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If You Ask No Questions

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If You Ask No Questions

Part 2 of Dead Men Walking

This isn’t what Peter should be doing when out on patrol.

Patrolling is for Spider-Man to exercise the great responsibility that comes along with his power. Patrol is for saving people and cleaning up the streets so that New Yorkers can walk back from their jobs in peace, knowing that their safety is being looked after by someone capable.

But it’s ten o’clock on a Thursday evening and Peter isn’t even keeping one ear open for cries of help. Instead, he’s plastered to the brick wall of a high-rise in Carnegie Hill, hovering just under a windowsill on the fortieth floor and shrouded in shadows like the spider he is. With studious intent, he peeks through the glass and into the condominium.

It’s a beautiful home, decorated with antique pieces that Peter can’t place. Clean and well-maintained, it almost looks like a museum, save for the sobbing woman sitting in a crimson settee.

Peter’s heart twists uncomfortably as he watches her long flaxen hair shiver with each heave of her shoulders.

Mrs. Goldstein looks devastated.

When she lifts her head to gaze listlessly at the fireplace, Peter almost retreats further into the shadows. He wants nothing more than to hide. The guilt he feels is overwhelming.

In her living room, Mrs. Goldstein delicately dabs at her nose with a cloth handkerchief. For a moment, it seems as though her sobs are going to stop. But she just breathes in a shaky breath, then bursts out into tears—these even more violent than the last. The tears roll down her face into the lace collar of her fitted dress and her husband, in his suit with a broken expression, walks up behind her to press a hand to her hair in comfort.

They’re both dressed in black. Mourning.

Rightly so.

Esther’s memorial service had taken place just this afternoon. The cemetery had been brimming with visitors. Almost as busy as the reception had been afterward. Esther was only a little girl; she hadn’t had the chance to meet many people in her short life. However, Esther’s parents were well connected. The Goldsteins’ wealth seemed to have beckoned funeral-goers more than honey does flies. Masses of people, dressed in black and adorned with gold, had been in attendance to pay respect to Esther’s memory.

It warmed Peter as much as it disgusted him.

That so many people would take time out of their busy lives to remember someone was baffling to Peter, who could count the number of people he interacted with on one hand. That so many people could even bear to lay a flower on Esther’s coffin, knowing she’d died tragically, but unwilling to find the culprit, made Peter sick.

How could they put her to rest when her killer was still out there?

Peter’s not naïve.

Stark Tower crumbled. With it, the bodies—dead, dead, dead; all his fault; God, they had jobs, they had friends, they had family, but they deserved it—researchers or whoever they were, burned to ashes alongside the nine children they tortured. All in flames. No bodies to recover.

But also, no resolution.

Peter doesn’t even know who was inside of the building when he and Deadpool had gone inside on a failed rescue mission. He doesn’t know what their names were. He doesn’t know what goals they had. He doesn’t know who their leader was.

Inside the living room, Mrs. Goldstein wipes at her face and gets up. She’s hunched over, looking twice her age, as she shakes her head and leaves, presumably to get ready for another night in a world where her daughter is gone. It’s the bathroom, Peter guesses. In his head, he conjures an image of Esther, snotty-nosed and petulant sitting on a toilet holding a tattered Elmo doll. It’s fake, of course, nothing but Peter’s imagination. But the image strikes him so hard that he can’t breathe. He can almost feel the cold tile under her feet and the soft fabric of Elmo’s body in her small hands.

Mr. Goldstein watches her go, hand swiping over his face harshly.

Behind Peter, just a half a block down is a car accident. Peter hears the screech of tires, then a metallic crunch. Blinking, he turns to face toward the sounds, just when he hears two doors slam and two sets of voices start screaming out abuse at each other.

No one’s hurt then.

When Peter turns back to the window, he sees Mr. Goldstein going to the door with a harried look on his face.

Peter shifts a bit to see him properly.

Mr. Goldstein is rather short. His strides, in turn, are rather short. When he walks to the door, he takes fast little steps, looks into the peephole, then pulls his hair in frustration. He opens the door carefully and seems to whisper a greeting.

Peter can’t quite hear him through the wall. He might have picked up a word or two if the sirens of police cars, no doubt answering the calls of the car accident behind him, weren’t so loud in his ear.

Peter doesn’t particularly want to hear though. He doesn’t know what he’d do if he knew the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Goldstein—if they were humanized even more in his head than they already are. Peter is barely keeping it together as it is. It’s a good thing Aunt May had to cancel their most recent dinner date for a doctor’s appointment; Peter’s mind has been a cyclone lately, he can’t even sit still now.

Mr. Goldstein appears to be apologetic, gesturing toward the bathroom where his wife is likely showering.

Despite that, the person in the doorway walks through it and enters the living room with an air of familiarity. Face sullen and tired, Mr. Goldstein allows it and closes the door, moving to a bar cart in the side of the room to fix them drinks. After a moment of shuffling, Mr. Goldstein turns around with a cup of strong liquor in each hand.

He pushes one at his guest and then throws his own back quickly.

Peter watches as Mr. Goldstein’s guest, a man with dark skin, symmetrical features, and gel-slicked hair, frowns in response. Peter doesn’t blame him. Mr. Goldstein may not be crying, but he still looks a mess. He looks almost as bad as Peter feels.

Peter watches them talk with a heavy heart.

This is clearly a man who came to offer his condolences to the Goldsteins. Peter feels annoyance—no, severe distaste—as he regards the man. He doesn’t care who it is. It could be Esther’s uncle or teacher or someone who never met her that is using the opportunity to shimmy his way into the good graces of the upper class. What’s wrong with people? Don’t they understand that others need time to mourn?

He feels anger on behalf of the Goldstein family.

They’ve already been through so much.

Mr. Goldstein must feel the same way because he has a distinctive snarl on his face. He nods politely, shakes the man’s hand, then escorts him out the door. Mr. Goldstein, now with two glasses in his hand, takes Mrs. Goldstein’s abandoned seat in the settee.

He tosses back the second drink. Then he stands and promptly throws both glasses at the wall.

Peter flinches even though he can’t hear them shatter.

Mr. Goldstein’s face twists into a silent scream. He looks frustrated. Peter watches as he walks away from the floor where the glasses are lying broken. He walks toward a bookcase, one hand rubbing his neck and the other reaching out to trace the spines of books.

Peter can’t see them well from where he is at the window. But he can see a few familiar ones. Iconic covers that he recognizes even though it’s been years since he’s seen them. There’s definitely a trio of A Series of Unfortunate Events, a set of Harry Potter books, four Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. Children’s books, he notes with a frown, watching as Mr. Goldstein picks up a green book.

Esther’s, of course.

Peter can almost see her now, her grin bright at the chance to delve into a fantasy world for story time with her father. Tales of magic and rings and orcs—Peter knows they would have entranced Esther.

That’s enough, he thinks. He has things to do. Spider-Man has patrolling to do. Peter may have failed to bring Esther home, but Spider-Man still has the opportunity to prevent some crimes from even happening. He just needs to focus. Needs to get out there, walk the streets, and pay attention.

It’s been a month since Stark Tower fell.

Peter needs to stop coming here every night to grieve with the Goldsteins. It’s more than disrespectful. All Peter can think of is blonde hair, a butterfly clip, and a purple stain. A little girl who died on his watch. Every thought is one tinged with shame.

No, Peter doesn’t get to come here at night to mourn for his own failures.

God, what’s wrong with him? A little girl is dead by a stranger’s hand and all Peter has found is the enormity of his egotism.

Peter rips himself away from the window and uses a web to drop himself to ground. There’s not much reason to, but he starts to walk to the opening to stop by the accident scene. Just to make sure everyone’s alright. He can always do his duty in the form of mediation.

Just as he goes to step forward when he sees something out of the corner of his eye. Jumping, he jerks around, hands ready for a fight and a swell of adrenaline sizzling in his veins.

There’s silence.

Nothing.

Just air.

And then an alley cat darts out from behind a dumpster, mewling in distress.

Dropping his arms, Peter sighs. He falls to one knee, looking at the cat. It’s black with white feet and keen green eyes that regard him with caution.

“Hi, there.” Peter gently reaches out to it. Spider-Man could do some good by bringing this beauty to the shelter. “You want to come with me?”

But as he reaches for the cat, it hisses loudly, back arched and hair at attention. It turns and runs away, out of the alley and into the street.

Peter watches it go and his shoulders fall.

“Or not,” he frowns.

When Peter webs away, he feels dead exhausted but exhilarated nonetheless as he weaves between buildings. He hopes what they say about black cats isn’t true.

Peter doesn’t need to be any more unlucky.

-

Peter’s just on his way back to his apartment when he gets a text.

Passed a bus of Korean tourists on my way to the penthouse.
Maybe you could stop to take some selfies with them?

It’s from Mr. Stark who, after Peter had nearly been burned alive from a generator malfunction in a building of his creation (yes, that’s the currently accepted theory), has been consistently sending Spider-Man suggestions during patrol. Like Spider-Man can’t find his own crimes to fight.

Miraculously, Peter had only seen Mr. Stark once after the whole fiasco; just two days later, he had been picked up in an Escalade and dumped off at Mr. Stark’s penthouse to be berated for two hours straight. Mr. Stark had yelled and shouted until he turned blue. He’d drank and cursed, asking why Peter had disobeyed him. What had Peter been thinking? Why hadn’t Peter just listened? Didn’t Peter know how dangerous that was? All questions that Peter had been too ashamed to answer by voice, but had faced resolutely in body language. Peter stood by what he did. He—and Deadpool and Weasel—had saved one life. One, precious life. It had been worth it. It would have been worth it even if the building collapsed on Peter’s head.

And Mr. Stark had disagreed, rather violently, for two whole hours. Before he clasped Peter on the back with one hand in a manly hug. Peter had been touched by the teary-eyed look of steel Mr. Stark had given him. And then Peter had understood.

Mr. Stark’s anger had stemmed from his worry. His worry for Peter.

Peter had gratefully returned the gesture by giving the man an enthusiastic hug. Mr. Stark was more than a man, after all. He was Peter’s mentor. A waspish, mercurial, alcoholic mentor, but his mentor nonetheless. Mr. Stark was Peter Parker’s and Spider-Man’s inspiration no matter what and that was the soggy heart of the artichoke. The awkward hug had been short, but so meaningful that Peter’s growing self-pity from Mr. Stark’s vicious reprimanding had vanished.

Mr. Stark had promptly shut down the affection by slipping away with a grumble. Then the two of them had discussed the fine details of Peter’s findings. Giving very little credit to Deadpool and Weasel, Peter had confessed all he could. He told Mr. Stark nearly everything: the hacking, the breaking into the laboratory, the saving of that curly-haired child. But he didn’t utter one peep about Wade or Weasel’s involvement, other than them identifying the Ganicore truck at the scene of one of the so-called murders.

Peter wishes he didn’t know why he felt compelled to leave their assistance out, but he knew very well why he chose to. Peter didn’t want Mr. Stark to find out how extensively they helped because he didn’t want any reason for Mr. Stark to take Wade away from him.

One wrong word, one wrong wording of how this all went down and Mr. Stark would merrily toss the two behind the bars of a SHIELD prison quicker than he could protest. It was clear from the beginning that Mr. Stark looked unfavorably upon Deadpool and any of his associates. Hence, how Peter met the two of them in the first place. Peter couldn’t tell Mr. Stark about them. Especially now that Peter had so much to lose.

Mr. Stark seemed to accept the information Peter doled out, half nodding and half chugging a bottle of wine at a frightening pace.

After that, he kicked Peter out of his penthouse, saying that he’d look into things and Peter’s job was finished.

No more investigating. No more undercover. “Good mission, Parker, consider it completed. Off you get, back to the friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man.”

And that was that.

Mr. Stark had been busy ever since, somehow roped into dealing with the press and minutia of the Stark Tower fall, despite the fact that he didn’t own it anymore.

Now, Peter gets text messages every two days with stupid requests.

Old lady at 5 th and Ross St, needs to cross.
How quick can you be there?
Green light
in 4 seconds.

Cat in tree in Central Park. Go retrieve.
Might be opossum?
Still needs help.

Very explicit PDA near Saks 5 th Ave,
Report promptly.

NO--On second thought, nvm
homeless lady trying to buy a hot dog
near 125
th  bring some change.

Don’t go to Saks.
Nix that.

All harmless, Boy Scout endeavors that needed tending to. Peter didn’t mind rushing to complete them all, but as Spider-Man, he’d learned over the years that he had to prioritize how he spent his time. Because he worked at Mr. Delmar’s during the day, Peter could only be Spider-Man by night. That meant, he had to spend his hours wisely. He spent as much of his time as he could taking down major crimes; trying to make a difference. It’s Spider-Man’s duty to spy an armed robbery and intervene, even before the police do. And because he’d spent so much of his time on this case at Sister Margaret’s or doing research, Peter tried to make up for it now by working twice as hard. Mr. Delmar had insisted he cut his work hours down to eight hours a day, five days a week. While Peter had been frustrated with the pay cut, he’d been happy to start patrol earlier than usual to get Spider-Man out on the streets more.

So Peter does all he can, throwing in a few self-pity sessions here and there while playing Peeping Tom at the Goldstein’s. The suggestions are enough to keep him busy when his mind starts spiraling into darkness and his thoughts begin to fixate on memories of dead children, shriveled and rigid from rigor mortis.

When he’s chasing down purse nappers and corner-lurking drug dealers, sometimes, he can’t help but feel an all-consuming sense that he’s misplaced in his own body. Sometimes, he runs and web slings like a machine, like he’s out of control, his body doing the work, but his mind absent. He lets the adrenaline rush fuel and guide him. He jumps from building to building with desperation. He tosses a handsy pickpocket too roughly at the police’s doorstep. Peter reasons he has to. If he doesn’t, he blinks twice and suddenly he’s back at Stark Tower, face to face with the shells of innocents who he’d done nothing for.

Peter can’t just sit around, staring vigilantly into the night. He needs action; some measurable success. He craves it so badly—it’s atonement, though he can’t make himself admit it—that he can’t focus during the day anymore. He’s restless. Anxious. Thrumming with energy that can’t be placated. He can’t sleep or work in peace. He can’t talk to Aunt May or Wade without a voice in his head reminding himself of his failures or that he needs to do better.

God, Peter misses them both. But he can’t face either of them. Aunt May, who’s so civilian and mundane, she couldn’t begin to understand the mess that is Peter. And Wade.

Wade, who evokes such strong feelings in Peter that it’s scary. It has Peter tugging his hair in frustration at night after patrol, trying to come to terms with the emotional revelation in the scheme of all that’s happened.

So, yes. Between his self-assigned tasks, he fulfills Mr. Stark’s requests, even if they invoke a disproportionate wave of annoyance in him. He needs to keep busy, in body and mind. He needs to do his job. That includes Mr. Stark’s assignments too, even if they are crap.

That opossum hadn’t wanted any help.

-

Four days later, Peter breaks, of course.

He’s not that strong of a person anyway.

Peter has just finished a shift at the Deli-Grocery and he’s running into a Manhattan apartment building. He gives a quick wave to the doorman who can’t be bothered to tear his eyes away from his magazine and slips into the elevator just as the doors are about to close.

Pressing on the button for the fourteenth floor, he squirms restlessly with anticipation. The woman with caramel hair next to him, dressed in a smart suit, eyes him distastefully from behind her Blackberry phone.

Peter doesn’t blame her.

He’d barely had time to change out of his uniform. He’d kept the khakis and tossed on a threadbare flannel. Combined with his worn converse, wet from the residual snow outside, Peter looks extravagantly out of place. If he’s lucky, she’ll write him off as some CEO’s rebellious son. He gets out before her and jets down the hallway to knock fervently at the door closest to the stairwell.

Peter only gets three knocks out before the door is swinging open and there he is, standing in his sweats.

“Baby boy,” he laughs around a toothy smile, “Well, bless my soul! Ain’t you a sight for sore eyes?”

Wade.

Peter doesn’t let himself think, he just leaps up and wraps himself around Wade like an octopus. Wade catches him easily, turning around into the apartment, and kicking the door shut behind him.

“Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater. Fuck, baby,” Wade says lightly before his tone darkens with unchecked emotion. “I missed you. Let’s not do that again, m’kay?”

Peter shudders at the feel of Wade’s strong arms wrapping around him like a cocoon. He tucks his face right into Wade’s neck, nodding in agreement, and allowing himself a moment to just relax as Wade carries his weight. Peter tightens his arms around Wade’s shoulders. His legs squeeze around Wade’s waist, not unlike a snake fresh from out of the cold, trying to wind his way closer to Wade, to burrow into his warmth.

“I’m sorry,” Peter whispers into the scarred skin beneath his nose. He nuzzles it as if to demonstrate his apology. “So many things came up.”

And they had.

He hasn’t seen Wade for almost three weeks. It’s true that Wade hasn’t been in his life for very long. Peter should have found it easy to go even a week without seeing him. But it had only taken three days for Peter’s body to feel like it was operating without a vital organ.

Just a half a week after Peter revealed his name to Wade (and, God, hadn’t that felt like a homecoming) Peter’s rational mind urged him to feel frightened, to be wary. Giving Peter Parker up to Wade was just one hop, skip, and a jump away from giving him Spider-Man. But at the moment, it had just felt right. In the face of Wade’s bravery—his sacrifice, his choice to show Peter himself without a mask, giving up Peter’s name had been an unworthy reciprocal. But Peter’s name was the only thing he had to offer in return.

Peter’s heard the stories about summer romances. He went to high school, he’s seen movies, he’s read books, and he does shell out the money for a Netflix account. First loves are ephemeral. Little wisps that grow their wings quickly, fly daringly high into the sky, then fade in its vastness in a heartbeat. Peter couldn’t count how many times someone at Midtown had fallen head over heels for a girl, certain they were soulmates, before dumping them a week later with a fed-up look on their face. Peter had always wondered if they knew it was coming; if somewhere in the base of their subconscious, they knew they were being typical teenagers, whose romance was more in their heads than it was in reality. Peter’s not sure.

Is this what Wade is for Peter? Is he Peter’s first requited crush? Is that why Peter feels so strongly for Wade and aches to be with him when they’re separated? It does sound rather cheesy.

Peter wants to say: yes, that’s all this is. Wade is fun, he’s exciting, he’s the first person who Peter’s ever been attracted to so zealously. He’s Peter’s first sex partner. Of course, Peter gets excited when he thinks about Wade. Isn’t this all very textbook? The Student Health pamphlets would agree.

But the more Peter ruminates on it—and oh, does he ruminate; the Pleather Crisis Couch™ has seen much action after work and in-between patrol—the more Peter’s coming to the unsettling conclusion that the textbook description just doesn’t quite fit him.

Sure, it fits everything that Peter thinks about when he’s restocking items and wondering what Wade’s doing, how’s Wade feeling, does Wade miss him, does Wade think about him too, God, he wants to blow him—take a breather, Parker. Peter feels like his head’s going to explode from his near-obsessive thoughts about Wade Wilson. His libido, too.

However, Peter’s always been more rational than his peers. More serious, he likes to think, in the ways that matter. He’s not a teenager anymore, and while he respects that this situation is new for him, the books never have characters like Peter in them.

Peter isn’t just Peter Parker. He’s Spider-Man. He just spent three months of his time chasing down a freak, government-approved, child-murdering organization. These aren’t things that normal twenty-year-olds do in their spare time. Normal twenty-year-olds are at college, building their careers and meeting their love interests at parties. Peter found his love interest at an underground bar where he was trying to scope out  a serial killer. And he’s completely ignoring the little detail that he thought his love interest was the serial killer.

Nothing about that is normal.

But then again, lots of meet-cutes aren’t necessarily normal. Not that his first meeting with Deadpool had been cute in any sense of the word. More like, terrifying and full of anxiety because Peter thought one wrong word might earn him a bullet to the cranium.

Wade’s just different. Peter’s just different. He doesn’t want Wade around solely so he can be the recipient of toe-curling kisses, although the kisses make Peter’s head spin. Peter, as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, want Wade and Deadpool around because Peter wants to learn. He wants to bask in everything that is Wade, in the least creepy way possible. Everything about the Deadpool artichoke reins Peter in on a helpless leash. Dossier Deadpool, in the words of Mr. Stark, is just the tip of Wade Wilson’s iceberg. The more Peter learns about Wade, the more he finds himself needing to dive deeper under the water to get a better look.

Wade is something special, for a lack of a better word. He’s so vastly different from Peter, so vastly different than Spider-Man, that with roundabout skepticism, Peter questions if they’re really that different at all. All that is Deadpool and Wade draws Peter in and has from the moment he met him. It might have remained a polite, academic interest if Peter hadn’t connected so strongly with him. Sure, the initial attraction had been there. Peter had taken one look at Wade’s body versus his own, and he had hyperventilated; it was all MTV’s Beauty and the Geek on steroids.

But Wade understood Peter without even knowing who Peter was. He could read Peter like a free Kindle book: effortlessly. Wade’s perceptiveness was almost startling in its intensity. At first, it had felt like an attack. Then it felt like a benediction. Peter’s a complicated guy. He’s never had anyone understand him so easily, even his Aunt May, who raised him. Even Ned or Mr. Stark, both of whom knew Peter’s most coveted secret.

Wade looks at him, sees all of him, but accepts only what Peter gives him.

It’s mystifying.

Peter lives in a world where he’s constantly at battle. As Peter Parker, he battles his civilian problems: saving money, struggling to live in an expensive world, while not sacrificing his dreams. As Spider-Man, he battles the slime that haunts the streets, trying to use his mutation to make New York City a safe place. And all the time, he’s at war trying to make the two dipoles of his identity equalize into one. Peter never feels safe. Some part of his life is always being under fire, whether it be from an outside source or from himself.

Yet, with Wade, Peter feels immeasurably safe. It must be for reasons that he can’t comprehend, because the more he thinks about it, the more he gets a headache. He can, and has, spent too many hours pouring over this. Trying to dissect his feelings for Wade. But each dissection doesn’t cut deep enough. Every reason he looks for is superficial. The reasons must be there, but the right scalpel hasn’t presented itself yet.

So Peter’s done hiding from what he can’t understand. He brooded for weeks. A ball of emo in-between upping his patrol hours, working at the Deli-Grocery, and dealing with texts from a very concerned Aunt May who’s been too busy to see him, but not too busy to use her parenting powers to realize Peter’s having a rough time.

And completely unsurprisingly, Wade hadn’t mentioned it.

Wade hadn’t bombarded him with questions or called him incessantly. He never made an attempt to find out where Peter was or to track him down, demanding to know the reason behind Peter’s sudden absence from their previously intertwined life.

All Peter got was a few light-hearted text messages. The world’s worst knock-knock jokes, a few dog pictures, and startlingly good questions challenging social norms. Peter had responded once in a while. Wade never complained.

Then when Peter couldn’t take it anymore—when he felt like an addict going cold turkey, jittery, worn, and feeling ghost impressions of Wade’s body against his, Peter had texted a simple: Can I come over tonight?

He breaks.

Peter’s been trying to fill his head with work, to push his restless body to its limits during patrol. Anything to not think of emotion-heavy subjects like Stark Tower, the one remaining boy, or Wade, who for some reason, Peter can’t help but feel unworthy to even be near. Peter Parker, Spider-Man, whoever he is, he’s a joke. Peter’s the one with a hero reputation, but Deadpool is the one that made a difference last month. Peter’s not jealous or angry. He’s fascinated by Deadpool. But he’s also mortified and angry with himself for not realizing whole Kindika mission earlier.

It’s not like it had been a real mystery. If Peter had sat down and thought, just used his brain like the smart guy his test scores hint at him being, he would have figured out those children were being taken for mutant research. It’s always for mutant research—that’s the hot topic now, that’s where advances in science are happening, and what grant funding is going to. Peter is an idiot. He could have saved the children if he had only tried harder.

Deadpool basically cleaned up Spider-Man’s mess.

Peter is embarrassed. And he can’t even tell Wade because he’s still hiding his identity from him. So, in conclusion, Peter is embarrassed and he’s an asshole.

Realizing that, in conjunction with the little, developing wisp in his heart (Peter will not say any of the L words, including like, like-like, or love, because he is not a teenage girl and this is not Twilight) that throbs painfully with the sheer galactic amount of emotion he feels for Wade, has inexperienced Peter freaking out. His panic attacks have panic attacks.

Hence, he has been childishly avoiding Wade for three weeks.

Until he physically could not do it anymore.

He breaks and texts Wade, this close to begging Wade to let him come over. He just wants to be around Wade, just bask in Wade’s safety and affection. It would make everything better, even if only for a moment, right? Peter needs him, even if he doesn’t deserve him.

Reading the affirmative response had Peter sinking into a puddle of relief. God, he hadn’t messed this up. He can’t mess this up; he doesn’t know what he would do. This isn’t the first time Peter’s felt astonished by Wade’s leniency. Peter always thought relationships were tangled, delicate things that break into fights at the drop of a hat.

But Wade is still nothing like he expected. He never is. Which is good for Peter, because he’s clumsy at heart. He drops many metaphorical hats.

And now, clinging to Wade, he silently asks for comfort and reassurance to a rainbow of problems he can’t bring himself to voice. Wade does nothing but give. Peter could cry just from this.

Wade’s hand trails up Peter’s back and cards through his messy hair. Peter melts further into their embrace, soothed with a soft hum vibrating against him pacifyingly.

Peter has so many things on his mind. His name is Peter Parker. He is Spider-Man. He’s sorry he made Deadpool fix his mistake. He’s sorry he’s too emotionally immature and inexperienced to come to terms with his affection for Wade in a reasonable time frame. He’s sorry that he thinks too much and wastes all his time mentally searching for answers to questions that don’t exist. He’s sorry he makes a big deal of everything.

It’s a lot of apologizing. Peter’s aware there’s probably forms of counseling for someone like him.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Wade murmurs into his hairline.

The heaviness behind the question is unmistakable like Wade knows exactly why Peter had taken time to himself. Peter’s not fooling anyone. Wade probably does know. It’s just like Peter that he can’t bring himself to say it. Can’t bring himself to say: no, he’s thought about all of his problems, but he can’t find what he was unconsciously looking for—a way to tell Wade everything without repercussion or fear of rejection.

Peter shrugs, the movement rubbing his chest against Wade’s deliciously.

Wade hums again, thoughtfully in response, and walks them to the couch. He drops down, pausing to rearrange Peter on his lap. Wade grabs a blanket, that Peter recognizes from the bedroom, from one end of the red couch and tosses it over them, creating a little nest, something that Peter never realized he needed in his life.

Like this, Wade feels like a warm, protective suit of armor that Peter needs to be shielded from himself. Swaddled in Wade and blankets, Peter feels like he’s in a swathe of security. Like nothing else exists or matters.

It feels like the calm Peter’s been chasing for months now. Years, maybe.

Peter’s silent for the next hour, encased in Wade’s arms like an overgrown child that wants to hide from the world. His thoughts are whittled away by Wade’s sturdy presence and the soundtrack of Arrested Development.

-

Their contented silence is broken by the door clamoring open carelessly and a voice that Peter really didn’t want to hear ringing loudly.

“We got shafted.”

Peter doesn’t even know what that means, but he jumps from his spot in their nest. Wade, who doesn’t move a muscle other than to press a firm hand on Peter’s waist keeping him where he is, laughs at Michael Bluth’s self-deprecating face on the television.

“Are you fucking listening to me, Sir Dicks-around-a-lot?”

Peter cringes as Weasel makes his way unapologetically through the kitchen and into the living room where he grinds to a halt just beyond the couch, smacking his hands up to cover his eyes, and groaning as though he’s being scalped.

“Oh, Jesus!” Weasel cries out, turning like a vampire hiding from the sun. “You didn’t tell me you were Netflix and chilling! I wouldn’t have come by!”

Peter jumps again, face heating, and pushing at Wade’s arms which do nothing but lock around him. This really isn’t the time to feel any arousal, so Peter takes a fleeting moment to look wistfully at Wade’s taught muscles, like iron around him.

He takes back everything he just thought. Wade’s a crappy shield if he can’t keep Weasel at bay.

Peter frowns in growing dismay.

Wade finally turns to Weasel’s crouched form. “I thought not giving you this address was enough to keep you from coming by.”

“It was a brilliant effort; definitely earned a certificate of participation,” from behind his hands still, Weasel speaks, “It took four tries and some negotiation, but I finally got Dopinder to crack. Why the hell does he want my taser?”

“A battle of love is upon him,” Wade replies ominously, then finally raises one hand, batting it in the air at Weasel like he’s swatting a fruit fly. “Go the fuck away, I’m busy.”

Weasel makes a retching sound. “God, I can fucking see that. No, no! I actually can’t. I have my blindfold on. I can’t see a thing, trying to save whatever sanity I have left. Please, don’t have man-sex in front of me. I’ll never get the stain of it out from my eyes.”

“Out, damned spot. Out, I say!” Wade replies, eyes now glued to the television.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Peter screeches—Wade laughs uproariously at that, smacking one hand over his mouth, looking at Peter with comic disbelief. Peter shoves his way out of Wade’s lap. “We’re not having sex!”

“Are you sure? I know under the blanket is probably a little vanilla for you two, but I’m not putting it past you to be having some sweet, tender, disgusting make-up sex right now. I think I saw a candle when I walked in? I don’t want to witness your perverted version of sexytimes.”

“We all know you’re an eyeball queen, Weas,” Wade comments.

“No one is having sex!” Peter bristles, confiscating the blanket from a pouting Wade and wrapping it around himself like it might offer him some relief from the wart that is Weasel. He wiggles his way to the other end of the couch, at a safe public distance from Wade.

He had been so content just a few moments ago.

It was going to be a good night. Things change so quickly. This is a perfect example of why Peter needs to start taking the present into his hands. Stop worrying so much about the past and future.

Life lesson, Parker.

Weasel seems to chance a quick look at them. His face is comically creased like he’s preparing to be scarred. But when he catches sight of Peter and Wade on opposite ends of the couch, he seems to relax a bit, uncoiling loose and languid in front of them. Comfortable in his own skin. Peter feels both reverence and the need to scoff at his confidence.

“Good to see you, Mouse,” he then says, cordially.

Peter feels a grimace on his face. “Hi, Weasel.”

He has conflicting feels about Weasel. On one hand, he sees the man who is clearly Wade’s friend. They have a history that’s largely untapped to Peter. Weasel’s the man who helped him find Ganicore, hack into Kindika, and aided his breaking and entering into Stark Tower. He’s even the man who tried to give Peter comfort when Wade had been blown to smithereens in a bomb of his own design. Or had Weasel done those things because Wade had asked?

And that’s the problem with Weasel.

Wade’s jumped to Peter’s rescue quite literally.

Weasel seems to have some sense of loyalty. But none of it is to Peter. All of it is to Wade. Peter is only safe around Weasel in Wade’s shadow.

That sort of loyalty, loyalty by extension, is one that crumbles quickly in the right circumstances. What circumstances? Peter’s not sure. He doesn’t want to find out. Peter has to play cautiously around Weasel.

Weasel turns to Wade. “Lady Macbeth,” he says grandly, then sneers. “We got shafted.”

Wade sighs, pauses Arrested Development and shifts his entire body to face Weasel. With his undivided attention on him, he demands rather than requests, “Elaborate.”

Weasel eyes Peter pointedly, but Wade raises invisible eyebrows at him in stern response. Finally, Weasel grumbles and relents. “Your target’s gone.”

“Gone, as in?”

“Dead,” Weasel spits.

It’s with a strange gut twist that Peter remembers that Wade kills people for a living. Could it be true that Wade found it so easy to ignore Peter’s silence because he had been busy doing his job? There’s a thought Peter hadn’t had before. Peter’s never really thought about what Wade does when Peter’s having his crises.

Peter’s a horrible…thing. Boyfriend? No, too primary school. Significant other? Love interest? Whatever it’s called.

Wade frown, curious. “How dead?”

“Hella,” Weasel’s deadpan and flat face says it all. “Level, dead dove: do not eat. You’re fucking dyslexic. The correct question is, ‘Dead, how?’”

“It wasn’t me,” Wade now sounds defensive, sitting up a little straighter.

“I know, Shaggy,” Weasel rolls his eyes. “That’s why I’m here. And no, before you ask, I didn’t hand out the card to anyone else. The target was yours. Your deal only.”

“How did he die?”

“Dude was having a smoke on his roof deck and was pushed off the side, Marlboro and all.” Here, Weasel drags a hand through his stringy hair, shaking his head disbelievingly.

“How do you know he didn’t jump?” Wade asks. It’s a good question. A lot of people use the heights of the city to their advantage. To those suffering enough to turn to suicide, jumping is a feasible option.

“Got eyes on him that said they saw some freak dressed in black push him. He wasn’t a graceful faller, by the way, twisted and turned like a cat in heat, then his head cracked like a water balloon.”

“Dressed in black?” Wade guffaws. “A ninja?”

Weasel shrugs. “That’s not the point!”

“Ah, well. That’s good.” Wade goes to turn back to the television, making grabby hands at Peter, but Weasel interrupts, sounding irate.

“Good?”

“Yeah,” Wade nods, clicking his tongue, scrolling through Netflix. “One less drug lord pushing experimental cocaine on the streets.” He turns to Peter. “Wanna watch Orange is the New Black, baby boy?”

“Good?! It’s not good, Wilson! The proceeds of that deal were going to replenish my funds after I lost a bit of C4 to a leather cloaked, pyromaniac Bigfoot! You might have seen the abominable fucker. You can spot him on the rare occasions you look into the mirror.”

Wade doesn’t rise to the bait, just throws himself further into the couch, star-fishing out and smacking Peter in the stomach with a long arm. “What do you want? I’ll write you a check. Go get my checkbook, I know you know where it is. You want cash? There’s always money in the banana stand.”

Weasel actually stomps a foot on the ground in frustration. “That’s not the point!”

“Oh, my Gawd,” Wade moans, throwing a hand over his head histrionically like a Byronic heroine. “I thought you said that was the point.”

“The point is,” Weasel advances looking fierce enough that Peter’s hackles raise. “You got this deal like two and a half weeks ago. Things like this usually take you two days. What gives, motherfucker?”

At that Peter’s eyes widen and he looks to Wade, who is still strewn across the sofa, shielding his face. Two and a half weeks ago. That’s eerily close to when Peter had started camping on his Pleather Crisis Couch™ in a pitiful attempt to piece out his feelings and pitiful existence. Had Wade been more affected than he seemed via text?

Weasel, the vigilant reptile he is, catches the movement and responds by waving his arms in exasperation. “You did not just lose a deal because baby put you in the corner. You did not just spend three weeks on the couch instead of completing your contract.”

Wade waves a hand in a perfect these are not the droids you are looking for motion. “It’s irrelevant. Humpty Dumpty can’t be put back together again.”

“It’s relevant if this becomes a pattern. I gave the card to you, but the contracts have a fine print, Wade. You know that.”

At that, Wade sits up and stares belligerently at Weasel. At that moment, Wade looks every bit as unbending and antagonistic as his reputation claims. The two glare at each other for a minute in an unspoken argument. Finally, Weasel’s shoulders fall a fraction. His face turns less severe, more annoyed. They both take a breath, then the conversation shuttles on like it never stopped.

“Next time get it done before another target takes a nosedive in Carnegie Hill.”

“Carnegie Hill?” Peter can’t help but push in. Carnegie Hill was where the Goldsteins live. Spider-Man had been patrolling near the area for the past few weeks. If there was anyone, drug lord or otherwise, being pushed off of rooftops, why hadn’t he seen anything? “When did it happen?”

Weasel frowns, but answers. It feels like getting blood from a stone. “We’re talking sometime near four in the morning.”

Peter had been asleep by then in Queens, recharging his battery for work. Not good. Peter needs to start reworking his hours for patrol again. He can’t afford to let a tragedy of this caliber slip through the cracks.

Weasel turns, making his way out of the living room with tangible irritation. “Almost wish that spandex fairy would have saved him. I coulda used that money.”

“Fairy?” Peter asks.

“The one that shits webs instead of glitter dust,” Weasel calls back, clearly intending to leave the apartment. “Spider-Man.”

Wade, half-listening grunts in response. “Does that mean I get off the next few days or are you gonna smack me with another card? I was going to hit the gym. Ruf blocked me out three hours. Tomorrow’s leg day.”

Peter’s heart freezes and suddenly, he feels like he has a case of pneumonia. His airways block and it’s so very hard to breathe. He thanks his lucky stars that Weasel is out of the room and Wade is shouting after him because if the two had seen Peter’s face, he’d surely be found out. He can’t tell Wade yet. He’s not ready. And if Wade finds out, Peter will probably die of a heart attack before he can deal with the result.

“Do you even lift?” Weasel yells, by now already in the kitchen.

“Bye, Felicia!” Wade screams to the sound of the door closing. Then he turns back to the television, selecting Orange is the New Black.

Peter’s just barely calmed his heart when Wade smiles back at him, reaching out to pet his ankle. “You okay, Petey?”

He nods shakily. It must look bad because Wade’s face is starting to melt into its perceptive one. The one where his face freezes in animation, but his eyes turn keen and evaluating.

Crap, crap!

Peter’s certain he looks a half second away from crumbling to pieces. If he doesn’t say something now, Wade is going to guess it. Peter knows it’s true. Wade’s stupidly insightful. He puts together loaves from breadcrumbs that don’t exist.

So Peter uses honesty as his tool. Lying hadn’t worked out for him before. If he’s going to hide anything from anyone, he needs to employ his best weapons.

“I don’t like what you do for a living.” It’s true. Not what he was thinking, but true nonetheless.

Peter doesn’t condone killing.

The statement sends a questioning spiral up his spine that he resolutely ignores.

Wade frowns, eyes shifting from Peter immediately to look out of his window. He’s avoiding Peter’s eyes. Why? Because Peter’s being an idiot? Peter knew Deadpool was a mercenary before he knew he was Wade. And now, all of a sudden, after Wade’s killed in his name, Peter has a problem with it?

“I know,” Wade says softly, devoid of emotion. He squeezes Peter’s ankle reassuringly.

Reassuring to whom? To Peter? Or to Wade?

-

The next day, Peter is even more exhausted than he was before. Mr. Delmar had clucked worryingly his entire shift, inquiring about his sleeping habits. Peter has a feeling he’s somehow joined forces with Aunt May, especially when he asks if Peter’s got a girl on his mind keeping him awake at night.

The thought has Peter sputtering.

No, he doesn’t have a girl on his mind. He has a six foot, two-inch tall man on his mind who all of Peter’s mentors would be horrified to find out he shares the same air with.

Peter wishes that he could just say his mind is on Spider-Man work. It’s not. Peter’s head is a constant instant replay of Stark Tower. Everywhere he goes, he has flashbacks to small, withered corpses. Not children, but shriveled little gray cases of wrinkled skin that used to house pumping hearts and breathing lungs. Peter spends an hour restocking milk and, in his head, he can see little mirages of Esther, school uniform on, putting milk into a grocery basket. If that isn’t enough, the rest of his head is filled with Wade.

Wade, who had been uncharacteristically subdued the rest of Peter’s visit. After Peter had pulled away during Weasel’s impromptu visit, Wade hadn’t reached for him again beyond patting his ankle.

No intimacy. Not even a kiss.

Peter thought he’d seen Wade watching him every now and then as they played reruns of Orange Is the New Black, but every time he went to meet Wade’s eyes, Wade looked away, a grimace on his face.

When Peter had finally announced he’d had to leave, Wade looked disappointed for only a brief moment before nodding with a congenial smile and walking Peter to the door.

No inappropriate comments. No inappropriate hands.

Not like Wade at all.

Peter doesn’t know where the bad air came from, but he can’t let it go. Not when he’s still trying to make up for his appalling behavior these past few weeks. Restless, tired, and itching for resolve, Peter texts Wade once his shift is over.

Still going to the gym today?

He doesn’t wait very long for a response.

yea bb boy
dez biceps dont curl themselves

Despite his nervous energy, Peter smiles at that. He works with his own impulsivity. He just wants to see Wade. To fix this. Whatever it is, it’s probably his fault.

Want company?

??
bad bad company
til the day i die

Is this another old reference I can’t understand?

jezus bb u make me feel lyk a fossil
bout 2 dig a hole n bury myself
song bad company by bad company
??

Really? Should be called Bad Song by Bad Band.
Don’t they have any creativity?

dey dont need creativity wen dey hav rocknroll
wat did u mean…

Peter inhales to calm himself and tries again.

Want company at the gym?

U WANA COME W/ ME? 2 GYM?

Oh, so you do know how to use capital letters.

gawd those claws bb
i txted b4 txting waz kool
w/ aim n aol chats

You mean DMing?

no u damn millennial
it’s PMing. DM smh
fake azz shit
chat existed b4 insta u kno?

U rlly wanna come w/ me 2 gym?

Really. Only if you want me to though.

Peter bites his lip and lets his fingers finish the message before he can change his mind.

I just want to spend time with you.
It doesn’t have to be at the gym.
But I figured since you were already going?
So, it’s not inconvenient.

ur never inconvenient swthrt
holy shit yea come w/ me
i waz gona go @7 tonite
that ok?

That sounds good! I can meet you there.

Kk bb ill send u a pin

Of course, as is his life, it’s when Peter’s walking to his apartment to change into something suitable when he realizes he’s never been to a gym before. He doesn’t know how to operate any of the equipment or do any exercises. Gym class was more playing dodgeball with a few sprinkled President’s Physical Fitness Tests thrown in than it was actual physical training.

God, what is he supposed to wear?

Peter’s slowly turning into a frantic girl when he gets another text.

hey bb
u kno how much a hipster weighs?
an Instagram
LOL 8=D~~~

It says a lot that Peter knows one hundred percent that Wade sent him an emoji dick and not a smiley face. It’s a horrible joke.

And it puts a grin on Peter’s face the entire time he throws on a beat-up pair of ADIDAS trainer pants Aunt May got him three Christmases ago and a soft, red top hiding in the back of his closet.

You are aware you’re a millennial, right?
You’re always joking on your own generation.
Sorry not sorry.

stfu bb SWERVE!
nice try, Hunty
Xennial actually
*salty af*

Peter laughs the entire way to the gym.

-

The map pin leads Peter to a location not very far from Wade’s condo. Despite the good neighborhood, the gym itself is a rundown brownstone that’s seemingly empty. Peter only knows it’s the right place because a man with bright orange-red hair sticks his bulbous nose out and waves Peter in with an impatient gesture.

“He’s waiting for ya,” the man says gruffly, his face pinched. He looks very unfriendly, Peter thinks, with hawkish features. Out of shape too, especially for someone who must work at a gym.

The man points Peter to the basement before walking off without another word. Peter thinks he should be suspicious. This man could be luring him into some sort of trap. It would be all too horror movie-esque, except, he can distinctly hear the sounds of Wade singing out of key with Britney Spears. Did he say singing? More like caterwauling.

“I’m Miss American Dream since I was seventeen, don’t matter if I step on the scene or sneak away to the Philippines, they still gon’ put pictures of my derriere in the magazine!”

Peter’s not sure if he’s relieved or disappointed to trudge downstairs to find Wade stretching and not dancing animatedly.

When he clears the last step, Wade looks up at him from a lunge and wiggles his nonexistent eyebrows. “You wanna piece of me?”

Peter snorts, eyes taking in Wade’s usual sweatpants and long sleeve shirt. His muscles nicely pop out in salutation as he settles into the lunge. Peter absolutely wants a piece of him. But he doesn’t want to feed Wade’s ego or penchant for karaoke by telling him so.

“Met Ruf on your way in, didja?” Wade smiles, grin larger than life. Peter takes a moment to admire it, glossy white teeth blinding and that dimple that drives him crazy. Peter’s thought about it much in the past few weeks. He wants to lick it.

“The man upstairs?” Peter asks, padding closer looking around. The gym is actually a gym, not a creepy basement in someone’s brownstone. It’s larger than he might have guessed. There are machines and equipment lining the walls and what looks like a boxing ring staged off to the side. The floor is soft mats that make Peter feel like he’s bouncing as he walks.

“The ginger. Real friendly?” Wade replies.

Peter cringes, thinking of the redheaded man’s brisk demeanor. “Yeah, he was helpful.”

Wade collapses to the floor, out of his lunge, laughing like a hyena. “Said no one ever. God, Bambi, Rufus is the world’s prickliest pear. He totally proves gingers have no souls.”

Peter’s cringe gets twisted by an answering smile. “Why do you keep calling me Bambi? You know I’m just Peter.”

“Well, just Peter, I can’t really help it. See, someone wouldn’t tell me his name when I first met him, so I made a name for him. Now, it’s stuck like glue. Can’t get those Bambi eyes out of my head. The nickname will stick forever.”

Giving him a flat face, Peter crosses his arms in defiance. Bambi is a ridiculous nickname. Petey is too, but Peter had hoped it might replace Bambi. Not with his luck! Now, he has to hear both, just as frequently.

Wade shrugs unashamedly. “I’m just saying, I think I saw your picture on a yellow crossing sign when I was driving upstate like a month ago.”

Peter frowns. “Why were you upstate?”

In response, Wade springs up like a piece of ready toast. He cracks his neck audibly, then shakes his arms. “You wanna stretch before we start?”

Here comes the awkward.

“I, uh,” Peter coughs, “I’ve never really been to a gym before. Or worked out.”

Wade looks at him quizzically. Or, more specifically, he looks at Peter’s abdomen quizzically. Which makes total sense. Because Peter is reasonably defined from all of his swinging around buildings and subduing gangsters. Wade knows this. He knows this rather intimately, considering he has both seen and felt up Peter’s naked body. Change of topic?

“Besides, I don’t stretch,” Peter continues. Keep digging that hole. One day, he’ll get somewhere fruitful.

“You don’t stretch and you don’t work out. You don’t go to the gym, because you were born with a washboard in your stomach. I knew Designer Babies were real.”

Before Peter can get red and start stuttering out excuses, Wade hums dismissively then waves around the room. “You want to pick something? I’m happy to teach you, Petey.”

Peter jumps on the offering and sends his eyes roaming around the room. All of the machines look complicated. He eyes them with an impending sense of panic. They’re all contraptions that have accouterments with accouterments. Such accouterments seem to popularly manifest themselves in the form of weights. Peter’s never lifted weights. Ferries? Kinda. Crumbled buildings? Yes. Dumbbells? No.

Peter has a premonition that he will wreck the machines with even the slightest effort.

He doesn’t even know how much weight would be acceptable for someone his size and muscle tone to lift. What if he lifts too much, too easily? That’s just swimming on the edge of the danger zone.

“Deep breath, sweetheart,” Wade calls from his side.

Almost automatically, Peter listens, inhaling on command and exhaling cathartically. As he turns to Wade, he can’t help the way his eyes linger on the boxing ring.

Wade catches that too. “Boxing?”

“I don’t box,” Peter says, frowning.

“Martial arts?”

Ah, one of Wade’s specialties. “I don’t know any.”

“Anything you do know?”

Peter hesitates. Technically, Peter knows street fighting. If the definition can transcend the usual fist fight in an underground cave for bets. Spider-Man absolutely fights on the streets. It’s defensive in nature, aimed to subdue, but it’s fighting nonetheless. He thinks. Fighting that involves slinging webs and lots of dodging in the form of backflips and jumps. What does one call that?

“Gymnastics?” Cringe. Definitely not the right word at all. How does he say that he knows the type of fighting that comes with being bitten by a radioactive spider?

This is very frustrating.

Peter should just walk out. Or convince Wade to do yoga with him. Or not. Because Peter’s freakishly flexible. He’s checked.

But he can’t stop looking at the ring. All Peter can think about is how powerful Wade’s body is. How indestructible Wade is. And Peter? Peter holds back with his strength every day. Hogtying most of the criminals he’s fought takes minimal effort. Once in a while, there’s a gun or a knife to dodge and Peter’s instincts are so fine-tuned that he dodges without blinking. The best fight he’s had was in Germany when the Avengers had pitted against each other and he was placed like a pawn on Mr. Stark’s team. That is, not counting his excursion with the Vulture.

Peter feels cramped in his own body; limited by his very environment. It’s much like spending life folded into one microscopic box, never allowed to stretch out. Peter is never living up to his true potential. Sometimes, he swears his body aches from being cooped up for so long without proper use. It aches now, veins swimming with untapped power. Fizzing like an overcharged battery, energy wanting to strike out. It’s more noticeable now. Probably because he’s focusing on it.

He’s had this thought before.

Peter recalls very vividly the time when he and Weasel had hacked into Kindika’s medical record system, camped out in a Starbucks. Meeting Wade afterward, resting against his back, Peter had wondered what it would be like to grapple with Wade.

“Can we fight?” It comes blurting out together in one word.

But Wade’s just walking past him, to the boxing ring where Peter couldn’t look past. Once Wade reaches it, he turns to Peter, catching his eye and looking pensive. He searches Peter’s face. For what? Peter couldn’t say. But when his expression fades into a dark sense of playfulness, Peter’s heart skips a beat.

Wade flashes a smirk at him. “You want to fight, Bambi?”

Peter shrugs a little dumbly, trying to remain cool. He doesn’t want to look too enthusiastic. It’s a strange desire, isn’t it? Peter fights all the time on patrol, but he’s itching for a real fight, now, God.

“Not fight, fight. I mean, like, fake fight. You know? Just for fun. For exercise,” He fumbles through an unnecessary explanation. Wade doesn’t need it, he’s already nodding.

“We can fight. But you have to do something for me, Peter,” Wade says, his tone so nonchalant that Peter can’t help but feel worried.

“What?”

“No teeth pulling, remember?” he starts and Peter can feel himself twitch. Wade shrugs, pursing his lips. “You can’t hold back.”

It feels a bit like watching a tsunami travel toward land. Peter gapes unattractively, raising his hands in defense and licking his lips. “I don’t—”

Wade cuts him off with a teacherly tsk. “No questions, no explanations. I don’t need them. I’ve seen you in action before and mum’s been the word, wouldn’t you agree?”

Peter’s first reaction is to deny everything. At this point though, he knows it’s futile because they’ve had versions of this conversation before. Peter punching through bulletproof glass? Jumping in and trying to save a boy? All things Wade’s seen which involved skills too intricate to be simply human. Wade knows it. They’ve silently acknowledged it. Just as they’ve silently acknowledged that Peter doesn’t want to talk about it and Wade is, in his words, not pulling teeth and willing to let sleeping dogs lie.

So Peter nods tentatively.

Wade’s grin is one on fire, sending the temperature of the basement gym rising twenty degrees in a flash. He straightens himself up and pulls off his sweatshirt in one slick motion, revealing the long sleeve shirt underneath. It’s not a tight fitting shirt, but Peter feels himself salivating at the pure visage of him. How smoothly he moves is a teaser for what’s about to come.

“A fake fight, then.” Wade narrows his eyes at Peter and jumps into the ring, leaning over the wire fence to call in a compelling tone. “You wanna play with me, sweetheart?”

It’s all the invitation Peter needs to go running after him.

-

They stand across from each other.

Peter, with his shoulders hunched up to his ears and his hands fisted at his sides, can already feel a waterfall of sweat licking down his neck. His stomach is cramping and he’s biting deeply into his bottom lip. Peter’s nervous. The tension is radiating off of him in toxic gamma rays.

Wade, on the other hand, stands still and collected. His body is relaxed and his face wears an expression akin to an inquisitive child about to unravel a holiday gift. His blue eyes rake up and down Peter’s body, glimmering with unabashed appreciation and his mouth is twisted with a brand of desire that Peter can’t quite label.

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

Wade takes a step forward. Peter’s innards make an admirable attempt to evacuate his body via his mouth, but Wade doesn’t make any fighting moves. He just stands there, looking at Peter.

“You gonna break the ice, Bambi?” Wade smiles a little. “Beauty before age.”

Peter frowns so hard that the corners of his mouth ache.

Make a move? What’s he supposed to do, karate chop him? This was a bad idea, like most of Peter’s ideas. How is he supposed to fake fight Wade? Wade says don’t hold back like Peter’s hiding an insatiable appetite for heaping amounts of McDonald’s. He’s not. There have been enough clues, despite the fact that Peter dropped each of them unintentionally. Wade probably thinks that Peter’s like him. A mutant with a little extra strength. He’s not. Peter doesn’t just have a little extra kick to his punch. If Peter tries to not hold back, he might cave in Wade’s skull.

And what a romantic date that would make. It would definitely solve whatever issue Peter’s created that’s pushed Wade at arms-length when he visited him. Amnesia is totally the answer.

Wade sighs and shrugs, looking at the ceiling. “Like mama always said. If you can’t get what you want by asking, take it by force.”

And then he throws a punch at Peter. It’s a horrible punch, actually. Half-hearted and it falls too wide, off to Peter’s left. It probably wasn’t meant to even hit him, but Peter’s Spidey sense can’t tell the difference sometimes. As soon as Wade’s fist flies through the air, Peter hops to the right in a snap.

Wade, with his fist still suspended in the air, trains his eyes on Peter who now stands off to the right.

Wade blinks at him, then makes a terrifyingly interested sound. It’s a foreshadowing hum that Peter really doesn’t like. It reminds him unpleasantly of Weasel.

Then Wade pulls his wrist back and all of a sudden, punches are raining around Peter like it is monsoon season. At first, each punch is aimed too far off to even feel Peter’s body heat. But his Spidey sense continues to alert him of their impending destination with enough time that Peter easily sidesteps them. Wade makes another hum, then like upping a level in Dance Dance Revolution, his punches get faster and more accurate, target: Peter.

Peter’s sad to say it’s almost devastatingly boring. Even as Wade actively punches at his body rather than around it, Peter sees each punch coming. They’re easy to dodge. Peter ducks and side steps, moving his body so that each punch meets air. He doesn’t even break a sweat.

“You must have been sick at dodgeball,” Wade mutters under his breath, probably not intending for Peter to hear. “Never fucking picked last for Gym.”

Peter can’t help but grin cheekily when Wade pants a little in exertion.

Wade catches that and stops his punching to put a sassy hand on his hip. He doesn’t look mad at all, instead, he continues to look intrigued. “It’s a little hard to fight someone who won’t fight back. You’re making me feel like a backyard bully. There’s no option to pick on someone my own size, Petey.”

He starts punching again, trying to needle Peter. “Come on! Bambi! Petey! Ben. Give me a little something to work with. I really want to sing ‘Hit Me Baby, One More Time’ like today. My Spotify gym playlist is all Britney hits.”

Peter rolls his eyes. He doesn’t like punching unless he really has to. Peter prefers webbing. He likes to swing around his opponent and web their hands mid-fight. While he’s still wearing his bracelet shooters, he can’t very well web Wade.

So Peter reaches out when Wade’s next punch sails at his face. Peter can almost see it in slow motion.

Peter grabs Wade’s fist, his smaller hand gripping Wade’s, stopping it right in the middle of a forceful swing. How forceful? Peter’s guessing that Wade isn’t fighting with his entire strength. So, it’s ridiculously easy to halt his fist, hijack his momentum, and push back.

It’s not Peter’s full strength either. But it sends Wade stumbling backward to balance himself.

“You’re not punching very hard,” Peter remarks, starting to feel a little giddy when Wade regains himself.

Wade’s face looks devilish. “Do you want it harder, honey?” It sends a thrill up Peter’s spine.

“You told me not to hold back. The same doesn’t go for you?” Peter tilts his head in consideration.

And Wade just grins, nodding. “You’re right, baby boy. All’s fair in love and war, huh?”

Then Peter’s Spidey sense goes haywire when Wade abruptly performs a move straight out of a video game. He spins and drops his lower body down to counter the whip of one long leg that goes straight for Peter’s face. It’s altogether so damn cool that Peter almost forgets to hit the deck. He can feel the wind generated by Wade’s kick fluff his hair.

Peter hops up from a crouch to the soundtrack of Wade chuckling. It distracts Peter enough that he doesn’t really see Wade’s next punch until it’s nearly too late. This punch, strong and with purpose behind its trajectory, makes the hair on Peter’s neck stand to attention. He grabs for it. He thinks Wade looks a bit shocked that Peter didn’t just move out of the way, but Peter doesn’t see too much because he’s rolling with Wade’s movement, using the force of his own punch against him.

Holding Wade’s wrist, Peter pivots, back to Wade’s front, and tosses him by the wrist into the space Peter just vacated. They switch positions and Peter can feel the air like high voltage electricity crackling between them. Wade though, catches himself easily and another kick goes right toward Peter.

Mixed martial arts, Peter muses with amusement, dodging the next two kicks.

The boxing ring is small. Small enough that it only takes three steps before Peter’s being shoved into the corner to where the fences meet. Another kick and Peter makes a snap decision, based on instinct. He doesn’t dodge the kick by falling to one side or ducking it; instead, he jumps up. Awareness tingling at the edges of his mind, he lands himself firmly on the post where the fences meet at the corner of the ring. It’s a feat of impressive agility, even Peter has to admit.

Wade, the utter bastard, doesn’t even blink. He just plays dirty; a hot hand clasps around one of Peter’s ankles. It yanks him forward, sliding his foot from the safety of the post into the air.

It ruins his balance completely.

Peter gasps, unable to resist the imminent fall. But in a flash of quick thinking, he allows his wobbling weight to be carried by Wade’s hold. Just as Wade’s grip begins to slip, Peter encourages his fall toward Wade. Instead of crashing, he catches himself with a hand on each of Wade’s shoulders and kicks his free leg over his head, executing a messy back handspring that catapults him over Wade’s head.

“What the fuck?” Wade cries softly, another comment for himself, hands flying to his own shoulders in confusion at the sudden display of acrobatics.

Peter lands, light on his feet, at Wade’s back, snarling petulantly as his ankle twinges. Rude. Peter grunts in exasperation.

That was a rotten move!

“Are you pouting, baby boy?” Wade calls, going to turn. “Fuck, that flip. Oh, I think that I found myself a cheerleader—"

There’s no time for bad OMI karaoke. If Wade can fight dirty, then so can Peter.

Drawing a sword at a soldier’s back is anything but a fair fight. It’s not very honorable. Peter’s no samurai though. With jittery adrenaline starting to wash over him, Peter’s so in the zone that he doesn’t think twice before aiming a kick of his own at the back of Wade’s knees.

“Hey!” Wade whines, weight knocked out from under him. He lands like an uncoordinated rock.

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” Peter can’t help but quip, a hint of Spider-Man confidence cockily building the more they move.

Wade doesn’t even get up, he just snorts and swipes Peter’s feet from underneath him in another one of his petty kicks. Now Peter’s on the ground and Wade’s back on his feet.

Peter rapidly tries to follow, pushing up to his knees.

“You look awfully pretty down there.”

Wade’s comment has Peter’s face burning traitorously. A glance at Wade’s face shows he’s breathing harshly, but still looking rather unaffected otherwise. His ubiquitous grin shines back at Peter teasingly.

It’s a fake fight, of course, but Wade should be taking Peter more seriously. Peter huffs.

“Why are you so fucking cute?”

At that, Peter pushes to his feet and advances on Wade. He’s expecting, rather banking, on Wade to deliver another swift kick that Peter can use against him. But Wade backs up instead. As in, he takes two steps backward and watches Peter guardedly.

Peter has no idea what it is about the move that hits him like a lightning bolt. But one second, he’s getting up, wanting to prove to Wade that he’s a worthy opponent, and the next Peter feels pinpricks of anticipation stabbing all over his body. He breathes heavily, shuddering, hot and cold, and inexplicably hungry. The way Wade backs up is body language that advertises everything Wade is not. Directionless. Uncertain. Skittish. Prey.

One look at Wade’s amused face would tell Peter that Wade is none of those adjectives. Peter knows the truth. If anything, Wade is their very opposite. But for some reason, Peter can’t seem to register that.

Something in the back of his head—his lizard brain, he guesses—revs up and practically growls with spiked interest. When Peter takes a step forward, it’s almost as if he’s lost control of his body.

He could grab Wade. He could grab Wade and throw him to the ground. It wouldn’t take much effort. He could grab Wade, throw him to the ground, and rip his ribs from his chest with his bare hands. It really wouldn’t take much effort.

The thought makes Peter sick.

Feeling a wave of nausea, Peter immediately hunches in on himself and walks himself a good distance backward, away from Wade.

In the moment that Peter loses himself, Wade closes the distance between them.

“Peter?” he inquires, laden with concern. Peter looks up to see Wade standing tall in front of him, despite bending at the knees in a pitiful attempt to bring himself eye level. “You know we’re just playing, right?”

Wade looks shrewd.

Peter just feels confused. Of course, he knows that. He’s the one that suggested the fake fight. They’re at a gym, not on the battlefield. This is Wade, not a real opponent.

Wade opens his mouth, then closes it, eying Peter. He takes in a breath, then speaks. “You know I’m not going to hurt you, right? I’d never hurt you.” There’s something in Wade’s face that looks hauntingly bitter and at a loss, all at once.

It sends Peter’s mind whirling, every thought he just had gone in favor of trying to process what Wade just said. Because, what? What even? Peter can’t even. Where had that come from? Peter doesn’t know a lot of things, but he does know that Wade isn’t going to hurt him. Wade’s had more than one generous opportunity to. He’s taken none of them.

Peter shakes his head, uncurling himself and looking Wade straight in the eye, as best as he can. “Why would you even say that?”

Wade’s face turns stoic in a way Peter’s never seen before. It makes him on edge.

“Why would you say that? Wade, I know you wouldn’t hurt me. You haven’t before. And you could have, but you didn’t. I, just. What? I know this isn’t a real fight.” Peter says it all like a stream of consciousness, letting it out, trying to decipher why Wade would be making a point like this now.

Wade backs up. Peter doesn’t like it as much now as he did before.

Wade clears his throat and gives Peter a thousand-watt, self-loathing look. “Peter. I know who I am. I made myself this way. It doesn’t matter how much you skulk around Sister Margaret’s, you and me? We’re not cut from the same cloth. I’m a mercenary. I know you don’t like it. It’s natural—fuck me, it is level-headed of you to be wary. My career is built on me being dangerous. I know I’m dangerous, you know I’m dangerous. I just.” Wade pauses here, looking frustrated and earnest in a manner that does nothing for the way Peter’s heart is panicking with growing realization.

“I want you to know that I’m not dangerous to you. No matter what we do, no matter what you do or I do. I’m not going to hurt you.” Wade licks his lips, eyes darting away from Peter and he gives a limp gesture with his hand. “No one’s going to hurt you, baby boy,” he finishes with a soft whisper, looking off into space above Peter’s ear.

I know you don’t like it.

Shit.

And there are Peter’s words, his deflection, spat right back at him. He’d been diverting any bridge to connect Peter with Spider-Man. He thought it had been a good tactic, but it seems that Peter had taken a knife straight to Wade’s gut.

It’s strange, actually. Peter takes a moment to observe the irritation and aura of self-deprecation that hovers anxiously around Wade. It doesn’t really make sense. Wade’s never seemed insecure about his job before. He embraces it. It’s a part of his identity. He’s usually pretty flippant about it, isn’t he?

Actually, he isn’t.

It dawns on Peter that Wade rarely, if ever, mentions his job around Peter. In fact, Peter can recall the few times vividly. When he barely knew Wade, the man had accepted a card from Weasel, chattered on the phone before leaving Peter alone at the bar. When Peter had stormed into Weasel’s with an outrageously large check and a submission request to take down Kindika. Then when Wade had fulfilled the request. And, of course, when Weasel had invited himself to Wade’s to complain about a dead target.

That’s all Peter can remember. Less than five times. It’s a stunningly few amounts of times, considering how they met and where they’d spent time together.

But Wade’s job had never been a secret. And while Peter had been cautious of Wade before, after getting to know him better and experiencing intimacy with him, Peter’s caution has all but fluttered away. He’d thought it had been clear. It had, Peter thinks, probably until Peter had told Wade he didn’t approve of his job.

A truth, of course. Peter didn’t approve at all. And it has taken an uphill trek, but Peter likes to think he is starting to understand. He doesn’t approve, but he’s starting to understand Deadpool’s design.

Wade isn’t seeing that though.

He’s only seeing that Peter doesn’t approve. That Peter knows he’s dangerous. Both of which he’s used to draw shabby lines to the conclusion that Peter is afraid of him.

Peter looks at Wade’s face. It’s scarred—a new splotch and branching pattern than it was yesterday—and set with a rigid frown. His body, strong, powerful, and sweating from their exercise, is standing straight and to attention, much like the soldier Peter knows he used to be.

He doesn’t know how to answer this with words.

Exhaling sharply, Peter strides right up to Wade and reaches up to grab that beautiful face. Wade is pliant, allowing him to trace his fingers over Wade’s high cheekbones and trail over a few textured scars. But it takes Peter tightening the cradle of his hands to get Wade to look at him.

His eyes are strikingly blue. They pierce through the jumble of Peter’s brain.

Peter can’t say he’s accepting of Wade’s role as a mercenary. He can’t even say that Wade isn’t dangerous, because that would be a blinding lie. He can’t say that Wade isn’t who he thinks he is. Peter’s not in Wade’s head, but Wade’s identity is solid—at least more consolidated than Peter’s.

“I’m not afraid of you.”

It’s all he can say. Another aching truth. But this one, more carefully chosen. Peter tugs gently on Wade’s cheeks, pushing up to his toes and tilting his head back. Wade doesn’t hesitate. He just accepts the offering with a look of distinct relief.

The kiss feels like a long-awaited repatriation.

It’s been so long since they’ve kissed that Peter can’t help but whine into it the instant Wade’s warm lips press to his chapped ones. He grabs the collar of Wade’s shirt carelessly, then licks desperately at Wade’s mouth. It’s wet and messy and needy. It’s lacking in finesse, like everything Wade taught him flew out of the window.

But Wade won’t open up. Why won’t he open up?

One of Wade’s hands smooths over the small of Peter’s back, before mirroring its twin and resting on Peter’s hipbone. The hands grip down hard, like a restraint. Not for Peter, though. It feels more like Wade’s trying to restrain himself. Peter doesn’t know why. He just knows that he doesn’t like that.

Peter licks again, this time demandingly. Wade tastes salty like sweat. The scars on his lips press into Peter’s tongue deliciously. So, Peter does it again just to feel them, then he whimpers in frustration when Wade’s mouth remains locked. Peter pulls back, letting his fingers dig into Wade’s shoulders none too nicely. It’s childish, really.

Peter blinks, seeing Wade’s eyes squeezed shut and the very clear, measured breaths he’s taking.

Part of Peter wants to comfort Wade, step back and rub his arms until he calms himself down. The other part of Peter—crude and unrefined—wants to punish Wade for not kissing him back like he’s supposed to.

They both win out. Peter forces his hands to unclench, raking his hands over Wade’s tensed biceps in a soothing motion. At the same time, Peter huffs at Wade’s closed eyes. He pushes himself up again, standing taller to press a soft, lingering kiss to the dip of Wade’s chin, just below his lips.

That does it.

Immediately, Wade’s tensed lips quirk upwards into a smile. He snorts with closed eyes. “You little brat.”

Wade opens his eyes to survey Peter’s face.

Peter watches as he licks his own lips, savoring, he has no doubt, the taste of Peter he left behind. It makes Peter’s heart twist and his breath catch.

“It’s been a while, hasn’t it, sweetheart?” Wade’s hand frees itself and starts creeping up Peter’s back. Eyes holding Peter’s, Wade speaks, keeping his voice a low murmur. “I wasn’t being very nice to you, now was I?”

Peter can’t stop the way he nods fervently, distressed. No. Not kissing him back wasn’t very nice at all. Wade’s thumb rubs over Peter’s cheek, and Wade smiles, all Cheshire at Peter’s instinctive nod.

“Been neglecting you, haven’t I?” Now Wade’s crooning in that faux-sympathetic way Peter’s starting to learn riles him up. It sends replicating sparks from Peter’s fingers to his toes. It makes his stomach swoop and creates a swell of arousal brewing in every atom of his being. Just from that stupid tone of voice.

Wade must have already known Peter liked it because he’s been doing it since the beginning. Wade knows right now because his grin turns incandescent. He knows he’s got Peter on a hook, all he has to do is reel him in.

The other hand moves from Peter’s hip to his waist, curling to pull Peter closer into Wade’s space. Like he needs any assistance. Peter’s was a hopeless asteroid pulled into Wade’s orbit the day he met him.

“Do you want to kiss me?” Wade asks, unnecessarily, in Peter’s opinion. The answer is yes. Peter nods again, licks his lips in anticipation, eyes flitting around Wade’s face as a thumb gently presses to the corner of his mouth.

Peter tightens his grip again on Wade’s shoulder and pushes up to his toes like he did before. It doesn’t really put him at the height he wants to be, especially since Wade’s somehow standing taller now. But he gets so, so, so close. Then Wade’s hand twists in Peter’s hair to stop him just mere centimeters from his goal.

Peter almost growls. A little sound might escape him because Wade laughs breathily.

He catches Peter’s eyes and holds them prisoner. Wade’s hands feel like an iron fist in Peter’s hair, but the pain isn’t there. Peter just feels transfixed.

“Did you miss me, baby boy?”

“I always miss you,” Peter relents. Wade asks stupid questions, but Peter still has nothing but the truth for him.

Wade’s eyes flutter shut at that. Then he surprises Peter by pressing a firm kiss to his forehead, before touching their noses together, then finally capturing Peter’s lips in a tender kiss. This time, Wade pushes into Peter’s mouth with ease. It’s a kiss from fiction: the kind everyone writes about. The kind where Peter’s eyes roll back into his head and he loses himself, feeling Wade’s heat dancing all along his body.

It takes a few minutes for him to even notice he’s hard. When had he gotten hard?

Just from a kiss and Wade’s fingers knitted firmly in his hair.

Teenage. Fucking. Trigger. At twenty years old. It should make Peter cringe in embarrassment. Instead, he scrambles closer to Wade. Because his body’s already conditioned to link arousal with Wade. And Wade, bless him, just hums when Peter scratches at his chest like a cat. Peter feels like he’s unraveling and Wade feels nothing but sturdy, in control, and in tune with Peter. And Peter likes that very much. The thought of it is enough to send a confused drizzle of lust ricocheting off his nerve endings.

Peter trembles like a leaf and Wade simply slips a thigh between Peter’s legs. Peter must groan rather loudly because Wade shushes him.

He looks up through hazy eyes as Wade pets his hair, pushing it out of his face. They’re both panting. Peter is finding it very hard to concentrate when there’s a firm thigh pressed to his cock. Even if Wade’s bending a little and Peter’s nearing the tips of his toes to make the position work.

“Don’t I always take care of you?” Wade says, his own breath falling into Peter’s gaping mouth. Peter inhales it, like an addict, like it’s going to get him closer to Wade. Like he could have more of Wade if he could just breathe him in and keep him inside forever. “God, I missed you, Bambi.”

Wade runs his mouth, meanwhile, Peter’s can’t even find words, let alone the right ones, to communicate with him. No matter, Wade seems to hear him anyway.

“I always take care of you, baby boy.”

And then Wade’s pulling them to the ground. Dropping himself down harshly, spreading his legs, and guiding Peter to sit with his back to Wade’s chest. Peter can feel how their heaving breaths synchronize.

Wade makes quick work of Peter’s gym pants, shoving them down and off, comically tugging them to help them pull over his sneakers. Then Wade wraps his hand where Peter’s been daydreaming it should be. The feel of Wade’s hand has Peter’s head thrown back just as he begins fisting him.

“Wade—” Peter starts, cutting himself off with a moan.

Behind him, Wade purrs a bit.

It feels so reminiscent of their first time that Peter’s brain nearly explodes. When Wade pushed him into that alcove, had touched him, and—no. No. Peter doesn’t want it to be like that time.

Peter whines, pushing at Wade’s hand. Wade, of course, lets go immediately. Before Wade can start to question anything, Peter turns and rearranges himself. He sits between Wade’s legs, with his own legs thrown over each of Wade’s. Now, facing Wade, he drags his fingernails over Wade’s waistband, looking up at him for permission.

Peter doesn’t want it to be like the first time. He wants to see Wade this time. He wants to feel him this time. He needs to.

Wade nods sharply, seemingly on a tether. He bats Peter’s hands away, murmuring a little at Peter’s whimper, and pulls his sweatpants down, elastic hooking behind his balls. Peter’s eyes nearly bulge at the sight of him. He hasn’t seen Wade’s cock before. It looks like it felt encased in his hand the night Wade sucked him off. Thick, long, and scarred. Peter wants to return the favor and taste it.

Another time, though. Now, he doesn’t have the chance because Wade’s hands hook under his thighs and then Peter’s being dragged closer, closing the distance between them.

“Oh!” That’s the only reaction Peter can muster up when Wade’s hand slips between them and curls around both of their cocks, pressing each together. His hand is large enough that it encircles them both.

Peter’s thighs jump and tighten, squeezing Wade’s waist.

Wade’s cock feels soft and hot, wet from where Peter’s leaking on him already. Wade’s hand is sweaty and rough, rubbing them together as he starts up a rhythm despite the awkward angle.

“Look at how wet you are,” Wade’s voice is unforgiving. He looks at Peter like he’s a meal. It feels like fire.

Peter wants to grab at Wade, pull him close, anything to just get him closer. But he thinks if he does, he might overload. His face pinched with the sharp pleasure, Peter whines again and leans back, catching himself with his hands behind him.

Definitely not thinking.

As soon as he shifts his weight, he realizes his mistake. The position allows his hips, unrestrained, to push up into Wade’s grip. Peter doesn’t have the resolve to stop himself from thrusting up abruptly into the tightness of Wade’s hand. He loves the feel of Wade, a ridge of scar tissue pushing right at the sensitive part of the head of his cock, their sacs drawn tight and knocking together.

“Yeah, baby. That’s right, you’re such a fast learner.”

Peter might be crying a little. He’s not sure. This always happens when they’re like this. Peter feels wrung desperate, making broken, raspy, and high-pitched noises he’s only heard in autotune.

Wade looks at him with a penetrating gaze, eyes leaving trails of acid licking over Peter’s body.

“Wade,” he manages, pathetically.

“Yes, sweetheart?” Wade’s got his shit-eating grin on. At first glance, he’s too composed for a man who’s fisting his own cock with a partner. But even in his state of excitement, Peter can see the telltale flush down his neck, the dilated pupils.

Peter’s gaze drops to Wade’s fist and he feels his entire body tighten. God, he’s going to come. The litany of “ah” sounds spilling from his mouth are rudely interrupted by Wade, whose hand is still fisting them like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

“What do you say, Peter?” His name has Peter jerking up to look at Wade. He’s so close. It’s only going to take one more thrust of his own hips.

Wade licks his lips and his other hand flies out to grab Peter by the front of his shirt. His thumb chooses that moment to swipe over the heads of their cocks.

“Hah—” Peter twitches and Wade’s hand tightens just a bit shy of too hard. It’s not enough to curb his arousal, but it makes Peter moan louder.

“Be good, baby boy,” Wade’s voice is low, but Peter hears it like he’s talking through a megaphone. “What do you say?”

Wade’s panting too, eyes zeroed in on Peter like he’s a loaded gun. Peter blinks up at him and through the fog, he knows what Wade wants him to say. It just kind of comes to him and the thought of it makes him shiver violently.

“Please, let me come,” he tries first, but Wade’s grin is like a shark’s as he shakes his head.

“Try again,” he says.

Peter feels tears gathering at the corner of his eyes. He must be bright red. It’s almost horrifying to consider what he must look like, sweating and squealing like some farm animal in the sun.

He bites his lips. The words come out nearly soundless. “Please, can I come?”

Wade tilts his head. “What was that, love?”

One of Peter’s hands moves from the floor to Wade’s knee. He clenches down on it in retaliation. It’s for show, of course. They’re playing. Just like Wade proposed before. What is this game? Does this game have a name? Peter loves this game.

“Please, can I come?”

“Yes,” Wade sounds smug and proud. “You can come, baby boy.”

It doesn’t feel like a game. It feels like sensory overkill.

Peter literally sees white. The first time he came from Wade’s hand, he’d seen everything, a world of color melted into his vision. He heard everything, voices down the street, the wind in the alcove. Now, all he sees is white. All he hears is ringing white noise. For a static, long handful of seconds, all Peter can focus on is his body convulsing with pleasure.

Wade.

Then like changing a channel, the white is gone and Peter is acutely aware of Wade’s fist, slick with Peter’s release, pumping them both. Peter just twitches and gasps at the overstimulation but doesn’t pull away. A part of him loves it, the feel of being overworked. His softening cock against Wade’s erection. He watches reverently as Wade bites his lip and grunts, the sharp tangy scent of come wafting into the air as Wade spills over himself and Peter.

Wade’s gorgeous all the time. But especially like this. It feels like Peter’s seeing something he’s not supposed to. It feels precious.

And before Peter can drop down in a pile of loose limbs, Wade grabs at him and then he’s being tucked right up to Wade’s chest, a trembling mess that he’s relieved to see matched by Wade.

Suddenly exhausted, but still hanging on to bliss, Peter nuzzles his face into Wade’s neck, pressing a sloppy kiss to it. He’s missed Wade so much. Why had he ever needed to think twice about this?

Peter gets to enjoy a moment of Wade’s caressing hands before he hears the recognizable sound of approaching footsteps from upstairs. Jerking, Peter’s head swivels to the stairs.

Wade reads that easily—Peter doesn’t think he’s heard the footsteps yet—and he’s tugging at Peter, doing an impressive job of wiping the semen off Peter’s cock using his own shirt, then pulling Peter’s briefs and gym pants back up his legs in one movement. Then the footsteps audibly start descending the stairs.

Peter’s still languid and lethargic, but he’s about to freak out that someone’s going to catch them like this. There’s nowhere to slither off to. Whoever it is will see them.

Wade does that thing where he knows. He tucks himself away, then he wraps Peter up in his arms again, now lifting him a bit into his lap. He moves so that his own back is presented toward the stairs, Peter shielded by his body, then tucks Peter’s head back in place into the crook of his neck.

Peter should be springing apart from him. Instead, he crawls closer, letting Wade provide a hiding place.

The footsteps, loud and in the basement now, stop.

“Three hours’ up.” It’s Ruf, of course. His voice is brusque.

Peter feel Wade nod and call back to him, “We’ll be out in ten.”

Ruf doesn’t say a word, just hikes back up the stairs and leaves them alone. No comment on their state. No comment on overstaying by ten minutes. Peter wonders how Ruf owes Deadpool.

Peter feels a kiss on his hair.

“You wanna come over for dinner? As you may or may not recall, I’m a boss ass cook,” Wade asks, his voice tentatively hopeful.

Peter smiles into his skin. Wade takes that as the affirmative it is.

“Fried chicken, steak, or lamb chops?”

Peter’s starving.

“Steak.”

-

The short walk to Wade’s condominium is filled with Peter sniggering at the sight of come all over Wade’s shirt.

Wade had neglected to put this sweatshirt on, instead opting for a baseball cap he had hidden in a duffel bag Peter hadn’t even noticed the entire time they were in the gym. Wade is grumbling and sweating, pouting like a cartoon character when Peter can’t stop laughing. The streaks are too white and splotchy to appear as anything other than what they are. Already, a pristinely dressed lady walking past them had gotten an eyeful and looked scandalized, her green eyes regarding them with disapproval.

The doorman, as usual, gives Wade a wave without looking up from his phone as they cram into the elevator together.

The mess on Wade’s shirt is reflected neatly in the elevator’s silver paneling. It sends Peter into a fit of laughs that he doesn’t even bother to control.

“Oh, so this is the thanks I get, huh?” Wade groans, slumping over. His face wears a frown, but Peter can see the way his blue eyes are glistening with mirth. “Here I am, being the perfect gentleman, wiping your jizz off of you with the shirt off my back and you’re laughing! It’s a cruel, cruel world! No wonder chivalry is dead.”

As soon as the elevator doors open, Wade strides off ahead of Peter, stomping loudly as though offended. He sighs deeply, humphs, and even goes as far as to toss invisible hair over his shoulder.

The effect is that he looks ridiculous.

It sends Peter deeper into the throes of laughter.  

“Yeah, yeah,” Wade sings, unlocking the door and stepping inside. He turns to face Peter. “Keep laughing, Bambi! I shouldn’t have bothered to get you a treat.”

Peter wipes at his eyes, looking up to where Wade is blocking the door by standing resolutely in the frame. A treat? What is he, a dog? Peter would take offense, except now he’s curious and he wants to know what the heck Wade is babbling on about.

“A treat?” He sniffs, blinking up at Wade, who shrugs looking offhand.

“A surprise,” he says. “Just a little one. Thought you might have worked up a sweat after tossing me around the ring like a ragdoll. Baby boys need to hydrate, don’t they?”

“A surprise?” Peter parrots, dubiously.

Wade just shrugs again, then steps to the side to let Peter through the doorway. “Even though you’re a meanie pants. Like half the size and twice the evil.”

He gestures Peter toward the kitchen.

“I’m not half your size, Wade,” Peter quips, walking past him.

“Not denying the ‘evil’ bits, I see.”

And Peter walks into the kitchen, where on the island sits two, beautifully innocent matcha green tea frappuccinos. Peter stops, staring at them dumbfoundedly in all of their green, whipped magnificence.

Wade steps up behind him, arms crossed over his chest. “Yes, they’re ventis. For greedy brats who laugh at geezers who nobly wear their splooge. Because apparently, I like to encourage you.”

Peter quirks an eyebrow at Wade. “How did these get here?”

“They were delivered.”

“Starbucks doesn’t deliver?” Peter asks, but he means it as a true, bitterly accepted fact of the world.

Wade shrugs again. “Yes, they do, if you know the right people and send the right text when you’re putting your sweatshirt in your gym bag.”

Peter looks back at the green beauties, mouth already watering, then back at Wade skeptically. He hadn’t even noticed Wade texting. His brain had been floating at the time, really. Although, the more important question is: who does Wade know at Starbucks and how can Peter assume control of this barista?

“Go ahead. They’re not going to suck themselves.” Wade gifts him with a sleazy grin and juvenile chuckle.

Peter chooses to ignore that, in the face of frappuccinos.

-

Chapter Text

Wade pulls out a My Little Pony apron two sizes too small to be functional and exchanges his sneakers for a repulsive pair of blue Crocs before heading to the fridge. He pulls out two cuts of steak and looks up at Peter, who’s sitting at the island with his mouth fixed around a straw.

“I swear you didn’t look that blissful when I got you off,” Wade laughs, while sending a surreptitiously jealous look at the drinks.

Peter blinks.

“How do you want it?” Wade asks, mouth quirking again to look lascivious. “Not me. I already know you want me every way on every surface. I mean the steaks. Full cut, grilled, chicken-fried, Thai style pepper steak and onions?”

Peter perks up at the last one. He loves Thai food. It’s been too long since he and Aunt May went out for it. The last few dinners, they’ve dined at Italian restaurants. They’d made plans to get Thai a week ago, but Aunt May had to cancel for a doctor’s appointment again.

“Yep, thought you might be game for the last one.”

Peter watches, vaguely awed, as Wade starts pulling out ingredients and dumping them onto the island. Scallions, garlic, onions, coconut milk. Ingredients with Thai characters written on them that Peter can’t understand. Things that Peter has never imagined would go together, let alone in food. They’re certainly not things Peter has ever picked up at the grocery store. Especially considering he usually hoards instant noodles and Fruit Loops on a regular basis.

As Peter stares, Wade monologues, answering all of Peter’s unasked questions.

“It’s not really an authentic Thai recipe,” he admits, throwing some vegetables into a frying pan. “Thai-inspired? I learned it from a buddy of mine. Well, I say buddy…” Wade pauses here, looking off to the side.

He cracks open the can of coconut milk and spills it into the pan.

“More like a reluctant roommate from the time when I was in Serbia. Borislaw hated me, but he loved to cook. And I love to eat and pay rent in a timely fashion, so it kinda worked out.”

Peter gulps down a mouthful of frap. He furrows his eyebrows at Wade, puzzled as his friend’s name is pronounced in what must be a suitable accent. Wade switches between the Serbian name and English swiftly.

“Why were you in Serbia?” Peter asks.

Wade shrugs, looking thoughtful for a moment. He looks from the slowly heating the coconut milk mixture to Peter’s face. “For a job,” he replies. “Well, the job was actually in Montenegro, but Borislaw had a place two hours from Kamena Gora, a reasonable drive from the border.”

Peter stops drinking to look at Wade disbelievingly. Mercenary jobs involved travel? For some reason, Peter thought Wade had his career based in New York City. There surely were enough people here asking for underground favors.

“So, some mercenary jobs require travel?” He says it like he’s asking if a job as a grocery store clerk comes with vacation time. A normal, inquisitive question about a job that is anything but mundane. But Peter’s curious. That’s his downfall, as much as it is his grace. He wants to learn more, even if it’s just a trivial detail about the parameters of Wade’s job.

“Depends what job I take,” Wade admits freely, but still with a hint of hesitance in his voice. “Weasel’s based in the Big Apple, but clients call in from around the globe. I’m very much Pitbull, featuring Chris Brown: international love. Except I’m a solo operator. So, maybe more like PONY the Globetrotter?”

Peter reflects on that, ignoring the references he doesn’t understand. Wade is very much a wealth of useless pop cult knowledge. “And how often do you take international jobs?”

Wade pulls out a knife and begins opening the package of steaks. With a practiced hand, he starts chopping them into strips. “Whenever the fancy strikes me. And when does wanderlust stop striking, really? I’m all about crossing bullets off the bucket list, even if I’ll never kick the bucket properly no matter how many bullets I get.”

Here, Peter allows himself another moment to think. He runs through a quick recounting of the time he spent working on the Kindika case for Mr. Stark. Wade had been in the city the entire time, at least Peter thinks he has. It’s true that Peter hadn’t seen him every day, but surely, he didn’t have enough time between their collective sleuthing to fly off to Mozambique.

“Have you gone anywhere within the last two, nearly three months?”

The bits of raw steak are fragrant, nearly pungent to Peter’s sharpened senses. It smells cold, irony and coppery like dimes and pennies wet from the rain. Earthy and dead.

Peter feels his stomach rumble at the smell.

Saliva gathering in his mouth, he eyes each cut of the knife sinking into the tender muscle of the steak. It slices through with no resistance; each cut makes Peter feel more and more anticipatory. He’s so hungry. He’s ravenous. God, when was the last time he ate?

Peter feels the distinct urge to grab the steak now. He can almost taste it in the back of his throat—a sensory hallucination—bloody and raw.

His hands scooping the slices up, Wade guides them into the pan.

Wade bites his lip, the scar tissue pulling awkwardly with the movement. When he peeks up at Peter, he looks almost bashful. “Nah, the wanderlust tickle hasn’t hit me for a bit. Guess that’s what happens when you find something worth staying for.”

Peter, with his hands wet from the condensation around his Starbucks frap, blinks back up at Wade. His hunger gone, he feels himself blush gently, a wave of delicate heat spreading over his cheeks and down his neck. He smiles wonkily at Wade.

Peter’s that something. He can tell from the way Wade can’t take his eyes off of him.

He feels a flickering glow of affection in the seat of his chest that can’t be ignored. He feels pleasant. Happy, enthralled, a feeling unlike one he’s experienced before.

It’s a complex, layered glow that he wants to nurture.

-

Peter kills himself between working at Mr. Delmar’s and upping his patrol hours. Despite his best effort, the news keeps boasting strange and mysterious crimes from a criminal Peter can’t find no matter how long he stays out. It’s getting to the point where Peter actually debates asking Mr. Delmar to shorten his shifts again, but Peter can’t bring himself to ask. For one, Mr. Delmar was already kind enough to rearrange his schedule. And, of course, Peter really needs the money. If he doesn’t maintain his work plan, there’s no way college is going to be an option for the foreseeable future.

He’s cleaning off the deli counters, frowning at the newspaper that proclaims the murder of a man, head bashed in on his green-roof in Jackson Heights, and his missing girlfriend, when he feels his phone vibrate.

Making sure there are no customers to serve, Peter plucks out his phone and is surprised to see a text from Mr. Stark. Not another set of useless suggestions for Peter to do, but an actual text for Peter, rather than Spider-Man.

Make time Saturday. 12-5:30PM.
Do you own a suit?

Peter balks at that. A suit? The last suit he wore, other than his Spider-Man suit, was a suit that was too small around the shoulders to his high school graduation. Peter had suggested he rent one, but Aunt May had said he would treasure the suit as a keepsake in the future. Peter’s not sure that was a good idea. Now, he just has an ill-fitting suit that he can’t wear stuck in the back of his closet, behind his worn clothing.

What is Mr. Stark talking about? He can’t go anywhere on Saturday, he has work. And responsibilities. Peter’s an adult; Mr. Stark can’t just plan his day for him!

When Peter finishes cleaning the counters, he puts the supplies back in the janitor’s closet. Then he takes a quick peek out of the window, where he sees the raggedy homeless guy loitering outside.

Peter makes a quick decision to drop the three dollars he had in his pocket into the register. As Peter texts Mr. Stark back hurriedly, he grabs the last egg salad sandwich and a coke to bring the man when he leaves his shift.

What? I work on Saturdays.
Not really? Why?
I have the one I wore to graduation.

I’ll have Karen send me your measurements.

Karen knows his body measurements? That sounds logical, considering his suit shrinks to fit him sleekly. But it also sounds highly disturbing and like a breach of privacy.

You’ll get a package by Friday at noon.
Take off.

Why?  I can’t! I need to work!

Take off, or I’ll call in for you.
Wear the suit I send.
I’ll send a car at 11:20AM.

Peter growls, shaking the phone. Mr. Stark is always so demanding. He also rarely gives any details to support his demands. Not that he needs to be persuasive, he probably knows that Peter will cave in like a rotting roof if he pushes enough.

Mr. Stark? Why?

A tiny, little hint would be nice. Peter wishes he could call this an invitation. At one point in his life, he would—and has—been overly excited to accept any invitation Mr. Stark would bestow upon him. But nowadays, Peter is pretty set in his schedule. He likes to think he has more realistic expectations of himself. He’s older, more mature, and he has things he wants to accomplish. Peter had designed his current lifestyle so that he can meet those goals. Attending random appointments? Not on that list.

Event.
I want you to be there.

Peter sighs, defeated. He looks up sheepishly to where Mr. Delmar is watching him with a raised eyebrow.

Tame that rat’s nest on your head.
Try some gel. And a hairbrush.
Not an egg beater.

He tugs at his hair restlessly.

“Mr. Delmar, do you think you can manage on your own on Saturday?”

-

At fifteen minutes past eleven on Saturday morning, Peter is running down to the sidewalk of his apartment building where a black sedan is waiting for him. He shoves himself inside and a very courteous drive welcomes him, before pulling off into the road.

“Do you know what event Mr. Stark is bringing me to?” Peter asks the driver hopefully.

He peers at himself in the rearview mirror and cringes. The suit is beautiful. Stunning, even. He looks very sharp. The suit feels comfortable and lightweight on his body, dark navy in color, with a light blue button down, and a matching paisley tie that probably costs eight times Peter’s monthly rent. He’d even sent a pair of loafers that smelled like genuine leather.

But he feels like a child in a man’s costume.

Peter didn’t buy any hair gel. He’s not going to waste money on an expensive hair product he’ll only use when Mr. Stark is calling. Instead, he’d tried to flatten his hair with water and a comb.

It’s not really working. His hair is just drying in its usual fashion. Peter frowns at it. Oh well. Somethings in this life he can’t fix.

At least Wade seems to like his hair.

He touches it a rather lot. More than Peter does, at least.

“I’m sorry, sir. An event, I know. But the details, I’m unaware of. I’m just a driver,” the man replies with lightly accented English.

Peter thought that might be the case.

“Can you tell me where we’re going?”

“Manhattan Penthouse. Greenwich Village, Fifth Avenue,” he says. “I’ve been directed to inform you to report to the actual penthouse and to open the box to your left.”

Peter jumps and to the left, just as the driver says, there is a black box next to him, wrapped up with a black neat ribbon. Curious, Peter unravels the ribbon and opens it.

Inside is a bottle of green colored hair gel.

Right.

Peter scoffs and disregards it for the ride.

-

The Manhattan Penthouse is terrifying. Peter thought Wade’s luxury condominium building was terrifying, but the Manhattan Penthouse is twice the level of intimidating. From the outside, exquisitely crafted stone architecture, to the lobby indoors that’s mirror-lined and pristinely kept.

Peter walks in feeling like he’s a goose in a duck pond.

Actual penthouse, right?

Making his way hesitantly to the elevator, Peter runs into a kind looking woman with coiffed blonde hair and a skirt suit. She’s holding a clipboard and smiling too widely for it to be genuine.

“Name, please,” she says in a polite tone, clipboard poised.

Peter blinks at her, wrinkling his nose. “Uhm, Peter Parker.”

She nods in acknowledgment, flipping two pages in and writing something with the gold pen in her other hand. “Elevator is to your right. Enjoy the charity ball, sir.” Then she’s off, tuning her attention to a family behind Peter.

Charity ball?

Peter whips his head around, looking for some sort of sign as to if he’s in the right place. Well, of course, he’s in the right place. Mr. Stark’s driver brought him here and his name had indeed been on that guest list. A charity ball, though? Why would Mr. Stark want his attendance in a charity ball? Is this like a Disney ball? Were there going to be women dressed in outrageously impractical ballgowns and men escorting them by the arm? Peter can’t dance.

There are no signs anywhere.

With his nerves starting to show themselves, Peter shuffles his way over to the elevator and gets in reluctantly with a couple similarly dressed. Formally, that is. The man has a black suit on and the woman has—thank the universe—a slinky, but conservative white dress on with a matching handbag. No ball gown.

The man presses the button for the penthouse and Peter gulps three times consecutively as the elevator begins its journey. When it finally opens, the couple walks in with purpose, all smiles and confidence.

Peter steps out feeling like he’s walking into the dragon’s den.

It just might be, considering the room seems garishly decorated with heaping amounts of gold and crystals. The dragon’s hoard, certainly. And there are many willing sacrifices. There is a large crowd of finely dressed people, standing in clumps all around the room. There is no dance floor, thankfully. But there are several tables with silky looking tablecloths and porcelain. A bar in the corner and a podium in another.

Peter’s debating turning back to the elevator when Mr. Stark appears in front of him. He’s also in a freshly tailored suit and red tinted glasses. He looks impeccable, as always. And just as unimpressed as ever.

“I literally gift wrapped the gel for you,” he says. No hello, no explanation. Just an exasperated expression.

There are a lot of things Peter could say to that. Such as, Mr. Stark is not Peter’s parent or guardian. He does not dictate what Peter does. He also cannot dress Peter like a Ken doll whenever he pleases. Instead, he tries his best to get to the real roots of this, gathering some poise from inside of himself. At least, he attempts to.

“Mr. Stark,” he asks, “What is this charity ball and why am I here?”

“The Unmasked charity event. Not a ball. Do you see any princesses here?” Mr. Stark says sharply. “This year’s theme is depression awareness and acceptance.”

Peter flounders at that. A charity event for depression? Why would Peter be here? Why would Mr. Stark be here? Actually. Peter reflects on Mr. Stark’s excessive alcohol consumption. It makes sense why he would be here.

“I know exactly what you’re thinking, kid, but that ain’t the reason. I get invited to every charity. It comes with the price of wealth and social status. I have the money and everyone else wants to get it,” he smiles grimly, before adding, “Besides, this event is a fundraiser thought up by one of the charity boards owned by Stark Industries. If I wasn’t invited, it would look bad.”

Peter sighs, “I had work today. I need to work.”

“No,” Mr. Stark looks at him pointedly. “You need to be here today.” He swivels to stand next to Peter’s side, a ball of lazy, yet manic energy. “I usually drink myself to death at these awful events. They’re always boring. But that’s the reason why we are here.”

With that, he subtly gestures with his chin to a tall woman standing nearby. She’s elderly, with gray, curled hair, and wearing a purple power suit with practical shoes. Peter can’t see her face from here.

“Wha—” Peter raises his hands in confusion. “Who is that? Why do I need to be here?”

Mr. Stark ignores him and slips an arm around his shoulders. “But we can’t go right up to the old bag because of etiquette, code of conduct, yadayada. So we’re gonna start on that side of the room and work our way around. Just stay at my side, smile, shake hands, and laugh like everything is funny. Agree with everything I say and you’ll be just fine.”

And then Peter’s being steered to the opposite end of the room from the purple-clad lady. Suddenly, Mr. Stark shines to life. With Peter tucked at his side, he dives into the party, greeting guests by first names. He laughs with the men, claps them on the back, asks about their wives, dogs, mothers. He throws saucy smiles at the women, even kisses the back of a few hands, and goes on long-winded rants about the weather. Each and every person responds positively to him.

It’s like watching a bit of magic.

Peter wonders what the trick is. The person in front of him isn’t the misanthropic curmudgeon Peter’s used to seeing.

Mr. Stark’s grin draws people in from the other side of the room. Every time a newcomer pops up, he seems thrilled to see them, happily introducing Peter as a close family friend of his.

The designation made Peter blink several times. But too overwhelmed to do anything else, Peter shook hands and nodded amiably. He tries to keep his expression engaged and open, rather than let his discomfort show. He’s not sure he likes all of these people. Some of them seem kind, pleasant enough. Others those, seem so snooty that Peter wants to back away a thousand yards.

He’s not sure how much time passes, but he finds himself starting to nod and smile automatically. Mr. Stark does all the talking and people seem to be happy to ignore Peter after introductions have been made.

Peter frowns a bit, between wandering thoughts of Wade, as a few people blatantly try to chat Mr. Stark up. They are flirty and ingenuine. Peter’s certain they’re more interested in Mr. Stark’s private jet than they are his person. Peter wonders if that’s the reason why Mr. Stark seems to hate going out in public so much. Peter would be the same if people couldn’t see past his bank account.

Finally, they reach the purple dressed lady. She spots Mr. Stark first and beelines straight to them. She wears a friendly, but tired smile as she shakes Mr. Stark’s hand, greeting him as Tony.

“It’s been a while, Tony,” she says, voice deeper than he would have guessed.

Mr. Stark smiles charmingly. “Nonsense, Siobhan. I just saw you. My seminar was…what?”

She tsks but grins. “A year and a half ago.”

She and Mr. Stark share a laugh at a seemingly private joke. Then surprisingly, she turns right to Peter and offers her hand.

“Good afternoon.” She looks down at him with interest. “You must be Mr. Parker.”

Peter nods a little stupidly and shakes her hand, getting out a salutation by the skin of his teeth. What’s going on here?

“Yes, Siobhan, this is Peter, the one I’ve been telling you about. He had near perfect scores on his SAT, you know. Extremely strong in the math section.”

“A lot of kids have perfect marks.” She stares at Peter with keen eyes. For a moment, she seems like she’s assessing Peter. Peter can’t really focus. He tries to look back at Mr. Stark for direction, but he can’t break Siobhan’s hold. What do his grades have to do with anything?

Peter’s starting to sweat.

“Dedication, on the other hand, is something most people lack,” she smiles. “Tony tells me you are quite dedicated to chemistry, Mr. Parker.”

Peter blinks owlishly, but nods.

“Peter’s in my lab constantly, sometimes once a week for hours on end. And he works full time,” Mr. Stark points out eagerly. From behind Siobhan, he makes a vicious face at Peter, then flicks his wrist in a very specific motion. Spider webs?

“Uh,” Peter begins, wincing when he sees Mr. Stark beginning to facepalm. “Uhm, yeah, I do spend a lot of time in the lab. I kind of have a little pet project going on with the production of protein fibers.”

“Protein fibers?” She asks, looking engaged and knowledgeable in a way that frightens Peter.

“Uhm, yes. I’m interested in mimicking natural polymers with glycine and alanine blocks. The result is a semi-fluid material that has a high tensile strength and is very elastic.”

She nods, gray curls bouncing. “Glycine and alanine co-polymers. You’re talking about mimicking spider silk.”

Peter gulps, half-excited that someone gets it and half-petrified that, well, that someone gets it. “Exactly!”

Her eyes are squinted. “Many industries are already attempting man-made spider silk formulas.” She sounds very challenging.

“Yeah,” Peter coughs, but he can’t stop himself from continuing. This is his favorite subject and he doesn’t really have anyone else to share it with. Just him, his lab book, and the textbooks he picks up from the library.

“They have, but their formulas have focused on increasing the silk’s strength and toughness. That allows the silk to be nearly unbreakable, even in the face of vast amounts of kinetic energy. But I’m trying to increase the frequency of glycine in the polymer chain. That would make the silk more flexible, while still maintaining strength and elevating its robustness.”

“And what would be the applications of such an enhanced formula?”

Certainly, better swinging ability for Spider-Man. That’s not really something he’d like to share though. He shrugs instead. “Construction, engineering, war technology? The more tensile strength it has, the more damage to the silk is localized. So damaging one part wouldn’t necessarily mean compromising the integrity of the silk at other parts. That would probably be useful for the military.”

Peter feels like a blubbering idiot, geeking out unnecessarily. But Siobhan looks impressed and her smile grows by a significant fraction. She opens her mouth to reply, but a clinking sound cuts her off. They all turn to see an overweight man in a bowtie tapping a fork on a fluke of champagne.

“Attention, all! Welcome to the Unmasked Charity Event! We are so thrilled to you’ve made time in your busy schedules to join us in support. Now, we will hear a quick message from our mission coordinator and then we’ll sit to dine!”

He quiets and suddenly, everyone in the room is shuffling around.

“I guess that’s our cue,” Siobhan smiles brightly, reaching out a hand to Peter. “It was very pleasant indeed to meet you, Mr. Parker. I hope you choose to get in touch with me soon. Your silk mimic sounds very intriguing. I’d like to hear more about how you synthesize it.”

Then she turns to Mr. Stark and pats him on the shoulder. “Promising, Tony. Good scouting work.”

With that, she walks away. Next, Peter, in a cloud of bafflement, is being whisked away to sit at a table next to Mr. Stark who looks more pleased that Peter’s ever seen him.

As a man walks up to the podium and starts barking out welcomes, Mr. Stark grabs Peter by the elbow and pulls him close to speak into his ear.

“You did good, kid,” Mr. Stark chuckles. “For a second there, I thought you’d faint and make me set up another serendipitous meeting for you. But you rocked that.”

Peter screws his face up and wrinkles his nose. “Rocked what? Who was that lady? Why did you tell her about my web fluid? I thought we were supposed to be keeping it under wraps! Hello? Secret identity?” Peter hisses, peeved that Mr. Stark is going around gossiping that Peter Parker makes web fluid. Doesn’t he realize that Peter could easily be linked to Spider-Man just from his lab book? It wouldn’t take a brilliant mind.

“Siobhan Findley,” Mr. Stark says, settling back in his seat. “Dean of the College of Engineering at MIT. Now can it before people start looking our way. If we can sit through this speech, we can eat the free food, then slip out before anyone notices.”

Peter holds back the scream building in his throat. His mind is whirling trying to conjure reasons to explain why he just met with the Dean of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To explain why Mr. Stark was talking about him, Peter Parker, to the Dean of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But Mr. Stark seems unwilling to answer any more questions, face turned to watch the speaker looking polite and bored all at once.

At a loss of what to do, Peter follows his example. And that’s when he lays eyes on Mr. Goldstein, dressed in a suit and speaking to the crowd rather passionately about depression awareness in the workplace.

Peter swivels his head back to Mr. Stark, but Mr. Stark doesn’t look as shocked to see Mr. Goldstein. He probably knew that Mr. Goldstein was here all along. He also probably assumes that Peter doesn’t know who Mr. Goldstein is. The only Goldstein that Mr. Stark ever shared with him was Esther. Spider-Man isn’t supposed to be spying on the Goldsteins at night.

So he bites his lips shut and forces himself to calm down. What’s the big deal anyway? No big deal, other than the fact that Peter can’t look at Mr. Goldstein without wanting to beat himself for not getting to Esther on time.

Esther. He can almost see her now in the Manhattan Penthouse, ruby red party dress and pigtails, hiding under the silky soft tablecloths.

Peter shakes his head.

A man with gelled, ebony hair shifts in the corner of Peter’s vision. Not wanting to look at Mr. Goldstein, Peter turns eagerly for a distraction. He recognizes the man instantly: dark hair, dark skin, attractive and symmetrical features. The man that he’d seen give condolences to the Goldsteins earlier this week when Peter had been looking through their window.

He looks well put together. A woman with caramel colored hair and green eyes sits next to him, too closely for them not to be there together. But they don’t touch each other intimately, no hands held or shoulders brushing. They look professional. Perhaps they are colleagues or old friends or they go golfing together in Florida in the summer. They look like every other well-to-do person here.

Peter’s not sure why the mere sight of him sends a sharp twist of distaste wracking through his body. The back of his head seems to tense as he looks on.

Peter taps Mr. Stark on the shoulder. Mr. Stark doesn’t turn, so Peter leans closer. “Who’s that man over there? Sort of Asian looking? Indian, maybe?”

Mr. Stark huffs but turns obligingly. “Hm,” he frowns at the man. “Shit, it’s slipping my mind. I’ve run into him before, somewhere, I just can’t place it.”

“I think he’s friends with the speaker?” Peter prompts, hurriedly adding, “I saw them together before.” At the speaker’s house. Not the party. Trivial details.

Mr. Stark waves a hand. “It’ll come to me eventually. I meet a lot of people, kid. And that’s one forgettable face.”

Peter frowns and turns back to the man. Strange, because Peter hadn’t found him forgettable at all.

Sitting back in his seat, Peter resigns himself to listening to Mr. Goldstein talk. Hopefully, he’ll get a good meal out of this. Although Wade’s Thai-inspired steak that he’d eaten, just two days ago, had seemed to fill him up. He hasn’t really been as starving as usual since then.

Just goes to show what a proper meal will do. Wade had said those exact words when Peter had confessed to living on instant meals. With more drama, of course. Wade had thrown a glass to the kitchen floor and demanded Peter let Wade cook for him. Or at least buy him a subscription to Blue Apron. And then he’d told Peter he wasn’t surprised Peter was so short given his diet.

What a jerk.

Peter decides when he’s escaped this high-class madness, he’ll text Wade to see if he can swing by. He’s not that far anyway.

-

Peter, in fact, does not escape the madness. They don’t slip out early, they finally leave two hours later than the designated ending period for the charity. All because people keep pushing their way up to Mr. Stark along every step they make toward the elevator. None of the conversations are business. All are centered around pleasure. People invite Mr. Stark places, chat to him like they’re familiar, and seemingly beg him to check his calendar to squeeze them in. A golf vacation here, a trip to Prague there. Mr. Stark endures it with an agreeable expression and good-natured tones, all while clamping his hand down on Peter’s shoulder. Misery loves company. He doesn’t let Peter leave until they both can.

It’s exhausting and Peter’s just standing there like a statue. When Mr. Stark deposits him into the same sedan Peter came in, wishing him a good night in a snippy tone, Peter throws himself into the car and doesn’t want to think about any of the event.

If he’s ever at a party like that ever again, it will be the last of him.

The driver greets him politely again, pulling out into the street. Peter, mind fried and wanting to wind down, does what he’s been thinking about all night.

Are you busy?

nvr 2 busy 4 u bb

Wade is literally an idiot. Peter feels warm just thinking about it.

Are you at your condo? I could come over?

:’-( not @ condo bb
come hang w/ me Sissy Maggie’s
pretty plz?
pretty as ur face plz??

Peter groans at that. He had hoped to never set food into Sister Margaret’s ever again. But he’s at the point in his night that he’d really like to see Wade. He’d also feel extremely guilty for trying to convince Wade to leave Sister Margaret’s. It’s clearly Wade’s, and by extension Deadpool’s, hangout. Peter doesn’t quite think he has friends there, but he certainly has an audience and a comfort level there that Peter can’t begin to fathom.

“Uh, sir?” He asks, getting the driver’s attention. “Would you mind dropping me off at another address?”

The driver courteously agrees.

Alright. Be there soon.

omfg u r perfection
u r beyonce
u r my beyonce

Peter laughs at that, shaking his head.

No, Wade. And you’re not Jay-Z.

we sex again in da mornin
yo breastesez iz mah breakfast
we goin’ in we b all nite
LOOOOOOVE

Wade’s text karaoke is almost as bad as his in person karaoke. Which is an insane feat, considering his singing voice has the potential to deafen the global population.

There will be no Drunk in Love.

y u salty bc u not legal yet? ;-)
no drinks 4 my bb
jus sing da song
its sexiii
u don wanna surfboard w/ me bb?
nghhhh shit
actually i hav no tub :( fuck
ill buy 1?

Peter literally has no idea what surfboarding is, but he really doesn’t want to find out. That’s the kind of thing he thinks he doesn’t need on his internet history.

I don’t know what that is, Wade.
And I’m not singing Drunk in Love.

if u cud just sing da part that sayz
‘daddy I want u’
ill never sing yonce again
^big commitment
u can c how much dis means 2 me??

A sharp spark of lust wraps around Peter’s body like a squeezing rope.

Peter’s face burns when he thanks the driver and hops out. It doesn’t calm down on the two blocks run to Sister Margaret’s.

-

The bar is exactly as Peter remembers it. Smelly, loud, with aptly dark (read: seedy) mood lighting. However, strolling through the door isn’t as much as a hardship as it had been before. Peter supposes he’s gotten used to it. The thought is unsettling.

Wade is easy to spot, dressed in full Deadpool gear. He’s propped at a table off in a corner and across from him, regrettably, is Weasel. When Peter approaches, he sees that Weasel is wearing a rather peeved expression and he and Wade are arguing as usual. Through the cacophony of the crowd, Peter can just make their conversation out.

“That’s twice now,” Weasel says.

“Please, likely story. Sunny’s a shit merc. His target probably tripped down the stairs, Final Destination-style, before he could get to them. Tell him pics or it never happened,” Wade replies, fiddling absentmindedly with a full pint of beer, fingers drawing spirals in the moisture on the glass.

“The man’s competent. That’s why I keep him around.”

“Competent? I heard the dick-swatter—”

“I’m not here to listen to you spill tea, dude. The class gets it: you hate the S.O.B. I’m telling you to keep your eyes peeled.”

When Peter steps up to them, Wade does a double take. “Fuck shit, my blood pressure.” He slams a hand on his heart and heaves in a breath.

Weasel’s head whirls around toward Peter and then the pair of them are giving him very invasive feeling once-overs. Even through the mask, Wade’s eyes are round and wide like tea saucers. Peter can see the gape of his mouth impressed on the leather.

Peter looks at them, exasperated, shrugging, then looking down at himself. Oh yeah. He’s wearing a suit. Not his usual uniform. Definitely not Ben Weber’s uniform. Three million percent not Peter Parker’s uniform. He should have probably changed.

“Fancy date, Mouse?” Weasel remarks, soaking up the details of Peter’s outfit like a sponge.

“Uhm,” Peter wrinkles his nose, glancing around the room, looking for a viable excuse that would not entail a dreadfully delivered lie.

The distressed cat-like sound Wade makes is endlessly amusing. Or it would be if Weasel wasn’t there to contaminate the moment with sharp eyes. Peter feels more naked than dressed. And being undressed by Weasel’s eyes? Not something that was on Peter’s to-do list.

Peter reaches up to scratch the back of his neck. “No, I just, uh.” He stops himself, because really, what had just taken place at the charity event, anyway?

Through his exhaustion, Peter quickly rewinds the afternoon and realizes very belatedly that Mr. Stark had brought Peter as a plus one to a charity even for the sole purpose of Peter meeting the Dean of the College of Engineering at MIT, a lady who Mr. Stark had obviously been chatting up regarding Peter’s spidey web fluid research. As in, Mr. Stark is trying to get Peter an in with MIT admissions.

“Oh, my God!” Peter croaks, hands coming up to wring his messy hair. He’d just spoken to an MIT faculty member about his research. And she had been interested. What had she told him? That she hoped he’d remain in contact? And what had she told Mr. Stark? Siobhan had said he, Peter, was promising!

Several emotions slam into him at once. Shock, of course. Shock that Dean Siobhan Findley had been receptive to his conversation and seemingly impressed with him. Affection and admiration—all for Mr. Stark. The man who has to wear a shield of armor even on days he’s not on superhero duty; an armor that he’d voluntarily put on for the sake of Peter’s benefit. And lastly, an aching sense of despair. Because MIT? Even if a miracle happened, aided by this tentative networking supplied by Mr. Stark, and Peter was accepted into MIT, he couldn’t go. Peter couldn’t afford MIT. The tuition was insanely expensive, never mind that he would have to fund travel and accommodation costs. All of these feelings manifest themselves in a spell of dizziness and panic. Then Peter’s taking too quick breaths are more appropriate for the Pleather Crisis Couch™ than they are for Sister Margaret’s.

His face must look a telling shade of green because Wade’s snapping his fingers at Weasel immediately. “Get him some fucking water.”

Weasel, who’s scanning Peter like an x-ray machine, frowns at Wade.

“Now, you tit!”

Weasel rolls his eyes and steps out of his chair, making his way around Peter toward the bar.

Peter blinks rapidly and goes to plop himself in the empty seat, but Wade acts more quickly. He grabs a swaying Peter by the arm and pulls him to sit sideways across his lap. Peter goes without much resistance. Familiar seat this is beginning to be, he reflects through the gale of emotions. Wade’s gloved hand rubs his back soothingly, warm even though the layers of their suits.

“Deep breath, sweetheart,” Wade murmurs, demonstrating himself. Peter follows. “Very good, Bambi. What brought on the spazz attack?”

Steadily calming, Peter throws a nasty look at him. “I’m not having a spazz attack.”

“Not right now you aren’t. That’s ‘cause I got magic hands and a voice fitting for narration.”

Peter glares at him.

“What?” Wade shrugs, his whole body moving. “I’m just saying, you’re lucky I’m Bumblesnuff Cucumberpatch.”

Peter looks at him sardonically. “You mean Benedict Cumberbatch?”

Wade nods sagely. “That’s what I said, Buttercup Cumbersnatch. My voice is so deep and sexy, it can snap you outta any spazz attack. I ooze sexuality in levels of Sherlock Holmes. And you, my dear Watson, are my sexuality receptacle.” Here, he sniggers impishly.

Peter remains unconvinced. There’s so much wrong with that sentence that he doesn’t know where to begin. “I am not your John Watson.”

Wade falls silent suddenly and tilts his head. Sounding lamenting, he whines, “So, no Johnlock?”

Peter gapes a little at him. “Sometimes, it’s like you speak a different language.”

“Sometimes, it’s like you live under a rock,” Wade quips back in mock outrage. “My baby boy is so sheltered and deprived! He needs Netflix and an introduction on how to properly fandom obsess! Don’t you Tumble, baby? I’m going to fix it all, don’t you worry, snickerdoodle.”

“I have Netflix!” Peter protests vehemently.

And immediately, he notices that all of his panic has disappeared. Damn. How does Wade do that? He wields his nonsensicality as easily as he had the katanas.

Peter sighs, relaxing into the seat Wade provides. He throws Wade a shy, but sincere smile of gratitude.

“That smile,” Wade sings, “I’m lovin’ it.”

With a snort, Peter shakes his head. Now would be a good time for a kiss, he thinks pouting a little at where Wade’s mask is covering him. It’s been a half a week since he’s seen Wade.

“The things I do for you, baby boy,” Wade grumbles, his free arm which had been resting over Peter’s legs raising to start lifting his mask from his neck. Peter watches excitedly. “I don’t need a shock collar. I’m already trained. Just buy me an engraved dog tag, okay? I lost my other one somewhere in Kandahar.”

Peter makes a very happy sound in response to Wade’s freed chin and bestows a quick kiss to his lips, trying to portray his appreciation. Peter’s less expressive with words; he’s more of a man of action.

And then he feels his Spidey sense tingle sharply. In less than a second, Peter pulls back from Wade’s mouth and rapidly leans back in his lap, hand slapping to Wade’s shoulder for balance. His back arches away from Wade.

Just as he does, a splash of water sails past him and smacks Wade right in the face. Wade squawks and Peter turns in surprise to see Weasel holding an empty shot glass in his hand and an expression of disdain on his features.

“Down, Bessie,” he says flatly. “I didn’t realize it was ‘Bring Your Twink To Work’ day. If I had known, I would have brought my water gun to cool you off, you thirsty lump. The threat is real now. I will henceforth carry a squirt gun to curb your…enthusiasm. I told you, you’re not fucking having sex in my house!”

Wade, face laughably dripping with water, looks at Weasel. “But your apartment is upstairs?”

“This is the same building. I own this building! It’s all my house! And those are the house rules.”

“Boy, I hate to break it to you, but some nasty ass syphilis-level jawn happens in your bathroom on the reg. There’s even a nefarious, crusty hole in the stall you might want to hose down—”

“Oh, my God,” Peter cuts through. “That’s enough, please.” He waves his hands desperately, hoping to get out of this conversation.

Weasel looks testy as he drops back into the seat, slamming the shot glass in front of him. He rests his elbows on the table and regards Peter slyly. “You’re really dolled up, Mouse.”

“High-key snatched,” Wade coughs out like he didn’t mean to.

Avoidance or honesty. Avoidance? Not possible at this stage. Truth as arms, again. “My mentor took me to meet a college representative. He said I had to look professional.”

Weasel raises his eyebrows in acute interest. “He?” he questions and Peter suddenly feels like he’s given too much information. How unintelligent of him. Weasel doesn’t need much to go on. Peter’s not sure how many of his secrets have been revealed to Weasel, but with the way Weasel is looking at him thoughtfully, tongue running over his canines, Peter knows that it’s only going to take one other mess up for him to start pulling live rabbits out of the hat.

“Your mentor?” Weasel asks, sitting up a little straighter like he’s being magnetically pulled toward Peter.

“Weas,” Wade interjects sharply, rapping one knuckle on the table. The effect is instantaneous. Weasel sneers unhappily but shrinks back. A rattlesnake retreating back into its den, coiled yet anything but tamed.  

Weasel juts his chin out, smacking his lips challengingly. “He buy you that suit? Your mentor, I mean?”

“Weasel.” Peter feels the way Wade’s muscles stiffen beneath him.

“Looks really expensive. High thread-count fabric, looks like Italian wool. The weaving pattern gives it away. That’s a Turnbull & Asser tie. British brand, costs a shiny pound or two. It fits perfectly, did you have the suit tailored or does he know your measurements?”

Peter’s just starting to feel a little ill when Wade reaches out with a rough movement, grabs the shot glass in one hand, and crushes it. Literally, crushes it. The glass crumbles into a thousand shining pieces, falling to the table by Weasel’s arms and onto the floor. Weasel curses and jumps to his feet.

“Fuck you! You’re paying for that,” Weasel yells, kicking at the glass. “Clean up on Aisle Douchebag,” he mumbles, then stalks away to lurk behind the bar. Peter watches him for a moment, but he doesn’t grab a broom or anything, just slips behind his computer and starts typing.

Peter feels unease at that. He puts it on the backburner though because something is quite not right. Wade is stiff with tension beneath him. Peter turns a bit and looks at Wade’s mouth where it’s thinned. Peter frowns at that and reaches out, pressing a hand to Wade’s chest.

“What’s wrong?” he asks cautiously.

That snaps Wade out of it. He goes from tense to relaxed. He wipes one hand free of glass shards using the table and uses the other to continue to rub Peter’s back. The relaxation, Peter notes unhappily, is rather forced. Why is Wade so uncomfortable? Peter knows it has something to do with Weasel pushing him for information. Anytime Weasel does so, Wade suspends him in animation. But they usually pick up the banter afterward. Why had Wade reacted so strongly this time? Because Weasel kept pushing?

“Nothing, baby boy,” Wade grins at him. “Just, you know. Want to be enjoying my weekend. You know what they say: thank God it’s Friday night ‘cause I just got paid. Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday.”

Peter sees the evasion for what it is. He’s beginning to read Wade better.

“Wade,” he says solemnly. “It’s Saturday.”

Wade purses his lips at that. “You are such a killjoy, Bambi,” he says laughing. “You know, you’re a real sourpatch.” His hand trails up Peter’s spin to cup a hand around the nape of Peter’s neck. Wade’s fingers stroke it, thumb playing with Peter’s hairline.

Wade leans forward, grin lecherous. “I just want to eat you up.”

Peter should probably smack him for that. Wade is always trying to stone Peter’s eardrums with distasteful locker room lines. As it is, he just feels a zing of heat shoot up to where Wade’s hand is holding him. He can’t help but look at Wade’s mouth, licking his own lips. It’s a Pavlovian response.

Wade’s grin remains stitched in place. “Whatcha thinking about, Bambi? You’re doing the nose wrinkle.”

Peter is, in fact, not doing the nose wrinkle. Mostly because the nose wrinkle does not exist. But he’s sure that contesting it would result in a long-winded account of all the times in which Wade has apparently observed a nose wrinkle, complete with dates and details such as the clothes Peter was wearing at the time. Instead, Peter says, “Can we go to your apartment now?”

“It’s a condo, sweetheart,” Wade answers. “I own it, I don’t rent it.”

He manages to sound snooty, even dressed as a red punching bag.

-

Wade’s condominium is beginning to feel a lot like home.

For one, it’s more comfortable that Peter’s apartment. Peter is proud of his meager abode, but he’s man enough to admit he likes Wade’s better. It’s visually appealing, from the décor to its sole inhabitant. It’s probably a mix of its functional comfort, interior design, and all of the good connotations it holds (Wade, sex, fraps, cuddling) that make Peter instantly feel at ease when he walks in through the door. It feels warm and cozy. Peter’s tugging at his suit the minute he steps foot in the living room.

Wade looks down at Peter, then with a crooked smile, leads him into the bedroom. He surprisingly does not plaster Peter to the bed, which Peter laments briefly. Instead, Wade pulls Peter by the hand to the dresser across from the bed. He pulls out a drawer and inside are all the sweatpants and sweatshirts he’s seen from Wade’s collection, plus a few unseen.

“As much as I’d like to peel that suit off of you, I can see you’re about to tear it off yourself. And I mean that in the least sexy way possible. My dazzling wardrobe lives here. You’re a special snowflake, so feel free to rummage through it whenever you want. Have you eaten today?”

Peter blinks from the drawer to Wade. He did eat today, at the dreadful charity event. The food was fancy in a way that was unpleasant. Small portion sizes and strong ingredients that made Peter’s tongue feel like it was about to fall off. Peter had sneezed and coughed enough times that the guests at their table had subtly inched their chairs away from Peter, certain that he was contagious. Good thing Mr. Stark was there, or else Peter might have been kicked out. Even the dessert was horrible, some sort of beer batter chocolate cake that was so bitter, Peter had flashbacks to Sister Margaret’s bar.

“Kinda?” Peter shrugs.

Wade does that thing where he makes his suit come to life. Hands on his hips, Wade wails and stomps his feet. “You’re not allowed to not eat anymore!”

“I did eat! It was just—kinda,” Peter mumbles. He had at least one bite of each of the seven courses served at the charity event. Seven bites? That’s almost a meal.

“You’re not allowed to kinda eat anymore!” Wade throws his hands in the air in exasperation. “I’m drawing a metaphorical line in the metaphorical sand. You will not be allowed to do anything anymore that might cause me angina. Go take a shower, while I make something.”

He points to the drawer, then to the shower, like Peter needs hand signals to understand him. It should really be insulting, but Peter’s laughing before Wade even finishes talking. In his suit, he looks like a buffed-up wrestler, but the more he talks, the more he sounds like a petrified mother hen clucking around, with the one, true purpose of nagging Peter to death. Wade waves his limbs around like uncontrollable noodles—too octopus on a ceiling fan to even slightly resemble the Deadpool Peter’s seen in live action.

Peter nods in assent. Because really? A shower sounds likely lovely idea right now. Some food wouldn’t go amiss either. Peter takes off his tie and suit jacket, tossing them in Wade’s direction as he heads to the ensuite bathroom. He doesn’t have to look back to know that the articles of clothing found their landing on Wade’s flapping arms.

“Hey!” Wade cries, “And no more throwing suits! And no more wearing suits, for that matter, and certainly no more half-taking suits off in front of me. The doctor said I had high blood pressure. I think my left arm hurts? Ohmygod, I might be having a heart attack? Baby? Somebody call 9-1-1, I’m fire burning on this dance floor!”

Peter laughs his way into the shower.

-

When Peter emerges from the bathroom, he feels like soup. All warm and liquid, like he doesn’t have any bones or any worries. Steam flows out from behind him like it always does in the movies. He had taken a long shower. Long enough that Peter had thought the hot water would run out, but apparently that wasn’t a concern in this building. Peter is colored impressed.

He beelines for the drawer of sweats, listening to the muffled background sound of Wade singing gibberish.

Peter sifts through the sweats more out of curiosity than pickiness. How many of these does Wade own? Now that Peter thinks about it, if Wade isn’t in his Deadpool outfit, then he’s normally in sweatpants and a sweatshirt or some variation. Is it a sizing problem? Wade’s big and tall, but surely, the stores carry his size in styles beyond athleisure.

Dragging his hands through the clothes, Peter can’t help but appreciate how soft they are. Then a thought pops into his head. Does Wade wear them for their softness? Is it more than comfort, he wonders? Peter hums softly, thinking of Wade’s ever-changing scars. Do they hurt? Peter’s never asked. And now he feels horrible that he’s never noticed.

Frowning, Peter pulls out a hoodie and pulls it over his head, shivering when it passes his wet hair. Then he pulls out a pair of sweatpants and shoves them on quickly. He’s starting to get cold.

He’s just about to push the drawer in when he sees a little piece of paper sticking out from beneath another pair of sweatpants. Absentmindedly he reaches in and plucks it out.

Not a piece of paper.

A photograph.

Peter flips it over before he can think any better, eyes trained on it. It takes a moment for the photograph to register in his head, but when it does Peter almost drops it. His hand clenching, he exhales in disbelief, bringing the photo closer to his nose to inspect it.

That’s Wade.

He knows it’s Wade.

That’s Wade without scars.

Peter brings his other hand up to hold the photo and shifts it in the light. That’s Wade without scars. Peter wants to be shocked that he’s seeing Wade pre-mutation activation; when people with latent mutant genes have them activated later on in life, they either attain an inconspicuous mutation or experience a full body change. Peter’s mutations are inconspicuous: people can’t see them, they’re expressed, but not in his appearance. Wade is the opposite. Part of his mutation is manifested phenotypically.

Wade should look completely different, but he doesn’t. Peter knows that’s Wade. He shocked at how much Wade looks the same. For some reason, Peter had imagined that Wade would have looked like a different person. Not that Peter’s thought about it much, to be honest. Sure, the skin is a different texture and color, the hair is gone, but everything else? He hasn’t changed a lick.

The photo shows a man with a broad chest, evident musculature, blonde hair, grinning cockily at the camera. Peter knows that grin, he just saw it not too long ago. He knows those bright blue eyes. He knows that bone structure—he could probably detect it by touch alone. Wade unblemished is devilishly handsome. Wade scarred is exactly the same. The difference is there, but it’s not inconceivable at all. Not shocking.

What is shocking is that there is a woman pressed to his side in a way that can only be described as intimate.

Peter frowns harder, taking in her beautiful figure. She’s a sultry, nearly an impeccable specimen of female. The wide dark brown eyes, the matching loose curls, pixie nose, and playful grin. She’s very, very, very beautiful. Definitely, the level of beautiful that is fit to stand beside Wade. In the photo, tucked up against each other, they look like a pair of celebrities snapped by the paparazzi on date night.

Peter feels like there are claws in his stomach.

The relaxation he’d gained from his hot shower is gone in a jiffy. Now, he’s standing there, sweating and feeling sick. The emotions whirling inside him are sharply unfamiliar and almost too complicated to individualize.

Who is this woman? Who is this woman to Wade? Peter licks his dry lips as an ugly twist of jealousy rakes through him. It’s not hard to guess who she might be—have been?—to Wade. Where is this woman? And all through that, Peter can’t help but fizzle his thoughts down to one: he doesn’t like the way she looks.

It’s a primitive and childish thought, but Peter can’t help it. It just keeps popping up. He doesn’t like the way she looks. She’s drop-dead gorgeous and Peter’s not delusional. This woman is so far out of Peter’s league, she’s propped up in another galaxy. So far out his Peter’s league, but perfectly in line with Wade’s.

Peter doesn’t understand.

The woman is clearly a girlfriend. A lover. Someone who knows Wade familiarly on a level beyond platonic. It’s written all over her body language. Their body language in the photo.

Peter’s never been a jealous person.

He’d had many occasions to be jealous, too. When he’d been crushing on Liz, he’d had a line-up of competition, including Spider-Man, who was himself. Peter was book smart, but when it came to studying in high school, the first few years were a constant battle of grades between him and Ned. In the end, Michelle had test scores to beat them both. Peter never felt jealous. Just happy for other people.

Hell, even when his entire high school class had gone off to college and Peter  sat at home, writing his five-year plan, Peter felt nothing more than wistful and a little sad. But never jealous.

Where was this coming from?

Peter looks at her heart-shaped face and olive toned skin, her long painted nails and her impossibly high heels, and wants to rip the photo to smithereens. He just barely catches himself before he commits the crime.

Breathing harshly, Peter shoves the photo with too much force into the drawer, face down. He hopes the wood of the dresser scratches it and distorts it. He feels so angry. Very angry with a darkness creeping from behind his own eyes.

Peter shuts the drawer and tries to calm himself. He’s unfamiliar with this level of anger and jealousy.

It takes a good chunk of time for him to relax.

Peter does so by focusing on the sounds of Wade clanging in the kitchen, listening to some techno music that he’s screaming along to.

He’s not one hundred percent calm yet, but he leaves the bedroom anyway, captured by an intense hunger.

-

When Peter plows through the bedroom door, through the living room, and into the kitchen, he drops himself right into a bar at the island where a plate is set out. He grabs the fork and shoves the food into his mouth.

It takes a minute to realize that Wade is talking to him. Still in his suit, but sans mask, and with the added addition of the My Little Pony apron, Wade is frowning at Peter concernedly. His mouth is moving.

Peter blinks three times. Then like he’s tapping the “volume” button, the world’s sound snaps back on.

“Hello? Baby boy?” Wade says, waving a hand to get Peter’s attention. “Are you alright, baby boy?”

Peter swallows, licks his lips, then exhales shakily. He drops his fork and looks up at Wade.

All of a sudden, he feels normal again. The food, a rice and vegetable dish, tastes delicious and buttery on his palate. The kitchen is warm from the stove, near where Wade stands, holding another serving in one hand. The air is filled with club music.

Peter looks around, ears picking up the foreign, melodic sounds.

“What language is this?” he asks, eyes finding Wade’s docked iPhone. A speaker is pumping out the song like they’re in a club. The condo must be soundproof or the neighbors are perpetually absent because no one has knocked on the wall, erratically, to shut Wade up.  

Wade, who’s looking at Peter inquiringly, blinks back at him. His blue eyes look Peter up and down, lips pressing together like he wants to say something.

“Turkish,” he replies.

Peter tilts his head. “But you were singing along?”

“Don’t have to know a language to sing along with the lyrics. Remember Gangnam Style, sexy baby?”

“You don’t speak Turkish?” Peter asks, latching onto the conversation as a way to center himself. He feels like he was just pulled out of an oil spill. He must look it too because Wade doesn’t seem convinced he’s alright; he just keeps looking at Peter with worry evident on his face. Like he’s trying to find a puzzle piece.

Peter doesn’t want Wade to figure out he saw the picture. It was a breach of privacy for sure. He knew from the moment he uncovered it that he’d found something cherished by Wade. It was hiding in a drawer, for God’s sake. It was blatantly private and Peter ran through the red tape without thinking. He’s literally trash.

He doesn’t want Wade to know he did something so juvenile. He also doesn’t want Wade to discover how strongly Peter reacted to the woman in the photo. Peter doesn’t know who she is, but he hasn’t seen her around. She’s not here. She’s not with Wade. Peter is with Wade. He doesn’t want to mess this up.

A bucket of insecurity falls over him.

It’s a miracle he’s here with Wade in the first place. It’s miraculous that Peter Parker is in the kitchen of Wade Wilson, being treated welcomingly like he deserves to be here. It’s only a matter of time before Wade realizes Peter isn’t her, isn’t it? It’s only a matter of time before Wade sees that Peter isn’t all Wade’s made him out to be—whatever that is, because Peter doesn’t know, he can just guess that Wade has Peter on a pedestal he’s never even seen before.

This is what Peter should have been thinking about before, in his little crisis hiatus after the Stark Tower fiasco. Not on the ethics of Spider-Man and Deadpool; Peter had already known all of that, he just spent all those weeks repeating his stated thoughts to himself. Peter should have been thinking of how he, Peter Parker, was going to keep Wade Wilson. He doesn’t want to lose Wade. He just found him.

“Only a couple of words, here and there. Enough to read street signs and get a taxi,” Wade says, his voice pulling Peter out of the chaos of his own head.

“Have you ever been to Turkey?”

Wade clears his throat and brings his plate over to sit next to Peter. He tucks in without hesitation, eyes still on Peter like he’s looking for something to pop out of his hair.

“Istanbul and Izmir,” Wade says around a mouthful of rice.

Peter picks up his fork again, looking up at Wade through his lashes. Wade pauses, licks his lips, then nods once. Next, he’s off telling a fabulously flowery tale about how he chased his pickpocket into underground hallways of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.

Peter lets his mind go blank, listening fully to Wade’s story. When Wade starts eating as he talks, Peter mindlessly grabs his own fork and copies him. Forty-five minutes later, Peter is smiling at Wade’s theatrical gestures. When Wade finally finishes with a dramatic ending of him catching the thief and giving all the wallets he collected back to their appropriate owners, they are both done eating.

Then Wade gets up and gently pats Peter on each shoulder with his hands. When Peter relaxes into the touch, Wade’s hands tighten and massage his sore muscles. He’s not sure why he’s so sore, but he is. He feels like he’s cramped in himself again.”

“I think it’s about bedtime, eh?” Wade says, pulling at Peter to get him off the stool.

He’s right. It is bedtime. Peter’s exhausted. Less hungry now, more tired.

Wade gives him a little shove toward the bedroom. “Why don’t you get in bed, burrito yourself, and I’ll come by after I’ve cleaned up like a good servant?”

Peter snorts but starts walking to the bedroom.

“I don’t have work tomorrow,” he says in response, already yawning.

“Good, then we’ll sleep in! I think we could use some snuggle time. I need to perfect my technique. I was considering becoming a professional cuddler. That way I could share my gift with the world.”

Peter snarls a little at that, a bit of that sleeping jealousy spritzing up again. “It’s not a marketable talent.”

“Ouch, those claws, baby boy!” Wade laughs behind him, already dumping plates into the dishwasher. “We’ll see how you feel about that come tomorrow. I’m going to cuddle the fuck out of you. It’s gonna rock your world.”

-

Peter sleeps restlessly.

He’s not sure why. Wade’s bed is perfection. It has soft bedding that Peter loves to wrap himself in and a mattress that’s memory foam. When Wade finally comes in from the kitchen, Peter’s already half zonked out. Wade crawls in behind him, and then Peter’s a little spoon for the first half of the night. The first time he wakes up, there’s no reason for him to have. Still groggy, he pushes himself onto his stomach, face pressed into his pillow. He reaches a hand to Wade’s forearm and pulls him over his body like a human blanket. Wade snuffles in response but moves easily with Peter’s guidance.

Wade’s radiating heat. The warmth makes Peter drowsy and happy.

The second time he wakes up, they’re sweating and a blanket is dangling precariously on the edge of the bed. Peter’s still tired, but he feels antsy. Like he wants to sleep, but at the same time go for a run, maybe throw himself off a rooftop and swing through buildings. He should probably be patrolling.

Wade’s snoring into his hair. It tickles and makes Peter smile. Peter lies there for fifteen minutes, eyes closed, trying to go back to sleep. Finally, his fidgeting wins out and he shifts out from underneath Wade. He pushes a little at Wade’s shoulder and Wade flops onto his back, rocking the bed with his weight.

As Peter notices Wade’s wearing a pair of thin sleeping pants and a long-sleeved shirt, Wade’s eyes crack open.

Without a word, Wade reaches out to Peter, rolling a bit to face him. Wade uses an index finger to guide Peter’s arms up over his head, one at a time. Then Peter watches with a sleepy mind as Wade reaches to the bottom of his hoodie and pulls it upwards, tugging it off of Peter. It is banished to the floor.

Then he settles onto his back again, with an arm around Peter’s waist. He uses a bit of muscle to pull Peter on top of him. Peter lands with a soft “oomph” but adapts quickly, letting his legs fall on either side of Wade’s body and stuffing his nose right into Wade’s chest. He’s supposed to be too hard to be a mattress, but Peter finds he’s working just fine. The cadence of his breaths lulls Peter back to sleep, as do the fingers carding through his hair.

-

Waking up with Wade is proving to be an exceptional experience. Usually, Peter wakes up frantic in the mornings to the sound of his blaring alarm. His morning always descends into bedlam, with him trying to get dressed, brush his teeth, and eat dry cereal at the same time before work.

Now he escapes sleep gradually, the thrum of Wade’s heart coaxing him into wakefulness.

Wade is a bundle of warmth around him, one hand still caught in Peter’s hair, stroking what probably is the worst case of bedhead known to man.

When he finally gets enough strength to open his eyes, the light is softly shining through the curtains and the room condo is silent save for his and Wade’s breaths.

He blinks the crust out of his eyes and shifts a little. He’s greeted with the sight of Wade’s face, eyes looking down at him fondly. He has one arm tucked behind his head—Peter realizes now that Wade’s propped up a bit more than he was when they both were asleep. But Peter is still cradled the same. His hoodie is gone, but a sheet has appeared no doubt conjured by Wade. It’s pulled up to Peter’s shoulders.

“Hey there, morning glory,” Wade says around a smile. How is Wade this pumped up in the morning? If he wasn’t making the perfect nest environment for them, Peter might have kicked him out the bed. And possibly out the window. Being a morning person is definitely a crime. And Spider-Man fights crime for a living.

Peter doesn’t even respond, just blinks back up at Wade, debating if he should close his eyes again. He’s still tired. These past few weeks, he’s felt as though he can only fall into light sleeps, never hit the REMs he needs. He wants to hold onto the last vestiges of sleep here.

“I love that you are so damn grumpy,” Wade continues talking, smiling wider at Peter’s death glare. “Yes, baby, so ferocious!” he coos, scratching Peter’s head like he’s a puppy.

Peter feels this warrants punishment. So, he bites the skin under his cheek, a devious laugh pulled by force out of him when Wade jerks beneath him, whining like Peter’s shanked him.

“Ow!” Wade cries, “Ferocious and mean! That’s abuse, Bambi.”

Peter hides his grin in Wade’s chest. When he speaks, it’s muffled. “Getting me up early is abuse.”

“It’s almost noon!” Wade looks at him with wide eyes.

“Exactly,” Peter mumbles, blinking up at him unforgivingly. “Almost. Not yet.”

Wade’s teeth are so white.

“You’re the biggest brat,” Wade moans, pouting as Peter nuzzles back into his chest. “And the fucking sweetest, little pea. How am I supposed to be mad at you when you’re being a snugglebunny?”

Peter wrinkles his nose. “Don’t ever call me that.”

Wade huffs. “No shawty. No snugglebunny, anything else? Muffin?”

Peter grunts.

“Snookums?”

“Ugh.”

“Sweetcheeks?”

Peter cringes.

“Cuddlebutt fluffernuttin?”

“Are you exhibiting paraphasia?”

“Nope. Never.” Wade looks at Peter so pointedly that Peter is compelled to lift his head up to stare back. “I hate all types of salad,” he deadpans.

Then he and Peter are breaking off into laughter. Peter laughs helplessly into Wade’s chest, shaking his head. Sleep is long gone now; the return to sleep is beyond his fingertips. But he can’t find it in himself to be angry. He just feels lighthearted.

And the lightheartedness is broken by the sound of a ringtone. Wade curses, then reaches over to the bedside to grab his phone. He winces when he looks at the screen. “If I don’t take this, he’ll just keep calling until I answer.”

Wade’s fingers curl in Peter’s hair apologetically as he picks up the phone.

“Hi, you’ve reached the house of ‘I Don’t Give a Fuck, Why Can’t You Call Later, and Who Even Makes Phone Calls?’ I’m going to hang up now. Send a text like a proper human from this century. Hashtag, first world probs.”

Peter perks up, ears catching a voice on the other end of the phone. Oh no.

Wade sighs. “Yeah, he’s here, why?” A frown. “Fine, if I do this, will you promise to never call me again until the zombie-apocalypse?”

Wade grumbles, pulls the phone from his ear, then puts the caller on speaker. Peter’s worst fear is realized in the form of Weasel’s voice greeting him in the morning.

“…Hello?” Weasel’s voice greets them hesitantly.

“Why the fuck do you sound so sketchy? You asked me to put you on speakerphone,” Wade bites out, looking pissed. Peter shares that sentiment.

Their response is silence.

“Weasel. What the shit?”

“You’re with Mouse, right?” Weasel rasps out.

“Yes. I told you he’s here. You asked. Do you remember that or did you swallow some Drain-O again when you were high?”

“Fuck you. You’re the one that drank the Drain-O. I’m just listening, making sure there are no telltale sounds of you-know-what on your end of the phone. I wanted to be on speaker, but I asked before I realized the consequences that could come with that.”

“We’re not sexing,” Wade says drily.

Peter groans and smacks his forehead with a hand. Almost noon. It’s too early for this.

“Aha!” Weasel cries, “What was that sound?”

“That’s the sound of you making my boyfriend regret his life choices. Please, hurry up and tell us what you want to say, so I have enough time to convince him not to break up with me due to your insistent presence in my life.”

Peter can’t help but glance up shyly at that. Did Wade just call Peter his boyfriend? Is Peter Wade’s boyfriend? The thought makes him excited so quickly, he thinks he might faint. They’d never really discussed titles.

“Aha!” Weasel cries, again. “I knew The Nasty was on the agenda. I just wanted to make sure my call didn’t interrupt it. I have no desire to catch you in flagrante delicto.”

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” Wade mumbles, but Weasel carries on, ignoring him. Peter though, is silently impressed by Wade’s recent appreciation of Shakespeare. Wade’s surprisingly worldly and cultured for a mercenary of the night.

“Glad you’ve scheduled for later. Now, listen up, rainbow skittles.”

Peter hits his head on Wade’s chest. If he smacks himself, maybe he’ll lose enough brain cells to delete this conversation. He can go back to his blessed morning.

“Wade, you said that the Stark Tower basement was pimped out with cameras, right? I have an itchy feeling that the feed still exists.”

Peter pushes himself upright at that. Sitting on Wade’s chest, he snatches the phone from Wade’s hand and pulls it closer to himself. “What do you mean? You said there were no cameras.”

“Goddamnit, Mouse, why don’t you listen to your handler? I said I had no security camera access, not that the cameras didn’t exist.”

“Nah, Weas. I blew it up. The cameras are smithereens. Like Ke$ha, full on this place about to blo-o-o-o-o-ow-ow-ow. Then boom. It blew. C4, remember?” Wade rolls his eyes.

“I’ll never forget,” Weasel grumbles. “Or forgive.”

“What makes you think the footage survived?” Peter asks, starting to feel nervous.

“What makes you two idiots think it didn’t? I told you the place’s security was backed up by Wi-Fi. Is it really a big leap to deduce that the CCTV was stored on an internet bank? Even fucking Apple has a cloud. You think these big leagues didn’t?”

Peter brings a hand up to tear at his hair, swatting at Wade when he tries to pull Peter’s hand away from where it’s tearing at his roots. “You mean you knew this the entire time? Why didn’t you say anything until now? It’s been like a month! Over a month!”

“Yeah well, I’ve been kinda busy. I don’t know if you recall, but some jackass stole my explosives and left me with a very, extremely pissed off ex-Soviet bomber-to-be. I had to scrounge up connections from up Kimmy K’s ass to find enough C4 to sell to this dude. And I had to pay for it all. No profit. Negative profit, fuck you very much. Then your pansy boyfriend ate his weight in Ben and Jerry’s for like three weeks and fucked up his job, costing me some more money. It’s hard to think when you hear the bells of bankruptcy tolling in the near distance.” Weasel is all snark, no apology.

Peter is unsurprised. He reminds himself that Weasel isn’t in the game for Peter’s sake. If he was, he would have immediately noted that video feed with actual footage of Peter (dressed as Peter with a hood) and Deadpool exists somewhere out in the world wide web. Who knows what that footage could hold? If it even exists. It could have diaries of every experiment those people were running on the children. If they could bring it to light, to the eyes of the public, the government would have no choice but to take action. This could be a powerful and dangerous set of footage.

Of course, Weasel isn’t thinking of that. Or is he?

“Can you find the footage?” Peter asks, clenching the phone in one hand. Wade is looking stern under him, eying the phone intensely.

“Maybe.”

“So why don’t you?” Peter’s about to shred the mattress, Hulk-style.

“I probably could. But I can’t do it for free.” Weasel is probably smirking through the words on the other end of the call. “What part of negative profit don’t you understand, Mouse? Money is time. My time is precious. This is a time-worthy endeavor.”

Wade pries Peter’s hand from the phone and hisses into it. “Get it done, Weasel.”

“You haven’t even asked my price.”

“Yeah, well in the words of Jessie J, forget about the price tag. It’s not about the money, money, money,” Wade says caustically. “Consider this a hire.”

“I don’t want any money.”

Peter looks at Wade for help, throwing his hands in the air in exasperated confusion.

“Then what do you want?” Wade’s voice is clipped and annoyed.

“A favor,” Weasel says lightly.

Peter rears up, grabbing at Wade’s wrist to get closer to the phone. “For what?” he screeches. But Wade just puts a gentle hand on Peter’s chest, rubbing it, before pulling the hand away and wagging an index finger at Peter. He shakes his head a little and guides the phone closer to his mouth.

“Yeah, fine, you snake,” Wade grits out, “Report back, ASAP.”

He hangs up the phone and tosses it to the floor, where it falls with a thud.

Peter looks from at Wade’s face with unbridled concern. He can’t help but feel uneasy. “What type of favor?”

Wade shrugs. “The asshole does this all the time,” he admits with an air of irritation. “He’ll probably want me to complete a request without payment. Greedy bastard. Doesn’t want a cut, wants the full tamale.”

“Huh,” Peter says, eyebrows furrowed.

“Don’t think too much on it, baby boy,” Wade replies, hand coming up to touch Peter’s cheek. “Weas declares bankruptcy at least twice a year. It’s all part of his ploy to reduce commission percentages in the Spring. He’s a rotten, savvy businessman. He’d make a hell of a suit in another life.”

Peter doesn’t disagree. Instead, he sighs trying to soothe his own restlessness again. What if the footage exists? Who is looking at it right now? Could they recognize Peter? Could they identify the entire staff of that horrid facility? The possibilities are endless and headache inducing.

He traces Wade’s fingers, looking up at Wade’s smile. Wade is always so happy around Peter. Even when he’s not happy. It doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t brush worries off, but he’s certainly better equipped at dealing with them than Peter is. Perhaps, experience really is key.

Peter looks at Wade’s white teeth. Thirty white horses on a red hill.

“What’s going on in there?” Wade pokes Peter’s head. “Little nose wrinkle.”

Peter frowns, but out of his mouth comes, “Thirty white horses on a red hill, first they champ, then they stamp, then they stand still.” Peter looks at Wade in confusion. The words just came out like vomit. He hadn’t really intended to say them.

Wade, however, just lets out a huge guffaw. “So, that’s where your noggin goes in the morning then. Straight to Middle Earth?”

Peter frowns. He hasn’t read Lord of the Rings since he was a kid. Not for a lack of want, by the way. Mostly because he doesn’t have the time to tackle that literary mammoth. It’s also been a while since he saw the movies. It’s weird how little things impress themselves into a memory only to be called upon at random.

“C’mon Bilbo,” Wade says, leaning forward to press a kiss to Peter’s nose. It’s achingly sweet. “Let’s have breakfast burritos. Then we can take the hobbits to Isengard.”

That sounds lovely.

“It’s Legolas that takes the hobbits to Isengard.”

Peter is ravenous, so he forgives Wade easily.

-

Peter feels like he’s kicking a puppy when he takes his leave from Wade’s condo. If he’s being sincere, Peter would have happily stayed the night again, even if he had to leave early to go to Mr. Delmar’s. But he’d been pleasantly surprised to get a text from Aunt May asking to take him out to dinner.

Thai food, at their usual joint.

Peter hasn’t seen her in a bit, so he’s eager to reply affirmatively. It’s a bit pathetic, but he misses Wade as soon as he leaves. Even though Wade had clung to him for a half an hour long goodbye.

Peter runs back to his apartment to take another shower, then change into some fresh jeans and a shirt.

He gets to the restaurant early and is seated by a familiar server at their usual table. As he waits for Aunt May, he thumbs through his phone. It’s not the burner, which he’s kept and uses to text Wade—Mr. Stark never seemed to notice. So he can’t go through his backlog to entertain himself.

Unwillingly, his thumb finds his Bank of America app. He logs into the online banking and cringes at his current balance. It might look like a decent amount of money to an outsider, but Peter is saving up with an expensive goal in mind. The money just isn’t enough. It won’t be for a long time.

Peter thinks back to Siobhan Findley and her interested handshake. He remembers the way Mr. Stark had proudly clapped Peter on the back. Before, college had been so nebulous. Peter had just known that he had to go somewhere to study. The where didn’t matter so much. It made saving up easier. But now, Peter gets lost in a reverie of being at MIT. He could take classes from the best of the best, work alongside students who shared the same passion as him with the same amount of enthusiasm. He might even get into a guest seminar by Mr. Stark himself.

That would be amusing.

He quickly opens a Safari tab and searches the tuition for MIT. He nearly drops his phone. Tuition, plus room and board and other fees? A whopping sixty-two grand? A year? It doesn’t seem feasible. Even if Peter got financial aid or a scholarship.

How is anyone supposed to afford that?

Peter feels like his world is collapsing around him. For a fleeting moment, he reminisces on the sole paycheck of Ben Weber. Peter would be lucky if he ever made that much in five years.

“Peter!” He jumps up, pushing his phone on the table, to see Aunt May smiling down at him.

“Hi, Aunt May,” he replies, happy to see her but still reeling from his realization. “How are you?”

He receives a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek from her. She cups his face in gentle hands and looks at him lovingly.

“I’m just fine, Peter.” She smiles, taking her seat across from him. As soon as she does, the waiter pops back over. They both order their favorite dishes and then settle in to wait for them with easy conversation.

Aunt May tells him about her most recent paintings. She’s been experimenting with oil and acrylic paint apparently, and she confesses to loving them a bit more than her usual watercolors. Peter listens to her go on and on, talking about art and the small girl she’s been babysitting for the neighbors.

Her smiles are infectious and brightens up the whole restaurant. But Peter notices how old she looks. He can see the wrinkles on her face, the color in her hair changing, and the tired look in her eyes. She looks quite a bit thinner than when he’d last seen her. And God, but has it really been that long? Not really, he thinks.

He nods at all of her stories as they eat and he picks off of her plate like he did when he was a child.

Peter denies all inquiries about a girlfriend, coughing as sweet, sticky rice goes down the wrong side of his throat. “No,” he coughs. “No girlfriend, Aunt May! Gosh, are you telling everyone that? I could have sworn Mr. Delmar asked me that same question.”

Aunt May looks a little sheepish, shrugging one shoulder casually. “I may have asked him to do some probing. There might have been some zucchini bread involved.”

Her zucchini bread is awful. It was definitely those flirty eyes of hers that did the convincing. It makes Peter laugh and blush simultaneously.

They fill a moment of silence with another bite of dessert.

Aunt May peeks up at him again. “A boyfriend then?” It’s a sly question and she knows it.

This time, Peter chokes, which sends Aunt May flagging the server for more water.

By the time he has rice out of his lungs, he’s glaring at a smug looking aunt. “You don’t have to tell me, dear. Only when you’re ready. Just know that I love you. I always will, no matter who you date. Or what you do.”

He completely resents that. Peter would retaliate, except Aunt May’s demeanor changes. She pushes the remaining rice away and leans forward, balancing her elbows on the table.

“Peter,” she begins, looking unsure. “There’s something I wanted to,” here she pauses, searching for the right word. “Tell you about.”

Swallowing a gulp of water, Peter puts his glass down and frowns. “What?”

He doesn’t like how serious she suddenly looks.

“I’m sorry we haven’t been able to get out to eat as much these past few weeks,” she smiles, patting Peter’s hand. “I know I’ve been canceling on you.”

Yeah, Peter thinks. The doctor’s appointments. Peter feels a foreshadowing sense of dread. “Are you okay?”

“I could never hide much from you,” Aunt May snaps her fingers, looking sad and cheerful at the same time. “You’ve always been such an observant child.”

Peter would disagree, highly. But Aunt May is like a mother to him; she sees the good in Peter and exaggerates it.

“What’s happened?”

“They found a small lump,” is all she has to say before Peter’s starting to breathe shakily.

“I don’t want you to worry. But they biopsied it and it is malignant.”

It sounds like her voice is coming from the end of a tunnel, ringing and tinny at the other end of a speaker.

“I’m going in tomorrow to learn some more about treatment options, but the ones I’ve heard about so far just, you know, don’t resonate with me.”

Peter has to stop her there. He’s lost. He’s not quite sure what she’s even saying anymore. “What are you saying?”

She smiles again, but it doesn’t meet her eyes. “They said it’s stage two non-small cell lung cancer. A really long name for such a little tumor, if you ask me.”

Peter flounders. His mind blank.

Aunt May continues in his silence. “Like I said, the treatments are grueling. I don’t really like the options. All for what? Maybe five years extra if I’m a lucky part of the twenty to thirty percent of the population.” She nods a little and eyes Peter.

“You don’t like the options?” Peter parrots dumbly.

Peter feels like liquid nitrogen is being poured over his skeleton and heart. His mind just isn’t catching up with everything she’s talking about. Aunt May, who knows him inside and out, pulls her chair over to sit beside him. She grabs his hands in her soft ones and looks him in the eye.

“Peter,” she speaks with her voice loving and genuine. “I’ve been in and out of appointments for two weeks. Before that, the biopsy was completed over a month ago.”

A month? Where had Peter been? Why hadn’t he noticed? An image of Stark Tower glimmers like a mirage in his mind.

“I’m going to be very honest, Peter. I feel like we’re always honest with each other. We’re more than aunt and nephew, we’re like best friends too. I’ve known about it for a while and I’ve done my due diligence. I’ve made my choice, but it’s just taken me a while to find the right time to tell you. I hope you’re not angry with me.”

Peter shakes his head. Angry? Of course, he’s not angry. He doesn’t know how he feels. He doesn’t feel anything. “You’ve made your choice? What choice?”

It feels like he’s having an out of body experience when Aunt May kisses his cheeks, holding him by the arm.

“I’m not going to have any treatments, Peter,” she says in a firm, but soft voice. “I just can’t see how they’re worth it. I would rather enjoy what time I have left.”

The rest of the night passes in a blur, with Peter playing a hollow marionette with severed strings.

-

The next few days, Peter reports to and from work like a soldier. He ignores his phones. He’s not sure why he keeps them on him anyway. Just to feel them vibrate, then be forced to dismiss each text. Mr. Delmar watches him diligently but says nothing. Did he know? Is Peter the only one who didn’t know? Aunt May has known for over a month. Almost two months and she had kept it under wraps.

Peter feels like he’s living a nightmare.

At first, he’s blindingly numb. Then shortly after, comes the monsoon of emotion. Above all, he’s angry. Angry and terrified. But the worst part is, he can’t pin why. He doesn’t know why or who he is angry at. At the world? At biology? At Aunt May for hiding it from him? At her doctors for failing to convince her to continue to chemotherapy? Is he terrified for Aunt May or because of Aunt May? Is he scared for her and what she will endure or scared at the thought of living without her? Peter’s always alone. But he’s never been truly alone because Aunt May always counted as his one-person family.

Now, he doesn’t know how long he will have her for.

An irrational part of him wants to sob at the world for being so cruel. But that’s a cliché and it won’t help. Peter lives and breathes science; he knows about cancer. He knows that some higher power didn’t just pick Aunt May to make her suffer. These things just happen. When the ability to fight for prevention is gone, then only intervention is possible. That’s the only power humans have in this situation. He just can’t understand why Aunt May won’t fight for a longer life.

How can she be satisfied with a ticking time bomb in her lungs and lymph nodes? Does she want to die? Why can’t she see that she’s leaving Peter? Does she want that too? What has Peter done that has made her think that way?

Peter’s like a broken compass. He’s not sure where to direct his emotions.

When Peter regards his phones, he sees one is full of texts from Aunt May. She’s asking about how he’s dealing, offering to talk, suggesting going out to eat again. Almost like nothing’s happened. He sends her a quick, nonsense response about working, followed up with a quick “I love you,” because his heart can’t bear to linger any longer on the messages. Even seeing her contact name hurts.

On the other phone, he sees a string of the usual from Wade. Nothing direct. Just jokes, aimless thoughts, nothing that would ever require a response from Peter. Nothing demanding, just like last time Peter had enacted radio silence. Except for the last few texts. Those are different. Direct, but short and noninvasive. Just like Wade’s usual modus operandi when it comes to Peter.  

bb ur makin me a lil nervous
just tell me u r ok?

Peter instantly feels guilty. He promised himself he wouldn’t do this again. All this time, he’s been aching for Wade in-between each thought about Aunt May. But how could he go to see Wade like this? Like the absolute mess he is? He knows that Wade will see something is wrong before Peter’s even spoken and Peter’s afraid he’s going to burst out into tears. Knowing Wade, the man probably wouldn’t do a thing but wrap him in blankets and offer to kill someone.

How could he dump something like this on Wade? On anyone? It’s too much baggage. And it would require more self-divulging that Peter is comfortable with—in general. Peter’s not actually an open person. He’s private. He can’t share his emotions as easily as other people do.

He just wants to have control over himself. Like a man, like an adult.

And a small voice inside of him wants to be strong for Wade, which makes no sense at all. How is he supposed to be worthy of Wade if he can’t even pull himself together for his own problems? His mind flashes back to the beautiful woman in the photograph, cozied up to Wade’s side.

There was a beautiful woman. She looked confident and comfortable in her own skin. And then there’s Peter. Who’s skinny, short, insecure, and broke. He’s constantly having crises and can’t keep a maintain a basic amount of normal human interaction with people for acceptable amounts of time. Who goes to Wade and lets him solve all Peter’s problems. Who takes Wade’s openness for granted; always taking, but never offering anything in return. Hell, Peter hasn’t even told Wade his last name. He doesn’t text him from his real phone.

He stares at the phone. Wade’s reaching out to him, like a good boyfriend, giving Peter space, but letting him know he’s not alone. Without knowing why Peter’s been ignoring him. And Peter hasn’t responded to one of those texts. It’s not like he doesn’t have time to answer him or that he’s not reading the messages. Peter is just choosing not to answer, like an absolute jerk. But Peter just can’t. He’s one slip away from a breakdown and what if he breaks all over Wade? He might lose him for real this time.

What if Wade decides he’s too much trouble with his tantrums and mood swings? Peter jokes about Mr. Stark, but he’s just as changeable. He should come with a stamp that says high maintenance.

How many more issues can Peter bring to this relationship without making it toxic to Wade? It’s a good thing Wade can’t die, Peter thinks bitterly, because Peter is as cancerous as they come.

I’m sorry. Something came up with family.
A bit of a shock, just had to deal with it all.
I haven’t been really looking at my phone.
I’m ok.

kk bb just checkn in
u ever need smthg u just txt
no ?s
did u kno the fear of long words is...

hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?
how rude such a burn
also
it takes 364 licks 2 get 2 the center of a tootsie pop
#realscience #sexyscience
do u lyk lollipops bb? ;-D

Even through the wildfire, Peter laughs at that. By the time he gives the homeless man one of the store’s last sandwiches, he smiles as he leaves for the day.

-

Finally, it’s been two and a third weeks after he and Aunt May went for Thai. Peter, who’s traded patrolling for rocking himself to frenzied sleeps on his couch, dons his suit and jumps straight out of the window.

All through the whirlwind of Aunt May’s cancer discovery, Peter’s anxiety and restiveness have skyrocketed. He’s been jittery, edgy, and craving to do something reckless, though what, he doesn’t know. Is this what rebelling feels like? Or is this simply a misguided, dysfunctional coping technique long ingrained into man? Most likely the second.

Spider-Man swoops around Queens, flying over buildings at high speed until a ruckus catches his ear. It’s just his luck that he drops in on two hoodlums cornering a lady on a near empty street.

They’re two burly men, one with dreadlocks and the other with a shaved head and a red goatee. One wields a gun and the other, a baseball bat. The lady, dressed in a suit, is a holding an oversized tote of groceries in one hand and a purse—which, Peter’s almost positive, is the men’s target.

Peter webs himself down to the sidewalk by where they stand, placing himself deliberately in front of the lady.

“Hey fellas!” Spider-Man says, unfriendly, and catches their attention. The one with the bat skids to a stop, but the other one stands a little taller. There’s always one weak link. “You’re definitely in the wrong place if you’re looking for Yankee Stadium.”

Not his best starting line, but the way Peter webs the bat and tosses it toward the closest rooftop makes up for it. Legit BAMF.

Predictably, the now weaponless man curses and backs up a few steps. “Not fucking worth the time, man. We’re not getting paid enough,” he sneers, looking nervously at his companion.

“Don’t be a pussy. We have a job to do,” the other man replies.

It only takes a few quick steps forward to web the bat wielder to the ground. Peter’s Spidey fluid is strong enough to hold him until Peter takes care of his friend and can call the cops.

The distinct sound of a gun cocking has Peter jumping to attention.

Normally, it’s a sound that makes him tighten with nerves. Now, it makes him alight with anticipation. He’s itching for it—a good fight.

“Crawl back to your cave,” the man says and spits a huge loogy at Peter’s feet.

“Well, that was very rude,” Spider-Man tsks. In the back of him, he hears the way the lady makes a silent, unnoticed escape. Luckily for her, her would-be robbers are focused on new bait. “We might have to teach you some lessons.”

The man raises the gun, brandishing it menacingly at him with beady eyes.

“Not today, I guess,” Peter shrugs. “That’s alright, I’m sure you can get etiquette classes in prison.”

With a quick movement, he webs the hand with the gun just as it releases a bullet. Forced into dodging, Peter ducks down, pulling on his web. But the man won’t let the gun go. He fires another shot that’s interrupted by the web pulling him to the floor with Peter. It ricochets somewhere behind Peter, hitting glass.

Peter tugs again at the web and finally, it flings off to the side. He’s on the man just as he begins crawling to retrieve it.

Laying a hand on the guy was probably a rookie move. It earns him an elbow to the face. It’s a hard enough hit that Peter’s momentarily disoriented. But then like a computer, he feels himself come back online. His heart beats faster, his breathing is deeper, and his eyes fixate on the man. Tunnel vision.

Crawling. He’s crawling away from Peter, toward the gun.

Without thinking, Peter grabs his ankle with a gloved hand and pulls him backward, dragging him a few feet further into the alleyway near them. The way the man skids, groaning, looks painful. He’s probably scratched by the concrete. Peter can smell the tangy note of blood wafting into the air. The man pushes up to his feet with renewed fervor. Peter doesn’t like that.

Running forward, he grabs the man by the shoulder and slams him into the wall. The man shouts, curses, and kicks at Peter’s shins. The pain flairs through Peter in waves. It melts into his adrenaline.

He grabs the man by the neck, pulls him away from the wall, then slams him forcefully into the brick. Peter sees him choke, winded, with his head knocked back painfully.

More blood in the air.

The man’s hands grapple at Peter’s, trying to set his throat free. He squirms and gasps like an animal discovering it’s on its way to slaughter.

Peter slams him into the wall again, watching with a detached fascination as the man’s eyes roll back into his head and red liquid starts trickling from a laceration somewhere on his chin.

Peter’s hand is tight. He can feel the man’s esophagus pitifully trying to expand. He can feel the ridges of his spine in the back of his neck and how his pulse wanes as he gasps like a fish out of water.

It makes Peter shaky and exhilarated, electrified and omnipotent. As it is, Peter can almost feel the bruising happening. He could snap this man’s neck right now. With one hand.

Peter grinds him into the wall, the man’s unconscious body going slack in his grip.

He could snap his neck, pull his head off, and shove his entire hand into the man’s body, grab his heart and pull it out through his throat. Red ocean, red rivers, beating hearts, red, salty, life—and God, why is Peter so hungry?

Peter can feel his hand start to tighten. Just a bit more, just another flex of muscle, and he will feel a divulging snap. He can almost hear it already. Almost feel it already, like a freak memory from the abyss of his brainstem.

Just a little more and then—

“I thought I heard screams,” a familiar voice jars Peter, sounding from his left. “Well, it was either the sound of baddies attacking or a dubstep concert. T-B-H, I was hoping for the latter. Dubstep is my fucking beef. Infected Mushroom for life, amiright? Timmy Trumpet, tell me where them freaks at?”

Peter visibly lurches, head turning toward where Wade—no, Deadpool—is standing at the alley mouth, head tilted curiously and hands on his hips, regarding the site equably with an aura of ambivalence.

As soon as Peter turns, Deadpool’s body locks up, then in a gesture that is mind-bendingly familiar, he throws his hands up and flaps them in excitement.

“OHMYGAWD!” Deadpool screeches, his voice echoing down the alley. “You’re Spider-Man!”

That somehow calls Peter back to Earth. All the adrenaline and spontaneous bloodlust evaporates. Dropping the man to the floor, Peter stumbles a few steps backward into the shadows of the alley.

Oh, God. No. No, no, no, no. He doesn’t want Wade to meet him like this. He doesn’t want Wade to meet Spider-Man. He’s not ready for that in any way, shape, or form.

Peter flings his head around, looking for an exit. There’s only one: up.

Spider-Man is very okay with that.

Spinning on the spot, Peter charges into the alleyway in a sprint, heading for the back. With a running head start, he jumps onto a wall of a building and climbs a few feet before aiming a web at a roof. He uses it to run his way up the side of the building.

“Holy shit, that’s cool as fuck! Are you a mutant mountain climber? Still better than Hawk-Eye.”

When he gets to the roof, he can sling away from this building. Away from this part of the city. He can outswing Wade’s running.

“Hey, no, wait, Spidey!” Deadpool cries from somewhere on the ground. “Can I have your autograph? My friend thinks you’re a fairy! I thought we could make it a glitter bomb?”

Reaching the rooftop is a blessing.

-

Mr. Delmar’s is oddly empty the next day. The man blames it on a cold spell. It’s still sort of winter after all, though they’ve had more spring-like weather than usual. For three long hours, no one even walks by the shop except for the regular homeless man with raggedy braided hair that Peter suspects lives on this block. He must move from block to block depending on the season, because Peter’s sure he hasn’t seen him before.

He makes a note of it.

Peter’s stocking magazines and newspapers while Mr. Delmar scolds the clouds hiding the sun. This would be an opportune moment to get Wade jump started on his pro-green political stance. Peter thought it was a one-off rant, like many of his are, the first time he’d spoken about climate change after their time at Rosa’s. Turns out, it is a topic Wade’s rather passionate about. He actually does have a composting bin next to his recycling bin under the sink. He built it himself and he told Peter all about how he came up with its design and which species of earthworm he’d selected. Peter has also seen him separate different recycling materials into different bins on more than one occasion.  

It’s kind of adorable.

Just as cute as when Wade had informed him, very concernedly, about the Ord’s kangaroo rat, an endangered species in southern Canada. He’d also mentioned an endangered species of wolverine found in northern boreal forests. Then he’d told Peter not to worry too much about that one.

Wade being a closet environmentalist is so endearing that Peter finds himself grinning about it now.

He misses Wade.

What’s new? He’s a broken record.

He misses Wade, but he still hasn’t texted him back after those three measly sentences. Instead Peter stews in his own frustration and self-pity, fueled even further by Spider-Man’s impromptu run-in with Deadpool. He doesn’t want to think about that at all.

He pushes himself harder during patrol, works as mindlessly as he can during the day, and falls into deep sleeps only to wake up exhausted the next morning. Rise, repeat.

He misses Wade, he misses Aunt May. Neither of them is gone, but here he is, missing them both.

What’s wrong with him?

Peter can’t keep pushing people he loves away. He’s taking the easy way out, not the right way. Dumbledore would be disappointed.

He needs to get over himself before he does something irreparable that he’ll regret.

Like not talking to his Aunt before she dies. Peter feels a seize of panic wash over him. Like pushing Wade away enough that he realizes he’ll be better off with someone else.

Peter resolves to talk to them both after work. No more hiding.

Nodding to himself, Peter shuffles the newspapers neatly into place, running a hand over them to smooth them. He frowns as he reads the title.

Another missing person. From Jamaica.

Peter leans a little closer, taking a good look at the picture on the front page. The man almost looks familiar. But then again, he has very average features.

Adric Johnson.

Never heard of him.

In the end, he’s saved from having to text Wade first.

hey bb sry 2 txt u @ werk
weas wants 2 meet 2nite
4 business
his crib, 9ish?

Peter beams. Not at the thought of seeing Weasel, but at the opportunity to see Wade. He packs up an extra sandwich and takes it out to the homeless person outside, handing it over what is probably an inappropriately sized grin.

The man just smiles back at Peter in thanks.

-

Peter bypasses Saint Margaret’s and heads straight to the stairway leading to Weasel’s apartment. On his path, he sees the traffic cone firmly planted on the bar. Peter’s not particularly excited to see Weasel, but he is curious about what Weasel wants to discuss. If Peter is on the right page, he’ll be reporting in about the Stark Tower footage.

On the other hand, Peter is almost too excited to see Wade. He should probably feel a little shamed about ignoring him. The guilt is there, but it’s quickly overshadowed by his fluttering heart when he realizes he’s going to be next to Wade, in the same room. He’d endure Weasel just for that prize. There’s that schoolboy crush.

He knocks politely on Weasel’s door and he perks up when a, “Come right on in,” greets him.

Peter goes inside the apartment and smiles—a real, relieved smile for the first time in too long—when he’s greeted with a sweatpants-sweatshirt adorned Wade sitting at the table of tech junk. No Geiger Counter anywhere, Peter notes with increasing positivity.

Even better, Weasel is nowhere in sight.

Peter practically speed walks up to the table, halting to a stop just at an empty seat next to Wade’s long legs.

Wade beams up at him. “Hiya, baby boy,” he says, “I’m happy you’re here. I don’t want to be alone with Weasel. Blind Al stole my stun gun and now I can’t shock him into good behavior.”

One day, Peter’s going to have to ask about who Blind Al is.

With his head resting on his hand, elbow on the tabletop, Wade juts his chin out and points to his lips. Peter is more than agreeable to the invitation. He hops over to stand between Wade’s legs and presses a kiss to Wade’s textured lips. It’s a sweet, chaste kiss. It’s full of some undiscovered mojo that calms Peter like nothing else.

When Wade’s arms slip around him, pulling Peter to rest against him, Peter sighs like a weight has been lifted from his heart.

Wade hums, leaning back a fraction to look at Peter’s face. Even sitting like this, with Peter standing, they’re pretty much eye level. Peter frowns at that. How tall are these chairs?

“You’re not okay,” Wade whispers, clicking his tongue and looking far too serious in comparison to how carefree he’d just sounded.

Peter tries not to choke on his own nerves. He doesn’t think about Aunt May. He doesn’t let himself.

Do not give Wade baggage, he thinks with a reprimand to himself. Wade doesn’t need any more anyway. Doing his best, he plasters a smile on his face and shakes his head “no”, like Wade’s absolutely mistaken.

Bad liar.

They’ve been through this.

Wade looks unconvinced.

Peter probably could have predicted that.

Invisible eyebrows raised at Peter, Wade’s hand slithers from around his waist to hover in front of Peter’s face. He rubs the pad of his index finger between Peter’s eyebrows.

“You carry your stress here, pumpkin,” Wade comments.

At a loss of what to do, Peter grabs Wade’s finger and pulls it to his lips, kissing it softly. It’s an everything kiss. An apology kiss. As in, Peter’s sorry he’s a shithead. Peter’s sorry for ignoring Wade. Peter’s sorry for shutting Wade out. Peter’s sorry for lying to him. With a pinch of Peter’s missed him so much and can someone please stop Peter from making bad adulting decisions? Again with the apologies. Peter’s totally that annoying person in the group.

Wade sees all of that. Peter can tell from the way his face softens.

Forgiven.

As always.

It shouldn’t be this easy, right?

Weasel chooses that moment to stampede his way into the room. He strides right up to them and thrusts something huge and hot pink right between their chests. The movement causes them both to jerk apart a bit.

With his reflexes, Peter catches the hideously pink thing before it falls to the floor. His fingers stick to it.

Weasel hums.

Then Wade grabs it from Peter’s hands and turns it around.

It’s a hot pink balloon, filled to maximum capacity with air. On one side, it has a poorly drawn face with uneven eyes, a nose, and “O” shaped mouth. There’s some sort of ring around its top. Hair?

“What the fuck is this, Picasso?” Wade asks, holding the thing out to Peter like it’s too creepy for him to touch. Peter takes it reluctantly, squinting down at it. It’s really not a good piece of art.

“Wilson, Mouse,” Weasel says, falling into the chair next to them. He has one huge brick of a laptop in his hand. He shoves tech from the junkyard around to make space for it on the table. “Meet Jesus.”

They blink at Weasel.

“Jesus, meet Wilson and Mouse,” he regards the pink balloon. “From henceforth, you shall only be allowed within Jesus-plus distance of each other in my abode.”

Peter looks down at the sad balloon. It looks like it’s suffering from its own existence. A self-portrait?

“Ha, ha, hardy-har-har, Weasel,” Wade snarks, “You’re a real comedian.”

“It’s not comedy, Wilson,” Weasel bites out, “It’s the dire measures you force me to take.”

“I’m gonna force this party balloon right up main street if you don’t knock it the fuck off.”

“I don’t see what’s wrong with adding a few boundaries to our aging relationship. You don’t have to force everyone to witness your alternative love.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, were you worried you’d turn to salt if you looked? You’re already five circles into Hell, you might as well tinker through Sodom—”

Peter claps his hands, calling out to them both. It’s already nine o'clock at night. He doesn’t want to be here forever. If he’s very lucky, they can finish this in twenty minutes and he and Wade can be off on their way.

“Can we please get to the point of this meeting?” Peter asks in a tired voice.

He can tell Wade is immediately apologetic from the way he strokes Peter’s back. Peter is quick to lean into him. He’s not mad at Wade. He’s just tired with how Weasel stirs the pot so quickly. The two of them confuse Peter to no end. They’re always fighting, playfully and not so playfully. The fights always turn serious at least once a banter. Sometimes, they appear to hate each other’s guts and other times, they seem as thick as thieves. For all they fight, they still work for each other. They still seem to hang out even outside of work; they know each other in ways that actually make Peter peeved. He feels jealous that Weasel seems to know so much about Wade.

Peter can’t wrap his head around their twisted sense of loyalty to each other.

Hm, jealous again. So quickly in a short amount of time. Peter swears he’s never felt jealousy before these past few days. Where has this come from? Peter feels like he’s turning into something ugly.

In response, Weasel looks expectantly at Peter.

Peter stares back. “What?” he asks. “Are we here to talk about Schrodinger’s footage or not?”

Surprisingly, that gets a full-blown cackle from Weasel, his eyes crinkling in amusement.

And there’s that. The way that Weasel seems to enjoy Peter one minute and then, ready to eat him the next. It’s too confusing. The man’s hot and cold. He’s a Joker card.

“The cat lives,” Weasel replies, typing a bit into the laptop, then turning it to face Peter and Wade. It’s a black screen with so much code that it looks like a fake spy wallpaper.

“What’s that?” Wade questions from behind Peter.

“That, my dim friend, is the footage,” he gestures widely at the screen.

“Doesn’t look much like a video to me,” Wade grumbles.

“It’s encrypted,” Peter bites out, feeling dismayed, wary, and excited all at once. This footage could be the key to finding the criminals behind these research attempts. Peter’s been ordered off the case, but Mr. Stark doesn’t know about this. He’s certain. Mr. Stark could use this. Well. He could use the footage of everything except Peter and Deadpool breaking and entering. That they could just cut out.

“It’s Fort Knox,” Weasel agrees. “It’s going to take more than a few Monsters to break through this cloud.”

“Can you do it?” Wade asks, sounding bored.

“Maybe,” Weasel says. Before Peter can scream at him, he continues. “I might need an expert’s help. It might take a while. But eventually.”

“So, get it the fuck done. What kind of shit business meeting was this? It came prematurely. Just like you always do,” Wade kicks Weasel’s chair, making the man squeak, hands steadying his laptop.

Weasel raises his shoulders in defense and narrows his eyes at Wade. “Two favors.”

“You mean you can’t be satisfied with one, you greedy fucking fuck? Greed is a sin, you know. Can you feel the tingle of that hellfire yet?”

“Two favors,” Weasel says, annunciating each word. “I’m losing money left and right. First, the problems with your ass. Now Sunny lost another one. These ninjas are single-handedly putting me out of fucking business. If I do this for free, I’ll shut down.”

Peter frowns, waving the balloon to get their attention. “Ninjas?” he inquires dubiously.

Weasel rolls his eyes at Peter. Like he wants Peter gone, but at the same time, he doesn’t care enough to kick him out. Peter’s an annoyance, not a threat. Very insulting. Peter could judo chop Weasel in half.

“Eh, Weas is just pissed that Sunny’s a fucktard. I told you he was special. Like, short bus special. I don’t know why you keep handing cards out to him.”

“Watch yourself, Wilson,” Weasel growls, “You’re his matching fucktard soulmate. If I recall correctly, you were numero uno in the line up of ‘I lost my mark to a ninja and didn’t even notice.’ Literally retarded. I wish I could shove your ass on Dr. Phil. You need medication.”

“Yeah?” Wade sits up straighter, pushing Peter out of the way to glare at Weasel directly. “I may need meds, but he needs some milk. Sunny’s actually an idiot. He also has the physique of a Cornish hen. His marks probably outran him and got offed by a lawn mower. He’s making up the ninja bullshit. He’s just trying to copy me.”

“Sunny’s not a liar. He’s just stupid. He’s too stupid to lie. It makes him reliable,” Weasel grunts. “Not everyone’s trying to copy you, you narcissist.”

“He is,” Wade crows, “He spent five weeks trying to chat me up in the bar. Wanted to learn my reconnaissance techniques. He was all like, ‘Wade, brother, tell me your secret to offing these hush puppies?’ Three times a week for five weeks. By week two, I wanted to kill him and I told the Nazi-fucker to stop stalking me. But he wouldn’t. I felt personally victimized. And so, I was like, ‘Why are you so obsessed with me’?”

“Listen, Regina George,” Weasel cuts Wade off mid-rant. “None of that has to do with anything. Two favors, I get your amateur porn vid, sorry I mean heist footage.”

Peter dares to invade the conversation. More out of necessity than desire. “How long will it take?”

Weasel shrugs. “Could be two hours, could be ten weeks. Depends on who I can drum up to help me and how repetitive the encryption is.”

“Boo! You whore,” Wade mumbles. “Just get it done and call me then. You’re a waste of time.”

“You’re a waste of space.”

“You know who’s a waste of space?” Wade grabs the balloon from Peter, stands, and whacks Weasel in the head with it. “Jesus.”

It breaks loudly, sending Weasel jumping. The result is Weasel’s hair sticking up like a troll doll with static electricity, a dead balloon carcass atop of it like a hot pink cherry on a sundae.

“Pop goes the Weasel.”

That’s all Wade says, then he’s pulling Peter out of the apartment by the hand, leaving Weasel fuming behind them. Sometimes, Wade makes a good mean girl.

-

They stomp down the stairs and into the bar, passing a couple of gothic women discussing the morbid news of a businessman’s disappearance after a terrace party. There’s a moment as they’re leaving that, just as they exit Sister Margaret’s, that Wade bites his lip and flounders a bit. At first, Peter thinks he might have something to say, but when Wade goes to drop his hand, Peter realizes that Wade’s trying to give him a choice: leave with him or not. It’s a choice Peter doesn’t need. Despite the contrary evidence of the past two weeks, Peter wants nothing more than to be around Wade.

He can’t deal with himself right now. He misses Wade and in a selfish way, he wants to be with Wade because Wade’s very good at calming Peter down.

Peter grabs his hand and starts toward Wade’s condo. He takes a few steps ahead of Wade, tugging to encourage him to follow.

Wade stands as stiff as a statue for only a few seconds before he sighs.

“Dat ass,” he whispers dreamily, stumbling forward to catch up with Peter.

Peter ignores that. He wasn’t supposed to hear it, he thinks. It makes him bite down on a smile anyway.

After a moment of pulling, Wade’s fingers thread through his own with a reassuring squeeze and they fall into step. When they finally get there, Wade shrugs at him.

“Shower, then food?” he asks, toeing on blue Crocs.

And apparently, they’ve fallen into a domestic routine without either of them realizing it.

-

Chapter Text

Food turns out to be Chinese takeaway, which Peter is both happy to see, but somewhat disappointed that he’s not getting another chance to taste one of Wade’s eclectic, homemade dishes. Nevertheless, Peter has never met a dumpling he didn’t like.

They wolf it down with impressive gusto.

When they finish, Wade skips out to shower, giving Peter the remote and the password to his Netflix account. Peter dutifully goes to the red couch and sits. But as he lifts the remote, he finds he can’t just sit there. He looks around the room, taking in its cleanliness, the size of the television, the details of the coffee table. There’s a stack of papers on it, sitting like Wade threw it down mid-work. Peter chastises himself and looks away. No more snooping. Peter is a dreadful guest.

He’s too restless; thrumming with manic energy, even though he feels like his eyes are going to fall out of his head from fatigue.

He drops the remote and cleans up the plates left behind from dinner. There aren’t many crumbs of food on the plates, but what few there are go into the composter. The plastic goes into the recycling bins. Then Peter takes the plates and silverware, brings them to the sink, and get to work scrubbing.

The purple sponge squelches with bubbles under the force of his hand. Peter tries to exercise his focus, to train his mind to live in the now. That’s what people are supporting nowadays, right? Mindfulness. Living for the present: don’t get caught up in the past or future. It’s a good technique to promote positive mental health.

Peter’s mental health, is thus, by that simple indicator anything but positive.

Faces flash through his mind, clips of conversations race through his thoughts, and emotions build and climb over each other, building a mountain of stress right in the atoms of his being. Aunt May. Siobhan Findley. Mr. Stark. The Goldsteins. The boy. Esther.

Esther with bubbles in her hair and a paisley, violet colored tea towel wringing in her hands as she dries dishes.

Peter smiles grimly to himself. Was Esther the kind of kid that helped with chores? Or was she like so many kids, lost in her own world of own mind’s eye? What sorts of things Esther did and didn’t do, he’ll never know. Her parents won’t know. She won’t know.

Peter scrubs harder at the plate, biting his lip.

Mr. Goldstein’s friend. Peter’s mind conjures a vivid picture of him. Dark hair, crisp with gel in a way that makes it shiny. Dark brown eyes, dark brown skin. Freckles above his left eyebrow. White teeth, pearly, smiling down at him—thirty white horses on a red hill.

Peter stills.

His hands pause, sponge squeezed in one, the plate held limply in his other. Warm water sluices over them from the faucet of the kitchen sink. Peter’s eyes stare at the subway tile backsplash unseeingly.

That’s not right.

Peter’s never seen that man smile. But it doesn’t seem to matter to his own imagination. Peter sees the man smile, his features set in an approving grin. Peter can see every wisp of facial hair, every line in his face, every freckle—did he have freckles? Peter hadn’t noticed freckles on him before. He was never that close to him and even his keen eyesight couldn’t find lone, scattered beauty marks strewn on a far-away face.

He bites his lip harder. The man’s not beautiful. He’s attractive, yes. But the attractiveness is ruined by his clinical smiles. Just the suggestion of him makes Peter feel uneasy. Frightened. Annoyed? Distasteful.

Confused.

“You didn’t have to clean up, sweetheart.”

Peter’s head jerks to see Wade, freshly showered, standing behind him, leaning against the island. He frowns at that. Wade’s become something akin to Peter’s shadow. Peter can’t detect him unconsciously anymore. It’s like Peter’s Spidey sense, all of his senses really, find it acceptable to ignore signs of Wade’s coming or going. Peter doesn’t know what turns their attention on and off. Danger, he thought. Dangerous things and people set Peter’s alarms off. The intention to hurt coupled with quick movements in adrenaline-filled situations make Peter’s alarms go off. Wade is very dangerous.

But not dangerous to Peter.

It’s like Peter’s body already knew that.

Wade’s watching him.

Something in the back of Peter’s spine crawls, telling him he hates being watched.

That’s not true.

Peter blinks.

He’s shy. Sure. Peter’s more of a loner than a people person nowadays. The anxiety is real. But Peter doesn’t mind being the center of attention every once in a while. Spider-Man usually is. And Peter likes it when Wade watches him. It makes him feel wanted. It makes him feel alive.

The next time Peter blinks, Wade has shifted his weight and his stare seems to be dredged from the depths of evaluation. Wade seems to come to a conclusion mutely. He pushes off the island and reaches around Peter to take the plate from him.

“I think this is all clean now,” he says lightly, placing the plate aside with its sibling on a drying rack. Peter doesn’t remember washing the other plate.

Then Wade turns off the faucet, frees the sponge, and pats Peter’s hands dry with a tea towel.

Peter’s hands are white and wrinkly. How long has he been standing here?

The next thing Peter knows, he’s being herded into the living room. Wade drops down on the couch, taking up too much space as usual. Wade flicks the television on and chooses something. Peter can’t really focus. He watches Wade more out of helplessness than to monitor his television program choices.

Peter’s hands feel clammy. He stares at them in dismay until he feels a nudge at his shoulder.

Wade’s looking at him again. “C’mere,” his voice is soft. “My legs are killing me. I was at Sissy Maggie’s all day and Weas had me cramped in a stupid barstool sorting cards.”

Peter goes without question, letting Wade rearrange them. Wade pulls himself over to lay on the couch, propped up at the couch’s arm on either end. He’s too big for the couch. He’s sitting more than laying, with his legs drawn up. With careful hands, like Peter might turn to ash if he presses too hard, he pulls Peter on top of him so that Peter can rest the back of his head onto Wade’s chest and let his legs fall to either side of Wade’s. Along his back, Peter can feel Wade solid and sturdy beneath him, warm and reassuring.

He’s not sure how this position will ease Wade’s aches though.

Peter’s body relaxes, but his mind feels floaty and buzzing. Like he’s missing something like there’s something on the tip of his tongue that he keeps forgetting to point out.

The television speaks in the background. At one point, Peter tries to turn and watch it, but he can’t even move his head. He feels like he doesn’t have the energy to do so. The Chinese food, heavy in his stomach, does nothing to satiate an empty hunger in the pit of his gut.

He doesn’t know how long they sit there together.

Then his attention is finally caught by Wade shifting. Wade reaches to the coffee table and pulls the stack of papers onto his own thighs, flipping them over, then resting them there. There’s another fit of squirming. Out of nowhere, Wade pulls a pack of chunky crayons and dumps them on Peter’s stomach.

Peter looks at them questioningly.

Wade doesn’t say anything. He just picks up a black one and begins drawing.

Peter is willing to admit he never thought Wade was an artistic guy. But Wade’s revealed a lot of himself here and there, usually something that sends Peter for a loop. It’s always a subtle reveal, too. Not a grand gesture of declaration. Wade’s the artichoke, with layers constantly, but slowly, being peeled away by himself and himself only. Each layer is a mystery box. Peter doesn’t know what he’ll get. A surprising knowledge of Shakespeare or the ability to pin a sexual predator from within a dark bar. A world-class appreciation for a foreign culture or a stark reminder that he is a self-made murderer.

Now apparently, it’s doodles.

Peter watches with half a mind as black lines curve and stroke over the white paper. They mold and wind in creation.

Then he sees what Wade’s drawing. And it pulls a breathless laugh out of him.

Chibi Deadpools.

All in different stages of action, with mini katanas, mini Crocs, a mini apron. Some are fighting, some are cooking, some are dancing.

With a snap, Peter’s attention is caught. He watches with a toothy, amused grin as Wade continues drawing one after the other, lining them up like they’re a little army.

Wade only pauses to grab a red crayon, which he shoves into Peter’s hand.

Peter hums in question, but Wade doesn’t answer verbally. He just grabs Peter’s hand and guides it to the paper.

When Peter starts coloring them in, he feels a kiss of approval pressed to the nape of his neck. It warms his skin, sending shivers down his spine.

He feels like he could grow roots here.

-

Peter doesn’t fall asleep, but he does enter some sort of haze. His mind is blank now, peaceful, even as his hand aches from coloring. When they’d covered the backs of all of the pages with chibis, Wade had let Peter keep the papers in his hands while relocating his own to sit on Peter’s right thigh and sternum. Peter had studied each little Deadpool doodle, tongue poking out of his mouth and crayon in hand to make any last-minute fixes. Unlike Wade, Peter doesn’t have an artistic bone in him. Even coloring had been enough of a challenge that it hadn’t been mindless for him. On the other hand, Wade produces doodles like a factory.  

When Peter is finally finished studying them, one of Wade’s hands finds Peter’s hair and ruffles it.

“Is it late enough that we can skip naptime and go straight to bedtime?” Wade smiles into Peter’s neck.

Sleep sounds nice.

Peter lets himself be led to the unmade bed. He sits cross-legged on it, watching Wade shed his hoodie. Peter glares at the long-sleeved shirt. It’s supposed to be a furtive glare. The kind of glare that only lasts a few seconds while Wade’s ducking his head.

Peter doesn’t want Wade to think he’s ungrateful. He knows Wade lacks self-esteem when it comes to his body.

Or does he? Scratch that, Peter knows nothing. Unbidden, he thinks back to the photograph in Wade’s drawer. Wade really, in all honesty, doesn’t look that different. The trauma of his experience, however, is written onto his very being. Even if Wade managed to escape its clutches mentally, all he needs to do is look in the mirror to be reminded that his normalcy was robbed from him for the sake of the Canadian government.

But Peter’s not certain of the extent of self-consciousness Wade experiences. Peter knows that Wade walked suit free around Weasel and if he guesses right, Saint Margaret’s. That was before Peter came around. It had taken a considerable amount of time for Wade to reveal his entire face to Peter. Why? Because he thought Peter would be shallow enough to reject him based on appearance, it seemed. Nevertheless, Wade must have seen Peter’s true self because the reveal happened eventually. So maybe Wade’s body insecurities flare up in some situations more than others.

Peter kind of resents that he seemingly counts as the situation that worsens them, rather than ameliorates them. It makes Peter frustrated because Wade knows that the scars don’t bother him.

But does Wade know this? On second thought, Peter’s unsure.

With a moment of reflection, Peter recalls all the times Wade has been perceptive on behalf of Peter. Wade always knows what to say. He always seems to know how Peter’s feeling. He knows when Peter needs calming down—for Heaven’s sake, he just spent two hours coloring with him, so Peter wouldn’t implode from self-fabricated madness. Peter’s always trying to make himself into a better person, into the person he wants to be. That type of person includes evolving into a better partner to Wade.

What does Wade need?

When Wade first showed Peter his face, he’d waited with anticipation for Peter’s reaction. Peter had been quick to kiss him gratefully as soon as he noticed the evidence of second-guessing creeping into his eyes.

What does Wade need? Validation? The mere suggestion of it makes Peter want to roll his eyes. Wade would turn any compliment into a joke and brush it off.

Suddenly, the bed dips and Wade is sitting next to Peter. He shifts, trying to catch Peter’s eye. But Peter can’t help but look bitterly at the shirt he’s wearing. It seems to represent everything that Peter can’t do for Wade. Had that woman, the one in the photograph, been able to give Wade what he needed without glaring daggers at his articles of clothing? She probably had. She was a woman. Peter still feels like he has one foot in Midtown High School.

He chances a peek up at Wade’s eyes.

Is this what they’re going to do all night? Stare at each other? Play guessing games as to what’s going on in the other’s head? He doesn’t want Wade to figure out everything he’s thinking. It’s embarrassing that Peter has to try this hard while everything about their relationship seems to come so naturally to Wade.

Wade laughs softly.

He reaches out and rubs a thumb between Peter’s eyes, then pokes the tip of Peter’s nose. “The nose wrinkle and the brows of consternation. What in the name of tarnation are you thinking about?”

Peter brushes his own nose roughly, soothing the tickle away and willing his tells to stop giving him away.

“You’re gonna need Botox, baby,” Wade chuckles. “It’s a good thing we gave Brain Town a little break today. I’d rather you not end up on Botched at so tender of an age.”

Peter sighs.

“Hey,” he murmurs. A finger pushes Peter’s chin up and then he’s looking at Wade, finally eye to eye. There’s no escaping this one. Wade just crinkles his eyes and shakes his head, a smile pulling at his lips. “You always think too much, Bambi. Out with it. All you need to do is ask.”

“Will you take your shirt off?”

Wade’s guffaw and genuinely overjoyed, gasping grin is all Peter needs to feel the blood start racing to his cheeks. Not exactly what he was trying to say. Well, sort of, but not really.

“Why don’t you ever take your shirt off?”

An invisible eyebrow cocked his way, Wade breathes around a laugh. “How do you think I showered? This isn’t an episode of TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates; I own a washing machine, baby boy. The clothes go there, and I shower buck naked. A birthday suit is the only attire for the bathroom.”

Peter smacks Wade right in the shoulder, then revels in Wade’s hiss as he rubs his own heated face. Wade’s going to make him say it. So much for not being awkward for one day of his life. “Why don’t you ever take your shirt off when you’re around me? You know the scars don’t bother me.”

“I know they don’t,” Wade says with the same befuddled sense of awe he carried when Peter had reverently caressed his bare face. “I’ll admit, some of it is a force of habit. I’m used to covering up. What can I say, Weapon X made me conservative?”

“Some of it,” Peter echoes, trying to understand. So, part of it is a bit of insecurity. But only part? Then what’s the rest of the explanation?

Wade purses his lips, looking every bit like he’s deciding whether or not to answer.

Peter’s notices something.

Wade doesn’t usually linger on making decisions if they’re about Wade. He only seems to deliberate extravagantly if they’re about Peter. For Wade? He can make a choice for himself and run straight into it, head first, guns cocked. That includes conversations. If he talks about himself, he’ll barrel on freely, ranting and oversharing without a second thought. If he doesn’t want to talk about himself, then he doesn’t. Period. End scene.

But when it comes to Peter, Wade’s less impulsive. He offers Peter choices. Then he gives Peter time to make decisions and to decide whether or not to continue with those decisions. If Wade is making a decision on Peter’s behalf, it’s always with Peter’s permission and it always requires a moment of silence in which Wade must be thinking. Like before, when Peter got a little stare, then a nod, before Wade pulled him away from the sink and onto the couch. It’s like he’s weighing pros and cons or drawing tables in his head.

This then is not about Wade. From the way Wade looks considering at Peter concludes that this is about Peter. And how the hell is Wade getting naked about Peter? Peter will not say that aloud because it will inevitably be met with a sly look and a ridiculous comment about what Weasel dubs “The Nasty”.

Instead, Peter crosses his arms and squints up at Wade. “Why do I have a feeling I’m not going to like what you’re about to say?”

Wade winces. “I could not say it then?” he offers, looking hopeful in a way that makes Peter highly suspicious.

“Why do you not take off your shirt around me?” Peter demands, adding, “Or the rest of your clothes? You’ve seen me naked.” And why does it feel like Peter has to beg to touch Wade when they’re having sex? Why does Wade only seem to relent when Peter’s too sexed out to focus?

He doesn’t say the last bit, but Wade still hears it. Wade’s wince enters cringe territory.

“This is a really complex question, Petey pie!” he whines, “A hard question. Hard like motherfuckin’ liquid swords. Harder than worldwide stadium tours.” Wade looks away, head bobbing to an unheard beat. “Hard like a rock ‘n roll, time bombs ticking—explode! Baby, this is dynam-o.”

“Uh-huh. Hard like geometry and trigonometry. This is crazy, psychology,” Peter says frostily. “You can go hard or you can go home,” Peter suppresses his amusement, unwilling to let Wade weasel out of the conversation with his randomness. Peter ignores the way Wade quirks a pleased grin at Peter’s small indulgence. It’s cute. Peter gives himself a moment to feel proud that he’s made Wade relax a tad.

Peter refuses to let himself get lost in babble. “Answer me, please?”

Wade’s face is still set with caution, but it’s gentled. They both calm each other with stupidity, it seems. Peter likes this part of them.

“This is new for you, Peter.” Wade says it like a confession. “Everything, not just the sex. But hell, all of it with the sex? It’s a lot. I’m not even sure if you realize it.”

“This?” Peter interrupts before Wade can continue without him following.

A wide gesture precedes Wade’s answer. “Our relationship.” He says it almost thoughtfully like Peter might claw him for using the word. Peter wouldn’t. He’s never sure what to call them, other than them. Peter wants a relationship; he feels they have one already. Peter is Wade’s boyfriend. Isn’t that what he told Weasel? Or was he just snarking it up?

Partner is a more mature word, right? That’s what mature adults in a relationship refer to each other as Peter thinks.

Then like a brain freeze, his head cramps when he takes in what Wade just said.

“You’re keeping your shirt on because I’m a virgin?” Peter blurts out, affronted.

Wade’s quick to shake his head in denial. “No! No, you just put words into my mouth—” He freezes, then looks surreptitiously at Peter, whispering, “Sweetheart, are you still a virgin even if I’ve blown you from here to Kingdom C-U-M? Because virginity is just a social construct, by the way. The whole pussy plus penis definition a product of a close-minded, repressed society. There are other ways to have sex. I, myself, know five ways to achieve a prostate-assisted orgasm. Also I’d like to take this moment to point out that I’m eager to share that knowledge with inquiring, Bambi minds.”

“Oh my God, stop!” Peter shouts. Peter’s not sure why, but he never wants Wade to say the word “pussy” again.  He’s pretty sure he went green at that. Without a thought, he punches Wade’s bicep again.

“Fuck!” Wade cries, hand rushing to put pressure on it. “Fuck a fucking, llama, llama, duck. Damn, son, you eat your Wheaties for breakfast. Bambi, Christ!”

Peter blinks from his fist to Wade’s bicep. Did he really punch that hard? Peter normally has very good control over his strength. Mostly because he never lets it off the leash. Worried, Peter pries Wade’s hand off his bicep. He can’t see it, of course, because Wade’s still wearing his shirt (hello, the point of this conversation) but Peter probes it gently. Wade pouts. But nothing feels broken.

“You’re a drama llama,” Peter mumbles, tempted to hit him again. “Stop trying to avoid this conversation. You won’t take your shirt off because what? We’ve established I’m attracted to you and that I actively have sex with you. Please, tell me why these two points have led to you remaining clothed.”

Wade’s still pouting. “Awkward turtle,” he grumbles. “It’s a lot. You’re still learning about sex and I’m your reference point. It’s a lot of pressure, by the way, because I want it to be fucking stellar for you by being a stellar fuck. And before you start, I like the pressure and no, that has nothing to do with it. Maybe? Sorry, look,” Wade pauses, collecting his thoughts. “If I take my clothes off, I feel like it’s less about you.”

Peter blinks, uncomprehendingly. “And you want my sex life to be one-sided?” Peter thinks he’s doing extremely well in this conversation. Very level headed, very adult. It must be the shock of it all. He had honestly been prepared for Wade to blame his clothedness on the scars and be reassured when Peter told him he didn’t care.

Nothing’s that easy in real life.

“Yes!” Wade groans, rubbing his face. “No. I said it was a hard question. It has lots of complexities.” A lot like Wade himself. Peter is unsurprised. “Baby, part of me still has issues with my own body, I admit it. But I know, we’ve established you don’t have any issues with it. Another part of me likes keeping the clothes on because I want you to be focused on yourself when we’re together. I know I’m your first, Peter, and I fucking love it. I want you to explore the sensations and get to know what certain things feel like without having to worry about reciprocating. I don’t want you to feel pressured or to feel like you have to change what you like based on whether or not I like it.” Wade looks like he’s going to say something else, but he stops. It’s a full stop.

Peter frowns.

“Wade,” he starts. Then he takes a moment to just gather his thoughts before he says something that doesn’t make any sense. This is not the time for a famous Parker one-liner.

“Thank you,” Peter says. Because it’s kind of sweet. Wade’s always covertly kind. Sex exploration without having to feel the stress of pleasing a partner, of showing a partner how incompetent they are? It’s probably someone’s dream first time.

He likes Wade’s experience. He likes his firm hand, how he always knows where to lead Peter, how he takes the pressures of responsibility and indecision away from Peter. Has Wade been doing that just to get Peter used to sex?

Wade is right. Virginity is a social construct. Definitions of virginity are fluid. Peter doesn’t see his virginity as intact. It was gone the first time he was intimate with Wade. So, why is Peter still on training wheels?

All you have to do is ask.

Peter’s not speaking up when he’s supposed to. He’s doing the Peter Parker thing where he stuffs it into the bottle and hopes it solves itself or just gets lost at sea. Spider-Man is all about being active; Peter is passive.

Oh, when shall the two meet?

“I like how you make me feel,” he ignores his own blush, speaking past it. Looking at Wade’s shoulder helps. “I’d like to make you feel just as good,” Peter picks at his thumbnail. “When we have,” he rubs his nose, “sex, I-I feel like I’m giving a part of myself to you, especially when I’m naked, I feel….” Vulnerable. He feels vulnerable and small, needy, and unrestrained. In a good way. Like he’s entrusting himself to Wade and Wade takes care of him, every time, unfailingly. He feels like he’s giving himself to Wade and the pure high that comes with giving himself to Wade—Wade, who knows exactly what to do with him—is almost as pleasurable as the orgasm itself.

This line of thought is quickly sinking ocean wreck deep, lost in the current. Where did that level-headed, adult conversationalist go? Could Peter ring him back, please?

“I just don’t want you to feel like you have to hide from me. For my sake or for your sake.” There. Peter should have said that from the beginning. That clears it up. “I want you to take off your shirt if you want to. Not to keep it on or take it off because I want you to. You don’t have to make sex just about me. Including you is sorta the point. And if I’m glaring at your shirt, it’s just because I’m barely a not-teenager and you’re hot and, of course, I want to see what you look like.”

Facepalm, thy name is Peter.

The last part was supposed to be a silent thought.

“How do you feel?”

Peter looks up from behind his bangs—he really needs a haircut—quizzically at Wade. Here, Peter went on babbling and what had Wade pulled out? Why does he look like that? He looks like he’s sniffing out a trail of gold on the other side of a rainbow. And when had he shifted onto his knees on the bed?

“What?” Peter shrugs, “What do you mean, how do I feel?”

“When we’re having sex, how do you feel?”

Peter’s hands wring together, “That’s not what we’re talking about! We’re talking about you—”

“We’ve cleared it up,” Wade says, then very deliberately raises himself up on his knees and promptly pulls his shirt off. It falls on the pillow behind him. He sits on his ankles, leaning forward just slightly.

He looks huge from this angle. From above Peter, sitting taller than Peter. The scarring is everywhere and so are the muscles. He’s tense like he’s holding back. Like the lions on the gold chains at the circus. He’s not moving, but Peter can easily envision him prowling back and forth, powerful and predatory.

Peter happily stares his fill, warmth pooling in his gut.

Wade’s eyes find Peter’s and he holds them intensely. “When we’re having sex, how do you feel?”

Uh oh.

Peter’s fingers twist into the sheets, feeling the charged air begin to collect. How does Wade’s voice do that? Peter thinks his own voice still cracks on a bad day.

Wade licks his lips and Peter watches, magnetized. “When we’re having sex and you’re giving yourself to me, how do you feel?”

It’s Peter’s words thrown back at himself.

But they hadn’t felt nearly as seductive when he said them.

Peter shrugs, swallowing. He can’t answer that. It’s not that he doesn’t have the answer, it’s that he can’t get it out. Probably because he can’t breathe and his throat is a desert.

Wade leans forward just a bit more. Peter feels it like a seismic wave, quaking him to the core.

“When you’re giving yourself to me, what do you want?”

Peter wants everything. Anything that Wade will give him. When they’re having sex, peripherally, Peter wants Wade to make him come; he wants to make Wade come. But wrapped up and woven through that is the near sickening sentiment that he wants Wade all to himself. He wants to have Wade. He wants Wade’s mind, heart, soul, and whatever else his constituents may be. He wants to peel every damn layer off of him until he reaches the soft, mortal center, then dig himself into it and make a home. And he wants Wade to have him. He wants Wade to let Peter keep him. He wants Wade to want the same: to see who Peter really is and want him anyway. He wants Wade to take him apart and hold him back together again, because that’s what he always does, even with only knowing the tip of Peter’s iceberg.

He wants Wade to strip him down to the beating combination of vulnerability and strength Peter has, and tell him it’s okay. To scoop him up in his strong palms, a shivering mess, and build him properly so Peter doesn’t have to build himself alone. He wants to lean on Wade, draw fortification from him, to plant them together and let them grow.

Peter wants to come home, to where Wade is, not his shitty studio, and let Wade be his safe space to be himself.

Wade always says it: let me take care of you. And Peter always says yes because when he does, both of them exist in a realm where their masks are gone.

And Peter desperately wants something for himself where the mask of Peter Parker and the mask of Spider-Man are irrelevant. Wade probably wants something similar. It can’t be a unique desire to people who work in the shadows of anonymity.

It’s not the same when he’s with Mr. Stark. Mr. Stark might know his identity, the two sides of his coin, but Peter can’t share his life with Mr. Stark. He can’t build a life with Mr. Stark. That’s just not the nature of their relationship. When Peter’s with Mr. Stark, he’s constantly reminded of his duties as Spider-Man. He can’t see Mr. Stark’s face without remembering the importance of his vigilante mask’s role in the city. It’s a feeling that Peter accepts as an honor of nominating himself for the job, but Peter needs someone who can help him integrate Peter Parker and Spider-Man together. Who lets him be them both at once or neither of them at all, and for it to just be good. Be good, baby boy.

Or else his brain is going to crack into two.

Peter likes how when he’s with Wade, he’s just himself. Just Peter. Wade doesn’t know about his masks. And if this is so freeing, Peter wonders how it would feel if Wade did know about Spider-Man and Peter Parker.

The feeling must be indescribable. As close to euphoria as one could get on Earth.

But it’s a fictional feeling, isn’t it?

Like Peter had learned from this conversation, nothing’s that easy. Nothing is as simple as it is in fantasy.

Peter’s thought about this before and his worries still pervade. There’s too much that could go wrong. And Peter, with every passing day, has more and more to lose.

How does Peter feel when he’s giving himself to Wade?

He feels like he’s one step closer to reaching a Nirvana that might crumble beneath his feet if he’s not careful.

“I can’t explain it,” Peter replies, voice barely hugging a whisper. “It’s hard to put a label on it.

Wade throws himself back on the mattress, sideways. He tugs a pillow to his head and just like that, the fragile static of the room dissipates.

“That’s a good answer,” Wade pats the sheets at his side, looking at Peter expectantly. “Labels are for soup cans, Petey. Real emotions don’t fit into boxes, no matter how yellow or white you color them.”

-

When Peter wakes up, he’s hard and pressed against Wade with no room to spare.

There’s no quivering moment of embarrassment.

He just wakes up to the soft morning light—it can’t be more than five o’clock—and his eyes laser in on Wade’s chest. Rising and falling with the steadiness of sleep, Wade’s chest brushes against Peter every time it expands around a gentle breath. Wade’s snoring in his ear, horrifically loud, but somehow, even that doesn’t distract Peter.

Peter’s hand is laying just between Wade’s pectorals, fingers brushing a collarbone.

He leisurely allows his eyes to explore. In the absence of Wade’s attention, Peter is able to scrutinize the topology of his skin. Tracing gently over twists and furls of scars laying thatched over Wade’s muscular form, Peter greedily assesses them. They’re a source of endless fascination for the scientist in him; something that he’s hesitant to admit to Wade.

Wade’s healing factor is extraordinary. The SHIELD dossier of “Wilson, Wade Winston” notes it with clinical awe, detailed notes of its advanced abilities, but severely lacking in observations of its biological cause. Many mutants have impressive healing factors that allow them to overcome injury and disease quicker than the norm. Even Peter has a rapid healing factor, in comparison to normal humans. But it can still take two days for bruises to heal on his skin. Does Wade even bruise at all or do his blood vessels heal almost instantaneously?

Peter presses his mouth to Wade’s skin, against the thin skin just under his shoulder. He wants to bite down.

Bite down, teeth sinking into soft, buttery skin. Let the blood rush free, right into his mouth. Salty, tangy, iron, and life.

Hungry.

Pulling back, Peter blinks groggily at the thought.

“Mm, no, the mouth should stay. I was hella looking forward to your first hickey.” The chest below his ear rumbles with loss, “Don’t pull away or else there finna be a fight up in here.”

Peter inhales a little too quickly, almost choking on his own spit, and jerks up to see Wade watching him with an amused expression. Peter’s three million percent sure that his bedhead is reaching Giorgio Tsoukalos levels of extraterrestrial. He blinks rapidly at Wade because he was certain Wade had just been asleep two seconds ago, licks his chapped lips, and notices with a now rather self-conscious wince that he is still hard. His erection is pressed neatly up against Wade’s hip from how Peter is tucked into his side. Without a doubt, Wade can feel it. Now would be a fantastic moment to say something sexy or even wink seductively.

What comes out is a sleep-laden mumble of, “Cash me outside, howbow dah.”

Very sexy, Peter.

Head jostling by Wade’s sudden fit of laughter, Peter debates throwing himself out the window. Wade seems to think Peter’s hilarious. Peter isn’t sure if Wade’s figured out that Peter’s not trying to be funny, he just can’t control his filter sometimes. Peter’s not really a comedian, he’s just a work in progress when it comes to socialization. Peter’s more used to chilling with the internet than people.

“Yaas! You are everything, bae,” Wade wheezes around a laugh. It sounds like he’s dying. “You are life. You are queen, you are—”

“We’ve had this conversation,” Peter grumbles sullenly. “I am not Beyoncé.”

Peter very pointedly does not think about their last conversation regarding Beyoncé. Because Peter has hashtag-life goals, which include having morning banter with Wade that does not end with Peter’s face on fire.

Suddenly an arm curls around his waist and then the world spins. Peter’s shoved to his back onto the bed and Wade’s hovering above him, a very polite smile on his face that is betrayed by the mischief in his eyes.

“Hickies don’t have to be on the table today,” he grins. “There is a boatload of other firsts we can check off this morning.”

Peter is only able to understand half the sentence because he’s mostly staring at the way Wade’s muscles are flexing from the way he’s supporting his weight on one hand and an elbow planted on either side of Peter’s head. Hello, Wade’s biceps. It’s been too long. Peter’s missed them so much in the eighteen seconds he’s been distracted.

“We have a list?” Peter asks distractedly, reaching out to drag two fingers along Wade’s arm where its bunched up and tense. Ngh.

“I have a list.”

Peter looks up at that, mouth frowning at Wade. “You do?”

Wade shrugs. The motion rocks his body a little and Peter becomes keenly aware that Wade has one knee resting between Peter’s legs. Peter can feel Wade’s breath on his face. It makes him shiver.

Then Wade’s pulling back, sitting on his haunches, awkwardly astride Peter’s leg. He’s talking before Peter can protest.

“Noticed something,” he purses his lips, looking for the right word. “...Intriguing the other day when we were at the gym, Bambi.”

Peter freezes a little at that. Noticed what? Had Peter accidentally shot a web off somewhere and Wade’s now choosing this exact moment to bring it up when Peter’s still stupid from sleep?

Wade’s right hand trails gently along Peter’s thigh leaving smolders of fire behind, down to the knee, where he cups underneath it. He guides Peter’s leg from sprawled out on the bed so that it’s bent, knee pointing toward the ceiling.

He shakes his head at his own thoughts. What’s wrong with him?

Peter notes distantly that Wade’s gently encouraging Peter’s leg forward with just a smidge of force.

But Peter’s still wrinkling his nose at his own thoughts. Honestly, that sounds absolutely nothing like Wade. Wade has never manipulated Peter so calculatingly. Why would Peter even think that? Peter’s paranoia is getting out of hand, he decides as he absently watches Wade press Peter’s knee against his chest.

The top of Peter’s thigh touches his chest, laying along it, knee just under his heart, and leg bent at a right angle.

Peter quirks an eyebrow. He looks at Wade’s hand, holding Peter’s leg in place, and then at Wade’s face.

Wade’s looking at Peter’s leg with an admittedly stupid look on his face. He lets go, hand drawing back, then groans like someone who’s not afraid to be caught jerking it to PornHub.

“I don’t get it,” Peter says, muddled. Wade looks three seconds away from drooling and Peter’s just bent like a half a pretzel in front of him and—oh. Maybe Peter is learning.

Carefully, searching Wade’s face for clues, Peter slowly pulls his other leg up and completes the symmetry. He feels gratified when Wade’s fists clench.

“You noticed that I’m flexible,” Peter can’t keep the smile off his face. He feels like Wade just sort of exists, breathing and living, and that’s all Wade has to do to get Peter hot. On the other hand, Peter for the life of him, can’t figure out what turns Wade on. Apparently Peter’s mutant flexibility is on that concealed list of turn-ons.

Peter thinks he looks foolish, laying on his back, his legs up to his chest, and his boner protruding awkwardly from where its caught in his borrowed sweatpants.

Why Wade likes it, Peter does not know.

“I’m very flexible,” he states. Not in a sexy voice, sadly, Peter doesn’t have one. Just in a normal voice, conversational. Wade still bites his lip and groans. He grabs Peter’s legs by the knees and pulls them back to where they were before.

Peter frowns, now laying normally again. He was trying to have fun with that.

“Oh, don’t give me that look, angel,” Wade shakes his head at Peter. “Dreams of you with your ankles wrapped around my neck are enough spank bank material.” Peter absolutely refuses to acknowledge the way he’s reddening up down his chest. “Add a visual aid and I’m gonna make like The Lonely Island’s only hit: jizz in my pants.”

Peter concurs. He’s quick to shut down the image that wriggles its way into his head: his legs on Wade’s shoulders and Wade fucking him into the mattress. Peter hasn’t thought much about anal sex, probably because Wade’s been distracting him with everything else on the plate. But just a flitting fantasy of what it could be like, Wade hovering over him like this, sweating in exertion, thrusting into Peter who’s held down by his weight. It has Peter shakily gasping. His mind recalls Wade’s destroyed voice in his ear back in the alley: I’m going to bend you over right here on the concrete and you’re not ready for that.

Peter bites down on a moan. His cock twitches, but he’s not ready for that. Not yet. He doesn’t think so. He distracts himself.

“Only hit?” Peter gapes, “What about I’m on a Boat?”

“The only thing catchy about that song was T-Pain,” Wade licks his lips and grins, quick to reassume his place hovering over Peter. “Speaking of, we in the bed like—”

Ooh,” Peter finishes flatly, despite the flush on his face and the rush of lust and nerves he just worked up for himself. Wade’s eyes catch it. Then he’s petting Peter’s hair softly like he’s reminding Peter that everything’s okay.

“Don’t worry, baby,” he murmurs, “I’m not buying you a drank until you’re of age.”

As nervous as Peter is, he sincerely hopes that was not a metaphor for Wade boning him. Peter may not be ready, but he means he’s not ready yet, not that he’ll never be ready. He’s not waiting a whole year to have sex with Wade.

“I want to give you a blowjob,” Peter blurts out, then does his best not to cringe at himself.

Wade’s face undergoes a comical series of micro-expressions that have his eyes widening and his mouth opening and closing without sound. He blinks rapidly like he’s trying to clear blurry vision. “I’m sorry,” Wade actually reaches up to pat a hand against his ear as though it’s full of water. “What was that? Sometimes, I read subtext as actual text and, ya know, could we rewind?” Wade makes a little loop with his finger to punctuate the request.

Peter wrinkles his nose. “What do you mean? My subtext says I want to blow you?”

Wade’s eyes have relocated to staring intensely at Peter’s lips. “Your mouth has a dialogue of its own,” he nods, then tilts his head, attention still unwavering. “Did you know subtext is an anagram for buttsex? But we’re not worrying about that right now.”

“Wade!” Peter pinches Wade’s shoulder. Wade jerks, but wheezes, bringing his free hand to Peter’s mouth. He smooths a thumb over Peter’s lips like he so often does. Peter lets himself mouth at the pad of it, feeling the roughness of it.

“You know you don’t have to, sweetheart,” Wade says seriously, finally looking up to Peter’s eyes earnestly. “It’s not quid pro quo, Clarice. That’s not how sex is. Just because I blow you doesn’t mean you have to blow me. Some people don’t even give blowjobs at all.”

Peter feels a lot like he’s a sulking teenager being told he doesn’t really need an Xbox, even if he thinks he does. “What if I want to give you head?” he grumbles, bottom lip pushing into Wade’s thumb.

Wade holds his eyes, searchingly. Then that switch flicks. Peter’s not sure how he did it, but he knows he did because Wade takes an easy breath, raises his chin a bit, and his eyes burn ten shades darker. His thumb tugs forcefully at Peter’s bottom lip, parting his mouth.

“Such naughty words coming from such a pretty mouth,” Wade says, voice starting to deepen. He palms Peter’s cheek, giving him a considering look as Peter starts to pant. “And how do you want to suck me off?”

He leans down and licks Peter’s lips ravenously, biting down sharply just to hear Peter’s gasp of surprise, then pull back to watch him squirm.

Peter stares at him dizzily for a minute, before remembering there was a question. He shrugs, heat starting to spread all over his limbs. Wade gives him a chastising look, playful and teasing. A mock-disappointed look that makes Peter feel small and lost in a way that combines with arousal, dragging invisible nails down his back to pool in his core.

“You thought about blowing me, but you didn’t think how you want it?” Wade chuckles briefly, index and middle finger taking his thumb’s place to trace Peter’s lips, slick with Wade’s saliva. “You want to get down on your knees for me?”

Wade moves now, stretching out beside Peter, mouth pressing hot and damp to the shell of Peter’s ear where it kisses wetly. One of Wade’s hands slips under Peter’s shirt, resting against his stomach, pinky daringly close to Peter’s waistband.

“I think you’d be lovely, blinking through tears from under those lashes. Looking up at me as you choke. Because you’re going to choke, you know that, right honey? Your knees are going to ache and you’re going to choke on my dick because you’re going to get over-eager and try to swallow it all at once.”

Peter trembles at the way Wade’s kisses at his neck, fingers lightly raking up and down his chest.

“I have a better idea though,” Wade whispers, nudging Peter’s head back to expose more of his neck. His kisses feel like a round of fourth of July snappers, popping little explosives, charging up his body through a live current. Wade’s hand comes teasingly up to Peter’s left nipple, dragging a nail over it just enough that Peter quivers before it's gone and the hand is making its way down Peter’s chest again.

“I think we should keep you just like this,” Wade says into his neck, the scars on his cheek rubbing Peter’s already sensitive skin. “Laying down nicely. Then I can feed my dick to you and you can focus on being a very good boy, keeping your mouth open for me. Hm?”

Peter whimpers, just a little bit, at that.

“But you’re always a good boy for me, aren’t you? That’s not going to be a problem. It’s going to be hard to keep your mouth soft for me, though. That’s the hard part for beginners.”

Wade’s hand, quicker than Peter’s delayed mind can keep up with, snakes into Peter’s pants and unerringly finds its way to the head of Peter’s cock, fingers closing around it and giving it a tug that almost has Peter coming. As fast as it finds its way in, it’s out, leaving Peter cranking out a shocked sound that he never wants to make again.

“You wanna try before the real thing?” Wade smirks, finally pulling out of Peter’s neck to press a moist kiss to Peter’s cheek. Then Wade’s fingers, wet from Peter’s pre-come, are suddenly pushing into Peter’s mouth, past his lips, manually parting Peter’s teeth, and settling on Peter’s tongue.

“Suck,” Wade says encouragingly, a little humor in his voice as he pushes himself up higher on an elbow to get a good view of Peter’s deer-in-the-headlights face.

Peter obeys instantly, giving a tentative suck on Wade’s fingers. The motion forces his mouth to mold itself to the scarred skin. It feels bumpy on his tongue and against his cheeks when Wade rubs the pads of his fingers against them, exploringly. Wade tastes bitter and salty, like Peter.

It makes Peter helplessly writhe against the too hot blankets on the bed. One of his hands is digging into the duvet and another is fisted into the fabric of his own pants.

Wade’s fingers are long.

The thought makes Peter want to laugh at himself because if Peter’s worried that Wade’s fingers are long, well, this is going to be a rocky road.

But they are, they’re long and Wade pushes them into his mouth unforgivingly. He slips them in as Peter sucks hesitantly at them. When spit gathers in his mouth and Peter’s starting to think he’s going to be uncoordinated at this, Wade pulls his fingers out, rubs them against Peter’s lips, then pushes them right back in just as Peter’s catching his breath.

Wade groans.

“Open that mouth for me, baby,” he says, pushing his fingers in and out of Peter’s mouth. Peter feels his skin purple when he realizes that Wade is doing this to get Peter used to the feeling of something pushing into his mouth. He’s also just doing it because he can. Because he clearly enjoys it, watching Peter fumble and try to keep up with him.

“Bambi eyes,” Wade sighs. “Freckles.”

When the finger finally leaves his mouth, everything happens so fast. Wade captures his lips in a passionate kiss, fueled with desire and laced with a sense of domination that Peter can’t deny. He feels very Bella Swan for admitting it, but in his head he swoons as he tries to kiss Wade back. To meet his fervor. To lick behind his teeth and tangle with his tongue, but Wade can move like a badger when he wants to.

He’s abruptly off the bed, shedding his pants, and Peter’s still blinking owlishly as Wade climbs back on, completely naked. Wasn’t it not that long ago that Peter had thought Wade was too shy to disrobe in front of him? And here he is now, moving with military efficiency, in control of his bulk, looking like a god where he straddles Peter’s chest. His heavy, hard cock bounces once against his toned abdomen before Wade’s grabbing it in one hand and stroking it a few times, eyes hungrily on Peter’s face.

Peter watches with a detached sense of excitement and disbelief. Wade looks like a literal wet dream. Peter just kind of short circuits.

Wade’s smile is the dirty one he reserves for these situations. “First things first, love,” he says, grabbing one of Peter’s fists and fighting with it briefly to get Peter to relinquish his death grip on the duvet. He brings Peter’s hand up to his thigh—Peter very much remembers when this thigh was pressed between his legs—and smacks Peter’s hand against it twice.

The sharp sound hits Peter like a taser and has him looking up at Wade’s face.

“Knock twice on the pipe if the answer is no,” Wade grins, but his voice is firm. “Okay, Peter? You do that,” he smacks Peter’s hand again twice on his thigh. Fuck, Peter’s more concerned with the fact that Wade has no body fat. Nothing jiggles. “if you want to stop at any moment. For any reason. You don’t want to do this anymore, you get overwhelmed, you hate the taste, I’m hurting you: I stop.”

Peter licks his licks, eyebrows furrowing. “You won’t hurt me,” he tells Wade.

“I could and I might not realize it. So you have to speak up,” Wade shakes his head, thumb rubbing over Peter’s tingling palm. “I hurt you, you’re uncomfortable, you can’t breathe, you need a break. You’re having a great time and want to talk about it. Tap twice and I’ll stop, even if I’m about to bust a nut.”

Peter frowns. “What if I hurt you?”

Wade blinks down at him like he’s an alien landed from outer space. Peter has no idea why. It’s a legitimate concern. What if Peter hurts Wade? A part of Wade’s body is going into Peter’s mouth. The concept of it makes Peter want to hump his pillow, but in reality, it’s a delicate situation that’s just calling for disaster. Out of the two of them, he’s the one that could do some damage. He’s not nearly as composed or experienced as Wade.

“You’re not going to hurt me, Bambi,” Wade tugs lightly at his hair. “Honestly, there’s very little you could do that I won’t like. Worst you can do is use a bit of teeth and if I’m being real, I like it. Besides, it grows back.” Peter does not want to know how Wade figured that out, but Wade’s fiendish grin is enough to admit it’s not an appropriate story. “Don’t sweat it, baby boy. You’re always in control, I’m just here for show.” He winks down at Peter. “Still want to? You can always say no.”

All you need to do is ask.

“Please?” Peter asks in his best pretty voice.

The way Wade licks his lips is enough evidence that Peter’s getting the hang of this.

-

The first thing that Peter thinks when the head of Wade’s cock presses to his lips is that it feels spongy. It’s a weird and out of place thought, but Peter can’t help it. Peter’s literally been touching his own cock his entire life but realizes that he doesn’t really know what one feels like. Or he does, but when it’s in his mouth, it’s a different story.

Peter licks curiously at it, letting himself taste Wade. It’s an earthy taste, bitter and musky, kind of like how Wade smells when they’re smushed together at night sleeping. Peter likes it. It’s complex on his palate.

Wade’s the one that’s supposed to be feeding Peter his cock, but Peter is the one that sucks him into his mouth.

Wade’s rumbling moan is more than encouraging.

It’s a strange sensation. Not unpleasant at all. Wade feels heavy on his tongue when Peter rubs it experimentally against him. Peter can’t see it, but he can feel Wade’s thighs tighten near where his hands are resting on the duvet now. He doesn’t have very much of Wade’s erection inside of his mouth, but it already feels like a lot.

He already has a mouthful of his own spit pooling in his mouth and he can’t think of anything more embarrassing than drooling in front of Wade, so he forces himself to swallow. It’s a mechanical feeling. He consciously has to tell his muscles to work, that it’s alright to swallow around Wade. Once he achieves it though, he feels the way Wade’s prick twitches in his mouth, going in just a bit deeper.

“Fuck,” Wade pants. Peter can’t really see him because he’s a bit focused at the moment, thanks. “That’s good, sweetheart, you don’t have to go any deeper, just that right there, when you use your tongue.”

Peter wriggles his tongue again, feeling stupid, but it sets Wade off again. Peter remembers vividly the way Wade went down on him. So he closes his eyes and relives the memory. With concerted concentration, he does his best to mimic what Wade had done.

It’s harder than it had seemed. And would have seemed hard at the time if Peter had been in the right mind to consider Wade’s technique.

He can’t really bob his head from this angle, but he tries. A few attempts get Wade a little deeper, but his neck cranes awkwardly because Wade’s not moving his hips any closer.

Peter feels a bit bereft at that. He reaches up to grab lightly at Wade’s hips. He can tell that for a moment, Wade thinks Peter’s going to tap out. He stiffens even further—the bad kind of stiffening where he tenses up, afraid he’s made a mistake. But Peter just gently tugs at Wade’s hips, without much force. He wants to persuade Wade to come closer.

Wade’s still frozen though.

Peter swallows around him, doing his best to suck at him without any teeth in the way. When Wade doesn’t relent, Peter whines in frustration.

And it’s the red button.

Wade’s left hand slams down on the headboard of the bed, making it rattle. Then he’s bending over, knees spreading so he can get closer to where Peter is on the bed. When Wade hunches over, Peter blinks up at him, meeting his eyes. Wade’s other hand tangles in Peter’s hair, gripping it.

“Beautiful thing,” he whispers regarding Peter. Wade’s always a smooth talker, even when he’s getting off.

Peter can see the minute Wade starts to collect himself again. In retaliation, Peter takes a deep breath and moans, suckling just a little around the turgid flesh in his mouth.

Wade moans, hand slamming down again to shake the bed, and he speaks through heavy breaths, “You’re fucking lucky I’m me, baby boy. You play dirty like that with any other man and he’d be halfway down your throat right now.”

Wade looks murderous at the thought.

And at this very inopportune moment, it clicks with Peter. When they had been in Sister Margaret’s the night after the Unmasked charity event and Weasel had been nagging Peter about his suit, Wade had become a still, raging ball of ignited dynamite when Peter had mentioned Mr. Stark purchasing it for him. Wade hadn’t been angry at Peter or just acting strangely. He had been jealous. Possessive, perhaps?

With an unusual spike of confidence, Peter pulls off Wade just enough that he can talk, lips still pressed to Wade’s cock. “You don’t like the thought of me with other men.”

“You bet your bottom dollar I don’t,” Wade hisses. “I already told you I love being your first. What I haven’t told you is that I’d rather be your only.”

That one confession seizes Peter by the heart and doesn’t let him go. Peter can’t help the way his entire body seems to jump with discovery, heat, and yearning because yes. Here Peter is, back delving into a world of romantic fantasy, but he just wants so badly that he clutches at Wade’s thighs and nuzzles up into Wade’s cock.

“Yes, please,” he whispers into Wade, a plead half-spoken. Please, just stay with him. Please, let him be Wade’s. Is there an ending that will grant Peter this? He’d do anything to get it.

The broken whisper must make him look desperate or needy or something that connects with Wade because it finishes with Wade coming on Peter’s face.

Peter blinks in awe at the wetness coating his cheek.

-

Wade performs a very impressive feat of mobility that has him abandoning his stance crouched over by the headboard and lying between Peter’s legs. Peter is still rather dazed by what just happened. He feels ragingly accomplished that he’d made Wade orgasm, even though it hadn’t really been into his mouth like he was planning.

He’s startled out of his own thought by Wade’s mouth on his chin. Peter, used to responding to Wade’s nearness with a kiss, tries to find Wade’s lips with his own. Wade bypasses him. Peter’s first instinct is to grab Wade by the cheekbones and guide him into place. But when he feels a broad lick across his face, he realizes what Wade is doing.

“Baby boy,” Wade growls in the face of Peter’s astonishment. Peter is surprised, both at making Wade come and at the fact that Wade is quite comfortable eating his own release off of Peter’s face like this is an X-rated movie. Peter didn’t think people did that in real life. “Yeah, you have no fucking idea what you do to me, do you? You don’t even realize the power you have over me.” Peter’s hands finally release the duvet to seek Wade’s back, running over it before resting on his broad shoulders.

He pulls Wade closer. He always wants Wade closer. Like this, he feels like Wade is covering him. A hot, sweaty, scarred mess of a living blanket that’s overheating him in the best way possible. Peter fidgets under his bolstering weight.

“What is it, darling? You all worked up? Don’t worry, little one, I always promised to spoil you, didn’t I?” Wade tells him nonchalantly like his words don’t cost a dime to say, even though they make Peter’s head churn with basal craving. One of his hands supporting himself and the other smoothing Peter’s sweaty hair off of his forehead. “Let’s get you out of these.”

Wade sitting up is the worst experience in the world. Peter almost sticks his hands to Wade’s skin and follows him. However, Wade holds him in place with an insistent palm to his chest. Then Wade is helping Peter shrug out of his shirt, lifting it over his head, and pausing when it’s tangled and bunched up around Peter’s wrists.

He stares at Peter’s heaving, reddened chest. Peter already feels like he’s run a marathon, which is pathetic because all Peter’s done is lay here for however long it has been. Peter has excellent stamina. He’s just not sure where it has gone at the moment.

Wade’s expressive eyes blink languidly at Peter, taking in his visage with hunger; like he has an appetite for destruction. He tugs on Peter’s tangled shirt, making Peter’s hands rap against the headboard and bends down, evaluating gaze on Peter’s face as he sucks Peter’s nipple into his mouth tersely. Peter makes an appropriate sound of shock at the abrupt assault, head falling back when he feels teeth pressing into the sensitive skin.

It’s painful and pleasurable, simultaneously. He can’t decide whether to push into Wade’s mouth or away, into the mattress. Embrace the shockwaves or run from them? His body makes the decision for him and when Wade makes his way across Peter’s chest to treat the other nipple to the same abuse, Peter’s already pushing up into his embrace.

It’s over too soon.

Wade’s tugging the shirt off of Peter’s hands, seemingly back to his job of divesting Peter of clothes. He sits up again, moves off of Peter, and pulls Peter’s pants down his legs, tossing both garments to the floor. This time, he sits beside Peter, hand going right for Peter’s throat, where it curls around his neck. His thumb presses into the hollow point behind Peter’s jaw, just by his ear.

Peter bites back a moan and Wade smiles, humoring him. “I didn’t forget about that, baby. You can be very sure that I’ve got an archive of what makes you shaky in my head. I’m just waiting for the right moments to whip them out.” Wade demonstrates by tightening his hand around Peter’s neck minutely. When Peter’s eyes flutter, he laughs, and like a chain reaction, Peter’s hip buck at the sound.

He’s been hard and aching this entire time. A gust of wind is going to set him off, he just knows it.

Wade doesn’t even look down at Peter’s cock. He just licks his lips and removes his hand, letting it trace Peter’s collarbones. “Not yet,” he states brightly like Peter should also be happy with this declaration. His cock is most certainly not. It weeps where it is resting against his abdomen.  

“We’ve got a good theme of the day going, we shouldn’t break it,” Wade muses as though he’s not talking gibberish. Peter’s starting to lose his thinking ability. Wade continues speaking, “Let’s practice some more of me in you, okay, sweetheart? Turn over.”

Peter’s flipped onto his stomach, face planting a bit on the bed. One of Wade’s arms wraps under his hip and for a blissful moment, Peter’s cock gets some relief, rubbing against the roughness of Wade’s skin. But Wade just guides Peter onto his knees and his arm retreats.

Wade plasters himself to Peter’s back. His presence makes Peter shiver in anticipation.

Then the vulnerability of the position dawns on him, delicious and frightening all at once.

And before he can think too much, Wade’s there, shushing him, nuzzling sweetly into his hairline by his right ear, “You don’t have to be scared, angel, nothing’s going to hurt.” Peter hadn’t thought so, but not knowing what’s happening next is making him wary. The position is new, that’s what makes him alert. “I’m not going to do anything you’re not ready for. I’m going to make you feel good, I promise.”

It’s too challenging of an angle to kiss at, but Wade contorts a little to press chaste, reassuring pecks to Peter’s lips.

“One word and I stop. Always.” Peter nods in understanding, a sweeping appreciation settling in his chest. “Just wanna try something new. I think you’ll enjoy it. Just need you to relax for me. Deep breath, sweetheart.”

Peter’s breath in stutters when Wade starts kissing at the nape of his neck. Honestly, Peter’s never considered it an erogenous zone. A neck isn’t really that sexy, is it? But it must be filled with clusters of sensory neurons because the soft dragging of Wade’s scarred mouth against it sets it alight.

Wade’s intuition tells him all he needs to know. Well, that and the way Peter’s hands smash into the headboard carelessly and uncoordinatedly. Why the heck are they so close to the top of the bed?

Wade very dutifully spends a few long minutes lavishing the spot with attention.

Peter thinks this is what it must feel like to be drunk. Or high. Under the influence. It’s the closest he’ll ever get anyway. If he felt like this on his own, he’d be terrified. It’s only Wade’s solid presence, grounding him enough that he feels safe despite losing himself, that makes any of this pleasurable.

Peter tries to ignore that he’s drooling into the pillow under his mouth and instead, focuses as Wade’s kisses follow his spine. Each planted kiss feels like a language of its own, impressing confessions and declarations onto Peter’s skin, where they’re absorbed by his bloodstream, and carried to his heart.

He loses himself trying to piece together their words, in feeling them pump through his body, matching the shortness of his breath. It distracts him enough that when Wade’s mouth reaches his tailbone, Peter doesn’t really catch it.

It’s when Wade’s hands settle, huge and sure, on his ass that he makes a questioning sound. He can barely hear himself; it feels like he’s being pulled out of honey.

Wade murmurs nonsense into his skin, then thumbs are pulling Peter’s cheeks apart and wind hits a place it normally doesn’t and whoa, whoa, whoa—what the hell?

A tongue licks a broad stripe along the crack of Peter’s ass. No, no, Peter has to rephrase it in his head, trying to get reality to register: Wade’s tongue licks wetly from Peter’s sac, past his perineum, and along a place that has certainly never met a tongue before.

Peter makes a panicked sound and lets out a garbled, “Wade?” Because Peter’s not really sure if Wade knows what he’s doing.

Wade pulls back at the sound of Peter’s voice. “Alright?” he asks, hands still squeezing and Peter gapes dumbly into the pillow, thighs tensed, ass feeling cold without Wade pressed up into it.

He’s fine. He’s alright. Is Wade alright?

Peter’s inexperienced, but he has internet access. This is totally something that is only talked about deep in the non-kosher threads on 4chan. Not something that actual couples do. Is this alright? Peter tries to convey all of that with another questioning sound.

He’s never been more thankful that Wade is fluent in Peter.

Wade’s chuckles and grins feel different when they’re pressed into his ass cheek. Read “different” as “mystifyingly arousing”.

“Yeah, Petey,” Wade murmurs, “I very much enjoy this and I know it feels weird at first. I’d be honored as fuck if you gave it a try, but if you want to stop, tell me. Think about it for a minute.”

And they do stay just like that for exactly one minute. Or longer. It really feels like longer. Peter’s not sure how he’s supposed to think with Wade being exactly where he is. Peter doesn’t have to think. He’s curious, of course, he is. If Wade enjoys it, then yeah, Peter’s game. It’s very clear that Wade would like to share this with Peter and he thought Peter would like it because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have started it. Peter trusts Wade’s judgment.

“O-okay,” he hates that his voice sounds so small.

“I know you’re not used to it. Just relax, let me do the work,” Wade says, then Peter feels that impish, sly smirk against him. “I just need you to open up and be good, baby boy.”

Oh, that’s playing very dirty. And Wade had the balls to accuse Peter of playing dirty before, he thinks. Peter’s just following the king’s example.

Peter’s body reacts to the phrase like he’s been trained, relaxing and curious.

It’s fair to say that Peter is unprepared for the kiss that lands directly on his hole. It’s a familiar press of lips in an unfamiliar area of skin; the same kiss Peter gets on his forehead when he’s freaking out. Except this time, it’s followed by a lick that makes Peter twitch and then Wade’s mouth is open and he’s sucking, just the barest hint of teeth pressed against—fuck.

Peter lets out a strangled noise that doesn’t stop Wade in the slightest.

Wade simply licks, again and again, tonguing him and everything’s just wet and slippery and hot. Peter can feel everything. Wade’s lips, his teeth, his cheeks, his breath. He can feel how Wade blatantly begins tracing the wrinkled skin, the tip of his tongue playing with the cinched folds of a place that Peter doesn’t even touch.

Peter feels overheated and desperate. His hands clench and release at the pillow, unsure of what to do. The sensation is unfamiliar, but it’s far from bad. It feels dirtybadwrong-good. Twisted and taboo in a manner that is sincerely appealing.

It feels dangerously intimate.

He’s whining loudly. His body seems to relax and tense under Wade’s caresses. It’s confusing and arousing. He wants to come. And then Wade starts talking. Who talks when their mouth is rather busy? Wade does. And he does it because he knows it’s going to break the last of Peter’s walls, sending him spiraling into a flighty ball of raw need.

“It never crossed your mind to play with yourself here, huh?” You ever touch your hole, sweetheart? Ever play with it? “Don’t get me wrong, it would have been hot if you had. But I like this little, untouched part of you. That dark passenger in my fucked-up brain would rather I’d be the only one who gets inside you. That includes you.” No? Good. That’s mine. I’m not going to let you touch it.

Peter shivers as he feels Wade’s thumbs start inching closer together until they gently rub against his hole. Not pulling it or pushing at it, just there. Then Wade’s mouth comes back.

“This is a new feeling, right? You’re such an angel, Peter. Like the good boy next door. I bet you never even thought about this,” Wade’s breath against Peter’s wet skin sends Peter into a fit of shudders, goosebumps rampaging his body.

Another kiss. It sounds incredibly loud in the room, squelching and it should really be unpleasant. Should be disgusting, really.

“But that’s gonna change now, isn’t it?” He can feel Wade’s pompous grin. Peter doesn’t remember feeling so smug when he’d been blowing Wade. “Now you’re my good boy and you’re going to think about this all the time.”

A scrape of teeth and a persistent tongue. Wade’s admirably resilient. Peter feels far from relaxed, not because he dislikes what they’re doing, but the opposite. He can’t relax because each touch from Wade is making him this close to coming, which is wholly confusing because he’s not even touching his cock. Wade’s tongue is relentless and uncaring though. He just patiently laps at Peter like he could be here for hours.

“C’mon, baby boy, open up a little for me,” Wade’s voice is rough and alluring, pushing his own face into Peter’s ass. How is Wade not embarrassed? Peter still suspects it’s a superpower.

“Don’t you want me inside of you, baby boy?” Oh God, but does Wade have to say it like that? Peter keens again as Wade does something too complicated for Peter to even comprehend with his tongue. “So tight, sweetheart,” Wade groans. “Let me loosen you up a bit.”

He’s going to give Peter a coronary. “Don’t hide from me, baby, not when we’re like this.”

Peter wheezes at his voice, one of his hands burrowing his nails ruthlessly into his other hand, trying to get ahold of himself. He’s probably bleeding, but he can’t think past where Wade is digging at his center. He feels dizzy, frozen, suspended in time by Wade’s mouth on the outside; but on the inside, he’s tossing and turning, flayed and thrown into the mercy of a black hole. He’ll be lucky if he comes out breathing on the other side. He’s breathing raggedly as it is.

Wade’s not helping any.

“Little boy, little boy, let me in,” Wade sings, breathless and jovial. Peter’s going to punch him for that later. Much later. Because now Peter’s too busy muffling a wail when his hole finally opens, just the smallest bit, and Wade takes immediate advantage.

He’s not sure who moans louder, him or Wade, but Wade’s tongue pushes inside and Peter’s hands flee to tug at his own hair.

It’s brief.

Wade’s tongue is just in and out, in a split second. The feeling sends Peter reeling, but he gasps for oxygen thinking that he’s going to have a break. That he can get used to it before Wade does anything else.

He’s wrong.

Apparently, Wade’s not pulling away for Peter’s sake. He’s just pulling away enough to grumble a brusque, approval-laden, “Good boy,” then his tongue is diving back in and Peter ceases existing.

Peter’s mind goes from babbling to radio silence. Chernobyl: a radioactive dead zone. Blanked out.

Because when Peter had thought of Wade inside of him, he hadn’t considered it like this. He hadn’t considered Wade’s tongue curling and thrusting inside of him, making him feel like he’s melting. The pleasure is obscenely exquisite. Not the same as wanking off. Different, more like it’s building gradually. Sharp, like he’s been whipped—a jolting crack of pleasure smacking into him like a knife, then it settles, fizzles, and bubbles out from where Wade’s mouth is to the extremities of his body.

Peter mewls. His voice box is on vacation, his vocal cords aren’t working properly. He’s emitting truncated sounds while his knees quake, losing the battle of holding himself up.

Wade should be pulling out now and then to breathe, right? Or to like swallow or something. But he just seems to pull out so he can press more kisses down, lick more indulgently, and speak. Always to speak, like he can’t just be content with riling up Peter’s body. He has to engage his mind too.

“You like it, don’t you? You like my tongue inside of your ass,” Wade observes, “You know what this is called, Peter? It’s called ‘rimming’.” It’s an apt moment for teaching. Yeah, Peter agrees as his hips move restlessly and his cock cries from abandonment. A great time for a sex terminology lesson. Not.

“It’s you letting me eat you out. You like it when I eat your hole? I could do this all day, baby,” Wade says and pulls back, hand groping Peter’s ass worshipfully.

Oh God, no. All day would be torture, wouldn’t it? Peter can’t wait here, hard all day. He’s already shaking, trying to find the least embarrassing way to convince Wade to put his tongue right back where it was inside of him.

“You’re all sweet and shy about it now,” Wade reads the string of tension in Peter’s body like he’s knowingly tuning a violin, “But soon enough, you’re going to be pushing me down and sitting on my face whenever you want it. Whenever you get horny, I’m going to remind you how good I am with my tongue and how much you liked it. That way you can’t think of anyone but me.”

This pillow is ruined. Peter’s biting through it. “Your turn, Peter. Will you make yourself feel good for me, sweetheart? I know you can do it.”

Like he’s been waiting for that exact permission, Peter’s hand untangles itself from his hair and shoots down his body to grab his cock. It’s only going to take one stroke. A half a stroke, maybe.

Peter’s hand doesn’t get there.

“Ah-ah, no you don’t.”

Wade snatches it out of the air and smacks it down onto the mattress beneath where Peter’s hips are hovering in the air. Wade’s hand is like smelted iron, burning hot and inescapable. He holds Peter’s hand down. “Not like that,” he growls. “You know what I want. Do it and I’ll let you come.”

The literal devil. Peter shouldn’t like it as much as he does.

It takes a lot. Courage dredged up from where it hides in the depths of Peter’s person, where Peter normally can’t reach it when he needs it. But this is Wade. It’s different.

Pushing back into the motion of Wade’s tongue feels momentous. And foreign. Wade groans, releasing Peter’s hand to helpfully guide Peter’s hips into a rhythm. Peter’s pushing his ass into Wade’s face and Wade’s pushing his tongue into Peter’s ass. It’s mind-blowing and Peter just can’t.

How long it goes on is irrelevant to him. He couldn’t track time if his life depended on it. Peter must be screaming, screeching, sobbing, moaning, something. He must be making some sort of noise reflective of his inner turmoil because he can feel Wade’s croons, vibrating into his skin.

“I know, Peter,” Wade says, pulling back and Peter nearly breaks the headboard with the force of his hand.

“No,” it’s the first word he gets out. He’s begging now. “No, please, don’t—back,” he pleas with frustration. He’s so close. “Back inside?” He just needs Wade’s tongue back where it was, back to making Peter fall apart.

He’s so close.  

“I know, baby, I won’t stop,” Peter’s surprised to hear a voice as wrecked as his reply. “Hush, baby boy, Daddy’s got you,” Wade mumbles it desperately into the crack of Peter’s ass like he can’t hold it back any longer, it just rips out of him.

Peter doesn’t need the hand that wraps around his cock, he’s already coming so hard that it hurts. His hips push into it anyway, caught at both ends by Wade. He can’t move without feeling Wade. His eyes water and his skin feels like there are thousands of ants crawling along it. He can feel the duvet snap under his grip, the headboard squeak in protest, and Wade. He can feel Wade.

Everywhere.

-

Peter is very appropriately awoken at noon by the smell of something lovely. He uses the bathroom, brushes his teeth, and notes that he is very suspiciously clean. Like someone gave him a wipe down when he wasn’t looking.

For his own sanity, he doesn’t dwell on that.

He shrugs on the same clothes he slept in last night, which are folded and resting on the foot of the bed. There’s no singing this morning, which is a blessing and a curse. Peter’s ears are grateful, yet he misses the untroubled unmusicality. Peter likes mornings with Wade. He likes their routine.

Peter stumbles into the kitchen to find a beautiful bounty awaiting him at the island. There’s a waffle that looks like it came out of a magazine, topped with Nutella, bananas, strawberries, and almonds. Next to it is a plate of eggs, bacon, and sausage. It smells divine. Peter lets it bait him in and he’s sitting at the island before he can think about it.

“Hi, sweetpea,” Wade says. “I hope you like your good mornings in the form of excessive calories. Or should I say, your afternoons. See what a perfect boyfriend I am? No more abuse. My baby can get up whenever he wants, even if it’s when half the day is gone.”

He’s smiling and Peter, slowly growing more astute with the mannerisms of Wade, takes one look at the waffles and another at Wade’s face.

Wade’s doing the thing.

Peter purses his lips, narrows his eyes suspiciously, and pulls a banana slice free from the waffle. He licks the Nutella off of it and eyes Wade.

The man is chipper, bright-eyed, and bushy tailed. He definitely did not go back to sleep after their morning frottage. He’s also already eaten. Peter can tell because he’s not making himself a plate. He’s completely dressed though, in a pair of black track pants and a green, long-sleeved shirt. The apron is in place, covered in flour, but his clothes are clean.

He watches Peter lick the Nutella like a horndog.

Peter is absolutely not fooled. “What gives?”

Wade winces.

Caught red-handed.

“Baby, my sweet, lovely, not-morning-person boyfriend,” Wade babbles, gesturing to the plates of food. “You wanna eat up? A little birdy told me there might be a frap coming your way in like, ten-ish minutes?” Wade blinks, pulling his wrist up to his face and looking at a hideous pink watch on it, mumbling, “Better fucking be five minutes or I’m taking Bea for a swing on that fuckfaced barista.”

Peter eats a strawberry, not taking his eyes off of a guilty looking Wade. “Why are you placating me with food?”

Wade cringes and shuffles his weight back and forth like a kid doing the potty dance in front of a principal. “I’m not placating you! I love feeding you. Food, especially. I’m not showering you with unhealthy amounts of sugar and grease because we have to go to Weasel’s in like forty-five minutes.” The last bit comes out in a rush, Wade’s face wincing again.

Peter wants to be so angry. He wants to be annoyed. But at the moment, it is taking all of his effort to not break out into laughter. Because this is actually hilarious.

Wade has completely picked up on the fact that Peter dislikes Weasel. And Peter can’t help but find it golden that Wade clearly doesn’t want to ruin Peter’s morning/afternoon by making him do something he doesn’t want to do. It’s sweet, cute, and perceptive.

Peter grabs the fork and roughly stabs a sausage with lightning speed. He brings it up to his mouth and takes a vicious bite.

Wade actually jumps.

Peter hadn’t realized it hurts so badly to keep a straight face. He does his best, chewing. “And why do we have to do that?”

Looking at his watch like he’s willing the frap to apparate in and salvage the situation, Wade shrugs, looking apologetic. “He’s made some headway on the camera shit. Apparently, he needs some help though. I don’t know what the fuck he was saying, but it sounded like he needed our input before he can continue.”

At that moment, the doorbell rings and Wade flies to the door like he’s getting the hell out of Dodge. He opens it and Peter can see an acne-ridden kid about Peter’s age, or younger, with long blonde hair. He’s wearing a maroon hat and a Starbucks apron. He looks absolutely terrified.

“You’re late, Jeremy!” Wade hisses and Jeremy squeals, looking on the verge of tears. Wade grabs the cardboard cup holder in his hand.

“But, but,” Jeremy gasps, shaking, “You only called thirty minutes ago and you said that you’d need the drinks in half an hour?”

Peter can’t see Wade’s face from here, but he must look menacing because Jeremy actually looks like he’s going to piss himself. “You know what they fucking say: five minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable, Jer. Were you doing something you shouldn’t have been doing that made you late? You sure weren’t reading Forbes magazine.”

Jeremy seems to be choking on his own spit and Peter regards the two in confusion. He gets up out of his chair. The kid really doesn’t look well. Is Peter going to have to step in?

“No!” Jeremy shouts, high-pitched in tone, “No, sir!”

“No?” Wade leans in closer, “Nothing at all? Not looking at Meghan again, huh?”

Jeremy shakes his head desperately. “No! Never! Not in forever, I changed jobs just like you said. I don’t even see her anymore now that I’m not in the pizzeria. She doesn’t even like Starbucks!”

“And how do you know that?”

Peter has never seen anyone shrink in fear like Jeremy does. Peter’s just about to take a step closer to the two when Wade hums, seemingly satisfied.

“Fine,” Wade says, “I believe you for now. But I’m watching you, Jer-Bear. We’re no strangers to love. You know the rules and so do I.”

“S-sir?”

“No stalkers. No fans. No stans. If you get within eight miles of her, you’re going to be fucked in places you’ve never dreamed of. And no, that didn’t come out wrong. I don’t know what you’ll do with all that junk inside your trunk,” Wade looms over the kid. Jeremy stumbles, but he can’t escape Wade’s hovering. “One toe out of line and you know what happens?”

Jeremy whimpers.

“I’m going to mix your milk with my cocoa puffs. Milky, milky cocoa.”

“I’m not sure I understand, sir?”

“You don’t have to understand, you just have to obey. One slip up and I’mma start some drama. And you don’t want no drama. You feel me, Jer? No, no drama. Just nod.”

“Yes, sir!” Jeremy nods like he’s heard the word of God.

“Get lost, son.”

Jeremy sprints off, out of the doorway and Wade cranes his neck to out to call after him, “Busy hands are happy hands, Jer! Keep working and you’ll be reformed in no time! Every morning just keep tumblin’ out of bed, stumblin’ to the kitchen, and pourin’ yourself a cup of ambition. You’ve got this!”

Then Wade slams the door shut and rushes into the kitchen, putting the cardboard holder down on the island counter and sitting on the barstool next to where Peter stands by his own seat.

There are two matcha green tea frappes and a hot coffee. Wade picks up the hot drink and tentatively slides the fraps toward Peter, inching them forward like he’s afraid Peter’s going to bite. He blinks up at Peter with hopeful eyes.

“Who was that?” Peter frowns.

Wade blinks. “Jeremy? He’s a barista at Starbucks. Well, now he is. He used to be a pizza delivery boy.”

“Why did he look like he was facing his death?”

Wade shrugs, rolling his eyes. “Jer has a bit of stalking problem. A while back, his nonconsenting stalkee Meghan Orflowsky came to me to get Jeremy to stop following her around and taking pictures of her without her permission.”

Peter tilts his head, dumbfounded with the knowledge. Wade continues, taking a sip of his coffee and cursing when it’s too hot to drink.

“He’s actually not a bad kid, just a fucking loser. It’s hard being a geek and sexually frustrated. One too many rape fantasy videos later and he was starting to make the switch from loser to perv, but I think we caught him in time. You know, before ISIS could snatch him up with the promise of power, community, and a wife or three. Just needs a bit more real-world experience,” Wade sips his coffee again, tentatively. “He’ll get there eventually.”

Peter drops into his seat to just look at Wade. Or, really, to gawk at Wade.

Wade catches that and swallows roughly around his mouthful of coffee. He flaps a hand at Peter. “Don’t worry, I only ask him to deliver drinks when he’s in-between shifts. It keeps him busy, so he doesn’t slip off into nefarious after-work activities.”

Peter grabs his Starbucks, takes a sip, and then picks up his fork again.

Wade Wilson, sneaky bastard extraordinaire.

Does anyone else know that Wade does this?

“I don’t mind,” Peter says, starting to dig into the waffle. It is scrumptious. The Marriott should be sad Wade left.

“Hm?”

“I don’t mind that we have to go to Weasel’s,” Peter admits, shoveling a huge bite into his mouth.

“You don’t mind?” Wade looks at Peter like he’s lying.

Peter shrugs, biting into the waffle. “It’s Gucci,” he says. “Just let me finish eating. So, I can enjoy my morning before it’s contaminated. Hopefully, we won’t have to stay long. Maybe we can do something after?”

Wade brightens up like a sun. He looks relieved and way too happy by Peter’s casual desire to hang out with him. Peter feels like he’s holding a dragonfly in the palm of his hand, shielding it from the wind and coaxing it to fly.

“Yeah, baby boy, whatever you want,” Wade grins crookedly, dimple prominent.

The two of them settle into silence, Peter eating appreciatively and Wade sipping at his drink. They unashamedly watch each other.

Peter swallows an egg and looks at Wade’s drink curiously. “What is that?”

“Pumpkin spice latte,” Wade states like it’s obvious.

Peter perks up, eying the drink with interest and Wade shakes his head in disbelief.

“What?” Wade cries, “No! Uh, uh, no way. No girlfriend tax, Bambi.”

Peter pouts. Then reaches out and plucks the cup from Wade’s hand, and is met with absolutely no resistance at all. When Peter pulls it to his lips and takes a sip, he sighs at the warmth and spiciness of the latte. It’s really good.

Wade shakes his head again, eyes glued to Peter. “You Starbucks-addicted, little brat.”

With a small snicker, Peter takes another sip, watching as Wade’s anger is betrayed by the amused grin plastered on his face.

Unable to resist, Peter leans forward and gives Wade’s smile a quick kiss. Wade looks like he’s been shot by a horse tranquilizer. He just sits there, grin in place, relaxed, and letting Peter drink his coffee. And because Peter’s a good guy at heart, he trades Wade. He gives him a half-finished frappuccino for Wade’s half-finished latte.

Wade accepts it looking lovestruck.

It feels a lot like passing Valentine’s notes in class. Peter feels giddy and lighthearted. They smile at each other. This is why Peter always wants to be near Wade.

But Peter makes a point to pull the other frappuccino next to him.

Wade laughs uproariously, “Yeah, yeah, the other one’s yours. I know who’s the boss.”

-

The bar isn’t empty when they walk in. Peter is very bewildered to find a smiling Dopinder behind it, holding a mop. No traffic cone in site.

“Hello, Mr. Bambi!” He calls to Peter, waving enthusiastically before fist-bumping Wade. “D.P., how’s it cracking, my good man?”

Meeting Dopinder’s fist with equal enthusiasm, Wade pushes past a confused Peter. “Dopinder, bro, it’s crack-a-lacking, aiight. Why are you behind Weasel’s post? I thought we cleared up the whole merc-Kirsten Dunst-vampire thing.”

Peter is very lost.

Dopinder nods seriously, “I know, Mr. Pool. I have realized that X-Force is not my one, true calling, but when Mr. Weasel asked me to man the bar, I could not help but feel as if the universe was placing me here for a cosmic reason I do not yet understand.”

He says it with a shrug of admittance. Like, he’s sorry, but Deadpool can’t fight with the cosmos and blame Dopinder for being there.

Wade crosses his arm, suspicious. When he speaks, he greatly resembles a parent catching a child with a hand in the cookie jar. “And this has nothing to do with the taser you borrowed from Weasel? You’re not here by any chance looking for any toys of mass destruction for a dude named Bodhi, are you?”

Dopinder gives a guilty grin that he tries to play off as nonchalance.

Wade sighs, “Dopinder, don’t you go borrowing weapons from any of these goons. You know I’m your man.”

Peter starts up at that, looking at Wade in disbelief. Is Wade insane? Offering Dopinder guns? Dopinder barely looks like he can handle the mop. Weapons are nothing like taxis. And if Peter remembers correctly, Dopinder may or may not be in a love triangle with a man called Bodhi and a woman called Gita. Did Wade just offer weapons to an emotionally-charged man?

Is Peter witnessing the premeditation of a murder? And why does that thought sound so familiar?

“Excuse me!” Peter butts in, shouldering Wade out of the way. “Dopinder, I know we don’t know each other well, but is there a reason why you feel the need to turn to violence right now?”

Dopinder looks from Wade to Peter, sheepish and upset. For a moment, he’s just standing there, fiddling with the mop. Then he breaks, frowning at Peter with water-filled eyes.

“Oh, Mr. Bambi!” he cries, “My life has been one of great challenge. First Bandhu and his charms, now Bodhi with his wealth and status! My heart is destined to be outcompeted, no matter how dearly I care for Gita.”

Peter feels bad. Dopinder is actually a nice man. A little immature and seemingly easy to sway toward crime, but otherwise, nice. Peter does not want him to turn into someone Spider-Man has to track down at night. So he steps closer, lowering his shoulders and trying to talk some sense into the man.

“Dopinder, you’re a really great guy,” Peter starts, ignoring the way Wade snorts. He instead focuses on how Dopinder looks up at him with hope. “I’m serious, Dopinder. You don’t need a gun to make Gita see you. You don’t have to use violence to be the best suitor. Have you told her how you feel?”

Dopinder blinks, sniffling and clenching the mop. He makes an ashamed face. “Not really?”

“Well, there you go!” Peter smiles encouragingly. He uses his Spider-Man voice of reason. It usually works to calm down victims. It should tame Dopinder too. “If Gita doesn’t know you have feelings for her, she might always look for love in other places. You have to tell her how you feel, so she can see you as a potential love interest. You have a lot to offer her, Dopinder.”

“I do?” Dopinder wipes his nose.

“Yes, you’re a good catch. You’re friendly. Every time I see you, you’re smiling and it makes me smile. Making someone smile is a talent that not everyone has. You have a steady job—”

“But I am just a cab driver. Not an IT specialist or a doctor or a lawyer.”

“There’s nothing wrong with earning an honest living, Dopinder, it’s admirable.” The irony of discussing this in Sister Margaret’s is one Peter will not acknowledge at this time. “Besides, your job isn’t the entirety of who you are. You’re kind, loyal, honest, and sensitive. I could tell just after meeting you a few times. You have all of the traits for a good boyfriend.”

Dopinder looks like his world is being painted with sprinkles and icing. Peter can’t help but smile warmly at him. “Please don’t use that taser, Dopinder. Why don’t you try talking to Gita first? Maybe, invite her to dinner or go to a movie.”

Here, Dopinder licks his lips, looking undecided. He shuffles a bit, peeking up at Peter somehow, even though he’s around Peter’s height. “It might be difficult for me to invite her out for a date.”

Peter frowns, “Why is that?”

“Well,” Dopinder winces and shrugs again. “I don’t exactly know her very well.”

“Exactly. A date could be a good way for you two to get to know each other.” Peter nods like he has all of the dating wisdom in the world in his head. Meanwhile, his version of a date has included chimichangas and alley sex. Ignoring that.

“I mean simply that,” he raises a hand, bobbing his head nervously. “I don’t know her. At all.”

Peter stills, the soundtrack of Wade’s confusion playing in the background of their conversation. “You mean you and Gita don’t know each other?”

Dopinder nods fervently, happy that Peter understands him and clearly not seeing anything wrong with his confession. “Yes! We do not know each other. She lives across the street from my parents’ home, where I live. When Bandhu came to visit, he was so confident and aggressive, walking right up to her when she was watering her gardenias. Bodhi was quite the same, joining her on her daily walk around the block,” Dopinder frowns wistfully. “Their confidence is something that I cannot find in my soul.”

Well, Peter relates to that.

Peter is going to just skip the detail that Dopinder has convinced himself he’s in love with a woman he has never met. And that Dopinder seems to know said woman’s schedule too well. And that Dopinder has a picture of her on his dashboard. One thing at a time.

“Er, Dopinder,” Peter starts, “Introducing yourself to Gita might be a good first step. Why don’t you buy her some flowers and the next time you see her out, walk up to her and tell her that you think she’s pretty and you’d like to get to know her. Then you can ask her out on a date and see what happens.”

Dopinder blinks the tears out of his eyes, standing straighter. “It is that simple?”

Peter smiles at him, nodding. “It is that simple. If you ask her on a date, she can say yes or no. If she says yes, then go on a date and impress her. If she says no, then you know it’s time to move on and you can have a free heart for another girl out there.”

When Dopinder looks unsure, Wade suddenly creeps in closer. “Remember your superpower, Dopinder?” he asks, catching Dopinder’s attention.

Dopinder smiles, watery and pleased. “Courage, motherfuckers!”

Wade raises a hand and catches Dopinder in a high-five. “Fuck yeah!”

A man on a mission, Dopinder stands tall and drops the mop to the ground dramatically. “Gita’s three o’clock walk is soon. If I leave now, I can catch her just as she leaves the house and putting on her ankle weights.”

That’s supremely creepy.

Peter nods anyway, along with Wade, giving Dopinder a chorus of encouragement.

“Go get her, tiger!” Wade fist-pumps, then claps Dopinder on the back.

Dopinder jumps clumsily over the bar, but his unsteadiness doesn’t deter his newfound valor. “Tell Mr. Weasel I’m sorry, but I have a lady to win.”

Then he’s running out of Sister Margaret’s like there’s a hellhound on his tail. Peter watches him go with a breath of relief.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Wade hop over the bar with much more finesse than Dopinder had. He scales it in an effortless, athletic leap. Peter turns to him as he ducks down and pulls the traffic cone stamped “BRB” onto the counter. He hops over it again and comes to stand in front of Peter.

He looks at Peter, scanning him up and down. Then he walks a little closer, lifts Peter’s arm up, and drops it. He repeats the process with the other arm. Peter looks at him like he’s walking off the deep end. Wade pokes and prods until finally, he lifts Peter’s shirt. Peter screeches, scandalized, and smacks Wade’s hands away.

He punches Wade’s shoulder as the man snickers relentlessly. He meant to do that earlier too.

Wade grabs at his injury, looking betrayed at Peter.

“What are you doing?” Peter hisses. Wade will not be lifting Peter’s shirt in public.

“I’m just looking for the magic,” Wade whines, about to poke Peter again, but wisely stopping when Peter raises a hand warningly.

“What the heck are you talking about?” Peter asks, “There is no magic.”

Wade tsks at him, like a disappointed professor. “Yes there is, baby. You have magic,” he glances at where Dopinder’s fallen mop lay, then at the door through which Dopinder fled. “You can do magic! You can have anything that you desire, magic! And you know, you’re the one who can put out the fire.”

Oh no, here’s the singing. Peter looks around them, but everyone seems immune to Wade’s singing voice. Peter has this feeling that they hear it on a regular basis and no amount of heavy weaponry will make it stop, so they’ve given up trying.

“You know damn well, when you cast your spell, you will get our way, when you hypnotize, with your eyes, a heart of stone can turn to clay—”

“Oh hush,” Peter interrupts quickly.

“Too old of a reference for my baby millennial?” Wade smiles saucily at him.

“You’re a millennial,” Peter points out gleefully as Wade grumbles like an old geezer.

“I’m rubber, you’re glue,” Wade huffs.

“Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-dit,” Peter sings reluctantly as he begins heading off toward the staircase. Wade’s squeal of excitement is payment enough.

-

Weasel’s eating a bag of Funyuns when they walk inside.

“Shalom,” he says imperiously, scruff littered with Funyun dust. He chews obnoxiously, regarding them with searching eyes.

Peter rubs his neck. Wade didn’t leave a hickey or something, did he? Why is Weasel staring at him like that?

Before Peter can glare at him, Weasel pushes the bag of Funyuns aside, gently atop of a broken modem and pushes himself back from the table. He gets up and walks his way over to the kitchenette.

“Can I get anyone a beverage?” he asks, adjusting his glasses, looking too casual. “Virgin orange soda? Virgin grape soda? Virgin cream soda? The lone selection of virgin things in this apartment.”

“Beating off while I’m in the room doesn’t count as you losing your virginity, Weas,” Wade groans from the depths of his suffering soul and parks himself in Weasel’s vacated seat. “Shut the fuck up and get me a beer. It’s too early for this.”

Peter agrees with the sentiment. Weasel turns away, heading to the fridge, glasses clinking around, presumably to get Wade that beer. Peter turns to Wade, pout growing on his face without permission.

“I know, baby,” Wade reassures. Whatever he’s about to say is interrupted because Weasel is throwing the beer with shit aim at Wade’s head. And by shit aim, Peter means Weasel throws the beer so badly, that it comes sailing through the air, making a speedy path toward Peter’s head, rather than Wade’s.

A whisper of a Spidey sense warning and Peter turns reflexively, hand snatching the longneck out of the air just before it breaks his nose.

“Hey!” Peter bites out, turning to frown at Weasel.

Oh Lord, but it really is too early for this.

Weasel stands by the fridge looking not apologetic in the least. Instead, he looks like a wolf that’s caught a hare. Devilish, triumphant, and thirsty for blood. Peter’s used to disliking Weasel. He’d go as far to say that he greatly dislikes Weasel. But at this moment in time, Peter feels more than dislike. He wants to knock Weasel down a peg or two. Would Weasel be smiling so victoriously if Peter loped over there and took a bite out of his shoulder? Weasel’s predatory mask is just a façade; he thinks he’s wearing the big guns. But Peter knows if he gets Weasel down on the ground, the man will whimper and bury his head in the sand. Weasel isn’t the apex predator here.

Peter is.

And he is so very close to throwing the longneck right back at Weasel’s head. He could probably throw it right into his eye, bottle cap first. With enough force, it would pierce through the socket like a knife through butter and shove its way into Weasel’s brain. Dead in a second.

Humans are so fragile.

Then Peter jerks to life, feeling like he’s waking up from a lucid dream. Suddenly, he can hear Wade breathing behind him, the hum of the refrigerator, the talking below them in Sister Margaret’s. He can smell onion and cornmeal, Funyuns. He can feel the coldness of the beer in his hand. It’s like he’s Alice, popping out on the other side of a wormhole. Peter blinks, staggering back from a smirking Weasel.

A smirking Weasel who has no clue what the magnitude of Peter’s thoughts is. Where had that thought come from? Peter makes an unsteady turn and on autopilot, walks to Wade. Peter has never been violent. Ever. Even with powers. He’d just spent fifteen minutes of his life downstairs, talking Dopinder out of violence, coaxing him to use words, not tasers.

And here Peter is thinking about what? About killing someone. That’s what he’d just thought about. He shakes his head to clear it and hands the beer to Wade.

It’s just peculiar.

Peter can’t shake the feeling that the thought wasn’t his own. He would never think of something like that. It just doesn’t compute.

Shaken but unwilling to show it in an environment he’s already uncomfortable in, Peter presses himself against Wade’s side for fortification. When he finally looks up, Wade is watching him concernedly, hand holding the beer.

He searches Peter’s eyes.

Peter’s not sure what he finds, but he uses one hand to pop open the beer and winds his other arm around Peter’s standing form, tucking him close. He turns to Weasel.

“Party tricks are over,” Wade says and Weasel’s smirk drops at the tone. “You said you needed help. With what?”

Weasel licks his lips, tossing a last glance at Peter, and shuffles over to the table, opening up a laptop that was hidden in the junk. He hooks something up to it with a USB.

“Making headway on the camera footage, oh alpha, my alpha,” Weasel grumbles, typing rapidly.

“Making headway as in you have access and we can kill the tapes so our little fiasco isn’t on any hard drive or cloud? Or whatever the fuck,” Wade asks expectantly. “I don’t want Bambi’s face or his svelte, little body anywhere on that footage. I want you to delete the shit out of it.”

Peter looks to Wade upon hearing that. The first thing Peter thought about when he’d learned of the footage was that they could identify the researchers use the footage for justice. His second thought was that they’d realize Spider-Man had been in the building. But Wade’s first thought it is Peter’s safety.

The existence of the footage is troubling. Wade sees it just as much as Peter does. It’s troubling for Deadpool. Wade isn’t a figure hidden from society. Everyone who’s in the know will realize Wade Wilson is Deadpool. Peter’s not sure what precautions Wade’s taken to keep himself safe from anyone tailing him, but Peter doesn’t think there are many.

Wade is indestructible. He doesn’t need protection. He probably thinks it’s no big deal if they—whoever they are—find him. He’ll fight his way through their masses and if he gets captured, he’ll bide his time and fight his way out later. It’s not like they can kill him. The people behind the research might view Deadpool in the same manner. Why bother capturing him? Especially when they probably think it wasn’t personal to Deadpool anyway. Deadpool is a merc for hire. They’d be more interested in Deadpool’s client than Deadpool himself.

And Peter.

Peter’s a wildcard. They won’t know who Peter is and it will look suspicious. Peter’s body language on camera can’t be mistaken for a cold-blooded merc doing a job. The way he’d run from door to door, breaking to pieces at the sight of one corpse after the other, screams personal.

And if Peter gets caught? He only has one chance, even with superpowers. These people, with their blatant power, have archives of Peter and Wade destroying a research facility. All it will take is one person looking for the perpetrators to find them on video. And then they just have to wait for the opportune moment in the footage where Peter’s hood doesn’t conceal him well enough. A bit of facial recognition software and it is Peter’s final countdown.

Their only advantage is that people might not be looking. The police reported no survivors. It was a generator failure. An accident.

But how trustworthy are the police again?

It’s unlikely that this is being treated like an accident. Someone, somewhere has to know that Deadpool and a companion broke into this facility and blew it up. And rescued a subject. It was sensitive research, the kind that takes investment—dire investments— like kidnapping subjects. There’s no way they’re just letting this go.

Peter’s fingers dig into Wade’s shoulder as his panic grows.

No.

No, these people have to know that Peter’s alive.

The question is why haven’t they done anything about it yet?

“Slow down, Cujo,” Weasel rolls his eyes at Wade. “You can bark all you want later. I have access to the CCTV footage. It took many a sleepless nights, by the way, glad to see you both care about my wellbeing.” Weasel sips at a Red Bull he pulls up from somewhere on the floor. “But there’s a shitload of footage. There’re over three hundred cameras with individual feeds. I need to know which is which.”

“What do you need?” Wade asks, patience waning. “More favors? Boy, I’m a regular genie. Rub me up, street rat. You ain’t never had a friend like me.”

“I’ll ask for more favors when you can finish the one job I gave you, smartass,” Weasel clicks his tongue at Wade, then turns, rummaging in the trash on the table and pulling out a piece of paper stained with grease. He pushes it at Wade, other hand pulling a pen from his pocket. “I need a layout.”

Peter raises a brow. “A layout?”

“Yeah, pint-sized echo.” Weasel smiles in an unfriendly manner. “I need a layout of the basement. To the best of the ability of your two combined pea-brains, please, draw me a layout of the basement of Stark Tower. Before it went kaboom.”

Wade scoffs but snatches the pen and paper and begins sketching a big square.

“Why do you need a layout of the basement?” Peter asks with no small dose of distrust.

“Good question, Mouse,” Weasel leans back in his chair, getting comfortable. “The cameras seem to be on every floor of the building. But they’re not saved or named numerically or alphabetically. As in, we’re not just counting cameras per floor. The first floor isn’t cameras one or ‘A’.”

Peter huffs, “I get what you mean. So?”

“So I have to find which is which. The cameras are probably named using an algorithm based on how many camera stations are available on every floor. One would expect each floor to have the same number of available stations if the floors each have the same layout. They used to have the same layout, with the exception of the top ten floors and the penthouse. But the building underwent construction after it switched ownership because the sets of camera stations available in the original Stark floors don’t match the groupings and labels shown in the feed.”

Peter’s lips twist and he stares at Weasel reluctantly. “I don’t get it,” he admits through gritted teeth.

“I need the layout of the basement to see how many available camera stations there are. Once I figure that out, I can plug the number into my own nifty invention. And hopefully, find which CCTV streams belong to the basement. And not have to sift through thousands of hours of footage.”

“What invention?”

“Why an algorithm to detect an algorithm, of course. You didn’t think I’d be sitting here running numbers by hand to find the pattern of footage groupings, did you? I do run a business downstairs. You may have noticed it on your way up. It’s a bustling bar full of patrons,” Weasel snarks, looking flatly at Peter.

Peter takes a calming breath. “How are you going to determine the number of camera stations with the layout?”

Weasel yawns. He actually yawns like Peter is dreadfully boring. “You can’t just put a camera anywhere, Mouse. For example, it needs to be fucking plugged in to work.”

Peter bristles at that. He’s not stupid.

“It also has to be in a useful position. It’s there for a reason. It’s a camera. It’s security. Each camera has to have its own field of vision. None overlap or it’s a waste of money and you’re overpaying for cameras you don’t need. But none can have blind spots or your wasting your money on a shit security measure that a high school thief can bypass.”

That actually makes sense. Peter hates that Weasel makes sense. Weasel is devastatingly intelligent, he just hides his intelligence with Funyuns. It makes Peter even more uncomfortable.

“If I can get any useful information out of your security guard, I can use it to find the minimum and maximum number of camera stations in the basement.”

Peter nods, but he feels overwhelmed. “You’d need specific information though. Not just how many rooms there were. You’d need to know the range of vision for each camera.”

Weasel hums, “Yep, already do. It’s based on the camera model and brand. Easy, peasy. I Googled it. What else, Mouse?”

Peter shrugs in Wade’s hold, raising his hands. “The basement setup. You’ll need approximate square footage of every room. Where walls are. Where ceiling corners meet, where access to the electric board is possible. Where—”

Weasel raises his eyebrows and points an index finger at Wade. Peter trails off, blinking at the sheer amount of detailed information Weasel is seeking. It can’t be possible to know without being the contractor of the building.

But Peter turns and watches with wonder as Wade cranks out, in sloppy blue ink, a very detailed layout of the basement. Leaning closer, Peter sees the square is divided into rooms, hashes, and slashes all over the place. ‘X’s littered around and numbers are written everywhere. Numbers? No, measurements.

“How do you know all that?” Peter gasps out, watching Wade work.

Wade shrugs. “Special forces, baby,” he says with a hint of pride. “Ten years’ experience worth. Five years in the Canadian Special Operations Regiment and another in the Joint Task Force. Le régiment d'opérations spéciales du Canada et la force opérationnelle interarmées. I know my reconnaissance and survey skills, sweetpea. You don’t go in anywhere blind and you don’t leave without empirical details, in case you ever gotta go back.”

“But you blew the place up,” Peter says feeling like he’s wandered into an alternate universe. Always expect the unexpected with Wade. One minute, he’s being a goofball, singing an America 1982 rock hit and the next, he’s drawing a building blueprint with a savant level of detail.

Like he’s reading Peter’s mind, Wade starts singing lowly, “You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name. It felt good to be out of the rain. In the desert, you can remember your name ‘cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.”

Peter knew Wade was in the military. He’d read it in the dossier. Hell, he thinks Wade even told him before. But witnessing him use a skill that was clearly from his military training makes Peter’s brain feel like putty. Because now it starts to be put into perspective: Wade wasn’t just in the military; Wade served in the military; Wade went to war.

Wade is a veteran.

And that just brings a whole new layer to the artichoke. Peter doesn’t try to cut off Wade’s awful singing this time.

Weasel’s voice beckons him to look up, “Very good, Mouse. You’ll get there one day. You’re like a diamond in the rough. A bit of training and we’ll make a man out of you yet.”

Peter doesn’t know what that means, but from the way Wade stiffens and looks up warningly at Weasel, it can’t be good.

That doesn’t explain why Weasel is smiling shrewdly at him though.

“Dopinder had to bounce, by the way. Went off to win his baby mama.”

Smile leaving his face, Weasel rubs his temples.

-

It’s on the walk back, while Wade and Peter are waiting for traffic to die down before they cross a street, that Peter pulls out his regular phone. He always keeps the two with him. He doesn’t think Wade’s noticed yet because Peter has them both on silent when he’s over.

He doesn’t know why he does it, but the first thing he sees is a text from Mr. Stark.

Please tell me you’ve emailed Siobhan Findley.
Kid? Don’t ignore my texts.
You’re old enough that I shouldn’t have to
prompt you into doing something. If you want it
enough, you’ll do it yourself.
But you should email her soon.
It’s etiquette.

Peter’s heart races at the text. No, he has not emailed Siobhan Findley yet. Because Peter knows he can’t go to MIT and he doesn’t want to deal with the reality of it. If he doesn’t email Siobhan, then he can’t read Siobhan’s approving comments on his research. And he can’t read between the lines to see her hinting at how his upcoming application will be looked upon favorably. Because there is no upcoming application.

Peter cannot afford MIT. End of story. He’s not going.

And it stings so badly that Peter thumbs out of the text and moves on to his other unread messages. It doesn’t get any better. The next messages are from Aunt May.

honey let me know if u want 2 get tea
ths week. new bubble tea house opened
in chinatown love u miss u
xo aunt may

She still signs her text messages with her name like she’ll never get used to the idea of caller ID.

Peter doesn’t know what to do with the text. Yes, yes, he wants to go get bubble tea with his aunt. He loves going out with Aunt May. He loves Aunt May. The thought makes his eyes start to burn. He doesn’t even notice that Wade’s herding him into the elevator, down the hall, and into his condo. Peter’s still holding the phone in his sweating hand, staring at the screen as it tolls, drawing him back to reality.

“Peter?”

Peter jumps, looking up, and finds himself in Wade’s kitchen. Wade’s standing in front of him looking cautious. Peter’s face is burning, his eyes are burning, and he’s shaking.

No.

No, he didn’t want this. He didn’t want to dump this on Wade.

Peter inhales with difficulty and takes a step back away from Wade. The way Wade looks completely hurt at that does nothing to calm Peter down. It makes him feel worse. Because look. This is part of the reason why he can’t do this with Wade. He’s hurting Wade. He’s always using Wade and now, he’s hurting him? He’s going to lose Wade if he keeps it up. The paranoia melts into the panic seamlessly.

“Peter,” Wade holds his hands out, palms up, as though he wants Peter to grab hold of them. Peter can’t. He’s too busy clutching his phone to his erratically heaving chest. “You don’t have to tell me, but don’t run away. You’re not in a state to be going anywhere.”

It’s with piercing horror that Peter realizes there are tears silently spilling down his cheeks.

Wade looks ruined. Peter bites down viciously on a sob. Here? Does he have to do this here? Parker, what the hell is wrong with you?

Mumbling something that Peter doesn’t catch, Wade’s crossing the distance in front of them and he grabs Peter like a ragdoll, hands under his armpits, and Peter’s suddenly deposited on the island countertop. He sits where his waffle did this morning. The granite is cool beneath him, shocking, but Peter lets the cold anchor him. He lets it pull him out of his head.

Wade looks like he’s not sure what to do with Peter’s tears. “I’m sorry,” Peter gasps at him. Fair enough. Wade hadn’t signed up to fuck an emotional train wreck.

He’s finally taller than Wade, sitting on this island. He looks down at Wade, whose hands are resting warmly on Peter’s biceps. Trying to hold him together, looking for the cause of Peter’s sudden tantrum.

“It’s not you,” Peter tries to reassure. It’s not Wade. Wade didn’t do this. He doesn’t want Wade thinking he made Peter cry.

But Wade huffs out a little humorless laugh. “I know it’s not me, baby. That’s why I’m a little terrified.”

There are a million things Peter could say right now. A million things that Peter should say, like: he has to leave. He needs some time to himself. All lies. Peter can’t say them. Instead, he says, “My aunt has cancer.”

Wade is not expecting that. Peter can tell from the way his eyes widen.

And now that Peter’s opened his big, fat mouth, he can’t stop talking. “She doesn’t want any treatments,” Peter shrugs, blinking through another tear. “I don’t have a family. No parents, I mean.” Shut up, Peter, shut up. “Just her. She raised me. I just don’t get it. Why would she just give up?”

Peter feels a thumb wiping away wetness at his cheek and he finally finds Wade’s eyes again. He’s unprepared for Wade to look so serious. He’s never seen Wade look so tired before. So lifeless. Why does he look like that?

Peter’s infinitesimally daft.

Reading the dossier really did nothing for him, especially considering Peter didn’t remember the important parts. Cancer. Peter is prattling on with his little sob story: his aunt has cancer. And there, thumbing Peter’s tears away, is Wade, who had cancer. The only reason he doesn’t have cancer is because of his regenerative gene, isn’t it?

Lovely. Peter can’t have a heart-to-heart without reminding Wade why he’s a scarred mutant in the first place.

“Baby boy,” Wade says, a hand cradling Peter’s cheek, the other balancing himself on the counter so he can stand between Peter’s open legs. “I won’t say I’m sorry because sorries don’t do fuck shit. But she’s not giving up, sweetheart.”

Yes. Yes, she is giving up. She’s letting the cancer run its course. She’s not trying to stop it. Isn’t that giving up, in its very definition?

Wade’s smile is kind yet weighted with the realities of the world. “She’s not giving up. You are enough for her to keep living. She’s not giving up on you, she loves you. That’s why she doesn’t want treatments. She doesn’t want you to see her like that. For your last memory to be of her existing as less than the person she is today.”

Wade takes a deep breath and his eyes flit around Peter’s face. “She doesn’t want to endure the pain. When they say cancer’s a death sentence, they mean it, baby boy. The treatments aren’t a walk through the tulips. They’re grueling and they turn you into a shadow of who you are. One day you’re walking around, feeling fine, with a tumor, then the next, you’re vomiting blood. You can’t walk, and you’re shitting yourself. And who’s there to take care of you? The people you love the most,” Wade chuckles dryly. “You aunt loves you, Peter. She loves you too much to put you through that. It’s all so much easier if you let nature take its course. More painless. Happier. You can make the most of the time you have left instead of watching it fly by like the climax of a horror film.”

The answer should be offering clarity to Peter. It should be giving him perspective and the tools to understand Aunt May’s decision. But Peter’s shocked by how it’s just making him upset.

No, not upset. Angry. More than regular anger; rage, red and tumultuous. Peter’s tears continue falling, but he feels his face twist into a sneer. All of a sudden, he’s not thinking about Aunt May. He’s thinking about Wade.

Wade, who’s explaining this matter-of-factly because he’s experienced this. Again, Peter distantly thinks about what he should be feeling. He should be feeling devastated that Wade had to go through the same thing. Wade had cancer; how horrible it must have been to receive the news of the diagnosis. But that’s not why Peter’s angry.

Peter is angry because Wade says this like he’s loved someone so much that he couldn’t stand the thought of them watching him waste away.

And that person wasn’t Peter.

There’s only one type of person that could provoke such feelings in another. Peter’s mind channels right back to the photograph in Wade’s drawer, buried underneath sweats. Beautiful woman, slinky body, scandalous clothes, half strewn over unscarred Wade like she’s about to ride his dick into the sunset.

“You had a wife before, didn’t you?” Peter doesn’t recognize his voice. It’s clipped, acidic, and deep.

Peter’s hand grips the countertop with unrepressed strength and he can feel the granite splinter under his fingers.

Wade jumps at the sound, rearing back to look down at where a crack is evident in the stone. Wade’s face is comical, jaw hanging, and he blinks at Peter’s hand. He’s ignoring Peter’s question.  

That makes Peter feel worse.

Peter rips his hand away from the counter, taking a chunk of granite with him and pulverizes it in his fist. The shattered stone pierces through his skin and blood mixes into the gray-flecked pebbles. Peter doesn’t feel the pain, he just feels the anger building higher and higher, until it feels like it’s going to consume him.

“You’re not answering me,” Peter says.

Wade glances up at him but can’t seem to stay looking at him. He reaches out to Peter’s hand, very much occupied with the fact that Peter has his counter crushed into his bleeding hand. “Fuck.”

Peter throws his phone to the ground carelessly and uses his free hand to grab Wade roughly by the shirt. “Why aren’t you answering me?”

Wade finally peels his attention away from Peter’s hand and onto his face. Wade looks so worried. Peter can’t think of any reason why he would be.

“I forgot the fucking question!” Wade spits out, “You’re bleeding, let me see your hand.”

Peter feels like he’s only half in control of his body. “Don’t touch me!” he shouts, shaking Wade like he’s a twig by the shirt, and throwing the granite bits to the ground.

Taking a deep breath, Peter blinks rapidly. He feels like he can’t see, although he sees Wade’s deeply troubled face just fine, no filter in the way. The bleeding hand comes up to Wade’s shirt, joining the other one, winding tightly in the fabric. It strains under his hands too.

Peter licks his dry lips. When had it gotten so hot in here?

“Peter?”

Shaking his head, Peter stares at Wade’s shirt. It’s green, like the grass outside in Central Park. Luscious, verdant grass that smells sweet when it’s cut. Soft, but prickly on her toes as she runs through the blades barefoot, blonde hair flapping with the wind. Running, running to the top of the hill—the top of the mountain, him looking down to see a valley of corpses piling below him. Drained and useless, he’s just so hungry and it’s time to move on. Running and floating, then he’s trapped. Living in glass, the environment is sterile, and a man with dark hair, dark eyes, and symmetrical features smiles down at him. He stares back with no eyes, half-living without a counterpart, feeling an unbridled wave of distaste shiver through him. He hates being watched.

Peter feels like his brain is being fried, his body electrocuted. Like he’s being strapped to the electric chair, wet and dripping, and left to endure.

It’s hands on his face that bring him back. Wade’s holding his face, messy with tears, pale as a ghost.

“Peter?” he prompts, trying to catch Peter’s blank eyes.

It takes so much effort to look at Wade. Peter can’t focus. He’s scared and he’s trembling because he’s not making any sense. He doesn’t feel very good. And even in the face of that, the rage digs its nails in and staples itself to the last of his wit.

“Did you love her?” Peter asks in a small voice.

Wade jaw works, mouth opening and closing on silent. It’s not that Peter can’t hear. It’s that Wade’s not talking. It takes a minute. “Yes,” he replies, “I did love her. We were like gasoline and a match.”

“Then why aren’t you with her?”

“It’s hard to explain,” Wade murmurs, but the words he’s saying clearly don’t matter to him, because his thumbs are smoothing down Peter’s cheeks.

Peter’s exhausted, but his heart is racing on double-time. Body pumping with restlessness, he craves adrenaline.

He’s not sure how he knows, but he’s certain that if he stays Wade is going to get hurt.

“I need to go,” he says and then he’s forcefully shoving Wade aside and running to the door. “I need some time.”

The words come out too late, he thinks. He should have left before.

Peter leaves a Wade in his kitchen, granite crumbled around him and Peter’s blood stained into his green shirt. Wade’s calling something behind him, but Peter can’t hear him. He’s already racing out into the hallway, turning away from the elevator where a woman yelps at his harried form, and down the stairs.

-

When Peter reaches the sidewalk outside of Wade’s building, he feels like he can breathe again. Yet he still can’t think properly. His thoughts are scattered and broken, nonsensical. Images here and words there. Nothing is linear.

He’s not thinking about the things he ought to be: he doesn’t think about what just happened or Aunt May. He doesn’t consider that he’s just scared the shit out of Wade or that he’s just nearly had a breakdown over Aunt May’s cancer diagnosis.

His mind skips and hops over thoughts before settling on a seemingly random one.

Siobhan Findley.

Peter could get into MIT. He has the smarts and a mentor to back him up. He just needs the money. Peter works every day for a crappy, low paying job. Why bother when money is so easy to come by?

It’s like time fractures.

One minute he’s leaving Wade’s and the next, it’s dark outside and he’s walking into Sister Margaret’s with purpose. He pushes through the doors and strides right up to the bar.

“I want a job,” he says.

Weasel turns around and greets him with a shark-like grin.

He digs around by his computer, then walks up to Peter and hands a gold card over.

“Welcome back, Mr. Weber,” he says in an oily voice. “Job done by Tuesday will suffice.”

-

Peter curls onto his side and hides his face on Wade’s chest, tuning his breathing to the beat of Wade’s heart. Wade’s skin is textured, soft and rough, beckoning Peter’s focus before it morphs into an all-consuming dust devil.

Sleep is a restless, half-baked thing.

He dreams for the first time in a long time. Flashes of violence, adrenaline, and hunger. Slinging from roof to roof, crawling up and down walls, overturning buses, pale distorted faces, and eliciting screams. Wind on his face and a childlike sense of freedom.

Dreams of chaos that feel alien to him.

When Peter wakes to an empty bed the next morning, he feels tired and achy as though he went skydiving without a parachute, rather than sleeping on a Tempur-Pedic mattress.

-

Their ritual is simple.

Peter stays over, they sleep, Peter wakes to find Wade in the kitchen where he’s cooking scrumptious food while singing like nails on a chalkboard.

Wade’s not in the kitchen. The kitchen, Peter notes with a sense of mild alarm, looks like it’s lived through a tornado that focused only on the island. Peter has absolutely no idea what happened to it, but the granite seems to have cracked. Its loose bits are neatly swept into a pile off to the side of the kitchen.

Peter frowns at it.

He read somewhere that granite can break if it has a crack left over from installment. If water gets inside, then the stone can slowly erode overtime. He hopes Wade remembers the name of the company that installed that piece.

Where is Wade?

Wade’s not in the condo at all. Peter walked around twice, even dipping into Wade’s closet which holds nothing but two extra suits on hangers and ten taped boxes, none of which Wade is hiding behind. Peter finds his own clothes, the ones he came in before changing into sweats, folded neatly on a box, with his cell phone on top of them.

Peter pokes at his phone, but it’s stone dead. He frowns, he’ll have to charge it so tomorrow he’ll have a full battery for work. He touches his jeans. They smell clean.

The condo is silent and cold in Wade’s absence.

Peter makes the bed, fluffs the pillows, and in retaliation for his cared for clothing, he tucks a pile of Wade’s laundry into the washing machine.

At a loss of what to do, Peter uses the bathroom to clean up—he’s sweaty and disgusting, sleeping with two bodies in a bed plus blankets is a hot and smelly endeavor. No wonder Wade opened the window, it’s rank in here. The price of comfort, Peter guesses.

He makes another aimless trek around the condo before finally sitting on Wade’s couch.

Maybe Wade went out for food?

Absently, Peter reaches out to grab the stack of paper on the coffee table. He curls into the couch and flips through them, regarding each chibi with affection. What a silly thing, coloring as an adult. He would laugh at himself, but the little exercise had calmed Peter down so much that Peter wishes he could sit on Wade’s lap and color every night.

Peter’s nearing the end of the doodles when he hears the front door open. The jingling sound of keys tinkles in the air, then the door’s slamming shut, and heavy footsteps stomp his way.

He peers over the back of the couch to see Wade dressed in full Deadpool attire.

Wade jumps a half food in the air, hand very distinctively reaching back for a katana, before freezing.

“Peter?”

They blink at each other in shared confusion.

Why is Wade currently dressed as Deadpool? And why does Wade seem to have forgotten Peter’s existence?

“Uhm,” Peter stalls, unsure of where to start. “How was work?”

Wade seems even more confused at that. Peter is too. Not really what he meant to ask.

This is weird. Wade never leaves Peter alone in the condo when they’re both there. Because it’s just a peculiar thing to do, really, leave someone who doesn’t live in your home alone in your home without you. That and whenever he’s around Wade, the man is glued to his side like a loyal pit bull. What had Weasel called him?

A security guard. What a comedian.

“It was good?” Wade replies, but it seems more like a question than an answer.

Peter watches as Wade’s body relaxes. The leather of his suit is perfectly molded to his form. He looks all the bit like he’s dressed for battle. Sleek and buff, muscles and a small arsenal of weapons strapped over him in an array of bondage. He looks like a war machine. It’s admittedly a hot look.

“That suit looks really good on you,” Peter comments, all id. God, he feels really pent up. Almost vibrating with need. “It’d look better off.” What? As soon as it comes out, Peter is downright mortified. It’s enough embarrassment to curb what arousal had been growing.

Where the hell had that come from? A banned issue of Gentleman’s Quarterly?

Wade does the tilted head, confused puppy pose. His hands flap a little. “Baby,” he begins, taking a hesitant step forward, and pulling off his mask. He holds it in his hand and regards Peter with a weird mix of confusion, relief, and cautious pleasure. “I didn’t know you were coming over. I would have changed into my best suit.”

“Huh?” Peter scrunches his face up, because had Wade smacked his head when he was out? Come over? Peter’s been over this whole time. “You brought me over.”

“I did?” Wade blinks. “Are you telling me The Secret works? Thoughts can change the world and the law of attraction is real? If I tell the universe I want you, you pop up whenever I desire?”

The law of attraction? Peter has never heard a phrase that screamed new age garbage like that before. “I mean you brought me over. After we left Weasel’s. You know, when you drew him an exact replica of the Stark Tower basement.”

Wade executes a full body jerk that looks like a cartoon was struck by lightning. Then he double takes, mouth opening and closing, and looks at Peter with concern. “Are you alright?”

That should be Peter’s line. Wade is acting strangely.

Nevertheless, Wade rounds the couch and kneels right between the coffee table and Peter’s feet before reaching out to press a hand to Peter’s chest.

“Why are you acting so weird?” Peter stares at him, bewildered.

“I was so worried, baby,” Wade regards him, trailing off like he’s at a loss of what to say. “I literally ran out after you, but you disappeared. I couldn’t find you. Weas gave me a call later though and said he ran into you, and to stop being overbearing.”

Wade’s gloved hand runs through Peter’s hair. It feels so good, but Peter can’t help but frown anyway at what Wade’s saying. What is Wade talking about?

Wade mirrors his face, frowning. He looks at Peter thoughtfully in silence. Then he pulls out his phone from a zipped picked in his belt. He taps it once, looks at the screen, then looks back up at Peter.

“I thought you had work today, Bambi,” he says, but it sounds more like a trick question than a statement.

Peter has the urge to pat Wade’s poor, jumbled head. “I don’t work on Sundays, Wade,” he says, slowly to get the point across. “That’s why we always end up meeting on Friday or the weekend.”

Wade pets Peter’s chest a little, mouth turned downwards at the corners, biting his lip like he’s holding something back. “It’s Wednesday, Peter.”

Frowning, Peter rolls his eyes. “It’s Sunday. Because Sunday follows Saturday.”

Wade taps his phone again and turns it to Peter’s face. Peter’s going to entertain this madness with the hope of pancakes.

Except the Android’s blue screen says Wednesday.

Peter jolts, the motion smacking his head into Wade’s hand.

He gulps as Wade leans closer, “What’s the last thing you remember, baby boy?”

Peter can’t think at all. There’s something wrong with Wade’s phone. That happens, right? Phones break, softwares jumble, and they say wrong things like the wrong weather or wrong time. Wrong day.

Before either of them can talk, Wade’s phone begins to ring.

Peter and Wade look at it accusingly. The number is restricted. Peter looks up at Wade in askance. Wade taps the button to answer.

“What?” he barks.

“Oh-ho,” Weasel’s voice speaks through the line, “Your boy’s got some fucking s’plaining to do. Wilson, get your ass the fuck over here and bring your little sugar baby too. Now. Time-sensitive, as fuck, this is not a drill.”

-

A very happy Dopinder drives them to Weasel’s. He chatters on about how he and Gita have made plans to go out to dinner at a local vegetarian restaurant, missing how Wade and Peter look at each other like lost souls in the back of the cab.

Wade won’t let go of Peter’s hand, which he repeatedly inspects, running his fingers over Peter’s palm and looking at it in disbelief.

Peter is severely worried about Wade the entire time. Nevermind that Wade’s phone is broken, Wade is suffering from something that Peter just cannot pin down. Something has him looking at Peter like he’s liable to combust and fade into the sun at any moment.

The rumors on the block are that Deadpool isn’t very sane. That he talks to himself, is prone to nonsensical violence, he doesn’t remember half of his life, and he jumps back and forth between time.

Peter has seen absolutely no evidence to support any of those rumors.

But the way Wade spoke to him earlier has Peter fidgeting with anxiety. Peter has a lot of crises. What if Wade has them too? And they’re coupled with light amnesia? Or what if Wade took a job, because Weasel called in a stupid favor in the middle of the night, and Wade got shot in the head or something? Then his brain regenerated and lost part of their weekend together?

These are all plausible scenarios.

Wade high-fives Dopinder with lackluster enthusiasm and then the two of them are in Weasel’s apartment, still reluctant to let each other go.

Weasel’s sitting at his table, three laptops open in front of him. When Wade and Peter push through the door, Weasel jumps up, looks at Peter, and points to the middle laptop.

“What the fuck is this, Mouse?” he screams, slamming on the space bar.

Peter and Wade crowd in toward the laptop and Peter watches with a sinking feeling as camera footage, from a camera that must have been placed by the Bilco doors, plays out in front of the three of them.

On the video, the elevator doors suddenly part open like the Red Sea and Peter comes jumping through them like a maniac, executing what is actually a rather skilled landing now that he’s able to see it from another perspective.

Wade, beside Peter, turns to Peter, sounding mildly impressed. “You came in through the elevator shaft?”

“How the fuck did you do that? And why the fuck aren’t you wearing any shoes?” Weasel pulls at his own hair.

“He forgot them,” Wade says conversationally to Weasel. “Plus he doesn’t wear them when he’s working.”

Oh, Wade. Unfailingly loyal and accepting Peter’s words as gospel. His allegiance to Peter is one that Peter feels blessed to have. Or at least, Peter would have felt blessed if Wade didn’t hiss the words with an air of disapproving sarcasm. Still salty Peter followed him in then. Oops. Well, Peter is still low-key pissed that Wade left without him in the first place.

“It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword. Or hepatitis,” Wade adds helpfully and with an unhealthy pinch of spite.

Peter can’t help but turn back to him and glare at his smirking face. “I thought it was tetanus?”

Wade doesn’t look a bit apologetic, just amused, with his arms crossed over his chest. It takes more than a flick on the wrist to put him back in his place. Weasel, however, is staring at Wade with a bewildered expression.

“Did you just quote the Bible?” Weasel asks with distaste. “Job 39:22?”

At that, Peter and Wade turn to Weasel to regard him with incredulity and puzzlement.

Wease gives them an aloof shrug. “I went to Catholic school,” He frowns and shudders, looking off into the distance with a face that says he’s reliving a nightmare. It lasts a second before he’s turning back to them and smirking. “Hey, what’s the difference between a priest and a pimple?”

Peter narrows his eyes, not liking where this is going. Is it possible his Spidey sense detects insensitive jokes? Or maybe just douchebags?

Wade brims with curiosity, leaning toward Weasel. “What?”

“A pimple waits until you’re a teenager before coming on your face.”

The two of them break up into riotous laughter, like a pair of boys in primary school.

“Oh, honestly,” Peter bemoans with disapproval. “You two are so immature.” It’s in times like these that he sees why Wade and Weasel get along so well.

Wade’s wiping at his eyes and Weasel raises his eyebrows at Peter like Peter should take that as a cue to join in the hysterics. Peter purses his lips and lets his silence showcase his disapprobation.

“Relax, Sister Weber, you act like you’ve got a rod up your ass,” Weasel snorts. “Or, shall I say, you act like you need a good rod up your ass?”

Peter’s reluctantly impressed with how fast Wade goes from bent over laughing to upright and menacing. Weasel takes a smart step away from Wade.

“You know what, nevermind. It doesn’t matter,” Weasel interrupts, laughter finally waning, and sounding like a mom who has just given up trying. He points at the laptop again. “You’re one lucky bug. The elevator shafts don’t have any cameras. We’ll talk about the foot fetish later, freak show. Let’s fast forward to the real problem, yeah?”

Weasel viciously taps the right arrow on the keyboard and the video fast forwards until he releases it.

On screen, Deadpool shoots a bullet into the window on the door. Then Peter’s getting up, pressing against the lodged bullet, rearing back and punching through the window effortlessly. Peter watches himself take a few steps back, then toss himself through the window like a torpedo, heedless of the glass shards.

And then he sees a black and white version of Deadpool drop his gun and throw himself against the door. Deadpool punches and kicks at the door, muscling at it, but it doesn’t open under his blows. Suddenly, Deadpool punches grow more frantic and then the lights cut off and the frame goes black.

Peter feels his heart lurch and he turns to Wade again. He still has his arms crossed but now it looks less sassy and more defensive. The smirk is gone. The laughter is gone.

The video has no sound, but Peter could see the desperation in Wade’s movements. He’d been terrified that something would happen to Peter. Peter wants nothing more than to throw his arms around Wade and reassure him. If he hadn’t been certain of the strength of Wade’s feelings for him, then he is now.

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” Weasel says, then he points to the laptop toward the left end of his line-up.

The video continues on the middle one, however. Peter is surprised to see that a white, strobe light is flashing on the door right above where Deadpool must be continuing to smack the door. It’s gritty, but Peter can see the fuzzy outline of Deadpool’s body as he starts breaking the door down.

“What the fuck is that?”

Peter and Wade turn in time to see the lights in the facility flash back on. The footage rolls on at its usual pace, the counter dictating seconds in the corner, but what’s on the screen appears to be fast-forwarded. Sped up.

They all gasp as on the screen, Peter’s body is lying on the floor seemingly twitching in a seizure. His limbs jerk uncontrollably, his head cranes to the side like his neck is broken, and he tosses his body back and forth so fast that it doesn’t look real. His mouth is wide open, jaw unhinged. Then Peter’s back arches unnaturally, suspended in the air for a moment in a painful stretch. In the next second, he falls limply to the ground like a deflated balloon.

Peter feels paralyzed as he watches his own body pulls up into a crouch, the way it moves is nothing like him. There’s nothing clumsy Peter Parker or smooth, agile Spider-Man about it. It moves like an animal out of place in a new skin.

Then with unerring precision, Peter’s face looks directly into the camera.

He stares at it, unblinkingly, then tilts his head in a vaguely avian manner before snapping in the direction of the curly-hair little boy curled up on the floor just a foot away from him.

Peter’s body crawls to the boy on all fours, shaky-legged and slinking. Peter tilts his head again, like changing its angle will increase his line of sight. Then Peter leans in and very visibly sniffs the boy.

It’s over in a heartbeat.

Peter’s body curls around the boy’s, nose buried in his hair, then Deadpool is charging into the room, throwing himself down next to them, gun back in his hand. Video Peter and Deadpool look at each other with naked emotion. Deadpool touches Peter’s head and body with a tangible need to make sure he’s okay.

They talk, then Peter’s head snaps to the door, alarmed. Wade motions, standing, and Peter follows him, lifting the boy up into his arms. They run out of the door, exiting the room, and the field of the camera.

Weasel’s hand flies back to the arrows and taps the left arrow key ten times. The footage rewinds in increments, paused, and showing snapshots. Weasel stops, pulls his hand away from the laptop, and they all look at where black-and-white Peter’s looking directly into the camera as though he can see the three of them.

His eyes are milky white. No iris, just sclera.

“Okay, no wig snatching today. I know you’re hesitant to give spoilers, but please confirm, Mouse,” Weasel says frantically, “that Paranormal Activity is not your mutant superpower.”

Peter stumbles back into Wade, almost tripping, losing control of his body.

It is most certainly not.

-

Peter doesn’t think he faints, but he certainly blacks out for an indeterminate amount of time. When he comes back to, he’s hyperventilating, sitting in Weasel’s kitchen chair, and Wade is trying to catch his attention. Wade’s warm hands, one around the nape of Peter’s neck massaging it gently and the other over Peter’s heart firmly, trying to contain his irregular breaths.

“What the shit was that?” Weasel says demanding from somewhere behind Wade.

“He doesn’t fucking know, shut the fuck up,” Wade replies, bending to bring himself closer to Peter. “Bambi, you with me?”

“How do you know he doesn’t know?”

Wade bares his teeth over his shoulder. “He doesn’t know, Weas, put the brakes on. I told you he screamed, I told you he screamed bloody murder when he got in there and you killed the power. You told me not to worry about it.”

“Yeah,” Weasel cries, voice elevating in pitch, “I thought you were being dramatic. I thought he did a Tarzan scream of triumph. Like, ahhh, I just saved the boy! You traumatized. Me hero. Not like, ahhhh, I need a young priest and an old priest.”

Weasel’s screaming impressions make Peter wince and jump. Wade’s quick to try to soothe him, “Breathe, baby boy,” he says, “You’re fine. Deep breath, sweetheart.”

Wow, Peter’s never heard Wade lie before.

Distantly Peter looks around the room, trying to catch his breath and his thoughts. As he does, he spots his military green jacket on the seat he’s sitting it. It’s still hanging over the back like a poor decoration from the Salvation Army. Wade spots it at the same time and pulls it off the chair. He settles it around Peter’s shoulders like a granny’s shawl. Peter is shivering, though he’s not really cold. But he accepts the comfort the barrier brings anyway.

Peter’s hands come up to paw at Wade’s wrist. “Wade,” he moans, “I—” he stops talking. Because what is he supposed to say? What reaction is appropriate for this situation? Peter just watched his own body contort and prance around on camera like it was a corpse under a necromancer’s spell. And he remembers absolutely nothing of it.

He doesn’t know what happened. He doesn’t know who’s on the footage. He doesn’t know what’s that footage. He just knows it isn’t him.

“That wasn’t me,” Peter rasps out, looking desperately at Wade, needing someone to throw him a lifesaver and pull him back aboard. “That wasn’t me.”

But who else could it have been? The footage isn’t a movie. It’s not a film. It’s the stream of a security camera. There was no one else in that room but Peter and the boy. The boy had remained in one corner the whole time and Peter was the only other person there. Peter remembers jumping into the room, reckless and needing to save that child. He remembers looking up from a head of curls at Wade, relieved that they’d done it. That they’d protected one life from…from what?

“Baby,” Wade says, letting Peter clutch at him. “What do you remember about when you went into that room?”

Peter shakes his head and relays what he just thought. He says it three times, in a row, probably sounding like an asylum patient, but Wade just nods as he stutters the story out on repeat, looking weary.

Forcibly, he removes his hands from Wade’s. He’s holding them too tightly. If he doesn’t check himself, he’ll break a bone. It doesn’t matter if Wade heals right away or not; Peter doesn’t want to hurt him. To keep himself occupied, he shrugs the coat on properly. He shoves his hands in the pockets of his newfound coat. Inside, his left hand feels a small card of paper: Esther’s picture. The photograph that Peter had carried around so dedicatedly as Ben Weber to remind him of his duty. The same photograph that he’d handed to Deadpool, urging him to see Peter’s burden and reasoning.

And then the back of Peter’s head pulses and a phantom impression of pain sizzles down his body. Just like that, he recalls something else.

“And pain,” he says, the memory coming to him like it’s not his own. “Oh, my God,” he whispers in realization. “It hurt so much.”

Wade leans in even further and Weasel is suddenly at Wade’s back, looking intrigued.

“What hurt? Where?” Wade demands.

“Everywhere,” Peter breathes, “At first, I felt nothing. But then it was unbearable. Sharp, sudden pain. Excruciating, like fire drumming into my bones. Something forcing itself inside of me. Like lava pushed into my veins. I could feel it, the pain, being pressed into each cell of my body. Like I was stung by thousands of wasps or, I don’t know, like I was bit by a snake. Like having poison in my body.”

Peter struggles to make sense of his thoughts. It had hurt tremendously. Worse than being bitten by a radioactive spider. Why hadn’t Peter remembered that?

“Bitten by a snake?” Weasel’s head comes to hover over Wade’s shoulder, peering down at Peter with squinted eyes. “You mean, it felt like venom?”

He shrugs, nodding weakly. “Yeah,” he agrees shakily, “like venom.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End Part 2.

 

The biggest kudos still go to Pineau_noir for continuing to beta this now massive train wreck. 

 

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