Harry Osborn stood in the middle of a secret arsenal, slowly scanning the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs, glider, and green suit. He felt oddly detached from the experience, and from the others that had happened the same night. For a moment, everything made perfect sense. Peter's constant unexplained absences, his father's increasingly erratic behavior–it was all so obvious, now that he knew why. And, for the moment, it was all right. He sat down on the pedestal where the mask and glider rested, staring blankly at the green tubes that lined the walls.
His mind returned to the night he lost Mary Jane. He had found them together–Peter and MJ, his best friend and his girlfriend–holding hands, talking softly. He hadn't been sure what to do. Even though Pete had betrayed him, he was still his best friend. Harry didn't want to abandon their friendship outright–it had meant so much to him, and, in all honesty, Harry didn't have enough friends to just ditch a couple of them. He wanted to have people around him that he could love and who would love him in return. Craved it, actually. It was loathsome and unforgivable, but there it was. So he had given in to weakness as usual and left, instead of taking control as an Osborn should.
He had then gone to his father's townhouse, like a child who has to cut his own switch. He knew what his father would say, and although he didn't exactly want to hear it, he felt as though he deserved to. To his enormous surprise, his father had not only not berated his stupidity, but had sympathized and comforted him. It was the first time they had been so close since Harry was a kid, and it was one of Harry's best memories of his father.
Sitting in the Green Goblin's secret cache, Harry wondered, Was it just because he was crazy? And then, How could he have attacked those executives at the World Unity Festival knowing I could be killed, too? It was a bit selfish–after all, several people had died–but he couldn't help being hurt. That was when the weight of it hit him, all at once. He felt nauseous and oddly contaminated, as though the place had the power to infect him with the madness that had consumed his father.
He got up quickly and ran back out to his father's study, where he grabbed the bottle of bourbon and stumbled to the desk, his numb limbs reluctant but obedient. He grabbed the phone and called Peter. Four rings; nobody home. "Pete? It's Harry. I…uh…found something. We need to talk. Give me a call when you get back."
Pete had said he was going to stop Doc Ock from recreating his crazy fusion machine. Who knew when he might be back, if at all. Harry let his head drop into his hands. "Why didn't you tell me?" he said softly. "I could have helped… I could've…."
"I think you know the answer to that," Norman Osborn replied.
Harry looked up to see his father leaning over the desk.
"How could I trust you?" Norman sneered. "You've spent two years chasing Spider-Man and you didn't even have the spine to kill him when you had him."
"Leave me alone," Harry spat, turning away and moving over to the chez lounge. He took a long swig of bourbon straight from the bottle. As the right-hand side of the room had fallen silent, Harry turned his head to see if it was clear.
"Oh, well done," came a new voice, from Harry's front. Immediately, Harry knew it was the same creature that had laughed so maniacally earlier. It sounded like Norman, but unlike him. Harry whipped his head back around to see the Green Goblin in full attire. The thing squatted in front of Harry and cocked its head at the bottle. "You really are a chip off the old block, eh? All the vices, none of the virtues. It didn't help him, what makes you think it'll help you?"
Harry frowned at the bottle. "It'll shut you up," he said.
"Don't bet on it, son," said the Goblin, then laughed that shrill cackle.
Harry looked back at the desk, considering, but the Goblin had beaten him to the punch and was sitting jauntily on top of Harry's things like some grotesque paperweight.
"Thinking about calling your friends?" the Goblin asked cheerfully. "And who shall we call first, the girlfriend who never liked you? The brother who's betrayed you twice? How about one of those OsCorp kiss-asses, since nobody else seems to like you?"
"Get out of my way," Harry snapped, moving to sit at the desk. The Goblin jumped aside obligingly as Harry sat and dialed the operator, but he hovered obnoxiously close. "New York, New York. May Parker," Harry said.
At that, the Goblin doubled over and began to laugh louder and more hideously than before.
"Shut up, shut up, shut up," Harry hissed at it. Between the booze and the Goblin, his head was beginning to throb like the goddamn telltale heart.
"Hello? Who is this?" a confused voice asked from the other end of the line.
"Aunt May –" Harry began.
"Harry, is that you? What's the matter?" May's voice was tense.
The Goblin leaned close to Harry's ear. "What are you gonna tell her, that you never had a mommy and you want your friend Petey's?"
Harry just wanted someone to talk to, and May was as close to a friend as he had. But it was the Goblin's words that resonated in his mind. He couldn't tell Aunt May something stupid like that. "Uh…have you seen Pete?" he asked instead.
"Why, no. Should I have?"
Not really, since he doesn't live with you and he spent the whole night tracking Doc Ock anyway. There was a long, awkward pause while Harry considered what to say to that.
"Harry…" May began hesitantly.
"I'm really sorry I bothered you, Aunt May. It won't happen again, I promise. I'm sorry. Bye." The Goblin was laughing again. Harry hung up quickly and took another long draft of bourbon.
As if reading his thoughts, the Goblin piped up, "Face facts, kid. Short of cutting your own head off, you aren't getting rid of me."
"Good idea," Harry agreed, and downed the rest of the bottle. He suspected it wouldn't be enough, though. His tolerance had been annoyingly high lately. He made his way over to table that held decanters full of what Harry thought of as the "guest liquor"–the aged stuff that would impress visitors, but that he didn't like quite as much as the good old Maker's Mark. There was rum, brandy, and Irish whiskey in the decanters, or the bottle of Corazon Reposado tequila Harry had left there one night. Corazon Reposado–what a coincidence, that was exactly what he was looking for. He took the bottle back to the chez lounge.
After a while, the Goblin reappeared and stood at his feet. It was a detestable thing. It had nearly killed Aunt May and Mary Jane, not to mention the countless others unlucky enough to get in its way. His father walked into his field of vision from the other side and stood next to the Goblin.
Since they weren't talking, Harry took the opportunity to examine them closely. It looked for all the world as though they were really standing there, although Harry was sure that couldn't possibly be true. That they appeared as separate entities comforted him somewhat. His father and the Green Goblin couldn't be the same person, just as his beloved friend Pete couldn't be his hated enemy Spider-Man. If it were true, what did it say about Harry that the two people he loved and trusted most never trusted him?
Some time later, Harry's cell phone went off. He had dozed off, and even at full volume, the sound barely made it through the fog in his head. He managed to get it out of his pocket and hit a button by instinct, hoping it was the one to connect instead of the one to hang up.
"Harry, it's Peter. What do you want?"
"Pete! So glad to hear you. You don't know…so glad…."
"Have you been drinking?" Peter asked, sounding tired and annoyed.
"Yeah, but that's not the thing. This is the thing: you have to come over."
Harry paused. That was a good question. He looked around the room for clues, but everything was spinning too fast to see clearly. "Can't remember," he admitted.
On the other end of the line, Peter sighed. "Jeez, Harry, it's almost four in the morning. Sleep it off, will you?"
"Wait–please–come over, we'll remember…y'know, figure it out. You and me, Pete."
"Get some sleep. I'll talk to you later, when you're sober. It can wait till then."
"No, no, no, no, no. Please come. Don't want to be alone. I'll stop drinking."
"I can't do this right now. See you tomorrow."
The line went dead, although Harry didn't realize it for some time afterward. Eventually, he gave up and started looking for the tequila. It hadn't gone far.
Chapter 1: Questions
Harry spent the next day in a hospital bed, drifting between a fitful sleep and a pounding headache that came very close to distracting him from the terrible nausea. Whenever he was awake, he saw Aunt May. Sometimes she noticed he could see her and ran a cool hand across his fevered brow. Towards evening, his headache receded and he fell asleep, only to be hounded by the Green Goblin the entire night.
In one especially vivid nightmare, he dreamed the Goblin was dangling him off the Roosevelt Island bridge. But when the Goblin pulled off his mask, it was Harry's own face underneath–twisted by cruelty and hate, but his own face. Howling like a demon, the Goblin dropped Harry off the bridge.
Harry woke when his body hit the water. He looked over and saw that the sun was reflecting off the spotlessly white walls. It made his head hurt, so he looked toward the spot where Aunt May had been sitting before. She was gone. Did you expect her to stay forever, stupid?She's probably got things to do.
Just then, she came in carrying a vase full of yellow flowers. "Oh–you're awake!" she said, setting the flowers on the windowsill.
She settled herself into an uncomfortable-looking plastic chair next to the bed, looking slightly pained. "I meant to be here when you woke up. I remember when I was in the hospital two years ago, it was such a comfort to have Peter there…" she trailed off ruefully. "But then I saw those carnations, and I thought they'd brighten things up a bit –"
Not wanting to hear an apology, Harry interrupted, "They're great, Aunt May. Thanks."
She nodded. After a short pause, she asked, "Are you feeling all right, dear?"
"Better than last night," he answered noncommittally. Then, sensing from her earnest expression that she wanted more of an answer, he continued, "Yeah, I think I'm okay."
"Good." The older woman's expression turned steely. "Because you had me worried half to death! Do you have any idea what your blood alcohol content was?" She paused briefly, as if waiting for Harry's answer, but interrupted as soon as he opened his mouth. "Point three-two. Three two! You're lucky you aren't dead. What do you have to say for yourself?" Again, she stopped talking just long enough for Harry to fumble for an answer. "Don't even start with me, young man. There aren't enough excuses in all five boroughs. Of all the foolish–! Do you know how worried–? I'm speechless. Speechless!"
May didn't seem very speechless to Harry, so he kept his mouth shut.
"You had me so worried after that phone call that I made three transfers and walked six blocks at five in the morning! Oh, I'm too old for this nonsense."
"You took the bus?"
"The train, dear. I would have been there sooner, but they don't run till five. And that's hardly the point!"
"Why didn't you take the Olds?"
Taken aback, Aunt May lowered her voice. "I don't have it anymore. Didn't Peter tell you?"
"Pete doesn't tell me anything anymore."
May nodded sympathetically. "If it makes you feel any better, I probably don't see any more of him than you do. Did you get ahold of him last night?"
Harry had to think for a minute about that. As the memory of Peter's phone call pieced itself together, his frown deepened into a scowl. Oh yeah, we talked all right. Just long enough for him to abandon me in my time of need.
Immediately, the hateful voice of the Goblin whispered in his ear, "Sure, blame Peter, you sniveling worm."
Alarmed, Harry barked, "Shut up!" at the voice, but there was no one there. Aunt May sat back in her chair, watching him cautiously.
Remembering where he was, Harry immediately apologized. "I haven't been feeling well lately, in case you haven't noticed," he said, trying to cover his fear with a smile. He had been hoping the first round of hallucinations would be the last.
"Maybe you should speak to someone," May suggested.
"I'm speaking to you."
"That's not what I meant."
"I'm not crazy!"
"No, of course not." May took his hand and squeezed it gently. "I'm just concerned, that's all."
"Don't trust her," a new voice interjected. Harry recognized it immediately as his father's. "She isn't family, Harry. She wants something from you. Don't trust her!"
Harry heard the voice very clearly in his left ear, just as though someone were sitting there speaking to him, but he didn't look over. Instead, he stared steadily into May's eyes. "Thanks. But I'm going to be fine. Really."
They chatted for a bit longer, then May left with another stern admonishment, leaving Harry to watch daytime television and wait for an overworked doctor to show up and discharge him. He was just pulling on the fresh shirt May had brought him when Peter showed up.
"Hey," said Peter, lurking in the doorway like some kind of collegiate vampire.
"I wondered if you'd bother," Harry said coolly, buttoning his shirt.
"Look, Harry –"
"Save it," Harry snapped. "You're off the hook."
"What do you mean?"
"You know all those obligations you have to your friends? Things like talking to them and hanging out with them? Well, you're not obligated, because we're not friends."
Harry strapped on his watch and left the room, a stunned Peter Parker stepping aside to let him go. Peter regained his senses and caught up with Harry at the elevator.
"What, just like that?" he demanded.
"No, Pete, not 'just like that.' Ever since you-know-who, you haven't been much of a friend to anyone. It's not just me. It's MJ and Aunt May, too. Aunt May told me you haven't even seen her new place. You didn't tell me she lost the house. I would've helped–"
"Parkers don't take charity," Peter said hotly.
"What charity? I thought we were friends," Harry shot back. He exited the elevator at the ground floor, Peter following. After a few steps, he slowed, then stopped. He slumped a bit, his hard expression softening. "I wanted to hear your side of it," he explained. "That's why I called."
"Why didn't you just say so?" Peter said, exasperated.
"I told you, I forgot. That happens when you drink a bottle of tequila in five hours. That's the point of tequila. If you had just come over like I asked, you would have seen." Harry left through the lobby doors and walked to where his father's chauffeured Rolls Royce was waiting for him.
"Harry, wait," Peter tried again.
"Since when do you give a damn?" Harry said icily, slamming the car door. He thought he heard Peter say something, but he wasn't in the mood to hear it. Just talking to Peter reminded Harry too much of his dad. Drunk, Harry had been confused about what to think about Peter's involvement in Norman's death. Sober, he could barely consider it without having ten different irresistible impulses–smash things, laugh, cry, crush his hand in the car door, crush Peter's hand in the car door…. It was so much easier just to be angry about the small things.
He tried to clear his mind, but one line from their conversation kept repeating in his head like a mantra. If you had just come over…if you had just come over, you would have seen…. Suddenly, a bolt of panic arced up his spine. There were paramedics in the study, not to mention Bernard the houseman. If one of them happened to snoop around the crawlspace --! Hands sweating, he pulled out his cell phone and called Aunt May.
Peter Parker stood in front of the hospital, barely feeling the damp April wind biting through his light jacket.
"You'll be sorry when I'm dead!" he shouted at the car, but the wisecrack didn't cheer him up. He was angry at Harry, but he was angrier at himself, because everything Harry said was true. After all, Mary Jane had told him exactly the same thing. Not that I haven't been working up a nice big, ulcer over it, he thought bitterly. You try keeping eight million people safe, and see how much time you have left for shooting the breeze.
After being reassured numerous times by both Bernard and Aunt May that no one had entered the crawlspace/weapons cache (though Bernard had taken it upon himself to hire a workman to replace the mirror), Harry was reasonably sure that nobody knew his father's secret but himself and Peter. He wandered into the master bedroom, left untouched since his father's death. It all seemed so unreal–Norman was Harry's hero, great and untouchable. How could he have done the things the Goblin did?
Harry thought hard. He imagined his father. Then he imagined his father wrapping his hands around Mendell Stromm's neck and tossing him into the wall. Nope, that didn't play. Harry didn't know Dr. Stromm very well, and the situation was too outlandish anyway. Thinking it might be easier to imagine his father in the study–as that was where he had spent most of his time at home–Harry left the master bedroom.
He tried again. This time, he stared at the mirror. He looked through it into the secret crawlspace, and imagined Norman there, stripping out of his suit and tie, and putting on the Goblin armor and mask. Okay, that he could believe. From there, he imagined the Green Goblin stepping up onto the glider and jetting off towards Times Square.
He remembered the World Unity Festival from his own perspective, watching the thing streaking across the sky, leaving a jet-trail of exhaust. It was tossing pumpkin-shaped bombs at him–wait, no. Not at him. At Max Fargas and Mr. Balkan and a few other executives on OsCorp's board of directors. If Norman had been aware of Harry at all, he hadn't been targeting him, although he hadn't been avoiding him, either. He had thrown the bombs and left it to Harry to get out of the way. That was depressing, but believable.
But Mr. Fargas was an old family friend, why would Norman want to kill him? That didn't add up. And really, couldn't it be anyone behind the mask? If the Goblin's equipment came from OsCorp, there might be multiple suits and gliders. The mask Harry recognized as a longstanding part of Norman's collection, but it was certainly possible to make more.
He was wary of this line of inquiry. Following his father's footsteps had taken him to a very dark place, and he was afraid to go there again. Yet, if his father wasn't responsible for his actions, Harry wanted to know; and if he was, Harry wanted to understand. With that in mind, he flipped through his father's Rolodex until he found the name he wanted: J. Jonah Jameson.
For a couple of weeks after Doc Ock's demise, New York's petty criminals attempted to have a field day, much to Spider-Man's annoyance. Peter knew it was his own fault for trying to shirk his responsibilities, but that didn't make it less grueling. Without Spider-Man around, scum and lowlifes citywide had renewed their operations with vigor. But even after his return, Spider-Man had been so busy chasing down Ock that he'd had no time to waste on small potatoes. Well, he was paying for it now. The criminals he'd been busting steadily since gaining his powers were back out in force. Unfortunately for them, so was Spider-Man. Tonight, he decided to visit the docks. There was always something going on at the docks.
Maybe Harry and MJ were right. Maybe he just wasn't meant to have normal relationships with people. A normal person wouldn't have spent a month chasing down a crazy scientist and his robot arms. A normal person wouldn't have been in the position of having to kill his best friend's father, accidentally or otherwise. Spider-Man crawled silently to the top of a warehouse and surveyed the area. Even though it was past midnight, a group of burly men was unloading cargo from one of the docked ships. Spider-Man recognized a couple of them as crooks he'd busted before.
Harry had said he'd found something, and that if Peter had come over he would've seen. But what? If Harry knew that his father was the Green Goblin, there was a chance he would believe the truth about Norman's death, and Harry and Peter could still be friends. Maybe Norman Osborn had stashed something incriminating in his townhouse. But maybe not. Harry's statements were ambiguous. Norman's dying wish was that Peter not tell Harry his secret, and Peter had every intention of respecting it. He would just have to wait until Harry was ready to talk.
"I don't suppose you boys have papers for that!" he shouted, swinging down to the ground. He was all primed for a good fight–he had counted eight men hauling crates and one overseeing them, which made it halfway sporting–but, to his surprise, none of them was coming at him. They simply set the crates they were hauling on the ground and waited. Spider-Man struck a pose, scratching his head.
He recognized the overseer as Snaps Soriano, part of a gang that he had previously put away for fencing stolen jewelry. "Yo, stinky!" he called.
"That's Mr. Soriano to you," said the man coolly. "As a matter of fact, we do have papers for this stuff. My coworker Ricky will elucidate." He snapped his fingers. One of the men, who had been driving a forklift, jumped down and trudged towards the ship.
"If you've got legal orders to transport this cargo, why do it in the dead of night?" Spider-Man hopped to the top of one of the larger crates and dangled his feet off the side. "I mean, don't you know how suspicious this looks?"
"Boss likes to keep things hush-hush. More that that, I could not tell you."
"Whatcha got in here, anyway?" Spider-Man leaned forward and swung his legs up, so that he was balancing on his hands on the edge of the box. He thought he heard one of the thugs mutter, "Showoff."
"Medical supplies. For hospitals and orphanages." Snaps rolled the last word around his mouth like a cigar.
"Mind if I take a look?" Without waiting for an answer, Spider-Man flipped forward, landing on his feet. He turned around and punched straight through the wooden crate, then pulled off the side using the holes he had made. Sure enough, there was nothing inside but a man-sized glass cylinder, some rubber tubing, and a whole lot of packing peanuts.
While he was examining the contents of the crate, Ricky came back with the shipping order. Spider-Man looked it over. "Shipment for Multivex…never heard of 'em."
Snaps looked at him with supreme disdain. "So?"
Spider-Man shrugged. "Got me there. N. Carmine Soriano, huh? What's the N stand for?"
"None of your business," Snaps sneered. "We got a lot of unloading to do." He snapped his fingers again, and the other men resumed their work.
"I s'pose I can
let you go this time," Spider-Man said lightly, tossing the order
back to Snaps. He swung towards the heart of Manhattan, frustrated.
Bottomfeeding thugs like that doing honest work, he thought,
what's the world coming to?
Author's Notes: I started writing this shortly after seeing Spider-Man 2, picking it up every so often whenever I felt like hanging out with Harry, Gwen, and the gang. But with Spider-Man 3 out and wrapping up MovieHarry's story for real, I figured it was about time to finish my own version. I did my best to keep all the angst, adventure, and New Yorkness that makes Spider-Man so awesome–hope you enjoy!