Peter wasn’t having a good day. Which, to be fair, seemed to be the norm most of the time. But the Sinister Six were after his ass again, and there was only so much dodging and ducking he could do before he got nailed in the face by one of them. Unfortunately, he took the Fantastic Four down with him.
It had started with a fire. Peter’s apartment building had burnt down about a week before, and Johnny had offered him a place to stay at the Baxter Building. That was all well and good, because Peter loved spending time with the Four (and Franklin and Val, of course). But spending time together meant getting stuck in sticky situations. The sticky situation of the day included Doc Ock, Green Goblin, and an apparently impenetrable force field. Not even Sue could do anything about it. So there they were, stuck in a giant glowing bubble in the middle of Times Square while Otto gloated.
“I prepared for this!” he exclaimed, “I noticed you had been spending time with the Fantastic Four, so I built a force field none of you could escape!”
Peter tuned him out. There was only so much of Otto’s victorious rants he could take.
“Anybody got a plan?” he asked the Four, turning to Reed and Sue.
Reed frowned. “Maybe. But I’ll need a distraction.”
He got his distraction. Because suddenly Bubblegum Bitch started blaring out of the speakers of the ad screens around the square. Otto abruptly stopped his speech.
“What the fuck is this?” Johnny asked, his mouth next to Peter’s ear and suddenly so close Peter jolted in surprise.
“Don’t ask me,” he replied.
And then Ben Reilly swung into the square with a whoop and kicked Norman in the face. Peter threw his arms up in the air and cheered, and Ben turned to him and put two thumbs up before getting tossed through the air by Otto. Peter’s arms dropped.
“Do you know this guy?” Sue questioned, looking confused.
Peter grinned as he watched Ben knock a few of Norman’s teeth out. “Yeah. You guys will love him.”
He let out another whoop as Kaine suddenly appeared behind Otto and shoved his stingers through one of his arms, ripping it off with a shriek of breaking metal. Kaine turned invisible again after that, but Peter was happy to know he was there.
“I’M MISS SUGAR PINK LIQUOR LIQUOR LIPS!” Ben screamed along to the lyrics, doing a flip and kicking Norman in the face with both feet, “HIT ME WITH YOUR SWEET LOVE-“ He punched Norman in the gut. “STEAL ME WITH A KISS!” He ducked under a punch from Norman and retaliated with his own.
“I’M MISS SUGAR PINK LIQUOR LIQUOR LIPS!” Peter yelled along, dancing around the tiny force field and grabbing Johnny to dance with him, “I’M GONNA BE YOUR BUBBLEGUM BITCH! I’M GONNA BE YOUR BUBBLEGUM BITCH!”
Johnny laughed out loud as Peter grinned at him. Then Kaine appeared next to the force field and knocked on it, and Peter let go of Johnny to get up close to him.
“Hi!” Peter exclaimed, pressing his hands and forehead against the force field, “Holy shit!”
“Can I just kick this shit?” Kaine asked, gesturing to the machine powering the force field, and Peter nearly fainted because of the drawl in his voice.
“Since when have you had a southern accent? ” Peter asked, eyes wide with shock, “You sound like a watered down cowboy from one of those old westerns.”
Kaine gave him a deadpan stare. “Thank you. Now seriously, can I kick this?”
“ Incoming! ” Ben shrieked, just as Otto went flying through the air and slammed into his precious force field generator. He was out cold, and the generator was done for.
“Never mind,” Kaine said with amusement as the force field disappeared, and Peter’s arms immediately snapped around him in a hug that would’ve broken any normal human’s ribs.
“I missed you so fucking much,” he whispered, “Where have you been? Obviously down south somewhere. What have you been up to?”
“Can we save this for later?” Kaine asked, jerking one thumb in the direction of Ben getting his ass kicked by Norman, “He needs some help.”
Peter let out a sigh but sprinted in that direction. Ben saw him coming and leaned down slightly so his back was at a slight upwards angle. Peter used him as a springboard, launching off his shoulders and slamming into Norman so hard they both went rolling. Peter tumbled free and Ben and Kaine pounced. The sound of a thick leathery hide ripping and the smell of fresh blood filled the air, and when Kaine backed away his stingers were dripping blood. Ben landed a final punch and Norman was done, blood pouring from his stomach.
“Is he dead?” Peter asked nervously.
“Nah, just unconscious,” Ben reassured him, carefully tiptoeing around the pool of blood, “He’ll be fine. See? Already healing.”
Peter got to his feet and lunged at Ben, dragging him
into a hug and spinning him around with the force of it. They both stepped in blood but neither of them paid attention, too overjoyed to see each other again to care.
“I missed you!” Peter exclaimed, pulling away and grabbing the back of Ben’s head so they could rest their foreheads together, “You’ve been gone too long.”
Kaine had run off a few months before, and a month ago Ben had gone after him. He’d obviously found him, but it had been a long time and Peter had missed both of them a hell of a lot. When he was done with Ben he repeated the forehead touch with Kaine, though he had to stand on his toes to do so. It was their thing. A way of comforting each other.
“Sorry I disappeared,” Kaine apologized in a soft voice when they were still pressed close to each other, “I promise I’ll explain.”
Peter hugged him again and Ben joined in. Peter’s eyes watered but he blinked back the tears. It was a bad time to cry.
“When did you guys get back?” Peter asked once they all let go.
“Yesterday,” Ben replied, “But we went to your old apartment building and it was just gone?”
Peter grimaced. “Yeah. It burnt down a week ago. I’m staying with the Four until I find a new place.”
“We have a hotel if you want to come stay with us,” Kaine offered, “There’s only one bed, but that’s not a problem.”
“He’s fine with us,” Johnny suddenly barged into the conversation, throwing an arm around Peter’s shoulder.
Did Johnny sound… jealous? Nah, that was ridiculous.
“Maybe you guys could come stay with us!” Peter suggested, “We have the room, and it’s a lot nicer than a hotel. As long as Sue’s okay with it.”
“Yeah, hun, that’s fine,” Sue confirmed, shooting a look in Johnny’s direction, “We have extra bedrooms.”
“They can just share with me,” Peter said, “Right, guys?”
Ben and Kaine nodded in agreement as Ben pulled out his phone and stopped his music. The square felt suddenly quiet.
“Yeah. It’s been a while. Sharing a room will be nice,” Kaine spoke up.
“How did you connect to the speakers?” Reed asked Ben.
“It’s a secret,” Ben replied with a wink, “Ask me when I’m not starving. Petey dear, can you buy us hot dogs? I haven’t had a good New York hot dog in a hot minute.”
“He’s been complaining about this for ages,” Kaine drawled, “Please, I’m begging you. Buy him a hot dog.”
Peter laughed. “Yeah, sure. We can catch up and then go pack up your hotel room.”
“Johnny’s making supper tonight, remember,” Ben (Grimm) reminded Peter, “Be back in time for that.”
“Will do,” Peter replied, “See you guys then!”
He swung away, followed closely by his brothers. First, they all got hot dogs. They camped out on a rooftop to eat, then swung to Ben and Kaine’s hotel room. Peter sprawled across the bed as they packed up their stuff and listened to them explain. Kaine started out by saying that his original goal had been to just get to Mexico to escape his crimes (the murder of some minor villains in New York). Instead, he’d ended up in Houston, Texas. Ben claimed that Kaine had illegally adopted a kid during that time, but Kaine denied that (Peter would have to dig into that later). Kaine had become the Araña Escarlata , aka the Scarlet Spider, Houston’s very own superhero. Then Ben took over and explained that his gut had led him to Houston, and once there he’d connected the dots about the Araña Escarlata and Kaine. It had been pretty easy to convince Kaine to come back. The cops weren’t after him anymore, and he’d apparently missed the city (and Peter).
“So that’s the tea,” Ben finished, zipping up his duffel bag, “And now we’re back! Your turn! Fill us in on your adventures.”
“Not much to say,” Peter admitted, “I already told you about my apartment. I’ve just been spending time with Johnny and the rest of the family and trying to avoid the Six.”
“That clearly didn’t go well,” Kaine commented.
“You still got a crush on the boy toy?” Ben asked.
Kaine’s eyebrows shot up. “Wait a minute. Pete, you’ve got a crush on that idiot?”
Peter turned red. “He’s… nice.”
Ben laughed as Kaine groaned.
“You better grab him soon, or I will,” Ben taunted, “I’d let him do horrible, horrible things to me.”
Peter blanched. “Don’t put that image in my head.”
Ben cleared his throat. “I would let him bend me over the ba-“
Kaine slapped a hand over Ben’s mouth. “Fucking stop it.”
Ben licked his hand and Kaine yanked it away. Peter couldn’t help but laugh as Kaine wrestled Ben to the floor and put him in a headlock. Ben slapped Kaine’s arm twice and he let go, and Ben pulled away gasping for air but laughing anyway.
“Come on, let’s head back to the Baxter,” Peter said, standing up, “You wanna swing or should we get a cab?”
They ended up swinging. Kaine webbed his suitcase to his back, and Ben’s duffel bag converted into a backpack. They got in through Johnny’s broken window, and Peter brought them to his room and let them settle in. Then they went out to see the Four. Peter took his mask off, but Ben and Kaine left theirs on.
“It’s not like polyamory bothers me,” they heard Johnny say as they approached the kitchen, “It’s just- I’ve had a crush on Pete for ages , you know? And suddenly he’s got this thing going on with spider people he hasn’t seen in months? It sucks ass.”
Peter skidded to a halt. Ben and Kaine did the same. They all froze right outside the entrance to the kitchen/living area.
“Try to be happy for him,” Sue replied, “He clearly cares about them a lot, and they seem like good people.”
“He was really happy to see them,” Reed added, “This is a good thing for him. I know it’s upsetting, but you need to let it go. He’s happy. It’s so rare to see him this happy. Don’t ruin it for him.”
“Do you have depression?” Kaine whispered.
“No,” Peter whispered back, “It’s the self-hatred and fear I’ll never be good enough talking.”
“Oh,” Ben said, “We have that too.”
“Shh,” Kaine hissed as Johnny started talking again.
“I know.” There was a heavy sigh. “I won’t.”
“It’ll be okay,” Grimm reassured him, “You’ll find another guy or girl.”
Johnny sighed again. “Sure.”
Ben shoved Peter into the room, then followed after him with Kaine trailing behind them. The Four were standing around the kitchen island. Valeria was asleep in Reed’s arms.
“We’re back,” Peter said awkwardly.
Johnny got pale. “Did you hear any of that?”
Peter fiddled awkwardly with his mask. Johnny blanched.
“Before you flip out, this isn’t what it looks like,” Peter said, gesturing between himself and his brothers, “They’re not my boyfriends. They’re my brothers.”
Johnny looked like he was about to faint. “What?”
“Uh, so, I never told you guys this, but this dickhead named Miles Warren cloned me. And he made these two! Meet Ben and Kaine.”
The two yanked off their masks. Ben waved. Kaine just looked awkward.
“This just slipped your mind?! ” Sue exclaimed, “For fuck’s sake, Peter!”
Peter recoiled. He’d never heard Sue say fuck before.
“Haha, you’re in trouble,” Ben taunted, sticking his tongue out at Peter, “Johnny, after Sue kills Peter you are more than welcome to top the shit out of me.”
Kaine and Peter slapped their hands over Ben’s mouth at the same time. Peter ended up being the unfortunate one who got his hand licked. He yelped and yanked his hand away as Ben laughed.
“I’m disowning you,” Peter deadpanned, wiping his hand on his suit.
“You can try,” Ben retorted.
“Back on topic,” Sue said, “Cloning. Seriously? When did this happen?”
“Um, like two years ago?” Peter guessed, “But we weren’t always close so I just never brought it up because it was a rough topic. And then Kaine fucked off to Houston and Ben had to go hunt him down.”
“I killed some bad people,” Kaine explained, “Cops were on my ass.”
Out of the corner of Peter’s eye, he saw Ben wink at Johnny and smirk meaningfully. Johnny got red. Peter had to put a stop to that.
“Also, um, Johnny, can I talk to you?” Peter asked, “Alone?”
Johnny’s gaze snapped back to him. “Yeah, of course.”
They went to Johnny’s room. Johnny wouldn’t look Peter in the eyes.
“Torch,” Peter said gently, “You really have a crush on me?”
Johnny winced. “Yeah. But hey, man, if you’re not into me I get it. We can just pretend I never said that.”
“God, you’re dense,” Peter complained, shaking his head with a grin, “Johnny. Torch. Look at me.”
Johnny finally looked up at him. There was a mixture of hope and fear in his eyes. Peter reached out and took one of his hands. He squeezed it as tightly as he could without breaking it.
“I like you too,” he managed to say, smiling as Johnny’s expression turned into one of elation.
“Seriously?” Johnny asked, grinning from ear to ear.
“Hell yeah,” Peter replied, “So here’s the question. Do you wanna be my boyfriend?”
“Hell yeah!” Johnny echoed, then coughed awkwardly, “I mean, yeah, sure, of course.”
“Oh fuck yeah!” Ben exclaimed from outside the door.
Peter whirled around. “BENJAMIN LINCOLN REILLY!”
He dashed through the door, but Ben had already sprinted down the hall and was laughing maniacally. Kaine was on his heels, and he threw up a thumbs up before whipping around the corner. Peter would have run after them, but Johnny grabbed his wrist and held him in place.
“You have all the time in the world to chase after them,” he said, “But I think you have something more important to do.”
Peter’s eyebrows shot up. “Like what?”
“Kissing me,” Johnny replied softly, a shy grin on his face, “If you want to.”
Peter kissed him. And aside from Ben wolf-whistling from down the hall, it was the best damn kiss of his life.