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Jailbird Blues

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When Peter comes to, his cheek is pressed against cold metal. His legs are sprawled in someone’s lap. Damp, gloved hands rub at his ankles. A headache screams behind his sore eyes. He’s sore all over.

“What did I do to deserve this?”

When he tries to recall the past few hours, tries to conjure up the events that led to this full body aching, Peter draws a blank. There’s nothing but fuzziness where his memories should be.

“Hey, I think he’s waking up.” A red mask swims into view, far, far too close to Peter’s face. “Good morning, sunshine! The Earth says hello!”

Peter shrieks a little and scrambles backward, pulling his legs out of the person’s lap and falling off the metal cot in the process.

“Snookums, cupcake—is that any way to treat your one-night stand? You said you’d respect me in the morning.”

Peter heave himself up, hands braced against the wall, his shaky legs wobbling under his own weight. He almost falls right back down, because he’s beginning to really wake up now, sluggish thoughts giving way to a horrified kind of understanding because—

Because Deadpool is sat on the single, metal bed. Wade Wilson, legs crossed delicately, hands intertwined over one knee, suit damp and cut up in areas, all his attention focussed on Peter.

And, and— “One night stand?”

Wade gasps. “You don’t remember our night of passionate, sweaty monkey sex? The confessions of love whispered tenderly into each others skin? Oh, Spidey—”

Peter rolls his eyes; he knows better than to take Wade’s teasing seriously.

“I don’t remember any of last night,” Peter says.

“Actualllllly…” Wade’s legs fall out of their poised position. “I can’t blame you, Spidey—I don’t remember any of last night either. I know my memories normally all wonky anyway, but damn. Nothing. Nada. Just a big black void.”

Peter’s headache is only growing worse. He has no idea where he is, no recollection of the past 24 hours, and is stuck inside a small, cramped space with Deadpool.

And, apparently, a slumped, unconscious lump of a man. What the heckaroonie.

“He’s fine,” Wade reassures. “I already checked. Just passed out like the powerless, wilting flower that he is.”

Peter rubs at his pounding temple. “How’d—how’d we all get here? Where even is here?”

“I wake up in jail more than you’d except,” Wade says, and Peter’s mind kind of stutters, because jail? “Which, considering the shitty reputation I already have, is a metric fuck tonne.”

“Jail,” Peter echoes weakly. The unconscious lump on the ground groans again, shimming against the hard floor.

Wade pats him on the arm. The gesture is supposed to be comforting, but the mercenary mostly just succeeds in smearing dark blood on him.

“Jail,” Wade agrees. “But, hey, it’s not so bad! You get to spend more time with us.”

On the floor, the lump of spandex groans, pained and low, like a dying animal.

“Same,” Peter tells the guy.

A slot on the door opens. A greying man peers in. “Those donuts you ordered,” he says, holding up a box of Dunkin Donuts for them to see. 

Wade throws his arms in the air. “Finally. What am I paying you for?”

“You’re not paying us. You’re in jail, sir.”

“Donuts?” Peter’s stomach is growling furiously. His life is already weird, so why not? Donuts in a jail cell with Deadpool and an unconscious/dying lump of spandex. Sure. Why not. “Oh my god, gimme.”


The officer beams at him. “Spidey, good to finally meet you.”

“You met him before,” Wade accuses.

“Yeah, but he’s conscious this time. It’s more exciting.”

Wade reaches through the slot and takes the box of donuts, managing to only squish them a little through the small gap. The mercenary flips it open and grabs the pinkest one. Peter quickly snags three chocolate ones.

“It’s good to meet you too, I guess,” Peter says, because being sarcastic here—dressed in a ripped, slightly damp suit, locked in a jail cell—is probably a bad idea. The older officer grins a little goofily, with happy, fannish awe, and closes the slot. Peter sucks at chocolate icing and tries not to feel claustrophobic.

“Yo, double-D.” Wade kicks the lump by their feet. “Wake the fuck up, we have food.”

The lump groans and rolls onto its back. Daredevil’s cowled face squints up at them.

“Am I dead?” Matt asks blearily.

“You’re not that lucky,” Wade says. He shoves the box into Peter’s grateful hands, and hauls the vigilante up by his armpits. Matt slumps against the wall, eyes slipping closed. “Hey, don’t pass out again, Magoo. We only just got you back.”

“Ugggghhhh,” Matt says.

“Oh, shut the fuck up.”

 


 

“So,” Matt says, a box of donuts and one crappy half-explanation later, “we all remember nothing about last night, have painful headaches and pretty typical hangover symptoms—“

Had,” Wade corrects. “Healing factor, what what!”

“Is this what a hangover is like?” Peter says. “If so, why do people do this to themselves.”

“—and woke up IN JAIL,” Matt finishes loudly, ignoring the both of them. “Deadpool, do you know if we were unconscious when we were put in here? Or did we pass out sometime after we were locked up?”

“Oh, no, I woke up in the back of the police cruiser,” Wade says. “Freaked the ever loving shit out and tried to make a break for it, but calmed down when I realised you guys were with me. I couldn’t leave my babies behind! Plus: this is going to be the best fucking story, oh em gee. I am totally going to be apart of this shit fest, if only so I can brag about it later. Wolverpeen is going to lose his MIND.”

“Oh, good,” Peter says. “Not only do I get to suffer now, but I get to suffer later when the whole superhero community points and laughs at me for waking up in jail with Deadpool.”

Wade puts a hand on his shoulder. “Your dads will be very disappointed in you.”

Peter stares at him. “My whats?”

“Your dads—Iron Ma and Cap Pa-merica.”

“Whaa?” Peter says. “They—they’re not my dads? They barely talk to me. After this, I can kiss being passing acquaintances with my idols goodbye.” Peter sighs, a little sadly, a little dreamily. “It was so nice, to see them bitch at me from an unbreachable emotional distance.”

Wade flaps a hand. “Riiiight, wrong fanfiction universe. My bad. Although, I’m kind of glad; that superfamily business sucked. Everyone in-universe hated me even when I was the hawt love interest—”

“Getting back on track,” Matt thankfully interrupts, “I don’t think this is legal.” He frowns thoughtfully. “I can’t be certain, because I was unconscious for so long… They didn’t even offer us our phone call—”

“No, yeah, I took our one phone call.” They both stare at Wade as he points to the empty donut box, crumpled by their booted feet.

“You used our phone call to buy donuts?!” Peter hisses.

“Worth it!” Wade says. Peter jumps him and Wade cries out—the sound wounded and decidedly feminine. “Fucking OW, you little spider monkey—”

Wade and Peter scuffle like little kids, all flailing arms and open palms. Peter is hanging on to Wade like a limpet, dangling and clawing, and Wade is trying to pull the hero off and slap him at the same time

“Hey, double D,” Wade says, “take a photo of me tugging Spider-Man off! Get it, ‘tugging him off’—OWIE, SPIDEY!”

Peter’s flailing boot kicks Matt in the head. He immediately scrambles off of Wade.

Wade gasps softly. “Oh, shiiiit.”

Peter rushes to Matt’s side, hands fluttering. “Matt, I’m so sorry—”

Matt holds a hand to his bleeding nose and scowls at the younger hero until he drops his hovering hands, and backs away. He obediently, quietly sits down next to Wade. The two squirm in place like a pair of guilty school children in the principal’s office for scuffling.

“We need to figure this out,” Matt says through gritted teeth. “Usually, the three of us only find our way together if serious shit goes down. And we don’t know what happened last night. Probably something bad. Something that led to memory loss, and our legally questionable arrests. We need to get out of here and figure out what happened, and to accomplish that, we need to work together.”

“Sorry, D,” Peter says meekly. “Are you alright?”

Matt rubs the rest of the blood away, and nods. “Fine, I guess, considering I feel like if I tried to get up, I’d just fall over. How are you able to wrestle, feeling like this? ”

Peter shrugs. “I feel a little better now. My healing factor—not as great as Deadpool’s, but significant enough.”

“Healing factor buddies!” Wade says, and offers up his hand for a high-five. Peter, like the good friend that he is, gives him one. Don’t leave a super-bro hanging, ect. ect.

Matt rubs at his closed eyes. “So: any ideas on how to get out of here? No?”

“You could call Foggy?” Peter asks.

“No,” Matt insists. “Foggy must never hear about this.”

“Awww,” Peter and Wade say together. They’ve both met Foggy. They both love Foggy. How could anyone not love Foggy Nelson, lone ray of sunshine in the dreary, violent metropolis of Hell’s Kitchen?

A police officer opens the slot and squints in. He looks unimpressed at the spandex wearing trio. “You’re free to go. Someone’s paid your bail.”

Peter looks at Matt. “Did you call Clai—”

“No,” Matt says with a frown. “Did your—”

“No.”

They both turn to look at Wade. The mercenary jumps to his feet with a girlish squeal. “My prince has come!”

 


 

 The man waiting in the lobby is almost as tall as Wade. Spiky hair is slicked back, old stubble on his jaw, round glasses perched on his nose. His clothes reek of stale cigarettes and beer.

“Wade motherfucking Wilson,” greets the man, hands stuffed in his pockets.

“Weasel,” Wade says. Peter can’t tell if his voice is happy or not. Regardless, Wade claps Weasel in a one-armed hug.

When they pull away, Weasel glances at Matt and Peter and whistles in admiration. “So these are them, then?”

Wade sweeps an arm at them. “Told you, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t actually believe you, you freak. The actual big leagues…” Weasel steps forward and tilts his head, squinting at Peter from behind dusty glasses. “You know, I’m not really gay, but damn if that spandex isn’t tight—”

“Annnd that’s our cue to leave,” Matt says loudly. He tugs Peter toward the doors. New York is dark and unmoving outside. The on-duty officers stare at them, not even pretending to be discreet as they watch, enthralled, as Matt pulls Peter along like a stressed mother.

“No, wait, come back!” Weasel calls after him.

There’s a thump from behind them. Weasel whines. Wade says, “Keep your goo-goo eyes to yourself, or I’ll hack them out with a spoon.”

“For once, I think I’d let him,” Matt says.

“What,” Peter says.

They exit the building to find a broken golf cart sitting on the lawn. It's smoking, the windscreen cracked. They stare at it for a long moment. A wheel falls off.

“Is there any possibility,” Matt begins slowly, “that we didn’t do that?”

“No,” Peter and Wade say in unison. Wade grins and smacks Peter across the bicep, crying, “Jinx!”

“Are we being charged for these damages?” Matt asks with a frown, ignoring the way Wade is glaring at Weasel and tugging at Peter’s arm, and the way the younger hero is limply allowing it. “I don’t even know where that golf cart is from, but the burnt grass alone is enough to—”

Weasel waves a hand. “I already took care of it. Your fines were significant but they’ve been paid for, because that’s the kind of man that I am. A caring, considerate—”

“Compensating?” Matt suggests.

“I can think of another ‘c’ word,” Wade says. “Clear off.”

“Really? Cause I could’ve sworn you were going to say cu—“

Wade claps his hands over Peter’s ears. “GOODBYE, WEASEL.”

“Goodbye, yeesh.”

Peter shoves Wade off him. The mercenary is too busy flipping off his departing, long time friend to climb back on him. “Well, we’re free now,” Peter says, “so I’m going home. To sleep. And pretend none of this happened.”

“But sninner!” Wade cries. “We have to have glad-we-survived-whatever-we-can’t-remember sninner.”

“What?”

“Sninner—a cross between dinner and midnight snack? Although, at this point, it should be a cross-between midnight snack and breakfast so, erm, midnight breakfast? Breack? Snackfast—?”

“Stop,” Matt says.

Peter smothers a yawn with his hand. “It’s too late and I’m too broke to deal with—”

“I’m paying,” Wade offers.

Peter visibly comes to life. “Snackfast it is!”

Wade links their arms together, twirling them in a celebratory circle. “Hell yeah!”

“Hell yeah!” Peter agrees, because free food! Hell yeah!

Matt puts his head in his hands and groans.

 


 

The Denny’s they trudge into, tired and slow, leaving wet footprints in their wake, is mostly empty. A group of party goers sit clustered at the front, eyeliner smeared, tired but happy and liltingly drunk. There’s a lone student tucked in a back booth, textbooks spread on the table in front of her. Her ponytail is loose and frizzed. The waitress periodically stops by to top up her quickly emptying coffee up.

The masked trio head toward a booth. Matt slumps down along one side, laid almost vertically out, head lolling. Wade sprawls along the other side. Peter is forced to squeeze under the mercenary’s arm. Their legs are pressed together, from hip to ankle.

“Home sweet home,” Wade crows, picking up a menu.

“This place smells like old toast and sadness,” Peter says. “It’s like I never left my crummy apartment.”

The waitress chooses that moment to intervene. She stares at them, apathetic—seeing through rather than at them. As though they were regular customers interrupting the monotonous lull of her night shift, rather than three disconcerting, vaguely famous figures decked out in red spandex, and katanas, and badly concealed assault weapons.

“You three ready to order?” she asks, notepad held loosely in hand.

“Coffee,” Matt croaks.

“Oh, god,” Peter says. “Yes, please.”

The waitress scratches down their orders, and turns to Wade. “Anything for you, hon’?”

Wade perks up at being called hon. “Jr. Strawberry Banana Bliss Smoothie.”

She raises a pencilled eyebrow. “From the kid’s menu?”

“You bet.”

She looks at them, as though expecting an actual child to pop up from under the table. But she shrugs, decides she really doesn’t care, and takes down that order, too. “Two coffees and a Jr. Strawberry Banana Bliss Smoothie coming up,” she says, and disappears into the kitchen.

“I’m not going to ask,” Matt decides.

“He just likes the things with fun or long names,” Peter says. Wade shrugs, guilty.

On the other side of the restaurant, the drunk clutter of people are shouting under their breath and casting conspicuous glances at them. Matt hides his face behind his hands. Peter can vaguely make out their whispered argument; they’re trying to decide if there really is three Spider-Men sitting in a shitty 24 hour Denny’s at 2AM or if they're just really, really drunk.

Wade cups his hands over his mouth, and shouts, “Hey, yeah, we’re stripper grams!” Peter shoves at him, but Wade cackles, and continues. “Off duty fetish strippers. Our motto is, put a little super in your night—”

Peter’s phone rings. He pulls it from the pocket in his boot, checks the caller ID, and dies a little. “Wade, stop talking about strippers. Right now.”

Wade snickers a little. He draws in a deep breath, cups his hands back over his mouth to holler something into Peter’s ear, and cops a salt shaker to the forehead.

“Do not,” Matt tells him. The pepper shaker is in his hand, ready.

Wade shoves at Matt from under the table.

It’s too early in the morning, all of them exhausted and recovering from a sudden bout of memory loss and almost incarceration, full of sugary donuts and not enough dignity. 2AM, when people make decisions they normally may not. 2AM, where people are especially irritated by the people around them. 2AM, when Matt shoves Wade back.

Wade kicks him under the table. Matt kicks back.

“Magoo, you bitch ass bitch,” Wade says, though he doesn't seem especially mad about their escalating scuffle.

Matt chucks the pepper shaker. It bounces off of Wade’s temple. The people on the other side of the diner are gawking. The stressed girl studying on the table four booths down doesn’t even look up from her textbooks.

“GUYS!” Matt and Wade freeze. Peter glares at them, phone cupped with his hands, and hisses, “My Aunt May is on the phone. She wants you to cut it out.”

Matt and Wade both sit back down and promptly shut up.

Peter goes back to his phone call. “I’m sorry, Aunt May, I forgot you were visiting tonight. I’m—I’m not really sure what happened exactly, but I’m safe and with friends at the moment, so don’t stay up worrying about me.”

“Tell May hello and I’m sorry,” Matt instructs.

Peter does so, and tells Matt, “She says hello back. And to tell you off for keeping me out so late, even though it wasn’t his fault, Aunt May, it was the super-villains, probably, maybe, I think—”

Aunt May’s tinny laughter can be heard through the phone. Matt smiles a little, and looks more alive than he has all evening.

“Ooh!” Wade says. “Tell her I say hello, too!”

Peter edges pointedly away from the mercenary, and refuses. Wade follows him, leaning into his space, too close, their masked faces almost touching. “Hello, May! It’s wonderful to hear from you! I’m sure you’re looking as dazzlingly beautiful and scrumptious as the last time we met!”

Peter’s foot makes a loud thump against Wade’s kneecap.

“Ow, Spidey! That’s not how you play footsies—!”

“I’m hanging up before this spirals out of control,” Peter says over the sound of his Aunt’s giggling.

“—I can show you the proper way to play footsies, though. A physical demonstration for educational purposes—”

“Goodbye, Aunt May, I love you,” Peter says quickly. He hangs up, pockets his phone, and then squawks, jumping in the booth. “Wade!”

Wade cackles. “Now, that’s how you play footsies.”

 


 

Matt is half slumped over the table, face buried in his crossed arms. All his energy has fled him. Wade has already ordered and been brought too much food, and is having way too much fun playing with it. Peter gulps at Wade’s abandoned strawberry smoothie, and squints at the plates. Egg and bacon and cut up bits of pancake have been shaped into a tiny, food Deadpool.

Peter steals a piece of sausage. Tiny, food Deadpool can live without a foot. Peter pauses. Then also steals a rasher of bacon that happens to be tiny Deadpool’s left calf.

“You’re actually better artist than I expected,” Peter says through his full mouth. “Kinda impressed.”

Matt smirks against the vinyl tabletop. “You were expecting food genitals and swear words, too?”

“Yyyup.”

“Hey. I’m an adult,” Wade tells them as he slides a pancake discreetly over his half finished project on a side plate (scrambled eggs that were going to spell out ass-crumpets).

Matt snorts. While Wade isn’t looking, Peter steals tiny Deadpool’s food torso.

Wade stares down at his plate for a long moment. Then, quietly, he says, “I trusted you, Spidey.”

“Your mistake,” Peter says. He snatches tiny Deadpool’s french fry katana.

“Oh. Oh, it is on.”

Peter has to lean over the booth to swipe a knife and fork from a neighbouring table. Wade unearths his from his mashed up pile of fries. Wade and Peter’s legs kick at each other, cutlery clanging together as they fight with their forks and butter knives.

“En garde, you motherfucker!”

“Winner gets to eat tiny Deadpool.”

“Petey, NO.”

Matt sighs, and tries to ignore the sword fight, and flags down the waitress for more coffee.

 


 

 

They end up at Matt’s apartment after they’re kicked out of Denny’s. Wade’s place disturbs Matt’s delicate senses, and there is no way Peter is putting his Aunt through that. Not again.

There was once a time when Peter was terrified of anyone in the superhero community discovering his identity. That was before Matt ‘I can recognise your heartbeat a mile away’ Murdock and Wade ‘I find and kill people for a living, and also, I don’t understanding normal people things like boundaries’ Wilson happened. Peter’s resigned to it. At least he trusts them, in a way.

Matt stumbles out of his bathroom with a yawn. His costume is gone, replaced by a soft hoodie and a damp, freshly washed face.

Peter and Wade are squashed on the couch together. Peter has traded his spandex for Matt’s old sweats, the hoodie soft, the pants too long. Wade is in costume sans weapons. One of Matt’s stolen sweaters is stretched obscenely over his broad torso.

“How many hoodies do you own, Mattie?” Wade wonders.

“They’re comfortable,” Matt says, defensively. Peter—his brother in the hell that is sensory overload—nods in agreement.

Matt closes the bathroom door and pads into the living room with socked feet. Peter and Wade look up at his silent arrival, and almost fall off the couch laughing.

Matt scowls. “What?”

Peter shakes his head and folds in on himself. One hand clamps over his mouth, the other bunches in his messy hair.

Both arms wrapped around his stomach, legs kicking wildly out, Wade points at Matt. “Your fucking face!”

“What about my face?”

“You—you—”

“You’re sunburnt,” Peter wheezes. “The bottom half of your face is bright—bright red. You have a full on mask line, Matt.

Matt frowns and rubs a finger over the curve of his chin, as though he could feel the colour of his skin.

“Oh. Fuck.”

“I have make up you can borrow, you’re near enough to my skin tonne,” Wade volunteers. He claps his hands. “Ooh, ooh—I have this liquid eyeliner that you would look amazing in—”

Matt scratches at his face, already dreading a future full of powdery, uncomfortable foundation reeking havoc on his skin. “Wade, why would I, a blind man with sensory issues, wear eyeliner?”

“Because you’d look amazing?” Peter asks. Wade nods eagerly.

“No.” Wade opens his mouth, but Matt cuts him off, “No.”

“Fine, be like that. All I’m saying is you (comics you or Charlie Cox you, both would work) in a business suit, hair coiffed a li’l, eyeliner sharper than Peter’s bony shoulder-blades—someone would die, Matty. Someone would DIE.”

Peter raises a hand. “Me. I would die.”

Matt rubs a calming hand over his threadbare sweaters, and leaves to fetch takeout menus. “Not happening.” He can hear them booing from their place on the couch, and has to hide his tired, sunburnt smile in the fold of his hoodie.

 

Chapter Text

Peter wakes to a blurry mask and gloved hands doing jazz hands over him.

“Oh, my god.” He props himself up on his elbows. Wade’s mask doesn’t go away, but sharpens. Peter can make out the panda eyes, the damp spots, the spandex crinkled over the mercenary’s wide, beaming smile. “Oh, my GOD.”

“Isn’t this just the best thing ever?” Wade asks.

Peter looks around. Same concrete walls. Same paint chipped door with a tightly locked slot. Same two assholes; one squirming in excitement by his side, another unconscious on the floor.

“What did I do?” Peter wonders. “Did my great-great-great grandfather piss off a witch and curse the Parker line? Was I a horrible, pilfering crap-sack in my past life? Did Fate decide she needed a cosmic punching bag and picked my name randomly out of a hat?”

“I’m glad to see you, too, sugar plum.”

Peter rubs at his forehead. At this point, the dim headache and itchy, too tight feeling in his skin is kind of comforting. The nausea and the way the artificial light catches and makes his entire body ache is familiar. Peter’s sore, but he’s always sore. This is typically how he feels after a hard night of patrol. He doesn’t feel like he had last time he’d woken up in a jail cell.

“Where are my donuts, D?” Peter demands.

“Hey! I’ll have you know I didn’t use our one phone call for donuts.”

“Typical." Peter tucks his face against his knees. “I bet you don’t remember anything this time, either?”

“Are you MAD that I didn’t buy donuts? Seriously?”

Matt wakes with a low groan. He rolls onto his back and smacks his lips together. Wade prods him with the toe of his boot. Matt groans again but doesn’t bother rolling out of the mercenary’s reach.

“Are you mad that I didn’t get donuts, too, honey-bunches?”

With one hand, Matt pats the hard cement floor. With the other, he feels for the hard cement wall. “Oh, god,” he says with realisation.

“Sorry,” Peter says.

“And there aren’t even donuts this time?”

“I vote we kick Wade out of Team Red.”

Wade splutters. “I—I came up with the team name! I’m the reason we hang out most of the time!”

“It doesn’t count as ‘hanging out’ if we’re trying to fix or run away from something you did,” Matt says, strained and hoarse.

Peter glares at the jail cell floor. He can’t stop thinking about donuts. He can’t stop thinking about donuts.

“I’m trying to get us out of this one, Mattie, what the heck.”

“I’d sell you to Satan for one corn chip,” Peter says, and Matt nods in agreement. Wade makes a sound like he’s about to cry.

A police officer finally comes to release them. Wade skips out of the cell, his hangover long since destroyed by his healing factor. Peter helps Matt limp after him. He doesn’t feel quite so bad, but if the way Matt lilts to the side is any indication, the attorney feels worse.

The office bites his lip as the heroes trudge by.

“Evening,” Peter says.

“Evening,” says the officer, strained. Peter gets the distinct impression he’s being laughed at. He would know. He has a lot of experience with it.

In the station proper, Wade waves like he hadn’t just seen them a few seconds ago. “Weasel is busy doing, erm, paperwork in another room.”

“Don’t tell us,” Matt says quickly. “I don’t care about who bribes who at this point, just. Leave Peter and I out of it.”

“Can do,” Wade says cheerily, and sets about befriending the woman behind the reception desk. She’s typing furiously at her phone. Her skin actually glimmers. Peter wonders if it’s a trick of the light.

Matt slumps against the wall. Peter hovers by his side. “How are you doing, buddy?” Matt heaves an inarticulate sigh. Peter, who speaks fluent vigilante, pats his elbow gently. “I know, I know. We’ll be home soon.”

“Hey, Spides,” Wade says from the reception desk, chin propped on his hand, “you’re trending on Twitter.”

Peter stares at the wall behind Wade. It’s full of faded promotional posters describing the effects of drug use and why driving and texting is a crime. “Why.”

“Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything. It’s the cops. They’ve been live-tweeting this wild night of fun.” Without looking away from Peter, Wade extends a hand and high-fives the woman sitting on the other side of the desk. “And to think, I used to shoot cops! You guys are actually pretty great!”

“How dare you,” the woman says, “I’m not a cop. I’m Gina.”

“I promise not to shoot any Ginas,” Wade says. The woman, Gina, says easily, “Thank you.”

Peter puts a hand over his face. Then, he puts his other hand over his face. Then, when that’s not enough, Peter grabs both of Matt’s hands and puts them on his own face. The click of a camera phone is loud in the emptied station.

Peter wants the floor to open up and swallow him. Someone just took a photo of Peter, in all his rumpled, spandex glory, standing in a New York police station, four hands covering his masked face, Daredevil swaying and sick by his side.

The receptionist gasps. “Tony Stark just retweeted me! That man’s moustache is so fine—”

“I guess, if you’re into that,” Wade allows, gracefully. Peter wants to die.

Matt sniffs. “How come I’m not tweeting?”

“You mean trending, horn-head?”

“Whatever.”

Wade pokes the woman in the elbow. She waves a manicured hand, her bubblegum pink nails shining dully. “Sorry, boo. We’re not near Hell’s Kitchen, so technically Spidey has the jurisdiction here.”

“Jurisdiction,” Peter echoes. He has never, in his life, had enough authority to have anything as cool as jurisdiction. He wants to put that on his resume. Peter Parker; friendly neighbourhood hero, human disaster, a man with jurisdiction in several boroughs of New York City.

“You know, like, this is your territory? Your suburb to hero away to your little heart’s content?” She shrugs. Through her spiel, Wade nods along, silently backing her up. Peter does not know this receptionist, buttoned up in maroon silk and shimmery lipgloss, but he is suddenly afraid of Wade and her becoming friends. They’d be an unstoppable force. “Plus, I’m pretty sure every detective here is at least a little in love with you. And Captain America. And whatever sports person is famous at the moment, I don’t know, I love myself and don’t watch sports.”

“You’re not tweeting,” Wade says, “you’re bragging. Holy shit. That’s so petty, I love it.”

“Yuuuup. All the detectives are asleep right now because they ‘care about their health’ or whatever, but when they wake up they’re going to lose their shit. Boyle is going to cry. I’m pretty sure he has a life-sized poster of Spider-Man in his apartment.”

“Same,” Wade says.

“I don’t entirely get it,” Gina continues. “I mean, I have eyes, I’m into the skintight spandex, obviously.” She waves a hand at Peter. Wade nods in agreement. “But they keep going on and on about his non-lethal methods and light-hearted jokes and ability to take down super-villains without shooting them. Which just seems boring.”

“Guess we know why no one has life-sized posters of you, double D,” Wade says loudly. “No one’s into you beating people up. Or watching you throw them off of buildings, or torture them, or do your vigilante-of-the-night Batman impression.”

“Hypocrite,” Matt shoots back. “Who’s the mass murdering mercenary who dismembers people to get answers or just to entertain himself?”

Weasel emerges from a hallway in time to hear the conversation. He snickers as he makes his way to Wade to steal the mercenary’s wallet. “He’s got you there, dude. Once, he chopped a bunch of pedophile’s dicks off and made the world’s first jester hat made of meat. He made the leader of the child pornography ring wear it and do a little dance while he shot at his feet. Classic Wade.”

Peter flaps his hands. “Oh, my god, we’re in the middle of a police station! There’s a police officer right there, please stop confessing to horrific, nightmare fuel crimes.”

Gina waves him off. “I’m not an officer, remember? And my shift doesn’t start for another 6 hours. Tell me more about the dick hat so I have another cool story to impress strangers with.”

“If you’re not working, why are you HERE?” Peter asks.

“Live tweeting. Obviously.”

“Obviously,” Wade repeats, and fist bumps Gina.

“Obviously,” Weasel agrees. He waves coyly at Peter, but one look from Wade has him scampering back down the hallway, Wade’s wallet in hand.

Matt pushes off the wall and braves the five steps to the desk. He tilts a little to the side. Peter follows after him.

“Well, hellllo,” Gina says, leaning forward on her elbows. “I take it back. Your spandex is nothing, webs. You, horn-head, look like you stepped off of a Calvin Klein ad and I am very much into it.”

Matt graciously ignores that. “A few weeks ago, we were arrested for stealing, drink driving, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.”

“Really?” Peter asks. Wade just says, “Nice.”

“Really. I checked with the arresting officer a few weeks ago.” Matt rubs at his head and ignores the way Gina is peering at him over the desk, phone down for the first time that night. “Do you know why we were arrested tonight?”

“You don’t remember?” The three of them shake their head. Gina hums, and turns to the bulky computer, fingers clacking over the keys. “I’ll find out for you.”

“Thank you,” Matt says.

She holds up a finger. “But only if he—” She points at Matt. “—takes one for the team and ditches the shirt. You can keep the mask, but I want to see if superheroes really do have rock solid abs or if TV has lied to me.”

“It’s a deal,” Wade says. He shakes hands with Gina.

“I’ve always wondered: does the shirt part of the suit detach from the pants and mask part? How do you undress?” Peter wonders out loud. They all look at him. If he weren’t wearing a mask, they would see his violent blush. “It’s a relevant question! Deadpool and I wear spandex! Daredevil wears, like, kevlar. How does that work?”

Gina gets her phone out again. Wade peers over the desk to read over her shoulder, “Spider-Man thinks about undressing Daredevil. Hashtag dream threesome.”

“Just—just take the shirt off already,” Peter says, “so we can leave and go get the food we deserve.”

Matt sighs through his nose and reaches for his buckles.

 


 

 

After a shirtless photo and one confirmation later (“Disorderly conduct and resisting arrest,” Gina reads off the screen, a little dazed after the sight of Daredevil’s six pack, “so not as bad as your last time, I guess?”), they end up back at Denny’s. Deadpool leads them there with a finger in the air, the two heroes following after him, a trio of adults playing follow the leader before the sun comes up.

The waitress is the same as last time. She looks undisturbed by the slumped, spandex wearing customers before her.

“Two coffees and a Jr. Strawberry Banana Bliss Smoothie?” she asks.

Peter removes his hands from his light sensitise eyes to squint up at her. “How’d you remember?”

“You think we get many superheroes in here at 2AM?”

Matt points at Wade. “He is not a superhero—”

Wade kicks him under the table. “Yes, I am!”

“How do you know we’re not cosplayers?” Peter asks. “Really enthusiastic, really beat up cosplayers.”

“I’ll go get you boys those drinks,” says the waitress, and swiftly exits stage left.

 


 

“At least you aren’t sunburnt this time,” Peter tries.

“Don’t joke,” Matt says, scrubbing a hand over his afternoon shadow. “I had to wear make up for over a week before it faded. Karen had too much fun dressing me up.”

Wade and Peter gasp. Peter flaps his hands. “Did she—did she—”

“She put eyeshadow on me half the week,” Matt says through a sigh. “Liquid eyeliner during the second half.”

Wade and Peter stand up and holler like their favourite sports team just won the grand finale. “Photos or it didn’t happen!” Wade says.

Matt looks distinctly pained. “Foggy made sure there were photos.”

“Yes!” Peter says. He doesn’t resist when Wade reaches down and lifts Peter up by the waist and twirls him around, Disney Princess style.

“You both are bad friends.”

“What colour was the eyeshadow?” Peter says once he’s sat back down, ignoring Matt’s glower.

“… red.”

“Ho, ho, holy shit,” Wade says. “Santa Clause red or dirty blood red?”

Peter wrinkles his nose. Matt looks moments from laying back down and letting death claim him, but bites out, “… Daredevil red.”

Peter is the one to pick Wade up and spin him around, this time. Matt puts his head back on the table and breathes slowly through a growing migraine.

 


 

 

“We have to find whoever did this,” Matt says, one caffeine fix later, “and stop them.”

“More like thank them,” Wade argues. The two heroes frown at him, and he shrugs. “Hey, they brought us together! Look at us—shitty food, late night conversations, the growing promise of naked fun times.”

Peter shreds a paper napkin with a frown. “I’m going to find whoever did this and hang them from a flagpole by their undies.”

“Spidey! You don’t like spending time with us?”

“It’s not that. They messed with Matt and his senses. No one hurts Matt and gets away with it.”

“Hell yeah; gratuitous violence here we come.”

“Guys,” Matt says with reproach, though Peter can see his tiny, flattered smile, “we need to focus. What do we remember? I feel worse today than I did last month. I remember less, too.”

Wade has already zoned out. He’s playing with the salt and pepper shakers.

Peter hums. “That’s strange. I felt better when I woke up. Less like someone was trying to jack-hammer into my brain. I remember some of yesterday night, too. I didn’t, last time.”

“Wade?” Matt says.

Wade idly tips the pepper shaker upside down. Pepper rains down on his half-full strawberry milkshake, floating on the surface. “Don’t look at me, kids. I don’t remember most of the past week, but that’s pretty normal for me.” Wade screws a thumb into the side of his head with enough pressure to hurt. Peter bats his hand away. “My brain’s an omelette that wasn’t cooked right. It’s an egg that someone cracked out on Australian asphalt. Or some other metaphor involving half-raw, scrambled eggs.”

Peter pats his arm. “Don’t worry about it, man.”

Wade grabs a butter knife from Peter’s plate. He stabs it into his pepper-strawberry milkshake and stirs it violently, metal clinking loudly on glass. The milkshake froths up. “Why the fuck did I get included in this mess? I get why some evil fucker might want to take down you boy scouts, but me? I don’t even have a working brain—”

Matt kicks him under the table. Hard. Wade yelps and drops the butter knife where it sinks into the frothy, peppery milk. “No one sitting at this table is neurotypical, remember? Get your head out of your ass.”

“You say the sweetest things.” Peter thumps Wade’s shoulder with a closed fist. “Ow! What’s with the violence all of a sudden? I knew horn-head had a sadomasochistic streak a mile long, but you, Peter?”

“We don’t care if you’ve got a sucky brain that does sucky things,” Peter says. “I’ve been there, done that, got the novelty t-shirt.” Matt nods in agreement. And then, to be safe, he confiscates the butter knife before Wade can pick it back up. “Don’t stress about it. I remember enough of last night for the three of us.”

“And?” Matt presses.

Peter idly swipes the mostly full milkshake while he thinks. He sips at it and splutters.

“It’s full of pepper, boo.” Wade steals it back, and gulps down half of it. He smacks his lips. “Mm, I think that’s an improvement, actually.”

“Why did you order it if you don’t like it?”

“We went over this in chapter 1; I like saying the fun name.”

“I want a bell,” Matt decides. “A little bell I can carry around and then ring whenever you both get side-tracked.”

Wade gasps. “That would be so cute! I want a bullhorn—actually, I think I own a bullhorn. Or I did. Weasel stole it to use at his bar—”

Matt stares at him for a long moment. Gently, Peter points out, “You just got side-tracked again, dude.”

Wade claps his hands to his mouth, scandalised. Before Wade can interrupt again, Matt says, “Peter, what do you remember of last night?”

“I remember suffering through 50 pages of assigned readings and going to make myself butter toast for dinner again,” Peter begins. He squints at the table as he thinks. “Then Wade messaged me. He said he’d met up with you, Matt, and wanted to get dinner.”

“I’m so thoughtful,” Wade says.

“When I got to Hell’s Kitchen, I found Wade chasing after you, and throwing guns at you, and threatening you to come to our family friendly dinner.”

“That does sound more in character, actually.”

“You mean firing guns?” Matt asks.

“No,” Peter says. “Throwing.”

Wade cackles. Matt sighs, and prompts, “And then?”

“Then I agreed to dinner and you reluctantly came with us.” Peter fiddles with the torn up pieces of napkin and recalls settling down on the roof of a Mexican restaurant. The sunset unfurled into golden pinks and molten yellows before them, and Peter had let himself sink into the moment. It had been nice. He wished he could go back and stop the night from being ruined like this.

“Wade phoned in our orders even though we were on the restaurant’s roof. The delivery boy looked like was going to pass out, but Wade gave me something like $150 to tip him, so I guess that works itself out, morally speaking.”

“And then?” Matt says, again.

Peter cocks his head. “And then… and then I remember feeling… good, I think. I remember singing. Or maybe shouting. Or both.”

“And then?”

“And then I remember waking up in jail and being mad about the distinct lack of donuts.”

“You’re still mad about that?” Wade demands. Peter nods seriously.

“Did you spike our food?” Matt asks Wade, voice carefully level.

Wade’s replies, equally tight, “Excuse me?”

“Peter says there were only three of us on that rooftop, and Peter certainly wouldn’t drug us. Once might be an isolated incident, but this happening twice? With the same people, in the span of a few weeks? What’s your angle, Wade?”

“You seriously think I’d put your reputations and lives in danger like that?” Wade says through gritted teeth.

“It’s the only assumption to make.”

“Guys,” Peter says loudly. “Wade couldn’t have spiked it. I was the one that took the food from the delivery guy and handed it out, so unless you want to get mad at me—” Peter pauses. “Oh. Oh. You don’t like hard shelled tacos, Matt.”

“I prefer the soft kind,” Matt agrees.

“But—but I was having a weird sensory day and the texture of the hard shells were bugging me, so when the food came, you switched with me.” Peter swallows; of course Matt’s tiny act of kindness would come back to bite him. Of course. “You ate the tacos meant for me. My metabolism is a lot faster than yours—it needed a higher dose.”

“I’m going to kill that pimply delivery boy,” Wade decides.

“No killing,” Matt and Peter say together. Wade whines and stomps his feet beneath the table.

“We don’t know it was him, specifically,” Matt says slowly. “Whoever did this knew enough about each of us to give individually tailored doses in our favourite foods.”

“Spidey,” Wade begins with all the solemnity of a man who already knows the answer, “did I order chimichangas?”

“So much that the delivery boy could barely carry it up the stairs.”

“That motherfucker messed with my chimichangas—” Wade jumps out of the booth and unsheathes his katanas in one fluid movement. Peter jumps up after him. Matt quickly stands up, but pain explodes behind his eyes, all the blood rushing to his head, his legs buckling—

“Matt?” Peter murmurs. His hands steady Matt’s shaking shoulders.

Matt wets his lips. “Guess—guess I got up too fast.”

Wade falters. He looks down at Matt—sprawled on the sticky Denny’s floor, squinting against the migraine pushing against his eyes—and sheathes his katanas.

“I guess I can kill him another day,” Wade says.

“No killing,” Peter says. Matt presses closer to the younger man, and tries not to throw up.

Wade breathes out through his nose. “Time to get the princess home before she turns into a pumpkin.”

“My identity,” Matt croaks. “They—they might be stalking us.”

“They might already know it,” Wade says. The two superheroes glower up at him. “Alright, alright! We’ll be careful and go to my place!”

“Oh no,” Matt says.

Peter helps Matt to his feet. Wade hauls Matt’s arm around his shoulder and leads the way out of the Denny’s. “Queue the line break, writer!”

 


 

“Why do you own so much Capri Sun?”

“I thought we were friends,” Wade says, ignoring Peter’s hand-wavy gesture and noncommittal ‘eh’ in response. “True friends don’t judge how much Capri Sun and slightly mouldy pizza crusts other friends have in their apartments.” Wade pauses lighting the scented candles long enough to wipe at his whited out eyes, sniffing as though he were fighting back tears.

“Those crusts aren’t ‘slightly’ anything; I’m pretty sure they’ve grown legs, colonised, and declared themselves independent nations away from the fuzzy, unhygienic Mould Commonwealth. And I’m not complaining on my own behalf. I’m complaining for our very blind, very scent sensitive friend.”

Peter waves to where Matt is hovering in the living room, arms pulled very close to his chest, nose scrunched. Wade throws his hands up, lit lighter still in one glove, and says, “I gave him Ibuprofen and I’m lighting scented candles for him, what more do you want from me?”

“A lower volume and better, more sanitary habits would be a nice start,” Matt remarks, offhand.

“Yeah, well, you try living with a shitty memory that craps out on you all the time, and hallucinations up the whazoo, and plot lines that don’t quite make any sense but make me change fucking locations every other issue!”

“Well, maybe you should try and live with senses so sharp that you can tell exactly how many socks in this place are cum stained—way too many, by the way—and just how long it’s been since other people have washed their suits. That last one is aimed at you, too, Peter; your suit is also disgusting and I am ashamed.”

From his place atop the mostly clean countertop, Peter kicks his feet out and frowns into his Capri Sun. “It’s not my fault I’m bad at laundry,” Peter grumbles into his straw. “I’m poor and I don’t have a lot of free time.”

“Hey, who said you could drink that?” Wade makes to snatch up Peter’s stolen drink, but the younger man flips onto the ceiling, out of Wade’s reach.

“Come on, two entire shelves in your fridge is dedicated to the stuff! I can have one, can’t I?”

Matt opens up the fridge. “This is a lot of Capri Sun, Wade. Why did you buy so much?”

“I don’t know! I’ve got memory issues, remember? I have said that at least twice this chapter, haven’t I…? That wasn’t just to Yellow’s complaining ass?”

“You have,” Peter reassures. He scampers across the ceiling, throws his empty juice packet in the trash, and snatches up several more from the still open fridge.

“You little thief!”

“You big hypocrite!”

Matt sits down on the cleanest part of the couch. “It’s too late for this.”

Peter crawls along the ceiling and plops down onto the couch by his side, Capri Suns in his lap. Wade volts over the couch and sits on Matt’s other side. Thankfully, he makes no move to steal back his Capri Suns.

“Look on the bright side, Mattie. Next chapter is going to be indulgent slush with not much plot. The author promises. Just the three of us, scented candles, chiffon dresses, and pancakes. Y’know. Guy stuff.”

Peter tears open another Capri Sun and settles into Matt’s side. Against his shoulder, the attorney can feel the curve of Peter’s smile through his mask. “Yeah,” Peter says. “It’ll be fun. I promise.”

“Okay,” Matt says; already, his migraine and the deep ache in his bones are retreating. The apartment may stink of old food, the dusty couch may be lumpy, but Wade and Peter are warm weights, bracketing him on either side. “But I refuse to wear a dress.”

 

Chapter Text

Wade bounces from Peter to Matt, clothes bundled in his arms, skirt swishing around his thick thighs. The petticoat is made of lace and peaks out beneath the pink, bunted overskirt.

“Mattyyyy!” The mercenary holds up a black romper with stitched flowers on the front, shaking the fabric dramatically. “Come on.”

Matt reaches out and feels the romper with his hands. He pulls at the spaghetti straps and flimsy, itchy material with a wrinkled nose. “I already said I’m not wearing anything like that.”

“But you’d look so nice.”

“No, Wade.”

Wade sighs and flings the romper over the coffee table. He spins on his heel and stomps off to rummage through his wardrobe, grumbling under his breath about unfair teammates and what kind of blue might compliment Peter’s skin tone.

“Don’t feel pressured,” Peter says. He’s perched on the armchair, Capri Sun in hand. The babydoll dress Wade had given to him—a permeant gift for Peter to own and love forever, Wade had said with a feigned sense of spontaneity, like he didn’t own a tub full of clothes in Peter’s smaller size—fell mid-thigh, lace with short, bunched sleeves. It looks partway Victorian, partway summery.

“You should feel pressured!” Wade calls from the other room. “All of the peer pressure. Get Matt in a dress 2k17.”

Peter ignores him. “I know wearing dresses still has a lot of stigma, and if you don’t feel comfortable wearing feminine things, that’s fine—”

“That’s not it.” Matt picks up the romper. The black fabric slides between his fingers, and he makes a face at it. “I’m blind. Wearing clothes doesn’t do anything for me the same way it does you and Wade.”

“You normally look so sharp, though.”

“That’s for work. Looking nice at work is to show my clients I’m capable. My Daredevil suit is so I can mask my identity, and be something more—a symbol for the people of Hell’s Kitchen.” He passes the romper to Peter. “That’s different. If I’m going to wear something for the sake of wearing it, it’ll be something kinder on my senses, like sweatpants.”

Wade gasps from the other room. There is some more rummaging, and then he appears with a pair of blue mary janes and a wad of dark wool. “Stupid, stupid,” he tells himself, thumping an especially hard fist against his temple. He throws the mary janes at Peter, the wool at Matt. “Of course you’ve got freaky senses. Of course synthetic dresses would be like a hot poker up the ass.”

Matt presses the wool to his cheek. Very quietly, he says, “Oh, my god.”

Peter snags a sleeve. The fabric glides sinfully across his fingers. “Oh, my god,” Peter agrees.

“This is the especially indulgent chapter,” Wade says. “That means everyone gets indulged. I get to transform Peter into the sugar plum princess, and Matt gets a vacation for his senses.”

“This is the best day of my life,” Matt says.

Wade gasps. “Better than the day you met me?”

“Every day is better than that.”

“Better than the day you met me?” Peter asks, hand against his heart. The lace of his dress feels like a lie after the gentleness of Matt’s sweater.

“Peter,” Matt starts, “you are, unfortunately, one of my favourite people, and I value you as a human being, but the day we met, you got stabbed, I got shot, and we both ended up in a dumpster when we were hiding from the police.”

“That’s fair,” Peter says. “It was still better than the day you met Wade, though.”

Matt hums in agreement. Wade sighs and gestures at the buckled shoes in Peter’s lap.

“Bunches, those shoes are for you. Figures the first time this author writes Mary Jane into being, it’s a pair of shoes instead of a certain redheaded babe.”

“You know MJ?”

Wade, for once, heeds the warning in Peter’s voice. “No. Absolutely not. Of course not. Who?”

“Hm,” Peter says, and gets up to fetch more Capri Sun.

 


 

 

“If this is becoming a tradition, I want no part in it.”

“I see you enjoying that sweater, Murdock. I see through your lies.”

Peter squirms, chewing on his straw. He shifts further into Matt’s side, one hand ghosting over Matt’s sleeve. The other sleeve is in Matt’s own grip, where he rubs at the hems over and over again. “No,” Matt says, “I definitely hate this.”

“Wow,” Peter says, “and I thought I was the bad liar.”

“You are,” Matt and Wade say together. Peter snickers into his Capri Sun, sliding further down the couch. He feels a little light-hearted. Weightless, almost.

Matt and Wade move on to a different topic. Peter is usually in the middle of their rapid-fire bickering, but now, in the drowsy warmth of Wade’s apartment, their words wash crash over him like fog, a din of noise he can’t quite grasp. He’s not overstimulated; Peter is familiar with the itchy pain of reaching his sensory limits, and this isn’t it. This is relaxing. Floaty. Peter chokes on a laugh, head lolling into the crook of Matt’s neck.

Matt and Wade quiet. Wade pokes at Peter. “You okay there, honey bunch?”

“I’m great,” Peter says. “I’m… super duper.”

“Super duper,” Matt repeats with disbelief.

“Yup,” Peter says, and sucks down another mouthful of Capri Sun. He can’t see Matt and Wade exchanging glances over his head.

“Okayyyy,” Wade says. “Matt, kitchen?”

“Yeah. Peter, will you be okay if we leave you alone for a couple of minutes?”

“Super duper,” Peter says again.

“Right.” Now Matt sounds even more disbelieving. He says something else, touches Peter’s head, but the meaning floats away from him.

Matt and Wade disappear into the kitchen. Peter runs a hand down the length of the couch once, and then again, enjoying the way it tickles his palm and wrist. His fingers come away stained with crusty nacho sauce.

“Gross,” Peter mumbles, and gets up to find the bathroom. He wobbles, and catches himself on the doorframe. His legs are full of pins and needles, his thoughts soupy and erratic. “Gross,” Peter says again, because it describes the way his entire bodies feels numb, from his toes to his fingers to his lips.

He stumbles into a green tinged bathroom. Old water coagulates in the tub. Mould runs up the walls, and spiders around the drain and sink. It would normally bother him. It doesn’t, now.

Peter splashes water on his face, but it doesn’t wake him up. He needs to do something. He needs to run until he can feel the blood pumping through his legs; until his mind is clear; until he’s done something, righted some wrong with his own two hands.

Peter strips out of the lace dress, and into the spandex puddled in the corner. Slipping into his spider suit is like pulling on his skin. Peter feels right again, even if he can’t feel his toes.

“Petey?” Wade calls from the living room, but Peter is already opening up the bathroom window and slipping out into the early morning dark.

 


 

 

Peter is a radio with a poor signal. Awareness floats in and out of his grasp as he processes the world in snippets. He remembers, with perfect clarity, crawling away from Wade’s apartment, leaping his way through several back alleys, and then—nothing.

When he’s next aware of himself, he’s standing in the middle of a road, headlights blinding him. Cars honk furiously. People are shouting, gesturing at him rudely. Peter stumbles and almost gets run over by cars easing by in the other lane. Someone steps out of their truck to shout at him, and he darts away like a spooked stray cat.

Peter remembers rooftops, half open windows, people staring at him with big eyes or expression hands, sometimes trying to talk to him or touch him, but he processes none of it. He looks, and hears, and touches rough brick walls and only understands bits and pieces of it.

It’s like being concussed, his coherence snatched away from him. It’s hard to breathe in this foggy place. His legs shake, and the world tilts, and Peter comes crashing down hard. He curls up like a dying insect, and his thoughts disappear for a while.

His awareness jumpstarts when someone touches him; gloved hands press down on his knees. Peter instinctively kicks out at the intruder. The person takes the kick to the chest, falling back with an oof, but immediately scrambles back to Peter’s side.

“Ouchie, Parker. Just tell a girl you don’t want a second date.”

The world sharpens enough for Peter to take in the panda mask. He inhales shakily, and it feels like the first breath he’s taken in hours. “Oh. H—Hi.”

“Hi,” Wade says. “You with me?”

Peter scrubs a hand over his face. The slide of spandex against spandex is slick and familiar, but he only vaguely remembers putting the suit back on. “I think so.”

Wade settles across from him, cross-legged with his warm hands wrapped around Peter’s ankles. The touch is grounding, and Peter sucks in another rough inhale.

“I don’t know how to break this to you, kid, but…” Wade sucks in a breath, and lets it back out again. “Mattie got himself too worked up. He’s gone blind with worry.”

Peter squints at him. “Is that even the saying?”

“Blind with joy? Blind with vindictiveness? Blind with crushing existential dread? There’s one about jacking off and going blind, I think, but he hit me with his baton the first time I tried to use that one.”

“I think all blind jokes are in bad taste, actually.”

“Have I ever done something in good taste?” Wade asks. Peter laughs, a rasping sound that scrapes on the way up. Wade squeezes his ankles. “How’re you doing, sugar plum?”

Peter leans back against the brick wall, and takes stock of his body. His limbs are tingly, his whole lower body disconnected from the rest of him. He has a headache again.

“Bad,” Peter says.

Wade shoves his dress up to get to his utility belt. He unearths a bedazzled flip phone from his belt, opens it, and presses it to his ear. “I found Lassie,” he says simply. “I’m taking him somewhere. I’ll text you. Kisses.” Wade hangs up, and punches out a text message to someone, then shoves the phone back where he found it.

Peter wets his cracked lips. His throat burns. “How long did you guys look for me?”

“It was fun. Like a game of hide and seek, except if we didn’t find you you might’ve died or something, and the other person I was playing with wanted to dismember me for losing his favourite little lamb.” Wade stands, and helps Peter to his feet. “Come on, we’ve got a date with a girl.”

 


 

 

Gina waits for them on the rooftop of the prescient. She hunches into her puffy vest, hands stuffed into her armpits to keep warm. Her oversized handbag is looped under one arm.

Peter lands roughly on the rooftop. Wade, hanging off him with an arm around his shoulders, almost topples over the edge.

“Are you guys still drunk?” Gina asks.

“We were never drunk in the first place,” Wade says. “Super metabolisms, an alcoholic’s worst nightmare.”

“Sure,” Gina agrees, like she has any idea what superhuman anatomy entails. “Cute dress, by the way.” She gestures to her phone. “Can I?”

“Sure!” Wade twirls, and his dress swirls around his upper thighs. He’s changed out of the pink, lacy number he was wearing earlier. This dress is a swathe of foam green silk, more elegant than Wade’s usual style. Peter likes it. The woven stitching over the bodice reminds him of cobwebs.

Gina takes several photos of Wade, and then works on uploading them, fingers flying over her screen. “I’ve gotten over a thousand new followers thanks to you three. Where is my third, ruggedly handsome musketeer?”

“We’re not ruggedly handsome enough for you?”

“Why are we here?” Peter asks, rubbing at his forehead. As his focus sharpens, his headache worsens. It was dark when Peter was at Wade’s apartment, but now it’s easily late afternoon. He’s no stranger to losing time, none of them are, but he usually doesn’t lose entire days at a time unless especially traumatic has happened.

Gina digs into her handbag and pulls out a sealed bottle of water. This, she hands to Peter, along with a bottle of painkillers.

Peter cracks open the water, and chugs half of it at once. Gina pulls out a second water bottle and hands that over, too. Peter holds it to his chest. He feels a little like crying with how huge and kind the gesture seems to him. He might still be a little drugged. A lot drugged. He’s not sure how he’s still standing upright, how he managed to swing through New York while supporting Wade’s weight. “I love you,” Peter tells Gina hoarsely.

“Most people do,” Gina says, “but if I marry you, Jake will never forgive me.”

Wade clicks his fingers. “Where’s the rest of what I asked for?”

“Calm down, skippy, I’m getting to it.” Gina pulls out a squashed folder. Wade snatches it up and flips through it quickly. “I had to cash in at least six different favours to get that immediately and without questions, just so you know. You owe me, now.”

“Sure, sure.” Wade flicks through the folder. What he sees there makes him tense, make his teeth grind audibly. Gina takes a little step back.

“He has a very good dentist,” Peter says, which is a bold faced lie but distracts Gina from Wade, the human embodiment of a cocked gun with a faulty trigger.

“Vigilantism comes with healthcare?”

Peter laughs. His muscles are screaming, and his voice is a ragged, exhausted thing, but he musters up a peppy little hand gesture. “Vigilantism comes with the opposite of healthcare, if that’s a thing. It’s great. A real blast. I love getting beaten up on a regular basis.”

Gina is looking from Peter to Wade with dipped eyebrows, like she’s realising their brand of maniac exhaustion is a regular characteristic and not a fun little quirk they pull on like a jacket. To give her credit, she doesn’t back away or say anything insulting, just takes it in stride. “I’ve got a snickers bar in my bag if you want it.”

“You’re not you when you’re hungry,” Wade mumbles under his breath, but otherwise doesn’t give any indication that either of them are still there.

Gina hands Peter the chocolate bar. “Thank you,” Peter says, more wetly than is appropriate for such a small gesture. “It’s been a hard day. A hard week. A hard life.”

Gina shrugs. “I come up here when my coworkers get on my nerves. Sometimes I bring coffee or a thermos of soup. Hot beverages on a wintry rooftop while skipping work is an aesthetic most people can only aspire to.” She pulls out another snickers bar, and hands that over, too. “You’re welcome to come by, anytime, so long as I get to tweet about you occasionally.”

Peter laughs around the chocolate. “Thanks.”

Wade snaps the folder closed. “Thanks, babe, but we’ve got get going. Things to see, people to do.”

“It’s the other way around,” Peter says. Wade laughs and shakes his head, no.

Gina waggles her phone. “Just don’t forget about that favour. I do aim to collect.” She points at Peter next. He’s licking at the tiny crumbs caught at the bottom of the chocolate wrappers. He freezes, but she barrels on without drawing breath: “Half the detectives at this station will have an actual fit if you even look at them, because they all have some kind of respect-boner for you. Don’t be a stranger.”

Wade is already climbing onto Peter’s back when Gina jots down two names and numbers in a furry pink notepad. She tears off the page and hands it over. “They’re good people, and so-so detectives. You can trust them.”

Peter tucks the torn page into the waistband of his suit. “Uh. Thanks.”

“Get better. And don’t do anymore stupid shit, okay?”

Wade digs his heels into Peter’s side like he’s a rider astride a horse. Peter steps off the edge of the rooftop with a passing wave goodbye to Gina. Free rooftop soup sounds nice. Maybe, one day, Peter will come by and check it out.

 

Chapter Text

Wade’s apartment has been ransacked in the time Peter has been gone. Drawers are turned out, the kitchen trashed; soda bottles and spoiled milk cartoons have been tipped out and stacked in a heap by the door, and Wade’s meagre food supply—non-perishables, sickly sweet and sour candies, protein tubs, half-rotten leftovers—has been thrown out. Wade’s extensive collection of Capri Sun has been dumped in the sink.

Matt is on top of them before they’ve made it through the front door. He grips Peter’s shoulders to keep him steady. He doesn’t need to be so close to keep him for injury, but Peter doesn’t complain or wriggle away.

Peter gets on his tip-toes and peers around Matt. “What happened? Who was stupid enough to go through your apartment?”

“I was the one that went through everything,” Matt says. “Which, first of all: you’re a disgusting human being, Wade.”

Wade waves a hand. “We went through this two chapters ago, Magoo. Move on. This fanfic is almost over.”

“Someone drugged everything eaten in Wade’s apartment,” Matt continues like Wade hadn’t spoken. “We can’t eat anything at either of our apartments, just to be sure. All of it might be contaminated, too. I already called May.”

Matt finally lets Peter go. He sways a little, and then goes to inspect the empty Capri Sun stashed in the sink. “It betrayed me.”

Wade hands Matt the folder, then takes it back immediately. “My bad,” Wade says, before launching into a summary of the folder’s contents. Peter sits on the counter, kicking his legs out in front of him, and does his best to listen. His headache eats away at his concentration, and a tremor is working its way up his fingers and into his arms.

Matt scrubs a hand over his face. “Shit.”

Wade pulls a lighter and a box of matches from his belt. He hands the former to Matt, and sets about aggressively striking up the latter. He waves them in the air, once, twice, before he lets the extinguished matchsticks drop to the floor. “Yeah, shit.”

Matt snatches the matches out of Wade’s hands. “What’s the plan?”

“We torch the fucking place, obviously.”

Peter raises his hand into the air. “The Mexican place? I like their salsa, and they haven’t once given me food poisoning, which—so long as you don’t count the time they, like, sold us drugged food—is more than I can say about most take out places in New York.”

“Plan B: we find the specific people who were involved—” Wade holds up the folder, and taps it. “—and torch them.”

Matt rubs at his face again. “We’re… we’re not setting anyone on fire, Wade.”

Peter sways from his place on the countertop. The world swims, everything doubling, and then tripling. He braces his hands over his stomach, and focusses on not throwing up the snickers bars the intimidating, vaguely nice woman from the police station gifted him.

Hands settle on his shoulders and steady Peter before he can tip over the edge of the counter and crack his head open. A bucket that smells faintly of blood is shoved under his nose. Peter throws up into it.

When Peter finishes, his vision clearing, Matt is rubbing circles into his back. Wade is gone.

“Sorry,” Peter says, hoarsely. There’s too much salvia in his mouth. He swallows, and grits his teeth against another wave of nausea.

“It’s not your fault.”

“The Capri Suns betrayed me, Matt. This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in my life.”

“You’ve literally been tortured before. I would know. I was there.”

“The worst thing,” Peter insists, and puts his head back in the bucket, and throws up a second time. The snickers bars were definitely a mistake.

“We’ve been drugged twice, and none of us got this sick.”

“Those doses were tailored for each of us, though, right? And I drank a lot of Capri Suns. If each of them had been individually tampered with…”

Matt grimaces. “You probably got several doses at once.”

Peter jumps off the counter, bucket pressed to his chest. His legs shake threateningly, but he doesn’t collapse. Matt hovers, just in case.

“I’m fine,” Peter reassures. He swallows down bile. If he throws up anymore, Matt will stay with him all night. “I think it’s passed.”

Matt fetches a scratchy, semi-clean sheet from the closest and drapes it over the couch. Some of the clothes from yesterday litter the floor. Peter prods a swirl of chiffon and lace out of the way with his boot. Their tiny fashion show feels like it happened ages ago, not yesterday.

Peter lowers himself onto the couch. Matt stands over him for a long moment, head tilted, taking in Peter’s thumping heartbeat, his jittery breathing, the slow but persist shake in his limbs.

“Hm,” Matt says.

Peter kicks him in the shins. Matt doesn’t kick back. “Wade’s by himself in the middle of my city with revenge on the brain. Please go stop him from doing something drastic.”

“Your city,” Matt repeats.

Peter kicks him again, gentler this time. The nausea has settled back over him, and the room tilts and sways from side to side, as though Peter is on a rocky boat. Everything is catching up to him. He has to fight to keep his eyes open and not let his exhaustion pull him under.

“I’d go if I could.” The words scrape his throat with more hoarse honesty than Peter meant to give up. He bunches a shaky hand in the off yellow sheet blanketing to steady himself. It was easy to ignore when he was with Wade and Matt, when they were focussed on getting out of jail or gulping down coffee at Denny’s, but there’s something disarming about this drug. He hates being powerless.

Matt exhales through his nose. “You’re right. Give me a second.” Peter lets Matt take the soiled bucket and disappear into the kitchen. The older vigilante rinses it out, fills a freshly washed glass with tap water, and sets both down beside the couch. “Okay.”

“I’ll be fine,” Peter says.

“I’ll look after him,” Matt says. He rights his mask, and and slips out the front door to chase down the third member of their unofficial team.

It takes everything in him to stay there, and let Matt and Wade handle this. He trusts them, he tells himself, even as the nausea and the faint aftertaste of blood and bile in his mouth fades away, and his exhaustion pulls him under.

 


 

 

When he wakes up, face pressed into a couch cushion that stinks of mildew, Peter feels steadier, like his skin finally fits him properly. He props himself on his elbows, and both the axis of earth and his stomach stays where it’s meant to. Thank you, healing factor.

Matt would want him to stay at the apartment, but Peter needs to find the others. He slips out of the apartment and tracks down the Mexican restaurant with relative ease.

The restaurant is empty when he arrives. Plastic tables and chairs lay on their sides, where customers shoved their way out in a blind panic. Glass crunches under his boots. The desserts cabinet and one of the red, bulbous light fixtures have been shattered.

Matt ducks out of the kitchen before Peter can go looking for them. He levels Peter with a reproving stare. “You’re unwell.”

“I got better,” Peter says. He hops over the bar, and slides around Matt into the brightly lit kitchen. Shredded lettuce and specks of blood are spattered over the tiles. A metal door is firmly shut beside a counter of hastily dropped cutlery. Furious shouts and thumps echo from behind the door.

“Peter,” Matt begins, like he’s going to stop him. Peter shakes his head and tip-toes around the bloody lettuce.

As Peter picks his way across the kitchen, a leg kicks out from beneath the industrial sink. A balding man sticks his head out, and shrieks wordlessly behind his duct tape gag. He’s stripped down to his boxer shorts and a singlet drenched with sweat, tape wrapped around his wrists and ankles.

Peter drops to his knees, and pulls the makeshift gag off. The man hacks and spits out a mouthful of blood.

“Spider-Man! Thank god, there’s a maniac in my freezer. He burst in here with a gun, screaming something about his friends being hurt. I’m the manager; he grabbed me, and—” The manager chokes up. He wriggles further out from beneath the sink, and presses his bound wrists to his forehead as he sucks in desperate breaths.

“It’s okay,” Peter says. “I won’t let him hurt you. What did he look like?”

“He wore a mask. He was red, and he had these swords strapped to his back.” The manager looks over Peter, to where Matt hovers behind the massacre of lettuce. He fumbles for Peter. “Daredevil arrived halfway through, and then he just stood there and watched.”

“You really had to ask what he looked like?” Matt says.

“Maybe one day the universe will surprise me. Maybe you guys will exceed my expectations in a good way, for once.” Matt scoffs, and Peter points at him. “What about you, huh? I thought I asked you to help.”

“I stopped him from jumping an innocent man, and then helped him call up the actual culprit and trick him into coming here. Some jealous ass from Wade’s past.” A shout, bitten off and a little wet, echoes behind the freezer door. Matt doesn’t even guilty. “I made him agree to not kill anyone, and rein in the torture a little bit.”

“A little bit,” Peter repeats. He scans the bound man for injuries, and then stands. “I’m putting a stop to it.”

Peter opens the freezer door with such force the edges are dented around his fingertips. Inside, boxes of frozen meals are tipped over and destroyed. Wade holds a katana in one hand, a fork in the other, and is slashing out at a half-naked man with the latter. The man bears his red splattered teeth at Wade, and kicks out with his feet. Wade kicks him in the thigh, and then drives the fork into the vulnerable space behind his knee.

“Hi, honey,” Wade says without looking at Peter. He pulls the man up by his ponytail, and presses the katana there. Blood wells up beneath the blade. “How was work?”

“Wade, let the man go.” Wade laughs. The man thrashes in his grip, the katana against this throat slick with blood. “I mean it. You aren’t my enemy, don’t make me fight you.”

“I’m doing this for us, pumpkin. Some people—” Wade tugs on the man’s ponytail. “—don’t understand that when I say stay the fuck away from certain people, it means I will peel you like a cheese stick and feed you your own skin through your ass.”

Matt—leaning against the doorjamb, deceptively casual, like he’s not ready to intervene at the smallest misstep—makes a noise in the back of his throat, and says, “Disgusting.”

“I don’t care how fucking jealous you are that I actually have friends, you stay the fuck away from these guys.” Wade waves the katana under the man’s jaw. “Got it?”

The man grits his teeth. He looks beyond Wade, to Peter, and starts speaking in rapid French. Peter assumes it’s French, at least. Unlike a good chunk of the hero community, understanding foreign languages is not something he’s good at.

The katana skims the man’s jaw. His eyes are wild, his words slurring and growing louder and louder. Wade unlatches a gun from his waist. Matt straightens up, strides past Peter, and knocks the man out with one solid punch across the face.

“No killing,” Matt reminds Wade. He wipes his knuckles against his stomach, staring at Wade and the gun dangling from his limp hand with disdain.

Wade stares down at the sprawled unconscious man. He kicks him with his steel toe boots, and swears under his breath for a full minute.

“Excuse me.” The manager pops his head in through the freezer door, hopping in place. He shrinks under Deadpool’s gaze.

Matt takes Wade’s katana, and heads for the manager. He yelps and stumbles backward, falling onto his back, trying to scuttle across the tiles with his ankles and wrists bound.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Matt says in his Daredevil voice, low and throaty.

“I am the night, I am justice, I am not here to slice up innocent managers who no one would notice were even missing, because I’m a huge pussy,” Wade mocks in a deep voice. He kicks at the unconscious man again. “Are you sure I can’t—”

“No,” Matt and Peter say together.

Matt kneels beside the manager. Using the katana, he neatly slices the tape off. The manager rubs at his blotchy wrists, his gaze flicking from Matt, to Peter, to the long katana, glinting dully in the fluorescent light. “Can I call the police now?”

Wade points at Matt. “Dead bodies can’t tattle, Magoo.”

Matt points the katana at Wade in return. “Don’t push it.”

Wade grips the blade and tugs it away from Matt. His hand drips with blood around the sharpened edge, but Wade barely notices his hand being sliced open around his own weapon. The manager looks like he’s about to cry.

Peter looks around at the blood splattered freezer and kitchen, the foodstuff and cutlery split out on the tiles, the bullet holes speckled across the freezer’s back wall that were either shot there by Wade before Peter arrived, or came with the terracotta coloured walls.

Peter scrubs a hand over his face. “New York is starting to forget about my latest batch of collateral damage. They don’t actively hate me right now, and I would like to keep it that way. There is bloody lettuce out in the kitchen. How do we explain bloody lettuce to them?”

“We don’t need to explain nobody to anything,” Wade says. Matt looks like he’s about to correct his grammar for a moment, before snapping his mouth shout.

“A restaurant full of people saw you with a gun,” says Peter. The manager is slowly inching for the door, but Matt wraps a hand around his forearm and hauls him back. “You threatened to kill an innocent man, who then saw you beat up and also threaten to kill another man.”

Wade whines. “He’s evil, though! That doesn’t count.”

“The law doesn’t work like that,” says Matt, who would know.

“If we dumped them both in the Hudson—”

“No,” Matt says.

“Oh, god.” Peter leans against a pile of boxes. They’re in the freezer, but he feels overheated all of a sudden. “People see the red suit, and always think you’re me. They’re going to think I did this.”

“Maybe if we it explained it nicely to them?” Wade says.

“Who would listen to us?”

“Actually…” Peter fishes a crumpled piece of notepaper out of the waistband of his suit, and flattens it out. “I think I have some people in mind.”

 


 

 

Det. Jake Peralta bursts through the restaurant doors with a flourish. Wade waves a violent purple drink at him from behind the bar. Jake wilts. “You’re not Spider-Man.”

Peter pokes his head out from the kitchen. “Finally, someone who can recognise the different between us. Our suits are red, but they’re not identical.”

Jake stiffens, his eyes going wide. “Ohhhh, my god.”

Det. Rosa Diaz pushes her way into the restaurant behind him. She takes in the smashed glass and errant bullet holes, the two men in full body spandex, the tipped over chairs and abandoned meals, and slowly reaches towards her belt. Wade pulls a gun on her before she can grab either her pistol or her phone.

“Oh, come on,” Peter says. “Don’t pull a gun on the people I called in to help us. Don’t pull a gun on anyone, actually, but especially not these guys.”

Wade puts away the gun. Jake and Rosa stand stiffly in the doorway. Neither looks especially friendly or willing to cooperate, despite the furtive glances Jake keeps sending his way.

Peter rounds the bar. “Sorry about him. He’s a little trigger happy, but he won’t actually hurt you. I’ll make sure of it.” He holds out a hand. “I’m Spider-Man. You’re Gina’s friends, right? Thanks for coming out.”

Jake makes a nose in the back of his throat, punched out. Rosa looks a little disgusted, and says, “You guys actually do know Gina? I saw the tweets, but I was beginning to think she’d hired actors or something to trick everyone.”

“How do you know we’re not actors?”

Rosa eyes the bullet holes, Wade’s festered, pockmarked skin—visible where he’s hiked up his mask to guzzle raspberry vodka straight from the bottle—and says, “Just a hunch.”

Jake says, “You’re Spider-Man.”

“Jake Peralta, right?”

Jake turns to Rosa. “Spider-Man just said my name.”

She levels him with an unimpressed stare. “I know. I’m right here.”

“Say Rosa’s name, next.” Peter cocks his head, birdlike. His hand wilts in front of him. Jake looks horrorstruck at the idea that he’s left Spider-Man hanging, and snatches up the hand, shaking it up and down with a respectable firmness. “It’s an honour. I’m a big fan.”

“Me, too,” Peter says reflexively. “I mean—it’s an honour to work with you, too. Not that, you know. I’m a big fan. Since you’re strangers, and I’ve never met you, and it’d be very weird if I was a big fan.” Peter snaps his jaw closed. Rambling, again. “Sorry.”

Peter takes his hand back. Being in front of the two detectives is odd; Jake is puppy-like in his enthusiasm, almost bouncing in front of Peter, but Rosa is unmoving and unimpressed, arms crossed over her chest as she takes him in.

“You’re not what I was expecting,” Rosa says finally. “You’re… younger.”

“Rosa Diaz, right?” Peter asks. She nods, and ignores Jake slapping her on the shoulder, excited that Peter has said her name. Her lip twitch upward, even if she tries to hide it. “I exfoliate; it keeps me youthful, and the mask gives me acne like you would not believe.”

“You should see what the mask has done to my skin,” Wade comments from behind the bar.

“We’re glad to see you’re okay, Spidey,” Jake tells him. Rosa eyes up Wade, like she’s considering telling him off for filching alcohol, but thought better off it. “After the videos, we weren’t sure.”With a sinking stomach, Peter asks, “What videos?”

Jake, sensing Peter’s growing dread, tries to wave it off. “No, nothing. Nevermind. Don’t worry about it.”

“You stumbled around New York drugged for hours, you think there aren’t videos?” Rosa asks. Jake shoots her a look.

“Oh, god,” Peter says. His memories are still hazy, barely there, but damning enough. “I humiliated myself again, and it’s all of YouTube?”

“You should really be used to it by,” Jake tries. Peter cups his hands over his face. He wishes the radioactive spider had gifted him with invisibility, too.

Rosa cuts in before Peter can unravel any further: “What’s the situation here?”

Peter sucks in a deep breath, steadying himself. He gestures towards the kitchen. “It’s this way. Follow me.”

 


 

 

The manager clings onto the towel wrapped around his shoulders as he recounts his story. When he gets to the part where Wade burst in, accusations and bullets flying, Peter winces.

“That doesn’t sound very heroic,” Jake says slowly.

“That’s why we called you in,” Matt says. Jake still looks a little wide-eyed whenever his gaze flicks to the vigilante (lingering over stomach, oddly enough). Rosa looks like she’s undressing him with her eyes. “We believe you can handle this professionally and with the upmost discretion.”

“Look,” Jake says, spreading his hands defensively, “I’m a fan. We both are, even if Rosa hates admitting that. But we’re not going to look the other way if you’re doing the wrong thing.”

Matt’s lip twitches upward. “Good. We wouldn’t work with corrupt cops.”

“That’s not why I called you,” Peter says. “I just wanted someone who would process the crime scene without it becoming…” He makes a complicated gesture with his hands.

“A shit show,” Rosa supplies. She points at Wade. “We’re going to have to arrest him, but it seems like you, at least, came in after everything went down and tried to diffuse the situation. What about Daredevil?”

“A hapless civilian trying to calm down a maniac with a gun,” Matt says without flinching. At everyone’s incredulous expressions, he cocks his head. “I don’t carry a gun, what was I supposed to do?”

“Oh, I’m borrowing that one,” Peter says. He folds his hands together under his chin, and adopts a sugary sweet tone. “I don’t have any weapons, officer! What could I, a defenceless citizen, have done here?”

Jake frowns. “I don’t think that works when you have superpowers.”

“When would you ever even need to try that?” Matt asks. “When have you ever sat back and let something just happen without intervening?”

Wade gasps. “Be more sensitive about his origin story, Magoo!”

“You babysit the three stooges,” Rosa tells Jack, and opens up the freezer door. She wrinkles her nose at the stench of blood, and gets out her gun.

Jake looks around at the kitchen; the lettuce and puddled blood has been swept up to the best of their ability, and the manager is sat on a metal countertop, redressed and shivering under a repurposed towel.

“Do you guys have an Instagram?” Jake asks. “I want to get in on the ‘superheroes follow me on social media’ club.”

“Why would I, a living, breathing ball-sack, join a site that’s 90% selfies?” Wade says.

Matt looks disapproving at the idea of social media. “We’re vigilantes with secret identities. We’re not on Instagram.”

Peter pulls out a chipped, secondhand smartphone. “I have an account!”

“I’m already following you,” Jake admits. “I love the selfie you took with Dr. Doom. Hi-larious.”

“He threw me into the ocean for that one. Worth it.”

“He has an Instagram account,” Matt says under his breath as Peter sets about finding Jake’s account and following him back. “Of course he does.”

“Oh, Gina has one, too! I’ll follow her, as well. Wow, you guys take really cute office photos.”

Jake shrugs. “We have fun.”

“Pumpkin, like Gina’s selfies for me,” Wade says. Peter angles the screen his way so Wade can see the photo of Gina at a local nail salon. Wade shakes Matt and Peter by the forearms. “We are getting mani-pedis after this.”

From the depths of the freezer room, Rosa calls, “Jake, we’ve got a live one!”

Jake pockets his phone, pulls out his gun, and vanishes into the freezer room. Matt points at the back door with a jerk of his head. Wade plants a wet kiss on Peter’s forehead, and then Matt’s. He disappears into the restaurant proper and returns, alcohol bottles clinking gently in his arms. With a cherry wave at the three of them, he slips out the back door.

“That’s just excessive,” Peter complains to Matt. “His hyper metabolism won’t even let him get drunk.”

“Shouldn’t you two… stop him?” the manager asks.

“Who?” Matt and Peter say together.

“The gun totting maniac?”

“Who?”

Jake returns, and curses. “Where’s Deadpool?”

“Who?” Peter asks.

The manager points at the back door. “He went that way.”

“We’ve called an ambulance,” Jake says as he makes for the back door, the nozzle of his gun pointed at the ground. “Stay here.”

When the detective has gone, Peter turns towards the manager. “They probably called for back up, too. Let’s get you inside the restaurant where it’s safer.”

“Is it safer there?”

“Oh, absolutely.”

Peter escorts the manager into a booth and pours him a glass of water. He makes sure the man is settled and nicely recovering from shock, and listens as he babbles his thanks to Peter over and over. Peter pries himself away from the man and returns to the kitchen. Jake crashes in through the back door, sans Deadpool.
“Lost him,” he pants, sweat beading at his temples. He looks around the kitchen. “Where’s Daredevil?”

“Who?” Peter asks.

Jake says, “Stay here. Seriously. We still have questions for you.” He runs into the restaurant to look for the manager and the missing vigilante. While he’s gone, Peter steps over the clumps of dried out lettuce, and slips out the back door.

 


 

 

“Gina followed me back,” Peter announces. The words come out jumbled, his face pressed into the arm of Matt’s couch. “Hey, she liked my photo of Jameson tripping down the stairs.”

“I’m surprised Jake still follows you after we ditched them like that,” Matt says.

“Hero worship knows no bounds, Matt.”

“You would know.”

Peter flops onto his back. Wade throws a chocolate covered pretzel from his place on the floor, and it lands in the folds of his oversized hoodie. Peter fishes it out, and pops it in his mouth. He freezes, mid-chew. “This are new, right? I’m not having another food ruined for me.”

“I threw out all my food, just in case,” Matt agrees. “Wade did a food run run.”

“Still pissed about the Capri Sun?” Wade asks through a mouthful of pretzels.

“I mean, I guess?” Peter fiddles with the hem of his borrowed hoodie. “We were so stressed for ages about being drugged, and it’s over now, that’s good, but… I don’t know. It seems too sudden, almost. Like someone is still out there.” Peter scrubs a hand over his face. “I’m too keyed up and paranoid.”

Wade fishes a pair of sunglasses out of his utility belt, and slots them on over his mask. They slip a little, sitting diagonally across his eyes. He mimes shooting Peter with finger guns. “That’s because it kind of is sudden, sugar cube.”

“It always feels a little strange when crimes are solved,” Matt reassures, “but we really are fine, now, Pete. There isn’t anyone else out there. You don’t need to stress.”

“No, I meant sudden,” Wade says. “The author is very tired, and this fic was always just going to be a bunch indulgent bullshit, and Peter’s new movie comes out in a few hours.” Wade clutches his hand over his heart. “Hours, Mattie. I’m going to wet my pants. Tom Holland is a baby-faced sweetheart.”

“What,” says Matt.

Peter looks from Matt to Wade. “What movie?”

Wade throws his hands into the air. “Roll credits!”