When Peter Parker was six he was tested and found to be nothing but human. He was neither preternatural – nor supernatural. Just human.
His parents weren’t really surprised since the altered gene didn’t run in their families. Now and then it would crop up in lines formerly completely untouched, which baffled researchers, and then would die down again.
In a world where under five percent of the population was supernaturally gifted – able to shapeshift – and just about the same percent were preternatural – gifted with an extraordinary ability that didn't involve shapeshifting -- being human was normal.
A third kind had cropped up over time: people who had altered their physiology due to experimentation, an accident or technological additions.
They were called mutants.
Supernaturals kept to themselves. They were mainly shifters like wolves and foxes. They ran in packs or families. The military was always interested in the wolves, even if the pack mentality was a weakness. Many were soldiers, officers of the law, worked in security, and went into jobs that suited their sometimes primal nature. It wasn’t uncommon for those with a predator alternate form to be found at the frontlines.
Winged or waterbound shifters were unheard of. They were true myths, and while history had artistic renderings of such supernaturals, no one had either heard of or seen them in the past five centuries. Anyone able to present wings or turn into a waterbound creature was usually the result of human experiments or technological help. A mutant, not a preter or super.
Preternaturals didn’t out themselves as different to the general population and it wasn’t part of an employment record. Some were faster or stronger, had better reflexes, lived longer, had heightened senses. Some had mathematical abilities that surpassed the best computer. Some didn’t need any sleep.
The world was aware of them as more than myths and legends, though the rarity of some kept them just that: myths.
Research into the difference to a regular human bordered on ethically dubious and human experimentation had made the news again and again. Secret labs used human guinea pigs, some of them children, some of them homeless or desperate individuals, some even terminally ill, to get closer to the secret of what enabled someone to shape-shift.
Weapon X was just one of those many labs that had come into secret existence, that answered to dubious commanders and worked under the radar. They were like civilian contractors, but so much more.
They had order sheets. They had expectations to meet.
The lab was one of those who had had results in the past. Their history was filled with blood and screams; and countless deaths.
Peter became more than human when that radioactive spider bit him. He became a mutant.
His life became more complicated, too.
He had to relearn his body. He had to work on controlling his sharper senses, his enhanced reflexes, his speed.
Being able to stick to a surface was scary at first, but he got a hang of it. He managed to go on with his life, despite tragedy, loss and pain, and he became Spider-Man.
He was still human. He hadn't been born with a different set of DNA. And yet, he was a preternatural of sorts. No shapeshifting, just abilities and some altered physical traits.
Of course he caught the interest of others, mostly the Avengers when they set up their headquarters in New York after the infamous alien invasion attempt, but they more or less left him alone.
Part of Peter wanted to be an Avenger. Another part was happy with being his own boss, with being anonymous and doing what he thought was right. He caught the small criminals, now and then put down a lunatic or two, and left the big fish to the professionals.
Yeah, that sounded about right.
He was broke half of the time, but it was his own life.
His aunt didn’t know about his changes.
No one did.
Those who had… had died. Gwen had been the first victim of his bumbling along in his new life.
Peter had stopped trying to make both worlds work after that. He had to keep his family and friends safe.
He was Spider-Man and his identity remained a secret. He was Peter Parker, struggling to make ends meet, and he was about to graduate.
Wade Wilson was born a preternaturally gifted human. He had had heightened senses from an early age, he was always faster, more agile, tenacious and had insanely fast reactions.
His parents never had him tested.
There was no interest there.
And neither of them had been preternatural as far as Wade was concerned. His mother had passed away early from cancer and his father continued to drink himself into a stupor.
He was classified when he entered the military. The recruiters were rather ecstatic when the results came back: Cerberus. Hellhound.
It earned him a place in Special Forces.
And no, he was neither hellish, nor did he have any hound features. No shapeshifting needed. He just belonged to the category of preternaturals who suffered under the misnomers of their gift.
Hellhounds were good hunters and killers, but primarily protectors. Guardians. Like the creature myth had taken the name from: the Cerberus. Very intelligent, very resourceful, and very sharp. They healed fast, were resilient, and when a handler could create a bond to the hellhound, he had a preternatural willing to die for his cause, shaped into the perfect killer.
Wade became an extremely adept assassin.
He excelled as a sharpshooter, as an infiltrator.
He was one of the best.
He was a pain in his superiors’ asses, he talked back, he had opinions, he didn’t knuckle down. He had an opinion and he wasn’t afraid to let a superior officer know about it.
But he was the best.
He worked best alone. While he trusted his handlers to a degree, he never felt the need to connect to them on a more permanent basis.
Hellhounds could connect to another person, a handler or a partner. They could give everything to one individual, hand over their soul, trust one person absolutely. With the connection came a closer bond, one that wasn’t always platonic, but it wasn’t unusual for a hellhound to be happily married and otherwise connected to a third party.
Wade had never found that one person.
His handlers, while capable individuals, rubbed him wrong. He did his job; end of story.
Until he was diagnosed with cancer and kicked out.
Weapon X made use of that.
All of it.
They offered him a cure for his cancer and took everything else in exchange.
They shaped him to fit what they wanted him to be: a mindless slave, an operative used to fulfill a mission, then stand down until he was of use again.
They shot him full of experimental drugs that changed his very DNA. Wade had no idea at the time what exactly they were doing to him on a molecular level. He had no idea that they were applying DNA from the supernatural and preternatural, fusing it with his own, adding or detracting as if they were cooking up the perfect meal.
He became faster, stronger, surpassing his already high scores easily. His senses sharpened.
They accelerated his already present healing factor to the point where it beat his cancer – but it turned him into a scarred freak.
They made him immortal.
They made him a monster.
They gave him a partner, a possible handler, forced an anchor bond on him.
And then broke it.
Wade had never felt such pain until the moment they killed his handler, then him. The primal, twisted thing the hellhound had become screamed out its pain, roaring to life to kill those who had taken what was his, then they blew his brains out.
He dropped toward the abyss, clinging to the edge with a strength born out of desperation, fighting to come back.
And Wade woke up, with a hole in his mind that had nothing to do with the bullet that had torn through it. It was deep down in his soul, and the knowledge that he could never bond again.
Nor would he ever die.
Because hellhounds anchored to one human being they had sworn eternal loyalty to would die if that person perished.
Wade had died and he had come back. His preternatural side had stayed dead. It had become ash and rotting bones inside a soul that had been torn apart by the loss and pain.
He couldn't die.
He would always resurrect and the acidic burn of the dark space inside him would always be there.
It consumed the person, the identity of Wade Wilson.
He was Deadpool now and he was unstoppable. He was soulless.
Weapon X had made a mistake and they knew it the moment the thing they had created killed whoever got in his way as he fought his way out of the lab that had created him.
Sure, he died in the wreckage as the whole thing exploded, but he couldn't stay dead, right?
Deadpool proceeded to hunt down and kill those responsible.
He was relentless, cold, and calculating. He didn’t stop until the last of them was a smear of brain matter against the wall.
Still, it wasn’t enough.
It was a purpose, sure. He loved having a purpose. But it wasn't enough.
It would never be enough.
Inside him, there was this numb place, bled out and dead. It was a death he hadn't resurrected from.
He never would.
His preternatural core had changed beyond recognition.
Not just the physical aspects, the stomach-turning scars.
He was beyond classification, an amalgamation of traits that formed a grotesque thing, a hunter and killer, an assassin. He was a mercenary and he took life without thought.
Point him in the right direction and he did the job.
It paid well. Really well.
He still couldn’t shape-shift, but the vicious thing that clawed through the ashes and gnawed on the blackened bones inside was a far cry from what Deadpool had once been.
When he had still been just Wade Wilson, mouthy sharpshooter and Special Forces.
He used the darkness, the cold-blooded thing that slithered around his mind, and he turned it into a weapon.
It was him. Deadpool.
Insane. Crazy. Totally off the rocker. Erratic.
And annoying as shit.
New York was just another city with another contract to fulfill.
Deadpool was still the best at what he did.
No one saw him coming and if they did, they had no idea what to do with him. He was unpredictable. He was lethal. He would make a kill once he took a contract.
The mercenary business paid royally and sometimes even the goody two-shoes organizations like SHIELD contracted him. Totally under the radar, hush-hush and behind closed doors, with threats and all.
Deadpool didn’t mind where the money came from. It was never boring in his line of work, even if he had to dodge the occasional bullet, even from SHIELD now and then, or dig it out of his immortal body.
Then New York became the most interesting place on God's green earth.
Deadpool met Spider-Man.
Well, he saw him swing by and something clicked.
Something that hadn't clicked in too long and that set off an avalanche.
The twisted thing inside him sat up and took notice. Milky white eyes narrowed, became glacial with an added glint, and long fangs were bared in a snarl.
Yes, Spider-Man had caught his interest on a basic, rather primal level.
It should have been a warning, but Deadpool was really bad at listening to warnings.
Extremely adept at not listening to them.
He wouldn't call what he did next stalking per se. It was more of an observation.
A continuous, intense observation.
That became fascination.
And something else.
For the first time in too long did emotions creep in and make a mess of his already messed-up mind.
The nightmarish thing inside him hummed in agreement at his observation. Spider-Man was interesting and he wanted more of him.
Peter wasn't sure when he acquired a fan in the shape of a renowned mercenary who was called, among other things, insane. It was also one of the nicer things Deadpool was called.
He couldn't explain why he let the other man tag along.
He was erratic. Crazy. Insane.
“Hey, I’m not crazy,” Deadpool had once told him, drawing a crude looking picture with crayons that was probably meant to resemble him and Spider-Man. “My reality is just different from yours.”
And that was about the most exact description for it.
Deadpool radiated danger like no one else he had ever met, but then his whole demeanor would abruptly change to that of an overgrown puppy and he was spouting nonsense, was playful, rescued cats from trees and held open doors for little old ladies.
Teaming up on occasion had its perks and Peter had to admire the sleek fighting style, the way the other man handled himself, though the rational part of him pointed out the finer details.
Like the katanas.
The love for explosives and all things weapon-related.
Disarming Deadpool was like trying to empty a TARDIS. He was a bottomless pit of weapons.
So he set up ground rules that Deadpool whined and bitched about, but he followed them. As long as he didn't kill anyone, Peter was fine with having back-up, and that all by itself should have been a warning sign.
It should have set off an even bigger alarm when sharing Mexican food on rooftops became a regular event.
And he should really have packed up and left when not meeting up with Deadpool on their roof top had him feel slightly worried, downright disappointed.
Maybe there was a spider-sense warning, but he didn't hear it.
Only once did his senses alert him, and that had been the first time they had run into each other. After that, nothing at all. His senses didn’t pick up any ill intent, any murderous actions, when it came to Deadpool interacting with him.
Peter Parker was a bright young man, but in this instance he was suddenly struck with stupidity.
Deadpool had become part of his life as the protector of New York City's streets.
Yes, it should have been a clue-by-four, but apparently it was one of Peter's and Spider-Man's denser moments in life.
Deadpool; loud, rude, crass, more than a little off kilter sometimes and way off mostly. The Merc with a Mouth.
“If you can’t baffle them with your brilliance, blow them away with your bullshit,” the man proclaimed one day. “Motto of the millennium!”
He made Peter laugh, forget about the mess his life was, between trying to survive and trying to make ends meet. Between being Spider-Man and Peter Parker.
Deadpool had become something of an anchor in his crazy life. Because Deadpool's crazy counterbalanced his own whirling vortex of a life, and between them… it was normalcy.
It was the calm center of a storm raging all around them.
It should be scary, but to Peter it had become something he was looking forward to.