After a few days, things have settled down a bit. Not that Wade even knew Peter was unsettled, or at least, he didn’t say anything. Again, Peter is surprised by how easy it was to slip back into what he can only describe as domestic bliss. In the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday, Tony calls him. He only answers because he is between classes with nothing else to do. He certainly doesn’t feel like talking about his friendship with Wade, even though everyone else seems to find it so interesting.
“How’s my favorite New York City bug?” Tony asks, and Peter has to resist the urge to laugh.
“I’m fine.” Peter says. “Overworked, stressed, underpaid- not that I’m asking for a raise. I mean, you pay above minimum wage, it’s just...I’m not only working for you…”
“Why don’t you quit and pick up more hours at Stark Industries, or something else?”
“Because working at the Bugle helps me control my reputation.” Peter says.
“It does? Really?” Tony doesn’t sound convinced and Peter can’t really blame him for that. “Well...what if I had an offer that would help your reputation?”
“Do you?” Peter asks.
“Yes. No use beating around the bush, you know I want you on the Avengers.” Tony says. “You won’t exactly get paid, but you will get a card hooked to the expense account and a room at the manor, rent free.”
“That...sounds amazing.” Peter admits. “I can’t leave Wade hanging like that. He can’t pay both halves of the rent on that apartment anymore.”
“Anymore?” Tony asks. Even though he swears up and down that he doesn’t view himself as a father figure for Peter, his tone says otherwise.
“I...plead the fifth…” Peter says. “Look, that’s not the point. I can’t uproot and just go anymore. I have a life now, I… I have responsibilities.”
“You have a boyfriend.”
“No!” Peter hears how high pitched his voice gets. “No, oh my god. Wade is not my boyfriend, why does everyone think he is?”
“Because you say things like ‘I have a life now, I can’t just leave everything behind’.” Tony says. “Look, I’m not asking for a decision today. Just...now you know the offer stands.”
“I’ll think about it.” Peter says, and then they hang up. Peter thinks about it for a total of six seconds, most of which are used up on thinking about Wade.
Just as he is leaving one of the classes they don’t share, Peter spots Johnny heading towards him with an introspective look. “I really don’t think I can do another serious talk today.” Peter says when Johnny is within earshot. “Definitely not if it’s about Wade.”
“It’s not.” Johnny says, and then he pops the hem of Peter’s long sleeve against his wrist. “What’s up? All summer, man. I didn’t ask, but I can’t stand it anymore.”
“Oh.” Peter says, and then sighs. “Right, I just… I maybe, possibly haven’t told Wade about it.”
“You what?” Johnny asks, looking a little shocked. “Peter, it’s been almost a year!”
“I know! I know that. You think I don’t know I’ve made a mistake and backed myself into a corner?” Peter says. “Now do you see why the whole crush thing is such a…thing?”
“Yeah.” Johnny says, nodding. “Yeah, you can’t start a relationship founded on secrets. Why are you hiding it anyway? Your scars are nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I don’t know!” Peter says. “I didn’t know if things were going to get serious enough, I didn’t know he’d stay long enough for things to get serious enough… I kept putting off telling him and now it’s too late. He’ll think I don’t trust him.”
“No he won’t.” Johnny says. “Who in the world could possibly understand more?”
Peter sighs. “I just…”
“Don’t hide because you think you don’t deserve what you want.” Johnny says. “I don’t think there is a reason. I think you’re self-sabotaging.”
“That’s deep.” Peter says. “I don’t know. Maybe you’re right.”
“I’m always right…” Johnny says. “Oh, unrelated note: your aunt wants you and Wade to come over for dinner with the rest of us. I mean...we’re all gonna go whether you do or not because she’s an amazing cook and we’re all starving college students.”
“Johnny you’re a Fantastic Four. You want me to believe they don’t feed you over there?”
“They don’t know me like May knows me.” Johnny says.
“That’s not creepy at all.” Peter says.
Peter tries to get to his aunt’s place early, so that MJ doesn’t have time to start the gossip up...unfortunately, MJ is unbeatable. “Heeey, Peter!” She says with a giant grin on her face when he walks into the kitchen. May wouldn’t tell her, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t pick it up out of context clues anyway...MJ is like that. “Wade.” she nods at him when he comes in behind Peter.
“You can’t just drop a dinner party on someone in the middle of the day… I almost burned the apartment down trying to get these done in time.” Wade says, setting a tupperware full of chocolate chip cookies on the counter.
“Oh, that’s so sweet… you didn’t have to bring anything.” May says, and Wade huffs like it should be obvious that yes, he did have to. Peter’s mind is drawn back to a thought he has had before and continues to have, that Wade would be a pretty good boyfriend to bring home to meet the folks. Apparently he was right about that...since his whole little self-made family seems to be rooting for them to get together, some more forcefully than others.
After a little while, May shoos them all out of the kitchen except Wade, because the chefs need space. “I think he warmed up to her faster than I did.” MJ says. “He’s practically part of the family.”
“I know…” Peter says. He doesn’t feel right talking about Wade, since gossip hasn’t been kind to him in the past...but all he wants to talk about is Wade. Hell, all he thinks about is Wade. “It’s been almost a year and that’s so...wild.”
“You guys doing anything for the anniversary?” She asks. “Any special plans?”
“I don’t know if he does.” Peter says. “He’s really serious about Christmas, though, so I’m sure that comes first.”
“Follow-up: what are you getting him for Christmas?” She asks. Peter fumbles for an answer, because he hasn’t thought about it. Because it’s only August.
For some reason (because his brain hates him), lingerie crosses his mind. He doesn’t even suss out the details of who would be wearing it before his face turns tomato red and he has to count back from ten in his head. “Uh, n-no.” He says, and clears his throat. “I hadn’t-hadn’t given it much thought, actually.”
“Uh huh, sure.” She says, seeming completely unconvinced. She lets it go, which Peter will be forever thankful for.
Dinner is served after Johnny and Gwen arrive a little while later. Johnny, as always, gets showered in affection by May. She always said he never got enough of that at home, and that’s why his personality is so...Johnny. Wade has somehow found a “kiss the cook” apron, totally by accident, and it not a set-up by May or MJ at all. It’s weird- good weird -to Peter, seeing Wade be as at ease in a group of people as he is when it’s just him and Peter. MJ kicks Peter under the table, because he’s staring.
“This has got to be...like literally, the best mac and cheese in the world.” Johnny says after a single bite. “I know I say that every time, but...seriously.”
Wade, who has a mouth full of sloppy joe, nods in agreement. There’s sauce running down his hands, and while Wade has never really been a neat eater, this is him in rare form. Comfortable. Completely and utterly at home. Looking at him, he realizes the answer to the question Tony asked him at lunch. He wouldn’t trade this moment for the biggest, most luxurious suite in the Avengers Manor.
He goes out on the porch to deliver that news as soon as dinner is done and everyone has settled in to dunk cookies into milk at the table. The phone rings a few times and he starts to feel the bite of winter’s approach in the wind before Tony answers. “I’ve made up my mind.” He says.
“Oh, wow. That fast?” Tony says.
“I hope you didn’t set up another press thing.” Peter says, and Tony sighs. “I just can’t right now. I’ve got too much life going on and...it’s good. It’s really good. I feel better about where I am right now than I have in, well ever.”
“I’m glad, Peter.” Tony says. “I want you in the Avengers, of course, but if you’re happy...I’m happy for you.”
Peter doesn’t voice his skepticism on that. Tony has never made his dislike or distrust of Wade a secret, and now he thinks Peter might be dating the guy he openly distrusts and dislikes. “Thanks. I’m glad you understand.”
“Goodnight, Peter.” Tony says, and hangs up.
Wade claps him on the shoulder just as he hangs up. “Understand what?” he asks with a mouthful of cookie. “Sorry, didn’t mean to overhear.”
“Stark made another offer, asked me to join the Avengers.” Peter says.
“What?” Wade gasps. “Congratulations, man, thats-”
“I said no...again.” Peter says, and then he continues because Wade looks dumbfounded. “I’m enjoying this duo- sometimes trio with Daredevil -thing we have going on. I don’t need a fancy room in a mansion with a bunch of people I don’t really know, or complex equipment, or... any of that. I’m-I’m happy right here.” With you, he thinks, but doesn’t say.
Wade gets an odd, thoughtful look on his face and then stares up at the sky for a minute. Peter’s eyes never leave Wade’s face. “I’m pretty happy too, honestly.” Wade says. “I mean, I have days that I think I’ll probably always have, but...yeah.”
Peter feels himself grinning, and Wade blushes when he looks back down at Peter and finds him staring and smiling...again. He feels Wade’s hand slide up his shoulder ever so slightly until Wade’s thumb brushes his neck and he shivers. “Wade…” Peter’s voice is hushed, but the other man drops his hand and averts his eyes.
“Sorry...uh…” He coughs awkwardly. “We should- we should go back inside and help with the dishes.” He doesn’t wait around for Peter before going back inside.
“What the fuck just happened?” Peter whispers quietly to himself.
He follows after a few minutes and finds Wade and his aunt washing dishes in silence, which she is too polite to feel off-put by. “Why don’t you let us take care of it, May?” He asks, feeling a little bad that he’s not just asking out of the kindness of his heart. She nods and lets him take over.
Wade is clearly on edge. Even more so now that he is alone in a room with Peter. Pete wants to tell him everything, wants to tell him about how he feels and how he was going to let Wade kiss him...but his heart breaks for the terror in Wade’s eyes when the other man finally meets his gaze. He’s scared that he fucked something up. Peter can’t pile on now. Wade deserves to feel happy and secure.
“Speaking of our sometimes trio.” Peter says. “When I was turning in the photos of our team-up to Jameson, I might have given us a name...which he ran with. We’re a very menacing Red Team…”
Wade stops scrubbing the plate he’s holding. “That’s…creative.”
Peter laughs. “I know, I know, but he put me on the spot. I had to come up with something.”
“You are a huge dork, Peter Parker.” Wade says, and the smile on his face when he shakes his head makes Peter relax.
Happy, comfortable. No matter what happens, this is his life now.