the blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine - hozier, Cherry Wine
Peter Parker-Stark’s soulmate is dead. He had died a few days after the first anniversary of Ben’s death. On December seventh, he and his Rose had talked all day. They had talked all day for that entire month, because Rose knew how much he was hurting that December.
That December had marked a year since Ben had died. Rose and him couldn’t stop talking to each other because if they did, Peter knew he would spiral. It was so bad, that december, that Rose had even forced himself to stop harming- which Peter was really grateful for. Of course he wished that Rose never self harmed, but he knew that was unrealistic in regards to healing.
If he had known what was going to come, he would’ve just begged Rose to let out his pain somehow and not bottle it up.
He remembered the feeling. The moment that his world came shattering down around him with the realization that his soulmate bond had been cut off.
If he could describe it, he would describe it like a football tackle. For a moment, you don’t know what’s happening. You’re off the ground, and there's a pressure in your lungs, and you don’t know what's happened at all, but suddenly you do. You know your soulmate was dead. And Peter- he should’ve seen it coming. He should’ve pressured Rose into meeting the first time his soulmate cut. He should’ve done better.
He should’ve saved his soulmate like he should’ve saved Ben.
The month after his soulmate died, he didn’t get out of bed. He knew his dad was worried about him, but he didn’t care. He didn’t care about anything but the fact his Rose was dead. Finally, Tony had brought Steve in.
That helped. After all, Steve’s soulmates had been Bucky and Peggy and he had lost both of them.
Slowly, he let himself breath again. By the second month all he could think about was a way to remember his rose. So he did the unthinkable and begged his dad for a tattoo. To his surprise, Tony let him get the tattoo’s he and Steve had carefully designed.
Everywhere Rose had once cut there was now a tattoo. Rose’s. For his Rose.
He loved those tattoo’s more than he loved anything in the world, because they were a reminder of the boy he loved and the boy he had lost. And that was okay. Now, three months from the time that his soulmate died, he was finally able to cope again. He was able to breath and he allowed himself to laugh and smile, no matter how hard he mourned his dead soulmate on the inside. The tattoo’s helped.
The tattoo’s helped until he felt a familiar tingle on his left arm.
Solo. Why do we have tattoos?
He stared at the cursive on his arm and tried to breath, “Friday. Get dad.”
His head was pounding as he answered back with a shaking hand. He tried his best to make it legible and he held his breath, tears welling up in his eyes. rose? is that you?
Yeah, who else would it be? We don't have a third
how are you alive, he wrote, trying his hardest not to let the tears streaming down his face fall onto the ink as he let out a rough overwhelmed sob, you died, love, i felt our bond snap
Oh. His soulmate;s hand was suddenly shaking, and Peter could see the hesitance in his script, No. I thought my mom wrote to you on my arm. No, I’m alive. I did die- but they brought me back. It wasn’t-- it wasn’t-- anything like you’re thinking. Just a problem with my heart.
Peter could feel himself tremble, as the sobs overtook him, god, youre here, youre here, i cant believe youre hear oh my rose im so sorry oh god i love you i love you i love you
His words were shakier than anything else he had ever written, but he felt their truth in his entire soul, as he sobbed, tracing over the letters of rose’s handwriting. His Rose was alive and well and with him again.
I love you too, Solo, Peter let out an even rougher sob at the reminder of his nickname, I love you so much. Are you breathing, baby?
He couldn’t say he was because he wasn’t. Instead his trembling hands wrote his love on his trembling arm, i love you more than ive ever loved anything and i love you so muchrose i love youso much somuch
Okay, baby, I need you to go get your dad. Can you do that?
yes, Peter clutched at his arm, hes on his way
Okay, love. I’m here.
“He’s here,” Peter’s voice hitched, sobbing hard, “Oh god- rose is alive- he’s here.”
His father came into the room, and stared at him wide eyed, before pulling him into a hug, “It's okay. It's okay. I’ve got you.”
“Rose is alive-” His voice was a shout, and he was filled with so much joy as he focused on the words on his arm, “Rose is here- he’s alive dad- he’s okay- he's alive- I-”
His hands scrambled away from his dad to focus on Rose, I love you so much i love you more than i can say im so happy youre okay im really really happy
I know you are, baby, Rose’s cursive was amazing to see on his skin, I know you are. I’m going to be okay. Just keep breathing.
He started laughing, a small broken song, and he presses his face to his father's shoulders and wrote out without looking, im breathing fine but do you like the tattoos?
Yes. I love them so much- I love the roses.
Good. theyre for you.
His dad rubbed his shoulder, “Your Rose is alive, kid.”
Nothing could describe the joy he was feeling at the moment. His Rose was alive and well and he was breathing. The feeling of him dying had been nothing more than a fluke and he was breathing and okay. Thank god. Thank god.
They’re for you too, Solo, Rose stopped writing for a moment then resumed, Listen, I have to go for a medical examination- but I’ll be back as soon as I can. I love you, Solo.
Peter sobbed, I love you too.
He waited for words to come and when no more did he turned to his dad with wet eyes and a smile so big it hurt, “He’s alive, Dad. He’s really alive.”
“I know kiddo,” Tony smiled softly, “He’s alive.”
For now, that was enough.
Peter was sure that when Rose got back, he would ask him about what happened and a million questions about if he was okay. He’d ask him if there was anything he could do or anything he could help with. He’d offer to steal the moon from the sky for him.
But for now, he leaned into his dad and sobbed tears that left him feeling lighter than he had in months.
it looks ugly but its clean / mama dont fuss over me - hozier, Cherry Wine
Harley looked at his mom, staring at the paper in her hands with wide eyes, “Mama-”
“I want you to take that internship, Harley,” Macy Keener’s hands were trembling, “I need you too.”
“No buts harley,” His mom had clearly been trying not to cry the entire afternoon, “I want you to apply for that fancy Stark internship in New York because you and I both know that you need it.”
He swallowed, slowly taking the paperwork out of her hands, “I can’t do this to you, ma. You need me here.”
“Harley, they almost-”
“Stop.” Harley closed his eyes and breathed, “You need me here for Abbie and to take care of the taxes and to help you make money. I’m not filling this out.”
His mom sat down, and she tucked some of her long curly hair out of her face. Harley secretly had a desire to grow his hair out, just to see if he had the same ringlets. She ran a hand over her face and looked at him, “Yes you are.”
“Mama, I can’t.”
“Yes you can,” her voice was stern, “You can because all those things you worry about here won’t be there in New York. Your sister and I can’t join you yet because she has to get passed the fifth grade and then she needs to pass sixth.”
“But I-” His hands were trembling, “I have to finish my sophomore year. I need- I need to complete my junior year too.”
“Oh, Harley, they’re paying for all those accepted in the internship to go to that fancy STEM school in Midtown,” Harley knew the one. Anyone who went there was almost guaranteed admission to MIT. His mom smiled softly, “And even more, it's a place where you can thrive.”
“I don’t want to leave you.”
“It’d only be for a little bit,” She reached out and smoothed his hair out of his forehead, “It’d only be until the next school year. The program is reviewing applicants next month, and then accepting the month after that. You’d only have a month of your sophomore year left by the time you get there, and then the summer and then your junior year and then me and Abbie are going to come up so she can go to junior high up there. Okay?”
“But mom,” Halrey tried not to show the fact that the idea of getting out of Rosehill was probably the best thing he had ever thought about, “What will you do about money? I know the only reason we were able to buy that used car was because I’ve been workin’ at Frankies.”
“Well, you see,” She pointed to something on the papers, “It's a paid internship.”
His breath caught in his throat, “Mom this is- 27 dollars an hour- is-”
“Is fantastic and amazing,” her smile was soft, “And I want you to keep all of it.”
“You heard me, Harley David,” Her smile was soft but her voice was firm, even if there were tears in her eyes at the idea of letting her son go, “I want you to keep all the money you make in New York and save up for college. MIT doesn’t come cheap.”
She leaned over and kissed his forehead, and gave her patented Macy Keener ‘I’m-a-proud-mama’ look, “You’re brilliant. And you haven’t had the easiest time in this town or this life. So I’m asking you to fill out this application and go to New York. Okay?”
“Okay,” He swallowed again, and the next words that flew out of his mouth were ones he didn't mean to say, “Are you sure you wanting me to apply for this internship isn't you wanting to meet the reason you have that scar on your chest, mom?”
He watched as her words impacted her, but instead of the far away look she usually got when he mentioned the soulmate she never spoke to, she just shook her head, “That road is closed for me Harley. He has a son-”
“-and I have a family,” She kissed his forehead again, “Besides, after your father I don’t want to be in a relationship. I just wanna focus on my brilliant son and wonderful daughter.”
“All the more reason I shouldn’t be doing this,” The excuse sounded feeble to his own ears, “What if he comes back?”
“I just.. I’m scared.”
“I know you are, sweetpea,” Macy laughed wetly and Harley was struck with just how good of a mother she was, “I know you are. But I’m not. Because when you get that internship you’ll be good and safe and happy, in a place where a person as smart as you is allowed to be their brilliant, amazing, awesome selves. Okay?”
“Now,” She cleared her throat and wiped her eyes, and pulled away from the kitchen, “You go and fill that out and I’ll mail it first thing in the morning, on express to New York.”
She turned to him, and he stood and gave her the biggest hug he could, “I love you.”
“I love you too sweet pea,” his mom gave the best hugs in the entire world, and he loved her absolutely so much.
He would spend the next hour filling out his application for the internship, trying to make himself sound like a very amazing person who was totally worth investing in. If it was just based on brains, Harley would be in no problem, but because a portion of it was who you were as a person, he had to bear his heart and soul out to the people who would be admitting him.
That night, when he had seen his mom off to the night shift and tucked Abbie into bed, he allowed himself to dream. Of towering buildings, and Iron Man, and of a boy in Queens called Solo. He dreamt of being loved and accepted by more than just his family and he dreamt of comfort and a home beyond the rose bushes.
He dreamt of New York city.
it's worth it its divine / i have this some of the time - hozier, Cherry Wine
Friday nights were take out nights. Usually, they included Aunt May and Pepper, and Rhodey, and the rest of the avengers, but tonight it was just him and dad. He pretended like he didn't know the reason was that his aunt and pepper had decided to go on a date, and the rest of the avengers and rhodey had gone to a charity thing for some corrupt company they were doing a mission on.
Instead Peter pressed into his dad's side and hummed, “Tell me again about my parents?”
“You know, you ask this story every friday night,” Tony teased, “One would think you don’t see me as a parent.”
“As if, dad,” He rolled his eyes and leaned more into him, shoveling the take out into his mouth at a rapid speed, chewing while he talked, “You raised me, they just gave me life and a few good memories.”
Tony smiled at him, eyes twinkling, “Well your mom, Mary, was a biochemist who went to Harvard, and your dad was one of me and Rhodey’s sweetmates at MIT. Richard and Mary hated each other before they realized that hate was just misplaced attraction and finally went on a date. They got married a year out of college, and moved to New York with me to help Stark Industry into the prosthetics game. They had you a few years down the line and loved you to death. They took you everywhere- but your favorite place to be was hanging with me. Of course, back then I wasn’t ‘dad’ I was just ‘Uncie Tony!’” He did an impression of four year old Peter, “but you were still practically my kid, and Mary and Richard loved that about you.”
“Dad,” He whined, pouting, “You’re not telling it right.”
“Well, bug, I can’t tonight because,” He motioned to the stack of papers on the table, “You and I are going to be finding the last person in the program.”
Peter felt excitement spark through him and he gasped, “Oh my god- actually?”
“Yep, actually,” His dad just looked amused, “I know I said you weren’t allowed but I’ve narrowed it down to five kids, and I want you to tell me who should be it.”
“Okay, Okay,” He grinned, “I’m so unprepared for this you don’t even know-”
“Oh I know.”
“Come on dad, this is a person that's gonna be living with us,” Peter moved to scoop up the papers, “And it's going to be wonderful.”
“Yes, yes it is,” His dad reached for one.
Slowly they fell into a rhythm of looking for another person for the program. Peter stretched and shifted so his feet were splayed across the couch and his back was resting on his dad's arm, “So, this Arthur Read guy seems nice.”
“Yeah,” Tony nodded, “But I don't know- something about him feels fishy.”
“Hmm..” Tony looked at the town he was from, “I’ve got it- I can’t believe I didn’t realize it before, but this kid from the town in Alabama that picketted that school teachers wedding because they thought he should’ve married her cousin, not his husband.”
“So, if he’s anything like his town,” He motioned between the two of them, “Then living with two openly bi men- and that Lesbian girl from Chicago, Riri, and Shuri who is… all kinds of gay, and Harry who is even more gay than Shuri- would probably be a nightmare.”
Peter nodded, “You’re right, to be honest. Okay- what about the next one, Arnold Perlstein?”
“He seems nice enough,” His dad's brow furrowed, “But I think that the fact he doesn't like change but wants to live with the Avengers is fishy. I don’t think this would be the healthiest environment for him.”
“Oh, Okay,” He skipped past the next one, “I took a look at Lisa Simpson and something about her family just gives me weird vibes. I don't know, man.”
“Alright,” his dad grabbed the two last applications, “So we’re down to Phineas Flynn or Harley Keener.”
Something in his chest stirred, and he swallowed down a strange lump, “Um… this file says he has separation anxiety and we already didn’t accept his brother ferb. Best go with..” He fell silent as he looked at the picture submitted for Harley Keener.
The photo was obviously taken from a time where Harley wasn’t looking at the taker. He had a smile on his face, something soft and slow and sweet. His jawline was sharp but his skin looked soft to the touch. He had thousands of freckles splayed across his skin, and his blue eyes were looking down at the book he was reading. It was a side shot, profiling his arms and chest, and it was perhaps the most beautiful thing in the entire world.
What Peter wouldn’t do to take a picture of that beautiful boy and model him forever.
He blinked and shook his head. Sure- Harley was hot, but Rose was his soulmate and he would never betray his Rose. He just wouldn’t.
Tony was staring at him with a raised brow, “Best to go with?”
“That Harley Keener guy,” He tried to play nonchalant, like he hadn’t just been dreaming of making a catalog (calendar??) of only this boys face, “He’s got a perfect SAT score too, and he's only a sophomore.”
“Right,” his dad hummed, looking away, “His mom sent a letter too-”
Pete tuned out his dad.
Was he a bad person for finding this boy so attractive? Was he betraying Rose by thinking about the way Harley’s lips looked? No. He wasn’t. Having a thought wasn’t a crime, it was just acting on them that was unfair.
He lived Rose and he didn’t know this Harley Keener kid. He was just attracted to him, but he wasn’t in love with him. It was perfectly fine to be attracted.
Peter itched to write on his skin, reaching for a pen and scribbling down, i really love you
I love you too, Rose responded in seconds, what was that for?
Just thinking about you.
His dad looked up, “Hey are you paying attention at all?”
“Uh,” He blinked, “Yes?”
“I’ll take that as a no,” Tony rolled his eyes and reached over Peter to grab some take out, “But we’ve decided right? Harley Keener?”
“Yep. Harley Keener.”
“Well,” His dad shoved some food in his face, “I’m gonna write his acceptance letter and send it away tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Peter chewed at his fork, “Are we watching star wars now?”
“Yes, we’re watching star wars now Solo.”
“You’re just a super nerd, you know that?”
“And you’re mean to me!”
“I am your loving father! How dare you!”
And Peter relaxed into the easy banter, all thoughts of the beautiful Harley Keener out of his head.
her fight and fury is fiery / oh but she loves -hozier, Cherry Wine
Harley was shaking slightly. They said his mom could come with him on the plane- but only after he had confessed to the Stark Industries employee he’d been messaging that he had never actually been on a plane before. He was still slightly shocked that he had gotten accepted.
His mom wasn’t. No, Macy Keener knew that if anyone would get accepted it would be her son. Of course, Harley hadn’t put all his faith in a mother's love, but he was here on the plane to new york.
“Breath, Harley,” His mom was staring at the window of the private jet, trying to keep it together herself, “It's going to be okay. You’ll do amazing in New York.”
He swallowed air, “I… I guess I just… don’t know how to respond to this, mom.”
“Explain your thought process.”
“I was bullied in school by people who were way better and cooler than me,” He began the shaky process of explaining his thoughts, “What if they take one look at me and decide I’m too weird and awful to actually be in the program and send me back.”
His mom considered his words, because his mom was the best mom in the world, and always took his fears seriously, “Okay. Well… I doubt that anyone there could be cooler than you, especially when considering that you’re one of the smartest people in the country if your IQ is anything to go by. Remember this isn’t going to be like high school. This is a meeting of the smartest kids in the country and you are one of those kids. They’re not gonna send you back because they’ll see you’re too brilliant to hold back anymore.”
“Okay,” His eyes were stinging, “Thank you.”
“I love you, sweetpea,” she leaned over to kiss his forehead gently, “And I’m proud of you.”
“Do you think Abbie’s still gonna be mad at me after this?”
“No, sweetpea, because she's not mad at you now,” Her hands had occupied themselves smoothing his hair, “She just wishes that we could stay with you, is all. And we’ll be coming up after you land the full time internship.”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then we’ll move up here anyway.”
He pressed his hands to his eyes, “Mom?”
“You’re my hero.”
He removed his head from his hands to see the tears in his mom’s eyes and the watery smile she had pressed to her lips, “You’re my hero too.”
He stayed quiet after that, looking out the window, heart pounding. New York City. He was going to be in Manhattan. He would be a thirty five minute drive from Queens. An hour and a minute subway ride. A four hour walk. An hour and a thirty minute bike ride. He bet he could probably get there even faster with rocket boots or some dumb way of flieght travel.
He would be so close to his soulmate that he could practically see him. He closed himself and let himself imagine the boy he was seeing, but all that sprung to mind was a discounted Han Solo in modern clothes. He fought back the urge to smile.
“You know,” His mom pressed a pen to his arm, “You could write to him.”
He flushed, “And tell him I’m coming to New york? No way. I need to make sure I can stay in New York before I tell him.”
“Just in general, sweetpea.”
“I don’t usually start our conversations,” He mumbled, looking down, “But normally, we’re talking all day. He said he had something important going on today but would answer if I wrote.”
“So write him.”
In that moment, a part of him wanted to lash out at her. She had a soulmate too, but she never spoke to him, so why would she expect Harley to reach out to his. Slowly he let go of that anger that had welled up in his chest. His mom had never been able to reach out to her soulmate. They had tried to talk when they were younger and life got in the way and now his mom didn’t think it was worth reaching out to him.
Harley wouldn’t become like his mother. He took a pen, and wrote in his soft cursive, Hey, Solo.
rose!! how are you??
I’m good, he scribbled back, already feeling the leftover tension draining from him, I just wanted to check in- see how things have been going.
me and dad are waiting for some friends, He traced over the familiar chicken scratch as it appeared, were really excited to see them
yeah!! this is gonna be literally the best ever im literally so excited!!
Okay, how much coffee have you had? Honestly.
….a lot and its scary you knew that
Harley’s grin was wide. Nothing made him happier than Solo, and nothing made him feel more at peace than knowing his solo was out there waiting for him. They continued talking for the last twenty minutes of the flight, when they landed at the Starks private airport strip, just outside New york.
He held his breath, “I can see Mr. Stark and his son out there.”
“Oh sweetpea,” Macy was going to cry, “I’m so proud of you. You’ve done good- okay. Okay. Let's get out there, and you and I can say goodbye. Alright?”
Harley was too excited to do anything but nod. They grabbed his bags- two beat up suitcases that his mom had had since she was a teenager- and slowly made their way off the private jet. He was scared but excited. It felt like he was opening a new chapter of his life.
Tony Stark met them at the bottom of the plane’s stairs, “Welcome to the big city, Mr. Keener! Try not to get too scared by the fact that we don't have stars, it's just the pollution, you'll get used to it.”
“I.. uh..” He tried to find words, “Can't imagine a sky with absolutely no stars, so that’ll be fun.”
But Mr. Stark’s attention was no longer on him, his eyes flitting over his mom, “And you must be Macy Keener.”
“Yes, sir,” Harley had never heard his mom so quiet or flustered, “I’m just here to see him off, like I told your fabulous employee over email.”
“Oh, that wasn’t an employee,” Harley was feeling more and more awkward by the second because he was almost certain that Mr. Stark was flirting with his mom, “That was Peter- my son. He’s been in charge of Harley’s application and process personally. However- if you’d like, you can stay for dinner?”
His mom flushed, “That's mighty sweet of you, Mr. Stark, but I gotta get home to my daughter.”
“Right,” Mr. Stark looked disappointed for a brief second, “Well, it was lovely to meet you anyway.”
“You too,” she then turned away from Tony to cup Harley's face, “Call me every night, okay?”
He nodded, pulling her into a hug, “You tell me everything that happens at the dinner, okay? If Crazy Rick gives you trouble-”
“You need to stop worrying about me, sweetpea,” she kissed the side of his head, “I’m so proud of you.”
“Thank you, Mama.”
And just like that his mom was walking back up the steps of the plane. Harley didn’t like the feeling of leaving his mom and his sister alone in Rosehill, but this was okay. This was okay. Mr. Stark touched his shoulder and he startled so badly that the old man stepped back slightly.
“You can visit her any time you want,” Mr. Stark said instead of commenting on how badly he had spooked Harley, “Say the word and you can go back and visit.”
Harley hesitated, then looked towards the limousine, where Peter Stark was putting his bag in the trunk, “I know… but I think I’m going to like it here-” he rubbed the back of his neck, trying to find the right words, “-after all we get to build things, right?”
“Yeah, kid, we do.”
He looked towards the city, and he met Peter Stark’s eye. Somewhere in Queens, his Solo was waiting.