This was it. The final moment. It had all come down to this. Gwen clutched Peter's hand and Harry clasped Rosie's shoulders, all four holding their breath and waiting. There were other spectators with them but they seemed to fade into the background. For one terrifying, amazing moment, all they could see was Otto and the arms and the machine. Everything in their lives, everything they'd worked on for the past years had boiled down to the next few minutes and hours, to what was about to happen next.
Otto flipped the switch and the machine lit up with a dazzling glow. His arms reached out and inserted the tritium. There was a shimmering pulse as the machine which Otto and Peter and Gwen had labored so long on contained the energy within and converted it for use.
"The power of the sun!" Otto gestured and there was applause all around.
Perfect. Peter could have cried. It was absolutely perfect.
""You have the cigars?" Peter looking into the mirror and fumbled with his cuffs.
"You've asked me that three times already Peter. I do."
"And we're not going to tell Mom about them?"
"I think we can let Dad indulge in his one vice," Harry grinned. "Especially for something like this."
"How do I look?" Peter turned on his heel and spread his arms out to show. "Because I think the bowtie is a bit much. Don't you? I mean, I think it looks rather pretentious, really, and I don't even really know how to properly knot it…"
"I knotted it. Remember? The bowtie looks fine, Pete. You're supposed to wear one with a tuxedo"
"Well what about the vest? Don't you think the buttons clash with the cufflinks? My cufflinks are gold but the buttons are silver and I'm not sure that the …"
"Peter!" Harry laughed. "Relax! The evening will pass without a hitch. I mean, the lecture went fine, didn't it? And you had a lot more to do with that. This, you just walk up, take what they hand you and then sit back and enjoy the ride. Really, I think you need to calm down."
"I can't. This is the biggest night of my life and I'm going to do something to screw it up. I'm going to pass out in front of a reporter or have a massive allergic reaction to the flower arrangements or fall on top of His Majesty or knock Dad or Gwen off the stage."
With a huff, he threw himself down onto the couch that was in the hotel room. On the coffee table in front of it was a much thumbed copy of Times magazine, something Harry had brought to tease Peter. The cover featured Otto dressed in a white suit that recalled a lab coat, sitting in a chair, legs crossed, arms folded and mechanical arms twisting out from behind him with Gwen and Peter standing on either side flanked by the arms. The title beneath it ran 'The Octavii' in a Roman-esque font while the smaller print touted the article inside, asking 'The Next Curie Family?'
Peter flipped the magazine over so he couldn't see it and buried his face in his hands.
"Pete, really. Breathe."
"She's still off talking to the kids, making sure they're behaving for Grandpa George," Harry told him.
"I hope so," he groaned. "May's been getting picky about food lately."
"Last I heard there was some disagreement with the twins over bedtime. At least you know they're safely stateside, though, and not running around the streets of Sweden."
"That isn't even funny." Peter glared. "I hope you have kids of your own someday. And speaking of which, since you haven't said anything since we got here, what's up with you and MJ? Are you on again or off again this month?"
"Off," Harry admitted reluctantly.
"What did you do this time?" Peter stood impatiently and went and got a glass of water.
"Nothing! I mean, almost nothing!" He sighed. "We were talking about my career and I said that what I really wanted to do was screen write – that acting and doing makeup were just stopgaps until I got a screen play or a script accepted or something. And she asked why that was and I said because then I could still be in the business but I could work from home in Houston. Then she completely freaked on me, asking me if I thought I was going to drag her all the way out to Texas which apparently, to her, is the equivalent of dragging her into the ninth circle of hell. The whole argument went downhill from there." He sighed. "Really, though, she's the only one who understands… some things. So I suppose we'll get back together eventually. At some point."
"I suppose." Peter looked down into the sink. "Still haven't given up trying to get back to Houston?"
"I will!" Harry's words rang with defiance. "Yeah, I need to be in New York to make connections. But once I'm set, I'm going back there and getting a ranch and half a million horses and a million dogs."
"You never did think of New York as home, did you?"
Harry shrugged. "Home was where you guys were. But did I ever like New York? Do I like it? No, not really." He walked over the Peter and fussed with his collar. "But that's not what tonight is about."
Peter slapped his hands away. "Weren't you the one just telling me to get my mind off of tonight? And why are you messing with my collar? Does it look bad?"
"I'm just keeping my hands busy!" He lifted said hands up defensively. "Don't go crazy! The collar looks fine!"
"I probably can't even fit in this suit right. I mean, don't you think the sleeves are too long?"
"Peter, the tuxedo is tailored Armani. Unless you gained fifty pounds in the last week, there's not a chance it's ill-fitted. Don't worry about the tux."
"What if I get sweat stains under the arms? Maybe I should take the jacket off. Just in case."
"You'll only make wrinkles. You are fine; sit down! Turn on the TV or something."
"Everything's in Swedish!"
"How about this? I'll call room service for a bottle of Merlot and you can take a glass or two to steady yourself."
"Great idea, Harry," he snapped. "Get me drunk before I appear before a huge audience of Nobel Laureates in a ceremony being broadcast across the globe. Or have me spill red wine all over my vest and shirt, that's just what I need."
"Is everything alright in here?" Gwen stepped into the room in a flowing black dress.
"Peter's freaking out," Harry explained nonchalantly. She nodded as if this were only expected.
"Maybe you should take some brandy. There's a lovely bottle of it we received in the other room and you know Father won't touch it."
"Will you two stop?!" He paced over to the window. "I don't need alcohol!"
"Get the brandy," Harry whispered and she nodded a second time.
The blond returned moments later with a bottle in hand and passed it to Harry who poured a small amount into the bottom of a cut glass. As he went to give it to Peter, the cell phone in her handbag rang. Pulling it out, Gwen glanced at the number on the screen and glowered. Her hand hovered for a moment over the button to hang up but, after a third ring, she stepped out into the hall and took the call.
"What?" She snapped. "Well thank you. I'll let them… No! They haven't reconsidered. Is this… wait, how the 'Connors thing went down?'" She said coldly. "That's what you call it? He was my mentor!" She hissed. "No. You leave them alone. They already told you no. Several times. I don't care what you think you know about anything that happened well over a decade ago. If you call again…" Frustrated she snapped the phone shut.
"What was that about?" Otto Octavius leaned out of the hotel room doorway, collar half undone. "Is something wrong?" He pulled on a shimmering vest, buttoning it up as he went.
"Nothing, Papa Otto." She shook her head and gave him an affectionate kiss on the cheek. "Only a minor annoyance."
"Stark, wasn't it?" He grimaced into a mirror, finishing buttoning his vest as they walked back into the room.
"Yes," she admitted. "I don't even know how he got this number."
"He's Tony Stark," Otto said by way of explanation. "I take it he was on about that ridiculous initiative of his again."
Gwen nodded. "For you and Peter both. He moved on pretty quickly from congratulating the three of us to pestering me about persuading the two of you, rattling on about your 'responsibility to society' as if you don't already do enough. And if you can believe he had the nerve… He compared what happened to you with Norman Osborn to what he did with Curt."
"I'll never forgive him that. It was unnecessary." His voice was low and strained as he put on the white silk bowtie then folded the shirt collar down.
"That's what I told him." She handed Otto the black jacket off the back of a nearby chair.
"Hello dear!" Rosie stepped out of the bathroom, trying to loop earrings into her ears. "What's the matter?"
"Stark," Otto told her as he shrugged the jacket around his shoulders.
Her face fell. "He isn't here, is he?"
"Unfortunately, I think he is," said Gwen, going into the bathroom to freshen up her lipstick.
"OK, I can't take this anymore." Harry interrupted as he appeared in the doorway, pushing Peter in front of him. "If he keeps this up, one of us is going to have a breakdown. Or a fight. You guys take him."
"Peter, are you nervous?" Rosie came up and gave him a hug.
"Yes!" He smoothed the front of his jacket and tugged on the vest beneath in an agitated fashion. "Do I look alright?"
"Perfectly handsome." Rosie beamed. "I'm very proud of you boys. And you, dear," she said with a nod to Gwen. "After all, behind every good man…"
"Lucky Peter and I have you two, then." Otto pulled on his coat.
"We'd better get going before we're late." Peter fidgeted with the tails of his jacket. "Come on Gwen. We can call a cab."
"Relax Peter. Not like they're going to start the ceremony without you," Harry chuckled as his brother ran out of the door then back in again to grab his own coat.
Gwen shot Rosie a long-suffering look and the older woman gave her a sympathetic smile.
"We'll start heading down," Rosie said to Otto as he helped her into her wool wrap. "It might take a bit to negotiate in these heels."
As Otto went to follow them, Harry grabbed his wrist. "Dad."
"Here." Harry ran into the other room for a moment and came back with a box that he handed to Otto. "Pete and I got you these. You know. To congratulate you. And while we're at it, Merry Christmas."
Otto lifted up the lid of the box of Pepin Garcias, inhaled and smiled. "My favorites. Thank you, Harry."
"Just don't let Mom find out!" He grinned.
"I'll be sure not to," Otto said with a wink.
Keeping only a rather innocent secret between them, they joined the others in the cold December air as all five stepped out to face the evening.
A/N: Based off of a line Harry had in Spidey 2 to Ock. Probably wouldn't happen so quickly – there would be more lag time between invention and award – but this is fiction. :) Left a few ambiguous things in there for one-shots if I ever feel like it (even the time could be ambiguous – anywhere from 10 to 15-ish years). And I've also considered a one-shot mindswap crossover thing with Octave!Peter and Comic!Peter, two rather different guys thrown into two very different worlds. Maybe. And I might illustrate some stuff from this fic – if I do it will be in my author profile.
But for now, this is concluded. Hope it was enjoyable. I had a lot of fun writing it and look forward to working on more Spidey stuff.