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Can't keep living (for the damage)

Chapter Text

Tony Stark was well accustomed with loss. He might even call it an old friend. First his parents, Jarvis, Obi. None was quite as harrowing as losing Peter. 

His golden boy, the first family Tony had since his parents' death. Peter.

Tony didn't think he was ready to be a father when May Parker showed up on his doorstep with a baby in her arms. She wasn't the mother, the mother died at birth, Tony was the father, that's what she told him. 

He couldn't even remember the woman he supposedly impregnated, that didn't have to mean anything though. Tony's drinking habits were less than stellar at the time.

A paternity test proved his worst fear to be true. Fatherhood. Tony had no concept of a good father, thinking of his own only caused year old resentment and grief to bubble up in him. A strange mix, confusing, too. 

He tried to learn from his father's mistakes, do the opposite. Peter didn't have a mother and Tony was a busy man, it would've been easy to hand him over to a Nanny, make him someone else's problem. But Tony wanted to be better. So he did everything himself. 

He changed diapers and feed him, he sat awake at night,  not because he was working but because Peter wasn't sleeping, he cared for him when he was sick, taught him how to walk, how to talk, to read and write and build his first robot.

Even though Tony was scared shirtless, convinced that he wasn't ready, that he would fuck him up somehow, he loved his son more than anything in the world. Peter made Tony believe that he could be better, that he wasn't beyond repair, that there was more in life than working and partying. 

Peter made Tony better. And then Peter died. 

~

It was all over the news for months. Tony missed most of it.

He came home from a buisness trip, one that he didn't take Peter on. He was gone for one day. Only one day. He tried to leave as rarely as possible but he still had to do it sometimes. So he left him with Obi, that was when he still trusted him. Not even a year later he would realize that that was his first mistake. 

When he came home Obadiah was unconscious, the security system was turned off and Peter? Peter was gone. Except that he wasn't. 

There was blood, so much blood that Tony knew, whatever they did to his son, he couldn't have survived it. He stepped into Peter's bedroom and when he saw the massacre they left, his mind shut off. 

There were questions. Who could do something like this to a child? Why? What was their motivation? Their end goal? If it was to rip out Tony's heart and crush it into dust, they succeeded. It didn't matter though.

They buried an empty casket. Peter Stark was dead and for a while, Tony was too. Life continued though, the earth kept on spinning and it wouldn't wait on Tony. Hr was well accustomed with loss, he knew how to pull himself out of sorrow, even if it always stayed with him. 

Work. It always took Tony's mind off things, he just needed to find a project that would keep him busy, overtake his thoughts. Then Afghanistan happened.

~

Tony never stopped grieving his son and it would be a lie if he claimed that it got easier. It didn't. He just got better at handling it. 

He tried everything to give his life purpose again. Became Iron Man, became an Avenger, he even fell in love with a man who knew loss as intimately as Tony did. 

Steve was a gift, a blessing, the first person after Peter that Tony could truly call family. But even then, the sorrow never dwindled. Two times a year, Peter's birthday and the day of his death, Tony retreated to mourn his beautiful boy. Steve let him, never questioned it, never judged. Because he had his own family that he mourned. He understood.

Tony told Steve up front that he'd never have children again. That he couldn't bare the fear of losing them, and if he did, he wouldn't survive it. Tony thought that would be enough to send Steve away. He already prepared himself for another loss. It didn't happen,  Steve stayed. Each time Tony pushed him away, not because he wanted Steve gone, just because he was trying to get to the inevitable pain quicker, Steve stayed. 

Days passed, weeks, months, years. Suddenly a decade. It didn't feel like it. Tony could still see the blood like it had been yesterday. Peter would've been 19 years old. Except he never got to go that far. Never even turned ten,never went to high school or graduated, never fell in love, never kissed a girl, never went to prom or got his driving license.

Peter Stark never got to live a normal life. Though that didn't mean that he was dead. Tony just didn't know that yet.

Chapter Text

The last thing Peter remembered was feeling cold. No, he wasn't cold, he was freezing. And he saw Dr Keipon's face in front of his, then nothing.

He was cold now, too. His body was heavy, like someone filled him up with lead and he felt like he couldn't even lift his eyelids. That's why it took a second for his senses to tune in again. It was like a  reboot everytime, it took a moment but then it all came back. Panic shook through his core, all his body hair raised up and his eyes snapped wide open. 

Peter didn't even register that he didn't recognize the person in front of him, didn't even register the weird red and black suit or the mask with the eerie white eyes. His fight or flight instinct just set in and he ripped his arms and legs out of the restraints of the chamber and grabbed the stranger, hurling him against a wall before jumping to the ceiling. 

This went down in a matter of seconds and only after that, when he had retreated into one corner of the ceiling he allowed himself to breath and observe the situation. 

He was still in the same location. Keipon's lab. No windows, no way to tell what time of day it was or how much time had passed. That wasn't new. Peter wasn't sure if he could even remember the last time he saw the sun. 

Peter didn't feel any injuries, he was wearing gray scrubs, like most of the time and the mask with the gag that was strapped to his face,  making it hard to breath. Also, he was starving, and he could tell that the burst of Adrenaline he just had wouldn't keep him going for long. Shit.

The stranger that opened the chamber was alone. That was unusual. So was his get up. Still, he was a threat, about as tall, if not even a little bit tall than Peter but with broad shoulders and muscles showing underneath his peculiar suit. Not to mention the two katanas and the guns that were fastened to his body. 

The other male slowly rose from his spot on the ground, groaning in pain as he stretched and Peter realized that he could hear his bones cracking. But that was the only thing. 

Something was wrong here. Usually Peter could barely hear his own thoughts over the sound of, well, everything. He could hear the whole base, hundreds of voices, footsteps, laughter, all blending together into one agonizing headache. Right now everything was silent. It was disturbing.

"Fuck,  you pack a punch baby boy...", the stranger smirked, at least it sounded like that, Peter couldn't see his face under the mask. His voice was deep and rough, intimidating. Peter could feel his strength drain out of him, exhaustion taking its place. No no no

"You wanna come down here or-?", the stranger didn't even get to finish his sentence when Peter lost grip on the wall and crashed to the floor. It hurt. Then again,  Peter was used to it. He had been through this often enough that he knew that there was no point in fighting it, especially not in his state. So he stayed down, his face pressed to the cold floor. He didn't fight the other male when he put his hands on him and turned him on his back. The masked face appeared in his line of sight. 

"Wow, are you okay?! Wait-", the stranger asked before reaching behind Peter's head, undoing the strap of his mask and pulling out the several inches long gag that came with it. Peter desperately gasped for air before snapping his moth shut for the first time in God knows how long. "You're Peter, right?", the stranger asked, tossing away the mask. Peter didn't question why he knew his name, they all did. The way he was holding his head though, gently, that's what freaked the boy out. 

"You're HYDRA-", his voice was barely above a whisper and his whole throat ached as he spoke. 

"No, I'm deadpool. And I'm sure you're disoriented from playing frosty the snowman but I definitely don't belong to HYDRA.", his tone was chipper. Lies. They're all lies. 

"Prove it...", Peter croaked out, trying to sound defiant but he just didn't have it in him anymore. God, he was so tired. 

"Alright Spidey. You want proof, let's get you out of here then." Suddenly Peter wasn't on the ground anymore,  he was being carried, bridal style. Sure, it was humiliating, but Peter was way past feeling humiliated and his aching body was just glad that he wasn't dragged along. 

Once they stepped out of the room into the hallway Peter realized why he couldn't hear the others anymore. It's because they were dead. Their bodies were spread all over the place. Agents, scientist and doctors, all laying in their own blood and Deadpool or whatever his name was, was using them as stepping stones, jumping from one to the other. 

"Did you do this?", Peter asked, trying to lift his head to get a better look but quickly failing. 

"Yup! I kill Nazis for sport!", Deadpool exclaimed cheerfully and even though Peter thought that he was absolutely crazy, even though he had no idea where Deadpool was taking him and what he'd do to him, even though he didn't trust him at all, it was a little satisfying. 

"Good...", he mumbled before losing consciousness again.

~

Wade didn't start the day planning for it to go like this. Well, kinda. He did plan on infiltrating a HYDRA base and killing everyone there to the sound of 'Don't stop me now'. Sundays are for self care, you know? And there was nothing that made him feel better about himself than bathing in Nazi blood. 

What he didn't plan on was finding a cryo chamber with an actual person inside. He could see his face through a window in the metal door, half of it to be precise. Pale skin, messy brown hair, sharp features. The other half, his nose and mouth, were covered with a black mask.

"You're not Bucky Barnes... I though this was his thing.", Wade mumbled before seeing the file that was in a holder that was attached to the chamber.  He grabbed it and flipped it open.

"Now, who is this little popsicle and would it be a bad idea to let him out of his freezer?" Wade froze when he even saw the name at the top of the file. Peter Stark. 

He had been 15 when Tony Stark's kid died. It was all over the news, everyone and their mother was freaking out because of it.There was no way in hell that this was the same Peter.

But as Wade continued to look through the file, further and further back in this Peter's history, one that was filled with torture and experiments, he got more and more convinced that he just found Iron Man's son. The last picture took the cake. It was a small boy, 9 or 10 years old, teary eyes, looking as miserable as Wade felt on his worst days. He knew that face, that face had been all over the news for weeks. It was Peter Stark. 

Of course that didn't answer any questions. Why was he alive? What did they do to him? Why put his real name at the top of the file? (That last one was quite easy if he thought about it. Considering that she wrote this at 2 am, Janna, the author, probably had the mental capacity of a tea spoon and it was just too damn convenient) 

Wade didn't contemplate the questions much longer before deciding to press the big red button that was just too inviting. And you already know what went down after that. 

That's how Deadpool ended up stuffing an unconscious Peter Stark into the passenger seat of his pick-up truck. The whole first hour of their ride Wade could only glance over at Peter every few seconds. The boy, he had to be like 20 but he seemed much younger, looked like he went through hell and according to the file Wade also took with him, he did. 

Peter was just skin and bones, tall but incredibly thin, his skin was as white as paper and looked like it had never seen the sun and all his features were too sharp, they must've starved him. 

Wade didn't really think about where he was taking Peter. It was a given. Bring the boy back to his father. That didn't mean that it wasn't thoroughly discussed by his boxes. A conversation he tried to tune out to the best of his abilities. "Shut the fuck up.", he once spat at yellow just to realize that Peter was not only awake, but also staring at him. Great

He didn't say anything though, didn't move either. He only tracked Wade with careful eyes before he looked ahead. The highway in front of them was empty and you could see miles and miles ahead to where the blue sky clashed with the horizon. 

"Where are you taking me?", he asked, his voice barely audible. He didn't sound agitated, though. Or scared. Just resigned. It was worrying. 

"Right now? I'm taking you out for dinner. Everything's on me! Don't take this the wrong way but you look like you are seconds away from death. ", Wade replied, his tone chipper. Peter didn't look at him, in fact he closed his eyes and for a moment Wade thought that he had passed out again. 

"I don't believe you.", his eyes were still closed and he had leaned his head against the window but at least he was conscious. 

"Well, doesn't change the fact that you are getting some waffles baby boy. ", Wade shrugged, focusing on the road again. He didn't like how defenseless the boy seemed. Not an hour ago he threw Deadpool through the air like he was nothing, he probably could stop this car immediately if he tried. He didn't even move. Self preservation skills need some working on.

"I'm not tied up ", he suddenly mumbled like it was some kind of realization and when Wade looked down he saw Peter's hands in his lap, rubbing around his wrist like they were sore. 

"Yeah, I'm not HYDRA, told you so. No tying up in here unless you ask me to.", he winked and that actually go Peter to open his eyes and frown at him. Nice! 

"Who are you?", he asked. 

"Wade Wilson but my enemies call me Deadpool.", he replied and Peter just looked out the window again. Tough crowd, huh? 

"Where are you really taking me? After the waffles, I mean.", his face didn't change but he sounded confused, irritated. Wade was just happy that he wasn't catatonic. 

"Ever heard of Tony Stark? Super rich billionaire, Iron Man, Avenger, dates the embodiement of the American wet dream?", Wade asked and Peter shook his head ever so slightly. Apparently he missed a lot.

"Well, you won the lottery, he's your daddy and I'm bringing you over to him."

Peter was silent for a while, minutes past by and he didn't react at all. "Hello? Earth to Spider-Boy? You still with me?", Wade asked after a while. 

"I don't have a dad.",he only said.

"Bullshit. Everybody does. And yours is even alive and doesn't seem to be a complete shitshow. Hurray!"

"If you say so " 

That ended the conversation for a while. At least until Wade left the highway and drove to the nearest wafflehouse, stopping in front of it. Peter stared out the window with big eyes and then looked back at Wade, narrowing them.

"This is a waffle house.", he only stated.

"It's not like I told you my intentions,  sorry 'but that. I knew that Tony Stark's son has to be a perceptive one.", Wade smirked, opening the door and stepping outside. He was relieved when Peter did the same, even though his whole body was trembling, he managed to stay on his feet. 

"Yeah, but I didn't think that you are serious.", he admitted, still holding on to the car and Wade had the suspicion that it was the only thing keeping him upright. 

"Come on, I'll help you-", he stepped towards him but Peter flinched so hard he almost shattered the window. 

"Don't touch me!", ge gasped out, his eyes suddenly wild and Wade took a big step back, holding up his hand while Peter gasped for air, clutching his chest until his knuckles turned even whiter. "I can do this myself...", he then mumbled before pushing himself away from the car and slowly stumbling towards the restaurant. Not for the first time today, Deadpool wished he could go back in time and kill those agents all over again, but make it really count this time. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"I wonder if you intended to keep us low profile. If you did, you fucked that one up spectacularly.", Peter mumbled as they sat in one of the booths of the waffle house, the seat was soft, comfortable, foreign.

Peter could feel the other customers staring at them, the waiter that took their order glared at both of them like they were fucking aliens. 

"You see, I didn't really plan on stumbling into you. But even if I did, low profile isn't really my style. If it was I wouldn't be wearing this bright read full body condom every day.", Deadpool, or Wade, smirked.

Peter didn't know what to think of him. He didn't trust him, Peter wasn't sure if he could trust anyone ever, it's not like he ever did before. But so far Wade hadn't harmed Peter, yet. The emphasis was on 'yet'. Still, he took him outside, bought him food, didn't keep him chained up. Even if this was a last meal kind of thing, one good day before they free him of his misery, Peter appreciated it. He didn't get many good days, if any at all.

The waiter returned, a boy with a sweaty face and a blond buzz cut, Peter thought they were probably similar in age, then again, Peter didn't know his own age. 

He had two plates that were stacked with piles of waffles, Deadpool really went all out, and two mugs in hand. Water for Peter, hot chocolate with whipped cream for Wade.

He placed it on the table and Peter's eyes focused on the food. Waffles. He was sure that he had eaten it before. He knew that they were good, he just couldn't remember when or where he could've eaten them. Not in HYDRA custody, that's for sure.

That was a continuous issue for him. Peter could remember stuff like playing with toys, watching Disney movies, getting tugged into bed. He just didn't remember where he got those memories.

He didn't believe a word when Wade told him that he was bringing him to his father. Peter didn't have a family, HYDRA raised him, he was their creation. If he knew anything it was this. 

Peter didn't wait until Wade allowed him to eat, he just grabbed the first waffle off the stack and stuffed it in his mouth. He couldn't remember the last time he ate real food, HYDRA usually just forced a tube up his nose and fed him through that.

The waffles were delicious, he knew it, and the taste was almost too much, swallowing hurt but he didn't care. Peter was so focused on eating that it took him a while to notice that the waiter was still standing next to him, glaring. 

He looked up with a raised eyebrow, God, the kid looked nervous. "Uhh, sorry sir, but... are you being kidnapped? Should I call the cops?", he whispered carefully and Peter almost smirked. He had to look quite worrying with his sickly appearance, the scrubs and he was also barefoot.

Technically he was being kidnapped but then again, Wade had been the worst kidnapper ever so far, that didn't mean that he wasn't dangerous. Peter had seen what he did to the HYDRA agents. He didn't really want to find out what the punishment would be if he tried to escape. 

"Nah I'm good, thanks for the concern, though. ", he replied before continuing to eat. The waiter nodded and hurried away. Peter didn't divert his eyes from his food but he could feel Deadpool staring at him. 

"Are you suddenly trusting me or what? 'Cause that would be hella rushed relationship development.", Wade then asked and Peter looked up at him.

"No.", he only replied before continuing to shovel the food in his mouth. Fuck, it was so good.

"Then why not let him call the cops? You know, I did technically kidnap you.",Wade pointed out before narrowing his eyes at Peter. "Maybe you should slow down a little or you might puke."

Peter ignored his warning and chose to answer his first question instead. "Yeah, but it could be worse. I saw what you did to the agents,  I don't want that happening to me and I know that there would be no point in running. I'm too weak." Always have been.

"You seem a bit hopeless.", Deadpool said and Peter shrugged, eating some more waffles. 

"Are you surprised?", he smirked. "Then again, I'm just realistic. I'm clearly at a disadvantage here and fighting doesn't work." It never did. I learned that the hard way. 

Wade stayed quiet after that, he almost seemed... upset? Was he disappointed that Peter was such an uninteresting prisoner? That did happen from time to time. Some agents preferred him to be defensive and loud. They enjoyed punishing him for that. And if he didn't act the way they wanted they punished him anyways. They always found a reason. 

Deadpool didn't punish him though, he just let him eat his food in silence and he didn't say 'told you so', when Peter puked beside a car in the parking lot when they were outside again. 

Still, he felt better, more energized, the little bit of food he managed to keep in still wasn't enough for his metabolism but at least he wasn't absolutely miserable. He still didn't try to run, though. There was no point, he just got back into the car and drove off with Wade. 

He could feel the other male glance over to him every once in a while but Peter was too captivated by the outside world.

The sky that was slowly turning a lilac color as the sun began to set, the nature around them offering a stark contrast with its orange and yellow tones, sprinkles of green.

He could still feel the warmth of the sun on his skin. He was still cold, Peter hadn't felt warm in... maybe ever. But to feel the sun, to see the sky, the world, other people, to eat food and hear some song he doesn't know play on the radio, it was more than Peter ever hoped for.

~

HYDRA fucked the kid up good, that much was clear. Wade expected more of a fight, that Peter would try to run or at least not do what Wade told him. But the younger male was like a well trained dog. Doing exactly what Wade said without questioning it. It was disturbing. 

He drove him to a store to get him some real clothes and he just let Wade pick out stuff for him, he didn't even try them on, just went straight to the registry. "Aren't you gonna change, too?", Peter then asked after Wade payed the clothes and they went back to the car. 

"I already did!", He exclaimed, pointing at the hideous Hawaii shirt he was wearing on top of his suit. 

Peter raised his eyebrows. "So you're keeping the suit on? Real subtle.", he then stated and Wade hoped that he wasn't imagining the sarcastic tone.

"Trust me, baby boy. I'm doing you a favor. Nobody wanna see what's under the mask.", Wade shrugged and Peter only frowned before getting into the car again.

He was a lot steadier on his feet by now which was good. Still looked like a corpse, though. He also looked tired, maybe he just wasn't used to this much activity but once they got back into the car Peter leaned his head against the window, his eyes half closed, his breathing slowing down. 

"Okay, let's get a motel room then.", Wade suggested, as he drove. 

"Huh?", Peter asked, lifting his head slightly. Wade looked over at him. (You gonna make him take a shower? He stinks.)

[Ew, skeleton boy, you really wanna share a room with him]

(Yeah, besides, are you planning on keeping the suit on in bed?  Or are you gonna show him how disgusting you are?)

[Maybe he'll finally try to run!]

"Shut up!", Deadpool hissed at his boxes and to his dismay Peter flinched violently but didn't say anything, looking out the window again. 

"Sorry, I wasn't talking to you.", Wade sighed but Peter's defenses were back up, not that they were ever really down. 

(Why would he trust you anyways? Fucking monster)

"Mhmm.", he nodded slowly, he seemed alert again, the tension in his body was more apparent. Fuck, Wade really had to treat him with caution. 

"Anyways,  what was I saying? Ah, yes, we're going to stay at a motel tonight, I think you could use a full night's rest and we'll continue our journey to your Tinman daddy tomorrow."

"Do you really expect me to believe your story?", Peter then asked. His voice was monotone, Wade couldn't see his face, had no idea what he was thinking. 

"Nah. But I got proof.", Wade shrugged, pulling his phone out of one of the pockets of his suit. He quickly typed Peter's name into Google and found an article that was a few months old, it was released for the tenth anniversary of the boys supposed death. It also showed a picture of him, he had a striking resemblance not only to the Peter in his car right now but also the one from HYDRA's file. 

"See! That's you! Standing next to your dad, mister billionaire genius himself. Officially you're dead, have been for about 10 years, obviously you're not but nobody knows that yet."

Wade had handed off the phone to Peter so that he could focus on the road again. When he didn't make sound Wade got concerned and glanced over at him again. It turned out to be justified because Peter wasn't looking at the phone anymore.

In fact he had completely crushed it in his hand, holy fuck he was strong. But Wade could also see blood where the glass of the screen was cutting his hands. Peter's eyes were squeezed shut and he was trembling. 

"Hey!", Wade exclained, reaching for his hands to loosen his grip and that turned out to be a bad move. Peter let go of the phone and grabbed Wade's hand, twisting it until his wrist snapped. Fuck

The boys eyes were wide open, a wild look of panic and fury in them. "What kind of game are you playing?!", he suddenly hissed before Wade freed his hand out of his grip and pulled the car to the side of the road. 

"What the fuck?!", he exclaimed and it was like he flipped a switch, Peter crumbled like a house of card. The anger left his face and only pure, animalistic fear remained. 

"I- I'm sorry- I-", he stammered, reaching for the door handle and opening the door before falling out the car, backwards. Shit.

Wade cursed quietly, trying to ignore the boxes, chanting in his head as he got out the car. Once he walked around it he just saw Peter on the ground, curled up, his long boney arms shielding his head, but he didn't try to run, he just trembled horribly while little whines escaped him.

[Fucking pathetic.] 

Shit.

"Peter-", Wade asked carefully and the boy flinched as if he had kicked him. 

"I'm sorry- I- don't- I'm sorry-", he gasped desperately. 

"Peter-", Wade repeated, keeping his distance, he had a feeling that getting too close would end badly for both of them. "-I won't hurt you. Okay. I'm not mad. " 

(God, you sound like a parent-)

[I'M NOT MAD, I'M JUST DISAPPOINTED]

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry-", Peter only repeated and Wade got the feeling that the boy wasn't really there anymore.  Maybe he was having a flashback, maybe he didn't even hear Wade's words. Fuck fuck fuck

"Peter, I need you to listen to me.", Wade ordered, he had to ground him somehow. To his surprise Peter went quiet, he still didn't look at him, though.

"Yes, listen to my voice, that's right. You're not at HYDRA anymore. Okay? You are outside, beside a highway. We were driving and- " Then I triggered something in you "-we had a misunderstanding. But we're fine now, everything is fine now, okay?"

Amazingly, Peter actually seemed to calm down. His trembling got weaker and he stopped gasping for air and started to breath semi-normally again. 

Wade continued to repeat his words until he was sure that Peter had completely calmed down, so much so, that he actually fell asleep. 

(Great fucking job!)

[Yeah, he passed out from stress! Because of you!]

"Fuck you...", Wade sighed before stepping closer to Peter and lifting his limp body up again. God, he was as light as a feather.

"Let's get you an actual bed, shall we?"

Chapter Text

Noise, laughter, cackling, the dripping of water, he was freezing, hurting all over. A boot stepped on his head, pressing his face harder against the cold concrete floor. He could smell his own panic. It was all too much.

" Not so strong now? Huh, Pete?", Dr Keipon grinned. More water, Peter was already drenched, naked, trembling from the cold and the agony.

He heard the batons before he felt them, tried to brace himself, it was useless. He screamed into his gag until his voice broke-

~

Peter was screaming, had been for the last 30 minutes. Wade only went to the bathroom for a few minutes and he thought the boy would be fine, since he had slept for the last few hours without any problems.

Then he heard them, terrifying wails, like somebody was burning alive, Wade knew what that felt like.

He stormed back into the room expecting that maybe someone broke in, maybe HYDRA somehow found them, maybe- The only thing he saw was Peter, sticking to one corner of the ceiling, his eyes clenched shut.

Wade needed a moment to access the situation. The bed Peter slept in only minutes ago was completely ripped up, as if a wild animal went wild with it. It took him a solid minute to figure out that Peter wasn't even awake.

It would've been pretty impressive that he could do his whole wall crawling thing while not really conscious if it wasn't for the fact that he was still screaming. Gut wrenching screams, animalistic.

What was even more disturbing was when he tried to hold the screams back. His chest heaving, he'd bite his lips until they burst open and red dripped down his chin. It never lasted long, a new wave of terror would roll over him and the screams would start again. Fuck fuck fucking fuck.

Wade needed to get him to wake up and he also needed to get him off the ceiling. He hesitated for a second, touching Peter wasn't the best of ideas, especially when he was in this state. Wade remembered how Peter flinched away when he reached for him. But did he really have another choice?

Wade grabbed the boy, careful not to hurt him and pulled him off the wall. It was surprisingly easy and suddenly Peter was curled up in Wade's arms. He stopped screaming, whimpering instead while his whole body trembled violently. Wade wasn't sure which one was worse.

He quickly put Peter down on the shredded bed and the boy turned to one side, pressing his face into the mattress and digging his fingers into it until Wade was sure that it would rip soon. There he stayed, sobbing uncontrollably.

(Fucking crybaby)

[Shake it until it stops!]

"Shut the fuck up!", Wade hissed, he was already stressed enough without his boxes chiming in. To his dismay Peter flinched at his words, going completely still.

"Hey... Hey, baby boy, Pete-", Wade didn't know what it was, he didn't even touch him but suddenly Peter's eyes opened wide as he sat up so abruptly that he almost knocked his head against Wade's.

The boy quickly scrambled away, his eyes shooting around the room frantically. "Hey... hey, you're okay. It was just a dream. You're not at HYDRA anymore, you're with me. Remember? We ate waffles...", Wade tried to calm him down and amazingly it seemed to work. Peter's eyes focused on Wade and he nodded shakily.

"Yeah... waffles...", he mumbled, his voice raw from all the screaming. Still, he seemed close to going back into full on panic mode, gasping for air, his eyes wide and terrified. "Can- Can we go outside- Can I- I-please-", he then stuttered and Wade got up with a nod.

"Of course! Can you walk by yourself?", he asked and Peter looked down himself, his expression uncertain. He got off the bed himself, though. (Only to collaps right away, but still.) Wade caught him before he could fall down completely, putting one of the boys boney arms over his own neck so that he could support him. Peter went rigid for a second but quickly sagged against Wade.

That's how he practically dragged Peter outside. The motel they were staying in had a pool area that was still lit and completely empty so Wade brought him there. He wanted to put him on one of the sun loungers but suddenly Peter pulled his arm free and collapsed to the ground, he stayed on his hands and knees for a second while he tried to catch a breath and Wade didn't know what to do until he let himself fall to one side and rolled onto his back. Peter laid on the ground spread eagle style and he was still breathing heavily but he seemed calmer than all night.

"Oh fuck...yeah... that's better... thanks. ", he sighed, his eyes turned towards the sky. Suddenly he smirked.

(He's losing his shit)

"Holy fuck! Look at the stars!", he gasped out and started to chuckle until he was full on laughing. It wasn't bitter or hollow, a true, joyful laugh, even though Wade could see tears pouring out of his eyes running down the sides of his meager face. "Do they always look like this? It's even better than I imagined!"

Wade understood that Peter was having a cathartic experience or whatever but that didn't make it any less worrying. He slowly sat down on the ground across from him and Peter tracked him with his eyes. "You okay, Spidey?", he asked concerned and Peter looked over at him, a wide smile on his face.

Wade thought he looked quite handsome, even with the blood shot eyes and dark circles under them.

(Yeah, get someone as fucked up as yourself)

[Maybe he'll be so thankful that you saved him that he'll fall for you]

(That is, until he sees your face)

[bye bye baby boy]

Wade quickly pushed the thought aside. "I don't think so...", Peter confessed, smiling. He then closed his eyes, took a deep breath and looked up at the sky again. "I actually think that I'm officially losing my mind completely. " Then he chuckled again, like it was the funniest shit on earth. "It's about damn time!"

Wade was just about to say something, probably something morbid yet amusing but then Peter sat up and looked at Wade.

His brown eyes looked black in the low light and one of the corners of his mouth was still quirked up into a crooked smile, another tear rolled down his cheek. "Are you going to kill me?", he didn't sound scared, just curious, which wasn't good.

"No, I told you, I'm bringing you to your daddy.", Deadpool shrugged and Peter pulled a face before leaning his head back until he could see the night sky again.

"It would be fine by me, you know.", Peter then went on as if he didn't hear what Wade had said. "Not to say that I want to die. It's just... it wouldn't be the worst deathday ever. I'd prefer it today. I had some waffles, listened to music, saw the sun, the stars, pretty good last day."

Wade had never heard someone talk as casually about death except for himself. The thing is, Wade's immortal, dying was literally as manageable as a flu to him, if not more. Peter didn't have that power, at least as far as Wade could tell. "You're not dying today, or anytime soon, not on my watch.", Wade sighed and Peter raised an eyebrow before shrugging slightly.

"Bummer. What else are you gonna do with me then, huh?"

"Is it that hard to believe that I'm bringing you to your father? Should I show you the picture again? Why does it bother you so much anyways? If I found out I had a father that isn't a complete shitshow and actually wants me... actually, I don't know what I'd do, but I'd want to meet him.", Wade snapped and Peter flinched ever so slightly, melting away Wade's irritation instantly.

Peter didn't take it too bad, though. He was still grinning. "Yes, look at me! I'm so lucky!", he exclaimed before looking at Wade again. Wade thought that that would be everything he'd say on the topic but no. It took him a few minutes of silence but Peter got a little more serious before confessing what his issue was.

"I saw the pictures, okay? I believe you. Doesn't mean that I can accept it. My whole worldview just got blown to pieces, man. Did someone ever tell you that your whole life is a lie? It fucking sucks. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was a shit life. But I believed in it. I- I don't know- I'm probably not making any sense..."

Peter looked so much younger than he was in that moment. He was, what, 19? But he looked like a child, narrow shoulders, hunched over, huge eyes that looked so fucking lost. But he also wore the exhaustion of an old man, someone who has been through way too much. It was a dichotomy that was equally fascinating and heartbreaking.

"Hey, it's fine if this is a lot right now, you need to get used to all of this first and that'll take a while. But I want you to know that you're safe now. I won't hurt you and you're not a prisoner anymore, I won't make you do anything that you don't want. Pinky promise!", he stated, holding out his pinky finger. Peter didn't even look at it.

His eyes were focused on Wade's masked face and for a while that was the only thing he did, stare at Wade silently. It was really intense in a weird way. Then:"Can you take off the mask?"

Alarm bells went off in Wade's head in the form of his boxes laughing manically. "Trust me, you don't wanna see my ugly mug.", he only smirked but Peter didn't let it go this easily.

He cocked his head to one side narrowing his eyes at Wade. "It's okay. I get it.", he then said and Wade already thought that he got lucky. "The Agents never showed their faces either. Can't even identify them.", he then shrugged and Wade raised his eyebrows.

"Are you trying to guild trip me?", he asked and Peter shrugged again, continuing his intense glare. If it would help Peter to trust him a little more... With a sigh Wade finally caved in. "But don't say I didn't warn you...", he tried to joke before pulling off his mask revealing his face and head that was completely covered in scar tissue.

(Cue the gagging)

Peter didn't react at all. He was like a statue, just looking into Wade's eyes, directly now. "How did this happen?", he then asked.

"Part of my mutation.", Deadpool replied.

"It's not half as bad as you pretended.", Peter then said and Wade almost laughed out.

"Yeah sure, you're a shit Liar, Pete!" Peter flinched slightly, his expression darkening.

"Could you please not call me that?", he asked quietly.

"Of course, sorry.", Wade said and Peter relaxed slightly.

"I wasn't lying by the way.", he then said. "But I kinda get it." Wade raised his eyebrows in surprise which Peter noticed. He looked up at the sky again, away from Wade, as he fiddled with his hands. "I couldn't stand to look at myself. Back at the shop. I didn't try on the clothes because... I can barely look down at myself when I'm wearing clothes without wanting to throw up or sob or some shit like that. You said it yourself, I look like a fucking corpse. "

"Yeah, but only because you're sick. You'll get better in time and judging by the looks of your dad, you'll be pretty hot, too. Tony Stark is a total DILF", Wade explained and to his delight Peter smirked at that.

"I feel like I really don't want to know what a DILF is."

"Nah, you don't. I wouldn't want to corrupt your innocent mind!", Wade chuckled slightly.

"If you say so...", Peter smirked, looking down at his hands, he had long slim fingers, elegant but also jarring when you looked at how thin his wrists were in comparison.

"I really don't mind, seeing your face, I mean. The mask kinda puts me on edge. Of course it's your choice if you want to keep it on. Just thought that you should know that. ", he then said, looking up at Wade again and for once the boxes were silent.

"Then I might take it off every once in a while.", he smiled slightly.

 

Chapter Text

Peter closed the door to the bathroom with shaky hands. Even though Wade told him last night that he wasn't his prisoner, that he wouldn't hurt Peter, and even though he slowly started to believe him, Peter couldn't quite get past his experiences.

So he stood in front of the door for a few seconds longer, waiting for Wade to knock against it, demanding that Peter left it open. 

It didn't happen. Peter's heart was still racing. The boy leaned his forehead against the cold surface of the door, trying to block out the sound of his pounding heart. With a frustrated sigh he pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes before turning around. Once he lowered them he finally saw himself in a mirror for the first time... maybe ever. 

It wasn't good. Actually it was worse than he thought. Peter knew how people were supposed to look like, he didn't look like a person, he looked like a skeleton.

Meager, haggard. His pale skin was as white and thin as paper and had an almost green tinge under the lights of the bathroom. His face was made of sharp edges and dark shadows, hollow eyes that stared back at him. He still had a little blood on his chin from where he bit his lips open. A skaky breath escaped his lips that sounded more like a whimper when he pressed his eyes shut.

With trembling fingers he went to remove the scrubs he was still wearing. He needed to change into the clothes Wade bought him. He dropped the shirt on the ground and took off his pants too with his eyes still closed. Only once he stood up straight again, he opened them. 

Peter didn't quite react right away, maybe he was in shock. His eyes traced his reflection slowly. The protruding ribs, the sharp shoulders and collarbones, the almost translucent skin that stretched across them. There was something wrong with it, though. Aside from how obviously disgusting it was. Even though his chest and stomach were practically hollow, they were still, somehow, covered with a thin layer of wiry muscle.

It took a few seconds to set in, but his own reflection was making him sick. At the same time he couldn't look away. He just stared at his reflection, not recognizing whoever was staring back at him.

Then he fell to his knees, he barely felt the pain of his bones hitting the floor. He scrambled over to the toilet, already hurling, unable to stop it. Before he knew it the last bit of food he ate the previous day shot out of him until he was completely empty, dry heaving.  His face was wet with tears and he was still trembling uncontrollably, curled up next to the toilet, when Wade opened the door.

"Peter, are you oka-", his eyes fell on Peter's cowering form. It didn't matter that Wade had been nothing but nice to him, or that just a few hours ago he had revealed his own insecurities about his appearance to Peter.

Maybe the fact that he was so decent made it actually worse. Peter was used to people that didn't care, humiliation didn't faze him as much anymore. HYDRA had stripped everything else from him so it wasn't exactly a big loss and he knew that there was no point in fighting it. That didn't mean that he wanted anyone else to see him like this, it didn't mean that he could stand to have Wade see him like this. 

"Don't look at me-", he rasped out before an awful sob escaped him, wet and ugly. God, he wanted to dissolve on the spot. "Don't-please- Get out- please?!", he hated himself. Couldn't stand his own begging, couldn't even try to look at Wade's face. He didn't want his horror or disgust, couldn't even handle his own. 

Wade left. Thank God. He closed the door behind him and Peter started to sob more freely now. He did that for a while,  he didn't keep track of the time. Peter curled up on the floor and cried his heart out until his voice was completely hoarse. Only then he managed to pick himself up.

The young man avoided looking at the mirror again, instead his eyes fell on the shower. Memories of ice cold water and electricity running through his veins popped up on his head and he shuddered. Not now. Not after this. 

Instead he took the clothes Wade picked out for him. Now he wished that he had really looked at the clothes before agreeing to wear them.

The blue jeans were fine, pretty loose and only held up with a beld on Peter's narrow hips, they were cuffed at the bottom. The secondhand sneakers were okay too, comfortable, Peter wasn't sure if he ever wore shoes before.

His issue was the shirt, it was a button up with short sleeves and it was almost oversized on him. The silky material had a sort of headache inducing pattern. Red background, yellow flowers an green leaves.

Only once he was fully clothed Peter dared to look in the mirror again. Not much better but at least he wasn't naked anymore, at least he had real clothes.

With a handful of warm water (he couldn't hanldle anything else) he washed his face, washed away the blood and vomit and sweat. In a weak attempt to salvage something he tried to brush the mess that he called his hair into some shape before quickly giving up. "You're just sick. You'll get better.", he repeated what Wade told him the other night. It felt hollow.

With that he turned around and stepped outside the bathroom again. 

~

"So what's the plan today?", Peter asked after they took to the road again. He'd been quite silent after he returned from the bathroom. Wade was worried, obviously.

Peter was unraveling in front of him, more and more ever since they met and Wade couldn't help but to feel like he was the completely wrong person to handle any of that. With his own truckload of issues how was he supposed to help Peter? He should just bring him to his father as quickly as possible and never think of him again.

(Yeah get rid of the little bitch baby)

[If he even survives that long ]

"Get you some food that you can actually keep down, sorry, no waffles anytime soon.", Wade replied and Peter smirked. Good. Peter seemed to have humor which was great news, it's usually the first thing you loose, unless you're mental of course, like Wade.

He also noticed that Peter, while obviously messed up, still had a sense of wonder for the world. Maybe it was only temporary, Wade hoped not, but even right now as they were talking Peter didn't stop looking out the window, taking in everything around them.

After years in dark labs he wasn't used to the sunlight so Wade bought him sunglasses. Now he almost looked like one of these tumblr boys, with his messy hair and clothes, of course if it wasn't for the constant reminder that he was on the brink of starvation.

"After that we're continuing our journey to your father. The old guy lives in New York right now and I need to attend some buisness in that corner of the world anyways so that's convenient." Peter didn't say anything to that for a while. His fingers tapping against the window and Matt Maeson's voice coming from the radio were the only sounds between them. 

"My teeth are rottin' away
I’ve leathered all my skin
And my blood is gettin' thin
And my whole fuckin' character’s changed
I don't know who I used to be
But it certainly isn't me"

"Tell me about my father. ", Peter then said. "Do you know him?" Peter didn't look at him, still watching the scenery they drove by instead. 

"Nah, not personally. Met a few of his teammates, though.", Wade replied. 

"Teammates?", Peter asked with raised eyebrows, actually looking at Wade now. It was strange that Peter really didn't seem to mind that Wade wasn't wearing his mask. Maybe it had something to do with his own distaste for his appearance. Wade didn't quite believe him when Peter talked about how he didn't want to look at himself. After what he saw at the bathroom this morning that doubt was gone. 

(He's probably just being polite)

[Probably threw up because he thought of your face]

"Yeah, the Avengers. Your dad is a superhero, saved the world a couple of times, of course we won't mention casualties or property damage, that's not for this fic.", Wade replied, ignoring the boxes. 

"A hero...",Peter repeated slowly before cocking his head to one side and looking at Wade. "Like you?"

Wade almost laughed with his boxes at that. "Fuck no, Spidey. I'm no hero, especially not one like your daddy.", he smirked and Peter actually frowned but he still dropped the topic. 

"If you say so..."

Wade then took out one of his burner phones and tossed it into Peter's lap. Thank God he had multiple ones. Peter only crushed his main one. "You can Google your dad if you want. Don't want you meeting him completely unprepared."

Peter picked it up obediently and a few minutes later the boy was busy reading some article. Wade kept eyeing him every once in a while. 

He refused to address whatever happened this morning once he left the bathroom, not a surprise but still. Wade was concerned. 

(Oh look at you, pretending to be a person. How adorable!)

[Yeah, that's right! Get attached to him. That'll be fun once he leaves you for the Avengers and the life he was born for.]

(Then you'll be all alone again! With us! Yeay!)

"Piss off...", Wade hissed and it was enough to pull Peter out of his reading. The boy frowned at him, his lips pressed into a thin line. 

"Sorry, didn't mean you.", Wade sighed and he knew that Peter would ask. 

"Who are you talking to then, if you don't mind me asking?", he didn't sound accusatory or afraid, that helped. 

(Go on, tell him you're nuts)

"I hear voices. Two of them. I call them yellow and white. I try to ignore them but sometimes-", he just shrugged, keeping his eyes trained on the road. Peter didn't say anything but Wade could feel his eyes on him. 

"Are you weirded out by that?", Wade then asked, aching for a reaction. He looked over at Peter and Peter stared right back before shrugging. 

"No? I mean, I don't think it's normal. But then again, what do I know, right?", he asked before turning his attention back to the road as if he was done with the topic. It couldn't be that easy. 

"Wait, you don't mind?", Wade asked genuinely confused. Peter didn't look at him when he replied, his eyes looking out the window, one hand pressed against it. 

"Why would I? I mean, from what I heard they aren't the nicest voices to have around so I'm sorry 'bout that. But that doesn't really change how I think about you, you know?", he then replied before glancing over at Wade and he actually seemed genuine. 

Wade was in awe, truly. How dare he? How dare he be a good person? There were so few of them and they never got what they deserved. Wade thought of Vanessa, bleeding out in his arms. She never cared either, always took all the shit Wade threw at her and dealt with it. Too damn good. 

Peter had gone through hell already, grew up in it, how the fuck was he still a good person? 

Wade didn't get time to contemplate that thought much further though because in that moment he heard shots. They had no time to react when something hit one of their tires and suddenly they were flying off the road.

 

Chapter Text

Peter's first though was that HYDRA found him, the second was that he really shouldn't focus on who shot at their car but the fact that they were currently hurling through the air.

His instincts set in and without even thinking about it he opened the door of the still moving vehicle and launched himself out of it. He landed a few feet away from the highway, on his feet, his whole body trembling but uninjured.

That's when his brain started to work again and he took in the situation. They were on the edge of a forest, the car was fucked, flipped on it's back, Wade was fine though, he climbed out of the wreckage like it was no problem and pulled on his mask again, running towards Peter. 

"Okay, I'm like 97.8 % sure that that was HYDRA and in a few seconds they'll be here and I need you to stay behind me and -", Peter didn't hear the rest of that sentence because in that moment all hell broke loose.

Three jeeps, all black, drove off the highway to the side of the road they landed and then the only thing Peter could hear was gunfire. It was deafening, especially for someone like Peter. It felt like his head was exploding.

Out the corner of his eyes he saw Wade reach for his weapons, move in front of Peter like a shield but he couldn't  quite comprehend it. Then he heard his voice. "Run, hide, don't come out until I call you."

For the second time this day his body moved without a command, he turned around but instead of running he threw out his arms and there it was, the web fluid shooting out of the little holes in his wrists into the trees of the forest in front of him.

He held onto the white sticky strings and launched himself into the air, soon enough he was swinging from tree to tree and he could still hear the gunfire, it was splitting his head open, but his body knew what it was doing.

After a while he held on to one of the trees, crawled up as high as possible, he could feel the rough texture of the bark underneath his fingers.

His heart was racing in his chest, like a bird flapping in his cage uncontrollably. He couldn't see the agents anymore, or Wade, but he could still hear them, the gunshots, screams.

He heard a familiar voice yell for him:"Peter, don't make this harder than it has to be!" One of the agents, Peter's throat closed up.

They'd catch him and take him back. They'd punish him and he'd get strapped to the table again, or worse, the chair. He couldn't go back, he couldn't-he-

Peter lost time.

He wasn't sure how long his brain checked out but next time he was fully conscious it was silent. No fighting, no screams or gunfire. Somehow he felt worse.

Worry set in, what happened to Wade, did they kill him? Did they take him with them? Did they-

Before he knew what he was doing Peter was already making his way back. He found a bloodbath. At least a dozen dead HYDRA agents, wearing their typical black uniforms, either shot or decapitated, there was blood everywhere, cut off limbs, and in the centre of it, Wade.

At first Peter thought (or hoped) that he was just unconscious. Then he stepped closer and saw the countless bullet holes everywhere in his red and black suit. One was right in the centre of his forehead.

Peter searched for a heartbeat, a breath, something. When he didn't find it he broke down, fell to his knees beside Wade's body, not caring that his pants got stained with blood.

His trembling hands hovered over Wade's chest for a second. "No, no, no...", Peter mumbled, his breath picked up and his vision got blurry.

He's dead. "Please don't be dead..." he's dead because of you. "No no no, please-" You're all alone again. "No- I-"

Peter lost time. Again. 

~

Wade 'woke up' at the doors to the Afterlife, he didn't really recognize the place as much as the feeling. The afterlife looked different each time, Wade always looked and felt the same. 

No pain, no boxes, everything felt light, untethered. He checked his hands. No scars, yup, afterlife. Right now it looked like the entrance to a theme park, in the distance he could see a rollercoaster. Wade had no idea why it looked that way, it always seemed quite random. 

The only thing he could rely on was her. Death, waiting at the entrance, never letting him in. Since Vanessa died Lady Death always took her appearance when Wade visited but not today. It was a full on cloak and skeleton appearance day. Weird

"Wade. Haven't seen you here in a while.", Lady Death greeted him, her voice was deep and intense but also soothing and warm. Hypnotizing in a way. 

"Haven't bit the dust in a while, D.", Wade smirked before looking around a bit. "I like what you've done with the place. You gonna let me ride that rollercoaster or am I not tall enough?", he asked pointing towards the themepark. 

Death smiled, or at least Wade thought so, it was kinda hard to tell when she had no skin. "You know I can't let you in."

"Yeah, I'm just goofin' you. I know the rules.", Wade sighed. "I have to leave anyways, got some business to attend to.", he then added. Peter, he was in danger. Wade took out  the imminent threats but the boy wasn't safe on his own. 

"Yeah, I saw your business. He's cute.", Death smirked and Wade raised an eyebrow. 

"You watching me?", he asked, not necessarily insulted. "The crazy girlfriend doesn't suit you."

Death chuckled and it sounded like bones rattling together. "Don't flatter yourself. I watch everyone. Especially the ones that knock on my door as frequently as he does. Of course you'd have to fall for someone that dances on the boarder of life and death all the time."

"I'm not falling for anyone. Just protecting him.", Wade quickly shot back. He didn't think of Peter that way, didn't plan on getting attached. 

"Right now maybe but your heart is very predictable. I know you Wade Wilson. You're a creature of darkness, you always reach towards the light. It's in your nature. That's why you and I wouldn't work out.", Death pointed out and her words twisted something in Wade's mind. They were uncomfortable to think of, he pushed them away. 

"No, we wouldn't work out because you never let me past your doorstep.", he joked and now Death looked annoyed. 

"As if you'd go to me if I let you inside.", she snapped and they both knew that she was right. They both thought of Vanessa. Wade didn't say anything to that and after a while Death just sighed. 

"Well, I can't wait to meet the new subject of your interest.", she then said, an amused tone in her voice that Wade didn't like at all.

"Yeah, take your time, will you?", he didn't mean for it to come out so bitter and Death noticed it as well. 

She got up from her throne and floated over to Wade stopping when they were only a few inches apart. Even though she didn't really have eyes and he was only staring into dark holes it was still unnerving. 

"Enjoy your time with him.", she then said softly. "But don't forget. He has an expiration date. And it might be sooner than you think."

Wade hated that. Hated that it sounded like a threat, like a promise. "Doesn't everybody?", he asked, a bitter smile tugging at his lips. 

"Everybody but you.", Death agreed before stepping closer and pulling him into a kiss and when his lips met hers they weren't bone. They were soft and warm and human, they reminded him of Vanessa, of home. And then they were gone. Just like her. 

~

He woke up with a metallic taste in his mouth, probably blood, and the chatter of his boxes in his mind, what's new?

He took a deep breath before sitting up and opening his eyes. They fell on Peter immediately. 

The boy was kneeling right next to him in a pool of blood. Wade wasn't sure if it was his own or that of the agents. It didn't matter though because the truly concerning part was Peter's state of mind. 

He didn't react to Wade's resurrection, in fact it didn't even seem like he noticed it. His big bloodshot eyes were staring at nothing, looking far far away and his hands were shaking slightly but mostly he just looked empty. Fuck

Deadpool had a feeling that Peter wasn't quite there. That he was dissociating. He automatically reached for him and asked:"Peter, are you there?"

His hand barely touch the boy's shoulder and he flinched violently but at least his gaze cleared up. His eyes were frantic now, as they stared around before landing on Wade and widening extremely. He looked horrified. Wade realized too late why. 

"Oh God, oh God, I'm losing my mind...", Peter whispered, his breathing picked up. Great, he was having a panic attack. "You are dead, you have a bullet in your head, you-", he stilled, his bottom lip trembled slightly. "Am I dead?"

"Wow, wow, wow. I'll stop you right there baby boy, before you get even more stressed. Neither of us is dead and you ain't losing your mind. Not more than you did already, anyways.", Wade quickly jumped in but Peter only scrambled away from him, not caring the he spread more and more blood on his clothes and hands. 

"You were dead! You had a bullet in your brain!", Peter exclaimed, almost hysterically. 

"And then I healed! It's part of my mutation, you see! I can't die! Or I can but I always come back.", Wade insisted and Peter slowly, very slowly, started to calm down. 

Peter needed a few minutes and about a dozen reassurances that Wade wasn't a hallucination but eventually he calmed down and let Wade help him on his feet. 

The boy looked around the massacre like he was only noticing it now and Wade feared that he'd throw up again but surprisingly he only looked thoughtful, like he was trying to figure something out. 

"I have a tracker on me.", he then said, looking up at Wade. "It's the only way I can think of explaining how they found us."

Wade was surprised, he didn't have time to think that far yet but it did make sense. "Well, if is somewhere inside you we can't really do anything about it right now. Your dad will have to take care of that once we get there."

"And until then?", Peter asked and there was something in his tone and in the way he worked his jaw, he seemed defiant, almost challenging. Or like he was preparing himself for something. 

"Until then I'll just have to play the human shield. Hey, maybe if I do a good enough job Captain Americawil  carry me on his arm instead of his vibranium shield.", Wade smirked and the tension left Peter's face. 

"So you're not leaving me?", he asked and his voice sounded so heartbreakingly hopeful. 

"Sorry to break it to you but you're stuck with me.", Wade smiled before something unpleasant reminded him of the truth. "Until I get you to your dad.", he added before turning to the three jeeps. 

"Now get in the car, we need to get away from here.", he announced before walking over to his own smashed pick-up to get his belongings out of it. 

"You still intend to drive in this?", Peter asked with a raised eyebrow. 

"Nah, we're taking the HYDRA mobile.", Wade said after he pulled his bag out of the wreckage. "It's our best bet and even if it's tracked, so are you, so it doesn't really make a difference. They will find us anyways.", he explained before opening the door to one of the jeeps. 

"How reassuring.", Peter remarked sarcastically but he also walked over to the door of the passenger seat. 

"Reassuring is my middle name, baby boy.", Wade grinned before getting into the car.

Chapter Text

"Can I ask you a question?", Wade asked at some point. They've been driving for a few hours now. The only stop they made was to buy food. Rusk, bananas, chicken soup, stuff that Peter's stomach could actually take. He noticed the difference within hours, felt himself getting stronger, felt how his healing factor got powered up. 

His gut automatically cramped at Wade's request but he didn't admit that. "Can I refuse to answer if I don't want to?", he asked carefully, instead. 

"Yeah, of course.", Wade shrugged, relieving some of the tension in Peter's shoulders. 

"Ask away, then"

"Back at the forest, when you took off you were swinging through the air on white strings, where did they come from.", Wade then asked and Peter relaxed even more. His powers were the least of his concerns. 

"Oh, you mean these?", he asked and shot a small amount of his webs against the console of the car with a flick of his wrist. 

Wade raised his eyebrows in surprise. "That's coming outta your body? Are you that excited to see me?"

Peter needed a second to get the joke but when he did he started to chuckle. "No! Is not like that,  it's- Its like the webs of a spider, just stronger.", he explained.

"I'm just goofin' ya.", Wade laughed softly. He had a pleasant laugh, deep, warm. It felt like a soft blanket for Peter's nerves. If that was how it felt to be calm he could get used to it.

Then again, he told himself, this was only temporary. Wade was only the delivery man and once Peter was with his father again there was no promise that he'd get to feel like this again.

Getting used to something good is never a good idea. He learned that the hard way. Golden hair came to mind, blue eyes, a cheeky smile. Peter's chest grew tight with the memories of her. He pushed them away. He made the mistake of getting attached once already, never again. 

"How did you get your powers anyways? You a mutant?", Wade then asked, pulling Peter out of his thoughts. Great, the topic became immediately less manageable. 

"Nah, HYDRA gave me my powers.", he replied, keeping it as simple as possible. He didn't want to remember the experiments, the table, the needles. 

Wade sighed but kept his eyes on the road. "Ahh, they experimented on you, huh? That sucks, trust me, I know. "

"You do?", Peter asked surprised, looking over at Wade. He didn't look as nonchalant as he did before, his shoulders looked tense, his jaw tight. Peter knew that feeling.

"I wasn't born like this, y' know?", Wade smirked but his smile didn't look quite as genuine as it did before. "But joining the program was better than the alternative.", he then added. 

"So you chose to let someone experiment on you?", Peter asked and he didn't mean for it to sound so accusatory but he was baffled. Why would he chose to be dissected and tortured, why would he let someone use him as a Guinea pig? For what? To get some powers. Peter couldn't comprehend it. He'd give up his powers in a second if that would undo the years of torture and subsequent damage he endured.

"I know how that sounds but I had my reasons.", Wade stated, his voice clipped. Peter's confusion and resentment quickly melted away, making room for anxiety. He had crossed a line, he shouldn't have said that, he should just keep his mouth shut and hope that Wade wasn't too mad. 

"If you say so...", he mumbled before looking out of the window. That should've been the end of the topic but Peter's thoughts were wandering. Sure, he was anxious, but he would be lying if he said that he wasn't curious, too. 

"Did they train you to be a killer? The people who did this to you?", the words slipped out before he could stop them and he didn't even dare to look at Wade, scared of his reaction. 

"Nah, I used to be with special forces back in the day.", Wade replied and suddenly all the previous tension was gone. This topic was okay,  apparently. Peter tried to keep that in mind. 

"Aren't you a bit young for that?", Peter asked. He didn't know how old Wade was but he seemed younger than 30. Maybe he was in his early 20s. 

Wade chuckled at that. "Yeah, but Janna can't be bothered with realism so consider me a young prodigy. I'm the Mozart of killing people."

That reply didn't clear anything up for Peter but he also felt like he wouldn't get a satisfying explanation, even if he asked so he dropped it. 

"What about you, did HYDRA try to make you their next pet assassin? I mean, why give you all these powers if they can't use it?", Wade then asked and it was a valid question. It still made Peter's throat close up in panic. 

"Can I not talk about this?", he asked, his voice trembling slightly.

Wade gave him a worried look but dropped the topic. "Yeah, sure."

With that they fell back into silence. It seemed to be a bit of a routine with them. They find a topic, talk about it until it gets to a point where Peter feels his own issues crashing down on him, then they become quiet. It was stressful, and exhausting but Peter didn't know what else to do, he didn't know how to be normal. How to have small talk and be okay. 

"Can you put on some music?", Peter asked and he hated how distressed he sounded. 

"There are CDs in my backpack. You can pick one.", Wade said and since Peter didn't know any musicians anyways he just chose the first CD he got between his fingers and put it in. 

It was a male voice, deep, rough, kinda like Wade's. The music was dark and melancholic with heavy lyrics. 

"I am the man we both couldn't stand

I can't wash off the dirt from my hands

What was it like to feel in love?

What was it like to feel in love?

I can't scrub off the black from my lungs

I can't wipe off the taste from my tongue

What was it like to feel in love?

What was it like to feel in love?

I will never go backwards

I will never be free

I will never run faster

Will you sink down to me?

I will never go backwards

I will never be seen

In the wake of disaster, will you sink down at me? "

If that didn't amplify Peter's existential dread he didn't know what would've. With an annoyed huff he turned the music off again, surrendering the two of them to silence once more.

~

They decided to not get another motel room and stay on the road instead, driving through the night. It was safer that way, Wade knew that HYDRA could catch up to them any second and even if he was convinced that he could protect Peter, he'd rather not risk his life unnecessarily.

Peter fell asleep a few hours after sun set. Wade was honestly surprised that he managed to that. He'd been so incredibly tense all day that any form of relaxation seemed unlikely.

Then again, maybe all that tension had completely exhausted him. Now he was sleeping, his head resting against the window, snorring quietly. Wade had never seen him look so peaceful. 

Still, Wade couldn't stop his own mind from racing. He never had much control over that anyways. 

The current topic of discussion between him and his boxes was what Death said earlier. 

"But don't forget. He has an expiration date. And it might be sooner than you think." 

Wade had tried to understand the intricacies of death for a while now, ever since he discovered his own immortality.

It wasn't a surprise to him either. He always wanted what he couldn't have. He was dying of cancer and wanted to live. Then he became immortal and now he craved death. Ironic. 

He never quite figured it out though. Why could certain deaths be prevented and others couldn't? Why couldn't Lady Death bring someone back from the dead? Why couldn't he die? Those were all questions that he had asked her. He always got the same reply. 

"That's just how it is." 

He couldn't think of something less satisfying. 

Death's words sounded like a threat. Or a warning. Which one it was wasn't really important, they were equally concerning. Sure, it was possible that she was just fucking with him. For all he knew she could be jealous.

It was true, Wade hadn't visited her in a while. He figured that constantly killing himself to meet someone pretending to be his dead girlfriend wasn't the healthiest of coping mechanisms. Maybe that pissed her off. 

Wade tried to tell himself that that was the reason, that Peter would be fine. His doubts still remained. They took the form of his boxes. 

(Kid's a goner, accept it)

[Or you could fasten up the process]

"No... don't...", his voice was barely above a whisper but enough to alert Wade. He glanced over at Peter. His expression wasn't as peaceful anymore, eyebrows pulled together into a frown, his lips parted.  The boy was dreaming, by the looks of it, another nightmare. 

Wade pulled to the side of the road before trying to wake him, sensing another epic freakout. Instead, once he gently shook the boys shoulder he immediately woke up with a gasp. 

His eyes were wide and frantic  he was trying to catch a breath but as soon as he focused on Wade he calmed down. Wade would've never expected anyone to be calmed by looking at his face. Peter took another shuddering breath before bending forward, burrying his face in his hands.

"You okay?", Wade asked carefully. At first he thought that Peter started to sob but when he revealed his face again Wade saw that he was chuckling. His eyes were glistening and bloodshot and his laugh sounded a little hysterical. 

"No, I'm fucking losing it. But thanks for asking.", he laughed and that actually made Wade crack up as well. 

"Nothing like a little mental breakdown, am I right?",Wade smirked. 

"Or a big one!", Peter laughed but Wade noticed tears streaming down his face. Still he continued to laugh until it eventually died down and he only stared at Wade with the faintest shadow of a smile painted on his lips. 

"Can I ask you something?", Peter then asked, wiping away his tears. 

"Ask away, Petey-Pie!", Wade winked. He had no idea where this was going but if Peter wanted to talk, he'd listen.

"You have my file. Did you read it?", there was nothing accusatory in his tone, just curiosity.

"I skimmed over it, didn't read details, though. Your identity was far more interesting at the time.",Wade replied truthfully. 

Peter nodded slowly before reaching behind his seat, picking up Wade's backpack and searching through it. He pulled a pink unicorn plushie out and gave Wade a questioning look. "Do I even wanna know?", he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Don't kink-shame me!", Wade exclaimed, grabbing the toy and tucking it under his own arm. 

"I could never.", Peter chuckled before pulling out the file and flipping it open. His expression darkened automatically as he started to read through it. Wade was about to say that maybe reading that wasn't the best idea when Peter spoke up again. 

"I haven't always been like this, you know? They didn't always keep me in a cryo tube like a failed science experiment. You were right. For the longest time they tried to make me a weapon, trained and educated me. I can build a bomb from scratch, I speak 4 languages.", he didn't look up as he spoke, his eyes still scanning the pages at an insane speed. 

"Weird flex but okay.", Wade commented and the faintest smile tugged at the corners of Peter's lips.

"So you basically went to murder boarding school.", he then stated and Peter nodded. 

"Yeah, the whole package. Torture and brainwashing included. But I wasn't the only one. There was this friend of mine-"

"You have friends?! I can barely make friends and I didn't grow up in a lab!", Wade cut him off and Peter glanced over at him with a soft smile. 

"One friend. Singular. And it doesn't matter now, anyways. She's dead.", he clarified and Wade's grin faded. Shit.

Peter returned his attention to the file but still kept on talking. It might've been the most he'd ever said in one go.

"Don't get me wrong. These were awful times as well but...not as awful as the things that followed. They're some of the only remotely pleasant memories I have..."

Wade's instinct was to make a joke, to make light of the situation. But he couldn't. Somehow this felt too important. 

"How shitty that I don't remember most of it, am I right?", Peter then said, a bitter smile on his face. 

The boy turned another page and his smile faded once more. "I don't remember half the things that are written in here. I knew that they wiped me, didn't know how much they really took from me."

Peter closed the file and glanced over at Wade like he expected him to say something, anything,  remotely helpful. 

"Why are you telling me this?", Wade asked and Peter looked down at his lap where the file was laying.

"I don't know. Maybe I trust you, maybe you're just here, maybe because you're one of the only people that ever treated me like a person.", he lifted his head, locking eyes with Wade and Wade couldn't quite remember the last time someone stared at him this intensely. Must've been Vanessa. Everyone else always quickly looked away. 

"Thanks for that. ",Peter said, real gratitude in his eyes and it twisted Waves heart. Apparently it hadn't died with Vanessa after all.

"You shouldn't have to thank me for that. ", Wade said and Peter smiled slightly, only one corner of his lips lifting up. 

"If you say so."

 

 

Chapter Text

"... and that's when I figured that the 'blowjob' was poisoned. Worst blowjob ever, am I right? But you should've seen the guys face when I came back and turned hin into a popsicle with the help of my friends Arthur and Bea!", Wade had been talking for hours, telling Peter about all his missions and fights. There was no end in sight.

Peter was fine with that, though. He even requested it. Because, even though his stories were gruesome and violent, the way he got all excited about them was kinda nice and it distracted Peter.

Listening was better than talking. Wade's stories were better than Peter's thoughts. 

Peter eyed over to the mercenary. He completely stopped wearing his mask when they were alone in the car, only putting it on when other people might see. 

The first time he saw Wade's skin Peter understood why he wore a mask. Not because Peter was disgusted, it really wasn't all that bad, but because he understood that A) Not everyone was as unbothered as him, and B) how it felt to be repulsed by your own appearance.

Still, he liked looking at Wade. Even though his skin looked painful, (Peter wondered what it felt like, if it caused him physical discomfort), he had handsome features. A straight nose, a strong jaw and his eyes. Chocolate brown but right now, as the sun set and the last beams reflected perfectly, they looked like gold. 

"Take a picture, baby boy, it'll last longer.", Wade smirked, but there was a slight strain in his voice, like he was a little bit on edge. "Wait, no. I'm immortal. I'll probably last longer.", he then added.

"I'd rather have the real you anyways. ", Peter shrugged and Wade's head snapped around. 

"Aww, Spidey! That's so cute!", he exclaimed with a wide grin and Peter raised his eyebrows. 

"Is that nickname going to stick?", he asked seriously but then Wade chuckled slightly. 

"Was that a low key pun?", he asked and Peter smiled slightly before shrugging once more.

"Maybe."

"Love that!", Wade exclaimed and Peter couldn't hold back the smile any longer.

He let his eyes wander to the window again. The area was getting less and less rural, for the last few hours they've been driving through actual towns.

 It started to feel more real, that their journey would eventually end. Peter didn't like thinking about it. He hoped that they still had a little time lift. The feeling of dread couldn't be stopped, though. 

"Would you mind getting some more groceries? I mean, you burned through everything we bought like nobodies business.", Wade asked and Peter returned his attention to him.

"Am I hearing judgement in your tone? I'm sorry but I haven't had solid foods in... I don't know how long. Let me enjoy my goddamn bananas!", he exclaimed dramatically, faking his outrage.

"You don't enjoy them, you deepthroat them.", Wade snapped back, his tone sharp. Peter now understood that he was only joking so he laughed and made one himself. That's what normal people did, right?

"I thought we weren't supposed to kinkshame?"  

~

They stopped at the next grocery store, Wade pulled on his mask again and they made their way inside. 

It was already pretty late and aside from the cashier, that only gave Wade one strange look before returning her attention to her magazine, they were alone. 

Peter got an eerie feeling as they wandered through tge hallways. Maybe it were the LED lights or the soft music playing on the background but reality didn't quite feel real. Maybe he was just disassociating. 

He quickly grabbed three oranges and started to juggle with them to give himself something else to focus on.

"Look at Petey-Pie, a man of many talents! He can even juggle!", Wade smirked, pushing their shopping cart along.

"I'm sorry, I'm bored. I have no patience whatsoever.", Peter shrugged while still continuing to juggle. It wasn't a complete lie and it sounded better than 'Reality doesn't feel real and the best way to combat that feeling right now is to juggle.'

"We're on the run and you're bored?", Wade chuckled. They stopped next to the cereal isle, Wade picked out a box of Lucky charms.

"The is no imminent threat and I'm currently ignoring my anxiety's calls, so yes, I'm bored. ", Peter went on, already a bit closer to the truth. "You know why I wore a muzzle. Because I was so goddamn annoying.", he then added.

He stopped juggling immediately. Peter wasn't exactly sure why he told Wade that. It kinda just slipped out and he already prepared himself for the inevitable tension but Wade just laughed it off.

"Know that feeling. I annoyed my handlers so much he threatened to sow my mouth shut. I'm telling you from experience, that would've been awful for the franchise!", Wade laughed, deep and genuine. 

"We used to make Bucketlists, me and this other guy they were keeping in hearing distance, of stuff we wanted to do when we got out. Just to amuse ourselves.", he then added and even though Peter couldn't see his face, he knew that Wade wasn't quite present anymore, thinking back to that time.

"Got pretty depressing after a while, though. ", Wade finished before shaking his head slightly, maybe the voices were bothering him again.

"Gwen and I used to sing." God, maybe he should get his mouth down shut! Apparently he was unable to keep quiet by himself.

"Gwen?", Wade asked as they continued to make their way through the store.

"My friend.", Peter explained. He didn't mean to say more, he really didn't. But somehow, he didn't mind talking about Gwen all that much. Maybe because he was talking to Wade and he knew that the other man would understand him. Or maybe talking about her made her feel more real, like a person, not just a fever dream Peter came up with due to soul crushing loneliness.

  "During training, at night, after the experiments when we could still hear each other even though we were kept apart. We'd make up stupid songs to ridicule the situation. It made things easier, if only for a moment.", he said, a slight smile tugging at his lips. His chest tightened when he remembered her soft melodic voice, like a blanket for his disturbed mind.

"You gotta sing me one of these songs, baby boy.", Wade smirked but it wasn't quite as sharp as usually. Peter wished that he could see his face, get a better idea of what Wade was thinking. 

"Look at me, just some shmuck

Pump me with shit, ain't got no luck

Make me strong, I could lift a truck

But still I don't give a single fuck."

He then quietly sang the rhymes he came up with right after his transition.

His voice was crackly and faint, just like back then, from all the screaming. But it made Gwen laugh. He couldn't see her, she wasn't even in the same room, but both their enhanced hearing helped them to still be there for each other.

"Brava! I'm so touched! For a second I forgot that I have no heart!", Wade chuckled as he applauded Peter and Peter cracked a smile as well. 

"Oh thank you! I know, I'm a total poet!", he said before bowing a little. He then let out a little breathless laugh, stroking his hand through his hair.

"God that was shit. She was always way better than me.", he admitted.

A strange silence followed, like an intermission between two acts. The only sound was the music and the squeaky wheels of their shopping cart as Wade pushed it through the store. 

"What happened?", Wade suddenly asked and as good as it felt to talk about Gwen a few moment ago, Peter could talk about this, couldn't even think of it without his mind spiralling out of control. He wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to talk about it, but especially not now, in the toilet paper isle of some random shop.

Peter tried to smile but it came out pained when he replied:"Doesn't matter now."

~

They were on the road again and even though it was night, their surroundings only got brighter and brighter as they entered a city.

"If the traffic doesn't get too crazy, which it will, come on, it's Manhatten, then we'll probably be there in an hour. That means we'll actually be there in 2. ", Wade commented nonchalantly.

"Where?", Peter asked. He didn't quite think Wade's words through, he was too tired. Then again, sleep was nothing peaceful so he tried to avoid it.

"Your daddy's place.", Wade replied and Peter was wide awake again. 

"Wait, you mean we're almost there?!", he asked and he could feel his heart start to race in his chest. The bird in the cage, flapping uncontrollably.

"I- I can't- I-", he stuttered as his throat closed up. He wasn't sure where this sea of panic came from but he was drowning, it was going to swallow him whole. 

'"Hey, Peter, listen to me. Everything's going to be fine!", Peter could hear Wade's voice but it was like someone stuffed cotton balls in his ears or like he was under water. It was far away and the alarm bells in Peter's mind were so deafening that he couldn't focus on the words. 

"What if he doesn't believe us!? What if he takes one look at me and kicks us out?! And what if he doesn't,  I don't know this man, Wade! For all I know he handed me over to HYDRA! And even if he didn't,  what if he hates me! I wouldn't even blame him, I mean, I'm a mess, I wouldn't wanna be my father either-", the words came out like the shots of an automatic rifle and Peter had no idea where they were even coming from. They were just spilling out of him. 

"Peter I need you to calm down, you're spiraling.", Wade's voice was calm and Peter noticed that Wade had pulled over to the side of the road again. None of that helped him, though. 

"Damn right, I fucking am!", he exclaimed. His whole body was trembling violently and he felt like he'd completely come apart if this went on for just another second. Then he felt Wade's big hand on his shoulder and they locked eyes. 

Suddenly his voice was crystal clear, almost to sharp for Peter, to loud, it hurt his ears.

"Hey, listen. Listen! You'll be fine. I've never met Irondad personally but I was about 15 when you disappeared, I remembered how the whole shit went down. Your dad pretty much disappeared off the face of the earth with ya. For months he was just gone! I mean, I'm no parent but I love speaking on behalf of people so I'll say that I'm like 87 % that he was devastated. He'll be so happy to have you back, you're his golden boy, his special creation-"

"But I'm not! That's the issue! I'm  fucking broken and I barely know how to be a person, not to mention, his perfect son!" Too much, too much, too much. Peter said too much, felt too much, it was all too much!

"Your friend, Gwen, did you love her?" Peter was caught off guard by that. It was enough to bring his racing thoughts to a screeching halt.

"What-?"

"Answer the question!", Wade demanded and there was an edge to his voice that made Peter comply immediately.

"Uh- Yes, yes.", he stuttered. Where was this going?

Wade took a deep breath before setting his eyes on Peter again, like he was preparing himself for something. 

Then he spoke, his voice strong and determined."Imagine her coming back to you, but she isn't quite the same, she's been through some shit, some horrible shit, maybe she's really fucked up, maybe se doesn't even remember you. Would you care?"

Gwen is never coming back, because of me- Peter pushed that thought aside and tried to imagine Wade's scenario. He'd do almost anything to see Gwen again...

"No...", he whispered, his eyes still wide with fear.

"Exactly! So stop pulling this shit out of your ass! You'll be fine!",Wades napped and Peter forced his eyes shut, forced himself to breath slower, forced the quivering to stop.

"Am I overreacting?", he asked, his tone strained.

He didn't look at Wade, his eyes were still pressed shut. But he could hear him sigh before replying.

"It's not overreacting... I can see where you are coming from. But you'll be fine. Trust me.", Wade then replied, much gentler now.

Peter took a couple more breaths until he was sure that he wouldn't spiral again. Then he opened his eyes. He still didn't look at Wade though. And just because he was calm again didn't mean that his worries were gone.

"What if he doesn't want me?", he then whispered, glancing over at Wade. He regretted it as soon as he saw his expression. Pained and... exasperated? Annoyed? It wasn't pleasant.

"Peter-", Wade started to protest but Peter wouldn't let him finish.

"Hypothetically! I know I'm paranoid but I can hardly change that on the spot. Come on, humor me. ", he pleaded and he could see Wade consider his words until he finally caved in. 

"If he doesn't want you, which I can't imagine, I'll take you home with me, make you live with me and my blind roommate Al. She's I beast but I love her, don't tell her that, though.", Wade then replied, evenmaking a little joke but Peter really needed this, needed security.

Sure, Wade probably only offered it out of pity and probably wasn't serious but Peter tried to push that thought away.

"You feelin' better now?", Wade asked and Peter nodded shakily, not meeting Wade's eyes anymore. God, he was so needy.

"That's enough. ", Wade mumbled but he didn't start up the car again, maybe because he knew that Peter wasn't done yet, wasn't off the ledge completely.

"Will you leave me?", it came out so quietly that Peter barely heard it himself.

"What?", Wade asked and Peter couldn't tell if he was shocked by the question or genuinely didn't understand Peter.

"Will you just drop me off or will you-", he tried to explain but his voice broke off. "-could you- ", he tried again but the shame of it all was eating away at him, it tied around his throat and choked away every word he could've come up with, only leaving hot air. "Fuck!", he yelled out of frustration before burying his face in his hands.

"It's okay..." Wade's voice was so godawfully soft and sweet and Peter didn't deserve any of it.

"Can you- I mean, it's selfish, really. You already did so much for me and all I've done is be a huge liability,not to mention that I'm a walking HYDRA magnet, and you crashed your car because of me and-", the rambling was the opposite of silence but just as frustrating and he only stopped once he felt Wade's touch again, this time on the back of his neck. Normally Peter would've flinched away from it but with Wade he leaned into it. 

"Peter. It's okay." So goddamn soft. Like a blanket, like Gwen. Peter lowered his hands and finally looked at Wade. He had nothing but sympathy in his eyes, sincere sympathy and Peter couldn't take it.

"I won't leave until you're okay to stay by yourself, I promise. Okay?", Wade said and somehow Peter believed him.

"... Thank you."

 

 

Chapter Text

Steve Rogers wasn't annoyed, no, he was way past that. He was downright pissed when he got the call from the receptionist of Avengers Tower. 

It wasn't the first time that some random kid showed up and claimed to be Peter Stark, it happened so often that Tony probably lost count.

Still, every time it happened Steve could see how crushed Tony was when the test results came back negative. He knew that his boyfriend didn't dare hope to see his son ever again, it didn't make this easier, though. 

So Steve took over for him. The receptionist called him when they had another fake-Peter on their hands. Steve would take care of the tests and he'd take care of sending them away once the results came back negative. They always did. Tony didn't need to know,  didn't need to suffer more than he already did. 

Steve gladly accepted this job, but who had the audacity to show up at 11 PM? Still, he got off the couch, Tony was still working on new repulsors for his suit, and took the elevator downstairs. 

On the way there Steve asked FRIDAY if Bruce was still up. 

"Yes Mr Rogers, Mr Banner is currently working in his private lab.", FRIDAY'S gentle voice replied. 

"Tell him we have another Code 723. I want to get the test over as quickly as possible."

"Yes, Mr Rogers."

The lobby was empty and dark except for the desk of the receptionist where he could make out three people, one being Laura, the receptionist, and then two Male figures that were waiting in front of it. 

Only once he stepped closer he could make out how strange the pair looked. One was dressed in a superhero outfit, black and red, with white eyes and katanas strapped to his back and the other reminded Steve hauntingly of concentration camp victims, back from when he was still fighting nazis in the second world war.

Gaunt, sickly looking, dull eyes, almost cadaverous. It was a huge contrast to the fact the the man, or boy, was wearing a bright colored Hawaiian shirt.

"Are you the supposed Peter Stark?", he asked and to his shock the boy flinched so hard, he leapt into the air slightly. The other one, the masked fella, quickly placed a hand on the boys back and he relaxed ever so slightly. 

"Yes...I suppose...", the boy mumbled, his voice sounded hoarse and he gave Steve a weary expression before quickly lowering his eyes. 

That was unusual. Normally the Fake-Peter's were super confident in their heritage. Steve never understood what they were thinking. That they wouldn't make a DNA test? That they'd just believe them? Were these people all delusional?

This slight difference in presentation wasn't enough to make Steve believe that it could be true, though. That didn't mean that this wasn't suspicious.

The boy, whoever he was, looked awfully neglected, he looked like he was starving and like he was about as stable as a house of cards. His companion seemed fine, and quite chipper. Steve didn't trust him. 

"Here he is! The one and only Peter Stark. You can thank me later for finding him, right now what he could really use is a sandwich and a bed!", the other stranger announced and Steve focused on him instead. 

"And who are you?", he asked, a little harsher than intended and the fake Peter flinched once more. Jesus...

"Deadpool, to your service!", the stranger replied and Steve figured that he wouldn't get his real name. Still, the name sounded familiar, maybe he was a minor superhero, that would explain the costume. 

"Okay, Deadpool. You aren't getting anything until we made a DNA test, its standard procedure, so if you'd  follow me to the lab...", the Fake-Peter went completely rigid, his too-big brown eyes shooting towards Deadpool with panic. 

Deadpool noticed it right away and pulled the boy closer to him before whispering something into his ear. Fake-Peter didn't seem to calm down one bit but he still nodded shakily before looking over at Steve. 

"Can we make it quick?", he asked, his tone so exhausted and resigned that Steve felt like he was doing something horrible to him, even though he didn't know why. 

"That's in all our best interest.", he agreed.

~

Steve was pretty damn sure that Fake-Peter was about five seconds away from either completely freaking or passing out. 

Ever since they got to Bruce' lab the boy was trembling uncontrollably and when Bruce took his samples his breathing got so quick that Bruce asked if he should stop. But Peter just shook his head frantically, his eyes clenched shut, and told him to get it over with. 

Now he was sitting on a examination table, slumped against Deadpool, still shaking, still gasping for air, his bony arms wrapped around his skinny torso like he was trying to hold himself together. 

"Steve, what is going on?", Bruce whispered, his tone alarmed, they were waiting for the results.

"I don't know, he was like this when he got here, there is definitely something wrong with him.", Steve replied, worry coiling in his stomach. He didn't know the kid and there was no chance that he was really Peter, but he clearly needed help. 

"You think his friend's got something to do with it?", Bruce asked, eyeing Deadpool. 

Steve glanced over as well, Deadpool was currently rubbing Fake-Peter's back, quietly speaking to him. He didn't seem malicious, he actually seemed to be the only thing that kept the boy from falling apart completely. That didn't have to mean anything though, he could still be responsible for the boy's state. Steve had heard of gaslighting and Stockholm-Syndrom before, they couldn't just trust this guy right away. 

"I really don't know, I'll figure it out, though. ", he replied focusing on the boy again. Only then he noticed that Fake-Peter was glaring at him. His huge dark eyes had something unsettling, even disturbing. 

For a second Steve couldn't pinpoint who the boy reminded him of, then it hit him. Fake-Peter reminded him of Bucky, when he first saw him again as the Winter Soldier. Something dark and animalistic resided in those eyes but there was also panic, horror, confusion. The thought send shivers down Steve's spine. 

Finally the boy closed his eyes. That wasn't it, though, his whole body went slack and he almost fell over if it wasn't for Deadpool who caught him.

"Fuck, Peter... you're with me?", the stranger cursed, holding the boy up by his shoulders.

"What's happening? Is he okay?", Steve asked, stepping closer. Then he heard the quiet snoring.

"I think he's just asleep... he doesn't sleep a lot.", Deadpool replied, carefully lifting the boy up and then laying him on his back onto the stretcher. The stranger sounded genuinely worried and Steve didn't know what to believe anymore. 

"It'd be real neat if he didn't wake up in a lab when he's done sleeping. I don't know if you noticed but the medical setting is a bit of a stress factor.", he then added. 

"We'll wait for the results, they should be ready in a few minutes, we'll think of something to do after that.", Steve said and he ment it. The fact that this wasn't Peter Stark didn't mean that he didn't deserve care.

Sure enough, ten minutes later, the results were in , the testing process got pretty quick over the years to waste as little time as possible.

Steve didn't consider for a second that this boy could really be Peter Stark. That's why, when Bruce announced that the results came back positive, Steve didn't register the words for a long time. It just didn't make sense, none of it.

Steve never met Peter Stark, the boy disappeared before Steve was found in the arctic. He saw pictures, though, heard stories, of the good times. A face showed up before his mental eye, little Peter, 9 years old, messy dark curls and equally dark eyes, still a little chubby, soft in a way only kids are.

On first glance there was no way that that boy was laying in front of him. But the more he looked at his sleeping face the more he found similarities. The nose, the same bushy eyebrows, a sharp jaw like Tony's. 

"Oh, are you surprised? I mean I could've shown you the file that proves that he is Irondad's son but, you know, the reveal is more dramatic this way. It's better for the plot." Steve barely heard Deadpool speak. His mind was racing. Peter Stark. This was Peter Stark. Tony's son. Alive. 

"Steve, we have to tell Tony...", Bruce' voice got Steve back to the present. Right. Tony didn't know yet. They had to tell him. But what was Steve even supposed to say. Here's your long lost son, I don't know where he was all these years but he's an absolute wreck. Congratulations! 

"Where- What happened to him?!", Steve stammered, looking up at Deadpool. The stranger reached into his backpack and pulled out a file that he pressed into Steve's hands. Bile rose up on his throat when he saw the HYDRA logo printed on top. 

"Found him in a HYDRA base by accident. I was just there for the fun of killing Nazis, you know.", Deadpool shrugged. "Everything about his time there is in this. Though I'm not sure if he'd appreciate you reading this."

Once again Steve thought of Bucky. Of how ashamed he was after Steve figured out the extent of abuse he went through at the hands of HYDRA. For a while he wouldn't even look Steve in the eyes.

With that in mind he put down the file without opening it. This was a decision Tony had to make. For now Steve only had tell him. God... how was he supposed to tell him when he himself barely comprehended it. 

With a heavy sigh he stroked his hands through his hair. "Okay... you two stay with him. I'll... I'll talk to Tony."

With that he turned around and left the lab, he made it to the elevator before he finally covered his face with his hands, his heart racing.

This was a good thing. Steve tried to tell himself that. Peter was alive. This was good. But Steve also knew what HYDRA did to people. He could imagine what they'd find in that file. And the thought that Peter grew up like this and that there was no way for them to tell how much damage they did yet...it was all heartbreaking.

When the elevator finally arrived at the floor where Tony's workshop was, Steve still didn't know how to tell him the truth he only knew that they had to do it. 

He made his way into the room and found Tony hunched over one of his boots. 

"Tony?", Steve tried to hide the quiver in his voice.

"Just five more minutes, love. I'm almost done here...", Tony automatically returned like this was just another night and Steve called him to bed.

"Tony...?", Steve repeated and this time his voice broke. It was enough to alert Tony. The other man quickly looked around, worried eyes meeting Steve's. Peter really did look like him, now that Steve didn't try to deny it anymore.

"It's something wrong?"

"It's-It's Peter. He's downstairs.", Steve said, trying to get it out as quickly as possible. Like ripping off a bandaid. He could watch the horror and disbelief creep into Tony's eyes. 

"This isn't funny.", his voice was cold like steel and as sharp as a knife.

"I know. It's not a joke. We did the test. It's him. It's him. He's alive.", Steve was breathless, his mouth felt like cotton. He couldn't imagine what went down in Tony's mind. Slowly, the realization sunk in, soon his eyes started to glisten, his lips started to tremble. 

"I- I need to see him, can I- can I see him?", Tony stammered, stumbling towards Steve, eyeing the door like Peter would enter the room any second. There was a spark in his eyes that Steve had never seen before. Something like hope. It broke Steve's heart that he had to tell Tony the truth first.

"Yes, of course. But there's one thing you should know before we go down there."

Chapter Text

He looked so fragile, curled up in his bed, his unkempt hair hanging into his face, the dim light casting dark shadows underneath his eyes.

It was really him. Peter. He was alive. Tony didn't dare to believe Steve's words until he saw the boy himself. He still didn't quite believe it. It hadn't sunken in yet.

But as he sat in the spare bedroom that they quickly prepared for Peter and watched him sleep, watched his chest rise and fall steadily, it slowly started to become real. His son, his baby, was alive. Back in his arms.

At least he hoped that it would go that way. There was no way to tell how Peter would react. The boy was knocked out cold for hours now, outside the rising sun started to paint the sky in shades of rose and orange.

Tony couldn't yet confront everything that he was feeling at that moment. Hope, relief, decade old grief, joy, heartbreak, rage, despair, confusion, love. All of it was filling up his mind until his head felt like it was about to burst.

Add that to the wave of guilt, the knowledge that his son had been alive this whole time, going through hell, and there was never even a real search for him, Tony felt like he was being crushed under an avalanche of pain.

His eyes wandered over to the HYDRA file that was placed on a desk next to him. Steve told him that HYDRA had Peter all along. The man that found him, Deadpool, said the same. But he refused to give them more details.

"You can have the file but that's it and if you wanna read it, I'm not stopping you. I just doubt that he'd like that. Maybe let him make the choice, he rarely got to do that. "

Tony didn't know what to think of this Deadpool guy. On the one hand he had the feeling that he wasn't taking this seriously enough. His mood was too upbeat, he cracked jokes and stuff.

On the other hand he rescued Tony's son,  brought him home,  and genuinely seemed to care about him.

When Tony said that they'd take it from here, he refused to leave. At first Tony thought he'd want a reward, money or such. But no.

"Wait a minute, Mr Tinman. I made a promise to Peter, that I wouldn't leave until he was ready and passing out doesn't scream 'I'm fine, please leave me with a bunch of people I don't know.'", Deadpool announced and Tony felt sudden rage boil up inside his gut.

"I'm not some stranger, I'm his father!", he snapped.

"Yeah, but he hasn't seen you in ten years, he doesn't even remember you.", Deadpool returned and Tony's chest grew tight. " I'm sure that you're great but he doesn't know that yet so I'm staying right here until he feels safe enough for me to leave. And you can try to kick me out, fight me all you want but I promise you, I'll get back up every time and I'll stand my ground. Got it?!"

So Deadpool stayed. The only thing Tony was sure of was that he was insane, which didn't have to be a bad thing.

At least he was considerate enough to leave Tony alone in the room with Peter. Last time he checked, Deadpool was standing in the hallway, talking to FRIDAY.

The only other thing he was willing to tell them was that there was probably a tracker on Peter. The boys sleep turned out to be a blessing because this seemed to be a more pressing matter than talking to him.

It didn't take long to locate it, it was placed inside a tooth at the back of his mouth. Tony didn't want to think about how they got it in there. Getting it out while he was asleep wasn't an option either but Tony managed to disable it.

Tony had also listened to Deadpool, hadn't read the file. It was tempting in a way but at the same time Tony wasn't sure if he could handle reading whatever was written in that thing. He tried to tell himself that he was only waiting because he wanted Peter's consent. The truth was, he was scared. Terrified that reading it would make it real. He was a coward.

Beside him Peter stirred a little, let out a low pitched whine, drew his eyebrows together and suddenly his eyes opened. They were distant and unfocused for a few seconds before they landed on Tony.

Tony wasn't sure if he would've recognized his son if he met him on the street. Not only because of the age difference and not only because he was basically just skin and bones.

The eyes really struck him. In the dark room they were like two black holes, huge, threatening, sucking in all of the light. He had a glare like a wolf, like something feral but it also seemed haunted, wounded, hurt but trying to conceal it.

The boy tensed, sitting up clearly caused him an effort but his voice, barely above a whisper, was steady when he spoke. "Is this real? I mean, am I really here?"

For a second Tony thought he couldn't speak, his throat closed up and that was it. He pushed through it though. "Yes, this is real. You're home."

The boy stared at him for a long time, his face expressionless, eyes intense. He hunched over and pulled his knees to his chest, making himself even smaller. Then:"Where is Wade?"

"Do you mean Deapool?", Tony asked. They didn't know his real name. Peter nodded. "He's outside the room. He insisted on staying."

It was like someone flipped a switch and suddenly a big chunk of the tension left the boy's body, his shoulders sagged even more, he rested his forehead on his knees, a relieved sigh escaped him.

Tony didn't say anything else at first, didn't know what to say. Peter stayed silent too and for a moment Tony thought that he had fallen back asleep.

"So, are you my dad?",he then asked raising his head slightly to look at Tony again. "I kinda passed out before the results came in."

"Uhh...yeah, you are- you're my son.", Tony didn't know what else to say, he didn't even know if he himself truly believed the words yet.

To his shock Peter chuckled at that. It was a hollow and rattling sound and the smile didn't reach his eyes. "Shit... sorry about that..."

"What do you mean?", Tony asked genuinely confused but Peter only raised his eyebrows, not looking impressed.

"Let's not pretend that this has to be more than it is. You didn't sign up to have me as a son and I don't expect you to be my dad. It's as easy as that. ", there wasn't any emotion in his voice. No resentment, no pain, no disappointment. He sounded resigned. It made Tony sick.

"Peter, I-", he started to protest but Peter wouldn't let him finish. His eyes focused on the file on the desk.

"Did you read it?", he didn't sound accusatory, still maintaining his neutral demeanor. Tony shook his head slightly.

Peter smirked slightly before his eyes wandered to the window, looking outside. "You should. You might reconsider..." The boy let out a sigh before locking eyes with Tony again. "Look, I get that you feel responsible but you don't know me, you don't- you don't know what you're getting into... with me."

There was something heartbreaking about how matter-of-factly Peter spoke about himself. "Peter- I don't care about what they did to you, I thought I'd never see you again. I still can't believe that you're really alive and if you think that I'll send you away now, you're absolutely crazy.", Tony didn't know how to convince Peter, how to make him believe.

"And why would you do that, if I may ask? Is it out of the goodness of your heart?", Peter asked with a faint smile, almost mocking him.

"Would that be that hard to believe?", Tony whispered, leaning forward. To his dismay that made Peter flinch back ever so slightly, tensing up again. Tony immediately corrected his position and Peter relaxed slightly.

"People... always have ulterior motives...", there was an exhaustion in his eyes, it made him look so much older than he was supposed to be.

"It's because I love you.", there they were, the words just slipped out and Tony knew that they were true. He never stopped loving his son, never would. Peter only rolled with his eyes, looking out the window again.

"Don't do that to yourself." The neutral tone was completely gone and bitterness took it's place.

Tony was furious and heartbroken, distraught and confused. What had they done to his boy to make him into this broken man?

"Peter... I promise you that I won't let anyone hurt you ever again...", Tony whispered, his voice breaking.

Peter didn't look at him again, he only took a heavy breath, eyes still glued to the night sky. "We'll see about that...", he then said more to himself than Tony. "Can I see Wade now?", he asked a little louder.

Tony needed a second to gather himself, blink away the tears but then he nodded. "Yeah- Yeah, of course. I'll let him in." With a pounding heart Tony left the room, running straight into Deadpool, or Wade, how Peter called him.

"Hey, Daddy-o, you okay?", he asked, holding onto his shoulders. Tony looked around frantically, shaking his head slightly.

"He- he thinks that I'll send him away?", Tony hated how pathetic he sounded but he also felt like he was on the brink of a panic attack. Everything felt so terribly out of control and that was pretty much one of Tony's biggest nightmares.

"Fuck... Should've seen this coming.", Wade sighed, rubbing his hand over his masked face. "I guess you deserve to know but... it was quite the feat to even get him here. He's- he's really scared of getting rejected by you and I think he might be trying to get ahead of that. Can't be disappointed if you don't expect anything. ", the oder Male explained.

"But I won't send him away! I would never!", Tony protested. He knew that but how was he supposed to make Peter believe that?

"I know... I know. He's self destructive but you'll figure it out. He just needs time. I'll talk to him, though.", Wade nodded, turning to the door. Before stepping inside he turned around once more.

"Don't give up on him. I don't know if he could handle that." Those words were enough to convince Tony that he could trust Wade, at least for now.

"I would never do that.",Tony replied and Wade nodded slightly.

"I believe that. You gotta make him believe that.", with that he turned back around and stepped into Peter's room, closing the door behind him.

Tony stared at the shut door in front of him. He hadn't felt this helpless in a long time.

Chapter Text

Peter wasn't in bed anymore when Wade entered the room. He had crawled into on corner of the ceiling and was staring down at Wade now, with narrowed eyes.

"Is that really comfortable or do you just like to pretend that you're Batman, lurking from the shadows?", Wade asked, his tone upbeat. Peter didn't laugh or smile, he didn't reply at all at first.

"So, you think I'm scared? And self destructive?", his tone was much colder than Wade expected. When Peter noticed his surprise he tapped against his ears with one finger. "I thought I mentioned the supersenses."

(You fucked up, he hates you now)

Wade needed a second to catch himself but he wouldn't let Peter throw him off his rhythm just because he felt like imploding right now. "Okay, you wanna talk about this? Let's talk about it. Why are you sabotaging yourself?", he asked, his tone sharper than intended.

Peter didn't back down though. On the contrary, he pushed himself of the wall and for a second Wade thought he'd crash but instead he landed on his feet perfectly, it was almost elegant and Wade marveled at what good some food and sleep did for Peter. The boy turned his back towards Wade and looked outside instead, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans. Outside, the sun was rising and Wade could now only see Peter's dark silhouette against the pink sky.

"It's not sabotage. I'm protecting myself.", there was definitely an edge to his voice but Wade also noticed the nervousness, the tension in his shoulders. He was careful to not startle the boy when he positioned himself next to him.

"I see why you'd think that. But can't you imagine, for just one second, that maybe people aren't going to reject you?", Wade asked and Peter didn't need to think about that one for long.

"No. I can't. ", that was it, cut and dry.

"Well, than you're an idiot. Your dad clearly loves you.", Wade shot back and Peter cringed at the word 'love', clenching his teeth and pulling a face.

"Nah... he loves an idea of me.", Peter stated simply and now Wade was getting kinda annoyed.

"Quit spewing this tumblr-shit, Spidey. ", he spat and Peter glanced over at him with raised eyebrows.

"First of, I have no idea what tumble is."

"Tumblr. With an R.", Wade corrected him.

"Whatever.", Peter shook his head slightly. "Let me rephrase it. I don't think he's lying. I believe that he loved me or loves the son he lost but... I'm not the Peter Stark he lost. You've spend the last few days with me, you know what a colossal dumpsterfire of a person I am. Soon enough he'll realize that and I just don't want to deal with his disappointment. So yes, I'm protecting myself."

Wade glared at Peter and when that didn't seem like enough he pulled his mask off. "You have no idea how love works, do you?"

Peter smiled at that but it was sad and self-deprecating, he glanced down before turning his eyes towards the sky. "How would I?"

That's what Wade always had to remind himself of, what Irondad and his crew would have to learn. Peter had in most fields, essentially, no idea how to be human. That included healthy relationships.

Even though Wade's childhood was pretty messed up, even though he didn't have many friends and even though the person he loved most died in his arms. (Fun, fun, fun), he still had loving relationships, even if they were all a little dysfunctional. He knew the basic formula.

From what he heard Peter had one friend in his life and she died. That's not a great track record. And it would definitely stunt someone when it comes to forming new relationships.

"Then let me explain to you that real love is unconditional. You love someone even when it's not easy, even when it's pretty fucking hard. Loving someone is real annoying most of the time anyways but most people still do it.", Wade tried to explain but Peter didn't seem convinced. "Look, you don't have to be all lovey-dovey with him but maybe, just maybe, try not to push him away unnecessarily. Try to enjoy it.", Wade then added and he could tell that Peter was swaying a little but not completely yet.

"I don't know how to even do that.", he then let out a chuckle but it had a bitterness to it. Wade didn't know what to say to that. In certain things he knew exactly how Peter was feeling, in others he had no idea.

"Why are you still here?" The question caught Wade off guard. Had he overstayed his welcome?

[Why the fuck would he even still want you here?]

"Because I promised to stay until you feel ready to be on your own.", Wade replied truthfully. No, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he was growing attached to the Spider-Boy, no, nada.

"Don't you have your own life to get back to?", Peter asked but there was no sharpness to his tone, it didn't sound like it was supposed to be an insult but Wade still wanted to be sure.

"Are we lashing out now?", he asked, raising one of his eyebrows but Peter shook his head.

"No, sorry. That came out the wrong way. I'm genuinely asking. I'd hate- I just don't want to be a burden. And I honestly didn't think that you were serious about the promise.", Peter replied. It was hard to get a read on him, now that he wasn't so exhausted anymore. Wade felt like he was actively trying to hide his emotions or maybe he just felt emptiness. That could be possible, too. Sometimes when things were to much he would feel empty as well. Feel nothing instead of too much.

"It's called a promise for a reason.", Wade commented. Peter glanced over at him and for a second Wade thought he'd protest. He didn't though, Peter just stared at him. "Unless you want me to leave...", Wade said slowly and Peter diverted his eyes.

"Is it selfish if I ask you to stay?", he then asked, his voice faint, like he hoped that Wade wouldn't hear him.

"Not at all, baby boy, not at all."

~

Tony was sitting in the kitchen, his hands clenched around a cup of coffee while Steve was working in the background, making breakfast.

He knew that Tony was a stress eater and Peter also needed food as soon as he woke up. Steve also needed to do something to not feel useless. Add that to the fact that his lover seemed to be in a state of shock and Steve found himself pretty busy.

"We need to get the tracker out as soon as possible and do a health check. I'll ask Bruce if we can do it in a regular room, he doesn't seem to react well to a medical setting. Maybe we should also get him a nutritionist to get his weight back up. He'll also need therapy, though I'm not sure if he'd agree to that. And maybe we shouldn't keep him here in New York, it's to obvious. We could go to your Malibu house for now until he's feeling better. Also, I know you might be hesitant to ask but we should really try to get a look at his file, it'll be easier to help him if we know what we're dealing with.", Steve knew that he was rambling and maybe he was even overstepping a line but he didn't know what else to do and they didn't call him the star spangled man with a plan for nothing.

"You're right.", Toby's voice sounded unsure but Steve was surprised to get a reply at all. He assumed that he was mostly talking to himself.

"What?", he asked, uncertain about what exactly Tony ment.

"About everything.", Tony nodded before finally looking Steve in the eyes. He still seemed lost but there was a new found determination in there.

"I need ti get myself together and start taking care of him.", he nodded, getting up and stepping towards Steve. He gently placed his hand on the back of Steve's neck and Steve wrapped his around Tony's waist.

"You can do this.", Steve nodded. He knew how hard this would be, he had gone through it himself with Bucky, but that's why he was also certain that Tony could do this, that he was strong enough. And if Peter was anything like his father, he'd be fine, too.

"God... what would I do without you.", Tony smiled lightly before they heard someone clear their throat.

"Could the superdads not gross out their superson on his first day. That'd be great.", Deadpool said and the men both glanced over to the door where Deadpool was standing next to Peter.

Peter looked better than last night, Steve noticed it right away. He was still sickly looking, incredibly thin and had that unsettling look in his eyes but at least he didn't look like he was about to die any second and the way he was leaning against the door frame with crossed arms indicated way less tension.

"I guess you're the American wet dream Wade told me about. You two are thing?", the boy stated and Steve shot Deadpool a look to which he only shrugged.

"Don't act like it ain't true.", Deadpool, or Wade, smirked before carefully guiding Peter into the room. Not literally, but he made the first steps and Steve could see how Peter watched him and mirrored his behavior, first walking into the room, then taking a seat.

"Yeah, Steve and I are dating, have been for a while.", Tony replied before setting a plate down in front of Peter and after a moment of hesitation in front of Wade as well.

Tony was nervous, desperate to do the right thing, Steve knew that but Tony tried to not let it show.

"So I don't have a mother?", the question was casual, too casual for the topic but Tony seemed to pick up on that and only froze for a split second.

"No, just us.", he replied. A little smirk pulled at the corners of Peter's lips and he glanced over at Wade.

"Well, we can't have everything going my way. I have to become a person before I become cocky."

Steve only realized that it was supposed to be joke when Wade smirked as well and replied:"Yeah, we don't want you getting any ideas and start to become a brat."

Tony gave Steve a questioning look at which he could only shrug. They were both slightly thrown, not because this type of humor was foreign to them. In fact it was exactly this type of shit that made Steve laugh and Tony knew that. But they were both pleasantly surprised that Peter seemed to have a sense of humor at all.

Not only that but that he seemed to be pretty much at ease during his interactions with Wade.

Steve placed the rest of the food on the table before glancing at Peter. His eyes were wanding from the bread, to the vegetables, from the omlets to the waffles. He didn't take anything though, while Wade was already stacking waffles onto his plate.

"You can eat what you want.", Steve pointed out and Peter glanced up at him, he looked slightly startled, like Steve had pulled him out of a thought but his expression quickly neutralized again.

"Oh, okay...", he only said before reaching for a single slice of bread and starting to nibble on it.

Steve's eyes wandered over to Wade who had folded up the bottom of his mask to reveal his mouth to enable him to eat. The skin around his mouth and his jaw was covered in scar tissue. "You can take the mask off if is more comfortable, by the way.", Steve than suggested and Wade glanced over at him.

"I'd rather not, Cap. I'm sorry but I'm too beautiful for mortal eyes. Also it's bad enough that Petey-Pie told you my real name, what do I even have a secret identity for?", Wade complained and Peter rolled with his eyes.

"You told me your name within five minutes of meeting me, it didn't seem all that secret."

"That's because I was trying to build trust. Would you've come along with a guy going by Deadpool?"

"I didn't come along at all, technically you kidnapped me!"

"Details. Small, insignificant details."

It was interesting to watch their banter, not only because Peter seemed really comfortable with it. Apparently they had really bonded over the small amount of time they spend together. Steve realized in that moment that they'd probably need Wade for Peter's recovery, too. Speaking of his recovery...

"Peter, we've been thinking... No, mostly Steve's been thinking, I've been staring holes in the walls... but there are a few things we need to talk about.", Tony started and Steve noticed how Peter tensed up ever so slightly but otherwise continued as normal.

"Okay, enlighten me if you will.", he said, his voice calm but in a controlled way.

"In order to protect you from HYDRA as well as possible we need to remove the tracker inside your tooth and get you to a safer location.", Tony went on.

To their surprise Peter just shrugged slightly before nodding. "Sure."

"Wait, aren't you at least gonna ask where we're going or-", Steve started to ask but the Peter's eyes shifted towards him.

"It's not like I have a choice, do I?", he asked and Steve understood what was happening. He understood because he'd seen it before in Bucky. They both had a Prisoner- mentality. They didn't expect anyone to let them make their own choices.

"Of course you do, if you say you don't want to we'll think of something else. ", Tony explained patiently. Peter just raised his eyebrows. He didn't seem upset, just surprised, maybe even pleasantly.

"Oh...okay. No, the plan is fine by me.", he nodded before taking another slice of bread.

"Uhh, Spidey, you gonna be a Cali Girl.", Wade chuckled.

"I don't know what that means but sure.", Peter shrugged.

"The other thing we wanted to talk about is the HYDRA file.", Tony then announced and Peter stopped what he was doing to glance at both of them.

"It's still in the room, why don't you just read it?", he asked.

"Because we respect your privacy.", Tony replied to which Peter narrowed his eyes at him.

"That sounds fake but okay...", he then said to which Wade let out a smirk.

"Did you just quote a meme?", Wade asked excited which was enough to relax Peter slightly.

"I don't know what a meme is.", he replied.

"Buckle up, baby boy, Imma teach you.", Wade laughed and Steve could see Peter crack a tiny smile as well before returning his attention to Tony.

"We won't read it unless you're completely fine with it but whatever you could tell us right now that we might need to know would be greatly appreciated."

Peter didn't try to conceal the fact that he was contemplating it. Whatever his confession was, it didn't come easy. "Maybe now's the time to mention that I have superpowers."

Chapter Text

"So, I think we got everything, Strength, speed, agility, I can stick to pretty much all surfaces, webshooters and all my senses are dialled up to eleven. That'd be it. I'd prefer to not talk about how I got them, because... because I don't want to subject either of us to a panic attack.", Peter finished his explanation.

The whole time he didn't stop eating. Apparently the bread fired up his appetite and he was on his 3 egg and 4 waffle now. He dipped the waffle into marmalade and stuffed it into his mouth.

"Ahh, almost forgot, enhanced healing and super fast metabolism. But the healing kinda fucks up if I don't eat or sleep enough for a long time.", he then added, his voice muffled by the food in his mouth.

"If- when you say sticking to all surfaces,  you mean...", Tony asked with wide eyes. Peter pushed back his chair, got up and proceeded to jump to the ceiling where he then started to crawl around on all fours as if he was a character in a horror movie.

He then let go with his hand and now he was just hanging from his feet, his upside down face turned towards Tony. "You know, there's a reason he calls me Spidey.", the boy then added glancing over at Wade.

It was hilarious, their baffled expressions, Wade enjoyed every second of it. There was also a weird sense of pride that felt entirely misplaced. After all, he didn't really contribute anything to how Peter was but he still felt like he knew something that the two Avengers didn't. It was a foolish and childish thought and his boxes quickly shot him down.

(Don't pretend that you're something special just because you spend a few days with the kid!)

[As soon as he gets used to his life here he's gonna dump you anyways.]

(We'll see how superior you'll feel then)

By the time Wade mentally wrestled down his voices, (he didn't speak out loud to them, not in front of the superdads, Peter might not mind him talking to nobody but Peter's standards for normal were anything but, well, normal) Peter had come down grin the ceiling again and reclaimed his seat at the table.

"So HYDRA experimented on you as well?", Steve asked, with his iconic stoic face and his 'talk to me, son'- tone.

Still, Wade knew that Peter wouldn't like this and just like he predicted the boy gave him a sharp look in response before saying:"I thought I made myself clear. I'm not talking about this. Though I am curious what you mean by 'as well'?"

The superdads switched a look before Capsicle explained:"A friend of mine, Bucky Barnes, he was in HYDRA custody for... over 70 years, they changed him. Brainwashing, torture, experiments. The whole nine yards. You could talk to him if you like."

"What, like a self help meeting?", Wade smirked and Peter took that and ran with it.

"Yeah sure, let me talk to this dude I've never met before. We'll call our little group 'Experiments Anonymous'. Or why not go with 'The HYDRA-fucked-me-up Club'. Has a ring to it. Maybe we'll even have shirts. 'HYDRA imprisoned me for years and all I got was this shirt.'", Peter's voice dripped with venom and Wade recognized that he accidentally stirred him into resentment-town again. It's like he was searching for an excuse to lash out.

Or maybe he was testing the waters, see how far he could take it, where the limits were. But it manifested as him being an angsty ass.

Tony stared at his son with wide eyes for a few moments, something glistening in them, before rubbing one hand over his face with a sigh. "Peter... don't say that...", he mumbled and Wade saw something flash in the boy's eyes, like he waited for this.

"If you don't like what I'm saying, put a muzzle on me.", he spat as he pushed his chair back and got up. "Wouldn't be the first time...", he mumbled under his breath as he made his way to the door. "I'll be in the room until you need me!", he yelled before slamming the door behind him.

"Now that was a bit dramatic, wasn't it?", Wade chuckled nervously but Steve and Tony just both stared at the closed door like Peter would return any second.

Then, after several seconds of silence Steve finally collected himself, swallowed and looked over at Wade. "Is he always like this?", he asked and something in Wade's head started to scream, not the boxes, it was himself.

Don't you dare! Don't you fucking dare give up on him! Don't you prove him right!

"No. He's not- he's- he's just hurting.", Wade tried to explain and to his surprise Steve only nodded slowly before glancing over at his lover.

Tony Stark had two of his fingers pressed to his lips, his eyes narrowed at the door, lost in thought. "He's lashing out to get a rise out of you.", Wade said, talking to him directly now.

Tony let out a little huff before crossing his arms. "I know. I'm like this, too."

~

Peter paced around the room he woke up in frantically, replaying everything he said over and over again. "... put a muzzle in me, wouldn't be the first time." Why did he say that? Why did he thought that just because he wasn't at HYDRA anymore, he could just say and do what he wanted.

His eyes shot towards the door every few seconds, waiting for Rogers or Stark or even Wade to bust in and correct his behavior. A shiver ran down his spine.

How would they do it? Hold his head under water until it felt like it was about to burst? Let electricity run through his veins until he felt like every fiber of his being was on fire? Whip his back until his whole skin was torn to shreds?

Or maybe they'd make him do it himself. Some agents preferred that, the humiliation of it. They liked to watch and listen to his tortured screams as he mutilated himself.

They never let him die though, no matter how much Peter begged for it, no matter how close he got. His body could unfortunately, take a whole lot of shit, even when his mind couldn't.

"Ripped apart, no no, drown me out, can't show, pull me down, so low, still won't break, bend though.", it was non sensical, Peter knew that, but he had heard Gwen sing the words so often, they were scorched into into his mind. Now the spilled out if his mouth on repeat as his heart became a panicked bird once more.

The boy crawled up into one corner of the ceiling, facing the door, holding onto the wall with his feet and wrapping his arms around the trembling cage that was his torso. There he waited for them to come, to rip him apart, drown him out, bend and maybe even break him.

Still, he kept up the mantra but after a while it felt almost like he was taunting himself. 'Still won't break'? Who was he kidding? He was a ruin. He always knew that.

Gwen was the hopeful one, or maybe not hopeful, but she was resilient, tough as nails. In the end she broke as well. Peter broke her. Like everything he touched. His chest grew tight with the memory of her.

Suddenly he heard a knock on the door and his Spidey-Sense went off. And then... nothing. His mind shut off and he lost time.

~

Wade knew that something was wrong the moment Steve returned to the living room with Peter in tow and he had the feeling that the others noticed as well but weren't as sure of it as he was.

They called him back to get out the tracker in his mouth. They specifically set up everything they needed in the living room and the doctor, Bruce Banner, the grinch himself, even took off his lab coat to avoid triggering Peter.

Still there was no way to tell how he would react, it was a medical procedure after all. The doctor had to remove the tracker and then fill the hollow tooth again. It wasn't even clear if Peter would agree to that but their concerns seemed to be unnecessary. He didn't even argue.

In fact he didn't say anything, instead he just laid down on the couch and opened his mouth wide when instructed, his eyes staring at the ceiling. Bruce got to work while Wade thought 'this was too easy'.

Peter didn't move, didn't even make a sound as Bruce drilled into his tooth and pulled out a tiny tracker before closing up the hole.

"Something about this doesn't feel right...", Tony mumbled more to himself than anyone else but he was damn right. Something about this felt fishy.

"You're finished.", Bruce said and Peter sat up again and just when Wade thought 'It's almost like he's responding to orders' Peter proved him right in the worst way. Instead of getting on his feet the boy sank to his knees, crossing his wrists behind his back and lowering his head in submission.

"What the fuck?", Tony asked but suddenly it clicked in Wade's mind.

"Shit. Fucking shit. Should've noticed it.", Wade cursed under his breath.

"What's wrong with him?"Steve asked as Wade already kneeled down in front of Peter trying to catch his eye but the boy's eyes were focused on the floor.

"I think he's disassociating. He isn't really here, at least not in his mind.", Wade explained before reaching out to cup Peter's face with his hands, the boy was trembling ever so slightly under his touch, not enough to see it, only to feel.

"Has this happened before?", Tony asked worry in his voice as he crouched down next to Wade.

"Yes but last time it was really flashy. It's why I didn't recognize it right away. ", Wade mumbled. With the softest voice he could muster he tried to coax Peter into looking at him.

"Hey, baby boy, it's Wade. I saved you, remember? You aren't at HYDRA anymore, you're at Avengers tower with your dad. Remember that, Peter.", he gently tilted the boy's head back until Peter looked at him but his eyes were glassy, unseeing. How didn't he notice this sooner?

"Fuck it...", he cussed before pulling his mask off and ignoring how Tony flinched beside him at the sight of his face. Wade focused all his attention on Peter instead.

"Peter, look at me. You're okay. You aren't with HYDRA anymore, remember?", he pleaded with Peter and slowly his eyes cleared up and focused on Wade.

As soon as Peter was present again the dread set in. Suddenly his eyes were shooting around fratically. Wade, Tony, Steve, Bruce, Wade. Then he looked down on himself like he only noticed his position now.

Then the trembling stopped and Peter grew stiff under his hands. He lowered his eyes, bowed his head. "Make it quick, please...", he pressed through gritted teeth. Wade noticed how much Peter tried to keep his voice steady but his breath started to hitch like he was seconds away from crying.

"What...?", Wade whispered, truly confused.

Peter didn't look up when he replied but his voice quivered more this time. "My punishment. I misbehaved. I need to be punished..."

Wade almost flinched at that, horror gripping onto his insides, making it hard to breath. What an awful thought, that Peter expected his father to punish him. That he still expected that Wade would hurt him. It served as a reminder that no matter how well they got along, Peter didn't trust him, not really, he couldn't.

When Wade didn't respond a sob escaped the boy, tore through the silence like a scream. The trembling started again and Peter still held his hands behind his back. "Do you want me to beg for it?", he then snapped but he sounded desperate, terrified.

Wade carefully placed his hands on Peter's shoulders, trying to look him in the eyes but failing. "Peter- no one will punish you. No one will hurt you, I promise.", Wade whispered.

It took him several seconds but finally Peter dared to look up, locking eyes with Wade. They were blood shot and half hooded. "I don't believe you...", Peter choked out before his body slumped against Wade's. He passed out, again.

Wade looked from the unconscious boy up to his father who stared at his child with wide, teary eyes. This definitely wouldn't be a walk in the park.

Chapter Text

Her hands were soft, cold against his burning skin. He couldn't tell how much time had passed, he couldn't even remember how he got back into the cell, last time he checked he was still strapped to a metal table, metal cuffs holding him in place as he trembled violently.

His stomach cramped up and he convulsed, gagging and heaving but his stomach was empty. Strong arms wrapped around his chest, her arms, pulling him closer to her. She pressed her face into his hair, it was damp with sweat. Her body was shaking, too, ever so slightly but she still tried to hold him together.

Gwen's voice wasn't more than a whisper. Tiny broken pleas, mumbled more to herself than to him. For Peter, with his crazy senses they sounded more like screams, desperate and deafening. "Don't, don't, please Peter, please don't leave me... don't you fucking dare leave me, I need you..."

It was too much, all of it was too fucking much, her voice, her hands, the burning in Peter's veins, it needed to stop.

* He didn't even notice when he started to scratch his wrists like he was trying to claw his skin off. The burning of his ripped open skin was nothing compared to the fire inside his body.

"No... stop. Peter...please...stop...", Gwen begged grabbing his wrists and holding them apart so that he couldn't hurt himself. Peter struggled against her grip, tossed his head around and let out desperate wails, unable to form words but he was too weak, too exhausted and Gwen wouldn't budge.*

Eventually he gave in, slumped against her chest, breathing heavily, he didn't bother to swallow the sobs that escaped him, neither did Gwen.

"I'm sorry... I'm sorry... don't leave me... I'm sorry..."

"Peter?"

He was met by darkness once he opened his eyes and for a moment he though he was back in that cell, going through the change.

"Gwen?", he asked into the dark, his voice raspy.

"Sorry to disappoint you, kid.", a male voice answered a single table lamp turned on, revealing Tony Stark, sitting in an arm chair a few feet away from Peter's bed.

It all came flooding back. Wade, their road trip, the Tower, Steve, Tony, their fight...

Peter sat up and scrambled back until his back hit the headboard of the bed. He pulled his legs to his chest, making himself as small as possible, his eyes never left Tony.

His father looked tired, his hair was disheveled and there were dark circles under his eyes. Peter wondered how long he'd been asleep, he could remember eating breakfast, now it was dark again. He really had to stop loosing time like this, it was foolish and reckless.

"Who is Gwen?", Tony asked and Peter narrowed his eyes at him. He sounded curious but also flippant, like it was a casual question.

For Peter it was anything but casual. Then again, what would happen to him if he didn't cooperate? Did he really want to find out? He found that he was still too tired, too exhausted, too shaken by the dream and the pain that came with it. Even the thought of enduring any form of punishment right now filled him with dread so he didn't even try to protest.

"She's a friend of mine.",he replied before wrapping his arms tighter around his legs. He didn't want to talk about Gwen, preferred to not even think of her. It made his heart ache with guilt, shame and loss.

Tony raised his eyebrows in surprise but didn't move otherwise. Peter was glad that he didn't approach him, didn't get closer, if anyone did that right now he wasn't sure how he'd react.

"You had friends at HYDRA?" It wasn't exactly an accusation but it felt like one. Peter felt the need to justify his alliances.

"One friend. And she wasn't one of them. ", he clarified, a dangerous endge in his voice. Tone it down... "She was like me.", he added, quieter this time.

"Was?", Tony asked and Peter really didn't want to talk about this. Grief, disgust and anguish coiled around his throat, making it hard to breath. His eyes started to water as he let them wander around the dark room, trying to anchor himself.

Comply, or bear the consequences.

But how could he if panic was flaring up in his chest?

You're a weapon and weapons don't weep.

"She's dead.",his voice was toneless, for a second he didn't recognize it himself. Peter focused back onto Tony, waiting for him to lash out, to demand details, to do something. Tony held his intense glare before letting out a deep sigh and nodding slowly.

"Why are you telling me this?",his father asked and Peter wanted to scream at him. What the fuck did he mean with 'Why?' Because he fucking asked him! What kind of backwards logic was this?!

Peter felt like he was trying to trick him, to get him to make a mistake. "You asked.", the reply was insufficient. He knew that he said the wrong thing by the way Tony pulled his eyebrows together into a frown.

Peter could feel his eyes prickle again. Weapons don't weep. God, he was so tired.

"Yeah, I know...", Tony grumbled before wiping one hand over his face and through his hair. "But are you telling me because you want to or because you think that you have to?"

That question took him by surprise. Not enough to ease any of the tension that turned Peter into single ball of nerves, though. "Don't I?", he asked and the expression on Tony's face made everything seem nonsensical.

He looked horrified, no, sad, in pain and distraught. That couldn't be, though. It didn't make sense to Peter. Faking emotions wasn't easy, but once you had it down you could manipulate people however you liked. He would've been a fool for falling for it, no matter how much he wanted to believe him.

"No, you don't...you... fuck!", Tony exclaimed, his tone frustrated, before bending over and burying his face in his hands. Peter flinched and pressed himself closer to the headboard but resisted the instinct to jump to the ceiling. Still, his body language must've shown his alarm because as soon as Tony looked up at him again he retreated back into his seat.

"Shit...sorry...sorry. I didn't mean to startle you. I'm sorry. ", he rambled, the apology was frantic and felt like it had an urgency and Peter couldn't help but to think of Gwen. Trying to protect Peter from himself while brokenly apologizing.

Tony stayed silent for a moment, his eyes tracking Peter. The boy tried to seem calm. He schooled his expression to be a neutral mask but his breathing gave him away. Short, shallow gasps for air that felt like it wouldn't come.

"I don't know how to do this...", Tony finally admitted and it was worse than Peter imagined. He didn't even try. Was Peter really so much beyond repair that his own father didn't even want to try to correct all the ways in which Peter was messed up? Really, he couldn't blame him. Who would want to put up with him?

The dread was still there. He'd be on his own. The idea of relying on Wade disgusted Peter so much that he didn't even consider it. Wade had done enough for him already. Even if he offered to let Peter stay with him, he couldn't imagine that Wade was serious about that.

He'd be by himself, on the run from HYDRA. The thought alone made him spiral, his heart beat quickened and tears threatened to spill all while a voice that wasn't his own screamed in his head:"Weapons don't weep!"

"So you want me to leave?" The words just burst out of him and he hated how panicked he sounded.

Tony's eyebrows drew together in confusion before his eyes widened slightly. "No! No, no, no... that's not what I ment! I'd never send you away, never. I just... I feel inadequate. I don't know how to convince you that we won't harm you. I don't know how to make you believe that you're safe. I- I haven't been a father in such a long time that I have no idea what to do and I'm scared to make a mistake but none of that's on you. And none of that means that I'd kick you out."

Whatever Peter expected, this wasn't it. Relief washed over him but just for a second. Then his paranoia and suspicion extinguished this warm flame of hope inside of him and made way for distrusts and resentment.

"Yeah, sure.", he smirked but it was joyless, sharp. "Excuse me but I'm having trouble believing that. I'm-", his thoughts trailed off for a second, thinking of a all the thing's he'd been called before.

Subject, weapon, monster, pet, fuck-up, disappointment, Guinea pig, soldier, Asset.

"-not your son.", he finally said, he had lost the edge in his voice by now. "Not the one you lost, anyways. And I'm not a kid. To be quite honest, I don't think I'm even a person. " Peter felt defeated in his admission but it was also a slight relief, to lay it open like this.

"I can't be what you want. You might not see that right now because you think that having me back is some kind of miracle. Soon you'll realize that I'm- I'm a burden at best and a catastrophe at worst. Nothing good can come out of this and I can't let you make me believe that I can be anything more than this. The inevitable disappointment would destroy me. "

Tony stayed silent for a while after that and for a moment Peter thought he had done it, he had convinced Tony that there was no recovery for him, that he was nothing but an inconvenience in his life.

Then his father laughed. Or rather, he smirked, evolving into a chuckle that may or may not have sounded a bit hysterical and even Peter's over imaginative mind didn't know what to make of this.

"Sorry...sorry I shouldn't laugh... I really shouldn't...", Tony wheezed before slowly calming down. "I really shouldn't laugh because this is heartbreaking, really. I'd rather curl up into a ball and cry forever but then again I don't think that that would help the situation either. I still feel like the biggest jerk for laughing, though. It's just- You're so fucking wrong it's laughable."

When Peter didn't reply anything to that Tony stroked his hands through his hair before continuing. "So what, you aren't the same as when you were 9? Of course you aren't, you're practically an adult. And I get that you don't trust me, or anyone really and I know it might be hard to believe that this isn't a test, that I'm not tricking you, that there won't be punishment but that's okay. Thinking like this kept you alive. That doesn't change the fact that you are safe now, that you can relax, that not every situation will end in disaster. But I don't expect you to believe that. I'll prove it to you, though. I'll remind you for the rest of your life if that's necessary."

Something inside Peter's chest lit up and it was hot and strong without burning him and he didn't like it, didn't trust it, knew how dangerous it was and tried to extinguish it before it could get bigger.

"And Peter?", Tony asked, getting his attention back. "I know you don't like me saying it, but I love you. You're not a catastrophe or a burden, and you are my son and you're definitely a person."

This time he couldn't stop his eyes from spilling over and his throat closed up to the point that Peter wasn't sure if he could even breath, let alone respond.

"I- I can't- not right now-", he gasped out miserably. It was too much. All of it. Peter wanted to push Tony away, to wipe this look out of his face that made everything in Peter ache for hope, for love, for more.

Everything that came out were ragged gasps for air and pathetic whimpering. Weapons don't weep. 

Tony understood, seemed to see how shameful this all was for Peter. He slowly got up and walked over to the door before turning around once more. "I'll be in the kitchen. Come out whenever you feel ready, don't rush yourself. "

With that he left and even though Peter was glad that he was gone, that he didn't have to hold back the uncontrollable sobs that tore through his chest only seconds later, he also ached for something, anything, anyone.

Peter wanted to be comforted, to trust and love and rely on someone but he couldn't. His ability to do so died with Gwen.

So he just curled up in the center of the bed, pressing his eyes shut and letting the pain pour out of him while he wished for her gentle voice in his ear.

Chapter Text

The mood was quite weird over the next day. Peter had clearly tuned down the explosive angst but he also seemed more careful, silent, observant more than anything else.

Wade didn't know what to make of it. It's like Peter was waiting for something and Wade could imagine what it was. He knew how it felt to wait for all hell to break loose, to constantly watch over your shoulder.

Still, it put him on edge when Peter was behaving like this. There was a certain uncertainty between them, something foreboding. A storm was forming and it finally broke loose when Tony and Steve mentioned moving Peter.

The boy was curled up on the couch, his legs pulled to his chest and his head resting on his knees. By now he changed into sweatpants and a loose shirt. He looked so incredibly small, his too large eyes observing the other men in the room intently as they explained the plan.

Wade was sitting on the couch next to Peter but with deliberate space between them. He'd been especially twitchy ever since he woke up again.

In general Wade felt like Peter was somehow excluding him. It was silly but his boxes made sure to convince him of that. Still, he couldn't help but to feel like Peter was more distant than before, barely talking, deliberately not looking at Wade.

If he hadn't spend several days face to face with him, Wade would think that it had something to do with his mask being off. Then again, maybe Peter was embarrassed by him.

Rationally he knew that that was unlikely. But Wade wasn't a rational person, on the contrary. So his mind ran with this idea. It's not like he didn't expect it, either. He knew that Peter wouldn't need him anymore once he was with his family, knew that their time was limited, that Peter would grow tired of him eventually. This was probably it.

"So we can be out of here as soon as you're ready.", Tony finished. They wanted to take Peter to Malibu, the other side of the country. There they'd be more secluded, harder to find, and they wouldn't need to worry about any strangers bursting in.

They were all waiting for a reply from Peter but he seemed to have checked out somewhere during the exchange. When he didn't say anything for a while Wade already thought that he wasn't listening after all.

Now it looked like it, too. The way he was just staring at the floor, eyes hazy and unseeing didn't exactly spell 'attentive listener'.

Tony and Steve shared a look before Tony knelt down in front of Peter to get him to look at him. "Would that be alright, Peter?", he asked carefully and Peter blinked a few times and shook his head slightly like he was trying to focus.

"Yeah... whatever you say. I'm fine with it.", he mumbled, still seeming distracted.

"Nahh, that wasn't convincing at all, baby boy! Next time with a bit more passion.", Wade tried to joke and he did actually get Peter to smile at him but it didn't quite reach his eyes.

Wade's stomch cramped up.

(God, he's really tired of you!)

[How about you just shut up for once?!]

(It's your life that you're fucking up so go off I guess.)

Apparently Peter took Wade's joke seriously because he straightened up and let go of his legs, crossing them instead. The tension was still there but more subtle now. Wade could see it in the way Peter clenched and unclenched his fists around the fabric of his sweatpants. His voice was steadier when he spoke, looking at Steve and Tony this time.

"No. I'm okay with it. If this'll keep me safe from HYDRA we can leave right now, but-", Peter's eyes glanced over at Wade and he didn't like the look the boy was giving him at all. It seemed anxious, worried, that was pretty much the last thing that Wade wanted to make Peter feel. "-can I talk to Wade for a second?", he then asked, looking back at his father. "Alone."

The two males quickly nodded, eager to respect Peter's wishes and after Tony stood up again the Superdads left the room.

Wade took note of how Peter didn't start talking right away, didn't even face him, he was still watching the closed door like he expected someone to barge in. Wade couldn't stop his own leg from bouncing nervously.

(He's gonna break up with you!)

[It's not me, it's you!]

"You good, Peter?", Wade asked, trying to ignore how tight his throat felt all of a sudden. Peter nodded slowly, mechanically, before he seemed to snap out of it. Again, a slight headshake, then his eyes met Wade's.

"Uhh... yes, yes I'm good. That's actually what I wanted to talk about. ", he said before looking down at his hands in his lap. Wade only now noticed a few red streaks along the inside of the boys arms but he turned them away from Wade's sight before he could observe them further.

"I'm really thankful for everything you did for me, you saved my life.", Peter continued and Wade could feel his stomach drop. Oh no. This was it. Fuck! This was really it.

"Is this a breakup talk, baby boy?", Wade smirked, covering up his own dread with a grin. He was good at that.

Peter gave him a pained expression that Wade read as discomfort. "I- you said you'd stay with me until I'm okay. And I'm okay. Really. It's fine. ", Peter then said and Wade barely heard him over the sound of his boxes cackling in his head. Stupid. Fucking stupid idiot.

(You knew getting attached was dumb)

[Yeah, we warned you.]

They were right. Wade knew that this would happen. It always happened, he should really know better by now. Wade had served his purpose, fulfilled his promise and now he had to watch Peter awkwardly stumble his way through a rejection.

Peter probably still felt like he owed him, that's the only reason he could guess for why the boy felt so uncomfortable doing this.

(You could probably ask him to stay)

[ Yeah, I bet he's so thankful, he'd do it]

It was tempting and for a solid second Wade considered it before quickly throwing that idea into the trash.

Maybe, just maybe Peter would stay if Wade asked, or maybe he'd take Wade with him. But it wouldn't be what Peter wanted. He'd just do it because he felt like he owed Wade something. And as much as Wade wanted Peter in his life, he didn't want to be a burden in his, an inconvenience. He'd just take advantage of Peter's vulnerable state and that would make him an even worse person than he already was.

(As if you aren't a selfish motherfucker!)

Better leave with your head held high instead of over staying your welcome. Wade let out a chuckle, forced himself to relax and put on a nonchalant act. "Oh come on, Spidey. You think Imma get all sappy just because you ain't got a rose for me?", he smirked and Peter shrugged nervously, his eyes cast down.

"Don't worry 'bout me, Petey-Pie. I'll be a-okay. You go do your thing, get better, maybe become a surfer-boy in Cali. You'd look cute with a beaded necklace!", Wade could tell that he was rambling but like most of the time, it was better than the alternative. Saying what he really thought. Nobody cared about that anyways.

Peter didn't look as relieved as Wade had expected. Wade couldn't really read how he was feeling at all. It was almost like from one second to another Peter had pulled up a massive wall between them. His face was a neutral mask, his eyes empty and silent, not giving away anything.

"Great. Then you can leave now." His tone was so devoid of emotion that it almost send a shiver down Wade's spine.

"Alright... I'll leave my number with your dad on my way out. Don't hesitate to call if you ever need anything or just in general. I'm always down to kill Nazis or eat waffles.", Wade chuckled slight as he got up but he had already lost the boy's attention.

Peter was staring out the window when he mumbled:"Yeah, sure." The words were empty, disinterested, Wade's throat closed up before he could say anything else so he just left.

~

Peter was on a jet. How he got there exactly he couldn't tell. Just that Tony was flying it, Steve sitting next to him.

He was strapped to a chair with... seatbelts. No reason to panic. You aren't at HYDRA. This isn't the chair. You're okay. You're still here.

Except that he wasn't, not quite. After Wade left things moved quick. Too quick for Peter. Their conversation left him emotionally drained so he checked out. For once he didn't mind losing time. He embraced it and just let himself float through the day.

Tony and Steve had to pack their things, make calls. Peter's father talked to a man named Happy and a woman named Pepper. Peter didn't listen to their conversation. He barely even listened when they addressed him.

Foolish, really. This could get him in serious trouble. Not listening always got him in trouble. That's why he couldn't check out when he was with HYDRA. The risk was too great.

Once they put him on a bed, naked, and told him to keep his arms pressed to the headboard above his head as they cut him open just to watch him heal again. He had to stay present then, or the punishment would be much greater.

He didn't manage, though. After a while he always failed. Because you're weak. He couldn't afford to fail now either so he forced himself to stay present.

The jet, his father, Steve, blue sky in front of them, the soft fabric of his sweatpants between his fingers, the noise of the engine, a bitter taste in his mouth. He focused on everything he could see and feel until he felt like he was in his body again.

They were flying to Maliby, wherever that was. He did remember that. Without Wade. Right.

His throat grew tight at the thought of being alone with Steve and Tony. He knew how irrational and maybe even insulting that was but he couldn't help it. He was terrified.

He could've asked Wade to come with them, he even considered it and holy shit was it tempting. Then he reminded himself that he had disrupted Wade's life enough already. He couldn't stand being a burden any longer.

Wade had a sense of responsibility, Peter admired that about him. But surely even Wade had a limit to his kindness and Peter didn't want to challenge that.

It was bad enough that Tony had to deal with Peter in his life. He really didn't want to do that to anyone else.

Besides, Wade made it clear that he was fine with it, a fact that hurt more than Peter would like to admit. Wade was 'a-okay' and could continue to live his life normally and Peter? Peter would get by somehow. He had to.

The boy repeated this over and over in his mind and didn't even notice how his own fingers ran over his arm, nervously clawing at his skin.

Chapter Text

Tony didn't loose hope, not for a second and that was the first truth he discovered. He couldn't, not now, not when he just got his son back.

That didn't mean that he wasn't completely overwhelmed with the situation. The first week was an absolute nightmare and Tony found himself thinking more than once 'Afghanistan was a walk in the park compared to this.'

Every day he he just found more ways in which HYDRA had deconstructed his son. While Tony would never give up on Peter like the boy clearly expected, Peter was right with one thing. Tony hadn't been a dad in 10 years, and the Peter he had lost wasn't the same as this one. He didn't know this current Peter yet, couldn't tell what he needed.

That was the second truth.

They were back to square one but this time there was the added trouble of years of unfathomable trauma.

When they were back in New York it already seemed bad enough but at least Peter seemed to function somewhat. Tony wouldn't want to admit it but he later figured that it had something to do with Wade. Once they left for Malibu Peter turned into a shell. It was heartwrenching. Tony thought it was bad when Peter screamed and lashed out but the apathy was so much worse.

After they arrived at their mansion Peter just stood around staring at nothing until Tony instructed (ordered?) him to check out his room. He then proceeded to only leave it when called, he completely retreated otherwise, into the room and into himself.

"He just needs time. He doesn't know us, doesn't trust us.", Steve told Tony on the first night, his voice soft, his hands gently stroking through Tony's hair.

"Yeah, yeah I know, I just- I don't know. I just want him to feel safe." Tony tried to give Peter as much space as possible without feeling like he was avoiding him. It was hard to find the right balance in this, especially since his mere presence seemed to stress the boy out immensely.

It was always one of two extremes with him. Empty expressions, glassy eyes and a distant mind or violent flinches, weary glances and shaking hands.

And fuck, Peter was so incredibly scared, of everything. After a couple of days Tony noticed that Peter didn't use the shower in his bathroom so he casually mentioned it. He wouldn't have if he had known that just the suggestion would turn Peter into a trembling mess, his breath heavy and frantic.

It wasn't just that. Tony asked JARVIS to check on Peter every once in a while when Tony didn't feel like disturbing his son's peace. According to the AI Peter avoided all mirrors, didn't sleep in his bed, curling up either on the ground or crawling into one corner of the ceiling instead.

Then there was the food thing. Peter needed loads of food, Tony and Steve knew that, Peter had told them about his super fast metabolism and they had seen how much he could eat. Knowing this made it even more obvious that he only ate when instructed and never asked for it or, God forbid, just took some food without asking permission.

All those things should've been awfully heartbreaking on their own but of course that wasn't all of it. It took him a couple of days to notice it but as soon as he did he couldn't get it out of his head until he finally mentioned it to Steve one night.

"He's managing us.", he blurted out without any context. Steve looked up from his laptop with his eyebrows drawn together.

They were sitting in their bed, theirs legs entangled under the blanket, both on separate laptops. That's what their nights turned to in the past few days, researching severe trauma in teenagers, trying to understand this kid a bit better.

"What do you mean?", Steve asked, cocking his head to one side slightly. A loose strand of his golden hair brushed against his forehead and Tony was struck with how lucky he was to not be alone in this. Steve Rogers, a fucking treasure.

"He's managing our emotions, or at least I think that he thinks he's doing that. He does whatever we say, never protests anything, ask for nothing, and have you noticed how he forces his emotions down whenever he almost freaks out. It's almost like he's constantly waiting for us to blow up into his face and he's trying to put it off for as long as possible. No scratch that. Im pretty sure that that's exactly what he's doing."

That was the third truth.

It was the kind of realization that doesn't help you at all, only leaves you feeling more hopeless. Tony didn't know how to get Peter to believe him when he told him that there wouldn't be any punishments, any pain or humiliation, that he could relax and settle for once. Instead Tony could only watch his son come apart piece by piece right I before his eyes while Peter desperately tried to pick up the pieces and keep up a facade that wasn't there to begin with.

It all came to a dramatic climax at the end of the first week.

They had called Peter down for breakfast. He still looked incredibly small and gaunt, his face empty and sickly. His dark hair shimmered with grease by now but Tony didn't dare to mention taking a shower again.

Steve had served as much food as possible like everytime they ate and Peter insisted that it wasn't necessary before basically apologizing for his existence, it was a quite depressing ordeal.

"Don't worry Pete, as I told you, I know how much fuel a high-metabolism body needs.", Steve reassured him, or at least he tried to.

Peter flinched ever so slightly and Tony didn't even know why, before faintly mumbling:"Yeah, sorry, I won't mention it again. " Steve gave Tony a helpless look when Peter proceeded to poke at his food, barely eating any of it. Tony could only return a shrug.

Breakfast was a quiet and awkward affair and Tony always waited until he was absolutely sure that Peter wouldn't eat anything more unless they literally shoved it down his throat.

Then he told him that he could leave the table. Not because Tony wanted him to leave but because he was 97% sure that Peter wouldn't move an inch if not ordered to do so, no matter what Peter wanted.

Tony felt like a handler, not a father and he was disgusted with himself.

That morning he did the same and Peter got up without hesitation, always ready to take orders, taking his plate with him to put it into the dishwasher.

What happened next Tony wasn't exactly sure. Maybe it was that he still wasn't eating enough, or maybe the lack of sleep (according to JARVIS Peter slept up to 3 hours on a good night) or maybe the general emotional exhaustion that seemed to be Peter's primary mood but he slipped, or tripped or something.

It wasn't dramatic and it didn't even catch Tony's eye until he heard the plate crash against the tile floor and shatter into dozens of shards.

Tony leapt from his chair and saw Peter freeze, his eyes locked on the ground before quickly glancing at Tony. There was real, honest to God horror in his eyes and next thing Tony knew was that Peter let himself fall to his knees, not caring that some of the shards cut into his legs.

"Fuck, sorry... I'll clean it up, it's okay, that'll only take a second...", Peter whispered breathlessly, a quiver to his voice that send shivers down Tony's spine.

For a second Tony could only watch, until he saw that Peter was squeezing some of the shards in his shaking hands until crimson blood sprung from where the porcelain cut through his skin.

"Peter!", he exclaimed, alarm in his voice and that single word turned the situation from bad to awful.

~

For a solid week Wade was convinced that he'd never see Spidey again. He had done his deed, returned Peter to his family, fulfilled his purpose.

He had no right to feel... whatever it was that he was feeling. Kinda empty, emptier than usual.

"You miss him!", Domino once exclaimed after listening to Wade's whining for a little to long.

"Oh shut it, Dom! Get outta here with your facts!", he snapped back before throwing a pillow he had been clutching after her.

"At least you're admitting it.", she pointed out, absolutely not helpful.

"You could give him a call, y'know." Wade let out another groan, his hands running over his face.

"It's not that easy! He's home, he's back with his family, he's probably healing or some shit, becoming the person he's supposed to be. How the fuck am I supposed to fit into that picture?", he explained before sitting up again,  his eyes lowered to the ground. "Besides, he made it pretty fucking clear that he didn't need me anymore. "

Wade could feel Domino's eyes on him and he knew that he didn't want to see that fucking look in her eyes, like she pitied him.

"Fuck this!", Wade exclaimed, hauling himself to his feet. "Let's go kill someone, I'm getting stir-crazy up in here!" But before he could even get to his suit his phone started to ring.

A fire lit up in his chest lit up when he saw Peter's name on the screen and died down as soon as he heard Tony's panicked voice on the other side of the line. "I send a jet for you, he needs you."

Chapter Text

Wade couldn't quite remember the flight to Malibu, he was too caught up in his own thoughts and worries. Stark didn't tell him specifically what had happened or why he was needed but right now it didn't really matter anyways. If Peter needed him he'd be there no matter what.

He realized that it had to be real bad when he arrived at the mansion a couple of hours later. Tony Stark looked nothing at all like the suave guy he knew from the media. Right now he looked distraught and exhausted, his eyes were red and puffy and his hair stood up in all directions.

Captain Boyfriend didn't look much better, though he seemed fractionally calmer. "You look like you just woke up in a desert after a bar tour, what happened?", Wade asked, trying to hide the edge in his voice with a joke but not really succeeding.

Tony's eyes wandered around the room for a second, glistening, before they refocused on Wade. "He- he was distant, more so than before, ever since we left but we thought that he needed space, to get used to us but-", his voice broke off and he swallowed, lowering his gaze before squaring up his shoulders and continuing, like he braced himself for something. "He dropped a plate, it shattered, no big deal but-"

"-but he completely freaked out.", Wade finished with a sigh and Tony nodded miserably. Wade let out a deep sigh as he tried to get his mind, and his boxes, to shut the fuck up so that he could form a coherent thought.

"It isn't a big deal to you but it is to him, Peter was abused for the majority of his life, if he does something wrong, even something little, he expects punishment, might even crave it, it's sick. ", Wade mumbled, his hand running over his face.

(And you know all about being sick, don't you?)

[Ohh, someone's talking from experience! Is this the part where we get into your sob story?]

"Why call me, though?", Wade asked, pushing away the voices.

"He asked for you.", Steve replied with a shrug and Wade tried to ignore the little jump his heart made. No, he wasn't supposed to feel happy about this. Peter had to be real fucked up if he asked for him and that was not something to be happy about.

"Okay... can I see him now?", Wade asked, his heart starting to race in his chest.

"Yeah...", Tony sighed, unwinding his crossed arms and leading Wade down the hallway. "He's in his room but watch out, he doesn't react well to touch or... anything. ", he sounded so defeated when he said that and a few seconds later Wade could see why.

He stepped into the dark bedroom, all the curtains were drawn and there was a distressing smell. Sweat and... blood.

It took his eyes a second to get used to the dark and another one to locate Peter. Hanging from the ceiling in one corner, not moving at all, predictable. His body was completely curled up and in the dark it was hard to make out body parts, he was just a ball of limbs and messy brown hair.

"Peter...?", Wade asked quietly, stepping closer. At first he thought that Peter didn't react at all. Only once he stepped closer he heard the frantic mumbling, so quiet that it was hard to make out the words.

It took him a moment to understand but once he did he couldn't unhear it. An endless string of 'Weapons don't weep.', over and over again, his voice was dripping with poison and once Wade stepped right underneath where the boy was hanging, something dripped on his face.

Wade reached for it with a shaking hand and wiped it from his cheek before looking at his fingers. It was blood. No, no, no, no, Fuck. Fuck!

"Peter, what the fuck?!" He didn't think his next step through, it was pure instinct and later on he'd agree that it wasn't the best approach ever. But he wasn't in control, his logic had completely checked out and his emotions took over when he pulled Peter of the wall, not hesitating when the boy went rigid in his arms. Wade tried to place him on his feet but Peter just crumpled to the ground as Wade went for the curtains and pulled them aside, letting the sun in.

He only saw Peter in full light for a second before he literally hissed and scrambled back into the shadows like count Dracula himself. There he curled up on the floor in one corner and now Wade could see where the blood came from.

* He noticed Peter's fingertips first, all tinged with red but his forearms were the truly gory sight. Pale skin, completely ripped to shreds by scratch marks. Suddenly he remembered the red streaks on the boy's arms the last time they saw each other and bile rose to his throat.

"Peter...", Wade whispered into the silence. Peter wasn't looking at him, his eyes were glassy and unseeing, darting around frantically, his chest was heaving and even now he was still clawing at his skin, digging his wounds deeper and deeper. *

"I'm sorry... it won't happen again...", he suddenly whimpered and Wade knew that Peter wasn't talking to him, that in his mind Peter wasn't even here.

"Peter, it's okay... nobody will hurt you.", Wade said carefully while approaching Peter like a wild animal, slowly, his hands raised before him.

"I'm sorry, I- I know... I deserve this- I- please-", his whimpering turned into gasps and choked of sobs and Wade wanted to rip apart everyone that contributed to this.

"Peter, you aren't with HYDRA anymore, remember. I saved you, I brought you to your dad's, you moved to Malibu, remember?" It didn't seem to work and Peter was spiraling more and more out of control.

"Please, I'm sorry- I- no- ple-ease I- dese- deserve this-this, I deserve-", finally he stopped scratching but only because his whaling got too uncontrollable. He wrapped his bloody arms around his head and curled in on himself, rocking slightly as sobs wrecked through his body. "I'm- please- make- stop- plea- Gwe- please-"

Fuck it. Wade couldn't take it anymore. He let himself fall to his knees in front of Peter and pulled him into his lap as gently as he could. Peter didn't struggle against his arms, he went completely slack and while Wade was well aware that Peter was strong enough to break both his arms if he wanted to, he also knew that this could be a sign of exhaustion or submission, not trust.

Still, it was the only thing he knew how to do so he hoped that he wasn't doing more damage as he gently rocked Peter in his arms, repeating an endless loop of 'it's okay, you're save, no one will punish you'

If felt like they sat there for half an eternity or just a few seconds, Wade didn't keep track but eventually Peter's breathing evened out a little and his still unfocused eyes moved to Wade's face.

Then, finally:"Wade?" His voice was paper thin and just as fragile, laced with confusion.

"Hey baby-boy, word on the street is that you're having a bit of a rough time.", Wade tried to sound as gentle as possible and to his relief a weak smile pulled at the corners of Peter's lips.

" If you say so...", he mumbled, already seeming a bit sharper. As soon as he became aware of his position he tensed and Wade released him from his arms. To his relief Peter didn't retreat completely, only curling up a few inches away from Wade, his eyes trained on him.

"Why are you here...", he then asked, neutral. Peter was quick to put up his walls again once he was in control.

"Your dads called me, said you needed my help. ", Wade replied and Peter's reaction was like a punch to the gut. The boy rolled with his eyes before getting up and turning his back on Wade.

"They shouldn't have called you. I'm fine.", he spat and Wade almost laughed out. Instead he got up and his movement was apparently enough of a threat to get Peter to look at him again.

"Yeah, sure. I can see that.", Wade returned, looking at Peter's bloody arms and hands. Peter followed his line of sight and lifted his arms, looking at them like he only noticed his shredded skin now. If he did, he didn't seem fazed by it. Not a good sign.

With a shrug he lowered his hands and returned his eyes towards Wade. "I'll heal.", he said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, like all of this wasn't awful.

"Yeah, that doesn't make this less disturbing.", Wade snapped back, his tone sharper than intended and something lit up in Peter's empty glare.

"If it's so disturbing, maybe you shouldn't look at it, then!", he returned, a dangerous edge to his voice, like a threat or a warning. He crossed his arms behind his back, away from Wade's sight.

"Okay, why are you so agitated right now? If you don't want to see me just say so, no need to get all pissy about it. After all, according to the Tinman you asked for me.", Wade said, pretty irritated by now but it quickly faded when Peter's mask of anger fell, revealing confusion and then something like shame.

"Of course...", Peter smirked but it came of bitter. "I'm the weak link, I snitched on myself.", , he spoke more to himself than Wade, maybe that's why his words made absolutely no sense to him.

"What do you mean?", Wade asked and Peter's eyes refocused on him. He looked defeated, more so than a few seconds ago.

"Fuck it... What do I need dignity for anyways...", he mumbled under his breath before biting his lip. Then:"I need you."

Even though Peter looked like he just told Wade that he drowned baby's for fun Wade's heart almost leapt out of his chest. At first he couldn't even comprehend the words. Peter? Needing him? Wade. Wade Wilson. Really?

But Peter didn't leave much time to contemplate. He started to pace, avoiding Wade's eyes, ruffling through his messed up, greasy hair nervously. "And I know it's fucking selfish and I didn't mean to ask for you, I wanted to be okay by myself, I promise. Is just... I don't even remember asking for you, I don't remember most of... I don't know how much time passed... whatever. The point is, I need you and I know that I have no right to ask you to stay here just because I'm clingy and dependent and too fucking fragile to function. So don't see this as me asking you to stay, don't feel obligated to do so. I couldn't live with myself if you did.", Peter was rambling and with every new word something inside Wade came undone.

"You're fucking with me, right?", he asked at the end of it and Peter stopped in his tracks to shake his head slightly. Wade felt so fucking dumb, like the biggest moron ever.

"Peter, the only reason I left is because I thought that you wanted me gone, I would've never done that if I-"

"Don't.", Peter cut him off shaking his head. "Don't pretend like this is okay, don't pretend like I'm not a huge inconvenience in your life. Don't fucking lie to me! I'm not blind Wade, I am inside my own head when I do these things and I know that they're messed up.

Who in their right mind would voluntarily have someone like me around?! I'm a fucking timebomb! So please, don't fuck with me. I can take a rejection but I can't tolerated your pity."

Wade was dead. He was pretty sure of it. He almost expected Peter to turn into Lady Death and laugh at him for falling for her prank. But no, this was real. Peter was real and he was asking Wade to stay.

(He's begging you to leave, idiot)

Details.

"Peter. I'll say this real slow and as clearly as possible to make sure that you get it through your stubborn head.

I'll stay here, not because I feel responsible for you but because I care about you. I care, much more than is appropriate and I kept my distance because I thought you wanted that.

But the truth is, I fucking missed you. And believe me when I say that I don't pity you, that I don't think that you're a lost cause or a timebomb. Maybe I'm not in my right mind, no, scratch that, I'm definitely batshit crazy but I know what it's like, okay? Believe me I do. And I am here, Peter. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."

Slowly, very slowly Wade stepped closer and closer as he spoke until they were only inches apart and then, carefully, he reached up and cupped Peter's meager face in his hands. His skin was cold against Wade's but he didn't flinch or tense, he leaned into the touche, his eyes fluttering for a second.

"I wish I could believe you...", Peter sighed before meeting Wade's eyes again.

"That's okay. I'll prove it to you with time. Just don't resent me for staying.",Wade asked of him and his heart fluttered in his chest when Peter bit his lip and replied:"I couldn't. I missed you, too, by the way."

Wade couldn't believe that this was really happening, he was scared that if he made a wrong move it would all shatter to pieces so they stayed like that, just looking at each other, Wade rubbing gentle circles over Peter's cheeks with his thumbs.

Chapter Text

Peter hissed but quickly schooled his expression back to neutrality as Wade dabbed a damp piece of cloth against his wounds. They were already closing up so the bandages Wade wrapped around them after cleaning them were really unnecessary.

They were still in the bedroom, Peter didn't feel ready to leave it yet. The thought of facing Tony and Steve after the last couple of days send shivers down his spine. It only now hit him how fucking dysfunctional he had to seem in their mind. It's not like they were wrong either. Peter's behavior was unacceptable and if he didn't get in it line, sooner or later they'd grow tired of him, if they didn't already.

  "Peter, you still with me?", Wade's voice pulled him out of his thoughts and focused his attention back on Wade's worried expression. Peter wanted to believe that Wade actually stayed because he liked him. Obviously he couldn't but Peter still liked to indulge in this fantasy.

"Yeah, why?", he lied. Lying came easy to him, much easier than most things, it was almost second nature.

"You get this glazed over look in your eyes when your thoughts spiral.", Wade explained and Peter nodded slowly. Sounds about right.

"I need to do something...", Peter mumbled to himself, unsure what he even ment by that. Do what? Get a new brain? Undo a decade of HYDRA programming? Walk into the fucking ocean?

"How about a bath?", Wade asked his tone lighthearted but Peter could feel his whole body tense instantly as fear crept up his throat.

Apparently that didn't go by unnoticed because Wade pulled his eyebrows together and took a step back. "Unless that's connected to a certain trauma?", he asked carefully and Peter tried to swallow the lump in his throat before replying.

"Yeah, you could say that." He avoided showering and bathing for days now, only scarcely cleaning himself in the sink and he knew that he was disgusting. He knew that he smelled and that this wasn't healthy. "But I'll have to do it eventually, don't I...", he then said with a weak laugh, wrapping his arms around his shivering body. The wounds on his arms stung when he came into contact with them but he didn't ease up.

"Okay...how about I run you a bath and then you can still decide if you want to do it?", Wade suggested. Peter gave him a shaky nod, not trusting in his ability to speak right now.

Wade left to go to the bathroom next door and Peter was left by himself. The boy desperately tried to hold on to consciousness but memories flashed before his eyes like fireworks. His head under water, his lungs constricting, someone yanking his hair, gasping for air that wouldn't come.

His eyes shot towards his bandaged wrist for a second before he quickly shook his head. It didn't help him before, it wouldn't help him now.

Luckily, in that moment the door of the bathroom opened again and Wade stepped through. "Ready, set, go, it's bubble bath time.", he announced, his tone chipper but Peter could tell that he was tense, too.

"Okay... let's get it over with...", Peter mumbled, hauling himself up and trotting into the bathroom. Wade didn't exaggerate when he mentioned a bubble bath, the large tub was overflowing with white, fluffy-looking foam and it smelled amazing, sweet and fruity, though he couldn't pinpoint what exactly it smelled like.

Peter still wanted to run for the hills. For a solid minute he just stood in the doorway, staring at the tub. "Or we could try a shower if that's better?", Wade suggested.

Memories of being hosed down with ice cold water until he was curled up on the floor, shivering and sobbing popped up. "That's actually worse...", he sighed before forcing himself to go in. He stopped a few inches in front of the bath, watching it as if it would attack him.

"Do you want me to leave?", Wade asked and Peter quickly shook his head.

"No, please, can you talk to me, so that I don't spiral?", he asked and he hated how needy he sounded.

"Sure, let me help you inside.", Wade nodded before approaching him but Peter flinched back, almost fell into the bath.

"Don't touch me-", he hissed in a frenzy and felt bad the second he saw the hurt in Wade's eyes. He covered it up pretty well but it was still there. "Shit, fuck, I'm sorry...", Peter whinced, covering his face with his hands for a few seconds, trying to take calming breaths. He was so sick of having to explain himself. "I- I'm sorry, it's not you, it's just- I know it's irrational but I have this fear that you're going to dunk my head under water and I can't- it's dumb-", he gasped out, he couldn't stand to look at Wade right now. This was all so pathetic.

"Has this happened before?", Wade asked, his voice thick with emotion.

"Yeah?", Peter confessed weakly.

"Then it isn't irrational.", Wade replied gently before taking a few steps back. "I'll just stay on my side of the room, I promise.", he said and Peter wanted to cry again. Wade was so fucking gentle with him, much kinder than Peter was used to and he didn't deserve any of it.

"Okay... thanks. And could you-", shame coiled around his throat, making it hard to speak:" - could you not look at me." Wade turned away, now facing the wall without hesitation and it was embarrassing how relieved Peter was. "Thanks. ", he mumbled before pulling off his shirt and strictly avoiding looking down at himself.

"No problemo baby-boy. Just be careful with the bandages. ", Wade said while Peter continued to undress.

"Sure", he mumbled, stepping into the bath. He didn't let himself hesitate so he didn't even have time to consider what the water would feel like. "It's warm.", he stated before placing his other foot in the water as well.

"Yeah, I hope it's okay.", Wade said from across the room. "Peter wasn't exactly sure what he had expected but it wasn't this. For starters he had assumed that the water would be cold. Slowly, very slowly, he let himself sink into the water until he was sat in it, only his shoulders, arms and head sticking out of the bubbles. It was surprisingly not-awful and with no one near that could drown him Peter felt almost not-panicked, though he would call it calm.

"Peter you still with me?", Wade asked, his tone slightly alarmed. Maybe because Peter didn't say anything in a while.

"Yeah, I'm good, I'm... it's pleasant...", he replied. "Tell me a story?", he then asked and Wade didn't need to hear that twice. He went straight into a story about one of his many outlandish missions.

Peter was only half listening but Wade's voice had a soothing effect while Peter tried to relax. Slowly, very slowly, he eased up a little, the warmth and the smell and the sound of Wade's deep voice all helping him to unwind. For a while he just allowed himself to melt into the warmth. This was okay. This was good.

Then he got to cleaning himself. It was a slow, painful process, especially when it came to washing his hair. Any situation with water near his head wasn't a good one but in the end he managed without getting a full on panic attack, probably because Wade talked him through the whole process.

In the end the water was lukewarm and Peter wasn't sure how long he spend in there. "Okay, I think I'll get out now.", he said before his eyes fell on a red towel that was hanging from the radiator close by. "Can I use that towel?", he asked.

"Of course,  I put it there for you.", Wade agreed, still not facing Peter. "Wait, I'll get you fresh clothes while you dry off.", he then announced before leaving the room, letting Peter have the privacy to step out of the bath and dry himself off.

The towel was warm from the radiator and soft against his skin. Peter avoided looking at the mirrors in the bathroom once he was done drying himself and instead focused on the bandages. They were stained red and had gotten wet anyways so he pulled them off before looking at his wrists in the bright light of the bathroom. They already looked much better. Still bleeding but it didn't look like a wild animal ripped his skin to shreds anymore.

He heard a soft knock on the door and quickly dropped his arm. "Peter, I'll hand in the clothes if you don't mind. I promise I won't look.",Wade announce and Peter swallowed.

"Yeah, okay. " As promised Wade only opened the door wide enough to hand Peter a stack of clothes before closing it again. Underwear, sweatpants, a t-shirt, a hoodie and fuzzy socks. Peter put the underwear, sweats and shirt on. Wade would probably want to replace the bandages and he preferred to be barefoot so he took the rest of the clothes under his arm before stepping out.

Wade was nice enough to draw the curtains a bit more shut again, only letting in a little light. Peter still wasn't used to the sunlight and this mansion was basically made of glass which ment constant sensory overload.

Wade was sitting on the unused bed , his hands folded in his lap. Peter only now noticed that he wasn't wearing his red and black suit but instead a pair of worn black jeans and golden-girls t-shirt. He looked younger like this, his wide shoulders hunched forward, biting his lip nervously. "You took of the bandages.", Wade pointed out.

"They got wet.", Peter explained.

"Wait, I'll get new ones, sit down.", Wade ordered, jumping up from the bed. Peter sat down on it wearily. He couldn't exactly tell why he hadn't slept in it yet, maybe because sleep was the enemy in general, or maybe he didn't want to let himself believe that this was his new life in fear if losing it, or maybe it all came down to his conviction that he didn't deserve any of this. Peter let out a deep sigh. God, he was so fucking tired.

Wade kneeled down in front of him and waited until Peter held out his arm, making sure that Peter was okay with being touched. He wasn't, but that didn't really matter. Wade quickly wrapped his wrists up again and by the time he was finished Peter's  eyes were falling shut.

"I think the bath made me tired...", Peter slurred before letting himself fall back into the bed, it was soft, like a marshmallow, or at least that's how he imagined one, he'd never eaten them before. 

"Or maybe it was the 24/7 panic.", Wade smirked slightly before carefully lifting Peter and putting him into the center of the bed, his head resting on the pillows. Peter was too tired to protest and he didn't really care at moment.

Instead he smiled lazily:"Yeah, maybe." He let Wade tuck him in until he was a warm and soft burrito-person.

"Try to get a bit of rest.", Wade said softly.

"Can you stay in the room...", Peter mumbled almost asleep.

"Of course, whatever you need, baby boy...",Wade smiled and Peter let out a content sigh.

"Thanks Gwen.", with that everything faded to black and Peter fell into a soothing dreamless slumber.

~

Wade sat on an armchair in one corner of the room until he was completely convinced that Peter was asleep and only then he let himself step out onto the hallway.

Several hours had passed since he entered the room and the Superdads were probably desperate for an update.

After that Wade would probably try for a nap as well. Wade could feel exhaustion kicking in but it wasn't completely awful. It was just a  long, long day but he tried to be optimistic about it. After all Peter didn't want him gone, he got him to take a bath and sleep in his bed and his wounds would be all gone in a few hours. Sure, Peter mistook Wade for his dead friend for a second but that wasn't the worst association to have. Think positive.

(Nice try, buddy)

Tony Stark jumped up from his spot on the couch the second Wade entered the livingroom. "How is he?", he asked alarmed and something tugged at Wade's heartstrings. It wasn't exactly envy but Wade couldn't help but to wonder how it felt to have parents that actually cared about you.

"Better. For now. He's asleep.", he replied but neither Stark nor the Captain seemed relieved by that so Wade went into an explanation of what went down. He kept it as brief as possible, holding back all the gory details. "I got him lucid, got him to take a bath and sleep in his bed. We talked for a bit, too but he was too tired in the end. Bottom line is, I'm staying here."

Wade braced himself for an argument, that's why he didn't quite understand when Tony nodded and said:"Yeah, okay, we'll get you a room ready."

"Wait. Just like that?", Wade stammered. 

"You obviously put him somewhat at ease. He doesn't trust us. I don't know if he even trust you but you're definitely closer. I'm not going to sabotage his recovery by cutting you off.", Tony explained simply and Wade was completely  dumbfounded. The dedication of these two was unheard of, at least according to Wade's life experiences.

"Needless to say, if you hurt him you'll wish that you could die.", Steve stated, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"I alread do- wait, how do you know that I'm immortal?", Wade asked surprised.

"We looked you up. We won't let just anyone interact with my son.", Tony said with a shrug and Wade's eyebrows shot up.

"And you consider me appropriate?"

"Not really but we were desperate.", Tony confessed. "So what else can you tell us?", the hopelessness was gone, replaced by determination, it was a good look for the Tinman.

"He- he shouldn't be left by himself if possible. I don't know if you noticed..."

"He's hurting himself.", Steve finished gravely.

"So you knew, didn't you try to stop him?", Wade asked, only a little accusatory.

"Well...", Tony sighed before lifting up his shirt, revealing that the right side of his ribcage was just one large bruise, purple and agonizing. It was a wonder that the guy was even standing.

"He's really strong.", Steve clarified as if Wade wasn't aware of that.

"Okay, well I think that it would already help if we kept him mostly lucid. As far as I can tell it's more of a compulsive thing right now, he didn't even seem aware of it. If he stays present it might be easier to keep him from harming himself.

Though, we should also consider that he's using this as a form of self inflicted punishment. That's one of the more pressing issues. We have to get him to stop acting like a prisoner.

That includes getting some agency up in this bitch so that he'll take care of himself but also get him to believe that he doesn't deserve pain. Have you got a therapist for him already?"

(Look at you, pretending to be responsible.)

[Who the fuck are you kidding, you can't even take care of yourself!]

"We are still searching but we haven't mentioned it to him yet.", Steve replied.

"He might not like the idea of it but the sooner he starts the better.", Wade nodded.

(HYPOCRITE)

"Who knows about him?"

"We're keeping it under wraps for now. A handful of people, not more. Us three and a couple of friends.", Tony said.

"Good.", Wade nodded. He could feel the tiredness creep into his limbs, making them heavy. "That's all for now, I'll go back to his room and crash in the chair, I promised to stay with him.", he then excused himself to return to Peter.

He was still asleep when Wade returned, Peter rarely looked this peaceful. His damp hair, now all clean and fluffy, was staring to curl like crazy. Wade felt a soft smile tug at his lips.

(You don't deserve him.) "Fuck you...", he whispered  but his heart wasn't in it. His heart was with Peter.

After a few more seconds he sat down in one of the armchairs and shortly after, sleep claimed him as well.

Chapter Text

Wade couldn't remember what the dream was about but when he woke up with a racing heart and in cold sweat he figured that it must've been a nightmare. It took him a few seconds to orient himself but then his eyes fell on Peter and he remembered. He was in Peter's room, in Malibu, and he'd stay here, because Peter wanted him to stay. His heart skipped a beat.

"You had a nightmare.", Peter stated. He was sitting in bed, his legs pulled to his chest and chin placed on his knees. He looked better than a few hours ago when Wade had found him. Clean and a little more rested, not as feral and bloody. Peter's face was expressionless, like so often and Wade wondered if he was naturally that way or if HYDRA did that to him.

"Yeah, sorry to break it to you but you aren't special in that regard.", Wade smirked before sitting up more and stretching. He was a little stiff from sleeping in the chair but it was fine. "I hope I didn't wake you up.", he then said, worry creeping in. Wade knew that he could be a bit of a screamer, too and he wouldn't want to be the one to disrupt Peter's sleep.

Peter softly shook his head. "No. I was awake already.", he said before slipping out of the bed. The boy then suddenly stopped and Wade could see why, he was staring at his bandaged wrist. The white bandage was soaked with red in a way it shouldn't be, considering Peter's healing abilities.

"Shit...", Peter sighed before his eyes shot up to meet Wade's. God, how he hated the fear that he found in Peter's eyes. "I didn't mean to, I swear.", he quickly said, his voice already quivering slightly. Wade felt another storm approach and he really wanted to avoid that.

[He wasn't wrong about the time bomb thing]

"Don't worry, it's not your fault.", he quickly said and Peter looked marginally calmer. Wade got up to get another wet towel and more bandages from the bathroom. When he returned Peter still sat at the same spot, his eyes tracking Wade carefully.

Wade knelt down in front of him and once again waited until Peter held out his arm to make sure that it was okay. His left arm was fine, actually it was completely healed so Wade removed the bandages. The right one was bleeding and even if it wasn't as bad as yesterday, it looked fresh. Peter didn't flinch when Wade cleaned the wound and wrapped it up again, he didn't move at all, his eyes were glassy. Fuck.

"Peter?", he asked and Peter's focus was back on him again.

"Yeah?"

"Does this make you uncomfortable?", Wade asked. From what he witnessed, Peter seemed to check out when a situation became unmanageable for whatever reason. The problem was that it was hard to tell if Peter had checked out or if he was just in thought. Peter's eyebrows drew together.

"What do you mean?"

"Me touching you.", Wade replied, looking down at Peter's arm in his hand and Peter did the same. He didn't answer for a while, only staring at their hands, like he was trying to solve a riddle.

"Does it matter?", he finally asked, looking up at Wade.

"Of course it does. If I, or anyone else, makes you uncomfortable you have to say that and we'll stop.", Wade tried to be patient and not make a big deal out of Peter's total lack of autonomy, it wasn't easy though.

"Okay...", Peter said but Wade wasn't sure how much he actually believed him. He didn't take his arm back, though and Wade couldn't tell if that was a good or a bad sign. His eyes landed back on the bandage and he figured he might as well ask now.

"The scratching. Are you aware of that while you do it?" This caused Peter to actually pull back the arm and sigh, burrying his face in his hands.

"Yes and no.", he finally said when Wade already suspected that he wouldn't get an answer. Peter dropped his hands and looked at Wade with an exhaustion that couldn't be cured with sleep. "Sometimes I don't notice that I'm doing it. When I'm stressed, which is always-", he dared to smirk slightly. "I didn't do it on purpose this time, I swear."

"But there are times you do it on purpose?", Wade asked carefully and Peter was chewing his lip, searching for the right words.

"Yes, but I'm in a different mindset. I- I feel like I'm back at HYDRA and that I- I did something wrong and that I need to get punished. And when I don't-"

"-you do it yourself.", Wade finished his sentence and Peter nodded. "Okay...", Wade sighed out. "We'll work on that. But not right now." With that Wade got up and Peter mirrored his moves, getting up as well.

"What are we doing right now?", Peter asked and Wade faced him again. His hair was pretty curly right now but it was still wildly hanging in his face and had no definitive length or style.

"I'll cut your hair. You look like a sasquatch.", he announced. "Unless that makes you uncomfortable."

"I don't know what a sasquatch is but I guess it ain't good.", Peter commented before reaching into his hair and pulling down a single strand to look at it. "And I don't mind. It's bothering me anyways."

"Perfect! Sit down, I'll get the utensils.",Wade smiled before getting a comb and some scissors out of the bathroom. When he returned Peter was obediently sitting in the chair. "Any wishes?", Wade asked, his tone chipper.

"HYDRA kinda just shaved it off when it got too long.", Peter shrugged.

"And are we fans of the buzz cut?", Wade asked and Peter glanced up at him with a small smirk.

"Take a wild guess."

"Look at you! Having an opinion! I'm so proud.", Wade grinned before he began to comb through Peter's hair.

"Have you done this before?", Peter asked and Wade hummed slightly.

"On myself when I still had hair. Vanessa also taught me a few tricks."

Her name just slipped out and Wade almost cringed when Peter asked:"Who's Vanessa?"

"Dead Ex-Girlfriend.", Wade replied and Peter went tense under his hands.

"Uhh...sorry?", Peter mumbled.

"No reason to be. Wasn't your fault but mine.", Wade said, keeping his tone calm.

(Yeah you fucking killed her.)

Wade started to cut Peter's hair and for a moment they were both silent, the snipping of the scissors was the only sound between them. Until Peter worked up the courage to ask another question. "What happened?"

"Some goons, doesn't matter who. They were after me and Vanessa got hit in the crossfire.", Wade replied. Almost a year had passed but it still felt like it happened yesterday.

"I'm sorry about that. Wasn't your fault though.", Peter said simply and Wade had to chuckle slightly. "What's so funny?", Peter asked, turning his head slightly.

"You're a hypocrite, that's what. ", Wade replied. "You're much easier on everyone but yourself."

"You mean Gwen?" Even though he didn't outright state it, yet, Wade could tell that Peter blamed himself for whatever happened to his friend, he recognized guilt when he saw it.

"Yeah."

Peter let out a heavy sigh. "Gwen is different. It's my fault. I didn't fail to protect her, I literally killed her.",he then said and Wade stopped cutting for a second.

Wade didn't know many details of what happened to Peter, the boy still didn't give them permission to read the file. But Peter had told him that there had been brainwashing and that they had trained him. That's why he wasn't sure if Peter only made himself responsible for Gwen's death or if he literally killed her.

"Literally as in Literally?", Wade asked. He couldn't see Peter's face but if the tension was anything to go by, Peter was agitated.

"Literally as in, I ripped her apart with my bare hands.", his voice was toneless. A beat of silence. Wade didn't have an issue with violence in of itself but it was weird to imagine Peter as the source. Especially the version he knew.

Then Wade caught himself. "That wasn't really you though, was it?", he asked. He couldn't imagine that the real Peter was capable of that and surely enough he shook his head slightly.

"No. But does it matter? I was too weak to resist their programming. Her blood is on my hands. Literally."

"Of course it makes a difference. But you'll get it in time.", Wade commented and Peter shrugged slightly.

"If you say so." Another beat of silence before Peter added. "Can you keep this to yourself? Please?" Wade could hear how hard Peter tried to control his tone, to keep it calm, it was almost convincing.

"Of course, baby boy. ", he replied gently.

"And don't worry... I... I'm not going to kill myself over this. I'll live with it.", Peter then said and Wade couldn't help but to stop once more. This was a dangerous topic, dangerous for multiple reason but most importantly because Wade wanted to keep Peter as far a way from contemplating suicide as he could.

"Have you thought about it before?", Wade asked carefully, resuming his haircut. The answer wasn't really shocking, though it didn't make it any less gut wrenching.

"Yeah, sure. They kinda got off an hearing me beg for it.",he said with a casualty that startled Wade, not because it was foreign but because it was so goddamn familiar.

(That's exactly how fucked up you seem to others. )

He had arrived at a weird point in the conversation. Peter was far more communicative than usual and if he wanted to talk about this Wade really didn't want to stop him. But this whole topic was a minefield of possible catastrophes. Still, he dared to ask the next question."Did you ever try to-"

"Kill myself?", Peter asked before letting out a huff. "Yeah. About two or three times. Maybe more. I don't remember.", it was too casual, too conversational and Wade suddenly realized how he sounded to other people.

[Fucking told ya!]

"Obviously it didn't work out. As I said, I heal.", Peter smirked slightly. It didn't seem bitter but that didn't help to calm Wade down.

"He has an expiration date, and it might be sooner than you think." Death's words rattled through Wade's head, taunting him.

Peter laid his head back to look at Wade and Wade quickly had to school his expression back to his regular face. "I don't want to die, though. I need you to know that. Not right now." He seemed sincere and it was embarrassing how relived Wade was.

"Let me know if that ever changes. I'll kidnap you to a waffle house to change your mind on any day.", Wade tried to joke and Peter picked up on it.

"Is that all I gotta do to get you to take me out? Say that I crave death?", Peter smirked and Wade's eyebrows shot up.

"Take me out... was that a murder pun?!"

"Maybe.", Peter shrugged with a small grin and Wade already felt less awful.

"Love that. And no, I trust you to not take advantage of my compassion."

"I would never.", Peter said sarcastically and now Wade had to smile as well. With that he finished Peter's haircut and brushed away the loose hairs that stuck to his neck and his clothes.

"All done. You wanna see it?", Wade asked and Peter already got up.

"I prefer to not look at myself. Describe it to me.", he said before letting his hands wander through it.

"Well, I cut it pretty short at the back and at the sides but left it long on top. Because your curls are cute.", Wade winked.

Peter cracked a small smile before nodding. "Yeah I feel that. "

"You feel that your curls are cute?", Wade chuckled and Peter rolled with his eyes but still kept on smiling.

"No, you goof. I ment the length!", he snapped back before dropping his hands back to his sides. "Thank you, Wade." It was one of these rare open moments where Peter didn't try to conceal anything and everytime it happened Wade yearned for more.

"For what?", he asked because he wasn't sure what exactly Peter ment.

"I don't know.", the boy shrugged. "Everything, kinda. But right now it's the hair. Thanks for that. And for listening to me."

"Wouldn't have it any other way."

Chapter Text

"I'm just saying, sending Steve on that mission was a smart move but sooner or later Fury will demand to know why you're hiding."

Peter didn't recognize the women's voice but when he crept a step further into the workshop he could see her face on the large screen Tony was sitting in front of. She looked quite uptight and proper, her strawberry blond hair pulled back into a tight knot, a little crease between her eyebrows as she spoke.

Tony looked anything but. His father looked like he hadn't slept at all, hair disheveled, face burried in his hands. "Yeah, yeah...", he sighed before looking up again. "I know, just...try to give us as much time as possible. I don't think that he's ready to deal with anyone else. Hell, he isn't even ready to deal with us, not to mention Fury."

Peter pressed closer to the wall but didn't leave. He knew that he shouldn't be here, he knew that he would probably get into a lot of trouble for it later. He should go back to his room where Wade had fallen back asleep and pretend that he never left it in the first place. Peter didn't, though. He stayed in the shadows.

"You know, I got you.", the woman said before pausing for a second. "Tony, how are you dealing with all of this?"

Peter wasn't sure what he was expecting to hear. That Tony was sick of him? That he regretted taking him in? That he should've stayed with HYDRA? "I just don't want to do wrong by him but... Fuck... Pepper, I don't know what to do! I- You know what I'm like, you know what I've been like. I can't- I don't know what the right thing is- I don't-", his voice broke off then and Peter watched him lower his head again.

Peter felt a twinge in his chest when he heard that. He was fucking up Tony's life, he was aware of that. It was still worse to hear it laid out like that.

"Tony, I-", the woman he called Pepper started but Tony shook his head.

"No... nevermind. I'll figure it out. Is that all?", he asked, sounding exhausted. Pepper bit down on her lip for a moment before straightening up a little bit.

"Harley called, a lot. You wanted to come over for some robotics thing?", she then asked.

"Shit, fuck, I totally forgot. I- I'll call him.", Tony groaned and pepper nodded.

"Okay. I'll call you if there are any updates.", Pepper agreed before ending the call. Tony only allowed himself a minute of burying his face in his arms before sitting up again.

"Friday? Call Harley.", he called and the AI system that seemed to be running this house did as it was told. Harley turned out to be a boy, a little younger that Peter and Tony and him seemed familiar.

"What's up, Mechanic? Why you ghosting me?", the boy smirked.

"Since when are we getting clingy, kid?", Tony smirked but there was such a fondness in his tone, it made something in Peter ache.

"Me? Clingy? Get the fuck outta here, old man. I was just worried that you'd bit the dust.", the boy chuckled but it didn't quite reach his eyes.

"Unfortunately, no. I've just been drowning in work and I'm sorry that I missed your function. It won't happen again.", Tony apologized genuinely.

The kid smiled crookedly, his eyes downcast, before looking into the camera again. "I'm forgive you... but also, my robotics team could use a dontation.", he said cheekily.

Tony let out a laugh before leaning back in his chair. "You got it, Kit. Speak to you next week?"

"If you don't forget about me, old man.", Harley said with a grin before ending the call.

The workshop was silent as Tony spun around in his chair, his head laid back lazily. Something like guilt and a tiny bit of jealousy bubbled up in Peter. The guilt was familiar, Peter could deal with it. It was the jealousy that he wasn't prepared to handle. Peter wasn't used to wanting things, he couldn't afford to do that so he pushed it all away.

"Peter?"

Peter flinched violently at the mention of his name and only now noticed that his father had spotted him. He expected anger, disappointment, screaming and braced himself for exactly that. When Tony didn't even make a move towards him Peter wasn't sure how to react.

Tony didn't look angry, or disappointed. Mostly he looked surprised and a little relieved. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to eavesdrop.", Peter said before forcing himself to step out of the shadows.

"It's okay... I'm just glad to see you out again. You look...better.", Tony said with the faintest smile pulling at his lips.

Peter let his hand slide through his hair nervously. "Yeah...Wade gave me a new haircut."

"Where is your chatty friend?", Tony asked.

"Asleep. Where's Steve?" Peter hadn't seen his father's boyfriend anywhere in the mansion when he was previously ghosting through the hallways.

"He was called to an Avengers mission.", Tony replied and Peter nodded slowly because he wasn't sure what else to do. That's what the call must've been about.

"And you?", Peter asked, letting out a dry laugh. "Are you doing damage control?" The joke fell flat, as expected and Tony pulled a face.

"No, no of course not Peter..."

"It's okay. You can be honest, I don't mind. I know that I'm an obstacle. No point in denying it.", Peter shrugged.

"Peter...", Tony sighed, his tone pleading. "You need to stop talking down on yourself. You're not a burden." Peter heard the words but the bounced off of him without leaving an impact.

"Yeah... whatever.", Peter mused. "What about the boy? Harley? You seem close. Is he your replacement child?" Peter regretted asking the second he saw Tony's face fall. This was definitely the wrong thing to say, he had crossed a line.

"Peter, Harley is just-", Tony then hurried to explain himself.

"Kidding! I was kidding, don't worry!", Peter exclaimed with a forced smile. "It's fine."

"Are you sure?", Tony asked, obviously not entirely convinced but Peter nodded eagerly, desperately trying to erase his previous mistake.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. I'll- I'll leave now...", Peter mumbled, turning away hesitantly.

"Wait!", Tony called out and jumped up. Peter froze before turning towards him again. Again, he braced himself for punishment, for violence, for the consequences. Again, it didn't come.

"I could make you breakfast?", Tony suggested with a careful smile. Peter's words got stuck in his throat, whatever they were. But he managed to nod anyways.

~

"We need to set some rules." Tony regretted his word choice the moment he saw Peter tense up.

Peter had insisted on inviting Wade to have breakfast with them. Tony didn't mind. Wade was the one that got him to leave his room and Tony was incredibly relieved to see that Peter actually looked better. He had a new haircut, bathed and even though his bandaged wrist was concerning, he seemed rested.

Tony managed to ignore the envy that crept up deep inside of him. Envy because Wade could help Peter when he couldn't. Tony told himself that he didn't care who Peter drew support from as long as he got it from anyone at all. Even if it wasn't him.

At the mention of rules Peter automatically drew his shoulders up to his ears and Wade glared at Tony. "Not rules... suggestions. They aren't set in stone and you won't be punished for not following them. Don't worry.", Tony quickly clarified, desperate to wipe the anxious expression off his son's face.

Peter calmed down ever so slightly, relieving some of the tension in his shoulders and grasping the cup of hot chocolate in front of him. He didn't drink it, he only clasped the mug like he was trying to warm his hands. "Like what?", he asked meekly.

Tony took a deep breath, collecting his thoughts and the words he had prepared. This would've been so much easier with Steve present but Fury demanded him for a mission. They hadn't told any if the Avengers about Peter yet. Only Pepper, Happy and Rhodey knew so they had no excuse to be absent.

"For starters, food." Peter pulled a face, still not looking at Tony. He didn't let that stop him, though. "You can eat whatever and whenever you like as long as you eat. You don't have to ask for permission and if you want anything specific you can just ask for it and we'll get it for you." Peter eyed him wearily, like he wasn't quite believing him. But at last, he nodded.

"Okay. Great. The other thing is that we need you to tell us how you feel.",Tony continued and to his surprise Peter scoffed, rolling with his eye.

"Yeah. I'll let you know what they are once I figure them out myself.", he said sarcastically, his eye focused on his drink again.

Tony's eyes glanced over at Wade but the other man only gave him a helpless shrug. "You- We don't expect you to talk about anything that happened... for now. All I'm asking of you is to tell us when something makes you uncomfortable.", Tony tried to rephrase it. He was met with a puzzled expression, narrowed eyes, furrowed eyebrows. He thought of Harley and how Peter waved him off, not seeming genuine at all.

"Why?", Peter then asked and Tony was yet again baffled at how Peter didn't seem to notice how awfully sad that sounded.

"Because you deserve to be comfortable. And if anything bothers you, whatever it is, you should tell us, Steve, Wade or me. We'll take care of it.", Tony explained, desperately trying to keep the quiver out of his voice.

Peter still only stared at him, confusion painted on his face. His eyes were distant as he was contemplating Tony's words. Then, very slowly, he shifted in his seat leaning forward a bit, his focus back on his father. "So... if I... let's say I don't... like...maybe I don't like it when...fuck..."

Confusion morphed to frustration in an instant as Peter struggled to express what he was feeling. He let out a groan before dropping his head and stroking through his hair frantically, pulling slightly at it.

Wade reached out and placed a gentle hand on Peter's shoulder, or he tried to. Peter flinched away and Wade pulled his hand back immediately.

"That. ", Peter breathed out, his voice shaky, eyes downcast. "Touch. I-I don't always- Can't stand it sometimes.", he stammered. He looked up, his eyes shooting from Tony to Wade and back. They were wide, frantic, terrified of their reaction.

"Peter...", Wade sighed and suddenly Peter was on his feet. He stormed over to the door and for a second Tony thought that he'd run off but Peter stayed in the room. That didn't mean that Peter didn't seem incredibly distressed. He had put as much space as possible between himself and Tony and Wade and started to pace anxiously, every muscle strung tight. He fisted his hair with both his hands until his knuckles turned white.

"Peter...?", Tony asked carefully and this time he stilled, jerking his arms over his head like he expected them to lash out, to attack him. It made Tony's gut twist.

"It was stupid... I'm sorry... Forget that I said anything...", he whimpered, his whole body trembling like he would come apart any second.

"Peter...", Tony persisted, his tone far calmer than he felt. "You have a right to chose what happens to yourself. If you don't want anyone to touch you, then nobody will touch you. And whatever else you need, we'll take care of it."

Peter stopped shaking before carefully lowering his arms. "You're not mad?", he asked, so terribly unsure of himself, his eyes bloodshot.

"No, of course not...", Tony softly shook his head. Peter wrapped his arms around his body tightly before nodding shakily.

"Okay... I'm okay.", he mumbled. "Anything else?"

Tony took a step back, trying to give him more space. "No, that's all...", Tony said.

"Okay...I think I'll... Can I lay down for a bit?", Peter asked, his eyes not meeting Tony's.

"Sure."

Peter didn't wait to hear that twice, this time he really made a run for it, leaving Tony and Wade in the kitchen. "Did I mess this up as badly as I think?", Tony asked, still staring at the closed door.

"Yeah, but you also managed to recover somewhat. An overall 5 star rating.", Wade replied but he was lacking his regular chipper tone.

"Of 10? Definitely air for improvement. ", Tony remarked.

"Yeah, but you'll figure it out.", Wade said, though Tony wasn't sure how convincing he was. Wade clapped Tony on the back before following Peter out, leaving Tony by himself again.

Chapter Text

Despite the dramatic end of their last conversation Peter seemed to get somewhat better in the following days.

Asking for food or just taking it was still an issue but when offered he ate. He left his room more and more, spend time in the living room where he curled up on the couch and watched every movie Wade suggested.

So far they stuck to teen movies and chic flicks because those were less likely to be triggering. Wade didn't tell Peter that that was the reason he picked them, though. He pretened like he was just trying to get Peter caught up on millenial and gen z pop culture.

"How will you ever understand my references if you don't experience it for yourself?", Wade smirked. He sat on one end of the couch while Peter sat on the other, more than enough space between them.

That was something they all started to pay more attention to. Giving Peter space. Wade would sit down first and then Peter would choose what he was comfortable with. On some days he was several feet away, on others mere inches but they never touched, nobody touched Peter.

Wade couldn't even begin to initiate anything without an endless loop playing in his mind, while his boxes taunted him. It was Peter, on the brink of a panic attack because he dared to ask for space, again and again.

So they didn't touch, and Wade moved with caution, just like everyone else did.

Wade was sure that Peter registered the change in behavior. Especially since the boy continuously observed everyone around him like a hawk.

Wade knew why he did, hell, he sometimes still did the same, but it could be a bit unnerving from time to time. Wade always felt watched, he could tell that Peter was only paying half his attention to whatever they were doing, the other half occupied with observing the room.

Peter didn't mention their shift, at least not for a couple of days. Then he did.

Peter was sitting on a stool in the kitchen, if you could call whatever he was doing sitting. One of his legs was tugged underneath him while he had pulled the other one to his chest, wrapping one arm around it and leaning his head on his knee. Like a fucking folding chair. Wade couldn't see how this was comfortable or practical in any way.

Wade made waffles, even if Peter didn't state it, the way he shoveled them down on a daily basis indicated that this had become his favorite food.

While Wade was cooking Peter pretended to read an online article while (not at all) subtly watching Wade, as always.

Wade made a point to make all his movements as predictable and non threatening as possible, as always.

"Is it always going to be like this now?", Peter suddenly asked and at first Wade genuinely didn't get what he ment.

"Yeah baby boy, I'm gonna make Waffles for you until you won't be able to even look at one without getting the pukes.", he smirked before glancing back at Peter.

He had stopped pretend-reading and pushed away the tablet, narrowing his eyes at Wade now. "That's not what I ment.", he stated and Wade raised an eyebrow.

"What did you mean?" Peter lowered his eyes for a second and Wade could tell that he was contemplating if bringing it up, whatever it was  was worth it.

Eventually his curiosity seemed to win like it often did, a quality that was almost a miracle in Wade's mind. Curiousity in face of fear rarely survived for long.

Peter chewed on his lip before looking up at Wade. "The whole eggshell thing. You know?", He asked sheepishly and it slowly started to dawn on Wade what he ment. "I mean Tony and Steve always kinda did it but... not you. Not all the time, not like now."

He didn't look at him any longer as he admitted to that, his eyes downcast, almost looking embarrassed.

(You fucked up, my dude)

[Yeah treat him like a baby, it makes you real popular in his books]

(Though I gotta say, what does he expect if he behaves like one? I mean he's a pathetic, whiny excuse for a-)

"I'm sorry!", Wade gasped out, trying to suppress the wicked snarl of his boxes. Peter's eyes shot up at that, his eyebrows pulling together.

"No.", he then said and Wade was so taken aback by the blunt response that he raised his eyebrows in surprise. It was so unlike Peter's usually timid behavior. It reminded him a bit more of how he was like when they first met. He was sharper then, not intelligence wise but in his tone. Not that he was ever particularly snappy but recently he had really quieted down.

Wade had brought it up to Tony and Steve but without consulting with Peter on the topic (which never went well) neither of them knew what to make of that.

Peter didn't seem to notice Wade's surprise, or maybe he just didn't care to address it. Instead he went on. "No. You don't need to apologize. I get why you're doing it. I mean, I haven't been the most stable of guys and I know that nobody would expect me to be durable to any capacity." His response was accompanied by a dry, humorless laugh and Wade's chest ached.

"Peter, you aren't weak.", Wade stated without hesitation and this time Peter was the one to freeze for a second.

"I didn't call myself weak."

"I read between the lines.", Wade shrugged, really hoping that he didn't say the wrong thing. "You shouldn't talk down on yourself like that."

Peter let out a huff and rolled with his eyes. "What? Like you don't?", he asked and again Wade was stunned. Not that Peter had actually hurt his feelings or anything. And it wasn't a particularly eye opening statement either. Wade was very aware of his own hypocrisy. It was surprising that the words came from Peter. Either he had gained a whole lot of confidence in a really short amount of time or he was really fucking annoyed with how things were going.

"Whatever." , Peter sighed, pulling a face and for a second Wade feared that Peter was about to budge, drop the topic, retreat back into himself. But no, surprise again, Peter wasn't ready to drop the topic, yet. "That's not what I wanna talk anot anyways. I get why you're doing it and I appreciate it, I really do. That's why it's so hard to explain why I need you to stop doing it. The three feet distance you keep, the overcorrected movements, the announcing what you'll do next, the meaningful looks with Tony and Steve, it's all kind of driving me nuts.", he explained, an urgency in his voice that was new and thrilling, because it sounded alive and sharp and much more honest than his usually too calm demeanor.

It reminded Wade of motels and laying by the pool under the night sky and breathless laughter mixed with tears. But still, it didn't mean that Wade knew what to do now. "Baby boy, if you want me to stop doing all of that, I will. But is this really what you want?"

Peter let out a sigh, stroking through his hair nervously before quickly unfolding himself and jumping from his seat. He started to pace, three steps to the right, three steps to the left, repeat. "No?", he then said, giving Wade a questioning look, not stopping his movement. "I don't know, man. That's the issue. I can't predict when it'll be too much and when I'll be able to handle it. Anything could be a... What you call it again?", Peter asked, snapping with his fingers as he tried to remember the word.

"Trigger?", Wade asked and Peter nodded, continuing his frantic journey up and down the kitchen.

"Yes, no idea what could trigger me next but I don't want to live in a bubble, I don't want to be a tough subject, a 'too soon', I want more."

Suddenly he stopped, his eyes on Wade, big and lit up with frustration and pain but also something else. Something soft and bittersweet. Something like need.

"I want to actually start living but I don't know if I can take it." His confession stood between them like a boulder, it demanded all the space between them, all the space in the room and suddenly Peter was short of breath and so was Wade, like it was suffocating them.

What do you say to that? Fucking sucks, man. It be like that sometimes? Peter's words ment something, his feelings ment something. Wade never knew how to be meaningful.

Peter didn't wait on an answer, though. "I want to try it, though.", he stated and suddenly the wall was gone and Peter was coming closer, step by step.

Wade wasn't sure why he was freaking out, Peter had been close to him in the past days, too. They had sat next to each other, close, even if they didn't touch. But Peter was showing no signs of stopping and Wade didn't know what this ment, so he froze, like all the time the last few days. Don't move too quick, don't intimidate, don't scare him off, don't don't don't.

Peter didn't stop. Not until they were only a few inches apart, not until Wade could feel Peter's breath on his face, almost so close that Wade could lean in and-

"You look like a deer caught in headlights.", Peter than smirked, no, smiled, an actual smile and Wade noticed for the first time that Peter had the tiniest dimples when he smiled.

It suddenly struck him how beautiful Peter was. And not just because he finally started to look alive, slowly gaining weight and muscle, looking less and less sickly and neglected.

Physical beauty had long lost meaning to Wade, Vanessa had taught him that it didn't matter, not really. No, his beauty didn't stem from his appearance.

It was this: Peter who was punished for everything for half his life, brave enough to state his feelings. It was the fear in his eyes but the daring sparkle that mixed in with it. It was a promise that neither of them spelled out because it would be to big, to daunting. Peter would try. He would try and he would dare and he would succeed, eventually.

"I don't want to overwhelm you.", Wade hushed, afraid to break the moment, for whatever it was, it was fragile.

A tilt of his head, a nervous breath. "You're scared to break me." It wasn't a question, or a accusation but Wade nodded anyways. Peter's smile didn't falter. "You won't."

"You can't know that.", Wade said and he hated that he knew that it was true. Peter lowered his eyes, but only for a moment, then they met Wade's again, full of nervous excitement.

"I know. Don't moved until I tell you to, okay?" And before Wade knew what was happening Peter leaned into him, their torsos pressing together. Peter slung his arms around Wade's waist and leaned his head against his shoulder and Wade didn't move. Not a muscle, not until Peter told him to.

When he did Wade was careful, painfully careful as he wrapped his arms around Peter gently when all he wanted to do was give him an embrace with all his strength and adoration, never letting go. But he couldn't do that, so he took it slow as Peter clung to him.

It was perfect, whatever Peter was willing to give was perfect and for one moment it was quiet in Wade's head. It were only Peter and him. "I miss the first day sometimes, as crazy as that sounds.", Peter breathed into Wade's ear. "I didn't have anything to loose then, I had less fear."

"But also less hope.", Wade pointed out and he wished he could see Peter's face but didn't dare to move.

"Yes. I'm afraid hope and fear go hand in hand.", Peter then said and a smile pulled at Wade's lips.

"How philosophical of you, Petey-Pie, did they teach you that at HYDRA?" A chuckle shook through Peter's body and Wade could feel Peter's chest shake against his.

"Yeah, the two important lessons of life, how to kill the mood and how to kill. Period.", he returned.

"Those are my two favorite hobbies.", Wade smirked and Peter chuckled again and god, Wade was a lost fucking cause.

Because even though everything about Peter spelled out danger, pain and uncertainty, said 'don't get attached', 'not again' and 'he has an expiration date' , even though Wade was painfully aware of all of all of that, he was addicted. Addicted to making Peter happy or if he couldn't make him happy then just a bit less miserable. Of having him in his arms and if that was too much than at least in his life and always in his heart.

Peter was addictive and Wade knew that he'd be his ruin, but he'd been ruined before, it was worth it.

Chapter Text

It took some time but Peter slowly started to settle into a routine. At first it was just get up, eat, ghost around, eat, pretend to watch a movie, pretend to read, pretend to listen, pretend.

That helped his mental state as much as you'd imagine, which is not at all. So he started to do things to keep himself actually occupied.

After he had gained some weight and strength Tony agreed that going to the gym might help him get healthier. The great thing that came with having Captain America as a step dad was that the training equipment was designed for someone with super strength, someone like Peter. It helped, it was exhausting but the physical strain pulled him out of his mind and into his body.

Peter continued to watch movies with Wade and actually tried to pay attention to the plot. He tried to participate, be less of a ghost. It was tiring but Peter hoped that it would be worth it in the long run. Fake it 'till you make it, right?

Besides, he found it motivating to imagine a time when Tony and Steve and, to some extent, Wade didn't look at him like this anymore. Like this bridle thing, this fragile construct of pain, fear and trauma.

He tried to not compare his father to HYDRA, he really did. Deep down he knew that the two were fundamentally different. But there were certain thought patterns that were hard to suppress.

Like this one. When he was younger, he couldn't put a number to his age, maybe 11 or 12, this was how things would go: If Peter behaved, if he endured the medical exams without crying, if he mastered the physical tests, if he did well in their version of school, if he remained quiet and complacent, he'd get rewards. A bed, better food, a shower instead of being hosed down, Gwen. More time with her was the best reward.

For a while he did whatever was asked of him just for a little bit of light, warmth, something else besides cold terror.

Now he had a bed and food and warm baths and even if he didn't have Gwen, at least Wade was here. Still, his thought patterns didn't change. If he behaved he'd get rewards. Like not being watched all the time, like alone time, like not being treated like a bomb.

The concept seemed to be truthful, too. Peter hugged Wade, he didn't freak out, he behaved like a normal person. Now Wade didn't treat him quite as delicately. He was closer to how he was at the beginning and Peter would make sure to get him back to that, to make Wade comfortable with him again, to convince his father and Steve that he wasn't a lost cause.

He'd do whatever, he'd behave, he'd be a good boy.

Be a good boy, Pete.

For the most part it worked fine, Peter got better at forcing himself to stay present, he couldn't afford to lose time. Whenever his thoughts got close to anything explosive or threatening, whenever his conscience threatened to tip over into disaster-town, he'd excuse himself and flee to the bathroom, work it out himself. The bathroom became his panic room. After a while he stopped keeping track of how often he curled up on the floor in there, digging his fingers into the tiles instead of digging them into his skin.

He was fine, though. The days were manageable. The nights were the issue. Faking it became a hell of a lot harder when he was asleep. The better his days went the worse his nights started to become.

Night terrors haunted him, so vivid and clear that he sometimes doubted that his life with Tony was his real one, that any of this was true. The dreams were familiar, often they were memories twisted by his overactive mind into something even more terrifying than the truth.

It was Keipon's touch, all over his skin, leaving burn marks. It was liquid fire, igniting his veins. It was looking into a mirror and seeing a cadaverous corpse with no hands and no mouth and 8 eyes. It was Gwen, ripped apart, all blood and broken bones, punching into his chest until she could grab his heart and crush it.

They were nightmares, sure. They still felt real, realer than anything he experienced in the last few weeks. Reality felt like the fever dream.

Sometimes he was screaming when he woke up, sometimes he was crying, sometimes he was just empty, like he was trapped in the void between sleep and being awake. Sometimes Wade was in his room, sometimes Tony, depending on how loud he was, who heard him first.

"We shouldn't crowd him when he wakes up, it could be overwhelming.", Tony once said to Wade and Steve. They were in another room and didn't expect Peter to hear. Peter could hear almost everything that went on in this house.

He wished they'd just leave him alone to deal with it himself, or rather he wished that they wouldn't notice it at all. Peter didn't dare to ask, though. Asking was still hard, next to impossible. Asking and Wanting things were both too much, too fast.

**He tried to suppress his reactions to his dreams but that went catastrophically. Catastrophically as in, he bit off his own tongue during his sleep and screamed bloody murder until the other three residents of the house stormed into his room only to find him choking on his own blood and tongue.**

Needless to say that his healing factor took care of that and Wade was nice enough to make some jokes about the incident in the following days to lessen the tension. Peter still knew that it must've been disturbing, disgusting, repulsive to see him like this. One of his first thoughts was: 'Great job fuck-up, they might make you sleep with a gag now.' Of course they didn't, even if Peter would've understood it.

If you can't be a good boy then I won't treat you like one, you fucking animal.

Peter wanted to be good.

"Peter?"

He needed to be good.

"Peter? Are you with me?"

Peter blinked and needed a second to orient himself. He had lost time. Fuck. He was in the gym, sprawled out on a yoga mat, staring at the ceiling. He wasn't sure how long he had been laying here. Fuck.

He sat up and faced Tony, leaning in the doorway, safe distance, as always. It was a relief and made Peter sick at the same time. Try to make sense of that. "Yeah, what's up?", he asked, as casually as possible.

Tony looked around the room for a moment like he was trying to find the right words. His eyes focused in on the window, looking beyond it to the ocean outside. The mansion was on a cliff right by the sea. It was beautiful but essentially it felt like looking at a picture. Peter wasn't allowed to leave. Or so he thought. "Mind going on a walk, kid?", Tony asked, looking back at him as Peter's eyebrows shot up.

"Walk where?"

"Outside, by the beach maybe. We're secluded enough to be safe and if I were you I'd be crawling up the walls from being holed up in here by now, literally in your case.", Tony replied with the slightest smirk on his lips.

Peter's eyes grew large in anticipation. "Yeah! Sure, let's go!", he agreed before pushing himself off the floor.

That's how Peter found himself outside for the first time in weeks. As promised they paced along the beach, right where the water met the land. Tony was keeping a few feet distance while Peter walked through the water barefoot.

For the first 10 minutes or so they didn't even talk, Tony only let Peter take in his surroundings. The sun was beating down on them in a way Peter had never experienced before. All he knew was cold, he wanted to bathe in the sunlight, get devoured by it. He'd gladly burn if it ment never freezing again. The sound of the waves blocked out almost all other noise and the salty smell of the ocean was foreign. But the most intense feeling was the sand, he'd never walked on sand before. He wondered if it felt so intense to other people, too, tingly and prickly and hot, or if this were just his heighten senses. The water pooling around his ankles was a real relief for that sensation, cool and soothing.

"You enjoying yourself?", Tony asked with a crooked smile and Peter spun around to face him. He had almost forgotten that his father was there. Almost.

"Yeah... yeah it's great.", Peter dared to crack a smile, too. "Why would you ever leave this place? It's amazing here!"

Tony stuffed his hands into his pockets before squinting at the horizon for a moment. "Not a fan of New York?", he then asked in a teasing tone.

"I wouldn't say that I didn't like it there. It's just...", Peter struggled for a second, trying to come up with the right words. "It's so loud and hectic. It's a lot. This is less...exhausting." Peter glanced over at his father to find a fond expression on his face, a relief.

"Yeah, I figured you'd like it here. The nightlife of Manhattan might be a perk I used to enjoy, doesn't mean that you gotta be the same."

A thought crossed Peter's mind that made his smile fade slightly. "Are you... are you disappointed that I'm not more like you?", he asked carefully, not looking at his father.

To his surprise Tony started to laugh, softly but it seemed genuine. Peter wasn't sure if he had ever heard him laugh before. "God no. If you turn out to be nothing like me at all, I'd be fine with that. There aren't a whole lot of great traits that you could inherit from me.", he then replied and Peter expected anything but that. What was even more surprising was that it there was no trace of bitterness in his voice. He said it like a fact, which was definitely worse.

"Sorry, but that sounds like a load of bullshit.", Peter replied which startled Tony into another laugh.

"Oh does it?", he asked with raised eyebrows and a grin.

"Yeah! I mean, I don't know you all that well personally but I googled you. You're a fucking hero, saved the world multiple times. Everybody loves you. Sounds like a good person to me. "

"That's nice of you to say, kid.", Tony smirked, less genuine this time.

"But you don't believe me.", Peter pointed out.

"Would you believe me if I told you that you're a good person?", Tony asked and he knew that he had cornered Peter with that.

"Touché.", Peter smirked and they both resumed their path along the water.

They fell into a comfortable silence and Peter went back to enjoying his time outside. He couldn't know when he'd be allowed to step outside again and he wasn't foolish enough to assume that this would become a regular occurrence. Peter contemplated if he should ask or if he should just enjoy his time out. In the end curiosity won, it often did.

"When... when do you think I can go here again?", he asked carefully. Again, he didn't look at Tony, waiting for his reply instead. Bracing himself for it, for Tony to laugh at him and call him pathetic.

Surprise! He didn't. "I mean, as often as you want. I'd prefer for you to not leave by yourself but as long as someone accompanies you, you're free to go.", Tony replied simply and Peter froze on the spot.

"Really?", he asked, unable to conceal the surprise in his voice. Tony stopped as well and turned around to face him once more. "I mean... you're not lying?" It made him sick how pathetic he sounded.

The look in Tony's eyes softened and Peter wasn't sure if he could take it, being looked at like that. With warmth and something like love, not that he'd ever dare to believe in that. "Of course not. Peter...I don't want you to think that you're a prisoner. Everything we do is to protect you.", Tony said, so gently that Peter wanted to rip his ears off.

Don't deserve to be treated like a good boy. You're an animal, Pete.

"Old habits die hard, I guess.", Peter laughed nervously, diverting his eyes again. It was too much, everything was too much and right now he couldn't hide.

"Peter?" Toby's voice was careful, cautious, like he was afraid to break Peter. How predictable he was. He though he could hide, put up a brave front. Peter was made of glass. He knew that now. Fragile and see-through.

"Hm?" Peter didn't look at Tony, staring at the sea instead, at how the sun was reflected on the waves, making the water look like liquid gold.

"Is there anything we- anything I can do to make this easier for you?", Tony asked and Peter thought about it for a while. Easy wasn't a word in his vocabulary. He knew what it ment, sure. But nothing had ever been easy for Peter. He didn't know what he needed, what would help. There was no better time in his life that he could use as a reference, no past to pull experience from. But how was he supposed to put that into words? 

"Has a teacher ever asked you if you had any questions and you didn't have any, not because you were already an expert in the subject but because you yourself had no idea what you didn't know yet?", he asked Tony.

"Of course, I think it's a pretty universal experience.", his father replied simply.

"That's how I'm feeling right now. I don't know what I need because I don't know what I lack. I don't know what to ask for.", Peter confessed and now Tony was the one to stay silent for a while.

Peter already assumed he'd never reply anything to that when Tony took a deep breath. "I won't lie to you, kid. I don't know what you need either. I'm seriously overwhelmed with all of this, which isn't your fault, not at all. But we'll figure it out, I promise.", he said and there was a nervousness to his voice that finally made Peter look at him again.

"How? I'd do almost anything.", he agreed desperately. Peter wanted to be whole so badly. He wanted to be good, he wanted to behave.

"We'll talk it out later but I have a hunch that you won't like it.", Tony said sheepishly.

"How did you arrive at that conclusion?", Peter asked, faking offence. Sure, he'd like to dig deeper and figure out what Tony was thinking off. But then again he didn't want to push his luck, he didn't want to annoy his father. He said they'd talk about it later so Peter would follow that order. A rare case in which his curiosity took a backseat.

"Well, there isn't a lot that you like, Kid.", Tony smirked, the warmth back in his tone, his face, his eyes.

-an animal-

It was a relief.

-don't deserve it-

"I'm working on it, okay?", Peter said, covering up the anxious voices in his head with a chuckle. "I've gotta catch up on 19 years of opinions. It's a slow process."

"Take all the time you need, kid.", Tony smiled and Peter returned it sheepishly before slowly continuing his walk.

He could do this. He could behave. He could do whatever Tony wanted and get better. He could be good.

Be a good boy, Pete.

He had to be good.

Chapter Text

"A therapist? You want me to talk to a complete stranger?", Peter asked, obvious offense in his voice.

Tony let out a sigh. He had expected this sort of thing. Peter was really complicated when it came to opening up so suggesting therapy was tricky. "They are a professional, Peter. They are trained to help you with your...", Steve's voice trailed off and Peter raised an eyebrow.

"My issues? You can say it, you know. I'm not made of fucking glass.", he snapped, getting up from his chair at the dinner table and starting to pace. He was having an agitated day.

"Dr Seine is specialized in your kind of issue.", Steve continued, his voice steady again.

"And what sort of issue would that be?", Peter asked and Tony and Wade exchanged a look. This was something that they both had noticed before, a certain sort of behavior. It was all too familiar to Tony, he used to do the same, still something did from time to time. When he would feel cornered he'd lash out just to test the waters. Check how much he could push the borders before crossing a line.

"Trauma, PTSD and... cult deprogramming.", Tony replied and Peter spun around to face them with raised eyebrows.

"A cult? Is that what we're calling HYDRA now?", he asked and Tony could hear that edge in his voice, that sharpness, like a warning.

"I mean, it ain't really. Is not like you followed some guru that tried to knock you out with koolaid.", Wade argued. "But the whole brainwashing, it's similar. ", he then added and Peter rolled with his eyes turning away.

"Besides, she worked with a friend of mine that went through something similar in HYDRA custody. She helped him lot.", Steve stated. Tony had not personally talked to Bucky about his therapist but Steve had. They were best friends after all and according to Steve, Bucky swore that Dr. Seine saved his life. Now, after two years the former HYDRA asset was mostly stable. More Bucky than Winter Soldier. That's all that Tony wanted for Peter. For him to be more his own person than their experiment.

"Ah...the other fossil.", Peter nodded slowly, his tone dismissive. As Tony watched his son he wasn't sure if they were doing more damage than helping here. His son seemed to grow more and more tense by the second. Tony could see a muscle twitch in his jaw and Peter constantly clenched and unclenched his fists before finally running his hands through his hair where he slightly pulled at them.

The scratching had stopped, at least when he was awake, that didn't mean that Peter didn't find other ways to relief stress. Tony noticed it all the time. He pulled at his hair, dug his nails into his palms, grinded his teeth. Peter wasn't quite as explosively destructive as he was only a couple of weeks ago but something else seemed to be happening that Tony couldn't quite define.

It was more of a feeling, a pit in his stomach. It felt like Peter was desperately clawing for control while losing more and more of it, like he was stirring into a direction that Tony couldn't follow and that time was running out. They had already missed so much and now it felt like the timer was counting to zero. What would happen when it reached its end? Tony didn't know but he was sure that it wouldn't be pretty. That's why he rushed into suggesting therapy instead of waiting a bit longer. His son was unraveling in front of him and he had to do something about it now, not later when it might be too late.

"Look we aren't saying that-", Tony just started to argue when FRIDAYS voice came from the ceiling.

"Natasha Romanoff entered the building.

"What?", both Tony and Steve asked in unison while Wade excitedly clapped.

"Uhhh! Spidermom is finally gonna meet the Spiderson?", he asked excitedly and Peter frowned.

"Natasha... isn't that the Black Widow?", he asked and to Tony's surprise he didn't seem all that bothered by the appearance of a stranger in his safe house. That didn't mean that Tony was okay with her just showing up here.

"Wait here.", he hissed before rushing out of the kitchen, Steve close behind him. "What is she doing here? Did she say anything when you last saw her?", Tony asked as the hurried to the entrance of the mansion.

"Nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone was questioning where you were, though. You know how nosy Nat can be. She probably didn't like to be excluded from a secret. ", Steve shrugged and then they were already in the foyer.

Surely enough she was standing in the doorway. Dressed in black from head to toe, pinstraight Bordeaux red hair and matching lipstick. That was Natasha Romanoff. All pale skin and shadows, sharp edges and elegant curves. Her eyes were cold when they were focused on Tony. He had learned long ago that this wasn't anything personal. It was her spy-face. Natasha was on a mission, she was here for information and right now Tony was something that stood between her and her goal. "Hello old man.", she said to Tony with her infamous smile, it always felt like she knew more than you. "Hello, older man.", she then added, glancing at Steve.

"Hey Natalie!", Tony greeted her with a false cheerfulness in his tone and she scoffed at the name he called her. A relic from when she was still spying on him. "It's so nice to see you, except, no it isn't. Why the unannounced visit?"

Natasha started to pace in the foyer, taking in more and more space with her presence. "You skipped our last mission.", she shrugged like this was enough of a justification.

"I'm taking a vacation, that you're interrupting.", Tony snapped and she smirked at that like he had just told on himself.

"Bullshit Tony. You don't do vacations. You're an insane workaholic. I'm convinced that you couldn't even rest if you were dead."

"I convinced him to take some time off. It's all been taking a huge toll on him.", Stve rushed to his aid, placing on hand on Tony's shoulder and he already felt fractionally calmer.

It didn't convince Natasha, though. She just narrowed her eyes at Steve before saying:"We're a team. We can't afford to have secrets. They'l kill is in the end."

Tony had to let out a laugh at that. "Hypocrite much? You're like one giant secret, a big fat question mark."

Nat wasn't impressed by that, she rarely was by anything. She just cocked her head to one side, her expression still not faltering. "My secrets are in the past, they can't hurt anyone anymore, yours are in the present.", she replied.

"What's that even supposed to mean-?", Tony just snapped when he heard a voice speak up from behind him.

"You must be a pretty shit spy. I found like thousands of pictures of you when I googled your name." Peter was casually strolling into the foyer, Wade close behind him.

The presence of a boy in Tony's home seemed to be enough of a surprise to finally wipe the blank expression out of her eyes. What was left was hard to define but there was a certain confusion there.

"Peter? What are you doing here?", Tony asked, careful to keep his voice calm.

Peter shrugged but kept his eyes trained on Natasha. "I'm conversing. I didn't feel like being the monster in the Tower that nobody gets to see today.", he replied nonchalantly.

"I coulda stopped him but I didn't wanna.", Wade pointed out, his hands in the pockets of his pants and a satisfied smile on his lips. Tony got it, he was also thrilled everytime Peter wasn't this timid, quiet boy that you couldn't speak to. But right now the situation was stressing him out.

"I'm Peter.", Peter then introduced himself and now Natasha's eyes grew wide. She was quick and she knew Tony well. He knew that it would only take her a few seconds to figure it out.

"Peter? As in-", her eyes shot towards Tony and the cold look was nowhere to be seen, replaced by disbelief and wonder, they were even glistening a little. "-your son?"

"Yeah...", Peter shrugged. "Surprise! I'm not dead, yay me!",he then added with a slightly awkward smile. When Natasha didn't say anything Tony could see the discomfort creep back into Peter's expression. He had his five minutes of levity.

"So? You're a friend of Tony's?", he asked awkwardly even though he probably read dozens of articles about all of the members of the Avengers. Research about what he missed was one of Peter's few hobbies, though Tony wasn't sure if it actually brought him any enjoyment or if Peter was just trying to catch up to lost time. Tony had felt something like that when he returned from Afghanistan. But he had only been gone for three months, not nine years.

Natasha slowly started to reboot her brain after a few more seconds. "I- I can't believe it, everyone thought that you were dead- How- Where was he?", that last question was directed at Tony but Peter answered anyways.

"Hydra." The levity wasn't completely gone but it was steadily declining.

Now Natasha's face fell completely. "No...", she whispered and Tony let out a sigh.

"Unfortunately, yes."

"Unfortunate is one way you could call it.", Wade remarked. "I'd pick 'absolutely horrifyingly torturous'."

"Describes it pretty well.", Peter nodded but it didn't sound quite right. It's not that he was freaking out or anything but Peter's emotions were... unpredictable to say the least. His mood could flip in a matter of seconds and right now it was balancing on the edge between, nonchalance and dissociation-station.

Steve seemed to sense it too and decided to promptly step in. "Look, Nat, it's a long story. And we'll explain it to you. But we're trying to keep this under wraps for now, okay?", he asked.

"Of course. You can trust me, you know I'm great with secrets.", she agreed and Tony knew that she was pretending to not notice the irony in that to annoy him.

"Okay, then let's talk about it.",Steve nodded before glancing over at Peter. "Pete?" Peter's eyes grew distant for a second but not long enough for Steve or Natasha to notice. Like he checked out for a moment but then he was back.

"Can I go to the beach?",he asked, his voice much more timid than only minutes ago.

"Yeah of course. Wade, would you?", Tony said before glancing at Wade. He had seemed to notice the shift in tone as well, judging by the look he gave Tony.

"Sure, come on Petey-Pie. Gonna build you sand castles in the sand like Robin Sparkles." With that he lead him off and Tony turned back to face Natasha.

"What the fuck, Tony?", she seemed to have been holding back when Peter was present but now that he was gone she really let loose. "I mean... HYDRA? For all these years. How is he-? What did they-? How can he-?" She seemed to be unable to form a coherent question at first, her mind running too quick for her mouth to keep up with. Finally she took a deep breath and settled on one. "Is he okay?"

Tony almost laughed at that. The obvious answer was a definitive 'no'. 'No, obviously he is not because he was raised by psychopathic monsters that tortured him for half his life and spend their time taking apart every part of his body and mind methodically in order to twist him into something viscous and somehow against all odds he is still a good person but they broke him and now he is losing whatever small amount of composure he has left and I don't know how to help him, I don't know what to do, this is all my fault, I didn't even search for him, I lived my life while my son was torn to shreds, I don't know what to do, I don't know.'

He didn't say that though, didn't even fully admit that to himself though. Instead he pulled a face and replied:"What do you think?"

Chapter Text

"And that's basically all of it.", Tony finished. He had just given Natasha an hour long jumbled explanation of what had happened.

It was awful, there was no point denying that. Natasha knew first hand what these organizations were like. The red room wasn't much different. And after everything Bucky told them about Hydra... she wasn't surprised that the kid was messed up.

Even though she knew all of that, even though it broke her heart to think of young Peter, tortured and experimented on and programmed like she had been, Natasha was professionally paranoid. She had to be in her line of work and there was something gnawing at the back of her head. It was ugly and disgusting but persistent.

"The file you mentioned, have you read it?", Natasha asked once Tony was finished. He looked up from his hands, his eyes still a bit glassy. Natasha hated this, she hated that she had to make it worse.

"No.", Tony only replied.

"Why not? Won't he give it to you?", Natasha asked and Steve straightened up a bit, his jaw tense. Maybe he could guess where she was going with this.

"No, it's in his possession but we didn't read it to grant him some privacy.", Steve replied. There it was. Natasha assumed that they would say this.

They were different, the three of them. As different as they came. Tony, his own boss, did whatever he wanted, took orders from none and got whatever information he needed. He didn't care for Secrets.

Steve was a man out of time and even though he had changed quite a bit since his arrival in the 21st century, his ideals where the same. Glorious and moral and unfortunately outdated. He understood the danger if secrets, but not in the same way as her.

And then there was Natasha, born in secret, raised in secret, one big deception and she knew what few people did. How deadly secrets could be. After all, she was one of the deadly ones. James was one, too. And now she feared that Peter was one as well.

"You're so naive.", she sighed and that was enough to get Tony sharp again.

"I'm many things but I'm not naive. Why? Because I want to give my son some space? Treat him with some decency? How does that make me naive?!", he snapped, all worked up instantly.

"That's all very admirable of you and it would be great if we weren't talking about Hydra here. Who knows what they've done with him.", she returned calmly and now Steve was the one to argue with her.

"Exactly! Would you want some stranger reading about all the horrors you went through? After everything that happened to him? You are a lot of things, Natasha. I never thought of you as cruel."

It was all very predictable. He had taken that same stance with James years ago,she knew he'd do the same for Tony's son. Still, it tugged at Natasha's heart uncomfortably. It had taken her years to get to that point but she considered Steve a friend, Tony, too. She wished that she could just shut her brain off and see Peter as a simple kid. Unfortunately she couldn't and unfortunately he wasn't.

"All I'm saying is that it's a safety risk. We know that HYDRA brainwashes people. We can't know if there isn't something-", she proceeded calmly when Tony jumped up from his chair and cut her off.

"HE ISN'T SOME HYDRA GOON! HE'S MY SON!", he yelled at her but Natasha didn't even flinch. Noise wasn't scary and Tony couldn't hurt her, not physically at least.

"I understand that, but-", she started just to be cut off yet again.

"No I don't think you do.", Steve replied, equally as calm as her but there was something behind his tone, a nuance, a wiff of danger, like an oncoming storm.

"You're blind.", she bit out, her voice slightly less controlled.

One crack.

"You are just as blind as you were with Barnes."

Another crack.

"We didn't know everything they did to him, you didn't dare to ask. Sure, you wanted to protect his feelings but then they activated him!"

Another one.

"And you!", she turned to Tony and he actually seemed to be startled by her outbreak. "You are a fucking hypocrite! You were on my side. You said we needed the truth! Couldn't just trust him!"

She knew that it was a low blow, bringing up Steve and Tony's biggest fight ever, but once Natasha started to crack it wasn't long before it all burst out.

"What's different now. That he's your son?!", she snapped and Tony took a step back, silent. "Seven agents died that day! He almost killed all of us!"

There it was, the dam had broken, the floods were coming.

"You know that wasn't him-", Steve spoke up and Natasha spun back around to face him, all her fury and despair on display.

"I know that! None of that was his fault but we could've stopped it. If we would've known all about his programming, the code words, we could've prevented that. Secrets kill, Steve."

Natasha was desperate, desperate to make them see. " They might've done the same to Peter. This could all be an elaborate plan and he might not even know it."

"Now you sound like a conspiracy theorist. They couldn't have planned his escape. Wade killed all of their people in that facility.", Tony said.

Natasha couldn't understand how he could be a genius and an idiot at the same time. "Hydra doesn't care for their people, they have sacrificed people in the past and even if this isn't a plan. He could still be programmed. A sleeper agent without knowing it. What if they activate him? What if he goes rogue like James? What then?"

They didn't have an answer to that because there wasn't one. "I'm trying to protect you here.", Natasha added, softer this time. That was truly her only attention, to protect Tony and Steve. And even if it seemed strange, she wanted to protect Peter, too. From himself, from all that blood and death that came with being a secret.

It was silent between them for a while, all their words hanging in the air, suffocating them. Natasha couldn't crack, she knew why, because of this.

"I think you should go.",Tony then said and his voice cracked with it. Natasha stared at him, then at Steve who had his eyes downcast. She was baffled and at the same time not surprised at all. After all, they were three remarkably different people, but especially when it came to secrets.

She took a deep breath, picked herself up and turned her back one them. "Will you keep this confidential?", Steve asked.

Keep Peter a secret. Another deadly secret. "Yes." She had done it before. "I hope you don't get yourself killed." With that she left the room.

~

Natasha didn't leave the mansion, she didn't plan on letting two of her friends get themselves killed over some stupid sentimentality. This wasn't a fairytale.

Steve had mentioned that Peter was in possession of his file and since he was down at the beach now would be the only time she had to sneak into his room and search it.

Natasha had been to this house before, as her alter-ego Natalia and as Natasha. She knew it like the back of her hand. There were three guest rooms. Peter would have to have taken one of them. They were all on the highest floor. Once she reached the upstairs she guessed that Tony would keep his son close to him and walked up to the door closest to the master's bedroom.

The room inside was clearly a guest room that was lived in. Unmade bed, clothes hanging from an armchair, a cup with unfinished hot cocoa. Jackpot.

She scanned the room for the file with her eyes first before starting to search it. The closet, dresser and shelf were first. After that she checked the drawers of the desk. One was jammed and she broke it open with one of her knifes to find it empty. Natasha tried to think like a kid, where would Peter hide something like this? Something that he maybe didn't want to see on accident.

Natasha dropped to the ground and crawled under the bed where she found a thick, worn file jammed between the slatted frame and the mattress. There was no sense of victory in finding it.

Once she came out from under the bed she wasted to time before flipping the file open and starting to skim through it. She skipped most of the gory details. No matter what Steve and Tony though, she wasn't doing this out of some twisted enjoyment. It was just a safety measure. It was still hard, though. The things they did to him, the descriptions, the pictures. It was all awfully familiar and horrifying in a unique way at the same time. It send shivers down her spine.

Natasha wished to find nothing, to find no proof of programming. She wished that she could just put the file back and apologize to Tony, knowing that Peter wasn't a danger to them.

Unfortunately, this wasn't a fairytale and wishes didn't come true.

~

"Where's the spider lady?", Peter asked, more himself again. Wade and him just returned to the house and found the two in the kitchen. It had taken Wade a while to get Peter out of his head again but being outside seemed to have helped.

Right now the Superdads were his point of concern, though. They seemed shaken, and were desperately trying to hide it. Even though they acted all normal Peter seemed to notice it as well.

"Nat had to leave early.", Steve replied, his tone clipped and Peter glanced at Wade with a raised eyebrow.

"Is everything, okay?", Peter then asked and Tony forced a smile.

"Of course, kid. Why shouldn't it be?"

"'Cause you're acting like somebody's pointing a gun at your head.", Wade pointed out.

"Yeah, you seem... what's the word, Wade?", Peter asked.

"Shook."

"Yeah. You seem shook.", Peter nodded. Wade had started teaching him internet culture.

"Is it because of me?", Peter then asked carefully when the door to the kitchen was slammed open. The Black Widow stood in it's frame, a stony look on her face and a familiar file in her hand. Wade's heart skipped a beat. What the fu-

"Oh, you're still- ", Peter started but then his voice broke off once his eyes fell on the item in her hand.

"Natasha!", Tony bit out, a warning in his tone, the nervousness was gone. Agitation had taken it's place.

Natasha's eyes were focused on Peter, though. "I'm sorry, Peter. This is for the best.", she said calmly and Wade felt Peter stiffen beside him. "You need to hear this, Tony.", Natasha then said, looking over at the Superdads.

Tony looked like he wasn't going to hear it, he looked like he was fucking fuming, actually. The Captain was close when it came to explosiveness but there was a bit of betrayal in his eyes.

(Oh this is going to be fun!)

[Avengers smackdown! Black Witch versus Iron Can and Captain Underpants!]

Shit.

"Natasha, we told you to leave!", Steve snapped but Tony didn't bother with words. He strode over to her and yanked the file from her hands.

"How dare you?!", he then hissed. It was quite clear what had happened. Spidermom had swiped the file and read it against request. Now there was anger, betrayal, the whole clusterfuck. But what Wade was concerned with was Peter. Peter who wasn't saying anything, or moving, or breathing. He just watched it all unfold with wide eyes.

"They programmed him, Tony! Just like James! Codewords and all. He's a weapon!", The widow shot back and Wade had trouble holding back his own fury and something in him came alive.

"You had no right-", Steve started but Natasha wouldn't let him speak.

"He doesn't need your coddling, he needs deprogramming, like James. Send him to Wakanda or the SHIELD labs. Anything! Before it's too late!" At the mention of labs Peter flinched but still didn't say anything.

(I think he is crashing)

Wade could ignore White and Yellow. But there was a third voice. It was the darkes most disgusting part of him, the one he liked to pretend wasn't there. Now it made itself known. Red.

"He's not going anywhere!", Tony yelled.

"He ripped another subject apart! He killed her with his bare hands on command!"

It's like her words flipped a switch in Peter and he started to shake, then tremble. "I didn't-", he choked," I didn't mean for that to happen- I didn't-"

Nobody heard except Wade and then he only saw red, only heard Red, whisper in his ear:"Kill, kill, kill!"

Next thing he knew he was throwing himself at the Black Widow. Or... no...he couldn't actually remember that. But it must've happened. Because somehow he found himself held back by Steve who had locked his arms behind him. Fuck, he was strong. His jaw ached and felt hot and there was red on the Widow's knuckles. But her eyes weren't on Wade, they were on Tony who stood in front of her.

"Get out of my house and don't you dare speak to my son ever again!", he hissed, his voice dripping with venom.

"I'm trying to protect you!", she persisted and Wade could feel that same rage, spark up in him again. Steve must've noticed his tension because he tightened his hold while Wade tried to push Red away. He couldn't flip again, not in front of Peter.

"I don't care!", Tony spat in her face. Wade's eyes searched the room for Peter and found him in one corner, hunched over, eyes unseeing. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

"Steve, get her out of here.", Tony ordered.

"You good?", Steve asked and Wade nodded.

This didn't seem to convince him entirely so Wade added:"I promise I won't rip her head off." Steve than let go off him and went on to grab Natasha's arm instead. They left silently and both Tony and Wade turned towards Peter, the tension leaving their bodies, gentle expressions taking the place of furious ones.

~

"I swear I don't mean him harm.", Natasha said one more time when she was already seated in her car.

As furious as Steve was, he knew that she ment it. Natasha was doing what she considered right. "You have a great way of showing it.", he snapped and she bit down on her lip.

"You know James would want for someone to stop him. You know he wishes that he could've gotten rid of the programming earlier.", she argued and that was the part that hurt the most. That in some way, she was right. But not when it came to Peter.

"He isn't ready.", he persisted.

"That's what you don't understand. None of us were ready but we don't have time to wait until we're ready. If we do it might be too late."

Sometimes Steve forgot that Natasha used to be a child like Peter, at the mercy of monsters, he forgot that she went through this, too. Still, just because it worked for her, it didn't mean that it would work for Peter, too.

"You're wrong.", Steve said, stepping back from her car as she started the engine. For a moment he thought she'd just drive off but then she looked up once more and Steve knew that the sadness in her eyes was real.

"I hope I am." With that she drove off and Steve returned to the mansion. He spend his walk to the kitchen readying himself for what he'd find in there. Peter, having a breakdown, probably.

What he wasn't expecting though was to find the door wide open and Tony and Wade slumped on the floor, slowly straightening up, rubbing their heads.

"What happened? Where's Peter? ", Steve asked dread setting in.

"He- he flipped, ran out the room I think.", Wade croaked out before getting to his feet and helping Tony up as well.

Tony had a gash on his forehead that was dripping blood all over the place but he only blinked a couple of times before asking:"Friday? Where's Peter?"

The next words send a chill down Steve's spine and for a second he felt like he was in the ice again.

"Peter has left the mansion. He took the Quinjet."

Chapter Text

"He turned off the tracker of the jet, how did he even know how to do that?", Tony cursed. They had gathered in his workshop, trying to figure out where Peter went.

"I don't know, how did he even know how to fly it?", Steve shook his head. Tony could feel his chest tighten more and more with every breath. His heart was being crushed and his stomach felt like a bottomless pit. It felt like walking into a bedroom covered in blood, it felt like loosing Peter. Again. He couldn't do this.

"HYDRA training. He has all the skills of an Agent, he just lacked obedience.", Wade supplied before looking up at Tony. "What now? Do something! You're Tony fucking Stark! Find him!"

Tony's mind was already running a mile a minute but essentially it was running in circles. A cruel carousel of:' He's gone, he's gone, he's gone. ' Tony couldn't focus, couldn't form an idea that would work.

No tracker and the Quinjet was in stealth mode. When they tried to contact the jet Peter didn't reply. He's gone, he's gone, he's gone again. Not again.

Tony's mind did the same thing it did last time he lost his son. It shut down.

~

Peter didn't mean to take off. He actually didn't mean to do anything. He just lost time, operated on auto pilot.

The last clear thing was the beach and Wade. He was okay then, he was being good. Why wasn't he anymore?

Things got jumbled after that. They were in the kitchen, right? The Black Widow was there, even though she wasn't supposed to be.

Tony started to yell, Steve, too. Peter wasn't sure if they were angry at him or not but the Widow had done something...

The file. She had read Peter's file and then she told them. She told Tony and Steve what Peter did. That's where the anger came from, he thought. And the disappointment. They knew what he was now. That he wasn't good, that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't be.

He could remember Wade fighting the Widow even though that didn't quite fit with the rest. It didn't make sense. Why would he attack her?

And then, and then, and then-

Then Peter attacked Tony and Wade. He couldn't remember it but he still saw the blood drip from Tony's forehead. Like an accusation, like a verdict. Monster, killer, weapon.

You'll never be good, Pete.

After that there were only flashes. He was in a jet, flying, and then he wasn't, he was falling. He was on the ground, he didn't land, he crashed.

He tried to inspect the damage but he couldn't focus on the pain. It was too much, everything hurt, all of it. Peter wasn't sure if he was actually injured or if his poisonous soul was now finally eating away at his insides. He couldn't tell if his body was damaged but he knew that he was. Too damaged, too twisted, not good.

Peter wanted to cry, why exactly, he wasn't sure. He didn't. Weapons don't weep.** He wanted to claw his arms open. A little voice said he shouldn't, though he couldn't remember why. So he did. It felt okay but only for a second, it didn't lessen the pain inside of him. He clawed at his arm while something else clawed at his insides, tore them to shreds. **Peter knew how it felt to be torn apart. It felt something like this.

Could guilt kill you? Could he physically come undone because of what he did? If it was possible than it was a fitting end, to be suffocated by his own regrets. For a while he just waited for the blood to rise in his throat, until he choked on it. Until it was finally over. It didn't come. He wasn't dying, not immediately. So he got up.

Peter didn't remember how he got to the side of the road, he couldn't remember the nature around him, he couldn't remember what time of day it was or how the weather was.

All he registered was the sound of his steps, how he dragged his feet along the concrete. And the pain, it shot through his legs up into his spine with every step he took. Maybe he was injured, maybe not. It didn't really matter. Nothing mattered, least of all Peter. He was designed to stay functional even when damaged.

Damaged, damaged, damaged. It was a constant rhythm in his mind. With every step it repeated itself. Damaged.

He had been a fool for thinking that he could be more than this. He had told Tony and Steve, had told Wade, had even told himself to not get his hopes up.

Oh Pete, you know that this is all you're good for right? Is Gwenny doing this? Is she giving you ideas? Do we have to punish her or will you be a good boy?

There it was again, that voice. Keipon was always in Peter's ear, in his dreams, burned into his mind for eternity. He'd still be there even when everything else faded from Peter's mind and Peter hated himself for it. Fir his pathetic weakness.

~

**His arms were dislocated, his muscles torn. They had chained his wrists behind his back and then suspended him until it all ripped.**

There was pain, unimaginable one. Peter didn't scream though, or he did but it didn't come out right, not with the muzzle.

"Oh Pete, you know that this is all you're good for right? Is Gwenny doing this? Is she giving you ideas? Do we have to punish her or will you be a good boy?", Keipons tone was sweet but Peter didn't fall for it, or at least he tried not to. His determination was wavering though as his conscience startled to fizzle out. Couldn't he just die already?

"Answer me!" Peter nodded weakly and then he wasn't in the air anymore. He was on the ground and he couldn't move his arms, or he could but it was agonizing. There was no point in fighting him anyways, so what's the point?

Peter was on the ground and his head was in Keipon's lap. The fabric of his pants was scratchy against his face and he could see drips of blood on the ground, probably his own. Keipon was patting Peter's hair and it was disgusting how good it felt.

"Say that you'll be a good boy.", Keipon asked softly. Peter hadn't even noticed that he wasn't gagged anymore.

His voice was sore when he spoke, barely even there. "I'll be a good boy. "

"Oh Pete, you know I hate doing this. But someone has to keep you under control. You're toxic, if you were left to your own devices you'd destroy everything. You know that, right?", his voice was so gentle that it made bile rise in Peter's throat but he was right. Peter couldn't be left to his own devices. 

"Yes."

"Apologize."

"I'm sorry." A tear escaped his eyes and rolled down the bridge of his nose. Peter hoped that Keipon couldn't see it. Weapon's don't weep.

"I'm sorry-", he repeated when his breath hitched. "I won't do it again." Keipon continued to gently stroke through his hair, again and again. Peter wanted to die.

"We both know you will. Because you're a fool. You don't learn from your mistakes. You'll never be good, Pete."

"I'm sorry, please-", Peter whined but he knew that there was no point.

"I know you are, but you still have to be punished. You understand that?", Keipon asked like a lecturing parent.

A sob escaped Peter and he regretted it right away when Keipon grabbed on of his arms and yanked it up. "Weapons don't weep, Pete!", he hissed, all the softness replaced by poison. Peter bit down on his lip to keep himself quiet before nodding shakily.

"Thank me.", Keipon ordered. "Thank me for taking care of you." Peter's voice was shaky when he spoke again, laced with agony and horror and embarrassment.

"Th- Thank y-you."

~

Peter wanted to scrape the memory out of his brain. He couldn't. It never went away. So much else did but not him. Not Keipon. Peter could never banish the man that broke him out of his mind.

Even right now when his body and brain were on fire. Even when every step seemed to shake another piece of him loose until he was only a pile of broke pieces, unable to go forward, he was still there, lurking in every dark knuck and cranny of his mind.

Peter fell. He wasn't sure how long he had walked for, or why he wasn't walking anymore. He tried to get back up. He couldn't. Whatever.

He stayed on the ground, face towards the sky. The sun was setting, or was it rising? Peter couldn't tell. The sky was red and Peter was tired. Tired of everything.

There was something thick at the back of his throat, maybe his rotten insides had turned liquid. When he coughed it up it splattered all over his face and when Peter reached for it his fingers came away red. Blood.

Maybe he was dying after all. Maybe it just took a while. Maybe Peter had finally used up his body. He felt like he should care more, or at all. He didn't. He was dying, he was pretty sure this time around. It wasn't as scary as it used to be. Maybe that's how you know that you're ready, when it isn't scary anymore.

God, Peter was so tired. But he didn't close his eyes, not yet. Instead he watched the sky, in all of it's glorious beauty and for a second he didn't feel quite as disgusting. That's as good as it would get for him, Peter was sure of that. With that he closed his eyes and let loose, of time, of consciousness, of life. Peter was dying and he didn't mind.

~

Peter wasn't dying, or he was but not that easily. It was a curse that he knew of but got surprised by over and over again anyways.

Peter was still on his back but the sky was gone. He was staring at grey. And he was moving. Driving. He was in a car, he thought. On the back bench.

He turned his head even though it hurt and there was a man up front, driving the car. The stranger turned his head and glanced at Peter but Peter couldn't read his expression. "You're awake. Stay with me kid, okay?"

Peter didn't recognize the man but for some reason he caught himself thinking:' Oh no, not you.'

Peter closed his eyes again, or he didn't, maybe they closed on their own but he couldn't see the stranger anymore. He could still hear him. "Shit, kid! I need you to stay awake, okay? We're  almost there. Pull through, okay?"

He didn't know where they were going, and quite honestly, he wasn't interested in staying awake or pulling through. So he kept his eyes closed as he waited to fade away once more.

The strangers voice was distant, like Peter was under water and soon it became hard to listen. Soon, all he could hear was his own wheezing breath and a song. It was one of Wade's, the ones from his car. The dark and melancholic ones. Peter wasn't sure if it was playing or if he was only remembering the words but they rattled through his mind.

Travelin' so far to get there

All just to be here again

All just to see what they saw back then

I think it's time that you crawl back home, son

Fire's still scorchin', you've been scorned

And you look abused

Did you get out all of that angry passion?

Is it still formin'? Has it started to torture you?

Travelin' so far to get there

All just to be here again

All just to see what they saw back then

The words played in a loop in his mind over and over again until they were the only thing, until nothing else was left, not even Keipon. They pulled Peter under, lulled him to sleep until he finally faded away.

Chapter Text

Bucky wasn't sure how exactly this happened. One moment he was driving home after a visit to the compound upstate. The next he saw someone laying on the side of the street.

Now, he wasn't one to get intimidated easily, other people were usually scared of him, maybe his general appearance had something to do with it, maybe it was the metal arm, so he didn't worry for his safety when he stopped his car by the side of the road to inspect the situation.

Maybe they were injured and needed help, maybe someone dumped a body. When he first saw the man he assumed that it was the latter. Bucky was certain that he was staring at a corpse, just judging by all the blood that came from countless wounds all over the body. One of his legs was twisted in an unnatural angle and one of his arm seemed to be broken, too.

When he noticed that he was actually breathing he couldn't believe it for a second. But it was undeniable, this person was alive, even though they didn't look like they were supposed to be.

He kneeled down next to him and cradled his head on instinct, wiping away some if the blood from the countless cuts on the man's face. Then he froze.

In that moment Bucky realized two things that made all of this a hell of a lot harder. One, this wasn't a man, it was boy. Maybe a teen. He looked 18, tops.

Two, he knew him. The second one was what caused his heartbeat to pick up. He knew him, not very well but there was a time they met. A time the Winter Soldier taught this boy, how to fight, how to survive, how to kill.

He hadn't been himself back then, still wasn't entirely but he was working on it. He spend so much time trying to be better but now that he saw this face from his past all the dread came crashing down on him. He expected them to catch up to him in the end, HYDRA would never let him go, not fully.

Now he had to make a decision, though. This boy was HYDRA, or at least he used to be. Normally Bucky had no sympathy for HYDRA Agents, but this one was different. He was still a kid, and he was dying, or at least it looked like it.

Bucky ran through every possible scenario that came after this. a) He could get back in the car and pretend this never happened. Yeah, that wasn't really an option. He couldn't just leave the kid for dead.

b) He could call an ambulance. That was risky for multiple reasons. On the one side he couldn't know if the boy was on the run from HYDRA. If he contacted any kind of authority they might get wind of this. Especially if they were already searching for him. Bucky also had to think of the safety of the hospital personnel. Maybe the kid wasn't in the right mind, he could lash out. Option b) was anything but ideal so he moved on to the third.

c) Call the Avengers Compound and treat him there. Not ideal either, bringing a possible HYDRA agent in was a huge security risk. If they even took him in. Bucky had worked hard to not be viewed as the enemy anymore. Most had accepted him as one of their own by now but he couldn't be sure that they'd trust this boy on his shaky endorsement alone.

That left him with option d). Take him home, treat him himself, keep him secret until he knows more. It wasn't without risks. Maybe HYDRA was tracking him, even though Bucky doubted that. They would've picked him up by now if they could do that. And even if he had a tracker this was a risk with any other option, though. He also wasn't a medical professional. But out of all the options this was the best one.

So Bucky picked the boy up as carefully as possible. "Hey, Kid. I'm gonna take care if you, okay?", he mumbled more to himself as he gently placed him in the back of his car.

~

Bucky wasn't sure how exactly this happened but there was a kid in his bed.

After he brought the boy into his Brooklyn apartment he took care of his wounds as quickly as possible but to his surprise they were already closing up by themselves.

Apparently he had a healing factor which ment that HYDRA had experimented on him, too. An awful fact that might safe his life. Bucky still set his bones straight, cleaned the wounds and wrapped them up with bandaids. The kid's healing would take care of the rest, now Bucky had to wait for him to wake up.

He waited for two days. The kid was completely knocked out. Bucky checked on him regularly but there wasn't much else to do.

He woke up from time to time, but not really. Unseeing eyes and slurred words, whimpers, pleading. Whenever Bucky listened to the boy begging for his life, or begging for his death, he wished that he'd just sleep.

The boy in his bed took up his mind like nothing had in a while. Bucky tried to figure out what had happened to him. His injuries didn't look man made. More like he was run over by a truck half a dozen times.

Except for the wounds on the insides of his arms. They were scratches. When Bucky washed him he saw the blood beneath his nails. He possibly did this to himself.

It didn't quite make sense to Bucky. HYDRA didn't do this to him, it didn't look like them. His theory was that the boy hadn't been in HYDRA custody when his injuries happened. This looked like an accident that he only survived because of his healing factor. The arms still didn't fit but Bucky would just have to ask him about that once he woke up, if he did wake up.

~

It happened at night.

Bucky spend his nights in an armchair by his bed ever since the kid took up the space. Bucky didn't sleep a lot anyways. Dealing with his nightmares got a whole of a lot harder when he was by himself.

He still didn't resent Steve for going off with Stark. Steve had built a life for himself in the future. Bucky had to do the same and he needed to do it by himself. He chose to leave the Avengers  compound, to move out and live alone. It was right that way, he was sure of it. Still, it was tough on him. Bucky hadn't been alone since... ever, really. It was something he had to get used to.

He was reading a lot, and writing. The things he remembered filled countless journals by now. He kept them in a little suitcase in his closet, away from view, he didn't want to constantly think about them.

In the beginning it was a lot, the memories ambushed him whenever, rolling over him like an avalanche. After a while they got spaced out, sporadic. There were still blank spaces and maybe he'd never get everything back, but Bucky didn't necessarily want everything back, anyways. The majority was bad anyways.

These days he read more, mostly Sci-Fi. It had been his favorite back in the 40s and the genre had only gotten wilder since then. Right now he was reading Dune, a classic apparently.

When he glanced up two wide eyes were staring at him. They weren't like the other times, glazed over and distant. They were clear, sharp and terrified.

Bucky carefully put down the book and took note of how the eyes tracked his every move. "Good Mornig, Kid, you with me?", he asked carefully. The boy didn't reply, he didn't move, Bucky wasn't even sure if he was breathing. He just looked so fucking scared.

"Okay... first off, you can relax. Nobody will hurt you here. I'm just trying to help. I treated your wounds.", Bucky tried a different approach. The boy didn't look at the bandages but he reached for the one on his arm. His hand was shaky when he let his fingers glide over the fabric.

"You'll be okay. Most of it has healed already. You heal fast, don't you?" Still no reply. Bucky wasn't sure if he was rushing it but he preferred to be clear right out the gate. "Look, Kid. I'd appreciate it if you told me if you're on the run. Are people searching for you? Is... is HYDRA searching for you?"

That got an instant reaction. The boy flinched and sat up before letting out a pained gasp. He wrapped his arm around his torso as his whole body shook with panic.

"I'm not HYDRA, I promise, not anymore at least.", Bucky hurried to explain. "You don't remember me, do you?"

The boy hesitated, then he shook his head slightly. Right, Bucky knew that feeling. "We met- once. I used to be HYDRA's marionette. I trained you once, you and a girl. They called me the Winter Soldier." The boys eyes grew even larger if that was even possible but he still didn't say anything so Bucky just continued.

"Somebody saved me. HYDRA doesn't control me anymore. Did you get saved? Did you escape on your own?" The kid didn't reply, his eyes grew distant for a second and suddenly they were filled with tears.

A single one escaped and trailed down his cheek and it's like that triggered some alarm in the kid's head. Suddenly he jumped out of the bed and for a second Bucky thought that he was attacking him. But instead the kid headed for the corner.

He didn't get far, though. His messed up leg was healing but it was still very fragile and he collapsed almost instantly. He yelped in pain but still continued to drag himself as far away from Bucky as possible. All while more and more tears streamed down his face that he tried to wipe away and hide.

Bucky got up from his chair which was registered as a threat. The boy flinched away, curled up and braced himself for... for god knows what, Bucky could imagine a handful things that the kid expected, all of which Bucky had endured himself, too.

So he kneeled on the floor and didn't get closer, made himself as nonthreatening as possible. "I'm not hurting you. Not touching you.", he announced and scared eyes watched him.

Another tear. The kid whimpered and hid his face. Bucky had an idea what the issue was. "Kid, you can cry. It's okay. No shame in tears." A sob tore through the boy's body, made him tremble but he cramped up again immediately. Bucky had no plan for how to approach this. He just went with his instinct. "I don't mind. Really. I cry a lot, too." That made the boy look at Bucky again. And while there was still distrust in his eyes, at least he didn't seem as terrified anymore. "After what HYDRA puts you through... it's hard to not cry all the time."

Bucky normally wouldn't say this not to some stranger, not to someone that wasn't his therapist, but he felt like the kid needed to hear it.

"Are you on their side?", he then asked and the boy instantly shook his head. Good.

"Okay, let me ask you a few questions, you don't have to say anything. Just shake your head or nod, okay?" He nodded.

"Is HYDRA searching for you?" A nod.

"Can they track you?" A shake.

"Do you know how you got your injuries?" A nod.

"Is there anyone I can call? Someone you'd like to contact?" He hesitated, then he shook his head. Interesting.

"That's all of them.", Bucky then announced. It weren't half the questions he wanted to ask but he feared that more would overwhelm him. "Now, let me answer some questions you might have. My name is Bucky Barnes, I used to be one of HYDRA's Assets but I escaped about 3 years ago. You are in my apartment in Brooklyn. You're safe here. I found you by the side of a road, you were pretty banged up. Your right arm was broken, your left leg was fractured in two places and I'm pretty sure your kneecap was shattered, you might've also had some cracked ribs, I couldn't really use an X-ray on you. No idea how you even got to the spot where I found you. Anyways, you're already healing and judging by how things are going you should be fine again in a couple of days. I'd prefer to keep you in bed until your leg is mostly stable again. Would that be okay?"

The boy watched him, blinked, then nodded. He then tried to push himself off the floor just to let out a hiss. "Mind if I help you?" The kid hesitated, glanced down on himself and then at the bed that was a couple of feet away. He let out a sigh and something like resignation settled on his face. He nodded slowly and Bucky carefully moved to pick him up again. The boy went slack in his arms but Bucky had a feeling that it was from anything but relaxation.

He quickly placed the boy back on the bed and tucked him in. When he took a few steps back the kid was staring at him again, his eyes looked tired, the little bit of energy he had had run out. "One more thing. You've been asleep for two days and you haven't eaten anything. Before you fall asleep again I'd like you to eat something if you can manage."

Hesitation, then a nod. Bucky rushed out of the bedroom and into the kitchen where he made the first thing he could think of that wasn't all that time consuming. He still had chicken soup in his fridge that he reheated. Then a grabbed a bit of bread and a bottle of water before carrying it all back into the bedroom.

He feared that maybe the boy was already asleep but he was met with the same intense state as before. He set the food down on the nightstand. The boy only touched it once he returned to his chair. It seemed to be neutral territory.

The kid ate slowly glancing at Bucky constantly, like he was scared that he'd rip the food away. Or maybe he just waited for Bucky to tell him to stop. He didn't though, so the boy finished the soup and the bread and drank the Water and by the time he was done his eyes were already closing.

Bucky could tell that he was trying to stay awake, that he was scared to sleep. "It's okay, kid. You can sleep. I'll watch out for you." The boy nodded slowly before his eyes finally shut completely and his breathing slowed down.

Bucky let out a sigh he didn't know how was holding bank. Then he went to grab the empty bowl and carried it back to the kitchen. After he put it in the sink he braced himself on it for a moment.

Bucky tried to process all of this. Somehow he had a kid now, a kid that was on the run from HYDRA and maybe someone else. A kid that either didn't want to or couldn't talk to him, a kid who's name he didn't even know. A kid that was fucking terrified.

"Fuck...", he whispered. "What they do to you?", he asked quietly. There was no answer. One thing was for sure, though. Bucky would take care of him, he'd protect him. No matter what happened next.

Chapter Text

Bucky hadn't taken care of anything for decades, except maybe his houseplants and those were pretty fucking dead.

But maybe taking care of a little punk was like riding the bike. After awhile he got right back into it.

Granted, Kid was nothing like Steve when he was still little but the basics still applied. That's what he called him, by the way. Just Kid. Because he still didn't tell Bucky his name, or if he even had one.

He didn't speak at all, except for when he slept. Bucky preferred not to think about the things he said in his sleep.

In the beginning it was all about patience. Luckily Bucky had that down. He had spend countless nights next to Steve's bed, making sure that he was still breathing.

It was a bit like that. Ar first Kid slept a lot, or maybe he pretended to sleep. Bucky tried to get him to eat whenever he was awake. He quickly found that he had to stay present, though. Or else Kid just wouldn't eat the food, even if it was right in front of him.

Bucky asked why he did that. Surprise! Kid didn't answer. He just shrugged before continuing to eat.

There was a couple of rules that manifested themselves quite quickly. Kid kept to the bed unless he had to go to the bathroom. Bucky didn't help him up, he didn't change his bandages, Kid did that himself until he didn't need them anymore. Bucky didn't touch Kid at all. This was a no no.

It didn't surprise Bucky. He hated people touching him, too. Especially strangers. He was getting better at it, but he rarely found any comfort in touch.

That was one thing they had in common. The other was sleep. Once Kid was mostly healed, he did a 180 and barely slept at all and Bucky didn't force him to. They would both stay awake into the early hours of the morning until one of them dozed off.

Sometimes Bucky would speak to Kid, Kid would reply by nodding or shaking his head, if he felt like it. Sometimes he just pulled faces, sometimes it felt like he wasn't really there.

Bucky offered him books, movies, music. Anything to entertain him (and to see if there was a person in there.) Sometimes it felt like there wasn't anyone to safe. Like Kid was an empty shell. The lights were on but nobodies home. Sometimes Bucky wondered if there was even a point or if Kid was just following orders. Stay in bed, eat this food, read this book.

Then Bucky remembered how he himself used to be and felt guilty. He had been just like this, worse even. He had been violent. Steve didn't give up on him, Steve wouldn't give up on Kid. So Bucky didn't either.

He ignored the times it felt like he was taking care of a machine and not a person. He focused on all the moments that told him that Kid was real and alive and in there.

Whenever his real person came through, whoever he was, it wasn't a relief, not really. It didn't leave you feeling lighter because it only ever made things harder.

It was waking up to Kid screaming in his sleep. It was coming into the room and seeing Kid stare out the window, tears streaming down his face. It was seeing Kid twitch when ever Bucky got to close, even if only for a second in passing by.

They were wake-up calls, startling reminders that Kid was human, and that he was terrified and hurt and couldn't express it for whatever reason. It was frustrating and heartbreaking to watch but Bucky had learned patience from a young age. He gave Kid time.

~

After a few days Kid was almost completely healed up and could walk around the apartment. Bucky was faced with a decision, he didn't really plan this far so now he had no idea what to do next.

He had an escaped HYDRA- Agent living at his place, how was he supposed to keep that secret? And how was he supposed to explain that to anyone? He spend hours trying to figure out what to do next. In the end he arrived at the conclusion that he should talk to Kid first. So he went back to the bedroom.

Kid still spend most of his time in there. He only left it when Bucky told him to. Like it was a prison cell. Bucky didn't like thinking about it that way but he couldn't help it.

When he stepped in there wasn't much out of the ordinary, at first. Kid was on the bed, dressed in one of Bucky's sweatshirts. Kid wasn't short or anything but compared to Bucky he was tiny. The sweater was almost like a dress on him.

He was reading, which he'd been doing often, whatever book Bucky left in the room last. Or he was pretending to read. Bucky could tell the difference. It was all too perfect when he pretended. The time between each page turn was always the same. Kid's attention was always on Bucky.

But not that day and Bucky quickly realized why. Next to the bed was a suitcase and in the suitcase was a pile of notebook and one of those notebooks was in Kid's lap. He hadn't noticed Bucky entering, he was actually reading this time.

Bucky froze. For a moment he didn't know what he was feeling or what he was supposed to feel. Two very different things. He felt like he should be angry, or disappointed, or defensive. For some reason he was worried. Not for himself. He knew what was in those books, every word a part of him. But it was disturbing. Bucky knew that it was silly, he knew that whatever happened to Kid, he'd been touched by HYDRA's horrors way before finding those books. Still, he didn't want to add to Kid's nightmares.

"Kid?" His calm tone sounded like a scream in the silence between them and Kid looked up. Bucky prepared himself for him to flinch back, to drop the book and start shaking like a he always did when he though that he did something forbidden.

Kid didn't flinch, he stared Bucky down. Then he did something Bucky would've never seen coming. "Peter.", he said and his voice was weak and cracked from not being used but it was much cleared than when he spoke in his sleep. Bucky was absolutely baffled. For a second he thought that he had imagined it and then the boy cleared his throat before saying:"I'm called Peter."

It was too fucking casual for a boy that spend a whole week silent. "Well, nice to meet you! Since when can you speak?", Bucky asked with a laugh. It wasn't joyfull or funny, it was the kind of laugh you do what you don't knows what else to do.

Peter shrugged with one shoulder and pulled a face. Bucky needed a second to realize that he was smirking, only with one corner of his mouth but still. He had no idea that the boy was capable of that. "Didn't feel like talking. Too exhausting.", he then supplied which in turn was something Bucky could actually wrap his mind around. He'd get moods like this, were he wasn't verbal at all. Granted, he never stayed silent for several days, but he could imagine feeling drained like that. Especially when you aren't used to being social, or when being alive is already exhausting enough. He wasn't sure which one applied to Peter, maybe both.

"And what changed?", Bucky heard himself asked and Peter's eyes fell to the book in his hands. He let it fall close before holding it up as an answer.

"Sorry. I didn't know what it was until I opened it.", he then said and his tone didn't sound fearful, but it wasn't nonchalant either. It sounded like resignation, like whatever. Bucky wasn't sure if that was better or worse than fear.

"Why'd you keep on reading?", he asked and Peter shrugged again.

"Why do people look at old pictures of themselves?", Peter asked in turn and Bucky raised his eyebrows.

"'Cause they like to revisit the memories. I really hope that ain't why you read it. Are you some kinda masochist?", Bucky huffed and Peter smirked. It was still weird to see him do that.

"Nah. But it felt... I don't know. Like recognition. Like looking in a mirror."

"You didn't believe me before, did you? What I told you about me, you didn't believe it.", Bucky realized.

To his surprise Peter shook his head. "Nah. I knew you were HYDRA. I just didn't believe it, didn't believe that you were like me.", Peter said and Bucky knew what he ment. There was a difference between knowing something as a fact and believing in it. Bucky knew lots of things, he didn't believe in much.

"So you do remember me?", he smirked but this time Peter didn't. He just watched him, one second, two, three, five, ten.

"Something like that. "

Bucky didn't know what that was supposed to mean but he didn't start digging.

"Are you mad? That I read it?", Peter then asked and his calm demeanor wavered ever so slightly. It wasn't completely gone but you could see it in his eyes. That he was still afraid.

Bucky let out a sigh and let himself drop into the armchair. "I feel like I should be but I'm not.", he replied honestly.

Peter looked down at the book in his hands again. His eyes didn't meet Bucky's even he asked:"Do you want me to leave?"

It didn't surprise Bucky, that Peter would think that. It was still upsetting. "No of course not. Why should you think that?"

Peter still didn't face him when he replied. "Well, I'm healthy again, I'm a burden and a waste of space, I invaded your privacy, I let you think that I couldn't speak for a whole week-"

Bucky cut him off right there, before Peter could continue trash-talking himself. "Nah, I knew that you could speak, you speak in your sleep."

This brought Peter to finally look up again, eyebrows pulled into a frown. "I'm sorry that you had to hear that."

"Nothing I didn't experience myself. As you said, recognition.", Bucky shrugged. Peter didn't say anything for a while, he just stared, expression turning unreadable.

Bucky had a question on his mind, he had a lot of them actually and he wasn't sure if now was the right thing to ask.

"Can you do me a favor?", Peter then asked.

"Depends on what it is."

Peter chewed at his lip, struggling to say it but when he did it was like he had read Bucky's mind. "Please don't ask what happened to me." It was a quiet, pitiful plea and Bucky knew that it hurt him. That it hurt Peter to ask for something.

"Why not?"

Again, silence while Peter seemed to struggle with himself. "I'm scared.", he then admitted and Bucky's chest tightened.

"Of me?", he asked, assuming that that's what it was. He wouldn't be offended if Peter agreed, or at least he'd try not to be.

"No. But- I'm scared that things will change if I tell you. I know that it'll happen eventually but I- I need a breather, I need a break. I'm sorry." Peter wasn't looking at him as he spoke, his head lowered and now the fear had crept back in. Maybe it never really left, maybe Peter just managed to hide it. Now it was back and clear as day. Peter was afraid and Bucky wasn't sure of what. HYDRA? His past? Rejection? Or maybe it was the simple act of asking for something.

It was all so terribly familiar, Bucky still slipped into doing it sometimes. He'd rather endure whatever anyone did, even if it made him uncomfortable, even if it made him sick, than asking them to stop.

Especially friends, especially people he trusted. It took him months to admit to Steve that every time they hugged it made Bucky's skin crawl and of course Steve was horrified which only made Bucky feel worse about it. It was all just really frustrating, needing things, wanting things, asking for them. Especially when you weren't allowed to do that for so long.

"I need a break, I'm sorry." The words echoed in Bucky's mind when he looked at Peter really looked at him. At his gaunt face, at the circles around his eyes that never went away, no matter how much he slept, at the exhausted look in his eyes that only came with tears of horror.

Bucky knew how much it must've taken out of Peter to ask for this, to ask for time and a bit of privacy. He knew and he respected it. And damn, Peter really needed a break.

"Then I won't. But you know that you can tell me when you're ready."

Peter didn't say that he would, instead he just said :"Thank you." Before turning his head to the window, the sun outside reflecting in his eyes. "I want-", Peter then started but his voice broke off.

"What?", Bucky asked.

A deep breath, an even deeper sigh and Peter closed his eyes. "Nevermind.", he shrugged but it sounded so fucking pained that it crushed Bucky's heart.

That was the end of the conversation, Bucky knew it, heard it by the finality in the boy's tone. Peter had said all that he could, for now. It was progress but now Bucky was back to waiting. Patience.

Chapter Text

Peter was dead.

How did Wade know this? Well, it all started with a devastated Tony Stark, calling in an Avengers meeting to explain that his missing son had been found but was missing again.

The news was met with joy (your son is back!), horror (oh no, HYDRA had him) and worry (is he okay?). Though, it was mostly horror and worry. Not much room for a joy when a traumatized young man fucks off to god knows where.

Of course a search was organized between the members of the super-squad and Wade focused everything he had on finding Peter.

Otherwise he would've probably ripped Black Widows head of. He was like this close at least a dozen times. Every time she apologized, to be precise. She was sorry for what she did, of course she was. Wade heard a conversation between her and Iron-Dad. He could've sworn that he heard her cry, or maybe Tony was the one who was crying, or maybe it was Wade himself. That had been happening a lot the last couple of days. Like a broken fucking faucet, he was just leaking all over the place.

(Crybaby!)

Anyways, she was sorry but that wasn't important. Sorry wouldn't bring Peter back.

Wade wasn't a pessimist, or an optimist for that matter. He was desperate, though, desperate and soft, for Peter. Wade had dumped the whole don't-get-attached thing overboard a long time ago. Maybe it wasn't there in the first place. He loved easily, way too easily for someone who seemed to kill everything in his reach. Now Peter seemed to be the next life he destroyed in his path.

And sure, logically he knew that this wasn't his fault and that Peter's life had been a raging dumpster fire way before Wade ever got his hands on it. But Wade wasn't a creature of logic, his existence wasn't bound to logic, it rarely applied to him and his mind rarely focused on it.

Wade wasn't optimistic, someone like him couldn't afford optimism. He wasn't like Domino. Things didn't just work out for him. But this wasn't about Wade's happiness, it was about Peter and Wade would've never given up as long as there was even a slight chance that Peter was still out there. He was sure of that.

Then they found the Quinjet.

They found the wreck several miles outside New York and seeing it with his own eyes opened up a pit in Wade's stomach, a dark hole that was always there but right now it was growing, consuming everything.

This had been there first real lead. The moment they heard that the jet was located Tony, Steve and Wade didn't waste a second to get their asses there. But now that they were looking at it Wade almost wished that they hadn't come.

They were standing in a pile of metal, completely shredded and torn apart by the crash. And there was blood. No body but blood that dried days ago. It lead away from the crash and they followed it, because there was nothing else to do. They followed it until they lost the trail.

"He survived the crash, that proves it!", Steve said, trying to lift the spirits, keep up moral.

Wade glanced at Tony. The older man had been burning the candle at both ends since his son took off and it showed. Tony was devastated and just as desperate as Wade but when they looked at each other Wade knew that they thought the same thing. 'How long could he have survived that way, though?'

Peter was injured when he got out of the wreckage, that was indisputable. The amount of blood he lost should've killed him but he had a healing factor. One that mightbe saved him. Might've.

" He has an expiration date. And it might be sooner than you think." Death's words played in his head on repeat ever since they found the wreck, even before that. Sooner? How soon? Like now?

"Cap, I need you to kill me.", Wade announced.

"Wha- Wade! What are you talking about?!", Steve gasped and Tony gave Wade a concerned look.

"Yeah, Imma speak to Lady Death real quick, make sure that we ain't looking for a ghost.", he explained.

"Wilson, get a grip, please. What the fuck are you talking about?!", Tony asked, his tone sharp. When he wasn't all mopey Tony was on the agitated side, Wade couldn't blame him.

"I'm immortal. I'm friends with death. I'll pay her a visit and ask if she came across a little spider-boy.", he explained his voice slow and patient, like he was talking to children. The children stared at him like he was insane. Granted, he was, but not about this.

But neither of them made a move to kill him. "Fuck this, then I'll do it myself.", he sighed before pulling out a gun and sending a bullet through his brain.

~

Afterlife, everything light and painless and better, yadda yadda, whatever. The typical crap that Wade didn't care for.

He stormed up to the door of a nightclub, that's what it looked like today and Death was the bouncer. She looked like Vanessa,what a surprise. Wade never got used to the tug that his heart made every time he saw her. He knew that it wasn't her but still.

"Wade, back so soon?", she asked with Vanessa's familiar voice, her familiar smile, the familiar sparkle in her eyes and god, Wade didn't want anything more than to stay and pretend. That's why he stopped killing himself for her, he knew that he couldn't stay, couldn't pretend, but god, it was tempting.

"Yeah. You remember our last date? The boy we talked about? Peter, did he come through here?", he asked urgently and Not-Vanessa raised her eyebrows.

"Peter?", she asked with a silly smile as she stalked towards him.

"Yes, Peter. Skinny guy, messy brown hair, doesn't understand pop culture. Ring a bell? You seemed pretty familiar with him last time." Wade had no time for Death's games but she never really cared much for what he wanted. Wade didn't mind her most of the time but he also knew that she was essentially a predator and he was her prey. If she wanted to play with him she would do exactly that.

"Oh that one.", she said innocently as she leaned in on Wade, holding onto his neck and pressing herself against him.

She wasn't warm, that's what always convinced him that she wasn't Vanessa. She wasn't alive, couldn't even pretend to be, not fully. Death had never lived, she'd never understand.

"Yeah that one. He went missing and I'm worried.", Wade stated, no humor in his voice. Death's hand curled in his hair as she looked up at him, smiling like this wasn't about life or death.

"I warned you, Wade. You never learn, do you?", she then asked and her voice was sweet but it made Wade's dead heart skip a beat.

"What do you mean by that?", he asked, a quiver in his voice.

Death didn't answer for a moment. She just let her finger trace Wade's jaw, a playful smile on her lips. Then:"He was very brave, you know. So fucking brave. I gotta say, you have great taste, love."

"No...", Wade whispered. She couldn't mean that- she couldn't- Peter couldn't be-

"He fought so hard! Like he dragged himself out of this wreck, how he clung to life, all very admirable. It didn't safe him in the end." Her voice was gentle but it was like venom for Wade's soul. It tore through him viciously as his mind tried to make sense of this.

"I don't believe you...", he hissed and Death gave him a pitiful look and it was so much worse because she wore Vanessa's face.

"Oh darling... I warned you.", she shrugged like she wasn't carving out Wade's heart, again. Her hands snaked around his back and pulled him closer down to her until his face was in her shoulder and there wasn't any point in fighting her. "He told me about you, you know. When he came through here. He asked if he'd ever see you again. Isn't that sweet?"

Wade wanted to scream but the only thing that came out was a whimper. If- If Peter was dead, that was it. He'd be like Vanessa, out of Wade's reach. He'd never see him again.

"Please...stop.", he whimpered.

"Are you sure?", a voice asked and Wade didn't want to look up because he knew what he'd see.

But Death wouldn't have it so she lifted his head up until he came face to face with Peter, or rather, Peter's face. It wasn't him, Wade knew that. Because Death always made things perfect, too perfect. This Peter was healthy, he didn't look like a ghost, his eyes weren't rimmed with red and he was smiling, unbothered. None of that was his Peter. He was lacking Peter's edges, the pain that shaped him into the person Wade knew, the person he loved. Seeing him still hurt, god, it hurt. "You love him.", Death said in Peter's voice and Wade felt his insides shrivel and die all over again.

"Stop...", he pleaded and there they were again, the tears, broken fucking faucets.

"Never got to tell him that, did you? Never got to kiss him?",she asked and it felt like mockery, each word cut like a knife. She was throwing these words in his face, things he hadn't even dared to admit to himself. Now it was too late.

"It's really a shame, isn't it?", Death asked and started to lean in and Wade knew what was coming but that didn't mean that he could bear it.

"Please...I can't- I don't want this.", he pleaded, looking down into Not-Peter's eyes.

"Don't  lie to yourself.", Death hissed and then her lips were on his, Peter's lips but it was nothing that Wade ever wanted, he didn't want any of this. No, please-

~

Wade was alive.

Peter wasn't.

"Wade! What the fuck was that?!", Stark exclaimed but Wade didn't really listen or care.

He stared up into the sky, the sun was already setting. Did Peter see this when he died? He always loved the sky. Wade thought back to the first night at the motel when Peter first opened up to him by the swimming pool under the night sky. He hoped that Peter got to see the sky and the stars a last time. He hoped that Peter hadn't been in pain, that he hadn't been scared in his last moments. He hoped that he could find peace now, wherever he was, wherever Wade couldn't reach him.

"Wade, what just happened?", Steve asked, the gentler half of the duo.

"He's dead.", Wade breathed out.

"What?" Wade wasn't sure who asked that, they sounded worried. No point in worrying, it was too late anyways.

[Always too late, huh?]

(Couldn't be fast enough for Vanessa or Peter, could you?)

"Peter's dead."

Silence.

~

Tony was drunk. He hadn't touched a drink in years but he was completely hammered.

There wasn't much left to do when you're told that the son you just got back was dead. Sure, they didn't find no body, but Tony saw the blood and Wade had been pretty fucking convincing.

So Tony drank. He hoped that it would relief some of the pain, numb him to the bottomless tear that had opened up in his chest. Blur some of the agony. Surprise, surprise! It didn't work.

He still didn't stop , though. Even when Steve begged him to. Steve held Tony's face in his hands and Tony looked up into those big baby-blues. He was trying to find the comfort he usually found in them, the safety. But he had no capacity for that anymore, it was just void.

"Tony,  this doesn't have to mean anything, he could still be-", Tony didn't really listen, his mind was constantly fizzling out, jumping from thought to thought. Frantic and uncontrollable.

Where was Wade-

Was Peter in pain-

He'd have to do something about Peter's room-

Maybe he could burn the house down-

Was this all that was left for him now-

How was he supposed to-

how could he-

he could never-

Peter once explained how it felt to loose time. One moment you're there, the next you aren't, all the lights are out, no one's home. Where did he go-

Tony lost time.

~

Somewhere in Brooklyn two Ex-Hydra-Assets were sitting in a livingroom, eating Chinese takeout while watching a Disney movie when one of them got a very distraught call from his best friend.

Chapter Text

Bucky wasn't used to this, he wasn't used to Steve being the one who was calling him on the verge of tears. Ever since Bucky was saved he was the one who was the emotional wreck. The one that needed to be calmed down and consoled. Steve was always there for him but Bucky never quite felt like Steve needed him. Even when they were young Steve was this determined, unwavering spitfire, Steve never broke down. Right now he did.

Bucky picked up the phone to gasping breaths and quickly excused himself. Peter and him had been eating dinner while watching tangled. Peter barely reacted to him leaving, too engrossed in the movie. He started to become more present, a good sign.

"Buck- Buck I don't know what to do- I don't know how to make it okay- I don't-" Bucky never heard Steve like this before, obviously panicking and out of his mind. It made Bucky's heart seize with worry.

"Steve- Stevie, take a breath for me please. What's happening, is everything okay?", he asked, trying to keep his calm. He heard Steve take a few wheezing breaths, almost like when he still used to have asthma and then Steve told him about Tony's son. A boy that disappeared 10 years ago, a boy that was raised by HYDRA until he was saved. A boy that freaked out and took off in a Quinjet that he crashed right outside New York. A boy named Peter.

There was no doubt that Bucky's Peter was Tony's son, all of a sudden it was clear as day. It explained how the boy knew who Bucky was without remembering him. It explained why he didn't have a tracker. It didn't explain why he ran off, why Peter didn't tell Bucky who he was, why he was hiding.

"Bucky?", Steve asked on the other line and Bucky realized that he hadn't said anything in a while.

"Yeah, sorry. How- are you sure that he's dead?", Bucky asked and he heard Steve take a shuddering breath.

"Wade, the guy that found him, it's complicated but he spoke to death and she told him that Peter died.", Steve explained and Bucky glanced over at the door to the livingroom where Peter sat, very much alive.

"I just don't know how to pull Tony out of this, he barely started confronting Peter's first supposed death. Loosing him again...I don't know if he can bare it. "

Bucky should be talking to Steve, he should be consoling him. He should be telling him that everything would be okay. Or even better, he should be telling him that Peter was alive and fine, as fine as he could be after everything he went through. But Bucky couldn't do that, not as long as he didn't understand why Peter was keeping this to himself, why he was running. If he told on Peter without his consent he'd just loose his trust.

"Steve, I- I'm so sorry but I need to call you back. I have to take care of something first but I swear, everything will be okay.", he quickly said before hanging up. He felt bad about leaving Steve hanging like this but he had to handle this immediately. When he came back into the livingroom Peter glanced up casually before seeing Bucky's expression. He had to look pretty shaken because Peter immediately asked if he was okay.

"I- I just got a phone call.", Bucky announced, looking down at the phone in his hand. "It was Steve. Peter, why didn't you tell me that you're Tony Stark's son?"

Peter froze, only for a second and then the boy was on high-alert mode. "Did you tell him that I'm here?", he asked, his voice controlled, completely ignoring Bucky's question.

"Not yet, not until I know why you're hiding from them.", Bucky replied. He really didn't want Peter to feel cornered and he tried to keep his cool but all this freaked Bucky out. Peter's reaction to that didn't help.

"Okay, thank you. I just need a headstart.", Peter replied, getting up from the couch like he was going to run off again. It took Bucky a second to realize that that was exactly his plan.

"What? No. You're not going anywhere until you tell me why you're running away."

Peter lowered his eyes and Bucky watched him clench his fists, his whole body tense. For a second he thought that Peter would attack him but then he just asked:"Did he tell you what happened?" There was strain in his voice and Bucky had to pick his words wisely.

"That Natasha upset you and that you ran away." Peter barked out a laugh, a bitter one. Then he wrapped his arms around his torso, held himself tightly like he might come apart any second.

"Did he also tell you about what I did? About what they found out about me?", he asked and there was an edge in his voice, like he was challenging Bucky. Steve indeed didn't tell him about any of that so Bucky shook his head. "I have a file, it documents everything I did at HYDRA.", Peter started and Bucky noticed how he said 'I did'. Like he had any choice, like it wasn't done to him, like it was his fault.

"Natasha read it. And she told them all about me. About the programming I have, about what I did.", Peter's voice broke off for a second and he looked up at Bucky, his eyes haunted. "I killed my best friend, I ripped her apart on command. I'm a loaded gun and now they know.", he shrugged and Bucky could see how stricken with grief he was. Grief and selfloathing.

"I even-", Peter let out a shaky agonizing laugh. "I even attacked them. After she told them, I just snapped. I'm dangerous, I don't trust myself and I can't expect them to do that. But I- I don't think I could take it, the way they'll look at me now that they know. And I can't go back to some fucking lab. I can't."

It made sense, or at least it did in Peter's mind. Bucky understood his logic because he had thought the same way for so long, he still slipped back into it from time to time. The inability to trust someone fully, to rely on them. Bucky knew that feeling. He also knew that it could get you to do some pretty stupid stuff. Like assuming that nobody could ever forgive you.

"Peter, I get it, I really do. ", Bucky stated but Peter didn't look convinced. He also looked like he'd make a run for it any second. So Bucky went back to the couch and sat down, offering Peter a seat as well. Peter was reluctant at first but finally let himself fall next to Bucky. "When I first started to remember who I was, the guilt was... crushing me. Don't know how much you know about me but I killed countless people, I did horrible things and similarly to you, I had a file. Steve read it."

Peter didn't ask what happened, he didn't have to, the raise of his eyebrow was question enough.

"I- I hated it. I thought that Steve could never accept what I had become. I mean I couldn't even accept it myself. Turns out it was more of a me-problem anyways. He mostly felt sorry for me, which isn't all that great either, but he never blamed me. Tony wouldn't blame you either."

"You can't know that.", Peter stated, defeat in his voice. That might've been true, if Bucky didn't have a very concrete understanding of how much forgiveness Tony Stark was capable of.

"Uhm... yeah kid, I actually can.", Bucky shrugged with a humorless chuckle.

"What do you mean?", Peter asked, a puzzled expression on his face.

"Don't- don't get this the wrong way but, I killed Tony's parents. I wasn't myself... but still. I killed them. And when Tony found out-", Bucky's voice broke off at the memory. At a time when Bucky was what separated Tony and Steve, at a time when Tony couldn't stand to be in the same room as him. "Let's say he didn't take it well.", Bucky admitted.

"If this story is supposed to be encouraging you're doing a real shit job.", Peter stated and Bucky smirked at that.

"Patience, kid. I'm getting there. Well, he didn't take it well at first. Understandable if you ask me. He just found out his parents got murdered and now the murderer is right in front of him. Still, your dad only needed time. I couldn't believe it either but... he forgave me. I think he never really blamed me in the first place. You seeing where I'm going with this?", Bucky asked but Peter didn't reply, he only raised his eyebrows. "If he can forgive a random stranger that killed his parents, he will definitely not hold a grudge against his son. Hard to argue with that logic, isn't it?"

Peter still didn't reply to that, his eyes focused on his hands in his lap. Bucky could almost see the cogs turning in his head. A different approach, then. "Besides, Steve told me that they are pretty devastated, all of them. They think that you're dead."

That got Peter to look up again, his eyes alert. "Why?"

"Cause of the crash sight, the blood, you really shouldn't be alive. Plus, your friend spoke to death and she told him you were dead? Whatever that's about. ", Bucky sighed but Peter didn't seem to be listening anymore. He was staring into space, not a good sign. "Peter?"

"Maybe it's better like this. Makes it easier.", he then mumbled and god, no, this was going not at all like Bucky intended.

"Peter, I can't hide you forever.", he stated and suddenly Peter looked up at him with this manic look in his eyes.

"You don't have to. I'm okay now, I'll just disappear, go somewhere I can't bother anyone, it'll be safer that way. It'll be better for everyone." Worry bubbled up in Bucky. This was going south real quick.

"Or you could go home, let people who love you take care of you.", he suggested and Peter shook his head wildly.

"I can't!", he suddenly exclaimed and it was the loudest Peter had ever been. "I can't, okay?", he repeated, quieter this time and it was almost like a plea, every word dripping with desperation. "What if I go back? How long until I snap again? What if it's worse next time? What if I kill-", his voice broke off, eyes wide and terrified.

"The programming can be fixed, Peter. It worked for me.", Bucky tried to calm him but it worked the opposite.

"And how? Send me to some fucking lab where they take my brain apart?! I can't, Bucky. I can't go back. Please don't make me go back." He was crying by then, it pulled at Bucky's heart, made his throat tight, all this pain and fear that he knew so intimately made it hard to breath, to keep a clear head in this.

"And what if I promised you that they won't force you to do anything? What if I- what if I could keep you safe and what if I could keep them safe from you."

"How would you do that?", Peter asked shakily and that was a good question. Bucky was just kinda making this up on the go.

"You'd stay with me, or I'd stay with you. I've been at this point, I know the signs, I could stop you, if it gets bad.", he tried and for a second there was a spark in Peter's teary eyes that wasn't there before.

"You'd do that?", he asked and his tone was so heartbreakingly hopeful that Bucky had no other choice but to agree.

"I promise. You call the shots.", he nodded. "You need to talk to them, though. They can't keep on thinking that you're dead, okay?"

Peter wasn't convinced, not completely. Bucky could tell by the way he worried his lip and clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white. He was considering it, though. Maybe this could work. And after a few more minutes Peter finally looked up again.

"Okay...", he whispered. "I'll talk to them." Relief washed over Bucky like a wave and he let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding.

"Great, that's great.", he nodded, pulling out his phone. Peter eyed it nervously but when Bucky held it out for him, Steve's number already selected, he took it in his hand and pressed call.

"Steve, it's me, Peter."

Chapter Text

Peter wasn't hopeful in nature, he wasn't optimistic. Optimism was a foolish trait when you grow up the way he did. A fatal character flaw that made life so much more unbearable.

Things weren't good just because. Every rose had it's thorns and people were like that, too. Life was like that.

Peter didn't expect good things, he never did. For a while he though that that would make it hurt less. He couldn't be disappointed if he didn't expect anything, right? That's not how it worked. He had been stripped of everything he cared about often enough to know that nothing really helped. Still, Peter didn't hope for anything. He didn't expect that he could just go home, he didn't expect that his father would still want him, he didn't expect forgiveness. Not when he could never forgive himself.

But expecting and wanting something wasn't the same. Peter wanted things, more than he would ever admit. It was a hungry desperate feeling that he shoved away into the darkes corners of his mind. Because wanting something was dangerous, it was lethal. If you wanted something enough you might get hopeful and Peter couldn't do that to himself.

But his heart didn't care for his resolutions. So in the time he sat at Bucky's apartment a tiny, seemingly insignificant thing came alive inside of him. A though, a prayer, something he wanted. All he asked for was a little less pain. It couldn't be too much to ask for, right?

Well, there was a reason Peter didn't grant himself any hope. Even if everything seemed fine at first, it always backfired.

~

Peter was alive.

Alive.

Tony still couldn't truly believe it, even as he sat in the car with Steve and Wade. It was a strange feeling, like awful deja vu.

He felt like he was on a cruel twisted carousel, forced to repeat the same horrible loop. Lose Peter, think he's dead, find out he's alive, reunite, lose Peter again. Over and over, round and round. The ride to Brookly felt like leaving his workshop to see Peter for the first time in a decade, it felt just like that, hopeful and terrified. Tony wasn't sure how often he could go through that before it tore him apart.

"He's gonna be okay. Bucky took care of him.", Steve said beside him, his hand holding Tony's.

"Sorry, but I'll only believe that once I see him.", Tony mumbled. Wade didn't say anything. He was uncharacteristically quiet ever since he returned from his chat with Death. At first he seemed empty, now anger seemed to have filled that void. Tony didn't know what Wade's relationship with Death was, he wouldn't even try to pretend to understand how and why the fuck Wade seemed to be friends with the literal embodiment of death. It was too wild. But since Wade found out that he'd been lied to he was pretty pissed off.

When they finally arrived at Barnes' apartment building Tony was visibly shaking with nervousness but he still straightened his back and soldiered on. He'd never been to Barnes' appartment before. While Tony didn't blame the former Winter Soldier for his parents' death, not anymore at least, they were never close and Tony doubted that they ever would be. Still, he'd rather have Peter with Bucky than with anyone else, he might understand best what the boy needed.

By the time they reached the apartment door Tony didn't even attempt to hide his trembling. If Peter wasn't on the other side of that door he might just spontaneously combust.

Steve knocked. One second passed, two, three, on the fourth the door was pulled open and Bucky Barnes greeted them. He said something but Tony felt like his head was under water.

He lead them into the apartment, one step, two, three and there he was, Peter, sitting on the livingroom couch, looking so absolutely normal and okay that Tony wanted to bawl his eyes out on the spot.

"Peter-", Tony sighed out, heading for his son on instinct. He realized a second too late what he was doing and by then Peter already tensed up, bracing himself for whatever was to come.

Tony lowered his arms, taking a few steps back. "Sorry, I didn't mean to-", he stammered but Peter already shook his head.

"No, don't worry, it's fine.", he said even though it obviously wasn't. Tony could tell by how Peter crossed his arms, held himself, his shoulders hunched and defensive. They were all silent for a second, suffocating with uncertainty. "I'm sorry, for what I did- ", Peter started and of course they all wanted to jump to his defenses.

"You ain't the one that needs to apologize-", Wade stated but Peter cut him off, something that was surprising enough on it's own.

"No. You need to let me do this. I attacked you, I ran away, I hid. That wasn't fair and it's okay for you to think that way. Don't treat me like a raw egg just because you feel sorry for me." They were speechless once more. Tony wasn't sure how to interpret this. "So, yeah. I'm sorry, for everything. The way I reacted wasn't your fault, it's a me-problem.", Peter added with a shrug.

It felt big, in a strange way. Tony felt like Peter just made a huge step but he couldn't tell in which direction, if it was good or bad, if he should be hopeful or worried. Tony just wanted to say something but Peter seemed to be on a roll. For this part he got up, started to pace nervously as all eyes in the room tracked him. "I'm sorry, okay. I won't do it again, I'll come home.", he then announced and Tony's heart did a flip. "But I do have a few-", Peter glanced at Bucky who gave him an encouraging nod. "Conditions.", he finished, the nervous energy radiating off of him.

"Of course, whatever you want.",Tony nodded and Peter pulled a face before taking a moment to choose his words.

He stared at his feet like they knew the answer before saying:"I'm dangerous." Tony wanted to protest right away but Bucky held up his hand in order to stop him, he was telling him to listen, so Tony did."I'm dangerous, Natasha was right about that, and you can't afford to ignore that. So I need to be deprogrammed. But I can't go to SHIELD or some other lab, it'd kill me. So I need Bucky. He's been through this, he can help me. I also need him to... stop me, if I get bad again. Okay?"

Tony wouldn't pretend that he was thrilled, hearing his son talk about himself like a weapon, not a person, it was gut wrenching but he knew how much Peter struggled to ask for anything. And Tony would do everything to keep his son around so he agreed. "Yes, we can do that, whatever you need.", he nodded shakily.

"There is one more thing.", Peter said, his look uncertain, not scared but something not too far off. "You need to talk to me. Ask me what I-", Need? Want? Peter seemed unable to talk about himself like this. "Ask me what I think of something. I can't- I struggle to express what is manageable and it changes all the time but I don't like it when you assume that I'm too fragile to handle anything. So please, just ask me and one day I might be able to tell you by myself."

Tony was right, this was huge, this was momentous. "Deal. Whatever you want.", Tony said, desperate for something, anything, even if he couldn't name it. Peter nodded slowly and Wade couldn't contain himself now.

"Great, is it happy reunion time, yet?", he burst out and a soft smile split on Peter's lips.

"Come here.", he said with a little head tilt before opening his arms. Wade was gentle, careful in the way he approached and hugged Peter but after a few seconds Peter seemed to melt into his touch until they both clung to each other desperately.

Tony tried to swallow down the envy, the little twinge in his heart he felt at that.

Peter was mumbling something to Wade to which the larger man replied quietly:"I talked to death, she said you were dead." There was so much heartbreak in his voice that Tony was stunned for a second. Sure, he was aware that Wade cared for Peter, he wouldn't be here otherwise. But he hadn't realized the whole extent of it yet.

"Then maybe don't listen to that lying bitch next time, I don't die easily.", Peter replied and Tony couldn't see his face, it was buried in Wade's shoulder, but he knew that he was smiling and his words startled a breathless laugh out of Wade.

"I'll take that into consideration next time, thanks.", he smirked in return and Tony didn't attempt to hide his relief.

He decided to give the two a little privacy as he turned his attention towards Bucky and Steve. "You really did a number on him, Buck. I'm impressed.", Steve just said and Bucky smiled but didn't look up, seeming almost shy.

"Oh shut it, I ain't got anything to do with it. He wouldn't even talk to me the first few days.", he waved him off but Tony wouldn't let this go that easily.

"No, for real, this is huge! Peter asking for something? Fucking miracle. And I'm sure that that's your doing to a large extent, as well. You did good, Barnes."

Tony and Bucky were never close, they weren't really friends, more like ex-enemies/ acquaintances. They never pretended to be more than that. They got along but that's all, mostly it was for Steve's sake. But this had nothing to do with Steve. This was just Tony, with nothing but genuine gratitude for this man that saved his boy and seemed to helping him.

First Wade, now Bucky. Tony should start to make a list of people he owed all of his happiness to. He'd get them some extraordinary Christmas presents, maybe a Tesla.

"You got a great Kid, Stark. But I'm not gonna lie, it'll be rough.", Bucky said and Tony nodded.

"No doubts about that. But it'll work out.", Tony stated, not entirely convinced but hopeful.

"Is that something other than cynicism I hear there?", Steve asked with a cheeky smile, slipping his hand into Tony's.

"Nah, just certainty. What did dad use to say?", Tony glanced over at his son, this young man that according to every probability should be dead, but wasn't.

"Starks are made of Iron."

~

They went back to the Avengers Tower because it was closest and empty. The other's were back at the facility upstate and while they told them that Peter was safe they also enjoyed the time alone.

Steve wasn't sure how things would change now that the other Avengers knew of Peter's existence but for now things were okay. All of Steve's most important people were in one place. The love of his life, his step-son, his best friend, and ...Wade.

Yeah, he had gotten used to the chatty fella. And it was hard to dislike him when he cared for Peter so fiercely.

After returning to the Tower they scattered pretty quickly. Tony was dead on his feet after the days he spend running on alcohol or adrenaline. Peter and Wade shared a room and Bucky went off to somewhere by himself.

Steve didn't mind the alone-time. This wasn't half as bad for him as it was for Tony but he too, appreciated the breather.

He went to the kitchen on their floor, making himself Waffles even though it was 1 am. He was too worked up, too wired, he needed to do something.

He was just finishing it up when a soft knock startled him out of his solitude. Peter was leaning in the doorway, dressed in one of Bucky's sweaters, his hair standing in all directions but his eyes were awake and focused. "Mind me joining you? I smelled Waffles. ", he asked softly and a smile split on Steve's lips.

"Of course! Come on in.", he nodded and Peter shuffled over to the kitchen counter where the stack of Waffles was. He took one and stuffed it straight into his mouth.

While he chewed on it he watched Steve intently. There was something unsettling about Peter when he was like this, it was something Steve had noticed before. When he was sharp and quiet and focused he reminded Steve of Bucky. Of the Winter Soldier.

"Why are you awake?", Steve then asked, trying to break the tension. Peter and him never really warmed up to each other, then again Peter had trouble warming up to everyone. But still, they were never really alone, never without Tony or Wade, this was a first.

Peter swallowed before answering. "Can't sleep. The usual. Wade's asleep, though. He sounds like a walrus when he snores. I mean, I don't really know what a walrus sounds like but I imagine it to sound like that.", Peter replied and Steve was pretty sure he saw a smile curl around his lips. "Anyways, I was actually looking for Bucky."

"And instead you ran into me, sorry kid. Just the consolation prize.", Steve smirked and Peter pulled a face.

"Sorry, didn't mean it like that.", he sighed.

"Don't worry, I'm kidding. No bad blood.", Steve quickly clarified and Peter nodded slowly.

"If you say so."

"How are you doing?", Steve dared to ask after a moment of silence and to his surprise Peter actually answered.

He began with a sigh, strong start, then he let his eyes wander through the room until they landed on Steve. "I don't know. I'm okay, I think. Just, things usually don't stay okay for long. I wish I could just relax and enjoy it but- I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For you all to change your mind on me, to see me as I see myself."

Steve was so stunned by the honestly that it took him a second to reply. "But isn't that a bit pessimistic?", he asked and cursed himself straight away. Pessimistic? Really? Great job, Steve. Go, tell the traumatized kid that he just needs to change his attitude!

He was about to take back what he said when Peter replied. "I'd call it realistic. ", he shot back and raised an eyebrow, challenging him. Steve wasn't sure what to think now. Peter didn't seem upset by his words but he wanted something from Steve. What? A discussion? Steve thought of Tony and this certain look he sometimes got. It said:' go there, I wanna discuss this!'

What Steve would say next was risky, Peter could take it very very wrong. "But can you really be realistic when your sense of reality is so warped by all the abuse you've endured in your life?", Steve was holding his breath, waiting for his reaction.

God, this was a mistake. Then again, Peter didn't want to be wrapped up in bubble wrap anymore. But maybe Steve moved too fast, too harsh.

Peter smirked, he didn't see that coming. It was amused and a bit mocking but real. "Reality is different to everyone. How can my reality be wrong or warped if it's based on everything I've experienced. It's just as real as the life I could've had as Tony's son. And therefore my believes are just as grounded in reality as anybody else's.", he argued and Steve could see an something he hadn't before, a very small something but it was there. It caused the man to crack a smile.

"What are you smiling at?", Peter asked him, a bit wary all of a sudden.

"You remind me of Tony. I mean you look alike but you just sounded like him, too.", Steve smirked but Peter seemed to shy away even more, suddenly looking at the floor.

"I don't think there is anything about Tony and me that is alike . ", he mumbled and Steve tensed up.

"Why would you think that?", he asked and Peter shrugged before looking up at him again.

It took him a few seconds to determine if he should tell Steve but eventually he replied:"He's good and brilliant and he cares even though he doesn't have to and he refuses to give up on me even though he should've by now. I'm... I'm messed up. I could never be like that. I'm too busy breaking apart to build someone else up."

Steve couldn't breath. Like literally couldn't take a breath. On the outside he probably looked pretty calm, he almost always did but inside it was a whole other picture.

"Look, I don't know you very well. But I do know Tony and trust me Peter, that man's a mess.", he then said which seemed to catch Peter off guard. So much so that he let out a surprised chuckle which made the invisible hold on Steve's lungs ease up a little. "Like, really. You should've seen him when you took off, he was a wreck. Understandably so of course. And I get that you can't know that. He hides it, he has to, he's the parent. But believe me, he's just as terrified as you are, we all are. It's human nature. We're all so fucking scared, especially of the unknown. And don't beat yourself up if you feel that you can't help others right now. Sometimes you just gotta mend yourself first before you can do it for someone else.", he explained. Steve wasn't sure where the words came from, just that they felt right, important, meaningful.

"Like Bucky?", Peter asked, his face thoughtful.

Steve smiled softly. "Yeah, like Bucky. He used to be just like you. If he can do it, so can you."

Peter didn't say anything after that, for a while it was just silence but it wasn't necessarily uncomfortable.

Then Peter looked up again, his eyes meeting Steve and all of a sudden they didn't seem all that unsettling anymore, it's like Peter opened a door that was locked before. "I don't think I have ever thanked you.", he then said and Steve raised his eyebrows.

"For what."

"Just in general.", Peter shrugged. "You a good one.", he said with a careful smile. "Thank you."

Chapter Text

Wade woke up by himself and for a second his heart seized when he saw Peter's empty bed. His first thought was:" He's gone. Again."

Then the door to the bathroom opened, hot steam streaming out. Peter leaned against the doorway, dressed in a large T-shiet that probably belonged to Bucky, his hair wet, his cheeks rosy and damp.

"You're awake.", he pointed out, while entering the bedroom and flopping himself onto the bed.

"Yeah, why didn't you wake me up?", Wade asked before getting up from the armchair he slept in. His bones cracked when he stretched.

"Cause you seemed tired as fuck yesterday. ", Peter replied.

"You ain't wrong, baby boy. This whole ordeal took like 50 years off my life.", Wade chuckled quietly but when he looked at Peter his expression was serious and... guilty?

"I didn't mean to worry you, I'm sorry." , he then mumbled and Wade let out a sigh.

"Don't be. I don't blame you. Just, maybe don't do it again?", he suggested with an awkward shrug which actually got Peter to crack the tiniest of smiles.

He then bit on his lip, hesitating for a moment before patting the space beside him. "Lay with me?", Peter asked, sounding so god damn innocent that it made Wade's heart melt.

"Are you sure?", Wade asked carefully at which Peter rolled his eyes.

"Really? I thought we talked about this.", he stated with raised eyebrows.

"Yeah. Sorry.", Wade said, chuckling nervously before letting himself fall next to Peter. There was still several inches between them but considering everything, they were still pretty close.

Wade started up at the ceiling, trying to calm his thoughts, the voices in his mind. For a moment he thought that that was it, that he'd never see Peter again. To have him here, right beside him, Wade still couldn't quite believe it. He wanted to reach out, touch Peter, make sure that he was real and not just a mirage. He didn't dare, though. Not just like that.

Peter turned around until he laid on his stomach, propped up on his elbows, his face hovering over Wade's and Wade almost choked on his breath. "You're uncharacteristically quiet, what're you thinking about. ", Peter asked calmly, apparently unaware of how close they were and how it drove Wade insane.

"I really thought you were gone for good.", Wade whispered and Peter lowered his eyes until his long black lashes brushed against his cheeks.

"To be honest... so did I.", Peter said. "Before Bucky found me... I was sure that that was it. I was done. And it's not like I wanted to die but I... I looked up at the sky and it was all red and pink and gorgeous, I don't know. I didn't mind so much in that moment. It wouldn't have been a bad end. I could've lived with that." He smirked at his own choice of words but it didn't take away from the gravity of them. Maybe it just added to it, to the sweet sweet bitterness that laced his voice, that was chiseled into every feature of his face, painted in his eyes. Beautifully ruined.

"I know what you mean. I've had... a weird relationship with death for years now.", Wade admitted and Peter raised his eyebrows curiously.

"I've heard. So what's your relationship with... her? Is it a she?"

"Yeah, death's a she.", Wade said with a soft smile before taking a deep breath. He didn't talk about her usually. "I- As you know I can't die.", he started and Peter nodded. "And, basically everytime I die I meet her. I've died... I don't know, hundreds of times, I don't keep track. After a while we got pretty close. Mainly because she took the appearance of my dead girlfriend and that was closest I ever got to getting her back. It wasn't real though, and I stopped...killing myself for her when I realized that. She'd never admit it but... I think she's still pretty pissed that I dumped her. Whenever I do die these days she likes to mess around with me. It's fine, I can handle it usually but this time-", his voice broke off all of a sudden and his eyes met Peter's.

The boy's brows were pulled together, his eyes filled with worry and compassion and suddenly Wade felt something brush against his neck and he needed a second to realize that it was Peter's hand, laid across Wade's chest, gently stroking his skin.

It didn't even feel real in a way for multiple reasons. Peter, who most of the time could barely stand people being too close to him, was touching Wade, Wade's scarred and repulsive skin and he did it so softly that it made Wade's heart ache. He didn't mention it, though, too scared that he'd break the moment if he did.

"She said that you were dead. And I believed her because I didn't think-", his breath hitched and Wade tried to push down whatever was building up inside of him. "After all the shit she put me though, after everything she did to me, I didn't think that she would do something like this. I suppose I'm an idiot." Wade couldn't hide the bitterness in his voice, and there was nothing sweet about it, it was vicious and ugly and Wade hated that he couldn't be better than this.

"What did she do to you?", Peter whispered and Wade could feel Peter's thumb brush against his cheek.

Wade swallowed thickly before answering, tears stung in his eyes. "She likes to play with my feelings, my pain. She shows me exactly what I want and twists it into something awful. She looks like Vanessa and pretends to love me, she looks like you and-", Wade cut himself off but he had already said too much.

(Oh are we confessing our feelings?)

Stupid, fucking stupid. This was too much, too fast.

"And what?", Peter asked, concern in his tone.

"Nothing.", Wade said too quickly.

"Come on...whatever it is, I promise I won't be mad.", Peter said and it seemed so easy to Wade. How Peter could just make this promise without having any idea what Wade did, what he thought, how he felt.

He could've told him, it was tempting to just let it out. But Wade knew how selfish it would be to put his feelings on Peter, when Peter could barely handle his own mind. Then there was also Wade's fear, the one that might be even greater, that if he ever told Peter how he felt, Peter would feel obligated to return his feelings in some way. Wade knew what Peter could be like when he thought that someone wanted him to act a certain way. Wade couldn't put either of them through that.

"I'm not afraid of you being mad at me.", Wade stated.

"Then what are you afraid of?", Peter asked, an edge to his voice that was almost cheeky and Wade hated this, he hated the situation, he hated himself for being like this, he hated that he couldn't just reach out and close the distance between them. But he couldn't, not now, not ever.

"I'm sorry, Peter. I just can't. ", he finally sighed and to his relief and dread Peter nodded.

"Okay. I won't push you. But you know you can tell me.", Peter said before separating himself from Wade, rolling back onto his back. Wade wanted to ignore the empty space that Peter left, the sudden void. He couldn't.

"I appreciate it.", Wade mumbled.

"What's it like to die? I mean, once you're dead, if you don't mind me asking.", Peter then asked. That was actually a far easier topic, going to the afterlife was like a visit to the dentist.

So Wade told Peter about it. About how he felt when he woke up on the other side, how much easier, how much clearer it all was, without the voices, the pain, the darkness. When he was finished Peter let out a smirk. Wade couldn't see his face, he was currently staring at the ceiling. "What's so funny?", he asked.

"You're making the afterlife quite appealing to someone who can hardly bear to be alive.", Peter replied but there was a tone in his voice, a trace of amusement that told Wade that Peter wasn't serious, not entirely at least. A relief more than anything.

"Not my intention, baby boy. Besides, I have no idea what the actual afterlife is like, I never got past the doorstep.",Wade said, turning his head a little to look at Peter beside him. The boy was staring up to the ceiling too but a faint smile pulled at his lips.

"Don't worry, I'm not in a hurry to bite the dust.", Peter then stated, still not looking at Wade.

"How come? Have you found a will to live? If yes could you lend it to me sometime?", Wade asked, amusement in his tone.

"Oh I would never.", Peter chuckled. "But there are a few things I'd miss if I met an untimely demise.", he then said, sporting a knowing smile.

"Like what?", Wade asked. At first Peter didn't reply but then he turned his head and his eyes met Wade's. God, he was so beautiful.

"Waffles. I'd really miss your waffles.", Peter then replied, a wide smile spreading on his face, glorious but deceptive. There was something more, something Peter wasn't telling Wade. Then again, Wade could hardly blame him.

"I'm sure that they have waffles in heaven.", Wade said softly. Peter chewed on his lip for a moment and there it was again, that bittersweet smile of his. So much more authentic, so much more heartbreaking.

"It wouldn't be the real thing, though. It wouldn't be...", his voice trailed off and Wade raised his eyebrows in question.

"Wouldn't be what?"

Peter took a moment, a beat of silence, his smile didn't fade but sadness filled his eyes more than before.

"Nothing. It just wouldn't be the real thing."