They All Wear Masks

"Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth." -Oscar Wilde

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1. ~ One ~

    

    Norman Osborn watched his son like a cat watches its prey. His eyes took in every tiny movement, every word that Harry’s seven year old mouth shaped and considered and produced. Even at an age so young, the heir to OsCorp crafted his speech like a painter crafts his art. 

    Norman flinched as the other boy- Harry’s little friend, God knows why- flicked the antique clock on the dresser with his fingernail. It rung like a tinkling bell, causing the two boys to laugh and flick it again. Norman heard only a hollow resonance.

    “Go and play upstairs, Harry.” Norman refused to acknowledge the other, scruffier boy.

    Harry gave a childish grin- funny, Norman though. He’d never really seen Harry smile. Perhaps this boy was a bad influence. “Guess what, daddy!”
    Norman. “Don’t call me that, Harry. I’m your father.”

    “Guess what, father!” 

    Norman didn’t care. Let them go and play their childish japes, as long as they left him in peace. “What? Make this quick, Harry. I’m busy.” 

    The boys were already heading out the door, presumably upstairs, so Harry’s words drifted over his shoulder. “Peter is my new favourite person ever in the whole wide world!”

    Norman watched the door close behind them with a serpent of suspicion uncoiling in his heart.

    Peter. He would remember that name. 

 

***

 

    “Father, I need some more money.”

    Thirteen year old Harry Osborn leant his hands on Norman’s desk, a blank expression on his face. He was taller and more mature than any thirteen year old Norman knew already- not that he’d ever encountered many. Norman searched his son’s face for any hint of embarrassment at asking so blatantly for money. There was none. Harry was as impassive as Norman had taught him to be. 

    “What for?”

    Harry rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “Oh, I don’t know- living in general? Hell Dad, what do people usually want money for?” 

    Norman’s mouth twitched. Lies. All lies.

    Last week, Harry had come asking, and Norman had provided- at a cost. Afterwards, he’d set two of his agents tailing Harry 24/7, and they’d told him he hadn’t bought anything. He’d simply paid it into an online transaction and settled someone’s bills for them without their knowledge. When Norman demanded details, the agents told him that they went by the surname of May, and lived with their nephew. 

    Peter Parker.

    Norman hadn’t been able to believe his ears; his son, his only child and heir to OsCorp, had been secretly paying someone’s bills- with his father’s money. 

    No more.

    Norman pushed a brochure across the desk to his son. “You may want some to buy your new school uniform.”

    Yes- an English boarding school was a perfect way to get rid of a defective son. 

 

***

 

    “Welcome to Saint John’s, newbie.” The senior prefect zipped up his school trousers, turning to his friends with a grin on his face. They left laughing, leaving the great Harry Osborn on his knees, eyes closed and shivering, wiping his mouth with his sleeve, stripped of his dignity. He stood shakily, letting out a moan fuelled by his emotions- loneliness, sadness, regret, and most of all, that one emotion he could never name. That one hole in his chest he could never fill, that tugged at his heart strings and drove him insane. He’d christened it the Peter emotion, and had left it at that. 

    Glancing in the mirror at his dishevelled, tear stained face as he struggled to the door, he began to hate his father with a passion that burnt him, and filled the endless hole for just a second.

    Inside him, something stirred. Fuelled on his emotion, it began to grow. 

 

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