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I don't own anything here. Marvel does. I don't make any money from this.
 
Ashes to Ashes
Chapter 1 of 1
Expand Author's Story Note
 

It was the smell that dragged him in every single time. After nearly every fight since they were teenagers, that smell would hook him and pull him in. Sweat, something he assumed was the unstable molecules in his costume and ash. Not just any ash. If he'd really admitted it to himself, he spent sleepless nights trying to pinpoint what kind of ash he smelled like. It was like... the good part of those cigars Jameson smoked and something else. Something he had to start calling the Johnny smell or it would have driven him crazy.

That's what always got him curled possessively around his friend in a back alley or a dark roof top or hell, once or twice in his shitty apartment or even at the Baxter Building. At first there'd always been the hesitation; that idea that one of them was going to pull away and say it wasn't going to happen. Again. But that faded. That disappeared and it was nothing but heated kisses, sure strokes, fingers searching out well known paths. If anyone else knew, they never said anything, but he was always so sure at least Susan or Ben knew. Reed wouldn't notice unless they hopped up on his lab bench and stripped down right there. And even then, it was debatable.

Every so often they'd actually make it to a bed and things would be... different. Slower, anyway. Still heated but it felt like if they made it that far-if they'd held off until they found an appropriate piece of furniture-they could slow down and just enjoy it. That's when it got complicated. That's when his tendency to talk got him in trouble. Peter knew he shouldn't say anything to Johnny past "fuck me" and other dirty things when it came to whatever it was between them, but every so often, something slipped and it got complicated.

Those complicated stretches sucked. They were never really that long... well, a couple times they were. MJ. Alicia... or Lyja... or whatever her name was. Those were longer complicated stretches but usually it was less than a week before they were kicking the crap out of Red Ghost or Doc Ock and things were heated and rushed and perfect again.

It had been that way for so long, and it really hadn't shown any signs of changing any time soon that when Johnny was the one to slip up and say something about it, Peter had nearly swallowed his own tongue. It made sense. The world had gone to shit. They were stuck in a hole somewhere with all the other anti-registration heroes. Peter had just barely been able to lever himself out of bed to get into the fight again... let alone having the strength of will to keep quiet while Johnny kissed his way down his body.

Johnny had pressed a kiss to Peter's hipbone before he stopped. His voice was so soft, so different from what everyone expected from the Human Torch... "Don't scare me like that, okay?"

They didn't talk about until later... much, much later. When things had settled, and everyone was back where they should be and he'd shown up one night as Peter. No costume, no fight before hand, just him and Johnny staring at each other for an unreasonably long time while sitting on the edge of his bed.

Peter found himself talking about mid sentence and he couldn't stop. "... everything we've been through, everything we've seen together and I think... no, I'm pretty sure I fell in love with you a long time ago."

"Pretty sure?" Peter couldn't read anything from Johnny's expression which was scary to say the least. Johnny wasn't exactly the type to play his hand so close to the chest and Peter usually had a pretty good idea of what he was thinking. "Just pretty sure?"

"Well-"

The explanation never really made it out of Peter's mouth. It wasn't a physical stoppage really. Just a short gasp as Johnny wrapped his arms around him and pulled him so close Peter practically had to crawl into his lap. "I've been a complete idiot." Johnny sighed and rested his head against Peter's chest.

"Nothing new there."

Johnny looked up at him and Peter froze for a second. "I'm being serious here."

"Okay."

Johnny's hand traced patterns up and down Peter's spine through his shirt as the blond seemed to struggle for the right words. "I suck at this..."

"At what?" Peter couldn't stop the question from slipping out.

Johnny sighed and leaned in, kissing Peter softly until he started to moan. "I suck at all of this."

"You're pretty good at that part."

"Pete-"

"Right. Serious. Sorry." He found his fingers playing with random strands of hair for a second.

"So... I shouldn't even say anything because if we... if we try things something will end up going horribly wrong and-" Johnny tightened his grip on Peter for a second. "Look, I... you know I feel the same right? By now you... I don't want to lose you, okay?"

Peter smiled. That was more than he figured his little confession would get him and he leaned in; kissing Johnny until they both ran out of breath. "Does that mean I get to stay over?"

Johnny gave him a smile in return. It wasn't the one that got plastered all over trashy tabloids or the front page of newspapers. It wasn't even the one he generally used to get into any given person's panties... or any other preferred form of underwear for that matter. It was far more real than those and that was what made Peter love that smile. "Yeah, Pete. I think you should stay over."

It has been one of those nights that belonged in some cheesy romance novel or... well; Peter was willing to admit it might have been more at home in porn... but only a really classy one! Either way, it was a good memory. One he fully intended on repeating time and again.

It was the last time they spoke to each other.

Peter got busy. That was the excuse he gave himself. It wasn't that long between that night and... everything. He wasn't even sure Johnny had told anyone yet. He'd said something about a dinner when they got some time but nothing ever came of it. They thought they'd had time. It'd all come out eventually. But work and... well, his other work and the Avengers and a million other things on both sides kept getting in the way until...

Peter didn't want to believe it. He couldn't it. He stared, eyes dry, hands clenching and unclenching at his side. The guy working at the newsstand asked if he was okay. He wasn't. Obviously he wasn't. But he found himself at the Baxter Building, this time in costume, trying his best not to say anything stupid. He knew he was talking as Reed and Ben and Susan let him out of that old security tube. Peter caught a whiff of what he could only assume was the traces of a cigar Ben had no doubt snuck out for and it almost broke something in him.

He knew he was trying to explain, to tell them anything. Explain about why he couldn't drag himself out of bed the morning of Johnny's funeral. Why he couldn't bring himself to even say the words yet. Why he wanted to keep the mask on forever so no one would guess how much it actually hurt. The only words that really registered as he spoke them though were the simplest ones he could say; ones that he thought might tell Susan how much he loved her brother; that might tell Ben he was right all along.

"I miss him. A lot."

 
Chapter 1 of 1
 
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