The first time Steve felt it, he was sitting at the diner with all the kids after school. He’d agreed to take the dipshits out for ice cream to celebrate the end of the school year, but his attention was ripped away from their conversation about the new Dungeon and Dragons campaign when the bell above the door chimed, and in walked Nancy Wheeler. He literally choked on his milkshake when she smiled at him, and to Steve’s surprise, his stomach still fluttered when he saw Jonathan too.
What the fuck?
Maybe it was just residual Nancy-pining, he told himself, straightening up and waving to his friends good-naturedly. But then when Nancy and Jonathan pulled up chairs to join them at their table and Jonathan’s knee was pressed against Steve’s due to lack of space, Steve could barely focus on the conversation at hand.
Get it together, Harrington! That’s Jonathan fucking Byers. He –
“Earth to Steve?” Dustin waved his hands in front of the teen’s face, and Steve startled, jostling the table.
“Shit, D, what the hell?” Steve reprimanded playfully. “Don’t scare a man when he’s thinking!”
“Whatever it was, you were thinking pretty hard! Gonna fill us in?” Jonathan chuckled.
“Wouldn’t you like to know, Byers?” Steve scoffed sarcastically, casting a smirk in Jonathan’s direction.
The second time Steve felt it, he was dropping Will off at home Saturday night after the Dungeons and Dragons campaign had ended. How Steve had become wrapped up in that nerdy game, he still was unsure. Even though he still had no idea how it worked, and these twelve-year-olds had to keep explaining what the hell was happening, he was invested.
(But if anyone asked, he’d already practiced his blank ‘I have no earthly idea what you mean’ face and the dismissive hand wave and scoff combo).
“Thanks for the ride, Steve!” Will recited politely from the passenger seat, shooting him a grin.
“Anytime, kid,” the older boy reached out and clapped a hand on Will’s shoulder. “Tell Mama Joyce hi for me, will ya?” Will nodded and then jumped out of the car, running up the steps to the front door. Steve waited, wanting to make sure he got inside before driving away.
Listen, the kid had been possessed by a shadow monster; twice. Steve was not overprotective. He was reasonable.
But apparently the door was locked, because instead of opening the door, Will began to knock. Then he looked over his shoulder and smiled apologetically at Steve, the teen gave him a thumbs up to let him know it was no big deal.
After a moment, the door opened, and god damn it, Steve had to stop choking on air when Jonathan Byers appeared in his line of sight. In Steve’s defense, Jonathan had no shirt on, and was much more muscular than Steve had given him credit for. The latter part was noticeable when Jonathan lifted his arm to wave his thanks to Steve, which he returned probably a little too eagerly.
Then the front door was shut and Steve let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding, also realizing he was white knuckling his steering wheel. Groaning loudly, Steve dropped his head into his hands and rubbed his eyes. “Stop this, Harrington,” he said out loud. “Don’t even go there.”
So he just went home instead.
The third time Steve felt it, it took him by surprise. He jumped nearly a mile in the air when he closed his locker door and Jonathan and Nancy both stood in front of him. “Jesus H Christ, you can’t do that to a man,” he gasped, immediately looking around to make sure no one saw his momentary freak out
“Sorry,” Nancy smiled kindly. Steve’s heart swelled in his chest and he swallowed thickly as he noticed how tightly intertwined Jonathan’s and Nancy’s hands were. He glanced up and studied both of them for a moment. They both looked…almost nervous?
“What’s going on?” Steve asked, his voice dropping. “Is it the…”
“No. Oh, god no,” Jonathan cut in immediately, reaching out and grabbing Steve’s arm. Immediately he pulled away, like he hadn’t realized what he’d done before he’d done it.
“We just wondered if you were busy after school,” Nancy jumped into the conversation. “Or if you could meet with us for some coffee.”
“I mean, I can,” Steve said slowly, turning so he was leaning against the lockers. “What’s this about?”
Jonathan lowered his eyes and even Nancy shifted her gaze around before dropping her voice. “It’s not really something we want to talk about here. So, uh, meet us at the diner at four?”
Steve just nodded slowly, looking between the two in front of him. “You guys are acting really weird.”
The rest of the day couldn’t go fast enough, and Steve couldn’t pay attention to anything his teachers said; he was too busy racking his brain about what Jonathan and Nancy wanted.
Somehow, even though Steve left as soon as the bell rang, Nancy and Jonathan were already sitting in the far booth of the shop with their own coffees, and one for Steve as well. Hesitantly, Steve slid onto the bench across from the two of them. “Hi,” he murmured nervously, wrapping his hands around the coffee cup.
“Hey,” Jonathan replied, looking up at Steve through the hair hanging in his eyes. Then it was silent, and after a moment, Nancy nudged Jonathan’s shoulder.
Jonathan opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but faltered and shook his head, blushing bright red.
“Jesus, Byers, what’s going on with you? You’re acting weird,” Steve snipped, feeling very cornered suddenly. “Who’s going to tell me what’s going on?”
More silence. The longer it was quiet, the more uncomfortable Steve got. It built more and more in his gut, until he felt like he was going to explode. “Maybe I should go,” he whispered. He pushed the coffee toward the middle of the table and made to stand, wanting out of there as soon as possible.
“I…I wanna kiss you.” Jonathan’s voice was just slightly above a whisper. Steve froze, that feeling taking over his entire body. He felt warm and also like every hair on his body was standing up. He turned and looked at the couple, where Jonathan was so red that Steve was concerned, and Nancy was biting her lip and looking at Steve with almost hopeful eyes.
Quietly, Steve slid back into the seat, looking to Jonathan. “What was that, Jonathan?” For some reason, the first name slipped off Steve’s tongue, because calling him Byers just seemed wrong in this moment.
Jonathan opened his mouth to answer, but Steve shook his head. “No, I heard you, I just…”
“So do I,” Nancy interrupted in a quiet voice. “And I saw how you looked at me when we were dating. I’ve seen how you look at him.”
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Steve’s voice was scratchy, because dear lord, he couldn’t breathe.
“Steve,” Nancy had that no-nonsense voice on. “It’s okay. We…we talked about it. It’s…I don’t know.”
“Weird.” Steve spat, immediately regretting it by the way Jonathan’s face seemed to fall. Shit.
“Not weird. It’s…unconventional,” Nancy continued, her hand falling to Jonathan’s arm, squeezing to try and comfort him.
Steve had to try really hard not to do the same.
“We’re willing to try it if you are,” Nancy continued. At this Jonathan looked up, and Steve was captivated by his eyes. For a moment, it was like time stopped, and Steve couldn’t stop looking from Jonathan, to Nancy, and back again.
“I…” Steve was literally speechless. “I don’t know.”
Jonathan looked straight at Steve, and Steve could tell he was fighting disappointment. “We’d take it slow,” Jonathan explained. “Dinner, movie, just hanging out. We don’t have to like – “
“You literally started this conversation with ‘I want to kiss you’,” Steve replied in a voice just above a whisper.
God, were they really having this conversation in public??
“Well, I mean…” Jonathan stuttered, looking to Nancy for help. She smiled and put her hand out for Steve to take. Reluctantly, he did so. But, even though he could clearly see Nancy’s hand also on Jonathan’s arm, holding Nancy’s hand seemed right.
“Boys, relax,” she whispered, smiling kindly at the both of them. “Everyone just take a deep breath.” When neither boy seemed to listen to instructions, Nancy cocked her head to the side and locked eyes with Steve.
Rolling his eyes a little, Steve took a deep breath. Then she did the same to Jonathan. “Thank you,” she replied with a smile. “Now, I love you both,” she continued. “And I think there’s something else here, too.”
Surprisingly, Steve found himself nodding jerkily. The corners of Jonathan’s mouth turned up the slightest bit to resemble a smile. Then he nodded so slightly it was almost indiscernible.
“Okay, then let’s just try dinner. Friday night, let’s go get pizza and then back to someone’s house for a movie,” she suggested.
“Mine,” Steve offered. “My parents are gone.”
“Great!” she smiled. “Right, Jonathan?”
“Yeah,” he agreed quietly.
“On one condition,” Steve added in a moment of bravery. Both Nancy and Jonathan looked to him, waiting.
“There better be kissing during the movie,” he smirked. “I didn’t just sit through this awkward conversation to not get kissed by the two prettiest people in the room.”
And the fourth time Steve felt it, he was sitting on the couch between Nancy and Jonathan, his hands intertwined with theirs. A movie played on TV, and they were watching contently.
Well, for the most part anyway.
Every time Steve Harrington began kissing, that feeling took over his whole body, his whole mind, and it was like everything had fallen into perfect place. His fingers trailed along Jonathan’s neck, and their eyes were locked.
Steve’s world seemed to stop in its tracks.
And then Nancy’s lips began trailing down the back of Steve’s neck.
And Steve’s world exploded.