Flash knew he shouldn’t have thought what he did when he saw the nerdiest kid in school, but damn the boy was cute. With curly brown hair and doe brown eyes and the biggest heart and endless intelligence. It really wasn’t Flash’s fault for finding himself with a mild crush on his classmate.
He knew he was gay. He’d known for a very long time, but it’d been easy enough to keep a secret when he’d never seen someone that caught his eye. It’d been easy enough to pretend to think girls were attractive to him and that boys were just boys and not crushes.
But then, on a dreary autumn morning, he’d seen Peter Parker wearing a dorky outfit and thick glasses and carrying a stack of books in his arms, a ratty backpack slung loosely over his shoulders, and laughing at something his friend had said.
It really wasn’t Flash’s fault for his crush, he blames Peter entirely.
He wants to be Peter’s friend. He just hasn’t worked up the courage to talk to the boy in his AP Chemistry and English. He doesn’t know how.
But all of his long-distance pining comes to an end one day when his father picks him up after school.
He sees Peter sitting on the front steps of the school with Ned, a stack of books at his feet and glasses crooked on his nose, looking just as pretty as ever in the afternoon sunlight to Flash.
“Don’t cross paths with those kinds of people,” his father says. Flash hates the way he stresses Those Kinds like Peter is less than them.
Outside, Peter laughs, bright and innocent at something Ned says.
“Of course not,” Flash agrees because he doesn’t quite know what to say.
“What a fag,” his father mutters before they’re peeling out of the parking lot and away from the school.
Flash doesn’t know how to do anything but agree, shame filling him to the brim.
His father’s never hit him, has never laid a hand on him, but the way he shouts, the disappointment in his eyes when he sends Flash up to his room, the shame.
It feels worse than a punch would.
Something inside him snaps when he sees Peter one day, riddled with guilt over his hidden secret and angry because his father shouted at him for hours the night before.
He shoves Peter when they’re walking down the stairs out of school.
He’ll never forget the sad and confused expression from Peter, rubbing his bleeding palms and staring up at Flash, making Flash feel like he kicked a puppy.
But his father smiles at him when he gets into the car, congratulating him for putting the freak in his place.
Is it worth it? No, he shouldn’t be so selfish as to ruin another kid’s life just to get his father’s approval. That’s not who he is. But he doesn’t care. His mother will be home in just a few days and all hell will break loose.
He’s right, of course he was.
As soon as his mother arrives home, the shouting begins once again.
“I can smell the cologne on you!” his father shouts, grabbing his mother’s discarded jacket off the back of the couch. “You were seeing another man!”
“You’re just jealous because I’m the only woman who would ever be with you!” his mother screams back, ripping the jacket out of his hands. “And I didn’t sleep with anyone! I went to an office party!”
“Like I’d believe any of your lies,” his father snarls. “And for your information, I could get any woman I want! I saw somebody just a few weeks ago!”
There’s the echoing noise of shattering glass, probably his mother throwing another dish. “You saw another woman?! Probably some drunk twenty-something-year-old slut you dragged to bed in exchange for a couple hundred bucks, right? You don’t deserve me!”
“I don’t deserve you?! You don’t deserve anything!”
The shouting is endless. Almost always escalating to throwing things, slamming doors, and Flash cleaning up the mess left behind.
Flash knows he can’t take out his pent-up anger on Peter, but the last thing he needs right now is for his family to find out about his crush on the nerdy dork from his high school. The last thing he needs is for them to find out he’s gay.
No matter how much Flash tries, Peter won’t hate him. He won’t fight back. He won’t shout at him or call him out or punch him. He just takes all of it with so much ease. He’ll listen to the words Flash throws at him and he’ll pick his glasses up off the floor and wince at yet another crack in the lenses. But he never fights back.
And no matter how hard Flash tries, his crush on Peter won’t fade away like he hoped it would.
Every time he sees the dork in his AP Chemistry or in English, his heart skips a couple beats and his breath hitches because somehow, every single day, Peter manages to look wonderful and smart and nerdy and cute and beautiful. And every single day, Flash has to endure two hours of trying not to stare.
He took it too far.
He knew it would happen eventually.
Tired of all the fighting happening in his home, including his father going as far as inviting his new fling over to make Flash’s mother jealous which ended in Flash driving the woman home and his father to the hospital to stitch up his hand where a shard of plate had cut him open when his mother threw it.
He knew he’d be angrier than usual and he knew he’d take it out on Peter for looking so fucking pretty in spring colours, hair tousled and messy.
“Stop- please- I can’t-” Peter’s sitting on the floor, head between his knees as he tries to get his breathing under control. There are tears staining his flushed cheeks and his hands won’t stop shaking, nearly as badly as his shoulders when a sob is pulled from his throat.
Flash reaches out to comfort the teenager, but Peter flinches harshly away from the hand, nearly smacking his head into the lockers behind him, and Flash pulls his hand away like it was burned.
“I’m sorry- I’m- I’m sorry,” Flash tries, guilt welling up inside him like it always does.
He locked Peter in a locker. It was supposed to be just another thing, like he always does. Something to take the edge off his anger and to make his feelings a little less intense. But Peter had started to cry when he’d gotten the door closed. And by the time Flash was able to open the lock again, Peter had already fallen pretty deeply into a panic attack.
Ned’s sick and Peter doesn’t really have any other friends to Flash’s knowledge, so either Flash leaves him totally alone or he stays.
“I’m sorry. I- I didn’t know- I didn’t-” Flash tries again, hands hovering uselessly in the air between them as Peter continues to steady his breathing carefully.
“Go. Please. Just- I- I just- I can’t- Please go.”
That answers his question for him. Flash isn’t about to push more than he already has, so he apologizes a few more times as he backs out of the room.
“I can’t do this anymore!” Flash shouts over the chaos between his parents.
“This isn’t for you to deal with, Eugene,” his father spits, barely looking over at him.
His father’s never been anything but angry with him, so Flash might as well push it over the edge, right?
“I’m gay,” Flash says, clenching his jaw and fists, trying not to let the emotions show on his face. He repeats it, more confidently to their shocked and confused faces, “I’m gay.”
He touches the swollen, purple skin around his eye, wincing at the spike of pain. He dabs away the blood on his split lip, frowning at his reflection in the dark window of a closed shop.
His parents finally agreed on something. Flash can’t really count that as a win, considering now he’s wandering the streets of Queens by himself in the middle of the night, nowhere to go.
No home. No family. Nothing.
Just his own shame and guilt.
The tears start falling before he can think to stop them, slipping down his cheeks and mixing with the blood on his lip.
A squeal of tires catches his attention and a sleek, black car pulls up on the sidewalk beside him. His first thought is that he’s getting kidnapped or mugged or murdered, just to add the cherry on top of the godawful day.
But then Peter fucking Parker steps out of the car, eyes wide and worried, reaching out towards Flash.
“Are you okay? What happened to you?” the younger boy asks with the kind of wide-eyed innocence Flash would hate to ruin. “Were you jumped?”
Flash can’t help but roll his glassy eyes. After everything, Peter still cares. “It’s nothing, Peter.”
A smile somehow spreads across the younger boy’s face.
“You called me Peter,” he murmurs before quickly snapping out of it. “Do you need a ride home? You live nearby, don’t you?”
“No,” Flash says. “I don’t live anywhere.”
He tips his head to the side in confusion, bambi eyes wide with concern. “What do you mean?”
“I got kicked out,” Flash admits. He gestures to his face carelessly. “My father’s doing.”
Peter’s face falls and before Flash knows it, he’s being gently nudged into the black car.
There are two men sitting in the front seats. Flash is too tired to try to introduce himself so he lays his head against the cool window and finds solace in the warm fingers on his forearm, grounding him.
The car pulls away and soon, they’re parking outside a shabby apartment near the heart of Queens. Peter’s place probably.
“C’mon,” he says, voice warm and low. “You can have my bed for tonight, I’ll take the couch. We can figure out what to do in the morning.”
Peter gets out of the car, but before Flash has the mind to follow, the man in passenger turns around, revealing Tony Stark.
“Hey, kid,” Tony says softly. “Your dad did that to you?”
Flash nods wordlessly, touching his swollen eye with cold fingers.
The hero nods like this is just what he expected. “I don’t do the whole heart to heart thing, but I get it. My dad never said he loved me, never even said he liked me. I would take out my anger on the people around me and on myself. I hurt a lot of people before I realized I needed to break the cycle.”
“This was the first time,” Flash finds himself admitting. “He’s never hit me before.”
Tony offers a sympathetic smile. “What did you do? Forget to do the dishes? Failed a test?”
“Came out as gay.”
The words hang in the air, heavy and wrong.
“I’m sorry, kid.”
Flash sits down on the edge of Peter’s bed. His room is exactly how he imagined it to be. Nerdy and dorky and small.
“You can sleep here for tonight,” Peter says, collecting some extra blankets from the top shelf in his closet. Flash hates that he watches Peter’s shirt lift and show off his pale slender hips. “I’ll take the couch.”
Flash wants to say that it wouldn’t be fair, after Everything. But he’s too tired to argue.
Peter’s suddenly there, kneeling down in front of him, eyes wide and soft and brown like coffee, small warm hands on his knees, worry seeping out of him.
“Are you okay?”
How is Flash supposed to answer that?
He’s spent two years bullying the teenager in front of him to hide his own sexuality. He’s made the boy cry more times than he can count. He made him have a panic attack. How is any of that okay?
And yet, at the end of it all, Peter’s the only one here for him, the only one he has.
How is that okay?
Flash’s voice is hollow. “I don’t know.”
“That’s okay too,” Peter murmurs. He moves away from the bed, back to the closet and pulls out a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. He pushes them into Flash’s hands and offers another one of his gentle smiles.
“You don’t need to apologize,” Peter says, voice soft as ever, like a blanket settling over him. “It’s okay. I’m just glad you’re okay.”
“No, I’m sorry,” Flash repeats. He needs Peter to understand the amount of guilt that’s filling him up and making him sick to his stomach. “I’m so fucking sorry and I- I don’t know how I’ll ever make it up to you.”
“It’s okay,” Peter repeats, just as sincerely as before. “It’s okay. I forgive you. I just hope we can move on from that.”
Flash nods quickly, that’s the only thing he wants. He wants to forget about the past two years of hatred and fighting in favor of friendship.
“I’m gay,” Flash admits. He might as well. If Peter hates him for it, he might as well get it over with now. His head is murky and he’s tired. He doesn’t care about anything anymore.
But Peter smiles instead of all the other possibilities. “Hello, Gay. I’m Bi.”
And then he laughs, still quietly but full of so much life, Flash wishes he could have some of that life that Peter seems to have endless amounts of.
“Get some rest, Flash. Bathroom’s across the hall and I’ll be in the living room if you need anything.”
He’s never loved anyone, has never been loved before. His parents barely gave him a second thought, his friends are all just acquaintances, he’s only ever had one crush.
But he’s overcome right then and there, sitting in Peter’s bedroom and looking into Peter’s bambi eyes, that he loves him. He loves Peter Parker.
Walking into school, side by side with Peter, turns a lot of heads.
Flash is wearing Peter’s jeans and Peter’s shirt with a nerdy science pun written on the front and he smells like Peter’s shampoo and body wash, a mix of vanilla sugar and mango.
And Peter’s at his side, arms touching they’re walking so close together. The bruise on his eye is still there, still swollen, still a dark purple color, a reminder of what happened the night before.
But if he had to take a few punches to have the courage to apologize to Peter and to admit to himself that he loves him, then so what. He’d take a beating every day for the rest of his life if it means being allowed to walk the earth with Peter at his side.
“What are you doing?” Ned demands when they reach Peter’s locker.
Flash looks up, knowing he must look like shit, but Ned recognizes his jeans and shirt and the bruises on his face, and something must click.
“What happened?” he asks, a lot quieter. People seem to always want to talk to him quietly now.
“It’s nothing, Ned. Don’t worry about it,” Peter jumps in. “I’m going to go to the bathroom before class. I’ll be back in a few.”
The moment he’s turned the corner, Ned turns on him angrily.
“If you’re using him or if this is some fucking joke, I want you to back off right now. Peter’s too nice for his own good and he’s too naïve. So please, for the love of god, just leave him alone.”
“I’m sorry,” Flash says. He has a lot to apologize for, but he hopes this will be enough until he can get his thoughts straightened. “I don’t want to hurt him. I’m sorry.”
“What are you doing then? If you don’t want to hurt him, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
Flash doesn’t know how to answer without outing himself. “I’m sorry.”
“You sound like Peter, jesus, I don’t want an apology. I just want to know why. Yesterday, you called him more names than I can count and you locked him in a locker. And now you’re best buds? I don’t get it. And Peter’s my best friend, so I need to know why.”
“I got kicked out,” Flash whispers, eyes dropping to the floor, watching Ned’s tapping shoes. “My parents kicked me out and he- he let me stay with him… I- I’m sorry about everything.”
Ned’s face falls. “Oh. Jeez, Flash, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s- It’s whatever. I just- I’m sorry.”
“Do you mean that? Are you really sorry or are you just sorry because you need him?”
There’s a long few tense moments of silence before Flash admits it, panic and desperation engulfing him. He just needs to say it.
“I love him,” Flash blurts. “I- I’m gay and I- I’ve liked him for a really long time. I just- my parents and I- I-”
“You don’t have to explain, Flash,” Ned mumbles. “I believe you. You’re an honorary part of our Losers Club. But if you fuck anything up, that’s it, okay? Peter would forgive you in a heartbeat, but I have to protect him.”
Flash nods. He understands. He’s been hurting him for years, it’s fair that nobody will trust him. He doesn’t even deserve this much from this, let alone genuine friendship from them.
“Thank you,” he says before adding another. “I’m sorry.”
He wonders if he’ll ever stop being sorry.
He doubts it.
Peter’s a great friend. He’s genuine and sweet and forgiving and he’s always making jokes and smiling. (And he just looks so pretty and beautiful, wide bambi-brown eyes sparkling, tousled curls- Flash can’t help himself from staring.)
Ned’s hesitant and he watches Flash watch Peter as the younger boy laughs and reads and talks and does his homework and smiles and answers all the questions in class.
It’s different and everyone stares, but Flash is too busy staring at Peter to really notice any of it.
Flash stays at Peter and May’s apartment while he tries to sort everything out. He can’t go back home, he tried to call his mother, but she didn’t even bother to pick up the phone let alone pathetically listen to him plead.
He doesn’t really have a lot of family he can rely on. His father doesn’t really have any family, all of them alienated from their rich lifestyle, and his mother has one stepsister who has dual citizenship in both Canada and the US while pursuing her acting career.
He’d somehow have to convince her to move to Queens just for him to stay somewhere until he can graduate and live by himself.
Peter says she’ll say yes, of course she will, but even if she doesn’t, it’s not as though he’ll be back on the streets again. He’s allowed to stay with the Parker’s for as long as he needs to.
He could never be more grateful for what they’ve done for him.
“Hey,” Flash starts, sitting anxiously on the edge of Peter’s bed. They’ve been taking turns on the bed and couch after it turned into a more long-term thing. “It’s, um, it’s Flash.”
“Eugene,” he rephrases. “I go by Flash now.”
Tessa lets out a quiet laugh. “Don’t like the family name anymore?”
“I got kicked out,” Flash admits quietly. He knows this isn’t a good place to start, but Peter’s comforting and warm at his side, bambi-brown eyes a constant safe haven. “I came out as gay and they kicked me out.”
He’s found that the more he says it, the easier it is to say. He’s had one bad and one good experience. He doesn’t really care how Tessa reacts because either way, he has a place to stay here with Peter.
“Oh, hon, I’m so sorry. I thought my sister was better than that, but I guess not,” she says, an obvious eyeroll in her tone. “Your father, though, I didn’t expect much more than the worst. Do you need somewhere to stay? I’m in Toronto right now, but it’s only a few hours flight to get down to Queens.”
“Would you?” Flash asks, hating how pathetically young and small he sounds. Peter’s hand tightens in his.
“Yeah, of course, you shouldn’t have to go through something like this. That’s awful. Do you have somewhere to stay?”
Flash explains how he’s been staying with Peter for the past couple weeks and how he just needs someone a little more permanent, but that she can take her time since she’s moving her whole life just for him.
“I’ll get a flight down this weekend then, honey. No worries. I’ll let you know when I get there, okay? I love you, kiddo. I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Tessa says. “I’ve gotta go to talk to my manager, but I’ll book flights as soon as everything’s settled.”
“Thank you,” Flash murmurs. “I love you too.”
When he hangs up, he wants to say it to Peter too, who’s sitting right next to him, shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh, but he doesn’t. He settles for a simple thank you.
It felt like it was turning into an obsession.
I love you he’d think when Peter would get him breakfast before school.
I love you, on the tip of his tongue when Peter would smile and lean over to help him with their AP Chemistry homework.
I love you the only thing on his mind when Peter would laugh at his jokes and let him borrow his clothes and cover for him whenever his thoughts dragged him back to bed in the mornings before school.
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love-
He loves Peter Parker more than he can handle.
He meets Tony Stark for real the day before he’s supposed to be moving into his aunt’s new apartment which just so happens to be the building over from Peter’s.
Peter takes him to the tower to visit Tony who’s apparently been asking about him. It’s just for a few hours before he’s getting picked up by Tessa to start shopping for furniture.
“Hey, kiddos. It’s been a while since I’ve seen either of you,” Tony greets, sitting them down at the dining room table and opening up two boxes of pizza. “Everything going alright?”
“I’m moving in with aunt officially tomorrow,” Flash explains quietly, averting his eyes. Peter’s warm at his side, having dragged his chair a few inches over to sit shoulder to shoulder. “I couldn’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me-”
“I’ve said it a thousand times,” Peter says, softly and breath warm where it fans out against Flash’s shoulder when he turns his head. “You don’t need to thank me for this. It’s the least I could do.”
“I was awful to you.”
Peter shrugs like it’s no big deal. Like he hasn’t cried dozens of times because of Flash, like he hasn’t sported bruises Flash gave him, like Flash hasn’t caused panic attacks and breakdowns in the school hallways.
“You were trying to protect yourself; I understand why you did what you did. I did some pretty awful things after my uncle… And anyways, you’ve apologized, and I forgave you,” Peter says, offering a smile, looking pretty and eyes sparkling, so close to Flash, all he can think about is Peter’s warm breath and trusting bambi-brown eyes.
He wants to kiss him. He wants to say the words aloud.
I love you, he thinks. I love you, I love you, I love you.
Flash moves in with Tessa in the apartment across the alley from Peter.
They walk to and from school together, they hang out at Peter’s apartment after school, they go to Academic Decathlon together, they even hang out on weekends frequently.
And Peter with his sparkling wide bambi-brown eyes and his tousled curly hair and the biggest heart and endless intelligence, has all of Flash’s love.
Flash wouldn’t want it any other way.
I love you.
I love you too.