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count the windows to your fire escape

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Harley wakes slowly.

The sunlight filters in between the blinds, leaving streaks of gold across the hardwood floor of their apartment. Dust floats in the air like shining pinpricks of bright, sparkling stars in what Harley’s starting realise is the midday sun.  

Flings out an arm across the other side of the bed in his sleep-fogged haze, and it’s when he doesn’t accidentally-on-purpose hit the other body that’s usually beside him that he wakes up proper. He blinks his eyes open, slate grey-blue with the unique exhaustion that comes with being a mechanical engineering working for Stark Industires. Twists around to pick up his work phone on the bedside table. Takes a brief look at the myriad notifications underneath the damning 13:03 and promptly flings it down the bed. He can already feel it vibrating with another message between the covers.

It’s his day off. Fuck the phone.

Their day off, and Peter’s nowhere to be found.

If Harley was any less of a morning person than he already isn’t, early afternoon as it is, he would’ve noticed by now the faint sound of music playing throughout the apartment. Hozier drifting softly from the where the record player sits in their hallway by the kitchen back to the bedroom.

It takes him another fifteen minutes to roll out of bed. Runs a hand through his hair in order to bring it under some semblance of control, despite it being a futile effort. Shrugs a t-shirt on that from the sandalwood smell of it is actually Peter’s. Trails a hand along the wall as he pads down the hallway, eyes skimming over the plethora of family photos they’ve gathered over the years. Harley’s favourite—by far—is the one of he, Morgan, and Peter, crowded together in the frame as if the confines of the photographs were too small to contain them. Harley has one arm looped around Peter’s waist, the other in the process of fist bumping Morgan, dressed to the nines for her university graduation, the bachelors degree held aloft in Peter’s hand like the holy grail. The thing that gets him about it is the look on Peter’s face. Looking at the two of them like they hung all the stars in the sky and—Harley’s gotten used to it, sure, they’ve been together for years—but it never fails to make him short of breath, the sheer amount of love shining in those honey-caramel eyes.

There’s another one, from a lifetime ago, of him and Abby and their mom, that sits in pride of place at his desk in the office, right beside the picture of his and Peter’s own graduation, three years ago.

Harley stops in the hallway, just before the threshold of the kitchen. Peter is facing away from him, standing at the counter messing with what’d be an overkill of scrambled eggs and bacon if he wasn’t Spider-Man. Take a moment just to watch before making his way over.

“What’re you doin’ in my kitchen, darlin?” He says, winding his arms around Peter’s stomach, dropping his chin on his boyfriend’s shoulder.

“Last time I checked,” Peter replies, and it’s the way he unhesitant leans back into Harley’s chest that get’s Harley, every time. “Both of our names were on the lease.”

Harley laughs in the curve of Peter’s neck. “Last time I checked, we both agreed you and your non-existent cooking skills weren’t allowed in here.”  

Peter doesn’t reply straight away, and in Harley’s sleep-hazed brain it takes a while for it to click, how unusual that is for him not to quip back right away. By the time it finally does he’s all but dozing hooked over Peter’s shoulder, swaying the both of them gently to the sound of Hozier’s Irish croon of ‘cause my baby’s sweet as can be, she gives me toothaches just from kissin’ me.

“Peter?” He murmurs, lifting his head. “You alright in there?”

It takes a second, but then Peter’s blinking back at him with a small smile spreading across his face, like an early morning sunrise, soft and surprising in it’s beauty.

“Yeah, baby,” he says, twisting his head to brush a kiss across Harley’s cheekbone. “Never better.”

Harley hums, a nonsensical sound to encourage Peter to explain. Peter turns his focus back to the frying pan. Poke’s uselessly at the mass of eggs with the bright pink spatula MJ had gotten them as a house-warming gift for reasons that Harley still isn’t sure of.

Harley plucks the spatula out of Peter’s hand. “How did you manage to burn these already?”

“I just really love you, you know?”

“I love you, too,” Harley replies automatically, setting the spatula on the bench. “That was random.”

“Not really.”

“A little bit, darlin’.”

“Maybe a little bit,” Peter agrees, twisting around and twining his arms around Harley’s neck. “Doesn’t make it any less true.”

“No,” Harley says, eyes flickering over the soft and content look on Peter’s face. “I suppose not.”

“It’s just—”

Peter cuts himself off, but Harley knows. Harley knows. Because it’s the same thing he’s thinking about. They fit like a puzzle piece. Have ever since Tony introduced them and decided that the world could handle the unique chaos the two of them had the potential to cause. Harley doesn’t believe in soulmates but Christ, if he did—he’d be Peter’s and Peter would be his. The world doesn’t deserve Peter Parker and that’s the truth. But Harley will be forever grateful for him, the fact that they met on a Tuesday afternoon, the fact that even now, years and years later on yet another fateful Tuesday, he’s bursting at the seams with it, this all-encompassing, hard-to-put-into-words love they have for another.

“I know,” he says, instead, hand running up Peter arms to cup his jaw.

Peter raises an eyebrow. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Harley dips his head to press a kiss to the corner of Peter’s mouth, easy as anything. “I love you so much I don’t know what to do with myself.”

It comes out a soft, tender admission, mumbled against Peter’s lips. The agreeing hum from the back of Peter’s throat switches into a drawn-out moan halfway through when Harley catches his teeth on Peter’s bottom lip. It goes like that for a while, making out against the kitchen counter like when they were teenagers, trading lazy kisses in the early afternoon sun as the eggs get overcooked beside them.

Harley drifts back to reality with Peter’s hands tangled in his hair and the smell of burnt bacon in his nose.

“Love me enough even though I burn everything I touch?” Peter grins cheekily up at him.

“And then some, darlin’,” Harley replies. “C’mon, I’ll makes us a late breakfast.”

“Coffee?”

Harley leaves one last, lingering kiss on Peter’s lips. “You’re the best.”

And as Peter moves away to make then coffee, and Harley takes over the sad excuse of scrambled eggs on the stovetop, he thinks, yeah, this, always.