Peter kept a list in his head: Worst Days Of My Life. First up was the day Uncle Ben died...and he hoped with all his heart that nothing would beat that. Second was the day in which Mary Jane Watson and eleven other people almost died and Norman Osborn actually did. The day he'd told Mary Jane he couldn't love her also came pretty high up on the list, as did that one day in high school where he'd been beaten up and had his books dropped in the toilet.
The 29th of May, a year or so after this whole superhero thing had come to its terrible start- came fairly high up on the list. Looking back, he supposed he shouldn't be surprised; he'd lost Mary Jane's love, why shouldn't he lose Harry's love as well? Not that he'd known Harry loved him- that revelation would come later- but it seemed at the time like a voice- probably the voice of fate itself- was laughing hysterically and saying 'Why should anyone love you when you clearly can't love them?'
It was true, which was the hard part. Of course, he'd always known it was true, but he hated to be reminded. It seemed cruel, and cruel not only to him.
Well, he knew already; fate itself was pretty cruel.
That day -the 29th- was the day Harry had invited Peter out to dinner. A fairly nice restaurant, one Peter probably wouldn't be able to afford eating in himself. Harry was all smiles when he sat down, but Peter knew in advance what this day was going to be like. First Harry would grill him about Spider-Man, make absolutely sure Peter knew nothing that could be of any help- and then, when that was over, they would talk about more casual things. Sometimes they spoke about Mary Jane. Peter wasn't sure if Harry still harboured any resentment over who MJ had chosen- he didn't think so, but he didn't want to ask.
There were a lot of things he didn't want to ask Harry; he was afraid of what he might find out.
They talked, their food came, they started eating it, and (to cut a long story short) Harry got drunk, later on. Peter cursed himself for not paying closer attention to how much he was drinking. At least Harry would be driven home, instead of having to drive himself. Harry didn't really do, though, what most people Peter knew did when they got drunk - Harry, instead of getting loudmouthed and angry, just retreated into himself and was quiet and depressed. He picked at his food, and then said, "Are you in love with MJ, Peter?"
"Yeah," Peter said, avoiding his eyes.
Well, what could he say to that? He could list all the reasons, every single little detail about her, he hair, her smile...her kiss.
"I just do," he said.
Harry ran his hand along his mouth and stared at him, and Peter read the stare. All he could think of was Oh no. And then, Oh yes. He does. And now things will never be the same again.
Brilliant. Should've seen it coming, really. It's not fair, on me or on him! And now things will never be the same again.
"You're always thinking about her.." Harry said, and Peter wondered if his guess about what was coming was correct. "Your aunt said...you called her an angel."
"Yeah," Peter said, blushing involuntarily.Why her? Why him? Had he made a choice somewhere along the line, or not?
"You always said she was an angel...and you're not in heaven, you see?" Harry leaned forwards and their lips met.
Peter sighed inwardly and let him get on with it.
The next morning he was sitting on the bed when the phone rang. He knew beyond all shadow of a doubt who it was going to be.
"Peter!" came Harry's voice, now sounding very sober. "I'm sorry. I have to say that first. I'm so, so sorry."
Peter sighed. He leaned against the wall. "It's alright."
"You're not offended? You don't hate me?"
He sounded like a child. They both did. "No, I don't hate you."
"Well...good," Peter could picture Harry right now- he'd be standing by the window, running his hand anxiously through his hair. "I didn't mean to..."
Peter decided to cut him off there. "I know you didn't mean it, and I think...I think you need someone, you know? You need someone to be with...it's just not me."
"I'm sorry," Peter said, wondering how that had happened.
"No, you're right," came Harry's voice. "I just feel like such an idiot..."
"I don't hate you. We'll pretend this never happened, alright?"
"Alright," said Harry, but he sounded almost tearful now. He hadn't cried in ages, surely...not since his father died, at least.
"Maybe I should go now. I'm sure you're busy..." Harry said.
At least this was a normal problem, though. At least he wasn't saving crowds of people from an armed gunman, or preventing a car crash, or dragging people from burning buildings. At least there were no lives at stake here.
"Harry," he suddenly said urgently. "Don't...do anything stupid."
"Like what?" Harry answered, puzzled. He sounded perfectly normal now, they could be having a conversation about almost anything, all the things they used to talk about before reality (or something like it) had intervened.
"Just...don't. For what it's worth-" He took a deep breath without realising he was doing it. "I do love you. Just not like that. Not like that at all. But you are my best friend."
Silence. And more silence.
Why did he get the feeling he'd just added more fuel to the fire?
"I know. Thanks," Harry said. He said it very quickly -Iknowthanks. Then he hung up. Peter looked at the phone.
It was a very cheap cell phone. He'd bought it only a few weeks ago, finally deciding that if he wanted to stay in touch with anyone, he needed to be more contactable. All the same, he could have used the money for clothes or books, not that he didn't have enough, but it would be nice, to buy something once in a while that was purely for...
...he couldn't save both Harry and all the other people who needed saving. He'd made that choice a long time ago.
All he could do was to hope Harry could save himself.
I'm sorry, Harry. I'm so sorry. If it was up to me I wouldn't leave you on your own, but I have no choice now.
Sirens wailed on and on outside.
Harry stood by the window. He was still holding the phone. Eventually, moving almost automatically, he went over to the desk and put it down there, on top of a huge pile of newspaper clippings.
You love him more than he loves you.
He sometimes heard voices in his head. It was nothing too unusual. Sometimes it was his father's voice, sometimes it was something else. At the moment, it was the something else.
Isn't it a tragedy? The man you loves loves the woman you love. And not you.
"I don't love her anymore."
Yes you do.
"No, I don't. I love Peter, and so does she."
You don't know what you want. You keep thinking that in an ideal world you would have them both, don't you?
It did indeed shut up, which came as somewhat of a surprise. Harry took the time to wonder how exactly he had got here. Only a few months ago he'd been in love with Mary Jane, and thought she was all he needed, and now he was here in love with Peter and clearly being...gay. Ha ha ha.
There was very little that was funny about this situation.
I raised you to be strong enough to take what you wanted. Or I thought I did. Take what you want. And you can take her as well.
That was definately his father's voice.
Be strong. You can have him. You love him...and love will find a way, Harry. But the voice was laughing now, twisting up, laughing at him.
What do you want from him, Harry? The things you don't have? Love? As in real love? Or sex?
Peter didn't...have a sex. He just didn't. Harry could not picture Peter having sex. With anyone.
Of course, Peter himself might have a different opinion.
If you looked hard enough, you'd easily find the power to take him, and keep him...what are you afraid of? Him? Not likely.
"Oh for Pete's sake, leave me alone."
For Pete's sake? Ha! Isn't that funny, Harry? Isn't that funny?
The day was over before it even began. Peter, as Spider-Man, sat on top of a gargoyle and looked at Harry's house.
You don't really love me. You're just lost and confused. We all are.
Admittedly lost and confused love is better than no love at all, but...I'm sorry.
He went away into the night.