"Shit! This tastes like death," the Colonel gagged as he gulped down the Skele-Gro potion. "No, worse. It tastes like Tony's last attempt at cooking. Blergh."

Harry suppressed a snicker at the man's grimacing face. Stark on the other hand looked less than amused, almost constipated really, watching Colonel Rhodes intensely as he drank the smoking yellow liquid. That he refrained from a snarky reply bellied the depths of his concern.

Truth be told, Harry was quite surprised by and appreciative of the trust he was receiving. For Stark to swing around from distrusting his very existence to letting him give Rhodes an unknown magical potion…it said a great deal. Oh, sure enough Stark insisted on analysing the liquid in his lab, and grilled Harry on the ingredients and effects — blimey, that was a fun conversation — but ultimately, for all his scientific inquiry, he had no way of knowing what it actually did.

Stark did suggest paying an intern to break their wrist and testing it out on them, but both Pepper and Rhodes vetoed him instantly. The man then offered himself as a subject, but that too was struck down as an option. Lo and behold, here they were.

Once the glass was emptied, Rhodes leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes, panting from the vile taste and the burning sensation that Harry remembered all too well. If Harry recalled correctly, the potion should already be working its way through his body, and while it wasn't intended for repair of nerve damage in wizards, it did promote some healing in the nervous system as a side effect, and hopefully it would suffice.

With the potion ingested, Harry and the others awaited the results with bated breath. Many minutes passed, and seconds ticked by, but aside from some murmured banter between the couple to his left, the room remained quiet, tension permeating every nook and cranny.

Rhodes for one seemed oblivious to the nerves of his friends. He kept his eyes closed and appeared to be waiting patiently for something to happen — and happen it did. Four minutes — and thirty-six seconds according to Friday's meticulous timekeeping — Rhodey opened his eyes wide and tightened his grip on the armrests.

"Woah. It feels like someone's jabbing a hundred needles into my upper thigh," he said wonderingly and, if you asked Harry, much too calmly, given the sensation he described.

Stark and Pepper turned to each other, exchanging bewildered looks.

"That's good, right Tony? That he's feeling something?" Pepper asked hopefully.

Stark gave a brief, jerky nod but didn't otherwise respond. His gaze remained fixed on his best friend, eyes burning with the intensity of those with someone to protect.

"Oh damn, it's down to my knee!" Rhodey exclaimed, his rising excitement contrasting his agitated movements and tightly shut eyes. The man then clenched his teeth and furrowed his brow deeper, tension boffin in his body until his eyes opened wide and he swivelled his head to face his friends. "Holy shit! Tony!"

Stark erupted into motion, closing the distance and placing a hand on Rhodey's upper thigh. "Do it again," Stark instructed, voice coming out as a harsh whisper.

Harry raised an eyebrow curiously, then saw what had Rhodes so excited. Right below Stark's hand, in time with Rhodey's straining, was a twitch in the man's thigh. Harry grinned in delight at the potion working, and Stark did the same. The man was beaming at his best friend, and a glance to his left assured Harry that Pepper was doing the same, her hands pressed to her chest as she tried to contain her joy and relief.

It was a heart-warming sight, and Harry felt so glad to have made it happen.

Over the course of the next quarter hour, Rhodes felt the needle pricking sensation travel down to his feet, until it was completely gone, leaving him with fully regained sensation and motor function in his lower body. As soon as he could, the man nudged Stark away and tried to push himself off the chair, managing a few inches before he fell back down.

For a moment, Harry wondered if Rhodes would be disappointed, but the man started laughing joyfully. He then sat up and moved his legs and feet in all sorts of weak motions, exploring the limits of his recovery.

"This is amazing," the Colonel said breathily. "It's like the accident never happened. It can feel and move every muscle. I bet I've got a lot of physio to do, but besides that…" Rhodes trailed off, then he turned to Stark and said, "Tony help me up."

Stark placed his hands under Rhodes' arms and helped him up, supporting his weight as he struggled to stay upright. Pepper rushed in to help when Rhodes buckled, holding him on the other side. With the weight taken off of his lower body, Rhodes took a few staggering steps forward, then stopped. "I…I didn't," Rhodes stuttered, his words thick with feeling. "I never thought I'd walk like this again. Thank you. Thank you."

"You're welcome," Harry said awkwardly, having watched all this from a distance. He had retreated to let the three friends celebrate, but Rhodes wasn't having it. Exchanging looks with his friends, the man slowly made his way over to Harry and pulled him into a strong hug, accompanied by three solid pats on the back.

'Well, at least he's not lacking in upper body strength," Harry mused with a small wince.

"I can't say it enough. Thank you, Harry. I don't know how I'll ever repay you."

In stiff, awkward movements, Harry made to return the hug. "Err, no worries mate. I was happy to help. I'm just glad it worked," Harry replied.

Rhodey patted him on the back once more, then pulled back, leaving only a gentle hand on his shoulder. The man stared at him curiously, eyes flicking here and there, giving Harry the impression that Rhodes was staring into his soul. He knew not what the man was searching for, but evidently he found it. Rhodes let Harry go and turned to face Stark and said, "Seriously Tony, what were you worried about? I can tell you from one look at this kid that there's not a bad bone in his body."

Stark rolled his eyes. "I was being careful. You know. That thing that you're always telling me to do?"

"Doesn't ring a bell," Rhodes said with a mischievous smirk. He let go of Harry and asked his friends to help him sit down, then he was drawn into a conversation by Stark about the physiotherapy needed to strengthen his muscles.

Harry listened with mild interest until the sound of footsteps drew his attention.

"I haven't seen Tony smile like that for a while now," Pepper murmured from his left, watching the two men with a fond smile. They were bickering from the sound of it, but you wouldn't know it by the childlike glee on their faces.

Harry didn't know what to say to that, so he said nothing.

"I think part of him felt guilty for dragging Rhodey into that fight, for letting him get hurt. It was a real struggle for them at first — Tony with, uh, well a lot was going on, and Rhodey with coming to grips with his disability." Pepper turned to face Harry directly. "Thank you. This means a lot to us, and we won't forget it."

Harry's cheeks were tinged pink and he smiled bashfully. "Like I said, I'm happy to have helped."

"Do you want to join us for lunch? I think Tony's going to order a literal feast to celebrate," she said, glancing at her partner.

Harry shook his head. "Thank you, but I've a few things to take care of, so I'd best be heading home," he said, pulling out his wand. Before leaving, he hesitated and turned to appraise Rhodes once more "I don't expect him to have any, but if Rhodes notices any strange side effects, do let me know."

And with that Harry escaped — that is to say apparated — back to his flat to do…well, nothing came to mind, but it was only just past noon, so he was sure he'd find something to do.


"You know he—"

"My God. Enough," MJ groaned, leaning forward on her elbow, with her right cheek squished into her palm. "It hasn't even been a full week but we're still hearing about Harry this and Harry that." She turned to Ned, who was watching them with amusement. "Ned, I can't take more of this. I'm begging you, kill me."

Peter rolled his eyes at the blatant exaggeration. "I don't talk about Harry that much," he muttered.

"Of course not. And I'm Black Widow," Ned declared, taking MJ's side like the traitor he was.

Peter looked him up and down. "You've really let yourself go, Miss Romanov."

"It's all part of the disguise."

MJ smirked. "Can you picture Ned in a black leather bodysuit? I think he'd rock it."

"You think? The chafing though..." Peter pretended to think about it seriously. "Black isn't really his colour either. Maybe something pastel?"

"Black's definitely his colour, trust me."

Ned cut in. "Black is not my colour, it's dark red or olive green."

MJ smirked. "Is that a fact?"

Ned crossed his arms and responded defensively, "My phone died at the dentist's office and I read a fashion magazine, ok? It's not like I googled it."

"I mean, there's nothing wrong with trying to look good," Peter reassured, then he turned to MJ. "Now, what was I saying earlier? Oh yeah, about Harry—"

"You know, why haven't I met this guy yet?" she interrupted, elbowing Peter and wiggling her eyebrows. "I think it's about time you introduced us, hm?"

"Oh, uh, I can ask him? We could all…hmm. We could go out for a bite to eat? Maybe this weekend?" Peter suggested with a shrug.

"Sounds good. Always down for some good grub," Ned chimed in.

"Yeah I guess I have nothing better to do."

"Cool. I'll see what he says."

The bell rang soon after, so they went to their respective classes, looking forward to the reprieve of the weekend.


"Harry! Come on in," May greeted him with a welcoming smile. "How is everything?"

"All's well, thanks. How about you? Taking a day off work?"

"They're doing some renovations in my office, so I'm working from home today," she explained, walking over to the fridge and pulling it open. "Can I get you anything by the way? Juice, soda, water? How about a snack? There's some brownies if you want any, I picked them up from that bakery two streets down."

"I'm alright thanks, had something to eat not long ago. Is Peter around?"

"Yeah, in his room. He just got back from school a little while ago," she answered, then with a silly wiggle of her eyebrows she pointed at the plate of brownies she'd pulled out. "Positive you don't want any? Might not be any left later. Brownies don't last long around us Parker's. We jump on 'em like a pack of hyenas."

Harry laughed. "You're very kind, but really, I've already eaten lunch and can't stomach anything else right now," he said, then excused himself and went to Peter's room.

The door was wide open and the room seemed to be empty, but out of ingrained courtesy Harry knocked on the door lightly as he walked in. He took a look around, as though he would find Peter hiding in the corner, but clearly he was the lone occupant. Harry wondered briefly if Peter had to leave for some Spider-Man business, but then he heard the sound of clattering in the bathroom one door down, and realised Peter was in there, so he decided to wait for the bloke. He made himself comfortable in Peter's desk chair and grabbed one of Peter's textbooks to read in the meantime.

Three confusing pages into the first chapter, Harry heard the bathroom door open and the pitter patter of feet. He looked up to see Peter walk into the room, fresh from his shower, clothed only in a towel he'd wrapped around his waist.

"Harry!?" exclaimed Peter, reflexively wrapping his arms around his chest, as if to shield himself from Harry's sight.

For an agonisingly long moment, Harry's mind went blank, like he'd been hit by a bludger. Mercifully, he managed to get his wits together to respond quickly enough. "Errr… hello! I didn't know you were, er, so I'll just, er, wait outside," he said, taking off and closing the door behind him to give a bewildered Peter some privacy.

In the hallway, Harry leaned against the wall and the image of Peter's upper body, all smooth skin and hard angles, came to mind. He could clearly see the droplets of water dripping down Peter's chest, travelling down the crevices of his abs — and Merlin, Harry knew Peter was fit, and he certainly had to be very given his profession, but somehow Harry never imagined his smart, bookish friend would be so… sculpted.

With a deep blush, Harry shook his head to disperse the imagery, and by the time Peter opened the door to let him in, he had collected himself. He walked in, greeted Peter with a smile. "Sorry to surprise you. I assumed you'd get dressed in the bathroom, else I would've waited in the living room," Harry explained.

Peter shook his head, cheeks just a little pink. "It's no biggie, it's not like you caught me in the nude," he said with an embarrassed laugh.

"Thank Merlin for that. I don't think even magic could heal that kind of mental scarring," Harry teased, pushing away the image as it began to form in his mind's eye.

"Hey!" Peter exclaimed with exaggerated offence, "You wish you could be that lucky."

Harry laughed uncomfortably then changed the topic, asking about Peter's day at school.

"It was fine," Peter sighed, dropping onto his bed. He fell back and reclined, with his hands behind his head and his legs crossed.

"Are you sure? It doesn't sound fine," Harry probed, furrowing his brow slightly. Peter seemed a bit tense, leading him to wonder if something had happened.

"Yeah it's just you know… high school stuff. I kind of like being at school, and it's nice to see Ned and MJ every day, but there's these guys in my class who are just fucking dicks," Peter admitted with a frown, as he stared up at the bottom of the upper bunk bed.

"Oh," was all Harry had to say. He was honestly taken aback. Peter was such a ray of sunshine — and not even in that irritating, much too cheery way — that Harry had trouble believing anyone didn't like him. "Want me to turn them into rats?" he offered playfully, hoping to bring a smile back to his friend's face. "You could use them in your science experiments."

Peter let out a small laugh and turned to face Harry with a bright grin.

'Mission accomplished.'

"Hmmm," Peter pretended to think. "Somehow I think that would be unethical."

"I suppose you're right," Harry admitted with a greatly exaggerated sigh. "Thank Merlin you're here to act as my moral compass, o' Peter the Merciful. Ah, what would I do without you?"

Red creeped up Peter's cheeks and he snorted. "Not sure, but I bet there'd be a lot of rats running around. Though, it is New York, I'm not sure it'd make a difference."

Harry laughed along, glad to have cheered Peter up a little bit.

"So…" he drawled. "Maybe you ought to tell me exactly what happened — so I know who to hex, I mean."

"It was just Flash and his friends," Peter groused, folding his arms. "He's this rich asshole in my class. He kept making comments on Ned's weight and giving me shit about faking my Stark Industries internship."

Harry frowned. "That's awful. Is Ned alright?"

"Yeah, he was a little upset but he got over it pretty quick. I'm more mad about it than he is."

"Well that's a relief at least," Harry said. "Also, not to make things worse, but aren't they right about your Stark internship?"

"Hey! You're supposed to be on my side!" Peter pushed himself up to glare at Harry.

"Ah, of course, how could I forget?" Harry smacked his forehead, then grinned mischievously and leaned forward, as if to conspire with Peter — nevermind that he was across the room. "Tell you what, how about I make it up to you?"

For whatever reason, Peter blushed an even deeper tint of red than before and looked away, mumbling something unintelligible. Harry raised an eyebrow and asked Peter to repeat what he said. Peter cleared his throat and said, "I said you'll have to figure something out."

Harry stood up and unholstered his wand. "Capybara," he said simply.

Peter jolted up and stared at Harry with wide, excited eyes. "Hell yeah!"

Well then, in the face of such enthusiasm, how could Harry do anything but deliver?


After Peter had his fill of petting the disappointingly coarse fur of the conjured capybara, they hung out for a few hours more. The time was spent telling stories, joking around, and Peter even gave Harry a crash course on the basics of physics — not that he was completely clueless. Apparently one of his best friends was into science and taught him a little bit — though he wondered what the story was with that friend. Harry sounded kind of... well, sad, when talking about her.

It was only the first week of school, but there was a small pile of homework for him to get through. Harry didn't seem to mind though, plopping himself on Peter's bed to read some of his comics. It was kind of nice, he had to admit, working through his stuff in companionable silence with a friend. Ned could never sit there silently for an hour without talking, unless he was asleep.

In fact Peter did turn to check on Harry regularly — initially to make sure he hadn't fallen asleep, but he found himself looking over and admiring the way light streaming through the window caught Harry's face. It wasn't until Harry caught him looking that Peter realised that he was staring. He played it off by asking Harry how he was enjoying the comic, then he fixed his attention on his homework — steadfastly ignoring the fact that he'd been staring at Harry in the first place.

In the late evening, May caught Harry on the way out and insisted he stay for dinner. And as she usually did, she got her way.

"This is delicious May," Harry praised, as they dug into the lasagne May prepared. Peter very much agreed. When his aunt wasn't cooking up culinary fusion nightmares, she was a pretty good cook.

"Thanks, I'm glad you like it," May beamed at their guest. "It's one of Peter's favourites. You know when he was eight, I caught him sitting on the floor in front of the fridge, with a tray of cold lasagne on his lap, eating it barehanded."

Peter buried his head in his hands, feeling the blood rush to his cheeks as recalled the incident. One moment of hunger and laziness as an eight year old and he was doomed to a lifetime of May telling people that story.

Harry on the other hand snorted mid-bite and ended up getting a little food up his nose, forcing him to cough and sneeze. Thankfully, he managed to turn his head away in time, meaning no wizard phlegm on May's lasagna.

"Karmaaaaa," Peter sing-songed, reaching forward to grab a tissue box and offer it to Harry.

Sniffling and wiping his nose with a tissue, Harry glared at Peter. "How is that Karma? I just laughed. She's the one who told the story!" He protested, pointing at May who, as if on queue, schooled her features into an expression of shock.

"Me? Why, I'm just an innocent old lady remembering the good old days before my memory starts to fail me," she lamented, pressing a hand to her chest dramatically.

"Riiight," Peter drawled. "And I'm the Fairy Godmother."

"Oh! I've met her," Harry piped up. "She's quite friendly. Bit of a drinker though," he mimed someone chugging a bottle. "Can never keep her away from the firewhiskey."

Peter and May stared disbelievingly at Harry, who picked up a piece of garlic bread and helped himself to it, as though he didn't just tell them the fucking Fairy Godmother was real — and an alcoholic apparently.

"Are you serious?"

"For real!?" Peter cried out.

Harry said nothing, paying more attention to the piece of garlic bread in his hand.

"Oh for fu— god's sake, he's messing with us," Peter accused.

Harry nodded, still focused on the food.

May shook her head and tried not to grin, if the twitch of her lips was anything to go by, while Peter chucked a piece of garlic bread at Harry, who unfortunately managed to catch it, smugly biting into it.

"So, Harry, what've you been doing lately?" May asked a little while later, opening a whole can of worms as Harry perked up and proceeded to tell the Parkers of how Mr. Stark asked him to fix up Rhodey and how he actually managed to do it. The two listened, enraptured, as Harry described how he brewed a potion that cured Rhodey's paralysis.

"So Rhodey's actually walking around right now, good as new?" Peter knew the answer was likely yes, but he couldn't get over this medical — or err, magical — marvel that Harry had performed.

"Not quite," Harry explained. "He can't support his own weight yet, on account of muscle wasting, but I imagine that with some time and a good exercise routine, he'll be back to normal."

"That's still pretty amazing," May enthused.

"For sure," Peter agreed.

Harry blushed and tried to shrug off the praise. "Yes, well… moving on, how's work been lately May? When you're not working from home, that is."

May started telling them about all the excitement in her office lately, but at some point Peter's mind began to wander and he stopped listening. He jolted out of it some time later after a stray thought almost shocked the life out of him.

After dinner, Harry made to leave for his apartment, but Peter stopped him. "I just remembered. Ned and my friend MJ wanna hang out tomorrow. For dinner. And then bowling. Uh, you wanna come?"

Harry leaned back in surprise. "Er, sure? Haven't the slightest clue how to bowl, though."

Peter grinned. "It's fine! I'll teach you."

And with that done, Harry went home, while Peter texted his friends to confirm tomorrow's plans. He only hoped that MJ and Harry got along, given how different they were.

With everything arranged for tomorrow, Peter considered his earlier realisation that 'Harry looks cute when he blushes'. He didn't know where that thought came from, and it made him a little uncomfortable to consider, but neither could he deny that it was true.

Turns out Harry and MJ got along like a house on fire.

Different as they were, there was one thing Peter overlooked, and that was how much those two assholes loved to mess with him.

From the moment they met up at the bowling alley, Harry endeared himself to MJ with his dry humour, and wowed Ned with his cleverly disguised tales of mischief. Peter particularly appreciated hearing about the time Harry and his friends helped their biology teacher smuggle an endangered snake out of their boarding school — he liked the story even more when Harry later told him the biology teacher was a half giant called Hagrid, and the snake was actually a baby dragon. A dragon!

Also, it probably didn't hurt MJ's opinion of Harry that he was handsome, with his striking green eyes, prominent cheekbones, and slim, angular jaw. Like, Harry was no model, but no one could deny that the genetic lottery was kind to him. Peter kind of felt like a plain Jane or ordinary Larry next him, and it was hard not to feel self-conscious about it.

All three of his friends were talking, but Peter's gaze passed over Ned and fixated on Harry and MJ, the former leaning towards the latter in a show of interest, and… they looked good together. He felt a bit queasy at the thought, and had to shake his head to bat the idea away. MJ wasn't shallow by any means, and logically speaking he knew that Harry's looks wouldn't mean much to her. He turned his attention back to the conversation and quickly wished he hadn't.

"—and these losers have literally never heard of subtlety," MJ was saying. "Do you know how many times I caught them staring at a pretty girl when they thought no one was looking?" She brought her hand up to the side of her face, hiding her mouth and whispering loudly, "spoiler: people were looking."

Harry snickered. "Trust me, I'm familiar with Peter's poor grasp of decorum. Within minutes of meeting him, he asked me if I lived alone because my family was dead."

Ned gasped. "Noooooo."

"Yes."

MJ didn't say anything, simply regarding Peter with a thoroughly unimpressed look. "You're an idiot" her eyes spelled out.

"If you're all just going to pick on me, I'm going home," Peter whined, face flushed red. "I didn't realise I invited you all to my roast."

Still laughing lightly, Harry leaned over and lay his arm over Peter's shoulder. "There, there Peter, don't get your knob all twisted. It comes from a place of affection."

"Yeah, bro!"

"Eh, I wouldn't go that far," MJ protested with an exaggerated grimace on her face. She let him know she was teasing though, poking him in the cheek, a soft smile replacing her grimace.

Peter couldn't help but return his friends' smiles with a grin of delight. All dark thoughts from earlier were scattered away. Just chilling here, at a restaurant, with three people he cared about, that cared about him in turn — it was a huge deal. Peter knew what he was like. He made plenty of friendly acquaintances, but he didn't really make friends. Most people were turned off by how nerdy he was, his motor mouth, and well…all the other reasons to stay away from him.

But here he had a group of people who — despite frequent denials — found him funny, who appreciated his interest in all things tech and science, who teased him about his runaway tongue because they found it endearing! It was more than he could have hoped for a year ago.

He'd had Ned by his side for ages, then he was thrilled when MJ started tagging along ten or so months ago, and now he had Harry too. 'I couldn't ask for more,' Peter thought, as he basked in the jovial atmosphere of his friends.


Harry was finding Peter's friends a delight. He hadn't seen Ned since that fateful day two weeks ago, but he was as convivial as Harry remembered, and the girl, MJ, was witty and sharp tongued, but never cruel.

"Sssssstrike!" MJ cheered. She waved her hands in the air and celebrated without abandon for a few moments, then seemed to remember she was in public and composed herself. "Hhm," she cleared her throat, "your turn Harry. Let's kick their asses."

Harry nodded and walked up to the lane, picking up his ball as he went.

"Boooooo. You suck Potter!"

"You aim like a blind donkey!"

Jeers came from the other team, but Harry ignored them. They were evenly matched, with MJ and Peter kicking arse, while Harry and Ned competed for least awful. Somehow, despite his inexperience, Harry was doing better than Ned, which thankfully made up for the difference between MJ and Peter. She was doing excellently, no doubt, but Peter was having a perfect game.

'Superhero bastard. This is incredibly unfair.'

"It's my first time bowling, Leeds. What's your excuse for bowling like a toddler drunk on moonshine?" he retorted, turning his head to glare playfully at Ned.

Ned brought his hand to his chest and affected an expression of shock. "That's harassment," he said, turning to Peter for support when Harry gave him a thoroughly unconvinced look. "He's verbally harassing me, Peter. They should be disqualified for this behaviour."

Peter nodded affirmatively. "Someone call the ref. Very unsportsmanlike behaviour."

Reluctantly amused, Harry flipped them the bird and carried on with his throw. It was a spectacular shot, rolling down the lane and taking out almost every pin — or at least it would have been, had they been playing with the kid rails up. Alas, Harry's ball went spiralling to the gutters, with a soundtrack of raucous laughter from his and MJ's opponents.

Harry stomped back to his seat and sulked as he watched Ned walk up for his go. MJ patted his back. "You tried," she said, which, for the record, was of no comfort at all.

With his throw, Ned actually managed to hit the pins, knocking six over. Those points pulled Ned and Peter, otherwise known as Team Deathstar, into a slight lead. Harry and MJ didn't have a team name, because they were beyond such silly things, of course, not because they couldn't decide on one.

Peter was up next, and cemented his and Ned's lead by bowling a strike. Again.

"Don't worry about it, we were gonna lose anyway," MJ said with a shrug. "Peter's an insane bowler. Guy can't go a day without tripping over a bag, but put him in a bowling alley and he's got the aim of a sniper."

'Of course, because he's bloody Spider-Man, the cheating prat.'

Maybe it was time for Harry to use his own special abilities to even things out.

It was the final round. MJ, Ned, and himself each had their turns, with MJ getting a spare, Ned getting two pins, and Harry getting six. They were now a few points ahead, but Peter's inevitable strike would easily win this for 'Team Deathstar'.

But like his friend, Harry was also capable of being a cheating prat, so he wandlessly cast a weak jinx on the bowling ball to throw it slightly off course, forcing it to curve right into the gutter.

Peter stared at the lane in disbelief.

There was some cheering behind him. "Performance issues Parker? It's okay, happens to everyone," MJ called out.

"Happens to everyone," Ned defended him

"Just watch this," Peter brushed it off. He picked up the ball again when it returned, and prepared to shoot again. Even a spare would win him and Ned the game, so it wasn't much of a setback.

Once again, Harry worked his magic so that the ball curved just enough to slide into the gutter at the end of the lane, with only one pin knocked over.

Peter and Ned stared at the lane, then at the score screen in abject horror and incredulity. MJ, on the other hand, was quick to jump to her feet and pull Harry up with her.

"Hell yeah!" she hooted, grabbing Harry's hand and raising their fists into the air. "Suck it Peter! Suck it Ned!"

Peter didn't respond, still staring at the lane, trying to figure out what went wrong. He was a smart bloke; Harry knew it wouldn't be long before he worked it out, but with his friends around, Peter would have to keep his mouth shut until they left. And until then, Harry planned to rub the loss in his face many, many times.


Elsewhere…

"Later man, have a good one."

"Thanks Seth, you too," George replied, pulling the strap of his bag over his shoulder. "Oh, there's some snacks leftover in the breakroom. Simon brought 'em and I made sure to save some for you."

Seth thanked George for letting him know, then walked his fellow security guard out of the bank, locking it up behind the man. With a sigh, Seth settled in for a long night of pretending to be useful. Man, overnight security was an easy job, but it was fucking boring.

He decided to take a few laps around the premises before he settled into the security room and relaxed in his chair, keeping an eye on the monitors.

Two hours into his shift though, Seth jerked forwards after hearing a loud clang. He shook his head to clear the sleep from his eyes and jolted forward in his chair, looking around and realising that none of the screens were on. Was the power out? He picked up his flashlight and crept out of the room, following the source of the noises and realised with dread that they were coming from the Vault.

Shit.

Seth let himself panic for a little bit, then got his shit together and called the police, followed by the head office. Then he found the back door and unlocked it. He exited the bank and circled around the back alley, gun drawn and finger on the trigger, to where he suspected the break in might have come from.

As he rounded the corner, he immediately spotted a massive whole in the reinforced concrete wall — no doubt leading into the vault. He moved forward, then darted to the side to crouch behind a dumpster when he heard the sound of movement.

It was dark, but it seemed there was only one man — unarmed and dressed normally, save for the ski mask. Feeling encouraged by what seemed like good odds, Seth left his cover and clicked off the safety on his gun.

"Freeze!" he yelled. "Arms in the—"

Seth didn't get to speak further.

A flick of a hand, so slight Seth almost missed it; electricity shooting across the alley; pain, the likes of which he never felt before; his body seizing relentlessly, and lastly the sound of footsteps passing by his body before the world faded away.


AN: Surpriiiise! I'm alive! It's been way too long, but my final semester of university has been hellish. But that's all over now! I'm sure I'll look back on these days fondly at some point, but for now I'm just happy to be done with 6 years of med school & start working.

Thank you all so much for the reviews! They cheered me up often over the past few months, and I can't thank you enough for the love you've shown this fic. I hope you enjoy this fluffy chapter ^^ The plot will get moving soon, as hinted in the final scene, but I loved writing these character interactions & I couldn't bring myself to cut any of them.

Cheers!

P.S. I have no defense for the title, but I regret nothing.