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Who Stands With You

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               Happy wouldn’t have believed how fast a conversation could shift from picking a romantic label to choosing a safehouse so quickly, but it happens in two seconds flat when J. Jonah Jameson’s stupid mustached face fills May’s TV screen with a load of crap, swiftly followed by the verbal heart attack that is the reveal of Peter’s identity on national television. May gasps as the same school picture that sits on her mantle splashes across the screen; Happy just feels sick. After all Peter has gone through—after everything they’ve all gone through—it’s insult to injury.

               Happy spends the next ten minutes on the phone with Peter, half talking him down from the blinding panic he’s swiftly descending into and half feeding him directions to the nearest Stark-owned safehouse. May packs her and Peter’s bags while he does. A few changes of clothes, a few toiletries despite Happy’s assurances that every safehouse on his list is kept fully-stocked, and as many of the Parkers’ most treasured possessions as May can fit into two suitcases—just in case they don’t get to come back. He doesn’t mention that possibility directly, but the drawn look on May’s face as she lingers an extra few seconds by the array of family photos that covers her hallway says she’s already landed on that conclusion herself. Still, she squares her jaw and takes his hand when he offers it. Happy can’t say he’s surprised. But that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

               The conversation of a few moments ago is all but forgotten as Happy shoulders the bags and hustles them down the back staircase to his car. He shoves it to the back burner for later and throws his concentration into choosing a place to run to, cataloguing the rest of the phone calls he has to make once Peter is fully accounted for, running down his mental list of other potential victims of whatever blowback comes from that video clip. It’s still important, he feels that in his gut the same way he did when he found himself blurting out the L-word in front of a bunch of teenagers—but it can wait. Must wait, until May and Peter are safe, and there’s less risk of any of Spider-Man’s old foes bearing down on them while they’re still sitting ducks. Prioritizing has long ago become one of Happy’s strong suits, and it doesn’t fail him now, no matter the effect that having May’s hand in his has on him.

               May reaches for the phone when she hands him the bags, and Happy has no qualms about passing it over because the brittle edge of Peter’s voice worries him and keeping him on the line suddenly seems more important now that it would be otherwise. There’s a sudden uptick in volume and an explosion of shaky chatter from the other end of said line as soon as May opens her mouth, but with enough reassurances in that calm, steady voice of hers, Peter seems to settle.

               “—yes, we’re headed straight for you. Uh-huh, I’ll make sure someone calls Ned’s mom just to be safe. No, no, I’m fine, sweetheart—” There’s a weighted pause before the addition that sets Happy to fidgeting with the steering wheel as they careen through Queens. “—Happy’s here.”

               Happy isn’t quite sure what to make of it. He can feel May’s eyes on him as they merge into traffic, sizing him up as if she hasn’t really seen him until now. He supposes she hasn’t. They’ve seen plenty of each other in the last few months, but it’s all been…fluff. Flirting at one another over giant checks and sharing work lunches, quiet dinners at cozy little restaurants where nothing more dangerous than a bad tip ever happens and equally quiet nights in (only at Happy’s apartment, to avoid the Peter problem) full of easy conversation and good wine and the sensation that the world and its problems were too far away to be of any consequence. It was easy being friends—or partners or a summer fling or whatever they were—then, with no storms on the horizon and no trouble on the radar. But now the storms were here.

It’s a little weird for both of them, he supposes, seeing as how they’ve never weathered a crisis together. Happy’s whole life tends to be one great big crisis, so he isn’t unaccustomed to going through the motions needed to muscle through one—particularly a Peter crisis, given how many of those he’s been pulled into since Germany. He knows May’s life hasn’t been any easier, given not only the profession she’d held before the Snap with all those hairy nights manning the ER or the charity she now spearheaded, but the losses she’d withstood and—most notably—the endearing menace of a nephew she’d raised. Neither one of them was new to trouble.

But that was the thing about crises…each one varied according to who stood with you through them.

Whatever either of them had been through before, Happy had the uneasy feeling that this was going to be a whole different sort of ride.

Not that that made one iota of difference.

“Thank you for doing this,” May murmurs over the roar of the engine as Happy guns it to beat a stoplight. She holds the phone loose against one shoulder when Peter puts her ‘on hold’ for a bit of more complicated swinging and gives Happy a long look that pierces him clear through. “This whole…taking-us-on-the-run thing.”

               “Of course. Whatever you two need, I’m…I’m here.” And he leaves it at that as he glances over with a resolute nod, letting his eyes linger on hers as long as road safety allows. And perhaps a split second longer, because he truly hopes May understands without him having to voice it. He isn’t good at voicing things. Never has been. But the Parkers—whatever they are to him in technical terms—are part of the very limited circle he holds close. The people he would live and die for. Whatever happens from here, with May, with Peter, with all the madness and mayhem and utterly exasperating levels of nonsense that come with the life they’ve all been thrown into…he’s going to be there as long as they need him.