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midnight falls

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A chilling breeze struck Harry’s skin, tearing right through the cold metal platelets covering his body and certainly through the skin-tight spandex. The faint odor of rain still drifted through the air, along with the burning scent of dirt and debris covering his body from today’s freak show. Even so, in the end, the city was just a bit safer. Even if it meant Harry lost a night of sleep and found himself roaming Central Park in the dead of night.

Despite the hour, he senses a human presence behind him. A steady, healthy heartbeat coupled with soft footsteps Harry could have identified from a mile's distance.

“Hello, Mr. Spider,” Peter says tiredly. His voice sounds so scratchy and rough on Harry’s ears that he has to restrain himself from cringing.

“Parker.” Turning on his heel revealed exactly what Harry expected; Peter dressed in drab ragged clothes, camera strapped loosely around his neck, and a disapproving gleam in his eyes. “What are you doing out at this time?” Harry asks.

I  should be asking  you  that. Though it’s not really hard to imagine you have trouble sleeping at night.”

Harry holds back a sigh and instead jumps onto a nearby lamppost, letting himself dwindle back to the ground off a web of silk. Peter stands a few feet away from the light, letting himself be ominously surrounded by shadows.

“Here we go,” Harry mumbles. “You and your  moral vendetta . What do you even have against me?”

Peter hums-- though it sounds more like a growl. “Oh, I dunno. Maybe the fact you slaughter people in cold blood because they committed a single crime, instead of obeying the damn law and turning them over to the authorities?”

“I kill serial killers and rapists, Parker. And besides, I’m not gonna talk about self-defense with a human stick bug.”

“You’re just saying things in random order now.”

Harry tilted his head, swaying on his web. “Maybe so. Does it bother you?”

“Eh," Peter replied noncommittally.

“What bothers you, Peter?”

“You talking.”

Harry scoffed, a smile breaking out under his mask. “I  love  it when you’re snippy with me.”

“Shut up. You're so... annoying. How can you stand yourself?”

“Hey, if you’ve got such a problem with me, why are you always taking pictures for me?”

“Somebody has to,” Peter grumbled.

“Do they?” Harry stroked his chin. “Or do you have a certain obsession with me?”

“You don’t know who I am.”

I’ve known you for the past eleven years, Parker.

“Neither do you.”

Peter took a step forward, warm light cascading over his skin and lighting every little detail Harry had grown to adore over the years. The freckles dotting his cheeks, the shadows cast by his long eyelashes, the bags hanging under his eyes. The glint in his eyes that revealed everything and nothing at the same time.

This close, Harry could almost tangibly see the smell of coffee emanating from Peter and Harry had to remind himself not to do something stupid, like sniff Peter-- because that would be weird and creepy.

At the same time, the soft  thud, thud thud,  of Peter’s heart resonated in his ears, even over the distant revving of traffic, and it’s hard to resist pulling Peter close and swearing to protect that rhythm at all costs.

Gaze trailing up Peter’s soft frame -- thank  god  Harry’s eyes were hidden -- which looked so huggable and  adorable  Harry had a hard time keeping himself on his web. Even if Peter looked like an M&M with the color scheme. Harry would have voiced that last part, he really would’ve, but Peter opened his mouth with a faint  pop  and Harry completely blanked.

“I don’t think  you  know who you are, Spider.” Peter leaned down, so far his forehead bumped against Harry’s chin. “Are you against me, or are you for me?”

“Could ask you the same question,” Harry breathed.

“Can’t it be both?”

And Peter’s hands landed on the base of his neck, tracing so carefully Harry had to resist a rumbling purr of affection.  Damn you, radioactive spider.

Peter’s fingers hooked on the edge of his mask and slowly rolled it upwards. At his nose, Harry’s hand finally shot out to stop him, but Peter had already stopped. The fabric felt thick and itchy resting on Harry’s face and he went to pull it back down, giving Peter a harsh stare he knew he couldn’t see.  Parker, you and your weird--

Soft lips land against his.  Peter’s  lips land against his. Even though Harry’s upside-down and Peter still held a camera full of photos to be used against Spider-Man. But it all faded away in favor of Peter’s warm breaths on his neck, the sheer closeness of their faces, and the faint smell of body spray underneath the smell of a Starbucks latte.

Peter’s heart beat even faster, each little drum nearly echoing in the quiet air. So pervasive and all-consuming that Harry nearly forgot the beat of his own.

And just as Peter started to pull away, Harry nearly yanked him back, sighing happily into his mouth and soaking in every second of their embrace. God knows how long he’s wanted this.

A phrase bubbled on the tip of his tongue. A phrase that plagued his life ever since he met Peter in Kindergarten and became self-proclaimed best friends for life. Ever since he and Peter fake-dated for prom night and Harry realized he never wanted it to end. Ever since Peter decided to kiss him in the middle of Central Park, at midnight, under the cold light of a lamppost.

But it dissipates as soon as they pull away, heavy breaths mixing in the air. Peter’s heartbeat is still so,  so  loud in Harry’s ears and impossible to ignore. Until his hand lands on his chest and he realizes it was  his  heartbeat.

He slowly opened his eyes. And Peter stood there, smug and confident yet flushing with a deep red across his entire face and neck. He fiddled with his camera strap and looked so lovely, bathed in light and surrounded by darkness; like a painting, one a love-struck fool would paint after seeing his beloved for the first time in years.

Harry tried to ask him  why, why kiss me? You hate me.  But his mask was undone and his voice changer wouldn’t work and the combination of the entire lower half of his face and his voice may be just enough to tip Peter off. And Harry’s tread such a thin line already, he couldn’t risk revealing  two  of his biggest secrets at the same time.

Instead, he pulled down his mask and let himself sink back into the power and strength of Spider-Man. The near predator-like instinct driving his movements. A persona in which Harry didn’t have to be Harry, but an anonymous symbol of protection.

As Harry reels himself back up on top of the lamppost, he pauses and says, “You’re a good kisser, Parker. I’ll give you that. But I gotta ask why.”

Peter only gives him a sweet smile from the ground and pulls up his camera.

“Because it would piss you off.” A two-beat pause, easily filled by two syllables. Peter’s camera flashes and Harry lets himself drown in the light-- if only to distract himself from the turmoil boiling in his mind. 

“I’ll see you in the paper, Spider-Man,” Peter says before once again disappearing into the shadows.