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The One With The Evil Machine That Targets The Person Hero Loves The Most

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Peter was not sure he was going to make it out of this one.

The situation could be described, one would argue, as quite a pickle. He had found himself in tight spots not unlike that before. Hanging by a thread from skyscrapers, beaten bloody in duels with villains, holding up trains on his shoulders. He came out of all of them alive, more or less whole if a bit banged up.

Point being - ever since gaining superpowers and beginning the whole hero shtick, he’s been through quite a lot. Physically and emotionally, but that was another story. He was no stranger to danger.

But this was bad, even he had to admit it.

Because right now, Peter was a little tied up. Doubly so, because mentally, he was held back by the fact this wasn’t a normal fight with an enemy, this was a friend. This was Harry goddamn Osborn. And well, also in some weird high-tech rope that kept his super-strength in check so he would be fucked even if he wasn’t afraid to fight his way out not caring who he was hurting.

Figures that of all people, Harry would be the one to successfully manage to subdue Spider-Man. Peter always knew Harry was smarter than he let on. Smarter than Norman assumed he was and smarter than he allowed himself to be. It was like Harry was afraid of failing but afraid of shining too, maybe wary that it would raise others expectations. Maybe ultimately he believed setting the bar low was easier, but Peter always saw through him.

Harry Osborn was so much smarter than everyone thought, so much kinder and cleverer. He was brilliant. He was witty and quick, confident and shy at the same time, and always smelled of expensive cologne. He carried himself like royalty. As elegant in a hoodie as he was in a three-piece suit, simultaneously down to earth and larger than life. Harry had no idea how huge of a personality he had, what an impact he could create with one look. He always saw himself as an outcast like Pete, but everyone at school actually wanted to be friends with Harry, he just didn’t see it. Or maybe he knew that most of them only wanted his money. But Harry... Harry Osborn was worth more than all of the money he had. Harry Osborn was everything.

Peter was in love with Harry.

And Harry hated Spider-Man.

And Spider-Man was Peter.

So yes. Here he was, tied to a chair by his (likely former) best friend, about to be threatened and potentially in genuine danger because as loathe as he was to admit it, those damn things Harry put on him had him as weak as he was before the Spider bite. And he still thought Harry’s eyes had a really gorgeous glint to them as he unfolded his plan to destroy him.

„You know, I imagined this day for years now.” Harry’s voice was so calming. So quiet, even as the words were filled with pain and anger. „I dreamt about putting a blade through your heart... not unlike you put one through my father.”

„Harry--” It was probably stupid to argue but that death still weighed on Peter, whether it was his fault or not.

„Shhhhh.” Harry didn’t let him speak. He paced the room slowly, like a tiger stalking his prey, playing with an ornate dagger in his hand. „I am talking now. But you see, I dreamt of revenge, dreamt of your death until I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted.”

It wasn’t? Well, that would be nice but Peter could sense a „but” there.

„So I asked myself...” And there it was. „If only I could cause you, the pain that you’ve caused me.”

„I didn’t mean to cause you any pain, Harry!” Peter flexed his muscled against the bindings once again, but they held tight.

„Well, too bad.” Harry approached the computer on the table in front of them and started typing something. „Because I do mean to cause you pain. But you’re a hero. Heroes are all so pathetically self-sacrificing. So noble. Hurting you is pointless. I want you to feel the pain I felt. The pain of losing the person you love the most.”

Oh.

„This program, it will pinpoint the person you love the most. And then you can finally understand how I felt as I take them away from you.”

Oh fuck.

The computer pinged, signalling successfully running the program. Harry watched with intense focus as on the screen, the marker began zooming on the state, on the city of New York, eventually on the neighbourhood.

Finally, a picture popped up.

And Peter was really, really glad the mask was on to hide his blush.

***

„No, that makes no sense! It’s perfect, I worked hard on it, I tested it, it worked!” Harry was frantic, pulling up the diagnostics, checking the software, running it again. Behind him, he could hear Spider-Man calling to him as if through the water. He stood in front of the screen, staring at the picture on it.

His own face, up and centre, as if mocking him.

„I tested it...” It was supposed to be his success. His final proof to the ghost of his father that he could reach his stupid expectations, that he could avenge him, that he could be something. He caught the Masked Menace! He trapped Spider-Man in ropes he couldn’t break and create the ultimate weapon. He was finally going to show that Harry Osborn was not to be underestimated. And it just didn’t work.

„I don’t understand!” He threw the dagger at the mirror until it shattered.

„Harry!” He turned back to Spider-Man, finally acknowledging the man’s pleas. That voice. Why was that voice familiar? „Harry... It worked.”

„What?” He stared, the words registering and slowly sinking in. But they made no sense. He turned to the screen once again, his stupid photo still smiling on it and he closed his eyes before turning to the bound man. It was a surreal, hysterical situation. The hero he kidnapped trying to... what, reassure him? „What the hell do you mean it worked?! It’s claiming I’m the person you love most!”

Those eyes. How were those eyes so damn expressive, with no pupils, in an expressionless mask?

„Harry... take off the mask.”

And the voice. A familiar voice, where did he hear that voice?

He took a step, feeling apprehension and uncertainty. He didn’t know why he was hesitating, this close to his goal, at the moment when he finally reached what he wanted. He had Spider-Man in his grasp, how hasn’t he taken the mask off already?

Maybe he didn’t want to admit there was a man underneath. Didn’t want to face that it wasn’t just some abstract nightmare. Didn’t want to hurt an actual person.

But that was the truth, wasn’t it? Spider-Man wasn’t a character, there was someone inside the suit. He grasped the colorful spandex gently and pulled, in one swift motion.

No.

No...

„Peter?”

Peter was quiet, his eyes a bit glassy, with a serious expression. Peter, who was always there for him, who always had photos of Spider-Man no one else managed to take, who kept telling Harry that Spider-Man is the good guy... who stuck with Harry despite Harry not listening to that.

Peter, who...

He turned around to look at the computer screen once again, this time seeing his own photo in a whole different light. Because if Peter didn’t lie, if Spider-Man was Peter, if the machine did work, that would only mean one thing.

„You love me?”

He turned around, confused, and angry, and hopeful and as lost as he always was.

„But if you’re Spider-Man, you can’t love me! It has to be wrong, I literally spent two years telling you how much I hated you to your face! The machine must have broken or... or...”

And Peter? Crazy, amazing Peter, just smiled sheepishly, and repeated.

„It worked.”

***

And therefore we came back to the pickle. Which the situation still could be described as, seeing as Peter was still tied up, now also exposed, came out with his crush on his best friend and enemy and well, at least there was no one showing on the program Harry wrote that he could actually hurt... but it being Harry meant he didn’t need a program to know who aunt May was.

So this could go many different ways still.

Yet while a part of Peter - possibly the Spidey Sense, otherwise known as his Common Sense - tried to keep him wary and careful, a big part of him was just relieved. Because yeah, there were so many better ways to reveal your identity than while tied to a chair, and certainly a better way to confess your love, but being dishonest and in this strange limbo conflict with Harry for years was exhausting.

Now he would either finally run out of luck and get himself killed, or hopefully, things would finally get back to a stranger version of what they were before this entire mess. And Peter, being Peter, and never really knowing what was best of him, chose to break the tense silence.

„Harry, any chance you’d agree to untie me now?”

The look Harry offered him was really intimidating. This was probably the last thing he should be thinking, and he hoped it never really came to fruition, even if it was getting dangerously likely over the past months, but Harry would make a very hot villain.

„No, I need you to just stay away, I need to process all that.”

„I’m not going to attack you. And I was sort of hoping you weren’t going to attack me either.”

„I haven’t decided yet so just... shut up.”

„Right. Not pushing my luck.” That was something else Peter was not great at.

Harry laughed. He laughed, and Peter laughed, and then Peter stopped and watched with a mix of confusion and apprehension as Harry ended up having a hysterical laughter attack, ending up sitting on the floor propped against the desk and trying to catch his breath.

„My life is a fucking joke. I really fail at everything.”

And then he got up and started to untie Peter. And Peter, like an idiot, wanted to reassure him.

„That’s not true, Harry. You’re so much smarter than everyone thinks you are, and look at your program! It runs, and it worked perfectly and...”

„... and I wanted to use it to kill Spider-Man but I didn’t really succeed at that, did I?”

Peter massaged his sore wrists, looking up at Harry, the ropes now around them on the floor. It felt like a weird situation for such a significant moment, but they never did anything normally.

„So, that means you’re not gonna try to kill me anymore?”

„I’m still so pissed off at Spider-Man.” Harry started, but then he trailed off, and suddenly Peter found himself drawn into a tight embrace he happily returned. „But I love Peter Parker too much to not at least try to understand. And I know him well enough to realize there’s no fucking way this situation isn’t more complicated than I thought.”

„I would never kill Norman, Harry.” He insisted when they pulled apart. „Never.”

„I know... So what happened to him, Pete?”

And well, that was where it got complicated, wasn’t it? To be honest, after all this time, Peter wasn’t even sure anymore why he kept protecting Goblin’s secret. It certainly wasn’t because he wanted to honour Norman’s wishes. Norman was a piece of shit who never treated his son right. At first, he kept his mouth shut to protect Harry. Except with time, he realized that letting Harry draw his own conclusions hurt him more than protected him, but by then it was sort of too late.

„It’s... a long story that I sort of promised not to tell you?”

„For fuck’s sake, Peter!” Harry turned to pace the room and Peter wanted to say something, it was just hard to figure out what. But then he no longer had to, because Harry stopped in the middle of the room, eyes suddenly transfixed on the mirror. The broken mirror.

Which...

„Holy shit.”

They both approached the door that apparently hid behind it for years without anyone realizing, cautiously stepping inside. Harry pushed aside a spider web, giving Peter a raised eyebrow as if asking That yours? before going further. Peter offered back an unimpressed look, trying to not make it obvious he was practically jumping in happiness inside because Harry seemed comfortable enough to joke with him!  

Suddenly, he startled at something to their left, almost falling on the uneven floor if Peter didn’t catch him. And then he looked up, and realized what Harry saw.

The mask.

„So... it appears I may not have to explain after all.”

„The Green Goblin.” Harry gingerly took the mask up, holding it and staring into the yellow eyes. „He was literally a fucking villain. You had every right to kill him because he made himself a real goddamn nightmare children have at night.”

Harry laughed, a joyless, hollow sound that broke Peter’s heart.

„I didn’t kill him. I wouldn’t... even with what he became, I couldn’t do that to you. He tried to kill me and I ducked and his own attack hit him.” He put a hand on Harry’s shoulder carefully, afraid of startling him. „He didn’t want you to know.”

„Or course he didn’t want me to know. Wanted me to think he was perfect. And that I should be too.” He threw the mask at the wall with so much strength and vitriol Peter startled as it shattered. „I’m done with it. I’m done with him. Dead and still giving me daddy issues.”

It was like all the fight suddenly sagged out of him, and Peter drew Harry closer until their foreheads rested together.

„You are ten times the man your father ever was, okay?”

„I don’t know. I just don’t care about it anymore. I don’t care anymore...” He repeated, as if to himself, as if trying to find courage for... something.

And then suddenly Peter was being kissed.

And it was awesome.

He didn’t overthink it, for once. He kissed back, figuring he would ask questions later because an hour ago he thought Harry would either kill him or at least their friendship would be over forever so Peter was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.  

„Wow.” He eventually said, rather eloquently, once they pulled apart. „I thought you hated Spider-Man.”

„I don’t know.” Harry replied, and his tone was surprisingly light and teasing. „I sort of hated him for killing my dad but turns out he didn’t do that. And... I may have been a bit jealous my best friend I was in love with kept defending him and I might have thought had a crush on him and picked him over me.”

Wait.

Slow down.

What?!

„You thought I picked Spider-Man over you! You were jealous of me because you thought I had a crush on me!”

„Oh, shut up and kiss me again!” Harry laughed, and for once, Peter listened.