It would be on a day that Peter has already privately dubbed in his head as a Very Bad One, the kind that really warrants capitalization just to emphasize how Very Bad it is, that he has a run-in with the infamous Merc with a Mouth for the first time. Good, old-fashioned Parker luck in action, that’s what it is.
He’s in civvies, on his way home from an especially shitty day at work—phrases like “moron” and “half-assed” and “lazy goddamn editing” are still pinging around in his skull, long after Jameson’s fourteen-minute rant about a misprint on page eight that wasn’t even Peter’s fault—and all he wants to do is get home, curl himself into a ball in his favorite corner between the bedroom and closet doors, bury himself under a mountain of blankets and pillows to shut out the world for a few hours, and maybe also fidget for a bit with his favorite stim toy that he forgot at home on accident this morning, the flexible one that he can bend and twist in his hands and even chomp down on so he doesn’t resort to chewing on his fingers when he’s stressed.
His fingers are currently still an angry minefield of pock marks and jagged little indentations from his teeth which haven’t gone away entirely yet, because while his healing factor may work pretty fast, it’s of very little help when his digits kept finding their way back into his mouth today anyway every time Jameson raised his voice at another intern in the office, which was often. If given the choice, Peter would take being shoved into a room full of every super-powered villain he’s ever fought over being stuck in a room alone with his boss, any day of the week. At least as Spider-Man he has somewhere productive to channel all his excess energy and nervous tension into, like punching people in the face who actually hate Spider-Man with good reason since he keeps getting in the way of all their crimes and evil-doings.
It’s a bad night to go patrolling and Peter knows this, knows if he doesn’t get home soon that the day will take an even worse turn for him than it already has. He’s just one little push away from having a Very, Very Bad Episode, he can tell from the way he’s already begun to feel claustrophobic and ready to spill out of his own skin just from the usual loud, grating noises of the city.
Unfortunately, it’s also a bad night for Peter to hope he can actually catch a break for once, as his spidey sense starts going off seconds before his sensitive ears pick up shouting just a few streets over. He’s already ducking into an empty alleyway to change into his suit on instinct, his own problems be damned for the moment. He’s not gonna ignore a helpless person in need, no matter how much every sound jars him and the thrumming anxiety keeps building and building beneath his skin.
Half of the scene he finds when he webs his way over and lands silently on the edge of the nearest rooftop is one he’s all too used to seeing—a crying woman with her shirt torn open, a looming man holding her close with a knife poised near her face. Peter would already be on the ground and pummeling the guy with just a bit more force than he normally uses against non-supers, because it’s just that kind of night for him and this guy so clearly deserves it, if not for the other half of the scene that is distressingly not familiar in this kind of situation.
There’s a third party standing just a few feet away and pointing a gun at the other two, a figure clad from head to toe in red and black with swords strapped to his back. It takes his brain a frustratingly long time to place why the figure seems familiar when he’s certain he’s never seen this person before in his life, and by then it doesn’t matter because there’s talking now and Peter’s brain needs to focus on more important things, like understanding what the hell is going on.
“I’m only gonna ask nicely one more time,” says the masked figure, voice low and rough like gravel and gunpowder and hnnng, Peter should ask if he does ASMR videos later when things aren’t so tense because really, wow, “let the lady go and I’ll think about not spattering your brains all over those bricks behind you. That wall looks like it’s already seen worse, I’m sure a little more redecorating won’t hurt.”
It takes a second to process the words when he’s already so distracted by the voice itself, but Peter can tell that he means it when his spidey sense suddenly starts singing more shrilly along his nerves, and before he knows it he’s already pointing his shooters and snatching both knife and gun away with a quick flick of his wrists before landing smoothly in the alleyway beside them. The girl immediately takes off running in one direction with a quick shout of thanks while her assailant takes off in the other.
“Oh my god, SPIDEY!!” The same man who stood so serious and menacing only a second before now shrieks like one of Spider-Man’s fangirls, which ow, is decidedly less awesome than the volume his voice was at earlier and jangles harshly against Peter’s already frayed nerves, both of his hands now slapped against his cheeks in a comical gesture of awe. “Someone pinch me, this can’t be real! Okay, be cool, man, be cool,” the man says, seemingly talking to himself now before slouching against the nearest wall with an air of poised casualness, one leg crossed over the other. “So, what’s a nice spider like you doing in a dark, grimy alleyway like this?” he asks, visibly waggling his brows even underneath the mask.
“Not now, Deadpool!” says Spider-Man, the name clicking in place finally from that dossier he saw in the Avengers Tower a long time ago as he chases the criminal down.
“Oh em gee, he knows our name!” the man squeals once more. It’s a little less jarring than the shriek from earlier, but still the last thing Peter knows how to deal with right now.
He catches up with the would-be rapist and webs his feet to the pavement so he can’t get away. There, that should hold him until the cops arrive. He can’t very well pull his shoes off to escape with webbing trapping the laces of his boots in place as well. The man starts babbling or pleading or something with Spider-Man, clearly more terrified of the mercenary behind them, which reminds Peter that he should be terrified as well since he knows the merc’s reputation and all, but his spidey sense is no longer vibrating all along his spine to warn him of danger, so he chooses to file that under Not Relevant at the moment. He webs the guy’s mouth shut as well, so that it’s one less grating noise he has to deal with, and wonders idly if he could get away with doing the same to the mercenary before deciding he’d rather not risk getting shot at himself if he can avoid it tonight.
“The cops should be here any minute now. Go home, Deadpool,” he says, and swings away on his web without waiting to see if his order is obeyed. He thinks he should be more concerned that the merc might turn right around and kill the man once he’s gone, and wonders what it says about him that he isn’t. He’s always had a little less forgiveness in his heart for sex offenders than other types of criminals, but generally he still wouldn’t leave one to possibly die if he could help it.
He lands on the nearest rooftop a few buildings from where he left his civilian clothes, pacing in a haphazard circle and rolling his mask up to his nose so he can bite his fingers again through his gloves even though the texture against his teeth is all wrong, debating with himself whether or not he should go back or just head home to that pile of blankets waiting for him and hope the other man actually listened to him.
He jumps back and pulls his mask down again in a hurry, spidey sense warning him only about a second before the mercenary suddenly just appears with a whoosh of strange energy right in front of him out of nowhere.
“Teleporter,” the man points proudly at a strange circular object strapped to the front of his chest. “Pretty sweet, eh?”
“Sweet, eh,” Peter repeats in that blank, empty way he does when sounds make sense but the meaning attached to them doesn’t until he parrots them back. “Sweet. Yeah, sweet,” he agrees when the sound becomes a word again, still in monotone, fairly certain he would find it cool under normal circumstances, when his heart and his stomach aren’t competing to see who can do the most backflips inside of his ribcage.
“Spider-Man, oh my gosh, I am the hugest fan! Heh, hugest,” the man snickers. “And I mean that in more ways than one, baby boy, if you catch my drift.” He leans a little closer with one hand cupped around the side of his mouth so he can stage whisper, “My penis.” Peter’s mouth spasms in the approximation of a smile to signify that yes, he gets the joke even though he doesn’t actually, at least not until a few seconds after the fact because words, words, what are words again, oh right, ha ha, good one. It’s a scripted response, learned after years of figuring out that people don’t like it if his face stays blank and non-emotive when they’re speaking directly to him, and it doesn’t even occur to him that it’s useless here since Deadpool can’t see it through his mask anyway.
Deadpool is still talking and Peter is no longer listening at all, not because he doesn’t want to so much as his brain has decided there are more important things to pay attention to, like his heart still jack-rabbiting in his chest and the blood pounding in his ears even though, wait, that’s not right because his spidey sense is no longer trying to warn him of danger, which is also weird actually because this is Deadpool and every hero he knows including the Avengers and the X-Men have always warned him stay away from Deadpool, but Deadpool is here and his spidey sense isn’t going off, unless it is and Peter can’t tell anymore? Because his heart is still beating really, really fast and he’s breathing fast too and the world is swaying, or maybe Peter is, and oh, oh god, oh no. He knows what this is.
“Hey, uh, Spidey? Are you…okay?” the masked mercenary asks, reaching out a hand as if to touch him on the shoulder and Peter screams, a bestial, wordless thing, and propels himself backward against the nearest wall with enough force to make the bricks shift behind him a bit.
“Don’t,” Peter says, breathless and ragged. “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t…” It stopped being a word about two iterations in and became an anchor for his brain to latch onto, something solid and satisfying to examine the shape of inside his mouth and drown out the sound of blood pulsing in his ears, at least until he stops saying it and starts mouthing it silently instead. Then…wait, was that shape again? Peter forgets and all there is is breath and blood, and the world is too small and it feels like dying even though he knows it’s not, knows he just needs to breathe, it’s okay, it’ll be over soon, just breathe, just breathe…
He doesn’t know how much time passes. Probably just a few minutes. It’s hard to tell.
More minutes pass. He’s still breathing deep, in through his nose, out through his mouth. His head’s a little fuzzy but his chest doesn’t hurt anymore. At some point, he rolled his mask up to his nose again, probably so he could breathe easier. He’s sitting with his knees drawn up and his back against the wall, head lolled back staring up at the sky and at nothing in particular. The stars are especially pretty tonight, surprisingly clear in spite of the city smog. Peter wonders if he could name any of the constellations if he’d paid closer attention to the pictures in his Astronomy textbook.
The sound of a throat clearing, unusually gentle. Peter would startle anyway if he had the energy for it. Instead his shoulders barely twitch a little, but that’s it. Another deep breath. His head lolls forward. Deadpool is still here. Wait, Deadpool is still here?
The other man is sitting several feet away, well out of Peter’s personal space bubble and just...watching him. Peter suspects he’ll feel embarrassed about this later, when he comes down from the floaty, calm spell that follows sometimes in the wake of his particularly bad attacks, after giving them everything he has and coming out of them feeling relatively like a human being again. It’s been months since he’s had an episode like this at all actually, and he’s always been so, so careful before now not to do it in front of other heroes or villains or...whatever Deadpool is exactly, certainly, absolutely never as Spider-Man. Sure, the Avengers know that he’s “a bit different,” but he tries to hide the worst parts of it like this.
He doesn’t think he’d mind people knowing he’s autistic really. It’s just who he is, how he thinks, and there are good days he’s sort of proud of it actually, or at the very least happy in the traits he likes about himself. Then there are the things he could do without, like the anxiety disorder that came along later after Uncle Ben died that he’s never seen a doctor about because he doesn’t have the time or the insurance for that, the panic attacks he’s had to hide from Aunt May almost as aggressively as the whole “masked vigilante” thing, the times when he misses nonverbal cues or totally misreads situations, or even just the moments when he really needs to stim and fidget but has to suppress the urge because the setting is “inappropriate” for it.
Peter realizes he’s been staring for an indeterminate amount of time without moving, but the other man doesn’t seem disturbed by it in the least the way anyone else would be by now. He even waits until Peter sits up just the teeniest bit straighter, signifying that he’s actually paying attention now and not just gazing ahead blankly, then lifts his hands in front of him in a carefully slow manner meant not to startle before signing, ‘Feeling better now?’
Peter would be making a sound not unlike a surprised, happy whimper in the back of his throat right about now, if he knew how to make sounds again yet. He feels his throat and lips working in the correct movement for it, absent the vibrations of his vocal chords. So, still nonverbal for the moment. Okay. He’s not going to ask right now how Deadpool knew that or why no one ever thought to mention badass things to Spider-Man about Deadpool like the fact that he knows freaking ASL, but he can at least respond honestly to the man’s question, ‘Maybe. Can’t talk yet.’
Deadpool nods sagely as if that’s simply to be expected. ‘You can,’ Peter continues signing. ‘But inside voice please.’
Deadpool chuckles, gesturing both arms out widely as if to encompass the open skies above them. “We’re not exactly indoors right now but alright, baby boy, I gotcha,” he says, voice quiet and rumbling like when Peter first heard him speak, but friendly and jovial, not cold and intimidating. Peter likes it a lot. It also reminds him though that he has another question that needs asking.
‘Do you do AS—’ No wait, stop, abort. Not that question. At least not yet anyway. He gestures dismissively for Deadpool to ignore that and tries again. ‘That man?’ he asks instead.
“Who, Rapey McGee?” Deadpool asks, his tone darker and chillier once again. “He’s fine. Cops took him in by now I’m sure. Worried I was gonna unalive him the second your back was turned?” he asks. Peter nods. It’s simply the truth after all. Deadpool snorts. “Nah, I wouldn’t do you wrong like that, Spidey! It’d make you look complicit with those webs on his feet and all if he turned up with a bullet in his head, now, wouldn’t it?”
That’s also true, but not the reason Peter was concerned about it. That thought hadn’t even occurred to him honestly. ‘No killing in my city,’ he responds simply. He’s not about to give the man a lecture about his occupation since that would be downright hypocritical, and at least the man doesn’t lie to himself about his reasons for killing like so many other superheroes do, but he can at least lay down the law about what happens on his own turf.
Deadpool whines, actually literally whines and slumps his shoulders and makes what appears to be some kind of pouty face through the mask, and Peter is stunned to realize he finds it utterly adorable. Deadpool, adorable? That’s not a word Peter’s ever heard anyone use to describe the man either, and he’s beginning to wonder now if anyone has ever tried actually talking to him at all.
“Man, what is it with you and the Avengers all trying to cramp my style? Okay, fine, I’ll do it for you, but only because that is the prettiest, most kissable-iest half of a face I have ever seen in my life.” Deadpool tilts his head slightly, as though listening to something else, and mumbles, “Well it is a word now, so shut up! I’m talking to Spidey here.”
Peter is unfazed by the man talking to himself. He remembers reading something in the file about what Deadpool apparently refers to as his ‘boxes,’ and who is he to judge a fellow neurodiverse individual after all? He does let out a soft, inaudible gasp at the mention of his face though, fingers reaching up to touch bare skin as he suddenly recalls rolling his mask back up again. His fingers twitch to yank it back down, then hesitate, hovering and uncertain because on the one hand, face should be covered, but on the other hand, face already not covered. Deadpool has already seen now what he looks like from the nose down anyway. His brain also processes after a moment that there was a compliment about his appearance in there somewhere, and that dredges up a separate reaction that makes him even more confused and uncertain.
“Ooooh, now that’s a cute blush,” says the merc in obvious appreciation. It’s a bit staggering to Peter how easy it is for him to read the man. He appreciates being around someone who advertises his emotions and social cues clearly enough for them to make some kind of sense. “I’d love to see where the rest of it goes sometime, and…uh, timeout actually, cos I should really ask before this goes any further, how old are you exactly?”
Peter decides there’s no harm in telling the older man that much and signs his age for him, ‘Nineteen.’
“Whew, that’s a relief!” Deadpool says, miming wiping sweat off his brow. “Except wait a minute, hang on, hold the phone, that means you’ve only not been jailbait for like a year or two at most, and I’ve been spanking it to those Bugle pics since you were fift—” He cuts himself off mid-word, seemingly choking on his own spit, and for a second Peter worries he’s about to have to shoot his web out to catch the man from falling backwards over the side of the building.
Deadpool clears his throat and rights himself properly to sit up cross-legged. “It’s okay, I am to-ta-lly fine now,” the man says with great exaggeration. “Let’s just agree to forget I said that last part, okey-deys?” He shudders and makes a disgusted noise then. “Egh, just gave myself Jar Jar flashbacks. I’m shooting myself for that one later.”
‘NO KILLING,’ Peter reminds him with forceful movements of his hands.
“Relax, princess, I’ll skip town first if it means that much to you. Also, I totally do it all the time and always come back, just in case you were worried about never seeing this handsome face again, muffin!” He blows a kiss and Peter’s own lips curl up in response. He can’t help it. Everything about the man’s oddly charming and surprisingly sincere demeanor just puts him right at ease.
“Know what would really make this meet-cute extra special, cutie pie? No jeez, Bold, not that, we don’t wanna scare him off, get your mind out of the gutter!” he exclaims, apparently talking to his boxes once again. “Yes, you can use movie terms in fanfic, Italics, there’s all kinds of examples on TV Tropes to back me up!” He turns his head to the side now as though addressing yet another invisible audience. “Heh, see what we did there, readers? Calling them Bold and Italics instead of Yellow and White because this is text instead of a comic? Writer’s patting himself on the back for it like the smug bastard he is even though he totally ripped that idea off from way better authors.” Peter has little to no understanding of what’s going on in the man’s head at this point, but at least it’s entertaining to watch.
It takes a few minutes, but Deadpool finally seems to cycle back around to what he was going to say earlier, that or he finds another new non-sequitur completely (also possible), for he suddenly jumps up with a clap of his hands and exclaims at the top of his lungs, “ICE CREAM!!”
Peter winces ever so slightly where he sits and Deadpool looks back down to sheepishly sign, ‘Sorry.’ Peter smiles again to show him that it’s okay. It doesn’t set him off badly the way it might have done even just an hour ago, his trust in the mercenary’s sincerity already stronger than it was back then, so no harm, no foul.
“But yeah, ice cream, an excellent first date idea that I definitely did not get from that one Steve Carell movie that’s really a chick flick in disguise only more amazing,” Deadpool says in a rush, voice climbing higher near the end as he clasps his hands together and pops his foot up behind him like a princess in a film. He scoffs and lowers his foot. “Now Bold wants me to make sure your favorite flavor’s not mint chocolate chip though, because he’s a dick like that.”
“Crazy Stupid Love?” Peter asks aloud, weirdly excited because the reference did not click until Deadpool said mint chocolate chip and omg Peter loves that movie, it is so not a chick flick at all, it is a beautiful story about how true love can conquer even the greatest of hardships as long as you put in the effort and fight for your soulmate! Also, the mint chocolate chip ice cream story made him cry at the end and he is not ashamed to admit that to anyone.
“There he is!” Deadpool crows, and Peter should probably be offended at the way that he says it, like Peter is a puppy that learned a new trick simply because his mouth finally figured out how to make noises again, but Deadpool’s good cheer is infectious enough that he can’t help but squirm happily and feel pleased and proud of himself instead.
“Also, now that I know you’ll definitely get the reference,” Deadpool continues, waggling his eyebrows through the mask, “has anyone ever told you that you’re the perfect combination of sexy and cute?”
Peter huffs out a laugh. “Well, that depends,” he says, getting to his feet as well and putting his hands on both hips. “Am I Julianne Moore in this scenario or Marisa Tomei?”
“Oh, definitely a Julianne, baby boy,” Deadpool reassures. “Though I’d prefer we skip over the part where you cheat on me because our marriage has gone stale and just go straight to ‘I’m so happy you bought me that ice cream cone’ and happily ever after.”
Peter rolls his eyes and lowers his mask back over his face. “I can’t very well say it when you haven’t bought me that ice cream cone yet,” he points out. Is this genuine flirting or just ridiculous over-the-top banter? Peter has no idea and that’s honestly a little frustrating, but he doesn’t want to ask and risk weirding out his possibly new friend. And isn’t that a strange concept? Making friends with Deadpool of all people. Peter never would have believed it before today.
“Great Scott, you’re right!” says Deadpool in a shockingly good impression of Doc Brown. “Come on, Spider-babe, we’d better hurry then! If we don’t go now, the only shops left open will be those hipster ice cream parlors that only serve artisanal, organic soy-blends or some shit like that.”
Peter snickers and gestures for Deadpool to take the lead on where they’re going.
On their way down the stairs—no teleporters or webs in this case, because it would kind of be difficult to follow each other that way in the dark—Peter finally answers, “It’s strawberry.”
“Hmm?” Deadpool swivels his head around to look at him.
“My favorite flavor,” Peter clarifies. “Mint chocolate chip is pretty good, but it’s not the best. My favorite is strawberry.”
Even though it’s already dark out and barely noticeable, Peter can tell that the other man is smiling through his mask.
Featuring more dick jokes, singing and dancing, a serious discussion about gender in society (for all of about five seconds), and Wade finally getting Peter that ice cream he promised him.
Who's seen Captain America: Civil War yet? Cuz no spoilers but *happy squealing* Peter is SO FREAKING PERFECT, OH MY GOD!!
Also that Marisa Tomei joke last chapter feels a bit more on the nose now, heh heh.I really still picture Sally Field as Aunt May tbh, but I'm really liking the new casting choices for the MCU as well, I must say. ^_^
But enough about that! Here, have two nerds eating ice cream and mooning over each other like a couple of lovestruck dorks. :P
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“…I’ve had enough, Richard,” Spider-Man hears, catching the tail end of an argument floating down from an open window a few stories up as he and Deadpool pass by another row of apartment buildings on their way to Baskin Robbins. “It’s time to get your act to together. Be a man!”
“You must be swift as a coursing river,” Peter sings softly under his breath. Though not softly enough apparently, for Deadpool stops in his tracks and spins around swiftly to face him.
“With all the force of a great typhoon!” the older man picks up where he left off. Peter couldn’t stop the wide grin spreading under his mask if he wanted to, and he absolutely doesn’t want to. He may also already be fairly vibrating with the urge to wiggle and tap his fingers and bounce up and down on his feet in lieu of all-out flapping, and yep, now he’s doing exactly all of that.
“With all the strength of a raging fire…” Peter continues excitedly.
“…mysterious as the dark side of the moooooon!” the two of them finish loudly together in sync. Not even the people yelling from their apartments for them to shut up and keep the racket down can dampen either of their spirits.
“There is simply not enough appreciation in the world for one of the best Disney movies ever made,” Peter remarks as they start walking again, clucking his tongue disapprovingly at the people who’d yelled.
“Indubitably,” Deadpool agrees in an absurdly posh British accent. “Our benevolent corporate overlords made the right call in making a cartoon about Mulan. That babe is a trans icon!”
Peter tilts his head thoughtfully, considering. “I think she’s meant to be interpreted as a woman crossdressing as a guy, not as a transman.”
Deadpool makes a dismissive pssshaw noise with his lips and waves his hand, saying, “That’s the beauty of fiction, baby boy. You can interpret characters however the hell you want. That’s my headcanon and ain’t nobody taking it from me.”
“Fair enough,” Peter nods.
“Besides, male or female, trans or cis or fluid or all or none of the above, at the end of the day, gender is still just a social construct, you feeling me?” Deadpool adds. “Take me for example! I am the ruggedest, manliest dude around there is, but I look damn fine in a dress. Remind me to show you sometime, sweetcheeks.”
“I will.” Shyly, Peter decides to share, “I headcanon Dale from Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil as an aspie.”
“Oooh, yeah, I can get behind that one!” says Deadpool. He reaches the shop’s door first and holds it open with a magnanimous, “After you, my fine arachnid friend.” Peter almost misses it because it comes at the same time as the tinkling bell chime above the doorway, making it take a moment to separate the sounds out in his head and parse them into words.
“Huh? Oh, thanks.” As he steps inside, the lone employee stuck working the closing shift gives a bored and tired greeting without looking up yet from her phone. She stifles a gasp as soon as she actually realizes who just walked in, however.
“No way! Are you really him?”
“Billionaire philanthropist and genius inventor Hank Pym?” Peter quips. In a flash he hops from one end of the store to the other to land perched on the edge of the glass countertop. “Alas, no, tis only I, your lowly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
“So. Awesome,” the girl says, holding her phone up, presumably to record him. It wouldn’t be the first time, and part of the fun of being hidden behind the mask is it allows him to be a bit of a show-off at times when he normally wouldn’t be as puny Peter Parker. She puts the phone away finally after a minute and clears her throat. “Technically, um, you’re not supposed to be on the counter though.”
“Oh. Right, sorry,” he says, hopping down and rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly with his hand. So much for showmanship.
“This is seriously so cool though, Spider-Man in my store, and, um...” She looks Deadpool up and down, assessing the older man as he walks up. “Scary Spider-Man?” she tries.
Deadpool lets out a scandalized gasp and presses a maidenly hand to his chest. “Scary Spider-Man? Moi? Actually, yeah, you know what, let’s go with that,” he says, relaxing his posture to lean casually on one elbow against the glass. “Makes me sound like one of the Spice Girls, y’know, if Scary Spice got super powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider.”
“Biogenetically engineered,” Peter corrects quietly. Radioactive, really? What is this, a comic book?
“The counter,” the girl reminds the other man. Deadpool springs back and apologizes even more awkwardly and effusively than Peter did, like a kid getting his hand slapped away from a fragile trinket on top of a high shelf. There’s something both a little sad and endearing about it, and Peter finds himself staring again, head tilted, a tiny smile playing on his lips hidden beneath the mask.
“Yo, Earth to Spidey!” the older man says, waving a hand in front of his face. Peter blinks and straightens confusedly. Deadpool wasn’t talking to him this whole time, was he? He thinks he would have noticed something like that. The man clears his throat gently and tilts his head in the direction of the counter. “The ice cream lady’s asking you a question, sugarplum.”
“Oh!” Peter spins around on his heel to face her, thankful the mask covers up his embarrassed flush. Where does Deadpool keep coming up with all these cutesy pet names, and why isn’t Peter more bothered by any of them? “S-sorry about that. Guess I kinda…zoned out there. I do that sometimes. Heh.” The girl smiles patiently and asks again what flavor he’d like. After he points calmly to the strawberry, Deadpool sidles closer and rattles off a list of monstrosities for his own cone that sound downright absurd together, including rocky road, pistachio, and peanut butter.
After dolloping a truly obscene amount of various toppings on the dairy abomination at Deadpool’s request—Peter opts out of getting any, as toppings are the surest way to make the texture all squishy and crunchy and weird and ruin a perfectly good ice cream cone—the cashier attempts to offer both up on the house. Deadpool, to Spider-Man’s shock and amazement, refuses outright.
“Nuh-uh-uh, missy,” the merc says, pulling out a fat wallet covered in peeling stickers of frolicking unicorns, seemingly out of nowhere. “Can’t let you get in trouble on our account for giving out freebies if Baskin Robbins finds out, and believe me,” he says, leaning closer and dropping his voice to an ominous pitch. “Baskin Robbins always finds out.”
Met only with a blank, confused stare, Deadpool throws his hands up in the air in exasperation. “Oh, come on! That was a good, solid reference there! Spidey, you get it, right? I mean you did just mention Pym and all...” Peter shakes his head, but before he can ask how those two things are even connected, Deadpool slaps his own forehead with his free hand. “Oh, riiiight, wrong universe. Whoopsies, my bad,” he says, and continues paying, making sure to leave a huge wad of crumpled bills in the tip jar as well.
Each of them now with an ice cream cone in hand, Deadpool makes a show of stretching his other arm long and languidly towards Spider-Man, loudly telegraphing his intention to put an arm around the younger man’s shoulders while also giving him plenty of time to duck away or say no. To his own surprise, Peter does neither and allows it, the warm and heavy weight of the other’s arm surprisingly not one he wants to shrink away from immediately.
“By the way, all the billionaire philanthropist genius inventors we know and you chose Pym as your example!?” Deadpool exclaims as he steers them both out the back door rather than the front.
“Hank Pym is the coolest out of all of them!” Peter declares, watching for a minute as Deadpool rather impressively climbs the ladder to the roof of the shop one-handed and without spilling a drop of his mountain of ice cream. Gleefully, Peter shoots a line of web out to the ledge and beats him to the top.
“Sneaky little arachnid,” Deadpool mock-grumbles upon finding Peter already sitting and waiting for him on the ledge with his mask rolled halfway up. “Coolest, huh? You are such an adorable nerd if you honestly believe that, but I gotta ask, cooler even than Reed Richards or Tony Stark?”
“Everybody’s cooler than Tony Stark,” Peter mumbles.
“Do I sense some bad blood there, baby boy? No one ever tells me the good gossip! Time to dish, Spider-babe.”
“There’s not much to tell,” Peter shrugs. “He’s pretty alright mostly. Just kind of a tool sometimes.” He doesn’t want to get into it right now and start off on a rant about how frustrating it is to be coddled like a child by the Avengers, partly out of worry that he’ll sound like the whiny kid they think he is, which is the last impression he wants to give Deadpool when they’ve only just met. Not that the other man appears to be a bastion of maturity himself.
“Thank you for the ice cream, Deadpool,” he says before finally taking his first lick. Mmm, heavenly. Aunt May would probably have slapped him upside the head by now for waiting this long to remember his good manners.
Deadpool seems not to hear at first, staring and oddly still as Peter continues to scoop up more sugary strawberry goodness with his tongue. He mumbles something indecipherable, then coughs loudly and exaggeratedly shakes himself, miraculously without losing more than a couple of stray rainbow sprinkles on his ice cream. “You-you’re welcome. And, uh, call me Wade. Wade Wilson.”
Peter freezes, brain gone static. Oh no, how does he respond? How does he respond? He can’t reveal his own secret identity to a dangerous man he just met. On the other hand, not reciprocating makes the relationship unfair and imbalanced and that’s not how you do friendships.
Logically, he knows it’s unreasonable for him to get stuck on this. The other man’s identity isn’t a secret, unlike Peter’s, as he distinctly remembers reading it before in the Avengers’ file now that Deadpool—Wade—has said it aloud. But his brain is chanting at him now anyway that it’s not fair to leave the man hanging and he should just say it, say it, say your name, do it now…
He breathes in calmly and carefully through his nose. No, he tells himself. Not yet. The other man’s been doing the costumed gig long enough himself to understand that’s not something Spider-Man can just blurt out right now. There’s no way he even expects Spider-Man to blurt it out right now. He’s not going to take offense if Peter doesn’t tell him. It’s fine.
“Deadpool—uh…Wade. Are you going to eat your ice cream before it melts?” he asks, thankful to the line of melted pistachio already dripping down the other man’s gloved fingers for distracting him from his other pointless train of thought.
Deadpool chuckles in a way that Peter thinks he can rightly interpret as nervous. “Didn’t exactly think this through,” the man mumbles to himself. “No, we can’t save it for later! We should at least wait til he’s finished though…don’t want to make him sick while he’s eating…”
“Is this about the scars?” Peter asks bluntly. Subtlety often isn’t exactly his strong suit. From the way the panda mask eyes seem to stretch and widen as they look at him, Peter guesses he’s right. “Because I already know about them from your file. It won’t bother me to see them, unless it bothers you for me to see them. I could turn away and not look while you’re eating if you want?” he phrases the last as a question.
Deadpool sighs. “Look, it’s fine, dude. Just try to point that pretty pie-hole away from me if you think you’re gonna hurl, okay?” Peter continues eating his own treat calmly and nods once in tacit agreement in case it wasn’t a rhetorical question, though he’s certain he’s seen worse and that it won’t be necessary, especially since he’s mentally preparing himself for it.
Taking another deep breath, Deadpool reaches up and slowly begins to roll up his mask. Peter casually continues to eat and turns his head slightly, trying to be attentive and supportive without seeming like he’s staring too closely either, which is harder than it sounds. And then, the mask is up, just above Deadpool’s nose, and his lips are twisted up in a nervous half-smile/half-grimace, and Peter…Peter is definitely staring now.
It may be dark out already, but the streetlamps are enough for Peter’s hypersensitive eyes to see clearly that the man’s face is literally riddled with gashes, scars, and pockmarks everywhere. If he looks especially closely, he can see where some of them have started to heal and some look newer like they’re just starting to come in, and he logically concludes that the patterns Wade Wilson bears across his skin today won’t even be the same as the ones he wears tomorrow, might not even be the same as the ones he has a few hours from now.
Peter has never seen anything like it. It looks amazing. His fingertips are tingling with imagined sensations of what it would be like to trace all those patterns and pathways and hnnng, it’s like the man’s sexy ASMR voice all over again in that Peter wants to wrap himself up in it and stim until every skin cell in his body is lit up like a Christmas tree.
“You know, we’re used to awkward silences at first, but usually by this point the other person’s screaming or puking or calling us a freak or…uh…” Wade trails off, confused as Spider-Man snaps out of his daze finally, only to scoot closer and cautiously lift up his free hand.
“Can…can I…?” Peter asks, unaware of the breathy pitch his voice has taken on as he reaches out to brush the man’s face with his still-gloved hand.
Deadpool stops him with a firm yet gentle grip around his wrist when his fingertips are mere inches away, and before he can stop himself Peter lets out a low, involuntary whine in the back of his throat, fingers twitching but otherwise making no attempt to break away or disobey the tacit command.
Wade swallows thickly. “Maybe next time, baby boy,” he says, and gently steers Peter’s hand away from his face before releasing it. “Heh, yeah, you’re telling me,” he mumbles, clearly talking to one of his boxes again despite the fact that he’s still looking at Peter with an expression the younger man can’t interpret.
Peter looks away at last, barely even perturbed by the gross, slurpy noises Deadpool is making as he finally begins devouring his half-melted ice cream cone. He’s too busy reliving the last few seconds and realizing what an embarrassing ass he just made of himself, while also clenching and unclenching over and over again the same hand Wade had just held, still feeling the phantom imprint of fingers curled around his wrist and a lingering trace of the pad of a thumb pressed against the heel of his palm.
He hears chuckling and dares to peek over again. Wade’s cone is gone, the man having apparently demolished the whole thing in the two-minute span that Peter wasn’t paying attention, the only trace of it left a smear of blue cream right at the corner of his mouth. “Baby boy, you should see your face right now! It’s the same shade of pink as that strawberry you like so much.”
“Oh yeah? Well, at least it’s not actually on my face,” Peter retorts, turning his head back to aggressively finish off his own cone while the other man tries to lick at the corner of his mouth before giving up and scooping it up with his finger, then licking and slurping off the mess on each finger in turn. Peter’s nose wrinkles a bit at the sight. Those gloves must smell and taste like the most awful combination of gunpowder and blood and whatever junk food Deadpool’s gotten all over them since their last washing, so it’s far from appealing to watch him slobber all over them now, yet somehow this is also the same man who brought the blush to Peter’s face in the first place, and has been making him laugh and smile all evening, and whose phantom touch is still making his hand tingle pleasantly.
The man suddenly lets out a huge belch and pats his tummy in self-satisfaction, and that about does Peter in. The boy falls backwards on the roof from how hard he’s shaking with laughter, arms clutched over his own stomach as he lets go. Deadpool leans over to look at him from above, head cocked to one side with an enormous grin on his face.
“I know, I know, I’m an impressive man to behold, but you’re edging a little close to hysterics there, strawberry shortcake.”
Peter gets enough of his breath back after his laughter dies down to flirtatiously respond, “And we know exactly how they used to cure Victorian ladies of hysteria, don’t we, Wade?”
“Oh, I read you loud and clear, hot stuff,” Wade says. “Do you need some resuscitative assistance, madam?” he asks, crudely gesturing with one finger sliding in and out of the hole between his pinched-together forefinger and thumb on the opposite hand until Peter devolves into another short fit of giggles.
“Oh, thank you, blessed Thor and every other god that’s actually an alien, for the gift you have bestowed upon this humble sinner. Giggles,” Wade says as though awestruck. “Not chortles or chuckles or even guffaws. Spider-Man is a bonafied, adorable, teensy giggler!”
“Hey! I’m not teensy!” Peter protests.
“I beg to differ, shorty,” Wade says, dropping to lay down beside Peter with his head propped up on one elbow, showcasing the height difference between them. “Unless you’re referring to a particular piece of your anatomy, of course, in which case I’ll need to see the evidence for myself before I can make a fair judgment, my good and noble sir.”
Peter snorts. “Yeah, right. I’m not showing you my dick no matter how formal the request, milord.” He looks Wade up and down, taking in the image of him carelessly laid out like a centerfold model, and immediately starts giggling again.
“Okay, usually when people laugh this much it means they’re crazier than I am. You’re not crazy, are you, Spidey? I mean if you are, that’s fine, I can totally work with that, but you gotta tell me what’s got you riding the giggle train all the way to cloud cuckoo land, sweetheart.”
“Y-y-you!” Peter manages to stutter out breathlessly. “You’re all...” he gestures his hand uselessly over the man’s form, “this, but you’re supposed to be this scary, intimidating—”
“—bloodthirsty, ruthless assassin for hire?” Deadpool finishes for him, voice dropping an octave back to that cold, deadly tone Peter first heard and leaning to hover above the younger man almost menacingly. Peter swallows.
“Yeah. Yes. That,” he says quietly, and wonders if it’s fear making his heart and his stomach do flips again or something else entirely, because while he honestly can’t tell he knows that at least he isn’t in immediate danger. His spidey sense still isn’t tingling and hasn’t around Deadpool all night except for when he teleported unexpectedly on the roof and almost shot that man in the alley.
“Oh, but I am, baby boy,” the older man rumbles above him, still way, way farther within Peter’s personal space bubble than he usually allows anyone except for Aunt May, and even her only for brief affectionate hugs before he skitters back out of reach again. Why he hasn’t gotten upset and pushed the man away yet may be a mystery to Peter, but what he thinks of this “discovery” that Deadpool truly is just as dangerous as he is goofy isn’t.
“I know you are,” he says. “But you’re also more than that. And hey,” he adds, lips quirking up into a crooked smile, “nobody’s perfect, right?”
The man’s mouth works open and shut a couple of times, giving Peter the novel experience of realizing he must be one of the few people to ever render Deadpool speechless. The puffs of breath against his face from the man’s attempt at words above also makes Peter suddenly hyperaware that both of their masks are still rolled up and their faces are much closer than they need to be.
Wade seems to realize it at the same time because he pulls back abruptly, clearing his throat loudly once again, and rolls his mask back down over his face. It gives Peter the space he needs to sit up and roll his own mask back in place, curiously disappointed to be breathing in the night air again through its fabric instead of the musky scent of sweat and what he thinks might be stale old Mexican food.
“Spidey, you can’t just say things like that!” the other man whines.
“Why not?” Peter asks with a tilt of his head, puzzled. He honestly doesn’t see how what he said could be in any way groundbreaking or strange.
Deadpool cranes his head up to the skies instead of answering. “Writer, come on!” he wails. “You’re not supposed to make him a Manic Pixie Dream Come True! How am I supposed to live up to that, huh? At least sprinkle some flaws in there, will ya? Maybe a slightly less cute butt?”
Peter rolls his eyes, unseen behind the mask, and stands. “Wade, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or paid any attention to what happened earlier tonight,” he says dryly. “But I am a deeply flawed individual, as are you. That and the fact that you’re not an asshole are part of what I like about you,” he adds, offering a hand to help Wade up as well.
“Heh, you’re right,” Wade says, accepting the offered assistance. “You must have some serious issues to like anything about me at all.”
“Self-deprecating jokes are my shtick, Wade. Get your own.”
“Excuse you,” says Wade, using their still-clasped hands to make Peter spin as though they’ve been dancing. Peter chooses to go along with it, because at this point why not, letting himself be spun and pulled back in so the older man can dip him. “I’ve been talking smack about myself since before you were born, child. If anyone should be getting his own shtick, it’s you.”
“Why do I sense another dick joke coming on?”
“Hehe, coming on,” Deadpool snickers. “You said it, not me!” Peter makes a show of sighing exasperatedly and slips out of the older man’s grasp.
“So...” Wade says, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand, suddenly awkward. “I take it you probably had somewhere to be before you had to swoop in and stop me from blasting that ugly dude’s face off.”
“Sort of. I was supposed to be calling it an early night.” Peter yawns, realizing as he says it that he actually is tired. Unfortunate, considering he has a reason to want to stay out later now.
“Whoops. Sorry about that,” Deadpool apologizes.
Peter shrugs. “It’s cool. This was a lot more fun than what I had planned. Ice cream, duets, and dancing. You sure know how to make a girl feel special, Wade.”
“It’s a gift,” Wade says, taking a bow. “As is this,” he says, pulling a shiny black-and-red card out of one of his many pouches and presenting it to Peter. “Well, not really. It’s just a card. With my number on it. In case you ever, um, wanna go on a patrol or something, or just hang again, or send me rare Pepes. Whatever. It’s all good, man.” He shrugs with exaggerated casualness.
“Awesome, hang on!” says Peter, reaching into one of his own secret pockets to pull out a phone much nicer than his own. “The Avengers gave me this fancy burner phone so they can get in touch if they need my help with something.” He takes the card from Wade and inputs the number in his list of contacts.
“Eh, not to be a negative Nancy, but if that’s Stark tech, aren’t you a little concerned about, y’know, bugs? Like spyware and shit like that?”
“Oh, no worries, I already bypassed those and deactivated them as soon as they gave me this thing.” He texts ‘hi wade!’ with a little kitten emoji after it and smiles to himself when he hears the notification go off in the other man’s pocket. Coincidentally enough it is, in fact, the sound of a hungry cat meowing.
“You bypassed Stark’s security protocols?” Wade asks, clearly skeptical.
“Yep.” Peter looks back up at the man and puts his phone away. “Oh, remember that file I told you I read about you? It’s one of the heavily encrypted ones that only Avengers and SHIELD agents can access.” He smiles widely enough for Wade to be able to see it through the mask. “And I’m neither.”
“Oh, baby boy,” Wade says, “You just got a thousand times hotter. Nerdier too, obviously. But mostly hotter.”
Peter shakes his head, relieved the older man can’t see the new flush of crimson creeping along his cheeks for the umpteenth time this evening. He takes a shuffling step backward, feeling a bit like an awkward fumbling teen which, oh yeah, he still is for at least a couple more months. “So, I’ll see you around then?”
“Baby boy, you’re the first person to tolerate a few hours alone with me without threatening to lop one of my limbs off in a loooong time,” Deadpool tells him. “There’s no way you’re getting rid of me that easily now. I’m like that pebble that gets stuck in your shoe. You can shake me off and lose me for a little while, but I’ll always be back and more annoying than ever next time.”
“You know, I think I can live with that,” says Peter. “Goodnight, Wade!” he tosses out, and quickly webs off before he can say something foolish to ruin his smooth exit, making sure to do a few wicked somersaults in the air just to show off.
“Goodnight, Spider-Minx!” he hears the older man shout from below.
Spider-Man whoops joyously as he swings across the starlit sky, grinning like a moonstruck loon all the way home.
As you may have already noticed, this is part one of a series now. I've got at least a couple more little plot bunnies hopping around in my head for this 'verse now, so expect to start seeing more where this came from sometime in the future. ;)