Harry had expected from the outset, given his track record, that things were going to go downhill in his relationship with Lily at some point. Had gambling been his vice instead of drinking, he would have bet money on it. What he couldn't have foreseen, and wondered later if he was blind not to, was the disastrous way it would plunge downward.
Menace. Lily was Menace, she was a killer she was… she was still expecting to marry him, he thought with a lurch. And now all he could think about was how he got himself into this mess and how badly he wanted out of it. He wanted to be saved from it, wanted a hero to swing in and take him away from all the expectation and the madness and the Goblin…
But Peter wasn't there to save him. Peter was in prison, Harry thought as he looked at the rows of weaponry, the gliders and masks. He would take care of Lily first. The formula and its effects were his priority because they were his responsibility. But then Peter, he promised himself as he pulled his mask on over his face. Even if Peter objected, even if it was far too obvious, he was not going to let his friend, his lo… his whatever die in a prison because the police were idiots.
Of course, when he tracked Lily down he found her whaling on Peter and was able to conveniently kill two birds with one stone. He did not stay to watch her face the police and the consequences of her actions. Instead he scooped Peter up and took them to a convenient rooftop.
"Here, catch your breath," Harry said, panting himself. "Oh, God Peter. Oh God, I think I… I messed up bad, this time." He sank down onto the roof with his head in his hands. "Not good, Pete, not good!"
"Harry…" Peter coughed. "Harry, why are you wearing the mask?"
"I had to," he muttered. "To take care of business. Harry isn't strong enough, but like this…"
"Bullshit, Harry!" Peter protested, and then grabbed his aching ribs. "Harry, don't do this. Please don't do this."
"I was saving you!" Harry protested. "I had to! I… I swear, Peter, it was just this once. I'm not going mad. I don't think I'm going mad, I'm almost sure…" He lifted his head up and looked over. "Come here, Peter."
"We're on a rooftop! Don't you think somebody might notice?"
"Nobody will see. I just… I need… please, Peter."
Peter staggered over and held Harry. "This is going to be fine. It will be alright. It's all going to work out, you'll see…"
"She mocked me!" He sobbed. "She's just like my father, every insecurity I've ever had… it's like I can't even feel if I want to be taken seriously. But I'm not that weak, I sweat I'm not that… I thought I had something with her. And even if I didn't and even if it wasn't all that I really wanted, I don't wanted ridicule."
"Easy now," Peter whispered and tugged his mask up. "Easy." He pressed his lips against Harry's, though it took the other man a moment before he reciprocated. Then, exhausted, Peter slumped into his arms.
"Sorry," Harry muttered. "Wasn't thinking. You must be in a ton of pain right now. I'll get you back to my place, get you cleaned up."
"You sure that's safe?" Peter winced, picking at a scab. "I could follow you a little later, you know. I think I can still swing, as long as I don't run into anything along the way."
"You're sure?" Harry asked doubtfully. "I don't want to leave you alone and then hear tomorrow that you smeared yourself across the side of a building. I've filled my daily awful news about my life quota for about the next three months." He traced Peter's jaw through the mask. "Seriously, Peter, you're the only good thing I have in my life right now. I want to be sure that you're alright at least."
"I'll make, it," he promised. "Although, if it isn't too much to ask, could you make sure you've got some painkillers? A bath would be nice too."
"Anything," Harry smiled and secured his mask, giving Peter a quick kiss, rubber to fabric, before climbing back on to the glider in a resigned fashion. "You're sure…"
"I'm fine Harry." He clasped his shoulder. "Promise."
Harry was already out of the suit, washed and in a robe by the time Peter arrives. Peter looked around to see where it had gone and Harry noticed him looking.
"I burned it," he said, laying back on the couch. "Didn't want the temptation." He looked down at the cup of coffee he was holding. "Thought that would be best."
"Probably," Peter said, taking off his own mask. "Feeling any better?"
"Cleaner. On the outside, anyway." Harry groaned. "I just… I can't figure out where I keep going wrong. I feel like I'm cursed, like my father and everything that came from him is a shadow that I can't get away from. You know?"
"I know," Peter said, "And I don't know what to tell you. But if it means anything, I think you're stronger than that." His fingers, still gloved in red and blue, pushed through Harry's curls.
"It feels like I ought to be crying right now. But nothing is…" He looked at Peter with eyes only partially damp. "I mean, there are some things I can still hold on to. Right?"
"Uh, yeah. Right." Peter whispered. A moment of embarrassed silence passed between them before Peter coughed. "So, about that shower?"
"Down the hall, when you're ready. Plenty of hot water left. And I'll get you some meds from the cabinet in the kitchen; maybe bring out the first aid kit too."
It took Peter over half an hour to finally feel clean again and he was still sore in places that he hadn't been for a long, long while. After the prisoners, Lily had packed one hell of a punch. But Harry was waiting with water and Tylenol and the shower had been long and hot the whole time, which was more than he could have hoped for at his now-vacant apartment.
Dressed in a robe like Harry's with gauze covering substantial portions of his skin, he sat down next to Harry who turned to him with expectation. Peter swallowed the medication and smiled ruefully at him.
"Can't promise much. But I'll do my best," he promised.
"We don't have to. I mean, do you want anything to eat first? I could order something. And I… Pete, is it okay to keep doing this? Now?" He was afraid to talk about it, but the terrifying prospect of what Lily's abrupt exit stage left had changed loomed in front of them. Instead of keeping them from being together, his relationship with Lily had evolved into something that drove him towards Peter. If nothing else, Peter was refuge, an excuse, a dream that Harry was beginning to delude himself might actually come true.
"It's fine Harry," Peter said, letting the robe fall off of his shoulders. "Everything is fine, really. I'm good, I'm… are you sure this is a good idea?" He gulped nervously. "You've just had a pretty large emotional shock. Maybe you should take time before we get into this. Get things emotionally sorted out before we…"
"Before we what?"
"Go making another emotional mess."
"Is that was this is? A mess?" Harry turned away, looking cross. "Pete, I want this. I need this to… I want to feel like there's still somebody left in this whole damn world who cares about me for some reason beyond money and connections and who my father was or what alimony I owe them. I want to feel like I'm worth something."
"Do you need me to tell you that?" Peter asked quietly.
"Will it make me weak if I say yes?" Harry turned back.
"Alright then," Peter nodded. "Alright." He pulled Harry to him and kissed him. The whole situation still had bad idea written all over it, but now that they were going down the road Peter wasn't sure how they could stop. Harry had already pulled out the mask again. Who knew what he might do if he collapsed completely? It was an unpleasant weight to think that Harry's well-being rested on his consent, that if he didn't show interest in Harry sexually, he might lose him as anything, even as a friend, altogether.
"Sorry," Harry groaned. "I'm selfish. I'm sorry. I'm trying…" He pushed against Peter's chest. "Maybe you should go. I need to think about this. I need to…"
"Are you sure?"
"I'm not sure of anything." He got up and started to pace. "There are things I want to ask but I'm so afraid of the answers. And I'm uneasy but that's better than disappointment. You know?"
"Maybe the people you want to ask don't know the answers either," Peter responded. "And maybe everything is just as confusing to them." He walked up behind him and took his waist. "Give it time and…"
"And what? We can pretend Lily never happened? My father will disappear out of my life forever?" You'll love me?
"And things will get better. I swear." His hands slipped away and his hastily put on some spare clothes Harry had set out. He was gone while Harry was still standing stock still. And when he'd vanished, Harry sighed.
"Get better. Sure."
Peter was all geared up to go with Reed, double checking his equipment. The call had been a surprise, but he welcomed it as something to do – and a way to get paid, now that Vin wasn't helping with the rent. But as he climbed onto the window ledge, he heard his phone click and start recording a message. For a moment he hesitated, and a slurred voice came through.
"Peeeete?" Harry's voice, Peter realized. Shit. "Pete, think I did somethin' stupid… Gotta help me, Pete… Pete, please…"
Sighing, he crawled back inside and started to take of the costume. He would have to call Reed, whom he was sure was going to be disappointed. But there were some things, some people he felt responsible for, and Harry was quickly becoming the first among them.