“Remind me again why this is happening,” says Tony, letting his exhausted head fall down onto Peter’s shoulder. It’s day two of Wade Wilson, but it feels like day twenty, and he needs a reprieve.
“His apartment got blown up by bad guys,” says Peter, popping a pistachio into his mouth and crunching on it. “And it’ll take a month to renovate, and for the first two weeks nobody else he knows can take him in. Except you, because you’re the best boyfriend ever.” He gives Tony a quick, happy peck on the cheek, then turns back to his current task of snacking on their living room couch, nestled against Tony’s side where he should always be.
“Two weeks.” Tony mulls over that for a second. “You know, it’s really a testament to how much I adore you that I let him stay here for more than two hours. But in case you don’t know, I’ll say it again— I love you, and that’s the only reason I’m letting this go on until every hair on my head turns white.”
“I love you too, Tony,” says Peter, ruffling Tony’s hair. And hey, if letting an ex-criminal crash rent-free at Tony’s Manhattan penthouse means that Peter is going to lather Tony with more physical affection, then maybe this isn’t so bad after all.
Peter looks up just then as Wade walks into the living room. “Oh, speak of the devil. Hey, Wade, what’s up?”
“What’s the scoop?” says Wade. “You guys talking about me?”
“Kind of?” says Peter sheepishly. “Don’t worry, I wasn’t saying anything bad.”
“Why keep it a secret, then? What were you talking about? Is it how much bigger my dick is than Tony Stark’s? Don’t bother guesstimating, you can confirm it with me whenever you want. Especially you, baby boy.”
Tony tightens his grip on Peter’s shoulder. Peter rolls his eyes.
“Monogamy, Wade,” says Peter. He slips a hand around Tony’s waist. “It’s a thing. You should try it.”
“Nah, sounds lame,” says Wade. “Oooh, pistachios.” He pops a handful into his mouth and chews loudly. “You know what would go good with these? Beer. You guys got any beer? One of the voices in my head wants Corona, but the other wants Tsingtao. My real voice, or the one I think is real, wants your finest bottle of Dom Perignon, which you definitely have since you wipe your ass with hundred-dollar bills. But hey, I’m not picky.”
Tony side-eyes Peter, who is, to his credit, completely unfazed.
“We’ve got Corona in the fridge,” says Peter. “Help yourself.”
Wade jumps over the back of the couch and heads towards the kitchen.
“Did you know there was someone out there more annoying than me? Because I didn’t. You learn something new every day,” says Tony to Peter.
“I can hear you, Iron Dildo,” shouts Wade. He slams the edge of the beer bottle on Tony’s marble kitchen island, surely denting it as he tries to pop the bottle cap off. When Tony shoots him a glare, Wade shrugs. “Couldn’t find the can opener. Just buy yourself a new counter if it bothers you that much.”
“Guys, can we please just get along,” says Peter half-heartedly, already turning back to the TV. “The Succession season finale is on, and I don’t want to miss it.”
Tony presses his hands to his temples and wills his headache to go before his composure does.
Later, when Wade is out and promises to be back after midnight, Tony takes advantage of their brief moment of privacy and gets Peter naked and pressed up against the kitchen island. Tony slips his fingers into Peter, making him squirm and moan and press his pretty little face against the cool marble surface until he comes in no time at all, splattering across the side. Tony takes that as his cue to fingerfuck him even harder, wrenching a second orgasm out of him before finally pushing his achingly hard cock inside of Peter. Peter’s gasping and panting for air by his third orgasm, and they come together, Tony pressing kisses along Peter’s shoulder as they both ride out the aftershocks. And because Peter’s stamina is just that insatiable, Tony then sucks him off while Peter blabbers an incoherent litany of oh God and please sir, please, tears budding at the corners of his eyes. And when he comes for the fourth time, he grips the edge of the counter so hard it bends out of shape.
Of course, because Tony’s life is a joke, that is exactly when Wade walks in.
Peter lets out an undignified squeak and quickly pulls on his clothes. Tony doesn’t bother. His sex tapes have been circulating long before the Iron Man thing.
“Oh, so it’s okay if he dents your furniture, but not me? That’s just straight-up discrimination,” says Wade. “Is it because I’m ugly? Or because I kill people for a living?”
“Wade, I thought you stopped doing that,” says Peter, sounding very stressed.
“Old habits die hard, okay? I really wanted to buy that Untitled Goose game and I was broke.”
Peter looks horrified. “You killed someone to afford a video game?”
Wade lets out a long sigh. “Ugh. Okay, fine, you want the truth? No, I didn’t kill anyone. I let the guy off with a warning, told him to move to Mexico and change his name and start a new life. And then I collected my paycheck without telling them I let him go. Don’t tell anyone, okay? I can’t have people know I’m getting all soft because I’m friends with Spider-Man.”
“Aw, that’s kind of sweet,” Peter beams at Wade. Tony thinks that is a very low bar to hold someone to. Then again, Tony’s own life has also been a low bar, in some ways. Maybe Peter just attracts people who are generally a huge mess in their own different ways. Like moths to a flame.
Wade, of course, breaks the moment. “So, Iron Dingdong? You going to put your clothes back on or what? I know this fanfic is rated Explicit, but I don’t really fancy being in a smut fic without being part of the action, you know? Like, what’s the point of knowing you have a big dick if I don’t get to experience it?”
“Okay, there’s a lot to unpack there, but let's just throw away the whole suitcase,” says Tony, pulling his clothes back on. “You’ve got three seconds to get out of my sight, Wilson.”
“Or what, you’ll punish me?” Wade says, wiggling his nonexistent eyebrows. Tony rolls his eyes, though he knows Wade’s not serious— hell, he’d even tried to hit on FRIDAY. It almost reminds Tony of his older self in a way he doesn’t want to think about.
“Wade, what did I say about flirting with my boyfriend?” says Peter admonishingly. “If you keep breaking all the house rules, we’re going to have to kick you out. I don’t want to have to put my foot down.”
Somehow, Peter’s calm threat works like magic. Wade shrinks back like a puppy with its tail between its legs. “Okay, lovebirds, I’ll leave you to it. Just going to heat up some chimichangas and curl up with some Netflix in the guest room. Fuck as loud as you want, I’ll put my headphones in.”
But the moment’s broken, and besides, it’s not like Tony can get it up again. Not everyone has a healing factor. It’s just another unfair fact of life, just like the fact that Tony has to live under one roof with Wade Wilson.
“Can I be an Avenger?” asks Wade for what must be the dozenth time that afternoon as Tony tries to tune him out and focus on Peter’s suit upgrade.
“What part of absolutely not don’t you understand?” says Tony, zooming in on the holo-screen to look at the suit’s fabric composition.
“Ooh, you should give him pockets,” says Wade, poking his nose in close to the screen. “He needs pockets. He has even less pockets than women’s clothing, and that’s saying a lot.”
“You make a valid point. I’ll keep that in mind when I design my next runway line,” says Tony. “He doesn’t need pockets— everything he needs is stored in the nanotech.”
Ignoring him, Wade reverts back to the original topic. “You know, Petey-pie said I could be an Avenger.” Tony bristles at the overkill nickname. Even Tony wouldn’t call him that. “He promised that if I didn’t kill anyone for fifty days he’d let me try being an Avenger.”
“Yeah, well, maybe he shouldn’t have gone and done that without consulting me,” says Tony. Wait, no, that sounds like he’s being a controlling boyfriend. He’s trying to do this relationship thing right, really make Peter happy this time— no more giant rabbits, no more sacrificing himself and leaving Peter with nothing but billion-dollar drones. He’s pretty sure that list of things includes no turning down Peter’s horribly annoying comrades.
“Okay,” says Tony. “Okay, fine. I trust Peter, and I respect his decisions. Doesn’t mean the rest of my team will be on board with it. Why don’t you try it out for a day. Go on a mission with us, we’ll see how you do.”
Wade’s grin already has Tony regretting his decision. “Aw, hell yeah!” He punches the air. “I’m gonna text Petey-poo.”
When Peter shows up later that evening, he’s just as excited as Wade. The two of them engage in a thirty-second long convoluted secret handshake that has Tony feeling a weird sort of jealousy. It’s not like Tony thinks Peter has feelings for Wade. Hell, he’s pretty sure Wade isn’t capable of having serious feelings for anyone. That’s not the problem.
The problem is this: precisely two years after his death, Tony was dropped unceremoniously back into the world he’d left. He’d had to be brought up to speed on so many things that Spider-Man and Deadpool’s unlikely team-up wasn’t even one of the most important. Not at first, anyway. But soon it became clear how much their friendship meant to Peter. And the worst part was that Tony didn’t know how they’d become so close. Wade was a blank page in Tony’s knowledge of Peter, another reminder that Tony would never get back those years he’d desperately wished to spend by Peter’s side.
Tony listens halfheartedly as Peter debriefs Wade on the mission. And then when it’s time to go, he hits the nanotech casing of his arc reactor and suits up.
“Wait, you’re coming with us?” says Peter skeptically.
“Yep,” says Tony, popping the ‘p’ and looking directly at Wade. Wade shrugs innocently.
“Oh, okay,” says Peter. “Well, I mean, it’s just— this is a neighbourhood thing, and I figured you’ve got better things to do.”
“Oh, no, I’m coming,” says Tony. “I don’t trust this guy. I’ve got to chaperone.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “Tony, how many times have we been over this? Nothing’s going to happen. I trust Wade, and if you trust me, then you’ve got to trust him too. You can’t baby monitor me forever.”
Tony’s jaw clenches involuntarily at that. Peter’s face falls guiltily. “Sorry, I didn’t mean—”
“It’s fine,” says Tony. “You’re right. I do trust you. Go ahead, I’ll just be here.”
“Damn,” Wade stage-whispers as they turn to leave. “That tension was so thick I could cut it with a knife.”
Tony ignores him.
For the next two hours, Tony devotes his best effort into not thinking about the mission. Peter had asked him to turn off the baby monitor protocol a couple years back, and there was no reason to regret that decision now. Just because Tony himself had a truckload of issues with trust and vulnerability didn’t mean he had to force them onto Peter. Peter was right. Tony trusted Peter, and Peter trusted Wade. Any guy Peter saw the good in, even if Peter tended to be optimistic to a fault, was worth trusting.
Two hours later, Tony eats those words when Wade walks in carrying Peter in his arms. Tony gets up out of the chair so fast it screeches against the floor. He rushes over to Peter, whose eyes are closed, a nasty bruise colouring the side of his face. There’s a cut on his forehead, and blood stains on his suit— one particularly large one at the side of his abdomen. Tony trembles as he brushes the hair out of Peter’s face, feeling like the floor is falling apart beneath him.
“Hey,” says Wade, and he has the gall to look guilty. “So, uh, listen, I—”
“Shut up,” says Tony. “FRIDAY, status update on Peter.”
“Peter is no longer in mortal danger,” says FRIDAY. “With his regenerative powers, his wounds are expected to close up in one hour and fully heal within twenty-four hours.”
“See?” says Wade weakly. “He’s totally fine.” Gingerly, he walks down the hall to Tony and Peter’s bedroom. Tony follows close behind, afraid to take him out of Wade’s grasp and jostle his wounds. He holds Peter’s shoulders as Wade lowers him onto the bed, and the two of them make sure he lands as gently as he can.
Wade pipes up again. “Hey, look—”
“I don’t want to hear another word from you,” says Tony accusingly. “I trusted you to look after him, and what did you do? You bring him home like this? Don’t you dare tell me he did this to save your ass.”
“Alright, I’m just gonna go,” says Wade, and then slinks away. Tony wants to tell him to get lost. To not come back. But it wouldn’t accomplish anything. He knew in his heart that it wasn’t Wade’s fault. Besides, Peter would find out and yell at Tony for it.
And then Peter’s eyes blink open, and Tony forgets about Wade entirely.
“Hey,” says Peter, smiling weakly.
“Hey,” says Tony, trying very hard not to sound like he’s on the verge of a breakdown. “How’re you feeling?”
“‘M fine,” says Peter. “Don’t worry about me, Tony. ‘M just tired.”
Tony brushes his hair back and kisses the top of his head, as gently as possible. “Get some rest, okay?”
Peter nods drowsily. At least nothing seems to hurt. He falls asleep in seconds, with the faintest smile on his face, a remnant from Tony’s earlier kiss. Tony gets to work, pulling out his first aid kit and dressing the wounds, stitching up the worst of them, and quelling his pounding heartbeat with the reassuring sound of Peter’s breath rising and falling. FRIDAY said he’d be okay, but that doesn’t— that doesn’t erase how not okay it feels to see the dark red blood staining Peter’s bandages, the red-purple bruise mottling the side of his face. Tony feels the excruciating, familiar pain of heartache bloom in his chest.
The first time he’d seen Peter in mortal danger, even before he was fully aware of his own feelings for Peter, he’d thought— this must be what Pepper feels like all the time. Years later, he still never managed to shake that thought. That instinctive need to constantly protect Peter and keep him safe, even though he knew, fundamentally, that there was no stopping people like them from leading dangerous lives. You couldn’t take away the Iron Man suit, just as you couldn’t take away the Spider-Man suit. Tony knew, because Tony had tried it. It hadn’t stopped the kid from throwing himself in the face of death in order to do what he believed was good and right. He’d do it again and again, whether it was to fight the Vulture, to save the universe, or to save the life of a close friend.
Tony ponders staying by his bedside all night and letting the worry consume him. Instead, he exits the bedroom to seek out Wade, now that his anger has dissipated into something slow and simmering. But that, too, changes when he sees the expression on Wade’s face as he sits on the couch, looking off into the distance.
“You can’t fire me if I quit, right?” says Wade, his stare strangely blank for what is supposed to be a joke.
Tony lets out a long sigh and sits down next to him. “You were never really an Avenger.”
“That’s fair,” says Wade. “I— hey, look. I’m really sorry. I know I probably don’t look it, but I take this shit seriously. I... there was a girl, once, and we were just about as close to happy as I ever thought I’d get. And then the bad guys came— because there’s guys worse than me, believe it or not— and because of me, she— it was my fault. I can’t let that happen again.”
Tony understands. He still thinks about Yinsen, from time to time. About all the times he'd put Pepper through something he hadn't signed up for— and all that Peter went through because of Tony's own failures.
“I get it,” says Tony. “Believe me, I get it. You don’t have to apologize. Whatever Peter did to protect you was his own decision. And I know that he’d do it again, no questions asked. For you, or for anybody else.”
“Damn it, why’d I share my tragic backstory for if you were never mad at me to begin with?” says Wade, but his eyes are wet.
Tony shrugs. “I’ve got my share of tragic backstory. The difference is that mine’s plastered all over the news and you can Google it anytime. You want a drink?”
“That sounds nice right about now,” says Wade. “I’ll take your finest bottle of Dom Perignon.”
“Dealer's choice,” says Tony. He comes back from the fridge with two bottles of Corona, and they sit and drink in a surprising but not unpleasant silence.
“He’s not usually this sleepy after a fight,” says Tony after a while. “FRIDAY, could you check on him?”
“Peter is in a medicinally-induced slumber,” says FRIDAY. “He will be awake in approximately ten minutes.”
Tony turns to Wade.
“Oh, I gave him some of your pain pills,” says Wade. “You know, the ones you invented for him. They make you all sleepy and shit.”
Tony blinks, surprised. “I didn’t know you knew about those.”
“Yeah, I keep some on me for him. He’s got nowhere to put them, because someone won’t put pockets in his suit.”
“Fair enough,” Tony concedes. “That one’s on me.”
“Also, sometimes I take them just for shits and giggles,” Wade shrugs. “They’re like, the fun version of Xanax. Hey, I have an idea— you should sell them on the black market.”
“Great,” Tony says to himself. “I am definitely giving Peter those pockets.”
“So, um,” says Peter later, when he’s fully awake and nestled comfortably against Tony’s side under the covers. “I heard some parts of your conversation with Wade.”
“Yeah, super hearing, remember?” He points to his ears and shrugs. “I wasn’t really sure if I was dreaming, and I couldn’t exactly respond. I was kind of slipping in and out. But… thanks, Tony. I knew you’d come around.”
“That, too,” says Peter. “But mostly I was talking about letting me make my own decisions. Like, remember when I was in high school, and you were watching over me with your baby monitor protocol, and it pissed me off because you being my parental figure was the last thing I wanted?” He chuckles self-deprecatingly under his breath. “I thought you’d get that way again when you tried to come with me and Wade. I don’t know, it just felt like—” Peter takes a shaky breath. “I— you trusted me before. With EDITH. And I— I really fucked that up, Mr. Stark— Tony, sorry. God, old habits die hard.” He swipes hastily at his eyes, and Tony holds him closer, tighter. “So now that we’re together, I wanted you to know that you can really trust me. And if I could do that— then maybe I wouldn’t be so scared of letting you down again.” He buries his face in Tony’s side as he says it, like he’s embarrassed to admit it.
“Hey,” says Tony, gently lifting Peter’s head up with a finger under his chin. “Peter, I— I would do anything to go back and murder Beck in cold blood before he could do any of that to you.”
“Is that supposed to be reassuring?” says Peter skeptically. “I think Wade’s starting to rub off on you.”
“I was always like this,” says Tony.
Peter laughs and shrugs. “I guess you were,” he says.
After a long moment of silence, Peter starts to speak again.
“Remember when you were dead for two years?” says Peter. “I met Wade during that time. I guess I don’t talk much about it in general, because there’s a lot of things I don’t want to remember, but— he helped me a lot, back when you were gone. When the rest of the world didn’t understand why I couldn’t move on, he was the only one who really got it. Being around him made me feel… normal again. Like maybe it was okay to be a little fucked up. And that even though the person I loved most was gone, I didn’t have to be alone.”
“Peter,” says Tony. He’s choking up with unshed tears, but he needs to get the words out. “You know I would do anything to have been there for you when you needed me. When I died, it was the middle of battle, and I made a hard decision to protect the people I loved. I thought you were strong as hell, stronger than I was at sixteen, and I figured you’d be fine. I didn’t know that I’d done the opposite of protecting you. And I’m sorry. I can’t say it enough.”
“It’s okay,” says Peter, running his soft, smooth hand over the calloused pads of Tony’s fingers. “I know, Tony. I know.” He leans his head on Tony’s chest, where the arc reactor used to be, and says, “I love you. You know that, right? And I care about Wade, too. He’s a good friend of mine. You don’t have to like him. But you both care about me, and I care about you. I just didn’t want you guys to fight, that’s all.”
“We won’t,” says Tony. “I promise.”
Eleven days later, as promised, Wade gets taken off Tony’s hands by a Yukio and Negasonic Something-or-other, according to Peter. Tony’s more than happy to let him go bother another couple and catch up on quality time with Peter. When Wade moves out, he leaves behind nothing but empty takeout boxes and a gift bottle of Dom Perignon, wrapped up with a neat red ribbon.
Thanks for the memories, says the attached note, in hideous handwriting. It’s been real. Peace out, homies.
Tony eyes the bottle suspiciously. Peter, who’s still in his suit having just returned home from a mission, opens the bottle with one of the waldoes at arm’s length, just to be safe.
Nothing explodes. Tentatively, Peter feeds the drink to himself via waldo, looking like every bit the ridiculous dork that Tony loves. And then he does a spit-take.
“Ugh,” says Peter, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “This is just carbonated kombucha.”
“Is it too late to take back my promise?” says Tony. “Because I think he’s looking for a fight.”
“I have a better idea,” says Peter, grinning mischievously. “We invite him over months later when he’s already forgotten about it, open the bottle and get him all excited, then feed him a taste of his own medicine.”
“Why not?” says Tony with a matching grin. “I could think of worse ways to entertain ourselves.”