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Bad Timing

Chapter Text

Gwen kicked her feet up over Peter’s lap and smiled at him, “You mind?”

He shrugged and said, “You’ll do it whether or not I mind, so why do you even ask?”

Her grin widened, and she stole the remote to scroll through the menu. Nothing was on so he let her flick. She paused on some BBC show he’d never seen, and she became immediately invested. Setting the remote down, her mouth opened slightly and she licked at her lips, shifting to get comfortable.

“What is this?” Peter said, grabbing a pillow to hand it to her. As the Info bar faded, he noticed that the episode was old—she’d probably seen it before.

Obviously he was right because she actually responded; were she truly invested, she’d have shushed him. “Orphan Black,” she said without looking. “Sh,” she said. He rolled his eyes. Right on both accounts.

He slipped out from under her feet, “I’m gonna go to the corner store. We need milk.” He leaned down to kiss her cheek and she allowed the motion but immediately pushed him out of the way to peek around him.

“Grab some tampons while you’re there, please,” she still didn’t look at him, which he was lucky for—had she seen his blush, she’d have mocked him for sure.

On the way out, he checked his timer. It still read 01d 14h 02m 54s and it just kept ticking down. He sighed, wishing—not for the first time, and probably not for the last—that Gwen was his soul mate. Her timer was blank, and while she liked to say that it didn’t bother her, he knew that she often wished he’d been hers as well. She was more logical than he was though—so her life had been spent mostly ignoring the entire concept of timers.

Her mother had bought her one on her fourteenth birthday, and she’d had to be forced into the chair for the surgery. She had this running belief that everyone had multiple soul mates. A romantic soul mate, a platonic soul mate, a musical soul mate, and her list went on and on. So why should she have a timer that counted down to the meeting of just one? Besides, she'd said in a particularly cuddly mood, Peter was the only soulmate she'd ever need.

Her timer was set up to 345d when it had been installed, but it woke her up one night just after her seventeenth birthday with a weird beeping sound. “It was just blank,” she’d said and he hadn’t needed any further explanation. He’d heard enough horror stories before to know what a blank timer meant. “Another worry off my shoulders,” she’d said. But Peter also knew that she’d cried for the girl or boy she’d lost that night. She’d had the timer uninstalled first thing in the morning.

Peter was different; he’d grown up excited to receive his. His parents had been soul mates before they died. His aunt and uncle were too for that matter. He’d waited until his eighteenth birthday to buy one with the money he’d carefully saved up just for that purpose. When he’d had it installed, he was already dating Gwen. She had never explained the missing timer to him, too passionate about her disbelief to tell him the truth. He knew there was a possibility his would be blank, but that’s exactly what he wanted. Blank meant his soulmate didn’t have a timer. And no timer would confirm his suspicion that Gwen was his soulmate.

When the timer turned up with numbers, he hadn’t known what to do. His first idea was to break up with Gwen, but that hurt too much to even debate and he shut the idea down before it could haunt him. When he told Gwen, she sat him down and apologized for letting him hope. Then, she told him she’d understand if he wanted to leave, but she wished he wouldn’t. “You can’t sit around waiting, hoping that what you might have with this John Doe will be better than what we have right now,” she’d said. “I understand what this count means to you, and I’ll understand if you need to end this. But Peter, I love you and I know we’re soul mates, no matter what a silly precognitive count-down tells you.”

And he’d stayed. He had to. She’d been right.

That didn’t mean he didn’t wish the count-down would go blank every day.

At the store, Peter picked up the milk, and cringing, grabbed the tampons as well. He successfully avoided eye contact with the cashier, and hurried home. On the way out, he even thought to pick up a movie at the Redbox one block over.

When he returned, Gwen wasn’t on the couch. He called out her name and received a reply from their shared bedroom. He found her at her desk, typing something—assumedly work-related—on her laptop.

He dropped the box of tampons on the desk and unceremoniously sprawled himself across the bed. She laughed, “Have any trouble?” He groaned into a pillow, and after a moment she joined him on the bed. She crawled onto the mattress, pressing a kiss onto his shoulder blade. “Thanks, Peter,” she said. “You know how much I appreciate this, right?”

“I’m pretty sure you just like to fluster me,” he said, turning his face to the side to look at her—as well as to make his words audible.

Gwen nodded and sat up with one leg propped up so she could rest her chin on it. Peter eyed her grin. She was so smug about this. He’d need to rectify that. He tugged her leg out from under her, successfully pulling her whole body down so he could crawl on top of her. She gasped, but started giggling when he pressed his fingers along her sides and began tickling her. “Peter, stop,” she laughed, swatting at his arms.

Years of exercise as the friendly neighborhood Spider-man had honed his muscles, so he was able to brace himself against her weak movements. He moved his fingers faster, and her legs came up as she tried to curl her body in and away from him. Gwen laughed helplessly underneath him. “Peter,” she gasped. He grinned and dropped his weight onto her, earning a grunt and a relieved sigh as she tried to regain her breath.

Peter moved off her, lying beside her and interlacing their fingers. Gwen leaned over and pressed a kiss against his jawline which he returned by bringing her hand up to his own lips. Just as he was about to kiss her palm, she jerked it out of reach. He grunted and turned his head to stare at her. She’d turned their hands over so his wrist was facing her. Using her free hand, she traced a finger over his timer.

It was his turn to jerk his hand back.

Beside him, Gwen sat up, pressing her back to the headboard and tucking her legs up under her, “It’s getting close, huh?” Her voice was soft, almost sad.

He turned over to watch her. Normally so confident in her actions, Gwen’s eyes were downcast and her position reminded him of that of an insecure child awaiting a parents’ scolding. Peter swallowed and rolled over. He sat up so he was facing her, his hands on her knees. “Gwen,” he said.

He didn’t get any further because she interrupted him, “I’m fine.” She coughed and repeated it, her voice deeper and more sincere, “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Worry about your timer.” She closed her eyes, and when she reopened them, she was smiling, “And your soul mate.”

Peter’s hands went to her jaw, angling it to kiss her. “You’re my soul mate,” he whispered against her lips.

Gwen pulled away, “Not your only one.”

Sitting back, Peter nodded. The silence surrounding them was deafening.

01d 13h 24m 29s

The timer kept counting down.

Chapter Text

Waking up gracefully wasn’t one of Peter’s tendencies. Gwen, on one hand, actually no. Gwen was sometimes worse than he was. That really left no one to compare, but think of a Disney princess, okay? Imagine how Cinderella or Snow White or Ariel woke up in the morning. Got it? Now think of the exact opposite and that was Gwen. She often had hair in her mouth and—because usually she fell asleep with her face in a textbook, and Peter was forced to pick her up and bring her to bed—make-up dried to her face in what Peter was forced to say (because he really did love her) was the cutest most gorgeous kind of way.

Peter, on the other hand. Well, if Gwen was a monster, then Peter was that monster’s ugly henchman with the hunchback and warts. More often than not, he woke up growling and/or yelling. He never remembered his dreams, but it seemed as though they were of the nightmare sort.

Suffice to say when Peter woke up that morning, it wasn’t pretty. Gwen was missing from bed, which Peter was always grateful for. He hated being so awkward and gross in the morning in front of her. He got up slowly, rubbing at his eyes and looking around for where he’d thrown his socks the night before. He only started moving faster when he heard a shout from the other room.

“Gwen?” He said, running out…to find her slumped against the kitchen counter. Well, not quite the dramatic horror scene he’d construed in his mind.

She looked up at him with big doe-eyes. It was hard to take her seriously with such a theatrical pout on her lips especially when she looked so cute wearing it. “We’re out of coffee,” she said, sliding to the ground with a groan.

Peter tried not to laugh, he really did. But Gwen was suddenly glaring at him so a small snort must’ve come out. “Fine, fine,” he said, dropping to the ground in front of her. He placed his hands on both of her knees, “Let’s go out.” She looked up at him, “Sound good?”

“I haven’t showered,” she said; her eyes were clouded in what Peter had learned to be thought.

Peter patted her on the knees and stood up. Reaching a hand down for her to take, he pulled her up, “Just put your hair up and throw on a sweatshirt or something. No shower looks lovely on you.”

Gwen smiled and pulled a hair-tie from her wrist. She threw her hair in a bun and crossed the apartment toward their bedroom. “Want one?” She shouted over her shoulder. Peter knew she’d choose the ugly brown one so he followed her in. Putting his hands on her shoulders, he kissed the side of her neck. She squeaked at the feeling and shivered underneath his touch. “Your hands are cold,” she said.

Peter grinned, lips still touching her skin. He breathed her in, her hair still smelled like yesterday's shampoo, grapefruit and lemon. His grin softened and he drew back. Gwen resumed combing through the closet for a sweatshirt. “Not that one,” he said when her hands touched the brown one. She grunted but moved down to the black one beneath it without a word. She tossed it at the bed while Peter grabbed yesterday’s jeans from the floor.

After they dressed, Peter grabbed the house-keys and followed Gwen out the door. As they left the building and crossed the sidewalk, Gwen leaned into him and interlaced their fingers. Peter felt his lips pull up into a smile. Even without any make-up, or shampoo, or whatever other science-y voodoo she normally used to make herself the enchanting vision he’d fallen in love with, Gwen was still beautiful. She caught him looking at her and scrunched up her nose. “Stop,” she whined, burying her face in his shoulder.

They avoided Starbucks when they noticed how long the line was (and because Gwen was currently in the middle of some kind of science-related feud with the CEO—don’t ask). Instead they ended up in the mediocre shop two blocks further down the street. Tourists usually chose familiar names, so there were only a handful of actual customers in the place, and no real line.

There were actually only two customers in front of them, and one was finishing up their order. He—or who Peter assumed was a he due to his dramatic height and broad shoulders—wore a big red hoodie with stains riddling the back. He also had his hood up indoors, which Peter thought was just rude. The cashier smiled awkwardly at him as she handed him a brown cup and pointed at the stand of sugars and creamer. He moved away, and Peter blinked, having been fascinated by the man’s large back… and well… his ass. Sure, he was in a relationship, but he could look, right? Okay, he felt guilty. So he cleared his throat and squeezed Gwen’s hand. She smiled and said something about her order as the person between them and the large man stepped up to the counter.

He was smiling at Gwen when his Spidey-senses alerted him into moving a foot back. The large man bumbled right through the place he’d just stood. Peter tried to meet his eyes before he passed, but the hood was still up, so when he turned toward them, all Peter saw was a well-defined jaw hidden in darkness.

Ding.

Peter looked down, eyes wide, smile slowly fading into a gasp. His timer had gone off. The man glanced down at his own timer, then at Peter. There was a silence coating the entire coffee shop that Peter had never felt before. Everything froze and he was too much in shock to decide whether it was just a mental thing or if everyone had actually gone silent. Then the man, dropped his coffee, which splashed across Gwen and Peter’s legs. She jumped away with a shriek, and Peter gasped, thanking whatever religious deity was out there that the asshole had bought iced coffee.

But those prayers died before he could utter them when the man took off. He ran out the door before Peter could say a word. “Wait,” he called uselessly. Gwen reacted first, sprinting out the door after him. But Peter’s gaze followed the man across zig-zagging traffic and around a corner. He was gone. Gwen’s shoulders slumped, and she looked back at Peter with a grimace.

Peter didn’t know how to feel. He’d waited all his life for that stupid timer to go off, and now that it had… he hadn’t even seen his supposed “soul mate.”

Gwen trudged back in, a frown on her lips. “I’m sorry, Peter,” she said. “Are you okay?”

Peter couldn’t look at her. “He just ran,” he said, voice a whisper. Gwen looped her arm through his, sliding her head onto his shoulder in what was probably meant as a comfort. He should’ve pushed her away. He should’ve been upset, angry even. But he was almost…relieved? He’d never wanted anyone but Gwen, and now he had no real choice but Gwen.

His soul mate had run off, and here she was, comforting him. If there ever were a true soul mate meant for him—it had to be Gwen. She was so supportive, and trusting, and loving. She loved him knowing he wanted a soul mate. She even comforted him over said soul mate.

“You okay?” Gwen repeated, rubbing his chest.

Peter allowed the smile that had been building to appear on his lips, “Yeah, I actually am.”

Gwen squinted up at him. Her mouth opened to say something, but the barista at the counter loudly swore and completely destroyed the moment. “Again?” She whined, leaning down to pick up the empty cup the man had dropped.

“Wait,” Gwen’s eyes widened with a clarity he rarely saw outside of her work. She ran up to the counter, and said something. Peter narrowed his eyes, picking up only fragments of their conversation.

When she returned, she was grinning. “Wilson,” she said like she was giving him a gift.

Peter eyed her, “What?”

“Exactly,” Gwen said. She pulled his hand into both of hers, “Wilson,” she repeated. “That’s his name!”

“Now, don’t say exactly as if your train of thought makes sense to anyone else,” Peter said. But he allowed a small smile to grace his lips nonetheless, “Is that all you got out of her?”

Gwen shrugged, “She only remembered that cause she saw it on his wallet when he dropped it accidentally.” Peter squinted at her. Gwen looked giddy as she continued, “He gave us so much information in just two interactions!”

“How so?”

“Well,” Gwen started, ticking the info off on her fingers as she went along. “Obviously one of his names. Probably the last though, considering how uncommon it is to write your first name on things to showcase ownership. He’s clumsy, or more likely has anxiety of some sort given his slippery fingers, and the hood he used as a shield. He’s tall, probably our age or older, hopefully not too much older,” she grinned at him, but Peter just rolled his eyes. “He’s faceless, so let’s take out big named celebrities, and he’s local cause he knows about this place.”

Peter nodded, looking at Gwen but not really seeing her. That was a lot. That was potentially enough to find him. They didn’t have a face, or a real name. But they had this. And maybe it would be enough. They had Wilson.

Wilson.

Chapter Text

Peter slumped onto the couch as soon as he could reach it. Gwen shut the front door behind her. Rolling over, he set his empty coffee on the table, sliding it so it was closer to the middle and no longer within reach. He could hear the pad of Gwen’s feet tip-toeing across the floor just before she jumped on top of him.

He grunted under the sudden weight, eyeing the smile on her lips. It didn’t touch her eyes.

“Hey,” she said, shifting to get comfortable in his lap. She slid her legs over his hips so she was straddling him, then took one final sip of her coffee and set it down beside his. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pressed herself into his chest, “Hey.”

She was trying to comfort him again. Peter fisted a hand in his hair and dragged it through with a sigh. He bent his other arm at the elbow to lay it on Gwen’s back, “I’m fine.”

“Yeah?” She said, breath whispering across his skin. She pressed a kiss to his shoulder blade and sat up a bit to catch his eye.

Peter nodded again. Still smiling at her, he used his free hand to mime a stretched-out smile for her, “See?”

She nodded back at him, tilting her head. Then she smiled back and sat up fully. He reached out to brace his hands over her hips and keep her from losing her balance. “Alright,” she said, putting a finger to her lips in thought. “We could probably find this guy.”

“Who?” Peter asked then shook his head, “Oh. Wilson? Why?”

Gwen squinted at him and crossed her arms over her chest, “We spoke about this earlier. I’d have thought you’d want to actually meet you soul mate, Peter.”

Peter bit the inside of his lip to keep from responding too quickly. He wasn’t sure whether it’d have been an affirmative outburst or a negative one. He was too conflicted. He wanted Gwen, but he’d grown up wanting his soul mate too. And she was presenting him with the option to meet the guy.

“Actually, now that I think about it… Is it cause he’s a well, he? Is that why you’re so blasé about the whole thing?” Gwen rubbed at her nose unconsciously and Peter tried to keep the grin from his face. She was so adorable.

He coughed into his fist and shook his head, “No, I’ve well—I’ve known that I’ve liked guys for a while.”

“What?” Gwen said, her lips straining into a full shit-eating grin, “You’ve known you liked guys? You realize I am 100% female right? Like 100% not a guy?”

Peter chuckled and her smile softened. He shifted beneath her, causing her to wobble a little on his lap. “You know what I meant. Do I need to put a label on it, really, Miss People-Are-Whatever-They-Want-To-Be?”

Gwen shook her head, leaning forward to brace her hands on his chest. “I’d just like to know a bit more firmly. Like are you gay with a side of Gwen—”

“Oh, speaking in the third person now, are we?” Peter grinned.

She pinched at his chest causing him to squeak in pain. “With a side of me,” she said through stifled laughter. “Like demi-sexual kinda? Or are you—”

“What’s demi-sexual?”

“Stop interrupting me,” she hit him again to make her point. “Demi-sexual is when you have to know the person first. Or are you pan or bi or—” She bit her lip, clearly in thought. Peter opened his mouth to speak again but she glared at him so he shut it, miming his hand zipping his lips. She rolled her eyes and he grinned up at her. She was so easy to tease. “I get it if you don’t want to label yourself, but are you leaning toward gay or bi? Or just a neutral zone like demi?”

Peter shrugged, “Probably bi, if any. I’ve liked both sexes.”

“Okay, okay,” she sat back again and Peter had to scramble to shift them into balance. He slid back so his back was fully braced against the couch, and Gwen could rest comfortably in his lap vs. the balancing act they’d been doing earlier. She shifted as well and Peter had to grunt and bite his tongue to ignore the way her ass dragged against his—cough—nether-regions. “So, Wilson is probably his last name.”

“You said something similar earlier. Why are you so sure he wouldn’t use a first name?” Peter pressed his fingers against her thighs, drawing circles and shapes on her skin.

Gwen gave him that look. Ya know, the one that said—Peter, what the fuck, you big dumb idiot? Everything I’ve just said is completely obvious. Get on my level—he just swallowed and nodded at her to continue. “He was wearing a hoodie in this weather? It’s like 80-something out today.” She stretched against him to glance at the temperature gauge on the wall. “It’s 87 degrees! In New York City. It’s humid and hot and muggy out on the streets, and he was in a packed coffee house buying black coffee—aka the least refreshing coffee on that menu.”

Peter raised an eyebrow and she sighed dramatically. He rolled his eyes when she looked away, “Do I have to spell it out for you? He was insecure.”

Peter said, “So?”

“So,” Gwen stressed the syllable, “So, my dear Peter, he’s insecure—”

“You just said that.”

“—he’s probably got anxiety, like I said. So he got scared and he ran. He’s not just gonna give out his first name like that,” Gwen snapped her fingers. “He’s gonna use a last name, assumedly not a fake, to avoid scrutiny.”

Peter nodded, finally catching up to her train of thought, “Ah, But what if he just used a fake?”

“He didn’t,” Gwen said, climbing off his lap. Peter felt a brief loss of warmth but he sat up, eyes following her out of the room. She was still talking as she moved, her voice lifting in volume as she struggled to be heard from the other room, “His name was ‘Wilson.’ That’s such an easy, simple name. It’s not a famous person, or a casual ‘Mike’ or ‘Smith’ or something he could just say to get it over with.” Peter heard a few items drop and he stood to go help her. She ran back into the room just as he’d started stretching his arms over his head.

He dropped his hands to his sides and sat back on the edge of the couch, scooting over a few inches to allow her to collapse to the ground on his right. She carried several large books—phonebooks, he noticed when she dropped them to the table. She almost knocked over their drinks in the process, and he had to reach out and catch them just before they fell.

“Maybe he’ll be in the dictionary or some of the online databases,” she spread the books out, flipping through them to the back W’s section. She groaned and he looked over her shoulder to see what she was looking at. She flipped back through a few sets of pages—they were over 300 matches for the name ‘Wilson’ alone. Gwen looked back at him, pouting.

He grinned, “You know you don’t have to do this, right?”

“I’ll be faster and more thorough that you,” she said, looking back down at all the names. Peter leaned in and pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

“I’m gonna go out while you get a start on this,” he said.

“Patrol?” She called after him as he opened the door to their bedroom and began digging through the closet for his costume.

He pulled the red and blue costume from behind Gwen’s dresses and set it on the bed so he could take off his clothes, “Yeah, just for a few hours.”

He tugged the tight costume on and went back out to say goodbye to Gwen. She had moved to lounge across the couch while he’d changed. She turned to meet his gaze, “Be careful.” She leaned up so he could peck her on the lips.

“I always am,” he said. He left through the bedroom window.

Chapter Text

Peter sat on the edge of a rooftop just as the sun was setting. Business was slow today, he thought with a hint of a smirk. He should probably just go back and check on Gwen. She had a tendency to go crazy with research. Hopefully she hadn’t gotten too worked up yet.

He stood and shook out his legs. He moved to jump from the roof just as he heard a scream; he groaned. Then, a gunshot. His annoyance was pushed aside as he spun and webbed his way back the way he’d come.

He hit the wall just around the corner from the noise and peeked around. A man in a red suit had two large guns pointed at several people scattered across the alleyway. Peter groaned again, why couldn’t it just be Matt in a bad situation? Why, oh why, did it have to be the crazy dude?

The Avengers had warned him about Deadpool—well, everyone had. Logan, Steve, even Tony had made a point to give him a heads-up.

“He’s crazy,” Tony said, waggling one finger in a circle.

“Fucking lunatic; he won’t leave you alone,” Logan said.

“Son,” Steve said, putting a paternal hand on his shoulder. “He’s dangerous. I wouldn’t want a nice kid like you getting entangled with the likes of him.”

The last one had been pretty patronizing, like sure Cap was older than him. But it was really only like 10 years or so. He didn’t have to be such a dad about it. Anyway, Peter had yet to happen upon the mercenary in action. He’d heard his name; hell, he’d even seen his picture in the SHIELD offices. But he’d never encountered him, and while he’d heard what the Merc was like, he didn’t know what could be believed. He didn’t know what to expect.

It sounded as if Deadpool was taunting them, “Ya pansies, I thought you were supposed to be tough! Feels like I just entered the game on easy mode,” and most of the men on the ground appeared to be either unconscious or slumped in defeat. Peter swallowed, sucked in a breath and dropped to the ground.

“Hey,” he said, barely gaining Deadpool’s attention, “Stop.”

“Well, if you say so!” Deadpool flicked a glance over his shoulder at him, then did a double-take. He grinned—how did his mask even move like that?—and turned to face him fully, somehow managing to keep his guns trained on the other men. “Wait! Hey! You’re Spidey, right?” he asked, “Man, I’ve heard about you but wow! Didn’t figure you to be so short and lithe.”

Peter rubbed at the back of his head, feeling flustered and sheepish. Was he flirting? “Um thanks?” He dropped his hands to his sides and webbed Deadpool’s guns from his hands, “Safety first.”

Deadpool pouted, putting his hands on his hips and wobbling his lip out—through his mask again? What the fuck! “Hey, don’t play with my toys, baby boy. I don’t particularly like sharing.”

“Don’t call me that,” Peter muttered, and bent to check one of the men for a pulse. There was none, and now that he was close-up, he could just make out the smudge of blood pooling up beneath him. “He’s dead,” Peter said, his voice came out a whisper, but Deadpool heard anyway, and snorted like he’d told a joke. “You killed them.”

“Duh,” he said, shrugging.

Peter gritted his teeth underneath the mask. He was talking to a child. A murderous child at that. Honestly, he just wanted to get home and talk to Gwen and now he had to deal with this. “I have to turn you into the police,” he said.

“Wanna give me my guns back first?”

Peter turned to him, glaring and hoping his mask gave his expression away like Deadpool’s did.

“What? Want me to ask nicely?” Deadpool leaned forward, and Peter tried to remain still and unintimidated. “Pretty, pretty please with cherries on top will you give me my fucking guns back?”

“No,” Peter spat. “No, I’m not gonna give you your guns back. You’ll kill the rest of them!” He tried to gesture with his hands but he ended up waving them around like a frantic lunatic—which he honestly felt like.

“Or,” Deadpool said, leaning against the wall and moving his arms around behind his back. Peter shifted into a fighting position, ready to web him down if he so much as moved a step toward him. “Or,” he repeated and Peter could practically hear the italics, “I could kill them like this.”

He moved faster than Peter had expected. He drew two katana swords and spun them around like a mad-man—like a samurai—like a crazed mercenary who Peter probably couldn’t—shouldn’t—handle alone. He slid them through the necks of the only two live men before Peter could use his web-shooters.

“I always feel like Michonne when I do that,” he said. He turned and grinned back at Peter, “What can I say, baby boy? Mama’s gotta eat.”

“You can make money other ways!” Peter said sharply, sauntering forward and poking Deadpool in the chest. He backed the man up until he’d hit the wall and was smirking down at Peter. “Don’t just put on a costume and kill people.” He stepped back, thinking about what he’d said. “What’s the point of the costume anyway?”

Peter swore Deadpool’s eyes darkened—but then, that wouldn’t make any sense because the only ‘eyes’ he could see were two big white ovals on his mask. The Merc stepped around him. He bent down over a lifeless body and used their coat to clean the blood from his swords. Peter tried not to sneer. He really tried.

When Deadpool turned back to him, Peter almost expected Deadpool to use the swords on him. Instead, he sheathed them behind his back and grinned, “Come here often?”

Was this guy serious? One second he was all brooding and dark, the next he was—flirting? Was he flirting? What the fuck. He’d expected some dangerous, evil super-villain from what the Avengers had said—this guy was… well, he was dangerous and obviously he killed for a living so he was pretty good at it too. But he wasn’t exactly evil. Peter pursed his lips and leaned against the wall Deadpool had just vacated. He thought about throwing some dumb quip at the guy, instead he said, “Are you serious?”

Deadpool’s grin widened—he looked pretty crazy right about then. Maybe there was some truth to Tony’s words. He shrugged, “Too cheesy? Would you prefer dirty or classic?”

Peter straightened, forcing down the blush that was rising to his cheeks. Thank god for the mask. “What?” He sputtered, “Are you actually trying to flirt with me?”

Deadpool tilted his head and squinted. He said, “I’m gonna go with dirty.”

Sirens picked up in the distance and Peter pulled himself from the wall, “Stay here.”

Deadpool’s head was pointed in the direction of the sirens, “Nah, baby boy. I gotta jet. Nice catching up with you though, yeah? Let’s hang sometime under better circumstances.”

Peter blanched, “Like when we’re not surrounded by headless corpses you killed?”

“You just get me,” Deadpool offered him a thumbs-up and took off running. “Swing by anytime,” he paused at the base of the alley and leaned on his knees for support. Peter could tell he was shaking from laughter, “Ha! Get it?”

Peter shook his head again as he turned the corner and disappeared. He could track him down, but Peter had a feeling he was better off out of the guy’s way. He squinted at the bodies surrounding him. This would have to change sooner rather than later.

He hoped he’d never see that lunatic again, but somehow he just knew that wouldn’t be the case.

Chapter Text

Peter got home close to 2am after dealing with the police. He expected Gwen in bed, but she’s awake in the living room, scouring a page of names with pure concentration. Peter padded up behind her, minding the quiet. He pressed his hands to her shoulders and kissed her neck.

“Peter,” she said, her voice muddled like she was close to sleep. “What time is it?”

Peter looked at the clock just over his shoulder, “1:47am, Gwen. Come to bed.”

She yawned, and set her notes on the table. She turned to face him fully, a sleepy smile spreading across her lips. “Talk in the morning?”

“Yeah,” Peter said, lifting her to her feet and helping her to their bed.

Once she was splayed across the bed, he helped her out of her socks and grabbed a t-shirt from the drawer. She pulled off her clothes, making grabby-hands for the shirt he was holding. After a minute of struggling to get it over her head, she curled up on the bed and he lay down beside her, pulling her against him.

“Night,” she mumbled into his t-shirt. He smiled into her hair.

Gwen woke him up with a start. She sat up quickly and smacked their heads together. He woke up with a groan of pain, “Ugh, are you okay?”

He watched Gwen nod through the curtain of his hair. It was all disheveled from sleep and hung in his eyes. She sat up fully, pulling her legs into a cross-legged position, “Sorry. I thought I was late.” He eyed her and she turned bright red, “Not for that, you pervert!”

“I’m not sure that’s necessarily ‘perverted.’” Peter said, sitting up as well. He leaned back against the headboard and glanced at the clock, ‘9:36,’ it read.

“I thought I was late for work, doofus,” she deadpanned. She stood up and padded to the closet, grabbing a towel and floating into the bathroom.

Peter pulled his legs up from under the sheets and braced his hands on them. He sat there a minute, trying to find the energy to move, and then stood, stretching dramatically. He collected Gwen’s papers off the coffee table and looked through her research. That’s where she found him ten minutes later, once she’d dressed.

“I haven’t found much,” she said. “But I’ve narrowed it down to about 100 options.”

Peter flipped a page over, “What kind of name is Wade?”

Gwen shrugged, and with a laugh, said, “All I can think of is Kim Possible.”

Peter raised an eyebrow, not quite catching the reference, and continued to look through the pages. Gwen sat down next to him, leaning against him to better see the names he was looking through. “Is this a woman?”

Gwen looked where he was pointing, “I dunno. Could be? Sam’s kind of a gender-neutral name.”

“Wait,” Peter blinked, “I think I know that name from somewhere.” Gwen turned to him, waiting for the light-bulb. It didn’t come. He bit his lip, “Or maybe not…”

A week went by seemingly close to normal. Peter went on his nightly crusades, and took photos for the Daily Bugle in the meantime, and Gwen went into Oscorp and kicked ass. Nothing new really arose from the soul mate search, as dumb as that sounded. Peter almost forgot about it, after all… he had Gwen.

Gwen was in the kitchen making coffee. He heard the bubbling start up over the sounds of the TV. He was barely paying attention to the news as it was. Some fire had started the night before and Spider-Man had heroically saved the day. Peter smirked, he knew all the rest. The coffee maker beeped, and he looked up. Gwen was standing in the doorway staring at him. He did a double-take, not having expected her to be there.

His eyes roamed her face; she looked distressed and anxious. “Gwen?” He grabbed the remote control and muted the television, “What is it? Are you okay?”

“What about us?” She blurted, her hands shifted at her sides but she clenched them and remained steady. He knew it was out of her habit to cover her mouth when she spoke out.

Peter blinked, suddenly sick to his stomach, “Us?”

Gwen sighed and pushed off the doorway. She sat next to him on the couch and pulled his hand into her lap. She played with his fingers as she spoke, “Listen, I’m helping you do this cause I know how much it means to you, and you deserve to actually meet the ‘soul mate’ you spent hundreds of dollars on.” He opened his mouth to correct her, but she pinched his finger and he shut his mouth. She splayed his fingers across her thigh, fiddling anxiously. “But what about us? What about you and me?”

Peter looked down and away from her. He swallowed, “I don’t—”

“I get it, Peter.” She said, smiling. It was a small tilt of her lips and it didn’t reach her eyes, “I really do. But what’s gonna happen when you meet him? Are you going to be with him? What?” She searched his eyes for something—anything. But he just shook his head. She said, “I want you to meet him. But I think you need to remember us. Remember me, okay?”

The coffee timer buzzed again and she stood up to go get it.

Peter sat there. He didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t known what to say. He didn’t say anything! He just sat there like a pathetic loser while Gwen’s heart broke right in front of him. He put his head in his hands; he was honestly the worst.

Gwen passed him as she went into the bedroom, and he almost expected her to slam the door and make a scene. But he also knew she wasn’t like that. Gwen was quiet, and understanding. She knew he was hurting in this as much as she was. He heard her feet move and then she stopped behind him.

She shuffled around the couch, dropping something to the floor on the way. She put her hands on his shoulders and when he looked up; she leaned in and pressed a chaste kiss against his forehead.

“Gwen?”

She smiled, but it still didn’t touch her eyes. Her clear, beautiful, blue eyes. “I’m gonna sleep at MJ’s for a little while so we can spend some time thinking about this.” She pulled away and picked up the object she’d dropped. Peter’s heart dropped, it was a suitcase. “But I’ll email you updates, okay? We’ll keep searching.”

Peter reached out to try and pull her back, “Gwen, no.”

She was at the door, coffee in one hand, suitcase in the other. “It’s better this way. Just take some time to think.”

Scratch that—he’d had Gwen.

And now she was gone.

Peter dropped his head back into his hands. A few tears slipped from his eyes, and then he was sobbing.

He’d done nothing to stop her.

Nothing.

Chapter Text

Instead of sulking around the empty apartment all day, Peter showered and changed into his costume. He stood in front of the window for a second. Everything in the place reminded him of Gwen, and he just had to get out. For a day… a week… however long it took her to come back.

He’d call her the next day—find out if she was alright. Mary Jane was a lot of things. But gentle and comforting were not really any of them.

Peter sighed—he’d probably never see his soul mate again. He wanted Gwen. As curious as he was about who his soul mate actually was—or, more importantly, why he’d run off—he wanted Gwen more. He grabbed onto the window ledge and swung out.

After what felt like hours of scouring the city for something to do—but was probably more like 20 minutes—he stopped on a roof and sat down. He swung his legs off the edge of the building, and leaned backward to rest his elbows behind him. It was hot out today—he needed to start thinking about creating a more heat resistant costume. It would need to be durable, yet lighter so that he could get away with crime fighting on a day like that.

“Spidey!”

He looked up, momentarily forgetting his train of thought. Deadpool was standing behind him, grinning. He rolled his eyes beneath the mask, he honestly had no idea how the deadly mercenary could give his mask such vibrant facial expressions.

“What d’you want, Deadpool?” He said, facing forward again. It was usually quite dangerous to turn your back on the enemy, but while Deadpool was crazy, deadly, and obnoxious, he wasn’t a backstabber…figuratively or literally.

“Aw,” he heard Deadpool’s feet move and then the Merc was beside him. Deadpool dropped down to sit next to him, leaning on one elbow and—did he just flutter his eyelashes? What the fuck? “Is someone down in the dumps, Mister Grumpy-Spider?”

Peter once again, rolled his eyes. He said, “I’m not in the mood.”

“Doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure that one out!” Deadpool swung his legs back and forth childishly, and then elbowed Peter in the side. “Get in the mood. We’ve got work to do, Scoobs!” He wiggled around and winked, “Unless you wanna get in the mood in a different way? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.”

Peter gaped, what was with this guy? There was no way he wasn’t flirting with him. Putting the latter comment aside, Peter said, “What work?”

“There’s a robbery on ninth,” Deadpool said, resting his elbows over his thighs.

Peter scrambled to his feet, “What? Let’s go!”

“Ah, wait. Avengers are on it,” Deadpool shrugged and leaned back to mirror Peter’s previous position. “Thought bubbles have Police Radio now. I was thinking Sirius would be more their style, but they wanted action, adventure, they said! So, police radio it was. And here I was, hoping for a little more Nicki, maybe some Rihanna.”

Peter raised an eyebrow—then realizing Deadpool couldn’t see his facial expressions, sat back down and asked, “What?”

“Nothing,” Deadpool said, grinning like a child.

Peter faced forward again. He had no clue what Deadpool had been going on about—but he’d said the Avengers were on it. And he was probably right. Tony had the best timing when it came to robberies and police radio. He always had Jarvis on it. And a little robbery was nothing the world’s best superheroes couldn’t take care of.

He leaned back, relaxing back into his previous position. He still missed Gwen. God, he should’ve said something! He should’ve stopped her, or fought for her or… something. He just sat there like an idiot and she probably thought that meant he didn’t want her and—wait. Why hadn’t he said anything?

Did that mean he didn’t want her? Had he been unconsciously trying to tell himself to let her go? She was perfect, amazing, literally the epitome of everything he’d ever wanted—and yet, was she too good for him? Did he really deserve a woman so well put together as Gwen?

She was smart beyond compare, easily sliding up the ranks at Oscorp. She was gorgeous, and he’d felt jealous more than once or twice as men flirted or eyed her up when they were out together. But she was also loyal—more loyal even than anyone he’d ever met. She stayed with him when her dad died, when they’d opted for different colleges, and even came back after the brief stint where he tried to date Mary Jane. It hadn’t gone over well, but Gwen had been there all along. And not even in the creepy weird wait-around-for-you kind of way. They’d split on good terms, and when six months passed without making either of them happy, they’d met back up and talked it over.

Was this a repeat of the past? Would they meet back up and get together after this whole soul mate business finished up. No. They shouldn’t even wait. He should call her immediately and apologize and explain that he didn’t care and—no.

They did need time apart. He needed to think. Was Gwen too good for him? Should he move on and let her go? That’s what her father had wanted him to do when he’d died, but Gwen had convinced him that it wasn’t her fathers’ decision. It was the twenty-first century, and she didn’t need Peter and her father to protect her “like misogynistic slave-owners trading me off to the safest bidder. I can protect myself, so don’t worry about hurting me again, or I will hurt you worse than you ever could,” she’d said. He’d swallowed down any complaints, and while he still worried, he let it be her decision to stay.

And here he was… hurting her.

“Wanna talk about it?” Deadpool asked, Peter almost jumped, having forgotten he was even still there. Had he been quiet the entire time? That was unusual. And now he was being—sincere? Peter let it slide with only a roll of his eyes.

He said, “No, I don’t wanna talk about it. Least of all to you.”

“Wow, rude,” Deadpool grunted. “I’m trying to play therapist and you’re jumping down my throat.” It was odd to see such a large man pout. He was at least a good 4 inches taller than Peter, and his arms were huge. He was basically a walking, talking mass of muscle.

“I’d rather you not play therapist, thank you very much,” Peter said. He wasn’t in the best of moods, and Deadpool wasn’t gonna cheer him up.

Deadpool stood, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force…” He paused and Peter dropped his head into his hands, knowing what was coming, “As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

“Are you serious right now?”

“Nah, but there’s a guy trying to rob an old woman in the next alley,” he said, shrugging and pointing behind him.

Peter hopped up and sprinted in the direction he’d pointed, “Come on!”

“Aw yeah, team up!” Deadpool shouted behind him, and he just knew that were he to glance back, the huge man would be fist-pumping.

Deadpool caught up quickly; his legs were so long that his steps nearly doubled the space Peter covered with each stride. He saluted Peter then jumped from the roof, plummeting to the ground faster than Peter could stop him. He let out a cry of surprise, “Wait!” As far as he knew, Deadpool had no powers so how could he—

When Peter got to the edge of the roof and dropped down, Deadpool was on the ground, leg twisted and definitely broken, “You idiot!” He slapped Deadpool in the side of the head, and bent down to look at his leg, “Let me—” Deadpool shoved his hands away and moved his hands down to clutch at the leg. He then twisted it back into place with a crack that had Peter wincing, “Hey!”

Deadpool shushed him, and with a grunt, stood up. He limped for a second, then stretched out his joints and gave Peter the thumbs up. Peter gaped. “Healing factor,” Deadpool said with a shrug.

Peter let out a dramatic sigh, actually feeling relief collect in his stomach. He breathed in deep, “You fucking asshole! Are you serious? Why didn’t you say something?”

Deadpool shrugged—for what Peter felt was the millionth time, “I mean I figured you knew.” He looked over his shoulder then back at Peter, tilting his head, he said, “So, you wanna catch that guy or what? Cause I think he’s gone.”

Peter threw his hands up in the air, “What the hell!”

Deadpool walked to the end of the alley and peered around. Peter followed him. The woman in question had her purse back and was thanking some random tall man for—assumedly—rescuing her purse. He sighed and leaned against the wall. What was next?

“I dunno. There might be another burglary a couple blocks over if we can assume that guy wasn’t doing a one-stop-rob?” He looked up—had Deadpool just read his mind? Did he have that power as well? “You’re talking aloud,” Deadpool said. Peter leaned his head back hard, smacking it against the brick wall behind him.

“Of course I am.”

“So, did your girlfriend break up with you or—?”

Peter looked up again, Deadpool seemed sincere, but he honestly didn’t know enough about the lunatic to assume anything. “We’re not talking about this.”

“Right now or ever?” Deadpool leaned against the opposite wall. “Oh, check it out! The thought bubbles said there’s a shooting a few blocks up!”

Peter sent a thank you to whoever was out there that Deadpool’s thought train had been derailed. “Which way?”

“It’s not gonna be much. Just a handful of guys two blocks up. Maybe a little action, then we’ll just be sitting around for the rest of the day.” Peter stared at him, and when he didn’t move, Deadpool said, “Maybe we could get tacos?”

“You’re assuming this ‘team-up’ is gonna be a regular thing.”

“Is it not?”

Peter tilted his head back and let out a blurt-laugh, “Of course not! You’re stalking me. I don’t want you around.”

“Stalking is a bit strong a word,” Deadpool said, strolling out of the mouth of the alley and onto the streets. Peter raced to match his stride.

“What? Are you just gonna walk there?”

Deadpool glanced at him, “I don’t have fancy web-slinging powers, man. It’s my only option. Maybe I’ll buy a new bike with next week’s paycheck. But for now, I’m hoofin’ it.”

Peter shook his head. This guy was honestly more than he could take. He walked to fights, he jumped off buildings and didn’t care whether or not he broke every bone in his body, he even flirted with him like it was just another thing to do! For all Peter knew, he was planning on turning around and actually stabbing him in the back.

“No killing,” Peter said, his voice barely above a whisper.

Deadpool glanced at him again, holding his gaze with those oddly-expressional white eye-covers. They weren’t even holes! How could Peter see every emotion like that? “Didn’t quite catch that, baby boy?”

“Stop calling me that,” Peter muttered. He crossed his arms over his chest, avoiding Deadpool’s stare like the plague. “I said, ‘no killing.’”

Deadpool laughed at him, “Sure thing, baby boy.”

“I said—” They turned a corner and there they were, the mouth of the alley where the gunshots had been heard. There were tons of them. More than a handful—unless a handful was about seventeen people to Deadpool, which Peter honestly wouldn’t be surprised about. How big were his hands again? Peter didn’t even think about comparing his own size to the man—it would be too painful, plus he had to move. And fast.

And then they were actually fighting. Everything happened so quickly. It wasn’t a little shooting, as Deadpool had claimed. Almost everyone had a gun, and things moved too fast for Deadpool to slice and dice. Peter had to move, lunging forward to take out the first guy with his legs around his neck.

Deadpool cheered him on somewhere behind him, “Maybe try that move on me later, Spidey!” Peter ignored him—forcing his loud voice to the back of his mind as he instead focused on the fight on hand. Deadpool’s swords were spinning, and as uncomfortable as Peter was with the killing, there was nothing he could do in the moment but take as many out as possible before Deadpool could cut them up.

Peter slung a web to attach one guy to the wall, and he turned around to take care of another guy he’d seen going for Deadpool’s blind spot. He didn’t even notice the guy to his right. Deadpool noticed a second too late, the bullet was already lodged in his shoulder. He hit the ground, his knees collapsing out from under him. He could only just barely catch himself before his face collided with the ground. Everything went blurry.

Deadpool was shouting something he couldn’t hear somewhere behind him. There was still movement and the guy was running toward him, but his fingers slipped on the bloody cement and his head hit the ground—hard.

He’d never been shot before—his last thought before the world went black.

Chapter Text

Gwen sat at the counter, smiling at him. “Hey,” she said when he walked toward her. “How’d you sleep?” The ground shook around them.

He grunted, grabbing onto her wrist—more to comfort himself than anything. She was solid. She was there. “Earthquake?” He said, looking around the kitchen. Nothing moved or fell, but when the shaking stopped, and he let go of her wrist, she was gone.

“Gwen?” He was yelling her name, screaming it. He said everything he hadn’t before.

She was still gone.

He woke with a start, and when he shot up, his head banged into something. There was a grunt and he scrambled to move from his current position—that was when he realized he was being carried.

“How’d you sleep, Aurora?” Deadpool asked, maniacal grin in place. Peter rubbed at his head where he’d bumped it into Deadpool’s chin. He was too concentrated on what Deadpool had said to speak. That was almost exactly what Gwen said in his dream. Deadpool must’ve interpreted his silence as confusion, because he said, “Like Sleeping Beauty? Briar Rose? Blonde lady who needs to be kissed? Ringing any bells?”

“Shut up,” he said, and shifted around. He moved his shoulder a bit to try and lean away from Deadpool and that was when the pain took over. He shouted out, pain coating his entire body with red. And there he’d been, just about ready to protest being bridal-carried.

“Slow down, Flash,” Deadpool grunted, and he followed his own advice by slowing and coming to a stop. Peter opened one eye—where the other was squeezed tight in pain—and looked around. They were on a rooftop and if he was guessing right—they were only half a block from the best taco joint in Manhattan.

Peter said, “Stop with the pop culture references and set me down!”

“You sure about that, Baby boy?” Deadpool said, raising an eyebrow. He shifted his weight to the other foot when Peter nodded, and he gently—really? Since when was this lunatic gentle?—set Peter against the raised-cement fence around the roof. Peter groaned and scrambled to reach out for something to hold onto. His shoulder hurt like nothing he’d ever felt before.

He couldn’t really see the ledge, so he squinted around, and ended up grabbing at Deadpool’s elbow by accident. Why was he just realizing it was dark out? Wait—on that note, since when was it dark? Dark meant night-time and last he knew it was definitely day-time. “How long was I out?” He asked, unconsciously still holding onto Deadpool’s elbow.

“It’s been weeks, Rick! I thought I’d never see you again! So, you should probably know I’m sleeping with your wife…” Deadpool said, shifting around while never moving out of reach from Peter’s grip. He nodded his head seriously.

“What,” Peter said, “the hell are you spewing?”

Deadpool grinned and straightened, “Are you telling me you don’t watch The Walking Dead? Aka AMC’s number one drama. AKA the most popular television show in cable history? AKA—”

Peter cut him off, “Shut the hell up. As I said earlier—stop with the pop culture references! Geez! What shows don’t you watch?”

“Would you like me to—”

“It was rhetorical,” Peter said, cutting him off again. “But seriously, how long was I out?”

“A few hours at least,” Deadpool said. Peter moved off him, finally realizing how long he’d been holding the merc’s elbow. He grabbed the ledge, his fingers scrabbling around before getting a good grip on the cement. Deadpool swallowed, straining his neck up to examine the sky. “I finished up the fighting, after making sure the package was safe, of course.” Peter almost asked what ‘the package’ was, but from the way Deadpool was leering, he assumed it was referring to him. “And then it started getting dark, so I set you up a few roofs over and grabbed a few tacos, got some for you too, but you were still out so—I ate them.”

“Of course,” Peter leaned back, and then shot back up when the edge strained at his shoulder wound. Deadpool eyed him, reaching out a hand to assist him.

“Listen, kid,” Deadpool grabbed his uninjured arm and lifted him so he could lean against Deadpool’s chest. “Maybe you should take it easy? I can help you out with that shoulder, so just let me carry you back to my place and I’ll bandage you up nice and good.”

Could he not feel the blood seeping into his suit, and were he not experiencing the most painful bullet-wound—and probably matching concussion—Peter would have said ‘no.’ He’d have scolded the merc for even trying to help, and would’ve limped home—rather pathetically at that—but at least he’d have his egotistical pride still intact. But in this case, he had to allow a nod. He had to let Deadpool lift him back into a bridal-carry. And he had to grunt through the jostling as Deadpool sprinted home—wherever home was.

Home, it turned out, was a brick building just about three blocks up from his and Gwen’s apartment—he tried not to cringe at the thought of Gwen, and pushed forward. It was decent-looking from the outside, but when they got inside, it was a disaster zone. The walls were beige, and the carpet was grey—there was no real atmosphere or personal feel to the apartment. There was trash everywhere, from empty fast food containers to used tissues to (assumedly) dirty clothing strewn across the floor.

Deadpool had entered through the bedroom window, and the bed—well… It was probably the cleanest piece of furniture visible—actually, it might’ve been the only piece of furniture in the room. There was a upside-down garbage can next to the bed being used as a bedside table, and a couple of boxes along the wall that looked to be posing as either drawers or clothes hampers. The bed was just two stacked mattresses and a black comforter carelessly thrown over—not even made up.

There were two doors on the far corner from the window, one was open and led out to a messy living area from what Peter could see. The other was closed, but Deadpool carried him toward that door, and once inside, it was obviously a bathroom. The light flickered a bit when Deadpool turned it on. He kicked the toilet seat down and set Peter atop it. This room was fairly clean. There were a few dark stains in the shower, and it was as tiny as it could be without overlap, but it wasn’t covered in trash. The sink sat atop a marble countertop which had seen better days, and the drawer beneath it was missing its doors.

After setting Peter down, Deadpool disappeared through the door, and Peter took the time to remove the top-half of his costume. Said costume was already trashed, so he reached for the scissors abandoned beneath the sink and cut the front open. He cut down to his waist, and easily pulled his uninjured arm free, but the bullet-ridden arm became the hard part. He must’ve been shot multiple times, he realized as he peeled the suit from his bloody skin.

There were three entry-wounds that he could see—and possibly others where he couldn’t. There were two less than an inch apart on his shoulder, and one just above his elbow. He was almost surprised—he’d only felt the first bullet hit. After the costume slipped past his elbow, he was able to shift free and the costume fell around his waist like a cape.

That was just about when Deadpool appeared. He lingered in the doorway for a second too long, but shifted into motion once Peter glanced up at him. And did Peter just see him swallow? He was carrying bandages, antiseptic, and medical tape. There was also a towel thrown over his shoulder. He set the supplies between Peter’s feet and the bathtub, and grabbed a bottle of rubbing alcohol from beneath the sink.

Peter’s first thought when Deadpool’s hands rose to the wound—was about how gentle they were. He’d removed his gloves and watched his hands, which also surprised Peter, and he was using a washcloth to blot the blood from his skin. His second thought was regarding how long it had been since Deadpool had last spoken. He hadn’t said a word since they’d entered the apartment and Peter couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.

He hated most of what came out of Deadpool’s mouth, but that didn’t make the silence any more comforting. It was unnerving, actually. It was odd and Peter wanted him to say something—anything, but he couldn’t think of anything to breach the silence.

He chose to instead watch Deadpool as he moved his hands and sterilized the wound. He was delicate, and careful. The way his mouth bunched up a little at the mouth gave Peter a hint that he’d stuck his tongue out near the bottom corner. His hands, which Peter hadn’t really noticed until they pulled back to grab a needle and medical thread, were deeply scarred. They were red, and the skin was patchy in places like he’d survived a horrific accident.

Peter removed his gaze, worried Deadpool would feel uncomfortable about the staring. He instead starred at the space just above Deadpool’s right shoulder and remained so throughout the cleaning and bullet-removal process. He grunted, and whined every once in a while, but was still for the most part.

Finally after what couldn’t have been less than a year, he removed his hands and sat back. “Done,” he said, and stood up. Peter almost smiled after going so long without noise, but the word had felt tense—forced almost. It wasn’t sung, or said with any hint of flirtation or pride. It was just that—said. And that further unnerved Peter.

He starred at Deadpool until the merc backed out of the room and ran out into the living room, and then he glanced down at the wound. Deadpool had cleaned any remainder of blood from his skin, and the stitches, while zig-zagging and somewhat messy, weren’t tight or uncomfortable. They were actually perfect. The wounds were somewhat discolored and Peter knew they’d probably bruise.

He stood, wobbling on his feet before regaining his balance and stumbling out after Deadpool. “Hey,” he said, turning the corner and finding the living area empty of ordinary furniture. There was a TV, a lazy-boy, and a shelf of dusty books. There was a lamp near the chair, and one table to hold a phone, but other than that, the larger-than average living room was empty—scratch that, empty aside from all the trash coating the floor.

There was a final door leading to a dark kitchen, and Deadpool was at the kitchen table. He waved when Peter leaned against the doorway. “Hey, baby boy. How ya feeling?”

Peter didn’t have the energy to be mad at the nickname. He yawned and that seemed to be answer enough, because Deadpool stood and walked toward him. Peter almost jerked away when he placed his still-uncovered hand to his forehead. Obviously satisfied, he lowered the hand to Peter’s shoulder and turned him around. He walked Peter back to the bedroom, “Beddy-time for you, little Spider.”

“What? No,” Peter’s protests were weak and he divided to protests with sequel yawn, thus defeating his case. Deadpool grinned and walked him toward the bed. He pushed Peter onto it, and when Peter scrambled into a sitting position, leaned down and removed the matching boots from his costume. Peter allowed Deadpool to push him back onto the pillow, and even let him swing Peter’s legs onto the bed, but protested again just as Deadpool headed for the door. He yawned through his words though, “Your bed.”

“Nah, you take the bed.” Deadpool jerked a thumb toward the living room. “I’ll take the chair. I’m not injured so,” he shrugged, “it makes more sense that you sleep comfortably.” With that, he disappeared, closing the door on his way out.

Peter was left alone with his jumbled up thoughts. He rolled onto his good arm, starring out the window they’d entered through. There were no drapes, but they were high enough up that it probably wouldn’t matter anyway.

Deadpool had been so gentle and un-obnoxious? Was that even a term? Well, if it wasn’t, it didn’t matter because that was the only thing that fit. He’d been comforting, and his touch was soft and healing. He hadn’t snarked over the bandages, and he had barely even groped Peter when he’d pushed him into bed. And on that note—Deadpool had given Peter his bed for the night. He hadn’t let anything happen to Peter. He’d taken care of him.

Maybe Deadpool wasn’t as horrible as he’d originally predicted.

More surprising things had happened.

Chapter Text

Peter blinked as the tall brunette taking his order at Starbucks opened her mouth and sang? Or was that even singing? How was she doing that? The sound out of her mouth was more instrumental than vocal, and it sounded just like—

He woke up as his ringtone screamed at him from somewhere under him on the bed. The sound went silent for a second, and then picked back up again, but he finally felt it vibrate near his right hip. He leaned over, wincing when he used a muscle in his bad arm, and grabbed the phone. It certainly was handy that he’d made a pocket for the damn thing in his costume.

He peeled his mask up to his forehead—really? He’d slept in it? Thank God he’d even survived the night. Sometimes when fighting it didn’t provide enough oxygen, he was anxious just thinking about having slept in it.

He didn’t check the ID on the phone, just hit the Answer button and put it to his ear, “Hello?”

“Peter?” It was Gwen’s voice. And she sounded frantic.

“Gwen,” he sat up, rubbing at his forehead—then immediately regretting the action because it caused stress on his shoulder. He lowered his arm back to the pillow, and backed up so he could sit against the wall (that constituted as Deadpool’s headboard). On that note, he abruptly remembered he’d slept over at Deadpool’s.

He looked around the room, everything was still normal. And he was alive, so that was pretty good. He wondered where Deadpool was then stopped and said, “What’s up?”

“What’s up?” She snapped back, her voice piercing his skull. He ripped the phone from his ear, staring down at it. He could still hear her with the phone in his hand. “What’s up? Peter, I’ve been calling you non-stop for an hour! I tried the landline, Aunt May’s, even the Bugle! No one had heard from you!”

“I’m fine,” he said, rolling his shoulder and ignoring the injury. He popped the joints in his neck, and brought the phone back to his ear, “Why’re you so worried?”

“The news is reporting that Spider-Man got shot last night! Officials said he was spotted with an unknown hero fleeing a street brawl! They said you lost a lot of blood!” Peter shook his head, this would be fun. “No one knew if you’d even survive! Peter, I thought you might be dead.”

Peter sighed, “Well, I’m not. I’m sorry for worrying you.”

“Are you okay?” She said, her voice settling back to a gentle whisper. She was still riled up, but she was trying to maintain her cool, he could tell from the air she sucked in at the end of the question.

“I’m fine, I mean, yeah. I got shot, but it’s been taken care of. Just a few stitches,” he said, shrugging. Another wince—he needed to remember that god damn shoulder injury. Hell, he was talking about said injury and he still moved as if it were no big deal!

Gwen paused before speaking again, “What do you mean ‘taken care of’? And who was that guy you were spotted with?”

Should he tell her? He’d mentioned Deadpool before, but not having met the guy. Gwen might flip. She knew of him, and she’s probably heard about the way he killed. He sighed again; he had to trust that she’d be fine with it. He had to trust her. He did trust her—he just didn’t want her to worry unnecessarily. He said, “Deadpool.”

She sucked in another breath, and he continued before she could start scolding him, “Listen, I know what you’ve probably heard, but I’m being careful. And the guy’s not as bad as they’ve said. I mean, he stitched me up pretty good, and even let me sleep here.”

“You’re at his house now?”

“Geez, Gwen. You don’t have to whisper, we’re not on some covert mission.”

“We might as well be,” she said back. Her voice was tense again—probably with worry.

“Well, I’m sorry, Oracle, but I’m gonna have to tag you out on this one. I’ve got it,” Peter said, shaking his head for the nth time. He leaned his phone between his ear and good shoulder and used his hands to crawl to the edge of the bed and assist in swinging his legs off. Once on the ground, he stretched out his back and grabbed the phone again.

There was a commotion in the background on the phone. Where was she? Maybe at work? He was about to ask but she cut him off, “Sorry, Dick, but I’m gonna have to take jurisdiction on this case. Aren’t I the computer genius? You’re just the errand boy with the nice ass.”

“I hope you’re referring to mine and not Nightwing’s now,” Peter said with a laugh.

She hummed as if mulling it over. He stood up and padded over to the door, peeking out into the living room. Deadpool wasn’t on the couch, but there was a noise in the kitchen like a plate dropping. “Let me think about it for a little while. I’ll get back to you on who’s the winner later.”

“Later?” He asked, interest peaked. Was she coming back?

She sighed into the phone, and it sounded as if she’d sat down wherever she was. “Listen, Peter,” she said. Nothing ever started with the words ‘Listen, Peter.’ “I’m gonna come by this afternoon. I wanna talk to you. I left yesterday without really saying anything, and you never said anything and I just think we have more to talk about.”

Peter sat back down on the edge of the bed, “Yeah, we do.”

“And I’ve also got some more info on your soul mate. I’ve narrowed the names down quite a bit,” she said. That changed things—but he didn’t know how.

“Alright,” he said. “I’ll be home within the hour.”

“Bye, Peter. Talk to you then.” She hung up before he could say he loved her.

Chapter Text

After Gwen hung up, Peter sat on the bed for a minute. What would they talk about? What should he say? He knew he had a lot to say, but he couldn’t piece any of it together in his mind. He needed Gwen, but she wouldn’t leave him even if they did break up. Did he just need her in his life?

He’d wanted to find his soul mate ever since he could remember. His life wouldn’t have been the same had his aunt and uncle gotten their timers in. And now that Gwen could help track his down, well—shouldn’t he do it?

He shook his head and stood up. He’d talk with Gwen later. They’d figure it out together. For now, he just needed to get out. He stretched his shoulder again, and debated swinging out the window, then remembered his costume was torn up the front. He could be seen and identified. He’d just had to go out the front door.

He went back to the bedroom door and peeked out. Deadpool was still missing. He could sneak out without a word. Deadpool would make things too hard if he tried to say goodbye. He’d be weird about everything, and Peter just wanted to get home and talk things out with Gwen.

He took a deep breath and slowly opened the door. It creaked once, and he froze, but nothing happened—no Deadpool sightings. So, he hurried to open it the rest of the way. He crossed the living room to the front door, reaching his hand out for the doorknob. He’d just spun it and pulled the door open when Deadpool’s hand braced itself on the top of the door and closed it again.

“Uh,” Peter said, “I can explain.”

Deadpool leaned forward, his chest pressing against Peter’s back. He shivered, uncomfortable with the feeling of his bare skin against Deadpool’s costumed chest. He wished he’d the rags that were the top of his costume—or stolen a sweater or something. “You’d better,” Deadpool whispered against his ear; his breath tickled against Peter’s skin, making him shudder.

Peter swallowed and opened his mouth but no excuse came, “I just—I don’t know.”

“That’s what I thought,” Deadpool said, still pressed against him. The hand not on the door drew up to rest on Peter’s hip. He eyed the appendage. His pulse jumped. Deadpool’s fingers splayed across his hip, then tightened. He said, “Let me check out your shoulder.” His hand gripped Peter’s hip in an attempt to turn him around.

Peter swallowed his words down, and said, “Why?” He shifted—not quite away from Deadpool. The hand still remained at his hip, and for some reason, he allowed it. “Why are you doing all this for me?”

He felt Deadpool shrug against him, and the hand tightened further. “Cause I like ‘ya, Spidey.”

Peter sighed and straightened his body out. He let go of the doorknob, and it spun back into place. He turned around quickly, bracing his back against the door—leaning as far away from Deadpool as he could get.

Deadpool’s mouth tightened into a line and he backed up. His mouth opened and closed like a fish, and he stepped back again. This time, his leg brushed up against the chair and he stumbled before righting himself and steadying himself with one hand on top of the chair. He turned away from Peter, “Actually, you should probably go.”

Peter raised an eyebrow, “What? But you just said—”

Deadpool cut him off, “Go.”

Peter opened his mouth to respond, but then remembered that this had been what he’d wanted. He’d been trying to escape just moments before. “Thank you,” he said and opened the door.

He slid into the hallway quickly, almost expecting Deadpool to change his mind and follow him out. He leaned his back against the door and let out a sigh of relief. That had been—weird, to say the least.

He lifted his good arm and ran it over his—wait. Face? His hand was touching skin. His eyes widened and his heartbeat picked back up. He’d never pulled his mask back down. So, Deadpool must’ve seen his face.

Oh God.

Swallowing down his worst fears, Peter decided turning around and interrogating Deadpool. He kicked off the door, and walked down the hall, tugging his mask down as he moved. His chest was displayed, but he hoped that he only looked like kind of a tool, as opposed to a full-blown tool box.

A door opened somewhere behind him as he approached the stairs, but he assumed it was just another neighbor. “Wait!” He heard, and turned to the voice. It was Deadpool, holding out a dark hoodie.

He tossed the hoodie to Peter, who caught it and held it away from his body to get a better look at it. It looked… well, actually clean. It was a dark red that matched Deadpool’s costume, and there was a large circular symbol on the back that Peter assumed was Deadpool’s. He glanced up to thank Deadpool, but the merc had already disappeared back into his apartment.

What a weird guy.

Peter pulled the hoodie on, making a mental note to thank the guy—that is, after he interrogated him for all he’d seen and what he planned on saying to the press. He zipped up the front, and looked down at himself. Well, now he just looked like some awkward nerd failing at cosplaying Spider-Man. Good enough. He shrugged, wincing when it irritated his shoulder. He rolled his arm around to better the wound.

One moment, Deadpool was leaning against him in a way that—he shuddered—whatever. In a way. Did it really matter? The point was sometimes Deadpool was all flirty and cool, the next he was abrasive and tense. The guy ran hot and cold faster than that dumb Katy Perry song. One minute, babbling and frantic, the next silent with soft fingers that guided the needle through his skin more skillfully than any doctor he’d come across.

And his touch had been so—Peter stamped down any feelings he had about that maniac. He was done with him for the moment. He needed to put his energy into Gwen. She might as well be on the way to his apartment at that very moment.

With that thought, Peter started walking again, almost humming in the process.

Gwen was coming back, he thought with a smile.

Chapter Text

He got home with only a few uncomfortable glances at his mask and hoodie. “Hey, Spidey!” Someone had yelled from across the street, “Laundry day?” He’d ignored the passersby.

Once safely inside his apartment, he braced his back against the door and let out a long sigh. The place was empty, but Gwen would be by soon and that was reason enough for Peter to stop pouting.

He took a hot shower, carefully avoiding getting soap in the wound all the while, and put on new clothes. He’d just sat down in front of the TV when the door opened. He’d left it unlocked for Gwen, even though he knew she still had a key.

She stood in the doorway once the door was open, and smiled at him. It was small and tight on her lips in an awkward way. He wanted her usual smile back. The one that was huge and delighted and kind of dumb. She looked so much prettier wearing a smile. She shut the door behind her, and he made room for her on the couch.

She set her purse and jacket on the coffee table, and sat facing him. “Hey,” she said.

“Hey,” he replied, echoing her. He shifted on the couch, pulling at his collar which suddenly felt much too tight.

Her eyes followed the movement then widened and she moved closer. “Take off your shirt,” she said, reaching out to help him.

Peter grinned sluggishly, “Right here, Gwen? How kinky…” He laughed at the look she gave him—a mix of sheer exasperation and impatience. He did as she asked, tugging the shirt off at an awkward angle to avoid irritating his stitches.

Gwen’s eyes were on the wound as soon as it was revealed to the open air. She moved closer still, fingers reaching out to touch his skin. Her index finger barely touched the bruise surrounding the wound, and said touch was almost too light for Peter to feel. But her skin was warm, and it made Peter’s chest feel lighter to have her hands against him again. Against his better judgment, he allowed a smile to curve on his lips.

When Gwen saw the motion, she mirrored it unconsciously, her fingers still resting on his shoulder. Peter pressed into her touch, and she pulled away. Her hand went back into her lap, but she remained as close as ever.

“Peter,” she said at the same time he said, “Gwen.”

They locked eyes, and then both broke out in matching grins. She chuckled and looked down at her lap, “Let me start.”

“No, let me,” he said, putting a hand over hers and waiting for her to meet his eyes. At her slight nod, he continued, “Gwen, I’m so sorry. I didn’t even speak up when you left and I feel like such an idiot!”

“I threw it on you out of nowhere,” she said, rushing to be heard. She collected his hand in hers, “You were speechless; it was completely understandable.”

He nodded, a smile making its way back onto his lips, “We do really need to talk.”

She smiled, but then it disappeared as quickly as it came. She said, “I think we need to break up.”

“What? Gwen—”

“No, Peter, I know you’re gonna protest, but it only makes sense. I think,” she paused, looking away from him, but her hands tightened around his. He swallowed around a lump in his throat, “I think it’s been a long time coming. We’re not passionate anymore. We’re not in love.”

The words came out of his mouth in a hurry, he said “I love you.” His heart was pounding. He couldn’t lose her. Not again.

She smiled sadly, still facing away from him, still not meeting his eyes, “I love you too, Peter. But it’s just platonic, don’t you see? We’re happy; I’m not saying that we’re not. We’re comfortable, we’re great! But we’re not in love. We’re not lovers anymore, Peter. We’re friends who are going through the motions. We’re doing all this out of habit.”

“Don’t say that,” Peter said, pulling his hand away from her. But even as he protested, he could see where she was right. When was the last time they’d had sex? When was the last time they’d made out for an extended period of time? They kissed, yeah, but it was only ever a peck at best. It was nothing. They’d been growing apart, as Gwen said, for a long time coming, but they both loved the either one too much to let go.

Gwen turned to face him, allowing their eyes to meet. He usually loved how open her eyes were. They were this translucent green that was almost blue at the bottom. They weren’t really bright or murky or anything in between—they were just so Gwen. “You’re not going to lose me, Peter,” she whispered, shifting closer and bringing her legs up so she was cross-legged.

She reached for his hands again, and he held on like she was the last remaining life-preserver on a sinking ship. He held on like she was his only oxygen. He held on like she was letting go. She tilted her head and brought their foreheads together, “I love you, Peter. I’m not going to leave you.”

“But you are,” he said. “You’re leaving me right now.”

His eyes were closed, but he could feel the smile that came to life on her face. “I’m letting you go.”

He opened his eyes and pulled his head back, “How is that any different?”

“Because you need to be with someone you love. That’s not me.”

“But it could be,” he said, tightening his hold on her hands and pulling them closer to him, “We could work at it. Bring the spark back.”

“I don’t think we can,” she said with such finality in her voice that it took his words away. He didn’t know what to say. She was right, but that was far from anything that would ever fall from his lips. Especially not in that moment. He didn’t want to let go, and not because she was wrong, but because she was right. And she was his safety, his security. With her, he had consistency. He had habits. He had familiarity. With a soul mate, he had none of that. His soul mate had taken one look at him and literally run in the opposite direction. Everything outside of Gwen was terrifying, because it was so up in the air. He knew nothing of what would become of him once he let go.

So, he said nothing. He just let go of her hand and drew it around her shoulders, tucking her head underneath his jaw and wrapping her in a tight hug. He was crying without realizing it, but so was she. When they both sat back, there were red rings around their eyes and tear-stains down their cheeks. He reached up and brushed away the eyeliner that had run down her face. She smiled, grabbing ahold of his wrist before he could pull it away, and pressing a kiss into the palm of his hand.

He closed his eyes, allowing a final tear to track its way down his cheek, then brushed it away, and blinked a couple times. He widened his eyes, and pulled both his hands back to wipe at his eyes. Gwen laughed at him, and he smiled back, nicking her in the jaw lightly with his fist.

She pushed him away, and sat back against the couch, leaning her side against Peter’s. “This isn’t it, ya know?” She said, “We’ll still be friends. We’ll still be together. Maybe after some time, I could even move back in here and we could just be roommates.” He nodded, not wanting her to leave, but knowing they’d need space nonetheless.

“Oh,” she said, sitting up and looking at him, “And I found out some things about your soul mate!”

He breathed in through his nose and put on a brave face, sitting up and cracked the kinks in his neck. “Shoot,” he said.

She reached for her purse and pulled out a small notepad. Inside, there was a list of ten names. “These are the final contestants.” She flipped the page, and showed him another list of—addresses? “And these are their places of residence.”

Chapter Text

They decided to wait a few days before going out to find Peter’s soul mate for several reasons. Firstly, MJ called and demanded Gwen come home and help her clean the apartment. Secondly, Peter needed a bit of time to come out of his break-up funk before jumping right into a possible new relationship. Gwen understood, and they agreed to meet back up in four days—Saturday to make a plan and go out on a man-hunt.

Peter sat on his couch minutes after Gwen had left and debated what to do. He spent a moment dwelling, and then hopped to his feet with no real plan. His feet, on the other hand, seemed to know exactly what to do. They carried him into the bedroom, and he stopped at the foot of the bed. Then his hands took over and he was peeling the sheets from the bed. He stripped the bed, and carried everything to the laundry room where he proceeded to wash and dry everything that had smelled of Gwen.

No sense dwelling over her when the break-up had been a mutual affair.

He then did all the dishes he’d abandoned. Gwen normally took that chore, so he’d left them without thinking. Afterwards, he took the vacuum to the rug and that kick-started the dusting, and when he was finally done, he’d cleaned the entire apartment.

He huffed out a breath of relief and looked down at his watch: an hour had passed. What the hell. Why hadn’t that taken longer? He shook his wrist, and noticed the notch was off, meaning the watch had stopped working. He blinked and leaned back to catch the time on the wall clock: okay, so two hours had passed. Big deal. Still nothing compared to how it felt.

He kicked at the edge of the couch, and laid down, peeling his watch off and tossing it at the coffee table. Maybe a nap would take up more time.

The day continued like that. He cleaned, napped, watched TV—and of course nothing was on—and debated going out. His shoulder still hurt when he moved it wrong, so he vetoed the final possibility before he’d spent more than a second on the idea. Eventually, he went to bed early. What a fulfilling day.

The next day—Wednesday—he went out in costume, if only to grab some pictures for the Bugle, which he then sent in and earned way too little for, as per usual. He should get a real job. But honestly, he didn’t care enough at the particular moment. He paused in walking down the street—Gwen was moving out; which meant he was out her half of the rent; which meant he really did need a new job. Shit.

He decided to wait a week then start updating his resume and he’d send it out. Gwen had mentioned moving in as roommates, after all.

That night, he went out and tried to fight crime. Key word being tried. He got punched in the face twice, and was almost shot again, because his shoulder injury made his left side sluggish in action. It caused him to lag a second too slow which he didn’t predict as he moved at normal speeds. After about an hour of nothing going right, he found his favorite taco stand, grabbed some food and sat on a nearby roof to just watch the city.

That was about when Deadpool found him—well, found was too strong a word for the fleeting moment. Deadpool was on the roof across the street, and Peter lifted his bad arm to wave, then grimaced and dropped the appendage. Deadpool glanced in his direction, paused, then continued on as if he hadn’t practically made eye contact with Peter. He leapt from the building and vanished into the night. Like Batman, Peter thought with a frown.

And that’s how he found out Deadpool was avoiding him. He went out and patrolled the city each proceeding night, and only saw Deadpool once more at a distance—though, his Spidey-senses had picked up the merc more than once. The time he actually saw Deadpool, Peter called out but it was to no avail. The merc barely even glanced in his direction.

It was Saturday afternoon, the week had dragged along like a snail across the carpet. Peter was lying on the couch, tossing a ball he’d found under the bed when Gwen came in. “Peter?”

“Finally,” he said, sitting up quickly—a day before the action would’ve had him wincing, but he’d been fully healed when he woke up that morning. Only a pale version of a scar left where there’d once been bloodied stitches. “I’ve been dying.”

Gwen rolled her eyes, pushing his shoulder so he went back down, “Hush up, it’s not been that bad.”

“You wouldn’t know,” he said with a whine, “I’ve been so alone.”

 “You poor baby,” Gwen said, and she dropped her purse on the table. She sat in the loveseat opposite him, and pulled the slip of paper from her pocket—Peter could only assume it was the one she’d shown him on Tuesday. “So does that mean you wanna start immediately or—”

Peter cut her off, “Gimme.”

She held the paper out of reach, “Hey now. Be polite.”

He scowled, lowering his hand. “Please, Gwen,” he said, pouting a little when she didn’t immediately hand it over.

She smiled, “Now was that so hard?”

She held out the paper and he snatched it from her grip before she could retract her hand again. “Yes,” he said, practically hissing the words at her. “It was.” He looked over the list again.

Ten names. That was easy.

“Alright, let’s go,” he said, standing up.

“Wait!” Gwen grabbed his wrist and pulled him back to the couch. He hit the corner of the table in the process.

Seething, he said, “What?” He held onto his injured knee.

She offered an apologetic smile, “We should plan around the addresses. Mark which are closer together and go to those first, etc.”

“I figured you’d already done that,” he said, rubbing his knee until the redness dulled.

Gwen rolled her eyes, and grabbed the paper back. “Gimme,” she mocked, sticking her tongue out at him. He sneered at her. She eyed the list, and he handed her a pen when she put her hand out for one. “Okay, so these ones are all in Brooklyn, and these two are both on 2nd Avenue.” He ignored her, choosing instead to look out the window. It looked like it might rain. The clouds overhead were dark, and the streets nearly empty of pedestrians.

“Peter,” he blinked. “Peter, are you listening to me?”

He grinned sluggishly, “Of course I am.”

“What’d I just say?”

He rubbed at the back of his neck, and tilted his head, “That two guys are on sixth?”

She shook her head, but there was a trace of a smile on her lips, “No, dumbass.” She shook her head again and stood up, “Fine, if you’re not gonna listen to me, let’s just go. I’ll talk on the way.”

He grinned, following her to the door, “After you.”

Two hours later they’d visited eight of the guys on the list. “I know I recognized that name!” Peter grinned. Gwen wasn’t quite as pleased with his memory.

“You should’ve known it well enough to cross it off,” she said, sauntering ahead, crossing the name off the list as she walked. She tucked the pen back into her pocket, “God, Peter! Sam Wilson. He’s on the Avengers with you!”

Peter shrugged, “I don’t get out much.”

Obviously,” Gwen shot back with a snort.

“So, two names left, right?” Peter said, jogging a few steps to catch up with her. “And they’re still in the city?”

“Yeah, one’s actually in the apartment one floor up.” It wasn’t him. Jesse Wilson actually happened to be a woman, and she was married with three children.

“Sorry,” Gwen said once again as the woman slammed the door on them.

Peter grinned at her when spun and walked toward him, “Now that wasn’t my fault.” He jogged backwards to watch her expression. She seemed tired—it had been hours of nothing. He couldn’t fault her for that.

She rolled her eyes, “Yeah, whatever. Let’s just go before that pit-bull breaks down the door!” She hit the elevator button and turned to face him. “This last one has to be him.”

Peter blinked, “Last one.”

She nodded, “Yeah.”

Well, those odds were certainly terrifying. This whole day had seemed like a joke, and from the way Gwen’s feet moved slower after each non-soul-mate, he could tell she knew. Peter wasn’t treating it like he should. He wasn’t taking any of the possibilities seriously. He was acting like he was just along for the ride—another fun adventure with Gwen. He shook his head just as the elevator arrived.

They both got in, and he leaned against the back wall. This wasn’t just a fun adventure with Gwen—especially cause he was no longer with Gwen. They weren’t together. This day was her trying to give him his soul-mate. The soul-mate he’d always wanted. And here he was, acting like it was all for show.

He needed to think more seriously about his future, as well as his possible future with this person—whoever that happened to be. Gwen nudged him, and Peter realized the elevator had landed.

“Listen,” she said as they got into a taxi, “Let me knock on this next door. We don’t want to scare him off—if it is him, after all.”

Peter nodded, but he was only half-listening. Gwen told the driver an address and they were on their way. He felt like a ghost wandering through the streets watching as Peter and Gwen got out of the taxi and climbed the stairs toward his actual soul-mate. What would he do if it wasn’t him? What would he do if it was?

He bit his lip, leaning to the side of the door as Gwen knocked. He was only just barely paying attention, so when a gruff voice yelled out, “Who the fuck is it?” He blinked awake. Wait—this hallway looked familiar. So, did that door actually. Had he been here before?

Gwen rolled her eyes at him, “Land shark.”

Peter snorted, blurting out an actual laugh. “Are you serious?” She shrugged and knocked again.

There was movement in the apartment, and Peter forgot all about the familiar apartment as his nerves caught up with him. The locks on the door shifted, and Gwen lifted a hand to cover the peephole. Peter’s heart lifted into his throat. He felt his pulse pick up, he could feel the beat—beat—beat in his fingertips, his elbows, even underneath his eyelids.

The door opened.

“Deadpool?” Gwen spat out, standing back in shock. Peter’s head hit the wall. That’s why this place felt familiar.

“Who the hell are you?” Deadpool sneered back, and Peter stepped away from the wall.

“Hi,” he said. Deadpool starred at him for a second, then slammed the door in his face.

Chapter Text

 

Peter groaned, “Open up, loser!” He pounded on the door with his fist, then leaned his back against it. He turned to Gwen, her mouth was still agape.

She noticed his staring and closed it, “Think it’s him?”

Peter shrugged, “It’s too big a coincidence for it to not be. I’ll bet if we contact Tony, he’ll tell us Wade Wilson’s Deadpool’s secret identity.”

“Secret,” Gwen mocked, putting the word in quotation marks. “Nothing’s ‘secret’ from that jackass.”

Peter pounded on the door again; it was an awkward reach with his position where it was. “Are you calling Tony a ‘jackass’? Really, Gwen?” He feigned a gasp.

She shrugged, “If the shoe fits. Pepper would agree with me.”

“Pepper loves you. You’re like her little pet. Of course she’d agree with you,” Peter said. He turned his attention back to the door, “Come on, Deadpool! Open up!”

“Go away, Spidey!” Deadpool shouted through the door.

Gwen glanced at him, “He knows?” She hit him in the shoulder, “What the hell, Peter!”

He shrugged and tried for apathy, but the smile on his face blew his cover. “He may or may not have seen my face last time I was here.”

“Last time?” She hit him again, “What!”

“I told you,” he said, deflecting her hand when she moved to strike him again. He grabbed her other hand at the wrist and collected both of them in his. He ducked his head to meet her gaze, and said, “He helped me when I got shot. I forgot to put my mask on. It’s fine. We know his identity now, anyway.”

Wait. Deadpool was Wade. Wade was Deadpool. Wade was his soul-mate. Deadpool was his soul-mate. Peter flinched back, and when he dropped her wrists, Gwen reached around him to knock on the door. “We know who you are,” she yelled through the door. Peter rubbed at his face. Deadpool was his soul-mate. Fucking Deadpool. What the hell.

Footsteps approached the door, and when Deadpool spoke again, it sounded like he was right on the other side of the door. “What do you mean you ‘know?’”

Gwen pushed him against the door and Peter let out a grunt. He sucked in a breath, trying to compose his thoughts. “We know you’re Wade.” He knocked on the door one final time. “Please let us in.” The door cracked open. Deadpool glanced at the two of them, and Peter stepped away from the door to meet his masked-gaze. “I could just push past you,” he said, “But I won’t. Open up.”

“Technically it is open,” Gwen said, nudging his elbow. Deadpool squinted at her. Everything was still as they waited for Deadpool to make a move. He stared between the two of them, then let out a long sigh.

“Fine,” he opened the door fully. “Come in.” He turned and walked back into the apartment, Peter made to follow him, but Gwen reached out and grabbed his wrist.

“Wait,” she said, “I’m gonna go.”

“What—Gwen—”

She cut him off, “This is your thing, Peter. Good luck.” She smiled—genuine happiness behind her lips. The smile floated in her eyes.

“Are you sure?” He said, but there was so much more resting behind that one question. He rotated his wrist so that she was holding his hand instead. He interlaced his fingers with her alone and met her eyes. He added the rest silently. ‘Are you sure? Are you sure you want this to be real? At any moment in time, we can find each other again, but once you push me towards him—once you let go, we’re never going to be the same again.’

Her lips dipped, but then stilled and the smile returned. She nodded, “I’m sure.” She looked down, reaching up with her free hand to rest it over intertwined hands. She said, “I love you, Peter. You always have me. You always have us.” She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. He closed his eyes, clenching them tight upon the contact, engraining the touch into his memory. He opened them when she pulled away, and he watched as she backed up, keeping their hands linked, so they’d remain connected as long as possible. With a smile, Gwen let him go.

She turned, waving at him. He watched her until she disappeared around the corner. He stood in the hallway even after she’d gone.

He took a deep breath, and stepped over the threshold into Deadpool’s apartment.

Peter found Deadpool on the couch, watching the TV which—he glanced at it—was off. He turned when Peter approached, “Who was your friend?” There was an odd emotion coating his voice that Peter couldn’t detect. Jealousy? Anger? Discomfort?

Peter shifted on his feet. There was nowhere to sit—Deadpool was taking up the entire couch, and while he could sit on the floor, that felt too uncomfortable, and it put Deadpool in the position of power. Without his mask and web-shooters, Peter didn’t want to give the merc the upper-hand. “Gwen—she’s a—” What? What was she? Less than a lover, more than a friend. She was everything, and yet, suddenly nothing. “Friend,” he finished lamely. It wasn’t anywhere near what she was to him, but he couldn’t put it into words. He could barely think about her without feeling a pang where he’d lost her.

But he hadn’t lost her—not yet. And he didn’t plan on losing her. She’d just never be his again—not in the same way. He still didn’t know whether to feel sad about it. He swallowed the feelings bubbling up in his stomach and said, “You’re Wade Wilson, aren’t you?”

Deadpool looked at him, then pulled his feet down from the couch. He sat with his feet on the floor, legs spread out. He put his hands on his knees and fisted them there. “Yeah,” he said, his voice was gruff in a way that reminded Peter of how much older Deadpool was than himself. The man had—what? Ten years on him?

Peter approached the couch, and Deadpool looked up at him, then back down at his feet, “You can sit.” He said it almost like a whisper, and Peter couldn’t tell whether it was hope or disgust that coated his voice.

Peter did as he was told, but sat with more than a foot of distance between them. The couch was small, making it awkward how much distance he put between them—Peter was squished against the far corner and Deadpool—Wade—must’ve noticed, but if he did, he said nothing about it.

At the same time, Wade said, “How’d you find out?” and Peter asked, “Why’d you run?”

They looked at each other, and a sheepish smile settled onto Peter’s lips. Deadpool—Wade, he corrected again—returned it, if a bit nervously. Peter said, “It was Gwen, really. She’s a genius, and she did a bunch of research—way too much, to be honest. And then she had a list of names, and here we were.” Shit. He was babbling. And he hadn’t even answered Wade’s question, “Oh, and it was ‘cause you gave them your name at the coffee place, ‘Wilson.’” Wade shivered, and Peter found himself hoping it was because he’d said his name. Peter swallowed.

It was like suddenly he knew he was meant to be with Deadpool and all those feelings he’d had came pouring out. He wasn’t in love. No, far from it. But he felt something, and with time, maybe that something could be love? He swallowed again and looked away—he’d been staring. This was all so odd. It was so fast! He’d barely just broken up with Gwen.

Peter watched out of the corner of his eye as Wade nodded, “Makes sense. This Gwen sounds—interesting.”

“She is,” Peter said, probably a little too fast. He shrugged when Wade glanced at him.

“You sure she’s just a ‘friend?’” Wade asked, and it was definitely jealousy in his voice. Peter recognized it from when he’d thought Gwen might be cheating with Johnny a few years previous. He’d been so skeptical as he asked the same question. Gwen, to be credit, took his accusations honorably and only started yelling when he’d asked the fourth time.

Peter’s mouth felt dry. He opened it and let out a breath, had he not been breathing? He said, “Well, not always. We used to be—we were more. She is more, but not in the way that I think you’re asking.” His voice trailed off at the end, not sure what to say. Normally, Peter was so snarky, so open. ‘Talkative’ was one of his defining traits, and yet, with Wade… he wasn’t. He was quiet and anxious. He put his foot in his mouth at every turn.

Wade nodded like he understood, but he didn’t. He couldn’t. Gwen was too much. Peter had been lucky to have her for the short time he did. He smiled and it felt bittersweet. He needed to change subjects. This wasn’t about Gwen. “Why’d you run?”

He tried not to feel flustered by the way Wade laughed. The laugh was less crazed than it was out in the field. It was more like a first-date laugh, like he’d said something awkward but cute, and Wade didn’t know how to respond. His heart fluttered in his chest, taking wing like the butterflies already eating at his stomach. “I don’t know,” Wade laughed again, shaking his head. “I guess I didn’t want you to see. You’re so—”

He glanced at Peter, and Peter looked at the ground. He felt on the spot. So open where Wade was closed off. He was mask-less, for god’s sake! He was practically just a kid, compared to this hulking mercenary. “So cute,” Wade finished. “You’re what? Twenty?”

“Twenty-six,” Peter deadpanned. Why’d everyone always go low? Did he really look that young?

“Sweet Jesus! Really?” Wade sat back, and laughed louder than he had earlier. The sound brightened Peter’s smile. “That’s actually decent.”

“How old are you?”

“One question at a time, please,” Wade laughed. “But, I think I’m technically thirty-two. I don’t know, stopped keeping track around the fourth series reboot. I think I’m immortal, it changes depending upon the writer.” Peter swallowed his confusion; Wade spoke like he was a comic book character sometimes, and at this point, it didn’t really matter what he said, because Wade was in his own fantasy world. Wade shifted and turned to face Peter, who was surprised to note that he’d moved at some point during the conversation as well. They were now face to face, legs crossed in positions that mirrored one another. “I’m all—” he gestured around himself in a way that Peter didn’t quite understand. But he stopped as if Peter did. “You don’t wanna know.”

“I do,” Peter said, he moved an inch closer.

Wade swallowed, and Peter’s eyes were drawn to the way his Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. He licked his lips. “You don’t,” Wade said again, but his voice rose an octave on the last syllable. Was he nervous? Or—Peter bit down on his lip, tugging the corner further into his mouth. Wade sucked in a breath and Peter stilled. Was he—turned on? What the hell? Peter let go of his lip altogether.

“Show me,” he said, and was surprised to find how low his voice came out.

Wade’s hands lifted up from his lap, but then stopped at the edge of his mask and didn’t move any further. Peter leaned in, closing his eyes to ignore the way Wade’s breath hitched when he did so, and pulled Wade’s fingers away. He bit down on the corner of his lips, and rolled the mask up, peeling it off Wade’s face.

He didn’t open his eyes until the mask came away in his hands.

And there he was—scars and all—the perfect metaphor.

Peter opened his mouth, but not in disgust or fear. He didn’t gasp, he just stared. It looked—painful. His skin was patched up and red in places. There were scars from the tip of his chin to the top of his head. He was bald, but not in a weird, cancer-type way. It was so oddly fitting. And he wasn’t ugly, far from it, actually. While it was unwise to call his skin anything near handsome, his jawline was phenomenal. Peter’s mouth ran dry, and he closed it again.

He rocked back in his seat. Wade’s eyes were closed, and Peter reached out to press either hand to Wade’s face. At the light touch, Wade’s eyes flickered, then relaxed. “Open them,” Peter said. And he did—and wow. They were so blue. It almost surprised Peter how quickly he fell in love with Wade’s eyes. They were so open and vulnerable, but so blue. Blue in a way that Gwen’s eyes were when she laughed. Blue in a way that reflected all the lights in the room and shined like the sea sparkled. Blue in a way that reminded Peter of laughter and desire and pure bliss.

They were the most untouched and beautiful part of Wade’s face. Where his lips were chapped, where his skin was bruised, his eyes were light and pure. They were so expressive that Peter briefly wondered if that was how Deadpool’s mask was as well—some kind of mirror power? Maybe that siren thing was real and—he was gaping again.

His lips twitched, “I told you,” he whispered to Peter.

Peter smiled sadly, lacing his words together slowly, “Bullshit.”

Wade raised his eyebrows—if he could even call them that, seeing as there was no hair on his face—or, Peter could safely assume, the rest of his body. Peter’s smile widened at that thought, but he forced it away with a blink. Not yet. Here he was, seeing Wade’s face for the first time, and his mind was contemplating the hair on his balls. And he thought Deadpool had problems.

“What do you mean bullshit? I’m hideous!” Wade tugged his head backwards, and Peter had actually forgotten he’d been holding it. He allowed his hands to drop back to his lap.

Peter shrugged, “I’ve seen worse.” It wasn’t the right thing to say.

“Worse!” Wade stood up, full-on shouting by this point, “You’ve seen ‘worse!’”

Peter nodded, “A few scars is all it is. Come on, sit back down. You were in a fire or something, could be worse.” Open mouth, insert foot.

Wade spun and stalked out of the room. Peter sat still on the couch—should he follow? But then Wade returned shirtless with jeans on. Peter’s mouth went dry again. He nearly choked on air. “What—” The scars covered his body, his skin was damaged everywhere. Peter shouldn’t have been as turned on as he was—but he’d always had a tendency for hairless guys and here Wade was—completely fucking hairless.

“I wasn’t in a fire,” Wade said, forcing each word out as if they burned—Peter almost choked on his own mental simile. He was a huge asshole. Why did anyone let him out in public? “I was tortured. People ran tests on me and forced me to look this way. That’s why I fucking heal. Not because I was born a mutant. Not even because a fucking spider bit me! I heal because I was tortured nearly to the brink of death.”

Peter swallowed. He didn’t know what to say—what could he say? It was almost too much. Should he apologize? They stared at each other a moment—Wade’s eyes were aggressive and angry. Peter’s were probably confused and there was a pout on his open lips—he could feel it there. Then Wade’s lip wobbled and his face relaxed, he collapsed on the couch beside Peter, his shoulders sagged. Peter reached out a hand and let it rest on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” Wade said. “You can go if you wanna.”

“Don’t be,” Peter said, and when Wade glanced his way, he forced a smile to his lips. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. It was insensitive of me to say that.” Seriously insensitive! Like the most insensitive thing he’d ever said! But he didn’t know how to put it into words without sounding like an overdramatic—well, like Deadpool honestly.

“I yelled,” Wade said, and he put his head in his hands. He pulled away from Peter’s touch.

Peter said nothing. Fortunately for once nothing actually worked out for him. Nothing was exactly the right thing to say. Wade let out a deep breath and sat back up. “Don’t act like it’s not horrible though.”

“I’m not,” Peter said. “I didn’t, ugh. I won’t. It looks painful as all hell. Worse that a measly bullet,” he forced a laugh, then stopped it when Wade still wouldn’t look at him. He couldn’t even make a good joke at this point, he was so anxious for the end of this conversation—for the end of his being the “more confident” person in the room. There’s always a first for everything, eh? “But that doesn’t make you any less of a person. You’re still—” He sucked in a breath and let out the words he’d been thinking since Wade had first taken off his mask, “Hot.” Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. Why’d he say that? Of all the things he could’ve said? Now Wade was gonna be weird about it and he was gonna have to take it back, and then they’d fight and shit. Peter had so many regrets.

Wade blanched, spinning to face him so fast a normal person would’ve gotten whiplash, “You think I’m hot?” Peter backed up an inch, actually surprised by Wade’s quick reaction—but really, he should’ve known.

Peter shrugged, forcing himself to maintain eye contact, “Yeah.”

A slow grin lit up Wade’s face, even touching his eyes at the corner. They crinkled, and Peter’s stomach rolled over. He was in too deep. Peter started speaking before he could stop himself, “There’s a reason Gwen’s not my soul-mate.”

Now that he said it, he knew it was true. He’d wished otherwise more often than he could remember, but as she always said, there was more than one soul-mate. And while Gwen was his soul-mate in every other way, she wasn’t romantically. She was his best friend, his favorite person in the world. But he needed someone else to love—and that could be Wade. That was disgustingly cliché. Ew. Peter could’ve thrown up at how cheesy his mental train of thought was being.

Wade didn’t say anything, so Peter continued, “I can only assume you spent an ass-load of money on this stupid timer as well.”

Wade nodded, “A full paycheck.”

ONE PAYCHECK? Did he hear that right? That had better be a joke! Peter gaped, “Only one paycheck? How much do you fucking make?” He shook his head and covered Wade’s mouth when the merc moved to answer, “Don’t answer that. It’ll only hurt worse. Just—the point is, we owe it to ourselves to try this out.”

“This?” Wade said, he gestured between them, “Like ‘us?’” Peter nodded, a smile on his lips. Remember when Deadpool used to awkwardly flirt with him while he swatted the merc’s advances off with a metaphorical spatula? Yeah, good times… Good times… Too bad the reverse was so god-damn uncomfortable. Wade didn’t return said smile, “Why would you wanna date me?”

“I don’t know, because you’re my soul-mate. Because I spent way too much money on my timer. Because—because.. I don’t know!” Peter shuddered, he clasped and unclasped his hands. He looked down at his lap, refusing to meet Wade’s eyes, “Let’s just see where this leads.”

Wade stood up, “Don’t date me cause you pity me.” Peter followed his movement, gaping up at his face—Peter hadn’t expected him to get so angry about it. And here he thought he was being cute and junk.

“I’m not even asking you out,” Peter threw his hands up in the air. “We don’t have to date! We can try out being friends first.” He forgot to correct Wade, and that was once again, a big mistake. Come on here, Peter, get your act together! You’re Spider-Man for god’s sake! Why can’t you speak to the guy you like—nope. The guy who’s your soul-mate? Not a chance. The dude you kinda wanna fuck? Um. This wasn’t working out. Not even in his head.

“You do,” Wade said, speaking to himself, “He does. He pities me.”

“I don’t pity you,” Peter tried a second too late. He ignored the part where Wade had been speaking to himself. That had actually become pretty normal at this point. “I don’t! Really.”

Wade was pacing in front of him like he was waiting for the news of his first born child, or like he was solving a Scooby-Doo-esque mystery. Peter could’ve laughed where the situation not so tense. “Then why didn’t you wanna be friends when we were just Spidey and Deadpool? Why now?”

Here, Peter forced out a laugh, “What is this ‘The Swan Princess?’ I didn’t not wanna be friends.”

“That’s not good enough.” He didn’t even catch Peter’s reference. Welp, he swallowed, this wasn’t looking good.

Peter stood up to face him, and a frown found its way onto his lips. He sucked in a breath, “Nothing’s good enough, apparently! You’ve been avoiding me all week so how do you know I wasn’t trying to hang out with you? We could be friends.”

“But we can’t,” Wade lowered his voice.

“And why not,” Peter threw his hands into the air, “Why are you fighting this so hard? I’m supposed to be the exasperated one, remember?”

Wade sat back down, and Peter started pacing. He tried not to find the irony in the situation. He tried to forget that he’d almost mocked Wade’s pacing just moments prior. This was serious business. He said, “You’ve been following me around for a week, and then you just stop! You see my face and stop! I’ve been dwelling over it all week. And you saved me last week! Remember? You let me sleep in your bed. You flirt with me all the time and then—nothing! What’s with you? Why can’t you just let someone in?” Peter stopped in front of him, putting his hands on his hips to mimic Gwen. “You’re all show. You flirt and flirt and bemoan the fact that I won’t pay attention to you, but when I finally do—you just stop. You vanish! What the hell!”

Peter was breathing hard when he stopped. He realized he’d been ranting, but he couldn’t take it back now that it was out there. He huffed, and stomped a foot. They’d only known each other a few weeks, but here Wade was seeing actual five-year old Peter Parker in action. What a privilege. “Well? Say something.”

“I don’t know,” Wade said, his head was in his hands, and he was mumbling, but Peter still heard him. “I’m messed up in the head,” he said.

Peter’s heart sank. He dropped to his knees and looked up into Wade’s eyes, “Obviously,” he quirked his lips in a joking smile. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t change.”

“I don’t wanna change,” Wade said firmly. He swatted away the hand Peter rested on his knee. Well, at least Peter had a playmate in actual six-year old Wade Wilson.

Peter raised an eyebrow and stood back up now that Wade was no longer sagging practically off the couch. He’d straightened his back and was looking at Peter defiantly. “You do,” Peter said, “I’ve seen it.”

“Bullshit.”

“I have,” Peter affirmed. “In the way you stitched up my shoulder. And the way you avoided killing half the men after they shot me.”

Wade looked away, his lip stuck out in a half-assed pout, “How’d you know that?”

Peter rolled his eyes and sat on the couch beside him, “I read the news, dipshit. I know that they were hospitalized, but that’s better than it could’ve been. You could’ve killed them. I expected you to.”

“Maybe I do, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not gonna change for a guy.”

“Would you change for a girl?” Peter waggled his eyebrows, then sighed dramatically when Wade didn’t immediately cheer up. “Then don’t,” he tried again with a shrug, “Change for yourself.”

 “Cause it’s that easy,” but Wade squinted up at him as if to ask ‘how.’

“It is,” Peter said, he sat forward and nudged Wade, “I can help you. I won’t expect too much. Just give me something.”

Who’d have thought a week ago that Peter would be on Deadpool’s couch trying to convince him to be Peter’s friend?

“I wanna get better,” Wade said after too long a silence.

Peter smiled, “I know you do. And you can.” He repeated himself, “I can help. Let me help you.” Wade looked at him, and raised an eyebrow as if he was trying to see something that wasn’t there. Peter held out a hand, “Friends?”

The word fell into the air and Peter stilled, waiting for Wade to catch it. Waiting for a life-line as he hung himself by the word. Finally, Wade reached out and gripped his hand.

It was slow to spread, but Wade’s smile was warmer than anything Peter had ever seen.