Pairing: Tony Stark/Harry Osborn
A/N: Hopefully this will have purged my system of this ridiculous crossover. Movieverses all round. Harry hates that Tony is almost perfect; Tony hates that Harry whines.
When the sheen faded, and Harry's friends became traitors and his partners became wary, he didn't know where to turn. Weakness was never something his father tolerated, and told Harry this every time he came home with less than stellar grades, a split lip, or the beginnings of a peer-caught cold. Of course, his father wasn't around to look down on him anymore.
Who needs friends, as the saying so spitefully ended, but Harry never really had enemies. He had Tony Stark. The perfect son, the business heir, the sparkling mirror to Harry's pond-dull reflection. When Harry was just a kid, plotting the ultimate science fair project with Peter, Tony had already been hitting headlines for years, with three innovation awards under his belt. They had met and shaken hands under plenty of circumstances: Harry, pre-pubescent and shy, meeting his father's rival for the first time; formal and impassive when Harry sat in on meetings; trying to match Tony's strong grip, just after his father died.
Tony didn't like Harry, because he didn't like children or liabilities or, really, people. But Harry only had a row of hunched backs and awkward sideways glances to meet him. He didn't know who else to go to.
"You're pretty far out of your neck of the woods," Tony told him, when Harry arrived by taxi at seven in the balmy evening. He was dressed down, and Harry realised he had never seen him looking so casual. He was used to the suits and presentation of business, and it made Harry uncomfortable. "What can I do you for?"
"I don't know," Harry said, honestly.
Tony looked at him hard. He had an open, relaxed face that welcomed the press into his thoughts and women into his bed, but his eyes had an intensity to them that Harry had noticed even as a boy. He felt scrutinised, and wasn't sure if Tony – playboy, womaniser, drunkard, genius – had the right to try and dissect him.
He felt young and stupid and didn't know why he was there. What Harry wanted, needed, was for someone to tell him that his father had loved him. Tony Stark only knew the image Norman had projected to the masses.
"Come on in," Tony said, finally. "We'll have a drink and a pizza and you can, I don't know, drown your teenage woes."
"I'm twenty three," Harry told him, stepping inside the house anyway.
"Doesn't time fly, etcetera etcetera."
Harry's once vast wine cellar had depleted rather rapidly since his father's death. He downed hundreds of dollars in a few glasses, caring little for vintage or region. Tony, at least, had an appreciation for his sin. The scotch he poured Harry was rich and warm, and didn't burn his throat as he downed the glass, holding it out instantly for another. "Bad habit," Tony muttered, filling his glass.
"Don't lecture me," Harry said, and slid loosely onto Tony's sofa, staring into the fireplace. It was a different kind of extravagance than his father's mansion, a far more modern and minimalist opulence. Everything looked like it cost money and time and manpower. Harry's house was full of remnants of an older empire, where riches had been taken rather than earned. Oscorp was stuck perpetually in the past, and whenever Harry tried to move it forward, some ghost gripped at his sleeves and whispered stay back, stay back.
Tony didn't need any background on Oscorp's latest disaster. "I knew Octavius," he said, settling next to Harry without looking at him. "He was a loner. Tragic genius, know what I mean? He had his wife and his science and not much else. He was determined, and I admire that, but you gotta know when to step down. It cost him," he finished, grimly.
Harry laughed bitterly, his scotch bubbling under his breath. "He was a maniac."
"He wanted to make his world a better place," Tony said. He always sounded so sure-footed.
Tony was lauded, even as a warmonger, and respected for carrying on his father's mantle and credos. Harry had laughed when he'd thrown that away for some absurd new humanitarian approach. He had laughed, at first, but then Tony started pumping out revelations in hydrogen storage, creating atmospheric filtering systems, building high-efficiency wind farms along the American coast. Harry had stopped laughing. Tony Stark was saving the world all over again, and Harry was sitting in his out-of-date living room, drinking red wine and wondering what went wrong.
"How do you do it?" Harry asked, looking at Tony. He seemed so ordinary in the firelight. He was a man, like any other, who fought and fucked and went on living. "How do you make everyone adore you?"
"People loathe me," Tony said with a smile. "But they enjoy it. You make it fun for them, and they'll always come back for more."
"I think my father hated me," Harry said abruptly. It was the first time he'd said it aloud. He had thought it, briefly, before now, but always as a question and never such a blunt and vicious statement.
"I'd say more indifferent," Tony said, and it hurt. It hurt Harry on some deep and raw level. So many people had told him, in his extended period of grief, how much his father adored him, and wanted the best for him, and was a good man, always a good man. Here was Tony Stark with his casual truth, and Harry hated him for letting it slip between his lips so thoughtlessly.
He stood up. Harry was neither taller nor stronger than Tony, but he stood anyway, as a useless symbol. "You have no fucking right," he hissed, "to talk to me like that."
Tony didn't rise to it. "We're the sons of very proud men," he said wryly, swirling the ice in his glass. "They created us in their image."
"Like gods," Harry said.
"Like gods, very good. But they weren't. They were just regular joes with a bit more grey stuff in the brain than your average blue-collar. We were doomed from the start."
"I hate how you can know me so well," Harry whispered, and it was true. All the fight had gone from him. He and Tony were too much the same for this petty rivalry. Their companies could bicker and bitch all they wanted, but now, tonight, Harry wanted someone to talk to. Tony was his kindred spirit, and his perfect companion, and his yin – if only their lives hadn't thrown them into antithesis from the start. Peter had always been a little too smart for Harry, too star-struck and too different.
Like sewage, it spilled out and couldn't be taken back.
"My best friend killed my father," Harry said.
"I've always found friends to be a liability," Tony said, and that was enough. For only the second time since Norman's death, Harry found himself crying into the back of his hands. Then, he had cried for his father. Now, it felt like he was crying for himself.
"Fuck," he heard Tony say. "Look. Harry. That's not going help anything."
"I know," Harry said. He didn't take his hands away. He didn't want to see Tony pitying him. It struck him, oddly, that this probably wasn't something Tony was emotionally equipped to deal with. Tony was the kind of man who surrounded himself with hearsay rather than people, and to have a grown man crying on his couch was presumably way out of his comfort zone. He put his hands in his lap and looked at Tony's blurred face. Tony wasn't looking back.
It made Harry feel perversely better, just a little, to know that there were things even Tony Stark couldn't handle.
"I've got Haagen Dazs in the freezer and a boxset of Die Hard movies," Tony told him. "Talking's pretty over-rated."
"My father thought I was weak."
"You know what? So did mine. Buck up, cowboy," Tony said. All the same, he put a hand on Harry's shoulder. The act was unnatural to him, and Tony didn't linger for long, but it was a gesture. He disappeared into the kitchen and returned with ice cream, two spoons and a six-pack.
It had been a long time since Harry had been drunk in company. He forgot that he barely knew Tony, and that he had come here to bemoan the unhappy twists of his life, and that when he was sober again, Peter would still have killed his father. He forgot it, for a moment, and sat close enough to Tony to touch his arm, and listened to him talk the night away.
Tony didn't deal in absolutes like trust. It was too flimsy a concept, too easily ripped apart by logic. He had vague expectations of his employees, faith enough in Pepper and Rhodes, but he was wary of relationships in general. People were, in his experience, full of hypocrisy and betrayal, and he tried not to keep acquaintances for more than one night.
Harry had his night, and proceeded to grossly outstay his welcome.
Feelings weren't something Tony tended to discuss, and he didn't exactly enjoy being used as an outlet for post-traumatic musings on life, death, and everything in between (by Harry Osborn, Aged Twenty-Whatever and Something Quarters). Deep down, beneath the glow of the reactor and the shards of metal lining his skin, Tony did have a heart, and some of what Harry said stuck to him. He dredged up old emotions about his father, his ethos, his carefully carved world of machines and artificiality. It was just that, frankly, Harry whined.
Tony liked to think he was egotistic but not selfish. Harry was a sad mix of both.
"Don't you have better things to do with your time? And your mouth?" Tony muttered at him. Last time he'd said that was to a leggy blonde from the Deep South, who had taken instant offence and then proceeded to prove exactly how skilled her mouth was. It was an unfortunate spark to a train of thought Tony would probably regret – but, after all, he couldn't claim that Harry was unattractive.
He wondered if – hypothetically, of course – he were to have sex with Harry, would that demote him to the poor rank of rebound shag? Could it be classed as such when Harry was on the rebound from his dead father?
If Tony was perfectly honest with himself, he didn't mind having Harry around. It was an interesting side project, on top of the slightly more life-threatening one he had launched himself into – a glimpse into human reality. Pepper would've approved. He installed Harry in one of his many spare rooms with a laptop, webcam, phone and cable, and told him he could hide out for a week or two. "Just catch a breather," he said. "Stay out of town for a few days, get your head sorted. I'll kick you out when I get fed up."
"I hate how you're so genial about it all. I just turned up on your doorstep." Harry told Tony how much he hated him on a regular basis. It was getting tiring.
"Yeah, well. You improve the view and you're cheaper than a Kandinsky."
Since his minor breakdown, Harry had open up somewhat, and that apparently meant being more physical. He was the sort of guy who touched casually, on a shoulder or a hip – a habit he'd certainly not picked up from his father. Tony suspected it was his schooling.
He came back from a press conference (this was his cover story, at least) to find Harry crouched in the corner of the lounge, his head between his knees. Tony rolled his eyes out of habit, hovered for a moment, then bent down and put his hand awkwardly on Harry's curled back. He couldn't decide whether to go for a reassuring pat or to shake Harry gently back into sense, and ended up half stroking the bumps of his spine.
"Peter—" Harry started.
"Isn't here," Tony said firmly. "So I don't care. Get up."
Tony was used to solving problems. There was always an equation or a blueprint or a circuit that could fix whatever needed fixing. But Harry's problem was too mortal for Tony's particular expertise. He couldn't flick a switch and make Harry okay. Tony only had his own experience to draw on, and when he found himself thinking too much, or wondering what his father would've said, or wishing that machines weren't as unforgiving as flesh – well, he fucked someone. It was a pleasant enough respite.
He took Harry to his bedroom. "There's the bed. Here's us. Get undressed," Tony said, unbuttoning his shirt.
"What are you doing?" Harry asked, red-faced.
"I'm dealing the way I know how," Tony told him, and then kissed him. It certainly shut the kid up. Tony had garnered enough practice over the years to know how people liked to be kissed, and Harry seemed pliant and curious under his lips. In one of his many existential crises over the past few days, Harry had told Tony that, as a child, he had kissed his best friend (male) to show him what it felt like. This wasn't like that. It wasn't like that at all.
Harry's already-wide lips seemed even more flush when Tony pulled back. "You're not very good at people, are you?" he said, breathlessly.
"Never bothered to learn," Tony replied, pushing Harry's shirt down from his shoulders. "But you're hardly an improvement, so we're pretty damn matched."
Tony helped Harry forget, for a moment, with his hands and his mouth and his skin. He was fairly good at it.
He woke up the next morning to an empty bed and crumpled sheets. Tony suspected this must be how most of his girls awoke, and felt briefly guilty. He wandered into the kitchen, poured a bowl of cereal, and walked through the house chewing on his spoon. Harry's room was empty. He hadn't even bothered to leave a note, the prick. It was to be expected.
Harry's mind was in a bad place, and sexual confusion on top of that probably hadn't been the best of plans, but it was what Tony did. He could turn around a business, turn his life around for the better, but he couldn't turn back from his instincts. The same with Harry, he supposed. If Harry were going to get over his father, then he'd crawl through it.
If he wasn't, then god help the poor bastard who ever laid a fucking finger on Harry Osborn's dad.