Honestly, paperwork should not be taking this damn long.
It’s 2019. It makes no sense for it to take so long to complete registration. Tony and Harley have done so much on the computer already, Harley expected to just walk into school and go straight to class. Instead, Morita insisted Tony come in person, sign the paperwork as Harley’s guardian, and collect the necessary PTA papers - which sit in Harley’s lap for Tony to later collect himself. He’s currently trying to sweet talk Tony into donating a new lab. Though Harley can’t hear exactly what’s being said in Morita’s office, he can see Morita pointing to the model and the tightness of Tony’s shoulders.
Just let him sign the last sheet, Harley thinks miserably, watching Morita’s hands move quickly. Then I can collect my books and get to class.
Harley doesn’t like spending time in any office, especially the principal’s. Despite knowing he’s done nothing wrong, he feels like he’s back in Tennessee, having just been caught in the boys bathroom with Tommy Lake and about to be sent home for “violating the christian values of our establishment.” He’s got the familiar prickling sensation running across his arms, and he rubs at them to make it go away.
He just wants to go to class.
The office is pretty quiet. There’s a receptionist on the computer, the vice principal meeting with a student behind closed doors, and some weird piano music through the ceiling speakers. Harley leans back in his chair and stares at those speakers. He contemplates convincing Tony to replace the shitty sounding system. Not all people who are in the office are there because they’re in trouble. Why should everyone else be punished with tinny speakers and random static interrupting already bad music.
He tilts his head forward and eyes the receptionist. She’s wearing earbuds, which makes him wonder how she hears the phone. Then the static flares and the music wavers, and he chuckles to himself. She definitely doesn’t care.
He doesn’t blame her.
The door to the vice principal’s office opens, and Harley’s eyes are pulled to the boy exiting them.
Oh dear God in heaven, Harley thinks weakly. Is this a shitty eighties teen movie? Is this boy, plaid shirt over a graphic tee, pierced ears, and combat boots, walking out of the vp’s office in slow motion? Is he really looking at the floor, only for his eyes to rise so he can look at Harley through long dark lashes, the corner of his stained pink lips pulled up?
Yes, Harley decides. All of that is actually happening.
“Next time you want to play beauty shop, Parker, don't’ skip class to do it.”
“I wasn;t skipping Emma, I was five minutes late.” Parker scoffs. “I would have been able to chat about Shakespeare plenty if I hadn’t been pulled into the principal’s office.”
“Enough lip,” the vice principal throws a leather jacket at the boy, who catches. “Now sit and wait for me to get off the phone with your aunt, got it?”
The boy ignores the command, running a hand over what appears to be freshly cut hair. He turns and plops into the chair next to Harley. He huffs dramatically, turning to wink at Harley. “Hey, handsome. You’re Keener, right?”
“Wh-what?” Harley jerks back. “How do you-”
“Peter Parker. Your dad’s intern?”
The pictures click into place, but Harley feels his cheeks flush and looks away. “Tony isn’t my dad.”
“He says you’re his kid and pulled you to New York. Sounds like your dad.”
“He tell you why I’m here?”
“Something about the small minds of a small town.”
Harley looks back at Peter, who is smiling now. When he really pays attention though, Harley can see that it’s not a lecherous smile like you might assume from someone who dresses like Peter. No, it’s a sweet smile, and he isn’t mocking Harley.
If the bi pin that’s attached to the jacket in his lap tells Harley anything, its that Peter is more like him than he originally thought.
“Listen, not many people here are as small minded as the people where you come from,” Peter continues, nudging Harley with his elbow. “But they can still be dicks. Anyone gives you a problem, let me know, okay? You’re Tony’s kid, which means you’re family.”
Harley is not fragile by any means. He did not grow up gay in a small town and never learn how to throw a punch. No, he can take care of himself, he’s always been able to. But there’s something about Peter, eyes smudged with liner and a slit in the brow, offering to take care of bullies for him, that makes his stomach flip.
Hoping not to betray too much more, Harley tries to smile. “If I need help, I’ll give you a holler.”
“Good,” Peter grins. “And if you don’t need help?”
“What?” Harley asks.
“And if you don’t need any help?” Peter repeats, leaning forward. His breath smells like bubblegum, an odd cherry on top to the whole thing. “Will you still give me a holler?”
“Parker,” the vice principal calls. “Spoke to your aunt, things are worked out. Go back to class.”
“Don’t call me that.”
Peter is grinning now, standing and gathering his jacket. “See you in class, Keener.”
“See you in class, Spider-Man.”
Peter’s laugh stays in the room, long after he’s gone.
@takenbyemrys this kinda what you had in mind, doll?