abraxan, majokai and I went out to watch Spider-Man 2. In IMAX. And then right after that we sat down at Coffee Bean and wrote this on Paris. It's a SPM2 round robin. *grin* It's unedited, because I haven't had the time yet, and if you can tell who wrote what, we shall be very amused.
Also any awfulness in this fic is entirely my fault.
It all started and began with one phone call.
"Help me, Harry..." For a moment, he wondered who it was who called him, helpless and weak. Was it his best friend, or was it the hated Bug who killed his father? But just as Harry was running out of his house on a cold December night without so much as a coat on him, he realized what Peter had been trying to tell him for the past few months.
It didn't matter. It really didn't.
He panicked, at first. The cars on the road flew past, and he almost got run down as he was crossing the street. He didn't even notice.
Pete's apartment, he thought as he flagged down a cab.
His thoughts raced with the city lights that flashed past the cab's windows. The cab's haunted by the ghost of smoke that refused to clear, and it made him think of a steel-grey afternoon, a man about to lose all he's ever cherished, and the way he will throw his best friend's help back in his face without ever realising what he’s doing.
He'd thrown money onto the passenger's seat, next to the driver, without thinking. The smallest note he has on him, a fifty-dollar bill. The Osborn way.
He didn't think about how easily he remembered Pete's address. It's as if he's never tried to forget it at all. As he looked out of the window, up at the sky, he thought, accidentally, of all those who would be without Spider-Man tonight, and then he hated himself for even allowing himself to think that way.
Nobody told me about your smile, mourned the radio, until he snapped and tells the driver to turn it off. The kindly old man agreed with a casual smile and went on to do just that.
Pete never smiled like this...not unless he meant it.
The cab stopped outside the run-down apartment block in the poorer part of the city, somewhere he never thought he'd rush down in record time. 29 minutes pizza time, Harry smiled bitterly, and ran up the stairs, muttering the door number under his breath like a mantra.
The door was locked, and he cursed under his breath. He thought about kicking it in - remembered, suddenly, that Pete would kill him for ruining the door - then kicked it in anyway.
It was dark inside, and he tripped over the step as he walked in. He could smell a tinge of something metallic, and it reminded him of high school biology and the rabbit that Pete helped him dissect. The night air seemed chilly, suddenly, and he tucked his hands more firmly into his pocket as he took another step forward.
A soft groan sounded in the corner of the room, and he sucked in a breath of bitingly cold air as he reached the lamp, and flooded the room with dim light and dark shadows. On the floor, a puddle of red spread and soaked into the edge of the bedspread.
He tried not to cry when Peter, mask off and face pale grey, smiled and murmured a quiet "It's not mine."
Liar. Harry knelt down beside Peter, taking his friend's hand in his. It was cold, scarily so.
"How?" He asked, bringing the pale, bloodless hands to his lips and breathed against them, a desperate attempt to warm the cold skin up.
Peter smiled again and repeated, "it's not mine. And you are paying for my door, Harry."
Harry shook his head and got up to his feet again, worried, but logical enough to look around the matchbox-sized apartment for a spare set of clothes. They could not possibly send Pete to the hospital in his Spidey suit.
"Get up," he finally said. His voice was shaking, his hands too. Slapping himself mentally, Harry threw the clothes he found on top of the bed, and bent down to help his friend onto his feet. "We need to get help."
"Harry--" "SHUT UP, PETE! I say we are going to get help so we are going to get help."
It made Harry ill to think that this was what he would have wanted for Spider-Man, before.
But he never realized that seeing Peter like this would hurt, too.
He realized Pete was not going to be able to get out of here without assistance, let alone stand, so he goes down to him and didn't think of just how much blood there is, how he's never been a good student but he just knew that it wasn't possible for anyone to lose so much and - no, don't think that - not even Spider-man, stop that, think about Peter, it's Pete, and he needs you now.
"I'm going to have to get you out of this, Pete," he says, and for a moment he doesn't know whether he means the suit or this place or this situation, because he knows that this doesn't happen to heroes, heroes don't lie bleeding like this in the night with only their best enemy to call on. Peter's eyes close momentarily, and Harry takes that for consent. He rests his hands on Peter's shoulders and realizes he can't look Pete in the eyes if he's going to do this.
Because for him there’s always been Peter, and then there was Spider-Man, and looking at Peter now would only remind him of how he can’t live with the both of them being one and the same.
"You've got to help me with this, Pete," he says, through a forced smile. "Tell me how to get this off."
But Peter sighs, and closes his eyes, and Harry's a wreck as he pulls shirt and pants over the red and blue suit, one hand speed dialling the family doctor and the other cradling Peter to his chest.
"Thanks, Harry." Peter turned to bury his head against Harry's neck. Whether he did so out of delirium or desperation, nobody knew. Not even Peter himself.
Harry ordered for the doctor to meet him in his penthouse as soon as possible, and then hung up. Tightening his arm around the lithe body, Harry closed his eyes with a sigh. "You're welcome."
“It was a joke,” Harry explains to the distinctly unamused doctor. “It was a… dare, and… well… I didn’t expect –”
The doctor looks as if he’s about to deliver a scathing retort, then thinks the better of it while he looks over Peter.
Peter should be making the excuses, Harry thinks, knowing he’s being unreasonable. After all, it’s his double life, not Harry’s.
A wry smile crosses Peter's mouth. "Like you would any other outfit, Harry." Harry's mouth twists, and he's suddenly, painfully glad that Peter's able to say things like these even in a time like this. Peter rests an arm against his shoulder. Support, Harry thinks, even as he feels sick thinking how light Pete's touch is, as if he were almost insubstantial.
"I don't have to teach you that, do I, Harry?" says Peter, in a voice softer than Harry can bear. "It's hardly... advanced... Physics."
"Stop talking, Pete," Harry says, fiercely, with a desperation sharper than any knife he's ever held in his hands. Only Peter could cut him with words like these. He should've known.
Only then does he realize that Pete's arms have gone around his waist, and then he looks up, shocked, into those startlingly blue eyes that he's never dared look into for too long, lest they see what he’s tried to hide for far too long.
But Peter's eyes are warm as they look up into his, and he can't pretend he doesn't notice how strength's come back into Peter, and how much the way Peter's holding him now reminds him of the day he became one of the many Spider-Man saved.
"I said it wasn't mine, Harry," says Peter, as he pulls Harry close and does the one thing Harry's wanted to do since the day he met Peter Parker, glasses, stutter, brilliance, endearing, aching, amazing, dorkiness and overwhelming sincerity and - Peter.
"But why?" Harry manages, when Peter finally breaks the kiss.
There's a smile in Peter's eyes as he answers, "Otto Octavius said you shouldn't hide a secret love. And -" Here, Peter's gaze grows speculative, and to Harry's disbelieving eyes, tender, and he never believed Peter would ever look at him that way -
"Watching you hurt - hurt," Peter says.
Then his eyes grow serious. "But this is me, Harry," he says, and Harry's eyes follow his, down the expanse of the hated red-and-blue outfit. "This is what I am. What I've chosen to be." His eyes meet Harry's again. "And you can hate him all you like. (But you can’t hate him unless you hate me, too.) He is me, Harry. And I am him."
“I needed to know,” Peter says, “Who was more important to you – Spider-Man, or – me.”
Harry feels the weight of confession and revelation and everything Peter's said tonight upon him, and he weighs his hatred of Spider-Man and his sorrow at his father's death and all the time he's spent hating something he now knows he never truly understood, and then he brings that up against all the years he's known Peter Parker, all the times he's felt something in him give whenever Peter smiled, for every time it's hurt when he sees Peter looking at MJ the way he wishes Pete would look at him, and he remembers, above all, what Peter's always helped him with in all the time they've shared together.
Science, Peter's always taught him, has been observation and deduction and application, and Harry balances this the way he would an equation, because there's so much at stake here, weighing everything he's lost against everything he stands to lose, and he comes up with one conclusion.
"Otto Octavius was right about one thing, at least," he says, and he smiles at Peter right before he kisses him back.
Also, No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try,