Harley had never considered his life choices as a capital P problem. He could connect the dots logically and he understood how he got to the place he was. Some kids blamed their parents for the way they were, blamed other people, but Harley never had. His parents hadn't treated him any different than they had his twin sister. Had he exasperated them? Yeah. Sure. That didn't change the way they showed him love, though. Maybe they were a little more concerned about him, but they never really raised their voices more often than they had with anyone else.
He'd been a bit of a troublemaker from the beginning, cackling to himself as he set up pranks - both with and without help from the other marauders. He had his moments of indulgent laziness, whining when he needed to go places. To be fair, he had more direction when he was younger. Though, most of his direction led to things other children didn't usually choose. When other boys his age wanted to be firefighters, he wanted to be an elephant wrangler. Then a tiger trainer. After that, he'd decided he was going to be a starving artist, living in a cardboard box decorated with the glow-in-the-dark stars and painting great landscapes. Usually those were forests or deserts with cacti and a sky full of stars. Once, when he was eleven, he'd run away to start his life as a starving artist. He took his pack of watercolors, a set of colored pencils, and a single pad of paper. He had a bag of quarters that he was sure would be enough to buy a cheap guitar on which he would learn how to play songs other people had written and songs yet to be written. Mostly because he hadn't written them yet. He'd listened to enough classic rock and glam rock to be drawn to music. Part of him was also drawn to the dramatic outfits and make up that came with it. None of him really considered whether it was weird for a boy to enjoy the idea of make up. No one had really made it weird to him as a kid. No one had told him he couldn't play with his sister's toys. Whatever he'd wanted to play with, whatever dreams he'd had, his family (even his marauder uncles and auntie Lily) had encourage and accepted. The first time he'd ever found someone pointing anything out was a girl in his class who told him that pink was a girl color and that boys didn't wear eyeliner (which, really, was very messily done for an eleven year old), but he'd never really questioned borrowing his mom's make up before.
Eventually, the police found him and took him back to his parents, who had their 'we are very upset' faces on. Harley had squirmed under their gazes and apologized, voice quiet, the words mumbled. He had felt bad. Maybe eleven was really no time to run away from home. Alanis had refused to speak to him for an entire day before she eventually caved and sat next to him on his bed, resting her head on his shoulder and taking his hand.
The older he got, the less direction he found he had. He no longer really knew what he was going to do with his life.
High school brought a whole new challenge. Especially as his feelings toward girls changed. He hadn't then really thought about boys. His first kiss was sloppy and happened behind the bleachers with a girl in his grade. Her name was Becky and she'd had chestnut brown hair and green-gray eyes. He still remembered the weird, fumbling kiss that happened. Nothing really happened with Becky after that. After a while, he got into the habit of serial dating, almost never sticking with a girl for more than a couple weeks. It was almost as if his mind, body, and heart had lost direction entirely or developed an aversion to staying in one place or with one person for too long. Like he was constantly moving, but it was through people instead of through the world. His pranking continued in high school and he pushed his limits, trying to see how far he could push before he got into trouble.
Sophmore year brought him an entirely new trouble in the form of Justin Everly. Justin and his sandy blond hair that always seemed to be the right amount of messy. Rakishly disheveled. His eyes a warm brown color with flecks of gold in them. He had tanned skin and a smile that could have stopped the heart of any person in the high school. Harley'd been sure of it. It was the first time he really paid attention to the things he'd known all along: he was definitely into boys. It wasn't boys exclusively. He still liked girls, but Justin was definitely trouble in a pretty package and that did nothing but make Harley want him even more. The drugs had started off light - a bit of weed here and there. Harley didn't really think of it as a big deal. Everyone experimented, right?
After a while, Justin started pressing with other things, plying with kisses stolen in janitorial closets and various other places. Please, baby, it's only a little. It can't hurt anything. You love me, don't you? Harley hadn't realized it until the other boy said it, but he did. He did love him. It was the first time he really stuck with someone. He'd kissed other people, but he kept coming back to Justin, kept being drawn in. He was like the drugs he pedaled: addictive. Harley couldn't help himself, couldn't stop. Before he knew what was happening, he really was hooked on the drugs he was taking and he was getting texts from Justin. Blow jobs were payment for the drugs, but also disguised as something he could do to make Justin happy. You do love me, don't you? And he did. It was absolutely ridiculous.
His sister tried to talk to him about little changes. She didn't like Justin, didn't like how reckless Harley was getting. His grades were dropping, too. Harley waved her off, peppering her with promises that everything was fine and he could handle his own problems. He was fine. Justin loved him. She just didn't understand as far as he could tell.
Justin wasn't his first, but he was the first boy. Unfortunately, Harley was head-over-heels and this only solidified things. He'd also been on drugs at the time, but he never really saw that as a problem either. He'd have wanted it even if he wasn't on the drugs, right? Obviously. It wasn't until Justin graduated that "the change" happened. Over the summer, the texts continued on as normal. Even if things were fairly one-sided, Harley never really complained. It was proof that Justin loved him. He'd even said it whenever he came to see him.
Then it all stopped. Justin went to college and he just stopped. Harley texted him and got nothing in return. The denial settled in long before the heartbreak did. He was sure there was a reason for it. Justin loved him. He had to. Instead of dealing with the negative feelings, he found someone else to sell him drugs and he numbed the pain. It wasn't supposed to be a habit, but it ended up becoming a habit. When things got to be too much, he silenced the negative feelings with drugs...and more drugs. His grades continued to suffer and he went from a B+/A- student to a C-/C student. He got into even more trouble: stealing things, breaking into the school to throw a party, waking up in parks barely clothed. It was a downward spiral, but there wasn't much that would convince him that he had a problem or that he needed to pick himself up and get back on track. He just...didn't care.
He was pulled into numerous counseling meetings and nothing really got through. Not even getting suspended really got through. His serial dating got even worse and his life plans sort of grew non-existent. Not even getting into theater or art sort of things really changed it. The worst part of it all (for the teachers anyway) was that he did exceptional on his tests, but he just didn't bother with his homework the majority of the time, so they couldn't give him grades based on the exams themselves. He was smart, but he had no drive, no desire to put forth the effort and so he just kept sinking, not accepting help from anyone. No one he dated was allowed to get close either. Anyone who tried would get dumped almost instantly and anyone who even got close to broaching the topic of "feelings" or "relationships" got similar treatment. He wasn't going to let himself get tricked again. Not when no one really ever truly loved anyone else. If they did, they wouldn't cheat on other people. He should know, since plenty of people cheated on other people with him.
The world was easier to deal with under the haze of drugs, so Harley never bothered to question why he felt such a strong need for the drugs, why everything seemed so dull and muted without them. His body and mind showed obvious signs of addiction, but he preferred to live in a state of denial about it. It was easier that way. He didn't have to worry about it that way. Everything was fine.