2019-03-31 - Stage Fright - Aftermash


Harry and Peter flee from the disastrous Zatanna Zatara opening…in a limo.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Mar 31 00:00:00 2019
Location: Osborn Limousine, en route to Queens, New York.

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Theme Song




Peter trembled in the plush seat of the limousine. Harry watched over him as the limousine sped towards Queens, and away from the mad scene at Zatanna Zatara's opener.

Harry looked both worried and angry. Worried that Peter had seen or heard (or, Hell, SMELLED) something that had scared him to death. Peter was no coward, he knew that much. Anyone who could suffer through the degradations of his classmates in general and Flash Thompson and Carl King in particular and still show up at school, knowing what was waiting for him…

Sometimes he wished he had met Peter long before a year ago, when he had been told the best guy to get him through Physics was the thin kid with the glasses (although he wore contacts these days). He thought the guy was just stand-offish, full of himself and his big brain. He'd been wrong—he was just painfully shy, and the recipient of bullying so pervasive he was amazed Peter hadn't blown himself to smithereens in a chemistry "accident."

That had been because of his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Real salt-of-the-earth people. They had kept him going, kept him sane, kept him from turning into some high-IQ school shooter. When his Uncle had died, it had wrecked him…but he had come back.

He just hoped Peter could come back from this.

He was angry because Peter had just…jumped in. Some crazy magic show where the rabbit coming out of the hat was the killer rabbit you needed the Holy Handgrenade of Antioch to kill, and Peter just ran in with his IQ and nothing else. He was angry because this is what a lifetime of bullying had done to Peter and he wanted to protect the best friend he'd ever had in his life…from himself.

Peter suddenly made a wet, choking noise, and Harry knew that sound all too well. He told the driver to pull over, but got the wastebasket just in case.

Peter held on for JUST long enough for the car to stop, for Harry to push open the door, and then there went his last couple of meals. Dinner had been pretty good, too, that Italian joint in Chelsea. Harry waited for the heaving to stop and then pulled Peter back to a sitting position, a bottle of ginger ale handy. "Drink up. It'll help."

Peter drank, two large gulps. Harry took it away, waiting. "Give it a minute."

Peter's color was better. He looked wide-eyed to Harry. "I saw it. It was…it was horrifying. She looked at me…AND IT WAS NOT HER."

Harry patted his shoulder. He didn't know much about magic, but he had an aide check out the building. It had a history, and Harry had figured it would lend ambiance. But the haunted house had been haunted for real. Peter was not the kind of kid to embellish, even for story's sake.

"…Pete, I'm sorry."
"Not…your fault…gimme that bottle, please, I think I'm gonna…" And then he leaned out of the open door and urped again. So much for the last drink he had, but it wasn't as nasty. He pulled himself back in, then took another few swigs.

"Peter, I swear, if I had known…"
"You didn't, Harry." Peter gave him the trace of a smile.

Harry looked relieved, but his brows were still furrowed. He pulled out his cell phone. "Crazy witch…I swear, a week from now, she won't be able to open at little Timmy's tenth BIRTHDAY PARTY, let alone Vegas-"
Harry looked at Peter, who was giving him a wounded look.
"DON'T. Wasn't her fault…and some hero types took care of it. Don't ask me how, but they took care of it."

Harry looked into his face, and for a moment, he looked like his father, all hateful wrath. Not that Peter would say that to Harry's face. Then Norman Osborn's face drained out of Harry's face, and he put the phone away. "…Okay, Petesky. But if you have to go to therapy, that witch is paying for it."

Peter smiled. "Yeah. Therapy? We Irish Catholics don't do therapy. We just suck it up and keep on goin'."

Harry nodded. "Guess you do." He reached over to pull the door shut. "Need a little time before we head back to your place?"

"I think I'm going to finish off this bottle of ginger ale. Got any mouthwash in here?"

Harry grinned. "This here is an Osborn-designed limo. I think I could find a DRY-CLEANER in here if we needed one."

Peter actually laughed, and that laugh drained the residual anger out of him. Peter Parker, smartest guy he knew, lived like a beggar in a decades-old house and made sure the bills got paid. He himself could buy the whole damn street, ruin people like Miss Catastrophe Zatara by tomorrow breakfast…and Peter wouldn't take a cent from him.

And that was why Peter was his best friend. His supermodel girlfriend wanted him to give her $2,000 a week. His other "friends" from the prep school he got thrown out of saw him as an ATM. And to Peter…he was "Harry." The guy who Peter invited to his house in Queens for Christmas to celebrate his A in Physics. (He showed up, of course. His father's party was just business people who couldn't care less about Norman's son.)

They had seen the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy one weekend. Harry hadn't been a big sword-and-sorcery fan, but the movies were something. He and Peter had debated which characters they were. By the end of the movie, though, it was down to who was Frodo and who was Samwise. Harry had told him, "It's Samwise. You're Samwise. You were always there to help me." Peter had smiled and shrugged and said, "You're Frodo. The guy who can do great things as long as you resist temptation."

Well…that was it. Brothers in all but blood. That was them. And Harry couldn't remember being this happy since his mother died. He would do anything for Pete if Pete asked. Peter probably knew it, too, but never took advantage of that.

It was official. If Pete couldn't afford to go to Empire State in the fall, Harry was going to cover it. MIT was a no-go. Who would take care of his Aunt May? He had to stay in the city.

New York City was their home.

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