TITLE: " . . . the green light . . . before us." DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters from SPIDER-MAN, either movie!verse or comic!verse! What I do have is an extremely contrary muse t...
Or so he manages to convince himself, for a time, in any case.
Affliction is enamoured of thy parts, And thou art wedded to calamity./
He is certain of hate. He is so sure of it that he thinks it is enough, that it will be enough, to carry him through, as he follows the devastation of his own faith with Peter's destruction and Spider-Man's doom. He loved his father. He might not have been able to stand the man, but he loved him. Norman Osborn was his /father/. The fact that, for months, Peter grew pale and sweaty and cold to the touch, whenever the topic of the Green Goblin came up, and the attacks on the World Unity Fair and Aunt May and Mary Jane and that trolley full of children were mentioned, and the fact that Harry had sworn to avenge his father's death upon Spider-Man, who he had seen bending over (returning?) the corpse of his father /with his own eyes/, simply did not and does not register. He is too sure of his hatred to notice Peter's misery or the way he lets Harry push and punish him as if he felt he deserved it.
It is the weight of inevitability in the pit of his stomach that drives him back and makes the dagger clatter from his numbed fingers when he discovers that his sworn nemesis and his best friend are, in fact, one and the same. Boneless and stunned and shattering, Harry falls away from the (sacrificially trussed) form of Peter in that battered Spider-Man costume, losing hold of the mask he himself has ripped away and knowing that pieces of himself are scattering all over the floor, feeling himself breaking open and falling to pieces on the unyielding face of reality. It does not, precisely, hurt, at least not at first. His body saw it coming, even if his mind did not, and so he is wholly numb. Of course it's Peter! Who else would it, could it, possibly be? Everything Harry touches is doomed. Even Peter. Especially Peter. Why would he ever even dare to dream differently, when he knows better, has years of proof and practice, in the fine art of inevitable entropy? So he falls. And he hates. He owns that his father was right all along, that there's beauty and joy in the destruction of a soul, because the only true power in all the world is the power to make another person suffer. And he swears he will make Peter Parker pay, that he will make him suffer as he has suffered and die as he has died, if it is the last thing he ever does, in this world..
And so he knows hate. He embraces hate. He is certain of his hate. Hate is his duty, his drive, his focus, his sole reason for being. He lives and breathes and feeds himself upon hate. His father will be avenged. He will have his revenge. Peter will pay. Spider-Man will die. And it's all the same. The very same. The same as always. The same. The same.
This time, he makes it a game. If he must die, let him die upon laughter, upon a kiss. /A kiss/. A game. He makes it a game. A game of dying, of killing, of death and destruction and /vengeance is mine/. After all, malice is but another form of hate, no?
And so, looking back forever, back and back, to sharp features parred dagger-fine with insanity and a cruel laugh, the echoes of which are still caught in the hollowed out, partially open spaces between the walls called windows and doors (and perhaps something else, as well), Harry fixes himself upon his father, the memory of his father, the ghost of his father, and he hates, and it is a game of desperation, perhaps, but it is a game. See the smile, stitched slash-like across his face? It is a game. He hates. He will have Peter. He will have him. And Spider-Man will die. The mansion is hollow, a dark bastion of layered shadows in the full flow of a strange timeless dying of unending winter with its sounds drawn flat and outrageously slow and warped like long dead driftwood knocking against ice, a rotted out and caved-in world of dust and rustles and echoing ghosts and no light, no heart, no /soul/. A spirit, yes, a terrible and evil and mad ghost, but /no soul/. No thinker behind the thought. No /I think/, no /I am/, no ego, no self. He is hollow. Hallowed with madness. With hate. He waits. And his voice, his hair like dark turnings under the frozen earth when he stands at the edge of the room (melting into the darkness so that it's impossible to truly see anything, no shape or contour or color, nothing more than a vague presence, a blur of solidity under a well of light) soaks in that soullessness like a sponge. For a second Peter almost seems like a godsend, standing in the doorway, back to the light and limed with a bright nimbus of fire, eyes like diamond or the blue-white brilliant heart of violent stars, blazing with life and a divinity beyond life, cloth rustling in layers behind him and about him like the closely furled wings of an angel. A Seraphim in shades of argent and celestial azure, his body is so bright in the darkness surrounding it that, for a moment, Harry wants wings, himself, to shield his eyes, and a rhythmic fretful trembling seizing hold of all his limbs.
But only for a moment. It is a game, after all. A game of dying, of killing, of hatred and revenge, and when the blank smoothness of that too familiar yet strangely unfamiliar pale face splits apart to form a sneer instead of a smile, he remembers himself, waking from a dream of remembered light and flowers bruised by rain and whispering hopes to the tumbling apocalypse of hate, and he readies himself to attack with malicious glee.
Peter's teeth glisten in the sun, though, and he beats him to the punch. Literally.
He doesn't stop being shocked until they've battled their way through dozens of rooms in his father's house, until he's been thrown, hard, and has difficulty rising, the green light of his father's secret storeroom glittering in particles of violence-stirred dust (ashes of dreams drifting like murdered hopes), like spider webs sparkling with dew. The dark-suited body of the man who wears Peter's boyishly pure face is bathed in the eerie halo of green refulgence so, for an instant, it seems as if an angel of an entirely different sort in present within the poison-stained lagoon of dust-glittering light. And it is a trick of the madness-dreaming, death-swooning light, perhaps, but in that instant there is such a numbness in that man's eyes that it seems as if he were dead, seems as though he's died a thousand times and is simply waiting, hanging there in the air above Harry, for the next death to strike him, smile-sneering down at him like a god waiting for the inevitability of his worshipers to turn on him, to flay him alive with whips of hate and fear and darkness and crush him in a deathly shower of silver pieces.
And maybe he breathes. And maybe he doesn't. But epiphany strikes him down, all the same, like the sudden blazing roar of sheeting flame when new oxygen hits a frenzy of wildfire.
It is not Peter, standing above him.
And he thinks, maybe, that he is drowning in light, as much as in realization.
The pivot of his thoughts turns all at once, like the workings of a lock's tumbler, /click/, and he can no more undo that than he can call back his father from death and madness.
"You are not Peter."
"What?!" The dark-clad, green-limed, brilliantly bright creature blazes incandescent as the trail of a falling star, snarling in the echoes of dark words about himself and his father meant to wound, to draw blood, to drive him to throw the green-glowing false star hidden in the palm of his hand like Zeus hurling lightning death down upon an unbeliever.
"You are not Peter - never were and never will be. I don't know who or what you are, but /you are not Peter/."
Midnight and death perch hand in hand on his chest, weighting him down like a river of blood-tainted glistening silver, and he sees through the darkness, through the green gloaming and drunken dancing whirl of glittering particles, to the shock-slacked vermillion-stained mouth of the man whose open eyes are blankly drowning in fire-touched madness and virulent virescence, frozen adamantine wavering to sick-fevered verdigris, pregnant with poison, the whole of his body incandescent with the green and ungodly glow like some sort of monstrous aura, aurora.
He lies there, stripped but not naked, and does not move to fight when the creature above him explodes into a fury of motion, tearing at his clothes in a frenzy to bare himself to Harry's sight and muttering, snarling, an endlessly ugly, bruising refrain of, "Not Peter? Not Peter! I'll show you - I'll show you/ Peter/! I'll give you your /precious /fucking /Peter/, you fucking pathetic little spoiled rich boy!"
Hollow, he only thinks, staring silently up at that flailing frenzied dervish in the shape of Peter and looking past him, through him, beyond him, to the kernel of truth, the core of Peter, wrapped about in poisonous webbing and shivering with helpless sobs behind the flashy false angelic facade of the suited creature. /This thing is hollow, and it has enveloped Peter. /And he smiles a little then, the movement slow but insidiously steady, pulling in on himself and drawing himself back up to his feet. "You are not Peter - but I see him in you. And I think I'll help him rip you from him like a snake peeling off its skin." He smiles, a quicksilver flash of white against golden skin, beguiling and dangerous with certainty, and, while the creature is gaping at him, a blackened suit like a full-body bruise revealed beneath the flapping fall of a shirt tattered free of its buttons, he lunges forward, sealing that sagging mouth with his smile.
They tangle, struggle, and he does not mind that the hands upon him are not delicate-light but bruising-hard with fearful desperation, grins against daggered teeth and pretends that they are Peter's, imagines that they are coming together in an act of prayer instead of violence, worship instead of deliberate murder, killing that thing even as he kisses and uncaring of it because he can sense Peter, feel Pater, taste Peter, struggling beneath the surface as if caught in a diamond-bright cage of crystal covered over with a slippery skin of mirrored silver, fighting to join him as they cleave together and apart, apart and together, clothes shredding under the fricative pressure of violent bursts of words and greedily grasping hands like too-tight and age-rotten skin. He takes that rage-squared blood-red mouth as his own, turns to follow when the creature makes to jerk away and, with lips and teeth and tongue, takes the meandering downward turns of blood brooks and rivers, follows the bruised-blue runnels down that fear-bared throat until he reaches a sharp protrusion of collarbone. The creature is pale as the fragile flesh waiting beneath the taunt skin of a harvest-ripened apple, bursting with the salt-sweet flavor of sweat and musk, and Harry would trace that delicate flesh in small sucking and large biting circles, leaving behind his own scarlet symmetry, but the body against him trashes like a man in the midst of a fit, and they crash, unceremoniously, into the rows upon rows of metal racks of deathly green poison and poison-gilded pumpkin bombs, and the clanging clamor of building, crashing noise makes the creature's entire body lash backwards, tendons snapping taut into a pained howl, blackness rippling like a skin of oil suddenly disturbed, roiling and giving him a glimpse of Peter underneath.
The skin beneath that oil-slick barrier is even paler, skin like paper, like snow-covered, moon-kissed valleys cradled by wild, frost-pure mountains, and he moves, his mouth latching in furious haste on that purity before it can be covered again, writing upon it, painting illustrations in crimsoned bite-bruises, drenching those pearled crests and vales with all the ruddy color of a sunburst splendor of autumn. The arch of the body beneath and against his is both familiar and utterly strange, the fall of hair around that too pale face smooth and dark like the black shadows of willows against the silver reflecting pool of a night-shrouded lake, like the quiet flowering of growing things, but not quite right, not quite Peter, and so he turns away from that sight to move across the star-pale skin below, his mouth traces patterns of life, sucking at the blood beneath the surface, and the words he writes all say the same thing: You are wrong to think you can be Peter. You are not who you think you are.
Strong hands scrabble to unbuckle his belt, and then a band of leather is at his own throat, his mouth opening in a surprised hitch at the pressure, neck arcing back, giving against it, seeing those green-stained blue eyes bloom bright, like flowers opening in the sun, and he can't keep from writhing a little, helplessly, a promise of death blossoming behind his eyelids and seeping out into the rest of him so he struggles and struggles under the lash of that dark strip of leather because that is what people do, they fight (like blind beasts, rats in an unsolvable labyrinthine maze). White hands are knotted, bone-thin fingers laced around dark leather, eyes blazing at him in splendiferous triumph, reflections of sparks dancing in their depths like demented and drunken green fairies, pixie-bright, and this time Harry is the one who snarls, violently shoving himself forward against that hateful, hurtful, garroting press, throwing his whole body into it so that his greater height topples them back and they fly, tangled together in a snarl of bruised and slicked limbs into another of his father's carefully racked stashes, the creature shrieking, hands clapping fruitlessly over the ears of its host as though to keep Peter from hearing the sound that is driving the hideous thing from his body, as the metal shelving bongs and clangs and rings and gongs in a cacophony of sound like thousand insane church bells, crashing and clamoring and attacking all at once, making even Harry's ears hurt, though he grins, viciously, for all of that.
The oil-slick thing moves, again, like a furiously bubbling cauldron of tar, inky blackness half tearing itself away from Peter and half clinging onto his naked skin desperately, a second, true face forming to stare and snarl at Harry this time, black fangs snapping half after him and half after itself in helpless agony as the metal racks and various weapons continue to cascade in a tolling flood of sound, falling down and rolling over itself and more of itself on the way to the floor. Peter stares at him for an eternal moment, face shattered with horror, before one of those endlessly pale and now entirely bare arms lashes out, quicker than thought, to snag one of the pole-like metal racks on its journey down, turning it like a sword or a hammer and deliberately bringing it crashing down upon an as yet untouched rack of pumpkin bombs in a bone-jarring explosion of noise so painfully loud that it even makes Harry flinch, though he cannot stop the grin that rises to his mouth immediately afterwards, watching as that creature screams and flails and tries to cling but mostly fails, as Peter holds his weapon of choice, still vibrating and still reverberating like a rung bell, so close to himself that he nearly hits Harry with the end of it. The look Peter turns towards him is half desperate plea and half triumphant grin, and he can see, in the lines of that expression and the brightness of those eyes - entirely blue now, no hint of mad-drenched green, despite the swooning falsely verdant light - what it is that will happen, what it is that must happen, if he wants to see Peter alone, himself in his skin and nothing and no one else before him, and so he turns and snatches up metal rack mallets of his own, clanging and crashing and threatening the shark-mouthed creature, herding it away from Peter's body.
Snakelike, the creature tries and tries to swallow Peter back down, but they know, now, what its weakness is, and they exploit that ruthlessly. The floor suffers grievous harm as Peter creates a cage of wracked metal and sound, driving the pole-like racks javelin-like down into the wooden floorboards, Harry hammering and striking again and again at the more solid sections of the hollowed metal, beating at it until the room rings with gonging clamor and an all but constant stream of protesting shrieks from the amorphous creature. A part of that inky darkness tries to break off from the whole, to escape by eeling its way down one of the holes shattering into the hardwood parquet, and Harry snatches up another rack to hurl, spear-like, to Peter, so that he can drive it back into the circle of the killing ground. His empty hand then moves of its own accord to the unbroken racks of weaponry, searching blindly for the distinctive shape of a very specific sort of death, and the smile that splits his face as his fingers feel the curvaceous form rolling beneath his palm makes Peter flinch as he is hammering at the cage he's created, the blow falling so awkwardly that the noise it calls up is flatly out of tune and fades too quickly away. But it is of no matter. Even if a part of the strange creature should escape, they both know now how to strip it of its host and catch it, and soon Peter will know how to kill it just as well as Harry does, the madness of Norman Osborn and his alter ego proving, at last, to have some purpose unanchored by revenge.
Very few kinds of his father's pumpkin bombs are actually bombs, in the sense of being incendiary. Some throw spinning stars, like a sparkler spits off sparks; some birth only light and noise, showy but (mostly) harmless flash-bangs like the distractions of a stage magician; and then there are some, like those that dealt death at the World Unity Fair, that swiftly reduce flesh and vegetation to carbon, all without the intervention of messy, unpredictable, heat-producing fire. It is with one of that last type that he turns, poisoned fruit raised high in offering in his hand as if he were the snake, or the proverbial jealous stepparent, but his smile is wolflike and tender, the creature trapped as Red Riding Hood in the eyes of her stalker, and Peter, seeing him poised like Prometheus, to reveal the secret powers of the gods, runs a circuit of his improvised trap, striking precisely at each bar as he goes and throwing his makeshift mallet behind him as he launches himself at Harry, carrying them both backwards, out through the open door, even as Harry looses his chosen missile, the weapon landing, perfectly precise, pretty as you please, in the open jaws of the still-screaming creature.
The light is brief but blindingly bright as the arcing trail of a comet. And Peter is not smiling, precisely, not with such a dangerous grin, and it is not exactly laughter that spills from his still too-red lips, not with sorrow in the sounds, but in the reflected glare of green light Harry can see that there is nothing left moving in the circle described by the floor-shattering spikes of metal racks, not even shadows, and he knows that they have won, so he raises himself up enough from the crashed, half-crushing tangle they've formed in the corridor and captures Peter's mouth in a triumphant, thankful kiss, letting the tidal rhythm of the blood surging in his body take over. It's just a bit of excess heat bleeding off, just an act of worship, just a simple absurdity of life, a swaying sultry dance of give and take and share and share alike, a biting taste on his tongue from the liberated surface of Peter's pale skin, unlovely and faintly ridiculous to behold but beautiful and holy and heart-kindling to experience. Renewed, alive with burning, he kisses Peter until the body draping his becomes a cradle, hands and hips rocking comfort and lips and tongue laving away the hurts of a nightmarish year. An absent thought snags momentarily, somewhere between the back and forefront of his mind, and Harry examines it a while, wondering why loneliness can both make a body insane like that, making an otherwise rational person lash out in the reckless desperation of angry, howling broken despair, and then turn about and make a person fight like this, to separate hatred from love, lust from need, unreality from reality and that which is solid from what is only shadow. But fingers stroke through his hair in gentle rhythm and breathy kisses follow, hot and bright and tender with passion, and the thought slips away again.
Peter hovers above him, Harry's body pinned between hardwood floor and the hard press of muscles, and somehow it doesn't matter how unreal this situation is. Peter's hair and what's left of his clothes (little more than shreds of wool and cotton, clinging from his waist to his upper thighs) smells like ozone, but his mouth and flesh is salty-sweet with musk, riper than any apple, and if he bites a little as he is tasting them, Peter doesn't seem to mind. Peter is too busy to mind, his eager hands sliding over and down, under and up and across, the body stretched out beneath his, thin nimble fingers swiftly shedding away the clothes that still mask Harry, peeling away the hollow facade of the billionaire and dutifully vengeful son and replacing it with truth, with want. Peter hasn't said a word yet besides Harry's name, but he's smiling, and when Harry's lips try to move to form a question instead of a kiss, that smiling mouth opens in a quietly warming laugh, blue eyes full of longing and welcome and safety, and the unformed question falls effortlessly back into the depths of unreality's dreaming. When Peter turns his head to lavish kisses and caresses along the bruised band of pressure-darkened skin along Harry's throat, Harry threads one of his hands into Peter's too-dark hair and turns his face against that silkiness, unabashedly seeking to dizzy himself upon the scent. Compared to his usual cut, Peter's hair is overlong, dark and soft and infinitely touchable. Intensity and closeness is woven into that silk-fine hair, nestled with the sharp smell of ozone and a dizzying blood-heat, combining to make a collage of Peter's personality, heady and heavy and heat-draping, reminding him of a phrase he heard once, /love's dreaming/, and making him smile into that darkness with not so very secret euphoria.
Peter seems happy now, something sharp and joyous in the way he moves, chafing for closeness, twisting his body so that their skin catches together, too pale on sun-browned gold, the contrast stark and lovely. He turns his head, Peter's mouth on his neck, Peter's hands on his hips, and arches like a cat, hot and heavy with happiness. It occurs to him, fleetingly, how funny it is that years of constant failure, of trying too hard and never being enough, and months of painful deceit can all be undone, unraveled and whittled away to less than nothing, in just one touch, one warm, deliberate touch, hands gliding across flesh, skin to skin, unhesitating, giving, holy /touch/. (Yes, that's what it is, /touch/. And Harry thinks he could be happy, be content, just to wake from slumber every morning to such a touch on the cheek - a touch likely meant as much as a gesture of protection as a sign of adoration - giving and comforting, no matter how chill or how warm the palm of that hand might be.) The thought doesn't linger long, though, dissolving into heat and churning movement as the last of the barriers between them fall away. He's hot all over, breath coming harder and faster, guiding his hips, Peter slipping in between his thighs until he makes a cradle of himself, Peter all over him, inside him. Peter's movements are instinctual and in tune to the sharp pain that's been lodged for so long in between Harry's chest and throat that his body knows the rhythm as if it were a part of him and moves naturally to the beat. Pain has been his reality for as long as he can recall, as long as he can remember being alive, his first real memory filled with the jagged pain of his father's rejection, and he closes his eyes and whimpers, close to panic, as he feels that pain jarring away, pushed up out of him with every motion.
He panics when he comes, body snapping rigid-tight, hollowed-filled, the thought, But this is what you're supposed to do, unstoppering his mouth and letting out the scream lodged within. Peter cries out, and there are tears on his face, salt-sweet water droplets trickling down to shatter themselves on Harry like rain, and Peter's mouth is moon and stars, mythic in perfection, red and white and black, fever-hot and bruising-soft and O, sweet, slick-sweet, sweet -
He hears the sound, like magnets aligning, subatomic though it may be, and sees stars in a sun-dazzle of ecstasy and recognition as they tumble together (angels drifting, red-white-black-golden, in a flashing fall of feathers, like a rain of cherry blossoms shaken down across the edge of the world by the wind), and when he knows that this is where he wants to stay, he notices that the pain is gone as if it had never been.
They settle together, sealed together, and are perfect together as they slide down from death's pomegranate-stained and seed-divided realm into the brother world of slumber.