Harry didn't have a crush on Spider-Man.
It was stupid to think that he did.
The guy was loud and obnoxious, and he was overbearing, and annoying, and weird, and his jokes were terrible. The media ran his name through the mud every single day, with countless pictures and video footage to match – and as Norman would say, 'An Osborn only shared tables with the best.'
He just happened to look really good in spandex.
But good legs or not, Harry didn't have a crush on him. This was Spider-Man he was talking about, the guy who had a hand in turning his dad into a freakish goblin-monster and helped lock him away in an air-locked vault to rot. And even if Harry did have a soft spot for the hero, which he didn't, then it'd be completely inappropriate given the circumstances.
He didn't like Spider-Man. These days he could barely tolerate seeing him on TV without wanting to throw the remote at the screen. He settled on switching the channel but he felt bitter doing it every time.
Once upon a time he appreciated Spider-Man, and seeing the hero swinging through the city was a fun surprise rather than a blight on Harry's day. One time, he even wanted to spread a rumor at Midtown High that he was Spider-Man, despite the objections Peter had, because what in the world was better than being a hero? Now though, the mention of that little creep made Harry lose his appetite.
He was angry. Furious. Maybe even a little hurt. For a while he trusted Spider-Man to keep him and his dad safe, because no matter what was happening at Oscorp, Spider-Man was always there to save the day. But after finding out that the bug was directly related to the serum that turned his dad into that THING it was hard not to see him in a new light.
It was a long time coming. In hindsight, Harry should've known that Spider-Man was an unlucky omen, not a good luck charm. Every time Spider-Man showed up, something blew up in Harry's face. Venom was related to Spider-Man too, or so Harry assumed. He remembered the symbiote's strange pull to the hero, whether it was an angry jerk or a yearning tug, it was always there when he happened to be in proximity to him.
He spent a lot of time with Venom, so maybe it rubbed off on him a little because as he looked over the edge of the balcony, head in his arms, he felt a strange tug in his chest when the giant jumbotron a distance away flashed red and blue. He didn't need to be any closer to know who they were showing, it was the Bugle, it was always Spider-Man this and Spider-Man that. Harry thought he'd enjoy listening to someone else rage about Spider-Man, in tangent to his own feelings, but he got through 5 minutes of the broadcast before Jameson's voice started getting on his nerves.
Which is what he was doing 10 minutes before he came out to the balcony to clear his head. He found himself sitting out here more and more each night. The night air was cool and didn't smell like car exhaust or garbage, and he could feel like a part of the city without actually doing anything. It was better than laying in his bed and staring at the ceiling at least.
He wondered what his dad was doing right now. It was Saturday tonight, so if he wasn't working late at the office, he would be at home, probably asking about Harry's report card and whether or not he was going to turn his B in English to an A. It used to grate on Harry's nerves, but with his dad locked away in SHIELD, he missed having someone else in the penthouse. It was too big. Too empty. Just Harry and the maids who cleaned up every day after he went to school.
Was his dad comfortable? Or was he shackled? Was he locked away in a cold, dark cell? Were they even trying to treat his condition? Harry's fingers dug into the railing, turning his knuckles and the tips of his fingers white.
And what was Spider-Man doing? Swinging around the city without a care in the world and slumming it in the SHIELD Helicarrier. Was he trying to help Harry's dad? He promised he would.
"It's kind of cold out here. You okay?"
Harry huffed into his arms. Speak of the devil and he shall appear.
He turned his head to the side where a figure had stuck themself to the smooth glass surface of the building. Spider-Man sat comfortably with only his feet keeping him from succumbing to gravity, his hands were folded in his lap.
How long was he there?
"What's it to you?" Harry said, putting his head back in his arms.
"I just...don't want you to get cold."
"And I don't know why you care."
"Well I -" through the corner of his eye, Spider-Man dragged a hand across his neck, "I just came by to check on you. How are you doing?"
Harry grunted unintelligibly in response.
"Ah, yes," he snorted, "I've been feeling that way myself."
The joke landed flat and only made the ensuing silence more awkward.
Spider-Man coughed into his fist to break the silence, but it was tense, "Well...I'm here for you if you need anything. Just let me know."
Harry snorted harshly this time, ducking his head completely into his arms, before shoving himself back to his feet. "You're here for me?" He repeated, waltzing toward Spider-Man with a bit of a hysteric swing in his arms, "That's good. That's great. But what about my dad? Huh? Were you there for him?"
At least Spider-Man had the decency to look guilty. That's how it looked to Harry, anyway, when he ducked his head and his shoulders fell, as if Harry had dropped something incredibly heavy on his back.
"How is he doing by the way?" Harry barreled on, not giving Spider-Man a chance to make up a half-assed excuse. "You said you were going to help him, so is his condition getting better? Have you guys made any progress?"
"Well…," Spider-Man struggled to come up with the words, fumbling like Harry kept catching him off guard. He probably came up here to fill in whatever sad, guilty hole he felt uncomfortable having, thinking he could just stop by, ask Harry how he felt, and call it a day. He fulfilled his daily samaritan duty and could check it off his list. "No," he finally admitted, "His condition hasn't changed."
Harry expected as much, but he still scowled and jerked away from Spider-Man, storming in the opposite direction if just to get some distance between them, "Yeah, well, why am I not surprised? Are you guys even doing anything to help him? Are you even trying?"
"Yes," Spider-Man jumped on the railing, hands out and insistent, "We - I...I'm trying Harry. I really am. I just-" it dropped helplessly and he fell into a defeated crouch, balancing on the thin railing with the tips of his toes. His shoulders dropped farther and his head bowed, looking away because he couldn't meet Harry's eyes, "It's just complicated up there."
"Yeah," Harry sneered, "a lot of things are complicated, I guess." He gave the darkening sky a final look and shoved his hands into his pockets, heading for the door. "Come back when you have actual news about him."
He heard Spider-Man sigh and through the reflective glass of the sliding door, he saw him jump into open air, fling out a wrist, and swing away. He told himself not to, practically ordered it, but still looked over his shoulder as the guy swung off, feeling that irritating pull in his chest as if someone had tied one end of a rope to Spider-Man and the other end to Harry's ribcage.
But he shoved it down.
Whether he got it from the symbiote or not, it wasn't even accurate. Maybe it was a thing that happened whenever he was near someone he spent a lot of time with. It used to do the same thing around Peter, so it didn't mean anything.
He slammed the door shut behind him.
The next time Harry sees Spider-Man, he's being pulled into an alleyway and shoved up against a wall. It's not by anyone attractive, unfortunately, just a really smelly guy with bad breath and a pocket knife, demanding that Harry give him his wallet.
Harry blinked a few times, blindly doing as he was told in the frantic rush of the moment, and he was fumbling through his pockets as he realized he was being mugged.
Because he wasn't already having a shitty day.
But the guy was about to have a worse one as something long and white snagged his back and yanked him off, just as he was going for Harry's fancy leather wallet. The pocket knife clattered to Harry's feet and he stared at the spot the man was at before looking up to where he was now dangling on a web.
Spider-Man was perched on the web too, finishing off his final touches with sticking the squirming, cocooned body where it could be picked up by the cops, before perching himself on the very edge of the web and cocking his head to the side.
Harry shrugged, stuffing his hands and his wallet back in his pockets, "Fine, I guess."
"You're not hurt, are you?"
"No. Guy only had a pocket knife," he looked down at said knife, toeing it with his shoe, "A very cheap one at that."
"You know, some might argue that a cheap knife is a lot more dangerous than a sharp one."
"Yeah, well, thanks I guess," Harry made to walk back on the street, as if he didn't have a care in the world, when actually his heart was pounding in his chest. He'd been scared when the man shoved him into the wall, and the sight of the knife had made his blood-run cold; Ii his hands weren't in his pockets, Spider-Man might've even seen them shaking.
But, like everything else, he shoved it down, twisting a hard-to-open cap on top so it wouldn't leak and pushed it to the very back. He didn't want to feel like this and he didn't want Spider-Man to see him shake like a scaredy-cat.
Spider-Man hopped onto the wall closest to Harry and crawled along in tangent to his steps. Creepy.
"I can walk you home if you want."
Yes please, Harry thought at the same time his mouth said, "No thank you. Besides, I'm not going home, I'm going to school, which," he looked at his watch, "I'm probably going to be late for now." He didn't normally walk to school, but it felt like a good day and he wanted to clear his head.
Spider-Man's mask lenses widened, "Oh, ha-ha, right. Right school. That's a thing that exists. Haha yeah, that's fine, I just realized I'm late for a...thing myself. So, uh…bye."
He jumped onto the other wall, then flipped through the fire escape bars like a parkourist on steroids and disappeared onto the roof far above. Harry watched him go and shook his head.
What a weirdo.
A weirdo in tight spandex.
Harry stopped, shook his head hard, and merged back into the crowds.
The penthouse is too quiet.
It's always been quiet before, but with the knowledge that his dad wouldn't be coming home it made the silence feel deeper. More permanent.
He tried filling it with high definition sounds of gunfire as he played his newest game, but without Peter there to make fun of the lame storyline, it wasn't as entertaining and he got bored quickly.
Tossing the controller on the couch with a huff, Harry picked up his phone. No new messages. No new calls. He typed in his password and flipped through the messages he and Peter last exchanged.
Harry inviting Peter over for video games and junk food.
Peter claiming, he had something else planned and couldn't make it. Probably with those new friends of his.
Something bitter and angry bubbled in Harry's chest and he tossed the phone next to the controller. That was the 5th time Peter's blown him off for those new kids.
The new kids that he didn't even like.
Harry crossed his arms with a scowl.
No, the new kids that he used to not like. Peter was smiling and joking with them a lot more now, laughing over inside jokes that Harry didn't get, and making plans to meet up after school, and going to that stupid sandwich club they weren't letting him join, and...
Harry clenched his jaw, hands tightening like vice clamps on his arms. The ugly feeling in his chest got worse and instead of punching the TV he got off the couch and walked aimlessly through the penthouse.
Okay, so maybe he was feeling a little...left out. A little abandoned, and could you blame him? What did those new kids have that he didn't? Harry could have anything he wanted at the snap of his fingers, could they do that? Although, he supposed that never really impressed Peter. That was one of the reasons why they became such close friends in the first place. Peter never hung with him because of his wealth and was frustratingly stubborn about accepting gifts of any kind that were remotely expensive.
Still, why did Peter like them so much?
They were pushy and dragged him everywhere, even if he didn't want to go. They didn't seem to like him at first either, so why did they keep hanging out?
Maybe they were forcing Peter into things he didn't want to do. A lot of people liked to pick on Peter, and Harry wasn't going to let them hurt his friend too.
Even if that friend ditched him for them.
Something sharp pierced Harry's chest at the thought. Was he being replaced? Did Peter even want to hang out with him anymore? Was he...bored of Harry?
No, Peter wasn't like that. They were still friends. And friends were allowed to have other friends. It's fine. It's okay.
Peter was still his best friend.
And he liked to think that he was still Peter's best friend too.
Frowning, Harry found himself stepping out into the balcony, craving it's cleaner air. Heights have never been a favorite of his, but he leaned against the railing anyway, aching over the stretch of loneliness that yawned wide in his chest.
He didn't want to think of his dad's condition as a way to get more attention, but he thought Peter would've been around more. Making sure he was okay. Making sure he wasn't alone.
Nope, the most company Harry has these days was with Spider-Man. The last person he wanted to see. Which didn't make sense when he realized he was searching the buildings for signs of said hero. A streak of red and blue. A web strand floating in the wind, glinting in the sunlight where it was tethered to a building ledge. It was oddly empty tonight.
Or so he thought.
Just when he was about to give up the search, he heard a faint twhip and a body came careening around the side of a building, sailing through the air on silly string. A very familiar someone.
Spider-Man spotted Harry instantly and gave him a hearty wave mid-air.
Harry's heart spiked suddenly, thumping so hard against his ribcage it made him jolt and he backed up in surprise. Face flushing, he didn't bother waving back and retreated into the penthouse, overcome with a strange fluttering in his belly.
Through the glass, he saw Spider-Man stick himself to the building across from Harry, head cocking as if confused. He seemed hesitant.
Harry's heart thumped harder at the thought of him swinging onto the balcony, knocking on the glass, and asking him how he was doing again. Would Harry open the door? Would he let Spider-Man inside the penthouse or step out with him? He glanced around the room, there were discarded chip bags and empty cans all over the living room. He swept them up in his arms quickly and dumped them into the nearest garbage can, and then ran back to the living room to adjust the lamp and straighten the couch cushions. When he was satisfied with his job, he returned to the glass, but to his disappointment, Spider-Man was already gone.
He leaned his head as far as he could against the sliding door, trying to catch a glimpse of him, before realizing what he was doing and pushing himself off the glass. What was he doing? He shouldn't be upset about this, he didn't want Spider-Man's company to begin with.
He must truly be desperate for social interaction if he was going to Spider-Man, of all people, for it. How pathetic could he be?
Feeling stupid, Harry plopped back on the couch, trying to convince himself that he wasn't feeling sad, he was just sick from all the soda he drank. That's all it was.
A ping from his phone got his attention. It was a new message.
Pete: sry about ditching
Pete: how r u doing?
Pete: r u ok?
Harry smiled, the ache alleviating.
Who needed Spider-Man when he had Peter Parker?
Harry was having a nightmare the next time he saw Spider-Man.
It was a terrifying, vivid dream involving an inky creature with dull white eyes and too many teeth. And of his dad. The nightmare was fast and confusing, Harry was cold and in pain, and everything was hurting. Heavy weight sat on his chest. He was alone and abandoned with nothing but the sound of Goblins insane laughter ringing in his head. Something had his wrists and he was struggling. Kicking and fighting and begging, but unable to get a grasp of where he was at.
"Hey, hey," a voice was saying, far away but soft, "Easy Har, it's me. It's just me. You're okay. You're safe."
Harry slowly stopped fighting and blinked through the darkness at the pair of white lenses staring down at him. His heart spiked, thinking for a moment that it was Venom, before he sucked in a breath.
"That's me," said hero chirped, "Are you okay?"
Harry blinked again, "I - I'm not..." He stopped, blinked again, harder. "Did you call me Har?"
Spider-Man leaned back a little, sitting straighter on his haunches. "Uh…maybe?"
Harry's brain was groggy and still riding the waves of panic, but he scowled. "Only my friends call me Har. You're not my friend."
"Oh, um, sorry then. Are you okay?"
"I-" remnants of his dream flashed across his eyes, and he exhaled, yanking his arm away from Spider-Man, "I'm fine. Where am I?"
He looked around the balcony. Must've fallen asleep. He shivered violently as a gush of cold wind washed over him and Spider-Man put a warm, steadying hand on his arm.
"Come on, let's get you inside. You fell asleep out here, which probably isn't good for your health if you catch a cold."
Harry nodded numbly and begrudgingly allowed Spider-Man to lead him back inside. For such a cold night, and such thin spandex, Spider-Man was very warm and Harry found himself leaning into his body. Spider-Man accommodated easily and accepted Harry in his space, swinging an arm around him to keep him up, and Harry pretended he didn't notice or care.
He directed Spider-Man to his room and welcomed his blankets with open arms as he collapsed on the bed - not even bothering to get into pajamas. Spider-Man drew the curtains closed and made sure all the lights were off before he headed to the door.
Harry watched him lazily, before jolting awake when he realized he was leaving. Without the red and blue of his costume brightening the room the shadows looked so much darker. So much more menacing.
"W-wait-" Harry said, sitting up. Spider-Man looked back at him.
"Can you…" he swallowed, face flushing with embarrassment, but the idea of being alone... "Can you stay with me?"
"Stay with you?"
"Just until I fall asleep. Please. It's just...it's too dark in here..."
Spider-Man was silent for a second, looking Harry over carefully as if trying to uncover some hidden secret hiding in his sweater, before grabbing the chair next to the window and placing it by the bed. He sat in it, getting comfortable.
"Sure thing, Harry. Go to sleep. I'll be here."
Harry relaxed instantly and he sank back into the blankets, "Thank you."
As he sank into sleep, his eyes drifted back to Spider-Man, who sat silently, as quiet as Harry has ever heard him. There was something strong in his silence. Not menacing or scary like the boogeyman, but warm and reassuring, like a guard dog or a sturdy padlock. It soothed him.
"S'okay if you call me Har," he decided, eyes half-closed. "I guess I don't mind."
Spider-Man chuckled softly and it made Harry feel very warm and tingly indeed.
"Thanks. Good night, Har. You'll be safe tonight."
Harry hummed, believing every word.
Harry avoided everything Spider-Man related for the next week, too humiliated over the whole debacle to even look at anything remotely red or blue. He'd ASKED Spider-Man to stay with him until he fell asleep. And Spider-Man DID.
Just thinking about it made Harry flush red from the tips of his ears to the bottom of his neck. He avoided the balcony like the plague and took the limo straight to school so there was no reason to draw Spider-Man's attention. He kept the TV off because Spider-Man was always a media favorite, whether it's ripping him apart or debating his motivation and identity.
He didn't want to see him right now. He was sure he'd combust from pure embarrassment.
He had a feeling Spider-Man knew it too.
Harry's seen him swing several times by the building and had hid in the kitchen every time until it was safe to come back out. It's not that he was mad at Spider-Man. He just didn't want to talk about what happened ever again. Never ever EVER again if he could help it.
And so far, it was working.
He managed to avoid Spider-Man with remarkable success, and yes Harry felt guilty, but it had to be done.
It was just after a week when Harry noticed a little gift left for him on the balcony. Eyebrows knitting together, he walked out, looking left and right to make sure the coast was clear, before kneeling next to the little package.
It was a small Spider-Man plush doll, one of the cheap ones you could get from any vendor who sold New York trinkets to tourists. There was a little note next to it, addressed to Harry.
Hi. I know you probably don't want to talk to me right now, but here's a little Spidey to keep you company. I hope you're sleeping better.
Courtesy of your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
It was signed with a little Spider-Man doodle.
Harry looked back over the balcony and then to the empty spaces between buildings, but there was no sign of the webslinger. Looking at the doll, something warm bloomed in his chest and he picked it up with tender fingers.
He put it on his nightstand that night.
He didn't have any nightmares.
Maybe Harry has a small crush on Spider-Man.
A very small one. Like a barely-there crush.
He couldn't deny the way his heart fluttered whenever Spider-Man appeared on screen, or the way it spiked when he saw him swinging through New York, or the way he started lingering on the balcony, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Maybe he even wanted to talk to him again.
He still checked on Harry and gave him reports about his dad, even if there's still that small, bitter resentment Harry feels that that connects Spider-Man to his dad's Goblin situation, but it's slowly getting overrun with butterflies that take flight in his stomach whenever the hero perches on the railing and asks Harry how his day went.
Not to mention, he looked really really good in that spandex.
Oh, who was Harry kidding? He was screwed.
"I have good news!" Spider-Man announced one night, landing on the railing with stupid, graceful ease.
Harry tried not to get distracted by the way his leg muscles bunched and rolled as he stood up on the railing, walking along its slim ledge with his hands on his hips, perfectly balanced.
"What's that?" Harry asked instead of drooling on his new, very expensive sweater.
Spider-Man hopped off the railing and onto the balcony, rolling on the balls of his feet with child-like giddiness.
"We made some progress on your dads' condition! Dr. Connors thinks he has a way to reverse the process!"
Harry stared at him for a long time, rolling those words through his head. They take a minute to click.
"You mean...you mean you guys can cure him?"
"Well, maybe. It's not 100% right now, but yeah, there's a chance we can cure him."
Harry can't contain himself. He sprang forward and engulfed Spider-Man in a hug that's so sudden it almost toppled them both and Spider-Man had to steady them with a surprised squeak. He chuckled at Harry's enthusiasm.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you" Harry said, squeezing harder.
Spider-Man's arms wrap around him and his embrace is as warm as Harry imagined it'd be, "You're welcome."
It's the first time Harry notices how short Spider-Man is. He's taller than the hero by a good few inches, at least, and for some reason he finds that funny and laughs.
He felt Spider-Man tilt his head to the side, questioning.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing," Harry said, grinning into that spandex-clad shoulder, "Nothing."
He hugs Spider-Man's muscled, lithe frame a little tighter, and enjoys the warmth.
Spider-Man comes around a lot more and Harry finds himself not feeling so lonely.
He's come to discover all sorts of strange quirks about the other guy, like that he's hungry all the time. So Harry makes sure to have a snack on hand whenever Spider-Man comes around, which is usually late afternoon or nighttime. They sit on the balcony together, chowing down on whatever food Harry stocked up on, and discuss each other's day.
With having someone new to talk to, Harry found that he didn't mind Peter going off with his new friends as much.
He still missed Peter and wanted to actually hang out with him again, but he was busier and busier every time Harry asked.
He was just glad he had someone to talk to now.
Spider-Man was pretty self-conscious when he ate with his mask up at first, and Harry's come to notice that he didn't talk as much when they ate. He waited until his mask was back down before recounting some bizarre story that Harry is almost certain was made up if not for the crazy things he'd seen himself. But Harry doesn't call him out on it, not wanting to spook him and lose his one-way ticket to real human interaction.
It's just after Harry tells a joke that it happens.
Spider-Man had gone for a sip of his soda and stopped to laugh, the sound so nice and familiar that something warm and pleasant explodes in Harry's chest, filling him from the tips of his toes to the roots of his hair. He watched Spider-Man laugh for a second, eyes roaming over his exposed skin. Sharpening jaw, pink lips, his smile.
Harry is leaning forward before he realizes what he's doing.
He kisses Spider-Man.
The laugh is cut off abruptly, but Spider-Man's lips are so soft that Harry's mind is wrapped around them. It's a soft kiss. Chaste even, and Harry jerked back a second later, wide-eyed and flushed red when he realized what he was doing. Spider-Man's jaw was slack, mouth slightly parted, and the parts of his cheeks that were exposed were a delightful pink. His mask lenses look comically wide, and if Harry weren't so horrified with himself, he might've laughed.
"I'm sor-" he started when Spider-Man's lips were suddenly on his again.
A gloved hand curled around Harry's neck, pulling him closer, and both of Harry's hands came up to cup Spider-Man's jaw. His skin is soft and there's the tiniest cut just under his chin that Harry never noticed before. They kiss again, and again, and then again.
It's rough and sloppy. No tact or skill, and it's a touch awkward from how sudden it is, but it leaves them both panting for air. Harry's fingers stroked over the warm skin, the tips catching on the bunched spandex around his nose and cheek bones. Pleasure spread through his body like warm candle wax and Harry cupped Spider-Man's head a little firmer, to keep him still, and deepened the kiss. Spider-Man made a small pleased noise and another flush of pleasure rolled in Harry's gut, and the kiss became slow and sensual, taking the time to explore the other's mouth and in no hurry to end it whatsoever.
They break apart when they're too light-headed to keep going and Harry leaned his forehead against Spider-Man's, staring into those white lenses that reflect his own breathless face. Spider-Man's hand is still curled around Harry's neck and the other had found a home fisted in Harry's shirt. Harry stroked his hand over Spider-Man's exposed cheek for a third time, relishing in the feel of his skin.
Then, slowly, as they came down from their combined high, Harry's face flushed red the same time Spider-Man's did, and they immediately jerked apart, realizing what they'd done.
"I-" Spider-Man tried to say, but for once he was at a loss of words.
I kissed him speechless, Harry thinks, and there's a touch of giddiness underneath his shock.
It took a few more minutes before Spider-Man could actually think and said the one thing Harry was hoping he wouldn't say.
"I...I think I should go."
His heart fell and he dropped his hands, trying to pretend that his heart hadn't just shattered into a million pieces.
They unwound themselves and Harry mourned the sight as Spider-Man slid his mask back into place. They separated awkwardly. Harry collected the empty wrappers just to give himself something to do and Spider-Man hopped onto the railing, preparing to go.
He paused, "Harry-"
Harry looked up, heart jumping and eager. Spider-Man fidgeted, tugging on his gloves and web shooters through nervous habit. Another thing Harry noticed he did.
"That was...that was really nice," he mumbled and Harry swore his look was bashful before he flung himself off the railing.
Harry watched him go, fingers brushing his tingling lips, smiling as he did. His heart fluttered in his chest.
I kissed Spider-Man.
He couldn't stop grinning the rest of the night. He stared at the Spider doll still sitting on his nightstand, the memory of the kiss, of Spider-Man's own eagerness, of his warmth, on Harry's mind.
Maybe he didn't hate Spider-Man after all.