Actions

Work Header

He Makes Him Happy

Chapter Text

Chapter One

- - - -

“And I was running far away
Would I run off the world someday?

Nobody knows, nobody knows
And I was dancing in the rain
I felt alive and I can't complain

But now take me home
Take me home where I belong...”

~Runaway - Aurora

- - - -

He leaned against the mustang, cherry red with a white racing stripe. Of course, the obnoxious person who owned the building he was standing in front of would likely call it a hot-rod red. Well, it was his car and he had kept up maintenance on it for five years,so he said it was cherry red.

A sigh left his lips as he pulled off the ratty baseball cap on his head, wiping at his brow and running his hand through the sweaty strands before stuffing it back on top of his wild, dirty blonde hair. It was hot, and while he was use to hotter weather, that wasn’t to say he enjoyed it. Because he didn’t. He loved summer for the break and all, but he wished the summer break happened during the winter months, at least the autumn months, or spring for Christ’s sake. But summer?! When it was hotter than hell and any summer storm only worsened the heat. Hell no.

He’d taken off the flannel, long sleeved shirt he had worn and tied it around his waist, but it didn’t help much cause the Grateful Dead t-shirt he was wearing was black. Why couldn’t band t-shirts be gray? Did they all have to be black?

Fuck, he was getting off topic again.

So, he was in New York, possibly illegally, because he just couldn’t deal with being in Tennessee any longer. And sure, he wasn’t supposed to be in New York until August, but he was seriously not spending another shitty summer in Rosehill when he could just drive here. And sure, driving a car when you’ve barely turned fifteen is probably against the law, he read that in the driver handbook, but he hadn’t been pulled over, so he was fine. Besides, he’d shot in height in the last year, so he looked older than fifteen. He’d turned fifteen a day before heading off on his impromptu road trip to New York.

Now, he had a new dilemma, how to get into the tower. He could call Tony, sure, but would he sent him packing back to Tennessee? Harley fucking hopes not.

“Fuck,” he muttered, straightening and deciding to just make the call. He pulled out his beat-up phone, which he had cracked badly a few months ago and he lacked the funds to replace it, or have it repaired. Harley scrolled to the contact information labeled ‘Old Man’ and paused when he saw a man in a security uniform walking toward him.

“Aw, Hell,” he grumbled. Apparently parking and loitering in front of a Stark Industries building warranted some attention. Harley made his mouth lift into what he hoped projected every ounce of Southern Charm™ he owned. “Howdy, sir,” he greeted as he lifted a hand, his accent thickening.

“You can’t park there,” the man told him, more broad shouldered than he was, but shorter than Harley. “You have to move your... vehicle.” His eyes narrowed on Harley’s face. “How old are you, anyways? You should be in school, and you also don’t seem to be old enough to drive.” He reached for his radio and Harley knew things were about to get annoying.

Harley almost cursed, realizing that school hadn’t let out for summer break here yet. That meant a Truancy Officer could be called, and he didn’t have time to deal with that right now. So, he stood to his full height and held his hands up. “I promise I’m supposed to be here,” he said before he could call anyone. He lifted his crappy phone again. “Let me just call him, and we can clear this misunderstanding right up.”

The security guard’s eyes narrowed on him. “I don’t care if you call Tony Stark himself, you can’t park here. I’m calling the truancy officer and the cops, you punk.”

Harley rolled his eyes as he pressed the call button for the contact ‘Old Man’ and pressed the phone to his ear. The security guard was talking with someone through his radio, but Harley ignored him as the call connected. “Heya, Tony,” he chirped when he heard the man’s voice.

“Harley! I wasn’t expecting your call. What’s up, kid?” the billionaire said, and Harley could hear the murmur of another voice on his end. He wondered if this was the elusive intern Tony was always bragging about. Maybe he’d get to meet him today and prove to Tony that he was better than this other kid, and that he’d make a much better intern.

It was true that Tony would be his sponsor while attending school here, but the man had destroyed any dreams of one day working on any important stuff. “I already got my... intern helping with that” and “My intern has this amazing biochem project” were two of his usual statements that drove Harley up the wall.

“Oh, nothing, just about to get arrested cause of your security guard,” he said, pausing to read the man’s name-tag, “M. Jones.”

The man got quiet for a moment. “What? I swear to God kid, if you’re messing with me...”

Harley barked out a laugh, “I never joke about potential incarceration. Just look out a window on the west side of the tower. Ya might see me and Christine outside.”

Tony snorted. “I already told you, you have the wrong type of car to name it that.” Harley could hear him moving and knew the man was just indulging him. “I’m gonna look out this window and when you’re not there, you’re grounded when you get here in August.”

Harley lifted his face up toward the windows of the tower, not knowing where he was going to look through so just waved in a general direction. He laughed again as he heard Tony cursing, and he had obviously seen him. “Jesus, kid! What the hell are you doing here?”

“Uh, as I said, about to be arrested,” he told him pointedly with a tone that clearly said ‘do something!’. He leaned back against the mustang as he watched the security guard talk on his walker, his face changing all of a sudden. Harley smirked when he got a very nervous look on his face. “Ya know, he said a very funny thing just now...”

The man’s eyes widened in panic and anyone else would have let him have it, but Harley wasn’t an asshole. “But it’s probably not that funny to an old man like you.” He heard Tony grumble at him in annoyance, before telling him to get his ass upstairs. “Yes, sir!”

Harley jumped behind the wheel of his cherry red mustang with the white racing stripe, and entered the parking garage. “It’s gonna be an interesting summer,” he snickered, waving at security guard Jones with a bright smile as he passed him.

- - - -

Tony glared at the gangly teen, a gym bag thrown over his shoulder which was stuffed to the brim with what were obviously clothes. Also, he knew there were more things in the trunk of the car. It was a good thing he’d decided to bring them, since his room wasn’t finished yet. The walls had were already painted, but besides a desk and bed, it didn’t have much else. Tony has planned to get it designed to his likes, and knew he liked Star Trek, or was that Star Wars? He was glad he hadn’t just decorated it and got it wrong, since apparently, Trekkie and Star Wars (did they have a nickname?) fans hated having their shows being compared to one another.

“So, what’s the deal, Harley? You’re not supposed to be here until a week before the start of term.” He crossed his arms, having taken off his glasses since he was very familiar with Harley and knew he wouldn’t appreciate not being looked in the eye when spoken to. “Does your mother know you’re here? How did you even manage to drive here without being stopped?”

Harley tossed his bag down on the couch, copying his stance with arms crossed. “Of course she knows I’m here. I didn’t run away, if that’s what you were thinking.”

“Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past you,” Tony admitted.

“Bold of you to assume she wouldn’t run me off first chance she got,” he said with a crooked grin, his abnormally canine’s making the smile look more sharp. He knew that after they’d met, having helped Tony stop a terrorist, he had grown more confident. Apparently he had gained enough courage to knock out his bully, and it wasn’t the only fight he’d gotten into, if the phone calls he’d gotten from his mother were any indication.

That’s mostly why he’d offered for him to do his high school years in New York, God knew his genius was being wasted in that small town. Besides, he knew from their phone conversations that things had only gotten worse when he’d come out as gay. So, a new start was in order.

Tony snorted again at his answer. This fucking kid. “I wouldn’t blame her, you hellion.” He looked at his watch. “Look, I’m going to be leaving for three weeks to my lake house. You’re welcome to come, or stay and settle in.”

Harley grinned. “Aren’t you afraid I’ll burn your tower to the ground while you’re gone?”

He grimaced. “That’s always a possibility with you, but you wouldn’t be staying alone, since Karen will be around and she can keep an eye on you if you stay. Someone needs to make sure you don’t stuff yourself with only junk food, and start a fire.”

The teenager grimaced. “I don’t need a babysitter, Tony. I was kiddin’ about burning the tower down, geez,” he snarked at him. He plopped down next to his bag, throwing his feet up on the coffee table. “I’m a responsible adult.”

Tony laughs loud and with no shortage of mocking, before reaching over and shoving his feet off the colder table. “There’s no humanly way possible for you to convince me that’s even vaguely true. You are a teenager, and that means something catching fire or exploding is sure to happen.”

Harley is annoyed as he’s forced to sit up a bit by his feet falling off the coffee table. “What the shit? What kind of teenagers have you been dealing with, old man?”

“My kid,” he tells him.

“Your kid? When did you get a kid?” As far as Harley was concerned, Tony didn’t have a kid. “You shouldn’t be allowed unchaperoned with a very impressionable mind,” he said with a cackle.

“You’re a little shit, Keener. I don’t know why I even agreed to bring you here. I must have lost my mind,” Tony bemoaned. He man pulled at his tie, since he’d been in a meeting in the lower levels of the tower. That’s the only reason he had been able see Harley on the street when he’d looked out the window. If he’d been at the penthouse, he wouldn’t have been able to see him, being too high up then.

Then it would have been a matter of opening the security feed to see the western side of the building.

“I already told you, it’s because we’re connected, Tony. Or you’re simply a glutton for punishment. It’s definitely one of those two.” He snickers and stood, stretching with a groan. “Well, I’d love to keep chatting, but with the constant glances you’re giving your watch, I imagine you’re busy.” He grabbed his gym bag. “Just tell me where my room is at and I’ll get out of your hair.”

Tony sighed and waved for him to follow him. “Honestly, I should send you back to Tennessee, but you might just drive back and I don’t want to have to go bail you out of some random jail in some strange town.”

He opened the door to the room, having decided to give him the one across the hallway from Peter’s room. Tony hoped they got along, but also dreaded them teaming up and making something like real light sabers or something. “Hey, you’re not a Star Wars fan, are you?” Tony asked suddenly.

Harley made a face. “God, no. I’m a Trekkie.” He tossed his bag on his bed, turning to look at him. “Why do you ask? Please don’t tell me you’re a Star Wars fan. I might have to stop speaking to you if you are.”

Tony waves his hand at him as if he’s swatting away an annoying fly. Rude. “No, but my son is and I was worried you’d both do something stupid like make light sabers and destroy my lab, but now I don’t have to worry.”

Tony took his phone out as it beeped, checked the message and sighed. “I have to go. I won’t be leaving until the end of the week, so call me if you need something.” He started to walk out, but then stopped and looked at him. “And no driving!”

Harley shrugged helplessly, making Tony’s lip twitch in annoyance. “This fucking kid,” he grumbled as he turned and left, pulling out his phone as it rang. “Yes, Pep, I’m on my way back.” Then went too far for Harley to hear the rest.

The teenager looked around the room, zipped open his gym bag before grabbing a change of clothes. It’d been a long trip, and not having showered in more than seventeen hour made him feel like he was going to start to rust. As he showered, he thought back on the conversation with Tony and how his intern had somehow turned into his ‘son’, or was it another that he considered a son? Harley didn’t think so, since he would have heard about him by now, and he’d heard plenty about his intern. Well, except his name.

“And have you google him and then have you two team up on me? Not a chance,” Tony had said when he’d asked for his intern’s name. Now he thought of him as his son, and Harley found he’d have to work harder to show he was better. He didn’t think of Tony as a father-figure, because he’d had a dad and the man had abandoned him. So, he didn’t need a dad, but he also didn’t like that this other unknown kid had all of Tony’s attention.

“Well, that’s all gonna change now,” he said with a sharp grin as he toweled his hair dry.

- - - -

Peter sighed as he left the school building, waving at Ned as he went. It was a few days til the end of the school year and he was very excited.

He was wearing one of his usual science pun t-shirt, having thrown off his long-sleeved shirt since it was starting to get hot as summer approached. Peter, frankly, couldn’t wait for the summer break, since it had been decided that they would take a trip up to his dad’s cabin by the lake.

Miles and his family had been invited and they’d agreed to take some time off to go up state with them. As soon as they had agreed, Tony had started construction on a two guest cabins, and expanded the one already there. Peter had asked why it was necessary for there to be so much space, and his dad had said that he may have also invited the Avengers. While they wouldn’t all be there at the same time, each of them would spend a few days of the two weeks that Peter, May, Tony and Miles’s family would be there.

So, it looked to be a very good start to the summer. Also, his dad had mentioned that he wanted him to meet someone, a friend of his but had said nothing more. He wondered who it could be and if he was in the military like Col. Rhodes, or perhaps he was in police like the Avengers. He was anxious to find out, and wasn’t as scared to meet a strange man as he might have been a few months ago.

His sessions with Dr. Ruth has helped him tremendously, and of course, Miles was also a big help. They hadn’t progressed too much in terms of intimacy, but their relationship was strong. He’d met his friend at last, Gwen and Ganke, and while he’d been a bit intimidated by how pretty his friend Gwen was, he trusted Miles when he told him there was merely friendship there.

All of them had hung out a few times in the last few months following the disaster that was Adrian Toomes’s attack on the tower. Despite everyone needing some kind of therapy over it (Tony had paid for it, seeing as it had happened while they’d been at his tower), it had turned out pretty good despite everything. Of course, Karen hadn’t been charged for killing Toomes, since she had shot him in self defense, and in protection of Peter. There was video evidence to support it during the trail.

That had been a difficult time and even if Tony’s lawyers had sped up the process as much as was humanly possible, it had been difficult for Peter and Miles. They had to recount the events and then see the footage. It was suffice it to say that they hadn’t been able to be apart from one another, and Miles and his parents had spent the night at the tower.

One would think that being in the tower after what had happened would be difficult, but it really wasn’t. The whole thing had happened on the 96th floor, and since then Tony had remodeled the whole floor so it didn’t look anything like it did before. Even so, when Peter stayed over, he stuck to the penthouse and the living room there. Besides, the entertainment system in that floor was just as good as the one on the 96th floor.

His own room was on that floor, right next to his dad’s and when Miles came over when he was over at the tower, they watched movies on Peter’s laptop with a dual headphone adapter. Of course they could play it loud and not bother anyone because all the rooms had some kind of soundproofing on them. Then again, he was also not allowed to lock his door when Miles was over. That had been an embarrassing conversation, and was glad he hadn’t brought it up while Miles was around.

Peter pulled out his phone as he got off the subway, climbing up the steps quickly to ground level. It was almost four, since he had his last decathlon practice of the year. “Hey,” he said when Miles answered his phone. “Are you almost there?”

“Yeah, I might be a bit late,” Miles said, sounding distracted. He could hear voices on his end and wondered if he was still at school. “I’m still at school,” he confirmed. “Gwen is being a bit crazy about practice and shit.”

Gwen was to be the Captain of the Decathlon team next year and she was determined for Visions Academy to beat Midtown next school year. MJ, Midtown’s new Captain and Gwen often got into heated debates whenever they got together. They usually had to pull them away before they got too crazy, since they were there to hang out and both girls were way too intense over a high school competition.

“Oh, well, I’ll just meet you there. You think you’ll be there much longer?” Peter asked as he waited for the bus. It would drop him close to his destination, which was his and Miles’s usual spot, a cool coffee shop that was called Spellbound. It had all the windows blacked out and the couches were something like you’d find in someone’s basement, and the booths were vintage, from a fifties diner. It might not seem to go with the couches, which were centered around a low coffee table, but it did work.

It was quaint and pretty popular, but there was hardly any advertisement for it on the internet. You wouldn’t know it was there unless you learned about it from a friend, or had been there before.

It was weird, since it was almost isolated from the world and he hadn’t even seen any pictures on Instagram or Twitter, or even Facebook (even if that was more for your parents or grandparents). When the hastag was put of #Spellbound was searched, the only thing that came out was that it was a song by a band called Siouxsie & The Banshees which had formed in 1976.

It was owned by a man named Ed and his wife (they didn’t know her name and Ed never answered when asked). They were a fairly young couple and couldn’t seem to keep their hands off one another, and the wife often being seen pulling Ed up the stairs that no one was allowed up. Both of them were very odd, but the place was popular, since it was always occupied, mostly with artsy types and struggling musicians as well.

This is where Peter and Miles liked to meet after school, since it was between Brooklyn and Forest Hills and it was close to Highland Park. They often have a bite to eat there as they finished up their homework, and then go to walk around the park and leave before dark. It was a nice routine, and he loved it.

“Yeah, definitely. If Gwen doesn’t end the meeting soon, I’ll sneak out. I’ll be there, I promise,” he told him.

Peter nodded even if the other couldn’t see him. “Alright, I’ll wait for you,” he told him. “See you soon. Love you.”

“Love you too, Pete. Bye.” He heard Gwen snap at Miles to pay attention. Peter laughed as he heard Miles snark back at her before the call ended. He got off the bus ten minutes later, going down a few blocks until he reached the familiar building with its blacked out windows. As he entered, he was relieved that it wasn’t packed.

“Hey, enfante,” Ed greeted, his blonde hair as short as it always was. His green eyes were usually hard but they softened when they came to land on Peter and Miles, so it was safe to assume that he had a soft spot for the boys. “The usual?”

“Yeah, thanks, Ed,” Peter said as he hurried over to sit in his and Miles’s usual table. There weren’t too many people there, since the usual rush happened mostly at 5 or 5:30 on a weekday. He hoped Miles got here before then, since he hated when the place was packed.

“Here you are, garçon,” Ed said as he put a cup of tea by his hand. The man was a fair-hand at making tea, but it was likely because he was British even when his accent was a bit faint and he tended to use French terms of endearment. He was a strange one, but he never spoke of himself or his wife. Peter didn’t mind, since it wasn’t his business and everyone was entitled to their secrets.

After a while, the man left the counter when there didn’t seem to be anymore customers. Peter hardly noticed as he finished his homework between alternative sips of his tea. He paused what he was doing as a random guy came over. Peter vaguely recognize him from the times he’d come here with Miles in the past, but the two boys were usually too absorbed in one another to pay the people around them much attention.

Although, sometimes Ned and MJ, or Ganke and Gwen came to hang out with them. They usually took the couches in the middle if it was available if it was all six of them. Today he was alone though and squinted up at the guy as he adjusted his glasses.

“Hey, you’re by yourself?” he asked with a smile. Peter frowned the slightest bit as the other leaned on the table, and was glad that he hadn’t slid into the seat next to him, since he was sitting against the window.

The teenager nodded. “Uh, yeah, sorta. I’m waiting for someone.” He fiddled with the strap of his backpack for a moment before he moved it as casually as he could and put it on the seat next to him so the other wouldn’t get any ideas about sliding in beside him and blocking his way to get out. Although, he seemed happy to lean against the table, too far into Peter’s personal space than he was comfortable with.

“Oh okay. So, where do you live?” He was one of those artsy types, or so he thought so since by his choice of clothes could either be that or a musician. It was hard to tell at times.

Peter frowned at that. “I... I live in Queens,” he said, not being too specific. He felt decidedly suspicious about this random dude talking with him, asking him where he lived.

He seemed to perk up. “Oh, really? You live in Queens?” Peter nodded even if he wanted the other to stop talking to him. “Where exactly in Queens? The street?”

Now his eyes went wide as he asked that. “Why do you want to know that?” he demanded, his body tensing. His eyes darted toward the door but no one came through, and finally noticed that Ed had disappeared, probably upstairs with his wife.

A grin that the guy probably thought was charming crossed his face, but it just made Peter feel even more uneasy. “So I can come visit you, of course.” He reached out a hand toward the one Peter had resting on top of the table.

Peter pulled his hand away with a less than pleased expression on his face. “No, thanks.” His other hand clutched his phone closer, wondering if he should text Miles to see where he was, and if he was going to get there soon.

The guy leaned forward a bit more. “Come one, pretty. Why not?”

He felt his face heat up, but it more from humiliation than any kind of shyness the way Miles at times made him feel. “Cause I said no.”

When he reached for his hand again, Peter became more upset and smacked his hand away. “Aw, don’t be like that, baby. Let me show you a good time.” This time Peter wasn’t able to evade his hand as it grabbed his and he felt his skin crawl in disgust and wanted to immediately wash his hands.

“Hey!” Peter heard someone say as they walked up, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the creep’s, almost afraid that he’d reach out to touch him more than just his hand. “He said no. Why don’t you back the fuck off?”

The guy straightened and Peter was relieved when he released him, and he immediately wiped his hand against the leg of his jeans. “What’s it to ya, stretch? Why don’t you mind your own business?”

He grinned at him, all sharp teeth like a shark. “Come on, dude. I’m itching for a fight if you’re down,” he said.

Peter glanced at them, seeing that they looked ready to fight, and then went to grab his phone. His first thought was to call Miles, since Peter wasn’t a fighter despite Nat and the others always trying to teach him. He just got too winded all the time. Miles, on the other hand, had trained with the others where Peter couldn’t cause of his asthma, and he was a damn natural. It might have caused Peter to be jealous, if he didn’t like the way he’d gotten fit as hell. Peter was shamelessly enjoying the benefits of his training regimen. Now, he hoped his boyfriend got there soon to break this up.

Finally, the creep saw that the other wasn’t going to be intimidated and snorted. Peter turned back to see him flash Peter a sneer. “Fuck this. You’re pretty, but not worth it.” He walked off, and Peter was much too relieved to take offense at his words.

His heart was beating erratically and he breathed in deeply and slowly to stave off an asthma attack. “Dude, are you alright?” his savior asked hesitantly.

Peter nodded and concentrated on his breathing until his heartbeat had calmed down. “Yeah, man... just... asthma...” he managed to get out. He was sure the other would walk away, but he was surprised as he grunted and then seemed to wait until he was better.

Finally, he was able to breathe without feeling like his throat was going to close up. Then he looked up to thank him and was taken aback now that he saw him more clearly. He was not only very attractive with shaggy blonde hair, but he was also a literal giant. The other was taller than even Miles he bet, maybe six feet.

“Thanks for that. He didn’t seem to know what no meant.” He laughed but it wasn’t really funny so it fell flat. It had actually been pretty scary for Peter, since no one had ever come on so strong especially when he wasn’t even remotely interested.

The other shrugged. “Well, it’s no hardship when the one I’m saving is as cute as you. I even like the glasses,” he said with a grin that was most definitely charming.

Peter flushed as he bit his lip. “I... thank, I guess? But I got a boyfriend,” he told him.

He lifted a hand to his chest. “Aw, you’re breaking my heart, darlin’,” he said, and now that he wasn’t busy panicking he realized he had a nice-sounding southern accent. He grinned when Peter laughed. “Well, that’s a damn shame. But we can still be friends? BFFs?”

Peter couldn’t help smiling at him and his antics. “Sorry, I already have a BBF as well.”

“You’re killing me here, princess! Give me something!” he pleaded.

The almost sixteen year old felt his face heat up at that name. “Dude, don’t call me that,” he groaned, lifting his hands to his face.

The other grinned down at him. “Oh, have I hit a nerve? Well, I will stop only when you say we’re friends. You can’t have too many friends, and I need some since I just moved here.” He gave an exaggerated pout, grinning when it caused the other to break out into more laughter.

“You’re ridiculous, dude!” Peter snorted.

“Peter?”

Peter’s head snapped up as his laughter tapered off and a bright smile lit his face when he saw Miles. He hadn’t seen when he entered, too busy laughing to even hear the door open. “Miles!” he exclaimed happily, sliding out of his seat as he set his bag on the table.

As he did, the height difference between Peter and his savior was very obvious now, since Peter was barely 5’6. He was determined to grow a few more inches by taking a lot of vitamins, but Miles always snickered and told him he’d be short for the rest of his life. He was 5’10 and might grow a bit more. The smug bastard.

Peter hugged his boyfriend, the other’s arm wrapping around his slender waist, and accepted the happy kiss the shorter teen gave him. “Hey, babe,” he murmured against his mouth, smiling at being able to hold him close.

It had been a rather strained year, and Peter had just barely stopped flinching or tensing whenever Miles touched him too intimately. Of course, he didn’t begrudge him, since Peter had gone through a traumatic experience and had fully expected for it to take longer, actually. Miles had been patient with him, since the last thing he wanted to do was make Peter feel like he was pushing him to do something he wasn’t ready for.

Meanwhile, the other was upset when he saw that the other had been telling the truth about the boyfriend. He’d thought he was just trying to get rid of him or dissuade him from flirting. Damn, he should have known someone as cute as him (Peter, huh? It fit him) would be taken, which was a bummer for him.

As they pulled away, Miles’s hazel eyes lifted to look at the boy that Peter had been laughing with when he’d walked in. He was a tall fucker, and attractive with shaggy blonde hair and blue eyes. Miles would be lying if he said he hadn’t felt jealous at walking in and seeing his boyfriend laughing easily with this guy.

The other teenager had been leaning against the table and had been turned enough for Miles to see him giving Peter a charming grin. It was only because he knew his boyfriend would never cheat on him and that he was still struggling with intimacy that he allowed the irrational jealousy to fade away.

“Who’s your friend, Pete?” he asked his boyfriend. The other was meeting his stare and he felt himself tense despite having already convinced himself that Peter would never cheat on him. It was due to the slight smirk on his features and the challenge in his eyes.

Peter frowned and then looked at the taller teen. “I just met him, actually. He saved me from this creep.” He offered the other an apologetic smile. “I didn’t even ask for your name.”

He shrugged. “I didn’t ask for yours either. And it’s Harley Keener.” He lifted a hand toward Miles with that smug smile again. “You must be the boyfriend?”

Miles gripped his hand, perhaps a bit harder than was normal, and was pissed off when the other barely reacted. “Miles Morales,” he told him, releasing his hand.

“And I’m Peter... Parker!” he added hastily.

Harley grinned. “You both got the iteration down at least.” He explained further when they seemed bemused. “M. M. and P.P.,” he clarified.

Peter laughed as Harley grinned, and saw the frown on Miles’s face. Harley just shrugged as if to say ‘What’re you gonna do?’. Harley thought Peter was cute, and he liked the sound of his laugh. So what if he had a boyfriend? A bit of harmless flirting wasn’t a crime, and it wasn’t like he was going to make a move on him.

Maybe, Harley wasn’t sure yet. Peter was cute and all, but he didn’t want to start shit on his first day there. It would just be like Tony to make him go with him to his lake house when he wanted to stay in the city, semi-unsupervised. He would meet Karen later today, if Tony’s texts were any indication. After a few texts demanding to know where he’d run off to, he’d turned his phone off. After all, Harley wanted to explore the city on his own.

He’d come across this place purely by accident and had been curious after seeing the blacked out windows, and wandered in. His eyes had zeroed in on Peter almost immediately, since he was cute and totally Harley’s type. He seemed to be concentrating on his textbook, so he’d left him alone for the moment. Then the creep had beaten him to the punch, but he had planned on forgetting about him until he saw the distressed look on Peter’s face.

Harley could see why Peter was with Miles, since Miles was attractive, and there was no way someone as pretty as Peter wouldn’t have a boyfriend already. However, there was a silver lining to every cloud. He had a boyfriend and not a girlfriend, so that meant Harley had somewhat of a chance. Even when Peter had seemed oblivious to his flirting.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, but we have a homework session now,” Miles told the other, wanting him to go away. He saw that interest in his eyes when he looked at his boyfriend even when Peter didn’t seem to notice. Honestly, Peter was so oblivious at times.

“Oh, I already finished my homework while I was waiting for you,” Peter spoke up, an apologetic smile in place. He was holding Miles’s hand as their fingers curled around one another.

Miles’s jaw clenched when he saw the grin start to spread over Harley’s face. “Well, we can hang out while Miles finished his homework,” Harley offered. “We can sit at the next table and chat while he finishes.”

Peter was nodding and Miles resisted the urge to squeeze his boyfriend’s hand, since he knew Peter wasn’t being disingenuous. Miles trusted Peter, but he sure as hell doesn’t trust this Harley guy. Then Peter looked at Miles with a hesitant smile. “If you don’t mind? That way you can finish your homework in peace and not have me bug you when I get bored.”

And the fact was that, it would happen, since Peter could only be entertained so long by his phone before he was talking Miles’s ear off. That’s why they tended to do their homework together, but Gwen had just not wanted to let them go today.

Peter wasn’t being sneaky or anything, he was totally sincere. Miles trusted Peter, but he didn’t know this Harley, and anyone with eyes could see he was interested in Peter. Well, everyone except Peter apparently. Peter probably saw him as a potential new friend and nothing more.

So, if Miles said he had a problem with it, Peter would want to know what the problem was. Plus, Miles would end up looking like a jealous idiot, and Peter would figure out that Harley was interested in him. Miles didn’t want Peter to be aware, since Harley was fairly attractive, and then he had that fucking southern accent. So, it was safe to say that Miles was a bit intimidated by the other.

That’s why he swallowed his pride and smiled at his boyfriend. “I don’t mind, Pete. I’ll finish quickly and we can go have some ice cream at the park.” It was worth it as Peter grinned brightly and pressed a kiss to his mouth, seeing as Harley’s smile faltered. It was back as Peter turned away and went to sit with him at the next table. Now it was Miles’s smile that faltered, especially as Harley winked at him when Peter’s back was turned.

Miles really wanted to punch Harley in his stupid handsome face.

- - - -

enfante - kid

garçon - boy

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

- - - -

“Pretty face with pretty bad dreams
No one knows i cry in my sleep
Waking up feeling like shit
It's a normal thing to feel like this...

Summer depression
There's so much time to question my life
Summer depression
It's my
Summer depression...”

~summer depression - girl in red

- - - -

They had to skip a table since the one next to Miles was occupied. Harley let Peter sit down first, turning to see Miles watching them and couldn’t help sending a wink in his direction, seeing as Miles scowled angrily at him. It was just too funny and Harley couldn’t help messing with the other. Besides, he shouldn’t let himself get so easily riled up, since Harley didn’t even have to try that hard. Although, as Harley sat down across from Peter, he could admit he was trying a bit harder than normal.

“You said you just move here?” Peter asked. Miles has sat down with his back toward them, and Harley saw how tense he was, since he was facing his back.

Now, he moved his blue eyes back to meet Peter’s brown eyes as he peered at him curiously. Fuck he was in trouble, since not only was Peter really was pretty, even with those dorky glasses of his, but Harley had a weakness for brown Bambi eyes. And Peter’s eyelashes were also long and that topped with his mess of curly hair. Well, Harley might just have to try a bit harder to stop flirting with Peter, or he was going to get his ass kicked.

“Uh, yeah,” he said as he cleared his throat, glancing away. He shook off the wandering thoughts, since he’d been wondering if his hair was as soft as it looked. It probably was. ’He’s got a boyfriend, Keener. Get it together,’ he mentally berated himself. “Just today, actually. I’m gonna start at Midtown in the fall.”

“Midtown Tech?” Peter asked with a grin. “Dude, that’s my school!”

“Huh, well how about that,” Harley said with a grin of his own. “We were meant to meet then, darlin’. Almost fated, don’t you think so?” Damn, this was harder than he thought.

Peter made a face as he shook his head. “I don’t believe in such a thing. I’m a man of science.” He eyed him. “What about you? Are you a scientist or one of those artsy types.” He backtracked quickly when Harley arched a brow. “Not that being an artsy type isn’t great and all, but I have no artistic talent. That’s Miles’s area of expertise.”

Harley was amused by his babbling, and found it adorable instead of annoying. It was mostly cause he was so cute, he guessed. “I’m more of a mechanical engineer, actually. So, I’m more gear-head than an artsy person.”

Peter smiled at that. “You sound like my dad. He’s a mechanical engineer, and is easily the smartest person in the world, but he loves getting his hands dirty by working on his cars.” He hadn’t realized how soft his smile had gotten. “Mostly, he’s just a mechanic that likes to tinker and fix things.”

As Harley looked at his expression, he was glad to be compared to the man if it brought that kind of smile to his face. He certainly wished someone would look at him like that, but obviously not Peter because he had a boyfriend. ’Gotta stop forgetting,’ he growled to himself.

“Well, Mr. Parker seems like a cool dude,” he admitted, and he did. Peter giggled, and holy shit, what a cute sound.

“He’s not Parker,” he said, biting his bottom lip.

’Fuck, Peter needs to stop doing that,’ Harley thought, not really paying much attention to what he was saying. Mostly he was watching his mouth.

“He’s uh... Stark actually.” Peter looked at him hesitantly, wondering what he’d think. Would he think he was lying about knowing Tony Stark like his classmates did?

Harley certainly heard that as he blinked in shock. “Tony Stark?” When Peter nodded, Harley leaned back in his seat. “Huh, maybe it is fated?”

“Huh?”

The blonde haired boy shook his head and looked at the confused boy. “Well, I know Tony as well.” Peter frowned, looking a bit skeptical, and he might have found himself offended if he wasn’t also doubting Peter’s story. “We both have his number, right?” Peter nodded. “So, how about we show it at the same time, and prove we actually know him.”

Peter’s eyes narrowed on him, and even if he should be suspicious, he really wasn’t. Even if Harley believed him, it wasn’t like his dad couldn’t change his phone number if need be. It’d be embarrassing telling him what happened, but it would be worth it. “Alright,” he agreed.

Both teenagers pulled out their phones and selected Tony’s number and brought up the contact information. He lifted his eyes apprehensively when it came time to show Harley, since now that he thought of it more, he really didn’t want his dad inconvenienced.

“Scared, Parker?” Harley asked with a quirk of his lips, which turned into a teasing grin.

Peter smirked right back, recognizing the reference right away. “You wish,” he snarked. “On three... one, two, three!” They both turned the phones as one, and Peter’s eyes went wide as he recognized the number.

“Holy shit, you’re the intern turned son he never shuts up about,” Harley exclaimed, pointing at Peter.

Peter beamed at the son part. “And you’re the friend he wanted me to meet that’s super smart and good with his hands.” He was amused as he got flustered at hearing what his dad thought of him. “He never told me your name, so I figured he was being secretive for a reason. Maybe he was in the military like Col. Rhodes or something, but you’re just a kid!”

Harley grimaced. “Ouch, that hurts. I’m not a kid, dude. We’re the same age I think.”

“Bet,” he countered.

“I’m fifteen,” he told him, confident that they had to be the same age. He groaned when Peter started to grin. “There’s no way you’re older.”

“I’ll be sixteen in two months,” he giggled. “So I’m totally older than you.”

Harley grumbled, but couldn’t help smiling at Peter giving that cute laugh. “Well, I’m taller, and height beats age.” He snorted as Peter stuck his tongue out at him. “Oh, really mature, Mr. Almost-Sixteen-Year-Old.”

Peter shrugged, and then sat up straighter with excitement. “Oh man, we should totally pull a prank on my dad,” he exclaimed.

Harley snapped his fingers and pointed at him. “I like how you think.”

Peter grinned. “DM me on my Instagram. I’m Peter underscore bee, with two E’s, underscore, Parker.”

He nodded as he took his phone. As he did, there was a sudden snapping sound loud enough to make Peter jump. Harley glanced over as Peter did the same, and they both saw that Miles had finished his homework.

- - - -

It was hard to concentrate on his homework, since he kept losing his concentration every time Peter laughed a little too loudly at something Harley said. It took almost an hour to finish it, and with how distracted he was, Miles was sure he’d have to check it later before turning it in.

Miles might have closed his textbook a little harder than was necessary, but he was a bit pissed off. As he stood and glanced at the table Peter was sitting at with Harley, the taller boy shot him a smug grin behind Peter’s back as his boyfriend turned to look at Miles. So, he was possibly more than a little pissed off, and the urge to punch Harley in the face hadn’t receded at all.

“Ready to go?” he asked Peter, trying to keep his cool. Although, if Harley invited himself on their date, Miles wouldn’t be responsible for his actions, which would involve violence.

“Yeah,” Peter said as he slid out of the booth, grabbing his backpack as he went. Miles almost grinned when Peter did nothing more than wave at Harley and grabbed Miles’s hand. However, any feeling of superiority faded as he caught Harley’s eye as they were leaving, and the other winked at Miles again.

Miles scowled back at him and walked out, putting it out of his mind and instead concentrated on his boyfriend. It wasn’t far to Highland Park, and as promised, they stopped for ice cream. Miles found himself grinning in amusement as Peter licked the melting Rocky Road ice cream off the cone, trying not to get any on his hands.

“You got some there,” Miles told him, pointing to the corner of his mouth. When Peter’s tongue flicked out to lick the wrong side, Miles huffed a laugh. “Here, let me,” he said, lifting a hand to wipe it off with his thumb, which he then licked off.

Peter laughed. “Stop, you’re such an anime trope right now,” he giggled, face flushed. Miles grinned since even after seven months of dating, and he still had the power to make him blush. And he may or may not love when Peter got all red, since he was so adorable.

“Oh, guess what?” Peter said suddenly, both of them already half finished with their ice cream cones. “You know Harley?” He was wiping his hands with a napkin as best as he could with one hand still on the cone, so he didn’t see the grimace on Miles’s face when he mentioned the other teenager. He just wanted to forget about him, since they’d surely never see him again.

“What about him?” Miles asked, hoping he didn’t sound as defensive as he felt. Honestly, he didn’t know why the other’s smug look had gotten to him as much as they had, since he knew Peter would never pay him any mind no matter how much Harley flirted. He was oblivious to that sort of thing, and also because of what had happened last year made it difficult to have intimacy with Miles, never mind some random stranger.

“Well, remember my dad telling me about this friend of his he wanted me to meet? It turns out that Harley is that friend he was talking about. He’s going to be staying at the tower and will be going to my school in August.” He’d just taken the lady bite of his ice cream cone when Miles’s ice cream cone hit the ground, and Peter squawked as he stumbled back as it splattered the pathway and almost got on his sneakers.

“Aw, babe, that’s too bad. Do you want to get another one?” Peter asked, lifting his gaze toward him. His eyebrows drew together in a frown at the look on his face. “Miles, what’s wrong?”

Miles’s shoulders were tense and his lips were pressed together tightly. Peter knew when his boyfriend was angry, and he was angry right now. As for Peter, he still didn’t like being around angry people and hastily stepped away from the other.

When Miles saw this, he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, letting it out slowly and repeating the process until he’d calmed down. His shoulders relaxed and only then took a few steps toward Peter, and was relieved when he didn’t flinch away from him. “Sorry,” Miles muttered, pulling the shorter teen into his arms.

Peter clung to him tightly, burying his nose against his throat and for once was glad of the height difference cause it meant he didn’t have to duck too much to do this. “We can get you another ice cream cone, ok?”

Miles sighed, hating having to admit why he was angry, but it was better than having Peter think he’d gotten angry over a dropped ice cream cone. “It’s not the cone, Peter. I was just being an idiot is all.” When Peter pulled away and looked up at him with a frown, he sighed again. “I was jealous,” he finally admitted.

Peter blinked in confusion, wondering why he’d been jealous and of whom. Then it hit him as he started to grin as Miles gave him a peevish look. “You were jealous of Harley?” he laughed.

Miles pushed his head down playfully as Peter squeaked indignantly. “It’s not funny, Pete,” he grumbled, but was glad to see any wariness gone from his face.

“You’re right, you are an idiot,” Peter teased, wrapping his arms around him as Miles pouted petulantly. So, he pulled him down for a kiss, seeing the expression wipe from his face as Miles happily returned the kiss. “I’m not interested in Harley like that.” He grinned. “Even if he said I was cute.”

Miles frowned unhappily, wondering when he had said that. That sneaky bastard. “But I quickly told him I had a wonderful boyfriend,” Peter placated him. “A wonderful boyfriend that’s going to buy me a hotdog.”

Miles threw his head back as he laughed, and then laughed even harder when Peter pouted and said he really did want a hot dog. Only Peter would eat an ice cream cone and then a hot dog.

God, he loved this ridiculous boy.

- - - -

Harley threw himself on his bed with a sigh, kicking off his boots so they fell over the side of the bed. Combat boots and not cowboys boots, since he wasn’t that country. Although... he did own at least one pair that he’d failed to pack, and he did know how to ride a horse... but that was besides the point. He hadn’t packed his other boots cause he didn’t want someone from here to call him a country hick or some other derogatory name. Harley would have to throw down then, cause his mama didn’t raise no punk.

He hadn’t stuck around long at Spellbound after Miles and Peter had left, getting up and waved as the owner appeared from upstairs. He’d exited the building in time to see the two boys rush across the intersection to get to the park during a red light. They’d been holding hands and had laughed as they reached the other side, Peter falling against Miles’s side as Miles wrapped an arm around the smaller boy’s waist.

So, he might have been a bit bummed out after seeing that, but he’d already known Peter had a boyfriend. It had just been easy to pretend he didn’t as they had bantered back and forth easily. Harley had never had that happen with anyone.

Then he’d gotten into his mustang he wasn’t supposed to be driving, gotten some fast food that was greasy as hell and fucking perfect, and then driven back to the tower. As expected, Tony had been waiting for him, and taken away his keys and Harley had handed them over without too much fuss. He had a spare anyways.

He’d come upstairs and unpacked his things with some help from Karen, whom he’d had the pleasure of meeting. The woman had a sling on her shoulder, explaining that it hurt if she moved it too much even months after having been shot. “Nerve damage,” she’d said with a careless half-shrug.

Harley didn’t think it was anything to shrug about, and inquired about it. “It was worth it... to save someone I love,” she told him.

She had no need to say more, since he knew what she meant. He’d do the same for his sister as well, whom he loved. Harley had left her behind in Tennessee, but that didn’t mean anything. She was still his sister, and they would always be connected.

He lay there for a moment before he took out his phone. Harley pulled up Instagram @harley__keener, his own account having a few pictures of him and Abbie. There was a picture he wanted to post that Abbie never let him post cause she was having a bad hair day. It was of them together from last year where Tony had sent them tickets to a soccer game being played at LP field in Nashville. It had been LAFC versus Colorado, and while Colorado has won 1 to 0, in the standings, LAFC was higher.

Now that he was in New York, he wanted to see a soccer game in Yankee Stadium. He’d have to see the schedule on which games were coming up. He’d love to see NYC FC play in person, since Alexandru Mitriță played as a Forward on it, wearing number 28.

As he was looking through the posts of people he followed, which was a grand total of six people, that included @tony_stark, @mitrita28, which was Alexandru’s Instagram, his sister’s which was @abbiekeener, @jerrygarcia, @nycfc, and @midtowntech which he’d started to follow as soon as he knew the name of his new school. Now he pulled up the search icon and typed Peter Parker’s account, @peter_bee_parker.

He had a few posts, the first picture of him that had to be an old one since he had short hair in it. Harley laughed as he saw one of him and Tony, both of them holding the internship certificate, and Peter moaning in the post about it being upside down. His smile faded when he saw a comment from @mi_gonz_mor, which he assumed had to be Miles’s account. When he checked his profile, he saw that it was definitely his account.

The blonde teen looked through Peter’s posts, but stopped as he realized what he was doing. He groaned as he threw his arm over his eyes, letting the hand the held his cell phone drop beside him on the bed. Harley hadn’t come here to start obsessing over some guy, and looking (i.e. stalking) his Instagram. Besides, Peter had a boyfriend and even if he was about two inches taller than the dark skinned teen and his sporadic boxing lessons, he wasn’t as confident as he always projected. It was different fighting some middle school bullies from a small town, and a high school guy, whom he was sure was a sophomore like Peter.

Harley lay there for a while, staring at his ceiling and procrastinating on putting his clothes away. After a few minutes he groaned and lifted his phone again, unlocking the screen and saw that there was a new post from Peter. It had a picture of Peter with sunglasses and the caption read, ‘Summer is almost here! I can’t wait! Three weeks at the lake house! #TimeWithYou”.

He thought back to Tony’s words about leaving for his lake house for three weeks. However, he hadn’t said his intern was going with him, which was Peter Parker. “Nope, just no,” he argued with himself. “It’s a bad idea, Keener.”

Then he realized something and quickly pulled up Miles’s Instagram account. He’d posted a picture of himself and fuck, he couldn’t get over how attractive the other was. No wonder Peter was dating him. Harley read the caption, “Summer needs to get here soon. #BestThreeWeeksEver’.

So, they were going to a secluded lake house for three weeks...

Harley was being irrational, he was being completely stupid! He’d just met this boy... like today!

- - - -

Text from Harley to Tony: Hey, old man. Can I still come to the lake house?

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

“It never rains in Hollywood...

I know you'd be here if you could
Way up in the hills
The lights they glow...

Whispers my name
In his sleep
Taught me to be reckless...

I just wanted to be,
Bad for you
Bad for you,
Bad like you

It's bad to be
in love with you...”

~Bad For You - Lilianna Wilde

- - - -

Tony sighed softly as the man up front droned on, and he was trying really hard not to show how bored out of his mind he was. He hated these boring meetings, and didn’t know why Pepper always forced him to come to them. He’d made her CEO for this reason, because he couldn’t stand the bureaucratic side of things. Tony would be happy to just invent down in his lab, but he supposed that be owed it to pepper to at least make an appearance.

His skull fracture had been pretty serious last year in October that Dr. Stephan Strange had to be called in to operate on him. Tony wasn’t sure if it had been serious enough to involve someone as highly renowned in neurosurgery, but he should have known Pepper wouldn’t take any chances when it came to his head and his brain. It was both Friday and Karen had come close to death, especially Friday.

Tony had been cold to realize how close his girl had come to death, and he’d lay unconscious none the wiser. But Pepper had come through for them as well, making sure they were taken care of by the best medical team money could buy. She’d spared no expense when it came to Tony and the two women that had protected him and the rest of the people that had been at the tower that particularly dark Saturday.

Even if he had stopped feeling pain about two weeks after his surgery, he still hadn’t fully healed. An injury such as that took months to heal, and that too much stressed gave him blinding headaches. So, that was piled onto him already suffering heart problems after his ordeal in Afghanistan.

His phone buzzed and he slipped it out of his suit jacket to check it. When he unlocked it, he saw that it was a text message from Harley.

Harley: Hey, old man. Can I still come to the lake house?

Tony frowned, wondering what was up with this kid. He saw Pepper giving him ‘the look’ and just sent him a quick message before he went back to pretending to pay attention to the meeting.

Tony: In a meeting. We’ll talk later.

- - - -

Harley stuffed the spoon in his mouth that was dripping with wet cereal, and paused as his phone beeped. He left the spoon in his mouth and checked his text messages.

When he saw the message from Tony, he shrugged and tossed his phone back on the counter, grabbed his spoon and quickly shoveled the rest of the cereal into his mouth. Then he stood, took his bowl to the sink, dumped the little bit of milk left, and washed it before putting on the rack to dry. As he finished that, he went to his room to make sure all the clothes in his gym bag were presentable, since he didn’t want to be seen in some of his ratty shirts or hoodies, not that he’d need them since it was summer.

 

When Tony came back from his meeting, he asked why he had changed his mind. “Well, being at a lake house sounds more appealing than being alone inside a tower made of metal and glass,” he said with a careless shrug he hoped was believable.

Tony eyed him suspiciously and Harley was sure he’d figured him out, that he’d met Peter and wanted to go to... what? Well, he wasn’t too sure yet. Then Tony had ruffled his hair and told him that it would be good to have him on the trip, telling him that his son was going with his boyfriend. Harley had smiled and nodded before going off to his room.

Now, he lay awake the night before the trip and unable to sleep. The city was nosier than he was use to, and even this high up in the tower and with soundproofing, it almost felt like he could still hear the traffic down below. So, it was well past midnight and he couldn’t sleep. He pulled up his Instagram, but there were no new posts from the last time he’d checked, and Peter and Miles (whom he wasn’t following) didn’t seem to post too often.

Before Harley could change his mind about it, he pulled up the private messaging and sent Peter a message.

harley__keener: Sup, Peter?

It was a few minutes before he got a response. He smirked when he saw the message Peter sent him, since he could just picture the look on his face. Also, he hadn’t realized it was that late.

peter_bee_parker: Duuude, it’s like 2am

harley__keener: Yeah, lol can’t sleep. What’re you doing?

peter_bee_parker: I was sleeping wtf you think I’m doing? 😴

Harley chuckled at Peter’s response. He had some sass in him, and Harley found he liked that.

harley__keener: sleep is for the weak. Stay up with me

peter_bee_parker: Hell no dude go sleep I’m tired 😓

harley__keener: Booo 😒

He waited, seeing as the message was seen, but there was no response.

harley__keener: Peter?
Parker?
Waaaaake up
Did you fall asleep with your phone on, dork?

Harley huffed when it kept saying ‘Seen’ but there was no response, so he assumed he must have fallen asleep with his phone screen on. He smiled. “What an idiot,” he laughed softly, turning off his phone screen and putting it to charge since his phone was at 20% battery.

He lay back down and stared up at his ceiling, very aware that it was almost 2:30am, but his mind refused to shut down. Mostly, he was thinking of what would happen as a result of going on the trip, knowing full well that Peter and Miles were going as well. Well, Tony had invited him before he’d even met Peter, even if he’d been trying to find a way to get Tony to leave him alone.

Before he knew it, he’d fallen asleep.

 

Harley jerked awake as he heard a ding, hands in fists as he lifted them up defensively. When his heart had calmed down and his vision had cleared, he saw that he was in bed he didn’t recognize for a moment before he realized it was the bed Tony had given to him, along with a new room with a brand new desk with a lamp for when he started school and could do his homework.

Only, it was summer and there was no homework, and he was going on a trip to a lake that he might or might not have agreed to go on to cock-block Miles. Well, no need to tell him about it, since he doubted they’d have any conversations between them to begin with.

He realized the sound he’d heard was his phone, which had slid close to his head sometime during the night, forgetting to put it on the dresser before going to sleep. Harley yawned as he opened the message, seeing that it was from Peter in the Instagram DM.

peter_bee_parker: Yes i fell asleep! It was 2am!

Harley smirked at his message cause he could imagine him falling asleep with the phone in his hand and cheek smooshed into the pillow. It seemed like a thing Peter would do.

harley__keener: Pffft sleep is for the weak 😝 

Harley stood and grabbed a towel and some clothes, since he needed to get a start or he’d be left behind. When he left the shower, he saw that Peter had responded. He rubbed at his damp hair with that towel before tossing it over the chair at the desk and checked the message.

peter_bee_parker: Well I’m a weak boy then

Harley grinned and started typing before he could think. “And I’m weak for pretty boys like you,” he muttered as he typed. Then he stopped when he realized he was flirting again, sighed in exasperation as he ran a hand through his still damp hair. He deleted the message before he could send it, typing something else.

harley__keener: 😉
What’re ya doing?

peter_bee_parker: I'm packing actually
Leaving soon

Harley toyed with the idea of telling him right off that Tony had invited him to the lake house, but decided to tease him a bit. He imagined Peter was the type that got easily flustered and liked the idea of seeing him red and embarrassed.

harley__keener: Really? Me too 

peter_bee_parker: Huh? Where are you going? I thought you just got here?

Harley scratched his head, wondering if he should just come clean. No, that wouldn't be a good idea. Harley was sure Peter would stop talking to him, and he really didn't want that to happen.

harley__keener: I did, Tony invited me to his lake house or whatever. Says I'll burn the tower down if I'm left alone.
Lmao
he's not wrong 😂 

He tossed his phone on the bed and pulled up his gym bag to check it over one last time, making sure to stuff his phone charger inside before he forgot it. He decided to take his cologne with him, since it wouldn’t hurt to smell nice for a bit in the mornings before the heat took over and made him sweat and stink. It was the teenage boy curse they all suffered.

He checked his phone as it beeped again.

peter_bee_parker: Really?? You’re coming to the lake house too?

Harley thought it was better not to tell him that he’d purposefully agreed to go because of Peter, since he didn’t want to seem desperate. That and creepy, even if he could admit it was a bit weird. It felt a bit like lying to him and Harley grimaced at the thought, but he hadn’t lied about Tony inviting him. He wasn’t lying about him worrying Harley might burn the tower down, since Tony had told him that to his face. Harley groaned as he ran a hand through his hair, tousling it more than it had been before.

harley__keener: Yeah you're coming too?

peter_bee_parker: Yeah me and Miles

He made a face. "Don't remind me," he grumbled. Miles was attractive and all, but he had a feeling they would clash. Hell, the other had already given him more than one glare, or his 'bitch face' as Harley was mentally calling it. Damnit, now he was going to think that whenever Miles glared at him, and the other would think he was laughing at him. He would be, but he didn't want Miles to know that. 

harley__keener: That’s awesome at least there’ll be people my age there

He grabbed his bag and pulled it up onto his shoulder as his phone chirped again. His plan to back off of Peter wasn’t going at all according to plan.

peter_bee_parker: Yeah awesome
Shit gotta go we’re leaving bye

harley__keener: See you there!

Harley sighed and moved out of the room, hoping he didn’t regret being stupid, and over a boy he barely knew.

- - - -

Miles soft snores were interrupted by the alarm going off as he groaned and reached over, smacking his hand against the snooze button on top of it. His mom had given him this old, red monstrosity of an alarm clock. He was surprised it still worked, especially with how many times he’d hit it since his Mami had give it to him.

He sighed as it rang ten minutes later and hit it again. On the third time it rang, he actually saw the time and cursed as he fell out of the bed, the sheet getting tangled around his legs. “Ow, fuck,” he hissed, stumbling to his feet.

”Stupid, stupid!” Miles groaned at himself, since he’d set the alarm thirty minutes early so he could shower and then pack at a reasonable hour, but he had to go and hit the snooze button. They should take off the stupid snooze button from alarm clocks; should be illegal to have them on there.

”Miles! Ya estas despierto muchacho?” Rio called. 

”Si, Mami!” he shouted back as he unhooked his phone from the charger, glad he’d remembered that at least. He shot a quick message to Peter before rushing to take a super quick shower, well aware that he only had fifteen minutes at the most to shower, and pack his bag.

mi_gonz_mor: You awake babe?

Miles cursed as he almost fell on his face as he hopped on one foot, pulling on his Nikes sneakers on, and even if his clothes was sticking to him where he hadn’t dried properly, he had no time. He saw that Peter had messaged and despite needing to pack, took the time to read it.

peter_bee_parker: Yes I am, just a while ago you finished packing?

Miles looked at his unpacked suitcase, the one he used for school and groaned, typing out a quick message. mi_gonz_mor: Almost 🙄

He grabbed several pairs of shorts and a pair of jeans or two, stuffing them in first before cramming several shirts, and tank tops on top of them. At the very top he put his underwear, socks and then pushed down as he huffed when the zipper wouldn’t close. His phone lit up and he groped for it, unlocking it with one hand as he leaned his weight on the suitcase and tried to close it with his free hand.

peter_bee_parker: You’re just started packing haven’t you? 😑

A laugh bubbled up his throat despite his mad rush in getting ready at how well Peter knew him. Even so, he send back the opposite of his amusement.

mi_gonz_mor: Shut up, you don’t know me 😤

peter_bee_parker: Ha! Yeah right! You better hurry or your parents might leave you behind 😂

mi_gonz_mor: Pfft they love me they won’t leave me behind 😒

peter_bee_parker: *I* would leave you behind if you took too long 🙄

Miles threw his head back and laughed at the audacity of his ridiculous boy, and he didn’t doubt the little shit would leave him behind.

mi_gonz_mor: 😧

peter_bee_parker: 🤣
Hurry up, seriously

mi_gonz_mor: 😢

peter_bee_parker: 😚

mi_gonz_mor: 😒😛

peter_bee_parker: Get off the phone and go pack!

mi_gonz_mor: 🧳 yes sir!

peter_bee_parker: Lol

Miles shook himself as he tossed the phone on the bed, and then jumped onto his suitcase. He grunted as his stomach landed on one of the corners, but was finally able to zip it up. “Yes!” he cried with a fist pump. He made sure his deodorant and cologne (the one that Peter liked, which was really an aftershave) were packed as well as his flip flops since he wanted to have the option to go shoeless, but not barefoot. The afro-latino teen also made sure to put in his bottle of sunscreen, since he didn’t want to get any more tanned. Although, he mostly sunburned instead of suntanning.

Miles did a quick check of his room before hurrying out of the room. A few moments later he rushed back in for his phone as he laughed in embarrassment even if no one had seen it.

Apúrate, mijo!” his mom yelled.

Ya voy, Mami! I’m here!” Miles called as he hurried down the steps, handing his suitcase to his dad that was packing up the car. He kept his backpack, which had his phone, his art notebook, and a few of the workbooks they would be using next year, and some brochures to local colleges. This is why they were leaving Saturday and hadn’t left Friday, since Peter and Miles had gone to ESU to get brochures and packets to maybe take some summer courses when they got back from the lake house.

Miles knew that Peter wanted to go to MIT, but there were some courses he could already start taking and that way the time spent there would lessen. As for Miles, he had no plans to attend MIT but ESU seemed like a good option since he wanted to be an art major, with a minor history and literature. He knew his dad was hoping he’d be a cop like him, or at least go into the medical profession like his mom. Honestly, Miles had no interest in any of those things, and even if he knew he would struggle, he wanted to create new worlds with art, do murals that he didn’t have to worry about getting arrested for.

At least, that was the plan. Now, convincing his parents that this is what he wanted to do was going to be the hard part. Miles knew that Peter would support him though, and as long as his boyfriend was behind him, then he would be able to face his parents with his decision he had taken almost since he had first started to tag.

They were stuck in traffic when his phone lit up with a message.

peter_bee_parker: I gotta tell you something

Miles frowned at the cryptic message. He wasn’t sure what might have happened in less than half an hour since they’d sent their last messages. Miles hoped May hadn’t been called at the last minute to work even if she had put her vacation in over two months ago, and Miles only knew cause Peter had fretted the last few weeks as the end of the school year approached.

mi_gonz_mor: What?

Miles resisted the urge to ask all the questions his simple statement had brought to mind.

peter_bee_parker: Don't get mad

His eyebrows raised in surprise at his message. Well, now he was getting worried and told him as such, and tried to lighten the mood.

mi_gonz_mor: Now I'm worried lol

He looked at the screen, saw that Peter was typing, then stopped before starting to type again. It almost seemed like he was indecisive on what to say. Damn it, what had happened? It couldn’t be that bad.

peter_bee_parker: Harley is going to the lake house

Oh no, it was that bad. Miles took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, calming himself before he did something stupid like punch the seat in front of him. It would no doubt startle his dad and traffic had started moving already, and they didn’t need to have an accident right now. Also, his mom would likely smack the hell out of him if he almost got them killed.

His phone lit up with a few messages, but ignored them in favor of breathing in to calm his nerves. It took several minutes and grabbed some water from a cooler his mom had insisted they pack, even if Tony had told them there would be food and drink in the shuttle bus he’d rented (he was sure he’d bought it). Now he was glad to have the cooler as he pulled out a bottle of water and chugged half of the contents before he felt ready to reply. Peter had sent him several panicked messages.

peter_bee_parker: Babe?
Miles?
You're mad right?
Shit I swear I didn't know! Miles??

He tried to curve his anger, he really did, but he was sure he wasn’t successful in the least.

mi_gonz_mor: Wtf you mean he's going to the lake house?!
The hell Peter?

peter_bee_parker: You know he knows my dad. Dad invited him.

mi_gonz_mor: Fuck Peter

peter_bee_parker: I knooow I'm sorry I didn't know

mi_gonz_mor: Just we'll talk later at the tower

peter_bee_parker: Ok 🙁

He saw that Peter had messaged him, but he shut his phone off without pulling it up. Miles knew he was being irrational, because Peter wasn’t the least bit interested in Harley, he knew this. He was just angry, because this was supposed to be a great three weeks and now he’d have to put up with this dude flirting with his boyfriend.

Miles frowned and started to wonder how Peter knew that Harley was going. Maybe they had exchanged numbers, or like him, they were messaging on Instagram. He pulled up Peter’s profile, and saw his usual things on there.

Peter B Parker
🇺🇸 / 🚻💖💜💙
16 in two months! Bi, dating. Science/Math is a universal language.

He knew they didn’t have the Bi flag as far as they could tell, so Peter had added the hearts as close as he could to the Bi colors and the unisex symbol to show he swung both ways. Miles had copied him and was glad he had since Peter had beamed when he saw his profile matched his own.

Now he checked Peter’s followers and grit his teeth when he saw that one of his followers was Harley. He couldn’t see the other’s posts when he clicked on his name since his account was private, and he also couldn’t see who was following him or who he followed. However, he could see who Peter was following and he was even further annoyed when he saw that he was following Harley’s account.

Before he could think more clearly on his decision, he messaged Harley. Then he waited to see if he’d accept receiving his message, and something told him that he would.

mi_gonz_mor: Wtf you trying to pull?

harley__keener: Who is this?

Miles snorted at his reply, because he knew the other was aware that this was him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have accepted to allow Miles to message him.

mi_gonz_mor: Cut the shit
What’s your deal? Peter is my bf, back the fuck off

harley__keener: A bit possessive aren’t ya?

The afro-latino teen felt his blood boil, mostly because he could almost sense the taunt in that message. Fuck, he wanted to hit this bastard.

mi_gonz_mor: Fuck you, dude and back off

harley__keener: I don’t think I will

Miles almost flung his phone down he was so angry. It would take all the self control he possessed not to punch Harley the moment he saw him.

harley__keener: Unless Peter tells me to back off or stop talking to him, no deal *dude*

mi_gonz_mor: I won’t ask nicely again

harley__keener: Lol I’d hate to see you being mean

mi_gonz_mor: Fair warning

harley__keener: 🤷🏼‍♂️

“Fuck!” he hissed, his dad barking out a warning at him as his mother reached back and smacked him on the head lightly. “Sorry, sorry,” he mumbled, leaning back in his seat as he took in several deep breaths. This fucking sucked so much, but he wouldn’t let this bastard get under his skin. Peter was with him, was Miles’s boyfriend and loved Miles, so Harley could go to hell for all he cared.

He quickly messaged Peter, realizing he’d left him hanging for too long.

mi_gonz_mor: Sorry babe, we’re almost there. Love you

peter_bee_parker: 😊 love you too

When they got there, the shuttle bus waiting for them all, he saw Peter shifting anxiously next to it and Harley chatting with him. As soon as he saw Miles, he said something to Harley and rushed over. He took more pleasure than he was willing to admit seeing the frown on Harley’s face as Peter threw his arms around Miles. As for Miles, he turned his attention away from the taller boy and back to his boyfriend, his own arms wrapping firmly around Peter’s slender waist.

”I’m sorry,” he mumbled against Peter’s mouth as he kissed him.

Peter rested his forehead against his, Miles having to lean down a bit to allow him to do this. He always complained about his height, but Miles loved the fact that Peter was shorter since he fit just under his chin. “Do you want me to not talk to him? I can, if you want,” Peter mumbled, looking in his eyes.

Miles sighed and leaned forward to press his lips against his. “No, you don’t have to do that,” he told him even if it pained him. Harley’s words over the DM about his possessiveness had struck a cord within him.

He didn’t want to be one of those boyfriends that didn’t trust their partner and behaved like a possessive asshole. Miles trusted Peter to not cheat on him, but as always, he didn’t trust Harley. “Just... let me know if he tries anything.”

Peter shrugged. “I think you have it all wrong. He’s just a friend,” he insisted. He and Miles walked back toward the shuttle bus. “But I’ll make sure you’re the first to know if he does,” he said, knowing he said it to placate him. Still, it made him feel slightly better about the whole situation.

”Alright! Everyone ready to go?” Tony asked as he stepped off the bus, Happy having been putting the bags inside the underbelly of the bus with Jefferson help, since he’d insisted. He smacked Harley’s shoulder lightly. “Get inside, brat.”

Harley flashed him an annoyed look, but the man didn’t miss his slight flinch when he’d playfully smacked his shoulder. Tony would ask him about it later, preferably when there weren’t so many people around.

”Lets get this show on the road,” he declared as everyone piled inside, Peter pleasantly surprised to see that Bucky and the others were riding with them. It was sure to be an interesting three weeks, that was for sure.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

“They made up their minds
and they started packing,
and left before the sun came up
that day.

And exit to eternal summer slacking,
but where were they going without
ever knowing the way?“

~The Way - Fastball

- - - -

Peter groaned as his alarm roused him from slumber, lifting his face where it had been smashed into the pillow and grimaced at the damp spot where he’d been drooling. He groped around for his phone to turn off the alarm. He yawned as he sat up, took a moment to blink the sleep out of his eyes and get his bearings. Then he got out of bed, grabbed his clothes he’d selected for the trip, which was a dark grey Levi’s t-shirt, a white fruit of the loom tank top under that, and some striped shorts that white, gold, and royal blue colors. It was looking like it might rain so he grabbed his green hoodie, glancing at the one that Miles had let him borrow last year, but which he’d then decided to keep. He always made a crack about how he missed his black and red hoodie, but he never directly asked for Peter to give it back.

He took a quick shower, and not quick like his boyfriend was going to do in half an hour when he woke up in a panic, and unplugged his phone from the charger. He saw that Harley had messaged him last night after he’d fallen asleep. Peter waited to message him, instead finished packing up the rest of his clothes. He looked at the contacts case on his desk as he bit his lip, wondering if he should try putting them on.

Last week his aunt May, at Tony’s insistence, had made him an appointment to get better glasses since during one of their lab days he had noticed Peter squinting at the screen in front of him. He’d made them an appointment at a highly qualified optometrist that they would likely never have been able to afford even with Medicaid, and insisted he pay for it and his glasses. May had protested, telling Tony that they weren’t a charity case, and Tony had asked her to speak privately. When they’d come back, she had changed her mind and they had both gone with him to the optometrist’s office.

While at the optometrist office, Peter had expressed an interest in contacts, and May had encouraged him to get the exam and told him that she would pay for the contacts. Tony had lifted his hands in surrender before they’d shared a smile, and Peter was happy to see both his parental figures getting along so well.

It had been a struggle the first time he tried to put on his contacts, poking himself in the eye a total of two times for the left one and once for the right one. After half and hour, he’d finally managed to put one in and he groaned and flailed his hands. May had shot out of her seat and hurried into the back where he’d been trying to put them in in front of a mirror.

“What is it? You didn’t cut your eye with your fingernail, did you?” she asked in a panic.

Peter shook his head, both his eyes closed even if he only had one contact in. “It stings!” Peter groaned, lifting the heel of his hand and pressing it lightly against the eyelid of where the contact was in.

May chuckled at his antics as Peter whined about unsympathetic aunts.

He’d eventually managed to get the other in and had liked the way they looked, wearing them the rest of the day. It was just that he wasn’t use to them and it felt like they wanted to pop out every few minutes, having to close his eyes and press his palm to the affected one. Then taking them off had been a whole other struggle where he’d actually pinched his eye when he tried to get them out, resulting in having a bloodshot eye for the rest of the day.

Peter hadn’t worn them since, because the ones he’d worn were temporary ones and was waiting for his more permanent ones to arrive. And they had, on Tuesday but with the frantic last days of school, he hadn’t had a chance to use them.

The teenager glanced at the time and shook his head, since he wouldn’t have time if he happened to take as long as the first time he’d tried to put them on. His phone lit up and he grabbed it, seeing that Miles had messaged him.

mi_gonz_mor: You awake babe?

He grinned and was so sure that Miles had just woken up himself, since he was notoriously late for school almost every Monday morning when he had to return to the dorms. “Yeah I am, just awhile ago. You finished packing?” Peter asked him, already knowing the answer. After he sent it, he realized he hadn’t responded to Harley’s message from last night.

peter_bee_parker: Yes i fell asleep! It was 2am!

As he stuffed his deodorant and hair gel into his backpack, his phone lit up with both Harley’s and then Miles’s response.

harley__keener: Pffft sleep is for the weak 😝 

mi_gonz_mor: Almost 🙄

 

He responded to Miles’s message first as he laughed, knowing he’d just started packing. Miles was likely frantically trying to shove everything inside his suitcase right that every moment.

Peter had gotten a few large travel sized bottles to put in shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, since he didn’t want to take all three large bottles. He’d filled them last night, and now put them inside a large ziplock back along with his half finished toothpaste, a medium sized mouthwash bottle, and his toothbrush in a separate case for it. All of this went into his backpack, along with some eyedrops and his contact case and cleaning solution.

He messaged back and forth with both boys, laughing at Miles’s emojis, and then frowning at Harley’s messages when he told him that he was going to the lake house as well. “Shit,” Peter groaned, knowing Miles was going to be mad.

peter_bee_parker: Shit gotta go we’re leaving bye

He had enough time to see Harley’s message before he switched over to the convo with Miles. Before he could message him, his aunt called out.

“Peter! Come on! We’re going to be late!”

Peter cursed again and shut off his screen and stuffed his phone and the charging cord in his bag as well, and then remembered his green hoodie. Even if it was summer, his dad had told him that at times the nights were still chilly and that the bus would be kept at a super cold temperature as well.

They piled their things into the trunk of their 1986 Volvo 240. “Go go go,” May rushed him to the passenger seat, pushing the bag in his hands before closing his door. Then she hurried around to the driver’s side, getting in and buckling up as she lightly smacked his arm. “Seatbelt.”

Peter gave up the search for his phone to put on his seatbelt, giving a bit of a yelp as she left the parallel parking space at a rapid speed. He was glad there weren’t any cars, even if it was weird on a Saturday late morning. “There’s a stop sign, Maaaay!” he practically wailed, grunting when she slammed on the breaks and he jerked forward but was saved from smacking his face against the dashboard by his seatbelt.

May reached out quickly and patted his face as if making sure he was alright. “See, seatbelts save lives,” she told him. Then she went forward, turning on the next street and merging into traffic onto Interstate 495 which would take them to Manhattan. Finally, he was able to pull out his phone and message Miles.

peter_bee_parker: I gotta tell you something

When he told him, he was worried when he didn’t respond right away that he spammed the messenger. Peter bit his lip when he finally responded and he could tell he was mad, but it wasn’t Peter’s doing at all! Even so, he apologized again and told him again that he hadn’t know.

mi_gonz_mor: We’ll talk later at the tower

Peter felt himself sag back against his seat, sighing.

peter_bee_parker: Ok 🙁

Miles didn’t respond after that, hadn’t even read the last message Peter had sent and was seriously bummed out as they arrived at the tower. Miles and his parents hadn’t gotten there yet, but he saw Harley leave the elevator, grinning as he waved at Peter. He paused before he walked over, lifting his phone as he unlocked it.

Peter wondered what was happening as Harley’s eyebrows lifted in an expression that Peter took as surprise. He quickly messaged back and proceeded to continue walking toward Peter. “There’s Rip Van Winkle,” he teased with that smile that showed off his canines.

“I’m surprised you even know who that is,” Peter sassed back. Harley was interrupted from answering as his phone beeped again and wasted no time in unlocking it and reading the message. His mouth tightened in a frown, his blue eyes darkening. “Is everything alright?” Peter asked, worried but also not wanting to pry too much.

Harley lifted his gaze to him and he gave him a slight smile. “Yeah, just some asshole,” he told him, responding quickly. He paused as he looked at Peter again before typing something else.

He gave an sardonic laugh, his eyes tightening at the corners as he stared at his phone, seeming to be thinking about something. Peter was really starting to get worried, and the worry about Miles on top of that was making him anxious. He was relieved when he sent two more messages before shutting his phone off and stuffing it in his back pocket.

“So, what’s this lake house like?” Harley asked him, that sharp smile back from before. He wanted to ask about the messages, but decided that it was none of his business.

It was Peter’s turn to get a message, and he quickly checked it. He was relieved when he saw that it was from Miles as he apologized for earlier as Peter smiled. “Oh, well, I’ve never been there before,” he muttered to Harley absentmindedly, responding to his boyfriend’s message. He looked up when he finished and gave an apologetic smile. “I’m in the dark as much as you are about it. Besides, dad said he was going to have another cabin built so we’ll enough room for everyone.”

The shuttle bus arrived then as it parked close by, and Peter marveled at sleek design, wondering if it was as nice on the inside as it was outside. It probably was. He was about to go look inside when he saw Miles’s parent’s car pull into the parking garage.

“I’ll see you on the bus,” he told Harley before he hurried toward Miles who was getting out of the backseat.

As Peter hurried to his boyfriend’s side, Harley was left staring after the shorter boy with a grimace on his face. He saw Miles’s eyes find his as Peter hugged him, but he snorted and turned away as he lifted his phone to see the message exchange between him and Miles.

mi_gonz_mor: Wtf you trying to pull?
harley__keener: Who is this?
mi_gonz_mor: Cut the shit. What’s your deal? Peter is my bf, back the fuck off
harley__keener: A bit possessive aren’t ya?
mi_gonz_mor: Fuck you, dude and back off
harley__keener: I don’t think I will
Unless Peter tells me to back off or stop talking to him, no deal *dude*
mi_gonz_mor: I won’t ask nicely again
harley__keener: Lol I’d hate to see you being mean
mi_gonz_mor: Fair warning
harley__keener: 🤷🏼‍♂️

Harley could admit that he had felt angry when Miles was telling him to back off of Peter, being controlling. He didn’t like controlling people that felt they had the right to control who their partner spoke to or what they did. This was the reason he wouldn’t back off, because more than being attracted to Peter and his dorky self, he wanted to make sure the smaller boy was alright. Harley had dealt with this kind of person in his life before, and he wanted to nip it in the bud if it looked like it could go the same route.
 
He climbed onto the bus after Tony stepped off, cursing himself for flinching when he smacked his shoulder playfully. When he saw Peter and Miles start to get on, he decided to take a seat in the back. Harley popped his earbuds in his ear and turned up his music. He might be a country boy, but he listened to more than country. His tastes in music varied, but for now he put on 'All To Myself' by Dan + Shay. As he watched over the top of his seat, Peter greeted the people already onboard enthusiastically. He'd met some of them already, they were part of the Avengers S.W.A.T. team, but not all of them were there.
 
If he remembered their names correctly, it was Steve, the team leader, his best friend Bucky, Sam, Wanda, and Vision (seriously, what?). He thinks there were a few missing, Clint, Natasha, and Thor (who's real name was Donald), but he wasn't too familar with them all to know who else was missing. He knew there was some Air Force Colonel that was Tony's friend that hung out with them, and the one he was really excited to meet, Dr. Bruce Banner.
 
The bus started to move after another ten minutes, and was both glad and not when Peter and Miles sat up front, even if they were together. He sighed and sank down in his seat, pulling up a game and playing after muting the sound so he could continue listening to his playlist. They were thirty minutes into their two hour trip when Tony plopped into the seat next to him.
 
"Let's talk, kid," Tony said, Harley removing one earbud from his ear as soon as he sat down. He might or might not have startled a bit when he suddenly sat next to him, since he was leaning against the window and had gotten bored with the game so he'd been staring outside.
 
Harley leaned back in his seat after having sat straight as King Princess crooned in his ear.

'Everyone wants something from your soul. Someone's friend is talking like they know...'

He felt his hackles rising as he saw Tony's serious expression, and was certain he wouldn't like this conversation. The steady rocking of the bus had been lulling him to sleep, since he hadn't gotten too much sleep last night. However, he was wide awake now.

“Yeah? What about?" he asked, hoping his voice didn't sound as defensive as he felt in that moment.
 
Tony shrugged as he leaned back in his own seat. They were pretty comfortable, since he'd spared no expense on the bus. "Just the usual stuff. How are things in Tennesse... anything interesting happen at home?"
 
Harley was trying not to react, he really was, but he was sure he tensed when he asked about home. "No... nothing interesting. We can't all have exciting lives like you that involve arms dealers, and kidnapped interns/adopted sons."
 
He was deflecting, of course he was, and judging by Tony's expression, the man knew as well. "Come on, kiddo level with me. I know I'm not your dad, and I'm not trying to be, but I'm going to be your guardian for the next three years. I want to be there for you when you need me, and not just by throwing money at the problem."
 
The teenager grinned at him, but it was more of a grimace than a happy expression. "Like instead of saying thanks and a proper goodbye, you give an abandoned kid a garage full of high-tech gadgets and a car?"
 
Tony winced. That hadn't been his finest moment, and there were a lot of them. He cleared his throat, but he didn't leave the way Harley was hoping he would. "Well, what can I say, other than that I was an asshole then, and perhaps suffering from a bit of PTSD." He reached out suddenly to touch his shoulder and Harley cringed back. "But right now, I want to talk about this. I want to try and help you... with anything you need."
 
Harley didn't want to speak about it, to anyone. Then the words of the song he was listening to registered, and he still had one of his earbuds on.
 
'And I am feeling so small. It was over my head. I know nothing at all. And I will stumble and fall...'
 
He swallowed as he blinked the sting of tears back, turning his face back to the window. "Yeah, alright," he murmured. "I... I'll tell you."
 
- - - -

They arrived at the lake house almost and hour and a half later. Since they'd left around noon, it was barely 2:30 in the afternoon. Miles had pulled Peter toward the trail that was close to the lake house even as Peter whined about wanting to go into the lake. After a kiss, the shorter boy had given in and they'd disappeared among the trees as May and Rio called for them to not go far and to be careful. Harley heard Peter shriek before Miles's laughter followed, and a moment later it was followed by Peter laughing as well.
 
Harley grabbed his bag, the other two teens already having gone to leave their stuff inside. He'd check out their rooms later, but for now he knew that there was a talk with Tony pending. Harley had evaded it by saying he didn’t want to hash things out while sitting on a bus full of people. So, Tony had told him they’d talk when they arrived.
 
He found it hard to talk about it, because it wasn’t something that had happened years ago, or when he was too young to remember. It had been happening this past year and a half, and it was the reason he was here. However, talking about it to someone else that wasn't part of it was something else entirely different.
 
So, even if he said he’d tell Tony, when he heard the man come into the house, he exited from another door and ignored when he heard Tony call his name. He was wearing a pair of black basketball shorts and a striped long sleeve, even if it was hot. Harley had been wearing a zip up hoodie since the bus was cold, but he’d tossed it on top of his suitcase as soon as he’d entered the house. He'd call it cabin, but it was too modern to call it that.

Harley kicked off his ratty sneakers, hearing the laughter of Steve and Bucky as they entered the house. He was able to make out Tony asking if they’d seen Harley. He moved away before he could hear their answer, heading toward the lake and the dock.

Once he reached the edge of the dock, he sat down and let his feet touch the water as he stared down at it. Abbie came to mind and the last time he’d seen her just before he’d left. She’d been wearing a new dress and her blonde hair was in pigtails. He hoped his sister was doing alright, and knew she was well fed now and it was all he cared about. That she was safe and taken care of.

“Heads up!”

Harley ducked instinctively and a body sailed over his head, falling into the water and splashing him. “Gah!” Harley exclaimed as he spat out the water that had accidentally gotten into his mouth as he scrambled back to a safer distance on the dock.

He heard laughter and turned to see Peter walking up, and saw he’d taken off his grey t-shirt off and was only wearing a white tank top and the shorts of before. He also didn’t have his glasses on, likely having left them where he’d left his shirt. Peter had kicked off his shoes, and was now looking over Harley’s shoulder as he bit his bottom lip.

Harley tore his gaze away from the sight as he turned, and saw Miles, who had been the one that almost kill him, pulling himself out of the lake and onto the dock. He’d tossed off both his shirts and was only wearing his green shorts as he ran a hand back through his wet hair. Harley scoffed angrily at himself for finding the other attractive, and turned away stubbornly.

“Are you gonna get in?” Peter asked him, looking down at the taller boy. Peter was fiddling with his shirt as if uncertain about taking it off. “I don’t know about getting in either.”

Harley saw his self-consciousness and nodded. “Yeah, we should both get in,” he told him. He stood and even if his skin crawled taking off his long sleeved shirt, he did it. Harley saw Peter’s eyes go to his arms a moment with shock, mouth dropping open slightly. “Come on,” he said with a crooked smile, jerking his head toward Miles as he looked over at them curiously.

Peter’s brown eyes flicked toward him and smiled a bit and nodded, slowly taking his own shirt off. He had no muscle mass, since his asthma prevented him from doing any sports. Also, he had some scars on his stomach, but it was nothing on the ones that Harley had. He was also pale as heck.

“See, hard parts over,” he told Peter. He was rewarded with a smile, shy and adorable, and Harley was seriously screwed. It sucked crushing on someone else’s boyfriend. Peter hurried over to Miles, who grabbed his hand and glanced over at Harley a moment before looking away. They turned toward the edge of the dock, and both of them took off, jumping off the edge as their hands separated and hit the water with a big splash.

Harley shrugged and ran over, the sun being covered by the clouds a moment and making the intense heat abate a moment as he hit the surface lake, surprised by the cool water. When he resurfaced, Peter was laughing as he wiped the water out of his face, and Miles was grumbling in annoyance.

“Incoming!” They heard and the three teenagers hastily swam out of the way, Steve and Bucky jumping in moments later.

Harley swam close to the dock, and watched a moment as Peter and Bucky engaged in a splashing contest. He frowned when he didn’t see Miles and startled when the other was suddenly next to him, having swam under water so he resurfaced next to Harley.

“I don’t like you,” he started as he pushed his wet hair back, making Harley scowl at him. “But thanks for whatever you said to Pete.” Then he swam away.

Harley snorted. “Yeah, sure,” he said, shaking his head. He couldn’t figure out this dude, who one moment was threatening him away from Peter, and then thanking him. As if he knew what Harley was thinking, Miles threw a smirk at him over his shoulder as he swam away. “Smug bastard,” he muttered as his cheeks heated up. He ducked his head under the cool water.

 

The sun had started to sink closer to the horizon when they called it quits as they left the water. It was a good thing Bucky and Steve had thought to being towels for the three teens. Harley toweled his hair dry as he heard Rio and May calling everyone to eat.

As they entered, he saw Tony glance at him and almost groaned at the look he gave him. He only nodded and followed Miles and Peter toward the bedrooms. “It’s upstairs, at the end of the hall!” Tony called.

Harley frowned and followed the other two. Miles was the first to enter and he paused outside the door. “Well, fuck,” he cursed. Peter and Harley frowned and glanced at one another.

The taller boy stepped around Peter and pushed Miles aside as the other glared at him, but ignored him as he instead stared at the last room on disbelief. It had a bunk bed and a third single bed to the right. “Son of a bitch,” Harley added.

Peter’s eyes widened when he came in. “What? Dad wants us to share?!” he squeaked. He had pulled his shirt on after drying himself off a bit, and now pulled the towel more tighter around his waist, since his shorts were still wet and dripping water.

Miles ran a hand down his face and shook his head. “There’s no way,” he said, looking pointedly at Harley.

Harley lifted his hands in surrender, having tossed his gym bag on top of the single bed. “Hey, don’t look at me. I’ve never be here before either,” he said. “Go tell the old man you want another room.”

The Afro-Latino did just that, leaving Harley and Peter in the room. Peter tried lifting his bag to the top bunk, and Harley grinned in amusement when he couldn’t quite get it on the bed. “Here, I got it,” Harley said, taking it out of his hands and putting it easily on the bunk. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have one of the bottom beds?” He asked him. “I can take the top, it’s no problem.”

Peter’s lips twisted in what Harley could only describe as a pout. “Are you calling me short? Cause I’ll have you know that 5’4 is a normal height. It’s you and Miles are are abnormally tall,” he huffed.

Harley snorted and reached out to pushed his head down as Peter squawked. “You are totally short, Peter,” he laughed.

The other pushed his hand away. “I’m older, so respect your elders,” Peter snarked back, making Harley grin. “I’m a sophomore and you’re a freshman.”

The blonde haired teen started to grin and Peter squinted up at him suspiciously. “Actually,” he started, the grin now a smirk.

Peter shook his head and lifted a hand to cover his mouth. “Don’t say it... just don’t,” he said, not believing that Harley could be a sophomore already.

Harley pulled his hand away from his mouth more gently than he would have done if anyone else would have done what Peter just did. He was a bit defensive when it came to people touching him, but with Peter he didn’t feel that. Maybe it was what he’d seen of the other boy already, or it was likely because his eyes.

It didn’t have anything to do with his dorky glasses, which covered his bambi brown eyes. Peter had nice eyes for sure, but it was the kindness he saw in them. He was a nice guy, and after the small amount of time knowing him, Harley was really starting to like him. It was a scary feeling, definitely, and also because Peter and Miles were together.

“I jumped a grade, so I’m in the same grade as you this coming year, actually,” he said with a smile. He shrugged. “Maybe we’ll even get some classes together, who knows?”

Before Peter could say anything, they turned to see Miles come into the room. His eyes immediately went to Harley’s hand, that was still holding Peter’s wrist. Harley immediately let it go, but the black boy didn’t look placated in the least. “Tony said there’s another room in the other cabin with the Avengers,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Um, do we have to share with one of them?” Peter asked, fiddling with his shirt again, looking a bit uncertain.

“I don’t know. For now, let’s change... Harley, let’s let Peter change first,” he told the taller boy pointedly and jerked his head to the door.

Harley nodded after a moment, knowing what was coming; likely a ‘chat’ with Miles in the hallway. “Yeah, no problem.” He left the room, Miles following him as he closed the door.

It was almost immediate, the slightly shorter boy getting in his face as Harley tensed. “Look man, I don’t know what your deal is, but I told you,” he said as he stabbed his finger against his chest. Harley had put on his shirt back on after getting out of the lake, being the first one out and not even caring that his skin was still damp. He might have taken his shirt off to give Peter a boost of confidence, but he didn’t like being shirtless.

“Yeah? And I told you that unless Pete tells me to back off, I’m not gonna do what you say,” he said. They were both keeping their voices pitched low so Peter wouldn’t hear them, and wouldn’t unless he was pressing against the door or something. “Peter is his own person, and you don’t control him, dude.”

Miles grimaced. “I don’t control him,” he agreed. “But he’s my boyfriend, and you’re taking advantage of his naivety. He thinks you just want to be his friend, but I know that’s not your intention at all.” He hated that he had to look up at Harley, who was six feet, the tall bastard. “You’re attracted to him.”

Harley smirked. “So what if I am? That’s not a crime.” He shrugged, trying to be nonchalant, but he could feel his heart beating fast in his chest. He hated confrontations, even if he would fight in an instant. However, there was just something about Miles that made it different. It was probably that Harley was attracted to him as well, and he didn’t want to be.

“Besides, if Peter is your boyfriend, perhaps you should trust him a bit more, hmm?” Harley shot back, wanting to get him angry and take a swing at him. That would likely kill whatever attraction he felt for the black boy. “Not as confident in your relationships as you thought, Miles?”

The other opened his mouth to respond, but the door opened before he could and he immediately stepped away from Harley. As for Harley, he was glad to have him back away. Peter looked between them with a furrowed brow, in a pair of black basketball shorts and a dark green shirt. “Are you fighting?” he asked with tense shoulders.

Miles shook his head and stepped toward him. “Nah, Pete, we were just having a conversation. Isn’t that right, Harley?”

As loath as he was to agree with Miles, Harley nodded so as not to worry Peter. “Yeah, just chatting about how great this place is, and how we’re going to have a fun summer.”

Miles glanced at Harley and the look in his eyes suggested that he didn’t agree with that statement. Harley felt the same way, especially if things continued the way they were between Miles and himself.

- - - -

"Hold up, Harley," Tony called to him as he made to follow Peter and Miles up to the room.
 
Harley sighed, having hoped to avoid this, which is why he was hurrying out of the room after having washed his plate. He sat down in defeat, having noticed that everyone else had inconspicuously left. "Yeah, alright," he mumbled. The man sat down beside him and looked at the teenager that was taller than him, as loath as he was to admit it.
 
"So, what's going on at home, kid?"
 
The teen looked up at the ceiling as he slumped back against the couch. He figured he might as well get this over with. It was best to just tell him instead of trying to deflect. "Well, everything started... with Derek."
 
Tony's eyebrows lifted. He hadn't thought this would have to do with a boy. "He's a boy you liked, or...?"
 
Harley shook his head, too tired over this conversation already to even react to the man's mistake. "No,” he muttered, one hand sliding into his sleeve to run the pad of his finger along one of the scars on his arm. “Derek is my mom's boyfriend..."

- - - -

Chapter Text

Chapter Five

- - - -

“My sleepless white nights aren't white,
Scarcely scattered of stars.
Little holes in the watertight canvas,
Sad strata on the cloak.
And I, bewitched of darkness,
I spend infinite hours
Counting funeral sheep
Which upholster my insomnia.
 
Ah, midnight is there.
Ah, I'm not sleeping.
And less I sleep and more I'm thinking,
and more I'm thinking and less I forget....”

~Ceux qui rêvent (Those who dream) - Pomme

- - - -

’He knew not to aim for the face, never the face, or any where that the evidence could be seen. Even so, he couldn’t stop putting out his disgusting cigarettes on me. At times when my mama was at work, he insisted on using my hand as an ash tray. Do you see here... and here, and all around the palm... and my arms... well, yeah. Don’t.... don’t make that face, or you’ll make me start crying. I’ve shed enough tears, and I don’t wanna give him anymore. He doesn’t deserve a single one.’

- - - -
 
Harley always had plans to leave Rosehill one day. Because he knew he was smart, and the coursework was too easy in school, and he had even been skipped ahead a year. So, he had devised a plan to convince his mom for them to move to New York, where he knew Tony Stark lived now after his home had been destroyed by Aldrich Killian.
 
They weren't well off, since his mom worked at a diner, and while they received food stamps, it wasn't enough. And he had the mind that could take him places, make the money he needed to take care of his family. To do that, he needed to get a degree and be better than anyone else out there.

Harley Keener had once been soft; a child that didn’t know what the world was like. Their family could be considered poor, but they got by with his mama’s job at the diner, and Harley helped by fixing broken stuff for people.

His mom had opened up a bank account for him where he could deposit the bit of money he made. “For college,” she’d say, but for Harley it seemed an impossible dream. It wasn’t even about the money, but more about leaving. He couldn’t leave Rosehill, leave Abbie, or his mama that needed him more than she was willingly to admit.

So, they were happy, poor but happy in their small house and the garage where Harley could tinker for a while to forget. He would work on his car and forget that he was likely destined to be stuck on Rosehill for the rest of his life.

He was in his garage when his mom came home one Friday night, calling for Abbie and him. He washed his hands, wiping them off on his pant legs that were mercifully clean of grease. Harley hurried to the house, pausing in the doorway when he saw a strange man sitting in one of the kitchen chairs.

Abbie was in the doorway leading to the living room, eyeing the unknown man warily as she shifted in her white tennis shoes, her orange frilly socks a contrast to them. “Who’re you?” Abbie asked him, big blue eyes shifting toward her older brother apprehensively.

“Oh hi, I’m a friend of your mom,” he told them with a smile like the cough medicine their mom made them take, oily and ugly. “I’m going to be staying here for a while. So, mind your manners, hmm?”

Harley felt his hackles rise at his tone, opening his mouth to say something when their mom walked up behind Abbie. “Hey, guys! I see you’ve met Derek! He’s a tourist that’s been coming to the diner the last few days.” She moved further into the kitchen and started to make some coffee. “Listen, Harley, Abbie, his friends ditched him on their way out of town, so I’m letting him take the couch until he can get on his feet and get enough money to get home.”

Harley was stunned, because how could his mom let some strange man stay with them? Besides, Abbie was seven and Harley was thirteen. They didn’t know him, and he could be dangerous!

Even so, he’d only nodded and hadn’t said much to this, because he was the kid and his mom was the adult. She knew better, so he had to believe she knew what she was doing. He would leave soon, and then he wouldn’t have to worry about it. Harley just had to make sure his sister was safe, because that’s what his dad had said before he’d left them.

’Keep your baby sister safe, ya hear? No matter what happens, just keep her safe.’

The man might have abandoned them for his own selfish reasons, but Harley had kept those words close to his chest. So, he’d worry about keeping her safe and that’s all that mattered.

- - - -
 
Harley wiped at his bloody nose, getting shakily to his feet. He spat a mouthful of blood and lifted his face to look at his aggressor with narrowed eyes, his dirty blonde hair falling into his face and eyes.

“Have something to say?” Tommy said, staring down at the younger boy. When Harley only grinned at him and straightened, he growled and stepped toward him. He grunted as a taller figure came out of nowhere, decking him as he hit the ground.

When Tommy regained his footing, he tried to pick a fight with the one that had come between them but stopped when he saw who it was. He spat at the ground, glared at Harley and walked off. “See ya around, Keener!”

Harley wiped at his mouth and glared angrily at his ‘savior’. “I didn’t need your help, E.J.,” he snapped at the now eighteen year old.

E.J. shrugged nonchalantly. “Yeah, sure, cause a normal person just loves getting their asses kicked.” He punched his shoulder none too gently as Harley hissed in pain. “You’re welcome, idiot.”

He sniffled and shrugged as well. “Yeah, whatever... another day, another asshole.” He wiped his face with his sleeve, rolling them back so his mom wouldn’t see the blood on them.

“What’s that?” E.J. asked with a frown, stepping toward him and grabbing his arm. Harley yanked it away when he realized he’d seen his arms. “Those look like cigarette burns, Harley,” he said, his face having turned serious. “Who the hell did that to you?”

Harley bared his teeth in a growl. “No one! Back the fuck off!” He grabbed his backpack and stormed off before the older boy could say more.

He knew the other meant well. While they hadn’t been the best of friends after Harley had saved him from drowning, E.J. had taken it upon himself to take care of the younger boy he’d once bullied. Although he meant well, some things Harley had to take care of himself; Tommy and these cigarette burns were two of them.

He was fine.

- - - -

Harley was not fine. No matter what he said, he wasn’t fine. He hadn’t been fine for the past six months, not since Derek had come to live with them, who wasn’t even pretending that he was going to leave anytime soon anymore. He wasn’t leaving.

Derek had stopped pretending pretty quick that he was going to leave after the first two months, and in that time he’d started dating his mother. She’d become besotted with the man, who had started working at Riley’s garage since he was apparently a good mechanic, or so he said.

He’d lost that job after four months from drinking on the job, and hadn’t found another since. He did the odd job here and there on the cheap, but it wasn’t enough and it put a strain on his mama. Even then, she’d grin and bare it and assure him that he’d find a new job soon.

So far, he had been off work for two months and hadn’t looked for another. Even then, he always seemed to have money, but instead of giving it to his mom, he would buy beer and cigarettes.

Harley wasn’t even at ease being in his own house, since he’d started getting abusive with Harley the third month he’d been here for ‘talking back’. It was a load of crap, but his mom accepted Derek’s explanation when she’d asked about the bruise on Harley’s cheek.

After that he made sure to hit him where it wasn’t visible, threatening Abbie to keep him quiet.

“What’s the matter, you gonna cry to your mama?” Derek would sneer and he’d punch him in the shoulder, or the stomach, or kick him in the back as he made to walk away from his taunts.

“I’m the man of this house, not you. Get that through your thick skull,” he sneered, poking at his head none too gently with each word. He lifted his hand and Harley flinched away, making the man snicker as he dropped his hand and walked away. “Fucking pussy,” he laughed tauntingly.

Harley stared angrily at the ground, his whole body shaking at the feeling of helplessness he was feeling. He was thirteen years old, and he was only supposed to be worried about puberty and making good grades so Tony freaking Stark would know he wasn’t a waste of space, that he was someone that would one day become an important person. Instead, he felt more like a scared little boy that couldn’t even defend himself from his mom’s boyfriend, couldn’t even tell her what was going on for fear that the bastard would hurt Abbie.

So, no, Harley was definitely not fine. He wasn’t not even remotely okay. Harley was in trouble and he had no where and no one to turn to. He was alone.

- - - -

Tony came out of his stupor, since that’s all he could muster of his famous genius to call it, since he was in utter disbelief as to what Harley was recounting. Of the abused he’d suffered at the hands of a bastard he wanted to strangle with his bare hands if he ever got the chance. And he could do it... just get on his private jet and find him. He’d never been this angry, not since last year when he’d learned about what Skip (what a douchebag name, honestly) had done to Peter.

“And... uh,” he cleared his throat, “your sister?” He knew she was younger than him, but dear God, he couldn’t remember how many years younger. The thought of her suffering this same abuse made something akin to despair take hold of him. “Did he... is she alright?”

Harley nodded. “She’s perfect. His focus was always on me.” He finally lifted his eyes after having been staring at his lap, and now met Tony’s eyes with a fierce intensity that was out of place on such a young face. “I made sure of it.”

Tony could respect that, as loath as he was to think of the boy suffering. He thinks it’d have hurt the boy more to see his little sister suffer, so he’d taken all the hurt. “Where is she is now?”

The teenager sighed as he fiddled with the cable of his earbuds. He’d seen Tony eye them and his old beat up iPhone 4 with a look of contempt. Harley wouldn’t be surprised if he changed them suddenly, and all without telling Harley. It’s likely what might have happened to Peter, since he’d notice that he had the latest model of Stark phone. It was probably more high tech than the regular models on the market, and he wouldn’t be surprised if it had GPS tracking on it and some where else on his person. It was a given after he’d been kidnapped. And hadn’t that been a surprise to learn.

“She’s safe,” he said. “He never touched her.”

Tony heard the ‘because I took every single beating’ that remained unsaid. He’d always known Harley was a good kid, and it seemed it hadn’t changed in five years. Now he wished he’d have kept in contact besides the occasional phone call every few months. He had to wonder if he was already being abused during one of the calls, since he hadn’t gleaned anything. Tony felt like he’d failed him, since he hadn’t even noticed when Harley had proposed the idea of studying in New York and Tony had flown down to sign the temporary guardianship papers.

The man dreaded asking more, but he knew he needed to find out what happened. He needed to know what measures he had to take, if any with this man, this Derek, who was more of a monster than a man. In Tony’s opinion, anyone that abused a child was a monster; little more than a rabid dog that needed to be put down for the good of all involved.

“What happened with Derek?”

Harley ran a hand along his arm, having pulled up his sleeve to show Tony the burn marks there, and they were hard to ignore as they marred his skin in sporadic patterns. “Mom finally noticed what was happening,” he said, motioning to the burns. It meant that she’d seen the burns and demanded answers, and likely hadn’t liked what she’d been told. “She told him to get out... Derek didn’t like that”

- - - -

Harley pulled Abbie closer as she whimpered, his back pressed into the corner of the closet, the clothes shifting with the movement as the plastic coat hangers tapped against one another. Their mom had shoved them inside when she’d heard Derek opening the front door. The shouting had started immediately, their mama’s voice heard above the man’s yells as she hurled insults and threats at him. “Harley, why is mama screaming at Derek?” Abbie asked him.

He had always made sure to hide the evidence of what the man did to him, and he smiled all nice and sweet in his face while he whispered threats of harming her in Harley’s ear. Harley had let the man hurt him and never said a thing, to protect her. If she was harmed, then nothing would have stopped him from killing the man.

Derek didn’t know how easy it would have been for Harley to sneak into his mama’s room and cut his throat while he slept. The only thing stopping him was the fear that he would fail and he’d be taken away, from Abbie and leave her defenseless from that bastard.

“He’s... not a nice man, cricket,” he told her, pressing a kiss to her downy cheek. With her in his lap and wrapped in his arms, he could feel her small heart beating rapidly in her chest and her breath hitched every time either their mama or Derek shouted. He could tell she was on the verge of bursting into tears, but he couldn’t do anything about it.

Then the sound of something breaking was heard and Abbie gave a little scream, clutching Harley tighter. “Mama!” she started to sob, too dark to see her face, but he was sure there were tears in her eyes that were so alike to his.

He hated leaving her, but when something else broke, he knew he had to make sure his mama was alright. “No! Harley!” Abbie cried, clinging more fiercely to him as he tried to gently pry her small fingers from him.

“I have to go see if mama is alright, Abbie,” he insisted. When she further protested, he grabbed his phone and pushed it into her hands. “Look, you can call for help if I’m not back in five minutes. Do you remember the number?”

Abbie wiped at her tear-stained face and nodded, her pigtails lopsided on her head. His mama tried but she could never seem to get it right, since she was always rushing off to work. Harley was always left in charge of getting them both on the bus every morning, and he’d learned to redo her hair. So, he easily redid the lopsided one quickly. “I’ll be back... five minutes.”

He waited for her to nod before he opened the door and got out, closing the closet door and then the bedroom door, just in case, and snuck downstairs. Harley threw caution to the wind as he ran down the stairs when the screaming got more heated, the sound of glass or something similar breaking. The living room was a mess, and one of the lamps was broken since he almost slipped when he stepped on one of the pieces. He regained his equilibrium and followed the sound of things breaking, his mother screaming bloody murder, and Harley was sure Derek was hurting her.

When he got to the kitchen, he was in time to see Derek duck as his mama threw a cup at him, the glass shattering against the wall behind him. He froze in the doorway at the same time they saw him, Derek between him and his mother. As soon as the man saw him, his face twisted into that ugly expression.

He knew it well, and had always thought that it seemed reserved for him, but now he knew. Derek was angry at his mama (or perhaps because she was throwing the dishes at him), and he’d seen him only get annoyed at Abbie. However, when he and Harley were alone, that hateful snarl would always curl his lips and twist his face. He hated Harley and he couldn’t figure out why, but he found that he didn’t care.

So, Harley squared his shoulders and looked at Derek with the fiercest glare he could muster. “Get out of my house,” he yelled at him with more bravado than anything else. He concentrated on that, and not the way his knees were shaking because of how terrified he was.

Derek laughed at that. “What was that? Is that the faggot growing a backbone?” He saw Harley’s face change to a startled expression. “Oh, did you think I didn’t notice? The way you stare at boys, like a disgusting pervert?” He spat at his feet with a sneer. “It makes me sick.”

His mama screamed at him to shut up, threatening to throw something else at his head. “Get the fuck out of my house, you asshole!” she shrieked.

The man looked at her, saw the anger at him and he looked down at the floor as he laughed softly. Then he lunged at Harley, and the fourteen year old didn’t know he could move that fast.

Harley grunted in pain as he hit the floor with the man’s weight on top of him, and then his hands were on his head. Then he felt agony explode in his skull, saw Derek’s enraged face, and heard his mother’s hysterical screaming; and then darkness.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six

- - - -

“I was bound, was tired
Hadn't seen a light so long
Thought I lost my fight
Couldn't find my way back home
And I felt the light stepping out of me
I was bound, and tired
Waiting for daylight...”

~Bang My Head x David Guetta (Sia & Fetty Wap)

- - - -

Tony looked expectantly at him, almost like he was a reader, anxious to hear what happened next, and only the real worry on his face allowed Harley to continue. “He fractured my skull, and I had to be airlifted to the nearest major hospital. Lucky for me, old Earl does helicopter tours for tourists.” Harley gave that sharp smile that Tony knew too well, because he had used it a lot over the years.

“You see, they needed to make sure my brain stayed inside my skull,” he said, lightly tapping the back of his head. “It’s a good thing my hair grows fast, and they left the top long enough so it covered the staples they jammed into his head.”

Tony swallowed and resisted the urge to ask to see them, knowing by how delicately he’d touched his head that he still had them. “What happened... to Derek?” he asked instead. If the man had gotten away scot-free, then he would send Friday to find him.

At times, one had to exact their own justice.

“Apparently, he was selling... not so legal substances, and had been skimming from the product.” His smile was crooked and sardonic this time. “The police found him under a bridge a few miles outside of town. They’d been looking for him a week before he was found, and I don’t think he had a very quick end.”

Harley looked at his hands in his lap, and the scars on them that would surely take a long time to fade. “Does it make me a terrible person because I’m glad he’s dead... because I hope he suffered?”

Tony sighed and ran a hand down his haggard face, feeling more tired now than when this conversation had stared. “Jesus, kid, of course not. That bastard... hurt you, and he got less than what he deserved. You’re allowed to be angry and to want... that man to feel the same pain you felt at his hands.”

He refrained from touching his shoulder, because they simply didn’t have the same kind of relationship he had with Peter. The smaller teen relished the small touches to his shoulder, the hair ruffles he leaned into, and the rare hug since Tony was an emotionally constipated person that had to work hard to be affectionate. With Harley, it was different.

Harley wasn’t looking for a father in Tony, but he could be a friend. After all, he had experience in dealing with troubled teens after Peter had wormed his way into his life, and then his heart. While he had met Harley first, and he had befriended the Avengers, and Pepper, and Rhodey was his oldest fiend, it was Peter that had opened his heart.

He had met Rhodey when he was marginally more open, but then his parents had died and he’d thrown himself deeper in drugs and alcoholism, and shallow sex. While he had come a long way from that person, a lot due to Pepper and his friends, but he could still admit that he was selfish with a lot of things. It wasn’t until one dorky with glasses had entered his life did he want to actually change into a person to be proud of.

Peter had shown him that he wanted to be a father, which he had been scared to admit before. He’d been too afraid of becoming Howard, but Peter (after a few hiccups) had made him see that he could be a dad, a good one.

Now, here was another brilliant disaster kid that needed him, and Tony intended not to fail him again. He would be there for him in any capacity Harley needed him in, whether that was as a dad, or a friend.

“In fact,” he said with confidence,” you’re a terrific kid. I’ll admit that you’re likely to drive me crazy these next few years, and oh my God, what was I thinking?” he groaned as he grabbed tufts or his hair as if in despair.

Harley snorted before he burst out laughing. “No take backs, old man! You’re stuck with me,” he cackled.

As Tony grumbled while Harley, the man internally smiled as Harley grinned at him.

He’d gone looking for Harley earlier then he’d run off after they’d gotten to the cabin, attracted in the direction of the lake by shouting and laughter. When he’d gotten within sight of the water, he’d seen the three boys, Steve and Bucky as they took turns jumping into the lake. Harley had said something Tony couldn’t make out to Miles, who had then promptly shoved the taller boy in the lake. Then Peter had jumped on his boyfriend’s back and both of them had gone tumbling into the water.

They’d been laughing and rough-housing like normal teenage boys, along with big, blonde and handsome, and tall, dark and gorgeous (he had eyes, damnit). Now, as he looked at the same boy of less than two hours ago; looking so tired and defeated, it was like looking at a different person. Tony wanted to see him as before, when he’d been with Peter and Miles. Although, he seemed more relaxed around Peter, and thought that maybe it was that they were both abuse victims and could sense that in one another

It might be a good idea to encourage their friendship. After all, both teens would be aiming for MIT, and he knew from experience that it wasn’t fun starting at a new school far from home, and knowing no one. Luckily, he’d found Rhodey-bear in his first year there, his second semester when he’d been forced to switch dorms by Howard.

“Alright,” he sighed, not sure what to say, or what to do. “Is that why you left?” he finally asked. He wondered as to when that had happened, but it couldn’t have been too long ago since he still had the staples in his head.

Harley shrugged. “I guess so,” he admitted. “Everyone found out what was happening, and they’d stare at me with pity in their eyes. I got so tired of it, so after the last day of school I got in my car, and left after packing it up the night before.”

Tony frowned. “Am I going to get a hysterical call from your mother?” the man asked him. It’s a surprise he hadn’t gotten one already. He was also surprised the bastard hadn’t tried to sell the car.

“Nah,” he said as he scratched his chin. He was starting to already grow a bit of facial hair, but it was mostly peach fuzz for the moment. “I think she kinda knew I was leaving, because before leaving for school that day she hugged me harder than she ever had. She told me to be safe and not to worry about them.” He wiped at his face, looking away from Tony. “I’ve already gotten several angry calls from my sister for leaving without saying goodbye.”

Harley hadn’t intended to say this, but once he had started talking, he hadn’t be able to stop. Maybe it was a good thing he had gotten it all off his chest, since he felt lighter somehow. Everything had been building up during the almost twelve hours on the road from Tennessee to Manhattan, and now it almost felt like he could relax.

“Alright, kid,” he said, finally reaching out and laying a hand on his shoulder. He felt Harley tense under his touch, and Tony wondered if he could convince the teen to go see Dr. Ruth, since she’d been doing wonders for his other troubled teen since he had started seeing her last year after the whole Toomes incident. Tony just had to convince Harley to go see her, which he was sure would be a whole battle in itself.

Tony wondered if it would be easier to convince him if Harley knew Peter went to see her. Also, since they seemed to get along, maybe they could even go on the same day, or get them both into a group with other teens going through the same thing. He would have to talk to Peter and ask if it was alright to tell Harley the events of last year. He’d have to tread carefully, since he didn’t want to betray either teenager’s trust in helping the other.

Miles’s parents had agreed to have their son go see the therapist, but after a month, Miles had told them he was fine and didn’t want to keep going. Dr. Ruth, who specialized in traumatized children had been reluctant to agree with him, stating that she believed he was closing himself off over the whole ordeal. In the end, Jeff and Rio had respected Miles’s wish, and he had stopped seeing the psychologist. Tony had no control over that, and he’d never be so bold as to argue their choice when it came to their son. Besides, Miles seemed fine.

He would insist to Harley that he did need help, but it wasn’t to say that he would completely take the choice out of Harley’s hand. Tony would just strongly recommend that he needed it, and he was hoping that Peter’s influence might help.

“It’s getting late, kiddie. Why don’t you head off to bed?” Tony said as he stood.

Harley rolled his eyes, but he stood as well. “It’s barely ten, old man. Besides, it’s summer vacation.”

He’d showered and dressed in some jeans and long sleeve shirt despite the heat, since Tony had A/C in the whole house. Harley wasn’t sure, but he may just go sleeveless while here. After all, Peter had already seen his arms, but he wasn’t sure about Miles since he hadn’t say anything. The older teen acted the same way with him besides that moment in the water when he’d thanked him for getting Peter in the lake.

If he wasn’t hesitant about leaving Miles and Peter alone (and how messed up that he was getting in between Peter and his boyfriend), then he would have taken that extra room with the Avengers. It didn’t hurt that they were (the men at least) attractive. Although, he was sure they just saw a kid when they looked at him, which was a bummer. If only he was three years older, damnit.

“Don’t care. Bed. Now,” Tony stated.

The blonde haired teen snorted. “Bossy,” he grumbled and stuffed his hands in his pockets as he made for the stairs. He glanced over the railing as he climbed up and saw the man sit down with a sigh, rubbing his hand down his face in a tired fashion. He’d have to tell him later that everything that had happened to him wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but that of a dead man, and Harley didn’t want to waste any more time thinking about him.

Harley climbed the rest of the stairs quietly, and it proved how well built and new they were that they made no sound as he climbed them. As he reached the end of them and turned into the hallway, he came face to face with Peter. He froze as he saw the other, and Peter stepped back uncertainly.

“How much did you hear?” Harley asked, and Peter’s guilty face was all the answer he needed.

“I d-didn’t... I mean, I wasn’t t-trying to s-snoop,” he stuttered, looking shamefaced.

Harley sighed and ran a hand through his dirty blonde hair, trying not to wince as his fingers brushed against the staples. “It’s... it’s fine, I guess,” he muttered, even if it didn’t feel fine.

He hadn’t wanted Peter to hear any of that, to know just how damaged he was. Now he would know, and then he might tell Miles even. Harley didn’t think he could handle that, seeing the same pity in their eyes as the people in Rosehill. He could admit that he didn’t exactly hate Miles, but he sure didn’t like him. The fact that he was attracted to Miles made it all the more humiliating.

“I won’t tell anyone,” Peter suddenly said. Harley wondered what expression he’d seen on his face to say that. If he saw the panicked thoughts racing through his mind displayed on his features. “That’s... not something you tell people, not easily.” He fidgeted, gripping the end of his shirt in what he’d seen was a nervous gesture. “I’m sorry I overheard it, and stayed and listened in. It was wrong. And I know we just met like two days ago, but you can trust me. I promise I won’t tell anyone.”

“Not even Miles?” Harley blurted out, wanting to curse himself as Peter’s eyes snapped up to meet his in a startled expression. It wasn’t that he thought Miles would ridicule him for it or anything, and from the small amount of time he’d known Peter, he knew Peter would never do that.

However, this was a very personal matter that Peter had listened in on, and even if he hadn’t done it with malicious intentions, he had the right to be angry. Only, Harley wasn’t angry and he was confused at this, and the way Peter would touch him and Harley didn’t flinch or tense up. Mostly, he was upset that Peter had seen him at such a vulnerable moment, and he hated that he might think less of him, or see him differently. So, he couldn’t be faulted for being worried that he’d tell Miles.

Peter shook his head. “No, of course I won’t tell him.” He paused and bit his lip, adjusting his glasses in what Harley had already learned was another nervous gesture. “I don’t like keeping secrets from him, but this isn’t my secret to tell. So, I think it’s alright not to tell him. You can if you want, but I promise I won’t.”

He was rambling, which was a third nervous thing he did, and Harley wondered when he’d come to know the other so well. Harley certainly wasn’t making it easier on himself with his crush on the smaller teen, but he couldn’t help noticing things about him.

And standing there in the hallway, he was almost overcome with the need to kiss him. It would be so easy, since Peter was already angled with his back toward the wall, and they were alone in the hallway. But he wouldn’t do that to him, put him in that position and take advantage of his trust in him. And he trusted Harley, didn’t he? Harley just wished he didn’t and they he could just say fuck it, and kiss him. Except he wouldn’t because Miles he’d been right about one thing, and it was that Peter only saw him as a friend.

“Harley?” Peter asked, that guileless expression that he couldn’t believe was real, since when he had come out there had been a few that had pretended to care, but had merely been using him. That’s also one of the reasons he had left, besides the looks of pity he had been receiving. “Are you alright?”

The other cleared his throat and nodded. “Y-yeah, I... I’m alright.”

Peter eyed him a moment in the semi-darkness before he nodded. “Well... I s-should... get to bed,” he said, motioning behind himself. Harley could only nod and watch him walk away, but was curious as he turned to look at him with a confused expression. “Aren’t you coming with me?”

“Wh-what?” Harley choked, shocked by his question.

Peter’s confusion deepened. “Uh, we’re all sharing... remember?”

Harley was glad the hallway was dark as he flushed. “Y-yeah, of course,” he laughed in embarrassment as he stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Yeah,” he repeated needlessly. He moved toward the other as Peter opened the door that led to the bedroom they were sharing.

The room was dark except for a bit of moonlight coming through the window, but it was enough to see as Peter leaned down to peer at Miles in the bottom bunk, but he seemed to be asleep. Peter smiled and climbed up the latter to the top bunk. “Night,” he sighed softly.

“G’night,” Harley said back, watching as Peter pulled the blanket over him as he turned on his side to face the wall. He closed his eyes with a deep, silent inhale, and when he opened then he glanced to the bottom bunk but he couldn’t see the other too well. Harley shrugged, pulling his bag out from under his bed and opening it to dig around for some pajamas. He huffed a laugh when he heard a soft snore come from the top bunk, not believing how fast the other boy had fallen asleep. When he found his pajamas, he hesitated only a moment before yanking his long-sleeve shirt off.

Harley paused when he heard a sharp inhale, turning his head with a frown and stiffened when he saw Miles siting up in his bed. He couldn’t see his eyes but he knew what color they were because of having gotten in his face earlier today; they were a brown like caramel. Now, even if he couldn’t see his face too well, he felt those eyes on him, on his scarred arms.

Even if Harley had taken his shift off to get Peter to get in the lake, Miles had been at the end of the peer and hadn’t seem them too well, and Harley had made sure to always stay where the water reached his shoulders. He hadn’t wanted Miles to see him, just like he hadn’t wanted Peter to know how damaged he was, but this time he was angry. Maybe it had built with Peter having overheard of his abuse, but that didn’t matter.

“What are you looking at?” Harley hissed angrily at Miles, who didn’t have any scars on his perfect body. God, Harley hated him in that moment.

Miles didn’t say anything, but reached up and removed what Harley now saw were earphones. He could faintly hear the music he was listening to, but it didn’t sound like anything he recognized. “What happened to your arms?” he asked quietly, and he sounded so sincere that Harley wanted to hit him.

“What do you care?” he snapped a bit too loudly, regretting it when he heard Peter stir. They both froze and listened, and Harley sighed softly when he heard the other’s snore once more. “It’s none of your business,” he said more quietly.

Miles was quiet a moment before he saw him nod. “Fine,” he said, replacing his earphones and laying down on his back.

Harley was hyper aware of the other that the other was awake, so he dressed in his pajamas quickly. Then he got in bed, making sure to plug in his phone and then stared at the ceiling, his thoughts keeping him awake. He didn’t even realize when sleep finally dragged him under.

- - - -

Peter jumped off the last step and landed with a thud and looked to Harley’s bed as the other seemed to startle awake. His hands had lifted almost defensively but he seemed to realize where he was quickly and lowered them quickly, looking at Peter. As for Peter, he smiled at him but chose not to comment. “Morning.”

Harley yawned as he threw off the covers, sitting up as he slipped his feet into his sandals. “Morning,” he repeated. Peter grabbed his clothes and raced out of the room, calling dibs on the shower, and thus he saw that Miles was awake and sitting up in bed. Their eyes met, now they were able to see one another’s faces as sunlight spilled into the room.

Miles got up, grabbing his suitcase and started to try and sort through the mess. He needed to get better at packing, or at least, wake up on time so he wasn’t rushing his packing. “I wasn’t trying to be nosy, you know,” he told the other.

“Yeah? Then what were you being?” Harley demanded.

He stepped toward him and Harley tensed, thinking that they were finally going to result in hitting one another. Thus he was surprised when Miles grabbed his hand and lifted it to the side of his head, at his temple where Harley felt the raised skin. He realized it was a scar he was feeling. “What... what is that?” Harley couldn’t help ask, curious about the scar that was in the shape of a small circle.

“It’s from the barrel of a gun.”

The blonde flinched as he stepped away, pulling his hand out of Miles’s grip. “What?! H-how did you get that?” Harley stopped, realizing he was doing the same thing as Miles last night. He was shocked and had blurted out the question.

“Peter was kidnapped by a maniac,” he told him.

“I know,” he told him. He knew that Tony had been hurt when the men attacked the tower, but other than that he had no other details. Harley had been busy dealing with his own situation at the time to really investigate expect the occasional call to Pepper asking about Tony’s well-being.

Miles’s lips lifted in a smile but it was nothing like a smile, more like a warped parody of one. “I was there when he came to the tower,” he told him. He made his hand in the shape of the gun and pressed it to his own temple, where the scar was. He dropped his arm when he saw Harley’s horrified face. “I’m not saying I understand that,” he said as he motioned to one of his arms. “Just that we’ve both been through some stuff.”

Miles shrugged, grabbing some shorts and a t-shirt along with his towel. He left the room, and he could see him lean against the wall beside the bathroom. After two minutes, Peter left the bathroom and Miles pulled the younger boy into a kiss.

“Ew! You have morning breath,” he cried, shoving him away. He squealed when Miles yanked him back, managing to kiss him once more before Peter escaped his hold with a laugh. “Gross! Brush your teeth!”

Miles laughed as he went into the bathroom for his shower, but Harley didn’t miss as the older boy glanced at him. He’d turned away with a scoff, hating that they’d had a moment with Miles. Harley didn’t like Miles, being attracted to him, that he was dating Peter. Only, as they’d stood in the room, the other taking his hand so he could feel the scar on his temple, he’d felt his heart pound.

“Fuck,” he growled.

- - - -

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven

- - - -

“We're not in love
We share no stories
Just something in your eyes
Don't be afraid
The shadows know me
Let's leave the world behind

Take me through the night
Fall into the dark side
We don't need the light
We'll live on the dark side
I see it, let's feel it
While we're still young and fearless
Let go of the light
Fall into the dark side...”

~Darkside - Alan Walker, Au/Ra, Tomine Harket

- - - -

Miles was amused at the surprised squeak that left Peter’s lips when they came downstairs and spotted Thor sitting at the kitchen table. “Thor!” Peter exclaimed and hurried over to throw himself at the larger man.

“Peter!” the huge blonde man boomed, turning and found his arms filled with an excited teenager. “How are you, little one?” He lifted the small teen off his feet, laughing when Peter gave a surprised squeal.

Miles heard Harley coming up behind him, and turned to look at him. “What’s going on? Who is that?”

The dark-skinned teen turned back to see Peter and Thor facing away from them as the large man listened to the shorter male talk excitedly, head leaned down close to hear him better. “That is someone we’re no match for,” he told. “I’m pretty sure he was Peter’s Bi awakening.”

Miles left Harley’s side and went over, the large man turned as the dark-skinned teen greeted him, and loosened one arm to shake his hand, but kept holding Peter with his other massive arm. Harley was able to see him better, already having seen his massive shoulders, and would be lying if he said he wasn’t intimidated by the man’s good looks. Also, it was hard to not to pay attention to his bulging arms. If Harley wasn’t already gay, this man would definitely be his gay awakening.

Harley shook himself and moved over to them, lips lifting in a smile as Peter posed for a picture with him that was taken by Miles, the large man’s hand around Peter’s lower face as he stared seriously at the camera, while Peter grinned happily. His cap said ‘natural addiction’ and Harley couldn’t agree with it more, looking at those arms. Hell, Peter looked to be perfectly happy to stay right where he was with the man’s arm wrapped around his shoulders.

“Hey,” he said as the other looked at him, the man a few inches taller than him. It was a new experience to have to look up at someone. “Harley,” he introduced himself.

The large man reached out and took his hand, giving it a firm shake that rattled his whole arm. “Nice to meet you, Harley. I’m Thor.” Harley’s head tilted in confusion, since it was rather an unusual name. The other chuckled when he saw his expression. “It’s a nickname given to me by the boys. A fine nickname, wouldn’t you say?”

Harley nodded, for lack of anything better to do. “Sure, I guess,” he said.

May walked down then, greeting Thor and Peter scurried away in disgust as the man started to flirt with the woman, which Miles was sure they only did cause Peter’s reaction amused them. May and Rio started breakfast, Steve offering his help and the boys were sent to set the table; Harley had gotten the plates, and Peter snatching up the cups before Miles could, giggling as his boyfriend grumbled and started setting up the utensils.

After breakfast, Miles suggested a walk and the shorter boy invited Harley along, who accepted even as Miles gave an unhappy scoff, but said nothing. All three of them dressed in shorts and tennis shoes, Harley being the only one with a long sleeved shirt, but neither of the other two boys said anything about it. He realized that they knew already and half-way through their walk, he snatched off his long-sleeve as it got hot and tied it around his waist.

Peter gave him an easy smile and then turned his attention to a lizard that slithered off quickly at sensing his presence. Miles just aimed a single nod at Harley and hurried to catch up with Peter who had followed the lizard, which went up a tree and Peter was left staring up at it. “Come on, Pete, leave the lizard alone,” his boyfriend told him, taking his hand and pulling him away.

“I wasn’t gonna hurt it. It just had some interesting coloring and I wanted to see what kind it was.” Even so, he allowed Miles to pull him away as they continued down the path. They walked longer than yesterday afternoon, but they knew they just needed to turn back around and they’d make it back to the house.

That was the plan until a few twigs snapped, making all three freeze and look into the tree line to see what was within the woods. Both of them subconsciously moved in front of Peter, who was too busy looking toward the sound of the noise to huff at their actions. However, when a light beige dog bounced out of the woods, he gave a delighted shout and pushed past the taller teens, ignoring their words of caution.

“He won’t hurt me,” Peter said, crouching down and holding out a hand. The dog sniffed at his hand cautiously and then licked it, making Peter giggle before starting to get closer. “He’s a puppy,” he cooed as he started to scratch the dog along his flank and behind his ears. As he did, he spied a collar on him and read the name on it. “Mysterio? That’s a nice name. Who’s a good boy? You are! Yes, you are, Mysterio!”

Peter jumped up and grabbed a stick, waving it around as Mysterio yipped happily and wagged his tail. “Can you play fetch? Yes, of course you can! Cause you’re such a smart dog!” He tossed the stick and clapped as the dog, most of his paws covered in mud, ran after the thrown stick. When he came running back with the stick in it’s jaws, Peter squatted down and gave him more praise and caresses.

Miles crouched down beside him, giving the dog a hesitant pat when he licked his hand, but it was obvious he was just trying to get at the collar. “Let me see if there’s a number or address on here,” he muttered. Miles wasn’t that much of a dog person, preferring cats, but then again, he wasn’t allowed pet’s in his parent’s apartment or the dorms at school. “There’s a phone number on the back of his tag.”

Harley stepped forward as he whipped his phone out, luckily Tony hadn’t managed to get ahold of it just yet. It might be a shitty phone and the screen was cracked, but he was use to this piece of shit phone. “What’s the number? I’ll go ahead and call it.”

The smallest teenager pouted at them. “Aww, do we have to? Can’t we just play with him for a bit longer?” Peter asked, brown eyes wide and earnest behind his glasses. Both the other teenage boys would be screwed over if the dog hadn’t taken that moment to lick his face, making Peter shriek in shock. Then he was bowled over as the dog started to lick him in earnest, making Peter let out great big peals of laughter as he rolled around with the dog, seemingly uncaring that he was getting his clothes dirty.

Harley took that moment to clear his throat and ask Miles for the number, who gave it to him while Peter was distracted. “Hello, I’m calling about a missing dog.” His eyebrows rose as he nodded. “Oh? Yeah, we’re at that same lake right now. Did’ya wanna maybe come to our place to get him?” He frowned and looked around. “No, I don’t exactly know where we are right now. Just on a path through the woods is all I can tell ya.”

He nudged Miles with his leg and the dark skinned teenager stood and looked at him curiously. “Hey, turn on the GPS on your phone.” The other’s eyebrows lifted in surprise but he did it anyways. He showed Harley when he got their coordinates. “We’re at these coordinates,” he said, reciting the numbers. He listened a moment and then nodded. “Alright, see you soon.” He saw Miles giving him a questioning look. “He’s on the trail looking for his dog, and says he’s not that far away right now.”

The two taller adolescents watched as Peter played fetch and ran this way and that, having to stop after while when he got short of breath. He just took a hit of his inhaler as Mysterio whined at him, and then he was back to running with the dog again. It was maybe ten or twenty minutes later that they heard someone coming from the direction they’d been heading in, a man with hiking boots, shorts and a light pack pack hanging from his shoulders.

“Hello!” he called as he waved his hand, then put that same hand to his mouth as he gave a shrill whistle. Mysterio immediately perked up before he started to run toward the man, who held out a hand and the dog stopped immediately. “Sit!” The dog obeyed as the man smirked past a scruffy face. “Good boy.” He tossed him something which the dog snatched out of the air and ate. Now he turned to walk toward them, snapping his fingers as the dog obediently trotted at his side.

The man was fairly attractive, in a rough kind of way due to his beard, and his clothes and boots were worn from heavy use. “Hey,” he greeted. “I can’t thank you enough for finding Mysterio. Thought I lost him when he went bounding after a squirrel.” He held out his hand, and it was Harley that stepped up first and took it. “Are you the one I spoke to on the phone?”

“Yeah, nice to meet ya. I’m Harley.” He shook his hand before the man moved to shake Miles’s and Peter’s hands in the same manner.

“I’m Miles.”

“Peter! Nice to meet you! I really like your dog!”

He chuckled and nodded. “I’m Jake,” he told them, boyish smile on his face. “Let me repay you for finding Mysterio.”

Peter shook his head. “No, we can’t take your money!” he said, holding his hands out. “We were just playing with him...” he paused and looked at the other two, giving a sheepish smile. “Well, I was playing with him.” He crouched down and called the dog who didn’t move until Jake flicked his hand, and the dog ran to Peter’s side to be pet. “He was such a good boy, weren’t you? Yes, you were!”

The man was smiling but there was something uneasy in the pit of Harley’s stomach as he observed the man as he watched Peter cuddling with the dog. Miles didn’t seem too bothered as he chatted with the man, commenting about their plans to kayak early tomorrow morning.

“Well,” Jake suddenly said as he clapped his hands, making all three teens jump, the dog immediately going to his side. “It’s been... eventful, but I have to get going. My summer house is a few miles down this path, so come by if there’s anything you need. It’s the least I can do after you found my dog.”

All three of them waved the man and dog off, and then they decided to turn back to the lake house. They hadn’t realized they’d been gone long enough that it was nearing lunch time. The boys hurried inside to wash up (Peter having time change his muddy clothes), and as soon as he was finished, Peter went to help his aunt. Honestly, his aunt tried, but he was thankful for Rio and Steve, since May was the worst cook.

May seemed to know what he was doing as she gave him a look when he jumped in to turn the burgers before they burned, and then quickly adjusted the temperature where the buns were toasting on a griddle. “Alright, mister, get out from underfoot and set the table.” She shooed him out of the kitchen as Peter groaned, but then Steve caught his eye and winked. So, he left with the assurance that the man would make sure May didn’t burn the food completely.

When they sat down, it was to only slightly singed burgers and perfectly golden crinkle cut french fries. Most of them weren’t very religious, but after they all sat down, they had no problem with Rio doing the sign of the cross and said a prayer of thanks. When she was finished, they started to pass around the food as they chatted to one another.

Harley found it surreal as he was enveloped easily into the conversation with people he hardly knew. Peter seemed to bring him into it when he started to withdraw, and he appreciated it. However, he saw Miles’s shoulders tense whenever he smiled or laughed at something Harley said.

He wondered what his deal was, since he’d seen him do this with that others. Sure, Harley was attracted to Peter, but he also wanted to get to know the other, and starting off by being his friend. He wanted to be friends with him, since he saw how close he and Miles were and didn’t see him being able to get between them. So, if being his friend was all he could be, then that’s how things would be.

Peter and Miles, helped by Harley who cleaned up the table and took them the dishes, rinsed them off before loading them into the dishwasher. Afterwards, the others made plans for tomorrow morning, and Thor would take them kayaking down the Oswegatchie River from Lost Village, which was about a twenty minute drive. From there they’d kayak back down to Black Lake.

After they’d decided, the rest of them headed toward the lake to take a dip.

“Hey, Tony. What if we have a cook out tomorrow after the others come back from their kayaking trip,” May called out. It had been a long time since they’d had some BBQ and having one with the people that had become like a part of their little family seemed like a great idea.

Tony had been in the process of getting away from Thor that was trying to insist he get in the lake. Now he ducked under the big man’s grab and jogged over toward May, plopping into the lawn chair that Rio had been occupying before Miles had come to drag her to the lake.

“A cookout? You mean... outside cooking?” Tony asked with a bit of a nose wrinkle, but she’d come to know him well to know that instead of distaste, it was confusion. He didn’t know or had never had anything to do with a cook out. Only, he had a grill.

“You have a grill!” May exclaimed.

Tony just shrugged. “It’s never been used. I’ve never gone to a cookout before. Galas and Banquets are usually catered, and barbecue was never on the menu.”

Jefferson, who enjoyed a good cookout and who Miles said deemed himself a ‘grill master’ threw an arm over Tony’s shoulder. “You have a lot to learn, Stark,” he told him with a grin. It was something he’d never thought he’d tell someone as Tony Stark, who was generally known to be a genius. “I guess an old dog can learn knew things.”

Tony smirked at the friendly jab, knowing it wasn’t an insult. He didn’t take offense, and also, he generally liked Jefferson, so he took the man’s actions in stride.

 

The next morning it was a quick breakfast, so early that the boys were literal zombies as they ate. Peter leaned against Miles as he ate with his eyes closed, his glasses nowhere to be seen. He’d likely forgotten to put them on. Miles wasn’t fairing much better, and it was only a good thing they were sitting the island table, so instead of toppling, he was supported by the wall right next to him.

The adults (May, Rio, Tony, Jefferson and Happy) were the first to finish and went to go buy the supplies for the cookout that night. Tony had stocked the house with everything except for an outdoor cookout.

Peter had made grabby hands at his aunt where he he turned on the stool and she’d chuckled and went to hug him goodbye. Tony had ruffled his hair and given him a quick hug before they set off.

“Alright, time to go!” Thor said, enthusiastically a moment later as he hopped up. Thor had gone kayaking several times, so he was pretty confident about being able to get them all through the almost tranquil river. All of them would hike up there, and deliver the kayaks at the end of the river where it became the lake. From there, they’d drive back to the lake house.

Miles and Peter hurried upstairs, Harley following them a bit slower, and the rest of their party also went to get ready. They all decided to wear some jeans, since the sun would likely burn the skin of their legs. It was an unspoken agreement that they should wear hats as well, even if Miles had to lend one to Harley and Peter.

“I usually wear a cowboy hat, but I didn’t bring it for the trip,” Harley had told him, grimace in place as he pulled the Yankees baseball cap over his unruly dirty blonde hair.

Peter has shrugged and taken the offered cap, not commenting why Miles had even brought this many. “You know I don’t like wearing hats, babe,” he said, hiding his messy curls underneath the black baseball cap with UA logo for Under Armor on it.

Miles yanked his own cap on. “Just don’t go and lose my caps,” he said. His cap was black with a red bull on the front. Whenever he usually wore them on their dates or whatnot, he had it turned backwards, but today it was frontwards so as to shield his face from the blaring sun as much as possible. While they had sunblock on, it didn’t hurt to have more than one type of protection.

“Boys, be careful,” Wanda laughed as they clamored onto the Vision’s SVU, all three of them seeming like children. They’d attached the SUV to the back of the bus and Happy had refused to ride the bus and had driven to the lake house in his usual vehicle later on in the day. That’s the car he had taken the other adults in earlier. So, they they had a vehicle to go on their mini kayaking trip and were excited (Peter a bit nervous but mostly excited) to go, since neither of them had ever done it and were looking forward to trying it.

“Sorry!” Peter called out, sandwiched between Miles and Harley in the back. The Sakovian born woman shook her head and closed the door, getting in the passenger side seat as Vision would be driving. Thor, Steve, Bucky and Sam would be taking on Thor’s own SVU, who believe it or not, he called Mjölnir. Because as he’d stated, ‘I’m Thor so it’s only fair that my truck is called Mjölnir.’ The others had had a good laugh, until they’d realized that Thor was completely serious.

It’d been even funnier then.

After a half an hour hike along the river, they arrived at the ramshackle building that was the renting place for the kayaks. Thor hadn’t been to this particular place or gone kayaking in this particular river, but he assured them that it would be tame compared to the other places he’d been before. It had been decided that the teens would be paired with an adult, since most of them were good swimmers even if they were SWAT and not coast guard search and rescue. Fury always insisted they always include swimming to their training regimen. Now it’d come in handy, even if they didn’t expect anything to happen on such a tame river.

Peter and the other boys went to inspect the kayaks, and took a liking to a blue and red one. Miles had shaken his head and motioned to a black and red one, and his boyfriend had stuck his tongue out at him. Harley had just decided to let the adult he was eventually paired with pick the kayak. He hoped he got paired with Thor, mostly because he was hot, but also because it was better than having Peter paired with Thor.

He knew there was no possible way for the large man to be interested in a fifteen year old Peter, but the other looked at Thor with such adoration that it bothered Harley. Harley was surprised it didn’t bother Miles as much, but he was likely use to it. Well, he wasn’t and preferred to be pair off with Thor, and the fact that he was good looking was just an added bonus for Harley.

As the adults moved toward them, Miles and Peter were taking a selfie together. After that Peter took one of himself, and Miles shoved his head down playfully a second later.

“Hey!” Peter grumbled, having to pull up baseball cap that had gotten more smooshed onto his head. Miles smirked and before Peter could retaliate, the adults reached them.

“Alright punks,” Bucky said to them. “Miles you’re with Steve, Harley with Sam, and Peter with me.”

Thor frowned and crossed his muscular arms over his massive chest. “Why do you decide who goes with who, Barnes?”

Bucky smirked at him, knowing he wanted to go with Peter since they’d all developed a bit of a protective streak for the kid after last years events. Especially, since none of them had been able to be there to help them, and which had ended with Tony and Friday in critical condition, and their two youngest members traumatized.

It had been easy for them to adopt Miles into their fold after learning he and Peter were dating. He was easy to love and the guys always enjoyed teasing the teenagers over their relationship. He’d helped Peter where neither of them could, since after a while it had been hard for any of them to approach Peter without the fifteen year old reacting badly.

The fact that he’d finally allowed them to get close, and even for someone as massive as Thor to hug him, showed that the child psychologist Tony had hired knew what she was doing. So, now that he had allowed them closer, they’d grown a bit overprotective; of Peter and Miles both. Now with the third teenager about to join their group, it would likely be the same thing.

They were really just a bunch of overprotective uncles and aunts.

“Well, I think I should go with Peter,” Wanda spoke up, smirk on her face to show she was fucking with them. Vision and Wanda had already decided to go together, since they tended to stick together because they were dating.

“Or with me,” Vision said, a slight smile on their face. They were a bit closed off as if they didn’t understand regular emotions, but that didn’t mean they didn’t like to tease the others. It made for a good show watching the others get worked up.

Peter, Miles and Harley looked at one another and then the arguing adults, shrugged and walked forward. Harley grabbed Bucky’s arm, Peter went to Sam and Miles attached himself to Steve.

“Let’s go!” Peter said, dragging the taller man toward the blue and red kayak.

Sam rolled his eyes. “Keep your hair on, you twerp,” he said, flicking his ear as Peter scowled and clamped a hand over it. Sam grinned back at him and pushed the kayak slightly into the water, waiting for the teenager to get in after putting on his life jacket and then Sam got in, and one of the workers pushing it completely in.

Pretty soon they were all in kayaks and in the water, and they moved steadily down the river. It was calm that day, so the adults were able to control the kayaks pretty well. Peter was shorter and smaller than Sam, so it was easy to duck down in the front as the black man used the touring paddle to maneuver them after Thor’s kayak. He was leading them, so it was a good thing he was in a single person kayak.

“There’s a bend coming up! Be careful!” Thor shouted back to them. “The current is starting to pick up!”

Peter titled his head back to look at Sam as he used the paddle. “It’s going to be okay, squirt,” he reassured Peter, “but hold on tight just in case.” The teen nodded and did as he was told, hanging on tightly as the kayak started to get tossed around a bit and the current was enough that he was splashed with river water.

“Ah!” Peter cried out, since it was colder than he would have thought being the middle of summer. Then again, they were very near the Canadian border, so the water would be cooler than usual. “Sam! The boulder!”

Sam cursed and Peter turned in time to see the paddle snap in half, his mouth dropping open in horror.

“Peter!” Sam cried out as he reached for him moments before they hit the large boulder. Peter screamed as the kayak tipped over, the water immediately filling his mouth. Sam’s hands scrambled to grab him, but the current had picked up and ripped him away from the man’s hold.

The water was cold and he kicked his legs to try and get to the surface, finally managing to break the surface as he gasped in a desperate lungful of air. Then something slammed into the side of his head and his vision went black, not hearing the other’s screaming his name.

Peter only knew the cold river dragging him down into its dark, treacherous depths.-