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Controlling Chaos

Chapter Text

“Hey Spidey, give us a kiss!”

Spider-Man whirled around as a gravelly voice called from behind him in the alley. There in the gloom, a large masked man in a red spandex costume hung upside down in an awkward imitation of Spider-Man’s own classic dangling from a web strand pose. Instead of a strand of web, however, the man was gripping a rope that was tied off somewhere high above. His mask was rolled up to reveal his mouth but not the rest of his face. The visible part was covered in scars and looked hideous. He had a pair of katana blades strapped to his back, several pouches attached to his belt, and a few guns holstered along his chest and thighs.

“Deadpool,” Spider-Man announced as he crossed his arms, displeased.

He had heard plenty of things about the mercenary, and none of them good, and the few times he’d tangled with Deadpool in the past were not pleasant memories. He would have been quite happy never to see the self-proclaimed “merc with the mouth” again. So much for Spider-Man’s hopes of a quiet weekend.

“Come on, Spidey,” Deadpool continued. “You have any idea how many books we’ll sell like this? The fangirls will go apeshit for it! C’mon, it’ll be over before you know it.”

While Spider-Man didn’t understand everything Deadpool was saying, the parts he did get he didn’t want to. Deadpool was taking the whole “flirting” thing he did to the next insistently uncomfortable level.

“This isn’t happening,” Spider-Man stated in a flat tone.

“If it helps, you can pretend I’m Wolverine.” Deadpool seemed to be wiggling his brows suggestively under his mask. “Without as much hair. Or the claws. Unless you’re into the claws. If you’re into the claws, I can get claws.”

Spider-Man raised his left hand up to his head, tapping his fingers gently against his forehead to ward off his oncoming headache. In a slightly pained voice he begged, “Please stop talking.”

He knew Deadpool was just messing with him---just spouting out crap to rile him up. It’s what he did, to friend and foe alike. As Deadpool continued to babble, his commentary getting increasingly repugnant, Spider-Man knew he had to do something to put a stop to this obnoxious joke. Though, what should he do? That was the universal question to all things Deadpool related to which Spider-Man had yet to find an answer. Ignoring him sometimes worked, but then sometimes Deadpool would just keep escalating to get a reaction. Engaging him slightly could work, but it then it could also encourage him to keep going. It was a complicated balancing act to know which way to go--Deadpool's thought processes were more tangled then any web that Spider-Man had ever created.

Well, if Deadpool was going to copy him, he could take a play from the Merc with the Mouth by doing something unexpected and possibly a tad crude. Deadpool made lewd jokes because he knew it made other people uncomfortable. It was time to turn the tables and call him on it.

In a quick motion, he raised up his mask past his mouth as he moved towards the mercenary. Before his nerve left him, Spider-Man reached out his arms and roughly pulled Deadpool’s head towards his own, bringing their mouths together.

 

Deadpool jolted from the unexpected development. ‘He’s kissing us,’ Deadpool thought.
He’s kissing us!
OMG, he really is!
‘This is actually kinda nice.’
We haven’t been kissed in how long?
Kiss him back already!

 

The light kiss Spider-Man had intended, one just long enough to mess with Deadpool but not long enough to mean anything, did not turn out as planned. He felt Deadpool startle at the first touch, and held on a moment longer to get his point across. But as he started to pull away, he found Deadpool was kissing him back.

Deadpool’s lips were chapped, his mouth tasted of Mexican spices with a garbage disposal aftertaste, and he didn’t smell very good, but damn he was actually a really good kisser, even upside down.

Time passed without Spider-Man being aware of it. He was brought back to his senses with the abrupt conclusion of the kiss as Deadpool landed heavily at his feet.

“Ouch,” Deadpool laughed, though there was real pain to his voice. “Went to touch you and forgot my hands were being used to hold onto the rope. Next time, you can tie me up—it’s ok, I’m into that too—and you’re much better at it.”

Spider-Man looked down in a bit of a daze. That did not just happen. He did not just make out with Deadpool. Spider-Man involuntarily brought his hand to his lips. Damn it. He pulled his mask down again, feeling his face flush. It was official. He hadn’t gotten any in so long that he was now desperate to the point of temporary insanity.

“So what was it? Pretending I was Wolverine?”

Now Spider-Man was mortified and pissed off. He punched Deadpool in the jaw, forgetting to hold his strength in check. Deadpool tumbled head over foot down the alleyway.

 

Deadpool watched, limbs in a heap and his jaw unset, as Spider-Man took off.
Idiot.
You totally blew it.
“What? What did I say?”
And we didn’t even get a chance to ask him about what we came here to ask about
Fuck. Now we have to find him again.

Chapter Text

Spider-Man was swinging through an alley on his nightly patrol of the city when he heard a familiar raspy voice call out to him.

“Hey Spidey!”

He glanced down mid-swing and spotted the quick flurry of motion that was Deadpool arranging himself so that he was casually lounging against a brick wall in a dark corner of the alley. Deadpool bent one arm behind him to pillow his head against the brick, and raised the other, his hand flailing awkwardly in greeting.

On the very long list of people Spider-Man wanted to see that night, Deadpool was pretty much last, and that was saying something considering the numerous hacks and villains he regularly tangled with. It had been three days since their last encounter, and Spider-Man had hoped that whatever reason Deadpool had for coming into the city, he was done and gone, leaving minimal devastation in his wake. Spider-Man should have known that that was too much to hope for.

He briefly considered swinging past the annoying mercenary, but in all likelihood, Deadpool, like a sugar-high six year-old, would progress to destruction to get his attention if ignored. Plus, Deadpool coming across him once was a coincidence, twice was a pattern and a pattern he could not afford. Spider-Man usually found people; people didn’t find him. If Deadpool was finding Spider-Man, then he had to be following him, and if he followed Spider-Man, he would inevitably find Peter Parker. Spider-Man worked very hard to keep his real identity secret. Heck, he even kept it shielded from S.H.I.E.L.D. If a mercenary like Deadpool found out, than his secret identity would probably be up for grabs to the highest bidder. He had to nip this in the bud.

Spider-Man landed softly beside Deadpool and turned to confront him head-on. Hands on his hips, he brusquely demanded, “How’d you find me?”

“I listened to the police lines for any emergencies that sounded like your type of gig and then looked for your most likely exit route--Yeah, but that didn’t work last time! This actually did--Even if it took a few days, it still worked!” Deadpool said, sounding a bit petulant at the end, his explanation filled with slight pauses as he seemed to be talking with himself.

Spider-Man crossed his arms over his chest and narrowed his eyes. “Alright, so you found me. Now what do you want with me?”

“Your sweet ass!”

Spider-Man shot his web upwards and grasped it with the intent to swing away.

“No wait, I was kidding--Mostly! Kidding again, kidding, kidding!” Deadpool pushed away from the wall, reaching out towards him. “Come back, Spidey, I really need your help with something!”

The pleading stopped Spider-Man before he fully committed to the swing. He sighed again as he flipped back to the ground. Turning towards the mercenary, he reluctantly asked, “What is it then?”

Deadpool bounded the few feet to close the distance between them. “You’re like this amazing hero, right?” He cocked his head to the side and watched Spider-Man expectantly.

Spider-Man shook his head.

“The label ‘hero’ might be a bit of an exaggeration considering Jamerson has his newspapers declaring I’m a public menace--worse than the alien invasion.” So much hate was thrown his way that he didn’t deserve; it was really disheartening. It was even worse when he considered the fact that actual public menaces like Deadpool went largely unknown to the general public. Spider-Man couldn’t help but feel a bit resentful as he added under his breath, “I’m certainly more heroic than some.”

Deadpool either didn’t hear or chose to ignore Spider-Man’s barb and continued to gush, “You’ve been a hero for a lot of years, right? Like at least dozen, right? I mean, it’s hard to keep track of which continuity we’re talking about.”

“Something like that.” It had only been six years since he got bitten by the radioactive spider in the AP Biology class outing to Oscorp’s R&D labs, but he didn’t feel the need to correct, or to elaborate on the facts to Deadpool. This conversation was going nowhere fast. “What’s your point?” he prodded.

Deadpool clasped his hands together, bouncing like a preteen fangirl at an anime con, hero-worship shining from his masked eyes. “Well you’ve been, like, this really good guy hero for a lot of years and I want to train with you! To be a hero and stuff like you do!”

“No. Way.” Spider-Man flatly declined. He was looked on poorly enough by the public. It would be so much worse to have Deadpool following him around. His reputation would never recover.

“Come on, please? Pleeeease, Spidey?” Deadpool leaned closer as he continued in a jittery rush, “I’ve really been trying to be a better person. It’s so hard on my own. And you and Captain America are like my all-time most admired good-guy heroes! But Captain America is always with Iron Man and Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. All those guys. I don’t like those guys! And I can’t trust government organizations. They scare the poop out of me! You don’t make me nervous to be around like those guys so you’re the best guy a guy like me could possibly look up to and admire. Besides, you have the nicest ass.”

Spider-Man blinked. “Um…thanks?”

“So please? Doesn’t even a guy like me deserve a chance?” How someone managed to make sad puppy dog eyes when wearing a mask, Spider-Man didn’t know, but Deadpool did.

Spider-Man found himself smacking his hand against his face. It was a mistake. He knew it was a mistake. But even knowing it was a mistake, he recognized that Deadpool was right; he deserved a chance. “I am going to regret this. But alright. You can tag along with me for a little while. There’s been some strange events recently, and no, I’m not talking about anything related to the alien invasion last year. These are more recent, and I could use an extra set of eyes to help me untangle what’s going on.”

“Yay! Deadpool and Spidey! Together again!” Deadpool wrapped his arms around Spider-Man and pulled him into a haphazard embrace. “We’re getting the band back together!”

“No hugging.” Spider-Man shoved him away. He ignored the exaggerated pouting from the disappointed mercenary, and continued, “You can follow me, but I have three conditions: First, no killing. None at all. Not even a little. Second, you listen to me and do what I tell you. Third, when I say you’re done, you’re done, no back-talking, you leave my city and that’s it. You understand me?”

“Deal!” Deadpool clapped his hands and skipped around Spider-Man, a disturbingly impressive feat in the tight alleyway. After a few circles, he stopped in front of Spider-Man.

“Now for my conditions!” he declared.

“You don’t get conditions, Deadpool. Your part of the deal is that you get to follow me, like you asked.”

“Awww, but I never get to name conditions.” Deadpool pouted, his puppy-dog eyes making a reappearance.

“Enough! I give up.” Spider-Man held up his hands to ward off the pathetic look. “What are your conditions?”

“You let me stay in your Spider-Cave with you and we can be roomies!”

Spider-Man crossed his arms and shook his head. “I don’t have a Spider-Cave. I have a regular tiny city apartment, and there is no way I’m letting you anywhere near it.”

Deadpool draped his arm around Spider-Man’s shoulders and whispered huskily, “I can buy you a Spider-Cave. I’m rich.”

Spider-Man grabbed the arm Deadpool had over his shoulder and flipped him hard onto the ground. Looking down at the prone mercenary, he added, “Condition rejected. Anything else?”

“Yes!” Deadpool reached up towards Spider-Man, puckering his lips under his mask and making kissy noises. “Another kiss, and this time you don’t imagine me as Wolverine.”

In reply, Spider-Man kicked him, sending Deadpool flopping down the alleyway. As Deadpool smacked into a dumpster, Spider-Man shot a strand of web up and swung off, calling behind him, “I’ll see you here tomorrow night for our first patrol.”

**************************
Well, we ended the night in a dumpster. Story of our lives.
Technically, we’re not in the dumpster.
“I don’t know, I think it went rather well over all.”
You’re right, he didn’t kill us.
“See, that’s what I’m talking about! He’s clearly head over heels for us!”
Seems more like we’re head over heels for him.
“With that ass, I’d take any position he wanted.”
Which will be flat on our backs at this rate.
“Who’s complaining?”
Not me.
Me neither.
“Now let’s get home...we’ve got a date tomorrow night!”

Chapter Text

After four nights patrolling together where Deadpool had not caused any death, destruction, chaos, or even public embarrassment, Spider-Man was finding it surprisingly nice to have someone with him. For the first time he was able to fully indulge his Spider-Man persona and trade quips with someone who actually understood all of his references. He sort of wished he got more of Deadpool’s return references, though. He knew from their prior interactions that Deadpool’s humor could get a bit morbid, and was always a tad confusing, but lately the merc’s jokes were constantly turning towards innuendo and unsettling flirtation.

Patrolling with a partner, however, did impact how Spider-Man went about the city. Deadpool didn’t have web-shooters and couldn’t fly independently. Spider-Man did have spare web-shooter gauntlets, because he never knew when one might break, but he was beyond reluctant to give his trademark tools to someone like Deadpool, who would either misuse them or sell off the technology. Spider-Man also refused to carry Deadpool on his back for anything short of an emergency. So far, there hadn’t been a need, much to Spider-Man’s relief and Deadpool’s exuberantly expressed disappointment.

Without the ability to swing through the city from his webs, traveling was slower and the terrain they covered more limited. They mostly stuck to the tops of the buildings that were packed closely together where Deadpool could leap between the rooftops. Their only other alternative, much to Spider-Man’s humiliation, was walking around beside each other on the ground. Walking next to Deadpool in public wasn’t as embarrassing as carrying him would be, but only just.

Spider-Man tried to quell his impatience with their slow pace--he knew it wasn’t fair to be frustrated just because Deadpool couldn’t move about as easily as he could. But when they walked on the ground, Spider-Man was painfully aware of just how much they stood out in their costumes.

Despite the awkwardness of traveling by foot, and the occasional uncomfortable innuendo, Spider-Man still found it constructive to have a partner. He finally had someone to brainstorm with concerning possible explanations for the strange events that had been happening the past two months.

“There have been dozens of reports of these sleep-walking cases,” Spider-Man recounted. “The victims have various levels of awareness. Some completely blackout and have no memories of their activities while sleepwalking.” As they passed a bustling restaurant, Spider-Man glanced through the window. Nothing seemed amiss, and he continued to talk as he moved on.

“Others have some awareness, but no control, as if they were watching someone else play a FPS game.” Spider-Man turned to see if Deadpool got what he was talking about, his explanation trailing off when his glance revealed that Deadpool wasn’t there. Instead, the mercenary was several feet behind him, posing for a video-television display camera in a shop window.

“Are you even listening to me?!” Spider-Man shouted.

“I’m sorry, I lost interest with the wall of text after blah blah blah not talking about me.” Deadpool waved his hand dismissively.

Spider-Man double-backed and grabbed the mercenary roughly, tearing him away from the camera display.

“We’re talking about it because that’s the whole ‘strange thing’ I wanted your help investigating! Now keep up,” Spider-Man commanded.

When he was sure Deadpool was back with him, he continued, “There doesn’t seem to be any known cause or connection between the victims. Thankfully there hasn’t been any harm coming from the sleepwalking behavior. But the downside is that the police don’t seem interested in investigating, and there hasn’t been any coverage in the newspapers.”

As Spider-Man maneuvered them down a shortcut through a back alley, he further explained, “Most of the city doesn’t even know about it, and the ones that do are dismissing it as a strange oddity that is nothing to be concerned about. But my instinct says that something is wrong.”

Deadpool came to an abrupt stop and flapped his hands at his stomach. “My instinct says I’m hungry.”

Spider-Man was instantly aggravated. “That’s your gut,” he admonished.

“Still says I’m hungry. Can we get some chimichangas? I love that word. It’s so much fun to say… Chimichangas… Chimi... changas... chi...mi...chan...gas…” Deadpool giggled.

“As I was saying,” Spider-Man grumbled as he turned and resumed walking. “The victims seem to be random. I don’t know where to even start to investigate. So for now, while I do my regular patrolling for crimes, I keep my eyes open for sleepwalkers.” He noticed Deadpool wasn’t following and stopped to see what was keeping the mercenary this time. “Will you please keep up already?!”

“All this plot exposition talk is bo-ring!” Deadpool whined. He ran up beside Spider-Man and tugged on his arm. “When are we going to get to the sexy-fun-times kissing part?”

“You know what? Fine,” Spider-Man snapped, his temper overcoming his common sense. He pulled his mask up to expose his mouth. “I’m tired of you harping about kissing! If you want to kiss me so much, why don’t you just do it already?”

That stopped Deadpool cold. For a moment, Spider-Man thought he had won their game of chicken, and was about to rejoice in his victory with another biting remark. But his words caught in his mouth as he watched Deadpool’s jovial attitude melt, replaced with a lethal aura. Spider-Man thought he’d seen Deadpool in just about every mood, but he hadn’t seen anything like this cold intensity. This was indeed a man who could go on a killing spree with no regret. Spider-man backed into the wall before he even realized that he'd stepped away from the chilly stare Deadpool had leveled at him.

Deadpool lifted his own mask up over his mouth and with a predatory grin he stalked over. Spider-man crawled backwards up the wall before his “fight” or “flight” instinct set on “freeze in panic”. Deadpool slipped between Spider-Man’s bent legs and leaned against him.

In that instant before the mercenary pressed in, Spider-Man regretted his provocative remark. Their mouths a whisper apart, he inhaled, tense with anticipation.

Deadpool paused just before their lips touched and smirked, the coldness gone from his aura. “Hmm.”

“Wha…?” Spider-Man slipped slightly as he tried to make sense of the second abrupt shift in Deadpool’s attitude.

Deadpool stepped away and pulled his mask down. “You totally want me. How cute!”

Spider-Man clung to the wall trying to process what had just happened. It was several long moments during which he watched Deadpool calmly walk off, before Spider-Man realized their confrontation had ended. He had been played again by that...that... asshole!

Spider-Man bounded off the wall, launching himself feet-first at the mercenary’s head. His kick connected, knocking Deadpool forcefully to the ground. “Drop dead!”

He could hear the raspy chuckling as he swung away.

It was definitely time he got laid. He’d have Harry set him up with someone. It would be nice to be dating again. A nice, cute girl...

********************************************************


We really need to stop ending chapters like this.
Like what?
Getting tossed down the alleyway by Spider-Man. This is the third time; enough is enough!
You can’t say we don’t deserve it, though.
Deadpool paid the boxes no mind as he giggled, “He totally wanted us to kiss him back there.”
If you really thought that, you’d have kissed him and not walked away.
His good mood faded. “Yeah. I know. I egged him on so he felt like he had to, not that he wanted to. That’s why I didn’t kiss him.”
The voices were quieted for a moment in solidarity. Then, the white box tentatively noted, He did lift up his mask for us, though.
“He did!” And just like that, Deadpool was giggling again.

Chapter Text

Peter had very little money and he needed to stretch every cent as far as it would go each month. He cut corners, found bargains, and still too often went without. But one thing he didn’t go without--no matter how tight his finances--was lunch out with his friends twice a week. These lunch dates had become routine since graduation, and they were pretty much the only chance he got to see everyone. It was well worth the drain to his budget. As he approached their regular table, Peter looked around to see who was there today.

The usual crew, consisting of Peter’s childhood friend Harry Osborn, his college friend Krissi Loewe, and her boyfriend Evan Christian, were all present. Sometimes lunch was just them, but frequently there was also a rotating crowd of friends, and by “friends”, Peter meant Harry’s friends. Between work and his Spider-Man gig, Peter didn’t have time for making new friends himself. While he liked some of Harry’s friends, others he couldn’t stand. Take for example, Randy, who had invited himself along today, Harry’s friend of a friend and coworker. Randy was definitely one of the people who hung around Harry that Peter couldn’t stand. Peter tolerated a lot for Harry’s sake.

Harry Osborn had been Peter’s best friend for the last ten years, and he was nearly the opposite of Peter in every way. Harry was tall, 6’1”, with a solid athletic build and classic Hollywood “Robert Redford” good looks, whereas Peter was 5’9” only on tip-toe, had a slight build, and could be called “nerd cute” at best and “unnoticeable” at worst. Harry was also outgoing and well-liked; Peter without his Spider-Man mask was either an unnoticed wallflower or a tossed about object of bullying. And to top it all off, while Peter had a dead-end temp job, was crippled with student loan debt, and could barely manage renting a crappy studio apartment, Harry was incredibly wealthy. Harry’s father was Norman Osborn, inventor, owner, and CEO of the bio-chem giant, Oscorp.

Peter and Harry were nothing alike and by all rights should have wanted nothing to do with each other, but back in middle school they had met up once outside of school and bonded over a mutual love of Star Wars and classic Captain America comics. And from then on, the improbable pair had learned they had a number of unexpected things in common. They had both lost their parents when they were young. Peter lost both his mother and father when he was a toddler, and then he lost his uncle Ben in high school. Harry also lost his mother when he was very young, and while his father was still alive, he was emotionally absent and hardly around. Peter and Harry had bonded through their mutual love of Peter’s Aunt May. She, in turn, adored them both and treated both boys as if they were her own sons.

Throughout high school, they acted more like brothers than merely friends, and Peter trusted Harry with everything. Everything, that is, except his secret superhero identity. That tiny little secret was the one thing Peter held back. In part, Peter knew that anyone who knew his secret identity could be in danger. But more than that, while he trusted Harry, Peter did not trust Norman Osborn. So Spider-Man was kept secret from his best friend, and Peter continued to suffer from the strain of keeping his secret identity had added to their friendship for the past five years. But even though things were a bit strained at times, Harry still met up with Peter twice a week for lunch.

Sitting across from Harry at the table was Peter’s other best friend, Krissi Loewe. She was vibrant and vivacious, had curves that should have their own danger signs, and she intimidated Peter immensely. On his first day of college, she had rescued him from being hopelessly lost. She then adopted him as her pet freshman and continued to look out for him, even after she graduated. She was now an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., a fact that Peter only knew because of his own secret life. He had run into her several times as Spider-Man while she was working S.H.I.E.L.D. ops. He was grateful to find that she was as interested in looking out for Spider-Man as she was in looking out for Peter. It was through her efforts that Spider-Man’s real identity was kept out of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hands, as she had agreed to Spider-Man’s request for privacy. And that was just another reason why he loved her so much--she was willing to do that for Spider-Man, not knowing she was also helping out her friend Peter.

Krissi had been dating Evan for as long as Peter had known her. Evan was a pro-skater, which was just about the coolest job Peter could think of, and on top of that he was a good-natured, boy-scout sort of guy who reminded Peter of Steve Rogers for some reason. He and Krissi were pretty much perfect together and if Peter didn’t like them both so much he’d feel incredibly jealous and nauseated by the pair of them. As it was, he was only somewhat jealous and nauseated, and mostly happy for them.

On the other hand, Randy Newman did make Peter feel legitimately nauseous. Peter didn’t know him very well, and the little he did know painted Randy in a highly unfavorable light. He gave Peter the creeps. He was one of those preppy dude-bro types in a sharp business suit and frosted hair who acted as if everything he said was amazing and that he was entitled to anything and everything. Peter kept expecting that at any moment Krissi would rip him a new one. He was actually looking forward to the inevitable smackdown. So far she had refrained, and Peter had to wonder at her uncharacteristic restraint.

Lost in thought, Peter hadn’t heard Harry ask him a question. Harry waved his hand in front of Peter’s face. “Earth to Peter?”

“Hmm?” Peter murmured. “Sorry, just spacing out a sec. What’s up?”

“I was asking, how’d your date go?” Harry demanded, exasperated.

Krissi smiled brightly. “Do tell. We want all the details. Was it great?”

Peter picked at his sandwich and replied morosely. “Great, yeah. If you can call it great when I got stuck in traffic and showed up fifteen minutes late.” And by ‘traffic’ he meant fighting as Spider-Man. “I was tongue-tied and not in cute way, put my foot in my mouth solidly no less than three times, and she said she never wanted to see me again. So um, yeah. Great.”

Randy snorted his soda and choked with muffled laughter.

“Ouch.” Evan winced.

Peter shrugged helplessly.

Harry sighed. “Peter, what are we going to do about you? You’ve been a disaster in the dating scene ever since Gwen broke up with you. Have you even had a second date with someone since?”

Peter shamefully shook his head.

“I don’t get it,” Harry continued. “You hooked up with a hottie like Mary Jane in high school and scored Gwen in college. You’ve had these two amazing girlfriends. Why are you still so awkward around women?”

Randy looked doubtfully at Peter. “You’ve actually scored ‘hotties’?”

“Awkward with anyone in general,” Krissi interjected, ignoring Randy’s rude commentary. “Our Peter is shy with pretty much everyone.”

Peter flushed and didn’t answer. Krissi took pity on him at his distress and shifted the conversation away. When he was Spider-Man, Peter could throw out quips and smartass remarks all day long, but as soon as the mask was off he was awkward-nerd Peter Parker, and he had no idea why his two lives were so different or what to do about it. Why did the mask allow him to be himself?

When lunch had ended and the group was breaking up to go their separate ways back to work, Peter was surprised to find Randy was still standing beside him as the others were leaving the diner.

“Something I can help you with?” Peter asked him.

Randy waited a moment, making sure that the others were down the street, well out of hearing before he responded, “Actually, I think I have something that I can help you with.”

Peter raised an eyebrow in inquiry.

Randy continued, “Life can be pretty hard for ordinary folk like us, right?”

Peter nodded, not at all sure where this was going.

Randy pulled him close and whispered conspiratorially, “So sometimes folks like us could use a little boost. A little something that could make an ordinary person into someone extraordinary.”

“There’s something that can do that?” Peter asked, mostly because it seemed Randy was expecting him to say something.

“Oh yeah,” Randy chuckled. “I know a guy that can make that happen.” Randy paused and looked around, making certain the other people on the street weren’t paying them much mind before he pulled a small vial from his pocket. “This here? Makes people around me want to do what I say. Like, completely, they fall over themselves to obey me. Really comes in handy when making deals with other companies. With some of this, I’ve moved up the ranks in Oscorp in record time. Or,” he leered and winked, “through the ranks of the local sorority house.”

He slipped the vial back into his pocket, and resumed walking, grabbing Peter’s arm and yanking him along. Peter couldn’t help but gape in horror, though thankfully Randy seemed to think his expression was one of amazement. “I know,” he continued. “Without something like this, plain folks like us would never have a chance to be around someone like Harry, but now I’m totally in his inner circle with the movers and shakers and this is just the start.”

“How does it work?” Peter asked. He hated playing along with an asshole like Randy, but he wanted to get more information. He wasn’t sure he believed Randy, but if it was somehow true, if whatever was in that vial did compel people to obey, then Spider-Man needed to put a stop to it.

“I don’t know,” Randy shrugged. “I just know that it does. For about an hour, give or take a few minutes, I have these powers. It’s the best high money can buy, and thanks to this little bottle, I’ve got a lot of money to use!” Randy chuckled.

Peter laughed weakly along.

Grinning, Randy asked, “You interested?”

“Yes,” Peter said honestly, but his interest was only in how to get rid of such a drug.

Randy handed him a business card. Peter looked at the card in his hand. It had only a single address on it, printed in small black letters against the sea of bright white paper.

Randy then instructed, “Go here, sit in the last booth, and order a pastrami sandwich. When you do, say that you hear the pastrami sandwich is very good here. Exactly like that. When the time comes, say you want something that’ll get other people to do what you want. Got it?”

Peter nodded, making plans in his head to find the drug dealer.

******************************************

“But the alpacas will feel left out….”
Will you focus already?!
“Why?”
Because we’re at the end of the chapter…
And it’s time for us to do the end of the chapter bit.
“But I’m not even in this chapter!”
You are now.
“Oooh…by commenting on the fact that I’m not in this chapter, I am now a part of it?”
Very meta isn’t it?
Embrace the paradox.
“Sweet!”

Chapter Text

“You did what?!” Deadpool exploded angrily, almost dropping his hot dog. With a quick scramble he was able to catch it before it fell six stories down.

“Look, it was a diner, a public place. It was perfectly safe,” Spider-Man muttered. There was a petulance to his tone that he didn’t intend. He stared at his own hot dog, his appetite suddenly gone.

They were sitting on the edge of a mid-rise building overlooking the city, dining on hotdogs with the works. A stone gargoyle sat between them, looking almost as if it were on fire from the last rays of the sun hitting it. While they occasionally got a bite to eat after a patrol, this evening Spider-Man had picked up the hotdogs before he met up with Deadpool. Considering what he had planned for the evening, they wouldn’t be getting any food after the mission. Deadpool was so ridiculously happy for the hotdogs that Spider-Man felt a twinge of guilt. The guilt lasted only until he glanced down at the folded up newspaper he’d left under the take-out drink holder, then his determination renewed. Tonight was going to be their last mission together.

Besides the fact that there wouldn’t be a post-patrol celebratory meal, he figured eating would give Deadpool something to do so he would sit still long enough for Spider-Man to “wall of text” explain what was going on. He thought he had a solid plan, but he hadn’t counted on Deadpool reacting so negatively to what he had done earlier that day.

“It wasn’t safe, baby-boy; you were meeting a drug dealer!” With his hot dog safe in hand again, Deadpool glowered over the gargoyle at Spider-Man.

Spider-Man glowered back at Deadpool. He had been doing the hero thing for several years now and he didn’t need someone like Deadpool acting like he didn’t know what he was doing.

“I had it under control,” Spider-Man insisted. “I scoped out the location before I entered. And as you can see, I survived just fine.”

Deadpool slumped and his aura radiated disappointment. Seeing this, Spider-Man threw up his hands in exasperation, forgetting his hotdog which impacted the wall behind them with a wet splot. “What’s the problem?” he demanded.

“You’re a hero--you’re not supposed to make drug deals,” Deadpool whined. He protectively clutched his hotdog, glancing side-eyed at the splattered remains of Spider-Man’s dinner.

“I needed to so I can follow him to find the guy behind these drugs,” Spider-Man aimed for a patient explanation, but even he could tell his tone was too clipped.

“So we make him tell us who his boss is.” Though he was pouting, there was a hard edge to Deadpool’s tone.

“That would be torture and heroes definitely don’t do that,” Spider-Man stated. “Besides, this guy is only going to be loose long enough for us to track his boss, then he’ll be locked up as well.”

“But…” Deadpool started.

“No,” Spider-Man interrupted. “Don’t even make jokes like that. You can’t do anything even remotely villain-y right now—there are too many eyes on us.”

That seemed to catch the mercenary off guard. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Spider-Man held up that morning’s newspaper. In large black print on the front page, the title read “Double Infestation? Two Spider-Men Terrorize New York!”

Deadpool took the newspaper from his hand and looked it over. After several long moments he giggled in delight. “They call me a ‘Spider-Man’!”

It was bad enough having a known mercenary around him without the mercenary being mistaken for him. His public-standing was tenuous enough—he didn’t need to have people confuse Deadpool’s actions for his own. “This isn’t funny!” Spider-Man snapped.

Deadpool stopped laughing and turned to Spider-Man. His tone was dead serious as he said, “Of course it isn’t funny! It’s down-right tragic!” He held up the paper and pointed at it. “This photo is too blurry and that angle is all wrong…it makes my butt look big!” Deadpool shook his head in disappointment. “We need to pick better poses for the next photograph.”

“There isn’t going to be a next photograph!” Spider-Man thundered as he snatched the newspaper out of Deadpool’s hand. “And we don’t pose for photos!”

“But we do go on drug deals?” Deadpool asked pointedly.

“That was different!” Spider-Man insisted. “I didn’t go in costume--I wasn’t ‘Spider-Man’ doing that.”

Spider-Man paused. No, he wasn’t going to let Deadpool keep side-tracking him. He shook his head. He didn’t know why Deadpool was so hung up on this, but it didn’t matter. He took a deep breath to calm himself.

After a long moment he continued. “That was an investigation. If I am going to figure out what this stuff is, I need to run tests. If I’m going to run tests, I need a sample. Having a sample is priceless.”

The sample might be priceless, but to get it had cost more than he had to spend. It was going to be ramen for dinner for the next two months, and late fees on all his bills that he wouldn’t be able to pay this month. Maybe it was for the best that his date the other night had bombed so badly—there was no way he could afford to date anyone. Damn, that was a depressing thought.

Spider-Man didn’t want to think any more about the dire straits of his finances. Instead, he recalled the strange interaction he had prior in order to arrange the meeting with the drug dealer. The interaction that he had been trying to describe to Deadpool before the conversation had gotten side-tracked. He took another calming breath and began again.

“I sat down where directed and I gave the password as my source told me, and was handed a phone,” Spider-Man explained. “The guy on the other end of the line had a voice-synthesizer box, so I never heard his real voice. He asked me what I wanted and I told him I wanted ‘something so people would obey me’, like my contact instructed. He told me he had something that could do that and to wait. So I got a meal and by the time I had finished, the waiter brought me the phone again. This time there was another guy on the phone. He didn’t disguise his voice like the first guy. Anyway, we made arrangements on when and where to meet. I went to the place and made the deal. And seriously, I knew what I was doing and I was fine.”

Deadpool, having finished eating, was fiddling with one of his guns. He muttered, “You should have asked me to do it. I deal with lowlifes all the time and you shouldn’t…”

“I handled it,” Spider-Man interrupted. Seeing the gun in Deadpool’s hand, Spider-Man thought it was a good thing he had taken care of it on his own. Between the newspaper article and his constant worry about when Deadpool might shoot someone, it was definitely time to tell Deadpool to take a hike. It would also be nice not to end every night frustrated by Deadpool’s constant jokes about hooking up. Enough was enough.

His hotdog decimated, his dinner was clearly over. Spider-Man pulled his mask fully down and stood up. “Come on. It‘s time to go.”

Deadpool also pulled his mask down. He absently tossed his balled-up hot dog wrapper down several stories. It landed perfectly in a trash can. Spider-Man found himself impressed despite himself. Deadpool had been mostly a goof the past two weeks, but it was little moments like this that reminded Spider-Man just how skilled the mercenary was.

“Where are we going?” Deadpool asked, continuing his unintentional display of prowess with a superhuman leap over to the roof of the next building as he followed Spider-Man’s swing.

At the next building over, Spider-Man paused long enough to explain, “I trailed the dealer back to his apartment. That’s where we’re going tonight. To check it out.” He then swung away, assuming Deadpool would follow.

Instead, Deadpool abruptly stopped. “We’re infiltrating some drug dealer’s secret base?”

“It’s a regular apartment, not a secret base,” Spider-Man said, annoyed that he was compelled to stop as well so he didn’t have to yell. He stood perpendicular to the side of the next building as easily as if he was standing on the ground.

“We’re infiltrating a drug dealer’s secret base?” Deadpool repeated. “Tonight?! But I’m not dressed properly!”

Spider-Man glared at the mercenary. Deadpool was dressed in his regular red and black suit with the two katana and several guns and pouches strapped to his body. It was the same outfit he had worn the entire time they had been patrolling together. “And what sort of outfit would you wear?” Spider-Man was curious enough to demand.

Deadpool stood defiantly. “A fuck-ton more guns, blades, and explosives to start.”

“I said no killing,” Spider-Man reminded, narrowing his eyes. “I was quite clear on that point.”

“You were quite clear on that,” Deadpool nodded in agreement. “You were, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.”

“Firefly. Cute,” Spider-Man begrudged. “Still ‘no’ to the massive weapons arsenal. We’re going to go in and out quiet-like.”

“Have you met me?” Deadpool looked in bewilderment at him. “Merc with the mouth? Guy with the big guns? Scoundrel with the swords?”

Spider-Man crossed his arms. “And now we’re at the second point, the whole you ‘follow my lead and do what I say’ one.” The third point, ‘leave the city when I tell you’ would come later that evening.

Deadpool grumbled but acquiesced. “Alright, but I don’t like it. I hate attending a party under-dressed.”

“You don’t have to. Just don’t like it quietly,” Spider-Man commanded. With that, he swung away.

*****************************

This whole jumping between buildings thing is getting tiring.
‘He won’t carry us though.’
We need something to let us fly.
Like what?
‘Like a jetpack!’
Exactly.
Where are we going to get one of those though?
‘Maybe we can get one of Ironman’s old suits.’
Didn’t he blow them all up at the end of Ironman 3?
‘Such a waste.’
Looked really cool though.
Too bad the government confiscated all the alien gliders.
“Oh, we ARE good. That’s a great idea!”
You do realize Spider-Man is leaving us behind?
With a devious grin, Deadpool hurried to catch up.

Chapter Text

Spider-Man led the way to an unassuming, mildly run-down apartment complex. They approached it from the back, through an alleyway made claustrophobic by the surrounding apartment high rises. The area was lit only from the ambient light pouring down from windows overhead. The air was thick with a blend of spicy aromas from the nearby Thai restaurant.

Spider-Man pointed to a darkened window on the third floor. “That’s the place. Nobody seems to be home--we got lucky.”

“Not yet, but the night’s still young,” Deadpool deadpanned.

Spider-Man looked over at Deadpool and tilted his head in confusion. “Huh?” Realization dawned. “Seriously, Deadpool?”

Deadpool’s cheeky grin was apparent through his mask.

“Enough,” Spider-Man dismissed. “We’ve got a mission. Take the stairs there and follow me up.”

With Deadpool trudging his way up the rusted fire escape behind him, Spider-Man swung up the wall towards the window. Peering in, Spider-Man saw that his guess was correct--the apartment was currently unoccupied. Next, he examined the window; it was open a few inches, but there was a lock holding it from opening any further. The only other window to the apartment, several feet to the right, was filled with a giant air conditioning box, preventing anyone from entering that way in a stealthy manner. Spider-Man looked back to the window in front of him and considered what to do. He could break the window but he didn’t know what sort of security the building had, and he really didn’t want to leave any hint that someone had been there.

While he mentally debated, Deadpool arrived beside him. After a quick glance to ascertain the situation, the mercenary reached into one of his hip pouches. He pulled out a few metal pins which he twisted into the lock.

“You can pick locks?” Spider-Man asked, impressed.

“Yeah, just a little trick I picked up a long time ago,” Deadpool explained in a low tone as his hands deftly worked at the lock. “I do sometimes have to sneak in for my jobs, though that generally costs extra. It’s much easier to break into things with loud and entertaining giant explosions.” After a few more twists of his fingers, there was a satisfying click. “There we go!” Deadpool bragged. “One open window.”

Spider-Man ignored him and eased himself into the apartment, dodging an end table with a lamp that were under the window. Deadpool slipped in behind, knocking the end table. Spider-Man’s quick reflexes caught the lamp before it hit the floor. Unfortunately, he put himself right in front of Deadpool, who then stumbled into him. Already off balance, Spider-Man fell, taking Deadpool with him. Spider-Man smacked back-first onto the hardwood floor with Deadpool sprawled on top of him in an uncomfortably intimate position.

Immediately Deadpool gushed, “Oh Spidey, just because you bought me dinner doesn’t mean you can have your way with me! You CAN have your way with me, of course, but not because you bought me dinner.”

“Get off me!” Spider-Man exclaimed with urgency, more loudly than he intended.

“Don’t wanna let you go.” Deadpool snuggled his face into Spider-Man’s neck and wiggled his hips from side to side in a way that was entirely unsettling.

Spider-Man could feel his face burn with a blush and he felt the heat course down his body, centering at his groin. Mortified that his body was reacting to Deadpool’s actions, Spider-Man flung Deadpool forcefully off. He didn’t give any thought to where he was throwing Deadpool, besides off of him, immediately. Belatedly, he was a little grateful that Deadpool landed on the couch, but only because he feared the noise Deadpool would have made landing on the hardwood floor.

Sitting up on the couch, Deadpool pouted, “Aw, Spidey, I thought we were having a moment.”

It took several long breaths for Spider-Man to calm down. He got back on his feet and berated, “This isn’t the time to be fooling around. We’re on a mission.”

“So when we’re done with this then we can fool around?” Deadpool asked coyly. He spread his legs, arched his back, and ran his hand along his thigh seductively.

Spider-Man looked away and growled, “I’m going to throw you out the window.”

“That wasn’t a no,” Deadpool pointed out.

Without looking, Spider-Man shot web at Deadpool, encasing the lower half of his mask in sticky webbing.

While Deadpool peeled at the goo which prevented him from talking, Spider-Man took the opportunity to examine the apartment. It was a good sized apartment for a one-bedroom in the city. There was a kitchenette to the left and on the other side a door to the bedroom. The furniture was basic IKEA, but the place was cluttered with expensive toys like a huge television, surround sound system, and the latest video game console. To ward off his growing sense of jealousy, Spider-Man reminded himself that crime only paid in the short term. This dealer would soon be locked up.

“This place smells,” Deadpool complained, having successfully removed the webbing from his mouth.

“So do you,” Spider-Man shot back. “Make yourself useful and look around the place, alright?”

“What am I looking for?” Deadpool asked.

“Vials like this.” Spider-Man held up the small clear bottle no bigger than his pinky. “Clues to who his boss might be.” Spider-Man looked around, finally spotting a computer on a desk in the bedroom. He pointed to it. “His email and contacts. Other drugs or illegal activities. Y’know, the whole ‘bad guy’ stuff.”

“One question.”

Spider-Man rolled his eyes under his mask. “What?”

Deadpool looked Spider-Man up and down. “Where were you keeping that vial?”

“Drop dead,” Spider-Man grumbled as he walked away from Deadpool. As he crossed through the bedroom towards the computer, he slipped the vial back into the storage compartment on his web shooter. He sat down at the desk and moved the mouse to wake the computer up. The screen remained dark for a long moment, then brightened to reveal the logon screen. He tried a few common passwords but none worked and a quick search around the computer failed to find any serendipitous pieces of paper listing the password on them. Spider-Man cursed. Who the hell locked a desktop?

“Problems?” Deadpool asked, coming up behind Spider-Man.

“Locked,” Spider-Man explained.

“Can you hack your way in?”

Spider-Man shook his head. “I’m more of a bio-chem sort of nerd, not a computer geek.”

“That sucks.”

“Understatement.” He wasn’t getting anywhere with the computer. Spider-Man pushed out away from the desk and noticed for the first time that Deadpool was holding something. “What’s that?”

“Seemed like one of those ‘illegal’ things you asked me to look out for,” Deadpool responded as he held up the device for Spider-Man to look at. It appeared to be some sort of sci-fi-esque blaster. “There’s a whole case of them in the other room.”

Before Spider-Man could examine the device any further, he felt the tingle of his Spidey-Sense. A fraction of a second later, he heard the sound of someone coming closer in the hallway outside the apartment. “He’s coming,” he hissed to Deadpool. “Quick, hide!”

The window they had come in was on the far side of the apartment--they would never reach it in time. There was only one place to hide, and Spider-Man didn’t like it. With no other choice, he grabbed Deadpool by the arm and dragged him. Caught off guard, Deadpool nearly dropped the blaster. He juggled it for a moment before he managed to get it back firmly in hand. Spider-Man shoved him into the closet. As he followed behind, Spider-Man twisted his foot on a large pair of shoes and fell heavily onto Deadpool with a gasp of pain. Deadpool, for once, didn’t joke around. He grabbed Spider-Man by the torso and hauled him back to his feet with one hand while pulling the closet door shut behind them with the other. The door didn’t fully close, and a crack of ambient light followed them into the cramped quarters.

The closet was tiny, and Spider-Man was pressed uncomfortably close to Deadpool, who still had his arm around him. Spider-Man wished there was a quiet way for him to punch Deadpool for taking advantage of the situation. He started to pull away when he realized that Deadpool wasn’t fooling after all. He had angled himself so his body was a shield between Spider-Man and the door. In his other hand, Deadpool held one of his guns that he had somehow swapped with the blaster he had previously been holding.

Annoyance flashed through him, and Spider-Man roughly elbowed the mercenary. Deadpool was jolted out of his vigilance and Spider-Man took advantage of his surprise to push him out of the way. Spider-Man angled himself so he was the one at the closet door, just in time to hear the apartment door open.

The narrow gap of the closet door, the distance across the bedroom, and the doorway between the bedroom and living room, gave Spider-Man had a frustratingly limited frame of view. He watched as a pair of male figures hauled a third man into the front door and out of sight as they moved further into the apartment. From the sound of it, they dumped the guy on the floor. There were some rummaging noises as the men moved around the apartment. Then the two guys left, the door slamming firmly behind them.

**********************************

It was cramped in the closet, and while any other time Deadpool would have rejoiced at being pressed up against a cutie like Spider-Man, he really didn’t like being in such an enclosed place when he might need to fight. Particularly after the adorable fellow that Deadpool rather fancied, who didn’t have a healing factor, decided to push him out of the way in order to stand point.

Long moments passed before Spider-Man whispered to him, “I think we’re safe now. His friends have gone. He must have passed out drunk or something.”

He…he thinks those were that guy’s friends.
Were we ever that naïve?
‘No. It’s so freaking adorable. I just want to grab him and squeeze him.’
And then have our way with him.
‘That too, but we’ve got to deal with this mess first.’
He’s going to be really upset when he realizes.
We’re going to have to break it to him gently.

**********************************

“Oh, baby-boy,” Deadpool said, his voice unusually gentle. “Those weren’t his friends.”

Spider-Man hushed the mercenary, then anxiously looked for a sign to see if the guy in the other room had heard him.

“There isn’t anyone who can hear us,” Deadpool insisted.

Spider-Man was chilled by Deadpool’s words. Without replying, Spider-Man cautiously opened the closet door and skulked through the bedroom towards the main room. Deadpool followed less carefully. There was no movement in the other room at all.

Peering around the corner, Spider-Man saw the body of the dealer sprawled carelessly on the floor in front of the couch. Time seemed to stop for a moment; the only noise was his heart pounding in his chest.

Deadpool had come up behind him. “Clean,” he noted after a glance down at the body. “Pro-hit.”

“Pro-hit?” Spider-Man asked without looking, his eyes still stuck on the body on the floor. It wasn’t his heart, he realized, but one of those annoyingly loud manual clocks, insistently ticking.

Deadpool moved through the main room, looking around. He explained as he moved about, “Professional hit. The aim was dead on perfect, right in the heart. There were no extra shots, didn’t even need to double tap him. The person who shot this guy knew what he was doing.”

Spider-Man had seen dead people before, in the battle of New York, but he hadn’t seen someone he knew, who he had seen alive just hours before, now dead at his feet. The annoying ticking pounded in his head. Deadpool’s movements had finally broken the spell and Spider-Man managed to tear his eyes away from the body. “What are you looking for?” he asked.

Deadpool didn't stop as he explained, “With a pro hit like this, for the body to be brought back to the victim’s house, it means one of two things. First, the killer, or whoever hired him, wanted the body found.”

The ticking beat in time with his Spidey-Sense. Dread filled Spider-Man. “And the other?”

“Because they don’t.”

They saw it at the same time. A backpack half under the couch that hadn’t been there minutes before. His Spidey-Senses screamed at him but Spider-man had no time to get out of the way. He managed a strangled “Run!” when a flash of red rushed toward him and the world exploded.

Chapter Text

Issue 07: But I'm not Dressed for Company

Spider-Man woke to intense pain, the smell of burnt meat, and a dead weight on top of him. He felt heavily bruised all over and his back ached with a pain particularly evocative of road burn. He prayed that his costume was holding together. Breathing hurt. He probably had a cracked rib. He definitely had a concussion. He struggled to open his eyes. It took several tries before he was successful. It took longer before he could process what he was seeing.

He was laying on asphalt in a back alley, staring up at the giant hole blasted out of an apartment complex. What happened? Vague recollections flittered through his mind: the drug dealer, his apartment, the ticking, the backpack, the explosion. Deadpool. Deadpool?

Deadpool had jumped between him and the explosion. He had pulled Spider-Man close, shielding him as they were blown out of side of the building. They’d struck something…what? Glancing straight up he saw an impact crater in the wall. Right...they’d hit the wall of the next building over. There had been a long moment of stillness, and then suddenly Deadpool hadn’t been holding him anymore and they had fallen to the ground, bricks, mortar, and metal raining down on them.

The drug dealer’s living room no longer existed. All of the apartments adjacent to it were suffering from some level of damage. Smoke poured out of the maw. Clouds of dust billowed in the air around him. There was rubble surrounding him and a large piece on top of him. Fucking hell, it hurt to breathe.

Where was Deadpool? He looked around as well as he could from his low lying vantage point, trying not to move his torso at all. There. He could see Deadpool’s arm several feet to his left, among more rubble. He needed to get up. He needed to see if Deadpool was alright.

First, he needed to move the rubble off himself and sit up. He could do this. He went to take a deep breath but instead what escaped halfway through his attempted inhale was a nearly soundless sob. He tried a few shallow breaths. He looked back over at Deadpool’s hand and forced his head to turn a little further so he could see if Deadpool was also pinned. There was no Deadpool. It was just his arm, separate from his body.

A jolt of adrenaline flooded though Spider-Man and his mind cleared. He started to sit up, pushing at the weight holding him down. That was when he realized that the charred mass on him wasn’t rubble. It was Deadpool.

In addition to being extreme burned, Deadpool’s left arm was ripped off at the elbow, his left leg ended mid-thigh, and sharp white bone spiked out where his right foot should have been. What was left of Deadpool was sprawled on top of Spider-Man in the same position they fell into earlier when climbing into the apartment, but there were no innuendo or jokes this time. For once, Deadpool was quiet. Too quiet.

Deadpool wasn’t breathing.

Earlier Spider-Man had thought that seeing the dead body of someone he had met personally was bad, but seeing the devastated corpse of someone he had been hanging out with for the past two weeks was so much worse. Even his time in the Battle of New York hadn’t prepared him for something like this. One dead body was traumatic enough, but two in one evening...Yeah, this day officially had two bodies too many. Fuck.

He just barely managed to pull his mask up over his mouth and twist his head to the side before he vomited. He vomited until he had nothing left to vomit up. Then he dry-heaved as panic took over. A sudden sharp pain in his chest called an abrupt halt to his full-body convulsions. He turned his head away from the smell of vomit and lifted his shaking hands to rest on Deadpool’s shoulders.

“Oh man, don’t do this. Please, don’t do this to me, Deadpool.” He couldn’t have someone die because of him, he just couldn’t. Not again. Not even someone like Deadpool. He was sobbing as he babbled, feeling more desperate with each word. “Get up. Please. Make some random joke, grab my ass, whatever, please, just get up. I’m begging you. Just--get up. Deadpool, please. Don’t be dead, don’t be dead. Please… Wade? Please don’t be dead, Wade. I’ll kiss you, I promise, just please don’t be dead.”

“You promise?” a hint of a whisper came from the charred form.

“You’re alive?!” Spider-Man exclaimed. But Deadpool hadn’t been breathing!

“As if a little blast like that could kill me,” the faint voice said derisively.

Spider-Man started to lift his hands off Deadpool, concerned that his grasp might be exasperating his injuries.

“Don’t let go…I liked it…”

“Don’t talk. Just take it easy.”

Spider-Man lowered his hands onto Deadpool’s back and gripped gingerly. He slowly rotated them both until Deadpool was on his side, resting on his remaining intact arm. Spider-Man carefully pushed himself up to a sitting position. “I’ve got to get you to a hospital.”

Spider-Man had no idea how he was going to do that, and what it would mean for the mercenary when, not if, when he recovered. Government authorities, S.H.I.E.L.D. and who knows who else would swoop in as soon as Deadpool was through the hospital door. But Deadpool had nearly killed himself to protect him, so Spider-Man would do whatever was necessary to help him. Even if that meant breaking him out of jail later on.

“No need.” Deadpool started to move as if he was trying to sit up on his own. “I’ll recover.”

Spider-Man held Deadpool gently but firmly. “Don’t be stubborn. I’m amazed you’re alive as is. You won’t last much longer without medical help.”

“Not being stubborn,” Deadpool insisted, his voice gaining strength. “I told you before. I have a healing factor. My body recovers.”

Spider-Man gave the barest of head shakes and asked in disbelief, “How can you possibly recover from this much damage?”

Deadpool looked up at Spider-Man. “You just saw me come back from death.” The matter-of-factness of his tone belied the enormity of his statement.

Spider-Man felt Deadpool’s words like a physical blow. Deadpool had died. He had died to protect him, even though Spider-Man had treated him badly. Spider-Man suddenly felt regret for how callously he had regarded the mercenary the past few weeks. “You saved my life,” Spider-Man said, his voice thick with emotion. “Thank you.”

There was a long pause before Deadpool forced a grin and observed, “I had to protect that sweet ass. Now whata’bout my kiss?”

Spider-Man was relieved that Deadpool was flirting with him—it made the whole ‘talking to a man missing more than half his limbs in a back alley after a massive explosion’ situation feel a little more normal. Maybe. Spider-Man was about to give a good-natured retort when he heard the sounds of distant sirens moving closer. “We’ve got company coming.”

He hesitated. On one hand, there were definitely people injured in the explosion, possibly even dying. On the other hand, help for those people was arriving and Deadpool, who had just saved his life, had no one else that could help him. There was no way Deadpool could get away on his own, not missing both legs. Making his choice, and hoping he wouldn’t regret it later, Spider-Man announced, “If you’re certain you don’t need a hospital, then we need to get out of here now.”

“I’ll be fine,” Deadpool assured. “Could you grab my arm, though? It’s easier to reattach than to grow from scratch.” Spider-Man stared at him incredulously. “My life motto!” Deadpool singsonged, “It even rhymes! Better to reattach, than grow from scratch!”

“Right. Ok. Arm. Yeah, I can grab the severed arm. Yup.” Spider-Man used the wall beside him to pull himself up into a standing position. He fought past the wave of vertigo and pushed on. He stepped forward to where the arm lay. He really didn’t want to touch it. He paused to consider where he should grab the arm. The narrow part of the wrist or the hand itself? After a brief moment of indecision, he picked up the severed arm at the narrow part of the wrist where the sleeve covered the flesh still.

Spider-Man turned and walked the couple of steps back to Deadpool and held out the arm. Deadpool took it and pressed it to his stump.

“How long will it take to reattach?” Spider-Man found himself asking, morbidly curious.

“Less time than it’ll take for my legs to regrow.”

While Deadpool held his arm in place, Spider-Man knelt down and put his arms around Deadpool’s torso. He scooped him up over his shoulder in a modified fireman’s carry. His ribs screamed in protest but he refused to let his pain prevent him saving the man that had saved him.

With a flick of his wrist, he shot web out and he swung them up and away.

********************

Holy fuck is he strong!
We knew he was fucking fast but we hadn’t realized how fucking strong he really is!
‘He could totally pin us down and have his way with us.’

“Not happening, Deadpool.”

‘Oops, did we say that last bit out loud?'

“Yes, and that part too,” Spider-Man commented.

We gotta stop doing that.
‘Yeah, sorry. Still sort of off after the whole dead thing. Hard to keep track of inside voice and outside voice.’
It’s nice to be carried by someone.
‘It totally is, but it’d be better if he was carrying us princess-style.’

“Your back is a charred mess,” Spider-Man observed. “Carrying you like that wouldn’t work.”

“But when it heals up, then you’ll carry us princess style?”

“Not happening either, Deadpool.”

“Oh well. At least at this angle I can enjoy watching your ass glide under that spandex.”

Spider-Man almost missed his next swing but recovered in time. “OK, we’re done talking on this subject. Especially if you want to get home in one piece.”

“But I’m not in one piece.”

“Well I am, and I’d like to stay that way.”

“I like you in one piece, too, Spidey,” Deadpool said softly. “I like you in one piece, too.”

Chapter Text

Spider-Man had only gotten them a few blocks away from the explosion when he heard a soft beep beep coming from his gauntlet.

"Wazzat?" Deadpool asked with some concern in his voice.

"I got a text message," Spider-Man answered as he lowered them to the ground.

"No, I don’t think texting while swinging is as bad as texting while driving," Deadpool said. "But the real question is ‘where he’s keeping the phone?’”

"Hey, we did that joke already, and it wasn’t funny the first time," Spider-Man said with annoyance as he broke into Deadpool’s conversation with himself.

Spider-man landed more heavily on the street than he intended. He had to place a hand against a nearby wall to steady himself. When he caught his breath, he eased Deadpool off his shoulder and sat him on the ground with his back against the side of a building. Once seated, Deadpool flexed his hands, proving that his left arm had reattached itself. Spider-Man was relieved to see a sign that Deadpool was healing.

With half an eye still on Deadpool, Spider-Man reached into one of his gauntlets and pulled out a small cell phone.

“Oh, so that’s where you kept it,” Deadpool said. “Useful. But not as much fun as what I was imagining.”

“I don’t want to know what you were imagining,” Spider-Man shot back.

“A pocket dimension. Why, what did you think I was imagining? Hmmm…naughty, naughty Baby-boy.”

Spider-Man flushed. “Right. As if you weren’t thinking something perverted!”

“No, honestly, this time I wasn’t. That was all you. But you can think perverted thoughts about me anytime you want,” Deadpool said amiably.

Spider-Man didn’t say anything further as he checked his phone. He knew who the message was from—there was only one person who had this particular number.

“What does Krissi want?” he muttered.

He carefully pressed some buttons on his phone, an exercise made tricky because of his gloves. The text message read “Danger! SHIELD after you!”

“S.H.I.E.L.D.?” Spider-Man wondered aloud. “What does S.H.I.E.L.D. want with me?”

Spider-Man tucked his cell phone back into his gauntlet and then self-consciously checked his mask. Despite the abuse his costume had suffered that evening, his mask was still in one piece, and while the back of his costume had been shredded when he slid down the brick wall of the building, it was at least holding together enough so he hadn’t been swinging through the city naked. He never wanted to do that again. His body wasn’t in any shape for confrontations with S.H.I.E.L.D., but if their spies were nosing around, he was at least covered enough to protect his secret identity.

Deadpool’s red and black suit had disintegrated in the back and the front was only held on by his belts and the tattered remains of his straps. His mask was ripped and burned in places and only covered the top part of his face. Considering the wretched shape of his costume, it was a good thing Deadpool didn’t rely on it to protect a secret identity. For those who knew Deadpool, it was common enough knowledge to know his real name was Wade Wilson—even Spider-Man knew that and he wasn’t part of any superhero team or international government police agency thing.

Still, even if he didn’t have a secret identity to keep, Spider-Man doubted Deadpool wanted to have a run-in with S.H.I.E.L.D. this evening either. After another half moment to rest, he and Deadpool would be safely swinging over the streets. Spider-Man could find out later what S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted with them.

As he reached down to scoop Deadpool up again, he felt the tingle of his Spidey-Sense. He whirled around to try to find the source of danger, knowing that it was already too late to avoid a meeting with S.H.I.E.L.D.

Seven heavily-armed figures eased out of the shadows, four women and three men, and, as Spider-Man expected, they were dressed in S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms. They each had at least one gun in hand--two had assault rifles, four had a pair of pistols, and one had a single gun. Two of the women took up a position in front of the other agents.

One was a dark skinned woman who was intimidatingly tall and correspondingly broad. Her black hair was slicked back into a low ponytail that jutted out from her head in a puff of natural curls. Her otherwise bland S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform was accessorized with a pair of small gold hoop earrings. She wore a stern expression, but unlike her colleagues, she wasn't actively pointing her pistol at either Spider-Man or Deadpool.

The second woman leading the group was petite, Asian and holding a pair of pistols that were trained on them. Her proximity to the other woman made her look even smaller than she actually was in comparison. She looked severe with her cropped pixie haircut and her thin lips pressed in a harsh frown.

“Spider-Man, Deadpool, you’re coming in with us,” she announced.

“Over my dead body,” Deadpool snarled from beside Spider-Man. He already had a pair of his own guns in his hands that Spider-Man hadn’t even realized he had drawn. There was a flurry of clicks as a dozen guns were cocked in response.

“Whoa!” Spider-Man cried out. He raised his arms up to chest height and held out his open hands in a halting stance as he placed himself between Deadpool and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. “Okay, folks! Let’s calm this down a little.” He took a slight breath and addressed the agents. “So let’s start with: ‘hi. What’s up?’”

The Asian woman in front glowered. “We don’t have time for your games, Spider-Man. We’re not fooling around.”

“I’m not playing,” Spider-Man replied quite seriously. “I’m trying to figure out what’s going on and how we went from my, ‘I’m not a super-villain but I don’t want to join your club because your organization isn’t willing to accept me without knowing who I am under this mask and I’m not cool with that’ to this. We’ve been fine ignoring each other until tonight. So yeah, what’s changed?”

“Your own actions tonight have changed things. Submit yourself to us now. You will answer our questions in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody,” the smaller woman insisted stubbornly.

“Yeah, we’ll see how well you can ask anything with your mouth full of lead,” Deadpool threatened.

“Deadpool, I said ‘no killing’,” Spider-Man snapped without taking his eyes off the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.

“Yeah, Spidey, we’ll talk about that sometime when there aren’t a dozen guns pointed at you.” Deadpool’s tone was falsely light, but there was an edge to his voice.

“This is ridiculous, Misato,” the larger woman suddenly spoke up. “We don’t need to bring them in—we can ask our questions here. This doesn’t need to be a blood-bath.”

“This isn’t going to be a blood-bath, Preston,” Misato stated. “There are seven of us and only two of them, and Wilson is missing his legs.”

“Sure, but I still got the parts that count,” Deadpool said snidely. Spider-Man wasn’t certain if he was referring to his hands, which held his guns, or if he was making an off-color reference to certain other parts of his anatomy. The two agents ignored Deadpool in any case.

“Yeah, you haven’t seen Deadpool in action before,” Preston retorted. “I have. Without his legs, seven-to-two, this might be an even match, but I don’t like those odds.”

Considering how beat up the pair of them were, Spider-Man didn’t particularly like the odds either, but Deadpool wasn’t as reticent. “Let’s find out—” Deadpool started.

“What is it you want to know?” Spider-Man broke in urgently, eager for a possible resolution to the confrontation that didn’t involve a gun fight or capture into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hands.

Misato glared at Preston, who returned with a steely look. After a pregnant pause, Misato gave up. “What was your involvement with the explosion?” she asked Spider-Man.

“Our involvement?” Spider-Man repeated, incredulously. “Our involvement was that we got blown up in it!”

Her eyes narrowed as she continued to question, “And how did you find out about our investigation?”

“What investigation? Agent, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Spider-Man answered, honestly lost.

“Don’t play coy, Spider-Man,” Misato said dismissively. “You expect me to believe you happened by chance to come upon the same location we were investigating?”

“It was just a coincidence,” Spider-Man insisted. “We were following our own lead on our own investigation.”

Misato looked at Spider-Man sharply. “You really expect me to believe that?”

“Well, if we had caused the explosion, we wouldn’t have gotten ourselves blown up in it.” Spider-Man turned slightly to show how torn up his back was, and pointed to Deadpool on the ground. “We wouldn’t have let ourselves get this injured just for the fun of it.”

“I might,” Deadpool chimed in.

“Not helping, Deadpool,” Spider-Man hissed at the man behind him before continuing to address the agents in front of him. “Ok, he might, but I wouldn’t have.”

“They have a point,” Preston interjected. “They wouldn’t have gotten themselves blown up if they caused the explosion. And no,” she said as if anticipating Misato’s next question, “I doubt it was some elaborate ruse for our benefit—they were legitimately surprised by our arrival just now. It does appear that this is just a case of them being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“I will concede that you were not the ones that created the explosion,” Misato begrudgingly admitted. She lowered her gun and her fellow agents did the same. Deadpool kept his guns half raised. “That being said,” Misato continued, “because of your blundering, the apartment that might have contained valuable evidence was destroyed and some of our agents nearly got killed. Stay out of our investigation, Spider-Man, Deadpool. Or next time we will arrest you for interfering.”

She gave a brief nod of dismissal at the agents behind her. As the other agents turned to leave, Misato paused a moment longer before saying, “And Spider-Man. If I were you, I would reconsider what your current alliance says about you.” Misato looked pointedly at Deadpool.

Anger filled Spider-Man and he yelled, “I’d rather hang out with him than with you any day!”

Unfortunately his retort went unnoticed as the agents had already disappeared into the shadows. Spider-Man sighed. “Come on. Let’s get out of here before they change their minds.” He hauled Deadpool back over his shoulder and with a flick of his wrist, he shot web upwards and swung them away.

***************************

Do you think he meant it?
The real question is: does he even realize what he said?
Only one way to know…

“Did you mean it? What you said back there?” Deadpool asked Spider-Man.

“I definitely meant it when I said ‘no killing’,” Spider-Man replied.

The way he keeps harping on that it’s like that’s all we do.
It is all we do. We’re damn good at it too.

“It’s not! I’m more than just a killer, ok?” Deadpool bristled. “Look, Spidey, I know I don’t have the best track record or anything, but you need to trust me a little bit. I’ve been in the city a couple weeks now and I haven’t even shot a single person. You said you don’t want me to kill anyone, so I won’t kill anyone. Besides, I am one of the best shots in the world, I can shoot people and not kill them, and yeah, I am going to shoot anybody before they shoot you.”

You said ‘you’. As in Spider-Man.

“I mean me. If someone has a gun on ME, I shoot them.”

Smooth. There’s no way he saw through THAT.

Spider-Man was quiet again. Deadpool wondered if he had said too much.

Of course you said too much. Merc with the Mouth, right?
It is your thing, talking too much.

“Are you mad at me?” Deadpool asked pitifully.

Spider-Man didn’t answer and Deadpool thought that perhaps he hadn’t spoken out loud after all. He had a tendency to lose track of inside and outside voices after being all exploded dead and all.

“I—I don’t work for S.H.I.E.L.D.” Spider-Man said hesitantly after another long moment. “But I don’t want them as an enemy…” he trailed off.

“So no gun stand-offs with S.H.I.E.L.D.?” Deadpool hazard a guess. “I got it. But they don’t like you either. Why do you care what they think?”

You’re a fine one to talk. You care an awful lot about what others think of you for someone who claims otherwise.

“D—don’t laugh, okay?” Spider-Man said quietly.

“Huh?”

“I sort of wish that maybe even if I don’t want to reveal my secret identity, if I can show how good a hero I can be, that they might ask me to join the Avengers,” Spider-Man admitted.

That…that is so adorable!
Too bad he doesn’t stand a chance with us being around him.

“My being around you ruins that idea, doesn’t it?”

“You saved my life tonight,” Spider-Man said quietly. “You’re more of a hero than you realize.”

He does like us!
Take him in your arms already!

“OUCH!” Spider-Man yelped with pain. “No hugging! Careful of my back...Or I’ll web your hands together!”

Kinky.

“Ooh, Spidey, ya promise?”

“Deadpool! You might have died to save me but that doesn’t give you the right to add a groping clause to our agreement!”

Deadpool hung compliantly for a moment before he couldn’t help himself. Well, if he couldn’t grope...

I just died in your arms tonight…” Deadpool sang out, “Must have been something you said! I just died in your arms tonight…

Spider-Man snorted a laugh. “Don’t...I can’t laugh and swing at the same time…”

Must have been some kind of kiss…” his voice trailed off as the words echoed back at him off the buildings surrounding them.

Spider-Man was silent in reply.

I should’ve walked awaaaay! I should’ve walked away…

Chapter Text

Spider-Man continued to swing through the city by sheer force of will. This night felt like it had been a month. His head throbbed, his back burned, and every breath brought in a fresh stab of agony to his cracked ribs. Then there was also the fact that he was carrying a half-naked man over his shoulder.

Right. He was rather intimately holding a half-naked Deadpool. Yeah, he was NOT going to think about that anymore.

Spider-Man focused on finding his way through the city. He ignored the pain as he ignored the conversation Deadpool seemed to be having with himself. Spider-Man interrupted the constant flow of chatter only to ask directions on how to get to the place Deadpool was staying.

He thought there had to have been some mistake as their route led them right into the warehouse district. “Is this right?”

He could feel Deadpool shift to look over his shoulder. “Yeah, that’s my place, third from the end on the left.”

“You live in a warehouse?” Spider-Man asked even as he made his way towards it.

“I’m not exactly the neighborly sort,” Deadpool explained. “With my lifestyle, sooner or later someone comes and makes a scene and it usually involves explosives and that can be pretty inconvenient for everyone else around me.”

“That’s...really considerate actually,” Spider-Man admitted. He marveled, “You really are trying to turn over a new leaf.”

“Falling in love with me all over again, baby-boy?” Deadpool chuckled.

“Never fell in love with you in the first place, and still haven’t now,” Spider-Man retorted. After a moment he begrudged, “But I have been misjudging you. I’m sorry.”

 

***************************

He apologized and before he thanked us for saving him. Has anyone else ever done that?
‘Nobody.’
Everybody thinks we’re an annoying menace.
Well, we are.
‘Hey, I’m trying! That’s why we’re here, to learn how to be a hero!’
Spider-Man actually acknowledges when we do something good.
This is why we like him so much.
“That and his fine ass.”

Spider-Man faltered again. “Do you want me to drop you?!” he exploded.

He’s so easy to tease.
Are we just teasing?
“Not really.”
Yeah, we totally want to fuck him.
It is a nice ass. And he shows it off so well in the skin-tight spandex.
“Hands off, box, he’s mine.”

 

***************************

Spider-Man rolled his eyes and landed abruptly in front of the door to Deadpool’s warehouse. Cautiously, he opened the door and walked into the darkened building. There was a light switch immediately to the left. Spider-Man flicked it and was blinded from the sudden glare. After a few moments, his eyes adjusted and he looked around. In some ways, it appeared like any other warehouse, filled with a great number of crates. Except that here and there he could see open crates, filled with guns, ammo, explosives, and other tools of death and destructive mayhem.

Spider-Man raised his eyebrows. “Yeah. This is your warehouse alright.” After taking another moment to take in the excessive collection of weaponry, Spider-Man looked around for Deadpool’s living quarters. When he couldn’t see any, he asked, “Where’s your room?”

“The office door is over there,” Deadpool answered.

Spider-Man looked around but didn’t see any doors. “Where?”

“There.”

Spider-Man sighed. “Deadpool, I can’t see where you’re pointing when you’re over my shoulder like this.”

Deadpool squirmed, turning around.

Spider-Man struggled to keep balanced. “No, wait, don’t move. I can’t…”

Unable to keep holding on, Spider-Man dropped Deadpool heavily to the floor. His balance gone, Spider-Man slumped on top of Deadpool, in the reverse of the position they had been in twice already that evening. The pain to his ribs caused him to inhale with a sharp hiss, and his eyes shut tightly. It took a long moment before he could move. He pushed himself back so he was sitting on his knees. It took longer before he could force himself to stand up again. He kept a hand on a nearby crate to steady himself.

Belatedly, Spider-Man realized that Deadpool had been uncharacteristically quiet and looked over to see if he had also been hurt from the fall. Deadpool lay on his back, slightly propped up on his elbows, his head tilted slightly to the side, and he was silently watching Spider-Man.

“A-are you alright?” Spider-Man wheezed out in question.

Deadpool didn’t respond immediately, but then he chirped out overly cheerfully, “Well Spidey, this is twice in one night—I’m really making you fall for me.” His wide grin was apparent through the shreds of his mask.

“Right,” Spider-Man sighed. He felt like a fool for worrying about the mercenary. “Since I can actually see where you’re pointing now, where’s your living area?”

Deadpool pointed to a doorway on the far side of the warehouse, half hidden from view by the crates.

“Come on,” Spider-Man said.

Deadpool held out his arms like he was asking for a hug and insisted in a childish tone, “Princess-style!”

Spider-Man shook his head and answered firmly, “Not a chance.”

“You said you would carry me princess-style if my back wasn’t burned up and I’m healed over enough so you can carry me princess-style now,” Deadpool insisted.

“In your head I said that. My actual words were something along the lines of 'no way in hell',” Spider-Man retorted then hauled Deadpool over his shoulder again. Deadpool gave a squeak of alarm and squirmed.

Fearing that he was aggravating Deapdool’s injuries, Spider-Man hurried to change how he was holding him. To keep them from falling again as Deadpool repositioned himself, Spider-Man placed a steadying hand back on the nearest crate. At last Deadpool stopped squirming. Spider-Man did not find the position comfortable—Deadpool was keeping himself strangely distant on his shoulder—but he only to carry Deadpool a little longer, so Spider-Man figured he could manage. He walked as quickly as he could across the warehouse.

Opening the office door, Spider-Man turned on the overhead light and looked around. The snug office had been made over into a living space of sorts. The wall next to the door was dominated by a large flatscreen TV with both an X-box and PlayStation hooked up, the controller cords tangled, and a few game boxes and DVDs scattered around the systems. There was a large easychair in the middle of the room facing the TV. In one corner stood a small refrigerator unit, sink, and a plastic table with a hotplate and a microwave. Food wrappers and takeout boxes overfilled a too small garbage can under the table. There was a bookshelf with stacks of comic books. A wardrobe filled with the distinctive red and black spandex costume stood in another corner, and beside it a small bureau with a few drawers partially opened from being overfilled with regular clothing. Nearby, a sewing machine was dangerously perched on top of a box of fabric.

“Huh, so you make your own costume,” Spider-Man noted.

“Of course I do. I go through them fast enough that I found it easier to make my own. Don’t you?”

“Well, yeah,” Spider-Man said. He grew up helping Aunt May sew—it saved money making their own clothes. “I just didn’t think you would.” Another new thing he learned about Deadpool that evening. Spider-Man hadn’t thought there was much depth to the wise-cracking mercenary, but he kept getting blind-sided with these new facets.

“I am also a pretty good designer. Made my own prom dress.”

Spider-Man nodded along before he fully got what Deadpool had just said. “Wait, what?”

“I’ll show you my collection sometime, we can trade tips.”

Spider-Man decided Deadpool was pulling his leg and as his legs were tired enough without someone pulling them, it was past time to set Deadpool down. After further inspection, Spider-Man realized there wasn’t a bed in the room. He asked, “Where do you sleep?”

From behind him, Deadpool answered, “I doze off on the chair sometimes. I don’t really sleep all that much anymore.”

‘That probably doesn’t help with the whole insanity thing,’ Spider-Man thought but managed not to say out loud.

He placed Deadpool down onto the chair. Immediately Deadpool curled up into a ball. Spider-Man let him be and went over to the fridge looking for some water or juice. There were a few cans of fizzy pop and Ramune, a few mystery leftover boxes, and a bottle of extra hot, hot sauce.

“I’ll go out and get you some food and drink,” Spider-Man wearily let out, exhausted but resigned.

“Nah, don’t bother. I’ll be healed up by tomorrow,” Deadpool said, still curled up on the chair. He didn’t look over at Spider-Man. “You should head out and recover yourself. From the way you were breathing, you probably have a cracked rib or something, and you don’t have a Healing Factor.”

The mention of it brought his pain and exhaustion crashing back down on Spider-Man. Necessity had kept him going so far, and sheer force of will would keep him going a bit longer. Deadpool had died for him and Spider-Man was determined to make sure he was taken care of before he worried about his own extensive injuries. “But you died…”

“I die a lot. I get better. Go home, baby-boy,” Deadpool waved him off, still without turning around to look at Spider-Man. “See you in a few days and we can do this all over again. Hopefully without the dying part. That part sucks.”

Soundly dismissed, Spider-Man left, completely forgetting that he had meant to send Deadpool away earlier that evening, and refusing to think about why he felt disappointed with the abrupt dismissal.

 

***************************

He offered to go out to buy us food when he’s barely able to stand up.
That boy is going to kill himself with all that self-sacrificing nobility of his.
“He’s falling over half dead himself and he’s asking how I am.”
So you say something stupid instead of being honest about how much you care about him.
“It’s better if he just sees me as a joke.”
We ARE a joke. You got aroused by his slight touch on your ass when he went to pick you up. That's pathetic.
“What, I haven’t had someone touch my ass in a long while! And self-sacrificing nobility is such a turn-on!”
But why hide it? Why not flaunt it?
Because he knows Spider-Man would be disgusted and he doesn’t want to face the inevitable rejection.
“Shut up and let me enjoy my delusions. While the feel of his touch is still fresh in my mind, I want to go all Pool-o-Vision and imagine him pinning me down and having his way with me.”

Having shut the boxes up as much as he ever could, Deadpool leaned back, closed his eyes, took himself in hand, and let his mind sink into an erotic fantasy.

Chapter Text

“Besides the considerable number of abrasions down your back, you have a grade-1 ankle ligament sprain in the right foot and fractures in your left seventh and eighth ribs.”

“No, I didn’t get the number of that truck, doc. Wanna explain in language a concussed Spider can understand?”

The doctor sighed in exasperation but complied, “You have road burn down your back, sprained your ankle, and you cracked a few ribs.”

"I could have told you that," Spider-Man snorted derisively.

He sat on the edge of the reclining examination bed, his shirt, gauntlets, and boots off with his pants rolled up to his knees. The doctor sat in front of him on a swivel stool, and even with the late hour, she looked impeccable. Her scrubs were neat and tidy and her dark hair was pulled back in a tight bun.

She ignored Spider-Man’s comment. “By your own words, you have a concussion: you experienced a large blow to your head, followed by a blackout and a brief loss of memory, and since then you have felt dizzy and have had a persistent headache. Any one of those symptoms should have you in the emergency room for further testing. I’ve examined you as best I can without the removal of your mask--”

“Removing the mask isn’t an option,” Spider-Man cut in.

“So that is my best guess,” the doctor continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted. “Since I do not have an X-ray or MRI machine in my clinic, I cannot give you a definite prognosis…”

“You can leave off the lawyer disclaimer, Moesha. I’m in no position to be suing you for malpractice.”

“That’s Doctor Jones,” Moesha Jones said firmly. “You’re not paying me a social call; you don’t get to call me by my first name.”

He grinned. “But whenever I call you Dr. Jones, I feel like I’m in an Indiana Jones movie. ‘Doctor Jones, you must realize that this is all strictly confidential…’”

Moesha snorted. “I’m a 5-foot-3 Black woman from Georgia. I think I’m about as far from Harrison Ford as you can get.”

Spider-Man started to chuckle, but the sound turned into a pained moan. “Ouch. Right, can’t laugh until the ribs heal up a bit.”

Wincing in sympathy, Moesha apologized, “I’m not much of a comedian at the best of times, but apparently I’m a riot when someone can’t laugh. I’m like the stand-offish cat who suddenly loves people when they are allergic.”

Spider-Man strangled another aborted laugh.

“I know, I’m sorry. I can’t help it—you bring out the worst in me, ever since we met.”

“Had I known it would be like this, I might not have saved you after all,” Spider-Man mock-grumbled.

“Pah. Who else would reopen her clinic in the middle of the night to treat all your bumps and scrapes? Face it, Spider-Man, you’re stuck with me and my bad jokes when you can’t laugh. And when I say stuck, I mean it. You are staying here overnight so I can continue to monitor you. That’s an order.”

“Yes ma’am!” Spider-Man saluted, and then collapsed in, clutching his ribs with his other hand. “Oww…”

“Before you can rest, however, we need to clean out those wounds,” Moesha said over Spider-Man’s moaning. “I’ve got a therapy tub ready in the other room. Follow me.”

Moesha stood up and eased Spider-Man off the examination table. She supported him as she led him out of the room and across the hallway. On the far side of the second room was a soaking tub. It wasn’t a Jacuzzi or hot tub; it was similar to a regular bathtub, only deeper and with large handles on the sides.

“I want you to soak in it for a while, to get some of that dirt and grit out. I would suggest you take your mask off,” Moesha informed him. Before Spider-Man could protest, she cut him off and continued, “But I know you aren’t going to. I’ll be across the way, getting some work done. I’ll knock on the door every few minutes and if you don’t respond I am going to come in to make certain you aren’t drowning in the tub. When you get out, I will finish cleaning your back, wrap your ankle and ribs, and send you to sleep here. Is that understood?”

Spider-Man nodded impatiently. “I got it.”

When Spider-Man agreed, Moesha pulled the curtain across the door to give him some privacy. He waited a few moments until he heard her make her way to her office down the hall. He turned towards the bath and watched as the steam wafted over the water. It looked incredibly inviting and terrifying at the same time.

His shirt and boots had already been abandoned in the examination room across the hall, so he was only in his mask and pants. The mask he would leave on, but the pants needed to come off. He walked over to a chair and peeled his pants down his thighs. Not trusting his balance, he sat carefully down on the chair to pull his pants fully off. He groaned with pain as he bent forward to tug the clingy material from his legs. At the moment, he deeply regretted his choice of fabrics for his costume.

“I’m a normal, healthy, young guy,” Spider-Man muttered to himself, ignoring the fact that he was neither ‘normal’ nor at the moment particularly ‘healthy’. “It shouldn’t take this much effort for someone to get into my pants. Right, that’s my problem. I need to get outta them, not into them.”

With a final, careful tug over his injured ankle, Spider-Man yanked his pants free. He stood up, balanced unsteadily on his good leg, with his pants balled up in his hand.

“Alright in there?” Moesha asked from the doorway.

He jumped, startled. He hadn’t heard her approach. He brought his pants towards his crotch to cover up before he realized there was still a curtain between them.

“Yeah,” Spider-Man replied, embarrassed from his unnecessary scramble. “I’m fine. Just about to climb into the tub now.”

“Give a shout out if you need help,” Moesha said and walked away again.

Spider-Man tossed his balled up pants onto the chair behind him. He sat on the edge of the tub and lifted his injured leg over the rim. He gingerly lowered it into the water. The bath water was pleasantly hot and eased the ache in his ankle. He turned and brought over his other leg. So far so good.

He grasped the handles on the side of the tub and shifted his position so he was holding himself above the water. With his teeth gritted, he eased himself down.

Spider-Man couldn’t stop the cry that tore from his lips.

He could feel the hot water on every bit of broken skin, even the parts caked with dirt. It wasn’t a throbbing pain, but a stinging sort of hurt, all down his back. A burning, stinging pain.

He heard Moesha running through the hallway towards him and called out, “I’M OK!”

“Are you sure?!”

“Yes…ah! Just…hot water…on road burn,” he said with difficulty. “I’ll be fine…”

“If you’re sure,” she said, her tone anything but sure. There was a hesitation to her steps as she went back to her office.

By this point, the worst of the stinging was already fading. The heat and moisture dulled the burning so that, rather than the sharp burn, it was now a constant, full-body ache.

True to her word, Moesha came around every few minutes to check in on him. Mostly she simply asked how he was doing or if he was alright in there. The final time she asked she changed it up and asked, “Are you dead yet?”

“I’m not quite dead yet,” Spider-Man replied in an atrociously bad English accent.

“You will be dead if you quote any more of that movie,” Moesha chided through the curtain. “And isn’t that show way before your time?”

Spider-Man shook his head though she couldn’t see the motion. “The classics never go out of style.”

She sniffed disdainfully. “Only if you don’t have any style to begin with.”

“Right in the feels, Doc,” Spider-Man exclaimed. “You wound me!”

“No, you came in like that,” she shot back.

Spider-Man snorted with a half-laugh. “Damn, you are being snappy with your comebacks tonight, Moesha.”

“That’s DOCTOR Jones,” she insisted.

Spider-Man sighed over-dramatically. “What happened to that ‘call me Moesha’ when we first met?”

That was when you were saving my life and you kept calling me ‘lady’. Now you are a patient, currently naked in the bath, probably younger than my son, and I still need to finish cleaning your back.”

Spider-Man chuckled. “Alright, ‘Doc’ it is.”

“Good. Now if we’ve finished the comedy portion of our evening, I still need to treat you,” Moesha reminded. “There are several towels in the nook beside you. You can take one and place it over you for modesty.”

Ignoring the fact that a little while ago he jumped in his rush to cover himself up, Spider-Man quipped, “Doc, I wear skin-tight spandex. What modesty?”

“OK, then for the sake of MY modesty, you can cover yourself. You’ve got your mask on?”

“Hold on.” Spider-Man reached a dripping arm over and grabbed the towel on top of the stack. It took a few tries to wrap the water logged fabric around his hips, but once he got the air out from under it, it clung around his body and vaguely covered him at least as well as his costume did. “Ok, mask is on, and towel is around me.”

Moesha pushed the curtain aside and crossed the room. She then directed Spider-Man around so she could reach his back. She stopped apologizing after the fifth time he complained she was hurting him when she realized he was just messing with her. All in all, she was firm but gentle as she finished cleaning his wounds, and despite his teasing, Spider-Man appreciated her care.

When she was satisfied that his wounds were clean, she ordered, “Dry off, wrap yourself up in one of the towels, and then come back over to the examination room where I can bind up your ribs and ankle.”

Having said this, Moesha stood up and made her way towards the door, drawing the curtain closed behind her. Spider-Man could hear her moving in the other room as he pulled the drain in the tub. He felt the heavy pull on his body as the water poured down the drain. When only a few inches of water remained in the tub, Spider-Man gingerly lifted himself up. He dropped the soaking wet towel at the bottom of the tub and grabbed a dry one. He winced as the muscles that had relaxed during the bath seized back up with his efforts to dry off his body.

When he was as dried off as he could be, he wrapped the towel around his waist, grabbed his Spider-Man pants, and headed across the hall. Moesha had her back towards him when he entered the examination room. She stood at the counter, gathering a collection of gauze and medical tape. The examination bed had been lowered flat and at some point she had made it up with white sheets, blankets, and some pillows. Spider-Man sat at the edge and readjusted the towel around him. “Alright, Doc, I’m ready.”

Moesha placed several large squares of non-stick gauze along the road-burn on his back. Spider-Man raised his arms over his head while Moesha wrapped his torso. When that was done, she wrapped his throbbing ankle with an ace bandage. His ribs ached in protest. His ankle, however, felt better for being wrapped.

Having bandaged him up, Moesha then handed him a paper Dixie cup of water and two giant horse pills. “This will help ease the pain and put you to sleep. Not that I think you need much help sleeping tonight,” she noted as Spider-Man yawned loudly. He popped the pills into his mouth and gulped down the water. He tossed the cup across the room at the garbage can but missed. Damn, Deadpool would have made that shot. While Moesha picked up the cup, Spider-Man gently leaned back onto the bed.

Moesha carefully tucked the blankets around him. “You can sleep in as much as you want tomorrow—seriously, no rushing off at dawn, OK?” Spider-Man murmured a vaguely affirmative response. Moesha moved over to the door and shut off the lights. “Good night, Spider-Man.” She closed the door firmly behind her. Spider-Man was asleep moments later.

*****************************

We should order some food. Spider-Man did have a point—we’re going to be very hungry as we heal.
We can’t exactly have a delivery guy here when we’re like this. They don’t actually join in like the movies say. Are you done yet?

Deadpool imagined Spider-Man delivering food, wearing nothing but his mask and a frilly white lace-covered apron that was positively indecent. It didn’t quite shield his front and left that fabulously pert butt completely exposed. Deadpool grinned lasciviously. “Nope, not done yet.”

Chapter Text

“I promise, Aunt May, I’m fine. Really. Just a sprained ankle and I’m a bit banged up. Nothing serious. You don’t need to be calling long distance for this. No, don’t cut your trip short. Considering how long it took to save up for this trip, you should enjoy it. You haven’t gotten to Florence yet and if I can’t visit Italy myself then I want to at least live vicariously through you. Really, I’m fine. Yes, I was being stupid—I had my hands full with the laundry basket and tripped over something and fell down the stairs. Yes, I know I should do laundry more often so the basket doesn’t get too overfilled.”

Peter shifted how he was sitting on the couch and the movement sent a stab of pain through his ribs; an involuntary hiss of pain escaped his lips.

“I did see a doctor already, Aunt May. Honest. I have some pain meds, an ace bandage, and an ice pack. There isn’t much else to do but to rest. I’ve got a long weekend to stay off my feet. Yes, I am taking it easy. I promise. I’ve got the entire series of Breaking Bad on Netflix to catch up on in time for the final season; I’m not moving off the couch this weekend at all. I love you too, Aunt May. Have fun in Florence and I’ll see you when you get back.”

Peter hung up the phone and slumped back into his couch.

“Note to self,” Peter pronounced. “Do not post your Facebook status as ‘a bit banged up’ and not expect to have your aunt immediately call and check in with you. Regardless of the fact that she is across the ocean and should be too busy with her vacation, she’s online more often than I am, and she will see such a message.”

He sighed as deeply as he could with cracked ribs, which turned out to not be very deep. Well, phone call to Aunt May done, it was time to start in on Breaking Bad. He searched around him for the TV remote, but didn’t find it. He wasn’t certain how it could go missing when his apartment wasn’t that big, but it wasn’t in his immediate line of sight.

From his spot on the couch, he looked around. His apartment was a small square, with the main room in the shape of an “L” around an enclosed area that contained a bathroom and closet. The main entrance led into the small kitchenette, which had a fridge, sink, stove, and a few cabinets. He separated the kitchen area from the living space with his couch, which faced the window and his TV. There was a low coffee table in front of the couch, and a narrow end table beside it pushed up against the wall. He had a large bookshelf filled with books, comic books, DVDs, games, and mementos. There was also a small desk where he kept his computer, microscope, and other such tools. His bed area was portioned off from the living space with a curtain. His queen-sized bed filled up most of the curtained-off area, so he had it raised up a few feet so he could use the area under it for storage.

The place was cramped, but it was free of bugs and cheap--the main requirements he had for a place to live. It didn’t matter that he lived on the top floor, the seventh, of a building without a reliably working elevator, or that his view out his window was the brick wall of an even taller neighboring apartment building across a narrow alleyway. Actually, now that he thought about it, those were benefits to climbing in through the window unnoticed as Spider-Man.

But none of that had anything to do with Breaking Bad and television remotes. He had looked for his remote as best he could from his place on the couch with no luck. Peter sighed. It was too much effort to get up. He closed his eyes, intending to look again after a moment of rest.

**************

As he began to wake up Peter noticed that there was someone sitting on the other side of the couch.

What was Deadpool doing here? Right, Peter had promised him a kiss, and he couldn’t wait. He should have expected Deadpool to come looking for him. Wait, what? This was his place as Peter--not Spider-Man. How could Deadpool be here? So not Deadpool then. Who?

“’Arry?” Peter croaked out in question.

“Yeah Pete?” the person at the end of his couch responded.

“That you?”

“That’s what my license says.”

Harry, yeah, that made a lot more sense. “What’re you doin’ ‘ere?”

“I came over to see how you were doing.”

Peter was pretty sure he hadn’t called him. “How…?”

“Aunt May called.”

“Oh.” Yeah, that was definitely something his aunt would do. If she couldn’t check on him in person herself, she’d call in reinforcements. As he woke up more fully, Peter sat up. He had his beat-up couch blanket covering him and his TV remote and a water bottle were on the end table next to him. Harry was sitting on the far side of the couch with a book in hand. “How long have you been here?” Peter asked him.

Harry answered without looking up, “A few hours. You’ve been pretty out of it.”

Peter nodded. “Yeah, the pain meds really knock me out. Doc thought I could use more sleep, I guess.”

“I agree with your doctor. You don’t sleep enough as is.”

“Yeah, well. I’m sleeping now. Well, not now now, but you know what I mean.” Peter grabbed the remote and flicked the TV on.

Harry put a bookmark into his book, closed it, and set it on the coffee table. “You must be hungry.”

“Not really,” Peter answered honestly.

Harry disregarded Peter’s answer as he stood up and moved behind the couch towards the kitchenette. “You need to eat anyway,” Harry pointed out.

“Yeah, probably,” Peter agreed, though he knew there wasn’t much of anything to eat in the house.

Harry opened the fridge and rummaged around for something. “I ordered some take-out.”

Of course Harry did. He was rich; he didn’t go hungry and he could afford to have food brought in. Peter should have known. “What did you get?”

“I had some sushi delivered.” Harry brought back a tray and held it out for Peter.

“Sushi?” Peter asked with amazement. Boy did he ever want some! Sushi was one of Peter’s favorite things, and Harry knew it. Peter took the tray from Harry.

Damn, and this was the real stuff, Peter noticed, not the cheap-ass stuff the local Asian mix restaurants served up. This was quality stuff, from a restaurant that didn’t normally do take-out, let alone delivery. On one hand, Peter was touched that Harry was trying to do something nice for him, but on the other hand, this was just another reminder of how far apart their lives were.

Ok, so he was moping about how poor he was, but he wasn’t going to refuse it on principle or anything. There was some seriously amazing sushi that needed to be in his mouth.

He and Harry watched some Netflix, ate sushi, and chatted about not much of anything. When they were done eating, Harry cleaned up, refusing Peter’s attempts to help. At his own home, Harry had maids who took care of all the cleanup, but he had learned how to do things at the Parker house because Aunt May insisted that both boys helped out. Peter hovered uselessly beside Harry until he was pushed back towards the couch.

“I’ve got this,” Harry insisted. “Go. Sit. Watch your show. Take another of your pain meds because watching your pained expressions as you walk is making me feel sore.”

Peter swallowed another pain pill and settled back onto the couch. He was out before the episode was half over.

************

Peter half woke when he heard someone say his name.

“Peter’s spent pretty much the entire day sleeping,” Harry softly answered a question Peter hadn’t caught.

“Good,” a woman responded. Her voice was familiar, but in his half-asleep mind Peter couldn’t quite place it. “So it wasn’t just his ankle, was it?” she continued.

“Not based on the pain meds he’s on,” Harry answered.

“Damn. So Aunt May was right and he was downplaying how hurt he is.”

“It’s Aunt May. Of course she’s right.”

“Well, a sleeping Peter is still more company than I’ve had all week. Evan’s been out on tour and the house is dreadfully empty whenever he’s away.” Peter was finally able to place the voice—Krissi. Like Harry showing up earlier, Peter should have known Krissi wouldn’t be far behind. The two were his best friends.

“He’s having nightmares again,” Harry told her. The announcement caught Peter by surprise. He hadn’t realized he was having nightmares. He hadn’t woken up screaming at any rate, not like previous occasions. He didn’t even recall having any dreams recently.

Harry’s declaration seemed to catch Krissi by surprise as well. “Nightmares?” she asked.

“Yes. Like when his uncle died. He shakes and occasionally will cry out in fear. He calms down and goes back into a restful sleep when I touch his arm or something, but he’s had several of them throughout the day.”

“I’ll keep a close eye on him then,” she promised. “Anything else?”

“Next time he need his pain meds, have him eat something with it,” Harry advised.

“Does he even have anything to eat here?” Krissi sounded amused. “Besides his four basic food groups: ramen, cup noodles, dried beans, and rice?”

Harry chuckled quietly. “He does now.”

Peter felt a twinge of resentment at his friends mocking of his lack of food. They both had well-paying jobs, and Harry came from money even if he didn’t work a day in his life. Peter couldn’t help it if he was poor, and he did as best he could with what he had.

It took a moment to realize that Harry was still speaking. “I had some groceries delivered and restocked his fridge, so there’s at least something to eat here.”

“That’s very generous.”

It was generous. Damnit, now Peter felt guilty for feeling annoyed. Being poor while having well-off friends was the epitome of awkward, Peter decided.

“Yes, well,” Harry hemmed. “I have to look out for him since he doesn’t seem to look after himself. I couldn’t look Aunt May in the eye if I didn’t.”

“I know what you mean. There is nothing worse than disappointing Aunt May,” Krissi agreed.

“Yes, particularly since disappointing Aunt May, unlike disappointing my father, is so rare. Speaking of which, I really need to head out now if I don’t want to be late and disappoint my father yet again.”

“Yeah, sorry I wasn’t able get here sooner but I couldn’t get out of work. There was a big deal that just went down the other day and the whole regional office has been swamped with the fall out. Good luck tonight, Harry. Give my regards to your father.”

Peter heard the door open and shut. A few moments later, Krissi peeked her head over the back of the couch.

When she saw he was awake, at least somewhat, she said, “Hey you.”

“Hey,” Peter responded.

“How’re you holding up?”

Peter shrugged. “Been better.”

“I’m sure.” She leaned over the back of the couch. “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable on your bed?”

“I can’t watch the TV from my bed.”

Krissi arched an eyebrow at him. “And how much TV have you actually watched today?”

“Don’t make me think logically when I’m half asleep,” Peter grumbled.

“Uh huh. Why don’t we move you over to your bed now?” She walked around and helped pull Peter up. He leaned against her as she guided him over to his bed. His ribs ached with the movement, but he was able to settle down on his bed in an almost comfortable position.

Krissi made certain he was settled, and then sat herself down on the couch, leaving the curtain between the bedroom and living room a little open. She pulled out her crochet needle and resumed work on one of her endless ongoing projects.

It was nice, Peter thought, having friends to take care of him. He wondered if Deadpool had anyone to help him. Peter should go check up on him. Maybe tomorrow, he’d stop by, make sure Deadpool’s legs were growing back, and get some food for him. Just check in on him. Well, not as Peter, but as Spider-Man.

“Wade, I’ll kiss you, I promise, just please don’t be dead.”

“What’bout my kiss?”

Except Peter wasn’t well enough to go out as Spider-Man, because he would have to help if he saw any trouble and he could barely stand as it was without fighting crime, and he couldn’t go as Peter…and Deadpool did say he was fine. And it would be weird if he just showed up…

****************

Peter woke with a start.

Krissi was sitting on the edge of his bed facing him. Her left hand was holding his and her right was gently pressing on his shoulder.

“He’s dead!” Peter sobbed in a panic. “He’s dead and it’s all my fault!”

“No, he’s not dead,” Krissi said soothingly. “You saved him.”

Through broken sobs he stuttered, “I--I didn’t…He…I would have been dead…but he was the one…He saved me…and he died…”

“He isn’t dead. Do you remember? He didn’t die.”

“He didn’t?” Peter asked uncertainly, hardly daring to hope.

“He can’t die,” she assured him.

That was right. He couldn’t. He wasn’t dead. Relief washed over Peter. He closed his eyes and fell back into a dreamless sleep.

*********************

It was dark when he woke again, and the city outside his window was quiet. A faint glow from the television could be seen through the curtain. He crawled out of bed, pushed the curtain aside, and stood beside the couch.

Krissi was sitting on the couch, her crochet project abandoned on the coffee table. She was watching the television with the volume down so low it could barely be heard. She looked up at him and then repositioned herself so there would be room for him to sit down beside her. He eased himself down as she turned the TV volume up a little.

She was watching NCIS, a show he had never gotten into, but she was a huge fan. She provided a constant commentary as they watched, informing him of character pasts, relations, and fanon trivia. Peter found himself sucked into the murder mystery, enjoying it more than he thought he would. Still, he found himself continually glancing over at Krissi.

Had it been a dream? Before, when Krissi comforted him from his nightmare…did that really happen or was it just a dream? He barely remembered, he had fallen back to sleep so quickly. If it had been real…she responded as if she knew he was talking about Deadpool. But she couldn’t know about that, unless she knew that Peter was Spider-Man. But she didn’t know, did she? She never gave any indication that she knew. Maybe it had just been a dream.

His musing was interrupted as Krissi got up at a commercial break. She puttered into the kitchen and then she came back to the couch. Peter looked up at her in surprise as she handed him a small bowl and spoon. The bowl was filled with mixed fruit.

“You were making pained faces,” Krissi explained as she sat back down on the couch with her own bowl of fruit. “I figured you needed another round of meds and the warning label says you should take with food.”

“Ah, thanks,” Peter said. He looked down at the bowl. The fruit was fresh, not from a can. He wasn’t sure his fridge had ever seen fresh fruit before. Harry had certainly been thorough. He still wasn’t feeling very hungry, but he ate some and took his pain meds.

“Is the medication not working?” she asked, half an episode later.

“Huh?” Peter was startled out of his thoughts.

“You’re still looking a bit pained,” she explained.

“Oh.” He shook his head. “No, it’s not that. I’m just thinking, s’all.”

“About what?” she pressed.

Peter thought about what to say and how to say it. After a long moment, he muttered, “I think I had a dream within a dream.”

Krissi nodded. “I have dreams like that all the time. What was yours about?”

He watched her intently out of the corner of his eye as he said, “Well, I dreamt that I had a nightmare, but you were there to reassure me.”

She smiled fondly. “Well that certainly is something I would do. My dreams within dreams tend to be a bit more fantastical, and a lot more involved.”

She related her latest lucid dream, but Peter zoned out, lost in his own considerations. She had no reaction to the mention of calming him after a nightmare. So it had been just a dream. Well, that was a relief. Peter turned his attention back to the TV, feeling relaxed. He hadn’t realized he was dozing off until Krissi nudged him.

“Time for bed again,” she ordered as she turned the television off.

He didn’t complain, but let her lead him back to his bed. Still, after climbing under the blankets, he felt a knot of anxiety in the pit of his stomach. He didn’t want another dream like that. He grabbed Krissi’s wrist. “Stay with me?” he asked.

She looked surprised at his touch but then smiled down at him gently. “Sure.”

“I mean, the bed’s big enough for two and it’ll be more comfortable than the couch,” Peter added, feeling self-conscious.

“You’re right,” she said agreeably and climbed into the bed beside him. Peter was on his back, while Krissi curled up on her side, her back to him. Despite the fact that a few minutes ago he had been falling asleep sitting up on the couch, now Peter couldn’t quite turn off his mind. He kept thinking about Deadpool.

“Krissi?” Peter asked quietly.

“Yes Pete?” she answered, her back still to him.

“There’s something I’d like to ask your opinion on.”

She rolled over to face him. “What is it?”

Peter was quiet for a long moment as he tried to figure out what to say.

“You know you can talk to me about anything,” she told him after a long silence. “I will always take care of you.”

Her assurance motivated him to speak, and his words came out in a rush. “Ok, so this guy I know, he did this really big favor for me. And I said I’d kiss him for his help. It was sort of a joke. And he was all like ‘really where’s my kiss’ afterwards, but I’m not sure if he’s serious about it so I don’t know what to do.”

Krissi was quiet for a moment while she considered this. Then she asked, “Well, why do you think he might not be serious?”

“He is always making jokes and play-flirting with me.”

“What do you mean by ‘play-flirting’?”

“Cuz he brings up kissing all the time, and goes on about what a nice ass I have, like the other night he mentioned my ass a half dozen times at least…” Peter trailed off.

“Well, that seems like he might be serious to me,” Krissi noted.

“…Really?” Peter was taken aback with her answer. “But with another guy? You don’t think he’s just fooling around?”

“Again, what makes you think he isn’t serious with any of this?”

Peter answered immediately. “Because this guy is never serious. He’s always making jokes, and he lives to mess with other people.”

“Does he make those sort of jokes with other people? The kissing and nice ass type of ‘jokes’?”

“Yes,” Peter said immediately. Then he paused before admitting, “I think.”

Krissi nodded slightly, then asked, “Do you want to kiss him?”

He looked over at her, furious, and exclaimed, “I’m not gay!”

“I didn’t say you were,” Krissi said in a calm tone. “Kissing, hugging, touching…these can be ways to physically express affection, even between friends.”

That was true…he used to be very huggy and touchy with his friends when he was young, but Harry didn’t really like it. Peter had stopped being physically affectionate for the most part, other than with Aunt May and Krissi, who hugged all of her friends regularly.

He suspected that the kiss Deadpool wanted as a reward wasn’t some chaste kiss on the cheek, but still, it was still just a kiss and it wasn’t like he hadn’t kissed Deadpool before and that hadn’t been bad. A bit embarrassing, maybe, but not terrible, and maybe if Peter was being honest with himself he’d say it had actually been really amazing, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to repeat it. It didn’t mean anything. And Deadpool had gotten very injured saving his life…

Krissi continued, breaking into his mental debate, “If you don’t want to kiss him you don’t have to kiss him, even if you said you would. No matter what someone does for you, you don’t owe them a kiss. Not even if they buy you dinner or rescue you from Bowser’s castle.”

Peter considered this. “It’s not that,” he concluded. “I’m not opposed to kissing him, because it’s just a kiss right? And he really went out of his way to sa—help me and I said I’d kiss him as a reward and he said yes. No big deal. Except, if he was just joking about it and I took him for real then…” Peter trailed off again.

“Oh Petey,” she sighed with bemused affection. “You’re just afraid of making a fool of yourself, aren’t you? You’re not going to. Trust me. When a guy talks about your ass a half dozen times in one evening, he’s not just joking—he’s hitting on you. And when you said you’d kiss him as a reward, he said he wanted that, right? It seems to me that he’s being very clear about this.”

Peter shrugged and said uncertainly, “Maybe.”

“Well, why don’t you do something to put the ball in his court?” she suggested. “Something like, ‘if you want that kiss, you need to use cherry Chapstick or have some Altoids. That way there, if he does that, you know for certain that he actually wants you to kiss him, and if he doesn’t, then he wasn’t being serious after all.”

Peter nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

“Of course it is,” Krissi told him. “I came up with it.”

Peter was quiet for a long moment before he spoke again. “Krissi? Can you keep …um, can you keep this just between us? That is, I mean, don’t tell Harry about any of this, please?”

Krissi looked at him with pity in her eyes. “I won’t tell him, Peter.”

Pity? Why did she look at him with pity? He wondered as he fell asleep.

**********************************

“Did you get my message, Weasel?” Deadpool asked.

“I did,” the voice over the phone replied. “Are you for real?”

“Yeah I am. I’m currently hanging out with a guy who can swing through the air and I need to keep up.”

Besides, they look like a lot of fun.

Deadpool continued, “Can you get me one?”

Weasel paused, considering. He said doubtfully, “They’re under some serious government lock and key.”

Wuss.

“Can you find me one?”

“I can find you one,” he affirmed. “But actually getting a hold of it for you is way above my pay grade, ‘Pool.”

Getting it is the fun part anyway.

“That’s fine, just find me one and I can get it myself.”

“Yeah, no problem. I can do that. Give me a few days, I’ll get back to you.”

“Thanks, Weaz.”

Deadpool hung up the phone, set it aside, and looked down at his hands. He folded and unfolded them, unable to keep still. Next time, Spidey wouldn’t have to haul his broken, sorry ass around the city when he could barely stand. Next time, he would be able to take care of Spider-Man.

And it’s going to be a fucking blast being able to fly around.

“Oh hell yeah!” Deadpool grinned.

Chapter Text

We need a job.

“I have a job,” Deadpool said aloud.  He was sprawled across his chair: his left foot was on the floor, his right leg dangled off the arm of the chair, and his right arm was resting across his torso.  In his left hand he held the television remote as he idly flipped through the channels, his attention divided between the television and his thoughts.  “I go out every night patrolling the streets with Spider-Man.”

Not recently, we haven’t.  He’s still recovering.

Or avoiding us.

That hit a nerve.  Deadpool growled, “He’s not avoiding us!”  

He could be avoiding us.

"Why?" Deadpool shot back.

Because you got aroused when he touched you and then spent an entire night jerking off while fantasying about him when you were still missing your legs.

It was really pathetic.

And gross.

"He didn't notice."

If you say so.

"And he's not avoiding us," he said petulantly.  "There haven’t been any Spidey-sightings since the explosion.”

You know this because you had to check.  You worry that he’s avoiding us, too.

“But he isn’t avoiding us, which means that I’m just waiting until he recovers and then we’ll be out every night patrolling the streets which means we’re on medical leave and that means I still have a job.”

He’s got a point.

Fine.  Let me rephrase this.  We need a paying job.

“Why bother?” Deadpool dismissed.  “I got plenty of money.”

No, we don’t.

Deadpool sat up straight, forgetting the television for a moment.  “We don’t?”

Not anymore.  Between buying the warehouse, stocking up on weapons, the gaming systems, and so forth, we've spent most of what we had.  Add to that, we haven't had any income for the last month and all the take-out we order, particularly when we’re recovering, we’re running out of money fast.

Simply put, we don't have enough to pay Weasel's fees as is.

“Alright, alright, I get the point.  I’ll figure something out.”  Later.  When he wasn’t watching television.  He snuggled back down into his chair.

We could take a couple hit jobs.  Quickest, easiest way to bring in some more money.

Deadpool shook his head.  “Yeah, but I’m trying to quit that.  Spidey doesn’t like the whole k-thing.”

"K-thing"?  Really?  You can’t even bring yourself to say the word “kill” right now?

Why are you trying so hard?  No matter what we do, he’s never going to like us anyway.

WE don’t even like us.

Deadpool didn’t respond.  He didn’t like to admit feeling hurt even to himself, but the boxes’ words hit a little too hard and he couldn’t find a joke yet.  He ignored them and focused his entire attention on the television.  After repeatedly clicking through the channels, he paused on one long enough to watch a young Japanese man in a choreographed fight against himself.

“Look out little Japanese guy, your evil alternate universe self is going to beat you!  Aww, now look, he’s trapped, and the evil twin got free.  Heh, he’s still pounding on the screen behind him while they’re all talking.”

You do realize that it’s the same guy?  He’s just using a pre-recording…

Don’t bother, he won’t get it.

“I should try out for this show.  I’m like half their acts combined.  Between my sword skills, my guns, my hand-to-hand fighting, I’m the best danger act."   Deadpool sat up, thumping both feet to the floor as he became increasingly excited.   "And I can do jumps and flips better than their acrobatic acts.  I’m a better comedian than the losers on that show.  I can dance to Beyoncé in heels…”

Actually, that one was the British…

“And hell, I CAN FUCKING REGENERATE.  I’m way more talented.”

You DID try out for that show.

“I did?”

Yes.  Your audition made the judges and the entire audience violently ill.

The studio had to ship in dozens of psychiatrists who specialize in post-traumatic stress counseling.

“That wasn’t just a hallucination?”

No.

“Oh, well, good times.”  Deadpool chuckled and resettled into his chair.  “Can’t we try out again?”

We were banned for life.

“Well, what about the German babe’s other show?  The fashion one?  I make my own costumes and I’ve got that cute little dress…”

You can’t do that one either.

Tim Gunn has a fifty-yard restraining order against you.

Deadpool sighed.  “I can’t help myself when he’s near…he’s such a sexy guy, with his suits, impeccable taste, and posh accent.  And what a vocabulary!  Swoon!  Yeah, I can ‘make it work’ Mr. Gunn.  I can make it work right up your as…”

So yeah, you’re banned from that one too.

Deadpool pouted.  “Is there any show I’m not banned from?”

No, you’re pretty much blacklisted from them all at this point.

They won’t even give us our own movie.

“Damn.  That would have been a great way to earn some easy cash.”

Face it, you need to look at the mercenary lists again.

“But I don’t wanna go off somewhere," he whined.  "I’ve been having fun here, and Spidey hasn’t kicked me out yet so maybe he is warming up to me after all.”

Ignoring the unlikeliness of that...

There could be some local jobs.

And even if there isn't, he’s still recovering from that explosion.  We’ve got plenty of time to do a few jobs.

“How long does it take normal people to heal up from some broken ribs?” Deadpool wondered.  He honestly couldn't remember what it was like for someone without a Healing Factor.

A lot longer than it takes us.

When Weasel gets back to us, we’ll have to go out of town anyway.

“Good point.  I’ll get a big job then.  In the meantime, while waiting for Spidey to get better, there’s probably a few little jobs around the city that aren’t death-related that I can do.  I’ll put out a Craigslist ad: ‘dirty deeds done dirt cheap!’”

Not done “cheap”, we need money.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. ‘Dirty deeds done reasonably priced, but not too dirty because I’m not offing people anymore’.”

Yeah, that’s going to get a lot of business our way.

***************

While it was hard for Deadpool to keep track of time in general, let alone what day of the week it was, he figured it had been nearly three weeks since the explosion.  Tonight, like every night since then, Deadpool went to the usual meetup place at the usual meetup time.  In the past few weeks, even though he waited a few hours, Spider-Man had never shown up.  He hoped that tonight would finally be the night Spidey would be swinging back into action.

When he wasn’t waiting for Spider-Man, Deadpool spent most of his time watching television or playing video games, punctuated by brief moments away from his place for a few odd jobs.  And “odd” was a very apt description, even for him.  There was the job where he broke into someone’s place to steal back her ex’s belongings.  He beat up a couple of high school bullies for another job.  He got to stand around and look menacing for a couple of shady dealings that Spider-Man probably would have broken up and captured the guys if he had been around.  He transported a mysterious case from one side of the city to the other, fighting off a hoard of ninja assassins in an abandoned subway station.  Ok, that one might have been a hallucination.  And lastly he rescued a little girl’s cat from a tree.  He only earned fifty-one cents for that job, but it was still a paying job.

All told, it was pretty pathetic, but he at least had a few good jobs lined up out of the city.  He didn’t want to leave until he could say something to Spider-Man, but he had already delayed his departure a few days more than he should have and he really couldn’t delay any longer.  Tonight was the last chance.

He’s not going to come.

“He’s going to come.” Deadpool paced, unable to keep still while he waited.

It’s already past the meetup time.

“By five minutes.”

He was never late before.

“He wasn’t injured before.  He still could come tonight.”

Face it, it’s over, you screwed up like you always do, and he’s not coming.

“Sometimes, I really don’t like you.”

“And sometimes I’m not sure if you’re talking to me or yourself,” a voice warm with amusement spoke from behind him.

Deadpool whirled around to see a familiar figure clad in a red-and-blue costume softly land on the other side of the alley.

“Spidey!  Is that really you?!” Deadpool delightedly exclaimed.

“Yes it’s me, and no I’m not a hallucination,” Spider-Man said, still sounding amused.

It was his darling!  After long, lonely nights, his hero was back!  He wished he had worn a prettier dress.  Or, y’know any sort of dress.  Something nice to mark the occasion.  As it was, Deadpool was in his usual costume with his usual array of weaponry.  Oh well, it didn’t matter what he was wearing as long as he wore his heart on his sleeve!

With his arms spread wide, Deadpool practically flew towards Spider-Man.  However, before he could embrace the object of his affection, Spider-Man shot web at him, trapping his feet to the asphalt and stopping Deadpool’s forward motion to a dead stop.  Deadpool pin-wheeled his arms in a doomed attempt to stay upright before succumbing to the laws of physics and face-planting to the ground.

“Um, sorry about that,” Spider-Man said, sounding genuinely contrite as he walked over towards him.  “You were coming at me so quickly I just… here, let me help.”

Spider-Man knelt beside him.

“I got it,” Deadpool assured as he pushed himself over so he was sitting.  His feet were solidly trapped in the sticky webbing, but his hands were free.  From previous experience, Deadpool knew it would take a few hours for the webbing to dissolve, but a good blade would be able to cut right through it.  The katana would be a bit much, but he had a few other blades strapped to his body that would work.  Even with the webbing encasing his feet, he thought he would be able to reach his boot knife.

Spider-Man reached towards the webbing at the same time and their hands brushed against each other.  Spider-Man pulled his hand back as if he had touched an open flame.

He’s rather jumpy tonight, isn’t he?

Considering what happened the last time he touched us, he might be afraid to have any contact with us again.

‘He didn’t notice,’ Deadpool thought as he slid his boot knife out of its sheath.

You don’t know that.

He didn’t, but he was pretty sure.  Spider-Man would have said something if he’d noticed.  Still…maybe….

Deadpool glanced over at Spider-Man, who was still hovering beside him.  Spider-Man was looking at him and he didn’t seem disgusted.

“Sorry about that,” Spider-Man apologized again.  “But just… no hugging, alright?”

“That’s cool,” Deadpool responded in what he hoped passed for a ‘whatever’ tone of voice instead of the abject disappointment he felt.  “I get that.  No hugging.  Yeah, I can dig that.”

Deadpool babbled while he cut the webbing from around his feet.  Once clear, he stood up too quickly and stumbled as he stepped free of the webbing.  Spider-Man moved forward to catch him.  Deadpool pressed heavily onto his chest and Spider-Man gave a half grunt of pain.  Deadpool wanted to stay pressed up against Spider-Man but realized that he was still probably a bit injured and while Deadpool might be desperate for physical contact, he wasn’t a jerk.  Not deliberately at least.  Most of the time.  Deadpool pulled away and stood up straight.  “You alright?” Deadpool asked.

“Recovering,” Spider-Man admitted.  “You?”

“Recovered.”

You mean besides the broken nose you just gave us?

'It didn’t break.  There would have been blood if it was broken.’

“Well, we better get going,” Spider-Man suggested.

Might as well.

It’s not like we have anything better to do.

“There’s nothing better,” Deadpool chirped happily as Spider-Man led the way down the street.  

As they patrolled around the city, Spider-Man was unusually quiet.  Deadpool attempted to fill the silence, but even he wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying.

After a while had passed like that, Spider-Man came to a sudden stop and Deadpool braced himself for the inevitably annoyed command to shut up.

Instead of yelling though, Spider-Man chuckled.

“What?” Deadpool demanded.

“I’m glad that you’re recovered,” Spider-Man said warmly.

Deadpool was startled into silence.

He actually sounds relieved.

Happy, even.

‘He likes me!’ Deadpool mentally rejoiced.

He doesn’t like you.  He feels guilty that you were hurt.

And now that you’re well enough to annoy him again, he doesn’t have to feel guilty anymore.

Deadpool suspected the boxes were right, but he didn’t want to think about it.  Instead, he announced to Spider-Man, “I’m glad you’re feeling well enough to come out.  I was afraid I wasn’t going to see you again before I left.”

“Left?” Spider-Man repeated.  “You mean you’re leaving?  I thought…” But Spider-Man trailed off, without saying what he thought.

“I’ve got a couple jobs lined up,” Deadpool explained.  “I can’t put them off any more than I already have.”

“You’re not going to kill anyone?” Spider-Man asked sharply.

“Nah.  I’m not killing anyone these days.  But there are other things a guy like me can do besides killing.  Like...”

Breaking guys out of prison.

Stealing

Breaking into top secret government facilities.

Guarding a mob boss.

Breaking kneecaps of some deadbeats who don’t pay up.

You’re very focused on “breaking” things tonight.

We’re very good at breaking things.

“Yeah…it’s probably better if you don’t know the details,” Deadpool concluded to Spider-Man.

Spider-Man continued to walk.  Deadpool hurried to follow.

When Deadpool caught up beside him, Spider-Man glanced over at him before quietly asking, “When are you leaving?”

“After we finish patrolling.  I’ll probably head out first thing in the morning.”  It wasn't like he slept much or anything.  He just needed to wait until public transportation was running again.  His only other option was to carjack something, but he figured he should try not to do any major stealing when there wasn't an emergency since he was trying to do the whole hero thing.

“Oh,” Spider-Man said with a small voice.

He sounds disappointed.

More likely he can’t believe his luck.

They walked down another block and a half before Spider-Man spoke up again. “Do you still have that weird gun blaster thing?”

"Huh?" Deadpool puzzled.

"From the drug dealer's place," Spider-Man explained, as they walked.

Well, not technically.

You don’t really expect him to be okay with what you’ve done with it, do you?

“No.”

“Damn,” Spider-Man swore, the frustration clear in his voice.  “Then that night was a total bust.  We lost everything with that explosion.”

Deadpool kept a step back from Spider-Man as the two walked down the street.  “What do you mean?” he asked.

“The vial.  The vial of that drug that I spent so much to get.  It broke.  When we got blown out of the building.  So we don’t have the sample of the drug, we don’t have the blaster-gun, the apartment has been destroyed, and the dealer has been killed.  We’re right back to square one.” Spider-Man forcefully kicked an empty beer can in frustration, sending it soaring into the air.

“What about that diner?  The one you went into to set things up?” Deadpool wondered.

The can clattered back to the ground on the far end of the block.  “I can’t afford to do that again,” Spider-Man muttered.  “It’s not like I can just go back to that dinner and arrange another deal.”

“Yeah, but I can,” Deadpool suggested.

“But you’re leaving,” Spider-Man pointed out.

“It’s not like I’m going away forever.  Just a few weeks—”

Spider-Man cut in, “This can’t wait—”

“It already has—”

“Which is why it can’t wait any more—”

“Why the rush?  Nobody’s died—”

“The drug dealer was murdered.”

That stopped Deadpool.  He didn’t think about the drug dealer’s death.  He was a bad guy, he didn’t matter.  But for a hero like Spider-Man, even the death of a bad guy mattered.  Fuck, this was what he was trying to learn.

Spider-Man continued, “And if this drug does force people to obey someone else, this needs to be stopped.  Now.”

While Spider-Man had a point, Deadpool wasn’t giving up yet.  "But you don't know if the drug actually does do that—you never got to test it.”

"Which is why I really need to get another sample as soon as possible,” Spider-Man responded.

"But it's too dangerous for you to go back to that diner on your own."

"Too dangerous?" Spider-Man questioned, his voice ice.

Deadpool tried to backpedal.  "We don't know who killed the drug dealer and blew up the apartment, and if it had anything to do with us.  That diner could be compromised."

"And it might not have been anything to do with us other than bad timing...S.H.I.E.L.D. was also investigating, remember."

"So let S.H.I.E.L.D. take care of it."

"I am not just going to sit back and let S.H.I.E.L.D. do everything when I have the ability to do something."

“I don’t want you to do it,” Deadpool said with a small voice.

Spider-Man turned sharply to face Deadpool and demanded, "What?"

"I don't want you dealing with guys like the drug dealer," Deadpool stated.

Because you don’t want the hero you worship to actually need to get his hands dirty sometimes.

And rather than acknowledge that you have him on an impossible-to-maintain-in-reality pedestal, you’re going to just focus on your concern for his well-being and tell him you’re worried about him getting hurt.

“I’m not just saying I’m worried about him, I’m legitimately worried about him.  He’s still injured from the last time we had anything to do with this drug mess—”

“Ok, I’m going to cut into your conversation because you’re talking about me and I’m right here,” Spider-Man interjected.  “I’m not going to waltz right back into the dinner, because you’re right.  We have no idea who killed the dealer, what that explosion was about, and if it has anything to do with us.  But even if I don’t repeat the same steps as before, I can keep an eye on the place and trail suspicious people.  And yeah, I’m pretty good at trailing people unnoticed, for the same reason I’ve been able to run around New York City unnoticed so much…” Spider-Man pointed upwards.  “People don’t look up.”

“And what if they do?”

Spider-Man shrugged.  “Then I improvise.  But I’ve been doing this hero gig for five years.  I might not have your decade of experience, but I have done fine on my own so far, and I’m not going to rush into a situation like last time.  I’m going to keep back, watch, and learn.  It needs to be done, and I’m here to do it.  You’ve got no place for complaint when you’re the one leaving,” he said bitterly.

He’s got a point.

Deadpool knew Spider-Man was right, but he still worried.  He didn’t like Spider-Man having to get his hands dirty with scum like the drug dealers, he didn’t like how Spider-Man threw himself into danger, and he didn’t want to leave when Spider-Man needed his help.

We can’t stay.  We can’t blow off these jobs, not if we want to stay in the industry at all.

And we need the money.

“Alright,” Deadpool conceded.

“Alright?” Spider-Man asked.

“Alright,” Deadpool repeated.

“So glad I have your permission,” Spider-Man muttered, and there was a bitter edge to his voice.

You’ve pissed him off again.

He had and he didn’t know what to do about it.  “Sorry,” Deadpool murmured

But Spider-Man just shook his head.  The rest of their patrol was uneventful.  They caught a couple of would-be thieves, stopped a mugging, and chased away a vandal.  But the evening was plagued with the uncomfortable silence that screamed the fact that Spider-Man was still annoyed with him.

"Well, I guess this is it then," Deadpool said as they completed their loop around the city.

"Yeah," Spider-Man said morosely, not looking at him.

"Well, don't get all mushy on me. So long, web-head," Deadpool grumbled, frustrated.  He turned to walk away.

"Deadpool, wait!" Spider-Man called after him, and Deadpool wasn't certain if Spider-Man was just showing he caught the reference or if he was actually telling Deadpool to wait.

Spider-Man walked over to him.  He started and aborted a half dozen statements before he finally said, "Stay out of trouble, okay?"

Deadpool nodded.

So this is it, huh?

It does feel sort of final doesn't it?

It did, and Deadpool didn't like it, and when he felt frustrated, he spouted shit out to annoy someone else, “misery loves company” style.  As he watched Spider-Man walk away, he bit out, “Don’t I get a goodbye kiss?”

“No,” Spider-Man said sharply.  

Of course not.

What did you expect?

Spider-Man turned around to face Deadpool, placing his hands on his hips as he explained, "I didn’t promise a 'goodbye' kiss.  I promised a 'thank you' kiss."  

"So then, where's my 'thank you' kiss?" Deadpool asked, feeling a semblance of hope.

Spider-Man shook his head.  "You want that kiss, you need to shower and brush your teeth.  Keep that in mind when you come back."  

Having made that declaration, Spider-Man flicked his wrist and shot web upwards.  He swung away without a backward glance.

Deadpool felt his heart skip a beat.  "Did you hear that?  He wants us to come back!"

It’s more likely that he doesn’t expect us to come back.

"He promised a kiss for my return!"

No.  He’s delaying, and he’ll probably come up with some other reason to delay next time.

"Shower and brush my teeth, huh?" Deadpool lifted his arm and sniffed his armpit.  Yeesh.  He did stink.  When was the last time he took a shower?

Do you have any idea how gross it is that you can't actually remember that?

Deadpool ignored the voices in his head as he skipped down the street.  Happily humming, he dreamed of the kiss he would get when he finished his out-of-town jobs.

 

Chapter Text

ISSUE 13: (Not) Missing You

“Woohoo!” Spider-Man cheered as he swung through the city.

He added unnecessary flips and twirls to his web-swinging, but he was just so happy to be out and about as Spider-Man again that he couldn’t resist adding the extra flourishes.  It was a late summer sunny evening, and the weather was perfect; not too hot and not too humid.  At the moment, there was nothing better.

He needed this.  He so needed this.

The first week after the explosion, he’d known he was too injured to go out—heck, he’d spent the first few days mostly asleep.  The past week and a half, though, he hadn’t been staying away because he wanted to.  He didn’t like missing patrols and leaving the city streets so undefended.  He never liked to take even a single night off and he had already taken a week off.  But every time he thought he might go out, someone had come over to see how he was doing.  It was a constant parade of his friends: Harry, Krissi, Evan, and then Aunt May.  And Aunt May had to show him her vacation photos.  All nine hundred of them.

And yeah, it was awesome and he did want to hear all about her trip (because seriously, when would he have a chance to go to Europe?) but a week break became two weeks, became more than two, and before he knew it, he had been out of commission for seventeen days.  That was over half a month!

Finally though, his friends and aunt seemed to think he wasn’t dying anymore and the stream of visiting halted enough that he could put the mask on once more.  Ok, last night was the night he returned to being Spider-Man after his injury-induced absence, but Spider-man refused to think about last night.

So yeah, it felt great to be out swinging in the air again, and he needed something to be happy about, particularly after the craptastic day he had at work.  Ok, it has been really awful at work since he first got the crummy low-wage assistant position, but the past few weeks have been particularly brutal since his boss was feeling vindictive that Peter had had to miss a few days right after he got hurt.  Mr. Keefe did not like people taking time off last minute, despite the fact that nothing Peter did at work couldn’t wait a few days.

Besides the fact that his boss was a bitter tool, Peter swore the man was going senile.  Mr. Keefe was pushing 80 or something, and was stuck thinking it was twenty years ago.  He couldn’t handle computers or smart phones or any current technology.  He hovered over Peter’s shoulder for an hour, dictating exactly how something should be done, when Peter could have finished it easily within fifteen minutes on his own.

First thing that morning, Mr. Keefe came in looking for a file. He spent well over twenty minutes looking for it.  A file that Peter hadn’t touched.  Ever.  So, the file should only be in Mr. Keefe’s possession, in Mr. Keefe’s office, not anywhere near Peter’s desk.  But Mr. Keefe couldn’t find it so he had stamped over to Peter’s desk with this really aggressive body language and had demanded to know where the file was, as it had to be somewhere.  Like Peter was going around stealing his files or something.

Peter had gestured around his empty desk, no files to be seen.  He had opened his filing cabinet, which had never contained any files and was only used for office supplies, so no files to be found there.  Opening up every drawer in Peter’s area also failed to reveal the missing file.  Mr. Keefe had stormed back into his office, leaving Peter frustrated with his inability to say something snappy in return, fearing that if he let even a fraction of what he wanted to say out that he would be fired in an instant.

When Peter had calmed himself down so that he wouldn’t say something he would regret, he went into Mr. Keefe’s office and offered to look through the filing cabinet.  However, Mr. Keefe had informed him that it was no longer necessary as the file had been found.  Naturally, the file was under that morning’s newspaper that Mr. Keefe had been reading earlier at the table.  The table that was the only other flat surface in the office besides his desk.  Yeah.  That was his boss.

Then Peter had finished all the work he had been assigned for the day by noon; he had all the filing done, typed up all the reports, and followed up on a few inquiries.  Yet his boss refused to let him out early even though there was nothing for him to work on and he was barely keeping his eyes open.  (He hadn’t been able to shut his mind off enough to get any sleep after last night, and no, he wasn’t going to start thinking about him again, nope, not right now.  Not happening.)

Anyway, Peter wasn’t allowed to go early, because it was suddenly, vitally important that Peter find another file.  A file that Peter knew was in the bottom drawer of Mr. Keefe’s file cabinet because Peter had seen him put it in there first thing in the morning, but his boss refused to believe when Peter told him, several times already, where the damn file was.  Because Mr. Keefe had already checked there.

Peter had desperately wished that he could have shot some webbing at the door to the filing cabinet and pulled it open so that Mr. Keefe would just look in the damn drawer already but he couldn’t.  The risk of being seen would have been too great.  Not from Mr. Keefe, of course, who couldn’t even see a stupid file an inch thick that was the only thing on the table with a newspaper, but there were plenty of other people in the office who weren’t as obtuse.

And so Peter had to sit at his desk, twiddling his thumbs with nothing to do because his damn boss wouldn’t open a drawer that Peter had told him a dozen times held the damn missing file.  When Peter had finally been given permission to leave—ten minutes after he was scheduled to leave, still with no work that needed to be done—he had hurried home for a quick power nap and a bite to eat before making like Barney Stinson and suiting up.  Only in his Spider-Man suit, not a suit suit.  Ok, so it was stupid joke, but Deadpool would have gotten the reference and laughed.

Now he was thinking about Deadpool again, and suddenly his good mood from swinging through the city was fading fast.  No, not going to think about him.  He’d stayed up too late, unable to get to sleep, going over everything Deadpool had said last night, and he wasn’t going to keep repeating the same things in his head.  He was swinging through the city for the first time in ages and this was a great night and he was just going to enjoy himself!

He took a little longer to just swing about the city than he had intended to, but he reasoned that this was the first chance he had in a long while to really let loose, and he deserved a little bit of play time before he got to work.  After a while, he did tone down the fancy swinging as he got closer to the diner where last month he had made the arrangements to meet with the drug dealer.  When he arrived on the street, he entered an alleyway across from the diner entrance and tucked himself in a darkened corner.

Once settled, he turned his attention to the large picture window of the diner, keeping an eye on it  to see if someone would sit in the very last booth and make a phone call.  It wasn’t long before Spider-Man realized the flaw of his plan, as sitting around waiting for something he had no idea when or if would happen was incredibly, mind-numbingly boring.

Deadpool would never have been able to sit still for even a few minutes like this.  But then again, if Deadpool had been around, they never would have had to do a stake-out as Spider-Man could have sent him into the diner, posing as a new customer.  Damnit.  Deadpool was distracting him without even being there.

He wished he was out patrolling.  He could use a few bad guys to beat up to work off some of his frustration.  Something to get him moving so he wasn’t just sitting around thinking.  Granted, he couldn’t really go all out, full strength on anyone.  He always had to hold back because he was so much stronger than anyone else, except the Avengers, not that he had actually arm-wrestled any of them to compare, but he was guessing based on what he’d seen from the Battle of New York, and wow, he was babbling as much as Deadpool did and now he was thinking about Deadpool again and feeling crappy.

Ok, so he was upset, but he had a right to be upset!  He had spent seventeen days (ok. So a few of those days he was mostly asleep) but still, seventeen days agonizing over the fact that he had promised to kiss Deadpool and even after his conversation with Krissi, Spider-Man didn’t quite believe that Deadpool was all that serious about wanting a kiss.  And Krissi had suggested the idea of putting the ball back into Deadpool’s court but Spider-Man didn’t have any idea how he should bring up the topic.

And then he had found the blog post about Deadpool helping a little girl get a cat out of a tree.   Deadpool hadn’t been named in the post, per se, but just noted as the “other super-hero who has been seen traveling around with Spider-Man recently”.  OK, so Spider-Man Googled himself, so what?  Everyone did it!

Anyway, the point was, he saw that Deadpool was not only keeping out of trouble while Spider-Man was recovering, he was also doing really sweet things like helping a little girl get her cat back, and it was cute, ok?

And Spider-Man had this thought that maybe, at the end of their patrol, he’d bring up the blog post and say that Deadpool was really being a hero, and maybe he deserved a kiss.  Or something.

Maybe it was a bit hokey, but whatever, it didn’t matter, because when they finally met back up after seventeen days, Deadpool went and ruined everything by saying he was leaving, and suddenly Spider-Man didn’t know what to think.

Maybe everything that Spider-Man had decided wasn’t true after all.  Maybe Deadpool had just been fooling around about wanting a kiss and Spider-Man was a dope for thinking he had ever been serious.  Because he left.

What was he thinking?  He was such an idiot.

I didn’t promise a 'goodbye' kiss.  I promised a 'thank you' kiss.  Keep that in mind when you come back.

And if saying he’d kiss Deadpool once wasn’t enough, he had to go and renew his promise.  Spider-Man could feel his cheeks burn and he was glad his mask hid how red they must look.  What the hell was wrong with him?  It wasn’t like he really wanted to kiss Deadpool, so why did he say he would?  A second time even?!

When Deadpool had brought up the kissing at the end of their patrol, Spider-Man had been so flustered he just spat shit out without really thinking about what he was saying, so he wound up repeating the promise a second time without meaning to.

But Spider-Man had promised he would and he was a man of his word.  He had promised, twice, to kiss Deadpool, so he would.

It wouldn’t be such a big deal if he thought that Deadpool was serious in wanting the kiss!  And now Spider-Man would be right back to trying to figure out what to do about that kiss when Deadpool came back.

IF Deadpool came back.

In the five plus years since Spider-Man had been doing the hero-gig, he had only run into Deadpool a couple of times, and none as long as this last visit.  Considering Deadpool's career, and his attention span, it was shocking that he had stayed for as long as he had.  It could be months or even years before Deadpool returned.

And when he did return to the city, he might not even remember anything about the kiss.   Deadpool had the attention span of a goldfish.  By now, just 24 hours later, Deadpool had probably already forgotten all about it, let alone by the time he finally came back to the city, some weeks, months, or even years later.  And even if he did remember, he wasn’t likely to bother going through the trouble of cleaning himself up for some joke.

So yeah, Spider-Man was still agonizing over a promised kiss that Deadpool probably didn’t even care about, let alone remember.  He was being a complete idiot.  

Spider-Man’s thoughts continued to run in the same circular logic for the entire time he was on the stake-out.  When the diner finally closed up for the night, Spider-Man hadn’t seen a single person sit in the last booth.  His first stake out was a failure, and he wasn’t looking forward to doing this all over again the next night.

He decided that it was still early enough in the night that he had some time for a regular patrol.  He swung out through the darkened city streets, and even though he knew no one would be waiting there, he couldn’t keep himself from swinging past the location that served as his meetup place with Deadpool, looking in vain for the red-clad mercenary.

*********

It’s the end of the chapter.

“Yeah?”

So aren’t you going to do your usual end of chapter thing?

“I’m a little busy here,” Deadpool grunted out in reply as he dodged the barrage of bullets.  He tumbled down a side hallway.  He immediately stood and pressed his back against the wall, glancing around the corner.  Another rain of gunfire answered his look.  Deadpool aimed his gun and fired.  His target yelped with pain and dropped her gun.

This would be so much easier if you weren’t picking them off one by one.  

You know what would be really good right now?  A grenade.  A grenade would be really useful right now.

“Grenades kill, and I’m not killing anyone.  Spidey doesn’t want me to.”

I’m just saying.  One grenade, we’d be done already.

If only we could have non-lethal grenades.

“That’s actually a really good idea.”  Deadpool continued his exchange of gunfire with the guards.  “A grenade that explodes with sleeping powder instead of explosives.”

Weasel could probably make something up like that.

“Oh even better!” Deadpool exclaimed cheerfully.  “I bet Spider-Man could do something.  After all, he made those web shooting gauntlets of his.  He might really like the idea of a non-lethal weapon like that, and it would totally give me an opportunity to spend more time with him!”

And we wouldn’t have to pay Weasel’s fees.

“See, even better,” Deadpool grinned.

Now we just need to survive and get out of here.

“Please,” Deadpool scoffed as he disarmed the last of the guards.  “I’ll be done with this and get back to my beloved Spidey again in no time!”

Famous last words.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing,” Deadpool countered.  He stepped over the injured guards and continued further into compound.

And whether he even wants to see you again.

Good point.  He was pretty pissed off yesterday.

“He promised to kiss us,” Deadpool reminded, sliding down another hall.

He was lying and you know it.

Deadpool did know it.  Or at least, suspected it.  There was no way a cutie like Spider-Man would have any interest in someone like him.   

There were a dozen guards in front of him, and Deadpool looked down at the gun in his hand, considering.

He sang, “No change, I can change, I can change, I can change.  But I'm here in my mould, I am here in my mould.”

With a determined stride, he made his way down the hallway, still singing, “And I'm a million different people from one day to the next, I can't change my mould, no, no, no, no, no…”

Chapter Text

“Damn it,” Peter swore.  He was frustrated, so damn frustrated.  After all the effort to get a sample of the mysterious drug, he was now failing to figure out what it actually was.

He was sitting in his old high school chemistry lab looking at the results of his latest test and it was all gibberish.  None of it made any sense and he was starting to seriously consider that maybe whatever was in this drug, it was not of this earth.  Considering last year the city had been attacked by aliens, that wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.  So yeah, he was swearing, and he never swore—OK, he hardly ever swore—but it had been a few weeks now and nothing had been going right and he had nothing to show for all his effort.

Ten days.  He had spent ten long days sitting in a stinking alleyway staking out the diner.  Ok, not the entire time, because he still had work and he did need to get some sleep, though he wasn’t sleeping as well as he should.  But whatever, he had spent several mind-numbingly long hours each of those ten days before he finally saw someone sit at that last booth and get a phone call.  Then when he followed her out of the diner, she didn’t immediately go to the deal.  After she went into a townhouse, Spider-Man had spent a very panicky hour going over every possible scenario on whether to keep following her or to give up, and the logistics of both options.  Thankfully, when she finally came out, she had gone straight to the deal, and Spider-Man didn’t have to try to figure out a plan B, which was good, because he’d had no idea what a Plan B was going to be.

Spider-Man then captured both the woman and the dealer, tied them up in webbing, and left them for the police--he wasn’t going to try to follow this dealer back to his boss, after what happened last time.  The important thing for the moment was the drug, so he’d grabbed the one and only vial of the mysterious drug the dealer had on him.  Part of Spider-Man felt disgusted with himself for stealing, even if he was stealing from bad people, the other part of him wished he had thought to do this the first time so he wouldn’t have had to shell out so much money he couldn’t afford to spend.

But now that he had finally gotten the desperately needed sample, he couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  He knew that his own lab equipment at home wouldn’t cut it, so he’d been spending a few hours each day after work at his old high school, since Mr. Luke liked him well enough and was past the age of retirement so he had zero fucks to give about someone coming in to use the lab during after-school hours.  But it was a public high school, and the equipment there just wasn’t enough for a project like this.

He needed to get his hands on better equipment if he was going to make any sense of the drug.  There were two places he could think of: one was Oscorp and the other his university.  Oscorp had a chemist’s wet-dream’s worth of all the state-of-the-art testing equipment that Peter could ever imagine, but there was no way he was going to be able to get his hands on any of it, and he even if he could, he didn’t want to risk Norman Osborn getting even a hint of this drug on the chance that it actually did what Randy Newman claimed it did.  

His university didn’t have the scope or quality of Oscorps’ tools, but he had a better chance of getting into one of those labs.  However, while Peter did have a good relationship with his former bio-chem professors, he didn’t think it was a good idea for anyone to see him working on the vial.  For one, he would likely be asked uncomfortable questions he couldn’t answer about where he got it and what it was.  So that meant breaking into the lab after hours, and Peter hadn’t quite been able to work himself up to that.

Well, whatever it was, he was clearly not going to be figuring anything further about it this evening.  He cleaned up his work area, put away the equipment, and made sure he locked up the room behind him.  He made his way back to his building and hauled his ass up the seven flights of stairs to reach his apartment.  As soon as he was inside and the door shut behind him, he stripped out of his street clothes and slipped into his costume.

It was late, past time for him to be out on patrol.  He hadn’t eaten dinner, but he wasn’t very hungry.  He just wanted to go out and clear his head by swinging through the city.  Leaving everything where he had dropped it on the floor, Spider-man slipped out his window.

Spider-Man started his patrol at the place where he used to meet with Deadpool.  He didn't actually expect to see Deadpool but he went on the off chance.  Because Deadpool could cause a lot of trouble if he was back in the city, and Spider-Man had made a deal with Deadpool so that made him Spider-Man’s responsibility when he was in the city.  Spider-Man certainly didn't feel disappointed when he didn't see Deadpool at the meet up spot.

Patrolling was better alone, Spider-Man repeated to himself like he did every night he’d gone out since Deadpool had left.  He didn't need to worry that Deadpool might kill someone while they were out.  He wasn't having arguments about what he should or shouldn't be doing--God knows what a fuss Deadpool would have made at Spider-Man stealing the vial.  And on top of it all, he could travel via his webs again.  It was a gorgeous early autumn evening and he should just enjoy himself.

But it also wasn’t as much fun, he had to admit to himself.  He was lonely without Deadpool around.  He'd get over it.  He'd have to--he had no idea if or when Deadpool might return.

Well, it made no sense to stand around feeling sorry for himself.  He needed to get to work, not mope over things he couldn't do anything about.  He shot a web strand upwards and lifted off.

He thought at first he was imagining it at when he heard the distinctive gravel and gasoline growl that was Deadpool's voice call out, "Hey, Spidey!  Wait up!"

Spider-Man turned his head mid-swing and saw Deadpool running down the street after him.  He didn’t have his swords on his back, but otherwise, he looked the same as always, in his regular red and black garb.

With a smile that no one else could see, Spider-Man let go of his web, leaning backwards to the point where he was now plunging down to the ground head first.  He twisted in the air, tucked his chin, pulled his body in, and somersaulted a few times before nailing a perfect landing.  

Ok, so he was showing off a little.  He hadn't seen Deadpool in over a month, he was allowed.

He waited impatiently for Deadpool to catch up, but unable to keep still, he wound up going down the street to shorten the distance between them.  

"What took you so long?" Spider-Man grumbled as if he was upset.

“Work, work, work,” Deadpool replied cheerfully.  “We can’t all be superheroes.  Some of us need a paying job.”

Deadpool came to a stop right in front of Spider-Man, his grin apparent through his mask.  He was brimming with a sense of pleasure and anticipation.  

Spider-Man’s retort died on his lips as he realized with Deadpool beside him, that he could smell him, and it wasn't the usual combination of natural musk, old sweat, gunpowder, food, and unwashed funk that Deadpool typically smelled of.  No, Deadpool smelled clean.  

Maybe it was just coincidence, and had nothing to do with the fact that Spider-Man had told him to clean up if he wanted the kiss, but somehow, Spider-Man didn’t think that was the case.  No, Deadpool had NOT forgotten about the kiss, nor had he forgotten Spider-Man’s terms and conditions for collection of his kiss.  

The reality of the situation hit Spider-Man hard.  His heart was racing, his mouth was dry, his throat tight, and he suddenly didn't know what to do with his hands.

He wasn't ready!  He hadn't expected Deadpool to just show up—he hadn't had the time to mentally prepare for any of this!

"Let's,” Spider-Man started, his voice a squeak.  He swallowed heavily and tried again with better success, “Let’s get going then, since you finally showed up for patrol.”

"Let's go beat some bad guys," Deadpool agreed cheerfully enough that Spider-Man wasn’t quite sure if he had imagined the sense of disappointment that he had felt radiating off of Deadpool.

*************************

As Spider-Man grappled with a mugger, he saw Deadpool duck down an alleyway.  It was sort a relief not to have Deadpool right next to him.  Spider-Man had been finding it hard to concentrate on patrolling since he kept thinking about Deadpool, and kissing, and kissing Deadpool.

While curious as to what Deadpool had seen that caused him to leave during a fight, Spider-Man figured he could take care of himself.  Deadpool would call out if there was trouble, or at the very least, there would be some sort of explosion.  Spider-Man didn’t have to wonder for long, though, as Deadpool reappeared just as Spider-Man knocked the mugger out.

Spider-Man nearly choked on the strong fragrance wafting off Deadpool as he came near.  Had he...yes, Spider-Man concluded, he had.  Deadpool had doused himself in Axe Body Spray.

Deadpool hovered nearby, and there was a sense of expectancy to his stance.  Deadpool must have thought that he hadn’t smelled clean enough, so now he had sprayed himself with fragrance.  That cleared up any doubt Spider-Man had about whether or not Deadpool wanted the kiss.  Well, Spider-Man was a man of his word.  He’d just take care of the mugger and then he and Deadpool could find somewhere secluded.  Not that they were going to do anything more than just kiss, but he didn’t want anyone to see them making out.

“Yeah, if it was that color, I’d walk away too.” Spider-Man heard Deadpool say.  Since Spider-Man hadn’t said anything, he could only guess that Deadpool was having some sort of conversation with himself.

Deadpool continued, “Well, red of course—No, I’m not being predictable, red is the best color.  Spidey will back me up on this, won’t you, baby boy?”

Alright, if he was being mentioned in Deadpool’s internal conversation, he’d chime in.  “I will do no backing up until I know what I’m being asked to back up.”

“That ass!  You can back that up—”

“Yeah, no,” Spider-Man shot that down before Deadpool could finish that sentence.

“But you would want red, right?” Deadpool asked, seamlessly bringing the conversation back to the color.

“For what?” Spider-Man wasn’t sure he really wanted to know, but he asked mostly because that seemed a safer conversation than his ass.

“For your nails.”

“My nails?  Why are we painting my nails?”  At least he assumed Deadpool was talking about nail painting.  If he wasn’t, then Spider-Man was even more lost in a conversation he started off lost in.

“Because that’s what you do at pajama parties!” Deadpool twirled around Spider-Man like a five-year-old girl in a princess tutu dress.  “You paint your nails, have pillow fights, gossip over what boys have the cutest ass—and spoiler alert that is totally you—and then braid hair, though I don’t have any hair to braid—”

Spider-Man stood up and grabbed Deadpool by the arms to stop him from circling around him again.  Looking face-to-face as much as possible with both of them wearing masks, Spider-Man asked, “What pajama party?”

“The one that guy escaped from.”

“What guy?”

“That one.”

Deadpool seemed to have calmed down enough not to be spinning around anymore, so Spider-Man let go.

“The pajama party escapee one.”  Deadpool pointed.  Spider-Man followed the direction of his hand to see a figure across the street.

“That…that is a man walking around in just pajama pants.”

Deadpool nodded exasperatedly.  “Ye-ah.”

“Oh my god!” Realization dawned on Spider-Man.  “That’s a sleep-walker!  We finally found one!”

Spider-Man left the tied up mugger where he was laying, bound up in webbing on the side of the street, and chased after the sleep-walking man.

It only took them a moment to catch up.  “Hey mister,” Spider-Man called out as he reached the man. His eyes were open, but unresponsive.  He seemed completely unaware of his surroundings, though he did stop moving when Spider-Man stepped in front of him.

Spider-Man tried calling out to him a few more times, none of his attempts had any effect.  Deadpool joined in with a loud “HEY!” screamed into the man’s ear.  Still nothing.  Spider-Man and Deadpool exchanged a look, or at least Spider-Man felt as if they exchanged looks, as much as such looks could be exchanged when they both were wearing masks.

Well, clearly sound wasn’t going to be enough to wake the sleep-walking man up.  Time to try the next thing.

“I’m sorry about this, sir, but I’m going to touch your arms,” Spider-Man explained even though he didn’t think the man had any awareness of what was being said.  Still, Spider-Man felt better at giving the warning.

Spider-Man at first just tapped the man on the shoulder.  Then he grabbed his shoulders and the progressed to shaking the man by his shoulders.  None of that got any reaction.

He grabbed onto the man’s wrists, and lifted up his arms to examine them.  He didn’t see any needle marks along the arms.  His eyes weren’t bloodshot or glassy, just distant.  There didn’t seem to be anything in his mouth.  The man had nothing on him but his pajama pants.

Spider-Man hadn’t realized he had rattled that litany out loud until Deadpool responded, “There could still be something unnatural controlling him.  Something that we can’t see, or something that happened to him earlier.”

“Yes,” Spider-Man agreed.  “Though unless he wakes up so I can question him, at this rate I’m not sure if there’s anything else I can do to find out.”

“Would a blood sample help?”

“Yes, of course,” Spider-Man agreed.  “But it’s not like I carry a blood-draw kit around with me.”

Deadpool held up a knife that Spider-Man hadn’t seen him grab.

“No, Deadpool.  We’re not stabbing him while he’s unconscious.”

“Pain could wake him up.”

“Not helping your argument.”

Still, Spider-Man thought, Deadpool was on to something.  A blood sample could help.  He didn’t have the sort of equipment that could really analyze it, but he had been planning on getting into his university lab in the near future to analyze the drug, so he could look at them both at the same time, and maybe Deadpool could help him get into the lab unnoticed.

Spider-Man was about to tell Deadpool his plans when suddenly the sleeping man started to convulse.  “Help me lie him down,” Spider-Man ordered.  When Deadpool leaned over to help, Spider-Man snapped in addition, “and put that away or you’ll freak him out when he comes to!”

Deadpool had the knife out of hand before Spider-Man had even finished telling him, though by that time, Spider-Man had the man lowered to the ground.  Eyes shut tight, he convulsed on the ground for another minute before he went still.

Suddenly, his eyes flicked open and they were clear and alert.  He looked around puzzled, then he noticed Spider-Man leaning over him.  He let out an ear-piercing scream.

“Whoa, man, you’re okay…” Spider-Man tried to say, but the man kept screaming.

“Get away from me!  What have you done to me?”

“Nothing—”

“What have you done to me?  And oh god, there are two of you!”

“Deadpool, back off for a minute, while I try to calm him down—”

“I knew the Bugle was right about you!”

“Sir, you—”

“HELP!  Someone help!”

“I’m trying—”

“Spider-Man has kidnapped me!”

“I didn’t—”

“HELP!”

“SHUT UP!” Deadpool thundered.  Both Spider-Man and the man stared up at Deadpool in shock.  Now that he had their attention, Deadpool continued, “He didn’t kidnap you.  He saved you!”

The man looked at Deadpool, then at Spider-Man, and then back to Deadpool.  And then he screamed.  He brought up his leg and roughly kicked Spider-Man in the chest, knocking him over more due to Spider-Man’s surprise than from force.  There was a bit of a scuffle as Deadpool grabbed him, which caused him to scream and flail even more.

“Deadpool, let him go!”

As soon as Deadpool released him, the man scrambled to his feet and ran off, all the while crying out for help because the Spider-Men were after him.

“Do you want me to capture him?” Deadpool asked as they watched the man stumble away.

“No,” Spider-Man said with a sigh.  “Let him go.  He’s too distressed to listen to us, and it wouldn’t be right to hold him until he could.  My reputation will be shattered enough when he goes public with this story.  And I can guarantee you, he’s going to be calling up Jameson as soon as he gets to a phone.”

They stayed as they were for another minute, watching the man disappear out of sight before Spider-Man got to his feet.

“Come on.  Let’s get this guy to the police.”  Spider-Man looked over to where he had left the mugger, but he only saw some abandoned webbing.

“FUCK!” Spider-Man exploded.

He stood shaking, his head in his hands while a litany of swears echoing in his mind.  When he finally managed to calm down, he noticed Deadpool hovering anxiously beside him.

“Well,” Spider-Man said to him.  “This has been a complete disaster.”

“Maybe not completely?” Deadpool questioned.  He held up his knife and there was a small pool of red along its edge.

“Deadpool, did you cut that man?”

“Maybe?  Depending on whether or not you’re going to be angry and yell at me?”

“Considering what a mess of everything this night has been, I’m just going to say, find me something clean to hold that blood sample and I’ll forget to be angry with you for how you got it.”

Deadpool pulled out a small bottle of water from one of his pouches.  He poured the water out, then shook it a moment to get as much drops out of it as he could.  Then he held the knife over the lip of the water bottle and caught a few drops of blood.  He sealed the bottle up and returned it to his pouch.

Relief flooded Spider-Man.  “I could…,” he started, before he stopped himself.  After Deadpool managed to salvage something out of the disaster of a night, he definitely deserved a kiss now, if Spider-man hadn’t already been planning on it.  But if he mentioned it now, Deadpool would be leaping onto him, and he really didn’t want to make-out in the middle of the street they were currently standing in.  Besides, Spider-Man knew a roof a few streets over that had a garden and a nice view of the city.  That would be a nicer spot for a kiss than where they were now, or even the alleyway where they had their first one.  “Wanna go somewhere?”

“Okay?” Deadpool answered, though his tone held more question than agreement.

***********************

Deadpool hadn’t been having a good evening.  He was freshly showered, teeth brushed, and brand new costume.  He was as clean as he could be and yet Spider-Man hadn’t kissed him.  He tried the spritzing himself with some perfumey stuff and still Spider-Man had failed to jump into his arms.

That’s because he isn’t going to kiss you.  When he said he would if you cleaned up, he was delaying.  Now he’s just going to ignore it.

His thoughts were interrupted as Spider-Man suddenly put his arm around Deadpool’s waist.

What is he doing?

‘Is he going to kiss us finally?’

No chance of that.

Not in public at any rate.

And then Spider-Man lifted him off his feet.  And yeah, he might have let out a little yelp when Spider-Man suddenly took off in the air on one of his web strands.  A little warning would have been nice, alright?  And while he did appreciate how strong Spider-Man was, he didn’t entirely like being carried this way, with his arms and legs dangling and nothing holding him up but one of Spider-Man’s arms.  One of his surprisingly solid, strong arms.

Spider-Man swung one-handed through the city by going building to building, stopping on the side of one building only long enough to set up the next web strand.  This really wasn’t Deadpool’s preferred way to travel, but even with the blood sample, Spider-Man seemed pretty shaken up by what happened with the pajama party escapee and Deadpool got that.  And really, the worst thing that would happen was he got dropped and went splat, and while that wasn’t something he particularly wanted to happen, he’d get over it.  So he didn’t say anything and he kept it to himself just how relieved he felt when Spider-Man finally stopped on a rooftop several blocks away.

Spider-Man placed Deadpool down by the wall to the staircase that lead off the roof, then settled himself a few feet away at the edge of the roof, looking out at the city.  There was a garden around them, full of flowers.  With the moon shining bright, the flowers surrounding them, and the view of the city below them, it was a rather romantic spot.

He isn’t going for romance, he’s going for tranquil.

Getting screamed at by someone he’s trying to help has to be very upsetting for a hero like him.

Deadpool didn’t like seeing Spidey down, but he didn’t think the things that usually cheered him up would work for Spider-Man.  Somehow he didn’t think tacos would be enough.  Deadpool sometimes shot himself in the head when he was feeling down, but he suspected that Spider-Man wasn’t the sort, largely because Spider-Man wouldn’t survive shooting himself in the head.

Take him into your arms in a completely platonic bromance sort of way.

Yeah, Spider-Man wasn’t going to want to be touched by him.  There had been no kiss after all, and the last time Deadpool had been in the city, Spider-Man had been flinching at just their hands brushing together.  And just now, Spider-Man had held him as little as possible to carry him up onto the roof.  No, Deadpool was under no illusions that Spider-Man would welcome a hug of any sort.

Feeling pathetic that there was nothing he could do to cheer up Spider-Man, Deadpool decided that he should at least say something.  He’d probably get it wrong but he should at least try.

“Hey, Spidey,” Deadpool called over.  Spider-Man turned around on his perch by the roof’s edge and looked over at Deadpool.

Now that he had Spider-Man’s attention, Deadpool continued, “That guy doesn’t know his head from his ass, Spidey.  You’ve always been a hero to me.”

Spider-Man looked down, and was quiet for a moment before he bashfully said, “Thanks, Wade.  You’re a hero to me too.”

Warmth spread through Deadpool and his heart thudded excitedly in his chest.  Spider-Man, his hero, had just said that he was a hero too.

Hug the man.  Now.

You’re sharing, hugs are acceptable when you’re sharing your feelings like this!

Unable to contain himself, Deadpool gushed, “I want to hug you now.”

When Spider-Man didn’t immediately respond, Deadpool wondered if he had said too much, and that Spider-Man was repulsed or thinking about pounding him flat with another drop kick or something.

“Well,” Spider-Man said at last, after a long moment of contemplation, “Instead of a hug, how about that kiss I promised you?”

Deadpool was shocked into silence.

Did he seriously just say he was going to kiss us?

‘No way!  I must be dreaming this!’

Shoot yourself in the foot.

‘Great idea!’

Deadpool pulled out his gun, aimed it at his foot, and cocked the trigger.  Before he could actually fire the gun, Spider-Man was webbing the gun.

“What are you doing?!” Spider-Man cried out.

Deadpool looked at his webbed gun curiously. “Um, shooting my foot?” he replied questioningly.

“Shooting your foot?” Spider-Man repeated.  “So, um, you weren’t going to shoot me?”

Why would he shoot Spider-Man?  He didn’t shoot people he liked.  Usually.

He hadn’t answered but Spider-Man continued as if he had, “I thought maybe you were going to shoot me because I suggested we kiss…?”

Spider-Man had trailed off questioningly, and Deadpool didn’t quite know what the question was or how to answer it.  “I wouldn’t shoot you for that!  I showered and brushed my teeth and everything because you said you would kiss me if I did so I did but then you didn’t kiss me and—”

Spider-Man cut in, “So if wasn’t me, why were you going to shoot yourself in the foot?”

Oh, he knew this one!  “To see if it hurts,” Deadpool answered.

“I would think after all these years of your particular career that you would be rather intimately aware that yes, gun shots hurt.”

“Not in dreams,” Deadpool explained, some exasperation entering his voice, because it should have been obvious to anyone.  “When you want to see if you are dreaming, you have to hurt yourself right?”

“Most people when they want to prove they are not dreaming pinch themselves,” Spider-Man retorted.

“I wouldn’t be able to notice something as little as pinching,” Deadpool explained.

Spider-Man was shocked into an uncomfortable silence.

What are you doing?!  He was going to kiss us!

You totally ruined the mood, Asshole!

‘But you are the one who told me to shoot my foot!’

Shoot your foot, yes, honestly explain what you were doing to hero-boy over there, no.

“O-kaaaaay,” Spider-Man said at last.  “That statement is a lot to unpack so we’re going to put it aside and talk about it later, when I’m more emotionally able to deal with it.”

Deadpool nodded in agreement though he wasn’t quite sure what he was agreeing to, but it seemed like a good idea to agree with Spider-Man.

“So,” Spider-Man said after another long moment.

“So?” Deadpool asked in return.

“So, um, yeah,” Spider-Man started, radiating nervousness.  “The kiss…Am I just being an idiot here or, um, is that something you want—”

“WANT!  I WANT!  I DEFINITELY WANT!” Deadpool exclaimed before Spider-Man had even completed his question.

Spider-Man let out a relieved sigh.  “Okay, good.  I was starting to get a bit nervous that I was completely misreading things and making a huge mistake.”

Deadpool emphatically shook his head.  “No mistake, I definitely want!”

Spider-Man chuckled lightly.  But he stood where he was, and Deadpool stood where he was, and there was no kissing sexy-fun times yet.

“Oh!” Spider-Man exclaimed as if he had a sudden realization.  “If we want to kiss, we should lift up our masks, right?”  Spider-Man pushed his mask up over his mouth.

Deadpool mirrored the action, pulling up his own mask, but neither one made any further movement.

“So,” Spider-Man said again after yet another long moment.

“So?” Deadpool repeated.

Spider-Man shrugged his arms.  “I sort of expected you would have jumped me already and I would have to peel you off before you got too carried away,” he said a bit hopelessly.

“I’m still not sure this isn’t some sort of hallucination,” Deadpool admitted.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Spider-Man muttered as he stalked across the roof.  When Spider-Man was in front of him, he pulled Deadpool’s head down while at the same time lifting himself up on tip-toe so that their mouths could connect.

Deadpool saw it coming but was still shocked by the actual contact of their lips together.  His arms flew up and his back stiffened.  Spider-Man’s kiss was gentle and uncertain.  But it was real.

Spider-Man was kissing him.  

Deadpool still had his arms awkwardly up in the air.  What the hell should he do with them?!  He slowly brought his arms down, his hands miming the contours of Spider-Man’s body until they were even with that oh-so-delicious ass.  Should he grab it?  Would that be too much?

Grab it.

Don’t grab it.  If you touch him, he’ll come to his senses and realize that he’s kissing us and then he’ll stop.  And we don’t want him to stop!

Spider-Man startled and roughly pushed Deadpool away.

“I wasn’t about to grab your ass!” Deadpool exclaimed.

“You’re vibrating!” Spider-Man yelped.

“I’m not even at half-mast!” Deadpool answered.

“Wha— ?” Spider-Man started until realization hit him.  “No.”  

Deadpool could see the little bit of Spider-Man’s cheeks that were visible from his partially raised mask were flushed red.  It was much nicer getting Spider-Man to blush when he could actually see his cheeks redden.

“I mean something is buzzing,” Spider-Man explained.

“Huh?” Deadpool asked before he noticed a buzzing vibration from his right front pouch.  “Oh!” he said with understanding.  “My cell!  I forgot to turn the volume back on after I got out of the movies earlier.  It’s still on vibrate.”

Deadpool reached into his pouch and pulled out his cellphone.

***************************

Spider-Man watched as Deadpool hit the answer button and raised the phone up to his ear.  “Deadpool mercenary services, your one-stop shop for anything you need chopped!”

“What the fuck, Wade?!” Spider-Man could hear a voice loudly exclaim over the phone.  “I bust my ass getting it fixed and to let you know ‘as soon as it’s fucking ready’—your words, ‘Pool—and you leave me hanging when I call you!”

“Sorry, Weaz,” Deadpool answered cheerfully.  “I didn’t notice my phone for a minute.  See, I’m with Spider-Man right now, and you’ll never guess what we were just doing!”  Spider-Man felt a growing sense of terror as Deadpool gushed, “We were ki—OW!” Deadpool yelped in surprised pain as Spider-Man forcefully kicked him in the shin.  “Kicking bad guy butts,” Deadpool finished with a touch of petulance to his tone.

“Well, it’s ready,” the voice continued before tapering off, the rest too quiet for Spider-Man to able to make out.  He was only able to hear Deadpool’s side of the conversation.

“I definitely still want it, and I definitely still want it now,” Deadpool answered into the phone, then he rattled off their current address which he had somehow noticed while they were swinging through the city.  “Yeah, we’ll meet you down on the street.  Because we’re up on the roof.  Because it’s Spider-Man, of course.”

When Deadpool finished making arrangements, he hung up his cell and turned towards Spider-Man.  “Sorry about that,” he said quite apologetically.  “Next time though, I promise I’m not going to let some phone call interrupt us,” Deadpool assured.

Spider-Man retorted back, “Next time, leave off the Axe.  That stuff is worse than your usual stink!”

Deadpool stilled for a moment and looked at Spider-Man in wonder.  Spider-Man worried perhaps that he had gone too far, but he hadn’t thought that joke was any worse than the ones they often lobbed at each other.

“You just admitted that there will be a next time,” Deadpool marveled.

“I—what?” Spider-Man stammered.  

“You just said ‘next time’,” Deadpool pointed out.

“No—I didn’t mean…shut up!”

***********************

Deadpool watched with amusement as Spider-Man pulled his mask back down and stalked to the edge of the roof away from him.

He’s so cute when he’s angry.

And it’s more fun teasing him when we can actually see him blush.

‘I know, right?  It makes me want to be mean to him just so I can keep those cheeks red.’

He’ll pound you into the ground.

And then he’ll never kiss us again.

He’ll never kiss us again as is.

Deadpool ignored the boxes’ pessimistic words.  Nothing was going to bring him down, not tonight.  It was the best night of his life!  He got a kiss from his idol.  An actual real kiss!

And that was just the beginning.

Deadpool walked over and plunked himself down on the roof edge next to Spider-Man.  “The night’s still young, web-head, and you’re going to flip your lid when you see what’s coming our way!”  He draped an arm around Spider-Man’s shoulder.  Spider-Man stiffened at the touch, but he didn’t immediately shrug him off, so Deadpool counted it as another win.

As he kept an eye out for Weasel’s van, Deadpool grinned widely.  Spider-Man didn’t seem that enthused, but he would see.

Chapter Text

“Hey, ‘Pool.  How’s it hanging?”

“I’m not even at half-mast!” Deadpool complained.

“I…” the man started before he thought better and changed what he was going to say. “...Don’t really want to know.”

Spider-Man eyed the man curiously.  He was a lean, nerdy-looking guy who had brown hair, round glasses, and unshaven scruff along his jaw.  He was wearing loose, casual pants and a button down shirt, unbuttoned enough to show a classic Bat-Man tee underneath.  Besides looking about ten or so years older than Spider-Man, he was also taller, though not quite as tall as Deadpool.  He was also broader than Spider-Man but still managed to appear scrawny, lacking Spider-Man’s lean and well-developed muscles.  He sort of looked like what Spider-Man had imagined he might look like in another ten years if he hadn't gotten bitten by the radioactive spider.

The man noticed Spider-Man at this point, his eyes going wide in surprise and then he broke out in a very pleased grin.  He held out a hand.  “Since I doubt Wade is going to introduce us... not that you need any introduction... but I’m Weasel by the way.  Friend, minion, and tech-wiz for Deadpool.”

Spider-Man let Weasel take his hand and shake it firmly for a moment.  Weasel gushed, “Oh, wow.  Spider-Man.  Huge fan.  Not as much as this guy,” he pointed his thumb over at Deadpool.  “But you know all about that, huh?”  Spider-Man didn’t, but he didn't say anything.  He watched as Weasel nudged Deadpool on the arm and chuckled in a knowing way, “Wow, ‘Pool, I can’t believe you really are hanging out with Spider-Man.”

“I told you I was,” Deadpool said and his pout was visible through his mask.

“Yeah, but it’s hard to take much of what you say seriously," Weasel retorted.

“Oh come on, when am I not serious?”

“Like all the time.”

“Name one…”

“Just one?”

Spider-Man watched as the two men, obviously very familiar to each other, bantered back and forth.  He felt like a complete third wheel, like anytime he went to dinner with Krissi and Evan, not that they ever meant for him to feel left out, but they were just so lost in each other they sort of forgot about him.  Much like Deadpool was now.  

"You know, if you two are busy, I can go...," he muttered.  He had been trying for a joke, but his tone sounded more petulant than teasing, and he didn't know why he was feeling cranky.

Deadpool immediately came to his side and took his arm, leading him towards the van, and Spider-Man alternated between feeling annoyed that Deadpool was pulling him by his arm and feeling vindictively gleeful that Deadpool had immediately ditched Weasel in favor of him.

"No, no, you gotta see this!" Deadpool assured him, excitedly.  "I got this for you--well, not for you because it's for me, but because of you, so you haveta see it!"

Deadpool opened the back of the van and revealed an interior packed with electrical and mechanical devices.  Spider-Man stood in awe at the mess of tech.  He realized then that Deadpool’s arm was still latched around his and firmly took his arm back.  He didn’t want Weasel--or Deadpool--to get the wrong idea about the two of them.

Weasel came up beside Spider-Man as Deadpool jumped inside and ransacked the van.

"Soooo," Spider-Man said, awkwardly dragging out the ‘o’ sound.  "Have you known him for very long?"

"A few years," Weasel replied.  "Longer than most, though we met after it."

"It?" Spider-Man wondered.

"Y'know, Weapon X."

Spider-Man didn't know what Weasel was talking about, and he was annoyed by the man's over familiarity with both himself and with Deadpool.  But before he could ask, Weasel was yelling at Deadpool to be careful.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Deadpool dismissed.  After a little more searching, he seemed to have found what he was looking for.  Deadpool stepped out of the van, pulling something with him.  It was a sizable uneven square box made of metal.  It had two bumps at the top that looked almost gun like.  Spider-Man couldn't make heads or a tails of it, but Deadpool obviously knew what it was.  He slipped the device around his shoulders, wearing the it like a backpack, and then he secured it with a strap across his chest and a pair of straps around his stomach.  

“Spidey!  Spidey!” Deadpool demanded Spider-Man’s attention.  “Watch this!”

Deadpool pressed a button.  Nothing happened.

Spider-Man crossed his arms.  “I’m watching.  Not very impressed,” he deadpanned.

“Weasel!  You said you fixed it!  You’re ruining my badass moment that was sure to impress Spider-Man,” Deadpool scolded.

“Oops,” Weasel said as he came up beside Deadpool.  “After hitting a pothole and having the device pop open in the van, I added a lock.  Forgot to release it for you.”   He poked at the device, popping a bit of plastic off the back.  “There you go.”

This time when Deadpool pressed the button a pair of wings, made out of a multitude of thin metal plates, sprung out from the backpack.

"Oh my--!  Those are--!  Where did--?!  What are--?!" Spider-Man exclaimed, half reaching towards the wings, so excited that he was unable to form complete sentences.

Deadpool grinned under his mask.  "You like them, I take it?"

"Like them?  I love them!  These are amazing!"

Spider-Man examined the wings closely as Deadpool turned to let him get a full look at them.  "These are incredible!" Spider-Man gushed.  "I need, like medically need, to borrow these for ComicCon!"

Deadpool let out an indulgent laugh.  "You are such a nerd, Baby-Boy!"

Spider-Man pulled his hand back as he felt a pang of hurt at Deadpool calling him a nerd and laughing.  He knew that Deadpool was just teasing him, but it was all too familiar to the bullying he had suffered in school.  Deadpool was into as many geeky things as he was, but now that his good friend Weasel was here who knew all about Deadpool and his past and things that Deadpool had never even mentioned to Spider-Man, he was too cool and they were both laughing at him about what a kid he was.  He opened his mouth to tell Deadpool off, but before he could make a sound, Weasel snorted derisively.

“As if you hadn't been talking about the cosplay potential back at my house, 'Pool,” Weasel teased.

“Didn’t say I wasn’t one too,” Deadpool cheerfully replied and then he suddenly wrapped an arm around Spider-Man’s shoulder and pulled him close into a partial hug.  “That’s why Spidey and I are perfect together!” Deadpool exclaimed.

Spider-Man felt the warmth of pleasure envelop him.  His feelings were see-sawing all over the place and it was too much.  He shrugged out of Deadpool's embrace and spoke quickly, "So are the wings some sort of glider?  In case you fall off a roof or something?"

"Even better," Deadpool said, and if he was disappointed at how quickly Spider-Man had pulled away, he didn't sound it.  "But to get a proper demonstration, you'll need to get me to the roof."  He shrugged and the wings collapsed into the backpack again.

"Aaaaand that's my cue to head off," Weasel said.

"You're not going to stay to see this demonstration?" Spider-Man asked, though he wasn't unhappy to hear that Weasel was going to leave.

"Afraid to stick around in case it doesn't work?" Deadpool asked.

"As if you wouldn’t be able to track me down to kill me anywhere I could run if it didn’t work,” Weasel replied, and Spider-Man wasn’t quite sure if it was a joke or not.  Weasel continued, “Besides, I KNOW it's going to work.  Because I fixed it.  When I fix things, they stay fixed.  But I saw it in action plenty already, I don't need to see it again, particularly if you're going to be climbing up to the roof."

"Scared of heights, eh, Weaz?"

"I’m just fine with heights, ‘Pool.  I'm only scared of high places when I have to rely on you to keep me from falling to my death.  Anyway, you two crazy kids have fun, I'm going to actually go to sleep like a normal person."

Deadpool didn't wait around to see Weasel off, immediately turning instead to Spider-Man and pointing towards the roof.  "Up!" he demanded.

"Alright, alright, your wish is my command," Spider-Man muttered as he reached out to grab Deadpool by the waist.

"Re-ally?" Deadpool sing-songed as he dodged around Spider-Man’s outstretched arm and wrapped his own arms around Spider-Man's neck and shoulders, pulling himself into a piggy-back position.  He whispered low into Spider-Man’s ear, "Because I've got plenty of wishes for your command..."

His cheeks burned and he reflexively ducked his head.  Yeah, no.  He was officially done with this crap.

"Do you want me to bring you up to the roof or do you want me to drop you to the ground and never talk to you again?" Spider-Man grumbled.  He shook his shoulders roughly, almost causing Deadpool to tumble off of his back.  Deadpool yelped and tightened his grip.  

"You're too interested in seeing what these wings do to do that," Deadpool challenged, but didn't continue with the flirting, so Spider-Man relented and carried him up the side of the building.

Once at the top, Spider-Man turned so Deadpool could climb off onto the roof. Deadpool gave him a squeeze instead.

“Seriously, Deadpool, there still isn’t a groping clause to our deal, so if you don’t knock it off I’m going to knock you off,” Spider-Man threatened while turning so he was holding Deadpool just over the edge.

“If that’s what it takes to get a hug...” Deadpool responded cheerfully.  “Okay.” And then he let go.

“No!” Spider-Man screamed as he whirled around, reaching out in vain to catch Deadpool from falling to a grizzly death.

Except Deadpool wasn’t falling to his death.  He was gliding through the air, wings unfurled.

“Deadpool, you crazy son of a...You nearly took a dozen years of life off me.  I don’t know if I want to kill you or ki-kill you.”

“You said ‘kill’ twice.”

“You scared the poop out of me, damn right I said kill twice,” Spider-Man grumbled.

“Aww, Spidey, don’t be mad.  Watch this!” Deadpool exclaimed as he pressed a switch on the harness and suddenly Spider-Man’s anger vanished.

“OH MY GOD IT’S A FREAKING JETPACK!”

“I know, right?!” Deadpool crowed as he zipped around.

“OH MY GOD JETPACK!”  Spider-Man bounced like a kid that just entered FAO Swartz for the first time.  He couldn’t help it...it was a freaking jetpack with retractable wings!  It was the coolest thing he’d ever seen short of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit, Captain America, or hell, any of the Avengers really, but short of that, it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen!

Deadpool looped around, diving and zooming through the air for a while before he landed with panache beside Spider-Man.

"Those are so amazing!"

Deadpool preened at the praise, flexing his shoulders to show the wings off.

"Can I try them?" Spider-Man asked, hope filling his voice.

"They've got a pretty steep learning curve on how to use them," Deadpool hemmed

"But you just got them," Spider-Man asserted.

"I got then a few weeks ago and spent a few intense days trying them out.  How do you think they got damaged?  I have a healing factor so I didn't need to be very careful."

"Oh," Spider-Man said, disappointed.  It made sense, and Deadpool was actually being reasonable, but Spider-Man longed to try flying with a real jetpack.

"But I can take you with me," Deadpool offered.  "Carry you in my arms while I use the wings."

"Really?" Spider-Man exclaimed.

"Yup!  Come here and I'll hold you."

Spider-Man grinned, thrilled at the thought of soaring through the city on an actual jetpack.

"So, Princess Leia style or Princess style?” Deadpool asked.

“Wha?”

“Princess Leia style,” Deadpool repeated and mimed holding a person to his side.  “Or Princess style?”  He motioned a scooping motion, holding an imaginary Spider-Man in his arms like the classic newlywed bride.

“Neither?” Spider-Man questioned in response.  “I vote for option C.”

“There isn’t an Option C.  Piggy-back won’t work with the jetpack,” Deadpool reasoned.

That was true, Spider-Man begrudged, but surely there was another option.  But he couldn’t quite figure out how else he could be carried and he really just wanted to try them already, so whatever.  “Princess Leia style,” he concluded.

Deadpool grinned.  “C’mere then.”

Spider-Man stepped over beside Deadpool and let himself be scooped up with Deadpool’s right arm so he was pressed up against his chest.  Deadpool seemed to be waiting for something.

“Well?” Spider-Man questioned.

“I’m waiting for my ‘for luck’,” Deadpool answered.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Spider-Man said crossly.

“When Luke held Princess Leia like this, for luck, she gave him a kiss,” Deadpool explained.

“Yeah, not happening.  You already got a kiss for one, and two, you’re not swinging me across an unnecessary trench in the Death Star.”

“My jetpack, my rules,” Deadpool pouted.

This was stupid, and shameless, but in the movie it was just a peck on the cheek and he could do that, stupid as it was.  “Fine, whatever.”

Before Spider-Man could really move, Deadpool added, “And you have to say, ‘for luck’.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Spider-Man grumbled instead.  With his mask still firmly down, he leaned up towards Deadpool’s cheek.

At the last moment, Deadpool turned his head quickly, so instead of kissing him on the cheek, Spider-Man kissed Deadpool straight on the mouth.  Spider-Man gave a muffled squeak of surprise before he pulled back.  Deadpool was practically glowing with self-satisfaction.

“I don’t see why you wanted to do that.  That wasn’t much of a kiss.  It was through our masks, stupid," Spider-Man muttered, feeling flustered again.

“We could do it again, without the masks,” Deadpool offered gleefully.

“Get on with it already,” Spider-Man grumbled. “I want to try these wings out!”

"As you wish..."

And without further delay, Deadpool was off the roof.  Spider-Man’s brain shut down and he just enjoyed the rush.

*********************

Over an hour later, when Deadpool landed them back on the same roof, Spider-Man was breathless and, even with his mask on, Deadpool could tell he was glowing.  

“Oh em gee that was so freaking awesome!” Spider-Man exclaimed as he danced around the roof.

Deadpool had known that Spider-Man would love these wings, and he wasn't disappointed by his reaction.  Seeing how excited and happy Spider-Man was made it totally worth the effort it had taken to get the wings, to pay Weasel's exorbitant fees, as well as the pain--and dying--involved in learning how to use them.  Completely worth it.

Spider-Man was too keyed up with excitement to sit still.  He sat, then immediately was back on his feet, talking constantly in a rush that Deadpool couldn’t follow.  Deadpool for once was keeping quiet, just basking in the glow of Spider-Man’s happiness.

This night was officially the best night of his life.

It’s not going to last.  Tomorrow will be here all too soon.

‘You can’t let me have one night?’ Deadpool mentally cursed at the yellow-box.

No sense getting your hopes up.

He doesn't like you.

Not like you like him.

Deadpool knew that.  He knew Spider-Man was straight, and even if he wasn't, there was no way a hero like Spidey would be interested in a hideously scarred-up, no-good loser like him.  Deadpool knew that the kiss might have been the best thing to happen to him in a very long while but it didn't mean anything to Spider-Man, other than an unpleasant thing he had foolishly promised to do.  Deadpool knew that all too well, which was why he had tried hard to keep acting like normal after their kiss so Spidey wouldn’t freak out.  And even then, Spider-Man had still been tense and on edge around him until the whole flying thing.

Like now, after finally coming down from the adrenaline high from flying, Spider-Man sat crouched down on the tips of his toes, looking anxiously over at Deadpool.

He looks like he wants to say something but isn’t sure how to say it.

Probably wants us to know the kiss didn't mean anything.

Deadpool knew it, but that didn't mean he wanted to hear it.  He couldn't stand the idea of Spider-Man letting him down right now, so instead Deadpool decided to distract him with something else.  He reached into a pouch and pulled out the plastic bottle he had used earlier that evening to catch the blood sample from pajama party escapee guy.  

Deadpool held out the bottle for Spider-Man, who looked at it with his head cocked to the side in puzzlement.  It took Spider-Man a moment before he realized what the bottle was.

“Um,” Spider-Man started, then stopped.  He collected himself and tried again.  “I’m going to need to test this, but, that is, I don’t have ready access to the type of equipment I need.  I’m running into the same problem testing the drug sample I got.  I’ve done all that I can do on my own and it’s just not enough.  I need access to better labs.”

Deadpool nodded.  “Do you know any labs with the type of equipment you need?”

“Yes.  M--The Empire State University chemistry lab should have some.  Based on the chemistry department’s website.”

“Cool!  I’ve always wanted to go to college!”

You never went?

‘I enlisted in the army instead.’ Deadpool informed the box.

It’s nearly impossible to get accepted into college when you drop out of highschool and never bothered getting a GED.

Spider-Man shifted, his very stance screaming that he was uncomfortable.  “The thing is, we can’t just walk in there and use the lab…”

“Why not?”

“Because we’re not students there for one, and more importantly, we can’t risk other people finding out about this drug.  If even a hint of this drug fell into the wrong hands…”  Spider-Man shuddered.

“So there is a lab that we can use, but we can’t actually use it,” Deadpool summed up.  “So what can we do?”

“Um,” Spider-Man hesitated again.  “I was thinking maybe of going into the lab during hours when it is not in use by the students.  And maybe without securing express permission first.”

“Are you saying we’re going to break into the lab?” Deadpool asked, not quite believing the conclusion he was drawing from Spider-Man’s statements.

“Yes,” Spider-Man begrudgingly affirmed.

“You’re supposed to be a hero, Spidey, that isn’t--”

“I know that!” Spider-Man thundered as he shot to his feet.  “Do you think I don’t know that?!  Do you think I haven’t had this knot in my stomach constantly eating away at me for the past month?!  Do you think I would be suggesting this if I wasn’t desperate?!  If I hadn’t exhausted all my other options?!  I’ve run all the tests I know on all the equipment I can… I’ve shaken down all the pushers and users I’ve run into… I’ve scoured the internet...I DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO!”

He was pacing, furiously gesturing with his hands as he continued, “And the worst part of it all is, I don’t know if this drug even does what it’s said to do!  If I could somehow be certain, I would at least feel justified in cutting corners.  But I don’t know!  All I have this gut feeling.  Everytime I look at that drug sample, my Spid--my every instinct is screaming at me that this stuff is dangerous!”

“You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Spider-Man sighed deeply.  He slumped onto the edge of the roof beside Deadpool, exhausted from his explosion.  “So, will you help me?”

Deadpool shook his head.  “I came here to learn how to be a hero from you, Spidey.  What you’re asking isn’t being a hero.  It’s work.”

“So you’d do it if I paid you?” Spider-Man asked, a touch of bitterness in his voice.

“Well, yes,” Deadpool answered.

Duh.

Deadpool shrugged unrepentantly.  “I’m a mercenary.  It’s what I do.”

The whole “merc” part of “merc with a mouth”.

“Deadpool,” Spider-Man said quietly, looking down ashamed.  “I don’t have anywhere near the kind of money to hire you.”

“Relax, Baby-Boy.  It’s ok,” Deadpool waved him off unconcerned.  “I wouldn’t ask you for my regular rate.  You don’t need to pay like that.”

“Well, what would you take?” Spider-Man asked, resigned.

“Maybe another kiss?”

That’s prostitution, you ass.

I think he’s trying for romantic.

Romantic or creepy?

Oh definitely creepy, but he’s trying for romantic.

When Spider-Man looked away and didn’t respond immediately, Deadpool panicked.  “It doesn’t have to be on the mouth,” he said quickly.  “On the cheek is ok.”  

He just wanted to feel Spider-Man’s lips on his skin again, but then he thought about how his skin was sores and scars.  It was nasty, and he realized that Spidey was probably disgusted at the thought and wouldn’t want that.  Desperately he amended, “We can leave the masks on, that would be ok.”

Spider-Man looked at him at last, and with the mask, Deadpool couldn’t tell what he was thinking at all.  

“So that’s it?  You’d be ok with that?  A kiss?” Spider-Man asked, and Deadpool desperately tried and failed to get a read on his tone.  Was he disgusted by the idea?  Amused?  Turned on?  Anything?  Bueller?

“Yes?” Deadpool replied questioningly.

“The job might take more than a single night,” Spider-Man noted.  “Depending on the results that we get or don’t get, it might be weeks.  So it would be a kiss per night?”

“Okay?” Deadpool asked, not quite believing the direction of the conversation.  He certainly wasn’t going to negotiate down from what Spider-Man was offering.

Spider-Man continued, sounding more confident as he went along, “And you’d get the kiss at the end of the night, so if you fool around or screw around, you don’t get it.  It’s payment only for good behavior.”

Deadpool nodded.  “That’s fair.”

“We’ll start this on Friday.”

“Friday?” Deadpool questioned.

“Yes.  Nobody will be in the lab on a Friday night,” Spider-Man remarked, sounding like he was speaking from personal experience.  “And we’re going to need to go in and out quietly, and I know you don’t like doing that, but you said you could for some jobs, and this is a job, and we don’t want anyone to know we’re there.”

Quiet-like is never as much fun.

We could pretend we’re ninja.  Ninja are fun.

“I got it,” Deadpool agreed.

“And I know you just got them and they are awesome, but you’re going to have to leave the jetpack wings behind for this mission.”

Aww, but our wings…

“Aww, but our wings…”

“I know,” Spider-Man said, sounding just as disappointed as Deadpool felt.  “But they’re too noticeable.  Anyway, it’s just for Friday.  We’ve got a few days before then; you can use your wings for our regular patrols.”

Deadpool grinned.  “Deal.”

“Alright then.  We’ll meet tomorrow night at the usual time and place, Okay?”

Arrangements concluded, Spider-Man took his leave, swinging away into the night.  Deadpool watched until he was completely out of sight.

Shameless.

Pathetic.

“He’s going to kiss us again!”

You’re just setting yourself up for heartbreak.

He probably was and he didn’t care.  In a few days’ time, Spider-Man was going to kiss him again and nothing, no matter what the boxes said, was going to bring him down.  Deadpool stepped off the roof and let the wings take him home.

Chapter Text

Spider-Man arrived at the meet-up place before Deadpool.  He was never the first one to arrive.  Alright, he had once, but that was a week ago when Deadpool first got back into the city, and that hardly counted.  But other than that, he never got to the meeting place first, and he couldn’t help but feel a knot of anxiety in the pit of his stomach.  What if Deadpool didn’t show up?  What if Deadpool had left the city again, without saying anything?  What if he had disappeared for good?  

He strained his eyes, staring into the dark streets for any sign of Deadpool.  Relief flooded him as he spotted Deadpool approaching from down the street.  

“Sorry I’m late, Spidey,” Deadpool said as he drew closer.  “I forgot how much longer it takes to get here when I’m walking and not flying.”

He wasn’t late, technically.  Deadpool had arrived exactly at the time they had arranged to meet up, but since Deadpool was always there before Spider-Man, he was late by showing up on time.

“Did I make you wait long, Sweetums?” Deadpool asked coyly.

Politeness dictated that he should dismiss the tardiness as nothing, but instead, Spider-Man found himself unexpectedly blurting out, “Yes.  Don’t do it again.”

“Aw, I’m sorry, Baby-boy.  You know there’s no place I’d rather be than with you.”

Spider-Man harrumphed in response, but he wasn’t quite sure if Deadpool was just play-acting or--

Suddenly, his Spidey Sense flashed.

“Shiney!  What’s that--?” Deadpool started to ask but was cut off as Spider-Man slammed into him, pushing him to the ground as a bullet shattered into the wall they had been standing in front of.

Deadpool used the momentum of their fall to roll them over, so he was now the one on top, his gun somehow already in hand as looked around wildly, trying to find the source of the shot.

His Spidey Sense flashed again.  Spider-Man jumped to his feet, lifting Deadpool with him.  A bullet dug into the ground where they had been laying.  Half carrying, half tugging, Spider-Man pulled Deadpool with him into a nearby alcove.

Spider-Man peered around the corner, but another flash of his Spidey Senses forced him to pull back.  Another bullet bit into the brick wall where he had been seconds before.

**********

When Spider-Man peered around the corner, Deadpool wanted to yank Spider-Man backwards, safe into the back edge of the alcove.  Deadpool saw another flash of shiny around Spider-Man’s head just before he ducked back, narrowly dodging another shot.

What is that?

‘Later.  We’ve got more important things to deal with.  Like who is shooting at us!’

Spider-Man muttered something and peered around the corner again.  Deadpool noticed another shimmery halo that flashed around Spidey’s head as he pulled back into the alcove.  A bullet whizzed past a second later.

“Got him.”

“Got him?” Deadpool questioned.

He knows where the sniper is?

“Spidey, did you just math the sniper’s whereabouts?”

“Based on the angles and velocity of the shots, the sniper is on the seventh floor of the Rand building.  The one abandoned on the edge of the battle site.”

Fuck me, he mathed it in his head.

“I am so turned on right now,” Deadpool exclaimed breathily.

**************

Spider-Man ignored Deadpool, focusing on the danger at hand.  “Ok, Deadpool, here’s what we’re going to do: you’re going to stay and make it look like we’re trapped, to keep the sniper’s attention here.  I’m going to climb up this wall, swing over the roof tops, and sneak up behind our sniper.”

Even as he was saying this, Spider-Man expected Deadpool to vehemently object, saying it would be too dangerous for Spider-Man to go.

To his surprise, Deadpool nodded readily.  “Good plan.  Hurry though.  He might not stick around since his initial shots failed.”

*****************

In a flash, Spider-Man was up the wall, over the roof, and out of sight.

Damn is he spry.

Deadpool waited another beat before he peered around the corner.  He pulled back just in time to miss a headshot.  Sniper was still focused here, so far, so good.  However, by the third time Deadpool peered around the corner, the gun shots had stopped.

That's not good.

No, it wasn't.  Cautiously, Deadpool slid out of the alcove and moved down the street, frequently ducking behind things for cover for the first half block.  When gunshots still failed to rain down on him, he knew the sniper was no longer focused on him.  Either the sniper had given up, or he had noticed Spider-Man circling around.

The Rand building stood derelict directly in front of him.  It was one of the office buildings decimated in the Battle of New York.  It had been cordoned off with police-tape but otherwise left to rot for the past year, stuck in the vast morass of corporate funding and red tape limbo.  The steel frame was still in place, and there were floors, but the floor-to-ceiling windows that had made up the walls were mostly all gone, shattered during the battle.  Heavy plastic was wrapped around parts of the building, to keep the dust in, or something, but over the months it had ripped and torn, and now flapped in the wind eerily.   It was the skyscraper equivalent of that creepy falling-apart-house that seemed to exist in every rural town.

All it needs now is thunder and lightning.

T’was a dark and stormy night--

An explosion burst from the side of the Rand building, several stories up.

Close enough.

Deadpool abandoned all pretense of stealth and sprinted flat out down the street.

************

Over the rooftops, Spider-Man made his way towards the sniper’s location as quickly as he could while still keeping out of sight.  He came up to the Rand building from the side, easily slipping into the structure from one of the gaping maws that had once been covered in glass.  

His calculations had been correct.  He could see the sniper lying on his stomach on the floor at the edge of the building, peering through a scope that was aimed in the direction towards where Deadpool was hiding.

Spider-Man snuck closer but then he stopped abruptly when he realized the figure on the floor wasn't actually the sniper, but a life sized doll.  

And then the doll exploded.  Spider-Man leapt back more out of surprise than any sense of danger.  His Spidey Senses hadn't been triggered.  What was going on?  Whatever that explosion was about, it wasn't to hurt him.

No, Spider-Man realized.  It was to draw attention.  And not his, but the actual target of this attack--Deadpool’s.

A quick glance down the street revealed that the trap had worked to draw him out...Deadpool was completely out in the open, running down the street towards the Rand building in an erratic zig and zag method that Spider-Man could only guess was in an attempt to dodge bullets.  Spider-Man had no way to warn Deadpool to stay back.

Spider-Man made a running leap, his arms stretched out wide and his back arched in a swan dive out of the building.  Once clear of the window frame, he whipped his right wrist out, sending out a strand of web.  He grasped it and swung.

Another web strand later, he was approaching Deadpool, who reached his arms up, letting Spider-Man grab him.

"Are you alright?" Deadpool called out into his ear.

"Yes," Spider-Man shouted in reply.  "It was a trap.  For you."

“I know!” Deadpool shifted in Spider-man’s arms, looking around.  “There!”

Spider-Man seamlessly changed the direction of his swing so he could look towards where Deadpool was pointing.  There was a dark shape silhouetted against the open maw of one of the Rand building’s broken windows, a few floors up from the section still smoldering from the explosion.

Spider-Man brought them up along a nearby building, using the wall to launch them in the other direction, back towards the Rand building.  The figure ducked out of sight.

“He’s getting away!” Deadpool called out.

“Not for long!” Spider-Man grimly replied as he picked up the pace.

Spider-Man swung up to the tenth floor where they had last seen the figure.  When he landed, he let go of Deadpool and they both started to investigate their surroundings.

It was an open area, made even more open by the lack of most of the exterior walls or windows, though there were a few walls where the bathrooms, stairs, and elevator were.  Most of the furniture was gone, but a few broken desks, chairs, and cubicle walls remained, cluttering up the area.  

Three figures stepped out of the darkness.  Two were men, dressed sharply in business suits, and the third was an Asian woman, wearing a fitted black leather coat.  One of the guys was middle aged with a slightly receding hairline and a kind face and the other was younger, though he looked to be at least ten years older than Spider-Man.  He was tall, though of average build, and had short brown hair.  It was a little hard to place the age of the woman, but she had some age lines around her eyes and Spider-Man guess she was about the same age as the older man, but she had such a controlled, collected aura that Spider-Man wondered if she was as much as a bad-ass as she looked like she was.  Each of them held a gun pointed at Deadpool.

“Ah, Agent Coulson, Agent May,” Deadpool called out in greeting.  “And...I don’t know who you are, Agent Bland.”

“The name is Ward,” the young man corrected.

“Nah, I think ‘Bland’ suits you better,” Deadpool said dismissively.

“Agents?” Spider-Man questioned.

“We are agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Coulson spoke up.  “We’re sorry to involve you in this, Spider-Man, but we’re here for Deadpool.”

Spider-Man placed himself between them and Deadpool.  “I’m not going to let you kill him,” Spider-Man announced.

“We are really going to have to talk about your habit of putting yourself between me and people pointing guns at me,” Deadpool growled.

“Not now,” Spider-Man hissed back.

“We are not here to kill him--” Coulson started.

Spider-Man cut him off, “Could have fooled me.  Or do you always shoot at people that you don’t mean to kill?”

“I shot near him not at him,” May broke in.  “And a bullet isn’t going to kill him.”

“So that makes shooting him okay?” Spider-Man growled derisively, his disappointment in their tactics making him bitter.

“Aw, Spidey, it’s so sweet that you’re trying to stand up for me, but do you think maybe you could stand up for me behind me and... that... that sounded better in my head...”

“Not the time for this,” Spider-Man insisted to Deadpool.

Spider-Man didn’t particularly want to fight against S.H.I.E.L.D.--he wanted to join them, not fight them!  But at the same time, he wasn’t going to let them just take Deadpool, not for no reason!

A sudden thought came unbidden to his mind.  Maybe they DID have a reason.  What had Deadpool been up to in those weeks he had been gone?

He glanced back at Deadpool.

Spider-Man didn’t know who started it.  He didn’t know if Deadpool saw his look back as a sign to attack or if the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents took advantage of his distraction.  It seemed to happen instantaneously.  In that moment when he glanced back, the shooting started and Spider-Man was caught up in the fight against S.H.IE.L.D. whether he wanted it or not.

Deadpool knocked Spider-Man down, pushing him behind some cover as he and the agents exchanged gunfire.  After a moment, Deadpool tossed something towards the agents, which proved to be a small grenade.  May kicked it, sending the grenade rolling off the edge of the building.  A moment later there was a loud explosion, much larger than it seemed there should be from a grenade, and the building violently shook.

“What the hell was in that grenade?” Spider-Man shouted.

“It wasn’t my grenade!” Deadpool countered.

Some of Spider-Man’s incredulous expression must have come across through his mask, as Deadpool continued, “Okay, it was my grenade, it wasn’t just my grenade.  It must have triggered some other explosives down there.”

“Somebody else must be using this building for something,” Ward noted.

“I did say we needed to investigate more before we selected this site as our fight location,” May added.

“Your ‘I told you so’ is noted, May,” Coulson informed her.

Deadpool used their distraction to leave his cover to engage the agents more directly.  In a flurry of motion, guns, swords, and fists, Deadpool, Coulson, and May moved across the floor as if in a complicated dance sequence, leaving Spider-Man behind.  Spider-Man wanted to run after Deadpool to yell at him not to use his guns, and not to hurt anyone, let alone kill them, but for one, he didn’t think Deadpool would have listened in the middle a fight when it looked like all three of them were going all out, and two, Ward was blocking his way.

Ward started to raise his gun at him, but Spider-Man dashed forward, his amazing speed catching the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent by surprise.  Spider-Man took advantage of his brief shock and kicked the gun out of Ward’s hand.  Ward recovered and tried to grab Spider-Man, who flipped himself backwards out of reach.

They stood and sized each other up.

“I don’t want to fight you,” Spider-Man told him.

“I don’t want to fight you either,” Ward replied, and Spider-Man felt some hope that he could deescalate the situation.  “But I do want to knock you out so you can’t help Deadpool anymore.  Would you like to walk into my fist?”

“Yeah, that’s not happening.”  Spider-Man shook his head.  

Ward shrugged as if it was all the same to him.  “Then I would say we’re fighting.”

Ward launched himself forward, throwing a hard punch at him that Spider-Man barely dodged.  Spider-Man had the advantage with his super strength and speed, and he had disarmed Ward, but the agent was quite skilled in hand-to-hand combat.  It didn’t help that Spider-Man didn’t actually want to hurt Ward and so he kept his strength in check.  S.H.I.E.L.D. agents weren’t his enemies.  They were the good guys!

It was a much closer fight than it should have been; Spider-Man didn’t actually know how to fight.  He had never taken martial arts classes, he was the one beaten up in school, not the one beating up others, and he could generally just use his speed, strength, and webs to take out any of the criminals and bad guys since he started being a super-hero.  Spider-Man resolved that if they survived the night and weren’t arrested, he was going to ask Deadpool to help train him.

***********

Deadpool dropped his guns at some point during the fight.  With the building shaking here and there, and the fast pace of their fight, he was a little turned about and it would be too easy for any of them to let out a shot that went wrong and hit Spidey, and he couldn’t risk that.  Besides which, May and Coulson were too skilled for him to shoot to disarm which meant shoot to kill and he didn’t think Spidey would take kindly to that happening where Deadpool couldn’t deny doing it.

If Spidey wasn't here...

Then that might have been another story, but at the moment that was neither here nor there.  The guns were dropped and Deadpool moved in close for hand-to-hand and the occasional hand-to-sword, which prevented either of the two agents from doing much with their guns either.

Deadpool had tangled with both Coulson and May in the past, though not at the same time before.  Coulson generally didn’t go out into the fight himself, but he’d been around during the couple of times Deadpool had tangled with Hawkeye and Black Widow.  May, of all the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents he’d ever fought with, was one of only a few that had ever taken him down on her own.  Having both deadly badass and sexy badass teamed up against him, yeah, S.H.I.E.L.D. was going all out to bring him in this time.

His fight was pretty much a stalemate.  An actively ongoing action-oriented stalemate but a stalemate all the same.  Anytime Deadpool thought he might have the advantage over one of them, the other was suddenly there.  Deadpool didn’t think he would be able to get out of this without going for a kill move and if he did that he could pretty much kiss any chance of being around Spider-Man again good-bye.  But if he didn’t, he was going to be killed, or worse, captured and he didn’t much like those options either.  This wasn’t going to end well.

***********

As the fight continued, Spider-Man found that Ward had the advantage; training was better than raw strength it seemed.  Ward sent him flying back with a kick.  Spider-Man was slammed into a structural beam.  He could feel the complex shake as he slumped to the ground.  He just barely managed to dodge out of the way as Ward came at him again.

**************

The building gave another violent shudder.  Deadpool glanced around and saw Agent Bland had slammed Spider-Man into a steel beam.  Spider-Man slumped down for a moment, before rolling to dodge a blow from the agent.  In general, Spidey seemed to be doing alright in his fight with Agent Bland.  At the very least, he wasn’t dead or knocked down, so that was something.  In the quick glances that Deadpool had allowed himself during the fight, he saw the Spidey might have strength and speed, but he was not the most skilled of fighters.  Assuming they got out of this alive and uncaptured, he was totally going to start giving Spider-Man some fighting lessons.  If they were going to have run in with S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents or similar groups, Deadpool would feel better if he knew Spidey had some actual combat training.

That last glance towards Spider-Man proved to be one too many; May grabbed his arm and Deadpool knew that unless something pretty dramatic happened, this was pretty much going to be the end of the fight.

****************

Spider-Man was able to flip Ward, knocking him onto the floor hard.  Perhaps too hard.  There was a woosh of exhaled breath, and Spider-Man knew he had knocked the wind out of the agent for at least a moment.  Taking advantage of knocking Ward down, Spider-Man dashed away.  He turned a corner and was shocked to find a young woman, about his age, kneeling on the ground, peering out at the fight between Deadpool, May, and Coulson.

They both startled at finding the other right there.

“Who--?!” Spider-Man started to ask, but she hushed him, pulling back some into the shadows, clearly not wanting to be seen by the others.

Who was she and what was she doing here?  But Spider-Man didn’t get to wonder for long.  The building shook  and there was a loud crack.

Spider-Man grabbed her wrist, pulling her away from the crumbling walls, out into the main area.  The creaking continued to echo around them.  Suddenly, the floor above them came crashing down towards them.  Without thought, Spider-Man instantly shielded her from the falling blocks with his own body.

**************

The floor rumbled again.  There was a large cracking noise and Deadpool turned towards the sound.  He watched as across the room a part of the floor above came crashing down.  And of course, Spider-Man was there, right in the center of the falling rubble, using his body to cover some woman from the falling debris.

“No!” Deadpool called out, too late.  Spider-Man vanished from sight.

That doesn’t look good.

No, it doesn’t.

The building was still shaking.  “Skye!” Coulson called out.  He left Deadpool behind, stumbling across the unsettled floor towards where Spider-Man and the woman had disappeared.

Deadpool would have been right there beside him, but May still held his arm tightly.  He pulled forward, reaching out with his free hand to grab one of his fallen swords.  May moved herself behind Deadpool, using his own body to block from the sword.  But that didn’t matter.  In a seamless motion, Deadpool sliced off his own arm.  May stumbled as the arm came loose in her hand, and Deadpool followed up the slice with a swinging back kick, sending May off the edge of the building.

Without another thought for her, Deadpool left his arm where it lay and ran across the floor.  He only managed to get a few feet before the floor in front of him gave way, a gaping wound opening up in the concrete that he just avoided plunging through.

With no way to cross, Deadpool could only look uselessly at the rubble that Spider-Man was buried under.

Well, fuck.

Chapter Text

For the first time in a long while, Spider-Man was using the full extent of his strength.  It was only because of his strength that he was keeping them--he and the woman he’d rescued--from being crushed.  That wasn’t going to be the case much longer if he didn’t get them out from under the rubble.

He pushed himself to his feet, moving the block of concrete up slightly, creating a crack out.  The woman was unconscious; there was no way she was going to be able to crawl out on her own, and Spider-Man couldn’t push her out while at the same time keeping the block lifted up.

“He—help,” he tried to shout, but it came out weak and he didn’t know if his voice could be heard beyond the rubble pile he was buried under.

The small bit of light from the crack in the pile darkened.  Agent Ward peered in.  “Skye?!” he cried, his voice filled with desperation.

“She’s here!” Spider-Man answered, assuming that was the name of the woman.  “She’s alive, but she’s unconscious.  I can’t get her out.”

“Ward, get that pole over there to help brace the entrance,” Spider-Man heard Agent Coulson say.  Agent Ward’s shadow disappeared, only to be replaced by Agent Coulson’s.  A light flashed, and Spider-Man flinched and shut his eyes to avoid being blinded.  He blinked hard a few times before his eyes could adjust.

“Sorry, Spider-Man, I didn’t mean to blind you,” Agent Coulson calmly answered.  He had partially climbed into the cave of rubble, sliding in on his belly, and was holding up a small pocket flashlight.  He circled the light around the area.  He added, “I just needed to access the situation.”

“Um, the situation is she really needs to get pulled out of here and I’m not going to be able to hold this block up for much longer.”  His arms were already shaking from the exertion.

“Understood.  I am going to get Skye out now,” Agent Coulson informed Spider-Man.  “Have Ward brace the block here,” Agent Coulson indicated a spot with the light.  “Which should hold things up enough for you to get out next.”

Agent Coulson slid further in and latched his hands around Skye’s arms.  In a remarkably smooth motion, he pulled himself back out of the hole, taking the unconscious woman with him.

“Skye!” Spider-Man heard Agent Ward exclaim once Agent Coulson had pulled her out.  "What is she even doing here?  She was supposed to stay back on the Bus..."

“She’ll be fine. I’ll get her to FitzSimmons.  You need to get Spider-Man out.  Get the bar in there to help brace the block.”

Agent Ward was in the rubble cave moments later, pushing a wide bar of scrap metal in front of him.  It took a few tries with Spider-Man grunting ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ to place the bar where Agent Coulson had indicated.  Spider-Man waited until Agent Ward climbed out before he risked lowering the block down so it rested on the bar.  It didn’t feel very secure, but Spider-Man thought it would hold things long enough for him to get out.  At the very least, he had to hope it would because he knew he couldn’t last for much longer.

He slid himself out, with Agent Ward pulling him out the rest of the way.  The pile collapsed in on itself a panicked heartbeat after Spider-Man got clear.  Spider-Man found himself leaning on Agent Ward in a controlled slide to the ground.

“Thank you,” Spider-Man gasped out as he reached a seated position.

His body was shaking from nerves and adrenaline, and his breathing was ragged.  He didn’t see Agent Coulson or Skye, nor did he see Agent May.  After a moment he found Deadpool, who was inching himself across a large gaping hole in the floor on a precariously balanced pole.  Deadpool had just about reached the side Spider-Man was on when he realized why the crossing had been so difficult for Deadpool—he was missing his left arm.

“Deadpool?!” Spider-Man called out in alarm.  His legs were still shaking and he didn’t think he could get up fast enough to reach Deadpool if he fell.  Thankfully Deadpool didn’t need his help.  He made it over the pit and stood, looking over at where Spider-Man was sitting.

Agent Ward grasped Spider-Man’s upper arm tightly, and his Spidey Sense flashed just as he felt the press of metal against the back of his head and heard the distinctive click of a gun.

“Not one more step, Deadpool,” Agent Ward ordered.  Deadpool stopped where he was, several feet away.

“What are you doing?” Spider-Man asked, bewildered.  “I just saved your friend!”  At least, he thought she was a friend of the agents, considering how they called out her name and acted very relieved to see her alive.  But then, she had been hiding from them.  Well, it wasn’t like things weren’t complicated between he and Deadpool, so Spider-Man supposed he was safe enough inferring that the woman was part of their group in some sort of way and that Agent Ward shouldn’t be pointing a gun at the guy that just saved her life.

“And for that, I thank you,” Agent Ward replied.  “But this has nothing to with that.  My mission is to neutralize Deadpool, and now I have.”

“What do you want, Bland?” Deadpool growled.

“The name’s Agent Ward--”

“Nope.  Still Bland,” Deadpool cut in.

"...And what I want is for you to get on your knees, remove all of your weapons--and I mean all of them, then place your hand above your head, and surrender."

As Deadpool started a quickly growing pile of weapons at his feet, Spider-Man heard a scraping sound and for a moment he feared that the building was going to collapse or something else was going to fall apart.  He looked around and saw that on the other side of the floor, where Deadpool had been fighting before, Agent May was pulling herself up from over the edge of the building.  Had she fallen off during the collapse?

Despite having just climbed up, she seemed to take in the situation in an instant.  “Agent Ward, what are you doing?” A hint of disapproval sounded in her voice, and Spider-Man hoped she would get him to stop.

“Neutralizing Deadpool,” Agent Ward explained.

“That’s not necessary.  You can let go of Spider-Man now.  The fight is over.”

“Deadpool just chopped off his own arm and kicked you off a building.  I would say that this is necessary.”

Deadpool had chopped off his own arm?!  Why?  What had happened?  What had Spider-Man missed?

“Yeah, well, you got me.  Now let Spider-Man go.” Deadpool knelt down on the ground, putting his remaining hand on the back of his head.

Spider-Man felt frustrated.  He was supposed to be a hero, the one doing the rescuing, and here he was being taken hostage.  By the good guys.

“Agent Coulson isn’t going to like this,” Agent May insisted.  “Our target is Deadpool, not Spider-Man.”

“Deadpool cares what happens to him.  As long as I’ve got Spider-Man, Deadpool won’t do anything.”

Spider-Man didn’t think that was entirely true; he figured it was more likely due to Deadpool’s exhaustion from the previous fight, his lack of arm, and the fact that he was bleeding out that he had stopped more than Spider-Man being taken hostage.  And speaking of which...

“For pity’s sake, will you at least give him back his arm?!” Spider-Man interrupted.  He hated how they were talking around each other while Deadpool was bleeding profusely from his shoulder.

The building gave a few final soft shudders, like a toddler recovering from a massive tantrum, adding to the tenseness of the continued standoff.  After what felt like forever, Agent Coulson came down from the staircase.

“Skye?” Agent Ward questioned immediately.

“She’s with FitzSimmons.  She’s going to be fine.  Just a little banged up.”

There was a slight break as Agent Coulson said the name, such that Spider-Man was uncertain whether it was one name or two.

“How are they?” Agent May asked.

“They're all fine.  A little shaken up.  May, return Mr. Wilson’s arm, please, and then head upstairs.  There isn’t much you can do on that side of the room with the large hole between us. Help Simmons get Skye back to the Bus and tell Fitz to come down with the tablet.”

Ah, it was two names then.

Without hesitating, Agent May reached down, picked up the severed arm, and walked it over to the edge of the hole.  She tossed it across and it landed just in front of Deadpool before she walked away.

“Agent, may I reattach it, please?” Deadpool asked, his tone tinged with both bitterness and the sing songy quality of someone playing a children’s game.

“Sir, I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Agent Ward started.

“Shut up, Bland, the daddies are talking,” Deadpool snarled at him.

“I can start shooting off his toes, you know!”

Agent Ward,” Agent Coulson said, imbuing his name with the tone of absolute command.  Agent Ward stopped.

“Ward, put the gun away.  It’s not needed anymore.  Deadpool, you may reattach your arm.”

Agent Ward hesitated a beat but then complied.  As soon as Spider-Man felt the gun pull away from his head, he dove away from Agent Ward, dodging his attempt to grab him again.  Ignoring the aches in his body, Spider-Man tumbled across the floor so he could reach Deadpool’s side.

Deadpool was startled and nearly dropped his arm as Spider-Man placed himself between Deadpool and the two remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.

"Are you okay?" Spider-Man asked.

"Me?! Are YOU okay?!"

"You cut off an arm!" Spider-Man scolded.

“It seemed appropriate at the time.  And don’t worry, Baby-Boy, you know it’ll heal,” Deadpool reassured as he picked up his arm.  “Besides, YOU’RE the one that just had a building collapse on him!"

“It wasn’t the entire building, just a floor.  I’m fine.  A little banged up, and I am really going to want a long hot shower after this--”

Deadpool waved his severed arm over his head excitedly.  “Yay!  Shower-time at Spidey’s!”

“YOU are NOT invited,” Spider-Man quickly informed him.

“Aww!” Deadpool pouted and thankfully returned to holding his arm to the stump of his shoulder so they would reattach.

Agent Coulson coughed lightly to get their attention.  Spider-Man flushed as he turned back towards the agents.

“I’m sorry we had to involve you, Spider-Man, and I’m very sorry for any injuries you sustained during this conflict,” Agent Coulson said, and he did sound truly regretful.  “But the only time and place that we were certain to find Wilson was his daily meet-up with you.”

Spider-Man shook his head, annoyed at the agents.  “If you just wanted to ask some questions, you could have just talked with us…you didn’t have to fight.”

“With you, yes, we could have,” Agent Coulson agreed.  “But from past experience, Wilson won’t take us seriously if we didn’t beat him into submission first.”

Spider-Man was about to respond when he stopped and thought about it. He glanced behind him at Deadpool who shrugged.  “You’re probably right,” Spider-Man reluctantly concluded.

Deadpool giggled shamelessly.

There was the sound of footsteps coming from the stairs.  Another young man with short curly brown hair cautiously approached.  He carried a tablet tucked under his arm and he looked about the room anxiously.  He made his way towards Agent Coulson, his eyes wide and he kept glancing over at Deadpool.

“Here,” the man said, his voice thick with a Scottish or Irish brogue, as he handed over the iPad..

“Thank you, Fitz, you can go back to the Bus now,” Agent Coulson said in a calm voice, and Fitz didn't need to be told twice, he was practically running to get away.  

Agent Coulson calmly raised the tablet and swiped it on.  He pressed his finger to the screen, opening a program on it.  He explained to Deadpool and Spider-Man, “Several weeks ago, someone broke into a military complex.  Imagine our surprise when we found numerous videos appearing on social media this week of a certain crimson-costumed duo gallivanting around the city on a pair of mechanical wings that match the description of those stolen from said military complex.”

Spider-Man instinctively smacked his face with his palm.  Of course those wings were stolen.  Of course they were.

Deadpool crossed his arms and said definitely, “You can’t prove that I stole them.”

“Are you sure about that?” Agent Coulson asked.  

“Yes.” Then he muttered something, probably talking to himself, and Spider-Man desperately wished he heard wrong because it sounded like Deadpool had said, “Because I didn’t leave any evidence.”

“The intruder was very careful to take out all the security cameras as he moved through the facility, though we were able to capture a brief picture of him from one that he had missed.”

Agent Coulson turned his tablet to show a black and white security video showing a masked man step through the frame.  From the brief view, the man did seem to be of similar height and build as Deadpool, but he wasn’t wearing Deadpool’s iconic red and black costume.  He was wearing army fatigues, a long-sleeved top was that fitted but not as skin-tight as his usual top, gloves, and ski-mask.

“Doesn’t mean anything,” Deadpool scoffed.. “There are lots of people my height and build.”

“...who sang…”

The video continued, the masked intruder completely off camera, but a familiar raspy voice could be heard singing, “I can change, I can change, but I’m here…”

Agent Coulson turned the tablet off and tucked it back under his arm.  “You do have a rather distinctive voice, Deadpool.”

“Eh, that’s all circumstantial,” Deadpool dismissed, but there was a tenseness to his posture.

Spider-Man looked between Deadpool and Agent Coulson, not wanting to believe what he was learning, but there was no denying it.  “You stole the wings from the government?!” he sputtered to Deadpool.

Deadpool must have decided it wasn’t worth denying it anymore, for he replied to Spider-Man, “They weren’t using them anymore, so I recommissioned them.”

Spider-Man shook his head.  “You can’t ‘recommission’ them.  You need to be in the army to do something like that!”

“I used to be in the army.”  Deadpool pouted.

“The U.S. one.”

“That’s what I mean.”

“Wait,” Spider-Man said as he furrowed his brows in confusion.  “But, I thought…You said you were Canadian...”

“I am,” Deadpool agreed.

“But then…”

“It’s true,” Agent Coulson cut it.  “Wade Wilson has been in the United States Army.  He lied about his age and nationality, but considering his raw talent, it's not entirely surprising they initially let him get away with fudging his application.  But it should also not be surprising that before too long he was dishonorably discharged for insubordination.”

Deadpool shrugged.  "Their loss.  I went freelance after that, and the pay is much better.  Okay, yes, if you want to get technical,” he added, as if answering a question only he could hear, “ I did a thing with the Canadian government for a while in the middle there, but mostly I’ve been freelance since."

"So you're here for the wings," Spider-Man said as he turned back towards the agents.  He had really enjoyed riding on them with Deadpool, and it had made patrolling this week so much easier and more fun, but they were not only stolen, they were stolen from the government.

"Actually, no," Agent Coulson replied.  "The wings belong to the United States government, not S.H.I.E.L.D., and therefore they are not particularly a concern for us.  We want to know about the other group that broke into that military facility on the same night as your break in, Wilson.  The group that hired you to create a diversion to draw attention away from their infiltration of the same complex."

"I was just there for the wings," Deadpool insisted.

"If that was the case, you would have been in and out without being seen at all.”  Agent Coulson shook his head.  “No, you wanted to be seen by the guards."

Deadpool didn't reply, and Spider-Man felt his heat sink.  It was bad enough thinking about Deadpool stealing the wings, but to hear that he had done more criminal activities...

"We've already spoken with your associate, the man known as ‘Weasel’," Agent Coulson continued.  "We know about the job.”

“Well if you know about it, then what do you need me for?” Deadpool bit out.

“We need you to tell us everything you can about this group, who they are, where they can be found, how they contacted you, and what they were after."

Deadpool shrugged.  "It's not like they told me any of their plans.”

“Do not belittle my intelligence, Deadpool, as I do not belittle yours.  You wouldn’t have left the group alone without knowing at least some of their plans.”  Agent Coulson had a look of steel as he glared over at Deadpool.  Spider-Man looked back and forth between them in apprehension at their silent battle of wills.

“Alright already,” Deadpool muttered, but even in defeat, he crossed his arms and looked defiant.  “If I were to give you this information, what’s in it for me?  I’m a mercenary, I don’t do anything for free.”  He glanced over at Spider-Man and added quickly, “Except you, Baby-Boy!”

Spider-Man could feel his cheeks burning.  “Not like that!” He exclaimed in a rush so the agents wouldn’t get the wrong idea.  “I’m trying to teach him how to be a hero!”

“You’re doing a marvelous job,” Agent Ward muttered sarcastically.  At some point he had maneuvered himself so he was hovering behind them, his hand touching his gun.

“He didn’t kill a single person when he attacked the military complex,” Agent Coulson pointed out.  “The injured list was exhaustive, but he went through the base without a single fatality.  I can only imagine that it was due to Spider-Man’s influence.”

Spider-Man looked at Deadpool in amazement.  “Really?  You didn’t kill a single person?”  

“Aww!  Are you falling in love with me all over again, Spidey?” Deadpool gushed, throwing his arms around Spider-Man, pulling him into a tight embrace.

Spider-Man flushed.  He roughly pushed Deadpool off of him.  “Stop playing around!” he hissed.

Agent Coulson seemed to take pity on Spider-Man’s discomfort as he continued to answer Deadpool’s question, “We will give you two things in return for your information, Wilson.  First, we’ll let you go.  Second, we’ll smooth things over with the United States government regarding the theft of the wings, allowing you to keep them.”

“Yeah, but I’ve got the wings so they’re mine now.  I don’t care what the U.S. government thinks.”

I care!” Spider-Man insisted.

Deadpool seemed to consider this.  “If I do this for you, Spidey, I expect double payment tonight,” he concluded.

Spider-Man’s blush returned and he was really grateful that nobody could see it.  “How about you do this or you don’t get to follow me around anymore?” Spider-Man shot back.

“Aw, geez, Spidey, you drive a hard bargain!” Deadpool flopped down onto his back, his arms spread out to the side.  Thankfully his left arm had stayed attached.

“Yeah, well, that’s part of the whole ‘hero’ thing you say you want to learn, Deadpool; heroes.  Don’t.  Steal.  From.  The. Government!” Spider-Man roughly poked him in the side in time to each word.

“Alright, alright already!”  Deadpool rolled back up to a sitting position and turned towards Agent Coulson, his tone serious as he stated, “They’re smart.  Whatever contact info I have for them, they’ll have cleared out and scrubbed clean.  I doubt you’ll get much from the info.”

“Nonetheless,” Agent Coulson calmly replied, “They might have missed a security camera like you did.”

Deadpool nodded his head as he considered that.  Coming to a decision, he held out his hand expectantly at Agent Coulson.  “Bring that tablet over here and I’ll input what I know.”

Agent Coulson stepped over and passed the tablet to Deadpool.

“They were looking at a personnel database,” Deadpool explained as he typed.

“What sort of personnel?” Agent Coulson asked.

“Doctors.  Scientists.  People who had been part of some old project.  ‘A.V.E.’ or something like that.”

Agent Ward looked questioningly at Agent Coulson.  “Do you know about that project?”

Agent Coulson shook his head.  “No, it’s not one I’ve heard about.”

“Ask Fury,” Deadpool suggested.  “He’ll know.”

Agent Coulson looked at him sharply.  “What do you mean?”

“Because it’s Fury, he knows everything,” Deadpool explained.  He was quiet after that, absorbed in typing into the tablet.

Spider-Man had gotten up to stretch, and now he stood around feeling more than a little useless as Deadpool sat crossed-legged on the ground, hunched over the tablet, two-finger tapping onto its screen.

Agent Ward continued to hover behind them and cast dark glares at Deadpool and the occasional one at Spider-Man as well.  After a while, Agent Ward ripped the tablet away from Deadpool and snapped at him, “That’s it, you’re done.”

“Aww, but I was going to install Angry Birds!” Deadpool complained.

Agent Ward passed the tablet back over to Agent Coulson, who quickly scanned through the information Deadpool had inputted.

“I don’t think Agent May will take kindly to you referring to her as ‘the sexy badass agent’,” he said mildly to Deadpool.

“I would never call her that!” Deadpool exclaimed, scandalized.  “She’s the ‘deadly badass agent’.  YOU’RE the ‘sexy’ one.” He finger quoted as he explained.

“Oh.”  Agent Coulson responded rather impassively to the news.  He turned the tablet off, tucked it under his arm, and looked over at Deadpool and Spider-Man. “Thank you for your cooperation.”  Then he glanced over at Agent Ward and nodded.  They walked past the rubble and down the hall to the staircase.

Spider-Man waited until he could no longer hear their footsteps before he turned to Deadpool, who was re-equipping all his weapons he had been forced to disarm before.  “Well, we should get out of here too.”

“Could you swing me over to the other side of the pit?  I don’t think I’m much up for climbing over again and my swords and several of my guns are all over there.”

Spider-Man hooked his arm around Deadpool’s waist, shot web to a sturdy looking beam overhead, and swung them across.

While Deadpool gathered up the last of his weapons he asked, “Are we still breaking into the school lab tonight, Mr. Hypocritically Angry at me for breaking into a place?”

Spider-Man flushed both from shame and annoyance.  “It’s different!” he insisted.

“Uh huh,” Deadpool dismissed.  “But are we still doing that tonight or do you need the rest of the night off because of this mess?”

Spider-Man sighed.  “Yes, we’re still going.  It really can’t wait any longer.  That is, if you’re up to it.”

“For you, Spidey, I’m always up for it.” His suggestive tone made it quite clear he made the innuendo on purpose.

Spider-Man felt heat pooling towards his groin.  He turned quickly so he could calm himself down before Deadpool noticed.  “New rule, no innuendo like that when other people who can misunderstand them are around.”

“Ah, but Baby-boy, right now it’s just us!” Deadpool gleefully exclaimed, wrapping his right arm around Spider-Man’s shoulder.

‘Yeah,’ Spider-Man thought as he grabbed Deadpool by the waist in preparation of swinging out of the building, ‘but I can still misunderstand them.’

Chapter Text

Issue 18: Hallways of Nostalgia

Spider-Man pushed away from the microscope and leaned back, languidly stretching his arms up above his head.  It had been an onerous evening, between the unexpected fight with S.H.I.E.L.D. and now several hours testing in the lab, but Spider-Man was actually happier than he had been in recent memory.  Like the last couple of years of recent memory.

He shouldn’t be this happy.   

Tonight alone, he’d had a fight with S.H.I.E.L.D. and learned that Deadpool had stolen the fabulous mechanical wings that they had been enjoying for the past week.  As if that wasn’t enough, he’d also learned that Deadpool had aided and abetted a terrorist group stealing government personnel secrets concurrent with his theft of the wings.  The real kicker had been in learning what information that group had stolen.  

As they had crossed the city, Spider-Man had pressed Deadpool for the information that he had given S.H.I.E.L.D.  As Deadpool had related the list of doctors and scientists that the terrorist group had been interested in, Spider-Man had recognized one of the names in particular.

Doctor Watson Wilkins was a big name in biochem.  Back when he was in school, Peter had gotten to meet Dr. Wilkins at a conference and maybe he’d fanboyed a little.  So Spider-Man had noticed when he read a blog article earlier that month talking about how Dr. Wilkins had gone missing.  Somehow, Spider-Man didn’t think it was a coincidence.  He would now need to investigate Dr. Wilkin’s disappearance further, as well as all the other names Deadpool had given him.

But despite all that had gone wrong this evening, Spider-Man was back in a real lab doing real science, and that made him nostalgic and delighted by turns.  He hadn’t gotten to play in lab like this since college.  He had missed it.  With the economy in the hole, the research labs he had wanted to work for after graduation weren’t hiring.  In fact, nobody was hiring.  While it was possible that he could get an unpaid internship gig, he wouldn’t be able to afford to live with no salary. His super-hero gig meant he couldn’t work full time and intern full time and save the city all at the same time.  So he had to drop something, and unfortunately what got dropped was his dream career as a biochem researcher.

So yeah, the evening was pretty much a mess, but Spider-Man couldn’t be happier.

“Hey, Spidey, how’s the whole science thing going?”

Spider-Man gave a startled jump.  He hadn’t noticed Deadpool until he was right there next to him.  The mercenary had been patrolling around the building, or so he had said when he left Spider-Man to do the “science plot stuff”.  Since nobody else had come to the lab or seemed to have noticed he was there, Spider-Man figured that either he had been incredibly lucky, or Deadpool was doing his job.

“Done,” Spider-Man told him, then amended, “At least for now.  I’ll probably have to spend all day tomorrow going over the results.”

“Oh?”

“Well, there does seem to be a connection between the blood sample and the drug sample.  They’re not identical, so I can’t say if the sleep-walkers are using the drugs or if there is any immediate connection like that, but there are similarities.  Both samples contain the same non-earth element.”

“A non-earth element?”

“Yes,” Spider-Man affirmed though he didn’t explain what he meant by a ‘non-earth element’ further.  

“Also,” Spider-Man mused, “the blood sample contains traces of metal, and not just iron or any metal that we would find naturally in the blood.  It appears to be traces of a man-made alloy.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know, Deadpool, but I’m going to find out.”  

With Deadpool right beside him, Spider-Man noticed that he smelled clean and he was wearing a brand new shirt, the bloody tear at his shoulder gone.  He must have found a chance to freshen up at some point while he patrolled around the lab.  Spider-Man was a little jealous.  He was still dirty and sweaty from their earlier fight.  Oh well, he didn’t think Deadpool would mind.  

He grinned up at Deadpool. “And what have you been up to all this time?”

“Keeping people away,” he said simply.

Spider-Man looked at him sharply.  “You didn’t hurt anyone?  No one saw you?”

“Please, Spidey,” Deadpool scoffed.  “This ain’t my first rodeo.”  Then he cackled.

Spider-Man didn’t feel especially reassured.  Still, security would have been all over the building if Deadpool had done anything major.  “Well, let me finish cleaning up so nobody will know anyone was here, then we’ll get out of here.”

“Then payment?” Deadpool asked, his voice dripping with hope.

Spider-Man rolled his eyes.  “Yes.  Then you’ll get ‘paid’.”

Deadpool hovered while Spider-Man cleaned. On one hand, it would have been nice to have another set of hands helping, on the other hand, Spider-Man wasn’t certain he trusted Deadpool to clean things properly.

“You’ve spent a lot of time here,” Deadpool noted as Spider-Man cleaned.

Spider-Man froze.  “What do you mean?” he asked cautiously.

“Well, in a lab like this,” Deadpool clarified.  “And college.  You’re really familiar with this kind of place, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Spider-Man admitted, figuring there wasn’t much harm in telling Deadpool that much about himself.

“I never went to school,” Deadpool said quietly.  “Well, I mean, of course I went as a kid, but I dropped out of high school and I never went to college.”

Spider-Man put the sponge and beaker down and looked over at Deadpool, who was perched on a lab stool, poking at a microscope.  “Do you regret not going?” Spider-Man asked him.

“Hmm, not really?  I mean, I’m not much for the structure of school.  But I suppose I regret a little that I didn’t get to be a normal kid, and sometimes I wonder what it would have been like, and what I’d be like now.”

Spider-Man lowered his head.  “Sometimes, so do I.”

Deadpool picked his head up and looked over at Spider-Man.  “What a pair of freaks we are, huh, Spidey?”

“Yeah,” Spider-Man agreed, before turning back to the sink to finish cleaning the beaker.  It was a bleak topic.  Spider-Man might have a lot he regretted in his life, but from what he had heard, Deadpool had it even worse.  Spider-Man had to wonder, if he didn’t have the support of his family and his friends, would he have wound up like Deadpool?  Would he have even wanted to become a better person, a hero, if that were the case?  There were a lot of similarities between Deadpool and himself.  Spider-Man resolved to be more patient with Deadpool’s attempts to become better.

It took a few more minutes, but Spider-Man finished cleaning up the lab, erasing all traces that someone had been there.  He led Deadpool out of the room and relocked the door behind him.

“Well,” Spider-Man said.  “You got me into the lab, kept people away while I was working, and you seem to have behaved yourself.  At the very least, you didn’t interrupt or bother me while I was working.  I’d say you earned your payment.”

Spider-Man stepped towards Deadpool, raising his mask up over his mouth as he did so.

“Now?” Deadpool asked, startled.

“That’s the plan,” Spider-Man said, starting to feel a little uncertain. “I thought you were expecting it too, since you somehow found a way to freshen yourself up while I was working.  But if you don’t want…”

“I do!” Deadpool insisted.  “I just thought...you might change your mind, that you might not really want…”

“Just come here and lift up your mask already,” Spider-Man said instead, not wanting to think about whether he really wanted to kiss Deadpool or if he was just doing it because he said he would.

As Deadpool inched his mask up, Spider-Man stood on tip toes and placed his arms around Deadpool’s neck, pulling him down slightly so their lips could connect.

Deadpool had just started to lean in to meet his lips when he pulled back sharply.  “Someone’s coming,” he hissed into Spider-Man’s ear.

Sure enough, Spider-Man could hear the sound of footsteps rapidly approaching.  A flickering beam of a flashlight came into view.

“Who’s there?” a voice called out, and Spider-Man recognized it as the voice of Cheryl, the night security guard for the science building.

Deadpool pulled Spider-Man back, into the alcove where the lab door was, to avoid the beam of light.  Spider-Man could feel the slight tension in Deadpool’s body, and he wanted to laugh.  There was no threat, no danger here.  His Spidey Senses hadn’t even gone off, it was just Cheryl.

He took Deadpool’s hand and pulled him, dashing down the hallway.  He knew Cheryl could hear them, and probably caught sight of their boots in the beams of her flashlight, but he didn’t care. He knew this building like the back of his hand.

Spider-Man pulled Deadpool into an empty classroom.  He realized he was still holding Deadpool’s hand.  He let go, but he didn’t think Deadpool noticed; he was too busy listening for the guard.  Deadpool was reaching for his gun, so Spider-Man acted fast to distract him from potential violence.  He leaned up and quickly gave Deadpool a teasing peck on the mouth to draw his attention.

It worked.  Deadpool was so startled by the kiss that he moved backwards and knocked into a desk, causing it to clatter loudly in the otherwise silent room.  Cheryl had been down the hallway, but she clearly heard the noise.  The glow of the flashlight could be seen bouncing in time to her hurried footsteps as she made her way back to the classroom.

Spider-Man couldn’t help letting out a chuckle at Deadpool’s bewilderment.  He tugged Deadpool’s arm and led him out the back door to the classroom next door, just in time to avoid being seen.  They went out of the second classroom back into the hall.

Cheryl chased them after them, but Spider-Man and Deadpool were not only faster, but better at hiding.  Spider-Man could climb onto the ceiling, and Deadpool was nearly as agile.  With Spider-Man leading the way, they raced through the building, ducking into secluded areas to hide, suppressing giggles as they watched Cheryl walk by, and as soon as she passed they ran in the opposite direction.

Deadpool picked up on the game after the second time Spider-Man snuck a kiss while they were hiding from Cheryl.  It was a game of hide-and-go-seek mixed with tag, where the “it” had no idea she was involved.  He didn’t quite know why he was playing like this.  Maybe being back on campus made Spider-Man feel like a student again.  It was harmless, and fun, and he was always trying to be so responsible all the time that spending a little time on a friday night having fun with a friend was okay.  As long as Cheryl didn’t actually see them, she would just think it was a couple of the students fooling around.

Turning a corner, Spider-Man recognized the hallway.  It was a dead end, but at the far side was a little nook, a dead space left over when they last renovated the classrooms.  It couldn’t be seen until you were right on top of it, and from his experience at the school, he was pretty certain nobody really remembered it was there.  He had only come across it by chance, one day in the autumn of his freshman year when he had gotten hopelessly lost in the building.  In the four years after that initial discovery, he used it as a place to take a quick nap between classes or when he needed a break from the lab late at night.

He led Deadpool, pulling him by their still joined hands, down to the nook.  Once he turned the corner, Spider-Man pressed his back against the far wall and hauled Deadpool tightly against him until they were both out of sight of anyone in the main hallway.  Their ragged breaths seemed so loud resonating in the small space that he drew Deadpool into an urgent kiss to quiet their panting.  Spider-Man was sure they could be heard echoing down the hallway and Cheryl would find them, but the security guard never came near and before long he was so lost in the kissing that he quite forgot their previous game.

Deadpool’s hands fluttered at Spider-Man’s sides; he didn’t seem to quite know what to do with them, but eventually he settled them at Spider-Man’s waist, his fingertips pressing in tightly. The kisses deepened, the press of lips and nips of teeth giving way to the realization that his tongue was thrusting inside Deadpool’s mouth.  One of Deadpool’s hands crept up over his shoulder blade and the other slid warmly across his lower back in enthusiastic response.

Pressed together, their spandex body suits left so little to the imagination that Spider-Man could clearly feel the pulse and stiffening at Deadpool’s groin.  Flushing almost as red as his suit, he realized Deadpool had to know that Spider-Man’s body was responding in kind.

With a final deep press of his lips against Spider-Man’s, Deadpool pulled back for a moment and stared him in the eyes, his gaze felt like it was piercing through the masks still obstructing the top half of their faces.   Deadpool’s expression immediately turned playful as he darting in so he could trace his tongue across the seam of Spider-Man’s lips.  From there, he moved his kisses downward, mouthing along Spider-Man’s jaw bone, neck, wherever his turned up mask had exposed flesh.

“What do you want to do?” Deadpool whispered huskily in Spider-Man’s ear.

Spider-Man didn’t want to talk, and he didn’t want to think.  He cupped his hands to the sides of Deadpool’s face and wrested Deadpool’s lips back to where he could cover them his own rather than answer.

Deadpool broke out of the kiss immediately.  “I need you to use your words, Baby-Boy,” he insisted.  “I don’t mind taking the lead, but I need you to say clearly what you want.  If you’re not comfortable with this, we can cool things off.”

Spider-Man’s need terrified him.  The actions that would assuage his need terrified him even more.  This had started as a joke.  The kissing was nice, really great in fact, but more?  His mind couldn’t process what the more entailed, not between two guys.  But whatever it was, it meant exposure, suits off, mask off, and kissing Deadpool was one thing, but revealing who he was to him… He couldn’t.  He just couldn’t.

But he also didn’t want to stop.  He was so hard right now and there was the most wonderful friction as he ground against Deadpool.

“I want...I need-,” Spider-Man blurted.  “But I…”

Spider-Man swallowed thickly and tried again, “I’ve never… I’m not…”

Deadpool must have sensed some of the reasons for his reservation, because he replied, “It’s okay.  We can keep our suits on.  Just get ourselves off with some grinding.  Do you want that?”

Relief flooded through Spider-Man.  “Yes,” he agreed.

****************************************

Deadpool didn’t think he’d ever been more turned on than when he heard Spider-Man say ‘yes’.  He let out a throaty moan before kissing Spider-Man, sliding his tongue between those taunting, perfect lips.  Tongue firmly in cheek, he slid his hands lower to firmly and finally grab a double handful of his Baby-boy’s ass.  

This ass is even better than we imagined.

Those fabulous ass cheeks fit perfectly into our palms.

He tightened his grip on Spidey’s ass and rolled their hips together in increasingly blissful circles.  Deadpool didn’t last long.  He came with a groan, and with just enough awareness to know that Spider-Man wasn’t done, he continued thrusting through his orgasm.  Spidey came apart a few moments later, climaxing hard with a shocked gasp.

Seems like this was a bit intense for the kid.

The way his legs are shaking, it looks like he’s going to faint.

Realizing that Spider-Man wouldn't be able to stand on his own, Deadpool pressed against him, using his body and the wall behind them to hold Spider-Man up.  When Deadpool was certain Spidey wasn’t going to pass out, he helped lower the younger man to sit on the ground.

He’d always called him ‘kid’ and ‘Baby-Boy’ but it was just now that it really hit Deadpool how young Spider-Man was.  Not a child or a teenager—he was clearly the man that his name implied, but he was definitely young and inexperienced.  “You ok, Baby-Boy?”

Spider-Man was still a bit shaken up, and kept his gaze down, away from Deadpool.  “I haven’t…not with a guy before…”

“Yeah, I figured as much.”

Not a complete cherry, but he did have that same sort of nervous energy.

Spider-Man looked sideways at him.  “Have you?”

Have we?

“Oh yeah, sometimes.”

A mouth is a mouth?

And an ass is an ass.

“Taken it sometimes, too.  Though in general I prefer women.”

We do love boobies.

Not that we’ve had much of anyone of late.

The last time was…

‘We don’t even think about him.’

Huh?

Yeah, sorry.

Yeah, that was a topic he didn’t even like to discuss with his boxes.  Cutting the conversation short, Deadpool reached into one of his side pouches.  

“We should get cleaned up a bit.”  He pulled out a few folded cloths and handed one to Spider-Man, keeping the other for himself.

Spider-Man examined the fabric.  “You carry handkerchiefs?”

“Of course.  Why do you think I have these little pouches?  Just because they look cool?”

Duh.

That or holders for extra bullets.

As if we could actually run out of bullets unless the story needed it.

“There’s nothing worse than having a runny nose in a mask,” Deadpool announced.

“That…that’s actually a really good idea.”

“I might be insane, but doesn’t mean I don’t have common sense.”

*******************************************

Spider-Man didn’t know what to say to that.  He looked down at the cloth in his hand and saw it had “D.P.” embroidered in a corner and a small lace trim around the edges.  Seriously?  Oh well, it was something and he needed to clean himself off.

He self-consciously brought the cloth down to his groin.  He glanced over at Deadpool, who was already cleaning himself up, his back half to Spider-Man.

Turning away, Spider-Man slipped his dick out of his pants and gingerly wiped himself down.  He got as much of it as he could cleaned off his pants, but he was going to have to soak and scrub them when he got home if he was going to save them.

When he was as clean as he was going to be for the moment, he straightened his suit.  He turned back towards Deadpool, who had already finished cleaning himself up and was leaning casually against the back wall, looking at him.   

Spider-Man’s cheeks burned.  He looked down at the soiled cloth in his hand.  “Um, I can clean this and get it back to you…”

“Nah, don’t bother,” Deadpool dismissed..  “I got plenty.  It’s like a hobby of mine, and they don’t seem to sell much.”

So they sell at all? Spider-Man wondered.  With nothing else to do with it, Spider-Man tucked the cloth into his pants.  Keeping his eyes downcast, Spider-Man said, “Well, it’s getting really late.  We should head home now.”

“Are you going to be alright getting home?” Deadpool asked, and he sounded genuinely concerned and not at all awkward about what they had just done.  Spider-Man supposed that to someone older and more mature, this would be just a thing, nothing to get worked up about.

“I’ll be fine.”  His legs were still a bit shaky--that had been the most intense orgasm he had ever had in his life--but he was going to be swinging home, not walking.   Still unable to look at Deadpool, Spider-Man flailed his hand in meger excuse for a wave.  “So um, bye.”

He dashed off without waiting for a response.

 

Spider-Man wasn’t quite sure how he had managed to get home, but he did.  He barely managed to strip himself out of his suit.  He crumbled it up it in a ball and tossed it into the narrow corner between his bed and the wall, out of sight. Then he flumped down onto his bed.  He needed to wash up, but he had already traveled halfway around the city so things had pretty much dried by now.  He’d have to do laundry, but he’d deal with it tomorrow.  He pulled his blankets over his head and was asleep moments later.

***********************************

Peter woke up itchy.  Why was he itchy?  Without being fully awake, he stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom.  It wasn’t until he was stepping into the shower that he realized he was already naked.  

The memories started to vividly flash through his mind.  The fight with S.H.I.E.L.D., the chase through the science building, making out with Deadpool.

And he didn’t just make out with Deadpool, but he had dry-humped Deadpool.  

Oh my god.  He had dry-humped Deadpool.

He had always thought that Deadpool couldn’t really be as built as his shirts made him look--it had to be a little padding, but having been pressed up against Deadpool’s chest, Peter had learned quite intimately that Deadpool’s torso was even better than it seemed.  Peter might have been stronger, but he did not have six-pack abs and a chest so tight you could bounce a quarter off it like Deadpool did.

And his thighs...his thighs...They were as big as Peter’s waist, and he suspected Deadpool could snap a guy in half between those thighs.  And the feeling of undulating against them…

And now Peter was hard and he was jerking himself off, and he kept imagining the feel of Deadpool’s hands on his ass, their bodies pressed together, rubbing himself against those thighs…

“Wade! Oh!” Peter cried out as he came.  Breathing in harsh, ragged breaths, he looked down uncomprehending at the come in his hand.  Fuck.  He had just jerked himself off to thoughts of  Deadpool’s thighs.

What was wrong with him?  He wasn’t gay.  He wasn’t!  He couldn’t--

Sobbing loudly, he slumped down to his knees, letting the water run over him.  

Okay, yes, once a few years ago he might have had a slight crush on Harry, but Harry was good looking, rich, and really sweet, and it was pretty normal for guys to have crushes on their friends.  It didn’t mean anything, and it was right afterwards that Peter had started dating Mary Jane... and, so--  he wasn’t gay!  He wasn’t!

It was all Deadpool’s fault!  He was always around, and always making those jokes, and so of course Peter would be confused!  But he wasn’t gay!  He just--

What was he going to do?  How could he ever face Deadpool again?

He couldn’t.

But he was going to have to tell Deadpool that it was over and it was time for him to leave New York, that’s all there was to it.

The hot water was long gone, but Peter stayed under the tepid water until he couldn’t cry anymore.

*****************************************

Peter accomplished very little that day besides doing a load of laundry which included his sheets and scrubbing his Spider-Man pants clean in the sink.  The day vanished fast without him registering the time passing.  

When the sun fell in the sky, he got up, dressed in his spare suit, pulled the mask over his head, and slipped out the window.  Once on the roof, he paused. This was it.  He would go to the meet-up and he would tell Deadpool to leave. His hero-training days were over.  With a deep breath, he shot a strand of web and swung down the street.  His chest felt tight, his body felt heavy.  He was conscious of the weight of gravity pulling him down as he swung through the air.  But he kept going.  

He arrived early to the meet-up location, so he wasn’t surprised there were no signs of Deadpool there.  He waited, heart thrumming in his chest.  

He waited until dawn at the meet-up spot.  Deadpool never showed.

 

Chapter Text

Spider-Man could climb the rock wall upside down and with his eyes closed, but Peter had never gone rock climbing.  And because his friends didn’t know that Peter was Spider-Man, he had to somehow make it seem as if he had no idea what he was doing.  

He normally wouldn’t mind making a bit of a fool of himself, but today he was on a date.  So while he couldn’t look too confident on the wall, at the same time, he couldn’t look too inept either because he still wanted to impress Betty.  It was difficult to balance between “Why aren’t you an Olympic athlete, you are so amazing?!  Is this really your first time?!” with “What a pathetic loser!  I never want to see you again.”  The situation wasn’t helped by having Harry along on a double-date. Well, triple-date; Krissi and Evan were at the fair as well, though they were still looking at the animal barns while Peter, Harry, Betty, and Liz attempted the rock wall.

In some ways, it was easy to not appear to be too skilled; he was wearing sneakers and the soles were too thick for the microscopic hair on his feet to hook into the wall.  He kept inadvertently trying to climb the wall the way he would as Spider-Man and having his feet slip rather than stick, causing him to jerk on the support rope as he struggled to keep his balance.  The instructor kept shouting instructions, repeating how he should be stepping on the footholds but it was hard to ignore the ingrained muscle habits from climbing walls as Spider-Man.

Another slipped foothold and Peter completely lost his balance.  He hung in the air for what felt like an eternity as all the possibilities of what to do flashed through his mind.

He could easily latch onto the wall with his fingers, and he had enough strength that he could hold himself up with a single hand.  The hooks in his skin would cling onto the wall surface and would keep him from falling.  But Peter couldn’t just catch himself the same way Spider-Man could without outing himself.  His only other option was to let himself fall and hope that the instructor would be able to catch him with the safety rope before he landed on the ground and broke his neck.

Peter didn’t like having to rely on someone else to save him, just like he didn’t like having to rely on S.H.I.E.L.D. to figure out what that terrorist group wanted with the A.V.E. scientists, or hoping that he’d just by chance come upon another sleep-walker.  And yet, these past few weeks, that seemed to be all he was doing; relying on others to keep the city safe while he hid from everything.

Nothing like a ‘dangerous life’ or ‘embarrassing death’ decision to make him question his recent life choices.  He seemed to have made nothing but bad decisions for the past three weeks.

*@*@*@*@*@*

Peter had waited until dawn at the meet-up spot.  Deadpool had never showed.

The world was starting to wake up by the time he gave up and made his way home.  He could smell the aroma of bacon and pancakes for Sunday breakfasts and hear people moving about as they got ready for their day.  He ignored them as he swung silently through the city, back to his apartment.

Once home, he stripped out of his suit, crumbled it into a ball, and slammed it into the back of a drawer.  His emotions were a mess, a maelstrom of anger and pain. He pushed those feelings aside. He didn’t want to examine them, or consider what they meant.  He knew he was being a coward by taking the easier path and ignoring his feelings, but he hurt too much.  He leapt onto his bed and pulled the blankets up over his head and huddled in a ball.  He hid from the world, from his responsibilities, and most of all, from his feelings.

**************

Monday morning came entirely too soon, and Peter couldn’t afford to take the day off, no matter how much he would have liked to.  His usual annoyance at his boss washed over him completely as he made his way through the day mechanically.

The work day couldn’t end soon enough, but once he got home, Peter didn’t quite know what to do with himself.  He knew he should go out on patrol, but when he pulled his suit out from the back of the drawer, he just sat on his bed and stared at in in his hands for nearly an hour before stuffing it back into the drawer he had gotten it from. He decided that the city could survive one night without him going out.

While allowing himself to slack on patrolling, Peter couldn’t completely abandon his responsibilities.  He had ignored the test results for the entire weekend, and if he wasn’t going to go out, he should at least do something else that he needed to do.

He grabbed his notes from Friday night and carefully went over them a few dozen times.  He double and triple checking everything.  From what he could tell of the blood sample, there seemed to be fragments of some sort of neuroelectronic-interfacing nano device.  Peter knew that it was possible that these nano devices had nothing to do with the sleepwalking--he would have to get more samples to test to be certain.  However, his instincts said that it wasn’t a coincidence, and that the presence of nanodevices in the blood indicated that the sleep walking was not a natural phenomenon.  And more than that, judging by how upset and confused the sleepwalker had been upon waking up, Peter didn’t think the sleepwalker had any clue what had happened to him.  That was very troubling.

Peter really needed to get more samples to test.  He wasn’t certain how likely it was that he could just catch another sleepwalker like he did last week--he had been hunting for months before he finally saw a single one.  But he thought he might have another way to go about things.  Because the drug sample contained the same alien elements as the sleepwalker’s blood sample, Peter knew that there had to be some connection between them.  If he couldn’t get another sample from a sleepwalker, well, at least he knew someone who was using the drug: Randy, the creep that first introduced the drug to him.  

He hadn’t seen Randy for a while, so on his usual Tuesday lunch with Harry and the others, Peter asked what was going on with Randy and why he hadn’t been around.

“Why do you want to know?” Harry asked, an edge of suspicion evident in his voice.

Peter tried to downplay his interest.  “Haven’t seen him at lunch in a while so I was just curious.”

“I don’t know what he’s up to now,” Harry said.  “But he was fired from Oscorp about a month or so ago.”

“Fired?” Evan broke in.

“Yes,” Harry confirmed and then elaborated, “He’d been acting erratically, not showing up for work or meetings, making demands on people and getting angry when people wouldn’t do what he wanted.”

“Good riddance,” Krissi muttered.

Peter agreed with her, but he needed to get another blood sample, so he continued, “He was somewhat of a friend, though, right?  Maybe I should stop in on him and see how he’s doing.  Do you have his address?”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Harry said firmly, and that was the end of that.

Or would have been, but Peter was nothing if not determined.  It took nearly a week skipping patrols to scour the internet, but between Facebook, Twitter, and the blogs of various members of the Newman family, Peter was able to track down Randy’s current whereabouts: a psychiatric ward in an upstate hospital.  Randy had been admitted shortly after his breakdown at Oscorp that had gotten him fired.

On the next Saturday afternoon, Peter made his way out of the city to the facility.  During the cab ride, he was a little anxious about whether or not the facility would even let him in to see Randy, but once he got there he realized he didn’t need to have worried.  For the most part, visitors were allowed, and it didn’t hurt that Peter was a polite, clean-cut, unassuming, harmless-looking young white guy.  The receptionist accepted him at his word that he was an old friend of Randy’s, immediately signing him in and giving him a visitor pass.

An orderly greeted him at the reception hall and escorted him into the facility.  They passed by several common rooms and down a hallway filled with private rooms.

“We have had to keep Mr. Newman separated from the other patients,” the orderly leading Peter explained.  “He’s had...problems...interacting with others.  We’re hoping that perhaps seeing a familiar face might help him settle.”

She stopped at a door and knocked.  There was no response, but she opened the door anyway.  

The room was small but clean and while it was clearly an institutional room, there were several warm and homey touches inside.  There was a twin-sized bed neatly made and crocheted blanket folded at the foot.  Beside the door was a bookshelf half-filled with some books, magazines, and puzzles.  On top of the bookshelf was a framed picture of a woman Peter recognized from his previous cyberstalking as Randy’s mother.  There were a couple of potted plants in the window.  Randy was sitting at a small, round table, working on a puzzle.

Peter stopped, taken aback by the sight in front of him.  Randy looked shrunken, half the size he used to be.  He had lost his muscle and too much weight besides.  His skin looked dry to the point of leather.  His eyes lacked any spark and he had dark black circles around them.  He looked hollow, a discarded husk.  Peter almost felt sorry for him until he remembered what a creep Randy had been and that his situation now was a direct result of his own actions.

“Good morning, Mr. Newman,” the orderly greeted as she stepped inside.  “A friend of yours has come to visit with you.  Do you recognize him?”

Randy looked up sullenly.  He eyed Peter up and down before he answered.  “Yes.  He’s a fairy.”

Peter winced.  He hadn’t realized how far gone Randy was.

The orderly turned to Peter and shrugged slightly with a ‘what can you do?’ expression.  “Well, I’ll leave you two boys to get reacquainted.”

As the orderly left, Peter sat down on the second chair across the table from Randy.  Coming to see Randy seemed like a brilliant idea back at his apartment, but now that Peter was actually sitting beside him, he had no idea how he was going to get any kind of sample from him.  It wasn’t like he could just say ‘oh by the way, can I have a sample of your blood?’

Well, he had to start somewhere, so Peter said, “Hi Randy.  It’s me, Peter.  Peter Parker.  You know, Harry Osborn’s friend.”

“I know who you are,” Randy muttered.  He sounded lucid, but Peter wasn’t certain what to think considering Randy thought he was a fairy.  

Some life returned to Randy’s vacant eyes as he turned a determined gaze on Peter.  In a louder voice he sneered, “You’re the boot-licker following behind your betters.  But no, it wasn’t a boot you were licking was it?   A boring nobody like you must have been very good to have been kept around.  Let’s see.”  

Randy pushed his chair from the table.  He leaned his shoulders back and thrust his hips forward.  “Get on your knees,” Randy commanded.

Though he didn’t quite get what Randy was talking about, a wave of repulsion washed over Peter.  “No way.”

“Do you think you’re too good for me, is that it?” Randy thundered as he leapt to his feet, flipping the table over, the puzzle pieces scattering across the floor.  Peter stumbled to his feet, half falling backwards to get out of the way as Randy stormed towards him.

“That’s it, isn’t it?  Peter Parker, you’d only get on your knees for the Sun.  I should’ve known!  A little nobody like you, clinging to the edge so you can shine.”

Randy stopped suddenly, but the murderous expression in his eyes made Peter more worried.  Peter took another step back but now his back was pressed against the wall and there wasn’t any further he could go.  It was a mistake; the damn bookshelf was between him and the door, blocking his escape.

“But that’s not quite true is it?” Randy continued.  “I told you about it.  And you went, and you got it, and that’s why you can brush me off like this.  You have it!”

Randy was now right beside Peter.  He put his hand out onto Peter’s arm, his leathery skin feeling brittle.  He pawed at Peter as he cajoled, “I just need a little.  Just one little hit and I can make people give me what I want again.  I can get back on my feet.  I just need a little…”

“I don’t have any…” Peter tried to say.

“You’re lying!” Randy exploded.  “Give it to me!  Give it to me now!”

Suddenly his hands were around Peter’s throat.  Peter was pushed back and he clattered into the bookshelf, rocking it out from the wall and sending several items on it careening to the floor.  The picture of the sweet-looking Mrs. Newman shattered as it hit the linoleum.

His hands occupied with trying to keep Randy from collapsing his windpipe, Peter tried to bring his leg up to brace against Randy’s body.  But Randy pushed forward and Peter lost his balance.  He tumbled to the floor with Randy on top of him, pinning him down.

Peter was the strongest human he knew, short of perhaps some of the Avengers, but he was unable to break Randy’s hold from around his neck, or to push the crazed man off of him.  Considering his emaciated look, Randy was much stronger than he should be.  

Peter reached out desperately for something to use as a weapon.  His fingertips grazed the picture frame, but no matter how much he tried to stretch his arm out a little further, the frame was just out of reach enough that he couldn’t grasp it.  He was getting spots in his vision.  He moved his hand, trying to find something else he could use, and he felt the sharp edge of glass.  Without the care he would have done at another time, Peter took the glass in hand and stabbed it deeply into Randy’s arm.

Randy had no reaction.  He didn’t even flinch.  It was like he couldn’t feel the glass stabbing an inch deep into his arm at all.  Peter tried grinding it in further, but nothing he did seemed to have any effect on his attacker.  

Several orderlies ran into the room, a chaotic din of footsteps and shouting.  Even with their combined efforts, they did little to peel Randy’s hands from around Peter’s neck.  A fourth orderly approached, slipping her arm past the jumble of limbs and pierced a large needle into Randy's neck. Immediately, his eyes glazed.  Randy released his hold on Peter and slumped into the waiting arms of the orderlies.

Peter kept hold of the glass shard as two of the orderlies pulled Randy off of Peter, moving the drugged man to his bed, while another helped Peter to his feet, ushering him out of the room.

"I am so sorry, Mr. Parker," the orderly said breathlessly.  "He hasn't been this bad since the first night he was brought here.  We thought he was recovered enough for guests."

After reassuring the orderly that he was well, Peter excused himself to the restroom to wash up.  Once he locked the door behind him, he carefully transferred as much of Randy’s blood as he could from the shard into the sample vial he had brought with him.  

Well, he gotten the sample he came for, though not the way he intended.  Granted, he hadn't gotten ANY of the samples the way he would have wanted, so why should this one be any different?

He had also gotten far too close a look at what prolonged use of the drug did to someone, and it wasn't pretty.  Not that he had wanted to use the drug, but seeing what Randy had been reduced to cleared up any question on whether or not he should attempt to use the drug himself in order to test its effects.  Scientific curiosity was one thing, but whatever had happened to Randy was something else.

Peter straightened himself up before he stepped out of the restroom.  He had several staff members waiting for him to check on his injuries and to make sure he was alright.  He got out of the facility as quickly as he could.

He felt pretty beat up after his encounter with Randy, both physically and mentally.  Beat up and somehow dirty.  He just wanted to go home, scour himself clean, and collapse into bed, but he knew that Saturday night was the best chance he was going to get to sneak into a college lab to test the sample.  He wasn’t even sure how useful it was going to be; Randy wasn't currently using.  Still, it was something to test and he didn't have much else to go on at the moment, and he couldn’t ignore it for a week.  Therefore, it had to be done that night, no matter how he felt.

He had a knot the size of his head in his stomach, but before he could talk himself out of it, Peter stepped off the subway at a different stop than he usually did and made his way down the street towards Columbia University.  Harry had gone to Columbia, and Peter had visited him a few times, so he knew his way around the campus enough to find and use a chemistry lab there.

It wasn’t long before he decided he might have made a mistake after all; he wasn’t as familiar with Columbia as he was Empire State.  He spent his entire time in the lab looking over his shoulder, terrified that someone would discover him there.  Plus, even though this was a different lab, it brought forth too many memories he didn’t want to think about.  He rushed to complete all the tests on the blood sample and left as soon as he could.  When he finally got home, he quickly showered and collapsed into bed.

Peter spent the next day looking over all the test results.  He found that the same alien elements also existed in Randy's blood sample.  In fact, they were more prevalent than in the other two samples combined.  But more than that, it seemed as if Randy's own cellular structure was breaking down.  Whatever this drug had been doing to the others, it was killing Randy.  Based on the deterioration of his cellular structure just in the sample Peter had, he didn't think Randy had much longer to live.  Peter could only hope that perhaps Randy’s body would recover now that he wasn’t actively using.

Peter had looked closely for evidence of the man-made alloys that were in the sleepwalker’s blood, but they were completely absent in Randy’s blood.  Peter hypothesized that whatever had been done to the sleepwalker, it wasn’t the same drug that Randy had been using, but since they both contained the same alien elements, there was likely some connection.  Peter just needed to figure out what it was.  

****************

"Feeling cold?" Evan asked Peter when they sat down at the diner for their lunch meet up.  Peter was wearing a large scarf.  It was still a bit early in the season for scarves to be common, particularly since he kept it on even after taking off his coat.  Peter had been wearing the scarf nonstop since Saturday.  The bruising around his neck was mostly gone, but there was still a hint and Peter thought it was better to hide under a scarf than to try to come up with some excuse.  He didn't think he could pass the fading hand-shaped bruise marks as hickeys, and even if he could, he didn't think he could convincingly make up a potential hickey-giving partner.  Besides, it had been over two weeks since...

Peter dismissed the memories that flashed into his head and focused on his friends.  "Yeah.  My office hasn't turned on the heat yet, so it's been pretty cold.  I've had a pretty constant chill all day so far."  It was close enough to the truth, that even though it wasn't the actual reason he was wearing the scarf, he didn't feel like he was outright lying.  He tried not to lie, unless he absolutely needed to, as he felt like he had to lie to his friends entirely too much in keeping his secret identity.

“So how was your visit with Randy?” Harry asked, conversationally.

“How…” Peter started, amazed that Harry knew, but Harry’s expression went from normal to a resigned disappointment.  He hadn’t known about the visit, but he guessed and Peter had just confirmed it.  “Uh, that is,” Peter uttered sheepishly.  “He’s not doing so well.  I think--I think he might be dying.”

“Well, detox is rough,” Krissi offered.  “So maybe you’re just seeing him at a really bad point.”

Peter shook his head.  “I don’t think so.”

“I’d feel sorry for his family,” Evan said, “But I won’t be sorry for him.  He’s a creep.”

“He’s a complete creep,” Peter agreed.  “But I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

Krissi wrapped an arm around Peter and pulled him into a tight hug.  “Peter, you’re too good for us sometimes.”

Peter blushed at the praise.

“It’s more like he’s too cute for us.  Look at that adorable blush,” Evan teased.

"He is!" Krissi agreed joyfully as she pulled Peter into a tighter hug.

“Aw, come on,” Peter protested, pushing himself out of the hug as he blushed even more now that his blush had drawn attention.

“If you blush like this over just a hug, what are you going to do when you start seeing someone again?” Harry added.

"I've gone out with girls before," Peter insisted.  "I'm not a blushing virgin."

"Just blushing," Evan said with a grin, lightly nudging Peter with his elbow.

"It's been years since your last girlfriend," Harry pointed out.  "You've forgotten everything."

"It hasn't been that long!" Peter said indignantly.  He knew his friends were just teasing but he was taking their words to heart.  It was hard enough being the only single one among them.  Krissi and Evan had been together as long as he had known them, and Harry had been seeing Liz since August and it was starting to get pretty serious.

"It has been three years, give or take a few weeks," Harry informed him.  "Gwen broke up with you during 2nd year."

"I've had sex since Gwen," Peter insisted.

"Really?" Harry asked, arching his eyebrow at Peter.

"Yes!  In fact, I hooked up with someone just..." Peter stopped abruptly when he realized he was saying entirely too much.  To begin with, this was the first time he acknowledged even to himself that what he had done with Deadpool counted as a hook-up.  That realization shocked him to the core.  On top of, it wasn't like he could say anything about that encounter with Deadpool to his friends, especially to Harry.

Evan whistled.  "So there IS someone you're interested in.”

“Was.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  It’s complicated.”  Peter really didn't want to talk any more about this.  He didn't even want to think about it.  If he could curl up into nothing, he would.  He was certainly giving it his best try.

"Come on, Peter, you can't just leave us hanging like this.  Who is she?  How did you meet her?" Harry pressured.

“He doesn’t have to--” Krissi started, but Harry interrupted her.

“But we’re his friends.  We should know when he’s finally gotten over his ex and started hooking up with girls again!”

Harry wasn’t going to let it drop.  Resigned, Peter uncurled himself and said, "Someone I met through work.”  It was mostly true since he considered patrolling ‘work’.  "It was a one-time hook-up and it’s not going to happen again."  That much was certainly true.  Deadpool had ditched him immediately after their hook-up, and even if he came back, Peter wanted nothing to do with him.  Peter was clenching his hands so tightly his fingers were white.

Evan must have noticed, as he said, "Seems like that encounter wasn't quite what you hoped it would be."

"Understatement," Peter muttered.

“Anyone I need to beat up?” Krissi asked.

“No.”  Now that Deadpool had ‘wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am-ed’ him, Peter doubted that he would return to the city, and if he did, Spider-Man was perfectly capable of defeating him and kicking him out again all on his own.  But it was sweet of Krissi to offer.

“But other than a hook-up that you say isn’t happening again, you haven’t been involved with anyone for a while,” Harry continued and Peter knew his friend had some sort of agenda to his questioning.

Peter sighed and asked Harry, “You have someone in mind, don’t you?”

Harry took that as permission and said, "Liz ran into this girl she knew from high school, Betty, and they started to reconnect.  Liz thought--and I agree with her--that you two would be great together."

Harry had hooked Peter up with both of his past long term girlfriends, Mary Jane and Gwen, but Peter wasn't quite sure he was up for a new relationship.  The idea of dating anyone didn't have much appeal to him at the moment.  “I’m not sure I’m ready…”

“Ready?  It’s been three years since Gwen broke up with you!” Harry insisted.  “Just meet her. A date doesn’t have to mean that you’re engaged to her or anything.”

“Aw, Harry, you know I’m terrible at first dates,” Peter tried again to demure.

“But that’s the great thing about Betty--she’s friends of Liz so we can do a double-date and I’ll be right there to help you.  We can go to a nice restaurant, take in a show…”

That sounded like an even worse idea.  And there was no way Peter could afford a night out like Harry could.  But he also know that when Harry had a plan, it was very hard to stop him.

Krissi came to Peter’s rescue.  “Well, why not a group date, then?  Evan and I were thinking about going to this fair that’s going on this weekend down in Connecticut.  There will be a lot of exhibits and shows, so it’ll be casual and there will be plenty of different things to see and do.”

Plenty of things to see and do that wouldn't cost extra once inside the fair, Krissi didn’t say, but Peter was able to infer.  Entrance to the fair wouldn’t necessarily be cheap, but it would be a lot cheaper than dinner at a nice restaurant that Harry picked out.

“And,” Krissi added, “she’ll have Liz around and you’ll have us, so on the very off chance that you two don’t hit it off, you both can still have fun."

That didn't seem quite so bad, and, at the very least, it would be nice to hang out with his friends at a fair.  He hadn't been to one since high school.

“Alright,” he agreed at last.  "If she is free this weekend and wants to go to the fair, I wouldn't mind a group date like that."

While it clearly wasn't quite what Harry had wanted, he quickly agreed to it and texted his girlfriend the new plan.  Liz texted back pretty quickly that Betty was down with the group date at the fair, and with a bit more back and forth between everyone, a plan was made.

***************

Peter was extremely apprehensive about the coming date with Betty, and it wasn’t just his usual anxiety about meeting someone new.  Even though he hadn’t met her yet, she already had a large mark against her; she worked for the Daily Bugle, the selfsame newspaper that continuously lambasted Spider-Man for all his failings, real or imagined by J. Jonah Jameson.  But even worse, Betty didn't just work for the Daily Bugle, she was actually J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary!  And Peter couldn't explain to his friends why he didn’t like the Daily Bugle without them wondering how Peter could possibly stick up for Spider-Man considering what he had done to Gwen.  Peter knew exactly what happened with Gwen, because he’d lived it.  He had enough guilt all on his own about it without adding the lies spewed by Jameson and the Daily Bugle team.

So yeah, secretary to Spider-Man's biggest critic wasn't promising for any kind of lasting relationship.  Still, he couldn't explain why that made him disinclined to go on the date, so all he could do was go along with his friends and hope for the best.

*********************

When the day of the date arrived, Peter discovered that Elizabeth Brant—Betty, to differentiate her from Harry's girlfriend Elizabeth “Liz” Allan, was a very beautiful young woman, with dark brown hair and warm chocolate eyes, and her smile was easy and bright.

She was pleasant enough, but Peter didn’t feel an immediate attraction to her.  He knew he should try to be more active in getting to know her, but that involved talking and his ability to form words had gone out the window.  He’d stumbled his way through the initial introductions and had fumbled his way along ever since.

He followed as Krissi led the way through the animal barns, trying to find areas that were fun for everyone, “because everyone loves bunnies, right?”  Meanwhile, Harry and Liz kept trying to push Peter and Betty together and it was getting to be all kinds of awkward, despite Krissi’s best efforts.

And Betty, bless her heart, had to be feeling as awkward about all of this as Peter was, but she was trying.  She asked what sort of things Peter liked doing, and all he could think about was climbing up walls and swinging through the city, and he just blurted that out.

Stupidly, or perhaps thankfully for his secret identity, his brain was still having a hard time stringing words together into complete sentences so all he did manage to say was “climbing” which was bad enough without the rest of what he had been thinking, because as far as his friends knew, Peter didn’t climb.

“That is,” Peter stammered, trying to recover from his blunder, “I like the idea of rock climbing.  Like up mountains or something.  I’ve never actually done it, and it’s not likely I ever will do something like that, but I think it’s pretty amazing.”

It was the most he had said that entire day and it was complete bullshit.  Alright, not completely, since he did like climbing walls and he was sure he could scale up some mountains, but he had little interest in hiking out in the wilds.

“You like rock climbing?” Harry questioned.  “I never knew that about you.”

“There’s a rock wall here at the fair,” Liz pointed out.

*@*@*@*@*@*

And that was how Peter wound up on a rock wall trying to decide if he should do some incredible maneuver to save himself from falling but likely out himself as Spider-Man, or let himself fall and possibly break his neck if his spotter didn’t catch him in time.

Peter sighed and let himself go.  He only fell a few feet before the safety line caught him, roughly snapping him still before the handler more gently lowered him to the ground.  But as his feet touched the ground, he tripped over a coil of rope and he fell into a rather undignified heap, his face planted into the sand and his ass up into the air.

He could hear Harry laughing, as did the crowd around them.  Peter took it good naturally as he pulled himself into a seated position, though he felt a bit anxious as he glanced over at Betty.  She looked worried until Peter flashed her a thumbs up, and only then did she let out a relieved chuckle.

It was at that point, seeing that her first instinct was concern for his safety, rather than laughing at his pratfall, that he decided that maybe it was worth giving a relationship with Betty a try.  

When their day at the fair ended, Peter exchanged numbers with Betty and arranged for another date, just the two of them.

******************

Peter was worn out from spending the day at the fair, but despite his exhaustion, he didn’t feel ready to go to sleep.  He reached into his bureau and pulled out his Spider-Man costume, nearly taking a sweater with it.  Seeing the mess of unfolded garments, Peter set his suit on his bed and took a few minutes to refold his clothes and put them properly away.  When he finished that drawer, he moved on to all the rest of the piles of clothing splayed on the floor around his bed.

That was when he found the scrap of white cloth fallen behind his bed.  It took a moment for Peter to identify it, uncertain what it was until he saw the embroidered D.P. in the corner.

It was Deadpool's handkerchief, the one that Deadpool had given him to use to clean up after their hook-up a couple weeks ago.  Peter had tucked it into his pants after using it, and it must have fallen out when he had tossed his costume into the corner when he had gotten back to his apartment.

Ugh.  He was holding a cloth that had his three-week-old jizz caked onto it.  He knew he should just throw the handkerchief away.  But instead of doing the sensible thing he found himself at his sink, carefully hand washing it until his fingers were pruned and the cloth was clean.  

Peter placed it on his bedside table to dry, then hauled the rest of his laundry down to the basement laundry room.  It was well past midnight when he finally finished and trudged back to his apartment.

When everything was put away and his room tidied, he undressed.  He carefully folded his jeans and placed them onto his bureau.  He put his t-shirt, socks, and boxers into his laundry basket.  He climbed, naked, into bed.

He lay on his side, facing his bedside table, with the handkerchief spread across the top of it.  He reached out and ran his finger along the embroidered letters.

Seeing that handkerchief felt like ripping the scab off of a wound he hadn’t consciously let himself feel, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of it.

Without intending to, he let his other hand trail down his body.

He kept trying to think about Betty, the woman he just had a date with, who he had just agreed to see again, but it wasn’t her hand he imagined caressing his inner thighs.  It wasn’t her mouth he pictured enveloping his dick as his hand moved along his swollen length.  

And it wasn’t her name he cried out as he came.

“Damn Wade, anyway,” he muttered as he fell abruptly into sleep.

Chapter Text

Peter hadn’t been able to bring himself to put on his Spider-Man costume in over a month.  It had seemed easier those first few days to avoid his costume and the associations and memories that looking at it brought on.  He had plenty of other things on his mind--investigating Randy and his blood sample, dating Harry’s girlfriend’s friend Betty, work, autumn in the city--and before long, the days had become weeks.

He might have continued to ignore his super hero responsibilities if he hadn’t had a wakeup call that came in the form of a Thor versus alien grudge match.  Peter, like the rest of the world, had spent the day glued to the news, watching the God of Thunder fight off another alien invasion in Greenwich, England.  But unlike the rest of the world who knew they could do nothing, Peter seethed with frustration at how useless he was in the face of this latest crisis.  He wondered if the Avengers felt the same--unable to backup Thor, with the fight done before even Iron Man in his fastest suit could have gotten there to help.  Peter should have been there, he could have done something.  He was a superhero too!

That night, after it seemed clear the battle was over, Peter did what he could do--he put on his suit and went out on patrol of New York City again.  He’d stopped a few crimes and helped a dozen people.  With each save, he’d felt worse instead of better.  In just one night he’d helped so many people... he couldn’t stop thinking about how many he hadn’t been there to help in the past month.  People had needed him and he’d let them down. Just like he’d let Uncle Ben down.

Uncle Ben’s voice repeated in his head, admonishing, "With great power comes great responsibility".  Peter had great power and he had a responsibility to use his power to help others.  Maybe he couldn’t stop alien invasions like the Avengers, but he could help the everyday people of New York City.  Then and there, Peter had vowed to himself, to Uncle Ben, and to the people who needed him: he would stop running and he would address everything he’d been ignoring this past month.

Which had brought him here, back to the Rand building, to investigate what might have caused the excessive explosion when....when the grenade fell.  His belated investigation was likely a waste of time; S.H.I.E.L.D. had to have searched the building after their encounter.  At the very least to put out the fire.  There weren't going to be any clues this long after the fact.  But it was one of those nagging doubts Spider-Man had and as part of his efforts to resume his hero duties, he was going to look over the building, confirm that there was indeed nothing for him to investigate further, then move on to the next thing he had been ignoring.

The Rand building had seen better days, looking even worse now after that eventful night when he and--when they had fought with the agents.  Spider-Man slipped past the police caution tape, over the concrete rubble littering the ground, and under the heavy plastic wrap that surrounded the building.

Spider-Man was definitely not the only person who had visited the building recently.  There was trash scattered about, graffiti decorating the walls, and a skateboard rink set up.  Or had been.  It didn't look like anybody could use the area for skateboarding now as the floor was buckled and uneven, like an earthquake had split the ground.

He could see the damage from explosions but not what might have caused them in the first place.  The damage was further down, below the first floor.  Spider-Man picked his way through the building to the side where the grenade had fallen.

There was a drainage ditch along the exterior of the building filled with the remnants of a metal grill that used to cover it.  The metal was bent oddly, looking like it had been forced upwards before collapsing back into the ditch.  He guessed that the grenade must have fallen into the ditch and then exploded.  Spider-Man shot a strand of webbing at the grill, then pulled, yanking the useless metal out of his way.  It came up easier than he expected, and he fell backwards onto his butt.  Maybe the grill hadn’t fallen in after the explosion; perhaps someone placed it into the ditch afterwards to prevent people from falling inside.

With the grill no longer clogging the ditch, Spider-Man looked in and could see a hole in the wall, leading into the sub-basement of the Rand tower.  With an annoying bit of effort he maneuvered himself down and into the hole.  

It was clear that even if someone had moved past the grill, they still wouldn’t have been able to explore the sub-basement.  The inside was a great big pit of blackness with sheer concrete walls.  There would be no way down unless one could fly, happened to be carrying rock-climbing gear with them, or had the ability to climb sheer walls.

That last one, at least, Spider-Man could do.  If he’d had the rock-climbing gear, he had lessons on how to do that now too… Okay, so he did fall off the wall, but still, he knew the gist of it.

As he started climbed down, he immediately noticed the spalling of the concrete.  He could feel the small chunks missing from the wall. It didn’t seem damp though. The irregularities were dry and flaky.  Probably caused by a fire then.  It was possible the fire happened during the Battle of New York, or even before that, but Spider-Man suspected it was more recent and due to a certain falling grenade.

Because of the darkness and his inability to see where he was going, the climb was endless and took it forever to make his way to the ground.  At last he felt the cold, damp earth.  There was a faint glow of light above him, but it didn’t penetrate far, and certainly not as far down as where Spider-Man was standing.

Spider-Man felt his way along the walls exploring the room as best as he could in the darkness.  There was more spalling along the expanse of concrete.  Whatever burned had to have been down here.

He looped all the way around until he was once again under the dim glow of light from the hole.  He hadn’t found anything more definitive than the spalling along the walls, and he couldn’t see anything.  He didn’t really want to go back home to grab a flashlight but he didn’t think he had much choice.  He needed something that could make some light….

Of course!  He smacked his head.  He was an idiot.  Spider-Man pulled his cell phone out of his gauntlet.  He swiped the screen on, casting a blue glow around him.  It didn’t provide a lot of light, but it was enough to see his immediate surroundings.  

Spider-Man walked around again but he was disappointed this time as well.  He thought the walls looked black, but couldn’t be certain with his limited light. The blue glow made it hard to determine color in the pit. Otherwise, there was nothing down here, no fragments or clues.  Just dirt below him...wait.  Dirt?  

A skyscraper should have concrete at its foundation, not dirt.  Spider-Man bent down.  The dirt wasn’t even that packed down.  Someone had to have added it, and recently.  The dirt was too uniform to have been added to stop the fire, and there was no reason to add dirt to pretty up the basement in a condemned building.  The only other reason Spider-Man could come with was that the dirt was added to hide something.  There was one way to find out what, if anything, the dirt was covering, and that was by digging.

Spider-Man slipped his gloves off and tucked them into his pants.  He knelt down, scrapping his fingertips into the cold earth.  There wasn’t as much dirt as he’d thought, and he was able to reach to the bottom surprisingly easily.  There wasn’t concrete under the dirt, but instead there was a smooth, glass-like surface.  He continued to brush the dirt away, exposing more of the strange floor.  A few feet to the left he found the edge.  

The strange substance, an inch or so thick, tapered off with a slightly beveled edge.  On the other side of it, Spider-Man found the expected concrete foundation.  So the dirt had been added at some point, and Spider-Man guessed it was to cover up this glassy stuff, whatever it was.  Who covered it up?  Why?  And what was this strange substance?  That last question, at least, he could try to do something about.

Spider-Man tried to break off a piece at the edge, but even with his super strength, he couldn’t scrape off a sliver of it.  After spending several frustrating minutes failing to break off a small piece, he looked around to find another section that was smaller.

It took a while clamoring about on his hands and knees feeling around in the dirt but luck was with him and he found another patch of the glassy substance.  This second batch was far smaller than the main one, about a foot in diameter with the same inch or two thickness.  

He went to lift it, but could barely make it budge off the ground.  It was like lifting a ton of bricks.  

“What the hell is this stuff?!” Spider-Man cursed.

It took a great deal of super strength, but he was, at last, able to peel the strange substance up.  Once in hand, he could carry the piece tucked against his body, under one arm, but it was so heavy the climb back up out of the pit felt distinctly off-balance and took far more effort than he was used to.

He paused at the top to give his eyes a chance to readjust to the light before climbing out of the basement and into the drainage ditch.  He longed to put the sample down and rest, but he was afraid that if he set it down for a moment, he wouldn’t be able to pick it back up again.  He shot a strand of web upwards and swung into the air.

“Stop where you are, Spider-Man!” a man called out.

Spider-Man turned his head towards the voice and saw a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents on the ground, all of them pointing guns at him.  How did they expect him to freeze mid-swing?  Physics didn’t work like that!

And what had he done that had S.H.I.E.L.D. after him now?  Last time he had just been caught up in their fight with...he had just been caught up by accident, and the time before that was just after the drug dealer’s apartment exploded and…

“Stay out of our investigation, or next time we will arrest you for interfering.”

Oh damn.

He opened his mouth but he couldn’t get a word out with the sudden screaming of his Spidey-Sense.  He shifted just slightly to the left and he could feel the sharp zing of a bullet whistling past him.

“Wha--?!” But he was cut off again by the necessity of dodging a round of bullets.  “Wait--!  Stop--!  Guys!  Can’t we talk about this?!”

He couldn’t fly but he did have a certain acrobatic grace that allowed him to swing through the air.  Or he did when he wasn’t carrying a block of mysterious substance under his arm that weighed as much as a tank.

Spider-Man twisted in a near-impossible angle which saved him from a bullet to the head, but the sample slipped out of his hand.  He reached for it but it fell quickly and landed on the ground with an unnaturally heavy “thwump”.

For a brief instant Spider-Man considered going after the fallen sample, but it was too dangerous with the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents willing to shoot him in the head over it.  Besides, S.H.I.E.L.D. had it now, so it was in the right hands.  They had it under control.  He wasn’t needed here, and he didn’t want to get in their way.

He quickly swung away, risking a glance back to see if they were going to bother chasing him, but they had diverted their attention completely to the sample on the ground.

********************

“So now it’s just Bennett, mom, and me,” Betty explained to Peter as they walked.  It was an unseasonably warm November evening, so she and Peter and decided to forgo a cab or the bus and elected instead to walk home from the movies.

“How about you?  Does your family have a big Thanksgiving planned?” she asked, then paused in consideration.  “You’ve never mentioned your family much.  Are your parents from around here?  They still together?  Do you have any siblings?”

Peter didn’t want to talk about this; he always dreaded this conversation, even though he knew it had to come up eventually.  They had been going out for a couple weeks now, and with Thanksgiving in a few days, he’d known it was only a matter of time.

It wasn’t so much that it hurt to talk about it.  These were old pains, even Uncle Ben’s death by this point.  It was just… it would shut the conversation down.  Every time the topic of family came up, the other person would feel so bad about bringing it up, and things would get awkward. But it wouldn’t do to lie, and he couldn’t just avoid the topic at this point.  Peter sighed.  

“I don’t have any siblings,” he started.  “And my parents died when I was young.”

And there it was: the shocked face, the blush of someone realizing they were insensitive, and the need to express condolences.  “I’m so sorry.”

Peter wasn’t disappointed. This was the way the conversation always went.  He knew what would be asked next, so he preempted the questions.  “I was taken in by my dad’s brother and his wife, my Uncle Ben and Aunt May.  They raised me in a very loving home.”

He knew he was sounding a touch defensive, but it was his practiced speech whenever the topic came up, because of the people who seemed to cast doubt on whether his aunt and uncle could be a real family for him, that he must deep down miss the love of his parents.  Uncle Ben and Aunt May were just as loving and cared for him just as much as any parent would to their child, even if he hadn’t been their own.  “It’s just me and Aunt May now, and I love her like she was my own mother because she was.”

“I’m sorry,” she said softly.  And that was all they said for a while, the conversation stopped just as he’d known it would.

They walked a few streets in a strained silence when he felt a small hand slip into his coat pocket along his own.  Betty had moved right beside him, her arm brushed up against his, her hand gently squeezing his hand in his pocket.

“I think it’s really remarkable how much you obviously care for your aunt.  Family is important to me too,” Betty said softly.  Then she gave a light laugh.  “Otherwise, I would have gotten a better job ages ago!”

Peter was surprised at the comment and said so.

“Oh, I hate my job!” Betty exclaimed.  “It’s the worst!  Jameson is awful, I hate what I do, this isn’t what I wanted to do with my life, but it’s the only job I could get that pays anywhere near enough to try to pay for mom’s medicine.  And Bennett is no help because he keeps betting away his paycheck so it’s just me.”

“Wow.” Peter was surprised.  In the few weeks they had been together, he hadn’t realized she wasn’t happy with her job.  He didn’t have a sibling gambling away his money, and Aunt May was in pretty good health at the moment, but he could completely relate to her on the job and life frustrations.  “I hate my job so much, too.  My boss is the worst, and I definitely didn’t plan on being a secretary when I went to college.  But I didn’t get the scholarship into grad school, and I can’t afford it on my own, and I can’t ask Aunt May for any more money when she’s already given me so much as is.”

They continued to chat about how their jobs sucked and which one really had the worst boss as they walked.  It was late and the streets had grown quiet.  They eventually made their way to Betty’s apartment complex.

“Would you like to come up for some coffee?” she asked.

Coffee?  At this time of night?  Peter shook his head.  “Nah, I’m not much of a coffee drinker, and I should probably head home.  I’ve got work tomorrow and it’s going to be hard enough to get up in the morning as is.”

“Oh.”  She sounded disappointed and Peter guessed that the reminder of work was as depressing for her as it was for him.

“But it’s a short work week with the holiday, and next week, we’ve got our museum date,” Peter reassured, figuring that something to look forward to would help them get through the next few days of work.

Betty seemed a little off when they hugged goodnight and lightly kissed each other’s cheeks, but Peter figured she was just feeling tired like he was.  Betty went inside and Peter made his way to the bus stop.

He was halfway home, leaning his head against the window, when it suddenly occurred to him that maybe Betty hadn’t actually been inviting him up for just coffee.  That maybe she had been inviting him up to her place to take their relationship to the next level.

Peter liked Betty.  They had a fair bit in common, even more so than he’d previously thought with what he had learned after their discussion about their jobs that evening.  She was intelligent and witty.  She was pretty too.  He liked spending time with her.  She was easy to talk with.  He could actually talk science with her and she not only understood what he was saying, but enjoyed the conversations.  Even more, she actually wanted to go to the Museum of Natural Science with him to see the Women in Science exhibit they were hosting.  None of his other friends had any interest in going with him, but Betty wasn’t just willing to go for him, but she actually wanted to go for herself.  So yeah, he liked her.

He just wasn’t sure if he was ready to be intimate with her.  

Maybe it was for the best that he had inadvertently turned down her advances, if that was what that was.  They could keep things at the level they were at for now.  Maybe with a little more time, he might be able to fall in love with her at last.  And then maybe he’d stop having dreams about someone else.

***************************

“Well, I must say, you have me in a bit of a bind,” Spider-Man noted dryly, indicating the manacles that held his hands together.

Ever since his encounter with S.H.I.E.L.D. at the Rand building, it seemed to be open season on a certain Spider-Man.  He had groups of thugs and mercenaries coming out of the woodwork to attack him.  This was the fifth group, but the first one to actually catch him.  And certainly the first to hang him up by his feet with his hands chained together.

The four mercenaries were sitting down, recovering from their earlier struggle with Spider-Man.  One had her head tilted back with her fingers pinching her nose to stop the nosebleed.  The second was flopped on his back, his arms spread wide, and his breath ragged.  The final two were huddled over a cell phone, having a whispered conference together as they were texting something.  Despite Spider-Man’s witty banter, none of them were currently looking in his direction.

“As much as I’d like to hang around with you, I really need to split,” Spider-Man continued as he pulled his arms forcefully apart, snapping the chain of the manacles open.  With his arms free, he bent himself like an aerialist so he could rip the rope holding his feet to the hook.  Moving quickly, he shot a web to trap the mercenaries before they could scramble to their feet. The web stopped them, but it wouldn’t hold long.  He swung himself out of the warehouse, tossing out one final pun, “But maybe I’ll swing by again later!”

As he swung away, he admonished himself for the fact that he hadn’t stayed to learn what they wanted with him.  He would regret it tomorrow, but it was late and he was tired, and he just didn’t care enough about them at the moment.  As if it wasn’t difficult enough to work himself up to put on his mask these days, now he had this to deal with.  These repeated attacks were becoming a serious problem, if only because of how exhaustive it was to take an excessively circuitous route through the city to get home in order to throw off any possible pursuit or spies.

At least it was Friday night; tomorrow he had his date with Betty and he could pretend to be a normal guy for once.

*************************

“Oh, so this is Gerty Cori,” Betty noted as she and Peter stepped in front of the large black and white photograph on display.  They were holding hands as they walked through the Women in Science exhibit on display at the Museum of Natural History.

“She was the third woman, and the first American woman, to win a Nobel Prize in science and the first woman to be awarded one in Physiology or Medicine,” Peter read aloud from the plaque beside the picture.

“She and her husband discovered how glycogen breakdown in muscle tissue to become lactic acid and are then resynthesized in the body to be stored as a source of energy,” Betty explained.

“Oh, the Cori cycle.  Named for Carl and Gerty Cori.  Right,” Peter recalled.  It had been a few years since he had been studying biochem but he still remembered some of the history.

“I actually just interviewed her grandniece, Eloise Cori.  It’s going to be my first big article.”

“Congrats!” Peter gave her a big smile.  “Not only for your first big story, but for also getting at least some progress on moving forward with your career and life.”

“Oh god yes.  A few more of these and I might actually have enough ‘experience’ to get a real job!  It’s so maddening; I can’t get a real job because I don’t have any experience, but I can’t get experience because I can’t get a job!”

Peter nodded in sympathy, though his own situation wasn’t the same.  His problem was he didn’t have the time or money to afford to do an unpaid internship and he’d failed to get accepted for the scholarship that would have paid him to go to grad school.  He didn’t think he was going to be able to do anything to improve his life at rate things were going, but he was happy that Betty might have a chance at starting her real career with science journalism.

“So give me a preview,” Peter urged.  “What is Eloise known for?”

“She’s also into biochem, like her famous grand aunt and uncle,” Betty explained.  “She’s still rather young but there’s a fair bit of buzz around her research in drug delivery methods and how the human body reacts to the different methods.  And she just moved to a medical center here in New York.”

“I look forward to reading the article almost as much as I’ll look forward to seeing your name on the byline,” Peter told her.

She nudged him playfully with a pleased and bashful smile.  

At the end of the room, Betty asked Peter if he could hold her coat and bag.  “I need to use the restroom,” she explained.  

Peter nodded in agreement.  “Sure.  I’ll be over here spending some quality time with Hedy Lamarr.”

“Not too quality, I hope, or I might get jealous,” Betty teased back as she handed her stuff over.

Hedy Lamarr was a film actress and genius inventor.  Rather than just help the American war effort with song and dance like her film studio wanted, she’d put her intellect to use and created frequency-hopping spread-spectrum methods to prevent the torpedoes frequencies from being jammed and sent off course.  She had known that she had a responsibility to help in a direct, hands-on approach and had chosen to work behind the scenes to invent life-saving technology instead of just playing the role of a Hollywood diva that her studio expected of her.  Peter always respected her for that.

“She was always your favorite, wasn’t she?” a familiar voice asked.

Peter turned and saw someone he had never expected to see again: Gwen Stacy.  She looked just as beautiful as when he had last seen her, three years ago.

They had started dating towards the end of freshman year of college; Harry had introduced them at a party and they’d hit it off right away.  All of the previous women Harry had tried to set him up with that year hadn’t worked out, but he had been immediately drawn to Gwen.  She was the first girl that Peter thought he might really be happy with--Mary Jane was wonderful, incredible even, but they weren’t right for each other and they knew it.  It had ended amicably when they graduated and she moved out to California to start her acting career.  But with Gwen...he’d thought that perhaps she was someone he could spend his life with.

They had dated for almost a year before it ended.  No, not ‘it ended’.  That made it sound passive, like he had nothing to do with it.  He had everything to do with it.

He had broken up with her because he’d been scared.  He was so scared that she was going to be hurt by being around him.  By being around a guy who happened to be Spider-Man.  And she didn’t, couldn’t, know the danger.

One day early spring, there had been a hold-up on a bus.  Spider-Man had saved the day, with only minimal injuries all around.  It should have been a triumph.  But Gwen had happened to be on that bus.  And Peter had panicked.

And because he panicked, things didn’t go very smoothly and long story short, Gwen had gotten hurt.  Not badly, but enough.

Gwen was distraught about her injury.  Mr. Stacy, Gwen’s father and a cop, was furious that a nameless vigilante butted his way into things and made the situation worse; Spider-Man should’ve just let the cops do their job.  And Harry was right there with Mr. Stacy, lambasting Spider-Man as a menace for getting his best friend’s girlfriend hurt by his incompetence.  Krissi was the only one who didn’t express hatred for Spider-Man, probably because she was also friends with him through her work with S.H.I.E.L.D.  Instead she argued that Spider-Man should probably join an organization and get some real training.  Peter knew she meant that he should join S.H.I.E.L.D., but he refused to because S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn’t let him join without sharing his real identity.

So everyone had been hating on him--well on Spider-Man, not knowing that was him.  He’d felt completely alone.  On top of that stress, he’d been plagued with nightmares for weeks afterwards, making him sleep-deprived and even more miserable.  It had been a real low point for him.  

He’d tried to make things work with Gwen but he kept having these doubts:  How could he be with her when he couldn’t even protect her?  When it was his fault she had gotten hurt?  And what would have happened had any of the villains he dealt with learned that she was his girlfriend?  How could he ever choose between protecting her or protecting others, or even worse, protecting the city if it came to that?

The thought of losing someone close to him--again--was his biggest nightmare.  He was still haunted by his failure to protect Uncle Ben.  It had been a mistake to get involved with her.  He wasn’t someone that could have a relationship, not while he was also a superhero.

He told her that it wasn’t going to work.  After that, their lives had diverged.  Gwen had studied abroad during year three, and Peter had graduated early.  Out of college, there was no chance they’d see each other again, or so he had thought.

Now, here she was, standing in front of him.  Why wasn’t this the sort of thing his Spidey-Senses could give him some warning about?

Gwen walked up and stood beside him, but her attention remained on the large photograph of Hedy Lamarr.

“Classic era movie star and talented inventor.  You made me watch all of her movies with you.  I remember curling up on your dorm room bed, huddled on that bottom bunk, looking at your roommate’s tiny 13-inch television, watching crappy VHS tapes.  And who even has VHS tapes anymore?  But you were so enraptured.  It’s nice to see that even after all these years, you haven’t changed, Peter.”

She turned to him and her face was a mix of emotions--fondness and sadness most prominent.

“It’s good to see you again, Gwen.”  He was surprised to realize how much he meant it.

Peter held an arm out and Gwen stepped in and embraced him.

“It’s so good to see you, too, Peter,” she said, her voice muffled by his body.

“I haven't seen you in forever,” Peter said as they broke off their hug.  “What are you doing here?”

“It’s my dad’s fiftieth birthday.  The whole extended family is in for the weekend.  We had a big celebration last night, and today, well, to keep the younger cousins entertained for the afternoon, we came to the museum, and then, well…,” she shrugged, opening her hands.  “I saw you, so I came over to say hello.”

“I’m really glad you did,” Peter said honestly.

"Peter?" a voice asked from behind him and it took him a moment to realize it was Betty coming back from the restroom.

Peter startled.  Betty looked wary.  Right, he should introduce them.

"Oh.  Yeah.  Betty.  This is Gwen.  We used to date back in college."  He turned back to Gwen.  "Gwen, this is Betty.  She's a friend of mine."

Betty stiffened.  Peter wondered what was wrong.  He tried to smooth things over.  "Hey, Gwen-- Betty and I were going to go out after we finished here at the museum.  You should join us."

"Actually," Betty interrupted.  "I'm suddenly not feeling well.  I think I should go home."  She paused, with an expression that seemed expectant.

"Oh," Peter said a bit glumly.  "Well, if you're not feeling well then you should probably go home."

Before Peter could ask if she wanted help getting home, she took her coat and bag from him and walked off stiffly, the sound of her heels clacking on the museum floor echoing through the room.  

"What was that about?" He looked helplessly over at Gwen, to see if maybe she had a clue about what had just happened.

Gwen sighed.  "Oh Peter."

"What?" he asked, mystified.

***********************

After checking in with her cousins, Gwen agreed to join Peter for dinner.  They found a restaurant that was within their budget not too far from the museum.

After the waiter took their orders, Gwen turned to Peter and asked, "Why are you doing this to yourself, Peter?"

“Hmm?” Peter asked, uncertain what she was talking about.

“The girl, from the museum…”

“Betty?

“Why do you agree to date a girl and then continuously sabotage the relationship?” she asked, the exasperation clear in her tone.

“I didn’t...I mean, I… How?  What sabotage?” Peter stumbled, uncertain what he had supposedly done that would be called ‘sabotage’, either when he was with Gwen or what she could possibly have seen in the brief interaction with Betty.

“Why are you still trying to date woman at all, Peter?  You know it won’t work out.  Are you still trying to hide who you really are?"

She couldn’t possibly be talking about what he thought she was talking about.  She couldn’t possibly know that he was Spider-Man.  "I don't know what you mean..."

"It's because of Harry, isn't it?” Gwen asked

“Huh?”  Peter was completely lost in the conversation now.

“Harry hooked you up with her, right?"

"Well, yeah," Peter admitted, still unsure how that was relevant.

Gwen sighed deeply.  "He doesn't quit trying.  He wants you to be 'normal', the way he sees it, and he won't accept that you're not like him and you'll never be like him.”

Well, of course Peter would never be like him; Harry was super rich and popular while Peter was poor and a nobody.

"I thought you were done hiding," Gwen continued.  "That you were finally going to be honest and at least let those close to you know.  That's why I was alright when you broke up with me.  I care about you, even now, but I couldn’t stay with you once I realized that you were...well, you know."

She stopped as the waiter returned with their salads and drinks.  After telling the waiter they were fine for now, they ate their salads in silence while Peter’s mind raced.

She knew?  She knew that he was Spider-Man?  

"How long have you known?" Peter asked, his voice low so only the two of them would be able to hear.

“Well, I started to suspect pretty early on, but the more I was with you, the more I realized, and well, I finally put two and two together that spring when you started to get distant, you know, after the bus incident.”

She knew.  She knew he was Spider-Man.  He didn’t have to lie to her anymore.  He could finally tell her how sorry he was.  “Gwen, I’m so sorry.  I never met to hurt you…” he blurted out in a rush.

“I know, Peter.” She put a hand on his and gave a reassuring squeeze.

A knot of anxiety he didn’t know he had loosened in the pit of his stomach.

They went back to eating.  When they had both finished their salads, Gwen spoke up again, “I’m only upset that even now, you’re still hiding who you are, still lying to those close to you, still letting Harry hook you up with women when you know it won’t work out.”

“I don’t think I can tell them, Gwen.  I...I don’t want any of them to be hurt--” It was dangerous for people to be around Spider-Man.  He couldn’t risk those he cared about getting hurt!

“Oh, Peter, you still try to protect everyone but yourself, don’t you?” Gwen looked at him with both fondness and pity.  “I can understand why you are hesitant to tell Harry, and even the others, but you could at least tell Aunt May.”

No way!  Aunt May was the last person he wanted to tell.  He didn’t want her to worry.

Gwen must have seen how he felt from his face.  “Aunt May isn't going to care, Peter.  She's going to love you no matter what.  She might actually be relieved.  You know how perceptive she is; I suspect she knows you’re hiding something, and that probably upsets her more than anything else.”

Peter shook his head.

“The more you keep it bottled up and hidden, the more you're just hurting yourself, keeping a wall up between you and your loved ones,” Gwen told him.  “And you're never going to have a satisfying relationship at this rate.”

"Well, I'll think about it," Peter decided.  "But I still think it would be too much of a risk.”

"I think you'd be surprised, Peter.  Most of your friends probably already know.  You're not as good at hiding it as you think you are.  It shows through,” she said.

Peter thought back to the night during the summer, when Krissi had been taking care of him after he had been caught in the explosion at the drug dealer's apartment.  He’d had that dream of Krissi comforting him from a nightmare about Deadpool dying.  When he’d talked to Krissi about it afterwards, it had seemed like she didn't know what he was talking about and he’d shrugged it off as just a dream. But what if it wasn't?  What if Krissi did know?  She was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent after all.  And the agent assigned to keep tabs on Spider-Man.  Of all of his friends, Peter had to conclude that Krissi probably knew.

"I think Krissi knows," Peter reluctantly agreed.

"I know Krissi knows," Gwen replied.  "Based on the conversations we used to have.  Nothing outright, but 'I know that you know and I know' hints.  But it's not just Krissi.  Harry knows too."

"What?  Really?"  Peter questioned, his voice full of surprise.

"Yeah, why do you think he keeps trying to hook you up with women?"

"That doesn't make sense," Peter murmured.

"Sure it does.  He knew about that crush you had on him when you were younger, so he hooked you up with Mary Jane.  And since then he's tried to get you dating girls anytime you show any vague interest in another guy.  He hooked the two of us up because of that cute guy in your science class you had been getting close to freshman year.  What happened this time that he set you up with Betty?  Mentioned your crush on Captain America now that he’s been found alive?”

Peter choked, erupting in a loud coughing fit.

“Are you alright?” she asked with concern.

“Y--yeah, it’s just…” Peter trailed off, not sure what to say.  All this time, she wasn’t talking about him being Spider-Man.  All this time, she thought he was gay!

“I’m sorry, I was being a bit rude, wasn’t I?  It’s not you, honest,” she said.  “I’m not angry with you.  I’m just frustrated with Harry.  I know how close the two of you are but his homophobia is making your life miserable and it makes me so angry!”

Should he correct her?  But wasn’t it easier if she did think he was gay?

He was saved from talking more when the waiter brought over their dinner, and during the rest of the meal, he changed the topic to Gwen, letting her tell him about her life since college.  As dinner ended, they exchanged emails and numbers, and he promised to think about telling his friends that he was gay.  Since ‘they probably already knew’.

And then he went home, collapsed on his bed, stared at the ceiling, and wondered if maybe, just maybe, they could possibly be right.

Chapter Text

Issue 21: Don We Now Our Gay Apparel...

"Hey there, handsome," a voice purred.

Spider-Man turned around and saw that the speaker was a young woman with unnaturally white-blond hair that matched the fur trim on her otherwise black leather catsuit.  The skintight catsuit that she had clearly poured herself into.  Wow, she was young.  Admittedly, it was hard to tell with her half-mask and makeup, but Spider-Man guessed she was maybe 18.  At least about the age where she would say she was 18.  Too young to be running around the streets at night.

He sighed.  He should have expected that there would be copy cats.  Geez.  After the Avengers made it look cool by saving Manhattan last year, it seemed anyone with a costume was claiming to be a superhero.

“Who are you supposed to be?” Spider-Man questioned, playing along.

“They call me ‘Black Cat’,” she answered.

Spider-Man almost snorted but stopped himself.  After all, he had initially wanted to call himself ‘The Human Spider’ and it was the wrestling agent he had briefly employed that had dubbed him ‘Spider-Man’.  After several years he could appreciate that it was a much better name, but at the time it had stung.  ‘Black Cat’ didn’t seem to be a very good superhero name--too derivative of ‘Black Widow’--but if she wanted to be ‘Black Cat’ he could call her that.

“Well, Black Cat, what are you doing up on this rooftop?”

He expected her to tell him all about her decision to become a hero, and then she’d probably ask him about mentoring her.  Part of him wanted to send her back home, safe and sound, but, well, after spending so much of his summer with Dea--patrolling with a partner, he also found himself intrigued with the idea of having a new, cute sidekick.

What he didn’t expect was for her to announce, “I came up here about the bounty on your head.”

“The what?”  Spider-Man was thrown.  

Of course, it was just his luck that the violent, insane mercenary had wanted to be friends and learn how to be a hero from him and the little, friendly girl wanted to turn him in for a bounty.

And really, it was just his luck that he had a bounty on his head at all.

He should have known, with the numerous people who had been chasing after him, that there was a price on his head.  What had he done?  Had there always been a bounty out on him?  Had he pissed S.H.I.E.L.D. off enough so they weren’t stopping others from hunting him down?  Or maybe it was S.H.I.E.L.D. that was hunting him?  No, they would just go after him themselves if they were still upset about him getting in their way.  But seriously, what had he done that had someone (or someones) so upset that they had put a price on him?

“What do you know about the bounty?” Spider-Man asked her.

"Ah, ah, ah," she tsked at him, shaking her head dismissively.  "That's not how this game is played.  If you want to know, you're going to have to catch me."

With a flirty glance at him, she spun and took off, disappearing into the night.

Spider-Man shrugged his shoulders.  He sat down beside the brown paper bag that he had at his feet.  He pulled out the half a sandwich he had saved from the lunch Krissi had given him earlier that day and carefully unwrapped it.  He began to eat deliberately, savoring each bite.

About twenty minutes later, Black Cat returned, slinking back across the rooftop and stopping a few feet away from him.  She stood in a firm stance, her hands on her hips.  "What's wrong with you?" she demanded.  "Aren't you going to chase me?"

Spider-Man shook his head. "No."  He maintained eye contact with her as he crumbled the sandwich wrapper, placed it into the paperbag, then casually leaned over and dropped the whole thing into the dumpster on the street directly below him.

Youthful arrogance was her downfall in this case.  She would have been better off pretending to be a hero-in-training then to announce right off that she was looking for a bounty, but he didn’t tell her that.  He wasn’t going to mentor someone in villainy.  And the way she was going, he wasn’t so certain he wanted to mentor her in being a hero either.

"Oh come on,” she cajoled.  “A hot woman in skintight leather wants you to chase her, and you don't?"

"Lady, I'm in spandex that's so tight you could mistake it for body paint, and you think a tight leather outfit is going to befuddle me enough to follow you into an obvious trap?" Spider-Man asked incredulously.

"Yes?" Her tone more of a question than a statement.

"Yeah, no.  Not happening."

“Oh come on!  Don’t you want to know about that bounty on your head?”

“Not enough to follow you into an obvious trap,” Spider-Man reemphasized.

“Fine then,” she snapped, and Spider-Man thought that would be the end of it.  For that night at least.  He was quickly abused of that idea when he heard a distinctive metal click.  

He looked down to find that she had hooked his right wrist with a handcuff, the other side of which was locked around her left wrist.

“Are you kidding me?!” Spider-Man exploded, leaping to his feet.    

Black Cat winced at his outburst, but then resumed her defiant stance.

“You should not be handcuffing yourself to strange men!” He scolded.  He knew that he was a hero and would never do anything to hurt her, but imagine what someone else might do having a nubile girl handcuffing herself to him?  She couldn't understand the sort of danger... Someone else might-- He would have taken it as an invitation... The constant flirting and innuendos were bad enough without it crossing into full-on sexual harassment!  His gut twisted in knots.

Black Cat ignored him while she pulled out her cell phone.  

“I have him.  Spider-Man.  Yes.  Of course I was able to capture him!  I’m Black Cat, I can steal anything!”

Spider-Man snorted.

She ignored him, continuing her cell phone conversation.  “Well, it might be better if you could come to our location.”  She relayed the street address, then added.  “On the roof.  Because I caught him on the roof, alright?”

He rolled his eyes.  Then he plucked the phone from her hand.

“Hey!” she complained.

“What do you want me for?” he demanded.

“Spider-Man?” a thickly accented voice asked over the phone.

“Give that back!” Black Cat demanded as she made a futile attempt to grab the phone from him.

Spider-Man turned, and moved to keep his back towards her.  She tried reaching around but her arms were much too short to do so.  “Yeah, and I’d really like to know why there’s a bounty on my head.”

There was a pause as the voice seemed to consider the question.  “It’s not actually you that I need, but who you can lead me to...”

“Who I can lead you to…?” Spider-Man repeated before the realization hit.  Him.  

Again, he was being harassed all because of that bastard.  Again.  “I hate to break it to you, but he’s been gone for nearly three months now.”

“You were very… close,” the voice said mildly.

Spider-Man winced.  Black Cat had started pounding on his back.  There was a pun about ‘hissy fits’ here that he was a little too distracted to voice, but he filed it away for later in case she continued to behave immaturely.

“Maybe a little,” Spider-Man conceded, since anyone with eyes would have seen that they had spent most of the summer patrolling the city together.  “But the hero lessons ended when I learned he broke into a government facility.”  That wasn’t the case at all, but he wasn’t going to tell anyone about what really happened, particularly when the government break-in made a conveniently timed excuse.  “He’s gone, and I have no idea where he is or what he’s up to since he left.”

“I had heard about the break-in,” the voice admitted.  “And the theft of those fabulous Falcon wings.”

“If your beef is with him, I can’t help you.  But if you do find him, I wouldn’t mind getting a chance to sock him one myself."  Spider-Man was surprised by the heat in his voice.  More so by how much he meant what he was saying.

“I see.  You are a dead-end.  I confess that I am somewhat relieved.  Attempts to capture you were becoming quite a drain on my resources.”

“Well gosh, I am so sorry to have been such an imposition on your budget,” Spider-Man replied, his voice dripping sarcasm.

“Indeed,” the voice replied as if Spider-Man had sincerely apologized.  “Well, do put the Black Cat back on the phone.”

Spider-Man rolled his eyes and handed the phone back.

Black Cat grabbed it eagerly, kicking Spider-Man in the shins for good measure.  

“What?  But I just captured him!” she complained. “Fine then, but I still better get paid.  I did capture him after all!”

Some agreement must of been reached, because after hanging up her phone, she pulled out a small key.  She unlocked the cuff on her own wrist first.  Spider-Man waited for her to unlock his next, but instead she quickly hooked the open cuff onto a metal pole attached to the emergency stairs.

“Hey!” Spider-Man protested.

“Bye-bye, Spider-Man!”  Black Cat dropped the key just out of his reach and then took off running.

Spider-Man sighed.  With a quick flick of his wrist, he was able to snag the key with a strand of webbing and hank it back towards him.  With the cuff off, he rubbed his wrist.  He considering chasing down Black Cat but decided not to bother.  She hadn’t actually done anything and it wasn’t her fault that he had the bounty on his head.

This was all his fault.  Even when he wasn’t around, he was still making life difficult.  But maybe the constant attacks on Spider-Man would end now?  Spider-Man could only hope.

************************

“I’m sorry things didn’t work out with that Betty girl,” Aunt May said.

Peter mumbled a noncommittal response as he scrubbed a plate.  It had been a few weeks since the disastrous date at the museum. A few angry phone conversations later had ended the relationship, and Peter still didn’t quite feel up to talking about it.

“That is,”Aunt May continued, “I’m sorry for your sake, but not that it ended.  I didn’t think she was right for you.  She wasn’t your type.”

Peter froze, the nearly-cleaned plate slipping back into the hot, soapy water.

“Most of your friends probably already know. You’re not as good at hiding it as you think you are. It shows through.”

“You know how perceptive she is; I suspect she knows you’re hiding something, and that probably upsets her more than anything else.”

Peter turned to his aunt, who stood at the kitchen table with her back to him as she spooned the leftovers from their quiet Christmas dinner into plastic containers.  She hadn’t noticed his adverse reaction to her words.  He schooled himself to speak in an even tone, “W-Why do you say that?”

“Why?” Aunt May repeated, turning towards Peter.  “I thought it obvious.”

Gwen was right; his family and friends DID think that he was gay!

Peter shook his head, fighting a growing sense of panic.  “What’s obvious?”

“Oh.”  Aunt May shrugged unconcerned and explained, “Well, it's because you’re an introvert, and she was definitely an extrovert.  That can be fun for a while, but before too long a relationship like that would be too exhausting!  It wouldn't have lasted.”

“Oh.” Peter blushed. “Of course.”

Darnit.  He was such a paranoid mess.  He kept leaping to conclusions, mistaking what people were talking about.  Even more since that conversation with Gwen a couple of weeks ago.

He turned back to the dishes, hoping Aunt May hadn’t seen his blush.  She would ask what he was blushing about and how could he explain?  That he thought, that she thought, that he was gay?  And what if she said she did?  He felt nauseous.

He was saved from having to come up with some further response by the phone ringing.

“Oh, poo,” Aunt May muttered.  Peter could hear her moving about in the small kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel and picking up the phone mere seconds before it went to voicemail.

“Hello, this is May,” she announced herself.  “Oh, Krissi dear!  Merry Christmas to you, too!  Peter?  He’s washing dishes right now.  We just finished up.  Here, I’ll put you on speakerphone.”

“Merry Christmas,” Krissi repeated now that Peter could also hear her.

“Merry Christmas!” Peter exclaimed loudly back to her.

“Did you get anything fun?” Krissi asked, getting straight to the heart of the matter.

“Aunt May knitted me a Jayne hat.  And a Doctor Who scarf!”

“You’re going to need them,” Krissi responded.  “If the almanac is right, it’s going to be a long, cold, and snowy winter.  And you, Aunt May?”

“I got the Hobbit on Blu ray,” Aunt May informed her.

“I know what you’re doing for the next few days,” Krissi said, and Peter could almost hear the smile in her voice.

“Next few days?  Try the next week!  I’ll need to marathon the Lord of the Rings special editions and then of course watch the old cartoon version…!”

“Good thing you’ve got the week off between the holidays then.”

“It does make it easier,” Aunt May agreed.

“Did you get anything fun, Krissi?” Peter asked.

“Yup!  I got the new iPhone!” she exclaimed.

Peter was both happy for her and incredibly jealous.  Ok, mostly happy because Krissi would probably let him have her old one at a good price.  “How’s Evan?” he asked.

“Oh, you know,” Krissi replied.  “Happy to see his family.  It’s loud and chaotic.  I’m about to go crazy.”

Peter smirked.  “So, basically, the usual.”

“Pretty much,” she agreed.

“And yet you go back every year, happily,” Aunt May noted dryly.

“The things I do for my love!”

“You wouldn’t want it any other way,” Peter said.

“Oh, I would want some of it different if I could…” she trailed off.  “So how was your holiday?”

“The opposite of yours,” Aunt May told her.  “Quiet.”

“Tasty,” Peter added.  “Aunt May made all of our favorites.”

“And only our favorites.  I’m too old to bother with anything else.”

“You’re not that old!” Krissi interjected.

“And flattery will get you a plate of homemade cookies when you come back to the city.”

“I look forward to it.  So what did you have?”

“Chocolate pudding pie, pumpkin pie…”

“Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes,” Peter continued.

“I was telling her about the good stuff.”

Krissi laughed.  “I could stand to hear a bit more about this ‘chocolate pudding pie’ of yours, Aunt May.  I’m totally craving something chocolate right now, but this place is sadly lacking in the chocolate department."

"You could make some," Aunt May pointed out.

"I know, but I don’t have graham crackers or chocolate pudding in the house and I can’t just go to the store.”

“Well, how about my one-mug chocolate cake?”

“What’s that?”

“A little chocolate cake you can make with easy ingredients in the microwave,” Aunt May explained.  “Really simple to make.”

“If you say so, Aunt May.”

“Don’t go patronizing me, Krissi, or you won’t get those cookies after all.”

“I was going more for ‘sass’ than ‘patronizing’,” Krissi replied mildly.

“Oh, well, ‘sass’ is perfectly acceptable,” Aunt May allowed.  “Now where was I?”

“One-mug chocolate cake.”

“Right.  So, start by putting four tablespoons flour, four tablespoons of sugar, and two tablespoons of cocoa powder into a mug.  Add an egg and mix, then three tablespoons of milk, three tablespoons of oil and mix again. Mix in chocolate chips to make it more chocolatey, or fruit, or a splash of rum for extra flavoring.  Microwave for 3 minutes and you’ve got yourself a chocolate cake,” Aunt May explained.

“That sounds so freaking amazing,” Krissi said.  “And yeah, that does sounds like something I can do tonight.”

“Did you get all of that that or do you need me to repeat it so you can write it down?”

“I got it just fine.”

“What did I say about patronizing me, Krissi?”

“Still going with ‘sass’ with that one...”  Krissi trailed off as there was an indeterminable sound on the other end of the line.  “I’m hearing my name bellowed,” Krissi explained.  “I better get going.  Have a good rest of the holiday.  And Peter, give my regards to Harry.”

“Sure thing, Krissi.”

“Wait a minute, Krissi.  I’m just finishing here and I’ll have my hands free.”

“Okay.”

Aunt May put the last of the dishes from their meal in front of Peter, then she grabbed the phone and turned off the speaker.

“Yes,” Aunt May said into the phone, answering some question only she could now hear.  “I’ve noticed, too.  I’ve done what I can, but you know...Yes, exactly.  Thank you.  Take care, and I’ll see you soon.  Bye Krissi.”

Before Peter could consider what they might have been talking about, just the two of them, Aunt May was hanging up the phone.  He mentally shrugged and returned his focus to the stack of dishes that still needed to be washed.

When Peter finished, he saw that Aunt May had piled the leftover containers onto the counter.

“Shall I put these into the fridge for you?” he asked, uncertain why she hadn’t done so when she finished filling them.

“Take these home with you,” Aunt May directed him.  “I’ve got these set up as complete meals, ready-to-go.  Just pop a container into the microwave, and you’ve got a full meal.”

“You don’t want any of these for yourself?”

“You won’t let me come over to make you dinner,” Aunt May said in place of answering his question.

“I told you, it would be too much.  The bus tickets are so expensive, and I wouldn’t feel right having you--”

“We’ve argued over this plenty already,” Aunt May cut him off.  “You won’t let me come over to make you dinner, and you don’t have the time or money to come over here, so I’m doing the next best thing I can to take care of my darling nephew, so shut up and let me do it.”

Peter was both amused and frustrated with her proclamation.  Amusement won out because what else could he do?  “Yes, Aunt May.”

“Good.  I’m sending you home with enough meals to give you a week’s worth of easy dinners.”

“Thank you, Aunt May.”

His acquiesce seemed to mollify his aunt.  “So head home, put these into your fridge or freezer, put your presents away, and then head over to see Harry,” she ordered him.  “He could probably use a friendly face about now.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.  You know how his family can get, and it's the holidays.”

Peter shook his head, his face broke into a small, mildly amused smile.  “I meant about heading off now.  You don’t want me to stay and spend the whole day with you?”

“You gave me the Hobbit, the Unexpected Journey for Christmas, Peter.  Over 8 hours of special features.  Seriously, the longer you hang around here, the longer I have to wait before I can watch it.”

Peter laughed.  “I love you, Aunt May.”

“Love you, too.  Now get going.”

“I’m going,” Peter told her.

“Over eight hours.”

“Yes, yes, Aunt May, I’m putting on my coat now.”

***************

“Again?!” Harry exclaimed, throwing his controller down in frustration.  “The fucking prick has got to be camping by the spawn point.  That’s so fucking gay!”

Without Harry, Peter was pretty much on his own.  The fight didn’t last much longer.

“Sorry,” Peter apologized when his avatar was killed.  He knew he was the weak link on their team, but since he only got to play this game when he was visiting Harry, it was understandable that he wasn’t nearly as good.

“It’s fine,” Harry assured, then raised his voice into the headset mic to address the others in the game chat.  “We might have lost this round, but we didn’t have to resort to cheap gay-ass moves like that fucking pussy, right Peter?”

Peter’s face was a mask of forced cheer.  “Yeah.”

“No, you tell those faggots that if they don’t agree to my terms, we’re going to walk!  I don’t have time to play their little games,” Norman Osborn barked into his cell phone as he stormed through the hallway outside Harry’s gaming room.

Peter flinched, not just because of Norman’s words, but because of Norman’s arrival in general.  He prayed that Norman wouldn’t notice him.  Peter had long felt uncomfortable around Harry’s father, and he was certain Norman didn’t like him either.  Which was funny considering that Norman had liked him well enough when Peter and Harry had first became friends in middle school.

Back then, Peter had gotten the impression that Norman thought a quiet, studious, little nerd boy was a good influence on his less-than-academic son.  But by the time they were in college, Norman had started acting overly cold towards him.  He figured that Norman must have realized how broke Peter was and maybe he thought he wasn’t good enough since he was poor and had no important connections.  Whatever the reason, Norman had gone from a friendly fatherly figure to contemptuous and distant.  Peter had really hoped he wouldn’t have to deal with Norman tonight.

He had no such luck.  Norman finished his conversation then looked around, registering for the first time where he had wound up in his pacing through his house.

“Ah, boys,” Norman addressed them, his voice booming.  “Wasting your time with games I see.”

Harry swallowed thickly.  “Just having some fun, sir.”

Norman looked disapproving.  “You’re never going to make something of yourself at this rate, Harry.  When I was your age, I was building a company with my own two hands.”

“It’s Christmas,” Harry tried again.

“Not in every part of the world,” Norman shot back.  “Business doesn’t wait.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry responded, glumly, removing his headset.  Peter followed suit, but immediately regretted it.  His movement drew Norman’s sharp eyes away from his son.

“So, Peter,” Norman sneered.  “What are you up to these days?  Have you gotten a real job yet?”

Peter could feel his cheeks flushing with humiliation as he admitted, “Not quite yet.  I’m still working the temp job.”

Norman sniffed disdainfully.

“Peter’s been dating Liz’s friend, Betty,” Harry interjected.

Peter looked over at him in surprise.  First, he didn’t see what that had to do with anything, and secondly, Harry knew that he and Betty had broken up weeks ago.

“Really?” Norman asked, looking at Peter thoughtfully.

Harry looked intently at Peter.  

“Uh, yeah,” Peter agreed.

Peter must have understood what Harry wanted, because Harry gave a hint of a smile.

“Hmm.  Well, perhaps then the four of you could double date at my next business dinner,” Norman said after a moment of consideration.  “You might make some connections that could lead to a real job.”

“That would be great, wouldn’t it, Peter?” Harry prompted.

“Yeah,” Peter agreed, but he didn’t see how it would be possible when he wasn’t actually dating Betty anymore.  Still, he wasn’t going to contradict Harry in front of his father.  Harry must have had something in mind for him to have said that, and Peter would just go along with it for now.  He would have a chance to ask what Harry planned later.

Norman’s phone buzzed.  He swiped it on and demanded, “What?  No, don’t be a retard.  Do I have to spell out every step to you?”

Without even a glance at his son, Norman was storming back to his office and away from Harry and Peter.  They sat side by side, not moving, for several long moments past the point when they could no longer hear Norman’s loud voice.  

“And just like that, he’s forgotten about us already,” Harry declared with an exaggerated flourish of his hands and a wry smile.

He looked down for a second, his expression flat.  Peter almost reached out to touch his hand in sympathy, but before he could Harry’s head jerked upright again.  Peter drew his hand back, uncertain.  Harry nodded towards the television and asked in a falsely cheerful tone, “Wanna try another game?”

********************

Peter snuggled deeper into the puppy cuddle pile on Krissi’s oversized king bed.  It was about two in the morning and he was the only one left besides Evan and Krissi.  All the other guests had already left over an hour ago.  It was late and he was pleasantly buzzed, but unusually alert.

“Kinda surprised you came to our party and not Harry’s," Krissi murmured sleepily as she lazily patted Peter's head.

“I saw him at Christmas so I figured I should see you for New Year’s," Peter replied.

“Still, it was a big party by all accounts," Evan noted.  "Plenty of hot models and movie stars.  Rumor was there might have even been an Avenger showing up.”

“I know, but…” Peter trailed off.  He went to shrug but found he wasn't in a very good position to do so when Evan mumbled in protest.

When they had settled back into a comfortable position, Krissi asked, “Did something happen at Christmas?”

Peter didn't want to talk about it, so he demurred, “Not really…”

“But something did happen.”  She was always too observant.

Peter sighed.  “I guess.  I mean, nothing really, it’s just…”

“Just..?” Krissi encouraged.

“Well, they were a bit, um…” Peter struggled to find the right word.  “Rude,” he settled on.

“What do you mean?” Evan wondered.

“Well, Norman and Harry tend to say things that could be…mean.”

“Did one of them say something mean to you?” Krissi asked.

Peter shook his head. “Not to me.  Just in general.” He could tell they weren’t getting it. “Like they say a lot of things that could be taken as slurs.”

“Slurs?"

He really didn't want to be talking about this, but it was too late now.  Mortified, he explained, “Like ‘gay’, ‘retard’, and ‘faggot’ and things like that.”  

Krissi and Evan gave each other a significant glance over Peter’s head.  

“Stop that,” he grumbled, flailing a hand half-heartedly over his head to break up their line of sight.

“We’re just wondering what brought on this sudden realization on your part,” Krissi said.  Her tone was careful.

“What do you mean, ‘sudden’?”  Peter stopped as a new thought occurred to him.  “Do you mean… that is… has it always been that bad?”

Evan snorted.  Peter sat up, twisting to glare at his friend.

Krissi reached out and placed her hand on Peter's.  "Yes, Peter, it has always been that bad,” she confirmed.

“But why have I--” Peter cut himself off.  He knew why he was noticing it now.  It was all because of that conversation a few weeks ago with Gwen, when she told him that she and apparently all of his friends, thought he was gay and now whenever he was with his friends that was all he could think about.  

He wasn’t.  He couldn’t possibly be.  Other people were gay and that was fine--

Krissi interrupted his devolving thought process as she spoke.

“I wasn’t there, so I can’t say if it was really worse than usual.  Maybe it was and that’s why you noticed it in particular, but Harry, and especially his father, are not the most,”-- she paused, considering-- “open-minded,” she concluded, diplomatically.

“In other words, they’re big, giant homophobes,” Evan bit out.

Peter flushed with anger.  That was going too far.  Sure, Harry might say some bad things sometimes, but he wasn’t homophobic!

“Don’t you call Harry a homophobe!”

“I’m calling him one because he is one,” Evan shot back.

“Mr. Osborn is very much homophobic,” Krissi broke in before Peter could respond. “Harry--we hoped that he would get over it.  That we, Evan and I, could help him break away from his father’s toxic influence.”

"That worked," Evan said sarcastically.  "You were banished for half a year when you were dating Angela."

Peter blinked.  “Wait, what?”

Krissi sighed.  "Do you remember the year after I graduated there were those few months when I wasn't around as much?  It was because Harry was being--"

"A huge, fucking dick," Evan cut in.

"And I refused to be around him if he was going to be--"

"A huge, fucking dick."

“Seriously, lay off, Evan!” Peter snarled.  These were supposed to be his friends!

“I’m calling it like it is!  He was absolutely terrible to Krissi for months, and that’s not even talking about the digs he makes to me about my past relationships with guys.  He’s a narrow-minded, entitled jerk!”

“He’s been my best friend for over ten years and he’s never cared that I was poor!  He’s always been there for me even when I flake out on things!”

“He can be a great guy in some ways, but his father’s a toxic jackass!” Evan snapped.  He sat up, getting into Peter’s face as he continued to rant, “And Harry keeps buying into it and he’s fucking old enough to learn to think for himself and he refuses to!”

“As if you don’t want to please your father!  I’ve heard all about how demanding your parents are!” Peter jabbed back.

“Demanding in that they would prefer that I had a different career than ‘pro skater’, yeah.  But not demanding I completely change who I am to become a mini-me clone.  AND they’re not homophobic assholes!”

“And YOU shouldn’t be such an asshole to your friend and say such cruel things!”

“He’s your friend, Peter.  Not ours.”

That stopped Peter cold.  How dare Evan claim they weren’t all friends when they’d been hanging out having lunch twice a week since college!  Peter’s hands were balled into fists and he was shaking with fury.

Krissi had been letting Peter and Evan fight without comment, but now she stepped in before they could escalate further.

“Peter,” Krissi said in a soothing tone, “I know this must seem like it’s coming out of nowhere to you, but Evan is voicing frustration with Harry that has been building up for years.  You might have just started to notice the Osborn tendency for racist, ableist, sexist, and homophobic slurs a week ago, but I assure you, it’s been going on for a very long time.  As long as we’ve known him.  And I suspect, even if you never noticed, for as long as you’ve known him too.”

Peter shook his head, but he wondered if what she said could possibly be true.  He did have a vague memory of a time early in his friendship when Harry had been over at his house, he had said something.  Peter hadn’t understood the word, and for the life of him now he couldn’t remember what it was, but it had to have been something bad because Aunt May had taken Harry aside to explain that ‘we don’t talk like that in this house’.  After that point Harry had been a lot more careful and polite in how he talked when he was visiting.

Peter’s hands were no longer tensed into fists but he was still on edge.  “He’s my best friend, even if you don’t like him.”

“It’s not that we don’t like him--” Krissi started.

“Speak for yourself,” Evan cut in.

“It’s just, if you weren’t such good friends with him, and we didn’t see how generous he can be with you, Peter, then Evan and I probably would have written him off years ago.  And I doubt Harry would want much to do with us otherwise as well.  YOU are the glue that keeps our little group together, Peter.”

Peter didn’t understand.  He thought they were all friends and were happy together and now he was learning that it was all a lie, that what he had known without a doubt was wrong.  It didn’t make any sense.

No, it didn’t make sense.  “How could any of this be true?  You say Harry was mean to you because you had a same-sex relationship, but the two of you have been dating each other since we all met!”  It was a gotcha-question and he felt a stab of guilt for asking it.  Not that it stopped him.

"We took a break when I was studying abroad," Evan explained.  "I had a couple of hookups.  With both guys and gals, if you must know."

"And I dated Angela for a while," Krissi added.

Peter froze again, his mouth opening and closing several times before he could even try to formulate a response.  "I--I thought she was just a girl friend.  Like a friend, that's a girl."

“I wasn’t particularly keeping it from you, Peter, but I admit I was keeping things low-key when there was a chance that Harry might be around because I really didn’t want to have a screaming fight with him in the middle of the campus.  I didn’t want you feeling caught in the middle while your friends were fighting.”

“It must have been very low-key then,” Peter responded, a touch snidely.  “I never saw anything with you and Angela that was a ‘more-than-friends’ sort of thing.  ‘Cuz friends that are girls hold hands and give each other hugs.  How was I to know you were girlfriends and not just girl friends?”

“Oh, Peter,” Krissi sighed.  “You are so adorably and tragically naive sometimes.”

Peter pouted.  “I’m not a child!”

“But Peter, you are a bit oblivious in regards to relationships.  I think short of Angela and I jumping each other right in front of you, you’d completely miss the fact that the two of us were totally gay for each other.”

“I’m not oblivious!” Peter insisted, annoyance flaring.

“You’ve missed me flirting with you,” Evan pointed out.

Peter opened his mouth but nothing came out.

“He’s made it into a game at this point, Peter.  I have tried to get him to stop,” Krissi informed him, her voice apologetic.

Peter let that wash over him, unable to process what they were saying.  His mind jumped instead back to his confusion about Krissi and Evan’s relationship.

“B--but...you’re together.  So you can’t be gay!”

“We’re not gay.  We’re bi.  Or if you want, ‘queer’.  Just because we’re currently in a heterosexual relationship doesn’t mean that we aren’t bisexual,” Krissi informed him.  “I know this is a lot for you all at once, Peter, but it’s true.  And it doesn’t change things.  You are still our friend, and Harry is still your friend.  Are you okay?”

Peter nodded mutely but he didn’t get it.  He didn’t get any of this.  He let Krissi gently tug him back down onto the pile, her arm wrapped around his shoulders while Evan found his hand and gave it a squeeze.

Peter’s body was tense, now uncomfortable with the casual touching.

Nope.  Nope, he wasn’t okay.  It was too much, too soon.  He was up and off the bed in a sudden leap.

“Peter!” Krissi exclaimed, her S.H.I.E.L.D.-trained reflexes had her up and after him immediately.  He was slowed down by his need to throw on his sneakers and grab his coat, so she caught up to him as he reached her front door, grabbing his wrist to halt his escape.

“Peter, I understand why you’re supporting Harry.  I get that, and it’s alright.  I know why you’re running now.  You need time to process this.  And that’s okay too.  Just remember, Peter, that Evan and I are here for you.  We’re still your friends.  When you’re ready, we’re here.  I promise.”

Peter gave a very slight nod and she released his arm.  He opened the door and ran, his mind not registering where he was going until he was already back at his apartment, staring down at his Spider-Man suit.

He didn’t want things to change.  He knew who he was.  He knew who his friends were.  At least, he knew they were his friends.  His life sucked a lot with his crappy job and a city that hated him-- But it was his life, it was dependable.  Except-- Now it wasn’t.

He pulled on his suit with trembling hands.  He went out the window and with a flick of his wrist, he swung out into the city.

He was Spider-Man-- that much would never change.  He had a city to protect whether it liked him or not.

Chapter Text

Issue 22: I won't go, I won't sleep, I can't breathe

Peter woke at about three in the morning to an intense pain in his stomach.  Had he eaten something bad?  It certainly felt painful enough to be food poisoning.  He thought back, but realized he couldn't actually remember when he’d last eaten.  Had he eaten anything that day at all?  He didn't think he had.  That realization was a little worrying.

He lurched out of bed and stumbled over a pile of clothes he had tossed on the floor earlier.  He fell hard into the edge of his couch and cursed.  He picked himself up again and felt his way to the fridge.

He opened the fridge and stared.  He had finished the Christmas leftover meals his aunt had made for him weeks ago and he didn’t have much of anything in his fridge now.  And what he did have would need cooking, and cooking anything was too much effort for this time of night.  

Carrots.  Carrots were good.  They didn’t need cooking. He yanked open the vegetable crisper drawer.  He grabbed the bag, and tried to close the fridge door. It popped back open.  He kicked the crisper drawer closed and shut the fridge door more firmly.  It stayed closed this time.

He stumbled back across his apartment, and flopped down onto his bed.  He munched dutifully through the carrots until he finished the bag, but they did little to stop the gnawing in his stomach.  He tried to ignore the pain and close his eyes.  The minutes passed. He blinked his eyes open again, staring up at the blank ceiling.

This was ridiculous.  He was just lying on his bed, wide awake.  He might as well get up and do something.  Poke at his computer, maybe.

It took a few tries to pull himself out of bed this time. He managed to navigate through his apartment better though, avoiding the pile of clothes and the couch to the gut.

He flipped open his laptop and gave it a moment to wake up. Then he opened his web browser and checked the news.  First the city, then the national, and finally the international, scanning through, trying to read behind the lines of what was stated.  Peter didn't know if he was relieved or disappointed that he didn't see anything that might have been him.

He turned his attention to the other sections: entertainment, sports, and lastly his favorite, the science and technology section. It was his reward for getting through the rest.  When it loaded, he was immediately struck by the top article, or more particularly, by the author of it: Elizabeth Brant.

It was Betty's article on Eloise Cori, the biochemist she had mentioned during their tour of the Women in Science exhibit at the Natural History Museum.  Guilt twisted in his gut.  As if his stomach hadn't been hurting enough as it was!  He pushed away from his computer and took several deep breaths.  He considered ignoring the article, but he didn't want to run away anymore, even from his own stupidity with past relationships. While it wasn't likely that he’d see Betty again, he owed it to her to read her first major article.

Unsurprisingly, Betty was a good writer; she made a fluff biography piece interesting.  She did a great job highlighting how Eloise rose in prominence as a biochemist.  Eloise had left a highly coveted, extremely prominent position at a research university to work at a clinic helping those who had been injured during and after the Battle of New York.  Seriously, she had even set up a day when those who couldn’t afford health care could come in.  The more he read about her, the more amazing she seemed.  Peter's stomach sank. What the hell he was doing with his own mess of a life?

Intellectually, Peter knew how tough it was for a woman in the STEM fields, but emotionally it was a totally different story.  It was petty and stupid, but he couldn’t stop his growing sense of resentment, his jealousy only increasing as he compared his own failure to secure a job in his chosen field with how easy it had been for Eloise.

She had a family who were not only in the same field of study, but were also famous Nobel Prize winners.  She was born into wealth and had the ability to attend any school she wanted. She’d been accepted to all the best universities and even gotten a free-ride scholarship to a top-tier grad school.

The next line of the article caused Peter to choke on a gasp of surprise.  At grad school, her mentor had been Watson Wilkins, the missing biochemist!  With a little further internet digging, Peter learned that she had been in Wilkins’ department a few years after his work on the A.V.E. project.  Could she have known anything about the mysterious project?

He was at a loss with his other investigations into the drug and the sleepwalkers, but this could be a break to learn more about Wilkins and A.V.E.  If he could figure out what that project was about, maybe he could find out why a criminal group would be kidnapping the scientists who had been involved with it.

Peter needed to talk with Eloise Cori immediately!

************************

“Peter Parker, of the Daily Bugle,” Peter said, flashing his counterfeit Daily Bugle ID.  He was glad he had seen Betty's enough to be able to photoshop a convincing fake.  He’d had to use his old college library card as a base, which prevented him from employing a fake name.  He could only hope that he wouldn’t arouse any suspicion that would lead Eloise to call the Bugle about him.  At the very least, the badge looked real enough to get him through reception and into her office.

It hadn't been as easy to get in to see her as he had thought it would be; Eloise actually spent most of her time in the New Jersey research facility for the Roxxon pharmaceutical company and only came to the clinic once or twice a week.

“The Daily Bugle again?  Haven’t I talked your ears off already?” Eloise Cori greeted Peter with a firm handshake.  

“The article was really popular with our readers, so we’re looking into a follow-up.  This next one will focus more on your years in college and grad school.  You know, encouraging young women in STEM education by highlighting role models like yourself.”

She smiled warmly in response.  A stab of guilt pierced Peter's gut for his deception, because such an article would be good.  Maybe he would write up his notes from this interview and submit it to the Daily Bugle after all this was done.  Just because he was primarily focused on learning what he could about A.V.E. didn't mean he couldn't later do what he was claiming he was doing.

“At least, that’s what I’m hoping this article will be.  But you never know once the editors get through with it, if it will look even remotely like what was first written,” Peter excused.  “What starts off as one thing could become something completely different, particularly when the author is a nobody.”

“Well, have a seat, get comfortable, and ask your questions,” Eloise directed as she waved her arm, offering Peter a chair.

He started the interview with some basic questions (when did she know she wanted to go into science?  Age 3.  How much support did she have from her family?  Lots.)  He went on from there to her time at undergrad before turning his focus on her experience in graduate school.  

“It’s interesting how your career seems to have gone in the opposite direction of your mentor Dr. Wilkins’.”

Eloise arched an eyebrow.  “What do you mean?”

Peter cleared his throat.  “Well, as I understand it, he left a corporate research facility to teach at a university.  Whereas you have gone from a university to work with an international pharmaceutical company.”  

“In actuality, our careers have followed very similar paths,” she responded curtly.  “We both wanted to help others and found that our first career choices didn’t allow for it as much as we thought they would.  Professor Wilkins choose to mentor others and I have chosen a more hands-on approach than academia grants.”

“Have you stayed close with Dr. Wilkins?”

“Some.  Mostly in the beginning of my career.  I have since moved beyond what he could teach me.”

Despite her short answers on the subject, Peter pressed on, “So, his disappearance didn’t influ--”

“Is this article about me or about Professor Wilkins?” she snapped at him, cutting off his question.

“Ah,” Peter started.  Crap.  “It’s about you, of course… It’s just,” Peter paused, desperate for an excuse.  He latched onto the first thing that came to mind, and stumbled to explain, “When I was in college I took an intro chemistry class and we had to do an assignment on a contemporary scientist and I wrote mine on Dr. Wilkins.  When I saw that you had studied with him, I got a bit excited that I actually recognized his name.  I was pretty bummed out when I read in the news about his disappearance.  I can’t imagine how someone who knew him personally must feel.”

“Yes, of course.  It’s just it is very painful to talk about it.” She closed her eyes and lowered her head down, resting it on her hand.

Peter felt like a jerk.  “I’m sorry…”

“It’s always so tragic to lose a brilliant mind like his.  So much that he knew that he never got a chance to share with the world,” she said softly with a wistful shake of her head.

Oh he was the absolute worst.  He swallowed thickly and nodded.

Peter was flustered by her grief and didn’t feel he could press the subject further.  Luckily for his cover, Eloise didn’t need much guidance to talk; she delicately changed the subject and resumed talking about herself in great detail.  Peter mentally lamented that he hadn’t gotten very much information at all about Wilkins or the A.V.E. project out of the interview.  He continued to jot down notes but he was only half listening, going through the motions of the fake interview so he could leave.  He tuned back in as her voice began to rise.

“--And then he had the gall to tell me--ME! --that they had a policy of not admitting anyone into the PH.D. program initially, because ‘so many women leave after attaining their Masters’!  It was so condescending!”

She punctuated that statement with a particularly empathic motion of her hands, bringing her arm down onto the edge of her desk and sending a manilla folder off of it, scattering the contents across the floor.

Peter immediately bent down to pick up the fallen papers.  “Let me get those,” he offered, trying to be helpful, to do something useful to get over his guilt in lying to her.

“No!” Eloise said, too quickly and too sharply, as she knelt down beside him.  There was a flash of something in her eyes but she recovered quickly.  “I know their proper order, after all,” she said as if in explanation.

Her first impulse was to cover the reports.  Peter could tell by that split second quick dash of her hand towards the files before she was able to school herself.  She forced herself to move her hand out slowly, to calmly pick things up, as if they were of no real importance.

Peter Parker of the Daily Bugle, who only had a single chemistry class in college, wouldn’t have been able to make heads or tails of the reports.  But he wasn’t really Peter Parker of the Daily Bugle.  He could read chemical formulas, and he was also one of the few people in the world who had seen that exact formula before.  Eloise was gathering up into her hands the chemical formula for the alien element that he’d found in the blood and drug samples he had been studying.

“What’s all this?” Peter asked, knowing there was no chance she’d answer him honestly, but he figured it was a question that Peter Parker of the Daily Bugle would ask.

“Oh, just some theoretical research I’m working on,” she answered.

“So, not only are you practicing medicine for underprivileged people in New York City, but you’re still working on your own research?  That’s incredible.”  He was laying it on a bit thick, but her pleased smile indicated that he probably could have laid on another trowel-full of flattery without her noticing.

“Well, we all do what we can,” she demured, and Peter really wanted to wipe that self-satisfied smirk off the lying hypocrite’s face.

Okay, that wasn’t fair.  He really didn’t know if she was a hypocrite.  Other than the fact that she was working on the same alien element, Peter had no idea if Eloise was actually involved with whoever was making the drugs or the sleepwalking instances.  She could be innocent.  It could just be coincidence that she was studying the same thing.  Or maybe she was investigating the danger on her own like Spider-Man was.  She could be an ally.  

Peter should know better than to make snap judgements about people.  He’d been wrong before.  Granted, he had also been wrong about being wrong about a certain no-good, red-clad mercenary.  So what did he know?

Anyway, Spider-Man finally had a new clue to follow on an investigation he’d been stuck in a rut with.  Even if Eloise was innocent, she might have some clues that could be of help.  And if she wasn’t, well, Spider-Man would find out.

The interview wrapped up with no further incidents, which was both a blessing and a curse as far as Peter was concerned.  On one hand, he didn’t put his foot in his mouth any further or blow his cover, but on the other hand, he was also unable to get a good read on her temperament.  Was she an unexpected ally or part of the ongoing danger to the city?

Peter shook her hand and thanked her for her time.  He gathered up his notes and left her office, his mind replaying the interview in an attempt to pick out any clues he might have missed.

The cold February wind struck him like a blow as he exited the clinic.  He huddled into his winter coat.  It wasn’t enough.  He wished he had worn his Spider-Man suit under his street clothes, if only for another layer of insulation.  But, he hadn’t thought that he’d need it.  It was midday so it wasn’t like he could do any investigating as Spider-Man right now.  Besides, there was still the occasional bad guy chasing after Spider-Man, even after that night with Black Cat, so he tended not to wear it as often as he had before then.

Well, he’d go home, reread his notes on the alien chemical, then suit up for a bit of sneaking around that evening.  He had a spring in his step as he walked down the street.  For the first time in a while, he had a plan of action.

“Cinco enchilada por favor,” Peter heard a voice say. The voice cut through the usual city bustle, straight through Peter’s standard New Yorker enui.

He knew that voice.  That distinctive gravel and gasoline voice.  The voice he had heard a million times in his head.

He turned towards the source.  He didn’t see the familiar red and black suit, but there was no mistaking Deadpool’s form standing at a food cart, tucked into a heavy red winter coat.  The coat’s hood was pulled down low, covering most of Deadpool’s face, and the other half of his face was covered with a hot pink knitted scarf that clashed terribly.

Peter took three steps before he realized he had even moved.  He wanted to rush over and punch that smug bastard in the stomach and demand to know where the hell he’d been the past several months.  He jerked himself to a halt, exerting considerable self-control, and reminded himself that he was Peter Parker right now, not Spider-Man.  

He had no idea what Deadpool would do to Peter if he caught him following.  Not now at any rate.  Who knew what Deadpool had been up to in the months since he'd left and whether or not he was killing again?  Deadpool might hold himself back from killing Spider-Man, but a random guy that Deadpool didn’t know?  And what if he figured out that this random guy was actually Spider-Man?  That was too risky.

Besides, it wasn’t like Peter didn’t know where to find Deadpool now that he knew for certain the mercenary was back in town.  He would go home, suit up, and then go back as Spider-Man to Deadpool’s warehouse.

Even having made that decision, Peter couldn’t move away.  He stood awkwardly, pretending he was interested in a street vendor’s wares and trying not to stare, at least too obviously, as Deadpool ate.

Deadpool was openly relishing the enchiladas as only he would.  The first he nibbled, savoring each bite.  The second was finished in half as many mouthfuls, and by the fifth, he practically swallowed it whole.  His smile only increased as he delightedly licked the length of each of his fingers to extract the last taste of Mexican spices.  Once he finished, he crumbled up his trash and effortlessly tossed it into a garbage can several yards away.

“You buying now?” an impatient voice asked, breaking Peter’s focus.  The street vendor moved in front of him and pointed at a hideously tacky t-shirt.  

Peter shook his head and tried to wave him off, but the vendor wouldn't be put off.  

“You stand here for over ten minutes and scare away other customers.  You buy that.  Now.”

The vendor’s voice was raised loudly and was drawing the attention of the surrounding crowd.  Peter forked over a twenty and grabbed the overpriced abomination against good taste.  With the vendor satisfied, Peter looked back to the bench where Deadpool had been sitting.  He was gone.

Peter looked around desperately and spotted Deadpool about a block down the street, heading in the direction of his warehouse.  With a regretful sigh, Peter kept himself from going after him.  Instead, he forced himself to walk in the opposite direction to the bus stop.

A few minutes later, he was seated on a bus.  He kept glancing out the window in the direction where he had lost sight of Wade.

“Could you stop that?” the person sitting next to him demanded.  Peter looked at the man in confusion.  Stop what?  He followed the man’s sightline down to his own leg, which he had apparently been tapping with relentless nervous energy.

Peter apologized and stilled himself, but half a minute later his leg was shaking again.  With an exaggerated huff, the man got up and moved to another seat.

Peter got off for a transfer, still vibrating with energy.  He couldn’t sit still even though there was an empty bench.  He ended up pacing back and forth the length of the bus stop.  At last he could see a bus coming down the street.  He bounced on the balls of his feet until the bus drew up to the curb.  It wasn’t the right bus.

He was too restless to keep waiting.  He might as well walk to the next stop.  By the time he got there, the bus would likely be arriving as well.  

He jogged to the next station, but the bus wasn’t there within the minute he stood there waiting, so he kept going to the next stop.

Before Peter quite knew it, he had run all the way back to his apartment complex.  He glanced at the entrance but balked at the hassle and wasted time it would take to dig his keys out, slog up the stairs, and walk all the way down the long hall to his door.  Instead, he ducked down the alley and spidered his way up the wall to his window.  Within moments he was inside.  Some days it was actually nice to be him.

He stripped off his clothes, leaving them in a pile on the floor.  He grabbed his Spider-Man suit from its hiding spot under his sweaters.  When he went to put on the top, the spandex refused to glide on smoothly, snagging on his clammy arms before he could even pull it over his head.  With a befuddled look, Peter realized how sweaty he had gotten running across half the city.  Well, that was attractive.

He tossed his Spider-Man costume onto his bed and dashed towards the bathroom.  He twisted the faucet handle and started the water in the shower.  Without waiting for it to warm up, he jumped under the stream of frozen water.

Mistake!  He hurriedly stepped back out of the spray of water, his teeth chattering.  Dumbass.  It was freaking winter and he still needed to go back out into the February chill wearing nothing more than his slightly-insulated spandex suit.

Peter soaped himself up while waiting for the water to reach at least a lukewarm temperature.  Once it did, he rinsed off.  Honestly, it took longer for the water to warm then his actual time in the shower.  His apartment was the worst.  Well, at least he didn’t stink anymore.

He patted himself dry, then quickly blow dried his hair.  He didn’t usually bother, but the mask would look stupid with wet patches if he wore it over his damp hair.  He gargled some mouthwash as he applied his deodorant.  Once he was clean and dry, he threw on his Spider-Man suit and checked himself out in the mirror.  He frowned.

The suit wasn’t quite as form-hugging as he would have liked.  He looked like some pathetically skinny runt.  Darnit.  He grabbed a black hoodie he had picked up at the thrift store.  It was bulky and would hide his scrawniness.

This had taken a lot longer than it was supposed to have.  He needed to leave.  Despite his impatience to be on his way, Spider-Man had enough presence of mind to ease out of his apartment, firmly close the window behind him, and to keep a low profile.  Once he was a significant distance from his place, he swung full-speed across the city.

Spider-Man moved with purpose, but his thoughts weren’t as focused.  What if Deadpool wasn’t staying at that warehouse anymore?  He should have followed Deadpool when he had actually seen him and made certain where he was staying.  What if he had completely missed his chance and Deadpool was gone again?

What if he never left New York at all, and he just had no interest in being around Spider-Man after they did what they did because, like Gwen and apparently the rest of his friends, Deadpool thought he was gay?  What they did…was kinda gay wasn’t it?

Spider-Man stopped half a block away from Deadpool’s warehouse.  His stomach was doing more flips than he had done swinging through the city.  He worried he was going to hurl.   

Oh right.  He never did pick up anything to eat after the interview.  So he felt like hurling and had nothing in his stomach.  Great.

He slunk his way through the shadows to the side of the warehouse.  He scrambled up the wall to a window.  Despite the years of pollution and dirt piled up on the glass, Spider-Man was able to peer inside.

Well, the warehouse was still filled with cases of weapons.  He couldn’t tell if they were dusty or not, not from this window at any rate. He also couldn’t tell if the warehouse was still occupied or not.  And even if it was, he had no idea if Deadpool had returned here or not.

Wait.  What was that?  There was some movement over towards the front of the place.  

He was here.  Deadpool was here!

While he had the figure in his sight, Spider-man considered climbing in through the window, but Deadpool would probably shoot first and apologize later if he came in that way before identifying himself.  He pushed away from the wall and let himself drop to the ground.

He landed lightly and moved along the wall to the main entrance.  The door was slightly ajar.  Spider-Man pushed it open and stepped gingerly inside.

“Hello?” he called.  He could still see something moving in the shadows but he didn’t seem to have been noticed in return yet.  There were crates piled high in front of him.  Spider-Man stepped closer to a small stack of boxes that was just to the side of the entrance.  He ran a finger along the top.  Yeah, that was a layer of dust alright.

His finger hit the edge of something that was lying flat on the crate, hidden in the dust and darkness.  From the size and shape, it appeared to be some sort of envelop.  Curious despite knowing better, Spider-Man picked it up, dust scattering as he did so.  His name was scrawled on the envelope in an elegant script.

“What’s this?” he muttered aloud.

Suddenly, his Spidey Senses screamed in alarm.  Spider-Man dove to the side, his arm flying up for balance.  There was an unexpected sting in his hand and then it felt like he had been punched in the shoulder, his whole body jerking from the force of the blow.  He looked down in shock.  There was blood pooling in his palm and more pouring out of his shoulder.

He ducked behind a large metal container for cover while he tried to make sense of what was happening.  The confusion had dulled his senses.  He realized belatedly that his Spidey Senses were still going off.  He looked around, trying to find the source of the danger.

His Spidey Senses came to an abrupt crescendo, and the world exploded around him.

Chapter Text

Issue 23: But My Aim is Getting Better

Deadpool finished wiping himself off, then tucked his dick back into his pants.  Spider-Man was still cleaning himself up.  Deadpool leaned against the wall and watched.

Perv much?

He gave a very slight shake of his head.  It wasn’t that.  He was worried.  Spidey looked like he would, at any moment, faint.  He was turned away from Deadpool, with his shoulders hunched up like he was trying to make himself small.  His hands were shaking, and not just because of his efforts to clean himself.  Shaking like he was cold.

Or in shock.

That was a stab to his heart, but considering the past reactions he'd received when people realized that they had been horny enough to actually hook up with him, shock was pretty mild.  And even though Spider-Man was clearly grossed out, Deadpool couldn't just leave him alone in this condition.  Not until he knew that Spidey would be alright on his own.

Spider-Man finished cleaning himself.  He turned, seemed to catch Deadpool’s eye for a moment, then looked down, a blush creeping across the visible part of his cheeks.  “Um, I can clean this and get it back to you…”

OMG he is adorable!

To resist the urge to scoop Spidey up and snuggle the cutey patootie, Deadpool focused on the handkerchief.  “Nah, don’t bother.  I got plenty.  It’s like a hobby of mine, and they don’t seem to sell much.”

You mean they don’t sell at all.

Keeping his head tipped down, Spider-Man said, “Well, it’s getting really late.  We should head home now.”

Not a good plan.

“Are you going to be alright getting home?” Deadpool asked.  He couldn’t invite Spider-Man back to his place, with its lack of bed or much of anything--maybe he should do something about that--and he doubted the hero would be willing to have Deadpool learn where he lived, but there was a hotel he had stayed at before that wasn’t too far away.

Before he could suggest that though, Spider-Man was already waving him off.  

“I’ll be fine,” Spider-Man mumbled.  “So um, bye.”

He flailed a hand in a vague waving motion towards Deadpool, then fled the alcove where they had just hooked up.  He was speeding down the hall of the science building before Deadpool’s brain could reach his mouth.

“Spidey!” Deadpool called after him, belatedly.

Damn his super speed.

So much for after-cuddles.

“It’s not about that!” Deadpool snapped, taking his frustration out on the unsympathetic narrative voices in his head.

Spider-Man might have gotten a head start, but Deadpool had a pretty thorough understanding of the layout of the science building, between his prowling around when he was on guard duty and then later when he had been running around with Spider-Man.

Deadpool took a shortcut that only a few people could take, and thankfully Spider-Man, who was one of those people, had elected not to.  He opened a nearby window and jumped out of it, falling the four floors down onto the pavement.  He could feel his shin bone snap, but he ignored the break.  He kept walking, his bone healing even as he walked, though the movement slowed the recovery significantly.

Fuck does that hurt.

It did, but he could ignore it.  Walking on a broken leg was a minor pain compared to what he was used to.

And now what?

It’s not like you have any idea where he is or where he’s going.

True.  But his instincts were good.  He picked a direction that felt right and ran.  Luck, or authorial will, was with him; Deadpool could see Spider-Man swinging down the street.

Right direction.

But still too slow.

Frantically, Deadpool called out, "Spidey!  Spid--!"

He started to call out again, louder, but he was cut off by a sudden sharp sting in the back of his neck.  He clapped a hand to the base of his skull and found a small dart sticking into him.  He pulled it out and looked at it curiously.

Did whatever ignoramus who shot us not know about our healing factor?

A wave of vertigo washed over him and his vision narrowed.

The fuck...?

There was a whistling sound, but his body was too sluggish to dodge.  And then his head exploded.

************************

Hello?

...

Well, fuck,  I hate it when I'm alone.

**************************

?!

Welcome back.

What happened?

We were killed.  

Killed?!

Someone exploded our head.  Very messy.

Why is it so...

Dark?  Quiet?  Uncomfortable?

He's still dead.  Head wounds always seem to take the longest for us to regenerate fully.

How come we're here and he's not?

It all depends on which part of the brain regenerates first.

This sucks.

Yes.  He might be stupid and annoying, but it is actually worse when he's not around.

So what do we do now?

Well, I know I can think of a few things to keep ourselves busy.  Come here you...

Oh, yeah…

************************

 

Deadpool returned to life angry.

His head hurt.  His everything hurt.  He felt like things were happening without him. He didn’t recall what he’d been doing when he’d gotten killed.  Great.  It was probably a head shot.  He fucking hated head shots.  He could never remember what he’d been doing when he got hit in the head.  But he always remembered how they felt when he came to afterwards.

And now he had no idea who had shot him, what was going on, or even where he was.  And worst of all, he had this nagging feeling like he had missed out on something important.

He hated that feeling, and he hated being exploded dead.  

Oh, hey.  You're back.

'What's our status?' he thought, or at least he thought he thought.  It really was hard to figure out ‘inside voice’ versus ‘outside voice’ whenever he got blown up.  But until he knew where he was and what was going on, he figured keeping things quiet was probably for the best.

We were dead.

Our head was blown off.

'By who?'

You mean 'By whom.'

'Fuck you. I'm uncomfortable and feeling lost.  I don't need your grammar bullshit right now.  What happened?'

Don't know.  If you haven't noticed, we're in a box.

Deadpool had in fact noticed that.  He was doubled up uncomfortably in a crate with his arms and legs tied up.  He also noticed that his swords were missing, though the sheaths were still strapped to his back.  His mask was gone.  No swords, no guns, no pouches, no face.  

He wiggled his toes.  Whoever had caught him had even taken his boot knife.

They should have taken our boots.

They should have.  Deadpool inched his bound hands toward his left boot where he had a small razor hidden behind a shin guard.  He sliced himself a few times but the cuts were healed by the time he managed to cut the ropes off his arms and legs.  He also wound up upside down in the crate.  He didn’t quite know how that had happened.

Someone's coming.

Deadpool strained to hear.  A single voice, coming closer.  Speaking Russian.  Couldn't make out what was being said.  A dialect perhaps.  Either the guy was talking to himself or his partner was a ninja, because Deadpool could only hear one person approaching.

Or he’s talking into a comm or a phone.

Oh, yeah. Or that.

Though he couldn't quite follow what the guy was saying, Deadpool didn't like his tone, nor the fact that he was clearly approaching Deadpool's crate.  

Deadpool braced his hands on the bottom of crate.  He waited until the guy was just about next to him, then he launched himself upwards, kicking the box lid off in a violent thrust.

Too soon.

Deadpool had missed.  He should have waited a few seconds more so the guy wouldn't have had the room to dodge.  With the momentum from kicking the lid off, Deadpool flipped himself out of the crate.  It wasn't directly on the ground, but on a large pallet or something. Whatever it was, it meant that the floor was not where he expected it to be.  Deadpool tumbled awkwardly, landing more on his chest then on the balls of his feet as he had planned when he’d started this movement.

“Package is awake!  I repeat, package is awake!”

Curious.  He switched to English.

Deadpool twisted to look.  The man was wearing black military-esque fatigues, but nothing that really identified him.  He held a phone up to his ear with one hand and in the other he held a very large and nasty looking syringe.

Oh HELL no!

Deadpool pushed himself up with his arms and shot his legs out into a quick handstand.  He hooked his knee around the guy’s shoulder, then dropped, pulling the man down with him.  The man’s phone and the syringe clattered out of his hands and skidded several feet away.  As they collided with the ground, Deadpool held the man’s head trapped between his thighs.  

It’s been too long since we’ve had anyone’s head between our legs.

Deadpool squeezed.  The man struggled, but he was too late.  Deadpool had him in a solid choke hold.

This is taking too long.

Deadpool shifted his weight, snapping the man’s neck.

That felt good.

Really good.  Like he hadn't done that in a long time.  Just how long had he been dead and stuffed in that box?

He dropped the body to the ground, then twisted from his prone position so he was sitting up.  Gun, gun, a guy like that had to have a gun.  Ah, yes, there it was.  A gun. Much better than just a blade.  Now to find his stuff and figure out where he was.

He was in a large warehouse.  It was mostly empty space, but there were a few crates beside the one he had been kept in and several large barrels that smelled of oil.  There was a set of double doors on the wall opposite of where he was now standing.  He heard the sound of feet stomping towards him.

We have to--

Deadpool lifted the gun and aimed dead center at the door.

No, wait, don’t--!

As soon as the door opened, Deadpool fired.  He didn’t miss this time, hitting the guy dead in the chest.  The body fell, knocking the door open wide.

Two down.

There was a third guy behind the one he had just shot, and that asshole had Deadpool’s swords strapped to his back.  Deadpool could recognize the handles.  He fired, but Third ducked back, narrowly missing being shot.  Deadpool kept firing into the wall until the gun clicked empty.  He dropped the now useless weapon and dashed forward.

Third was ready with a round house punch.  The motion was too big and Deadpool easily blocked it.  It was a feint.  He used Deadpool’s block to latch onto his arm and throw him.  

Oh, it’s on now!

Deadpool flipped in the air and landed lightly on his feet, immediately launching himself back at Third.  As they exchanged blows, Deadpool explained in explicit detail about how those katana were his, how much sentimental value they had for him, and how much he would like them back, thank you very much. The constant talking was pretty habitual for him, particularly when fighting hand-to-hand like this, but it didn’t seem to distract Third much, nor did it convince him to return the blades to Deadpool.

He’s good.

He was, but Deadpool was better.  Deadpool got a solid kick to Third’s chest, sending him wheeling backwards.  Third landed on a pile of the cans, knocking several of them over in a loud crashing cascade.  A few of the cans hit the ground hard enough that their lids popped off, and gas began to glug out across the floor.

That’s not good.

No problem.  We just avoid lighting anything on fire.

You make that sound as if it would be easy.

“Can you guys shut up?!  I’m a little busy right now!”

“Me?  You’re the one that won’t shut up!” Third responded, highly affronted.  Deadpool was just happy to get some evidence that he’d finally gotten under Third's skin, even if only a little.  His constant stream of talk took effort, after all, and it would be a shame if there had been no effect.

While the voices in his head had been distracting him, Third had gotten close again.  Third grabbed onto him and Deadpool let him.

Does he seriously think grappling with us is a good idea?

Using Third’s momentum, Deadpool flipped him.  Third landed hard on the ground, dazed.  Deadpool scrambled onto his chest, pinning him down with his own body.  While he was there, he took the opportunity to retrieve his swords.  He slipped one into the sheath on his back and held the other pressed against Third’s throat just as Third regained his senses.

“Do it!  Now!” Third ordered.

Well, since he asks…

No, wait, we need--

Deadpool’s thoughts were interrupted when a dart pierced into his back.  His body jerked at the unexpected impact, and his blade stabbed into Third’s throat, severing his artery.

Fucking sniper!

Damn it!  We needed him!

“Oops.”  That was so not his fault!  How was he to know there was a fourth one?

Do they seriously think a fucking dart is going to do shit to us?

It could be poisoned.

Do they seriously think fucking poison is going to do shit to us?

Deadpool looked around as he stood up, trying to pinpoint Fourth’s location.  A wave of vertigo washed over him and his vision narrowed.

The fuck...?

He stumbled backwards, barely keeping his sword in hand, but he managed to stay on his feet.  At least until he tripped over Second’s corpse and sent his sword scattering several feet away.

Shit.

No, wait, this could work.

Second’s gun was still holstered at his hip, and from his current position sprawled over him, Deadpool had the perfect opportunity to grab it.  With the gun in hand, he rolled off of Second, narrowly avoiding being shot in a move that had more to do with dumb luck than any skill on his part.  He felt slow, sluggish, as if he was moving through a vat of Jello.

How do you know what moving through a vat of Jello is like…?

Not the time for that!  Shoot!  Shoot him already!

Deadpool fired roughly in the direction Fourth was shooting from.  There was a metallic dink.  Then there was that distinctive feel to the air, one he had felt many times before, in which it was like the world was taking a great inhalation of air before exploding it all out again in a giant ball of fiery doom.

Oh, shit.

He stumbled into a blind run even before the explosion started, slowing only for a half-second to retrieve his sword.  His motions were difficult, but the jolt of adrenaline kept him moving.  There, a few feet away was a window.  He could make it.  

Easily if we weren’t under the effects of some mystery drug!

What could possible affect us and why isn’t our healing factor taking care of it already?

Deadpool didn’t know and at the moment he didn’t care.  Fire lapped at his feet as he made a hail-Mary leap.

But you don’t know what’s outside!

Can’t be any worse than what’s behind us!

He threw himself through the glass.  Fragments tore into him, leaving behind dozens of deep gashes across his body.  He lost his grip on his sword as he fell, the explosion blasting out the window after him, searing his back.

Ground!  Ground is coming at us way too fast!

It was, and he was heading head-first towards it.  Considering how slow his healing factor seemed to be at the moment, he wasn’t sure he could survive a broken neck.  He turned and twisted his body, then stuck a perfect landing.

“Oh yeah that just happened!” Deadpool crowed.  “Who's the man?” He pointed both of his thumbs at himself. “I’m the man! Tell me how awesome I am!”

You are an idiot.

“Huh?” Deadpool deflated at the withering tone of the white narrative box.

You should have left at least one of them alive so we could figure out who he was working for and what they wanted with us.

“Fuck.”  Deadpool sighed, frustrated with his own stupidity, jumping in shooting instead of actually thinking about things first.  

He picked up his sword and sheathed it with the other one on his back.  "Yeaaaah, that might have been a good thing to have found out.” Then he shrugged.  “Oh well.  What can you do about it?  They thought they could kill us.  They thought wrong.”

Yeah, but you weren’t thinking at all!  You weren’t supposed to kill any of them!

“Oh come on,” Deadpool whined with an exaggerated pout.  “They’ll have either learned that I’m a lot harder to capture than they thought and will give up, or they’ll try again and I’ll figure it out later.  What’s your beef?”

You really are a fool.  You aren’t supposed to kill anyone because you promised Spider-Man that you wouldn’t.

Deadpool paled, his chest tightened.  Spider-Man...

Oh shit.  If we were attacked, maybe he was too?

"Shit.  Shit.  Shit!"

Calm down and think!  What were we doing before we got killed?  Were we still patrolling with him or were we on our own?

Deadpool closed his eyes, desperate to recall, he sifted through his fragmented memories but his recent memory was a complete blank, lost.

"I don't know.  I can't remember."

It was probably after our patrol.

"What makes you say that?"

Unless we did something to seriously piss him off, Spider-Man isn't likely to let someone kill and kidnap us.

Unless he was also killed.

A moment of irrational fear and rage washed over Deadpool before he could calm himself.  "Unlikely.  He's a superhero.  It's the sidekicks that get offed, not the hero."

Are you or he the sidekick though?

"I’d been thinking we were both the heroes..."

We're starting to get a bit off topic.

Starting?

Anyway, we don't know where we are or how long we've been dead.

Deadpool looked around, taking in his surroundings.  He was standing in the middle of what looked like an industrial shipping complex.  He couldn’t see any landmarks beyond what was immediately around him due to how dark it was.  So, night time.  That was something.  Then it had probably been at least a day since he’d been caught.  Maybe.  Probably.

If not longer.

He picked a direction at random and walked away, leaving the building he’d just escaped from a raging inferno behind him, all but forgotten other than the slow-to-heal burns down his back.

"We need to find him and make sure Spidey is alright, and to warn him about the danger," Deadpool declared.

We don’t know where he is and we don’t have any way to contact him.

“Then we’ll have to warn him when we meet up tomorrow night for patrol.”

The meetup spot has been compromised.

“Has it?”  Deadpool struggled to remember.  He had vague impressions of seeing Spider-Man and then immediately being attacked.  A fight in a tower.  A sniper shooting at them.  Fucking snipers.

He wasn’t quite sure if it was a hallucination or not, but it felt real.  Probably real.  “So we can’t go to the meetup place and we have no other way of contacting him,” he concluded.

Yup, that's it exactly.  

“Fuck!” Deadpool shouted, punching a brick wall.  He felt a few bones in his hand break but he didn’t care.  Considering the cuts all over his body, the first degree burns all up and down his back, and the fury of anxiety in his heart, a broken hand was nothing.

No, wait.  The pain was less because he was healing again.  Yay!

At least something is finally going right.  What are we going to do?  We have no means of contacting Spider-Man and we can’t stick around at the meetup spot.

Leave a note for him.

A note.  Yeah.  That wasn’t a bad idea.  

“Yeah, I'll leave him a note.  Warn him to lie low for a while.  Just long enough for me to figure out who’s after me.  And I’ll also give him my number, so we can keep in touch.”

But what do we do with the note?  We can’t just leave it for him at the meetup place if that’s being watched.

“So we’ll find someone to deliver it for us.  It shouldn't be that hard for someone to get his attention on one of his patrols and pass off a note.”

Alright.  That’s the plan.  Let’s get out of here now.  The sooner we get out of here, the sooner we can deal with this mess.

“First we need to go to my warehouse.”

It’ll be watched.

“We still have to go there.”

You can write a note anywhere.

And as much as we love some of those guns, we can get more elsewhere.

“It’s not the guns.  It’s the Falcon wings.”

Ooh.  Right.

Yeah, we want to get those.

And maybe a couple of guns.  Since we’re there…

**********************

Deadpool double and then triple checked through the binoculars.  It was him. Deadpool was certain of it.  The scruffy, nerdy-looking guy was strangely familiar--it had to be him.

Deadpool eased himself off the balcony he was perched on and slunk his way across the street.  The old lock on the side door was easily snapped off, and then Deadpool was inside, sneaking his way up the stairs to the crappy apartment his target was hiding in.  Stealth wasn't really his thing, but he really didn't want to draw any attention if there were other eyes besides his that were watching.  It  had taken way too long to find him, and Deadpool was NOT going to waste this opportunity.

The apartment lacked much security, which Deadpool found surprising.  His target must have thought he was safe, that no one could figure out who he was with that little disguise of his.  His target was hunched over a laptop, his back to Deadpool.

Deadpool hovered in the shadows of the kitchen, away from the windows, gun in hand as he waited.  He hated waiting as much as he hated having to be stealthy, but he could do it when it was important.  Mercifully, he didn't need to wait too long before his target got up to get some more beer.  Deadpool greeted him with a gun pointed in his face.

"W-Wade?!"

You are such a tease!

"What?" Deadpool questioned.

Never mind.  Carry on.

"Wade, what are you doing here?"

"Hello, Weasel.  You’re a hard man to find when you go and disguise yourself.”  Deadpool smirked.

“That was kind of the point, Wade," Weasel said with a long suffering sigh.  "If you didn’t know, I have a price on my head right now.”

“I know.  Because they’re looking for me.”

“What did you do now?” Weasel asked, exasperated.

“Fuck if I know.  That’s why I’m here.”

Really, does he think we know everybody who might want us dead?

“H-how’d you find me?” Weasel asked in what was perhaps an attempt at casual, but nervousness pervaded his voice.

Well, you do still have your gun in his face.

“You made some efforts to find me.  I just followed the signal back.  I might not be a genius like you, but did you forget that I'm not a complete idiot?"

Weasel vigorously shook his head in denial.

Looking a bit twitchy there, isn't he?

Oh yeah.

Deadpool agreed, and said as much out loud, "You’re looking a bit twitchy, Weasel.  Not thinking about turning me in for the bounty, are you?”

“Of course not!” Weasel immediately exclaimed.

Deadpool cocked his gun.

Weasel amended somewhat abashedly, “Well of course I’ve thought about it--the price is pretty high after all--but they want me alive, and you’d kill me.”

He’s right.

Of course he’s right.  If he tried it, we’d shoot him.

Maybe we should shoot him anyway.

Later, if he thought Weasel needed some reminding he could shoot him.  But for now... Deadpool uncocked his gun and holstered it.  

“You’re a smart man, Weasel.  Now help me find who is after me.  I wanna get back to my darling Spidey as soon as possible…”

After all, it shouldn't be that hard to track down his attackers.

*********************

“Here, Weasel.  A Christmas present!” Deadpool cheerfully called as he entered Weasel’s new safehouse.  He strode directly to the guest room that Weasel had set up as his computer room and unceremoniously plopped a severed head onto the desk beside him.

“Ugh,” Weasel groaned, recoiling in disgust.

How ungrateful.

Admittedly, maybe we should have done something to preserve it.  At the very least, kept it cold…

“Wade, you shouldn’t have,” Weasel continued when he recovered from his initial shock.  “I mean that seriously.  First of all, it’s a still a bit early for Christmas--”

So it’s an early present.

“Better early than late,” Deadpool chimed in.

“Secondly, I’m not Christian, I’m Jewish.”

“So?”

Weasel sighed, massaging his temple.  “Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, Wade.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Huh.  Well, you’re missing out.”

The phrase you’re looking for is ‘Happy Hanukkah’, you idiot.

“Oh, right, Happy Hanukkah.”

“Thank you.  But thirdly,” Weasel said, in some attempt to get the conversation back to the pertinent topic of the severed head, “gross.  Why the hell would you think I would possibly want a severed head?”

“Check the back.”

“What, is there a gift receipt?” Weasel snapped.  He looked down at the severed head, but made no movement to touch it.  

Deadpool rolled his eyes and rotated the head around himself.  In the back was some sort of metallic device embedded into the base of the skull.

"What IS this?" Weasel marveled.

"Dunno," Deadpool replied with a large shrug.  "That's why I'm giving it to you."

"Wade, I've never seen anything like this.  Where did you find this?"

We brought where we found it.

Are we sure he’s really a genius?

“He means ‘where did we find the dude?’.”

Weasel, used to Deadpool talking to himself, replied, “Yes, that.”

He should have just asked that then.

“He was one of the guys in the last group I fought.  Which reminds me," Deadpool paused while he scrounged for something in one of his pouches.  "Ah, here it is."  He handed Weasel a crumbled up, slightly blood stained scrap of paper which had what little information he’d managed to learn about who was after him.

Weasel glanced over the paper.  "This, at least, I think I can do something about.  THAT," he said, waving at the severed head, "is a bit out of my area of expertise.  I'm a computer geek, not a biochemical engineer."

"Yeah, well, my biochemist hasn't called and I don't have his number," Deadpool replied, a touch of his bitterness at being ignored by Spider-Man creeping into his voice.

Maybe that means he's still staying low.

Or he doesn't like you and is glad that you're finally out of his life.

Which isn't mentioning the fact that he could have been killed the same night you were.  There haven't been any sightings of him since then and it’s been over a month.

"He's not dead!" Deadpool snapped.

"So you already heard?"

Deadpool leapt over to Weasel's side, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him.  “Heard what?  What do you mean?  Have you seen him?  Has he called here?"

"Ow!  Wade, let me go and I'll explain!"

When Deadpool released him, Weasel didn't immediately explain but wasted time by rubbing his shoulders.  "Geez, Wade."

Deadpool tapped his foot impatiently.

Weasel reached down to his laptop and with a few clicks he opened a tab on his web browser.  The web page was the online version of the Daily Bugle and front and center was a story on Spider-Man.

“Is the bounty off him?” Deadpool demanded.

Weasel shook his head.  “No, but he is out and about in the city again.  The Daily Bugle is complaining because he got into some brawl that caused some damage.  Reading between the lines, it seems there was an attempt to capture him and he fought the gang off.  Hard to say really; the Bugle mostly focused on the property damage caused by the fight and reiterating what a public menace Spider-Man is.”

Well, he's not dead.

And he hasn't been caught.

“But he hasn’t called…”

So he just doesn't like us.

“I don’t know, Wade.  You two seemed to be getting on well enough when I delivered the Falcon wings.  Did something happen in the week between when I delivered the wings and when you got captured?”

Deadpool didn’t think so.  Sure, he couldn’t remember the events immediately leading up to his capture, what with his head getting exploded and all.  From what he remembered of that week, they’d had a blast patrolling the city with Deadpool wearing the wings and Spidey webbing it up.  Maybe when they had gotten attacked at the meetup place, because he couldn’t think of anything else…

Can’t you?

Deadpool frowned.  What was that supposed to mean?

Maybe Spider-Man’s lack of contact has to do with your breaking your promise of not killing anyone.

That explosion might have been in an abandoned factory in New Jersey, but it was a pretty big explosion and we weren’t that far from New York City.  He had to have heard about it.

And that’s not even going into the people you’ve killed since.  You haven’t been particularly careful not to kill when you’ve been fighting these days.  You brought Weasel a severed head for fuck’s sake.

Oh.  Well shit.

That was it, wasn’t it?  He had slipped back into killing so easily that he hadn’t really thought about it.  And the more time had passed without any word from Spider-Man, the easier it has been to just keep killing.  But the more he killed, the less Spidey would want anything to do with him.

No wonder Spider-Man had never called him.  Fuck.  He really was just a killer.  No matter how much he might think he wanted to change, he never really could.  He would never be anything other than what he was.  What was the point in even trying anymore?  Even Spidey had given up on him.  And Deadpool couldn’t blame him.

There was no chance Spider-Man was ever going to want to see him again, was there?

*****************

He had Spider-Man against a wall, their bodies pressed tightly together.  

“Yes,” Spider-Man moaned into his ear.  Deadpool didn’t know what he was saying ‘yes’ to, but he knew it was the best ‘yes’ he had ever heard.  He kissed Spider-Man, his tongue sliding past those perfect, pink lips while his hands slid down to grab hold of those fabulously pert ass cheeks.

Is this a dream?

It must be.  There’s no way Spider-Man would ever do this with us outside of a dream.

Yellow was right, but this was a strange dream, even for him.  Not the sex.  He had plenty of sex dreams with Spider-Man before this one.  It was just, in his other dreams, their positions were reversed: Spider-Man was pinning him down to have his way with him.  

It was a nice dream--really, really nice--and definitely better than the nightmares he usually had, but at the same time, it somehow made him feel sad.

He rubbed himself against Spider-Man, the friction was perfect.  He was coming...

Someone is coming, and not you.  Wake up.

Deadpool had a gun in hand and pointed at the intruder before he had even opened his eyes.

“Wade!  It’s just me!”

“Nice try, but I’m me!” Deadpool snapped back, glaring at the strange men in front of him.

“It’s Weasel!  You know, your friend, pal, side-kick, Weasel?”

Deadpool looked him up and down.  It did seem vaguely Weasel like.  He had changed his appearance again.

“Why didn’t you just say so then?” Deadpool growled.

Weasel sighed.  “Can you put the gun down now?  It’s making me really nervous.”

Deadpool lowered the gun and settled back down on the couch, but as he did so he complained, “You shouldn’t sneak up on a sleeping merc like that.”

“I didn’t sneak up on you!” Weasel insisted.

Deadpool snorted.

“Okay, I didn’t mean to sneak up on you!  I didn’t realize you were asleep.  Because I have never actually seen you sleep!”

Excuses.

That can’t possibly be true.  Can it?

It could.  Deadpool avoided sleeping as much as possible.  The nightmares were too much.  But he wasn’t particularly inclined to be very charitable to his friend after being woken up from a dream like that.

“I didn’t even realize you were here,” Weasel continued.  “Weren’t you off in South America somewhere?”

Deadpool shrugged.  “It was a bust.”

Like every single one of our missions to find who had us captured and killed have been.

Technically, the order was ‘killed’ then ‘captured’.

Fine, like every single one of our missions to find who put that bounty on our head have been.

Yeah, that’ll work.

“Did you get anything--”

“I said it was a bust, didn’t I?” Deadpool cut in bitterly, annoyed with the voices arguing in his head, by Weasel’s questions, and by his own failure to find anything out.  "They're always one step ahead of me.  I need more intel."

“I don’t know what to tell you, Wade.  I don’t have anything different than when you were last here, and--”

“That’s not good enough!” Deadpool snapped, kicking the coffee table in front of the couch, sending everything on it scattering across Weasel's living room floor.  “It’s been months and we’re still no fucking closer to finding out who these guys are and what the fuck they want than I was the first night.  Running after them the way I've been doing is getting me nowhere, and while I’m doing that-- what the fuck are you even doing?”

“Don't take it out on me that you still haven't heard anything from your boy--!”

The knife was at Weasel's throat before he could even finish the sentence.

"Care to rephrase that?" Deadpool asked, his voice steel.

Weasel swallowed thickly, nicking his Adam's apple on the blade.

He licked his lips and spoke quietly.  "I'm trying.  I’m on the run because of this, too.  I want this situation figured out just as much as you do.  I am doing everything I can, but they're good, like really good.”

He didn’t mean to insult Spider-Man by implying a relationship with you.  Killing him might make you feel better for a moment, but he’s more useful alive than dead.  Might as well let him go.

Deadpool reluctantly agreed and lowered the knife.

Weasel sighed deeply, his hand immediately at his throat, touching where the knife had nicked him.  He took a few shaky steps to reach the swivel chair at his desk.  He took several breaths before he found his voice again.

“I can't tell WHO is behind the attacks on you.  They hire a group to hire a group, dummy groups within dummy groups.  They have tech stolen from everywhere, cherry picking the best of the best.  And beyond that, they're hiding behind stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. firewalls!  They aren’t just one step ahead of you, they’re like twenty!”

He's right.

They’ve got us on a wild goose chase.

We're just chasing shadows at this point.  And it’s been months.

“Alright.  It's time to change tactics,” Deadpool declared.  “If I can't go to them, then it's time to make them come to me.”

“What do you have in mind?” Weasel questioned.

Deadpool held up his katana.

Weasel eyed the sword nervously.  “What are you going to do with that, Wade?”

Deadpool grinned.  “It’s not what I am going to do with it, Weaz.  It’s what you are going to do with it.”

“I really, really don’t like where this is going.” Weasel shook his head.

“Trust me, I’ve got a plan,” Deadpool assured him.

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

*********************

This is not a good idea.

Yeah.  What are you going to do if Spider-Man sees you?

“He won't.  I'll be done before he's even out on patrol.”

Your entire plan is to wander around the city until you are seen.

And you’re planning on ending all of this with some pretty big fireworks. I don’t think your expectations of not being seen by Spider-Man are realistic.

“Yeah, but by then I’ll be long gone.”

Maybe you should meet up with him before you implement your plan.  He’s out and about again these days so it shouldn’t be too hard to find him.  At the very least, so you can apologize for getting him caught up in this whole mess in the first place.

“I don’t want to be a bother to him.  If he wanted to see me, he would’ve called.”  Deadpool shook his head sadly.  “Besides, I don’t deserve to see him.”

It is a very stupid plan.

Deadpool was grateful for the change of topics.  It still hurt to think about Spider-Man and he was glad the voices in his head hadn’t exploited that weak point.  With forced cheer he chirped, “Yeah, but stupid plans are my speciality!”

That isn’t necessarily something to brag about.

“It’ll work, it’ll work,” Deadpool assured himself as he walked down the streets in New York City.  He wasn’t in costume, since he wanted his watchers to think he was trying to keep a low profile, but even out of costume, he knew he was noticed.

You didn’t really need to come to New York City to pull this plan off.

“Yeah, but my warehouse has my stockpile of weaponry.  Running around like I have the past few months has meant I’m real low on the money thing.  It's worth the risk."

Speaking of things we are low on, we’re low on food.

And there’s a really great Mexican stand over on the corner.

When he had reached the food cart, he ordered five enchiladas--a little something to take the edge off his hunger.

Fuck me, this is a good enchilada.

Oh it was too.  He practically purred as he ate.

Damn, look at that schmuck.

Obvious much?

If that’s the level of talent they have spying on us, our plan is totally going to go off without a hitch.

Deadpool agreed.  The slightly emaciated young man had ducked behind a street vendor, trying to make it look like he wasn’t spying on Deadpool.  Of course, that sort of attention only made Deadpool want to put on a bit of a show for him.  Since he couldn’t blow things up, he settled on making the spy really uncomfortable.  With purposeful deliberation, he swallowed the last enchilada whole, then lasciviously licked the juices off his fingers.

Aw!  Look at how he blushes!

He really is terrible at this.

Deadpool smirked.  Well, it was clear he had gotten an audience the way he hoped he would by coming out into the city.  Now he could go back to his warehouse and get the party started.  The sooner he blew up his warehouse and had the spies pick up the bait, the sooner he could find out who was after him and make them regret they ever messed up his life.  In the five seconds before he murdered them.  

As his spy got accosted by the street vendor, Deadpool got up.  He tossed his trash away and walked back towards his warehouse.

**********************

Deadpool made a big show of ‘sneaking’ back into his warehouse.  He had lost the bad spy after eating, but he knew there were others in the area.  

The last time he’d been home was the night of his escape.  He’d come back for his Falcon wings--and some guns, and a new mask, and whatever else he had time to grab.  As he’d expected, his place had been watched, and before he’d gotten much packing done, he’d been set upon by another handful of thugs.  The whole mess had ended more-or-less in a stalemate, with none of them able to capture the other.  With his healing factor still not working properly at the time, Deadpool had decided to retreat.  He’d flown out of there pretty fast without most of the stuff he’d hoped to carry with him.

And now he was back to blow the place up.  Oh well, once he finished with this mess he could get back to working, and from there he could build up another pile of weaponry and mayhem.

That’s such a fun word...Mayhem.  Mayhem.  May-hem…

C’mon, man, you need to focus.

After all our preparation, we’re finally at Show Time.

Deadpool went into the office and saw where Weasel had tucked the Deadpool-mannequin.

Now let’s see if Weasel actually got this thing working.

He said he made it so simple even a dummy could get it started.

Then maybe it’ll start itself.

Ha!

It took a few minutes, but it was pretty simple to set the dummy in place.  It was programmed to perform some life-like movements, making it look like he was still in the warehouse even after he left.  Leaving the dummy seated on his chair, he went to the fridge and removed the final component for his plan: his pre-severed arm.  Weasel had wussed out in cutting it off, but he did imbed the nano-trackers into it, al-be-it reluctantly.  It wasn’t quite as easy to attach the arm to the dummy, but Deadpool thought he had it on well enough that it wouldn’t fall off before the explosion.  The dummy’s body would disintegrate in the fire, leaving the arm the only part of him that the spies would find and recover.  Then Weasel would be able to track the arm anywhere they took it.

With the last pieces of the trap in place, Deadpool snuck out through a bolt hole in the floor.  He crawled through an old, forgotten drainage tunnel that let out a couple blocks down.  Then he doubled-back and settled down in a building down the street from his warehouse.  Any of the buildings closer to his place would likely have someone in them, set up to spy on him.  In his current location, he had a good line of sight on the places that had a line of sight on his place.

He pulled out a radio headset and inserted the earbuds into his ears.  He flicked the unit on and tuned it to the first station.  With this device, a one-of-kind Weasel original, he would be able to pick up any radio chatter going on in the area.  If he could figure out what active frequency they were using.

He paused for a few minutes on each station, giving time to see if it was the correct frequency and they were just being quiet.  He didn’t pick up on anything until the second to last station.  

Finally.  It was getting to be a bit worrisome.

There were three of them in the area, and from the clues he could pick up in the chatter, he had a pretty good sense of where they were hiding.  One was in the building across the street from his, staking out the front entrance.  The second was perched outside the window to his office.  The third was infiltrating the building.

Any moment now the third guy would trigger the explosives.

“Wait.  Do you have visual confirmation of the target in the warehouse?” Front Door said.

“Not at the moment, but I will in a few seconds,” Warehouse Infiltrator replied.

“Because I have visual confirmation of what appears to be the target.”

“What?!”

“Target has not left through the back.  He must have snuck out through another way,” Backdoor said.

Deadpool blinked.  Had he been spotted?  He peered through his sniper scope.  Front Door was still in location, and he didn’t seem to be looking in his direction.  His focus still seemed to be on Deadpool’s warehouse.

“Target is slinking towards the front door.  He is in a dark hoodie, but I can confirm he is in mask.  Confirmation: target is in sight,” Front Door announced.

But we’re not anywhere near the front door.

And we’re not in a hoodie.

Deadpool moved his gun sight.  It took a moment, but he saw the dark on dark shadowy form creeping his way toward the front door.

Who…?

“SPIDEY!”

“I’ve got a shot, I repeat, I have a shot.”

“Fire!”

Shit!  Deadpool had moved his scope to see Spider-Man and he no longer had his gun aimed at Front Door!  Front Door needed to be dead.  NOW.  Before he could hurt Spidey.

He shifted the gun as fast as he could, lined up his shot, and fired.  

Great shot.  You got him.

But taking out Front Door wasn’t going to be enough.  The other two guys were both going to be hunting down Spidey with everything they had, thinking he was a certain hard-to-kill mercenary.

He couldn’t get to the third guy in his warehouse yet, but he knew just the spot where he could take care of Back Door.  He ran up to the roof.  From there, he leapt to the roof of the next building over.  

But our plan…

“Fuck our plan!” Deadpool growled.  He lined up his shot and fired.  One more to go...

And then his warehouse exploded.

Chapter Text

Issue 24: Just a Little Lost...

You need to stop the bleeding.

Deadpool was used to blood--his enemies’, his own-- but this... His hands hovered uselessly over Spider-Man's body.

That is a big ass hole in his shoulder.

Spider-Man was a hero; heroes always survive.  They don’t get shot.

Use his ripped up hoodie to tie up his shoulder.  It might slow down the blood-loss until he can get to a doctor.

Right.  Stop the bleeding.  Use the shirt.  Deadpool tore off the left sleeve, already covered in blood, and tied it tightly around Spider-Man's shoulder wound.

“Wade, where were you?” Spider-Man murmured.

Is he asking where were we just now to see if we were the one that shot him?

No way.  He's asking about the past.  Where we’ve been the last five months since we left him in the lurch after getting him caught up in our own problems.

Deadpool really didn’t want to get into any of that at the moment, not when Spider-Man was bleeding.  He wasn’t even sure if Spider-Man was truly aware of what was going on around him.

“I’ve got to get you to a hospital,” he said.  Care for Spider-Man took priority over answering any complicated questions.

“Nooo,” Spider-Man moaned.

“C’mon, Ba--Spider-Man.  You’re bleeding out.”

“I can’t… go to a hospital,” Spider-Man insisted, sounding more alert.

Put one vote in then for “aware of what is going on around him”

“You’re going to die if you don’t,” Deadpool replied.

As if you like going to hospitals yourself.

Yeah, how’s that going to work out?

“Shut up, I can manage for Spidey-er-Man’s sake.”

“What? No.  No hospital,” Spider-Man repeated.  “I… I have a doctor.  My phone…”

He tried to reach for his gauntlet with his broken and bleeding hand.  It worked about as well as expected.  Fortunately, Deadpool had seen him retrieve his phone from his gauntlet before.  It only took a little fiddling before he was able to open the hidden compartment and pull out the phone.

Deadpool slid the phone open and hit the button for contacts.  There were only two names in the list.

Either Spider-Man is super unpopular…

Or this isn’t his primary phone.

And note, that neither of these numbers are yours.  He didn't bother to keep it.  He must really not like you.

The truth of that hurt, but he couldn’t do anything about it now.  Spider-Man had asked him to call someone.

"Which...?" he asked as he looked over the two names.  Neither of them said 'Doctor'.

“-Ones...."

"Yes, I've got your phone.  But which number am I calling?" Deadpool tried again.

Spider-Man just repeated, "Ones." He sounded frustrated.

We've got the damn phone.  Let's get on to the next step already!

Do you think maybe he is?  Try Jones, M.?

Deadpool hoped that was the case.  He pressed send on the highlighted contact.

After two rings a female voice demanded, "Well, what have you done to yourself this time?"

"Um," Deadpool started, at a bit of a loss.  "That is... Are you Spider-Man's doctor?"

"Wait.  You're not Spider-Man,” the woman snapped.  “Who is this?  How’d you get this number?"

"I'm his..."

What was he to Spider-Man?  He had come here last year to learn how to be a hero, and they had spent the summer hanging out together on patrols, but he hadn't been around in months and Spider-Man clearly didn't think much of him at this point...

Really, really not important right now.  Use "friend" to reassure her you are an ally and not about to find her and murder her in her sleep.

Right.  

"I'm his friend.  Spider-Man's been hurt.  Badly.  He needs medical help.  Where are you?"

The long delay before he said ‘friend’ must have made her even more suspicious.  She paused before replying, "How do I know this isn't some sort of trap?  Where’s Spider-Man?"

Good question.  How does she know that this isn't a trap?

Yo mamma is a trap.

"How do I know that you're not a trap," Deadpool countered.

"Tell her... Tell her I liked her best in Raiders of the Lost Ark," Spider-Man managed to murmur with obvious difficulty.

Uhoh. Sounds like he’s fading.

Hurry it up.

"I like her best in Raiders of the Lost Ark?" Deadpool repeated uncertainly.  Spider-Man seemed to be passed out again.  He wasn’t sure if he should be trying to keep him awake or let him be unconscious for pain relief purposes.

"Well, that's Spider-Man with you, alright," the voice on the phone concluded.  With that assurance, she relented and gave Deadpool instructions on where to find her clinic.  

It wasn't too far away.  Thank goodness.  Spider-Man wouldn’t make it if the clinic was any farther.

He might not make it as is.

He couldn’t think about that.

"I'll be there with him soon," Deadpool promised as he hung up the phone.  He looked down at Spider-Man. "Alright, Spidey, this isn't going to be comfortable, but here we go."

He gingerly scooped Spider-Man up into his arms, being as careful with his injured shoulder as he could.

Holy fuck!   Does he weigh anything at all?!

Could he have already lost that much blood?

“If that was blood loss, he’d already be dead.”

Still, he’s all skin and bones.  He’s got no weight to him at all.

He's got no reserves.  He is NOT going to survive if we don’t get him to the doctor right now.

Deadpool broke into a flat out run.  Due to his healing factor, he was always in prime physical health, and he could run as fast as an Olympic athlete.  But he couldn’t run smoothly.  The jolting wasn’t good for Spider-Man, but not going as fast as he could would be even worse.  Time was of the essence and all that shit.  Unsurprisingly, his irregular gallop soon shook Spider-Man back to consciousness.

“W-Wade?”

“Yeah, Spidey.  I got you.”

“Deadpool.”  He said it flatly.

What happened to ‘Wade’?

Man, he does NOT like you.

“Where have you been?” Spider-Man asked.  There was something in his voice… Not disgust or annoyance.  Was it… pain?

Well duh.  He got shot, had a building fall down on him, and now he’s being constantly jolted as you run down the street holding him.  Of course there’s pain in his voice.

“Where have you been?” Spider-Man repeated.

Still not the best time for a lengthy description.

Keep it to the bullet points. Heh.  Bullet points.

“Where... have I been?  Where have I a been... I’ve been... hunted down and... hunting those who were hunting me down,” Deadpool prevaricated.

But Spider-Man was not to be put off.  “So you just left?”

“I didn't just leave, but it’s a long story for another day, another time.  Trust me.”

Spider-Man snorted.

He doesn’t seem to believe you.

“Aw, man, you don’t really think I’d abandon you?”  He meant it as a joke.

Spider-Man tensed.

Oh.  Oh shit. He does think that.  He does think we abandoned him!

Well we did promise to help him and then ditched him.  For five months.

That was because Spider-Man never called!

Deadpool shook his head.  “No way!  I wouldn’t have just left without saying anything to you.  Didn’t you get my letter?”

“Letter?  What letter?” Spider-Man asked, confused.

“I had to leave immediately and it was too risky to find you first.  I wrote you a letter explaining it.  You never got it?” Deadpool fumed with righteous anger.  The guy never delivered his letter to Spider-Man!  Deadpool was going to murder him!

Wait.  Who had he asked to deliver it?

As Deadpool struggled to remember, Spider-Man was coming to a realization of his own.  “Oh, oh no.  The letter.  The one just inside your warehouse door?  I’m sorry, Deadpool, I only found it today.  I’m sorry, I never came to your place before tonight.  I never read it.”  He sounded genuinely distraught.

Oh fuck, we forgot it there.  We never got anyone to deliver it.

And Mr. Guilt Complex doesn’t need this added stress.

“No, Spidey, it’s my fault,” Deadpool quickly reassured.  “I was going to have someone deliver it.  In the rush to leave, and then the attack--”

“You were attacked?!” Spider-Man broke in.

Shit. We really didn’t want to bring that up right now.  The whole “no added stress” thing.

“Spidey, do you think you can wait for that explanation for another time?  It’s not so easy running full speed and talking like this, even for me.”

“But--”

Later,” Deadpool insisted.  “I promise.”

Spider-Man must have agreed, albeit reluctantly, because he didn’t press any further.  Deadpool took a deep, shaky breath and pushed himself into a faster run.

**********************************

"I--I can't," Doctor Jones said.  She had been all business when Deadpool first burst in with Spider-Man in his arms.  She had calmly directed him through the clinic to a clean room, but once she had removed the makeshift bandage and seen just how bad the injury was, she faltered.

"I'm a general practitioner," she stated.  "Not a surgeon.  I can't treat something like this! He needs to go to the hospital."

"You know he can't," Deadpool snapped back.

There isn't time for this.

"I've never done anything like this before--I could kill him!"

"Yeah, well, if you don't do anything he's definitely going to die.  He needs help.  NOW.  There's no time for anyone else.  The only chance he has to live is if you try."

"You're right," she admitted, then she repeated with stronger conviction, "You're right."

Of course we’re right.

She stood over Spider-Man and counted, "One... Two..."

Is she doing that counting trick from Lost?

"Three... Four..."  Her voice growing steadier with each number.

Seems like it.

She likes Indiana Jones and Lost.  We knew Spider-Man liked her for a reason.

Deadpool pouted.  He liked those things too!

"Five."  

When she reached 'five' she was back to business again.  "Get those gloves off and wash your hands!  I need you holding him down.  I don't have an anesthesiologist here and this isn't going to be pretty!"

********************

Several hours later, Spider-Man was stable and was hooked up to an I.V.  The image sent shivers down Deadpool’s spine and he desperately wanted to reach over and tear the tubes out of Spider-Man’s arm, but Spider-Man had lost a lot of blood and he needed to have some fluids put back into him.

“He really shouldn’t be moved,” Dr. Jones noted even as she packed a bag of extra bandages and medication.

“It’s too dangerous not to,” Deadpool countered.  “For both him and you.”

“Hmm.”

She doesn’t sound very convinced.

But she is still packing up for Spidey.

“We came straight here,” Deadpool explained.  “The enemies who are after us will follow our trail.  We had a slight head start but that's gotta be gone by now.  We need to leave.”

He didn’t like involving civilians, but there hadn’t been a choice.  

Dr. Jones was now beside Spider-Man, unhooking him from the I.V. drip and dressing him in the various spare clothes she and Deadpool and managed to scrounge up from the lost and found.

“Remember that when he wakes up, he can’t use his left arm because his shoulder needs full rest, and he can’t use his right hand because his bones need a chance to set and heal.  Both his shoulder and hand can’t get wet for at least twenty-four hours because of the stitches.”

“I got it,” Deadpool said with a definitive node.  “And do you remember the plan?”

“Go home as discreetly as I can.  Pretend I've been there all night. Then come back in the morning, act shocked and appalled that my clinic was broken into, and then call and report the break in to the police.  I got it.  I don’t like it, but I got it.”

“We don't have the time to come up with a better plan,” Deadpool shot back.

“It’s not that, it’s just... I don’t like the idea that Spider-Man could be thought of as criminal.  He’s got a bad enough rep as is without adding to it.”

“The police might never figure out that he was the one here, and even if they do, it’s better for people to think he broke in than for people to think you’re helping him.  I know it sucks, believe me, I know.  But it’s the best way to protect you and he’d never forgive himself--”

Or us.

“--If something happened to you while you were helping him.”

She’s still going to be at risk.

Your plan isn’t much protection for her.

He knew it, but there wasn’t much else he could do about it now.  He had to get Spider-Man to a safe place, and there wasn’t time to come up with anything better.  The best thing he could do was to get Spider-Man and himself as far away from there as he could.  And hope that whoever came following their trail didn’t look too closely at the clinic.

*************************

Even as late in the night as it was, it wasn’t that hard for Deadpool to find a random guy walking down the street.  Deadpool got right into the man’s face, making him stop short.  His expression went from surprise to anger back to surprise as Deadpool waved a large wad of cash under his nose.

“You are going to take this money,” Deadpool informed him. “Go into that hotel,” --Deadpool pointed at a hotel highrise halfway down the block. “--And get me a room.  One of their private rooms,” he stressed.

The man gulped, his eyes widening with fear.

“Then you will come back here, with a key for the room, and I will give you this wad of cash.” Deadpool brought out a second wad with his other hand and waved it next to the first one.  “Then you’ll leave and never say anything to anyone about this.  Do you understand me?”

“Y-yes,” the man stammered.  He swallowed thickly, and licked his lips nervously, but his eyes never left the money.

“If you steal my money without doing what I ask, I will hunt you down and murder everyone you’ve ever loved,” Deadpool growled out.

I love the way you had a dangerous rasp in your voice when you said that.  Real threatening like.

Gave me shivers.

Deadpool pushed the pile of cash against the man’s chest. The man anxiously clutched the money.  As he furtively scuttled towards the hotel, he kept twisting his head around and glancing back at Deadpool.

This man will never be James Bond.

“He’ll be more believable as he is,” Deadpool murmured in response.

What, as a married man sneaking out for the first time to be with his mistress during his business trip into the city?

“Exactly.”

Deadpool had picked this hotel for a reason.  It specialized in rooms for wealthy people who wanted a more private location for their clandestine meetings where there would be no prying eyes or questions asked.  There was a secondary entrance with a elevator that would take guests straight to their room without risk of running into anyone else.  In the past, back when he was doing the kill-for-money thing, Deadpool had gotten some assignments where his mark had been staying here.

The man was inside the hotel now.  Deadpool stepped back into the alleyway behind him.  He had tucked Spider-Man in the shadows, as bundled up as Deadpool could make him considering his limited time and resources.  

He’s lost too much blood--

--And he’s too thin--

--To stay out in the cold for much longer.

Deadpool knelt beside Spider-Man, trying to share some of his body heat by proximity.  He hoped the man would be quick about getting the room.

You should have offered him a bonus for being fast.

Yeah, that would have been smart.  “Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?” he grumbled.

That’s even assuming he does get the room and come back.

Deadpool was not going to think about that.  He wasn’t going to be able to bribe someone else into getting a room for him again if this guy just took off.  He didn’t have that much cash.

We’re going to have to hit up Weasel for some more petty cash.

Weasel’s not going to like that.

Weasel wasn’t going to like a whole lot about the evening, least of all Deadpool hitting him up for a loan.  

His phone buzzed from one of his pouches.

Speak of the devil.

Deadpool glanced at the caller id as he pulled his phone out.  It was Weasel.

“I need more money,” Deadpool announced by way of greeting.

“What the hell, Wade?  Seriously, what the fuck is going on?  I thought you were supposed to be checking in.  I had to hear about the warehouse exploding from listening to the police lines!  I’ve been waiting around for you to call, staring at the tracking device and your arm hasn’t budged, and when I finally call you’re demanding more money from me!”

Yeesh.  He sounds pissed.

“I’ve been too busy to call,” Deadpool snapped back.

“How could you be too busy?  I thought the plan was that you were going to stay back, out of sight, while things went down!”

“Yeah, well, the plan went to hell.”

“What did you do, Wade?” Weasel asked, his voice flat from anger.

Oh, I see how it is.  Always our fault!

Well, to be fair, it usually is.

“My ass is on the line because of your mess!” Weasel continued to rant.  “You can’t just screw the plan and fool around!”

Oh fuck you, Jack.

We don’t have the time to argue with him.  We gotta take care of Spider-Man and we need Weasel to send us more money so we can do that.

Through gritted teeth, Deadpool bit back the choice retorts he would have liked to have lobbed at Weasel and explained, “It’s not like that.  Spider-Man saw me in the city and came by the warehouse.  They mistook him for me.”

“Oh.  Oh fuck,” Weasel said, the anger out of his voice, replaced with genuine concern.

“So I had to kill them all,” Deadpool continued to explain.

“Wha..? No.  No killing.”

That wasn’t Weasel.

Shit, Spider-Man just had to wake up for that, didn’t he?

“So, that’s how it is Weaz.  I gotta go.  Send me more money.  I’ll get back to you later.”  He hung up without waiting for any response from Weasel.

Spider-Man was trying to get up, but Deadpool placed a hand on his chest and gently, but firmly, kept him pressed down.

“No killing,” Spider-Man repeated.

“You might not believe me,” Deadpool told him mildly, “but I swear that I didn’t have a choice and that I really, really, didn’t want to do it.”

At that particular moment.

Completely threw off our entire plan!

“You always have a choice…” Spider-Man said softly.

Isn’t he adorably naive?

This is so not the time for this conversation.

Deadpool thought and rejected several explanations before he settled on one that was as quick as he could make it while still being complete enough that it would stop any further protestations on Spider-Man’s part.  “I didn’t have the time to do any elaborate means of securing them with you bleeding out, and if I left them, they would have followed us.  I had to kill them so I could save you.  And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  You’re worth a hundred of them.”

Spider-Man gave a small shake of his head.  "Every life matters."

“They were lowlives.  Scum.  Murders and thieves,” Deadpool justified.

“Some’d say... the same... about you,” Spider-Man slurred out.  

Ouch.

True.

“But… I know you now,” Spider-Man said with difficulty.  “Those lives matter... because… your life matters.”

“Mine doesn’t matter...” Deadpool whispered under his breath, but Spidey must have heard.

“It does... Wade...  i’matters... to me.”

Heads up.  Our guy’s coming back towards us.

Oh fucking hell.  Way to interrupt, asshole.

We still need to get Spider-Man into a safe, warm place.

The man was haltingly approaching.  Deadpool wanted to kill him on principle for interrupting what was turning out to be a tender moment between him and Spider-Man, but that would have ruined the moment even more.  And really, the narrative box in his head was right: they did need to get Spidey into safety and this guy was delivering the means to do that.  Deadpool stepped out of the alleyway causing the man to jump.

Skittish, isn’t he?

Wouldn’t you be?

“Well?” Deadpool demanded.

“You have the room for six nights with the money you paid,” he explained as he handed over the small paper envelop with the room number written in blue ink that had the plastic key inside.  

Deadpool paid him and told him to get lost.  The man didn’t need to be told twice.  He booked it down the street.  Deadpool waited until the man was far enough away so he wouldn’t see him picking Spider-Man up and making his way towards the hotel’s back entrance.

*************************

True to the hotel’s reputation, Deadpool got them up and into their room without crossing paths with a single person.

It’s actually a shame there aren’t any witnesses to see you carrying Spider-Man bridal style across the threshold.  And you’re never going to have a chance like this again.

It was an appealing image, and it’d be great ammo for teasing, but Spider-Man was too seriously injured for that sort of levity.

That and the fact that the whole idea was to keep out of sight.

Spider-Man had been so quiet on their way up, Deadpool was surprised when he suddenly mumbled, “Cold…”

“I know you are, Baby Boy, but we’re in the room now, and in just a few moments I’ll have you out of these frozen clothes and tucked up nice and warm in the bed, okay?”

Weren’t you refraining from using that term of endearment for him?

That had been the plan, but this night hadn’t been good for any of his plans so why should this one be any different?  Besides, with Spider-Man tucked into his arms like this, it just sort of snuck out of him.

He dropped the bag full of medications and various sundries on the desk and then turned up the heat in the room.  Deadpool himself was going to end up overheated soon, but Spider-Man could use the extra warmth.  Deadpool shifted his hold on Spider-Man while he deftly wriggled himself out of his own bulky coat.  Then he carefully divested Spider-Man of his threadbare lost-and-found coat.  With both the coats dumped on the floor, he carried Spider-man over to the bed, stopping to pull the covers open.

He’s covered in blood and dirt.  He’s going to make a mess out of the bed.

“What he needs right now is warmth and rest.  A bath can come later, and the bed doesn’t matter.”

He moved to set Spider-Man down, but found he couldn’t. Spider-Man’s arms weren’t wrapped around him or anything, but somehow his hands were just... attached.

Deadpool leaned his torso forward, pivoting at his waist so that he stood with his body bent at a 90 degree angle.  He thought Spider-Man might let go if he felt he that was on the bed.

“Come on, Spidey, nice warm bed for you.”  Deadpool tried to peel Spider-Man off, but like a tongue on a metal pole in winter, Spider-Man remained stuck to him.

Do I even want to know how you know what that feels like?

“Cold,” Spider-Man murmured again, and nustled himself against Deadpool’s shoulder.

Despite the fact that Spider-Man’s body was ice cold, warmth filled Deadpool.

His belt and pouches came off easily enough, but the shoulder straps that held his swords were more difficult to remove while Spider-Man was affixed to his chest.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, his boots required all the flexibility he had to unzip and unbuckle while keeping his body at the right angle for Spider-Man to stay on the bed.  When his boots were loose enough, he used one foot to nudge the boot off the other.  He dropped all of his accessories in a heap on the floor, leaving him striped down to only his mask and costume.  Then he climbed into the bed, positioning himself in such a way so that he wasn’t crushing the still-attached Spider-Man.  He pulled the blankets over them and held Spider-Man.

He knew it was just because Spider-Man was doped out of his mind, and when he came back to his senses he wouldn’t want Deadpool anywhere near him, certainly not cuddling up against him, but for the moment Deadpool took advantage and pulled him close.  For this moment, he could lose himself in the fantasy that Spider-Man could actually want him, Wade Wilson, close.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 25: And Found

Deadpool had only been curled up in the hotel bed with Spider-Man for about twenty minutes when he heard a soft beep beep coming from the bag holding Spider-Man’s things.  He was reluctant to move, but he figured on the off chance it was a bomb about to kill them all, he ought to investigate.

Spider-Man was soundly asleep, so Deadpool was finally able to slip out of his hold and climb out of the bed.  He dug through the bag on the desk and found that Spider-Man's phone was the offending origin of the beeps.  The display said “K”, the only other name found in the phone’s contacts.  Deadpool flipped the phone open just before it went to voicemail.

As soon as he answered, he heard a female voice demand, “Are you alright?  Where are you?”

“I’m fine and that’s classified,” Deadpool responded cheekily.

“Deadpool,” the voice stated.

“You know who I am?” Deadpool marveled.

Aw, he’s been talking to his friends about us!

In all likelihood, this is his girlfriend.

And whatever he told her about us isn't likely to be complementary.

She probably was his girlfriend.  Someone as awesome as Spidey had to have someone already.

“Are you still with him?  Is he alright?” the woman demanded.

Deadpool looked over at the bed.  Spider-Man was curled up in a ball on his right side.  Still holding the phone, Deadpool walked to the bed and tucked the blankets tighter around Spider-Man.  His hand brushed against Spider-Man’s cheek and he let it linger there.  Then he stepped away from the bed and replied to the woman, “He’s sleeping.”

“Has someone checked his injuries?”

Even she doubts if you can tell a sleeping person from a dead one.

“Hey!  I’m a professional mercenary; I can tell sleeping from dead!”

“I didn’t say you couldn't,” she said, mildly.  “I just want to make sure he's had someone look over him who can tell if he’s got any internal injuries.”

“He has a doctor who looked him over,” Deadpool admitted.

“So he has a doctor?  I thought he might.”

Uh-oh, was that information he shouldn’t have shared?  Argh, trying to do the right thing was hard!

She continued, “I’m still out of the city.  Are you going to be able to stay there with him for the next few days while he recovers?”

“Yes,” Deadpool said quickly.  If she was going to give him a chance to steal her guy away…

As if there’s any chance of that!

“He does have some enhanced healing, but nothing close to your ability,” she explained.  “Since he’s survived the initial injury and a doctor has looked him over and didn't find any internal injuries, at this point he just needs food and rest and he’ll recover on his own.  He’s not going to want to eat, or at the very least, not think he’s hungry, but feed him anyway.”

“Well, clearly I’m going to have to because it doesn’t look like anyone has been.”

“I don’t need those comments from you,” she said pointedly back.  “Anyway, if you can’t watch him anymore, call me, but otherwise I'll leave him in your care.”

What, is she crazy?

In what world would leaving someone in our care be a good idea?

Deadpool agreed but she had already hung up.

As he dropped the phone back into the bag, Deadpool eyed the bed.  He longed to climb back in beside Spider-Man, but that nagging feeling in his gut meant it wouldn’t be right to take advantage of him in his sleep.

Might as well take this chance to clean up some.

The whole “not washing your hand after the guy you’re crushing on touched it” doesn’t really work well when he was bleeding at the time.

That was a good point.  He went into the bathroom.  It was huge, with a good-sized soaking tub beside a large open shower with a rainfall showerhead.

Damn is this place swanky.

“There’s no way I would take Spider-Man to some cheap-ass no-tell motel!  Only the best for my Baby Boy!” Deadpool exclaimed.

Shhh! He's sleeping!

Deadpool cringed.  He gave a quick glance at the form on the bed and determined Spider-Man was still soundly asleep.  He closed the bathroom door, or at least, he tried to.  The door immediately popped back open.

“...The fuck?”

So much for ‘swanky’.

After several tries to get the door to actually latch shut, Deadpool gave up.  If he positioned it carefully, the door stayed mostly closed, particularly with a towel at the base to hold it in place.  Besides, it wasn’t like Spider-Man was going to care considering how out of it he currently was.

Deadpool stripped out of his sweaty, blood-covered clothes and dumped them on the floor.  He wasn’t looking forward to putting those back on after his shower.

Not like we can just wander around in the buff.  

Nobody needs to see that shit.

Least of all Spider-Man, Deadpool agreed.

He was going to need clean clothes.  And food, if not for himself then definitely for Spider-Man, whenever he woke up.  He had a cache not too far from the hotel that would have a spare suit and some other supplies.  And while he was out he could grab some food…

He’d need to do it quickly and low-key; their enemies were probably out and about looking for them by now.  Still, he had to risk it.

With his plans coming together in his head, Deadpool stepped into the shower, letting the hot water rain down upon him.

*******************

Spider-Man woke up alone in a room he didn’t recognize.  He hurt, he was alone, and he didn’t know where he was.  He tensed and suddenly his body ached even more.  His heart was jackhammering in his chest and his breath was taking on the raw edge of hyperventilation.

He knew that he was Spider-Man.  There was no mistaking the fact that his mask was still covering his whole face.  So at the very least, his identity was safe.  That eased some of his panic.  It was going to be okay.  He could figure out the rest as he went on.  He took a deep breath and took in his surroundings.

He was in a bed in a large room that was dim but not dark.  There was a wall of curtains that were drawn closed, but there was a light coming from around the corner.  A hotel room maybe?  A really nice one though.  He better not be expected to pay for it.  He couldn’t worry about that now.  So he was in a hotel room somewhere, somehow.  That was something.  He could figure out the whys and hows of it later.

Next, he turned his attention back to himself.  He knew he had his mask on.  He also had his pants and boots, but it didn’t feel like he had his shirt on.  The source of most of his pain was centered on his left shoulder and just by twisting his head he could see that it was bandaged up.  His right hand felt constricted and heavy and as he pulled it out from under the covers he realized it was in a cast.

He’d been hurt--but someone had treated his injuries.  And then had brought him to a hotel room to rest?  Could it possibly have been Wade?  

But Deadpool had left.  No, wait.

Recollection filtered through the haze of his mind.  He remembered following Deadpool back to his warehouse.  There was an explosion.  That explained the way his whole body hurt.  After that, Deadpool had brought him to Moesha’s clinic. That would be the cast and bandages.  What happened next?  Had Deadpool dumped him in this room?  Was he still around or had he left, his responsibility over?

“Deadpool,” he called out.  His voice was scratchy and raw and not at all as loud as he thought it was going to be, but it seemed to carry through the silence of the room.  And surely it could be heard throughout the suite if Deadpool was there, but what if he wasn’t?  What if he had really left him?  Again?

Deadpool was gone and he was alone and he’d missed his chance and… His stomach clenched and his chest ached and he couldn’t breathe.  

“Wade!” he squeaked out.

A shadow blocked some of the incoming light as Deadpool peered around the corner.  “Did I hear…? Ah, you are awake.”

Relief flooded through Spider-Man and yet he couldn’t stop his body from shaking.

“Oh, hey!” Deadpool exclaimed with alarm.  He crossed the room in three large steps, immediately appearing at Spider-Man’s side.  He put his hand onto Spider-Man’s uninjured shoulder and gave a slight squeeze as he knelt down, his head resting on the mattress.

Spider-Man wanted to throw his arm off and angrily demand to know where Deadpool had been for the last five months.  He clenched his hand but that motion sent pain piercing through his arm.  He wanted to throw himself at Deadpool and cry his eyes out. His chest heaved in abrupt hiccupy bursts.  

“Breathe,” Deadpool coaxed.   

Spider-Man gulped in some air.

“That’s it.  Just like that,” Deadpool encouraged.

After what felt like forever but was probably only a minute, Spider-Man's breathing returned to normal and the shaking had subsided.

“Was it a bad one?”

Spider-Man had no idea what Deadpool was talking about, and looked over at him dumbly.  

Deadpool supplied, “The nightmare?”

“Oh!” Spider-Man exclaimed, then added quickly, “Yes!  Yes it was a bad one.”

It was easier to pretend he’d had a nightmare then try to explain that he had no clue why he just had some sort of panic attack at the thought that Deadpool had abandoned him again.  Why was he such a mess whenever Deadpool was around?  

He took some more deep breaths, calming himself down.  He was fine.  He was.

“When I have bad nightmares, I wake up shooting holes in my wall,” Deadpool offered.

“Then maybe you shouldn’t always have a gun in your hand,” Spider-Man retorted.  It felt good to banter like this with Deadpool again. It felt normal.

“Eh.”  Deadpool shrugged unapologetically, his hand lifting briefly from Spider-Man’s shoulder with the movement.  “Well, since you’re awake, I’ve got food that should be ready in the other room.”

“I’m not hungry,” Spider-Man told him.

“Ha!  That’s what she said you’d say.”

“She?” Spider-Man prompted.

“Your girlfriend.  Called last night to check up on you.”

“My--?  Oh, her.”  It had to have been Krissi checking in on him. He hadn’t talked with her in over a month as Peter, not since that disastrous New Year’s Eve party, but she didn’t know that he was Spider-Man and she was Spider-Man’s point of contact with S.H.I.E.L.D.  She must have seen the explosion somehow.  But what would Krissi know about Spider-Man not feeling hungry?  And when had he last eaten anyway?

Deadpool yanked his hand back and stepped away quickly.  “So, um… I’ll go plate up some food.”

Geez, Deadpool wanted nothing to do with him.  Spider-Man was surprised that Deadpool hadn't just ditched him at the hotel, leaving Spider-Man to wake up alone with only, if he was lucky, a note to let him know that at least the hotel room was taken care of for the night but he’d have to be gone by eleven or something.

A note.  There had been a note, hadn’t there?  At Deadpool’s place, there had been a note left for him… Or had that just been a dreamed-up wishful thinking?

“Did you leave a note… for me… at your place?  When you left?” Spider-Man asked, stumbling over his words.

“What?” Deadpool called back from the other room and Spider-Man despaired.  He'd barely managed to say it once, and now he had to repeat it?  What if he was wrong and there hadn’t been a note?

“Oh, the letter,” Deadpool continued after a pregnant pause.  “Yeah, I’m really sorry about that Spidey.  I was going to have someone pass it off to you but I’m kinda an idiot.  Okay, a huge, fucking dumbshit.  Enough already!  I don’t need anymore ‘helpful suggestions’!”

Spider-Man’s stomach dropped like lead.  Deadpool was arguing with himself when it was Spider-Man who was the stupid, prideful, selfish jerk who hadn’t even bothered to go the Deadpool’s place once to see if something was wrong before writing Deadpool off completely.

“No,” Spider-Man cut into Deadpool’s self-flagellation.  “It’s my fault.  It was just, when you didn’t show up, I got so…” Hurt.  Furious.  Distraught.  “...upset…”

Deadpool popped his head around the corner.  Facial expressions were hard to read through the fabric of his mask, but it looked like his brow was furrowed.  “No seriously, Spidey, it's completely my fault!  I should have checked in with you when I hadn’t heard anything!”

“No, it… I was going to tell you to leave, but then you didn’t show up,” Spider-Man admitted.  “It seemed like you’d left without saying anything and I-- I got so mad at you for leaving before I could tell you to leave.  It’s so stupid.”  And immature.   “And that’s why I never even bothered to go to your place to check in on you--”

“No way!” Deadpool cut in.  “It’s good that you didn’t come over.  My place wasn’t safe.  It was watched.”

“Watched?”

“Uh.  Yeah.  You might’ve noticed that someone has a price out on my head...”

Really?  Was this supposed to be news to him?  Spider-Man rolled his eyes and sarcastically replied, “You know, I did seem to notice something like that.  About the time when I could hardly move through the city without being attacked by people looking for YOU.”

Deadpool slid a hand behind his head and sheepishly looked down at his feet.  “Sorry about that.”

Spider-man waved off the apology.  At this stage, it was a moot point.  “What was that all about, anyway?”

“I still don't actually know,” Deadpool confessed.  “I haven't been able to catch anyone who knows.  That's what yesterday's plan was all about.”

“Until I can along and blew that up.  Literally.”  Now it was Spider-Man's turn to be sheepish.

“Eh, it probably would have failed for some other reason.  Speaking of my screw-ups, that whole ‘breaking into the college science building to test that blood sample I got you’ thing…  Were you able to take care of that?”

“Yeah,” Spider-Man responded though the question confused him.  “I had to go once more after the night you helped me, but I got the data I needed.”

“Oh so I did help you!  Oh good!” Deadpool gave a small leap and ended kneeling on the foot of the bed, causing the whole bed to shake as he bounced onto it.

The bounce sent a jolt of pain through Spider-Man's shoulder.

Deadpool didn’t notice; he continued in a rush, “I thought with the way you said that you were really upset when I stood you up that I had stood you up for that!  I’m glad I didn’t miss that then, since I promised you I’d help and all.”

“Y--You don’t remember?”  Spider-Man’s stomach sunk like lead, his chest tightened, and his mouth went dry.  He had spent months agonizing about that night with Deadpool, and Deadpool thought so little of it that he didn’t even remember?!

“Well, no.  You see, I kinda had my head explode.  And my healing factor was all weird, so even beyond having my brain exploded, I don’t think I was able to recover a lot of my memories from that point.  It’s really pretty fuzzy.”

“You were killed?” Spider-Man cried.  “By who?”

Deadpool shook his head and shrugged unconcerned.  “Don’t know.  Unfortunately, in the, um, exuberance of my escape, I sort of blew up the warehouse and any clues went along with it."

Spider-Man sighed.  “You blew up a warehouse?”

“You didn’t hear about it on the news or anything?” Deadpool questioned in surprise.  “It was a really big explosion, I would have thought the news would have been all over that, even with the warehouse having been abandoned.  Weird.”  He shrugged again, dismissing it.  “Anyway, being all exploded dead and having no memories of the events leading right up to the whole exploded dead thing, I don’t know anything about who killed me or how.  And I still haven’t been able to figure out who put the hit out on me in the first place.”

It hit Spider-Man like a sucker punch to the gut.  “Wait.  You were captured?!  H-how long were you held?”  He dreaded the answer but he had to know.  Had his selfishness condemned Deadpool to weeks, maybe even months of imprisonment?  All because he’d been so stubborn and hadn’t gone looking for Deadpool when he’d disappeared.  Because he acted irresponsibly, he’d failed Deadpool.

“Ah, it wasn’t all that long,” Deadpool replied lightly.  “A couple days.  A week at most.  It was no biggie--I was dead the whole time.”

“I’m so sorry!” Spider-Man burst out.  “It’s my fault!  I should’ve--!”

“Should have what?” Deadpool cut in, a rough edge to his already rough voice.  “There was nothing you could’ve done.  You didn’t capture me.  You weren’t even there when I’d got killed and captured because I’m pretty certain if you had been, you’d have done something about it.  I was captured by people hunting me, not you.”

His words did little to lessen the heavy weight of guilt that resided in the pit of Spider-Man’s stomach.

“Don’t worry so much about it, Spidey,” Deadpool continued, his tone softening. “I can’t die.  Not permanently at any rate.”

“That isn’t very reassuring,” Spider-Man mumbled.  “You still get hurt.”

Deadpool launched forward, sprawling belly-down onto the bed, his left arm flopping across Spider-Man’s torso.  

“I’ll always come back, Baby Boy.  Like a bad penny.  Or a boomerang.  Or Cher’s career.”  Deadpool pulled his arm slightly towards him, a hint of pressure on Spider-Man in a vaguely hug-like way.

Spider-Man smiled at that despite himself.  He let himself lean towards Deadpool which was great for all of a second before another stab of pain coursed through his body causing an involuntary shudder.

Deadpool immediately sat back up on his knees.  “Oh shit, forgot that you’re still injured.  Sorry about that.”

Rolling his eyes, Spider-Man grumbled, “Because being shot and having a building explode around me is an everyday thing.”

“It is for some of us,” Deadpool replied jokingly.

Spider-Man didn’t think it was a very funny joke.  “I know.  I’m sorry--”

“It really isn’t your fault!” Deadpool insisted.  “Besides, if Weasel and I haven’t had any luck for the last five months finding out anything about who put the hit on me, then I don’t see how you could’ve been able to do anything when you had no clue that any of that had happened.”

“Wait, Weasel?”

“Yeah, my buddy.  You met him back over the summer.  He was the guy that fixed up my Falcon wings.  When I realized I had a hit out on me, I looked him up and I’ve been using his place as headquarters as I’ve been bouncing all around the world following leads.”

So.  For the past five months, Deadpool had been hanging out with Weasel.  Deadpool had been in trouble, but rather than coming to him, he’d gone to Weasel for help.  Of course.  Why wouldn’t he?  Weasel was older, he called Deadpool ‘Wade’, and he knew all about Deadpool’s past. They had a lot more history together.  But still…

“Am I that unreliable?” Spider-Man whispered.  He hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but it slipped out.

“It’s not that!  Shit.  Oh fuck, I’m going to have to say it, aren’t I?” Deadpool flew off the bed and started pacing the floor as he cursed.  “Fuck, fuck fuck!”

Spider-Man looked in bewilderment at Deadpool.

“It’s just-- the reason I haven’t come back, why I didn’t try to find you… I screwed up.  I didn’t want to see you because I didn’t know how to face you.  I knew I'd let you down.”

Anxiety knotted in Spider-Man’s gut as Deadpool hesitated.

The moment stretched and broke as Deadpool finally blurted out, “I started killing again.”

Spider-Man went cold.  “What?” he whispered.

“Not the kill-for-pay gigs I used to do.  I’m not doing the assassination thing anymore,” Deadpool was quick to point out.  “And no civilians.  It was strictly people in the biz.  You know, the mercenaries who were hunting me.”

Spider-Man let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.  He was relieved that Deadpool wasn’t murdering innocents or working as an assassin again, but he didn’t like the idea of Deadpool killing anyone.  And the worst part was that it was all his fault.  He’d given up on Deadpool; turned his back on him when Deadpool needed his help the most.  Of course Deadpool had fallen back into his habits!  It was all his fault, he’d failed, and now Deadpool was killing again.  Spider-Man could taste the bile in the back of his throat.

“They made their choice.  I never killed someone who hadn’t tried to kill me first.” There was a desperation to Deadpool's voice.

“Who are you trying to convince?” Spiderman asked.  “Me or you?”

Deadpool paused and he seemed to really be considering how to answer the question as different expressions flickered across his masked face.  He looked puzzled, then thoughtful, switched to uncertain, and ended with a nod of his head in acceptance.

“Both,” he concluded.

Spider-Man shook his head.  “You’ll never convince me that it’s okay to kill, Deadpool.”

He was so tired and he hurt and he really didn’t want to deal with this right now.  It wasn’t like he hadn’t known that Deadpool was a killer.  He’d known that from the first day he’d met Deadpool.  But that had been so easy to sweep under the rug with a foolish little promise for Deadpool “not to kill anyone” in exchange for lessons on how to be a hero.  And really, what kind of hero could Spider-Man claim to be?  He’d been running, hiding, and ignoring his responsibilities whenever something upset him.

And that was it, wasn’t it?  He just wanted to be ignorant, to be able to pretend like he didn’t know that Deadpool was a killer.  And that wasn’t fair to Wade.

Spider-Man needed to face this.  What else could he do now, just push this conversation aside like all the other ones he’d refused to have with Deadpool?  To what end?  Running away had just left him worn down and hurt.  It wasn’t working.  He needed to have this conversation.  Now.  No more hiding.

He took a deep breath, then said, “You said you didn’t kill any civilians--that it was just the mercenaries who were trying to kill you.  I believe you.  I know soldiers are trained to kill, and you probably find it easy to fall back into that training in a life-or-death combat situation.  I understand why you did it, but I can’t condone those actions.  And the fact that you found it hard to face me indicates you know what you did was wrong.”

“You're gonna tell me to leave aren’t you?” Deadpool whined.

“Make you leave?” Spider-Man snorted.  “As you pointed out, I don't have use of either of my hands, so I’m not really in a good position to be kicking out the person who is taking care of me.”  There was a bite of bitterness to his voice that he couldn’t help.  He was mad at Deadpool for killing and for bringing it up now of all times.  He wasn’t in position to be kicking anyone out, least of all the one person who was there to help him.

“You girlfriend said she could take care of you if I couldn’t stay.  We'll give her a call and she’ll be right over,” Deadpool informed him.  He sounded reluctant, or was that just Spider-Man projecting his reluctance to have Deadpool leave?

“Would you even care to stay?” Spider-Man wondered aloud.  After all, Deadpool had left five months ago.  Okay, that wasn’t really fair-- Deadpool had been killed and captured-- but then he'd stayed away and hung out with Weasel and never bothered to contact him at all-- but it was his fault for not going to Deadpool’s place to find the letter-- and Deadpool was going to leave again and Spider-Man couldn’t bear the thought of Deadpool going away again--!

“Breathe, Spidey.  You gotta keep breathing…” Deadpool was beside him, hand lightly pressed comfortingly to Spider-Man’s chest.

Spider-Man took several deep breaths, calming himself and focusing his thoughts.  “Being a hero isn’t easy, Deadpool.  And it’s not just a one-and-done kind of deal.  It’s a constant process.  And when you fall, you pick yourself back up and try again.”

“So… I can stay?” Deadpool questioned, his tone bright with hope.

Considering this was the second time he'd hyperventilated at the idea of Deadpool leaving, Spider-Man was going to guess that maybe this was some sort of subtle suggestion on the part of his subconscious that he didn’t want Deadpool to go away.  All sarcasm aside, he really didn’t want to think about what that said about him.

“Clearly I have to let you stick around me to keep you on the path of being a hero.”

Spider-Man meant it as a joke, but Deadpool clearly didn’t take it as such; if it was possible to look affronted through a mask, Deadpool managed it.

He pulled away from Spider-Man and raged, “What?  You think you need to fucking protect me?  That you need to save me from myself?  I had enough of that bullshit from him, I don’t fucking need it from you, too!”

Spider-Man was stunned at the level of vitriol in Deadpool’s voice.  He wanted to know who the ‘him’ Deadpool mentioned was.  He wanted to explain that he'd just made a poorly timed joke.  But he only got a few stammered utterances out as Deadpool continued to rail over him.

You are not responsible for me! I am!  I don’t want to be something you just have to fucking put up with to prevent me from going all bad guy or some shit like that!  If that’s what you think about me than I’m fucking out of here!”

Spider-Man could do nothing but watch as Deadpool aggressively grabbed his belts from the floor by the dresser, grabbed his swords from the back of the chair, then stormed out of sight towards the hotel room door.  He heard the door open, and after a pause, slam shut.

His chest ached, his field of vision narrowed, and Spider-Man felt the world dance and dip out from under him.  There was nothing to hold on to and his body refused to move in answer to his commands.  His breath hitched in uneven gasps. No! He couldn’t afford to let himself fall to pieces again.  He had to move, to get up, to stop Deadpool.

He lurched painfully to his feet and managed one step before his body collapsed downward.  He refused to let himself fall.  With darkening sight, no sense of balance, or any clear idea of what he was doing, he dragged himself a few more steps.  He slumped forward and yelped in pain as his injured shoulder impacted the wall.  Stars danced in the blackness and he had just enough awareness to know that he was going down, despite his best efforts.

“Oh, shit, Baby!”

Powerful arms caught him and swept him off his feet.

“Deadpool?” Spider-Man questioned dumbly as his vision returned.  “But--but you left?”

“I got to the door when I realized that I was being a dumbfuck.  Okay it was pointed out to me that I was a dumbfuck.  You’re hurt, doped up on meds, unable to use either of your arms, and you have more of a legitimate reason to be pissed off at me than the other way around.  And so maybe I shouldn’t flounce away when you still need some help.  And clearly I was right because your first action out of bed was to attempt a nose dive into the floor.”

“I don’t want you to leave,” Spider-Man admitted.

“You know, I was just starting to pick up on that.”  Deadpool placed him back onto the bed.  He pulled the blankets up and carefully tucked them around Spider-Man.  “I’m sorry for scaring you into thinking you were going to be left alone like this.  I can stick around at least until your girlfriend can get here.”

Spider-Man shook his head.  He had to say it, he had to be honest, or Deadpool was going to leave again.

“I was going to tell you to leave.  Five months ago,” Spider-Man admitted.  “And that would have been the biggest mistake of my life.  I hated it when you were gone.  I don’t want you to leave again.”

“So... You want me to stay?”  Deadpool's tone tilted up, turning his statement into a question like he couldn’t believe the words he was hearing.

Spider-Man was just as surprised by this conclusion as Deadpool was.  

*********************************

“Yes,” Spider-Man stated.  “Yes, I want you to stay.  But...”

‘But’?  That’s never a good word.

He does have such a good butt though.

Quiet, he’s about to let us down.

Oh good, I love when our heart gets broken.

“But I can’t be around you if you’re going to be killing.  So whether you stay or go is up to you.”

Is he doing the whole ‘who do you love more, me or your work’ thing?

It kinda sounds like that.

It did.

“So you’re asking me to choose between killing and you?” Deadpool questioned.

Spider-Man tensed and stammered out a denial.  “That’s not what I meant!  Just… between being a hero or not.  If you still want to be a hero.”

Spidey was so adorable when he got all flustered.  He wanted to gobble him up!

He wants us to promise not to kill again.

Boring.  There’s no way we’re going to give up killing.

There’s no way we can keep a promise like that.

We certainly didn’t the last time we made that promise to him.

“Can I have an exception to that rule?  No killing unless it's in defense of you or my life.  Because I don’t think I could promise never to kill again if it meant I couldn’t protect you.”

Spider-Man hesitated, then countered by saying, “Only as last resort, if nothing else can be done to save me or yourself.”

“Agreed, but we gotta talk about your tendency to put yourself between me and people pointing guns at me.  There are a lot of people who want to point guns at me, Spidey, but they can’t kill me.  They could kill you.”

“Yeah, but… It still hurts, doesn’t it?  Getting shot.”

He… he is seriously more concerned about our pain than his death!

Propose to him.  Now.

“Marry me, Baby!”

Spider-Man's mouth opened and closed wordlessly under his mask before he managed to stammer out, “D-Deadpool!”

He really is adorable when flustered.

“Kidding, kidding.  Mostly.  Kidding again!”

“A-anyway, no killing unless it's the last resort to save your life or mine.  That’s the agreement, right?”

“Got it!”

I do!

He may now kiss the bride?

If only!  But it looked like his hero was falling back to sleep.  Spidey had slumped back onto the pillows and his breath was slow and even.

“Goodnight, Baby,” he whispered as he carefully tucked the edges of the comforter snug around Spider-Man’s shoulders.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26: Discovery Channel

Spider-Man woke up again sometime later.  It took him a moment to recognize where he was.  Right.  A hotel room, with Deadpool.  If Deadpool was still around.  He was.  Probably.  At least, he could hear someone moving about in the other room.  He heard a clatter of activity, but he couldn’t tell from the sounds what Deadpool was up to and was more than a little afraid to find out.  He started to sit up, but found the process rather challenging with one arm pinned to his body and the other hand in a cast.  The lack of usable hands was incredibly awkward.

“You awake again?” Deadpool called from the other room.  “I’ll be right there.  Aw fuck, it’s gotten cold.  Yes, I know I can microwave it.  What do you think I'm doing?”

A short while later, Deadpool came in carrying a tray laden with a large steaming bowl and a cup filled with dark purplish liquid.  He set the tray down on the desk across the room then stepped over to the bed.  He pulled the blankets back and slid his hands under Spider-Man, lifting him up as if he weighed no more than a child.  Admittedly, Spider-Man had lost a bit of weight recently, but he still weighed more than he looked like he did.  Ever since his spider mutation, he was pretty dense.

“You do know that it’s just my arms that are broken and that I don’t actually walk on my hands,” Spider-Man noted dryly.  And in case that wasn’t clear enough he added, “My legs are fine, I can walk by myself.”  He actually wasn’t entirely sure on that point, not after his last failed attempt to stand, but he felt he had to say something with Deadpool carrying him bridal-style across the room.

“You’ve lost a lot of blood, you just about passed out last time you tried standing, and…” Deadpool trailed off in his explanation.

After a long beat of silence, Spider-Man prompted, “And…?”

“And here you are,” Deadpool announced as he lowered Spider-Man onto the chair.

“You were saying something just now,” Spider-Man persisted.

“Was I?” Deadpool questioned.  “Oh, right!  The soup!  So I made you this chicken and rice soup, with carrots, celery, onions, and rice.  Pretty basic soup type stuff, right?”

Spider-Man grimaced slightly at mention of onions--he HATED onions--but he was glad his mask hid the expression.  Deadpool had gone out of his way to make him some soup--okay, so he probably just poured it out of a can, but still--Deadpool had gone out of his way to make him some soup, so he would eat it without complaining about the onions infecting it with their vile flavor.

“I figured soup because everyone loves soup, right?  It’s supposed to be warming and homey, right?  And anyway, you need extra fluids for a while on account of your blood loss.  Oh, and I kept it rather bland, just boiled chicken without much seasoning, because I figured that would be better for your tummy right now.  That and I was rather limited in what I could do with just the hotel kitchenette.”

Huh.  So maybe Deadpool had actually made the soup himself.  If Spider-Man had any appetite before, he certainly didn’t now.  Deadpool’s home cooking AND onions?  Ugh.  Oh well, he’d eat a few bites to be polite and then beg off.  

He started to reach for the spoon with his dominant hand, but paused when it occurred to him that he might have a problem holding the spoon with a broken hand.  But he didn’t much like the idea of using his left arm either, considering how much his shoulder ached already.

“Don’t worry about it, Spidey.  I’ll be your hands!” Deadpool proclaimed.

Spider-Man cocked an eyebrow.  “What?” he questioned.

“I’ll help you.  Whatever you need to do with your hands, just tell me and I’ll do it for you!” Deadpool reiterated.

“Yeah, no.  That is so not happening.”

“Sorry, Spidey, but doctor’s orders.  You’re not to use either hand for the next few days to give them a chance to heal.  Your shoulder needs to stay still or you’ll reopen your wound and your right hand needs a chance to set.  So while you’re recovering, I’ll be your hands!” Deadpool cheerfully concluded.

Spider-Man blanched at how enthusiastic Deadpool was about this prospect.  It was hard enough to contemplate going through the next couple of days without use of either of his hands, but for Deadpool of all people to be taking care of him… He must really seem like just a child to Deadpool.

Still, maybe Deadpool would lose some of his enthusiasm for being his hands when the reality of what that all entailed set in.   He'd probably drop the whole thing in a few hours when some new idea came into his head.  Rather than start an argument now that he didn’t have the energy to fight, Spider-Man could put up with it until Deadpool forgot all about it.

“Just don’t you dare do the ‘here comes the airplane’ routine with me,” Spider-Man warned.

“The thought never once crossed my mind!” Deadpool protested. “Okay, yes, it did cross my mind because what doesn't?  But I wasn't actually going to do it!  ‘Daddy’ isn’t one my kinks.”

Spider-Man didn’t quite know what a ‘daddy’ kink entailed but he didn’t like the sound of it.

Deadpool brought his hands up along either side of Spider-Man’s face.  “I’m going to lift up your mask just enough so you can eat, alright?”

After a moment where Deadpool made no further movement, Spider-Man realized that he was waiting for some sort of response.  “Yeah, that’s fine,” Spider-Man consented.  “But if it goes a millimeter too far, you’ll see that even with my hands in this state, I am still quite capable of literally booting your head.”

“I would never out a fellow masked superhero!” Deadpool sounded affronted.  “That’s against the code!”

“Code?”

“The Super Bro Code!” Deadpool exclaimed, as if that were an explanation.

“You have a code?” Spider-Man asked doubtfully.

Deadpool nodded enthusiastically.  “From Super Friends Super Hour!”

He actually watched that stupid show?  Spider-Man sighed.  He wanted this whole humiliation to be over with.  “Just get on with it,” he said impatiently.

Deadpool eased the mask away from his mouth, his hands softly sliding up Spider-Man’s cheeks.  Despite the overly warm room, Spider-Man shivered.  It felt too intimate.

But while Spider-Man was trying not to freak out, Deadpool had moved on, oblivious to Spider-Man’s discomfort.  Deadpool spooned up some of soup and blew on it.  Of course his mask was still completely covering his mouth, so Spider-Man doubted that accomplished anything.  But then again, his tongue wasn’t scalded with the first bite.

The soup was warm and not too offensive to his taste buds considering the flavor of onions contaminated it, so Spider-Man let Deadpool feed him another spoonful.  Before he knew it, he’d finished the bowl to the point where Deadpool had to tip it to get the last few drops onto the spoon.

Putting the bowl down, Deadpool spun around and, with a flourish, presented the medication Moesha had given them: giant horse-pill antibiotics to prevent infection and some heavy-duty pain meds.

“And to compliment your dessert this evening, may I present our finest bottle?  Concord, sell-by-date March 3rd,” Deadpool said with an outrageous French accent as he presented Spider-Man with a sippy cup filled with grape juice.

“Are you kidding me?” Spider-Man asked, aghast at the sippy cup.  “I thought you said you didn’t have a ‘daddy’ kink’!”

“I don’t!” Deadpool insisted.  “I have absolutely no sexual interest in any of this at all.”

Spider-Man went crimson. “T.M.I.!”

“You asked, well, okay, no you didn’t, but my honor is being besmirched and I will not stand for this bismirchment!”

“YOU’RE the one handing me a sippy cup!”

“But how else will I hydrate you without accidentally water-boarding you?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Spider-Man snapped back.  “How about with a straw and any other beverage container imaginable!”

“Oh yeah. I suppose that would have worked.” Deadpool shrugged.  “I’ll do that next time, but you’re stuck with the sippy cup for now.”

Spider-Man rolled his eyes but grudgingly let Deadpool raise the cup up to his lips.  He alternated between taking one of the pills and drinking the juice until he’d practically ingested an entire pharmacy along with the contents of the cup.

“All done?” Deadpool asked cheerfully.  He held the cup up to his ear as he shook it.

Spider-Man glowered.

With a shrug, Deadpool set about stripping the bed.  He shoved the dirty sheets into a large garbage bag which he then tossed down the hall towards the entryway.  He pulled out some clean sheets and tucked them around the bed with perfect squared corners, with a casual ease that reminded Spider-Man again of Deadpool's military background.

Once the bed was made, Deadpool turned back towards Spider-Man.  “Well, let’s get you to the bath and cleaned up.”

“Wait, what?!”

“Before setting you back into the freshly made bed with those nice, clean sheets, we should wash off all that dried blood and dirt,” Deadpool answered as if it should be obvious and reasonable.

But Deadpool giving him a bath was not at all ‘reasonable’.

“No way!” Spider-Man exclaimed forcefully.  “There’s no way I’m going to let you bathe me!”

“You’re not in any condition to bathe yourself,” Deadpool pointed out.  “And as it was kinda my fault for getting you blown up, I’m going to take care of you until you’re better again.”

Spider-Man glared suspiciously at Deadpool.  “This is sounding like that ‘Daddy kink’ thing again.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake!” Deadpool growled out.  “Look, I have no interested in kids or treating someone that I’m into for sexy fun times like a kid.  Not my kink.  But you really need to get cleaned up.  The biggest risk for you right now is infection.  You were pretty much already out of it by the time we got to the room, and you fell back asleep before I could even feed you last time, or we’d have done this sooner.  It needs to be done and you can’t do it yourself.  Since I promised to be your hands until you recover... Scout’s honor, I’ll keep it strictly professional,” Deadpool insisted.

Spider-Man wasn’t reassured.  “There's no way you were a Boy Scout.  You’re Canadian,” he pointed out.

“Okay, maybe I wasn’t a Boy Scout, but I had a friend who was.  That’s beside the point!  Anyway, I know that getting a bath by a guy like me ain't high on anybody’s bucket list, but you need to get cleaned up or risk infection.”

Spider-Man reluctantly let Deadpool walk him into the bathroom.

“I won’t touch your mask,” Deadpool promised, setting Spider-Man down on the cool tile floor, then kneeling in front of him.

As Deadpool started to roll Spider-Man's pants down, he added, “Don't worry.  If it’ll make you feel more comfortable, you can still keep on--you’re not wearing any underpants.”

Spider-Man’s face burned. He tried to hide his mortification by explaining simply, “I chafe.”

“Well, ah,” Deadpool stuttered, which really didn’t help with how uncomfortable this was for Spider-Man, but before things got any more awkward, Deadpool continued as if nothing was weird, “You should probably sit down on the edge of the tub so I can get your pants off.”

Spider-Man sat down quickly and used his momentum to hunch down, covering his crotch by folding his arm over his lap.

Deadpool balled up Spider-Man’s pants and tossed them into the sink.

“Careful with those.  They’re a Spider-Man original and I’ve only got the one pair here.”

“I’ll take care of them for you later.  For now, let’s get you into the tub.”  As Deadpool eased Spider-Man into the tub, he explained, “I only filled it halfway, because you can’t get your shoulder wet.  But I figured even a half bath would feel pretty good.”

The water was a little too hot but Spider-Man would get used to it soon enough.  Deadpool dipped a big, foamy sponge into the bath to wet it, then he squirted some baby body wash onto it.

Deadpool gingerly removed the wrapping on Spider-Man's shoulder, giving Spider-Man his first look at the damage there.  He winced.

“Yeah, those are never any fun, even when you can heal from them,” Deadpool commiserated.

Deadpool started with Spider-Man’s arms, carefully working around his cast from the right arm and the shoulder wound on the left one.  

“Your gloves…” Spider-Man noted.  Deadpool hadn’t removed them.

“Gotta protect my manicure,” Deadpool replied as his only explanation.

“You don’t want to show off those French tips?” Spider-Man quipped back.

“Mes doigts sont toujours impec’ bébé. Et mon petit doigt me dit que le petit doigt de quelqu'un va attraper froid vu que monsieur lui a enlevé son col roulé, heureusement que Deadpool, sauveteur de l'extrême, sauve une fois de plus tout le monde en ayant préparé un bain bien chaud.” *

“You speak French?” Spider-Man marveled.

“Oui.  Y español.  Und Deutsch.  Nihongo mo,” Deadpool rattled off as he began washing Spider-Man’s back.

“Wow.  I learned some Spanish in school but I was never very good at it,” Spider-Man confessed.  

He knew that Deadpool was older and had more worldly experience, but he was also a high school dropout who never went to college and usually acted like an idiot.  It was easy to overlook the fact that Deadpool was actually very intelligent.  The more he found out about Wade, the more he wanted to know.

Spider-Man’s breath hitched for a second as Deadpool got to the small of his back, but thankfully Deadpool didn’t bring his hands any lower.

With his upper body mostly washed, Deadpool turned his attention to Spider-Man’s injured shoulder.  He gently dabbed the sponge around the wound.  It was slow going--dab dab, rinse, dab dab, rinse-- but it didn’t hurt.  It was shocking to Spider-Man; he’d have thought that Deadpool would get impatient with the procedure and before too long he’d resort to scrubbing.  He didn’t expect Deadpool to have such discipline and gentleness.

This wasn’t the first time Spider-Man had required someone else’s help to bathe him.  Just this past summer, when he and Deadpool had gotten caught in the explosion at the drug dealer’s apartment, Moesha had washed his scraped up back.  Moesha had been gentle in her ministrations, but Deadpool was even more so.  Spider-Man felt almost… cherished.

By the time Deadpool had finished with his top half, the bath he was sitting in was chilled to lukewarm and the once clear water was now opaque.

Deadpool sat a towel on the edge of the tub.  “I’m gonna have you sit up here so I can get your legs without you having to lift them up and risk slipping and hurting yourself or getting your shoulder wet.”

“And the water’s getting gross,” Spider-Man added.

“That too,” Deadpool agreed.

Spider-Man let Deadpool haul him out of the tub and set him onto the towel.

“You can lean against me if you need help keeping your balance,” Deadpool suggested.

“I'll get you all wet,” Spider-Man murmured in protest.

“That's what she sa-- never mind,” Deadpool cut himself off before he completed the off-color joke.  “Anyway, don't worry about it; I won't melt.  Because I'm not a witch.”

Deadpool’s arms enveloped him as he reached around and Spider-Man found himself pressed against Deadpool’s chest.  This close, he was surrounded with the scent of Deadpool.  Thankfully, instead of the general unwashed funk he usually stank with, Deadpool smelled fresh with a hint of his natural musk.  This was getting much too intimate again, and yet Spider-Man found himself leaning in more as he breathed in deeply.  

As he meticulously worked, Deadpool hummed some nameless tune that Spider-Man felt through the vibrations more than he heard.  He could feel Deadpool’s pectoral muscles shift against his back as Deadpool washed up and down his leg, with each pass his hand going higher up Spider-Man’s thighs.

Spider-Man bit his lip and thanked every god he could name that he didn’t have any blood to spare, because if he was even the slightest bit healthier, right now he’d be as hard as a rock.

He tried to shut it out of his mind but Deadpool was filling all of his senses, all of his thoughts.  And it wasn’t enough; he wanted more.

He leaned his head back, resting it on Deadpool's shoulder.  His hips pushed forward and let his thighs fall open.  It was the most invitation he’d allow himself to make.  It was crazy-- he didn’t know what was wrong with him.  He ached to feel Deadpool’s hands, without the distance of his gloves or the sponge, just skin on skin contact as Deadpool trailed his hands up along Spider-Man’s thighs...

“I know, Spidey, but try to stay awake.  We’re almost done here and then you can go back to bed.”

Mortified, Spider-Man straightened, drawing his legs closed again.  Clearly one’s dick could do the thinking even when it wasn’t hard.  Thank goodness Deadpool hadn’t noticed.

But the relief turned to a sense of dissatisfaction as Deadpool finished washing him, oblivious to Spider-Man’s desire.  Spider-Man felt disappointed that Deadpool obviously had so little interest in him as to misconstrue his attempt at seduction.  And oh fuck, had he really just tried to seduce Deadpool?  What the hell was wrong with him?

He let Deadpool pat him dry and redress his shoulder with clean bandages before he spoke up, muttering a touch resentfully, “It was a waste to wash my legs when I am just going to put on my dirty pants again.”

“That’s why you’re not going to wear those again until I can wash them for you,” Deadpool replied.

Spider-Man felt his stomach drop.  He didn’t know which was worse… that his first thought was that he could use his nudity to entice Deadpool, or that he was pretty sure that Deadpool would be as unaffected by his continued nudity as he was with the bathing.

It was a moot point; Deadpool wrapped a short cotton robe around him.

“We’ll need to get you new clothes at some point, but this’ll be easier on you for the time being.  So he can just sit on the toilet or bidet without needing someone to come and pull his pants down, of course,” Deadpool explained as he shifted his conversation to whatever voice was in his head.

Could this night get any worse?  He had just tried to seduce Deadpool and Deadpool was treating him just like a child.  And Deadpool had made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t interested in children, so it led to reason that he had zero interest in Spider-Man, someone who was at least ten years younger than Deadpool, if not more.

It was almost a relief when Deadpool brought him back to the bed.  He’d just go back to sleep and forget this whole mess had ever happened.

*********************************************

“So… Do you wanna date?” Deadpool asked.

Spider-Man shrugged.  “I don’t really care either way.”

“Spidey!  This is too important to shrug off!  I don’t want to be making any decisions if your heart’s not in it!  This decision is going to impact you for the rest of your life!”

“Rest of my life?” Spider-Man snorted.  “Try two hours, tops.”

“I’m hurt,” Deadpool stated with an exaggerated pout.  “That you’d think I’d play some cheap knock-off game.  I’ll have you know that this is one of those twenty-hours-of-game-play-with-full-animation-cutscene games!  Now, do you wanna date the lovely childhood friend, Rina, or not?”

Spider-Man sighed.  After spending the last few days binging on T.V. shows and movies, when Deadpool had decided they should play video games, Spider-Man readily agreed.  He just hadn’t expected a Japanese dating sim.  “I’m sorry, Deadpool, but it’s hard to take anything about this game seriously when you named the main character ‘Spideypool’.”

“Well, what else could I name a character that is the representative for the two of us?  You’re Spidey and I’m ‘Pool and together we make Spideypool!”

Spider-Man rolled his eyes.  He knew Deadpool wouldn’t see the expression, but it made him feel better regardless.

“Well, clearly the childhood friend type doesn’t do it for you,” Deadpool concluded.  “I knew we should have pursued the sexy double-d Kimiko!  Who doesn’t love anime melon boobs?”

“Seriously, I don’t care.  Pick whoever.”

Deadpool paused the game and frowned.  “Come on, Spidey.  It’s more fun if we play together!  If neither Rina or Kimiko interests you, which of the other girls do?  What’s your type?”

“I don’t have a type,” Spider-Man replied stubbornly.

“Well, what’s your girlfriend like then?”

That confused him.  “My girlfriend?  I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“That gal who called a couple nights ago to check in on you.  The one in your phone contacts as ‘K’,” Deadpool prompted.

“Krissi?” Spider-Man asked incredulously.  “Krissi’s not my girlfriend.  She’s my--” friend.  “--S.H.I.E.L.D. handler.”

“S.H.I.E.L.D. handler?  You joined S.H.I.E.L.D.?”

Spider-Man shook his head.  “No, but they like to keep tabs on powered people, so they have someone assigned to me.  In general, as long as I’m doing the hero thing, they’ve been fine letting me do as I please,” he explained.

“So… you don’t have a girlfriend?” Deadpool asked for confirmation.

Spider-Man shook his head.

“Boyfriend?”

Spider-Man gave Deadpool a flat look.  His expression couldn’t be seen due to his mask, but his posture must have conveyed his annoyance.

“Kidding!  Just kidding!” Deadpool quickly amended.

“I’m a superhero.  I don’t have time to date,” Spider-Man proclaimed testily.  It was more that he couldn’t seem to meet anyone as Peter and when he did, he just messed everything up anyway. Besides, even with a secret identity, he’d put anyone he dated at risk.  There just wasn’t anyone he didn’t need to worry about protecting.

“Fine, I get the point.  You’re not interested in dating.”  Deadpool exaggeratedly pouted as he got up and turned the game off.  “What else do you want to do?”

“I keep thinking about your head…”

“Re-e-eally?” Deadpool sing-songed, his brows waggling comically under his mask.

Spider-Man went crimson.  On one hand, he was glad that Deadpool was back to his play-flirting.  On the other hand, the joke hit way too close to the truth for Spider-Man’s comfort.  “I meant your severed head,” he clarified.

Deadpool hissed and covered himself protectively.

Spider-Man rolled his eyes.  “I meant the one you said you gave to Weasel.  The one with the devices imbedded into it.”

“That’s not as much fun to think about.”

“No, but it is important.”  Spider-Man stood up and paced.  “You described the man as ‘almost robotic’ when you fought.”

“Yeah,” Deadpool confirmed.

“A drug that makes the people around obey the user’s commands.  Sleepwalkers who wander the streets with either no clue what was going on or they have some awareness but feel as if someone else is operating their bodies.  A robotic-like soldier with some sort of computer device embedded in his head.  All of these things seem to have ‘mind-control’ at the heart of it.  If true, it’s too much to be coincidence.”

“You think they’re all connected?” Deadpool asked.

Spider-Man shrugged.  “I could be wrong.  The drug and the sleepwalking definitely have some connection with the alien element found in both of them, but I have to run some more tests.  I’d like you to show me your head.

“Re-e-eally?” Deadpool repeated, waggling his brows again.

Spider-Man’s blush returned.  “Stop fooling around,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Fooling around is exactly what we should be doing right now!” Deadpool proclaimed.

Spider-Man’s jaw dropped open and he whipped his head around to look at Deadpool.

“You shouldn’t be working!  You’re injured and you’re supposed to be resting and recovering, not working,” Deadpool continued.

Right.  Deadpool meant ‘fooling around’ as in ‘playing’.  Not… the other type of ‘fooling around’.  He might not have done any of the later, but he had done plenty of the former since he had gotten hurt.

“I’ve done nothing but rest for days!” Spider-Man proclaimed.

“No way.  You made me tell you everything that happened to me in the last five months in excruciating detail and have been going over and over the stuff you found out about that drug and sleepwalking stuff.  You’re working overtime.”

“I can’t just sit around and do nothing,” Spider-Man insisted.

“You’re not doing nothing.  We got Weasel looking into that A.V.E. project of yours.  And you said yourself it would be better to know more about Dr. Wilkins and his project before you investigate that Dr. Cori lady.  And unless you want me to investigate her office on my own…”

Spider-Man vehemently shook his head.

“--Then for now you have to rest up so you’re ready to act when Weasel gets back to us with more intel.”

Deadpool was right, but that didn’t mean Spider-Man had to like it.  Still, he walked over to the bed and flopped back onto it, careful of his shoulder.  “Fine.”

“Look, why I don’t I go out to get stuff to make dinner with, and while I’m out I’ll pick up something else for us to play since you didn’t like Summer Jewel Love.”

“Remember I only have half a hand right now, so I still can't play any action games.”

“I got it.”  Deadpool tossed the remote control over to Spider-Man on his way over to the coat closet.  “Here, this should keep you entertained while I’m away.”

Spider-Man clicked on the television and changed the input to cable rather than the Playstation.  He flipped past the various sports games and news stations.  His eyes kept glancing towards the other side of the room where Deadpool was pulling on his winter coat, scarf, and hat.

When he had completely covered up his Deadpool suit, Deadpool gave a little wave.  “I’ll be back in like two or so hours.  Have fun!  The porn is on channel 51 and it’s complementary to the room!”

“I’m not watching porn!” Spider-Man yelled at Deadpool’s retreating back.

He flipped through the channels, settling on the tail end of a Mythbusters episode.  When it ended, it was replaced with a monster hunting show that drove Spider-Man’s scientific mind crazy.  He continued to change channels, finding nothing of interest between the sports, infomercials, and news.

“Well, what do you know-- Deadpool was right,” Spider-Man muttered to himself as he reached channel 51.  There wasn’t anything else worth watching, he excused himself as he lingered on the channel.

A woman was on her knees blowing a man in front of her.  She was positioned in such a way that most of her front was visible, while only half the guy’s ass and leg could be seen on the right side of the screen.  She used one hand to tease her balloon breasts in a way that was probably supposed to be arousing but it just seemed fake and repulsive to Spider-Man.  His attention kept going to her other hand that was running up and down the man’s thigh.

With the way the camera was angled, and with as little focus on the man as there was, Spider-Man knew he was supposed to be imagining he was the guy fucking the woman’s face, not the woman blowing the guy.  And yet he kept picturing himself as the one on his knees, running his hands up those fabulous thighs.  His thighs.  Wade’s thighs.

No.  No, no, no, no, no!

Spider-Man quickly changed the channel but that wasn’t enough.  He turned the television off and threw the remote across the room so he wouldn’t be tempted to change the channel back.

He kept hearing the man’s orgasmic groans in his head, and it mixed with the sound of Wade’s gravely voice.  He hadn’t had any other sort of action of late, so of course his mind would drift back to the closest thing to some action he'd had in months: that stupid bath with Deadpool.  Of course he’d think about Deadpool’s tight muscles shifting against his back as his hands caressed up and down Spider-Man’s thighs and Spider-Man brought his own hand along his leg echoing Wade’s hand in his imagination.

He was already rock hard when he brought his own hand--Wade’s hand, his imagination insisted--to his dick.  He let himself thrust into his hand and his shoulder protested the action with a sharp pain that sent stars across his vision.

Okay, so that was a huge mistake, but oh fuck he was so hard.  He couldn’t jerk himself off with either hand like this.  He should just ignore it, and his body would settle down eventually.

...Or he could position the pillows and blankets around himself in such a way so he wasn’t uncomfortable and he could jerk himself off with minimal pressure to his hand and shoulder.

Yeah, that seemed like the better option.

**************************************

Deadpool had gotten about half a block away from the hotel when he heard his phone ring.  The caller i.d. read Weasel.  He swiped the phone on.

“It’s moving,” Weasel said in lieu of any greeting.

“What’s moving?”

“Your arm.  The one with the tracking device. It’s moving,” Weasel explained.

Fuck!  Seriously?

It had been five days already.  Deadpool had pretty much given up on that plot.

That doesn’t mean the trap worked.

“Good point.  It could just be the NYPD finding it as they clean up the rubble,” Deadpool noted.

“No, it’s already left the city, heading west,” Weasel answered.

This could be our chance to find out who put the hit out on us.

“Alright, Weaz, give me the coordinates.  I’ll be there soon.”

He hated to leave when Spider-Man wasn’t fully recovered, but this was too important a chance to wait.  Besides, Spider-Man still had that S.H.I.E.L.D. friend of his who said she’d watch him if Deadpool couldn’t anymore.  Deadpool dashed back to the hotel.

************************************

Deadpool waved the key card in front of the door and let himself in.  He shrugged out of his hat, scarf, and coat, and dropped them on the floor.

“Wade!” he heard Spider-Man cry out from the other room.

“Yeah, it’s just me.  So, it looks like--” he started.

“No, wait!” Spider-Man exclaimed desperately just as Deadpool turned the corner and entered the main room.

Spider-Man was in a tangle of pillows and blankets.  His mask was raised up over his nose and his robe was splayed open.  He was also very obviously in the middle of jerking himself off.

“Uh,” Deadpool uttered.  His mind was a complete blank and even the voices had gone silent in shock.

“Y-you were supposed to be gone for a while,” Spider-Man muttered after a very pregnant pause.  His whole body was burning crimson.  He struggled to untangle himself from the nest of blankets or to find some means of covering himself.

Oh my god, we just caught Spider-Man masturbating.

We also just learned that when he blushes, his whole body goes red.

Look at him, all splayed out on the bed for us.

I want to lick every inch of that body.

Oh yeah.

Join in.

He’s still injured.  He shouldn’t be using his hands.

Yeah, offer to be his hands.

Keep cool.  Just a friendly offer to help.

That’s what bros do, right?

Just don’t freak him out!

********************************************

If he could crawl into a little hole and never leave, Spider-Man would do so in a heartbeat.  For the moment, Deadpool was just standing there, but any moment Spider-Man expected him to tease him about this.  He was never going to hear the end it.  And did Deadpool notice him calling out his name?  How could he possibly explain that?

He’d at least gotten his robe covering him, but it did little to hide his very obvious erection, and he was still tangled amongst the blankets and pillows in an extremely compromising way.

“You’re young and boners happen, but you really shouldn’t be using your hand like that; you’re aggravating your shoulder and that’ll slow the healing,” Deadpool said.

Spider-Man nodded glumly.  Somehow, this was even worse than Deadpool mocking him: Deadpool being reasonable and adult.

“Besides, if you needed some release, you should have just said something and I could've taken care of that for you.”

Spider-Man’s jaw dropped open.  Was Deadpool seriously offering to…? No, that couldn’t be it.

“I said I’d be your hands until you got better.  It’s not a big deal.  We’re bros, right?  Bros help each other out.”

“Wait.  Are you offering…?”  He trailed off, uncertainly.  Deadpool was just pulling his leg, right?  Any second he’d burst out laughing that Spider-Man had taken any of this seriously.

Deadpool shrugged.  “I realize it wouldn’t be your first choice, but we can’t exactly get a prostitute here right now while we’re still trying to hide out.  The rumors will be over the city by dawn.”

This was a mistake, but the thought of Wade touching him, for real touching him…

“Yes,” Spider-Man said, a touch breathlessly.

“--So it’s possible they’d just think you were a kinkster, we probably shouldn’t, wait, what?” Deadpool stumbled off his tangent on the prostitute rumor mill.

“Yes,” Spider-Man repeated.  He was mortified, terrified, and excited in equal parts. “I could use a hand, um, if you were serious, and oh god, you weren’t, were you?  And this night just got even more humiliating…”

**********************************

“Relax, Baby,” Deadpool said as he moved over to the bed.  “I got you.  Trust me, if I had a nickel for every time I had an inconvenient boner and no hands attached to scratch the itch myself…”

We’d have a whole lotta nickels.

You do realize that’s rather disgusting, don’t you?

Deadpool sat down beside Spider-Man.  “Shall I…?”

“Yes,” Spider-Man agreed, but he had his head turned away from Deadpool.

Easier to pretend it’s someone else’s hand that way.

There’s no mistaking our stink.

Yeesh, had he realized he was going to get to touch Spidey’s junk, he’d have taken a shower that morning.  Oh well, hopefully he didn’t disgust Spider-Man too much.

Well, that would be one way to take care of his hard-on.

He asked us to touch him, let’s get to touching him already!

Deadpool reached over to Spider-Man, shifted his robe out of the way, and began to fondle his dick.  His initial touches were gentle, more exploratory than anything else, but soon he began stroking in earnest.

“Wade, your glove… ah… the texture is a bit, um,  rough on me…”

He is not going to want to see--

--or feel--

--What’s under that glove.

“Sorry, Baby, but trust me the hand under it won’t be any better.”

“Oh,” Spider-Man said sounding disappointed.

No, don't disappoint him or he won't want us to continue touching him!

“If the glove is too rough for you, I could always use my mouth--” Deadpool started to suggest.

“Yes!” Spider-Man cut in before Deadpool could even finish the word.

The quickness and enthusiasm of Spider-Man’s answer threw Deadpool and he faltered.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Spider-Man said in a small voice.  “Was that offer just a joke, or were you serious?”

He wants us to blow him.

Oh fuck is this like a dozen fantasies come true.

“I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t serious,” Deadpool assured him.  “Gotta feel better than a ragged glove, and a mouth is a mouth, right, Spidey?”

“Y-yeah.”

Deadpool rolled his mask up over his mouth.  In general, giving blow jobs weren’t his favorite thing since it kept his mouth too busy to talk, but he’d do anything if Spidey asked him to do it.  He licked his lips and went for it, enveloping Spider-Man’s dick with his mouth.  His lack of gag reflex allowed him to fully go down on him and so he did.

“Oh my god!” Spider-Man cried out.

Seems he likes that.

Oh yeah.

Deadpool bobbed his head, pulling himself almost entirely off Spider-Man, licking around his tip, before swallowing him down again and again.  Blow jobs were quickly becoming his new favorite thing if they were all like this: watching Spider-Man fall to pieces under him.

This might actually be as much fun as getting one ourselves.

When did we last have one?

We’re giving Spider-Man head right now, let’s not bring out that tragic fact.

Eeesh, it must have been a long time ago if even you don’t want to talk about it.

The narrative boxes were just blurs in his head right now; fading to white (and yellow)  noise as he enthusiastically sucked Spider-Man off.

“Wade, stop!” Spider-Man cried out.

Deadpool immediately stopped.  “What’s wrong?” he asked as he moved back up onto his knees.  Shit, what had he done wrong?

Maybe he finally realized that it was us giving him that blowjob.

Spider-Man didn’t say anything.  He was shaking and his breath was coming out in ragged gasps.

Looks like that was a bit much for him.

It did.  “Sorry, that got a bit too intense for you, didn’t it?” Deadpool noted.

Spider-Man nodded.

What kind of crappy sex has he been having before this that a sloppy blowjob from us could be that intense for him?

He still hasn’t come yet, either.

Good point.  “If that was too much, do you want me to use my hand to finish you off or would you rather stop all together?”

Spider-Man hesitated, then blurted, “If you could, please, without your glove…”

“No problem,” Deadpool replied, though the very idea freaked him out.

Don’t say we didn’t warn him.

Deadpool slipped the gloves off.  Hesitantly he reached over.  He hadn’t needed to worry.  Spider-Man came almost at once with just the first touch of his hand on him.  Deadpool stroked him through the orgasm.

*************************************

Spider-Man lay on the bed feeling boneless as Wade got up.  He had no idea what Wade was doing until he came back with a damp cloth which he used to wipe Spider-Man down.

He cracked open an eye and looked over at Wade so he could thank him when he caught sight of the bulge in Wade’s pants.

“Wade, you--”

“Don’t worry about it,” Wade cut him off.  “I’ll take care of it.  Just get some sleep.”

Having said that, Wade left him on the bed and made his way to the bathroom.

But Spider-Man couldn’t just get some sleep.  He couldn’t get the sight of Wade’s erection out of his mind.  He’d just had a freak-out because he almost came in Wade’s mouth, and that, as opposed to everything else about this evening, would have been gay.

This was ridiculous.  He was ridiculous.  He didn’t know what this meant in terms of his sexuality, and he was probably going to have a huge identity crisis about this later, but all he knew was right now Wade was in the bathroom jerking himself off after giving Spider-Man the most amazing orgasm of his life and he wanted to return the favor. Okay, he probably wasn’t going to be anywhere close to giving Wade the best orgasm in his life, but he could at least give him an orgasm.  Probably.  He was certainly eager to give it a try..

He got up and walked over to the bathroom door.  It was now or never.

“Hey, Wade, do you wan--” Spider-Man started as he went to knock on the door but as soon as his knuckles touched the wood, the door fell open.

A maskless Wade was leaning against the far wall with his pants pulled down to mid-thigh.  He had his head bent back and his eyes closed.  His skin was scarred and deformed.  He was sucking on a couple of fingers of one hand while the other stroked his length with a punishing pace.

Spider-Man gaped.  

Wade’s eyes flew open and he snapped his head towards the doorway.  His hand flew down to the bathroom counter where his gun rested.  “Don’t look at me!” he screamed, his eyes wild with rage and betrayal.

Spider-Man’s Spidey Senses blazed in his head.

Deadpool didn’t want him.  Violently didn’t want him.  

Spider-Man fled.

He ran into the main room, but that had him trapped.  The exit was behind him, where Deadpool was.  He could hear Deadpool ranting from the bathroom.  Spider-Man dashed to the window.  There was some sort of bar on it, preventing the window from opening more than a few inches.  He needed to get out.  He gave a little bit of a push and the window opened the rest of the way.

Without a backward glance, Spider-Man went through the window and was gone.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: The Truth is Out There

“It’s not like he’s gay,” Deadpool said immediately after pushing the bathroom door closed behind him.  He wanted to get that out of the way before the narrative boxes in his head could say something; he knew they had plenty of nasty things to say and he hoped a preemptive strike would lessen their taunts.

You don’t know...he might be.

Good, it was working.  “Nah, I couldn’t be that lucky.”  

He was rather turned on.

“Please, he’s hardly more than a kid… Guys that age get turned on by anything.  I got turned on seeing Bea Arthur’s ankles.”

That was yesterday.

“And today I’m turned on by Spider-Man.”

Yeah we are.

“Like seriously, oh em gee am I so turned on right now,” Deadpool emphasized, lewdly grabbing his crotch.

We got it.

The question is: why aren't you doing something about it yet?

That was a good question.

His gloves, belt, and weapons were already off, lying on the counter, so he slipped his pants and boxers down just enough to expose himself.  He brought his hand down to his cock, recalling the sight of Spider-Man spread out across the bed, his swollen dick bobbing upwards as Spider-Man arched his back, his breath coming out in quick, mewing gasps.  And then, Deadpool was there, beside him, touching him, making him shake and squirm with pleasure.  Fuck, it was hard to believe that had really happened and wasn’t just another of his Pool-o-Vision fantasies.

But no, it was real.  It had really happened.  Deadpool stroked himself in earnest, willing himself to come.

But the memories alone weren’t enough.  He ripped his mask off and tossed it somewhere on the counter.  He brought his hand up and slipped a couple of fingers past his lips.  It wasn't the same as having Spidey’s dick in his mouth, but it evoked the proper visceral memory...

“Hey, Wade, do you wan--”

The bathroom door flew open and there was Spider-Man.

No!   He sees us!   He’s looking at us!   Where’s our face?! We need our face!

Deadpool reached down for his mask. His hand slid across his gun.

Grab it!   He’s staring at us!  Why is he staring at us?!

“Don't look at me!” he screamed in rage and betrayal.

Where is our mask?!   It's too late, he's already seen us!   What should we do?!

Shoot him!

Deadpool lifted his gun.

No, wait!  It’s Spider-Man!

There was a split second, the gun was in hand, he saw Spider-Man, Spider-Man saw him, saw the gun, there was some weird flashing around Spider-Man’s head, he was lowering the gun, and then Spider-Man was gone, running away, and Deadpool realized what he’d just done.

Oh fuck.

You just fucked everything up.

“I know!”

Like really, really fucked it up.

“Do you think I haven’t realized that all on my own?  I know, I know!”

He’s not going to want us anywhere near him again.  Not after this.  What the hell were you thinking?

“I wasn’t thinking!  And I had Yellow all in my head screaming that I needed to shoot and I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing until I was waving a gun in his face already!”

Oops.

“What the fuck do you mean ‘oops’?!  You almost let me shoot Spidey!” Deadpool kicked the trash can.  It made a satisfying clatter as it crashed into the shower.

As if he wasn’t freaked out enough by us waving a gun in his face, by all means, let’s add throwing shit around.

He saw us.  He saw our body.  He saw our face.  He saw it all.  And he was so disgusted by us, he had to run away.

Or he could have run away because we were the dumbfucks pointing a fucking gun at his face!

He’s not afraid of guns.  He steps in front of them like it’s his fucking pastime.  It’s us that he ran from.  We’re a fucking monster.

Deadpool collapsed in anguish.  Spidey saw him.  He saw and he was disgusted by him.  He didn’t want anything to do with him.

We’ve got our gun in hand already.  Shoot yourself.

No!  Bad plan!  Not a good idea!

It was tempting, oh so tempting, to put the gun up to his head and enjoy even a brief moment without pain, but he’d already messed things up enough for Spider-Man.  He didn’t need to add having to explain to the hotel staff why there was a dead guy in the bath, or why that dead guy wasn’t staying dead.  That would bring about all the attention that they’d been trying to avoid.

And as entertaining as watching you fall apart is, you need to go out there and apologize.

He took a deep breath.  White box was right.

He wiped himself down and tucked himself back into his pants.  His gloves were next, followed by his belts and pouches.  The weapons he left where they were--no need to complicate his apology.  Last he slid on his mask.

Alright, face back in place.  He could do this.  He’d go out there, appologize to Spidey for letting him see something so horrible, offer to let Spidey kick the snot out of him for drawing the gun on him, and then it would okay again.

Yeah, you keep telling yourself that.

Deadpool stepped out of the bathroom, but the main room was empty and the window was wide open, the frame bent, evidence of how forceful Spider-Man had been in his need to escape.

He ran to the window and stuck his head out.  There was no sight of Spider-Man in any direction.

Oh fuck.  He could be anywhere by now.

And we still don’t have any way of contacting him.

“Shit!” Deadpool cursed.

Spider-Man’s out there in only a yukata.

No shoes, no coat, the middle of winter...

It’s possible he has a place near here, but if he doesn’t…

Deadpool had to find him.  He had no idea how, but he had to find him.

There’s a staircase at the end of the hall that’ll lead to the rooftop.  We could use that vantage point to try to see him.

It’s dark.  There’s no way we’re going to be able to see anything.

True, but it was at least something he could do, and having no other ideas, Deadpool clung to this one.  He dashed out of room and ran down the hall until he burst through the doorway to the stairwell.  He leapt, taking each flight of stairs in two giant steps.  The rooftop exit was locked.  He went to kick it open.

Wait!  You’ll set off the alarm and that’ll draw undue attention here.

It was maddening, but Deadpool forced himself to slow down enough to pull out his lock picks and pick the lock.  He chafed at the delay but at last he had the door open.

You’re never going to find him.  Face it, he’s gone.

He ran out onto the roof and nearly tripped over Spider-Man, who was huddled in a ball just outside the door.

 

**************************

“I am stupid and an asshole,” Spider-Man repeated as a mantra through his clattering teeth as he huddled in his cotton robe,for all the good it would do against the February wind.

He’d freaked Wade out and then just left him there.  He was the worst.

He deserved every bit of the terrible situation he was in now: alone, on a rooftop in the dark, in the middle of winter, wearing nothing but a robe.  No shoes, no wallet, no way to get home.

Of course Wade had flipped when Spider-Man had walked in on him.  Wade might not have a secret identity to hide, but that didn’t mean he wanted to have his face seen without the mask.  It was an accident on Spider-Man’s part, but he knew he’d have lost it too if he’d had his mask off when Wade walked in on him.  He needed to have some strong words with Wade about his tendency to grab his gun first, but Spider-Man had ‘jumped the gun’ himself by immediately running away.  Without talking, without explaining himself, without even making sure Wade was okay.  All he could think at the time was that Wade didn’t want him.  He was so selfish!

He’d go back to the room if only he knew which room it was.  He hadn’t left the room once in the past five days, so he had never bothered to learn which one they were in, and he wasn’t paying the most attention as he scrambled out of the window and up the wall.  He had only regained some awareness when he made his way onto the  roof, got hit by a huge blast of cold wind, and realized he had just made a terrible mistake.  By that time, he was only partially sure which side of the building he’d come up from.

He wasn’t looking forward to climbing back down, peering through each window to try to find the one he’d come out of, appearing to anyone who saw him as a creepy peeping tom--a mistaken impression that wouldn’t be helped by the fact that he’d likely be flashing his junk with each blast of freezing cold air.  And assuming he’d even manage to pick the right side of the building, there was no guarantee that Wadehadn’t closed the curtains after he’d left.  He’d have no chance at all of finding the right room if that was the case.

But Spider-Man didn’t have any other option, which left him in his current state of bewildered inaction.  And rather than thinking up a solution to his current predicament, he kept going over what had just happened.

Just walking in on Wade like he did--Wade without his mask in a very intimate moment-- that would probably have been enough to set him off, right?  That was reason enough for Wade to panic.  After all, Wade hadn’t minded giving him a handjob or even sucking him off, right?  He’d even made some references of possibly being involved with guys in his past.  Besides, the two of them had even hooked up once before--

That had been a spur of the moment thing that Wade didn’t even remember.  Shit.  He didn't remember it.  What they just did that evening…. It must have seemed to Wade like it had come out of nowhere!  To Spider-Man, this was building on their previous hookup, an encounter that had been on his mind for months.  But for Wade, he'd just been helping a friend out a bit.  He might not have had any real desire for it.

Oh gods, had he pressured Wade into something he hadn't wanted to do, but felt obligated to do in order to uphold his deal to be Spider-Man’s hands until he healed?  And then to make matters worse, Spider-Man just barged in asking if he wanted him to return the favor.

What if Wade’s negative reaction was to Spider-Man’s proposition?  

Back during the summer, Deadpool had gotten strange when Spider-Man had met with the drug dealer and again when he wanted to break into the bio lab.  Basically, anytime ‘Spider-Man’ was doing something wrong.  But was what he did this evening really so wrong?  Harry would think so.  Did Wade also think it wrong?  But was being gay really that wrong?

Oh gods.

He was gay.

That was it, wasn't it?  He was gay.

He was gay, and he was in love with Deadpool.

He was gay, he was in love with Deadpool, and Deadpool might have just violently reacted to being propositioned by him.  And there wasn’t anything Spider-Man could do about it until he could talk with Deadpool, and to talk with Deadpool he needed to get up and try to figure out which room he’d come out of.  Somehow.

Alright.  He’d had enough time moping.  It was time to get up.  He could do this.  He was a hero!

He tried to stand up and his legs didn’t want to cooperate.

...Or maybe he couldn’t do this.  How was he going to get inside if he couldn’t stand?

He caught tiny metal-on-metal scratching noises just to his left.  He cocked his head towards the sound, trying to place it.  Was there someone on the other side of the door?

With a clang, the door flew open and Deadpool burst out, almost on top of him.

He yelped.  He couldn’t help it.

“Oh!” Deadpool exclaimed, apparently as surprised to run into Spider-Man as Spider-Man was to be run into by Deadpool.

Deadpool recovered first.  “I was just looking for you.”

“Well, looks like you found me,” Spider-Man replied, then winced.  Did he really just say that?  That was stupid.  No wonder Deadpool thought of him as just a kid.

“I’m sorr--” Spider-Man started but stopped when he realized Deadpool was saying something at the same time.

“I’m sorry for pointing my gun at you.  You startled me and my instincts maybe aren’t so good.”

“And I’m sorry for startling you,” Spider-Man said.  “I really hadn’t meant to, honest.  The door just fell open.  Anyway, I’m really glad you found me because I had no idea what room we were in and I’m freezing.  Like, legit, my legs are frozen and I’m getting a little worried about the state of my toes.  Do they still exist or have they fallen off yet?  I really can’t tell…”

And he really couldn’t shut his mouth.  This always happened.  He would get nervous and either clam up completely or babble stupidly and why couldn’t he shut his mouth already?

And then suddenly Deadpool was beside him, and touching his legs, and Spider-Man nearly jumped a mile because, hello, guy he just realized he was gay for and in love with was next to him and reaching out, and maybe he didn’t hate him after all despite the fact that Spider-Man had freaked him out, but he’d come to find him so maybe he liked him too, and yeah, Spider-Man was totally losing it now.

“Sorry,” Deadpool said quickly, pulling his hands away.  “I was going to check for frostbite, but…”

“Oh.  I don't think my feet are literally frozen yet,” Spider-Man said before he really thought about it.  Darn it.  That was the perfect excuse for physical contact and he blew it.  Quick, he had to say something, come up with some excuse… “But they are pretty numb, so I'm not quite sure I can put my weight on them.  Maybe you could help me back to the room?”

“Um, how do you want me to do that?  Do you want me to carry you?” Deadpool asked uncertainly.

“Yes, please!” Spider-Man squeaked in agreement.  Did he sound desperate?  He felt desperate.  For both the warmth and the physical contact.  At the moment it was a bit of a toss up which he craved more.  Okay probably the warmth because he was legit freezing to death but yay the guy he just realized he was gay for and in love with was picking him up and holding him close, and carrying him back into the warmth like a fairytale prince.

Alright, so Deadpool hadn't seemed like he had intended to carry him like a fairy tale prince, but Spider-Man shifted in such a way so that Deadpool had to.  And alright, so Spider-Man himself was probably the complete opposite of desirable at the moment as he was shivering, his nose was running with snot under his mask, and he couldn’t stop his teeth from chattering, but it was something at least.

So they got back to the room--1951, Spider-Man noted this time--and the room was almost as cold as the roof had been. Oh right.  He kinda left the window open when he ran away, and from the feel of it, Wade hadn’t closed it behind him.

Deadpool brought him straight into the bathroom and set him down on the edge of the tub.  Spider-Man briefly wondered if they were going to pick up where they’d left off, which was stupid and made no sense but that’s where his mind went.  He was quickly disabused of that notion.

“You need a bath to quickly bring up your core temperature,” Deadpool explained.  “Start filling up the tub while I fix you up some hot cocoa.”

********************

Spider-Man dried himself off awkwardly with one arm.  When he was as dry as he could manage, he dropped the towel onto the pile of laundry that had built up over the past few days.  The robe he'd been wearing was also on the pile.  Deadpool had left some actual clothes for him to put on after his bath.  Spider-Man wondered if Deadpool was sending him a message.  No, he was overthinking it.  The robe had already been gross after the past five days of constant wear.  The climb up the side of the building hadn’t improved it.  Besides, he needed warm clothes.  That was all there was to it.

The boxers and sweatpants were easy enough to get on--okay, not exactly easy, but he he was able to manage on his own.  Getting his mask on by himself sent some stabs of pain to his injured shoulder, particularly since he still wasn't really able to raise his left arm much higher than chest height, but it wasn’t like he could ask for help with that.  The sweatshirt, on the other hand, was not going to be possible to get on by himself, not with his shoulder already sore.  He’d have to ask Deadpool for help.  It was humiliating to go out there and ask Deadpool to dress him, worse because more than anything he was tired of looking weak in front of Wade, but he didn’t have much choice.

He stepped out of the bathroom, holding the shirt awkwardly in the hand with the cast and found Deadpool standing by the kitchenette.

“Could you hel-- You’re still wearing your coat?” Spider-Man asked, surprised.  The room wasn’t that chilly anymore.

“Here, let me.”  Deadpool took the shirt out of Spider-Man’s hand.  As Deadpool pulled the oversized shirt onto him, Spider-Man fought the urge to lean forward and press himself against Deadpool’s chest.  He envisioned Deadpool scooping him up off his feet and carrying him to the bed where he would warm him up with some cuddling and kissing.

Instead, Deadpool put a steaming mug of cocoa into his hands and announced, “I’m leaving.”

Spider-Man’s stomach dropped but he quickly recovered.  “To go out for food, right? Maybe we can just get room service tonight, just this once?” he questioned hopefully.  He really didn’t want Deadpool to be away for even a few minutes.

“No, I mean I really need to leave the city.”

“Oh,” Spider-Man said in a small voice.  What did he mean by that?  “When will you be back?”

“I won’t be back.  I just called your S.H.I.E.L.D. friend and she should be over in a few hours.”

Spider-Man felt his chest tighten and his mouth go dry.  Why…?  “Is it… Is it because of what happened… earlier?”

And Deadpool hesitated.  

“No,” he denied.  “It’s my arm that I had set up for a trap back at my warehouse.  Weasel reported that it’s moving and if I’m going to have any chance to find out who’s after me-- us-- I need to follow this lead.”

Despite the reasonableness of his excuse, Spider-Man knew from his hesitation that it was just an excuse and that Deadpool was leaving because of what they had done earlier that day.

That was it, wasn’t it?  Wade had said it himself: Spider-Man was young, boners happen, and he couldn’t exactly take care of it himself with his injuries. Had he coerced Wade into performing activities that he hadn’t really wanted to do?  Giving a ‘helping hand’ was one thing, but had he realized that Spider-Man had fallen for him?  He said himself he had no interest in ‘kids’ and he had to think that someone that much younger than him was hardly more than a kid.

“I’ve got you hot cocoa, turned up the thermostat, and sealed up the window mostly.  You should be alright.  Anyway your girlfriend will be here soon enough and she can take care of you at this point.”

Spider-Man nodded dumbly, unable to form any coherent thoughts, let alone words out loud.  And then Deadpool was gone, just like that, without a goodbye or even a backward glance.

**************************************

He wrung his mask over the sink until he had gotten as much moisture out of it as he could.  A hotel kitchenette sink wasn't the ideal place to wash it, but he'd caked it with snot and tears after Deadpool had left, and the whole thing was beyond gross.  He spread the mask out across the counter to dry out, then wiped his hands on his sweat pants.  

He considered reheating one of the containers of soup Wade had left him, since he hadn’t gotten to eat any dinner, but he didn’t have an appetite.  Instead, he flopped down on the couch.  He leaned back, his head resting on the back of the couch, and stared up at the ceiling, itemizing all the various ways his life sucked.

He had gotten up to fifty-one when there was an insistent tapping on the door.  His first thought was that Deadpool had come back, but then he heard Krissi’s voice plaintively ask, “Are you in there?  Are you awake?  Please be in there… I don't think I can… Oh shit, it's starting to fall...”

He rushed to the door and opened it to find Krissi standing in the hall with her arms overloaded.  She was carrying two large pizza boxes, a large paper bag balanced precariously on top of them, a couple of plastic bags, an overnight bag over her shoulder, and was struggling to hold onto her pillow so it wouldn't fall onto the floor.  He grabbed her pillow in the nick of time, for which Krissi rewarded him with a grateful sigh.

“Oh, thank god.  I couldn't bear it if it had fallen onto the hallway floor.  And thank goodness you're awake.  I had no idea what I would have done if you'd been asleep.  He said he’d left a key for me at the front desk but I'm not sure I could gotten it with everything in my arms.”

He took a load from her and led her into the room.

“Damn, is this place swanky,” she marveled.

“Isn't it?” he gushed.  “Check it out: it even has a bidet!”

A few minutes later, he'd given her the complete tour, highlighting all the fancy features that came with the suite.  They finished back at the couch where the pizza was waiting for them.  He flopped down while she sat beside him.  He took a deep breath.

“Krissi, there’s something I need to tell you…” He faltered.

“You’ve decided to come out?” Krissi supplied as she opened the pizza box and started to plate up a slice.

“How did you know?” he marveled.  Based on his previous conversation with Gwen, he figured Krissi also knew that he was gay, but to know that that’s what he wanted to talk to her about…

“You greeted me without your mask on,” she pointed out and handed him the plate.

Shocked, he brought his hand up to his face.  His mask wasn’t on him.  He glanced back to the counter and there it was, lying right where he’d left it.  He blanched.

And then it occurred to him that Krissi hadn’t had any reaction to finding out that Spider-Man was actually her friend Peter.

“You knew,” he accused.

“Yes,” she admitted.

“How?  When?”  And then his stomach clenched.  “Have you known since the beginning?  Is that why you became my friend?”  And an even worse thought slipped out.  “Was our friendship even real?”

“Oh, god Peter, no!” Krissi exclaimed.  She put her plate down and reached over to take his uninjured hand and gave it a squeeze.  “Our friendship has been real from the start.  I didn’t know you were Spider-Man when I first met you, I promise.  I wasn’t even a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. at that point.  I didn’t learn of it until after I went home for winter break that first year and told my parents all about the pet freshman named Peter Parker that I adopted that semester.  That’s when my mother told me. It had to be ‘fate’ that we, of all people, should meet and become friends.  It was also a not-so-subtle means of pushing me into the family business. It worked.”

“Your mom knew?” Spider-Man questioned.

“Well, she was your primary handler until I took over.  She apparently figured it out pretty early but she thought that with you being so young, and that you weren’t doing any harm--in fact she thought you were doing a fair bit of good-- and since you obviously wanted to keep your civilian identity secret, S.H.I.E.L.D. should just leave you be.  She kept your identity out of S.H.I.E.L.D. records and wouldn’t even tell her superiors about it.”

“I bet Agent Rothschild loved that.”

“Mom’s old boss?  Yeah, he complained about it, but you know what a force of nature my mother is.”

Peter nodded.  He did indeed know how overbearing Agent Loewe was.

Another realization hit him.  “You knew I was Peter, and yet you still came here to help me out, despite how much of a jerk I was to you and Evan at New Years.”  He swallowed thickly.  “Even though I haven't seen you since.”

“Yes, Peter, of course I came over.  You’re my friend.  I told you that I’d be there for you when you needed me.”

“I’m so sorry.  I don't… I just… I've been such a jerk to you.  Why…?”

Krissi gently cut him off, “You’re my friend,” she repeated.  “I understood that things got a bit much for you at New Years and that you needed time to process it all.  I knew you’d be back when you were able to.  Still, you are going to need to apologize to Evan.  Intellectually he understands why you left, but he’s a bit more sensitive than I am and your fight with him really hurt his feelings.”

Peter nodded and promised he’d apologize to Evan properly when he could.

Krissi finished her slice of pizza.  She cut out another piece but instead of putting it on her own plate, she put a second one on Peter’s plate despite the fact that he hadn’t finished his first piece.

“I’m still eating the first one,” he pointed out.

“I know.  Eat up.”

She grabbed a second slice for herself.  In between bites she asked, “So if you hadn’t intended to come out as Spider-Man, what did you want to talk about, Peter?”

“I was going to tell you that I think that maybe I might be gay.” When he looked over at her and saw a lack of surprise to that, he added glumly, “But I suspect you already knew that, too.”

“I wondered if that might be the case.  You think gay and not bi?” she asked gently.  “You have dated women in the past.”

“I’m sure,” Peter said.  “I’m realizing that while I cared for M.J., Gwen, and Betty, I was never truly attracted to them, and what I felt for them is nothing at all like what I feel now.”

“So you've realized you’re interested in men.  Or should I say, realized you had feelings for one man in particular.”

Peter nodded. “Yeah, that’s what it is, exactly.”

“You two have known each other for a while.  Why now?  What’s changed now?”

Peter picked at his pizza for a minute before he answered, “It's been there for a while, I guess, certainly longer than I consciously realized it.”

“Yeah.”

“I probably should have realized that something was up when I kept picturing him in my fantasies,” he admitted.

Krissi arched her eyebrow at him.  She didn't say anything, but she didn't need to; her look expressed more than any sarcastic comment ever would.

Peter nodded ruefully.  She was right.  “But,” he continued, “it was really this weekend that made it impossible to deny.”

“The almost-died-life-flash-past-your-eyes thing?” Krissi supplied.  “Rethinking your life choices while staring up at the ceiling as you lie awake because your whole body aches?”

“Some of that,” he agreed.  “But mostly because of how much he's really looked out for me and has taken care of me.  I never expected Wade to have such a caring side to him, y’know?”

“Deadpool?!” Krissi exclaimed.  “You’re talking about Deadpool?”

“Yes,” Peter confirmed, just as puzzled as she was.  “Who else did you think I could possibly have been talking about?”

“Evan and I always figured you were in love with Harry.”

“Harry?” Peter repeated in astonishment.  “Come on, Harry’s my best friend, and…” He trailed off as he stopped and really thought about his relationship with Harry for the past decade, how much Harry was always in his thoughts and how much he wanted him to like him.  “Yeah, okay, I see why you would have thought that,” he concluded.

“Soooo.  Deadpool.  You're in love with Deadpool,” she said, as if feeling out the words by saying them out loud.

Peter tried to get a read on her tone.  She didn't sound disapproving, but she didn't seem very enthusiastic about it either.

“When he’s around, I feel safe, and cared for.  Cherished, even,” he explained, thinking back to Wade’s gentleness when he bathed him.

“First thing he did upon his return to the city is let you get shot and injured,” she pointed out.  Her tone was mild despite her words.

“To be fair, this was sort of my fault,” Peter started.

Krissi cut him off.  “Peter, if I left it to your judgement on this sort of thing, everything would be your fault.”

“Not everything--”

Krissi gave him another look.

“--okay, so maybe I do have a bit of a guilt complex.”

“You do,” she agreed.  “which is why I’m worried about this.”

“I take it you don't approve.”

“I don't disapprove.  It's just… Well, it’s easy to be swept up and reflect back someone else’s feelings for you, or to get confused around someone who’s as naturally flirty as Deadpool is.  I'm guessing Deadpool was the guy who you got so worked up over that promised kiss.”

Peter nodded in confirmation as he considered her words.  Maybe he had been confused by having someone around that was always flirting with him in the beginning, but that didn't explain how much Wade has been on his mind even when he wasn't near.

“He dominates my thoughts.  When he's not around, I look for signs of him wherever I go, and when he is around, it's not enough.”

“You do have it bad for him, don't you?”  She sighed.  “Oh, Peter.  This is not going to be easy.  Even if he does return your feelings and wants to be in a relationship with you, he is a very damaged man.”

“I doubt it’ll come to that,” Peter told her glumly.  “I don’t think he even thinks about me in the same way.”

“What makes you say that?”

And so he told her everything, the whole story, leaving nothing out, from the sleepwalkers, the mind-control drugs, Randy, his encounters with S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Cat, his failure with Betty and his conversation with Gwen, to his entire relationship with Wade.  He told her everything.  Alright, so he glossed over the some of the intimate details of his time with Wade, but otherwise, he told her everything.  She asked a few questions here and there for Peter to clarify something, but otherwise she kept quiet, letting him just talk and get it all out, till he got to the end.

“Oh, Peter,” Krissi said as she embraced him.  “You’ve been carrying all of this yourself.  Why didn’t you come to me for help?  At the very least about the sleepwalking and the mystery drugs.  We might have been able to figure things out already with the resources of S.H.I.E.L.D. to help.”

“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to get you in trouble because a superior agent already told me no.”

She looked at him sharply.  “You’ve already talked to someone at S.H.I.E.L.D.?”

“I went to S.H.I.E.L.D. at the very beginning, when I first started looking into the sleepwalking incidents.  You had been swamped with clean up work, but I ran into Agent Rothschild.  He really ripped me a new one for bothering him with ‘unsubstantiated rumors and ghost stories’ when ‘S.H.I.E.L.D. was so busy dealing with the clean up of the city’.  So I decided to investigate things on my own until I had enough evidence to bring before S.H.I.E.L.D. again”

“Rothschild said that?  I mean, things were really hectic in the aftermath of the battle, sure, but why would he be so dismissive?” she asked as she mused out loud.  “You must have caught him at a really bad time or something,” she concluded.  “He didn't even follow protocol and make a note of running into you, and he at least knows better, having worked above mom for so many years.  That’s really troubling.  In fact, a lot of what you said is really troubling.  And not just him.  Nearly all the encounters with S.H.I.E.L.D. that you described don’t sound right to me at all.”

“How so?”

“Well, I’m the primary agent on Spider-Man, so all encounters between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Spider-Man, should have gone through me, and if that was not possible, at the very least it should have been reported to me after the fact.  For example, the night you got caught in the explosion at the drug dealer’s apartment, S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to the same location to investigate him for smuggling Chitari guns scavenged after the Battle of New York.  But the apartment exploded before the team of agents got there, and you and Deadpool were seen fleeing the scene.  Agent Preston contacted me to let me know her team was going to question you on your involvement.  There wasn’t time for me to join her first.”

“Was it her team or that Asian woman?  I couldn’t tell who was supposed to be in charge there,” Spider-Man wondered.

“Asian woman?”

“Yeah.  Short height, short hair, constant glaring.  Mist something.  Didn’t catch her last name, or if I did, I don’t remember now.”

“Misato Takahashi?”

“That’s right, Misato.”

“What was she doing there?”

“She and Agent Preston were arguing over how to question Deadpool and I.  She wanted to bring us in for questioning--was really insistent about that-- and Agent Preston didn’t seem to care much about us at all.  It was really weird.  They barely asked us any questions, and didn’t even ask us what we’d seen in the apartment.”

“Agent Preston runs the team that was in charge of investigating the stolen Chitari guns.  Agent Takahashi is part of a different team altogether,” Krissi explained.  “I’m sure there’s a perfectly natural reason why she was there with Preston’s team that night.”

“But you think something’s up?” Peter guessed.

“I’m not sure.  On its own, that story wouldn’t faze me, but you’ve had a couple strange encounters with S.H.I.E.L.D. groups this year, and with agents who shouldn’t have been there.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure about that second group you encountered at the RAND building, but as for that first group... Last I knew, Agent Melinda May was off active duty and was working a desk job,and Agent Phil Coulson was killed in the line of duty by Loki during the Battle of New York.

“He was rather spry for a dead man.”

“I’m sure.”

“So.  What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to have to do some digging around.  I’ll let you know what I find.”

Peter wondered if she actually would; in the past, when things got in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D., it was like they were sent to the abyss… never seen again by anyone else.  He knew Krissi wouldn’t intentionally keep him out of the loop, but S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secrets had secrets.

“What are you going to do?” she asked, turning his question back on him.

“Enjoy the hotel room for as long as I got it.  Go home.  Try to restore some semblance of order back to my life.”

“I meant about Deadpool.”

“Oh.”  What he was going to do about him?

“But you are going to talk with him, right?”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I mean, he left, and I don’t know how to get ahold of him…”

“Peter, you have talk with him.  If you're too afraid to have an open communication with him, than you're not ready for any relationship with him.  Or with anyone.”

“I know,” Peter said.

Krissi was right.  He couldn't just ignore things and he was done with running away.  He might not know how to get in touch withDeadpool, but he knew of someone who did, and he had an idea of just how he might get in contact with a certain hidden tech and information guy.

******************

Deadpool tromped up the hill, his feet half sinking into the snow even with the snowshoes.  He’d had to leave roads behind a few miles back, when the only road leading towards his target was barred by a heavily guarded gate.  He could've busted through, but until he knew what he was dealing with, he preferred to maintain stealth.

Which explained why he was now cold, wet, and miserable.  He thought back to those days in the hotel with Spider-Man and longed to be back there.

He hates you.  

If he didn’t before, he does now.

He saw our face.

You just left him without even checking if he was really okay.

He was so disgusted, he immediately ran away.

And you were the one that caused him to freeze in the first place.

He could barely stand to have you touch him even to help him back into the room.

What if he did have frostbite?  It's not like you checked.

“Enough!  I got the point.”

We’re at the point.

They were.  He crouched down and crawled the last few feet to peer over the crest. He looked over at the location where his severed arm had been brought.

“Shit,” he muttered under his breath.

What is it?

Oh fuck.

What?  What is it?!

I thought this place had burned up, nothing left but ash and ghosts.

“That’s what I thought too.”

So we know this place?

Welcome home.

What?!! What is this place already?!

He slumped down.  

In a flat voice, he explained.

“That's the Workshop for Weapon X. Where Deadpool was born.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 28: La petite mort

Go ahead.  Do it again.  Who knows? This time it might work.

It’s not going to work.  It hasn’t worked the first seven times you tried it.

Deadpool drained the bottle and threw it across the room.  It clattered onto the pile of its predecessors with a cascade of tinkling glass.

Fuck, you’ve had more booze by yourself in one night than an entire frat party.

We’re trying to get drunk enough to overwhelm our healing factor so when we shoot ourselves in the head it’ll actually kill us.

Deadpool fiddled with the gun in his lap, but he knew he wasn’t drunk enough for that yet.  Despite the copious amounts of booze he’d guzzled in a very short amount of time, he was only slightly buzzed.  He grabbed another bottle and broke the top off, ignoring the glass that embedded itself into his palm and the scratch of the resulting ragged edges against his lips as he poured the tequila straight into his mouth.

There isn’t enough booze in the world.

Let’s try antifreeze next then.  There are a few bottles of that downstairs.

Fuck, ever since we got back from Canada you’ve both been on a downward spiral.

Weapon X is back and is hunting us down, and we fucked things up with Spider-Man.  If this isn’t the time to finally find a way to permanently kill ourselves, what is?

In answer, Deadpool stumbled to his feet and started his way towards the door.  There was antifreeze to fetch.

“Stop callin’, stop callin’, I don't wanna think any more…” Lady Gaga’s voice blasted out from behind the couch he'd just vacated.

“Huh?” Deadpool turned towards the sound.

That would be your phone.

Deadpool looked blankly at the couch.  Phone?  Ringing phone meant phone call.  Phone call meant... someone was calling him?

Who the fuck is calling us now of all times!

Since it’s your ‘unknown number’ ringtone, a job offer maybe?

It’s probably a telemarketer.

How dare some asshole call him and interrupt him when he was in the middle of trying to kill himself?  He’d find that bastard and shove his phone so far up his ass he never interrupt anyone’s night again.

To do that, you need to find out who’s calling.

That was a good point.

Why don’t you answer the phone?

“Because I don’t know where the phone is!”

Try following the sound of the ringtone, dumbass.

Deadpool fell on his knees in front of the couch, rifling through the random mound of stuff underneath it until he found the rectangular shape of his phone.  He swiped it on just before it went to voicemail.

“What do you want?” he growled into the receiver.

There was no response.

************************

Peter stared at his phone trying to work up his courage to dial the number.  This would’ve been so much easier if he’d called right after that pep talk from Krissi back at the hotel.  But of course, at that point, he hadn’t had Deadpool’s number.  So he’d tracked Weasel down on a Star Wars message board and exchanged multiple messages until they both could be sure the other was who they said they were. After that, he’d had to decrypt Weasel’s encoded message with Deadpool’s number.  By that point, weeks had passed and Peter’d had too much time to think about all the things that could go wrong in confessing his feelings to Deadpool.  Even now that he had the number, he’d spent the entire day picking up the phone and putting it back down, unable to actually make the call.

But after all that effort to get the number, he couldn’t give up now that he was in the final stretch.  He just had to dial the number.  Oh god, he was calling a guy to confess his love. He was going to screw this up.  He always screwed his relationships up.  But... that was Peter Parker.  Deadpool didn’t know Peter Parker; he knew Spider-Man. And Spider-Man was a hero who could do anything!  He had faced down bad guys and aliens falling out of the sky.  He could handle dialing a phone number.  So… if Peter couldn’t do it, then maybe Spider-Man could.

He debated whether the mask alone would be enough, but ultimately decided he needed the full suit.  He tossed his regular clothes on his bed and squeezed into his costume.  With his mask in place, Spider-Man let out a relieved sigh.  Yes.  He could do it now.

He picked up his phone and dialed the number without needing to look at where he’d written it down as he’d long ago memorized it from repeating it in his head all day.  His heart thudded in his ears as the phone continued to ring, unanswered.  Any second now it would go to voicemail.  Should he leave a message?  What should he say?!  But then the line connected.

“What do you want?” Deadpool’s distinctive voice growled in obvious annoyance.

Spider-Man froze, his words of greeting dying on his lips.

The seconds kept falling away in silence and he knew he had to say something, anything, or Deadpool would hang up thinking this was just some prank call.

************************

Is this a crank call?  Who would crank call us?

Who cares?  Hang up already so we can get on with offing ourselves.

Off the top his head Deadpool could think of a dozen likely candidates for cranking him, but for some reason he had a sense that this wasn’t actually a crank call.  There was something familiar in the cadence of the breathing.

You don’t suppose… Could it possibly be--

“...Spidey?” Deadpool asked, a desperate little hope blossoming in his heart.

There was a hitch in the breathing, as if the person on the other side of the line had given a slight gasp, and Deadpool knew that he was right.

“Are you okay?  Where are you?”

“...The rooftop.  The garden, where we, um…”

“I’ll be right there.”  

“...Thanks.”

Deadpool hung up and immediately began gathering his things, any drunkenness he’d been feeling was gone, his healing factor clearing up what his determination couldn’t.

What does Spider-Man want with us?

It didn’t matter.  Deadpool geared up with his usual array of guns and blades.  He considered whether he should grab the Falcon wings, but they could draw a lot of attention from those hunting him that he didn’t need directed at Spider-Man, and it didn’t sound like Spider-Man was in immediate danger.

Alright, boots, belts, weapons, and mask--

Wait!  You’re not really going to go out like that are you?

“What’s wrong with my usual costume?  Sure there are guys hunting for me, but if I’m careful I should avoid too much notice.”

You’ve just spent the last who-knows-how-long repeatedly shooting yourself in the head in a misguided attempt to permanently kill yourself.

Misguided?!  I’d like to see you guide better!

I am.  At least I’m pointing out that he needs to change his shirt.  The red might hide the bloodstains but not the smell.

Good point.  Deadpool grabbed the cleanest shirt he had and quickly changed.  Alright, now he was ready.  Mask in place, Deadpool climbed out the window and jumped down the couple floors to the street.

********************************

Spider-Man fidgeted.  It was tough waiting.  He didn’t want to pace because that wouldn’t look very cool when Deadpool arrived.  How should he look?  Standing?  Sitting casually?  He had no clue which direction Deadpool would be coming from, or how long he’d take to get there.  It had taken Spider-Man about ten minutes, but since Deadpool had blown up his warehouse, Spider-Man didn’t know where he was staying.  He was just pleasantly surprised that Deadpool was in New York City at all.

“Spider-Man?” Deadpool’s gravely voice came up behind him.

Spider-Man jumped.  “You’re here!” he squeaked out.

Deadpool shrugged. “You called,” he replied.

“Thank you.”

Alright.  Deadpool was there.  It was time to confess!

Half a minute of silence passed before Deadpool noted, “You’re out of the cast now.”

Spider-Man flexed his arms.  “Yup.  Cast is off, stitches are out!  I’m doing some physical therapy with the shoulder still, but I’m almost back to full working order.”

“Good.”

“Yeah.”

The silence dragged on again.

“So...  Did you need something?” Deadpool questioned, pointedly.

“I…” Spider-Man started, but now that it was time to speak up, he couldn’t get the words out.  Deadpool seemed to be in a bad mood, but feeling like he had to say something, anything, he finished in a rush, “--could use your help checking out Dr. Eloise’s office.”

Deadpool just stared at him blankly.

“You, um, promised you’d help me investigate when I recovered.  And I’m recovered, so um, yeah.  Help.  With the thing.  Investigation.  Help with the the investigation.  Thing.”

Damn it, he was so stupid!  That wasn’t what he wanted at all!  Well, okay, he did want Deadpool’s help with the investigation at some point, but that just wasn’t his priority right now.

“...Right.  The creepy doctor lady.  I hadn’t realized you wanted to do that tonight. I didn’t bring any of the recording equipment.  We can meet up tomorrow--”

“No!” Spider-Man cut him off.  “Tonight.  Please.  I can swing you over to where the equipment is.”

He was not going to part with Deadpool until he told him how he felt.

“...Okay then.  This apparently needs to be done tonight.”

“Yeah,” Spider-Man agreed, trying to sound upbeat, but it wasn’t easy when his stomach was in knots and he could tell Deadpool was annoyed with him.  This was a disaster and he should just cut his losses.

No. This could still work.  He’d have Deadpool help with checking out Dr. Eloise’s office and that would give him plenty of time to lighten the mood AND drop hints to Deadpool about his feelings.  If Deadpool seemed to react positively, then when they finished the investigation, Spider-Man could tell Deadpool how he felt about him.  And if Deadpool rejected him, well, at least they got the investigation thing done first so at least the night wouldn’t be completely ruined.

Well, first things first.

“Hop on,” he said as he crouched down.  “The Spidey-Taxi is about to take off.”

“You sure?” Deadpool asked even as he was climbing on Spider-Man’s back.

“Just point the way.”

Spider-Man stood, feeling Deadpool’s front pressed against his back.  Darn it.  He should have worn a cup.

***************************

They stopped at an apartment complex that was so run down it made Spider-Man feel like his own place was the Ritz.  Deadpool had Spider-Man wait on the roof while he shimmied down the fire escape and disappeared into a window halfway down the building.  A few minutes later, in an impressive feat of strength and acrobatics for anyone without spider abilities, Deadpool climbed back up to the roof with ease, his muscles visibly gliding under his suit.

No, he needed to focus!  He couldn’t just stare at Deadpool, no matter how much he wanted to be running his hands along that amazingly built chest.

“I don’t have the really good spy gear that Weasel would have, but this should be enough to bug a doctor’s office,” Deadpool said.

“I’m grateful for whatever you have.  I don’t have anything at all,” Spider-Man assured him.  “And I wouldn’t know the first thing about setting any of it up.”

Deadpool clambered onto his back and Spider-Man flicked his wrist to let out a shot of web.  Deadpool was uncharacteristically quiet on the way to the clinic, despite the few attempts Spider-Man made at starting a casual conversation.

This wasn’t going well, but at least they were just about there.

“Her office is the second one on the left,” he explained as he transported the two of them up the wall.

“So what’s the plan now?” Deadpool asked when they reached a large window.

“I was hoping you could pick the lock,” Spider-Man said.  Then he added, “When we broke into the drug dealer’s place, I was really impressed by how easily you picked that lock.”

“Oh, I see how it is.  You just love me--”

“Yes,” Spider-Man admitted, pleased that Deadpool had figured it out on his own, saving Spider-Man from having to bring it up himself, when he realized that Deadpool was still talking.

“--For my lock-picking abilities.”

Spider-Man blushed.  Why’d he have to be so awkward?  No, wait, he should say something about how that wasn’t the only reason… But he’d already let too much time pass, and if he said that now, it would sound weird, wouldn’t it?

As he pondered this, Deadpool was diligently picking the lock.

“It really is impressive watching you work,” Spider-Man tried again.

“I got SKILLZ!” Deadpool bragged.

This would have been a great time to move the conversation towards how much Spider-Man liked Deadpool, and not just his abilities.  Unfortunately, his mind went blank.  Before he could come up with something more to say, Deadpool had the window open.

“So are we going to look for the files or install the cameras first?” Deadpool asked him as they climbed into the office.

“Ah,” Spider-Man stuttered.  He hadn’t actually given it any thought and he struggled to turn his attention to what he’d told Deadpool was the reason he’d called him. Making it up as he spoke, he said, “I was thinking ‘divide and conquer’. You put up the spy equipment while I look through her files.  Because I know what I’m looking for and you don’t, and you know how to install that stuff and I don’t.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wished he could take them back.  With them working individually on their assigned tasks, Spider-Man had no idea how to go about telling Deadpool that he loved him.  After all, he couldn’t just blurt it out of nowhere!

But Deadpool was already setting up the equipment so Spider-Man had no choice but to start flipping through the files on the desk in search of any useful information.

After several minutes fruitlessly flipping through the papers on the desk and in the file cabinet, Spider-Man concluded that there didn’t seem to be anything to find.  With his search efforts a bust, he turned his attention back to Deadpool.  Since Deadpool was still unusually quiet, if Spider-Man wanted to have a conversation with him, he was going to have to start it himself.

“So where did you go when you left the hotel and what have you been up to since?”

The room practically dropped ten degrees with the dark aura emanating from Deadpool.

Uhoh.  Wrong question.  “--I take it you weren’t able to find out who was after you?”

“No, I found out.”

“You did?!” Spider-Man exclaimed.  “That’s great!”

“I found out,” Deadpool repeated.  “And there isn't a fucking thing I can do about it.”

“...Oh.”  Yeesh.  This whole line of dialogue was just pissing Deadpool off, the complete opposite of what Spider-Man was hoping to do with this conversation.  “So.  Um.  Who was it?”

“A group from my past.”

“Alright then.  So what’s the plan now?”   Damn it.  Why couldn't he get his mouth to shut up?!

“I’ll take care of it.”

“I want to help.”

“This doesn’t concern you.”

“It concerns me a lot, actually.  I mean.  They’ve been chasing after me too.”

“They’re only after you because they’re after me,” Deadpool declared.  “So the best thing to do is stay far away from me.  They won’t come after you if we’re not connected.”

But Spider-Man wanted to be connected with him!  “I’m a hero.  I’m not going to just run away and hide.”

“These guys aren’t the type of guys you can deal with. They’re big time. You’re small time”

“Excuse me?!” Spider-Man exclaimed, affronted.  The idea that Deadpool didn’t think he was much of a hero stung.  

“You deal with muggings and bar fights.  These guys are monsters.  Monsters who create other monsters.”

Spider-Man wanted to protest--he’d dealt with monsters in the past too, not even counting the aliens dropping out of the sky!  But he had a feeling he didn’t have anything in his past like Deadpool had.  

“Well I’m done.”

“Huh?”  Spider-Man looked over and realized that Deadpool had finished installing the spy gear.  That brought Spider-Man back down to the task at hand.  “Oh.  Yeah.  My side of our mission is pretty much a bust.  I can’t find anything.”

“Well, at least with these cameras installed you can keep an eye on her?”

“Yeah.”

“So.”

“So?”

“Unless there’s something else you need to do here…?”

There was.  Well, okay, there wasn’t anything he wanted to do here but this wasn’t all that he wanted to do.  Just not here.  

“Nope.  We’re all set,” Spider-Man found himself saying like a dumbass.

Well, he supposed he didn’t really want to confess his feelings inside the office.  He’d have that talk with Deadpool just as soon as they got outside...

*************************************************

“So what’s the next stop for the Spidey-Taxi?” Deadpool asked as they swung away from the clinic.

“Next stop is back to your place,” Spider-Man replied.

Deadpool tensed.  “My place? Why?”

Because Spider-Man still hadn’t had the conversation that he’d called Deadpool to have!  He answered instead, “You really helped me out tonight.  I figured taking you back home was the least I could do.  Besides, you’re already on board the Spidey-Taxi,” he added to lighten the mood.

“You don't need to.  Just drop me off here and I can walk the rest of the way.”

“It’s no trouble, really,” Spider-Man insisted.  Feeling like Deadpool wasn’t convinced, he added, “Besides, it’s an exceptionally cold March night, I’m in spandex, and you’re warm.  I want to keep you on my back for as long as I can.”

Deadpool chuckled.  “Well, since you insist, you can drop me off on the roof like before.”

A partial victory, but that wasn’t going to be enough.

“Actually,” Spider-Man swallowed.  Here it was, now or never… “I was hoping to come in for a bit.”

“Why?” Deadpool asked sharply.

And Deadpool was back in a bad mood.  Still, Spider-Man soldiered on.  “We should talk.”

“Talk?  As in capital ‘T’, talk?”

“Something like that.”

“Ohhhhh,” Deadpool said with understanding.  “Look, it’s okay.  You don't need to worry about it.  I get it.”

What was he talking about?  “It’s--” he started, but Deadpool cut him off.

“If you want to pretend it didn’t happen--”

“What didn--?”

“You’re young, hormones and all that shit.  Look, it's easy to get caught up in the moment and then fret about it later.”

Did Deadpool think he regretted their hookup?!  “No, wait, that's not--”

“You don’t need to let me down gently.”

“I'm not--”

“I totally get it.”

“That’s not--”

“We don’t need to let a little thing like a blowjob get in the way--”

“I’m in love with you!” Spider-Man blurted out.

“Bros before blows, am I right?  Wait, what?!”

Ugh!  That wasn’t at all how he’d wanted to say things, and now it was all messed up!  If he didn’t say anything else, maybe Deadpool would forget about it and Spider-Man could try again later.

“What did you say?” Deadpool quietly asked.

Yeah, there was no chance Deadpool was going to let this go now.  Well, he’d wanted Deadpool’s full attention; he had it now.  

He swallowed thickly, his mouth dry, but he forced himself to repeat, “I'm in love with you.”

There was an uncomfortably long silence before Deadpool sighed.

“Could you not right now?”

Spider-Man’s stomach knotted.  “What?”

“I know I’m a clown and all about the jokes and shit, but I’m just… I’m just not in a place where I can play around about this kind of thing.”

Deadpool sounded so worn down that Spider-Man’s chest ached in response.  

“Y-you think I’m joking about this?!”

Deadpool’s silence said it all.

Spider-Man swung them up to the nearest rooftop.  If he was going to do this, then he was going to face Deadpool and look him in the eye.  Well, in his masked face at least.

He set Deadpool down as soon as he landed.  He immediately felt the loss of Deadpool’s body heat and his whole body shivered.

Deadpool stood a few feet away, his arms tightly crossed against his chest.  Of all the reactions he’d imagined from his confession, angry disbelief was not one of them.

“I’m not joking!” Spider-Man insisted.

“You're in love with me?” Deadpool asked incredulously.

“Yes.”  He wasn’t sure at this point if he was shivering from the cold or from his nerves, but the end result was that his confession was about as uncool as possible, short of vomiting onto Deadpool.  And based on the flopping of his stomach, that very well could be next.  “I’m in love with you,” he repeated.  “I’ve only realized it recently, but I’ve been in love with you for a while.”

There was another lengthy moment of silence.

“You’re serious, aren't you?”

Spider-Man nodded.  “You make me laugh.  I can’t take my eyes off you.  You’re always on my mind.  And then, with what happened at the hotel…”

“Okaaaay,” Deadpool cut in.  “Yeah.  I guess we do need to talk.  But we’ll talk somewhere warmer.  My place isn't a good idea right now, but I've a friend who has a place near here.  I know he's not in town right now and he owes me.”

****************

Other than the directions to Deadpool’s friend’s place, neither of them said anything else as Spider-Man swung them through the city.  This was not at all how he’d thought his confession would go.  Sure, he’d only had the thinnest of hopes that Deadpool would joyfully exclaim that he was in love with Spider-Man too and they’d hug and kiss and then maybe something more than hugging and kissing, but mostly he’d thought of all the various ways he’d probably be rejected.  That Deadpool would tell him that he loved someone else, or that he just wasn’t attracted to a little guy like Spider-Man. Or, as irrational as it was, but he couldn’t stop imagining it, Deadpool would violently attack him while lobbing homophobic slurs, or, more likely, he’d just burst out laughing in his face that Spider-Man could possibly have taken his jokes seriously.

He never considered that Deadpool would just flat out not believe him.

Several uncomfortable minutes later, they got to the apartment, which was in a much nicer part of town than where either Spider-Man or Deadpool lived.  Spider-Man let out an involuntary, “Wow.”

“I am friends with the guy,” Deadpool insisted, defensively.  “I even have my own security code to get in.  379894373.  ‘DP WUZ HERE’,” he explained as he entered the numbers into the keypad.

“I didn't doubt that,”Spider-Man told him.  He was trying to sound sincere, but Deadpool didn’t seem to take it as such.

Deadpool let out a huff in reply.  

The door opened and Deadpool led him inside, down a hall, and into the main room.  The place was minimalistic and clean in such a way that it seemed unused more than the owner being a tidy person.  Still, there were a few homey, if unusual, touches.

“Why is there a giant target on the far wall?”

“My friend has a thing for projectiles.   It's a thing.  I keep telling him guns are better, but well… I guess even I gotta admit he's got uncanny aim with whatever he throws around.”  Deadpool shrugged.  “ Anyway, make yourself comfortable.  I’ll get us some drinks.”

Spider-Man eyed the couch but remained standing.  Deadpool went into the kitchen.

“What can I fix for you?”  Deadpool called out as he opened the fridge door.

Spider-Man’s first instincts were to demur, but his mouth was very dry.  “A glass of water, please.”

“Sure you don't want anything stronger?  Something to warm you up?  There's a well stocked liquor cabinet.”

“Just water,” he repeated.

“Suit yourself.”

As he listened to Deadpool preparing the drinks, Spider-Man sat down for fear if he didn’t, he’d start pacing.  The waiting was killing him.

******************************

Deadpool’s hands were shaking as he tried to pour liquor into a glass.  He had already rejected using a shotglass as not being sufficient, but the way his hands were shaking, the glass wasn’t going to work either.

“Fuck this,” he muttered to himself and took a deep chug straight from the bottle.

He’s not going to like that.

“One, fuck him, he owes me.  Two, it’s not like he’ll fucking know.”

“What was that?” Spider-Man called from the living room.

“I said do you want ice with that?” Deadpool called back.

“Um. No thank you.”

Shit. What was he going to do?  Spidey was sitting over there and Deadpool was going to have to go out and talk with him.  Like for real, legit, have a Talk.

You know, he could legitimately have feelings for you.

“Ha.  No chance of that.”

For a good kid like Spider-Man, messing around with someone had to mean something.  And since Spider-Man had let his hormones get the better of him, he had convinced himself it was love.

No, what really stunk about this situation was that he desperately, desperately, wished it could be true, that Spider-Man could actually be in love with him.

But he had to be the responsible one here and rather than let Spider-Man keep believing it, he had to convince Spider-Man that it really was okay to have sex with someone and not even like them, let alone love them.

He took another large gulp from the bottle before he poured more into the glass to hide from Spider-Man the fact that he had just been chugging booze from the bottle.

He went back into the living room and handed Spider-Man the glass of water then sat down on the other side of the couch.

Spider-Man rolled his mask up past his mouth and sipped at his water for a moment before setting it down on a coaster on the end table next to him.

“So--” Spider-Man started.

Deadpool cut him off.  “Look, I get that the state of education in this country sucks, and that whole ‘used-gum’ lecture is pretty gross, but I promise you, your virtue has not been tarnished by being with me.  You are not a used piece of gum or a cup that everyone has spat in, and someday a pretty little thing will still want to marry you.”

“I’m not worried about tha--” Spider-Man started, but Deadpool cut him off again.

“Nor does it make you obligated by honor to marry me.  You don’t need to persuade yourself that you must be in love with me for letting your hormones get a little out of control once--”

“Twice,” Spider-Man interrupted.

“--The one time we hooked up--” Deadpool tried again.

Two times.”

“Sphincter say what?”

Two times,” Spider-Man repeated.

He’s supposed to say ‘What?’!

Eh, that joke’s before his time.

“Okay, I don’t know what fantasies of me you got going on-- and by all means, tell me, I could use more wank fodder-- But we only got busy once.”

Twice.”

Just because he keeps repeating it doesn’t make it any more true.

“I’ll say!  I think I would remember if we had hooked up before the blowjob at the hotel!”

“Would you?” Spider-Man pointedly asked.

“Of course I--”

Spider-Man crossed his arms and glared over at him.

What is he talking about?  When could we possibly have--

How about the time we had our head blown up and we spent about a week dead and captured, and had the prior few days erased from our memory?

Well, shit.  That could do it.

“...We hooked up right before I got captured, didn’t we?  And then when you came to meet me, I was gone.”

Spider-Man nodded.

That explains so much about how Spider-Man reacted at the hotel.

It really did.  “Shit, Spidey, had I known--”

Spider-Man waved him off.  “It’s okay.  I get it now.  At the time… Well, at the time I was too busy resisting the notion that I was attracted to guys to analyse why I was so devastated when you disappeared.”

And now?

And now he somehow thinks he’s in love with us.

Damn.  That must have been some incredibly awesome sex we had.

“It’s not fair!  I don’t remember any of it.  I want a do-over!”

“...That’s kinda the idea,” Spider-Man said as he slid up against Deadpool.  He brought his hand up to cup Deadpool’s face and angled his head before leaning in for a kiss.

He--He’s kissing us?!

Deadpool eagerly returned the kiss.

We haven’t figured out this whole ‘Spider-Man thinks he’s in love with us’ thing.

Oh who cares about that right now?  He’s making out with us!

Spider-Man reclined backwards onto the couch and Deadpool let himself be pulled down on top of him.

I like where this is going.

Damn, Spider-Man’s getting frisky with us.

He certainly was; Spider-Man used their new position to wrap a leg around Deadpool and pull him closer.  Then Spider-Man wrapped his arms around Deadpool’s torso and ran his hands up and down Deadpool’s back before tentatively sliding them a bit lower.

Is he…?  Oh my fucking god, he is!  Spider-Man is grabbing our ASS!  Spider-Man is totally grabbing our ass!

Deadpool gave an enthusiastic “mmhmm!” to let Spider-Man know that he was fully in favor to this course of action.  Spider-Man got the message and continued to grope Deadpool’s ass.

The one downside to their current position, though, was that Deadpool was unable to return the favor.  He had lusted after Spider-Man’s ass so much it would be have been a dream come true to finally get to touch it.

You did touch it… that time we don’t really remember.  If our dreams of it are actually true, we did totally got a handful of that butt.

Maybe, but it was no fair happening when he couldn’t really remember it.  Still, he wasn’t going to say no to Spider-Man touching his ass.  In fact, he didn’t think there was much Spider-Man would ask that Deadpool would say no to.  After all, thousands of dreams were coming true as Spider-Man drew his hands along Deadpool’s waistline.

Deadpool lifted his hips to give Spider-Man access to his front.  Spider-Man fumbled for a moment before unhooking Deadpool’s belt.  When it came loose, Deadpool grabbed it and dropped it with a thud onto the ground.  With the belt out of the way, Spider-Man brought his hands to the small of Deadpool’s back and pulled him back down against Spider-Man’s body.

Red alert!  Danger!  Spider-Man’s hands are going up our shirt!  Abort!  Abort!

What’s the deal? He might notice how weird our skin feels, but it’s not like he can see it.

The deal is the fact that we’re still covered in dried blood and brain matter from your brilliant idea to repeatedly shoot our brains out!

Oh.  Oh shit.

Yeah.  That’s right.  Forgot about that little detail, didn’t you?

Deadpool sat up, pulling out of Spider-Man’s embrace.

“Wade?” Spider-Man asked with concern.

“I-- I--” Deadpool stammered as he stood up.  

Shower!

Run away.  Or shoot him.

“--Shower!” Deadpool burst out.  “I gotta shower!”

“A shower?  You don’t need to take a cold shower.  You had to notice I’m hard too.  I mean, that’s kinda the point of what we’re doing, right?”

“I’m not-- I didn’t think-- I wasn’t expecting-- I just… I need a shower.”

“Oh,” Spider-Man answered, clearly confused.  “Do you…” he paused, took a deep breath, then tried again.  “Do you maybe want to shower together?”

Oh did he!

Blood.  Brains.

Our disgusting face.

“Rain check on that one, maybe?”

Deadpool hesitated, drinking in the sight of Spider-Man, propped up on his elbows but otherwise spread out across the couch.  His mask lifted to expose his mouth, his lips slightly parted and red from their heavy kissing.  His spandex was tented from his erection.  It was a sight Deadpool would burn into his brain so he’d never forget.  “Just… stay like that.  Just like that.”

With that final look, he turned and disappeared into the bathroom, locking the door behind him.

************************************

Having dried himself off, Deadpool made liberal use of the very expensive bottle of lotion that was on the sink counter.

This is totally the princess’.

Oh totally.

They’re gonna kill us for using this stuff up.

Eh, it’ll be fine.  Besides, we need the moisturizer.

It would help with some of his chapped skin, and would give him a pleasant fragrance, but there was nothing to help disguise the cancerous lumps and scars that covered his body.  Nothing but his slightly-soiled uniform.  He wished he had thought of grabbing some fresh clothes from the bedroom, but he didn’t think of it until it was too late.  Oh well, it was what he had, so he put it back on.

That’s assuming Spider-Man hasn’t high-tailed it out of here yet.  How much you wanna bet he’s long gone?

No bet.

Deadpool sighed and opened the door.  He half suspected that the narrative boxes in his head were right: Spider-Man had probably gotten weirded out by Deadpool’s abrupt departure and left, and even if he had stayed, he probably wasn’t interested in sexy fun times anymore.

But what he saw exceeded anything he could have imagined.  It was so unexpected that Deadpool stopped and gawked, completely unable to process what he was seeing, other than one completely stunning fact.

“You’re naked.”

“You’re not,” the familiar voice of Spider-Man returned.

Deadpool had seen Spider-Man naked before-- That wasn’t the shocking part.  He had gotten rather intimately familiar with Spider-Man’s naked form when he’d bathed him after Spider-Man’s injury.  No, Spider-Man’s nudity wasn’t what had Deadpool’s brain short-circuiting.  That was surprising but not shocking.

The fact that Spider-Man wasn’t wearing his mask was, however.

The young man who stood before Deadpool was perhaps a few years older than he expected.  Maybe about twenty-five.  He didn’t look quite as skeletal as when Deadpool had seen him a few weeks ago.  He’d clearly put back a few of the pounds he had lost, though his cheeks were still a bit hollow and he had bags under his eyes.  That said, he did have rather lovely eyes: a warm, chocolate brown that were filled with such kindness.

Perhaps, objectively, Deadpool was aware that the young man in front of him wouldn’t be considered beautiful.  He was certainly no model or movie star-- but then, neither was Deadpool-- but he kept staring at Deadpool with such a trusting gaze, with those warm, beautiful eyes of his, looking at him as if Deadpool deserved that trust.

Oh my god. Why has he taken off his mask?  Why is he showing US his FACE?!

How could he possibly trust us enough to take everything off?

“You’re naked,” Deadpool repeated awkwardly.

“And you’re not.”

And why does he keep repeating the obvious?

He expected us to come out of the bathroom naked too.

Why would we do that?  Nobody wants to see that.  We're hideous.

Deadpool looked over at Spider-Man.  He was blushing from head to toe and he had his head turned away and his shoulders hunched.

“Aaand I totally misread things and am completely embarrassing myself, aren’t I?” Spider-Man said dejectedly.

Shit, we’re blowing it!

Not yet, we’re not--

DON’T DICK AROUND, ASSHOLE!  HE FUCKING TOOK OFF HIS MASK FOR US!

“Your mask.  Why would you take your mask off?  Why would you show someone like me your face?”

Spider-Man turned his head back towards Deadpool to look him in the eye as he explained, “It was the only way I was sure I could convince you of how serious I am.  I love you.”

“Well, you’ve convinced me that you’re convinced.”

“Well, that’s some progress, I guess,” Spider-Man conceded.  “Look, I don’t mean to pressure you or anything, but it's getting really awkward being the only one naked here.”

“Baby, you really don't want to see what's under here.”

“I really do.”

This is a bad idea.  A really bad idea.

This would probably end whatever little thing they had going on, but he did owe it to Spider-Man for his trust.

“Could you close your eyes?  This is going to be hard enough for me without turning it into a parody of a strip show.”

You don't know; that might actually help.

“Oh!” Spider-Man exclaimed and immediately closed his eyes.

Even with Spider-Man’s eyes closed, Deadpool still turned around so his back was to him.  With a deliberate slowness, Deadpool undressed.  Only after everything else was off did Deadpool remove his mask, throwing it on top of the pile of clothes at his feet.

He is totally going to get sick at the sight of us.

It would have been nice to have had some sexy fun times first.

“Last chance to back out of this,” Deadpool warned.

“I’m not backing out.”

Not wanting to see the look of revulsion across the face of the guy he liked, Deadpool closed his eyes tight before he turned around.  “Okay then. You can look.”

Spider-Man gasped.

You made the right call with keeping your eyes closed.

“Does it… hurt?” Spider-Man asked from right in front of him.

Deadpool’s eyes flew open.  He hadn’t expected Spider-Man to be so close!  With his eyes now open he saw that Spider-Man’s expression was one of concern, not disgust.

“Does it hurt?” Spider-Man asked again.

Only every moment of every day.

“Can I touch you?” he asked, his hand raised out, hovering inches from Deadpool’s chest.

He wants… to touch us?

Morbid fascination?

“Or will it hurt…?”

Deadpool shook his head.  “It’s fine.”

Oh it WILL hurt.  Because it always hurts.

But that’s a small price for being touched.

Spider-Man lightly ran his hand across Deadpool’s chest.  “I never realized it covered your entire body.”

“Spidey, I--”

“Peter,” Spider-Man broke in.  “My name is Peter.  Peter Parker.”

His name!  He just told us his name!

“I wanna kiss you,” Deadpool breathed out.

“Nothing would make me happier,” Spider-Man--no, Peter--replied.

Deadpool lowered his head down and Peter stood on tip-toe to lift his up, bringing their mouths together.  It was gentle at first, more hesitant than anything else. But with a slip of the tongue, Peter deepened the kiss and soon they were making out just as passionately as they had been before the shower.

Well mostly.  It wasn’t quite so easy making out while standing with their height difference.  Deadpool wondered if it might be better if he picked Peter up and held him as they kissed, but it appeared that he wasn’t the only one with that idea. Deadpool let out a ‘meep’ as Peter pressed his forearms under Deadpool’s butt and lifted.

Deadpool was NOT a small man; he was tall and he was solidly built.  He was sitting on Peter’s arms, hunched over so they could keep kissing while Peter carried him.  All told, it was a rather awkward and top-heavy position and it was a wonder that Peter could even maintain it, let alone with so little effort.

Fuck, that’s hot.

Oh yeah.

Peter set Deadpool down so he was sitting on the couch, then brought his arms up to brace them on the back of the couch on either side of Deadpool’s shoulders.  There was little time to mourn the loss of Peter’s hands on his ass, because immediately after setting him down, Peter swung his leg over and climbed onto Deadpool’s lap, straddling him. Deadpool was impressed that Peter managed the whole maneuver without letting up on the kissing.

They made out like that for a while.  Deadpool let his hands trail up Peter’s back, learning every inch of his body through touch.  Peter’s skin was smooth compared to Deadpool’s, but it was also not without scars.  Deadpool lingered on the most recent, the bullet hole in Peter’s shoulder.

Peter broke off the kiss.

“Does it hurt?” Deadpool asked.

“Not really,” Peter replied.

So it does still hurt.

“I’m sorry,” Deadpool said.

Peter shook his head.  “I’m fine now.”

I’ll say!  Even more than ‘fine’.  He’s no supermodel, sure, but he’s selling himself short on just ‘fine’.

You could even say he’s ‘hot’.  At least, ‘hot to trot’.

Hmm?  Oh I see what you mean.

“Excited, maybe?” Deadpool supplied.

“Huh?”

Deadpool lowered his gaze down at Peter’s erection.

Peter blushed.

Fuck me, he is so adorable when he blushes!

“So what do you want to do about it?” Deadpool slyly asked, trailing his hands along Peter’s thighs, one hand inching in.

Taking a deep breath, Peter blurted out, “I’m not ready for sex.”

Deadpool immediately lifted his hands up off of Peter’s thighs and held them up.

“What are you…?”

“You just said no sex,” Deadpool explained.

“Oh.  No.  That’s not… I mean,” Peter stuttered.  “Darn it.  I must seem like a total tease right now.  Getting naked, climbing into your lap, and then not wanting sex… I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to be sending such mixed signals.”

“It’s fine,” Deadpool assured him.

He must have finally come to his senses about how disgusting we look.

Deadpool really didn’t want to think about that.

“It’s just… before we get too far, I should lay out my limits.  And that's my limit right now.  I’m not ready for any... penetration.”

So no sex, but yes kissing?  I can live with that.

So it looks like we’ll be taking that cold shower after all.

But we’ll enjoy all the naked making out before then.

“So just kissing or do you want a little friction action down there?” Deadpool asked.

“Maybe with our hands...?”

“Whatever you want, baby,” Deadpool readily agreed.  “But you do realize that if there's an orgasm involved, you are having sex?  Hand jobs are still sex.”

“Oh shut up,” Peter grumbled.  “Do you want to argue semantics or do you want to start with the friction?”

“Both,” Deadpool started but was cut off by a forceful kiss from Peter.

We could learn to like being made to shut up this way.

Despite the fact that Peter had suggested some use of hands on their happy fun sticks, he was exclusively kissing, so Deadpool followed his lead.

Better to let him make the next move.

That was the idea, at least, but certain parts of him had other ideas.  Peter gave a little jolt of alarm as little Wade got a little too familiar with Peter’s ass.

Shit.  He’s willing to make out with us but the one thing he says no to and your dick has to go and get all up in his business.

“Oh, sorry.  That wasn’t intentional.”

“I know.”

“I didn’t mean to.  I wasn't…”

“No, I know you weren't.”

It’s great that he’s being so understanding about this, but at this rate, your dick is just going to keep bumping up against his ass.

“You might want to shift positions a little,” Deadpool suggested.

“Good idea,” Peter agreed.

Deadpool expected Peter to climb off his lap, but Peter had other--better--ideas.  He shifted back enough so he wasn’t sitting over Deadpool’s cock.  Gingerly Peter slid their bodies so their dicks were rubbing against each other.

Very good idea,” Deadpool groaned.

Peter smirked.  “Thought you might like that.”

*****************************

Peter couldn’t quite get one hand around both of their cocks at once.  He used both hands for a while, enjoying the feel of their dicks rubbing together.  Unfortunately, their height difference meant that when Peter lifted his hips in order to resume kissing Wade, their dicks were no longer close enough to jerk together.  Peter kept his hand on Wade’s cock, ignoring his own for the time being, but before he had done more than a few strokes, Wade was returning the favor.

They kept at that for a while, mutually jerking each other off while making out.  Before long, his kissing devolved into just mouthing vaguely in the general area of Wade’s lips and then even that was too difficult to maintain.  He was so close.

Peter started to draw back.  Wade’s hand clamped forcefully onto his upper arm.

“Don’t.”

Peter froze.  Shit.  Had he done something wrong?

“Just… Just don’t look, okay?”

He gave the barest of nods and Wade loosened his grip on his arm.  Peter kept his head pressed against Wade’s shoulder and returned to stroking him.

Deadpool’s hand on Peter’s dick stilled and then his grip tightened as his body tensed.  Peter felt the hot splash as Wade came onto his chest.  That shouldn’t be as sexy as it was, particularly with Wade’s death-grip on Peter’s dick, but somehow it was.  Peter involuntarily jerked his hips forward into Wade’s palm and came as well.

They sat like that for a moment, catching their breaths.

After a few lazy moments had passed, Peter sat up so he could get a read on Wade’s expression.  The whole ‘don’t look’ thing had kinda freaked him out a little.  Wade was looking a little perturbed.

“You came,” he accused.

“Yeah…?” Peter replied uncertainly.  Was that wrong?  Was there some sort of gay guy protocol he didn’t follow?

Wade pouted. “But I wanted to see your ‘O’ face!”

Peter rolled his eyes.  “Okay, first of all, hypocrite.  Secondly, there will be plenty of chances for you to see my ‘o’ face.”

“Oh re-e-e-ally?” Wade sing-songed.  “You aiming to have another dive in the ‘Pool?”

“Dude, I’m a twenty-four year old guy who just discovered that I do have a sex drive when I’m getting it on with the gender that I’m actually attracted to and not the one I thought I was supposed to be attracted to.  Let’s just say I plan on putting our healing factors to the test tonight.  Wanna bet on which of us has the shortest recovery time?”

“I love you,” Deadpool gushed.

“I know that's just the serotonin talking, but I'll take it. How about I get us a damp washcloth to clean up with while you decide if you’re taking me up on that bet?”

 

Chapter Text

Issue 29: Waking Up Beside You

Peter was engulfed in comfort. He wasn’t ready to be awake.  He snuggled in deeper and let awareness creep in gradually.  First, he was in a bed that was much softer and more comfortable than his own.  Second, there was someone in bed with him, and he was cuddled up against that someone.  Third, the someone whose arm he was using as a pillow was Deadpool.

Right.  Wade.

The events of the past night--and day--filtered through his head.  Peter’s face broke out in what was probably the biggest, dopiest smile he’d ever smiled. He cracked his eyes open to find that Wade was already awake and was gazing intently at him, his hairless brows furrowed in concern.

What was wrong?

“Morning,” Peter murmured cautiously.

“Morning,” Wade warily replied, his whole body tensed and ready for flight.

Wade seemed to be waiting to see what Peter was going to do, having woken up next to him.  Was he afraid Peter would regret hooking up with him?  That Peter would kick him out?  That was it...wasn't it?

What sort of people had Wade been sleeping with that even after Peter had confessed his love for him and then spent an entire day and a half with him, Wade was still afraid Peter would kick him out ‘the morning after’?!

Peter rolled over, pulling Wade with him, shifting until their positions were reversed so that Peter was now the one holding Wade.  If anything, Wade’s tension seemed to increase in response.

“Relax, Wade, I gotcha,” Peter murmured, drawing him closer so he could plant a light kiss on Wade’s forehead.

The crease in Wade’s brows unfurrowed, and bit by bit the tension eased out of the rest of his body as he relaxed into Peter’s arms.

They stayed like that for a few minutes before Peter broke the silence.  “Did you get any sleep?”

“You know what, I actually did!” Wade responded cheerfully.

Peter wasn’t sure if it was forced cheer or genuine, but he hoped it was an indication that Wade was feeling more at ease again.

“Even I zonk out after a night and day full of sex-capades,” Wade continued. “And I even slept pretty solid, no nightmares or anything.”

“Good.”  Peter had also slept well.  He felt more rested than he had since… well probably since he’d become Spider-Man!  He must have gotten a full night’s sleep.  He lifted his head slightly and looked around for the clock.  He couldn’t see it.  “What time is it?”

“Almost nine,” Wade informed him.

“Dang... I've been asleep for almost 11 hours,” Peter noted.   

“Yeah, well, a night and day full of sex-capades will do that to you, too.”

Peter grinned for a moment before a jolt of panic flashed through him.  “Wait! Almost nine?!  Gotta get the computer! This is about the time that Dr. Cori gets into the office!” Peter flew off the bed, dumping Wade off of him.

“You didn't worry about that yesterday,” Wade noted.  He propped his head onto his arm, but he otherwise stayed in bed as Peter dug through their pile of stuff to find his laptop.

“Yeah, because yesterday was her day off,” Peter responded.

Wade pouted.  “I’m hurt and offended that you have her schedule memorized and not mine!”

“Wade, you don't have a schedule,” Peter retorted without looking up.  The laptop was, of course, at the bottom of the pile.

He carried it over to the bed and made a scootching motion to get Wade to make some room for him on the bed.  Wade moved up the bed until his back was against the headboard.  Peter went to sit next to him, but Wade threw an arm around him and pulled him into his lap. He reached around Peter with his other arm to turn on the laptop.  

It wasn’t the only thing to get a bit turned on.  Peter was hyper-aware of every part of his body that was in contact with Wade’s, particularly since, in this position, he could feel Wade’s crotch snug against his backside.  Even after a day and a half…!  God, he had it so bad for Wade.  He hoped his blush wasn’t too obvious.

It took a few moments for the computer and then the program to get started, and even after that, they watched an empty room on the screen for another few minutes before anything happened.

Eventually, Eloise came into her office. She went immediately to the cameras and turned off each one. A knot formed in Peter's stomach as she reached toward the final camera. The video feed went dark.

Peter stared at the black screen, too stunned to react.  Weeks of planning…gone.  All that work, all that time...wasted.  All of that effort...for nothing!

He'd go through and check the previous 36 hours of footage to be sure she hadn’t gone into her office on her day off, but he didn't think there was going to be anything there.

“Well, that was a whole lotta nothing,” Peter muttered.

“Actually, that told us a lot.”

“Really? What? That we wasted a bunch of cameras?” Peter bitterly questioned.

“No, that she's got security on the place, too. She knew not only that the cameras were there, but exactly where they were. That means she's got some recording devices in her office already and that means we can tap into her feeds. I'll need to get ahold of Weasel, but with his help we should be able to link in.”

Peter felt a glimmer of hope.  “So we’re not back at the start with nothing?”

“Nope.  Sure, that’s a bit of a setback, baby, but we can work with this.  We’ll get some more supplies and some of Weasel’s expertise, and we’ll be back in action in a few days.  And, depending on what Weasel can do with that feed, possibly in an even better position than if your original plan had worked.”

“A few days?” Peter questioned, trying not to sound as disappointed as he felt.  This investigation kept getting delayed...

Wade reached around Peter and grabbed his phone, his thumb a flurry of tapping on the screen.  When he’d finished whatever he was doing on it, he tossed his phone off to the side.  “There.  I texted Weasel.  He’ll give me a call when he’s got things ready for us.  But he doesn’t wake up before noon, so we’re gonna have to wait some, no matter what.”  

With that reassurance that everything was going to be okay, that they weren’t going to be set back too much, Peter tried to will his anxiety away.  Maybe a bit of a wait wasn’t too bad.  He certainly had an idea of how he’d like to spend the day. Though…after a full day and half, if he suggested another round, would that make him seem too… desperate?  Slutty?  Sex-addicted?  Would he annoy Wade by wanting more?  Was Wade going to be bored if they kept doing the same thing?

Peter leaned back against Wade, and let his hands trail up Wade’s legs.  They were hairless, but the various scars, bumps, and lumps meant his legs weren’t smooth, particularly as the lumps moved.  Wade had been self-conscious about that, but Peter found it fascinating.  Even when Wade was sitting still, he was always in motion.

“Are you just fidgeting, baby, or are you trying to start something?”

“Trying to start something,” Peter admitted.  Then his stomach rumbled loudly.

“Sounds like maybe it’s time to start some food,” Wade noted.

“I guess it is time for breakfast,” Peter conceded.

“Want me to make more pancakes?” Wade offered.

“Tempting.” And it was.  Wade's pancakes, Peter had learned, were amazing. “But we passed by a place when we were coming in that was advertising breakfast burritos, and I've been craving them ever since. I'm going to go pick some up. I'll be right back.”

He got out of the bed and slipped on the clothing he’d borrowed yesterday from Wade's friend’s dresser.

Peter had an ulterior motive for wanting to go out, but he did legitimately want the breakfast burritos.  He grinned.  He couldn’t wait to go so he could be back already.

“Hey hold on a sec.” Wade clambered out of the bed.  “Let me find something to put on and I'll go with you.”

“No, that's okay,” Peter said quickly.  “I'll be right back.”

“Aww, come on, it’ll be fun.  A little date, y’know?”

“You can't!”

Wade stopped and turned to look over at Peter, his eyes hard.  “Can't?”

Peter swallowed thickly.  He felt miserable but continued, “You can't. You can't walk around me when I'm Peter. I've got a secret identity, you don't. People know who you are both in and out of your Deadpool suit. You can't walk around with me when I'm Peter. If people see you all the time with Spider-Man and then see you with someone who's the same size and shape as Spider-Man, they're going to put two and two together. They're going to figure out that I'm Spider-Man. I can't walk around with you like that. I’m sorry, Wade.”

“Whatever.” Wade slumped back onto the bed, his arms crossed, displeasure radiating off him.

“I'll make it up to you,” Peter promised, thinking of the second errand he planned on doing.

Turning his back to Peter, Wade grumbled, “Sure.”

Peter wasn’t sure what to say to that.  He took a step towards Wade and then stopped.  There wasn’t anything he could think of to say that would make the situation any better.  He’d just have to get back quickly, that was all.

*****************************

Peter hurried through his errands as quickly as he could, terrified that he’d get back to the apartment to find Wade gone.  He was regretting letting Wade out of his sight, particularly after their brief argument.  Wade was going to be gone, he just knew it.

His trepidation grew with each step. He ran down the hall towards the apartment. At the door, his hands were shaking. He had to type in the entry code three times before it finally engaged. The knot in his stomach didn't lessen with the sound of Wade's voice or even the sight of him across the room, standing there in borrowed boxers and his mask. Peter needed to touch Wade to know that he was real, that he was truly still there.

Dropping the bags he was carrying on the floor, he ran across the room, taking the last few yards in a giant leap to land on top of Wade.  It was only after they crashed onto the floor that Peter realized that tackling the guy he'd maybe just started dating after only being away from him for thirty minutes looked a little desperate. Okay, really desperate.  And to make it worse, Wade was back in his Deadpool mask.  It had to be his fault that Wade was feeling self-conscious again.  Peter buried his head in Wade's chest, afraid to look up and see what Wade thought of all of this.

Wade shifted under him, and continued the conversation that Peter only then realized that he'd been having this whole time. “Weaze, I've got to let you go. Yeah, something’s coming up.”  With a little more shifting, Wade dropped his arm flat out onto the floor, the phone skittering out of his hand.

“Soo... have you been stuck in a hell dimension for years that's actually only been thirty minutes in real time?  No wait, I know! You're actually a Peter from the future and you’re coming here now because it’s the only time that you know you can actually see me--but I gotta warn you alternate Pete, my Pete is coming back here any moment now, so you’ll have to share. But, that’s okay, because I’ve always dreamed about being in a Spidey sandwich.  FYI, my safeword is ‘taco’.”

Peter snorted.  He sat up and mock-apologized, “Sorry to burst your fantasies, Wade, but I am your actual Peter, not one from the future.”

“Oh! Oh I know! You were knocked unconscious and someone put a fake newspaper next to you, making you think it’d been twenty years. I had that happen to me once.  Okay, twice,” Wade conspiratorially whispered the last part.

“I just… I was just afraid that when I got back here, you’d be gone,” Peter admitted, quietly.

Lifting himself up onto his elbows, Wade noted dryly, “Trying to get rid of me, are you?”

“No, it’s… I was afraid that you’d leave.”  He was shaking again, but he couldn’t help it.  “We just had a bit of an argument…” God, now his eyes were watering and his voice was cracking.  “And after last time…”

“Oh, hey, Spi--Pete!” Wade sat up fully and threw his arms around Peter, drawing him into a tight embrace.  “It’s okay now, baby.  I’m here.  I’m not going anywhere.  I’m here.”

Wade pulled Peter into his lap and rocked him slightly as he held him.

“Really?” Peter asked.

“Yeah.”

“Will you… Will you take off your mask again?”  He wouldn't be fully at ease until the Deadpool mask was off and he could see Wade’s face.

Wade tensed.

“Please?” Peter entreated.

Wade removed his mask.  “There.  Happy now?”

Peter answered by embracing Wade tightly.

“Alright, alright, Pete.  I got ya.  It’s alright now,” Wade murmured as he returned the embrace.

They sat like that until Peter’s stomach loudly growled again and interrupted the tender moment.

“So, hey, about that breakfast you went out to get…?”

“I dropped the bag of burritos in the entryway, I think.”

“Will you be okay if I go get the food?”

“Yeah,” Peter sighed.  “I’m better now.”

“Are you sure?  After all, I might be gone for a whole thirty seconds.”

Peter looked sharply at Wade.  His grin was teasing, not mocking, but it was too soon for that sort of joke.  Peter frowned.

Wade must have realized he’d crossed a line with his joke.  He put his hands up and quickly exclaimed, “I kid, I kid!”

“Well, don’t,” Peter replied sharply.

“I’m sorry.”

The apology was sincere enough that it mollified Peter’s temper.  “It’s fine.”

Wade planted a light kiss on Peter’s forehead, then lifted him up off his lap.  “Alright, I’ll be right back.”  He stood up and started across the room.

“Yeah-- No!  Wait!” Peter scrambled to his feet.  “I’ll go get the food.”

Wade looked at him with suspicious puzzlement.

“Why don’t you grab some plates and napkins?” Peter suggested.  Without waiting for an answer Peter slipped past Wade to the entryway and grabbed not only the bag of burritos, but also the little bag from his second stop at the pharmacy.  He stripped himself down to boxers to match Wade and to hide the pharmacy bag in among the clothes in his hand.  He dropped the clothes onto the floor just into the bedroom and passed the bag of breakfast burritos to Wade, who divided them up onto two plates.

They had a pleasant breakfast, with delicious food, and conversation on the sixth season of Clone Wars and what it meant for Revenge of the Sith.  Just about any other time, this would have been everything Peter would have wanted in a morning: good food, good company, good conversation.  But right now, he couldn’t wait for breakfast to be over.

“What’s the rush, Fidgety McFidgerson?” Wade asked.

“Well, you know how, before my stomach demanded food, I’d been trying to ‘start something’?”

Wade grinned.  “Okay, but we should probably ‘start’ by washing hands.  Hot sauce on one’s naughty bits is really, really not comfortable, trust me.”

“I wouldn’t say no to a dab of toothpaste even if I have to use my fingers to brush,” Peter confessed.  “I feel like my breath could probably peel paint right now.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything…” Wade joked.

“Jerk,” Peter replied and playfully gave Wade a light shove.

Wade retaliated by tripping Peter, and from there, their mock fighting quickly devolved into full contact hand and face washing.  Despite the pushing, shoving, tickling, and other methods of wrestling, they managed to clean up from breakfast, strip off their boxers, and move back over to the bed.

Peter pushed Wade down onto the bed.  He reached into his pile of clothes and pulled out the bag from his second errand.

“What’s that?” Wade wondered.

“It just so happens that while I was out, I also picked up... THIS!” Peter flourished a condom package.

He had expected Wade to make a dirty joke or something, but he just looked... surprised.

“A condom?  But I thought... you weren’t ready for…”

“Oh.  No.  That is, I’m not.  Not ready for THAT.” Peter should have realized that he’d give Wade the wrong idea just flashing the condoms without any context.  He tried again. “I was thinking... Well, here, just look at the wrapper.”  He passed the condom over to Wade.

“Magnum condoms, large, latex-free, Strawberry flav-- Oh ho!  Now I see!  That’s so cute, Baby Boy, but it’s not needed.” Wade licked his lips and grinned lasciviously.  “I quite enjoyed the taste of you.”

Peter flushed.  “No, that is.  It’s for me.  I mean, it is for you.  But, that is, for you to wear…”  

He thought Wade was going to be thrilled, but Wade was frowning rather than smiling.

“You do realize I’m offering you a blowjob?” Peter asked, his tone light and teasing, with just a hint of worry edging in.

Wade wouldn’t meet his eyes.

Peter frowned.  This wasn’t going at all the way he’d been fantasizing.  “What’s wrong?  I thought you’d be excited... Unless… my lack of experience…”

“Pete, even with a condom to cover the skin, it doesn’t change how lumpy and gross I am,” Wade muttered.

Well, that was ridiculous.  “I’ve been kissing and touching your body all over for the last day and a half, Wade,” he pointed out.  “I don’t think you’re gross.”

Wade shook his head.  “Yeah, well, my neck, or shoulder, or hand… that’s not my dick.  Even with a condom, you don’t want that thing in your mouth.”

This wasn’t going right at all.  Peter just wasn’t doing a very good explaining.  He needed to start at the beginning.  “Back at the hotel, you gave me a blow job, right?  It was amazing.  Incredible.  When I was done, you still had an erection, right?  You went into the bathroom to take care of it.  You told me not to worry about it, but I did.  I wanted to return the favor.  So I went to the bathroom--”

Wade cut in, “And I waved my gun at you, terrified you, and sent you running up to the roof in the middle of winter with nothing but a robe on.  Yeah.  I remember that,” Wade said darkly.

“Yeah, okay, so maybe things didn’t work out then,” Peter admitted, “but the point is, I’ve been wanting to return the favor since--”

“You don’t need to ‘return the favor’,” Wade snapped.  “Just because I blew you doesn’t mean you have to blow me back.”

“I know I don’t have to.  But I want to.  I’ve been fantasizing about blowing you for weeks now--”

“I bet in your fantasies my dick didn’t look like a topographical map of Utah.”

Okay, Peter had to concede that it was true he hadn’t expected the full extent of Wade’s skin condition, but once he knew that touching Wade didn’t hurt him, Peter wanted to touch him!

Peter pushed Wade down.  “I said I wanted to blow you and I mean it!”

Wade shifted his left leg, moving it to the other side of Peter so that Peter was now sitting between Wade’s legs.  “Fine.  If you’re so insistent that you want to do this, go ahead and do it!” Wade challenged.

It was time for Peter to put the money where his mouth was.  Or, more aptly in this case, his mouth where the dick was.  

He leaned down, opened his mouth, and faltered.

“HA!” Wade exclaimed.

Damn.

“I knew you were forcing yourself!”

Peter leaned back onto his feet.  “It’s not that--”

“I knew you’d be grossed out!”

“It’s not how you look--”

“I knew you didn’t really want to!”

“YOU’RE HUGE!” Peter burst out.

Wade stopped, shocked by Peter’s outburst.  He opened and closed his mouth wordlessly.

Peter pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.  “Okay, yes, I admit I just froze for a second, but it has nothing to do with your skin and everything to do with the fact that I’ve never actually done this before, you’re not exactly enthused about me doing this, and most of all you’re huge and I don’t know how I’m supposed to fit that in my mouth!

It was why he hoped that the flavored condom would make it easier--he could imagine it was just a big lollipop or something.  He put his face in his hands.  God, this was so humiliating.

“Pete.  Baby,” Wade said gently.  He sat up and took Peter’s hands away from his face.  His serious and concerned expression lasted about a second before he burst out laughing.  “You think I’ve got a big dick!”

“You are a big dick,” Peter grumbled.

“You’re in awe of my machismo!” Wade continued to crow.  “My manhood overwhelms you!”

“Yes.  You have a giant cock.  You have a huge wang.  Your thing is big.  Your dick is bigger than my dick.  What else do I have to say before you’ll allow me to go hide in a hole and you forget this conversation ever happened?” Peter flopped onto the bed and pulled the bedspread over his head while Wade cackled with laughter.

After a minute passed, Wade stopped his laughing.  He laid down next to Peter and slid his head under the covers as well.  He shifted his shoulder to bump Peter’s shoulder, causing Peter to look up at him.  “Look, Pete, neither of us feels entirely comfortable with this.  If we’re not comfortable, we’re not ready for it.  If you want to get each other off, we can just use our hands again.”

“I wanted to do something different,” Peter confessed.

“Are you getting bored of handjobs already?” Wade asked, slightly taken aback.

“...I was afraid you would get bored.”

“I have a very good imagination and you can stick to walls and ceilings; trust me, we’re nowhere near the point where I’d get bored.”

Peter gave a faint smile.

“Come here, you,” Wade said, rolling onto his side and pulling Peter towards him.  

The kiss Wade gave him was tender and it made Peter melt.  He loved Wade so much.  

...But a tender kiss just wasn’t going to be enough.  He’d been eager to jump Wade’s bones since he woke up.  He deepened the kiss and let his hand run down Wade’s back.  In their current position, he only had the one hand free, so he rolled onto his back and pulled Wade on top of him.

There was something non-blanket on the bed and it was scratching his shoulder.  He broke off the kiss.

“What’s wrong?” Wade asked.

“There’s something poking me,” Peter started.

“That would be my big dick.  You might not have noticed it, but it is very big.”

Peter rolled his eyes.  He pushed Wade off so he could sit up.  He reached his arm around to his shoulder blade and brushed off whatever was sticking to him.  The square condom package landed beside him.  Oh right. He’d forgotten about that.

Wade picked up the condom and looked over at Peter with a glint in his eye.  “It would be a shame to waste these since you did go out of your way to get them.”

“I thought blowjobs were off the table for now,” Peter said.  His tone was slightly teasing, though there was a touch of earnest question as well.

“That’s you blowing me,” Wade said.  “But we’ve already done me blowing you.”

“I see.”

“So, since you went to the trouble of getting these flavored condoms, how about we give this a try out on you.”

“I wouldn’t say no,” Peter demurred coyly.

Wade scowled.  “I don’t want you to just not say ‘no’,” he said crossly.  “I want you to actually say ‘yes’.”

Peter’s first instinct was to roll his eyes.  Then he sighed. Wade was right.  Not saying ‘no’ wasn’t the same as saying ‘yes’.

“Yes, Wade, I very much want you to suck my strawberry-flavored cock as if it was a tootsie pop.”

Wade smirked.  “Well, when you put it like that...  But I should warn you, after 3 licks on those, I bite.”

Peter snorted with laughter.  “Okay, maybe not quite like a tootsie pop…”

“Five licks before the bite, then?”

“Just hurry up and put that condom on me.”

Wade smirked but complied.  As Wade was rolling the condom onto him, Peter’s phone buzzed.  As there were only two people who had that number--Krissi and Dr. Moesha--and neither would be calling unless it was important, he pushed Wade away and reached for his phone.

“Hello, Krissi.  What’s up?”

“Oh!” Krissi exclaimed. It was clear that he had derailed whatever it was she had planned to say.

You were the one who called me,” Peter pointed out.

“Yes, but I was expecting to leave a message on your voicemail.  Aren’t you supposed to be at work right now?”

“Um, yeah.  About that…” Peter swallowed.

“You didn’t get injured again, did you?” Krissi demanded.

“More like ‘continued repercussions of the last time’.”

“What do you mean?”

Peter sighed.  He really didn’t want to get into this now.  He didn’t want to admit in front of Wade that he was currently unemployed.  “Rain check on that.  I’ll tell you about it later, ‘K.  So what were you calling about?” he asked to change the topic.

“I’ve got some updates on things.”

“Great!  We should meet up.  How about tonight?”

“Tonight’s great.  What time--”

“OH MY GOD!” Peter cried out.

Wade had just swallowed his dick.

“Peter!” Krissi scolded.  “You shouldn’t have answered the phone if you were ‘busy’!”

“I wasn’t ‘busy’ when I answered,” Peter gritted out.

“Do you want me to call you back later?” Krissi questioned.

Wade asked at the same time, “Do you want me to stop?”

Peter locked eyes with Wade and answered into the phone, “No.  It’s fine.  Continue.”

Wade grinned wickedly.  And then he brought that wicked mouth back to Peter’s cock.

Peter spread his legs and tilted his hips up as Wade licked up and down his length.

He had enough awareness to realize that Krissi was speaking at him, but he was already so far gone that he had no ability to process what any of the words she said were.  He had thought that after a day and half of handjobs and friction action and the fact that he was wearing a condom, he wouldn’t find this blow job to be as overwhelming as their first time.  He was wrong.

He was biting his finger in an effort to keep himself from crying out and quickly losing his grasp of just why he wasn’t allowing himself to oralize his pleasure.  Right.  Phone.  Krissi was on the phone.  While he was having Wade go down on him.  What was he doing?  This… this wasn’t right.

“Tacos!” he burst out.

Wade immediately backed off, looking puzzled.

“...Pardon?” Krissi asked icily.

Peter’s chest was heaving as if he’d been running a marathon.  He fought to keep his voice steady as he answered, “I’m craving tacos.  Why don’t we meet at that place downtown I’ve been wanting to try out?  How about we meet there at 5:00?”

“Fine.  That should give you plenty of time to finish up.”

Peter blushed.

“--But you and I are going to have a serious talk later.”

He grimaced but knew he deserved it.

“Wear your suit.  Your boyfriend is welcome to join us.”

“I’ll let him know.  Um. Sorry--”

“Later.  See you at five.”

Peter dropped his phone to the side, leaned his head back onto the headboard, and gulped in some air.

“Sooooo... Is my technique really that good or do you react like that for every blowjob?”

“Actually,” Peter said ruefully. “You are more or less my first.”

“More or less?”

“Well, Mary Jane and I only got as far as some hand action, but then, well, we were only in high school.”

“My first time was in middle school,” Wade added unhelpfully.

“And,” Peter continued, “Gwen used her mouth some, but she’d had a bad experience with an ex who came all over her face, so we didn’t do much oral.”  Besides which, Peter hadn’t had much interest in going down on her either, which he now realized, was probably because he was gay.

“Well, for the record, I swallow and I don’t mind facials,” Wade informed him.

“Facials?”

“Yeah, you know, having someone come on your face.”

“Oh.”

“I don’t mind face-fucking or choking either,” Wade continued.

Peter hoped that he was mistaken on what that one meant, because if it was really anything like it sounded like, it sounded terrible.  “What’s that?” he asked.

“When you thrust in so hard and deep that you choke the guy with your dick, and… and based on that horrified expression you’re giving me, I’d say that ain’t your jam.”

Peter flushed.  He hadn’t meant to display his revulsion quite so openly.  He didn’t want to come off as judging Wade for what he liked, but it was just the idea of doing that himself… Unless... If that’s what Wade wanted him to do…?

“Are you going to get bored with just the vanilla sort?” Peter wondered, voicing his concerns out loud without intending to.

Wade shrugged.  “I like vanilla just fine.  Particularly when the only other option is nothing.”

That did nothing to reassure Peter.

“Right now, though,” Wade continued, “I have a taste for strawberry.”

Peter smiled faintly.  “Is that an indication that you’d like to continue where we left off?”

“It’s up to you, baby.  You were the one who safe-worded,” Wade pointed out.

“Well, how do I undo a safeword?”

“Well, you can tell me to hurry up and shove your cock in my mouth,” Wade suggested.

Peter chuckled.  “How about this: Wade Wilson, will you please continue to suck my cock?  How’s that for an invitation?”

“That’ll do!”

Peter’s dick had softened some from the lack of attention, but it quickly hardened as he watched Wade’s head move between his legs.  Wade wrapped one arm around Peter’s thigh.  He maintained eye contact as he brought his mouth around Peter’s dick and swallowed.

Peter closed his eyes and rolled his head back until it hit the headboard.

Wade shifted his weight slightly, leaning onto the elbow of the arm that was on Peter’s thigh.  The shift brought Peter’s leg down, widening the spread of his legs.

No longer needing to use his other arm to hold himself up, Wade brought it up to cup Peter’s balls while his mouth slid up and down Peter’s dick.

Peter brought his hands above his head to grip the headboard behind him, clenching and unclenching them, needing to do something with his hands.  His breath came out in short little gasps and his hips rocked in rhythm to Wade’s attentions.

Wade pulled off Peter with a pop.  Peter looked at him quizzically.

“You said you wanted something a bit different,” Wade explained.  “I’m gonna try a few things.  Let me know if you don’t like it.”

Peter nodded his consent, then added, “Yeah,” in case the nodding wasn’t enough.

Wade ran his tongue down Peter’s dick.  That was certainly very nice, but it wasn’t ‘new’.  Then Wade kept going.  He trailed his tongue around Peter’s balls, then gingerly put his mouth around them.

Peter’s whole body shuddered and he would’ve come on the spot if Wade hadn’t backed off.

“I’ll take that to mean you liked that.”

“Nngh,” Peter uttered in response.

Wade smirked.

He gave Peter a moment to catch his breath, then he went right back down to exploring Peter’s body with his tongue.  He licked around Peter’s balls again, and then he kept going to Peter’s perineum.  Peter froze.

It wasn’t that it didn’t feel good, but it was weird, and Wade didn’t seem to be stopping, and he was getting entirely too close to Peter’s ass.  And yeah, they had bathed since the last time he’d had to take a dump, but it was still his ass, and Wade’s tongue was moving towards it, and--

“NOPE,” Peter declared as he inched back on the bed.

Wade must have felt Peter’s growing discomfort; he was backing off at the same time as Peter was scootching away.  

“Not into rimming, got it,” Wade muttered, and Peter wasn’t sure if Wade was speaking to himself, whatever voice he had in his head, or to Peter.

“Not ready for that.  Sorry,” Peter apologized.

“Whatever you want, babe.”

“My dick is strawberry flavored?” Peter suggested.

Wade let out a light laugh.  “Message received.”  He went back to blowing Peter.  He didn’t bother with the tongue explorations this time, but just kept a steady pace up and down Peter’s dick.

“Oh, fuck, Wade,” Peter moaned.

If anything, Wade went faster the more Peter came undone.  

“Wade,” Peter said with warning.

Wade got the hint and pulled back.  “What’s wrong?”

“I’m about to come…”

“Petey, I already said I swallow.  But if that’s not clear enough permission for you, yes, you can come in my mouth.  Which is really a moot point right now anyway because you’re wearing a condom.”

“Oh.”  Peter flushed.  “Right.”

“But if you’d feel more comfortable, I can finish you with my hand.  What do you want, baby?”

Peter hesitated a moment before he admitted, “...Your mouth.”

Wade smiled smugly.  With deliberate movement, he took Peter into his mouth again. He went down on Peter completely, and with a final caress of his balls, it was enough for Peter to orgasm.

***********************************

After spending most of the rest of the day being ‘busy’, they’d finally wound down.  Currently they were lounging on the bed.  Peter was the big spoon, or perhaps, considering their height difference, it was more apt to say that they were jetpacking, or that Peter was the Yoda to Wade’s Luke.  In any case, Wade liked being the little spoon, and Peter liked feeling like he was enveloping Wade in a protective embrace.

Wade’s head rested on Peter’s bicep and Peter held Wade’s hand, their fingers entwined.

“So…” Peter started, not quite sure how to ask the one question he desperately wanted to know.  His mouth was dry and he felt the familiar knot of anxiety in his stomach.  He pressed on, “Are we… together now?”

“Together now?  Did you timeslip again?  This is the year 2014, the month is March--”

Peter used Wade’s hand to lightly bop Wade’s nose.

“I’m being serious here.  Are we dating now?  Do I get to change my Facebook status to ‘It’s complicated; my secret identity is in a relationship’?  Are we boyfriends?”

Wade asked guardedly, “Do you… want to be?”

“Yes!” Peter replied emphatically.

“Are you sure, Pete?  I’m messed up.  Like really messed up.  My past is messed up, my brain is messed up…”

Peter rolled Wade over.  It had the unfortunate and unintended consequences that he was now pinning Wade down onto the bed, but he needed to look Wade in the eye while they had this conversation.

“I’m messed up, too,” Peter told him.  “I’ve got a serious case of separation anxiety, something that should be obvious to you after the couple of near panic attacks I’ve had at the thought of you leaving.  I was so deeply in denial that it was only in the last month that I’ve realized I’m gay.  I have a desperate need to protect those I care about, I might have a bit of a savior complex, and I definitely have a guilt complex.  I’m messed up too, Wade.  And maybe this whole thing between us is going to blow apart or be an absolute disaster.  I don’t know.  But I’ve grown so much in the past year.  I think that together, we can make each other be better people than we would be alone.  I love you, Wade, and I want to be with you.  Do you want to be with me, too?”

Peter studied Wade’s face as Wade studied his.  After a strained moment, Wade gave a small smile. He reached a hand up to caress the side of Peter’s face. “I’d like to see what your crazy and my crazy can be together,” he said.

Peter grinned.  He leaned into Wade’s hand and kissed his palm, then brought his head down and kissed Wade’s lips.  He was about to deepen the kiss when he abruptly realized how much time had passed.  He broke off the kiss and turned his head to look at the clock.  He groaned.  He wanted nothing more than to keep kissing Wade in celebration of their new relationship status, but he had to leave.  If he didn’t get going now, he was going to be late meeting up with Krissi.  And he had no one else to blame, since it was his own fault for leaving this important conversation until the last minute.

“Well,  I suppose the next question is if you want to keep being together in a very literal sense and join me in meeting up with my S.H.I.E.L.D. friend.”

Peter got out of bed and headed into the bathroom.  His Spider-Man suit was hanging up in the shower, drying after he and Wade had hand-washed their costumes in the sink yesterday.  He had to sit on the toilet seat to get his pants on, the damp spandex material bunching rather than sliding on easily.  He didn’t entirely like the idea of heading out in slightly damp clothes, but it would probably dry by the time he got to the meetup spot with Krissi, and it was at least a mild spring-like day so he wouldn’t freeze, unlike two nights ago.

With his pants on, he popped his head out of the bathroom.  “So, do you wanna come with me?” Peter asked as he pulled his Spider-Man shirt on over his head.  

“Nah.  Go have fun with your friends.  I’ll do a bit more clean-up here and then I suppose I'll go look up Weasel and see how things are going.”

Peter felt an irrational stab of jealousy at the thought of Wade going to visit his friend.  He shook his head.  That wasn't fair of him.  Weasel was Wade’s best friend.  Peter'd be annoyed if Wade complained about him spending time with Harry--

Oh.

Harry.

How was Peter going to explain any of this to Harry?!

No, he couldn’t worry about that now.  He would figure out something with Harry, as well as Evan and Aunt May, later.  For now, he had to head out to meet up with Krissi; to find out what she wanted and to apologize for his actions on the phone.

Wade paused from stripping the sheets as Peter walked over to him.  Peter stood on tiptoe and brought Wade’s head down so he could give him a kiss goodbye.

Peter wanted nothing more than to stay in this apartment with Wade forever, but it was past time for him to go out and continue his mission.  Still, he couldn’t fight the sense of fear gripping his heart at the thought of parting with Wade.  Was Wade going to disappear on him again?

“I love you,” Peter said, a hint of desperation mixing into his tone.

“I know,” Wade replied.

Peter blinked.  “Did you just Han Solo me?” he accused incredulously.

Wade shook his head.  “No.  No way.  I Princess Leia’d you!”

Peter snorted. “Well, that’s okay, then.”

He squeezed Wade’s hand.  “Call me later, okay?” Peter requested.

“Yeah,” Wade replied.  He squeezed Peter’s hand back.

With a last brush of their hands, Peter stepped back and slid his mask over his head.  Spider-Man drank in a final sight of Wade, and then he left.

 

Chapter Text

Issue 30: Fighting in Sewers with Girls

It was nearly half past six--after they had eaten their tacos and ridden Krissi’s motorcycle towards the Rand building--before Spider-Man and Krissi had their talk.

“So, about earlier--” Krissi started as they walked around the derelict building.

“I’m so sorry!” Spider-Man burst out.  He’d been holding that apology in for the past hour and a half, desperate to say it, but not at all sure how to bring it up until Krissi broached the subject.  It all came out in a desperate rush,  “I didn’t think… I just got caught up in… things… and… and I have no excuse and I’m sorry.”

Krissi waited for his outburst to trickle off.  “It’s important to have the consent of everybody involved before including them in any sexual activity, even if that involvement is just listening in,” she said mildly.

Spider-Man hung his head shamefully.  “I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again.”

“You mean the doing things without asking first?  I know you won’t.”

“I’m sorry for all of it.”

“You don’t have to apologize for your kinks--”

Spider-Man choked.

“--though I must say I was a bit surprised,” Krissi continued unabashedly. “I didn’t take you for having an exhibitionist streak…”

His jaw dropped open.

“But then,” Krissi mused, “you do run around in body-hugging spandex, so perhaps I should have seen that coming after all.”

Spider-Man shook his head in disbelief.  He didn’t have kinks!  Certainly not exhibitionism!  “I don’t think--”

“It’s fine,” Krissi assured.  “As long as everyone involved is on board with it.  So, if you want to do that sort of thing again, you just have to ask first.”

“Wait, what?!”

“I’m not actually opposed to such activities, you know.  Though,” she added, “Evan would appreciate it more.”

Spider-Man stood agog for a very pregnant pause before he sputtered, “A-are you serious?!”

“Of course!  He’d get off on hearing you guys, then he’d come back to me all hot and bothered,” she purred.

Spider-Man hid his face in his hands.  “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

“You were the one that brought me into your sex life with that phone call,” she pointed out.

And if he wasn’t sorry already, he certainly was even more so now.  This was all Wade’s fault!

Krissi patted his shoulder.  “Am I correct in assuming from all of this that you finally got to talk with him, and that he returns your feelings?”

“I did tell him that I love him,” he answered.  “He hasn’t said it back, but he did agree to go out with me, so we’re boyfriend-boyfriend now,” he told her.

“Well, it can be hard for some people to say ‘I love you’.”

“Yeah.  He didn’t even believe that I loved him at first,” Spider-Man admitted.  “It took a bit to convince him that I was serious.”

“Hmmm.”  She looked around.  “Where did you say that hole into the basement was?”

“It should be right… over… here…” Spider-Man paused as they reached the spot.

“It’s been covered over with a new grate,” Krissi noted.

He reached his fingers through the grate and wrapped his hand around one of the bars.  He pulled.  The grate squealed and his muscles ached in protest.  After half a minute of full exertion, the lock gave out and Spider-Man yanked the grate off the hole.

Krissi gave a low whistle.  “You always hold back with your strength; it’s really impressive when you do let yourself go all-out.”

“Proportionate strength of a spider,” he replied with a shrug.

Krissi cracked a military light stick and dropped it into the pit.  It fell to the bottom, casting a distant glow far below them. “That is a pretty deep pit, isn’t it?”

“I told you.”

“So you did.”

Then it was Spider-Man’s turn to be impressed as he watched how deftly Krissi rigged her climbing gear.  With the rope secured, Krissi stepped off the edge and slipped into the gloom.  Spider-Man stuck a strand of web beside Krissi’s rope and swung himself down.  He landed before her.

“Beat ya,” he bragged.

“You have a bit of an unfair natural ability that I lack,” Krissi retorted.

Spider-Man smirked.

“So where is this dirt section?” Krissi asked as she looked around.

“It’s--” Spider-Man started but cut off as he realized what he was standing on.  “It’s gone!”  The dirt was nowhere; the floor was fully cement.  “I swear, it wasn’t like this!  It was all dirt--”

“I believe you.”  Krissi bent down, poking at the floor.  “This concrete is fresh.  No more than a few weeks old.”

“Someone cemented over the floor?”

“Someone has gone to a great deal of effort to cover something up.”

“But… how?”  The sheer impossibility of someone coming in unnoticed with a cement truck in the middle of Manhattan, and the impracticality of anyone leveling off the floor of a derelict building -- If he wasn’t standing on the evidence that very moment, he’d never have believed it.

“Let’s see if we can find out,” Krissi suggested.

She walked over to where she’d dropped her light stick and picked it up.  “So, why weren’t you at work today?  You weren’t skipping just to spend the day with him, were you?” Krissi asked as they searched the area.

Spider-Man shook his head but realized she didn’t see it.  “No,” he told her.  “I kinda, um, got fired.”

She turned around and looked at him sharply.  “What?!  Why?”

“He didn’t like all the work I had to miss.  Back when I was recovering” he explained.

“But I hooked you up with that doctor’s note…”

Peter shrugged.  “It didn’t matter by that point.  He decided I wasn’t worth bothering with anymore.  He’s found a new fresh-out-of-school kid to browbeat.”

“I’m sorry.”

“In some ways, I’m kinda relieved.  I hated that job, anyway.”

“I take it you haven’t found a new job yet?”

“Not yet,” he admitted.

“So what are you doing about rent?”

“I’m on unemployment and I’ve been doing a few under-the-table construction jobs for a bit of extra cash.”

“That’s not very sustainable,” she noted.

“No, it’s not,” he agreed.  “It’ll keep me off the streets for a bit, but I am going to have to find a new job.”

By this point, they’d gotten three quarters of the way around the basement.  Krissi paused.  “What’s that?” she asked.

Spider-Man followed her line of sight up at the edge of the light.  “That alcove-like area?” he questioned.

She nodded.

“Let’s go check it out,” he suggested.  He crouched down so she could climb onto his back.

She balked.

Really?!  Krissi, you KNOW how strong I am!” Spider-Man protested.

“I know that,” she agreed.  “I know how strong you are, and how perfectly capable you are of climbing up the wall.  It’s just… the idea that the only thing that keeps you on the wall are these tiny barbs in your fingertips and toes, and… and I’m not a light person…”  She kept glancing over at her climbing gear still set up at the entrance.

Spider-Man rolled his eyes.  She wouldn’t be able to see it through his mask but it made him feel better.  “Seriously, Krissi, I’ve carried Deadpool around easily enough.  You don’t weigh any more than he does, even before counting the added weight of his weapons and pouches.  I can carry you up.  Just climb on already.”

With a big sigh, she latched her arms around his chest.  When she was secure, he scrambled up the wall.  With Krissi holding the light above his head to illuminate the way, Spider-Man realized that the alcove went deeper than it had appeared from down below.  Too deep.

“This isn’t an alcove,” he noted out loud.  “It’s a passage.” A narrow and dark one, but a passage all the same.

“So it is,” Krissi agreed.

“Where does it go?”

“Let’s find out.”

He set her down when they reached the ledge and followed her as she led the way.  After a few twists and turns, the passageway opened out into a much larger tunnel.

“An old subway tunnel or something?” Spider-Man wondered.

“There’s a whole slew of tunnels under New York City.  More than half aren’t in use by the general public anymore.”

“So if not the general public, who is using it then?”

“That’s the question, isn’t it?”

Suddenly, Spider-Man’s Spidey Senses flared.  He grabbed Krissi’s arm and jumped back, narrowly avoiding something zooming past and pinging onto the ground where they had just been standing.  Before Spider-Man could make sense of what had just happened, Krissi was running down the tunnel.

“Who’s shooting at us?!”

“Run!” she urged.

He didn’t need to be told twice; he took off after her and soon caught up.

They ran down the tunnel a ways before Krissi hauled him off into a side tunnel.  They stepped into the shadows and flattened against a wall.  Moments later several people ran past in the main tunnel.

In general, when there were people chasing after him--with guns!--then it was high time to get out of there, but if they were going to figure out what was going on, then they needed to stick around.  It seemed Krissi was in agreement.

She moved out of the shadows and peered around the corner to check out their attackers.  After a quick glance, she silently returned to where Spider-Man was still hiding.

“They’re S.H.I.E.L.D. agents,” she whispered.

“S.H.I.E.L.D. agents?” Spider-Man repeated.  “That’s good, right?”  

Krissi frowned.  That wasn’t a good sign.

Spider-Man continued, “Or not…?  You don’t suppose they’re… That is… Are they good S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, or bad ones?”

“I don’t know,” Krissi admitted.  “But I’m going to see if I can find out.”

They cut off their whispered conversation as they heard footsteps approaching back down the main tunnel.

“They can’t have gone far.  This section is a dead end,” he heard someone down the hall say.

“They have to be hiding somewhere around here, then.  Have the team spread out and search down the side tunnels,” another, familiar voice responded.  It must have been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent he’d met before.

Uh-oh.

“You want us to capture them?” someone else asked, a hint of surprise in her tone.

“Didn’t you see?   At least one of them was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent,” she said it with an inflection that suggested that those around should know exactly what that meant.  Spider-Man wished he did.  “We need to find out just how much of our operation they saw.  And then… we make sure they will never report it back.”

Aaaaaaand that was a big ol’ check in the ‘bad S.H.I.E.L.D.’ column.

The voices got fainter as they moved out of hearing distance.

Spider-Man turned to Krissi.  “Sooooo, maybe not so much with the ‘good S.H.I.E.L.D. agents’, then,” he suggested mildly.

“Apparently not,” she agreed.  “But I don’t want to imagine that there’s a whole team of bad S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.”

“Maybe it’s just the leader and the rest don’t realize she’s bad?” Spider-Man suggested.

“Maybe,” Krissi replied, but she didn’t sound like she believed it.  “Whether it’s the whole team or just the lead agent here, there’s no denying that there’s something strange going on and we’ll need to have these agents questioned by the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D.  If they stay spread out, we might be able to pick them off one at a time, but the odds aren’t in our favor.  They have at least triple our number and they know the terrain.”

She took out her phone and swiped it on.  She frowned.  “I’d like to call back to headquarters to see if there is supposed to be a team active here, and maybe call in some back-up, but my phone isn’t connecting.  I’m going to see if I can get a signal if I go closer to the surface.”

She took a step, then stopped.  She turned back around to look at Spider-Man.  “Stay here,” she said, emphasizing the ‘here’ by pointing sharply at the ground under Spider-Man’s feet.  “Keep out of sight.  I’ll be back soon.”

With a nod of agreement, Spider-Man climbed up onto the ceiling as she walked away.  He was safer hiding up there since he could still hide in the shadows and nobody ever looked up.

The first minute was fine.  It passed slowly enough, sure, but it was fine.  By the second minute, Spider-Man was already bored out of his skull and really wished he had something to do, or at least something other than a few cracks in the ceiling to look at.  Geez, he had last season’s Game of Thrones waiting at his apartment for him to watch, and here he was stuck looking at nothing.  It wasn’t fair.

It was all he could do not to let out an audible sigh when someone finally came down the tunnel he was hiding in to check it out. The agent passed directly under Spider-Man.  He walked a few yards further down the tunnel before he stopped.  He set a device down onto the ground and knelt down beside it.  The machine made a rasping noise as he pressed a few buttons and flipped a few switches.  

When the noises grew into a steady hum, the agent stood back up.  He brought his hand up to his ear and said, “Alright, Smith, I’ve got the extender in place.  That should have this section of the tunnels completely jammed.  There will be no incoming or outgoing communications except on our frequency.”  After a pause he continued.  “Roger that.  I’ll continue the search.”

Spider-Man waited impatiently.  As soon as the agent was far enough gone, Spider-Man could drop down and take that device out.  But the man lingered, kneeling down to examine the ground.  Was he able to see their tracks?  Spider-Man felt a knot of anxiety in his stomach as the man moved closer.

And then the agent looked up.  So much for nobody ever looking up.

The agent’s eyes widened. And clearly Spider-Man wasn’t far enough in the shadows not to be seen.  Well, since he’d been sighted, he might as well say hello.  Spider-Man gave a jaunty wave.  The agent reached for his gun.  And so much for being friendly.  

Now what?  In this narrow tunnel, he didn’t exactly have the room to play ‘dodge the bullets’.  He needed to subdue the agent--quietly--without allowing him to call for help, and to take out his gun before he could shoot at him.  There was only one way he could see to accomplish both of those goals: close-range fighting.  Besides getting in close to disarm the agent, Spider-Man figured with his superior strength, he could quickly overpower him.

With that plan in mind, Spider-Man launched himself off the ceiling. He landed on top of the agent, knocking his gun out of his hand in one smooth swing.  But the agent quickly recovered from his surprise at Spider-Man’s attack and from there they began to grapple.  

That was the point when Spider-Man realized he had made a serious miscalculation.  As he predicted, he was much stronger than his opponent, but the agent was clearly extensively trained in ground fighting.  Spider-Man had forgotten his lesson from his fight last autumn with Agent What’s-His-Name: skill and training could beat raw strength.  He really, really needed to ask Wade for some fight training the next time he saw him.

Spider-Man thought he might have gained the upper hand for a moment, but somehow--he wasn’t quite sure how-- he wound up pinned down face first onto the ground, his arms trapped under him as the agent leveraged a grappling hold on him.

He couldn’t move!

A surge of panic flooded through him.  Think!  What could he do?  His arm was trapped under him, but his hand wasn’t directly pinned down, so he angled it upwards and shot out a blast of webbing in every direction.  He wasn’t sure what good it would do, but it was the only thing he could do in that position.

The agent let go.  Startled at the sudden release, Spider-Man turned around warily.

Shoot!  Shoot!  Damn it!  He had completely webbed the lower part of the agent’s face.  There was no way for him to breathe!

The man was desperately tearing at the webbing but he couldn’t remove it.  Spider-Man leapt to his feet and reached for the agent.  The agent backed away, his eyes wide in terror.  Spider-Man persisted, and finally got a grip on his upper arm.  With his other hand, Spider-Man dug his gloved fingers under the webbing and tore it from the man’s face.  He didn’t envy the ‘waxing’ shave that ripped off the guy’s goatee, but at least he could breathe again.

The agent slumped to the ground, gasping for some much-needed air.

“Sorry about that,” Spider-Man said.  “And for this.”

The agent looked up, but was too late to stop or dodge the webbing that Spider-Man directed at him.  Spider-Man webbed the agent’s arms and legs.  With the agent bound up, Spider-Man carefully sent out a tiny strand of web to seal his mouth shut.  He felt bad about putting more webbing on his tender lips, but he couldn’t afford leaving the agent’s mouth free to call for help.

Spider-Man picked up the humming device.  He didn’t know how to turn it off, but, well, super-human strength was great for device-crushing.  The extender device’s low humming ended in a shriek of bent metal.  That was just one device, though.  From the sound of it, they had others set up to jam communications.  Krissi wasn’t going to be able to contact S.H.I.E.L.D. if he didn’t take out the rest of them.

He turned back to the bound-up agent.  “I’ll be back for you,” Spider-Man told him.  “But first I’m going to find your friends.”

It was only after he had swung away that he realized how threatening he had inadvertently sounded.  He hadn’t meant to threaten the agent any more than he’d meant to suffocate him, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it now.  At the moment, he was too concerned with finding the agent’s base of operation and putting a stop to their communications jam that was preventing Krissi from calling out.

***********************************

It took a bit of exploring, but some thirty minutes or so later, Spider-Man found the room that clearly served as the agents’ base of operation.   He snuck in through a grate and perched on one of the catwalks that crisscrossed the area just below the ceiling.

In the large room below him, he could see some cots and a little kitchenette in a corner--they must be camping out down here--but most of the floor space was taken up by folding tables that had various computers and other devices set up on top of them.  There was a ladder that led up to a hatch in the ceiling, which probably went up to the surface.  One of the rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agents sat at the table with the most elaborate computer setup and a second one stood behind her with one hand on her hip.

“Well?” the agent who was standing asked.  It was the agent whose voice Spider-Man had recognized.  

The agent at the computer shook her head. “Arnold had it in place, and it was working, for about two minutes.  Then it suddenly cut off and I haven’t been able to get Arnold back on the comm.”

Uh-oh.  Spider-Man’s handiwork from before had been noticed a lot quicker than he’d hoped.

“Can you triangulate the intruders without Foer’s extender?”

“If one of them tries to make a call, maybe.”

“Keep trying.”  She brought her hand up to her ear.  “Langdon, repeat that.”  There was a pause, then she exclaimed, “Spider-Man?!”

“What happened?” The agent at the computer asked.

Lowering her hand, she answered back, “Spider-Man took out Foer.  Langdon is cutting him free of the webbing now.”

“And Arnold’s extender?”

The agent brought her hand back up to her ear and turned as she asked Langdon the status of the device.

Spider-Man got better look at her, and between her familiar voice, her solid build, and puff of curly black hair, Spider-Man was finally able to place her.  She was Agent Preston, one of the two agents leading the team that had caught Wade and him after the explosion at the drug-dealer’s apartment.  

So. He’d run into Preston’s team again.  What were the odds of that?

She was clearly wondering the same thing.  “This is the second time he’s gotten involved in our mission,” she noted.

Wait.  Second time?  That didn’t make any sense.  This was his third time getting caught at the Rand building by S.H.I.E.L.D., and his fourth time having a run-in with a strangely acting team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.  It was only his second time meeting with Agent Preston.  It sounded like she was unaware--and thus uninvolved--with the other events.  She might not be a bad agent after all.  Either that, or there were multiple bad guy teams infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. but that didn’t seem as likely.

“Preston.”  The agent at the computer called her over.  “I’m picking something up.”

“Langdon, hold there for a moment.”  Agent Preston lowered her hand and rested it on the back of the chair as she leaned to look over the other agent’s shoulder. “What is it?”

“One of the intruders is trying to piggyback onto our system to call out.”

“Really?” She sounded both pleased and excited.  “This might be just the break we need!  Can we tell who they’re calling?”

“Yes, I’m tracking it now.  They’re… they’re trying to call the New York headquarters…”

“Excellent.  Can you tell who they’re trying to reach?”

“They’re trying to call the regional director.”

“The director?  But that doesn’t make any sense.  She was briefed on our mission.”

“And this leak can’t possibly go that far up the chain of command.”

“God grant that you’re right.” Agent Preston shook her head sadly.  “Can you track exactly where they're calling from?”

“I can get a range, but I won’t be able to narrow it down any further without Arnold’s extender.”

“Foer’s has been destroyed, according to Langdon.  You’ll need to bring him a new one.  I’m going to head to the region where you picked up the intruder’s signal.  Contact me if you can narrow down the search zone any further.”

The agent at the computer scrambled to grab another of the extender devices, and within a minute, both agents were out the door.

Spider-Man flipped down from the ceiling and landed beside the table where the two agents had been.  He could turn off the computer.  He wondered if that would be enough to stop the jamming, or to keep the agents from tracking Krissi down any further.

He had already reached for the mouse when his Spidey Senses flashed and he heard the click of a gun.  He hadn’t seen the third agent in the room.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a voice threatened from behind him.  “Put it down.”

He did.

“Now turn around.”

He turned to find an agent holding a gun leveled at his chest.  Even with his super-human speed, he wouldn’t be able to dodge a bullet at this close range.

“Look, I think there might be some misunderstanding here,” he started, hoping to de-escalate the situation.  “If we could just talk--”

“Oh, you’ll tell us everything,” the agent with the gun interrupted.

“I’ve already reported everything to S.H.I.E.L.D.,” he tried again.  “Not to the team skulking creepily about under derelict buildings, but to the agent assigned to me.  You know, my S.H.I.E.L.D.-assigned handler.”

“And where is she?” the agent sneered.

“Right here,” Krissi said as she dropped down behind the agent.

“What she said,” Spider-Man quipped.

The agent whirled around to face this new threat, but she was too late.  Krissi brought her leg straight up in a high-kick that would awe even the Rock City Rockettes.  Krissi kicked the gun right out of the agent’s hand and socked the agent under her jaw, sending her sprawling to the floor.  Spider-Man blasted out a bunch of webs to pin her down.

“Thanks for the save,” he said to Krissi.

“No problem, but I thought I told you to stay put.”

Before Spider-Man could explain, the door burst open and a pair of agents rushed in.  One was the agent who had been at the computer earlier, but the second one was a guy Spider-Man hadn’t seen before.  While Krissi faced off with the new guy, Spider-Man was left with the angry computer nerd.

“Where’s Agent Smith?” she demanded.

“Have you tried looking in the Matrix?”

She didn’t take too kindly to his joking.  “If you’ve hurt her…!”

“I haven’t hurt her!” Spider-Man insisted.  “Look, I think there’s a misunderstanding.  If we could just stand down and talk this out--”

But the angry computer nerd already had her gun out and had started shooting.  At least there was only one gun in play; Krissi had already disarmed her opponent.  Also, there was a lot more room to maneuver.  With his Spidey Senses giving him warning before each shot, he was able to keep his distance until she had emptied her clip.  When she reloaded, Spider-Man launched himself at her.  He reached her just as she clicked the new clip into the gun.

He kicked her gun out of her hand and landed directly in front of her.  Spider-Man swung a punch.  It connected solidly with her face.  Considering the fighting skills of the previous couple of agents he’d tangled with, he hadn’t actually expected that punch to land.  He was more than a little surprised as she slumped to the floor, unconscious.

With his own opponent taken care of, Spider-Man took the opportunity to watch the tail-end of Krissi’s battle.  Watching a pro like Krissi in action really made Spider-Man want to learn how to fight properly.

She swept her leg up, hooked it behind the agent’s neck and dropped.  Like, BAM!  One minute she was kicking, the next she was on the ground with the agent’s head caught between her thighs in an epic choke-hold.  In seconds the guy was out cold.

Krissi released the unconscious agent and swung herself around.  She scrambled a few feet to her left and grabbed the fallen gun, but just as soon as she got it into her hand, she tossed it aside and reached for another one.

Spider-Man’s Spidey Senses flashed in his head.  He jumped to the side just in time to dodge a sudden lunge by an agent he hadn’t even seen enter the room. The agent fell face first to the ground, but Spider-Man’s Spidey Senses were still going off.  He started to turn to see what was setting them off and was grabbed from behind by Agent Preston.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Krissi had grabbed the second gun.  She started to raise it when Agent Preston raised her gun to Spider-Man’s head.

“Drop it,” Preston warned.

Krissi lowered the gun.  The agent who had failed to tackle Spider-Man had picked himself up and took the gun from her.  He loomed in the background as Agent Preston addressed Krissi.

“If you had kept that first gun, you would have had the drop on me,” she noted.  “You would have been the one holding me at gunpoint.  Why didn’t you use it?”

“That one was live-ammo,” Krissi explained.

“So you grabbed the Icer instead,” Agent Preston finished.  “But… why?  You have my people tied up or unconscious but didn’t kill a single one.  Why bother trying to take any of us alive?  You know as soon as we fail to report in, the agency will come look for us.  You can’t take out an entire S.H.I.E.L.D. team and continue to operate unnoticed.”

“I should say the same to you,” Krissi retorted. “Your team is already under investigation.  Even if you kill us now, you’ll be found out soon enough.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“What are you talking about?” Krissi rejoined.

Spider-Man sighed.  “Like I was trying to say before you all had to start fighting… I think this is a case of misunderstanding and we’re actually on the same side here.”

“This is the second time I’ve found you interfering in my investigations, Spider-Man,” Agent Preston pointed out.

“I really don’t think I’ve been interfering,” Spider-Man prevaricated.  “I just have the misfortune of always falling into the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“‘Wrong place at the wrong time?’  You’ve been either at the center or the direct cause of the destruction of evidence or equipment twice now.  I’d call that interfering,” Agent Preston replied.

Spider-Man winced.  “Okay, that does sound bad when you put it like that. But I swear, the apartment explosion really was a coincidence.  Were you investigating him for the drugs or the guns?”

“What drugs?” Agent Preston asked sharply.

“That guy was a drug-dealer of a new, potentially very dangerous drug that Deadpool and I were investigating.”

“And the guns?”

“We saw some weird sci-fi blaster guns at the place while we were looking for clues on who his supplier was.  Before we got very far, a couple guys came in and dumped his body.  Then the place exploded.   It really was just a coincidence that we were both investigating that guy.  I think if we could just talk this all out, we’d find that we’re all on the same side.”

“I’m not feeling very ‘same-side-y’ when they’ve got a gun pointed at your head,” Krissi stated.  The sentiment reminded Spider-Man of Wade.

Agent Preston lowered her gun and released her hold on him.

“I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, Agent Loewe, Spider-Man, because I also find myself wondering if Spider-Man might be right.  What he’s just said about that apartment explosion matches up with my own impressions of that event.  But that doesn’t answer what you’re doing here.”

Spider-Man stepped away from her and stood by Krissi’s side.  He took a deep breath and began to explain.  “We’re here because I’ve been attacked twice before by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents at the Rand building.  K--Agent Loewe is here because she’s my assigned handler from S.H.I.E.L.D. and neither of those encounters had been reported to her.  The first time I was accosted by agents was back in the autumn and they’d been looking for Deadpool, who I had been traveling with at the time, to question him about a break-in he’d been involved with a few weeks prior.  In the initial confrontation, a single grenade was knocked off the edge of the building and started an out-of-proportion explosion.”

All the agents who were conscious at that point reacted to that; there were murmurs among them.  Agent Preston narrowed her eyes.

“Go on,” she ordered.

“After the agents completed their questioning of Deadpool, we all left as the fire trucks arrived.  A few months later, back in November, curiosity brought me back to see if I could figure out what had caused the disproportionate explosion.  I quickly determined that the basement seemed like the place to search.  I was surprised to find that the floor was covered in dirt.”

“Unusual for a skyscraper in New York,” Agent Preston said.

Spider-Man nodded.  “My thoughts exactly.  I brushed the dirt aside and found a strange glass-like substance.  It was about an inch thick and impossible to break, even with my strength. I was able to find a smaller piece, about yay big…” he demonstrated by holding out his hands in a circle in front of him.  “It was unnaturally heavy.  I brought it up out of the basement to investigate it further.”

“What did you find out about it?” Agent Preston prompted.

“Nothing.  As soon as I climbed out of the basement, I was set upon by a team of agents who were shooting to kill.  I dropped the piece and, fortunately for my continued health and well-being, they seemed more interested in that than following to shoot at me.”

Agent Preston folded her arms across her chest.  “And why has it taken you another four months to come back here?”

“Agent Preston, I’ve had two different S.H.I.E.L.D. teams--at different times--attack me.  It took a while before I felt comfortable telling Agent Loewe anything.”

“Agent Loewe?”

“I wanted to see this place myself as part of my efforts to learn what was going on,” Krissi answered.  “And then we got attacked by you.”

“You tried to make a phone call,” Agent Preston guessed.

“Yes,” Krissi confirmed.

“Langdon, give Agent Loewe a phone,” she ordered.  “Let her make the call she’d been trying to make.”

Krissi took the phone from the agent.  She dialed a number, then turned on the speaker phone.

“Yes?” a crisp female voice answered when the call went through.

“Director Piers, this is Agent Krissi Loewe, security Alpha three two nineteen.  I need to know if there is a team assigned to the area surrounding the Rand building.”

“Agent Loewe, you have level five clearance--”

“Director, I don’t need to know any specifics of the team or their assignment.  I just need to know if there is a team assigned to this quarter.”

“Director Piers, this is Agent Emily Preston, security Theta fifty-one nine nine, and I authorize this question.”

“Agent Preston?” She sounded taken aback.  “I don’t know what’s going on, but I expect a full report from both of you later.  For now, Agent Loewe: yes.  There is a team assigned to the area around the Rand building.  Agent Preston is leading this team.”

“Thank you, director.”

“Agent Loewe.  Agent Preston.”

The call ended.

“When the Chitauri were defeated by the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. took control of what they left behind: the bodies, gliders, and guns,” Agent Preston told them.  “We have scientists and engineers examining everything.  But there was a lot of it, more than we have people to look at them, and so the vast majority are stockpiled in warehouses.”

Spider-Man had a mental image of the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.  He suspected he probably wasn’t far off the mark with that.

“Except there is someone, or some people, in S.H.I.E.L.D. who have been smuggling these alien weapons from storage and selling them on the black market.  My team has been tracking them.  We’ve been able to retrieve most of them but we cannot seem to plug the leak to stop them from getting into the wrong hands in the first place.  A while back, we learned that some of these stolen guns were being kept here in the Rand building.”

“Not anymore,” Spider-Man muttered.

“Quite right,” Agent Preston agreed. “The guns were no longer stored here when we started our investigation a few weeks back.  We thought they must have been moved after the fire, but from your story, they must have been destroyed in it.  But even without the guns here anymore, there still seemed to be some unusual activity around this place, so we’ve set up camp to keep a close eye on it.”

She shook her head.  “We’ve been here for weeks and have seen nothing.  When you appeared, we thought we’d finally gotten a break.”

“Maybe you have,” Krissi said.  “Just not quite the way you thought.”

“What do you mean?”

“The guy both your team and Spider-Man were investigating back in the summer was dealing both the black-market Chitauri guns and the new drug.  Since you’ve run into a wall following the lead on the guns, maybe you can find a new path by investigating the drugs.”

Agent Preston frowned.  “I’m not sure there’s necessarily any connection between the drugs and the guns.”

“How about if I told you the drug had traces of alien elements in it?”

Agent Preston’s eyes widened.  “That would be significant,” she agreed.  “Why don’t the two of you have a seat and get comfortable.  I think it’s going to take a while to pool our information.”

Spider-Man and Krissi sat down.  He glanced at Krissi.  She nodded.

“So it all started when I heard about these unusual cases of sleepwalking…”

*******************************************

“Goddammit, Wade.  When I said you could use my place sometimes when you were in town, I didn’t think you’d be using it as a honey shack!” A familiar voice growled over the phone.

“Well, I couldn’t take a fine honey like that back to my place,” Deadpool shot back.  “Besides, I cleaned the place up after I left.  The only reason you even knew I was there, let alone getting freaky--”

“Please don’t say you were getting ‘freaky’.  I’ll never be able to burn the mental image out of my mind.”

‘--is because of your little princess’ uncanny sense of smell,” Deadpool finished. “And the only reason you care enough to call and berate me about it is because you need to cater to his delicate sensibilities or he won’t sleep with you again.”

“He’s not…! We’re not…!” The voice sputtered.

Deadpool smirked.  “It’s adorable how you think it’s not obvious that he has you completely wrapped around his finger.”

“Here, too?!” A second voice could be heard complaining in the background.  “That’s it!  You need a completely new apartment with all new furnishings!”

“Yeah, you can thank your daddy-in-law for Junior’s gift of smell.  Oh, and for my stamina.  That healing factor allows for the most incredible recovery times.  But you’re familiar with that little factoid already, I’m sure.”

“Fuck you, Wade.”

“Hey, don’t take it out on me that your little princess is making you sleep on the couch tonight.  No, wait, we did it there too.”

“It’s your fault in the first place for using my place as your private party pad!”

Alright, teasing aside.  Wade snapped back, “And it’s your fault you tried to cash in on the bounty on me.  YOU owe ME.”

He’s lucky we’re friends, pulling a shit move like that.

I’ll say.  We’ve killed guys for less than that.

Except we’re not killing anymore because we promised Spider-Man (again) that we wouldn’t.

Shh, he doesn’t know that.

‘Shh’? We’re voices/narrative boxes.  It’s not like Bullseye can hear us.

Oh, so we are saying his name after all?  I wasn’t sure.

Deadpool turned his attention back to his friend on the phone.

“--And you made me pay you a ton of money and give you keys to my penthouse.  Which you used as a sex pad!  We’re square now.”

“I suppose if you wanna get technical.  Look, I’m feeling generous, I got laid and I feel somewhat bad that I inadvertently cock-blocked you for the night.”

Bullseye sputtered again.

“So relax, Daddy Deadpool will fix it.”

Never call yourself that again,” Bullseye groaned.

“Answer the door.”

“What?  Why?  What’s at the door?  It’s not you, is it?  Because if it is you--”

Deadpool rolled his eyes.  “Just answer the damn door, dumbass.”

There was a long pause of silence before the phone was picked up again.  “...You brought in The Cleaners?”

“The best in the business.  They scrub places after S.H.I.E.L.D.’s rolled through; they’ll get your place so clean even Junior’ll forget that I’d ever been there.”

“I doubt that,” Bullseye muttered, but he did sound somewhat mollified.

“Or at least clean enough he’ll sleep with you again.”

“We’re not--!”

“Yeah, I don’t care.” Deadpool dismissed.

“Wade, I think I got something here,” a voice called out from the other room.

“I’ll be right there, Weaz,” Deadpool called back.  “Anyway, I gotta go, Rookie.  Go take your princess out for a night on the town to smooth his ruffled feathers and The Cleaners will have the place Deadpool-fragrance-free by the time you get back.”

“I’m changing the lock on my door,” Bullseye grumbled.

“Then I’ll just break in through the window.” Deadpool cheerfully replied.

“I should have killed you when I had the chance.”

“You never had a chance, Rookie. My heart belongs to another…”

Speaking of which, we had our phone in hand because we were about to call Peter.

I wonder if he’d be into phone sex.

“Maybe we should start with some sexting?” Deadpool wondered.

“...What are you even babbling about now?”

“Bye-bye, Bullseye!  Thanks for the entertaining cameo, but it’s time to call my lover and get back into the actual plot-type thing!” Deadpool cheerfully announced.  He took no notice of Bullseye’s parting shot, his mind already contemplating the possibilities of Spider-Man, sexting, and nude snapchat…

Chapter Text

Issue 31: The Three Times Peter had a Conversation He Needed to Have and the One Time He Didn’t

Peter banged, gently but loudly, on the door with his foot.  It opened a moment later.  Evan stood in the doorway with arms crossed and a disapproving frown on his face.

“I don’t know if I want to let you in,” he said.

Peter held up a box in his left hand.  “I brought pancakes.”

Evan sniffed.  “I prefer waffles.”

Peter held up the box in his right hand. “And waffles!”

“Well, alright, you bought your entrance, but that doesn't mean I’m going to listen to just anything you say.”

“Will you listen to a heartfelt apology?” Peter asked hopefully, as he followed Evan into the apartment.

“I don’t know.  It depends on how heartfelt.”

They entered the living room to find Krissi sitting on the couch, her back to them.  She looked up from her iPad and smiled brightly.  “Why, Peter, what a complete and utter surprise.”

“Hmpf.  I see the two of you have been plotting,” Evan grumbled.  He flopped down onto his chair at his computer desk.

“Here, Peter, have a seat,” Krissi pointed to the other side of the couch.  “Let me go get us  plates and some drinks.  What do you want?  Coffee?”

“That would be great, thanks.”

“Evan?” Krissi directed, pointedly.

“Coffee as black as my mood,” Evan muttered.

“Yes, love.”  She got up, grabbed the food out of his hands, and left Peter alone with her boyfriend. Peter cautiously turned back towards Evan. He still had his arms crossed and had added a surly expression into the mix, just in case it wasn’t clear enough that he was still pissed off at Peter.

Yeah. No pressure or anything.

Peter took a deep breath and began. “I wanted to apologize for my words and actions at New Year’s.  In my fear and ignorance, I treated you in a way you did not deserve to be treated.  That was a low point for me and it has weighed on my mind ever since.  You offered me truth that I was too afraid to hear.  I repaid your honesty by lashing out.  I was an asshole.  I hurt you.  I deeply apologize.”

“Well, that’s a start at least,” Evan sniffed.  He sounded dismissive, but Peter could see a touch of pink at the tip of his ears and the shine in his eyes.  Evan was more pleased with the apology than he was letting on.

Oh good, Peter was on the right track.  He continued, “This may not come as much of a surprise to you, but it came as a huge revelation to me: I’m gay.”

That statement brought a strong reaction from Evan.  His eyes widened and he sat up in his seat.  “Alright, I guess now I’m invested in what you have to say.”

Peter looked at him questioningly.  He hadn’t thought Evan would be that surprised by his coming out.  Based on what Krissi had said, he figured Evan pretty much already knew.

“I do appreciate your apology, and I can feel how heartfelt it was, but it means more to me that you’re actually being honest with yourself now and you’re comfortable sharing that with me,” Evan explained.  “I was getting really tired of having to walk on eggshells around both Harry and you.  If you were still rejecting the idea that you were anything but straight, we’d just have a repeat of New Year’s in another six months; I’d say something and you’d defensively reject it. And frankly, I’ve had enough rejection from people based on sexuality in my life.  As a bi man, I’ve been rejected by both straight people for being ‘gay’ and gay guys for being ‘straight’. I hate others trying to box me in, and I hated watching you box yourself in.  You’re my friend, even if you seriously hurt my feelings at New Year’s.  And the two plus months of radio silence since then didn’t help.”

Peter swallowed.  That was hard to hear, but he couldn’t deny the truth of what Evan said.  “I’m really sorry.”

“I accept your apology, Peter.  Just don’t be an ass like that again.”

“I promise I won’t.  Though... I can’t promise that I won’t find new ways to be an ass in the future,” Peter said ruefully.

“Probably, but aren’t we all?” Evan smirked, “Of course, now that you’re out as gay, I’m sure you’ll be learning all kinds of new things about ass…”

Peter blushed crimson.

“Evan!  He might have realized he’s gay, but he’s still our adorably shy boy!” Krissi scolded as she returned to the living room.

She carried a large tray with three plates stacked high with pancakes and waffles, garnished with fresh fruit.  There were knives, forks, and napkins--cloth, not paper.  Peter knew from experience that it would be real maple syrup, heated, in the tiny, adorable pitcher; and there were three cups of coffee.  Mocha, most likely, for Krissi, black with two sugars for Peter, and coffee as ‘black as Evan’s mood’ for Evan--a light tan color from all the cream and sugar Krissi had added for him.

As they ate, Evan returned to the topic of Peter’s sexuality.

“So what brought on this realization that you’re gay?” he asked between bites.

“I fell in love,” Peter admitted.

Evan arched an eyebrow.  “Let me guess: with a guy?”

“With a guy,” Peter confirmed, smiling.

Evan grinned.  “And does this guy return your feelings?”

Now Peter was also full on grinning as well.  “We are officially going out.”

“So when do I get to meet him?”

Peter winced.  “That’s going to be a little difficult, actually.”  He glanced at Krissi.  She was looking down at her coffee.

Evan didn’t miss the exchange.  “Oh?” he prompted.

“He’s in Krissi’s line of work,” Peter explained.

“Oooh,” Evan said, understanding flashing through his eyes.  He didn’t, and couldn’t, know the exact details of Krissi’s work, but he knew she was a spy of sorts.  “So this guy...?”

“Classified,” Peter confirmed.

“And how you met?”

“Classified.”

Evan pouted.  “Can I least know his first name?”

Peter smiled again.  “It’s Wade.”

Evan looked over at Krissi.  “Have you vetted this guy?  Is he good for our Petey?”

“He makes Peter happy,” Krissi replied diplomatically.

Evan seemed to take that as more of an answer than it was, which Peter appreciated.  He knew Deadpool wasn’t the type of guy either of them would have wanted him to fall in love with, but he was glad they accepted his choice without making him try to justify himself.

“I’m happy for you,” Evan told Peter, “but I’m also very put out.  I’m glad you found someone that makes you happy, but with him being classified, well, that is going to put a bit of a damper on double-dates.”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Peter agreed.

“But not necessarily phone calls,” Krissi said into her mug, her tone deceptively mild.

“What’s this about phone calls?” Evan asked, perking up.

Peter blushed and hid his face in his hands.

“Oh, look how he blushes!  Now I really need to know what’s going on with these phone calls!”

Peter groaned.  He was never going to live this down.

*******************************************

The next person on his list of people to come out to was Harry, so a few days after his conversations with Krissi and Evan, he’d gone over to Harry’s place with the intention of telling him.  Really he had.  But as the afternoon was winding down, and he still hadn’t been able to bring it up, he was running out of opportunity.  The end credits rolled on the game they’d just beaten.  It was now or never.  Peter took a deep breath.

“H--”

“Peter, we should talk.”

Peter swallowed down the rest of Harry’s name in surprise.  “Yes?” he squeaked out.

Harry kept his eyes on the T.V. screen as he said, “I was talking to Krissi last night.”

Peter’s heart thudded loudly as his mouth went dry.  “Oh?”

Harry opened his mouth and closed it.  He frowned and tried again, but had no further success.

Peter couldn’t take the suspense.  “What is it, Harry?”

“Why didn’t you tell me, Peter?” Harry finally burst out.

Krissi wouldn’t have told Harry about Peter’s sexuality before Peter could talk with him.  That didn’t seem like a thing she’d do, but what else would Harry have to talk about that would elicit such hesitation to bring up?

“...Tell you what?”

“That you lost your job.”

“Oh.”  Yeah, that was another can of worms he’d been withholding from everyone.  

“I’m your best friend.  Why didn’t you tell me something that big?  Did you think I’d look down on you?”

Peter shook his head.  “Not you.  Your father.  I didn’t want any more reason for your father to look down on me.”

“I’m not my father,” Harry bit out.

“I know.  I’m sorry,” Peter apologized.  Harry wasn’t his father.  He didn’t look down on Peter for being poor like his father did.  Maybe he wouldn’t look down on Peter for being gay, either.  Peter started to feel a glimmer of hope that his confession wouldn’t go badly after all.  But he was getting ahead of himself.  First, he had to explain his lack of job to Harry.  “I didn’t want to worry you.  I’d hoped I’d have found a job by now so it wouldn’t matter.”

“And have you?”

“No,” Peter admitted.  “I’m either too qualified for the menial jobs and they hire kids like half my age or I don’t have any experience for the professional gigs, and I can’t afford to do unpaid internships.”

“I can’t believe your boss just fired you,” Harry grumbled.

Peter shrugged.  “I have had to miss a lot of days of work.”

“But you were stabbed in a mugging!  That’s not your fault!” Harry exclaimed, angry on Peter’s behalf.

Peter winced at the lie.  It was the cover-story that Krissi had come up with to explain his injuries.  It wasn’t like he could tell Harry or Aunt May what had really happened, but he hadn’t liked lying to them, or having Krissi lie to them for him.

“At least he didn’t contest my unemployment benefits?” Peter offered.

Harry nearly had apoplexy at the notion that Peter’s old boss would have contested.  “He should never have fired you in the first place!  That’s discrimination!”

“It’s really not,” Peter sighed.  “Besides, I never liked working for him anyway.  Maybe losing that job is actually the opportunity I’ve needed to go out there and find something in the career I’ve really wanted.”

“That’s… that’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about,” Harry said.  “After Krissi told me you weren’t working anymore, I spent all night trying to figure out what I could do to help.”

Peter looked at him sharply.  “Your father has said in no uncertain terms that you’re not to ‘play favorites’ and get me a job at Oscorp, or any of its subsidiaries.  He’ll never allow it.”

Harry shook his head. “That’s not what I mean.  I can help you out another way.”  He reached over to his briefcase and pulled out a slip of paper.

It was a check.  Peter’s eyes bulged.  A very big check.

“I might not be in a position to get you a job, but I can at least help cover your living expenses for a while,” Harry explained.  “So you have time to look for something, or do that unpaid internship you need to get experience for your career.”

Peter pushed the check back to Harry.  “I can’t…!  This is too much!”

“C’mon, Peter, you know this is pocket change for me,” Harry replied.

Peter knew Harry was trying to downplay it so it wouldn’t seem like a big deal, but the idea that the money that could pay for his rent and food and pretty much everything else he needed for most of the next year was just ‘pocket change’ struck a nerve.

“Harry, I--”

“Please, Peter.  Let me help you,” Harry pleaded and pushed the check into Peter’s hands.

Peter looked down at the check and sighed.  “Thank you, Harry, but before I accept this, I think there’s something you should know first.”

“What is it?”

“I’ve done a lot of soul-searching recently,” Peter explained.  “And I’ve come to realize something about myself.”  He paused, swallowed, then finished in a rush, “There’s no easy way to tell you this, so I’ll just come right out: I’m gay.”

Harry looked at him blankly.

“I’m gay.”  When that still didn’t seem to sink in, Peter added, “I’m attracted to other men.”

“You can’t be,” Harry said flatly.

“I am very certain I am.”

Harry pulled away from Peter.  “You’re not gay!  You’ve only ever dated girls!”

Peter bit back a retort that it was because Harry pushed those relationships on him.  He couldn’t let this become an all-out fight, even with Harry’s rising anger.  Instead, he replied as calmly as he could, “I was never satisfied in those relationships.  Something was always missing.  And now I finally realize why.  I was never in love with the women I’ve dated.”

“Yes, you were!” Harry shouted, jumping to his feet.  “You’ve been obsessed with Gwen, unable to get past your breakup with her!”

“No, it’s not that I was hung up on her.  I just wasn’t ready to be in another relationship.  I didn’t want to date another girl.  Now I realize I don’t want to date any girl.”

Harry paced the few feet in front of the couch.  He stopped, his back to Peter.  “So you want to date guys, huh?”

“Yes,” Peter answered, refraining from mentioning that he already was. Peter stood up and reached out to touch Harry’s shoulder but stopped just before he made contact.  He pulled his hand back and clutched it to his chest.  “Look, I understand this isn’t easy for you.  It wasn’t easy for me either.  It took a long while for me to accept that I was gay, but when I did, suddenly, everything in my life made more sense.  Nothing has felt more right.  I am gay,” Peter said with finality.

“How could you do this to me?!” Harry exploded.  He whirled to face Peter, his face distorted into unfamiliarity with anger.

“Harry, this isn’t about you--”

Harry loomed over him.  “You’ve been lying to me all this time!”

“I haven’t, really… I only just figured it out myself--”

“Do you know how often I’ve defended you to my father?  ‘No, Peter isn’t a homo, he’s got a girlfriend’.  

“You’re not your father--” Peter started.

“And you’re not my friend!” Harry yelled back.

Peter felt that like a physical blow to his gut.

“Get out of my house!  Get out of my life!” Harry raged.

Choking back his tears, Peter fled out of the room and down the stairs.  He nearly ran into a maid but twisted away moments before a collision.

“Ex-cuse me!” She scolded after him.

He reached the front door when he heard Harry call out, “Peter, wait!”

Peter stopped, his eyes stinging with unshed tears, his throat tight, and his heart pounding in his chest.  What did Harry want now?  Had he calmed down already?  Was he going to apologize?  Could they still be friends even if Peter was gay?

Harry came down the stairs and walked across the foyer towards Peter, keeping his head down.  He was holding a piece of paper which he thrust at Peter.

“Just take it,” Harry ordered.  

Confused, Peter took it.  It was the check Harry had tried giving him upstairs.

“I don’t want to think about you forced out onto the streets,” Harry muttered, still not looking up.  He looked like he was about to say something else.  A flicker of some emotion--sadness or regret, perhaps--and then he turned away.  Without another word, he retreated back into his house, never once meeting Peter’s eye.

*******************************************

Peter only got about halfway to his place before he could no longer hold back his tears.  He snuck around into the nearest alleyway and scaled the building.  In the relative privacy of the empty rooftop, he allowed himself to curl into a fetal position and cry.

He cried with abandon until eventually his tears ran out and all he could do was gasp out a few hiccupy sobs. Harry--his best friend, his best friend of over ten years--had told him to get lost.  They were no longer friends.

He didn’t know what to do with himself now.  He didn’t want to go home.  He didn’t want to do anything.  Well, maybe he wanted to move so he wasn’t lying on the dirty rooftop.  He pushed himself up as far as a seated position, but he couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to stand.

He reached into his pocket and grabbed his phone.  A piece of paper came out with it, and it took Peter a moment to recognize it as the check Harry had given him.  He set his phone down beside him and picked up the check.  Holding it in front of him, he read over both the large sum and Harry’s signature.  He shifted his grip to tear it in half.

No.

He stopped himself before he actually made a tear.  His financial situation was too dire to rip up a check that big on a matter of pride.  He’d give himself a few days for his emotions to cool. If he still felt the need to rip up the check, then he’d do it; but not now when the hurt was so fresh.

For now, he refolded the check and slipped it into his back pocket.

He picked up his phone.  He didn’t really want to call Krissi and Evan for comfort.  Evan at least would likely have a few ‘told you so’s’ and at the moment Peter didn’t want to--couldn’t--hear it.

Really, he wanted to call Wade.  Peter wanted to hear Wade’s voice.  No, more than that… He wanted Wade to return from wherever he was.  He wanted to see Wade in person, have Wade wrap him up in his arms, and tell Peter that it was alright.

Peter brought up Wade’s name in his phone contacts--it was under Wade on this phone and under Deadpool on his Spider-Man phone--but he stopped himself before he hit send.

He didn’t want to be a bother to Wade.  Sure, they’d been texting each other the past few days, but only random stuff, nothing serious.  Their relationship wasn’t the type where he could call him up to cry that his best friend had dumped him.  He wasn’t certain Wade would care, and he didn’t want that suspicion confirmed.

Peter was so caught up in his indecision that he nearly dropped his phone when it buzzed in his hands.  He juggled the phone for a half moment before he got a solid hold on it again.  By that point, the phone was no longer ringing and he discovered that he had hung up on whoever was calling him with his flailing.  He hit redial without even checking who had called.  Part of him wondered if Wade had read his mind.  Another part hoped that Harry was calling to apologize.

But it was neither Wade or Harry’s voice that said his name.  “Peter?” Aunt May asked.

“Hi, Aunt May, sorry.  I accidentally hit the call end button,” Peter said in a rush.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

Peter didn’t think he sounded particularly upset, but his aunt had always been rather astute to his moods.  “Oh, I’m...”

His first instinct was to declare that he was fine--it was nothing.  But it wasn’t nothing and he wasn’t ‘fine’.  He wanted to tell her ‘everything’, but he couldn’t tell her everything.  He couldn’t tell her he was Spider-Man, he couldn’t tell her about Wade.  He could and would tell her about his fight with Harry and his realization that he was gay, but he couldn’t tell her over the phone.

“Can I come over?” he asked like he was a little boy again.

“Yes, of course, Peter.  Where are you?  I’ll send an Uber car to you.”

“You don’t have to--”

“No, I don’t have to, but I’m going to,” Aunt May declared.

There was no arguing with her when she got that tone of voice.  Peter gave the address of a coffee shop he knew was nearby and thanked her before hanging up.  If he left now, he’d probably get to the place before the driver.

*******************************************

Aunt May greeted him at the door with a plate full of fresh-from-the-oven cookies and a cup of steaming, hot tea.

Of all the people that he’d wanted to come out to, he’d been the least worried about telling Aunt May.  Peter had no doubt of her love for him.  But he was still hurting from Harry’s reaction and even though he knew Aunt May wouldn't react like that, he was still scared to say anything.

Aunt May didn’t even ask.  She just herded him into the living room, plopped him onto the couch, and gave him both the plate of cookies and the cup of tea.  Peter curled his knees up to his chest with the plate of cookies balanced on them and the tea in hand.  

“Tea. Tea is good,” Peter murmured, quoting an old saying of his aunt’s.

“Tea is good,” Aunt May agreed.  “And so are the cookies.  Eat up.”

Peter dutifully shoveled the cookies into his mouth and drank his tea.  Aunt May wouldn’t let him talk until he had finished both the cookies and the tea.

“There.  Life isn’t quite so terrible anymore, is it?”

“Yeah.  Thank you, Aunt May.”

Peter set his plate and cup down onto the coffee table and turned to Aunt May.  “This isn’t easy to say,” he confessed.

Aunt May reached out and took hold of Peter’s hand.  She gave it a squeeze.  The contact eased the worst of Peter’s anxiety.

“Aunt May, I’m… I’m gay.”

She set her mug down onto the coffee table next to Peter’s.  With it safely out of hand, she then threw her arms around Peter and pulled him into a full embrace.  They hugged for several minutes, Peter soaking in the love and support from his aunt.

After a few moments more he pulled back.  She kept her hands on his shoulders and looked at him straight in the eye.

“Peter, you can love whoever you want, and I won’t love you any less,” Aunt May assured.  “Well, maybe if you got involved with a married person, because cheating is wrong.”  She seemed to consider that for a moment, and further qualified, “Unless it’s an open relationship.  But I would strongly suggest you don’t get involved with a poly relationship.  You have a tendency towards jealousy.”

“Aunt May!” Peter exclaimed, scandalized.  While comforted by her assurance of unconditional love, Peter felt rather disturbed that his aunt even knew what poly relationships were, let alone that she had formed an opinion of him being in one.

“Now, am I correct in assuming that this outpouring of pent-up emotion on your part was not actually related to telling me that you were gay?”

“I just got back from telling Harry,” Peter admitted.

“Ah,” Aunt May said with understanding.

“It didn’t go very well,” Peter told her.

“No, I can’t imagine it did.”

Peter related the entire conversation that he’d had with Harry, including his confusion over why Harry had still given him the check.

“I think, deep down,” Peter concluded, “I always knew he was homophobic.  I just… I just…”

“You just hoped that his love for you would help him move past that,” Aunt May finished for him.

“Something like that,” Peter agreed.

“His father’s homophobia is just a crutch.  It’s how he’s allowing himself to process his fear, rather than examine what is actually the cause of it.”

“His fear?”

“He’s afraid of losing you.”

Peter snorted.  “He did a great job of overcoming that fear by chasing me out of his house.”

“But he didn’t completely chase you away, did he?  He still has a connection with you.”

Seeing his look of confusion, Aunt May explained, “The check.  He stopped you before you could leave to give you that check.  It gives him some connection with you still, some control over you.  And that’s what he really fears; you not needing him anymore.  You must realize, Peter, how co-dependent he is with you.  He needs you, and he needs you to need him, and to follow him.  All of your friends, all of your girlfriends--he’s given them to you.”

“That’s not true,” Peter insisted.  “I met Krissi on my own--”

“And let me guess, he didn’t really like Krissi and only gave in when it was clear Krissi was strong-willed enough not to get chased away.”

That… was true.  Harry hadn’t liked Krissi and Evan at first.

“If… If he’s been so co-dependent, why haven’t you said something before now?  Why didn’t you tell me he wasn’t a good friend?”

Aunt May shrugged.  “Because he has been a good friend to you, mostly, and he really has never been able to control you as much as he thinks he can, and you’ve been blissfully unaware of his manipulative tendencies.  He doesn’t have his father’s master manipulation abilities, and you have a strong core of steel under your easy-going nature.  You follow along with his whims when you want, and do your own thing when you want.  And now he’s smarting because, despite all his efforts to push you the way he wanted, you came out to him as gay.”

“And now he hates me.”

She patted his hand.  “Give him some time.  Let him cool down and think on it.  Heaven knows he could use some soul-searching himself.  Besides, the fact that he still gave you that check tells me that he’s not ready to completely toss you out of his life.”

“Do you think I should cash it?” Peter fretted.

“Peter, only the rich can afford pride.  Cash it.  Give it a day or three so if he changes his mind, he can cancel the check at the bank but then go ahead and cash it. Think of it as his pre-apology for when he comes to his senses.  And if he doesn’t, when you’ve got some extra money in hand again, donate that amount to a shelter for homeless LGBT+ teens, and pay it forward to someone else who could use a boost.”

“Thanks.  That’s a great idea.”

Having given her advice, Aunt May got up to get them more tea.  “So.  I suspect you didn’t just come to the realization that you were gay on your own.”

Peter gave a small smile.  “You’re right, Aunt May, I have found someone.”

“So when are you going to bring him over for supper?”

His smile disappeared.  It wasn’t that he didn’t think they’d get along; quite the contrary, he had a feeling they’d get on famously, particularly at his expense.  But Wade couldn’t come over as Deadpool.  Would Wade be willing to visit as Wade, out of his Deadpool suit?  He was extremely insecure about his looks as it was, without adding in the pressure of meeting his boyfriend’s family.  And even without the Deadpool suit, Peter couldn’t be sure Aunt May wouldn’t recognize the name ‘Wade Wilson’ from the news reports on Deadpool.

How would that go?  ‘Yeah, Aunt May, this is my boyfriend Deadpool, who, you might know from the news, hangs out with this guy Spider-Man, who I am totally not!’

By this point, Peter had been silent too long to comfortably come up with an excuse.

Aunt May frowned.  “He's not married, is he?”

Peter shook his head.  “No, just not in a place where he can be open.”

“That’s unfortunate.  Are you going to be okay living with part of your life having to be kept secret?”

That brought a rueful smile to his face.  “I’ll manage.”

“It’s not easy to be in a secret relationship.”

Peter suspected that he was much more intimately familiar with that fact than his aunt, but before he could reassure her that he’d be fine, his phone buzzed.

A quick glance at the screen showed that Wade had texted him.  Peter swiped his messages open to read what he’d sent.  His brows creased in confusion.  It looked like an address.

“What’s this?” he wondered.

“What’s what?” Aunt May asked.

His phone buzzed again.  This time, Wade was calling.

“Wade?” Peter asked when he answered the phone.

“Hey, babe, come on out to the address I sent you.  Weazel and I figured some stuff out.”

“Oh.  Now?” Peter hemmed as he tried to figure out the logistics of getting to New Jersey.  He needed his costume.  “I’d have to run home first… And I’m at my Aunt’s…”

“Go be with your boy,” Aunt May announced.  “I’ll call an Uber to get you back to your place so you can pack your overnight bag.”

Relief flooded Peter’s heart.   “Wade, it’ll be a few hours.”

Aunt May was already placing the call.

“Cool,” Wade told him.  “See you.”

He hung up.  Peter held his phone close for a moment before turning back to his aunt to thank her.

“It’ll be a few minutes before the Uber gets here,” Aunt May pointed out.  “In the meantime, finish your tea.  I’ll pack you up some more cookies for the road.  Try to save a few of them for Wade.”

“I love you, too, Aunt May.”

She beamed at him, then went off to the kitchen.  Peter drank his tea and waited, impatiently.

 

Chapter Text

Issue 32: The No Pants Thing

Spider-Man looked around anxiously.  It was one thing to go to an unknown address in the City, where he was at least familiar enough with the general terrain, and quite another thing to go to some random address in the middle of nowhere in some random city in New Jersey.  Okay, sure, maybe he shouldn’t say ‘middle of nowhere,’ since he was technically in the middle of a city, and that, by definition, was ‘somewhere,’ but considering the majority of the buildings around him were boarded up or abandoned, it felt rather ‘nowhere.’  At least there was some light coming down from the windows of the building at the address Wade had given him, which was more than he could say about any of the neighboring places.  

The familiar knot of anxiety clutched his gut, and Spider-Man shifted his grip on the car uneasily.  He was glad he didn’t come alone -- not that the delivery-man realized he’d had a stowaway.  As Spider-Man carefully detached from the back of the car, the delivery-man sauntered up to the unmarked door and knocked loudly.

The door opened, and Spider-Man was relieved to see Wade’s familiar form silhouetted in the door.  His relief didn’t last.  What was Wade doing in just his boxers and a t-shirt?  Okay, he did have his mask on, but he was still hanging out with Weasel without pants!  What the hell?!

Wade pulled a gun on the delivery-man.  “I didn’t order any pizza,” he growled.

“But I did,” Spider-Man hurried to explain before things got violent.  He stepped forward into the light spilling out of the doorway, allowing Wade to see that the pizza-man wasn’t dangerous, and would he please put that gun down?

“Spidey!” Wade proclaimed, his joyful expression apparent even through his mask.  He held his arms out openly for an embrace.

“No hugs with guns,” Spider-Man scolded in a tone he hoped sounded teasing and not nagging.

“Oh, right,” Wade replied, a touch abashed.  He tucked the gun behind him.  Except...

“Did you seriously just tuck your gun into your boxers?”

Wade shrugged.  “Didn’t grab my belt.”

Spider-Man shook his head.  At least Wade wasn’t waving his gun around anymore.  That was some improvement.  “Anyway, if you would be so kind as to pay this gentlemen…” Spider-Man trailed off.  He really hoped Wade could pay him.  If Spider-Man had to, he wouldn’t have enough for a return ticket back to the City.

“I dunno about that.  It depends on what kind of pizza it is.”

The delivery-man, completely blasé about having had a gun pulled on him, looked down at the slip.  “Large pineapple and black olive, well-done crust.”

“Well, in that case…” Wade turned his head and shouted up the stairs, “Throw me down a twenty!”

“What?  Who’s at the door?” Weasel’s voice called from somewhere further in the building.  “Is it Girl Scouts?  If it’s Girl Scouts, I want twenty dollars’ worth of Thin Mints alone!”

Girl Scouts?  Really?!  What would Girl Scouts be doing in this kind of neighborhood, let alone at this time of night?

Weasel came downstairs. Or maybe not.  It sounded like him, and even looked similar, about the same height and build, but that wasn’t Weasel.  He must be one of Wade’s other friends.  Maybe Weasel’s brother?

Not-Weasel threw an arm around Wade’s shoulder and looked through the door.  “Oh, pizza.  When did you order pizza?  What kind did you get?”

The delivery-man checked the slip again, as if he hadn’t just read it a minute before.  “Pineapple and black olive, well-done crust.”

“Ugh!  Why’d you order that shit, Wade?  You could have at least gotten half that wasn’t inedible!”

Who was this guy and why was he acting all familiar with Wade?  He called Wade ‘Wade,’ and he was still standing with his arm draped over Wade’s shoulders while they were bickering good-naturedly!  Spider-Man expected that behavior with Weasel, since he and Wade were obviously close friends, but did Wade act like that around everyone he knew?  Maybe all that flirting with Spider-Man really hadn’t meant anything.  Did Wade even like him or was he just lonely enough to hook-up with Spider-Man anyway?

With the pizza paid for and the delivery-man walking back to his car, Spider-Man felt all but forgotten as he watched Wade and his friend make their way inside, still bantering back and forth.  They’d gone a few steps before Wade seemed to remember Spider-Man’s existence.  He turned back to look over his shoulder at Spider-Man and asked, “Coming in?”

Spider-Man shifted his backpack on his shoulder and followed, but he wished he hadn’t come after all.  Wade had called him over to Weasel’s place to fill him in on some new information, so this trip was for business, not for fun. But Spider-Man had just had a huge fight and break-up with his best friend of ten years.  Would it have been too much to ask, for his boyfriend to notice that something was wrong?

There was a door at the top of the stairs that had fallen shut just as Spider-Man reached it.  Wade hadn’t even held the door open for him.  With a grumble, Spider-Man pushed the door open and got hit by a blast of heat.  Damn, it was like a sauna.  Besides being overly warm, the apartment was run-down in a ‘person who lives here can’t be bothered to clean or maintain it very well’ sort of way.  Still, it was huge compared to Spider-Man’s place, and it was filled with a variety of electronics, toys, and figurines--a geek’s dream pad. Whoever owned this place, be it Weasel or this other guy who was friends with Wade, they clearly had more wealth to throw around than Spider-Man did.  Poor, unemployed Peter, who had to have his boyfriend’s friend pay for the pizza he wanted to surprise his boyfriend with.

Speaking of which-- Wade and his friend had already settled onto the couch and a chair respectively.  They were still joking and teasing each other back and forth as they opened the pizza box, leaving Spider-Man standing alone in the doorway.  The last time he’d felt this awkward at someone’s house, it had been one of Harry’s parties.  He expected that when he was at Harry’s -- everybody knew and liked Harry, and Peter was just this quiet nerd that everyone ignored.  Spider-Man tightened his hands into fists and released them, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.  Wade had called him here, but if Wade was just going to ignore him, what was Spider-Man doing here?

“But seriously, couldn’t you have ordered at least half the pizza not disgusting?” Wade’s friend grumbled as he picked the toppings off his pizza and flicked them onto the pizza box lid.  They weren’t using any plates or even napkins; they were just eating the pizza in their hands straight from the box.

“I didn’t order it.  Spidey did,” Wade retorted.  As he said that, he seemed to remember that Spider-Man was actually there with them.  He looked up and around the room before noticing Spider-Man still in the doorway.  “Come on, Spidey, grab a slice and come sit next to me,” Wade ordered.

Spider-Man moved forward mechanically and sat stiffly on the couch near Wade.  Deciding that Spider-Man was taking too long, Wade picked up and thrust a slice at him.  Spider-Man took it in hand as gingerly as he could so his gloves touched only the crust and not the sauce or cheese.

Wade reached forward to grab another slice which was actually two slices, one folded onto the other in an imitation of a calzone.  Then he leaned back, his leg brushing against Spider-Man’s thigh.  That slight touch was enough to send a jolt through Spider-Man.  He straightened his back and shifted his legs away.  

Wade switched his pizza-calzone into his other hand and threw his arm around Spider-Man’s shoulders and pulled him close.  Spider-Man tensed.

Through the creases of his mask, Spider-Man could see Wade’s brows furrowed in hurt and confusion.  Wade withdrew his arm.

Great.  Now besides feeling exhausted and overheated and anxious and jealous, Spider-Man also felt like a grade-A jerk.  Wade had feared and expected that Spider-Man would kick him out of bed after a day and half being intimate--what was he going to think about Spider-Man pushing him away now after not seeing each other for a week?  

But couldn’t Wade get a clue that Spider-Man was upset, and that maybe there was a better time and place for cuddling than in front of some random person he didn’t know in that person’s living room?  A random person who Wade had been all touchy-feely with, draping their arms around each other’s shoulders and joking and stuff.  A random person who Wade felt comfortable enough to be around out of his Deadpool suit.  Without his pants!  Heck, it’d been like ten minutes by that point and he still didn’t know Wade’s friend’s name!

“Aren’t you going to introduce us?” Spider-Man hissed to Wade.

Wade looked at him, even more puzzled.  “You’ve met before.  He delivered the Falcon wings to me, remember?”

“Weasel brought the wings.”

“Yes,” Wade agreed.

“That isn’t Weasel,” Spider-Man stated.  It was a statement he didn’t think he needed to make as it seemed rather obvious, but apparently, it needed to be said.

“Yeah, it is.”

Maybe there was some logical explanation for this wide difference of perception, and maybe Spider-Man should just let it go, but he was too tired and too frustrated at this point to stop himself from blurting out, “That looks nothing like Weasel!” It wasn’t exactly true--there was definitely a resemblance--but Spider-Man was not willing to give any ground by admitting to semantics.

“Do you think I wouldn’t recognize my own friend?”  Wade sounded bewildered and hurt.

“I don’t know what to think other than it feels like you’re trying to gaslight me to cover for the fact that you’re sleeping with someone else!”

Spider-Man regretted the words even as he was saying them, but he left them hanging out there without trying to take them back.

Wade’s mouth opened, his brows furrowed first in confusion, then in anger.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” the man across the room broke in.

On one hand, Spider-Man was grateful for the interruption before he could stick his foot any further into his mouth, but on the other hand, he was rather mortified to realize his whispered conversation with Wade had become a shouting match in front of the stranger.

“I’m sorry,” Spider-Man muttered.

“I don’t know wh--I would never sleep with Wade!--I mean, why--?” the man sputtered out.  He shook his head and continued more calmly, “But I am Weasel, though.  Just, look...”

He brought his hand up to the side of his face.  He pressed his fingers into his skin, and then he peeled his face off.  The face flickered as it came off in one continuous piece.  Underneath was another face, the one Spider-Man recognized as Weasel from when he met him before.  In his hand was a shimmering cloth-like material.

Spider-Man’s eyes widened.  He dropped his half-eaten slice of pizza onto the box lid as he leaned forward to get a closer look.  “What is that?!” he exclaimed.

Weasel gave a humble shrug of his shoulders.  “A bit of wearable tech I’ve been tinkering with.  Based off a S.H.I.E.L.D. design.”  He brought the mask up to his jaw and pressed it back over his face.  It shimmered and altered his appearance again, so he looked neither like his original self or how he had looked minutes before.

“Think of the possibilities of a mask in that…” Spider-Man breathed.  “Heck, my entire costume!”  He could change from hero to civilian in seconds!

“Unfortunately, besides the sheer cost of the material, breathability is a serious issue with this stuff,” Weasel stated.  “I wouldn’t recommend having something that encased your entire head, let alone your whole body.”

Disappointed, Spider-Man sat back down and noted, “Well, at least even one like yours could be super handy -- changing your face into a completely different face like that.”

“Oh, for sure.  Particularly when you’re being hunted down because of your connection with a certain mercenary with a bounty on his head,” Weasel grumbled.

Spider-Man was about to commiserate when Wade cut in.

“Make me one,” Wade demanded.

“You couldn’t afford it,” Weasel shot back.

“I’m rich!”

“Not currently.  You’re broke.  Right now, I’m the one funding everything.  Besides, what would you even need one of these for?  You already have a mask.”

“I don’t care, I want one,” Wade insisted.

Spider-Man rolled his eyes.  Wade just wanted to have all the toys.  He didn’t even need it--he didn’t have a secret identity to hide like Spider-Man did!  Before the conversation between Wade and Weasel could devolve any further, Spider-Man turned back to Weasel and asked, “How does it work?”

“Well, it’s made up of micro-computers that can take a 3D scan of a face…”

Spider-Man settled back onto the couch as he listened to the explanation.  

Wait.

That wasn’t a cushion.  That was Wade’s shoulder.  He was leaning against Wade’s shoulder.

Should he move?  Or would that seem awkward at this point?  They hadn’t really resolved their argument from a few minutes ago, but the last time he’d pulled away, it had upset Wade.  He didn’t want Wade to think he didn’t want them to touch…

It was just… his head… touching...

Crap!

Spider-Man jerked awake.  He’d started to drift off.  Spider-Man forced his attention back onto Weasel, solidly not looking at Wade.

“--But I opted to have the mask shuffle features, not to match an existing face, but to change mine enough not to register as mine--”

Spider-Man’s eyes blinked closed again.  He was just so worn out, and it was so warm in here...  Maybe he could rest his eyes for just a moment while Weasel talked…

*************************************

“I spy with my little eye something… red.”

It’s Spider-Man.

“Wow, you guys are good at this.  Okay, how about this one: I spy with my little eye something… blue!”

It’s Spider-Man.

Literally, the only thing we can see since the battery on our phone died is Spider-Man.

And the back of the couch.  And maybe a pillow.

There is nothing to see, and there is nothing to do.

Except Spider-Man.

Yeah, let’s not be the creepy guy who molests someone in his sleep.

Particularly considering how clear he made it that he didn’t want us touching him last night.

That was a mood killer.

“He did come out here when I called…” he suggested.

He came out here for the news you were supposed to tell him.

And that you proceeded to not actually tell him.

“Hey, that’s not fair.  He fell asleep before we could talk.  And he brought pizza, so we had to eat it first.”

The pizza he got and didn’t even eat.  We’re going to have to keep an eye on him and whether he’s eating enough.  He’s still a bit underweight compared to how he was this summer.

That is assuming he’s not going to tell us to get lost as soon as he wakes up.  He really didn’t seem like he wanted to be around us.

He probably wants to keep our relationship a secret.

Can’t blame him.  

Deadpool wanted to scream from the rooftops that Spider-Man--the real, genuine Spider-Man--was maybe sort of his boyfriend, but if Spidey wanted it a secret, he could keep it on the down-low.

He’d only told Weasel about him and Spider-Man.  And the Chinese delivery man.  And the taxi driver.  And that woman at the restaurant.  And those couple of homeless guys out at the docks.  Oh, and Bullseye.  And Daken had been there when he’d been on the phone with Bullseye.  And the Cleaners…

So maybe he had let it slip a bit…

Far be it for us to lessen your guilt, but some of those you didn’t actually say it was Spider-Man you were with.

And again, this is all assuming he still wants to be in a relationship with us, which is anything but certain.

“If the price of keeping him is keeping quiet, I can be the Merc who Doesn’t Have a Mouth on That Particular Topic.”

That is incredibly nonsensical sounding, even for you.

“Hmm?” Spider-Man mumbled against Deadpool’s chest.

Deadpool tensed into stillness, not even daring to breath.  Spider-Man smacked his lips lightly and nuzzled his face onto Deadpool’s chest.

Ho, don’t do it!

Too late.

It was too much.  Deadpool couldn’t resist.  He brought his hand up to rest on the small of Spider-Man’s back, pulling him close in a cuddle.

Spider-Man snapped awake.

Deadpool yanked his hand away.  “I didn't touch you!” he lied emphatically.

So not true.

Spider-Man sat up and looked sharply at Deadpool.

He’s wearing a mask.  You have no way of knowing if he’s looking at you sharply, accusingly, or blankly.

Oh, he’s looking at you sharply all right.

“You were the one who fell asleep on me!” Deadpool insisted.

Spider-Man sighed a long-suffering sigh before starting, “Can we-- that is-- Oh for crying out loud, I’m not going to have this conversation when my bladder is about to burst.  Where’s the bathroom?”

Deadpool pointed the way and Spider-Man was already heading down the hall.  “Second on the right,” Deadpool called after him.

Oh, he is so angry at you…

“I know,” Deadpool grumbled.

Didn’t even want to touch you angry...

“I got it already!” Deadpool snapped, leaping to his feet.

He’s gonna dump your sorry ass…

“I know, I know!”

Deadpool paced, hoping the motion would give him some relief from the taunting of the yellow voice in his head, a release of the energy driving him towards self-harm to drown out the voice detailing just how much he’d screwed up something perfect--

“I know, I know!” he chanted.

“What do you know?”

Deadpool stopped and turned.  He hadn’t realized Spider-Man had returned already.

“What do you know?” Spider-Man repeated.

“Uh… I know that you’re mad at me,” Deadpool ventured.

“I’m not mad.  It’s just…” Spider-Man trailed off.

Deadpool waited.

Finally, Spider-Man burst out, “Why aren’t you wearing any pants?”

Is that why he’s upset?

Why wouldn’t it be?  There is an awful lot of our hideous skin exposed.  It’s revolting.

Yeah, after a week away from him, this had to be quite a reminder of just how disgusting Deadpool was.  Fuck, he really didn’t want to think about how much Spider-Man’s revulsion hurt.  “Well, Weasel does keep it hot as fuck in here,” he prevaricated.

Not so much anymore.

What’s with the sudden cold draft emanating from Spider-Man?

First the ‘touching’, now with the ‘fucking’--he’s going to think that’s all we want from him.

“That wasn’t innuendo!” Deadpool rushed to point out.  “I’m not suggesting anything!”

“O-of course.  Why would you, when Weasel’s got you hot enough already,” Spider-Man bit out.

“Well, he does get me all sweaty,” Deadpool joked to lighten the mood.

Well, that plan just backfired.

Yeesh.  Is it just me, or did the temperature just drop another ten degrees?

Spider-Man is so done with us.

It almost sounds like he’s jealous or something.

“There is no way Spidey could be jealous!” Deadpool scoffed.

Spider-Man clenched his jaw.

What kind of reaction was that?

“You were supposed to laugh at how preposterous that idea was,” Deadpool explained, because clearly Spider-Man had missed the joke.

“I don’t find it very funny,” Spider-Man muttered.

“Well, see, I was saying how you, Spider-Man, couldn’t be jealous over me, Deadpool,” he explained.  It was too late to save the joke; jokes were never funny if you had to explain them, so he wasn’t expecting Spider-Man to laugh or anything.  He just didn’t expect Spider-Man to tense, his hands balled into fists at his side.

Looks like you hit a little too close to home with that remark.

No way.  If that was a close hit, then that would mean...

Deadpool’s eyes widened.  “You ARE jealous!” he crowed.  “OH EM GEE!  You are totally jealous!  This is amazing!”

“It’s not amazing!” Spider-Man protested.

No, it is rather amazing.

More like unbelievable.

“Spider-Man, THE SPIDER-MAN, is jealous over me!”

“You don’t have to act so happy about it!”

Is he… actually pouting?

He is!  He is totally pouting!

“It’s adorable!”

“It’s not adorable!  It’s not cute or funny or anything like that!  I don’t like feeling like this!  I’m unhappy and you’re treating it like a joke!”

Uh oh.  Danger Will Robinson!

“I’m sorry, but I’m just so happy that you like me enough to be feeling jealous.”  Deadpool let himself enjoy that for a moment more and he was totally going to paste it to his mental scrapbook of happy little memories he recalled when he couldn’t stand the loneliness of the night anymore.  Add a few hearts, maybe some metallic paint pen, and definitely some rainbow glitter sprinkled onto the page--

Your mindscape has enough glitter already.

FOCUS.

“Right, sorry, lost my train of thought for a second.  Anyway, as happy as I am, there really isn’t a reason for you to be jealous.”  Deadpool flopped onto the couch, kicking his legs up onto the coffee table and nearly knocking the pizza box off.  He patted the seat next to him for Spider-Man to sit down as well.

Spider-Man remained standing, crossing his arms over his chest.  “You’re not wearing any pants at some other guy’s apartment,” he pointed out.

“Okay, first of all, Weasel is straight,” Deadpool reasoned.

“So was I when you first met me,” Spider-Man grumbled.

“Ha!  My machismo turned you gay!”

And that was completely the wrong thing to say.

Yeesh, and I thought Spider-Man was tense already.  He’s practically a brick wall now.

Yeah, you’re terrible at this.

He’s going to dump your ass so fast now…

“You don’t have to tell me that!  I know I suck at this and he’s going to leave me!  I know--!”

Spider-Man placed his hand on Deadpool’s arm.  He was still standing and he still wasn’t looking at Deadpool, but it was the first time since he came over that Spider-Man had initiated contact.

He fell asleep on you.

Deadpool rolled his eyes.  “Purposeful contact,” he corrected.

Spider-Man let out a large sigh, and flopped down next to Deadpool on the couch, expelling much of the tension he carried along with the exhale of air.  “Wade, I’m not very good at this either, between my social anxiety, crippling self-doubt, and total inexperience with successful relationships, certainly relationships with someone like you…”

“What, insane?”

With a rueful chuckle, Spider-Man agreed.

Who are you calling ‘insane’?!

Uh…

“We’re both kinda messed up,” Spider-Man said.  “And just because you’re older and more experienced, it’s not fair of me to put the onus on you to be any better than I am at navigating this thing between us.”

Well, he’s not wrong that we should be the more mature one.

“I had a really rough day yesterday, and by the time I got out here I was really worn down,” Spider-Man explained.  “I was upset, and then I got more upset because you didn’t seem to notice or care that I was upset.  But I can’t blame you for not being able to read my mind.”

Wait… is he apologizing to US?

He IS!  We were the assholes and he’s actually apologizing to us!

“No, don’t apologize, baby!  I’m the idiot!  I noticed you were upset but I didn’t pick up on why -- And, actually, I still don’t get it.  How could you possibly be jealous over Weasel?”

“He’s older, and has more money.  I didn’t even have the money to pay for the pizza I got for you.  I brought pizza that you didn’t even ask for and then had to make you pay for it!  Hitching a ride with the delivery guy seemed the easiest way to get over here; I didn’t even think about it.”  Spider-Man wrung his hands.

“Baby, you don’t need money.  After a job or three, I can have all the money either of us could know what to do with.”

We do seem to throw money away whenever we have it.

Don’t get me started about that time with the ping pong balls.

Spider-Man continued as if he hadn’t heard Deadpool’s assurances, “And when I got here you were draped all over some stranger, who turned out to be Weasel and not a stranger, but I didn’t know that at the time, but then it’s back to Weasel!  And you weren’t--and still aren’t--wearing any pants!”

He is really focused on this ‘no pants’ thing.

“It’s really hot in here and it’s more comfy just to hang out in my boxers.  And I was wearing my boxers, so I wasn’t just walking around with it all hanging out.  I was covered,” Deadpool justified.  “What’s the big deal?”

Spider-Man hunched over, his head in his hands, and in a quiet voice, almost too soft for Deadpool to hear, he mumbled, “I had to beg, to plead, to see anything under your suit…”

Is he… could he possibly be… jealous that we were showing skin?

More likely he is shamed that others have seen our horrific appearance and know that he is actually dating us.

Still talking into his hands, Spider-Man explained, “I coerced you into revealing yourself by taking off my own mask and clothes, and then during those next two days when we were together, your instinct was always to cover yourself up.  And yet, here you are, not even thinking about it, without your pants on.”

He...He really is jealous about us showing our skin to Weasel.  Wow.

“You didn’t coerce me--”

He actually did…

“--It’s not anything you need to feel guilty about--”

Overwhelming sense-of-responsibility is his thing.

Telling him not to feel guilty is like telling him not to breathe.

While technically both of those points were true, they really were not the issue at that moment.

“I am not having this conversation with you AND him!” Deadpool snapped.

Spider-Man let out a sob, his hands tightened into fists and he hunched over so far he was practically doubled over.

“Goddamnit,” Deadpool cursed.

“I’m sorry!”

“NOT you, them!” Deadpool clarified to Spider-Man.

Don’t take it out on us because you’re screwing it up with your boyfriend.

Yeah, screw you too, man.

“Look, I know I’m screwing it up, but it’s hard to believe that Spidey could be jealous over me in the first place, let alone because of the amount of skin I’m showing!  I mean, who even wants to see this disgusting mess?  I don’t even want to look at it and I have to live with it!”

That pulled Spider-Man’s head up in a flash.  “See!  That’s exactly what I’m talking about!” he proclaimed, as if that was point-set-match to win his argument.

Nope, can’t help you there.  No clue what he’s going on about, either.

He’s jealous over Weasel.

Yeah, see, that’s the part I don’t get.

“I don’t get it, either,” Deadpool agreed.

“Around me, you’re hiding your skin or otherwise disparaging your looks but around Weasel you don’t seem to care.   You’re comfortable around him and you’re not around me,” Spider-Man explained quietly.

“Of course I’m comfortable around Weasel.  I’ve known him since like forever--”

That isn’t going to ease any of Spider-Man’s anxiety.

“...And he’s had to literally piece me back together a few times.  Like, literally literally.  It’s not hard to be chill about my skin when he’s had to deal with a lot worse, y’know?”

It’s not easy to be chill around someone whose approval we desperately want.

And it’s not easy to be chill around someone we desperately want to bone.

“I’m not telling him that!” Deadpool protested.

“Tell me what?”

“Damn it.  Now look what you’ve done!” Deadpool cursed the voices in his head.

US?  YOU are the one with the ability to be heard by others.

“Tell me what?” Spider-Man insisted.

“That it’s easier to show skin around Weasel because I don’t care what he thinks, cuz I don’t want to bone him.”

“...Oh.”

“And I’m nervous around you because I do care what you think.  About me,” Deadpool continued to explain, perhaps needlessly, but now that he was talking about it to Spider-Man he found he couldn’t stop.

“Don't you trust me?”

“Of course I do, baby,” Deadpool assured.  “I don't trust myself.”

“You think you’ll cheat on me?” Spider-Man asked, his voice cold.

“No!  Not that.  Never that!”

The very idea of it… US cheating?  Never!

“Then what?”

“I don't trust myself not to do or say something stupid that makes you come to your senses and realize what a screw-up I am.”

Spider-Man gave a bark of a laugh.  “Well, you're not getting rid of me that easily-- I already know what a screw-up you are.”

You know, you two just had your first real fight as a couple.  You know what happens after a couple fights, right?  It’s time for make-up sex!

It’s probably a better idea to let Spider-Man take the lead on that sort of thing.

“So.  Now what?”

“Well, you did say you had information when you called me over,” Spider-Man pointed out.

“Weasel’s the better one to explain all that.  He actually understands what he’s talking about.”

“Any idea when he’s going to be up?”

Deadpool shrugged.  “A few hours.  He’s never awake before noon.”

“Oh.”

Seriously.  Make-up sex.

“What a great idea!”

No, it’s not!

“What is?”

“Well, we still have a few hours before Weasel’s gonna wake up.”

“Okay.”

“So.  What do you want to do…?” Deadpool slid his hand up Spider-Man’s thigh.

No.  Not a good idea.  Feeling up our barely-not-pissed-off-at-us-maybe-boyfriend is NOT a good idea.

He’s totally gonna punch us.

“He’s not going to punch us!”

“I want to punch you!” Spider-Man blurted out.

Deadpool instantly pulled his hand off Spider-Man and held his hands up in a surrendering pose.  “Sorry!  I’m sorry!”

“No!  I don’t mean-- I’m not saying I mind--,” Spider-Man stammered in that way he got when embarrassed.  

He’s probably blushing.

He’s adorable when he’s blushing.

Spider-Man tried again, “It’s just, we’ve got some time, I thought… I wanted to fight.  Not fight fight.  But like pretend to fight.”

“Pretend?” Deadpool questioned.

What is he talking about?

No idea.

“Like when you help fight and-- Train!  That’s the word I was looking for!  Train!” he triumphed.

Choo choo?

Don’t be obtuse.

“You want me to train you?  In how to fight?” Deadpool asked for clarification.

“Yeah,” Spider-Man confirmed.  “I mean, for the most part, I do just fine, because I’m strong and fast…”

No false modesty on this one.

Eh, it’s a clear fact.  He IS stronger and faster than pretty much everyone.

Except maybe the Hulk.

Except maybe the Hulk.

“--But when I’ve gone up against someone who has had a lot of fighting experience, it doesn’t seem to matter that I’m faster and stronger -- I still lose.  I need help, and you’re like an amazing fighter.  I hoped you could give me some training.”

It would be good if your precious ‘baby boy’ had more skills to defend himself with.  He does constantly throw himself in the middle of danger.

Sure.  That’s a good idea and all, but, seriously, make-up sex!

Yeah, but if we’re training him in fighting, we still get to get up close and personal with him…

Not having seen Spider-Man in a week, Deadpool was getting way too distracted by the proximity of that sexy, limber body of his.  But the white box was right; he would feel better if Spider-Man had some fight training.  AND it would give him an excuse to get a bit handsy.  Win-win!

“Yeah, okay.  I’ll train you.  There’s some open space down in the workshop area we can use.  We’d pass out from the heat if we moved around much up here.”

“Sounds good,” Spider-Man agreed.  “Lead the way.”

 

Chapter Text

Issue 33: Wall of Exposition

“Let’s see what you can do.  Punch me.”

“What is this, Fight Club?” Spider-Man retorted.

He shifted uncomfortably in Weasel’s borrowed clothes.  They were too big on him, and he would have refused the clothing if Wade hadn’t pointed out that even in the cooler space downstairs, they’d still sweat up a storm with their workout and Spider-Man only had the one suit with him.  His mask didn’t help with the ‘too warm’ thing, but even if Weasel was still asleep and Wade wasn’t bothering with his, Spider-Man didn’t feel comfortable going without it.

“Focus on the training,” Wade said after a moment's pause, and Spider-Man wasn’t sure if Wade was talking to him or to the voice in his head.  Even with Spider-Man’s own current distraction, it was probably the voice.  It had been a rough morning already and Wade had been talking to the voice in his head more than usual.  Their… argument wasn’t the right word, but their earlier interaction was so anxiety-filled it seemed to have triggered something with Wade’s mental illness.

“Come on, punch me!” Wade repeated.

If Wade was going to demand to be punched, who was Spider-Man to argue?  He swung his arm out.  

Wade put up his arm and swatted Spider-Man’s hand out of the way.  “No.  I said to punch me.  Do it for real.”

Taking a stronger stance, Spider-Man tried again.

Wade caught his fist.  “Come on.  Stop wasting our time.  I told you to punch me for real.”

“I am,” Spider-Man insisted.

“That wasn’t a punch, it was a love-tap!”

“I don’t want to hurt you!”

“I heal.”

“But you still feel pain!”

“You can crush a man’s rib cage by sneezing wrong.  I’m the best chance you’ve got to learn to punch without doing any lasting harm.  You can’t kill me.  Now PUNCH ME.”

Spider-Man didn’t like it, but Wade was right.  He took a deep breath and went for it, swinging his arm out and punched.

Wade deflected.  “Better.  Do it again.  This time, hit me.”

He threw another punch just as hard, but Wade stepped out of the way.  “I thought I told you to hit me?!”

“I’m trying!  But you keep moving out of the way!” Spider-Man grunted as he punched again.

“Exactly.  How am I doing that?” Wade asked as he calmly dodged the punch.

“Because you’ve got a decade or more of experience than me!”

“It’s not nice to bring up a man’s age!” Wade complained, and after a moment added, more to himself than to Spider-Man, “I’m not that old!”

Another punch, another miss.

“Yeah, see, this is exactly what I’m talking about,” Wade said, and Spider-Man really wasn’t sure if Wade was talking to him or to the voice in his head.  “I can see your punches coming a mile away.”

Okay, so Wade was talking to him.  “You’ve had more training!” Spider-Man bit out.

“Stop,” Wade commanded.

Spider-Man froze, leaving his arm hanging, half pulled-back.

“Why are you punching like that?”

“Because physics,” Spider-Man retorted.  “You get more power from swinging from the shoulder.”

He demonstrated by pantomiming a punch.

“Punching from the shoulder is slower.  Your whole body is telegraphing your movement.”

“That’s why I need training!  To get faster--”

“You’re already fast!  You have superhuman speed--”

“I’m clearly not fast enough!  You keep dodging--”

“That’s why you need to stop punching like that--”

“You do get more power from swinging from the shoulder!”

“You’re the strongest guy there is!” Wade shouted back.  “Why on earth do you think you need more power when you have to pull your punches as it is?!”

Spider-Man stopped.  “Oh.”

Wade made a frustrated ‘ta-dah’ motion with his hands.

“Oh shut up,” Spider-Man grumbled.  “And show me how I should be punching then!”

*****************************************

“You’re not doing it right.”

“What do you mean, I’m not doing it right?  I’ve got you pinned down!” Spider-Man insisted.

“You’re using strength, not technique,” Wade told him flatly.

“I’m doing the technique you showed me!”

“No, you’re doing a vague resemblance of the move I showed you, but you’re not getting it right so you’re using your strength to pin me, not the hold.”

“What difference does it make?”  Spider-Man snapped.  “I’ve got you pinned down!”

“You know, if you’re busy, I could come back later,” Weasel said from behind.

Spider-Man startled.  He hadn’t heard Weasel come down stairs.  “Uh, no, we were just--This isn’t--”

He cut off as Wade pushed him up and over, and the next thing Spider-Man knew, he was slammed onto the floor.  Before he could react, Wade forcibly manhandled him, pinning him down with the same hold that Spider-Man had been attempting, and failing, to do.

“Because when you don’t do it right, it takes more effort to keep someone held, and someone who can do it right will turn the tables on you.”

“That’s not fair!  I got distracted--!”

“All’s fair in love and war, Spidey.” And then to Spider-Man’s complete mortification, Wade ground his body down against his and whispered, “And I’ve got your distraction right here.”

“Aaand I’m outta here,” Weasel exclaimed, hurriedly escaping back up the stairs.

Spider-Man’s face burned as he shoved Wade off him and called after the retreating man, “No, wait, it’s not what it looks like…!”

Wade laughed.  He stood up and helped Spider-Man back onto his feet.  “Come on, let’s get cleaned up a bit then go see what Weaz has to say.”

*****************************************

Cleaned up and back in their regular suits, Spider-Man and Wade joined Weasel upstairs.  Weasel then led them to a backroom filled with enough computers and electronic equipment to host a LAN party.  He waved to a set of monitors on the left and explained, “I’ve managed to tap into Eloise Cori’s security feeds, her computer, and her smartphone.  Nothing very exciting yet, but I’ll let you know if something unusual comes up.”

Spider-Man let out an impressed whistle.  “Wow.  You’ve been busy.”

“Yeah, well.”  Weasel shrugged.  “The sooner you both figure this stuff out, the sooner the bounty will be off Wade, and--more importantly--off me.  Maybe then Wade can get back to making his own money and stop mooching off me.”

Spider-Man smiled.  Even though Weasel was only mentioning the money issue, Spider-Man had a feeling he was more worried about his friend.

“Seriously, Wade goes through money like someone with a cat allergy in a house full of cats goes through tissues.  It was fine when he was out there making his own money and actually paying me for my time, but now I gotta do all this work for him for free and fund his excursions.  I’m half-tempted to turn him in for the reward.”

“But I’d kill you if you tried,” Wade cheerfully responded.

“Exactly, which is why I want you to hurry the hell up.”

Spider-Man was no longer sure if they were just joking with each other.  At the very least, he didn’t feel comfortable with how they were teasing each other.

“Eloise Cori might not be involved,” Spider-Man cautioned.

“Well, it’s true that we can’t connect her with Weapon X--”

“Weapon X?”

Weasel looked sharply at Wade.  “You didn’t tell him?”

When Wade looked away and didn’t respond, Spider-Man demanded, “Tell me what?”

“After his warehouse blew up, we were able to track the group hunting him back to Weapon X.”

That didn’t really tell Spider-Man anything.  “What’s Weapon X?”

“It’s the organization that made me the freak that I am,” Wade bit out.

“The group from your past,” Spider-Man recalled Wade explaining back when they were breaking into Eloise Cori’s office.  “The monsters…”

“Who create other monsters.  Yeah,” Wade confirmed.  “That’s Weapon X.”

There was so much Spider-Man wanted to ask about, but for Wade, who never shut up, to be reticent about talking about this, Spider-Man found he couldn’t press.

“So, um, Eloise Cori…” Spider-Man stuttered, changing the topic away from Wade’s painful past.  “She might not be related to the hunt for Wade, but she does have a connection with the alien element that’s been found in both the sleepwalking victims and the mind-control drug that’s connected with the stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. stash of Chitauri blasters.  And her former mentor was involved with an old government project that some secret crime group is interested in.  If you haven’t found out much about Eloise Cori yet, how about Professor Wilkins and his mysterious A.V.E. Project?

“Yes, that,” Weasel said as he led them over to another computer.  With a few keystrokes, he brought a report up on the screen.  ‘Project A.V.E.’ was in bold text on top.  Halfway down the page was a topographical map of the southwestern United States.

“So A.V.E. was a secret government project.  The best and the brightest, all newly recruited from the top universities around the world, all joining together in southern Nevada during the mid-1950s.”

“Southern Nevada…?”  Spider-Man’s eyes narrowed as he studied the map.  “You mean Area-51?” he scoffed.

“You’ve seen aliens falling out of the sky over New York, and you’re gonna scoff at Area 51?” Weasel countered.

Okay, that was fair.

“So after working on something down in Area-51 for over a decade, in the 70’s, the group started to split apart.  The first few that left the Project went on to form some pharmaceutical company called IGH.  There was a larger exodus a few years later, and most of those people went to work for this tech company that changed hands a few times, but is currently called Cybertek.  Wilkins was part of the team that stuck around with the A.V.E. project the longest.  When it closed, the other remaining members were reassigned to other governmental projects, but Wilkins went back to academia.  He consulted for the government now-and-again and Cybertek kept trying to headhunt him for years.”

“And Dr. Cori?” Spider-Man questioned.

“Her pharmaceutical company does have a contract with Cybertek, but I found no connection between her and the A.V.E. project.”

“Regardless, Cybertek seems like a company we need to investigate more,” Spider-Man concluded.  “What about the group who stayed with Wilkins until the end of the project?”

Weasel shrugged.  “All of them are either confirmed dead or missing.  Most of which happened the past couple years, and the majority of that has been in the last six months.”

“Yeah, that’s not fishy,” Spider-Man muttered.

“What’s so important about this A.V.E. thing?” Deadpool asked.

Spider-Man pinched the bridge of his nose.  Of course Wade was clueless after this entire conversation!  Some things never changed. He might love Wade, but that didn’t change how annoying Wade could be when he tuned out the ‘boring exposition’ parts.

Fighting back a rude comment, Spider-Man instead asked, “You remember your jetpack wings?”

“Of course!” Deadpool exclaimed.  “Those are awesome!”

“Well, the group who hired you to break into the government facility where you stole them, used your diversion to steal information on the people who had been part of the A.V.E. Project.  We’ve…” Spider-Man waved his hand between Weasel and himself.  “...been trying to determine what that project was about to figure out why a super-shady criminal organization would be stealing HR files from a decades old project.”

“Oh,” Deadpool answered, not in the least abashed for his part in the crime.

Weasel had wandered off while Spider-Man re-explained the A.V.E. stuff to Wade, but when the explanation wound down, he called over to Spider-Man, “Now, if you come take a look at this head Wade brought me--”

Wade snickered.

But Spider-Man didn’t get as far as the head.  On a nearby tabletop, he saw a small flat disc of a material that looked awfully familiar.

“What’s this?!” he demanded as he pounced upon the disc.

“What’s wha…? Oh.  That.”  Weasel put his head behind his head and shuffled his feet.  “That is… Well, I kind of accidentally melted it.”

Wade poked at it as Spider-Man held it.  The disc, much smaller than the one he’d tried--and failed--to take out of the Rand building, was just as heavy as he expected.

“It was a gun,” Weasel explained.  “One of those Chitauri blasters.”

“You melted it?” Wade growled, affronted.

“Where’d you get it?”  Did Weasel have another way to find the leak who’d been smuggling the blasters out of S.H.I.E.L.D. storage?

“Wade sold it to me.”

Spider-Man’s brows furrowed.  “Wade?  Where did you get… Oh.  The one you picked up when we investigated the drug dealer’s apartment. You told me it’d been destroyed in the explosion!”

“In my defense, when you asked about it, I said I didn’t have it anymore.”

“Wade!”

“I needed something to pay for Weasel’s information on the Falcon wings!”

“That you stole from the government!  And you helped a super-shady secret organization steal government files on a group of scientists who’ve all wound up dead since those files had been stolen!”

“There’s nothing I’m going to be able to say that’s going to get me out of trouble for this, is there?”

“No, Wade, there really isn’t.”

“I’m sorry?”  It was a question not a statement, and that didn’t help Wade’s case any.  “It was a while ago and I’ve been trying to be a better person since then?”

Spider-Man had to remember that Wade had been a mercenary and his moral code was several damaged.  There was a reason he’d come to learn how to be a hero from Spider-Man.

“Let’s just move on for now.  Weasel, you had something else you wanted to show us?”

Weasel brought them back towards the table with a freezer box on top of it.  Weasel slid the lock and flipped the lid off to reveal a partially decomposed head.

Spider-Man gagged and turned away.  It wasn’t so much the smell--there was hardly any--but the sight.

“Why do you have a severed head?” Spider-Man choked out.

“It was my ‘Christmas’ present from Wade.”  Weasel snapped on a pair of thick latex gloves and threw a second pair over to Spider-Man.

“Oh yeah.  I’d forgotten about that,” Wade dismissed.  He laughed.  “I do give great head!”

“Wade…” Spider-Man warned.  He was still mad at Wade and his boyfriend’s sexual innuendos towards another guy weren’t improving his mood.

Using a set of tongs, Weasel turned the head to expose the device embedded in the back of it.

Frogs and fetal pigs were bad enough, but there was a reason besides lack of time and money that Spider-Man hadn’t gone into pre-med.  Still, he forced himself to examine the device.

“It’s tapping directly into the nervous system,” Spider-Man noted.

“Exactly.”

Weasel set the tongs down and reclosed the box.  Spider-Man sighed with relief.

“I didn’t know what to make of it,” Weasel continued as he made his way over to another computer station.  “Until Wade shared your notes on the two blood samples you took.”  Weasel pointed out a couple charts on the screen.  “The one on the left is from the drug addict and the other from the sleepwalker.”  He clicked a new window open.  “And this one is from the severed head.”

“Oh my god!” Spider-Man exclaimed.  He pushed past Weasel so he could study the graphs.  “It has the same alien element!”

“So it looks like this is all connected,” Weasel surmised.

Spider-Man yelped at an unexpected vibration on his arm.  Weasel glared suspiciously at Wade, who, for his part, looked concerned.

“My phone buzzed,” Spider-Man explained.

“Oh I love when that happens,” Wade chirped.

Spider-Man excused himself and stepped out of the room.  As he walked down the hall, he slid his mask up over his mouth and swiped to answer.

“Peter, this is Betty.  What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Betty demanded angrily.

“I… Wha…?” Spider-Man--Peter--stammered.  He hadn’t spoken to--or even thought about--Betty since they broke up months ago.

“Don’t you dare play innocent with me, mister!  I want an explanation!”

“...I don’t… For what?”

“I just got off the phone with Eloise Cori.”

Peter’s mouth went dry and his chest tightened.

“She wanted to talk to Jameson concerning the article about her.  Not the one written by me.  But the one being written by this guy ‘Peter Parker of the Daily Bugle’.”

“...Oh.”

“Now Jameson happens to currently be out of the office, so whether or not he gets this missed-call memo depends on what you’re about to say.  You’ve got one minute to explain why you posed as a Daily Bugle reporter to interview the woman that I interviewed for my first major article.”

Peter swallowed down the lump in his throat.  Fuck.

“I…” he started, desperately searching his brain for an excuse, any excuse,that would satisfy Betty without telling her the truth.  “That is…”

“Peter,” she said, her voice ice.  She wasn’t going to tolerate any prevaricating from Peter.

Well, the best lies were the ones touched with truth.  “My friend,” he burst out, hoping his mouth wouldn’t go too fast for his brain to spin the story.  “My friend, Randy.  Well, I mean he wasn’t a friend friend, not like Harry.”  And damn, saying that name hurt.  “But, like, he used to eat lunch with us all the time, you know?”

“I remember him,” she stated but she wasn’t in the mood for digressions.  “And...?”

“He, uh, he got really messed up.  With some new super-drug.  He went crazy and ODed.  I, um, I heard some rumors that this drug, it was ripped from some pharmaceutical that was developed from a company that Dr. Cori’s old mentor, Dr. Wilkins, used to run…”

“So you posed as a Daily Bugle reporter to ask her about her old mentor,” Betty filled in the rest.

“Yeah,” Peter confirmed.

“Why not leave it to the cops?”

“They’re working too slow…!” Peter exclaimed, transferring his anxiety about this conversation into impatience with the law.  “I… I just want to understand what happened.  To him,” he finished weakly.

Was she buying it?  Please let her buy it, Peter pleaded.

“What you did was really over-the-line.”

Thank god.  She wasn’t happy with him, but she was on board with his excuse.

“I’m sorry.  I don’t know what I was doing.  I was in a really bad place then.  I’m getting better.”

“I won’t give Jameson the memo, but I’m not going to keep covering for you, Peter.  You need to come clean with her.  Jameson could be in the office when she next calls, and he’ll expose your lie and trust me, you really don’t want to get on Jameson’s bad list.”

“I know.”  Considering how much of a witch hunt Jameson had going for Spider-Man, he could only imagine what he would do to some kid pretending to be a Daily Bugle reporter.

Peter exchanged a few more assurances to Betty before ending the call.

He was still sitting with his mask up and his phone in his hands when Wade found him.  Thank God it was Wade…!

“Baby, what’s wrong?”

“I… I’m in a lot of trouble,” Peter confessed.  Through hiccupy breaths and almost sobs, Peter explained his ill-fated attempt to pose as a Daily Bugle reporter to interview Eloise Cori and her call to Jameson to ask about him.  “Our trip to bug her office has made her suspicious.  She must be looking into the people who had visited her office in the last month,” he concluded.  “I used my real name.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Wade drew him into a tight embrace.  “Don’t worry, Baby, we can fix this.”

Peter snuffled. “How?”

Wade held him tighter and didn’t answer.

“Okay,” Wade said at last.

“Okay?” Peter questioned, pulling away so he could look Wade in the eye.  Or at least in the eyes of his mask.

Wade cupped his hands around Peter’s face and pressed his lips through his mask to Peter’s for a quick kiss.  “Okay,” he repeated.  He slid Peter’s mask down and took his hand.  “Come on.”

“You have a solution?” Peter--Spider-Man--demanded.

“I’ve got a plan,” Wade assured, pulling Spider-Man upstairs with him.

“What kind of plan?” Spider-Man countered.

“Weasel!” Wade called as soon as he got into the living room.

“What kind of plan?” Spider-Man repeated.

Wade ignored him.  “Weasel!”

“What?!  Stop screaming!  It’s too early for that crap!” Weasel called from elsewhere in the apartment.

“Where the hell are you?”

“I’m right here, Wade, right where you left me.  I haven’t gone anywhere; you did!”

“We’ve got a problem,” Wade announced as he stormed over to Weasel’s lab.

“Don’t we always?” Weasel countered.

“Actually, it’s not really our problem, and I’d be perfectly fine ignoring it, but Spidey seems to think it’s a problem, and if I ever want to get laid ever again…”

“Ex-cuse me?!” What the hell?  Just because Wade didn’t have a secret identity didn’t meant it wasn’t important!  Peter had to protect his friends and family!

“Oh, Spidey, don’t be shy now!  Weasel’s already seen us sleeping together!”

“That’s not--”

“And walked in on our foreplay this morning!”

“I really don’t want to think about that,” Weasel retorted.  “So I’m going to get back to the part where you were talking about something else.”

“Seems like when we broke into Evil Doctor Lady’s place the week or so ago, it got her suspicious and she’s checking up on people she’s talked with in the last month.”

“She has been calling up a bunch of people who’d been on her calendar.  I didn’t think it was anything strange so I hadn’t looked into it any further..”

“Yeah, well, back when Spidey was trying to investigate the evil doctor lady by himself, he hired some college kid to go ask her some questions.  The kid posed as a Daily Bugle reporter, and he’s not.  So when evil doctor lady calls back and actually talks with Jameson instead of college boy’s girlfriend-the-secretary… that’s going to be one cover blown and one pissed off girlfriend.”

That wasn’t… Wade knew that he wasn’t dating Betty anymore!

“Now me, I’d say that kid was stupid and it’s his problem, who cares?”

What was Wade saying?  Spider-Man’s stomach was in knots and his eyes stung.

“But Spidey has that whole ‘we’re heroes’ thing going, and seems to feel he’s responsible for keeping this kid safe.”  Wade gave a ‘what can you do’ shrug.

Weasel nodded.  “Alright.  What were you thinking?”

“The best way to keep the kid safe would be to send a bullet through Evil Doctor Lady’s head--”

“No!” Spider-Man interjected.

Wade waved a hand in Spider-Man’s direction.  “--But Spidey doesn’t want me killing anymore and we’re still trying to get info out of her.”

“So she’s going to be suspicious of this kid if she finds out from Jameson that he’s not actually a reporter for the Daily Bugle, right?”

Spider-Man nodded in agreement.

“But she won’t have much reason to be suspicious if Jameson confirms that he was a reporter.”

“But there’s no way Jameson’s gonna help us!”

“You’re right,” Weasel agreed.  “There’s no way the actual Jameson will help.  But thankfully, we don’t need the actual Jameson.”

Weasel reached over to the computer nearest to him.  He tapped onto the keyboard in a flurry of motion, ending with a satisfied click on the enter key.

“Get me pictures of that Spider guy!” Jameson’s voice boomed from the computer’s speakers.

Weasel tapped a few more keys and brought a microphone up to his mouth.  “Fortunately Jameson’s shouting-style has become a meme, so there are already plenty of Jameson-style voice modulators out there,” Weasel spoke, but Jameson’s voice came out of the speakers.  “And I’ve already got complete access to Eloise Cori’s phone.  Next time she tries calling Jameson, all I need to do is direct her call to me instead.”

Relief swept through Spider-Man, releasing the knot that had formed in his gut since Betty’s call.  “That’s--that’s brilliant!”

Maybe they could fix this after all!

His phone buzzed and he nearly doubled over from the sudden twisting of his gut.  Crap.  They were too late!  Eloise had called Betty back and his cover was blown and now Eloise was going to be hunting down Peter Parker.  That would lead her to Aunt May!

Spider-Man fled out of the room.  He fumbled his phone, accidentally swiping to answer without getting a chance to see who was calling, and--

“So how do you feel about taking down a corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and their smuggling ring?” Krissi asked without preamble.

Spider-Man blinked.  Well that wasn’t the voice he’d been expecting, and it took an extra second for him to process the question.

“Preston’s team has been able to narrow down the leak thanks to your tip on the drugs.  Since this was your lead, figured you and your boyfriend might want to join us for the final showdown.”

Right.  Krissi and Preston had teamed up to lock down the leak of stolen Chitauri guns.  He’d pointed out the drug dealer he’d investigated way back when had also had Chitauri guns.  They were going to see if they could find the rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent by following the drugs.  This had nothing to do with Betty, Jameson, or having his secret identity blown.

“So are you interested in joining us for the take-down?”

“Why, Agent Loewe, I thought you’d never ask?” Spider-Man joked.  His mouth was dry but he managed to keep his voice steady.  He didn’t need Krissi worrying about him.

“Great.  Is your boyfriend joining us?”

Spider-Man pulled away from the phone and called over to Wade, “Feel like getting some action tonight?”

“In the shower again, or--”

“NOT that kind of action!” Spider-Man exclaimed, his cheeks burning.  “The kind where we take down bad guys.”

“Not as much fun, but I’m totally down.”

“Weasel…?”

Weasel waved him off.  “Don’t worry about it.  I’ll take care of it.  You two have fun storming the castle.”

“It’ll take a miracle!” Wade cheerfully exclaimed.

“...What?”

“Oh, you wound me!   Your education is severely lacking, Baby Boy!  ...I told you I’m not that old! ... I am not robbing the cradle…!”

Spider-Man shook his head as Wade’s conversation turned inwards.  He brought the phone back up and informed Krissi, “We’ll be there soon.”

Chapter Text

Issue 34: Face Off

“Keep pressure on it.”

Wade pressed down on Spider-Man’s hand, forcing Spider-Man to hold his shoulder more tightly.

“It hurts!”

“Of course it hurts, dumbass; you got stabbed!  Did you think it was gonna tickle?!”

Spider-Man shoved Wade’s hand off and repositioned the shirt he was using as his makeshift bandage.  This was ridiculous; the shirt was toast.  If the shirt was destined for the garbage once he stopped bleeding out over it, he didn’t need to fuss about keeping it intact.  There were better ways to use it to bind his arm without having to hold it in place.

“A little sympathy would be nice,” Spider-Man grumbled, trying to rip his shirt into strips.

“You got hurt because you were showing off,” Wade snapped. “Shit, stop that.  You’re only going to hurt your shoulder more using it like that.” Wade grabbed the torn shirt from Spider-Man’s hands and began systematically shredding it into bandage sized widths.

Even with his harsh tone, he was gentle as he tied the fabric strips around Spider-Man’s arm. It wasn’t a particularly great bandage, but it would do until the S.H.I.E.L.D. medic finished with the more serious injuries and could properly clean and sew up his wound.

“I’ll say.  One fucking lesson on advanced fighting techniques,” Wade continued, “and he thinks he can take on a S.H.I.E.L.D.-trained pro.”

“You are the LAST person who gets to call me out for ‘showing off’,” Spider-Man retorted.

With his arm as taken care of as it could be for the moment, he leaned back to rest against the brick wall of the warehouse, and thankfully for the sake of his queasy stomach, the salty-muck smell from the port wasn’t as strong here.  Their S.H.I.E.L.D. allies stood over by the docks, dealing with the whole ‘arresting the bad agents post-capture’ thing--which apparently involved a lot of standing around waiting for their ride to land and lots of talking amongst themselves.  And sure, they were quite happy to have a couple more fighters for the confrontation with the bad agents, but he and Wade weren’t cool enough to hang out with their clique now that the fight was done.  Even if Spider-Man had gotten hurt in their fight.

Wade was still fusing over him.

Spider-Man waved him off with a glare.  “And I wasn’t showing off.  I was protecting you.”

“Which you didn’t need to do!” Wade roared back, any humor he’d been feigning melting into the rage of his concern.  “How many times do I have to tell you?  I can’t be killed!”

“I’m sorry for worrying you, but I will never apologize for protecting you,” Spider-Man declared.

Wade let out a huge huff of air as he grabbed Spider-Man and pulled him into a tight embrace, pushing the arm holding his shoulder wound awkwardly into his chest.  “What am I going to do with you?” Wade muttered under his breath.

Spider-Man didn’t respond; Wade might not have been talking to the voice in his head this time, but he also wasn’t really talking to Spider-Man either.

“No, seriously, what am I going to do with you?” Wade repeated as he pulled out of the embrace.

Of course, just when Spider-Man thought he had a handle on Wade, his rhetorical question turned out to be a real one.

“Well, you could give me a ‘thank you, I’m glad you’re alive’ kiss,” Spider-Man suggested.

Wade snorted a laugh.  “You’re sounding like me now, Spidey.”

“Yeah, well… kiss?”  Spider-Man grinned cheekily.

“Okay, okay.” Wade relented.

He leaned his head down at the same time Spider-Man went to lift his mask with his good hand.  He wound up elbowing Wade in the chin.

“Ow!” Wade yelped.

“Oops, sorry!”

“You asked for a kiss and then you punch me!” Wade complained.

“Okay, first of all, technically I elbowed you, not punched you,” Spider-Man said. “And secondly I was trying to get my mask up so we could properly kiss. I don’t wanna just rub our masks together.  I’ve had a rough last couple days and got stabbed twenty minutes ago.  I want a real kiss from my boyfriend.”

Wade squirmed.

Spider-Man’s stomach twisted.  Why wasn’t Wade all giddy and happy that Spider-Man had called him his ‘boyfriend’ and wanted to kiss him?  Especially since they were in public with a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who could see them. Spider-Man didn’t care about being seen, and he wanted Wade to understand that. Ok, he did care a little, because coming out as gay was scary and he wasn’t exactly comfortable with his sexuality yet.  But he didn’t care too much.  He might not be able to walk around with Wade as Peter, but he wasn’t going to hide that Spider-Man and Wade were together. Did Wade not want their relationship to be known by others?  Was he having second thoughts about being together after Spider-Man’s jealous fit the night before?

“Wade, w-what’s going on?” he stammered, his mouth dry.

“Nothing!” Wade said, much too quickly.

Spider-Man narrowed his eyes.  “Yeah, that sounds true.”

“Okay, it’s… let’s… let’s step back here a little.”  Wade pushed Spider-Man to step backwards.

Spider-Man refused to be moved.  “Why?”

“I’ll kiss you, mask up and everything, but not right here.”

Had he misunderstood?  Did Wade really not want their relationship to be outed? “Wade, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, I just don’t feel like anyone else seeing my face today.  So let’s just step back these few feet...”

Oh.  This was Wade’s insecurity about his appearance.  Okay.  Yeah.  That was understandable.

Spider-Man let Wade reposition them so he’d be out of sight from the agents. Satisfied with their position, Wade took his mask off.  With a sparkling cheeky, but otherwise unfamiliar, grin, he leaned in for the kiss.

Spider-Man pushed him away.

“Hey!’ Wade complained.

“Wade, what the hell?!” Spider-Man yelled at his boyfriend, who looked nothing like himself but instead was a dead-ringer for the actor Thom Cruiz.

Busted, Wade shrugged.

“After everything he’s been doing to help us--to help you!--how could you take that from him!”

“Uh, wha…?”

“Don't play dumb, Wade.”

“I’m not.  I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“Weasel. You stole that face-altering mask from him.”

“No way!  I wouldn't steal from him.”

“Then where did you…?”

Spider-Man trailed off as he thought back to earlier that night, when a stranger had approached their hiding spot. Spider-Man had prepped to subdue her until Krissi had hurriedly explained that it was Agent Smith, only in disguise.  Spider-Man hadn’t thought much of it since they had a mission to run and if Krissi had said it was alright, it was alright.

Thinking of it now, even with good makeup, Agent Smith had looked nothing like how Spider-Man had remembered her, and Weasel had said that his mask was based off S.H.I.E.L.D.’s design.

“You stole Agent Smith’s face-mask thingy!” Spider-Man angrily accused.

Wade looked away.  “Maybe...”

“Try definitely.  Take it off.”

“Spidey!  We’re in public” Wade scoffed, mock-scandalized.

Spider-Man reached towards Wade’s face.  

Wade dodged.  “Shit, Baby, you’re going to open up your shoulder wound more if you keep jumping around like this!”

“Then either take that mask off yourself, or hold yourself still so I can take it off for you!”

Wade did neither.  “Come on, isn’t this better?  Now you can walk around in public with me…!” Wade tried to justify his theft as he blocked Spider-Man’s attempts to grab the mask.

Shoulder protesting and fed up with their game of ‘keep away’, Spider-Man webbed Wade’s feet to the ground.  With Wade unable to step away, Spider-Man successfully peeled the mask off him.

“Rude!” Wade whined.

“It’s your own fault,” Spider-Man retorted.  “You shouldn’t have stolen it.”

Now Spider-Man was going to have to return it to Agent Smith and apologize.  No, he should make Wade apologize.  He glanced over at Wade’s completely unrepentant face.  Yeah, that was gonna happen.

Before their argument could escalate, a sleek, black SUV rolled up to the agents. A handful of agents stepped out, including Agent Rothschild.  The whole ‘S.H.I.E.L.D. agents stealing alien blasters and weird drugs and selling them on the black market’ thing must be a pretty big deal for him to get involved.

A middle-aged man broke away from the newly-arrived crowd and made his way over to Spider-Man and Wade.  He wasn’t wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent tactical suit or the sort of men-in-black business suits that most agents wore.  He stood out with his polo shirt and khakis, looking like he should be on his way to a golf game instead of a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission.

“Who is this Fox News reject?” Wade muttered, as he cut the last of the webbing off his boots.

Spider-Man nudged him with his elbow, warning Wade to behave.

Once he sauntered over to them, the man cheerfully greeted them, “Spider-Man?  Deadpool?  I’m Doctor Trask.  I hear that you two have the case of drugs from the raid.”

His eyes never quite left Wade.

Wade patted the case he’d set next to him.

“Excellent.”  He smiled pleasantly, his gaze dropping down to the case then tracking back up to Wade’s face.  “It’s good we’re able to get something this unstable off the streets.”

“Oh yeah,” Spider-Man agreed.

He stepped a touch in front of Wade, drawing Trask’s attention to him.  “Even if it doesn’t work as it was advertised, the way the user breaks down at the end…” He shuddered.  “It’s awful.”

“I’ll say.  It’s a good thing this didn’t spread too far, or we’d be stuck running ragged after an army of super strong junkies who could compel anyone around them to obey their whims when there are so many worse threats we need to be focusing on.”

“Like aliens falling out of the skies,” Spider-Man suggested.

“Or if Harry Styles ever left One Direction,” Wade supplied.

“Quite,” Trask sniffed.

Their conversation was interrupted by a QuinJet materializing above them.  With a flurry of movement, the nearby agents cleared the area so the jet could land.  Spider-Man had never seen a QuinJet up close before, and stared in awe as it landed. 

When it came to rest on the pavement, he wrenched his attention back to the doctor. Trask didn’t bother to speak again.  With a business-like nod to Spider-Man and Wade, he took the case and walked back to the car.  A few of the agents got back into the SUV with him, though Rothschild remained with Preston’s team and helped wrangle the prisoners onto the QuinJet.

Wait.

“How did he know about the super strength?”

“Hmm?”

“How did Trask know that the drugs gave the user some measure of super strength?  I only learned about that when I couldn’t break Randy’s chokehold--”

“Chokehold?!  What chokehold?!  Who was choking you?!”

Spider-Man continued over Wade’s outburst.  “But I didn’t tell that to Krissi or Agent Preston.  I didn’t realize he had to have had super strength until Trask mentioned it.”

Which was foolish to have missed; Spider-Man was super strong and Randy wasn’t using any sort of special technique.  Even if he was being choked, Spider-Man should have had the strength to break out of a normal person’s hold.  Adrenaline-rush wasn’t enough to explain Randy’s extra strength.  It had to have been the alien drug.

“So how did he know?” Wade questioned.

“Exactly what I want to find out.”

Spider-Man hurried over to where Krissi and Agent Preston were huddled around a cell phone.  They were so distracted by whatever conversation they were having on the phone that neither realized he was there.

“--They want to keep it quiet until we know more, but the road chase has been on the news nonstop since it happened,” Preston was saying.  “But what do they expect with explosions and cars flipping over in the middle of the city?!”

“Do they know where he is now?” Krissi demanded.

The conversation seemed important and intense.  He didn’t want to be accused of eavesdropping so he called out, “Agen--”

Krissi looked up, eyes wide.  She furiously waved him off.

Crap.  Whatever they were doing had to be both important and confidential.  He really didn’t want to interrupt, but, just in case, he had to warn them before Trask got too far.

“Krissi--”

Krissi shook her head.  Her lips were a thin line and her eyes were narrowed.  Whatever she was hearing on the phone was Not Good in capital letters.

“Not now,” she mouthed.  She turned back to the phone.  “No, you’re right.  After an attack like that in the middle of the city in broad daylight, we need all hands to deal with it.  Our team just finished a case and we can be in the air and down to D.C. in minutes.”

“We’ll have to take the Quinjet,” Preston said.

“That’s fine.  Rothschild and his team can watch the prisoners and the injured agents until another Quinjet can be spared to pick them up--”

Leaving them to their logistics planning, Spider-Man retreated back to Wade.  They were going to have to deal with Trask themselves.  They couldn’t wait, and Krissi and Preston seemed to have their own crisis to deal with.

“Come on.”

“Where are we going?  I thought they were sending the medic over to you?”

“That’s gonna have to wait.  We need to follow him.  Krissi and Preston are dealing with something else, and we can’t let him get away with the case of drugs if he’s not a good guy.”

“Baby, you’re injured and you’ve lost more blood than recommended for a leisurely swing through the city.”

“We need to--”

We don’t need to.  I can follow him, you can stay and get patched up by the medic.  You can join up with me later if need be. I just need to follow him to make sure he’s not doing anything with that case other than what he said, right?  No big deal.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Wade; Spider-Man didn’t like risking anyone but himself, and he really didn’t like the way Trask had looked at Wade.  He also didn’t want to leave Wade with all the responsibility.  He didn’t like staying back and not doing something, leaving things for someone else to take care of... Which was stupid.  Wade was right.

Spider-Man was hurt and he should get his arm taken care of.  Besides, Wade was a pro.  He could handle following Trask.

“Okay,” Spider-Man acquiesced.  “I’ll let you take care of this.  Keep me informed.”

Wade nodded, planted a chaste kiss to Spider-Man’s forehead, and ran off.

******************************

Spider-Man watched the dance of agents removing the prisoners out of the QuinJet as Krissi and Preston commandeered it for whatever it was they needed to rush down to D.C. for.  They were a well-organized group and had everyone moved where they needed to be within minutes.  Spider-Man had to admire the speed and efficiency of their movements.

He felt his phone buzz and quickly swiped it on.

“Wade?!”

“Uh, no. It’s Weasel.”

The voice was familiar but very unexpected.  “I… hadn’t given you my number.”

“You had a phone in my apartment, so yes you did.”

“Oh.”  Well that was unsettling.  Still, what was a little invasion of privacy between friends of boyfriends?

“In my defense, I only called you because I couldn’t reach Wade and I figured at least he was with you.”

“He was, but he left to do a bit of tracking.  I’ll be meeting up with him in a little bit.”

“Oh good, then I’ll pass the info on to you and you both can deal with it.  It’ll be better if you’re there with him, anyway.”

“What’s up?”

“Your doctor lady.  Eloise Cori.  She’s headed back to her office.”

“Alright, it is rather late at night for going to work, but not out of the range of innocence.”

“She got a mysteriously hard-to-trace call from a certain Dr. Killebrew asking to meet with her about some breakthrough news, and they arranged to meet in about two hours at her office.”

“Okay, mysterious phone calls and clandestine meetings in the middle of the night... that’s sounding a lot more shady.  Any clue on the identity of this doctor she’s meeting with?”

“Yeah, but he was supposed to be dead.”

Spider-Man furrowed his brows.  “Huh?”

“Wade never told you?”  The surprise was clear in Weasel’s voice.

The burn of jealousy tightened his throat.  

“No,” he forced out.  “Who is Killebrew?”

“If he’s who he said he was, he’s someone from Wade’s past.  Like that past.  Facing him is going to mess Wade up.  He’s not going to want you to see it, but you need to be there for him.”

That didn’t sound good.  “Of course,” he agreed and ended the phone call.

Cori’s office wasn’t that far away when one could swing across the city, and with two hours before the meeting, Spider-Man had time for the medic to sew up his arm.  But maybe it was time to be more proactive in reminding the team he needed to be patched up rather than just waiting for the medic to take care of everyone else first.

He walked over to the center of the remaining agents when Misato approached him.  Spider-Man tensed.  Krissi had investigated the agent for her suspicious appearance and actions when she’d tried to take Wade and him in for questioning after the apartment explosion.  She hadn’t found anything out of place; Rothschild had apparently sent Misato to bring in Wade because he was a known mercenary with violent and destructive tendencies.  Considering his own thoughts on Wade back during the summer, he couldn’t exactly fault S.H.I.E.L.D. for wanting to bring him in after finding him outside a large explosion like that.

But that didn’t stop Spider-Man from feeling anxious with Misato standing beside him.

“Agent,” he greeted her cautiously.

“Spider-Man,” she replied nodding with acknowledgement.  “If it had been up to me, you would never have been invited on tonight’s mission.  But you did prove to be useful.  So thank you for that.”

Spider-Man blinked.  Well, that was unexpected.  Not the back-handedness, but that she expressed gratitude to him at all.

“You’re injured,” she noted, catching sight of his bleeding arm.

“Found myself on the wrong end of a knife.”

“You didn’t get it taking care of it?”

“The S.H.I.E.L.D. medic seems to be busy.”

“The medic left already.”

“What?!”

“We didn’t realize there were any other injuries, so he left with Preston’s team on the QuinJet.”

“Aw man!” What was he going to do?  He didn’t really want to bother Moesha Jones again after the risk he and Wade put her in when she last helped him, and Wade and Krissi clearly weren’t available to help.

“I have some training as a field medic,” Misato said, breaking into his worries. “Would you like me to at least stitch up the wound?”

Relief filled him.  “Would you?”

“Sure.”

After grabbing a few supplies, Misato settled down next to him.  Spider-Man’s wound stung from the cleaning, but once the initial pain faded, it felt better without all the blood and crude on it.

Once it was clean, she brought out a threaded needle.

“This is going to sting a little,” she warned.

It did hurt, but he gritted his teeth.  She worked quickly, but her stitches were small and neat.  Combined with his healing factor, he doubted there would even be a scar when it healed.

With the stitching complete, she lathered a layer of cool goop onto the wound. “First aid ointment,” she explained.

Spider-Man held the medical gauze in place as she securely taped it to his arm.

“All set.”

“Thank you.”

She shrugged.  “You have proved to be surprisingly helpful.”

*************************************

Rothschild arranged for a couple S.H.I.E.L.D. vans to arrive and transport the remaining agents and the prisoners to wherever it was they were going, leaving Spider-Man alone at the docks.

What was he going to do now?  He still hadn’t heard from Wade, he didn’t want to call in case Wade wasn’t in a place were it was safe to get a phone call, and he still had over an hour before Dr. Cori would be having her meeting.

Spider-Man fidgeted and it took him a moment to realize that what he was playing with in his hands was the stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. mask he’d confiscated from Wade.  Crap.  He’d meant to hand that back, but Agent Smith had left with Krissi and Preston, and he’d forgotten about it.  He’d be able to return it when Krissi got back from whatever it was she was doing in D.C., but in the meantime he’d have to hold on to it.

What had Wade even wanted it for?  It wasn’t like Wade had a secret identity to keep like Spider-Man did!  

Wait.  In their wrestling over the mask, Wade had said something about walking around in public together.   Wade had taken the mask so he could appear to be someone else, so they could walk around together as Wade and Peter and not out Spider-Man’s secret identity!  

Crap.  It was exactly what they needed. With a mask like this, Spider-Man wouldn’t have to worry about his secret identity being outed.  He and Wade could be together both as Spider-Man and Deadpool AND as Peter and Wade.

Heck, he could actually introduce Wade to Aunt May!

He could understand why Wade had wanted it.  It really was tempting.  What would it be like?  Disguising himself with this mask?  Looking like someone else?  Not having to worry about hiding Peter when he was Spider-Man?

No… he shouldn’t.  It was wrong.  It had been stolen and he needed to return it.  

But… it’s not like he could return it this very minute.  And he had a bit of time to kill before he needed to get across the city.  And it wasn’t like it’d hurt anyone for him to try it on for a few minutes…

If not now, when would he have another chance?

That thought was enough to move Spider-Man.  With a glance around to confirm he was alone, he pulled his own mask off and placed the shimmering fabric over his face.  It took some effort to secure it, and he had to awkwardly juggle his phone in a selfie position with his injured arm while he fiddled with the mask’s settings with his other.  It took a while to rack his brain to recall Weasel’s explanations on how it worked before he succeeded in making the shimmery fabric express a face different from his own. 

Once he figured it out, he played through a dozen different faces, from Thom Cruiz to taking a page out of Weasel’s playbook and choosing a basic nobody face that would seem plausible as his own but kept his real face hidden.  How great would it be to not have to worry about his mask being ripped off in a fight?

Crap.  He really wanted to keep the mask.

But it had been wrong for Wade to have stolen it, and it would be wrong for him to keep it.  No matter how much he wanted it, no matter how much good he and Wade could do with it.

His moral quandary was interrupted by a buzzing on his arm.  Panicking, he threw his Spider-Man mask on, backwards of course, before realizing it was only his phone and he didn’t need to hide his face from a phone.  He twisted his mask in the right direction while he turned his phone on by touch.

“Wade?” he guessed.

“Trask did bring the case to a S.H.I.E.L.D. base,” Wade said without any preamble.  “He seems to be getting to work in his nearby lab.  It’s possible he’s up to hinky stuff, but at the moment I’m not seeing anything shady going on.  I’m not sure there’s much more I can do from here.  This might be better for your S.H.I.E.L.D. friend to investigate from within S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Maybe he’d been wrong about Trask.  Maybe he was just being paranoid because Krissi and Preston had just taken down a smuggling ring made up of a half-dozen S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and now he was seeing shady business in all corners of S.H.I.E.L.D.

But if he told Wade to forget about Trask, Wade would come back and join Spider-Man in following up on Weasel’s tip about Cori.  She was meeting with someone from Wade’s past that Weasel thought was going to be distressing for Wade to deal with.  Maybe it would be better if Spider-Man scoped things out on his own.

“I would really feel better if you watched Trask a bit longer,” Spider-Man lied.  

“I’m not sure--”

“Maybe you could get a glimpse of what he’s working on?” he suggested quickly, anything that would keep Wade busy.

“If you feel that strongly, I guess I can keep an eye on things a bit longer for you, Spidey.”

Spider-Man felt his stomach twist unpleasantly.  He didn’t like lying to Wade, but Wade would be safe enough spying on Trask, and that would give Spider-Man a chance to deal with Cori and the man from Wade’s past.

Spider-Man said his goodbyes to Wade and hung up.  If he left now, he should be able to get to Cori’s office early enough to break in and find a good hiding spot.

Weasel had wanted him to wait for Wade, but Spider-Man was a hero, and he could manage a bit of spying on his own.  If he kept quiet, what could go wrong?

*********************************

Meanwhile, earlier that evening…

“Well, Deadpool, I suppose I should say that it’s nice to finally meet you in person.”

The blonde S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with the huge boobs who’d been awfully close to Spider-Man approached Deadpool with her hand out for a handshake.

Meet in person… that means we’ve met not in person…

How does one not meet in person?

Are we an idiot?! LOTS of ways!

Name one!

Just one?  I can name a ton!  Online, by phone, via dreams, telepathically...

“Is telepathy even a thing in this universe?” Deadpool pondered.

“Telepathy?  I’m pretty sure that doesn’t exist.  But if you’re talking about me, we talked on the phone before.”

When did we talk to random S.H.I.E.L.D. agents on the phone?

I don’t know, when do you THINK we might have chatted with SPIDER-MAN’S S.H.I.E.L.D. agent friend?!

“Oh, you must be the mysterious ‘K’ from Spidey’s phone.”

We thought her voice sounded familiar.

What is this ‘we’ business?!

“That’d be me.  I’m his S.H.I.E.L.D.-assigned contact, Krissi Loewe.  Thanks for looking out for him.”

It was our pleasure.

Heh.  Yeah, it was.

Deadpool grinned.  “Oooh, yeah.”

Loewe frowned.  “I might have reconsidered leaving him in your care had I known what was going to happen.”

What’s THAT supposed to mean?!

“You’re not the person I would have chosen for him to have fallen in love with,” she announced, as if she’d heard Yellow. “But he has.”

She’s got a point with that.

“Yeah, okay.  I don’t get it either.”

“It’s because he’s young, naive, just discovering that he’s gay, and highly susceptible to your brand of heavy flirting.”

Ouch.

I don’t think we’ve been this thoroughly eviscerated by someone since we were at Weapon X.

“Is this the point where you tell me you’ll kill me if I do anything to hurt him?”

“No,” Loewe answered.  “I won’t say ‘don’t hurt him,’ because that’s going to happen.  You will hurt him, just as I’m sure that at some points he’ll hurt you, Wade.  There will always be some pain when you let someone close, always ups and downs in relationships.  Considering how many ups and downs he’s had since you came into his life this summer, and considering who you are, I suspect that will continue.  But if you decide you’re done, if the relationship is over for you...”

Her eyes narrowed and she grabbed Deadpool roughly by his neck.  “Don’t you walk out of his life without saying anything to him.  You tell him to his face that you’re done.  If you disappear on him, I will hunt you down.  Sure, you’ll regenerate, but I’ll kill you in such a way that even you won’t forget it.”

She dropped her hand, letting him go, but kept glaring him down despite being a head shorter than he was.

“Dismemberment was very popular in the Middle Ages,” she noted, rather calmly for someone threatening bodily harm. “I have a friend who is quite the efictionato of the history of torture.”

Deadpool swallowed thickly.

Damn.  That level, no-nonsense hardass is such a turn on.

We can see why Peter likes her.

“I think that’s more of my kink than his.”

“I don’t really want to know.  But whatever.  We’ve got a drug deal to interrupt and some missing alien blasters to find.  Let’s get going.”  Loewe walked back to the rest of the group of agents.

Well, that wasn’t quite the conversation we expected.

Yeah, we totally thought she’d seen us steal the face-mask thingy from the other agent.

Deadpool grinned.  He now had a pretty face, Spider-Man was his boyfriend, and he was about to go beat up a bunch of crooked S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.  This was the best night ever!

Chapter Text

Issue 35: Controlling Chaos

Why was there always a mugging when he was in a rush?  It never failed. He had an important test, or a date, or was trying to sneak in to spy on a possible evil doctor lady before she got to her villain meetup spot, and there it was, a cry for help.

Spider-Man wanted to keep swinging past, but he couldn’t. The whole ‘not his problem’ thing was what led to Uncle Ben’s death.  Yes, he had an important mission to go on, but he also had someone who was in trouble now .

It didn’t take too long to stop the robbery, web up the mugger, make certain the victim was not badly hurt, and send out a call to the police to seal the deal. Unfortunately, it took enough time that Cori’s building was already occupied when he got there.  There went his plan to get in place before her.

It was easy enough to find Cori and her guest; the rest of the office was dark except for a large conference room at the end.  It was an ostentatious two-story room, complete with cathedral ceilings, ornate extra large floor-to-ceiling windows along the length of one wall, and a staggeringly impressive video and computer display at the front of the room.

Cori sat at the head of the solid, stately wooden conference table in the center of the room.  Sitting kitty-corner to her was a short, wide man whose eyebrows were only out-bushied by his mustache.  This was likely the ‘Dr. Killebrew’ Cori was scheduled to meet.

Thankfully the door to the conference room had been left open and they both sat with their backs to the doorway.  Spider-Man slipped into the room and settled on the high ceiling above them.

“I wish I had talked with you before I’d sold the arm to him,” the man--Killebrew--spoke with a thick North Atlantic accent.  “Your proposal suits my interests far greater than the purely monetary arrangement I have with him. But now he’s caught his white whale.”

“I’d been trying to keep that ‘white whale’ out of his hands as a means of keeping him too distracted to be much competition for me, but having read your reports, I’m starting to wonder if the good doctor might have been on to something in his dogged pursuit of him.”

“He was a most unusual subject.  I had considered him a failure, and yet...” the man trailed off as he opened his hands in a ‘what can you do’ gesture.

“And yet,” she agreed.  “I can’t even be upset that he’s finally been caught; at this point, my method is clearly superior to my so-called rival’s.  His work--and his test subjects--will soon fall under my domain.”

“Excellent.  Should that come to pass, I shall look forward to furthering our arrangement.”

Something beeped, drawing Cori’s attention to her bag.  She pulled out her phone, and swiped it on. Whatever she saw on the screen brought a pleased smile to her face.  “Finally some good news for this evening. My agent was able to tag the other one.”

“Did she?  Most excellent.  Now you each have one.  Is he on his way then?”

“Already here.”  She tapped at her phone a few more times before setting it back on the table.  “Would you like to join us, Spider-Man? I don’t care to shout.”

Okay, maybe he wasn’t as sneaky as he thought he was.  Spider-Man came out of the shadows but remained on the ceiling above them.  “Didn’t want to be rude and interrupt your conversation.”

She startled slightly as she looked up, her eyes wide before she schooled her features.  So she hadn’t seen him arrive, after all. That meant that he was likely the one ‘tagged’.  Had one of the bad guy S.H.I.E.L.D. agents slipped a bug on him during the fight? He’d have to check himself over thoroughly before going home.

Heck, Wade would probably really enjoy giving him a thorough look over. And he should give Wade one, too, just to be safe.

Something to look forward to when this night was done.

“How considerate of you. I’m sure it has nothing to do with hoping to overhear something interesting.”

“That’s just an added bonus,” Spider-Man quipped agreeably.

Cori huffed an amused half-laugh.  “Did you follow me here or can I assume you found another way to bug my office?”

Spider-Man shrugged.  He wasn’t going to give anything away.

Likely figuring she wasn’t going to get an answer from him, she continued, “Have you met my associate, Doctor Killebrew?  No? I must confess I’m a little surprised. He is the world’s foremost geneticist.”

“A geneticist,” Spider-Man repeated without meaning to.  “Then you’re the one--”

“Yes, I’m the one who grafted the mutated D.N.A. strands onto Wilson and my other subjects.  It’s been my life’s work to narrow down the ‘x’ gene which brings about the accelerated healing abilities of the Weapon X subject.”

“And torture them,” Spider-Man accused.

He didn’t know what the ‘x gene’ or ‘weapon x’ was, and he might not know the details of Wade’s past, but he’d gathered enough to know that Wade’s time with Killebrew wasn’t all sunshine and kitten videos.

Killebrew shrugged indifferently.  “It is very important work, and Wilson did volunteer.”

Spider-Man clenched his fists.  How dare Killebrew dismiss the torture--the trauma!--he’d inflicted on others!

“The good doctor here has dedicated his life to the creation of a super soldier--”

“He kind of missed the boat on that one; Dr. Erskine did that about 70 years ago.”

“And then the secret of his formula was lost with his death, and his only success lost in ice,” Cori shot back, her tone dripping with annoyance at Spider-Man’s interruption.  “No serum, no scientist, no experiment. It was all gone!”

“You act like he got murdered by Nazis , you know, the group universally recognized as evil-incarnate, on purpose!”

“He got himself killed because he got involved in politics,” she scoffed.

“Kind of hard to avoid politics when working on soldiers in a war ,” Spider-Man retorted.

“Science is… pure .  There are no petty nations or arbitrary boundaries on it.  If Erskine was as invested in the science of the process, he would have continued his research but he ran and made his work political .  I mean, truly, Nazis, America… is there really a difference?”

“Yes!” Spider-Man snapped back.

Okay, maybe America had some pretty dark parts and some truly terrible crimes against humanity during its brief history, and some not even that long ago, but he’d like to think the US had moved past systematic genocide.

Eloise shook her head pityingly at Spider-Man, as if he was a small child that just didn’t understand.

Killebrew stood up.  “Hmmm. As much as I’d like to keep talking about my work with you both, I should get back to my work.  Particularly if you’ll soon need my expertise.”  

“Ah!  Yes. Of course, doctor.  I look forward to working with you in the near future.”

Spider-Man didn’t want to let Killebrew leave but despite his morally bankrupt medical ethics violations regarding Wade and his fellow ‘test subjects’, Spider-Man didn’t have any legal justification for webbing him up and keeping him here.  Concerned citizen vigilantism only covered so much.

Crap!  He should follow Killebrew, shouldn’t he?  He knew where Cori was, and Weasel had her tapped pretty well.  Killebrew, on the other hand, was an unknown, and he was more important to keep an eye on for Wade’s sake…

“I know it’s rather late, Spider-Man, but stay.  Let’s chat some more,” Cori suggested.

Spider-Man frowned from his perch on the ceiling as Killebrew gathered his coat and satchel and left the room.

“I’ve only recently come to appreciate the potential of Deadpool’s unique properties,” Cori announced, drawing Spider-Man’s attention back to her.  “And yet the two of you have been hounding me for months. Tell me, what brought me onto your radar?”

“To be honest, I was first interested in you because of your connection with Dr. Wilkins.”

Cori frowned, disgruntled, reminding Spider-Man of how put out she’d been during his interview with her when he’d asked about her former mentor.  “Of course,” she said, her tone clipped.

“Not that you’re not creepy enough all on your own,” Spider-Man assured her.  “But you were the first grad student he mentored right after he left the A.V.E. project and I got to wondering if you knew anything about it from your time studying with him.  And of course, as I got to watching you, I saw you were involved in other strange things.”

“What other strange things?”

Spider-Man shrugged.

“Don’t be coy, Spider-Man,” she oozed.  “Tell me what you found me to be involved with.”

“The sleepwalkers.”

Cori blinked.  Whatever she expected him to say, it wasn’t that.  “The what? Explain.”

“I’ve been investigating a string of strange cases of people randomly sleepwalking down the street for the past year or so.”    Even as he said it, Spider-Man wondered if he wasn’t being a bit too revealing by answering.

“Oh.  Them.”

Spider-Man’s heart raced.  “You know what I’m talking about.”

“I do,” she agreed.

“I don’t suppose you wanna tell me about them?”

Cori considered.  “I’m tired of straining my neck looking up at you, Spider-Man.  Sit down and I’ll explain.” She pointed at the chair beside her.

Spider-Man released his grip on the ceiling and dropped soundlessly to the floor.  He slid into the chair Eloise had indicated. “Well?”

“Tell me how much you know about the A.V.E. Project.”

“Not much,” he admitted.  “It started in the 1950s in Nevada.  It seems to be connected with the whole ‘Area 51’ and aliens.  Even with the army of aliens falling out of the sky two years ago, I didn’t really believe in the Area 51 alien conspiracy stories.”

Cori nodded.  “With all those stories I understand why you are dismissive, but there is some truth behind the tall tales.  There was an alien aircraft that crashed down in the desert, and the government has been studying the alien specimens ever since.”

“And that’s the A.V.E. Project?” Spider-Man asked.

“A.V.E. was part of it,” Cori corrected.  “There were many projects: some examining the flight capabilities of the ship, some experimenting with the food, some reverse-engineering the weapons.  But the A.V.E. project was concerned with examining the biology of the alien specimens.  When the government lost interest in the project, the organization I’m affiliated with pressed on--”

“And what organization is that?”

“--You see, the aliens have a most fascinating defense mechanism.  They release pheromones containing a neurotoxin which allows them to influence a perceived threat.  Generally, they used this influence to compel the threat to leave them alone. Of course, there are some much more interesting potential applications to such an ability, particularly when combined with my organization’s other goal of creating super soldiers.”

Cold washed down Spider-Man’s back as all of a sudden it clicked with horrifying clarity:  “You’re talking mind-control. You’re talking about creating soldiers with no free will.”

“We have successfully recreated the alien’s pheromones, but the problem has been delivering the pheromone markers into the target and activating them so the target will obey the commands of a particular individual,” Cori continued calmly, as if she was discussing what dish she should bring to a potluck.

“Which is where your speciality of drug delivery technology comes into play,” Spider-Man dryly suggested.

Cori’s eyes widened and her face broke out into a startled smile. “Yes, precisely!  My nanobots are able to spread these pheromone markers throughout the body, and keep them self-replicating in most subjects.”

“But not all.”

“Unfortunately not.  Some subjects appear to have a genetic predisposition to breaking down the pheromone markers so they don’t continue to replicate after the initial dosing.  This would result in your so-called ‘sleepwalkers’. I set up this free clinic so I could study a diverse population and thus narrow down who is immune and who is not.”

This was sick, and Spider-Man wanted nothing more than to web her up and throw her at S.H.I.E.L.D. so they could shut her whole organization down.  But while she was in a chatting mood, he had to let her keep talking.

“So that addresses your first problem.  How goes the progress on the second?”

“Thus far, we have been unsuccessful in our attempts to create an artificial copy of the alien’s ‘adrenal’ glands.”

“I can hear the air quotes on that.”

“Yes well, that term will do for lack of a better one and because it appears to be the closest equivalent to earth biology.  Though unlike ours, the alien’s ‘adrenal’ glands are imbedded in their brains, which we assume feeds into the telepathic nature of this biological response.”

“Of course.”

“This failure to create an artificial ‘controller’ has greatly stymied our research, as we are thus limited to an extremely finite sample size from the alien’s themselves.”

“Isn’t that a shame?”

“My colleague, Donald Trask, has been focused on creating a full copy of the alien’s adrenal glands--”

Spider-Man startled at the name.  “...Trask?”

“You know him?”

“We’ve met.”

Crap.  Spider-Man’s instincts on Trask had been right.  He hoped Wade was staying safe.

“Trask’s method has resulted in a ‘drug’ a person can take which will temporarily enable the user to develop and excrete the pheremones, thus gaining influence on those around the user.”

And that would be Randy’s drug.  “I’m familiar with it. And it’s messy aftermath.”

“Yes, his method was a complete failure and all his subjects have broken down in a short period of time.  Thus, his interest in Wilson. If Trask could copy aspects of Wilson’s extensive healing factor, then perhaps he can create a successful version of his drug.  He won’t succeed, of course, but that has been his goal in chasing Wilson across the planet for the past year.”

...And Spider-Man had sent Wade right to his doorstep.  Double crap.

No, wait.  It was even worse.  From the sound of Cori’s conversation with Killebrew when Spider-Man had slipped into the room, her rival--Trask--had caught his ‘white whale’.  Trask had Wade!

It was all Spider-Man’s fault for sending Wade after him, for telling Wade to stay and watch Trask more.  He thought he’d been keeping Wade safe by keeping him away from Killebrew, but he’d only got him caught by another evil scientist who wanted to do terrible experiments on him!

No, he couldn’t panic.  He had to think things through.  Trask would need Wade alive. And it was the middle of the night.  He wasn’t likely to be starting a major surgery in the middle of the night.  Spider-Man would have time. He could rescue Wade.

He had to trust Wade could hold out a little longer while Spider-Man took care of Cori.  He needed to wrap this up fast.

Cori continued, “His failure, like that of our predecessors in this study, is his insistence on replicating the alien’s adrenal glands exactly; by creating a human version that both controls and sends out the pheromones to mark the ones controlled.”

“Meanwhile you’ve been working on just the pheromone part of things.”

“By separating out these two processes, I have developed a near perfect version of the pheromones and I am confident that I will soon enough develop an artificial control method as well.  For now--” she tapped a brooch-like device on the collar of her top “--we make due with the original, finite as it is.”

Cori was being more forthright with all this than she had any clear reason to be.  They were sitting side by side, a mere conversational distance between them; she couldn’t possibly expect to be able to stop Spider-Man from capturing her.  And even if somehow he couldn’t capture her, she wouldn’t be able to stop him from warning S.H.I.E.L.D. about what she and Trask were up to.

“Why are you even telling me this?!”

She smiled and Spider-Man went cold.

“Because you’re one of us now.”

Spider-Man shook his head in disbelief.  “There’s no way--”

“Think back, Spider-Man.  You’ve obeyed my every command since you came in here.”

He searched back, trying to recall everything about their interaction.  Had he? It couldn’t be true… But…?

“How…?”

Cori laid her hand on Spider-Man’s arm.  Her long fingers tapped against the bandage.  “I think you aren’t considering what my speciality is,” she noted casually.

Right, nanotechnological developments of drug delivery within the human body.  Was it the knife he’d been stabbed with? No, anything on the blade would have been lost or wiped off before coming into contact with his blood.  But what then? Crap. Masako had applied some sort of first aid cream to his wound when she bandaged it up.   That would certainly have been enough to implant him with Cori’s nanobots.  But that would mean…

“Masako…”

“...Is part of our organization, yes.”

“And what’s that?”  Spider-Man bit out. “The Nazis?”

“Please.  Hitler’s short-lived campaign was primitive, full of small-minded buffoons who had no idea of true power.  I am part of a much older and more prestigious organization.”

He remembered the stories of Captain America.  It wasn’t just the Nazi’s he fought in Europe; he spent most of his time chasing after a particular branch.  “Hydra,” he spat out.

She gave a simple nod of agreement.

Spider-Man’s mouth went dry.  “I thought Hydra was gone, defeated by Captain America when he defeated the Red Skull and took his plane down into the ice!”

“Ah, haven’t you heard?  When you remove one head of Hydra, there will always be another.”

“You’re never going to get away with this…!  S.H.I.E.L.D. will—!”

“Spider-Man, don’t you know?” Cori asked condescendingly.  “S.H.I.E.L.D. is Hydra!”

**********************************

Well, Spider-Man was right.

When isn’t he?

Deadpool really didn’t need ‘i-told-you-so’s’ from himself on top of the ones he was certainly going to get from Spider-Man.

Maybe we can get out of this and he doesn’t have to know?

‘Getting out of this’ was certainly the plan.  His hands were cuffed far enough apart from each other that he was having a difficult time dislocating a thumb.

“You really are remarkable.  Ten thousand volts and you’re still alive.”

Technically we’re not ‘still’ alive.  We’re ‘ back’ to life.

Deadpool really, really didn’t need to correct the evil doctor on ‘still’ versus ‘again’.

“After failing to capture you for the past year, I had given up.  I had secured a piece of you and thought I would have to be content with only your arm, more so when, after a year, there you were--right in front of me!--and yet still out of reach.  But now, here you are! Mine at last!”

Yeaaaaah, that’s not stalker-level creepy or anything.

It’s not like we haven’t pulled stalker-level shit like that .

It’s different when we do it, though!

How so?

“Because we do it out of a place of love.”

“Love?  Yes, of course, passion!  This has been my life’s work, but I have been stymied with failure after failure, jealous associates, and incompetent assistants.  But now! I’m on the verge of a massive breakthrough! Success is in my hands at last!”

He makes even less sense when he talks than you do .

Deadpool made perfect sense.  People just didn’t appreciate that they lived in world with a man at a typewriter...

Wow, you’re going with a deep dive.

Nobody uses typewriters anymore, anyway.

Eh, it’s an oldschool, Classic reference.

He’s still monologuing, by the way .

Whatever, as long as Trask kept himself occupied while Deadpool worked to get the right angle to pop his thumb…

His joint popped out the same time Trask popped a collar around Deadpool’s neck.

That’s not a good thing.

“Well fuck.”

It wasn’t fucking fair.  Popping joints out of sockets fucking hurt, and he’d gone and wasted all that pain because now Trask had yet another method of binding him, and a collar at that!

Some serious kinky stalker-level shit.

And speaking of not good…

“Evening, Trask.  I see after your months of failure upon failure, you’ve finally caught Wilson.”

The newcomer was the evil doctor lady Spider-Man was obsessing over, flanked by a couple of gorilla goons, and standing beside them was the aforementioned Spider-Man. That was very, very not good.

Told you .

“I have, indeed, Eloise.  And unlike you and your hero, you’ll see that I have also successfully placed a Cerebral Impulse Inhibitor upon him.”

“Hmm,” the evil doctor lady hummed noncommittally.

‘Evil doctor lady’? She has a name, you know.

She did, but Deadpool didn’t care enough about her to remember it.

Harsh but true.

You JUST heard her name, AND you remember Trask’s name.

His last name at least.

Unlike the evil doctor lady who Deadpool had only seen pictures of and heard about, he’d actually met and shook hands with Trask.  But also...

“I tend to remember the guys who look at me like they wanna peel off my clothes and see how many licks it takes to get to the center of the tootsie pop.”

Trask coughed delicately.  “Yes, it has been said that you two have been… close … for the past year.”

“Huh?”

Don’t look at me.  I got nothing.

Trask thinks you were talking about Spider-Man.

“In fact, Wilson, go and bring Spider-Man to me.” Trask unhooked Deadpool’s handcuffs.  “You may deal with anyone who stands in your way as you see fit.”

Well, if Trask was going to go and let him free… who was he to argue?

Get Spider-Man.

Wait, what…?

Who…?

Deadpool dashed across the room.  The evil doctor lady’s goons placed themselves in front of Spider-Man.  The fools.

Wait!

Dispatching the goons was easy; a couple punches knocked them out of the way.  They didn’t fight back, which was good because Spider-Man didn’t want any killing…

Why are you even thinking about killing?!  You know Spider-Man doesn’t--

Get Spider-Man.

Deadpool grabbed Spider-Man’s arm, pulling him roughly away from the doctor lady.  Spider-Man flinched.

Dude!  You’re grabbing his injured arm!  What the hell?!

Why isn’t Spider-Man saying anything?!  Not even a cry of pain! This whole thing is suspicious…!  

Bring Spider-Man.

That voice again…!

Who…?

Deadpool pulled an unresisting Spider-Man along.

Why are you listening to this invader?  Wait a minute…!

STOP!

Deadpool paused.

Bring Spider-Man.

No. No.

Bring Spider-Man!

Not happening! No way!

Deadpool waited, his hand gripped onto Spider-Man’s arm.  He didn't get what the big deal was. He was supposed to bring Spider-Man over to Trask.

No, you’re not.

Some random voice gets in your head and you just do what it says?! You don’t listen to Yellow or I most of the time but you suddenly follow this intruder’s orders?!

But, Deadpool was supposed to...

Bring Spider-Man, now!

I don’t know who you are, intruder, but there are only two voices in this head, and that’s White and me!

Obey me!

Not. Happening.

This was really confusing.  He was supposed to bring Spider-Man to Trask.  He knew that. But he had these other voices in his head telling him that wasn’t what he should be doing.

OBEY ME.

Why should we?

Yeah. Two against one, we outnumber you.

OBEY ME!

Why the hell are you listening to this reject?  Where’s it’s biting commentaries? Sarcastic wit?  It’s boring!

And repetitive!

Some obnoxiously underlined voice thinks it can just set itself up in your mind and expect you to listen to it?

It wants you to hand your boyfriend over to some Fox News reject in W.A.S.P.-y golf wear!

Is that what you want to do?  Huh?! Is it?!!

“You’re right!” Deadpool exclaimed.  “There’s no way I want to hand my baby boy off to some one-dimensional d-list non-character!”

“Wha--what are you doing?!” Trask blustered.  “Bring me Spider-Man!”

“Nope!”

“It seems you underestimated his healing ability and your control over Wilson was not as complete as you believed, Trask,” the evil doctor lady commented.

Like we’d let some boring-ass newcomer have control over us!

“You must obey me!”

Please, he’s just embarrassing himself now.

Let’s get Spider-Man and get out of here.

Agreed.

“Same.  Let’s get going, Spidey.”

“Spider-Man, break Wilson’s arms and legs,” the doctor lady stated.

Huh?

Da fuq?!

With a sharp kick into Deadpool’s knee, Spider-Man pushed it to bend the wrong way.

Fuck! Your boyfriend just broke our leg!

While reeling from the first break, Deadpool had no chance to block the second kick which snapped his left leg backwards as well.

You know what this means...

“But how am I going to ride bicycles now?” Deadpool muttered.

REALLY?! You’re going for a Pinky and the Brain reference NOW?!!  Don’t you think we’ve got bigger problems?!

You could fight back you know!

Against Spider-Man?!

“I can’t!  Not against my baby!”

Spider-Man grabbed Deadpool’s right arm and snapped it like a fistful of uncooked spaghetti.

Fucking hell!

He might be able to heal from this, but fuck if it didn’t hurt!

“Shit, Spidey.  Baby. Can we talk about this?!”

Spider-Man answered by breaking his other arm.

Sources say ‘not likely’ on that whole ‘talking about this’ thing.

“Now, Spider-Man, inject him.”

That does NOT sound good!

Deadpool tried to duck out of the way, but for some reason two broken arms and legs sort of hindered his movement.

Funny that.

Except not.

With Deadpool unable to dodge very well, Spider-Man had little difficulty in stabbing some huge ass needle into Deadpool’s chest.

Only doctors should be carrying needles like that!

“But he’d look so adorable in a sexy nurse costume...”

Are we not going to address the fact that we just had something injected into us?

“Looks like someone forgot to read our trading card; poisons got nothing on my healing!”

Have you forgotten everything that’s happened in this story?!

A wave of vertigo washed over Deadpool and his vision narrowed.

“...the fuck?”

Yeah, that.

Fuck.  This shit again?!

“Seems like you have Spider-Man suitably infected by the alien pheromone,” Trask spoke up.

Forgot about him.

Forgot about our whole audience, really.

“Hmm,” the evil doctor lady practically purred.

Creeeeeepy.

Getting a whole ‘bad touch’ vibe from her.

“Getting the whole ‘bad touch’ vibe from the fucking broken bones and the non consensual medical kink, to be honest.”

Yeah, they don’t care.

They’re talking amongst themselves, ignoring us completely.

“You forget, Eloise, that the longer one has had the brain chip, the stronger the control over those infected by the pheromones. I’ve been in the program far longer than a child like you.”

Evil doctor lady’s eyes widened with fear.  “Spider-Man! Silence Trask!” she cried out.

“Spider-Man!  Kill Eloise!”

Spider-Man took a step to Trask before turning on his heel and striding towards the evil doctor lady.

Not good!  Not good! Very, very not good!

Doesn’t Spider-Man have this whole ‘no killing’ thing?

Didn’t I just say ‘not good’?!

“Considering he snapped my arms and legs like Big Foot snaps into a Slim Jim, and since he isn’t the abusive boyfriend sort, somehow I don’t think he’s in the frame of mind to consider his moral stance on killing!”

He is NOT going to be happy when he comes back to himself.

“Ya think?!”

Don’t you think you should try to stop him?

“If you hadn’t noticed, both my arms and legs are broken, and I’m mostly unconscious.  In fact, even though my dialogue is formatted as if I was speaking out loud, I’m actually inside my head at this point, so I’m not really in much of a position to play hero and save him. And, oh.  Shit. I’m unconscious, aren’t I? Fuuuuuck. I hate this fucking poison.”

*******************************

Spider-Man didn’t want to break Wade’s legs, but it felt like the natural thing to do.  Cori told him to, so he did. Like he followed her to Trask’s lab and didn’t talk because she told him not to.

He wanted to talk.  He wanted to warn Wade that Cori was Hydra and that she had developed a method of mind control.

Mind control?  Why did that sound familiar?  Whose mind was controlled? What control?  What had he been thinking about?

SNAP!

Wade’s arm broke just above his elbow.  He yelped in pain.

Crap!  Wade was in pain!  He might be able to heal but that didn’t stop him from feeling pain!  Why was Wade in pain?!

SNAP!

Wade’s other arm broke at the shoulder.

“Now, Spider-Man, inject him.”

Spider-Man pulled out the needle Cori had handed over to him before they entered the lab.  He remembered wanting to ask her what was in it, but she had told him not to talk so he hadn’t.  He kind of wished he had; he didn’t want to hurt Wade, and Wade seemed to be in pain for some reason.

How had Wade gotten hurt?  Spider-Man plunged the needle into Wade’s chest.  Why was Wade talking about poison? Who was poisoning him?

No, no!  Wade was collapsing to the ground.  What was going on? Why was Wade hurt?!

“Spider-Man, silence Trask!”

Spider-Man stepped towards Trask.

“Spider-Man!  Kill Eloise!”

He spun on his heels and stalked Cori.

Cori spoke but her words just buzzed past Spider-Man without him understanding what she was saying.  Her bodyguards stepped in front of him, raising their guns, but Spider-Man dashed forward before they could even get their arms up and sent both flying back with a swinging punch.  There was a crack sound.

Did he pull his punch?  

Why would he?  They were in his way.  He had to kill Cori.

He had to kill her.

Wait.

Kill?!

Spider-Man didn’t kill!  Killing was wrong!

But he had to kill Cori.

Why?  He didn’t kill.  He didn’t want to kill.  Why would he kill someone?!

Why were his hands wrapped around Cori’s neck?!

No, no!  Stop! He had to stop!

He wasn’t stopping!  He had to! He had to--

“Nooooo!” Spider-Man screamed, tearing his hands away from Cori’s neck.

“Spider-Man, KILL HER!” Trask shouted.

“I won’t!”  He pushed himself away from Cori.

Her hands went to her throat, her eyes wide with terror.

Shit!  He’d been killing her!  He’d actually be killing her!  He hadn’t wanted to, but his body had acted on its own.

Spider-Man looked wildly around the room.  Cori’s guards were down for the count, one had blood pouring out of his broken nose.  Trask was still shouting at him to kill Cori. Wade was slumped to the ground, a needle still sticking out of his chest and both arms and legs broken.

No, no, no!  Wade was hurt and it was all Spider-Man’s fault!   He did that to Wade!

He needed to save Wade, but Wade was too far away right now and Spider-Man was compromised.  Any moment now Trask or Cori could re-establish their control over him and make him hurt Wade again!

Spider-Man had to get as far away from Trask and Cori as he could.  The only way he could save Wade right now was to get away from him and get help.  

Crap, who could he get?!  Krissi and Preston were too far to help.  But the Avengers… their tower wasn’t very far, and they needed to know that Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. and was plotting something huge.  Maybe in exchange for warning them about Hydra, one of them might be willing to help Spider-Man rescue Wade.

As much as it killed him to leave Wade behind, Spider-Man took off, running as fast as he could out of Trask’s lab.  He hoped Wade would understand.

********************************

His shoulder was hurting badly.  He must have pulled it at some point when he was under Cori’s control.  It made swinging through the city hard. And much too slow. Would he be too late to save Wade by the time he got to the Avengers?!

Spider-Man’s route to the Avenger’s Tower took him past S.H.I.E.L.D.’s New York base.  The SUVs that had picked up the team not going down to DC were lined up on the road in front of the building.  There were a few black suits moving about, like giant ants from Spider-Man’s skyscraper vantage point.

Which of them were good?  Which ones were Hydra plants?  If only he knew, Spider-Man could get help to Wade now, before it was too late.  Spider-Man had no idea what Cori or Trask would do to Wade, or where they would take him.  

Wait.  One of those agents…

Spider-Man swung lower to get a closer look, confirming his hunch.  Rothschild was standing by one of the SUVs, talking on his phone.

Relief filled Spider-Man.  Rothschild was a familiar face; he was Krissi’s mom’s old boss.  Rothschild had been part of the team finishing up this evening’s capture of the S.H.I.E.L.D. smuggling ring, so he was familiar with the situation and he knew Spider-Man and Wade.  If anyone was going to be able to get a team together to rescue Wade fast, Rothschild was the man.

Spider-Man dropped down beside Rothschild, startling him.  He didn’t give Rothschild a chance to recover.

“I need your help!  Wade’s in trouble! Trask--Doctor Trask--he’s up to something really bad, like Nazi bad, and he’s working with this other doctor, Eloise Cori, except they’re not working together, but on the same thing, but they had me mind-controlled but I was able to get away, but they have Wade--Deadpool--and there are Hydra in S.H.I.E.L.D. and I think they’ve got something big going on, and they’re Nazi’s so it can’t be good, and I’m on my way to the Avengers, but Wade needs help and--”

“Spider-Man!” Rothschild cut in.

Spider-Man took a huge gulp of air, his head buzzing from talking too much, too fast.

“You said Hydra has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.?  That you learned this from Trask?”

“And Eloise Cori, this doctor--”

“Yes, yes.  This is very concerning.”  Rothschild frowned, his lips a thin line.

Spider-Man shifted impatiently on the balls of his feet.  ‘Concerning’ was too mild for this, but he should have expected Rothschild to downplay Spider-Man’s warnings; he hadn’t believed Spider-Man about the sleepwalkers.  But at least he was listening. Spider-Man just wished he’d get with the urgency of the situation. Wade was in danger and Spider-Man’s head was pounding and they needed to go already!

“And Deadpool has been captured by them?” Rothschild continued with his methodical questioning.

“Yes, and--”

“You got away?  You had been controlled but you were able to break it and get away?”

“Yeah!  I don’t know how.  Cori and Trask were fighting, like arguing, not punching, and I was able to snap out of it.”

It had left him with this terrible headache, pounding insistently as he stood waiting for Rothschild to move already.

“Terrible,” Rothschild muttered.  “Something must be done about this.”

“Can you get a team of agents, like ones you trust, to go after Trask and Cori and to get Wade?  Should I go to the Tower still? Cuz if anyone wouldn’t be Hydra, it’d be Captain America, right?  Or do you have his number? But we have to go, because Wade, he’s in trouble...”

Wait.  He hadn’t had a headache when he was swinging through the city.  His headache showed up when he ran into Rothschild.

This wasn’t a headache.

This was his Spidey Sense going into overdrive!

He spun around to find a pair of agents creeping up behind him.

“What’s going on?!”

Something slid around his neck, snapping tightly closed.  Spider-Man threw his hands up to the collar to snap it off.  A sharp pain pierced into the back of his neck. His hands dropped down to his sides without his control.

“W--what…?” he weazed out.

Rothschild leaned into Spider-Man’s face.  “Welcome to the team, Spider-Man. Hail Hydra.”

Chapter Text

Issue 36: Ballad of Fuck All

“This is your fault!”

Well, that wasn’t fair!  He’d been unconscious for the last… however long he’d been unconscious.  Shit, how long had he been out?  And why couldn’t he move?

About two weeks, give or take a day.

Oh so we’re going there, huh?

Not too bad considering the 8 months between previous chapters.

When you put it that way, you’re right.

Besides the dig at the author, which, valid, Deadpool wanted some context on what was up, because dude, he was face down on concrete and again, he couldn’t move.

You got hit with that healing-inhibitor again.

And your boyfriend broke both your arms and legs.

My fault?!  You ruined my test subject!  Once he’s broken free of the control, I won’t be able to put him under with just the pheromone markers anymore!”

“He can still be controlled with a collar!”

“It doesn’t matter that he can be controlled with a collar!  They can ALL be controlled with a collar!  I needed to see how someone with enhanced healing can remain under control without the collar!”

“Well, if you hadn’t come here and tried to take Wilson away, he wouldn’t have broken out of control!”

“He wouldn’t have broken out if you hadn’t given him an order against his morals!”

“Against his morals?  How on earth would I know a thing like that when he hangs around a killer like Wilson!”

“It should have been obvious when Wilson more or less stopped killing this past year since he started being seen around Spider-Man!  Didn’t you read Ward’s report from his run-in with them last fall?  Misato’s?  Have you been paying any attention to this man you’ve been so desperate to capture?!”

“Who…?” Deadpool wondered.

Us, you moron!

Deadpool wasn’t a moron, but it did take him a few moments to situate where he was, who was talking, and what was going on, but he did figure it out, without the peanut gallery in his head.

“You are a complete failure, Trask!  Your experiment is a failure and you couldn’t even keep hold of the rejected formula.  You had an underling steal it and sell it as a new designer drug for over a year without you noticing!  You’re pathetic!”

“I’m not a failure, Eloise!  My experiment is close to success, and now I have Wilson--I can perfect it!”

“Excuse me?  You have Wilson?  I think if you notice, I’m the one in control now.  Wilson is mine.”

Despite the fact that his legs had been broken first, his arms were the first to recover. Deadpool flipped himself around so he was on his back, taking stock of where everyone else was in the room.  Trask was sandwiched between the goons who had come in with the evil doctor lady.  The goons had seen better days, after the roughing up by both Deadpool and Spider-Man, but they were more than enough to hold a frail old guy like Trask in place as Eloise Cori yelled in his face.

“What do you even want with him?” Trask sneered.  “I’m the one who has been chasing him for the past year!”

“And failing.  You even lost Subject 51 in one of your miserable capture attempts.”

“Yes, that might have been a mistake to send Subject 51 after Wilson…” he muttered to himself before turning his attention back to Cori, “Don’t think I don’t know you’ve been hindering my attempts to capture him!”

“Hindering?!  I’ve been SAVING your sorry ass.  Wilson almost tracked you down three times.  If not for me, he would have found you and from there he could have found Hydra!”

Pros: he was conscious, he had his arms back, and the bad guys were too busy fighting each other to notice him. Cons: his legs were still out of commission and it was unlikely that nobody would notice him reverse-T-Rex his way out of the lab.

Add to the con list: more incoming bad guys.

Sure enough, in strode an older middle-aged man in the classic black suit of either a yakuza or a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

Considering he was part of the S.H.I.E.L.D. mission we were just on--

And the fact that he’s not Japanese--

Gonna go out a limb and say he’s probably not yakuza.

“Nor is he as pretty as Coulson.”

“Rothschild!” Trask called out, his face lightening up into a pleased expression.  “Thank god you’re here!  Eloise has--”

Rothschild cut Trask off with a single shot to the forehead.

!!!

Well, fuck!

The evil doctor lady damn near pissed herself, cowering back while her goons jumped clear of the evil doctor dude’s corpse collapsing between them.

“You have failed too many times, Trask,” Rothschild stated as he reholstered his gun, calm as can be.

Okay, he is a little badass.

Not as cool as Coulson.

Oh, definitely not.  But he is a little cool.

“That just means it’ll be more satisfying when I beat his ass into the pavement,” Deadpool noted.

True.

“Rothschild, I--”

“Save it, Eloise.  You started this debacle by bringing Spider-Man into the middle of your feud with Trask and in doing so you lost him.  Fortunately for you, I have been mostly pleased with your progress, and I was able to clean up after your mess, so at the moment I’m willing to look past your absolutely dismel failing tonight.”

“You mean…?”

“Yes, I have collected and collared Spider-Man.”

Fuck! Fuck! “Fuck!”

The evil doctor lady, still all twitchy, threw a glance over to Deadpool at his outburst, but cool-as-a-cucumber Rothschild didn’t even bother.

Gonna need to work harder to get under his skin.

“Is that a challenge?”

“You can relax, Eloise. While having to resort to a collar on Spider-Man is a blow, with both Spider-Man and Deadpool in our possession, I am confident in your ability to perfect your pheromone markers and to improve the control method.  The Council is quite interested in your progress, as well.  Cybertek’s methods rely too heavily on the subject’s will-to-live or blackmail, neither of which is infallible.  And with the setbacks they’ve had this year, our process is clearly the superior option.”

“Then the Council has agreed--”

“They have agreed to nothing at this point.  Captain America has proven harder to catch than anticipated, but he can’t outrun us for long, particularly since Pierce has sent out the Winter Soldier to collect him.  Whether he is brought to our group, or to Cybertek, or to another of Hydra’s organizations will depend entirely upon what you are able to accomplish, or fail to accomplish, with the subjects you have on hand.  Therefore, I suggest you be prepared for some long hours.  I expect great results from you.”

“Yeah, you’re in command now, Captain Needa,” Deadpool quipped.

Fail.

Nobody is going to remember the set up to this joke from a page ago.

“Spider-Man, come here,” Rothschild ordered, still completely ignoring Deadpool.

Spider-Man entered the room, wearing the same kinky collar that Trask had put on Deadpool.  Somehow, he doubted that Spider-Man was gonna break out of its control as easily.

Not based on what Cori and Trask were saying as you were waking up, no.

“I suppose now that I have him under my control, it’s time to indulge my curiosity,” Rothschild said when Spider-Man was standing beside him.  “Spider-Man, take off your mask!”

“No!” Deadpool cried out, too late to stop Spider-Man from outing himself.

Except…

Who the fuck is that?!

“...I have no idea who this is,” Rothschild noted.  

Same.

Oh he’s definitely our Spidey.

How?!

He did confiscate the mask we took from the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent before the mission tonight.

Right.  Face-changing mask thingy.  Fuck that thing is useful and suspiciously well-placed right now.

It’s called foreshadowing.

It’s called being really fucking lucky, that’s what it is.

Not that Rothschild would likely have any idea who ‘Peter Parker’ is or looked like anyway, but it’s still better that Spidey’s real face wasn’t revealed just now.

Oh thank fuck.  Even if his secret identity had been blown, Deadpool doubted Spider-Man would agree to Deadpool murdering everyone who had seen his face, despite how much Deadpool would much rather murder them on principle at this point.

That would also imply that we could move enough to stand up, which at the moment is still a no-go.

You’re implying we couldn’t murder from a prone, disabled position?

Point.

“That was rather anticlimactic.”  Rothschild sighed.  “Though, I’m not sure what I was expecting, honestly.”

“I had wondered if he might have been that reporter from the Daily Bugle who’d been asking around about my old mentor…”

“Wilkens?  Did someone find the body?”

“No, he was properly disposed of.”

“Hmm.  I wish you’d been able to get him to cooperate with us, but I suppose it doesn’t matter now.  Gather your new subjects and head back to your lab.”

“And see what’s on the slab!” Deadpool jauntily exclaimed.

Dude, that movi