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Fragile Like Glass

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Wade is swinging his arms around, giving a passionate and over-excited speech about the new street vendor a few blocks away.

“C’mon Spidey, you have to admit that these are the best tacos you’ve ever fucking tasted! And the guy running the stand? The cutest, friendliest old man I’ve ever seen in my life. He didn’t even blink at the suit. I usually get some stares, but he just smiled and took my order. How professional, I’d die for him.”

Peter raises his hand to cover his mouth, speaking around a mouthful of food. “It’s good, I’ll give you that. But please try to avoid dying for taco man.”

“Baby boy, it doesn’t matter. You know I’ll just pop back up. It’s literally impossible for you to get rid of me.”

Wade throws his arm around Peter. Peter’s stomach flips, face heating up, and he sets his taco down before he drops it.

Confession time: Peter has a massive crush on the merc. Maybe at this point it’s more than a crush. But Wade is his best friend. He’s one of those with a flirty personality, so the way he treats Peter has absolutely nothing to do with reciprocated feelings. Besides, Wade kills people for money (Granted - not nearly as much as he used to. And only bad people. But still… people.). Spider-man dating Deadpool? It would never work, at least not without Spider-man having to completely re-evaluate his morals. Wouldn’t the (hypothetical) relationship mean that Peter condones the killing?

But Peter does love him. He’s not in love with Wade, although he’s terrified he’s getting there, but he knows that even the idea of Wade leaving has his chest feeling hollow.

Sometimes Wade dies on a patrol, leaving Peter to pick up the pieces and take care of him until he wakes up. It happens more than it should. Peter knows it takes Wade four hours to wake up from a stab wound, five hours from a shot to the chest, twelve hours from a headshot. It can take almost a day for Wade to wake up if he’s caught in an explosion. Peter’s seen too much, but he can’t bring himself to look the other way. It hurts that there's nothing to do but hope he wakes up when it's supposed to be impossible. Peter can’t function those nights. He can’t sleep. Can’t talk. Can barely breathe.

And Wade has no idea.

The silence went on for too long. Peter can sense him tensing, about to move his arm away, so he forces himself to relax and lean into it. Please don’t move away from me.

Peter can tell Wade’s surprised. He notices everything about Wade these days.

There’s a questioning “Baby boy?” His voice is strained in a way Peter has never heard before.

“I’m sorry.” Peter says, letting his head fall on Wade’s shoulder. “I was just thinking.”

“Oh. About what?”

Peter turns to look at the other. Both of their masks are pulled up to expose their mouths, but hiding their faces despite everything they’ve been through together. He is secretly grateful for how expressive Wade’s mask is. He can see where his brows would be creased and a slight widening of his eyes, looking at Peter like he’s a puzzle he can’t quite solve. Wade has a sharp, strong jawline. Peter can vaguely make out the shape of his nose, crooked from being broken so often. Wade scars stand out, stark in the city’s lights, and his lips are pulled in a careful, gentle smile. Wade thinks he looks like a monster, but a monster could never make such an expression.

He sucks in a breath. Because what is he supposed to say? Peter’s thoughts are so scattered he just lets the truth slip out, his voice small. “I don’t like it when you die.”

It’s not a surprising statement. After all, who would like having to drag a corpse through New York’s streets and literally piece it back together? But they both know there’s more to it than that. Wade wakes up and Peter is always there. He doesn’t just dump Wade in his apartment and scram, like the Avengers would. Peter stitches him back together and cleans the blood off the floor and orders food and holds his hand until he wakes up. Wade knows Peter doesn’t treat him like a chore.

Wade also knows there’s a significance to that. Just like there’s a significance to Peter’s quiet tone and the shift in this conversation.

“I’m sorry, I’ll be more careful. I promise.” Wade offers weakly. It makes Peter feel a little bit better, but both of them feel weirdly vulnerable.

“Wade, I care about you too much to see you in that kind of pain.” I love you too much. “I’m so scared that there’s going to be a day when you don’t get back up, when you stay dead. And I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re my best friend.” Peter steals a glance, and Wade is staring at him like he just said the Earth was flat. He plows on. “I know I’m not the best at…. voicing my feelings? I’m not an emotional person, Wade. I hate attachments because they’re dangerous for people like us. But I care about you so so much. I hate it when you die - when you do, it makes me feel like you’re leaving me and I don’t know how to handle it.”

Wade grabs his hand. “Oh, baby boy, I’d never leave you.”

It’s a heavy truth, but it’s warm and comforting. Like the blankets his aunt and uncle would tuck around him when he was little.

Wade suddenly seems to shrink in on himself. His grip tightens on Peter’s hand, pulling him closer. “No, he doesn’t.” He says to the air, quietly and under his breath.

Peter’s heart sinks. Those fucking boxes. He’s known Wade for five years, at this point he’s used to Wade talking to the voices in his head. Wade tries not to talk to them out loud around Peter because he’s embarrassed. Ashamed. They’ve talked about it before, Peter will always remember the way Wade’s shoulders shook when he confessed, “I just don’t want you to think I’m crazy, even though its the truth.” 

Peter wraps his arms around Wade in a hug that’s probably too tight. He takes a second to feel a little ridiculous for the way he threw himself at the other, but then Wade’s sighing into it and holding him there and it’s all okay.

“I don’t know what they’re saying, but remember you can always trust me. I wouldn’t lie to you.”

Wade buries his face in Peter’s neck. “I know you wouldn’t. They’re just loud today.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have anything to apologize for. If anything, I’m sorry because now we’re having a Gay Moment and I’m low-key gonna have to tell Weasel about this when I braid his hair.” Wade tries to laugh. It’s small and forced, but Peter admires the effort to lighten the mood.

“Can I take my mask off?” Peter asks.

They both seem taken aback by the question. Peter doesn’t know where that came from, but he has the urge to give every secret away while he’s wrapped in Wade’s arms. They shift positions, leaving enough space to properly talk. But they don’t let go of each other.

“You shouldn’t, Spidey.” Wade says after a minute. “Your identity’s a secret for a reason. I wouldn’t want to leave you alone, you shouldn’t trust me with that.”

“I know so much more about you than you know about me. It doesn’t seem fair.”

“It’s not about fairness. You don’t owe me anything.”

Peter looks away because there’s something about the way Wade’s staring at him. It’s too intense. He doesn’t know what to do with it. Peter thought Wade would jump at the chance to know his identity. In the beginning, Deadpool had so much hero worship for Spider-man that he’d kill to get to know him better. Maybe he’s seen enough of him by now, he’s lost interest.

Peter feels like he’s on the verge of tears. It’s so embarrassing. “I just- I just thought you wanted to know me.”

Wade hears how choked his voice comes out. Sees the way his jaw clenches. He moves is thumbs in slow circles, trying to reassure him. “Of course I want to know you Spidey. I want that more than anything.”

“Then why-”

“I don’t want you to regret it. You can’t take that back, and I don’t want you to throw years worth of secrets away on impulse. Besides, just because I don’t know your name or your face doesn’t mean I don’t know you. I know you’re good at talking to scared kids, informing the police, and being a hero. You like Thai food and the Empire Strikes Back and science. You’re in love with this city. And for some reason, one I’ll never understand, you let me hang around you. You’re the kindest person I know.”

Wade cradles Peter’s face in his hands. So serious. “Baby boy, I know you.”

Peter freezes. He doesn’t want Wade to move his hands away.

“But I want you to know all of me. I trust you more than anyone.” It’s a confession.

They stare at each other for a moment, absolutely lost. They’re surrounded by the city but none of the usual noise reaches them.

Peter moves his hands to the edge of his mask, but Wade follows him there. He grips Peter’s wrists. “Wait a second, Webs.”

“I don’t want to.” Peter admits.

“No, no, no. Just think about it. Really think about it. I don’t want you to regret this, and it seems a little impulsive. I want you to at least sleep on it for a night before you make that type of decision. Make a list of the pros and cons, I don’t know.”

Peter softens. It’s funny how that works. Peter gets so caught up in over-thinking the little things and making major decisions on impulse, while Wade is the opposite. Unlike Peter, he’s responsible when it actually matters. Peter can hold onto his identity for one more night, if that what Wade wants.

“Okay, I’ll think about it. But I really want to tell you… Um, when we meet up tomorrow I may not wear my suit.”

Wade’s grin is huge. “Sounds great. I bet you’re gorgeous under all that spandex. I mean, your ass rivals the gods’, by extension your face has to be pretty.”

Peter rolls his eyes, only slightly annoyed and secretly thankful. “Mood-killer.” 

“Whatever, you love me anyway.” Wade says, picking up another taco.

And yeah, Peter can’t argue with that.

-----

After the tacos and The Talk (and yes, the capitalization is very necessary) Spider-man and Deadpool took care of three muggings, four robberies, and helped find a man’s lost dog. It was a good night, and Peter got back to his apartment a few hours later, after a heated Mario Cart session with Wade. 

Everything seemed normal when he turned his back to close the window.

But then his senses screamed.

It was so intense it almost knocked him off his feet. He could barely process what was happening.

He whirled around. There are at least ten people in his apartment, dressed in black with a familiar red logo on their shoulders. And fuck, he’s surrounded by Hydra and too many guns.

Peter’s ears ring when one of the guns goes off. His breath gets knocked out of him and white hot pain hits his chest. It's worse than anything he’s ever felt. Peter brings his hand up to the hole in his chest, looking on in shock as it’s instantly bathed in crimson. He’s immediately lightheaded from the bloodloss, from the piercing pain in his neck as his senses continue to shriek. He doesn’t feel the needle in his skin. But he registers falling to the floor.

“Oh Spider, you’re going to do great things for us.”

Chapter Text

Wade spends hours waiting. He’s sent probably too many texts trying to check in, on top of needy voice-mail messages. He looks back through them and feels a little worse, picking up on how they grew increasingly, embarrassingly desperate. He cringes at himself.

He eventually leaves the rooftop, feeling cold and hollow and stupid for expecting something in the first place. Because of course Spidey would change his mind, he is a genius after all. But Wade doesn’t care about Spider-man’s identity (well, yes he does, but that’s not the point). The problem now is that Spidey is ignoring him.

[Ignoring and avoiding. Wow, what a shocker.] White said sarcastically.

{Such a shame. We knew it was a matter of time, but still. I looooved him.} Yellow whined, loud as ever. {Thanks for fucking that up for us, asshole.}

Yeah, the boxes were loud that night. Wade couldn’t even be mad at them because their frustrations were honestly justified. He blamed himself, too. He must’ve done something last night to scare the other off, and he was beating himself up over it. He let too many of his emotions slip out. It cost him his only friend.

But he was never just a friend. 

He’s something else, something deeper than that.

It wouldn’t be all that surprising if Wade did screw up. But at the same time, he thought they had a moment together. Last night they were so busy staring into each other's eyes - or masks, whatever - that Wade felt like there was a connection. Like there was this longing from them both. He keeps replaying Spidey’s gentle words. The way they both melted at the physical contact. He couldn’t be imagining that.

[Let me take this time to remind you that you’re crazy.]

Wade growled as he shrugged out of his suit. Fuck, he hated it when the boxes were right.

That night, he puts on his rattiest pair of sweatpants, turns on Golden Girls, and cries into a pint of cookie dough ice cream. (Spidey made him promise once to eat ice cream instead of bullets.)

-----

This is bad.

Peter jerks awake on cold metal ground. He immediately feels sick, disgustingly nauseous. He realizes with a jolt of fear that he can barely move his limbs. They must have drugged him with some strong shit for it to still be in his system. His head is pounding and his throat feels like sandpaper. He’s stuck laying on the floor, sixth sense blaring, insistent like he needs a reminder that he’s in danger. It’s making everything worse. He grinds his teeth together, stares at the ceiling, and tries to move.

Spider-man can catch a semi-truck speeding at sixty miles per hour, Peter can’t move his arm.

They took his suit. He’s just now noticing it, staring at the gray sleeves instead of the familiar reds and blues. It almost makes him laugh because it’s either that or cry. So much for a secret identity.

The door scrapes open and there’s the sound of several footsteps. Peter can’t pick his head up enough to get a look at them.

“Prop him up against the wall.” A man orders. It’s a thick Russian accent that the others scramble to obey, hands grabbing at Peter and yanking him off the floor. Peter’s skin crawls at the feeling of helplessness when they move him. But at least now he can look at his enemies.

Peter’s eyes are immediately drawn to the man in charge. He’s dressed differently than the other three in the room, uniform a deep red, military style suit. It’s even decorated with ribbons and medals. (Whatever Hydra awards their soldiers for can’t be good.) He has light blond hair gelled in place under a cap. He can’t be older than forty. The way he’s looking a Peter is cold and calculating, with a smirk pulling at his lips. His eyes are sharp as steel.

The man starts reading from a clipboard. “Peter Benjamin Parker, age twenty-five. Family includes: Mary Parker, deceased. Richard Parker, deceased. Ben Parker, deceased. May Parker, deceased. Damn, isn’t that depressing?” The guy crouches down to get eye level with him. He might not know it, but he’s lucky Peter can’t move.“You obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biochemical engineering from MIT, on a scholarship of course, and you’re currently on your way to a doctorate. Despite your modest background, you’ve done a fantastic job worming your way into Stark Industries. Hell, there’s talk that you’re the heir to the company. I’ve seen the press conferences you and Tony Stark have done together. You’ve been introducing new inventions and entire new company programs of your design. You’ve made a name for yourself.”

There was something heavy in the air, but it was just Peter. Hearing his loved ones be read out like a list of losses put him on edge. The deaths were old wounds, and yet they never truly healed. He’s lost so many people. And then there was the fact that his identity was completely out in the open. Hydra was a terrorist organization. Them knowing was dangerous, and it’s going to take an insane amount of damage control to come back from this. That is, if there is anything to come back to.

“Now for the stuff off the record.”

Oh shit.

There's a lot of stuff off the record.

“You became Spider-man at age fourteen. Tony Stark swooped in and gave you a better suit and an internship, acting like you mattered even though he really just needed you to fight one of his battles for him. Somehow the internship evolved to him mentoring you. But a year later May Parker dies from brain cancer. Stark adopts you after her death. Nobody understood why Stark would give a shit about a random, poor kid from Queens. Maybe that’s the reason it was all under the table. SHIELD had a lot to do with the cover-up, but I still can’t believe the public never figured it out.”

Nobody knew about the adoption. Nobody. Sure, it was in some government databases, but only a handful of people had access to those files. It was just enough to keep CPS from stepping in. Peter didn’t want the attention that being adopted by a billionaire hero would bring. He was grieving at the time, and it would jeopardize his Spider-man identity in a way that was hard to justify. Tony more than understood. He struck a deal with SHIELD to keep things away from the press. He remembers feeling so relieved. Sometimes it sucked - Peter has the best dad in the world, but he could never tell anyone. But it was the only way to give Peter any sort of private life. Tony knew the value of that better than most.

Hydra knowing these things is a massive security breach. Once again, only a handful of people knew about the adoption. The information was impossibly deep in the database and protected by multiple layers of fail-safes and passcodes. Hydra either has an extremely talented hacker or a very good spy. There’s no telling how much information they have.

The man grins. It’s too wide, showing too many teeth in a way that reminds Peter of a shark. “I’m in charge of your training for now on. You will refer to me as your supervisor, or just ‘sir’ will work. You’re showing a lot of promise, Spider. It’s only been a couple of days, and your wound is already completely healed.”

Wait. A couple of days.

The realization that he’s been here, locked in this tiny metal room, for longer than a few hours is like a shock of ice water.

He’s surprised Wade hasn’t found him yet. Or his dad and the rest of the Avengers.

And then there’s the gunshot wound. He completely forgot about it until the asshole pointed it out. He said it was completely healed, but then why did it kind of hurt? It wasn’t as bad as his headache, or his neck from his senses, or his general nausea at the situation. But there was still this feeling in his chest.

Peter has healed from gunshot wounds before - call it a job hazard. When he was shot in the side, it took a little over a day for him to be back on the streets as if nothing had ever happened (much to his dad’s stress). There was never this tightness before. Because that’s how Peter’s chest felt now, tight and pinching. Something was wrong.

The confusion must have shown on his face. The man’s expression somehow got even sharper.

“Of course, the bullet is still in there.”

Peter’s eyes widen at the words. It has to come out. He doesn’t know much about medical stuff outside of basic first aid, basic being the keyword there, but even he knows that leaving a bullet inside his body isn’t a smart move. It being in his chest has to cause complications. What about lead poisoning? Isn’t that a thing?

His body already healed around it, though. The best option might be to just leave it alone?

“Here, use this.” Peter struggles not to wince at the man’s sudden movement. A knife clatters to the floor next to him. “The sedative will probably wear off in another half hour or so.”

Peter’s first instinct is to laugh. “Oh yeah, sure, give the prisoner a weapon. You clearly aren’t the brightest crayon in the box, are you?”

He’s conflicted for only a second (because let’s be honest, poking a bear with a stick is never the best idea). Spider-man is known to act like a shithead from time to time, and Peter isn’t any different. They want him alive. Considering the drama, he has the right to act like a bit of a nuisance.

The guy refuses to take the bait. “Believe me, Spider, if I thought of you a threat I wouldn’t be doing this. You’re weak, vulnerable. You have so much to learn, and I have taken it upon myself to be your teacher.” The man moves to touch his face, but he thankfully thinks better of it, withdrawing his hand at the last moment. “One of your first lessons is how fragile you are.”

Peter spits in his face.

The blow that comes is expected. He slumps over from the force of the punch, still limp from drugs, and he is unable to catch himself before hitting the floor. Still, Peter has a quick sense of satisfaction because at least he managed to piss the man off. He got a reaction out of him. If Hydra expected Peter to make this easy for them, they have another thing coming.

He’s dragged back to a sitting position by his hair. The guard holds him there, leaving his hands pulling at the strands hard enough for Peter to try (and fail) to shuffle in an effort to release some tension. His supposed supervisor is furiously wiping his face with a cloth, cursing. Peter feels just the smallest bit smug. Because fuck you, guy.

The man visibly collects himself. Taking a deep breath, he turns back to address him again.

“I can't wait to see you in pain. It’s going to be fun to watch your skin part like a zipper when you dig that bullet out. That pretty face of yours will look even better screwed up in tears. And, when that not enough, I’ll make sure to watch the experiments. We have so much to learn about your powers. How much can your healing factor take before it completely fails you? Can you still stick to walls even after we peel your skin off?” He smiles wide, eyes distant as if picturing it.

There’s an inkling of fear. The man’s expression is so unhinged it makes Peter pale. Not for the first time, he realizes how much danger he’s in. This isn’t a random bad guy off the street. This is Hydra. And the guy in charge of him is insane.

He needs to find a way out of here. Either he helps himself, or he’s stuck waiting who-knows-how-long for Wade and the Avengers. He might not have the time to wait for rescue.

The man continues, “Don’t worry. After we get everything we need out of the experiments, you’ll work for us. Hydra is a great cause, and we always need more soldiers. You have the potential to be the best of us all.”

“I’ll never work for you. I’d die first.”

“If that’s what you choose to believe. There are ways to change your mind.”

He gestures to the guards and they follow him out the door. The metal makes a loud banging noise when it’s slammed, the sound of the locking mechanism bounces off the walls. Peter instantly feels like he’s suffocating.

They leave him alone with the cameras and the blade.

Chapter Text

It’s been four days since the last Spider-man sighting. The news is questioning the hero’s accountability, the public is getting nervous, and Wade is about this close to a meltdown.

Because here’s the thing: Spidey doesn’t take breaks, at least not in the years Wade has known him. He looks it up, and Spidey’s last disappearance was about a decade ago, back when he was still relatively new to the heroing business. He was gone for a little over two months, but he had other heroes patrolling his usual areas in his absence. It wasn’t like he just disappeared out of the blue.

Wade sent a few texts last night, lacking his usual chat-speak and jokes because there’s absolutely no humor left in him. 

Wade: Listen Webs, I’m getting really worried. I don’t think you would give up patrol just bc I made you uncomfortable. I think something bad might have happened to you. I don’t wanna violate your privacy, but I need to assume the worst at this point and start looking for you.

Wade: The only starting place I can think of is finding out your secret identity.

Wade: I’ll give you some time to respond just in case you’re ok. If I don’t hear from you in a bit I’m going to start looking.

No response. Fine, okay. He can do this.

[He’s going to hate you for this.] White hisses.

Yellow stays quiet.

Even though it feels wrong, he starts by mapping their patrol routes (or as close to the routes as he can remember, a lot of times Spidey mixes it up just to keep it random). He notes that they always meet up on a roof just outside of Queens and, if they don’t loop back to that same roof, they part ways even further into that area. Maybe that’s not pure coincidence.

He logs in to YouTube to search for Spider-man sightings in Queens. And yeah, there’s plenty of them. It looks like Queens was the only area ‘early Spider-man’ protected. Only in the last eight years or so has Spidey branched out his patrols to the rest of the city. More recently, he’s still patrolling the rest of the city, but he stops more sporadically in Queens versus anywhere else. Queens residents are more likely to see him outside of his normal patrol times.

That’s a good start. He’s thinking about calling Weasel for help when he hears a knock at his door.

He ignores it, jotting more notes down about Spidey and Queens and the possibilities there. He grinds his teeth together as the knocking progresses to banging. It’s getting on his nerves, but he’s too busy to deal with it right now.

“I know you’re in there, Deadpool!” A voice yells from the hallway. It's punctuated with an even louder assault on his door.

Wade is across the room in seconds. He’s more than a little pissed, wrenching the door open stiffly. “What do you want now, you entitled prick? I’m fucking busy.”

Tony Stark is out of place in more ways than one. His profile doesn’t match the peeling wallpaper of the hallway or the leaky ceiling. But he could, if you took him at face value without knowing who he is. He isn’t wearing his usual suit, instead opting for track pants and a stained t-shirt. He smells like coffee. He needs to shave. His haggard appearance makes Wade anxious.

Before the man can speak, Wade ushers him inside. He lets the door slam behind them as he makes his way back to the kitchen table, picking up his pen and looking over his notes again.

Tony narrows his eyes at the map, the notes, the laptop. “What’s all this?” He sounds angry.

“Spider-man is missing.”

“And you’re going after his secret identity? Seriously? The second he’s gone?” Tony scoffs, shaking his head. “You know, I always warned him about you. I’m surprised you haven’t figured it out already.”

Wade gets defensive. Of course Tony would try to turn his concern into something else. “I’ve never looked before, asshole. I know this might come as a shock to you, but I’ve always respected Spidey’s secrets. I care about him.”

Tony leans closer. Wade can see him considering the words, see the cogs turning in his brain. It’s honestly surprising - Tony and Wade don’t hate each other, not really, but Tony has never trusted him. The extent of their contact is rough team-ups every now and then. It got worse when Wade and Spidey became friends/patrol partners. Turns out, Tony is super protective of the younger hero. He tried everything in the book to get them to stop working together, pointing out Wade being crazy, his mercenary jobs, his terrible morals. Spidey never listened.

Wade would’ve probably done the same thing in Tony’s shoes, so he doesn’t hold a grudge. There’s mutual, reluctant respect.

“What changed then?” Tony asks. It’s softer, less of an attack and more like an unstable truce.

“I’m worried. He’s never disappeared before and he’s not answering my calls. I don’t know how to find him, fuck, I don’t know his name. How am I supposed to find him if I don’t know who he is?” Wade looks up. Takes a deep breath, feeling Tony’s eyes locked on him. “Trust me, if I could figure out a way around this I wouldn’t be looking. I don’t have a choice.”

Tony braces his hands against the table. Tense, yet he lets his shoulders sag in defeat.

“I’m worried, too. I’m scared.” He suddenly sounds on the verge of tears.

“Tony-”

“I don’t know if I’m making the right decision, if this is what he would want me to do. But I’m stuck, the rest of the Avengers are stuck, and I’m trying not to waste any more time. I need help.”

Wade gets up. He grabs Tony’s arm and leads him into the living room, gesturing for them to move to the couch. He notices for the first time how old Tony looks. He wears his stress, practically doubled over with the weight of it. Wade vaguely wonders if he looks the same.

“Try to calm down, okay? I know you have heart problems. Spidey would freak if something happened to you.”

Tony blinks his red-rimmed eyes. “I went to his apartment a couple of days ago. Shattered window. Bullet holes everywhere. Blood.”

Wade feels his breath rip out of him.

The fear that takes over him is burning and icy all at once. Either way, it’s drowning him in a tidal wave. Poor Tony already looks swept away.

“Please, you need to tell me everything. Just- please Tony.” Wade is so desperate. So, so desperate. 

The man nods. He stares at the wall, seeming distant and avoiding Wade’s eye contact. Maybe he’s afraid of what he would see there.

“Come with me to the Compound. I’ll tell you everything, but I want to do it in a secure place.” He speaks with surprising clarity.

Wade wants to argue, wants to point out that the Compound is an hour's drive from here. But instead, he jerks his head in a horrible imitation of a nod. Because he more than understands Tony’s reluctance. They don’t know who they’re dealing with or what those people are capable of. Wade runs to his room to grab his emergency time-to-scram duffel bag. 

Tony leads the way out the door.

——

The drive is made in complete silence. No attempts at small talk, not when the air is so heavy it feels like it could crush them.

Wade couldn’t stay in his head too much. At least, not the emotional side. The boxes were uncharacteristically quiet, either stewing in anger or shocked into sadness. Probably both. Wade tries to channel his time in the military. Make a plan. Stay tactical, save the crying for later. Now is the time to be rational.

They pull up to the Compound. It’s huge and beautiful and completely obnoxious, a perfect headquarters for the Avengers. Wade has only been here a handful of times, always side-by-side with Spidey.

{I feel like I’m gonna cry.} Yellow says, voice small. It’s the first thing they’ve said in two days.

“Me too.”

So much for keeping his emotions in check. Fucking hell.

Yellow lets out a sob. 

White makes soft cooing noises in response to Yellow’s crying. [Shh, shh. It’s okay, I promise. Wade will find him.]

Tony leads Wade to a big conference room. Banner, Steve, Nat, and Clint are already there, but they cut off their conversation the second Wade enters the room. Fair. Clint is the only one who likes him, and the man shoots him a smile as he takes his seat. Everyone looks exhausted, purple bags under their eyes and sipping various caffeinated drinks. 

“Tony, are you sure this is the best course of action?” Cap asks. There’s a crease between his brows and his lips are pursed together. “We can still find him ourselves. We don’t have to take such… drastic measures.”

“I know we could, but it would take too long. It’s been days. We don’t even know who took him!” Tony snapped.

“I would never do anything to hurt Spidey. You all know that.”

Clint grabs his shoulder. “Let me remind you guys of his skills. Telling Wade who Spider-man is could easily cut the time it takes to find him in half. There’s a reason SHIELD asks him to do missions for them. The bastard’s super annoying, but he’s good at his job. And I trust him.”

“Awww, Clint! Don’t make me blush!” Wade laughs (so what if it’s forced). Clint shoves him for it.

“I trust him, too.” Tony says.

Cap stares Tony down for a second. He must see something he likes because he gives a small nod.

“Okay Wade, here’s the file we have on Spider-man.” Tony passes him a vanilla folder. Wade squints in confusion at the doodles and stickers all over it. “Before you open it, let me give you the TL;DR version: Spider-man is my son, His real name is Peter Benjamin Parker, age twenty-five. He has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in biochemical engineering. He’s currently working on his doctorate. His civilian life doesn’t have any known enemies, but it’s possible someone found out that he is the heir to Stark Industries - that could’ve put a target on his back.”

Wade clings to the information like a lifeline.

Peter Parker

Peter Parker

Peter Parker

Peter Parker

His thoughts are sluggish, a little overwhelmed.

Two degrees. Wow, he knew his baby boy was a genius. And his name is the most beautiful thing Wade’s heard in a long, long time. He barely processes Tony putting a picture in front of him.

Peter is gorgeous. Beautiful, unruly brown curls stick out in all directions. His smile is wide, head thrown back in a laugh, reaching his chocolate eyes and almost making them sparkle. Wade instantly recognizes the shape of his mouth, but the laugh is so much better now that he can see the whole picture.

Peter Parker.

Chapter Text

Peter lets out a breath the second he’s alone. His spidey sense (as Wade dubbed it) is making itself known, the siren screaming, run, being watched, hide, run inside his head. Not very helpful. He forces the tension out of his shoulders and pointedly ignores the knife on the ground. Truthfully, that man more than scared him. The way his face twisted in glee fills Peter with this huge sense of dread.

Despite all his years of being Spider-man, Peter has never been in such a scary situation. He’s never been tortured before, and he can’t say he’s excited about it, either.

But he’s antsy, needing something to do in order to feel like he’s somewhat in control. He starts by examining his cell for weak spots. The cell is made entirely of metal, most likely vibrainium, though he lacks the strength to check. Smooth gray walls are only interrupted by the security camera in the corner. There’s a plain mattress on the ground, and Peter is annoyed that he doesn’t even have a bed frame or sheets to use as potential weapons. He moves on, summoning all his strength and his sticky fingers to crawl over to the mattress. His muscles are still weak from the drugs and the crawling makes them burn.

Might as well get some rest while he can… because there’s nothing else he can do.

He ignores the questionable stains and tries to be grateful that he has a place other than the floor to lay his aching body. It’s impossible to find a comfortable position, so he gives up on trying rather quickly. He lays on his back and takes in the lack of color. He stares at the ceiling like he’ll find the way out of this mess, but it’s the same metal as the walls, just as unforgiving.

He hates this. The cell is a jar, the camera is a microscope, and Peter is a fucking bug. There’s no chance of him getting out by himself, especially not if they keep drugging his powers away. He feels so exposed. Stripped down and reduced back to the weak body he hasn’t lived in since high school. His fingers still stick slightly and he still feels his strength beneath the surface, but deep down he knows it’s only the drugs wearing off. He’s helpless.

It’s a scary reality. He doesn’t know how long he’s been gone -  he could have been unconscious for days or hours and he’d never know the difference. The likelihood of Hydra telling him is laughable, they will want to keep him as disoriented as possible to mess with him even further. It’s a typical method for prisoner situations because of how well it works. His anxiety is at the front of his brain, pulling his thoughts in uncomfortable directions. There are too many questions that don’t have answers.

How long has he been missing? Has anyone even noticed he’s gone? How is he going to get out of this? 

Spider-man has been in some rough situations in the past, but nothing like this. It feels hopeless.

His dad engineered his way out when he was captured. Wade fought until he freed himself. But what could Peter do?

Nothing.

~

He has no idea how long he stares at the knife before the guards come. They give him a couple of pointed looks (Why haven’t you used it?), and in doing so they see exactly what this is. That this is a battle of wills, Peter testing the waters, wondering if he can get away with refusing an order. Because he really doesn’t want to cut into his own chest.

Peter disobeyed his supervisor. And the guards beat him over it.

It’s vicious and brutal. Punches. Kicks. Belts. Batons. One of the men takes the knife to his shoulder just to watch him bleed.

It goes on for far too long. He cries and screams until his throat is raw. He gags on the blood that fills his mouth, and he curls himself into a ball, trying and failing to protect his ribs. The pose itself is a testament to his weakness, a sign of surrender that makes him hate himself a little more. But the men are merciless. Blow after blow, cut after cut. His back and sides and head. It hurts so much, and he knows that giving in to the pain is the equivalent of letting them win. Heroes don’t beg - but he has never been the most heroic. His tears paint tracks down his face as he cries for them to stop, for his dad or Wade to come save him. It’s shameful.

Finally it’s over. It’s a surprise that Peter stayed conscious through all of that, or at least Peter is surprised. The blows have stopped coming, but he remains a crumpled heap on the floor, shaking and sobbing and feeling like a sorry piece of shit. He’s a pile of limbs on the ground. 

Black, blue, and purple. Definitely broken.

The guards spit on him on their way out.

Once again, Peter is left alone with the camera and the knife. But this time the knife is already bloody. He can barely move, but this time he reaches for it.

~

There’s blood all over the ground. He lets his thoughts stray, and he finds that the crimson puddles remind him of Wade’s suit. He supposes there’s beauty to the color, but only in a morbid way. There’s only a slight difference in shade between the reds they hide in, and yet the color association seems to completely shift. His red is the color of apples, Wade’s is the color of death. Maybe that’s what he was going for, being a merc and all. Maybe Peter is just being dramatic.

It’s not like it matters right now, Peter is wearing gray.

He’s so thirsty, so thirsty he’s debating on lapping the blood off the floor. He tells himself that it wouldn’t even be that bad, as long as he’s able to get past the coppery smell and the taste.

The combination of lack of water and the throat-tearing screams leave Peter feeling desperate. It’s disgustingly tempting because he needs something, something to wet his mouth and to take the edge off the rawness of his throat. It pools in the corner of his cell. He had tried to be gentle with himself, but that doesn’t matter when you’re cutting through flesh and digging out a bullet. His chest bleeds sluggishly while his healing works overtime, and all Peter would have to do is catch some in his hand and bring it to his lips-

The cell door bangs open. The force it hits the wall with makes a noise that reminds him of a gunshot.

His heart pounds and his there’s a roaring sound in his ears. He can’t take another beating - he can’t. He tries to keep his panic under control, but his breathing comes out shaky and too fast, burning his poor throat.

Moving hurts, so he barely shifts positions, just enough to where he can look without leaving his bed. He makes a conscious effort not to cringe back at the sight out the guards, even when he sees that they’re approaching. It’s stupid, they can probably see how terrified he is anyway. His wounds make him cry out at the way they manhandle him.

They are dragging him out the door. “What are you doing?! Stop it! Let me go! Where are you taking me?!”

His struggles aren’t getting him anywhere. Tears streak down his cheeks, products of his frustration and absolute fear.

“Can one of you shut him up?”

“No. You know he’s going in for testing.” Another guard answered, the response making Peter flail even more. Testing can never be a good thing.

The walls are white and all look the same. Peter tries to keep track of the turns, but he’s too busy panicking to track the twists in the maze. The walls are occasionally interrupted by the occasional rooms, but for the most part there isn’t anything that stands out. They finally come to the end of aa corridor, having to pause in front of a steel door to use a key card.

When the door swings open there is a sea of white coats. There are at least ten of them, all gathered around a table. Peter doubles his escape efforts when he sees the metal straps and the instruments that are in their hands, and he suddenly can’t get enough air. His eyes are blown wide in fear. He doesn’t know if he can take this. He recognizes the beginnings of a panic attack.

“Get him strapped in.” A voice bites out. Hands immediately push and pull and wrestle him onto the table.

He wrapped in a haze, distant with exhaustion, so it’s not like he put up much of a fight when they strap him down. Metal goes over his ankles, knees, hips, and chest. They yank his arms above his head and strap down his wrists and elbows. It’s effective. He’s strapped down excessively, but there’s no way he can move. He can’t stop shaking his head. No no no no no. He doesn’t realize he’s speaking out loud.

He flinches back when he feels a hand on his face. His blurry vision is enough to make out a woman. Her hair is pulled away from her face and glasses frame her warm brown eyes. Her touch is so gentle that Peter almost wants to beg her for help, but she’s still wearing a surgical mask and latex gloves.

“You need to calm down, sweetheart. This will go so much smoother if you cooperate.” She says. Peter is still sobbing, too focused on the knives, drills, and hammers on the side table to focus on anything else. “Spider, calm down. I have to get this muzzle on you.”

That makes Peter freeze. He lets out an impossibly quiet, “Muzzle?”

She nods. “So that you don’t bite your tongue off with the screaming.”

Peter clenches his jaw shut. They, predictably, just pry it open.

He starts when he sees how the muzzle looks. It’s long and strange looking, a rubber tube a couple of inches wide with a thicker, metal cap on the end. The woman explains it without prompting. “This tube part is going down your throat. The metal here is going to extend after application, so it’ll only cover your mouth and chin. It leaves your nose free for breathing, and we can release a mechanism that will allow us to tube-feed you and control your water intake. Don’t panic, the tube is protected and covered by the muzzle for safety purposes - we can’t have anything getting ingested by accident.”

The hands on his jaw tighten when they start forcing it down his throat. He sobs even harder. It’s rough, his body tries to reject the intrusion, heaving coughs and gags and fruitless lurching. He can’t breathe. He can’t breathe. He can’t fucking breathe and they are muzzling him like an animal. Worse than an animal, because there’s nothing internal to a dog muzzle.

There are even more hands when they have the tube in place, messing with the end of the metal. He’s still jerking and crying, so he can’t see what they do to get the metal to extend out. He hears whirring sounds as it stretches over the bottom half of his face and clings there. It’s so tight that it digs into his flesh and makes him bleed. He feels the warmth drip down his throat.

One of the white coats, a man with gray hair and soft features, pipes up. “It’s really tight. Shouldn’t we loosen it?”

“No. Why bother?” The woman says. “He wouldn’t even have the muzzle if he didn’t mouth off to his supervisor.”

She wipes Peter’s tears with her sleeve, and he resents that he can’t shove her away from him.

"Someone start recording and pass me the scalpel."