Steve should’ve known.
As soon as he walked into the brewery with the Help Wanted: Assistant Brewer ad circled, he realized he should’ve known. It was called Bitchin’ Camaro Brewing after all, so what was he expecting?
He walked up to the office situated on the inside of the large, open industrial room, and there sat Billy Hargrove, ankled boots crossed on top of his desk, a shit-eating grin plastered across his face.
At Steve’s approach, Billy rose from his chair and leaned against the doorway, arms crossed. His hair was longer now -- no more mullet, all one length, and swept back into a loose ponytail. He wore a blue flannel shirt tucked into jeans with a white henley underneath. He still looked muscular and defined, but less boy-like. More grown into himself and -- Steve tried to prevent the words from forming in his brain but they still came anyway -- fucking sexy. “Huh. When I saw Steve Harrington on my books for this interview, the thought crossed my mind but was like there’s no fuckin way.”
Steve puffed a breath and fiddled with the ad in his hands. Might as well get this over with. “Yeah, well. Here I am.”
Confusion came over Billy’s features. “You - you’re-”
“Not in Chicago anymore, nope. Working for my dad wasn’t working out for me.”
His eyes, crystal blue, dropped down once over Steve’s body and he felt hot all over -- so self conscious of his pressed khakis and light blue button-up. “You know this isn’t some office job, right?”
“Yeah, yeah I know.”
“Because being an assistant brewer is some hard fuckin work, man.”
“I get it, yeah. I’m-” Steve stepped a little closer. Felt like an asshole right away, but figured he might as well stop tugging slowly at this bandaid. “I really hated corporate work. That bullshit I was doing there -- I couldn’t.” Steve took a breath and didn’t feel like playing all of his cards immediately. “It just wasn’t for me, okay?”
Billy licked his lips. His eyelashes were still ridiculous and long as he looked at Steve’s face. He pushed off of the doorframe and backed into his office. “Okay.” He gestured for Steve to follow. “Come in, Steve. Have a seat.”
Steve could never recall drinking at a job interview before, but he found himself with four pint glasses in front of him, each filled halfway. Billy insisted that Steve try each of his four flagship beers. “So why beer?” Steve asked, sipping the last one. It was straw-colored and bitter.
“Because I like beer, and I got tired of drinking this shitty Indiana beer, so I learned how to do it on my own. Got good at doing it and decided -- why not make a living off it?” He tapped his smooth metal ring against his glass. “Whatcha think about that one?”
“Bitter. But it still tastes, like, citrusy or something.”
Billy drank from his own glass and sat back in his chair. “It’s a pale ale. The hops give it that citrus flavor.”
Steve took another drink. Usually he didn’t like bitter stuff but this tasted pleasant. Light and summery -- like drinking the sun. “Mmm. I like it.” Bitter, but still delicious -- Steve looked over his glass at Billy. He looked fucking good and Steve started to feel a just little fuzzy. He wondered how strong this beer might be.
“You staying around here?” Billy asked.
“Yeah. I got a shitty little apartment in Crown Point.” Steve’s life right now consisted of boxes and crates and a mattress on the floor, dark brown cabinets and orange shag carpet -- far from how he grew up. He’d looked at the amber glass lamps dangling from gaudy chains from the ceiling and rubbed the back of his neck. Somehow felt more satisfied here -- eating out of a pizza box sitting on a light-brown, frayed secondhand love seat than he ever had eating sushi on a leather couch in a well-appointed condo in Chicago, feeling like he’d just sold his fucking soul.
He thought about how odd it was that he’d gleaned more pleasure from forty-five minutes catching up with Billy Hargrove over glasses of beer than he’d had in the last six years combined.
Billy grinned, little laugh lines at the corners of his eyes. “Huh. Steve Harrington, back in Indiana.” Billy’s head was cocked to the side, a little grin on his lips. “So, I guess if you wanna see what this is all about, the job’s yours. Stop by and see Shannon in the taproom office to hand over your info. My next brew day is Wednesday at 8a.m. Wanna start then?”
He tried to summon, once again, the part of himself that should’ve been offended at working for Billy Hargrove. The part of him that would’ve high-tailed it out the door the second he saw those blond curls through the office window.
None of those feelings came to the surface, though, even though he tried to muster it up. Instead he found himself reaching forward and grabbing Billy’s proffered hand. “See you Wednesday.”
Steve was halfway to the door when Billy called after him. “Hey Steve?”
Steve stopped and turned. “Yeah?”
He looked down at Steve’s shoes. “Wear some boots, man.”
Billy wasn’t lying, it turned out. It was intense work of handling 50 pound bags of grain, dumping, pouring, scrubbing and sanitizing huge kettles. Steve huffed and wiped the sweat from his brow as he wheeled the covered bin of spent grain out the back door around the corner. Billy said that before the sun rose, a local farmer would be there to pick up the grain for his cattle. In return, Billy got some of the best cuts of pork and beef this side of Indiana.
The smells that brewing beer created, though. The entire air around the building smelled almost like some cross between hot oatmeal and freshly- baked bread -- a comforting aroma that for some reason reminded Steve of Claudia Henderon’s kitchen, Claudia shoving a loaf of banana bread in his hands when he was eighteen years old, leaving after having dinner with her and Dustin. And as soon as he tore open the bag of hop pellets, which kind of looked like rabbit food, he could tell exactly where the citrus aroma came from in the pale ale he’d had a few days ago. He inhaled deeply before weighing and dumping them in.
There was a lull in work during the next batch -- a long part where hot water soaked up the grain’s flavor and color, so Billy took the time to show Steve the brewpub’s kitchen.
Steve bit into the bacon cheeseburger and silently thanked that farmer.
Billy sat across from him, digging into his own plate of food. “Ready to throw in the towel yet, pretty boy?”
Steve kicked Billy’s boot. “You’re still on pretty boy? Really?”
Billy winked. “I’ll stop saying it when it stops being true.”
“Don’t stop, Hargrove. I like it. Helps heal my bruised ego.” Steve was sure he meant to keep that one in his head and blamed his tired, sore muscles.
“Steve?” came a girl’s voice from behind.
Steve turned around. “Max? Jesus!” He dropped his food and pulled her into a hug. She stood before him as a tall, a young woman, red hair cut now into a bob and looking pretty in a black babydoll dress and boots.
“Billy said you started working here but I thought he had to be full of shit.”
Billy looked affonted. “Why would I lie about that?”
Max rolled her eyes. “Because you’re still-”
Billy moved faster than Steve could recall him ever moving, even during their basketball days, to scramble to his feet and slap a hand over her mouth. She protested from behind his hand as he ushered her back toward the door. “Yep, he’s glad to see you too, Max, seeya at home, buh bye.”
She jammed Billy’s wrist down long enough to say, “Come over for dinner tonight at six?”
Steve laughed. “You got it, kiddo. See you later.”
Max leaned forward to say something quietly to Billy and made her way out the door.
“She looks good!”
“Yeah. She’s cute and she knows it, little shit,” Billy said as he sat down again.
Steve kind of knew the answer to this already from talking to Dustin occasionally, but he asked anyway. “You guys still living together?”
Billy glanced up and a few beats passed as he looked over Steve’s face. “Neil fucked off to god knows where, then Susan shacked up with some other asshole and Max didn’t wanna deal with all that, so. So she chose to move into my place.”
“That’s cool, though. I’m glad she has you around, yknow?”
“Yeah well,” Billy ate the last bit of burger on his plate. “Sometimes things change.”
Steve imagined there would be a lot of story hidden behind those three words.
They took their plates to the kitchen and went back to the brewhouse. Several more hours passed and Billy showed Steve some of the science behind making beer. Steve was awful at science in school and expected all of this to fly right over his head, but somehow Billy explained it easily, and Steve found that he was actually interested in the entire process. Billy showed him how to log dates, quantities, and additions onto the charts, how to move liquid from one kettle to the other. Finally the day ended with the beer in a chilled fermentation tank, pitching a jar of yeast, and Billy stepped back and said, “time to let science make beer for us.”
Steve stood in Billy’s office as he jotted down his address and gave brief directions to his house, which was only about a 15 minute drive. “Thanks for your help today man.”
“I mean, you’re paying me, so it’s fine.”
“Right. Course I am.” Billy tapped the pen on his desk. “Also Max is gonna be thrilled about you coming over and probably won’t shut the fuck up about it for ages, so, thanks in advance for that too.”
“Yeah well. I’m happy to catch up with her.”
Billy smiled up at him, handed him another slip of paper with his brew schedule, and got down to checking over his books.
Steve walked out to his car and stretched, relieving the ache in his back, and pulled open his door handle. He sat quietly down quietly before he started the car as he thought about how happy he was to see Max.
And also how many times during their work day Billy’s shirt rode up to show a gratuitous amount of skin and toned muscles. How long Billy’s eyelashes looked when he glanced up at Steve with his head ducked. How blue his eyes looked when they stood outside, emptying the grain bin into the farmer’s pickup, as if they were made of some fantasy jewel tone.
“Fuck,” Steve muttered to himself, and started his car.
After dumping the contents of six different boxes, Steve finally found the correct hair care products and the outfit -- that one he had that he knew damn well looked sharp on him. It was casual, yet classy, a dark yellow top and charcoal slacks, and fit so nicely to his body that heads literally had turned when he wore it walking down the streets of Chicago.
Billy’s house was a small, three-bedroom bungalow situated on a corner in a small neighborhood. The porch was covered and had two chairs next to a little table. Before he’d knocked on the door, he had a sudden vision of seventeen-year-old Billy with a mullet sitting in that chair with Metallica blaring on his boombox, smoking a joint and mocking pedestrians walking by. Steve shook his head, smiling, and knocked.
Max’s face split into a grin when she opened the door. Steve reached down to give her a hug. “That sweater looks great on you,” she said quietly. “He’s gonna be suffering weeks.”
“Wait, what?” Steve said, but Billy was bounding up behind her and she stepped away with a little smile. She slipped back into the house while Billy stood in front of him, his stance awkward, hands jammed into his jeans pockets.
“Come on in man. You don’t need to hover in the door.” Billy said as he stepped back into the living room. “You want a beer?” He asked as he walked into the kitchen.
“Sounds good.” Steve paused and stood in the living room, which was simple and sparsely decorated with a framed poster of Dazed and Confused and a handful photos hanging on the wall. He stopped in front of them and started looking when Billy brought him a beer. The first picture was Billy with a beaming smile, standing in the middle of a large, open warehouse, the kettles covered in massive amounts of cellophane behind him. “Ah yeah. That was when I got approval for Bitchin’ Camaro.”
Steve stepped over to look at the next photo and recognized the moment right away -- probably the last time he saw Billy. In it, Billy had his arm flung around Max’s shoulders, smiling next to her as she proudly held up her diploma. “Max’s graduation. Well, I mean. That was when all of the kids graduated.”
Billy pointed to the one above it, where he sat on a motorcycle, face serious, wearing all leather. Steve thought that it was both hilarious and intensely sexy. “Too cool to smile, huh?”
“Fuck off, Harrington. That’s my Harley.”
“You gave up racing down the country roads to cruise, I guess. Gettin old?”
“Ugh, jesus. Why did I invite you over again?”
Steve leaned forward and said quietly, a few inches from Billy’s ear, “Because you think I’m pretty.”
“Mm. You’re right about that.” Billy looked at him through half-lidded eyes and licked his bottom lip.
“Guys!” Max shouted from the doorway to the kitchen. “Dinner’s ready!”
Steve started at her voice and straightened up, but Billy still watched him from under his eyelashes.
Max made them chicken parmesan with roasted green beans and garlic mashed potatoes. It had been ages since Steve had a home-cooked meal -- too many of his own came from cartons and boxes. Steve patted his belly. “Max, that was so good. Where’d you learn to cook like that?”
“Mrs. Sinclair,” Max said, and then Steve remembered a few times stopping in the Sinclairs’ house to pick up Dustin, and there was Max standing next to Mrs. Sinclair in the kitchen, helping her chop.
“Ah yeah. You still in touch with Lucas?”
“Yeah, I am. Dustin probably already told you that he’s at Notre Dame. He’s studying physics, and now I’m into computer programming, so he’s always calling to pick my brain.”
Steve took a drink of his beer. “He’s always been so into science so this is like, not surprising at all. But going into computers is a smart move, kiddo. Where are you going to school?”
“Purdue. I go back in the fall for one more semester and then I’m done, thank god.”
Steve finished the last of his beer. “That’s awesome, Max. I’m serious -- I’m really happy for you.”
“Thanks. I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without-” she stopped mid-sentence when Billy fixed her with a glare. She glared back at him twice as hard. “Without help.”
“Without scholarships.” Billy said, and it looked like he kicked her under the table. “She’s got scholarships.”
“And some other assistance,” a little smile came across her lips. “From an unnamed benefactor.”
Billy rolled his eyes.
Steve decided now was a good time to help clear the plates.
“Leave them, Steve. I’ll get em in the morning. Wanna go have a smoke outside?” Billy nodded toward the side door, down a couple of steps in the back of the kitchen.
“Sure,” Steve said, and followed him out the door.
The backyard was small but cozy -- they had a little patio set with an ashtray and a couple of strands of lights. Billy flicked them on as they walked by. “Seems like Max is doing great,” Steve said as he took a cigarette that Billy offered.
“Yeah. She’s a good kid. Glad she didn’t turn out like her shitty dad or Susan, jesus.”
“Mm.” Steve looked and Billy as he smoked, the lights overhead casting long shadows of his eyelashes on his cheeks. “How ‘bout you, Billy? How are you doing?” Steve didn’t want to explicitly bring up Billy’s rocky past, and hoped that his tone invited confidence.
Billy shrugged and paused for a moment before proceeding. “I’m -- I’ve come a long way. I mean, I struggled for a bit but got my shit together. Got this place, my bike. Got Max here. And the brewery. All things considered, pretty boy, I’d say things are pretty goddamn peachy.” Billy smoked his cigarette and looked up at Steve. “How’s life back in podunk, Indiana treating you?”
Steve huffed a laugh and took a drag. “That’s. Well. I guess it’s more complicated.”
Billy looked at Steve’s face, his eyes warm. “Can’t beat Chicago, I bet.”
Steve shifted. “Yes and no. I guess it’s just that I’m 27 and only now trying to figure what I wanna do. And the only thing that I’ve managed to piece together so far is that I don’t wanna be sitting around at some executive desk, and that I’d rather feel pain in my back from working hard than having thoughts my mind keeping me awake at night. Like there were ghosts in my brain all the time. That shit was,” Steve shook his head. “That was not for me.”
Billy leaned forward a bit. “You’ll figure it out. You’re smarter than you give yourself credit for. And. Fuck I can’t believe I’m gonna say this. I’m happy you’re back.”
Steve leaned forward as well, forearms resting on the patio table. “Now that wasn’t so painful to admit, now was it.”
Billy never broke eye contact as he reached forward a few inches, picked up Steve’s hand in his own, and kissed the backs of Steve’s fingers. “No. It wasn’t.” He set Steve’s hand down gently, and pushed up from the table.
Steve took his cue and said goodnight to Max, then goodnight to Billy, who stood silhouetted in the front door.
Later that night, back in his apartment, Steve thought about those Billy’s lips against his fingers as he stroked himself, imagining it was Billy’s hand. Thinking of how Billy looked at him.
Two weeks passed by, and Steve settled in to his new routine at the brewery. Billy would pull up on his Harley every day, grab a cup of coffee, and they’d get to work. Steve spent his hours there learning about grains, hops and yeast and what each one of them added to the beer, how sugars are converted into alcohol because of the yeast, and about how the kegging and bottling process worked on their non-brew days. Of course, he always enjoyed the food from the brewpub’s kitchen.
The kiss to Steve’s fingers never did come up -- instead, they fell into an easy friendship at work -- or working friendship. Steve wasn’t really sure what to call it, but he enjoyed it for what it was. Billy was still an asshole at times, but a friendly asshole who was more amenable to sharing friendly banter, still competitive at heart.
Billy invited Steve to hang out one day after they’d finished all of their work and have a beer. One of the big perks of working here was the free beer -- a pint after a shift always tasted like gold after a day of lifting and sweating. The taproom was already closed, so it was just the two of them in the building.
The sun was shining that day, cool for the end of summer, so they decided to drink out back with the large rolling door raised. They sat on the steps and Billy clinked his glass to Steve’s. “To a good start.”
“Cheers to that,” Steve said, and took a gulp of his beer -- a hefeweizen, Billy had called it -- it was hazy and tasted like banana, clove and bubblegum. An easy one to throw back.
“Any idea what you’re gonna call that porter?” Steve asked. It was dark in color when they brewed it earlier, and Billy said the final product would be dark brown and taste of malty sweetness with hints of chocolate, caramel, and breadiness.
“Yeah. Pretty Boy Porter,” Billy said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
Steve felt his face flushing. “Really? Yeah?”
Billy’s gaze lingered. “Brown and sweet, baby boy.”
Steve ducked his head and smiled down at his pint glass, and Billy looked forward, out over the field that stretched behind the brewery.
“Wanna come over tonight?” Steve asked. “I can’t cook like Max, but I’m killer at ordering pizza. And I rented Lethal Weapon 3.”
Billy leaned over and planted a soft kiss on Steve’s cheek. “It’s a date.”
The hour and a half after work was an intense battle with emptying boxes, putting shit away, grooming, and clothing. Finally Steve felt prepared, and as he was placing his last lock of his hair in just the right position, there was a knock at his door.
When Billy came in, he was wearing a white button-down that opened up all the way to his stomach, jeans, and just the faintest bit of black eyeliner. Steve gaped for several seconds before Billy cleared his throat. “Are we going inside, or-?”
“Oh, fuck. Sorry. Yeah come in!” Steve stepped aside and showed Billy around.
“Here’s the kitchen, straight out of 1972.”
Billy ran his hand along the countertop. “Harvest yellow counters, olive green appliances. Never seen anything so, like, painfully 70s since the Brady Bunch Variety Hour.”
Steve ushered him into the living room. “I didn’t think they made orange shag carpets anymore, but here we are.”
Billy toed at the matted carpet. “Bit of a stretch to call this shag.”
“Classy, I know. I like to live the high life,” Steve said as he handed Billy a beer.
Billy took a sip and sat on the sofa. “We all gotta start somewhere.”
“Yeah. And I’m glad I’m starting here.” Steve stretched his hand across the sofa, closer to Billy’s.
A few moments passed as Steve looked into Billy’s eyes, the black eyeliner applied just enough to bring out the blue of them. “You should probably get that,” Billy said.
There were a few sharp knocks at the door, and it dawned on him that they must’ve already been knocking. Steve scrambled up to open the door on a bored-looking teenager holding his pizza. “Sorry ‘bout that,” Steve said as he handed over a twenty.
“Whatever man,” the kid said.
“Keep the change.”
Steve shut the door and took the box to the kitchen, grabbing some plates and napkins.
“Kids these days,” Billy said as he loaded a couple slices on a plate.
Steve turned to look at him. “Are you serious right now? Do you not remember what you were like ten years ago?”
Billy glanced up at Steve’s hairline and touched the fine scar that the plate had left behind. From the time in the Byers’ kitchen when their antagonizing finally came to blows. “Yeah. Still haunts me.”
Suddenly they were quiet and still.
Steve leaned over to catch Billy’s lips in a kiss. Billy inhaled sharply but still returned the kiss, setting down his plate to place a hand on the side of his face, his lips gentle.
Billy pulled back and placed his forehead to Steve’s, has hand sliding down to touch Steve’s jaw. “I’ve wanted that for a really long time.”
Steve stole one more kiss. “Me too. Ever since you eyefucked me in the showers senior year.”
“Pretty boy like you? I couldn’t help myself.” Billy kissed him again, and they picked up their pizza.
It only took forty minutes for the progression to happen during Lethal Weapon 3 -- holding hands, scooting closer, Steve’s lips on Billy’s neck, and then finally kissing hot and heavy on the sofa, the movie playing unwatched while Billy’s tongue slipped past Steve’s lips.
Minutes ticked by and Steve couldn’t seem to pull his lips from Billy’s, kissing over and over, changing the angle, letting Billy’s tongue into his mouth then pushing his tongue into Billy’s, licking, fisting his hands in Billy’s shirt but then moving them up into Billy’s hair, roaming over his chest, wanting to touch all of him, feel everything at once and it felt a little overwhelming so he pulled back, breathing heavily. His heart was pounding and his jeans were far too tight with his erection clearly outlined next to his fly.
Billy leaned over and pressed his lips to Steve’s neck. His fingers toyed with the button of Steve’s jeans. “Can I, uhm.”
“Yeah,” Steve said. “Yeah I. Fuck, Please.”
Billy undid Steve’s zipper and slid his hand flat down over Steve’s lower belly, running his fingers through the trail of hair leading down from his belly button before sliding over to touch the length of Steve’s cock. He ran his fingers up and down his cock at first and Steve pumped his hips, unable to stop himself, not particularly wanting to show how eager he was but when Billy wrapped his hand around it, Steve couldn’t help the Jesus, Billy, that escaped his lips.
Steve leaned over to kiss Billy, sloppy, feeling on fire with Billy’s hand on his dick, feeling remorse that he went to Chicago in the first place -- that he could’ve been here, having this all along, and Billy stroked him quickly now, thumb running over the slit every now and then. He felt the tension building in his groin and he knew he wouldn’t last long -- knew it would happen at any moment.
“Gonna come,” Steve managed to get out, and then Billy ducked his head and wrapped his mouth around the head of Steve’s dick, stroking and sucking and that was it -- Steve spilled into Billy’s mouth, and it felt like he was shooting forever until Billy pulled back and pressed little kisses to Steve’s cock before pulling his boxers back up.
Steve pulled Billy up to his lips and kissed him, little kisses as he calmed his breathing and came back down to Earth. Suddenly he didn’t feel like being in the living room for what he wanted to do to Billy and tugged him up, stumbled down the hall as they kissed, didn’t quite make it to the bedroom before Steve pressed Billy back against the hallway wall and fell to his knees.
“Fuck,” Billy hissed when Steve pulled out Billy’s cock, admiring how pretty it looked, hard and flushed pink, pointing up at him, twitching in his fingers. He took a moment to pay attention to Billy’s balls -- sucking them, licking them before licking a long path up the hard length and sucking it down into his mouth.
Billy’s hand found its way into Steve’s hair as Steve started to bob his head, savoring the heavy weight on his tongue. It had been a while since he’d had his mouth on a cock, but it all came back to him, licking the underside, feeling the slide over his tongue as he took it down, the burning stretch of his jaw, that moment of bliss when he could take it far enough so that his nose was buried in the dark blond curls at the base of Billy’s cock, pausing for a few seconds, long enough to hear Billy curse and run his fingers through Steve’s hair, then pulling back and finding that sweet spot where he could suck comfortably on the length.
Billy started to tense, his brows furrowed when Steve looked up, and he knew Billy had to be close, so he teased the underside a little more, sucked a little harder, and when Billy’s eyes opened and he looked down at Steve, he started pulsing, coming over Steve’s tongue, and Steve swallowed. Steve knew that the image was hot as fuck -- and maybe it was wishful thinking, but he sincerely hoped it would be the first in a line of many blowjobs to come.
“Baby boy, you’re gonna wreck me,” Billy said when Steve stood. He pulled Steve in for a long kiss -- let his lips linger as his hands cupped Steve’s face.
From his peripheral vision, Steve could see the glow of the TV down the first couple feet of the hallway, the movie having long since finished. Steve led Billy to his room -- not too far away since it was a shitty, tiny, one-bedroom apartment, and they stripped down to their underwear, sated and flopping down lazily. Steve found himself playing with Billy’s hair, rolling the curls around his fingers while Billy talked about anything and nothing -- TV shows. His bike. How he totalled the Camaro when he was 23.
Steve opened up about the details of the job, how stressed he was, how he went through motions of things he had to do and say and it almost felt like an out-of-body experience -- like he was watching himself from above as he made a shady deal and tried to live with himself at night. Billy kissed his temple though -- pulled Steve on his chest, running his fingertips up and down Steve’s arm to bring forth goosebumps. Billy reminded Steve that he’s not that person anymore.
By the time exhaustion came over them and they fell asleep, the sun was spilling through the window and the birds started chirping outside.
A month later, when Pretty Boy Porter was released, the five employees of Bitchin’ Camaro Brewing held a small tasting party, letting customers sample it -- most of them purchasing a six pack before they walked out the door. Billy and his office manager Susan called the entire event a success, glad that Bitchin’ Camaro’s bottom line got a hefty boost that day.
When the last customer left and the other employees clocked out and left, Billy and Steve sat out back again, the rolling door hoisted up. In the chill of the autumn night they clinked their pint glasses together, enjoying the porter as Steve threw his arm around Billy’s shoulders. They cuddled close together, made plans to throw a Halloween party at Billy’s house -- invite the kids.
With Billy resting against his chest, their fingers intertwined, and the taste of malty sweet porter on his tongue, finally, Steve thought, he’d found his place in the world.