Title: "With Friends Like These"
Author: monimala
Fandom: Spiderman 3/Heroes
Rating/Classification: SAC, angst, filler fic for "Spiderman 3," Harry, Nathan, Harry/Peter/Peter slash implied.
Disclaimer: Not my characters, not my universes.
Summary: 750 words. It's almost funny, but Harry can't laugh.

The ice clinks in the bottom of Harry's glass as he sets it down. Half his face is draped in shadow, but that didn't stop his guest from wincing, from crossing the room to clap a hand on his shoulder and gasp in one of those falsely concerned voices, "What happened?" He smiled with as much of his lips as he could… one corner doesn't move anymore… and bit off some quip about an unfortunate incident while firing up the barbecue before mixing them both a cocktail.

Now, he's finding himself bombarded by Nathan's poise, his pitch, and his perfect Petrelli political savvy. It's almost funny, but he can't laugh. It still hurts too much.

"OsCorp would be a valuable backer at a time like this, but, more than that, Harry, I could use you as a friend." Nathan is insincerely sincere, with his dark eyes and intensity and starched shirts.

He has way too much "friends" like this; people you hobnob with at charity functions and nod to at dinners with the mayor. People you use as stepping-stones, as support beams, as building blocks in your career. His father's cronies and squash buddies, who have now suddenly become his. "How's Peter?" he asks, quietly, because that… that's who *he* was friends with. "I haven't heard from him in months."

The Adventures of Pete and Pete… and Harry. That's what they dubbed it the first day of freshman year, when Mrs. Teasdale called roll and they all ended up back-to-back.

"One of these things is not like the other," he'd sing-songed. They automatically suggested he change his name to conform, but he figured his dad wouldn't be so fond of "Peter Posborn."

"I don't know, Man, it has a nice ring to it," Petrelli laughed.

Before too long, they were pretty much inseparable. Him and his two buddies, hunched over homework in study hall and flicking notebook paper footballs back and forth, with Petrelli rolling his eyes as Parker accidentally hit the back of Mary Jane's head and turned as red as her hair with embarrassment. "Loser," he'd mouth at Parker good-naturedly, daring him to prove the contrary.

"I am not a loser, Harry. MJ's going to notice me one day. You know she is."

"Well, until then, you've got us, okay?"

"Peter's fine." This, too, is a slick lie. Nathan doesn't even blink as he tells it. He'll probably make a brilliant senator. He probably deserves it. "Still working in private nursing. As you know, he had some emotional problems recently."

Sure. Harry saw the PR sound byte on the news, sandwiched in between the latest escapades of Spiderman. He didn't know what was bigger bullshit. The Adventures of Pete and Pete… and Harry. Yeah. Right.

"Can I count on your support?"

"Of course you can, Nathan." It's a slick lie. Harry doesn't blink as he tells it. "Give Peter my best."

They would meet at the train, slouching on different sides of the pole, acting like they barely knew each other. It was almost like a game. Brushing shoulders, muttering, "Hey, Asshole, watch it!" and seeing who could keep from laughing the longest.

And then they'd stumble home, gorging on whatever snack food was stocked in the fridge before Harry swiped his hand over Peter's face, playing with those ridiculously long bangs and telling him he looked like a girl.

"Really?" Peter would whisper. "I'm a girl?"

"Uh huh, but don't worry, I've got a gift with girls."

Harry waits till Nathan's been shown out before he pours himself another drink. The alcohol burns his mouth, sanitizes it, and he pretends his father's painting isn't watching him across the room… watching him in every corner, every shadow… judging his every step.

He's not stupid. He knows that Peter (Parker, that is) was right: Dad despised him. Dad hated everything about him. Dad hated coming home to male laughter drifting from his bedroom and hated the excuses like, "Oh, we were just studying," and "Peter stopped by with some papers from Nathan." Of course, then he found out dear old Dad's closet is way bigger than his. Way bigger, way more tricked out.

"Harry, we love you. You know that, right?"

He's still remembering what it was like to touch Peter, to be that close to both of them --to laugh with them and feel their skin under his lips-- when Spiderman arrives at the balcony doors. When his old friend and his new enemy asks for his help.


May 6, 2007.

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