If he didn’t know any better, Harley would have thought that Peter was pissed about decorating for Valentine’s Day. He owed the president of the campus GSA a couple of favors, which she decided to use to make him decorate the rec room for the holiday. He suspected she was just out with her girlfriend, but it was something to do, and he’d asked Peter to come along and help.
“If you didn’t want to help, you could have said no.”
“I just mean, I wouldn’t care if you didn’t want to be here.”
Peter gave him an irritated look. “I don’t mind helping you out.”
“Obviously. And that’s why you’re staring at those streamers like they’ve personally offended you. Everything okay?”
Harley set down the poster he was about to tape to the wall and went to sit behind Peter who was twisting red and white streamers together so he could hang them from the ceiling and hooked his chin over Peter’s shoulder.
“What are you doing?”
He poked his side.
He poked him again, and he noticed the almost-smile on Peter’s face.
“Stop,” he whined.
“So stop moping,” Harley teased. “Seriously man, what gives?”
“Guess I’m just not as into it this year,” Peter admitted.
“You give couples a run for their money with how into Valentine’s Day you get.” Harley frowned. “Did something happen? Or someone happen?” He thought he knew everything about Peter, but he could always be wrong.
“I think I just burned myself out. It was bound to happen sooner or later.”
Harley nodded sympathetically. “If you want to go home, you can. I’m not going to make you stay and do something that bums you out.”
“And leave you alone? You need a spotter to get up on a ladder, Harley. If I leave you alone, I will be concerned for your safety.”
He didn’t want to say Peter was right, but he had a point, so he let it drop.
A few minutes later, Peter spoke back up. “Don’t you normally hate Valentine’s Day?”
“I mean, it’s no Halloween.”
“Yeah but like, you’re willingly decorating for a holiday I once heard you call ‘the worst stain on Hallmark Card Capitalism second only to Christmas’.”
Harley had called it that once. “Okay? I owed Liz a favor. It’s not like I chose how she called it in.”
“And you’re not bitching about it?”
“Do you have a point?”
Peter seemed to consider him carefully. “Did something happen to you? Someone? Are you a body double? Who are you and what have you done with my Harley?” he demanded.
“Okay, you’ve officially lost your marbles.”
“So something did happen.” Peter’s eyes widened. “A guy? Girl? Enby? Some combination of all three?”
Harley rolled his eyes. “I will have you know that I actually came to a revelation this past year.”
“No longer shall I moan and groan about all the sugar and sweetness I see walking down the street!”
Peter started laughing. “And why is that?”
“Self love is love too, bitch. I can buy myself candy and flowers and a stuffed animal and that’s just as good.”
“Can’t argue with that. Wanna tell me what prompted the attitude change?”
He raised an eyebrow. “There has to be an event? I can’t just reevaluate my outlook on life once in a while?”
“It’s a dramatic shift is all. Just curious if you had any inspiration.”
“Nope, just good old self care.”
Peter gave him a doubtful look, but he didn’t push it anymore. The decorations didn’t take too much longer, and they decided to walk to get coffee before catching a ride home.
Not that he would ever admit it, but there was absolutely a reason for his shift in attitude around Valentine’s Day. His biggest issue had never been the fakeness of the holiday, even though he totally complained about that more than once. Someone was probably keeping a running list of his pessimistic quotes about the holiday, but the ones he could remember were:
“Why are flowers considered a romantic gift? All they do is wilt and die. If they’re a metaphor for something, I have some serious questions.”
“Yes, because everyone wants an anatomically incorrect heart hanging somewhere on their body. That makes perfect sense.”
“So we’re just not going to talk about how Halloween is the official candy holiday? If you think about it, Valentine’s Day is a knock-off Halloween with worse lies.”
...yeah that last one had gotten a lot of shocked gasps from anyone who heard that. He stood by it.
The point is he had finally found the time to do some serious reevaluations of his life. People were starting to tell him he had serious problems with cynicism especially when it related to romance, and he couldn’t say he disagreed.
So he’d done the most logical thing he could in that situation.
Actually that’s a lie. He did the second most logical thing. The most logical thing would have been just going to therapy.
Instead he called MJ at 3 in the morning, crying his eyes out because he realized he wanted the kind of love that warranted flowers and candy and cheesy cards.
Worst of all, he realized that he wanted a particular someone to do all of it with.
She listened to the whole breakdown before telling him to hold on, and then she hung up. An hour later, she showed up at his door with a half gallon of lemon ice cream and strawberry licorice.
He felt a lot better after that.
Somehow, he got to the point where he accepted it. He started thinking about how if Peter could have a positive outlook on a romantic holiday no matter what his relationship status, he could too.
Self love is a perfectly valid form of love, he decided.
He even had a list of things he always wanted to get for Valentine’s Day pinned to the back of his bedroom door so he would remember to pick them up at the store.
- The biggest teddy bear he could find
- Dark chocolate
- Strawberry licorice
- Lemon ice cream
- A bouquet of roses
Puzzles and a new blanket were also tentatively etched at the bottom of the list. He’d decide when he got there.
The point is, he was ready to actually not be an ass about the holiday for once, and he was really proud of that.
Peter being less than enthusiastic was throwing all sorts of alarms his way.
Their conversation at the school was in direct contrast to how the two of them usually acted, and Harley was tempted to reach out again just to see if he needed anything.
He sighed and pulled his phone off his charger.
From Harley: hey, want to go valentines shopping with me and see if we can’t find anything that’ll cheer you up?
Typing bubbles popped up almost immediately.
From Peter: not scared I’ll bring you down?
From Harley: the goal is literally to make you not bitchy, I think we’ll be fine
From Peter: when and where?
From Harley: tomorrow after your last class gets out. I’ll drive
“What the hell are we supposed to be getting?” Peter asked as he landed in the passenger’s seat.
“You don’t have a list of shit you always wanted someone to get you for Valentine’s Day?”
Harley refused to meet his eye. “Obviously.”
“Oh my god, don’t tell me you’re a closeted romantic.”
“Hey now, I was a lotta things in the closet, but a romantic wasn’t one of them.”
Peter snorted. “Holy shit, I never knew you actually liked the idea of romance.”
“Why wouldn’t I like romance?”
“Harley, honey, as long as I have known you, any time someone has even thought about mentioning something about love, you start being all doom and gloom about it.”
“I resent that.”
“I don’t have to deal with this. Get out of my car, I’m not taking you with me anymore.”
Peter locked the doors. “This is Tony’s car, I’m not doing shit. And I am coming with you because I feel like I’ve lost all grasp on reality now that I know you’re secretly fucking adorable.”
“That is categorically untrue, I am the most adorable person you’ll ever meet. It’s not a secret.”
He rolled his eyes. “Are you gonna fucking drive us somewhere or not?”
“Pushy.” Harley put the car in reverse and started on the route to their first stop. “Do you want me to tell you where we’re going?”
“Okay so I was just going to stick around that one neighborhood of really cute small businesses that’s right near the Tower because they have the ice cream place and flower shop I like, but I think we should hit Target first.”
He shrugged. “Hey, it’s the place to get cheesy cards and stuffed animals without ordering them online.”
They pulled into the parking lot and Harley pulled into a spot. Before he could reach to unbuckle his seatbelt, Peter grabbed his wrist.
“We should make this a little more interesting.”
“Don’t give me that look! I was just thinking-”
“-that is a terrible start to anything you say-”
“-I think we know each other pretty well. We should try and shop for each other! And then like reveal everything at the end of the day once we’re back home.”
Harley regrets a lot of things. Mainly this. “I will agree to this with one caveat.”
“And what would that be?”
“I reserve the right to go back and get the things I was planning to buy for myself if you get it wrong.”
Peter nodded. “Completely fair.”
“Okay,” Harley said once they made it into the store. “How much time do you think you’ll need to find what you think I want from here? Half hour?”
“Yeah that should do it,” Peter answered as he checked his phone. “Meet back here in half an hour?”
“Sure. Ready, set, go!”
Harley and Peter took off in opposite directions with Harley headed towards the back of the store. His plan was to work his way forward in order to grab everything he thought Peter would want.
First: seasonal shit.
Lord have mercy on his soul, the whole area looked like Cupid had shot himself with his own arrow. He took a deep breath and scanned the isles.
Decorations, hand towels, those cheesy cards kids pass out in elementary school, and there! Harley darted towards where they had those chocolate boxes. He thought they tasted like cardboard, but Peter loved them, and if he was lucky…
He was lucky. There were Star Trek themed boxes. He found one without mint-filled chocolates (he must be insanely lucky today) and threw it in the basket he grabbed from the front of the store. Then he went into the next isle to try and find a stuffed animal.
Peter had been on a thing about raccoons recently. Harley found the biggest one he could and shoved that in the basket too.
He did one more quick scan of the Valentine’s section and picked up some gift wrap and a box of shitty Valentine’s cards he wanted to stick to the rest of the Avenger’s doors before he ran off to another part of the store.
It took just over five minutes to find everything for phase one. Phase two was going to be a bit more difficult.
Harley paused near the hardware section and took stock. The not-childish cards were near the front of the store which meant he would grab one of those last, but he was picky about cards so he would need time for it.
Knowing Peter, he’d buy himself themed socks. Those would most likely be in the clothing department since he didn’t see them in Seasonal. Or maybe he’d overlooked them? Chances are they’d be both places anyways, so it probably didn’t matter.
He took a deep breath. Before he did that, he needed to find a yo-yo. He’d overheard Tony talking about how he fidgets and maybe being able to replicate the swinging of webs with yo-yos, and Peter had gotten really excited about it.
20 minutes left to go.
The cards took as long as expected, so Harley managed to check out and be waiting by the door with two whole minutes to spare.
Peter appeared next to him when his timer hit zero.
“Ready to move on?”
He nodded, and they walked about to the car.
Harley unlocked it and popped the trunk. “Here’s how this is gonna work.” He pulled his toolbox and jumper cables forward and positioned them in the middle. “The stuff you buy is going on the right side of the line, and the stuff I buy goes on the left. I have blankets we can cover shit with so we don’t see what we bought each other.”
“Okay. Hand me a blanket.” Peter got to work setting his bags in the trunk and covered them up securely, and Harley did the same.
They hopped back into the car and Harley put in the coordinates for their next stop. On the way there, Peter started telling him about the crazy lady who’d mistaken him for her son and almost made him late getting back to the front of the store. Harley was laughing so hard he almost missed their exit.
Once they made it to the street with all the shops Harley had planned to go to, they found parking and made to split up again.
Peter thought for a moment. “Bigger area to cover. 2 hours, and I get access to the car so I can drop shit off occasionally.”
That was fair, Harley supposed. He tapped on the dash. “Car’s coded to your fingerprints already, you just need the spare key.”
“We have spare car keys?”
Harley knew that Tony had a thing about car keys. He knew why too, he was there when the incident happened.
“Yes.” He dug in the console for it. “Here.”
He set the timer on his phone. “Two hours starts… now.”
Harley waited a minute to get out of the car, but Peter was already long gone, clearly on a mission for God knows what.
Maybe he did know him that well.
Ideally, he’d have more time to plan, but Harley was going to have to improvise a little.
Flowers: Peter likes daisies, forget-me-nots, roses, and small, classy accent flowers. (First stop. Need time to put the arrangement together. Pick up second to last)
Candy: Better quality chocolate than the Star Trek box, preferably dark, maybe something with peanut butter, and definitely something with caramel. (20-30 minutes)
Ice Cream: Blueberry Cheesecake, and he needed to buy extra graham cracker crumble that he’d give him separately. (5-10 minutes. Last stop)
Bakery: Whatever was raspberry filled. Also croissants. (30-45 minutes. The place typically had a line)
Harley stared at his hastily scrawled list. He had time to pick up a cup of coffee too, and maybe even that specialty hot cocoa mix the shop had in the winter.
He added it to the list.
It managed to work out that he never crossed paths with Peter, not even while making trips back to the car.
The errands also managed to only take about an hour and 20 minutes. He was going to have to send the ladies at the flower shop a fruit basket.
Instead of sitting in the car for the last little while, he wandered around looking at the nearby shops he hadn’t really considered while he was focused on his list.
He ended up with little gifts for the team too. A special edition copy of that book Bucky wanted, a watercolor palette for Steve, a puzzle game Tony and Bruce were going to get a kick out of, another arc reactor pin for Rhodey because Harley knew he was planning some big thing for Tony and needed as many as he could get, a new record for Sam, a commemorative Avenger’s keychain for Clint because for some goddamn reason he collects them, a little snake plushie for Thor, and an insanely soft sweater for Natasha.
Harley finished putting everything in the backseat when Peter opened the trunk.
“Got everything?” he called.
“I think so,” Harley grunted when he hit his head on the roof. “You?”
“Oh definitely. Let’s head home. I say we take a break and give each other the gifts after team movie night.”
He couldn’t agree more. “I need a fucking nap.”
Peter just laughed at him.
Actually getting back into the Tower and onto their floors was much more complicated than they expected. Harley made Peter take the stairs.
He put everything away first so nothing would melt or fall apart on him before he could put the gifts together, but he managed to get in a nap before they were called to dinner.
Tony made fun of him for being a stereotypical college student, so he was bumped to Harley’s least favorite Avenger. Thor took second place when he let him lean on him so Harley didn’t have to stand on his own. If it hadn’t been for Natasha, he’d probably have taken first.
“Where were you two all day?” Sam asked after they all sat down.
“Valentine’s Day shopping,” Harley answered.
Steve glanced between him and Peter. “You two have people to shop for?”
Bucky spit out his water and smacked the back of his head. “Steve!”
“I didn’t mean it like that! I just mean we haven’t heard anything about their significant others, so I was confused!”
Natasha looked like she was about to fall off her chair. “There are other ways to word that, Steve,” she wheezed.
“Well I for one thinks Steve makes an excellent point,” Tony said. “Who were you shopping for?”
Peter’s answer caused the whole table to pause for a moment before there was a lot of noise.
Harley couldn’t even breathe, he was laughing so hard.
Half of them were yelling about the ‘How/When/Where/Why’ of the scenario, Tony was at a genuine loss for words, and the remaining adults were congratulating them on getting together.
“We really need to work on the communication skills on this team,” Peter muttered. Then louder, “We’re not together, we were just messing around.”
The silence returned.
Rhodey looked the most lost. “You’re gonna have to walk us through this one, kids.”
They exchanged a look, and Harley launched into the story of how they got to where they are now.
After he finished, the room let out a collective “Ohhhhh, okay” and went back to socializing like normal, if with a few more jabs about the boys being ‘together’.
Tony gave them an hour to do whatever after dinner so he could get the movie set up in the living room.
Romantic movies weren’t Harley’s thing, but he heard a rumor that they were watching Tangled so he wasn’t mad about it. Anyways, he was starting to look forward to giving Peter his valentine afterwards.
The box was easy to prepare. He still left some things out until the last minute just so the ice cream wouldn’t melt and the flowers wouldn’t get crushed. Once he was done, he packed up all of the Avenger’s things and set out to find them.
He left most of the gifts in front of people’s doors, but he ran into Bucky so he just handed the bag to him. Bucky hugged him upon opening it.
Rhodey’s was also hand delivered. Tony wasn’t allowed to know what his husband was up to, so it had to be very secretive.
Because Tony and Bruce’s were for both of them, he left it in the lab they used together most often and sent them both a text. They were both excited about it based on the number of exclamation points thrown around.
Harley made it back upstairs and slipped into his pajamas before heading downstairs. Nat met him with a bowl of popcorn and a kiss on the cheek. She must have liked the sweater.
He flopped onto a beanbag, and Peter sat on the one next to him a moment later. “20 minutes after the movie ends, we can meet on my floor.”
“30. I still have things to put together,” Peter told him.
“30 minutes then.” He held out his bowl of popcorn to share, and once everyone joined them, they started the movie.
The rumors were true. It was Tangled.
The movie ended and they stayed to chat for a bit before heading upstairs.
“Half hour, Keener. You better be ready.”
“I thought you were the one that wasn’t ready, Parker.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “Shut up. You know what I mean.”
Harley smiled and walked out onto his floor. “See you in a bit, my flower.”
“Don’t you quote Tangled at me, you piece of-”
The elevator door closed before the yelling could continue. “Thank you, JARVIS.”
“It was simply good timing, sir.”
Harley was pretty much ready, so he decided to shower quickly before Peter came up. He pulled on his old Rose Hill High shirt before he put the finishing touches on the gift.
He closed the lid on the box just when the elevator dinged open.
Peter glanced at his phone. “I’m early actually.”
“That’s a first.”
Harley lifted the box and set it on the coffee table. “For you, dear.”
“All this?” Peter set his box down next to it and then sat down on the floor. “Here.”
“I have a couch.” He sat across from Peter on the floor. “You’re up first, sweetheart.”
Peter grabbed his box and opened it up. His reaction was immediate. “You got the ice cream I like! And the hot cocoa!”
“You think you’re the only one who pays attention around here? I know what you like.”
Everytime he got to a new thing, he would gasp in excitement. The yo-yo caused a particularly strong reaction. “Did Mr. Stark tell you about this?”
“I was in the next room, and neither of you are quiet.”
He set down the toy and pulled Harley into a hug. “You’re the best.”
“Don’t say that! I have an ego problem.”
Peter snorted and dropped back onto the floor. “Open yours.”
The box had everything Harley would have bought for himself and more. Lemon ice cream, strawberry licorice, a huge teddy bear, and a new hexagonal rubix cube were surrounded by cute little trinkets that must have reminded him of Harley. There was even a NASA themed mug tucked in with his favorite cookies and the coffee syrup he secretly liked. And there was a small bouquet of roses, sunflowers, and baby's breath set off to the side.
He could have cried. “I think I love you.”
Peter smiled softly at him. “There’s one more thing, but it didn’t fit in the box.”
“Oh? What is it?”
“You have to close your eyes so I can go get it, dumbass.”
Fair enough. He closed his eyes and heard Peter rustling around as he got up and started moving around.
“Ready?” Peter sounded closer than he had a minute ago.
“Sure. Just tell me when to open my eyes.”
He heard Peter move again, but he still didn’t open his eyes. Then, he felt something move close to him.
Not something. Some one.
Lips pressed against his, chaste and unsure.
He pulled away, but Harley caught his waist and dragged him back in. Peter settled into his lap, and Harley held him tighter.
The second time they kissed, it was less gentle and more sure. Their lips moved together, and Harley didn’t even try to resist the urge to run his hands up and down Peter’s body. He never wanted it to stop.
Peter tasted sweet like the ice cream he’d had, and salty, probably from the caramel. His heart was beating hard against Harley’s.
“Is this okay?” Harley asked when they broke apart.
There was a deep blush on Peter’s cheeks, and he was breathing heavier. “I mean, if it’s not I technically started it, so that would be my fault.”
“That’s not what I mean, Peter.”
“I want you,” Peter sighed. “I’ve wanted you for who knows how long and I just-” He entangled his fingers in Harley’s hair. “I needed to kiss you.”
Harley felt like something had freed itself from his lungs. “You’re incredible.”
Peter ducked his head in embarrassment.
“I mean it baby, you’re incredible. So beautiful, so sweet. God, half the reason I hated Valentine’s Day so much was because I couldn’t kiss you and you-” he reached up to hold Peter’s face- “you just kissed me.”
“We could always do it again,” Peter suggested innocently.
He was happy to oblige.
In the end, their ice cream almost melted. Peter had physically shoved himself off of Harley when he remembered.
Then Harley had lifted him onto the kitchen counter to keep kissing him. It was honestly a dream come true.
Or you know, a nightmare for Tony when he was the first to see them at breakfast the next morning.
They walked in together, hand in hand. Peter was wearing one of Harley’s sweatshirts, and Harley wouldn’t stop peppering his face with kisses.
Harley was pretty sure they could hear Tony’s shrieks from the basement.