Steve wakes up to a loud thump in the middle of the night, and for just a moment, he forgets where he is.
His heart rate picks up as memories of demodogs and the Upside Down come screaming back to him, the kids’ worried faces blurring into his vision as they speed away from the Byers’ house in Billy’s Camaro...
The thought of Billy pulls Steve back to reality and he reaches out to lay a hand on the sleeping body beside him.
Billy feels solid and warm, and he grumbles a little but doesn’t wake up. He’s a deep sleeper and rarely wakes up when Steve has nightmares.
Steve is just about to drift back to sleep himself when he hears another loud thump downstairs. He sits up cautiously, his heart rate picking up again, and listens for another noise.
His parents are away this weekend, so he and Billy are alone in the house. Squinting at the clock on his nightstand he can see it’s three in the morning, and he starts to panic a little more when he hears another noise coming from downstairs, softer this time, but still filling him with a sense of unease.
“Billy,” Steve whispers, shaking his boyfriend slightly as he listens for any further noise. “Billy, wake up.”
The other boy shifts a little but doesn’t respond.
Steve shakes him a little harder, trying to keep the panic from his voice. “Billy, wake up for fuck’s sake.”
“What?” Billy groans, voice thick with sleep. “Whas s’matter?”
“I think there’s someone downstairs.”
Steve doesn’t care that he’s let the nervousness filter through; all he can think about right now is that maybe there’s a demogorgon making its way up the stairs towards them, ready to drag them into a dark, cold, terrible place, and maybe they’ll end up like Barb-
“What?” Billy sits up, blearily rubbing his eyes with the fingers of one hand.
“Downstairs.” Steve grips Billy’s bicep. “I heard something.”
Sure enough, the sound of glass smashing on the hardwood floors downstairs makes them both freeze.
Billy waits a moment before reacting. “Where’s your baseball bat?”
“Under the bed.”
Billy scrambles out of bed and pulls on his underwear. “Stay here, ok?” He fumbles under the bed and retrieves the bat with the nails, giving it a practise swing.
“I’m not letting you go alone,” Steve snorts, pulling a t-shirt over his head (Billy’s t-shirt, he realises as he smells the cigarette smoke). He’s fought monsters more terrifying than any intruder they could come across and there’s no way in hell he’s letting Billy go without backup.
“Stay behind me, Princess,” is all Billy says in reply; a whispered compromise.
Steve hates being treated like he’s fragile, like he’s not as strong as Billy, but there’s a small part of him that flutters slightly when Billy gets...protective.
They creep down the stairs together, Billy in front holding Steve’s bat, and Steve bringing up the rear. As they descend it becomes clear that there is someone (or something, Steve allows himself to think) rummaging around in the kitchen. The sound of things being quickly shifted and then replaced becomes louder the closer they get, and for a moment Steve thinks of the military men from Hawkins lab, wonders if there are any left-
Billy interrupts his thoughts with a gentle hand on his stomach when they reach the kitchen door. Get ready, his eyes say.
Steve nods and squeezes the hand on his stomach before it’s withdrawn.
Billy takes a deep breath, then another.
“Hey!” He holds the bat up. “Hey! Who the fuck’s there?”
The movement in the kitchen stops.
“You’d better come out now or I swear to god I’m gonna fuck you up!”
For the first time in a long time, Billy has pure rage on his face, the kind of unhinged anger that Steve hasn’t seen since that night at the Byers’ house.
“He’s not kidding!” Steve calls out. “We don’t wanna hurt you but we’re armed!”
It’s then that a quiet, nervous voice calls back to them.
Steve frowns and motions for Billy to lower the bat. He ignores Billy’s confused look and pushes past the other boy, sighing at the sight that greets him when he enters the kitchen.
“Dustin,” Steve groans. “What the hell are you doing here, man?”
Dustin is frozen in place, a stack of Steve’s mother’s magazines in his hands. When he sees Steve though, he offers a toothy grin.
“Hey Steve. How’s it going?”
“How’s it going?” Steve parrots back, running one hand through his hair and rolling his eyes. “I dunno, man. You tell me. I wake up at 3am thinking there’s a goddamn burglar or murderer in my house and I come downstairs to see you’ve made yourself at home.”
Dustin bites his lip and let’s out a nervous laugh. “Ok, ok, I know this looks bad, but I can explain- oh, hey Billy!”
Steve turns to see that Billy has entered the room, annoyance evident on his face, the bat now lowered.
“What the fuck is going on?” Billy sighs. Thankfully he doesn’t sound angry.
“I left my notes for our D&D campaign here,” Dustin replies with a shrug. “I needed to come and get them.”
“At 3am?” Steve asks with a raised eyebrow.
“I’m staying over at Mike’s tonight and none of us could sleep so we decided to play. I’m really sorry Steve, but these notes are crucial-“
“I’m going back to bed,” Billy groans, retreating back out into the hall.
Steve sighs and shakes his head. “You know this isn’t ok, right? Breaking into people’s houses in the middle of the night?”
“I didn’t break in!” Dustin exclaims. “I used the back door key you gave me.”
“That’s for emergencies, kid. C’mon, you know better than this.”
Dustin looks suitably sheepish. “I’m sorry, Steve. I just- I just really need these notes...”
Steve has too much affection for the kid to stay angry, so he just gives Dustin a pat on the shoulder.
“Just call me next time, ok? Now find your notes and I’ll drive you back to Mike’s.”
Dustin’s smile is so wide it almost melts Steve’s heart a little.
They drive to Mike’s in silence, not speaking until they pull up in the driveway.
“Sooo,” Dustin says quietly, drumming his fingers casually on his D&D notes and making no move to get out of the car. “Tell Billy I’m sorry for waking you guys up, yeah?”
Steve laughs. “Yeah I’ll tell him.”
“Everything still good with you guys? He’s treating you right and shit?”
“Language,” Steve admonishes, sounding too much like his mother. “Yeah, everything’s good with us.”
“Good,” Dustin replies firmly. “Because I’d pound him if he ever hurt you.” They both know he deliberately leaves the word again off the end of that sentence.
Steve feels his heart swell with affection for Dustin once again, and leans forward to ruffle his hair. Dustin is one of the few people who knows about the recent development in Billy and Steve’s relationship, and although he still seemed wary of Billy at first, he appears to have warmed to him recently.
“Don’t worry about me, kid.” He smiles, his chest warm with the memory of Billy ordering him to stay in the bedroom while he investigated the disturbance downstairs. “He takes good care of me.”
Dustin flashes his toothy grin once more. “That’s what I wanted to hear.” He claps Steve on the shoulder and bounces out of the car. “See ya later, Steve, thanks for the ride!”
Steve gives the boy a wave as he disappears into Mike’s house.
As he pulls away he wonders if Dustin really needed his D&D notes tonight, or if he was trying to manufacture an excuse to check on him and Billy.
“That kid,” Steve murmurs later as he climbs into bed, “is gonna be the death of me.”
Billy gives a low laugh as he wraps an arm around Steve, pulling him close. “Let me guess. He gave you shit about me?”
“Mm.” Steve rests his head on the juncture between Billy’s shoulder and neck. “He was just checking if you’re treating me right.”
“Well.” Billy licks a wet stripe down from Steve’s ear to his jaw and kisses his neck. “Since we’re up, why don’t I prove just how much I treat you right?”
Steve laughs as Billy’s hands wander lower, memories of demogorgons and the Upside Down a million miles away.