sight of an asian, half-naked girl, gagged, tied to a chair and dotted with colorful bruises. He’s been doing this for almost six years now and seeing innocents touched up like that—it still gets to him, gets his blood boiling.

He snaps his fingers as to show them some sort of realization.

“Let me guess. Is this a Febreeze commercial?”

Goon #1 looks like he’s about to make a terrible decision and lunge, when there’s a static noise only Spider-Man can pick up. Something crackles in the air from somewhere behind the girl, looking steadily more miserable, a poor quality sound even he has trouble discerning. One of the goons goes to the source of it—a battered but fully functional radio transmitter.

It’s a song.

Here I go, here I go, here I go again (again?)
Girls, what's my weakness? (Men!)

Spider-Man freezes. Suddenly everything around him stills and everything within him explodes, not just because this is not the time—he knows that song, he knows the lyrics to it by heart.

The guys finally freak out at the fact that Spider-Man is in front of them and about to spoil their plan, flinging loud curses at each other. Goon #1 suggests taking him on and Spider-Man dubs him the dumbest of the three, rightfully so when Goons #2 and #3 start screaming at him. The song plays on.

Shoop shoop ba-doop shoop ba-doop
Shoop ba-doop ba-doop
Ba-doop shoop ba-doop shoop
Ba-doop shoop ba-doop, ba-doop, ba-doop

Just as he feels anticipation snap, a red and black figure swings out of somewhere into the scene, guns and swords ablazing.

And singing along the words imprinted on the skin of his left wrist.

Ooooh, you’re packed and you're stacked 'specially in the back
Brother, wanna thank your mother for a butt like that!

And wreaking absolute havoc. The guys don’t even have time to wisely make a break for it—because who wouldn’t—before the whole thing turns into a whirlwind of blood and gore.

Can I get some fries with that shake-shake boobie?
If looks could kill you—” Goon #3 goes down with a sword up his guts, “Would be an uzi—

Peter reacts on instinct when Goon #2 stumbles towards him. He kicks him right in the solar plexus, and right into a chokehold.

You're a shotgun, bang!” a gunshot to his head, “What's up with that thang?

They’re the lyrics to the song, but the mercenary never seems to let Peter off his sight as he keeps singing and finishes up the job. Goon #1 flops down, lifeless and messy. Peter can suddenly smell the sharp, sour tang of piss.

I wanna know how does it hang?
Straight up, wait up, hold up, Mr. Lover
Like Prince said you're a sexy mutha—

The corpses are laid in a bloody pile, overstepped in favor of the transmitter going back to its alleged owner. Said owner proceeds into tucking away his weapons and untying the poor girl from the chair and gently patting her on the shoulders after cladding them in a jacket he produces from God knows where and steps away to give her some space while she collects herself.

Of course, that means he’s turned to Peter now, who for the life of him cannot move. He doesn’t think he can.

“Man. You don’t know how much I’ve been dying to meet you.”

Oh my God. There’s a joke there, he knows it.

“It’s like you’re running from me! The few times I do see you, you just slip away before I can go up and say hi. Seriously, I blink” he snaps his fingers, “And you’re gone. Like an actual spider. Ha.”

Oh my god.

He places his hands behind his back, primly, but he looks like he can barely contain his giddiness.

“Also.” How is his mask doing that, how is his mask leering at him. “It’s as great as they say, by the way. Looks even better up close.”

Oh my God. Peter keeps quiet. It would be a choice, but it’s not.

“Anyway.” He sticks out one hand. “Great to finally meet you, Spidey.”

The hand is covered in blood. Oh my God. Peter shakes it nonetheless, and he hears him laugh. He does not think about how oddly pleasant it sounds or how his wrist tingles in response.

“Cat got your tongue? Or cat eat your tongue, in this case. A cat would kill and eat a spider, wouldn’t it? Anyway, I was expecting to hear Spider-Man’s sharp-tongue tonight.” He waggles his eyebrows at this.

Half-heartedly, Spider-Man slips back into role and nods his head. He absolutely says nothing and goes to the poor girl waiting for one of them to escort her home, and continues to do so even as he hears more absent-minded talking.

Oh my God. His soulmate is Deadpool. This is a nightmare.

 As it turns out, Deadpool got hired by the rich ex-boyfriend to kidnap the girl and torture her if she refused to take him back. Deadpool took the money, shot the guy’s head and went off to track his friends so he could kill them too.

Peter doesn’t know what to take away from that, but a stubborn little voice in the back of his head goes, at least he’s got some morals.

 It becomes a thing.

After the warehouse incident, Deadpool is always there. It’s like the carefully stacked dominoes of Peter’s life are knocked over in very quick succession, because Deadpool is always there.

Spider-Man is chasing down a pickpocketer and Deadpool is pointing at shortcuts from his perch on some building. Spider-Man is beating up a bankrobber and Deadpool is clapping on like some ridiculous high school cheerleader. Spider-Man is cooling down a hostage situation and Deadpool is shooting hands that hold weapons.

That last one still has Peter a tad miffed, and thereafter he was livid and on the very edge of a tongue-lashing. Deadpool knows of his firm ‘no killing, crippling, torturing and so on’ policy. He knows, and he still does what he does.

Spider-Man said nothing, did nothing but spare a glance at where the mercenary stood with his sniper rifle and fume on the inside as he recalled the man’s anguished screams and the blast of blood. He did nothing but count every rescued hostage and leave the feds to handle the rest.

He never says a word when Deadpool pops around.

 In his defense, the moment he does is warranted.

It’s more often than he’d like that he stumbles upon rape scenes. He always knows it’s one blocks away, before he even swings into the alley and gives the asshole a swift kick to the head. And he always lets himself go on these types of situation, sees red everywhere.

So when Deadpool joins in on kicking the absolute crap out of the guy, Spider-Man throws one last punch and leaves him to it, knowing whatever is about to befall the piece of shit is an armageddon Spider-Man can’t deliver, but Deadpool certainly can.

He’s checking over the poor woman, relieved that the guy hadn’t even managed what he was going for other than ripping some of her clothes, when he catches the end of Deadpool’s rant, “—and there’s only one thing worse than a rapist—”

And quips back, “A child!” out of reflex.

Deadpool stops punching—and Peter was right, the man’s face is swollen, purple, unsalvageable—to stare back at him. Subsequently, there’s a groan and a body hitting the dirty concrete, but the merc doesn’t even waver. He’s staring straight at Peter, the mask unreadable for a change.

Spider-Man dials nine-one-one and gives them his location, bids farewell to the woman despite her pleas for him to stay and webs his way away, away, away.

He’s going to give Ned and Shuri so much hell for this.

 One particular night, he sets up watch on a section of the city he’s never even been to as a civilian. He’s not running, except that he is. And there’s something tight in his chest, draining all the fight, draining all but the low-simmering anxiety.

Ergo, he keeps to surveillance and eats his deli from Mr. Delmar’s, texts Ned a string of nonsensical emojis because he can and thinks about how he’ll get started on his next paper—college is wild—with all those extra hours he’s doing for Jameson. He resolutely does not think about his soulmate and how much Deadpool he is.

But Peter… is Peter Parker. Of course that whole plan is shot straight to hell.

“A vine. A fucking vine.”

Peter pauses in his chewing, rolling his mask back down over his jaw, even if his back is what’s turned to Deadpool. The chill in the air turns suddenly sharp.

“Well, would you rather have the first verse to a freaking Salt-N-Pepa song?”

“What kind of question is that. Of course I would, Sandra Denton is a queen and whoever says different can eat a big bag of dicks. A huge bag of dicks. One of those huge, sack bags with colorful dildos in—”

Jesus, yeah, point taken.”

He meant to sound annoyed, but laughs instead. The sound cuts through the underlying tension, melts it outright. Deadpool approaches him, steps slow and quiet. Peter lets him, fiddles with his phone as the merc settles at a respectable distance, eyes always on the evermoving city before them.

“I.” Deadpool pauses and doesn’t talk for some time, which in itself is a red flag. “Look, I get it. I wouldn’t wanna be saddled with a psychotic killer whose face looks like it was fossilized then reconstructed with wet newspapers, either.”

Peter blinks. Oh.

“I just…” Deadpool trails off again. “We could… ah, fucking shit on a pogo stick.”

The merc sighs , drags his hands down his face, and Peter realizes how much of an asshole he’s been. Deadpool is… Deadpool, to say the least, but there is a person under the suit, a broken man with a broken mind.

Just as he starts to get up, Peter slides over his bag of chips.

“I’m Peter.”

Deadpool freezes so abruptly it’s almost amusing. He’s staring at Spider-Man, open and hopeful, like he can’t believe what he’s been given, and Peter stares right back with a smile, despite the mask and the dark.

Deadpool takes the chips.