Peter was drunk.
Correction: Peter was very drunk.
He gasped as he stumbled into the edge of a table, sharp corner digging into the meat of his thigh. It would probably leave him with a purpling mark in the morning (because Peter bruised like an overripe peach), but he hardly felt it now. He braced one hand on the wooden surface, vaguely aware that he seemed to be getting something sticky on his palm, let himself lean heavily, for balance, and released a short, breathless laugh.
This was what he’d wanted, wasn’t it?
He’d come out tonight with the express mission of getting fucked up. He was tired of sitting alone in his shitty little apartment, staring at half-written papers and trying not to think about the people he’d lost. The ones who died and the ones who left. Netflix failed to hold his attention for longer than a single episode of FRIENDS, and drowning his time in schoolwork wasn’t working as well this month as it had the last two. He needed a distraction.
He needed to relax.
Sitting around like a vibrating ball of nervous energy, chewing his bottom lip bloody and wanting to crawl out of his skin wasn’t something he could tolerate for another night. Aunt May had been trying to get him to go see someone about his anxiety for weeks, but Peter was hesitant to put himself in the hands of a professional. He didn’t want someone to prescribe him something and shove him off on the pharmaceutical companies; the idea of becoming reliant on drugs just to function normally made him a little sick to his stomach. And it hadn’t really been that long since the… the accident. He Just needed time to grieve. Process and move on. Sure, he wasn’t doing so well with that last bit but he had time. You couldn’t rush these things.
You could only make consciously bad decisions about going out to a party where you don’t know anyone with the intention of becoming intoxicated as hell and forgetting about your problems for a few hours. Making stupid mistakes was just part of the healing process, right?
Right. Which is why Peter didn’t hesitate to pluck another plastic shot cup of clear liquid off the tray on the table and knock it back like he knew what he was doing. He made a face, because it tasted like rubbing alcohol, and dropped the cup in the general vicinity of a black trash bag sitting on the floor. He swallowed around the burn in his throat and let his eyelids drop for a moment, heavy with the thick weight of drunkenness.
He was tingly all over in that numb, distant sort of way that he’d only experienced a couple of times in his life. His thoughts were vague and far away, sluggish enough that he couldn’t focus on much outside of the slow pulse of blood rushing through his ears. The music was loud, Kurt Cobain’s signature growl blaring from the speakers. The air was hot.
Someone bumped into his shoulder as they slid past, jarring him from his drifting. He blinked his eyes open and peered around the crowded room. Everyone was talking or laughing or dancing or making out in the corner. But nobody was alone. Nobody but Peter.
He sighed, unable to stop the mild disappointment from seeping through the fog. At least he wasn’t anxious. Wasn’t thinking about Gwen’s twisted body as they pulled her from the car or the broken look in Harry’s eyes when he saw what he’d done. But he wasn’t exactly happy, either.
Maybe eating something would help. Peter pushed away from the table and made his way unsteadily towards the kitchen counter where bowls of chips were laid out. The world felt like it was tipping off center as he walked, and he stumbled into people a couple of times when he tried to adjust for the change in equilibrium. It was kind of funny, and he may have laughed just a little to himself.
When he finally reached the chips, he looked around helplessly for a plate, but saw none. Were people supposed to just dip their hands into the bowl? That was gross. But then again, this wasn’t exactly a clean party. He was just about to say fuck it all and use his hands like an impolite toddler, but he heard someone shout his name.
He looked up reflexively, though his sluggish brain reminded him that he was unlikely to know anyone here, so it was probably a different Peter. And sure enough, he didn’t see anyone he recognized. At first.
A large figure had pushed its way through the crowd and now stood beside him, nudging him enthusiastically in the arm.
“Well if it isn’t little Peter Parker himself, at an actual party. I guess miracles really do happen, huh?”
Peter tipped his head back to blink up at the jock who stood over him, state school letterman jacket a garish purple and gold under the bright kitchen lights. He was blond, smug, and unfortunately familiar.
“Flash Thompson.” Peter stated, the words a little heavy on his tongue. “You’re like, not a person I’d expect to be seeing here.”
Only because he never expected to see Flash ever again after high school graduation. He went to Columbia to study biochemical engineering and Flash took off for State University New York on a football scholarship. As far as Peter was concerned, the high school bully was as good as dead to him.
Apparently he was seeing ghosts now.
Flash leaned one elbow on the counter and tipped his head slightly to the side, giving Peter an appraising once over, blue eyes slipping down and back up his body. His lips curled upwards into the approximation of a smirk. “I could say the same thing about you, Parker.”
Peter sighed dramatically, his eyes rolling up towards the ceiling. “Whatcha gonna do, Flash? Kick me outta your stupid party?” He had no idea whose party it was, actually. “Shove my head in a, in a toilet?” He laughed a little, though there was only superficial humor in his words. “Too bad there aren’t, uh, lockers here, right? Could probably still fit me in one o’ those… Those… Lockers. Like back when –”
He was silenced by a touch of fingertips to his mouth, the faint scent of beer and marijuana on Flash’s skin.
“You always did talk too much.” Peter stared at him, perplexed by Flash’s light, almost flirty tone and the way he was leaning in towards him, hot breath hitting Peter’s cheek.
“Huh?” He responded eloquently, and Flash chuckled as he dropped his hand.
“Never could get you to shut up. Guess that’s one of the things that bothered me about you.” He glanced downwards, gaze lingering on Peter’s mouth for a moment too long as he let out a self-deprecating breath of laughter. “That and my big gay crush on you.”
Peter was not convinced that he didn’t squeak in surprise. “What?”
“Oh yeah.” Flash was smirking again, and it took Peter a moment to realize that the jock’s hand had found its way onto his right hip. “Didn’t you ever wonder why I picked on you so hard?”
“I thought it was ‘cause of self-esteem issues and, y’know, masculine insecurity.” Peter had even less control over his mouth when he was drunk, and it seemed to move entirely without his permission, spewing out slightly slurred words with no regard for anyone. He half-expected to get punched for it, just like the good old days.
Flash just chuckled. “Naw… I liked you! You know how they say if a boy pushes you down on the playground, it means he likes you?”
“So…” Peter narrowed his eyes slightly, as if this development would make more sense if he squinted. “You were just… showing your affection through violence like a little kid?”
Flash rolled his eyes. “Whatever, Parker. The point is, I’m a changed man now.” He offered Peter a smile that he was sure most people would find charming. “I’m bein’ real with myself, doing guys and not just teasing them when I think they’re cute.” He gave Peter’s hip a squeeze.
“You didn’t tease me.” Peter let the counter take his weight as he leaned back against it, shaking his head in dazed denial. “You beat me up. Like. A lot.”
“Aw, come on now…” Flash shifted, placing himself in front of Peter and bracing his free hand on the countertop, leaning over him, caging him in. “We had fun! There was tension.” He rolled his hips down over Peter’s with a low hum, pinning him to the counter. “Sexy tension.”
Peter threw his head back and laughed. He felt warm and heavy and this was so ridiculous that he couldn’t help but find it absolutely hilarious.
“Oh… My god…” He managed to mutter between peals of laughter. “You’re so… Delusional…”
There as a small displeased sound and Flash pressed him harder into the counter, the sharp granite edge becoming uncomfortable where it dug into his back. “So you didn’t like me back.” He shrugged. “No biggie. But we’re both here now, aren’t we? I’m hot. You’re a cute little twink. Wanna have some fun?”
It was the cheesiest, grossest gay pickup line Peter had ever heard, and it took some effort to stifle a fresh wave of laughter. “Fun?”
“Yeah.” Flash bent down until his mouth hovered near Peter’s ear, breath tickling his earlobe as he spoke. “Aren’t you here to have fun?”
Peter blinked up at the eggshell ceiling, giving the question some serious thought. That was why he had come out tonight, wasn’t it? To get trashed and have a little fun, and maybe forget about everything for a few short hours. Granted, Flash Thompson was definitely not someone Peter had ever imagined having any sort of fun with, but he was the only one offering at the moment. And at least he was ripped. (Peter could tell from the solid line of hard muscle pressed up against the front of his body.)
He shrugged lazily, already feeling the dull settle of shame and self-disappointment in the pit of his stomach. “Sure. Why not.”
Flash’s grin was undeniably lecherous when he pulled back to look at him. “Sick.” He reached up and ruffled Peter’s hair, ignoring the smaller man’s whine of protest. “Stay right here.”
He turned away, leaving Peter sagging against the counter while he walked to the drink table for a moment. He was gone just long enough for Peter to start questioning his own sanity, recognizing that he’d just agreed to something that he would undoubtedly regret the next day. But Flash returned before he could convince himself to leave and stumble into an Uber (because there was no way he could get on the subway and not run the risk of killing himself or getting dangerously lost).
“Here.” The blonde shoved a red solo cup into his hand, and Peter peered down at it. It was only filled up an inch or two with brown liquid, and he wrinkled his nose in distaste.
“I don’t really like beer…” He mumbled.
“It’s whiskey.” Flash nudged the edge of the cup towards Peter’s mouth. “Go on, you’ll like it.”
Well, if he was going to play with fire he might as well jump into the hell-mouth and try to enjoy it, right? Peter tipped the cup back, downing the contents without giving himself much time to taste it.
He set the cup down, missing the counter and dropping it on the floor instead, and coughed.
Flash clapped him on the back. “Atta boy.”