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Wade doesn’t like attention, looking the way he does.

He’s an amalgamation of pockmarks and ever-migrating scars, a lump of grinded-up chicken gizzards on two achy feet, an image that would send even a Xenomorph running for the hills. With all the flack received on a  daily basis, it didn’t take long to associate wandering eyes with disturbed mobs, judgemental looks, especially not when his appearance tended to resemble a mound of dirt-starved earthworms more so than anything even vaguely human. It’s only natural, that spotlight is an entity he’d want to avoid.

So avoid it he does- casually, and at all costs.

This is something he’s come to accept, for the most part, and so he bears his suit more often than not, even when it’s impractical, and doesn’t make a fuss of exposing himself when it’s absolutely necessary. Sometimes it’s rough, when his skin shifts and burns beneath the heavy fabric, catches and scratches and itches against the leather-spandex concoction, but he’s not one to complain, not when removing the mask would mean facing the always present (and always repulsed ) stare of onlookers.

Even when he’s around the people he trusts- or, more realistically, the one person he trusts, none other than Spider-man himself, Wade makes an effort to keep covered and conservative as much as he can reasonably manage. It’s not so much about Wade being insecure with the way he looks, with the ruined state of his complexion. It’s more an issue of driving his hero away, of yet another rejection, and that’s just not a rollercoaster he wants to buckle into anytime soon.

So while he’s not known for picking his battles, dealing with scowling passersby or offended grandmothers or disgusted vigilantes simply isn’t something he’s down to fuck with, especially not when he sympathizes with them - he knows better than anyone how much it fucking sucks to look at the charcuterie plate he calls a face. He tries to avoid sight of it at all costs, but even spoons give him the occasional jump-scare reflection, and he’s not about to give up ice cream and french onion soup because he can’t stomach the warped image of his own portrait.

His dismal looks have already ruined every and all social interactions, and, not to mention sex, for god’s sake, so he’s not about to let them take one of the few good things he has left.

Rocky Road is here for the long run, mottled franken-face or not.

Which is why he’s here, standing in the queue of the only ice cream joint open at two in the morning within a three-kilometre radius, with a hoodie that’s three sizes too large and a baseball cap pulled low over his forehead. Already knowing what he’s going to order, he keeps his head down, gaze trained on the tile floor through the tinted shades of his sunglasses, and waits for the person ahead of him to finish their business.

The establishment is tiny, a dive of a shop that’s occupied by an old refrigerated display case, an analog cash register, a chalk-board menu that looks like it’s not been changed since the cold war, and a handful of mismatched bistro chairs and tables. He’s been here before, dozens (if not hundreds) of times, and while there are only two real exit routes and flickering lights that make him uneasy on the best of nights, the other customers are usually just as seedy as he is, and he fits in seamlessly- as seamlessly as a Freddy Krueger cosplayer can look amongst a crowd of beer-scented men in striped sweaters, but it’s all the same.

As he’s come to expect from this storefront, aptly named Cream of the Crop, the other patrons don’t spare him a glance. Regardless, he tells himself that he’s doing them a favour, hiding his face like this. There are only a handful of them - a woman with curls halfway down to her ass, a Statler-and-Waldorf-looking duo of old men, and the guy ahead of him in line, a doe-eyed kid with a mop of brown hair who’s, more likely than not, total fucking jailbait.

Wade hopes not, because the thoughts that run positively rampant in his brain would be E. Presley levels of totally not fucking legal . He’d caught a glimpse of the kid when he walked in, rosy lips teasing between white teeth as he scanned the overhead menu, a backpack slung lazily down the obscene curve of his spine, and he’d taken extra caution keeping his mug down and out of sight. The last thing he had needed was yet another uninhibited glare of disgust, especially coming from someone that unfairly gorgeous.

Had his face been a little more hidden, and had he been wearing something that hugged his thighs at the very least , displayed his god-given-goods in literally any way , he knows he’d be all up in this guy’s business, pulling anything to get those huge hazel eyes to look up at him, even if only to store as wank-bank material for another night.

But he’s in pink sweats and a generic sweater that hangs off his frame, and he’s certain he looks like an absolute douchebag wearing sunglasses not only indoors, but in the dead of night, too, so he keeps his neck ducked and his shoulders slumped, makes sure he stays as small and invisible as a 6’2 wall of muscle and actual guns can manage to look in a closet-sized ice-cream hole in the middle of New York City.

Wade is shamelessly drooling over the display of ice cream when the cashier, an aged fellow with a hearty moustache, growls at the kid, his thick eyebrows creasing as he taps his fingers against the register. “There ain’t enough here to cover the cup.”

Attention piqued, Wade watches curiously, noticing the kid’s visible shrinking as he digs through his pockets. “Shit, uh-” From what Wade can see, his hands come up empty, palms cupped and fruitless. “Thirty cents short, right? If I could just-”

“Look, I don’t care if you’re two cents short. You want charity? Hit the salvation army down the street.” The cashier states, crossing his arms. Wade doesn’t have to look very hard to catch the cold look in the man’s eyes, nor the slumping of the kid’s shoulders as he resigns and makes to leave the shop.

So, being the sometimes-but-not-always-helpful mercenary he occasionally likes to be, he saunters forwards and drops a wad of cash onto the counter. “Heyo, Mister Creamer- can I call you that? No? Well, I like it, and hey! Bambi here’s not got the dough to cover his cookie dough, but I do! Ice cream on me, give the boy his prize, kind sir.” He speaks in a rush of air, a torrent that catches both the kid and the cashier off guard, and he’s praying to whoever’s gonna listen that they’re more shocked by his butting-in and not the topical state of his skin, but it’s wishful thinking that’s definitely dispelled the moment the cashier’s face twists, lips puckering beneath the umbrella of his handlebar ‘stache.

The kid, staring up at Wade with something that’s surprisingly not disdain, speaks up. “Hey man, you don’t have to- I mean, It’s just ice-cream, I can-”

Wade shuts him up quickly, making a point of trailing his eyes along his deliciously fit body. “Nuh-uh, babycakes, no way in shit are you gonna leave here tonight without a proper fix’a freezer-burnt midnight cream, not on my watch.”

Pivoting away from the younger with an exaggerated flourish, he points a steady finger over at the tub of Rocky Road, shimmying his shoulders as he does. “And you! Mister Premium Creamium ! I’ll have a large one’a those, the superior flavour if you ask me, but kiddo here still needs’ta grow up, so who am I to judge? No, seriously- someone tell me, can I judge? I love judging, but don’t get me started on how much of a trash pail I think talent competitions are, especially those shit-biscuit televised ones that think a pretty face is a talent because-”

And, though he’s not quite thinking when he does it, he flicks his head forwards, sending his sunglasses down the slope of his nose so his eyes make contact with the kid’s larger ones, “If ya couldn’t tell already, this pretty boy ain’t so pretty but hey, ‘least I’m rich, huh?”

“You sure about that pretty part?” The younger quicks, taking his time to drag his gaze down the length of Wade’s figure, hovering over the broad bridge of his shoulders, the clutch of his hands.

“Sorry- what?”

Wade doesn’t believe his ears when the kid chuckles, his distractingly pink lips tilting up at the corners. There has to be something wrong with him, because, by all means, he’s hardly more than a foot and a half away from Wade’s face and has every reason to be high-tailing it the fuck outta here, but really, who’s Wade to argue when he’s got those gorgeous hazel eyes staring up at him, wide and curious and endeared. It’s a mindfuck of a look, and he’s finding it nearly impossible to believe he’s not hallucinating this whole shebang.

For whatever reason, this model of a person is regarding Wade with what seems to be a reciprocal level of interest, and honestly, he’s not entirely sure how to comprehend it.

It’s been ages since someone’s looked at him like this, long since before his skin stung with every movement, before his hair shed and his mind cracked.

“You know, kiddo,” Wade drawls once the cashier hands them their ice cream cups and trudges off, “Starin’ at me like that’s not gonna get you nowhere, I’ve got a strict ‘no jailbait’ rule that, hey, while I’m no poster-child when it comes to enforcing rules and the like, it’s one that I’m not really willing to smash, if you get what I’m sayin’, even with those eyes’a yours-” He swoons dramatically, pressing the back of his hand to his shaded forehead, “And lemme tell you, this is no easy feat. The amount of self-control I’m displayin’ right now? Would make a nun jealous, green from habit to toe, swear to papa Jesus himself.

The kid, surprisingly enough, quirks an eyebrow, emphatically maintaining his proximity. “I’m twenty-six.”

Wade hums, but there’s not a mutant cell in his body that believes the kid’s statement. “With those cheeks? Alright. Yeah. Okie-dokie, Jack-Jack.” He plucks a handful of spoons from a plastic cup next to the register and drops three of them into the kid’s cup. It’s a slow gesture, one that involves Wade getting a little closer than might be strictly necessary, but still, the kid doesn’t so much as react, a bemused glint assembling in his dark eyes.

“Shame you don’t believe me.” Bringing a grape-sized hunk of ice cream into his mouth, the kid keeps his gaze cemented to Wade’s when he drags his lips over the curve of he utensil, the tip of his tongue peeking out as he draws it away. It’s too private for this shithole of a storefront, and Wade’s kind of unable to think of anything else right now.

Wade is fucked. He’s screwed. Damned. Absolutely going to hell.

Why this kid is pulling this stunt, he’s entirely unsure, but he’s also entirely into it. It’s a dangerous game, Wade knows, and his willpower is suddenly running on empty, sucked and left dry by the mental image of plastic-utensil-felatio . Because not only are his eyes on display, but his skin and his scars are, as well- perhaps this guy thinks it’s a mask or prosthetic, that he’s some sort of Walking Dead extra hot off of set. It’s more a reasonable explanation than the other option, which involves this kid, for whatever reason, not being disgusted by his inherently disgusting mug.

“Look, Baby Boy,” He laments, cradling his own cup close to his chest, “All ‘a this? This ain’t fake or anything. I actually look like this. Like. Actually. In italics. See?”

“I get it.” Jailbait responds cooly, not-so-subtly batting his eyelashes. “S’not the most conventional look I’ve ever seen, I’ll give that to  you, but it’s definitely not a bad thing.’

Wade is finding it hard to breathe. Does he know this kid? His voice is familiar, though Wade can’t place where he’s heard it before, and while he doesn’t read like danger, it’s very much possible that he’s yet another assassin-in-training sent to pop off Wade Wilson- and this time, if that’s actually the case, he’s not certain that it’ll fail, not with the way those full moon eyes stare up at him. “Did someone put you up to this?”

Shaking his head, Jailbait motions to the exit. There’s a sly smile on his face, his eyes crinkled ever so slightly in the corners, and while the overhead fluorescent lights don’t do much for the pale tone of his skin, he manages to look like a fucking Calvin Klein model with his untamed mane and the jeans that stretch hungrily across his toned legs. “Nope.” He leads out of the building, peering over his shoulder and- and Wade’s certain that the kid is swaying his hips as he goes, knowing how it makes his ass move and- “You coming, big guy?”

Fuck.

If Wade trails out of the shop like a lovesick fool, it’s no one’s business but his own. He definitely doesn’t have his mouth hanging open the whole time, no ma’am.

The night air is refreshing when it meets his skin, crisp and cool in contrast to the ice cream shop’s stale interior. While it doesn’t do much to temper the heat brewing beneath the surface of his cheeks, it clears his mind for the time being, quells the buzz of want that waits beneath his tongue.

For the time being, because then the kid is turning towards him again, the high peaks of his cheekbones casting delicate shadows down the dangerous cliffs of his cheeks, partially concealing the constellation of freckles embroidered across his smooth skin. He’s an angel and a devil, soft curves and gentle slopes, hard lines and sharp edges. The pout on his lips is innocent- the intelligent luster in his eyes sinful.

“You know, if you weren’t, well, you,” Jailbait confesses, voice low and unobtrusive against the city’s sleepy state, “I’d let you how impolite it is to stare, especially since I’m pretty sure you’re still convinced I’m a minor, but uh- I’m kinda digging it, honestly. Stare all you want. And- hey, thanks for the ice cream? I’m on a student budget and all, and by student budget, I mean I’m two months behind on rent even though I’m working two jobs and have a killer scholarship under my belt, so. You really made my night.”

There’s a moment where the bravado falls, and the kid’s forward demeanour stutters and defaults into something different, something gracious and tender- his eyes glow, bright even under the guise of light, and there’s a slight crease in between them that makes Wade’s heart lurch.

Wade wants to tuck him away and hide him from the world, pull his lithe body against his own and recede into the dark of the night. Wade also wants to know why he’s so immediately charmed by this vixen of a kid, why he’s so shamelessly tripping over his own feet trying to catch up- his brain is busted, has been for as long as he can remember, but he’s not stupid, not by any means, and he’s usually better when it comes to handsome strangers who can’t even afford their own medium cup of cookie dough ice cream.

It’s unfair, he thinks, because he’s just met this kid and he already has to resist the urge to fall to one knee and pop the question - yes, that question - but he’s too blindly into this lovely kid with his lovely face and his lovely voice to really question himself right now.

“Don’t even worry about it, I’ve got loads of cash and no one but myself and my guns to spend it on- have I mentioned that I’m a mercenary? Ex-mercenary in this universe, if you wanna be specific about it, but! To-mae-to, to-mae-to. Deadpool, at your service- Wade Wilson if you’re nasty.” He makes a point of singing the last part, figuring that if the kid hadn’t run at the behind-the-scenes sight of his face, then this little revelation shouldn’t be a major point of contention. So when Jailbait doesn’t flinch, Wade’s not even surprised, but-

But it’s the smile, the whip-sharp upturn of the kid’s lips, that catches him off guard- he’s wrestling a full blown grin as he takes another spoonful of ice cream, standing closer than any sane person should stand after learning that an infamous and decidedly lethal former-hitman had just bought them a cup of ice cream.

Not for the first time tonight, Wade wonders how hot it’s going to be in hell.

“Alright, what’s the catch? Are you like, some sort of evil social worker? A mutant fetishist? Do you like vore ? I’m not one to kink shame, promise, but I’m sorry, babe, I know I’m as big as Dedede and just about as pink as Kirby, but I’m not about to go swallowin’ you whole, least not like that.” He shrugs, as though to offer consolation.

“Totally not into that. Count me out, Wilson.” Jailbait runs long fingers through his hair, holds them against his scalp. The gesture isn’t sexual, not at all, but with the way his mouth is moving and his eyelashes are fluttering, it might as well be. “And hey, enough with that monster bullshit, you don’t look like a monster and I don’t want to hear any more of it.”

“Y’know, sweetcheeks, you’d have to stick around to actually get the chance to hear any more of it, and I’ve got a feeling that’s not something entirely beneficial for someone like you.”

“Someone like me?”

Wade hums, glancing down at the kid’s body, slow like dribbling honey, “You look in a mirror lately? Little minx like you with a primeval ruffian like myself? Don’t exactly spell out safety, if you get what I’m sayin’.”

“I can take care of myself, no need worry about me.” Jailbait objects and takes another mouthful of ice cream, complete with an indulgent amount of ridiculous tongue coordination, before continuing, “I Figure I could hang around with you for a little bit, s’all I can do for the ice cream. I can’t really afford to repay you, and it’s not like I run into handsome ex-mercs every night. And before you tell me that I’m not interested, or that I’m just saying that to be nice- I’m definitely interested, and I’m definitely not just saying it to be nice.”

Wade must look surprised at that, because the kid grins again, leaning further into his personal space. “How’d you-”

“You’re cute without the mask, you know that?” Jailbait doesn’t elaborate any further, only offers a toothy laugh before he’s reaching for Wade’s free hand and dragging him forwards, down along the lonely street. The larger man doesn’t have a chance to think about what’s just been said, allowing himself to be guided through the city with little more than curious doubt.

“Not that I don’t trust a tasty little tart like yourself-”

“My apartment. That alright with you?”

Wade Wilson isn’t exactly what one would consider a highly-suggestible person, because it’s usually him that does the suggesting, but he’ll be damned if resisting this kid’s magnetic energy is next to impossible- he follows without another word, maintaining a rare bout of silence as he watches the tone pair of legs ahead of him saunter down the old sidewalk.

They’re in a rougher part of the city, landmarked with only a smattering of still-functional street-lamps, but the kid navigates the streets effortlessly, cutting through questionable alleys and hardly lit green spaces until they’re approaching a sketchy apartment complex, stopping when they reach its even sketchier fire escape.

The kid scales the ladder with ease, balancing his partially-melted cup of ice cream in one hand as he uses his other to hoist himself up and onto the first platform. His movements are stunning, graceful in a manner that’s too precise not to be practiced. He coordinates his body with impossible ease- he’s a swan in flight, his pearly feathers brilliant under the shade of the dim night.

“You like, an acrobat or somethin’?” Wade grunts, passing his own cup to the other as he tugs his bulk onto the metal frame. It creaks warily when he stands, rattling unhappily against its building’s bricks.

Jailbait blinks, seemingly losing track of himself before returning Wade’s ice cream. “I guess you could say that,” He decides, and then he’s slipping around Wade to climb up the fire escape. Trailing behind, Wade’s gaze stays glued to the backs of the kid’s thighs, hypnotized by the way the lean muscles extend and contract.

They don’t rest until they’ve reached the rooftop, and while there’s nothing particularly notable about the space, it’s secluded and it basks in the afterglow of the city, comfortably light and concealed from wind by the surrounding complexes. Jailbait vaults over the lip of the roof, finding a spot against an active air conditioning unit to lean against.

Wade follows suit, shoving a spoon of watery ice cream into his mouth before taking the spot across from the other.

Though partially shaded by the neighboring building, warm light bathes the private space, and it’s all more intimate than a rooftop has any business being.

Wade can feel his pulse in his throat, throbbing steadily as he analyzes the new surroundings- he doesn't know what he’s expecting to find, but the tug of instinct is like a stake in his gut, sharp and urgent, warning him about a threat he can’t locate. Some unconscious part of his brain can sense the universe winding up, as though it’s readying to smite him where he stands.

Dark eyes trace his every movement, wanton and heavy in their intention.

“I’m no stranger to rooftop hangouts, Baby boy, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why you’d take me here. I’m a little un-unaliveable, if you’re not already aware, so if you’ve brought me up to bring me down, this evening is gonna be pretty disappointing for us both. Little bit like that last DC movie, where I’m the Henry Cavill with a CGI’d lip and you’re the poor sap in the discount Ultron costume, except neither of us is gonna get paid and you’ll probably end up as dead as a slice’a pizza in tank’a hungry turtles.”

The kid rolls his eyes, but the action is charmed, complemented by a the lax form of his shoulders, the soft tilt of his eyebrows. “You’re unreal.”

“I’m unreal? I’ll have you know, you’re just about the nuttiest peanut in the jar, honey, and-”

“Peter. Peter Parker.” He interjects, tossing his empty cup at Wade’s bicep. The impact is offensively hard, but Wade doesn’t have much time to ponder, not when the kid - Peter, Pete, Petey - is crowding in closer, marveling through fanned eyelashes, looking like some kind of alternative synthwave goddess against New York’s twinkling skyline. Every ounce of his attention is concentrated on Wade, intent and voluminous- overwhelming and foreign. “Not that I don’t just love your spiel of nicknames, but I’d love it more if I got to hear you say my actual name, you know?”

Wade’s jaw drops, and he’s scanning the cathedral of a face before him, searching for something indicative of all this being some kind of ruse, some convoluted effort to screw with his fucked up head, but he comes up empty handed.

Peter looks sincere, irrevocably so, and it’s driving Wade insane.

“What game are you playing? You tryna fuck with me? Because-”

“Hey, no, hey,” Peter startles, torn from the moment. His pupils expand, lips pursing in uncertainty as he searches Wade’s guarded expression. “I want to hang out with you, spend a little time together. Is that so hard to believe?” Something like sympathy bleeds into his delicate features, and Wade doesn’t know what to do about it.

Grunting, the older maneuvers his body away from the younger, crossing the plane of the rooftop until he’s at the edge, staring out towards the city. A chilled breeze whispers along his skin. The sensation is unfamiliar.

Is that so hard to believe? You listening to yourself?” He laughs bitterly, humourlessly. “People don’t just wanna spend time with Deadpool, kiddo. Not even I wanna spend time with me, there’s sure as hell no reason you, of all people, who’s known me for a total of fifteen minutes, would wanna waste a night chillin’ on a rooftop with an uglier, angrier Piers Morgan. Hell, I’m trying to figure out what the fuck is wrong with you, because none of this, and I mean absolutely none of this, makes any sense. And I’m the king of making no sense, so the fact that you’ve got my brain-panties in a twist? Unbelievable.” A pause, a hard glance tossed over his shoulder.

He’s pretty sure the scowl on his face is twisting his scars into a horror of a Picasso painting, and he actually feels guilty for the other man.

Peter watches pensively, frown deepening the when Wade continues to speak.

“Like, fuck, s’cuse me for asking, but what the fuck is wrong with you?”

It’s this moment, where Peter’s staring at him like he’s the only person in the world, that makes Wade regret his decision to interact with this person in the first place - this isn’t something he wants to deal with, this awful feeling of doubt and dread, of humiliation and guilt, and he’s a heartbeat away from throwing himself off the rooftop when two careful hands press to his shoulder blades. They quiver, ever so slightly, but they’re warm and solid and grievously real.

He stills, and although he doesn’t lean into the touch, he doesn’t lean away, either.

“I’m sorry you don’t believe me.” Peter says softly. “I don’t really know who made you feel like you’re unbearable or whatever, but you’re not. I promise, you’re not.”

“Seems to me like you’re overestimating my character. Optimism is nice, kind of a turn on, sometimes, but this is a whole other level’a that shit. You don’t know who you’re dealing with here, kid. I’m outta your depths, how many times do I gotta say that?” The hands against his back tense, just enough for Wade to pick up on it, and then they’re migrating down, only resting when they reach the dip of his waist. Long fingers brush his hip bones, sturdy and certain in their hold.

Wade swallows, leans into the touch because-

Because he’s not been held in so long, and it doesn’t matter that this guy might be crazy, that he’s only just learned his name, seen his face. He’s melting, nesting into this onslaught of comfort because there’s no telling when he’ll experience something like this again.

A large part of his brain is convinced that Peter, even though lucid in appearance, is high or drunk or something, that his mind is altered so radically it’s making Wade seem attractive, seem like a good partner for an ambiguous social outing. He’s certain that Peter’s going to wake up tomorrow morning in remorse, sour and angry for allowing himself so close to Wade Wilson, of all people.

It hurts, every bitter inch of it, but Wade is used to pain. He’s used to rejection, betrayal, anger, disgust- you name it, he’s felt it. He’s accepted it. It’s a fact of life, and he’s used to it.

He is.

But Peter, he only sidles closer. The tip of his nose touches Wade’s spine, faint against the cozy fabric of the sweater. “Wade, hey,” He soothes, “I just- I don’t know how to even tell you this, I should’ve just done it when we left the shop, but I-”

Peter pauses, huffs out a chestful of air. Caution seizes the muscles in his hands, and Wade can feel as the tendons shift against his sides, tighten uneasily around his waist.

Why he proceeds to hold on, Wade doesn’t know. Perhaps it’s out of pity. Perhaps this whole thing is some kind of pathetic attempt at a charitable deed, a guilty kid deciding to escort a mentally ill man home because that’s what he thought was the right thing to do. It’s an awful explanation, but it settles nonetheless, heavy and distressing as it crushes down into Wade’s stomach.

Eyes trained on the inky sky above, Wade braces himself for what Peter must be about to say- rejection is never quick, never painless, never easy. He’s just met this kid, and he’s a grown fucking man, for god’s sake, and yet there’s not a doubt in his crooked mind that it’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt and it’s probably going to be worse than that time he’d gone through a meat grinder, feet-first. Because Wade Wilson, unfortunately, loves like a new puppy- quick and passionately, clings to any positive feedback he receives and obsesses over it. When he’s kicked, shoved down and away, he feels it, and he feels it hard.

“I get it,” Wade grimaces, his tone gruff. Though his body protests, he liberates himself from Peter’s hold, skirts away from the lean body until he’s able to catch his breath again. Apprehension hangs between their respective energies, cold and unpleasant as it weighs on their shoulders. “Thought you were doin’ some kinda charity work, takin’ me out like this, and then you-”

Peter sputters at that, shaking his head fervently. “What? No, that’s-” With an exasperated groan, he tosses his head back and gapes at the empty sky, “Wade- I would never-”

“I’ve known you for like, a total of seven minutes, and hey, yeah, you can do a whole lot in seven minutes, I get it, but- I’ve got no reason to believe you, sweetcheeks.

“You’re a smokin’ body with a sculpture of a face, and lemme tell you, your voice makes my fuckin’ guts swoop, every time you open that gorgeous little mouth’a yours, and you’re sweeter than a peach on the lord’s good Sunday, but I don’t know you, I probably won’t ever see you again after tonight, and I’m pretty sure you’re some degree of wasted because- shit, kid, because you’re throwin’ yourself at me and you’re flirtin’ like we’re in a fucking dating simulator and I’d rather be Smash Bros Joker than Persona Five Joker, because hey, I wanna go hand to hand with that Link fella, he’s almost as pretty as you are, and- fuck, shit, what was I on about?

“Flirting! You’re flirting with me and you’re acting like I’m some fuckin’ Hugh Jackman and- and that’s not cool, that’s not normal, that’s definitely sexually deviant, trust me, I know, so there’s gotta be something majorly wrong with you because strangers don’t just get the hots for 80s horror flick monsters, capiche ?”

Wade is out of breath when he finishes, hand propped on his cocked hip, features devolving into a rigid glower. Every limb strains defensively, and he’s stuck on the adrenaline cycling through his veins, burning beneath the rough exterior of his skin. Humiliation flares behind his eyes, clouding his vision, eliminating rational thought.

As though he’s not currently before the world’s foremost mercenary, Peter stands with loose joints and a slouched spine, his posture open and infuriatingly vulnerable. The scent of fear is entirely absent- Peter only nears, his movements steady and collected, like he’s a calf approaching a tuft of grass, not the mangy coyote Wade knows he is.

“‘Pool,” he begins. His voice is barely above a whisper, low and pacifying in spite of Wade’s alert stance. The nickname catches the older off guard, just for a moment- there’s something about the depth of Peter’s tone, about the ease he speaks with, and there’s a realization building on the tip of his tongue, dangling at the very edge of his brain, so he reaches for it, wills his mind to listen just for once, to resolve this whole ordeal, and then-

“It’s uh- It’s me? Spider-man, Peter Parker if you’re nasty?”

Multiple things happen at once, following Peter’s admission.

Most notably, Peter’s pulling off his sweater, revealing the iconic spandex suit. Wade gawks, at first, jaw grazing the floor and eyes bulging straight out of his skull, and then he’s stumbling backwards, blinking hard, because he’s not got his mask on, and of course this gorgeous Peter Parker kid is Spidey, which means he’s been maskless in front of Spidey, who’s going to hate him, who’s going to make fun of his day-old-shepherd’s-pie-face and that’ll be it, he’s not going to have anyone left, and he’s just going to be alone again, Deadpool versus the world in the saddest most tragic run yet, and-

Wade feels his stomach drop at the same time his hands are grabbed. His vision dips, twirls around like a carousel, and then he’s face-to-face with Peter Parker, so painfully close that he can taste the other’s breath on his tongue, can distinguish every individual freckle, every strand of hair.

“Wade? I’m sorry, I was just trying to be playful, and-”

“Spidey?” Wade croaks, all too aware that the Peter can see the unsteadiness of his lip, the furrow between his exposed eyes. He feels shrunken, standing before Peter, and he tries to piece together the night’s events with this new revelation.      

Peter, Spidey, Jailbait- he drops his backpack, rifles through its contents until he’s pulling out a crumpled wad of red spandex. It’s the mask, Wade realizes immediately. Peter thumbs the fabric, an intense expression crossing his features, and then he hands it over, pressing it resolutely into Wade’s palm.

When Wade doesn’t respond, Peter’s face falls. “I knew it was you when you walked in,” he extends. Whatever headstrong confidence he’d had earlier is gone, replaced with caution, concern. It creeps along the fringe of his voice, his timbre rickety, his words shaken. “My uh- my spider-sense didn’t go off, and then I heard your voice and I knew it had to be you, getting ice cream in the middle of the night, because who else?” Peter chuckles, but it’s devoid of humor, derelict as it evaporates into the chilled air.

Wade’s gaze holds steady on the mask, but his hands don’t interact with it, his fingers limply grazing the wrinkled material. His mouth is dry, chalky like brimstone as he tries to gather his thoughts.

Peter’s watch is locked on Wade, though, persistent and steadfast and inexorably intense. “And then- Wade, I turned and there you were. We’ve known each other for years, right? I was twenty-three when we first met, fresh into my masters and without a single idea of what I was doing with my life. Like, sure- we weren’t exactly the best of buddies that first year, not when I was so damn convinced that you were some sort of lawless hoodlum, but once I got over myself?

“You’re the most important person in my life, Wade.” He shakes his head belatedly, “I never made a move to show you my face, even though I wanted to more than you’ll ever believe, because I’m scared and stupid and anxious about- about everything, really. I hoped that you would do it first, make things a little easier, but that was me being an awkward, socially-inept twenty year old. And then I turned around and I saw you tonight, like, really saw you , and I just couldn’t help myself.”

Wade’s scowl deepens, morphs into a sneer. “Couldn’t help yourself but humiliate me? String me along like the easy little bitch I am? I mean, I know I’m no Chris Hemsworth, or even his little brother for that matter, but c’mon,” He drops the mask. It falls to the floor soundlessly, the whites of the lenses empty as they stare into the night. “Pokin’ fun at ugly crazies doesn’t help anyone, Webs. Did it make you feel better about yourself, or whatever? ‘Cos in that case- good for you. I’m glad I could be of service. Will that be cash or credit?” It’s hardly a jeering statement, but it’s late and Wade is too mentally exhausted to truly be nasty, particularly to the fairytale of a face only inches away from his own.

He’s humiliated and angry, restless and frozen, and while he’s used to being a walking contradiction, he’s absolutely had enough of dichotomies, at least for the next decade.

Wade’s words hang crudely between them, tied to Peter’s wrist like a leaden balloon, and for a minute, it’s all too much.

They’ve been alone like this before, perched above the rest of the world, but Wade can’t recall an instance it’s ever been quite so quiet. Him and Spider-man, they speak, they banter and flirt and prod, fill the gap with trivial debates, crass language. Without the city’s usual noise, the bubble around the two men is too intimate for comfort, a daunting void where white sound should buffer. It’s gone, now, and Wade’s brain is too frantic right now to figure out how to fix it.

Peter holds his breath without knowing it, expression pained, heart in his throat. “No- You can’t- you can’t just put that awful, ‘ I’m a terrible person and no one likes me’ filter over everything, Wade. I’m not a psych major, not by any means, but that’s what they like to call projection- you think that, so you automatically assume that everyone else does, too. Doesn’t mean they do. Doesn’t mean I do. And another thing- you’ve gotta drop that habit of cutting me off in the middle of a sentence, because I was actually going somewhere with that.” A hand clutches at Wade’s, smooth skin mingling with scarred. This isn’t the first time their hands have met, but they’ve never done it like this, out of the suits, without layers of fabric acting as barriers. “Can I finish?”

Wade nods only once, the action swift and robotic. His fingers tingle where they’re tangled with Peter’s.

“Alright.” Peter swallows, closes his eyes, opens them. They’re entirely chestnut brown out here, all traces of green lost to the dim overcast. “I saw you, and- fuck, this is difficult to say, pouring out my heart isn’t something I do on the daily, so cut me some slack, but- I saw you, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted someone more than I wanted you, scars and sweats and midnight sunglasses, all of it, like I did back at the shop. Like I do right now.

“I guess I thought that maybe I’d try my luck as Peter Parker first, see if you were still interested  without the spandex or the webs or the persona, and once I started, it was like I couldn’t stop myself. S’like I was high on the adrenaline of it all, I don’t know. I was going to tell you, brought you up here for a reason, but I should have done it sooner.”

Dropping his gaze, Peter smiles sadly.

“I’m sorry, y’know, if I somehow managed to fuck this up already. I’ve been- I’ve had too many feelings for you for way too long now, and this probably wasn’t the best way to deal with them. I should’ve spoken to you, taken the mask off after patrol or at your apartment or something, without making a big deal of it, because this was manipulative and immature and- I thought it’d be like, romantic or cute or- I don’t know. I thought it’d be fun, like, a nice little story to tell later on, something we could laugh about down the line. Having a nice evening together like that? I saw your face, and it’s like- like everything decided to boil over, every emotion I was repressing, every want I’d been keeping to myself for- for who the hell knows how long , up and took over. But like- hey, that was unfair to you, completely unfair, completely shitty of me, and- I know. I’m sorry. But I wasn’t stringing you along or anything like that. Everything I said, I meant. Everything I’m saying now, I mean.”

For a long minute, Wade can only smoulder at the mask on the floor. He imagines it igniting, the crimson material melting into hot tongues of flame, departing as flimsy ash into the dusky smog. Facts burrow their way through his mind, recollection of the last hour struggling to align with what Peter has said- they twist and warp, victim to Wade’s faulty perceptions and self-loathsome misconceptions, but eventually everything clicks together.

The cogs begin to turn, as orderly as they can be in a brain so terribly scattered, and then Wade is looking to Peter, his eyes wide, his mouth ajar.

He thinks about the way Peter had first looked at him, with surprise, and then recognition, awe. About how the other man hadn’t flinched at his career, at his humor, at his appearance - Spider-man hadn’t ever seen his face, not in its entirety, but Wade knows that he’d seen the scarring, seen the shifting marks and painful splotches in glimpses, partial slivers at a time.

Post-patrol dinners (and pre-patrol lunches and mid-patrol snack breaks and intermediary nutrition pit-stops and everything in between) had been integral parts of their routine, their routine that had been established a lifetime ago and has remained consistent, right up to the present day.

It was always just them, existing together, Deadpool and Spider-man, on rooftops and couch cushions, in alleyways and under buzzing streetlights, and occasionally, Wade would roll the mask up to eat, bunched to the ledge of his nose, exposing the scarring but not the full extent of it, and Spider-man- he’d never lingered on the unfortunate texture, never once shied away or lost his appetite.

Of course Peter Parker didn’t display a normal reaction to Wade, didn’t back away like everyone else does. Peter knows Wade better than Wade knows Wade, so of course he didn’t flinch when Wade came close, didn’t leave the moment he had the chance.

This is Peter Parker, the most gorgeous person to ever look Wade’s direction, someone Wade has only known for a collection of minutes.

This is Spider-man, Wade’s best friend, the person who’s had his back and his heart for as long as he can remember.

He’s admittedly having trouble connecting the two separate entities, the teasingly beautiful Peter Parker with the wistfully intelligent Spider-man, but they migrate together slowly, their concepts morphing, accepting one another until they’re sewn and steady, two complimentary parts of a magnificent whole.

When Wade looks at Peter again, it’s like he’s seeing him for the first time, really seeing him- he’s not just some weird kid with a model’s face and a penchant for disfigured hitmen, and he’s not just a masked superhero with a sharp wit and a heart of gold. Waiting patiently for Wade to say something, he’s a complex scaffold of a person, a brain with too many firing nerves, and Wade wants to throw himself in, take the fucking polar-bear-plunge because he’s impulsive and reckless and terribly in love.

When Peter speaks, it’s with an anxious lightheartedness that has Wade’s stomach churning. “Look, I know what I did was wrong and screwed-up in like, at least thirty different ways, but I can’t remember the last time you were this silent without actually being dead and it’s kinda freaking me out.”

Peter’s eyebrows are knit together, though, and his bottom lip is worrying between his teeth. Wade is no stranger to this look, knows that the other man is about to let loose a throng of tears and sadness, so he surges forwards, crushes the lithe body to his own, banking on the hope that he’ll be crushed back.

Forgiveness comes easily to Wade, who’s long since learned that life is short and pain is imminent. Embracing Peter, Spider-man, it’s as natural as it is necessary, and he can feel the tension sap from his own shoulders as Peter accepts him openly.

Powerful fingers press into the muscle along his shoulder blades, pinpointed indentations that, if he weren’t an endlessly-regenerating mutation of a man, would leave a rainbow of bruises in their wake.

It’s a breath of relief, if Wade’s ever had one, the experience akin to coming home to a stray arachnid lounging on his couch, watching his favourite episode of Golden Girls, taking the first bite of a taco, pulling on his favourite robe. Wade basks in the sentiment, clings to it with all he has.

He’s been dying to get to know the face beneath his crime-fighting-colleague’s infamous mask for as long as he’s known of the vigilante, but this feels different than he could have anticipated- real and frightening, special and important. Now there’s no excuse for him, no reason to hold himself back- no reason for Peter to hold back.

With their faces in the open, scars and freckles, watery eyes and rosebud lips, all the cards are on the table, vulnerable to peering eyes, impending propositions and dreadful rejections. And yet, in a rare moment of introspection, Wade realizes that he’s not afraid of attention- of rejection right now, not with how the night has gone so far.

Peter didn’t spend their entire time together assuring Wade that he truly wanted to be there with him, present and together and close, just for the fun of it. He did it, Wade is almost sure, because he meant it. Because he feels the same.

Because he wants this, whatever this may be, just as much as Wade does.

“Gotta be honest,” Wade opens, his voice slicing through the quiet atmosphere, a blade against enemy flesh, “Cookie-dough ice cream? That’s a total deal breaker for me. I don’t-” He sighs theatrically, “ I don’t know if I can go on with this in good conscience.”

He can feel Peter’s blossom of a smile against his chest, the subtle vibrations of laughter rumbling against his palms. “I hate you,” The smaller snorts, but he keeps close and tightens his hold on Wade, his forearms trembling where they fold around Wade’s waist, unite at the small of his back.

“That’s totally not what you just said.”

“I take that back. I’m not Spider-man. Nope. Just a cosplayer. That’s it. Who are you again? Deathstroke?” His tone is hearty, present in a way it hasn’t been all night. Wade isn’t sure how he didn’t recognize it immediately, but Peter’s voice is distinctly musical, rhythmic in a way that only Spider-man’s is, thick like paint and smooth like aged whiskey, warm and unique and so obviously his own that Wade can’t believe he didn’t identify it on the spot.

“You little insect ,” Wade accuses, trying and failing to smother the joy in his voice. Peter cranes back to look at him, mouth opening with a response, but suddenly he shifts into motion, lightning fast and determined, and Wade is flipped off the edge of the building before he can so much as shout his protests.

He plummets towards the sidewalk, the world a blur of streaky light and disembodied sound, and then he’s colliding with another body halfway down, his momentum changing abruptly, familiarly. An arm appears across Wade’s back, hooks right beneath his shoulders, the lean muscle flexing protectively, lovingly.

Peter holds him like a new bride, laughing and careless as he swings them through the city. Wade can only laugh along, tossing his head back as they sail through the otherwise quiet streets, watching as buildings zip past, sleepy and unaware. They’re without masks, without costume, but neither man worries about faces, identities-

It’s been years of not knowing, for both of them- years of not connecting, not seeing like this, and now that they’ve each gotten a glimpse, stolen a taste of this savoury reality- plunging in, head first, is all they wish to do, all they have the capacity to desire.

When Peter slows his swing, drops them into a lonely park, they don’t separate. Standing on solid ground, observed only by the dim street lamps and bristling trees, Wade keeps Peter close, keeps his head tucked and his shoulders curved posessively around the smaller. Everything is surreal, but Wade isn’t about to doubt this, not when he knows with a scary amount of certainty, that this right now, right here, is entirely authentic, as genuine as anything will ever be.

“I’m sorry for throwing you off the building,” Peter apologizes, his eyes glimmering. He’s out of breath, but Wade can’t tell whether it’s from the swinging or the proximity.

Both, probably.

He shakes his head, sliding one of his palms up the length of Peter’s spine, teasing the pad of his thumb along every notch and vertebrae, until it rests at the nape of his neck, cups the sensitive skin, inches into his hairline. Peter shivers, his bottom lip falling open, half-lidded eyes brimming with emotion.

“I’ve got a feelin’ you don’t mean that.” Wade guides his jaw forwards. Their breath mingles as their noses bump, freckled against scarred, and then it’s like neither of them can wait a moment longer when they finally join together, closing the slim gap with a long-awaited press of lips.

The world ceases to exist, then- a firetruck howls in the distance, a man in too many layers wanders the roads, a skunk scurries to its burrow, the heavy bass of a guitar wafts from an open window, but nothing is heard, nothing is experienced beyond the closeness of the two men, the warmth they share.

Peter doesn’t release his hold on Wade, not when he pulls away, not when they leave the park and head towards his apartment, not when they join again in his bedroom.

The small apartment is underwhelming, a minimal space with a lackluster setup, but Wade holds Peter like he’s royalty, lays him down on the lumpy mattress and kisses him like he’s never kissed another, like it’s the last time and the first time.

They don’t speak, not when Peter’s legs wrap around the hard muscle of Wade’s abdomen, when Wade takes him and loves him, cages Peter to the bed and bleeds out every drop of want he can fathom. They don’t speak, not when Peter gasps his release and Wade follows, not when Peter calms his hands over the painful planes of Wade’s skin, trailing the heat of his mouth over every imperfection, every mark of hurt and anguish.

Only when Wade’s breathing relaxes and Peter curls into the protective crescent of Wade’s body are there words spoken again, reintroduced in the absence of physical language.

“You know I love you, right?” Wade says, nearly startling himself with the admission.

Peter nods against him, his bare skin soothing against Wade’s own. Their foreheads are held together, their lips brushing, lazily uniting. “I know.” He whispers back, their mouths moving in synchronization.

A heavy swallow, and then Peter continues. “I love you too.” It sounds difficult to say, as though he’d never anticipated actually saying it, but it rings true nonetheless. Wade is over the moon- in absolute disbelief and dazed, but he’s happier than he’s ever felt, every regenerative cell in his cursed body rejoicing and tingling and at peace, for once, as though this is what he’s been waiting for, what he’s needed for so long.

“But,” Wade interjects, craning back just enough to trace the lines of Peter’s face with his eyes, “The cookie-dough thing is still a total dealbreaker.”

If Peter throws him out of bed (and nearly out the window), it’s out of love, done with care. Wade settles back in easily, wrapping his legs around Peter without hesitation.

“I can’t stand you.”

“Sure you can’t, jailbait.”

If Peter throws him out of bed a second time, Wade figures he probably deserves it.