Title: Nothing Gold Can Stay
Summary: Movieverse. Before the events of Spider-Man 1. After a fun filled day at the beach, young Harry Osborn expresses his feelings through his art.
Spoilers: Maybe minor ones for the books. If it weren't for Peter David I wouldn't have gotten this idea. The beach reference on which I'm basing the fic is from Spider-Man pages 60-61.
Timeline: Before SM1. Harry is thirteen.
Category: Angst/General, Non-slash.
Feedback: Always happy to hear what readers have to say.
Archive: Anywhere, but please ask me first. I would like to know where it's going and to make sure it will have my name on it.
Dedication: I'm dedicating this fic to htbthomas and Mark C. They both are amazing Spider-Man as well as Superman writers. Not only that, but they are both are dear friends of mine. This fic is just a small way to say Thank you. Also this is dedicated to J.M. Powell, because her fic, The Foundation of Tarnished Gold, is one of the best young Harry fics I've ever read.
Thanks to: Thanks goes out to htbthomas and Georgia Kennedy. You both are awesome and superb betas.
Word Count: 2500 words
Disclaimers: They're not mine. Stan Lee and Marvel own them. Anyone else not recognizable is mine. The poem Nothing Gold Can Stay is by Robert Frost. Not making one penny for this story. This fic is just for enjoyment.
Thoughts are in italics.
This is one of the best of days of my life, Harry Osborn thought with a grin.
He headed back to the beach house. Though it was a large, three-story structure, it was small compared to the Manhattan palace in which he and his father lived.
When he reached the deck, Harry turned around to watch the waves hit the sands at the late afternoon tide. There was still plenty of daylight left.
Harry suddenly had an idea. He quickly went inside to find the easel and brushes he had brought. He remembered his father asking what in the world he was going to do with those things at the beach house.
Norman Osborn was on the phone, as usual. Harry sighed as he peeked into the office, observing his father's head and shoulders above the black leather back of the swivel chair. Couldn't his dad ever go anywhere without having to talk to someone from work?
"…with the armor." Norman Osborn's voice was animated. "Max, it would have a cybernetic link to the board. So instead of the board depending on the reflexes of the rider, it would respond to the wearer's very thoughts. Imagine being able to take out an enemy…"
Harry quickly left, knowing how annoyed Norman would be if he found Harry listening in on his private conversation.
Finding the small easel and the paints, Harry returned to the deck and set up shop.
The breeze ruffled his hair, but Harry took little notice of it. Turning to face the sea, he studied the colors of the sky and how they played on the water.
Taking a deep breath, he smelled the salty sea air and listened to the seagulls as they flew, undoubtedly to find their dinner.
Harry hoped to catch everything in his mind's eye while he painted. He did not want to rush.
Painting relaxed him, keeping him focused on the task at hand, although his mind somehow managed to wander to his thirteenth birthday, a little over a month ago. He had gotten a boogie board. More than once, he had pleaded with his father to go to their beach house for a weekend. He was mildly surprised when Norman finally assented. Maybe it was because he knew that Harry had been trying to do well in school, and had felt that his son's efforts should be rewarded. And Harry really, really appreciated it. He knew that going to the beach was not on his father's list of favorite things to do.
They had arrived late the night before, and would be going home the next day. Harry would have loved to spend at least a few more days here. It was unseasonably warm for spring. And he had a wonderful time skimming the waves with his board. Although he had not paid much attention to his father while he was out there, he was pleased to see Norman grinning and clapping his hands as he watched Harry get out of the water.
Harry paused for a second as he made a downward stroke on the easel. A part of Dad's conversation that he had overheard came to mind. Something about a board… whatever he was talking about…
So instead of the board depending on the reflexes of the rider, it would respond to the wearer's very thoughts.
Did he get that idea earlier? Harry wondered. The more Harry thought about it, the more the answer seemed to be "yes." Norman had the same look on his face when Harry came out of the water that he had when he was on the phone, the look that said he had captured an idea, and that nothing was going to deter him from making it real.
Pushing those thoughts aside, Harry turned back to his painting, scrutinizing it closely before picking up a paintbrush again. The ocean was finished, and the sun was nearly complete as well. But the sun was already starting its slow descent; he'd have to mix colors to change the hue as he watched it set.
All that was left to paint was the sky. During the day, it appeared to merge with the sea. And now, it was ablaze with spectacular hues of pink, purple, and gold.
As he painted, he thought back to a book he had read the summer before, The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton. Something about it had caught his interest. He could hardly relate to the main character, Ponyboy, or even to his buddy Johnny. But it was the poem Ponyboy had quoted that Harry remembered, particularly the last lines—
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Though this was sunset and not sunrise, the poem was still appropriate. The sun had slipped almost completely below the horizon; there still was a little sliver of light clinging to the sky. The overhead deck lights had kicked on some time ago, giving Harry the illumination he needed to finish his painting.
A short while later, he completed his last brush stroke across the canvas. He was quite pleased with the result, a simple picture of the ocean and the setting sun. To make it look a little more realistic, he had added a few seagulls in the sky.
Carefully lifting the painting off the stand, he retrieved his box of paints. He would bring them into the house and return for the brushes and the stand making sure to clean the brushes before the paint dried and hardened.
On impulse, he decided to show his father his painting. Surely his father was off—
"Dad, I wanted—" Harry's voice trailed off as he saw that Dad wasn't off the phone - he was still on it.
Norman slowly turned around. "Can you hold on for a sec, Max?" He did not look happy at being interrupted. He covered the phone with his hand. "What is it, Harry?" The annoyance in his voice was painfully palpable.
"N-Nothing," Harry's voice faltered. "It c-can wait."
Seeing the painting, Norman said, "You interrupted an important call for a picture, Harry?"
"I-I'm s-sorry," Harry stammered and quickly turned around and left the room.
Bolting up the steps, Harry set his painting against the bureau. He didn't even bother to look at it as he put his paints away.
What were you thinking? Harry reprimanded himself. He should have made sure his father wasn't busy, but then again, he almost always was.
Remembering the brushes were still on the deck, Harry went outside to get them. As he retrieved the rest of his things, he paused and looked out toward the ocean.
Harry didn't know what to think of it now; it was so different. The moon was out and there appeared to be millions of stars in the sky. And the ocean, though dark, was covered with silvery specs of light.
He went back into the house, and as he passed the office for the third time, Harry observed that his father was still on the phone. His spirits crushed, he retreated to the relative safety and comfort of his room.
Dad's been talking to Mr. Fergus for who knows how long. And about some crazy idea no doubt…
The painting had held his attention while his father was busy. He had been content while transforming a blank canvas into a seascape.
But now, he didn't want to look at, ever again. Grabbing an unused brush, Harry opened one of his paint bottles and dipped the brush in it, not even bothering to see what color it was.
As he raised the brush to the painting, he stopped. His father always said he was always too impulsive and emotional.
But Harry's hesitation cost him, nonetheless. He ended up dripping dark red paint down his shirt.
Harry swore as he watched as droplets of what looked like blood were absorbed into the fabric. He was grateful that his father was downstairs and unable to hear his colorful term. In a valiant, but late effort to contain the damage, Harry cupped his other hand under the brush, hoping to catch the dripping paint. He went into the bathroom and ran a damp hand towel over the shirt in a desperate attempt to clean it. But all he managed to do was smear the paint even more. He cursed again at his misfortune; that shirt was an old favorite of his, and now it was ruined.
But Harry's run of minor misfortunes was not over yet. He threw the towel into the sink in frustration, and in so doing, he caused the water from the sink to splash everywhere, getting him soaked in the process.
"Urgh!" He turned the water off and stalked back into his bedroom - he'd deal with the mess later.
Harry went to the bureau to get a clean tee shirt. As he started to get changed, he looked into the mirror above the bureau and managed to catch the expression on his face. It had changed so much from the carefree one he had been wearing only hours ago.
Harry all but jumped out of his skin. Turning, he saw his father standing in his doorway.
"What are you doing?"
Harry wondered if maybe his father had heard him swear earlier. But no, Norman was eyeing his open paints, and paint-hardened brushes. Luckily Harry hadn't tipped over the paint in his dash to the bathroom before.
"I was just…" Harry wasn't sure what to say. Just going to damage my painting because I'm mad at you.
"What happened to your shirt?" his father wasn't angry, but he did want to know what was going on.
"I spilled some paint on it. I tried to get it off but—" Harry looked down at his ruined shirt.
"That shirt is old - you should just get another if you need it," Norman said as he came into the room.
It wasn't like Harry needed a new shirt. Hell, at home he had more than enough clothes to least him a few weeks without needing them washed.
"But—" What was the point of an argument? The shirt was old…
"But what?" his father questioned him.
"I like this shirt."
It was the truth, but why he had said it aloud Harry didn't know. But now that he had, he wished he'd said something that was more reasonable.
"We'll give it to Bernard and he can see if the cleaners can fix it, okay?"
Harry nodded his agreement. He set his clean shirt aside and went over to close up the paints and clean off the brushes.
The towel was still in the sink, so Harry rung it out. He saw a bit of paint on it from the brush that was already in the sink. But he would have to try to get that off after the brushes were cleaned.
Surprised that his father hadn't left, Harry glanced up from his work in the mirror to see his father behind him.
"The picture, did you paint it?"
"Yes," he said quietly. Why he couldn't meet his father's eyes, Harry didn't know. He went back to the task at hand.
"It's quite good, actually."
Harry wasn't sure who was more surprised, his father for saying that Harry could paint, or Harry himself for being on the receiving end of his father's praise.
"Really?" Harry asked as he turned off the water and left the brushes in the sink.
"Yes, really." Norman left the bathroom, and glanced at the painting one more time. Harry followed him out.
But his joy would only last for a moment.
"I hope you aren't going to get it into your head to paint all the time, Harry."
Harry was so flabbergasted that he stuttered, "N-no. I was just–just doing it for fun."
His father looked back up at him. He must have seen the stunned, even hurt, look on his son's face.
"I wasn't saying it to be harsh, son. I just don't want you to get your head full of dreams of being an artist or some other crazy notion when you're older."
Is that sadness on Dad's face? Harry wasn't sure, but it was gone a second later. But all he said was, "I understand."
"I'm impressed that you're working hard in school. If you keep your grades up, maybe you won't need a tutor this summer."
Harry inwardly squirmed. School was an uncomfortable subject for him. He tried. He really tried. But some subjects, like science, he just could not grasp. In fact, the tutor he had last year had said it was a lost cause trying to teach him anything…
"I'll do my best."
Norman's nod indicated that he seemed satisfied with Harry's answer. He started to leave the room, but stopped at the doorway.
"What do you say we spend another day here?"
Once again, his father had surprised him, but this time it was a good thing. "Can we? But don't you have to be at work Monday?" By force of habit, he tried the hide the hopefulness in his voice.
"I'm sure my people at OsCorp can handle things in my absence for one more day," Norman laughed at his own remark.
"Okay," Harry said eagerly. Oh, but he knew that his father would be calling the company constantly Monday, but he didn't care.
His father left at his answer.
Since he had to finish cleaning the brushes, Harry went back to bathroom.
His thoughts turned to the painting, which now he was glad he hadn't destroyed. But what was he going to do with it?
Maybe I'll give it to Dad, he thought. It wasn't going to be a gift, just a simple token of love.
Harry smiled. Maybe today hadn't been the best day of his life, but it sure had been a good one. And that was okay by him.
Thanks for reading, please leave a comment. Jenn