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The Scars On My Heart

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"So, who lives in the apartment across the hall?" 

"Oh that's Peter, he's kind of quiet, we don't really see him much. He never goes outside."

"What? Never? How come? How does he live like that? What about supplies? What about friends?"

"Nah I don't think he has any friends. We are pretty much the only ones who talk to him and it's only recently that he invited us inside. He gets all his groceries delivered and he works from home. I think he does something in coding."

"Sounds a pretty lonely life. How old is he?"

"I think he's about twenty three, yeah he is because he suddenly told us two months ago that it was his birthday and my wife Grace made him some cup cakes. It was a little sad, he got all upset when she gave them to him. Guess he figured nobody cared."

"Damn, that's too bad, poor guy. Does he know you're leaving?"

"No I've not told him. I wanted to be sure you'd be taking the apartment before I said anything. It's funny, even though we're not really friends I will miss him in a weird kind of way."

"Well, I definitely want the apartment so you best get baking more cup cakes...oh and save me some too please....I love sweet things" 

Wade Wilson grinned as he finalised the deal on his new home. It had been a quick sale as the owners were having a baby and needed a bigger place. It was in good condition and just needed a lick of paint. Wade would be moving in at the end of the month. 

He had recently returned to live in NYC after lying low in Canada for a couple of years. He had lead a violent unpredictable life as a mercenary called Deadpool and had wanted to escape, have a fresh start. He'd retired his alter ego and opted for a more sedate lifestyle building furniture at a family run business out in the Canadian countryside. Life had been reserved and quiet, too quiet. Wade had started to long for the city and decided it was time to head back. Too much silence had a negative effect on his addled brain.

He had no intentions of reacquainting himself with any past contacts or reviving his old life. He just liked the hustle and bustle of the city and felt more at home with the hum of the streets drifting in through the open windows. His time away had helped settle his mind and flush out some of the bad dreams and memories from his time as Deadpool. He bore the scars of his past life, not just all over his body, but in the dark corners of his troubled mind. Somehow being back in the city made him feel calm. He had missed it.

He'd set himself up at a local studio building and selling bespoke furniture, using the skills he'd picked up during his time in Canada. He had always been good with his hands and despite his violent past he was a kind hearted creative soul. He was no push over. People who underestimated him and thought they could somehow belittle him or disregard his intelligence got to know his other side. The side that took no crap and would happily kick your butt for being a rude asshole.

Wade had finally found a suitable apartment close to the studio and relatively cheap due to the quick sale. He had wanted this apartment as it was on the top floor and there was access to a roof terrace. It wasn't a big block, more a tall slim building with two residences to each floor. There was a caretaker and an elevator and it was clean and well maintained throughout. It was low-key and efficient, just what he needed. He didn't want to draw any attention to himself and being on the better side of town meant he wasn't likely to bump into any of his old adversaries. 

The information about his new neighbour had mildly fascinated him. He knew how it felt to be lonely and he didn't like the idea of a young guy locking himself away like that. He wondered what his story was. He also wondered if he would see him or speak to him at all. 

As Wade stood waiting for the elevator after his meeting he heard a noise behind him and just as he turned round he saw the neighbour's letterbox fall shut. He smiled to himself as the elevator arrived and the doors opened. Clearly his new neighbour had a curious streak.

I wonder what he's like?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The young man sat panting on the floor by his front door. He had been watching his neighbours through the letterbox after he heard voices out in the hallway. He had listened to their conversation about himself. He didn't know his neighbours were leaving, it had been a bit of a shock to hear them talking about it. 

He knew they would be round later to tell him. He had thought they would stay a while, even after their baby had arrived. He had been looking forward to meeting the little person. He didn't know any babies, but he thought they always looked cute in photos. He liked how they were all new and untouched by the darker side of life. Babies were something pure and harmless and he liked that idea, it felt safe to him. Not like the outside world, that felt frightening and confusing.

Peter Parker had been a recluse for the past two and a half years. He had locked himself inside his apartment one day and vowed never to set foot outside again. He saw the city streets as dangerous and intimidating, full of chaos and violence. He did not feel secure out in the world. He felt exposed and vulnerable and he had learnt the hard way that there were people out there who made it their life's goal to repress and bully anybody who was different or individual. They saw creative and intelligent people as a threat, as some kind of disease that needed wiping out. Their artistic expression was destroyed and any sign of 'otherness' stamped out. Peter was afraid of those people.

So, he had turned his back on life outside his apartment. He communicated with other people over the internet, but he kept it to a minimum, mainly for work purposes or when he watched a movie or read a comic book he liked. He had maximum security settings on everything and kept his front door locked. He sometimes opened the window early in the morning so he could listen to the birds in the court yard at the back of the building. Some of the residents of surrounding buildings had made a community garden and it looked nice, full of flowers. The windows by the fire escape had big locks on them and he had attached a wire frame over the glass panels in case somebody tried to break in. It rendered the idea of an emergency exit completely useless as nobody could get out or in, but it made Peter feel more at ease.

He had tried to get a look at the new neighbour as he waited for the elevator. He was well built, tall. His voice had sounded friendly when he was talking. He looked like he had some kind of burn scars on his face. Peter was curious. He hoped he was a nice person, not a creepy weirdo. He had been alone so Peter wondered if he had a partner or family. Either way the young man felt extremely anxious about it all. He needed time to adjust to this sudden change.

Peter felt a little disappointed by his neighbours. He had heard what Tom, the guy, had said about them not being friends and that had hurt a little. To Peter they were the closest thing he had to friends and he had started to trust them. More recently he had asked them inside for a little while. He liked them, they were gentle people and their happy news had given Peter a little lift in his heart. He had allowed his imagination to run away with him, picturing himself as a kind of uncle figure to their baby. Now he just felt foolish after hearing their conversation. He was merely the sad loner neighbour to them, nothing else.

I suppose I can't blame them.

Peter also bore scars of the past, mainly on his wrists where he had tried to leave this world behind him. The scars in his mind were more prominent, they never seemed to heal over, always throwing up startling images that sent shivers over his whole being. There were other physical scars, but he never allowed his thoughts to even entertain a whisper about those. They had to remain hidden, preferably forgotten.

Peter had no family, his parents had died when he was a child. He was raised by his aunt and uncle but they too had passed away when he was in his late teens. He had enrolled in college after obtaining a scholarship and for two and a half years he was blissfully happy studying design and technology. He had also loved helping his roommate Danny with his many art works he created all round the city. 

They had been as close as two best friends could be, but there had always been something more than just platonic friendship. While they had never really been physical sexually, they often kissed and snuggled together and occasionally held hands. They loved one another and it was on an easy going care-free level that suited them both. They had been happily living in the moment and life had felt full of possibilities and opportunities.

Peter flinched as he thought back to the exact moment everything changed and a cold sensation crept over his body. He had taught himself to fight the images in his head and the gnarly twisting of his stomach when a flashback hit him unexpectedly. 

All their hopes and dreams had been crushed in one terror filled ordeal. One night  when the universe had decided their happy life would come to an end. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse their tormentors had risen up and struck them down. No warning, just pain, long and intense pain. The damage they caused was of such an irreparable nature that one month later Danny had walked into the ocean and left this earth for good. His parents and siblings bereft of a beautiful human being. 

Peter's grief for his friend accompanied by the anxiety and fear he was buckling under meant that he could no longer face the outside world. He had tried to follow Danny, slashing his wrists one grey morning as he sat on the floor of their bathroom. In a sudden moment of realisation he had panicked and called an ambulance before he passed out. When he woke in hospital he had felt more alone than he had ever done before in his young life and decided to move out of their old home and set himself up in a new place where he would be safe and secure. That's how he ended up where he was and since the day he moved in he hadn't left the apartment.

He would order all his groceries online and anything else he needed, even clothes and other domestic supplies. He would sign the delivery slip through the letter box and wait until the person had left until he opened the door and quickly grabbed his purchases. He would hold his breath as he frantically bolted the door shut, only being able to exhale once he knew everything was secure again. It was a far cry from the life he should have been leading at age twenty three, but for Peter it was the only way he could survive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The following weeks Tom and Grace gradually moved all their stuff out and Wade started decorating the rooms. There was a lot of noise and different people coming in and out and Peter covertly observed it all through his trusty letterbox, mindful not to open it too far. 

He was especially interested in the presence of the new guy Wade. He was carrying pots of paint and ladders and singing to himself in a loud cheerful voice. Peter found him quite amusing. It was like watching a busy film seeing all these people. As long as he was behind his re-enforced door he was safe and he could watch them without any fear of being harmed. 

Wade had noticed the letterbox slightly opened every time he walked past and he was being purposely vocal. He really wanted to crouch down and say hello to whoever was behind the door. He knew the guy's name was Peter and about his reclusive existence, but nothing else. His curiosity was nagging him. 

I just want to lure this little mouse out of his hiding place.

An opportunity presented itself when a delivery guy turned up and knocked on Peter's door. There was no response and in a moment of spontaneity Wade offered to take the parcel for his neighbour.
"I think he might be in the bathroom or something, I'll make sure he gets it buddy."

Peter had sat behind his door hyperventilating at the exchange he could hear taking place between Wade and the delivery guy. He had been too scared to respond to the knocking as it was too busy in the hallway, but now his parcel was with a stranger and he had no idea how he was going to retrieve it. 

Peter sat for two hours rooted to the spot in a panic about his parcel. He hoped Grace might come back and she could bring it over, but as she and Tom had said goodbye to him a couple of nights before he doubted he would ever see them again. They had tried to reassure him by saying the new guy seemed very nice and friendly and he would be living there alone and minding his own business.

Peter hadn't really been able to grasp all the information. He just hated all the changes.

A loud knock on the door made him jump and he froze. He listened at the letterbox, looking through the slim crack where it didn't quite close shut. He could see two legs and then he heard a voice.

"Hey are you in there? My name's Wade I've just moved in and I've got your parcel. The guy tried to deliver it earlier but nobody answered. I don't want to cause you any issues, so I'm going to leave it here outside your door okay?"

Peter saw the shadow of Wade's legs disappear and he heard his door shut.

What Peter didn't know was that Wade did shut the door but then he very carefully opened it again, just enough for him to catch a glimpse of Peter when he got the parcel. He had also placed it a little further away from the door so he would have to step outside to get it.

I just want to see him.

Peter waited a few moments and then he slowly unbolted the door, making sliding and clunking noises every time he undid another bolt. Wade frowned as he heard all the locks. 

Oh boy what is this guy so afraid of?

Peter took a deep breath and opened the door. He focussed solely on the parcel and placed one foot on the door mat as he bent down and grabbed it, rushing back inside and once again securing all the locks.

Peter hadn't noticed Wade's door or the fact that he was watching, but Wade had definitely noticed him. He didn't know what he had expected Peter to look like, but he was totally unprepared for the vision of smooth porcelain skin and unruly head of dark brown hair that emerged from behind the fortress style door. 

Wade was both surprised and intrigued at this beautiful human who behaved like a strange nocturnal animal just sticking his head out of an underground dwelling. He decided there and then he would make it his goal to get to know Peter. Someone as lovely as him should not be hidden away from the world. Wade wanted to help him.

And no it's not just because he's pretty...although that is a good enough reason. Damn, I'm so shallow.

He knew he would have to tread very carefully and have a ton of patience, but Wade just felt it would be worth it. He told himself that in six months time when spring was in full bloom he would have Peter outside sniffing the flowers with a healthy blush on that fragile pale skin. 

Meanwhile an oblivious Peter unpacked his parcel and realised it was a gift he had bought for Tom and Grace's baby, a module to hang over the crib. It had little stars and planets and played a soothing tune as it turned round. It was made of soft fabric and the little figures were all hand stitched. He had comissioned it from a lady online and he chose astronomy themed figures because Tom worked at the Planetarium.

Peter sat on his sofa and stared at the module. A tear rolled down his cheek. He felt a rawness in his heart, a sadness that he had allowed himself to get excited over someone else's baby. In his mind he had imagined the cute little baby face asleep with the gentle music playing. It had been a happy thought. 

Now he just felt stupid. He wrapped up the module in the tissue paper inside the box and placed it in the cupboard. He didn't even have a forwarding address for his old neighbours, so he wouldn't be able to give them the gift. No doubt it would sit in the closet forever.

Peter thought about the way the new guy had been so considerate about the parcel. He had shown understanding towards Peter's situation, respecting his needs by placing it outside and walking away. Giving Peter space to retrieve it unhindered by his presence. He liked that. Maybe this guy Wade would be okay as a neighbour, maybe he could even be a friend.

"No you stupid idiot...you're doing it again! They didn't see you as a friend so why would this guy? Stop being so fucking gullible and naieve." Peter snarled at his reflection in the bedroom mirror. He was too soft. Despite his fear of people and the awful memories that haunted him he still felt unbearably lonely and his touch starved body craved affection and attention. One act of kindness meant the world to Peter and he scolded his own neediness. 

Have you learnt nothing? Don't be fooled into happiness because something will always come and take it away.

Everything good had always been ripped apart in Peter's life, his parents, his aunt and uncle, his beautiful sweet Danny and his future, all gone. He could not permit himself to be distracted by flippant thoughts of false friendships and average acts of random kindness. No, he needed to keep his head clear.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An overcast breezy day. The beach seemed to stretch endlessly before him. It was empty, not another being in sight. He walked along the edge of the water, the coarse grains of sand rubbing the soles of his feet. Every so often a small wave of seawater would tease him, lapping at his ankles. It felt cold and fresh, not unpleasant. 

Danny where are you?

He looked out at the water and wished for his sweet friend to return, somehow magically emerge from the green depths and open his arms to welcome Peter into his heart again. The pain of his loss pierced his core like a deep stab wound. 

Danny I'm sorry I couldn't help you. 

Why did you leave me here alone?

Hot tears ran down his face as he started running along the beach, but no matter how fast he thought his legs were going he didn't seem to be moving. It was as if he was being held in place by invisible hands.

Except they hadn't been invisible, they had been real hands, hard and pinching. The hands had held him by his neck, forced him to watch, hurt him. The hands were unforgiving, ruthless, making his skin crawl and his stomach churn in anger and frustration. Most of all the hands had made him feel afraid.

No no no, just let me go, don't take him, don't hurt him.

Danny...I'm so sorry. I love you Danny. I miss you.

Peter fell on to the damp sand and lay there as the sea water slowly covered his body, the briny taste penetrating his lips. Another memory flashed through his mind, another kind of taste, equally salty, but full of fear and shame. A choking sensation as the fluid hit the back of his throat, was this how Danny had felt when the seawater filled his lungs and took him away? Peter had no strength to fight. He just lay there, much like he had that night as he watched their abusers flee to a backdrop of flashing blue lights.

I'm so sorry Danny.

"Hey! No! You can't put that there!"

Peter squinted his eyes and tried to find his bearings. He was no longer on the beach, but in his bed and he could hear a voice shouting out in the hallway. He sat up and tried to listen. He heard a bang and somebody groaning.

"Ohhhh and there we have it! I told you that would happen, now his leg is bleeding! Jesus holy mother of fuck you guys are so DUMB!" 

Peter gave a little chuckle at the drama that seemed to be unfolding outside his door, it was clearly moving in day for his new neighbour and by the sound of things the removal people were not the most capable of characters.

"I suppose this is what I get for trying to save some money? You can forget your tip! Oh really? You speak to me like that again and I'll kick you out that motherfucking window! Oh yeah..go then! Go! Leave my stuff on the sidewalk and get the hell out of here, useless piece of shit!"

Peter listened with wide eyes as the situation outdoors had clearly escalated and now his neighbour appeared to be stuck with no help to move his stuff indoors. He smiled and shook his head as he heard the new guy cursing and grunting, clearly lifting something heavy. Peter crept down beside his letterbox and peered out.

There was Wade, arms bulging as he lifted a large sofa chair out of the elevator and carried it into his apartment. Peter held his breath at the sight of such strength. He had a funny feeling in his belly. It reminded him of when he once went on a rollercoaster as a kid and got an impromptu semi from all the exhilaration. 

What is happening? He's just a guy lifting a chair, get over yourself. 

He continued spying on his neighbour, focussing on his large arms and impressive back every time he lifted a new piece of furniture and cursed his way into his apartment. He sounded annoyed, but to Peter's amusement it was also slightly funny the way he seemed to be having an angry conversation with himself.

Wade had of course caught sight of the letterbox moving as he struggled with his now abandoned furniture. The removal guys had been impossibly clumsy and as he witnessed countless things getting damaged he'd dismissed them, choosing to do it all himself, but it meant he had to hurry as he didn't want anybody stealing anything from downstairs. He had wanted to shout "Enjoying the show? How about you come give me a hand?" at his reclusive neighbour, but he bit his lip not wanting to scare him off.

In his distraction he had tripped over the cable of a lamp and it had fallen, smashing the lightbulb.

"What the shit? Are you kidding me? How hard is it to carry a goddamned lamp in an elevator no less? Look at this crap...glass everywhere!" Wade muttered to himself annoyed at his own mistake. He glanced back and saw the letterbox move again and a sneaky idea popped into his head. 

Two can play this game little mouse.

He marched loudly into the elevator knowing Peter would be watching him and as soon as the doors closed he would shut the letterbox. Wade travelled down and then on his way back up he stopped on the floor below, quickly pressing the button for his floor as he raced out of the elevator and dashed up the stairs. 

He made it just in time before the doors pinged open and stealthily slid across the floor right beside Peter's front door, where he positioned himself and waited. 

Peter heard the elevator doors and slowly lifted the flap on the letterbox, but all he could see was a table and some chairs inside and no sign of Wade. 

"BOO!" 

Peter jumped back as suddenly two eyes appeared right in front of the opening. He sat gasping on the floor as he heard muffled laughter and Wade's voice.

"Hey I'm sorry, I couldn't help it. Hey are you in there? Come and say hi...promise I won't try and scare you again." Wade scrunched his eyes up as he tried to listen if he could hear any movement. He had caught a split second glance at two deep brown eyes and he wanted to see more.

Come on, don't be scared, please.

"Peter isn't it? Your old neighbours told me your name. I was just having a little fun. I'm really sorry if I made things awkward, but I could see you watching me and I figured I'd say hello. Please don't be afraid, there's no need ...I promise." Wade was willing Peter to come to the door.

The younger man could hear the sincerity in Wade's voice as he slowly edged closer to the door. He tentatively pushed open the mail slot with his fingers and looked out. There he saw two hazel eyes staring back and he breathed in sharply. They were framed by scarred skin, but they looked friendly, a mischievous twinkle reflecting the light overhead. 

"There you are. Hey, my name's Wade Wilson and I'm your new neighbour. Pleased to meet you finally." The brown eyes on the other side gleamed as Wade introduced himself and felt his heartbeat thump in his chest. He wanted to see the face that belonged to those eyes up close, but for now he was happy to have made this first move.

"H...hi I'm Peter...Peter Parker. Nice to meet you. I'm sorry...about watching you. I just wanted to see what was happening." Peter was stuttering and sweating as he spoke. He observed the twinkly eyes had soft creases either side and even despite the scars he could tell they were kind eyes. These were eyes that had lived. He felt strangely drawn to them. He liked Wade's voice, he wanted to hear it again.

"That's okay my friend. I guess I should feel kind of flattered that you find me so interesting. I mean I'm hardly a pretty sight and you wouldn't pay for tickets to this scary movie, but my heart's in the right place...Well, it is these days." Wade smiled and his eyes lit up even more. He purposely moved his head back so Peter could see his whole face.

May as well let the tiny mouse see the mask of terror in all it's glory. He will probably never want to speak to me again after this.

Peter looked at Wade's scarred exterior. His skin was like a pattern covering his entire face as well as his scalp and neck, even his ears had scars. He thought he looked like a strange and captivating art work. He felt a strong desire to reach out and stroke his face with his fingertips, feel the texture. 

"I would buy a ticket." Peter said it out loud without thinking. "Oh...I mean. I don't think you are like a scary movie. I meant that you were...are, nice to look at..OH I mean no. Shit sorry I've got to go now." Peter scrambled away from the door and ran into his bedroom. His face was burning and he felt mortified at his stupid confession. He was so socially inept he had no idea how to talk to people any more. The kind scarred man had made him all flustered and he didn't understand why.

Outside Wade smiled broadly. He felt very pleased with himself. More so he felt a little flame ignite in his chest that Peter hadn't seemed at all put off by his appearance. In fact if he wasn't mistaken he had picked up on a hint of interest there.

Maybe the little mouse just needs some warmth.

I know I sure as hell do.

Wade got up and finished sorting his stuff out. By the end of the afternoon he had finally installed all his furniture and boxes and to his relief nothing had disappeared. He slipped the caretaker fifty bucks for helping him and promised to have a beer with him over the next few days. 

"So, this is home. Welcome to your new palace Prince Wade. Now you've met the timid Princess in the other abode it's time to plan your next move. What are you really good at?"

Sex.

"No not that...well, maybe later, but I was thinking of my other speciality. Food!"

Time to get cooking and maybe 'accidentally' leave the door ajar so all those delicious aromas drift out into the hallway. Nobody can resist my spaghetti sauce.

Peter sat alone in the dark. He felt strange after talking to Wade. He liked him, but he felt embarrassed about his mishap. He was so used to playing out conversations and encounters in his head he forgot that he was talking out loud. Most of his interactions were with himself. He often sat talking to his reflection or just out loud as he went about his daily tasks. Everything had a routine and a strategy. Even something as simple as getting rid of his trash was an arduous task for Peter. 

There was a garbage chute located in a small enclosed space on the far side of the hall. When his old neighbours had lived there they had agreed to help him and all he did was place his garbage in a secured bag outside his door and they threw it in the chute for him. Now they had gone and he was going to have to venture out there himself. 
He had been an anxious wreck for days, building himself up to step outside into the hall and dispose of his trash. He had to do it because it was starting to smell bad in his kitchen. All the commotion of his new neighbour moving in had delayed his first attempt, but he was going to gather all his inner strength and do it that evening. He had to be brave, not always depending on other people.

Peter slowly and as quietly as possible unlocked his door. He had bundled up the trash bag so it was easy to carry and he stuck his head out to look down the hall. It wasn't a large space, but to Peter's panicked brain it looked gigantic. His heart started pounding as he placed his foot outside the door. Then he was standing on the door mat. He took a couple of deep breaths and started walking, but as he did he caught a whiff of something incredible floating through the space. His belly rumbled.

Oh my god that smells delicious.

Peter froze as he saw that Wade's door was slightly open. He didn't know what to do. He was halfway towards the chute and he looked back and forth at the two doors. Sticking his head down he quickly marched towards the door for the chute and opened it, throwing in the garbage bag and closing the door again. He sighed with relief and leant back against the wall, his nose still full of the lovely smells coming from Wade's apartment.

I'm so hungry.

He stood up straight and started walking back to his place, but something inside his head steered him towards the open door and the mouth watering aromas. He could see a warm glow within the apartment and the idea of the food made him crave a sense of comfort. He carefully pushed open the door to see inside, but it made a loud creak and he gritted his teeth at the noise.

Peter quickly retreated and rushed back to his front door. He wasn't quick enough as just as he pushed it open he heard Wade's voice behind him.

"Hi Peter, are you hungry? There's enough to feed a football team. You're welcome to join me." Wade licked his wooden spoon as he watched Peter's rigid body language. 

"I'm sorry...thank you...I can't. I just can't." with that Peter hurried in and bolted the door shut. Tears were streaming down his face as he stood inside. He so wanted to taste the lovely food and talk to his nice new neighbour, even sit in his warm apartment, but his anxiety rendered him paralysed. He simply felt too scared that something bad would happen.

Wade frowned.

Shit.

He wasn't about to give up though. He plated up some spaghetti and put a dish over the top of it, then he knocked on Peter's door and called through the letterbox. 

"Peter? I'm sorry if I took you by surprise. I know I'm the new guy and it's been a little crazy around here for a few days. I'm leaving you some food outside your door okay? I think you will like it, but if you don't want to eat it that's fine too. It's just my way of saying sorry for all the noise and shit. So..ehm okay I'll go now and you can get the food." Wade backed off and stood just inside his apartment, listening.

Peter slowly opened his door again and saw the plate of food. There was even a little dish of grated cheese for him to sprinkle on top of the pasta. Peter's heart felt warm and fuzzy as he brought the food inside. He sat at the table and as he took a bite all his senses were filled with comfort and relief. It was like a soft warm blanket had been placed round his shoulders. His tears didn't stop all through the meal, but they weren't because he was sad. Peter felt a glimmer of something that had been missing from his heart for a long time. 

He felt happy.

This steaming plate of food, with it's tasty herby goodness had made him forget his anxiety for the entire time he chewed and savoured the flavours. It reminded him of the cup cakes Grace had made him, except he had felt guilty because he had told her it was his birthday. No, this was a spontaneous act of goodness. This person had wanted to share something of themself with him and it made him feel grateful. It was nice to discover somebody might just like him a little.

Across the hall Wade grinned proudly. All he wanted was to give this timid creature some kindess and show him that things weren't so scary outside that little bubble he'd locked himself away in. He had taken a shine to Peter and he was determined to help him heal whatever pain had driven him to such an extreme reaction.

For now the food was an important step towards gaining his trust.

Ah my spaghetti...never fails.