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Mutual Amelioration

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“Pretentious mother fuckers...”

“Sorry, Mr. Pool?”

Deadpool blinked, nearly unaware that he had spoken aloud.  His careless facade quickly fell back into place, however.

“Never mind,” he responded swiftly.  “This is my stop.  As always, Dopinder-- it was a pleasure.”

The cab driver nodded and was half-amused, half-disappointed when the red-and-black suited man held up his hand for a high-five.  His typical form of payment.  There was always something interesting -- and sometimes oddly rewarding-- about transporting the absurd man, but surely a traditional tip wouldn’t have hurt anyone, either.

“Enjoy your day, Mr. Pool!” Dopinder called out his window.

He had driven Deadpool up a long driveway towards a mansion that was pale against the growing dark of the evening.  He had no idea what business the other man could be conducting there, but it was a different locale than he’d ever brought him to before -- less seedy, by far.

“Will do,” the mercenary sounded confident as he strolled toward the front door.

Not for the first time, Dopinder watched and wondered what his own ass would look like in tight leather before he drove away.

Wade heard the cab retreat back towards the road and heaved a deep breath before knocking on the front door.  It was fair to say that this wasn’t his favorite place to return to, but it was simply a means to an end.

Unfortunately, the scrapyard showdown with Francis had not been the last time he’d had to deal with self-righteous Colossus or his moody-- but admittedly more entertaining-- trainee.

Negasonic Teenage Warhead.

Still a bomb-ass name.

But they were relentless, always “checking in” to tempt him their way.  They’d given him a wide berth for a while -- lots of sexy time with Vanessa after they’d reunited-- no, don’t think about her!-- but they had not forgotten to get back at it eventually.

He had, as Colossus always reminded him, promised to consider giving the X-Men a try if the two helped him take on Francis and Angel.

He had, as he always retorted to Tin Man, not been specific about when he would make an effort towards that promise.

But now, over a year later, he wanted their help again.  So, in a proactive move to gain their favor, he had come to peruse the home of the X-Nerds.  He still was not enthused, but he was a man of his word so he’d always intended to come check out their digs some day.

It was just a complete coincidence that he was doing it now when it happened to benefit him in some way.

“Suuuch a coincidence,” he sighed as he rocked on the balls of his feet while he waited on the front stoop.

Finally, the door slowly opened inward.

“Hiiii GI Jane,” his voice was a bit overly-sweet.

“Hey, Loser,” the gothy teenage warhead, conversely, sounded very bland.

“Oh, it’s good to be home.”

The door pulled open further, then.  He suspected he would see Colossus’s lumbering form but instead there was a tall, slender woman with dark skin and white hair.

“Does every girl in this school chop their hair-- is it a requirement?” he gasped, hand over his heart. “Are you being indoctrinated?”

“No,” she stopped chomping on her trademark gum just long enough to answer.

“Just blink twice, and I’ll liberate you.”

He got a blank glare.

“This is Storm-- our headmistress.”

“Nice,” he exaggerated looking the woman up and down.  “This is how all porn starts-- run along, now, child.”

Ew.”

“I’m sure Colossus will be grateful that you’re working hard to prove what he sees in you,” the headmistress’s upper lip curled at his behavior.

She kept composure, through; she hardly even looked ruffled by the lewd first impression.  He could respect that.  Maybe one developed a thick skin for being shocked when you ran a school full of teenagers.

“Take that up with him,” Deadpool waved her off.  “I just want a behind the scenes look at Hogwarts.”

“...do you understand this is a serious institution?” the woman glared at him.

Contrary to the peaceful evening that had surrounded them moments before, thunder suddenly rolled.  Deadpool pivoted to gaze around, and he gave a low whistle at the instantly dense darkness and the lightening that suddenly flickered between them.

Storm ...I get it.  That’s cute,” he graded her and turned back to the two females. “Do I get to come in, now?”

Headmistress Storm seemed mildly perturbed that her show of power didn’t awe him more, but it only showed on her face for a moment.  Then she was stoic once more.

“So long as there are no tricks up your sleeves ...or anywhere else,” she eyed him dubiously.  “Safety is our priority.”

“Yeah, I heard nothing bad ever happens here...”

The girls couldn’t see his face behind the mask, but the eye roll was evident in his tone and the expressions readable through the fabric.

“You’ll be watched,” Storm ignored his jab.

“He has made it!” a deep voice boomed from further inside before Colossus came into the foyer.

“I have a watch, so I can be on time,” Deadpool proudly tugged at his glove to show off his Futurama watch.

“You’re an idiot.”

Negasonic’s snark hardly even phased him.

“Play nice,” the mercenary chided and decided to just go ahead and let himself in rather than wait, stepping over the threshold for the first time.

“It is good to see you here,” Colossus’s shiny face smiled.

“Yeah, I think I really set-off the decor,” Deadpool was amicable as his head swiveled around to take-in every nook and cranny.

Lots of hardwood, deep earth tones, and plush furnishings.

“Always jokes,” Colossus nodded knowingly.  “Come along; let us see the place.”

“We can do this like an episode of ‘Cribs,’ right?  Because they always show where the magic happens!” Deadpool rotated his leather hips.

“Again: ew,” the teen with them grimaced.

“This is a school, Deadpool-- you must think before words come out of your mouth,” Colossus made an attempt at educating him.

“Probably not gonna happen,” Deadpool easily dismissed that scrap of advice.

“We will see.”

“Fine, so where’s the labs?” Deadpool rubbed his hands together eagerly. “And where do you keep that plane?  I know you’re not parking it in the library!”

“That is not important today.”

“Oh, shove a dick in it,” he complained loudly.  “It’s the most important part.”

“Language,” Colossus scowled.  “And our training facilities are only for X-Men.”

“And you want me to join, don’t you?  You should wine and dine me-- show off a little!”

“You are being a child,” the metallic man pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Show.  Me.  The money!” the Merc cheered.

He may not have been 100% serious about shacking up with Team Boy Scout, but he’d be a moron if he weren’t interested in what these geeks had locked away.  He’d be damned if his tour wasn’t going to be a full one.

Storm opened her mouth --probably to tell him to keep it down for the X-Babies who were studying-- but the thick front door opened again behind them. That admittedly had Wade reaching for a gun because it didn’t seem like anyone was expecting a guest to sneak up on them,  but he stopped when he saw the white and black clad woman now framed in the doorway.

“Whaaaat!” he was absolutely elated.  “You know SpiderWoman?  Get the fuck out! You are making the hard sell, aren’t you?”

The other masked figure froze, eyes on him, but then shook her head and took a few steps in.

“Storm,” she nodded respectfully towards the white-haired woman.  “I found someone who knows you…”

She turned to reveal a young girl clinging to her back.  She’d huddled in so tightly against the woman that she had nearly succeeded in being unnoticeable.

Storm gasped, her composure slipping more than Wade had been able to get it to.

Ooookay, show off.

“Megan,” the woman breathed and moved forward, arms out.

The little girl practically launched herself from SpiderWoman’s back and into the teacher’s arms.  Storm caught her easily into a hug and looked her over as best she could.

Wade did, too, but mostly just at the flimsy, phosphorescent pink wings fluttering from the slits in her jacket.

Alright, alright, so mutants here were pretty cool.

“I didn’t know where to find you,”  the girl started crying.

“I know, I know … ...let me get you down to Hank.  We’ll make sure you’re alright,” she was cooing at the too-skinny girl.  “Thank you,” she spared one hand to squeeze Spider Woman’s elbow.

“Always your friendly neighborhood Spider Woman,” the shorter lady saluted loosely.  “I’ll still keep an eye our for anyone else.”

Storm nodded solemnly and made to leave before seeming to remember Wade. She glared silently and ticked an arm noticeably tighter around her current charge.  As if he was going to go after the kid.

Really rolling out that welcome mat ...

“Keep an eye on him,” she looked to Colossus.  “He’s your responsibility.”

And with that, she swept away.

“Lost student?  Not good for PR, am I right?” Wade filled the resulting silence.

Spider Woman’s chin ticked in his direction again. 

“A morlock,” Colossus corrected.

“A who’s-it-whats-it, now?”

“Wade?!” Spider Woman spoke up again, loudly this time.

He twisted in her direction again so fast his neck nearly cricked.   Who the blazes…

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out or sell it to the news stations…” he quipped to buy time.

His eyes roved Spider Woman for a clue, but there was nothing more than usual to see.  Because he had definitely seen her, of course -- on the news and, occasionally, from the street.  He had fully considered making contact just for shits, but he hadn’t gone for it yet since she was a bit highflying to easily track down and there wasn’t a ton of motivation.

Yet

“Holy shit...”

A white-clad hand reached up to strip her hood and mask away.  Her hair was shorter than he remembered, and she’d aged up a bit, but…

“Gwen Stacy!?  Holy hell is right!”

“Shit, actually,” Negasonic couldn’t stop herself from correcting him. “She said shit.”

“Enough you,”  Wade snapped his fingers in her general direction.

“...I thought you were dead,” Gwen shook her head slowly.

“Pfff, who said?”

“Only everyone,” she pushed at his chest.

“Oh, then you’re very behind, Princess...”

“But h--”

“Wait, wait,” Colossus stepped forward to interrupt.  “How do you two know each other?”  



Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Girls

6 years, 9 months, 1 week, 4 days, 11 hours, 25 minutes, and 36 seconds ago  

Whoever Sister Margaret had been was probably sorely disappointed in her namesake, but Gwen Stacy liked the place well enough.

The thick metal door next to the name plaque wasn’t locked or manned-- it never had been in her memory.  Anyone who hadn’t belonged there would have figure it out pretty damn quick...or at least would have been quickly educated.

The blonde let herself in quietly and moved through the dark, narrow hallway and into the spacious bar area full of patrons.  Most were mercenaries; others were members of other nefarious professions.  Still, within those walls, everyone generally left each other well enough alone ....generally.

“Hey, G!” Weasel, the scraggly bartender, greeted her happily enough when she drew near.

“Still not a good nickname,” Gwen rolled her eyes and fished a thin, gold card from the back of her jeans to toss at him.  “Hey, Wade.”

Wade Wilson was, as usual, seated at the bar with his friend.

“Stacy,” he tilted his beer toward her.  

Gwen took a seat at the stool beside him.

“What was the job?

“Pervy stalker”

“Ah.  Cute’

“Jack and Coke?” Weasel checked, looking over her job card before filing it away.

He didn’t need to know she was underage.  Actually, maybe he did know and just didn’t care. Either way, her dad would flip his shit about this. She did it anyway.

“Yup.”

“Clean job?  Because Knight complained long and loud to the cops before coming to us-- she doesn’t want him dead and linked to her...”

“I know, I know -- he’s fine.   He got the picture,” Gwen promised.

“From a little thing like you?” Wade gasped.  “You’re amazing.”

Gwen flipped him the bird.  She wasn’t the only powered-up person pulling jobs there, but it was the kind of abnormality that was rarely addressed directly.  

But then, of course, there was Wade who liked to say whatever he pleased and tried to nudge issues straight out into the open.

“Sure am; you wanna see for yourself?” she warned him.

“Don’t tempt me with a good time” Wade seemed unconcerned and easily rebounded. “Could be a good time. You’re on the right side of jailbait...”

“Stop sniffing each others asses,” Weasel slid a glass to the girl and eyed his friend dubiously.

“But that’s how I make friends,” Wade threw on a theatrical pout.  “How else will I know if she’s worthy?”

“Worthy?  Oh boy,” Gwen’s eyes rolled high in their sockets as she snatched up her drink-- she was probably going to need it at this point.

“Yes, I have to decide I really like you because I’ll devote a lot into a true friend ...time, sexual favors, willingness to murder, help you re-tile your kitchen, or install your sex swing...”

“Damn.  Already installed that,” she snapped her fingers in faux-regret.

“Well, then, I’ll help when you upgrade,” he reasoned.

“Why would I ever do that?”

“Hooks creak, straps wear ...that is, if you’re doing it right,” Wade’s face broke into a smirk.

A dare to balk.

“Oh and you think you can be the judge of that?” Gwen snorted.

“I am uniquely qualified, yes,” he told her with confidence.

“He’s a sex swing model,” Weasel intervened with a huff.

“It’s how I made my first million,”  Wade was very matter-of-fact about this idea.

“Millions?  And you dress like that?”  Gwen glanced over his faded jacket and vintage t-shirt.

“Girl, don’t you just wanna have fun?” Wade’s face fell slack in feigned shock as he yanked his coat open proudly to flash a full view of his Cyndi Lauper shirt.

Gwen laughed.

“If that’s your era, then I think I prefer Pat Benetar.”

“You would!”

Gwen frowned thoughtfully for a moment.

“I’m not even sure what that means...”

“You wouldn’t,” Wade just scoffed again.

“...you won’t stop, will you?”  Gwen asked but looked to Weasel instead of Wade-- he seemed to understand himself dismissed for the moment and polished off the end of his beer rather than answer.

“Nope,” Weasel was nodding.  “Not until you forget your original point-- he can go in that circle all night.”

“As if there’s something wrong with stamina,” Wade shrugged as he involved himself again

Gwen couldn’t help grinning.

Wade had a reputation-- and a well-earned one-- for being an asshole, but he was also fun.  Dangerous and sometimes eccentric, sure, but also a fairly descent guy ...relatively speaking, of course, if you considered general company.

“Weasel must not know much about that.”

Wade had some stale pretzels in his mouth at that point, but he was happy to chuckle at his friend’s expense.

“Fuck you,” the other man was not as impressed.

“Shut up and pay me.”

“You hook, now?”

“I’ll beat your ass with one hand tied behind my back,” the female mercenary rolled her blue eyes.  “But pay me, first,” she held her palm out for the cash from her job.

“Insult me and use me,” Weasel muttered.

“Guess you might be the hooker,” Wade airily reasoned.

“Weren’t we friends once?” Weasel checked before he turned for the safe.

“Oh, total BFFs,” the broader man promised.  “...we hurt his feelings,” he then mock-whispered to Gwen

“Fuck off!” Weasel demanded over his shoulder without even looking.

“Aw, sad,” the blonde mused.

“I didn’t know you were like him,” Weasel grumbled when he came back to the bar and handed over a clipped pile of bills.

“One of us!  One of us!” Wade began chanting quietly while he picked through the bowl of pretzels to find the saltiest ones.

Gwen laughed openly.

“I have my moments, Weez.”

Wade gasped and slowly looked up.

“Weez ....Wheezy....Lil Wayne.”

“No.”

“It’s a new nickname.”

“No.”

“It’ll stick.”

“I said: no.”

“Good luck with that one,”  Gwen snorted and pushed herself off of her stool.  “I’m gonna catch Jean-Paul before I go...”

She pocketed her payday and, drink in one hand, she patted Wade on the shoulder to stroll away.

“Later.”

“See ya,” Weasel returned dully.

“Uh-huh ...let me know when you need a hand with that sex swing!” Wade bid her farewell more loudly than necessary.

Gwen’s head tilted back in a laugh but she otherwise only flashed a thumbs-up.


Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Girls

6 years, 6 months, 1 week, 3 days, 13 hours, 6 min, and 49 seconds ago

Mindless of spilled puddles of drinks, food crumbs, or questionable sticky residue, Gwen leaned between Wade and a man she didn’t even know to slap a gold card onto the wooden bar top of Sister Margaret’s.

She was usually happier to be there.

“Already?!” Weasel laughed happily.

“No.  I’m returning it,” the blonde snapped.

“Party foul!  Boooo!” Wade heckled.

Gwen ignored him-- seriously, was he always here in this same seat at the bar?

“What?  Why?” Weasel reached for the card and tilted the face of it up to reassure himself on what the job had been.

“Do you mind?” the man with a graying goatee beside her growled and nudged her rudely.

She still had a shoulder pushed between he and Wade, and the man was apparently taking exception.  Without hesitation, Gwen grabbed the elbow that had dared tried to push at her, and she cranked it into an awkward angle. The man gave an ineffectual yelp and Weasel’s eyes widened.

Even Wade straightened up some, though he was smirking.

“I’m sorry; am I in your way?”  she glared at him.

“Nope,” his answer came swift and unabashed.

She released him with a brief huff.  He did glare at her but didn’t seem to have the nerve to open his mouth before he stalked away.

“This job’s right up your alley, Stacy,” Weasel spoke again, though more cautiously than before -- he wasn’t exactly known for being ballsy and wasn’t willing to bait a mutant, or whatever she was.

“No, this guy hiring --Brewer?  He is a mess.  I’m not doing it.”

“Aw, Jesus-- why are you vetting the wallet?” Weasel complained.

It wasn’t as if every person hiring a mercenary had squeaky-clean hands-- that was no secret

“I always do.”

“Fucking great.”

“The mark is a competitor of this guy,”  Gwen slapped the name card still on the bar’s surface.  “That make’s him just as bad in my book.  I’m not doing it.”

“Aw, c’mon...”

“Not.  Doing. It.”

“Returning a job’s bad form,” Weasel continued to whine.

“I’m not helping someone who’s into sex trafficking,” Gwen leaned over the bar to hiss at its tender.

It was somewhat hypocritical to do shady things for certain people and not others, but Gwen had some lines.  She worked within the box those lines made-- rarely stepping foot beyond the boundaries-- in order to look at herself levelly in the mirror.  

“But you’ll be taking another one off the streets,” Weasel tempted, smiling.

As if she hadn’t thought of that.

“Someone else will do it.”

That was certainly always true  Plenty of people didn’t have qualms about what jobs they took.  Someone did the paying, and then they did the doing --any following ramifications were someone else’s issue.

Fair enough.  Gwen just couldn’t quite get to that point herself.  

“You’re a pain in my ass, you know that?”

“Fuck you,” she spat and finally shoved herself off the wooden bar.

Wade had been politely-- not to mention surprisingly -- quiet for most of the exchange.  He watched Gwen go, her long blonde hair swaying, and did some quick figuring.  Nodding to himself, he snatched the abandoned Gold Card off the bar and slipped away after her.

“Hey, Stacy!”

She was already out on the sidewalk and heading toward the corner when he came to the mouth of the alley.  At his yell, she only glanced around.

“Go away, Wilson.”

“Gwendolyn Maxine, hold up,” he ordered and half-jogged, half-shuffled to catch her.

She did stop at that.

“How do you know my middle name?” she scowled.

“I’m not all brawn-- I know things,” his responding smile was proud.

“Sure,” she merely muttered and proceeded again. 

Now Wade could easily fall into step.

“So ...how are you tonight?”

His tone was light and silly, but some miniature part of her was struck that it was touching he was asking in the first place.

“Peachy”

“C’mon, Gwenny,” he grumbled.

She froze on the sidewalk.

“Don’t call me that,” she pointed a finger straight into his face.

Wade was more known for crossing boundaries than respecting them, but something about the filthy look she was giving him made him think she was going to crank his arm out of its socket like she’d nearly done to the man up at the bar earlier.

“Okay,” he nodded slowly, then swiftly met her pace when she started walking again.

“Go on, tell Uncle Wade what’s wrong...”

“...I’m pissed off.”

“No!?” his gasp was mocking.

Gwen gave him a look.

“The job’ll get done,” he told her steadily.

Yes, a little drop in the ocean.

“Yeah ...doesn’t really make a big difference, though, does it?”

“Whoa, okay...so we’re being existential tonight.  Alright,” Wade sighed and glanced up at the darkening sky to think.  “....everything will matter when you least expect it if you trust your natural charm.”

“Oh yeah?  Who’s that-- Confucious?” Gwen rose an eyebrow that she tried to tell herself was not amused.

“A bastardization of my last two fortune cookies,” Wade admitted.  “Golden Wok always gives extra.”

Gwen clung to this chance to talk about the irrelevant.

“You gotta go with Bankok Kitchen-- no bonus fortune cookies but the best Seshuan Chicken.”

“But ...cookies,” he pouted.

“You do have a point”

“A smile!” Wade cheered when she chuckled, and he punched the air in triumph.  “I win.”

Gwen schooled her face quickly to hush him up.

“You sure you’re alright?”

She glanced at him. The question seemed sincere enough, his usual teasing lilt on pause for now.

“...I’ll be fine.”

“Good.  Wanna play Skeeball?”

Gwen blinked.

“All hail to the King of the Non Sequitur...”

“Bow before me!” Wade hooked his arm in hers to take over the direction of their walk.

Soon enough, they were, in fact, at an arcade.

“So ... ...you’re cheering me up by kicking my ass?” Gwen scowled, head cocked.

They stood at a bank of skeeball machines, and his machine had been rolling out a steady stream of tickets for about ten minutes while hers merely spit a few here and there.   

“I never said I was cheering you up,” he smoothly denied.  “This is all about me.”

“I noticed...”

But Gwen wasn’t actually mad; she was having fun.  Still, Skeeball was not her friend so she moved on to explore.

“Hey!  Wait up, come b-- shiiit,” Wade plucked up his last two balls to chuck before following with a handful of ticket ropes. “It’s not my fault you young-uns don’t know the classics and just play with your gameboys and your Wii or what the fuck ever...”

“I know some of the classics...”

“Oooo, PacMan-- exciting,” Wade rolled his dark eyes and leant against the machine Gwen chose to insert money into next.

“So go back to playing with your balls,” Gwen winked.

“May favorite past time,” Wade accepted the double entendre without a care.  “But I’ve been informed I’m being rude.”

“I didn’t say ‘rude’.”

Gwen clarified without looking away from the game, which she was getting a little intense into, leaning and jabbing the joystick.  Wade grinned.

“Shut up.”

They both fell quiet until Gwen’s lives were up and Wade could drag her to a Street Figther II game... ..

“Shit!” she slapped her hand on the console after she lost ....again.

“Oh, so you are trying?” Wade teased.

“You’re a pain ...how often are you practicing here?” she inquired, nudging him with her elbow.

This had the added bonus of edging him away from the game.  He seemed to know what she was playing at but went along anyway, for which she was grateful-- continuous losing was no help to the ego.

“Ah, just now and then,” he shrugged. “Oooo...”

He quickly shooed her to a shooting gallery game.

“Yeah right,” Gwen scowled.

She knew him well enough to know he had a military background, and she personally knew the strict basics when it came to guns; she wasn’t practiced.

“You’re so competitive, Stacy,” he dismissed her annoyance and fed in money for himself.

Gwen watched him with a waning feeling of annoyance.  It was hard to be upset with him when he’d come out of the way to work on cheering her up ...which was quiet a success, really.  She was distracted and in less of a dark mood than she had been at Sister Margaret’s...

She scowled at the thought.

Focusing on Wade lifted her again, though.  His face was set, eyes narrowed just slightly at the targets on screen before him, and his tongue was peeking between his lips.  She grinned some.

“Woo!  High score,” Wade was shameless in throwing up gleeful arms to celebrate.

“Seriously?” Gwen’s eyes popped.

She had not been paying much attention to his actual progress on screen.

“Shit yeah.”

She watched him enter “ASSFACE” as his name for the leader board.  “DICKWAD” was down the list, so she had a feeling he’d had success on this game before.  She didn’t ask, though, least it give him a chance to gloat.

“C’mon, c’mon, get in on this, Blondie.”

Wade shoved more money into the slot and held out a beckoning arm.  He hardly waited and grabbed her arm to tug her close to him in front of the game and pressed the gun to her hand.

“So, what, is this your move?” Gwen grinned once he swiftly made himself at home behind her.

“Oh yeah,” he murmured into her ear.  “I just slip it in right here-- right in front of everyone.”

Gwen elbowed him in the gut.

“Ooo-- rough.  You’re not dissuading me, you know,” he chortled.

“Ugh, jeeze...”

Annoyed, Gwen made to set aside the gun that had been pressed into her palms.

“No, no, no-- come on,” Wade tightened his arms around her and squared her up to the screen.

She actually had to put in very little work as he mirrored her arms and moved her quickly from target to target.

“Well, not a high score, but at least you didn’t suck at something,” Wade congratulated when the round was up.

“Thanks ....sort of.”

“What can I say,” he slung an arm around her shoulders to continue to peruse the arcade.  “I’m a gentleman.”

“Something like that,” she laughed along. “Thanks for tonight, though ...I’m serious.”

He nodded slowly, letting the mood somber up marginally. 

“It’s nothing -- some jobs get weird.  I get that.”

He usually dealt with this by giving someone an even worse ass-beating rather than walking away, but to each their own.

“It’s not nothing.  I owe you one.”

“Alright, Princess.  When I need a pick me up, you’re my call,” Wade agreed-- it usually wasn’t bad to have someone owing you a favor.

“Good.  I should be,” she nodded and went ahead and leaned against his side and hooked her thumb in the loop of his jeans.  “You’re a good guy.”

“No I’m not.”

“...you’re a pretty good guy.”

“Eh....”

Gwen scoffed.

“You’re an alright guy, and I’m not going any lower than that.”

“Fine, but don’t spread it around,” he conceded.

“Wouldn’t want anyone at Margaret’s thinking you have a soul, right?”

“Exactly ...but I wouldn’t do this for Weasel, anyway, so no one would believe you,” Wade mused.

“You don’t bring him to your arcade?”

“No ...but I’m glad you think of it as mine,” he puffed out his chest importantly.

“... ...so how come you brought me?

“What’s with looking the gift horse in the mouth?” he tutted.

Gwen nudged him to continue.

“What?  You just looked sad -- I have soft spots, too, you know,” he feigned whining.

“Well ...thanks again.”

“Plus ...you’re on the young side, but you’re also pretty hot, Stacy -- I’m probably not getting laid tonight, though, huh?” he put on a pout.

“Nah, sorry,” Gwen smiled.  “Tempting, though.  This was an adorable date,” she winked.

“Okay ...so Blondie doesn’t fool around on the first date.  Noted.”

She elbowed him just to keep up a facade of annoyance, and they soon went their own separate ways-- Gwen with a ghost of a smile lingering on her face


Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Girls

6 years, 5 months, 1 day, 12 hours, 4 minutes, and 2 seconds ago

“You’re in my seat, Stacy,” Wade griped when he strolled through Sister Margaret’s and saw the blonde woman in his favorite stool at the bar.

“I know-- I was waiting for you.”

“Wow.  Stalk much,” he scoffed at her but took no real issue with climbing onto the stool beside her.

“Only on special occasions.”

Gwen spoke this off-hand, shrugging casually even though she already confessed to Wade that she was waiting on him.  Surely he had not missed this, but he shrugged similarly and waved over a drink.

“I know what you did,” she supplied once he had a beer in hand.

“Ohoho, mama,” Wade chortled.  “You’re going to have to be a lot more specific,” he paused to take a drink.  “I do a lot of things.”

Still smiling pleasantly, Gwen picked up the sheet of paper in front of her and slid it in front of him.  Wade obligingly took a peek and saw it was a news article printed from the internet.

“Not supporting print media, I see,” he quipped and let his eyes fly over the sheet.

Alleged Murderer Implicated in Sex Trafficking

“Sounds naughty,” Wade assessed.

“Funny how the same guy who put in a job order to take down Royce Donovan’s prostitution network got picked up his murder...”

“I guess he must have gotten impatient after you turned it down,” Wade took more interest than necessary in his beer bottle.

“I know you picked up that job, Wilson. Bar wench over there already confirmed it,” she gestured to Weasel.

“Damn, is nothing sacred,” Wade set his drink down a little heavily.  “You’re dead to me!” he called off to the shaggy-haired man.

Weasel did look up but dismissed the pair of them with a roll of his eyes.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell me about your hopes and dreams,” Wade cooed mockingly. “C’mon, Blondie ....you don’t tell me about all your work either.  Untwist your panties -- better yet, let me help.” he leered, then.

Gwen scoffed at his attempt to change the subject. She was going to stay on track.

“Well, I’m glad you did it.”

As Weasel neared them, she ordered two shots of whiskey, clapping Wade on the back.

“I’ll pick up your tab tonight.”

“...any chance you want to pick up my whole standing tab?” the other mercenary attempted. “Because I haven’t paid that in a looooong time...”

“Don’t ruin it by being greedy,” Gwen rolled her eyes high.

Weasel soon had beers and shots in front of them.

“Fine fine ....and you’re a fucking fink,” Wade accused the proprietor.

“Would you stop whining and drink that?”  Gwen snapped before downing her own shot.

Not to be outdone, Wade shut up and followed suit.

“Thaaaaat’s the ticket...”

Weasel provided each of them with a fresh beer and wandered off to tend to one of the scantily-clad barmaids who’d approached the speed-bar with an order.

“So, out with it --why didn’t you say anything?” Gwen kicked at Wade’s leg.

He must have known it would mean a lot to her after the way she’d complained at Weasel.  Gwen wasn’t so conceited as to think that was precisely why he’d taken the job-- a payday was big motivation-- but she was sure it was why he’d executed the job the way he’d done it.  He’d taken out the head of one trafficking network and left a trail that blamed it on another gang doing the same sort of shit.  That took extra efforts, and she could not think of another reason to do that except that he had heard her opinion on the job.

“Because I didn’t want you to get all sappy-- it makes me embarrassed for you,” Wade quipped in a pacifying sort of way like one might talk to a child.

“C’mon”

It was fortuitous that her evening was free-- she had nowhere to go and nobody to go see, so she could run his circles.

He openly scoffed.

“It just...” he chocked on his words, scoffed again for show, and shrugged himself back together. “I don’t like sex traffickers either, yeah?  I’m pro-consensual sex-- you don’t have a moral monopoly on that, G.”

Gwen practically beamed.

“Well, if I’ve ever called you stupid, I was wrong-- I take it back.”

“You’ve been name-calling, Stacy?  That’s cold.”

“You could’ve asked for help.”

“So now I’m selfish, too,” he continued to gripe.

“Would you shut it?” Gwen had to laugh a little. “I’m just saying...”

Wade briefly paused in his deflection and default banter to watch her take a deep swig of beer.  A smile was still dancing around her eyes, which made him grin a little, too.

“I figured you didn’t want to be anywhere near it, so...” he trailed off to leave it at that.  

The blonde girl nodded slowly to acknowledge his momentary cease-fire.

“...my automatic reaction was to be mad.  I didn’t even think about getting backhanded with the job,” she was a little sorry to admit.

“Well,” Wade sighed thoughtfully.  “I’m smarter than you.  No shame in that...”

That got an eye roll, too, though it was a miniature version of one.

“It was pretty good of you, ya know...”

“Aagh, --no.  Yuck,” Wade pulled a face and tried to verbally distance himself from her renewed assertions that he was similar to a descent human being.

“Alright, alright ...it’s true, but I won’t talk about it.”

“Well, sure, that’s the American way, right?” Wade agreed with her logic.

Gwen smiled and decided to go ahead and abandon the topic for the moment.  He’d done what he’d done, and they both knew it-- they could let it quietly sit between them for a while.

Or they could just drink and not bother thinking about it in the slightest.

Which was what they did.

Happily.

“...who you got in the Dead Pool, anyway?” Wade asked when they got into some bar gossip.

He craned back in his seat to look up at the chalk board.

“I don’t place bets on it,” Gwen informed him after a swig of  her beer. “A little too morbid.”

“Aw, where’s your sense of adventure?  Besides, people bet on you,” he twisted a finger up to indicate the sign once again.

“I know --people tend to underestimate a girl.  Plus, a lot of people think I’m a mutant, and some people would kind of approve of a dead mutant,” she added darkly.

“Oooo, neither confirming nor denying, huh?  That’s the first time I’ve ever actually heard you say The M Word,” Wade observed  “Yo,  Wheez!  Two Blow Job shots!”  Wade shouted as distraction in case she regretted what she’d said.

“No!” Weasel spat.  “Nope, no more-- you cause too many messes with those.”

“Not for a prank, you fuckwad-- for us!”  Wade waved between himself and his blonde friend. “Gwen, will you accept a blowjob from me?  I promise to be gentle,” he batted his eyes at her.

“Sounds lovely,” Gwen tried to match his prim tone but ruined it with a laugh.

“You heard the lady.  Public blowies all around.”

Grumbling, Weasel obligingly poured the simple drinks and slid them to the two patrons.

Gwen raised her glass to Wade.

“I hope it’s the best you’ve ever had,” she told him with a blank face before they threw back their shots.

“You dream big,” Wade patted her thigh.  “I like that about you.”

Gwen rose her brow at his wide hand on her leg.  It might’ve been from drinking, but she thought the spot sort of ...tingled?  She certainly didn’t feel any trepidation. Interesting.

“Problem?” Wade dared her.

“...not yet.”

“Noted,” he smirked, finally letting his hand slip away.  “Theoretically, what would constitute the beginning of a problem?”

“... ... I’ll let you know.”

Gwen studied him for a few moments.  She understood what was being asked,  and the question ...did not make her immediately angry.  She didn’t want to leave or scoff at him for being a perv.  Wade was Wade.  An asshole, but one of the honorable ones even when he didn’t want to be.  

A ...friend.

Were they friends?

She wasn’t exactly sure about that title since Wade worked so very hard to keep people at arm’s length.  Still, he wasn’t just some guy who happened to have the same job as her.  He was ...Wade.   Dangerous and yet somehow incredibly safe to her at the same time.

And it certainly wasn’t as though he was hard to look at.  On that contrary, he stood out in a bar where a majority of the men were fairly haggard.  

“Get out of your head, Blondie” Wade chortled.

Gwen hummed in amusement and finished off her beer.

“Be right back.”

She slid off of her stool with a soft sigh and made her way to the women’s restroom.  It was a dingy bathroom-- no lavish provisions, for sure-- but cleaner than one might suspect in this place.

Someone joined her by the time she was washing her hands, and she was surprised to look up and find that it was Wade letting himself in.

“Wilson?”

“Problem?” he whispered and rose a cocky eyebrow.

“I just didn’t know you had to sit to pee,” she returned with a cockiness that didn’t quite fit the nerves that suddenly fluttered through her chest.

“Well everyone needs to rest sometime,” he shrugged.

The way he moved forward towards her could only be described as prowling.

“And you didn’t answer me,” he reminded her. “This a problem?”

“...not yet.”

“Did you know you’re hard to read sometimes, Blondie?” he murmured as he approached and jointed her in front of the sink.

“That’s usually a good thing around here,” Gwen answered truthfully.

Sister Margaret’s wasn’t really the place for openness and vulnerability.

"But I’m no harm; I just want to know how you feel about sex on the second date; we already know how you feel about shacking up on the first.”

“We’re calling this a date?”

“Well yeeeeah. Drinks and getting to know each other is a classic date.  I don’t mind that you paid -- I embrace the 21st century,”  he nodded proudly.

“Well, I do love a modern man...”

“Whoa, love -- I’m not quite there yet.  Let’s give it time, yeah?” he smirked, sidling closer. “It’s been a nice night, though...”

“Agreed.”

He nodded slowly, but then his arm moved quickly to catch one of his fingers into the belt loop of her pants.

“Problem?” he checked after yanking her flush to him.

Her hands flew to his shoulders, but it seemed to be in reflex only since she didn’t shove him away.  Given that, he was sure he knew the answer to his own question, but he’d wait to hear it.

“... ...no, not yet.”

“Oh, that’s good,” he purred.

And then they were kissing.

It was not tentative or searching. It was hard, and Wade wasn’t interested in there being a sliver of space between them.  He planted his hands firmly on the counter behind Gwen, boxing her in tightly.

"Problem?” he leaned back just enough to ask, his lips brushing hers as he spoke.

“...nah,” she uttered back and looped her arms around his broad shoulders to pull him back again.

He was grabby, which wasn’t so surprising since he was playful and intense in nearly every facet of his behavior.  Gwen found she didn’t mind; she scraped her nails sharply into the back of his neck when his grip on her hip became nearly bruising.

“Ohhh, she plays,” Wade growled. “Daddy likes...”

“Daddy?” Gwen paused, brow arched.

“Yeah, say it again,” Wade smirked.

Gwen’s nose wrinkled distastefully.

“No role playing for you?  Spoil sport,” Wade pouted.

As attractive as he was, the look was ridiculous on him.

“So ...you want to have such good sex with me that I become your daughter?  That’s the fantasy here?”

“Well it just sounds silly when you put it like that ... ...wait, you do want to have sex?!”

Gwen knew full well that he was jesting.  She was not being presumptuous; sex was exactly where this was heading, especially if the swelling bulge just north of her belly button --and slightly to the left-- was proper evidence to go by.

Still, she flushed.

“Oh, well ...maybe not...”

She ignored her uneven breath and shrugged as if to casually move away.

“No, no, no, no,” Wade laughed, trapping her again against the counter. 

“Ass,” Gwen grumbled when she was thoroughly stuck.

“Feel free to grab it.”

His mouth moved from hers to her jaw, and he slid his leg between hers.  Before Gwen even realized it, she was rocking lightly with him. It felt damn near perfect. Pleasurable enough that she was only a little chagrined when he chuckled a little and muttered something about her being eager.    

“Happy birthday to me,” he sing-songed before stooping enough to grab under the swell of her ass and lift her up.

Gwen was momentarily distracted by those words..

“It’s your birthday?” she breathed.

She hitched hee arms more snug around his neck when he turned away from the counter.

“I’m gonna pretend,” he waggled his eyebrow and walked them into one of the stalls opposite where they’d just been standing.

Once they were in, his hand fumbled blindly towards the lock.

“So,” he started conversational when he had to lean away from her to get the lock to slid into its slot. “You’re not just doing this just because you think I’m some good guy now, right?”

“Seriously?” Gwen griped-- he was going to go and question it?

“Well, I just want to know if you’re going to expect love letters and good-night texts...”

“Shut. Up,” Gwen growled and fisted her hand into his hair to give the short locks a sharp tug.

“Alright, alright,” Wade grinned and dropped her unceremoniously to her feet.  “...shirt or pants...” he wondered aloud to himself as he gazed down at her.  “There’s always a best way to unwrap a gift...”

Gwen smacked his chest lightly and started undoing his jeans.  She hoped that would help him make his decision a little more quickly-- if he took his sweet time and the excitement began to wane, she might just go ahead and question the brilliance of sex in a public restroom.

He practically giggled and his hands shot for the button and zipper of her pants, too.  

Of course, a decision didn’t have to be brilliant to be fun... .... ....

“Mmmm ...you taste pretty good, Stacy,” Wade smirked.

Gwen absolutely flushed,  merely blinking as she watched him lower his hand from his mouth.  She wasn’t sure why watching him lick herself off of his fingers was hot instead of lewd, but the attention of his hand between her legs had felt too divine to care.

“Problem?” he sighed, digging his hands through her long hair to tug and tilt her face up to him.

“We’re good," she promised and stretched up for a kiss, which he leaned a fraction back from.

“Good ...good, you gotta safe word?”

Gwen frowned.  What was he planning that they needed a safe word?

“Just good practice to have one,” he ticked a shoulder.  “Ours is kumquat, then, alright?”

He swooped in to kiss her before she had a chance to laugh, and then he grunted as he gathered her into his thick arms a second time.  She locked her legs around him without being told.   Shortly, they both groaned as he guided them to fit together where he held her against the wall.  

And then they didn’t talk for a while.  There were a few laughs, some grunting, and definitely a lot of moaning ...but full sentences had to momentarily take a back seat.

Until the wooden door to the room swung open to bang off of the wall. Gwen’s eyes flew open and she clenched her hands on Wade’s shoulders, and he briefly froze.   There was shock in the look they shared, and then Wade snorted; Gwen threw a hand over his mouth to shush him.

Whoever had wandered into the restroom to unwittingly join them didn’t seem to pay any mind, simply going about their business.  Wade bit at her fingers while they waited, prompting Gwen to grab and tug at his hair again.   He let his eyes roll back as if in ecstasy and pressed his hips forward slightly where he was still settled within her. Gwen whimpered and then quickly bit down at her lip.  She gave him what she hoped was a warning sort of look.  

No dice.

Though they remained mostly still against the stall door, Wade continued to grid slowly against her.  It was just enough to make her squirm until the pisser a few feet away finished up and left.

“God!” Gwen hissed and hit Wade’s shoulder.

“Nope, just me -- call me Wade,” he told her smugly.

Gwen had a smart retort for that --really, she did-- but he headed her off by picking up where they’d left off when the unwitting cock-block had come.

“Arrogant bastard,” she murmured, the words undermined by the moan lacing her voice.

“Uh-huh, talk dirt to me.”

Wade had no qualms about the name-calling, rather seemed to derive some encouragement from it.   He was spurred on, adjusting his hold on her to give himself more room to touch her and make sure they both got off before another patron could wander in and interrupt.

...

“Thought you were supposed to be strong; how come I’m doing the heavy lifting?”

They were slumped against the wall still regaining their breath, but he was ready for banter. Gwen swallowed heavily and lifted her head from where it was rested back against the stall.  Wade was draped boneless against her, one hand clutching the top of the stall, but apparently he didn’t feel in a vulnerable position.

“You might want to check your choice of words,” Gwen smirked.

“Oooh, are you going to teach me a lesson” Wade gave a dramatic shudder at the thought

“Not today...”

He leant to kiss her again briefly and then slowly lowered her to her feet.

“Alright?” he checked, hitching his pants up with a soft grunt so he could redo his belt.

“Uh-huh,” Gwen licked her lips for any last trace of him and ran a hand through her lightly tussled hair.

As her heart returned to its normal pace, reality seemed to settle, too.  The high was over and she was half naked in a bathroom.  She huffed a soft snort and snaked an arm to unlock the stall door so she could shove Wade out.

“Wh-- really?” he laughed as he tried to sound wounded.

“Just gimme a sec,” Gwen chortled.

She grabbed some toilet paper to clean herself up and then straighten her pants, which were dangling uselessly off of one calf.   Her shirt got fixed and smoothed-down, too, and she combed at her hair some more as she let herself out.   The bathroom was empty by then, but she found Wade lounging in the hallway.

He levied himself up to stand straight when Gwen emerged, a grin still on his face.

“M’lady,” he offered her his elbow, which she swatted aside.

“I don’t expect love letters and goodnight texts,” she promised to his earlier question.

He only laughed at her response but got the gist and strolled down the hall out into the bar ahead of her.   Gwen shortly followed, finding Weasel waiting crossly.

“Leaving a purse sitting out around here is a good idea?” he snapped at her, lifting it from behind the bar where he’d clearly stashed it.

“Well, it is when you’re looking out for me.  Thanks, mom,” Gwen winked.

“I hate you”

“Nah, you don’t,” Wade negated.

“Don’t even get me started on you,” the bartender snorted.

“Will you cut it out if I pay my tab,” Gwen interrupted what she was sure was going to be a colorful monologue.

“... ...I guess,” he tutted.

“Good”

She did just that and, as promised, Weasel stopped nettling either of them.

“Want walked out?” Wade offered.

“Only if you’re leaving, Prince Charming.”

“Sure, why not”

Gwen wasn’t really interested in Wade teasing her up to be a needy sort of girl, but the pair walk out together anyway.

“Later Wilson ....thanks again.”

“I’m always willing to rock your world,  Blondie-- you know that.”

She punched his shoulder lightly.

“You know that’s not what I’m talking about,” she scowled.

“Yeah, yeah ...don’t mention it,” he shrugged. “Seriously.”



 

“That ...is a long story,” was all Gwen came up with immediately for the hulking mutant.  

Gwen’s past wasn’t exactly an open book, and she didn’t have any plans for that to change even if she was on friendly terms with the X-Men.

“Yeah, Spidey and I go way back…”

“Sucks for her,” the teenager continue to add shitty commentary.

“You’re not even annoying me anymore, Le Mis -- this is the best. Day. Ever! Bring it in!”

He snatched Gwen into a hug tight enough that she grunted, but she hugged him back all the same.  

And it was genuine.

It had been a blow to hear -- after the fact, thank you very much -- about Wade’s illness and subsequent supposed death.  She had already stepped back from the mercenary work and the scene at Sister Margaret’s due to some personal business and life reevaluation by the time he had received his diagnosis and he and Vanessa had started looking for treatments, but she had maintained enough contacts that she had eventually heard what happened to him.

“Wait a minute,” she pushed away after some thought.  “Does Weasel know about this?” she pointed at him.

“Of course; he’s my comic relief,” Wade nodded.

“And he never mentioned it?! I just saw him a couple months ago...”  

“...Weasel?” Colossus tried and failed to catch up to what was going on since neither suited individual seemed prone to explanation.  

“You did?!” Wade happily jumped onto the indignant bandwagon. “Dick-wad could have told me you were still in town -- hold on,” he threw up both hands and took a dramatic pause. “Does he know you’re Spider Woman?  Cuz I’ll kill ‘im...”

“Uh, no,” Gwen blanched.  “I keep that under wraps. I’ve just made some friends here, so...”

“Secret identity -- I dig it,” Wade empathized  while dramatically waving his hand at his own suit.

“Uh-huh, about that... ...what the hell happened to you?” she took a few full steps back to look him over thoroughly.

She had heard of Deadpool, of course -- she had too many street contacts to miss out on the news of him.  She’d kept a distance because he seemed like trouble, so she had never even guessed that he was ...Wade.

“Ohhhh now that is an even longer story,” he assured her with a humorless sort of chuckle. “And I am only gonna tell it over drinks.  Ready to blow this popsicle stand? We have a shit ton of catching up to do.”

 

Chapter Text

Gwen Stacy was sure that, once upon a time, she had been silly enough to imagine that life after college would get easier.  There wouldn’t be classes with professors breathing down her neck, after all - she would have more time for web-slinging and crime fighting.

Except that gig didn’t pay the bills and she had taken those classes for a reason.  Like, perhaps ... to put them to use. 

So now a boss was breathing down her neck instead of a professor.  And, by all accounts, her professors had liked her a whole lot better than her current boss did.

John Jameson, chief editor of The Daily Bugle, was not an easy man to please.  He demanded a lot of every employee, but Gwen had made the special mistake of pissing him off during a staff meeting.  He had been railing loudly against Spider Woman, and she had dared to suggest that the vigilante was actually helping the city and that she, for one, slept a little easier knowing the lady was out there.  A few heads had nodded in agreement with her, but she was the one who’d actually spoken up to disagree with him. He had yet to forget it.

So not only did he hate her as Spider Woman, but he kept a close eye on her as Gwen Stacy, too.  Her work didn’t leave a lot to complain about, however; she pumped out articles as needed. Hell, she’d even managed to snap some surprisingly high-quality photos of the swinging vigilante - wink! - and those issues had sold like hotcakes. 

So she wasn’t exactly living in constant fear of being fired, but she had a lot of rough days at the office.  She liked it, though - really.  Gwen had grown up fantasizing about traveling the world reporting on the biggest news. The Daily Bugle wasn’t work on that sort of scale, of course, but at least it was in the same realm.  Everything else in her world had been one mess or surprise after the other; at least this was something she’d chosen for herself ages ago.

But it was hard, and in her childhood fantasies it had not been hard.  It had been exciting and exotic and full of new, interesting friends at every turn.

Her life as Spider Woman was extraordinary enough.  She supposed it was only fair that her actual real-life career was more on the mundane side.

At least it was satisfying more than it was bad. 

But it was still a dragging week, and it wasn’t even Friday yet. One more day of heading into the office to face the scrutiny. Then it would be the weekend.

Gwen’s weekends were not that of the typical, bright twenty-something, but at least she was free to do what she pleased when she pleased.  Maybe she would actually take a weekend off, though.  She hadn’t had a completely quiet weekend with zero night patrol in some time, now, but she could think of a few things to do.

“One more day,” she repeated and let herself into her third floor apartment with a sigh.

Gwen’s apartment was nothing amazing, but it was more spacious than the first place she’d rented and it suited her well. She was able to furnish a living room, which adjoined her modest but functional kitchen.  Living in a loft meant that her bedroom wasn’t actually separate from her other rooms, but she’d strategically set up slatted partitions so that her bed would feel more private when she had visitors. 

Most importantly, the place was hers and hers alone.  She had chosen it, she had filled it.

Hers.  A place of relaxation even when the world was being shitty.

If only she didn’t have a feeling.

It had been accompanying her for some time now, a gnawing weight in her belly she couldn’t fully shake.  Like she was forgetting to do something.   She just hadn’t figured it out yet.

Relaxing for the coming weekend was sounding better and better by the moment...

“Hiya, Blondie,” a cheerful voice greeted her just as she neared her bedroom.

Gwen started and took an involuntary step back even though she knew that voice.  She was just glad she didn’t yelp in surprise.  She had clearly been too caught up in her thoughts to sense another presence in the apartment, and that was mildly disconcerting to her.

She stalked closer to her bedroom.

“Took you forever to come back tonight...”

There, laying on her bed with his ankles crossed and his arms folded behind his head, was Wade Wilson in full Deadpool regalia.

Funny enough, she knew she shouldn’t be surprised.

“What are you doing?”

“I came to seduce you,” he was happy to report. “I was being cuter earlier - full on Bert Reynolds.”

At this, he twisted onto his side and propped his head on his hand.

“Geeze...”

“But then you took. Too. Long. So I got more comfy.”

He returned to his lazier, supine position.

“Wade...”

“Ugh, that tone..."

Yes.  There he lay on her down comforter griping like she was the real issue.  She still wasn’t fully surprised, but she wasn’t resigned quite yet either.

“How do you even get in here?”

She came and went through the windows of her apartment regularly, but she otherwise left them locked when she used the door like a normal gal. He did not have a key to her place.  Or, at least, she had not given him a key and he better not have made himself one behind her back.

“Why concern yourself with details?”

A typical sort of answer for Deadpool, treating breaking and entering like it was akin to strolling into the laundry mat.  He’d done this before and she knew it really wasn’t okay.  They should have better boundaries than this...

Except that Gwen knew Wade was not a threat to her. He just wasn’t. He was a dangerous person, in general, sure. He liked to stir the pot - any pot - and meddle in what didn’t concern him, but he never showed up to cause her any harm. 

“You need to stop doing this...”

“Then how am I suppose to see your smiling face?”

“Did you break your phone again?”

He was not known for taking exceptional care of his belongings.

“Nope,” he popped the p.’  “I still got you on speed dial, don’t you worry.”

“So did you forget how to use it?” she planted her hands on her hips, determined to make a point.

“Oh,” he cooed and immediately sat up. “Bossy Gwen is coming out.”

It didn’t matter that his mask was in place.  She could hear the leer in his voice as he stood.

“Wade,” the blonde sighed and dropped her hands to her sides.

“No, no, no - gimme a lecture,” he continued to stalk closer.  “You can tell me I’ve been bad; I don’t mind.”

He reached her and scooped her hands up to place back onto her hips.

“I’ll be even naughtier if you want...”

“Cut it out,” Gwen stepped back and dropped her hands again.

“What?” he matched her step.  “You don’t like me when I’m naughty?”

He took another step, which she retreated from, and then another.  She was annoyed, but her mouth betrayed her when the corner ticked up like she wanted to smirk.

“Aw, of course you do...”

Gwen’s back met the doorframe to her bathroom.  Stuck.  Wade placed a hand on her stomach to guide her to the side so she stood flush against the wall instead.  More stuck.

“What’re you doing here, Wade?” Gwen tried again, resolutely ignoring the swirling heat resulted from his hand on a vulnerable part of her.

“I told you!  I wanna seduce you...”

“I’m tired,” she slumped more fully against the wall and rested her head back upon it.

“I’ll do all the work,” he happily offered and slid his hands over her hips.  “You can just hang on for the ride.”

Movement under his mask suggested he was waggling her eyebrows at her.  It was times like that when it was still easy to picture the pre-cancer Wade flirting shamelessly and confidently at every turn.  He had been obnoxious and dark then, too, though admittedly less tortured.

“As much as I just love being asked to be passive in bed - I need a shower.”

Wade grumbled in a whiney fashion under his breath and shook her hips lightly.

“How about a bath?” she amended.

His head perked up from his put-on pouting.

“You mean I’m invited?”

“...as long as you’re not a menace,” Gwen narrowed her eyes.

“Best behavior,” he promised, raising his hands in innocence.

His fingers were crossed on both hands.  

Gwen tutted and smacked him lightly on the chest.

“Not a deterrent,” he simply chirped.  “You know I like it rough.”

That got the tiniest of smirks out of Gwen, but she only slipped by him to head into the bathroom. There, she twisted on the water and started to unbutton her shirt once it was a descent temperature.  Out in the main room she could hear rustling and the snapping of clips that meant Deadpool was dressing down.

“Did you really have to come with all of that?” she moved back to the door to see him setting his gun belt on top of her dresser, where he had already propped his katanas.

He didn’t answer immediately but looked up from wiggling off a boot to wolf-whistle at her.

“Can’t be too careful,” he then went on.

Gwen considered him and supposed this was true.  He was controversial at best, and his personal vendetta against Weapon X was no less shady than the paid mercenary work he still took-on.  She felt sad for that, suddenly, and it must have shown.

That damn feeling...

“Whattcha staring at?  And don’t stop with the stripping,” he waved impatiently at the unbuttoned blouse she hadn’t fully shed yet.

Yes, he must have caught something on her visage that he didn’t want aimed at him because he was usually more likely to put on a display if attention was on him instead of distract away from himself.

But she didn’t push anything.  Instead, she allowed the deflection and shook her shirt off of her shoulders so it fell to the floor.  His soft growl of approval was guttural, and to hell if that didn’t coil some of that warmth in her gut a bit tighter.  His eyes lingered on the black bra she wore even as he fumbled with his second combat boot.  When he teetered precariously, she chuckled and disappeared further into the bathroom.

“Booo!” his shout followed her.  “What about my strip tease?”

Gwen bit her lip to stop herself from telling him to keep it down lest he take it as a dare to catch a neighbor’s attention.  He just couldn’t help himself sometimes.  And she didn’t need to deal with complaining neighbors on top of everything else, did she?  She already had patrols by night and Jameson to deal with by day.  If she had to put up with annoyed or perverted glances from other tenants in the hallways, she might snap.  She took a few moments to imagine laying into Ms. Phillips one floor down who was always complaining about something already.

Shaking this away, she bent forward to turn the tap off.

There was no point in worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet. Besides, even if she wanted to, there was virtually no talking Deadpool out of being there now that he’d settled himself in.

“Aw, what the hell,” he complained upon entering the bathroom to see her still standing there in fitted black pants and a bra.

He himself was already naked besides his mask.

“Quit complaining and get in,” she bossed. 

Through she tried to sound annoyed with him, she raked her eyes along his form. 

By now she was used to the mottled and uneven skin.  It had, truthfully, been alarming at first sight, and she had even been hesitant to touch him.  This had been less due to the Freddy Krueger likeness as Wade claimed and because she thought she would hurt him.  It had taken her a while to understand that the skin was not raw like it appeared - no, it had just healed in gnarled fashion.  By now she trusted he wasn’t lying or putting on a brave face.  It was much easier, these days, to look beyond this outermost layer and appreciate instead what it covered.  He was still thickly muscled and cut and, at the moment, sporting a semi-chub.

“You better still be joining,” he pointed a stern finger at her that she did not take seriously.

But he didn't continue arguing and stepped into the hot water.  Then he sunk in to sit with a comfortable groan.  Gwen wanted in, too, so she unbuttoned her pants and peeled them away while trying not to be amused with the quiet chant of “uh-huh, uh-huh” from Wade or the hiss of “yes” when her underwear followed.

“Want help with the rest?” he offered lecherously, fingers dancing impatiently on the edge of the tub.

“I’m sure I can do it faster,” she chortled, reaching behind herself.

“And she questions my skills,” he sat back in a huff.

His head remained tilted in a way that allowed him to watch, however.

Indeed, Gwen made short work and dropped away her bra, allowing the weight of her breasts to settle freely.  They were not overwhelming but were ample enough.  Their reveal generally elicited a comment from Wade, but his lips remained petulantly silent just now. She saw this for what it was, so it didn’t cause her shame for her nudity.  She did feel intimidated by Wade’s physique on occasion - something he did not believe due to his personal perception laying emphasis on his skin - but he’d shown enough unyielding interest in her and encouraged such reckless abandon in general that she rarely felt abashed with him.

“You don’t need that, you know.”

Her voice was light but admonishing while she forced her hair up in a knot, and then she reached to trace a finger along the neck of his mask.   He didn’t comment until she took his silence for indifference and curled a finger under the hem.

The water splashed a bit when he reached up to snatch her wrist.

“I know I don’t,” he finally answered her statement, though he didn’t look up toward her.  “I want it today.”

He did take the mask off around her at times, but a massive part of him still really didn’t like to.  The essential loss of his face was more identity-marring than any other part of his disfigurement, so many of his insecurities hinged there.  He’d said aloud before that he’d rather she remember his original visage.  He had even insisted that he didn’t mind if she wanted to pretend that was still the face that laid behind the mask that bit she did not believe.

“Now c’mon, c’mon; I wanna stare straight at your rack,” he waved her toward the other side of the tub.  “Unless you wanna stand there all day,” he added and reached for her bare thigh. 

“I want to sit with you,” she batted his hand away and leant forward to nudge his bent knees a little further apart to make room for herself.

“Well spread my legs and call me Kristi...”

“Kristi?” Gwen cocked a brow.

“The Manhattan Madame?  Maybe you’re too young to remember...”

“I’m not surprised you remember” she retorted honestly while letting his hands guide her down to nestle comfortably between his thighs.

Wade shifted himself and wedged her in close.  Certainly close enough that she could feel his hardening length against her back.  He gave another soft, contented groan and circled his arms around her while she relaxed against his chest.

“You feel good, Blondie,” he nuzzled his face into the juncture of her neck and shoulder, his mask rough but not quite irritating.

“Mmhmm,” Gwen rested her eyes and tried to let her muscles loosen up.

The water had previously risen under Wade’s pecs but now rose around Gwen’s collar bones where she’d slouched herself in against him.  The water was bordering on too hot but felt great.  This should help her.

“Wade...”

Without opening her eyes, Gwen caught the hand that was sliding down from stomach toward her crotch.

A finger had brushed the line of curls leading South before she stopped him, and he tutted at his failure.

“It’s too quiet.  I wanna make you sing,” he twitched his hips her way.

“Let me relax.”

“Oh, I can make you feel good...” he squeezed her middle.

“I know you can,” she agreed, voice soft.

His hands traveled North to her chest, then, and his touch was light on her breasts.  After a few moments it then became more of a massage ...and then he tweaked and rolled her nipples with purpose.  She gave a soft whimper at the unexpected changed in pressure, to which his cock gave a minor twitch, but she brushed his hands off again.

“Ugh,” he was dramatic again.  “You’re killin’ me...”

“Just wait.”

She left off the ‘please’ because she wasn’t inclined to begging - though Wade did so love to push her to that point sometimes and, okay, in suitable circumstances she did like it a bit, too.  It turned out there must have been enough of a plea in her tone because he didn’t try to bargain or banter this time.

Instead, he allowed the quiet. 

When the water shifted and dripped again it was because he’d brought his hands up to her shoulders.  He squeezed and massaged.  Gwen moaned softly when his thick fingers dug into the back of her neck, and then he did give a short grunt in response.  Usually touching her that way was possessive and sexual, but he didn’t make further moves.

Still wordless, he flattened a hand between her shoulder blades and pressed her forward so he could trail these ministrations a little further along her spine.  Gwen wanted to go limp, then.  Instead, she drew her knees up further so she could rest her arms there and lean forward onto them to give him more room.  Wade didn’t voice a complaint but did pause the massage to grasp her hips and move her back more tightly against his groin to fix the gap she’d inadvertently created.  She smiled silently where her head rested on their folded forearms.

His hands were strong as they kneaded along her spine and dug into muscle.  It made her want to be sleepy but was actually quite arousing.

The water had gone from hot to warm by the time he wasn’t so much massaging as tracing her spine or chasing water droplets on her skin.

“...are you drawing?” she guessed after a minute or two of this lighter touch.

“Already drew a massive dick ...now I’m just adding classy, light shading to some boobs,” he broke his silence since she had invited it.

Gwen snorted.

“Part of the same picture?”

“Of course.  Titty fucking is a thing even if it’s not your bag of fun...”

Chuckling, she straightened and fished his hands away so she could lean against him and tuck his arms around her once more.

“Thank you, Wade,” she twisted to kiss his bicep.  “That felt nice.”

“I get it,” he sounded breezy and overly-rueful.  “Baby girl is havin’ a hard week...”

“Mmhmm ...I have a feeling,” she added.

“Like an orgasmic feeling?” his fingers tickled lightly on her side and he shifted his hips again as if to remind her his dick was still there.

As if she couldn’t feel it.

“No, just a bad feeling - it won’t go away...”

He stilled.

“Anybody I need to kill?”

She knew the genuineness of that offer should make her mad - comments like this from him did usually bother her these days.  But today it didn’t.

“No, nothing like that.”

His arms squeezed around her again, and she expected another comment about making her feel good, but he let it go for the moment.

“How’re you?” she asked, then.  “I haven’t seen you around in a while.”

“Been outta town for a job.”

“Oooo, where?”

“I  could tell you but I’d have to kill you,” he growled in what he liked to call his work voice.’

“Oh come on,” she shook his knee.

“Canada.”

“Canada?  Canada’s huge, and you couldn’t just tell me that?”

She fought the urge to roll her eyes at his (possibly warranted) secrecy.  Then she remembered he couldn’t see her face so she did it anyway.

“I gotta keep the mystery alive, Blondie.  Don’t I?”

“You’re mysterious enough.”

She felt more than heard him chuckle in response.

“Were you gone on the job this whole time?”

It had been nearly three weeks since they’d lounged around his apartment with pizza boxes trying to puzzle out some of Weapon X’s recent movements.  And, okay, they’d gotten naked a few times, too.

“Yup.  Lotta recon.  I’m not all brawn ...mostly, though,” he flexed his arms around her again as proof.

She huffed at the squeeze that was too-tight this time.

“You should tell me when you leave for work -- I worry sometimes.”

“Aw, you were worried?” his voice rose to an octave that suggested that any remaining seriousness had left the conversation.  

“Shut up.”

“That why you got all bossy-pants with me when I showed up?  Masking your emotion,” he continued crooning as if he could talk about masking feelings with any high ground.  “You know I can’t get killed out there.”

She certainly did know.  She’d seen him die a few times herself, after all. 

“That’s not the only thing that could happen worth worrying about.”

He didn’t respond immediately, perhaps seeing if she would do the honors of making a quip to bring them back up to shallower water from that comment.  She didn’t.

“You gettin’ soft on me, Spidey?” he dipped a hand low onto her stomach to press her tightly to him.

She was a bit worked up from the massage by that time and pressure that low on her body felt divine.  Gwen only shook her head in denial and reached to her side to give his thigh a squeeze.  This elicited an appreciative hum just behind her ear, and his hand tightened a fraction further where it sat against her pelvis.

“Did I wait long enough?”

His voice was a whisper, but Gwen heard him loud and clear so she nodded.

“Hmm?”

Gwen gasped as he continued to press against the heat pooling in her belly.

“Yeah,” she gave a verbal answer.

She felt him relax around her. The hand on her stomach released her so his fingers could search lower and slip between her legs.  His other calloused hand reached for the drain and yanked out the plug.  The lukewarm water began to drawn away, leaving coolness in its wake against the skin.  Gwen only half noticed, as the hand between her legs hadn’t stilled.  Wade’s fingers worked diligently as if he wasn’t quite convinced that she’d given up her quest for languid relaxation.

“You still need to sit in the tub?” he checked with a casual air, never mind that two of his fingers were inside her slowly stroking.

Goose bumps now covered her entirely and she shivered.

“MmmMmm,” she shook her head, hands now gripping both of his thighs.

“Thank fuck..”

He released her and gathered his feet underneath him.  Before Gwen could do the same, Wade’s arm snaked under and behind her to lift her straight up.  Her momentary fear that he would slip on wet tile was swiftly expelled, for he made quick time back into her bedroom where he dropped her back to her feet at the foot of her bed.  Another shiver danced down her spine, so she made to pull him back close to her again.  He ignored her and leaned past her to grab the top blanket off her bed and give it a hearty tug until it tumbled onto the floor.

A fresh spike of annoyance hit her before he gave her a sharp shove so that she’d fell onto her bed. Part of her - a quite minuscule, distant corner of her - figured she ought to be indignant about the bodily treatment.  She didn’t need to be manhandled.  Except that this was Wade and this was promising a downright pleasurable time.  She was never scared of him, not even when she sort of wanted to be.

As she thought this, Wade fetched the discarded comforter and unfurled it up into the air so it fell over her.  Before she even processed being grateful for the warmth it was going to provide, Wave had flicked the bottom of the blanket up so he could dive underneath.  Then, all at once, it was apparent that he had also lifted the bottom of his mask because his mouth began to devour her core without warning.

“Oh,” she threw her head back and dropped her legs open further to accommodate him.

His hands bracketed her hips, messaging and digging at the flesh while also tipping her up for better access.  His tongue was wide and wet and warm, and lord ...did he ever know just where to bestow his attention and suckle at her flesh.

“Wade...” his name fell from her lips even though she knew - knew - he might then feel compelled to respond.

“You need somethin’?” he peeled his lips away from her.

“N---mmm,” she cut herself off when he slipped fingers back inside of her in lieu of his mouth. “No,” she panted.

“No?” his tone lilted and he stilled altogether.

Annoyed, she yanked the blanket up to peek down into the darkness at him.

“I ... ...I’m not sure there’s a good way to answer,” she admitted after opening her mouth to retort and get him to continue.

Wade snickered and twisted his masked head to bite her inner thigh.  Her leg twitched, but she refrained from clutching his head lest he use it as an excuse to nip at the tender flesh again.

“You could use your manners,” his voice trilled up to her.

Gwen forced her body to relax back into the bed and not to rebel. 

“Please, Wade...”

If foreplay had begun the moment they’d started undressing, she was more than ready now.

“Hmmm,” he laid an open-mouthed kiss against her clitoris.  “Maybe manners aren’t what I wanted,” he continued, though his fingers picked up their movement inside of her again. “Maybe I need a little dirty talk...”

Gwen knew he might not shut up for some time, so she reached under the blanket for his head and directed his face back to her.

“Oh, bossy Spidey is back,” he resisted enough to say.

Then he dove back in with gusto and gave a grunt as he hoisted her ass a fraction off the bed.

Gwen left a hand on the top of his head, digging her fingers at the leather mask but resisting the urge to pull it off entirely since Wade had already spoken on this.  Her other hand grabbed at his bare arm but soon dropped to the sheets and twisted her fingers into the soft fabric.

“Ngh, mmmmmm, W--” Gwen chewed into her lip until it hurt to stop her from uttering Wade’s name, least he choose to stop and chat again.

One always had to be ready for Wade to play games. 

“Say it,” he only paused long enough to say before licking along her folds again.  “Say it, Gwen” he repeated from under the blankets and pinched her ass.

“Wade,” she gasped then groaned. “Wade....”

His hands tightened their grip upon her, and her back arched up off of the bed until she came with a protracted sigh.  Wade absolutely didn’t stop then. Indeed, he continued until she pressed him away and closed her legs to him, panting.

Wade took his time in making his way up her body. He kissed, licked, and nipped at any bit of skin he came across, and he repeated anything that made her squirm.  He’d learned the touches she liked by now, but he was surprisingly generous in bed -- or wherever else they wound up getting naked -- and was always open to learn a thing or two. Knowledge was power and all that, right?

“Mmmm,” Gwen was biting at her bottom lip again when he sucked onto her throat.

He glanced up to see the swollen lip between her teeth, so he slipped a hand up to tug that lip free --he’d need those uninjured.  She bit at his fingers, instead, but he hardly minded; he even left them there for her to do it again.  Wade just scraped his own teeth along the flesh of her throat to remind her he could play that way, too. Gwen whimpered at that, and both of her hands fell to his shoulders.  When she did not make a move to actually push him off, Wade took her hands and pinned them to her sides on the bed.

He knew she was sensitive about her neck.  He had already wormed his way past that aversion, and he liked to exploit it to remind them both that he had damn well earned it.  He continued to mouth at her throat and neck until she was absolutely writhing, at which time he scooted up further and clamped his mouth onto hers.  She was squirming her wrists in his hold by then, so he released her to let her hug her arms around him.

Her legs cradled her to him as well, and he wrapped himself around her like a boa, but boy he wasn’t going to hurt her - never!

“Gwen,” he groaned and left her mouth to bite and suck along her jaw. “Can I, Gwen?” he rutted against her.

“Wade...”

“Please don’t tease,” he sucked onto her ear and groaned hotly when her legs tightened around him. 

And Wade didn’t usually beg, but he did always ask. 

Always.  In some way or the other.

“Wade,” Gwen sat her head back to smile. “We’re both naked and you’re nearly already in me - of course I want to.”

She hitched a leg around his to try leveraging him even closer.

“Why?”  his voice was hardly more than a breath in her ear, but he was still so close that she couldn’t have missed it even without her enhanced hearing.

“What?” she loosened herself around him in surprise.

He hadn’t meant to speak aloud, so he ignored her --ladies like that, right? Right. He descended on her mouth again instead, for it seemed like an acceptable distraction given their situation. 

It was a success. She kissed him back and stopped asking questions.  So he worked his way into her, slow at first and then picked up the pace to match his enthusiasm.  And Gwen didn’t disappoint, of course; her legs squeezed him, her hands clung to him and dug thin crescents of pain into his skin. She was fabulous.  He started to picture her on top so he could better witness all that amazing at work. The bodacious Ms. Stacy would totally be into ...

Nope! Not what we agreed to today.

Wade shifted his weight back a bit to sit up onto his knees and tore Gwen’s arms from him to pin her hands to the side again.

“Thought I was suppose to be doing all the work for you,” he reminded her.

“Oh, come on,” her hands itched to hold something.

“Uh-uh,” he continued thrusting without missing a beat. “Baby girl’s gotta relax; she’s gotta work tomorrow ...daddy’s just gonna make you feel good.”

Gwen tried to tut, but it was more of a moan.  She knew Wade could happily hold a whole conversation throughout sex, but she was more easily distracted and knew she rarely put together a particularly coherent sentence.

“You know I don’t like the daddy thing...”

“How about papa? Papi?” Wade tested out words that might land more to her liking.

“Wade...”

“Okay, yeah, that’s good, too,” his breathing was growing harder but he was perfectly understandable. “Classic ...that’s it, baby,” he groaned when her hips rolled into his with a gasp. “Fuck yeah...”

Gwen’s hands flexed around nothing, so Wade shifted to intertwine his fingers in hers and keep them pinned but also allow her something to hold onto.

“Damn, Gwen,” he kept up commentary. “I never shouldda left that long,” he groaned, never mind that he’d been gone longer on several occasions.  “You feel so damn perfect...”

Being a ‘Merc with a Mouth’ didn’t come with a lot of boundaries.  He’d talk your ear off while killing you as easily as he’d babble on in the sack, and as long as he was making Gwen feel good, he didn’t see what was so wrong with that.

And I’d say she’s definitely feelin’ good...’ he congratulated himself as he looked down at her arching her back below him.

“Well, if you’re gonna offer them so nicely,” he quipped and bent to latch his mouth to her chest.

“Nnmmm, Wade, you feel so good,” Gwen breathed.

Ole Gwen wasn’t a huge talker in bed, but she’d do it for him.  In fact, he’d gotten her downright filthy with enough encouragement.  But she was more of a feeler and a grabber and a moaner, which was just as well.  He was determined to get her screaming one of these days, too.  No boundaries.

“Not as good as you, baby girl ... ...if you could be me bein’ inside of you, you’d believe me...”

And was it wrong that this got his mind spinning in the direction of swapping positions so she was fucking into him, and ...hell, he’d proudly rock some tits of his own in his suit.  That was normal, right? Right.

Her nails scrapping hard over the tops of his hands drew him back to reality, and he focused on their actual position. She was close to coming; he could tell it. Giddily, he gave her nipple a last bite, relishing in the gasp.  Then he was shifting her arms up over her head so he could pile her hands and tangle them in just one of his own.  With his newly-free hand, he pressed his thumb into her mouth to swipe over her tongue.

“I’ve got you,” he murmured at her over her soft gasps now accompanying each thrust. “Yeah, I gottcha...”

His hand slipped between them to rub her off so she would come again with him - mama was a bitch, but she didn’t raise no slouch.

...

“Jesus,” Gwen sighed when Wade released her hands and she lazily looped an arm over his now-still shoulders.

“Still just me ...I could consider a name change, though,” he offered and shifted to the side to slump onto the mattress next to her.

She smacked his chest lightly.

“That joke doesn’t get funnier, you know.”

“Cheap laugh or not, if you tee me up I’m gonna take a swing,” he yawned, reaching up to right his mask.

“Wait,” Gwen caught his wrist to stop him and twisted onto her side for a deep, slow kiss that dragged out into a few more.

“You’re needy, Stacy,” he commented when they parted and he laid back to finish fixing the mask.

As if he hadn’t leaned into it or slid his arm around her waist.  Gwen ignored the remark altogether since it fell so short.  She tried to straighten out the blanket Wade had liberated and rearranged, instead, since it was twisted.

“I’ll get it, I’ll get it,” he grumbled when her tugging did nothing bust jostle him lightly.  “Go take a piss like all good, hygienic girls should after a nice fuck...” he waved her out of his way.

Gwen muttered under her breath about him being the bossy one, now, but rolled over and stood up anyway.

“...are you going to leave while I’m in there?” she paused after only taking a step.

She wouldn’t be mad, per say, but she would prefer a heads up.  It’s not like he said goodbye every time he left.  She had come back to an empty bed during the middle of the night on more than one occasion. One of those times he’d taken an extra minute to arrange a dislodged sheet and the pillows into a smiley face, which had been original.

“Nope.  Your mattress is nicer than mine,” he told her carelessly as he began to shimmy around the blanket.

Satisfied that he probably wouldn’t lie straight to her face after a direct question, Gwen scampered to the bathroom to relieve herself and clean up a little bit.  As promised, Wade was stretched out in the middle of the bed under the covers when she returned.  

“You feelin’ better about that feeling?” he spoke up after they relaxed in silence a few moments.

“Mmhmm”

“Deadpool’s dick, here to distract,” he announced and saluted the ceiling, as he was laying on his back.

Gwen laughed and traced his abdomen where she lay against his side.

“Mission accomplished, soldier.”

“My orgasm count is almost as high as my kill count, ma’am,” he played along.

Gwen snorted and pinched the skin under his navel.

“Owwie - not fair.  Kiss it and make it better...”

He scooped his hand over the back of her head and exerted half-hearted pressure as if to direct her down the length of his body.  She pinched skin over his ribs in retaliation, then, and he grunted in discomfort but released her. Lest he get further ideas, she ducked off of his shoulder and turned onto her opposite side.

“No running, Blondie,” he complained and followed her movement to spoon himself around her.

He didn’t appear to be up to mischief with the move, so she let herself relax again.  No matter how much he annoyed or worried her in turn, it really was nice to see him again.  Crazy of her though it may be, she knew she’d sleep well with him there.

“Nighty night,” he mumbled into her hair, which at some point had fallen from the compact, haphazard bun she’d arranged it in for the bath.

She hardly cared about that but relaxed into the heat surrounding her.

Chapter Text

The evening was warm, which was pleasantly surprising for September when one never really knew what to expect.  The nights had been starting to grow a bit chillier, but it seemed that Summer was still trying to say goodbye.

It was all the same to Spider Woman.  Thanks to none other than Tony Stark for helping her with updates and modifications, her suit regulated internal temperature to compensate for the elements. Since New York ran the gamut of weather conditions, this was a welcomed improvement to the much more simple suits she’d once had.   Stark, back when he’d tracked her down, had also had some ideas about a changed color scheme and an upscale design, but there were some things she had wanted to retain as her own.  He’d relented with moderate grumblings.

But this night was a nice one as she leapt from one rooftop to the other.  Things had been quiet so far, but that could change any moment.  A street was always calm right up until the moment that it wasn’t.

Her dad had used to say that. Years as a beat cop had taught him as much.

The unbidden thought was like a punch to the gut, but it was totally just a wild coincidence that she chose that moment to take a break.  She dropped down to perch on the railing of a fire escape to scowl down at the alley below.

Embarrassingly late on the uptake, Gwen had tracked down the source of her bad mood:  her father’s death.   The anniversary of his death was still some weeks away, but the event had sullied much of the Fall season for her. While once she had enjoyed the changing leaves and the prep for the coming holidays - Thanksgiving being her dad’s favorite - that was no longer the case.  Her subconscious had sensed the the impending downer of an anniversary when the weather began to change before she had truly realized she was thinking about it.  This was either a testament to the strength of her Spidey-sense or the depth of her denial.

So she’d recently found as many reasons as possible to become a recluse.  She started patrols a little sooner and took on some extra projects at work so she wouldn’t have to actually explain herself.  Her friends would have understood.  Mary Jane and Betty, for instance, had known her dad and would have been more than happy to let her talk about him.  She just didn’t want to.  There was too much tied up in his death that she hadn’t even let herself deal with yet.  Grief, of course, but also guilt and shame. She was afraid of what might come out of her mouth if she talked about it too much.  On this particular topic, she was much like a damn fit to burst.

As a generally logical person, Gwen knew that this all meant she should talk about it rather than play the avoiding game.  She should join some kind of support group or go to therapy - something.  She’d gone so far as to look up counselors claiming experience in helping clients deal with grief, but she had never pulled the trigger.

If she thought about it too much - and she certainly didn’t - she might have been concerned that she felt she deserved the troubled feelings.

The sound of shouting and dogs barking broke her out of here revere.  The ruckus was a few blocks off, but she made quick work of the distance with her webs.  Gracefully, she landed on the corner of a different building and studied a new alleyway.  Several men were pouring out of a nondescript building that otherwise appeared abandoned.  That was strange, if not criminal ...but then she zeroed-in on a handgun tucked in the pants of one of the retreating men.

That was suspicious enough to warrant looking into, so she leapt into action.  She swung down and knocked a couple of the men to the ground, tripping another by pulling garbage bags out into their path. Then a few purposeful shots of webbing had them rooted to alley walls unable to flee or reach for their guns. 

Cautiously, she headed for the door they had come from.  There was still some shouting inside and the echoing of barking dogs.  Speaking of which, she deciphered the sound of panting, pattering, and scraping nails against concrete.  At this, Gwen preemptively leapt and clung to the wall beside the door just a few moments before three large dogs came bounding out.  She watched them disappear down the alley and then craned her neck into the doorway to look around.  She didn’t see or hear anything more coming.  The barking that was left sounded more distant, as was the shouting, so she dropped deftly to her feet and crept inside.  Gwen continued to follow her ears until she recognized one of the voices over the reverb in the space.

“Damn it...”

She set into a sprint and hopped down a flight of stairs to skid into the wide cement basement.

“Deadpool!”

There he was with a hefty man shoved against the wall while he shouted in his face -oh, and then there was the gun shoved hard into the underside of the other man’s jaw!  Swiftly, she caught the gun in her webs and gave a hard yank so that it skittered away across the floor.

The white eyes that whipped in her direction were narrowed into slits, but they widened at the sight of her and most of his body relaxed.  One arm stayed tightly pinned to the older man’s throat, however.

“Hiya, Spidey!”

What are you doing?”

“...educating,” Deadpool decided judiciously.

“Educating,” Gwen repeated to herself in a whisper.  “Let him go.”

“Nuh-uh.”

He sounded happy even as he declined, and then he turned his attention back to the man in his hold.  He jabbed him in the gut to stop his squirming.

He didn’t reach for another gun - or a knife, or one of his katanas - right away, so Gwen took a moment to look around.  Several rudimentarily homemade cages made of chain-link fence lined the walls.  There was also a stench hanging around the place that had made her wrinkle her nose before she’d even reached the stairs.

“What is this place?” she asked even though the pieces were already snapping into place for her .

“What was it, genius?” Deadpool demanded of his captive, his voice in the growling timbre she never much liked. “What was it?  Tell her!”

The man didn’t offer an answer right away, so Deadpool punched him in the side of the head.  Then again. And again. Gwen cringed and moved forward, never mind that it seemed this man deserved the rough treatment.

“Alright, alright - I get it,” she waved a hand.  “I get it ...this guy’s the ringleader?”

“Sure is - aren’tcha, buddy?  I’ll find your pals, too, don’t you worry...”

“Well, a few are already bound up in the alley...” Gwen helpfully supplied.

“Nice!  We make a good team - haven’t I always said,” Deadpool raised a hand for a high-five, which Gwen ignored.  “I have.  I’ve been saying it for ages,” he told the man in his grasp who was his only true captive audience.  “She can lasso ‘em up, I’ll knock ‘em down ....pew, pew, pew,” he mimed shooting imaginary bad guys with a finger gun. 

“You’re crazy,” the mustached man before him wheezed.

“Sure. Now he talks ...hey, whattcha doin’?  I didn’t know you liked trashy guys, Spidey.  Will you feel me up, too, if I start a dog fighting ring?” Deadpool rambled on while Spider Woman neared and began patting down the man’s pockets.

She didn’t dane to respond but plucked a phone from the man’s pocket and waved it in front of Deadpool’s masked face.

“Yeah,” he returned to his feral-like growl, his blank eyes somehow wild anyway.  “Find every single one of his friends...”

“Call the cops,” the white-and-black clad woman corrected.

“Aw, hell to the no!”

He made a swipe for the phone but Spider-Woman reacted first and sprung backwards out of the way.

“The cops can round these guys up and shut down the operation, and they can find a place for the dogs,” she pointed a white finger across the wide space towards the dogs still penned and barking.

“Cops are spoil sports,” Deadpool whined.

“So, what, you’re going to shoot everyone and let the dogs roam the streets?”

Deadpool cocked a head and feigned pondering that.

“Sure, why not?  Pups deserve some fresh air and freedom.  I’ll give ‘em a few bones to chew on,” he shook the criminal a bit by the front of his shirt.

“They’re scared and hurt and probably sick,” she pointed out.

The pause for thought, then, felt more genuine.

“...I can still kill him though, right?”

“No.”

They had already negotiated under which circumstances she would turn a blind eye to his usual methods, and they all revolved around the Weapon X organization. This, so far as she could tell, was completely unrelated.

“...what if I don’t call it killing.  What if I say I want to un-alive him?  Does that change your stance?” he bartered terms.

“No.”

“...what if I feed him to his dogs? Then I’m not actually doing the killing,” he made a last attempt. 

“Tempting,” Gwen nodded for effect. “But no.”

His eyes narrowed again, this time directly at her, and it was actually a bit alarming. 

She wasn’t scared of Wade. As in: she couldn’t imagine a situation in which he would actually hurt her. Besides, she would probably be alright even if he did try since she was physically stronger than him - they had already tested this, and she was 99% sure he wasn’t even bothered with the results.   Even so, sometimes the way Wade could get did unnerve her.  His sheer unpredictability, which was fun in many circumstances, could also be unsettling.

“...you owe me, then,” he leaned down a bit towards her. 

“Okay,” she shrugged.

What was a favor between ...friends?

“...can we web him to the fence?” he thrust a thumb over his shoulder towards the dogs down the way.

“... ... ...sure,” she decided there was a sort of poetic justice in that idea.

“Yes,” he punched his fist into the air.

Then he punched this ringleader in the throat and started dragging him along while he continued to sputter.

“Book ‘im, Danno,” he cheered and hurled the man against the fence.

Gwen wondered if she should be put-off by his enthusiasm but decided to simply be happy he hadn’t thrown much heart into his argument for killing this dude.  So she webbed the man’s wrists to the fencing without comment.  The man was a bit of a groggy mess, but the growling and chomping teeth spurred him into movement to yell and stretch as far away as possible.

She found she didn’t mind the sight of him being afraid of the dogs he had obviously mistreated. She chose not to dwell on what that might mean of her and dialed the police.  Deadpool was busy heckling the trapped man while she fed a few details and their location to dispatch before hanging up.

“We gotta roll,” she dropped the phone for the cops’ perusal.

“Yeah, yeah,” Deadpool didn’t seem inclined but did turn away after a last kick to the criminal’s groin.

Gwen knocked his elbow lightly and then turned to go.  He fell in step just behind her moments later.

“Just a heads up: the favor I want is 100% going to be sexual,” he told her primly.

The matter-of-fact statement sent a pleasurable shiver straight down her spine even though she half-wished it didn’t.   This really wasn’t the time or the place; she shouldn’t approve...

“Second heads up: it might be freaky and is definitely going to be rough,” he finished with a smack to her ass.

She whirled around, glaring at him from behind her mask, and then glanced past him.

“Fuck him,” Deadpool griped. “He’s preoccupied.”

He was likely right, so she let it go.  If she complained too enthusiastically he might just do it again.

When they reached the alley Deadpool had a good laugh at the poor schmucks caught out there.  He even took time to taunt one man with his gun that he’d retrieved from the basement floor and had yet to re-holster. He seemed to be enjoying himself and might have stuck around all night playing games if sirens hadn’t drawn nearer and Gwen hadn’t shepherded him away up a fire escape.  She scaled the wall, herself, acutely aware that Wade was taking the the stairs at a run to race her.

She vaulted lightly over the roof’s ledge before he took his last thundering steps and scaled the few ladder rungs to join her.

“Bitch,” he sighed. “I’m fast... ...it was all the back and forth, back and forth,” he defended himself by waving at the offending fire escape.

“What were you doing out here tonight?” Gwen demanded.

Wade threw his head back to stare at the heavens and slumped his shoulders in an exhausted way.

“Spare me.”

“I’m serious.”

“I just heard about this place through the grapevine ...I hate people and love dogs, so sue me,” he threw his hands up.

“You could have told me.”

“I mean ...yeah,” he conceded. “But then what fun was I supposed to have?  My datebook was free for the night.”

“... ...you knew I might be in the area,” she glared.

He knew what areas she patrolled.  Hell, he’d joined her on occasion when he was bored or if he was just feeling altruistic. Or, as he often added, if he wanted more time to stare at her ass in lycra.  He was usually thoroughly uninterested in her explanation of what material her suit was actually made of.

“I was crossing my fingers you’d be busy saving a kitten,” he shrugged and kicked at some trash on the rooftop. “You want some tacos?”

Gwen had been deciding whether she should bother being offended about the kitten comment and so started at the change of topic.

“Huh?”

“I haven’t had dinner yet; I’m hungry!”

Tacos always sounded good, so she gave it some serious consideration.

“I should stay out a little longer...”

“This do-gooder syndrome isn’t contagious, is it?  Because, frankly, I’m concerned...”

“Night, Wade,” she bid and headed for the roof’s edge.

A quick free fall and the rush of the wind while she swung back and forth across the streets should help her clear her head.

“I’ll save you some grub if you wanna stop by later...”

She paused, toes already dangling over the edge of the building.

“...and hot sauce?”

“Hells yeah.”

She gave a nod and then bounced herself over the edge of the building and dropped away.

Even though he knew better  - he’d seen plenty of her acrobatics  - it always gave Wade a brief second of panic when she did that.  Couldn’t she just cast a web and swing away like a normal human-spider-hybrid?  Her penchant for free-falling was just plain rude.


 

 Later in the night, Wade was clad only in sweatpants and a mask inspecting herbs out on his apartment’s patio. He’d come out to water the planter he kept hung on the railing, and now he was sure he was seeing some damage to the dill.  He didn’t know what might be making a meal of his little plant babies, and he also wasn’t entirely sure that it would be worth waging war to save his mini-garden.

No, gotta destroy them!

Yes, true. It was his and he did not take well to intruders.

“Problem?”

Well, okay.  Scratch that.  There was one intruder he could put up with.

Looking up, grin hidden in his mask, he found his little Spider Lady latched onto the neighboring balcony to watch him.

“Just coming up with a plan of attack.”

He hardly batted an eye when she sprung between balconies and nimbly levied herself over his railing to stand next to him.

“Who are we attacking?”

“So we are a team!”

She didn’t respond but bent to examine his planter box, so he joined her.

“...botany isn’t really my forte, but something has definitely taken up residence,” she poked a basil leaf with a white glove.

“Oh, I’ll get ‘em,” Wade nodded, a slight growl to his voice.

Gwen grinned and straightened up, adjusting the pack on her back.  She stashed changes of clothes on random rooftops around the city in case of emergency or a simple change of plans while patrolling, so she’d snatched one on her way here.

“Tacos?”

En mi casa, senorita,” Wade pulled back his slider door with a flourish.

Gracias.”

Wade’s apartment was both bigger and fuller than her own. The most gracious way to describe it would be to call it “busy.”  He had many things and no true organizational system, but she had been around enough to know that there was a (currently unknown) method to his madness.  Organized chaos, if you will.  It was better these days than it had once been, but Wade stoutly denied that this had anything to do with the fact that she had become a regular visitor.

Gwen made a beeline for his bathroom to relieve herself and change.  His restroom managed to not be disgusting, though for some reason the mental image of him actually cleaning the shower or scrubbing the toilet was humorous to her.   She reemerged in leggings and a tank top to find Wade in the kitchen piling food onto a plate that he then shoved into the microwave.

“Find those kittens?” Wade asked, watching her drop her backpack while she tried to tamp down her tussled, shoulder length hair.

He liked that she felt comfortable enough to make herself at home in his apartment -- nest here! Nest! -- but he wouldn’t tell her so.  He was much more likely to gripe at her for adding to his perfect mess. He confused himself sometimes.

Haven’t scared her off yet, though.  Score!

“No kittens.  Things were pretty quiet.”

He watched with interest as she rose her arms over her head and leaned back to stretch her back, then leaned side to side to make sure she got any leftover cricks out. All of this had the added effect of her pushing her chest out. Yeah, she could definitely do that here.  Actually, he was hard pressed to think of something he wouldn’t let her do there.

Gwen slumped onto a barstool, then, and propped her elbow on the counter so she could balance her chin there and rest her eyes.  She trusted him. He couldn’t help a surge of possessiveness seeing her there so calm.  He knew she didn’t need a protector. He’d seen her prove as much - Hot! -and yet seeing her relax and be vulnerable in his presence was heady.  Like she knew he could take care of her if she needed it.

And he could and he would.

Who else even trusted him with that kind of shit anymore?  Granted, he’d killed a good many people -- blood! Blood! Blood! -- but they deserved it.  Mostly.  Usually.

He sometimes wondered if Gwen ever would have come to like or - surely not - trust him if she hadn’t known him in his pre-cancer days to give her a greater reference for who he was.

Cut it out.

Because that was a depressing thought: that he wasn’t enough now.  That when all of his old friends died off and he was still wandering through life un-killable ....no one would know him.  Not really, anyway. No one would even come close to understanding that --

Cut. It. Out.

Even Vanessa -nope!- hadn’t been able to deal.  She’d known him pretty damn thoroughly, hadn’t she? But in the end couldn’t hang with his newer, darker side or his anger and plans for vengeance when he learned that Weapon X was still trafficking.  She’d called him obsessed, and then she’d bailed.  Shouldn’t she have understood?!  They’d kidnapped her to bait him!  Would have killed her and --

“Wade?”

Gwen’s smooth voice sliced through his escalating thoughts.

“Huh?” he grunted stupidly, hoping that she hadn’t been trying to talk for long.

She pointed a slim finger past him to the microwave, which was flashing zeros.  He hadn’t heard it beep.

“You alright?”

“Yup”

He opened up the microwave and snatched up the plate, ignoring the fact that it was too hot in his hand - his skin would be fine in a second.  Maybe he should become a waiter...

He batted away her hand reaching for the plate and slid it to her himself.  Then he dug into the fridge for the promised hot sauce.

“Thanks.”

They shared a fondness for Mexican food, and the appreciation showed on her face.  He was sure she’d worked up an appetite on the streets, but he also knew from perusing her kitchen on occasion that she sometimes skimped on her grocery shopping.  She had a job, sure, but she had to pay for a New York City apartment and then was something of a penny-pincher.   She hadn’t grown up with much for most of her life, what with her mom being sick and paying for care on one income.  Gwen didn’t talk about it a lot, but she said enough that he’d pieced together a pretty clear picture.

He had offered her advice on this topic, of course.  He didn’t see why she wasn’t willing to pillage off of the criminals she turned-in.  She was doing good work and definitely wasn’t getting paid overtime for her extracurricular efforts. Or, and he liked this idea a even more, he thought she should totally demand a commission paycheck from Tony Stark any time she helped the Avengers.  She didn’t like that idea, either -plus, she insisted, Stark helped her tweak her outfit(s) for free.

So, whatever, he picked up tacos and shit.  He sure as hell didn’t work for free.

“Mmm..thanks, Wade,” she’d already finished a taco and was forking down some rice and beans.

“Say it again - huskier this time,” he requested, leaning onto the counter.

She let herself laugh, clearly feeling content, and he let it wash over him.  Banter and annoyance was fun, but she was actually relaxed and he liked that, too.

“Thanks Wade,” she did repeat, dropping her voice an octave.

It wasn’t quite the way she actually sounded in bed, but the effort was there.  B+.

“Ohhh,” he gave a theatrical shudder.

She smiled again.

“Thanks Wade,” this attempt was slower and silkier and yet also missed the mark a bit.

Still, his eyes crinkled at her playfulness.

“Careful, baby girl.  If everything you say is directed straight to my dick I might want to cash in my favor early,” he crooned.  “Teach you a lesson for interrupting me.”

Oh yeaaah, the favor.

Gwen was still smiling a bit and cocked a brow at him.

“Think you could?  Teach me a lesson, I mean...”

Oh, the shudder in his spine was real that time.  She was daring him.  Daring?  Him?

She sure is.

“Don’t tease, Blondie.”

There was a hint of a growl in his warning, and the air seemed to shift around them.  Something tickled, just faintly, at the back of Gwen’s neck saying she might want to stop, that she couldn’t be sure this was fun and games.

She had interrupted him, after all. 

She had certainly caught him up to no good before. However, this had usually only happened at times he already knew she was there and feasibly should have expected some interference.  This time she had shown up unannounced and taken over.  Maybe ....maybe they needed to talk about that?

But that felt heavy and she needed some more sustenance first.

“I would never,” she quipped carelessly to test the waters.

“Uh-huh...”

He continued to watch her so she scooped up a taco and handed it to him.  Wade took it, because of course he did, and downed it.

The moment of wariness passed from Gwen’s face, which was just as well.  He certainly didn’t want her to be scared, but if she was going to dangle dares around to see if he wanted to play ...then he was gonna play.

“...you redecorated.”

He set aside the beer he’d been washing down the taco with and followed her line of sight.  She was apparently slowing down a bit on the food and was lazily looking around, and he knew what she’d seen.

“Yeah, I’m fancy like that...” he tugged his mask back down over his mouth and chin.

It was an unnecessarily large photo of dogs playing poker that he’d hung up on the other side of the living room by the sliding door.  He had some plans to replace the doggy faces with cut-outs of the Avengers or some politicians or some shit so he wouldn’t be quite so cliche, but he hadn’t done it yet.

But he knew full well she didn’t care if it was a Monet -okay, she might care about that in case he’d stolen it - or a corny poster, or a naked Jenna Jameson --well, okay, she might not be into that... but wouldn't it be hot if she was? Yup!

No, she just knew that it was covering a bloodstain that he’d never fully been able to clean.  

He’d been pretty low when he’d moved out of the apartment he and Vanessa had shared, and so what if he had blown his brain out a couple times.  It had stopped him thinking about it for a while, hadn’t it?  But Gwen wasn’t a fan.  He’d already gotten it wiped up as much as he could and just told her to think of the blotch as a reminder that he could come back from serious damage.  She’d stopped bringing it up since it agitated him, but she also never sat on that side of the room.

And then last week he’d been eating Pad Thai and staring at it, and he thought maybe it really was morbid enough to be bad for him.  He could get his twisted kicks somewhere else; this was maybe just a reminder of Vanessa that he didn’t need.

So he’d made an impulse purchase.  No regrets so far.

“I like it,” she chirped.

“I have exquisite taste in art.”

Grinning, she twisted back around to polish off some more rice.

“Do you play poker?”

“Strip poker,” he leered.

He only earned an eye roll for that.

“Used to play a bit,” he shrugged a broad shoulder. “Kindda helped pass the time back in the Army.”

Gwen paused, her full fork suspended over her plate.  He never talked much about that time in his life, so he wasn’t surprised he caught her off-guard.  Rather than extrapolate, he hooked a finger under her hand and guided it towards her mouth.

“Sorry for gawking,” she snorted at herself.

He waved the comment away carelessly and shuffled over to his old school boombox - because hell yeah - on top of his fridge to click it on. ‘Boombastic’ blared from the speakers, but he caught Gwen’s flinch and dialed it down.

Enhanced hearing.  Right.

“Now this is music to twerk to,” he popped his ass a bit.

“Is it, though?” Gwen laughed.

“Hey, this is good shit.  Shaggy at his best,” Wade lectured her.

“I didn’t say it wasn’t,” Gwen held up innocent hands before grabbing her last taco.

Indeed, she was bopping a bit to the music soon enough and mouthing some words.  Good; she didn’t need a full-on education.  He continued his dancing in the kitchen, enjoying the time warp back to the 90’s.  Simpler times.

“Hold up.  What’s the math?” he froze himself. “You were alive when this came out, right?”

“What year?”

“...’95?”

“Yup.”

He made a show of wiping fake sweat off his brow as if relieved, then continued his solo dance.

“And if I hadn’t been?” Gwen smirked.  “No more touching?”

“Oho, there’s veeeery few things that could keep me from touching you,” he assured her.

He grew closer without missing a step.

“...you’re actually pretty good at that.”

“Pfff; you ain’t seen nothing...”

He grabbed the seat of her stool and gave a sharp tug so the seat slid out away from the counter.  Then he twisted her in his direction.

The lap dance that ensued was enthusiastic if slightly marred by the height of the stool.

“My turn!”  Wade cheered at the end of the song.  “I love En Vogue!  Total inspiration for Destiny’s Child, ya know?”

He tugged Gwen from her seat and stole her perch.

“And this works ...how?” she eyed the stool’s height.

“You’re acrobatic - figure it out,” he clasped his hands behind his head to wait.

“C’mon,” she jerked her chin at the couch.

She was blushing but was being an awfully good sport, so he vaulted the couch rather than heckle.  He kicked his cluttered coffee table out of the way and sat, legs spread wide, to get comfortable.

Give it to me, baby.

Gwen came around the couch smiling but looking unsure, and if he hadn’t already been sporting a bit of a hard-on he would’ve been then.

But he did take a little pity.

Yeah - teach her.

He crooked a finger at her and then wiggled his fingers for her to take his hand.  He tugged her between his legs and turned her around.  His hands skimmed her hips and guided them to sway back and forth to the slower beat.

She perhaps derived some courage from his help and swiftly took over.  If she wasn’t a good dancer he didn’t much care, more concerned with tracking each slow roll of her body and trying to get a step ahead of her teasing.  She leaned in only to dip away if he reached for her. There had most definitely been more touching during his own lap dance.

More, more, more.

When he thought he’d exhibited enough patience - a couple minutes was good enough, right? - he pulled her into his lap to grind directly against her ass.

“I’ve never been to a strip club, but I don’t think this is allowed,” Gwen huffed.

“Never?” he momentarily froze.

Humor danced in her eyes when she glanced over her shoulder to shake her head.

“Huh ...well, yes, this is exactly how it works,” he fibbed freely and leaned back to pillow his head on the back of the cushions.  “Juuust ...like that,” he groaned.

“Hmmm,” a content sigh escaped her and her hands squeezed his thighs where she’d braced herself.

Wade lifted a hand into her hair to pull back so she’d fall against him languidly, but he could still work her hips against him at his leisure so long as she kept her back arched just ...like...that.

He growled happily, his sweatpants hiding nothing.

“Somehow I’m sure you’re lying,” she murmured.

And now her voice was that right kind of husky.

“Gonna have to take my word for it, Blondie,” he teased, turning his face into her neck so the leather of his mask scraped along the tender skin.  “Unless you wanna make me stop ...”

Gwen paused and eased back against him.  The safe word he brought up from time to time flashed to mind, but she didn’t think that was what he meant.   He had only just made jokes about teaching her a lesson...

“Would you ...like that? Ya know ...me trying to stop you?”

Wade froze, too, because the question felt like a test.  Admiral Ackbar may as well have been in the room screaming: “It’s a trap!

“I don’t actually wanna fight you -- or force you,” he felt compelled to add, and he loosened his hold on her completely incase she wanted some distance from this.  “But ...I like to play.  Games are fun.”

Gwen did sit up straighter, but she stayed on his lap.  It took her a beat or two, but when she looked over her shoulder it was with a smirk and a mischievous slant to her brow.  She looked like fucking sin.

A dare.  Again?

Yesssss.

She sprung to her feet and turned to face him.  She’d been able to take advantage of a (mostly) quiet night to swing around to her content, she’d been fed, and she finally felt good just by being here with him.  If there was a promise of more, then, sure, she could probably play. 

Surprisingly, it being a game didn’t negate a small spike of adrenaline.

“Rules?”

Wade shrugged.

“Alright,” she stared down at him. “Is that how you’re gonna catch me, Wade?”

The challenge brought him straight to his feet.  He wasn’t going to lounge on his ass if Gwen was ready to go.  He made an immediate swipe for her that she nimbly dodged.  Then she leapt onto the wall near the new poster and then hopped over the armchair so that was between them.

“Fuck.”

His apartment didn’t leave a plethora of spare space, but she could use every inch there was.  He was quick, too, though, and his energy had not all been spent tonight- he could channel that restless aggression into this challenge.

He was around the chair in a flash, but Gwen took to the ceiling.

He jumped and caught her elbow to pull her down when she tried to skitter overhead, but instead he found himself suspended in place.  He grunted in annoyance and gave a heave, causing them both to fall to the floor.  Whether her sticky digits couldn’t hold them both, her elbow had been giving out, or she simply didn’t want to bust-out the drywall ...he wasn’t sure.  The physical integrity of his apartment likely thanked her but, then again, he would probably never get his security deposit back on this place.

Focus up.

Gwen had already swiveled around, so he rose to his knees, caught her waist, and used his weight to try to press her back down.  Her hands clamped onto his, but then she paused for a beat...

“Do whattcha wanna do, Blondie,” he gave her an encouraging little shake.

Her shoulders moved in a huff that he interpreted as a laugh, so he pressed his weight down onto her shoulder gain.  This time she resisted it and then a sharp punch to his clasped hands forced them apart.  She was out of his grasp quickly enough that he stumbled forward.

He was equal parts annoyed and proud, and he loved it.

We can actually play!

And how often was that the case?

He chased her to the kitchen, where they rounded the counter a couple times.  That was so straight out of a RomCom that he had to break the script and launched himself over the island, heedless that some things fell aside.

She leapt up to crouch on the fridge, a threatening hand hovering over his beloved boom-box while she smirked.

“Don’t you dare,” he pointed sternly at her.

There was no need to bring Salt & Peppa into this.

Gwen snorted and shoved herself off to dive back over the counter and tuck into a roll in the living room.  He clocked her movement for the door and raced after her.  He made a dive of his own and caught her shirt fully enough to unbalance her and pull her back to the floor.

As long as he could keep her within arms reach they could stay on an even field.  She was scrappy and strong, but he was the more experienced fighter;  hell, he’d been helping her to improve her technique up on his building’s roof plenty of times.  He could tell that she was holding back with her more highly enhanced strength - which felt fair rather than full-on condescending - and without that he did have an advantage in close quarters.

But she was flexible, and she knew how to spar well without doing real damage since she’d been training with the Avengers, not just him. Plus, he was sure that she suspected he wasn’t quite willing to truly put every bit of his own strength into this, her healing abilities be damned.

So they scrambled around on the floor, and it wasn’t sexual on the surface ...except that it also was.

OhYeahItTotallyIs!

Some part of  his primal brain was firing on all cylinders and was 110% into this -- Conquer, take!  Earn it!  The other part of his brain still working was relieved that a small smile donned her face even as she grunted and jabbed at the arm he was balanced on.

As his equilibrium shifted, she extended a hand and shot a web out toward the wall so she could yank herself away.

“Shiiit,” he cursed his failure to expect that move and scrambled to his feet so he could chase her toward the hall.

She glanced over her shoulder to see him in hot pursuit, and a laugh bubbled out of her.

Had he died and somehow gone to heaven without realizing?

Don’t even mind!

She slid to a stop in the doorway to his bedroom, and the abrupt shift brought him to a stop, too, mildly alarmed.

But she smirked.

“You left a window open, Wilson.”

Fuck.

That.

He launched forward in a fit of speed, throwing himself into his room.  She danced away from his sweeping hand to hop onto the wall, but he saw what was happening as she re-angled her body.  He kept moving, and when she made a jump for the window he snatched her out of the air.  All he had to do then was let her momentum work for him so he could throw her bodily to the bed.  She bounced slightly on the mattress before scooting up toward the pillows.  He was surprised the frame didn’t creak or crack in protest, but he wouldn't have cared if it had.  He was painfully hard by now and moved straight forward to prove it.

“Still goin’ for it?”

He planted a knee on the bed and clamped a tight hand around her ankle. Gwen shook her head, panting lightly.

“So I win?”

She scowled, apparently only half ready to concede, so he pulled her down the bed by her ankle until she was flat on her back again.

“I win?” he checked again after crawling fully on top of her.

Gwen gave a nod and reached for his mask.  Wade reeled back but did lift his mask himself, though only enough to uncover his mouth.  She pulled him down to her immediately, and he was happy to kiss her back but was also shimmying off her leggings and underwear without hesitation.

“Best foreplay ever,” he panted when he parted from her to pull back and throw away her bottoms.

He moved next to shuck his own clothes.  This was exceedingly simple since he was going commando, which, honestly, he did as much as possible.

“You ready?  Tell me your ready...”

Wade spat in his hand to rub along his length.  Gwen couldn’t say she found that super appealing, but her body was also thrumming with excitement and, yeah, she didn’t want to wait and risk letting that feeling fade.

“Mmhmm,” she confirmed with a nod and reached for him, but he just sat back on his knees between her legs and hiked her up to him. “Ohhh...”

Wade wasn't a small man, and all of his skin was uneven.  She’d never told him she enjoyed that aspect of his penis because she wasn’t positive he would appreciate it, but it brought extra pleasure to the stretch of him.  On second thought, maybe he would take the compliment to the other extreme and commission a mold of his dick into a line of sex toys.  That sounded very Deadpoool-esque.

“Wade,” she grabbed at the hard planes of his abdomen, her nails scraping.

Wade liked the sensation so close to his groin and thrust harder into it.  He let his head tip back as he fucked slowly into her, finally relishing in the relief.

The basest of this thoughts had quieted some, but he had won.  She’d conceded to him, which meant she wanted it, too.  She wasn’t taking charge, now.  She’d let go of that.  She always gave up to him; all he had to do was ask.

Yes. Yesss...

Wade picked up his pace but then paused to pull back and gather up her legs to throw over his shoulders.  She was nearly bent in half, but his girl was flexible and didn’t have a complaint.  She only grunted at the change in position and then moaned long and loud as he continued to move into her this way.

God she opened up so good to him.  She made herself vulnerable to him.  If he could consume her, he would - and he didn’t even really know what that meant.  He just knew it was true.

“Fuck, Gwen ....fuck yes,” he groaned.

She was tight and she was perfect, and he could do this forever.  Was that possible? If it was, he was gonna do it. He was gonna try.

Gwen gasped and panted, letting herself just bask in sensation as much as she could. She wasn’t in much position to move except to squeeze at Wade’s sides, which just left her to feel. 

Feel good. 

And she’d been sitting idle in bummer-town for a while now, so this day was a relief.  Wade was a relief.  Had she really been mad at him earlier that night?

“Wade...”

She wanted to pull him closer, but she couldn’t.  It was impossible to be more exposed to him, and yet he wasn’t close enough.

“Wade...”

She felt too much, and yet still not quite enough.  It almost overwhelmed her.  But the feel of him inside of her grounded her, the hard, fast pushing and pulling. She was secure there and not actually floating away.

“Wade,” she whimpered this time when he leaned in closer.

Her legs stretched to the brink of discomfort, but this, too, grounded her and she relished it.

“You like that, huh? Opening up for me,” Wade grunted, and she just nodded in silent response.  “So good for me.  So good, Gwen...”

He tempered his pace, then, his thrusts still strong but slow and dragging.  Gwen squirmed as much as she could to protest the loss of friction.

“I’m gonna stay right here; I could die happy right here...fuck...”

Gwen blinked and tried to focus on that, but she couldn’t quite. She felt like he was saying important things, but she too concerned with the way her heart was thrumming too fast compared to his slow thrusts, and did he even know what he was doing to her?  She felt a moment of panic when tears pricked at the backs of her eyes.

Not bad tears, she thought.  Overwhelmed, overstimulated, relieved tears.  Tears nonetheless, and the vulnerability of that alarmed her.   She reached for Wade’s mask, but he managed to catch her wrist first.

“Please,” she gasped. “Please?”

It was too much, and she couldn’t check in with him - not really- if she couldn’t see him.  He was hard to read anyway, but she needed to see him.  He released her wrist without tossing her hand away, so she squeezed her fingers into the thick fabric and pulled it from his head. He wouldn’t look at her right way - he never did - but she rubbed his jaw and neck until he did, still pressing in and out of her in a deliberately slow fashion. 

Not enough.

Too much.

His eyes were cautious, as usual when he was exposed.  He was strong but vulnerable, too, and somehow that relaxed her.

“Faster,” she plead.

Oh, I can do that.

Wade braced himself a little better and tilted his shoulders forward just a bit further to extend her legs straighter. She moaned and bracketed her hands to either side of his neck, but she gave no painful complaint.  And, shit, that was hot.  Could he turn her inside out completely?  Not for the first time, a litany of possible sexual positions danced across his mind’s eye, spurring him on.

“Ah...!” 

There wasn’t pain in her face, so he ducked in to latch his mouth to her neck.  He could smother his own groans there and yet hear her moaning and gasping ...then a small shout that almost sounded surprised but was satisfaction ringing in his years.

Yesyesyesyesyes...

...

Gwen winced when Wade gathered himself together enough to push himself back, which made him pause. 

“You good?”

“Just stiff,” she nodded, voice soft.

So he eased back more carefully, letting her leg muscles move slowly back into a relaxed position.

“Super hot, Blondie,” he complimented, still kneeling between her thighs with her knees now draped over his elbows.

“Oh yeah?” her grin was sluggish and her eyes half-lidded.

“Oh yeah,” he confirmed lecherously.

And since she wasn’t trying to move him out of her way to shake her legs out yet, he palmed her thighs to move them around as his leisure.  Slowly, in case it was painful, he lifted them up a bit and then pressed them out into the splits.  She only adjusted her pelvis but didn’t protest or flinch.  She just watched him lazily and was slightly amused judging by the quirk in the corner of her mouth.  She wasn’t even protesting how exposed this made her, that’s how content and blissed-out she still was. Then again, he supposed there was no part of her that he hadn’t already seen.

“Damn...” he praised.

“So if I win next time, do I get to force you into the splits?”

He internally resented the word force since she had moved so pliably and willingly, but he knew what she meant.

“You wanna fuck me like this?” he rutted lightly against her and then slowly slowly let go of her legs. “I’ll walk to you to the sex toy store myself...” he promised and dropped onto his elbows above her.

He didn’t particularly desire the idea, but if she had it in her mind it was ...worth exploring with her.  She had so far been willing to let him fuck into her every which way he wanted, and a certain branch of logic suggested he could try to return the favor.

But she visibly balked.

“I didn’t mean that ...I’m sure I could find a more traditional way to enjoy a victory,” she smirked and lifted her head a fraction to catch his lips.

“Traditional.  Boring,” he retreated just enough to quip, though his asshole unclenched in gratitude.

“...are you into that?” Gwen dropped her head back down.

She merely sounded curious. 

“Getting railed? ...nah, not as much as you are,” he smirked and rolled his hips against her again. “I mean, I know there’s pleasure down that road ...but ...also some discomfort. Not really my shtick.”

He could see some wheels turning in Gwen’s little spider head, but she didn’t seem too concerned and apparently had no further questions. A few more quiet moments of just breathing and quiet touching passed before she patted his shoulder and pushed lightly so he’d move to the side.  She rose, and Wade watched carefully as she stood and shifted her hips around and shook-out her legs.

“All good?  Need a massage?” 

That could quickly lead to another round, but it wasn’t like he was going to complain.

“I could always use a massage,” Gwen grinned over her shoulder yet again that night. “But I’m good ...a little sore but it’ll go away.”

That’s right. She didn’t heal up as quickly as him -thank you very much - but faster than average and more than adequate.

“Sorry not sorry, baby doll.”

He flopped onto his back while she disappeared down the hall.  She was gone a little longer than he expected, but he racked his brain about any troubling messes he might’ve left in there and came up blank.  He was about to sit up when she came padding back in, loose tank top and sports bra still in place.  Hindsight told him he should’ve gotten those off, but what-the-fuck-ever; he’d been far too horny.

Gwen crawled back onto the bed and curled herself around his side, resting her head on his chest.  She wasn’t always quiet this cuddly, but he didn’t question it.  She was warm, which meant he didn’t have to think about moving to fetch a blanket.

“Wade, you awake?” Gwen ventured after a bit.

His breathing was even enough that she couldn’t be sure.

“Yup. Ready for another go so soon?”

“I was just wondering,” she shoved herself up onto her elbow, and Wade went perfectly still under her like he was prepared for a blow.

“Do we need to talk about earlier?  At the dog fighting thing, I mean...”

“...is this about me smacking your ass?” he whined.

“No ...although I’m not sure how I felt about that,” she remembered.

“Great; glad I reminded you -- damn it.  Look it’s not like I’d compromise you in front of other people.  He was more focused in-”

“I know,” Gwen snickered.  “And, no, I meant that I interrupted you.  I took over and stopped you....”

“Uh-huh ...and?”

“And that’s it.  Were you mad?”

“Oh, pfff,” he dismissed and tucked one hand behind his head while the other played with her hair. “No.  I don’t mind you being bossy.”

Gwen’s eyes searched his face, and he itched for his mask but ignored the impulse.  He’d already given in to its removal for the night and he’d pretend it was just fine.

“I mean it, Blondie,” he tugged a lock of her hair to try to get her to lay back down.  “You stay your moral little self and try to tell me what’s what out there as long as I can be in charge when we’re naked, kapishe?  ...aw, hell, who am I kidding?  You can boss me then, too, if you entice me,” he winked.

“I was being serious,” Gwen sighed because she wasn’t entirely convinced.

Sure about the naked bart; he did seem to find it titillating when she got eager or pushy and he’d made a dominatrix joke or two about her suit that might have been half-true.  On the whole, however, he did not like to be told what to do.  He was much more apt to buck tradition or simply do the opposite of what was wanted.  He did trust her, though ...so perhaps he didn’t mind her lead.  At least not if his personal stakes were low.

“Me, too,” he flipped back at her.

Was promptly rested his eyes shut but didn’t feel her move, so he knew she was still watching him in the dim light.  He peeked an eye open to confirm this and sighed.

“Gwen, I don’t care if you don’t want to kill people.  I mean, it would kindda be hot if you did,” he paused to consider, “but who gives a shit?   I wouldn’t bat an eye if that guy were dead, but I’m not crying that he’s alive, either.   I’m good with my own rules cuz I don’t give a fuck.  If you wanna try to convert me and save my soul ...that’s sweet of you.  Good luck, though.”

“Don’t say that ...”

She’d seen it, that when it came down to it he was one of the good guys.  Did he take things to far?  Sure.  He’d run right up to the line, kick some dirt at it, and then cross it if he so pleased.  But she also didn’t consider him to be one of the criminals she needed to web-up and turn over to the cops.  Maybe that was a self-serving distinction.    Sure she’d also seen his ugly and his twisted -- his crazy, as he would say-- but that didn’t negate it all.  Of course it did overshadow a lot of things....

“Ugh,” he protested as always and then flinched when she pinched him.  “What’s it matter?  I’m not headed for damnation or pearly gates either way.”

Gwen didn’t have a retort for that.

“Too morbid?” he checked when she did finally relax and shift against him to lay her head back on his chest.

“No,” she answered a little too quickly.  “It’s not like I want you to die...”

She just didn’t like the loneliness of his statement either.

“You just jealous I’m gonna stay young and bright forever?” he parried away from danger.

Gwen snorted. Success.

“Don’t worry -- I’ll still rock your world when you’re white and wrinkly.  I don’t have a lot of scruples.”

“That could take a while,” he felt her shrug against him.  “I don’t heal like you but Bruce thinks my expedited healing could slow my aging.”

“Noiceeee,” he drawled, then asked the doozy.  “Does he think you can die?”

He wasn’t sure how he hoped she would answer.

Her shoulder moved gain.

“Hard to say when there’s only one way to know for sure, but Bruce is pretty sure I would ...that I’d regenerate damage too slow if it was too serious...”

“...so just me and old Wolverine in the end...”

“Maybe more,” Gwen pointed out helpfully.

“Eh, I’d hate to be stuck with a real asshole. New people are the worst.”

“Hmmm...”

Gwen hadn’t meant to spark this particular conversation.  She didn’t want to picture Wade in a post-apocalypse all alone, though maybe some zombie would amuse him ...

She shoved the thought away and tried to rest, focusing on his heartbeat under her ear and Wade humming alone to ‘Waterfalls,’ which they could still hear from the radio down the hall.

 

Chapter Text

Gwen wasn’t wholly sure why she was getting dressed-up when there wasn’t actually anyone to impress.

Maybe because it felt respectful.

Maybe because getting ready kept her busy and distracted.

Whatever the case, she’d curled the blonde hair that hovered over her shoulders, and she had on a bit more make-up than usual.  Even though it was stupid; even though it didn’t really matter.

It mattered.

She blinked at her reflection a few more moments in the mirror, where she stood in a bra and underwear.  She dusted fingers over a splotchy bruise over her ribs, which was still a little sensitive but was already fading and would probably be gone by the time she went to bed.   Things had been a little rough the night before, and she’d stayed out longer than usual.  She had almost stopped by Wade’s to see if he was home --there were a number of other things he might be up to at 2:00am  that she didn’t want to consider -- but had decided against it on the way over.

Gwen had ultimately wanted to be alone.

She knew she was being a wallowing asshole, but she’d embraced it for the night and stayed home tired and sore and sad.

She turned from the mirror and plucked the black pants from her bed to step into and shimmy on.  There was a dress tossed on the end of her bed, too, though she’d decide to leave it.  She didn’t wear dresses all that often, and her dad had never seemed to know what to do with her when she wanted to embrace her more girly side anyway.  Pants and flats would suit just fine.

Not that she was sure that he was actually “watching over her” or that visiting his grave to “talk” to him even made any sense whatsoever.   But it did feel ...right.  Sad but also nice at the same time.

She did like the thought of him watching her and knowing her though.  Like maybe it would make up for the way she’d been kind of an asshole after her mom died.  Like maybe he’d see her and understand what her secrecy and sneaking had been about.  Like he’d see her allegiances and how she spent her nights and be proud of how she’d pulled herself together.

Her phone pinged while she was reaching for her shirt, and she almost ignored it. 

She had been screening contact attempts from friends.  Well-meaning friends who knew the anniversary of her dad’s death because they cared about her and they’d cared for him, too.

So she picked up her phone because she felt bad for being reclusive.  Even if she assured Mary Jane that she didn’t need company, the other girl would understand and kindly let her be like she had last year.  Or maybe she and Betty would show up  at her apartment anyway, like the year before that, but they’d only come for a hug and to drop off some food.  She didn’t have to all-out hide --melodramatic much?

But it wasn’t either of her oldest friends shooting her a supportive text.  ‘STARK’ lit the screen when she tapped it.

...did he know what today was?  That probably shouldn’t be shocking.

But the text she opened just said: ‘Tower.’

Shit.

Right now?  Why?  Was New York really going to fall to pieces today?

Or maybe they wanted her to hop on a jet with them for some even bigger issue ...that happened now and again and was exhilarating (not to mention still flattering to nab an invite).

But right now?

She wanted to stamp her feet childishly, but the impulse was fleeting.  Morbid as it may be, her dad wasn’t going anywhere.

If he had been there, he would’ve understood.  Of all people, the man who’d pulled long shifts at the precinct, missed tournaments and teachers conferences for work, and who’d come home after particularly bad shifts just to sit down and immediately fall asleep even if she wanted help with homework  ...he would get this.

While she shucked her dress pants and scrambled into her suit, she realized life had really come full circle.

Only she crawled out of windows instead of driving squad cars.

______

 

She made good time to Avengers Tower, scaling the glass sides by shooting webs progressively higher and leaping upwards--she found crawling the whole thing more tiring.  She then nimbly hopped the railing of Stark’s penthouse patio, as this was the entrance that she found garnered the least attention.

Gwen came and went fairly often at the tower, though not as much as she once had.  If it wasn’t immediately Avengers related she’d come through the front doors like a normal citizen.  Otherwise she had permission to enter this way to avoid waiting on elevators.

She thought she’d died and gone to heaven back when Stark had first started granting her these liberties.  She had idolized him from a young age like any budding nerd, always tuning-out her dad’s grumblings about his pomposity.  When she’d developed her abilities -- thank you field trip to labs where test subjects clearly weren’t tracked closely enough --she’d devoted even more attention to him.

These days, she is incredibly grateful to him, and she knows damn well she owes him.  Stark had helped her immeasurably with her suits.  She never would have managed the updates she had now without him, and that had saved her a lot of pain ...maybe even saved her life.  She would always be in his debt for that.  Plus, he had kept her secrets when he first found her, and he really had given her some good advice when she was a bit younger and a lot more reckless and angry.  He’d been condescending, about it, sure, but the right content had been there, and she’d needed to hear it.

But ...she had tamped-down her hero worship over time.    She wasn’t stupid, and she knew no one could live up on a pedestal like that forever - not even the famous Iron Man.  So she wasn’t mad or anything, not really.  Real life just wasn’t fantasy.

Tony Stark was a good man, but he was a little too smart for his own good and his ego showed it.  He was brilliant and powerful and hardly anyone told him no. He’d seen too much and done too much, so to hell with it.  He probably deserved the chip on his shoulder.  But all of that genius allowed him tunnel-vision, which might be why he still tended to think he could micro-manage her.  He’d seemed to miss that Gwen had been holding down her Spider Woman gig for years now.  She’d grown up and could make her own decisions without him, so she'd had to learn to stand up to him.

But she was grateful.  Damn grateful.

She would - and did - drop everything to help him and the team.

It was just that she had come to understand the reality of him now, and she accepted it.  Deep respect without idolization was possible.

Gwen padded across the sleek balcony patio toward the tinted, automatic doors that would lead inside.  She hoped she wouldn’t startle Pepper by letting herself in, but she knew that JARVIS would tell her where to meet everyone so she’d only be there a moment.

However, when the glass doors slid open she saw she didn’t have to ask the trusted A.I anything.  Most of the crew was gathered right there in front of her.  Tony Stark looked perfectly at ease, as did Steve Rogers, Agents Barton and Romanoff, and also a man she’s never spoken to but has seen: the recently found and re-homed Winter Soldier.

She stopped near the portable drink cart by the doors that she knew for a fact was often put to use during get-togethers out on the patio.  She knew because she had been invited to such gatherings.  And, yes, partying with The Avengers was still a supper cool reality that sometimes made her laugh and pinch herself ...but what the fuck.

“What’s going on?” Gwen took in the room and tugged off her mask, her breathing just a little uneven from the climb.

She saw Natasha cock her head curiously but thought nothing of it.  She was busy trying to figure out why she’d been summoned without explanation if there didn’t seem to be an emergency.

“Good of you to join.  Want a drink?” Tony offered, noting where she now stood.

“No.”

“Fine,” he held up hands in mock-surrender at her clipped response.

“...did I miss something?” she scanned the room again and then reached into the mesh, double-lined pocket at her thigh for her phone.

Nope, there was no further information in the text that she’d missed.

“Yeah, the proper dress code,” he continued, clearly somewhat amused.

“We just wanted a hand,” Steve interceded.

“Oh...okay...”

“Yeah, come on and get comfy,” Clint suggested.

He was slouched lazily on the couch, no tension or alarm anywhere to be seen.  Whatever they wanted clearly wasn’t that big of a deal.

“I’m good,” she insisted, voice still clipped and annoyed.

She felt like she was being placated; was bad news coming? And why was Mr. Winter Soldier just standing around staring? What were they all doing?

“We didn’t mean to put you on-guard;  everyone’s fine,” Steve continued, verifying what she was already figuring out herself. “We just wanted some help around here.  We thought maybe you could train with Bucky.”

He gestured to his silent friend.  Old friends, she’d been informed. Real old.  Sergeant James Buchanan ‘Bucky’  Barnes.  Right.  She’d been downloaded.

“What?”

“We’ve got a lot going on still tracking Hydra personnel and artifacts.  Thor’s even coming back soon,” he sighed.  “He’s,” --he glanced at his pal, who wasn’t bothering to speak up himself just yet --“hesitant to join-in on all this right now...and you’re one of the few people actually strong enough to train with him...”

“Which is a statement I don’t resent at all,” Clint droned sarcastically from his seat.

Captain America was calling her strong! That stroked her own ego nicely.

Except that it also fell flat.

“I’m sorry; I’m sure you’re nice,” she waved a hand at the man in question, then turned back to Steve with narrowed eyes. “Is this a babysitting gig?”

“No,” Steve answered.

But Tony said “yes” at the same time.

“Tony,” Steve groaned.

“What?” he threw his hands up. “Barnes isn’t ready to return to the big leagues again yet, but we also don’t want to leave him alone to his own devices all the time ... ..someone’s gotta keep him company.”

“I can’t believe I came here for this...”

She wouldn’t cry there.  Nope.

Sure wouldn’t.

“I’m sorry; were you busy with your second rate newspaper?”

This was one of Tony’s favorite gripes, for he couldn’t fathom why she’d declined to work for Stark Industries and was, quote, squandering her potential instead.

“Jesus, Stark,” Clint slumped further into the couch to settle-in for the usual bickering.

Natasha, as per, was a bit more attentive.

“Where were you going today, Gwen?” her smooth voice slid into the argument.

She’d already assessed the younger woman’s appearance, and saw that even though her mask had toussled up her curled hair and marred her make-up job, she’d clearly put more energy into her appearance than usual for something (probably) other than shits and giggles.

“Nowhere.”

The way her back went rigid belied this statement, but Natasha just gazed steadily at her.  She could wait her out; she’d gotten the truth from more well-trained individuals.

“A date?” Tony laughed, though he tried to stifle it and waved his hands in apology. “Sorry we interrupted.  Sorry.”

Gwen’s blue eyes tore from the red-headed spy to glare at Stark.

“Bye”

“No,” he chuckled as she turned.  “Stay for that drink.  We owe you...”

He had drawn nearer and was reaching for tumblers on the shelves next to her.   She shot her hand out to cover the glass he was going for before he even laid a hand on it.

“I already said no.”

He rose an unamused eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest, covering the Black Sabbath t-shirt.  He was the picture of unimpressed, and not that long ago this would’ve crushed her.  That’s not what she felt just now, though.

“You sure about that, kid?”  his voice was more brusque and business now.  “Seems like you could stand to unwind...”

“Jeeze...”

“Maybe you’ve been staring down back alleys and mom n’ pop shops a little too lo--”

“And what the fuck is so wrong with that?”  she shouted him down and kicked the drink cart in front of her out of the way hard enough that it slammed into the wall and broke, most of its contents crashing to the floor.

The room shifted into attention while glass tinkled to the floor, and Gwen knew immediately that she should be embarrassed ...but she wasn’t.  That had felt good.

And she wasn’t specifically trying to scare Stark, but she had to give him credit for not stepping back or even flinching.  His only visible response was to tick his chin up a little higher.  A little haughtier.

“Trust me, I know you’re working on global peace level shit and it’s amazing; don’t I come every time you call?” she thrust a finger at -- but not into -- his chest.  “And I know everything I do is street-level to you, and a waste of my time ...but it matters.  If it’s not Hydra or SHIELD or whatever you’re cooking up in here, then it’s not on your radar.  But it matters to me, and I’m pretty sure it matters to parents who can buy groceries for their families because I found their mugger and gave them their money back.  And it matters to the lady who didn’t get raped last night because I got to her in time.  It’s not alien technology, I know that, but it’s real.” 

His shoulders lost some tension but Stark otherwise didn’t acknowledge that she’d spoken.  He didn’t scoff or argue back, which, to be honest, she’d been expecting.

“Seriously?” she shrugged out her hands.

This was suddenly anticlimactic, and the adrenaline that had surged with her anger was already fading.  Again, she knew she should probably be embarrassed -- she usually wasn’t prone to tantrums. Today, though, her emotions were raw and right on the surface, and he’d poked. 

Always poking and prodding.

He’d wanted her to be friendly neighborhood Spider Woman years ago when it had suited him, but he didn't always see it anymore.

“I think you made your point,” he responded, tone now devoid of mockery.  “Anything else you wanna break?  Pepper said I have too much shit.”

His concession sucked the wind out of her proverbial sails.  Maybe she did want to break more shit, but she wouldn’t.

“Sorry about that,” she glared at the drink cart as if it had gone all kamikaze completely of its own accord.

The rustling of clothing to her right might have been inaudible to someone else, but she heard it.  She also felt the air shift with movement behind her.

Gwen twisted and caught Steve’s wrist before he could grab her shoulder.  He didn’t yank away or continue trying to press forward -- because of course he didn’t -- but he looked sorry.  Worried.

She dropped his arm without attitude.

“See you guys.”

“Gwen,” Natasha’s voice stopped her short of the door’s sensors.

Turning, she saw the spy was seated on the same chair arm as if she’d not reacted to anything -- perhaps she hadn’t.  Clint, in contrast, had sat forward and watched her now, too.

Her fingers tightened on her mask, feeling an impulse to hide just like Wade.

“Where were you going?” she asked again.

But Gwen wasn’t going to cry there.  She’d already decided that.

So she did pull her mask on and walked back out to the patio and scaled the ledge to drop out of sight.  The freefall caught the air in her chest, letting her pretend that was why she was holding her breath.

She stopped her descent by webbing a window and then let her momentum carry her into a swing to head home.

“Well,” Natasha broke the silence left in the penthouse in the younger woman’s wake.

“I’ll say,” Clint stood and stretched.

“You could’ve left her alone, Tony,” Steve scolded quietly.

“Yeah, thank you, Captain Obvious,” he snapped and was distracted enough that he didn’t acknowledge Clint snort at his easy joke.  “JARVIS, do some digging.”

“Leave it, Tony,” Steve was more exasperated this time.

“No.  C’mon -- you, too, I guess, RoboCop,” Stark waved everyone toward the elevator, passing the now-useless drink cart as he did.  “Housekeeping will get that...”


When Gwen returned to her room everything was just as she’d left it.  She shed her suit and plucked up her dress pants to slide back on while she blinked away tears. 

Why did she have to deal with this today?   Steve had found Bucky ‘Winter Soldier’ Barnes weeks and weeks ago -- they could have reached out at any other time.  Hell, she was pretty sure that on an average day she would have jumped at the chance to spar with someone so infamous. She had, of course, seen the footage of him duking it out with Captain America in D.C.  She didn’t live under a rock; it would have been sweet to face off with him.

But today it was a nuisance at best and an insult at worst.

“Back alleys and mom n’ pop shops,” Gwen muttered to herself once she was dressed and stomping down the stairs of her apartment building to head back outside.

Stark sat up in his stupid tower --okay, fine, it was an awesome and advanced tower -- but did he ever look out the damn window and realize there were people out there on the streets struggling just to get by?  Alien invasions were obviously important, but that wasn’t the only threat in the world.

She balled her hands into fists and shoved her way out of her building to find and wave down a taxi.  She needed to forget about Stark.  He was back in his penthouse, not here.  He was not her concern.

The quiet taxi ride sobered Gwen up some.  By the time they reached the cemetery she had calmed significantly.  Of course that just left her to be sad again, but even that felt more manageable and controllable than her anger had been. 

“Thank you ...Dopinder,” she spotted the small ID hanging on the  rearview mirror when she reached forward to hand the driver some money.

“Of course, Miss.  Do enjoy your day.”

That was sort of a funny thing to say to someone getting dropped off at a graveyard, but he was just being polite so she muttered a customary “you too” and climbed out.

Gwen knew the way from the road where she’d asked to be dropped off, and the cool breeze was actually quite nice.  But it did mean she had her head down and so didn’t realize right away that she wasn’t the only visitor.

Clad in coats and sweaters against the chill, ginger-haired Mary Jane Watson and Betty Brant, looking chic and expensive like she always did these days, were waiting on the uneven path near her dad’s grave stone.

When she realized who it was and why they were clearly there, she teared up.

“Hey, G,” Betty stepped right up and pulled her into a hug.

“Hi ...how long have you guys been here?” she checked once she stepped away.

“A bit,” Betty answered vaguely, which probably meant quite a while.

“We know you probably wanted to be on your own, so we don’t have to stay,” MJ explained, looking a little apologetic. 

“...no, it’s nice,” Gwen admitted.

And tears were spilling-over from her eyes, but that was alright.  There weren’t facades of strength here; hell, these two didn’t even know about the other half of her life.  They only knew Gwen Stacy, their childhood friend.  Betty and MJ had known her from the beginning.  They’d known her mom before she was sick, and they’d hung out with her at the Stacy’s house and then in their apartment once they’d downsized.  Each girl had attended the funerals of both of her parents -- one planned and processed for with hospice workers, the other much more full of numb shock -- and cried with her and sat with her ...and, okay, yeah, tried to drink it away with her, too.

MJ held her in a hug, too, rubbing her back lightly, and then they walked closer to George Stacy’s grave.  They were quiet a while and then swapped a few stories and even laughed, which was therapeutic to Gwen; she hadn’t really smiled today.  They talked about him busting them trying to sneak out during sleepovers, teaching them a little self defense, picking them up from play practice in his squad car to embarrass them, and then, eventually, to reminiscing about him and her mom together.

Once the tone came back down from quiet giggles and eye rolls, MJ and Betty shuffled away back toward one of the paths snaking around the graveyard. They promised not to leave -- they wanted to give her a ride home -- but they gave her the privacy she’d been looking for earlier.

“Hey dad,” Gwen nudged the gravestone with her toe, feeling just a little silly like she always did. “Turns out your right; Stark’s a little pompous sometimes,” she chuckled humorlessly. “... ...I guess I’ve gotten myself in some shit...”

That had been her dad’s favorite way of minimizing things at work: “Just some shit, Gwen.”

“It’s okay, though ... ...I’m okay ...I think you’d agree...” she frowned thoughtfully.

It wasn’t the first time that she’d wondered what he would think of her alternate life.  He had never fully approved of Iron Man, for instance.  Not because he wasn’t grateful for the good he’d done but because he had proved himself ungovernable.  ‘What if he changes his allegiances, huh; what then? ’  ‘What about these nut-job copycats he’s inspiring?  We’re all screwed if one of them comes strutting down Broadway.’

He might’ve thought the same kinds of things of Spider Woman, but she was also trying to clean up the streets and he would’ve liked that.  He’d grown up in and policed the same city all his life ...she liked to think he’d have appreciated the help.

“It’s not easy, though,” she murmured. “...but I guess you knew that. I get it, now...”

And she hadn’t, before, which was always hard to admit.  She had been young, though, so she was sure her dad had understood, that he hadn’t really blamed her. 

She just blamed herself.

She had been so angry when her mom was sick, and then her powers had popped-up and she’d run off to do her own shit ... ...she hadn’t made it any easier on her dad when she could have.

“Sorry,” she whispered.

She stuck around a little longer, not really talking aloud but thinking of what life might be like if he was still around.  That was a pretty deep hole to dive down -- for instance, would she ever even have become Spider Woman? -- but she tried to keep it light, thinking about having him and her mom over to her apartment, grabbing lunch with him when she was on break, bugging him for an exclusive interview for the paper...and her mom probably would have egged that on with a laugh. Little things she definitely would have taken for granted.

She hung around until she started to get a little too cold.  It was to the point of uncomfortable, and it also made her take pity on her dutiful friends.

“You were right; they’re the best,” she watched the two other woman chatting some distance away, arms crossed against the chill and shifting from foot to foot.

Her parents had liked them.  Her dad liked to joke that it was just because they weren’t  boys, but he’d had a soft spot for them and always let them make themselves at home with the Stacys and asked after them if he hadn’t seen them in a while.

“Are you hungry?” Betty asked once she’d said her goodbyes and come to join the ladies. “Or you wanna go straight home?”

“Food’s good; I could eat a horse...” Gwen patted the stomach she had neglected to feed today.

Betty the vegetarian tutted at that.

“Well I want sushi,” MJ decided.

Gwen did like sushi, but she also thought briefly of smothered nachos and burritos with Wade.  She even wondered about begging off from a nicer meal with the ladies to see if Wade was around so they could lounge around together, but she dismissed that just as quickly.

She didn’t see the girls enough as it was, and maybe she spent too much time with Wade, anyway.  There were other friendships in his life, after all; she couldn’t hole up with him all the time even if she wanted to.

And she didn’t want to.

That would be ...too much.

He was just good company.

But so were MJ and Betty.

“Let’s go,” she approved.

Betty gave the all-clear, too, since she could easily find some options there for herself.  They piled in MJ’s car and took off to one of her favorite spots, where they reminisced and caught up over a narrow table and modern white plates.  They even fit in a cocktail or two.  It all turned out to be so painfully normal that Gwen almost didn’t want to leave.  And they did stay for quite some time, but MJ had her back to her apartment once it had grown dark.

She considered calling it a night, then, but pulled her suit and mask on out of habit anyway.  It would be nice to just take a deep breath and look out at the cityscape; she only hoped it would be a quiet night.


A couple hours later, Gwen was sitting on the corner of the roof at Midtown High, dangling her legs lazily over the edge.  It had been a quiet night so far, but if the quiet crunch of dirt behind her was any indication, that was going to change.

She knew the gate, though, and wasn’t alarmed; she just kept watching the nearby streets.

“You have some hot friends, Blondie,” Wade’s voice sung across the rooftops.

That did surprise her.

“Huh?” she looked over her shoulder at the red-and-black merc approaching with a pizza box in hand.

“Tall redhead; bodacious chick with the really short hair.  Some guys think that’s androgynous, but I don’t mind.  Either of them up for a threesome?”

“Ew ...and what?” she processed what he was saying. “What were you doing today?  Were you...at the cemetery? Or Kazu’s?”

“I staked-out the cemetery,” he confirmed and sat the pizza beside her on the ledge so he could pull the box open.

“You what?” she blinked at him. 

He paused in the act of rolling up the bottom of his mask.

“Uh ...was I not supposed to?”

Boundaries. Riiiight.

“No, I mean it’s okay ...I just didn’t know...”

“Well it’s called being covert, Princess,” he went on in pulling his mask up so he could start eating some pineapple and olive pizza.  “Help yourself to some grub...anyway, your friends showed up so I figured they had you covered.”

“I meant I didn’t know you even knew about...”

“Your pops?” he cocked his head curiously. “You’ve mentioned it and the time of year ...I had to look up the date and where he was, but I know how to google, ya know.”

“Wade...”

“Not that I’m a stalker or anything,” he defended himself around a mouth full of cheese.

“Wade,” she started again and threw a hand over his mouth.

He just continued to chew.

“That was really sweet.”

“Ugh,” he took a step back in disgust.

“Don’t argue with me,” she poked hard at the kevlar of his chest.

He grunted and took another large bite.

“Eat up,” he gesticulated at the pizza she hadn’t touched yet. “If I eat it all on my own, I’ll feel like a pig.”

“You are a pig,” Gwen pointed out and scooped up a slice of her own. “Here,” she patted the bricks next to her.

Wade hopped up to take his place next to her, kicking his feet back and forth cheerily as he did so. Gwen scooted toward him so their sides were flush and began plucking the pineapple off of her pizza to place onto what was left of his slice. 

“You have to eat your fruit to have a balanced diet,” he scolded.

“I’d rather have meat on my pizza”

“Oh I’ve got some meat for ya,” he growled in her direction.

Gwen knocked his shoulder with her own and munched on the black olive pizza while he went on and on about the balance of salty and sweet.   She’d heard it before, so she didn’t bother to chime in with her preference for classic spicy and cheesy; she just let him go.  It was kind of comforting after a hard day

She didn’t exactly remember when this thing had become more comfortable than furtive and sneaking over the last year or so.  They’d been relieved to reunite and had fell easily back into flirting and fucking around with Weasel at Sister Margaret’s.  Gwen had half expected Wade to make a move like he had back in the day --not that she was conceited or anything, but she was older and more put together than she had been back before becoming Spider Woman -- and had been a little relieved with the idea; they trusted each other and it would be a nice stress relief even if he was still reeling over Vanessa.  Except he hadn’t gone past flirting because he had not wanted her to see him, so she’d had to do some of the pursuing until he was convinced she wasn’t pretending or pitying.  Only then had he dove-in head first with his typical 110% enthusiasm.

She’d almost had buyers remorse, unsure whether something like this with Deadpool was the least bit wise or sustainable. And maybe it really wasn’t, but she trusted him and that went a long way. Maybe she would regret it some day, for he so precariously straddled the line of right and wrong that a strong breeze might blow him the wrong way, but not yet.  Today she was happy ...with whatever this was.

She finished her less-than-satisfying slice and then pulled her feet up to sit cross-legged there on the ledge.  Wade leaned across her to snag the pizza box back so he could keep eating, and he didn’t mind transferring hands when she ducked to rest her head on his shoulder.

“Did baby girl have a long day?” he teased, though he already assumed that it was true -- maybe he should’ve picked up a pizza he knew she would actually like.

“Mmhmm ... ... and I missed you,” she told him quietly like she wasn’t sure if it was precisely true.

But she’d said it.

Hells yeah she did ...let’s not ruin it.

He paused for a beat and then raised his arm to curl her shoulders.

“Guess I shouldda come out at the cemetery, but I didn’t know if your friends would be able to hang...”

“Yeah, that probably would’ve been hard to explain,” she sighed, then tensed. “I just mean ...they don’t even know about all this,” she straightened up and pointed at herself.

“I get it,” he tugged her back against him.

Even if those chicks knew their friend was the one swinging between building to fight crime, he was another pill to swallow entirely.  He wasn’t as well known as her or the Avenger dweebs, but he was fairly infamous, too.  Even if he met some of her friends as just plain old Wade Wilson, that brought its own load of shit of scars and explanations. No! They don’t get to see.

In summary, he didn’t exactly make great first impressions ...or sometimes second or third or fourths, either.

He was pretty sure the Avenger nerds didn’t even know the extent of their relationship.  Gwen was much more of a prude than he was himself, so he couldn’t see her detailing their escapades . Sex-capades, ammi right?!  He didn’t have a problem with that, but he was sure she’d get shit for it.

Can’t trust him. Not true.

Dangerous. Fair assessment.

Mercenary. Well, duh!

Unpredictable. That was true enough, too.

Point being that she already got these lectures from Tin Man and Co. just by admitting they palled around together from time to time.  If they knew the extent of things, they’d probably be worried for her sanity.

Which was something he’d wondered before, too.  Goddamn angel that she was, she was out of his league. She might not see it, but he was resigned to the fact that one of these days she’d figure it out and be done fucking around with him.  He consoled himself with the fact that she’d probably at least have the grace to feel a little bad about it.

So he was just tucking away any affiliated emotions and hanging on for the ride while it lasted.

“Rude,” he muttered when she rose a hand to peel a black olive off of his pizza and nibble it herself.

She didn’t respond and twisted where she sat to drape her legs over his knees.  He spared a moment to wonder what someone would think if they looked up to see this, but he knew that people were hardly ever paying proper attention to their surroundings.

“Wanna head back to my place when you’re done?” Gwen spoke up.  “I don’t think I’ve got it in me to stay out too late today...”

“You got it, Spidey, he nodded and shoved the last half of his slice into his mouth.

“It didn’t have to be this second,” she chortled.

“Shud  uf spefidied,” he tried around a mouthful, then chewed quickly.  “Should’ve specified,” he repeated thickly before catching some cheese trying to escape .

“Gross,” Gwen shoved herself away from him and got up.

“I liberated a car in Hells Kitchen to get here; want a ride?”  he gallantly offered.

“I’ve got a ride ...maybe finish that monstrosity on the way over,” she turned her nose up at his pizza.

“You’re so second-class...”

“Yeah, yeah....”

Gwen did a back handspring off the roof, but Wade has seen the wind-up so he didn’t flinch at the action.  Score.


 

She beat him back to her place, of course, but then they slid in a movie and bummed around into the night since she was used to being up late and he just didn’t sleep much.

She was even more talkative than usual, so he just let her go until she talked herself out.  She filled him in a little more about the friends he’d spotted her with, assuring him beyond a doubt that there would be no threesomes. Killjoy. She even told him about her argument with Iron Douche; she seemed to be regretting it a bit, but he’d assured her that she shouldn’t have to feel bad unless she’d thrown him from his balcony.  Even then it would be questionable, as far as he was concerned.  He had also made a mental note of Stark’s sin against her so that he’d remember it the next time he saw the billionaire. Might just have to be sooner than later...

And then --oooooh then -- she was riding him on her couch.  Wade hadn’t planned to even sniff in that direction considering the day she’d had, but they had kissed and kissed some more, and then she was straddling him and telling him to take his pants off, so he wasn’t going to say no.

Wouldn’t want to be rude!

“What do you want, baby?”

It was pretty clear what she wanted, but he asked because he felt like he should be doing more.  Of all the days for her to be on top; he’d have thought that after a bad day she might just want to lay back and get eaten out all night.

Ohhhh ...I’ll put a pin in that idea...

“Just this,” she moaned and then ducked-in to kiss him.

Well, then, who was he to complain?  So he didn’t. He just dug his blunt fingernails into her spine and scratched along her back while she rode him languidly there in her living room. She wasn’t talking anymore, so he stayed uncharacteristically quiet even though there was plenty he wanted to say about her hips and her chest and her ...well, he’d just file each thought away for later.

Because it didn’t matter right this second ...

“Fuuuuuck,” he had trouble staying mum when she was coming atop him.

The way she gasped sent chills down his spine and straight to his dick. He took the initiative, then, to hold her still and fuck up into her a little harder until he groaned and relaxed limply into the cushions, too.

“One of these days,” he grunted once he had his breath back and could stand and scoop her up with him. “I’m going to make you carry me to bed...”

“I totally could,” she grinned and gave his chin a gentle bite and let her teeth scrape the skin slowly.

Wade snorted.

“Yeah.  That’s what I’m saying; why am I doing the heavy lifting all the time?” he crawled onto his knees on the bed and dropped forward so he could just immediately nuzzle his head into her chest. “I’m a modern man; I can be carried bridal style over the threshold.”

“Anything you want,” Gwen sighed, still a little blissed-out.

Wade popped his head up straight away.

“...you know that’s the most dangerous thing you could say to me, right? Ow!  Spiders aren’t supposed to pinch, they bite --ow!  Alright, alright, I’m sorry...”

They laid quietly for some time, Gwen’s heart slow and steady in his ear. That’s a nice sound; maybe the nicest. Hard to say...

“Move a minute...” Gwen finally asked after some time.

“I’m comfy,” Wade complained and turned his face straight down into her chest, this time for cozy rather than sexy reasons.

Gwen tapped-out on his shoulder anyway and gave him a nudge so he would roll off.  He flopped to the side and watched her wander anyway into her bathroom.  When she reemerged she didn’t come straight back to bed; she fetched a t-shirt and then her laptop from the breakfast table before returning to sit against the headboard.

“Late night Amazon shopping? Kindda cliche, I gotta say...”

He hopped up from the bed and took his own bathroom break, though he was happy to remain naked when he came back out.

“C’mon whattcha doin? Good spiders should be sleeping,” he hopped back onto the bed to sit beside her.

“I’m not tired...”

“...I’m not going to internalize that to relate it in any way to my sexual prowess,” Wade muttered, half to her and half as a reminder to himself.

“Good,” Gwen snorted. “You shouldn’t.  I’m googling myself ....”

“Hottttt!” Wade cheered.

“Cut it out ...I like to keep a beat on what’s out there on Spider Woman.  Sometimes the Avengers or X-Men, too ... ...and you.”

“Well let me know if they’re saying anything good about me,” Wade requested, though he didn’t really care.

He plucked each hand of hers off the computer, then dropped them and rolled down the bed towards her feet to pull the blankets off.

“....do I get to ask what you’re doing?” Gwen raise an eyebrow at him but a grin was tugging at her lips.

Perfect.

“Inspecting,” was his unhelpful answer. “How come you have nail polish stashed in the bathroom?  You never have nail polish on...”

Gwen laughed.

“Never isn’t quite right.  I do sometimes...”

“Hardly,” he argued back.  “So why not? I know you’re bendy enough to reach your toes.”

Gwen pretended she didn’t blush.

“A manicure seems like a waste of time since I would just mess it up working, and I guess I don’t wear a lot of sandals to think about my toes...”

Wade huffed and then rolled off of the bed again to go rummage around in the bathroom.  He came back with red nail polish.

“Seriously?”

“Uh-huh ...go on.  Keep googling all of your friends.  Budge up a little, though...”

Gwen tucked up her knees a little bit so her feet could rest further up the bed.  Then a perfectly naked Wade Wilson flopped back down, hunkered closer to her feet, and, tongue between his teeth, he began to carefully paint each of her toenails.

“...I wish my phone wasn’t in the living room,” Gwen peered over the top screen of her computer towards him.

“No selfies,” he snapped. “Live in the moment.”

So she did.

It was a strange ending to a unfortunate day... and why did she even like it when Wade blew softly on her toes after painting them?

“You sleepy yet, Beauty?” Wade asked when he crawled back up to the head of the bed.

“Nope.”

“Find anything good on there?”

“Nah, not much...”

“Alright, gimme ...i’ll show you what’s actually good out there...” he yanked her computer into his own, still naked, lap.

“I don’t really feel like watching porn right now, Wade...”

“Right now?  So you’re saying that maybe later is fine?”  his head ticked up in attention.

“Maybe,” she waggled her eyebrows at him.

“....noted,” he quipped and turned back to the computer. “No porn, then ...just my top favorite youtube videos...”

He caught her surprised look and shrugged.

“What, you don’t like getting lost down a deep, dark youtube hole?”

“Of course I do,” she shifted toward him to see what it was he was going to choose.

“Good.  So me first.  Then your turn.”

“Sounds fair.”

Chapter Text

It was over a week before Gwen dragged herself back to Avenger’s Tower.  Less because it took her that long to feel bad but because she had a bit of pride to swallow.

She wasn’t sorry for what she said, but she’d acted like a bit of a child about it.  She did regret that bit.  She could have aired grievances with Tony one-on-one or, more importantly, literally any time when she wasn’t so emotional.  Their worlds overlapped but weren’t really the same, and it probably made him a little ignorant not to consider that, but it didn’t make him an awful person.

Wade stoutly disagreed, of course, which made her smile.  “Shouldda gone even bigger, Blondie.” She’d heard-out his plan of infiltration and sabotage --”then he’ll have to listen to you!” -- for fun and then made sure he understood that was not how she wanted to proceed.  He’d shrugged and agreed to put the plan on the back burner.

So, instead, she just strolled into the Tower in civvies this time and made for a lift. 

“JARVIS?” Gwen asked when the only other occupant of her elevator stepped off on the 12th floor.

‘Yes, Miss Stacy?’ the AI’s smooth voice greeted.

“Is everyone around?”

Once she asked, all of the buttons on the elevator went dim and the lift began rising a bit faster as JARVIS took her straight up.

The team is currently on their way back from DC;  they will return shortly.  You may wait in Mr. Stark’s apartment -- he won’t mind.’

“Okay.  Well, actually ...did, um, Bucky” -- she hesitated at the name, wondering if that was only for friends -- “go with them?”

‘He did not.  He is currently on the balcony of the level he shares with Captain Rogers,’ the AI intuited her next question.  ‘Shall I redirect you there, instead?’

“Yes, please.  Unless ...does he like visitors?”

‘He has not had any,’ JARVIS reported. ‘But he has grown more sociable over time.’

“Ummm...alright.  Then, yes,” she elected.

‘Very well.’

Gwen nervously chewed her lip.  She was sure she hadn’t made a great first impression with the guy but, hey, maybe that was all the more reason to go up...

When the elevator slid to a stop and quietly opened, it did not look much unlike Stark’s place; the only real difference being that it was not as full.  Rodgers seemed to have a more minimalist style.

She stepped out onto tile and hesitated while the elevator closed and moved away.  JARVIS had said he was outside, but she didn’t feel completely welcomed to let herself into this space to go get him.  Steve surely wouldn’t care, but she didn’t know Bucky...

But she wasn’t scared, though she supposed if he was mad at having an unexpected visitor she could always jump off the balcony.

That was always a great back-up plan.

Once she moved a little further in, she could see that the man in question was seated on one of the few patio chairs out on their nice-but-smaller-than-Stark’s patio.  She thought he was asleep, for his head was down, but a few more steps and she saw he was holding a book.  Okay, so she was interrupting something, but that probably wasn’t dire business.

In total, she didn’t even get halfway across the living room before he either heard her or caught movement in the glass.  Either way, his head snapped up and immediately found her.  He stiffened, but only for a moment until he seemed to process what he was seeing. Or who, rather.  His shoulders seemed to relax, and he stood, finger marking his page.  Gwen gave a stupid wave and quickened her steps to the door until it slid open.

“Hi,” she stepped into the open space this created.

She lingered indecisively since it wouldn’t close on her until she committed to the outdoors or retreated back inside.

“Is this an okay time?”

“Sure,” he answered quietly.  “It’s just me and a book,” he gestured it in bored fashion.

Gwen cast it a look and caught the title: ‘Gone with the Wind.’

“Oh, classic,” she nodded, for some reason wanting him to know that she was mature enough to be well-read.

And, okay, she had never actually read that book but she’d seen the movie at some point.  She knew it was a classic, so the comment still stood.

“Yeah,” he snorted. “It’s younger than me... ...”

“Oh ...” Gwen blushed.

She’d probably ruined this attempt at making a better impression.  How did she come back from that?  Maybe she needed to hop off the balcony anyway; she could try again in another week...

“Just a joke,” he assured her, chuckling.

Chuckling at her expense, sure, but at least not looking angry or offended.

“Right, sorry, yeah ...”

“...were you looking for Steve?” he took pity on her, still looking calm for someone who was supposedly unpredictable.

“JARVIS told me the crew was out. I thought I’d come up and apologize anyway -- to you, I mean.  I shouldn’t have drug you into my shit with Tony and called you a babysitting job,” she cringed. “I was...”

“Don’t worry about it.  You probably weren’t far off, anyway...”

She wanted to argue him down, but his smirk looked pretty content. Maybe he really was doing well these days.  She remembered how worried Steve had been when he and Sam were tracking him down, so this was nice. 

“So...do you wanna embrace it?  We can go train...” she offered.  “I wanna stick around a while, anyway,” she added so he wouldn’t feel patronized.

His eyebrows lifted a little in surprised, but they quickly narrowed down a bit.  He looked her up and down to study her --to size her up.

She got it.

“You afraid to hit a girl, Barnes?”

He blushed this time.

“Steve debriefed me on you ...just kind of hard to see, that’s all,” he admitted.

“Let’s go, then.  I have workout gear in the locker room; I’ll meet you down there?”

She hopped lightly on her toes and feinted shadowboxing at him.

“Huh?”

Steve had trusted her to do this, and she wanted to honor that.  She’d been a little shitty with him, too, but she knew that he wouldn’t have bothered her if he knew she was dealing with the anniversary of her dad dying.  Hell, he’d lost enough people in his life; he might have even offered to go to the graveyard with her if he knew what was going on.  He was known for being unyieldingly -- some might say almost annoyingly *cough* Tony *cough*-- thoughtful like that.

“Alright,” he nodded after a moment or more of thought.

“Cool,” she beamed.

“And look...” he started but paused with a small huff. “Don’t apologize, alright?   Stark told us ...ya know, about your pop.”

“Oh...”

“He had JARVIS look some things up,” he admitted, looking a little sorry for bringing it up now that he’d already gone and done it.

“Not surprising, I guess ... ...it was all just bad timing...” she shrugged, trying to pretend it was no big deal.

She probably didn’t pull it off, but the soldier didn’t call her out on it.

“I get that...”

“Thanks .... ...so, meet you down there.”

“Uh-huh”

Gwen hung around just long enough to watch him dog-gear a page in his book, and then she took off to head back to the elevator.  When she reached the gym floor, she ditched her backpack by the training mats and jogged to the locker room to change.


Sparring was a trip given that Gwen and Bucky both had enhanced strength and quick recovery from both fatigue and well-aimed blows.  It had taken a little while for Bucky to really get into it and trust that she truly had the strength to deflect strong blows or recover if she failed to dodge them.  Getting there had required her to land a few solid hits so that he believed she could give as good as she got -- it seemed that hearing it from Steve was one thing, feeling it was another.

So they carried on whole-heartedly until they were panting hard, at which time they took short breaks before getting back at it.   

In the back of her head, Gwen knew she wanted to conserve enough energy for patrol that night, but she was also having fun.  It was similar to sparring with Wade or Steve: less need to pull punches and be careful.  They could let go a lot more, which gave her a lot of opportunity to learn. 

Bucky moved like something else. He was full of brute strength, but there was a lethal grace about everything he did, too.

“Can you teach me that?” Gwen stepped back from him, panting, to signal a break.

He’d grabbed one of the dummy blades made of hard rubber to simulate a knife fight since she was out on the streets so much.  She had taken on the fight sans webs, only leaving her with reflex and brute strength ...hence her heavy breathing.

And Gwen didn’t carry extraneous weapons, but the way he spun and wielded the blade was pretty sweet. She mostly just wanted to know for novelty ...and maybe to show off the new skill to Wade, too.

“Huh?” he paused.


“I dunno; you’re just using that thing like it’s a third hand even when you’re tossing it ...it’s impressive,” she complimented while still trying to steady her breathing.

She’d probably need calm breathing and a steady hand to attempt the moves.  Although, she did have quick reflexes so maybe she’d be a quick study.

“No.”

That stopped her musings. 

Gwen took a more focused look at him and saw his face was blank.  He’d been fairly concentrated throughout their sparring, naturally, but he’d cracked a few grins and chuckled during short conversation when they took breaks.  Now his face was harder than it had ever been thus far.

“Okay,” she readily agreed.  “No biggy...”

“I just...”

His breathing was heavy, too, but in a different way.  It wasn’t so much panting as it was ...panic.  The hairs on the back of her neck tickled and stood up in warning.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said a little loudly to cut through whatever it was he was thinking. “You keep your knives; I’ll always have my webs... ...Barnes?”

He blinked at that and then slowly nodded.

“...can I see?”

He was still breathing deep and slow through his nose, but he was at least focused, now.

“Sure ...don’t get jealous, though,” she joked to keep their mood light.

She took a running start across the mats where they were training, leapt onto the top rope of the boxing ring in the corner, and sprung upwards to shoot a web at the high ceiling.  Her momentum arched her into a short swing, and then she pulled a Tarzan by swinging from new web to new web to another new web across the gym.  She flipped to land atop one of the weight machines and then hopped onto the wall.  From there she could launch herself forward to swing once more back toward the mats, where she released herself and tucked into a roll.  She then sprung lightly back to her toes a few feet from him. 

“Ta-da,” she did a fake gymnasts stance to “stick” her finish. 

He grinned.

“Even more impressive in person.”

“You’ve been watching the news, hey?” Gwen was blushing again.

“Well, they love you,” he nodded.

“Ah, not everyone...”

And that was certainly true.  The majority of her vigilante work split the community: some people loved her as a watchful eye who had citizens’ backs, and others were suspicious of her for staying so hidden and secretive -- which wasn’t easy to do in the digital age, thank you very much.

“Enough people do,” he reasoned and spun the fake but well-balanced blade in his hand. “I used to teach this shit,” he halted the knife and lifted it up for emphasis. “I can’t do it again ...not yet.”

Gwen didn’t fully understand what he meant, but she nodded just the same.

“Okay.  No worries.  Like I said, I don’t carry knives or anything ... ...i just wanted to look cool -- call me vain,” she joked.

They both started at a creaking noise above them and whirled around to look up, but all was silent even though they waited with baited breath.  Gwen strained to listen for something more, but she heard nothing and her unconscious senses weren’t trying to tell her anything, either.

“Must’ve been a fan kicking on or shutting down...” she suggested, eyeing a nearby vent.

Bucky looked suspiciously around the ceiling a little while longer, but when no further noise came he gave a nod.

“Ready, then, old man?” Gwen challenged, trying to make sure the tension between them had passed.

He scoffed and tossed the faux-knife aside.  Gwen heard the plates in his metal arm shift, and she knew the soft whining noise the arm then made meant he was winding up power, so she knew the swing was coming from that side even before he threw his body into it.  She parried to the side and was able to land a kick to his side that used his leverage against him. Bucky was fast, too, though, so he didn’t fall forward and reeled back swiftly.

With that, the round was a go.

And it went on, the only breaks coming when they hopped back for a short breath to circle and eye each other for an opening.  They ended up grappling on the ground, which was a frustrating position for Gwen even though she knew it was good practice -- she was more in her element when she had some space to work with.

“Ooof,” air shot from her lungs with a hit to the ribs, but that didn’t get her any pity since Bucky had already figured out he could keep going unless she called Uncle.

They’d made that deal already, and the word did flash through Gwen’s mind when she landed flat on her back and saw the flash of his metal arm coming straight down to her face.

“Ho,” she grunted and  threw her arms up to catch the offending fist in both of her hands.

That meant she was vulnerable to an attack from his other hand, but he seemed more interested in testing whether or not she was actually strong enough to strop his bionic arm for real  His face screwed up in concentration, and the mechanics of his arm spun and clicked.

Gwen gritted her teeth as well and but was able to shove him back from her.  She felt his body shift to throw more power behind the arm, so she took advantage and quickly spared one hand to punch his flesh-and-bone shoulder that wasn’t supporting his weight so he’d careen to the left.  She dipped out of the way, kicking his side for good measure to make sure he fell to the side while she rolled away in a more controlled fashion.

A pair of hands clapped nearby, and Gwen wasn’t actually surprised to climb to her feet and see Tony and Steve in the room, flanked by Natasha, Clint, Rhodey and Sam Wilson a bit further back by the door.  She hadn’t seen them or even processed their entrance, but she had clearly felt their presence and subconsciously known they were there.

“Hey.”

She was panting again and placed her hands on her hips to stop herself from offering them a lame wave -- she didn’t particularly like being under group scrutiny.

Tony gave a few more claps.

“Better than the WWE.”

Gwen glanced at Bucky, who didn’t seem to understand that.

“It’s a compliment,” she panted in his direction.

He gave a curt nod and moved away to go scoop up the rubber knife and replace it where he found it.

“Lookin’ good out there, Spidey,” Sam, being constantly the most casual and gregarious, moved fully into the room to come offer her a fist bump.  “He kicks my ass.”

“I’ll kick your ass, too, if you want,” she winked.

“I congratulate you and that’s how you’re gonna do me? Really?” he reeled back as if wounded.

Gwen liked Sam. He was always fun and welcoming, and he excelled at making others comfortable, which she appreciated since she still managed to find herself surprised to be included there some days.

“Yeah, gotta toughen you up,” she hit his chest lightly.

“I’m done with you -- you’re just like the rest of them,” he curled his lip at her theatrically. “Sup, man,” he clapped Bucky on the shoulder when he neared again.

In the meantime the rest of them had fully entered, as well.

“You’re back,” Steve smiled, zeroing in to Gwen on his approach.

“Yeah, I’m like a bad penny -- I always turn up...”

Sam snorted, though Steve let the reference sail by.

“It’s good to see you,” he reached with one arm to snag her in a small, brief hug. 

“I’m sweaty,” she did give him a quick hug around the waist in return but then darted back.

He kept hold of her shoulder to squeeze, anyway.

“I’m sorry,” he told her quietly.

“No, you didn’t know,” she shook her head, tiny ponytail flicking as she did.

“And I’m sorry I didn’t know,” he amended.

“I don’t talk about it much,” she shrugged, trying again to take the responsibility off of him.

A guilty Steve Rogers was a strange thing to face.

There was a sad understanding in his face, which she supposed came from facing a lot of loss himself. She dug her bare toes into the mat they stood on, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to look away from him the way she wanted.

“So looks like you were holding up pretty well,” he dropped his hand from her to look between her and his old friend.

“Yeah, it’s been an interesting afternoon,” she smiled. “He might be stronger than you...”

Sam’s answering laugh echoed in the room.

“Oh yes she did! Challenge is down, now...”

Steve rolled his eyes but he didn’t quite hide his smirk at Sam’s antics. 

“If I’m dressing down to spar, so are you,” he ordered.

Sam made no arguments and crowded Steve along with him on the way to the locker room, heckling his friend and everyone else along the way to get them all to join. Gwen took the chance to look covertly over towards Tony.

He was still standing closer to the door speaking to Rhodey.  The other man only seemed to be half listening while he responded to Sam’s taunts and dares to come join in, too.  “Old Man,” in particular, was an insult he seemed to be taking issue with.

“I outrank you all day, Wilson!” he called back at the other man, who only laughed.

“Honorably discharged, sir -- you’re just gonna have to come teach me a lesson!” Sam shouted from the locker room doorway.

“Really?” Tony complained as his friend moved away.  “That’s how easy it is to get you?  You’re War Machine; just blow him up ... ...no? Okay, great...” he was talking to himself by the time Rhodey followed after the younger pilot.

Gwen took her chance and ditched Bucky to jog over to her discarded backpack and swipe it up by one of the arms.

“Tony,” she caught his attention.

He let himself look a little surprised to find her approaching even though she felt sure that he was acutely aware of her movements.  Whether because he was on the lookout for another verbal attack or because he wanted to talk to her, too, the world may never know.

“Stacy ...kickin’ ass,” he complimented with a nod towards the training mats.

“Well, yeah,” she tried to lace the answer with some attitude.

Meanwhile she was fumbling with the zipper of her old bag.  Nestled atop Spider Woman’s costume was a bottle of the most expensive Scotch she had felt reasonable purchasing.  She wanted the gift to mean something, but she also had a drastically different budget than a genius billionaire philanthropist.  It might not match up to what she’d broken, but the thought was supposed to count for something.

“I got this for you,” she grabbed the bottle of amber liquid by the neck and slipped it out.

“Ah ...Gwen...”  he hesitated and leaned away.

But she thrust the Macallan’s out to him.

“Just take it.  I know it’s not a cart of liquor,” she headed-off whatever gripes he might be tempted to make in order to fend off any hint of sentimentality.  “But it’s a gesture.”

He took it with a dubious look and twisted it around to look down at the label, rubbing a thumb over the embossed 18.

“Look ... ...I don’t know a lot about good dads,” he stated at length, “but I think your old man deserves this one.  You should drink it for him.”

And the bottle was pressed back into her hands before she realized he was trying to out-do her gesture with one of his own.

“Tony, no...”

She tried to physically refuse to take it but he simply let go of the bottle because he knew she’d be able to snatch it with her reflexes and literal sticky fingers.

“I don’t even like Scotch,” she argued once she righted her hold on it and looked up to give him an exasperated look.

“Then improve your taste,” he crossed his arms much like he had the last time she’d stood before him.

But the tone was different; she wasn’t angry and he wasn’t trying to talk down at her.

“What am I going to do with this?  I’d never buy this for myself,” she argued-on anyhow even though his hands were now hidden from her so she couldn’t force the bottle on him again.

“I’ll take it,” Clint darted forward to swipe it.

Gwen webbed the bottle and pulled it back into her own hands before he even had a chance to examine the label and see how nice of a prize he’d scored.

“Get your own.”

“I was just trying to help you with conflict resolution.  Christ almighty,” he griped before shuffling out of the room altogether.

“Official meetings make him grumpy,” Tony stared after the spy’s retreating form.

“Tony, I wanted you to have this,” Gwen wasn’t distracted. “I was kind of a brat before...”

“Well yeah,” he agreed reasonably, “and no,” he conceded in the next beat.  “I get tunnel vision; I know that...”

He said this like it meant nothing, but Gwen thought that the fact he was acknowledging this fault at all was the closest thing she’d get to an apology in a room in front of other people.

“Still, I was basically saying that you don’t give a shit,” Gwen curled her toes against the floor again uncomfortably, “but I know you do.”

“Sometimes,” he shrugged.

She rolled her eyes.

“I knew all about your dad,” he went on.  “I shouldn’t have needed JARVIS to look up the date,” Tony scolded himself. “I did my research -- he was one of the good ones.”

Gwen nodded at his shoulder rather than meet his eye.  Guilty Steve had been one thing; blatantly genuine Tony was another.  It was annoying when he veiled sincerity in sarcasm and pop-culture references, but at least it was safe and expected.

“Yeah...”

“I’m not super pumped that I got put in my place by a brat in her twenties, but sometimes th-- WILSON! What the fuck!”

Gwen jumped at his volume and then looked to follow Tony’s line of sight.  Thinking that Sam was up to some shenanigan, she turned excitedly.

But the Wilson she found in the gym’s doorway was one  Wade Wilson.

Deadpool leaned casually -- dare she say sensually -- in the doorway with his full costume, including guns and katanas.

Her jaw fell slightly.  She knew that he had snuck in a few times before, but the fact that he could and would do so always felt brazen-- even for him.

“Your holy genius,” he dipped into a mock bow towards Stark.

“Why the hell are you here?  No, no --how are you here?” Tony demanded.

“Aw, what fun would I be if I told you all my secrets?” he strolled in carelessly.

A familiar high-pitch whine behind Gwen made her jump again, and this time she twisted to see that the hand of the Iron Man suit had built itself over Tony’s palm and was aimed at Deadpool.

“Oooo,” the man in question cooed.

“Tony,” Gwen covered his hand in her own to push it aside.

“I’m sick of your friend,” Tony continued to glare.

“Vents.”

It was Bucky who’d spoken that time.

Vents.  Wade had jokingly told her that he’d used the duct system to sneak into the Tower, but she’d thought he was pulling her leg because it seemed absurd.  She thought of the noise she and Bucky had heard earlier, though, and realized he was probably right.

All eyes turned to Deadpool, whose blank white gaze narrowed at the older soldier.

“I don’t like you or your man bun,” he crossed his thick arms over his chest.

Bucky cocked his head at him and squared his shoulders.  Gwen wasn’t sure that he actually knew who Deadpool was, but he’d clearly gleaned enough to know he wasn’t welcome here.

“Be nice,” she strode towards the mercenary.  “What’re you doing here?” she asked a little quieter.

“In case you decided my plan was better than yours,” he mock whispered.

Gwen scoffed.

“You were bored.”

“That, too,” he sighed in defeat. “I’m between jobs.”

“You could’ve just asked to tag along.”

“And you would. Have. Said. No,” Tony inserted himself back into the conversation loudly. “Get him out of here.” 

“He’s not hurting anything,” Gwen pointed out fairly.

“No one innocently sneaks past security,” he glowered.

“They do if they’re bored,” was Deadpool’s counter-argument. “And you could thank me -- now none of your little minions downstairs know you cavort with an assassin for hire” he added helpfully.

“We’re not cavorting!”

“Not yet,” Deadpool was clearly waggling his eyebrows behind the suit.

“Why can’t I kill you?” Tony growled in frustration.

“That’s a very complicated answer, b---”

“Spare me,” Tony held up his plain hand.

“So is he here to spar, too, or what?” Bucky was eyeing Wade curiously, clearly weighing his subversiveness as a challenge if not necessarily a threat since no one was outright panicking. 

The leather of Wade’s suit creaked as he twisted round excitedly.

“No he is not!” Tony’s voice was stern but went ignored.

“Oh you’re on, Autobot,” Wade’s voice was lecherous as he unsheathed both katanas in a fluid motion.

“Whoa -- uh-uh,” Gwen shook her head, pointing between the two swords.

He made a petulant show of giving them up to her.

“All of it,” she added when he made no move to unholster anything else she knew he had on him.

He was just as pouty about giving up his belt, the guns in his thigh holsters, and the multiple blades he had stashed on his person.  He unloaded it all in a matter of seconds, creating a small pile near her feet.

“Can I get it on with Wall-E now, or what?”

“Does it matter if I say no?” Tony already sounded resigned.

“Not really,” Wade skipped back to the the mat. “You ready?”

His voice was a half growl that Gwen recognized, and she’d have been a bit worried if Bucky were almost anyone else.

“Alright! The rules are there are no rules!” Wade cheered, reference again lost on Bucky’s ears.

“He’s good to go, Barnes,” Tony promised blandly, coming to stand by Gwen.

If no one was going to listen to him in his own gym, then he supposed he could enjoy the show.  There was a small chance that Barnes could knock some sense into Wilson with his metal arm, after all.

“...the hell?”

Both Tony and Gwen looked over their shoulders at Steve, Sam, and Rhodey returning in sweats and tanks.  They were taking in the sight before them with varying degrees of surprise.

“The kids won’t stop playing,” was Tony’s explanation, but he turned around again quickly at the sound of the first impact he’d missed.

It looked like Deadpool had (likely) let Bucky hit him with his metal hand just so he could laugh and show the man he might not have the advantage he thought he did.

“Why can’t you have normal friends?” Tony glared ahead, though his words were clearly for Gwen.

“The only normal friends I have are the ones I went to school with.”

Because, to be fair, she wasn’t really normal, and being friends with The Avengers wasn’t exactly normal, either.

He only tutted at that.

“You don’t have to pick up strays while you’re on patrol, you know?”

Gwen didn’t bother to answer, but Wade’s head turned at the comment and his distraction cost him an uppercut straight to the chin.  That made Tony chuckle even though it didn’t stun the red-suited man for long; he dove straight back at Bucky.

And they really were a sight to see, both a rush of destructive movement.  Gwen knew Wade was a good fighter, but she rarely had the chance to sit back and watch him in action -- there was usually too much else going on. He was acrobatic if he had a spare second and brutal every other moment.

“Ya know, if his name is really Wilson you might be related,” she heard Rhodey telling Sam a few feet away.

“Shut up...”

“What? Family’s family,” the older man continued.

“Man ...yo, Gwen, you ever seen him without his get-up?” Sam ticked his chin at her.

Deadpool laughed but didn’t pause in the fight.

“Huh?”

“We’re trying to decide if they’re long lost brothers,” Rhodey laughed.

“Twins!” Deadpool shouted over before ducking a punch and grabbing Bucky round the middle and slamming him to the ground.

“Couldn’t tell ya,” Gwen snickered.

Via Wade himself, she knew that almost any record of his original life  had been wiped away by the Weapon X Project.  While they were a lot of unsettling things about that, it did mean that no one could look too deeply into him even if he kept using his real name-- Stark included

“Somehow I doubt that...”

Natasha was back, though when she’d returned was anyone’s guess.  She was standing back a few feet from the others, shoulder propped against the wall and arms crossed while she watched the two mean sparring with an uninterested gaze.

Gwen caught her eye but didn’t comment further.

“Johnny 5 bleeds!” Wade threw his fists into the air when Bucky wiped the back of his hand over his mouth to clear blood off a split lip.

“How many robot movies are you going to reference?” Sam rolled his eyes.

“Only ever single one, Angry Bird!”

Rhodey laughed openly.

“Ya know; he’s a lot like you, Tony...”

“Aw, thanks!” Wade sang.

“Shut it!”

Gwen wondered for a moment if Tony didn’t like Deadpool because he didn’t get to be the snarkiest one in the room when he showed up.

“Let me in, huh, Buck?” Steve stepped further onto the mat when the breather seemed to be over and the two men squared-up again.

Bucky relaxed and shrugged, chest heaving lightly.  He walked away without a word and Steve hopped lightly on his feet, swinging his arms to shake them out.

“Deadpool vs. Apple Pie -- round one!  Ding ding ding!”

The fight followed much the same as the last, for Steve and Bucky were of similar strength and ability.  Somehow, though, Gwen thought Wade looked less brutal with Steve ...but maybe he just wasn’t as fresh as he’d been against the other soldier.

“Gonna gawk at the boys all day?”

Natasha nodded her question at Gwen, who nodded back and then hustled to put the bottle of liquor back into her backpack.  On second thought, she scuttled all of Wade’s things out of the way to rest near her bag, too, lest Tony be tempted to pilfer just for the sake of pilfering.

“Hey, we can do whatever you want ...but do you mind teaching me anything with the knives?”  Gwen jerked a thumb toward the racks of mock weapons.

The redhead arched a manicured eyebrow at her, though she didn’t look at all disapproving.

“Thinking of adapting your suit to add an arsenal?” she guessed, and her gaze darted quickly to Wade and then back.

“No, I do alright without it,” Gwen hoped she sounded humble in saying. “But we were mocking up a knife-fight scenario,” she gestured off towards Bucky, who was watching Steve and Deadpool very closely, “and he was impressive, but he didn’t want to teach me...”

Natasha considered her a moment longer.

“I’m not surprised,” she said, finally. “He was tasked with training other fighters as the Winter Soldier ...and the Winter Soldier didn’t do anything nicely.”

“Oh ...we don’t have to, then, if it’s going to upset him...”

“Why?  Because Wilson can teach you later, instead?”

The older woman’s look was challenging, and Gwen weighed her answer options.  It was already common knowledge that she and Deadpool were friends, so she didn’t see why she couldn’t answer honestly.

“Sure, if I asked.”

“Mmhmm ...what’s going on there?”

Gwen shrugged.

“I’m not sure.”

And that much was true. She knew what it looked like and what it was feeling like, but she wasn’t actually sure what it all was.

“Mmmhmm,” she repeated.

Natasha continued to scrutinize her, and Gwen did her best to hold the gaze.  She had not, after all, lied.  There was no deception to see here ...but then why was she letting the spy make her feel uneasy?

“Woooo! Uncle Sam packs a wallop!”

Gwen turned on instinct, but Wade was rubbing his jaw and picking himself up off the floor in one mostly-fine piece. When she turned back to her conversation, Natasha was smirking.

“Look....”

“Knives then,” the woman strutted away to the weapons rack to grab a few of the blunt-but-probably-still-lethal-in-her-hands knives.

The weight didn’t feel quite right in Gwen’s fingers as they were so often empty or grasping only threads of web, but she didn’t think she was an awful student.  Natasha said knives were not her first choice of weapons, but she was still adept with them. She covered the right holds and how and when to switch between them for particular attacks, and Gwen gave her her full attention.

Would she every actually use it?  Maybe not, but it was still neat.

As if Natasha noticed her lapse of focus to muse about this, she swung out at Gwen in a not-so-friendly-teacher way.  Gwen sprung back in time for the fist to whip past where her face had just been.  She liked to think the spy would’ve pulled the hit if she’d been caught truly unawares.  Then again, Natasha Romanoff probably would have felt she’d have earned the hit if she actually managed to surprise the powered girl.

Game on, then.

Tony had shifted his attention to the women already.  It was more aesthetically pleasing than Deadpool’s tight suit and Steve’s mockingly bare biceps ...so sue him.

“Hot, right?”

He managed not to react to Deadpool’s voice behind him except to close his eyes and count to three.  Of course the mercenary would’ve been alert enough to use his lack of focus against him. He shot a look to the space he and Cap had been sparring; Bucky had taken Deadpool's place.  Tony had already had front row seats to that show before, so he turned a look to the suited man. 

“Done and leaving so soon?”

It was a little eerie that the man was lingering so close at his arm but just slightly behind him.  Not that he’d admit it.

“Oh, no, not yet,” his voice was lower in both volume and timbre than usual.

“Great”

“You gave our girl a hard time, playboy...”

“Yeah,” Tony wasn’t pleased that had been broadcasted to this particular man. “But you’re behind.  We hashed that out.”

“Uh-huh - I heard,” Deadpool crossed his arms casually and now stepped to stand directly next to the billionaire.

This admittedly dwarfed Tony a little, but he didn’t balk.  He was often in rooms with men more ripped than him these days.

“So?” he asked in bored fashion.

“So you were a Grade A dick ...and I’m watching you.”

And that was a threat even if he wasn’t shoving Tony up against a wall. All the implication was there in his tone and show of stature.

“And you are ...what?  Fairy God-killer, kindest soul in NYC?” Stark scoffed.

“No,” he snorted.  “No, I’m a total asshole.  And now I’m an asshole whose got an eye on you, mother fucker,” he lowered his voice into a hiss.

As the threat became more blatant, Tony lifted his head to actually look at the other man.  He wasn’t so much shocked that the Merc would throw around threats, but he was a little surprised they were coming now for Gwen.  They all knew -and wondered why - the two were pals, but it had usually looked casual and annoying and almost funny, not ... ...personal.

“You better start cutting her a break,” Deadpool gazed levelly at him without humor or sing-song bullshit. “She’s out there dealing with sex trafficking and drug dealers and rapist and shit all goddamn week - there’s a fucking world at the foot of this throne, ya know.”

This again.

“I’m aware.”

“Oh, Mr. Silver Spoon knows what it’s like scraping by on the streets, yeah?” Deadpool faux-whined.  “Get the fuck outta here,” he sobered straight up.  “You call her getting gritty out on the streets ‘petty’ one more time, and you might just find yourself meeting an accident.  I’m sure there’s plenty of shit that goes boom in this giant phallus of a building. Someone could wander in and got careless...” 

“Aimed a little high with that threat, pal.  Not realistic, even for you.”

Because he was 99% sure that was beyond this guy’s M.O, especially given there was a daycare and medical facilities on the premises. 

“You’re right,”  Deadpool bent forward to laugh at himself before standing straight again quickly. “But things fall out of the sky all the time -- anything could happen happen to you on your way out to get your Americano.  Double espresso after a long night, right?”

Tony did pause, then.  He didn’t always go out for coffee - there wasn’t usually a need unless he wanted the fresh air - but that was his go-to drink.  Perhaps that had been in a tabloid at some point...

“Maybe,” Deadpool nodded.  “Maybe not...”

And Tony Stark was finally wrong-footed.  It could’ve been the unsettlingly blank, but somehow still expressive, white eyes.  Or it could’ve been the fact that he knew Deadpool was capable of completing the threat, not to mention unstable enough to perhaps also be willing.  There were a lot of rumors about Deadpool, and nothing Tony had ever seen in person contradicted the legends.

Except, maybe, befriend Spider Woman...

Deadpool had left him with that cryptic last idea and was now striding towards Gwen and Natasha.  He bent to scoop up one of his own -and very real - knives from the ground on the way.  Tony didn’t particularly approve of him with a weapon at the moment, but given the lengths he’d just gone to defend Gwen’s reputation he doubted he was about to harm her bodily, now.

Wade stalked closer and waited until Gwen was on the defense, blocking a hit and dancing backwards from SpiderSpy.  He then grabbed the back of her neck to yank her against him, and he raised the knife to plunge at her, but she caught his wrist and cranked it to the side.  He grinned behind his mask and so didn’t see the kick from Romanoff until it was too late ...and did he really mind, anyway?  She kicked out his leg, so he fell to a knee with one arm still clutched by the blonde.

“I think I’ve had this dream before,” he sighed dreamily.

“Gross,” Gwen released him.

“No, no, don’t ruin it - you’re supposed to say: ‘and what do we have here....” his voice went husky.

“Good to see you, too, Wilson,” Natasha’s neutral scowl was firmly in place.

“Always a pleasure,” Wade agreed and sprung to both feet, sheathing his knife at the same time.  “Learning some new tricks over here, I see ... ...need me to take you knife shopping, Blondie?”

“You her sugar daddy?” Natasha took a stab at defining their relationship.

“I wish,” the masked man gave a fake shudder.

Gwen scoffed.

“What?   I’d be good to you!” he defended himself.

Then, despite the classic rock music playing quietly in the background of the room’s general ruckus, he began his own song and dance.

....I know that ain’t nobody perfect, I give props to those who deserve it...

He popped his hips, making his way toward Gwen as he did.  Her head tipped back in a laugh, but she didn’t wave him off.  Then, to his own surprise, she was dancing to just the beat of his words, as well.

“Yes!” he interrupted himself for only a second.   You so crazy I think I wanna have your baby! ...get in on it, Red.”

“Don’t even think about it ...Red,” Natasha returned, staring at but not accepting the gloved hand that came her way.

“... ...Whatta man, whatta mighty good maaaaan ...”

“Why is this happening?” Tony complained as Deadpool continued to know every line and Gwen jumped in where she knew the words.  “Sam, stop joining!” he called when he spotted the other WIlson also singing along.

“Sam!” Gwen clapped, seeing this too.

Rhodey was laughing.  Natasha was walking away, and Steve and Bucky were looking quietly bemused.

Wait, why was Sam dancing, too?  Why was this even Tony's life? He’d had a meeting with a Senator hours ago, for Christ’s sake.

Although ...maybe this was better than that.

 Yes, my man says he love me, never says he loves me not...

Jesus, both of the Wilsons were in sync, now, and maybe Tony was just still asleep and hadn’t even gotten up for the meeting in DC yet?  Ugh, and now even Steve was grinning...

“...but every time they tried, I said ‘That’s not it!’” the three were in unison for that line.

“That’s enough!” Tony shouted over them all.  “This is not a dance floor.”

“Any floor is a dance floor if you just try,” Deadpool disagreed and thrust his hips in Tony’s direction.

“Technically true,” Gwen nodded and Sam chuckled.

Their Jet had gone through a wormhole.  Yes. That must be it.

“Do you prefer MC Hammer?  Wu Tang Clan?  I can take requests,” Deadpool offered magnanimously.

“I request that you get him out of here, Stacy.  He’s your responsibility,” Tony pointed Gwen

“Are you my mommy?!” Deadpool chirped to the young woman.

“...I think I would’ve raised you better,” she elected after a thoughtful look..

“Undoubtedly.”

He didn’t seem sorry to be dismissed, now.  He  just trudged over to his discarded arsenal and started replacing it on his person.  Gwen took Stark at his word, too, and trudged over to grab her bag.

“Good hanging out - Bucky, I’ll be back,” she pointed his way.

“I’m sure I’ll be here.”

He offered her a small smile and hen returned his gaze to Deadpool, who he still didn’t seem sure what to make of.  He would likely have several questions for Steve.

“Yeah, this was a really nice circle jerk - same time next week?  Oof,” Gwen shut Deadpool up with a whack to the gut.

“Can you get him out of here your way?”  Tony appealed to her.  “I don’t want him in my lobby - or my ductwork,” he continued to grouse

“Sweet! Let’s go,” Wade dove into Gwen’s arms bridal style.

She caught him, of course, much to Sam and even Rhodey’s amusement.

“We’ll just fall to the ground if I can’t use my arms,” she reminded him, non-plussed.

“Fine,” his sigh was put-upon, but he got back to his feet. “Piggyback?”

“You could just shove him off the roof, you know?” Tony suggested helpfully.

“Roof, huh?  No cutting through the Penthouse?” Gwen smirked while she dug for her mask in her bag.

“Absolutely not - JARVIS, lock my floor.  Take them straight up to the top!” he headed off any further shenanigans.

‘Of course, sir.’

Without needing to be asked, Deadpool took Gwen’s bag from her and slung it over his own shoulders so she’d have room for him.  Not a lot of room, mind, but he made do to awkwardly latch himself around her.

“You could wait ...” she suggested while he tested out how to fit his legs around her smaller frame.

“Nah,” he settled in. “Mush!”

“I’m going to ignore the female dog implication,” Gwen grunted as she adjusted him and then leant forward so she could free a hand and pull on her mask.

“Whatever you like.”

Wade helped her make sure the mask was pulled down all the way and patted the top of her head when he was satisfied with it.

“Bye, guys,” Gwen headed for the elevator, which was waiting open for them thanks to JARVIS. “I’m going to need a nap after all of this.”

Wade wiggled his fingers at the rest of the team as the elevator doors slid closed.  Sam was laughing again and, grinning, Rhodey turned to make sure he could see the windows and would be able to (hopefully) see Spider Woman and Deadpool fly past.

“What’re you laughing for?” Tony grumped.

“They’re just such a damn weird pair,” the man shrugged.

“True,” Rhodey nodded.

“So you like this asshole?”

Deadpool himself had admitted to being such.

“Like?  Nah, I dunno about that,” Sam sobered up enough to be honest regarding how much he really knew about the guy.

“I don’t trust him either, Tony, but ... ...I don’t know that I’d consider him an enemy,” Rhodey graded.

“Jesus...”

“Gwen trusts him,” Sam added hopefully.

But that was part of Tony’s problem.  Gwen had once seemed to be humoring Deadpool.  Today she’d clearly enjoyed his unexpected visit;  Deadpool had even made it clear she confided in him.  Tony hadn’t really approved when this friendship looked like some sort of convenience on the streets, but he was a little more disturbed now.

“That’s a pretty thin leash on a rabid pitbull...”

“We don’t know that,” Sam was forever fair.

“I know what you’re saying,” Steve interjected to Tony, “but he’s never really gotten in our way.”

That was a little judicious in Tony’s opinion, and it must have shown on his face.

“I don’t like him,” Steve went on.  “I’m just saying we might as well not stir up anything there unless we have to.  He and Gwen are partnering up, but he’s not with us - we’ll leave it at that for now.”

They did have enough going on...

“I’m running security checks,” he muttered and stalked off.

The others lingered and, sure enough, moments later Gwen, with Deadpool riding shotgun, swung past.  The man flipped them the bird until Gwen gave a tug on a new web and he returned that arm around her shoulders.

 


“I don’t like the Winter Solider...”

“What?  Mmmm,” Gwen gasped.  “Wade, is this really the time?”

She’d needed a shower when she got home, and then she really had intended to take a nap. The only flaw in that particular plan was that Wade had decided he wanted to snag a shower, too, and then join her in bed naked. He’d spooned right up behind her and proceeded to make a sexy little nuisance of himself until she’d nodded the go-ahead and lifted her hips so he could shimmy her underwear and shorts off and down her legs.

He was still wrapped around her from behind, one of her legs now lifted and hooked back over his so his fingers could worm their way between her thighs. 

“I don’t see why it’s not,” he disagreed, hips still rolling forward.  “I can multitask.”

“...I don’t want to,” Gwen sighed and reached behind herself to dig her nails into his hip.

“Well, I do.  I don’t like him...”

“Wade, c’mon,” she breathed.

“Focus up,” he removed his hand from between her legs but did increase the pace of his hips a bit.

Gwen groaned, mostly in frustration he was well aware, but tried better to listen.

“The man bun?” she remembered his comment about it.

“Nah, I don’t care about that - it was practical,” he was fair on this point, at least.  “I didn’t like his hands on you,” he specified while grabbing at her himself.

“Mmmm ...it wasn’t like that,” she whispered but got no verbal response.  “W-- mmmm ...Wade, you know it wasn’t like that,” she insisted a bit louder.

He grunted. 

“I don’t trust him...”

He was breathing harder in her ear and tightened his arms around her, but Gwen struggled to consider her words rather than how this all sent more heat shooting South.

“Trust me then.

Some silly corner of her wanted to tease him and tell him it wasn’t like they were exclusive - they’d hadn’t made those kinds of explicit promises.  But it wasn’t the time for that, and it’s not like she had any interest anyway.  Not regarding Bucky, specifically - he was a handsome man - but in any of it ...except for this right here.  Not that she wanted to think too deeply on that just now.

“I do,” Wade growled and sucked onto her neck.

His arms hugged around her so tightly that her breath stuck in her throat, and it was almost painful.

“I know you don’t break.  You’re so strong...”

The relief when his arms loosened and the wash of his compliments made her feel light, though he still held her, and she grabbed at his hip again in lieu of embracing him in return.

“Wade...”

“I don’t trust him not to hurt you, though.  I don’t like it,” he grunted.

“Wade ...mmm....Wade, I’m okay.  I’m fine,” she panted.

“I know,” he shifted himself so he was a little more above her than behind her.  “I know,” he repeated and grabbed her chin to kiss her.

She could loop an arm around him, then, and smooth a hand over his uneven skin.

“Wade...”

“I wanna rip the face off anyone who comes at you.  I’d never let anyone hurt you...”

She wondered if she would have found that condescending if he hadn’t been inside of her and she was vulnerable and flushed with endorphins.  Only ...he didn’t sound coddling.  A little possessive, maybe, but also desperate (that was probably the impending orgasm) and almost reverent ... ...that could have been the sex, too.

Then again, she realized he’d probably watched the sparing for some time today, seeing her slammed to the ground and Bucky trying to see what his mechanical arm could really do against her.  She was strong but smaller than Bucky, which had allowed her to be manhandled a bit.  No wonder he’d been ready for his own fight with the other man.  Never mind that he knew she’d be alright; he hadn’t liked seeing her not have the upper hand.  It wasn’t natural to stand back and watch it -- she understood that.  She’d balked at seeing him walking around with a knife in his ribs and had stopped him getting shot even though she knew he could survive it.  She still wouldn’t let him get hurt, either.  Not if she could help it.

She knew the feeling.

And even if she didn’t need it - not usually, not really - she liked feeling protected.  Knowing he was there.  Knowing someone understood her.  Saw her.

She just didn’t know how to tell him right now. 

“Imma kill him next time I see him,” he murmured against her mouth.

“Ngh,” Gwen groaned, toes curling with a hardier thrust.  “No you’re not...”

He fisted a hand in her short hair and pulled so her head was thrown back and he could tongue her throat.  Allowing this was submissive and trusting, and she shuddered -she liked it

“I might,” he returned, bringing her back to the point.

“Stop it,” she muttered.

Unsure if she meant his words or the way he was holding her, Wade released her and leaned back slightly.  She had a grin on her hips when she lowered her chin.

“I think you had fun today...”

“I’m having fun now,” he amended and shifted his weight so he could sneak a hand down her body to wiggle its way between her legs to play with her again.

Her pupils were blown wide with lust and she squirmed a little more against him.  Her mouth had opened to retort but she seemed to lose the thread for a moment, and he sucked onto her jaw to allow her a few seconds to just breathe and enjoy.

“Something to say?” he bit her bottom lip.

“...you liked it,” she picked up where they’d left off even as she shifted her legs to give him more room.

“Nah, I like you.  To hell with them,” he was growling again.

And he meant it 99%.

“Ah,” Gwen arched her back and reached her arm up to grab the back of his head.  “God, Wade.... Wade...” her hand fisted tightly in his mask, and he tensed as if she were going to rip it the rest of the way off, but he knew she always asked first...

“Tell me I can kill ‘em,” he bit down onto her ear.

He meant it even though he didn’t.

She shook her head in answer, pulling a deep whine out of him.  Couldn’t she just agree for the sake of this conversation?  He wouldn’t hold her to it like a promise.

Might bring it back up now and then though

“You’d miss them,” a smile ghosted her lips.

“We’ll see...”

He knew he had started the conversation, but he didn’t want to talk about those nerds anymore.  He pulled back to tilt her hips and thrust a bit harder.

Because he was allowed to manhandle her.

Damn straight.  Only me.

If that made him a bit of a dick, he was okay with it.  She’d stop him if she wanted.

“They don’t deserve you,” he panted.

And that was perfectly true. They didn’t know the half of her.

Okay, so Stark helped her.

And Cap seemed perfectly respectful.

And Romanoff taught her shit.

And Wilson -- okay, shit, that guy was alright.

But they still didn’t have shit on her. Never.

Fuuuuuck.

“Fuck, baby...”

“Wade...”

He paused within her and toyed with her between her legs a bit more lest he bust a nut before he meant to.  He’d gotten into his head and stopped paying enough attention.

“Oh, Wade...” she ground against him and he groaned, rubbing her hip but continued to stay still otherwise. “Oh ...mmmm...”

Her breath hitched and he crashed his mouth into hers and began to thrust again in earnest.   

“Wade...” her voice was a whimpering sigh into his skin, and he wanted to fill his ears with the sound forever.

Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine.

Even as he thought this with each of his last, sloppy thrusts ...he knew it wasn’t true.  She wasn’t his. She wasn’t anyones.  But he’d chase her all damn day...

No. He had her.

When Wade relaxed and sat back on his knees for a moment before shifting around so they could both lay back down, spooning loosely once again. 

She still needed that nap, after all.

“...Wade?” Gwen tried after a few minutes, not sure if he’d fallen asleep.

“Mmm?” he grunted.

Grinning, she squirmed around under his heavy arm until she could lay facing him instead. It really had been a taxing day and she should get some sleep in before heading out tonight, but she wasn’t quite ready to.

She felt like something had happened here, that he’d said some important things - maybe without really saying them - and she wanted to acknowledge it.  She also didn’t want to discuss it.  What if she said the wrong thing and cheapened it?  Or maybe he would balk and just joke it off...

She traced a finger over his chin and then up the bottom of his cheek to sneak under his flipped-up mask.

“Can I?”

“...don’t see why you’d want to...” 

His voice held a false cheeriness, but he wasn’t telling her not to do it.     So she continued pushing her hand up and peeled the mask away so she could continue gently tracing his face with light fingers.  He closed his eyes, perhaps to feign sleep.

They were both well aware of the fact that she knew what his face had once been, that it had been angled and handsome.  That it had been better, as he would insist.  Gwen understood why he would think that and knew she would feel the same way about herself should she have been the one whose skin mottled and hair fell out....

And, yet, she had not shared a bed with that Wade.  They had been pals, they’d fucked around once or twice, and they had worked together a little bit, but that was all.  She trusted him now more than ever; his new look hadn’t gotten in the way of that.

And he knew that, she thought.  He just didn’t seem to feel it himself. She traced his finger down his nose and then let it fall away and tucked her arm against her chest to sleep. 

Because she trusted being there.  With him.

Wade peeked an eye open once she went still to check that she had actually settled in to sleep.  He felt the intense need to bolt, and he thought she might not mind since she would have some work to do when she woke.  Then again ...this was cozy

He could stay a bit.

Like he’d said, he was between jobs.

Night night, Spidey Poo. 

Chapter Text

Gwen rolled gracelessly across Wade’s bed to pull her cellphone off of the charger she’d been using on his chipped bed stand.  She wasn’t blind to the handgun sitting under the top shelf, but she didn’t dwell on it.  She much preferred it there than tucked under a pillow, which was where he claimed to keep it when she wasn’t staying over.

She turned away and spotted her crumpled blue dress that had been dropped in the corner.  Smirking, she picked it up to fold and set on a cluttered IKEA dresser so she wouldn’t have to look later.

It was a short, long-sleeved dress that had been form fitting but nothing too fancy.  She’d worn it to a small get-together - dinner, desserts, and drinks around a patio fire - at Stark’s penthouse. The evening had been hosted mostly by Pepper but aided and abetted by Tony.  The team had gathered up for some casual relaxing, Pepper quashing any attempts to talk shop.  Thor was heading to Europe soon, so they’d thought to bond a bit before seeing him off.

Thor, by the by, was something else.  Gwen wasn’t sure if him calling her Lady Arachnid was genuine or something Sam and/or Tony had put him up to, and he wasn’t telling.  He’d also dared her to user her strength to catch his hammer, and he hadn’t seemed to notice the entendre there.  Again, it was possible he’d been put up to this.  She didn’t know him much since he always came and went, and as a result she had retreated for a while with Banner and slammed a few drinks before returning to the patio. 

So she’d been a little tipsy - the drunkenness nearly completely faded thanks to her metabolism - when she’d shown up at Wade’s.  She hadn’t been sure that he’d ever seen her in heels or a dress, and the way he’d suddenly been sorry that he hadn’t scored an invite to the party, too, suggested he in fact had not.

_

“Dress code’s changing around here,” he’d told her after grabbing her hand and making her twirl on the spot.

“That means you’ll have to dress up, too, then.”

“Totally worth it...”

She’d tried to step away but he’d stopped her so he could continue looking her up and down.

“I never knew I wished you were taller...”

“Don’t get too used to it; these aren’t comfortable...”

At that she’d lifted a leg to try to unzip and remove the offending shoes.

“Don’t you dare,” he’d scooped her up around his waist before she could.  “Keep ‘em on...”

But he’d been kind enough to fuck her up against the wall just like that so she hadn’t had to stay on sore feet.  Instead the edges of the heels had scraped his thighs while he listened to encouragements like : “Oh...you feel good”, and “Don’t stop!”  

__

Wade had taken her at her word, too, and had certainly not stopped.  He had remembered her complaint, though, and helped her kick the shoes aside before bending her over his couch.  And that was all before pulling her to his bed to finally rid her of the dress he’d so liked.

So, needless to say, Gwen had slept in.  By the time she’d crawled out of his bed and borrowed one of his hoodies he was already up.  She’d found him pacing in the living room in front of numerous cork boards propped around the room and a two-sided whiteboard.

These things were usually stashed in the apartment’s second bedroom along with extra weapons.  They were hauled out when he wanted to do some work.  So they had been discussing and hypothesizing since the morning.  It wasn’t the first time and, based on how it was going, probably not the last.

Wade -Deadpool - had been out of state for a job until a few days ago, so he was trying to get back on track with his ultimate vendetta and make some headway.

Gwen, still pants-less, now padded back out to the living room in his sweatshirt to join him once more.  He was standing in jeans and a t-shirt, one arm crossed over his chest and the other holding one of her high heels, tapping his chin thoughtfully with the toe of it.

“Cut it out,” she reached for it.

But he palmed her forehead and pressed her away without sparing a glance to her.

“It helps me think...”

She very much doubted that, but he had woken up in one of his more sullen moods so she didn’t nitpick right now.

“Just don’t put it in your mouth; I’ll never look at those the same.”

“Kinky.”

But his tone lacked any lecherous enthusiasm, and he did not, in fact, make a move to lick or suck on the shoe.  It would unfortunately have been more normal if he did.

“What’re you thinking?” Gwen checked after giving him several minutes while she checked some social media and made moves against both Sam and MJ in 'Words with Friends'.

“You don’t want to know,” he answered darkly.

“Yes I do.”

Wade glared over his shoulder at her.  This was the one area she’d agreed to allow him all leeway, but if he said too much and abused it she may go and change her mind on him.

She wouldn’t; would she?  She could...but maybe not.

“Wanna run through it from the beginning?” she offered and patted the space on the couch next to her.

“I hate the beginning,” he grumbled.

“We could start at killing Francis, then,” Gwen offered because that victory usually put at least a little pep in his step.

Indeed, his eyes flashed before he flopped down to sit beside her and spread out, still facing his obsessive work.

“Well, see, Colossus didn’t want me to do it because he’s a big metal baby, but in true Me fashion...”

She twisted where she sat and draped her legs into his lap while he regaled her with the tale she’d heard many times of finally -finally - putting a bullet in the face of his nemesis.

Then they moved on to each bit of information that had come to fit into the fucked up Weapon X puzzle since then.  It wasn’t a brief task because it wasn’t a straight timeline.  Often, information Wade had extracted and dismissed in his initial hunt for Francis came back around as he found out about other players in the sick game.  Plus there were tangents to go on and thought bunnies to explore.

The most concerning of these was usually how Wade was going to examine his conscience when it came to facing-off with any of these hand-made-mutant-slaves. Because if they were enslaved but trying to kill him, where did killing them first fall in his grey interpretation of right and wrong?  He could really go on about that topic until Gwen offered to incapacitate them for him; “web them up” to be determined at a later time if they were acting of their own accord or not.  He didn’t seem wholly satisfied with this solution, but he did put a pin in it and move on.

The full picture now spanned multiple states - possibly countries if one source was to be believed.  It was truly quite terrifying.

And they ended, as they had for some time now, on one name: Killibrew.

Dr. Killibrew.

If he wasn’t the head of it he must be damn close, but he also might as well be a ghost.

Nothing new stuck-out as interesting in their rehashing, and by the time they finished Wade was pacing again and wringing Gwen's shoe in his hands.

“Everyone’s scared of him,” Gwen drummed her fingers on her knees, her legs flung from his lap some time ago when he’d leapt to his feet.

“They should be scared of me!” he threw her shoe against the wall in frustration.

It knocked a couple empty beer bottles off a shelf, but Gwen didn’t care.  It looked like he’d already worried the shoe enough that a zipper was broken, so she’d written the item off about twenty minutes prior.

His chest was heaving in suppressed fury, and she eyed him carefully.

“Can I suggest something?”

“Obviously.”

“...even if I don’t think you’ll like it?”

His eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms, already prepared to be stubborn.  Even so, he lifted a hand to wave in a “go on” fashion.

“There’s a lot of untapped potential with the X-Men.”

“Fuck no,” he threw up his hands.

“But they already sort of know what you’re dealing with.”

“And they’ve tried getting in my way, too!” Wade raged.  “Tried to stop me, tried to talk me out of it, fucked shit up the first time I found Francis!  I was lucky to get anything done with them and their thumbs up their asses half the time...”

“They’re strong allies,” Gwen argued.  “You were going to them for help again before,” she also pointed out.

“Yeah, well, I needed more help than Weasel.  Now I’ve got you,” he waved her whole plan away.

“And I’m saying they might be able to help...”

Fuck them and their matching suits ... ...maybe if Wolvie was around, but who the fuck knows when that will be...”

He allegedly hadn’t been back around the school in over a year.

“Can I make another suggestion?”

“Sure, you’re really on a roll...” he bit.

Gwen disregarded the sarcasm.

“... ... I had dinner last night in the most high-tech building in the country.”

Maybe the world, but there was no reason to brag when Tony would do that himself.

“No,” he threw a fresh glare at her.

“There’s limitless resources there,” she plowed on.

“No.”

“And you wouldn’t have to wait so long to--”

“No. No. No!” he roared, slamming his hands down on the back of the couch.  “They’ll fuck it all up!”

The back of Gwen’s neck tingled, and it was all she could do not to hop off the couch and bristle at him for his attitude.  That would distract from her point, which might be what he was hoping for.

“It’s not like they’d support this,” she waved at his meticulous, if overfull, boards.

“They’ll get. In. My. Way,” he ground out between his teeth.

“Wade...”

“I’m killing every one of these mother fuckers,” he growled at her, sucking in a deep breath.  “Anyone who’s in on it, anyone who’s touched it ... ... ...the shit they did...” he trailed off, jaw working tightly.

“I know.  That’s why--”

“You don’t,” he rocked the whole couch when he shoved it.  “You,” he raised his hands and made choking motions with them but didn’t draw nearer to her.  “You have no clue.”

And that was technically true; he’d never shown any indication to wanting to share details, so she didn’t ask for them.  She just knew it was bad.  Bad enough he wanted revenge.  Bad enough he didn’t want anyone else to go through it.  Bad enough he was willing to do almost -but clearly not quite - anything.

Gwen rose from the couch to face him across it, finally uncomfortable enough with him looming over her.

“I’m not saying I understand what that was like,” she told him what she suspected he already knew.  “If you want to talk ab-”

“No,” he sliced his hand through the air.  “That’s not on the table.”

“Okay.”

He paced around again and she left him to it for a while.

She turned to face his compilation of work so far.  It comprised of scribbled notes, photos, newspaper articles, print-offs of online forum communications, stolen data, maps, doodles (for some reason), and more.  It was overwhelming. 

All at once it was too much to helpfully parse through, and it was not enough.

It wasn’t enough even though -no brag - she was intelligent, and - total brag! - Wade was historically quite good at this kind of thing.  They just couldn’t be everywhere or see every thing.  Somehow, she hoped staring would make some new connections to pursue.

Wade’s pacing brought him nearer, and he finally stopped to fold a broad forearm over her narrower shoulders and plunk his chin atop her head to stare, too.  They stood a couple minutes this way, their breaths falling into sync.

“Wade,” she wanted to try again.

His large hand covered her mouth before she could say anything else.  She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, waiting for him to stop.  He didn’t, so she brushed his hand away.

He resisted the attempt.

“Don’t do it, Blondie.”

She side-stepped him and he allowed this.

“Just listen.”

“No!” he snapped.

“Why not?”

“Gwen!” he shouted her down.

But she ticked her chin up and planted her hands on her hips so he knew something was coming regardless.

“Fuck,” he spat.

Should kick her right out.

“Let me use JARVIS a -”

“Okay, and I’ll just invite Stark over for tea, too!”

“JARVIS can run a search for me without Tony around.”

“And I’m sure he’ll never find out...”

“If he does I’ll already be done.  Wade, JARVIS can search everything...” Gwen kept her cool.

“Don’t you think I know that?”

“Everything,” she reiterated.  “Bank records, every website, crime data from all over the world!  And all we need is a rumor to--”

“Enough!” he was at top volume again.  “Why are you trying to ruin this?”

Gwen froze.

“What?”

“Why do you need your other friends in this?  They’ll find out and they’ll ruin it - they’ll get in my way!” he repeated this fear.  “I swear to God, Gwen, if they try to stop me, I”ll ... ...”

His heart was racing at the thought, and he stopped to try to control his excited breathing.  Talking about killing any of the Avengers crew was always a bit of a joke, or occasionally a half-wish, but if they tried to stop him on this front ... ...he might just go for it.  Allegiances be damned, he might not be able to stop himself.  As much as he didn’t want to say it out loud to her, it was true.

“I know you’re angry...”

“I’m livid,” he spat just to be disagreeable - it was childish, he knew.

But satisfying.

She waited a beat.

“Just think about it.”

“No,” he scoffed.

Why wasn’t she getting this? She thinks she’s so smart.

“W-”

“And don’t you go fuck around with Stark’s BFF behind my back,” he thrust a finger toward her.

It didn’t escape him that she’d put a couple feet between them, but it didn’t phase him just then.  It was probably for the best given that he felt like he might spontaneously combust at any moment.

“You call the shots here,” she reminded him damn right.  “I just want you to consider every option.”

“What do you think I do when I break in there, Gwen?” he exploded.

“...what?”

“I mean, I spy on you, yeah,” he conceded.  “But I’ve also already tried having a heart-to-heart with the All Seeing Eye, alright?  It said it wouldn’t do shit for me without reporting back to Stark.  If Stark knows, Boy Wonder will know, and they’ll fucking sweep in and help and be perfect, but they won’t do it right!” He was enraged again. “You promised,” he stalked forward but stopped when she rocked back on her heels like she wasn’t sure if she should retreat.

Never.

So he inhaled deeply through his nose once.  Twice.

“You promised you wouldn’t get in my way on this...” he was quieter but no less stubborn.

“I won’t.”

She meant it. She meant it. She meant it.

“They did this to me,” he shoved a finger in his own face. “And the way they did it ...I can’t even .....I wake up some nights thinking there’s no air in my lungs,” his eyes went dark.  “And I wasn’t the only one ...some of those people had kids, and they didn’t give a fuck - not one...” he shook his head to get his thoughts back in order.  “They fucked me up, but now ...now I can’t die, and I’m going to make them regret it.  Every last one of them.”

“I don’t disagree.

“Yes you do,” he returned darkly.

“I already--”

“Said you won’t stop me,” he understood.  “But you don’t think it’s right.  Maybe if I tried to drown you, froze you nearly to death,” he spoke slower now.  “If I strung you up just to strip you and beat the shit out of you .... ...maybe then you’d get it, too,” he’d stalked closer and poked a finger into her sternum.

She finally stepped away from him when he touched her.  There was something very much Spider Woman in the set of her shoulders.

“Cut it out,” her voice was a little shaky, so that wasn’t quiet the order she wished it was.  “You want to scare me? Congratulations.  Mission accomplished. I’m horrified....”

“Shit,” he sighed and stepped away to run his hands over his scalp.

“I don’t know exactly what happened to you, but I’ve seen what it’s put you through ...and that’s enough, alright?  It’s enough for me to be irrevocably on your side,” her voice was a little choked still but didn’t warble as she continued.

“Fuck,” he muttered, followed by a louder, “FUCK!”

Gwen reached for his arm but he wrenched himself way and stomped down the hall.  He reemerged seconds later with a beanie on his head tugging on a large zip-up hoodie. 

“Where are you going?” Gwen stiffened, acutely aware that she wasn’t dressed appropriately to follow.

“Walk.”

“Maybe y--”

“I need fresh air,” he didn’t want to hear her reasons about why maybe he shouldn’t go out in his current mood.

Gwen tried to think if she’d left any pants here that she could pull on, but Wade left too abruptly.  The door’s slam reverberated momentarily and then all was still and silent. 

By the time she decided she didn’t have pants here but could discretely fetch one of her backpacks nearby, she’d also realized she should just leave him alone.

So she dropped onto the couch again with only the cork boards of horrible information for company.  She felt mocked by them so she got right back up and shuffled out to the small balcony to curl up in the patio hair there.  It was cool but Wade’s sweater was warm and she tugged it down further to cover her knees.  That might stretch it out, but he’d ruined a shoe and she didn’t see why she couldn’t have this shirt as compensation.

Tears strung her eyes once she stopped distracting herself.  She couldn’t lie to herself completely and insist Wade hadn’t alarmed her with the way he’d gotten angry.  He ranted and raved about all of this before, of course, but it was different that he was angry at her rather than just around her.  She had pressed when he told her not to, but she’d believed - and, frankly, still did - that her idea had more merit than he was admitting.

Almost more than his delivery, it was what he’d said.  That part of him didn’t believe she was on his side -not really. She tried to tell herself it was natural, that of course he was cautious and paranoid on this front.  Another part of her felt guilty that she’d obviously not been dutiful enough in proving he could rely on her.

‘Maybe if I strung you up...’

It wasn’t fair the way he’d thrown those things he didn’t want to talk about in her face, but Christ...

After declaring all of that “off the table” he’d surely said more than he wanted to, but now it was too late.  He couldn’t unsay it, and she sure as hell couldn’t un-hear it.  She knew it had been awful, but when whatever had happened was undefined it had just been a looming darkness in her mind’s eye.  Now she had a specific context for his pain, and those visuals weren’t going to go away any time soon.

Not that they would probably ever address it.  At least not directly.  Because he’d never planned on telling her anything - either for her sake or his; maybe both.  He’d never even come close to that kind of detail...

Wade hadn’t wanted her to know and, if nothing else, he was going to regret bringing a spotlight to his pain.

Gwen swiped tears from her cheeks and tried to pull herself together.  Wade would feel guilty if he came back to a crying mess.  Or he’d think it was some form of pity, and he absolutely didn’t think he deserved that - sympathy made him uncomfortable.

She couldn’t help that she was sad for him and scared for him.  Okay, and a bit frustrated with him, too. 

She did feel like utilizing Avenger’s Tower was an obvious next step now that their digging had reached a dead end.  Wade was right; he’d needed more than Weasel.  Now he needed more than her, too.  There was no getting around the fact that their boots-on-the-ground strategy needed a boost.

‘Every last one of them...

Yeah ...she could see the Avengers drawing a line at that.  Or at least most of them would.

He had a point. 

But so did she.

‘They’ll fuck it up!’

She’d made promises.  Promises she intended to keep.  She wiped away more tears where they were too cold on her face, and then she headed in.  

For a place that was rarely ever quiet, the apartment seemed overly so now.

Gwen wanted very much to put all of the boards and papers away, to stash them in the spare room and pretend they didn’t exist. But she couldn’t.  This was important.  She couldn't just hide it away - it was everything to Wade.

After swiping a couple new tears away, she started straightening all of the papers up.  Nothing got removed, but she righted everything that had been riffled, bent, or pushed askew on its tack.  Once it was all a little more orderly, she continued to stare at it until it made her head hurt.

She cleared a path to the TV, then, and lounged on the couch to flip channels.  Maybe Wade was hoping that she would take herself home if he was gone long enough, but she could and would wait him out.  It was the weekend so she didn’t have work, and he had plenty of food and drink in the place to facilitate a sit-in.



It was night when Wade trudged back to his apartment.  He had walked a long time in the cold air of the late Fall. He didn’t mind it; he loved the cold.  Winter, in particular, meant everyone was wearing layers, so he rarely got  a second glance.

He’d wound up at Sister Margaret’s ordering drinks from Weasel because, even though his liver healed itself too fast for him to get drunk, the act of drinking itself was familiar and comforting.  Weasel had tried to make conversation several times but all efforts were rebuffed so he eventually wandered away.

In other words, he was a goddamn ray of sunshine.

Which was why he froze when he walked into his apartment and Gwen was still there sleeping on his couch.  ‘Planet Earth’ was playing on the TV, and he couldn’t help but grin at the fact that his little nerd had fallen asleep to something educational.  Apparently she had only done so after righting all the research on his hoarder-like tack boards.

She shouldn’t even be there.

To hell she shouldn’t!

It wasn’t a thought he often had.  She was always welcome there in his book, but he’d fucked up this time.  He’d shouted at her and he had said things he never wanted to say to her. 

She’d just poked and prodded and poked and prodded.

Nope!  Not her fault.

Well, maybe a little...

Watch it.

He clicked off the TV and then stepped over to the couch.  He’d no more than bent over her and her eyes snapped open.

“Hey...”

She made to sit up, but he scooped her up before she finished.

“Hey Blondie,” he returned quietly.

“Time’s it...”

“Oh, pretty late,” he admitted and deposited her in bed once he’d made it down the hall.

“Are you leaving again?” she pushed herself up onto an elbow when he didn’t join.

“Shower.”

She seemed to accept that because she laid back down, and he did indeed get in the shower to scrub down.  It helped clear his head a little more, like he was starting fresh.  Afterward, the sight of Gwen sprawled in his bed and wearing his clothes still wasn’t enough to entice him into bed.

So he spent the rest of the early morning hours sitting on the couch staring at the last year’s worth of work. 

They’d come so far and tracked down so many people, and still so much didn’t make any sense.  He’d had himself convinced the whole thing was governmental ...but now that didn’t seem so certain.   He was banking on private benefactors, now, and that made it hard to know where to start.  Gwen still thought it might be governmental now that there was evidence the whole thing went international, but that didn’t exactly narrow it down either.

Killibrew.

Fuck.

All mention of Dr. Killibrew made him sound like a man, but that didn’t mean Wade hadn’t spent hours scribbling out possible anagrams just in case one jumped out.  Just to be sure.

Maybe Gwen was right...

No!

He should trust her to try.

Too dangerous.

If Stark or one of his crew caught a whiff and got in the way...

Take ‘em out!

Or...or would it be worth it?   Did it need to be him?  He wanted them all dead, but was it the end of the world if that didn’t happen as long as someone put a stop to them? Hmmm....

“You’re still up... “

His fists were clenched painfully tight when Gwen’s voice interrupted his train of thought. 

The sun was starting to rise already.

“You know I don’t sleep a lot - I’m not a Sleeping Beauty like you,” he quipped.

“What if Sleeping Beauty wants someone to cuddle with?”

...was he going to deny her to keep wallowing like a feeb?

Hells nah.

He shoved himself to his feet with some mental effort.

“I see you’re not even going to deny the nickname - kind of conceited, I gotta say,” he rounded the couch to usher her back down the hall.

“I thought you’d argue if I did...”

“True dat,” he nudged her at the bed.

He watched her crawl into bed with mild interest and then dropped down with her and stretched comfortably.

“You know, I came home to you watching a nature documentary like a real nerd...”

Gwen hummed in amusement and attached herself to his side like she thought he’d disappear.  Her worry was admittedly well-founded because he still wanted to bail.

“It was one of the ocean episodes - I like fish.”

“Huh ....guess it would be too on the nose if you were into bugs.  Or birds, since you’re always flying around....”

“I like to swim”

“...I didn’t know that,” he mused and tucked both hands up under his head.

If he wasn’t going to sleep, at least he could lay there and think about her wet and undulating in a bikini...

“I’m mysterious, too...”

“Sure you are, Carmen.”

“.....Carmen San Diego?”

“You got it.”

“Hmm...”

She fell quiet, and for some time Wade was sure it was because she was trying to lull him into a false sense of security.  Surely she would want to trap him, unawares, into a conversation about that afternoon. However, the minutes ticked by and she hadn’t made a move or a peep.

She really had just wanted him to join her so she could get back to sleep.

See, no duplicity!

Of course he could trust her.  He knew that.  He really did.  It wasn’t fair to expect her to let him down; he couldn’t just have that hanging over her head all the time like he was waiting for her to make a single mistake.

Even if part of him was. 

Part of him expected everyone to let him down because he didn’t deserve help.  He didn’t deserve loyalty or friendship because he was too much of a fucking mess.

You self-pitying clown.

True.  He was a morose cockwaffle now that he’d sunk deep into his dark thoughts and worries.  He should’ve tried to pull himself out of it by thinking of happier shit.  Instead he thought of Cunningham and Francis and Vanessa - the sour shit - because he hated himself more than a little.

“...you’re still awake?”

He’d hardly even realized how much time passed, but the room was awash in morning light when Gwen stirred at his side. 

Why hadn’t he kicked her out?

“Hey,” a poke at his side drew his attention to her.  “Did you get any sleep?”

Her blue eyes were wide, if still a little sleep-clouded. That must be why he hadn’t kicked her out - he liked those eyes.

“Nah,” he considered but vetoed lying.

“Sorry,” she kissed his side and sat up so she could make her way to the bathroom.

Why the fuck was he letting her apologize to him? Oh, yeah, because he was a chicken-shit and couldn’t bring himself to talk to her about how he should be the one apologizing.

Fuck.

Fuck was right.

When Gwen reappeared, she studied him from the doorway right up until it was about to make him uneasy.  Then she just crawled straight up his body from the foot of the bed and planted a soft kiss on his lips.

“Gwen,” he picked his head up off of his folded hands because he knew he ought to say something.

Anything.

Nothing came out right away, so she placed a finger on his lips and gently pushed him back onto the pillow.  He got one more kiss and then she trailed her lips to his chin to kiss along his jaw, then mouthed at his pulse so she could lick and kiss her way down his neck. She chose to completely ignore that he rolled his neck to try to shake her off. No matter how often he liked to sit back and enjoy her body or lay her down and worship whichever part of her struck his fancy, he did not like to afford her the same chance to love on his body.

Because of course he didn’t.

She made it to his chest to suck her lips around his married right nipple before she took pity on how tightly he was wound.  With a sigh, she sat back on her legs to straddle his thigh while he stared somewhere around her shoulder.

“Turn over....”

“I’m f-”

“Come on; just roll over,” she whispered and tickled his side lightly.

He gave a small grunt as if it were a chore but ultimately did as she bid and settled onto his front so he could cradle a pillow to his face.

Now he didn’t have to see her lavish attention onto him.  Slowly, she traced a finger straight down his spine, enjoying his shudder. Then her light touch gave way to a proper massage.  It wasn’t easy given how tense he was, but she wasn’t in a rush and had the time to knead every inch of muscle. He gave grunts and groans when she managed to hit good spots, and the mild relief seemed to outweigh the fact that she was taking her sweet time touching on his skin.  He didn’t even protest her leaning in to kiss his spine from time to time...

“Mmmm,” he groaned.  “Where’d you learn how to use your hands?” he finally asked lazily when she returned to rubbing firm circles into his trapezius muscles, up his neck just a fraction.

“Well, you see ...I had to pay my way through college so I got a job at a dirty massage parlor...”

He snorted into his arm.

“Super hot ...that mean I get a happy ending?”

“Well everyone does” - another snort in response.  “You want one?”

He was quiet a moment and then slowly rolled himself over.  Gwen rose up a bit on her knees to let him do so, then she settled down on his waist again.

“I don’t really deserve one,” he gave an answer that was honest to how he was feeling even though it made her grimace.  “I know ...I’m a morose piece of shit today.”

“You’re not,” she hunkered over to kiss his sternum.

When she pulled back, Wade chased after her because whatever she was feeling ...he wanted to feel it, too.  He sat up to kiss her, looping his arms low around her waist, and groaned when she hugged his neck and pressed against him.

It was slow and hot and wet, and he just wanted to crawl inside her and hide, except that didn’t make any sense.  So he sat there surrounded by blankets kissing and groping at her.

He was quiet for a while, more so than usual Gwen thought but didn’t really mind. Even when she detached so they could both ditch their underwear, she just moved back into his lap without lewd invitations or graphic enticements.

“God, I’m crazy about you, Blondie,” he finally spoke into her mouth.  “Aw, hell, I’m just crazy....do it, c’mon...”

He had both hands buried in her hair, fisted on either side of her head, as she sunk down onto him. Her breath hitched at the stretch but then she moaned, and he inhaled it greedily.

“Do you think we can do this all day?” Wade continued to help rock the hips he held bracketed in his large hands. “This ...right...here...”

“Mmmhmm...”

Wade nuzzled her neck and then bit at her collarbone before smothering his face there above her breast.

“Why’re you so good to me, huh?”

Gwen tried to press him back from her, but he swooped in to suck onto her neck so she couldn’t do it.

“So good,” he managed around a mouthful of her ear.

“Mmmm,” she pushed on his shoulder again.

Aw, cut it out, baby girl...

Wade moved his legs around and leaned forward to drop Gwen onto the mattress.

“Turn over..”

“I’m ...”

“Go on; roll over”

Even thrumming with lust, Gwen recognized her own words being used against her, now, so she did roll over.  She thought to get on her hands and knees, but Wade kept a hand on her back to keep her on the mattress.  He gave her a firm but fast massage, then tugged her hips up just a fraction and draped himself over top of her and pressed back down into her.

“Ahh...”

“Gonna make sure you get that happy ending, too,” he promised, hitching one of her legs up further on the bed.

Gwen hissed and bit at her lip.  She’d wanted to ride him and make sure he was relaxed, but of course he’d taken over on her. It was still good. 

“So good...” she quoted him back at him this time, voice little more than a breath.

“Too good,” he breathed into her neck. “I’m no good; I’m not ...I don’t wanna talk to you that way ...I don’t want you to be scared....”

“I’m not,” Gwen gasped.

Of course he could have this conversation now - she wasn’t surprised.  It was easier to hide these personal, intimate things under something carnal.  That way he could still pretend ... ...so could she.

“I’m not...”

“Never,” he grunted, scraping his teeth over her neck.

He tugged her hair to tilt her head so he had more room to latch on, trying to mark her.

“Never...”

As she whispered her agreement, Gwen felt ...something.  Something beyond the building orgasm or the teeth claiming her neck.  Something light and warm, and ...she blinked against it.  Whimpered.  It wasn’t supposed to be quite like this.

“Wade...”

“I’ve got you, baby...”

“Wade ...can you...”

“Anything...”

“...harder...”

Wade grunted because he didn’t really want to at the moment, but he pushed himself up anyway.

Promises are promises.

He pressed on her back so it arched further and her hips shifted for him so he could do what she asked and thrust into her more roughly. 

It’s all good.  Always good...

He watched her hands fist into the sheets, tugging as she moaned.  Moaned his name.  Moaned nothing.  Moaned anything.

“Fuuuuuck. Fuck...”

He wasn’t feeling particularly articulate, but he was with it enough to recognize one of her gasps catch like it was a sob.  He froze.

“Wh--”

“You good?” he was panting but focused enough.

“So good.”

Her answer was quick and she sounded wrecked.  She was close.

Good.

He wasted no time in resuming, then. Feeling all of her.  Taking in her neck no one but him could touch, her deceptively delicate looking spine, those strong limbs that could kick his ass but also stroked him tenderly, and fuck.

Gwen.

 

 

Gwen hastily wiped at her over-wet eyes with unsteady hands when she relaxed again against the bed, now laying on her side with Wade at her back.  Pleasure still hung like a haze over her, but she wanted to hide the evidence of any tears.

Wade probably wouldn’t like it if he saw, thinking she was upset or hurt.  She wasn’t; she just felt ....good.  It had been long, emotional day for each of them and this had been a release.  It meant something, but he didn’t have to worry about it.  It was good.

Maybe too good.

“I’m sorry,” he finally stated outright after several minutes of relaxing and recovering.

“....me too.”

She felt his hands play through her hair, something between a tickle and a tug, and it felt nice. It made her smile.

“...I’m hungry.”

Gwen laughed aloud.

“...me too....”

“I’m not cooking,” they both said at the same time.

“But I want pancakes,” Gwen insisted - he always said his were superior to all others.

“No you don’t ... ... I do make the best, though ....” he couldn’t help himself. “Damn it, woman, you’ve done it.”

He gave her ass a light smack and rolled out of bed.  Gwen lingered a while, relieved they’d swum from deep, dangerous waters up to the surface.  One might complain about whiplash of emotions, but she felt like this was evidence they’d be alright.

“Damn it - no coffee filters!” a shout came from the kitchen.

“Use a paper towel!”

“No paper towel either!”

“Napkin?”

“....tea is fine! Basically the same....”

“No it’s not!” Gwen sat straight up because he absolutely didn’t accept tea as a substitute either.

“Don’t worry about it...”

Digital Underground began playing before she had the chance to shout back a counter-argument, so she threw the sheets off and scurried to the bathroom.  She was going to need the coffee so he better be joking ...otherwise she’d have to go find those pants.

When she did get to the kitchen, she could smell the coffee already percolating and Wade was bopping to The Humpty Dance while he mixed up some batter.

“Liar...”

I’m still gettin’ in the girls’ pants and I even got my own dance” he carried on with his singing and ignored her.

Why wasn’t he more annoying?

“You’re the worst...”

Chapter Text

Waking up at Wade’s was becoming a little too common, and these days if Gwen wasn’t at his place then he was probably stopping around hers.  Granted he didn’t always stay the night due to not sleeping as much as her, but he popped in and out.  Hell, she wasn’t even trying to reprimand him anymore for showing up when she wasn’t home. 

Gwen sort of wanted to be annoyed about this.  He was still dangerous -she was perfectly aware that Tony wasn’t making that stuff up. His morals still titled left of center for her tastes most days.  He was larger than life and unpredictable. Somehow, at some point, these things that used to keep her hesitate became ...exciting.

And she wasn’t totally sure how she felt about it - Tony would call her young and dumb - but she’d given up on fighting it.  For now, anyway.

“Wade, you home?” Gwen called down the hall before she rolled out of bed and stretched.

  Despite being one of the most limber people she knew, her joints popped and she sighed in satisfaction. She was content from a good night’s sleep and, sure, as Wade would insist: a good ole fashion fucking.  He had lately taken to insisting that he was doing his civic duty to the city by making sure Spider-woman was tuckered out enough for a good night’s sleep so she was ready for patrol the next day.

“Living room!”

Maybe he’d found something good on TV Land and she could spend the morning drinking coffee and pretending she didn’t have any work she had to do for a story.

She pulled on some sweats and yesterday’s sports bra and padded down the hall towards the smell of coffee.  From the kitchen, she saw that the TV was indeed on and playing the 1,000th season of ‘Real World’ with the volume on low.  Wade wasn’t even watching, though.  He was seated at a card table he’d unfolded and guns were splayed out before him.

“What’s up my bodacious, blonde babycakes?” he greeted her, not looking up from reassembling a rifle.

“Bodacious, huh?” she grabbed one of the mugs sitting on the counter that appeared to be waiting for her.

First she inspected its cleanliness.  Then she actually poured coffee into it.

“Sure,” he cooed.  “You’re strong like steel, but you got some sooooooft curves...” he graded but still wasn’t lifting his masked eyes from his work.

Gwen grinned and shuffled out of the kitchen to lean against the back of the couch and watch Wade, who was now dutifully cleaning a handgun. She wasn’t sure why he had one of his masks on unless it just felt right to him given that he was technically conducting some work-related business. That or he wanted to hide away today.  Either one was probably par for the course, so she decided not to touch it right now.  Instead, she just watched him work meticulously and methodically.  There weren’t a lot of things he settled down for, but the routine of caring for his weapons always brought on a military-like calm.  She could admire that.

“Something I can help you with there, Angel Face?”

Definitely trying to hide today if he was suspicious of her watchful eye so quickly.

“You’re full of it this morning...”

“I’ve been up for hours; it’s practically my afternoon,” he nudged aside his solvent to grab a small rod while he continued to work. “And you could give me cutsie names back, but noooo.”   

“Last time I tried to call you an Adonis you were annoyed.”

She wasn’t going to feel bad for not matching him silly name for silly name.  He didn’t take appearance-based-compliments well, so she tried to use them quickly and at strategic times so she wouldn’t have to hear a self-deprecating monologue in return.

“True. True.  Not everything lands well; guess you’ll have to try harder,” he turned it deftly back on her, anyway.  “So what’s with the ogling ...bad news coming?” he did stop his work then to take a proper look at her.

“No,” her light eyes rolled high. “It’s just ...this whole thing is kind of hot,” she waved an index finger at his carefully arranged table.

It was some mix of the power of the guns and the delicate care he spared to take care of them before heading out to wield them with abandon. She shouldn’t even approve of this many weapons in one place, but...

“Ooooo,” he wiggled momentarily in his seat. “Does Spidey finally want an arsenal of her own?”

He sounded much too excited about that.

“Definitely not.”

“Shoot now, ask questions later” probably wasn’t a good motto for a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-woman to adopt.  Natasha might also approve, however.

“Alright,” he spread his gloved hands wide with a sigh. “Just keep perving on me, then...”

Gwen was happy to, especially seeing as her only other option at the moment was MTV. She’d much rather watch him work with his hands...

But it seemed he couldn’t quite stand it.

“Have you ever even shot a gun?” he piped up, needlessly straightening a rag.

“Course I have”

His eyes popped curiously, but when he repeated her it was mockingly.

Of course I have ...like I’m supposed to guess that when you run around the city without weapons...‘sept these guns,” he threw up a quick flex and then waved her off.

“My dad was a cop, Wade; I grew up around guns,” she reminded him with a wry grin of her own, though she was amused.

He stopped fiddling around and kept his head up to pay proper attention, which seemed respectful. 

“He took MJ and me a few times, said we should know what we were doing.  I guess I thought it was cool, but I wasn’t super into it...”

“Nerd.”

He would have killed for an old man who’d thought to teach him anything, let alone the sweetest shit.

“Guilty,” she laughed. 

“Do...you want to go shooting?” his question was careful and only came after a few moments of her eyeing his collection a little longer.

She blushed a little when she met his eye.

“Honestly? ....kind of.  I actually think that would be fun with you...”

“This is a wet dream come true,” he held a hand over his heart as if faint.

“But,” she inserted before he started actually making plans, “probably a no go.  Part of the reason I don’t like guns is they’re so loud,” she pointed at her ears.

Fuck your sensitive ears,” he slumped in his seat.

Now how is that fantasy getting filled?

“Yeah, I’ll just have to get my gratuitous destruction elsewhere...”

“Arcade?” he offered after a beat.

“What?” she laughed, though she remembered going to an old arcade with him several years ago.

“We’ll play every shooter game they have.  If that’s the closest I can get to see you pulling a trigger, it’ll have to do for the spank bank.”

“A lovely way of putting it...”

“You’re welcome,” he stood from the table and kicked his chair in.

“Wh--now?!”

“Why not?  This can wait; my main babies are already taken care of...”

So much for calm and settled.

“Can I shower first?”

“It’s a dumpy arcade; who are you showing off for?”

Regardless, she fended him off so she could swing (literally) home to eat, clean up a bit, and change her clothes so she at least felt better. He’d had a fair point, though -- this wasn’t a fancy date.

Although, technically...

“The sight of our first date,” Wade announced grandly when they entered that same old arcade.

Back before Weapon X and Francis and all of their shit.  A bit before Vanessa.  Gwen’s dad had even still been alive, then, and she hadn’t embraced her powers in an altruistic way, yet.  So it was fair to say that felt like a whole lifetime ago.

“Super classy...”

“Hey, you put out now, so I obviously did something right!”

She tried to punch his shoulder through his baggy sweatshirt, but he caught her wrist to keep ushering her along.

“Do you still come here a lot?”

“Now and then ...seems a little creepier the older I get...”

But he came often enough to know the layout and dragged her straight to a hunting game.

“We start with Bambi,” he dramatically shoved some quarters in. “Then we graduate to zombies.” 

“That’s adorable of you...”

This wasn’t an equal comparison to their conversation; she was well aware of that.  These guns weren’t heavy or powerful or (to hell with it) sexy in any way, but it was still fun.  They were out and about not worrying about anything in particular, and it was nice.  Wade seemed more chipper even though he had stubbornly brought one of his thin masks to wear under his hood, but no one was paying them any real attention so it wasn’t strange.

It was all incredibly normal.

“Final exam time,” he gave her ass a soft swat after he’d led her to one of the zombie games and offered pointers and critiques about her stance and hold like she was squaring up for a true shooting competition.

He slid more quarters in and grabbed up the other gun for competition, to which Gwen rolled her eyes.  He was a helpful teacher, but not one who would let her win just to build confidence.

Indeed, he didn’t, but he was a surprisingly good sport and didn’t rub his victory in ...too much.

“Whaddya say ...loser buys winner drinks at Sister Margaret’s?” Wade draped a heavy arm around her shoulders when they’d spent all of the quarters they’d brought.

Gwen perked right up; it had been a while since they’d been to see and harass Weasel.  Or, at least, it had been a while since she had.  She was sure Wade was in and out of that place more than he bothered to mention.

Weasel was much less enthusiastic about the visit than they were, for they heckled him in memory of the good ole days.

“I don’t see what was so good about them. We were all dumber and poorer....”

“I was hotter,” Wade pointed out.

“I was more youthful.”

“And I still hated you both,” Weasel slid them drinks and then stomped away.

“It really is like the glory days,” Wade sighed and rolled up his mask so he could work on his beer.

“Not without blow job shots,” Gwen waggled her eyebrows.

“Nah; Weasel refuses to make them anymore.  Too much trouble.”

“Damn ...”

They chattered away at the bar, Weasel sometimes dropping by.  A couple other people Gwen used to rub elbows with there also stopped to make certain she was sure she wanted to continue associating with Wade.

“Yes, Bear; we’re fine,” Wade snapped before Gwen did. “Bye.”

“Don’t gotta be such a dick, Wade...”

“Actually, Dirty Santa, I do; it’s part of my contract.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Gwen broke up the bickering children and grasped Wade’s chin to turn him towards one of the TVs behind the bar. “Look...”

The news was showing some grainy footage of a riot .  Not everything was clear, but it was easy to make out The Avengers.

“Iron Dildo and his Boy Scout are having fun, huh...”

But all of the fighting was very strange. The dim lighting meant that there weren’t a ton of details, but they could see fire, glowing orbs, crackles of what looked like electricity -- was Thor back in town?

“You drunk, Blondie?”

“Nah,” she shrugged.

“Wanna go play?”

At her nod, he jumped up from his seat.

“Weaz, put it on her tab,” he shouted down the bar.  “I gotta get her home; Deadpool needs to play.”

“Yeah, sure...”

Weasel sounded entirely uninterested and didn’t question the explanation while they scurried out of the bar.

“You got something stashed nearby?”

“Yeah,” she considered the spare suits and changes of clothes she had carefully hidden on rooftops nearby.

“Alright.  I’ll tell Weasel I put you in a cab, and I’ll go grab my shit I keep in the back of the bar...”

“Meet you back here,” Gwen agreed and jumped to latch herself on a wall of the alley, then leap to the opposite wall and scurry up it.

She knew she should probably just go meet the Avengers alone or just not go--they hadn’t called for backup, after all.  Bringing Wade along would cause an argument for sure, as well as a possible PR issue. Still.  He was useful, and if he was volunteering to go help out she didn’t want to discourage it.

After she found her supplies a few blocks away, Gwen returned to the alley and scooped up Wade to jaunty off towards the bay.  Upon arriving, it turned out that things had already died down. There was a mess left behind - wasn’t there always one? - but the ruckus and melee had quieted.  War Machine was just taking off to haul a couple captives in.

“Aw, where’s the party?  Did we miss it?” Deadpool shouted when Gwen landed on a postbox and he was able to jump to the sidewalk.  Not fair; I should’ve kept drinking!”

“Pool Boy. Bug Woman,” Tony’s mask retracted so he would glower at the pair.

“You know I’m older than her, right?”

Tony glared at him.

“Point is,” he swung around to the woman, completely ready to change the point.  “If you want to tag along more, we should revisit you moving into the Tower so you can at least be on time.

“Pass.”

“Why?  It’s much better than your hippy lo--”

“What exactly happened here?” Gwen cut him off because she’d long since decided that she wanted to live as normal a life as possible.

Not 100% normal, obviously, but one that fit what she knew.  One she could explain to her friends. She didn’t want high-profile anything if she could help it.

“Started out as a rally,” Steve explained.

“You heard of the Church of Humanity?” Tony checked as he had his suit scan the area for anything dangerous left behind amongst the trash and debris.

“I know of the Friends of Humanity.  They’re a mutant hate group...”

“JARVIS says they’re an offshoot,” the millionaire confirmed. “Kind of a misleading name, don’t you think?”

“Some mutants decided to hold a counter-rally to their hate rhetoric ...but couldn’t keep it peaceful,” Steve explained.  “There were some rumors flying around ahead of time, so JARVIS had things monitored.”

“Safer than having NYPD roped up in this,” Sam reasoned as he came to land near them - he’d been listening in via his comm unit.

“Your flame-throwing friend,” Gwen glanced towards the skyline where  Rhodey had already disappeared towing th fugitives aling in his War Machine armor.  “I recognize him.  He’s a member of the Mutant Brotherhood.”

“Great.”

“Yeah, we’ve heard of them; they’ve been getting more active...” Steve nodded along.

“Where were your X-Men pals?” Tony scowled at Gwen.  “They outta town?  This is the kind of thing we can usually leave to them...”

“They try to avoid the Friends of Humanity when they can,” Gwen shook her head. “The Brotherhood have a different agenda, but The X-Men figure there’s no winning with that group.  Any show of power where they’re involved just proves all the propaganda these hate groups like to spout about dangerous mutants.”

“That’s awfully passive,” Steve mused.

“Oh, I’m sure they’re watching,” Deadpool kicked over some picket signs.

“Like you? So they can drop in too late to be any good?” Tony sneered.

“Leave it,” Steve looked tired and a little unamused. “Maybe we should get in touch with them ...you’re right; some of these same mutants have been on the move a lot lately...”

“Hold on,” Gwen had been watching Wade muck around in the leftover debris and darted forward.

She ruffled through some of the forgotten signs and shitty slogans strewn about.

“Thinking of going political, Spidey?”  Wade watched.

“This...” she pulled out a sign covered in a hand with an “M” spray painted over it.  “I know this...”

She started kicking around signs to look for the mark on anything else.

“What is it?” Sam prodded.

“Shut it, Maltese -- it’s the DaVinci Code,” Wade mock-whispered. “This takes time!”

“Maltese?” that got Gwen’s attention.

“Maltese Falcon; I get it,” Sam conceded. “Kindda lame, though, dude.”

“Oh, alright,”  Wade sung in his suit.  “Next time it’s a Chicken Run reference.”

“Ugh...”

“At least the last one was Bogart,” Tony deigned to piggyback off of Deadpool’s mockery. “Now what’s the deal?  Why are you being a spaz?”

Gwen had already snatched up a bandana the symbol was embroidered on, too. She rubbed her fingers over the thread and then held it up, as if they hadn’t already seen.

“Mutant fight club.”

“Shut. Up!” Wade screeched.  “That’s sweet!  It’s the coolest thing you’ve ever heard, right?” he spun in a slow circle to make sure the others were in agreement.

“...I really want to disagree, but...” Tony sounded conflicted.

“Let me guess; it’s super ominous, though.”

Nothing really phased Sam these days, but he also wasn’t super optimistic about a name like that.  He’d learned to tamper optimism when it came to his current line of work.

“Not always ominous, really.  I mena, sometimes, but it was sort of started as just an in-group hobby.  I used to fight there when I needed cash...”

Wade whipped around then, head cocked.

“You’ve been holding out on me?”

“I said used to.  Back before....” she waved her hand at her suit.

“Ya!  I knew you back before--” he waved his hands at her, too, but allowed his hands to pretend they were tracing overly-generous curves.

“Yeah, well I didn’t broadcast my money woes around Sister Margaret’s” - she ignored his responding pout. “Anyway, it’s kind of an underground fighting ring.  I’d compare it to UFC except, you know ...all powers allowed.”

“That would make so much money if it went mainstream...” Tony’s eyes were a little wide even though he knew he ought to be more disapproving or maybe disgusted.

“Gotta be Twilight Zone if Bumblebee and I are agreeing...”

“That’s kind of opposite of the whole point: hiding and embracing being outcasts,” Gwen rolled her eyes behind her mask. “It’s all mutant all the time ...a subversive little club for betting and kind of a meet-up place for anything mutants want to keep under wraps. Or meta-humans, I guess,” she pointed to herself. “They don’t ask a ton of questions as long as you have something special going on...”

“So they must’ve been rallying support for this counter-protest at one of these Karate clubs,” Tony sighed because even if this sounded super awesome he’d really rather people just learn to chill.

“Cobra Kai, ammi right?” Wade reached for a high-five off of Iron Man.

He was ignored.

“I’d get you, but you called me a Chicken, so...” Sam wasn’t so sorry.

Unperturbed, Deadpool simply high-fived himself.

“So we raid one of these fights?” Steve proposed.

“Sounds arduous...SHIELD might go for it, though,” Tony was a little more well thought-out.  “Probably a lot of wanted mutants hanging in a place like that.”

“Whoa, whoa ...guys,” Gwen waved an arm to regain their complete attention. “No way. A lot of people there are just looking for a way to get by.  I mean ...I’m not saying there isn’t criminal activity there, and it’s a rough crowd, but what you’re talking about is dangerous.”

Everyone shared shifty looks.

“Things are already getting dangerous,” Steve was the first to plow ahead.  “Whatever it is they want, they’re getting bolder.  This is a park; the fighting spilled-out here.  People really could have gotten hurt...”

Gwen chewed on her lip to think even though she knew the others couldn’t see it.  Maybe she shouldn’t have even said anything at all.

The fights were seedy, no doubt about that, but she hadn’t been the only one there desperate to just earn her winnings and get out.  Maybe it wasn’t right by everyday standards.  After all, it certainly wasn’t somewhere she’d revisited just for grins and giggles, and she didn’t usually talk about it. However, the place did serve a purpose; it gave some people who couldn’t get hired at a descent job a way to earn money.

“Just....cool it,” she raised a white-gloved hand.  “I’ll go check it out.”

“I don’t know about that...”

Steve was shaking his perfect blonde head, and Gwen sort of wanted to tell him to shove it.  Maybe Deadpool was rubbing off on her because she was feeling a little salty that he got a say in this. It wasn’t his fault, but Steve had been lauded for his powers rather than subjugated.  She hadn’t experienced exile for hers either since she could hide in plain sight, she knew that, but she at least had met and come to understand those who weren’t so lucky. 

“I’m going to do it anyway.”

“Wooooweeee, yeah you did,” Wade was bobbing his head.  “We’re going to fight club!” he went to her for a high-five that time.

But Gwen hesitated. 

“....I dunno...”

“What!  C’mon, all these douche nozzles are too high profile,” he pointed at the other three men in turn, “or have no powers without their armor and tricks. Me,” he pointed both index fingers at himself.  “Hi.  I’m the obvious choice of sidekick.  I’ll follow your lead - it’ll be totally cool.”

“...we’ll talk about it.”

He sputtered.

“Did you have someone else in mind?”

“...well, I know someone in Hell’s Kitchen who’s familiar with the scene...”

“The Punisher?” Sam straightened right the hell up.  “I know that guys a little off the rails, but, damn, I do want to meet him...”

A fellow vet.  Of course.

“No...I only know him by reputation.  Plus he’d probably make a mess of the place...”

“Are you running with Daredevil, too?” Tony threw up his armored hands.  “I need to keep closer tabs on you...”

“Him I have met,” Gwen happily admitted, “but no. Cool girl, she runs a PI business now. Super strong; can’t bleed...”

“Jones!?” Wade was screeching again. “Jones is a PI now?  I thought she died...”

“You stay in touch with the wrong people. Buck. Weasel.  All super boring,” Gwen laughed at his expense.

“Fuckin’ A right...” Wade punched himself in the head.  “God dammit.”

“Can you keep doing that until your knock yourself out?” Tony hoped aloud.  “Or is that basically just a one time thing?”

“Oh, I got somethin’ for ya...”

Wade unsheathed one of his ballistic knives, spun it, and stabbed himself in the temple before anyone could even react to a weapon bring drawn.

“Wade!” Gwen jumped despite everything she knew.

“Aw hell,” Sam was easily as disgusted but a little more refined. 

Tony and Steve had more silent reactions but still looked as displeased.  Wade, meanwhile, garbled something intelligible and dropped heavily to his knees.  He raised a hand, likely to grab for the blade, but didn’t actually lift it more than a foot or so since some crucial part of his brain was apparently now on the fritz.

Gwen reached for it but hesitated, more than a little alarmed even though she wanted to help.  While she was schooling herself to just do it already, Steve strode forward. He braced Wade’s head with one hand while he yanked the knife clear with the other.

“Really, Wilson?”

“What, would you rather I use a Ka-Bar? You were all getting super annoying...”

He stumbled once but then shoved himself to standing.

“Annoying?” Gwen punched his arm.

“Ow, why are you picking on the sick and feeble?” he was already laughing.

“Definitely sick,” Steve agreed and gave the knife a little flick so he could toss it and catch it by the blade to hand back to the other man.

“Jesus ...so where were we?”

“I’m going to snoop around the fight scene and see what’s what; I’ll let you guys know,” Gwen quickly summarized.

“Now, look...” Tony huffed.

“No, we definitely decided,” Gwen cut off whatever other arguments the genius was formulating. “C’mon,” she jerked her thumb at Wade.  “But I should make you walk.”

Unperturbed, Wade was happy to follow her.

“Okay, we’ll just twiddle our thumbs in the meantime, then?  ....okay.  Great,” Tony shouted after them.

“Stay in touch,” Steve added.

“I’ll see you soon,” Gwen promised, and she and Wade drew away together to get closer to some buildings so she could take them home.

Which she did.

Silently.

“I can’t believe you,” she shoved him into his own living room through the balcony door.

“What?” he was laughing.  “I had fun!”

“Stabbing yourself?”

“Aw, come on.  Every now and then you have to remind people you’re stronger than them and can’t die.  Besides, I’m already fine; you know me, Gwen,” he headed for the fridge. “...Gwen?”

She wasn’t bailing, but she wasn’t joining him either.  She just removed her mask and lingered by the door.

“...just don’t do it again.”

“What?”

“Stab yourself in the head in front of me! I know you’re healed; I know you’ve been through worse,” - hell she’d seen worse happen to him. “You just ....did it so easy, like some party trick.  But it scared me...”

“C’mon,” he snorted.  “It kind of is a party trick at this point.”

“Are you even listening?”

She looked sad and he didn’t want her to.

“I am, but ...how is it any different than you leaping of roofs with a smile?”

“Because I don’t get hurt,” she told him like it was obvious.

He supposed it was if you weren’t him.

“Pain is sort of a non-issue for me these days...”

She knew that.  She’d heard the stories of him dislocating his shoulders on purpose to get out of a bind or falling great distances if needed because his legs would heal right up, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead had told her numerous times about him cutting his own hand off just to ditch her and Colossus. The list truly went on.

It was just that this had been so pointless, and still he hadn’t hesitated.  It made her think of the blood behind the nearby poster of dogs playing poker, which he had recently crafted into dinosaurs playing poker - recently, after she’d let him play Words with Friends against Sam for a while on her phone, it had been Sam and a bunch of exotic birds playing poker

She didn’t give herself away by looking at the poster, though.  She shouldn’t even be worried about it; she should be able to laugh at this like she’d come to be able to regarding his other antics around the Avengers.

But this made her squirm.

“I know that,” she finally responded.

“... ...should I still refrain from a repeat?”

“Yes,” her sigh sounded relieved.  “Please.”

“You got it, Spider Babe ... ...although, if someone else stabs me, will you pull the knife out?  I was kind of banking on you helping me if I couldn’t get it, not Hercules.  Now I kindda feel like I owe him,” he glanced at the poster over her shoulder.  

She fully expected a photo of Steve to be taped onto one of the heads next.

“I promise ... ...not today, though.  I’ll catch you later...”

“Hooo, wait --what?” Wade abandoned his renewed search of the refrigerator.  “I was thinking snacks and then I let you rock my world.  We didn’t get to burn off any energy at that super cool Super Club meet-up.  I’m ready to go.”

“I have a lot of work I wanted to get done today,” she glanced at her watch. “I need to at least do some of it before patrol.”

“Feck ...whoa!” he started-in again when she took another step for the door. “You aren’t actually leaving until we hash-out this Fight Club business. All that talk about not taking me was just horse shit, right? An act for your Other Friends?”

“I don’t know, Wade,” her shoulders slumped lazily.

He just blinked sheepishly at her.

“You don’t exactly do great with ...well, thinking I’m in trouble.”

Well, okay, that was perfectly true.

Doesn’t matter.  Gotta get in on this.

“Hold up ...are you planning on this being dangerous? Are you expecting trouble?”

Definitely going even if she forbids it.

“No.  It’s just ...not a warm and fuzzy place...”

“Perfect!  I’m not a warm and fuzzy person.”

Spidey notwithstanding.

“Plus, Jessica’s been there before...”

“And what the ever-living fuck is up with the new love affair with Jessica Jones?” he was a little annoyed and a little  jealous - maybe he needed a super power brat pack, too.  “Are you two celebrating Wine Wednesdays behind my back? Cuz I want in on that, homegirl.”

Gwen couldn’t quite picture the other woman sitting on a patio sipping wine, so she had to chuckle.

“No, I haven’t even seen her in quite a while; I just know she’d go and she’d have my back...”

Wade waved his arms around wildly and then jutted his fingers at himself in clear “Me Too!” fashion.

“I meant it; I’ll follow your lead,” Wade came to mock-attention and threw her a salute.

“...I’ll think about it.   I have to ask around a bit first anyway.”

“Fine.  Good enough ...I’m totally writing about this betrayal in my diary, though...”

Gwen paused and made a mental note to poke around and see if Wade actually had a diary hidden somewhere the next time he was in the shower when she stayed over.  Not that she would read it.  It would just be interesting to know if he really kept one.  It would probably be pretty nonsensical rants or jokes anyway ....not that she would read it.

“Night, Wade.”

“Yeah, yeah...”

He started digging around his refrigerator with more gusto than strictly necessary, so she took her leave.  He could burn off his restless energy on his own, and she had a lot of thinking to do.


 

A few days later, Wade woke from a surprisingly peaceful, if routinely brief, sleep in the wee hours of the morning. He stared blearily a the TV for a bit to figure out what was playing - ‘Hard to Kill’ ...random, but all right.

I relate to you there, Stevie.

By the time he stumbled to the bathroom, pissed, and brushed his stanking teeth, he felt much better and ready for ...French Toast? Pancakes? Stale cereal?

He scratched his stomach absentmindedly as he mentally scrolled through the possibilities. He could just go out, too, and he did always love the idea of not having to clean up after himself.  Then again, that required being fully clothed... 

Hmmm...

He was in the kitchen with a carton of orange juice in hand when he recognized the sound of someone else breathing in the room.  Without second-guessing himself, he snatched a paring knife off of the counter and whirled, ready to throw it. 

Thank fuck he recognized the chunk of blonde hair resting on the arm of his couch. 

“Shit,” he wheezed and set the small blade back down while he shoved away the mental image of having impaled Gwen on a kitchen utensil. 

Stark would go ballistic.

Any any rapport with Sammy would be right out the window.

That guy was cool but probably not that understanding. Then again, maybe Spiders didn’t sneak into his house...

Wade stalked over to his couch and looked over the back where, sure enough, Gwen was curled up and dead to the world.  Not that she didn’t deserve it, but that girl could sleep.

Jealous.

Was her hair damp? Did it rain last night?

He glanced at his patio but reached out to poke Gwen’s forehead rather than go take a real look outdoors.  Her eyes popped open as soon as he’d made the lightest touch, but he rubbed his finger into the spot anyway until she brushed it away with a sleepy “hi...”

“Morning, Sweetie Bear ...whattcha doin’?” he leaned over the back of the couch to gaze down at her.

“I was sleeping,” she shifted and reached for a blanket before realizing there wasn’t one.

“And may I ask why?”

“Same reason everybody sleeps,” she sat up some more but kept her legs pulled to her chest.

Wade sighed, put-upon like he was the one being woken unceremoniously.

“Did you get hit in the head last night and forget the layout of my apartment?  Bedrooms that way,” he jerked his thumb over his shoulder.

Gwen just nodded.

“Hit in the head?  Yes.  Forgot your apartment?  No.  You were sleeping, and I didn’t want to wake you up,” she explained, rubbing at her eyes.

“You were ...what?” he blinked, having gotten more of a story than he’d expected. “First of all, fuck it: always wake me up.”

“You don’t sleep enough...”

“Second of all: who the hell hit you in the dome?  You’re alright, right?”

Okay, he probably should have asked that first just for courtesy’s reasons.

“Mmhmm...”

Her eyes were still hooded, voice groggy.

“Wanna be more convincing?”

She perked up a bit to look round and meet his eye.

“Just from a scuffle breaking up a robbery; I got dinged in the head ...I was a little dizzy is all,” she scrubbed at her eyes again.

“Christ...how long were you able to sleep, Gwen?” he was well-ware that it was rich of him to be the one to question someone’s else’s sleeping, but she needed it more than him.

“Time’s it?”

“Five ...thirty.  Almost.”

“I guess a couple hours ...can I have some of that?” she finally spotted the carton of OJ still in his hand.

He grumbled but handed it over.  Gwen gave it a small shake, and upon hearing there wasn’t a whole lot left gave him a hopeful look.

“Go on; drink me out of house and home,” he waved at her to proceed.

She chugged it.  She was probably hungry, too, but seeing as she was still a little groggy she probably wasn’t looking to take care of that just yet.  Sleep was probably first on the docket. 

“...did it rain last night?” he brushed the ends of her damp hair.

“No; I took a shower” -damn he’d really slept through her having the run of the place - “to get the blood out of my hair.”

“Wait.  What the shit?  You were bleeding?” this was enough of a rare event that his hands swiftly descended onto her head and into her hair to examine her scalp.

Helpfully, Gwen tilted her head appropriately and pointed to the space over her ear. 

“It should already be healed up...”

Wade raked a hand through her hair feeling very much like a mother chimpanzee with her baby.  He didn’t so much mind the comparison, though; monkeys were alright in his book even with the poop-slinging thing.  Hell, especially for the poop-slinging thing.

“Alright, yeah; looks like it ...little off your game tonight, huh?”

“Leave me alone,” a yawn almost broke up her order.

“Yup. C’mon; up we go,” he reached over the couch to gather her up and haul her down the hall. “Real stupid not waking me up, Stacy...”

He dropped her onto the bed a little more abruptly than was strictly polite, but Gwen didn’t voice a protest and just crawled to the far side to squirrel her way under a blanket.

“It wasn’t stupid,” she defended herself. “You looked really peaceful...”

Wade visibly twitched.  Peaceful was not a word general associated with him, so he wasn’t sure exactly what he was supposed to say. 

Refute it?  But it sounded nice...

Laugh at her? But she looks so cozy and earnest.

Ignore it? Perfect.

“Well you have blanket permission to wake me up next time,” he pointed a stern finger at her.

So there’s gonna be a next time?

Probably...

Better be.

“M’kay,” he wasn’t convinced by her agreement. “Gonna join?” she crooked a finger at him.

He was still hungry, but her finger was cute.

Sappy. As. Hell.

But he didn’t mind, so, even though she was clearly just going to sleep and not reach down his pants, he hooked his fingers around hers and let her give him a gentle tug. He climbed onto the bed on his knees and then shifted to flop straight onto his back.  She moved right into his side.  Maybe it should’ve been disconcerting how easily they both let that happen ...but - fuck that- it wasn’t.  At all.

“G?”

“Uh-huh?”

“Why didn’t you just go home if you were only going to crash on the couch?” he dared because she was sleepy so maybe she’d say something good...

He wanted her to say it.

Say it.

“I like it here.”

Fuck yeah.

“I didn’t feel good so I wanted to come over, but since you were looking all precious the couch was fine...”

Precious? Pffff.

“Didn’t feel good?” he frowned, not remembering her complaining of illness in recent memory. “Look, are you actually concussed?  Is that possible?” he leaned back from her.

“Not sick, just ...it was a weird night...”

“Gonna have to elaborate on that, Blondie.”

Early hours are fine for killing hours.

“Can we later?” she began tracing along the ridges of muscle in his torso. “I promise everything’s fine.”

He tutted but nodded his acquiescence.

“Besides, we should be talking about how you fell asleep watching ‘Titanic’,” Gwen smiled, eyes still closed. “It was still playing when I got here...”

“Hope you’re not trying to shame me for that.  I’m so down with anything Celine Dion is a part of.”

“Seriously?” she peeked an eye open.

“Canada, baby!” he thumped a fist on his chest in solidarity.

Gwen huffed a small laugh but just turned her face into his side.  He began humming ‘My Heart Will Go On,’ which she chose to ignore since if she filed a noise complaint he might just get louder.  Besides, it was kind of soothing the way the sound purred through his chest.

 

When Gwen woke again, she was still in bed but was now wrapped around Wade’s waist and he was wearing soft sweatpants.  He was sitting up in bed and the TV was playing.  Funny how a soft knock on the window would have woken her immediately but he’d been able to come and go from the bed without waking her.  It wasn’t exactly surprising; she didn’t always notice him get up in the night when he gave up on sleep, and he could peacefully rouse her without a scare.  This time he’d clearly even rearranged her without startling her.

That made her feel oddly vulnerable but also ...warm.

She curled the arm he’d draped around his waist a little tighter, and he dropped a hand down to rake through her hair slowly but said nothing.  Maybe he suspected she was still asleep.  Maybe she did want more sleep...

But then she eyed the slice and a half of pizza plated on the stand next to the bed. Hunger replaced fatigue, so she snatched it up.

“First you trespass, now you steal...”

The pizza was colder than natural in her hand so she knew it must be leftovers he’d chosen not to re-heat.  She grinned, for they shared a fondness for cold pizza.

“Sorry,” she told him around a mouthful even though it wasn’t true. “Mm, now this is pizza...”

Pepperoni, bacon, and peppers.  Better than fruit.

“And I’ll be a plate for you, too, no problem,” he continued when some crumbs fell from her mouth onto his pants.

Gwen kissed the crumbs back up and then pushed herself up to sit properly.

“Better?”

“Well, you could’ve kept going with your mouth,” he could always find a complaint. “But sure.”

She was a little sorry to see he was wearing one of his thin masks, but it was rolled up to allow him to eat so she leaned in and gave him a kiss.

“Thanks for letting me sleep.”

“Sure.”

He shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal.  It felt like one, but Gwen didn’t say so.

“Whattcha watching?” 

She turned to sit shoulder to shoulder with him and figure out what was playing.

“007 marathon...”

“Nice”

“Eh, I like Connery better...”

They watched quietly for a little while, and when Gwen finished her pilfered slice of pizza Wade offered her the one he’d started eating.

“...is there more?” she glanced at the empty plate.

“Yup”

She let him keep his piece and stood up to hop over him to the floor.  She made a pitstop in the bathroom, but when she got to the kitchen she saw Wade already there with an open pizza box divvying up what was left onto two plates.

“You wanna be weird and have pizza with coffee?  Or is Coke good?”

“...as long as you don’t actually mean cocaine,” she clarified because one always should.

He chuckled but pulled a few sodas from the fridge.

“Thanks,” she climbed onto one of the stools at the counter where he’d placed the food.

While she cracked open her drink, she watched him contemplate his food and then pull a third plate from the cupboard.  He then split up his slices and microwaved half of them. To each their own.  She devoured a slice of her own cold pizza.

“So how come last night was weird?”

Of course he had not forgotten that she promised to elaborate.  He’d allowed her to fill her stomach a little more, but now he was lounged back against the counter with a plate in hand and eyes trained on her.

“Nothing bad happened,” she assured him again.  “At least, ya know ...nothing really abnormal,” because crime and people hurting people was bad even if it was to be expected.  “I just took time to poke around about, ya know, the fights.  Called a few people.”

“Piss somebody off?”

“Nah ...just ...it was strange.  I mean, I get what Steve meant, yeah?  It’s skeevy, so just break the whole thing up,” she glanced at Wade and then back down to pick at a pepperoni in her pizza. “Like, I know I should think that way too...”

She was using more qualifiers and pausesthan natural, so Wade gave her time to puzzle-out what she wanted to say.  He didn’t interrupt, just munched on his slice of cheesey goodness.

“Look, about you coming with me...”

Fuck. Gave her too much time.

“I’m not trying to be a bitch,” she went on before he could interject in his own defense. “I ...it’s just that when I used to go there...” she bit down hard on her lip and frowned to herself.

“Did you have an even sexier fight costume?  Are you embarrassed?”  he threw her a reason to get annoyed.

If she grabbed at it, maybe she’d get out of her head.

She did roll her eyes at him.

“No,” she slid her food away. “That’s just not a time of my life I’m really proud of...”

At least when she looked back at her time picking-up at work Sister Margaret’s, she could consider it the start of her crime-fighting career because she tried to be selective about who she would and wouldn’t rough up.  At least she’d made friends and there had been a protective, if kind of fucked up, mutual understanding around the place.   

The fighting always felt grimier and more desperate.  The people there weren’t all bad, but it had never been relaxed or fun.  She’d gone for the money, let out some anger, and then usually scurried her little ass out of there. Gwen had done okay and knew she’d felt some dark pride at times, but she was happy not to have to rely on that quick cash anymore.

“I know,” Wade’s was closer when she looked up, and he nudged her plate back toward her. “I’ve picked up on how you feel about a lot of your time between spider bite and Spider-woman.”

“Sister Margaret’s is different,” she blurted, trying to explain.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s a magical place,” his scarred lips twisted upwards in a smirk. “I’m not gonna lie, Blondie ...I wanna see mutant UFC fighting like nobody’s business.  Wings, fire, all of it,” he supposed there was no point in lying, and she did chuckle with him. “But if you’re this anxious about getting back inside this place, then I don’t want you to go alone ...or with Jones, because what the fuck does she know?”

She looked thoughtful.

“I’m just gonna stalk your pretty ass there and stake the place out anyway,” he confessed his decision.

Gwen snorted.

“Just because I’m anxious doesn’t mean I can’t do it...”

That was a little sassy, but she did pick her pizza back up .

“Hey, I get it: who runs the world?  Girls  ...I know Beyonce’s lessons,” he assured her with ‘boop’ to her nose.  “I just wanna be your back up.”

“....alright.”

“I can go?”

“I’m afraid I’ll regret it, but yeah...”

“Woooo,” he set his plate down to beat his chest like Tarzan. “Think they’ll let me fight?  Can I fight?”

“Please no,” she chomped a large bite.  “And no Deadpool, either - just Wade.  No guns or knives.”

“Lotta fuckin’ rules for underground boy scouts.”

“...I’m going to have to reserve the right to change my mind about this,” Gwen frowned and wondered if she should just call Jessica now.

“Nope, you already said it.  It’s out in the world now, sister, and it’s my reality...”

“Sister, huh?”

“Well ....step-sister,” was his only amendment.  “Oh!  I forgot --”

He dropped his plate back onto the counter with a small ‘clank’ and strode off.  Sure that he would return, Gwen wasn’t alarmed.

“Here,” a moment later he reappeared and threw a shopping bag to her.

“Gifts?” Gwen caught it easily and dug into it. “What’s this?” she blinked at the item.

She wasn’t an idiot so she knew what they were...

“Best ear protection I could find,” he told her around a fresh bite of pizza.

“Wow...” she poked the thick padding of the tactical earmuffs.

“I’ll take you to arcades all day, but if you wanna go make your old man proud ...we can take ‘em and see if they’re strong enough,” he offered once he forced down his mouthful of food..

She blinked at them a few more times.

“It’s never a straight line with you, is it?”

“Nah ... ...now, eat up, Buttercup.  ‘Dr. No’ is on next,” he pointed back down the hall.

Chapter Text

Rarely did Wade Wilson every truly change his mind.   He usually decided on a thing and did it -- no regrets.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

But this damn place ...wooo, mama, he had a lot of thoughts about underground Mutant fighting.

He’d followed Gwen to the subway platform in the late hours of the night and hopped down near the tracks to quickly follow along them to the covert entrance.   A narrow walkway had sloped down and zig-zagged a few times before opening up into a shockingly large, wide open area.  They were a little late, as planned, and a fight was already raging in the barred cage in the middle of the room.

“It looks different,” she’d eyed the ring a short while.

“Still cool with me wandering off?”

She’d nodded and cast him a glance, receiving a reassuring wink from him in return.  Then he’d been the one to move away just in case she was still reeling a bit.

He was keeping an eye on her, of course, but from a distance.  He’d protested to that factor at first -- distance -- but she needed to find a few old acquaintances and didn’t want to have to explain a companion and deflect any suspicion he might rouse. Begrudgingly, that was a fair point.  So he was keeping her blonde head on his radar but was otherwise entertaining himself.

Are you not entertained?!?!

Oh, he was entertained all right. No weapons were allowed here, but some of the fighters were born with their own weapons built straight into their bodies.

It was baller.

And, then again, he hated the idea of Gwen fighting here.  Hated to think of the fresh, long haired girl he’d known those years ago leaving Sister Margaret’s and coming here.  It stank of stale sweat and blood, and he didn’t want to wonder if her blood had stained the floors here once.  She shouldn’t have had to do that, and fuck he kind of wanted to rip the faces off of everyone running the place.

On the other hand, he was actually sort of loving it.  He had always thrived a bit on chaos, and the energy there was something he felt attuned to somewhere down in his soul. Plus, Gwen had been right when she promised he wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb without a mask.  He saw scales and feathers and off colored eyes all in his first few minutes of browsing, so he’d let his hood fall away without much thought. That was a freedom he didn’t often feel, so he let himself bask in it like this was the perfect place for him.

Not Gwen Stacy, though.

His eyes bounced around and located her several yards from where he’d left her, twisting her shoulders to snake through a cheering group of people.  She was good.

He didn’t want Gwen to belong here.  She belonged up in Stark’s sparkly tower doing fancy shit and having someone make lattes for her; that was better for her than this place.

But him? Fuck it, he was going to enjoy it while he was there.

And he did.

He continued to dutifully clock Gwen’s location, but he also cheered on some of the fighters who seemed really into it, who were trying to hype the crowd to their side.  He was offered bets, but that he did decline.

“What?  No cash?  You need in?” an older man with goddamn gills and wad of cash eyed him up and down.  “Got some fight in you?”

“Oh, I’ve got plenty of fight,” he wasn’t going to back down on that point.  “But I’m just watching -- no swapping money.  Promised the old ball-and-chain.”

“Ah, fuck her”

“I will, don’t you worry,” the leer was for show and then he studied the crowd for a check-in.

Gwen was watching the current fight and leaned in to a tall woman next to her to talk.

The portly man laughed and clapped Wade on the shoulder cheerfully.  They were either friends now, or Wade hated him -- he wasn’t sure.

Love. Hate. Love. Hate.  What is this place?

Gwen’s feelings were decidedly a little more negative.  The layout may have changed there, but the energy was the same.  A little too loud, a little too hectic ...everything was just too much. She wasn’t even there to fight, but she still felt anxious.

She tried to keep an eye out for Wade, though it was very strange to be checking the crowd for his bald head rather than his customary mask. For once he seemed incredibly serious about how he would toe the line and keep out of the trouble there, so she wasn’t actually worried about him getting into something or making a scene.  She just wanted to check in and anchor herself to something reliable.  Because so many of the faces there were new and therefore suspicious

She’d even started wondering if anyone she considered helpful would still be there.  Then she would have to admit failure and Tony might send SHIELD in, and she would be sorry for that even though she wasn’t sweet on the place herself.   Some mutants couldn’t get jobs, some couldn’t even lease a real place to live, and some got ran off or the shit beat out of them any time they showed their faces in “regular” society.   If society wouldn’t change -- and legislation the Senate was currently trying to pass suggested that it wasn’t going to any time soon -- then some people needed places like this.  

So she was desperate to find the faces she knew ...and finally she did.  First, unfortunately, it was Toad, who lived up to his name and who had nearly choked her out in the ring with his long, slimy tongue once.

“Hi there,” he’d smirked.

Yes, he definitely remembered her.  She wanted to punch him --she was a better fighter now than she was before -- but it was just as well she didn’t since he eventually pointed her in a much better direction.

Amelia.

Gwen had coexisted there with the tall brunette on fairly friendly terms.  Partially because Gwen had never wanted to make waves there if she didn’t have to,  and partially because Amelia liked any female fighter who showed up and could hold her own. Gwen could appreciate that, so she didn’t mind looking Amelia up again, as it were. 

It also didn’t hurt that the woman was well connected.

“Maxine,” the woman’s pale face split into a smile when Gwen found her from Toad’s advice.

Gwen had always used her middle name here, which she’d made sure Wade was well aware of.  She’d made him repeat it a few times on the way over, though he happily told her he’d probably stick to pet names.

“You’ve come back to us...”

The only downside was that Amelia was a little odd.

“For the moment,” she nodded agreeably anyway. “This place hasn’t changed...”

“Hasn’t it?” a thin eyebrow raised.

“Has it?” Gwen asked right back.

She didn’t so much want to be the first person providing information or telling stories.  She might not be as adapt at games as the older woman, but she was smart enough to hang in there.

So they talked about something and nothing, some people and no one in particular. Amelia was under the impression that the small blonde was back in town and looking to get back into some fights.  This was untrue, of course, but Gwen wasn’t going to correct her.

While Amelia shared some information about the freshest fighters in the rotation, Gwen surveyed the space again for Wade. She found him on the other side of the fighting cage speaking to a man who may very well have been wider than he was tall. 

He was fine ...they were going to be fine.

She continued her conversation with Amelia, asking after a couple people she’d been ....well, not friends with, but congenial with. Wade was doing fine.  She knew he could be “professional.”  She never should have insinuated that she couldn’t bring him; maybe she’d been more worried about herself. She wasn’t wrong that he was sensitive to the possibility of her being in danger, but he was also a strong ally.  She shouldn’t have denied it.

She probably owed him an apology...

“...and Pyro’s been arrested, of course. “

Gwen latched onto these words and turned her full physical attention to Amelia.  Finally.

“What?  ...who could even hold him?

“Don’t you watch the news?” the other woman’s laugh was a little condescending but Gwen pretended not to notice.

“I try not to these days.”

“My young Maxine ...just because the media is against us doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge from time to time,” she explain imperiously.  “The saintly Avengers involved themselves in a skirmish ...

“Wait I did hear about that...” the blonde blinked in surprise. “Some Church of Humanity bullshit, right?”

“Indeed ...it was bad luck for our friend that Captain American and some of his friends are impervious to his brand of fighting. Anyone else and, well, you know...”

Indeed.  Gwen had hidden a burn or two from him herself. 

“Wow... why did he even bother going?  The Church is always  up to something; that’s pretty high profile...”

“You’ve been gone a long time...”

She was definitely condescending, then, but Gwen had already fed her some nonsense about having been out in Chicago, so surely Amelia wasn’t actually upset she didn’t know the latest local news.

“Guess I missed some things...”

“Hmmm...”

They fell quiet a while to watch the current fight between a teleporting mutant vs. one with superhuman speed. This was definitely the kind of thing Stark had been picturing when he’d heard ‘Mutant Fight Club,’ and Gwen momentarily wished she could record it for him.

But she had to focus.

She scoured the crowd, spotted Wade relocating to a new vantage point, and focused on Amelia again.

“You’re extra mysterious tonight,” she smirked.

“Just pleased to see an old friend.”

‘Friend’ was enough of a stretch that Gwen backed off.  She didn’t want to push too much or look too eager.  Eventually, though, Amelia did go on about the current political climate riling-up some of the usual patrons.

Gwen expressed her understanding.  She then recited a few choice ideas about the Church of Humanity that she truly did believe, and the woman laughed.

“You should meet someone...”

Without elaborating, Amelia faded away in a cloud of purple mist. Gwen knew that she could move around that way, but it didn’t make it feel any less ominous that someone could disintegrate and reappear at will. Yes, Amelia may be an admirable feminist, but she was also creepy as hell.

Left to her own devices, Gwen turned to the fighting cage. Any ill-will aside, it was an objectively fascinating sight to see. She tried not to let awe take over though, preferring to remain focused; she tried to think of how she would react against the powers and fighting style. This let her get pulled in but helped her not get too caught up in the crowd’s energy and make her any more on-edge than she already was.

She scanned the crowd again for Wade but, surprisingly enough, couldn’t spot him.

“Any good memories, Baby Girl?”

The presence at her back stopped her from doing a second visual sweep.

“Not really,” she twisted so she could see him properly in his jeans and sweatshirt.  “You good?”

“Course I am. I think I made a new friend,” he screwed up his face confusedly.

“That shouldn’t surprise me...”

“Where’s your girlfriend?  She was kindda sexy in a cougar way...”

Wade braced himself playfully for a blow that never game.  Gwen was too busy looking around.

“She went to look for someone,” she gave an honest reply to his half-joke of a question.

“You alright?”

She turned to look at him fully, then, and was chewing on her bottom lip.

“I don’t like it here,” she shared, and he nodded because he’d never expected her to after what she’d had to say about it. “I... have a bad feeling...”

His back straightened at that and he rued letting himself get distracted from time to time that night.  Had he missed something? Had he not checked-in on her enough?

“We gotta go?”

Because the game plan was definitely not to make a scene here.  Still, his fingers itched for weapons.

Don’t need ‘em.  Aint’ the only way to defend and kill.

“No, I just...” she paused and he watched her shake out her shoulders like there was something physically there. “It just doesn’t feel right...like...I’m not sure what...”

It sounded like the admission cost her something to say aloud.  She’d mentally prepared for this, after all, and he knew she must feel responsible for both of them.  It wasn’t fair that her subconscious wouldn’t fully let her in on whatever it was feeling.

Wade reached out and slid his hand under her hair to grasp the back of her neck, squeezing firm.

Gwen let her eyes fall shut momentarily and tried to relax for the first time since entering.  Wade was there; she could stand one moment of not being vigilant.  The contact was calming, and he kneaded the back of her neck like he was trying to directly calm her Spidey-sense.  Had she ever actually mentioned to him that’s where a chill set in, sending a tingle along her spine when something was wrong?  She must have.

She blinked her eyes back open and gave Wade the smallest of smiles in thanks. She still felt uneasy, but she also felt a little more centered.

“So you’re good to stay?”

Gwen nodded but stepped further towards him, pressing her neck just a little more into his hand.  He gave her a rough squeeze to let her know he took the hint.  Then he continued to massage there even as they both let their attention fall onto the fight everyone around them was cheering for.

“Do you like it?” she asked.

“Some of it,” he supposed there was no use in lying; she would never believe a flat refusal in a place like this. “I met a dude with gills; hard to top that...”

The roar of the crowd swelled, so he felt more than heard her chuckle at his last statement.  Still, though, her eyes studied the  throng of people around them.  He wasn’t sure if it was her general unease or if she was searching for someone in particular, so Wade remained alert.  He knew her subconscious sense of something coming was often non-specific, but he currently wished she had some straight-up telepathy.

“Maybe you should--”

Wade had known he was about to be dismissed, but then they both started as a plume of purple smoke appeared before them. He let his hand fall from her neck but didn’t remove himself from her side.

Her friend was back.

“And who’s this?” the tall woman had appeared facing them, so there was the chance she’d already seen Wade touching the blonde.

“He’s...an old acquaintance....” Gwen looked his way with a small smirk and blush, both of which she acted like she was trying to hide.

He’d never thought of her as a great liar, but she was a descent actress.

“Guilty,” he smirked.

“Hmm...” he found himself slowly surveyed by the lady. “He’s new...”

“This wasn’t my only haunt back when I lived here,” Gwen simpered.

“I remember ... ...would he like to fight?”

“You know,” the mercenary sighed loftily.  “I thought I would want to when she told me what this place was, but seeing this,” he nodded at the cage, where the teleporting mutant was somehow now making mincemeat of the super-speed man, “I think it’s all too rich for my blood.”

It was killing him to say that. Because he could totally handle it, and it would be totally awesome.  People were inviting him - practically daring him, really - to get in on the action.

“Too bad,” the woman seemed to sour on him a little. “Maxine always proved formidable,” she turned back to the younger woman. “I’ll have to make introductions another time, I’m afraid ...my friend hasn’t attended tonight.”

“Oh,” Gwen hoped she looked suitably disappointed but not truly perturbed. “Next time?”

“I surely hope so ... ...enjoy your acquaintance...”

She skipped the theatrics when she left this time, simply walking away through the crowd rather than disappearing into thin air like some cheesy ninja.

“She’s a real gem.”

“I thought she was a sexy cougar.”

“Yeah, well, compliment rescinded,” Wade complained.  “You ready to skip-out?”

“Not so fast ...we can wait a bit...” Gwen decided.

She didn’t want Amelia to see her leaving so quickly after her conversation like she’d been looking for exactly what the older woman had tried to procure. Plus, Wade had admitted he was having a little fun, so there was no need to cut it short.  Something she couldn’t place still felt off there, but that didn’t mean they needed to bolt just yet.

Gwen rearranged herself to Wade so that her shoulder was pressed against his chest.  He wasn’t exactly at her back, which oddly enough would have felt like a blessing, but they were closer and she’d know immediately if he stepped away.  Wade stared down at her and felt distinctly uncomfortable with how small she seemed to be trying to make herself against him. Can read you like a book tonight, Blondie.

He skimmed a hand up her back to knead her neck again, letting his thumb dance across her scalp a bit. 

They stayed a little while longer before slipping out, Wade tugging on Gwen’s belt with a lascivious smirk in case her bossy friend was watching.

“Ugh, it feels good out here...”

The cold air bit at their skin, but it was fresh and the streets weren’t crowed at that time of night, so there was room to move and think.

“You cold or are you okay walking back?”

“Up to you, Maxine .... ...can that be your dominatrix name, by the way?”

“Since when do I need one of those?” she was laughing, so that was something.

“You never know when you’ll want a new career ...you’ve already got the full-body costume.”

“So do you,” Gwen swatted his hip.

“See you’re already good at it.”

Those blue eyes blinked at him with innocence he knew was partially false.

“...do you want me to have a dominatrix name?”

There was definitely something about the cautious willingness in her voice that almost made his knees a little weak, and he did like the visual of her in skimpy leather.  However, he definitely got more of a high when she handed him the control.

“Nah ...unless you need to work out some kinky shit,” he assured the trepidation that had also been in her tone.  “Whips, chains -- whole nine yards if ya really want,” he promised possible-future-Gwen and curled his arm around tonight-Gwen’s shoulders.

“Really?”

He snorted, unsure why she sounded surprised with this kind of thing coming out of his mouth.

“I’ll tie you up any day,” he ducked to nip the top of her ear.  “But the rest of it ....yes and no,” was his fair answer.  “I’ll try anything once ...and then twice just in case I was doing it wrong.  Why, you wanna get a paddle and really give it to me?” he teased her.

“Um,” Gwen considered since he was being honest.

“You don’t actually have to answer.”

“No, I’m just thinking ....I would probably be into pinning you down and stuff” - and, oh, he was into the idea now, too - “but I wouldn’t want weapons or anything.”

Wade laughed aloud.

“I don’t think they’re called weapon in the bedroom.”

“You know what I mean,” she hip-checked him lightly.  “I’d be afraid to  do too much damage.”

And he was pretty sure she said a mouthful there.

She never had any weapons.

“That why you don’t have gear and shit?  Cuz you came up learning to fight in there?”

She shrugged.

“I didn’t really know anything about fighting when I first heard about the underground stuff. I just showed up and relied on raw power, and I figured a few things out over time.  It took me a while to learn how to hold back after that,” she tried to step away as she explained but he curled his arm to keep her right beside him.

“Well that was never going to be the right place to learn that skill,” he hoped to deflect whatever memory she might’ve been approaching with that ominous statement. “Misty remembered you, though - you kicked ass, huh?”

Yeah that was better.

“Sometimes,” she tried not to look too proud, but part of her had loved learning and proving how strong she was after living life as a bit of a weak nerd for so long. “To be fair, I got the shit kicked out of me, too ....it was scary sometimes.”

She remembered, again, the strong muscle of Toad’s tongue lassoed around her neck. She’d been unable to suck in air and honestly hadn’t been sure if the fight would get called.  She had faced some daunting things since then, but that was the first time she could remember thinking she might die.

She ticked the collar of her jacked up closer to her neck and Wade went a little rigid next to her.

“You wanna explain what you just did there, Blondie?”

There was something dark and demanding in his voice but Gwen shook her head anyway.  Still, Wade tugged her collar back down and skimmed his fingers over his throat just to test whether he still could. She didn’t shudder away but still didn’t want to talk about it.  She just looped her arm around his waist and leaned in. 

If you ignored their conversation and forgot where they’d just been, this was a very quaint scene.  Just a normal c-- duo walking down the street.

But, shit, she couldn’t ignore where they’d just been.  Not yet.

“Oh, damn....”

Gwen fished her phone from an inside jacket pocket with her free hand and shot off a quick text.  Steve had requested to be kept in the loop, so she’d told him when - and, yes, with whom - she was going underground.  He had then insisted that he wanted to know when she was done and told her to consider him on-call until then. 

“You sure grandpa’s still awake?” Wade read over her shoulder.

“Said he would be...”

Sure enough, a message soon beeped back reading ‘Good to hear. See you tomorrow.’

“Could be JARVIS,” Wade defended his joke.

“Doubt it.”

“So can I skip the debrief tomorrow or am I ‘part of the mission’ now?” his air quotes were not wholly appreciated.

“Probably best you don’t go.”

“Hey--!  No, that’s probs true ...” he gave up on his protest prematurely.  “If you see Wings, tell him MarvelousWilsonBros is me on Words with Friends.  Maybe then he’ll stop ignoring me...”

“What?  You downloaded the game but haven’t even friended me?” Gwen looked up at him with a glare.

“That’s because you’re already my friend; I don’t have to woo you.”

“...you’re wooing Sam?”

“Yeah, I think he’s perfect for me,” Wade’s sigh was romantic and dreamy. 

“Oh is that so?” Gwen tried to peel away from him.

“Almost as perfect as you!” he laughed, arm chasing her to drag her right back.

 

 

“Christ you really are perfect, Gwen,” Wade was repeating later, this time while kneeling naked overtop of her in her bed.

He watched her shudder, well aware she preferred him saying her real name to any other epithet he’d yet come up with.  She blushed, though, too.

“I mean it,” he traced lines along the bottom of her ribs while he sat back on his haunches to chat.  “If you weren’t real, I’d just have to invent you.  Aha!  There’s a smile...”

“Because that tickles...”

“No, you think I’m clever.”

“Eh....”

“You do,” he told her tauntingly, leaning down as if to kiss her but pulling away at the last moment, and then he caught her hands when they shot up to his shoulders. “Ah-ah ...admit it.”

He pinned her arms back down and ground his erection into her hip.

Gwen blinked, considered this, and then shoved against his hands and flipped them so that he landed on his back with an ooof.’ She moved with him so that she was straddling his thighs.

“Well hello,” Wade smirked and reached to try to tug her up a bit further on his waist.

But she grabbed his hands to pin them, flipping their script and fuck yeah.

“Ah-ah,” she teased.

This was such a far cry from her trying to shrink against his chest earlier, and to hell if this wasn’t the sexiest role reversal of his life.  So maybe - okay, no maybe about it - he’d liked being that secure base for her, but this was even better.  YeahYeahSoMuchBetter. It wasn’t as if he had liked that she was scared.  Plus, he sort of liked the idea that he’d had a part in emboldening her back into her usual self.  If he wasn’t, fine; it was still hot.

“Of course I think you’re clever, Wade,” she chose to go on.  “You’re a smart ass sometimes, but you’re always smart.”

Wait...shit, why hadn’t he foreseen the change meaning he had to be the one taking compliments now?

Ummmm

Gwen saw him squirm and ducked to actually kiss him, delving into his mouth to swipe the discomfort away.   His response was to melt into the kiss 

That felt powerful to her.

Wade tried to slide his hands from hers, to reach for her she supposed, but she flexed some power back into her hands and held him in place.

“Is this something you like?” she hadn’t forgotten their conversation.

“Hell, I guess I do now.”

She smiled a bit and sat back to survey her new vantage point.

“So I win?  It’s my turn to stretch you into the splits?”

She hadn’t forgotten that past chat either.  Gwen hadn’t forgotten anything about Wade.  She suspected she never would .

“Whatever you want, boss.”

That both bolstered her and struck an off-note with her.  But she ignored it since this was kind of proving fun so far.

“Can you do that?” she cocked her head

He was acrobatic, sure, but she was trying to recall if she’d seen a feat quite that flexible from him.

“Sure.”

“Without hurting yourself?” she scowled.

“...probably not.  Try anything once, though, remember?”

“...I’m not going to hurt you.”

Wade wanted to make a joke about her ripping out his heart, but she’d take him literally and blanch or be upset.  If she took it figuratively, well, then, that was just too revealing.  So he said nothing but stared back at her. 

That felt a little revealing, too.

But she just kissed him again, and that he could definitely handle.  He made an effort to wrestle his hands free but failed except to make Gwen shift and take hold of his forearms so he’d have less leverage.  She couldn’t wrap her fingers around him as adequately this way, but she still had the strength for it.

Did he ever even want to be on top yet?”

Well, yes. Duh.

But this was damn hot.  She did hold back a lot - was even now, he knew - but he liked her letting loose.  It meant she was comfortable.  It meant he had proof that she chose every damn thing she did with him.  That might make her crazy, but it meant he wasn’t some obligation.

“Shiiiit,” he groaned when she bit his ear and then mouthed the sensitive skin just behind.

“Can I, Wade?”  She asked, just as he liked to ask.

Her voice filtered into his ear, dancing down his neck.

“Fuck yes.”

He was delighted with the way she grinned and then shifted back and finally onto him.

Fuck yes, indeed.


 

By the next day, Gwen was a night’s rest removed from the underground fight, so she felt a lot better entering Avengers Tower. 

JARVIS had been expecting her and took her up to Tony’s lab, where he was tinkering with Sam’s wings while the man watched closely.  Steve had shown up moments later so she could share how the night had gone.

Tony tried to gripe about her coming back without substantial information.  He shut up for a few minutes when she reminded him how long it had taken him to track down the Tessaract after it had been stolen from SHIELD.

“...how’d it go with WIlson?” he eventually got around to asking. Funny, Gwen had suspected he just wouldn’t bring him up at all.

“Good.  He’s a good ally to have, you know,” she felt inexplicably defensive even though she, too, had considered other back-up.

“Is it true what he said?” Steve edged-in with less sass.  “That you guys go way back?”

“Uh-huh,” Gwen fiddled with a tiny welder sitting on the lab table.

She had a feeling he was going to get nosey, and she would need to be careful with anything Wade wouldn’t want them to know.

“Even before...”

“Before Deadpool was Deadpool, you mean?” she supplied with a small smile.

“BS, too ....before SpiderWoman,” Sam grinned.  “According to him, anyway.”

“Yeah, before I started that, too.  We ran in some of the same circle for a while before all of that happened... “

All of that’ was not their business, so she left it purposefully vague.

“What was he like?”

Sam had seen and heard enough trauma; he, for one, didn’t want the morbid details.  He was, however, interested in what Wade might have been like pre-Deadpool.

“A lot the same,” Gwen mused.

“C’mon,” Tony scoffed.  “No one dies a few hundred times without changing the tiniest bit.  What was he like?”

True enough.

“That’s an awfully flippant want to talk about the psyche of someone who can kill themselves and wake up an hour later,” she threw back at him.

The others shifted a little uncomfortably.

“He was a buff, pretty boy like you dorks,” Gwen graded, “So he was an outrageous flirt.  I didn’t know him before the Army - he was in Special Forces, you know,” she glanced between the two soldiers. “So he was already a little morbid about that ...not as twisted as he is now, I guess.”

“Was he already a mercenary ...before?” Steve wanted to know.

Always checking that moral compass.

“Yeah,” she confirmed.  “He already had a particular set of skills...”

“Hey, I get that one,” he chuckled.

“We’re working on his pop culture education!” Sam fist-pumped into the air.

“So how’d you even know him back then?” Tony was doing some mental math.

“I did a lot of branching out to make money.”

“Wait, did you---!” he puffed right up.

“Not like that, you dirty old man,” Gwen shouted him down.

“...so you were pulling mercenary contracts?” was the only other reasonable conclusion for him to land on.

How had this turned on her?

“I tried it out.  It’s not all murder, you know.  You don’t have to do that at all if you don’t want to.”

“But....really, though; how old were you then? And how old is he these days?” Tony squinted at her.

“I was an adult, so don’t worry your pretty little head.  They weren’t handing out contracts for muscles to a high schooler,” she assuaged his worry even though she didn’t think he had a moral high ground in judging lifelong do-gooding.  “Anyway, he’s not a monster, Tony.  He never was.  The first time I met him he was sending money back from a contract he completed.  Some mom who wanted her boyfriend scared off because he was beating on her.  He gave her the money back for her and her kid.  Made sure she knew who to call if the guy came around again when he healed up...”

Steve nodded slowly.

“That Wade almost sounds like the kind of guy I’d want on my team.”

“...almost sounds like you should give him the chance to be.”

Not that he’d actually want to team up, not really.  Not forever, anyway. He enjoyed the freedom to do as he pleased when he pleased..  He deserved a chance, though, just in general.

Gwen shook her head.  This could be her chance to - maybe - make them understand.  But it wasn’t her place, and it probably wouldn’t make a different in the end anyway.

“Job’s a job,” Sam muttered.  “They point, you shoot ... ... I know a lot of guys who get that. Some buddies signed on with private contracting companies after they served.”

“Might be more complicated than that, but,” Gwen shrugged, “he’s not a bad guy.”

As she’d said, she hadn’t known him before the Army so a lot of his early life was a mystery to her.  He didn’t say much about it, and when he did it was hard to tell if or when he was joking. Who was to say when Wade became Wade?

But he was there now. That was what mattered.

“...I kind of think the body count left in his wake would tell a different story,” Tony couldn’t help himself.

And what about Tony’s wake?  Iron Man left behind a little destruction of his own, but they weren’t talking about that, were they?  Of course not.

Not that any of Tony’s mistakes or misdeeds negated the fact that many of Wade’s choices were questionable at best.  Suddenly, Gwen was upset that Wade wasn’t easier to defend.  Then again ...he’d never asked her to defend him in the first place, and he probably never would.   

She was just always doing it, anyway.

“Leave it alone, man,” Sam shushed Tony for her.

“No, it’s fine - I’m not saying I agree with everything he does,” Gwen shrugged her coat back on.

“Yeah, but it’s complicated -- I get that, I think,” Sam nodded.

Did he?

Because it was complicated. Then again, it didn’t always feel that way.  Sometimes it all felt right and even exceedingly simple.

If you weren’t real I would just have to invent you...’

That part was simple.

‘WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO RUIN THIS!’

That part wasn’t so much.

Yes, he wasn’t simple, but she supposed she wasn’t either. They were all a little fucked up. Even these jokers. They all had their shit, every last one of them.  Maybe Wade just waved his out in the open more.

Thinking of this caused Gwen a pang, and she felt she wanted to go home and see if he was still lounging on her couch.  She had told him to feel free to.

“Leaving?” Steve eyed her coat.  “You could come train.”

The implication was that she should come and train.  He was a leader of the team and she was, after all, part of that team.  She didn’t always feel like it, what with patrolling (mostly) solo, deciding where she would go or when, and choosing what she did or didn’t want to look into ...but she was a member.

“Oh, sure.  Yeah,” she agreed so as not to be the slacker.

She did like the camaraderie, after all.  Wade wasn’t her only friend privy to this part of her life.  She could lean on, ask help of, and learn from the crew here, too.  She shouldn’t forget that so easily.

“Buck’s around; I’ll see about Clint.  Meet you up there?”

Gwen headed upstairs to change and did just that.  With some of the faux-weapons stashed in the gym, they ran scenarios and sparred.   After an all-clear from Tony, Sam and Gwen even went up to the roof for a game of what she liked to just call ‘Tag.’  Only it was intense tag, and she enjoyed exerting herself.

“You could bring your boy around again. Deadpool,” Sam suggested once they’d called time and were trudging back in through the door to go downstairs.

“I didn’t bring him to the gym that time; he just showed up,” Gwen wasn’t sure if it was a trap but she didn’t want to fall in.

Sam chortled.

“Well you could tell him he can show up again...”

“I’ll tell Tony you say so,” her smirk was without venom.

They both laughed at that visual.

“I’m just trying to say I believe you about him not being all bad,” the airman sighed.  “That he’s more nuanced than that.

“...thanks.”

She wasn’t sure if she meant it on Wade’s behalf or if she was just grateful that Sam was respecting her judgement.  Probably both.

“Don’t get me wrong - he’s too much a lot of the time.  I just believe you is all ...and I kindda see it sometimes.” 

He was couching his praise pretty heavily, but it still meant something.

“And I think that if he came around more - ya know, with you - that we’d all get a chance to see it more.”

Interesting.

“It would also be a chance for him to annoy all of you, too - he likes doing that,” it was only fair to be honest.

“Doesn’t he annoy you?  Ever?” Sam was laughing but also, she could tell, serious. “You gotta have the patience of a saint, right?”

“He’s less obnoxious without an audience.”

Because that was true.

“And maybe he’s too flippant with things that should be serious, but sometimes I need that...”

And that was a little too true on her end, which Sam, of course, didn’t let pass.

“Uh-huh,” he stepped off the lift and then held it when Gwen didn’t follow right away.  “You alright?”

“Yeah, I’m just gonna head out.”

‘Mr. Stark is planning on you for dinner, Ms. Stacy,’ JARVIS interrupted. 

“Come on, girl,” Sam waved her with him.

Gwen considered refusing but all that she had at home was leftover pasta from earlier in the week, some stale crackers, and some half-eaten hummus.  She’d have to add groceries on her to-do list between ‘watch out for criminals’ and ‘search for members of the Mutant Brotherhood.’

So she followed along.

“I meant: are you doing alright...” Sam then had the time to continue.

“Sure ...kindda tired lately, but, hey, I’m not crashing mutant fight clubs every night.  I’ll be back to normal soon.”

“You could consider slowing down.”

“It’s always an option,” she agreed and then caught his scrutinizing eyes.  “I’m not out on the street every spare second, you know.  I have a life.”

“Kinnda more worried about content than quantity of time out there,” he remained lingering near the elevators for some privacy since some of the others were off in the kitchen.  “You’re in the middle of some shit out there.”

“So are you guys.”

“But I’m asking about you,” he poked her shoulder for emphasis.  “And a million little cuts is still torture, same as being stabbed outright.”

“...deep.”

“Hey, I read.”

She wondered if he’d heard specifically about her comments to Stark those weeks ago or if he just put this concern together himself via forethought and observation.

“I’m doing okay, Sam.”

“I’ve found some support groups around here since making the move permanent if you ever--”

“I’m not a vet.  It wouldn’t be right to tag along,” she immediately begged off.

“There’s more than one kind of group,” he held up hands to stop her protests.  I’m not pushing it - I never push them.  It’s just an FYI.”

“Alright ..then thanks...”

“It’s just,” he sighed. “If you see that kind of shit everyday, it’s natural to feel unsafe or mad or--”

“Secrets don’t make friends!” Stark shouted over childishly.

“Be one of us!” Clint heckled, too.

“I hear what you’re saying,” Gwen promised while they finished shuffling toward the group.  “Really.”

“Aiight.”

“Oh, and before I forget - Wade wants you to add him on Words with Friends.”

Sam’s sigh was long.

“I knew that was him.  I’m thinking about it.”

 

 

After diner and a few hours of patrol, Gwen was sure to report that news back to Wade.

“But what’s there to think about?”

Gwen shrugged.

“I don’t know if I’m offended or if this just makes me want him more...” the mercenary sighed dramatically and slouched on the couch.

“You sound like a teenager in love for the first time,” Gwen looked over her shoulder from where she was examining his poker painting.

She didn’t recognize any of the faces now taped securely to the dogs playing poker, which was curious. However, she didn’t ask; she’d rather figure it out on her own.

“Like there’s something wrong with a man crush.”

Gwen snorted.

“I think he likes you ...or he wants to.  He was asking about you.”

“OooOooo like what?”

His voice was breezy, but she noted that Wade’s eyes tracked her dutifully while she came to join him on the couch.  As a rule, he wasn’t a huge fan of prying, at least not when it came to others snooping in his business. He personally loved trying to pry into other people’s secrets.

“...they all asked about you,” she was honest.

“Because they thought I’d fuck up the recon?” he still sounded casual but Gwen couldn’t be sure that was actually true.

“I vouched for you, obviously, which, you know ...they’re always curious about...”

“Well, sure; they gotta know if you need checked into the loony bin,” he agreed and blocked the kick she tried to aim at him.  “You got bitched-out for taking me, huh?”

He didn’t actually sound upset about it, mostly just resigned.

“No, not like that.  They were just curious how I knew you in the first place...”

“You tell ‘em a nice story?”

“Mostly the truth...”

“Get out!  About you?” he looked surprised and for good reason since she had previously asked him not to bring up some of the more questionable parts of her job history.

But she nodded.

“They can’t do anything about it now.”

“Well, you were always a little cleaner than most of us anyway...”

“Yeah, yeah,” she swatted at him half-heartedly.

“Ain’t a complaint, Blondie,” he ignored the hit. “...now, c’mon; how’d they react?  Did Boy Wonder shit a brick?”

“Tony dominated the conversation; I think he was imagining me as a thirteen year old with pigtails or something.”

Wade cringed.

“I wasn’t that young!”

“I know that ...Wheez probably should’ve turned you down when you came looking for work, though...”

“Whatever,” Gwen thought of Sam’s concern and frowned because maybe she was a little fucked up just by virtue of continually seeking out trouble. “They were more interested in you, anyway.  They wanted to know what you used to be like.  If you were still the same.”

“And?” Wade crossed his arms tightly over his chest and scowled at her.

Gwen bristled, for she felt she’d represented him quite well.

“Why do you assume the worst?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Wade waved both of his hands at himself in a non-specific way.

Gwen scoffed.  She opened her mouth, closed it, and then shook her head a bit to rattle her thoughts together.

“I didn’t start blabbing about Weapon X if that’s what you’re thinking.  I’m not an idiot,” she glared right back at him. “And nothing we talked about had anything to do with the way you look, either.”

“Makes sense; they don’t even know what I look like under here,” Wade easily reasoned.

“You know you’re not Frankenstein, right?”

“I believe you mean Frankenstein’s monster.  That’s a common mistake,” he corrected her in matter-of-fact way that made her skin crawl.

“Oh my god,” she sprung off the couch and marched to his fridge to see if he still had some beers.

If she chugged a few quickly enough she should get buzzed for a little while.

“I’m just saying..”

“Well stop - I’ve already heard it,” she snagged a beer.  “And I’ve seen it- plenty of times - and I don’t give a shit.”

She heard him grumbling on the couch while she popped the cap off with her bare fingers and started drinking.

“What?” she stopped halfway through. “Do you think I’ve been lying all this time?”

That was met with silence during which she had time to drain the rest of the bottle.

“No smart ass comment?”

“Oh I have plenty...” was his petulant reply.

Damn it.  She shouldn’t have dared him.  She knew better.  Why was she so mad, anyway? She yanked another beer from the fridge and drank some of that, too.

“Why won’t you just believe me?” she broke the silence.

He started to turn around on the couch but paused and returned to staring at the TV.

“Leave it alone, Gwen.”

Without even realizing she was doing it, Gwen squeezed the bottle so hard it shattered in her hand.  The sound was a shock to her and she dropped the remaining pieces in surprise, at which time she realized she had a few cuts on her hand and beer was seeping across them

“Shit,” she slammed her hand shut against the sting and she grabbed some rags off the counter to stop up the mess spreading on the floor.

Wade appeared in the kitchen, sliding the trash can closer so she could toss the chunks of the cracked bottle inside. Then he didn’t seem to care about the remaining residue of beer on his floor that she hadn’t gotten to yet. He took her arm and pulled her up to stand with him so he could look at her hand.

“It’s fine; it’ll heal in a bit...”

He took a look anyway and then turned her towards the sink.

“Eh...”

“Chicken-Woman, more like,” he took her by the wrist and forced her hand under some cool water to rinse everything out.

“CaringPool,” she returned.

“...need any neon bandaids?”

“No,” she judged. “...why do you even have bandaids?”

It was true that he had more than one useless thing around his apartment, but bandaids just seemed like a silly thing to pick up at the store if you were Wade Wilson.

Neon,” he repeated and booped her nose.

“You’re so annoying sometimes...”

“Part of my charm,” he seemed to accept this and then, without warning, he pressed the pad of his thumb into a cut along the side of her palm to help it clot up.

Gwen hissed but didn’t say anything lest he make her another satyrical nickname.  When he did ease off pressure, she closed her hand around his. 

“I meant what I said...”

“Yeah,” his answer was hardly more than a grunt. “You usually do...”

“I’m not trying to be naive. I know another person can’t make your own insecurities go away, but why can’t you trust me on this?  Just for a little while, stop beating yourself up and listen to me instead,” she didn’t let go of his hand even though it twitched and her own fingers stung. “You’re so nasty to yourself...”

“I do,” he muttered after some time. “Listen to you. Sometimes. I forget every once in a while.  For a minute.”

Gwen’s face loosened a little in surprise.  She wished she knew what to say - she’d started this, after all - but she’d fully been expecting a flippant retort.

“And I’m nasty to everyone,” he lightened right back up.  “Mercenary,” he pointed to himself.

“Yeah...”

“Now you want another beer or what? Golden Girls is on next.”

She nodded, but he shooed her away when she tried to fetch a drink herself, stating that she was no longer to be trusted with the finer things in life.  When he brought her beer out to the living room it was in a solo cup while his own remained in a bottle.

When he flumped back down onto the couch Gwen cuddled in close, linking one of her legs over his own, and planted a kiss on his cheek.

He made a show of rubbing it away but she didn’t care.

Chapter Text

    (9:04pm)  Sup Blondie?
    (9:41pm): Blondie
    (11:11pm) I’m makin wishes over here. Da fuck’s up?
    (11:36pm) *Attachment sent*

At 11:50, Gwen opened a picture of Debbie Harry and saw Wade’s attempts to reach out.  She grinned and sent a photo of the city from her vantage point atop her own apartment building. 

She sent it back at 11:52.

Wade, who was paranoid enough to already have thought of a dozen ways Gwen had either been killed or kidnapped and was actually considering calling Tony Stark, breathed a sigh of relief. 

Of course she was fucking fine.  Obviously.  He’s known that. Duh.

So he called her.  Just to make sure that she knew that he knew she was fine.

“Bored in Tokyo already?” she answered.

“I --what makes you think I’m in Japan?"  He was quite sure he didn’t have any appointments there.

“I just like to guess.  Am I right?”

“No.  Not that far away, Blondie...”

Not this time anyway.

“Fine, fine.  Are you already done?”

“Not,” he slumped in the shitty lounge chair next to the shitty pool at the shitty motel he’d holed up in.

It was nighttime, but it wasn’t like he was looking for a tan anyway.  It was just quiet out there and a little less depressing than his room.  Definitely waiting for a higher class gig next time.

“Are you alright?”

That made his heart do a little somethin’-somethin’.

“Impatient.”

And full of one words answers, too...”

“Sorry.”

He wasn’t sure if she was going to find that funny or annoying.  He threw it out anyway, just sort of fracking for any response to keep the conversation going.

“Hmm ...want to hear about my night then?”

“Yes”

He stretched back, crossed his ankles, and listened to her go on about a Peeping Tom she’d spotted.  At first she hadn’t been sure if he was just trying to get into his own apartment after locking himself out or something  -- ‘because I can’t judge someone going in and out of a window, ya know!’ -- but a little more spying had made the situation clear.  Wade grunted at all the right times and asked all the right questions --- ‘you rip his dick off?’ Then she moved on to the old, confused man she’d found wandering down the road because he’d left home for reasons he couldn’t recall, so she’d helped him figure out where he lived.

“And he wasn’t confused as fuck about you?”

“A little, but I am kind and incredibly charming,” she boasted.

“Exactly the words I always use.”

“Shut it ...anyway, his family knew who I was when we found them, so they’ll explain it to him.”

He hummed in response and figured she’d go on, but apparently it had been a slow night.  He’d ask about “real” (aka: boring) work, but that annoyed her 50% of the time, so best not to chance it.  He just wanted to keep her talking.

Sometimes when he was gone a while - and truthfully  he hadn’t even been gone all that long - and he got a little low, he started to convince himself he’d made Gwen up.  Like his mind had plucked her from his happpier past and created her out of thin air. 

Okay, fine, the thought occurred to him when he wasn’t out of town, too, but they saw enough of each other that it was easy to dispel the suspicion when it wiggled into his mind.  This was something he never told Gwen, of course, because it was one thing to be full of simmering rage but it was quite another to worry you had hallucinations. 

Was it worse to actually have hallucinations or to harbor the fear that you did without any proof that you ever actually have had them?

“Wade?”

“Uh-huh?”

“Just making sure you were still there.”

“I’m still here ...you hanging up the Spidey Suit for the night?”

“Yeah, I just changed ... ...I’m going to go see Amelia, though...

Fuck.

“Tonight?”

They’d never explicitly decided that he would accompany her again to see that weird witch, but in his mind he’d totally be there.  Maybe just staking things out from afar, but still.

“Yeah.  Steve and them know.”

That was a mild balm but not much.  They didn’t know how she really felt about that shit, hadn’t seen her anxiety over it because something -but who knew what - was off.  Or maybe because it just made her sick to step back in time and be there.  What the fuck ever - they didn’t know.

And even if a sick or selfish part of him had liked her looking to him during it all, he didn’t want her to feel like that again.  Absolutely-fucking-not if he wasn’t there to watch her six.

Maybe he needed to blow-up ole’ Sammy on 'Words with Friends' chat and debrief him ... ...that dude still seemed solid.

“You’re pissed, huh?’ she read his silence.

“I should call this fucking job off...”

“I need to go tonight; you can’t get back from Venezuela that fast.”

He snorted despite his mood.

“Closer than that, too, nosey ... ...you taking Jessy?”

“I thought you said she was a lame-ass.”

“Are you taking her, Gwen?”

“...no,” she admitted and he swore and got up to pace around. “I feel okay about this.  I’m not meeting her back there” - that was better but not by much. “If she invites me back to a fight, I’ll take Jessica.”

Still not good enough.

“Yeah ...I shouldn't have taken this fucking job...”

Not in the middle of whatever this shit was.

“It’s alright.”

He grunted.

“...I don’t need my hand held.”

“I know.”

His words were tight, but he did know that.  Of course he knew that. 

The way she’d acted last time, though ...the chance that there was something going on that her subconscious had caught an inkling of - that was what he didn’t trust. If she figured it out or something popped-off, he didn’t want her dealing with it in that place on her own.

“I’m not saying I didn’t like having you there...”

“I know,” he was more gentle now because, no, she shouldn’t have to pacify him. “I know.  Sorry. I’m a dick tonight.”

“What’s up?”

“Nothing.”

The responding silence told him she wasn’t accepting this particular one-word answer, and he either wanted to kiss her or hurl his phone into the pool.  No in between.

“I just ...feel like I should be there.  Ya know, with you,” he finally bit out like he had dry mouth and his tongue had trouble with the words.  “You’re quiet, Blondie,” he added after a few more beats.  “You smilin’ or figuring out how to tell me off?”

I don’t need my hand held, that’s what she had said.  Well, fuck her.  Maybe he’d chop his hand off and mail it to her so she did have something to hold while he regrew it and finished this pissy job.

She definitely wouldn’t appreciate the sentiment.

“Smiling.”

Oh, well, that was a horse of a different color, wasn’t it?

“Good.”

He heard a soft chuckle.

“So whattcha wearing?”

The chuckle morphed into a full laugh.

“I gotta go.”

“...fine.”

He let her hang up first, and then he furiously tapped at his Words with Friends icon to open his game against ‘Wings > Arm’ - fuck yeah, by the way - and stab his finger at the chat.

    MarvelousWilsonBros (11:56pm) - Don’t fuck this up

    Wings > Arm (12:16am) - ?

    MarvelousWilsonBros (12:16am) - You know what

    Wings > Arm (12:18am) - Man r you drunk?

    MarvelousWilsonBros (12:18am) - Not possible

    Wings > Arm (12:22am) - Alright

    MarvelousWIlsonBros (12:22am) - Alright

 

Wade saw that the other man remained logged into the app for a while, maybe waiting for more, and then disappeared all together. 

He knew.

He better fucking know.

Wade then took his time studying their game board for a good word.  Gotta get that triple word score!


 

‘Bar with No Name’ wasn’t specifically touted as a “mutant bar,” but it was well known to be friendly to a specific clientele.  Gwen wasn’t a regular but used to go there to keep an ear to the ground on Morlock activity for Storm after the sewers had been raided, but that had been some time ago.

Amelia had mentioned she had been going there a bit, so Gwen had started to drop in again to try to see her.  Not with specific intentions, just to keep their conversation in Amelia’s mind. 

Just in case.

Tonight, Gwen - as Maxine, of course - had been invited back to meet a friend of Amelia’s.

Sebastian.

Sebastian did a lot of leering and smooth talking, but he wasn’t entirely off-putting.  He wasn’t a native but had been in New York City for over a year and had a lot of thoughts about the place.  Eventually he mentioned having been at the very rally that the Avengers had helped break-up.   

Having expected this would come up in some fashion given Amelia’s introductions, Gwen (erm, Maxine) stayed cool and kept the same attitude she’d expressed to the woman previously: that this was a waste of time because the Church of Humanity was full of hot air.

Sebastian, however, scowled deeply.

“You think so, do you?”

The dark look in the blond man’s eye could have rivaled Wade’s, but Gwen faltered because Wade was a known quantity and this guy was ...well, who the hell knew?

She glanced to Amelia, who stayed silent.

“I mean, I know they’re fucked and all, but what else is new?”

“Plenty,” he stated ominously. “The game’s changing...”

And what game was he playing, exactly?

“Yeah, well, it’s all been a mess for some time now, hasn’t it?” she tried to dismiss

That was a little more pessimistic than her normal self, but she didn’t want to seem like someone who would be phased by anything this guy had to say.

“Honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet...”

She sort of wanted to punch him in the nose for that, and she shot a look at Amelia again.  The older woman didn’t normally sit well with condescension from men, but she was as aloof as if he was merely commenting on the weather.

“Try me.”

Whelp, she was in it now. Can’t just dare a guy like that and then back out.

The back of her neck was tingling like an icy breeze had just blown through.

The stocky man just chuckled again.  Gwen was pretty sure she hated him, but she made sure Maxine looked neutral.

“Amelia says you were some braniac running around here back in the day...”

So Amelia wasn’t keeping her secrets, but she was complimenting her. Interesting to know.

And it was true.  Gwen hadn’t been completely prepared for the gritty underground atmosphere ‘back in the day,’ as Sebastian said, so she’d just talked to fill uncomfortable silences or deflect from answering questions.  She’d prattled on about the research she’d done regarding her super strength, trying to measure exactly what her limits were -- a feat that proved to be too hard for her to measure at the time but Stark insisted he could do for her if she were still curious -- and hypothesizing all sorts of things about other mutant’s abilities.  Not everyone cared to listen to that kind of analysis of power, but Amelia apparently hadn’t forgotten her own infatuation.

“Guilty. I was a science nerd back then.”

“Uh-huh ...so how does an Easy Bake Oven for mutants fit your biology class?”

Ding. Ding. Ding. There it was.  This was it.  Gwen was thankful for her coat because now the hair all down her arms sprang to attention.

“... ...I hope you’re not talking about killing mutants,” she choked.

But the moment of ignorance was a farce. She knew what he meant.

She knew. Shit.

And she’d had an Easy Bake Oven, too.  Childhood ruined.

“No,” he laughed - yeah super funny.  “Not incinerating ...creating.”

Her mouth went dry and she threw back the rest of the vodka in front of her to wet her throat and to give her something to do.

“Creating,” she repeated.  “Like ...like Magneto.”

The Ellis Island incident was known around the world.  It had kicked-off the latest round of proposed mutant legislation, a hysteria that had yet to die down.

“Well, he was definitely on to something, but he was too public.  He did us all a real disservice there...”

A terrorist sympathizer.  Great.  Super awesome.

“Then how?” she demanded.

“Stimulating latent genes...the specific methods are still being perfected, I’m told,” he admitted in a very clinically detached way.

Yes, she was sure they were.

...drown you.

...froze you nearly to death.

....strung you up.

....beat the shit out of you.

“Hell, one informant heard they’re experimenting with some kind of alien technology after one of these damn other-worldly incidents,” Sebastian chortled at this thought.

Gwen didn’t even want to touch that one yet.

“Wait,” she blinked and shook her head against these memories. “Why would the Church of Humanity be involved in that? At. All.”

“Not all Humanity factions are so against all mutant associations.”  -Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t. Say. It. -  “Creating mutant slaves, for instance, makes perfect goddamn sense to them.”

“Jesus...”

Her drink was gone and she wanted it back. A double, though.

This was not supposed to be that. Maybe she should be relieved - two birds with one stone and all.  She was decidedly not relieved.

“Well, yes, I’m sure they think he very much approves.”

So Weapon X was some program run by a faction of the Church of Humanity, who thought mutants were abominations but would be suitable as super-slaves.

“But ...why would they turn humans into mutants?”

That was backwards for them.

“They take advantage of the vulnerable, pick up the slime of humanity  who they don’t give a shit about anyway. Then they turn ‘em and use ‘em.   Send them out to do dirty work, wage war against pure mutants ...give mutants a bad name.  Whatever amuses them....” he ticked off ideas on his fingers.  “Possibilities are endless, aren’t they?”

“This ...you’re right,” Gwen wiped a hand over her mouth. “This changes everything...”

“We started getting wind of it here in the city when some of these homemade mutants showed up at fights,” Amelia finally spoke up on the topic. “They stood out as a little too old to seem unpracticed with their powers.  It happens, of course, but it’s rare for mutations to manifest in adulthood.

“They send them underground?”

That made no sense.

“Little money making.  Little recon,” Sebastian shrugged.  “We saw it in Boston, too; rumors are roiling in DC, now.  They’ll raffle them off to who-the-fuck-ever, apparently.”

“The Brotherhood is trying to steal it,” Gwen finished the puzzle without Sebastian’s direct guidance and brought the issue back to The Brotherhood involving themselves with the Church at all. “They want to know how they’re doing it, right?”

“Mmhmm ...if there’s a way to make mutants, that serves an opposite agenda if they can be turned loose instead of put on a bigot’s leash...”

He looked a little too pleased with the thought.

“I’m ...” Gwen just sighed.

She didn’t know what she should think of this as Gwen or as Maxine.

Well, that wasn’t true.  She knew what she thought and what she felt, she just wasn’t sure what to do.

If Wade was here, everyone in the bar might be dead.

“I felt the same way,” Amelia told her quietly.

Her gaze was sympathetic to the younger woman’s confusion, though Amelia had obviously already picked a side. The best of two evils in her mind, maybe - or maybe she didn’t have any qualms at all.

Gwen just felt sick.

“We wouldn’t hate to have another bright, strong ally,” Sebastian finally came right out with the proposal.

“I ...” she scrubbed her face because she really was frazzled and she wanted to look like she was having trouble processing. “I have a lot to think about...”

Sebastian looked annoyed but nodded like he, too, knew it was quite the bomb.

“Of course.”

“I’ll walk you out,” Amelia offered and rose, waiting for Gwen to join her.

“Nice to meet you.”

“And you, too, Sister.”

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Her mantra stayed with here to the door, where Amelia lingered with her before opening the door to the cold.

“You might’ve come back to our world at our kind’s most important time,” she smiled.

Gwen felt like a flashing neon sign was about to click on over her head labeling her an IMPOSTOR at any time. She wasn’t born a mutant; she’d just had a fluke of an accident and been ...mutated.  Powered-up.  Supered. She fit in here, but she also felt like they were welcoming her into the fold under false pretenses.

No. No, she shouldn’t feel bad about telling half-truths to...to...well, she wasn’t exactly sure what to call them. Monsters? They were certainly willing to do some monstrous things.

“Maybe this was happening in Chicago, too ...is it everywhere?” the fear laced into her question wasn’t completely fabricated.

“Isolated here on the East Coast, they think ...but it could only be a matter of time.”

“Right.  Right ...Jesus,” she sighed one last time. “I’m ...not sure what to think, but I’m glad you invited me.”

Amelia dropped her a wink.

“Good night.”

“See you...”

Gwen shoved her hands into her pockets and ducked out the door into the night. Finally she didn’t have to be calm.  Didn’t have to regulate her breathing or worry about finding the right words while her heart wanted to buzz right out of her chest.  She even let a few tears fall.

What. The. Fuck.

This had all taken a few weeks, but, really, it couldn’t have worked any more perfectly.  Her long absence from the underground scene had absolutely not lost her any favor with the acquaintance who had indeed proved to be the world’s best contact. Toad was a piece of shit and Marrow had turned up her nose at her, but Amelia...

Fucking Amelia.

She and Sebastian were alright tormenting humans - probably any human - in hopes a mutation would emerge so that mutants could finally outnumber average humans.  The Humanity faction was willing to torture “lesser” members of society and then enslave them once they became mutants, what they considered the lowest-of-the-low.  Everyone was fucked up.

Why couldn’t she just be normal?  Normal young women didn’t deal with this; she was pretty sure of that.  She’d have to check in with Bets or MJ to be certain, though...

She walked for several blocks before ordering an Uber.  The driver tried to ask her if she’d been out for fun that night, but she’d told him she didn’t feel well and then given him the silent treatment while she sent a message to Steve to let him know she was heading home and all was well.  She did give the driver a nice tip afterwards, though, since he’d attempted to be nice.

Only when she was in the warm, safe confines of her bed did she text Wade again.

    (2:26am) Home.

    (2:27am)  Fuckin finally.  How’d it go?

    (2:34am) Interesting...Amelia’s might be a bitch

    (2:35am) A bitch who needs to get herself dead?

    (2:39am) I don’t think so
    (2:39am) No

    (2:40am) Can’t say I’m diggin ur lack of detail Blondie...

    (2:44am) I’m just tired.
    (2:44am) We can discuss when you get home

    (2:45am) *poop emoji*

    (2:46am) You should be sleeping if you have a job to do
    (2:47am) What time zone are you in?

    (2:48am) *Devil emoji*

    (2:50am) Is that a hint?
    (2:50am) Did you go down to Georgia!

    (2:51am) lolz. Closer.
    (2:51am) But no

    (2:53am) Give me a hint

    (2:54am) *Eggplant emoji*
    (2:54am) Whattchu  wearing?

    (2:55am)  Good night

    (2:56am) Noooooooo
    (2:59am) Blondie?
    (3:00am) Nighty night, Spidey-Poo

Gwen stared at his last texts.

She had no regrets about not telling him everything.  This was not over-the-phone news.

Anyway, just how the hell was she going to tell him this?  The Avengers, who he had made it perfectly clear were not to be involved, were now in on this, too. Maybe it was best that they were since this whole operation was extending to other cities.

'...raffled them off to who-the-fuck-ever.' 

How would they track everyone down? The Avengers could help...

‘They’ll ruin it!’

Shit.

Gwen threw herself onto her pillows and piled up her blankets all around her.  She needed sleep, a lot of coffee, and some time to think.

All of which she’d have to get done at the Daily Bugle.

Double shit.


 

“Any of that ring a bell to you?”

Gwen was shuffling her feet near a coffee cart while she clutched a cardboard cup and stared at Jessica Jones. The other woman was leaning practically immobile against the brick outer wall of the Daily Bugle main offices. 

How did this chick always look so goddamn cool?

And did anything ever ruffle her feathers?  She wasn’t even batting an eye at the news Gwen had just shared with her about a clandestine mutant-making business.

“I’ve heard a similar story,” the dark haired girl admitted, cooly sipping her coffee- plain black like she was a true badass.

She was nursing a hangover, that much she had admitted.

“Seriously? You have?”

“What? I know things - that’s why you came to me,” she raised an eyebrow full of attitude.  “Guy was put through involuntary experiments while he was in prison...”

“And now?

“Now ...let’s just say no one makes him do things involuntarily,” she reported.  “I’ve heard of the Church of Humanity, who the hell hasn’t, but I didn’t know they were a part of that.”

“Alright... ...”

“How’d you hear about all of this?”

“...I think I’m being recruited to help steal the resources, and whatever, from the Humanity,” Gwen confessed, watching passersby carefully.

She knew Jessica was doing the same while they stood facing one another.

“Bitchin'.  Gonna do it?”

“Might pretend,” Gwen shrugged.

She hadn’t decided yet.  Truthfully, she supposed Wade had the right to make the call ...though she was tempted to make it herself.

“Well, you’ve got my number if you need it.  Maybe try not to need it so early in the morning, though,” she squinted and took another pull off her coffee.

“Sorry; I got work...”

“Uh-huh”

“Um ...if I give you a few names could you keep them on your radar?” Gwen appealed. “I’m not asking you to run a whole job, but you hear things. I’ll obviously pay if it comes to anything.”

“Oh, you get a raise?” Jessica jerked her chin at the building behind her with a grin.

Like the half-lucky, half-brilliant PI could talk.

“I’m not the only one interested,” Gwen’s answer was vague but true.

Wade would pay anything and, if it came to it, Stark could front some cash.  Not that Jessica charged that kind of commission.

The brunette just rolled her eyes.

“I forgot you have friends in high places, now ...alright, lay ‘em on me.”

“...do you need me to write it down?”

Jessica only tapped her temple.

“Right, okay ...Killibrew is the main one; he might be an actual doctor. Sebastian.”

“Sebastian what?”

“I dunno; just Sebastian.  Is it that common of a name? ... Fuck, what’s Bobby’s name,” she could picture the morbid little cartoons Wade drew of the man. “Robert Windsor ...and then just anything about the Church.”

“Alright ... ...how tight lipped am I supposed to be about this?”

“Are you kidding? Very tight lipped,” Gwen glared. “Like...very.”

“I just know a little Devil who likes to sit on my shoulder sometimes ... ...he hears shit, too.  He hears everything, if you know what I mean...”

Yeah, yeah, so Daredevil was blind.  Gwen knew that.  Jessica wasn’t special.

“Sure ...just ...will he give you shit if you don’t tell him the whole story?  Just names to be on the lookout for?”

Jessica studied her for a little while, probably wondering why there had to be any secrets if she just wanted to burn the whole thing down with her new “friends in high places.”  Gwen and Jessica had an understanding that they’d help each other out as needed but would, more or less, just stay out of each other’s shit.  Gwen genuinely had no interest in breaking that unspoken agreement. That was no guarantee that Jessica - PI by trade - had not investigated her a bit, and she could very well know about Wade already.  If she didn’t, though, Gwen wasn’t going to bring it up now.

“Oh I’m sure he’ll give me shit,” Jessica smirked once she made whatever decision she needed to, “but I don’t care.  He doesn’t scare me.”

No surprise there. Did anything?

Gwen didn’t ask and just nodded.

“Thanks ...”

“Thank you for the coffee,” the other woman saluted her with the coffee cup.  “I’ll call you if anything pops up.”

“Alright - have a good one.” 

“Good luck,” Jessica slapped her shoulder a little harder than necessary, and definitely harder than humanly normal, and then strutted off.

Good luck.

Right.

She’d probably need it.


 

So as not to be seen as completely falling off the grid, Gwen did stop by ‘The Bar With No Name’ again a few days later and saw Amelia.  She’d insisted that she was still mulling things over and doing a bit of her own research.  Admitting that last piece had been a little daring, but, then again, she and Maxine would both be stupid to just accept something like this at face value.  That apparently rang true, for Amelia didn’t seem top fussed about it. 

Beyond consulting with Jessica, Gwen’s research involved doing a bit of snooping for recent word of the Brotherhood.  They weren’t usually on her immediate radar, lingering somewhere on the periphery because the X-Men tended to step in if they were involved, so she needed a download on new activity. 

And she hadn’t said word one to Wade beyond occasional check-ins and a bit of sexting.   This still wasn’t phone news, and flat-out asking him to come home would probably punt him right off that edge he’d been teetering on - he might murder a pilot and steal a plane to fly straight back.  Gwen wasn’t actually sure he knew how to pilot a plane on his own but wouldn’t put it past him to at least try.

No, she would just gather intel like a sponge and wait for him to get back unless something immediately actionable came through.  Of course, this also meant she was holding out on the Avengers.  She felt guilty about it ...and worried. 

So Gwen was trying to spend a little extra time with Betsy and MJ, who loved her but were expecting nothing of her.  She also dropped in at Jessica’s a couple times because that was the person she was lying by omission to the least and it felt nice.

“You’re wound too tight,” the woman had observed in spectacularly bland fashion. “Go swing on some buildings.  Play in the breeze or whatever.”

It wasn’t horrible advice except that as Spider Woman she was reminded she had responsibilities but was idiotically floundering in stasis. 

Maybe she should call Wade, after all. Not to spill everything, but there was probably a casual way to suggest that he put a pause on his job.  She needed him home to take his lead on this now. 

She’d promised.

That didn’t mean part of her didn’t want to just hop forward into this mess in his absence.  She could easily have Amelia tell Sebastian she was willing to help and just walk further into the belly of the beast.

Could Wade really blame her?  It’s what he would do - ask forgiveness (ha!) instead of permission (double ha!).

Amelia and Sebastian thought that Gwen was one of them and she had no intention of revealing otherwise until there was backup and a plan.  It was her prerogative...

I just ...feel like I should be there...’

Damn it.  This would probably have been more of a no-brainer a couple months ago.

“Ugh,” Gwen groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose where she was squatted on top of a streetlight.

She’d been eyeing a hotdog cart a few yards away.  She was hungry and the worker, who so far hadn’t spotted her, might offer her a free meal. Some vendors very much enjoyed doing this, and she wasn’t one to refuse. If it was her only payment for all the night shifts she pulled, she wasn’t sorry.  Plus, it made Wade jealous and that was always hilarious.

Her thigh buzzed and she wiggled her phone out.  Speak of the devil: a text had arrive from ‘Mr Boombastic’- his choice, not hers ...though she did leave it in.

She clicked the message open to see a photo of his un-made bed captioned: aren’t you supposed to be here?

He was home!

How he managed to have impeccable timing - she’d practically just convinced herself to move in without him, hadn’t she? - was beyond her.  She decided not to answer but leapt from her perch to swing off in the opposite direction of hotdogs and mustard. 

She landed lightly on his patio several minutes later and let herself in.

“There you are - hard day at work, shnookums?”

Wade was standing at the counter in his full suit, weapons still in place, opening Chinese take-out boxes on the counter.

“You just got in?” she pulled off her mask and hood to shake out her wavy hair.

It was eeking past her shoulders and she needed to get it cut soon beforeit wouldn’t all slide easily under the hood.

“Yup.  Placed the order when I landed and Xin was at my door when I walked up.  I’m really perfecting the system...”

The system took practice, generous tips, and a little Steno notebook full of recorded delivery times, she knew.  Quite the science.

“Come on; where’d you fly in from?”

He mimed zipping and locking his lips. 

“Would you have told me if I guessed it?”

She still thought the devil emoji could’ve meant something...

“Course.  Gotta reward a bright little mind.”

‘We wouldn’t hate to have another bright, strong ally...

She blanched and swallowed heavily but approached when he got a couple paper plates out - ‘no need for dishes right after vacation, ya know?’

Work didn’t usually count as vacation, but, sure, she let it slide.

“Gotta step up to earn it, Blondie,” he rose the plates over his head and crooked a finger at her with the other hand.

Gwen obliged, setting her mask aside so she could walk over and smooth her hands over his waist. She curled her fingers around his sides and tugged him in while she stretched up for a kiss. He tugged his own mask up and ducked to accommodate her, claiming her mouth deeply.

Something caught in her throat. 

This was good and calm, and she didn’t want to ruin it.  But she had to ruin it.

Promises.

“...cold Chinese is good, too,” Wade let the plates fall and wrapped both arms around her tightly.

“What about your system?” Gwen rested back on her heels.  Away.

“Fuck it.  Xin ain’t goin’ anywhere.”

She nodded and worried her lip between her teeth.

“What?” the grin on his lips twitched, and she felt guilty. “What?” he repeated, smile dropping altogether.

“Just ...a lot’s happened ....I should’ve let you eat...”

She felt young, suddenly, like she didn’t want to have to lead this conversation.  She’d had far too much time to think and stress out, so purging everything might feel good... but she didn’t know how to start.  She felt immediately overwhelmed and angry at this responsibility.

“What happened?  Amelia?” his hands, still on her, started patting her down for injuries.  “I’ll kill her...”

“No.  Wade,” Gwen grunted when he tried to turn her for further inspection, but she batted away the attempt.  “I’m fine.  I promise.  Just ...some stuff came up.  I didn’t want to tell you over the phone...”

“...stuff about young Gwen?”

She wished. 

“No.”

Wade frowned and then abruptly yanked his mask down all the way to hide any subtleties about how he was going to react to this.  She had a feeling he wasn’t going to be subtle, anyway. 

“...I met Amelia’s friend...”

“Name.”

“Sebastian.  He-”

“Last  name.”

“I’m not sure,” she admitted.  “It could be a fake name” - he crossed his arms, already annoyed at this hiccup in finding whoever had her wound up - “but he shed some light on what’s really going on with the Brotherhood and the Church of Humanity ...well a branch of it, anyway.  He knows what the Brotherhood is trying to get from them.  He wants me to help him...”

“And?” he didn’t seem to appreciate her pausing.  “Is there a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence?  What?”

Right.  Okay.  He was always in favor of just ripping off the damn band-aid and dealing with whatever chaos ensued.

“The Church is...perfecting how to make mutants.”

Everything in the room went still and silent for a heartbeat.  Two.

“Say that again,” his voice was steel.

“...I think Weapon X is actually this branch of the Church.”

No stillness this time.  Wade lashed out at the nearest object, toppling both of his stools to the floor.

“Fuck! ...you couldn’t have told me this six days ago!”

“Over the phone?  What did you want me to say?”

“You should’ve d-- no. No. It’s done,” he stopped himself, chopping a hand through the air.  “Keep talking. Everything. Go.”

“They’re, well, you know:  selling them.  They want supered-up bodyguards ...maybe an army to use against mutants ... ...”

Two hits and Wade’s card table, thankfully empty of guns, cracked and folded in on itself.

“Wade.”

“Keep talking,” he growled at her again.

“...the Brotherhood want to steal it all from them for basically the exact opposite.  Make humans into mutants so one day there’s no more humans left.”

“Fuck!”

He kicked the demolished table, stomping some more cracks into it.

“Who else knows?” he whirled back around to her.

“I don’t know who else they’re recruiting yet...”

“No, who knows?  Cap? Stark? What’s the next move,” he demanded.

“Nothing.  I haven’t told them.”

He glared at her behind those white eyes, assessing the truth in her words.

“I haven’t done anything.  Well, okay, I asked Jessica if she’d heard of anything like that --”

“And?”

“She’d heard a strange story,” Gwen admitted. “But, no - I’ve been waiting to see what you want me to do.”

“Waiting...”

“Yeah, I mean this is a lead we might be able to follow on our own... so I can back out, but I can go find out more.  I don’t mind...”

“What?!” he spat.

“You know...” Gwen nodded. “Figure out who’s who and where this operation is at...”

He stared at her blankly, and his mask meant she couldn’t begin to guess which way his mind was spinning.

“You... ...” he cut himself off and paced the carpet, stride tight and feet heavy.

“I’m not saying it’s not a little scary, but I can do it if you want.  Just long enough to--shit!”

She hopped back when Wade took another swipe, sending all of the food containers flying off the counter.

“Fuck.  Fuck everything,” he slammed his fists into the counter a few times; luckily it didn’t crack.

“Wade...”

“You’re not supposed to be the way in,” he snarled.

“I don’t mind..”

I mind,” he roared.  “I can’t j....” he took a long breath through his nose. “You...” he couldn’t finish that thought either and took a couple more deep breaths. “I pictured this homecoming very differently,” his voice wasn’t much more than a whisper.

“Sorry...”

“Ah-ah,” he held up a finger, clearly not wanting to hear this. 

She considered apologizing for apologizing but did no such thing.

“Wade--”

“Shh,” he shushed her again, keeping his finger in place.

She could see his jaw working under his mask and stayed mum while he worked through whatever he wanted to work out.

“I’m going to the roof,” he dropped his arm and promptly excused himself.

She watched him trudge down the hall to his room, heard the window slide up and back down, and then heard nothing. He was always retreating with his emotions, but at least he didn’t completely cut and run away.

All things considered, that had gone ...certainly not well but also better than it could’ve.  For instance, he hadn’t (yet)  stormed off to go find Amelia and try to slit her throat.

Resigned, Gwen started picking up the place.  The stools hadn’t busted so she put them back.  The card table - and why didn’t he just have a real table, anyway? - was beyond all hope, but she finished some of the partial breaks so the pieces could be piled neatly for disposal.  The few things that had been living on it found a new home on the counter.  That brought her to the kitchen, which needed the most help.

Rice was strewn everywhere, joined by poultry, veggies, and different sauces glomming together in one thick puddle.  It all went to the trash and, after sacrificing many papers towels to wipe everything down, the place went back to its original state ...or possibly a bit nicer because some of those stains had not been fresh. In any case, she snuck the trash out to the dumpster to rid the apartment of the smell of sweet and sour sauce. 

Then she wasn’t sure what to do.

She floated awkwardly between staying and going.  She would rather stay, but it might upset him all over again when he came back down.  There was only one way to know for sure.

She stuck her head out of his window into the cold air, and she was surprised to see his bulk nearby on the fire escape only two floors up.  Even in the dark she could see him flopped with his back against the brick wall, arms propped on his bent knees.  In the middle of the night, she supposed it wasn’t necessary to go far if all you needed was space and air.

“Wade?” she didn’t have to try to shout like she’d expected to.

“Yeah.”

“...do you want me to leave?”

A small creak met her ears.

“No.”

“Okay.”

She pulled her head back in and began looking for a change of clothes. 

A couple weeks ago she had mentioned that they should start leaving clothes at each others places because of so much coming and going - a proposal she’d immediately tried to back-peddle because of just how domestic it sounded.  Wade had only laughed and said it was better to just be naked, but then he had started to pilfer clothes from the bags she brought by and stuffed his pickings into a suddenly-spare drawer in his dresser.  In fairness, she had cleaned out a drawer for him, too, but she hadn’t seen anything in it yet.  Then again, Wade wasn’t quite as picky about clean clothes as she tried to be, and he also did embrace life in the buff (except his face) whenever possible.

Soon she had on some shorts and one of his clean sweatshirts on.  Tempted as she may be to go sit with Wade, this had been quite the bombshell so she had no interest in rushing him.

The enticing smell of spicy Chinese food clung to the air despite removing all of the trash, so Gwen got on her phone and ordered some more food -stress had built up an appetite for her. She was a good house guest, though, and stacked all of the take out containers neatly in the fridge when she was done.  Wade still hadn’t made an appearance, but he had given her explicit permission to stay so she made herself at home in his bed. She tried to wait for him to come in, but who knew when that would be.  Ultimately, she didn’t fight it too hard when her eyes began to grow heavy and droop.

When Gwen woke back up again, it was to a rough snap that had her sitting up in bed. 

“Shit ....sorry,” it was Wade at the window. 

Clearly he had not closed it carefully enough.

“S’okay,” Gwen mumbled even though her heart was hammering.

She laid back down and watched him quietly strip off his suit to then shuffle off to take a shower.  A long shower - enough so that she started to wonder whether he was trying to drown himself. Long enough that she was dozing again when he crawled into bed.

Part of her was surprised he’d come to bed at all.  The rest of her was too pleasantly sleepy to think about it much.  She just slid closer and curled into his side to appreciate it.  This only lasted a moment before his hands were gently pushing her off and then firmly, but not roughly, lifting and pushing her to turn away.

“Hey!  Okay, okay.  I get it,” she squirmed away from his hands - away away away today, damn.  “No touching.  I get it.”

So much for sleepy; she’d been jostled pretty well awake now.  She untangled the comforter in a bit of an immature - wasn’t she supposed to be understanding and supportive right now?  - huff and stared up at the ceiling.

“No,” Wade grabbed her hips to keep twisting her around.

She opened her mouth to tell him to use his damn words, but then his torso was pressing on her back to continue forcing her to roll over and he swiftly wrapped himself around her.  Oh...okay.  The method was uncouth, but this was nice.

“S’my hoodie,” he griped, shoving his hand into the pocket when he wrapped his arm around her.   

“Maybe.”

He snorted and pressed his face into her shoulder.

“I can’t choose to send you closer to this,” he said after a while, voice muffled by his mask and the sweater’s fabric.

“Can’t?  Or won’t?”

He smooshed his face into her shoulder and wiggled it back and forth. 

“Won’t.”

“Then I’ll choose. I’m going.”

His arm tightened but he stayed quiet a little longer.

“It should be me.”

“Yeah,” she agreed with this for the purpose of truly satisfying justice.  “It’s just for information, though, Wade.  When I find out more--”

“I know,” she felt him nod.  “It’s just too much.  You shouldn’t have to try so hard for me...”

Gwen tried to turn back over but he tightened himself around her and would not allow it.  She wondered how it would be if she threw some actual effort and strength into it in order to make him look at her, and she seriously considered doing it for a few seconds.  She refrained, however.

“This thing they’re doing ....do you think I’d just turn a blind eye if you weren’t involved and I found out some other way?”

She heard and felt his quiet grunt.

“No,” it sounded like it pained him to admit.

“Then you don’t have to be such a martyr.  You’re not the only reason I have an interest in this; it’s not your fault.  If I get hurt or this gets more dangerous ...or it I burn some bridges.  Maybe you noticed that I do dangerous things pretty often.”

He grumbled into the sweater but didn’t outright refute any of this.

“You need to be nicer to yourself.”

Wade pressed his face into her shoulder so hard that maybe he was hoping to smother himself.

 

Why does she always have to say shit like that?

“Besides.  I know you’d do it for me.”

Well yeah, with pleasure, but not the point.

What was the point again?

Wade had thought up and obsessed over a whole lot of reasons he couldn’t ask her to get more involved - not like this.  Not when it wasn’t, at the very least, them.  This was just her.  What if they found out?  What if they hurt her?  Caught her? What if they had some way to subdue her?  Would their means of control over their homemade mutants work on her if she was a different sort of Super?  What if they did that?  What if he couldn't stop it?  What if ...

What if he didn’t let her do it?

Don’t do that.

She wouldn’t like that vocabulary at all, but would it be worth the argument?

No.

No, they’d operated this far as equals.  They tempted, persuaded, tested, and, in her case, interrupted each other, but there wasn’t a boss.  She took his lead on this because she wanted to, not because he was some lord over her.

Can’t fuck that up.

Besides, he did want her to go infiltrate so they could could tear it all down.  He just felt guilty about it, and he didn’t want that type of responsibility over her.  He didn’t know if he could handle it if shit went sideways.

‘You need to be nicer to yourself.’

Ha!  Not fucking likely.

Even so, she made valid points.  Spidey would be on this shit like white on rice even if she didn’t know him and somehow stumbled onto this shitty super power factory.  Bleeding heart that she was.

He nuzzled closer again.

Maybe that was why he needed to stay so prickly - because she was so soft.  No, soft wasn’t right.  Just willing and giving and shit.  She should cut it out and get jaded and spiteful already.

Well, no, he didn’t want that either.  She could stay her perfect little self and fend off that bullshit. He’d help. 

“You fall asleep?” she asked quietly into the dark.

He shook his head.

“No.  Just thinking.”

“Cut it out then.” 

“Can’t.”

They laid in silence a little while longer.

“... ...wanna mess around instead?”

 

It was nice to have Wade back in town for a variety of reasons.  They didn’t have to stay in sullen silence.  They could cheer each other up, distract each other for now and face the rest of it all later.

He nodded against her but didn’t move immediately. 

He didn’t stop Gwen from doing so this time, though, so she turned and pushed up his mask to kiss him. How he ever slept with even this flimsier one on she’d never fully understand; why he did it was another discussion entirely. 

She kissed him, and once he was responding a little more she pushed him onto his back so she could shimmy down his body and get her mouth onto him.  He’d been about half mast already but slowly came to full attention.  He just had to worm his way out of his head first. 

Fuck Gwen...”

“Mmhmm...” 

Her hum pulled another not-quite-coherent curse from him, making Gwen smile even with a full mouth.  She hollowed her cheeks to suck more insistently, and a hand flew to the back of her head to press her down.  She allowed this and managed until his hips came up thrusting too hard and made her gag.  Her shoulders heaved involuntarily, and the hand backed off of its own accord, fisting into the nearest blanket instead.  She spared a hand to stroke along his pelvis and squeeze his hip lightly to stave off his gasped apology.

His hips began to stutter up again, so Gwen grasped both and pressed him down firmly  to suck him in slowly and deeply.

“Fuuuuuck...”

She pulled away completely, then, but held him lightly.

“Take your mask of, Wade,” she was breathing a little unevenly.

“Wh--” he sputtered, lifting his head to gaze down his body at her.

“Take it off,” she repeated. “ I want you to...’

Wade cursed and threw his head back.  She’d gotten him into this state and then asked something of him?  Sure he had played this sort of game with her before, but she’d never given it back in turn.

Fuck all.

“It’s dark. I just w--”

He groaned and ripped it off to toss away. 

Her lips began to part around him again, but he grasped her shoulders and hauled her up him to kiss her deeply.  Roughly.  He didn’t know why he was so desperate and consuming about it, only that the thrill of lust was whipping up his anger, guilt, relief, fear, and gratitude into something that felt incredibly urgent.

As soon as Gwen was squirming for any bit of friction, he grabbed her waist and continued pulling her up his body.  She figured him out after a few moments and arranged her weight on her knees to either side of his face.  The way he then grasped her thighs to pull her down and devour her core was as desperate as the kiss.  He heard her grab his old metal headboard to steady herself and didn’t even care if she broke it.

“Wade....”

He reached one hand up to clutch at her chest, the other stayed clamped on her hip.

“Oh...”

Her hand covered his, not to yank away his groping but to press him closer.  To just hold on.  He could feel her toes curl against his shoulder, and her moaning ticked up a notch in volume.

Eureka.

He brought both hands to her waist to push her back, rousing a surprised whimper from her lips. 

“Don’t worry; I’ve got you...”

He gave her a fairly hefty shove, lest her strength catch her balance, onto her back and shifted  down the bed to cover her body and make quick work of thrusting into her.

“Ngh!” she clung immediately to his shoulders.

Yes.

He bent one of her legs up and wasted no time.  He was hard, she was wet -fuuuuck.

And it wasn’t gentle even though one corner of his mind thought it ought to be.  Gwen could take it, particularly if her moaning and scratching and gasping of “yes” was anything to go by.

She could take anything he threw at her. 

Anything. Anything.

If he was an asshole for enjoying it, then fine; he’d been called a monster for worse reasons.  She would stop him if she wanted to - and he’d listen.  Shit, he would listen to any word out of her damn mouth.  But until then he was going to take control; he was going to take every inch she allowed him.

“Where you goin’?”

Wade propped his weight on one arm and shoved his other hand under Gwen’s hips to jerk them closer when the arching of her back had managed to tilted them away from him.  He was not inspired to slow down, however.

Because he did know this urgent feeling, the desperation clawing to be acknowledged.  It would scare the hell out of him if he let it, but he had to chase it.  He just wasn’t clear if he was chasing it away or chasing after it.

“Right.  There...”

Gwen’s words were punctuated by her breath catching with his thrusts. He heard her, though.

Loud and clear.

But he extracted himself, this time earning a verbal complaint.  He ducked down between her legs instead, and then she wasn’t complaining ....except she was again soon because he was teasing.  She even babbled out an apology for teasing him, which he mostly ignored except to bite into her thigh.

It wasn’t paybacks. It was his attempt to keep them floating there in a hazy limbo of pleasure instead of crashing back into reality and responsibility and thinking. He’d rather just feel good in his skin right now and forget who the hell he was.

He suspected she preferred it, too.  She’d suggested the distraction, after all...

 

 

When Gwen woke up the next morning still sideways in bed, she was alone except for the blankets and pillows.  She could hear quiet moving around in the apartment, so she got up to investigate and join Wade after pulling clothes back on.  She was a little sore but it would soon fade.  Besides, it was a nice sore, not a beat-around-while-on-patrol sore.

Out in the living room, all of Wade’s boards were back out. 

Right.

Coffee and then back to real life.

Chapter Text


 

The week was dragging. 

Gwen and Wade had had a blow-out, and Wade was now down a lamp along with the card table he hadn’t yet replaced.  He claimed he was shopping around and comparing prices like a good consumer, but Gwen doubted this very much.

He had blown his cool when she reported back a message from  Amelia that Sebastian was out of town.  No, Wade, not skipping town, just up to something.’  ‘Yes, she expected him back soon.’  ‘Yes, I just said so -- I’m sure.’

Boom.

Shattered lamp. 

Just like that.

It hadn’t helped either of them that Gwen had been tired and cranky at the time.  However, it was not her fault that Amelia kept weird hours - weird even by Gwen's Spidey standards - so making time to try to see her was a damn chore.  Still, she had known Wade was strung tight about her going off on her own to see the woman in the first place.

Not that she should have dared take a breath to apologize for being short with him. That had only angered him --‘stop fucking apologizing like you’re the problem!’

‘Well what do you want me to say then?’

‘I don’t know!  Something better!’

And round and round they went until they grumpily remembered they were on the same side.  Even so, they had made sure to sleep at their respective apartments for a couple nights.  After seeing so much of each other and being far too stressed, the breathing room had been nice.

 

They were both tucked away safely at Wade’s apartment again in due time, though.  Gwen had even brought a couple blankets over because his place had been feeling a little drafty but he would not condescend to change what he felt was best on the thermostat. She thought perhaps this was a ploy to maintain closer proximity between them, but, in any case, he hadn’t chucked her blankets into the trash and had even allowed them on his bed. 

She was nestled comfortably beneath one of them right up until her eyes snapped open and she sat up with a small gasp.

Her eyes adjusted quickly to the dark. She knew where she was as soon as she took in the cluttered dresser and the wide TV mounted on the wall.

“Okay,” she tried to comfort herself and breathe normally despite the way her heart was racing from her dream.

Nightmare, rather.

She glanced at Wade, who was flopped on his back with one arm dangling over the edge of the bed.   He appeared every bit dead to the world, so her little panic must have been quiet.  She was glad not to have woken him even if a selfish part of her would have been glad for a little comfort.

But it was only a nightmare.   

Quiet like a mouse, she twisted out of bed and crept carefully over whatever debris Wade had left laying around the last few days until she get to the hallway.

 

Wade himself woke to relative quiet and for a moment he wasn’t sure why.  It was likely that he’d just prematurely had enough sleep for the night as usual.  Or perhaps he had farted himself awake again... because that had happened to him more times than one might hope.  Before he could decide if that was the case, he heard the telltale signs of peeing.

Gwen. 

Fine.  Nothing to be concerned about.  He rolled onto his side thinking it might be nice to crash for at least a couple more hours. That was never something that happened quickly for him, however, so he heard the toilet flush and the bathroom door reopen.  Gwen didn’t return as expected; instead he heard her move further away down the hall.  Still no biggy; she was free to grab food and drinks and ....was she leaving?

He distinctly heard his sliding door - her favored entry and egress point - glide open and then back closed. The rest of his sleep forgotten, he hopped out of bed.  Gwen was no prisoner, but leaving in the middle of the night was his modus operandi, not hers. 

The change was worth investigation. 

Once he was in the living room he could see her through the glass of the sliding door just standing out on the balcony. She didn’t look ready to hop the railing, wasn’t even dressed properly.  She was just wearing her Midtown t-shirt and stupid black joggers - he’d never actually seen her go jogging in them, so the title was suspect in his eyes.  For someone who’d been complaining about winter and fussing about the temperature of his apartment, she was being awfully cavalier now even though all the meteorologists were predicting snow any second.

“Reenacting Frozen, now, are we?” he asked once he peeled the door back.

She turned to give him a half-hearted smile.

“No, but I know someone who could.”

“Yeah, yeah; you’re not special.  We all know Storm ... ...you comin’ back in?”

“In a minute...”

Wade watched her pressing herself tightly into the corner of the railing like he might try to grab her and physically haul her back into the apartment.  He wasn’t offended because, honestly, he wasn’t above doing that kind of thing. But he was apparently awake for the long haul now, so he could dive deep into this.

“So what gives?”

“Just a bad dream...”

Well, Wade of all people couldn’t give her a hard time about that.   He stepped back inside and closed the door to trudge back to his room and snatched up the foreign blankets she had specifically brought in to invade the place.  Then he headed back outside and dropped into his lonely patio chair, which was a cold shock to the system until his body quickly acclimated.

“C’mon,” he hooked a finger into the back of her silly pants.

She swatted him away the first time, but when he staged a second attack she let him tug her back and down into his lap so he could throw blankets over them.  Gwen settled easily into the little cocoon and also twisted so she could pull her feet up because the ridiculous woman hadn’t even put on socks. 

It was clear she did not know how to properly plan a little freak-out.

He'd have to teach her sometime. 

“You didn’t dream of my face did you?”

She reached out of the impromptu swaddle to smack the side of his head lightly.

“No”

“If you so say,” he kissed the side of her head in retaliation.

He squeezed her tightly against his broad chest for a few seconds.  She never really protested him doing that even though sometimes when he did it the intention was to be pesky.  It must be comforting in some fashion, though he thought it would be claustrophobic if the roles were swapped.  Even waking up cuddled together too close felt confining some nights and he had to detangle.

Sometimes.

Always worth the risk.

“What’s got Spidey’s skin crawling, then?”

“I’m okay,” Gwen nuzzled against his torso like she somehow wanted to burrow closer.

He thought he’d let her if it was possible.

“Didn’t say you weren’t.”

She paused as if considering this and then shrugged, realizing it was true.

“I think it’s just something your favorite pal said...”

“Dopinder? “

She rolled her eyes.  He couldn’t see it from the angle of her profile, but he knew anyway that she had done it.

“Sam.”

“What’d he do?”

Had a nice run with the guy, but I guess he’s over now. Done.

Something irritated must have been in his voice because her own tone when she responded was pacifying.

“Nothing bad ...he was just checking in to see how I was doing.  He was talking about ...I guess just trauma and how it effects people...”

“Mmm,” Wade grunted. “Maybe he should teach Stark that shit...”

“Anyway ...I told him I was fine and he wasn’t really having it...”

“Was it a lie?” Wade blinked off into the darkness in the alley behind the apartment.

This was probably the kind of thing he should have been asking her and keeping an eye on. She was in and out of shit every other night, after all; that wasn’t something to be dismissed.  Probably.  He wasn’t the best judge of normal.

“I don’t know ...sometimes I just,” she shifted on his legs and it wasn’t exactly comfortable but he let it go. “...I concentrate on how I help people and try to avoid thinking too much about what I’m helping them with or saving them from ...but it’s there and it is scary...”

Wade knew it was. 

It took a hell of a lot to get to him, but he’d had way more time to get jaded and numb.  He’d suspected the worst in humanity growing up in an abusive home and confirmed this in the Army when he was just nineteen, and shit had just gotten muddier from there.  Maybe Gwen had had her own suspicions about the world growing up with a cop for a dad, but all accounts pointed to George Stacy being a stand-up guy.  He’d likely done his best to shield her from a lot - like a normal fucking dad, in other words.   She’d waded in incrementally a little later in life with the fighting and the Sister Margaret’s and the Spidey escapades.  She was in the middle of shit creek, now.

“I think I just get through by telling myself I’m strong enough to protect  myself from it...”

“Ain’t wrong there.”

“Maybe...”

“M’sorry; have you found someone who can kick your ass?”

“I get hurt, too..”

“Okay, yeah...”

It was perfectly true.  Knocks to the head, bruises, a little broken bone or two, and he knew she’d gotten shot before.  She was only one person, after all.  She healed faster than an average Joe, but still...

“And I can’t help everyone.”

There it is.

“That ain’t your fault.”

See what all that hero nonsense got you?  A fucking complex.

“I know...”

“You would if you could - that’s what matters.”

Wade probably wasn’t qualified for this conversation and he definitely didn’t have the same bleeding heart connection to the world as she did, but he knew some truths.  One of them was that Gwen had the right intentions.  She shouldn’t fret her little head.

“I know ...I know one person can’t be everywhere and I need to have a life ...it’s just that I know what’s happening, or what could be happening.  I’ve seen it...”

He nodded.

“That doesn’t really go away...” he wished there was something better to tell her.

She sighed into him.

“Sam thinks I should go to group therapy.  Says it helps to know you’re not alone...”

“Probably true,” Wade mentally retracted the idea of canceling his friendship with the other man.  “You gonna go?”

He felt her shrug again.

“What the hell would I say?  I’d have to lie.  Seems like that defeats the purpose...”

“Maybe Sammy needs to start a vigilante support group.”

“That’ll go over well...”

They both chuckled, Gwen wondering what it would take to get Tony’s participation and Wade visualizing Bruce hulking-out when his feelings became too much. 

“Do you think he’s right?  That I need therapy?”

Yeah, he was so not qualified for this conversation.

“...did he say he thought you need it?  You in particular? Or just that it’s helpful?”

Gwen quietly contemplated the subtle difference.

“I guess just that it’s beneficial in general...that I shouldn’t feel bad if I want help.”

He let her sit with that.  Sometimes less was more. It wasn’t always the kind of advice that he lived by, but he had heard that it was true.

“Have you ever been to therapy?”

“Oh, yeah, every Wednesday I go to counseling to discuss my penchant for violence and my crippling insecurity --oof...”

He stopped when she poked him hard in the sternum.

“I just thought maybe in the Army you had to or something...”

“Nah ...”

He had been forced to go in grade school after his dad had gone to jail once, but he didn’t want to talk about that. Anyway, it hadn’t been anything special: chatting, drawing a picture of what he considered home, and a school shrink talking to him in a tone he had thought, even then, was overly-coddling.  Schmucks.

“... ...I dreamed birds were pecking me apart.”

Eh, well that was pretty shitty and, sure, he could see how that might connect to Sam’s attempt at being helpful.

“...what kind?”

“What?”

He was probably being a dick, but he’d already started so it was time to lean into it.

“What kind of bird? Pretty big difference if it’s eagles or, like, hummingbirds or some shit.. “

Thankfully Gwen chuckled and just slouched down a bit so she could pull the blanket closer around her shoulders.

“Pigeons”

“Fuck...”

“Yeah, and I usually get along with pigeons.  I see them all the time up on rooftops...”

“I know.  I got shat on once trying to meet up with you.”

“I remember that...” Gwen smiled.

“Yeah, yeah, yuck it up,” he scoffed airily. “And, look, don’t be scared of birds.  I’ll kill all the fuckin’ birds, alright?”

He felt her laugh, and she hummed in acknowledgement. They fell quiet a little while after that, and Wade tried to ignore his cold feet.  He was uncomfortable, but he didn’t want to be the one who called ‘Uncle’ first and go inside.  He wouldn’t be.  His cells would re-grow even if it got cold enough to give him frostbite out there.

“It’s chilly,” Gwen said after a time.

Interesting news, Blondie-I hadn’t even noticed that.

“Oh, yeah ...a bit.”

“Come on...”

She started to dislodge the blanket, but Wade stood up first still wrapped like a blanket burrito.

“I thought I was supposed to be carrying you over the thresholds these days,” Gwen recalled.

“I’m still down for it if you ever bother to offer, Princess.  I’m just waiting for my moment to shine....”

But he wasn’t actually sore about it as he freed a hand to shove the door open and stroll back inside. Wade wiggled his toes gleefully in the carpet and then slid the door closed with his elbow.

“Doth the madame want to return to the bed, or would’st thou rather  lounge on thy royal couch for a cinematic viewing experience?” he swayed dramatically in the living room.

“Movie, definitely.”

“As she wishes -- oh, goddamnit! Perfect Princess Bride opportunity right there...” Wade stomped a foot.

Despite this critical disappointment, they settled on the couch for a late-night movie session.  Wade had tentatively made jokes about watching The Birds, and even though Gwen didn’t actually kill him for it, he made a lighter selection.  Soon they were watching ‘A League of Their Own’ because Tom Hanks was a damn dream and Geena Davis was a badass - ‘don’t fight me on it, Blondie.’

Gwen stayed by his side and tucked under his arm except for when he got up to make some popcorn.  She showed no signs of wanting to chat further, but she stuck close and wrapped herself around him.  He was comforting her again, finally.  It wasn’t him with the bad dreams and the anger or other bullshit.

He was probably going to hell for loving it. 

He was used to tearing things apart; he was happy with the reminder that she trusted him to hold her together, too.  Was it possible to get high on a feeling?

Totes happening.

“Do you think I’m arrogant?”

‘A League of Their Own’ was finished by the time Gwen piped up with this query.  They had somehow wound up watching ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and Wade had been pointing out that the movie was like their friendship, how he’d gradually lulled her into trusting him.  Gwen had shot down his theories, however, so he’d eventually hushed up. 

Apparently he should have kept yapping because lack of conversation had let her wheels get turning.

“Come again?”

“I know you think I’m a silly, bleeding heart to begin with, an--”

“Or another interpretation is that you’re brave and selfless,” he wasn’t willing to let her just use his jokes against him like that.

“And now I’m complaining that I can’t save everyone...”

Wade laughed in her face.  He knew it wasn’t particularly kind, but it did perfectly express how ludicrous he thought this line of questioning was.

“That’s not the right definition of arrogant, baby girl.”

“But --”

“Nope.”

“I’m just---”

“Zip it,” Wade folded his arm to land his hand over her mouth.

She groaned and drooped into his side. They sat this way for a while, his warm hand covering half of her face while they just breathed and watched. Once his fingers went a little limp, Gwen brushed his wide mitt away and opened her mouth again.

“Arrogant would be if you thought you were in the only person who could help,” Wade overrode her before she could even begin. “Or if you didn’t accept help or some other shit.  Now shuddup; I wanna watch the dragons...”

Gwen turned her face into his side and heaved a sigh.

“I should get some sleep...” her voice was muffled against his skin but he could hear her well enough. 

“Yeah, probably should...”

Neither budged.

“Are you gonna come?”

“Nah...”

Gwen’s next grumbling was less intelligible, but that only lasted a moment and then she kissed his side.  Rather than actually go to bed, she rearranged herself and laid with her head on his thigh to rest there.  Wade wordlessly grabbed the remote to turn the volume down and then dropped a hand into her hair to twirl the short locks around his fingers.  He traced mindlessly along her scalp, then her ear...jaw...shoulder...the bare arm that laid free from her blanket...

“Mmmm, tickles,” she complained softly, squirming when the pads of his fingers brushed past her elbow.

“Alright, babe,” he breathed and rubbed her bicep more firmly to chase away the tingle, and then he stilled his hands to leave her alone.

 

Wade remained awake through the last of the early morning darkness. Once the sun began to rise, he got up to take her to bed so she could sleep properly.  She had to get up in a couple hours and go to her normal-ass job in the real world.

“Shh, shhh,” he huffed at her after she startled when he tried to get his arms under her.

“Ugh, time’s it?” she stood up on her own, completely ruining the favor he was trying to do her.

“Not work time yet,” he promised her, “C’mon...”

He shepherded her sleepy self down the hall and nudged her into bed.  She crawled in without fuss but immediately grabbed for her phone.

“You already set that,” he reminded her.

“Well you’d let me sleep through work,” she grumbled while she double-checked.

He’d done it before and, given the fact that he’d found it quite amusing, she didn’t put it past him to do it again.

“Not today I won’t,” he leaned around her to take the phone away and toss it back onto the night stand.  “You’re so fussy...c’mon, c’mon...”

He didn’t know that he would sleep himself, but he laid with her and spooned himself around her.

“You should just quit anyway,” he spoke into the back of her neck.

“Can’t.”

“Won’t,” he corrected her grumpy little grunt.


 

Unfortunately, it only took a few days for Gwen to nearly forget that she’d been so grateful and, frankly, needy with Wade.

He’d picked a fight, and this time in the morning to boot.  She was tired from being out late again a couple nights after patrol, annoyed and a bit embarrassed over a story that had been edited to shreds at work, frustrated with fending-off Steve’s questions, and guilty that nothing was coming together quite right. Gwen had tried to fend him off by telling him all of this, and she really should have known better because then he felt guilty.  She was coming to learn that Wade really didn’t know what to do with himself when he felt ineffectual.

It hadn’t helped that he was practically beside himself that Sebastian was back in the city and that Gwen had seen him but he so far hadn’t offered information of substance.

“You can’t go back.”

“Excuse me? “

It was true that Gwen had delegated herself to taking his lead, but this sudden denial had felt irksome.

“He’s on to you,” he’d worried on. “He doesn’t believe the Maxine Grey alias...”

“I dunno,” Gwen calmed and tried to be optimistic. “Tony really helped me flesh out the background on the identity.  Someone would have to dig really deep;  deeper than JARVIS.”

“Stark makes mistakes”

“I mean, yeah, but not very often...”

Wade had broken a barstool after that comment.

He’d nearly broken the other one when she brought up Jessica Jones again, wondering aloud if they couldn’t pay her to tail Sebastian for them. Oh, but why the fuck would she want to do that when Wade should be the one tracking him?

Reminding him that he wasn’t known for his subtly lately had not been the correct way to answer that question. As a result, he had now declared that he wanted Jessica involved in this at precisely never o’clock.

“Okay...”

“Don’t fucking talk to me in that tone!” he wasn’t at all calmed. “Don’t patronize me -- Jesus!”

“Well I don’t know how to talk to you when you’re like this!”  Gwen was rarely a shouter but she had shouted at him.

She’d immediately been reminded of her tantrum in Stark’s penthouse because she’d felt similar standing there staring at Wade while he took his anger out on his refrigerator, attempting to violently shake it. Too many emotions were rippling around right under the surface of her, ready to overwhelm her.  She needed sleep, she needed more time to breathe, and she just needed something to fucking give. What she’d gotten instead was an irate Wade Wilson.

Gwen didn’t want to be mad at him.

But she was...

 

“Gwen, you alright?” MJ nudged her shoulder.

Blinking, Gwen realized she’d zoned out hard where she stood at the bar with the redhead.

“Oh...yeah, sorry,” she nodded.

She’s come out after work to meet up with the girls so she could have the break she’d been craving earlier.  She felt a modicum of guilt, but she needed to relax.  So there the the ladies stood, patiently waiting on their next round.  This wasn’t Sister Margaret’s with a dingy interior and even dingier clientele.  No, this bar near the law firm where MJ worked had things like specialty cocktails, matching barstools, and tabletops that were actually wiped down regularly.

“Someone catch your eye over there,” MJ smirked.

Gwen, too, now glanced down the sleek bar where a few men had claimed seats.  They looked a little older than the girls but not enough to be inappropriate, so Gwen grasped at the excuse for her lapse in attention.

“Can you blame me?”

“Nope,” the other woman laughed. “You should send the one in the red a drink; you like beards, right?”

“Sure, but I can’t do that,” Gwen refused outright.

It was too bold of a move for her.  Objectively, she thought she was attractive, but when it came to men, she sometimes forgot she wasn’t a 14-year-old nerd anymore. 

That never seemed to be the case around Wade, but he was a special case somehow.

“You look cute tonight,” MJ interrupted that thought. “I’ll do it for you,” she immediately tried to flag down their bartender.

“No,” Gwen snatched her arm and tucked it right back into her side. MJ had always been more of an extrovert than Gwen, and she’d never had many qualms when it came to men; she’d never been shy about getting a prom date and still wasn’t hesitant to talk to guys in bars. Allegedly she had a boyfriend now, but Gwen had yet to meet this Peter.

“You’re such a worrier ...he’s sexy...”

This was true enough. The man in question had well-groomed facial hair, an angular, almost pretty, face, and appeared trim in his fitted dress shirt. It looked like he knew how to dress and hold himself; perhaps that spoke to some well-positioned job.  Maybe he was even successful.  Would she care if he was?

Gwen glanced away to try to determine if the bartender was finished with their order yet so they could retreat back to their seats. The next thing she knew, MJ was wiggling her fingers in a small wave, having caught eyes with someone down the bar -- Gwen didn’t dare look to see if it was beard boy or not.

“What would Peter think,” she tried to shame her friend’s flirtatiousness.

“I dunno; convince one of those guys to double-date with us and maybe you’ll find out.”

“I hate you.”

“You love me,” MJ kissed her cheek and then gave the bartender a hearty thank you when their drinks were indeed set before them.

“Thanks,” Gwen was more subdued as she dropped down her cash and picked up her glass to head back to their booth.

Betty was there, too, but she had hardly touched her second drink and was typing madly on her cellphone screen.  She was having trouble leaving work at work tonight.

“You won’t talk to cute boys and she won’t even look up from her phone; why are we all friends again?” MJ hadn’t completely given up the topic as she slid into her seat across from the brunette and Gwen sank back down beside her.

“Who’re you trying to hook Gwen up with?” Betty had heard every word though she’d never looked up from her phone.

“Literally anyone.”

“Cut it out”

“You’re not a drama nerd anymore!  You look good, you have your own place, you have a job where you take care of business ...it’s the perfect time to be out there,” MJ complained.

“She just wants someone to double date with,” Gwen looked away from the taller girl and towards Betty, hoping for some backup.

“No doubt ... ...she’s right, though. When’s the last time you even went on a date?” Betty did look up thoughtfully then.

Great.  She finally pulled herself into the conversation and it was to bully against Gwen with MJ.  Just perfect.

“Harry?” Betty answered herself.

“No, Miles-- but that was still quite a while ago,” MJ recalled with annoying accuracy.

“Guys, I didn’t come out tonight to talk about my love life ...or lack of love life ...or double dates ...or whether or not I like beards.  Can we not?”

“Fine; buy four cats instead. Let me tell you about this client...”

MJ got off her case fairly easily, but the entire conversation had not helped Gwen’s mood very much.  She was thinking about Wade again as MJ launched into her tale -- she always ended up with some pretty good work stories.  She wondered what it would be like to tell these two about Wade. Neither girls were prudes and they’d known each other since before any of them had their first kisses, so they’d love some juicy bedroom stories ...but what about Wade himself?  Would she ever introduce him to them?  Not as Deadpool, obviously, but just as himself ...even then, what would MJ think if she brought him to a double-date?

And why was she even thinking of him in terms of introducing him to her anyway?  They weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend.  They were friends. Well, okay, they were something more than just friends, but they weren’t in bring-him-home-to-the-girls territory, right?

She shouldn’t even be entertaining any lovey-dovey musings while they were in a snit like this. Shit was going down. It was no time to try to smack a label on him.

MJ, who was mid-story about an irate client who’d been escorted from their building earlier that week, stopped abruptly when a server appeared at their table with a small tray of drinks.

“Umm...” Betty, who’d  actually been paying attention to the story rather than her pone, looked from the drinks to both of her friends in turn since they’d been the ones to venture to the bar.

“No, we didn’t--” Gwen began.

“Sounds like there was a mutual admiration society up at the bar,” the voluptuous , middle-aged waitress chuckled and began handing over the drinks.

Gwen’s eyes fell shut, mildly embarrassed for being caught in said admiration.  Then, on the other end of the spectrum, there was MJ who twisted in her seat to send a smile straight to the men. Gwen wasn’t sure she’d every fully understand how she did it.  Sure, as Spider Woman, Gwen would literally dive head-first into the melee and try to take on anyone.  Even at her day job, with a press ID, she was willing to be nosey or pushy. As regular old Gwen, though, she would rather avoid scenes and people she didn’t know.  She’d be silly with her friends all day, but the prospect of the two strangers now approaching their table made her insides squirm.

The men, Avery and Dean, they soon learned, were perfectly nice--extroverted enough to come over but polite enough to be descent about it.  Gwen couldn’t and wouldn’t argue that, but it didn’t mean she particularly enjoyed them.  Conversation, at least on her part, felt stilted and unnatural.  It essentially ruined the evening for her. She’d wanted to catch up with her friends and enjoy calm company, but she felt uncomfortable instead.  It made her feel guilty, too, like she was out here for frivolous reasons.

“And I need to have a life...

Still true, but this wasn’t specifically the way she wanted to do that.  The smiling and the flirting made her think of Wade; making comparisons was inevitable.  Undoubtedly, this was the more normal life she was supposed to try to live, and who knew if it would ever be possible with Wade.  She didn’t feel like this stunted, awkward, half-person with Wade, though; she never had.

She started to miss him while she sat there. Even though they’d argued, even though he’d grated at her every nerve that morning  She missed him in her chest like an ache.

“I should get going,” her announcement was unceremonious and cut of Dean, who apparently also worked in law and was still around chatting animatedly with MJ about some mandate that Gwen had totally 100% been paying attention to --wink!

“It’s still early,” Betty complained at her.

But it wasn’t Gwen’s fault that Betty had only now extracted herself from her work emails, was it?

“Sorry ...Chinese food and a movie night at my place soon,” Gwen offered up her plans for their next get together.

“...sure.  Want me to wait with you for an Uber?”

“No, no. I’ll order it while I’m in the bathroom...later MJ.  Bye, Dean,” she bid the others after bestowing Betty a one-armed hug in their side of the booth.

Gwen did not, in fact, need an Uber.  Wade’s apartment wasn’t that far from the bar they’d chosen, and a brisk walk would do her well. So, hands shoved into her pockets, she steered in his direction.  Darkness came early given the time of year and she would not have allowed either of her friends to walk home alone -- not with the sort of bullshit she’d broken up on the streets, no sir -- but she would be fine.

The ache in her chest gnawed at her a bit as her feet beat along the sidewalk.  Would they argue again despite her wanting to call a truce? 

She’d left his apartment that morning before there was any real closure to the discussion -- this being a generous descriptor -- because, as she’d snapped, it was hard to get ready in his apartment since he’d long ago hidden the bathroom mirror in the closet of his spare room. He’d spat right back that she wouldn’t be so fond of mirrors if she had a mug like his. It had been a good thing she’d already been headed out the door by then because the self-deprecation would’ve just been the cherry on top of her ire

She shoved the memories of the argument aside because she wasn’t angry now. No, she was ...nervous.  She didn’t want them to push each other away, not when they had scraped so far to get to this pivotal juncture.  They needed to just finish this thing and then they could figure the rest of it out. But ...figure out the rest of what?  Convincing her to help him in this hunt had drawn them back together, so what would they need to figure out once it was over? Once the commission was filled.

Her feet faltered at this thought, this idea that had never occurred to her.

But, no, she was being stupid. She wasn’t a mercenary pulling gold cards anymore. They were friends ...or whatever.  Not every single thing they did revolved around Wade’s vendetta; they’d spent time tracking on her patrols, her Avengers shenanigans, and whatever other fun or angst came up. 

Right. 

She returned to her regular pace after swatting down this insecurity. It must’ve been residual feelings from the awkwardness that MJ had drudged up at the bar.  She and Wade were ...fine.  The gnawing in her chest lingered, but it still wasn’t the time for labels so she did her best to stamp it down.

Gwen didn’t often go to Wade’s the traditional route, but she knew the way into his lobby and up to the front door like a normal person. She got no answer for her efforts, however.

“Wade?” she added when she knocked a second time because she could easily imagine him lounging around unwilling to answer for someone he wasn’t expecting.

But she heard nothing inside.

Curious but unwilling to admit defeat, she went outside around the back of the building and crawled up the wall to enter via his balcony.  Sure enough, the place was empty.  Due to the evening’s apparent penchant for catastrophic thinking, she immediately worried that he’d skipped town to take a job or, even worse, that he had charged off to do something foolhardy involving Amelia or Sebastian.  When her rational mind kicked in, it reminded her there were numerous things he could be doing that might not be destructive at all.

 

Gwen wasn’t willing to chase down all of those possibilities, though, and this time did summon an Uber to take her home.  She could just as easily have donned the suit she now stashed at his place and gone on patrol, but she felt weary and home sounded much better.

Thinking that she should get some work done while lounging around for the night, Gwen trudged up to her apartment. She was inside for about 10 whole second before she felt another presence. She thought she would have tensed up except that her body knew who it was before her brain completely realized it.  But of course she knew the long, thick lump on her bed. 

She smiled a little to know that he’d been right there while she was out looking for him.

The lights were off in the area around her bed, and he had not reacted to her entrance despite the fact she hadn’t purposefully been quiet.  Maybe that wasn’t too shocking, though; he’d been sleeping even less than usual and he did always claim to like her pad. Oddly, he wasn’t sleeping on the side of the bed closest to the door like he usually favored.  He was on the far side and turned away towards the window; had he expected her to come home that way after patrol?  That was probably hubris talking, but she kind of liked the idea anyway.

Gwen managed to make it all the way to the bed without rousing him.  Smiling, she deposited her mail on her beside table for later and shed her coat.  For a few moments she just stared at him, the bulk of his body rising and falling slowly under her blankets and comforter.

The ache in her chest tightened up, and, even though she really did want to leave him be, she moved onto the bed.  Wade’s breath hitched once the bed dipped too closely to him, but she managed to spoon herself behind him before he was aware enough to turn around.

“Got you,” she settled in, tucking her chin against his shoulder to speak.

“Like I made it hard,” he cleared his throat after his voice came out a little scratchy.

He did make it hard sometimes, but Gwen didn’t say so. 

Wade started to shift around, but she tightened her hold on him to stop the attempt.  He went perfectly still, but she could feel that his muscles remained tense. The ache in her chest made itself known again as she imagined that he was ready for her to pick the argument right back up and tell him off.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured instead.

His back went rigid, and she could practically feel the words that were preparing to bubble from his chest.  She squeezed him tightly to stop them before any could make it out of his throat.

“I am; I’m sorry that I can’t do more for you.  I know it’s not my fault,” she quickly added, reading the twitch of his arm as an urge to break her hold and shout her down. “I’m just so fucking sorry that none of this is going the way you want yet,” she tried to place an emphasis on this last word. A moment passed and she kissed his shoulder, thoughtful over having command of the floor since he still wasn’t speaking up.

“I ...I care about you a lot, and I can’t imagine how all of this feels for you,” she planted another kiss on him, this time at the strip of flesh exposed between his thin mask and the collar of the shirt he was wearing.

Some tension seemed to leak from him, so she kissed his neck again.

“I want to be more patient,” her breath ghosted over his neck, making him shudder. “Just ...try to stop feeling guilty about my involvement or me being tired or whatever. I mean, ya know, help me if you can but ...my discomfort is temporary.  I’m all in.”

It was a big ask, ambitious even, but worth it.

“You’re perfect,” he finally spoke again after a few moments of quiet when it was clear she’d said all she wanted to for now.

“Stop,” she tucked her head against the back of his mask.

“What? You can say all the shit you want and I can’t?” he put as much impudence into his tone as he could muster while more-or-less pinned into place.

“Perfect is too much for anyone,” Gwen nuzzled the fabric that was hiding his scalp.

“Then you’re a false fucking idol...”

Gwen snorted and they lapsed back into silence. She loosened her hold on him into something cozier, but he chose to remain where he was anyway. It was nice, quietly breathing together for a while.

“So, uh ...how much?”

Gwen frowned in confusion.

“Is this a hooker joke?”

It was his turn to snort.

“No.  How much do you care about me?”

“A lot,” she repeated herself.

“How much?”

“A whole ton.”

“Aw, c’mon, how much...”

“Ugh, only a little bit,” she released him and rolled away, smacking his ass for good measure.

“Nah, that’s not what you said!” he chortled and promptly twisted around to wrap his arms around her where she now laid on her back.

He tried to twist his leg around hers, too, but she was still on top of the covers and he couldn’t quite get her.  Gwen didn’t try to worm away, though. She just lifted a hand to trace along the arm over her chest.

“C’mon; how much?  Say it again; say it again,” he shook her lightly where they lay.

Gwen heaved a dramatic sigh.

“Wade ...ya are my best friend and we’ve been through a whoooole heap togetha’ and I really really need you,” she managed in a Jamaican accent before smirking .

“I thought you said you weren’t perfect!” Wade laughed. “Everything John Candy touched was magic; this is why I love you.”

The statement seized the gnawing feeling in Gwen’s chest, and her heart began to race spastically enough that she worried Wade could hear it where his head rested on her shoulder.  He did not seem phased by what he said, however ...it was just a turn of speech.

Duh.

“I figured you’d like that,” she quickly returned.

She didn’t like what that word had done to her, even as Wade continued to chuckle where he lay.

“So how long have you been here?” she deflected.

“Few hours.”

“Should I have left you to it?” Gwen checked, turning her face fully to him.

With his mask on she couldn’t make out how worn or tired he looked, but her estimate was: very.

“No, you’re much more interesting.”

Now that he had her full attention he willingly lifted the bottom of his mask and leaned up to kiss her.  It was slow and lazy; he made no attempt to crawl up her, which was just as well.  There was plenty they could do while on her period, of course, but she rarely found the mood to.  Wade himself didn’t turn up his nose at sex while on the rag -- red was his color and he was willing to ride the crimson wave, thank you very fucking much -- but he knew her feelings on the matter and generally left well enough alone.  Not that he’d turn down a blowie or whatever other frottage she did decide she was game for. The lethargic kissing and soft, almost thoughtless, touching felt good enough that Gwen was actually leaning in that direction just before he pulled back and cocked his head.

“Have you been drinking?”

She laughed aloud.

“Yeah. I spent some time with MJ and Bets...”

“The hotties,” Wade’s voice was wistful.

Remembering his jokes about threesomes, Gwen cooled back off a bit.  She did nuzzle against his jaw briefly just to breath in the musky scent of his skin for a few more seconds.

“There was nothing sexy about it, so don’t get too excited,” she rested back on the pillows again.

“There’s something sexy about everywhere you go,” he said offhandedly while he propped himself up on an elbow.

Gwen would’ve told him that he was laying it on awfully thick, but she appreciated that they were casual and comfortable after their morning and the things she’d decided to say just now. If they needed to make light for a bit, so be it.

While he traced the ‘V’ neckline of her blouse with his free hand, she reached to click on her bedside lamp and picked up her mail.  Life hadn’t stopped just because she’d found Wade here; she should probably still do a little work tonight, too...

Due to being at Wade’s apartment she hadn’t grabbed her mail in a couple days, so there were a couple ads to throw out and some bills to set aside after she made a grumpy face at them.  As if it was the envelope’s fault that she had to pay for her phone and her electricity.

All the mail was bullshit.  Pretty typical.

“I’m gonna change,” she twisted to get off the bed.

“Hey,” Wade caught her to pull her back to him. “I care about you, too,” he added, squeezing his grip tight on her until she grunted.

“Yeah? How much?” she asked when he eased up.

“Meh, just a bit”

He heard her tut and then she tried to get up again, but he tugged her back into place.

“A fucking lot”

Gwen twisted to look over her shoulder, but his head was bowed so she couldn’t actually catch a real look at him. She stopped trying and relaxed. Wade took that as his cue to release her and let her up, swatting her ass in return before they both stood, though he passed her and strolled to the adjoining bathroom as if there was no more to say.

Gwen did not, in fact, wind up getting work done that evening.  Instead her success was convincing Wade she didn’t want to watch  Buffy the Vampire Slayer - yes she knew it was chock-full of girl power, but no her uterus wasn’t demanding such offerings, so shut up about it!


 

“...you forgive me for the vampire jokes?” Wade checked the next morning while he poured himself some coffee and helped himself to the sweet creamers she indulged in.

She was grumping around, and he was pretty sure it was just a general morning disposition but couldn’t quite be sure.

“I guess,” she yawned deeply and held out her mug so he’d top her off, too.

Yeah more coffee should cheer her up.

On weekends, Gwen, a fan of bacon and eggs, would usually make a nice breakfast. As it was currently a work day, however, they ate granola bars and oatmeal -- and, okay, Wade would also probably snag a McMuffin or two after he left because it wasn’t like gluttony could kill him.

Would be a good way to go, though....

“I was thinking...”

Wade had been in the process of lifting his mug for a sip, but he lowered it right back down.

“You’re so dramatic,” the woman across from him snorted. “This weekend I think we should go ahead and speed things up.  I should push more ...with Amelia, I mean,” she plowed right in, “and Sebastian, if he’s around.”

Wade’s eyes -- because he was mask-less this morning -- cut to her.  He said nothing, though his trigger finger tapped restlessly on the handle of his mug.

“What happened to subtle?”

“I think we can afford being less subtle ...I mean, I always let Steve know when I’m working on this, so even though they don’t know details The Avengers are essentially always on stand-by...”

She thought this bit of her reasoning would pull a protest from him, but he was staying surprisingly still and contemplative.

“True,” he finally nodded, though his eyes were studying her carefully.

“I know it’s risky and I’ve been the more risk-averse one,” she willingly admitted. “This whole thing has been a marathon, not a sprint, but ...” she sighed, unsure.

“It’s time for the home stretch,” Wade ran with the analogy as well as he ran with any new thing.

“It feels like it, yeah ...or at least I hope so...”

Gwen had laid in bed that morning thinking about how spent they’d both been recently, how long this had all been going on, and the agitated loop the pair had been repeating.  Suddenly it had just seemed obvious that enough was enough.  It was time to just go for it.  Not recklessly, per say. They did need to be careful, but to hell with it -- they could both afford to be bolder and handle some fall-out. If the Avengers or X-Men found out about it all after the fact then, well ...what could they do about it at that point? 

“If you think so.”

Those words surprised her.  He was in charge of this, after all.

Then again ...bold, pushy, and guns blazing was his standard M.O.  Though he was calling the shots, he had been holding back on her account. Gwen supposed she knew that, what with his preferences to just kidnap and beat information out of people rather than wait on subterfuge, but it still struck her.

“Yeah...yeah, I have a good feeling about it...”

“Famous last words, Blondie.”

“Shut up”

“...you mean it?”

“...yeah.  I do.”

“Girl, you have never been hotter to me...” he nodded at her.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Gwen looked down to study her pajamas.

“Practically scrumptious,” Wade didn’t take it back. “Delectable, even. Totally yummy!”

“You’re ruining this,” Gwen pushed herself back from the table and went to warm up her coffee with another top-off before getting ready for work.

“The tastiest morsel!”

“Ugh - get out of my apartment!”

“Never!” he shouted back like a cheer.

Gwen smirked and disappeared into the bathroom.