The squishy sensation under his fingers is absolutely disgusting. Peter lets go of his hold on the window's ledge so fast he almost loses his balance, wincing when it jars his shoulder.
"Aww, no!" he complains as he rubs the tip of his fingers on the brick, trying to take off most of the caterpillar gut. It's going to stain the suit. "Why?"
It's a rhetorical question, but one that applies to the whole day. First, Peter had slept through his alarm, which gave the tone. Then, trying to hurry with his breakfast, he'd spilled OJ on his favorite shirt (the last clean one, of course). Taking time to change made Peter even later for work, which of course led to an epic chew down by J.J.J. Predictable, of course, but it sucked nonetheless. By then, it was only 9 o'clock in the morning.
Did he get a reprieve after that? Of course not. He'd found out that none of his remote-controlled equipment had worked for a sellable picture of Spider-Man. Each shot was either a lot of nothing, unflattering angles or too blurry. Then he'd been sent to the courthouse to get a picture of some senator at his preliminary hearing on corruption charges. It was a shitty assignment in itself, but then the senator's lawyers had made him use an alternative route to his hearing. In the end, Peter had nothing to show for 3 long hours of wait in the company of disgruntled news photographers and paparazzo. Cue another epic chew down by J.J.J.
Peter had decided to let off some steam at the end of the day with a little crime fighting. Sound idea, right? But the villain he'd crossed paths with, The Rattler, had clipped him so hard in the ribs with his bionic tail that Peter is pretty sure his side will be blue for days. That's not the way he likes to accessorize. As if it wasn't enough, he'd been grabbed by the wrist and thrown around like a rag doll (his whole arm and shoulder are still painful). Sure, in the end Peter had webbed The Rattler good and proper; that had been nice. But since Gustav is deaf and was weirdly without his earing aids, there had been no one around to appreciate Spider-Man's witty repartee.
Yep, a shitty day. With now added caterpillar gut as he's crawling up his apartment building towards his living room window. There is a very short list of things Peter wants right now: take a shower, gulp down enough painkillers so he gets at least temporary relief, get in his bed, pull the covers over his head and pretend the day never happened.
He's halfway through the window when he freezes. There's someone in his apartment. Okay, it's a shady neighborhood, so some breaking and entering is believable. But the intruder is not only in Peter's apartment, he's sitting on his couch and casually watching TV. Admittedly, that's pretty weird, because burglars are rarely this cool. It takes a second for Peter to recognize his visitor as being the one and only Johnny Storm. It does explains why his spidey senses weren't clamoring 'danger, danger' before he even opened the window. By the way, it's a crap internal system because they should be blaring at DEFCON 1 at the moment: Johnny is insidiously dangerous for Peter's sanity.
Case in point: the content Johnny has the gall to watch on Peter's TV, sitting on his couch, in an apartment he has no standing invitation to invade. No, it's not porn, because that would be too outrageous even for Johnny Storm, but in a way it's worse. It's a god-awful music video. Bad music, supreme douchebag singer and appalling everything else on top.
"You know, -" Peter starts and Johnny immediately turns to beam at him. God he's gorgeous, it's so unfair.
"Hey, hi!" Johnny exclaims.
Peter can't help it, his heart thuds. Damn the Human Torch and his magnetic charming powers.
"Hi Johnny. As I was trying to say, I'd normally do an about-face to avoid this kind of torture," Peter says, gesturing at the TV. "But this is my apartment. My own place. I should not have to run away."
"What do you mean, torture?" Johnny says, turning his attention back to the television with a small frown. "That? Awww, come on, don't be a snob!"
Peter put his face into his hands, only to immediately abort because yeah, eww, caterpillar gut. Thank god he hadn't taken the mask off yet.
"Not liking this abomination isn't being a snob! This is terrible!" Peter exclaims.
Johnny is smiling at the television, bobbing his head to the music.
"Okay, it may not have aged that well-"
"No, not really. It looks like a caricature of the 80's!"
Cases in point are the many shoulder-padded jackets without lapels.
"- but Gerardo has swag!" Johnny finishes.
"If by swag you mean a six-pack, a pretty face under the smugness and terrible dance moves," Peter says.
He's climbed on the back of the sofa next to Johnny's shoulders, but it proves to be a tactical mistake when Johnny cranes his neck to grin up at him. Peter is close enough to see the faint laugh lines around his eyes, and it's terribly endearing. Attraction is already hard to manage, but fond and loving feelings are worse.
"Well," Johnny drawls, stretching the word. "In my experience, you can do a lot with those things. And with great hair," he adds with a wink.
A fucking wink. No, no, no, it has been too tiring a day; Peter can't take all of it plus a wink. He should grab the remote, change the channel, something, but he doesn't have the energy.
"I am not strong enough to withstand this," Peter admits aloud. "Not after today. Enjoy this horrible one hit wonder's claim to fame; I'm out."
"What about today?" Johnny asks, concerned.
Peter doesn't feel like listing its every shortcoming, so he makes a vague sound from the back of his throat and plans to leave it at that. He's turning to get off the couch when Johnny grabs his wrist to keep him in place. The hurt wrist, of course, because Peter's just that lucky; he hisses in pain.
"You're hurt!" Johnny says, upset.
"I'm fine." Or at least he will be, given a couple of days.
Instead of letting Peter be, Johnny takes off Peter's glove and pushes the suit's sleeve up his forearm. It's done carefully, but it stings enough that he has to clamp his jaw shut not to make any other noise of pain.
"What the hell?" Johnny says. He's glaring at the clear bracelet of bruises around Peter's wrist, courtesy of The Rattler's very large hand and his almost bone-breaking grip. "Who did this?" he asks, looking up at Peter. He looks furious and there is an orange spark in his pupils. He's getting worked up.
"The Rattler. I know," Peter says when Johnny makes a face. It was a big and very strong guy to battle alone. "He threw me around a little, but I got him. He's in custody now." Or so he hopes. Peter had skedaddled when he'd heard the sirens, wanting to go back home to nurse his wounds.
"You should have called for backup," Johnny grumbles, rubbing his thumb up and down the inside of Peter's wrist. It's almost intimate and once again Peter's reflex is an attempt to flee. He likes it too much; he can't allow this, or he'll vomit all of his unrequited feelings all over his friend.
"I had it under control," Peter says. He had, too, apart from being tossed around.
He tries to pull away but Johnny doesn't let go. In fact, he's looking at Peter with a weird expression and frowning more by the second.
"Take off your shirt," he demands, somehow finding a way to sneak two fingers at Peter's waist, where the uniform parts, and pulling on the fabric.
"What?" Peter splutters, rearing back and almost toppling to the floor.
His poor little brain got its wires crossed at the demand and at the touch. He doesn't even dare make a joke about how he dreamed of this because it would cut too close to the truth. Anyway, the only reason Johnny wants him to strip is because he suspects - with reason – that Peter is hurt more than he lets on and he wants to check it himself.
"Dammit, Pete!" Johnny curses, now running fingers up Peter's torso, to his shoulder, then down his arm. He looks very worried. "Jesus. Do you need to go to he hospital?" he asks.
By habit Peter pushes the idea aside: he will heal soon enough. It's going to suck, and he'll be in pain for a couple of days, but there is no need to go to the hospital.
"What, for a sprained wrist? No!"
"Wrist yeah, but also your shoulder and your ribs, among other things!" Johnny hisses.
The last time he checked, Johnny's power didn't include mind reading. Which would be absolutely terrible, as an aside, with everything that goes through Peter's mind when he spends time with Johnny.
"I'm fine," he protests some more. At Johnny's murderous expression, he amends the statement. "I'll be fine soon, no sweat. It's not even that bad."
"Okay, then," Johnny says, crossing his arms and crooking up a disbelieving eyebrow. "Take your shirt off and prove it."
"I don't have anything to prove to you!" Peter says, getting annoyed. "Leave me alone. Why are you here, anyway?"
"I'm concerned, okay?" Johnny says, with such honesty and feeling that Peter feels like a tool.
"Jeez, okay, okay," he concedes.
Peter doesn't like it, and he's going to get another chew down that he doesn't need, but there is no denying Johnny Storm when he's like this. He'll nag and nag until Peter does what he wants, so it's better to just cut to the inevitable end and avoid the argument. The situation is dire because Johnny doesn't even mock his hair when Peter pulls off his mask and his second glove. He's starting to grab the hem of his shirt to do the crossed arms pulling up thing when he realizes it's going to hurt like a bitch that way. Instead Peter untucks the top of the suit from the pants and uses his okay-ish arm to grab the back of his collar, intending to pull it off that way.
He almost misses when Johnny adds a quiet, "I came over because we haven't hung out in a while."
It makes Peter pause and he almost throws his hands up in the air before remembering the shoulder situation.
"We fought the Wrecking Crew for hours yesterday. Less than 24 hours ago!"
Weirdly Johnny doesn't look up at him. Instead, he starts picking at a string sticking out of the purposeful tear in his designer jeans.
"That's work," he mumbles. "I miss just spending time with you. You don't come over to the tower anymore. When he notices, I'm sure Reed's feelings will be hurt."
Peter stopped dropping by Baxter Tower to hang out the F4 when the holy-shit-I'm-in-love-with-Johnny-fucking-Storm situation hit him like a two-by-four between the eyes. He needs to get his head on straight – ha! – before he goes back, or he'll do something inadvisable like kissing Johnny to shut him up. The whole family's shock would be uncomfortable for everyone.
"It hasn't been that long," Peter says unconvincingly. It has been weeks of avoidance, and he is perfectly aware of it. "Sorry, I hadn't realized." Ugh, he is a liar who lies; he hates it.
Johnny glances at him and looks sad, now. "Oh. So it was deliberate."
He's caught in his lie, then, shit. "Look-"
"What did I do?" Johnny asks. "I must have done something."
"No!" Peter exclaims, putting a hand on Johnny's shoulder comfortingly. He cannot live with that dejected pout; it's the ultimate guilt trip. "Why would you say that? You didn't do anything. No one did, I swear."
"Then why?" Johnny insists, irresistible with those pleading baby blue eyes. So unfair.
It makes Peter smirk ruefully. "If I say 'it's not you, it's me', will you leave it alone?"
That makes Johnny smile back, if only a little. "You know me better than that, buddy. And what's that breaking up bullshit? We can't break up, Peter. I refuse."
Peter rolls his eyes. "No we can't." You can't break up with someone you are not even dating! "Look, it's been a shitty couple of weeks. I've avoided everyone." That much is true, at least. Mary-Jane is getting really fed up with his bullshit, too. "I just need a little time to sort through stuff."
"Nu huh," Johnny says, and he's smiling wider now, at least. The admission Peter's shutting out more than the F4 seems to have reassured him, and he will take that win. "That's more break up talk. Unacceptable."
"So I should just forget my issues and hang out with you instead?" Peter asks.
Johnny winks and mimes double finger guns. He even does the clicking sound and he's absolutely ridiculous. "Yep. And if you want, you can tell Doctor Johnny all of your woes, free of charge."
Oh, the horror: Peter's not telling those particular woes to this well-meaning but fake doctor, no way. "Thanks but no thanks!"
It makes Jonny sigh and shakes his head. "People think I can't be serious and solicitous, but they never give me the chance to try."
Peter doesn't know how to react to that. It's probably true, too. He's saved from making a joke about how he's sure that one day it will happen, probably, when Johnny snaps out of his moment of self-awareness and comes back to the injury situation.
"Why do you still have your shirt on?" he frowns. "Stop stalling, Parker."
Peter's best defense against awkward situations is humor. He reverts to it automatically.
"Man, if you wanted me to take off my clothes for you so bad, you just had to ask," he says, face hidden in the fabric as he's pulling the shirt off.
There, it's a first step: the absolute truth even though Peter's making a joke of it. If he can keep their interactions like that, maybe he can afford to spend more time with Johnny while he gets his crush under control. Peter's proved wrong immediately when he feels Johnny grabbing the cloth too as he helps Peter out of his suit, in particular to navigate the hurt shoulder. Good Lord, Johnny Storm is helping him out of his clothes, what is this dream-slash-nightmare?
"If I'd known it was an option, I would have asked a long time ago," Johnny replies just as easily.
Peter almost chokes on his own spit. That's a joke, right? Thank God Peter is still hidden by the shirt because he surely made disbelieving googly eyes. A good side effect is that the surprise helped to distract him from the pain; thanks for the joke, Johnny. By the time Peter's finally free of the top half of his suit, he doesn't need to react to that A-bomb. Now that the damage to his body is revealed, banter is the last thing on the menu.
"Holy shit, Pete!"
Looking down at his own body makes Peter wince. Yeah, it looks pretty bad, with all of his left side a dark purple, and a shoulder that isn't much better.
"It looks worse than it feels?" Peter tries.
"Really? That's what you are going for? Shit." Johnny looks torn about wanting to touch and not daring to cross the last couple of inches to his skin, his hands hovering next to Peter's body. "I could feel you were hurt, but that's bad."
"How? How did you know?"
"The blood under the skin. It causes a slight temperature change," Johnny says. "Are you sure you don't want to go to the hospital?"
"Yes. It's already healing, I can feel the bones knitting back together-"
"Bones!" Johnny exclaims.
"Ribs. At least 3 of them, but as I said they are better now. I heal too fast, Johnny, it would look hella suspicious. I'm fine, I just need rest."
"I wish I could do something," Johnny says, pouting. "You need ice, not heat. Well, unless you feel something getting stiff."
Muscles, Johnny's talking about muscles. Peter blinks, but he doesn't miss the exact moment when Johnny catches his unintentional pun. It's a thing of beauty to see how he's first surprised, and then deliciously pleased with himself.
Somehow it's the straw that breaks the camel's back and Peter starts laughing and laughing, part exhaustion and part losing his goddamn mind. Unsurprisingly, Johnny doesn’t understand what is so funny and he guides Peter to sit down on the couch when he almost falls to the floor.
"Do you have a concussion too?" Johnny asks.
"No, no, it's okay," Peter says when he manages to get enough air to speak between two giggling hiccups-filled fits. "Oh, wow," he adds, wiping the tears under his eyes. "I love you, man. Never change."
"Ooookay." Johnny looks concerned.
Still high on that weird wave of euphoria, and swept by an irresistible fond feeling for this ridiculous man, Peter takes him into a hug, arms sneaking around Johnny's middle. He's warm and solid, a force that Peter can always depend on. Like everything else, Johnny takes the surprise hug in stride and returns it immediately.
"I mean it," Peter says, kissing the side of Johnny's head before starting to pull away. "You're the best. Don’t let me or anyone else convince you otherwise."
"Now I'm really worried," Johnny says. He's locked his arms around Peter's body, refusing to let go. "Compliments? Is this the end of the world? Are you dying?"
"No, I'm just tired. It's been a bad day. I'm sorry, I'm not good company right now," Peter says.
"Are you kidding? I'm getting hugs. Shirtless hugs. This is awesome," Johnny says, grinning.
Oh, dang, Peter had sort of forgotten that part. "Shit, sorry."
"Please," Johnny says, shrugging. "In different circumstances it would be a fantasy coming true; I'm not complaining."
There it is again, the suggestion that Johnny has feelings for him. Mere coincidence, or something more? There is a way to find out, by coming clean, and Peter throws caution aside. He smiles back, and even though his heart is racing, he leaps without knowing if he's going to end up pancaked on the pavement.
"I just declared my eternal love! What more do you want for this moment to be perfect?"
Johnny is scanning Peter's face, trying to gauge if they're still at friendly banter or have reached another level.
"Well, you did kiss me, there's that," he says, cautiously.
Peter sees Johnny's eyes fall to his lips and a shiver of anticipation travels down his spine. He's surer of himself by the second, and it makes him bolder.
Johnny takes Peter's hand and brings it level with his mouth. The moment is like being in free-fall.
"I owe you one, then," he says, never breaking eye contact as he presses a light kiss to a particularly nasty bruise on Peter's wrist, right above his pulse point. It makes Peter's insides flip, and he wonders if Johnny can feel the rush of blood under his lips.
"Kissing the hurt away?" Peter is surprised his voice doesn't crack. "Nice."
Visibly, Johnny's finding his footing too, because he's smiling wide now, and his blue eyes are playful.
"Uh huh," he says, following his first kiss by a second, on a bruise higher on Peter's arm. "Does it help?"
"Seems like it," Peter says, breath coming faster as Johnny trails more kisses up his arm. "It would be a shame to stop."
"I have no intention of stopping," Johnny murmurs. He's at Peter's shoulder now, and the light kisses have morphed into more heated ones. He drags his lower lip on Peter's skin in a way that is sure to make him lose his mind.
"Good, that's good," Peter babbles. He comes a hair breath away from moaning when Johnny mouths at his collarbone. He's going to die, his heart can't take this.
"Were you punched in the face?" Johnny asks as he kisses Peter's neck.
Answering questions is beyond what Peter's brain can do, at this point. He's totally entranced and going where the irresistible force of Johnny is taking him. Peter obligingly turns to look at Johnny when fingers close in the hair at the back of his neck and position him just so.
"Because if you got socked in the mouth, I'll need to kiss it, too," Johnny says, eyes zoomed on Peter's lips. He unconsciously licks his own and Peter wants it so much he hurts. It's like his lungs have seized, and all he can do is nod.
He doesn't remember being punched in the mouth, but it's not important. What will be seared in his mind forever is the intensity of their first kiss, the way the world shrinks until it's just them. Peter doesn't realize he's climbed on Johnny's lap until an arm circles his waist and pulls him even closer. Unfortunately the movement jars his healing ribs, and Peter's breath hitches in pain.
"Sorry, sorry," Johnny says against his lips.
"Ow. But it's okay. Why are you stopping?" He tries to lean back for another kiss but Johnny has turned to mouth at his shoulder again. He's also running a warm hand up and down Peter's back, soothing.
"You're hurt. I don't want to make it worse."
"Oh my God," Peter says. He takes Johnny's face between his hands and kisses him again, deep and wet, putting into it all of his pent-on longing and desperation. He only stops because he's getting light-headed with the lack of oxygen, and rests his forehead on Johnny's. "You make everything better, always. Why do you think I couldn't risk hanging out? It's impossible to not feel better when you're there, even if it drives me completely nuts."
"So you were avoiding me!" Johnny exclaims. "Because I made you feel good? What the hell is that logic, Parker?"
He's frowning, between hurt and confused, and Peter kisses the little grove between his perfect eyebrows.
"I thought my feelings were unrequited," he says softly, closing his arms around Johnny's wide shoulders, endeared when Johnny hides his face in his neck, trusting. He scratches at the hair at the base of Johnny's skull and likes how he relaxes into his hand. "I didn't like not seeing you! There was much angsting, really. I now see the errors of my ways."
"I sure hope so," Johnny says gruffly, breath puffing hotly against Peter's jugular. "Did I stop hanging out with you when I realized I loved you years ago? No. Did it suck that you only saw me as a friend? Yeah. But I liked spending time with you anyway."
"Years!" Peter exclaims, aghast. He leans back because he needs to see Johnny's face for this. "Why didn't you say anything?"
Johnny shrugs. "You were with Mary-Jane at the time. And then you two were on and off again, and I never felt any interest from you, so. Bad timing, I guess."
"B-but- the girls, all the girls!" He was so sure Johnny was straight.
That stupid remark earns him a raised eyebrow. "I could say the same! I've never heard you talk about guys before."
Peter rolls his eyes. "Please. How many times did you tell me to shut up about Tony Stark?"
Johnny laughs. "That was at least 80% science boner talk. And everyone knows that Tony Stark doesn't count."
"You've got a point," Peter admits.
"Anyway, I don't care. I like you a lot, Peter Parker," Johnny says, earnest and smiling. Peter would like to find someone who wouldn't melt at that, no superpower needed.
"Me, too." And it's probably been right there under his nose for way longer that Peter even consciously realized.
"How about you get out of the rest of that suit, take a shower while I reheat something for you to eat, and then we'll make out for a bit?"
That sounds absolutely fantastic, and there is nothing Peter wants more. It's fun to nag Johnny a little before they get to that, though.
"It depends," Peter says. "Will I have to watch more God-awful videos?"
Johnny rolls his eyes. "Pete, get over it. It was over five songs ago."
"It's seared into my eyes!" Peter says dramatically, the back of his hand to his forehead. "I don't know if I will ever recover!"
"Don't worry about that, Bug," Johnny says, a devilish smirk on his face. "If I do it right, and I generally have no complaints, what's on TV won't even register."
"That good, huh?" Frankly, Peter doesn't even doubt it. "Okay, then, challenge accepted."
They kiss to seal the deal and for a second Peter is, indeed, totally distracted. He has a feeling that kissing Johnny Storm will never be short of exhilarating.
"I've got to go. Caterpillar goo and shit," Peter mumbles as he pulls away. He needs to soak the gloves, at least.
"You make no sense," Johnny says fondly, carding fingers in Peter's hair. "Go, so you can come back. Any request from your fridge?"
"Pretty sure there isn't much, thinking about it," Peter says. He shrugs. "Whatever isn't moving or sentient."
It makes Johnny scrunch up his nose in disgust, and Peter laughs and kisses the tip before getting up. Leaving Johnny sprawled on his couch and willing to make out is hard, but it's for the cause. He has plans to come back, after all.
Peter's in the bathroom taking off the suit bottom when Johnny appears, leaning on the doorframe. There's some appreciative ogling, which make Peter blush in a mix of shyness and excitement, but no lewd suggestion to join him or wash his back. In fact, Johnny looks preoccupied.
"Earlier, you said it had been a bad day. Is it just the beating? Or do you want to talk about it?"
"Look at you, all serious and solicitous," Peter says with a fondness so great, it's like his heart grows three sizes.
"Not bad, huh?" Johnny says, smiling. "But for real, are you okay?"
"I'm great. A little banged up, but it's going to be fine."
Johnny nods. "Good, good."
He's leaving to go back to the kitchen when Peter takes a snap decision.
"Join me?" he asks.
Johnny turns around and starts stripping immediately. "Thank god, I thought you'd never ask!"
Peter laughs and turns on the water, slipping into the shower. A handful of seconds later he has a completely naked Johnny Storm crowding him under the spray. It's glorious, enough to make a poor spider-dude have a heart attack, especially when he's kissed breathless.
"God, Pete. I want you so much," Johnny declares, and it sends shivers down Peter's spine.
"Same. You've been driving me nuts," Peter says.
The kisses turn into caresses; Peter's unable to stop from pawing everywhere he can reach, marveling at Johnny's physique.
"If I wasn't hurt, I'd climb you like a tree," Peter says, grabbing his ass by the handful.
Johnny curses vehemently. "Jesus. I sure hope you heal real fast, because there's so much I want to do with you."
"Can't wait." He moans when Johnny closes a hand around their erections. "Oh, God. Yes. Fuck, that's good."
Johnny's hand is unnaturally warm, more so than it was even moments ago. When Peter clicks that Johnny's actually using his powers to intentionally make the hand job better, it rockets Peter's arousal through the roof.
"You gonna come for me baby?" Johnny murmurs as he jacks them off, fast, unrelenting and absolutely mind blowing. "Come on, I've got you."
The tidal wave of his orgasm is irresistible, and Peter lets go, letting it overcome everything else. The pleasure is bright and strong, so much that it makes Peter's knees buckle. Johnny is there to catch him, though, cooing about how beautiful he is, and how he's wanted this for so long. He's close, too, and when Peter puts his own hand on Johnny's, to help at least a bit, it takes only a couple of strokes before he's following Peter over the edge. A wet Johnny Storm in the throes of orgasm is, without a doubt, the most beautiful thing that Peter has ever seen.
"You know what?" Peter says a moment later, licking the water in the dip over Johnny's collarbone. "I've changed my mind. This is a very, very good day. The best day ever."
Johnny's smile is like the sun. "I have to agree with you on that."