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Happenstance

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Peter just wants lunch.

It’s been a long day, and he’s more than a little hungry. He’s eyes feel gummy and he hasn’t slept in a while-that web formula won’t perfect itself!-and to be perfectly frank, coffee and a sandwich sounds completely perfect to him. That’s why he’s standing in line at a Dunkin Donuts-Peter hates Starbucks, and couldn’t afford it even if he didn’t-at 11 pm on a Friday, clad in the same shirt he was wearing yesterday and a pair of sweatpants with one leg rolled up.

Overall he probably looks like a mess, unwashed bedhead and all, but he doesn't much care. He has to patrol tonight and doesn’t intend to waste any energy giving a fuck about something as meaningless as basic personal hygiene and courtesy. Such is the life of Spider-Man.

“Large, yeah,” he clarifies to the struggling woman at the counter. She’s young-probably barely 18, Peter can remember those days-and freckled and panicked, her messy, sandy blond hair split at every end and her lip held hostage by her overbite, which is in turn kept in line by sky blue braces that make her look a little like a kid out of a 90’s cartoon.

“Um, you said you wanted the, uh, grilled cheese? With ham, or…?”

“Ham is fine,” Peter agrees. He’s trying his best to be gentle with her-if it’s not her first day on the job, he’ll eat his shoe-but he also isn’t really cataloging anything that she’s saying, his thoughts blurry and half-there.

She barks out his total a little loudly. The place isn’t crowded, thankfully, so nobody notices when Peter drops his wallet with a muffled curse. There are only a few other people; an elderly couple, two teenagers on macbooks sitting at a booth in the corner, and some huge guy in a dark hoodie perusing the coffee beans. The man in the hoodie is wearing a pair of abrasively pink crocs over Nike tube socks, which Peter’s eyes were drawn to the moment he walked into the store.

Peter gives an embarrassed apology as he pulls out his debit card and hands it to the young woman at the register. She, equally flustered and only fueling their mutually accumulated nervous atmosphere, tells him it’s nothing and scans his card.

Peter does not get his coffee or his sandwich before somebody tries to rob the place.

It’s like crime FOLLOWS him. Peter knows that this sort of thing isn’t uncommon by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s possessed by the notion that trouble is hot on his heels at every hour of every day like a thirsty bloodhound seeking out the nearest do-gooder to abuse. His Spidey sense gives him only a few seconds warning before a man in a long, dark overcoat-Peter should have known-yanks a Glock 30 from his pocket and screams at the cashier.

She reacts only minimally, seeming almost underwhelmed for a moment as she processes what’s happening, before she throws both her hands up and looks nervous at Peter like he’s supposed to do something about this.

Maybe she’s psychic, Peter thinks dumbly. Or maybe he’s just one of the calmer people in the building right now and THAT’S why she’s looking at him like he might have a plan, because one of the two elderly folks seems to be having a conniption, and both of the teenagers in the corner are absolutely shrieking.

The man by the coffee beans does not even bother to look up. Peter gives him a respectful nod, even as he’s slowly raising his hands.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much he can do in this situation. He doesn't have his Spidey suit on him, and even if he did, his web shooters aren’t loaded and it’s not like he’d have time to change into it. He’ll intervene if things get violent, but for the moment he has to play the part of frightened bystander, as frustrating as that might be.

“Hands up!” the man with the gun shouts, as men with guns are often inclined to do. He’s wearing sunglasses, probably to protect his identity. They look old, The Matrix Reloaded era, the rectangular ones Keanu Reeves’ character wore. What was his name again?

“My hands are up! My hands are up!” the girl at the counter cries. Behind her, another employee stomps out from the kitchen, observes the situation, turns around, and walks hurriedly back from whence he came.

Neo. Right, his name was Neo.

Peter hates robberies. Petty ones, especially. Who the hell robs a Dunkin Donuts at gunpoint? What’s he gonna get, a hundred bucks and raspberry filling? Peter is righteously surly about the current state of affairs. He’s still hungry, and his sandwich is JUST behind that counter, and now he can’t have it because this guy wants his goddamn two dollars.

“You, put the money in the bag!:

It’s a plastic Wal-Mart shopping bag. Peter would laugh if this weren’t a legitimately life threatening situation. The girl at the counter glances at him again, and she’s crying, and then he feels bad for being sort of callous, but it’s hard to be shocked by every single robbery he encounters when he’s been Spider-Man for a great number of years and he sees far worse almost daily.

He does his best to look sympathetic, but he has no idea what kind of expression would count as sympathetic, so it just comes off as kind of a sad shrug. She opens the register with shaking hands, and-

Then she tries to grab the gun.

Peter almost shits himself.

So does the robber.

There’s a lot of screaming, and damn, that teenager has guts, because she grabs the barrel of the gun with both hands and points it away from her head, the man dropping the bag-which floats airily down to the ground, as plastic shopping bags are known to do-and wrestling with her.

The gun fires and she screams. Peter figures now is the time to intervene, but only manages to take one wary step forward before the gun-toting fuckhead at the counter notices him, and then he has to stop, too far away to lunge and catch him, but too close to escape his notice. He could get her killed if he jumps into the fray, and he could get her killed by not jumping in.

Peter only knows that the hoodie-man perusing the coffee has finally taken notice because his Spidey-sense makes him rather sensitive to small noises, aka the squeak of crocs as he turns around to face the chaos.

Peter is about to lunge forward when the robber punches the girl square in the jaw. She goes down like a sack of potatoes and Peter is immediately fucking furious.

Holy Cannoli,” crocs-n-socks says loudly. It’s rather surreal. If Peter wasn't so mad about that poor cashier, he’d turn around and acknowledge the exclamation.

The robber, now wild eyed and panicked, his shades skewed, teeth bared, and damn, that’s meth mouth if Peter’s ever seen it, turns the gun on Peter.

No, not on Peter. Just to the left of Peter, on crocs-n-socks.

Fuck Peter Benjamin Parker’s actual entire life.

It seems to happen in slow motion, Peter’s Spidey-sense giving him clarity in the moment. The man seems to pull back on the trigger for years, hammer cocked, eyes wild, the plastic bag ghosting at his feet like an affectionate housecat, the two teenagers at the booth somehow increasing in volume. Peter has long since gone whole hog on the whole do-gooder thing, so he might as well take a bullet for a total stranger. Wouldn’t be the first time.

That's how he gets shot.

He lunges to the side just enough to catch a bullet for crocs-n-socks, and manages to snag it in a non-vital part of his body. His upper right shoulder, to be exact. An eruption of pain explodes there and his feet slip out from under him.

He lands on the tile with a thud, hoping the bullet didn’t go right through him and kill crocs-n-socks anyway, because wouldn’t THAT just be the kicker.

His eyes squeeze shut and his hand clamps tightly over the wound, trying to stem the bloodflow as he crumples in on himself. Getting shot never starts to suck less, does it? It always sucks the same amount.

When he opens his eyes, though, crocs-n-socks has leapt over him towards the gunman. Peter shouts after him before the gunman unloads three more rounds into his torso. Peter watches in slightly offended horror as crocs-n-socks wastes his perfectly good deed, blood exploding from his back as the bullets go right through him. More ambient shrieking from the teenagers at the booth ensues.

Then crocs-n-socks smacks the pistol out of discount Keanu Reeves’ hand like an ice cream cone from a child’s fat fist, spins him around, and places both hands on either side of his face. Then he breaks his neck with such efficient and brutal savagery that Peter almost screams, the man’s head bent around like this is The Exorcist and he’s about to spew pea soup, the bones of his neck poking strangely through his skin, dirty hair hanging around the two powerful hands that killed him.

At this point, Peter is fairly certain that he’s entered the Twilight Zone. He contemplates this for about two and a half seconds before crocs-n-socks turns towards him fully, hood flopping down. He’s wearing a mask. Peter recognizes him in spite of this, or, more accurately, because of it. The corpse of The Matrix Reloaded falls to the ground in a crumpled heap like a marionette with its strings cut.

“Hoo-boy, that was one hell of a shootout!” the masked man shouts, jumping into the air and clicking his heels together in an expression of pure murderous jubilance. “Pow-pow! Put ‘em up, cowboy!” he shouts, pointing finger guns at Peter, who is bleeding profusely onto the ground, the grin in his voice so giddy and guileless it makes Peter's head spin. “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.”

It’s Deadpool. Of course it’s Deadpool. Why the hell wouldn’t it be Deadpool?

Peter Parker, you dumb son of a bitch.

Peter passes out. He thinks he’s earned it.