“I’m too selfish.”
Wade tilted his head to the side, the eyes of his mask narrowing with his brow. “You’ve lost me, Spidey. If I’ve heard you right—you can’t go out with me because you’re…selfish.”
“Yes,” Peter said. He rested his arms on his bent knees as he perched on the side of the stairwell enclosure. His feet held him up as he sat on his ankles and he rested his head against the wall. “For us to be together, I’d have to tell you who I am under the mask and I can’t do that.”
“I already said I was cool with keeping the masks on for this,” Wade said, with a frustrated growl in his voice. Peter slumped further agains the wall. He couldn’t blame the ex-mercenary for his anger. “Though a guy does start to get insulted after a while at the lack of trust.”
“And yet you still want to date me.”
“Yes!” Wade said, throwing his arms up. The swords on his back clacked together in their holsters. “I do! Because I adore you and I know you like me, too. I’ve trusted you with my weakest moments—shut up! He was there for it. Spidey, I let you in! Is it so much to ask for the same? You’ve trusted others with that secret identity of yours, why not me?”
“It’s not about trust, Wade,” Peter said. The tension weighed them both down. He could feel Wade’s glare on his side as the other man looked up at him on the wall. Peter licked his lip under the mask and tapped his finger on his knee. “It’s about how you’ll want nothing to do with me if you find out who I am when the mask comes off.”
“I doubt that, Spidey,” Wade said. He crossed his arms and sauntered closer to the roof. His tone remained serious, but something light snuck its way in. “With or without the mask, I’m sure I’d still love you.”
Peter sucked in a breath.
How long had it been since he last had that?
And how fast had it left him every time?
Peter shook his head and gripped his knees. He had to stay strong and stick to his nerve. Wade was a good thing. They’d fought together, fought with each other, been through ups and downs that would have shattered his previous relationships, and they were still together.
He couldn’t lose his best friend.
Not over a mask.
“This might be hard to believe, but I think I can count on one hand the people who like me both in and out of the mask,” Peter whispered. He looked down at Wade and shook his head. “And you’re not one of them.”
“How can you know that if I only know the you in the mask?”
Wade put his hand on the wall and reached up. He pulled his own mask off, revealing the damaged and scarred skin. His eyes held a focus that bore straight through Peter’s chest and grabbed his heart.
He couldn’t tell Wade everything, but he could give him something.
A little trust.
“You do know the me outside of the mask, though. We’ve met before,” Peter said. He laughed and reached up and rested his hand on his head, pressing his palm into the spot where the bullet had entered his head so long ago. “You don’t like me, Wade.”
“What did you just say?” Wade asked. His voice sounded hollow. Hurt. “There’s no way we have met. I’d have known! Why are you lying to me?”
“I’m not lying,” Peter said. He exhaled and rested his hand on the back of his neck. “We’ve met face to face and you really don’t like me. I’m only thankful we met after you had your change of heart, because we both know there was a point in time where people you didn’t like ended up dead.”
And stayed that way.
Which led to the less selfish reason that Peter didn’t want Wade to know who he was: The man would never forgive himself if he knew that he’d shot Spider-Man in the head.
Wade turned away from Peter and paced on the roof. His gloved hands pawed at his bald head with a rough touch, tugging on the lumps of skin. He growled under his breath, hissing at the voices in his head and running through names of people he’d known that might match Peter’s build.
His real name didn’t pop up.
Not that Peter expected it to.
“Wade,” Peter said. He hopped off the wall and approached with care. “Don’t think too hard about it. I don’t mind, really. You’re hardly the first person to dislike half of me.”
“I don’t want to dislike any of you!” Wade shouted, turning around. His chest heaved and he faced Peter, shoulders squared and back straight. “Tell me where we’ve met. I want to know.”
The shot had been fast and clean.
Peter had been dead before he fell.
“You really don’t,” Peter whispered. “Trust me, Wade. If I take off this mask, it’ll change how you think about me. You’ll either hate yourself or me and I’m not sure which is worse.”
Wade reached out and held Peter by the arms. His grip was tight and his gloves stretched across the fabric of his costume. “I swear that even if you’re a literal monster under there, I’m still going to love you.”
“I want to believe that.”
“Then believe it, spider-boy.”
“Whatever,” Wade said. He yanked Peter into a crushing hug. His hands dug into Peter’s sides and his warm breath went straight through the fabric of his costume. “Even if you’re right, and it turns out you’re some asshole I can’t stand—I’ll just remind myself that you can be an ass when you want to be and forgive you like I always do.”
“I’m starting to wonder if you should.” Peter reached around and squeezed him back. “I’m very careless with you. I think I’ve hurt you more than I’ve helped.”
“Maybe,” Wade said. His breath shuddered as he exhaled and he broke the hug. He took a step back, but kept ahold of Peter’s arms. “But I’m a better person because of you, Spider-Man, and nothing you can tell me will change that.”
Peter took a step back and pressed his lips together.
“I promise,” Wade said. His head twitched to the side but he shook it out and steadied himself. Wade squeezed harder and said through a thick voice, “You don’t have to be afraid of me.”
Peter tapped Wade’s hand and the other man let go. He kept staring at him with his exposed face and Peter did feel the unfairness of it all.
Wade deserved to know.
He deserved to be trusted.
If it went to hell and their relationship shattered into pieces, so be it.
Maybe Wade would be the one willing to put the pieces back together again.
“First, I want you to know that I did forgive you,” Peter said. Wade tilted his head again, this time revealing his true brow narrowing. Peter rubbed his shoulder and laughed, the nerves making his voice wobble. “It took a while, but I did.”
Wade gripped his hand into a fist and kept his mouth shut in an unusual moment of silence. He sensed what came next would be serious. Wade had good instincts that way.
It was part of his charm.
And Peter was grateful.
He ripped off the mask in a quick sweep, revealing his ruffled brown hair and open face.
The recognition was instant: The wider eyes, the parted lips, and the dawning mask of horror that twisted Wade’s scars.
Peter waited for his judgement once the knowledge settled.
“No,” Wade said. He held a finger up toward Peter’s face and his mouth twisted into a snarl. “No, no, no. You’re messing with me, Parker. You and Spider-Man talk about each other all the time as separate people. You’ve never slipped up with your stories. Not once!”
“I’ve had a lot of practice. I’ve been talking about myself as a separate person since I was in high school and first got my powers,” Peter said. He shrugged and crossed his arms to look away. “It’s scary how easy it to split myself apart and compartmentalize these days.”
“I’ve seen Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the same place at the same time,” Wade said, breathing harder. “Explain that.”
“I have a friend who doubles for me to help keep up the act.”
“I would have known the difference.”
“He’s really good at being me.”
Wade searched Peter’s face, taking in every pore and wrinkle. “Spider-Man idolizes Peter Parker. He won’t shut up about how great he is. I refuse to believe Spider-Man has that big of an ego about himself.”
“When you spend most of your life as ‘Puny Parker the Loser’ you start to exaggerate your good qualities when given the chance.” Peter snorted and bit his lip. “But I do let my ego get a little out of control when I’m in the mask. I’m working on it, even if I could use the self confidence boost.”
“You are not Peter Parker,” Wade said again, his breath heavy. “This is a cruel trick.”
“You promised,” Peter said, his voice weak. He swallowed and clutched his mask in his hand. “And it’s not a trick. I promise, Wade. This is me. This has always been me.”
“But I shot you. I killed Peter Parker,” Wade said. He took a step back and covered his mouth. “Shit.”
“It’s okay, Wade.”
His shout echoed over the roof and Peter laughed. “I hate it when I’m right.”
“Shut up,” Wade said. He held his hand out in his face. Wade held his head with the other and his eyes moved back and forth like he was reading in the air. “Give me a second.”
Peter chose to look away from Wade and stare at the flat surface of the empty roof. The sounds of the city filled his ears.
Wade covered his face with his hands and turned his back to Peter. His shoulders moved with his heavy breaths. Peter couldn’t tell which emotion he was feeling, but he felt ashamed for putting Wade through this turmoil.
A minute later, his small voice broke through the city noise: “You forgave me?”
“I wouldn’t be standing here if I hadn’t,” Peter said, keeping his voice firm so the truth would come through. “You brought me back. You fixed it. I was angry for so long that you killed me, but I know it was a mistake that you worked hard to correct. It’s in the past Wade.”
“Heh,” Wade said, laughing under his breath. He turned over his shoulder and his smile stretched his skin. “You really are Spidey under that ugly mug.”
Peter snorted and put his hand on the back of his neck. He felt his shoulders relax as the tension broke. “Do you still want to date this ugly mug?”
“And so much more.” Wade closed the distance and picked up Peter by the hips. He hauled him into the air and hugged him around his lower thighs, holding him up high enough that Wade rested his chin on Peter’s chest. His fingers brushed against Peter’s ass and he laughed. “Ugly is my type, you know.”
Peter grabbed the sides of Wade’s face and kissed him.
Wade returned it in kind, but ruined the moment when he started to giggle into Peter’s lips a minute later.
“What’s so funny?” Peter asked, sitting on Wade’s crossed arms. He felt impressed the man had yet to grab his ass outright with his hands so close. “Are you as happy and relieved as I am or something else?”
“It just hit me I’m dating a bigger loser than me,” Wade said. He laughed and shoved his face into Peter’s chest, squeezing harder. “Your luck is the worst, Pete.”
“Don’t ruin this, Deadpool,” Peter said. He kissed the top of Wade’s head and relaxed “And just because it’s true, doesn’t mean you should say it.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Wade said, still snickering. “Lips are zipped.”
Peter slumped on Wade, hugging the larger man’s head to his chest. He felt lighter. Free. But most of all: So very thankful Wade was a man of his word.
“I love you, Peter Parker.” Wade pulled back and looked up. “I love Peter Parker.”
“You already said that,” Peter said. “When you first confessed on the roof an hour ago.”
“No, I said I loved Spider-Man,” Wade said. “I had to try it out with both names just to make sure you knew.”
“Trust me, Wade,” Peter said. He kissed the man again, warm and deep. “I figured it out.”
Peter went back to hugging Wade and patted his back. “You can put me down now.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Nope.” The man threw Peter over his shoulder and reached down to grab the mask that had fallen to the ground. He handed it to Peter and said, “Put that back on so no one else gets to see what’s just for me.”
“Yes, sir,” Peter said. He pulled it on and felt Wade shiver under him as he shoved on his own mask. Peter shook his head and grinned. “You like that?”
“You said yes to the going out thing, right?” Wade said, breathing a little harder. His hand rested on the back of Peter’s thigh. “Right?”
“Yes, Wade,” Peter said. “I want to go out with you and do more.”
“Oh thank you,” Wade said. His hand immediately went to hold Peter by the ass and he sprinted across the roof. “Let’s try that ‘more’ thing right now. I’ve got a place we can go.”
Peter laughed and let Wade have his way.
He felt too good to disagree.
Wade liked him.
Wade loved him.
Wade loved Peter Parker!
“I love you, too, Wade.”
Peter had whispered it, but Wade had heard and it startled him enough to trip and drop them both through the window of his apartment. They collapsed together on the floor and their masks came off together for the first time.