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3 months before Mad Max 

All together, things in Hawkins were starting to get back to normal. As normal as any small town plagued with different dimensional creatures and psychic kids could be. But it had been all quiet on the war front for several months now, and Steve felt like he could finally breathe again.

Things with Nancy had come to an official end, and Steve could honestly say at this point, he was ok with it. Jonathan made her happy, happier than Steve ever could, and he had come to accept that.

He worried for a time things would be awkward, especially with Johnathan, but now that he had Nancy, the tension between them had practically melted away overnight.

Granted, the first time they invited him out it was awkward, the breakup still fresh in everyone’s minds. He most certainly felt like a third wheel for the first part of the date, but Nancy made efforts to include him in the conversation and after a while, the awkwardness just went away. Until Steve realized something about himself he hadn’t wanted to. About the reason he and Nancy couldn’t have worked out. She had been on to something, months ago, but it never clicked like it did right now. Their relationship was bullshit. But not because he didn’t love her. He did love her, more than anything, but he wasn’t attracted to her. At least not sexually.

Steve laughed at her when she told him. It was ridiculous! Steve wasn't gay, no way. He liked girls, he loved girls. Loved how they smelled, how they felt against him, how they tasted. She couldn't be more off base there. He told her as much.

Nancy pursed her lips and crossed her arms against her chest.

“Do you remember when we went to go see Dirty Dancing?”

Steve rolled his eyes. “I don’t see what that has to do with anything, but yeah.”

“Remember what you said about Patrick Swayze?”

Steve swallowed the lump in his throat. Ah, now he saw where she was going with this.

“Nance, he’s a good looking guy ok! Everyone thinks so, it’s not just me-”

“You said, and I quote, ‘Jennifer Grey is the luckiest woman in the world. Could you imagine being picked up like you weighed nothing? Getting pinned under all those muscles? And his hair, holy shit his hair Nance. I think it’s better than mine!’”

Steve blushed red, wishing his hair was long enough to hide behind in that moment. As realization dawned, and he went into full identity crisis. He flew into hysterics, tearing his hands through his perfectly coifed hair until he broke down into tears. It wasn’t a particularity proud moment in Steve’s life, but Nancy helped him through it. She touched his arm lightly and gave him a kind, comforting smile.

“It’s ok Steve, you know that right? It’s okay to be gay. There’s nothing wrong with you.”

And shit, Steve loved Nancy.

Johnathan had taken the news better than Steve had expected. Way better than expected actually. He just blinked and shrugged, like Steve was telling him he bought a new shirt. It was as relieving as it was irritating. He never could truly figure out Byers.

But that was months ago. Steve was in a much better place now, school was going better, he adopted a surrogate little brother, and grown closer to the kids and the entire Byers family as a result. Everything was going perfect for Steve.

At least they were, until one Billy fucking Hargrove entered his life.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine: The Gate

It was just after 4 am. Whatever Max decided to inject into his neck had made him lose a sum total of 7 hours. He knew Neil would be furious they were so late, probably down right murderous, but maybe since Max was alive and unharmed he wouldn’t kill him. Maybe.

Billy pushed his curls out of his eyes and lit a cigarette, ignoring Max’s protests about the smell. He couldn’t care less about what she wanted right now. If the brat hadn’t run off with those little dipshits she called friends, he wouldn’t be fearing for his life just walking through the goddamn door of his own house.

“Go inside,” Billy ordered, and Max opened her mouth to say something but Billy cut her off. “Go. I’ll be in in a minute.”

He took a few more drags of his cigarette before popping the car in park and shutting off the engine. He couldn’t put this off any longer. The later it got, the angrier Neil would be.

When Billy finally gathered up enough courage to enter the house, he was met with only darkness. Max was nowhere to be seen. Whatever, he didn’t care, he just wanted to make it to his own room and crash. Tonight was mentally exhausting, and his jaw was still throbbing from the right hook from Harrington.

Before he even crossed the threshold he was hit from the side by a strong, powerful force, knocking him free of his air. His head bounced off the living room bookcase and he could already feel the ache blossoming in the back of his skull.


“And just where the fuck have you been?” He seethed, his hot, acrid breath spilling across Billy’s face.

Billy bit back a groan of pain, turning his face away from his fathers piercing gaze.

“I went to go find Max dad, what do you think?”

Neil laughed, though it was completely void of humor. “It took you 7 hours to find her? Hawkins isn’t that big boy. So I’ll ask you again, where. have. you. been?”

Billy bit his tongue. What the fuck could he say? He found Max at some freaks house with Harrington but somehow he let a 13 year old girl get the jump on him, drug his ass, and that’s why they were late? Yeah, not likely. Lying it was, even if it meant bad shit for Billy.

“I went on my date anyway.”

Billy should have expected the hard grip in his hair and the smack across the face, but the hard punch to the stomach was new, as was the swift kick to the ribs by steel toed boots. Billy gripped his stomach and collapsed in pain.

“You piece of shit,” Neil hissed, kicking Billy again and again as he gasped for breath that never fully reached his lungs. “Fucking worthless excuse for a son!”

Billy didn't dare move, just let his dad take his frustrations out on him. He knew it wouldn't be long until Neil wore himself out, or before he passed out, whichever came first.

The pain in the back of his skull returned when Neil yanked him up by his hair, tilting his head back until their eyes met. Billy struggled to see him through the tears the pain brought. 

“Next time plant your feet boy,” Neil hissed, shoving Billy’s head back and leaving him to writhe in the living room.

Billy didn’t know at what point that night he lost consciousness, but he wished it had been before he had the pleasure of feeling his ribs crack under Neil’s boots.

Billy was startled awake by his bedroom door slamming against the adjoining wall.

“Get up, you’re going to make Max late for school,” Neil shouted, but Billy could hardly hear him over the pounding in his skull.

He tried to sit up, but the sudden dizziness and nausea was making it impossible. How did he even get back in his room? 

Evidently, his feeble attempt wasn't good enough for Neil. Soon he was being ripped from his bed by his jacket and pulled onto the floor.

“That wasn’t a suggestion Billy. Get your ass up and drive her to school.”

Billy wanted to shout, to fight, to tell his dad to go to hell, but he didn't have the energy. Not after last night.

He used what little strength he did have to pull himself off the floor and grab his keys, purposefully avoiding his mirror on the way out.

Billy and Max didn’t share a single word the entire drive to Hawkins Middle. Not that Billy cared, he was still pissed at her. For stabbing him in the neck with who the fuck knows what, for swinging a nailed bat at his balls, and for making him get the shit beat out of him. In Billy’s opinion, Max was the cause for all his problems as of late, and he didn't owe her a goddamn thing.


Steve pulled up to the school at the same time as Hargrove and Max. Great, he thought, as if his day couldn’t get any worse. His face was still swollen and red from the beating Billy gave him and it took everything in him just to get the confidence to come to school today. Just seeing Billy filled his stomach with rage.

“Well well Harrington, fancy seeing you here,” Billy smirked around a cigerette and Steve’s hands reflexively clenched around the steering wheel.

“The fuck you want Hargrove?” Steve growled, glad Dustin had already left his car to talk with Max.  

Billy laughed and swiped his tongue over his bottom lip, which was still busted from the night before, and tucked a loose strand of hair behind his ear.

“Nothing, just admiring my work. Glad to see I didn’t mess that pretty face up too bad,” he smirked and Steve had enough.

He yanked himself out of his fathers BMW and crossed the space between their cars before shoving Billy back with everything he had. 

Billy practically crumbled under the shove, his knees buckling as he fell against his shiny, blue Camaro.

Shit, Steve thought, I didn’t think I pushed him that hard, maybe he was still weak from the drugs?

Billy just cackled from the pavement, though it sounded forced as he struggled to pull himself up back up. He shoved Steve back, but it didn’t have nearly as much strength behind it as yesterday.

“You planted your feet Harrington, good,” Billy laughed, grinning like an absolute maniac as he sucked another drag from his cigarette which, surprisingly, never fell from his hand.

Steve wanted to say something else, but Dustin was interrupting before things could escalate, again.

“Uh Steve? Are you still taking us to the arcade after school?”

Billy burst out in a harsh, mocking laugh, gaining a shared glare from the other three.

“Aw, such a good little soccer mom Harrington! Making sure all the nerds get to the playground safely.”

“Fuck you Hargrove,” Steve spat, instantly regretting it when Billy got all up in his face, thick smoke billowing out between his deep red lips.

“Is that a threat or a promise Harrington?”

Steve flushed pink. What! Did Billy know? He couldn’t, the only the people who knew were Nancy and Jonathan, well and Dustin. Shit did he-

Billy laughed again, obviously eating up his discomfort before shoving him again.

“Don’t get too excited princess, boys like you ain’t my type.”

And that left Steve gaping.

Wait, what?

Chapter Text

School was completely uneventful compared to this morning. The first thing Steve did was tell Nancy and Jonathan, and they were just as confused as he was.

“So, he’s gay?” Nancy asked, chewing absently on a carrot stick.

“I think he was just trying to get under your skin,” Jonathan shrugged, pushing the schools limp excuse for spaghetti and meatballs around on his plate.

“Well obviously,” Steve huffed, his appetite all but lost at this point. “But if he was just trying to work me up, wouldn’t he have ended that with ‘I don’t swing that way’ or some shit like that?”

“Steve, its Billy. Guy is always trying to rile you up. Don’t let it get to you,” Jonathan said, taking some carrots from Nancy’s lunch.

“Oh and another thing! What does he mean I’m not his type!”

Jonathan actually laughed at that and Nancy rolled her eyes, stifling a giggle.

“I wouldn’t worry about it Steve,” she said, patting her friends hand, “You’re everyone’s type.”

School could not have gone by any faster in Billy’s opinion. And with basketball season coming to an end, he had absolutely nothing delaying him from going straight home after school. He didn’t even have the excuse of waiting on Max, since Harrington was taking the twerps to the arcade. He debated just staying out, maybe sleeping in his car instead of going home tonight, but he knew it would just be delaying the inevitable.

With a sigh, he crushed out his cigarette between his fingers and slipped into his Camaro, revving the engine as loud as he could before peeling out of the school parking lot.

Steve pulled up in the arcade parking lot, the bumbling voices filled with excitement making it hard for him to hear himself think. He had wanted to ask Dustin about this morning, but hadn’t had a chance to get him alone just yet. The second he put the car in park, the party tumbled out of the car, without so much as a “Thank you Steve.” He scoffed as he watched them all leave, all except Dustin who just stayed planted in his front seat.


“I didn’t tell anybody Steve, I swear!” He blurted out and Steve’s eyes grew wide at the outburst.

“Hey whoa, chill man. I know you wouldn’t do that, it’s ok.”

He watched as the kids entire posture relaxed and was suddenly filled with guilt. The poor kid had probably been worrying the whole day.

“Ok, cool. But, I don’t think anyone would care. I mean Will’s gay and we’re all still friends.”

“Wait, Will Byers?”

Dustin looked at him like he was the biggest idiot in the world.

“Dude. You know, for a gay guy, your gaydar is shit.”

With that, Dustin left, leaving a dumbfounded and awestruck Steve in his wake.

Billy pushed the door to his house open with significant trepidation. Neil was home, he saw his car in the driveway. It didn’t matter that he already got a beating for being home late with Max, to Neil one beating was never enough punishment.

Billy barely took three steps into the house before he was shoved against the wall, a thick hand around his windpipe.

“Billy, Billy, Billy. What did we talk about?”

Neil’s voice was quiet, but it had an edge to it. One Billy knew all too well. He was in for it today.

Billy squeezed his eyes shut, willing the fearful tears back into his skull.

“Respect and responsibility sir,” he shook out, the hand around his throat closing tighter.

“You’re damn right. Now, where’s your sister?”

“She’s at the arcade. I drove her there myself,” He lied, knowing the shit fit Neil would have if he knew someone else drove his golden child.

Neil sighed and Billy began to sweat.

“You know what happens when you lie Billy.” 

“I’m not lying,” Billy said quickly and something in Neil’s eyes changed, and the grip on his throat tightened to the point where he couldn't breathe. Billy instantly knew he was fucked.

“That’s very interesting,” Neil murmured, his voice edging on threatening, “Because, last I checked, the arcade is 15 minutes into town. And if my math is correct, which it always is, you’re here 10 minutes earlier than you should be. So I’ll give you one more chance to tell me Billy, where is Max?”

Billy squirmed in the tight grasp, black spots starting to appear in the edges of his vision. He’d played this game with Neil before, it wouldn’t be long before he lost consciousness.

“She’s at the arcade dad, I swear,” Billy panted, lifting his hands to his throat to fight only to drop back down to his stomach after Neil kneed him in it.

“Oh Billy. You just never learn, do you?”

“Dad, I swear she’s at the arcade. I- pulled her out of class early so I could be back in time.” It wasn't his best lie, but it was one Neil would believe.

“Is that so? Want to tell me what was so important you had to be back for?”

Billy took a bracing breath, “I had another date sir.”

The punch to the temple was expected, as was the second to the stomach. And when Billy fell to the ground, the kick to the jaw was the next plausible action. With Susan and Max out of the house, there was no reason for Neil to hold back.  

As the flurry of punches rained down on Billy, he questioned why he was protecting Harrington. It would have been a hell of a lot easier on himself to just say someone else took Max to the arcade. He could have gotten away with just the blow to the face. But Billy was terrified of Neil. He knew first hand the type of damage his father could do to the human body. From what he heard from Tommy, Steve could barely take that skinny freak Byers in a fight. No, Neil would absolutely murder the do-gooding princess, and Billy liked tormenting the kid way too much to let that happen.

When the kicks slowed, and the screaming finally stopped, Billy felt his body get pulled from the floor, though his limbs were numb and utterly unresponsive under him. If Neil didn’t have such a death grip on his front, he probably wouldn’t even be standing right now.

“Go clean yourself up. Then go get your sister. She needs to be home by dinner.”

Billy tried to answer, but he was too busy swallowing down the blood in his mouth to speak. Instead he just nodded, his legs finally giving out when Neil let go.

How a group of 13 year old kids convinced Steve fucking Harrington to stick around and play Dig Dug for over an hour, he’ll never know. Maybe it was because of the newfound friendship he developed with all of them after saving their hometown from demodogs and child-abusing scientists. Or maybe it was because hanging out with a bunch of 13 year olds sure beat sitting alone in an empty house for the fifth night in a row. Whatever the case, Steve was admittedly having a great time.

MadMax still held the high score on Dig Dug, despite Dustin’s several and long winded attempts at earning back the title. And Will managed to finally beat Dragon’s Lair, after according to Mike, 3 months of trying.

It was nice to be surrounded by laughter and mindless entertainment, it reminded Steve of last year, before everything in town went to absolute shit. But he tried not to think about it too much, ‘live in the moment’ as his counselor would say. And yes, after almost being eaten alive by a demodog, Steve was definitely seeing a therapist twice a month.

Dustin was in the middle of another attempt at beating Max’s high score when the door to the arcade slammed open, startling every patron in the place. It shouldn’t have surprised Steve that it was Billy, who else in this town would be that much of a shitbag to need to make every entrance a spectacle. Though he didn't know why he was here, Steve already offered to drop the kids off, and it wasn’t even close to 6 yet.

As the younger man stalked closer, Steve could make out the wrath on his face, mixed with- alarm? It was the same look Jonathan had when the Mind Flayer had taken control of Will’s body. As he got closer, Steve also noticed the bruising. Shit, it had only been an hour! Had Billy already found someone to brawl with? He wouldn’t doubt it. The guy had a fucking hair trigger. Steve was just grateful he wasn’t on the receiving end of it this time.

Billy crossed the arcade in less than 10 steps, slapping his hand on Max’s shoulder far harder than was necessary. Steve’s hair stood on end when she yelped. Was he serious right now?

“Max. We gotta go,” Billy uttered, and he sounded, honestly exhausted. It was a drastic difference from what his face portrayed.

Max shook him off easily, turning back to her game.

”Fuck off Billy, it’s not even 5 yet.”

That was apparently the wrong answer, because Billy was yanking her arm from the machine and pulling her towards the door before anyone could even think to react.

“Hargrove! What the fuck man?” Steve shouted after him, pulling Billy’s hand from Max’s arm and shoving him back against the door. “You beating on little girls now too?”

“Mind your own damn business Harrington. This doesn’t concern you,” Billy seethed, pushing Steve back with significantly more strength than this morning.

“If you’re gonna be hitting Max, that is my fucking business!” He shouted, far louder than he should have given their present company, but he didn’t care. Billy was a bully, and Steve would be damned if he let Max wind up on the receiving end of his wrath.

Billy’s eyes scanned the room before easing up, obviously noticing the crowd their spectacle had caused. His body language shifted into one far less threatening now and more just drained.

“Please. I need to take my sister home now,” He begged quietly, and Steve’s felt his brain nearly short circut. In the several weeks he’d known Billy Hargrove, never had he heard the word ‘please’ fall from his lips. Nor had he heard him refer to Max as anything other than his ‘bitch of a step-sister’. Steve couldn’t shake the weird vibe that it caused in the pit of his stomach.

Max seemed to notice it too. She was squeezing past Steve and taking a place beside Billy, a weary look in her eyes.

“I-It’s ok Steve. I should probably get home. My mom doesn’t like me to stay out too late on school nights. Thank you for driving us.”

Steve opened his mouth but no words came out. He just stared at the two siblings blankly.

“I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” she said, waving to the other boys before following her brother out to his car.

“Ok, what in the hell was that?” Dustin asked when the two left and Steve’s eyes finally pried themselves from the door.

Steve just shook his head. “I was just asking myself the same thing kid.”

Chapter Text

Billy drove 30 over the entire ride home. There was no way in hell he was going to be late again. Neil said dinner, which meant 5, and it was already 4:45.

His head was fucking throbbing, but it didn’t matter. As long as he got Max home on time. The black spots in his vision didn’t matter either, or the overwhelming feeling of nausea that was bubbling in his gut. He could ignore all of that, as long as he kept his eyes on the yellow lines, as long as he didn’t think about-

Billy yanked the wheel hard to the right, the car skidding to a screeching halt. Max was screaming at him, but it was muffled compared to the booming of blood in his ears. Billy barely had enough time to get out of the car before he was puking his guts out in the wet, marshy ditch.

Yup, definitely got a concussion was his last thought before the black spots took over and he went limp on the slick pavement.

Max’s eyes bugged out of her skull as she saw Billy fall. His body fell against the pavement with a sickening thud and she felt her stomach turn.

“Billy!? Billy, shit-”

She tore through her backpack for the radio Dustin gave her for Party emergencies, hoping to God someone had theirs on.

Dustin hissed as his headphones screeched with feedback. Max was shouting in his ear, clear panic in her voice.

“Whoa Max, slow down! I can't-”

Steve raised an eyebrow, watching several emotions pass over the younger kids face before settling on fear.


“What? Dustin, what is it?”

“Steve, we gotta go. Now.”

Steve drove way faster than a guy with four minors in his backseat ever should, but Dustin was freaking out, which meant the Party was freaking out, which meant Steve was, you guessed it, freaking the fuck out. He didn’t even know where he was going, only that he was turning left after 'Mirkwood,' which he was pretty sure wasn’t even a real place.

“There! Shit Steve, turn!” Dustin shouted and Steve blinked, yanking the wheel to the left hard, taking out a mailbox at the end of the street. Shit, his dad was gonna kill him for that.

He only had to drive another couple hundred feet before Billy’s eyesore of car came into view, a panicked stricken Max darting into the street.

Steve popped the car in park and they all ran out, talking over each other in a big commotion. Steve finally had to shout at them to get a clear story out.

“Max, what the hell happened?”

“It’s Billy! I-I don’t know! He just pulled over, threw up and then passed out. I didn’t know what to do!”

Steve looked over the passengers side of the car and sure enough, there was Billy, passed out in the grass.

“Ssshit,” Steve booked it over to Billy, flipping him over and checking for a pulse.

“Billy? Hey, Hargrove, can you hear me?”

He didn’t get a response. Billy was clammy, but Steve was able to locate a pulse.

“Max, before he threw up, did he say he hit his head?”

“I-I don’t know. He didn’t say anything after we left the arcade.”

Steve remembered the arcade. Billy looked like he had been beat to shit. He wouldn’t doubt the guy he fought with got in a few hits to his head. A concussion was the most likely, Steve had gotten a few minor ones himself because of basketball. He knew enough about them to know that throwing up and passing out after hitting your head was bad.

“Shit shit shit,” Steve shook Billy hard, gaining no more response than before. He shouted loudly in his ear and when that got no response, grabbed his hand, pinching hard on the pressure point between his thumb and his forefinger.

Billy gasped awake and swung, his fist just narrowly missing Steve’s face.

“Get the fuck off me-” Billy slurred, swinging his fist again and staring blankly ahead with unfocused eyes.

“Whoa, hey man, it’s just us.” Steve tried for calming but there was a good chance he missed the mark.

Billy finally looked forward, focusing his gaze and giving Steve a weird look.

“Harrington? The fuck-”

“You passed out for a second there. I was worried I was gonna have to drag your unconscious ass to the hospital,” he joked, trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation.

Steve was quickly pushed away by Max’s arms which wrapped tight around her brother.

It threw everyone for a loop. What was going on with these two?

“Billy, I was so scared,” she sobbed and he pushed her off, gentler than he usually did.

“Get off me Max, ‘M fine,” He slurred, his eyes starting to slip closed again.

“Oh no you don’t, Hargrove.” Steve pushed down on that pressure point again, Billy’s eyes snapping open with a shout.

“Fuck Harrington! Cut that shit out!”

“You probably have a concussion you asshole!” Steve shouted back, “You’re welcome for trying to keep you from slipping into a coma!”

Billy huffed and rolled back onto the cement, rubbing the heel of his hand into his eye. His head hurt like a bitch, and there was a good chance he was gonna puke again. And-

“SHIT! Max, we gotta go,” He said, bolting up from the ground and searching for his keys.

“Whoa, you’re not driving anywhere like this. And you’re definitely not taking Max,” Steve said and Billy whipped around, shoving Steve, hard.

Where did this guy get his energy?

“No one tells me what to do Harrington. Why don’t you stay the fuck out of business that isn’t yours. I need to get Max home. We’re late enough as it is.”

Steve noticed that look from the arcade was back on Billy’s face, Max had also stiffened beside him.

“Max, get back in the car,” Billy ordered and Steve let out an exasperated laugh.

“What am I speaking French? She’s not going with you!”

Steve faltered as the animosity in Billy’s gaze returned, full force and directed on him.

“You got about three seconds to plant your feet Harrington,” Billy warned and Steve knew what was coming next.

“Billy stop it!” Max screamed, jumping in front of Steve like some sort of romance movie hero.

It irritated Billy to no end, why did all these kids like him so much? As much as he hated Max in that moment, he’d never hit her. He watched too much of his dad beat on his mom to ever want to be like him.

His fist dropped to his side, every knuckle popping when his hand clenched. He let out a deep breath through his nose and resigned.

“Fine. You’re taking us home then Harrington. And step on it.”

Steve dropped all the kids off, minus Billy and Max, at Mike’s first, on the assumption he’d be taking Billy to the hospital after getting Max home. That wasn’t something he needed the kids along for, especially if Billy was going to put up another fight.

Billy threw up another two times on the way over, but at least had the good grace to warn Steve to pull over first. Steve was not in the mood to clean puke out of his seats.

When they pulled up to the Hargrove’s, Steve noticed Billy go still in the front seat. It was weird, shouldn’t he be glad they were home? He was making such a big deal about getting there ten minutes ago...

“We got it from here Harrington, beat it,” Billy finally bit out, and Steve felt the hair on his neck bristle in anger. This guy was such a fucking asshole.

Billy took one step out the door and nearly face planted. Steve debated just leaving him there, but he knew his conscious wouldn’t allow it.

I’m doing it for Max, he told himself, Billy didn't deserve everything he’d already done for them.

He sighed and opened his own car door, hurrying to Billy’s side and pulling him off the pavement, wrapping one of Billy’s arms around his neck.

“Fuck off Harrington, I don’t need your help,” Billy slurred and Steve had to fight the urge to roll his eyes.

“You can barely stand asshole. Just shut the hell up and let me get you inside.”

Billy said something else, but Steve didn’t hear it. Didn’t really care either.

When they reached the front door, an angry looking, middle-aged man stood inside it, a sneer on his face that matched the one Billy usually wore. There was no doubt in Steve’s mind this was Billy’s dad.

His eyes softened when Max poked her head around Steve and snuck inside, but immediately hardened when returning to look at Billy.

“You’re late.” He said as a way of greeting and Steve felt Billy’s posture stiffen against him.

“I know sir, I-”

“Who’s this faggot?”

Steve’s head whipped up and his jaw dropped. The slur caught him off guard. He knew a lot of people weren't especially accepting of gay people, but it didn't make the word any easier to swallow.

“No one,” Billy pushed off Steve and stumbled across the threshold, letting the front door slam hard in Steve’s face without another word.

Chapter Text

Billy stood in the doorway nervously, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Max was home, but they were late. Billy had made them late. And he had to be taken home by a stranger, and a guy no less. The tension in the living room was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

“Dad-” Billy started but Neil didn't let him finish.

“One day Billy. Can you even go one fucking day without embarrassing me!”

Billy winced and backed against the door, hand on the handle in case he had to make a run for it.  

“Im sorry sir, I-”

“You listen here Billy, I will not let you drag this family's reputation through the dirt again. We will not be known as the family with the queer son. And If I ever see you with that faggot again, I’ll kill him. Do I make myself clear?”

Billy swallowed the lump that formed in his throat and nodded. He knew Neil was serious.

Billy managed to make it to his room without another beating, but he was pretty sure that was only because Susan and Max were in the living room. He wasn't out of the clear yet. But either way, he wasn’t looking a gift horse in the mouth.

For the first time in two days, Billy looked at himself in the mirror. God, he looked like shit. His hair was flat, matted and tangled, like he didn’t know what a shower was. His face wasn’t much better. There was a deep purple bruise on the left side of his jaw from Harrington and a dark black spot that ran from his temple to his right cheekbone, and a split down the center of his bottom lip but he couldn’t remember who from. Road rash covered the opposite side of his face from when he passed out taking Max home. He’d be lucky if he didn't have scars.

His torso wasn’t much better. His ribs were nearly black with bruises. He knew from past experiences at least two were cracked, making every breath he took agonizing. Well, no open shirts for a while… At least with basketball season over he wouldn't have to worry about anyone seeing his bruised and battered body.

There was something about seeing the damage that made it all real to Billy, showed him just how ugly he was, inside and out. He let his knees give under him as he collapsed in front of his mirror, dragging his hands across his face in a feeble attempt to stop the now free-flowing tears.

Steve backed out of the Hargrove’s neighborhood and turned left towards the Byers before he even realized where he was going. He knew Nancy would be there, and he really needed to talk to his friends.

There was something weird going on at the Hargrove’s, that much was certain. And Billy’s dad, that guy gave him the fucking creeps.

He knocked on the door hard, wishing he could just sneak in through Jonathan’s window, avoid small talk with Mrs. Byers entirely. She was sweet, and Steve loved her, but she had been through enough this year to have to deal with Steve’s shit.

To his surprise, Jonathan answered the door, looking just as shocked to see him.


“Your mom not home?” Steve asked, why he wasn’t sure. It’s not like it really mattered. He was probably just stalling.

“Uh, she got called in. Why, do you need her?”

Steve shook his head and walked inside, kicking his shoes off at the door.

“No. I gotta talk to you and Nance about something.”

“Wait, he called you what!” Nancy yelled and Steve let out a groan.

“That’s so not even important Nance! Did you even hear what I said!”

“Yeah yeah Billy’s dad's an asshole and so is Billy, it’s probably genetic.”

Steve ran a hand through his hair, giving Jonathan a desperate look.

Jonathan gave him a weak smile and nodded.

“You think Billy’s dad is hitting him.” It wasn’t a question.

Steve let out a sigh. “When we got to his house- that wasn’t the Billy I was used to. It was like he was scared.”

“I was a different person around Lonnie,” Jonathan admitted and both Nancy and Steve visibly tensed.  

“No, guys I’m ok now, really. But, living with someone like that, never knowing when the next strike is going to come, it’s exhausting. I slept through so many classes I practically flunked freshman year. And I was angry, all the time. I’m not giving him an excuse for being an asshole, I’m just saying, that shit wears on you.”

The three sat in silence after that, Steve pretty much retreating to his own thoughts. Had he been wrong about Billy this whole time?

“So, what are we gonna do about it?” Steve asked his friends.

“There’s nothing we can do about it, it’s not our business,” Nancy said and Steve barked out a laugh.

“Now you sound like Billy,” he huffed, running a hand through his hair. “Besides, that’s bullshit. Right Jonathan?”

Jonathan didn't look at him, just kept his focus on his hands as if they were the most interesting thing in the world.

“She’s right Steve. Domestic shit, its messy. And unless there’s proof, and Billy wants to file an official statement, there’s not a lot that can be done.”

“But- that’s- no!” Steve sputtered, growing angrier by the second. “We can’t just sit here and do nothing!”

Jonathan sighed, truly feeling for his friend. “We could call Hopper, have him check it out. But I'm telling you Steve, this is a lot messier than you realize right now. Trust me, I've lived it.”

Chapter Text

When Billy didn't show up for school the next day, Steve got worried. When he didn't show up the day after, he got angry. And when he didn't show up by Friday, Steve took action.

He waited in the parking lot of Hawkins Middle until he saw a familiar flash of bright red hair. She was walking with Dustin and Lucas, laughing and smiling. Well at least whatever was going on at home didn't seem to be affecting her. She looked to her left, like someone was calling her and Steve followed her gaze, assuming he’d see a familiar blue camaro. Instead he was met with the face of an older woman, same bright red hair as Max with a weary smile on her face. Steve assumed that was Max’s mom.

He shouted for her before he could stop himself, knowing his window of opportunity to find out where the hell Billy was was closing fast.  

She turned quickly and gave him a curious smile, nodding towards her mom to hold on.

“Steve? What’s up?”

“Doesn't Billy usually take you home?” He asked and her eyes widened, obviously thrown by the sudden question.

“Um yeah usually but, my moms taking me to see my uncle today.”

“Has he been picking you up all week?” He asked and that look was back.

“Yeah, why-”

“He hasn't been at school all week,”

“He-he hasn’t?”

And that sure as hell sent red flags up.

The sound of a horn broke up their conversation and Max’s mom was shouting at her to hurry up or they were going to be late.

Steve was about to turn and leave but Max grabbed his arm, squeezing hard.

“Neil gets home at 5. You have to be out of there by then. Please, go check on him?”

The genuine fear and worry that was so plainly etched on Max’s face was never an expression he’d seen her have for her brother. It shook Steve to his very core. He would definitely be calling Hopper tonight.

Billy lit up a cigarette in front of his mirror, taking in his body in its numerous stages of healing. He hadn't bothered going to school the day after Steve took him home. Staying up all night to avoid slipping into a coma made it hard for him to stay conscious enough to drive Max to school, let alone try to focus on classes the next day.

Not that that mattered to Neil in the slightest. He beat Billy so bad for ditching school he couldn't get out of bed for three days. Here he was, approaching day five and he could finally stand without collapsing. He was dreading the coming weekend, knowing that would be three days alone with Neil. But maybe, if he was good, by the time Monday rolled around he’d be healed enough to go out in public.

He didn't bother with anything but a pair of loose sweats that hung low on his hips all week. His body hurt too bad to wear anything restricting and it wasn't like he was gonna see anyone anytime soon. He limped around the kitchen in search for booze, hoping the familiar buzz of alcohol would take away some of the aches in his limbs.  

He was startled by a loud knocking, only to be irritated when he realized it was probably Max, the little shit probably forgot her key again.

“You know, one of these days I’m just gonna leave you out there,” He shouted through the door, retching it open with more force than was probably necessary.  

But it wasnt Max on the front porch, it was

“Harrington?” He asked, squinting as bright light shined in his eyes for the first time in days. Shit he really needed to get out of the house.

Whatever Steve was going to say died on his tongue when he saw Billy. Shit, the guy looked even worse than he did Monday, and it filled Steve with so much rage. He didn't even like the guy, but he knew this shit had to stop.

“What the fuck are you doing here amigo?” Billy asked around a cigarette and Steve was instantly thrown back to the Byers. It had only been a few weeks but it seemed like a distant memory now.

“You haven't been at school all week,” he answered, as if that explained everything.

A slick smile spread across Billy’s features and Steve knew he wouldn't appreciate whatever Billy was about to say.

“Aw, you miss me Princess? Didn’t realize how much of an impact I made on you.”

“Shut up man, its not like that.” Steve tried to brush Billy off, but suddenly Billy was in his face again, smoke falling from those full lips once more.

“No one else is here Harrington, you don’t have to bullshit me. I know exactly how you feel about me.”

Steve tried to swallow, but the nervous lump that formed in his throat made it difficult. He took a step back, shoving his hands in his pockets and breaking the intense gaze Billy seemed to trap him in.

“I already told you man, it’s not like that.”

“Mmhm, and yet, here you are.”

Steve looked up to see Billy leaning on the doorframe, the sweats slipping dangerously low on his hips. Steve’s tongue darted out nervously to wet his lips and when he looked back up, Billy was grinning knowingly at him.

Steve’s face flushed pink. He was rapidly losing control of the situation and if he didn't get back on track now, he’d give himself away. And that was not something he wanted to give Billy Hargrove the pleasure of having.

“Max asked me to come check on you,” Steve said quickly, watching as Billy’s smile dropped and his expression hardened significantly.

“I don’t need a fucking babysitter Harrington,” And just like that, the Billy he knew was back.

“Look, Billy. You haven't been at school all week, you tried to take Max home with a fucking concussion, you have significantly more bruises than you did Monday, I’m just trying to hel-”

“I don’t need your fucking help ok? I’m not some 13 year old kid. I don’t need fucking saving like some romance movie bitch! I’m a grown man and I can take care of myself!”

Steve was about to argue, laugh in his face and reference the numerous bruises that litereted his torso to prove his point but suddenly he was being pulled through the threshold into the Hargroves by Billy, who had turned white as a sheet.

“Billy wha-”

“You gotta get the fuck outta here,” Billy threatened, but Steve couldn’t understand why. It was only 4:05, why-

Shit. Neil was home early.

They both froze in the hallway as they heard an engine idle in the driveway, followed by a car door slamming.

“Go out through my window. Second door on the left,” Billy said quickly, pushing Steve hard when he didn't move. “Go Harrington!”

Steve didn't need to be told again, he sprinted down the hallway as fast as his legs would take him.

The front door smacked the adjacent wall hard enough for the doorknob to break through the drywall. Billy could see the anger radiating off Neil in waves. Billy stood in the hallway, hands trembling as he waited for what was to come. There was no way in hell his dad didn't see Steve. His fucking car was parked across the street. He couldn't lie his way out of this one, he’d just have to wait and take his beating like a man.

“Where is he?” Neil asked, his voice sharp and cold like ice.

“He left.”

Neil’s face twisted into a sneer and he began to move towards Billy’s bedroom.

Billy didn't know what came over him, but he pushed himself in front of his father, trying to buy Steve a few more seconds to escape. Billy yelped as he was shoved to the floor, the bruises littering his body flaring up as they made contact with hardwood. It knocked his breath out for a moment, but Billy struggled despite, pulling himself up on nothing but adrenaline.

By the time Billy pulled himself up, Neil was back in the living room, looking angrier than before. He was out the door before Billy could even blink and he just hoped, prayed Steve was long gone by now.

Chapter Text

Billy stumbled his way into his bedroom, his muscles screaming at him to lay on something other than hardwood. He slammed the door to his bedroom closed behind him and slid down to the floor in defeat. Finally alone, he let his face drop in his hands, the tears flowing freely now.

What if Neil found Harrington? What if he hurt him? Shit, what if he actually killed him? Billy shuddered at the image of what Steve would look like, his face caved in and bloody. What Billy did to him at the Byers was nothing compared to what Neil could do. The man was a fucking psychopath.

He shuddered as another wave of emotions racked his frame. He was so entrapped in his own thoughts he didn't hear the familiar squeaking of his closet door opening across the room. Didn't notice the floorboards creaking under light footsteps as someone stalked towards him. Didn't notice Steve fucking Harrington sitting down in front of him until he felt large hands settling on his shoulders.

Billy jerked backwards as he was startled, his hands coming up in front of his face in defense.  


As realization set in, his confusion was quickly replaced with a pungent alarm.

“What- what are you doing here? I told you to leave!”

“I know, I know I tried,” Steve held up his hands in surrender, trying to talk soft and fast in case Neil came back. “Your dad, he’s fast. I thought he was going to catch me going out the window so I hid.”

Billy shook his head and glanced at the window, subconsciously barricading himself harder against his door.  

“He’ll be back. Steve, you- you gotta get out of here before he comes back. If he finds you-” Billy warned.

“Come with me,”

Billy looked at Harrington like he grew a second head.

“What- are you fucking serious? I can’t just leave Steve.”

“Why not?”

Steve looked honestly puzzled and it made Billy laugh, though there was no humor in it.

“I can't just leave Max, Steve. Not with him. Susan won’t do shit to protect her if I’m not here.”

“So both of you come with me, we can go talk to Hopper and-“

“No. No fucking cops,” Billy growled, a fierceness in his voice Steve had never heard before. All trace of sadness was replaced with anger and Steve knew he had crossed some imaginary line.

“Listen, Harrington, I know you got this hero complex going on where you gotta save everyone, but we’re fine.”

“You call this fine?! Billy look at yourself! You’ve got more undamaged skin that clear at this point, you can barely stand, and you’re hiding in your room with a guy you hate!”

He hadnt meant to raise his voice, but Billy just made him so angry. He sighed and drug his hand through his hair, watching as Billy began to shut down, throwing up walls likely in effort to undo the last 30 minutes.


The younger man said nothing.

“Billy?” Steve tried again and at least this time he got a some form of a mumbled “What?”

“This- this shouldn’t be happening, to anyone ok ? It’s fucked up and wrong. Look at yourself Billy. You’re better than this, even you, as much of an asshole as you can be, deserve better. You have to know that.”

Billy let out a humorless laugh and slumped, dragging his fingers through his messy curls.

“Yeah well, that’s where you’re wrong Harrington.”

“I’m not-”

“Max tell you the real reason we moved here?” Billy interrupted, eyes focusing on something on the far wall. There was a pain there, a vulnerability that maybe Billy didn’t mean to let show. Steve felt guilty intruding on the moment.

“Lucas mentioned something yeah, about her mom and Neil wanting a fresh start.”

Billy snorted and looked down, pulling his knees back up towards his chest. It made him look smaller.

“Yeah well, that’s bullshit. They moved here ‘cus of me.”

Steve knew Billy was about to confess something big, something that he wouldn’t dare in different circumstances. He bit his tongue to keep from saying the wrong thing.

“Neil caught me, with uh, with an ex of mine. Sam.”

Billy’s eyes began to tear up at the memory, Steve tried his hardest not to stare.

“We-we were together for a couple months, nothing too serious but I liked him you know?”

Did Steve hear right? Did he say him?

“Cali is pretty lax on the whole queer thing, always has been. ‘Land of the fairies’ my dad likes to call it.”

Yup, Steve definitely heard right.

“Anyway. After Neil was done beating the shit out of me, he went after Sam, made me watch. Fucked him up real good too. Told us he was gonna beat the fag out of both of us.”

Billy let out a wet, bitter laugh. “So much for that huh?”

Steve didn’t say anything, didn’t know what to say really.

“Moved our asses out here after that. He thought, small town, small minds. And if I was far enough from the constant influence of the ‘fag lifestyle’ it’d fix me. Hell, you’d probably get a damn badge of honor for beating up a faggot here.”

The tears in Billy’s eyes were back, followed by some of his own. Steve’s parents were shit, neglectful and superficial in their affection towards him, but they’d never talk to him like Neil does Billy. Never beat him or tell him he was shit for being who he was. It made Steve sick to his stomach to think about what Billy had to go through on a daily basis.

“Billy I-“

The sound of a doorknob twisting caught both their attentions, dread sinking in the pit of Steve’s stomach. Billy was up in an instant, shoving Steve towards the window and muttering in a harsh whisper,

“Go. Out the window. I’ll distract him.”

Steve wanted to argue, but Billy’s face told him otherwise. He sent one more glance Billy’s way before slipping out the window silently.

Chapter Text

Steve drove as fast as he could to the Byers place, it was closer than his own house and he needed to get to a phone fast .  

He just barely put the car in park before he made a mad rush to the door. He didn’t even bother to shut the car off, someone could take his car for all he cared, he just needed to get to a phone. He didn’t bother knocking, just turned the handle left, knowing it would be unlocked if someone was home and pointed to the first person he saw.

“Phone, where is it?”

Will’s eyes went wide as Steve Harrington burst through his front door without so much of a hello before demanding use of their phone. He was so shocked the words died on his tongue and pointed at a teal colored cord phone on the living room wall.

“Thanks kid,” he said, finally managing to locate some manners before grabbing the phone and punching in the familiar number.

“Get me the Chief.”

The doorknob hit the adjoining wall with a painful sounding smack, no doubt busting a hole in the drywall of Billy’s bedroom wall. Neil’s eyes lit up in fury as he scanned Billy’s room for Steve.

“Where. Is he?” He seethed, and Billy swallowed, the words dying on his tongue.  

“I saw his car boy! Answer me goddamn it!”

“Gone. And you’ll never find him you sick fuck.”

Billy wasn’t sure where the sudden confidence came from. Over the course of ten years he had never once stood up to his father. When the sickening crunch of teeth and bones under Neil’s fist echoed in his ears, he remembered why.  

Steve drove 25 over the speed limit, knowing Hop would likely scold him later but couldn't find it in him to care at the moment. They were already fighting the clock as it is. Steve turned the corner onto Billy’s street and tensed, a large lump forming in his throat. Neil’s car was missing from the driveway and the front door was wide open. That couldn't possibly be good.

Steve threw his car in park and sprinted the rest of the way into the house, Hoppers shouts for him to stop barely registering in his mind. All he could think in that moment was Billy.

Find Billy.

The house was an absolute wreck, way worse than it was less than an hour ago. It looked like someone tore up the living room in a fit of rage. There was no telling which Hargrove was responsible, but Steve had a feeling it was Neil. Steve was careful not to step in the numerous piles of glass as he walked the familiar path to Billy’s bedroom.

He shouted for the younger man and got nothing in response. A familiar feeling of dread worked its way into Steve’s chest as he rounded the corner to Billy’s bedroom.

Please, please don’t let me be too late.

Steve pushed open the bedroom door to find Hargrove, limp and pale on his bedroom floor.

All the air was kicked from Steve’s lungs in an instant. Nothing, not even the Demo dogs could make him feel as petrified as he was right now.

Steve was on the ground immediately, searching across the cold and pale flesh for any sign of a pulse. There was a steadily growing puddle of blood dripping from Billy’s forehead and Steve pressed his sleeve against it, trying to stop what he could. He was able to locate a pulse, slow and faint, but it was there.

Billy’s eyelids fluttered under the motion, but quickly fell back closed, his body growing still under Steve’s hands.

“No, no no no. Billy? Hey, answer me man.” Steve begged, gaining no further response from the younger man.


Steve turned around to see Hopper, looking just as stunned and horrified as Steve felt. He reached for the radio attached to his shoulder, his eyes never leaving Billy.

“Flo, s-send medical to the Hargrove’s place right away.”

Billy played happily on the beach, his mother handing him a shovel to smooth out the top of the bucket he was finished filling with sand. They had been building for nearly an hour, and it was almost complete. A “castle fit for my king” his mother had said, gaining a large smile from 7 year old Billy.

She had made him stand inside it, grinning, just barely taller than the top of the castle, while she took a Polaroid. She had taken Billy to get ice cream to celebrate, making Billy promise he wouldn’t tell Neil because it would spoil his dinner. Billy giggled and held a small finger to his lips, promising to keep it just between them.

That was the last happy memory Billy had of his mother, as she died no more than a week later. Billy would learn later it was from an overdose on her antidepressants. The worst part, Billy hadn't even seen it coming, but how could he at 7 years old? His mother always seemed so happy. She had a smile that could light up a room and a fierce kindness Billy had never experienced since. She never had a bad thing to say about anybody, even if they deserved it.

The moments proceeding her death still rang clear in Billy’s mind, even a decade later. As did the guilt he felt for not noticing the signs as they happened. Sarah Hargrove wore a pendant, given to her by her mother, every single day. She never went anywhere without it, nor would she let anyone else touch it. It was her most prized possession. Therefore it should have confused Billy when suddenly she placed it around his neck before pressing a soft kiss to his temple, followed by an declaration of love. Looking back, Billy knew he should have questioned such a drastic personality shift, but at 7 years old, he felt blessed to be special enough to wear his mothers necklace, even for a moment.

He remembered her smile that day, it was dimmer than usual as it didn't quite reach her eyes. When Billy asked what was wrong, she had just kissed his hand, claiming she was just tired and that he should keep playing.

Billy wished more than anything he had been old enough to understand the demons his mother had been battling on a daily basis, to have helped before it was too late.

Billy woke to the steady beeping of an EKG and the overwhelming smell of disinfectants. It aggravated his already nauseous stomach and he felt the bile slowly creeping up his throat. He was in a hospital, that much was certain, but why he couldn’t remember.

He had a feeling it was because of Neil. Anytime he woke up in the ICU it was because of Neil. He groaned and rubbed his hand over his face, he wasn't in the mood to deal with more of this shit.

“You’re awake,”

Billy’s eyes snapped open at the voice. What the fuck-


“In the flesh,” He smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. It rang too familiar and hurt Billy more than it should.

“What are you doing here?” He mumbled, letting his eyes slipped closed, the lights were making his head throb.

“Someone had to drive your ass here,” Billy could tell Steve was trying to make a joke, lighten the seriousness a bit, but he wasn't in the mood.

“Just cut the bullshit Harrington. What happened?”

Steve sighed and Billy braced himself for what was coming.  

“Your dad.”

“Well no shit,” Billy barked out a harsh laugh and glared, “You can tell me Harrington, I can take it.”

Steve’s eyes softened to something that resembled pity, it pissed Billy right the fuck off. He would not be pitied by Steve fucking Harrington.

“I- after I left, I called Hopper.”

“You called the fucking cops?!” Billy was shouting now, anger coursing through his veins. Who the hell did this guy think he was?

“Yes Billy, I did. When we got back to the house, he was gone and you were unconscious! I thought he killed you!”

A dark laugh escaped Billy’s throat. “Sorry princess, looks like you’re not getting off that easy.”

“Don't talk about yourself like that,” Steve’s spat and his gaze hardened, throwing Billy off guard. It was almost frightening . He’d never seen this look on the guy before. He didn't like the way it made him feel, so he deflected.

“Why the fuck do you care? It’s not like we're friends. Last I checked we fucking hated each other. Just because you happened to hide in my closet instead of fucking leaving like I told you to, doesn't make us friends. We got nothing in common.”

Now it was Steve’s turn to laugh, and Billy hated the way it made him feel.

“We have more in common than you think,” he said cryptically and Billy sent him a glare.

“Oh yeah, how's that? Please Harrington, enlighten me.”

The doctor came in then, halting any and all further conversation. Steve, that fucker, took that as his leave, keeping Billy from getting his answer.

God he fucking hated Steve fucking Harrington.   

Chapter Text

Some cop walked in after the doctor, a big guy, easily over 6 feet tall and broad as fuck. He was intimidating as shit if Billy was honest with himself.

“Kid, my name's Chief Jim Hopper.”

Billy sighed. Great, here we fucking go.

“Yeah. I’ve heard your name before,” Billy grumbled. Not in the mood for niceties.

“I’ve heard yours too. Heard what you did to Sinclair, and saw the number you did on Harrington not too long ago. I’m surprised we didn’t meet sooner.”

Billy swallowed hard, eyes darting to the floor in shame. He wasn’t entirely proud of that night. He had gotten into it with Neil before, gotten a pretty bad beating too, and when he made it to the Byers, all he saw was red. He hadn’t meant to hurt Harrington as bad as he did, he was just a convenient outlet for his rage. And Sinclair, well that was another can of worms. Neil was a racist, homophobic piece of human garbage. Word had gotten back to Neil about Max and Sinclair, and naturally that meant Billy would be on the receiving end of his fists. Billy had failed in “protecting” Max from the “wrong crowd” and if he didn’t take care of it now, it would only get worse. He just wanted to scare the kid, maybe scare Max too, in a weird, fucked up way of protecting them both from Neil.

Hopper broke him out of his thoughts with a throat clear, taking the spot Harrington was previously in and pulling out a pen and paper.

“But I’m not here to talk about that. How you holding up kid?”

“I’m alive,” Billy shrugged, instantly regretting it when his muscles flaired up in agony.

“Just barely from what I heard,”

Billy could tell Hopper was treading lightly, talking to him like he was some fragile little kid. It pissed him right the fuck off.

“I’m fine. The doctors don’t know shit,” he growled, fully aware said doctor was still in the room.

“Three broken ribs, a dislocated jaw, multiple contusions on your pelvis and spine and a pretty nasty concussion, but what do I know, right?” The doctor snarked back and Billy actually smirked, guy had balls.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t really call that fine kid,” Hopper sighed and Billy had just about enough.

“I’m breathing aren’t I!”


“Don’t call me that!” He huffed, anger pumping through his veins. He wasn’t sure what it was, maybe because the guy was a cop, maybe because he was hooked up to more wires than a damn lab rat, but he hated feeling trapped. He just wanted to disappear.

Hopper held up his hands in surrender and returned his attention to his notepad.

”Noted. Billy alright?”

Billy nodded curtly.

“Billy, I uh, I was able to track down your old man.”

Billy felt all the air leave his lungs in one quick, painful whoosh at the mention of Neil. He’d be so fucking mad Billy got the cops involved. He was dead, Neil would kill him when he got out of here.

Hopper heard the beeping of the EKG spike and cursed under his breath.

“Listen, I’ve got him in a holding cell, ok? He can’t get to you right now. But- I can only keep him for 72 hours. I gotta get a statement from you to make it stick, and then court to make it more permanent. Is it ok if I ask you a few questions?”

Billy was quiet, looking up to see the doctor hovering like a drama thirsty high school girl.

“Uh Doc, think we could get a few moments alone?”

“Oh! Y-Yes of course,” The doctor flushed in embarrassment, extending his apologies before closing the courtesy blinds and shutting the door.

“Alright,” Hopper started, fidgeting with his pencil and keeping his eyes off Billy. “Let's start off with something easy. I’m assuming this isn’t the first time something like this has happened?”

Billy felt the bile starting to crawl up his throat and scowled. He hated this. Hated cops, hated hospitals, hated the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that threatened to crush him at any minute.

“I’ma need words ki- Billy.”

“Neil’s been hitting me since I was a kid. So no, I lost count how many times he’s beat my face in.”

Hopper let out a deep sigh, pitching the bridge of his nose tight in anger. He hated these types of calls. It always made him question his moral drive.

“You got a guess on how many years?”

“I don’t have to guess, it started after my mom died. So just over 10 years. Though it got worse right before we moved here.”

Billy watched Hopper frown, too busy scribbling something in his notebook to respond.

“How many times this week?”

Billy thought back, he didn’t even know what day it was anymore. They all seemed to blur together. Friday maybe?

“Three, maybe four,”

Billy heard the pencil crack under strain. It was weird. What the hell did this cop care? Everyone in this shitbag town knew the kind of person Billy was. Probably assumed he had it coming. It’s not like he was Steve fucking Harrington.

“What started the fight this last time?”

“Me. I provoked him, if I had just kept my mouth shut he would have ignored me. I had it coming.”

Hopper’s eyes snapped up from the notebook and they hardened. It was similar to the look he got from Harrington no more than ten minutes ago. Weird

“No kid, you didn’t. Trust me.”

Billy snorted, “You don’t know that. You don’t know anything about me.”


But Billy cut him off, not wanting to know what he had to say. He was sure it was going to be laced with pity, and he wasn’t in the mood for that.

“It doesn’t matter. He’ll find some way I managed to fuck up and punch my face in. It’s just the way it is.”

“Then we're gonna find a way to make the charges stick. You’re not going back there kid, not if I can help it.”

Billy didn’t know what to say. Thank you sounded weird, so he just nodded.

“Think you can start from the beginning?”

Billy let out a sigh. “It's a long story,”

Hopper flipped to a new page and pulled out a pen.

“I got nothing but time kid.”

Steve didn’t know what to do after he left Billy, so naturally he called Nancy.

“Hello?” She answered, all sweet and full of so much energy that Steve envied right now. He felt like he hadn’t slept in months. But maybe that’s because he hadn’t…Nightmares would be the death of him.

“Hey Nance,” he sighed, leaning against the closest wall and wrapping one arm around his midsection. He wasn’t sure why, but he did that every once in a while. It was almost comforting.

“Steve! Where the hell are you, Jonathan said you just burst into his house and then ran off! You scared Will half to death!”

Steve winced, he probably had some of that coming.

“I’m at the hospital Nance,”

“What!? Why!”


Goddamnit, what did that asshole do now? Are you ok?” She huffed, and Steve was glad he was over the phone so he could roll his eyes.

“I’m fine Nance. Billy’s the one in the hospital, it- it’s way worse than we thought.”

It was quiet on the other end of the line and Steve knew she was overthinking her previous comment.

“What happened?” She asked in a whisper and Steve sighed, running his hand through his hair.

“He was unconscious when I found him.”

He heard her quiet gasp and knew she was close to tears. Nancy’s overwhelming kindness and sympathy for people was Steve’s favorite thing about her. Nancy didn’t even like Billy and yet she was shedding tears for him.

“Is he alright now?” She sniffed and Steve shrugged, even though she couldn’t see it.

“More or less. He’s awake at least. He’s talking to Hop now.”

“He’s lucky you were there Steve. And that you called Hopper before it got worse.”

“He doesn’t see it that way,” Steve snorted, “Thinks I’m some sort of meddling asshole with a hero complex.”

“Well, he’s not entirely wrong,” Nancy teased and if she was there he would have playfully shoved her. “Whether he sees it or not, he’s lucky to have you Steve. You probably saved his life.”

Steve would be lying if that statement didn’t do weird things to his gut.

Billy blinked away the tears, feeling raw and vulnerable by the time he finished telling Hopper his story. He blamed the drugs for allowing him to spill his guts to some stranger, a cop no less. He didn’t dare look back at the guy, knowing exactly the kind of emotion he’d find behind the older man's eyes. He couldn’t take any more pity today. He was well tapped out there.

Hopper didn’t say anything for a good few minutes, probably processing the shitstorm that was Billy Hargrove’s life.
When he did say something, it sounded gruff, but equally kind.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this Billy. That bastard will rot in a jail cell for the next 25 years if I can help it.”

Billy didn’t really know what to say, or know if he could really trust his voice to speak without cracking right now. So instead he let his eyes close, nodding his thanks.

“And Billy, I know what you probably think about this town, but it’s been through too much shit to care about who you sleep with. What you and Harrington do behind closed doors is your business.”

Billy’s eyes snapped open and his mouth dropped open in pure, unbridled shock.

“What!? We’re- he’s not- we’re not together.” Billy sputtered, flushing a brilliant, dark pink.

Hopper gave him a look before smirking, placing his hat back on his head and shrugging.

“Really? Hm. Coulda fooled me.”

Chapter Text

Billy should have expected Harrington to stick around, it was just in his fucking nature. But that didn’t make it any less frustrating when Billy saw his pretty fucking face with his pretty fucking hair leaning against the doorframe, a pretty fucking smile on his face. Billy wanted to scream when the man drug a plastic chair across the room to sit by his bedside.   

“The fuck you still doing here Harrington?” He huffed, but it lacked any of its normal heat. Crying had drained him of all of his already dwindling energy.

Steve just rolled his eyes, but his smile stayed.

“That’s a pretty shitty attitude to give to someone who just bought you a gift.”

He dug through his pockets before depositing two small paper packets on Billy’s chest.  

Billy raised his head to see two packs of cigarettes on his chest, the very kind Billy smoked, and raised a curious eyebrow.  

“You do realize you gave me a gift I can’t even enjoy right?”

“Did I?”

Harrington’s smile widened, and as if on cue, a nurse was entering the room with a wheelchair. She came to Billy’s bedside and started to detach the millions of wires he had hooked up to him.

“Do you need help getting him in the chair?” She asked kindly, but Steve waved her off. When she left the room, Steve was in his face, grinning that stupid smile. He snatched the cigarettes back and stuffed them in his pocket. Billy would deny until the day he died the whine that left his throat.

Steve just laughed, “You’ll get your smokes, don’t worry. But you gotta do something for me first.”

Billy tensed, he didn't like the sound of that.

“Don’t worry Hargrove, I’m not after your innocence. Just want you to accept my help. Think your ego can handle that?”

Billy sent a glare his way, irritated he had been tricked.

“Leave it to you to put a stipulation on a fucking gift Harrington,” he growled and Steve just smirked, probably excited he could get a one-up on Billy Hargrove.  

“We got a deal or not?”

Billy wanted to say no, if only to piss off Harrington. But God he craved nicotine, and after the events of the past week, he could really use a smoke.

He reluctantly pushed his hand into Harrington’s outstretched one.


Billy looked out across the hospital balcony at Hawkins, the entirely of the small town covered in a light dusting of snow. While many people argued it was beautiful to look at, it just made Billy miss California more. He fucking hated the cold, it made his bones ache and his skin burn. He missed the soothing qualities of the sun and the sense of peace he felt watching the waves lick the sand. There was nothing relaxing about Hawkins. The whole town and everyone in it gave him the creeps. He didn't quite know why, just a feeling he got everytime he stepped outside.

The first pull of his cigarette soothed his already frayed nerves. He hadn’t spoken a word to Harrington since they came outside, but the older boy didn't seem to mind.

Harrington shifted next to him, digging in his pocket for something. He pulled out a small white and mint green box, the same size as the ones he gave Billy and began to dig through it. Billy snorted.

“Marlboro Menthols? What are you, a 40 year old woman?”

Steve sent him a glare and it made Billy laugh so hard he choked on his cigarette smoke.

“Shut the fuck up Hargrove.”

“Didn’t take you for a smoker Harrington,” He teased, taking another drag when he could breathe again.

Steve just shrugged and pushed a Menthol between his teeth and lit it.

“I quit for a while, but a bunch of shit happened over the last 6 months and I kinda fell back into the habit.”

Billy could understand that. He started smoking just a few years after his mom died, when Neil’s beatings started to get really bad. He couldn’t remember at what age exactly, but it was definitely on the young side.

“How did your talk with Hopper go?” Harrington asked and Billy shook his head, blowing smoke out his nose.

“It was a fucking waste of time. Shit wont come out of it. Neil will be held for 48 hours at the most. Dude’s a con artist, he will find a way to charm his way out of jail time and I'll be back in that hellhole by the end of the week.”

“Hey man you don't know that, Hopper's pretty persistent, he could-”

“Harrington, I've been dealing with this my whole life ok? I know what'll happen. Persistent or not, I’m still going back.”

Billy returned to his cigarette, frowning hard around it. He didn’t know why he even opened his mouth in the first place. Maybe it was because the nicotine was relaxing him, or maybe because it felt nice to talk to someone real. Someone with an actual opinion, someone who didn’t hang on his every word like mindless sheep. Every interaction with Tommy and Carol was like talking to a brick wall. A brick wall who kissed your ass every chance it got. And if this was his last chance at an actually engaging conversation, even if he hated it, it beat the former.

“So I’ve been thinking about what you said Harrington,” Billy said, changing the subject, “about us being the same.”

Steve raised an eyebrow and wrapped his lips around his cigarette, not explicitly answering but not ignoring either. Billy tried incredibly hard not to stare at the way those lips puckered upon inhale.

“That so?” He asked and Billy leaned in close in response, hoping to intimidate the man. He didn't like how vulnerable he was feeling right now. He needed to regain the upper hand.

“Yup,” he smirked, letting his lips pop on the last letter before blowing a plume of smoke out the side of his mouth. “I guess that means you’re a faggot too.”

Steve’s fingers tensed around the cigarette and Billy knew he had him right where he wanted him. Steve looked down at his cigarette for several seconds before nodding.

“I don’t like that word, but yeah, I am.”

Billy raised an eyebrow. “Why not, it’s true isn’t it?”

“Yeah but- it’s just not a cool thing to say man. It makes it sound like it’s a bad thing to be gay. Some people are just gay, doesn’t mean they are shit for it.” Steve huffed, tossing his cigarette to the ground and stomping it out.

Billy had definitely gotten under his skin. Good.

“Doesn’t it?”

“No, man,” Steve scoffed, looking at Billy like he was an idiot. “I’m gay, do you think I’m shit?”

“Duh,” Billy said, but his smirk lacked any real malice, “Princess, you’re nothing but good. You couldn’t be shit if you tried. Pisses me the hell off.”

Steve smiled at the backwards compliment and tucked a loose strand of hair behind his ear which Billy followed intently with his eyes. He hoped he looked away before Steve caught him staring.

“Well, I’d apologize, but I don’t really think that’s something I should be sorry for.”

That made Billy laugh, which made Steve chuckle. God it felt good to laugh. He didn’t even remember the last time he felt this light.

“Anyone else know,” Billy asked, “about you I mean?”

Steve nodded, flicking the lid of his zippo open then snapping it back closed, “Just Nancy and Jonathan, well, and Dustin.”

“That why you and Wheeler didn’t work out? Hope you didn’t break her heart too much.”

Steve actually laughed at that, if Billy only knew.

“She’s the one who told me actually.”

“No shit?”

“Promise,” Steve laughed, relaxing back in the hospital’s version of a lawn chair. “Took me by surprise though. Apparently my love for Swayze tipped her off.”

“Ok, but who doesn’t think Swayze is hot?”

“That’s what I said!” Steve exclaimed and they both erupted in a fit of giggles. Billy winced as his bruises flared with the movement but it was worth it.

“I know I fought you on it, but I guess I should thank you. For calling the cops. I’d probably be dead if you hadn’t.”

Steve looked over and frowned at the expression on Billy’s face. He looked absolutely terrified. In that moment, he didn't doubt for a second what Neil was capable of. He’d only met him for a fraction of a second and he scared him more than the demodogs did.

“No problem man,” he started before an idea formed in his head. “Hey, you know if you need a place to crash for a while, you can come stay with me. I’ve got at least two empty guest rooms that never get touched.”

“Won't your parents wonder why there’s some weird, beat-to-shit guy staying at your place?”

Steve almost laughed at that. “They’re never home. I’m lucky if I get to see them on holidays.”

“Must be nice,” Billy said and Steve realized to Billy, that would be a blessing. Though to Steve it was fucking miserable, and the crushing feeling of loneliness had only increased since he and Nancy broke up.

The nurse had returned then, looking sheepish as she realized she was interrupting something.

“I’m sorry, I need to take Mr. Hargrove for a catscan now,”

Steve nodded and tucked his zippo into his pocket before standing to take his leave.

“Just think about it, alright?”

Chapter Text

Steve didn’t return to the hospital the whole weekend. He figured Billy would want his space. And after talking to Hopper, he knew Billy was safe while Neil was locked up. Hopper promised to let him know if the situation changed.

Steve returned to his room and plugged in his strand of Christmas lights, double checking his bat was under his bed before going down to finish the dishes. 

He had bought a set of lights after their first encounter with the Demogorgon last November. Will had clued him in on the tracking quality they had bought a set the next day. The thing had come back twice now, there was no way in hell Steve was taking that kind of risk.

He went about his weekend like normal, with the small deviation of tidying up the guest room in the off chance Billy took him up on his offer. If he was honest with himself, he was a little terrified of housing Billy, the ticking time bomb with a short fuse. The man Steve met at school was a livewire, always ready to strike. But the man he got to know over the past two days was someone entirely different. Steve was sure it was just a momentary personality lapse on Billy’s part, a side of Billy no one was ever meant to see; but Steve could hope, that there was something more to the man than the adrenaline fueled anger behind his fists.

Billy was released from the hospital early Sunday morning. They sent him off without so much of a wave and enough painkillers to tranq a horse, but if it meant he could breathe without wincing he would take it.

He blinked up at the morning sun and groaned, remembering his car wasn’t in the parking lot. Harrington had driven him to the hospital on Friday, which meant he now got the pleasure of walking two and a half miles in his dirty and bloodied clothes.



By the time he got home, he was exhausted. His muscles screamed despite the anti-inflammatory and his head had begun to throb again. He just wanted to crawl in his own bed and sleep for the next week. He cursed when he realized he didn’t have his key. He looked at the driveway and saw the familiar green car in its spot next to his. Susan and Max were back.

He knocked on the door hard, letting his eyes fall close in an effort to dull the throbbing behind them.

“Well well well, the prodigal son returns.”
Billy’s eyes snapped open and his tongue dried in his mouth.


He knew it was only a matter of time before Neil got out, he just hoped it was after his body made a recovery.

“Aren’t you gonna say something?” Neil prodded and Billy swallowed hard.

“You’re home,” he said and Neil sneered.

“No thanks to you.”

Billy’s fists clenched behind his back in fear. He knew Neil wouldn’t hit him in public, so he slid past the threshold, ready to take his punishment like a man. He was surprised when he was shoved back into the open.

“And where do you think you’re going?” Neil asked with a face that could only mean bad things for Billy.

“I-Inside sir?” He tried, not knowing what the correct answer today was.

“No you’re not Billy. You don’t live here anymore.”

Billy’s jaw dropped before he could stop it and Neil gleaned joy in his discomfort.


“I didn’t think I stuttered son,” he spat the last word, like it left a bad taste in his mouth, “You don’t live here, anymore.”

A small trash bag along with his keys were forced into his arms and it took Billy a moment to realize it was his belongings. His dad had thrown all of his shit into the same type of bag you throw rotted food in.

“Respect and responsibility Billy. Those were my two rules and you broke both of them. Now, you got less than a minute to get off my property boy.”

Tears threatened to spill from Billy’s eyes but he held them back, turning quickly to his Camaro before they could fall. He felt like he had been punched in the gut, all the air had left his lungs in one long agonizing moment. He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t think, he just turned over the engine and drove, unsure where to go from here.

Steve heard the familiar rumble of the engine paired with music too loud for any normal persons ears before Billy even turned onto his street. He hadn’t expected to see him so soon, or at all honestly. Maybe he was coming by to punch his lights out for helping him. Or call him a queer and spit in his face. Yeah, that sounded more like Billy.

Steve threw his dishes in the sink before pushing back his unfixed hair and unlocking the front door. He did give the man an open invitation after all. Seemed pretty shitty to change his mind now.

Billy pulled into the familiar driveway and scrubbed a hand over his face. He grabbed the rip-off aviators on his dash and he forced them on his face, hoping the blue tint of the shades would hide his eyes. They were red and puffy from crying and he really wasn’t in the mood to explain to Harrington what happened. He just needed a place to shower, and maybe crash until Neil went to work tomorrow. Then he could grab the rest of his shit and maybe live out of his car. It wouldn’t be the first time he did that. Granted, it was a lot easier to manage in California when the temperature didn’t drop below 60.

He grabbed the black trash bag off the seat and made his way up the driveway, knocking on the door twice in rapid succession.

Steve met him with an apprehensive smile and Billy was already regretting coming here. He felt like an idiot. How far had he fallen that he was standing on Steve Harrington’s doorstep, begging admittance.

“I guess you thought about it huh?” Steve said, trying for light humor and failing miserably.

Billy grunted in agreement and pushed past him, hoping he could find the bathroom relatively easy.

“Nice digs you got here Harrington. But I shouldn’t have expected any less from the former king of Hawkins.”

“It’s not much when there’s no one home to enjoy it,” Steve shrugged and locked the door, following Billy’s eyes to the large plasma screen and imported leather furniture.

“Want a beer?”

God did Billy ever. He just wanted to get trashed and forget this whole fucking week.

“Maybe in a minute. You got a shower I can borrow?”

“Yeah, this way.”

Steve led Billy up two flights of stairs, shit how big was this house, to a small single bathroom. Well, it was small relative to the house. It was actually bigger than Billy’s entire bedroom.

“You can use any of my soaps, I mean unless you brought your own. Towels are under the sink.”

Billy nodded and tossed his bag on the closed toilet lid before twisting on the shower knob and removing his soiled jacket. Steve had yet to leave the bathroom.

“You gonna watch me shower pretty boy? Don’t you get enough of that at school?”

Steve blushed dark and Billy smirked.

“Did you need any help? I mean with the-“ Steve motioned to Billy’s bruises and he understood.

“Nah, the number of painkillers I popped on the way over here should do the trick. I’ll take that beer though, and whatever top shelf shit you got in this ritzy house.”

Steve rolled his eyes and put his hand on the door handle.

“Try not to use all the hot water,” he said before pulling the door close behind him.

Billy shook out his hair like a dog, stumbling to grab hold of the towel rack when his head swam from the rapid movement.

Don’t do that again. Check, he thought, drying his face on a fluffy blue towel before reaching for his trash bag. He sighed when he saw nothing but a second pair of jeans and his leather jacket in the bottom. Did his dad even try? He guessed he should be grateful he got anything, but it did mean he didn’t have a clean shirt to hide his bruises. Whatever, Steve had seen them already.
He swapped out his jeans, hung up his jacket, tossed his bloodied shirt in the trash bag and pulled back on his jean jacket.

He looked over himself in the mirror and grimaced. He wished he had at least a hairbrush, or something to untangle the rats nest that was knotting up under the base of his skull.

He began to dig through the shelves and cabinets, Harrington had to have one. Hell with that hair he probably had several.

Billy opened back up the cabinet with the towels and nearly fell on his ass with how hard he was laughing.

“Farrah Fawcett spray? Really?”

After leaving Billy to shower, Steve returned to his dishes. He rinsed two spoons before giving up and calling Hopper. It rang twice before the man answered.

“Chief Hopper,”

“Hey Hop, it’s Steve.”

“Oh hey kid, I’m glad you called actually, listen. Neil- he got released today.”


“I know, I know. I just found out too. I was seconds away from calling you.”

“Wha- but- how!”

“I guess the wife paid the bail. She must come from money or something because let me tell you, that shit was-“

“So what now,” Steve snapped, tossing the dish towel he had been twisting in his fists over his shoulder.


“What now Hop? How do we keep Billy safe!”

Hopper let out a sigh and Steve already knew he wasn’t going to like what the man had to say.

“That’s kinda on him kid. There’s not a whole lot I can do, not unless you can convince Billy to file for a restraining order and convince him to go to court. I told you Steve, domestics are messy-”


Steve was started from his conversation by Billy’s obnoxious shouting from upstairs. He rolled his eyes and pulled open the fridge to find beer.

“Wait, is he at your place?” Hopper asked and Steve could swear the older man was holding back a chuckle.

“Yeah, I told him he could stay here for a while.”

“That’s probably for the best. The less he can be around Neil the better. But watch yourself ok? I don’t need Neil beating on you too.”

Steve scoffed, “I can handle myself.”

Hopper did chuckle this time. “Sure kid, whatever you say.”

Steve frowned and hung up the phone in annoyance.

After his shower and another two Vicodins, Billy was feeling great. Giddy almost. Enough that the thought of accepting help from Steve Harrington was almost manageable.

He saw the older man was on the phone so he shouted from the stairway, hoping to embarrass Steve even more. It seemed to work, because Steve’s posture shifted and he heard Steve mumble an annoyed ‘shut up’ to whoever was on the phone.

With Harrington distracted, Billy snuck up behind him, waiting until he hung up the phone to slip his arm underneath Steve’s from behind and grab the beer out of his grasp.

“Thanks Princess,” he purred and Steve just about leapt out of his skin. Billy threw his head back and laughed, not even minding the hard retaliating shove it gained him. He knew he deserved it.

“Don’t do that asshole! You almost gave me a heart attack!”

“Aw I’m sorry sweetheart, I’ll clear my throat next time, how’s that?”

Steve sent him a glare before shoving past him to grab a beer of his own. Billy loved getting under the kids skin.

“How was the shower?” Steve asked and Billy shrugged, taking a sip of his beer and making himself comfortable on Steve’s leather couch.

“Lonely,” Billy sighed dramatically, slipping into his usual flirty self. He couldn’t help it, the drugs made him feel good. “Oh, by the way, I borrowed some of your Farrah Fawcett spray. Hope you don’t mind.”

Steve’s face went bright red and Billy couldn’t help but laugh at his expense.

“So that’s your secret huh? How you keep that hair looking so damn good?”

Steve was embarrassed, but he tried to play it off.

“Funny Hargrove, that almost sounded like a compliment.”

Billy smiled over the brim of his beer and shrugged his shoulders.

“Maybe it was.”

Steve scoffed, “From you? I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Hey, I’m not always a dick,” Billy defended and Steve smirked.

“Just mostly.”

Billy laughed. “Well, you got me there.”

Steve’s growling stomach broke whatever was happening between the two of them and brought them to the present.

“Hey, you hungry? Wanna order a pizza or something.”

“Sure,” Billy shrugged, aiming for nonchalant. He didn’t want to come off as desperate, even though pizza would be the first thing other than booze he’d had in his stomach all week.

“Pepperoni, bacon, and sausage good?”

“You know I’m a fan of meat Harrington,” Billy teased, dodging the pillow Steve threw at him.

“Do you always have to make everything dirty?” he laughed and Billy nodded.

“Just who I am as a person Princess. Take it or leave it.”

It could have been the numerous drugs swimming around in his system, but Billy could have sworn Steve said he’d take it. Billy would deny until the day he died how good it made him feel in that moment.

Chapter Text

Beers turned to Steve’s father’s whiskey in under an hour. By now, Billy was buzzing off his ass, and by the giggling spewing out of the taller boys mouth, Steve was too. Billy was feeling good, hell he was feeling great. Enough that he was probably going to do something stupid. He was sure of it.

“Cool if I smoke in here?” He asked, digging a cigarette out of his jacket pocket and pushing it between his teeth.

“Only if you let me bum one,” Harrington shrugged, trying to act cool. His mom would kill him for smoking in the house, but fuck it, she wouldn’t be home for another two weeks. He’d air the house out or light some candles or something.

“Need a break from your old lady cigarettes?” Billy teased, handing one over regardless.

“Shut the fuck up and give me one,” Steve laughed, Billy liked the way it sounded.

Billy took a few slow drags off his cigarette and hummed, relishing in the calming effects of nicotine. There was something he had been wanting to ask for a while now, but wasn’t in the mindset to do so. With how fucked up they both were, Billy figured now was as safe as ever. Harrington was so drunk he’d tell the truth, and not remember anything about it tomorrow.

“So tell me something Harrington. What possessed you of all people, to help out little ol’ me? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially after I beat your face in.”

Harrington just laughed. “Honestly, I’ve been trying to figure that out myself. I must be an idiot or something.”

“We both already knew that,” Billy chuckled, dodging the throw pillow Steve chucked at his head.

“Speaking of, uh, I’ve kinda been wanting to apologize for that.”

Steve’s eyebrow raised comically high. “You? Apologize?”

Billy rolled his eyes and tapped his ash into an empty beer can.

“Come on man, I’m trying to be serious.”

Steve set down his drink and pulled up his long legs, resting his arms on them and nodding for Billy to continue.

Billy shifted on the couch awkwardly. He didn’t like how much attention was suddenly on him. He cleared his throat twice before continuing.

“I uh- I got into it with Neil, before I found you at the Byers. Max was missing and of course it was my fault. My dad slapped me around a little, called me a faggot, the usual you know, demanding I go find her because it was my ‘responsibility’ as her brother.”

Billy took a drag and let his eyes drop to the floor. He didn’t want to look at Steve right now.

“I spent over an hour driving and checking the whole damn town and still couldn’t find her. I checked the houses of those losers she hangs out with and came up empty. Then Mrs. Wheeler tipped me off about the Byers place.”

He crushed out his cigarette and tossed the butt in the empty can on the coffee table.

“I just wanted to get Max home in one piece. I didn’t- I didn’t want to know what it meant for me if I couldn’t find her. And then when I saw her with you and Sinclair, I just lost it.”

“What’s your beef with Sinclair?” Steve interrupted, “I mean, me I get, but Lucas is just a kid. Is it because he’s black?”

Billy let out a long sigh. He knew this was coming.

“Neil is just as big of a racist as he is a fag hater. Remember my ex Sam I told you about?”

Steve nodded.

“He was black. And Neil- he's never hit Max, it’s always been me but, if he found out about them, I didn’t want to take any chances. It seemed easier to scare them apart than to try to explain why. So much for that right?”

Steve laughed a little and nodded. There was no separating those two now.

“It was a dick move I know, and made me look like a fucking monster, but if it keeps Max safe from Neil, it’s worth it.”

Billy took a deep breath before pouring himself another shot. This apology shit was setting his nerves ablaze. He wasn’t good at emotional crap. That was beat out of him by age ten. But he needed to do this. Needed someone to understand he wasn’t a complete fucking monster like Neil.

He knocked the drink back quick, wincing as it burned his throat on the way down. He let his head fall in his hands.

“I’m sorry, for hurting you Steve. I get- I see red when my temper gets out of control. I spiral and I just punch and scream until I can’t anymore. I’m just so fucking pissed off, all the time, and it’s exhausting. I just- I just want it all to stop.”

Billy felt hands on his and jumped, shit he feared he would never get used to touches that weren’t inherently violent. Steve had moved off the loveseat and was sitting in front of him, grip on his hands firm.

“You can you know. Make it stop,” he whispered, eyes wide and trusting.

Billy raised his eyebrow in disbelief, “Yeah? And how’s that?”

“You already are. You’re here, away from him.”

Billy barked out a laugh.

“Didn’t really have a choice Harrington. Bastard kicked me out. Being here beats sleeping in my car.”

Billy watched Steve’s face shift and mentally scolded himself when he saw the concern mixed with pity there.

“Well, whatever led you here doesn’t matter. It’s still a step in the right direction. What if you filed a restraining order. Made it permanent?”

“That wouldn’t solve a damn thing,” Billy scoffed, pulling his hands from Steve’s, “It would only make it worse.”

“You don’t know that-“

“Yeah, I do Steve! All it took was Susan throwing her daddy’s money at the judge to set him free! You really think they are gonna believe a fuck-ups word like mine over his!?”

“Alright, alright fine,” Steve sighed, running his hand through his bangs. Billy was probably right, about the judge at least, but so was Hopper. This needed to stop. He didn’t push any more, afraid of what would happen if he did.

Billy broke the tense silence first.

“It doesn’t matter anyway. I’ll be out of this shit town soon enough. I got my car, I could make the drive back to Cali in two days.”

“Now you’re just talking crazy,” Steve scoffed, “Where would you even live?”

Billy shrugged, “I lived in my car for three months after I turned 16.”

“That’s- that’s not a thing normal people do Billy!”

“Yeah well we can't all have perfect normal lives like you Harrington! I can’t just up and buy a house with my pocket change!”

Steve groaned and pushed his hair back. Why did every conversation with Billy end in a fight?

“Listen, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go, I’m just saying be smart about it! You're going to need money for food and gas. You think you’re just gonna magically find a job out there? Just like that?”

“I’ve got that covered Harrington. I know what I’m doing.”

Steve full on laughed in his face. “Oh yeah? Tell me then, tell me about your master plan Billy. About how you’re going to survive on your own with nothing.”

Steve could hear his father speaking with every word he said, but Billy was being ridiculous! He was just a kid, with a bad attitude and a temper. He couldn’t imagine a place that would hire him on that basis alone. Billy’s gaze hardened, and Steve knew he’d fucked up. He braced himself for the hit that was surely coming. When Billy didn’t react, Steve knew he crossed a line somewhere. He began to stutter out an apology but stopped when Billy spoke.

“Well, you know what they say Harrington, sex sells.”

Steve’s mouth dropped open so wide it could have touched the floor. Billy’s gaze didn’t soften and when he stood to leave, Steve knew the conversation was over.

Steve’s shock was immediately replaced with guilt. Shit. He shouldn’t have pushed, he shouldn’t have made Billy admit what he did. Fuck fuck fuck. Steve had offered his place to help Billy and now he’d just made it worse.

There was a loud slamming of a door coming from the upper floor, followed by two distinct thuds. Steve knew from experience Billy had punched the wall.

“God dammit,” Steve murmured, wanting quite strongly to punch a wall as well.

Chapter Text

When Steve woke up the next morning, the guest room was empty and the familiar blue Camaro was missing from the driveway. With a sigh he entered the guest room, groaning when he saw the sizeable hole in the wall and the spattering of drywall peppering the carpet.

“Cut my work out for me didn’t you Hargrove?”

Steve glanced at the clock and let out another groan. He was going to be late, Dustin was going to kill him.

Billy left Harrington’s early, knowing he had a small window of opportunity where no one would be home. By 7:30 am he knew Max would be at school and Susan and Neil would be at work. He waited parked around the corner an extra 45 minutes just to be safe.

When the coast seemed to be clear, Billy removed his keys from the ignition and headed for the front door. He huffed in annoyance when his key didn’t work. Neil had already replaced the locks, typical.

He wandered around the backyard to his bedroom window, it was locked as well. He spotted a decent sized rock on the ground and picked it up with a grin. No need to preserve the window now that it wasn’t his house.

The window broke under the rock with a satisfying shatter and Billy used the sleeve of his leather jacket to knock free the loose glass. He really didn’t need any new injuries right now. With a grunt, he pulled himself through the window, trash bag in hand.

He looked around the remnants of his old bedroom and sighed. Neil looked like he went on a rage-fueled destructive spree. His makeshift vanity composed of a crate, a suitcase, and a mirror was strewn across the floor, the mirror completely broken beyond repair. His posters were torn down, some into multiple pieces, and his stereo looked like someone had taken a bat to it. It hurt like a son of a bitch to see the few things he valued utterly destroyed, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it.  He needed to pack the essentials and leave, in case Neil got back early.

All of his clothing, jewelry, and hair products fit in the single bag he brought with him. He didn’t own much, especially since he had to pay for it all. He shifted to the bathroom, grabbed his deodorant, toothbrush, and cologne off the counter and tossed those in too. He was about to leave when the lack of weight around his neck finally registered. He reached for his throat and found it bare. Panic welling in his chest almost immediately.  

Shit. Where was it?

He tried to remember the last time he had it. Did he lose it at the hospital? At Harrington’s? A look at the bloodied carpet had him flashing back to three days ago.

“Where is he boy?” Neil seethed and Billy’s response died on his tongue. “I saw his car Billy! Answer me God Dammit!”

“Gone. And you’ll never find him you sick fuck,” Billy didn’t know where the confidence came from, but was momentarily proud of himself for standing up to the bastard. At least until he felt teeth cracking in his skull from his father's powerful fist.

“She died because of you you know,” Neil spat, reaching towards the necklace Billy never went anywhere without and yanking until the clasp broke. “She knew what you were, and it made her sick. She’d rather die than live with the fact her son was a filthy faggot.”

Billy didn't want to believe that was true, he knew his mother loved him and had just lost the battle with mental illness, but it didn't make Neil’s words sting any less. Billy had let himself fall victim to the blackness of unconsciousness after that.  

Billy shuddered and shook his head, agony building up in his chest and threatening to suffocate him. Neil broke his necklace, but he didn’t remember seeing him take it. Maybe-

Billy scanned the carpet frantically. His eyes landed on something silver sticking out from under his bed. He reached for it immediately, the pressure in his chest defusing when he saw it was his necklace. The clasp had broken off, but he could fix that. At least he had it. He tucked the pendant into his front jeans pocket for safekeeping before grabbing his trash bag and making for the window, intent on never looking back.

The clean up and patching of the wall took longer than Steve wanted and he was, in fact, late picking Dustin up for school. He knew with one look he’d never hear the end of it. The disapproving look on the 13 year old's face was strong.  

“Steve! What the hell ma- Whoa. What happened to you?”

Steve raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean?”

“Dude. You look like shit. What happened?”

Steve tilted his mirror at himself and yikes, he did look like shit. His eyelids were puffy and the bags under his eyes were so dark they looked like bruises. His face was pale too, and his hair lacked its usual shine and body since he didn’t have enough time to properly style it this morning. He could already hear Nancy’s worried and disapproving tone.

“Nothing man, just a long weekend,” he lied, hoping that was enough satisfy Dustin.


They pulled up to the school just in time for the first bell to ring and Steve rushed Dustin out the door before he could say another word. He really wasn’t in the mood to be scolded by Ms. Henderson for making her boy late to first period.

He was just about to pull out of the parking lot when he saw a flash of red/orange in his rear-view.


Steve turned around to see Max, tapping on his rear window. He popped the car in park and rolled his window down for the girl.

“Max? Hey. Shouldn’t you be inside? The bell just rang.”

“Have you seen Billy?” She asked, a panicked edge to her voice. That’s right, Billy was in the hospital all weekend and Max had been visiting her uncle. Steve wasn’t sure if he should lie to protect Billy or tell the truth to relieve Max. He bit his lip before deciding on the latter.

“Yeah, he uh, he stayed at my place last night.”

She gave him a funny look but didn’t press on that issue, focusing on the one that actually mattered.

“But he’s ok?”

Steve bit his lip again. Shit.

“Yeah Max, he’s fine. He just wanted to come over and eat pizza and drink beer.” Steve wasn’t technically lying, but he wasn’t telling the truth either. But he didn’t think Max needed to know the motives behind why Billy was there.

“Steve, you’re a horrible liar,” she shot back and Steve was about to argue before he was interrupted.

“Listen, I know. I know what Neil does to Billy. I’m not stupid. My mom might be, but I’m not. So please, don’t lie to me because you think I’m just some stupid kid or you think you need to protect me. Is my brother okay?”

Steve sighed, pushing the falling strands of his bangs out of his eyes before leveling with her. He motioned for her to come closer so he could whisper.

“He’s- he’s pretty beat up, but he’s managing. I told him to stay at my place for a while, until he can figure things out.”

She seemed to relax at that and it was a little unsettling to Steve. There was so much going on in the Hargrove family that he just couldn’t quite comprehend. The biggest mystery being Max and Billy’s complicated relationship. They went from hating each other to having each others backs so quickly it gave Steve whiplash.

“Will you look out for him for me? I just- I worry about him. And I know that’s lame and stupid coming from a kid, but I do. He’s a dick, but he’s my brother.”

Steve and Max were interrupted by the warning bell and Max tossed her board on the concrete.

“Promise me?” She asked again and Steve nodded, he could do that, if not for Billy for Max.  

Billy drove until he reached Hawkins city limits, and then, just to be safe, drove another 15 miles after that. He didn’t need word of his job spreading to the whole town, or worse, to run into his dad or that fucking cop. If there was one thing he learned living on the street, it was how to cover his tracks.

He changed into something a little more flattering, strategically showing off his chest and abs but hiding the back parts of his bruised and battered rib cage. His jeans were tight, even tighter than usual, and his hair was just the right amount of messy. He looked damn good, considering how fucked his face and body were. Sex would suck, but the painkillers would numb the majority of it and alcohol would help him process the shame. He parked his car in a nice suburban neighborhood, where it was least likely to be stolen, and began his walk to the city.  

As he walked, he thought about last night, and the shitstorm that turned out to be. He could only remember bits and pieces, but he knew for sure he apologized to Harrington and disclosed how he made his money.

Selling his body didn’t seem like a big deal to Billy. He was good looking, in great shape, and could fend for himself enough that he didn’t see the real danger. In his opinion it was easy, tax free money. But rich snobs like Harrington looked down their nose at honest, hard working people like Billy. If you weren’t a CEO of a white collar yuppie job you didn’t amount to shit apparently. Just thinking about Harrington pissed him off. Stupid spoiled little rich boy.

He found a decently isolated looking alley and pulled out a cigarette, propping himself up against the brick as he waited for the businessmen of this town to go to lunch.


By 3 am, Billy made it back to his car, over $400 in his pocket. All in all not a bad night. He only had to fuck two guys and give another three hand jobs to get it. His body ached though, and he knew sleeping in a car wouldn’t help any, but he’d be damne if he was going back to Harrington’s tonight.

Steve didn’t see Billy at school all day, and when he didn't come back to his place that night, he got worried. He figured Billy was still mad, understandably so, but hoped he was at least not doing something stupid, like sleeping in his car. It was below freezing right now and Billy could fucking die if he was sleeping in the street. Steve let out an annoyed groan and grabbed his keys, this fucker was going to be the death of him.


Steve didn't make it home until after 4 am. He drove through the entire town and couldn’t find Billy anywhere. He debated checking outside city limits, but if he drove any longer his exhaustion would have won out and he would have wrapped his car around a tree. He prayed Billy showed up to school tomorrow. If only so he could give the man a piece of his mind and make him come back.

Billy used what he earned from the night before to buy breakfast at a shitty little diner in West Lafayette. If he was going to stand on a corner for 9 hours, he needed his strength. As he sipped at the diners pitiful excuse for ‘good coffee’ he thought about Harrington and what he was up to. He didn't want to, the guy was annoying as fuck, but he was also the only person besides his mom that seemed to actually give a shit, and he didn't like the way it made him feel.

Steve pushed through his classes on two hours of sleep, four cups of coffee, a lick and a prayer. He almost made it the entire day without passing out, but Mr. Morris’ monotone reading of Hamlet set him right over the edge. He slept until the end of day bell rang, effectively scaring him so bad he almost fell out of his chair.

Steve packed up his stuff quickly and beelined for his car. He planned on finding Billy tonight, no matter what it took.

Billy pulled his denim jacket around his body tighter. It was just after 5 pm and Billy’s thin, worn jacket did nothing to keep out the biting wind. He hoped someone picked him up soon, he needed to get out of this wind before he froze to death.

It seemed like his prayers were answered when a red BMW pulled alongside the curb. His teeth were chattering in his skull and his skin was covered in goosebumps but he fought through it as he sauntered to the car, leaning through the open window invitingly.

“Hey there, you looking for a good time?”

Steve had just about given up on his endeavor when he realized the likelihood of finding Billy by picking a city at random and driving down each street was. He was being stupid, and probably wasting his time. Billy could be en-route to California for all he knew. But something in his gut told him he wasn’t at least not yet.

Steve hung a left and drove down another street, deciding that if he didn't find Billy by 9, he probably wasn’t going to. It was a single lane city street and Steve huffed in annoyance when he noticed some asshole was stopped in the middle. When he got closer he noticed there was another person leaning into the car talking to the driver.

Steve put his hand over the horn, about to give the driver a piece of his mind when the person leaning in the car stepped back. Steve’s eyes about bugged out of his skull.

“Well I’ll be damned,”

The guy that pulled up on Billy’s corner was charming, and pretty. It wasn’t often Billy got a client he actually didn't mind sleeping with and turned up his own charm. If he could get this guy to go for a hundred dollar fuck, he could stay in a motel tonight instead of his car.

Headlights flashed behind them and Billy stood up straight, just in case it was a cop. The second car parked a small distance away from the pair and the driver stepped out. Billy’s heart leapt in his throat. Shit , he really didn't want to be arrested for solicitation.

Billy turned to face the person coming towards them, a lie already at the forefront of his mind when the person in question came into view. Bile rose in his throat and Billy wanted to punch something.

The driver of the red BMW peeled away as Steve approached and Billy wanted to scream.

“He’s not the fucking cops!” Billy shouted but the guy was long gone. Billy whipped around towards Steve and ran at him, shoving his hard enough to make the taller boy stumble.

“What the fuck Harrington!”

Steve was just barely able to catch himself before hitting his head on the cement. He figured Billy wouldn’t be too happy to see him, but the rage present in Billy’s eyes was downright terrifying. He held up his hands in surrender, but Billy was shouting again.

“Man this better be fucking good Harrington, you just cost me a place to sleep tonight.”

Steve pushed himself up off the ground and dusted dirt off his ass. “You already have a place to sleep,” he said as calmly as he could, he really didn't need the situation to escalate anymore than it already was.

Billy glared and turned to walk away, a “No thanks, I’d rather sleep on the street,” shouted over his shoulder.

“Billy come on,” Steve grabbed his arm before he could get too far and regretted it when he was shoved again.

“Get the fuck off me! Why can’t you just leave me alone!”

Now Steve was pissed. He had just about enough of this nonsense.

“Because I care about you you fucking dickhead, don't you get it!” He shouted back and Billy recoiled like he’d been struck.

“Yeah, right. Good one Harrington,” Billy scoffed, turning to walk away again.  

“I’m being serious asshole,” He sighed, and god damn was he exhausted. Billy fucking Hargrove zapped him of all of his emotional and physical energy.  

Billy turned back around but didn’t move closer. He looked like he was processing everything, checking over Steve’s face to see if he was lying. He looked almost angry at Steve’s admittance.

“Well, stow your feelings Harrington, I got a job to do.”

Steve laugh sounded more like a wheeze and he threw up his hands in exasperation.

“Alright, you wanna be like that? Fine,” Steve pulled out his wallet and pulled out two hundred dollar bills and pushing them in Billy’s hand.

Billy looked at the two hundred dollar bills with disgust. “I don't want your charity Harrington.”

“It’s not charity. I already tried that and it got me nowhere. So now I'm buying your services. You really gonna turn down $200?”

Billy looked between the money and Steve several times before speaking. “It’s gonna take a lot more than that if you want me to fuck you.”

Steve rolled his eyes. “I don’t want that man, I just want you to fucking talk to me!”

“Make it $300 and I’ll think about it,” Billy said.

Steve scoffed, almost deciding this wasn’t worth the trouble. But when he saw the way Billy shivered at the lightest breeze, he decided fuck it, not like he had any shortage of cash anyway.

“Fine, $300. Now get in the fucking car.”

Chapter Text

Steve was struggling to stay awake as he drove the pair back to Hawkins. They had at least an hour before they made it back into town and Steve didn’t think he could keep his eyes open for another 5 minutes. As another yawn slipped past his lips he made a decision, pulling into the parking lot of the first motel he saw.  He hoped to God it was at least semi clean.

Billy looked up from his lap at the parking lot they were pulling into, a confused state falling over him. Should they be heading back to Hawkins? When Steve put the car in park Billy straightened up in his seat.

So much for talking, Billy thought bitterly, adjusting his jacket and shirt to look more alluring. Steve did pay him after all. Whatever, Billy had slept with worse. It wasn’t like Steve was bad looking, it was just weird since they went to school together. Maybe the guy couldn’t get laid without needing to pay for it? Maybe his ego took a hit after that Wheeler bitch broke up with him.

He followed Steve into the lobby and waited awkwardly against the wall as Steve paid for the room. The clerk behind the desk was giving him a look, one that Billy had seen one too many times before.

He scoffed and pushed himself off the wall, deciding to wait for Steve outside. At least then he could use smoking as an excuse to leave the lobby.

Steve came out half a cigarette later, motel key in hand, nodding for Billy to follow him.


Steve rubbed his eyes hard as he tried to focus on lining the key up to the lock. Now that the adrenaline spike for finding Billy had worn off, he felt like he was about to collapse on his feet. He just needed an hour to nap, two tops. Then he’d drive them both to his place and they could actually talk.

Billy went inside first, pushing past Steve roughly but he was too damn tired to care.

Steve followed behind and shut the door, reaching for the deadbolt before he was yanked from behind and spun around.

Steve barely had time to respond before Billy was on him, grabbing the back of his neck tight and forcing their lips together in a rough kiss. It was messy and rushed, and fucking hot. All teeth and tongues and Steve couldn’t help but moan into Billy’s mouth.

Billy was everywhere and it made Steve’s already less than functionary brain short circuit. The man had hands like a damn octopus, grabbing and touching nearly everywhere at the same time. He reflexively reached for Billy’s shoulders and realized Billy’s shirt was already off, and when the hell had that happened?

Steve felt Billy’s fingers slip under his t-shirt and slide upwards at the same time Billy’s thigh slid between his and slotted their hips together. Billy was hard, fuck he could feel it through his jeans. Steve gasped as Billy pulled them closer together, rocking his hips as they kissed.

There was a huge part of Steve that just wanted to say fuck it, and give in. Let Billy keep going until Steve was a moaning, mewling mess beneath him, but he knew better. He knew he had to stop this already spiraling situation, before they crossed into the point of no return.

“Wait,” He panted, pulling back from the kiss with dismay, “Wait wait Billy, hang on, stop a second.”

“What’s wrong?” Billy asked, pupils blown wide and lips red and puffy from their kissing.  And for a second, even Steve couldn’t remember the answer to that.

“What- what are you, what are we doing?”

Billy looked at Steve like he was an idiot.

“You paid for me, remember? I’m just trying to make sure you get your money's worth.”

Well shit.

Steve let out a frustrated groan, running his hand down his face before prying himself from Billy’s hands.

“I paid you because it was the only way you’d talk to me. I didn’t want- you know, that.”

Billy didn’t look convinced.

“Uh huh. Then why are we here Harrington?” He motioned to the motel room and Steve finally understood what it must have looked like to Billy.

“Oh shit. I can explain, I didn’t mean-”

“What, you not into me all of a sudden?” Billy scoffed, and there was real hurt there underneath the anger. 

“No! That’s not it- it-!” Steve tried, dragging his hands through his hair. His brain couldn’t keep up with everything that was happening. He just needed two seconds to process.

“Well when you figure out what the hell's going on with you, give me a call. Otherwise I’m out of here.”

Billy moved to grab his jacket on the floor and headed for the door, Steve grabbed his wrist before he could get too far.

“Don’t go, please? Just, give me a second to think.”

Billy rolled his eyes. “It’s not that hard Harrington. You either want to fuck me or you don’t. It ain’t rocket science.”

Steve sighed and let his arm drop. He sat back on the bed and buried his head in his hands. It was throbbing. Running on no sleep plus the stress of whatever the hell this was was frying his brain.

He looked up at Billy and frowned. Dude looked like he was going to bolt any second. Steve patted the spot next to him patiently, hoping Billy would at least relax a little bit.

When Billy sat down, Steve let out the breath he had been holding.

“I like you, you know that already. I don’t think that was ever a real question. I’m just trying to process everything, and it’s incredibly hard on no sleep.”

“You haven’t slept?” Billy asked and Steve shook his head.

“No man, I’ve been worried sick about you.”

Billy looked down at his hands guiltily, and Steve wanted to scream. Why was this so difficult?

“You took off, and I mean I get why. But we needed to talk. Like actually talk, not get drunk and scream at each other. When you didn’t come back or show up to school, I got worried. I figured you’d be en-route to California by now.”

“Need money for food and gas pretty boy,” he said quietly, the shame evident in his tone. Steve’s own words echoed back in his head and guilt rose in his chest. Had he caused this?

“I know what this looks like, but I swear I just wanted to talk. I thought I’d be able to make it to Hawkins but I haven’t slept in over 19 hours. If I drove any longer we would of wound up around a telephone pole or in a ditch somewhere.”

Billy nodded but didn’t say anything else, so Steve continued.

“I do want this, you know. You, us,  whatever. But if you don’t, just tell me and I’ll fuck off.”

Billy laughed and Steve’s eyes snapped up in response.

“You think the only reason I kissed you was because you paid me?”

Steve’s mouth opened but no words came out. Billy laughed again.

“I mean sure, if you wanted nothing to do with me after this I would have said that, but no. Why do you think I fuck with you so much?”

Steve raised an eyebrow, “Are you trying to tell me that you being a dick is your way of flirting with me?”

Billy shrugged, “Had to get your attention somehow.”

Steve erupted in laughter, wiping his eye when a few tears escaped. Who the fuck was this guy?

“You’re absolutely ridiculous Hargrove,” he laughed, stifling a yawn that caught him by surprise.

“Looks like you’re all but tapped out Harrington. Come on, let’s get you into bed.”

Any other day, Steve would have fought just a little more, if only to get under Billy’s skin, but he just didn’t have the energy right now.

“Wake me in an hour?” Steve yawned, not even bothering to get under the covers. He was asleep before he got a response from Billy.


Steve was out before Billy could say another word. Damn, the guy really must have been tired. He couldn’t help but smirk at how cute Steve was when he slept, all long limbs and sharp angles sprawled out over the entire bed.

“Guess I’m not napping,” Billy chuckled.

He stretched until his back popped, groaning when the action aggravated his ribs. He forgot about them to be honest, the pain killers were doing their job. He dug through his jacket and found the small orange bottle, shaking it with a frown. He’d have to hit a pharmacy soon, he was down to his last two pills.

He swallowed them dry and padded towards the bathroom for a shower. He desperately needed it, he smelled like sweat, sex, and shame.

Billy was trying to untangle another nest in his hair when he heard the shout. It was a little startling, since he had been accustomed to the silence for over an hour. When it happened again, accompanied by the toppling of furniture, Billy yanked the bathroom door open.


Billy blinked a few times, adjusting to the light difference as he looked at the figure on the bed. He leaned over to turn on the desk lamp and repeated Steve’s name.

Steve was sitting upright in bed, eyes wide and unseeing. He didn’t even blink, just stared forward at something Billy couldn’t see. His lips were twisted in a haunted sneer.

“Steve? Hey can you hear me?” He asked again, careful to avoid the side table and phone that had been knocked over.

Steve’s body was covered in a mild sweat, the edges of his hair plastered to his damp face. His hands were positioned like they were holding something and trembling slightly.

Steve was having a nightmare, or a panic attack, or both, Billy honestly didn’t know which. He just knew he had to snap him out of it, and fast.

He crossed the room quickly, gripping Steve’s shoulders firmly before shaking him, shouting his name louder than before.

Before Billy knew what was happening, he was flipped on his back, nails biting into his biceps and a very hostile, panting Harrington above him.

“...Hargrove?” Steve asked, blinking in confusion.

“Y-Yeah Harrington. It’s me. Mind getting off me?” He panted, his brain trying to catch up with what just happened. One second his feet were flat on the floor as he tried to help a friend and the next he was being pinned to a mattress.

“Shit, yeah, sorry.”

Billy took a minute to steady his own breathing before checking on Steve. The sudden rough action brought back memories of Neil, and if he didn’t get control of his breathing he’d have a panic attack.

When he felt like he could speak without stuttering, he turned to Steve who looked equal parts embarrassed and horrified.

“Hey man, it’s ok. You’re safe. I know I’m not your companion of choice but, wherever you were just now, it’s not real. This, us right here, that’s real.”

Steve tried to nod, but a shiver interrupted him.

Why was it cold in here? Was there a window open? The upside down was cold. It was so fucking cold down in those tunnels. Shit shit shit.

Steve twitched when he felt something on his shoulders, it took him a moment to realize it was Billy’s jean jacket.

“I’m sorry, it’s not much. Just try to focus on your breathing ok? Do you want to hang onto me or something? Sometimes it helps anchor you to reality to touch something alive.”

Billy had offered under the assumption Steve would take his forearm, his bicep, or even his shoulder. But no, what does that fucker grab? His hand, like a goddamn teenage girl. Even threaded their fingers together. Billy would have to give him shit for it later, but not now. Now he just let it happen and pretended his heart didn’t flutter uncomfortably in his chest because of it.

Steve finally came back to reality half an hour later, his eyes refocusing on the room itself instead of one lone spot. He realized with a blush Billy’s jacket was around his shoulders, and their fingers were threaded together. He wanted to pull away, to preserve some of his dignity, but after all the events that happened in just under two hours, he didn’t think he had any left. He kept their hands together a little longer, squeezing gently before pulling away to signal he was back.

“How you feeling? Do you want water or anything?” Billy offered and Steve noticed how dry his throat was. He didn’t even think he could speak without his voice cracking. He nodded.

Billy filled up a glass with the tap and Steve drank the whole thing in two big gulps.


Steve nodded again.

Billy returned with another full glass, “Try and sip this one yeah?”

Steve did. Everything Billy had suggested thus far had kept him relatively stable. He sure as hell wasn't going to stop listening now.

“Did you want to talk about it?” Billy asked and Steve shook his head.

No. This was something he wanted to take to the fucking grave. Even if he could talk about it, he wouldn’t chance it. Those people at the lab were dangerous, and they scared Steve worse than the demodogs.

“Are you feeling better?” And Steve finally spoke with real words as opposed to non verbal cues.

“A lot actually. Thank you, how did you know-" what to do?

“Look who you’re talking to,” Billy chuckled, pulling a loose curl out of his eyes.

Steve smiled. He was really lucky Billy had been around to take care of him. Nightmares usually got the best of him these days.

“So,” Billy cleared his throat, pulling Steve out of his thoughts, “you good to drive Princess or do you need more beauty sleep?”

Steve snorted. And just like that, the old Billy was back, but Steve didn’t think he’d want it any other way.

Chapter Text

A week after the whole ‘Billy running away to Lafayette’ fiasco, Steve could safely say things were slowly returning to normal. Well, as normal as they could be for two teenagers with more emotional baggage than a white trash family on tabloid television.

They hadn’t explicitly talked about what happened between them in the motel room, but that was ok with Steve. He really didn’t want to relive the events of the nightmare that led to the comfort. He could just accept what they had, even if it was moving at a slower than snail pace.

While Steve didn’t think their relationship had developed to exclusive status by any means, he noticed Billy’s possessiveness radiate off him in waves wherever a cute guy or even a cute girl looked at Steve for more than a second. Steve would be lying if he said it didn’t make him feel good. It made him feel wanted , and after all that bullshit with Nancy, his ego fucking needed it.

Billy had opened up to Steve a bit more since that night. Enough that Steve had learned Billy’s mother passed away when he was young and that it had fucked him up more than it probably should. She was a recurring character in Billy’s nightmares and he carried more guilt for her death than any one person should.

In return, Steve explained the situation with his own parents, or lack of one since their presence was about as frequent as a birthday. He blamed his father for their recurring absence. John Harrington couldn’t go to a simple business conference without fucking every woman in the room, forcing his mother to tag along as supervisor.

Billy, once again, was the one giving Steve comfort, pulling Steve to his chest and kissing his temple, promising they’d be nothing like their parents.

Steve was working on his calculus homework at the kitchen table when the doorbell rang. He didn’t know who it could be, it wasn’t like he really had many friends and Billy was smoking out back. Plus it was Tuesday, Jonathan and Nancy went to the movies every Tuesday.

The doorbell rang again, and again until it was ringing frantically.

“Jesus, I’m coming! Chill out,” Steve shouted, crossing the room quickly and pulling the door open.


She didn’t say anything, just kicked at the trim of his front door. Something was wrong, very wrong.  

“Max?” He asked again, quieter this time. When she finally looked up at him, his heart broke. She had been crying, if her swollen eyes and blotchy cheeks indicate anything. Steve also noticed a long cut across her left cheekbone, almost like she’d gotten into a fight. Steve prayed to God it wasn’t from Neil. Billy would lose his shit, and Steve didn’t think he’d be able to hold himself back either.

Billy was by his side instantly and Steve jumped, not hearing him come back inside.

“Max? What are you-”

Steve watched Billy’s face harden as realization dawned.

“What the hell happened Max,” He demanded gruffly.

She sniffed and looked behind her, setting her board against the door before rubbing her arm.

“C-Can I come in?”

“Yeah, yeah of course,” Steve answered, letting her through and locking the deadbolt behind her.

Steve didn’t like the way his hair stood up when she looked around. Like someone or something had followed her. He shook off the bad feeling and turned to see the two Hargrove’s on the couch, speaking to each other quietly, almost like they didn’t want Steve to hear. He hovered behind the couch awkwardly, as if waiting permission to sit. To be fair, it really wasn’t any of Steve’s business, they had every right to make him leave, but he wanted to help nonetheless.

“You can sit Steve,” Billy motioned for him to move closer but kept his attention on Max when he spoke. She looked like she was going to cry again and Steve was filled with a protective rage he hadn’t felt since he led The Party through the tunnels.

Max fiddled with her sleeves in silence, lifting her hand only to touch the broken skin on her cheek. Billy gently took her hand and pulled it away, lifting her chin so she’d look at him.

“Hey, talk to me,” he prodded gently, and Steve stared in shock. He didn’t think he’d ever heard Billy talk so softly.

She pulled her chin from his hand and returned her gaze down, reaching for Billy’s hand and squeezing it tight. Finally she mumbled out a single word, just barely loud enough to be heard by the two older boys.


Steve watched as Billy’s back straightened and his face twisted into a sneer of disgust.

“What did that piece of shit do,” he spat, and Max wilted even further.

“He saw me with Lucas,” she whispered, tears falling from her eyes again. “We weren’t doing anything! We were just talking! He might have held my hand, I-I don’t remember…”

Steve remembered what Billy confessed about his ex, and Neil’s racist demeanor. It wouldn’t take much to set that bastard over the edge.

“Mom’s been working nights so Neil’s been picking me up from school. He saw us and- He got out of the car and dragged me away! We weren’t even out of the parking lot when he-“ she was interrupted by a sob that bubbles up to the surface. She grabbed her face reflexively and cried.

Billy was off the couch so fast Steve got whiplash.

“I’LL FUCKING KILL HIM!” he shouted, crossing the room and yanking the front door open, it swung against the adjoining wall with a smack. Max and Steve exchanged looks of surprise but Billy was out the door before either of them could protest.

Steve insisted Max stay at his place while Billy was out. He had a feeling things would get ugly fast and Max didn’t need to be around for that. To witness that side of Neil or Billy.

While Billy was gone, Steve called Hopper to update him on what happened to Max. Hopper was pissed to say the least, probably as much as Billy, and swore to handle it. Neil wouldn’t be staying home tonight, that was for sure.

In an effort to restore some normalcy for Max, Steve ordered pizza and put in a funny movie. The pair were munching on sausage pizza watching Ghostbusters on Steve’s plasma screen when Billy came home an hour or so later.

Steve frowned when he saw Billy. He looked like hell. He stumbled through the doorway with a gash across his cheek that matched Max’s, a split and bloodied lip, and a gait in his walk that signaled the fight was anything but fair. He didn’t say a word to either of them, just grabbed a beer from the fridge before planting himself between them and snagging a slice of pizza.

Hopper stopped by the next morning, his gaze hardening when he saw the matching cheekbone bruises the siblings shared. He collected statements from both of them while Steve made pancakes and coffee.

Hopper explained he had arrested Neil last night shortly after Billy came home. Susan had tried to post bail, but since this was Neil’s second arrest for domestic violence and child abuse, Hopper was able to keep him at least through the end of the week. Maybe longer if he could convince one or two of the siblings to file a restraining order.

Billy was still hesitant, claiming it would only make things worse for him. But Max agreed almost instantly, wanting nothing more to do with the bastard.

The older men stiffened at her use of language, but didn’t disagree. Hopper left to file the necessary paperwork, promising this was the last time Neil would touch either of them.

After their talk with Hopper, Steve insisted Max stay for a few days, until things cooled off at home. Billy offered to swing by the house to grab her some clothes, and in the meantime Steve offered to cook dinner.

“I didn’t know you could cook,” Max said, breaking Steve from his thoughts.

Steve looked up from the pasta sauce he was stirring and frowned. She was hovering in the hallway, almost like she wasn’t sure she was allowed to come closer. He wondered if that was the case at home with Neil around.

“I’m home alone alot,” Steve shrugged, “gotta eat something other than pizza all the time.”

She scoffed. “I don’t know why you would, pizza’s the best.”

That made Steve laugh.

“Well you’re not wrong, but I can’t handle the calories like I used to. Wanna help? I still have to get the garlic bread ready.”

“There’s garlic bread?” She brightened, finally breaking past the threshold to Steve’s side.

“Yup, lots of it too. Here’s a bread knife, can you cut that into slices?” He pointed at a thick loaf of Italian bread with his sauce spoon.  

Her mood seemed to lighten as she worked on cutting the bread into perfectly sized portions. Steve assumed the distraction helped her forget the last 24 hours. Billy was like that too, and it amazed Steve how similar the two were since they shared no blood relation.

It was comfortably quiet in the kitchen, lest for some quiet music playing in the living room. Steve had gotten into The Clash lately, thanks Jonathan, and sang along quietly as ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ came on.

Max laughed as the song started and Steve raised a questioning eyebrow.


“Nothing,” Max smiled, finishing off the last of the loaf, “Will just really likes this song.”

“Makes sense, this is one of Jonathan’s favorite bands. How’s he doing by the way, Will?”

“He’s okay,” Max shrugged, finding the butter and garlic in the fridge, “He still gets nightmares but I think that’s normal. When he wants to, we talk about it, but for the most part we just pretend nothing happened.”

Steve nodded in agreement. That’s how Billy seemed to deal with things, ignored them until they went away. Though the way Billy did it it didn't seem healthy. He buried things down until he exploded, physically or emotionally.

“So,” Max said suddenly, “you and my brother are screwing huh?”

Steve hissed as he burnt his tongue on the sauce he was taste-testing in shock.

“What! N-No!” He lied, flushing dark.  

Max just rolled her eyes.

“I’m a kid but I’m not stupid Steve. Besides, it’s obvious you like each other.”

“How is it obvious!”

Before Steve could get his answer, the front door opened, a loud “Honey I’m home,” echoing through the hallway.

Max’s smile widened and Steve pushed her gently, the blush on his cheeks even redder now.

“Shut the hell up Max.”

Dinner passed by in a mostly comfortable silence. Small talk was made, mostly about how classes were going for Max.

Easy, safe topics, normal.

Billy helped Steve with the dishes after, shooing Max upstairs when she tried to get out of doing her homework. She rolled her eyes and scoffed but went nonetheless, claiming the second guest room as her own.

“She’s such a brat,” Steve laughed after the whole exchange, drying his hands on a dishtowel.

“Must run in the family,” Billy smirked and Steve chuckled, nodding in agreement.

“Hey, I uh I just wanted to say thanks,” Billy started, moving up behind him until he had Steve trapped against the sink, “For letting Max crash here I mean.”

Steve swallowed as Billy touched him, dropped the towel he was holding.

“O-Of course,” He stuttered, squeaking when Billy turned him to face him.

Billy reached up and tucked a loose strand of hair behind Steve’s ear. Smiling before letting his hand rest on Steve’s hip.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get you wrapped up in all our family shit.”

Steve shivered again. Billy’s fingers were so warm, and it had been a long time since he’d been touched like this.

“I-It’s ok, honestly. I just wish there was more I could be doing.”

“More?” Billy asked, rubbing Steve’s hipbone with his thumb, “Pretty boy, you’ve already done more than anyone else ever has.”

Steve swallowed hard, it was difficult to concentrate when Billy was this close. When Billy was touching him.

“I just offered you a place to stay, I mean that’s hardly enough-”

Steve risked a glance up and swallowed hard. Billy’s eyes were blazing with an intensity Steve couldn’t place. Steve’s gut knotted and whatever he was going to say died on his tongue. Billy’s gaze flickered down to his lips before licking his own, in that same animalistic way he always did that drove Steve absolutely wild.

Steve looked down to Billy’s lips, desire to taste them again raging in his gut. Maybe Billy would let him kiss him again...

Steve didn’t have to wonder long because Billy was initiating the kiss now, pressing their lips together gently, unlike their rough first kiss in the motel room. Steve hadn’t been kissed like this in a long time, at least since Nancy, and felt his body responding to it eagerly.

Billy deepened the kiss and Steve moaned the second their tongues touched. He tasted like beer and cigarettes and Steve loved it. Billy reached up to tangle his fingers in Steve’s hair, smirking when the rough action had the taller man gasping.

“Maybe we should take this upstairs huh?” He suggested.

Steve blinked dazeily and took in his surroundings.

Oh yeah, they were still in the kitchen. Max could walk back in at any time.

“My room?” Steve offered and Billy winked, letting his hand drop from Steve’s hair to his crotch, squeezing teasingly before turning to lead the way.


The second Steve closed the door to his bedroom Billy was on him. Billy’s lips were hot and soft against his own, he could taste the smoke on his tongue and swallowed it down eagerly. He let out a deep moan. He didn’t think he’d ever get tired of Billy’s taste.

“Gotta be quieter pretty boy, my little sisters in the next room,” Billy teased and Steve wanted to scream. He already forgot Max was here. He wanted to be loud, wanted Billy to know just how hot he made him. He’d have to save that for another day he supposed.

“Or you could just gag me,” he offered suddenly and Billy pulled back and raised an eyebrow.

“Aren’t you just full of surprises Harrington?”

Steve just shrugged, “Get used to it.”

Billy chuckled and pulled him close again, kissing him hard and deep. Steve moaned, quieter this time and dug his fingers into Billy’s hips, needing to grip something for purchase.

“Eager Princess?” Billy purred and Steve nodded, burying his face in Billy’s neck.

“You ever done this before? With a guy I mean,” Billy asked and Steve blushed.


Billy sighed under his breath and Steve tensed. Shit. Did he already mess up? Shit shit.

“Hey, get out of your head Steve,” Billy whispered firmly, pulling Steve back to meet his eyes. “Just means I can’t fuck you yet. You’re not ready. But we can do other things ok?”

Steve relaxed a little, that made sense. As bad as he wanted to fuck Billy, he didn’t think he was ready for that either. He knew in theory how it worked, and it sounded painful. He wasn’t opposed to working up to it.

“Get on the bed for me?” Billy instructed with a gentle nudge and Steve did, laying across his bed a little awkwardly.

He’d never been on this end of things. Since he’d only been with girls, he was used to Billy’s role. It was a little intimidating to be on this end. Was this what it felt like to Nancy?

“You’re in your head again Pretty Boy,” Billy hummed into his ear and holy shit when did he get here?

“S-Sorry,” Steve reddened, glad the lights were off so Billy wouldn’t see his blush.

“Hey, you know we can stop right? At any time,” Billy said seriously.

“I know, but I want this.” He smiled, trying to play it cool even if he was absolutely terrified.

Billy smirked and leaned close, latching his mouth over Steve’s pulse point and sucking lightly.

Steve shivered in pleasure and let out a gasp, his hand raising immediately to tangle in Billy’s hair. It was fucking soft. He wasn’t sure why, but he assumed it would be crunchy or oily with all the product he used. Whatever he used made his hair feel light and smelled really fucking good.

Billy’s light sucks suddenly turned to sharp nips and it had Steve squirming, whining high in his throat.

“Feel good?” Billy chuckled and Steve nodded, gripping Billy’s hip with his free hand. He was hard, almost painfully so now and Billy had barely touched him. He knew if Billy kept sucking on his neck there’d be a hickey and he really wasn’t looking forward to explaining that to anyone. But he couldn’t find it in him to ask Billy to stop. It felt too fucking good.

“Can I touch you Steve?” Billy asked and it took Steve a second to realize he was being spoken to. The blood pounding in his ears had muffled the sound.

“Please,” Steve begged, arching hard when Billy’s warm hand slid under the hem of his jeans.

“So eager for me baby,” he purred and Steve bit his lip at the use of a pet name. He liked the way it sounded coming out of Billy’s mouth.

He felt strong confident hands pulling at his jeans, popping open the button and pulling down the zipper in a single swift motion. Billy’s hands, much like the rest of his body, were fucking hot, even through his underwear. His Calvin’s came next, pulled down with his jeans quickly. When Billy’s hands returned to Steve’s hips, he reflexively arched into the warmth. Those lips returned to his, kissing Steve for all he was worth before wrapping a hand around his cock tight.

Steve bucked and whined into the new sensation, realizing now Billy’s strategic move to muffle his shouts with a kiss. Goddamn the guy was good.

Billy eased his grip on the upstroke, returning to a firm hold when he reached the base. Steve wanted to scream. Girls hands were nothing compared to Billy’s. Steve wasn’t generally a fan of hand jobs, but Jesus Christ Billy’s hand was better than any he’d ever felt. And just when he thought it couldn’t get any better, there was a hot tongue running over the tip and dipping into the slit.

“Fucking Christ!”

Steve was panting, gripping the sheets for purchase as pleasure rocketed through his body. He was trembling now, so close to the edge and Billy had just started. It was almost embarrassing, but he didn't care as long as Billy kept going.

Quiet Steve,” he threatened again and Steve smirked.

“Make me,” he challenged, instantly regretting it when Billy’s was standing, a wicked smile on his face. Steve swallowed hard. Billy undid his belt quickly and soon Steve was tasting warm leather on his tongue.

“Bite on this Steve, I’ll bring you something better next time.”

Next time? Steve would have to survive through this time first.

Steve held the belt between his teeth and let his head fall back on his mattress, focusing on steadying his breathing.

Billy was back between his legs, spreading them apart and pulling one of them over his shoulder. The kisses up his inner thigh were torture, hot and teasing and so close but not close enough to where Steve wanted them. He knew the blonde was doing it on purpose and it infuriated him. He whined impatiently around the gag, rocking his hips up towards the ceiling.

“And people call me a slut,” Billy teased, leaning forward and finally finally wrapping his lips around Steve’s cockhead again. Steve’s eyes rolled into his skull and he bit down hard on the belt.

Billy had Steve sucked down to the base, and Steve didn’t know if he was more intimidated or turned on. It was a strong combination of both. No one had ever taken him completely before, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. Steve’s cock was long, a solid 8 and a half inches, which Billy had currently buried completely in his throat. Steve bit on the belt harder, trying in vain to stave off his orgasm. He didn’t think it would help though, if Billy kept sucking like that.

Steve whined around the belt again and Billy sucked harder, gripping the thigh currently over his shoulder hard as he did so. Steve felt Billy’s hand searching for his and took it, only for it to be moved to Billy’s hair.

“Fuck,” Steve moaned around the gag, Billy was giving him permission to fuck his mouth.

Steve rocked his hips up gently and Billy sucked harder, gripping Steve’s hand in his hair and wordlessly telling him to do the same. Steve pulled on Billy’s hair and he moaned, Steve nearly screamed as the vibrations reverberated through his whole body. It wouldn’t be long now, Billy’s moans around his cock paired with Billy’s tight, hot throat were driving Steve over the edge. Steve gripped Billy’s shoulder in warning but it wasn’t quick enough. With a muffled shout and a sharp jerk of his hips Steve came, and Billy swallowed down every drop.

“Fuck,” Steve yanked the belt from his mouth and sucked in lungfuls of air, basking in the bliss of a mind blowing orgasm. He knew he should probably reciprocate, it was only fair. Steve lifted his head to offer Billy a hand but the words died on his tongue.

Billy had his jeans around his ankles and his cock in his hand, pumping fast. If Steve hadn’t already just come, he probably would have again once he got a look at Billy. The man looked absolutely wrecked. His lips, covered in spit and come, were twisted in a look of unbridled pleasure. His hand was moving fast, twisting and pulling with expert skill. Steve couldn’t look away. When Billy came, he let out a deep groan, painting his own chest as well as Steve’s stomach with it.

Fuck,” Steve whispered and Billy’s eyes opened, a wide smirk spreading across his features.

“Enjoy the show?” He asked and Steve nodded. Of course he did, Billy always looked good, especially now. He looked like a fucking porn star.  

Billy moved Steve’s leg and flopped onto his back with a pleased sigh. He scooted close and lay his head on Steve’s chest, gripping his knee for support.

“Cool with you if I crash in here tonight?” Billy asked and Steve hummed in agreement, running his fingers through Billy’s messy curls.

“Good, don’t really wanna move right now.”

Steve laughed and agreed with that. He didn’t really want to move either.

Chapter Text

Steve was pulled awake by the smell of fresh coffee and something burning. He bolted upright out of bed.

“Whoa, slow down there pretty boy,” A voice eased, followed by a gentle touch to his shoulder. Steve blinked a few times before his eyes adjusted to the dark and the figure came into focus. It was Billy.

“Billy? I-Is something burning?”

“Oh, yeah that was me,” he chuckled guiltily and Steve couldn’t tell in the light if he was blushing or not. “Turns out the only breakfast I can make is coffee. Don’t worry, I didn’t singe the wallpaper in the kitchen too bad.”

Steve’s eyes about bugged out of his head and it made Billy cackle.

“Jesus! I was kidding Steve!” He laughed, leaning down and surprising Steve with a soft kiss. His hands were filled with something warm and Steve smiled when he realized it was coffee.

“Drink your coffee, then come help me make Max breakfast. She’s refusing to eat until you’re directly involved.”

Steve smirked at that. Yeah, that sounded like Max.

“Alright let me put on some clothes then I’ll come down. Thanks for the coffee.”

“Sure thing babe!” Billy shouted casually over his shoulder and Steve blushed hard at the pet name.

Fucking Billy.

When Steve finally emerged from the bedroom, he was smiling ear to ear. Billy and he had only been a ‘thing’ for a little over a week now but he couldn’t remember a time he felt happier. Sure it was a rocky start for the both of them, with the whole Billy bashing his face in and all, but that was before. Billy had apologized, and made numerous efforts to change the things about himself that made Steve hate him in the first place. Things were, well not good, but better.

Billy had also make significant efforts to mend his relationship with Max, offering her the comfort and support she needed after what happened with Neil. Steve couldn’t help but wonder what their relationship was like before Hawkins, if things only really got bad between them once they moved here. He had some indication why the relationship was strained, he could only imagine what Billy had to go through in those months after Neil caught him with Sam. It would turn anyone into a monster.

When Steve reached the bottom of the stairs, he saw Max sitting at the kitchen table, scribbling out something in frustration and Billy over her shoulder.

“Goddamnit! I hate math!” She shouted and Steve chuckled at her use of language. Yeah, that was how he felt about math too .

“Hey, chill out. Look, it’s not too bad. See this? You’re always solving for this ok? So it needs to be put on the right. But it’s paired with a number right now right? So to move it you have to…”

“Divide it?” She answered hesitantly and Billy’s face split into a huge grin.

“Exactly shitbird,” he ruffled her hair and she sent him a glare, taking her pencil back and finishing her math problem.

“You’re good at math?” Steve asked, finally making his presence known.

“I’m good at a lot of things pretty boy,” Billy winked and Max rolled her eyes, muttering a ‘gross’ under her breath before slapping her notebook closed.

“Ok, my homework is done, can I go to the arcade now? Please!” She whined at Billy and Billy made a show of thinking about it, just to irritate her more.

“I don't know Max, that’s all the way into town…”

“Oh my god Billy don’t be a dick! You promised!” She huffed and Billy burst out laughing, throwing his hands up in surrender.

“Alright, alright. But breakfast first.”

She seemed appeased by that compromise and sat back down, finally acknowledging Steve.

“Can we have waffles?” She asked and Steve laughed. Now she sounded like Hopper's daughter.

“Yeah kid, just let me find some mix ok? You wanna grab me the waffle iron? Should be in the cabinet to the left of the sink.”

As the two went to work, Billy hovered in the kitchen awkwardly, hands stuffed in his pockets unsure of how to help. He wanted to ask, but he was afraid he’d just be in the way. Or burn something like he did before. He really was useless when it came to cooking.

“Billy?” Steve asked and he turned around quickly, meeting the taller man’s eyes.

“Wanna set the table?” He offered, and Billy nodded. At least it was something to do.

Breakfast was relatively quiet, Max eating at lightning speed, probably so she could leave, and Billy eating slow just to get under her skin. Steve watched the exchange with a smirk.

“So, Steve will you take me to the arcade?” She asked, since Billy was still eating.

“I can take you kid, chill out, your little nerds aren’t going anywhere.” He laughed but Steve could see her tense.

“I mean, y-you don’t have to Billy. I’m sure Steve-“

Steve noticed Billy’s face harden and tensed. Shit.

“What the hell's going on Max? Why don’t you want me to take you now?”

Max’s eyes dropped to her food and Steve’s gut twisted. They were going to fight again, he could tell.

“Well, Lucas is going to be there,” she whispered and Steve watched as Billy’s face dropped, his frown twisting into one of self-hatred. And Steve frowned because knew why, he knew the internal battle that was going on in Billy’s head.

He expected Billy to fight, to shout that he wasn’t like Neil, to at least try, but he didn’t. Instead he just nodded and muttered out an ‘ok’ before excusing himself from the table.

The two watched him leave in silence.

Max was quiet the entire drive, Steve was sure she was beating herself up about what happened in the kitchen. He also understood her hesitation however. Billy had apologized to Steve for his actions, but not Max, and certainly not Lucas. The last big interaction they had with each other was the night at the Byers.

She also didn’t know the backstory Steve knew. All she had to go on was that night and whatever conversations they had preceding. Max had to protect Lucas, especially after what just happened with Neil. Steve could understand that. But he also couldn't let Billy unnecessarily suffer in silence, not when he was trying so damn hard.

“He’s not really like that you know,” he couldn’t help saying, gaining Max’s undivided attention, “he’s not like Neil.”

“I know,” she sighed, fidgeting with the edges of her sleeves, “I shouldn’t have said that.”

“I’m sure you had your reasons, but there’s more to Billy than you think. I’m not- excusing what he did. It was fucked up, and he should definitely apologize for it. I guess I’m saying is, he’s trying, to make things better. To  be  better. Give him time, he’ll- he’ll get there.”

She nodded in the passenger seat and Steve could swear he saw a tear fall. Guilt wracked his body at that. He didn’t mean to make her cry.

They pulled up to the arcade a few minutes later, only sharing pleasantries and a pick up time before going their separate ways. Steve would be lying if he said he wasn’t worried about what he was going home to.

When Steve got home, Billy was nowhere to be found. With a sigh, he closed the door, leaving it unlocked in the case Billy came back. He knew what Max said would get under his skin, but he was hoping Billy would at least stick around so they could work through it. But Steve knew better, Billy was an action guy, not a words guy. If Steve had tried to talk about it he might end up with a few bruises, despite their newly formed relationship.

With one more fleeting glance to the front door, Steve decided to clean up the kitchen.

After breakfast, Billy decided on a walk to clear his mind. He wasn’t in the mood to talk about what he was feeling with Steve, because he just knew the guy was gonna ask.

He remembered passing a small jeweler on his long walk home from the hospital and decided to finally get his necklace repaired. He felt naked without it on, and hell if it got him out of the house, he’d take it.

A small, high pitched bell sounded overhead when he entered and Billy fought the urge to knock it from its post. A guy in his late 60’s poked up from behind a desk, giving him a warm smile that Billy did not return.

“Afternoon son, can I help you with something?”

“Can you fix this?” Billy asked, cutting the pleasantry bullshit and getting right down to business.

The man took the necklace and looked it over, nodding once. “Of course, I have one other order ahead of you, but it shouldn’t take more than an hour.”

“How much?” Billy gruffed out, mentally counting how much money he had in his back pocket.

“Well, let me see,” the man muttered, pulling down an over-sized magnifying glass to see. If Billy wasn’t so annoyed it would have been hilarious. “Looks to be real silver, not just platted, the clasp is completely broken so you’ll need a new one there. How’s $50 sound?”

Billy’s frown deepened and he dug in his pocket for his cash. He had a little under a hundred left from work last week. He felt bad mooching off Steve so he insisted on stocking the fridge with food and beer since now he and Max were living there. He’d need to work today if he wanted to be able to feed Max for the rest of the week and fill his car up with gas.

“Don’t really have much choice,” Billy ground out, placing a couple twenties and a ten on the counter. “Be careful with it ok? It’s my moms.”

Despite Billy’s shitty attitude, the older man gave him a gentle smile, nodding before getting to work.


Billy walked a couple of blocks before finding a relatively secluded corner. He knew it was risky working in town, especially Hawkins where everyone knew fucking everyone, but his car didn’t have enough gas for a trip to Lafayette and he still needed to buy shit for dinner.  

He sighed and unbuttoned the rest of his shirt completely, exposing his toned, completely healed torso. He pushed his jeans down lower, exposing the well defined V between his hips and propped up against the brick wall of an abandoned building. God, he hoped someone picked him up soon.

When Billy returned to the store an hour later, he had an extra $75 dollars in his pocket and a sizable limp. He didn’t usually get an offer to fuck this early in the day, especially in such a public area. Most guys just wanted a quick hand job or a blow job and then returned to work or home before anyone knew they were gone.  But this guy, he was a piece of work. Got off on roughing up guys and fucking them in alleys apparently. But Billy wasn’t about to turn down an easy $75. His face had suffered a few scrapes and bruises when it hit the brick wall but it was still less than he usually sported any given day at home. His ass burned and he was sure there would be bruises on his hips too. The guy didn't bother with any prep or lubrication, Billy was honestly surprised the guy wore a condom. But then again it made sense since the guy was sure to spit “Don’t need to pick up that fag disease from a loose whore like you,” into Billy ear while they fucked.

When he returned to the store, the older man took in his appearance with a worried frown, of which Billy ignored. He wasn’t in the mood after what just happened. He just wanted to get his necklace and go home. Scrub himself of the bastards cheap cologne and saliva.

“Son, is everything alright?” The man asked and Billy blinked, realizing he had been staring off into space for more than what most people would deem normal.

“Fine,” Billy lied, holding his hand out impatiently for his necklace.

The man sighed but handed him a small box, which Billy had torn apart just to get the necklace back. It was a nice gesture, to wrap it up like that, and if Billy had been in a better mood he might have thanked him. But right now it just served as a barrier that Billy needed to remove.

When he slipped the necklace back onto his body, he felt his chest ease a little. He felt whole again, and the events of the last hour didn't seem to matter. He dug into his pocket again and took out a ten, placing it on the table for the older man.

The smile he gave Billy made the guilt of his former attitude sink further in his gut. The guy must not get tipped a lot.

“Thank you son, let me know if I can fix anything else for you.”

Billy gave him as much as a smile as he could muster before leaving the shop without another word.

Steve heard the front door open almost two hours later. He had stress cleaned almost the entire house in that time, his mind running wild with scenarios each worse than the last. He knew it was ridiculous, Billy was probably fine, but after fighting otherworldly monsters twice now, Steve had a right to worry.

Billy didn’t say anything when he came in and Steve moved from the living room into the hallway, frown etching his face when he saw Billy. He looked like hell, and Steve knew in his gut why. He was honestly getting tired of seeing that dejected and empty look on his friends face. Billy deserved better than this. He needed to put a stop to this now.

“Baby?” He tried, hoping Billy would be receptive to the pet name.

“What is it Steve?” Billy sighed, but he didn’t sound mad, he just sounded exhausted.

“Nothing, I just missed you.”

Steve opened his arms for Billy. Now was clearly not the time to talk. Billy would tell him when he was ready. Billy looked like he just needed contact, Steve could provide that.

Billy crossed the hallway and snuggled into his arms, resting his face in Steve’s neck. His skin was freezing and Steve felt Billy shiver at the temperature difference.

“How’s a shower sound?” He asked and Billy nodded against his neck.

Billy was still in his head when they made it to Steve’s bathroom. He hated seeing Billy like this, so hollow and sad. It made him want to hit something, made him want to hit Neil for everything he did to Billy to make him like this. Billy was better than this, he knew it, but Billy wouldn't believe it if he said it, and that killed Steve. He needed to fix this, as best as he could.

He walked up to Billy who was standing in the doorway and smiled gently, raising his lovers chin so he could meet his eyes.

“You’re welcome to shower in your clothes, but generally you get cleaner without them on.”

Billy smiled weakly at Steve's joke, beginning to pull his clothes off his body. He winced a few times, but Steve said nothing. Billy would tell him when he’s ready.

He followed suit with his own clothes, turning on the shower and adjusting the temperature to slightly less than scalding. He was a fan of hot showers.

Billy was still standing in the doorway, but at least he had undressed. Maybe he just needs a little motivation, Steve thought, crossing the bathroom.

Steve moved carefully, not wanting to startle Billy with any quick movements. Something had happened that shook Billy, and Steve wasn’t going to make it worse by getting impatient.

Steve pushed back a strand of hair that was draping over Billy's shoulder before resting his hand on the back of Billy’s neck. Billy looked up at him and Steve smiled. So far so good.

He closed the distance between them and pressed their lips together, keeping it chaste and light. The kiss seemed to break Billy of whatever trance he was in because the kiss was deepening and Steve felt strong hands on either side of his hips.

Billy had backed them into the wall, hands on either side of Steve’s head as their tongues battled for dominance. Steve could feel himself growing hard under Billy’s continuous assault and let out a quiet groan when a hand tangled in his hair.

“Like that pretty boy?” Billy purred and Steve nodded quickly, pulling Billy’s body closer to his until their groins met.

Billy chuckled and rolled his hips, gaining another moan from Steve. “Guess that answers that question.”

“Billy, please,” Steve whined, high and impatient. Steve hated how fast Billy could get him worked up, it was embarrassing. But when he felt how hard Billy was too, some of his embarrassment faded.

“As much as i’d love to stay here and play with you pretty boy, we have a shower waiting for us.”

“Fuck the shower,” Steve panted and Billy laughed, actually laughed and Steve smiled. His Billy was back.

“Or we could shower, and then I could fuck you,” he offered and Steve’s eyes flew open. He would like that very much.

Billy laughed again and turned Steve towards the shower, slapping his ass when he apparently didn't move quick enough.

“Hey!” Steve yelped and Billy grinned, pulling the shower curtain closed behind him.

“Faster we shower the sooner I can be inside you pretty boy,” he purred and Steve bit his lip as a wave of arousal shot down his spine. Billy did have a point after all.

Lips were on his again and Steve melted into the touch, wrapping his arm around Billy’s lower back and pulling him closer. He didn't think he’d ever get tired of kissing billy. The man sure knew what he was doing, and it always made Steve breathless. He’d be content to just kiss Billy under the hot spray forever, but much too soon Billy was pulling back.

“Before we go too far in this, I need to make sure this is what you want,” He said and Steve knew he was serious. This was important to Billy, Steve’s consent. Steve could only imagine the things Billy had to endure at ‘work’ so he didn’t hesitate, and answered truthfully.

“I’ll be honest, I’m scared as hell, but I want this. I swear.”

Billy nodded and moved closer, kissing Steve gently on the lips.

“You say stop and I will, got it? Even if were in the middle of it.”

Steve had a feeling once they started he wouldn’t want to stop, but he appreciated Billy’s promise to do so. It made him feel a hell of alot better about it all.

“If we do this, I’m gonna need to prep you before. That good with you?”

“Yeah.” Steve didn't quite know what Billy meant, but he trusted him. Billy wouldn’t do anything to intentionally hurt him. Not now anyway.  

“Alright, good,” Billy smiled, taking Steve in his hand and drawing a gasp from the taller man. “Open your legs a little for me baby.”

Steve shivered at the use of the pet name, he was really starting to like how it sounded coming from Billy. He stood with his legs as far apart as the shower would allow and waited for further instruction.

Billy let one of his hands trail down Steve’s thigh, slipping under it before pulling it up, setting it down on the tubs edge.

“Trust me, it’ll be easier.”

When the hand that was on Steve’s thigh slipped behind Steve’s balls, he understood. He shivered at the new sensation, not sure if he liked it yet or not. He was sure he was blushing, and when he opened his eyes to Billy’s smirk he knew he was.

“Never touched yourself here baby?” He purred, running the tips of his fingers over Steve’s exposed hole.

Steve didn't trust his voice so he just shook his head, eyes fluttering when Billy rubbed harder.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?”

“Y-Yes,” he panted, voice breaking slightly.

“It gets better Steve,” He promised, pulling Steve’s mouth to his by his neck and quickly slipping a finger inside.

Steve moaned loudly into the kiss, the new sensation threatening to overwhelm him. It didn't hurt but it felt so weird he wasn't sure if it was pleasurable or not. Billy began to move the finger inside him, the hand in his hair moving to his dick. It took Steve a moment to realize Billy was pumping him as a distraction to the sensation in his ass. But once Billy was touching him again he realized he didn't care, as long as it didn't stop.

“You still doing good Steve?” Billy asked and Steve could only nod, the pleasure making it hard to form a coherent sentence. “Think you’re ready for another?”

“Please,” Steve begged, if one felt good, two could only be better right?

When the second finger breached him he gasped. It fucking burned and Steve was squirming at the added pressure.  

“I’m sorry baby, it’ll feel better in a second ok? I promise,” Billy soothed, moving his fingers like he was looking for something.

Steve’s mouth dropped open and a sharp gasp escaped, followed by a strangled sounding moan. What the hell was that? He looked down at Billy and he was smirking.

“Found it,” he chuckled, rubbing that spot harder and pulling another moan out of Steve. “Feels good right?”

Steve could only moan, his hips starting to rock with the pumping motion from Billy’s fingers.

“One more Steve, then you should be ready,” Billy said but Steve could hardly hear it over the pounding of blood in his ears. His body was absolutely buzzing with pleasure, Billy’s talented hands would be his undoing.

The last finger slipped in easily, the combination of heat and pleasure relaxing Steve enough for it to go smoothly. He felt so close to the edge already, if Billy kept rubbing right there he would-

Finger’s were pulled from his body suddenly and Steve let out a whine that he would deny ever making until the day he died.

“What-” he asked but Billy was already grabbing soap and lathering it up between his hands.

“Can’t have you coming now Steve, wouldn’t really be fair would it?” he winked and Steve wanted to kill him.

“You are such a dick,” Steve huffed, angrily grabbing the soap from Billy to wash his hair.

“Yeah well, get used to it. Because that’s never going to change,” he laughed, running his hands through his hair. “Don’t worry princess, I’ll take care of you soon enough.”

“You better,” Steve threatened but there was no heat behind it.

“Yeah yeah, you’re all talk Harrington,” Billy teased, shaking out his rinsed hair and shoving back the shower curtain.

“Only thing stopping my dick being in you is you now!” he shouted from likely the other room and Steve flushed, finishing his shower as quick as humanly possible.

When Steve got out of the shower, he saw Billy, naked and digging through his desk drawers.

“Where the hell do you keep your lube Harrington,” he shouted, startling when he noticed Steve standing closer than expected. “Oh, there you are. Where do you keep your shit?”

Steve rolled his eyes and reached under his bed, pulling out a shoe box that was adequately stocked with condoms and a half full bottle of clear lube.

“Use this a lot do you?” Billy teased and Steve pushed him, moving past him to get onto his bed.

“You gonna keep talking or are you going to fuck me Hargrove?”

“Fuck you, definitely fuck you,” Billy said grabbing what he needed before joining Steve on the bed.

Steve wasn’t sure how he should be laying so he just sat in the middle of the mattress, awaiting instruction. While Billy was opening the condom steve’s eyes fell to the dick that was going to be in him in just a few moments and swallowed. Sure it wasn’t the first time seeing Billy naked, but it was the first time Steve really registered how big Billy was. While Steve was long and thin, Billy’s was shorter and thick, at least twice as thick as Steve was. It was as sexy as it was terrifying.

“You still with me Steve?” Billy asked gently, rolling the condom on and crawling towards Steve.

“Very,” Steve replied with more confidence than he felt, letting Billy gently push him down onto the mattress.

“Remember what I said, you say-”

“Stop and you’ll stop, I know. But I want this, I swear,” Steve said honestly, shivering when he felt Billy’s cock between his legs.

“This is going to be cold, don’t freak ok?”

Billy squeezed a generous amount of lubricant into his hand before running it down his sheathed cock and his fingers. Two slipped in easily thanks to the earlier prep and Billy pushed in a third and twisted them, just to see Steve squirm.

“Billy please, stop teasing me,” he huffed, his cock throbbing between his legs from neglect.

“You’re bossy when you’re hard Steve,” Billy laughed, lining himself up with Steve’s hole.

“Billy,” Steve groaned, “just-ah!”

Billy slid inside with one fast motion, making Steve scream out in pleasure. Fuck Billy was big, bigger than three fingers that was for sure. Billy stretched Steve wide and he felt so fucking full he couldn’t stop panting.

“Fuck Steve, fuck you feel so good,” Billy groaned, gripping Steve’s hips hard.

Steve’s body was singing with pleasure. Why hadn’t they done this a week ago? What was he thinking?

Billy still hadn’t moved, probably to give Steve time to get used to it but Steve was ready damn it. He needed more .

“Fucking hell Hargrove, move,” He demanded, gaining a strained laugh from the man above him before Billy was sliding out, almost all the way before forcing back in hard.

“Fuck!” Steve screamed, and goddamn was he glad they were alone. He didn’t want to hold back now, not when Billy felt so fucking good.

“There’s a good boy, scream for me Steve,” Billy hummed in his ear, finding a spot just below Steve’s ear and biting it.

Steve let out a strangled gasp, the pain complimenting the pleasure perfectly and bringing him closer to the edge faster than he wanted.

Billy set a steady rhythm, fucking and sucking just hard enough to keep Steve on edge without toppling over. He’d have marks tomorrow, he was sure of it. When Billy’s hand wrapped around his base and pulled upwards it was all over. Steve came with a broken scream, painting Billy’s chest with hot white streaks.

He heard Billy growl out his name when he came before changing his pace, fucking Steve faster and deeper than before in an effort to find his own release. Steve sobbed when he hit overstimulation but let Billy use him, needing so badly for Billy to come too.

He did just a few thrusts later, stilling inside Steve as his orgasm washed over him, eyes shut tight and mouth open in pleasure.

“Fucking Christ,” Billy panted, pulling out slowly and smirking when Steve whined at the loss.

“Nothing says we can’t do it again pretty boy,” Billy laughed, tying off and tossing the condom before flopping down on the bed next to Steve. Steve’s face split into a wide grin because honestly, that sounded fucking great.

Chapter Text

Billy woke up Sunday morning warm, and with a face full of Steve’s hair. He couldn’t help but laugh at the mess of limbs draped over him and the light snoring in his ear. If it was anyone else, he probably would have shoved them off, but it was Steve, and goddamn if Steve wasn't making turning soft.

He tried his best not to move too much to wake him, but pushed the long hair out of his face and mouth. Unfortunately, the light movement woke Steve and Billy was pulled to his lovers chest in a long limbed hug.

“Good morning to you too Pretty Boy,” Billy laughed, kissing Steve’s forehead as Steve wound their ankles together. He replied with a pleased hum.

“You sleep alright?” He asked, realizing now this was the first night that Steve didn't have a nightmare.

“Yup, think I figured out how to keep them away. Have you fuck my brains out the night before.”

That had Billy laughing, hard enough his ribs hurt after he regained his breath.

“That can definitely be arranged Steve. How are you feeling by the way? Try moving, you're probably going to be sore.”

Steve stretched himself out and yelped, burying his face in Billy’s neck and groaning.

“Ow, ok that was a bad idea. I’m staying here for the rest of the day.”

Billy snorted. “That’s not going to make it any better baby, trust me. Come on, I’ll fill that big ass Jacuzzi tub of yours.”

“I don't want to move again,” Steve whined and Billy rolled his eyes. His boyfriend could be so dramatic. Huh, boyfriend.

“That’s what I’m here for Princess,” Billy said, pulling himself off the bed before scooping Steve and all his lanky limbs into his arms.

“Billy!” Steve squeaked and blushed and Billy couldn't help but let out a laugh.

“Well you said you weren’t going to move! That’s what you get for being stubborn.”

Billy carried Steve across the room into the bathroom, letting him down on his feet. Billy knew sitting was probably out of the question right now and he didn't want Steve in any more unavoidable pain.

He turned the water up high, adjusting it to just under boiling before returning to a sleepy, grumpy Steve.

“Aw, what’s wrong baby? Not a morning person?” He teased, getting a light punch to the arm for his troubles.

“You fucking would be a morning person,” Steve grumbled, pushing his long hair out of his eyes before resting his head on Billy’s shoulder. Maybe he could close his eyes for just a few more minutes.

“Uh uh, none of that. How about I go make you some coffee huh? You said you’d take Max to the mall to get a new board remember? She’s been looking forward to it all week.”

Steve let out another groan and Billy rolled his eyes again. Steve was such a drama queen.

Max was practically bouncing in the front seat of Steve’s BMW. Billy was glad he finally had enough to replace the one he broke, but her excitement was bordering on annoying at this point.

“Hey, spaz. Chill the fuck out or we’re going home,” he lightly scolded, getting a glare from Max and a smirk from Steve.

“We better not Billy, you promised.”

“Yeah yeah, we're going, just take it down a notch will ya? You’ll make Steve wreck.”

That seemed to placate Max just a little, and Steve gave Billy a thankful look from the front seat.

Billy and Steve lost Max the second they crossed the threshold of Sidewalk Surfer.

They had a shop just like it back in California. Billy could never understand the appeal to this store, or how despite the lack of new material, Max got just as excited every time they walked inside. It was all just hunks of painted wood and wheels to him.

He was busy analyzing the psychedelic pattern on the bottom of a skateboard when he felt a hand wrap around his waist. He leapt forward like it burned him, turning around quickly to see the shocked and hurt look on Steve’s face.

“The fuck are you doing Steve?” He hissed, scanning the small shop for anyone who could have seen. The only other person in the shop was busy trying on some skate shoes. They were ok, for now.

“Nothing! I just wanted to be close to you,” Steve said it like it was a perfectly normal thing to do. Like it was okay for two guys to stand like that in public. Like it was accepted and they wouldn’t get their asses beat or even killed for it.

Billy’s pulse was thrumming loud in his ears and he shook his head in an effort to quiet it. 

“Not here Steve,” was all he said as way of an explanation and Steve’s face fell even further. He hated causing that look on Steve’s face, but he had to make him understand, needed him to know this wasn’t something they could broadcast. Not in this fucking town.

“Uh guys?” Max appeared suddenly, breaking each boy out of their own thoughts, “I found a board I want.”

“Alright good, lets go buy it Max.”

The drive back was awkward to say the least. Max could tell there was strain between the two and it was driving her crazy. What the hell happened? They weren’t even in the store for that long!

“Um, Steve?” She asked hesitantly, needing to fill the silence more than anything. “Would you mind dropping me off at Jane’s place? I told her I’d help her with her science project after we got my board.”

She was lying, Jane didn't have any project she needed help with. But she could sense Billy and Steve needed some time to work through whatever the hell happened at the store, and that wouldn’t occur if she was around. The boys didn’t seem wise to her ruse and Steve turned around to head north to Jim’s place.

They arrived at the Hopper’s 20 minutes later and Max waved them goodbye and promised to be home by dinner.


They had just turned back onto the main road heading south when Billy spoke.

“Go to the Quarry,” he said and Steve didn't have the energy in him to argue.

When they pulled onto the dirt road, the sun had just hidden itself behind the clouds, concealing them in midday darkness. It wasn't enough to hide them completely, but enough that Billy could lean across the seat and press their lips together without worry someone would see.

“I’m sorry Steve,” he whispered when Steve didn't kiss back.

“It’s fine,” Steve mumbled and Billy huffed in irritation.

“No Steve, its not. I shouldn't have acted like a dick but you gotta understand something. We’re not- like you and Nancy. Or Jonathan and Nancy. We’re not straight. We can’t hold hands in public or make out in the movie theater like they can. That’s how people like us get killed Steve. Do you understand?”

Steve didn’t answer, or look up from his gaze on his lap, but Billy could hear Steve sniffle and it made him want to fucking die. Why was he so bad at this shit? Steve didn't deserve this, he didn't deserve someone like Billy. 

“Steve- shit I’m sorry. I just don’t want you to get hurt Steve, I-I’d kill anyone that hurt you.”

Steve pushed away the tears that fell with the back of his hand, letting out an annoyed sigh. Billy was right, he knew that, but it didn't make it suck any less. Steve was a very outgoing person, being reserved wasn’t in his personality. Billy made him happy, he wanted to show the world that, and it killed him that he couldn’t.

“I understand if you want to call this off Steve,” Billy said suddenly and Steve’s neck whipped around so fast it popped.

“What are you talking about?”

Billy didn't look at him, just shrugged and played with the end of a cigarette he pulled out.

“No reason to keep this going if I just make you miserable.”

Steve scoffed in frustration. “You idiot, you make me happy don’t you get it?”

Billy turned towards him and frowned in confusion. “But-”

“No, stop. You do, end of story. If you didn't I wouldn’t have cared when you pushed me away at the store. I sure as hell wouldn’t have let you fuck me Billy.”

Billy’s mouth snapped shut and he bit the inside of his cheek. Steve had a point there.

“You still want this?”

Steve rolled his eyes and leaned forward to kiss Billy, taking his hand and lacing their fingers together.

“Of course I want this.”  

Chapter Text

Billy went back to school on Monday. He didn’t really have a choice, especially if he didn’t want to repeat 11th grade. His bruises from his latest blow out with Neil had disappeared and his ribs had healed where he could breathe without agony.

With the exception of a few whispers from the more popular kids, no one even noticed Billy had been gone for so long. And that, surprisingly stung. It made him realize just how shallow and fake the few friendships he had in Hawkins were. Well, with the exception of Steve.

Just the thought of Steve and the events of the weekend had Billy smiling. God damn he was in it deep, and it scared him. Hawkins wasn’t California, despite what that police chief said. He didn’t want to think about what would happen if their relationship came to light. Steve and he had agreed on keeping it more on the down low, but if word ever got back to Neil and somehow he hurt Steve…

Billy’s fists clenched at his sides as his blood boiled. No, the man was in prison, actual prison. Max’s statement and Billy’s hospital records from California were enough to convict Neil without trial. He was two states away, thousands of miles from him and Steve. They would be fine, right?

“You ok?”

Steve’s voice by his side pulled Billy out of his head. He shook it once to clear it before settling on Steve’s face, which was laced with concern. Damn it.

“Better now that you’re here,” he smiled and Steve blushed, tucking a loose strand of hair back into place. His boyfriend was fucking adorable.

“So uh, I was thinking,” Steve started, fiddling with backpack strap, “I know you said there are places we can’t go, but maybe tonight we could-”

“Ahhh Billy Hargrove! Just the guy I’ve been looking for,” Tommy interrupted, shouting at him from across the hallway. Whatever Steve was going to say was stopped now and Billy’s previous smile was replaced with a sneer full of distaste. Goddamn Billy hated this fucking kid. He was such a spineless tool.

“What the fuck do you want Tommy,” Billy barked out, anger boiling in his gut.  

Tommy’s grin widened and he laughed, as did two of his goons, more spineless nobody’s. Billy couldn’t even remember their names.

“Ooh not very friendly today are we? What’s the matter Billy, Harrington stop putting out?”

Billy saw Steve stiffen beside him but Billy didn’t take the bait, there was no way he knew about them. Instead, Billy slammed the door of his locker so hard it shook the entire set. The sound startled several students, Steve included.

“I don’t have time for your shit today Hill. Just tell me what you want and leave.”

“Nothing too major,” Tommy pushed his tongue in his cheek, before cocking that obnoxious toothy smile of his. Billy wanted to slap it off his face. “I was just hoping you could help me out with something.”

Billy let out a deep sigh through his nose, his patience worn thin. “The fuck are you talking about asshole?”

“Word in Hawkins is, you’ll do just about anything for 20 bucks. And that’s right folks, I do mean anything.”

Billy’s eyes narrowed in suspicion and his jaw clenched so hard teeth cracked. Tommy kept talking.

“As it just so happens I got 20 bucks right here, whaddya say Billy? Carol’s good at sucking my dick and all, but I have a feeling you’d be better. What with all your, should we call it experience?

Billy noticed Steve gasp beside him but ignored him, all his attention on the asshole spouting his business in the rapidly filling hallway. But that didn’t matter. All he could think about right now was how the fuck did Tommy find out? With the exception of Saturday, he was always careful to take his business out of town. The only other person who knew was Steve-

His head whipped around to the man in question, anger pumping deep in his veins. No, he wouldn't-

“So it is true,” Tommy interrupted, looking between the two before throwing his head back and practically cackling. “I guess that makes sense why you’ve been hanging around Harrington all of a sudden! I mean, I always knew he was a fag, I just didn’t realize how desperate he was to get laid!”

Billy could barely make out the sound of Tommy’s incessant laughter over the pounding of blood in his ears. A moment later he saw red, and then Tommy’s skull was bouncing off the lockers with a sickening crack.

A scared hush fell over the small crowd that gathered to watch the fight. Steve stood there dumbstruck, too shocked to do anything but gape.

Billy had his fingers wrapped around Tommy’s throat tight enough to leave bruises and was fuming so hard he practically spat when he talked.

“I suggest you pick your next words very carefully Hill,” Billy seethed, his tone threatening to kill.

Tommy’s face split into a wide grin and it took everything in Billy’s power not to punch that smug expression off his face. He wasn’t intimidated, in fact, he felt vindicated enough to reach into his pocket and toss a crumbled twenty at Billy’s feet.

Steve eyes slipped closed and his head dropped in defeat as the sound of Tommy’s nose crunching under Billy’s fist filled the quiet hallway.

“Billy! Billy wait!”

Steve bolted out the front doors after Billy. After the younger man had sufficiently broken Tommy’s nose, he pushed through the filled hallway for the parking lot, intent on escaping. Steve literally had to sprint just to keep up with him. Billy was upset, and rightfully so, Steve just wanted to help in anyway he could.

Billy was yanking the door to his Camaro open when Steve finally reached him.

“Billy stop!”

Billy whipped around and shoved Steve, hard. As his back made contact with concrete and the air was knocked from his lungs, he was reminded of that night at the Byers.

“What the fuck man!” He wheezed, trying to stand up only to be forced back down by Billy’s boot.

“Fuck you Harrington,” he spat, rage burning wild in his eyes. “Don’t you talk to me.”

“Billy what are you- can you just wait for five seconds!”

“No, I’m outta here. You follow me, I’ll kick your ass.”

Steve squirmed under Billy’s foot, the pain increasing the angrier Billy got. He could understand why he’d be pissed at Tommy, but Steve was just trying to help!

“Baby stop, you’re hurting me,” he begged quietly and Billy’s recoiled like he’d been slapped. He leaned down and yanked Steve up by his collar, glaring hard and hissing in his face.

“You know I want to be pissed at you, and trust me I am, but I’m actually more pissed at myself for falling for it. I mean, I guess I really am as stupid as everyone here thinks. But in my defense, you were very convincing. Probably comes with the territory, am I right King Steve?”

Steve felt his stomach drop in confused fear. “Billy, what the hell are you talking about?”

Billy let out a humorless laugh, “I mean, I heard you did some sleazy shit to defend your title before, spray paint your ex is a slut on the movie sign and break Byers new camera but this, this is fucking low. Even for you.”

Steve’s expression fell as realization dawned on him. Oh shit.

“Billy, I swear-”

“You know what, save it Harrington. Don’t try and bullshit me. You were the only one who knew, the only one. And now all of a sudden Tommy knows? How else can you explain that?”

Steve didn't have words. He knew whatever he’d say in his defense would fall on deaf ears. Billy was furious.

“That’s what I fucking thought. Have a great life Harrington.”

Steve was shaken from his shell shocked stance by the loud noise of an engine revving. He had just enough time to cover his eyes as the wheels of the Camaro kicked up rocks and dirt as Billy peeled out of the parking lot. Steve felt tears pricking at his eyes and his chest tightening in fear and pain.

What the hell just happened?

Billy drove for hours. Fear, anger and hurt fueling his ambition to flee. He couldn’t believe Steve. He couldn’t believe the nerve of that jagoff Tommy. He couldn’t believe he was stupid enough to think that anyone, let alone Steve Harrington, would actually give a shit about him.  

What burned him more than anything, was that he could give his heart away so easily after everything that happened with Sam. He should have known better. It was only a matter of time before Steve and his relationship ended in disaster. Didn’t fucking everything for Billy? He didn’t deserve happiness, even temporarily, his father was right.  

Billy drove west until he hit the state line, he didn’t want a chance of Steve finding him this time.

Steve went home after the blow out in the parking lot. He didn't think he could handle the stares, questions, and whispers that were surely circulating the school by now. But mostly, he didn't think he could focus on school with Billy's words still buzzing around his head like an angry bumble bee.

I mean, I heard you did some sleazy shit to defend your title before, spray paint your ex is a slut on the movie sign and break Byers’ camera but this, this is fucking low. Even for you.

But in my defense, you were very convincing.

Probably comes with the territory, am I right King Steve?

Save it, Harrington.

For some reason, that hurt the worst, the reverting to calling him by his last name. It was said with so much malice and hate it was like the past month never happened and they were back to being enemies. He couldn’t believe that after everything that happened between them, Billy thought it was all a lie. All a plan to regain a stupid title he didn't want in the first place. Steve had fallen for Billy, truly fallen for him, just to have his heart ripped from his chest and thrown back into his face.

Steve slammed the door to his bedroom hard, knocking down a hanging picture off the wall. He didn't care, not like anyone would be around to bitch at him for it.

-A week later-

If Billy thought Hawkins was cold, it had nothing on Chicago. They didn’t call it the Windy City for nothing, that’s for damn sure. He debated spending what he had left over from Max’s new board on a thicker jacket, but no one wants to fuck a guy bundled up like an Eskimo.  

No, they wanted the guys who dressed easy, in skin tight, acid wash jeans littered with holes, a deep red button down with only the very bottom button buttoned, and a dark worn leather jacket that was more threads than leather at this point. That’s what got him business.

After nearly two hours on the corner and not a single customer, Billy had given up all hopes for street business tonight and decided to try his luck at a bar. He didn’t have a lot of cash, but enough to get him drunk enough to forget.

Billy was hurt, even a week later, and when he was hurt he got reckless, self destructive, and stupid. ‘Enough to forget’ turned into nearly blackout status and the way he was displaying himself across the booth was making it painfully obvious he was a prostitute. He was just begging to be arrested, or robbed.  

He was on his fourth drink when a tall, fair-skinned man sat down next to him, offering to buy the next round.

“You can buy more than that, Billy slurred, finally looking up from his glass.

“Is that right?” The man said, raising a curious eyebrow. “How much are we talking here?”

Billy let out a small involuntary gasp when he laid eyes on the man. He was tall, handsome, with big soft brown eyes and dark brown hair that fell halfway down his ears. Shit, he looked so much like Steve.

The familiarity hit Billy like a punch to the gut and he downed the rest of his drink quickly. This was not what he needed right now.

“Depends what you’re looking for,” Billy managed to get out, straightening in the booth and pulling back his shirt and jacket enough to expose his muscles.  

Billy thought he saw a strange kind of smile crept over the man’s face but chalked that up to the alcohol in favor of the trick. And besides Billy was almost seeing double at this point. He felt more than saw the man lean closer, whispering exactly what he ‘was looking for’ in his ear.

“That’ll run you close to two. Taking the added risk into account and all.”

The man raised an eyebrow and shook his head. He probably thought he’d surprise Billy with his request, but after nearly a combined year of hustling, Billy didn’t think anything could surprise him.

The man laughed and reached into his wallet, pulling out two fifties and a hundred.

“Payment upfront I assume,” he smirked and Billy returned it.

“Plus the drink of course.”

“Ah, how could I forget,” the man smiled, flagging over the bartender.

Billy gave the guy another once over before raising himself off the seat. When the man shot him a curious look, he just shrugged.

“Gotta freshen up for you sweetheart.”

When Billy came back from the bathroom, the man was standing near the door, drink in hand with a solemn expression on his face. Billy slipped a hand around his waist and his smile returned, forced, but it was there.

“Finish your drink, were leaving,” the man said with a tone of urgency that normally would have set Billy off, but in his drunken state, he just shrugged and pounded back the double shot, wincing at the bitter taste.

The drive from the bar to the motel made Billy nauseous for some reason. He never really got car sick, so he assumed it was from the extensive amount of alcohol.

When they reached the motel, Billy found he was having trouble moving his legs, and that black spots in his vision were starting to form. The passenger side door had opened and cold air was hitting his face, but he couldn’t feel it. He couldn’t feel anything but the man’s hands under his arms as he dragged Billy’s limp and faltering body over the threshold.

Panic started to build in Billy’s chest as he realized it wasn’t the alcohol that was impairing his motor function.

That motherfucker drugged me was the last thought he had before everything went hazy.

Chapter Text

Steve couldn't shake the feeling that something was inexplicably, undeniably wrong. Call it a sixth sense, but he couldn’t shake the sensation that something bad happened to Billy.

He didn't expect Billy to come home that night after everything with Tommy, but when he didn't hear anything from him in over a week, he got worried. No scratch that, he wasn’t worried, he was fucking terrified. Steve knew what was out there, monsters and humans alike.

Max was starting to worry too. She expected her brother to be home by now, or at least call. The complete radio silence was making her sick with worry. What was worse though, was having to watch Steve collapse further and further into himself with each day Billy remained away.

He wasn’t sleeping, he wasn’t eating, he didn’t even bother leaving the house with the exception of taking her to school. Nancy and Jonathan stopped by everyday after school to bring him his homework, but he refused to have a conversation longer than five minutes with them. It had gotten to the point where she had taken it upon herself to make sure Steve ate at least twice a day and and remained hydrated. Even force feeding him caffeine when he chose crying all night over sleeping. By day 8, Max couldn’t take it anymore. She took action and called the Hoppers.  

“Steve?” She asked quietly, knocking on the door of the bedroom he hadn’t left in almost a week. “Steve come on, I need you to come out ok? I-It’s about Billy.”

The door was ripped open with such a blinding speed it startled Max, as did the half dead attempt at attention Steve managed to give her.

“What is it Max?” He asked, voice hallow and void of all emotion as he pushed his limp and greasy hair out of his eyes.

She did her best not to be intimidated by his weak state, knowing this may be her only chance to get through to Steve.

“He’s still missing. But I found someone who can help us find him.”

Billy blinked weakly in the dim lighting. He couldn’t help but feel unbearably hot despite his complete lack of clothing. Like his blood was boiling just under the surface of his skin. He grimaced when he realized that meant the drugs were finally taking full effect.

The last time he had been roofied was when he was 16. He had just started out hustling, not finding any other choice after Neil kicked him out. He was a kid with no real work skills, a car with little gas, and $14 to his name. The only thing he really had going for him was his looks. He learned from an early age the kind of people that roamed the back alleys in shady areas of California, he’d never dreamed he’d become one of them.

Starting out as a young, naive hustler, Billy put too much faith in the people who hired his services. His clients were usually closeted men in their 20’s and 30’s who indulged in their true selves once or twice a year to keep their marriages from falling apart. It was sad more than anything, and Billy felt for those men. Enough to let his guard slip and get himself in serious trouble.

The bar scene was one Billy avoided simply because of his age. He didn’t look 21, no amount of make-up, clothes, or give em hell attitude could change that. He learned quickly, that in some joints in California, all it took was knowing the right people.

For a while, Billy felt like he was finally on top, like things were finally going his way. He was making significantly more than most teenagers did at their minimum wage jobs and he had older men practically eating out of the palm of his hands.

Until he met Jason, and everything went downhill from there.  

To this day, he still doesn't remember what happened that night after Jason bought him a drink and asked about his services. But waking up the next morning, bruised, sticky, and robbed of all his cash was enough to make him debate giving up the life completely.

He avoided bar scenes like the plague after that, shaken to his core at the kind of wolves in sheep's clothing that were out there. He thought his dad was bad, he was nothing compared to these monsters.  

Billy felt a few tears slip down his cheeks. He was so fucking stupid, he had managed to take home yet another monster. Something in his gut told him this wouldn’t end as nicely as it did with Jason. He deserved whatever this guy did to him, Billy acted reckless and stupid. He just hoped whatever it was, it ended quickly.  

Steve came downstairs to see the police chief and his daughter in the living room, as well as Mrs. Byers. They all shared sympathetic looks when they saw the state Steve was in and it made him feel sick. He must really look like shit.

“Hey kid,” Hopper started, and Steve gave him a gentle nod in acknowledgement.

“Sweetie, are you hungry? I can make you something if you’d like,” that was Mrs. Byers. He’d never admit it out loud, but he was scathingly jealous of Jonathan and Will for their mom. She was the strongest, most kind hearted mother this world had to offer. She gave so much and expected nothing in return. His mother wasn’t half the person Joyce was.

“No thanks Mrs. Byers, I’m alright. I uh, Max said someone could help us find Billy?” He wanted to get back on topic. It was the first time he felt hopeful in days.

“Me,” He heard a soft voice say, though he couldn’t spot the owner at first.

That’s when a little girl with the mop of brown curls walked out from behind Hopper. She looked familiar and Steve’s eyes widened as he realized this was the girl he  met once way back in November. The one who he could have sworn tossed a demodog through the Byers’ living room.   

“I don’t understand-” he started and Hopper let out a deep, weary sigh.

“Those monsters weren’t the only thing to come out of Hawkins lab kid. My girl, Jane, she can find your boy. She just needs a picture.”

Steve looked between everyone in the room, waiting for someone to yell out ‘just kidding!’ and laugh in his face. But their faces showed no humor or malice, just shared knowledge and trauma. There must have been more that happened in November than he originally thought. But he wasn’t going to dwell on that now, not when there was a chance of getting Billy home.

“I don’t have a picture.”

He felt the other people in the room deflate and Steve was immediately filled with guilt for wasting everyone's time. But before he could apologize, Max was speaking up.

“I do, I-I had Billy grab it when he picked up my stuff.”

Steve looked up in time to catch Max’s sympathetic gaze before she pushed a small picture frame into his hands. Steve analyzed the two figures in the picture, it displayed Max and Billy in arguably better times. He was younger, they both were, and they were smiling. The harsh angry lines of Billy’s face Steve had grown accustomed to were completely absent, and Max was looking at Billy with nothing but love and pure admiration. It warmed his heart as much as it hurt him.

He undid the backing of the frame carefully and removed the picture, touching the edges gently as not to ruin it before handing it to the little girl.

“Tell me what else you need.”

Billy watched in paralyzed disdain as the man began to pull his own clothes off, setting a closed switchblade to Billy’s left with a smirk. He knew it would be safe there, the drugs had made Billy completely immobile, though he could still see, hear and feel everything perfectly.

Billy swallowed down the lump of fear that threatened to strangle him at this new development. This felt different than being roofied, almost like his senses were heightened despite his paralyzed state. He wouldn’t put it past the bastard to have combined date rape drugs. Especially if Billy wasn't his first.  

Completely nude, the man draped himself over Billy, grabbing the blade to his left. Billy heard the blade’s spring loaded release right next to his ear. He hissed when the tip of the blade caught the edge of his ear, nicking the skin and allowing several drops to dribble down his neck. Billy had a feeling this sick fuck was just getting started. It was going to be a long night.

The five of them were huddled around Steve’s 33 inch plasma screen watching the static in anticipation. Steve had found an old t-shirt of his and cut a strip long enough to function as a blindfold for Jane. Steve was skeptic this would work, but it was the only shot he really had and he’d be damned if he was going to sit around and sulk anymore. Especially since his gut was screaming red flags at him.

He watched as Jane tied the long piece of fabric around her eyes and sat cross legged, the picture of Billy in hand. She let her fingers run over the side of the picture with Billy in it, whispering his name twice before falling completely silent.

“She’ll find him Steve, I promise.” Max soothed.

Her strong reassurance shook Steve out of the funk he’d been trapped in all week. He hadn’t even considered how Billy's absence was effecting Max. He was too busy feeling sorry for himself. But here she was, curled up at his side, comforting him. He could only manage out a small smile and weak nod in agreement.

Billy let out a shaky labored breath when the knife finally left his skin. What the guy did to him tonight bordered on torture, he knew he would have the scars for a long time. The drugs made it seem like it went on for days, though it had likely only been a few hours.

Billy’s lower torso to his knees were littered with cuts and burns, ranging in size, length and depth. Across his abdomen were a series of twenty slashes, sloppy, crude letters that branded Billy for what he really was, a whore. Those would undoubtedly scar.

His thighs were slick with blood, and Billy knew those had to be the deepest ones. They would need stitches, if Billy survived through this that is. Not even Neil’s beatings damaged him this bad, left him this broken. He could feel himself slowly slipping away, the drugs, pain, and blood loss pulling him deeper and deeper into the darkness.

Billy hissed as a sharp, burning pain brought him back to the surface. The man had slapped him. He hastily managed a glare at the sickly satisfied face staring down at him, admiring his work. Billy had hoped the worst was other, that the man would just leave him here to die. But no, it couldn’t be that easy. Billy realized, in the few hours the man had had Billy, he hadn’t fucked him.

Bile rose in the back of his throat as his eyes fell on the stiff and hard member between the man’s legs. The man had completely broken him, stripped him of all his dignity and worth. There would be no coming back from this, he knew that. Billy let his eyes slip closed in defeat and prayed to whatever god was listening.  

Please, please let this kill me.  

The living room was completely silent for well over 25 minutes and Steve was starting to doubt this was going to work. He could feel the dread start to creep back into his stomach and desperately itched for a cigarette to calm his fraying nerves. He started to pull the thinly rolled tobacco from the box when a blood curdling shriek broke the previous silence that filled the room.

Several things happened at once. Jane choked out a harsh, broken sob and tore the blindfold from her face like the thing caused her physical harm, Hopper and Mrs. Byers flew from their spots in the living room and wrapped themselves around Jane protectively, and the TV static hissed loudly before snapping to black.  

Steve was frozen in place, unable to do anything but watch the scene before him and try to understand what just happened. Jane was still crying, and Mrs. Byers was doing her best to calm her.  

“It’s ok sweetie, you’re safe with us. You’re not there.” Mrs. Byers soothed and Steve couldn’t help but wonder where ‘there’ was.

Steve risked a glance at Max and wished he hadn’t. She was pale with what was probably a combination of fear and shock. Steve had her wrapped in a hug before he could think better of it.

“A bad man, he has Billy,” Jane sobbed out, gripping Joyce's back tightly as another wave of agony shook her small frame.  

“Bad men? Like the ones from the lab?” Jim asked and she shook her head.

“Different. Worse. He needs help.”

Steve’s whole body flashed hot. Something had happened to Billy. Billy was in trouble. Billy was hurt, bad. And Steve had to get to him. Now.

“Did you see where he was?” Steve asked suddenly, finding his voice.

She pulled away from the adults holding her and nodded, sniffling.


Steve didn't understand, but Hopper did.

“He’s with your sister? Kali?” Jim asked and she shook her head. A look of confusion covered his face before realization dawned.

“Chicago? The hell is he doing in Chicago?”

Steve felt all the air escape from his lungs like a rapidly deflating balloon. He knew what Billy was doing in Chicago. The same shit he was doing in Lafayette about two weeks ago. But something happened, something bad.

“Do you have an address?” Steve asked Jane and she nodded again.

“I need it.”

“I’m going with you,” Jim said, grabbing his keys off the table and Steve knew better than to argue. Hell, whatever danger Billy was in, it wouldn’t hurt to have a cop on his side.

“Me too,” Max piped up and both Steve and Jim shot her down with a stern ‘no’. They could tell she was rearing for a fight, but Mrs. Byers spoke before she could argue.

“Max, honey, it could be dangerous. I know you want to see Billy, but it’s better for you to stay here.”

Max was pissed, Steve knew that, but she didn't argue. Instead she sat next to Jane, hugging her tightly and whispering her thanks for finding her brother.

“Address?” Steve asked again and Jim went to grab a pen for Jane.

“Got it. Steve, let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Billy sat on the edge of a dock, overlooking the water of the San Francisco Bay that backed up to Pier 39. He let his legs dangle off the slotted wood, toes just barely above grazing the water. A light summer breeze blew by, pushing his long curls in front of his face and overwhelming his senses with the smell of saltwater. It wasn’t a smell most people were particularly fond of, but it was one he found he missed every day since he’d moved to Hawkins. Now all he smelled was cow shit.

He looked across the mostly still, serene water with a sad sigh. He never really took the time to appreciate how beautiful the oceans surrounding California were, especially on days like today. The sun was hitting the water just right, decorating the small ripples with shimmer for miles each way. He smirked as he watched a pair of sea lions wrestle for dominance on a particularly sunny rock, they reminded him of dogs fighting over a sunbeam in the kitchen.

He let his eyes slip closed and took in a deep breath, content on staying in this one sunny spot forever. He’d never felt so relaxed in his life. He thought it was safe enough here to let his guard slip, missing the telltale sounds of someone approaching behind him. A soft, gentle touch on his shoulder startled him out of his zen state.

“Billy baby?”

He tensed at the painful familiarity the voice brought, everything in his body screaming for him not to turn towards it to avoid pain. But he did anyway, his jaw tensing in disbelief.


Steve didn’t think anything could top the bone chilling fear he felt when he found Billy, beaten and unconscious after his fight with Neil almost a month back. But this, this didn’t even come close. That last fight may as well have been as threatening as a paper cut to the damage inflicted on Billy’s body now.

Steve hadn’t moved from the motel room doorway in over three minutes. Everything that happened since Hop kicked in the door had seemed to be moving  in slow motion. Steve couldn’t make his limbs work even if he wanted to.

When Steve had first laid eyes on Billy, he felt like someone had taken his bat to his chest, effectively popping his lungs and ripping away his oxygen, rendering him completely frozen. Billy was sprawled across the filthy motel mattress, naked, pale and lifeless, in a puddle of his own blood. Steve tried not to stare at the scrawl carved into Billy’s abdomen, but his eyes kept landing there despite his best efforts. Billy was dead, Steve was sure of it. Someone murdered Billy, and Steve was too late to save him. This was his fault.

Shock and grief hit him like a car going 90 down the freeway. He couldn't think, he couldn't breathe, he couldn’t hear anything over the harsh pounding of blood in his ears. It wasn’t until two rough hands were shaking him did he realize he was being spoken to.

“HARRINGTON! Snap out of it! Call 911! I found a pulse, but I need you to get someone here ok?”

Steve’s eyes immediately snapped to Billy’s still form. Billy was- alive?

Running on nothing but pure adrenaline, he booked it to the phone sitting on the bedside table, punching in the numbers as fast as humanly possible. A dispatcher picked up on the second ring and he felt his heart lodge back in his throat.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

Steve swallowed it down hard. “W-We need someone here. S-Somebody tried to kill my boyfriend.”

Billy blinked a few times in disbelief, this couldn’t be real. His mom couldn’t be real. She was dead. How could she be here? Unless-

“A-Am I dead?” He asked shakily, voice just barely above a whisper.

“No baby, but you’re close,” she said honestly, sadness etched in every feature. She moved closer, resting her soft hands on either side of Billy’s face and he shuddered at the warmth that enveloped his frame from such a simple gesture.

“Fuck, I’ve missed you,” he whispered, not realizing he was crying until he felt small fingers brushing away his tears.

Suddenly she was pulling him in for a tight hug, and instantly Billy felt all the pain, all the stress from the last 10 years living under Neil’s roof melt from his body. When she was alive, she always had a way of making him feel better, with the simplest gestures. Now was no different.

“I’ve missed you too baby, every single day.”

God how he had missed her. It was like a piece of himself had been missing this entire time and now, with her again, he finally felt whole.

“Then why did you leave?” He asked brokenly, not realizing how badly he needed the answer until now.

She pulled away and gave him a guilt ridden, half smile. He instantly regretted asking. He never wanted to see that look on her face again. Not if he could help it.  

“I didn’t want to baby, but I was sick. I couldn’t find any other escape from the pain I was feeling every day. Some days I could push through it, but it got so bad baby.  I’m so sorry Billy, I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had tried harder to find help. Leaving you has been my biggest regret, my biggest failure, I am so sorry.”

She was crying now, tears staining both sides of her face and Billy’s guilt intensified.

“Please don’t cry mama, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean- I just missed you so much. I thought- I thought I did something wrong. Neil- he always said you left because of me.”

Her sadness was instantly replaced with a fierceness that rivaled Neil’s. It caught him off guard and frightened him. But she wasn’t angry at him, years of abuse could at least help him spot that difference.

“Don’t you dare, think for a second this was your fault. Do you hear me? Your father was a mean bastard, I hated every moment I was with him. You baby are the only good thing that ever came out of my marriage to him.”  

Billy was about to reply but Sarah was turning her gaze from him, looking behind as if someone had called her. She looked back to Billy was another small smile, one that hinted at sadness before leaning down and placing a gentle kiss on his forehead.  

“It’s time for you to go back baby,” she said and Billy’s arms tightened around her waist.

“Can’t I just stay with you?” Billy begged, not realizing he was crying until he felt tears soak into her shirt.

“I wish you could baby,” she shhed, pushing back a loose curl, “but it’s not your time.”

“It’s not like I got anything worth going back to,” he mumbled, burying his face in her shoulder and sniffled, not wanting to waste any time he had left with her.  

He felt her begin to pull away and frowned.  

“Now baby, you know that’s not entirely true,” She said with a knowing smile and a suspicious eyebrow.  

Billy flushed and hid his face. Steve.

“See,” she chuckled, “What’s his name?”

Billy’s head whipped up and his heart started to pound in his chest. He. Shit she knew. She knew he was gay. Shit shit shit.

“I- no one. There’s no one. I’m not gay.”

She rolled her eyes with a gentle laugh and poked his nose.

“Sweetheart, don’t you know you can’t lie to your mother?”

Billy barked out a laugh, the tension that had built up in his chest melting away at her genuine approval. Fuck, he missed his mom even more now.

“His name’s Steve. He goes to my school.”

“Steve,” she repeated, a happy, beautiful smile on her face, “and he makes you happy?”

Billy’s knee jerk reaction was to say no, especially after their recent argument, but even that fight couldn’t taint the previous happiness Steve made him feel. Like he was worth somebody's time. Just thinking about him put a smile on his face.

“Yeah mama, he does.”

She nodded in agreement, pushing back the one stubborn curl that always fell into his eyes. “Then you can’t stay here baby, you have to go to him.”

Billy’s smile faded. “But- I don’t want to leave you.”

“I’ll always be with you baby,” she promised, taking the small pendant in her hands and raising it to her lips, pressing a light kiss to it. “Go back to Steve Billy, you deserve to be happy.”

Billy was thrust back into the present, his eyes opening in an unfamiliar place. He blinked a few times to clear the fuzzy film that threatened his vision. He heard the familiar beeping of an EKG monitor and knew he was in the hospital. The stark whites of the walls were a dead giveaway as well.

He couldn’t move more than his head at the moment, his limbs felt heavy and weak. He didn’t want to think about what that meant so he focused on the other sensations. He felt a light pressure on his left side, and tilted his chin down to see a pile of dark brown strands strewn across the thin, plain hospital sheet. Harrington he smiled. His left hand was missing but he had a feeling it was tangled with Harrington’s, if the pressure around it was any indication.

He could hear a faint snoring coming from the body on his left and smiled at the feeling of nostalgia it filled him with. Waking up next to Harrington had become one of his favorite things. He squeezed the hand holding his lightly, hoping to wake Steve up gently.

He felt the older man startle awake and caught his gaze, smirking at the deer in the headlights look he got. It looked like he was struggling to make his voice work so Billy stepped in, figuratively, and gave him a wry smile.

“Am I dreaming, or is that you Harrington?”

A relieved laugh broke free from Steve’s chest and he wrapped Billy in the tightest hug he could without aggravating his injuries. Billy was alive, Billy woke up, Billy’s ok. He didn't even care he was crying, he was just so relieved to have Billy with him again.

“Fuck I thought I’d lost you,” He admitted, pulling away so he could look in Billy’s eyes.

“Nah, it’ll take a lot more than a drunk asshole to take me out. If I could survive Neil I can survive anything. Fuck I’m sore though, that guy must of hit me hard.”

There was something in Steve’s look, underneath the obvious pity, and Billy didn’t like it.

“What Steve?”

“W-What do you remember?”

Billy let out a sigh. Great, it was gonna be one of those.

“Uh, getting mad at you, taking off to Chicago, getting really drunk, some guy offering me two hundred dollars if I’d let him hit me while he fucked me bareback. That’s it. Pretty standard night if you ask me.”

Steve bit his lip but didn't respond to the obvious dig that was to their rocky relationship. Instead he asked, “You- you don’t remember anything else?”

Billy didn't like that. Didn't like that one fucking bit. “What the fuck happened Steve?”

Billy was getting anxious now. He could feel the tension building up in his sore muscles at the bad vibe radiating off Steve in waves. Steve made the mistake of glancing down at Billy’s body under the covers and Billy knew something happened. He reached for the plain blankets only to have his wrists yanked away.

“Billy don’t-“ Steve begged in a warning, but Billy ignored it.

“Steve, let me go,” He tried to threaten, but Steve’s hands held firm.

“Just- wait for the doctor to come back ok? Trust me, you don’t want to see.”

“Don’t tell me what I do and don’t want Harrington!” Billy snapped, yanking free of Steve’s hands and pulling down the blanket. Steve made a noise to his left but Billy didn't get why. All Billy could see was gauze, covering almost his entire lower body. He just assumed the guy punched him, maybe even brought out a belt, but that wouldn’t require gauze. Gauze meant blood and open wounds. His fingers went for the ones on stomach first and Steve’s hands were back, holding his wrist gently this time. Billy wanted to glare but was stopped by Steve’s face, stained with pleading tears.

“Billy, please,” he begged again and Billy sighed.

“Steve, I need to see ok? I won’t touch anything, but I have to see.”

Steve’s eyes slipped closed in defeat and his hands left Billy. Fear and anticipation raised in Billy’s chest as he pulled back the gauze. It must be bad if it gained that type of reaction from Steve.

The air left his lungs like a swift punch to the gut and his hands began to shake as he took in the messy scrawl of letters. They were hidden slightly by stitches but not enough that Billy couldn’t make out what they said.


Billy couldn’t breathe for close to a minute, when he did, it was shaky and was followed by a few tears. Then the hollowing numbness of shock set in. It’s not like it wasn’t true, it’s what Billy was. But somehow, having it memorialized and permanent felt like a slap to the face. He didn't think anyone could make him feel smaller than Neil could, but this guy, this stranger, was giving him a run for his money.

He stared at the cuts in silence for close to five minutes, lost in his own downward spiral of self-deprecation. He had forgotten Steve was even in the room until he spoke.  


Whatever Steve was going to say was interrupted by a harsh knock on the door and the entrance of a lab coat. Billy assumed it was the doctor.

“Mr. Hargrove?” He asked pleasantly, but Billy wasn’t in the mood for niceties, “So glad to see you’re with us again. I’d like a few minutes alone with you if that’s alright.”

It took Billy a second to realize the doctor was waiting on an answer and nodded. He didn’t think he could look at Steve right now anyway.

“I’ll just be in the hall,” Steve promised, but Billy couldn’t acknowledge him. Not after this. Shame and disgust filled his chest and one by one the walls Steve had spent the past month and a half knocking down were shooting back up.

Steve knocked gently on the glass sliding door after the doctor left, almost an hour later. Even though he knew Billy was less than 15 feet from him, having him out of sight for that long had made him anxious.

“Billy?” He asked lightly, but Billy ignored him. He assumed the doctor had told him everything and didn't blame him for the silence. Steve entered the room anyway, settling down in the chair beside Billy who hadn’t removed his gaze from the wall in front of him.


Billy heard Steve come in and settle back in the chair to his left, but after everything the doctor told him, he didn’t have it in him to move let alone speak. He felt cold, clammy and hollow. The information he just received was starting to sink in, as was the realization that Steve probably knew all of it. The drugging, the torture, the rape, there wasn’t any hiding of what happened to him. Not now.

He numbly registered a hand take his. He didn’t have the energy to pull away.

“Hey baby,” Steve tried, but Billy could only manage out a single nod in acknowledgement.

“Please, please don’t do that. Don’t shut me out,” Steve begged and the tears were back, filling Billy with even more guilt. “What did the doctor tell you?”

Billy couldn’t look at Steve, the shame too crippling to move past. He cleared his throat twice before settling his gaze back on a spot on the wall.

“Everything.” Steve’s hand squeezed his.

“H-Hoppers trying to track down who did this ok? If- if you can remember anything about him, anything at all, it might help.”

“Wouldn’t matter,” Billy shrugged and he felt Steve rip his hand away.

“What do you mean it wouldn’t matter!” Steve shouted, throwing his hands up in anger. Billy had to physically stop himself from rolling his eyes.

“Don’t you get it Steve? He attacked a fucking whore. You think anyone’s gonna give a shit? That’s just one more piece of trash off the street. It’s just too bad he didn't finish the job.”

“Billy, stop it! You know that’s not true!” Steve was standing now.

“Isn’t it? Because I’ve got the scars that say otherwise!”  Billy wasn’t just talking about the other night either.

Steve let out a sigh that expressed more physical exhaustion than an 18 year old should have. He was quiet for a while, taking his place back in the chair before resting his head in his hands.

“Why do you do that?” He asked quietly and Billy raised an eyebrow.

“Do what?”

“Push everyone away?”

Billy rolled his eyes, “It’s not like I’m worth chasing after.”

“Bullshit,” Steve snapped and Billy’s eyes grew wide at the sudden heated outburst in his defense.


“I’m sorry but Billy, that’s bullshit and you know it. Ok, maybe before, when I first met you and you seemed to get literal enjoyment out of making those around you miserable but that’s not the Billy Hargrove I’ve gotten to know. Whether you want to believe me or not is your issue but it’s true. Do you think the old you would have given me the time of day let alone help me through a fucking nightmare? What about take beating after beating from Neil if it meant safety for Max or I? And yeah, maybe you’ve done a few questionable things for money, but who is that money going to Billy? Have you even spent a dime of it on yourself? You bought Max a new skateboard and made sure we had enough food in the house to last the month. So don’t you think, for one fucking second, that you are just a whore, that you don’t matter, that you aren’t worthy ok? Because that’s the furthest from the fucking truth.”

Billy blinked at Steve, he was speechless. He racked his brain for a rebuttal, a smart ass comment, an offensive retort but came up empty. While in his gut, buried under years of abuse and self loathing, he disagreed, he couldn’t find it in himself to tell Steve he was wrong. Especially after how fiercely he spoke in Billy’s defense. It felt weird, to be complimented so much. To be fought for instead of against. It did weird things to his chest but he kinda liked it?

Steve looked like he was expecting an answer, but Billy couldn’t get the words out. So instead Billy nodded, mouthing an ok. Steve’s entire body posture relaxed and a huge grin spread across his face, like it was the best news he’d ever heard. Billy felt their hands tangle together and Steve was leaning forward for a kiss. On instinct, Billy dodged it, and Steve’s lips fell on his cheek.

Steve pulled back quickly, rejection evident on his face.

“N-No it’s not like that. I-” Billy backpedaled, God he hated causing that look on Steve’s face. “I don't know what that guy had…until the tests come back, I don’t want to get you sick.”

Steve’s expression was replaced with one of sad understanding. He leaned forward and placed a kiss on Billy’s forehead instead.

“We’ll get through this Billy,” Steve promised, and for a minute, Billy believed him.

Chapter Text

The next two days passed by in a blur, just a steady stream of doctors, numbing pain medication, and Steve. No one had really spoken to him outside of small conversations he had with Steve and honestly, Billy was grateful for that. He didn't have the mental energy for much more. Though he knew the interim silence wouldn't last, and too soon the reality of the last 72 hours would come crashing down around him.

The predicted shitstorm came on the third day, when he woke up in pain, to see Steve talking to the police chief again.

Here we go again.

He rubbed his bruised eyelids and cleared his throat, gaining their shared attention.

“Let’s just get this over with, yeah?” He said relatively loudly, gaining a understanding nod from the chief.

“Do you want me to leave?” Steve asked hesitantly, and no, Billy really didn’t.

“Nah, you’re a part of this too,” Billy said in an attempt to mask just how badly he wanted him there. There was a mental breakdown bubbling under the surface, he hoped having Steve here would prevent that.    

The chief pulled the privacy curtain around them and pulled out his notebook, deja vu settling in. Steve took his place by Billy's side and wound their hands together. Billy didn’t admit out loud the way that small action made his chest ease.

“Start from the beginning?” Billy mocked in an attempt to cover the real pain he was feeling. Hopper was smart enough to force out a fake smile.  

“Whenever you’re ready Billy.”

Billy rubbed his free hand over his face, finding a particular spot on the wall and focusing on it instead of the two men looking at him.

“Steve and I got in a fight,” he started, his eyes going hard at the memory.

“What was it about?”

Billy grit his teeth.

“Nothing,” Billy lied and he felt Steve pull away, letting out a sigh. It was taking physical effort to keep from rolling his eyes. “ What Harrington?”

“I didn’t fucking tell Tommy anything,” he spat, and Billy did roll his eyes.

“Yeah, I’m sure he just found out on his own.”

Steve scoffed and shoved his chair back, Billy reflexively flinched at the action.

Fuck you very much Neil.

He got up and started pacing around the room, like just being near Billy was physically taxing him.

Maybe it was.

Steve let out a sigh, “He fucking saw you, ok? I didn’t tell him.”

Billy's mouth dropped open and he shook his head in disbelief.

“Tommy saw you…” Steve’s eyes flickered to Hopper then back to him. Like he was unsure of how much he should tell given their current audience. Though Billy was sure his secret was out now, carved on his body for the world to see.

“I-I guess he noticed you uh, working , in the alley behind the old hardware store last week. After I dropped Max off at the arcade remember? You never told me where you went that day, so there’s no way I would have known that. After you took off, I followed him home. His parents are about as absent as mine. Threatened him with my bat, he pretty much came clean about everything after that.”

Billy let out an amused snort. Being on the other side of that bat was fucking intimidating to say the least.

“Tommy’s always been a spineless nobody. He’s not cool or smart enough to establish a following of his own so he latches onto whoever seems to be in power to survive. I wanted to explain all that, but you were so fucking angry it seemed easier to just try and apologize. So much for that, right?”

Billy’s eyes shot to the ground in shame but said nothing. His cheeks were burning in embarrassment, knowing Hopper was right there silently judging him for his actions. At least he had the good grace not to say anything. Billy was quiet. Not quite sure what to say. What was there to say? “I’m sorry” didn’t really seem to cut it.

“You really didn’t tell him?” Billy asked and Steve let out a harsh, humorless laugh in response.

“Fuck no Billy. I wouldn’t do that to you.”

If Billy felt low before, he might as well be below rock bottom now.  God he was so stupid. Of course Steve didn’t tell anyone. He was too fucking good to do shit like that. He wasn’t an asshole bully like Billy was. No, Billy was toxic. He was absolute poison to this relationship.

“Baby stop, don’t get trapped in your head,” Steve soothed gently and it took significant effort for Billy to lift his head from his lap.

“Fuck off Harrington, you don’t know anything about me,” Billy groused.

“I know enough.”  He said and Billy looked up in time to catch his smile. Fuck had he missed that look aimed towards him. One week might as well of been a year away from Steve.

Billy sniffled and looked away from the other two, desperately needing a subject change.

“How did you guys even find me?”

He had been wondering for a while now. It seemed pretty implausible actually. Billy had wound up over 200 miles Northwest of Hawkins, in a dingy ass motel in Chicago, beaten within an inch of his life, and somehow someway they managed to find him just in the nick of time. It was like something you’d read in a kids book, or see in a disney movie. That kind of shit didn’t happen in real life, and certainly not to Billy.

While awaiting his answer, Billy saw Hopper and Steve exchanged a hesitant look of shared knowledge, almost like they were telepathically communicating on whether or not they should let Billy in on their secret. He didn't like the charged atmosphere that seemed to settle down around them.

“It’s- kind of a long story,” Steve was taking again, “You might not even believe me if I tell you.” He let out a strained laugh, one Billy noticed he used when he was uncomfortable. He was also fucking with his hair a lot. Like he was nervous. Billy didn’t like that either.

“I’ve believed weirder,” Billy pushed, but Steve was shaking his head.

“I’ll tell you, just not here ok? It’s- complicated doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Billy raised a suspicious eyebrow. “What you work for the feds or something like that? Put a tracker in me?”

Steve smiled and Hopper let out a small chuckle, shaking his head with a grin.

“No, that would be too easy of an explanation kid.”

Billy wasn't 100% satisfied with that answer but he figured it was as good as he was going to get right now. So much for a distraction.

“Guess we should get back on track?” He said and Hopper nodded, licking the end of his pen before finding a clean page.

“What happened after the fight?”

“I ran, well more accurately I drove until I hit the state line. Slept in my car, drove until I hit Chicago. Worked there for a couple of days, oh yeah, I’m a whore. But I’m assuming you pieced that together.”

Steve shot him a look before squeezing his hand firmly. “Billy stop, please.”

“I sell my body for money Steve, what else would you call it?”

Steve let out a sigh and let go of his hand. Maybe having Steve here wasn't such a great idea after all.  

“Anyway, ended up in a bar towards the end of the week. Didn’t really feel like standing on the corner and catching pneumonia. Got shitfaced, let some guy twice my age take me home. Your typical Friday night. Didn’t even notice he slipped something into my drink until we made it to the motel.”

Hopper was scribbling fast, jotting down as much detail as he could as Billy spoke.

“Do you remember what this guy looked like? Any distinguishing features at all?”

You mean how he looked like a 35 year old Steve? Billy thought bitterly, brushing back his sweaty curls.

“I was too drunk,” Billy lied.  A sideways glance told him Steve wasn’t buying it, but at least the cop did.

“And that’s the last thing you remember?”

Billy tried to shake off the shudder that ran through him in that moment. Billy didn’t remember much, just bits and pieces, flashes of the night in question. He remembered the pain, some of the worst he’d ever experienced. He remembered the smell of blood and metal. The fear he felt when he found he could no longer control his limbs. The bliss he felt when everything went dark.

“Uh, yeah. I remember the bar but everything after that is too fuzzy.”

Hopper took down the last of his notes before shoving the notepad in his pocket, thanking Billy for his help, even if Billy didn’t feel like he did much. He left the two alone in the room and the awkward tenseness was back.

Steve was the first to break it. Of course.

“Billy, look I-”

Someone knocked on the glass just then, interrupting and pausing whatever Steve was going to say. A second later, a sheepish looking nurse stepped in.

“I’m sorry to disturb you. Would you be feeling up to some visitors? I’m afraid she’s being persistent.”

Billy laughed, even if it hurt. He could not be any more thankful for a distraction right now.

“Let me guess, this tall, redhead, bit of a bitch?” He asked and the nurse raised an amused eyebrow.

“I’m assuming you two know each other.”

“Yeah, she’s my sister. Send her in, we’re done here right?”

He knew Steve was glaring at him, but he didn't care. This conversation had bordered on uncomfortable for a while now and he knew the guy wouldn’t be caught. Just seemed like a big waste of time. Just like the questioning after Neil put him in the hospital.

Not 5 minutes later, the 13 year old redhead came bursting through the door,  wrapping herself tightly around Billy’s body. It hurt like a bitch, but he knew she needed to see he was alright.

Her tears came out in harsh, relieved sobs that made Billy’s heart ache.

“Hey, hey shh it’s alright,” he tried to soothe, but her sobs came out harsher, making her small frame tremble.

Guilt hit Billy hard. He had only been gone for a week, but she had probably been worried sick. Especially since he didn’t call once to at least say he was alive. Shit. He hadn’t meant to do that to her. She didn't deserve that. He wasn’t used to people actually giving a shit when he left. Steve and Max were so different from Neil and Susan.

“I’m alright Max, ok? I’m fine.” He tried again, and her cries seemed to slow a little.

“I was so scared Billy, I thought-”

“Hey, I know, but I’m not ok? See, look. I’m right here. Totally fine.”

“Don’t run off again,” she ordered, and her tone left no room for argument. At this point, Billy knew better than to piss off Max.

“Alright Max, I promise. I’m staying right here ok?”

Max seemed placated, at least for the moment and pulled back to settle in Steve’s chair. Only then did Billy notice a little girl hiding behind the police chief, peering at Billy like she was afraid to approach him.

“Who’s your friend Max?” He wondered.

“Oh, this is Jane, she was worried about you too. Can she come say hi?”

Billy shrugged. Why not?

The small, shy girl with the mop of brown curls came forward, her eyes so intensely focused on him it was actually a little intimidating. She didn't say anything, just walked to Billy’s bedside before hugging him as well.

It actually made him feel better? Here was this little girl, this stranger , pulling him out of his shit mood with the lightest touch.

“Uh nice to meet you too?” He chuckled awkwardly and she pulled back, giving him a small smirk.

“Safe, good.” Was all she said and Billy raised an eyebrow.  

A nurse came back in then, announcing that visiting hours were over and that they’d all have to leave. Max seemed reluctant, but the Chief convinced her otherwise, with the promise of a sleepover with Jane. The torn look on her face made Billy snort.

“Go squirt, try not to eat too much junk food though ok? I’ll be fine. I already got a babysitter, don’t need two.”

“Hey!” Steve scoffed and Billy laughed with a wince, the motion aggravating his wounds. But he didn’t care, it felt damn good to laugh.

When everyone filtered out of the room, Billy’s plastic smile faded and he let reality sink back in.

“How much does she know?”

“Just that someone hurt you, and that you were in Chicago,” Steve sighed, letting his hand find Billy’s under the covers again.

“How many people know the truth?”

“5, if you include yourself.”

“Wait 5? Who the hell else knows other than you, me, the cop, and the doctor?”

Steve bit his lip hard before answering. “Jane.”

Billy’s eyes went huge and shit, if he felt guilty before… “But, how-”

“I told you-”

“Complicated, right,” Billy spat, yanking his hand away to scrub his face in frustration.

“She won’t tell Max. I honestly don’t think she’ll tell anyone. Too freaked out.”

Billy let out an annoyed huff. None of this shit was making any sense. He wanted to scream.

“Billy, a lot happened in November that you don’t know about. And I’m going to tell you ok, I swear. But it can't be here. It’s not safe. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this.”

“I do Steve,” Billy sighed, pushing his hair away from his face. “I do. I’m sorry I’m so shitty at showing it. I’m not really used to something this normal. I’m used to being lied to, waiting for something or someone to fuck me over when I let my guard down. I don’t- I don’t really know how to handle something this good, you know?”

“Good?” Steve asked, a small smile creeping onto his face. It made Billy laugh. Did he hear anything else Billy even said?

“Yeah Steve, you’re a pain in my ass sometimes, but this is good. We’re good.”

God damn Steve’s smile was adorable as fuck. Man was Billy was in it deep.  

The hospital released Billy the next day. He’d have to go to a clinic in Hawkins next week to get his stitches removed, but at least he didn't have to stay in that god awful hospital room anymore.

His STD panel came back clean too, which was honestly as shocking as it was relieving. Billy had been fucking around for years, and that excluded clients. He should have come down with something by now. But at least that was one less thing for him to worry about. He never would have forgiven himself if he got Steve sick.

“Home sweet home,” Steve laughed a few hours later, pushing open the door of the house that he’d felt became more like a home since Billy and Max moved in.

Billy tried to put on a smile for Steve, but moving even the short distance from the car to the front door had aggravated his wounds significantly and depressed his mood. Max and Jane were sitting in the kitchen, working on homework when the boys came home.

“Billy?” the two boys heard from inside and Billy grit his teeth as he attempted to stand up straight, masking the actual pain he was in.

“Yeah shitbird its me,” he shouted back and she rounded the corner.

“I told you not to call me that asshole,” she laughed, punching his shoulder lightly before hugging him tight.

He hissed at the pain the hug caused and she jumped back in fear.

“Shit! I- did I hurt you?”

“Nah, nah it’s ok Max. Just still healing you know?” He lied. She didn't look convinced but nodded anyway, hugging him lighter this time.

“Do you think you could help us with our homework?”

“Us?” Billy asked but Steve was interrupting before he could get an answer.

“Max, Billy need to rest, maybe in a bit-”

Billy scoffed and pulled from Steve's grip on his hip. "I’m not an invalid Harrington.” He began limping his way into the kitchen despite his obvious discomfort and was surprised to come face to face with a familiar curly haired girl.

“Jane, right?” He asked, and she nodded once.

“Yes. Billy.” She replied and he cracked a grin.

“Mind if I sit here?” He asked and she nodded again. “Not big on words huh?”

She laughed a little bit and Billy couldn’t help mirroring the action.  

“So I’m guessing you’re the one who helped find me?” He asked and her smile was replaced with a troubled frown. He knew she had to be involved somehow. Especially if she knew the truth of what happened to him. It didn't seem likely that Steve or the Chief told her. Max didn't even know the entire truth, so Jane couldn’t have found out from her. This was the only answer that made any sense.

“I saw you,” she said suddenly, pulling Billy out of his thoughts. She saw him? How?

“You saw me?” He repeated and her eyes went down as she nodded.

“Yes, with the bad man.”

Billy felt his mouth dry. She saw him, with that creep from the bar. She knew in detail what happened to him. She saw it all.   


That was Steve. He couldn't focus on him right now. Too many thoughts were running through his head, too many questions. She knew. How the hell did she know? How much had she seen? How was it possible!?

“Baby?” He tried again and Billy shook his head to clear it. There was only one question at the forefront on his mind now.

“Steve, what the hell happened in November?”

Billy looked over the tattoo on Jane’s wrist carefully, letting everything the three spent the last hour explaining sink in.  

Jane had been tortured, abused, broken like Billy, but so much worse. She also went by the name Eleven for a period of time, El for short. He told her he liked Jane better and was rewarded with a shy smile. He couldn't bring himself to call her by her old nickname. The audacity, reducing a person’s humanity to a number. She was a human being. Different, but human.

Then there was that whole thing where she could move things with her mind. That part made Billy laugh out loud in disbelief, until she lifted Max’s textbook from the table and tossed it across the room like it was nothing. Billy’s mouth dropped open so wide, all he could do was gape for a solid minute.

“And this, the thing you can do with your mind, that’s how you found me?”

Jane took her wrist back and nodded.

“I could see you, where you were. I told Steve and Hopper.”

Billy didn’t know what to say. This girl, this poor, abused, special, amazing girl saved his life.

“Well,” He cleared his throat and held out his hand, “I guess I owe you a thank you then.”

She smiled up at him, taking his hand and squeezing it gently. “Friends help friends.”

“Friends?” Billy asked and she nodded quickly with a smile.

“Yes. Friends.”

Billy couldn’t describe the feeling that settled into the pit of his stomach when she said that, outside of warm. He was glad Max had a friend like Jane.

Steve was behind him now, resting his hand on his shoulder and Billy felt all the stresses of the past few weeks finally sink in. Shit he was tired.

“I think you’ve had enough excitement for today baby,” Steve whispered gently, letting his hands run through Billy's long hair. He couldn’t say he disagreed, and sleep sounded amazing right now. Especially with Steve by his side.

“You’re probably going to have to carry me Harrington, I’m too damn tired.”

“Jane could lift you,” Max suggested and Billy’s eyes went wide, causing the two girls to explode in a fit of giggles. Steve laughed too and shook his head, pulling Billy's arm over his shoulder and hoisting him up.

“I don’t think that’ll be necessary ladies. But thank you for the offer. Get what you can of your homework done. I’ll help when I get back down.”

Max let out a groan and grabbed her calculator, Jane mirroring her actions.

“Come on baby, let’s get you in bed.”

“Mmm just what every man loves to hear,” Billy mumbled once they were out of earshot and Steve’s eyes rolled to the ceiling.  

“You’re ridiculous.”

“Yeah, but you love it,” Billy hummed against his ear.

Steve laughed and kissed his cheek. “Yeah, guess I do.”

Billy smiled, that warm feeling was back.

Chapter Text

A sharp, stinging sensation in his abdomen woke Billy up from his otherwise peaceful sleep. The pills from the hospital must have worn off because at the moment, his lower body felt like someone was poking at it with the tip of a blowtorch. He rolled over to wake Steve but stopped once he saw the man, snoring soundly with a face that only expressed complete and utter peace. Shit. He couldn't wake him. Steve probably needed his sleep more than Billy did.

Billy pulled himself upright as quietly and slowly as he could, biting his lip to keep the pained whimpers his movement caused from escaping and waking up Steve. His pill bottle was thankfully on the side table so he didn’t have to move too far to grab it. But he’d grab it in a minute, when he could breathe without hissing again.

As he waited for the throbbing around his stitches to reduce to slightly below agonizing, he scanned the familiar bedroom, not realizing just how much he missed it until he saw it again. Steve’s house had become his and Max’s home in the few weeks they’d known the man and it almost hurt to think that he was away from it for so long.

But something about the room struck him as odd, set his nerves on edge. The room was fucking filthy , and Steve was a goddamn clean freak. Like a if you left a knife out on the table for more than fifteen minutes it would be rinsed and in the dishwasher by the time you got back , clean freak. His bedroom was an extension of his personality and he kept it otherwise spotless every other time Billy had been in it. Billy remembered the fit Steve threw when he left his sweats in a pile the morning after they fucked for the first time. Billy may as well have insulted his mother he was so pissed. So there was no reason Billy could think of for his room to be in the state it was currently.

Shit was thrown everywhere, there were holes in the drywall to the right of his doorframe, clothes were piled in six different places on the floor, and his trashcan was overflowing with junk. The most concerning part however was the collection of empty alcohol bottles scattered across the top of the dresser. There had to be at least 10 if not more. Billy was only gone for a little over a week, did Steve drink through one every day? That much alcohol consumption wasn’t normal for Steve. Maybe for Billy, but not Steve. The combination of self destructive and depressive behavior scared the hell out of Billy, and guilt hit him with such a punch he felt nauseous enough to puke.

Billy’s eyes traveled to the full pill bottle of narcotics on the side table. It would be so easy to just take one too many, to numb himself out to all the shame, guilt, and pain he was feeling right now. But he couldn’t imagine Steve finding him in the morning. Fuck it would hurt him so bad, and he was so tired of hurting Steve.

Billy leaving had hurt Steve, bad . And taking into account the state of the room, he had fucked up more than he realized. Billy ran away and Steve stayed here and suffered, alone , probably worrying he did something wrong when in fact Billy’s the one that fucked everything up. Again. Billy’s temper commandeered his better judgement and Steve reaped the consequences.  


Steve’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts and grounded him to the present. He felt warm hands on his face, brushing away the wetness that accumulated there. Shit, he hadn’t even realized he’d been crying.  

“Hey, what’s wrong, do you hurt?”

Billy shuddered and closed his eyes, turning his cheek into Steve’s hand and kissing it.

“I’m so fucking sorry Steve,” Billy whispered, swallowing down the sadness that that threatened to choke him.

“For what baby?” Steve asked and Billy choked on a bitter laugh. Where do I start?

“For everything. For thinking you told Tommy, for hitting you, for running away and shutting you out, for being a shit person and an even shitter boyfriend. For making you go through this. You didn’t deserve what I put you though. You don’t deserve to be stuck with me.”

Steve sighed and pulled him close, not speaking yet, just hugging him around his shoulders and kissing his forehead. It felt so nice to be held by Steve again Billy didn't even care if he got screamed at for being a piece of shit. But once again, Steve was a better person than Billy and controlled his temper.

“Thank you, for apologizing, but more thank you for coming back. I know we can both be stubborn assholes sometimes, but I’d rather have you, stubborn and all than not ok? And yeah, we got some shit we need to work through, but later. I want to just focus on you getting better right now.”

Billy felt some of his tension ease at that, though he knew he wasn’t off the hook yet. Good . He didn’t deserve to be, not already. But that was ok, he’d do whatever Steve asked, as long as it kept them together.

“How are you feeling,” Steve asked and Billy laughed.

“Honestly? Like I’m being lit on fire, my stomach’s killing me.”

Steve frowned and kissed Billy’s cheek, moving from the bed to get his pill bottle.

“I’m going to give you one and a half. The first few days are probably going to be the worst and I don’t want you in any more pain than you need to be.”

“You’re so good to me,” Billy smirked, opening his mouth to accept the pills and swallowing them dry. He knew once the pills kicked in he’d be unconscious again so used the time awake to his advantage.

“How did you sleep Steve?”

“Better, now that you’re home.”

Billy’s heart fluttered. Home . “Yeah, me too.”

Chapter Text

With Neil in prison with no chance of parole, and Susan somewhat stabilized on anti-depressants and classes at the Hawkins’ Battered Women's Shelter, by Joyce’s recommendation, Max moved back home. She wasn’t happy about it at first, but Billy had convinced her that at least she was trying, and it would be good if Max tried too. She still visited the Billy at Steve’s place, nearly every day after school since Billy’s “incident.” Billy had grown closer to the whole party as a result, after numerous apologies and a fierce testament by not only Max but Jane too. And Billy could admit it, the little dweebs were growing on him.

In the few weeks leading up to Christmas, Steve’s parents finally decided to make an appearance. To both Billy and Steve’s surprise, they liked Billy, and had no problem letting him live in their guest room for the foreseeable future. Charming Steve’s mom wasn't very hard, Billy had that skill perfected by now. Steve’s dad however took a little bit more work. As expected, the whole gay thing came as a pretty big shocker to the Harrington's’, and caused obvious tension between the four. But Billy made significant efforts to find similar interests with the older man and once Billy managed to strike up a conversation about the inner mechanics of the flashy blue Camaro parked in the driveway, John Harrington and Billy got along just fine.

“You could learn a thing or two from this young man, Steven,” he had said one night after a few glasses of scotch and pleasant conversation. Billy couldn’t help but smirk as Steve rolled his eyes.

Once the initial awkwardness of their new relationship had settled with Steve’s parents, John even helped Billy secure a job working as a mechanic in one of the local body shops. Billy had promised Steve the morning he came home from the hospital he would stop hustling, and so far, he’d made damn good on his promise. Risking his life for a couple hundred dollars just didn't seem worth it if it meant he lost Steve in the process. But he was hurting for money these days, and he hated being dependent on Steve for cash, so the prospect of another job was a godsend.

On December 12th, 1984 Steve graduated with honors from Hawkins High and Billy was so fucking proud. Enough so that he humored Mrs. Byers when she made Jonathan take a thousand pictures of them after the ceremony. Billy hadn’t graduated this year due to the number of classes he’d missed and when given the option of repeating the year or dropping out, he took the latter. No reason to go to school if Steve wasn’t there.

An intimate graduation celebration was held at the Harrington’s that night and Billy helped Mrs. Harrington cook Steve’s favorite meal. The announcement that John and Maria would be home for Christmas this year had Steve’s head whipping up from his plate in a mixture of shock and elation.

“Wait, really?”

“I think we’ve been gone enough this year, don’t you John?” She asked Mr. Harrington and he agreed. Steve’s face was complete with a smile for the rest of the evening.


It’s the week before Christmas, though you wouldn't have known with the surprising lack of snow on the ground. Hawkins was having a freak winter according to Steve, but honestly Billy didn't mind the warmer temperatures, he hated the cold.  

It had been about a month since “the incident” and Billy was healing up nicely. His scars were still very visible and required Billy to actually button up his shirt which he hated with a passion, but it sure beat the stares he would have gotten. He had a plan to cover it soon with ink, but that took more money than he had at the moment, and there was something he needed to buy first. It took precedence.  

He had been saving since John got him the job for something he saw in the jewelry store several weeks ago. He couldn’t afford it then, but now with the steady income he could, and he couldn't think of a better time to buy it than for Christmas. When he stopped by the store on his way home from work, the man behind the counter recognized him instantly, a pleasant smile spreading across his elderly face.

“It’s good to see you again, son,” he said kindly and Billy felt himself genuinely returning the smile.

“Hey Bobby, it’s good to see you too. Do you still have that ring in stock? The one I asked about last week?”

He’d been in enough times in the last month to be on a first name basis with the man. That and he had been trying significantly hard to be less of an asshole all the time so he made a point to introduce himself.

“That one’s been quite popular this month, I suppose it’s because of the holiday right around the corner. Had to pull it off the shelf so no one would buy it before you.”

Billy’s jaw fell open in shock, blown away by the fact that someone would do something like that for him. “Y-You didn’t have to do that for me.”

The man shrugged like it was nothing, handing over the specially crafted piece of silver with a smile. “You looked like you had it in mind for someone special, I knew how much it meant to you.”

Billy felt his chest contracting at the kind gesture. “Yeah, it does. Thank you. I uh, remind me how much engraving costs?”

“Usually an additional $50,” He said and Billy’s face dropped a little, that was more than he had. “But for friends...” he said and Billy’s head raised to listen. “$25.”

“Thanks Bobby, I really appreciate it.”

Billy took his time driving home, the little box in his pocket and heart in his hands. He hoped Steve liked it, God he hoped Steve accepted it. Their relationship had been through hell and back, but he could honestly say now it was on the up and up. Billy had opted to work full time at the repair shop while Steve planned for college in January. “It was that or work with dad selling tires and mufflers for the rest of my life,” Steve had explained and Billy laughed at his boyfriend’s sneer of disgust at that prospect. As much as Billy loved cars, Steve did not. College was the best option for Steve’s future, even if he hated school with a fiery passion.

When Billy got home, the house was empty except for Steve. It was the elder Harrington's’ anniversary weekend and he remembered them saying something about driving to Illinois for some fancy dinner. They’d be back sometime in the morning, so that meant tonight he had Steve all to himself.

“Honey, I’m home,” Billy called as he entered the hallway, nostalgia hitting him and filling him with warmth. He heard Steve laugh and shout a greeting from the kitchen.

Billy followed Steve’s voice into the kitchen, watching with a smirk as Steve glared at the high end espresso machine. His dad had bought it for his mom as an early Christmas gift and she was over the moon with it. Steve however, was convinced it was the devil incarnate. They had the thing for a full week now and Steve still hadn’t managed to make a drink without burning himself.

“I fucking hate this thing,” Steve grumped, setting his empty mug on the counter harder than necessary. The minor temper tantrum made Billy laugh.

“Baby, it’s just a coffee maker,” he teased and Steve’s scowl turned to Billy instead.

“Alright if it’s so easy you do it!” Steve huffed exasperatedly and Billy rolled his eyes with a smile. His boyfriend was so dramatic.  

Billy took Steve’s place in front of the machine and replaced his mug under the spout. He topped the machine off with fresh cold water and swapped the old grounds with new before flipping the necessary switches and pressing the buttons in the correct order. The machine rumbled to life and began to brew. When the small light turned green signally the drink was ready, he moved the lever forward steadily, filling the mug almost to the brim with the hot brew. He could feel Steve’s irritation growing beside him, but he didn't care. It was too damn funny. When the drink was finished pouring, he raised it to his lips, blowing on it gently before handing it to Steve with a shit eating grin.

“Here you go princess.”

Steve’s eyes lowered to slits, “I hate you.” Billy let out a cackle.    

“No you don’t,” he grinned and Steve’s resolve broke, a tiny smile creeping at the corners.

“No, I don’t. Thank you,” he said, taking his drink and having a sip. “How was your day? You're home later than usual.”

“Had to replace some ladies breaks, took a little longer because we had to wait on parts.” It was a lie, but a little one. He didn't want Steve knowing about the gift, not yet at least.

“Well whatever the case, I’m glad you're home,” Steve said, leaning in to kiss Billy gently. When they parted, Steve pulled a face.

“What is it?”

“You smell like a lawn mower,” Steve said and Billy burst out laughing.

“Oh I’m so sorry Princess. Didn't mean to offend.”

Steve laughed and pushed Billy back when he tried to kiss him again. “Shower first, then you can kiss me.”

“You drive a hard bargain Stevie,” Billy teased, turning to head upstairs nonetheless. “Try not to burn yourself on the machine while I’m gone!” He shouted, cackling at the ‘fuck you Hargrove’ Steve shouted after him.

When he finished his shower, damp and in only a pair of jeans, Billy was an even bigger ball of nerves than when he entered. He knew what he wanted to say. He loved Steve. That part was obvious at this point. But it was more than that. Billy wanted more, wanted a future with Steve, but how do you say that to someone without scaring them the fuck off? They were still kids, stupid, young, irresponsible kids. What if Steve thought Billy was moving too fast? What if Steve didn’t want anything long term? Self doubt and worry sunk like a stone in his stomach, he couldn’t do this. This was a stupid idea.

When he opened the bathroom door, Steve was on their bed, dressed in just a pair of loose sweats, biting on his lip as his eyes scanned the pages of the book he was reading. He looked up when Billy opened the door and smiled, Billy couldn’t help returning it.

“Fucking finally,” he laughed before setting the book down and crossing the room to wrap his arms behind Billy's neck. Before Billy could dabble any further in self doubt, Steve was kissing him, making his heart leap in his chest like it did every time since their first kiss. He didn’t think he’d ever get tired of Steve. Not in a million years.

“I love you,” Steve smiled into the kiss, pushing back a few of Billy's damp curls before returning to his lips.

“Then marry me,” Billy mumbled against soft lips, almost hoping Steve hadn’t heard. His lips moved faster than his brain, but at least now it was said. He could always backpedal if Steve said no.

“Wait, hang on, what?” Steve asked, only pulling back enough to speak.

“You heard me.” Billy didn’t think he’d have the courage to ask it a second time. Fear of rejection was already building up in his throat and threatening to choke him.


“I know we can’t. Not yet at least,” Billy interrupted, “But if the world ever gets its head out of its ass, we can make it official. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Words we’re flying out of his mouth before he could stop them and he felt tears pricking at the corners of his eyes when Steve didn’t answer immediately. Here it comes, the rejection, the disgust, the laughter. It wouldn’t be long now.

“You...wanna marry me?” Steve asked and if Billy hadn’t looked up, he would have missed it. The self doubt painted all over Steve’s face. Steve wasn’t asking because he thought marriage was a stupid idea, he was asking because he didn’t believe Billy wanted him . It caused a literal ache in his chest to see that.

“Baby…” He had to show Steve he was serious. Billy was breaking apart from the kiss to dig through his jeans. The small grey box felt like it weighed twenty pounds, but even with shaky fingers he managed to get it open, taking out the small crafted ring inside.

“I wanted to ask you before, but I didn’t have enough saved for it.”

Steve looked between the ring and Billy at least twice before attempting to respond. It made Billy incredibly nervous and the overwhelming feeling of vulnerability was starting to pull him under. But then Steve was smiling and Billy’s fears ebbed.

“I’m old school Hargrove. You want to marry me you have to ask me right.”

The weight and fear escaped from Billy's chest like a rapidly deflating balloon as elated laughter filled the room. It was a solid minute before Billy could speak without chuckling but when he did, he moved to one knee, holding the ring out for his lover.

“Steve Harrington, my Pretty Boy, my love and my biggest pain in the ass, will you do me the honor of marrying me?”

A grin Billy hadn’t seen before broke out over Steve’s face and he was nodding, taking the ring from Billy's hand and kissing Billy harder than he ever had before.

“Yes, yes of course I will. God it took you forever to ask.”

The knowledge of their official relationship spread throughout their friend group like wildfire, but so far it had been nothing but positivity. They were good for each other, and in love. That’s all that mattered. Steve had made Billy and all around better and happier person and in turn Billy gave Steve the stability and love he’d been missing from his parents. No one could balk at that.

Max and Jane had been their biggest supporters by far, threatening to fight Mike, Lucas, and Dustin if they even thought about giving the boys shit about it. Will had initially stayed quiet during the whole exchange but found the boys privately later in the evening to wish his congratulations. Billy knew he liked that little Byers kid.

Nancy had been shocked but at least had the wherewithal not to look hurt. She didn’t deserve to feel hurt, not after what she did to Steve and Billy would tell her too if she ever expressed concern. Jonathan was neutral and silent as always, but Billy could care less what that weirdo thought. He already got the green light from Joyce and Will and majority rules.

The only people they hadn’t told were Steve’s parents, and honestly that was okay. The news of their one and only son being gay had thrown them for a loop and Billy didn’t want to push his luck too soon...

“Quit hogging the popcorn.”

Steve's slender finger poking his cheek broke Billy out of his inner monologue. It was Christmas Eve and he was sitting in the living room of the Harrington’s watching A Christmas Story   with Steve, Max, Jane, and Dustin. It was tranquil, and domestic, but Billy could honestly say for the first time in a long time he was completely happy.

“My bad, pretty boy. Here, you eat the rest.”

Steve had passed the bowl down to the kids instead, ignoring the food for Billy’s hand. He snuggled into Billy’s side comfortably, and Billy wrapped his other arm around Steve's shoulders protectively for the reminder of the movie.

If you had told Billy three months ago he would be dating and eventually engaged to one Steve Harrington, he wouldn’t have believed you. Probably laughed right in your face, after he punched your lights out that is. Because no one, not even the two of them could have ever seen it ending up like this. But you know how the saying goes, stranger things have happened.