Is it really miscommunication if saying things explicitly doesn’t work?


Is it really Harley’s fault that he thinks the boy that takes him on dates, sleeps in his bed, says “I love you” and defends him from notorious homophobe Flash Thompson is his boyfriend?

Harley’s POV during my fic They look like boyfriends, talk like boyfriends, and act like boyfriends, so they must be dating, right? I don’t thiink you need to read that fic first but it provides some of the context for the background of this universe so it might help, and there are some events that only happen in one fic or the other.

I promise the next story in the series we will get to the field trip but I was talking to Vingadores_taca_o_pau_bicho and decided you all deserved to know Harley’s side of the story.

Additional note to manage expectations — despite them both considering Tony to be a father figure Harley and Peter never had a sibling relationship and didn’t meet each other until post-blip at age 17.

CW: A certain terrible character we all love to hate uses homophobic language that I censor in the text.

Is it really miscommunication if saying things explicitly doesn’t work?

Two months after he had been snapped back into existence, Harley Keener was still constantly surprised at the twists and turns his life had taken. Two months ago — also known as five years ago — he never would have expected to be where he was now. 

Making Christmas cookies with the Winter Soldier on Christmas Eve.

“Where did you learn how to bake?” Harley asked Bucky curiously as they slid the latest batch into the oven. Given that the tower housed over a dozen people, including multiple enhanced individuals and teenagers with large appetites, they were certain to run out of cookies otherwise.

“We didn’t have much when I was growing up,” Bucky explained as they started to clean up the kitchen. “But my ma was a cook, and she had a fancy job working for a rich family who would often let her take home whatever leftovers they had. So we ate well, and she knew her way around a kitchen. She taught me and my sisters everything she knew. Before I was drafted into the army, she had lined up a job for me working for their family as well. They were always good to us.”

Bucky’s voice sounded both fond and pained, the way it always did when talking about his family. He had not been able to bear looking up what had happened to his family other than to verify whether his sisters were still alive, which they were not. He knew they had both married, but could not bring himself to contact their families. It was not as though any of them would want to see him. 

Harley had grown close with Bucky over the months that they had been living in the tower, because while he had his mother, Abbie, and now Tony, he had little family elsewise.

Harley was born in 2001. His mother, Evelyn, was born in 1985 and thus was only 16 when he was born. She had a difficult relationship with Harley’s grandmother, Catherine, who cut her off when she got pregnant and quit school to run away with “that Keener boy.” Harley’s biological father and his family wanted nothing to do with Harley or Abbie. So it had always been only the three of them.

Well, almost always. Harley did have one other family member that he talked to. His great-grandmother, Catherine’s mother, disapproved of Catherine cutting Evelyn off, and sent her granddaughter money semi-regularly in exchange for updates on how Harley, and later Abbie, were doing. Once Harley got older, he had phone calls with her too. He had never gotten the chance to meet her in person before, because she lived in New York, but now he lived in New York, and it was Christmas, so he, Abbie, and Evelyn would be going over later that day for one of their now-regular visits.

“Bucky, do you want to come with us  to visit my grandmother?” Harley asked suddenly.

Bucky looked at him curiously. “Why?”

“Tony and Pepper and Morgan are with Pepper’s family. Rhodey is with his parents and sister. Happy is with his parents. Peter and May went to spend time with the extended Parker family. Wanda went with the Bartons. Sam is visiting his sister. You’re like, one of my favorite people in this tower, and I know ma and Abbie like you, and Gramma Lizzie would too. No one should spend Christmas alone. Come with us.”

Bucky looked hesitant, but after looking at Harley’s pleading and earnest expression he gave in and nodded.

“Brilliant! I’ll text ma and Abbie and let them know.” 

“So they got along really well then?” Peter asked, looking at Harley with an amused smile.

“You could say that. She doted on him so much you would think that he was her grandchild, not us.” Harley snorted. Peter laughed in response and Harley felt unseasonably warm. He liked it when Peter laughed. And he liked that his room was the first place Peter had come after Peter and May had gotten back from visiting the rest of the extended Parker family. It was late because their family lived in New Jersey and  the traffic was awful . It was already past midnight, which meant that it was already Christmas. 

Harley had still been up, tinkering with Peter’s Christmas present. He had just finished when there was a knock on his door and there was Peter. Quickly stashing the present away, he let the other boy in and they began telling one another about how their days had gone.

At this point they had been talking for over an hour, Harley sitting at his desk, workstation, and Peter leaning against the table, only inches from him. He could just…

“I should probably head to bed. It’s past one, and you know Morgan is going to wake us up early tomorrow.” Peter yawned, straightening up. Harley slumped back, disappointed. 

“Of course.” Harley stood, and pulled Peter into a hug, burying his face into Peter’s neck so that the other boy couldn’t see his expression. “Merry Christmas, Darlin’.”

“Merry Christmas, Harls” Peter murmured back. 

A few days after Christmas they were working together in the joint lab that Tony had gifted the two of them. He joked that he was sick of them taking up space in his own lab and that it was really a present for him just as much for them, hence why it wasn’t an excessive gift to give them on top of them getting a car and motorcycle respectively. 

They were attempting to adapt Peter’s web fluid into a potential bandage for Stark Medical that would not give away its connection to Spider-Man. There were a few bumps in the road but overall the project was going smoothly. Still…

“Darlin’, I think we’ll be able to focus better on this if we take a break,” Harley sighed, eying Peter out of the corner of his eye. The other boy was outwardly calm, but there was a tightness around his eyes. Peter was stressed. “When was the last time you did something just for fun?”

Harley didn’t like how uncomfortable Peter looked at his question, but he continued, his voice firm. “Spider-Manning and lab time don’t count.”

“I just don’t have a lot of spare time.”

“Well, you’re going to have even less time once we start school again, so you and I are going to make some time,” Harley hardly knew what he was saying but the words were coming out of his mouth on almost autopilot. “I’m taking you out tomorrow, call it a belated Christmas present. We’re going to have a nice, relaxing time. No superhero business. No work. I don’t mind having lab time — you know I love creating things with you. But you’re stressing yourself out trying to feel like you have to make things work for the company now that we are working for SI properly, not just tinkering around. You’re even working on this project in off hours when you should be doing a personal project if you’re in the lab at all.”

Peter deflated, and Harley felt another pang. He didn’t want to make Peter more upset. “Darlin’ I didn’t mean to boss you around or try to control—”

“No, you’re right. Thank you, I needed to hear that.” He took Harley’s hand and Harley felt his heart skip a beat as Peter looked him in the eyes. He could easily get lost in those eyes. “Really, thank you.” Harley relentlessly refused to let himself blush, but he still felt heat in his cheeks.

“Of course, anything you need.” 

“I didn’t really have anything planned for tomorrow, so it’s fine to take it off. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a distortion in time where nothing matters.” They both laughed. “Is there something you had in mind that you wanted to do?” Peter asked, pulling his hand away from Harley’s and walking over to the minifridge in the lab. “Soda?”

“No thank you. And it’s a surprise. Just wear something comfortable, and be ready at ten. I’m stealing you for the whole day.” Harley bit his lip. He would have to solidify his plans to make sure everything worked out the way he wanted.

“Great, it’s a date.” Peter smiled, and Harley’s heart lurched.

It’s just a phrase people say. It’s not a date. It’s not a date. It’s not a—

“Uncle Bucky you have to help me!” Harley entered Bucky’s room in a panic. The Soldier straightened immediately. 

“What’s wrong? Where’s the body?” Harley could not tell whether or not Bucky was joking and normally that would make him pause for alarm or laugh, but he had no capacity to process it right now.

“Where’s the— there’s no body! I didn’t kill anyone!” Harley looked at the Soldier, aghast.

“Okay, who do you need me to kill?” Bucky nodded like he understood, and for a second Harley was worried, and slightly impressed, over the fact that he apparently had an assassin on call. But then he remembered his situation.

“No one needs to or has died! Except me, I’m going to die!” Harley moaned, flopping down on Bucky’s bed.

“Maybe you should start from the beginning, kid.” Bucky walked over to the bed slowly and patted Harley on the back.

Harley turned over and looked at Bucky miserably. “I asked Peter out on a date only now I’m not sure whether or not it’s a date and I have to make it perfect and I feel like I pressured him into it and I’m not sure if he really even likes me like that and I—”

“Whoa whoa whoa, I need context for this.” Bucky interrupted, holding up a hand for Harley to stop. “Slow down, tell me everything that happened.”

Harley recounted, painfully, everything that he and Peter had said to each other in the lab. Bucky listened intently before looking at Harley thoughtfully.

“Peter likes you more than you might think. I’ve seen the way he looks at you when he thinks you’re not looking. If he called it a date I doubt that was an accident. And, from what you said, that doesn’t sound like pressuring him to go out with you. You aren’t forcing him to do anything. You haven’t done anything to try and exert control over him. Maybe you could have phrased things a little differently, but ultimately you were expressing concern as a friend regarding Peter burning himself out. I think that as long as you prioritize giving Peter space to let things proceed at his pace that it will go well for you.”

Harley looked at Bucky in wonder. “How did you get so good at giving advice?” Bucky smiled at him wryly.

“A lifetime of having Steve Rogers, Captain “I make impulsive decisions” as a best friend, and some court-mandated therapy.” 

Harley laughed and made his way to his own room, still stressed, but feeling a lot better than before.

As it turned out, Bucky was completely correct and Harley had nothing to worry about. Harley and Peter had a great time on Peter’s birthday. They spent the morning wandering around Central Park, and got lunch from their favorite chili dog stand. Peter couldn’t resist saving a cat from a tree, which Harley teased him about endlessly. They then went to an arcade and took turns beating each other at games, before Peter noticed that there was a photobooth.

“Oooo we should do the thing where we take silly pictures!” Peter grabbed his hand excitedly and Harley rolled his eyes before walking over to the photobooth. “Whatever you say darlin’, it’s your Christmas present.”

The booth was small, and Peter ended up basically sitting on Harley’s lap. They did the typical rounds of silly face, serious face, and mad face, but then for the fourth picture Harley realized he wasn’t sure which one to make, since he had thought there would only be three pictures. He decided to go with a general smile, but Peter surprised him by kissing him on the cheek.

“Thank you. You were right that I needed to get out of the lab and do something fun. We should spend time like this together more often.” Peter’s voice was soft as he spoke into Harley’s hair. They were so close he could just— “We should get out of here, there are probably more people who want to take photos.” Peter pulled away from Harley and began to disentangle himself. Harley ruffled his hair and did his best not to let his frustration show. This was torture. 

Harley knew that being Spider-Man was important to Peter, and he would never try to take that away. He also knew that spending time in the lab was genuinely fun, especially when Peter was working on personal projects. All the same, he made it his mission to insert other kinds of fun into Peter’s life. On Peter’s new birthday he took Peter out to a show on Broadway and out to dinner. The whole night was very much like a date. They just fit together so well. Harley found it easier to talk to Peter than to anyone else he had ever met. As a matter of fact, it was hard to stop talking. They were so deep into discussion that they barely realized that they had finished eating, driven back to the tower, and Harley had followed Peter into his room.

“—but really I think it just goes to show that—” 

“Hey Harley, as much as I love you and your ideas, you realize that we’re home now, right? And we should go to bed soon?” Peter cut him off and Harley’s brain short circuited. He didn’t hear that right, did he? No, but Peter loved everyone surely he didn’t mean it like —

“If you want to stay down here tonight you can, I think I have some extra sweatpants and a shirt you could borrow, though I usually just sleep in boxers. I have like, shit thermoregulation so I should wear more to sleep, but I don’t like the constriction of clothes in bed so I just make up for it with lots of blankets.” Peter’s tone was incredibly casual as he stripped off his clothing and Harley’s brain was broken 

What Harley wanted to say: ‘Is this you trying to seduce me?’ ‘I would stay in your bed full-time if you wanted me to.’ ‘I can keep you warm better than blankets.’ ‘I’d like to see you without the boxers.’

What Harley actually said: “I usually don’t bother with pajamas either.” 

“Cool. Well, just make yourself comfortable. I have an extra toothbrush if you want it. Tony stocked me with a bunch when I moved in.” Peter shrugged and made his way to the bathroom. He was now wearing nearly nothing and Harley nearly whimpered as Peter turned and Harley was able to observe that not only did Peter have a rather glorious set of abs, but exquisite back muscles. 

Harley felt incredibly self conscious as he took off his own clothes and made his way to the ensuite bathroom. Objectively, he knew that he fit societal beauty standards and that other people found him attractive. But he worried about whether Peter would find him attractive. His worries were washed away when he saw Peter’s eyes widen and his face flush upon seeing Harley also wearing very little clothing. Getting some of his usual confidence back Harley winked at him. “I don’t mind a little staring, darlin’. Especially not from you.” 

Peter looked away, but Harley could still see his face in the mirror and could tell that the other boy was pleased. 

Sleeping in the same bed as Peter was nice. Harley was not sure what he had expected — truth be told he had not ever expected to be in such a fortunate situation. But it was really, really nice. Especially since Peter didn’t seem to mind that Harley was a bit of a cuddle monster, and would constantly wrap himself around Peter. In fact, the few times that Harley did not wrap himself around Peter, Harley would wake up to find Peter had wrapped himself around Harley. 

And it was constant, because they now slept in the same bed every night . Harley had been slightly joking to himself when he thought up the idea of him keeping Peter warm instead of blankets. But that changed the night after Peter’s birthday. Peter had gone out on patrol and Harley was waiting up for him because… well he was having some rather intrusive thoughts about the two of them, about their relationship, and the mixed signals that he had been getting from Peter. Maybe it was unfair to ambush him right after a patrol, but Harley was tired of this… situationship. 

When Peter came back though, he was shivering and shaking. There was a tear in his suit. He wasn’t seriously hurt, nothing like the serious stab wound he had gotten in December, but the knife that had grazed him had damaged the suit. He was wearing the fabric suit instead of the nanite suit, which he had accidentally left at home and Harley knew that if dad found out he would give Peter hell for it. He hoped that KAREN and FRIDAY wouldn’t snitch. Specifically, it had taken out the heating element of the suit, and Peter, with his terrible thermoregulation, was cold to the bone. KAREN explained everything to Harley as Peter was too numb to speak properly.

“Darlin, let me help you,” Harley murmured to the shivering superhero. He peeled the suit off of Peter and brought him into the shower. Stripping down himself to just his underwear he turned on the water, starting it at a cooler setting and slowly warming it until it got to a point where Peter could stand being under the warm water. He knew from experience that going straight to hot water would have been too much of a shock to Peter’s system. Once Peter stopped shivering and had relaxed enough he leaned against Harley. “Thank you.” Peter murmured into Harley’s hair. 

“Of course, Darlin’. Whatever you need.” There was something lodged in Harley’s throat.

“I don’t know what I would do without you. Stay the night?”

“Yeah, I can do that.” Harley’s reply was soft.

They dried off quietly and drifted off to sleep, and from that point forward they spent every night together. On nights they went out they would come back together, and on Spider-Man nights Harley would wait up for Peter. 

He still wanted to ask Peter what they were, but eventually had it confirmed in the oddest way possible — via the school bully that Peter had warned him about. Evidently Flash Thompson — who was, in fact, far worse than Peter had implied, was also homophobic. This was evident by the fact that the first insult he decided to throw at Peter was to imply both that Harley was his boyfriend and that such a position was a bad thing. 

Yet, while Peter dismissed Flash as a bully, he never actually rejected the fact that Harley was his boyfriend. In fact, Peter seemed to often throw the fact that Harley was his boyfriend in Flash’s face whenever possible, just to make the other boy seethe. Peter had always been kind to Harley, had paid him extra attention, and had been friendly from the second they met. Harley had rarely seen him as angry and agitated as Flash seemed to make him.

It all came to a head one afternoon in February. Harley and Peter had a very similar class schedule, but it was not identical. Specifically, Peter took Spanish, while Harley took French, and Harley was taking studio art as an elective while Peter was taking a woodworking class. This also meant that even though they were covering the came content, their APUSH class was during different periods. This typically was not a huge problem, because MJ took French and studio art, and Ned had the same History class as Harley. However, on that particular day, Ned was out sick and Harley, who had yet to make many other friends outside of their small group, was left on his own. Harley did not mind being on his own in general, he had a lot of experience being alone. 

What he did mind was when the class had already cleared out, including the teacher, and he was packing up his bag only to find Flash Thompson standing over him. 

Harley looked around the room, empty except for him and Flash, and sighed, putting his last folder in his bag before standing up.

“I know you’ve been dying to get me alone Flash, but I have to tell you, I’m not interested.”

Harley was amused at all the ways that Flash’s expression twisted as Harley pushed past him. Or tried to, as Flash grabbed his arm in a tight grip.

“Let. Me. Go.” Harley growled. He really wanted to punch this guy, but he wanted his dad to be called down to the school — and he knew that his dad would make a fuss and come down to the school himself — if he did. That was just the Tony Stark way.

“Or what? You’ll get your boyfriend to beat me up? Parker couldn’t throw a punch to save his life.” Flash sneered.

“Harley doesn’t need his boyfriend to beat you up. Though I’d be happy to if you don’t unhand him right the fuck now .” Harley was stunned at the anger in Peter’s voice, but also elated to finally hear Peter actually refer to himself as Harley’s boyfriend. Flash must have heard the threat in Peter’s voice, because he did let Harley go.

“Fine, whatever. Have fun with whatever you f––– get up to!” Flash shouted out as he left the room.

“Hey Harls, are you okay? I didn’t mean to overstep or say anything—” Peter walked over, his concern all over his face, and placed his left hand hesitantly on Harley’s shoulder. Harley was about 2 inches taller than Peter, which was not a whole lot but it was enough that he had to tilt his head down slightly in order to make the intense eye contact he was yearning for. 

“You didn’t do anything wrong, everything is fine now that you are here. I take it you were looking for me so we can head home?” Harley asked with a smile. Peter let out a relieved breath, as if he had just passed some sort of test.

“Yeah, um, you’re my ride home, remember? We took the bike today since it was so nice out.”

“Of course I remember, Darlin’. You know I like having you ride on my back.” Harley teased and Peter’s face turned immediately red. He was in love with this boy. And it was getting increasingly clear that Peter loved him back.

“Harley, can I speak to you for a moment?” 

It was early March, and Harley was in Peter’s room, working on an English essay while waiting for Peter to get back from patrol. It was only 8pm so he probably had another 2ish hours. The curfew that he had arranged with May and Tony in order to continue with Spider-Man while still in school was 10pm on school nights and 1am on weekends, except in case of emergencies. 

“Yeah May, what’s up?” Harley put his English assignment to the side and May sat down on the corner of the bed.

“I can’t help but notice how you have basically moved into my nephew’s room.” Harley’s face began to redden, and only increased as she continued speaking. “And I suspect that on the nights that neither of you are here he can be found in yours. No, you don’t need to say anything to defend yourselves.” She held up her hand to stop him, though he was not even sure what he had planned to say in response. “I’m not mad, I promise. I’m happy for you two, I think you work well together. I haven’t seen Peter this happy since… since before Ben died.” She sounded both fond and sad, and words that Harley had possessed were now lost in the back of his throat. “I am not upset that you are together. I’m here because I want to make sure that you are together safely .”

“Is this the shovel talk?” Harley asked weakly. May laughed.

“We live in a tower stuffed to the brim with superheroes, and you’re dating Spider-Man, what could I do?”

“May, you’re the second-scariest person in this tower.” Harley told her seriously.

“Who is the scariest?” She asked curiously before answering her own question in tandem with her.


May laughed again. “No, this is not the shovel talk, Harley. It’s the sex-ed talk.” He gave her a deer in the headlights expression. 

“Oh but we haven’t—”

“Harley sweetie, just because you haven’t yet doesn’t mean you never will. And while I would prefer that you stick to just sleeping, I know that teenagers are prone to experimentation, and you are both less than a year away from being eighteen. The state of sexual education in this country is a mess, and I am a nurse. I’m not going to let you sleep in the same bed without the assurance that you are as fully educated as I can make you. I already have given Peter this talk several times since he came out to me as bisexual. I talked to Evelyn—”

“You talked to my mom about my sex life!?” Harley hissed in embarrassment, which he was pretty sure was the only emotion he was able to feel right now.

“Harley, you are still a minor, there are still boundaries I need to respect here. Letting you and Peter continue to sleep together—” Harley groaned, and May spoke louder to talk over him “—and giving you this talk was something I had to get her consent for. And that’s the first and most important thing you have to remember about sex, is consent. Consent and communication, they go hand in hand. You need to communicate with your partner or partners about what you want and need. It can be embarrassing at first, but if you are too embarrassed to talk about it then you should not do it. Because if you cannot talk about it and cannot communicate what you want, then the ability to consent is lost. Do you understand?”

Harley sighed. This was going to be a very difficult conversation.

May finally left just before Peter got back, and made Harley promise to talk to Peter about their conversation, warning that she would also be talking to him the next day. As was his usual, Peter went and showered before collapsing into bed with Harley.

“I’m exhausted,” Peter moaned as he slipped under the covers and curled around Harley.

“Difficult patrol, Darlin’?” Harley asked, pressing a light kiss into Peter’s hair.

“Eh, I avoided getting stabbed. How was your evening?” Peter looked up from where he was nestled into Harley’s chest to look up at the other boy.

“Well it was fine up until your aunt decided to give me a 2 hour long sex education lesson just in case you and I ever turn our sleepovers into hot and sweaty sex marathons,” Harley replied casually but with a hint of mischief, his left hand making lazy swirling patterns on Peter’s arm and his right hand threaded through Peter’s hair.

“She what?” Peter gasped in shock.

“Mhmmm. She’s decided that seeing as how we’re obviously in love with each other and sleeping in the same bed every night, sex is the next step if we haven’t gotten there already, so she wanted to make sure that I wasn’t one of those children left behind.” Peter seemed genuinely distressed so Harley was trying to sound as lighthearted as possible. 

“Wow, that’s just, so out of line of her, why would she—”

“Hey, darlin’, it’s okay. Her heart’s in the right place and I’m not mad. Besides, she said that the conversation was a requirement for her and my ma not banning us from sleeping together at night, which remedial sex ed is a small price to pay for being able to cuddle.” Harley wrapped his arms around Peter and the other boy sighed.

“You’re honestly the best Harls, I don’t know what I would do without you.” Peter yawned.

“Love you too, darlin’,” Harley murmured.

Peter was already fast asleep.

Harley couldn’t stop thinking about the lecture that May had given him. The thing was, she and Evelyn were not wrong to assume that he and Peter were having sex. They slept in the same bed every night and had been for over two months. But they had never even kissed. Harley had never actually kissed anyone. He had no idea if he would be any good at it. Any time he thought about kissing Peter, about how much he wanted to kiss Peter, he was filled with a longing for it. 

There had been more than enough opportunities for them to kiss. But Harley just… never took the opportunity. And now that he had sat through that whole lecture on consent he did not want to do the rom com thing of just kissing without asking first. Not when they had never kissed before. So he had to find a non-awkward time to ask. He doubted Peter would say no . They had been together for long enough that he thought he had a good handle on their relationship. He knew how much Peter loved him. Maybe… for his birthday. He would ask on his birthday.

The morning of Harley’s new birthday dawned, and as he came to consciousness he could tell that he was not the only one. Peter was already awake, and he was watching him. It made him feel warm and fuzzy and protected.

“You’re staring, darlin’. I can feel it.” Harley mumbled into Peter’s chest. 

Peter laughed and stroked a hand through Harley’s hair. “Happy birthday.” 

Harley cracked one eye open and hummed. “It is my birthday isn’t it?”

“Yep.” Peter nodded. “Do you have a birthday wish?”

“Maybe.” Harley replied. He made sure that his smile was sly, but internally he was panicking. What if Peter said no? What if Peter didn’t want him any more?

“Oh?” Peter raised an eyebrow.

“Could I have a birthday kiss?” Harley held his breath, and something in him broke as he felt Peter completely freeze and pull away from him. It was exactly all of his worst fears.

“A what?” Peter’s tone was confused, as if he had no idea why Harley would want to kiss him. Had Harley completely misread this, was Peter just not ready?

“I mean we don’t have to, it’s just, thought, we’ve been dating for a few months now and —” Harley was babbling, trying to justify his thoughts, but he was confused, how had he gotten everything so wrong?

“We have?” Peter cut him off, and it was like a sucker punch. What a complete cockup. A situationship indeed. They weren’t even dating at all . Figures. 

“I think I should go.” Harley said flatly, scrambling out of the bed. He heard Peter calling out after him, but Harley was already gone, fighting the urge to cry, something he had not done in literal years.

His mind raced through the past few months that he and Peter had been together. Because while they had been together they had never really, had they? Peter had never actually called himself Harley’s boyfriend, he had only never corrected anyone else. With clarity Harley realized that Peter never actually said he was Peter’s boyfriend that day he had defended Harley from Flash. He said that Harley did not need a boyfriend and that Peter would do the job. Harley had never felt more foolish in his life.

It was all just wishful thinking . He reflected bitterly. The urge to smash things was high, but there was no point in ruining his own belongings, and everything else in the room belonged to Peter, and despite the fact that he was pissed at the other boy for leading him along he was still in love with the asshole. 

“Ugh, what a bastard!” Harley screamed into his pillow.

“Um, is this a bad time?”

Harley had forgotten he left the door open. Tony Stark was in the doorway of his room, holding a plate with three cupcakes.

“Maybe not the greatest.” Harley grumbled.

“Do you want to talk to your old man about it?” Tony asked, closing the door quietly and setting the cupcakes on the desk.

“I don’t know, it’s stupid.”

 Figlio mio , if it’s making you this upset, it’s not stupid. What happened?” Tony sat down on the bed next to Harley and placed a reassuring hand on his back.

“IthoughtPeterandIweredatingbutitturnsoutwewerentandnowifeelreallygaslitandlikethepastfewmonthswereafeverdreamandidontknowwhatsrealanymore” Harley muttered quickly into the pillow.

Tony blinked twice.

“Run that by me one more time?”

Harley sighed and sat up. He realized he still wasn’t wearing a shirt and spotted one on the other corner of the bed. Leaning over he picked it up and pulled it on. Once he realized what it was, however, he wished he hadn’t. This was Peter’s shirt. And finally Harley started crying like he had been fighting off the urge to do.

“Shhhh, it’s okay, it’s okay.”

“It’s not okay, and it’s not going to be okay, I ruined everything!” Harley sniffled, finally pulling himself together and able to stop the tears.

“How did you ruin everything?” Tony asked, rubbing circles on his back.

“I’m in love with Peter,” Harley replied miserably.

“And?” Tony blinked. “That’s not a crime. You’re not related legally or biologically just because you both call me dad.”

“But he doesn’t love me back! And I asked him if we could kiss and he said no, and now I’ve ruined everything!” Harley could feel a new wave of tears coming.

“Whoa hold on a second. I find that very hard to believe.”

“Are you calling me a liar?” Harley snapped.

“No, I’m just wondering if there might be more to the story than just your perspective. Because I’ve seen the way Peter looks at you, I’ve seen the way you two interact, I know that boy loves you. So I find it very hard to believe that he would say no if you asked if you could kiss him.” Tony replied calmly, resuming rubbing soothing circles on Harley’s back. 

“Well, I suppose he didn’t actually say no.” Harley bit his lip. “He just looked at me really confused as though he had no idea why I would ask him to kiss me, and then when I mentioned that we had been dating for months he acted all shocked and said ‘we have?’ and so I just.” Harley took a deep breath in and out. “I left. I didn’t want to have to hear him tell me all the ways I misinterpreted him being friendly as us being in a relationship.”

“Harls…” Tony sighed and ran a hand through his own hair. “Gosh, this is difficult when you are both my sons. Listen, I don’t know what is going on in Peter’s head. Neither of you have come to me to talk about your relationship, probably because you think it’s weird that I’m both your dad and his dad, right?” Harley nodded, and Tony continued. “What I will say is that it was not unreasonable of you to think that you and Peter were dating. Everyone in the tower thinks that you are dating. The two of you are adorable, and so obviously in love with each other it hurts to look at. Morgan keeps asking me when you two are going to get married.” Despite himself, Harley laughed. That was very typical of his little sister. “Should the two of you have had better communication about this? Yes, of course. But everyone makes communication mistakes in relationships. What you need to do now is fix it . And it’s gonna be uncomfortable, but that does mean talking about all the things that happened between you that made you feel like it was a relationship and that he didn’t see the same way.”

“But dad—”

“Harls, listen. Have the conversation. I think it will go better than you expect, and if you are actually open about what you want from each other then you can start a relationship where you are both aware of what kind of relationship it is.” 

Harley nodded. He still felt terrible, but he felt at least a little better than before, and almost hopeful. “How did you get to be so good at giving advice?”

“Eh, a mixture of near-death experiences, parenting books, therapy, and Pepper being a good influence. Mostly the fourth one.”

Harley’s laugh was a little watery, but it was genuine.

Tony closed the door after he left, but it could only have been five minutes tops before there was a knock.

“FRIDAY, who is at my door?” Harley asked. There were no cameras in the bedrooms, and the AI was only programmed to listen in on command. But if he asked her, she could answer questions.

“It’s Peter. Do you want me to open the door for him?” 

Harley’s chest felt heavy as he stood up from where he was lying on the bed. “No thanks, FRI. I can get it myself.” He could not help but glare at Peter when he opened the door. Because after going over it again, how could Peter have so thoroughly missed everything. But then again it was Peter, and if he was not so quintessentially himself he would not be the boy that Harley loved. 

“Can I come in?” Peter’s tone was hesitant and his eyes were wide with regret and Harley had already forgiven him and just wanted to pull him into his arms. Fuck if Peter Parker did not have Harley Keener wrapped around his finger.

“Of course.”

Peter slipped inside the room, closing the door quietly behind him. Harley observed the other boy, he was tense, obviously gearing up for something. And Harley had to say something too. As it happened, they both spoke at the same time.

“I’m sorry.”

Harley processed this, and despite knowing that he had been pissed off at Peter just moments ago he still asked “What do you have to be sorry about?” at the same time that Peter said “Why should you be sorry?” 

They both laughed for a moment Harley awkwardly scratched the back of his head and gestured toward the bed “Do you want to, um, sit?” Oh God, that was not too forward was it? Peter had just rejected him over kissing, an now Harley was already trying to get him in bed again? Maybe he should get a chair in his room that wasn’t his desk or his bed. But then what if Peter never wanted to visit Harley again? What if—

“Yeah, sure.” Peter’s reply was slightly awkward, but when they settled on the bed it was like they had found their place. This was something they were used to, something they had done countless times over the past few months. Leaning against the headboard, arms brushing up against each other. This was normal for them. Comfortable.

“I just… I can’t believe I didn’t notice. Imagine I just used the skull emoji.” Peter leaned into Harley and mumbled into his shoulder. Harley laughed, because it was true then, Peter had not meant to reject him, he just had not noticed. His beautiful, wonderful, (sometimes oblivious) Peter. Harley threaded his fingers through Peter’s hair. 

“Darlin’ I should have said somethin’ ages ago. I assumed too much.” Harley replied softly. He was still assuming a lot. They needed to talk things out properly. Right now, though, that thought was only a faint buzz as Peter looked up from Harley’s shoulder. They locked eyes and Harley’s hand fell from Peter’s hair to his cheek. Harley’s heart skipped a beat.

“Do you still want that birthday kiss?” Peter smiled at Harley, hovering close.

“I think you know I do.” Harley smiled back as Peter leaned in.

Additional Notes: I am making absolutely everything up about Bucky’s family. Canon, what canon? I don’t know her. Literally the only thing I kept the same was that I looked up whether or not we knew what their names were and then I ignored absolutely everything else. Paper mache people! Paper mache! Also somehow this Parkner fic spiraled to include a bunch more of Bucky & Harley bonding and Avengers family feels than I accounted for I don’t know how that happened wtf happened guys *glares at characters*