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Black, White, and Red All Over

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"Harry! Stay with us, Harry. Just hold on. Just a little longer, I promise."

That's Harmony's voice.

She sounds upset. He should do something about that. He doesn't like making Harmony upset.

His body isn't quite under his control, though. He doesn't know where he is. All he can see is white. He hears sirens. Did he get arrested again? Shit. Perry's going to be so mad. He promised Perry he wouldn’t do any more stupid shit and get arrested.

Did he steal something? That doesn’t sound right. He doesn’t steal anymore, at least, not for money. For Perry, yeah, he does the occasional B&E to grab evidence, maybe pick a few pockets along the way. He’s good at that. It’s why Perry keeps him around. Probably the only reason Perry keeps him around.

Harry knows he’s not good for much. His whole life has been a testament to that. He wants it to be different this time. He’s not sticking around because he likes LA. LA sucks balls. He hates LA, but he likes working with Perry. For Perry, technically. Perry’s always quick to correct him on that. He has it good and he wants to keep that going because he likes...

He likes...

Harmony's voice fades out. He's moving. There's a rattle of metal and a bump. The world around him dips, then levels. Weird. Usually when he’s drunk the world starts spinning but this is nothing like that. Was he drugged? No, he doesn’t do drugs. Smoke, yes. Drink, yes. The hard stuff, not his jam.

His consciousness blips out again. When he comes back, there are white lights flashing past him. Above him. He’s in a tunnel, maybe. It feels like a tunnel. Or a long hallway. Could be a hallway.

So much white. Too bright. If there’s a light at the end of this tunnel, can someone turn it down? It’s making his head hurt.

Not just his head. Everything hurts.

He zones out. Blip.

Frantic voices. The smell of blood and antiseptic. Clatter of metal on metal. There’s something in his mouth. He feels warm and cold at the same time. He sees red. Bright, dripping red.

Blip.

A loud, shrill noise. It drowns out the people talking, screaming over them with urgency. It demands to be listened to. Sound the alarm, this one’s a goner or will be real soon.

Blip.

Is he dying? Is this what dying feels like?

Blip.

Silence. Nothing.

Blip.

They say your whole life flashes before your eyes when you die, like some highlight reel of your best moments. That's bullshit. Harry doesn’t get a highlight reel. What he gets is a rewind, a playback on how he got here, on this operating table, bleeding out from three bullet holes in his abdomen.

It starts with a girl. Stories always say that. It’s always about the girl, and in his case, yeah, that’s technically true. The girl being Harmony aka the reason he stayed in LA instead of getting on that plane back to New York like anyone with real common sense would when their life’s in danger. If it wasn’t for the girl, he’d have all his fingers.

But this story isn’t about the girl. Not really. Yeah, she’s why he stayed in LA those few extra days, but the reason he’s here now? The reason he’s on this table? That story starts with a boy. Man, actually, if we’re being technical. A very gay man who goes by Perry. Harry doesn’t know Perry’s real name, just his made-up PI name but whatever, it’ll do, at least for this tale.

Perry got a case. Perry does that. He’s a PI, it’s what people pay him for and, subsequently, what Harry gets paid for. Look at him, using big words. Subsequently. It’s Perry’s fault. Him and his big... vocabulary.

Right, the case.

It starts off as a real tear-jerker, hitting right in the feels in time for Christmas. Dying father wants to reconnect with his gay son and apologize for being a piece of shit father before shuffling off the mortal coil. Problem is, he hasn’t seen or spoken to his kid since kicking his son out of the house when he was a teenager and that was a good thirty years ago.

If you’re hoping for a happy ending to that story, there isn’t one. Turns out the kid died not long after he was kicked out. Drug overdose. Sucks. Perry donated all the money from the case to a shelter for LGBTQ youth. He thinks no one knows, but he left the donation receipt out on his desk.

How’d that seemingly open-and-shut case end up with lead rattling around in Harry’s chest? While the real Mike Shayne was rotting in the ground, the guy who’d given him the drugs he overdosed on was using Shayne’s identity to get a clean start away from the cartel he’d been running drugs for. How’d he finance his shiny new life? With money he stole from the cartel, of course.

So, Harry and Perry go looking for Mike Shayne, find the fake, accidentally lead the cartel goons who were also looking for fake Shayne right to him, gunfight ensues, Perry goes down from a blow to the head, and Harry.... Harry’s head is full of family nonsense and going out with no regrets. He’s got his sister and her family back East but as far as he knows, Perry might as well have sprung fully grown from his abusive father’s forehead and rode into town on a clamshell. Perry had acquaintances and a fair share of enemies but not a lot of friends.

Point is, Perry could have been that dead kid, buried and forgotten, and Harry can’t stand that. He wants to be Perry’s family. He wants to be more than that, honestly, ever since that searing kiss to fool the cops two years ago.

He likes Perry, possibly even loves Perry though he knows that’s a foolish endeavor that will end with a broken heart.

There. He’s said it.

He couldn’t let Perry be taken out by coked up thugs, so he’d grabbed Perry’s gun and held them off until Harmony led the police to them. Didn’t even feel the shots until he was being guided down onto a stretcher. His eyes were stuck on Perry’s prone form.

Perry better not be dead. He did this to save Perry and it’s wasted, his useless life is wasted if Perry had been dead the whole time. He chooses to believe that Perry survived. That it’s only a matter of time before he wakes up to find Perry at his bedside telling him-

“You’re an idiot.”

Harry blinks. Not what he was going for, but it’s a very Perry sentiment.

He turns his head to find Perry in a chair at his bedside. His eyes rove over the room, the beeping monitors, the bandages on his chest, Perry.

“Huh. Not dead.”

Perry rolls his eyes. “Of course you’re not dead, idiot. Would I be talking to you if you were dead?”

Harry starts to shrug and then winces, hissing in pain as it pulls his injuries.

“Don’t do that,” Perry says sternly. “You’re hurt.”

“But not dead.” He doesn’t want that to sound like a question but it kind of does.

Perry scowls. “Not for lack of trying. What the hell were you thinking?”

There are a lot of ways Harry could justify his actions. The whole thing about found family, not wasting a life, no regrets, all that. Hell, he could joke about it, say it’s payback for the time Perry took a bullet for him. His mouth has other plans. Instead of any of those perfectly reasonable arguments, what comes out of his mouth is....

“I love you.”

Perry stares at him, momentarily shocked. Then he blinks and deflates, pressing his hand against his forehead like dealing with Harry physically pains him. “I know.”

Those words take a second to work their way through his brain. “Did you just Star Wars me?”

Before Perry can answer, Harmony butts in, “Are you gay now, Harry?”

“Geebus!” Harry jolts, head whipping to his other side. His chest complains about the movement and he spends a few minutes gasping in pain.

“Sorry,” Harmony says, sheepish. She holds out a cup full of ice chips. “Ice?”

He nods and lets her feed him one. Once it melts, he asks, “How long have you been there?”

She grins. “Literally, the whole time. Well, the whole time you’ve been awake. I only got here a bit after two.”

“Fuck.” How did he not notice?

“Sometimes I start to reconsider how absolutely dumb you are, but then you do something like this.”

That right there would really hurt his feelings if he didn’t know Perry was joking. Maybe joking. Hopefully joking. “At least I’m cute?” He tries.

Perry sighs. Harmony pats his arm. “You’re very cute, Harry.”

Which brings him back to Harmony’s question. “Bi.”

Harmony’s eyes go wide. “You want us to leave?”

“No.” He shakes his head gently, trying not to aggravate his chest. “Earlier. You asked. Bi, not gay.”

“Oh,” Harmony says, drawing out the vowels. “Okay.”

He turns back to Perry. “Do you like me? Like, actually like me.”

Perry sighs again. It’s a long-suffering sound that Harry’s grown used to hearing. “Unfortunately.”

Harmony rattles the ice cup. He nods and lets her feed him another two chips before he works up the courage to ask, “Can we go on a date? Like, a real date. I haven’t done that since I was a kid. You know, dinner and a movie or something like that?”

Perry arches an eyebrow. “You want to go on a date with me?”

It sounds stupid when Perry says it. Juvenile. He deflates a little. “Maybe.”

“You know I’m not the dating type, right? That’s not what I do.”

Right. He’s seen the men Perry fucks around with. He doesn’t date. He barely even exchanges first names before using them and kicking them out the door. “Oh. Yeah. Forgot. So that’s a no then.”

He should have known better. He knows how Perry operates. He’s not even Perry’s usual type, not that he’s really narrowed down Perry’s type beyond male, breathing, and willing. Still, he knows better than to think he’s the kind of guy Perry’d want to settle down with, let alone date, but Harry’s not really a love-em-and-leave-em guy. Not usually.

“Fine,” Perry says, like they’ve been having an argument and Harry’d somehow worn Perry down. Except they haven’t which means Perry’s giving in because it’s something Harry wants and that, that feeling blossoming in his chest right now, that’s hope.

Harry smiles. “Oh. Okay. Cool.”

Harmony passes the ice chips to Perry. She jerks her thumb over her shoulder, toward the door. “I’m gonna go get a coffee. Perry, you want anything?”

“Coffee’d be good, yeah.”

Harry perks up. “Oh, can I-“

“No,” they both say in unison. Okay. A little scary there.

He opens his mouth but Perry shoves an ice chip in before he can speak. “Shut up and rest, idiot.”

He smiles around the ice and nods. At least he’s Perry’s idiot.