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Something Unexpected

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This was going to be the best summer of his life. Probably. Most likely. Anyway. It wasn’t often he had the chance to get out of his small town and get a break from his life. His life didn’t suck but it wasn’t ideal. He always felt like he could be doing more for his mom and sister, and honestly, the never-ending small town bullshit and the bullshit people there that had never liked him, well…they didn’t make things better or make him want to stay.

 

So, when the offer to spend the summer at the tower had been dropped in his lap, well, he hadn’t hesitated. This was his chance to get out even if just for a little bit, but most importantly it meant being reunited with Tony. It had been a long time since he’d last seen him, or at least it felt that way. Tony did keep in contact, and, you know, helped with stuff, had even visited a couple of times, but it was always back home, within the safety of the house and the garage.

 

Harley would finally be able to experience Tony Stark in his own world, on his own turf. Be able to see his no doubt amazing lab and workshop. To be able to watch Tony work on something and maybe, if he was really lucky, even work together on something. That would be like a dream come true, to learn from the master up close and everything.

 

Not that he’d really ever voice that out loud. Didn’t make it untrue, just difficult to admit. Feelings were hard pretty much always but voicing them to the only father figure he’d had since his own useless dad had skipped town? Not the easiest thing. Sure, he could talk to people, joke around, rile them up. But yeah, not really the same thing.

 

Either way, that Harley was excited was kind of like saying that the sky was blue. Hell yeah, he was excited, he was practically buzzing with it. He looked down at his watch. Only a little bit longer till they landed, and he could get out of the airport, and make his way to the tower and just breathe again. It had been a long time since he could just breathe.

 

And going there, being there felt like something important. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Something was about to change. On that one thing, Harley was positive.

 

He grinned and looked out the window.

 

Soon.

 

---

 

“Keener!”

 

Harley whirled around, faced with Happy.

 

“Haven’t seen you in forever, Happy. See the eyebrows grew back nicely.” Harley smirked at the shadow that crossed over Happy’s face, and laughed when he muttered, “Worst few weeks of my life. Couldn’t look May in the face for…” Happy shuddered and looked at Harley.

 

“Despite that unfortunate event” added emphasis on unfortunate, Harley rolled his eyes, “it’s still good to see you kid.” Happy clapped him on the shoulder, smiling. “Just…no repeats of last time.”

 

“Sure thing, Happy.”

 

Happy glanced warily at him, “You know, I’d have more faith in that promise if you weren’t sporting the same mad scientist glint in your eyes as Tony.”

 

“Where’s Tony anyway? I thought he might…” Harley shook his head, it was stupid. Tony was a busy guy; he couldn’t get dejected every time something like this happened.

 

“He got held up. Superhero stuff. Well, Spider-Man stuff, specifically.” Harley’s eyes widened. The Spider-Man? Happy, however, didn’t take any notice of his star stuck expression, and instead moved the conversation to Harley’s luggage, “Is that all you brought? Gimme the bag. We’re going to the car. Need to get a move on.”

 

Harley, on the other hand, was not listening. Was he going to get to meet Spider-Man? That would be pretty cool. And like, the Avengers. He hadn’t even considered this until right now. He’d just been so excited to get to see Tony again, he hadn’t even entertained the thought that he might be able to meet some other real-life superheroes. And maybe, this was of course a big maybe, he’d get to work on their tech. He grinned again; his decision to go to New York for the summer seemed to be the right one.

 

“Kid, you need to stop with the smirking. You’re creeping me out.” A pause and then Happy waved his hand in front of Harley’s face, “You with me?”

 

Harley looked over at the other, eyes shining with excitement, “Of course. Never been better.”

 

---

 

Pulling up in front of the tower was something else. Avengers headquarters, his brain supplied. Wow, so maybe Harley was a lot more excited about the prospect of superheroes than he’d ever thought he’d be. Apart from Iron Man, of course. Iron Man had always been cool. Now he just needed to figure out how to act cool in front of these people.

 

Fake it till you make, or something stupid like that. Harley sighed. Great start. Good job, idiot.

 

“Earth to Harley, you home?”

 

“Huh?” He turned to face Happy, incomprehension visible on his face. Happy snorted, and gestured to the door, “We’re here. Just go in through the front entrance, and don’t take the main elevator but the one off to right. Hey, are you even listening to me right now? What’s with you teenagers and spacing out? The amount of times Peter just zones out on me is just--”

 

“Peter?” Harley asked uncertainly.

 

“Yeah, Tony’s intern or pseudo adopted kid or whatever you wanna call it. About your age. Real smart kid, but head in the clouds. Saw him walk into a wall the other day.” Happy chuckled.

 

Tony had…adopted a kid?

 

What was that sudden jab in his stomach? Tunnel vision. Shortness of breath. Anxiety.

 

Had he been replaced? Maybe. Harley wouldn’t be surprised. Nobody ever really wanted him around forever. He’d learned that the hard way before. Guess the lesson hadn’t stuck…

 

Happy peered at him, “You two would probably get along.”

 

“Who?”

 

“You and Peter.”

 

Ah, the heavy feeling in his stomach was definitely real. Dammit. He forced a weak smile, “I’ll take your word for it.”

 

Harley reached opened the door, ready to run from this conversation, but most importantly, the ugly feelings that were starting to take hold. This was supposed to be the best summer. And right now, it wasn’t off to a great start.

 

Happy grabbed his arm. “You ok? You’re looking a little—”

 

“I’m fine. Don’t worry about it. Just tired.”

 

“Alright but you can always talk to me if you want. Just a phone call away.” Happy offered awkwardly. Harley’s lips twitched a little, “Thanks.”

 

“Now, skedaddle. I’ve got places to be. Friday will know once you’re in the building. Just go to Tony’s personal elevator, I repeat, don’t use the main elevator, and she’ll take you where you need to go.”

 

“Thanks, Happy.”

 

“Sure thing.”

 

He excited the car and headed for the tower. He scanned the entrance area, now where was that elevator? Apparently, conveniently placed near the main elevator. Harley hitched the bag further up his arm and headed towards the elevator. Once inside, he was immediately greeted, “Welcome to the tower, Harley.”

 

Harley grinned at the voice, “Why Friday, is that you? Did you miss me?”

 

“Of course. Never a dull moment in your presence, or at least that’s what Boss says. Also, Boss is on his floor, waiting for you. Want me to take you to him?”

 

“Thanks, Fri. That’d be great.”

 

The ride up was quick. And the closer he got to the top, the more nervous he got. But that was ridiculous. Harley didn’t get nervous. He was just. Excited. Yeah, lying to yourself doesn’t work super well. He groaned. He was being ridiculous. Tony had invited him. There was no need to be this unsure now. Whoever this Peter was, he could deal with it. And maybe they’d be friends. Heavy emphasis on maybe. Because Harley didn’t really do friendship. With a personality as abrasive as his, that was kind of to be expected. And he preferred working on projects to being with people most of the time anyway.

The elevator doors opened. And stood before him was Tony Stark in the flesh.

 

“Kid! You made it! How was the trip? Everything went alright, I hope? You hungry? We could order in. And then the workshop. There is so much I want to show you. I think you’ll really liked it.” Tony ushered him out the elevator as he spoke, guiding him to the sofa.

 

Harley ducked his head, hiding his smile. Seemed like maybe he wasn’t the only one excited for this summer. Maybe he didn’t have anything to be worried about. He glanced up at Tony, “Everything’s really good.”

 

Tony beamed.

 

Suddenly, a crash sounded through the apartment. Tony snapped his head in the direction of the sound, cursing under his breath, then, “Friday, report.”

 

“Boss, it’s just Peter. Seems he walked into the bookcase with the wooden figurines. Nothing is broken but it would appear that he’s panicking just the tiniest bit.”

 

Immediately, Harley’s mood dropped. Peter was here? Great.

 

But Tony just laughed. And really, it sounded like maybe Friday was as well.

 

Tony turned to Harley once more, smiling. “I have someone to introduce you to! I think you’ll really like him. His name is—”

 

“Peter. Yeah, Happy mentioned him.”

 

“Oh,” Tony deflated a bit, pouting really. “I was supposed to introduce you two.”

 

Harley really didn’t know what to say to that.

 

But before he had to figure anything out, a door behind him opened, followed by a hesitant rambling voice, “Mr. Stark, sorry. But I-I didn’t break anything…uh, not this time. Unlike last time, with the cups…in the kitchen. Can I just say I’m sorry about that again? And—”

 

“Kid, don’t sweat it.” Tony replied. Then he started waving him over, “There’s someone I want you to meet!”

 

Harley turned around, not really knowing what to expect. Fluffy hair, huge brown eyes, overall adorable everything was definitely not it. He swallowed. This was unexpected.

 

“Um…” The guy’s –no Peter’s– eyes flickered between Tony and Harley as he took a few steps closer to them. He stuck out his hand to Harley, who stared silently at the outstretched hand, his brain not quite keeping up, still dumbstruck by the cute guy that had just like appeared in front of him, almost missing the, “My name is Peter. Peter Parker.”

 

But Harley just continued to stare.

 

And Peter stared back.

 

Slowly, Peter's face turned red.

 

And Harley’s mind short-circuited.

 

This was so not good.

 

He was screwed.